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Astute New South Wales trainer Colin Thomas experienced the highs and lows of harness racing this week. Just days after registering one of his biggest victories at Tabcorp Park Menangle when successful with rising star Bettermatch, Thomas had to humanely put down stable ‘King’, Business In Motion. One of the state’s most promising pacers, Business In Motion’s demise was the result of a freak paddock accident. Having also competed at Menangle, Business In Motion was placed in his usual paddock upon return to Thomas’ property the following day where he was set to enjoy an easy week. The following morning, however, Thomas discovered the entire impaled on a metal pole in his groin. Although Business In Motion had a few cuts from the incident, the son of Courage Under Fire “appeared to be okay.” In fact, the four-year-old even ate his lunch! “A mare in one of the back paddocks had escaped and he must have reared up and come down on top of a metal post,” Thomas explained. “Once I washed him off, I tended to a couple of cuts, but it didn’t seem that bad. “I checked on him all day and he appeared to be okay, he even had a feed. “Later in the afternoon when I checked him he had swelled up around the cuts and was haemorrhaging pretty badly…he must have pierced himself right up his ‘old fella’. “In the end, I had no choice and it was the humane thing to do.” A classy performer, Business In Motion won his first five starts before finishing his freshman season with 10 wins. Making steady progress through the grades at three and four, Business In Motion’s record sits on 20 wins and 13 placings from 43 starts for earnings of $161,840. On a brighter note, Bettermatch has “pulled up well” from his latest victory, which saw the son of Kenneth J maintain his unbeaten sequence from four starts. Thrilled with the two-year-old’s progress, Thomas has aimed Bettermatch at several key features. “That was his toughest run to date and he has pulled up well,” Thomas said. “Steve said he thought the horse may have been gone up the straight, but when he put a couple on his bum, he responded well. “Only good horses find extra under pressure and he is a serious racehorse. “I will set him for the Bathurst Crown next. He is eligible for the Breeders’ Challenge, Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown, but I don’t want to overtax him. “Even if he goes in all of those, he won’t do much between the heats and Finals.” PAUL COURTS

She might bear closer resemblance to a pony than a quality harness racing performer, but ‘pocket sized’ filly Du Vella is all class according to trainer Geoff Webster. The Kiwi-bred daughter of Courage Under Fire – known as “Mighty Mouse” during his racing days – will be a key player Friday night’s $15,000 AJ Prendergast Memorial Oaks Trial at Ballarat. Webster acknowledges his youngster faces tough opposition in the time-honoured 2200-metre event, which was first run in 1981 and has produced winners the calibre of Bellas Delight, Jadah Rose, Ashlees Babe and Jasmarilla. However, the accomplished Bannockburn horseman is confident Du Vella, which is aiming for her fourth consecutive win, can more than hold her own despite an unfashionable barrier 11 draw. “She’s a lovely filly,” Webster said.  “She only came over here from New Zealand last season and she’s going very well. “She has progressed through the grades to C2 class quite quickly and I’m really happy with the way she’s developing. She gives me every reason to think she’ll measure up against the best of her age.” The Oaks Trial provides a launching pad into a raft of features, most immediately heats of the New South Wales Oaks to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle on February 21. The $200,000 Group One Final will be staged at the same venue on March 1 – Inter Dominion day. “New South Wales is our main target at present, so the Ballarat race will give us a better guide to her chances against the good fillies,” Webster said. “That said, she came off a quick speed to beat a smart field at Melton a couple of starts back after being held up and I do believe she’s a really nice horse. “She seems to go best when driven sit-sprint and she’s going to need to get the right run into the race from her draw, but I think she’s capable.” Webster has also qualified recent Kiwi import Angus T Jones for the second of Friday night’s features, the $30,000 Group Three Flying Horse Bistro Tontine Pacers’ Series Final, but does not fancy his chances of notching an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the prized provincial championship. Webster trained and drove Charlie Machsheen to win the race in 2013 and prepared Flaming Flutter, which was partnered to victory by Greg Sugars, in 2014. “Angus T Jones is honest, but I think he’ll struggle in that field,” Webster said. “It’s a super line-up and on paper they look like they’re better than him. “He had every chance when third in a heat of the series at Hamilton (beaten 23 metres) last start and Friday night’s opposition is stronger again so I’d say the best we can hope for is a place.” Dominant Smythes Creek training duo Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart look to have one hand on the Tontine trophy, preparing leading hopefuls Another Safari and Major Secret. Another Safari will begin from barrier three, with New South Wales Derby winner, Major Secret, to come out of 10. Ballarat Media

