Forbes will host a Carnival Of Cups meeting on Sunday afternoon and Toby Vautin is hoping to take out the harness racing feature event. Vautin has two runners in the $12,240 Forbes Services Memorial Club Final and both were impressive winners in the heats. Vautin will drive Playful Fella (Artistic Fella) while Casey Williams will partner Early Decision (Dawn Ofa New Day) with both horses set to start off the front row. "It was great to see Playful Fella finally win a race this time in, he has been a little bit frustrating for me and funnily enough I only nominated him for the heats so Early Decision had a travelling companion," Vautin said. "Playful Fella won a number of races early in his career and I decided to give him a good long break after a run at Menangle in January last year. I thought he had the makings of a nice horse and the break might take him to the next level but he has come back and he is not the same horse." Playful Fella defeated Tuapeka Glory in a heat but Vautin has nominated the Wendy Turnbull trained runner as the hardest to beat. "I was able to beat Tuapeka Glory in the heat but it has drawn barrier one this Sunday so it is the logical horse to beat. I'll be trying to get the front early and if I can't I'll race up on the pace because that's where he likes to be. "I actually think Early Decision is the better of my two chances, I'm driving Playful Fella because he can be a bit of a handful to drive." Early Decision has been plagued by bad barrier draws recently and that trend continued this weekend with the gelding set to start from barrier six. "I think he has drawn inside gate five once in his last fourteen or fifteen starts, he is the most honest horse you could find. He tries hard every start you give him and he'll just need a little bit of luck in the early stages. "I will be instructing Casey to come out on him early and look to slot in somewhere. The owners wanted to give Casey a chance to drive him because she helps out around the stable when she can, it was definitely the right thing to do." Early Decision won his heat by more than ten metres and Vautin is confident the gelding can win more races if he can get some luck with the barrier draws. "His luck will come, hopefully he gets the luck on Sunday. If I was to run first and second this weekend I reckon it would make my day a great one." Forbes will run seven races on Sunday with the first timed to begin at 1:20pm. Greg Hayes
Northam harness racing horseman Jesse Moore, a master trainer of juvenile pacers for more than 40 years, has high hopes of winning the prestigious group 1 Pearl Classic for the third time when Aiden de Campo drives Rich Yankee in the $102,000 International Health Products Pearl Classic at Donaldson Park in Bunbury on Friday night. Rich Yankee, a winner at four of his eight starts, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line in the 2100m classic for two-year-olds, but he is versatile and capable of overcoming that disadvantage. Moore has a special affinity with Rich Yankee, having prepared the Yankee Sensation gelding's dam Rich Babe, who earned $134,415 from 14 wins and 30 placings from 95 starts. Rich Babe, like her only progeny (Rich Yankee) showed excellent promise as a two-year-old. She raced 14 times at that age for two wins and seven placings, the most notable of which was her second to the brilliant Amongst Royalty in the group 2 $70,000 Sales Classic for fillies at Gloucester Park in February 2006. Moore trained Don Athaldo for his notable victory over champion filly Mazzini Magic in the 1998 Pearl and notched his second win in the classic when 8/1 chance The Jobs On, driven by Gary Hall jun., overcame the No. 6 barrier when he raced in the breeze and took the lead 700m from home to score by four lengths from outsider Lady de Beau in 2004. Rich Yankee revealed sparkling early pace from barrier four in a qualifying heat of the Pearl at Pinjarra on Tuesday of last week when he surged to the front after 75m. He rated 1.58 over the 2185m journey and defeated Soho Wall Street by 13m, with 7m to the third placegetter Destined To Rule. The gross time for that heat was 2min. 40.2sec. Alfs Odyssey gave a strong performance to win the other qualifying heat, with a gross time of 2min. 43sec., rating 2.0.1. Alfs Odyssey, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, started from barrier six and he worked hard in the breeze before he forged to the front 300m from home and fought on doggedly to win by a head from the fast-finishing Johnny Disco. The final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.9sec. compare favourably with Rich Yankee's final sectionals of 29.5sec. and 28.2sec. Alfs Odyssey by Dawn Ofa New Day, bred and owned by Reg Smallacombe, was a 22/1 outsider for his win at his third start in a race. He