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Ace Myrniong harness racing driver Greg Sugars now has one up on his legendary father Ross. The father and son are household names when the kitchen table conversation turns to trots and had both driven five winners at a meeting on two occasions - that was until earlier this week. A rugged-up Greg headed up to a cold and muddy Shepparton with a full book of driving engagements at the 10-race fixture and scored a "fab five" to go one clear of his dad, on that score, at least. Sugars, who is based with his wife Jess Tubbs at "Larajay Farms" in the beautiful hamlet of Myrniong (population of around 400), posted doubles for Jess and for former South Australian Greg Norman and the fifth winning drive for Justin Torney. "I did think on paper I had a few chances, but you don't start putting ticks beside them because there's always something that can upset the apple cart," the respected reinsman said. "The two horses that Jess had running had been working nicely at home, so I was reasonably confident there. And Greg Norman (who is making Charlton his home at present) has his team going along very well." The Norman pair were Gozo (Shadow Play-Gigglybits (Die Laughing) and ever-consistent Edwin Bromac (Mister Big-Elly Bromac (Badlands Hanover). Success for Jess was with BetAmerica (American Ideal-Splendid Bet (Bettors Delight) and Huli Nien (Rock N Roll Heaven-Soho Cannes (Royal Mattjesty). Justin Torney's winner was Mister Joe Major (Art Major-Little Fib (Village Jasper). Ross Sugars landed five winners on a card at Gawler on August 12, 1980, and Globe Derby Park on June 27, the following year. Greg performed the feat at Maryborough on January 23, 2013, and then three months later at a Melton meeting. "I'm not expecting dad will be too concerned I've got one up on him," Greg laughed. "He's semi-retired now, but helps us out around the stables, which is awesome. He has a bit of experience behind him!" Greg is the third generation of the Sugars harness racing dynasty, a powerhouse stable in South Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Greg's grandfather, 94-year-old Len is a Hall of Famer and still an active follower of the sport, but copping the wrath of stewards in 1977 opened the door for his young son Ross, who had just gained his B Grade Driver permit. Ross burst onto the scene, driving three winners at his first three drives: Red Score, Hallett and Perkandi. It was a world record back in November of 1977 and could quite easily still stand. The famous harness racing family relocated to Victoria over 14 years ago and has continued to make a huge impact. Myrniong, situated 15 kms west of Bacchus Marsh, was established among lush wheat fields that provided prospectors with a food source during the gold rush of the 1850s. These day's it's providing a more than lucrative location for a hard-working and talented racing couple! Jess has had 370 starts for the season with 64 wins and 90 placings while Greg is on the cusp of recording his best-ever season with 237 winners and 353 placings at an impressive win-place to starts ratio of nearly 47%. His record of 257 victories was posted in 2012/13, while two seasons later he was just three short of that number, finishing with 254. "If I could have a few more nights such as at Sheppparton, I'd be right on track for a personal best," Greg quipped. "I honestly didn't know where I was up to, but it has been a great season. I always seem busy I can tell you that much." Sugars has topped the ton in the past 12 seasons (including the current one) in Victoria, with eight of these being over the 200-winner threshold. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

