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Messini’s rise to harness racing stardom continued last night at Bendigo. The pacer, whose racing style is to keep his head low, stick his neck out and storm forward like a bullying gridiron hulk barging through would-be tacklers, never looked like getting beat. With Chris Alford in the sulky for trainer Brent Lilley, Messini came home with a 57-second last half to score a 4.6-metre victory in the ninth heat of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old colts and geldings. The high-class son of Art Major led from gate three and toyed with his rivals, only Glen Craven’s lightly raced Jilliby Jagger able to get within a bull’s roar of the winner at the end, the Terang pacer 4.6m behind in second. With a 1:57.5 mile rate – easily the quickest of the three Crown heats on the night – Messini looks cherry ripe for the semi-finals, with a decision to be made regarding whether the pacer remains with Lilley for the business end of the series or heads back to Lilley’s close mate and New Zealand’s leading trainer, Mark Purdon. Purdon sent Messini and Kept Under Wraps to Lilley for the lead-up to the Breeders Crown and Lilley has both horses firing on all cylinders. Messini Other heat winners last night were Will Mach My Word for trainer Geoff Webster with Emmett Brosnan in the chair, the son of Mach Three leading from go to whoa, and Dream Away gelding Hectorjayjay for Bill and Simone Walker, which scored by over 12m in a rate of 2:00.4 in the last race on the card. Will Mach My Word Hectorjayjay by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Parwan’s Jodi Quinlan took driving honours at Tabcorp Park Melton last night with a winning double. Sunset Invasion kicked off proceedings with victory in Race 1, the first heat of the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup, the long odds-on favourite scoring a comfortable win over Unico Pegasus and Stephen John in a mile rate of two minutes even. Two races later Quinlan produced a perfectly timed drive aboard Valley Of Diamonds to upset heavily backed favourite Garibaldi in the $10,000 Guaranteed First 4 Pools Pace over 2240m. The second heat of the Trotters Cup went to Brief Glance for Bacchus Marsh father-daughter team Alan and Amy Tubbs. The six-year-old gelding sat three-wide for the last lap, clocked a mile rate of 2:01.7 and came home in a last half-mile of 58.9secs, scoring a tough half-neck win over Mister Gunsen, with odds-on favourite Our Dreamlover third. Hamilton trainer David Lewis and reinsman Matthew Craven combined for victory in the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace over 1720m with Amajorjo, a talented five-year-old by Art major out of smart mare Jolaura, getting home by 7.9m over Magical Telf, with Discrimination a further 1.4m away in third. The winner’s mile rate was a slick 1:55.1, the last half covered in 55.9secs. Punters copped a blow when $33.20 shot Kotare Rowland saluted victorious in the Vermont Panels Enduro over 2760m for trainer Geoff Webster and driver Emmett Brosnan. Brosnan drove a patient race aboard the five-year-old son of Julius Caesar, coming from well back along the pegs to get up in the last hop over race favourite Five Star Anvil, while Our Blackbird ran a good race for third after getting checked early. Lite Jagermeister returned to her best form with victory in the Tab.com.au Pace over 2240m, the Riddells Creek-trained chestnut mare from the Adam Kelly stable proving 3.2m too strong for long-shot Amazing Kano, who never shirked the issue in the home straight and was brave in defeat, wihle Essbee Doubleyou ran on well for third. The Renown Silverware Pace Final wrapped up the night with Ken Whelan’s five-year-old gelding Kisartis scoring his first win since last July with a half-head victory over Mary Mon. The even-money favourite Suerte finished third, with the winner’s mile rate 2:00.2.   FAST FACTS FROM LAST NIGHT'S MELTON MEETING * Quaddie paid $6991 on numbers 9-7-1-2 * Early quaddie paid $898.10 on numbers 6-9-6-9 * Fastest mile rate: Amajorjo 1:55.1 * Most wins by driver: Jodi Quinlan (2) By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Allendale East  harness racing trainer David Kemp enjoyed a red letter day at Hamilton this afternoon with a winning double. Kemp’s ultra-consistent five-year-old gelding Arr En Special took out the PDF Food Services Pace to give the trainer the first leg of his winning double, narrowly holding out hot favourite Flaming Hero after an excellent drive from talented young reinsman Jason Lee. Kemp’s mare, Forced Out, then prevailed from pole in the last race, the Logical Property Services Pace, again with Lee the winning reinsman. Kerryn Manning also drove a winning double on the program, opening with two-year-old gelding Jereme Jetsetter in the first, the Hunt’s Auto Spaces 2YO Pace, for trainer Peter Manning, before taking out the fourth race, the Ward’s Jewellers Ladies Challenge Pace aboard Kankkunen for Burrumbeet trainer Kati Gunn, over Sir Dasher Dee for Marnie Bibby and Tara Tom for Jamie-Lee King. In other races, Lovable Nick won the Alexandra House Trotters Handicap at big odds over Brian Kiesey-trained pair Candy Digger and Master Kiesey in second and third. Lovable Nick won by 4.6m in a mile rate of 2:04.3. Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan combined to win the Trevor Krause 3YO Pace over 1660m, defeating runner-up In The Trenches by a head, with 5m back to Goodtime Blackie in third place. The mile rate was 1:56.2 with the last half in 58.8secs. Matthew Craven took out the Graham and Mary Torbet Memorial Pace over 1660m with seven-year-old mare Shards Of Ice. Craven, who rarely misses a win at a Hamilton meeting, settled his $34 shot three back along the pegs before bursting through in the sprint lane for a barnstorming win. The mare ran a slick mile rate of 1:53.9. Drumborg’s Kevin Brough combined with Ararat driver Michael Bellman to win the Judith Astbury Pace with Modern Art four-year-old mare Just Like Elle. She scored by 2.6m over Whisper Away, with Sign No More in third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:57.4. Harness racing heads to Kilmore tomorrow night for a huge 10-event card, with the first race at 5.05pm. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Washington Heritage may be all the talk in tomorrow night’s Mildura Pacing Cup after winning 13 from his first 14 starts but Geoff Webster’s affinity with the week-long carnival has become almost impossible to resist. He of course trained pacer-turned-trotter Mister Zion to win the 2010 Mildura  Pacing Cup before he made the switch. And last season Flaming Flutter crushed his rivals in the Mildura Guineas while this year he has already cruised to a win in his Cup heat on Tuesday night. Now, the stage is set for a showdown of epic proportions as the pair square off again for one of the biggest regional features of the year; Flaming Flutter drawn three, Washington Heritage in seven. The leading Bannockburn trainer couldn’t be happier with his charge going into the race. “He had an easy trip in his heat, it really was a good lead in to the final,” Webster said. “He hasn’t really fulfilled his potential yet; he is always on the improve and he just keeps taking the next step so I’m sure whatever he does this season he be in the top level without any problems next year. “He’s only a four-year-old so probably the Breeders Crown later in the year is his main aim so whether I give him a break now I’m not quite sure but at the end of the day he will have a break after the Crown.” But Webster might have his greatest thrill for the weekend a world away at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The exquisitely bred Mach Doro, a half-brother to Fly Like An Eagle, will tune up for the APG semi-finals when he takes on a small field in his heat. Webster isn’t one for making brash statements but his assessment of the debutante winner is enough to make most stand up and take notice.  “He’s the best two-year-old I’ve had, he’s got gait speed and he is very well-mannered, he just ticks all the boxes. It’s going to take a very good horse to beat him,” he said. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

The Choice Hotels Carnival of Country Cups continued at Boort in Central Victoria on Sunday March 16, with the oldest surviving trotting club in the state (established 1891), staging their once a year event in front of a very large crowd. The feature of the day – the $14,505 Loddon Valley Stud Boort Pacing Cup for C5 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2612 metres on the small 712 metre circuit attracted a small field of eight, with Tontine winner Flaming Flutter an almost unbackable favourite ($1.20). Trained at Bannockburn by Geoff Webster, Flaming Flutter with regular reinsman Greg Sugars handling the ribbons scrambled slightly from barrier five, before being sent forward once balanced to tackle Flash Of Freedom for the front running, taking over at the judge on the first occasion. Although Narra Operative shadowed him most of the way, Flaming Flutter was coasting at the head of affairs and kicked clear on the home turn to register an untouched 5.2 metre victory over Narra Operative who stuck to his guns well in a new track record mile rate of 2-02.7 (last half mile 57.6 – quarter 27.4). Farmersntradies finished third 8.7 metres away after a one/one trip. Raced by Geelong residents Ron Anderson, Neil Richmond and Garth Allen, Flaming Flutter a Kiwi bred four year old entire by Bettors Delight from Twice As Hot has fronted the starter on 25 occasions for 12 wins and has plenty more to come his way. The other attraction of the afternoon being the $14,505 Doyles Boomspraying Boort Trotters Cup for T5 or better class (D-H) over 21612 metres which saw injury plagued seven year old pacing bred Grinfromeartoear / Hiclass Souix mare Paparazzi Snapshot successful in a mile rate of 2-07.4. Trained at Ararat by Brook Hansen for her family, Paparazzi Snapshot driven by Kerryn Manning stepped safely from barrier two on the second line to immediately possie outside the leader Gazoline which bounded clear from barrier five as the tapes released, whereas the red-hot favourite Unico Crown galloped away from barrier two refusing to settle and was tailed off. Keeping the leader honest all through the race, Paparazzi Snapshot crossed to lead approaching the final bend, with Theywannacallmesue (one/two – three wide at bell) joining her to issue a serious challenge and momentarily take a slender margin on the home turn. Under vigorous driving, Paparazzi Snapshot rallied in the straight to record a strong 5.8 metre victory over Enjoy A Coldie along the sprint lane after being held up by the weakening Gazoline which he followed throughout, with Theywannacallmesue dying on his run to be 1.4 metres away in third place. Len Baker  Harness Racing Victoria

