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SIDELINED star Hectorjayjay won’t be ready in time for the Melbourne Inter Dominion. New trainer Matty Craven had hoped the multiple Group 1 winner was on target with his latest comeback, but scans during this week proved a setback. “One part of the tendon has healed well, but the other part needs more time,” he said. “He had some more PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment and will go back into his box. “We’ll get him scanned again in eight weeks and if it looks ready, we’ll step his work up again. “So that’s obviously the end of the Inter Dominion and anything this year. Probably the Miracle Mile as well. “But this is really the last shot we’re going to have at getting him back, so we won’t take any risks or rush anything.” Hectorjayjay first went amiss after his career-best win in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park last July. His only run since came on June 21 this year where he won easily at Kilmore, but then sustained another tendon injury when trained by Gavin Lang. He was transferred to Craven soon after so he could mix beach training at Warrnambool into his rehabilitation program. Adam Hamilton

Bendigo trainer-driver Chris Svanosio's whirlwind season could ascend to an even greater tier when the talented horseman brings a strong hand to Maryborough for Sunday's trotting showcase. The two-day Redwood Carnival peaks with Sunday's Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at 3.47pm, when Svanosio will present two genuine chances in the $75,000 age classic. He will take the reins of well-drawn Kyvalley Finn and also trains Anywhere Hugo, the fancied and well-bred three-year-old who last month gifted Svanosio his first Group 1 as a trainer when winning the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series final. "Anywhere Hugo won a Group 1 a little while ago, so it's good to have him back and up again in the Derby on Sunday," Svanosio told Gait Speed today. The gelding by Majestic Son has won five of his 18 starts and been in the top three on 11 occasions, including when he placed third in last Saturday's SBG Accountants 3YO Trot at Tabcorp Park Melton. On that occasion Anywhere Hugo was slow away and has paid the price, with stewards placing the gelding out of the draw, which will have him start from gate 13. "I was very happy with his run," Svanosio said. "Being drawn out the back doesn't matter too much, it's a long trip, so (driver) Gavin (Lang) can keep out of trouble early and I'm sure he will be running home hard at the finish. "When you look at his sectional times (last start), Anywhere Hugo has run the quickest last mile and just kept running home the last 400 out three wide. He pulled up terrific, so I'm sure he will be fitter on Sunday." As mentioned, Svanosio will also field Kyvalley Finn in the Derby. "Anywhere Hugo's got a little bit more ability than Kyvalley Finn, but Kyvalley Finn just tries his hardest every time and he hasn't had a lot of luck in the bigger races with the draw," Svanosio said, before Kyvalley Finn was blessed with gate two for Saturday's Derby. "(From a good draw) he can get a nice trip up near them and I'm sure he will be finishing off pretty good. He's always pretty honest." It could be a big day for the 36-year-old, who will also take the reins of Group 1 winning trotter Sparkling Success. He is first up from a spell on Sunday in the Peter Egan Bi-Rite Electrical Trotters Free For All. It's an important outing for his Warrnambool trainer-owner-breeder John Meade, with Sparkling Success bound for a ground-breaking trip to the US to contest the International Trot at New York's Yonkers Raceway. "With going to the US in mind, (John Meade's) happy with how he's come up," Svanosio said. "He's had a few trials and will kick off on Sunday in the free for all. All going good he will have a couple of runs and is due to head to America mid-September." Michael Howard for Trots Media

REPORTS of Hectorjayjay’s retirement now seem premature. In an exciting twist, the superstar’s latest injury setback is not as severe as first feared and optimism is now high around a racetrack return, possibly in time for the Inter Dominion late this year. Managing-owner Matt McLellan said the past few weeks had been a whirlwind of emotions, but he the diagnosis of renowned Ballarat vet Ian Fulton had turned the tide. “Of course you think, ‘oh no, it’s probably over now’ as soon as you hear he’s had another setback. Especially after just one race back from a year out,” he said. “But when we got him to the Ballarat clinic they said he had an acute tear to his suspensory (ligament), but there were no issues with the old injury.” In a nutshell, the diagnosis was quite positive. Hectorjayjay was treated immediately, confined to a box for a few weeks and can resume rehabilitation in the next week or so. But the latest setback, along with Hectyorjay’s injury history, created a problem. “We had to find a new trainer for him,” McLellan said. “It’s a shame because Gavin (Lang) did such a great job getting him back to win that Kilmore race for us first-up, but Gavin said given the ligament setbacks the horse would be better suited to someone who trained on a beach. “There aren’t a lot of those around, but we did the homework and landed on Matty Craven.” Hectorjayjay has been with Craven for the past couple of weeks and will be scanned again next week with a review to resuming full training. “There’s still a way to go, but it’s exciting to think there is now serious hope of him returning to racing and fairly soon,” McLellan said. “We obviously want him back and the sport needs him to with so many of our big names being retired, going over to the US or going amiss like Soho Tribeca recently. “We’d love to have him back for the Inter Dominion and we’ll know about the possibility of that in the next month or so.” Adam Hamiton

