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Master reinsman Gavin Lang proved to be a ladies’ man by scoring with four females at last night’s Ballarat harness racing meeting. Driving in vintage form, Lang provided prominent trainer Emma Stewart with a winning quartet – all members of the ‘fairer sex’! Lang’s evening kicked off with promising youngster Lovelist, which outclassed her rivals in 1:58.5 over 2200 metres. After leading with ease from barrier two, Lovelist scored by there-and-a-half metres from Union Alley, with Smooth Showgirl a head away third. By Always A Virgin, the filly is from broodmare gem Lifeline, making her an ‘Aunt’ to another of Lang’s winners, Beauty Secret. A daughter of Armbro Operative, Beauty Secret is from Secret Life, which is from Lifeline. Also leading throughout, Beauty Secret accounted for her stablemate, The Good Times and National Service. Rating 1:57.8 for the 2200 metres, the six-year-old has won five of her last six starts, taking her record to 24 wins and 12 placings from 52 outings. No stranger to Group One glory, Beauty Secret has been aimed at the Ladyship Mile, which is scheduled to be run at Menangle on March 1 – Inter Dominion day. Also bred to be a star, Delight Me did just that with favourite punters when she was untouched to score from Awesome Mattjesty and Thunder Fee. Unbeaten from four starts this campaign, Delight Me is by Bettors Delight from Group One winner, Cornsilk. Stewart has set the three-year-old towards various majors, including the New South Wales Oaks, which is also due to be run on Inter Dominion day. Lang and Stewart rounded out their quartet with Bettors Package, which cruised to an eye-catching victory from Modern Hitch and Bazzas Art. Successful at four of her five starts for the term, Bettors Package will continue to make her way through the grades ahead of the Vicbred Super Series later in the season. PAUL COURTS

Master reinsman Gavin Lang has answered one of the biggest harness racing questions of the weekend. As the number one driver for the Emma Stewart stable, Lang had a choice between three runners in tomorrow night’s $400,000 Victoria Cup and has made his decision. Lang’s options where Phildadelphia Man from barrier four, Guaranteed from 10 and Restrepo from 13. After waiting until the trio had their final workout ahead of the Grand Circuit gem, Lang has selected Guaranteed, which he has driven to four wins and two placings from six starts this season. Guaranteed has been kept fresh since his brilliant victory in the South Australia Cup three weeks ago. Talented reinsman Nathan Jack will partner Philadelphia Man, which had his winning sequence broken when a fighting second in last Saturday’s Shepparton Cup. Heading into the provincial feature, Philadelphia Man had won his previous 11 starts. Greg Sugars will take the reins behind Restrepo, which was a class above his rivals in the Hamilton Cup a fortnight ago. With Lang in the cart, Restrepo shrugged off a 30-metre handicap to score in track record time. Guaranteed is the second favourite at $4.80 behind Beautide, which is sitting on $3.20 despite being first-up for nine weeks. Philadelphia Man, along with Christen Me, is on $6, with Restrepo one of the outsiders at $41. Such is the depth of the field, defending champion, For A Reason, is also $41 after drawing awkwardly in gate 11. PAUL COURTS

Master reinsman Gavin Lang is the favourite to be the winning Inter Dominion driver. In the latest TAB ‘novelty market’ for the time-honoured Championship, Lang is at $3.80 to secure the Final, which could shape as ‘overs’ considering the horseflesh Lang has at his disposal. Lang is the main stable driver for trainer Emma Stewart, who has Guaranteed, Philadelphia Man and Restrepo engaged in the prestigious series. The Inter Dominion Final is scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. Lang is yet to enjoy victory in the Pacers’ Final, but has won three Trotters’ Finals – scoring with True Roman in 1988, Game Bid 2002 and Sumthingaboutmaori in ’04. “Our bookies have installed Gavin as favourite to secure one of the few remaining majors that he has yet to win,” Georgiou said. “Lang has been known as one of the best drivers of the last generation and still commands respect among his much younger rivals. “It would be fitting if he could finally lift an Inter Dominion Pacing Grand trophy.” PAUL COURTS Inter Dominion Winning Driver Gavin Lang                     $3.80  James Rattray              $4  Dexter Dunn                $5  Ricky May                     $7  Any Other Driver         $10  Chris Alford                  $10  Luke McCarthy            $10  Grant Dixon                 $21  Lauren Panella            $21  Shane Graham            $21

