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Master harness racing trainer David Aiken pulled off the ultimate big-race success when he trained the quinella in today’s $100,000 TABCORP.COM.AU Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The only problem was it wasn’t quite the way punters expected it to go. Aiken’s up and comer Hectorjayjay ($10.10), finished like a train to swamp odds-on favourite Lennytheshark ($1.40 favourite) by 1.2m, with Ohoka Punter ($7) a fighting third 7.1m further way. The winner rated a slashing 1:50.5, confirming the huge wraps that Aiken had placed on the five-year-old gelding, who is now bound for Queensland and further feature starts. Victoria’s two leading reinsmen Gavin Lang (Hectorjayjay) and Chris Alford (Lennytheshark) cleared away to fight out the finish although the wicked grin on Lang’s face in the last 100m clearly indicated he knew he had the race in his keeping. Close behind the placegetters were outsiders Blazin N Cullen and Alta Jerome, just ahead of the mighty mare Frith, who endured a torrid run and couldn’t match the Grand Circuit stars in the straight. “Gavin really likes this five-year-old gelding by Dream Away,” said Aiken. “He doesn’t say a lot but I just really got the feeling he’s been impressed with his turn of foot.” Lang explained that draws were important and 14 was not ideal against a quality field like that. “As I always say before the race, it’s only a number, we usually have a post mortem after and decide if they’re good bad or otherwise . . . and it turned out perfectly,” said Lang. “That’s one thing about drawing 14, you need those type of quick sectionals early to bring you into the race and that’s how it turned out. “That early burn gives you a chance. Over a mile if they go slowly early then you are left to do your share of work to get into the race and chasing quality horses, well, you just won’t catch them.” Lang said Hectorjayjay always travelled well and his only concern pre-race was that he had been scratched from his last run because he had a minor problem. “But a solidly run race (like today’s) can be their downfall and to the stable’s credit they did a great job and had him in excellent condition,” he said. Home straight: “He’s a good horse and that’s one of the qualities that good horses have - under pressure they really dig in.” “I’m sure these two horses will have some epic battles in the future.” Michael Howard

Smythes Creek harness racing trainer Emma Stewart holds plenty of aces in next Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. The three-year-old pacing fillies’ division appears to be one of her strongest hands. Stewart has four runners in the field and semi-final winner Whirily School’s stocks only rose when she pulled gate one at the barrier draw. “It was one of those cases where the wide barrier draw was actually to her advantage,” Greg Sugars said of Whirily School’s semi-final win tonight. “We were able to press forward and once she was able to take up the lead she was always the one to beat. “It’s probably a very honest and fair assessment to say she’s probably a length or so behind the very best of her age group, but she is certainly not far behind them . With a bit of luck in the final she is definitely in with a chance.” Whirily School (Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen) worked forward to eventually find the lead through a 45secs lead time and posted quarters of 30.5, 32.5, 28.9 and 28.9 for a mile rate of 1:58.7. Stablemate Rocknroll Magic will take a power of beating in the final though, despite drawing barrier 11. The filly by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic made it 15 career wins from 22 starts tonight, notching a 1:57.5 mile rate in the chair (55.2 last half) to overhaul leader Rockstar Angel by a half-neck. “I probably expected that is where I would land in the run but I was still confident enough she’d be good enough,” winning driver Gavin Lang said. “She’s one of the main players (in the final), as you know with Emma and Clayton’s horses this time of the year they’re always on song.” Rockstar Angel has drawn barrier eight so will follow Whirily School. In the three-year-old colts and geldings’ final, semi-final winners Soho Tribeca (American Ideal/Pixel Perfect) and Iceenothink (Art Major/Decethree Lombo) have drawn gates three and four for the Final. Iceenothink finished powerfully tonight for Chris Alford and trainer Larry Eastman (who combined to win this section last year with Menin Gate), holding off Mario Attard and Don’t Hold Back, who also savaged the line from well-back. Iceenothink posted a 1:57.4 mile rate. Soho Tribeca, trained by Jayne Davies and driven by Alford, scored by a half-neck over Carter Bromac, with Brallos Pass third in a rate of 1:57.4. “He was going to get a good run through, (it was) just whether he could stay in front of Brallos Pass. That didn’t work out but he (Brallos Pass) had to do a fair bit of work,” Alford said. “Just got to hope he gets a good draw and he can play a part next week.” Burrumbeet trainer-driver Michael Stanley is set for a busy Vicbred finals night once again, qualifying six pacers through tonight’s semis. His three-year-old Spiritwriter drew the pole in the males’ division and that brings him right into contention.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Fillies Final Barrier Draw 1: Whirily School 2: Ideal Lifestyle 3: Kalinda 4: Platinum Power (em) 5: Just Wantano 6: Nikkibadwagon 7: Flojos Gold 8: Rockstar Angel 9: Alessa 10: Celebrity Guest 11: Rocknroll Magic 12: Rockabella Starz 13: Champagne Taste Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts & Geldnigs Final Barrier Draw 1: Spiritwriter 2: Battle Born 3: Soho Tribeca 4: Iceenothink 5: Keep On Rocking 6: Senor Macray 7: Brallos Pass 8: Herehecomes 9: Professor Tom 10: Showgun Thomas 11: Illawong Maestro 12: Dont Hold Back 13: Carter Bromac ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Advantage Sundons Courage and Princess Phoenix after the three-year-old trotters' barrier draws for the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Drawn on Friday night amid the pacers' semi-finals, Sundons Courage drew the front row in the colts and geldings and fellow heat winner Cruisin Around will start from barrier eight, while Sky Majesty will start from barrier 12 in the fillies, opening the door further for her rivals. The three-year-old fillies semi-final promises to be an evenly fought and engaging final, with several winning hopes. Among them is Princess Phoenix, a $1.80 favourite in the second heat at Bendigo last Wednesday, who led but was beaten into third by winner Into The Unknown, from Donna Lewis’ Toolern Vale stable, and Geoff Webster’s Rift Valley. The first heat was all about Sky Majesty (Skyvalley/Mystic Hush). Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan was rapt with her filly’s heat win, which she said was one of her “best runs to date”. The 12m victory came after she found the front and careered away, and Sky Majesty should be right in the final despite the tough draw. “I was very happy with her heat,” Quinlan said. “She’s a good chance. There’s not a lot of difference between the horses in the grade, it is pretty even. “(Sky Majesty) can sit and sprint. She is not a class above them, but I think they have all come back to each other.” The three-year-old colts and geldings final also promises much, not the least of which is another showdown between Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy/Cloud Chaser) and Sundons Courage. Both won their heats, with Sundons Courage (Sundon/Truscott Photo) a 1.6m winner for Muckleford trainer Chris Angove and Bolinda driver Chris Alford, with Brent Lilley’s $34-shot Kyvalley Tinman running into second. Cruisin Around’s win was even tighter. Driven to one-out one-back by Myrniong’s Greg Sugars, Cruisin Around lost touch with front runners Calder Knight and Big Jack Hammer at the final bend but wound up sufficiently in the straight to win by a short half-head. Bannockburn trainer-driver Geoff Webster’s three-year-old Big Jack Hammer (The Press/Running Pinevale) punched on for second in the breeze and will be a threat come next Friday’s final, says Cranbourne’s Michael Hughes, trainer of Cruisin Around. “There are three or four really good horses,” Hughes said. “(Cruisin Around) has always had a ding-dong battle with Sundons Courage. Big Jack Hammer looked back on song, and a few others are also a chance. It will all come down to who has the best luck.” Hughes’ confidence about his own charge’s horse were only emboldened with Cruisin Around’s heat win. “I think he went pretty good. I was a little worried when he lost ground at the top of the straight, but he did a good job to pick them up in such a quick quarter,” Hughes said. “I give him a really good chance as long as he does everything right. The horse is really good, feels really good, there are no issues. He is a good sit-sprinter, but has also done it the tough way and led before.”   Barrier draws: Three-year-old colts and geldings trotters 1: Kyvalley Tinman 2: Skyflyer 3: Big Jack Hammer 4: Calder Knight 5: Sundons Courage 6: Cargerie 7: Sun Valley Road 8: Cruisin Around 9: Diamond Wes (emg) 10: Sky Me A River 11: Menewa 12: Shetland  13: Imahe Man (ODM)   Barrier draws: Three-year-old fillies trotters 1: Aldebaran Eve 2: Never Never Land (emg) 3: Princess Phoenix 4: Mizurri 5: Defence Power 6: Into The Unknown 7: The Cooler 8: Tension Seeker 9: Getthenet 10: Illawong Bliss 11: Rift Valley 12: Sky Majesty 13: Scottish Sardius (ODM) Michael Howard/Cody Winnell