GAVIN Lang’s rollercoaster week took another twist when he wound back the clock and snared a Group 1 Vicbred trotting double at Melton last night. Lang was on cloud nine after Hectorjayjay’s winning return at Kilmore last Saturday night, but in the dumps just a couple of days later when it was revealed the comeback star has aggravated the injury which sidelined him for a year.  But, like all great sportsman, Lang stayed focused and drove like an inspired man last night.  His first win came when he both trained and drove recent stable addition Moonshine Linda to snatch victory late over hot favourite Pretty Majestic in the $90,000 3YO Trotting Fillies’ final.  It was Lang’s biggest training triumph and continued his phenomenal strike since returning to training ranks earlier this year.  Lang then teamed with popular young horseman Chris “Snooze” Svanosio and Anywhere Hugo to win the 3YO Trotters’ Colts and Geldings final.  It was Svanosio’s first Group 1 training win, but he missed the drive as he instead took the reins on stablemate Kyvalley Finn, who ran fourth.  “I didn’t know until well after the line my other horse had won, I was so busy driving Kyvalley Finn to the line. It’s a heck of a thrill,” Svanosio said.  Anywhere Hugo lifted late to gun-down buzz trotter Wobelee, who overraced throughout, pinched a big break at the top of the straight, but just couldn’t find enough late for a desperate and clearly frustrated Chris Alford.  Anywhere Hugo’s win followed success in the Holmfield earlier this season and put him ahead of Wobelee, at least on performances, so far this season.  The gelding is raced by renowned vet Dr Alastair MacLean and his daughter, Elizabeth.  _________________________________________________________________________________ THE growing force that is Yabby Dams, Pat Driscoll and Anton Golino flexed its muscle again last night.  The team landed two of the Vicbred Group 1 finals: the 2YO Trotting Colts and Geldings with Always Ready (driven by Nathan Jack) and the 4YO Trotting Mares’ with Kinvara Sue (driven by Jason Lee).  They went so close to a Group 1 treble when Pretty Majestic led and looked the winner until Moonshine Linda charged home and snatched victory by 1.1m.  Golino did train a treble for the night with his brilliant mare Dance Craze barely raising a sweat in the opening race, winning by 7.2m.  It was her second win from as many starts back home after a luckless third in the Harness Jewels final and took her career record to 10 wins from just 14 starts.  “She’s just never been really sound this mare. She’s done a great job. She’s got so much speed,” Golino said.  _________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt joined the Group 1 party last night when two-year-old filly Fear The Yankee showed perfect manners to win her Vicbred final.  While seven of the 11 finalists made mistakes, the Shane Gallagher-trained Fear The Yankee began well, found herself in front and found plenty to hold-off the fast-finishing Sleepee.  _________________________________________________________________________________ CHRIS Alford jagged one of the Group 1’s last night, but just not with the trotter most expected.  Wobelee was the spruik trotter of the night, but had to be content with second in his final.  Alford’s win came aboard Peter Lane’s Kheiron, who won the 4YO Mares’ final in a desperate three-way go ahead of Next Thru and Illawong Byron.   Adam Hamilton

Hectorjayjay’s comeback could be over just run after it began. The multiple Group 1 winner has been scratched from Melton tomorrow (Saturday) night and managing owner Matt McLellan confirmed the gelding had “an issue.” “I’m away in England on holidays, but I can confirm there is an (injury) issue, but we don’t know the full extent as yet,” he said. “Gavin (Lang, trainer-driver) has scratched him from this week’s race and we want to find out more about the issue before making any longer term decisions.” Hectorjayjay was sidelined for almost a year with a suspensory ligament issue following his career-best Group 1 Blacks A Fake win at Albion Park last July. He returned with a sparkling win at Kilmore last Saturday and many tipped him to become Australia’s top pacer. Lang was always cautious when talking plans, noting the significance of any suspensory ligament injury.   Adam Hamilton

