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The three heats for the Victoria Derby were held tonight at the harness racing meeting at Ballarat and Mark Purdon produced the champion New Zealand three year old Lazarus to throw down the gauntlet to the locals with an outstanding win in quick time in his heat. Heat One Even though he had drawn poorly on the second line for Mark Purdon behind the rank outsider Designer Arden, Lazarus was sent out a $1:30 favourite in the first Victoria Derby heat on the strength of winning ten from twelve in his homeland and nearly $500,000. Allowed to settle four back in the running line by Purdon early, Lazarus looped the field to sit outside the leader Zee Dana and Nathan Jack with just over a lap to go. Purdon never applied any real pressure down the back straight but past the 400 metres he got serious and Lazarus quickly shot to the front on straightening and ran away for a super impressive win with Purdon hardly moving in the bike. Zee Dana stuck on gamely for second in front of Born To Rocknroll who did plenty early and never flinched in holding on for third. Can't Refuse was another to do plenty of work early and hold on for fourth and qualify for the final. The Bettor's Delight colt paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9. Heat Two Heading into the second heat, three horses stood out from the pack on paper and although the three of them had challenging runs in a fast run heat, they still filled the first three placings at the finish. Greg Sugars burned Don't Hold Back off the gate from barrier six to grab an early lead but was immediately challenged by Three Ways and Kate Gath who assumed the lead after 600 metres after a tussle with Don't Hold Back that never got too serious. With a lap to go Brallos Pass and Nathan Jack moved up into the death seat but applied no real pressure until passing the 400 metres mark. Mastering Three Ways on straightening, Brallos Pass looked the winner but Dont Hold Back and Greg Sugars eased out from the trail and flew late for a narrow but impressive victory. Brallos Pass lost no admirers in just going under after sitting parked the last lap while Code Black flew late to grab third from a very game Three Ways late in the piece. The Courage Under Fire colt trained by Mario Attard paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.6, a mile rate of 1:56.7 with closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27.4 which was only .4 of a second slower than Lazarus ran in heat one. Heat Three Again on paper three horses stood out for us on exposed form and they duly ran the trifecta but certainly not in the order that everyone expected. Kingofthestars and Nathan Jack lead with ease from barrier three but the early pace was moderate as several of the poorly drawn horses moved from the back to get handy. The West Australian raider Sprinter was parked for a couple of hundred metres before receiving a trail on the back of the very smart Power Of Red and Amanda Turnbull who took up the death seat. The pace really went on from the half in this heat with Kingofthestars brushing down the back in 27.7 but Power Of Red and Sprinter were still in touch as they turned for home. Just when it looked like Kingofthestars would prevail, Sprinter flew late to grab the favourite for a very smart win. Kingofthestars was slightly disappointing in being beaten after having his own rules in front while Power Of Red stuck on gamely after doing plenty mid race. Iceenothink was a fair way from the first three in fourth which earned him a spot in the Victoria Derby final. The Mach Three gelding trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.2 and 27.5 Sprinters winning time was the same as Lazarus ran in winning heat one. Harnesslink Media

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green is having a year to remember with his juveniles with three of his barn having designs on the Young Gun Series Final in early March. Vasari 1:56.4, a son of Art Major has impressed all season while his Mach Three stablemate Alta Intrigue 1:56.6 with two wins from three starts has looked the equal of any two year old racing in the country. The third of Ray's team eying up a Young Guns final appearance is Spring Campaign and the son of Courage Under Fire has done enough to date to suggest he will be a major player on March 11th. Spring Campaign was a gutsy second on debut, running second to stablemate Alta Intrigue off a 55.9 last 800 metres but a couple of minor issues have kept him from the track since. However tomorrow night Spring Campaign steps out for his second start at the races in the last at Alexandra Park but it is not against his fellow two year olds. " The two old race never got off the ground but he needs a run so we are taking on the older horses." " It is not ideal but you need to keep ticking them over with a view to having them ready for the final so your hands are tied a bit, "Ray told Harnesslink this afternoon. Spring Campaign is also going through a bit of a growth spurt at the same time which has Ray not rushing things at this point. " We will know a lot more after the race tomorrow night but he is going through a growth spurt at the moment which he seems to be coping really well with." " His work has been super leading into tomorrow night and he really should be winning the race," Ray said. Ray is facing the same problem with Vasari and Alta Intrigue as he has with Spring Campaign in that finding suitable races to keep them ticking over is not easy. " Alta Intrigue is classed as a C2 horse by the handicapping system which means I have to race older horses to get a run which is crazy." " Vasari is classed as a C1 so he is not much better off and both of them are disadvantaged in where they can start." "I am not going to line them up against the C1 and C2 pacers as it would be too hard on a two year old with all the big races still to come," Ray said. Ray has put together a great record over the years with his juveniles but in this years trio, he really looks to have horse power to take out the Young Guns Final. Harnesslink Media