Illawong Armstrong produced an extraordinary run in last year’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old final for harness racing trotting colts and geldings. Twelve months have passed since the son of Dream Vacation/Figment blew the start and was tailed off in the Vicbred final before making enormous ground late to finish third, and trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan has the gelding absolutely flying. Illawong Armstrong, a member of owner Dr Martin Hartnett’s ‘Illawong squad’, romped home in his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series heat at Maryborough yesterday, defeating runner-up Belts by 23.5m in a mile rate of 2:04.5. And the news only got better for the Illawong team tonight with Armstrong drawing the pole for next Friday night’s Final. He has to be hard to beat from there. In driving rain yesterday Illawong Armstrong looked every bit the professional, Quinlan going easy on the prodigious talent who, but for his poor manners last season, arguably could already boast two Group 1 wins – producing two of the biggest runs you’ll ever see in defeat in the Vicbred and Breeders Crown finals. “He had a good run. His manners were really good,” Quinlan said of his most recent outing. “He got a lovely, easy trip out front and I expect him to do that, he is an above-average horse. “He’s probably the best horse I have put a bridle on. Unfortunately it hasn’t been an ideal preparation because he got really sick, but we have made the most of the time we have had.” Quinlan said Illawong Armstrong’s Maryborough win will have him peaked fitness-wise for next Friday night’s Group 1 final. “He really needed the (heat) run,” she said. “He’s not really a natural leader, and has an exceptional sprint, but if he draws to run at the front then he can do that.” John Meade-trained Sparkling Success won the other Vicbred four-year-old trotting males’ heat, defeating fast-finishing Kyvalley Boomerang by a short half-head. Sparkling Success (Great Success/Diamond Insitu) has drawn right alongside the expected favourite in gate two. Driven by Gavin Lang, Sparkling Success enjoyed the perfect run behind leader Eljaykay Phoenix and got the better of that horse when it galloped halfway up the straight. Kyvalley Boomerang flashed home late, while Save Our Pennys picked up third from last year’s Vicbred two-year-old reigning champion Eljaykay Phoenix.   Draw for Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires/Geldings Final 1: Illawong Armstrong 2: Sparkling Success 3: Wake Up Wilbur 4: Eljaykay Phoenix 5: Akotiri 6: Save Our Pennys 7: Kyvalley Boomerang 8: Well Deserved 9: The Third Son 10: Spud 11: Belts 12: Bring The Action (ODM) 13: Fabrication (ODM) EM Cody Winnell