“Watch out Guaranteed and Philadelphia Man, because he's back,” said Gavin Lang after driving Restrepo to a breathtaking Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup win on Sunday. Lang would know; he’s driven all three of the Emma Stewart trained big guns to feature race success in recent weeks. So for Restrepo’s large travelling throng of owners from Portland, Lang’s words in his cup presentation speech must have been music to the ears ahead of the Summer of Glory on January 31 and February 7. Last season’s Ballarat Cup winner took off with a lap to go and muscled his way to the front before running his rivals ragged with sustained power, leaving the deepest Hamilton Cup field in recent memory paddling in his wake. As a result of Sunday's win the TAB slashed Restrepo's Hunter Cup odds from $21 to $12. Lang spoke of his affinity with Restrepo, having driven the six-year-old son of Art Major/Shes Innocent at his first 42 racetrack starts before swapping to Philadelphia Man, which defeated Restrepo to win the Horsham Pacing Cup last weekend. “It was good to get back on today,” Lang said. The champion reinsman spoke of the satisfaction he got from driving in big races and thanked the large crowd in attendance at Hamilton for creating such a strong atmosphere. Restrepo won by 21.4m over Kerryn Manning trained-and-driven Arden Rooney, who has placed in both country cup runs since making his Australian debut last weekend. And Arber finished third for trainer Tim Bolitho and reinsman Greg Sugars, that pacer’s third Hamilton Cup minor placing. But it was all honours to the winner, who slashed 1.4secs off the previous track record with a 1:57.4 mile rate over the 2660-metre stand-start trip. Restrepo covered his last half-mile in 56.8secs, Lang taking the entire to the lead at the bell. Once in front Restrepo put on one of the most powerful displays ever seen at Hamilton, sticking his neck out and breaking his adversaries’ hearts as the trots won new fans. People who had not previously seen harness racing watched in awe as Restrepo did his thing. Post-race it was clear the sport had won new fans thanks to the cup winner’s display. Of the beaten brigade Arden Rooney tried valiantly and will continue to improve in his new Great Western surrounds, Arber went enormous at big odds, Cut For An Ace ditto, Flaming Hero showed he will win a country cup sooner or later with a strong fifth and veteran Villagem was best of the rest. Local favourite Abettorpunt struggled into 10th place after a tough run, while Blucolla Tigerpie (11th) and Jadahson (12th) raced on the pace but weakened well out of calculations from the 500m. Restrepo’s win was one of four successes for Stewart at Hamilton on Cup Day, her other winners Starburst Girl in Race 4, Vanderley in Race 5 and Bettors Package in the last. Lang drove three of the winners, while Nathan Jack scored on the impressive Vanderley. The Fat Man saluted for local trainer David Lewis in Race 2, the Mountain View Stud Pace, the four-year-old by American Ideal out of Atomic Fusion romping in by almost 17m over 2160m in a rate of 1:59.1. David Drury’s great run of form continued when Go Betweens notched his third win from 28 starts – and second straight success – in the Alexandra House Border Cup Final over 1660m in a rate of 1:59.1. Drury almost made it a winning double when Kyms Boy loomed ominously behind long odds-on favourite Jilliby Jagger in the WDEA Pace, but the latter packed too much punch to score by 5.1m in 1:59.1. The other winner for the day was impressive debutant trotter Franco Jaeger for driver Chris Alford, which held off Lady Mackendon in the PFD Trotters Handicap. Cody Winnell - Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria  