Champion  Australian reinsman Gavin Lang captured his fourth Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship, in a tight three race series at the Horsham Racing Centre on Monday afternoon. Lang was making his 20th appearance in the prestigious contest and posted early points on the tally board, when he piloted the 5yo mare, Mintropolitan to an all-the-way victory in the opening heat, for SA trainer Jake Webster. Tasmanian driver Gareth Rattray put himself into the contest, courtesy of a tough staying effort by David Van Ryn’s smart 3YO gelding Time Capsule in the 2nd heat.  Lang maintained his position at the top of the table, with a close up third on Ideal Majority for Bannockburn trainer Geoff Webster. Youthful SA horseman Ryan Hryhorec captured the final round with the Kerryn Manning trained pacer Itz Dreamin Jonesy. Lang came in midfield with Big Gorilla but maintained a slight margin to take out the 24th Horsham title. At the other end of the points table, a countback saw former Horsham Club President Garry Chequer present the dreaded Wooden Spoon to Queensland reinsman Grant Dixon, with Daryl Douglas breathing a sigh of relief. Lang, aged 53, is almost in the veteran category, but the winner of 5000+  races is still driving in red-hot form. His Horsham Invitation crown comes right on the back of two recent Group 1 victories at Menangle and 4 wins from 5 drives at Devonport for trainer Adam Kelly, just the night before heading to Horsham. Monday must have been a long day for the Harness Hall Of Famer. After catching a 6am flight out of Devonport to Tullamarine, it was an hour’s drive home to Bacchus Marsh and nearly 3 hours more, along the Western Highway to Horsham. Four drives later and with a new Challenger sulky on board, it was off again in the truck heading for home. Finally around 10.00pm, it was time to put the feet up before enjoying a well deserved, good night’s sleep. Gavin Lang. Mr. 5000. Harness Racing Legend. Congratulations.  By Anthony Logan

Defending champion Keystone Del is among the list of horses being considered for the Australian team for the Glenferrie Farm Trotters Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2. With five Australian trotters and as many from New Zealand to be invited to contest the $200,000 Group One, the Nicole Molander-trained gelding is one of nine that could possibly line-up for what already looks to be a strong Australian team. Others dominate in the minds of selectors include the David Aiken-trained duo My High Expectations and Cold Sister as well as star squaregaiter Blitzthemcalder. Kyvalley Blur who is trained by master trotting conditioner Chris Lang senior, former pacer Mister Zion as well as Elegant Image, Aleppo Midas and Stoned I Am are considerations also. While the Australian team will be finalised in the coming weeks following the results of races, the New Zealand representatives have been selected. The New Zealand team being selected early to allow for travel are Dullard Cup winner Habibti, Danish Derby winner Peak, Anzac Cup victor Stent, Hellers Dominion winner Master Lavros and recent National Trot winner Irish Whisper. Three reserves have been added to the team being Vulcan, The Fiery Ginga and Sovereignty who could be called upon if neccessary. Team New Zealand: Master Lavros (trainer Mark Jones) Stent (trainer Colin De Filippi) Peak (trainer Tim Butt) Irish Whisper (trainer Tony Herlihy) Habibti (trainer David Butt) Reserves Vulcan (trainer Tim Butt) The Fiery Ginga (trainer Alan Clark) Sovereignty (Trainer Sean McCaffrey) Team Australia*: My High Expectations (trainer David Aiken) Kyvalley Blur (trainer Chris Lang) Mister Zion (trainer Geoff Webster) Keystone Del (trainer Nicole Molander) Elegant Image (trainer Andy Gath) Blitzthemcalder (trainer Dean Braun) Aleppo Midas (trainer Michael Eastman) Cold Sister (trainer David Aiken) Stoned I Am (trainer Bill Walker) *Five to be selected and one reserve

It was Jim Phillips Memorial Cobram Pacing Cup Day on Friday December 28, with a bumper crowd of Murray River holiday makers enjoying the nine race harness racing card. Bannockburn trainer Geoff Webster having won three of the past five - Genuine Star (2008), Mister Zion (2009) and Lets Slash An Burn (2010), was looking to make it four with much travelled gelding Rakarebel, as was Melton based reinsman Greg Sugars aboard the Webster elect, after guiding Genuine Star, Lets Slash An Burn and Jaccka Clive to victory in 2011 for Avenel’s David Aiken. The $25,000 feature for M0 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2678 metres attracted a small but quality field, with prolific winning Jaccka Clive (one of four runners from the Aiken barn) the 20 metre backmarker. Last year’s successful trainer Tim Butt made it back to back cup victories, when five year old Grinfromeartoear - Against The Wind gelding Pass