The big names in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings trotters' division have drawn the front row and are en route to a formiddable showdown in next Friday night's harness racing final. At Tabcorp Park Melton on the Super Series semi-final night for pacers, the trotters' barrier draw saw Deltasun claim the pole mark and Illawong Byron draw barrier six, giving a relatively direct route into their next big showdown. Fillies heat winners Yankee Redback (barrier two) and Illawong Shimmer (barrier five) also both drew the first row. Illawong Byron’s standing was only reaffirmed at last Tuesday night's heats at Ballarat when the two-year-old gelding by Muscle Mass out of Illawong Blush dominated and won by 41.6m. Showing gate speed from barrier six, the result was never in doubt for Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. “I am very happy with him,” Quinlan said. “I was a little disappointed that he overraced, but he has always shown above average ability and I couldn’t be happier with him on that score, he is a classy animal.” Quinlan partly attributed Illawong Byron’s overracing to the gelding coming to the end of a very impressive campaign. “He is still quite green. He is a fairly reliable two-year-old trotter, but he probably overraces and in an ideal world he would probably go to the paddock, but he has a few important races to run yet,” she said. The other colts and geldings heat was won by Deltasun (Tennotrump/Deltasu), a $1.04 favourite who took the honours by 14.6m for Ararat trainer Terry Young and Bacchus Marsh driver Gavin Lang. “There’s no doubt the horse to beat is Deltasun and the barrier will be important," Quinlan said. "But (Illawong Byron) is a good, versatile horse and can also run well from behind.” While it could be argued the colts and geldings shapes as a two-horse race, the two-year-old fillies presents as much more open. Ross Sugars’ Illawong Shimmer (Muscle Mass/Shining Sun) was impressive in leading and winning the first heat by 3.4m from Maree and John Caldow’s hope Valsue. But heat two proved more open, particularly once Anton Golino’s $1.60 favourite Sval Queen broke in the running. Yankee Redback, the only horse in hobby trainer Michael Scandolera’s Kilmore stable, took advantage, with driver Michael Bellman drawing her off leader Kyvalley Kyrie’s back to win by 7.7m. “She had a lot of luck. I thought she was about the third or fourth best horse in the race, but the others galloped and she didn’t,” Scandolera said. “She has beautiful manners. She’s just a natural. “When we broke her in she had a lot of fire, and still has a lot of fire. She’s a very intelligent horse and I let her do her own thing.” Scandolera said if things fell Yankee Redback’s way in the final she could take advantage. “She goes away very quick and very safely, and if she leads she can make her own race, but if she doesn’t and has to go back she can still go all right.”   Barrier draws: Two-year-old colts and geldings 1: Deltasun 2: Prosthesis 3: Bootleg Bert 4: Kheiron 5: Me Pat Malone (emg) 6: Illawong Byron 7: Endsin A Party 8: Needabacardi 9: Aldebaran Pirate 10: Carnera 11: Just Oscar 12: Red Rustler (ODM)   Two-year-old fillies 1: White House Sweet 2: Yankee Redback 3: Ten Spanners 4: Watts Up Rainbow 5: Illawong Shimmer 6: Star In Sight 7: Downtown Miss 8: Kyvalley Kyrie 9: Derrie Aire 10: Midnightpinevale (ODM) 11: Myrniong Rainbow (ODM) 12: Betty Hall (ODM) 13: Valsue (ODM)

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring an up and coming open class talent, a real star in the making and a horse that has many people excited. Name: Hectorjayjay Stable Name: Hector Age: 5yo gelding Owner: Matt McLellan, Earl Sakareassen, Mick Harvey, Jane Hughes, Luke & Paul Stokie, Gareth Hall Trainer: David Aiken Driver: Gavin Lang Prizemoney: $355,832 Biggest win: 4 & 5yo Championship, Mildura Cup, 4yo Breeders Crown, Warragul Cup Target: Gr.2 $50,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 9) & the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake (July 16) Trainer says: “A recent addition to the stables but a pacer with enormous talent and abundant speed. While a great foundation has already been laid, we’re still sorting him and getting to know him but we’re very happy with the job he’s done for us so far and the best is yet to come. The Queensland carnival provides a perfect springboard into the elite races and the Inter Dominion later this year is the long range target so we’ll learn a lot more about him in Brisbane.” Barsby says: “A pacer with unbelievable ability and speed that can torch his rivals in an instant. He’s destined for the very top and it’s just a matter of when, not if, so the Queensland carnival will see him pitted against some proven Grand Circuit like opposition and he will thrive on the hard style racing that Brisbane is renowned for in the coming weeks. Over the years, the Queensland winter carnival has nurtured some great pacers and Hector is about to join that famous list.”