It was a big night for multiple wins at Newcastle on Saturday night and while local horseman Mark Callaghan won three races, the harness racing meeting was dominated by Ebenezer trainer Colin Edwards as he prepared four winners - the first time he has achieved the feat in his career. All of the winners trained by Edwards were driven by Sydney reinsman Michael Towers and owned or part owned by Ray Cahill. "It was a big night for the stable and it was very special for all of us, I have trained a treble before but that was many years ago when they still raced at Richmond," Edwards said. "A lot of the credit must go to Michael (Towers) he drove them really well and while you can go to the races thinking you have a good chance in a few races it all comes down to the performance of your driver." The final winner on the night for Edwards was six-year-old first starter Behindthebushbarry and the effort on debut was satisfying for the trainer. "We went to the sales and Ray (Cahill) purchased a Courage Under Fire youngster and the next year we noticed the mare had another yearling for sale but this time by Holmes Hanover. "I told Ray he better go buy the Holmes Hanover because we wouldn't want to see it win ten and the Courage Under Fire colt not win a race, so he did." The son of Courage Under Fire was named Aimfire, he had three starts and failed to run a place while Behindthebushbarry spent a long time in the paddock. "There was nothing wrong with him, we just left him in the paddock and I was very happy to see him win at his first start." Reinsman Michael Towers has driven three winners at a meeting on two previous occasions but arrived at Newcastle on Saturday and thought he was in for a good night. "I've just come back from a holiday in Perth and Saturday night paid for the trip it was great," Towers said. "I thought they all had good chances, Courtsinsession really impressed me though, he is a giant of a horse and when he learns what racing is all about I think he might be a really nice horse." Courtsinsession is a son of Art Major and was having his first start in a race. "For a big horse he moves quite quickly, he still has a bit of maturing to do but Col does a great job with his horses and he deserves a night like Saturday." Towers enjoyed having owner Ray Cahill in attendance which added to the enjoyment for the group. "Ray was really happy, he was there and I don't think he had ever had more than a double in one night so you can understand why he was pretty excited." "Col is thinking about taking Rodanthe Nights to the heats of the Inter City Pace and the rest of them might wait until Menangle starts racing again." Greg Hayes