THIS Queensland Winter Carnival just got a whole lot more interesting. And the biggest and most exciting twist could be yet to come. Cruz Bromac’s upset Group 1 Len Smith win at Menangle yesterday threw his name into the Queensland mix, but did little to answer the question as to who Australia’s best pacer is right now. That’s largely because top seed and $1.40 Len Smith favourite Soho Tribeca broke at the start and effectively took no part in the race. It appeared Soho Tribeca, who was dipping his head in the score-up, got his head under the arm of the mobile briefly and caused himself to gallop. He was subsequent found to have pulled-up with a minor issue and stood down for seven days and pending a vet test. Many argued the mobile gate was going too slow for a major race and potentially contributed to Soho Tribeca’s issue. Whatever the exact reasons, punters copped it big time and Soho Tribeca took no part. Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal began well from the pole, but was no match for the early brilliance of a new-look Cruz Bromac – having just his second run for Kevin Pizzuto – and grabbed the trail on the leader throughout. My Field Marshal saw plenty of room at the right time in the home straight, but was unable to make any real impact on Cruz Bromac, who zipped home in 26.5sec at the end of a 1min50.1sec mile and won by 4.6m. “The win certainly didn’t surprise me,” Pizzuto said. “I tipped him on (Sydney) radio and told everyone we’d backed him fixed odds. “I got really keen on his chances after we worked him around the half mile track at Bankstown early in the week and he flew. I knew he was ready and I told Danny (Zavitsanos) he was spot-on.” Pizzuto and Zavitsanos run deep and sharing a Group 1 win was special. “I was gutted when Danny sold Majordan and he came out and went so well for me. I thought he might have a sold a Group 1 winner and still think he might have,” Pizzuto said. “So it was great when the chance to buy Cruz Bromac came along and Danny took 75 per cent of him with me to train, I thought ‘ok, let’s get this guy to win a Group 1 for us both’.” It was only a few weeks back at Cambridge when Zavitsanos and his wife, Joanne, won their first Group 1 race with the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Enhance Your Calm. Pizzuto said the next 24-48 hours would decide whether Cruz Bromac headed to Queensland for Saturday week’s Group 2 Sunshine Sprint and/or the Group 1 Blacks A Fake a week later. “He’s not the soundest horse, that’s well known, so we just need to see how he comes through this win,” Pizzuto said. Majordan, who parked outside the leader and weakened late for seventh, is headed for a spell. While Pizzuto’s other open-class star Tiger Tara is about to start fast work with a view to a racetrack return in late August. But back to Queensland and while Cruz Bromac’s plans will be known very soon, fans will have to wait until next week for the verdict with defending Blacks A Fake champion Hectorjayjay. Despite his sparkling comeback win at Kilmore last Friday, where he paced a 54.8sec last half outside the leader, new trainer-driver Gavin Lang still only seems lukewarm on heading north. “He’s racing again next weekend and Gavin will make his final decision then,” part-owner Mick Harvey said. Adam Hamilton

Having been given his name because he entered the world on wobbly legs Victoria’s leading three-year-old trotter’s title could become more associated with his behaviour. Despite chucking a wobbly out of the gates in last night’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting heats, reigning champion Wobelee recovered to win his three-year-old colts and geldings’ heat. It was a challenging but ultimately satisfying result for trainer Alison Alford and driver Chris Alford, with the winner of 14 of 18 starts – who’s never failed to place – overcoming the early 20m advantage his mistake gifted his rivals at Bendigo. “He’s a bit difficult, but when he can go like he does you sort of put up with it,” Chris told Trots Vision post-race. “Bit more work to do to get him to be normal.” Wobelee was fractious in the lead-up to the race and galloped as soon as the gates opened but gradually recovered in the run to score by 3.8 metres from Anywhere Hugo and Aldebaran Pete. “We’ll just have to try and iron out some of his pre-race issues and go from there,” Alford said. “Ability-wise he’s as good as all the ones who have gone around and qualified tonight. Touch wood, apart from his canter out tonight when he just got a bit keen, his run was really good and if he does the same in the final he will be right there.” Chris Svanosio will also take a strong hand into the July 6 Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting finals at Tabcorp Park, having not only had Anywhere Hugo the best of the rest behind Wobelee but also claimed the first boys’ heat with Kyvalley Finn. “Luckily this bloke was able to get out good enough to be able to get off the pegs after the start and work to the front,” Svanosio told Trots Vision. “He did it well. He’s never been out in front but he’s pretty tough and keeps fighting on. Now I just have to have him spot-on for the final.” The remaining colts and geldings' heat winner was Majestic Player, who led and held off favourite Lunchwitharthur, who recovered well after breaking stride early in the race. The victory was the first of a Majestic double for Yabby Dam Farms, with trainer Anton Golino producing a race-to-race double when another offspring of Majestic Son – Pretty Majestic – claimed the last of the night’s three-year-old trotting fillies' heats. Reinsman Jason Lee said Pretty Majestic, the Victoria Trotters Oaks winner, had a “good hit-out, she always improves after a run”. “She’s a pretty lazy type, which is a good thing to have, you don’t want to over-race them,” Lee told Trots Vision. “She did what she had to and hopefully she improves a bit – I’m confident she will.” The remaining fillies’ winners were two-year-old Vicbred champion Moonshine Linda for trainer-driver Gavin Lang and Moonlight Dream, who improved her record to six wins and five seconds from 14 starts with a win for trainer Andy Gath and reinswoman Kate Gath. “We decided to have a good crack,” Kate told Trots Vision after guiding Moonlight Dream to the front from the widest gate. “She has pretty good gate speed and as we know getting on the fence makes all the difference. “She has a habit of running pretty strong early. Once I crossed them I made sure I grabbed hold of her. I was really happy when I saw the lead time and the first quarter. “She’s a lovely little horse. It will be good to hopefully get things to go her way next week and she won’t be too far away." The Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting heats conclude with Thursday night's four-year-old heats at Geelong before the attention turns towards Friday night's 12 pacing semi-finals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series. Michael Howard