Gavin Lang’s got some tough but welcome decisions to make and Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin are going to have their hands full for all the right reasons. Another standout night for the Smythes Creek stable in the last of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series pacing heats has given them as many as 20 nominees in the June 24 semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. “Emma and Clayton’s team is going exceptionally well,” said Lang, who drove four winners on Friday night, three of which were for Stewart's stable. “They are going to have a busy night (at semi-finals)." Their nominees include three two-year-old fillies (Our Celebrity, Perfect Sense and Seaside Beauty) and four two-year-old colts and geldings (Classic Maker, Form Analyst, Our Little General and Solid As A Rock). Add in four three-year-old fillies (Celebrity Guest, Platinum Power, Rocknroll Magic and Whirily School) and two three-year-old colts and geldings (Glacier Heights and Mercurian). And then Friday night, five four-year-old mares (Brighty Valentine, Lovelist, Delight Me, Stay and Play and Starburst Girl) and three four-year-old entires and geldings (Solarsonic, Ideal For Real and Fundamentalist) qualified. And it’s not just quantity but quality, having won seven heats, including three in a row at Shepparton on Saturday night, all in the hands of reinsman Lang. “They don’t come to the trots a lot Clayton and Emma because generally the horses have left for the races before they have finished with the rest of the team," Lang said. "They are very devoted. I take my hat off to them.” As for Lang and whose reins he will hold next Friday? “There’s a few days to transpire between now and (the semi-finals) and, as you know with horses, anything can happen.” Among the other trainers who appear like they will much on the line when semi-final night arrives are David Aiken (seven nominees), Gary Quinlan (six), Marg Lee (five) and Michael Stanley (five). Official nominations are still to be finalised. Plenty of other stables will be represented with genuine hopes, including in the entires and geldings, where at Shepparton the four heats were won by four different trainers. The first went the way of Lee Evison’s Longwarry stable, when in Lang's hands Mister Wickham (Julius Caesar/Bronte Jones) led and put a gap on the field, including Alan Tubbs’ short-priced favourite Tee Cee Bee Macray. Greg Sugars drove Tee Cee Bee Macray to the line but was unable to run down Mister Wickham, who won by 2.7m in a 1:56.6 mile rate. “Lee does (a fantastic job),” Lang said post-race. “The four-year-old section, they are our preeminent grand circuit horses going forward. The grade is a pretty tough level.” Runners of class featured in the second entires and gelding heat, when Ideal For Real (American Ideal/Tamara Hall) ran down Menin Gate (Somebeachsomewhere/Dreams Of Heaven) to win for Stewart and Lang in a 1:58.0 mile rate. Jodi Quinlan drove Lucky Lombo to victory in the third entires and geldings heat for a rapt group of owners. Stopping the clock in a 1:56.4 mile rate, the quickest of the night’s heats, Lucky Lombo (Major In Art/Isabella Lombo) benefitted from the leaders' early pace to swoop and win for trainer Graham McDermott. “As soon as he hit the track tonight he really travelled well and felt a different horse and he went as good as he can,” Quinlan said. “Graham does a super job with his team, he really looks after them well. He is a really good fella to drive for.” Joining them in the winners’ circle was Soynwasabi, who won the final heat for trainer Clayton Harmey and driver Chris Alford. The gelding, by Village Jasper out of Riverside Oakes, shot from the gate and led all the way to win in a 1:58.2 mile rate. While plenty of names featured among the winners of the entires and geldings, the mares was largely the Stewart show. In Lang’s hands, Lovelist (Always A Virgin\Lifeline) won the second heat in a 1:59.6 mile rate after finding the lead in the middle stages and winning by 3m, and then Delight Me (Bettors Delight/Cornsilk) won the third heat in a 1:57.4 mile, having pipped stablemate Stay And Play by 3m. But the Stewart sweep didn’t occur, with $1.40 favourite Starburst Girl finishing fourth, 3.5m behind winner Vapar Grin. Trained by Ashleigh Herbertson and driven by Josh Duggan, Vapar Grin (Grinfromeartoear/Armbro Affair) won in a 1:57.9 mile. “She’s had a few little problems this time in, but Ashleigh has done a great job with her,” Duggan said. “I haven’t been driving her that long, but the time I have been driving her she has been going good and I can’t thank Ash and the owners enough.” The other mares heat was won by $4.40 chance Snip Of Grand, who beat Stewart’s favourite Brighty Valentine by a half-neck to the delight of trainer Alex Douglas and driver Adrian Douglas. The mare by Art Colony out of Current Raider won in a 1:56.8 mile. “It’s good to get one up every once in a while,” Adrian Douglas said. “We’ve always liked her, always thought a bit of her, we will just keep doing our best and see how we go.” Three other races featured on Shepparton’s 11-race card, with Littlebadgirl winning the Neatline Homes Pace, Art Of Locksley the Shepparton Club Pace and Annies Life the Trotters Handicap. While the pacers look towards the June 24 semi-finals, the trotters take their turn in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series limelight from Tuesday night, when the two-year-olds will race at Ballarat. The three-year-olds then step out at Bendigo on Wednesday night, and then on Thursday it’s the four-year-olds turn at Maryborough. Michael Howard

Harness Racing Driver Josh Aiken is looking forward to driving Hectorjayjay in Saturday night’s Italian Cup (2240m) at Melton.   The five-year-old gelding is trained by Aiken’s father, David, but regular reinsman Gavin Lang won’t be in the sulky due to driving commitments at Menangle.    Hectorjayjay continues to grow from strength to strength and Aiken has enjoyed watching the gelding add strength to go along with his sheer point-to-point speed.   “It’s exciting to have a horse like him here; we always knew he was an extremely quick horse, everyone knew that, but watching him develop has also been a thrill,” Aiken told Harness Racing New Zealand.   “This week is another challenge because I’ve got great respect for the pole horse (Major Secret) but Hector showed in the 4YO and 5YO Championship that he can do some work as well.   “Whether he could race tough off a strong tempo and still sprint as quick I’m not sure but he’s certainly developed a lot not only with us but just from his years of racing before he came here.”   Bookmakers expect Hectorjayjay to account for his seven rivals in the Italian Cup. He has been installed at the short quote of $1.25 with the Emma Stewart-trained five-year-old entire Major Secret the only other runner in single figures at $4.20.   READ: Italian Cup preview   Hectorjayjay has won five of his past six starts with his only defeat coming when held up for a run in an M2-M4 contest. He followed that up by leading in 1:56.0 in the Bold David Free For All (2240m) and then sitting parked in 1:55.1 over course and distance in the Group 2 4YO & 5YO Championship.   Major Secret has won both starts since returning from injury and he will look to make the most of barrier one with Chris Alford picking up the drive. Lang normally drives the entire also and it could have given punters a lead had he been driving at the meeting.   Aiken returns to driving after serving suspension for inconveniencing Ideal Majority in the Young Pedro Free For All (1720m) at Melton on June 3 when driving Cold Major. With Aiken choosing Hectorjayjay, David Moran has picked up the drive on Cold Major who will follow out Major Secret in the event.   Reprinted with premission from  www.racingbase.com

