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Filly Illawong Helios upstaged the two punters’ favourites Claudys Princess and Our Twentyten to take out the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough on Sunday. In front of a big crowd, Greg Sugars gave Illawong Helios, who is trained by Greg's father Ross Sugars, the perfect run in transit in the Group 1 race before overpowering star filly Claudys Princess and colt Our Twentyten in the home straight. It was a Derby for the ages, with pressure up front right from the start of the 2690m event. Claudys Princess (Gavin Lang) dashed to the lead at the bell before Chris Alford attacked aboard Our Twentyten down the back straight. All the while Sugars was biding his time with Illawong Helios and when they swung into the straight he popped out three-wide to stake his claim. The trio battled it out up the lane with Illawong Helios eventually prevailing victorious, the daughter of Majestic Son scoring by 1.7m over Claudys Princess, with Our Twentyten third another metre away. Asdenro’s run was valiant, the early leader battling on well despite the strong tempo throughout to finish fourth. One Over Da Moon over-raced early and weakened out to finish well back, while Imamenace had no luck whatsoever early and finished second-last. The mile rate for the Derby was 2:01.6. Illawong Helios By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

The Redwood Carnival rolls into Maryborough this weekend for three days of top-notch trotting action. It all begins on Friday with an eight-race program kicking off at 12.45pm before racing continues on Saturday and Sunday. The on-track highlights will come on Sunday with the running of the time-honoured Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic for two-year-olds and the Group 1 Victoria Trotters Derby for three-year-olds. Music lovers are well catered for throughout the carnival, with Australian country music legend James Blundell and rising star Courtney Conway entertaining patrons on Saturday night and Conway backing up with a performance on Sunday after the last race. Friday night will see the annual Redwood Dinner Dance from 6.30pm featuring more live music, with overnight camping available for patrons from $10. Racegoers can also secure a camping spot on the Saturday night, following Saturday’s six-race trots program. Friday will see a Last Five Winners Jackpot of $500 up for grabs, with other prizes and giveaways for patrons throughout the day. The first race on Saturday will be at 11am, with a courtesy bus to and from the Maryborough post office. On Sunday a mammoth 10-race program will be run and won with the Group 1 Redwood Classic featuring some of the best up-and-coming two-year-old trotters from Australia and New Zealand. The Derby meanwhile has also attracted a bumper field, with in-form filly Claudys Princess to start from pole for champion reinsman Gavin Lang. Liberal candidate for Ripon Louise Staley said the three-day event was a great way to bring people together and attract them to Maryborough for a number of days. "This event is a fun way to support local jobs, the local econony, local entertainers and the local racing industry," Ms Staley said. "The Victorian Coalition Government's Raceday Attraction Program will provide $17,227 towards the event, with the Maryborough Harness Racing Club contributing $6479 and Harness Racing Victoria contributing $5832. In-kind donations totalling $4850 have also been provided through the club." The Raceday Attraction Program, part of the Coalition Government's Victorian Racing Industry Fund, aims to attract people back to the state's racetracks and target new audiences through partnering with the local community. HRV Media

Champion New South Wales mare Frith added the Harness Breeders (Vic) Jane Ellen to her list of feature race wins at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The six-time Group 1 winner found the lead comfortably from the 2240m start before controlling the race to score by 2.6m over runner-up The Good Times, with Broadways Best rocketing home for third. Frith, a Bruce Harpley-trained daughter of Four Starzzz Shark, has now won 26 from 35 race starts. Frith’s winning mile rate was 1:56.7. She finished with a last half-mile of 55.7 after splits of 29.8, 30.2, 27.6 and 28.1. Emma Stewart’s The Good Times was given a cushy run by Gavin Lang on the back of the favourite before using the sprint lane to run second. Chris Alford steered in-form Broadways Best into third, powering down the outside late to edge out Beauty Secret, which ran fourth, while Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling wound up fifth. Frith already boasts Group 1 victories in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. She will be looking to add a second Breeders Crown success to her resume next month after taking out the three-year-old fillies’ title last year. Frith Father-son combination Ross and Greg Sugars won the first three races on Friday night’s program. Illawong Magic kicked off proceedings with a 3.7m win in the Granny Reilly Performance Mix Vicbred Trot. The seven-year-old gelding found the lead early and never looked like losing, pinching a break approaching the home bend before holding off David Van Ryn pair Paris Pepperell