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He’s earned almost a half a million dollars on the track and has been a top three finisher at 70% of his race starts - Five Card Draw is a quality racehorse and is set to be the headliner at the Melbourne Cup Day harness racing meeting at Gympie on Tuesday. Fernvale trainer Darrel Graham will take a truckload of horses to Gympie Racecourse and the stable’s 2015 Redcliffe Gold Cup runner-up Five Card Draw will head up the Gympie team. A multiple Group 1 winner in New Zealand and Group 3 winner in Queensland with a career best mile rate of 1.54.1, Five Card Draw resumes from a let-up at Albion Park on Saturday night in a Q2-Q3 Pace and then will back up three days later to have his first try on the thoroughbred sand racetrack at Gympie. In all Graham will have 11 horses racing on Cup day, he’ll start seven at Gympie and four at Redcliffe with the Peninsula starters in the care of his daughter Brittany.It will be the first drive on the Gympie sand track for Darrel Graham who is known for his have sulky will travel philosophy. “I love driving at these places and supporting the country meetings,” Graham said. “I’ve driven in every harness racing state in Australia, except South Australia and just about every track in every other state." “I always supported Queensland’s country tracks at Rocky, Townsville and Mackay, when they were open and I’m happy to be spending Cup day driving at Gympie and taking my good horses there." “Five Card Draw just had a little issue last time in and has come back good, we will also start another good horse on the team, Mafuta  Vautin at this meeting.” Mafuta Vautin raced by Graham’s wife Linda is a classy racehorse and was a Group 2 winner in the QBred 4yo Triad Final and a Listed Race winner in the QBred Breeders Classic 4yo Final last season. The Rollon Bigred five-year-old pacer has an impeccable record winning 12 of his 18 race starts. Mafuta Vautin hasn’t raced since June. All four races at Gympie are over the 1950 metre course from a mobile start. Graham’s 11 Cup day starters are: Gympie -  Race 1: Millar Montana (4); Lord Baltimore (5) | Race 2: Red Luck (6) | Race 3: Rubys Bad Boy (4); Mafuta Vautin (5) | Race 4: Five Card Draw (4); Rummiking (5) Redcliffe - Race 2: Sista To Mafuta (6) | Race 3: Another Broiadway (5) | Race 4: Lord Jones (1) | Race 5 Montana Falcon (6) David Aldred

LEADING Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham has met Peter Moody to discuss their collective bewilderment over positive tests to cobalt. While not formally charged, Graham has been notified his stable star Mafuta Vautin returned a positive test to cobalt in winning the $50,000 Qbred Triad final at Albion Park on May 30. Leading thoroughbred trainer Moody is fighting a case where Lidari tested positive when placing in the Turnbull Stakes last October. Graham was two days into a recent US holiday when he received news of the swab. Mafuta Vautin, named after colourful rugby league identity Paul Vautin, returned a cobalt reading of 342 micrograms a litre, well above the permitted reading of 200. “I am bewildered,’’ Graham said. “I don’t know anything about the stuff. I wouldn’t even know how to use it or have a clue what it looks like.’’ Representatives from the Day and McDowell families, harness racing licensees who faced cobalt charges, were also present at the meeting with Moody and Graham in Sydney on. Dean McDowell and Neil Day have been suspended for four years on cobalt charges and another three years for failing to attend the hearings. The meeting was also attended by former leading jockey turned trainer Kevin Moses, recently banned for a year for presenting a horse with an elevated cobalt reading. The meeting discussed if horses could have a cobalt level of more than 200mpl by accidental use of supplements. Cobalt use was originally detected in harness horses in the US and tests revealed that it was performance enhancing and a threat to a horse’s heart and nervous system.  