Champion reinsman Gavin Lang had armchair drives in front on Heavens Trend and Lettucefirestar to win both heats of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge at Wagga on Friday.  Lang had no cause for concern on either three-year-old as both moved through to the semi finals with the high probability both will be in the rich finals at the end of June. Lettucefirestar speared out from barrier six to find the lead after 200 metres as he maintained his unbeaten record in five starts for trainer Wayne Potter. “I was very confident of winning on what he has been doing back home,” Potter said. “He has a huge amount of speed and I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes against the better three-year-olds.” Lettucefirestar is raced by a syndicate from Wagga who are enjoying a wonderful run with the son of Courage Under Fire who was bred by Redbank Lodge Standardbreds.  Potter said he made some gear adjustments to Lettucefiretstar when he arrived at his Avenel stables and he was excited by what could lay ahead. Lang was impressed with both and said it made a big difference having gate speed to find the front. “I have had a few drives at Wagga over the years and gate speed is a big asset,” he said. “Lettucefirestar went really well and looks to have a nice future.” Lettucefirestar clocked a mile rate of 1.56.7 which was 0.1 seconds outside of the track record held by Modern Era.  There is little doubt Lettucefirestar could have broken the record had Lang wanted to. Heavens Trend’s time of 1.57.7 seconds could have also been much faster as the top class filly raced into the semi finals. Lang was at Wagga last year when Heavens Trend won the Breeders Challenge heat as a two-year-old before going onto claim the semi final and final.  It could be a similar story this time as Heavens Trend continues to dominate her age group. “I have driven her most of the time, but was only filling in on Lettucefirestar,” Lang said. “She does everything you ask of her.” Heavens Trend accounted for the gallant Sport Report by almost ten metres with Boundtobemad running on well for third.  The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has won 11 of her 16 starts and earned in excess of $200,000. Meanwhile, reinsman Corey Bell and trainer Shaun Snudden recorded a significant victory with East Emperor.  The meeting was the last for Snudden and Bell in the Riverina as they follow new career paths.  Bell will relocate to Victoria to continue driving, while Snudden will close his stables at Narrandera and  commence working with Harness Racing NSW as a handicapper in a couple of weeks. Snudden said after six successful years it was time to move on. “I will still be in the industry, but in a different capacity,” he said. The win by East Emperor was the 150th together for the pair. “I have won ten races on East Emperor so to win this last one with Shaun means a lot,” Bell said.  GRAEME WHITE

Reining Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark’s trainer David Aiken has confirmed this week he will defend his title when the Inter Dominion Carnival returns later this year. Having won the Victoria and Bendigo Cup’s since his emphatic Perth Inter dominion win, the Four Starzzz Shark entire is aimed at the Len Smith Mile (G1) at Menangle after competing in the Golden Mile (G3) one week earlier. His travel-buddy on the trip to Western Australia will be Hectorjayjay. With the Mildura Cup (G2) and the 4 & 5yo Championship (G2) in his trophy cabinet in his last 4 starts - the Dream Away gelding will contest the Sunshine Sprint (G2) and the Blacks A Fake (G2) in Queensland. Hectorjayjay “I knew he was good when he came to our stables, but I didn’t realise just how good” Trainer David Aiken said after his impressive Melton win on Saturday night. Aiken is hoping the trip to Queensland will give Hectorjayjay much needed travel experience before attempting one of Harness Racing’s tough tasks - the Inter Dominion. Scott Hamilton

The plans of a three-year-old filly from Terang to tip out one of Australasia’s finest were given a boost when she drew gate two for Saturday night's $150,000 Nevele R  Victoria Oaks final.Matthew Craven’s pacer Im Wrongly Accused entered the Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks conversation with a dash down the sprint lane at Tabcorp Park Melton in Friday night’s heats, which secured the three-year-old a place in harness racing's Nevele R  Group 1 Oaks The performance has Im Wrongly Accused shaping as a threat to Mark Purdon’s all-conquering New Zealand All Stars stable, which already has the Victoria Derby in its keeping and is looking to add the Oaks via short-priced favourite A Piccadilly Princess. Purdon’s filly won the third and final heat, following on from Heavens Trend – out of Emma Stewart’s Smythes Creek stable – who won an enthralling duel with Dancingwithsierra in the first heat, while the second heat was snaffled by Im Wrongly Accused. RELIVE ALL THE RESULTS AND RACE REPLAYS The draw did few favours for Purdon, whose filly was slated for barrier 13. Heavens Trend drew barrier three and Gary Hoban's fancied runner Dancingwithsierra barrier 12. It all bodes for a ripping race on Saturday night, when Craven's pacer will hope to emulate last week's heat, when she got the perfect sit behind favourite Celebrity Guest - who has drawn barrier one - and surprised even her own trainer-driver with how sharply she finished off. “She has improved, but is still a little bit from being fit,” Craven said. “The scratching (All In Your Hands) helped and we were able to just put her out behind the favourite.” Driver Gavin Lang drove Celebrity Guest to a 47.7 lead time, 2.3 seconds slower than the other two heats, and eased through comfortable first (31.9s) and second (30.3) quarters before they started to stretch out to get home in 55 seconds. Once the sprint lane opened Craven eased off Celebrity Guest’s back and Im Wrongly Accused did the rest. “She probably finished off better than I thought she might have been able to. I was really pleased with the run,” he said. “She had a good run and got the chance to use her really nice speed. They went slow early and it was just ideal for her.” Craven said Im Wrongly Accused would have to continue her upward trend if she was to be in the finish. “She’s had to take a step up in the heats and will have to take a step up again for the final,” he said. Michael Howard  

