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The semi-finals of the Southern Cross Series for two-year-old harness racing colts and geldings suggested an excellent final is on the cards this Saturday night, August 1. Glencoe trainer Barry Finnis has a smart two-year-old in Jumping Jolt which gets better with racing and was an all the way winner of the first semi-final. The second semi saw a ‘match race’ between two quality pacers with Presidentmach bringing to an end the winning run of Rap Artist. Jumping Jolt, driven by Jayson Finnis, was able to lead from gate three in the first semi-final as a $3.60 chance, and he dictated with two easy quarters, to win by seven metres from The Big Show ($6.10) with Regal Major ($2.70) nine and a half metres away third. “He has taken a lot of work to get to the track,” Finnis said, “but once he got the idea he has been a quick improver." “He won easily tonight and appreciated being able to lead.” Jumping Jolt is a descendant from one of South Australia’s most well-known female families tracing back to the mighty mare Bonnie Eden, trained by Rex Vanstone and driven by Bill Shinn. She produced the top mare Bonnie Bright who had Bonnie Bonnie and the family goes on to Jamaka Run, the dam of Jumping Jolt. The second semi-final was a thriller. Rap Artist, unbeaten in two starts was a red hot favourite at $1.30 with Presidentmach ($3.50) a winner of his last two starts, considered the only danger. Mark Billinger, the normal driver of Presidentmach, trains and drives Rap Artist, so Danielle Hill got the drive on the Jon Kingston-Mayne trained gelding. On the first score up, Presidentmach, from gate one, was unruly causing a false start, but on the second start he came away perfectly and held Rap Artist, from gate two, out forcing the favourite to sit outside him. After a comfortable 31.1 first quarter, Billinger started applying the pressure but Presidentmach answered the challenge. The pair came home with 29.0 and 28.8 final quarters but Presidentmach was too good scoring by a metre and a half from Rap Artist and they spaced v b  the rest with Alldaybliss ($25.10) 31 and a half metres away third. But for his indiscretion, Presidentmach will be placed out of the draw for this week’s final. Danielle Hill said it was unfortunate. “If I had driven him before I would have been more away of his characteristics, and it was this reason he played up the first time,” Hill said. “Once I was aware of his habits he was no problem the second time.” Billinger said he was pleased with Rap Artist’s run. “I know the winner is pretty smart and it was always going to be tough to sit outside him and win,” Billinger said. Graham Fischer 

Inspirational reinswoman Danielle Hill chalked up her 100th winner for the season at the harness racing meeting at Globe Derby Park on Friday night on the appropriately named Hez The One Then on Monday, she added another four on the eight-race program. Reaching 100 wins was remarkable milestone for the talented 30-year-old who has only one eye after an horrific fall at Globe Derby in May 2010. The fact that Dani, as she is affectionately known, is driving at all is a tribute to her courage and tenacity, but to drive her 100th winner in a season is testament to her talent. “Yes it was an extra special thrill,” Dani said. “I drove 122 winners in 2008/09 but to reach 100 this season means more because of everything that has happened. “But I have had a wonderful team behind me that helped me reach the milestone. “That goes back to the surgeons, rehab people and more recently the trainers who have been prepared to let me drive their horses.” Dani’s ability was well known as in 2009 at the Gold Coast she landed the Australasian Young Drivers Championship beating a group of drivers including present day stars such as Dexter Dunn, Nathan Williamson, and Amanda Turnbull. But her whole world changed on a Monday afternoon, May 17 in 2010 at Globe Derby Park when Puaxtacy crashed to the track which resulted in the loss of her right eye plus facial fractures to her cheek, jaw and nose. She also suffered bleeding to the brain. Her injuries eventually healed but despite a lot of hard work, surgeons couldn’t repair the break of the optic nerve to the brain. According to Dani, out of adversity came a treasure. During her recovery time, Dani and partner, champion reinsman David Harding, celebrated the arrival of a daughter Brooke. “Before the accident I had no plans of being a mum, now I can’t understand how I could’ve wanted anything else.” Brooke is now four and as Dani celebrates her milestone, ironically she is helping Harding recover from a dislocated hip and ankle fractures incurred in a fall on June 8 which will see him sidelined for many months. “I actually love training more than driving,” Danni said. “But financially I have to keep driving to supplement the training. “I get a real buzz from starting from scratch and trying to get a horse to race to its potential. “After the injuries, all I wanted to do was get back to training and was happy to adjust to only having the one eye when driving trackwork. “After a while, the next step was to driving with other horses around and fortunately my peripheral vision is extremely good. “Like every driver, I hear horses on my outside coming up, the only difference is I have to turn my head a bit more than previously. Once that was mastered it was into trials and then making the decision to drive in races. “I was a bit ring rusty early but quickly everything came together.” It certainly has with 94 winners in 2012/13 then 91 winners in 2013/14, and now 100 and still going with the season going to the end of August. Dani admits she is still inconvenienced by the loss an eye. “I still bump into things from time to time,” she said. “And I really do have a lot of trouble with escalators when they reach the top and turn into steps, but that’s life.” There can be no doubting the courage and tenacity of Danielle Hill, a true inspiration. Graham Fischer

