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Cardigan harness racing trainer Emma Stewart strung together more wins on her home track on Wednesday. Stewart had a treble in Ballarat to take her tally to 15 over four race meetings in eight days. The run began with five victors at Bray Raceway on Wednesday, May 6, and continued with another seven over two Melton fixtures - morning and night - on Saturday. Ballarat and Melton have been the only tracks Stewart has been able to race her team at under the region-based model introduced by Harness Racing Victoria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Stewart's treble was made up of My Bettor Lady ($1.90 favourite), 3yo pacer Ostapenko ($3.40) and 3yo first starter Execution Oro ($2.90). My Bettor Lady was having her first start for the stable after crossing from South Australia. Allan McDonough had a driving double on Ostapenko and Execution Oro. Kate Gath and Gordon-based Darby McGuigan also landed driving doubles. Meanwhile, HRV has announced it is to begin phasing out regional racing, which was introduced on April 2. to reduced the industry's footprint.  Allan McDonough with Ostapenko - one of trainer Emma Stewart's three winners.   HRV chief executive officer Dayle Brown said six regions would reduced to three on May 24. Ballarat and Melton will join with Terang and Stawell, and Bendigo, Shepparton, Cranbourne and Kilmore combined. Mildura will remain standalone. In another change brought about on harness racing by coronavirus, Harness Racing Australia will extend the 2019-20 racing season December 31. The season normally finished at the end of August.   By David Brehaut   Reprinted with permission of The Courier        

Emma Stewart scored seven winners at two meetings across 12 hours as Saturday's Tabcorp Park Melton double-header proved a major hit. Talented youngster Beautiful Woman kicked off the brand new morning timeslot with victory for the Cardigan trainer before smart veteran Freddy Funk completed the seven-peat with success in the last event of the night card. There were a host of winners in between for Stewart, but none were as slick as Major Times, who recorded the fastest winning mile rate of the day's 15 races. Taken straight to the lead by reinswoman Jodi Quinlan, the five-year-old was never headed in the Alabar Pace (1720m, NR 90 to 120) on his way to a comfortable win in 1:53.5. The triumph was his 15th in a 36-start career that has netted nearly $200,000 for connections. "He went well last week and Clayton (Tonkin) thought he had trained on from that run and thought he was a chance of really pressing forward and finding the front," Quinlan said. "He got that nice breather the second quarter, so he was able to rip home the last two." Major Times' stablemates Like A Wildfire, Rocknroll Ronnie and Freddy Funk helped complete the Stewart quaddie on Saturday night after Beautiful Woman, Abouttime and Mirragon all saluted in the morning. Connor Clarke and Greg Sugars were the most prolific of the reinsmen across the two cards with three winners each. The early meeting was beamed live to the United States and broadcaster Dan Mielicki was quick to get the new audience on side with a memorable call of Kaudo's victory in the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m, NR 46 to 55). As trainer-driver Michael Cole surged to the lead in the wet conditions, Mielicki roared "oh this baby loves the slop, eats the slop! His father was a mudder, his mother was a mudder and Kaudo charges clear and wins easily!" Of course, Milecki was referencing the famous Seinfeld episode, which includes a similar line. The victory was the first leg of a race-to-race double for Cole, who also scored with Trevean in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (1720m, 4YO and older NR 47 to 51). Harness Racing Victoria General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said early indications were that punters didn’t mind an early start with "turnover at a level we hoped for". "I haven’t got the numbers from the USA just yet but our correspondent has indicated it was well received," Bell said. "Fifteen races at headquarters on a day was a challenge for all involved but everyone, including staff and participants, did an amazing job to put on a great show." Melton is host to another Saturday double-header next weekend, with a morning meeting followed by an evening program.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Trainer Emma Stewart has grabbed another piece of harness racing history. She took out the first race in a new morning timeslot for the sport at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. Beautiful Women ($1.70 favourite) led home a 3yo trifecta for Stewart's Cardigan stable. Having her second start, Beautiful Women is a half-sister to former top flight juvenile pacer Our Little General, which was also trained by Stewart. Our Little General was a multiple group 1 winner, including the 2017 Victoria Derby, as a 2yo and 3yo - winning 15 times in Australia before being exported to the United States. Stewart went to have a treble on the seven-race program. In a massive day she added another four winners at Melton on Saturday night. It was also a memorable day for Ballarat 17-year-old Connor Clarke, who drove his first double at Melton on Saturday night to give him three wins over the two meetings. Reprinted with permission of The Courier

Emma Stewart looks to have a stranglehold on the final of the Mercury80 after scoring a third win in the four-heat series at Tabcorp Park Melton. And the Cardigan-based trainer also appears well placed to secure the lucrative bonus for connections of Fourbigmen, who set a new benchmark time of 82.1 seconds on Friday night. The fastest winner in the series snares an extra $20,000, half of which is collected by owners and the other half split by the trainer and driver. Chris Alford drove the first heat winner Liftntorque on New Year’s Eve and was at the controls on Friday night as Fourbigmen darted through along the sprint lane to land a convincing five-metre victory. “He had a nice run in there behind the leader and the pace was on sort of all the way. He felt really good and once the run came, he just powered through then,” Alford said. The champion reinsman said he wasn’t bothered if he drove Liftntorque or Fourbigmen in the final. “They’re both nice horses… whichever one they put me on I’ll be happy with,” Alford said. Michael Stanley’s Soho Nolita came home strongly to pip leader Major Exclusive for second, therefore booking a place in the $50,000 final next Saturday night. The qualifiers for the feature from the first three heats include: Liftntorque (Emma Stewart), Van Mara (Andy Gath), Always Fast (Emma Stewart), Gilty Hanover (Kari Males), Off The Radar (Richie Caruana) and Call Me Hector (Matthew Cooper). While his father Ted missed out on reaching the Mercury80 final with Major Exclusive, who is the final's emergency, young trainer Blake Caruana scored his second career win as a trainer at Melton on Friday when Better Exclusive produced a long-odds victory in the Allied Express Pace Final (2240m, NR 56-66). Caruana was ill and unable to make the track on Friday night, but would have had something to smile about as the horse dug deep to hold off runner-up Dan Fernando by a head on the line. “Blake would have been jumping up and down in the bed, that’s for sure,” young driver Connor Ronan said. “It was a big step up in class tonight. Three starts ago he won the equivalent to a C1 and then to win a race like this, where there are some very nice horses in it, it’s a credit to the team and the horse.” HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