The two latest Queensland trainers to become embroiled in racing’s cobalt doping scandal have claimed their innocence and plan to fight to clear their names. Toowoomba thoroughbred trainer Rochelle Smith will face a stewards’ inquiry next week after two horses in her care returned positives to cobalt. The Smith-trained Vimzig returned a cobalt positive sample after winning a race at Toowoomba on May 16 and stablemate Grey Countess also returned a reading above the cobalt threshold when finishing second in a race at the Gold Coast on May 30. One of the state’s biggest names in harness racing, Darrel Graham also faces an inquiry early next month after his horse Mafuta Vautin returned a positive cobalt reading after winning the Group 2 Qbred Triad 4YO Entires & Geldings Final at Albion Park on May 30. All three positive samples were recorded on dates well after the 200 microgram per litre of urine national cobalt threshold was introduced for both codes. The Courier-Mail can also reveal there has been a further cobalt irregularity recorded in Queensland harness racing. The Queensland harness trainer involved with the irregularity has been notified but RQ stewards are waiting on secondary tests to come back before laying any possible charges. Graham, who is third in the statewide trainers’ premiership this season with his horses earning more than $643,000 in prizemoney in 2014-15, said he was stunned by the positive reading. “I’m completely bamboozled and I’ve had 130 winners for the season and all of a sudden one of these come up,” said Graham, who is currently in America. “The horse was a ($1.40) favourite and we own the horse ourselves and he drew one and if you have a look at the horse’s performances he has had (18 starts and won 12 of them).” Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Smith, who has been training in Toowoomba for eight years, also pleaded her innocence on Tuesday. “Since being informed of the positives I’ve done some research into numerous supplements that we use that contain levels of cobalt so that’s the avenue I’m investigating,” she said. “I’ve had other winners around the same time and all of our horses are treated the same so I was shocked that some had (cobalt positives) and some haven’t. “I’m blown away especially at the levels of one of them.” COBALT INQUIRY WIDENS TO COAST The new positives come after Queensland thoroughbred trainers Jamie McConachy and Len Treloar, who no longer holds a trainers’ licence in Queensland, and harness trainers Shawn Grimsey, Trevor Lambourn and Ken Belford all had horses return positives to cobalt last year. McConachy was found guilty on Tuesday of presenting Vandalised to race in the 2014 Rockhampton Cup with cobalt in his system. By Brad Davidson Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

The harness racing favourites displayed their class in the QBRED Triad Finals at Albion Park last Saturday night. A pair of Gr.1 $100,000 finals was held for the three-year-olds and the results didn’t shock anyone with classy colt A Good Chance breaking through for a well-deserved triumph in the colts and geldings final while stablemates Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial fought out the finish in the fillies final. Sent off at odds of $1.30, A Good Chance speared straight to the front in the 2138m feature and was perfectly rated in front by his driver Chris Petroff before kicking clear heading off the back straight. In the home straight, A Good Chance held off a determined finish from Drifting Away to score by a half neck margin while Duke Jujon took inside to grab third some ten metres away. The mile rate was 1;57.5 with his final mile covered in splits of 31.5, 29.9 27.7 and 28.7 seconds. A Good Chance is raced by Maureen Smith while prepared by her husband Donny. The Mr Feelgood – Chance The Walk colt has amassed more than $155,000. In the fillies’ final, the Shannon Price trained Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial were expected to fight out the finish and it went to script. Almost. Bettorthanspecial was the best backed runner and started the favourite at $1.60 while Bettor Promise started at odds of $2.60 but it was the latter that led throughout to score in the feature event. Bettor Promise, handled by Bart Cockburn proved too strong defeating Bettorthanspecial while Feel The Faith ran an excellent third after working hard throughout. The mile rate was 1;57.0 with the final mile covered in splits of 29.1, 30.7, 29.2 and 28.5 seconds. The Price fillies repeated their efforts of last season with a top two finish in the Triad Final after Bettorthanspecial beat Bettor Promise but this season was a reverse result. The Bettor's Delight – As Promised filly has now banked more than $158,000. In the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad Final 4yo Mares Final, race favourite Joys A Babe proved too classy defeating Il Cavalino and Charming Allie in a time of 1;58.8 for the 2138m. Despite being crossed at the start by Il Cavalino, trainer/driver Grant Dixon quickly worked around to re-take the lead and put the event beyond doubt after scoring comfortably at the finish by 3.5 metres. The Art Major – Joy To Behold mare has built up a fine record for her owner/breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour and the victory pushed her earning past $200,000. Joys A Babe has won 16 of her 27 starts to date. In the 4yo entires and geldings final, Mafuta Vautin justified his favoritism ($1.40) when he led throughout defeating Raring To Go and The Duke Downunder. Mafuta Vautin recorded a time of 1;56.7 while running his final mile in splits of 31.1, 29.7, 28.9 and 28.6 seconds. Handled by young New Zealand born reinsman Adam Sanderson for trainer Darrel Graham, the Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding made a clean sweep of the QBRED features this term after taking the Breeders Classic earlier this season. Bred and raced by Albion Park committeeperson Linda Graham, Mafuta Vautin has now won 11 of his 15 starts with earnings approaching $100,000. Racing Queensland