The biggest buyers of harness racing bloodstock in the southern hemisphere are turning a new leaf in New Zealand next week when they consign a colt to the Australasian Classic yearling sale. Everytime you looked up in the last few years Merv and Meg Butterworth had been buying yearlings at the sales or snapping up promising racehorses in New Zealand for their huge racing empire. The Butterworths have enjoyed huge success in the last few seasons especially since they hooked up with the leading New Zealand training duo of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. The Butterworths have just enjoyed their best night as owners on Saturday when Arden Rooney scooped the $400,000 Hunter Cup. So next week when Lot 109 walks into the ring at Auckland the Butterworths will have come full circle. Lot 109 is named Bettor Under Fire and just like his vendors, he is from a 100% Australian maternal family. Bettor Under Fire is the first foal from the outstanding Courage Under Fire racemare in Queen Of Fire 1:57.1 ($176,809) who ran second in both the Australian Oaks and the Australasian Breeders Crown final for four year old mares. Queen Of Fire is from Penultimate who has left six other winners including Majestic Emperor 1:58.1 ($186,378) and Major Mac 1:59.2 ($72,163) and the dam of the very promising Machtwister 1:55 ($57,578) Penultimate is a half sister to six winners including Detroit Dan 1:56.8 ($118,639) Mister Motown 1:59.6 (72,163) and to Star Chaser who is the dam of four $100,000 winners including  the champion Australian pacer Safari 1:55.7 ($535,445) as well as Astronaut 1:57.1 ($141,129) Our Maid Marianne 1:57.9 ($110,338) and Major Frank 1:52 ($108,228). Kiwi buyers have had a tendency to overlook Australian bred stock in the past but Mark Purdons successful raids on the Australian yearling sales and the performance last season of Alta Orlando 1:56.2 ($173 486) who is from a West Australian mare has certainly changed that perception on this side of the Tasman. The hardest thing for Merv and Meg to get the hang of next week may well be the inclination to put their hands up when the bidding starts. Old habits are hard to break. Harnesslink Media  

The first of this years harness racing yearling sales were held in Melbourne yesterday with  the Victorian section of the  Australian Pacing Gold being staged As has become common in recent years, there was quite a few Kiwis on hand and they were active again throughout the day. The first Kiwi in action was Neil Pilcher who continued his long standing habit of buying a son of Courage Under Fire at most sales. On this occasion Neil brought lot 7 which was a colt from the former 1:58.7 two year old Artificial for $25,000. Artificial has already left Im For Real 1:55.6 while the grand dam is the talented racemare Counterfeit Girl 1:58.1 ($118,769) Neil has had a great run with his Couage Under Fire purchasers in the last few years and this one has all the credentials to keep up his strike rate. Second cab off the rank for the Kiwis were the prominent husband and wife team of Philip and Glenys Kennard. Their first purchase was lot 102 which is a Bettor's Delight colt from the unraced Mach Three mare Miss Montoya. Her claim to fame is she is a half sister to the dam of A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($760,747) and London Legend ($456,124) so the $26,000 purchase price looked good value to us. Well known trotting owner Trevor Casey was next up but as this was a pacer only sale, thats what he brought. Trevor brought lot 105 which is a son of Art Major from the imported American mare Magic Z Tam 1:57.1 ($83,942) The first foal from the dam, the colt is related to a string of top performers in North America and even though he cost Trevor $72,000, he didn't appear an expensive colt once you had read his pedigree page. High flying New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety was the next Kiwi into the fray forking out $60,000 for a colt by American super sire Somebeachsomewhere from the imported daughter of Bettor's Delight in Molly's Lucky Star 1:54.2 ($96,700) The grand dam Pacific Destiny is a half sister to the brilliant Pacific Fella 1:48.2 ($1,064,631) so he has all the credentials to make it on the track. The Kennards were next into the fray again when they went to $42,000 to secure lot 131 who was an Art Major colt from the race winning Albert Albert mare in Nosotros who has already produced Red Vee Hanover 1:58.8 ($89,094). The dam Nosotros is a half sister