Talented Tasmanian mare Spitfire Rose made it a clean sweep for the locals when she powered home to score a convincing win in the prestigious George Johnson mares’ classic at Tattersall's Park in Hobart yesterday. Spitfire Rose started at the lucrative price of $12 (fixed), with in-form Victorian mare Tandias Bromac from the Amanda Grieve stable the $1.50 favourite. The winner was driven by Gavin Lang, who admitted the victory was a bit special because of the circumstances surrounding how he came to drive the daughter of Jeremes Jet. Spitfire Rose is trained by Rohan Hadley, who also usually drives her in races, but when he became Ill a few weeks ago he called on Lang to make the trip across Bass Strait for the drive. “Rohan isn’t travelling too well at the minute, so I came across to drive here and she did a wonderful job,” Lang said. Spitfire Rose faced the breeze from the outset ahead of Tandias Bromac which landed on her back in the one-one. But Tandias Bromac’s driver Chris Alford was unhappy with the speed set by El Jays Magic, so he took off two laps from home to assume control. This left Spitfire Rose still facing the breeze, but it was short-lived when Whisper Jet obliged by sweeping around them three-wide to occupy the ‘death seat’. Turning for home Tandias Bromac burst clear, but when Lang eased Spitfire Rose three-wide to make her charge, she powered home to beat the favourite 10 metres, with El Jays Magic three metre away third. Hadley was at the track, but not physically well enough to venture down to the presentation area. “This was a great win by the mare and I’m thankful for Gavin for answering the call,” Hadley said. “She's a very good mare that deserved to win a good race and there's none better than this in Tasmania.” Hadley stated there were no specific plans to target any interstate races with Spitfire Rose, which has won 10 and been placed 12 times from 34 starts for close to $70,000 in stakes. Spitfire Rose began her career in New South Wales where she was winless from nine outings, but notched three placings at Penrith and one at Menangle. She joined Hadley's stable in July last year, but was retired from the race at her first start in the state but made amends at her subsequent outing at the same venue a week later. She travelled to Victoria for the Four-Year-Old Breeders’ Crown series and was third in her heat behind Cenosilocophobia, but suffered an injury and was sent for a spell. This latest assignment was her second this time in, having finished third first-up in the Mother of Pearl in Launceston on November 30. PETER STAPLES

Top Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang has always had success when driving in Tasmania and he showed why he is considered one of harness racing’s best with a superb display behind Rusty Red Comet in Hobart today. The Eric Jacobson-trained gelding was backed in to start the $2.10 favourite and it was Lang’s patience that ensured the four-year-old emerged triumphant. Vander Jenkins ($10 into $8) showed good early speed to find the front, while Smokin Mustard $14) faced the breeze and the well-tried Frankie Falzoni ($9) trailed the leader from the pole. Lang settled Rusty Red Comet in the rear half of the field in the one-out line and he waited until entering the back straight the last time to make his move three and four-wide. The well-backed second favourite Major Callum was sent around the field to face the breeze with over a lap remaining and he looked the winner turning for home. But when Lang called on Rusty Red Comet to deliver the goods, the son of Riverboat King found that bit extra Lang is often able to extricate from his charges to emerge triumphant. Rusty Red Comet hit the line three metres clear of Major Callum, with Frankie Falzoni a metre away third. PETER STAPLES

Despite promising harness racing mare My Bella Starr’s triumphant return to racing at Cranbourne last night, connections will “play it cool for now”. Sent for a spell following her Vicbred Super Series success last July, My Bella Starr outclassed her rivals over 2080 metres. Pleased with the pacer’s performance, trainer Adam Kelly stated My Bella Starr will be eased through the grades as she works towards her title defence. Should the daughter of Art Major exceed early expectations, Kelly will alter his plans to include the Ladyship Mile at Menangle in March. “She has come back well, but we are play it cool for now,” Kelly said. “You can’t get excited on one run back from a spell. “She’s comeback in great shape and shouldn’t have any trouble getting through the grades. “Whether she measures up to the top mares only time will tell, but realistically that was only her first run as a four-year-old and she’s got a long way to go yet. “At this stage the Sires’ later in the season will be her main aim.” As for her latest triumph, My Bella Starr trailed the leader, Discrimination, before finishing along the sprint lane to account for Machin Out and Whata Avenue. Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, My Bella Starr rated 1:58.8, with the final 800 meters covered in 57 seconds. PAUL COURTS

One of the greatest trotters produced in Australasia has been put down as a result of old age. True Roman – Victoria’s most successful metropolitan performer – was put down at the ripe age of 34. While recently-retired gelding Smoken Up has been celebrated as the state’s leading city pacer with 33 wins, his record fell short of True Roman’s 35 victories at Moonee Valley. True Roman’s tally consists of an incredible 34 metro and one country success. Better yet, his country win was in a pacers’ event! The squaregaiter’s crowning moment came in the 1988 Trotters’ Inter Dominion. A pacing-bred son of True Duane and Romanda, True Roman was trained by astute horseman Graeme Johannesen after being purchased by cand close friend, Roger Dalton, from Ron Pocock, who originally bought the youngster at a Sydney yearling sale in 1981. Sixth upon debut at a Wedderburn non-TAB meeting, True Roman broke his maiden status at his fourth outing when driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang. That was the beginning of a formidable partnership, with Lang partnering True Roman to top shelf triumphs such as the Australasian Trotters’ Championship, two V L Dullard Cups, two South Australia Trotters’ Cups, four Cochran Cups, three Freestone Cups, three Chris Howe Cups and two Grand Slam Finals during the next nine seasons. Lang was also in the cart when True Roman accounted for Fair Tally and Simon Katz in the Moonee Valley Inter Dominion Final to complete a clean sweep of the time-honoured Championship. Like Smoken Up, True Roman was still performing solidly as a ‘greybeard’ before being retired as an 11-year-old with record earnings of $530,732 thanks to his 73 wins and 36 placings from 137 starts. PAUL COURTS