At 92 years of age, harness racing stalwart Helen Head is still as passionate about the sport as she has ever been. And the Shepparton local makes no secret that when she is trackside at another Inter Dominion Final at Alexandra Park in Auckland tonight, she will be cheering for her hometown hero San Carlo. Nine-year-old "Murray" as he's known around the stables, is prepared by joint trainers Steve O'Donoghue and Bec Bartley at Morley Park, Kialla, just outside Shepparton. "It would be wonderful if they could pull it off, but I'll be barracking for all the Aussies," Helen said. "I've been over here in New Zealand as part of a tour group and we've all had a ball. We've been taken here, there and everywhere. The winery visits have been a lot of fun," she laughed. "At my age, you may as well enjoy things when you can, you know!" And after a lifetime of racing a host of quality horses and breeding many of the country's best, it's most fitting that Helen Head is sitting back to enjoy tonight's "big dance" in Auckland. Helen, who was honoured as a recipient of the Angelique Club's Pearl Kelly Award in 2016, recalls attending her first Inter Dominion Championship back in 1974. "I sort of got hooked on them because there's really been very few that I've missed since," she said. Helen and her late husband Graham developed a reputation over decades as one of harness racing's best known and most successful names in breeding and ownership. Helen shared the couple's remarkable story a few years ago with harness racing scribe Gus Underwood, recalling that as a young dress designer in Melbourne in the 1950s, she'd always dreamt of one day owning her own horse. Graham had started his working life as a structural engineer at the age of 16 and after the couple shared a trip around the world in a converted Volkswagen, they purchased their first farm at Sunbury, 40 kms north-west of Melbourne and their harness racing story began. After trying their hand at running cattle and sheep, Helen saw her dream of horse ownership come true with the purchase of a mare as a pleasure horse - but before she even got to ride it, the mare was put in foal! Selling their farm to developers, the couple moved to Seymour, then to nearby Mangalore, on the Goulburn River. This was to become the renowned Grenada Park and over the next 20 years, Graham and Helen got fully involved with standardbred breeding. They had the support of a close friend in Graham Cochran, then Chairman of the Victorian Trotting Control Board, who was a keen breeder, but owned no property. Their first foray into breeding was with the Bachelor Hanover matron Madame Han, who left 10 foals and established a great winning line. A decision to downsize in 2000 saw the couple purchase Manna Lodge from Gerald Farrell at Congupna and they continued their breeding pursuits, although now as a partnership, after the death of Cochrane. The couple considered renaming the property Grenada Park, but to prevent any confusion, left it as Manna Lodge, but adding to the title: 'Home of Grenada Park'. Countless top horses were bred at both Mangalore and Congupna, and in 2007 the Heads were named Victorian Breeder of the Year. Sadly, Graham passed away in 2009, but, after 57 years of marriage, Helen's upbeat approach to life saw her commit to continuing the couple's breeding program. "I think there's now been 24 of our breed who have each won over $100,000 in stakemoney," Helen said yesterday. "And there's also been two-Safari and Garnet River- who passed the half a million dollars mark. Safari was trained by Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart, and won 28 races while Hughie Cathels had Garnet River, who later ended up over in America with Noel Daley." Choosing a favorite among recent topliners is no mean feat, but youngster The Storm Inside (bred from Spirited Storm, a filly Helen travelled to America to buy) must surely rank highly, with the stunning colt recording 14 wins from only 16 starts for Tonkin and Stewart. Helen Head with Emma Stewart after The Storm Inside’s APG win But it's the sensational Tell Me Tales (Tell All-Soaring Falcon (Falcon Seelster) that Helen names as her first choice. Tell Me Tales put together a string of 11 consecutive wins during her 3yo season in 2018 before serious injury two months ago. Her record stands at 20 wins and seven placings from 32 starts for $360,000 in stakemoney. "Tell Me Tales is definitely my favorite, and I was very sad when she broke a bone in her hind leg," Helen said. But this optimistic nonagenarian always has an eye to the future and a positive outlook. "We've had it pinned and she's doing well - and we've taken an embryo as well, so she might also get a foal and that would certainly be lovely," Helen said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

BREEDERS Crown heroine Emma Stewart doesn’t have time to reflect. After winning three of the eight Group 1 finals at Melton last Saturday night, Stewart has switched her focus to the first big Group 1 of the new season, the $200,000 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 12. And she’s not mucking around. “We’re setting six or seven horses for the race,” she said. “There’s the horses like Born To Rocknroll, Rocknroll Icon, Tam Major and Maraetai, who went through the Breeders Crown and then a few others we’ve got close to racing again. “Shadow Sax is only a week away from a trial and The Storm Inside is pretty much on the same timeline as him. We’ve got some really good open-class horses to work with. “Ride High is another, but he won’t be ready for the Victoria Cup. The good races early next year are his go.” Stewart wasn’t as upbeat about Chariots Of Fire winner Poster Boy, who narrowly cheated death only a few months ago, ‘He got through it and he’s healthy again, but we’ve got him to the fast work stage again and we’re just not as happy as we’d like to be with him. We’ve got a few things to work through there,” she said. Both of Stewart’s Breeders Crown 2YO final winners – Be Happy Mach and Maajida – have gone for breaks. “Be Happy Mach is up with the best two-year-old’s we’ve ever had and I’m sure he’ll come back really well,” she said. “And even though Maajida had some good draws in the big races, I’m sure she’s top shelf as well.” Stewart joined the chorus of trainers, drivers and owners pushing for a review of what time in the season the Breeders Crown is run. “Absolutely we need to move it. It’s one of the biggest meetings in this part of the world and we need in summer when more people will come to the track to watch the great horses,” she said.   Adam Hamilton

