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Tasmanian two-year-old pacer Scooterwillrev qualified for a berth in next Sunday's $280,000 Group 1 Breeders Crown final when he finished a game fifth in his harness racing semi-final at Bendigo on Saturday night. Scooterwillrev, prepared at Stowport by Craig Hayes, went into the semi-final undefeated from six starts in his home state but he had to contend with an outside back-row draw at his first start interstate. The gelding was driven by Greg Sugars and finished 10.8 metres from the winner Our Little General ($4.30) from the Emma Stewart stable with kiwi colt Pacing Major second as the $1.70 favourite. Scooterwillrev has drawn the inside of the second row in the final at Melton next Sunday and if the pole marker Scotlynn Beach doesn't gain a start as the emergency then the Tasmanian will follow out the likely favourite Tingara Beach (2). Miss Graceland was bred in Tasmania by Rick and Naomi Hinds and she secured her place in the 2TO Fillies final with a game second in her semi-final. Miss Graceland, trained by Emma Stewart and to be driven by Gavin Lang, has drawn gate four on the front line in the final. Three-year-old filly Nikkibadwagon that is owned by Tasmanians Robert Groenewegen, Bryan Dunn and Nic Bauld, clinched her berth in the 3YO Fillies final with a gallant second in her semi-final. Peter Staples

Persistence was rewarded when Lord Monaloo broke through to win the Hygrain Tabcorp Park Melton Cup, delivering a first Group victory for harness racing trainer Kylie Sugars. Lord Monaloo appears bound for a spell and then a giant country cups campaign after cashing in on his potential for connections in the $30,575 feature, which he won for driver Greg Sugars by 1.1m from favourite Major Star and Lets Elope. The Group level win has been a long-time coming for owners Darrell, Raelee and Graham Brook and Kylie Sugars, who nursed Lord Monaloo back from a suspensory injury in April last year, which put his career in jeopardy. “He was a horse that showed a lot of promise early and after the injury (it was unclear) if he would get back to his very best but on that run tonight he is pretty close to it,” brother Greg said. “Full credit to Kylie and the horse, they are doing a terrific job.” The seven-year-old gelding by It Is I returned at Melton on May 21 after a 16-month spell and progressively improved, breaking through in an MO on July 2 before winning again in the city one week later. A third placing in the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup heat comfortably qualified him for tonight’s final, when from gate 11 Greg Sugars was happy to bide his time, sitting third last at the bell before moving three-wide and finding cover into the race behind second-favourite Lets Elope. Phil Monty set the pace up front inside Major Star, who boxed on well for Kate Gath, but it was Lord Monaloo who swept out four-wide and overran them all to win the Group 3 and register a third victory in four starts.  “It’s been a very long, slow process. Just every run I’ve had a feeling he is getting a little bit better each time,” Greg said. “He has kept on improving.” And there appears more to come, with the seven-year-old now seemingly placed to fulfil his potential as a country cups horse.  “That’s what we sort of had him aimed at last time before he injured himself,” Greg said. “He has done a magnificent job, it has been a long and winding road to get to this point. “I would imagine he would have a little freshen up now, he deserves a little break, and we will look at the timing but the country cups circuit is not too far away. So a freshen up and then we will get him ready for then.” Michael Howard

The heartache of 2015 made all the more glorious the ecstasy of 2016 for the connections of Cruisin Around, who won the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series at Tabcorp Park Melton for harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings. In Greg Sugars’ hands the trotter overcome favourite Sundons Courage to win for Cranbourne trainer Michael Hughes and a merry band of Cranbourne owners. Among them was Bill Hutchison, who said it was the “greatest night of my life in harness racing”. “There’s no greater fun than owning a horse with blokes like this,” Hutchison said. “Cranbourne blokes, I’ve been on the committee about three or four years down there now, we got together ... this is sensational.” The gelding by Bacardi Lindy out of Cloud Chaser was beaten 2.6m into second by Chris Angove-trained Sundons Courage in the two-year-old Vicbred race last year, a fact not lost on his owners. “We had unfinished business and we got there tonight, and he proved he’s the best of them,” Hutchison said. Having started the back row, Sugars had Cruisin Around one-out three-back mid-race before drawing three-wide down the back straight to chase leader Sundons Courage, driven by Chris Alford. “Always a little bit of a concern with the two main dangers obviously going to settle down a fair way in front of us,” Sugars said. “Drawn the back row we had to rely on a little bit of luck at some stage, but that meant that we didn’t spend any petrol earlier.” Sugars tried to join the front runners at the turn but Sundons Courage remained strong out front. “When Chrissy kicked and I just got to his wheel I was flat out and he seemed to be going well on the leader, I wasn’t confident I was going to pick him up,” Sugars said. But the last 50m was all Cruisin Around.  “They had to do a bit of work to find the front in Sundons Courage and we got off relatively easy, lobbed within a couple of lengths and that was probably the difference over the last 150m,” Sugars said. “Halfway up the straight this horse really dug deep and I felt him lift and Sundons Courage probably just felt the pinch for that early work and (Cruisin Around) was strong to the finish.  “There’s not much between those two, as we’ve seen they have fought out quite a few finishes, not only this preparation but last season as well. “It’s good to turn the tables on him in the Vicbred when I thought we had the race shot to pieces last year. Really pleased for this group of owners, the horse did a terrific job. Full credit to (trainer) Mick (Hughes), he had him in tip-top order this whole campaign.” A 29.6 last quarter sealed a 2:00.3 winning mile rate for Cruisin Around and a terrific result for Hughes. “It was special. We just missed out last year as a two-year-old when Sundons Courage just got him on the line,” Hughes said. “This time we reversed the tables and it was a good effort, great drive by Greg. “Last prep he gave me a few headaches but this time in he has been really good. He was very immature last time in but he has sort of grown half a brain this time, put it all together and he has the record on the board.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