Them By with John Caldow in the sulky prevailed. Beginning brilliantly from barrier four, Pass Them By pounced on the lead, with Uncle Wingnut from outside the front line moving outside him, polemarker Washmepockets trailing the leader, Rakarebel (barrier two) one/one being followed by Wartime Sweetheart and stablemate Smudge Bromac from the 10 metre mark, with Jaccka Clive last. Composed settled three back the markers, with stablemates Lovable Larrikin and Jaydens Castle trailing him. With no moves being made until the last lap, Wartime Sweetheart was eased three wide to commence a forward move, giving Jaccka Clive a ride home and Smudge Bromac working between runners. Joining Pass Them By on the final bend, Wartime Sweetheart issued a strong challenge, however Pass Them By after a relative easy trip, rallied to gain the day by a head in a punishing finish, with Washmepockets using the sprint lane for third just in advance of Composed which also made use of the inside run. Rated to perfection by Caldow in quarters of 29.6, 30.1, 28.4 and 28.5 for the last mile, Pass Them By raced by a large number of stable clients returned a new track record mile rate of 1-59.5, bettering Mister Zion’s 1-59.9 by .4 seconds. The other highlight of the afternoon being the $15,000 Central Murray Credit Union Cobram Trotters Cup for TM0 or better class (D-H) over 2678 metres, with victory going the way of David Aiken’s all American bred seven year old Ken Warkentin - Kovel rig My High Expectations, obliterating the track record by two seconds. Well in on handicaps to start from a 20 metre backmark, My High Expectations stepped cleanly with old timer Oi You beginning best to lead from barrier three, before surrendering to the Kiwi Thanesan entering the front straight on the first occasion. Biding his time with most of the field ahead of him, My Expectations moved to be one/one mid-race when I See Icy Earl ahead of him eased away from the markers to lead up the outside division before taking cover on Bellingham from last. Taken four wide in the final circuit, My High Expectations quickly joined Thanesan on the home turn and raced away to score by 6.8 metres in a mile rate of 2-01.3 (last half 58 seconds – quarter 28.9) over Thanesan who was game in defeat, with I See Icy Earl (three wide last lap) third 5.1 metres away. It was My High Expectations 23rd victory from only 71 outings. David reaped all of the rewards, as apart from training and driving the winner, he also races him. An interesting winner on the day was nine year old Panorama - Regal Sarnel gelding Regalramapleasure for Chiltern trainer Peter Romero who despite winning eleven races (mostly in three year old and restricted events over the years), started in the C1 class Clydesdale Hotel Pace over 2170 metres thanks to the drop back system. Driven by Nathan Jack, Regalramapleasure led throughout from gate five, defeating Pelling and Smart Sista in a rate of 2-00.3 when having his first outing since Melbourne Cup Day. Videos of the two Cups are attached. by Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

Melton trainer/driver Lance Justice’s 7-Y-0 Christian Cullen/Flying Flo gelding Alchemy showed vast improvement to land the Graeme Lang Free For All for C7 or better class over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Thursday November 21. One of four runners from the Justice stable – the others being Dominus Vobiscum, The Smiler and Because I Can, Alchemy which had been racing in much weaker grade over the past few weeks was sent forward to cross the pole marker Giveusagrim shortly after the start. With a number of more fancied runners making forward moves including Jaccka Clive, Youranut, Mustang Mach and Broadways Best prior to the bell with Youranut first up since July occupying the breeze for the final circuit, leaving Mustang Mach on a limb three wide with Broadways Best on his back and Jaccka Clive one/one after surprisingly handing over the death-seat. Tackled strongly by Youranut on straightening, Alchemy ($16.80) fought back like a caged tiger to gain the day by a head after being momentarily headed in a rate of 1-57 (last half 56.2 – quarter 27.2), with Broadways Best third after peeling wide halfway up the running. Brother John Justice was also a winner on the program, snaring the Reg Cooper Claiming Pace over 2240 metres with $56.80 chance Whodareswins, a 7-Y-0 daughter of Presidential Ball and Mumtaz Mahal who registered her first success since July 2012 when successful at Spreyton (Tasmania). Given a sweet passage from the pole trailing the pacemaker Astral Flight after leading out, Whodareswins in a punishing finish prevailed by half head in 1-58.8 after using the sprint lane to defeat Astral Flight trained by sister Joanne Justice with Brian Gath in the sulky, with Run Forrest close up in third place after racing in the open from the bell. Bendigo’s Matt Gath was in the winners stall when promising Yankee Spider/Kingsford Ado 4-Y-0 mare Ifu Seek Flight greeted the judge in the Gus Underwood Trotters Mobile for T1 & T2 class over 1720 metres in a rate of 2-03.2. Enjoying an easy trip from the pole following the pacemaker Marios Dream, Gath angled Ifu Seek Flight away from the inside on straightening and she finished best to