New Zealand harness racing reinsman Adam Sanderson has been thrust into the ‘hot’ seat this weekend. But it’s a role he’s comfortable with. Leading trainer and his boss, Darrel Graham, has stepped aside and entrusted Sanderson with a key book of drives including Mafuta Vautin in the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad 4yo Entires and Geldings Final plus Chattanoogachoochoo (Christian Cullen) in the $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final. This is nothing new for the stable; Sanderson got the call-up to partner giant filly Montana Marie in the 2013 Gr.2 $75,000 Seymour Nursery Pace Final and duly saluted that night. The 26yo is cool under pressure. “I’ve got some good opportunities this weekend and I’m looking forward to the challenge, Mafuta Vautin has an excellent draw while Chattanoogachoochoo has a shocking draw so it’s a mixed bag in that respect.” Sanderson said. Mafuta Vautin will start a short priced favourite after landing the inside gate and his recent form is very strong including his victory in the QBRED Breeders Classic Final on March 27. The Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding has started once since that victory and proved too good when leading throughout at Redcliffe in a heat of a Rising Stars Championship but was subsequently scratched from the final. But Graham is confident his charge is in great shape. “It wasn’t anything serious but just enough not to risk him with this race in mind and he’s trained on really well since so I’m confident he’s ready to go. The barrier draw is perfect so hopefully it’s a case of aim and shoot,” Graham said. “I’m happy to take a backseat role this weekend, Linda (wife) and I bred this horse and he’s done an amazing job winning 10 of his 14 starts and I’m looking forward to sitting in the stands with Linda and Stephanie and cheering on both Adam (Mafuta Vautin) and Brittany (My Arthur Bee) in this feature event. “Both kids are driving in good form currently and they both deserve this opportunity so I’ll be leading the cheering from the stands.” Chattanoogachoochoo scored a decisive victory in the heat of the Rising Stars on Tuesday afternoon but fellow heat winner Alleluia (Art Major) drew favourably off the front-line and will start from gate five. Connections are looking at several features in the coming weeks with the winter carnival just around the corner. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015

Former New Zealand gelding Chattanoogachoochoo is the stable star for harness racing trainer Darrel Graham. The Fernvale based horseman registered another century season as trainer yesterday (Tuesday) when his Kiwi import raced away to claim victory in a heat of the weekly Seymour Rising Stars Championship at Albion Park. It’s the third straight season the astute mentor has racked up big numbers. But he’s quick to deflect the praise. “It’s a team effort and I’m lucky to have a great support crew; my wife Linda plus Adam Sanderson and my two girls Brittany and Stephanie all provide in many ways and it’s greatly appreciated. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.” Graham said. Chattanoogachoochoo now looms as a genuine threat in Saturday’s $20,000 final but has drawn poorly yet again while main dangers Alleluia (5) and Floyd Mayweather (1) both drew favourably. Alleluia rated 1;55.3 in his heat success while Chattanoogachoochoo rated a slightly slower 1;56.6. “I’ve been really happy with the gelding by Christian Cullen since he arrived from New Zealand but we’re not having much luck with draws and luck in running. His record could easily be a lot better but the wheel will turn and we will be ready to make the most of it when it comes our way. “His best asset is his speed and he showed that with his victory yesterday, he stood the leader up a tidy start at the top of the stretch and he grabbed him pretty quickly and won comfortably. We’re going to need a genuine speed in the final and hopefully they go hard from the start which will then give us a chance of finishing off late. “He’s beaten both Alleluia and Floyd Mayweather previously so I know he’s capable but the draw is unkind. Win, lose or draw this weekend, we’re looking at the Premiers Cup with him because he’s a good stand-start horse.” The Graham family are still on a high following the success of Brittany last weekend when successful in the BOTRA Young Drivers Championship series after edging out Hayden Barnes by a solitary point. In July, Brittany heads to North America along with Trent Moffat for a month long learning experience attending some of the country’s premier racetracks and training facilities. They were announced winners of the Mercedes Benz Centenary Classic Young Achievers Award at last year’s Awards night in Brisbane. Both Darrel and Linda are likely to make the trip to the land of Stars and Stripes in support of their daughter. by Chris Barsby