It has been a case of as you were for trainer Emma Stewart’s stable, which has swept the first two nights of the TAB Breeders Crown pacing heats including unearthing another top liner. There were few surprises when Maajida and Jemstone carried their Vicbred Super Series form into the Always B Miki two-year-old fillies' heats at Bendigo last night. And it was a similar tale when Breeders Challenge winner Be Happy Mach saluted in the first Downbytheseaside heat at Shepparton tonight, but the second Stewart colt to win delivered an eye-opener. Pacifico Dream (pictured) was dominant in Kate Gath’s hands, advancing to the front and cruising to the line an eight-metre winner in only his second career start, outpointing well regarded Kiwi Perfect Stride. “Super impressive,” Gath told Trots Vision post-race. “I was impressed by his trial at Melton a couple of weeks ago and when I got the opportunity to drive him tonight I was pretty happy.” The pair marched to the front from gate five and controlled proceedings, closing out in 27.7 and 27.9-second third and final quarters for an impressive showing by the Mach Three colt, whose only other start was a second in a $7000 pace at Cranbourne on March 26. “I didn’t know where we’d end up in the run or how much gate speed he had, he just come out under his own steam and got out pretty good,” Gath said. “Once he led I thought he’d be pretty hard to beat on what I’d seen at the trial. I eased up on the line, because there was nothing near me. It’s scarily good. You’d think he’s going to have a really good hope throughout the rest of the series.” On the back of that run Pacifico Dream shortened from $21 to $6.50 for the series with TAB.com.au, with Be Happy Mach $1.50 into $1.40 favourite having lost no friends when recording his 6.3-metre win in the first heat ahead of Kiwi Zeuss Bromac. The victory brought up reinsman Chris Alford’s 400th win, an extraordinary achievement. “I’m very fortunate that I get to drive a lot of (Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s) horses," Alford told Trots Vision. “This one, he’d nearly be the pick of the two-year-olds going forward and he’s had a great year and hopefully he can top it off in the Breeders Crown.” For more on Alford’s achievement click here. Maajida is a clear front runner in the Always B Miki two-year-old fillies' Crown, shortening from $2.50 to $2 today with TAB.com.au in the wake of last night’s win. It was a golden night not just for Stewart but also reinsman Greg Sugars, who piloted both of the stable’s Breeders Crown heat winners. “(Maajida’s) a lovely filly to drive,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “I wouldn’t swap her for any other horse in the series. She’s a very leggy filly. You think looking at her she’s only going to get better with age as she matures and develops. That’s exciting to see what she’s doing on the track at the moment.” Maajida led from her favourable draw and when challenged late by well regarded stablemate Treasure she lifted, getting home in 26.6 seconds. The 1:57.4 mile rate was shaded by two-tenths by the following heat, when leader Jemstone applied pressure for much of the running ahead of Michael Stanley’s Iolanta and held on for a 2.3-metre win. “I had the good fortune to draw better than (Iolanta),” Sugars said. “Got the first lap pretty comfortably. As soon as I heard Mick (Stanley) coming I decided to make him chase, that was probably the difference in winning and losing tonight. She’s pretty tough this one, probably not as quick as a few of the stablemates, but she’s very game, very tough.” The TAB Breeders Crown heats continue with the Woodlands Stud three-year-old fillies heats tomorrow night at Kilmore, when host Paul Campbell will be on track to capture the first words from the winning drivers for Trots Vision. The following night the heats move to Ballarat for the IRT three-year-old colts and geldings' heats. Dave Brehaut will take the microphone to give trots fans and punters the inside word throughout the night.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

Ballarat harness racing trainer Emma Stewart is the on the way to capturing 16 Vicbred Super Series pacing heats for a second year in a row. She took her tally to 12 on the second of three nights at Kilmore on Thursday. Her team took out five three-year-old heats to go with seven two-year-old races at Bendigo on Tuesday. Stewart last season reversed the sequence with five at Bendigo and seven at Kilmore. She then went on to win four heats for 4yos in Ballarat. Her stable has 10 runners in six 4yo heats at Bray Raceway on Friday night. Unfortunately her superstar Poster Boy will be missing after being scratched. Demon Delight ($6.70) provided the highlight of the night at Kilmore for Stewart when he led home stablemates Hurricane Harley ($4.70) and Centenario ($1.50 favourite) in a heat for colts and geldings. Demon Delight raced outside leader Centenario, but still drew away. Stewart's other 3yo heat winners: - Fourbigmen (driven by Chris Alford) colt - Two Times Better (Kate Gath) filly - Kualoa (Chris Alford) filly - Brevity (Chris Alford) colt After winning all seven 2yo heats at Bendigo, Stewart kept the sequence running by taking out the first two at Kilmore. Myrniong trainer Jess Tubbs broke the run with filly Larajay Macray - in a race in which Stewart was not represented. Other Ballarat district-trained starters through to semi-finals: Colts and geldings: Hes An Artist (Tim McGuigan, Gordon), Out To Play (Emma Stewart), Hurricane Harley (Emma Stewart), Centenario (Emma Stewart), Perfect Major (Emma Stewart), Foolish Pleasure (Ashleigh Herbertson, Lexton), Always Fast (Emma Stewart) Fillies: Millah Joy (Jess Tubbs, Myrniong), Mornings (Damien Burns, Bunkers Hill), Looking Fabulous (Emma Stewart), Soundslikeart (Anton Golino), Causing Strife (Wayne Ronan, Glen Park), Fiscal Fantasy (Colin Holloway, Redan), Single Tree Road (Michael Stanley) By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier

It was cold and chilly last night at Lord's Raceway, Bendigo, but the form of the most feared harness racing partnership in the land, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, was nothing short of incandescent. The meeting marked the start to the Vicbred Super Series for 2019 and the Ballarat-based pair showed utter domination, going home with a clean sweep. They won all seven of the two-year-old heats and finished with nine out of nine runners qualifying for the semis. The seven-wins tally fell one short of Stewart's best ever "night at the office", when in June last year at a metropolitan Melton meeting, she trained eight winners on the night - as well as six runner-ups and two third placings. Stewart and her long-time partner Clayton Tonkin last week passed the 200 mark for winners this season and make no secret they have a hard work ethic. Their incredible success is no doubt due in large part to the consistent workload poured into the huge team, the pair paying tribute to the dedication and commitment of their staff to ensure each horse is trained in the cart daily. Clayton's father Peter is an astute horseman, well known for his ability to pull off a good old-fashioned plunge, and a great trainer in his day with an incredible strike rate. At Bendigo, rising star Kima Frenning started the ball rolling in the opening event with an impressive win with Pandering (Courage Under Fire-Pandalay Bay (Artsplace) in the first heat for the boys. Leading New South Wales reinswoman Amanda Turnbull, again accumulating a host of frequent flyer points as she criss-crosses the country to compete, stole the limelight in the next two events. Turnbull scored a convincing win with Amelia Rose (Art Major-Bennies Daughter (Falcon Seelster) in the first of the fillies heats but was forced to earn her driving fee in the next. Piloting Treasure (Art Major-O Narutac Bella (Western Ideal), Turnbull was on the receiving end of some early interference, broke at the start and settled last. After getting balanced up, she slipped around three wide to sit outside the leader Realnspectacular (Blake Jones) approaching the bell lap. The two fancied runners raced head-and-head over the last 450 metres with Treasure, going for a hat-trick, doing best over the concluding stages. Crack freelance reinsman Greg Sugars was given an armchair ride on Mirragon (Art Major-The Waratah (Mach Three) in the colts and geldings second heat. After summing up the situation in a flash, Sugars took off three wide early to sit parked. The heavily backed son of Art Major, an eye-catching type, did all the work and then strode away when Sugars gave him an inch of rein. The final two splits were identical in 27.8 apiece. Most impressive! Champion Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, who had been cooling his heels watching the action unfold from the sidelines, made the most of his available chances with consecutive wins in races six and seven. He piloted $2.50 favorite Jemstone (Bettors Delight-Hawaiian Hottie (American Ideal) for Stewart and Tonkin in the third heat for the fillies, and then got the chocolates nicely in the boys' third heat with Beale Street (Art Major-Shezacullen (Christian Cullen). Jemstone Beale Street In the fourth and final heat for the fillies, punters put their faith in Kima Frenning aboard another Stewart-Tonkin runner in Artemede, sent out at $1.70 favorite. Frenning did her best with a cushy lead time, and then a slow speed early but the tempo picked up when Greg Sugars allowed stablemate Maajida to stride up outside. It was Sugars who got the chocolates, Maajida (Somebeachsomewhere-Arterial Way (Art Major) too strong, running to the line to score by a neck. Final Peace (David Murphy), who was behind the leader all the way, tried valiantly to upset the party with a fast-finishing burst along the sprint lane, ahead of Artemede hanging on for third. The VicBred Super Series mission marked the end of an incredible 10 days for the team, winning no fewer than 17 races, including the $100,000 Allwood 2YO at Globe Derby Park (with Pandering), and the $25,000 NSW Breeders Crown semi final at Menangle (with Be Happy Mach). Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