Since the mid 1990s, the harness racing breeding scene in Australasia has been home to a resurgence in the Direct Scooter siring line and it shows no signs of tapering off anytime soon. From Direct Scooter line stallions such as  In The Pocket to Christian Cullen to Courage Under Fire to Mach Three, breeders have enjoyed access to some of the best siring talent available. Last years results announced the arrival of another descendant of Direct Scooter in Australasia in Somebeachsomewhere who had a sensational season down under with the brilliant Menin Gate and Waikiki Beach who each dominated their respective age groups in Australia. Somebeachsomewhere has dominated age group racing in North America in three of the last four years and is currently over $1,300,000 ahead of Bettor's Delight on the two year old siring charts this year. With Somebeachsomesomewhere only available via frozen semen and in limited supply, the market was wide open for a well performed son of Somebeachsomewhere to stand in Australasia. Alabar Bloodstock have taken the bull by the horns and have brought in the very well credentialed Sunshine Beach 1:47.8 ($977,438) From the first crop of Somebeachsomewhere in 2010, Sunshine Beach is from a very strong maternal family which keeps pumping out those elite level horses. The dam of Sunshine Beach is the unraced Artsplace mare Light Up. Apart from Sunshine Beach, Light Up has also produced horses of the quality of Safe Harbor 1:50.1 ($549,180), Warrawee Flare 1:50.3 ($524,095) and Western Moonlight 1:52.3 ($366,091 while one of her daughters in Warrawee Cammy has already produced Machal Jackson 1:50.1 ($562,715) The grand-dam is the smart Jate Lobell mare Lights On 1:54 (318,777) who has left eight winners at stud including the very smart two year old After Life 1:51.4 ($659,328) The third dam is the outstanding Flying Bret racemare Enroute 1:53.4 ($753,768) who apart from Lights On has also produced Take Flight 1:53.2 ($602,443), Flight Plan 1:50.1 ($394,251) and Bedeviled 1:55.3($326,212) It is a pedigree full of winners with several $500,000+ earners close up in the pedigree so Sunshine Beach lacks nothing in the breeding department. Sunshine Beach on the track was hindered throughout his career by kidney and bladder stones but when free from pain he produced some outstanding performances. At two, he had a handful of starts, winning in 1:52.2, running second in the $110,000 Nassagaweya Stakes and having a best placed time of 1:50.4 in his heat of the Metro Pace. Treated extensively in the break between his two and three year old seasons, Sunshine Beach came out at three and showed what a high class colt he was. His best performance was undoubtedly in the $500,000 Battle Of Brandywine Final at Pocono where he beat the champion colt Captaintreacherous in a life time best of 1:47.4 Other notable performances at three included the $284,000 Progress Pace at Dover Downs in 1:50.3, a Bluegrass Stakes win at the Red Mile in 1:48.2 plus two placings behind Captaintreacherous in time honoured classics. One was a second placing in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Final by a neck in 1:49.2 and the other was a third in the $635,000 Meadowlands Pace Final in 1:48.4. Sunshine Beach faced the starter 20 times between May and December at three for eight wins and eight placings and over $900,000. In fourteen of those twenty starts Sunshine Beach broke the 1:50 barrier. The kidney and bladder stone issues came back to haunt Sunshine Beach in a big way at four and his form wasn't what it should have been. After he was retired, Sunshine Beach went on the operating table to remove the most humongous golf ball sized kidney stone you will ever see. For Sunshine Beach to have raced as well as he did with that stone annoying him every inch of the way is a testament to how genuine and tough he was. Standing in Canada in his first year at stud in 2015, Sunshine Beach was very well received by breeders, covering 135 mares at $5,000. With Alabar having set his fee at $4,000 in Australasia, Sunshine Beach would seem great value for money and it would surprise us if he didn't serve as least as many mares down under as he did in Canada during this past breeding season there. Harnesslink Media.

Smolda's sizzling speed has made his issues of last season a distant memory. The rejuvenated pacer seemingly jogged home in a 53.1-second last half to win the harness racing $50,000 Group II Ashburton Flying Stakes on Labour Day. The win was in stark contrast to this time last year when trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were scratching their heads trying to keep him on track before he was eventually scratched from the cup. Phil and Glenys Kennard, who race Smolda with Neil Pilcher and Markus Kirkwood, said the Flying Stakes win was special given the issues of last season. "We didn't know if we would be racing him again after last year," Phil Kennard said. Monday's one-length win has firmed the 7-year-old son of Courage Under Fire into $3 favouritism for the $750, 000 Group I New Zealand Trotting Cup on November 10. The only question mark around Smolda would be, that in his two runs back for a strong second in the Canterbury Classic and the Flying Stakes win, he has done no work and picked up a perfect trip on both occasions. But Purdon is not concerned. "He's tough. "If he has to do some work in the cup I don't think it will worry him one bit," Purdon said. Purdon was so happy with Smolda's effort in Ashburton he is toying with the idea of skipping the cup trial and going straight into the big dance on the second Tuesday in November. "I'm not sure there's much improvement in him but if he stays where he is I think he'll be competitive," a typically humble Purdon said. Given the time of 2:55.1 for the 2400m stand and the last quarter of 26.1, Tony Herlihy was happy with the effort of Ohoka Punter who moved up to sit parked at the 1200m mark and attacked Tiger Tara for the lead down the back straight. Ohoka Punter stuck on gamely until Smolda breezed on by in the final 200m. Ricky May was super impressed with Mossdale Conner who got a run up the passing lane to finish three-quarters of a length behind Ohoka Punter in third. Tiger Tara faded to fourth after leading for the last lap but trainer Geoff Dunn and Gerard O'Reilly were happy with the run that saw him finish two lengths behind Smolda. Dunn is another tipping he will miss the cup trial. Zac Butcher gave Sky Major a big tick of approval after the three-time Harness Jewels winner made ground late to finish fifth, three lengths off Smolda. The movers in the cup rankings when they are updated on Tuesday are likely to be Choise Achiever and No Doctor Needed but neither will progress too far given they only beat two runners ahead of them. Their runs may be good enough to overtake Belkmyster, who was in 15th spot before the race. John Dunn was rapt with the effort of No Doctor Needed, who lost ground at the start but recovered well to catch the field and hit the line strongly. Lancewood Lizzie, who was in in ninth in the cup rankings before Ashburton, is likely to fall a few spots after finishing eighth and Bit Of A Legend will likely drop after being 12th before the Flying Stakes but finishing 10th. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of  Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

