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Riverina harness racing trainer Col Thomas has plenty of options for his boom pacer Bettermatch, but in the short term, will aim at the Leeton Breeders’ Plate.  Heats will be run on Boxing Night and Thomas is excited by the son of Kenneth J after he won in a brilliant 1:55.8 on debut at Maryborough a fortnight ago. “The Leeton Breeders’ Plate is where he will go next,” Thomas said. “I’m thinking of taking him to Sydney for a couple of races early next year, but he is also eligible for the Bathurst Gold Crown and can race in both the Breeders’ Challenge and Vicbred. “We've had a few blokes ringing since his debut trying to buy him, one offered us $100,000 for 50 per cent of him, but I can assure everyone that he isn’t for sale.” Bettermatch is owned by Rob Wakeman and Thomas is happy to see his good friend get a nice horse. “Robbie was a baker and he would do his deliveries and then come out by 10am and help me out at the stables, but since he has retired he is out there by 6:30am every day, he is a good bloke and a hard worker,” Thomas declared. “He actually claimed Bettermatch’s mum at Junee,” Thomas explained. “He was one of 17 claims that was put in and he was the lucky person that drew her out. “We raced for her a while after that and she won a race for us and this is only her second foal.” Bettermatch has always shown ability and had performed well at the trials in the lead up to his debut. “He had been around at the trials and was going about 2:04, but he was just zipping home in 28 seconds, so we always knew he had a bit of a motor, but just didn’t know how big it was,” Thomas said. “He has gone quicker than Business In Motion already, but he reminds he a lot of him, Bettermatch is still a colt but is very quiet and sensible.” GREG HAYES

Twelve months ago harness racing driver Jimmy Douglass nearly pulled off a huge boilover when 90-1 chance Scandalman finished second behind Washakie in the Treuer Memorial at Bankstown. Fast forward to this Saturday night and Douglass believes he is driving the right horse in Chariot King to go one better this year. "I've run a couple of placings in the Treuer Memorial from memory, Scandalman wasn't far away last year and Hesa Buzzin ran third behind Washakie too but that was back in 2011," Douglass said. "Chariot King is going to be a good chance on Saturday night, he has drawn barrier one and around the tighter tracks the closer you can draw to the inside the better especially when you are driving a horse that has speed to make use of the draw." Chariot King won Saturday night's Kevin Newman Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Douglass was extremely pleased with the performance. "Before the race John (Tapp) just told me not to get involved in an early speed battle but from the wide draw I couldn't slot in so I had to go right back and because I knew they were walking I decided to head to the pegs because the horses from the back weren't going to get into it." "From about the 600 I thought I was going to get into the clear and when they all left the inside turning for home I just stayed to the pegs and he sprinted so fast." Douglass has formed a good partnership with the son of Badlands Hanover and he believes it was Chariot King's best performance since he has taken the reins. "He was really good, just so sharp when Seel N Print pulled off the inside and he saw the opening and with that sort of speed and acceleration if he gets things run to suit on Saturday night in the Treuer Memorial then he is going to be a contender for sure." By Greg Hayes Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