Emma Stewart’s stable has given an extraordinary muscle flex on night one of the Alabar Farms Vicbred Super Series with a clean sweep of the night’s seven two-year-old heats at Bendigo. Having last year produced a national record equalling eight victories on Vicbred Super Series semi-finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton and seven victories on three-year-old heats night at Kilmore, the stable looks set for another golden three weeks of racing in the 2019 edition. “It speaks for the talent that they have at Emma and Clayton’s stable of getting their horses prepared for racing, not only to get them fit and ready to go, but to have them so tractable,” said reinsman Greg Sugars, who piloted Mirragon and Maajida to victory for the stable. “It makes our job a lot easier as drivers when you want to race at the top level, which these horses are competing at at the moment. Sometimes you can have the best horse, but if you don’t have the manners that can get you beat. They are certainly doing a wonderful job to get the horses to perform as they do and to behave as they do.” They were thoughts echoed by Chris Alford, who produced a race-to-race Stewart double with Jemstone and Beale Street. “It’s a lot to do with the way they train them at home I think,” Alford told TrotsVision. “They sit in and follow or go round and lead, swap and change so they are all pretty adept to doing anything really.” It was also a golden night for Alabar Farms’ sire Art Major, who produced four of the Vicbred Super Series winners and also earned the praise of Sugars. “He’s record speaks for himself. Very few sires out there have done a better job than he has. He just keeps producing headline acts year after year.” So how did all it happen? Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ heat one: Pandering continued his impressive season in the first of the night, building on his June 8 hit on Globe Derby when he won by 12.5 metres in Group 1 The Allwood. The Tiger Army showed some initial resistance from the inside draw but reinswoman Kima Frenning’s determination to find the front on Pandering won through and from there she was able to control proceedings, taking a breather with a 31-second second quarter before hustling home in 27.6. “It’s a big relief,” Frenning told TrotsVision host Paul Campbell post-race. “He’s such a cool dude, every single time I drive him he just keeps improving. Emma and the team are doing a great job with him and I’m very happy and grateful I get the drive.” Owned by Justin Baker, the Courage Under Fire two-year-old colt was bred by Shepparton’s Danny Gange out of Pandalay Bay, also the mare of US half-a-million-dollar winning colt Panmunjom. The Tiger Army held second by almost 18 metres from third-placed Sham Rock, with Our Art Christian, Mea Culpa, Yianni, Alte and Monsieur Delacour rounding out the top eight, who advance to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat one: Amelia Rose put on the afterburners to set a significant statement in the first of the fillies’ heats, getting home in 27.3 seconds to make it two from two for Emma Stewart. After leading early and then allowing WA visitor Askmeilltellya to slide to the front, Amelia Rose was in a class of her own in the final stages, winning by 3.9m from a dogged Vouchers on the back of a blistering initial burst for reinswoman Amanda Turnbull. “She was very quick and sprinted home good,” Turnbull told TrotsVision post-race. “They said not to panic if she does carry the sit, because she’s got blistering speed, so it didn’t matter where you come up and there was a good one to follow. “She went straight past (Askmeilltellya) in two strides and then didn’t know what to do. It was pretty exciting to go that quick and she wasn’t that switched on.” The Art Major filly was bred by Benstud Standardbreds out of mare Bennies Daughter, who herself is out of Benelise, the dam of the likes of Majordan ($333,028), Soho Valencia ($332,782), Niki No No ($294,455) and Wardan Express ($195,068). Amelia Rose advances to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton along with Vouchers (2nd), Askmeilltellya (3rd), Rockingwithsierra (4th), Power Of Faith (5th) and Oursouthernstar (6th). Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat two: The show rolled on for Stewart, Turnbull and sire Art Major in the next with that trio combining to guide Treasure to victory in the second of the fillies’ heats, having clawed over stoic second favourite Realnspectacular. Treasure had to do it from the breeze and the pair separated from the field with a 28.2 third quarter and 27.3 run to the finishing post, with the winner getting home by a neck. “She got checked a couple of times, but she’s got a motor,” Turnbull said of Treasure. “She just seems to do it so easy, she just sort of switches off and stays out in front of them.” The filly is owned by Buckland Park Homestead for South Australia’s Glenda and David Battye and was bred by Bruce and Val Edward out of US mare O Narutac Bella, making her a full-sister to Perfect Sense, who placed second in her Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies final in 2016. The front running pair will be joined in the semi-finals from heat two by Kezzamac, Easy Rolling, Cuzin Lyndal and Fixed Lines. The next question for Turnbull will be which one she’ll drive going forward, but she said that will be a decision for Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin, before adding both Amelia Rose and Treasure “give you a super feel”. Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ second heat: Few were more eye-catching in tonight’s heats than Mirragon, who advanced to the breeze at the mile mark and was left to do plenty of bullocking outside Yejele Hammer. A 27.8-second third quarter saw reinsman Greg Sugars draw level with the leader and at the turn he had put his rivals to the sword, getting home in 27.8 to win in the equal fastest mile rate (1:56.7) of the night’s heats. “Very impressive,” Sugars told TrotsVision post-race. “His run was full of merit last week after being wide early in a very fast mile, just found one (Youaremy Sunshine) that was too good for us on the night. “He’s backed that run up with a complete performance tonight. When I first drove him at the trials I had him up a few times and he showed incredible acceleration over a short distance and I envisaged him being a more of a sit-sprint type horse. As he’s developed he’s turning into a lovely well-rounded racehorse and can be put into the race and sustain a very long run. Very important thing to have.” Aishabeach (second), Star Hunter (third) and Yejele Hammer claimed good ground out of the winner late to advance through to the semi-final along with Night Spirit, Adapt, Focus Stride and Nevada Yankee. But all honours went to the winner, his big group of owners and breeders Ross, Aaron and Hugh Gange, who coupled their mare The Waratah with Art Major for her first foal and would be rapt with the results. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ third heat: Alice Kay threatened to break the Stewart stable’s hold on the night in the third heat but the Adam-Kelly trained, Zac Phillips driven filly fell just shy in her attempt to climb over leader Jemstone. Reinsman Chris Alford emerged from a 64.3-second first half to run 28.3 and 27.3 in the third and final quarters and register a half-neck win. “This little filly she was good,” Alford told TrotsVision post-race. “She was really relaxed in front, that’s probably why I went a bit slow, and ripped home a good half.” It was a victory enjoyed by a big syndicate of owners the Big Wookie Racing Group, Clayton Tonkin, Ben Prentice and Simon Holt, with the Bettors Delight filly out of breeders Bruce and Val Edward’s mare Hawiian Hottie, making her a full sister to Vicbred winner Kualoa. Jemstone will be joined in the semi-finals by second-placed Alice Kay, third-placed Summertime, Dougs Cino, Dolly Peachum and Bella Bronski. Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ third heat: The cult following is likely to be large for the big boy of the two-year-old class, Beale Street, who claimed the third heat and looks to have a future as grand as his frame going by his trainer’s review. “He’s my Breeders Crown tip, I think he will just keep getting better and better,” Emma Stewart told TrotsVision. “I’ve never had a bigger two-year-old and he’s quite solid for his age as well, so he’s not gangly but he doesn’t really know what it’s all about at the moment.” Improvement aside the present also looks pretty impressive as Beale Street was guided to the front by Chris Alford from gate two with major threat, Gavin Lang’s Withoutthetuh, on his tail. He’d roll out in the night’s quickest lead time (37.1 seconds) before consistent quarters (31, 30.1 and 29.2) left enough in the tank to get home in 28.5 seconds and keep a length on Withoutthetuh. “He’s a big fella, he’s starting to learn what it’s all about now,” Alford said. “His first two starts were good but he didn’t know a lot, but now he’s starting to switch right on. “He’s starting to get on the bit now and travel, and when a horse comes near him he wants to race, so he just keeps getting better and better and that’s a good sign.” Joining Beale Street and Withoutthetuh in advancing to the semi-final were third-placed Forever Yin, Highclere, Ozzie Battler, Sahara Sirocco, Ilkiemebettor and Junior Warfare. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ fourth heat: A bold sprint lane rally by David Murphy’s Final Peace almost upset the applecart but Maajida clawed over all comers to land Emma Stewart her seventh Vicbred Super Series heat win for the night and cap the clean sweep. It was an impressive win given Maajida had punched the breeze outside highly rated stablemate Artemede, who led throughout with Final Peace – a $67-1 shot – tracking her every move. But the last 100m belonged to Maajida and she swept clear for reinsman Greg Sugars to win by a neck. “I knew the leader would be hard to catch and sort of had to stay with it and just make it a strong last half a lap basically, and make sure we can hold off any challenges from behind,” Sugars said. “I wasn’t quite confident I would be quick enough to catch the leader because it had pretty good sectionals early but to this filly’s credit she just knuckled down and just wanted to win. She’s got a terrific attitude.” It was a super result for owners Gary, Ian, Leslie and Steve Johnson, who coupled their mare Arterial Way with sire Somebeachsomewhere to produce the full-sister to Gold Chalice winner Lifeonthebeach. Joining Maajida, Final Peace and Arte Mede in booking a semi-finals spot were fourth-placed Elita, The Pantheist (fifth) and Starsbythebeach (sixth).   Michael Howard for Trots media

Victoria’s leading trainer presents a bevy of well-bred and to date well-performed prodigies at Bendigo tomorrow night as the Alabar Vicbred Super Series gets under way. Last season, Stewart had 10 runners on opening night for five heat wins from seven races. She finished second in the two heats she didn’t win and claimed the quinella in two of the events she did. This year Stewart has nine runners engaged across seven 2yo heats. Will the domination continue? Given her Vicbred form in recent times, it made perfect sense – funnily enough that’s also the name of a Stewart-trained pacer who won her Vicbred heat on this night back in 2016 – to invite the leading trainer on to the Inside Word podcast to give punters insights into her line-up, and she was happy to oblige Stewart’s two-year-olds in action tomorrow are last-start Group 1 winner Pandering, Amelia Rose (whose grand-dam produced Niki No No, Wardan Express, Majordan, Soho Valencia and Yrubla among others), winner of four of five Treasure, Home Grown Classic victor Mirragon, one-for-one son of Lovelist Adapt, Kualoa’s half-sister Jemstone, last-start winner Beale Street, and supremely talented Home Grown Classic quinella pair Artmede and Maajida top round out proceedings. Some of the other headline acts to keep an eye on tomorrow include Leeton Breeders Plate winner The Tiger Army for Laura Crossland, a winner of four of six to date who finished second last start in the Group 2 Sapling Stakes at Menangle, West Australian filly Askmeilltellya for trainer Kat Warwick, Realnspectacular for Terry Coelli and Blake Jones, Michael Stanley’s Yejele Hammer and Andy Gath’s Night Spirit, who have both run several placings in recent times and are itching to break through, smart fillies Summertime for Ted Caruana and Alice Kay for Adam Kelly, and Gavin Lang’s bold son of Courage Under Fire Withoutthetuh.   Cody Winnell for Trots Media