score by 2 metres in advance of Mallee Trapper which raced wide from the bell. Drop Us A Line ran her usual honest race to finish third after trailing the winner and using the sprint lane. Raced by Michael Taranto of Seelite Windows & Doors fame, Ifu Seek Flight has raced 12 times for 4 wins. Rochester  trainer Mark Thompson has an impeccable record when taking a horse to the races and landed the Rob Merola 3-Y-0 Pace over 2240 metres with Total Truth/Karamea Toastime filly Lies. With stable reinsperson Ellen Tormey in the sulky, Lies raced by Mark and wife Sue having her first outing since July, led throughout from the pole, defeating Geoff Webster’s Tuscan Breeze which shadowed her and Phoebe Jack (three back the markers) in a rate of 2-01.5. Parwan part-owner/trainer Jaime Madruga combined with Gavin Lang to snare the Gunbower Cup Sunday Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2240 metres with 5-Y-0 D M Dilinger/Jaja gelding Amazing Kano who can put a run in every so often. Despite racing in the open from gate five outside Discrimination, Amazing Kano surged clear on turning to win by 6.4 metres in 2-00 even over Nimble Jack off a three wide trail last lap on the back of the third placegetter Jasmine Sheffield. Gisborne’s Brendan Said provided a shock winner in 6-Y-0 Jaguar Cam/Meadow Glory mare Dainty Cloud who took out the Lisa Miles Pace for C2 class over 1720 metres in a rate of 1-57.4. Taking advantage of a mares concession, Dainty Cloud was given every opportunity one/one from gate two, with Lance Justice’s Medonc crossing This Is Your Life shortly after the start leaving Our Miss Vivienne in the breeze. Taken into the clear halfway up the running, Dainty Cloud ($42.80) finished too well for a game Our Miss Vivienne, scoring by 1.1 metres, with Medonc third. Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan combined to land the Harness Breeders (Vic) Pace for C1 class over 1720 metres with ultra consistent 4-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Big Time Babe mare Bit Of A Babe, leading all of the way from gate four in accounting for Union Belle (one/two) and Lady Suffragette which raced in the open from the bell. The mile rate 1-57.5. By Len Baker  

Dean Braun and Chris Alford took out the 2013 Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup with rising star Chancellor Cullen on Sunday. Starting second favourite on the day, last week’s Nyah Cup runner-up made amends in almost track record time when blistering around the course in a 2:01.2 mile rate with a slashing 55.8 last half. Restrepo, from the Emma Stewart team, was a brave second just over seven metres away whilst Mustang Mach finished third. The win was Chancellor Cullen’s 10th in just 15 Australian starts and moved him one step closer to Grand Circuit glory which he now looks set to tackle later this season. Race favourite Bitobliss worked from his 20-metre handicap to find the death seat in the middle stages but faded late to finish last of the main brigade. The Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club Kilmore Trotters Cup went to Group 1-winning pacer turned trotter in Mister Zion as he rolled odds-on favourite Elegant Image. Starting from the 40-metre back mark, Geoff Webster’s son of Red River Hanover worked three wide in the last lap to take it up to Prettylilangeleyes and Elegant Image who worked to the chair mid-race. The two tote elects raced away from their rivals in the straight with Mister Zion getting the upper hand by two metres at the post from Elegant Image with Prettylilangeleyes a further four metres away in third. The race was completed in a mile rate of 2:03.9 with the last half coming in 61.4secs. Catch Your Breath caused an upset in the days other feature race, the Grange Cleveland Popular Alm Sprint. Race favourite Five Star Anvil, who was well backed during the week, led from the pole before handing over to Smoken Up who made a mid-race dash around the field despite starting from inside the second row. After being afforded a lovely run by in-form reinsmen Chris Alford in the middle stages, Catch Your Breath raced up and grabbed the lead from Smoken Up in the straight to win by 1.7 metres with Born Again Sassy just under two metres away in third. The mile rate came in a speedy 1:53.9 with the last half split in 28.1sec quarters. The major achievement on the day came however after the main race with Chris Alford driving his 5000th career winner behind Macho Camacho, again for Dean Braun. Alford’s run to the magical figure has sped since the start of August and despite being out for a time with injury, he has officially become just the second driver, behind Gavin Lang, in the southern hemisphere to reach the milestone. Videos attached by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