In addition to the sweet taste of victory Saturday night's racing at Tabcorp Park was also an opportunity to fine tune for the forthcoming Vicbred Super Series, with several victors signalling their intention to tackle the sires' stakes. Chief among them was Mirragon, winner of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Home Grown Classic for two-year-old boys, a Group 2 that was snapped up by 3.6m for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. "The horse did a terrific job and I think he's going to have a nice future and (the owners) are going to have a lot of fun with him," Sugars said. Mirragon was able to outpace stablemate and leader Pandering from the breeze to register a third win from four starts, the only blot on his copybook being a fifth in his Australian Pacing Gold heat when he broke while challenging for the early lead. "It's pretty unlucky that the only time things didn't go to plan it was in a pretty important race," Sugars said. "He's certainly got the talent and the ability to say he wouldn't have been out of place in a race like the APG, it just wasn't our day that day and it didn't all go to plan. "Anyway, that's in the past now, but apart from that all his race track performances have been pretty handy." Mirragon will likely be well favoured for the Alabar Vicbred Super Series for two-year-old colts and geldings, which kicks off with the heats at Bendigo on June 18 ahead of the June 29 semi-finals and July 6 finals, both at Tabcorp Park Melton. The three-year-old colts and geldings heats will follow at Kilmore on June 20 and Watch List looms as a likely starter after the Mick Stanley trained and driven colt, whose owners include AFL footballers Josh Jenkins, Tex Walker, Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch and Michael Hurley, added a fifth straight win in Saturday's DNR Logistics Pace Final. "He's just a horse who, as he's matured and got a bit smarter, he keeps stepping up, so rapt with how he's progressing," Stanley told TrotsVision in the wake of Saturday night's victory. "Although (Vicbred) is going to be another step up ... he's shown that he's worthy of a go so we'll probably head there and then give him a spell after that." Saturday night was also a chance for four-year-old mare Parisian Opera to push her claims for the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting title, with heats to be held at Kilmore on June 27 ahead of the July 5 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Parisian Opera won Saturday night's last race, the TAB Multiplier 4YO Trot, for trainer Anton Golino and reinsman Jason Lee, who said the Ready Cash mare had "come a long way". "She was only a T0 when she first kicked off her campaign, now she's a TM1 and she's done a terrific job. The team at home have done a terrific job. "Just had a quick chat to (trainer) Anton (Golino) on the phone earlier and he just wanted to set her for the sires. Get through tonight, she wasn't wound down, she's been pretty kind to since her last run. He just said that she would need tonight's run, but she was obviously just good enough to be able to hang on and he'll set her for the sires."   HRV Trots Media

Bendigo harness racing hobby trainer Dylan Marshall is far from convinced he's found the secret to his mare Barbie Mattgregor - despite her winning two of her past four starts. "You would probably confidently think 'yes' I have got her to turn the corner; but the honest answer is more like a 'no'!" Marshall said. "The horse can be a lovely little thing, but she has attitude and is very moody. She also has a few other issues, mainly involving muscles. But don't get me wrong, she can be fast when her head is in the game." Marshall said Barbie Mattgregor (Rob Roy Mattgregor-My Barbie Doll (In The Pocket) had been tried by a handful of other trainers in Queensland and New South Wales, before coming to Victoria. "She's had about 30 starts and been sent out favorite in probably 10 of those, so I'm perhaps at the end of the queue," he said. But the mare was on song last week that's for sure, with an impressive win at Maryborough (her second there in a little over a month). And just maybe Marshall is under-selling the work he's doing! "It was just another perfect drive by Greg Sugars because if the horse lands in a good spot and does little work, she can sprint hard for about 400 metres," Marshall said. When the well-supported Whata Challenge ($6.50 into $2.10 favorite on fixed odds) zipped to the lead, Sugars was quick to jump on its back. With a steady pace, Barbie Mattgregor was in second gear awaiting her chance. That came on the home corner when Sugars pulled out and worked home best to the wire. The win made it a quartet for the crack young reinsman from Larajay Farm, Myrniong. Barbie Mattgregor, who was ignored in betting, starting at 25/1, is one of five horses trained by Marshall and his partner Tayla Fellows. The pair are based at a property opposite Lord's Raceway, Bendigo. Marshall was born into harness racing, growing up in Tasmania. "My (late) dad Peter was a trainer-driver, so I was always going to follow in his footsteps. I trained horses and drove back home and that's continued on since I crossed to the mainland," he said. "We just keep ticking along and I suppose we've had a fair bit of success, mainly through 'second-handers', which we don't mind. "Steve Clements (of Brisbane Pastoral Company) has been great in sending us a few over the years. We've now got some young ones along with a half-sister to Carl Mattgregor, who has won six races for us." Marshall, who works as a diesel mechanic, said he was unable to take time off from his job to attend meetings held during the day. "That's the way it goes. But everything is working out great with Tayla being in charge at the past two Maryborough meetings where Barbie Mattgregor has been successful," he said. "Tayla does fast work with me and other stables chores, so it's working out nice for us."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