An emerging trotting powerhouse fired its first shot in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series, with Aldebaran Eve winning the three-year-old fillies’ final at Tabcorp Park Melton Friday night for harness racing trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll. Having established Yabby Dam Farms at Cardigan, near Ballarat, Driscoll and Golino won with the filly by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Dream, who Greg Sugars put into the box seat from barrier one and had the most tickets left in the straight. “It’s a real thrill for Pat and Anton to score a winner in the Vicbred series, their first since setting up and moving down to Victoria,” Sugars said. “They are a terrific outfit and great group of people, not only those two but all the workers around them. It’s a privilege to be associated with them.” Golino said he “appreciated” the win “a lot”, lauding “all my staff and Greg for such a great drive”. Aldebaran Eve was steered to the leader’s back from barrier one, with favourite Into The Unknown taking the breeze outside the leader, second favourite Princess Phoenix. Come the final straight and Into The Unknown found the challenge too much, enabling Aldebaran Eve to peel off the leader’s back and run a 29.8 final quarter to win by 1.7m in a 2:00.6 mile rate. “She’s a nice little filly, she’s getting better with every start and we said after the heat we just need a good draw, one would be nice and that’s what she got and that’s what won us the race.” The win came as something of a surprise for the stable, with Sugars admitting this one had “probably been at the bottom of the list” of the Yabby Dams crew. For owner Driscoll, it made victory all the sweeter. “It’s quite a thrill,” he said. “A bit unexpected, because she was probably the least of the runners we have here tonight. It was a great drive by Greg and a wonderful training performance by Anton.” Michael Howard Harnes Racing Victora