No matter which way you look at it, harness racing in Victoria was the big loser tonight. In what has been described as a “totally unprofessionalism”, Harness Racing Victoria stewards have prevented several trainers from using their UFO sulkies, which led to a host of scratchings - including six of the 10 runners in the Group One Ballarat Cup. While the vast majority of participants accept the specific sulkies fail to meet Harness Racing Australia specifications, it is the handling of the situation which has infuriated trainers, drivers and owners alike. Despite being made aware of the use of the specific sulkies, which are five centimetres wider than permitted, earlier in the week, HRV stewards failed to notify trainers ahead of the popular meeting. In fact, stipes began measuring the sulkies after horses entered the parade ring for the first event. “We were here about an hour before the first, but the stewards decided to check the sulkies after we were in the parade ring,” trainer Marg Lee declared. “It is an absolute disgrace. “My horse (More Than Modern) was uncomfortable in the replacement sulky, was hitting the wheel, and as such, got fired up which cost him the chance to race truly. “You bust your gut working horses to get to the races and then cop this…is there any wonder why people are getting out of the game?” Widely-regarded as the finest reinsman produced in Australasia, Gavin Lang lashed out at stewards for their lack of foresight and handling of the situation. “Stewards wonder there is no respect coming from participants when they do things like this,” Lang said. “They knew they were going to do this, but never told us. “I’m very disillusioned with the process and it’s another case of the stewards being on one side of the fence and we’re on another. “It is ridiculous…is there any other industry in the world where they don’t go through the due process before making these calls?” Prominent trainer Emma Stewart’s four Ballarat Cup entrants were scratched from the Group One – including the favourite Guaranteed - which has left her contemplating legal action. “This is beyond a joke,” Stewart declared. “This is why Victoria is so far behind the rest of Australia. “We won the last race at Melton last night using one of these sulkies, then find out once we get here we can’t use it tonight. “If they had of told us during the week we could have made some arrangements…There will definitely be legal action.” Leading trainer David Aiken had Cold Sister scratched from the Group One V L Dullard Cup, while Thanesan contested the feature only to race out of his comfort zone. “If the sulkies are too wide, fair enough, but they knew about this days ago and decide to tell us tonight at the track, it is unprofessional,” Aiken said. “Thanesan raced in one of the sulkies a week ago and was perfect, tonight he was bolting for Gavin as he kept hitting the wheel.” Chief steward Neal Conder confirmed he was aware of the issue with the sulkies earlier in the week, stating he had ordered inspections last Thursday. “I was informed by HRA during the week of concerns some UFO sulkies were wider than allowable,” Conder said. “I informed our steward who looks after gear that when next at races to measure the sulkies. “He measured them Thursday and there was no issue, then we measured them before the first race tonight and found that some weren’t compliant with the HRA specifications. “Trainers were only told tonight. We didn’t expect given the results on Thursday to find any that were outside regulations. “We are bound by HRA specifications and it is our job to ensure that our participants adhere to those standards.” HRV chief executive John Anderson stated he is “disappointed with the communication” between the stewards and participants, having only become aware of the situation upon his arrival at Ballarat. Stewards report directly to the integrity council, and it would be up to the integrity council to advise on ways to improve processes around communication between stewards and participants HRV has also stated it will work closely with Ballarat on a way to compensate patrons who attended tonight’s meeting. Ballarat’s chief executive Paul Rowse revealed patrons were asking for refunds within minutes of the six Cup scratchings. For the record, handy pacer Im Corzin Terror caused a minor upset in the four-horse field when he upstaged the $1.10 favourite, Terror To Love, in 1:59.7 for the 2710-metre trip. - PAUL COURTS