to the former brilliant grand circuit performer in Hexus 1:55 ($555,114) and with Nosotros being a 3/4 sister to the smart Winforus 1:55 ($139,915) this colt ticks plenty of boxes. Mark Purdon waited to lot 167 before he brought his one and only purchase for the day. Mark purchased a Modern Art colt from a Badlands Hanover half sister to the champion juvenile Gotta Go Cullen 1:58.2 ($1,127,567) for $34,000 The grand dam is a half sister to Mark's former champion pacer Il Vicolo 1:56.7 ($1,580,945) and to the dam of Stunnin Cullen 1:54.1 ($1,359,094) Mark has a history of plucking horses out of sales for not a lot of money and turning them into stars and this colt has a maternal pedigree to die for. The last purchase by Kiwis for the day was when the Kennards went back to the well for the third time and spent $30,000 to buy lot 173 who is an Art Major colt from the former race winning two year old Sophies Girl. She was from a half sister to Seinfield 1:55.1 ($126,082) and belongs to the New Zealand family made famous by the great Manaroa 1:58.1 ($218,159) back in the 1970s. The top priced colt for the sale was lot 63 who was a Western Ideal half brother to the brilliant Guaranteed 1:50.4 ($829,5910). The top price in the fillies division of $51,000 was shared by Lot 159 who was a Rocknroll Hanover filly from a mare tracing to the great New Zealand broodmare Armiss and Lot 187 who was a Bettor's Delight filly who had the outstanding Lordship broodmare Black Debate as her third dam. Overall the sale would have to considered a big success with the average up nearly $3,000 ($26,046)  and the clearance rate on a par with last year at just under 80%. Harnesslink Media

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 17, 2015--Rank outsider Flem N Em N (Jason Bartlett, $71.50) stunned 'em from first-up Saturday night, easily winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Pace. Sitting early from post position No. 4, Flem N Em N saw Cam B Zipper (Brian Sears) break leaving. Sapphire City, also leaving, worked around pole-sitting BJ's Guy (Matt Kakaley) before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a seemingly-soft 57.1 intermission, Flem N Em N moved briskly from fourth. The same horse who tired noticeably in the pocket the previous week blew eight on by here, disposing of Sapphire City nearing the 1:25.2 three-quarters. The tiring leader trapped both BJ's Guy and last week's winner, Take it Back Terry (George Brennan), in behind. Flem N Em N opened four lengths into the lane before winning by 3¼ lengths in 1:52.4. "Terry" shifted out and closed for second, with McErlean (Eric Goodell), BJ's Guy and Sapphire City settling for the remainder. For Flem N Em N, a 10-year-old Down Under Courage Under Fire gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was his first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $285.50, with the triple returning $1,504. Flem N Em N now has lifetime earnings of $604,865 from 33 wins 32 seconds and 29 thirds from 181 starts. Flem N Em N Special Saturday props to Warrawee Needy (MacDonald, $5.90), whose zipped through his $21,000, 12th-race rivals in 1:51.4, fastest local mile of the season. Note that since no one took down Saturday's Pick 5, Monday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $2,665.18 (50-cent base wager, races 5 through 9). The Raceway's live season continues Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Promising harness racing youngster Sporty Spook claimed the Temora track record when successful at the country circuit last Saturday night. First-up from a spell, the David Kennedy-trained gelding covered the mile in a slick 1:57.5 when driven to an effortless victory by Jarrod Alchin. After finding the front from barrier three, the son of Sportswriter was untouched to score by 20-and-a-half metres from Casino Grin, with Itsallaboutex 14-and-a-half metres away third. The three-year-old sprinted through the final 800 metres in 57.7 to extend his record to an impressive six wins and five placings from 12 starts for earnings of $63,800. Sporty Spook’s placings include the Bathurst Gold Crown and Breeders’ Challenge Finals. “Dave must have been thinking he was ready to race because he told me he had checked up what the track record was in the lead up to the race,” Alchin said. “Just as he left the gate he just flicked a wheel, and it fired him up a bit, but I didn’t really want to fight him so I let him stride.” Set to back up in this weekend’s Simpson Memorial at Tabcorp Park Menangle, the three-year-old may be taken south for the Victoria Derby heats later in the month. The New South Wales Derby and another crack at the Breeders’ Challenge are also on the agenda. “Dave was pretty clear that he wanted to see him race well because if he is going to be competitive in a race like the Simpson Memorial then he needs to be in good form leading into it,” Alchin said. “The Victoria Derby heats are also on the cards, although that