A ticket to the big dance won't come easy for the fine crop of fillies who will step out in Saturday night's third Lazarus Victoria Oaks heat. The random draw has coupled Victorian two-year-old filly of the year Kualoa with fancied Arabella Star and Tangoingwithsierra, who drew gates one and two respectively and opened $4.40 with TAB.com.au. Lob in a multitude of pacers with winning form lines, in particular Soho Nolita, Mach Jodenkrist, Wellsaidlucy and Rise Above This, and a top four finish will be a mighty achievement in itself. That prospect is front of mind for reinsman Greg Sugars, who will steer trainer Jess Tubbs' three-year-old Betamerica from gate five in the 8.30pm feature. "I'm very happy with her," Sugars told RSN 927's Gait Speed today. "She showed as a two-year-old she wasn't too far off the best of her age group. "She's progressed nicely through this preparation. We decided to leave her home from Sydney (NSW Oaks), just didn't think she was quite ready to compete in a race like that. "This was always in the background, we wanted to try and have her the best we can for the Vic Oaks and we are very happy with her leading into it." But Sugars admitted the task at hand was a tough one given the strength of the heat. "She's going to have to be on top of her game just to even qualify because it's a pretty tough heat she's drawn," he said. "The (barrier) draw is probably not a great help either, but I think she's ready to stand up and be counted against these ones for sure."   HRV Trots Media

It will be on for young and old in Sunday’s North East Fasteners Wangaratta Pacing Cup, when a full, even field will battle for line honours in the club’s annual racing pinnacle. A picture-perfect 27-degree is forecast to greet race goers who turn out for Sunday’s twilight cup, with the headliner at 8.17pm on the seven-race twilight card. Looming large over the cup is Bacchus Marsh-trained four-year-old Joe Nien, who has drawn to burst from gate one and lead for trainer Jess Tubbs and reinsman Greg Sugars, the team hoping to build on their gelding’s break-out season that has delivered five wins and two placings from nine starts. A victory on the Trots Country Cups Championship circuit would be a significant notch on the Echuca-bred gelding’s belt, but there will be no shortage of challengers bidding to wrestle the crown from her clutches. Chief among them may well be an old grey mare with 251 more starts in the book in Hollys Miss Molly, who will step out for start 297 and looms as a likely contender for the crown. The fast-finishing mare, a winner of 35 starts and $251,256 in stakes, was fourth and beaten only 3.6m when rated a $26-chance in last year’s track record breaking Wangaratta cup, and has drawn to take advantage of her withering final sprint on Sunday. The nine-year-old mare will emerge from the inside of the second row and can follow Joe Nien through, getting a cushy ride on the pegs over the 2210m cup distance before having a big crack at the win in the final straight. It promises to be a showdown worthy of its headline status for Sunday’s showcase, when club secretary Bernadette Costantino said they were looking forward to building on the success of their January trotting cup.  “(The trotting cup) was excellent, God blessed us with the weather – it was about 28 degrees, fantastic after our two weeks of 40 degrees-plus,” Ms Costantino said. “We had over 1000 people in attendance and everything went off perfectly. The locals are really supportive of us and, definitely, having (the pacing cup on this) long weekend is a huge bonus for us.” There will plenty to lure both race goers and locals to the track, with off-track attractions including the pony trots, a mechanical bucking bull, jumping castle, face painting and DJ Steve Bowen. “We are a very basic club, we are like the old-fashioned country football (clubs), where you have chairs up at the fence and take away food. Everyone’s very relaxed – it’s just a great, family fun-filled evening.” Gates open from 5pm at Avian Park Raceway.   Trots Media