Here comes Hector. At a time the sport is crying our for big names to replace the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Bling It On, Heaven Rocks and others, Hectorjayjay’s comeback is huge. And it’s happening very soon. New trainer-driver Gavin Lang has pin-pointed the $20,000 Popular Alm Sprint at Kilmore on June 30 as the comeback race. It will be Hectorjayjay’s first start since going amiss in a suspensory ligament after his breathtaking Group 1 Blacks A Fake win at Albion Park in July, last year. Lang confirmed the return race after Hectorjayjay turned plenty of heads with second trial win in as many weeks. It was Melton yesterday where Hectorjayjay came from last to win and privately clocked with a 54.7sec last half. He beat classy rivals like Major Secret, Philadelphia Man, Three Ways and Tee Cee Bee Macray with a devastating blast of speed around the field. “Really, he went 54.7sec? I didn’t feel that quick. He did it so easily. He felt terrific,” Lang said. More importantly, he came through the trial in great fashion. “He was in the top paddock running around having fun with the kangaroos later that night,” Lang said. “He’s ready to race now. Kilmore looks suitable. It’s a sprint race and the timing is right. Around the same the time the Group 1 Len Smith Mile is run at Menangle, which means the likes of Soho Tribeca will be there instead of Victoria. “I know this horse has won a Len Smith before, but they go 1min48sec miles or quicker up there and he doesn’t need that first-up from a year out,” he said. “I’d like to get a couple of runs under his belt and hope he comes through them well before I look at anything bigger.” The dream of a Blacks A Fake defence at Albion Park on July 21 is alive, but Lang is coy. “A horse with his history, especially a suspensory issue, needs to be taking one race at a time. I’m just thinking about getting him to Kilmore and getting through that well,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

Some of the biggest names in Australian harness step-out at the Melton trials on Tuesday.  Leading the way is sidelined superstar Hectorjayjay, who hasn’t raced since winning the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park almost 11 months ago.  Hectorjayjay looked sharp winning a Geelong trial last Monday and could head back to the races if he impresses new trainer-driver Gavin Lang on Tuesday.  Some of the other big names set to trial on Tuesday include WA Cup winner Soho Tribeca, NSW Derby winner Poster Boy, Australian Gold 2YO winner Centenario and former Grad Circuit star Philadelphia Man. ______________________________________________________________________________________   The already lucrative Queensland Winter Carnival just became even more attractive for Kiwi raiders.  There are four Group 1 races across 10 weeks and more than $1.1 million up for grabs.  Now you can throw in another $120,000 in bonuses across the biggest races thanks for Ubet (the Queensland TAB).  The Ubet bonuses are: $50,000 Ubet Grand Slam bonus – for any horse who can win the Sunshine Sprint (July 14) and Blacks A Fake (July 21) double $15,000 Ubet Slam bonus – to the connections of any horse who can place in both the Blacks A Fake and Sunshine Sprint … or win one and place in the other. $20,000 Ubet Trainers’ Slam Bonus – available to any trainer who wins two or more of the following feature races: Queensland Derby, Blacks A Fake, Queensland Oaks, Queensland Trotters’ Cup ______________________________________________________________________________________   Kiwi filly Sociable looks set to be a key player in that Queensland Carnival after her easy all-the-way Redcliffe Oaks win last Friday night.  John Caldow took the reins for trainer Andrew Stuart and buzzed Sociable out of gate four to find the front, dictate the terms and win easily by 5.1m from local glamour pair Fame Assured and Aqua Miss in a 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2040m.  Aqua Miss was the run of the race after coming from the back to sit parked around the tight Redcliffe track.  Driver Gary Whittaker and trainer Bill Crosby teamed-up with six-year-old Constantly Sideways to win the $30,540 Group 3 Redcliffe Cup from former Kiwi pacer Alleluia. ______________________________________________________________________________________   There was some nice symmetry to the fact WA juvenile Bletchley Park brilliant won two races in the space of three days last week.  Bletchley Park is a brother to Bling It On – by Americal Ideal out of Alldatglittersisgold – and the Gloucester Park wins last Tuesday and Friday nights came in the week Bling It On was retired after racing at Menangle last night.  Trainer Mike Reed declared Bletchley Park “a bit special” before he raced and his four starts for three wins and a second suggest he’s on the money.  Last Friday night the colt sparkled with a 1min53.6sec mile rate for 1730m to win by 12.2m and dash home in splits of 56.7 and 28.5sec. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Emma Stewart’s feature race dominance continued at Melton last Friday night when she snared the quinella in the Group 3 Alabar Silver Chalice.  With nominal favourite Carlas Pixel scratched, buzz mare Tell Me Tales started and hot favourite and was simply too good for her improving stablemate Flying Moth in a 1min55.3sec mile rate for 2240m.  Chris Alford drove Tell Me Tales, one of his staggering five wins on the card. He also teamed with trainer Chris Svanosio and Anywhere Hugo to win the Group 2 Holmfield 3YO Trot.  Former Kiwi pair Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt combined to win the free-for-all with the emerging Moonrock, who led throughout in a 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2240m.  Australia’s best mare Ameretto could only manage fourth after trying to outsprint them from last in a leader dominated affair. ______________________________________________________________________________________   Gavin Lang’s re-emergence as a training force continued when improving trotter Save Our Pennys upstaged a good field to win the Group 3 Bendigo Trotters’ Cup last night.  Lang opted to trail the leader Any Old Way while favourite Tough Monarch sat parked and Save Our Pennys zipped home too quickly to win well.  Lang is up to 15 horses in training, headed by comeback superstar Hectorjayjay.  The other buzz winner at Bendigo was the untapped three-year-old Bonus Play, who is trained by Bruce Morgan and John Caldow took the reins.  Bonus Play galloped on debut and lost all chance, but could not have been more impressive winning all three runs since and looks feature race material. ______________________________________________________________________________________   Former Kiwi pacer Celestial Arden snared his biggest win so far when he thrashed a good open-class field in the Group 3 JD Watts Memorial at Menangle last night.  And, just for good measure, he blazed a scorching 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2300m to win by 12m over rejuvenated veteran Ultimate Art with the in-form Match In Heaven third.  The biggest talking point of the race was the below par run of former Hunter Cup winner Bling It On, who ran ninth and was subsequently retired from racing to resume his stud duties.  Also at Menangle, owner-breeders Emilio and Mary Rosati landed another feature win when their two-year-old trotting filly Emerald Stride gapped her rivals in the Group 3 Foundation final.  She won by 38m and trotted the 2300m in a 2min2.5sec mile rate.   Adam Hamitlon