Hunter Valley trainer Jess Dart enjoyed the most rewarding moment of her time in harness racing last Saturday night when Four Wise Men scored at Newcastle. Recently returning from a serious injury, the son of Armbro Operative registered his first success since January 2013. “Four Wise Men has been a really special horse for me, I bought him in September 2011, but I needed nearly 12 months to put some condition on him because he wasn’t in great condition when he arrived,” Dart said. “He provided me with my first winner but then broke a pedal bone and as a result had to have another 12 months off…at first I was just hoping to just get him back to the races, but to get him to win another race is the biggest achievement in my career.” With last weekend’s appearance Four Wise Men’s fourth start along the comeback trail, Dart was confident the nine-year-old was ready to win. “I took him to Tamworth first-up because I thought it would be a bit weaker for him and he went well even though he drew wide,” Dart declared. “Then he raced at Maitland and didn’t run a bad race from another bad draw, so I thought he might be able to win another one. “What made the win even more special to my family was that I wore my great grandfather Charlie Kirkwood’s colours…it was the first time in many years that they had won a race and I’m sure he would have been very proud.” Four Wise Men will have an easy week before racing at Maitland in early November. “That's the plan at this stage,” Dart explained. “They tend to go a little bit slower on the half mile track which suits him, although he did break the 2:00 minute barrier for the first time on Saturday night, plus Mum and I are hoping to have another couple of starters at that meeting too.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn harness racing trainer David Hewitt added his name to the Canola Cup honour roll by taking out Eugowra's feature with Holm Three.  Hewitt joins his brother Bernie and brother-in-law Neil Day on the list to continue a family tradition. “It was a great thrill to win the race with Holm Three,” Hewitt declared. “The Canola Cup was never a race I really considered aiming for when I was training at Crookwell because it was so early in the season and the heat and Final use to be on the same weekend. “Because of those factors in the past the horses had to be rock hard fit, but now with the heat and Final a week apart, it is a bit easier on the horses and when Holm Three arrived from New Zealand recently I thought it would be a good option for her.” Holm Three led throughout from her front row draw, with Hewitt confident the daughter of Mach Three will remain competitive as she races her way through the grades. “The logical plan for her looks to be a Menangle Country Series,” Hewitt said “I think she is going to be a good chance in one of those because she is just so fast early and can put herself in the right spot. “We took the option of handing up in the heat because she hadn’t been with us for very long and we were still learning with her, but with that run under her belt, I was happy to go for an all the way win on Monday." Hewitt’s son Brad drove Holm Three in the heat, but partnered Luksam in the decider. “The boys were pretty keen for me to drive her in the Final and I was happy with that, because while I am not driving as much as I used, to I like to keep my hand in,” Hewitt explained. “Brad trains Luksam, so he had to drive him in the Final and he did a good job to finish second.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn harness racing trainer Brad Hewitt drove two Canola Cup heat winners at Eugowra last weekend and believes one of the pair will prove very hard to beat in Monday’s $20,000 Final.  Hewitt is the trainer of Luksam, which he will drive him in the decider, while his father David will partner former kiwi trained mare Holm Three. “Luksam has drawn the back row and Holm Three will start off the front, so she is probably the better chance just because of the barriers,” Hewitt said. “Luksam was only having his second run back from a very long break. First-up he was a little bit disappointing after trialling well, but he travelled to Bathurst by himself and was really nervy when he arrived.” After disappointing Luksam was sent back to the trials, and after a strong performance at Menangle, Hewitt was expecting a better performance. “The Menangle trial was really good, but I still didn’t think he could beat Karloo Ten Seventy on Sunday,” Hewitt said. “When he got his chance in the straight he finished it off really nicely. “In the Final if they go too slow he’s got enough ability that I have the option of putting him into the race, but that will all depend on how everything unfolds.” Holm Three has only been in Australia a short time and really impressed with a strong performance. “We didn’t really know what to expect because she had only been in Australia for two and a half weeks, but she was forced to work very hard for the first part of the race and then relaxed, so I think she is going to win more races,” Hewitt said. “New Zealand race caller Mark McNamara told us about her when she was racing over there. “He sends us a few names every now and then and we liked her so a few owners stepped up and bought her.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn trainer Amy Day took two horses to Newcastle last Friday night with one goal in mind and that was to qualify them both for their respective Tabcorp Park Menangle Country Series Finals. Day left Newcastle with an impressive win courtesy of Treuaper while Cogeday was an unlucky second but did enough to get through to the Final meaning both horses will compete this Saturday night in $25,000 events. "I was very pleased with Treuaper, he came off a break and had been trialling well at Menangle in the lead up to his racetrack return," Day said. "Cogeday was very unlucky and got caught up in traffic but he's a sit sprinter and the three wide line just came too early and it would have meant that I was out three wide without cover for the last lap which wouldn't have suited him." "When he hit the line he pricked his ears and finished it off quite nicely and it was nice to have him back because towards the end of last preparation I think a couple of long float trips had taken their toll on him." Cogeday looks to be suited by returning to the 1400 metre track at Menangle. "I had been trying to qualify him for one of these country finals and I had taken him to Bathurst and Young for the heats but he wasn't showing his high speed. He is so much better suited to the bigger tracks and that's why hopefully he will be a good chance on Saturday night." Treuaper will contest race four while Cogeday will compete in the sixth event at Menangle on Saturday night. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Twenty year old reinsman Joel Butterfield will never forget Friday August 22nd 2014. It was the date he drove the first winner of his career when despised outsider Soloman Vandy won race eight and then had to endure a protest hearing when the fourth horse lodged an objection. "It was a bit of a surprise but it is something that I will never forget," Butterfield said. "I didn't think he could win when we went down the back straight because he wasn't doing much but he kept on sticking his neck out and in the end he surprised everyone, it was an unreal feeling when we crossed the line." Butterfield has only been driving since December last year and has had about ten drives in his short career. "I work fulltime as an internal sales rep for a timber wholesaler and the hours are long plus I live a long way away from work. I start at seven and finish at about five but I still find time to train a couple of my own and I also give Bevan Pringle a hand when I can." "I've been strapping horses for my Pop since I was fourteen and I use to give Paul Bourke a bit of a hand after school when I got the chance, I am always willing to watch and try to learn as much as I can from everyone." While Butterfield enjoys his participation in the sport he is hoping he can take it to another level at some stage in the future. "I'd love to do it professionally somewhere down the track but at the moment I'm enjoying training my two." "Cobla Stuie is no world beater but he ran third for me the other week behind Minnie Min Min and I've had about six race drives on him, my other horse is a three year old. It was Soloman Vandy's first victory since winning at Newcastle on March 7.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