Talented Victorian harness racing three year old Hez The One came home a strong winner of heat one of the Trotsguide.Com.Au Southern Cross for three-year-old colts and geldings over 2230m.   Trainer Rebecca East, from Heywood, said Hez The One had tended to over race but was starting to learn to race more tractably.   East paid credit to driver Danielle Hill who had the gelding pacing truly at the rear of the field in the heat before bringing him with a well time run to win.   It was Hill’s 100th win for the season.   A well backed $4.20 chance, Hez The One scored by two and a half metres from the pacemaker Officianado ($3.40) with The Dapper Don ($15.50) was 11 metres away third.   The three-year-old was bred and is part-owned at Portland in Victoria by Graham Cole who shares ownership with Graham McDonald from Port MacDonnell in South Australia.   “He has always been a bit head strong,” East said. “While he has been a very good horse for us, he has not always helped himself by being too keen in his races.   “That was a bit of an issue last time at Mildura but tonight he was a lot better for Danni.”   It proved to be an interesting heat with Officianado leading and the $2.10 favourite Hit Maka on his back.   Just after midway through the race driver Ryan Hryhorec had the option to come off the fence and take the one-one position but history would show it was an error as the master reinsman found himself in a pocket until 200 metres from home when the race was over for him as a winning chance.   Jayson Finniss, on Officianado, aware of Hryhorec’s predicament, dashed for home, but Hez The One was winding up out wide and finished best to score.   It was a good night for East with Hez The One qualifying for the Southern Cross semi-finals while at Melton in Victoria, East’s partner Kevin Brough had two-year-old filly Just Wantano qualify for the final of the Empires Stallions Vicbred final by finishing second to Whirily School.   With his victory Hez The One built his career record to 12 wins from just 20 starts with five placings.   East said the gelding would return home before contesting the $9505 Horsham Guineas (2200m) on Wednesday, July 8.   Graham Fischer

The mid-north South Australian town of Burra, is currently enjoying an involvement in harness racing. The Shylad Racing Group, consisting of two electricians and a business manager, is a part-owner of two-year-old filly Celebrity Guest, a winner of the SA BOTRA Xmas in July Two-Year-Old Fillies Southern Cross Heat (1800m) at Globe Derby Park. David Hook, manager of the syndicate said the Emma Stewart-trained filly was the latest in a great ride in harness racing. “Dad, Jack, was good friends with Bruce Cameron, and he first got involved quite a few years ago,” David said. “Bruce keeps breeding these horses and we’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in some smart ones such as Beauty Secret, Secret Life and Lovelist. “Unfortunately Dad passed away before Beauty Secret really hit her form so that was a bit sad but we are loving our time in the sport and thank Bruce for including us.” A basically unbackable $1.10 favourite in her Southern Cross heat, Celebrity Guest was expected to have no trouble from gate one but the event proved a more exciting race than many might have expected. Driven by Danielle Hill, Celebrity Guest began fairly but Hilltop Sophia ($7.30) and Lily Thesinger ($34.90) began well from gates three and five and there was a race to find a leader resulting in a 13 second lead time. Celebrity Guest managed to hold her rivals out with Hilltop Sophia, the second favourite, sat parked outside the lead. Hill managed a 32.2 second lead time after the early race, quickened up to a 31.2 second quarter then let Celebrity Guest loose with a smart 27.8 third quarter which most would have thought would have left her rivals in her wake. Not so, Hilltop Sophia hung her to her coat tails, and more than matched the burst and driver Aaron Bain took advantage of the sprint lane in the home straight to launch a challenge but the winning post arrived. In a final quarter of 29.4, Celebrity Guest held firm to win by two and a half metres from Hilltop Sophia with Lily Thesinger running very well to be third, 13-and-a-half metres away. Graham Fischer