will be a big step up with some of the big names coming from New Zealand. “I guess that decision will be made after he races at Menangle.” Another rising star also established a track record earlier in the night, with Business In Motion setting the standard over 2000 metres. Completing a hat-trick in the process, Business In Motion rated 2:01.2, with the last half covered in 57.9 seconds. Thrilled with the son of Courage Under Fire, trainer Col Thomas has set his sights on the rich Chariots Of Fire. Australasia’s premier four-year-old event, the Group One is scheduled to be run at Menangle on March 1 – TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion day. Thomas is also considering heading south of the Murray River to contest the Bonanza on February 7. The feature is part of the A G Hunter Cup program. “He’s gone well again,” Thomas said. “I will just keep racing him along before a possible trip to Melton for the Bonanza in February.” PAUL COURTS

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Steve Lukac admitted to being surprised after Pockets of Courage won the first two-year-old race of the season in Launceston last night. Lukac was not surprised the gelding won, but taken aback at the odds offered about the youngster in the $10,000 Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes over 1680 metres. Pockets of Courage paid $11.80 on the Tote and much the same was offered by the fixed odds corporate bookies. “He finished first and second in the two trials and I was very confident he would run well, so yes, I was surprised he paid so well,” Lukac said. “His biggest asset is that he is a beautifully-gaited horse with good manners. There’s a lot of upside to this horse.” Lukac admitted the win also had a lot to do with a very good drive from Nathan Ford. Pockets of Courage was well away from the mobile, but despite beginning from the pole, he couldn’t match the speed of Goggo Gee Gee, which landed in front, with the favourite Sultan Fella facing the breeze. Ford was content to settle the son of Courage Under Fire and Rangiann behind the leader where he stayed until the home turn. When Ford called on Pockets of Courage for the supreme effort in the home straight the freshman responded magnificently to score by two metres from rank outsider Origin Cronk, with another outsider, Chica Bella, flashing home to be four-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

Integrity will be at a premium for the annual Garrards 2YO Trialling Sale to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Sunday. HRNSW will take a select number of samples in consultation with the Sales organisers including the fastest horse of the morning. In addition to this any buyer will be able to have their purchase tested for Steroids by notifying the HRNSW representative at the sale and paying the appropriate fee. This is the first sale in which buyers have had this opportunity. The 51-head catalogue has brought together two-year-old colts, geldings and fillies from every Australian eastern Mainland State as well as New Zealand. Included in the draft are sons and daughters of such notable sires as Beautide's sire, Bettors Delight, Courage Under Fire, Mach Three, Rocknroll Hanover and Rock N Roll Heaven. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny said the controlling body want to make it clear that all prospective owners, stakeholders, participants and supporters that they can have faith in harness racing in NSW. "As has been acknowledged nationally HRNSW has the strongest approach of any jurisdiction to integrity processes." "The HRNSW commitment covers every aspect and it is with the support of the Ready To Race Sale organisers that swabs will be taken, tested and if required stored for future analysis." Only graduates are eligible to nominate for the associated Group Three feature, the C.J. Garrard Classic, to be held at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, next August. NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus certificates can be used as legal tender at the sale. By Dale Walker  

Talented harness racing driver Nathan Jack to the honours during last night’s harness racing meeting at Melton. One of Victoria’s leading reinsman, Jack registered a quartet on the 10-race program in what was a career equalling best performance. Jack kick-started his evening with the Michael Hughes-trained Call Me Bond, which led throughout from barrier five. A promising son of Courage Under Fire, Call Me Bond rated a slick 1:56.5 for the 2240 metres, taking his record to eight wins and three seconds from 16 starts. Jack then combined with astute mentor Wayne Potter to secure the main event of the night – The Tailamade Lombo. Partnering rank outsider Sophies Deal, Jack produced the drive of the night to score at $58.90 on the tote. Finishing stoutly along the home straight, the daughter of American Ideal accounted for Tandias Bromac and Glenferrie Ej. Owned by Stephen Walker, Sophies Deal