will be at a much shorter quote in Friday night's final in which he has drawn perfectly at No. 1 on the front line. He and Johnny Disco (barrier two) look set to contest the early lead. The Glenn Elliott-trained Soho Wall Street will start from the No. 4 barrier. He possesses excellent gate speed and could also make a bid for the early lead. Elliott will also be represented by Soho Wolverine (Grinfromeartoear), who is handily drawn on the inside of the back line. Soho Wall Street (Four Starzzz Shark) has won once from four starts (at Narrogin three starts ago) and Soho Wolverine was a winner at Pinjarra in March, as well as being placed five times in his seven-start career. Pinjarra trainer Ross Ashby has two runners, Johnny Disco (Jeremes Jet) and Disco Under Fire by Courage Under Fire (who faces a tough task from the outside of the front line). Johnny Disco led and won over 1730m at his debut at Gloucester Park in early February, when he defeated Rich Yankee. Johnny Disco will be handled by Chris Lewis, who has won the Pearl behind Lombo Laredo (1994), Mitemptation (1995) and Argent Treasure (2007). Two runners with strong each-way prospects are Lightning Jolt (Village Jolt) and Destined To Rule (Shadow Play), who will start from the two outside positions on the back line. Lightning Jolt, trained at Byford by John Oldroyd, possesses wonderful natural pace and looks set to fight out the finish, with Clint Hall in the sulky. Lightning Jolt, a brilliant all-the-way winner at a 1.57.6 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park at his second race start (on May 15), galloped at the mobile start and lost six lengths in a qualifying heat last week. He was eighth at the bell in the field of nine before finishing strongly into fourth place behind Alfs Odyssey. Hall then drove him to a stylish runaway victory in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. The gelding burst straight to the front from barrier four and was allowed to dawdle through the first two 400m sections in 32.9sec. and 32.1sec. before he strolled over the next section in 30.2sec. and sprinted over the final quarter in 27.9sec. to win, unextended, by more than seven lengths from Questionable Gesture. Lightning Jolt is a brother of stablemate Mynameskenny, who finished a good fourth behind Beaudiene Boaz in the Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park last July. Destined To Rule, to be driven by Kim Prentice for Baskerville trainer Sonia Zucchiatti, was a most unlucky third behind Rich Yankee in a Pearl heat at Pinjarra on Tuesday of last week. After being restrained from barrier five, he raced at the rear before starting a fast move about 650m from home. But he then met severe interference and did extremely well to recover and fight on determinedly. Prentice is hoping for better luck than he encountered in the Pearl 12 months ago when he was driving the 2/1 on favourite The Odd Lover, when the off-side tyre of the colt's sulky was punctured just 100m after the start. The Odd Lover then was at a massive disadvantage when he raced outside the pacemaker (and winner) Isaiah Artois with the tube wrapped around the axel. He broke when being restrained as he was dropping back 250m from the finish. by Ken Casellas
Heartbroken when his handy youngster Bobydeane broken down, harness racing trainer Peter Romero has continued to be frustrated by his association with the pacer. Two starts after winning the Cec Berger Memorial in December 2007, Bobydeane’s career was ended by injury. Sending the mare to stud, Romero then endured the disappointment of the mare ‘slipping’, before her second foal – a filly – passed away. Fast forward three years and Romero is being rewarded for his faith and patience in the shape of Bobydeane’s third foal….Wingara. By Dawn Ofa New Day, the three-year-old has won his two starts, including yesterday’s $25,000 George Croxford Tribute at Wangaratta. Thrilled with Wingara’s progress, Romero is confident the gelding can work his way through the grades. “He is a very nice type,” Romero said. “He still has a lot to learn, but is doing so well. “I only gave him one trial, which he won, before he had his first start, so he has only been out on the track against others horses three times. “I’m sure he will keep improving as he gains experience.” Driven by Nathan Jack, Wingara led throughout to score by five-and-a-half metres from Somelovesomewhere, with Glenferrie Bronte 10 metres away third. Covering the last half in 58.4 seconds, Wingara rated 1:59.8 for the 2210 metres. “He did it quite easily and Nathan said he felt strong on the line,” Romero said. “I will give him a few more runs locally to gain experience before I freshen him up. “He is in the Vicbred Super Series and that’s the way I will head with him.” PAUL COURTS