AT last there is some great news in pacing’s open-class ranks. It’s a tough few months with horses like Vincent retiring, stars like Heaven Rocks and Have Faith In Me leaving our shores and questions marks on Lazarus’s racing future. But one of the sport’s absolute stars, the brilliant Hectorjayjay, is just weeks away from a comeback. The millionaire pacer hasn’t raced since sustaining a suspensory ligament injury after the biggest and best win of his career in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Managing-owner Matt McLellan hopes Hectorjayjay could be back to defend that title. “It’s been a long road, but we are getting to the business end now,” he said. “He’s had PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment, a full body scan and several extra targeted scans, four different vets go over him and eight months of rehab. “The past few months he’s been with Peter Clarke on the water-walker. “He’s been back in work for three weeks, will have another month with Peter and then head to the stables to decide when he can race again. “I’d love to think he’ll be back for a few lead-up runs in Victoria and then head to Queensland, but that’s the aim more than anything definite.” Champion driver Gavin Lang will be Hectorjayjay’s new trainer, mainly because he is Melton-based and much closer to McLellan’s home. “This horse is special to me and I want to see him regularly. I’ve had a long association with Gavin, he knows this horse so well and he’s 45mins from my place rather than two hours or so to David (Aiken’s) stables,” McClellan said. “David has done such a fantastic job with the horse, but this is last roll of the dice with Hectorjayjay and there are no guarantees he will make it back. The signs are good, but I want to be close to him to see him often as I can and stay right across his progress. “I also want to give special mention to the huge input Josh Aiken and Kima Frenning had when the horse was at the Aiken stable.” Lang has driven Hectorjayjay 12 times for eight wins – including the 2016 Group 1 Len Smith Mile and Group 2 Sunshine Sprint – three seconds and a luckless fifth. Hectorjayjay’s record sits at 79 starts for 42 wins, 21 placings and $1,143,907 in stakemoney.   Adam Hamilton