Master reinsman Gavin Lang has opted to stick with exciting harness racing performer Guaranteed in Saturday night’s Ballarat Cup. Lang elected to drive the rising star ahead of stablemates Philadelphia Man, Beauty Secret and Restrepo, which he combined with to capture last season’s edition of the Group One. It is the first time in 41 starts Lang won’t be in the sulky behind Restrepo. He has also been the regular driver of the other three this season. The four are trained by partners Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. A last-start third behind Christen Me and Beautide in the Miracle Mile, Guaranteed is the early favourite at $2.20 after drawing well in barrier four. Stating the decision was “hard to make”, Lang believes Guaranteed is poised to add another top shelf victory to his impressive record. “Some people will look at having four good driving options in a race like this as a good spot to be in, but personally, I don’t enjoy hoping off horses, but it’s something that you have to do at times,” Lang said. “In an ideal world Emma and Clayton would prefer to have them all in different races, but that’s not how it works and there are times they will clash. “From the draw, Guaranteed is going to be very hard to beat, as are each of Emma and Clayton’s horses.” Although he will drive Guaranteed this weekend, Lang is no certainty to stick with the son of Artsplace every time he clashes with his talented stablemates. “No doubt if Restrepo can get back to the form we know he is capable of and Guaranteed and Philadelphia Man hold their form choosing between them could be an ongoing problem and draws will play a role in my decision,” Lang said. PAUL COURTS

Promising harness racing performer Yankee Rockstar earned an interstate trip with his win at Melton last night. To be more precise, Yankee Rockstar will head to Menangle for next week’s Mount Eden Championship heat, with the bid of qualifying for the Final on November 29 – Miracle Mile night. Co-trainer Emma Stewart confirmed the trek across the Murray as reliant on Yankee Rockstar’s latest outing, in which he performed stylishly. Stewart, who prepares her team with partner, Clayton Tonkin, is no stranger to Mount Eden Championship success, having captured last year’s edition with boom pacer, Guaranteed. “Although he won his first two starts this time in, he wasn’t overly impressive,” Stewart said. “We’ve had the Mount Eden series in mind for him, but were waiting to see how he went tonight. “He’s done a top job and now will be heading to Sydney next week.” Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, Yankee Rockstar was given time to settle from his second row draw before being sent forward three-wide to test the leader, Motu Prince Of Peru , from the ‘death seat’. Overpowering the front runner on the home turn, the talented son of Rocknroll Hanover cruised to an impressive 11-and-a-half metre win from Supreme Genes, with Motu Prince Of Peru a metre-and-a-half away third. “He’s a very nice type and was always going to be hard to beat despite the draw,” Stewart said. “Although he worked in the breeze, he just did it so easy up the straight and won with a bit up his sleeve.” Covering the last half in 56.9 seconds, the entire rated 1:56.7 for the 2240 metres, taking his record to an imposing 10 wins and two placings from 13 starts. The four-year-old’s success was the opening leg of a double for Stewart, Tonkin and Lang who combined to score with Metro Mike. Also overcoming a back row draw, the son of Metropolitan accounted for Our Burning Desire and Hes Kinky in 1:55.7 for the 2240 metres. With no major plans in mind for the six-year-old, the top training partners will select suitable targets as they become available. PAUL COURTS

Boom harness racing performer Guaranteed will venture into new territory on Saturday night. Arguably Australia’s most exciting prospect, the Emma Stewart-trained star is engaged in the Nyah Cup at Swan Hill. As such, Guaranteed will make his standing start debut, in which he will come off a 10-metre handicap. Boasting 21 wins and eight placings from 31 mobile outings, Guaranteed can complete a successful beginning to his career behind the tapes according to Stewart. “We’ve got no doubt he will handle it just fine,” Stewart said. “He’s had plenty of practice at home and goes away safely. “I’m not saying he rockets out, but he begins without any problems, which is all is needed. “We all know it can be a different scenario at the races, but he’s a pretty level headed type.” To be drive by master reinsman Gavin Lang, Guaranteed is one of two runners Stewart has in the Group Three. The leading horsewoman, who co-trains her team with Clayton Tonkin, will also be represented by Johnny Quid. First-up from a 10-week break at Melton last week, Johnny Quid scored an eye-catching victory over 1720 metres. The son of Modern Art has had one outing from the tapes, which saw him finish fifth in last season’s Ouyen Cup won by Copthewrath. “He is another which hasn’t had a lot of standing start experience, but we can’t see it being a problem,” Stewart said. “Like Guaranteed he has had plenty practice at home and goes away cleanly.” Following their 2790-metre engagement, Guaranteed and Johnny Quid will be aimed towards the Kilmore Cup on October 26. One of the most popular events on the calendar, the Kilmore Cup is a discretionary handicap conducted over a marathon 3150 metres. PAUL COURTS