The Big Show lived up to his name with a last to first performance in the Harness Racing South Australia SA BOTRA Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings final (1800m) at Globe Derby Park. And it was a new set of shoes that helped deliver the victory. And luck was also on the side of part-owner-trainer Kevin Von Duve, from Glencoe in the South-East of South Australia. His car broke down on the way to the track and Kevin, and wife Lyn, the other part-owner, thought they might not make it in time but the problem was fixed and maybe a win was just meant to be. The Big Show, a $33 chance and driven by Danni Hill, scored a neck win from Tyrion ($6.60) with the pacemaker Alto Cumulus ($3.50) three and a half metres away third. Von Duve gave part-credit to the win to Timothy McLean who drove The Big Show in the semi-final a week earlier but who could not drive in the final because of other commitments. “Tim said he felt the horse wasn’t comfortable and suggested a different pair of shoes which I put on and here is the result,” Von Duve said. “I only heard on Thursday that Tim wouldn’t be able to drive so I text Danni. She accepted and did a great job.” Danni Hill was very excited after the win. “He (The Big Show) went super,” Danni said. “The pace was on and I thought he may be able to run on but couldn’t get the lead into the race that I wanted. “But he kept coming and sprinted strongly up the straight – it was brilliant.” The race was made for a swooper as Alto Cumulus led with a 30.2 first quarter but Jock Dunlop on the $2.20 favourite Regal Major was caught wide and opted to go and sit outside the leader keeping the pressure on. As a result 29.7 and 29.9 second and third quarters meant a horse from the back had the chance to run home and score and that was The Big Show in a 31.4 final quarter. Von Duve, a plumber by trade, has been involved in harness racing on-and-off for 30 years training initially, but after having a medical issue, was an owner before taking up training a few years ago. He also has the good pacer Mayorofshinetown. “I bought the Major In Art gelding in Melbourne at a yearling sale. He looked good and was in our price range ($5750) and as soon as I broke him in I thought he might be a nice type.” With a first prize of $17,378, The Big Show has already made himself a cheap buy.” by Graham Fischer South Australia Harness Racing

Local harness racing favourite Danni Hill grabbed a slice of harness racing history at Globe Derby last night. Hill guided boom filly Whats Emma Got to an impressive victory in the South Australia Oaks to become just the second reinswoman to capture the Blue Riband. Kath Gath – or Thompson as she was at the time – was the ground breaker by annexing the 2004 edition with Yada Yada Yada. The Oaks has been part of the racing calendar since 1956. As for Hill’s moment in the limelight, it was one of the easiest wins witnessed in the time-honoured event. Beginning quickly to lead from the pole, Whats Emma Got was allowed to stroll along at an even tempo as her main danger, Looks Like Heaven, awaited the sprint lane. Kicking clear at the top of the home straight, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear was untroubled on her way to a three-and-a-half metre win from Looks Like Heaven, with Tauto Jane five metres away third. “From the draw she was always going to be hard to beat, with Looks Like Heaven the biggest threat on our back,” Hill said. “In the end she did it pretty easily and had them all covered a long way out. “She felt good on the line and could have gone a lot quicker if needed.” Trained by Glenda Fuller, the three-year-old rated a snail-like 2:05.9 for the 2230 metres, taking her record to an imposing 16 wins and four placings from 20 starts. Set to enjoy an easy week, Whats Emma Got may be interstate-bound, with connections considering a trip across the border for the Victoria Oaks in April. While that trip is yet to be confirmed, Whats Emma Got will be given the opportunity to defend her Southern Cross title in August. PAUL COURTS

Local harness racing favourite Danni Hill will be aiming to break a female drought in Saturday night’s South Australia Oaks. As crazy as that sounds given the Oaks is for fillies, the time-honoured event has been dominated by male participants in recent years. In fact, it has been more than a decade since a reinswoman captured the Blue Riband. That honour went to Kate Gath, who captured the 2004 edition with Yada Yada Yada.   Gath is the only reinswoman to secure the Oaks since its inception in 1956. Hill will partner boom filly Whats Emma Got, which appears to have been handed the feature on a silver platter. Successful at seven of her eight starts for the term, the Glenda Fuller-trained pacer has drawn to led throughout from the pole. Whats Emma Got’s only defeat for the season was an eye-catching third in last month’s SA Derby. Thrilled with the draw, Fuller is confident Whats Emma Got can lead throughout the 2230-metre trip. “She’s drawn very nicely and hopefully she can do it justice,” Fuller said. “She’s been going very well and we’re really happy with her. “I am really pleased with her work and she will be hard to beat.” Citing Victorian raider Looks Like Heaven as the main danger, Fuller also rates Tauto Jane as a threat. Tauto Jane will begin from gate three, while Looks Like Heaven is set to trail Whats Emma Got and await the sprint lane from the inside of the second row.” “Looks Like Heaven would be the biggest concern,” Fuller said. “We’ll just have to try and hold her off in the straight. “Tauto Jane is also a nice filly and has drawn well.” PAUL COURTS