When talented driver Robbie Morris returned to the sulky after a serious leg injury less than a month ago he had one target in mind and that was to reach 100 winners for the season. With less than a week left in the season Morris got to the milestone when Love This Dragon took out the first race at Newcastle on Monday. "It was good to get to the 'ton'. It was the goal I set when I returned from the broken leg and to get so much support from trainers and owners has been great," Morris said. "KerryAnn (Turner) was doing the sums for me, I think through injury and suspension I have missed nearly five and a half months of the season and still been able to get to 100 winners. Before the injury I think I would have been able to push towards 150 and maybe that will be something I can aim for next season." Morris was surprised at the amount of support he received after the race fall that required surgery to mend his leg. "Mum and Dad have been fantastic through it, they have been great support for me but I was really surprised by the amount of texts and messages I received when I got injured. So many people contacted me wishing me all the best which really lifted my spirits." "The stable's owners have been fantastic as well, Peter Green, Bill Green, Daniel Cordina, Segenhoe Stud and there are plenty of others that have been fantastic." When the KerryAnn Turner trained Leighs Delight won race seven at Newcastle on Monday it took Morris' total to 101 winners. "It was nice to win two races at Menangle on Saturday night to get to 99. JB Maguire deserved to win the M0 and it was good to see Graeme Hartman win the last with Alta Rihannah as he does a good job." Morris will have five drives on Saturday night at Menangle which is the last Metropolitan meeting for the season. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales 

Victorian trainer Michael Stanley will have a two pronged attack in Saturday night's Gr. 3 CJ Garrard Two Year Old Classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  The $30,000 event is open to horses that were sold at the 2013 Garrards Horse & Hound Trialling Sale and Stanley is hoping to take home the major share of prize money on offer with Big Spending Telf and Morior Invictus. "Big Spending Telf has only had the one run and he's a pretty nice horse, he's a little bit immature in the head so I will drive him but I think he has what it takes to make a nice horse," Stanley said "He won his only start at Horsham, he showed speed on that occasion and the horse that sat outside him kept him honest throughout but he broke 29 seconds for his final quarter and did it well." Big Spending Telf had a short letup after his debut run but has been at the trials recently. "Yeah I gave him some time after the run but he has had a couple of trials and importantly over the 2200 metres too. He has won both trials, the last of them was as Melton and he ran his last half in 58.9." Morior Invictus won a semi final of the Vicbred series four runs ago and has been racing against some very strong opposition recently. "He is a very good horse and has been campaigning against some nice ones but he is probably just a touch below the top echelon." "I'm not sure he will be totally suited on Saturday night. He is an effective sit and sprinter but after drawing the outside barrier he probably has to go back at the start and then maybe make a midrace move to get into the action." Stanley will return to Victoria for Sunday's Breeders Crown Day and is hoping Soho Tokyo can run a great race from barrier three. "She went really well in her semi and from a better draw I think she can run a great race, it could be a very big weekend." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Bigga trainer Dennis Picker has spent the past ten weeks in Queensland enjoying the warmer weather and has won nine races during his stay north of the border. Picker arrived home midweek but will be back on the road this weekend to put the finishing touches on his talented filly Just Cala after she won a semi final of the Breeders Crown last weekend. "Just Cala has done a really good job for us since arriving from New Zealand and hopefully she can run another good race this weekend before she goes to the paddock for a well earned spell," Picker said. "I think she had only been in the country six or seven days when she had her first run in Brisbane and then she raced on August 2 at Redcliffe before I sent her to Victoria to race at Kilmore five days later, she has just taken everything in her stride." Just Cala has drawn barrier one in Sunday's Gr. 1 final and Picker is confident she has got enough speed if driver Amanda Turnbull wants to use it. "I haven't spoken to Amanda yet about what she thinks but I have used Just Cala out of the gate in Queensland and she raced really well so if she wants to go forward at the start it isn't too much of a worry." The daughter of  Art Major is raced by Picker's brother Joe who is a member of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league squad. "Joe wants to start selling some at the sales but to do that he has realised that he has to start buying some well bred fillies and this is why he bought her, to turn her into a broodmare at the end of her career." "I've been watching a fair bit of the Rabbitohs since Joe joined them after he left the Raiders, they're going really well and hopefully they keep playing well with the finals just around the corner." Picker splits his time between training and shearing sheep. "I have been doing less shearing each year and I think that trend is going to continue again with such a big team at home." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales  