TWO of the “queens” of Aussie harness teamed to win South Australia’s richest race at Globe Derby last night (Saturday). Emma Stewart booked Swedish young gun Kima Frenning for exciting colt Pandering and they raced away to win the inaugural $100,000 Group 1 “The Allwood” final by 12.5m from Andy Gath’s Night Spirit. Female drivers snared the trifecta with NSW youngster Ashley Hart aboard Night Spirit and local Lisa Ryan aboard third-placed Ammicchi. __________________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN claimer With Gusto has a special place in Chris Alford’s heart. Last year he gave Alford his 400th win of the that season and last Friday night he provided the champion driver’s 300th win of this season – still with almost three months of the season remaining. It moved Alford to tweet after the race: “Got to love ‘with gusto’ (sic) can find a milestone race to win, last season win 400 this season win 300, #gogussy.” Alford recently turned 51 and is driving better than ever. He sits poised on 99 career Group 1 wins. __________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Kiwi trotter McLovin is issuing the challenge to Tornado Valley for the crown as stable star in Andy and Kate Gath’s barn. While Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley is out spelling, McLovin has been building quite the CV. The six-year-old’s 12 starts since joining the Gaths’ stable have returned seven wins, two seconds and two thirds. And his latest win, in last Friday night’s Bendigo Trotters’ Cup, was the best of his career. McLovin chased hard early from a 20m backmark, did all the work outside the and plunge runner Cruisin Around and powered away to win as he liked in a track record 2min0.3sec mile rate for the long 2650m trip. We’ve really liked him since he got here. He’s got lots of speed for a trotter, but he really showed some toughness winning that way (at Bendigo),” driver Kate Gath said. The Gaths toyed with a Rowe Cup raid earlier this year, but the way McLovin is racing, he looks ideal to accompany Tornado Valley to the Dominion Trot and/or Auckland Inter Dominion later this year. In other stable news, the Gaths exciting three-year-old trotter Majestuoso snared his biggest win in the Group 3 Holmfield at Melton last night. The son of Majestic Son broke after the start and lost about 20m, then circled the field sit parked and rundown the leader, Georgias Pride, to win by 1.6m in a 1min59.1sec mile rate for 1730m. The big question is whether heavily-backed favourite All The Muscles was going to beat him when he switched back to the sprint late to challenge, but went into a gallop. Majestuoso struggled for manners at two and won just two of his nine runs, but has returned better and more reliable with six wins from seven runs this season so far. __________________________________________________________________________________ IT hasn’t taken long for former Kiwi driver Trent Lethaby to make an impact in Queensland. Lethaby, who had stints with Brent Mangos and Jay Abernathy, is now with one of Australia’s top trainers Grant Dixon in Queensland. And, at just his sixth drive for the new boss, he led throughout to win by a whisker aboard Rocknroll Emma at Albion Park last night (Saturday). “It’s bloody great here. I’ve been here four weeks or so, but I’m loving it,” Lethaby said. __________________________________________________________________________________ COLT Thirty One remains Queensland’s best pacer and a serious player for the upcoming Winter Carnival. As good as recent Kiwi import Northview Hustler has been winning all his three Queensland runs, Colt Thirty One has a bigger score on the board … at least for now. Grant Dixon’s four-year-old reminded everyone how good he was with a powerhouse and very quick free-for-all win at Albion Park last night (Saturday). He settled near last over the 1660m from a back row draw, but sustained a long three-wide run around the field without cover to win running away by 3.8m. And the mile rate was a blistering 1min52.9sec. Whether he can beat the interstate raiders in upcoming Group 1 races like the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake remains to be seen, but Colt Thirty One certainly has the sheer speed to be very dangerous with the right run. __________________________________________________________________________________ RENOWNED giant-killer Loorrim Creek barnstormed his way to another upset win in the free-for-all at Menangle last night (Saturday). The race was expected to see emerging star Ignatius return to winning form, but instead Loorrim Creek roared home to snatch a neck win over the much-improved Franco Totem with Ignatius a tiring third. Admittedly Ignatius was first-up from a freshen-up and did all the work outside leader, Letspendanitetogetha, in a solid 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2300m. Ignatius now heads to the semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge on June 22 before the final eight days later and a possible Queensland winter campaign. On the same card, Victorian trainers Gary and Deb Quinlan snared the Group 3 Go Girlfriend final with their improving mare Rocknroll Pearl, who led throughout to win easily in a slick 1min52.8sec mile. And former Kiwi pacer Cullenburn made it four wins (and a second) from his five Aussie runs for Craig Cross when he paced a slick 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2300m. __________________________________________________________________________________ ONE of Aussie harness racing’s great “non-winners” is a new horse since a stable switch. As great a trainer as Gary Hall Sr is, Luis Alberto was an exasperating pacer in his care and continually found ways to go close but very rarely winning. Luis Alberto moved to the care of Debbie Lewis, wife of champion driver Chris, and has roared through the grades to win a free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was his eighth win in just 16 starts for Lewis. Luis Alberto’s latest win was a big upset as a $61 outsider against the likes of King Of Swing (sixth), My Hard Copy (fourth), Whoideawasthis (fifth) and Vultan Tin (11th) in a slick 1min53.1sec mile rate for 1730m. The win came just 30 minutes after Debbie and Chris Lewis combined to win the feature race of the night, the 4&5YO Westbred Mares’ final (2130m) with exciting Advance Attack mare The War Nurse. In other highlights of the night, Gary Hall Sr’s emerging star Ideal Liner won easily again, making it seven victories from just 10 starts. And Justin Prentice’s emerging three-year-old Know When To Run won as he liked in a good field with Gary Hall Jr aboard. __________________________________________________________________________________ BUZZ juvenile Mirragon suffered a surprise defeat when second to Youaremy Sunshine in the Youthful Stakes (1730m) at Melton last night. Touted as being the equal of any juvenile seen so far this season, Mirragon had a lovely trip and always looked the winner, but was beaten on his merits by Damian Burns’ Hurrikane Kingcole colt in a slugging finish. They paced a sizzling 1min53.8sec mile rate.   Adam Hamilton

