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A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ......................................................................   Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Thursday’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting belonged to Riddell trainer Adam Kelly and stable reinsman Gavin Lang, Kelly chalking up a stable treble and Lang a driving quartet. Four-year-old Mach Three/Going Royce gelding Pushkin was first to greet the judge in the SEW-Eurodrive Pace for R2 to R4 class over 2240 metres. Trapped in the open from gate three in the early stages, Pushkin extended to cross the surprise pacemaker Danish King and Pushkin enjoyed a sweet time at the head of affairs. Kicking clear at the straight entrance, Pushkin just lasted from a flying Jeans Mattjesty, which had been at the tail of the field for most of the trip, scoring by a nose in a rate of 2:06.5, with Voce (one/one – three wide home turn) an eye-catching third when first-up since April. Kiwi-bred Art Major/Strathrowan filly Dazzling Arded was next to come along in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 1720 metres. First-up since June and on debut in Australia, Dazzling Arden starting from gate two on the second line raced three-wide for most of the trip, with the polemarker Shes Pinkalicious retaining the front running. Showing plenty of intestinal fortitude, Dazzling Arden outstayed her rivals to record a 2.8-metre victory in 2:01.5 over the first-starter Kristy Ann Hanover along the sprint lane after trailing the leader. Richly Deserved (four-wide home turn) from last looked a big chance on straightening and finished third. Ex-Sunraysia seven-year-old gelding Eyes On The Sky, having his first outing since May 2013, was a tough victor of the Woodlands Stud Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres. Making his first appearance for the stable, Eyes On The Sky a son of D M Dilinger and Gipsy Belle who’s most recent victory had been at Mildura on May 26, 2013 raced in the open from gate five, proving too strong over the concluding stages for Pas Mate (one/two – three wide home turn) which joined him halfway up the running appearing to be going better, with Bucksaroo third after following the runner up throughout. The mile rate 2:05.1. Lang was the “punters pal” on the day, also snaring the Pegasus Club 3Y0 Pace over 1720 metres aboard the Sue Hunter (Melton) trained Kenneth J/Artistic Dash gelding Kool Kenny. Given a beaut trip one/one from gate five, Kool Kenny was switched to the sprint lane on straightening, scoring by a half-neck from Gowan Loch, which led from the pole, and Daddywho (three back the markers) The mile rate 2:00.6. It was a great day for the Macedon Ranges district with Kyneton duo Greg and Steve Leight taking the Aldebaran Park 3Y0 Trotters Handicap over 2240 metres with Lawman/Kellybrooke gelding Law Legend, leading all of the way from barrier two, accounting for Eureka Encounter and Fire To Rain in a rate of 2:12.3 in appalling conditions. Four-year-old Britewell/Jenola Bay gelding Our St Pierre gave Bolinda’s Brent Lilley another winner for the week when successful in the tab.com.au Trotters Handicap for TRO & TR1 class over 2240 metres in a rate of 2:09.5. With Chris Alford in the spider, Our St Pierre starting from the 10 metre mark settled six back along the markers, with Atego Turbo beginning like a rocket from outside 10 metres to lead. Moving to be one/one racing for the bell, Our St Pierre was eased three wide on the final bend and finished strongly to gain the day in advance of Our Elvis which moved to face the breeze at the bell before striding clear on the home turn. Only One Aussie which trailed the weakening pacemaker finished third. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria  

Whereibylong scored a seemingly effortless win in heat eight of the Breeders Crown three-year-old fillies’ series at Bendigo on last night. Driven by Gavin Lang for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, Whereibylong finished over eight metres clear of runner-up Our Santa Catalina in a rate of 1:58.6. Whereibylong finished off in a last half-mile of 56 seconds, running her opponents ragged despite not leaving second gear, says Tonkin. “Gavin never had to pull the plugs,” Tonkin said. “I’d actually say it was a soft run.” Whereibylong dominated the recent Breeders Challenge series at Menangle, romping home in the Group 1 final by almost seven metres after proving too good in the heat and semi-final. The fact she seems completely adept on the sometimes tricky Menangle track was a big tick, said Tonkin, and should bode well for her in coming seasons. “She’s a great filly. She came through Sydney really well. “She’ll definitely (go on to) race in open class.” Already a Breeders Crown champion (as a two-year-old), Whereibylong has had 13 wins and three minor placings from 21 starts for prizemoney of $340,457. David Moran trained-and-driven Our Santa Catalina boxed on for second after working in the breeze, while Charlie Wootton trained Madison Louise finished third for driver Greg Sugars. The other three-year-old fillies’ Crown heat last night was taken out by David Aiken trained Quick Draft for driver Chris Alford. Quick Draft, which started $1.30 on the tote, romped home by 12.1 metres despite working three-wide early and punching the breeze thereafter. Her winning mile rate was 1:58.0 with a last half of 57.8 seconds. Tuscan Breeze ran second for Stewart/Tonkin and Lang, while Kiss Kenny was third beaten 24.1m for trainer Greg Hansen and driver Danielle Lewis. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Victoria)

Chris Alford took a 10-win lead in the metropolitan drivers’ premiership – and won his 264th race for the Victorian season – last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Alford drove a winning double to take his state premiership buffer to a whopping 69 wins over second-placed Greg Sugars (195) with Gavin Lang in third on 179. Craig Demmler-trained Blitzthemcalder opened Alford’s account last night with victory in the first race on the card, the Aldebaran Park Trot. Alford steered the long odds-on favourite to the lead early from outside the front row, the four-year-old then running his rivals into the ground to score a 16m win. Alford doubled up in Race 8 with Tandias Bromac saluting by nearly three metres for trainer Amanda Grieve. Tandias Bromac clocked a winning mile rate of 1:55.5 over the 1720m sprint trip. The in-form father-son team of Ross and Greg Sugars collected the night’s black-type event, the Harness Breeders (Vic) Lightfoot Laurels, with four-year-old trotter Quite A Moment. Quite A Moment caught the spot behind the leader’s back early when Paris Pepperell ran to the lead before being pocketed three-markers when Vics Cheval took the lead at the bell. Sugars angled Quite A Moment into the sprint lane in the home straight before the mare sprinted sharply to overhaul Shes An Image, who came with a run out wide, and Vics Cheval, who battled on for third. Maximan (Andy and Kate Gath) and Exciteusinthecity (Darren Cole and Tim McLean) took out the two heats of the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup. Maximan clocked a winning mile rate of 1:57.2 in his short-half-head win over Beauty Secret, while Exciteusinthecity found the lead from gate two and ran 1:56.2 in winning, ripping down the back straight in 27.6 before recording a last half mile of 55.9 seconds. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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 yarravalleyracing.com.au 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

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