A neat and compact meeting was held at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday September 27, featuring the $20,000 Claiming Masters Final and the $16,000 tab.com.au Pace for M2 to M4 class. Smiles of joy turned to disappointment following the victory of six-year-old Aces N Sevens/Alesco gelding Cut For An Ace in the University Foods Claiming Masters Final over 2240 metres. Trained at Bacchus Marsh by Alan Tubbs, Cut For An Ace driven by daughter Amy was sent forward from gate five to stroll past Thats Mister Ali inside him shortly after the start and proceeded to run his rivals ragged. Kicking away on straightening, Cut For An Ace (claiming price $25,000) scored by an untouched 12.7 metres in a brilliant mile rate of 1-55.7 over Smudge Bromac from near last and Kotare Roland (one/one) which trailed the heavily supported favourite Catch Your Breath. Cut For An Ace who in winning chalked up his 13th victory in 62 outings, was claimed in the race and will do his future racing in the care of Geoff Webster at Bannockburn in the Geelong area. Hamilton part-owner/trainer David Lewis’ quality six-year-old Bettors Delight/Frosty Mattina gelding Abettorpunt resumed from a short break with a brilliant near last to first performance to take out the fast class event over 2240 metres. Driven by Matt Craven, Abettorpunt starting from the extreme draw settled at the tail of the field, with the roughie Pinevale Willpower leading from gate four. Although wide in the final circuit, Abettorpunt raced away on straightening to record a 7-metre victory in advance of Saint Flash and Victors Delight in a mile rate of 1-57.9. It was Abettorpunt’s 19th victory in 45 outings. Bolinda co-trainers Kari and Paul Males brought up another Melton victory with nine-year-old Sundon/Tender Annie gelding Tender Don listed in the racebook as being trained by Kari, taking out the $16,000 Glenferrie Farm Trotters Mobile for TM1 to TM3 class over 2240 metres in a mile rate of 2-00.8.. Driven by Greg Sugars, Tender Don (gate five) had little difficulty in crossing Jingling Silver (gate two) shortly after the start, before coasting to the wire 10.4 metres in advance of a game Prettylilangeseyes (one/one – outside winner home turn) after galloping in the score up. Armed Guard finished third. Avenel horseman David Aiken has been having a great run in recent weeks (especially around the provincials) and landed the Aldebaran Park Trotters Mobile for TMO class over 1720 metres at Melton with Kiwi bred mare Brylin Crescent in a slick rate of 1-59.5. Driven by David, Brylin Crescent a seven-year-old daughter of Brylin Boy and Another Starlet led virtually throughout from gate two, easily accounting for Goldstar Invasion (one/one) which raced outside her for the last lap. Just Call Me Earl came from last to finish an eye catching third. Next Friday’s Melton program will feature the $50,000 (Group 2) City Of Melton Plate for four and five-year-olds over 2240 metres and promises to be one of the highlights of the season. Len Baker

Local (Dunnstown) trainer/driver David Murphy snared a stable double at Bray Raceway Ballarat on Wednesday September 25, with a pair of Modern Art four year old entires - much improved Desdon Murruffy taking the Megamerch Rural Merchandise Pace for C0 class over 2200 metres and Super Zeck the Peter McErvale Real Estate Trotters Mobile for T0 & T1 class over the same distance. Desdon Murruffy a daughter of the Smooth Fella mare Spellmaker was driven forward from gate six to cross the leader Bazzas Art (Art Major) inside him and travelled beautifully throughout, safely holding a margin to the wire in defeating Bazzas Art by 1.9 metres in a rate of 1-58.3, with Doey Doeback third after following the pair. Super Zeck from the Beach Towel mare Me Dolli Kit a winner of eleven races, began safely from outside the front row, with Murphy immediately sending him forward to park outside the pacemaker Ballan Road (gate three). Applying plenty of pressure to the leader approaching the home turn, Super Zeck unplaced in 12 previous outings outstayed his rivals to record a half head victory over Tribal Fella which trailed the leader gaining a late split in a rate of 2-03.4, with Ballan Road fighting on strongly to finish third 1.2 metres away. Great Western trainer Michelle Manning’s tough Elsu/Whatsonyamind 5-Y-0 gelding Pacquiao adapted to claiming company by winning the Tradelink Ballarat Claiming Pace over 1710 metres in 1-56.4 and in doing so made it three wins from his past four outings. Driven by Matt Craven, Pacquiao (Claiming price $7,000) raced in the open throughout from gate five, before outstaying the pacemaker Highview Spirit to score by 4.3 metres. All Honour (four wide home turn) came from last to finish third. Bannockburn (Geelong) trainer Geoff Webster has Kiwi bred 6-Y-0 Sierra Kosmos/Roydon Action gelding Action Kosmos racing in peak form and was rewarded by taking the National Tiles Trotters Handicap for T2 or better class over 2200 metres, bringing up his 3rd victory in 32 outings. Driven by the stable’s Emmett Brosnan, Action Kosmos after starting from outside the front row was sent forward shortly after the start to cross Mother Nature which pounced on the lead from barrier two as the tapes released. Travelling boldly, Action Kosmos defied all challengers to register a 3 metre victory in an easy 2-05.1 from the ever reliable Happy Hombre which raced in the open, with Rostevarren (four back the markers last lap) flashing home late to finish third just in advance of Mother Nature which was held up all the way to the wire. Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart was also to chalk up a stable double with Bettors Delight/Party Baby gelding Fearless Leader (Ian McMahon) taking the Matthews Joinery & Kitchen Centre Pace for C5 & C6 class over 2200 metres and Village Jasper/Childers Vision gelding Goodtime Veejay (Michael Stanley), both leading virtually throughout. by Len Baker  