and Enjoy A Coldie in the home straight. The Sugars’ team then combined for success with Bettor Rock On in the first heat of the Tabcorp Park Melton Winter Championship. Punters who took the short odds for the son of Bettors Delight were surely sweating with 50m to go, as Bettor Rock On was taking forever to reel in Tandias Bromac. But the $1.10 shot poked his head in front just in time to win by the narrowest of margins. Bettor Rock On posted sectionals of 29.0, 29.9, 28.5 and 28.4, with his mile rate a slick 1:54.9. Mulgrave then made it three from three for Team Sugars, defeating Gotta Go Henry in the Alabar 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. Mulgrave won by 2.8m in a mile rate of 1:58.3. The in-form David Aiken stable absolutely dominated the Granny Reilly Sole Mate Mix Trot over 2240m, Thanesan defeating stable-mate Vics Cheval by 5.1m. Junior driver Josh Aiken, who drove his first Group 1 winner last weekend, steered the winner, while his father David drove the second horse over the line. Amanda Grieve and Chris Alford combined to win the Granny Reilly Perfect Pacer Pace over 2240m with Magical Telf, who scored a half-neck win over Teo Enteo. Long odds-on favourite Almost El Eagle took out heat two of the Winter Championship for Steve Duffy and John Caldow. Ginger Bliss made it a winning double for Josh Aiken with victory in the Granny Reilly Maintain Mix Pace over 1720m, the talented four-year-old clocking 1:55.3 to beat Exciteusinthecity by 1.2m. Ginger Bliss found the lead early and dictated terms before cranking things up in the last half-mile, with third and fourth splits of 27.7 and 27.9 for a 55.6 last half. Exciteusinthecity ran a bottler of a race for Tim McLean, while Washmepockets poked through for third for Haydon Gray. Our Twentyten showed he is right on song for the Trotters Derby with an 8.9m win in the Redwood Day 20 July 3YO Trot, the Brent Lilley-trained son of Muscles Yankee defeating runner-up One Over Da Moon and third placegetter Daenerys Targaryen. The last race on the card, the Book Now For Breeders Crown 2YO Trotters Handicap, saw Greg Sugars snare win number four for the night and gave Lilley a winning double when My Arya got the chocolates. My Arya was the only filly off 10m in the race, the daughter of Angus Hall stepping sweetly early and trotting perfectly throughout to score by 2.3m over debutant Shared Interest (Nathan Jack), who ran a crackerjack race on debut and will be winning soon, while Sheza Amason was about 20m away in third. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Christian Cullen gelding Upanatom continued working his way through the grades with a 19.3m win at Yarra Valley on Monday. The former New Zealander from the Amanda Grieve yard is undefeated in four starts since arriving Down Under and has won six out of nine overall. Chris Alford piloted the four-year-old in Monday’s victory and, oh boy, didn’t this pacer look a cut above his rivals. (Access Yarra Valley Monday replays here) From gate seven Upanatom charged straight to the lead clearly despite Alford hardly moving a muscle. Recording the fastest lead time of the day from the 2150m start, 38.3secs, Upanatom came home with a 58.6secs last half to score by a huge margin. It was an armchair ride for Alford all the way in fact, as even late in the race he hardly had to call on his charge. The winner’s mile rate was 1:59.1. Five of the eight races at Yarra Valley were won by favourites, with Im Anonymous scoring by a head off a 20m handicap in the Trotters Handicap over 2150m at $3.30, Game We Play winning his second race from four starts at $1.70 in the United Petroleum 3YO Pace, Pushkin getting up by a head at $1.30 for Adam Kelly/Gavin Lang in the De Bortoli Pace over 2150m, and $3.50 elect Our Horizon scoring by 6m in the Yarra Valley Forklifting Claiming Pace for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. Other winners were Ourboyjay for Daryl Douglas, which out-bobbed Glenferrie Bunter by a half-head in the Yarra Ranges Tourism 2YO Pace over 1650m, Onemorelaugh in the Spring Packages Online 3YO Pace, which gave Lang a driving double, and outsider Lets Go Happy for Mark Peace in the Lilydale Instant Lawn Pace over 1650m. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

One stallion stood head and shoulders above the competition last night in the six finals of the harness racing Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Finals. Five of the six winners were sired by sons of Artsplace and to top it off his outstanding son Guaranteed was a brave second in the only age division he didn't win. Artsplace sons have been having an outstanding run in Australia for quite a while  and last nights results just confirmed how dominant the sire line is at the moment in Australia. Modern Art started the ball rolling with his smart 2 year old Feeling Arty who caused an upset in the 2 year old colts and geldings division. It was his  third  win from just nine lifetime starts and was just reward for a colt who has only been out of the money once in those nine starts. Art Major got into the act with his outstanding son Messini giving notice of his potential with a great win in the 3 year old colts and geldings division. It was his third win in three starts this season in