Next stop is the Victoria Derby heats for Australia’s buzz three-year-old Lumineer. The colt made it two wins from as many starts this campaign and stretched his unbeaten record to seven runs with another dominant display in last Friday night’s $20,000 VHRSC 3YO Classic (2240m) at Melton. He was surprisingly eased to the rear at the start from gate four, but driver Jason Lee made a lightning midrace move around them to take the front and won as he liked by 10.4m in a cosy 1min57.4sec mile rate. Lumineer ripped home in 55sec and 27.1sec under his own steam. “He can get fired up, so we didn’t want to use him off the gate this early in his campaign. Jason said he relaxed well coming back off the gate and then got the lead easily when he made his move,” trainer Ange McDowall said. “We know he’s got the gate speed when want to use it, but you don’t want to everu time with a horse who can get a bit keen.” McDowall said the run definitely sharpened-up Lumineer again. “He still had a good blow afterwards, so I’m glad he got a good hitout and we’ve had the two lead-in runs to the (Derby) heats.” The Derby heats are at Ballarat on Saturday week with the final at Melton on January 27. Although unbeaten Kiwi Chase Auckland won’t be there, McDowall still knows the enormity of the task ahead. “There are so many nice three-year-olds around. Poster Boy came back with a good win, I like the Queensland horse Colt Thirty One a lot and then there are the Kiwis as well,” she said. Poster Boy, regarded as Emma Stewart’s top Derby hope, opened his season with a soft Bendigo win last Saturday night. It proved little after he found the lead cheaply and only dashed-up the last 400m in 27.8sec to win by 9.6m.   _____________________________________________________________________________   It's been a golden few weeks for Brent Lilley. And it’s been a couple his veterans leading the charge in Kyvalley Blur across in NZ and now Messini back home. Messini landed yet another major win, this time as an outsider, when he outstayed a handy field in last Saturday night’s $60,000 Group 2 Bendigo Cup (2650m) in a 1min57.7sec mile rate. It was a fascinating race which sparked plenty of post-race stewards’ questions when favourites Ideal For Real and Moonrock duelled for the front for 400m. The effort took its toll on both with Moonrock finishing fourth and Ideal For Real, first-up for 16 months, wilting very badly to finishing last. Stewards queried Gavin Lang and Anthony Butt’s tactics on Ideal For Real and Moonrock respectively.   _____________________________________________________________________________   Popular Victorian driver Chris Svanosio confidently and correctly predicted his first Group 1 win at Bendigo. Svanosio spoke glowingly about Sparkling Success’ chances in a pre-race on-track interview and the John Meade trotter delivered with a dominant win in a scorching track record 1min53.9sec in the Group 1 Maori Mile. “He’s always shown so much potential and he’s really matured now,” Svanosio said. “That was some sort of win.” Reigning Great Southern Star champ Glenferrie Typhoon led in slick times, but looked under pressure when he broke and Sparkling Success powered clear. Sparkling Success won by 6.9m over Sonya Smith’s talented former Kiwi trotter Hey Yo with Vincennes in third spot.   _____________________________________________________________________________   It will be interesting to see whether NSW trainer Darren Elder heads to the Victoria Derby heats with Bright Energy. The emerging son of Western Terror impressively won the Group 3 Simpson Memorial at Menangle last Saturday night, which is a tradtional lead-up race for NSW-based raiders ahead of the Victoria Derby. It was a hotly contested 1min52sec mile with Shane Tritton’s Divine State bowling along front, before tiring late for fourth. Mark Jones’ Kiwi pacer Life Lavros was backed into favourite, but worked hard and dropped-out to finish last. The hardluck story was Amanda Turnbull’s lighly-raced War Dan – a brother to Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster – who ran into plenty of traffic issues in sixth spot.   _____________________________________________________________________________   Tim Butt’s Menangle stable continues to build momentum. Veteran former Scandinavian trotter Daryl Boko returned to his best form for the the most dominant of wins at Menangle last Saturday night. Despite sitting parked for driver Chris Geary, the eight-year-old powered clear to win by 10.5m in a 1min55.2sec mile.   _____________________________________________________________________________   So who is the stable star of the powerhouse KerryAnn Turner/Robbie Morris barn? Aztec Bromac grabbed the tag with a hugely successful Queensland spring campaign, but Charlaval has clearly gone to the next level in recent weeks. Fresh from upstaging Bling It On at Bathurst on Boxing Night, Charlaval dominantly won the Menangle free-for-all in a slick 1min51.3sec mile last Saturday night. Classy Kiwi pacer No Doctor Needed, back for another stint with Paul Fitzpatrick, caught the eye with a terrific second placing.   Adam Hamilton