Leading Victorian harness racing driver Greg Sugars had an armchair ride when he was successful in the 2019 Wedderburn Pacing Cup on Sunday with rising star Emain Macha. After winning the start, Sugars rated the pacer to perfection over the marathon 2555m event, to post a new track record of 1.57, on the half mile circuit, in north central Victoria. “I didn’t know we were scooting along that quick – Emain Macha felt terrific and he really did it quite comfortably,” Sugars said. “When I heard the time, I was blown away. It was honestly a huge surprise.” In a strange twist, Perspective who was runner-up to Emain Macha, previously held the track record of 2.00-5, set in the cup 12 months earlier. Sugars said while the track was in excellent condition, Emain Macha is low-flying at the moment. “He has been going enormous with four wins and a second leading up to the Cup – and the second placing was at Shepparton behind a fairly handy performer in Buster Brady, trained by Kima Frenning.” Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three), prepared by Greg Scholefield, has an excellent race record of 24 wins and eight placings from just 37 starts for over $160,000. Sugars, who has now driven the five-year-old to 10 of his wins, said there was exciting times ahead for the horse, known around the stables as “Fritz”. “Greg (the trainer) has done a remarkable job with Emain Macha. He’s placed him well and has him in tip-top racing condition,” Sugars said. “There’s nothing mapped out for him at the moment. Greg told me he would now sit down and have a look at what’s around.” Sugars, who has won the Mildura Guineas and Mark Gurry and Associates Cup at the popular Mildura Pacing Cup carnival with Emain Macha, is hopeful the two may team up again in April for the “big one” in the Northern Region. The Mildura Pacing Cup, worth $60,000, is run in what is now a rare format for country cups – qualifying heats run on April 9 and the final on April 13. Sugars said that after winning the Gurry feature event two years ago, Emain Macha contracted a virus and ended up in a very bad way. The virus got worse and then Emain Macha came down with bronchitis. He lost a lot of weight, had swelling in all four feet and it was a battle to save him. Part-owner-trainer Greg Scholefield admitted at the time they were close to losing him but praised local vet Tony Tully who put “Fritz” on a course of drugs with which he slowly pulled through. Scholefield, who has a small team in training, has always been involved in horses, dating back to riding ponies in his younger days. The Wedderburn Cup victory was the second leg of a winning double for Sugars, who scored earlier in the day with Soul Writer (Sportswriter-Soul In Art (Art Major) for Justin Torney is in the Randall’s Foodworks Pace. Ballarat trainer Zac Steenhuis took out the $14,500 Wedderburn Trotters Cup when Jerichos Trumpet (Shadow Play-All In Good Time (Fake Left) landed the money following late support on fixed odds. Driven by junior reinsman Ryan Duffy, the trotter was most impressive, coming wide late after blowing the start. Club secretary Tom Nisbet said the meeting, one of only two conducted at Wedderburn each season, was a huge success. “The tote was up by $3000 on last year, while the bookies were up by $2000,” Nisbet said. “We had a big crowd with plenty of support from the locals and sold nearly 200 membership tickets.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Leading reinsmen Chris Alford and Greg Sugars will stage an exciting battle for the Warragul drivers' premiership at the club's next race meeting on August 26. Alford drove a treble at the latest race meeting at Warragul yesterday (Sunday), while Sugars drove one winner and three minor placings, with both horsemen sitting at the top of the premiership table heading into the final race meeting of the season. Both Alford and Sugars could have several drives at the August meeting, so an enthralling battle may take place. Alford's treble were trained by local horseman Gary Quinlan - courtesy of pacers Roll With Rocky and Heavens Showgirl, and trotter Omy Son, while Sugars drove Illawong Maestro to win the fourth race for his father, Ross. Top young horseman Darby McGuigan also drove two winners at the Sunday meeting, courtesy of Undaliner and Into You. The performance of Into You in particular was one of the better wins of the day. The Rob Evans trained mare came with a strong finishing burst in the home straight, claiming leader Mystic Castle in the shadows of the post. Locally trained, Into You has won at the last two Warragul meetings, and is towards the top of the table for the Warragul "Horse of the Year" award for season 2017/2018, heading into August's season close. A further win at the August meeting would sew up victory in the award for connections. Surprisingly, Into You went around as a $14.90 chance on the TAB on Sunday, despite having won last month at Warragul in close to track record time. Four-year-old mare Yourgottabelucky made it two wins in succession with victory in the second race on Sunday for trainer/driver Richard Caruana.   Kyle Galley

Warragul trotter Miss Intense is chasing a feature race win this Saturday night. The seven-year-old mare, having just her tenth race start, will compete in the $20,000 Breed For Speed Silver Series Final at Melton for trainer Jenni Lewis and driver Greg Sugars. Miss Intense has stuck a rich vein of form since returning to racing in November. After successive wins at Geelong and Melton, Miss Intense produced an eye catching second in a heat of the Silver Series at Bendigo recently, and is sure to give her supporters a sight in Saturday night's race. In many ways the story of Miss Intense is similar to that of Lewis' former top trotter of a decade ago, Billy Royle. Both horses are out of the mare Ivy Jean, and both suddenly found considerable racetrack success as older horses - Billy Royle won one race from his first 26 starts but ended up going on to win several feature races, and compete in an InterDominion series, as an older horse. While this weekend's race is the biggest test to date for Miss Intense, she is in the best form of her career at the right time, and has earned an opportunity in the feature event. Saturday's meeting is a major fundraiser for the Women's Cancer foundation.   Kyle Galley  