Australia and his tenth win lifetime and judging by last nights effort there are a lot more wins to come yet. Modern Art was back on center stage in the 4 year old mares division with Pressplay, driven a treat by Amanda Turnbull, overcoming an early check to storm home center track for an impressive win. It was her fifth win this season and the eight lifetime for the Modern Art mare who was bred and is owned and trained by Rebecca Cartwright. Art Major got back into the picture in the 3 year old fillies division with My Bella Star just hanging on after a great front running drive from Gavin Lang. It was her eight win from just 14 starts this season and she looks like developing into a lovely mare next season. Next up was the 4 year old colts and geldings division and the only final not won by a descendant of Artsplace although the run of Guaranteed for second was every bit as good as that of the winner Lennytheshark with the draw having a major bearing on the contest. The last final for the night was the 2 year old fillies division with Niki No No from the first crop of Sportswriter showing real grit after being wide for a lap to kick away in the straight for a great win. It was her fourth win from just six starts and Niki No No looks a filly of real promise. All in all a great night for Artsplace and his sons and one that we may see a lot more of in the immediate future. Harnesslink media

Harness racing driver Gavin Lang thought he had been pipped at the post by Berisari, but the photo-finish verdict went his way aboard My Bella Starr in tonight’s $110,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old fillies’ final. Lang combined with Riddells Creek trainer Adam Kelly to win the $110,000 feature, giving Lang two Group 1 triumphs in two nights after he guided Claudys Princess home in the three-year-old fillies’ trotting final last night. Everything came up My Bella Starr tonight. Pre-race favourite Mindarie Priddy was a late scratching and top-notch Tasmanian Barynya locked wheels and virtually lost all chance around the first corner. But My Bella Starr still had to show plenty of grit and determination to stick her head out and get the bob in when it mattered most. “She hasn’t had a lot of luck lately but things turned out well tonight,” Lang said. “Obviously it was very unfortunate for the connections of Mindarie Priddy that they had to scratch her tonight, which changed the complexion of the race. “Then we managed to avoid that trouble at the first corner. “This is what keeps us all in the game – hoping to get a horse that is good enough to get the job done.” The winning mile rate was 1:56.9. Quick Draft was third for the in-form David Aiken / Chris Alford combination, while Bettor Downunder ran a good race for fourth. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing driver Amanda Turnbull drove a stack of winners while based in New South Wales but her first Group 1 success has come in her new home state. Turnbull, 24, who is now based at Shepparton, steered Pressplay to victory in the four-year-old mares’ Empire Stallions Super Series final tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton, upstaging more fancied runners Im Smouldering and Courageousnquick. “It’s a fantastic feeling,” a beaming Turnbull said after the race. “It couldn’t have worked out better for me out there.” Pressplay, trained by Rebecca Cartwright,  scored by 4.3m in a mile rate of 1:58.0, Im Smouldering (Gavin Lang) battling on well for second, while Courageousnquick ran third after leading for Kyle Marshall. Pressplay is by Modern Art and is trained in Doreen. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Friday night was a red letter affair for the Aikens. David Aiken, head of the Avenel operation, trained two Group 1 winners on the opening night of the Vicbred Super Series finals carnival at Tabcorp Park, while his son, Josh, drove his first Group 1 winner aboard the stable’s rising star Eljaykay Phoenix. The 21-year-old looked totally undaunted against drivers several years his senior, taking Eljaykay Phoenix to the front early, and not panicking when headed by Jodi Quinlan aboard Illawong Armstrong with a lap to go in the two-year-old male trotters’ final. The pair stayed one-two for the remainder of the race, with Eljaykay Phoenix proving 5.4m too strong in a mile rate of 2:03.8. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn,” the young driver said after the race. “That’s just unreal. I can’t explain how good it feels.” David Aiken then made it two Group 1s for the night with four-year-old Spidergirl capping her domination of the futurity series after previously taking out the two- and three-year-old titles. Chris Alford took Spidergirl to the front early and was never headed, the long odds-on favourite beating second favourite Paris Pepperell by 7.3m, with the rest of the field more than 20m away. Meanwhile, favourite punters were on song for most of the night with seven of the 10 races going their way. Claudys Princess was one of those, the Mick Blackmore-trained three-year-old filly saluting by 2.2m over Illawong Helios in her Super Series final. The win was Claudys Princess’s ninth from 12 starts and Blackmore will now have to seriously consider taking her to the Derby on Redwood Day. “She’ll tell us,” he said when asked about what was next for the daughter of Bacardi Lindy. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang was thrilled with the success. “While there are a lot of people at the top of the tree who deserve the accolades they get, there are a lot of people down the other end who really make our industry what it is,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire.” New South Welsh visitor Vincennes wasn’t the favourite but was well-supported before taking out the four-year-old males’ trotters final. And with six races being beamed live into France for wagering and broadcast last night, there’s a fair chance the French punters took the omen and made him favourite. Trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick delivered a copybook drive aboard Vincennes to defeat punters’ fancy Blitzthemcalder by 2.5m. Blitzthemcalder sat in the breeze mid-race and took the lead on the home turn, but Vincennes had momentum up after securing an economical trip four-back in the running line. Vincennes’ winning mile rate was 2:00.0, coming home in a last half-mile of 58.2secs. Andy Gath’s young trotter Endsino, driven by Kate Gath, started a short-priced favourite and showed she has a bright future by winning the two-year-old fillies’ trotters’ final. Endsino was over 12m too strong for her nearest rival, Shesa Amason, who gave cheek from her pole draw. The other Group 1 victor for the night was long-shot Imamenace for hobby trainer Peter Cormican and reinsman Greg Sugars. Imamenace sat outside race leader Spidergrace before getting the better of the David Moran-trained horse after a stirring battle in the home straight. Despite reinswoman Laura Crossland throwing everything at Spidergrace, Imamenace proved the tougher horse on the night. Alford finished with driving honours on the night, the Spidergirl victory coming after the champion horseman won on Triumphant Monarch in the first race. Amy Tubbs trained-and-driven Brunelleschi won the inaugural Group 3 Noopy Kisok Trotters Free For All, while Sonofanearl won the Aldebaran Park Monte despite a 20m handicap for rider Riina Maattanen. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Claudys Princess is Victoria’s undisputed champion harness racing three-year-old trotting filly after a superb victory tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Mick Blackmore-trained daughter of Bacardi Lindy had to work for it, punching the breeze for the bulk of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old fillies’ final, but she was a cut above her rivals at the finish. Driven a treat as usual by champion driver Gavin Lang, Claudys Princess scored by 2.2m in a mile rate of 2:02.0, with early leader Illawong Helios battling on gamely for second and Four Lillies running a big race for third. Illawong Moonshine galloped at the start but still managed to finish fourth. “I’m very proud of her,” said Blackmore. “She’s done a terrific job. “She showed tonight she can do a bit of work. Tonight was her biggest task.” Lang was thrilled with the win. “While there are a lot of people at the top of the tree who deserve the accolades they get, there are a lot of people down the other end who really make our industry what it is,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire.” Claudys Princess has now won 12 of her 15 starts, giving her owners an exciting ride. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

If the past 18 months is anything to go by, the health of Victoria’s harness racing trotting industry is in thoroughly good order. Superstars like Blitzthemcalder, Im Stately and Spidergirl have all announced themselves as horses which can capture public attention in the blink of an eye. But a larrikin and his favourite little horse could be set to overtake those who have come before them as they shoot for another Group 1 win tonight in the three-year-old fillies’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final. Mick Blackmore and Claudys Princess have made it to finals night with the daughter of Bacardi Lindy yet to taste defeat against her own sex. And off the back of seven straight victories including two at the highest level, her trainer is brimming with confidence. “I’m very happy with her, I reckon she is a little bit stronger since returning from her trip to Sydney,” Blackmore said. “Friday night; when you look at it we don’t have the best barrier but we will just have to leave it up to the master (Gavin Lang, driver) to get the job done again. That’s why they call him Group 1 Gav isn’t it?” Barrier six is made even harder by the fact that early speedster Illawong Moonshine has drawn inside her. And the scorecard is getting narrower for Claudys Princess with her winning margin diminishing from 17 metres to just a half-neck in her last three starts. That won’t stop Blackmore preparing for a post-race ritual that has served him well over time. “I usually stop off at McDonald’s on the way home so I’d say that will be the case again, I know it’s bad for me but I just love the stuff,” he said. “If she wins I’ll buy her anything she likes; I’ll nearly kick the wife out of the house and put Claudys in with me.” by Blake Redden