Caribbean Blaster has been named the 2012/13 Victorian Horse of the Year. In a unanimous decision, the horse from Andy and Kate Gath's Long Forrest stable enjoyed a breakout season on the Grand Circuit which saw a string of Group 1 performances. His win in the Victoria Cup will long be remembered as a triumph against adversity; starting from the extreme gate he was sent out a 30/1 chance but blew his rivals apart in the Tabcorp Park Melton straight. Leaving champions Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up in his wake, he continued his brilliant early season form which saw him unplaced only three times in 14 starts. His Inter Dominion heat win was followed by an unlucky fifth in the Grand Final at Menangle. Many might have thought that would see him out for the season, but that wasn't the case. He returned to Melton in the Hot To Trot Stampede and produced a breathtaking performance to defeat his rivals by over 10 metres in the 1200-metre dash. Caribbean Blaster's season throughout 2012/13 demonstrated he has transformed into one of Australia's leading pacers. With a racetrack return not far off, the son of Bettors Delight is sure to be mixing it in each of the Grand Circuit races he contests in the next 12 months. Andy Gath spoke glowingly the morning after his superstar pacer received the honour. "It's not something you train horses to do, win awards, but it's a massive thrill when it comes up," Gath said. "We didn't really think about it until the nominations came out and then we thought we actually might win Horse Of The Year. "He'll come back this season and we all know how good he is, make no mistake there are some top horses out there like Bitobliss and Im Themightyquinn, it's just exciting to have our guy back next Friday." For the second year running a two-year-old has taken the Trotter of the Year award. Im Stately thoroughly dominated his juvenile squaregaiting rivals through the Vicbred Super Series and Breeders Crown. His flawless gait and high cruising speed made him a joy for punters and participants to watch as he crushed his competition in the season's biggest races. Last term's Trotter of the Year, Blitzthemcalder, took out the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year to make it consecutive wins in his age and gender category. A winner of the Great Northern Derby in New Zealand, he continued to carve out brilliant times and made it clear that when he is on song, there aren't many better squaregaiters in the land. The Industry Awards were also distributed for the participants who work tirelessly all year round and there weren't too many shocks. Based on premiership results, the Victorian State Trainer of the Year was taken by the Sunraysia's leading light, Shayne Cramp. Cramp took domination to a new level last season, training 155 winners at a strike-rate of over 30%. He was joined by Lance Justice who took the award for the Leading Metropolitan Trainer, one win clear of Geoff Webster. Chris Alford (Leading State Driver), Gavin Lang (Leading Metropolitan Driver) and Ellen Tormey (Leading Concession Driver) shared the honours driving honours for the past 12 months. The full list of award winners on the night has been compiled below. COMPLETE WINNERS LIST Victorian Horse of the Year - Caribbean Blaster Victorian Trotter of the Year - Im Stately Aged Pacer of the Year - Caribbean Blaster Aged Trotter of the Year - I Didnt Do It Mare of the Year - Blucolla Tigerpie 2YO Colt or Gelding of the Year (Pacing) - Major Secret 2YO Filly of the Year (Pacing) - Mindarie Priddy 2YO Colt or Gelding of the Year (Trotting) - Im Stately 2YO Filly of the Year (Trotting) - Claudys Princess 3YO Colt or Gelding of the Year (Pacing) - Guaranteed 3YO Filly of the Year (Pacing) - Itz Nosurprisesthere 3YO Colt or Gelding of the Year (Trotting) - Blitzthemcalder 3YO Filly of the Year (Trotting) - Spidergirl Victorian Trainer of the Year - Shayne Cramp Metropolitan Trainer of the Year - Lance Justice Victorian Driver of the Year - Chris Alford Metropolitan Driver of the Year - Gavin Lang Victorian Concession Driver of the Year - Ellen Tormey Harness Racing Victoria

Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton provided what was to be the exclamation point on what has been a memorable season for both Chris Alford and Dean Braun as a duo, and individually. They combined the take the feature race of the night, the Harness Breeders (VIC) 3YO Classic with promising filly Tandias Bromac. It wasn’t all plain sailing however, the $1.80 favourite had to work to find the top in the early stages and in a field of more than handy fillies she ripped out early quarters of 29secs and 29.3secs before putting the foot flat to the floor in a 27.2sec third quarter. Our Femme Fatale, who was planted three wide for much of the journey, wasn’t about to give it up either, challenging the leader off the back. Alford gave his filly a little more rein however and she looked to be off and gone as they shot for home; that was until the closers started to emerge out of the pack. Rogers Passion, Rogers Joy and Snow Cone all loomed large as Our Femme Fatale cut into the margin late however they couldn’t catch the brilliant winner who rated 1:54.4 for the mile. Our Femme Fatale was officially two metres away in second with Rogers Passion grabbing third. Tandias Bromac has now won four from five in Australia and looks set for a big season. The winner was the second of four on the night for Alford who has had the most outstanding month of his career, clearing out in the State Drivers race to be the only contender. Lance Justice held on to the Metropolitan Trainers’ title just ahead of Geoff Webster with neither mustering a win by Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