Multiple Gr. 1 winner Frith has drawn the inside of the second row in Sunday's Breeders Crown Final for 4 Year Old Mares and while trainer Bruce Harpley is concerned by the barrier he would not be swapping his horse for any of their rivals this weekend. Frith won the Breeders Crown for three year old fillies last season but drew the front row and pounced on the lead from gate two. "Fellow trainer Danny Thackeray drew the barrier for us on Sunday and before the draw I told him to get anything except barrier eight," Harpley said. "He rang me straight after the draw and I said what did we get, and he said eight, then I said no seriously what did we get so it took a while to sink in but I have come to terms with it now." Harpley acknowledges Frith is going to have to do her fair share of work from the gate and thinks some of the other drivers may be inclined to make an early move. "I think a few drivers would love to sit on our back so it wouldn't surprise me if a few wanted to make a move early and hope that we get around there to the death and give them some cover." "The beauty of my mare is that she is so versatile, she has that mix of speed and strength so even if she does more than her fair share of the work I still think she will be in the finish." Frith will head to the paddock after Sunday's run with her main aim next season being the Ladyship Mile. "I've done some quick calculations and if I give her six or seven weeks off I should have her right to go by early in the new year which would give me the chance to get a few runs under her belt before the Ladyship." "There are no easy races for her anymore, if she happens to win on the weekend I think she becomes a C19 M4 so she will need to be pretty fit when she resumes." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales    

Since arriving at the stables of harness racing trainer Darren McCall,talented pacer Western Rockstar has won six races and has gone from a metropolitan maiden to mixing it with some of the state's best.  This Saturday night the son of Western Terror will line up in the Gr. 3 Priority Pass Pace at Tabcorp Menangle and McCall believes with the right run he can be competitive again. "As long as there is speed on in the race he will be in the finish somewhere, I'm not afraid to make the speed if they back off too much but in this grade the tempo is normally strong," McCall said. "He finished down the track in his two runs in Queensland but he drew poorly in both of those and couldn't get into the race plus the Menangle track really suits him." McCall has made no secret that Western Rockstar has been a handful but believes he has improved dramatically in recent months. "The simple key with him is his training schedule and keeping it the same, I just don't want to be messing with his mind for no reason." "If he's out there on the track by himself he is really well behaved now, sure he can get a bit fired up when there is another horse around but he has definitely improved." Another McCall runner racing this weekend is Looksmachnificent, a lightly raced three year old. "He's a pretty nice horse, he's very green and he doesn't have much idea what racing is all about." "Before I produced him at Menangle I changed his shoeing around, he raced really well and stayed in his gear. I just want to see him switch on for a whole race rather than turning on and off throughout but he ran a nice time last start and did it pretty comfortably."   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales                          

Mat Rue finished third in the New South Wales driving premiership two seasons ago and after taking a four month break for a working holiday in the USA, the talented reinsman is back in Australia and looking forward to driving plenty of winners. Initially Rue and his partner Gemma Hewitt had planned to stay overseas for six months but after spending some time working and seeing the sights they decided to make an early return. "When we left we had planned to go for six months but it was a little bit quiet over there so we spent the last month of our time over there tripping around, it was a really good experience," Rue said. "Noel Daley looked after us so well, he did everything he could to help us out while we were in the USA and I even got the opportunity to have twenty five or thirty drives over there." Rue drove at the Meadowlands, Chester and Pocono. "I didn't get a winner but I did get close a couple of times, I drove three second placings and also ran third on one and fourth another time." "It was great to rub shoulders with drivers like Tim Tetrick, he introduced himself to me one night in the drivers' room and he is a good guy." After arriving back in Australia on Thursday, he returned to race driving on Saturday at Young and it did not take him long to get back into the winners' list. "It was good to drive a winner for Dad, Our Castanea had been pretty green but he surprised me and was really good on Saturday night." "I'm just going to work with Bernie Hewitt for a while and wait to see how everything works out with the new Bathurst track."   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales      