Victorian harness racing has a new pinup boy. A combination of good looks, versatility, speed and a brilliant name has the trots world raving about David Aiken-trained rising superstar Lennytheshark. He’s taken all before him this season with five wins from five starts and tomorrow night will be shooting for a seventh straight win overall when he takes on the best four-year-olds Victoria has to offer at Tabcorp Park Melton. Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series grand final night has become all about Lenny. The Shark has simply devoured his opposition of late – his combined winning margin from his five wins this season stands at a whopping 58.7 metres. “He’s one of the nicest horses I’ve trained … he’s got a great attitude and really I don’t think I’ve got him 100 per cent fit yet,” Aiken said. “He’s so easy on himself at home. I think there will be loads more improvement when he starts racing against the better ones. “Once you reach Grand Circuit level, you’re up against the big boys. There’s always sustained pressure throughout in those races but I’m confident Lennytheshark will relish that and really improve seeing he’s shown he’s a tough horse. He’s got all the attributes.” While you would happily own a share in any of the 12 starters in tomorrow night’s four-year-old entires’ and geldings’ Vicbred final, most agree Lennytheshark and second-favourite Guaranteed should be fighting out the finish. Both won their semi-finals in dazzling fashion last Friday night, Lennytheshark rating 1:58.5 in his 13.7m win and Guaranteed going 1:58.2 in his 9.9m triumph. Guaranteed has had two runs back  from a spell and ran third  beaten 10.5m behind Lennytheshark in the Vicbred heat two runs back. But the son of Artsplace should be at the top of his game tomorrow night and if Lenny doesn’t bring his A-game, Guaranteed looks the beneficiary. That said, Guaranteed won the Group 1 Chariots of Fire in awesome fashion earlier this year, rating 1:50.4 at Menangle to beat Ginger Bliss and Majestic Mach and has been victorious at 20 of his 29 starts, so it’s probably hardly fair to assume he can’t beat any four-year-old on his merits. “I would have loved to take Lennytheshark to the Chariots, but the way Guaranteed won that race, you can’t take anything away from him,” Aiken said. Adding to the theatre of tomorrow night’s showdown is that two legends will be in the cart behind the two favourites. Gavin Lang will steer Guaranteed, while Chris Alford will pilot Lennytheshark. Alford and Lang boast almost 11,000 wins between them and have been the dominant drivers in Victorian harness racing since the 1980s. Meanwhile, one can never rule out the emergence of a dark horse when all the talk is skewed elsewhere. In the four-year-olds’ final, Ginger Bliss looks to be that runner. Ginger Bliss finished second to Guaranteed in the Chariots of Fire earlier this year and beat that horse to the line two starts back in the Vicbred heat when he finished 1.9m behind Lennytheshark. But drawing inside the back row tomorrow night could make things tricky for Ginger Bliss, whose major weapon is an abundance of gate speed. One thing’s for certain. This is going to be one heck of a race. by Cody Winnell

CLASS comes to the surface when it comes to Group One harness racing. And star Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang added to his tally of more than 100 Group One successes when he scored one of his easiest big-race wins when Whereibylong took out Sunday’s Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Three-Year-Old Fillies’ Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “I do have a bit of success here and patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to races like this,” Lang said. “But to be honest, Humphrey B Bear could win on some of the horses I have been driving – they are that good.” Lang looked anything but cumbersome and slothlike as he bided his time at the tail of the field before a lightning move to put the $100,000 Group One in his keeping in the blink of an eye. Lang let most of his rivals cut at each other at the head of the field while Whereibylong cruised along at the back of them. When Lang cut him loose, Whereibylong ($1.80 favourite) swept past her rivals to race away for an easy 6.8m win in a 1:57.6 mile rate with a last half of 56.1 seconds. Ocean Diva finished well for second without troubling the winner, while Luda got out late and ran on for third, but a distant 7.9m from the winner. “In my time I’ve learned that you win more than you lose when you have a good horse like this at your disposal,” Lang said. “When you get fair dinkum, she knows what to expect and she gets the job done . . . as she did today.” Whereibylong   By Michael Court (Harness Racing Australia)