Among her many traits, consistency, a will to win and electric gate speed helps make Maori Time a true harness racing all-rounder. From arguably the most famous trotting family of them all, the Pegasus Spur/Sundonna eight-year-old has earned a tick over $392,000 from 59 starts, with 23 wins and a further 19 minor placings (42 podiums from 59!). And remarkably, the three-time Group 1 winner is now a three-time Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint winner following last night’s narrow win at Tabcorp Park Melton. With Gavin Lang in the sulky, Maori Time overcame an inside-back-row draw to overhaul Sparkling Success (Chris Svanosio) and Glenferrie Typhoon (Kate Gath) in a three-way photo. Her winning mile rate was 1:56.6 for the 1720m trip. It was Maori Time's third win on the trot this season. Maori Time is trained by Brent Lilley and raced by owner/breeder Fred Crews. The mare has now won more Bill Collins Sprint races than any other squaregaiter, Maori Time’s triple success eclipsing two-time race winners Will Trapper (2008 & 2011), Take A Moment (2002 & 2003) and Pride Of Petite (1996 & 1998). Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The success of Adelaide standardbred syndicator Bruce Cameron in the Southern Cross series continued in 2017 but produced firsts of his own which impressed champion harness racing driver Gavin Lang. Cameron’s first win on Saturday was in the Group 2 Ubet Three-Year-Old Fillies Southern Cross Final (2230m) where Perfect Look proved too strong for stablemate Our Celebrity. His second victory came in the following race when That’s Perfect led throughout to win the Group 2 Ubet Two-Year-Old Colts & Geldings Southern Cross Final (1800m). As usual, both were trained in Victoria by Emma Stewart. It was Cameron’s ninth overall winner in Southern Cross races but his first in a colts & geldings race but what took Lang’s attention was that his Saturday night winners were brother and sister, by Art Major out of the mare Perfect Life. “I’m not sure that would have happened all that often,” Lang said. “It certainly is a wonderful achievement.” Perfect Look’s victory in the Three-Year-Old Fillies final was the fourth straight success by a Cameron runner in that Southern Cross race – and his fifth overall. The first success was in 2012 with Beauty Secret, then from 2014 it has been Punch Line, Lovelist and Rocknroll Magic which have been successful. This year, Our Celebrity, with Lang in the sulky and the $1.50 favourite, was expected to follow her victory in the Two-Year-Old Fillies final last year with a win to complete the double but it was Perfect Look, driven by international reinsman Sidney Van den Brande, which proved too strong. For Van den Brande, it was his first Group success, in a career which began in Europe and has seen him work in the United States before coming to Australia. He drove the perfect race on Perfect Look ($3.70) which sat outside the leader Our Celebrity over the last lap before drawing clear to score by a metre with Canelliesparkle ($69), 20-1/2 metres away third. Our Celebrity began well from gate five but the Vince Vallelonga-trained Lisa Crocker, driven by Jayden Brewin from gate one, came away quickly to lead, and while most expected Our Celebrity to roll to the front, Brewin kept the favourite out a bit longer than her supporters would have hoped. Once in front, Lang eased the tempo markedly with a 32.8 second first quarter before improving for a 31.4 second quarter. Once the speed back off, Van den Brande took Perfect Look from the running line to sit parked and helped dictate the tempo. The pair went for home from the 600m mark with final quarters of 28.6 and 28.1 but it was Perfect Look which prevailed. Cameron said he was in a position where he couldn’t lose up the home straight. “Perfect Look was a bit of an unknown,” Cameron said. “She was a late starter and having only her fourth start. We knew she had ability and would improve and I’m happy for the owners which include Mary Hook from Orrorroo, and Sidney (Van den Brande). “Sidney was under a bit of pressure last week with his four drives, all favourites, while this week he was able to focus on just one drive, with far less pressure, and he drove superbly.” Cameron said Our Celebrity, having just her second run from a year off, found the winner just too good. That’s Perfect, a red-hot $1.45 favourite, had an easy lead with Gavin Lang in the sulky, and scored a comfortable 6-1/2 metre win from Clarenden Valour ($10.50) which trailed the winner with Tin Roof Raider ($9.40), two metres away third, after sitting parked for the entire journey. Cameron said he would see how all his Southern Cross runners came through the series before working out whether they would proceed to the Breeders Crown races. by Graham Fischer

It was quite fitting Gavin Lang and Dexter Dunn reached career milestones on the same weekend. While Dunn has re-written all the record books in NZ, Lang is widely regarded as the best driver Australia has seen. Although, the Chris Alford fans might argue the toss on that one. Lang, 58, landed his 6000th career win in typically patience and sublime style on outsider, the Emma Stewart-trained Tell Me Tales, in the Group 1 Vicbred final for 3YO fillies at Melton last night. It came just a few months after Alford became the first driver in this part of the world to hit 6000 career wins. “These colours have been very good to me for a lot of years now,” Lang said. “I’m quite happy to achieve this tonight, especially for these guys. 6000 wins, I’m nearly 60 years that’s only 100 a year so it’s not much when you add it up like that,” Lang told harness.org,.au. While Lang has been associated with so many great stables over his stellar career, it has been Stewart and co-trainer Clayton Tonkin who have been his backbone in recent times. So much so, it was loyalty to Stewart and Tonkin which saw Lang surrender the drive on Hectorjayjay ahead of last year’s Perth Inter Dominion. The Vicbred 3YO fillies’ final was billed as a match-race between arch-rivals Petacular and Miss Graceland. Miss Graceland won the first battle by holding the lead, but soon after started to overrace badly for driver Chris Alford. Given Petacular was stuck parked as Miss Graceland charged along in slick splits in front, she too was a victim of the leader’s headstrong, self-destructive mindset. Miss Graceland stopped on the final bend, Petacular zoomed clear and looked set to win and then along came Lang on Tell Me Tales. As hard as a very brave Petacular tried to lift, Tell Me Tales fresh legs were too much and snatched victory by 1.2m in a 1min56.5sec mile rate for 2240m.   Adam Hamilton

It was fittingly a Group 1 win at Tabcorp Park Melton that would see Gavin Lang join the elite harness racing group of two Southern Hemisphere winners of 6000 races as a drive. Lang won the Captain Treacherous Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final for three-year-old fillies with Tell Me Tales to join Chris Alford on the magical mark. Lang said the victory was a “good feeling”, with the win all the more significant for the fact it was done representing Emma Stewart’s stable. “These colours have been very good to me for a lot of years now,” Lang said. “I’m quite happy to achieve this tonight, especially for these guys. 6000 wins, I’m nearly 60 years that’s only 100 a year so it’s not much when you add it up like that.” The modesty belied a cracking drive that brought up the victory, with Tell Me Tales upstaging highly fancied favourites Petacular and Miss Graceland, who worked to the front but with the latter overracing it kept the door ajar for the contenders. Come the final stages it was Tell Me Tales hitting the line best to secure the bulk of the $120,000 prize. “Everything worked out well for her,” Lang said. “The barrier draw came out and (12) was not what you would have chosen if you had the choice, but you knew full well the ingredients were there that it might be a genuinely run race and when you’re drawn bad that’s what you require. “She’s progressively got better each run Emma and Clayton have had her.” The win was one of three Group 1s captured on the night by Stewart’s stable, with Poster Boy and Nostra Villa winning the two-year-old features, both with Alford in the sulky. For results and video replays of races from Tabcorp Park Melton click here. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