A pair of Queensland harness racing rookies will venture to Melbourne this week chasing gold. Following their one/two result in the Australian Pacing Gold qualifier staged at Albion Park last Tuesday, both Three Of The Best and Maestro Bellini are due to fly south to contest the semi-finals this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. In the Brisbane qualifier, Three Of The Best overpowered Maestro Bellini in the latter stages in a slick time of 1:55.0 while covering the final half in 56.6 seconds. Three Of The Best is prepared by husband and wife combination of Scott Miller​ and ,Shannon Price no strangers to success in the garden state while Maestro Bellini belongs to the Chris Petroff stable. “We’re booked on a flight on Wednesday night at this stage and that will give us a few days to settle in before racing on Saturday night. We were always keen to go and after speaking with Chris, it made sense to book the flights and travel together.” Miller said. Three Of The Best, a $45,000 purchase from the Sydney sale last year was a beaten favourite on debut when 7th behind his stablemate Statement Made after making an early error before making amends last week. Handled by Adam Sanderson, Three Of The Best sat parked outside Maestro Bellini before outstaying him over the concluding stages that was having his first start back in Brisbane following his Bathurst Gold Crown campaign. The Mach Three – Snug Harbor (by Bettors Delight) gelding has thrived following his triumph and connections are optimistic about their chances. “We’re in with a chance and the fact we’re heading south and prepared to take on this series proves we think we have a show of getting some of the good prizemoney on offer. We’ve always rated this horse from the start and he continues to improve, anything can happen in juvenile racing. “It appears to be a fairly open series with the Victorian trained performers looking the most likely with the likes of Emma Stewart and Geoff Webster both having impressive types while it’s rare for Mark Purdon to not have one of the top ranking colts. “Our guy is going to be based with Alan Tubbs and as long as he handles everything, I think we’re in with a good chance. When you break down his winning effort last week, it was very impressive and he’s trained on a treat since.” Champion reinsman Gavin Lang has been booked to drive during the Melbourne campaign. The $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final is scheduled for April 22 Chris Barsby. 

Saturday  night's Mildura Cup winner Hectorjayjay will not be aimed at the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday June 26. Trainer  David Aiken believes it is in the five-year-old gelding's best interest to be kept away from stablemate Lennytheshark this season but expects Hectorjayjay to progress to Harnesss Racings Grand Circuit level next season. The son of Dream Away has won both of his starts since joining the Aiken stable and was dominant in his most recent victory. "Hectorjayjay is a very talented horse and I don't really want to overtax him at this stage of his career so I'm going to look at the 4YO & 5YO Championship at Melton next month before getting him ready for a trip to Perth for the Inter Dominion," Aiken said. "I didn't ask too much of Lennytheshark during his five-year-old season and I think it really helps them develop into better horses at six. I'm pretty keen to keep Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark apart for the time being as well." Hectorjayjay has been driven by Gavin Lang in both of his starts for the Aiken stable. "I think Gavin is going to help make the horse, his patience will teach the horse how to race against the best ones. "He is an exciting prospect and what I was most happy about after Saturday was that Gavin said he handled the tighter track very well and that is important if he does make it to Gloucester Park for the Inter Dominion." Aiken confirmed Lennytheshark is on target to compete in the Len Smith Mile and has been back working in the water-walker. "He's been back at the water-walker for a fortnight so he'll return in pretty good condition. Ideally I'd like him to have two or three runs under his belt before going towards the Len Smith Mile." With ten boxes at the Menangle Training Centre, Aiken is keen to make a success of his new satellite stable but has no plans to relocate back to Sydney in the short-term. "Obviously there are family ties in Sydney, my mother lives over on the Northern Beaches and I've got two sisters over that way as well but at the moment I'm happy with the set-up. I'm still working through how I'm going to staff everything but the beauty of these ten boxes in Sydney is that if there is a race at Menangle that suits I can transport horses between Victoria and NSW. "Before getting the Menangle boxes I would have to speak with a Sydney trainer to see if they had room for me and it is a bit of an ask to be trying to get four or five stables off them. Plus if I want to make that group of four or five into a group of six I can." Aiken has already earmarked a Sydney trip for recent recruit Macha. The gelding was placed second in the WA Derby behind Alta Christiano in 2013 and is set to resume for his new stable. "Macha will be best suited at Menangle and he'll be doing a fair bit of racing in Sydney." Greg Hayes                    