Young Victorian reins man Mark Pitt gave a salute to the stars as he scored an amazing harness racing win in tonight's John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Shepparton reinsman brought Shez All Rock with a burst of speed up the inside running to win by three metres from Soho Burning Love (Greg Sugars) in a world record equalling time of 2:50.4 with the plucky Nostra Villa (Chris Alford) clinging on for third. Pitt drove a patient race with the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, settling in about seventh spot and biding his time until the field hit the home running. The charges looked to be coming from out wide and just as it looked as if Soho Burning Love and Nostra Villa would fight out the finish Pitt and Shez All Rock appeared from nowhere up the pegs for an amazing win. Now Victorian-based, Pitt showed his delight to be back in his former home state with a mighty flourish of the whip as he crossed the line for a win he rated among the best of his career. "This was always going to be a tricky race but she had a good trip tonight and god the job done," said Pitt. "It's always good when you come away from home and win a race like this and go home with a trophy, it's really special. "I have to thank Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin for all the help they have given me with this horse and I also think Mum and Dad deserve some of the credit too. Without them none of this would be possible.       3 7:17pm JOHN GIBSON MEMORIAL NSW OAKS (GROUP 1) 2400M $200,000 3YO Fillies. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SHEZ ALL ROCK      Fr4 5 Mark Pitt Mark Pitt   $ 4.80       BROWN FILLY 3 by ROCK N ROLL HEAVEN USA out of JUST IRISH LOCH NZ (MACH THREE CA)  Owner(s): I D Pitt, L M Pitt  Breeder(s): G F (George) Tennent 2 SOHO BURNING LOVE      Fr10 11 Michael Stanley Greg Sugars 3.2m $ 13.20     3 NOSTRA VILLA      Fr7 8 Emma Stewart Chris Alford 7.5m $ 2.70 fav    4 CALLMEQUEENBEE      Fr8 9 Gemma Rue Mat Rue 9.1m $ 95.30     5 MY SWEETCHILLIPHILLY NZ      Fr6 7 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 9.3m $ 35.70     6 WAR DAN BAD GIRL      Fr5 6 Steve Turnbull Nathan Jack 9.5m $ 42.30     7 FAME ASSURED      Fr3 4 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 10.4m $ 4.60     8 IMPRINCESSGEMMA      Fr1 2 Emma Stewart Luke McCarthy 21.7m $ 6.30     9 IDEAL PLEASURE NZ      Fr2 3 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Natalie Rasmussen 22.5m $ 16.10     10 MACEY JAYDE      Fr9 10 Michael Stanley Michael Stanley 29.8m $ 46.20     Scratchings   REDBANK ADDI 1 PROPHESY 12 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:50:4 Mile Rate: 1:54:3 Lead Time: 54.9 First Quarter: 29.3 Second Quarter: 30.1 Third Quarter: 27.8 Fourth Quarter: 28.3 Margins: 3.2m x 4.3m   Sean Vella  

Top harness racing driver Greg Sugars drove two of the six winners at Monday's Warragul trots meeting. The impressive three-year-old pacer Joe Nien, and Bright Shadow were driven to victory by Sugars, who has narrowed the gap between himself and Chris Alford in the race for the Warragul drivers' premiership. Alford was also in the winners' circle on Monday, when Gippsland pacer Courageous Call scored a narrow victory in a finish where less than three metres separated the first five horses across the line. The victory was a consolation for the top reinsman, who was lucky to escape injury when Sentimental Life struck trouble in the third event. The mare choked down and dropped out of the race with a circuit to travel, and crashed to the track as Alford steered the horse to the outside fence. Connections had a few anxious moments as track officials worked to remove the sulky and gear from Sentimental Life, however the eight-year-old slowly got back up and was taken from the track. Alford became the first reinsperson to crash during a race at Warragul since the refurbished track was reopened just over three years ago, a good indication of how safe the Pacing Bowl is. Visiting trainers were in the money on Monday, with Bright Shadow (Allan McDonough), The Loustar (Phillip Walters) and Joelissa (Richard Caruana) all successful. Monday's meeting was a quiet one on course, however Warragul trots officials anticipate a much larger attendance for the next race meeting, the 60th running of the Warragul Pacing Cup, on Easter Sunday, April 1st. Kyle Galley  