It was the night we had been waiting for. Emerging trainer Anton Golino and the leviathan team that is Yabby Dams has been threatening to dominate a major meeting. And it happened when they snared two Group 1s and Group 3 at Melton’s huge Vicbred “trotting finals” night last night (Friday). It started when three-year-old Muscle Mass filly Nieta posted her seventh win from just 14 starts when she sat behind main danger, Kyvalley Kyrie, and out-zipped her to win the Group 3 Vicbred Silver Trot. “If they were ever going to beat her tonight was the night when they walked and dashed up the straight, but I think they underestimated her speed tonight,” driver Nathan Jack told harness.org.au. Like so many of the stars of the Vicbred meeting, Nieta’s next main target is the Breeders Crown. Nieta is bred to keep improving being out of La Biscuit, a daughter of former champion trotting mare La Coocaracha. Golino’s enormous depth in three-year-old trotting filly ranks was underlined when another one of his, Kinvara Sue, used the pole to lead and thrash her rivals with Jason Lee aboard in the Group 1 3YO Fillies’ Vicbred final.   Lee broke her his rivals with a 28.6sec split down the back and won by 11.1m in a 2min0.4sec mile rate for 2240m, but the effort of runner-up Margaret Ruth to carry a flat tyre most of the trip was outstanding. “It’s been a tremendous effort by the team to get her to relax and to do that tonight and have the horse outside her there racing very fierce, and for to relax and rip home like that was terrific,” Lee said about Kinvara Sue. “Any win is awesome but when they’ve got Group 1 written behind them that was pretty special. To win my first Group 1 trotters race for Anton and Pat is just awesome. Really enjoy sitting behind a trotter now.” Pat is of course Pat Driscoll, the man, the brains and the money behind Yabby Dams. Driscoll and Golino’s treble came up when Aldebaran Eve, driven by Gavin Lang, led throughout and just held-off favourite Into The Unknown in the Group 1 Vicbred 4YO Mares’ final. “Credit to Anton and the team. She’s probably not the most gifted horse they’ve got but great manners, great attitude and a little bit ability which always helps.” Lang said. Golino praised the his team at Yabby Dams, most notably former All Stars’ travelling foreman Shaun McNaulty “We are starting to get a good team of horses and people,” Golino said. “Young Shaun helps with me with the horses and does a great job.” YOUNG trotting star Wobelee stirs plenty of memories for driver and co-trainer Chris Alford. His fantastic juvenile season of six wins a second and a third from just eight starts has rekindled memories more than 20 years old for Alford. It was 1995 when Alford’s father unearthed the great juvenile trotter Noopy Kiosk, who ranks up with the best baby trotters Australia has seen. Wobelee’s fantastic record, slick times and big winners margins have drawn inevitable comparisons. Throw in the fact Wobelee is trained by Alford’s wife, Alison, and it’s been a pretty special ride this season. Wobelee made it six wins on end and snared his second Group 1 when he won the Vicbred 2YO final at Melton last night by 18.2m. Previously he’d won the Group 1 Vicbred Platinum final by 16.3m on June 3 and the Group 2 Tatlow final before that. “He just likes to race. He doesn’t do a real lot at home. We didn’t have much idea other than that he trotted and he’d make the races until he qualified. He just got better and better each time he goes out. He just wants to get out there and go. He knocked off when he got a long way in front tonight. “I don’t have to ask him (early) he just wants to go. “He’s got his dad’s speed and good for him he’s got better manners.” Wobelee’s “dad” is brilliant but sometimes erratic trotter Down Under Muscles, who won 17 of 41 starts and $216,925 in stakes. ANTHONY Butt’s daring and aggressive driving has won him countless feature races. It proved the difference again last night when Butt surprised a few by leading and holding the front on Enrolled in the Group 1 Vicbred 4YO final (2240m). Many thought Butt might take the “safe” option and take a trail behind hot favourite Maori Law, however Butt had different ideas. Maori Law didn’t enjoy having to do the grunt work, broke under pressure and Enrolled powered to a 7.4m win for Butt and trainer Brent Lilley. Butt capped a double and caused the upset of the night aboard $32.10 outsider Crow Power in the Group 3 Vicbred Silver final. Other drivers to land doubles on the big night were Nathan Jack – Nieta and two-year-old filly Moonshine Linda – and Gavin Lang, who won on Aldebaran Eve and Deltasun in the Group 1 3YO colts and geldings final.   Michael Guerin

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