Lennytheshark looks to have a stranglehold on the harness racing Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires and geldings’ series after a commanding semi-final win. The David Aiken-trained rising superstar produced a stunning performance on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton to obliterate his rivals in his semi, beating the second horse over the line, Valley Of Diamonds, by 13.7m. Reinsman Chris Alford took the son of Four Starzzz Shark to the lead midrace after initially easing to midfield early from his gate-six draw. Once in front, Lennytheshark was eyeballed by Smart Major until the home turn when Alford and the favourite broke the Forbes-trained pacer’s resistance. In the straight, Lennytheshark let down like a champion, putting daylight on a handy batch of four-year-olds for a memorable win in a mile rate of 1:58.5. While he has shown a tendency to lay out in the home straight in recent starts, Lennytheshark hasn’t had many horses to keep him company in the latter part of his races as they simply can’t keep up. The other 4YO boys’ semi-final was taken out by Lennytheshark’s arch enemy Guaranteed – considered by most punters to be the only horse capable of landing the knockout blow to the favourite in next Saturday night’s grand final. The Emma Stewart-trained son of Artsplace overhauled Ginger Bliss in the home straight for a 9.9m win in a mile rate of 1:58.2. Gavin Lang produced another typically masterful drive aboard the winner, extricating it from a four-back-the-pegs position early after the horse was shuffled back with no speed from its pole draw. From there, Lang got cover out three-wide before making a sharp run towards pacy Ginger Bliss on turning for home. Guaranteed packed too big a punch in the stretch, Ginger Bliss battling on strongly for second, with Three Pints snaring third. The eye-catcher from the race was Boyz Torque, which made up enormous ground along the inside in the last 100m to finish fourth. Diamond Castle – raced by Harness Racing Victoria ownership program Raceapacer – scored a 1.8m win over Missed By Red in a rate of 2:02.2 in the second semi-final for 2YO fillies. Trained and driven by David Miles, Diamond Castle was having just her second start after a debut second at Ballarat first-up. The daughter of Art Major settled well back in the field with $1.20 favourite Lovelist finding the lead comfortably. But at the business end the roles were reversed, with Diamond Castle finishing too well to get the win. Lovelist ran third. Talented Kari Males-trained Niki No No captured the other 2YO fillies’ semi-final, Greg Sugars steering the daughter of Sportswriter to victory. Niki No No did plenty of work early and recorded a winning mile rate of 1:59.8, with Yankee Showgirl second and Our Star Dust third. Courageousnquick scored an impressive start-to-finish win in the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, holding off Mcrita, Union Belle and the fast-finishing Pressplay in the home straight. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Kyle Marshall, Courageousnquick held out Earth Angel to find the lead at the start before seeing off all challengers in the home straight at the finish for a neck win in a rate of 2:00.4. The other 4YO mares’ semi went to Im Smouldering for Doreen trainer John Yeomans, who teamed with Gavin Lang. Im Smouldering’s winning margin was 2m and his mile rate 1:56.7. The 2YO colts and geldings’ semi-finals were taken out by Virgil Hilts at big odds for trainer-driver Lisa Miles and Major Invictus for trainer/driver Michael Stanley. Hectorjayjay (for the in-form Bill and Simone Walker team) and Messini (Brent Lilley and Chris Alford) took out the 3YO colts’ and geldings’ semis, while Berisari (Emma Stewart and Nathan Jack) and Tasmanian star Barynya (Dick Eaves and Rohan Hillier) won the 3YO fillies’ races. Friday night's races were held in windy conditions. Videos of all races are attached above. The Super Series grand final nights will be held this Friday (for the trotters) and Saturday (pacers). Twelve Group 1 races will be contested across the two-day carnival of meetings. by Cody Winnell

The Emma Stewart stable has the potential to dominate this Friday night’s colossal Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Semi-Final night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Stewart has 10 runners engaged across the 12-race program, including numerous expected prepost favourites. Headlining her chances are unbeaten two-year-old filly Lovelist ($1.60) in the 2YO fillies’ second semi-final and Group 1 star Guaranteed ($1.60) in the 4YO males’ first semi-final. Since arriving on the scene with a win at Maryborough on April 7, Lovelist has won twice at Tabcorp Park Melton – including victory in the Group 2 Vicbred Home Grown Final – before a last-start 5m win at Maryborough in the Super Series 2YO Fillies second heat. “She’s our best two-year-old filly,” Stewart declared on Wednesday. “She’s done everything right. I’d expect her to get through on Friday night and then we hope she goes on to win the final. “While we don’t know exactly how good she is yet, she’d have to be right up there with the best two-year-olds we’ve trained.” Lovelist comes out of gate four on Friday in Race 10, with her main dangers expected to be highly rated David Miles-trained Diamond Castle (drawn 10) and Amanda Turnbull’s Missed By Red (gate five). Harness Racing Victoria’s popular ownership program Raceapacer owns Diamond Castle, which will have an enthusiastic group cheering her on in Friday night’s race. Stewart is confident four-year-old Guaranteed can win through to the Super Series Final but admitted to being concerned about the Chariots of Fire winner’s gate-one draw on Friday night. “I can see us being buried away back on the pegs again,” she said. “But as long as we get through to the final, that’s the main