The final calendar month of the racing season has all but drawn to a close and with one Metropolitan meeting left this Friday there is still a battle going on for the TaylorsMetropolitan trainer’s premiership. Lance Justice has continued to hold his rivals at bay all year but Geoff Webster has slowly eroded the margin and heading into the final meeting he is just one win behind the six-time premiership winner. Although Justice will likely have a larger number of runners on the night, Webster will also play his hand with Have A Bender and Kotare Roland both engaged in the nominations. Greg Sugars and Chris Alford were locked in a tussle to determine who would be the Melton Saddlery leading Victorian driver however with a string of victories inside the last three weeks, Alford has gone clear to hold an unassailable margin in the lead-up to the last meeting Saturday night. The Norfolk Food Services leading concession driver had been a battle for much of the season between Ellen Tormey and David Moran. Tormey however held her advantage over the last month and edged further in front to all-but seal the award with five days left this term. Shayne Cramp is set to be crowned The Renown Silverware’s Victorian leading trainer for the first time. With a stranglehold over the Sunraysia area, Cramp has rarely had to travel far to secure the bulk of his 151 Victorian winners so far this season. Last year’s state trainer of the year, Glenn Douglas, holds down second with 118 winners from Emma Stewart who has 110 victories under her belt. The SBG Accountants leading Metropolitan driver has been a tense battle all season but Gavin Lang holds sway with 40 winners in the big smoke, ahead of Greg Sugars on 35 and Chris Alford on 33. This year the end-of-season industry awards night won’t coincide with a Tabcorp Park Melton race meeting, giving participants the chance to let their hair down and enjoy the frivolity of a night that will see champions crowned in equine and human form. To be held at Tabcorp Park Melton on September 12, the industry awards will be a spectacular way to finish what has been an exciting season in the trots as the horse of the year awards will be decided on the night. Tickets are $65 each and include a three course meal as well as beer, wine and soft drink for the night. Those making the trek out to Melton will be able to secure a room in the hotel at the special price of $110. For more information on tickets or to book to be a part of the action call Tabcorp Park Melton on (03) 8746 0631. Harness Racing Victoria

The Ballarat & District Trotting Club Inc. is about to expand its highly successful “Standardbred Group” syndications. Formed around seven years ago, The Ballarat & District Trotting Club Standardbred Group is made up of trots lovers who have come together to enjoy ownership of a pacer. Each horse raced by the syndicate has around 80 plus “owners” and this keeps the individual cost to a minimum. Syndicate Manager, Mr Neil Stevens said “We are not expecting to make our fortune from the syndicate, but we have a lot of fun, hopefully get a photo for the wall and have a great time at the trots each time one of our horses is racing.” In recent years the syndicate has provided exciting racing for its members at little cost, with current horses: “Bit of a Babe” three-year-old filly trained by Geoff Webster, a grand finalist in the APG and Breeders Crown as a two-year-old, with four wins and earnings in excess of $40,000.00. “Nobetterthanthis” three-year-old filly trained by Jodi Quinlan which has just started racing and has three placings from her first six starts. Mr. Stevens said that a new rising two-year-old filly has been leased and the Club is inviting interested people to join the new syndicate. The filly is by Grinfromeartoear out of Lavish Franco making her a half sister to quality three-year-old “Lavish Art”. The filly will be trained by Geoff Webster. An initial outlay of $100.00 is all that is required, with ongoing costs then being dependant on how much stake money the horse earns. Mr. Stevens said that a cost of around $200.00 per person per year has been the maximum outlay required in recent years, which equates to no more than $4.00 per week for a great interest in the sport. Trotting enthusiasts interested in joining the syndicate are advised to contact the Syndicate Manager, Neil Stevens on 0400 206 463 or the Ballarat & District Trotting Club on 5335 9041 for full details. Harness Racing Victoria

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