Hectorjayjay gave his connections some carnival delight, saluting in the Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup.The Group 2 harness racing  victory, which captured the bulk of the $60,325 for David Aiken’s newly acquired five-year-old, was born out of an ice cool drive from Gavin Lang to win from local hope Murranji Track, who reaffirmed his status as a four-year-old on the rise. Hectorjayjay’s second victory at Group level was also one of five victories on the night for champion reinsman Lang. VIDEO REPLAY: WATCH HECTORJAYJAY WIN AND ETCH HIS NAME ON THE COVETED CUP The night’s feature largely went to plan. As the Good Form speed map predicted, Anthony Butt shot Stunning Grin to the front and Vince Vallelonga’s five-year-old ran less keenly than Tuesday’s record-breaking heat, controlling the race with a 74.7s lead time, 2.7s slower than in heat one. Murranji Track slotted on his tail from the box seat and held that place through the final bend, with Kerryn Manning driving Ideal Success to the breeze, trailed off the pegs by Itz Dreamin Jonesy and $1.70 favourite Hectorjayjay, who Lang eased into cover from barrier five. There they would remain until the 600m mark when Ideal Success couldn’t match Stunning Grin’s pace from the breeze, slipping back and prompting Lang to peel three-wide and take Hectorjayjay to the front. Amid a 27.9 third quarter, Hectorjayjay passed Stunning Grin on the outside around the bend and was unchallenged in a 28.6 final quarter, with pegs runners Murranji Track and Manuka Man coming off Stunning Grin’s back to run into second and third respectively. The 1:57.7 mile rate was just 0.2 outside the track record Stunning Grin set four days prior. Hectorjayjay, a five-year-old gelding by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse, now has career stakes of more than $250,000, with a 45 per cent winning strike rate from his 53 starts. The victory headlined an engaging night’s racing that brought to an end an enthralling Mildura Cups carnival and country cups circuit. Earlier in the night, Young Modern met expectations to give Lang the second of five winning drivers of the night in the Group 3 Mark Gurry & Associates Cup. After a luckless third in the heat, Young Modern carried punters favour in the final, starting at $1.70 and running accordingly with a 7m win for trainer Michael Stanley. Having been worked into the breeze from barrier 11 early in the running, despite a hefty workload Young Modern found separation on Matt Craven’s second-placed Emmanuel in the straight. The $20,048 pay day was the biggest of the five-year-old’s career since it saluted in the VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic as a three-year-old roughie in December 2013. Saturday night also featured the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas and again the punters got it right with $1.50 chance Hickstead, which Good Form’s Jason Bonnington declared a moral in the lead-up, winning by 2.6 for trainer-driver John Justice. There was plenty of pace on early in the 2190m mobile, with Justice taking Hickstead to the lead at the mile mark and then cooling his jets over 31.3 and 30.2 first and second quarters. Justice made a break in the third quarter and while Mister Magic Man battled on gamely to run into third, it was Here He Comes that challenged, looming as Hickstead tired but ultimately having to settle for second, beaten 2.3. Michael Howard 

Hectorjayjay has pulled up a peach and is ready for a repeat dose of harness racing success at Mildura racecourse. A dominant winner of the second Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup heat while on debut for trainer David Aiken, Hectorjayjay will start favourite in Saturday night’s final despite drawing outside Stunning Grin and Ideal Success on the front row. “There were a few good runners in the other heat, so it is going to be a good race,” Aiken told RSN’s Inside Word. “I think my horse will start favourite, but there are a lot of other good horses in the race.” VIDEO: JASON BONNINGTON TAKES A LOOK AT THE MILDURA CUP NIGHT QUADDIE Outside of Hectorjayjay, none are likely to start shorter than Stunning Grin, winner of Tuesday’s first heat after a scorching start that saw Vince Vallelonga’s five-year-old stop the clock at a 1:57.5 mile rate, a track record over 2600m. In the wake of the race Vallelonga told Trots Media he had the Mildura cup in mind for Stunning Grin for some time, and while he “was not super confident we can beat Hectorjayjay”, he “can make it tough for” Aiken’s favourite. Aiken said Hectorjayjay had recovered well from his heat after a light couple of days and benefitting from driver Gavin Lang’s light hands. “Gav (Lang) looked after him good (in the heat), he is renowned for getting horses through heats and finals,” Aiken said. “I think they went two seconds slower than the first (heat), hopefully that is to our advantage.” A Group 2 Mildura cup, with its $60,325 total purse, would be a significant early return for the Aiken stable, which has only recently taken training duties of the five-year-old by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse. “Those sort of horses are hard to come by,” Aiken said. “He has had a good career, Simone (Walker) did a great job with him and I hope I can just keep him at that level and have a bit more fun with him. “We are just learning a little about the horse now. We haven’t really got a plan after Mildura, so we just have to see how he recovers from the two runs in the week. Throughout his career he’s always been competitive against the really good ones. It’s a very good acquisition for the stable.” The Aiken stable also has Cold Major in tomorrow night’s final, a family favourite who will again be driven by David’s son Josh. “He’s drawn bad, but ... when they go hard he can compete with the better ones when things go his way,” Aiken said. “He’s got through the heat good too, so hopefully he will be good on Saturday night.” The pacing cup starts at 8.30pm and comes amid a 10-race card, which also includes the Mark Gurry and Associates Cup and the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Mildura, Saturday 09 April 2016 Form guide for Mildura, Saturday 09 April 2016