IN the end it was sheer strength of numbers which won a war of attrition for champion trainer Emma Stewart in last night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific (2760m) at Melton. Stewart had four runners Victoria’s biggest mares’ race and it was the second-outsider of them - $52.40 shot Pistol Abbey – who stormed home for an easy win after an epic race. Stablemate Tell Me Tales was sensationally-backed from $2.60 to $1.80 favourite to give Chris Alford his 100th Group 1 win, but spent too much petrol in a blazing move around the field to find the lead midrace. She battled on well fourth. Mick Stanley’s classy mare Soho Burning Love sustained a long run and looked the winner on the home bend before driver David Moran moved Pistol Abbey into clear air and the four-year-old blasted home in a 1min56.1sec mile rate. Soho Burning Love ($51.20) was monstrous in second spot with another outsider Makes Every Scents ($46.30) grabbed third spot for a blowout trifecta. Kiwi mare Our Step Up had little luck at crucial times back along the inside and finished sixth. The other Melton Group 1 was the $50,000 Australasian Trotting Championship won by the country’s most improved trotter, Savannah Jay Jay in a thrilling three-way finish. Trainer Stan Cameron has rejuvenated the eight-year-old gelding who led throughout and staved-off class mare Red Hot Tooth by a half neck with another neck away to McLovin in third spot. It was also great to see Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter Poster Boy make a winning return, albeit closer than most expected, at Melton. Emma Stewart’s star led and just did enough to beat a gallant and flying Rishi by a half-neck in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NO wonder the connections of Mirragon were gutted when a gallop cost him qualifying for the recent Australian Gold final. Emma Stewart’s freshman colt would have a been a major player in the final – won by Jilliby Nitro – judging by his powerhouse win a Home Grown Classic heat at Ballarat last Thursday night. Despite sitting outside highly-rated stablemate Pandering, who dictated the terms, Mirragon knuckled down late and snared a 1.4m win in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for 1710m. It was more the closing splits and the way he did which impressed. Mirragon closed in 56 flat and 27.1sec. Stewart almost snared both heats when first-starter Beale Street did all the work and failed by just a half-head to overpower the leader, Withouttheuh in a 1min56sec mile rate. Clearly Stewart has yet another fantastic juvenile crop he best-performed youngster Be Happy Mach ran a massive third in the Australian Gold final at Albion Park after doing the work outside winner, Jilliby Nitro. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER star Kiwi youngster King Of Swing continued his WA resurgence with a dazzling Gloucester Park win last night (Saturday). The Gary Hall Sr-trained four-year-old led throughout and thrashed a handy field by 23m in a slick 1min56.3sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. He ripped home in 54.7 and 26.8sec. “It’s great to see him finishing off his races so well,” Hall Sr said. “He’s got so much ability, but he has been able to lead to win his past couple. The next step is seeing what he can do in the field or outside them, but we’re thrilled with how he’s going right now.” The Gloucester Park feature was the $50,000 Pearl 3YO Classic won by underrated trainer-driver Aldo Cortopassi and his gelding Theo Aviator in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Ben Yole keeps smashing records in Tasmania. By far the state’s most dominant trainer, Yole created history by becoming the first trainer in the state to win 125 races in a season. It bettered his own record of 124. Yole reached the mark with four wins from the eight races at Launceston last Friday night. It was former Lance Justice pacer, 10-year-old Jeans Mattjesty, who made it 125 wins when he scored easily in the final event. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EVERGREEN pacer Maximan returned to winning form in the free-for-all at Menangle last night. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s 10-year-old overpowered his rivals in a slick 1min50.9sec mile with young driver Lachie Manzelmann in the sulky. Lauren Tritton drove stablemate and favourite Franco Nelson, who didn’t fire at his return from a spell and finished a distant eighth. Speedy mare Eye See Diamonds led throughout in a 1min52.9sec mile to win the Menangle feature, the Group 3 Miss Brazilian Stakes for mares. Another win of note came from former Great Southern Star winner Glenferrie Typhoon, who proved a class above his rivals for new trainer Roy Roots Jr and driver Lauren Tritton. Glenferrie Typhoon left Andy Gath for a stint in WA and was then sold to clients of Roots Jr. He’s won two of his five NSW runs and is now a nine-year-old. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NORTHVIEW Hustler is the latest of the Lincoln Farms pacers to enjoy the move from NZ to Queensland. The talented five-year-old turned heads with a winning debut for Alistair and Hayden Barnes in the feature race at Albion Park last night. Northview Hustler worked to the front from the standing start and always looked in control before winning well in a fast 1min57.3sec mile rate for the long 2647m trip in The Flashing Red Discretionary. It was a sign he could be a factor in the Queensland Winter Carnival features in July. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EMMA Stewart and Amanda Turnbull left their mark on one of South Australia’s biggest meetings at Port Pirie  last night. Turnbull trained and drove Catch A Moment to the easiest wins in the Group 2 3YO colts and geldings Southern Cross final. She then drove two-year-old filly Treasure to win an easy win in her final for Stewart. Stewart also Southern Cross finals for two-year-old colts and geldings with locally-owned One Highway Tohell. Local Port Pirie trainer Dale Afford had a night to remember, winning the 3YO fillies’ final with Shesashark and one of the consolations with Hesashark.   Adam Hamilton

PUNTERS think champion driver Chris Alford’s 51st birthday will be extra special at Melton on Saturday night. Alford is perched on 99 Group 1 career wins after missing out reaching the ton with minor placings in the two Australian Gold finals at Albion Park last Saturday night. But his drive in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton – Tell Me Tales – has been smashed in from $2.60 to $1.85 favourite despite a back row draw (gate 11). And it just happens to coincide with the day Alford turns 51. “It all looks good, doesn’t it … home track, a mare I love, my birthday … I think she’s going to be very hard to beat,” Alford said. “The longer distance (2760m) will really suit her. She won so well a couple of weeks back and I watched her run last week and it was huge given the run she had. “I’m sure she’s the best mare in the race and she can make her own luck, which gives you so much confidence.” Tell Me Tales sat parked to brilliantly win the first leg of Victoria’s mares’ “triple crown” the 1720m Make Mine Cullen on May 4, then did a power of work when a fantastic third to stablemate Berisari in last week’s 2240m Angelique Club Pace at Melton. “The draw gives us a great chance of staying in front of Berisari and working forward from there. She drew well and controlled the race in front last week, the draws makes it a lot harder for her this time,” Alford said. In an astonishing example of trainer Emma Stewart’s dominance, she has five of the 12 runners, including three of the first four in betting. Her runners are: Tell Me Tales (gate 11, $1.85), Berisari (13, $5), Delight Me (three, $8.50), Pistol Abbey (four, $34) and Frankincense (two, $41). Alford actually has an outside chance of bringing up his 100th Group 1 win earlier in the night with veteran trotter Kyvalley Blur, who is a $10 shot of a 10m handicap in the $50,000 Australian Trotting Championship. Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter McLovin (barrier one, $2.80) is favourite from the rejuvenated Savannah Jay Jay (two, $3.20).   Adam Hamilton