Tonight at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway, we will see the debut performance of the very smart three year old, Freedom Fighter. A son of Courage Under Fire, Freedom Fighter went through the 2014 New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch where he changed hands for $48,000 The vendor Brian West of Studholme Park had a lot of time for the colt and arranged to be part of the syndicate that was formed to race the horse by the purchaser Robert Dunn. Freedom Fighter had half a dozen starts at trials and workouts at two against some of the best two year olds around and was always competitive but was put aside to mature Now a three year old, Freedom Fighter has been burning up the trial tracks in Canterbury lately with his last effort at Rangiora especially noteworthy when he came home in 56 and 26.5 for an easy 6 1/2 length win. Tonight on his debut he will face some really nice horses such as Articulight, Imola and Linton Shard but he looks to have all the attributes to make a winning debut.  Driver John Dunn has a good opinion of Freedom Fighter. " He is a really nice horse and I think he will be hard to beat tonight." " His run at the last workouts was very good and I'm going in pretty confident," John said. Any good horse that is running sectionals like Freedom Fighter has at the trials recently always attracts the attention of the bloodstock agents and it is no different here. " There has been quite a bit of interest in him but he hasn't been sold at this stage." " The agents are keen to watch him run tonight and then make a decision," John said. With the aid of barrier one, Freedom Fighter looks very hard to beat here in what is shaping as his only start for the Dunn barn Harnesslink Media  

This years mixed age sale at the Shepparton harness racing complex yesterday (Sunday) reinforced the view that it is a tough market out there at the moment. Sixty nine of the cataloged horses went through the ring yesterday but 22 (31.8%) were passed in which must have disappointed both the auctioneers and the vendors. The first horse to stir a bit of emotion from the bidders was lot 12 which was a two year old filly by Courage Under Fire from a Holmes Hanover half sister to nine winners including Allwoods Chief ($465,497) She was knocked down to the bid of Trevor Cottrell for $20,000 which was the equal top price for the whole sale. Shortly after lot 16 had the bidders active again with a three quarter sister to lot 12 attracting a lot of interest. The two year old filly by Courage Under Fire was from a Even Odds half sister to Allwoods Chief ($465,497) but failed to sell, being passed in for $10,000. It took more than another twenty lots before the bidders got fired up again. Lot 37 was the smart Modern Art racemare More Than Alright 1:58.6 ($45,369) who is a daughter of the very smart Imported Cam Fella mare Out Of Sight 1:52 ($200,142) who is a half sister to the champion Volez Hanover 1:49.4 ($1,690,543) Sold as either a racemare or a broodmare, More Than Alright surprisingly only made $10,000 and was knocked down to the bid of Garry Hawthorn The next lot after that was the half sister by Badlands Hanover to More Than Alright in Vista Bella 1:57.9 ($110,291) In foal to the champion sire Art Major, Vista Bella went home with Bruce Dumesny after he bid $20,000 In the yearling section, two youngsters shared the top price of $9,000  Lot 58 was a Majestic Son colt from the racewinning Holdonmyheart mare Closetomyheart from the family of the top New Zealand trotting filly French Accent who was sold to Nathan Jack. The other top priced yearling was lot 72 who was a Mach Three colt from the very speedy Artiscape mare in Room With A View 1:56 ($45,369) who was purchased by the Racerpacer group. This sale has the potential to be a really good clearing sale for breeders and trainers but it is not quite there yet. Check sale results here Harnesslink Media