Hosting students on work experience or Structured Work Place Learning (SWL) provides staff of the Bendigo Harness Training Centre with some of their most rewarding experiences, says the centre's Executive Officer Vicki Moro. This year the centre has hosted a SWL student from Bendigo Senior Secondary College for a week and two students from local schools for one week during work experience placement. "The Training Centre has really enjoyed having Stacie and other work experience students here learning with us," Ms Moro told Trots Media. Work experience student Stacie Carbone took the opportunity to share her thoughts on being involved in the trots industry for a week and write about her future career ambitions. My name is Stacie Carbone. I am 15 years old and come from Axedale, just out of Bendigo. I go to school at Bendigo South East College and play footy for a girls' under-18 team. I have been around horses all of my life. My dad and grandparents train and drive horses. My grandpa, Vin, and dad, Mick, have taught me so much over the years about working horses. My dad and pa only train a few horses at the moment and do it as a hobby. I have been involved in pony trots for the last five years. I wanted to work with horses and learn new things from different people, which is why I wanted to do work experience at the Harness Training Centre Bendigo. I had also heard that all the people at the centre are great to learn from and have very good experience around horses. That is definitely true! The best thing I have learnt so far is how to read an Australian Standardbred freeze brand. The best thing I have seen is how much the horses get cared for and how well they are treated. The facilities and environment are great. Oh, and learning to remove and tack on a shoe with the centre's farrier, Nathan Monk, was pretty good too! My plan is to become an equine vet nurse and an equine AI technician. I also plan to go for my C Grade drivers' licence and then train a few of my own horses down the track. My favourite driver is Greg Sugars but I like to watch Kerryn Manning too. My favourite horse would be Lennytheshark at the moment. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in a similar placement please contact Vicki Moro at HRTC Bendigo on 0447 032 770 or vicki.moro@hrtcbendigo.com.au   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER  

Leading reinsman Greg Sugars has fond memories of Albion Park. And with good reason. The last time the Victorian based driver headed to the famed Breakfast Creek racetrack, he walked away with the state’s biggest event. Sugars answered an ‘SOS’ call from trainer Ian Gurney and took the winning drive behind Our Hi Jinx in the 2015 Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship. The race was discontinued following that edition. But now Sugars returns to the Sunshine State chasing the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. He will partner star pacer Major Crocker in the 2680m feature. “I’m looking forward to heading back to Brisbane this weekend and I think we’ve got an excellent chance, his draw is ideal and his form is very good so hopefully we can land the prize.” Sugars said. Major Crocker has drawn gate three but will start from two if the emergency doesn’t secure a start. The Art Major gelding hasn’t started since finishing a close-up 7th behind My Field Marshal in the Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on June 25. Sugars, a winner of 34 Group One races believes the Vince Vallelonga trainee is ready to land his biggest prize yet. And he set to play an intriguing role given his early speed; will he hold the lead or take the trail behind race favourite Tiger Tara? “We’ve got options and I’ll discuss it with Vince before the race. He didn’t have much room last start in Sydney and the gap between runs won’t bother him, I know Vince believes spacing his runs as he gets a little older is best for him now. “Some of his best efforts have been when he’s fresh up, we should end up in a good position from the draw and the distance will suit him. He ran very well in this event last year. “Tiger Tara looks hardest to best from his draw while the Aiken runners (Lennytheshark & Hectorjayjay) will be tough to beat plus My Field Marshal, he’s the form horse of the Australian winter and he looked very good last week.” Earlier this season, Major Crocker finished second behind New Zealand star Lazarus in the Victoria Cup at Melton. Major Crocker is rated as a $16 chance with UBET. Hoofnote; Only Gavin Lang, Chris Alford, Luke McCarthy, Gary Hall Jnr and Mark Purdon have driven more Group One winners in Australia than Sugars. Chris Barsby