Harness racing’s excitement machine, Guaranteed, faces an arduous first-up task at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Returning from a 13-week break, Guaranteed is engaged in the popular Melton Plate for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Not only has the son of Artsplace drawn awkwardly in barrier six, the $50,505 feature has attracted a solid field of up-and-comers. Disappointed with the draw, Stewart remains positive Guaranteed can mark his comeback with a victory. “The draw isn’t the best, but that’s racing,” Stewart said. “From there, once the mobile pulls away, it’s all up to Gavin (Lang, driver). “Like all horses coming back from a spell, he is still fresh, but his work has been terrific and he has also trialled well. “We’ve got no doubt he will play a big role in the finish.” Citing Bettor Rock On as the main danger, Stewart believes Upanatom is the interesting runner, with Young Modern also to be treated with respect. Unbeaten from six Australian starts, Bettor Rock On will begin from the outside of the front line for astute mentor Ross Sugars. The classy son of Bettors Delight was a first-up winner at the same venue a fortnight ago. Prepared by Amanda Grieve, Upanatom is another former Kiwi which has made a splash since crossing the Tasman. Making a rapid transition through the country grades, the son of Christian Cullen has won eight of his nine Aussie starts. To begin from gate four, Upanatom finished second behind Glenferrie Ej in his first run from a five-week break at Geelong last Thursday. One of two Michael Stanley-trained runners, Young Modern has been in sensational form, winning his last five starts. By Modern Art, the gelding will be joined on the second line by his stablemate, Hilltop Hustler. “There are some very nice types in the field,” Stewart said. “Although the draw hasn’t been the best to him either, Bettor Rock On is the one to beat.” PAUL COURTS

While the focus will be firmly on Smoken Up on Saturday night, it seems appropriate that another of harness racing’s superstars will also be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton. One of the great pacers of the modern era, Smoken Up is having his 143rd and last start for trainer Lance Justice in what is the end of a sensational career for the evergreen 12-year-old. Successful at 15 tracks across Australasia – collecting 13 Group Ones along the way – Smoken Up is aiming for a fairytale ending to his career as he chases his 34th win in town. The gelding’s 33 triumphs break down to 12 at Moonee Valley and 21 at Melton, making the son of Tinted Cloud Victoria’s most successful metropolitan pacer. Victory this weekend will see Smoken Up fall one short of True Roman’s ‘all-comers’ record in town. Among the best trotters produced in the Southern Hemisphere, True Roman won an amazing 35 races at the Valley. True Roman’s tally consists of an incredible 34 metro and one country success. Better yet, his country win was in a pacers’ event! The squaregaiter’s crowning moment came in the 1988 Trotters’ Inter Dominion, which has led to this weekend’s True Roman Free-For-All as part of the Melbourne-based/Victorian-trained Inter Dominion winners’ features. A pacing-bred son of True Duane and Romanda, True Roman was trained by astute horseman Graeme Johannesen after being purchased by Johannesen and close friend, Roger Dalton, from Ron Pocock, who originally bought the youngster at a Sydney yearling sale in 1981. Sixth upon debut at a Wedderburn non-TAB meeting, True Roman broke his maiden status at his fourth outing when driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang. That was the beginning of a formidable partnership, with Lang partnering True Roman to top shelf triumphs such as the Australasian Trotters’ Championship, two V L Dullard Cups, two South Australia Trotters’ Cups, four Cochran Cups, three Freestone Cups, three Chris Howe Cups and two Grand Slam Finals during the next nine seasons. Lang was also in the cart when True Roman accounted for Fair Tally and Simon Katz in the Moonee Valley Inter Dominion Final to complete a clean sweep of the time-honoured Championship. Like Smoken Up, True Roman was still performing solidly as a ‘greybeard’ before being retired as an 11-year-old with record earnings of $530,732 thanks to his 73 wins and 36 placings from 137 starts. As for this weekend’s event in True Roman’s honour, top trotter My High Expectations is the one to beat for trainer David Aiken despite drawing wide in barrier six. The American-bred son of Ken Warkentin has been kept fresh since his second in town on August 15, which followed a pair of impressive wins. - PAUL COURTS