As this weekends Australasian Breeders Crown finals loom large, here at Harnesslink we thought we would do a runner by runner preview of each of the finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. First up is the $84,000 two year old trotting fillies final 1) High Gait  (Muscles Yankee)     Starts 8   -   Wins 7   -   Seconds 1   -   Thirds 0     Stakes  $100,631   High Gait has had an outstanding season winning seven from eight and being beaten a nose in her other start. Beat the boys on Redwood day and from this draw with her gait speed it is hard to see her beaten.  Great manners just add to the impression that she is nigh on unbeatable from barrier 1 2) The Cooler  (Majestic Son)   Starts 4   -   Wins 0   -   Seconds 0   -   Thirds 3   -   Stakemoney $8,200 The Cooler is yet to go a bad race in her brief four start career with three thirds and a fourth. Hard to see her troubling two or three here on class but does things right which is a big plus in two year old trots. Throw in for trifectas and first fours 3) Smile Smile Smile  (Angus Hall)   -   Starts 3  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $7493 Promising filly with a good draw but needed to draw inside High Gait to be a chance to beat her. Still on the up and looks a major player her. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 4) A Nip Will Do (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 14  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $7,178 Thereabouts in a lot of her starts this season but it is hard to see her playing a major part here. Several runners appear to have the wood on her in this race going on past performances. Not for us. 5) Jay Bee Flex (Federal Flex)  Starts 6  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $4363 Last run at Maryborough was her best run this season, finishing a close up third to Smile Smile Smile. However the depth of this field is far stronger and the draw doesn't help either. Not for us. 6) Liava (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 4  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1403 Has failed to really impress in her four starts todate. Hard to see on exposed form how she is a player here. Not for us 7) Parisian Chic (Love You)  Starts 6  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,658 A real winning chance if she had just drawn well instead of the outside of the front line. Really nice second two starts back to Missandei and has won three of her last four. Major player here but more a trifecta and first four chance due to the draw                                                                                                                         SECOND LINE 8) Missandei (Angus Hall)  Starts 7  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $76,530 The obvious danger to High Gait  having drawn on her back and seems to have improved even further since her Harness Jewels win. Only filly in this field to have beaten High Gait but her fortunes may depend on how much mid race pressure the favourite is put under. Can win this but does need a few things to go her way. Clear second pick. 9) Cobbler Creek (Great Success)  Starts 9  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $6438 Has won a race this season which is more than some here. Just appears to be be a length or two off the good ones in this race Not for us. 10) Sky Majesty (Skyvalley)  Starts 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $12,540 Has really come solid in her last four starts and has definitely improved lately. Needed a good front line draw to help her chances so from three second line she faces a real challenge. First four player at best for us from the draw. 11) Fear Not (Skyvalley)  Starts 12  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $2935  ( Emerg 1) The emergency for the race and on disclosed form would appear to be out of her depth. Not for us 12) Social Fireball (Courage Under Fire)  Starts 7  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,676 Pacing bred filly that has developed into a lovely trotter. Hard to fault her last five runs with her second in the $60,000 Vicbred Trot in smart time over the distance of 2240 metres a good pointer. Appeals to us as a trifecta and first four player even from the draw. 13) Mizurri (Skyvalley)   Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1,038 Very inexperienced filly and this looks a huge jump in class to us. Throw in the draw and it looks like mission impossible. Not for us. SELECTIONS High Gait from the draw looks very hard to beat. Should lead and should win Missandei is the clear second pick and if High Gait is eyeballed in front during the race, she is a chance to upset the favourite up the passing lane. For trifecta and first four takers, throw in The Cooler, Smile Smile Smile, Parisian Chic and Social Fireball. Harnesslink Media

Pinjarra harness racing trainer Michael Brennan has completed arrangement for exciting gelding Nathans Courage to travel to Victoria to contest the rich Breeders Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings. Brennan will accompany Nathans Courage on a flight from Perth next Tuesday week and Chris Voak will drive the son of Courage Under Fire in a semi-final of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat the following Saturday night. Brennan is hopeful that Nathans Courage, a stylish all-the-way winner at Gloucester Park at his only two starts, will qualify to run in the $288,000 final at Melton on Sunday August 30. "He should go well," Brennan said. "He's a lovely little horse, a professional racehorse and he's so relaxed." Two of Nathans Courage's most serious rivals appear to be Our Waikiki Beach and Zee Dana. Our Waikiki Beach, trained by New Zealander Mark Purdon, is unbeaten at his ten starts and has amassed $324,081. He sped over the final quarters in 27.1sec. and 27.8sec. and rated 1.56.3 when he scored a four-length victory in a heat of the Breeders Crown over 2300m at Menangle on July 21. He won the group 1 Australian Pacing Gold, covering the 1609m journey in 1.54.3 at Menangle in April and he won the 1609m NSW Breeders Challenge final in 1.53.7 at Menangle in June. Zee Dana notched his second win from three starts when he sat behind the pacemaker and finished strongly along the sprint lane to win a heat of the Breeders Crown at a 1.58 rate over 2190m at Shepparton on Tuesday night. Ken Casellas