Champion harness racing reinsman Greg Sugars returned to South Australia on Friday night and left with the first prize of the Elders Insurance Drivers Invitation from the Port Pirie meeting. Sugars landed only one winner – Ultimate Won for Port Pirie trainer Lyndon Hall – but with consistency, was able to grab a win with a third place on Weaponry in the sixth and final heat. He picked up seven points to go to 44 points while hometown favourite Kate Gath only picked up two points on Timansi to finish with 41. Ken Rogers was back in third on 37 points. Sugars, who was a leading driver at Port Pirie early in his career before moving to Victoria, said he was delighted with the win. “It was great that I was able to accept the invitation to drive in the series and to win was a bonus,” Sugars said. “The Elders Insurance Drivers Invitation has been a popular event ever since I took up driving and to take part and win is great. Sugars upset hometown heroine Kate Gath who always drives well at Port Pirie and was a co-winner of the Invitation in 2013 with Ryan Hryhorec and was outright winner in 2016. Heat one of the Elders Insurance Invitation went to Hez Declan, driven by Ken Rogers for Port Pirie trainer Michael Dennis. An $11.80 chance, Hez Declan scored by a head from Wills ($7), driven by Michael Bellman, with Pure Theatre ($2.90 fav), partnered by Wayne Hill 6-1/2 metres away third. The ‘Queen of Port Pirie’ Kate Gath scored an all-the-way win for trainer Tyson Linke on Reil Quick ($7.40) in heat two. Reil Quick scored easily by 6-1/2 metres from Sir Julian ($7.10), driven by Leah Harvey, with Hes Just Rusty ($9.60), partnered by Danielle Hill, 2-1/2 metres away third. Linke said he had recently freshened the six-year-old mare and believed she would continue to hold her winning form. An aggressive Sugars went forward on Ultimate Won ($17) in heat three to grab the lead from gate four and battled on strongly to score a metre win from Flaming Sheffield ($22.50), driven by Lance Justice while Wayne Hill had little luck on the $1.40 favourite Live For Peace which was a metre away third. Ultimate Won is trained by Lyndon Hall who said he was confident the three-year-old would continue to improve. Reinsman Ken Rogers landed a winning double, as did trainer Tyson Linke, when Queen of Sharkz ($1.20 fav) scored a brilliant 27-1/2 metre win in heat four of the Elders Insurance Invitation series. The four-year-old mare landed her fourth successive victory in defeating Habanero ($11.30), driven by Greg Sugars, with Coast Patrol ($14.90), partnered by Leah Harvey, four metres away third. Kath Gath landed a driving double when Big Behemoth ($1.30 fav) scored an easy all-the-way win in heat five. Trained by Leah Harvey in Kadina, Big Behemoth scored by eight metres from Little Miss Piggy ($9.40), driven by Wayne Hill, with Michael Bellman third on Timeless Jasper ($22.90), a neck away. Teenage reinsman Jayden Brewin got a late call up to the series replacing Ryan Hryhorec who had to withdraw through family issues and made the most of the opportunity with a half-neck win on Marzzz Barzzz Bazz ($3.20) for Kadina trainer Mick Darling. Manonthemoon ($4.40) finished strongly to finish second for driver Leah Harvey with Weaponry ($3.90), driven by Greg Sugars, 1-1/2 metres away third. Final points score was: Greg Sugars 44; Kate Gath 41; Ken Rogers 37; Wayne Hill, Leah Harvey 33; Danielle Hill 29; Jayden Brewin 28; Michael Bellman 27; Lance Justice 25; Aaron Bain 15. Graham Fischer

Victorian trained harness racing two-year-olds claimed the opening heats of the 2017 Alabar Breeders Challenge series at Wagga on Tuesday night. The favourite Little Peanut won the colts and geldings division in smart fashion for trainer-driver Greg Sugars while Sounds Of Terror caused an upset taking out the fillies heat for Anton Golino and local driver Cameron Hart. Sugars was in a similar predicament a few years ago when he guided the then rising star Sushi Sushi to victory in a Breeders Challenge heat at Wagga. Little Peanut is one of three pacers he trains himself in between his busy driving schedule. “He is no Sushi Sushi but a nice two-year-old who will go on to the semi finals at Menangle,” Sugars said. Little Peanut is raced by a group of five who hail from Newcastle and Grafton. The owners also raced and bred the winner’s half-brother, Youranut, who won 14 races. Little Peanut settled in fifth place and when asked to extend gathered in Sword And Shield for his third win from five starts. Although second past the finish line, Sword And Shield was relegated to third when Stone Cracker’s driver David Hewitt lodged a successful protest. Sounds Of Terror made the six hour trip from Cardigan in Victoria worth the effort when she claimed her first win at her third start. The fillies’ heat looked in the keeping of the favourite Man Hands until she galloped at the 300 metres presenting a run through for Sounds Of Terror. The winner is owned and was bred by Yabby Dam Farms which races a large number of trotters and fewer pacers. Sounds Of Terror provided Junee reinsman Cameron Hart with his biggest career victory in the $15,000 race. He was impressed with the manner the youngster extended when called on. “She finished off really well. We had a bit of luck when the favourite galloped but she was travelling well at the time and won nicely,” he said. by Graeme White

