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Xanderxav overcame an early speed duel to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. The Linton Power trained trotter had the pole draw, which helped him hold out the early challenge from fellow mobile-start firebrand squaregaiter Mister Gunsen. With regular driver David Moran in the spider Xanderxav, who hails from Marungi, continued his recent strong form, the wily eight-year-old racing more like a spritely four-year-old. At the 500-metre mark it became clear Xanderxav comfortably had the measure of race favourite Zedalite, which was beginning to struggle in the breeze. El Paco reaced by pulling out of the one-one to stake its claim three-wide, while Stoned I Am snagged back to the markers near the rear of the field and saved enormous ground around the final turn. But old Xanderxav is tougher than a cheap steak and the son of glorious trotter Wagon Apollo added a Group 2 victory to his kitbag, scoring a 4.9-metre win over runner-up Stoned I Am (Simone Walker). Xanderxav’s mile rate for the 2240-metre trip was 1:59.4. The Group 2 Breeders Crown Pacers’ Graduate was taken out by Keayang Cullen for Terang trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee. The in-form free-for-all star is headed towards the Miracle Mile long-term and tonight he defeated Shane Tritton trained Suave Stuey Lombo by 2.1 metres, while the winner’s stablemate, Keayang Steamer, finished third for driver Glen Craven. Keayang Cullen zipped around the field early to find the lead and then kept on kicking for a good win in a rate of 1:56.0, with a last half-mile of 55.7secs. Earlier in the night Grant Dixon trained and driven Feel The Faith was too strong for Glenferrie Blade in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ consolation, while Boasson Hagen took out the American Ideal @ Woodlands two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown consolation for Tasmanian trainer Christian Salter and leading reinsman Gavin Lang. Boasson Hagen beat runner-up Pompidou by a head with Hez The One third for Heywood trainer Bec East. John Justice delivered a perfect front-running drive aboard Shakti Bromac to land the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pace over 2240 metres, too strong for runner-up Valley Of Diamonds, while Wounded ran third. Rockbank trainer Joe Vassallo enjoyed success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trot with four-year-old Village Jasper gelding Stunning Jasper scoring a half-head win over race favourite Jeter with Speedy Rambo third. Michael Stanley, who has Soho Tokyo in the two-year-old fillies’ Breeders Crown Final on Sunday, captured the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 September Pace over 2240 metres with four-year-old Presidential Ball gelding Hilltop Hustler, which powered home by five metres over runner-up The Good Times and third placegetter Turnpike Cruiser. Four-year-old D M Dilinger gelding Crazy Dave broke his metropolitan maiden status in the eighth race, the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m. The winner came from the Gary Bailey stable at Portarlington and was driven by Michael Bellman. Essbee Doubleyou ran second for Jodi Quinlan, while Tyler Bromac was third for Matthew Craven. Valley Ess Jay won the last race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting consolation. Trained and driven by trotting master Chris Lang, the Skyvalley gelding fought back doggedly after being headed by The Third Son late to win by 1.9 metres. The Third Son held on for second for John Caldow, while Glenferrie Belle was well beaten in third place. Racing returns to Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday for the 10-Group 1 Breeders Crown Finals Day, where a huge crowd is expected. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

CENTRAL VICTORIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS CONTINUE AT MARYBOROUGH Heats three of the Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships continued at the Wedderburn HRC fixture held at Maryborough on Monday January 6, with Sapphire Swayze taking the C2 or better class pacers division over 2190 metres and Mallee Trapper the T0 or better class trotters over 2690 metres. Four year old Union Guy/Bold Sapphire gelding Sapphire Swayze was ultra impressive in his victory, returning a mile rate of 2-01.6 for the standing stat event. Trained by Adam Kelly at his new Riddell complex, Sapphire Swayze first up since June with stable reinsman Gavin Lang aboard, stepped cleanly from 10 metres to settle four back along the markers in a strung out field, with pole marker Whata Avenue pouncing straight to the front as the tapes released. Easing away from the inside to park in the open racing for the bell, Sapphire Swayze in a twinkling of an eye exploded to the front in the back straight with the race safely in his keeping. With Lang just sitting there in the straight, Sapphie Swayze coasted to the wire 4.8 metres in advance of Whata Avenue who struck to her task well, with Boyz Torque (three wide last lap) a further 10 metres away in third place after a tardy beginning. Popular Portarlington trainer Gary Bailey a devoted follower of the squaregaiter, received a boost when home bred six year old Wind Cries Maori/Trappers Girl gelding snared the trotters division. Driven by Ararat’s Michael Bellman, Mallee Trapper was quick to begin from a 30 metre handicap, going forward to surprisingly arrest the lead away from the last start Melton winner Invasive at the judge on the first occasion. Rated to perfection, Mallee Trapper defied all challengers to defeat the co 50 metre backmarker Loveyougoodboy (three wide last lap) by 1.1 metres, with Invasive a disappointing third after having every chance along the sprint lane a half head away in third place. The mile rate 2-05.8. Gary has been recuperating from a more than painful knee operation. Semi-Finals will be held at the St Arnaud HRC meeting at Charlton on Wednesday January 15, with the Finals at Maryborough five days later on Monday January 20. One of the highlights of the day was the victory of exciting Blissful Hall/Weona Rena four year old entire Bliss Man in the Wedderburn Motel Pace for C3 & C4 class over 1690 metres. Trained in the western part of the state at Hawkesdale (Hamilton District) by Graham Gee for wife Christine, Bliss Man again taking a concession for Terang’s Jason Lee was quickly away from inside the second line to press forward and park outside the pacemaker Aleppo Tiger (gate two). Pouring on the pressure in the last lap, Bliss Man cruised to the front on the final bend to score by 4.9 metres in a rate of 1-55.6 over Our Eastwood Cullen (four wide last lap) from near last, with Aleppo Tiger holding down third 3 metres away. It was Bliss Man’s 9th victory in 15 race appearances, the last six in succession. By Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