Nathans Courage, a typically small son of former champion pacer Courage Under Fire, looks set to give punters a flying start to the harness racing meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the opening event, the 2130m Taylor Sulky Repairs Pace. The two-year-old, prepared at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, made an auspicious debut when he set the pace and won by almost two lengths from El Hombre, his only rival in a qualifying heat of the Breeders Crown at Gloucester Park on Monday. He sprinted over the final quarter in a sparkling 27.3sec. Reinsman Chris Voak was impressed with the gelding, saying: "He's got potential and there's plenty of upside. I think he will have benefitted from his run on Monday." "He's drawn barrier four on Friday and that's the best of the main chances." "He showed good gate speed on Monday and I'll be looking to replicate that performance." "I'll be heading forward to take the lead; that's my game plan and I think that Mouse (Brennan) will agree." "This is a jump up in grade and will test him." "But he's up to the challenge." "He did it quite comfortably on Monday and I didn't pull the ear plugs or really get stuck into him." "He's got a quick quarter and can run a good half." "I don't expect too much pressure, but maybe Browny (Colin Brown) might have a crack with Franco Rayner." Franco Rayner, an effortless all-the-way winner at his Australian debut, over 2185m at Pinjarra on July 13, finished seventh behind Sprinter in the Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park four nights later when he started from the back line and was always well back. Franco Rayner will start out wide at barrier eight on Friday night. He dashed over the final 400m in 28.6sec. when an easy winner in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. "He handled Pinjarra a lot better than he handled Gloucester Park," Brown said. "He's not a big horse, but he wasn't comfortable in the run at Gloucester Park." "I changed some gear on him for Sunday's trial, but it didn't work." "However, he still ran home very quickly." "Now he will have a lugging bit added and hopefully I will have a better steering horse." Ken Casellas  

Harness racing royalty in the form of Franco Jamar, a beautifully bred son of Courage Under Fire will stand his first season at stud at Lancefield Park in Boyanup at a very competitive fee of $1,500 with a live foal guarantee. Brought to Western Australia by Bridgetown owner/trainer Graeme Waters, Franco Jamar was a quality racehorse winning a total of 21 races and taking sub 2:00 records as a 2yo, 3yo and his lifetime mark of 1:51.2 as a 5yo on his way to earnings of $378,302. Franco Jamar finished second to Captain Peacock in the Group One $250,000 New Zealand Derby before beating that horse in the Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes at his next start. Interestingly Franco Jamar won two 3yo races in New Zealand with the now WA based Reon Tither at the reins. As a 5yo Franco Jamar won six straight city class races at Menangle culminating in the Group Two Coca Cola Sprint when he overcame the extreme outside barrier over the mile in 1:52.2  to thrash the field by more than 10 metres running the final quarter in 26.4 seconds and last half in 54.9 seconds with the WA owned millionaire polemarker Washakie back in fifth place. A month later Franco Jamar finished fifth to Smoken Up, Mr Feelgood, Raglan and Washakie in the $425,000 Victoria Cup  with WA champion Im Themightyquinn down the track in 12th place. Franco Jamar is one of three 2:00 winners produced by the Falcon Seelster mare Jamel Franco 1:57.7TT. Courage Under Fire has sired 15 horses which have each won in excess of $300,000 in stakes – five of the 15 are out of mares by Falcon Seelster. By virtue of Franco Jamar standing in Western Australia his progeny will be eligible for Double Westbred Bonus payments when winning as 2yos and 3yos. For further information contact Graeme Waters on 0402 779 662 or studmaster Lisa Adams on 0429 315 239. Alan Parker