IT’S almost a year since Dance Craze was a hard luck story at the Harness Jewels, but she’s had some fun back home since. Anyone who thinks a Jewels trip could be detrimental to their horse only needs to look at her to see it’s been the opposite. In 13 starts since the Jewels raid, Dance Craze has posted seven wins and four seconds. The wins include Australia’s biggest trotting race, the Great Southern Star, and she added the Group 3 La Coocaracha at Menangle last night. She’s won almost $250,000 since that Jewels trip. Dance Craze looked the class act of the La Coocaracha back against her own sex and despite drawing the outside. She sat back and blew them away late to win by an increasing 1.8m over stablemate Pizza Queen in a 1min55.6sec. Tim Butt’s emerging mare Sassy Pants did the work and ran a creditable third despite galloping across the line. _________________________________________________________________________________ INTER Dominion hero Tiger Tara is back in work and being set for the Queensland Winter Carnival. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto gave the update after his emerging pacer Persimmon won the free-for-all in strong style at Menangle last night. “He’s been back a week, so it’s still early, but Queensland is the plan with he and a few others,” Pizzuto said. _________________________________________________________________________________ “DID that just happen?” Those were the magical words from Jocelyn Young after landing her first Group 1 driving win and causing a huge upset aboard Has No Fear in last Friday night’s $150,000 Group 1 WA Oaks at Gloucester Park. The race was supposed to be dominated by boom Kiwi import Dracarys, especially after the late scratching of major rival Balcatherine, but produced one of the “roughest” trifectas in modern feature race history. Nobody got the trifecta on the home TAB. Has No Fear was a $41 shot. The placegetters, Delightfulreaction ($101 the win) and Majorpride ($71 the win), paid $16.10 and $9.20 the place. Justin Prentice trains Dracarys, but also Has No Fear and the third-placed Majorpride. It was Young’s first Group 1 win and there were no shortage of well-wishers given Has No Fear is raced by the Pacing WA Syndicate, with many first-time owners to the sport. “It’s the first horse we syndicated when we resurrected the syndicate,” Gloucester Park CEO Mick Radley said. “This is so awesome.” That’s how Young felt. “They went hard, which suited me and I thought I had them on the home bend. She finds when they come at her,” she said. “This is absolutely a career highlight for me.” Dracarys drew inside the back row, Gary Hall Jr quickly had her into the clear and, although she had to spend some petrol to whiz around the field and take the lead, it was a shock she was spent on the home bend. She tired to finish sixth. _________________________________________________________________________________ EMMA Stewart has long felt Tell Me Tales could become Australia’s best mare. She’s well on her way judging by an utterly dominant $30,000 Group 3 Make Mine Cullen at Melton last night. Despite being three-wide early around the field from a back row draw, then sitting parked, Tell Me Tales won easily in a scorching 1min52.4sec mile rate for 1720m. It was the first leg of Victoria’s mares’ triple crown and she is very clearly the one to beat in the main leg, the Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific on what we saw last night. Steve Telfer’s Kiwi mare Our Step Up continued her fantastic Victorian form with a late-closing second, albeit being no match for the winner. Tell Me Tales record is an impressive 25 starts for 18 wins, four placings and now over $300,000. _________________________________________________________________________________ THE bubble burst on buzz Victorian filly Sleepee in the $40,000 Group 2 NSW Trotters’ Oaks. Sleepee headed into the race with five wins and a second from her six starts, grab the lead easily, dictated the terms and was still easily rundown by $26 outsider Royal Charlotte. All credit to Victorians Paul and Kari Males who made the trip to Menangle with a roughie and snared the prize with the daughter of Majestic Son. The other key runner, local Princess Kenny, galloped at the start and again on the home bend before finishing second-last. The race lost some depth when another key runner, last year’s Redwood winner Emerald Stride, was scratched. _________________________________________________________________________________ ONE-TIME budding superstar Jilliby Kung Fu is still sidelined with injury, but a few others of the “clan” are still firing. Marg Lee’s classy pair Jilliby Chevy and Jilliby Bandit both won at Melton last night. Jilliby Chevy prevailed by a whisker in the $30,000 Group 3 Country Clubs Championship final in a 1min56.1sec mile rate for 2240m with Jason Lee aboard. Two races later, Jason Lee took the reins on Jilliby Bandit for an all-the-way fast-class win in a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 1720m.   Adam Hamilton

A rare harness racing talent will go under the hammer to help find a cure for “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”. Tough Tilly, the half-sister to brilliant Victorian two-year-old of the year Centenario, will be auctioned at Saturday’s night EB Foundation Cotton Ball, a Benstud Standardbreds initiative to help take the fight to debilitating skin condition epidermolysis bullosa. With bidding open to all, the 25 per cent share in the filly out of Beninjurd by Captain Treacherous will feature as part of the night’s auction items, raising money for a cause dear to the heart of Benstud Standardbreds co-owner Craig Judd. Mr Judd’s daughter Kendal suffers from the condition and he said offering the quality filly was “our way of supporting the foundation”. “They have only one paid employee and 100 per cent of the money goes to helping the foundation find a cure,” he said. The winning bid not only buys a quarter share in Tough Tilly but covers all future racing costs, including training costs with Victoria’s reigning four-time trainer of the year Emma Stewart. The remaining 75 per cent will be retained by Benstud, further reinforcing the breeder’s confidence in their prodigy. “She’s the first horse we’ve actually kept to race for two years,” Mr Judd said. “In the past two years we’ve probably sold about 40 Benstud born and bred horses, but she’s the only one we will keep. If she had have gone to sales, if she wasn’t a sale’s topper I’d be staggered.” Bids can be placed at the Cotton Ball on Saturday night or by contacting Craig Judd on 0458 658 273 or email craig.judd@bigpond.com by 5pm on Friday. For more details about the foundation go to ebresearchfoundation.org   Michael Howard

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