lowered her best time to 1:53.5. Jack completed a running double when Scruffy Major proved too good over 1720 metres. After leading from barrier four, Jack elected to take a trail behind the hot favourite Jilliby Master during the middle stages. Regaining the front halfway along the home straight, the son of Art Major scored by three-and-a-half metres from Jilliby Master, with The Noble Steed six metres away third. A member of the Gary Quinlan stable, Scruffy Major extended his record to 10 wins and 13 placings from 39 starts by rating 1:54.6 for the 1720 metres. Jack rounded out his evening with the Emma Stewart-trained Jadahson, which travelled two-back along the pegs before beating Arber and Johnny Quid in 1:53.9. By Falcon Seelster from Jadah Rose, the stallion is a half-brother to pacing sensation, Guaranteed. PAUL COURTS

Courage Under Fire has created a lot of special moments for a lot of people. Bruce Negus and Greg Brodie will certainly never forget the ride Courage Under Fire took them on with one of the all-time great race careers – 24 wins in a row, 6 Derbies and over $1.5 million in stakes. Courage Under Fire is still the benchmark other great three-year-olds are measured against. Neil Pilcher has established a special affection for the progeny of Courage – little wonder when you consider his two latest “Courage” stars are the brilliant NZ Jewels winner, Smolda and last season’s leading stake earning New Zealand two-year-old, Alta Orlando. What a great achievement (for Neil and Courage) – if they are both at Addington on the 11th of November – Smolda in the NZ Cup and Alta Orlando in the NZSS 3yo Final. Another outstanding son of Courage is the timeless Pembrook Benny. Winner of the NZ free-for-all last season as a nine-year-old and still very much in contention for the NZ Cup this season as a ten-year-old. A truly wonderful horse for Barry and Katrina Purdon and their partners. Beyond The Silence is a son of Courage racing wonderfully well for Andrew and Lyn Neal – winning the Spring Cup and then heading home Pembrook Benny for a Courage Under Fire quinella in the Open Class feature at Auckland last week. To make racing a horse that is now 8 from 16 even more special, Beyond The Silence was purchased by Lyn’s late father Frank Bebbington and is now raced in partnership with his estate. With several of the other big gun sires fully booked, Courage is a great option for breeders looking to sell and compete at the highest level. Courage is ready and willing to provide even more people with their special moments – and despite the mistake in the NZ Sires Book – he is definitely available in New Zealand via fresh semen. COURAGE UNDER FIRE HIGHLIGHTS *A wonderful champion, he won his first 24 starts, 6 Derbies and almost $1.5 million. *NZ 2, 3 and 4yo Pacer of the Year. *The sire of over 70 individual $100,000 earners to date. *Consistently ranks amongst the leading sires in both Australia and NZ. *In 2013/14 the sire of Alta Orlando – NZ’s leading stake earning 2yo.   Courtesy Of Alabar New Zealand

Mark and Natalie have been around top horses for a long time and Mark's list of leading New Zealand Cup contenders is a lengthy one. But even among so many individuals Smolda stands out -and not because he is difficult to deal with. Its just that he can be a bit of a mystery. Top trainers don't like mysteries especially leading in to big races. The reason Mark has had so many expert Cup preps_and now Natalie too is that they are experts at looking at a horse and see things other people miss. They also time a star against the clock and still know that all is not well even if the clock says it is. Yes they monitor all the usual things, heart rates, feed bins, any signs of change. But all good trainers can do that. The difference between the good and the great is something else-the sixth sense, the feeling there is something going on which needs more investigating even before the experts are called in. That is where Smolda can present problems-because he hates any fuss-about anything. "He's always been a very laid back sort of horse" Mark says. "It is hard to get a line on his work and always has been. He does what he has to and its always good work but you are left wondering just how good it was just how forward he is. It is not until you get to the trials or raceday you find that out fully" There was a good example  last January when Smolda in his first race in yonks buried a field at Addington in 3.10 and change. Even Mark was surprised by that one. "Sometimes you forget how good he is" he said then. But its his laid back approach which gives his trainers plenty of time for thinking. Before his season debut he seemed pretty forward but racenight proved otherwise. Even Mark looked a tad disappointed but he just thought Smolda needed more racing. Then he thought maybe there was something else. Blood tests required. They came back perfect. But something was niggling at Mark and Natalie. Sure enough a second round of tests showed a white cell count amiss. In between Smolda ate away at the same rate and did everything else by the book. Many horses test the skills and patience of their trainers but not all because they are so relaxed and easy going. So in any race Smolda is stepping out in there is even for experts, a little doubt as to what is going to happen. He'll be good of course-but how good? Sometimes only Smolda knows. And he's not telling! Courtesy Of All Star Racing - Check site here