thing.” Stewart believes Ginger Bliss will lead on Friday night before handing up to something else, which would shuffle Guaranteed three back on the markers. However, if Ginger Bliss leads as expected and doesn’t hand up, Guaranteed should be able to hold its back and secure its shot at victory via the sprint lane. Another scenario would be Ginger Bliss pings out early to lead clearly and something else – maybe Classy Guy or Boyz Torque – drops in behind the leader, shuffling Guaranteed back early. Stewart said she would prefer Guaranteed to be off the markers and doing some work rather than being buried away on the inside, but added it was up to driver Gavin Lang to assess the situation on Friday night. “Gavin’s got to weigh it up,” she said. When asked about Guaranteed potentially starting near $1.60, Stewart replied: “That’s pretty short…” Stewart’s three-year-old gelding Presidentialsecret ($6.50) could be her each-way value runner for the night, the trainer spruiking the horse as one “she really likes”. “He does need a bit of luck because he’s not the strongest horse going around but I really like the way he’s working at home and if we can get into the final and then draw a nice gate, he’d be a good chance,” she said. Stewart opens the marathon program with Goodtime Marjie ($3) in the 4YO mares’ first semi-final from gate six. “She’s a really top-class mare but she can do a few things wrong,” the trainer said. “It depends which Goodtime Marjie turns up.” The daughter of Village Jasper has turned up more often than not though, winning seven of her 11 starts to date. Stewart also has a likely favourite in Race 2, the first semi-final of the 2YO fillies’ division with Licinia drawn gate three. “I like her. We’ve only had her for three starts for us and she’s won two of them. She can go forward and do some work so the gate looks ideal.” Punters also look set to put their faith in yet another Stewart runner in Race 6, the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, with Our Femme Fatale drawn gate six. “She’s the most underrated horse we’ve got, I think,” said Stewart. “You always know what you’re going to get from her; she always tries her hardest. She’s a great mare.” Our Femme Fatale sat in the death and out-toughed Earth Angel, which has drawn five on Friday night, last time out at Kilmore. In the 3YO fillies’ first semi-final Stewart will put the polish on Berisari from gate two, with Nathan Jack to take the drive. “If you’d said to me at the start of the year that she’d be one of our best fillies I’d have laughed,” Stewart said. “But she’s going really, really well, and she’s a really good show on Friday night. “Nathan drives her very well. She can go forward and do some work but she also has a sharp sprint on her, so I’m not fussed about tactics. I’ll leave it up to Nathan.” Of Hes Kinky (gate 12 for the second semi-final of the 4YO boys) Stewart said: “He’s a good sit-and-sprint horse who is up in class. He’s a chance.” And in the last race of the night Stewart will have two runners, Tuscan Breeze (John Caldow, gate two) and Bettors Package (Gavin Lang, gate 10). “We were happy with Tuscan Breeze’s first start with us. She’ll keep improving. “Bettors Package is a lovely filly. She’s only tiny but she tries her hardest and with a little bit of luck she can hopefully go very close.” By Cody Winnell

Gavin Lang’s legion of fans found themselves in the winners’ queue three times at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The champion reinsman piloted The Good Times, Supaliner and Classy Western to wins on the nine-race card. Emma Stewart-trained The Good Times ($1.70) kicked things off with a bang for Lang, scoring a strong win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Pace (2240m). Three-wide for a few strides early, Lang quickly slotted The Good Times one off the pegs back in the field as Mary Mon found the lead up front. Alina (Christopher Shinn) was first to pounce as the field swung for home with Mary Mon getting tired, but when Lang let The Good Times roll it was lights out, the five-year-old mare exploding clear for a 7.9m win in a rate of 1:57.0. Alina was plucky to hold on for second, with Union Belle getting third for Michael Bellman. Lang then combined with Riddells Creek trainer Adam Kelly aboard Supaliner ($4.40) to win the Alabar Pace over 1720m. Lance Justice-trained Magnificent Art found the front early, the heavily backed son of Art Major showing blistering gate speed. Travtiano also began well and was able to drop in behind Magnificent Art, but then he moved one off and allowed Supaliner to punch through and get first shot at the sprint lane at the finish. Magnificent Art had a good kick turning for home and gave Supaliner a perfect drag into the lane, the four-year-old Mach Three gelding relishing the opportunity once in clear air to draw away for a 4.4m win. Magnificent Art held on for second, while Peter Manning’s Boyz Torque continued getting closer to a win, running on well for third for Kerryn Manning. Lang’s third and final winner came in Race 8, the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720m aboard Classy Western at odds of $15.90. Esbee Doubleyou led from gate two for driver John Caldow with pressure coming from Jason Lee and Arr En Special