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

Another one of Harnesslink's previews for the big day of harness racing at Melton on Sunday. First up this time it is the turn of the 4 year old mares. Breeders Crown 4 Year Old Mares Final One mare stands head and shoulders above the rest here and that of course is the outstanding racemare Frith. The winner of 28 races as well as 8 placings from just 37 starts, Frith has a major obstacle in her way to claim win number 29. Frith has drawn one on the second row and is going to need divine intervention at some point in the race if she is to add another trophy to the cabinet. The tactics here are all important but we feel Bruce Harpley may drop Frith back early to try to get away from the inside running line. If Frith can get off the inner in the first lap then she is still the horse to beat but the draw has definitely brought her right back to the field. Just as clearly second pick for us is the super consistent Im Smouldering who has only missed a placing four times in 42 starts. She has the master Gavin Lang in the bike and the draw of five is perfect for her. Im Smouldering will definitely work her way forward and has the all round game to win this race.  After those two mares it becomes a very even contest but we always like to stick with the proven class performers and that's what we have done here. Our Femme Fatale from barrier one is a major player but she will want to take a sit because if she leads she is a sitting duck for Frith. Who she hands up to is the big question but Arma Express looks the logical choice. The Western Australian Arma Express will definitely have a look for the lead from barrier three for her trainer /driver Donald Harper. Arma Express has only had two runs back from a long spell so should have derived further improvement from her gutsy run in the heat last Sunday. The other mare we like is Couageousnquick but her draw of six makes this a difficult ask for the talented mare. Chris Alford in the bike is a big plus and she is a major player here with the run to suit. SELECTIONS Even from the draw we are still drawn back to Frith. She is one hell of a racemare and with any kind of luck Frith will notch win number 29 on Sunday. The danger for us is undoubtedly Im Smouldering who looks back to her best after her tough run for second to Frith last Sunday in the heat. After that we think that Our Femme Fatale, Arma Express and Courageousnquick all have the talent to play a part in the finish. First four players should add The Baggy Green and Cenosilocophobia to the mix as cover. Breeders Crown 4 year Old Colts/Geldings Final The old saying that form is temporary and class is permanent is apt in the case of the outstanding four year old Bit Of A Legend. Sent to Perth in December last year for the Golden Nugget, the trip turned into a nightmare for  Bit Of A Legend and he returned to New Zealand with his tail between his legs. Nursed back to full fitness by Cran Dalgety, Bit Of A Legend had his first start back from the Perth disaster at Melton last Sunday in a Breeders Crown heat. Wide early and then parked there after, Bit Of A Legend just absolutely blew them away when Dexter Dunn asked him to run at the 400 meters mark. He should take a huge amount of improvement out of his first run for over nine months and even from six on the second row Bit Of A Legend is first pick for us.  The obvious danger is Chilli Palmer who has drawn at barrier five on the front line. He likes to launch off a horses back and is not renowned for doing it tough but he does have a lightning sprint if held up for that one run. Chilli Palmer will go back at the start and look for that slingshot run at them late in the piece. The Tasmanian Pachacuti has really been in the zone lately but faces his stiffest test from four on the second line. Still a major player and can rough it but the draw has hurt his winning prospects in our view.. The winner should come from those three runners we have previewed. The next two after the leading trio are Marty Monkhouser and Lettucefib who could both run in three with a run to suit. SELECTIONS  Bit Of A Legend is shooting for his third Breeders Crown title on Sunday and we think he will bag number three. A combination of a great horse, trainer and driver means Bit Of A Legend picks himself in our view. Chilli Palmer is a clear second pick as he has beaten Guaranteed and Smoken Up this season so he has all the ability in the world. The only negative is his racing style but as he has shown in the past he can overcome that. Pachacuti has won ten of his last eleven and winning can become a habit. His trainer Barrie Rattray is top class and Pachacuti will be primed to run the race of his life on Sunday. Marty Monkhouser and Lettucefib are the next two runners we like while first four players should include Flaming Flutter and Lochinver as cover. Harnesslink Media

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