Beyond The Silence completed the Spring Cup – Holmes D G harness racing double at Alexandra Park tonight. The Andrew and Lyn Neal trained gelding shot along the markers to hold out the fast finishing favourite Pembrook Benny by a length. Driver Lyn Neal said the son of Courage Under Fire was back to his best after finishing second behind Rockn Ruby in a lower class event at Cambridge September 25. “He just felt better tonight. He sprinted hard at the finish. It’s nice to win a race against the good horses again,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence, who started off the front in the $20,000 Air Vanuatu Holmes D G Pace, trailed the front-running Norvic Nightowl throughout the 2700m stranding start event. Then when the gaps opened in the straight Beyond The Silence burst through to win in 3:23.74. Pembrook Benny and Easy On The Eye filled the minors, while Delight Brigade, Norvic Nightowl, and Lets Elope ran fourth, fifth, and six in the six-horse field. His winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he sprinted his last 800m and 400m sectionals. On September 20 he won the Spring Cup (2200m stand) in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6). Neal said she wasn’t tempted to head south for the New Zealand Cup Carnival with the 5-year-old.  “No not this year. Perhaps in 13 months but for now he’s staying put. There are plenty of races for him up here over the Summer. The Franklin Cup is one target,” Neal said. Beyond The Silence has now won eight of his 16 starts and placed in four others. It was his fifth win on the track and first over the distance. The Neals share in the ownership of Beyond The Silence with the estate of Neal’s late father Frank Bebbington. He was bred by D.M. Brown. Courtesy of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Andrew and Lyn Neal won their second Spring Cup at Alexandra Park last night with a pacer they rate equal in ability to their 2000 Auckland Cup winner, Flight South. They won their first Spring Cup in 2010 when Trigirl Brigade won the 2200m standing start event. This time $13.10 fourth favourite Beyond The Silence proved too strong for Norvic Nightowl and Pembrook Benny in the $25,000 Hydroflow sponsored handicap pace. “He’s only had 14 starts and now this is his seventh win. I have always had a considerable amount of time for him. He’s a quality pacer who has come back well this season. “I just wish Dad was here to watch him race,” said driver Lynn Neal, who co-trains the 5-year-old gelding with her husband Andrew at Cambridge. Dad is former Mid Canterbury conditioner, Frank Bebbington, who passed away in August 2012. “Dad bought him and Andrew and I share the ownership in him with Dad’s estate.  I’d like to race him at Addington one day but this year is a bit too soon. “He needs more racing for that but even at this early stage of his career I rate him right up there with Flight South - and she is one of the best horses we have trained,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence sat in the trail for most of the way behind Te Kawau and Todd Mitchell. Then in the straight he powered along the passing lane to win by a neck and 1-1/2 lengths. He paced the 2200m strand in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6) with final 800m and 400m sprint s of 56.7 and 27 even. It was his fourth win in seven starts at Alexandra Park. It was a gutsy performance to win third run back after Beyond The Silence missed most of his 4-year-old season with a fractured cannon bone he suffered in a C2 pace at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day last year. “It’s been a slow road back but we have always believed in him and tonight he delivered against some of the North Island’s best. “We thought he would go well tonight and he didn’t let us down,” Neal said. The 5-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding won first up after an eight month spell at Alexandra Park on July 11 and then followed that up a third behind Sky Major and Cyamach a fortnight later. He has now won seven of his 14 starts and placed in three others for $59,615. The race didn't pass without some sensation. Averil's Quest was late scratched within minutes of the start of the race after she was found to be lame in the right foreleg. Pembrook Benny earned a tick mark for his fresh up performance - the New Zealand Free-For-All winner made up plenty of ground in his first public outing for the season. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Kialla trainer-driver David Moran enjoyed a winning double with two of his in-form pacers last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both The Baggy Green (a four-year-old mare by Art Major out of Lady Waratah) and Our Santa Catalina (a three-year-old filly by Rocknroll Hanover out of San Sophia) carried their strong Breeders Crown form into last night's meeting and both recorded strong victories. The Baggy Green, who ran second to Frith in the four-year-old mares’ Breeders Crown Final last time out, found the back of early leader Earth Angel last night used the sprint lane at the finish to wind up for a 2.3-metre victory in the Alabar Pace, Race 1, over 1720 metres. Earth Angel led for Josh Aiken with Isabelle Delacour (Jason Lee) parking in the breeze after a failed attack for the front. Glenferrie EJ (Jodi Quinlan) ran second after a sustained run three-wide, while Earth Angel boxed on gamely for third. The Baggy Green started at $2.20, kicking the night off on a winning note for punters. Moran’s second winner came up in Race 4, the Harness Breeders Vic 3YO Classic over 1720 metres. He drove Our Santa Catalina, who scored an upset win over last-start Group 1 winner Just Cala (Amanda Turnbull) by 1.8 metres, with Madison Louise (Chris Alford) third. With 1200 metres to go Moran and Our Santa Catalina eased three-wide from the one-out-one-back spot and moved to the breeze outside race leader Dazzling Arden. At this stage Turnbull had the $1.40 favourite Just Cala in last position. Down the back, though, Turnbull started her move, taking the Dennis Picker trained filly around the field three-wide. But the leaders quickened up with middle sectionals of 29.9 and 28.4, Just Cala forced to work hard for the bulk of the final lap. Once the field straightened up for the run to the judge, Our Santa Catalina shook off Dazzling Arden and then hit the line in a 27.8 final quarter. Just Cala simply didn’t have the firepower at the finish as Our Santa Catalina – who ran third in a Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat two starts back – showed enormous grit in the run to the line. Our Santa Catalina has now won seven of 20 starts. Leading reinsman Nathan Jack was the other driver to pick up a winning double last night, piloting Bad Habbott to a 2.7-metre triumph in the Home Timber and Hardware Melton 3YO Trot for trainer Russell Commens before finishing the program aboard Shared Interest, the Russell Jack trained gelded son of Angus Hall obliterating his rivals by 18.1 metres in the Haley Toulmin 2YO Trot over 1720 metres. Other winners on the card were Action Kosmos for Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan in the Trot and Game We Play in the Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final for trainer-driver Craig Turnbull, the son of Courage Under Fire too strong as the long odds-on favourite in the race Karkarooc who finished a well-beaten seventh. In-form mare Tandias Bromac won the Pet Rock Pace for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Chris Alford while the Michael Stanley trained and driven Young Modern won the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720 metres. Gumdrops won for trainer Steve Zammit and driver Rodney Petroff in the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 Sept Pace, and the Chris Lang trained and driven Lord Liam won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap. The Victorian harness racing spotlight turns to Cranbourne tonight (Saturday) with the first of 11 races at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

John Hallam’s in-form rig Karkarooc should prove hard to beat in Friday night’s Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final (Race 3) at Tabcorp Park Melton. The son of Courage Under Fire and mare Phichai, a half-brother to Hallam's Group 1 winning mare Wyperfeld, has won three straight races, his most recent in 1:58.4 when 11.8 metres too strong for A Bit Ruthless at Shepparton. “He’s as promising a horse as I’ve had for a while,” Hallam said. “He’s very inexperienced. He hasn’t had a lot of trialling. He’s got blistering gate speed, which he won’t be able to use from the second row, but I’m not really fussed about that. “I don’t care where he settles. If they go too slow up front he’ll go up and around them and if not I don’t mind if he comes with one run at the end.” Hallam, who trains from Kialla, said as Karkarooc progressed through the grades to higher class races he would become more of a sit-sprinter. “When he gets in against those better horses I think that will be his forte." Nathan Jack has driven Karkarooc at two of his past three wins and will steer him again on Friday night. Jack and Hallam will also combine in Race 1 with Million To One mare Ezee Duzit Lombo. The six-year-old has been in ultra-consistent form of late without winning, finishing second at her past two starts at Swan Hill and Shepparton. “You certainly couldn’t get much closer than that she’s been getting of late,” Hallam said. Ezee Duzit Lombo ran on powerfully two starts back off a slow speed up front to finish second at Swan Hill before another runner-up effort last time out when beaten a head by Stunning Grin. While she has been settling back in the field in her recent starts, Hallam said Ezee Duzit Lombo was likely to be driven more proactively from gate three on Friday night. “Over the 1720 metres at Melton if you’re getting too far back you might as well not come,” he said. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