Monday trotting was held at Hamilton in the South West of the state on Monday December 16 and what a day it was for Ararat based Emma Hamblin who registered her first win as a trainer, when seven year old Keystone Salute/Downsouth Soon gelding Trappers Puzzle greeted the judge in the Bendigo Bank Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2160 metres. Also driven by Emma originally from NSW, Trappers Puzzle started from a daunting 70 metre backmark, but as there were no front markers, actually gave the leaders 60. Naturally settling at the tail of the field with the red-hot favourite Weregonnarock (10 metres) taking over from old timer Master Kiesey shortly after the start, Trappers Puzzle gained a lovely one/one trail in the final circuit when Idle Suntime came away from four back the markers ahead of him. Looming large on straightening, Trappers Puzzle raced clear in the shadows of the post to score by 10.1 metres in advance of Weregonnarock which gave nothing, with Idle Suntime third after making a break in the last lap. In winning, Trappers Puzzle bred and raced by squaregaiting devotee Gary Bailey returned a new track record mile rate of 2-02.3. Hawkesdale trainer Graham Gee's four year old BlissfulHall/Weena Rena entire Bliss Man continued his rapid rise through the classes when successful in the Taylor Motors Pace for C3 & C4 class over 1660 metres. Again taking a concession for Jason Lee, Bliss Man led throughout from the pole to street his rivals by 25.6 metres in a new track record of 1-54.1 over Alta Antonio which raced in the open for the last lap. Mosquito Flyer finished third 5.8 metres away. Bungaree's Julian Jobe combined with Greg Sugars to land the Alexandra House Pace for C1 class over 1660 metres with Cobargo Jack, a six year old gelded son of Village Jasper and Jewell Of Cobargo raced by wife Alison. Beginning swiftly from gate two, Cobargo Jack coasted at the head of affairs to record a comfortable 7.3 metre margin in advance of Ruby Heart which faced the breeze, with Latoya Lass (one/one) third. The mile rate 1-58.6. Mount Gambier (Glencoe) father and son - Barry & Jayson Finnis snared the Hunt's Auto Spares Pace for C0 class over 2160 metres with last start Globe Derby Park winner Paris To Berlin, a beautifully bred four year old gelding by Falcon Seelster from the good producer Roses In Paris a smart racemare herself. Despite racing in the open from gate three outside the heavily backed Jilliby Mac inside him, Paris To Berlin after dropping to trail the leader into the straight, finished strongly to score by 1.4 metres in a rate of 1-59.2 over The Jiggler (one/four - three wide last lap) and Jilliby Mac which got very tired over the concluding stages. The Finnis' were to make it two for the day when four year old Courage Under Fire/Surfing Queen gelding Flaming Hero scored in the Mountain View Stud Pace for C1 class over 2160 metres. Starting from the extreme draw, Flaming Hero possied near last in the running line, with the favourite Beau Ciel beginning fast from gate four to lead. Latching to the back of Tres Hombre ahead of him at the bell for a ride home, Flaming Hero when taken wide on turning, finished all over the top of his rivals to defeat a game Mayorofshinetown to give Mount Gambier the quinella, with Beau Ciel a disappointing third. The mile rate 2-00.4. Blacks A Fake's seven year old half brother The Avoca Flyer (Presidential Ball/Colada Hanover), trained by Peter Manning and taking a lift for Jason Lee, ran his rivals ragged from outside the front row in the Logical Property Services Pace for C1 class over 1660 metres. Always travelling under a tight rein, The Avoca Flyer scored by 1.4metres from the fast finishing Magical Bazz off a three wide trail from mid-field in the last lap. Mister Huxtable although very wide on the home turn, finished third. The mile rate 1-56.2. Jason Lee was to chalk up three for the afternoon after guiding border hopper Dagati Image to victory for Yahi trainer David Phillips in the Choice Hotels Pace Final for R0 class over 1660 metres which qualified in the heats held at Mount Gambier on December 8. Burning away from gate five, Dagati Image a 4-Y-0 gelding by Tinted Cloud from Cassels Atom led throughout to win in a breeze from Just Like Elle which trailed and Wings Of Delight (one/one) in a mile rate of 1-58.5. By Len Baker                                                        

Terang in South-West Victoria was the venue for Tuesday harness racing (September 18), with many of the local fraternity providing winners throughout the evening.

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