Successful harness racing horseman Jarrod Alchin has been spending plenty of time travelling recently and things may not change in the short term should everything go to plan. Alchin trains talented two year old Franciso De Gore, the son of Village Jasper that placed in a repechage of the Breeders Crown at Geelong last week. "I was really happy with his performance in the repechage and if things all go to plan, including a good barrier draw, I think he can qualify for the Breeders Crown final," Alchin said. "His run behind Ominous Warning was very strong at Menangle. They went 55.1 for the last 800 metres and he wanted to hit the line, I think he is going to make a really nice three year old next season." While Alchin will be in Victoria on Saturday night with Franciso De Gore, his stable will have two runners at Tabcorp Park Menangle too. "Kennedy Creek won a race three starts ago when he led and was too good, he worked very strongly on Monday and I'd like to see him hold the front again this week." "He finished eighth last start but if you watch the run it wasn't too bad. He was well back, made some good ground and didn't have much luck in the straight." Alchin's other runner is Eagles Ace, a three year old that has some strong Riverina form to his credit. "He only arrived last week, he's a nice horse and has been racing well in the bush but he has been sent up here to try and win a Metropolitan three year old before the end of the season." "I was really happy with his work on Monday too, so if he races up to the work I think he is going to be right in the finish. He is only going to be here for a month or so." By Greg Hayes Harness Racing New South Wales

Former Tasmanian pacer Tony Macarony will resume for trainer Darren Binskin on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  The son of Sealed N Delivered has had three starts at Menangle and has only been placed once but off the back of a strong trial last week Binskin is hoping for a better performance. "I was happy with his trial last week. He showed good speed and Chariot King had a job to run him down in the straight so if he can bring that sort of form to the races I think he will be very competitive," Binskin said. "He is a funny horse, he has had a few little niggles and that is why he hasn't raced since early June but the owner has been terrific in showing patience and hopefully that can be rewarded." Tony Macarony beat home Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion winner Beautide in Launceston's 2013 Golden Mile.  He finished second behind Greysteel with Beautide finishing sixth. "I don't think people should read too much into that win over Beautide. Look he's a nice horse and I think he will win a "metro" race but I'm not going overboard just yet." Binskin's stable star Gaius Caesar will compete in a race for horses that have failed to win $6000 in their last four starts and while the multiple Gr. 1 winner finds himself in a winnable race, the horseman believes it shouldn't be happening. "I don't agree with the system but we are going to do what other stables have been doing and taking advantage of the setup to try and get him another win." "In my opinion he should be in the open race but the opportunity is there to drop back into an easier event so we have taken the chance and hopefully he can bring up his first win since June." Gaius Caesar will compete in race three on Saturday night with the event scheduled to begin at 6:20pm. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales                                             

Chariot King will line up on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle for the first time since June 7 and trainer John Tapp acknowledges he is a little concerned with the race distance of 2300 metres.  After having three weeks in the paddock Chariot King has had two trials to get some fitness 'under his belt' but Tapp admits the seven year old will need some racing before he finds his peak form. "There are only so many corridors of opportunity during the season to give horses a short break and after Chariot King's last run at Menangle we took the option to give him a quick letup before getting him ready for some of the better races coming up," Tapp said. "Ideally I would have looked for a race over the mile trip for his first run back but he needs to get back racing so you have to play the cards you are dealt." Chariot King will line up against the Tritton pair Mach Beauty and Suave Stuey Lombo and Tapp believes they will be the hardest to beat. "Shane's horses had a good hit-out last Saturday night and they are obviously fully wound up so they look to be the pair to beat but there are some other nice horses in the race." "It is no secret that Chariot King is a 'massive doer' and he has certainly put on weight during the break. In fact I can't remember him ever missing a feed at my place since he arrived as a very young horse. I reckon he would eat a chicken chow mein if you offered it to him." At his first trial back Chariot King did very little work early but rattled home from the tail and ran a very fast final quarter. "He hit the line extremely well and Jim (Douglass driver) said he felt completely normal, exactly like Chariot King should feel so that's what you want to hear from the driver, now I'm just looking forward to Saturday."   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales                                                                                                                                        Fields for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Saturday 09 August 2014 Form guide for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Saturday 09 August 2014  

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