Talanted Courage Under Fire two-year-old pacer Ken Two Stars delivered another stellar performance to win his second race in the space of five days when he powered home to take out the Decron Horse Care 2YO Pace over 1680m at the harness racing meeting at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston last Friday night. With Grant Hodges in the sulky, Ken Two Stars settled handy to the lead from a good gate and when Hodges presented the gelding to stake his claim in the home straight he powered to the lead and then staved off determined challenges to go on and score comfortably from Streetside Classic with Goggo Gee Gee storming home along the rails to grab third ahead of Metro Mouse. Ken Two Stars is trained at Scottsdale by Wayne Campbell who prepared a double courtesy of Grace Campbell scoring an impressive win in the opening race on the seven-event program. Ken Two Stars is so named because he has two distinctive star markings on his forehead. The gelding clocked a mile rate of two minutes and ran home his last half (800m) in under a minute. Ken Two Stars will contest a Breeders Crown heat in Launceston on Sunday night and victory will secure him a berth in a semi-final in Victoria later this month. However top Victorian trainer Dean Braun has sent his handy youngster Soho Chelsea to Tasmania and the Mach Three gelding will also line up in the heat. Soho Chelsea comes off wins at his past two starts at Cranbourne and Warragul. Peter Staples

Scottsdale harness racing trainer Wayne Campbell will make a decision on whether to enter his two-year-old gelding Ken Two Stars for next Sunday night's Dandy Patch sires stakes final tomorrow morning following the gelding's impressive win in the Single Again Pace over 1609 metres on Sunday night. Ken Two Stars (Courage Under Fire-Sharevonah) outgunned a small field of four at what was only his second start but it was his tremendous turn of foot that excited driver Grant Hodges to suggest he could measure up against the state's best. Campbell was delighted with the win and even though it was only a small field he was impressed with the way his two-year-old produced two sharp sprints in the run. "We bred this horse and I've always had an opinion of him and on what he did tonight I'm inclined to let him have a crack at the Dandy Patch next week," said owner-trainer-breeder Wayne Campbell. Driver Grant Hodges also was impressed with the speed Ken Two Stars showed during the race. "His first two runs were good and tonight he was well placed to get a win and he never let us down," Hodges said. "He's got a real good turn of foot and to be able to use that twice in the race suggests to me that he could measure up against some of the better ones," he said. Ken Two Stars settled last in the field of four but when the leader Striker Jim (Guy Allen) slowed the tempo Hodges sent his charge around the field to take control. The Barrie Rattray-trained first-starter Kvitova Leis settled third but was the first off the fence to face the breeze and she moved alongside the leader halfway down the back straight the last time. But just when Kvitova Leis looked likely to throw down the gauntlet to the leader Ken Two Stars slipped into another gear and rattled off a last quarter in 27.7 that gave nothing else a chance of overhauling him. Ken Two Stars hit the line 3.3 metres clear of Kvitova Leis with Striker Jim 6-1/2 metres away third while Beena Regal finished last and about 34 metres from the winner after galloping twice in the run. Peter Staples

Emma Stewart keeps putting Smythes Creek on the map. Victoria’s leading harness racing trainer scored a winning quartet on Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-final night last night at Tabcorp Park Melton and set herself up for a big grand final night next Saturday. On the strength of the semi-final results Stewart looks set to walk away with at least some grand final silverware, four-year-old mare Berisari expected to lead the charge after her dominant display last night. The night's success for Team Stewart began early with Always A Virgin/Lifeline filly Lovelist taking the first race on the 12-event program, the three-year-old fillies’ first semi-final. Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, Lovelist powered home by 2.5 metres over reigning Vicbred champion Niki No No (Greg Sugars) with Vapar Grin (Matthew Craven) third in a mile rate for the 2240-metre trip of 1:58.6. Stewart then teamed with Sugars to win Race 4, the two-year-old fillies’ first semi-final, with Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen youngster Whirily School, who won by 2.1m win over Drumborg’s Just Wantano (Craven), with Lang piloting Heirloom Angel into third place 10.6m behind the winner. Whirily School, already a Group 2 winner via the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final last month, worked her way to the lead 1800m out before rating 1:59.9 in victory last night. Stewart’s next winner was another two-year-old filly, this time impressive Rock N Roll Heaven/All The Magic bay Rocknroll Magic, who led from the pole and held off a late challenge by Soho Madeleine (Luke McCarthy) to score by a head in 2:02.4. Rounding out the night for Stewart was $1.10 favourite Berisari – by local sire Safari, who Stewart trained, out of Beris Holmes – winning the last race, the second of the four-year-old mares’ semis, by almost eight metres in 1:56.8. Stewart’s other qualifiers for Super Series finals were Apache Shark (fourth in the first semi-final of the two-year-old colts and geldings), Ideal For Real, who ran second to Follow The Stars in their three-year-old colts and geldings’ semi and Shadow Sax, whose superb second to Christmas Jolt in the two-year-old colts and geldings semi has him well-placed for Group 1 success next week. Click here to view the full Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-final results Cody Winnell