Further to events at Yarra Valley trots on 9 February, 2017, and the subsequent apology by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board Member Danny Frawley, HRV wishes to advise the following. The matter was referred to the three independent members of the Integrity Council in February.  The HRV Board has accepted all recommendations from this Integrity Council investigation, including the imposition of a $4000 fine upon Mr Frawley for his conduct, which involved inappropriate comments made towards licenced participant Greg Sugars. In addition, Mr Frawley, of his own volition, has enrolled in an AICD Director’s course, which will take place in October this year. HRV CEO David Martin said: “We are pleased the independent members of the Integrity Council have reviewed this matter and this outcome provides closure for all parties. I thank everyone involved for their cooperation throughout this investigation.” HRV Board Member Danny Frawley said: “My comments were regrettable and I accept the decision of the independent members of the Integrity Council. My role is to serve the industry as a member of the HRV Board and I look forward to putting this behind me and getting on with the job of helping the industry thrive. I’d also like to reiterate that I have the utmost respect for Greg Sugars and I thank him for his candour throughout this process.”  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Harness Racing Victoria

Gavin Smith said he would have never brought Great Things Happen back to New Zealand if he didn’t think he could win the ANZAC and Rowe Cups. The Love You-Calamity Gal gelding arrived in Auckland this morning (Thursday) and was then was floated to Robert Dunn's stable at Pukekohe. Smith was due to fly up early this afternoon to drive the 5-year-old bay in Friday's Group One $100,000 ANZAC Cup at Alexandra Park. "The original plan was to spell him back here (Kaiapoi) and then get him ready for the Dominion in November, but when I saw that some of the good ones like Monbet, Speeding Spur and Master Lavros weren't lining up I thought these two Group Ones were well within his grasp," Smith said. The North Canterbury trainer, driver said the plan all along was to ease Great Things Happen into the open class trotting ranks with easier assignments in Australia. "He's had seven races over there with Greg Sugars and won four of them. Greg has done a good job. I'm really looking forward to his next two Alexandra Park starts. "He's racing well and it would be a dream to train and drive the winner of an ANZAC Cup or Rowe Cup. I've always loved trotters and the Dominion and Rowe Cup have always been high on my bucket list," said Smith. Great Things Happen goes into Friday's 2200m Free-For-All with an easy 12-metre victory in last Sunday's Group Three $20,000 Warragul Trotters Cup. He was the $1.50 hot favourite and drew seven of nine in that 2,627m stand. He has drawn 10 on Friday. "It's not the draw I wanted. If they can hold up it would be a nice draw, but he's a free-going trotter who likes to bowl along. I don't think Alexandra Park will be a problem because he has raced there before," said Smith. “I wouldn’t be lining him up if I didn’t think he could win on both nights,” he stressed. Great Things Happen has had one race at 'The Park' for a two-length third behind Quite A Moment (Ricky May) and Bordeaux (Dexter Dunn) in the Group One $80,000 National Trot last New Year's Eve. He has also won twice from three starts over the 2200m mobile. Great Things Happen has had 11 wins from his 24 career starts and placed in five others for $107,597 in stakes. He has won his last two Australian races and on February 23 he nailed the Group Three $25,000 Tontine Trotting Championship from 40m behind. His National Trot placing is his best New Zealand performance in a Group race so far. “He’s a very exciting trotter and is probably a couple of months away from footing it with the absolute top-liners. The ANZAC and Rowe Cups were never part of his plan until the guns withdrew. “This time next year I expect him to be right up there with the best trotters in New Zealand and Australia. After next Friday’s Rowe Cup I will take him home to the spelling paddock,” Smith said. The first three runners in the ANZAC Cup will be guaranteed a start in the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday week (April 28). Great Things Happen is owned by Ted Edwards and Sara Smith. Edwards also bred him with Gary Edwards. Duane Ranger

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