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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

Harnes racing trainer-driver Ryan Hryhorec dominated the two heats of the SA BOTRA Colts and Geldings Pace for three-year-olds at Globe Derby Park. Hryhorec trained and drove both winners, scoring with Hit Maka in the Virginia Meats heat and leading throughout on Blurred Lines in the Gary Crocker Home Loans second. Resuming from a spell, Hit Maka ($2.60) a gelding by Shakamaker scored a one metre win from Farasthe Eyecansee ($18.20) with the heavily backed Jeremes Bonus ($2.40 fav) six metres away third. Blurred Lines ($2.40 fav), a colt by Courage Under Fire also resuming from a short break had six and a half metres to spare in beating Bongiorno Boys ($35.50) with Im Supreme ($9.70) a metre away third. Hit Maka rated 2:01:8 compared with 2:01:9 recorded by Blurred Lines. “They are both nice horses,” Hryhorec said. “But I have to say I am excited about Hit Maka because I’m not sure we have reached his full potential. “Because he has had a few setbacks we haven’t been able to have a complete campaign and while he never wins easily, I’m sure he has a lot more to give.” Coming from the outside draw on the second row, Hryhorec settled last in the 2230 metre event but allowed Hit Maka to stride to outside the leader Jeremes Bonus mid race and was able to put that horse away on straightening and it was left to Farasthe Eyecansee to issue a late challenge but the winner always looked in control. “That was his first run since the end of February and he will be fitter again this week.” Blurred Lines came from gate one and the driver was able to control the race with 31.7 and 31.1 first quarters then sprint homer strongly to score easily. “I was always confident when I got away with a comfortable lead. He’s a good colt with a promising future.” Hryhorec also revealed that Glenferrie Bunter, a devastating winner of the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas at his most recent run on April 11 should be ready to return to the racetrack at Port Pirie on Saturday night. “He was nearly ready for this week but I felt needed another week.” by Graham Fischer Harness Racing South Australia Related Links Race programme for Globe Derby Park, Friday 29 May 2015

Evergreen harness racing pacer Motu Crusader continued his winning streak by capturing his third win in succession in the $10,000 Plunkett Family Ascot Gold Cup over 2579 metres at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. Motu Crusader was the sole handicapper off 30 metres but the gallant eight-year-old made light of the task. With Gareth Rattray aboard he stepped brilliantly from the standing start and quickly made up ground to tack onto the main body of the field. When Rattray made his move down the back straight the last time he had the leaders in his sights turning for home and then powered up the home straight to score comfortably from Ardlussa Express and Outback Mach. The Zeke Slater-trained Courage Under Fire gelding won the $10,000 Elite in Hobart three starts back and followed up with an impressive win in the $10,000 Golden Mile in Launceston. "That's three feature race wins in a row for this horse so it proves he is definitely back to his best," Slater said. Motu Crusader will attempt to extend his winning sequence in the Brighton Cup in Hobart next Sunday night. Peter Staples

Whirily School and Showgun Thomas have taken out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic two-year-old Finals at the harness arcing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last night.   Whirily School won the fillies’ final for trainer Emma Stewart and driver Greg Sugars as an odds-on favourite at $1.50, while Chris Alford combined with trainer Heath Redwood to take out the colts and geldings’ final with Showgun Thomas at $12 after race favourite Hellbewright galloped early and lost all chance.   Whirily School, by Courage Under Fire out of Mayhappen, found the front early from the 1720-metre start and controlled the race, jogging through a 32.7secs second quarter after an opening stanza of 29.9secs for a 62.2secs first half.   Greg Sugars had his rivals stacked up off the back after a third split of 30.7secs before the impressive young pacer extended and left his rivals paddling, dashing home in 27.4secs for a 3.3m win in a mile rate of 2:00.2.   New Romantics finished second after trailing the leader throughout from the pole, while Courageous Call moved to the breeze early and battled on for third just ahead of Swiftly Tothebeach.   Showgun Thomas, by Bettors Delight out of Forest Charm, won a roughhouse affair in the two-year-old boys’ division, Alford driving the polemarker through along the sprint lane from the leader’s back spot in the home stretch to edge out Pop The Cork (Anthony Butt) and Four Starzzz Forsa (John Justice) in a thriller.   The second horse had to survive a protest post-race from the third and fifth (That’s How Weroll) placegetters.   Showgun Thomas rated 1:57.0.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

A host of promising two-year-olds will vie for a share of the rich Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic prize money starting this week at Ballarat and Geelong. The colts and geldings will be in action at Ballarat on Wednesday night, while the fillies will take to the track on Thursday night at Geelong. Kialla trainer Heath Redwood will take two youngsters to Ballarat in the hope of qualifying for the $50,000 Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic Final at Melton on May 15. His best winning chance appears to be unbeaten colt Iconic Valor, which has been the subject of several sizeable offers after winning his two starts. “He’s a very nice horse,” Redwood declared. “I’m really happy with him. He’s 100 per cent and he’s drawn perfectly, with his main danger (Apache Shark) drawn eight.” Redwood begins the night with last-start winner Showgun Thomas, with the son of Bettors Delight to come from barrier eight. “He’s got a good draw for him because he’s an opportunist, who can sit on the speed and peel off a pretty good last sectional,” Redwood said. “Andy’s (Gath) horse (Franklin Art) will probably push forward from the pole, so we should get our shot at them.” In the first of the fillies’ heats the Emma Stewart-trained Whirily School will be looking to stretch her record to three wins at her fourth start when she begins from gate four. To be driven by Greg Sugars, the daughter of Courage Under Fire boasts two professional victories over Diamond Jasper at Geelong and Maryborough. Highly-rated pacer Swiftly Tothebeach will line up in the second heat. Backed into $1.40 favourite on debut, Swiftly Tothebeach finished third, beaten two-and-a-half by Whirily School after working in the breeze. HRV Media

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