Harness racing fans on both sides of the Tasman have gotten use to the All Stars barn having nights that most trainers only dream about. Last night at Menangle the all conquering Kiwi barn had three runners involved and as has become the norm they produced three winners. First up was the rejuvenated Smolda who showed yet again that he back at his best and is cherry ripe heading to the Queensland Winter Carnival. Away well from barrier 10, driver Mark Purdon sent him forward early and he lobbed the one by one with a lap to go.  From there he was always travelling like the winner and whenMark eased Smolda out on the last corner, he quickly put paid to them, The son of Courage Under Fire was recording his 21st victory at just his 38th start and took his earnings with last nights win over the $670,000 mark. The second winner was the two year old filly Golden Goddess who made it two from two lifetime with another easy win. Driver Mark Purdon let the daughter of Art Major find her feet early before taking the lead after 200 metres. Buttoning off during the middle stages,Mark let her run from the 400 metres and she dashed home in 26.6 without too much effort for another impressive win. She stopped the clock at 1:55.1 which was three seconds slower than the other semi-final winner Heaven Trend but Golden Goddess did appear to have plenty up her sleeve and the final should be highly competitive.  The third winner for the night was the outstanding two year Waikiki Beach who made it eight from eight with another impressive victory. Sent straight to the front by driver Mark Purdon in a 27.9 first quarter, Waikiki Beach ambled through the next two quarters before sprinting home in 26.7 to remind everybody why he is the favourite for the Breeders Challenge final. The scary thing was the son of Somebeachsomewhere looked a bit burly last night and should strip a much fitter horse for the final in two weeks time. An interesting sidelight of last nights three winners from the All Stars barn was that all three were bred in Australia. Harnesslink Media 

Harness racing trainer Steve Dolan is back in Group I company and hungry to make sure it's where he stays. The Russley trainer has Mr Franklin in the four–year–old Emerald and Tintinara as the first emergency for the three–year–old Diamond at Saturday's Harness Jewels at Ashburton on Saturday. Neither will have punters running for the tote with wallets in hand, but for Dolan it is a giant stride in the right direction. He knows the ebb and flow of harness racing all too well. A few short years ago his stable was heading for greatness with star pacer Franco Jamar contesting the Inter Dominion final, Miracle Mile, Harness Jewels and New Zealand Derby. By Courage Under Fire out of Jamel Franco, Franco Jamar went on to win 20 races, eight in his three–year–old season alone, and earn more than $380,000. He also had the likes of Dream Out Loud, Castellina Lover and Candy Styx who were winning races for fun but things soon slowed down. The race wins have kept coming for Dolan but not on the big stage. "It's like a rugby player, it's nice to play at club level and do well but playing test rugby at the very highest level is the ultimate and I'm desperately keen to get back to racing horses at that very high level." But with two runners in Jewels contention Dolan is starting to climb back up the ranks. I'm aspiring to get back to where I was a few years ago when I had a couple of open class pacers in the stable and a three–year–old filly contesting the Group I races," Dolan said. "I'm looking to grow the stable and find those horses that can contest those classic races." He is realistic about the chances of Mr Franklin who needs a stack of luck against the likes of Tiger Tara, Sky Major, Messini and Ideal Success. Raced by Mark Wotton, Mick Braithwaite, Neil Struthers, Wayne Milligan, Simon Consedine, John Gould and Tim Sissons, the Grinfromeartoear gelding has a horror barrier draw to contend with starting from the outside of the front line. "It will be a big thrill for the owners to be in the race but they are realistic and know they we are probably not much of a chance of winning," Dolan said. Dolan said the Jewels was never the aim with Mr Franklin but after a consistent season and a few withdrawals they began to realise they were a good chance of making the field. He would love Tintinara to get a start but said they are also realistic about her chances if she does make the field.  "We are realistic that the likes of Fight For Glory and The Orange Agent are a class above, they are top class fillies." By Mat Karmeen Reprinted with permission of the Christchurch Press

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