Leading Brisbane harness racing trainer Darrel Graham is hoping the feature race success continues. Fresh from his success last week with Mafuta Vautin in the $25,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final for 4yo Entires and Geldings at Albion Park, Graham is now eyeing off the Easter Gift. The $16,000 event is programmed for the C2/C5 pacers and has attracted a strong field but Graham has a pair of former Kiwi pacers that look well placed. Graham has last start winners Chattanoogachoochoo and Five Card Draw lining-up in the 2138m feature but both have drawn the second-line. “I’m really happy with both horses and this race looks ideal to kick start their latest campaigns. Obviously the barrier draws could’ve been better but I’m confident both horses will perform at the required level.” Graham said. Chattanoogachoochoo is the most recent addition to his Fernvale stables after being purchased following his victory at Rangiora on February 26. The Christian Cullen gelding was placed in 1:52.7 at Ashburton two starts ago after coming from a long way back. Since arriving in Brisbane, Chattanoogachoochoo was struck down by a virus which forced his scratching from the recent Gr.2 $50,000 Silks Restaurant Cup series but a sharp trial earlier this week proved he was back on track. Chattanoogachoochoo won the 1660m trial defeating open class performer Terror Time in a time of 1;56.2 coming off the speed. “It was a nice trial, we got an easy run just off the pace and he finished really well once he got clear while running good sectionals." "It was just a quiet trial in lead-up to this assignment this weekend." “The virus wasn’t bad but I wasn’t going to take any risks with him so that’s why we pulled him out of that series a few weeks ago, the winter carnival is fast approaching and there’s plenty of good money races available so it was the best decision to make." “I think he’s a nice horse with good speed so we’re hoping he can measure up around carnival time, this race looks an ideal starting point for him and I’m happy with the way he’s come through the trial.” Last start Gr.3 $45,000 4yo Championship winner Five Card Draw is resuming since July last year but following a spate of recent trials, the former New Zealand 2yo of the Year appears ready. The Bettors Delight gelding is carrying extra condition but Graham is confident he will perform well fresh. “We decided to give him a good break at the end of his last campaign, he’s done a super job and we gave him a couple of months off, he spent his time at Dean’s (Shannon – owner) property at Maleny." “We’re looking at the winter carnival with this guy as well, we know he’s up to that level and we’ll head that way in the coming months." He’s had a few trials in recent weeks and his most recent on Tuesday night was pleasing when second behind Epaulette." “They went solid time in the trial and he chased strongly, he had a good blow after and has trained on well since." "Whatever he does this weekend, he will improve considerably which is what we want.” Graham will partner Chattanoogachoochoo while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson will take the lines behind Five Card Draw. Both pacers are raced by Dean Shannon. Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland

Harness racing is very competitive at the best of times but add a bit of Trans Tasman rivalry to the mix and it becomes ultra competitive. That is the best way to describe the Australasian Young Guns Challenge which has been played out at Ashburton Raceway on Thursday and Alexandra Park last night. With funding help from long time Queensland harness racing supporter Kevin Seymour, seven drivers from the sunshine state have spent Cup Week in New Zealand. While here they have competed against the leading South Island drivers in a race on Thursday at Ashburton and against the leading North Island drivers in a race at Alexandra Park last night. One of the Queenslanders to impress a few of the local judges is young Hayden Barnes who incidentally celebrated his 19th birthday on New Zealand Cup day. That must have been a good omen as Hayden was a close second on Ranfurly Rulz at Ashburton and drove Millie Sampson to a convincing win at Alexandra Park last night. Hayden’s passion for the sport of harness racing came from his father, Al Barnes. As time went by and with his love and interest of the horses continuing to grow, school became more of a distraction. Deciding to leave school in grade 10, Hayden managed to secure a position with the Darrel Graham stable. After three and a half years of working for Darrel, Hayden had gained a great start in his career and his education continued.  Last season Hayden was offered a job working with the newly established Turpin McMullen racing team, led by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, which he accepted. On the last night of the 2013 racing season, Hayden’s biggest win thus far came when partnering My Jellignite who scored in a brisk 1.53.3 rate in an Open class event at Albion Park. Hayden has already chalked up eight winners so far this season in Queensland from just fifty drives and looks to be a young driver with a big future in the sport. Harnesslink Media    

Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham registered a personal milestone at Redcliffe yesterday. No stranger to setting records and enjoying magic moments, Graham trained a career best five winners on the seven-race card. In what was a perfect result for the astute mentor, Graham also prepared a quinella. Graham is only third trainer to achieve the feat at the track, with Les Hartley the first on June 3, 1961, followed by Bill Dixon on July 16, 2008. Hartley and Dixon’s hauls did not including any placings. “It was pretty much the best result we could have hoped for,” Graham declared. “We took six to the races and got five winners and a quinella. “The only possible way it could have been more perfect is if the two that ran the quinella dead-heated instead. “I knew a few of them were going to be hard to beat, but you never go to a meeting expecting to win every race you’re in.” Her Ex And I kick started proceedings with Graham in the cart when he upstaged the favourite, Reddy Fire, in 1:58.5 for the 2040 metres. Graham then joined forces with his daughter, Brittany, which drove The Reverend Black to an upset victory. Scoring at the odds of $15.90, the son of Life Sign rated 1:59.1 for the 1780 metres. “I was surprised at what he paid given he’d won two of his previous three starts,” Graham said. Graham then partnered My Arthur Bee to a narrow win before Brittany once again took control of the reins. This time the rising star scored with Better Than Money, which outstayed his rivals over 1780 metres. Brittany was then relegated to runner-up when another rising star driver, Hayden Barnes, combined with Supaliner for an effortless 12-and-a-half metre win from his stablemate, Rubys Bad Boy. PAUL COURTS

Smart filly Montana Marie was recently retired, but another one of Darrell Graham’s pacing stars is well into his comeback. Brilliant pacer Lanercost, who stood at Yirribee Stud during the breeding season, is back on the racetrack after being retired due to ongoing ham-string issues. And that comeback took a serious step forward on Monday when the speedster, who Graham describes as the quickest horse he has ever sat behind, won a trial impressively at Albion Park in a mile rate of 1-55.7. The comeback is shades of For A Reason, who also stood a season at Yirribee, before embarking on an amazing comeback which saw him win the Victoria Cup and place in both the Miracle Mile and Interdominion Final. Even more coincidental, is the fact the Lanercost and For A Reason are the same age and were the two dominant three and four-year-olds of their respective seasons. It is likely that the former Chariots Of Fire winner, who has earned $A506, 000 in stakes, will target the upcoming Brisbane carnival. Meanwhile, the Queensland campaign of the smart Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained three-year-old Aldo Rossi is over before it even began. "He was fine when he left here but he has picked up a bug somewhere along the way and it has caused a throat infection which has affected his breathing,” said Mark Purdon on his All Stars website. “He will need a decent spell over there now and it is bad luck for all concerned,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson

The Newcastle Harness Racing Club is very proud that this Friday night will see the 56th running of the Newcastle Cup. This makes it the longest running Cup race in New South Wales and one of the longest in Australia. The first Cup was run in 1954 and was won by Ellicot which was driven by Les keys. The Cup was not run from 1975 to 1978. Joe Ilsley drove Golden Cycle to win the 1988 Cup which was the last one run at the Broadmeadow showground which had been the home of harness racing for some 40 years. Thorate won the 1989 Cup for Brian Hancock with the race being run at Cessnock that year while the new track was being built at the International Sports Centre. Duchess Dulcinea and Graeme Watts had the honour of winning the first Newcastle Cup run at the new track in 1990. From 1954 to 1988 the Cup was run as a standing start event. It was run as a mobile from 1990 to 93 then reverted to a stand in 1994. Ultra Jet for David Aiken won the 1994 Cup off a 20 metre handicap in a world record time of 3.06.4 for the 2550 metre trip with a mile rate of 1.57.6. Many great drivers and horses have won or contested the Newcastle Cup including Merv Adams, Kevin Newman, Bill Hansell, Brian Hancock, Howard James, Denis Wilson, David Aiken, Norm Baker, Charlie McDeed, Joe Ilsley, Michael Ilsley, John Binskin, Darrell Graham, Graeme Watts and Blake Fitzpatrick. The Hunter Valley is well represented by such horseman as Herb Morgan, Fred Barnes, Ted Tessier, Jack Andrews, Norm Williams, Clive Johnson, Jim Robb, Bill Reynolds, Doug Clark, Jim McManus, Jason Proctor, Neville Greenwood and Neil Thompson. Some of the stand out horses to contest the Newcastle Cup include Match Point, Craig Tom, Road Hog, Bold Judy, Penny Jack, Flash Adios, Michael Frost, Nigra Sum, Thorate, Generator, Tallowood Pursuit, Rollon Big Red, Nidya {who won the 50th Cup},Lady Lexus, Mach Wiper and last year's winner Feels Like magic. The Newcastle Cup was first run in 1954 and despite some changes to the format the race still holds its place as a time honoured event in the sport. The Group 3 $30,000 Morpeth Limousines Newcastle Cup will jump at 9.10 on Friday night. Visit our web site for a full list of Cup placegetters at Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Leading Queensland harness racing trainer-driver Darrel Graham is looking to end the season on a high. Graham, enjoying his best season to date, prepares giant pacer Montana Falcon who lines up in the $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final at Albion Park this Saturday night. The talented Falcon Seelster gelding looked sharp winning his heat on Tuesday in strong time of 1;54.9 and looms as a major threat in the final despite drawing wide in gate six. “It’s been a long road back for him because we actually removed his splint bone after a training mishap one day but I was really happy with his effort on Tuesday, hopefully with a bit of luck we can take the final which would cap a great season for the stable.” Graham said. The Fernvale based conditioner has prepared over 125 winners this season highlighted by big seasons from stable stars Montana Marie (16 wins) and Emperor Montana (10 wins). Another plus for the stable has been the emergence of young New Zealand horseman Adam Sanderson who has enjoyed his best season with 85 victories including his Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace Final triumph aboard Montana Marie back in May. The wins for Graham in the sulky this season have also flowed with 80 winners to date. “It’s been a terrific season and the results have been very pleasing in many aspects but it’s a team effort and I must pay tribute to my staff that has done a fantastic job. We didn’t travel as much this term compared to previous seasons which have obviously kept the home fires burning. We’ve had a bit of luck picking up a few feature events this season and hopefully we can keep adding to that tally in the new season because I’m happy with the team going forward. The obvious highlight this season was the emergence of Del (Montana Marie) who strung together 12 straight victories while the disappoint of the year was the forced retirement of Lanercost, that was a real shame because he was a freakish pacer but we’re all looking forward to working with his babies in the future.” Leading owner and stable mainstay Dean Shannon is planning on supporting Lanercost strongly in his debut season at stud with at least half of his select band of broodmares set to head his way in the coming months. With the change of season fast approaching, Graham and Shannon will conduct a clean-out next week with several pacers to be placed on the market. “Dean instructed me to sort them out because the numbers were getting up and we’ll have at least 10 horses on the market next week. We had a sale about two years ago now and those horses from that sale ended up doing a good job including the likes of Montana Pablo and White Eye Markei to name a few but with Dean keen on the breeding side we have to keep things on an even keel.” by Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