In a matter of weeks, he has gone from a horse no one remembered, or even knew about, to one of harness racing’s brightest prospects. And come Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Leakys Smokin will take another step towards his true destination. A member of the powerful Shane Tritton stable, Leakys Smokin has had four starts for three wins – which is nothing unusual! What is out of the ordinary is the fact Leakys Smokin is a seven-year-old, which made his debut at Hamilton in January 2013 at five. Following his eye-catching fourth, the son of Dawn Ofa New Day was placed back into a paddock where he stayed for 18 months. Transferred to Tritton’s New South Wales base, Leakys Smokin has since won his three outings in stylish fashion. As such, Leakys Smokin is favoured to continue his winning streak in the $25,000 Country Series Final. “He’s got a lot to learn, but he has tremendous raw ability,” Tritton said. “I’ve never trained a horse with much more raw ability than him. “Although he is seven, he still does a lot wrong and can be wayward, but that comes down to racing experience. “The more racing he does, and the straighter he gets, the better he will be. “As far as I know he has never been injured…he has just been given plenty of time as Greg (Laird, owner) has never been in a hurry with him. “He’s certainly good enough to make up for lost time.” Drawn barrier five in the 1609-metre feature, Leakys Smokin is expected to be pushed forward by driver Lauren Panella in search of the lead. Should the pair be unable to cross quick beginner Business In Motion, which will start from gate two, Tritton is more than happy to see Panella applying pressure from the ‘death seat’. “From there he will go forward at the start and look for the front,” Tritton said. “I’m not worried if he is caught facing the breeze as I know how strong he is. “Even with his inexperience, I’ve got no doubt he is ready to run 1:53 on Saturday night.” Predicting the gelding can race his way into open class, Tritton believes Leakys Smokin is capable of a 1:50 performance. “I can’t see any reason why he won’t get to open class,” Tritton declared. “All he needs is a bit of experience. “As he gets up in class he’ll have to start going straighter as he can’t afford to do things wrong at that level, which is the main thing we are working on with him at the moment. “Once he gets it all together I reckon he can go close to 1:50.” PAUL COURTS
Australia's oldest surviving Trotting Club - Boort (established in 1891), conducted their one and only harness racing meeting for the season last Sunday featuring the Boort Pacing and Trotting Cups each to the value of $14,000.
The Nyah Harness Racing Club held a terrific meeting at the Swan Hill Racing Centre on Tuesday February 26, featuring four heats of the long standing Alabar Northern Region Championship for C1 & C2 class over 2240 metres with all winners being trained by Mildura's Shayne Cramp.
The St Arnaud Harness Racing Club hosted the fourth round heats of the Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships held at Charlton on Thursday January 10.
The KS Black & Co Carnival Of Cups heads to Parkes on Friday night with the harness racing highlight being the running of the $20,000 Gold Cup for 4 and 5 year old pacers and despite being up in grade the Chris Frisby trained Uncle Lile looks set to play a role in the finish after drawing barrier two.
Smart four year old Dawn Ofa New Day/Our Madame gelding Daylight Dan resumed with an impressive victory in the Campaspe Valley Motors Pace for C0 class over 1755 metres at the Gunbower Harness Racing Club fixture held at Echuca on Tuesday December 18.
Mount Gambier trainers Barry Finnis, David Drury and Mick Micallef enjoyed a super evening at the Ararat harness racing fixture on Tuesday December 11, winning three legs of the TAB Quaddie.
Speewa trainer Matthew Kearns a former HRV steward, was successful in taking out the Laser Electrical Lighting Showroom Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres at the Nyah harness racing fixture conducted at Swan Hill on Tuesday November 20 with 6-Y-0 Grinfromeartoear/Starorama gelding Tapper Torney.
Doreen's Craig Turnbull combined withharness racing driver Chris Alford to land the Kilmore Cup Sunday Pace for C1 class (mares) over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday October 26 with Charlotte Two, a 5-Y-0 daughter of Live Or Die and Polly's Atom, making it two from two this time in.
Veteran Elmore harness racing trainer Neville Welsh was in the winners stall at the Wangaratta HRC meeting held at Shepparton on Wednesday October 17, when honest 4-Y-0 Sundon/Sorry Hall gelding Sans Frontiere greeted the judge by a narrow margin in the Frank Dimetz Jewellers Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2190 metres.