midrace. The even-money favourite Highview Conall followed the leader from pole for Amanda Turnbull, while Lang took Classy Western back to last off the widest draw on the front line. Turning for home Lang took Classy Western to the outside after making ground off the back, the son of Western Terror hitting top gear in the last 150m to score a 1.3m win over Scruffy Major, who ran on well for Greg Sugars, with Highview Conall pulling out just a fair run for third. Amanda Grieve took training honours for the meeting with a winning double, the Melton trainer preparing Magical Telf ($4.90 with Alex Ashwood in the cart) to win the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m in 1:56.9 by 3.2m over hot favourite Cyrus (Matthew Craven) and La Machane (Sugars), and talented trotter Our Dreamlover to win the feature race of the night, the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup Final over 2240m. Our Dreamlover ($1.90) with Greg Sugars aboard sat outside early leader Mister Gunsen, the pair setting a strong tempo in the Group 2 trotting race. Our Dreamlover had raced to the lead as the field headed towards the home turn, with Mister Gunsen struggling. Sunset Invasion was warming to its task and Brief Glance emerging from well back also. But nothing was going to catch Our Dreamlover, the son of Love You notching a 10th win at start No.24, while Brief Glance (Amy Tubbs) ran on strongly for second and Sunset Invasion (Jodi Quinlan) finished third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:59.6 and his winning margin 11.7m over the second horse. Bill and Simone Walker took out the Sky Racing Wagon Apollo Trotters Free For All over 2240m with six-year-old gelding Stoned I Am ($14.40). The son of Sundon enjoyed a soft run one out and one back midrace before peeling wide in the home straight to overrun race favourite Brunelleschi by a half-head. Brunelleschi had excuses, having to do the lion’s share of the work out wide on the last lap, while Aleppo Midas finished third for Kerryn Manning. Other winners on the program were This Is Your Life ($3) in the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace Final for trainer-driver George Schembri, Keayang Cullen ($1.60) for Marg Lee and Glen Craven in the 2Construct Young Pedro Free For All over 1720m and Our Eastwood Cullen ($4.40) in the Junction Hotel Claiming Pace for Craig Demmler and Jodi Quinlan. FAST FACTS FROM LAST NIGHT'S MELTON MEETING * Early quaddie paid $2190 on 6-1-6-8 * Quaddie paid $328.50 on 7-9-1-3 * Best mile rate for night was Classy Western 1:56.5 in Race 8 * Most wins by driver: 3 for Gavin Lang * Most wins by trainer: 2 for Amanda Grieve * Biggest first four: $3855.30 in Race 8 on 7-9-1-3 By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Superb trotting filly Claudys Princess edged out Illawong Helios in the first heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for 3YO trotting fillies today at Maryborough. The Mick Blackmore-trained star, who last start won the Group 1 Glenferrie Farm Trotters Oaks, went 2:02.4 with a last half of 61.5 to defeat the Ross Sugars-trained runner-up by a half-neck. Gavin Lang didn’t bustle Claudys Princess early and allowed her to balance up three back on the pegs, following Illawong Helios, which had the back of race leader Illawong Moonshine. Turning for home Illawong Moonshine had run her race and was quickly gathered up by Illawong Helios, but once the sprint lane opened up Claudys Princess darted through with a successful late winning bid. Sister Of Sonoko ran third for Ross Graham, while Kapitan Claire from the Sugars yard with Kylie Sugars in the sulky ran fourth. Claudys Princess has now won 11 races from 14 starts. Later on the card top three-year-old trotter Asdenro won the boys’ Vicbred heat by 3.9m over Guiltless. Haydon Gray took the David Van Ryn-trained son of Armbro Variable to the front early from gate five, holding off all challengers late to score over David Abrahams-trained Guiltless, with Alan Tubbs-trained Drunken Maniac finishing on for third. Savannah Jay Jay put some value into first fours with Neil McCallum guiding the Stan Cameron-trained gelding into fourth place despite a scratchy beginning. Favourite Holdonsu made it seven wins from 16 starts with victory in the Vicbred 3YO males’ pacers heat at Maryborough, the Jayne Davies-trained, Rodney Petroff-driven son of Elsu scoring a head win over Jedi Mind from the David Aiken stable, with Time Capsule coming in third. My Bella Starr captured the 3YO pacing fillies’ Vicbred heat for trainer Adam Kelly and Gavin Lang in Race 8. The daughter of Art Major/Badlands Legend went 1:59.8 and prevailed by 1.6m over runner-up Distant Memory, who had made the trip south from New South Wales for trainer-driver Kerry-Ann Turner, with Phil Chircop-trained The System Black getting third-place prize money for driver Petroff. Lang capped off a winning treble in the last race on the program, the Vicbred seventh heat of the 3YO colts and geldings, aboard Presidentialsecret for Emma Stewart. The Presidential Ball gelding prevailed by 4.4m over Young Modern for Michael Stanley, while Lisa Miles guided Su You Too into third place. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

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