An exciting night of trotting at the Nyah District Harness Racing Club was held at the Swan Hill Racing Centre on Thursday, with many races on the program named after those who have been associated with the club for a long period of time. This season’s state leading trainer, Mildura’s Shayne Cramp, had favourite punters cheering when he won the opening race – the Alta Christiano @ Alabar Stallions 2YO Pace over 1750 metres with Mach Three/Ally McBlossom filly Aldebaran Brandi. A winner on debut at Mildura on July 15, Aldebaran Brandi ($1.60) repeated the dose by leading throughout from outside the front line to easily account for Bright And Sonny (four wide last lap from last), with Our Work Of Art a stablemate of the winner coming from four back the markers at bell along the sprint lane to finish third. The mile rate was 1:57.2. Bendigo duo David Van Ryn and nephew Haydon Gray had an easy victory with Courage Under Fire/Delightful Emm 3Y0 gelding Courageous Emm in the Alan Branson Pace for C0 class over 1750 metres. Driven with aggression from gate two to retain the front running, Courageous Emm ($1.20) bounded away on the final bend to record a 10.9 metre victory in a rate of 1:57.5 over Another Approval (three back the markers) and Marcellus, which trailed the winner. Echuca trainer Wayne Lear is a regular at most Nyah meetings and landed the Max Slater Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 1750 metres with five year old Village Jasper/Macray Purple gelding Purple Village in a rate of 1:58.7. Taken back to the tail of the field from outside the front line by Bec Bartley, Purple Village ($2.90) came with a barnstorming finish on straightening to blouse the leader Illawong Lively right on the wire (the margin a runaway half-neck), with Parisian Ruler third after facing the open from the bell. Honest five-year-old Die Laughing/Lily Princess mare Misschinoise scored a well deserved victory in the Peter Coady Pace for C2 class over 1750 metres, chalking up her seventh success in 51 outings. Trained and driven by Ararat’s Michael Bellman, who travels many thousands of miles around the state each season, Misschinoise ($3.70) enjoyed a sweet passage from gate three three back along the markers, with the pole marker Soho Jagger driven desperately to hold out the second elect Attack On Command (gate four) which then eased to follow the pacemaker. Moving away from the inside in the last lap, Misschinoise cruised up to Soho Jagger on the home turn and when asked for an effort on straightening, coasted to the wire 5.5 metres in advance of Soho Jagger and Attack On Command in a mile rate of 1:59.8. Popular Mildura trainer Frank Cavallaro was in the winners stall following the victory of Tommys Song ($5.80) in the Arthur Graham Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres. Driven by Luke Watson, Tommys Song, a 4YO gelded son of P Forty Seven and Tell Laura began smartly from gate three to be outside the leader Gnarly at the start, before being eased to take one/one cover when Unfair Dismissal was driven forward to park in the open. Eased three-wide in the last lap, Tommys Song ran home strongly to gain the day from Boom Boom Hall, which rattled home from near last on turning, with Yankidoodledanvers using the sprint lane for third after following the weakening leader. The mile rate was 1:59.8. Mildura (Cardross) trainer Frank Merceica’s six-year-old Pass The Mustard/Princess Yum Yum gelding Sir Pickles Yum Yum loves competing at Swan Hill and registered his third victory on the circuit when successful in the Jim Roberts Pace for C3 to C5 class over 2240 metres. With Greg Sugars in the sulky after making the long trek from Melton, Sir Pickles Yum Yum ($12.50) settled four back in the running line from gate four, with Mind The Wire leading before handing up to Mick Bellman’s Ourcrownin. With a number of changes happening during the race, Sir Pickles Yum Yum had moved to be three back at the bell and when taken wide on turning, rattled home to score by 1.3 metres in a rate of 2:00.2. Well Oiled Lombo (four wide final bend) ran home from last to claim third place. The Blissful Hall @ Empire Stallions 3YO Pace, first leg of the Daily Double and second leg of the Quaddie was declared a no race following a fall by Warana Court on the first turn. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria  

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