Warragul born harness racing reinsman Gavin Lang broke a 27-year drought when he won the $30,325 Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup on Easter Sunday. In front of the biggest trots crowd seen at Logan Park for almost a decade, Lang collected his third Warragul Cup, steering Nike Bromac to a memorable victory for Lara trainer Dean Braun. Lang previously won the Warragul Cup with Copper Leopard for local trainer Noel Alexander in 1982, while he also trained and drove top mare Our Navy Lady to win the first daytime Cup run in 1989. In typical fashion, Lang drove a cool race, guiding Nike Franco between horses in the final circuit, and gaining the verdict narrowly with a well timed run down the outside of the track. He didn't panic when hemmed up between horses with a lap to go, knowing full well his horses ability would see it through despite having to come from behind on the small track. "There is a place still for these (smaller) tracks, and there's no doubt they promote competitive racing," Lang said. While having been born in Warragul, Lang has been based at Melton for over 40 years, but still competes at most Warragul meetings, and drove his five thousandth winner on the track in 2012, so the venue hold special memories for him. "Being a Warragul boy, born and bred, I'm always happy to come home here and win a race of this ilk," Lang said. Nike Franco had won over $300,000 in stakes before Sunday's Cup victory, at only her thirtieth race start. A large group of owners share in the horse, which has also won two Oaks classics in Queensland, along with feature mares' events in Melbourne and Sydney. Nike Franco appreciated a drop in grade after finishing at the rear of the field in the Kilmore Pacing Cup a week earlier. The other feature of the afternoon was the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which attracted a strong field and was won by Illawong Helios for trainer Ross Sugars and his driver son Greg. Illawong Helios is another lightly raced horse which should continue to win good races, having collected 16 wins from only 27 starts. The win of Illawong Helios bought up three winners for the afternoon for owners Martin and Kaye Hartnett - the first time the owners had collected a treble at a race meeting. Unfortunately the Hartnett's missed their successful day owing to a family function. Top horsewoman Jodi Quinlan trained two of the Hartnett's winners, and her further success with Christian Major in the Warragul Guineas saw her collect a $1000 bonus for driving three winners on the program. Christian Major flashed home at the finish to deny local pacer Courageous Call a win in the event. Melton horseman Lance Justice produced a nice looking horse in Crockets Cullen to win the last race - Justice confidently predicting the New Zealand bred horse will win good quality races after he easily defeated his rivals. Good weather conditions drew a big crowd to the Warragul Pacing Bowl, with the car park and dining areas at capacity 40 minutes before the first race. A variety of activities kept patrons entertained throughout the day. Visitors to the course praised Warragul Harness Racing Club Manager Mark Johnson and his staff and committee for the amount of work put in to run the successful event. New Harness Racing Victoria Chairman, Dale Monteith, was also in attendance at his first race meeting since being elected to the post the previous Tuesday. Kyle Galley  

In terms of famous harness racing victories, Yankee Rockstar's $70,575 Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup triumph last night will go down as one of the most memorable. For starters, the race was changed from a traditional standing start event to a mobile start race this year, and was shortened from two miles to 2690m. As a result of the changes a first class field was assembled, headlined by two-time Inter Dominion star Beautide. And as for the race itself, it exceeded all expectations as a contest with trainer Emma Stewart and driver Gavin Lang combining for the win with Yankee Rockstar. The Stewart-trained entire overhauled a brave Ohoka Punter late in the Group 2 feature with Beautide winding up in third place. Many on social media were suggesting the race was one of the best of the season so far with Glenferrie Hood making the early play, holding the front from the pole. Ohoka Punter (Anthony Butt) lobbed the breeze and Jimmy Rattray took Beautide up three-wide. Butt made his intentions clear, the chair wasn’t up for grabs, Rattray having to snag aboard Beautide before squeezing into the one-one. But shortly after grabbing some cover, Beautide was punching the breeze again as Butt pushed to the lead aboard Ohoka Punter, giving Glenferrie Hood the box seat. Registering a lead time of 77.8secs, Ohoka Punter ran along in front before a 62.6secs first half. The Shepparton Cup winning Ohoka Punter, who also recently finished second to Smolda in the Hunter Cup, got down the back in 28.9secs. Beautide, who covered ground the entire trip, was put under some pressure off the back, the early work starting to take a toll. Ohoka Punter slipped away and looked home and hosed at the top of the straight, but even if you were betting in the run you wouldn’t have put the house on at this point because he too had spent significant petrol early. Yankee Rockstar was the fresh horse on the scene, Lang guiding him into clear air out wide before the five-year-old entire by Rocknroll Hanover out of Aston Villa hit top gear. The last 400m was covered in 29.1seccs and Yankee Rockstar had a half-neck on Ohoka Punter at the finish with Beautide 4.4m off the winner in third, 1.1m ahead of Jadahson in fourth with Messini close-up in fifth. Yankee Rockstar has now won over $208,000 in stakes this season so far, with a record of 12 starts for eight wins and three placings. Stewart and Lang both ended up with four winners on the Kilmore Cup program, Stewart also successful with exciting three-year-old filly Heavens Trend (Rock N Roll Heaven/Trend Setter) winning the Kelly Sports 3YO Pace in 2:00.2 over 2180m, talented four-year-old mare Lovelist (Always A Virgin/Lifeline) in 1:55.1 over 1690m in the Doug’s Bakery Pace and impressive two-year-old debutant filly Our Celebrity (Mach Three/Celebrity Ball) in the J & A Mazzetti Sapling Stakes over 1690m in 1:57.8. Lang drove Heavens Trend, Lovelist, Yankee Rockstar and Mick Blackmore-trained Claudys Princess to victory in the McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup over 3150m from the standing start, the five-year-old Bacardi Lindy/All Finesse mare rating 2:06.8 to score a half-head win over Michael Thomas in second, with Sun Of Anarchy in third. Other winners on the night were four-year-old mare Keayang Ebonyrose (Village Jolt/Secret Twirl) in the Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship 14th Heat over 1690m in 1:56.5 for trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee, five-year-old gelding Fiery Blue Chip (by Santanna Blue Chip out of Scarlet Fire) for trainer Sonya Smith and driver Anthony Butt in the Peninsula Meats Eureka Series 2nd Heat over 2180m in 2:00.6, Glory Daze for David Aiken and Josh Aiken in the Hanson Cleaning Vicbred Pace, the four-year-old mare by Bettors Delight out of Dazed And Confused rating 2:00.9 over 2180m with an all-the-way success from the pole, The Sparrow Hawk for Brent Lilley and Butt in the Momentum Gaming Pace over 2180m, the handy three-year-old gelding by Gotta Go Cullen out of Starling rating 2:01.6, and Est Est Est for Neville and Clinton Welsh in the F&M Supplies Vicbred Platinum Country Series M 2nd Heat over 2180m, the four-year-old Majestic Son/Enotheque trotting mare rating 2:07.1. The action continues today with the running of the Boort Cup meeting. Cody Winnell

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