Less than halfway through the harness racing season and Danni Hill has reached the halfway point of her goal for the term. South Australia’s only reinswoman to register a century, Hill is aiming to pass the ton for the first time since her horrific fall in 2010. After being sidelined for two years - during which time she had a daughter, Brooke – Hill was back doing what she does best, driving winners, with one mission in mind…another century. To her dismay, Hill fell agonising close, with 94 wins for the term, followed by 91 last season. Thanks to her treble at Mildura last night, Hill is sitting on 50 wins. “It was certainly worth to the trip to Mildura,” Hill said. “All of the horses went well and to come home with a treble is great. “It’s been a good first half of the season and hopefully it can continue for the second half.” Hill opened her interstate account with Kodiemali, which led throughout to beat Skylarker and Our Leo. The popular driver then completed a running double when classy filly, Whats Emma Got, proved too slick over 2190. Leading from barrier six, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear was untouched on her way to a 16-and-a-half metre win from Sur Le Feu, with Beilharz a metre away third. “She is such a nice filly and did it pretty easily again,” Hill said. “Once she led she was never going to be run down.” Hill’s hat-trick came with True Character, which led throughout to score from Mustang Luke and Boneshaka. Hill went close to a quartet when beaten by a short half-head with Isajet. PAUL COURTS

When she returned to racing after being sidelined for two years due to horrific injuries, popular harness racing identity Danni Hill set herself a goal. Before the 2010 race crash that nearly cost Hill her career, the record-breaking driver became the first South Australian reinswoman to register a century season…which she achieved in 2008/09. On target to repeat the dose the following year, Hill’s life was turned upside down when she hospitalised with shocking cuts to her face on May 17, 2010. Hill’s injuries included a sunken eye socket, broken jaw, nose and cheek after being trod on by the only runner following her – Il Sogno. Two years later - during which time she had a daughter, Brooke – Hill was back doing what she does best, driving winners, with one mission in mind…another century. To her dismay, Hill fell agonising close, with 94 wins for the term, followed by 91 last season. “I was pretty upset to miss the 100 in my first season back,” Hill declared. “Given what I had been through, it was a target I really want to hit. “Last year I came close again, but I did have a lot less drives. “It’s still a goal I want to reach and will be giving it my all this season, so hopefully I can get there.” Thanks to a sensational patch of form, Hill is well and truly on the way to surpassing 100 wins this season. After registering a quartet at Globe Derby yesterday, Hill’s tally is sitting on 38, which also has her positioned second on the state’s premiership. Heading the table just happens to be Brooke’s father, David Harding, giving him bragging rights in the family. Hill’s wins came with Count Down Lombo, Khaleesi, Ministry and Big Majority. PAUL COURTS

When she returned to racing after being sidelined for two years due to horrific injuries, popular harness racing identity Danni Hill set herself a goal. Before the 2010 race crash that nearly cost Hill her career, the record-breaking driver became the first South Australian reinswoman to register a century season…which she achieved in 2008/09. On target to repeat the dose the following year, Hill’s life was turned upside down when she hospitalised with shocking cuts to her face on May 17, 2010. Hill’s injuries included a sunken eye socket, broken jaw, nose and cheek after being trod on by the only runner following her – Il Sogno. Two years later - during which time she had a daughter, Brooke – Hill was back doing what she does best, driving winners, with one mission in mind…another century. To her dismay, Hill fell agonising close, with 94 wins for the term, followed by 91 last season. “I was pretty upset to miss the 100 in my first season back,” Hill declared. “Given what I had been through, it was a target I really want to hit. “Last year I came close again, but I did have a lot less drives. “It’s still a goal I want to reach and will be giving it my all this season, so hopefully I can get there.” Thanks to a sensational patch of form, Hill is well and truly on the way to surpassing 100 wins this season. After registering a quartet at Globe Derby last Monday behind Cheap Tint, Evelyn Jay, Call Me Spartacus and Copper Coast, Hill repeated the dose at the same venue on Saturday night, taking her tally for the term to 22. “Monday was the first time since I’ve been back that I’ve driven four winners at a meeting,” Hill said. “I had a good set of drives and thought I’d go close in a few races.” Hill then had a string of near-misses, with four seconds on Friday night before four completing victories to round out the week. Opening her account with Rejuvenation, Hill then scored with Cheap Tint, Komaru and Nothing Else Matters. Hill is also the trainer of Cheap Tint, Nothing Else Matters, Copper Coast and Call Me Spartacus. “It’s funny how things can work out,” Hill declared. “I went into Friday night’s program thinking I had a few solid chances and walked away with four seconds. “I also had several good drives on Saturday, but then when I finished second in the first race I started thinking it was going to be another night of being the runner-up. “Thankfully the seconds turned into wins and it was a great night.” Those looking to cash in on Hill’s purple patch, she has there drives at Globe Derby today – Emilys Vacation (race two – number two), Kingsford (race four – number one) and Linvel Buffy (race four – number one). PAUL COURTS

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