Barrier draws for the 2013 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-finals have just been released and the eight qualifiers have been defined by the way the numbers have fallen. Plenty of favourites have drawn to advantage, while others will have to overcome trickier starting positions, but it’s something they must all conquer to be crowned Breeders Crown champion on August 18. In race 1 on the program, the American Ideal Breeders Crown semi-final for two-year-old colts and geldings, Kiwi pair Messini and Our Maxim have drawn wide on the front line in five and six respectively. Messini was a brilliant winner in his heat at Bendigo back on July 23, while Our Maxim has taken out New Zealand’s most prominent Sales race the PGG Wrightson, before accounting for a small heat field across the ditch. The Belinda McCarthy-trained Bling It On won’t have it easy from 11 (10 if the emergency is scratched) while Motor Smoker, who continues to improve, has drawn two on the front row. In the second event of the night, the Bettors Delight Breeders Crown semi-final for three-year-old fillies, likely favourite Frith had her grip tightened on the race as she drew pole position over the 2200-metre trip. A winner of the Victoria and WA Oaks already this season, the four time Group 1 winner has only lost one race for the entire season and looks set to extend her outstanding record. It won’t be a walkover however, with Kiwi-cum-Tasmanian filly Delightful Christian drawn directly behind the pole marker and coming off a string of wins that included a Breeders Crown heat success over subsequent repechage winner Nola Mayhem. Southern Cross winner Getya Wings Out will also compete in the same heat, having drawn three to continue her vein of good form. In the first heat for the three-year-old colts and geldings, Tasmanian hope Pachacuti has drawn wide on the front in barrier six, while Victorian fancy Ginger Bliss will need to navigate his way from 10. Echeveira will begin from the extreme draw for Long Forrest team Andy and Kate Gath. The second semi-final for two-year-old colts and geldings has drawn together a class field and last start winner Our Sky Major will no doubt be in the forefront of punters minds from his kind draw of one. With a thoroughly dominant Bray win already under his belt, he will have to compete with Vicbred Super Series winner Major Secret (2) as well as NSW star Lettucerockthem who will follow out Emma Stewart’s half-brother to Beauty Secret. Gritty Bendigo heat winner, All Eyes On Us, will come out of four if the emergency is scratched. Recent Group 1-winner Im Smouldering has drawn two (comes out of one if the emergency is scratched) in the next race while QLD marvel, Montana Marie, will start from directly on her outside for Darrell Graham. Gypsy Babe has been a revelation in recent times but her awkward draw of three on the second row won’t do her any favours in a tricky semi-final. Some of the most talented three-year-old’s in the series have drawn in the second semi-final for the boys and the barrier draws have divided opinions. Bit Of A Legend for Cran Dalgety will start from five while compatriot Border Control starts from just inside him in four. Standout Victorian Nowitzki had his chances dealt a blow when he drew the 11 marble while the promising Chilli Palmer will have to come from the second-widest draw of 12 to qualify for the final. Mindarie Priddy – arguably the star of the pacing series – has drawn seven, giving her the chance to find her feet early in a small field of eight for the first of the semi-finals for two-year-old fillies. New Zealand’s main hope for the juvenile girl’s series, Te Amo Bromac, will start from barrier four with Des McQueen Classic winner Fon Design in pole position. The last race on the night has seen repechage winner Quick Draft come up with barrier one for David Aiken and Chris Alford. Out wider is Whereibylong for Emma Stewart, who produced the filly for a strong first-up win in her heat late last month. For the full fields, barrier draws and form on Saturday night’s Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-final meeting at Ballarat simply click here. by Blake Redden Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing trainer Darrel Graham will carry the weight of a state this Saturday night. The astute Queensland horseman prepares leading chances Montana Marie and Emperor Montana in the two feature events on the opening night of the Brisbane Winter Carnival.

The racing career of brilliant pacer Lanercost is over. Connections have made the decision to retire the multiple Gr.1 winner as he prepares for the next chapter of his career, life as a stud.

It was a phone call under difficult circumstances. Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham, miles away from land as he enjoys a deep sea fishing holiday with friends touched base with stable foreman Adam Sanderson to work out driving engagements for this Saturday night at Albion Park.

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