Harness Racing aficionados will be licking their lips at the thought of next Saturday night’s four-year-old entires and geldings’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final after tonight’s semis and barrier draw. Heat winners Ideal For Real and Tee Cee Bee Macray have drawn five and 13 respectively, while reigning Vicbred champ and horse of the year Menin Gate, a fierce warrior when in front, has drawn well in barrier three. Murranji Track in gate two has good gate speed and can run along also, so he will surely create headaches for speed mappers. Tee Cee Bee Macray was ultra-impressive in winning his heat tonight, and while barrier 13 is never ideal, he does his best work when winding up with a big finish. Trained by Alan Tubbs, Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder/Way Mya Macray) sprinted powerfully through the final 400m to overhaul pacemaker Solarsonic in the run to the line. Driven by Greg Sugars, Tee Cee Bee Macray rated 1:56.9. “There’s a lot of depth in the (four-year-old) field … but he’s very fast,” Sugars said. “He’s a very good horse.” The win clearly meant plenty for the Tubbs team, who received plenty of congratulations trackside. Ideal For Real (American Ideal/Tamara Hall) was also super-impressive, the Emma Stewart-trained star winning its 10th race from 18 starts with a 1:56.2 run to score by 14.2m over runner-up Sevens Hope with Mister Wickham third. Despite the ease of the win and the high expectations being placed on Ideal For Real, Lang said the entire still had a bit to learn. “He’s got to learn to go straight or he’ll have to cover more ground than the others … he’ll get beat doing that,” he said. “He’s got a good record but it won’t be an easy race next week.” The continued dominance of the Emma Stewart stable was on full display in the four-year-old mares’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-finals tonight. The Smythes Creek trainer qualified five mares for next Saturday night’s final, giving her almost half the field. Stewart-trained Starburst Girl (barrier two for the final), Brighty Valentine (three), Lovelist (seven), Delight Me (nine) and Stay And Play (11) will all line up in the big dance. Delight Me (Bettor's Delight/Cornsilk) impressively won her semi-final with Gavin Lang in the sulky, defeating stablemates Lovelist and Starburst Girl in the first semi-final, working wide in the run before finding the line strongly. Stay And Play (Live Or Die/Play Ball) posted a mile rate of 1:56.2 in her 8.3m win over Snip Of Grand in the second semi-final, with third placegetter Brighty Valentine also hailing from the Stewart stable.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Mares Final barrier draw 1: Diamond Castle 2: Starburst Girl 3: Brighty Valentine 4: Soho Tokyo 5: Boadiceas Fury 6: Snip Of Grand 7: Lovelist 8: Glory Daze 9: Delight Me 10: Morton Plains 11: Stay And Play 12: Keayang Mercedes (em) 13: Miss Dreaming Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires & Geldings Final barrier draw 1: Repeat After Me 2: Murranji Track 3: Menin Gate 4: Sevens Hope 5: Ideal For Real 6: Lucky Lombo 7: Mister Wickham 8: Solarsonic 9: Stagger Lee 10: Soynwasabi 11: Rule Of Thumb (em) 12: Blacknbrown 13: Tee Cee Bee Macray ............................................................................................................................................................................... Tingira Beach has emerged a frontrunner in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series' two-year-old colts and geldings for New South Wales team Shane and Lauren Tritton, dominating his semi-final and drawing well. Things only got better for the Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Western Tingira after he won his class's second semi-final by 12.9m, having then drawn barrier four in the final. Conversely, fellow semi-final winner Jilliby Kung Fu will start from barrier 12 and will have to do things the hard way in the final on Saturday, July 2. Lauren Tritton, driver of Tingira Beach, warned there was more improvement to come from her colt, who found the front and comfortably beat highly-fancied Victorians Our Little General and Wrappers Delight into second and third place. “(Tingira Beach) is still really green, he still had a look around, but tonight he raced a lot better," Tritton said post-win. "He still had a good look around in the race and was on and off the bit. Next week he might run a bit better and could get the best of them." Tritton said Tingira Beach's favourable draw, albeit with Geoff Webster's Wrappers Delight inside her, would not be a huge factor. “He’s very versatile and the barrier doesn’t really mean much too him," Tritton said. "He hasn’t got that much gate speed in him, it’s always good to draw a good barrier but that’s not much of a worry.” It could be a worry for Jilliby Kung Fu, though the talented Terang colt is only too happy to run them down from behind. In his semi-final, Jilliby Kung Fu found the front and, though he “gets a bit lonely out there on his own”, according to driver Jason Lee, he had enough of a buffer to win by 2.5m from Geoff Webster’s fast-finishing Misterfreeze. The two-year-old colt by Four Starzzz Shark out of Slip Slop Slap, trained at Terang by Marg Lee, produced a fifth win in 10 starts when from barrier 10 he looped the field to find the front. “I think he’s a better chaser and I probably got a bit of itchy feet and thought I should jump around to the front, but he didn’t really want to go on with the job,” Jason Lee said. “He had a little bit left in the tank.” Misterfreeze kept him close company at Tabcorp Park Melton in the semi-finals and Somebeachshadow, trained by Craig Demmler and driven by Jodi Quinlan, surprised with a third placing having started a $59 shot.   Barrier draws: Two-year-old colts and geldings pacers 1: Wrappers Delight 2: Ruthless Armbro 3: Misterfreeze 4: Tingira Beach 5: Form Analyst (emg) 6: Island Specialmajor 7: Canada Bay 8: Our Little General 9: Bundy Playboy 10: Albarock 11: Somebeachshadow 12: Jilliby Kung Fu 13: Classic Maker (ODM) Cody Winnell & Michael Howard

Smythes Creek harness racing trainer Emma Stewart holds plenty of aces in next Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. The three-year-old pacing fillies’ division appears to be one of her strongest hands. Stewart has four runners in the field and semi-final winner Whirily School’s stocks only rose when she pulled gate one at the barrier draw. “It was one of those cases where the wide barrier draw was actually to her advantage,” Greg Sugars said of Whirily School’s semi-final win tonight. “We were able to press forward and once she was able to take up the lead she was always the one to beat. “It’s probably a very honest and fair assessment to say she’s probably a length or so behind the very best of her age group, but she is certainly not far behind them . With a bit of luck in the final she is definitely in with a chance.” Whirily School (Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen) worked forward to eventually find the lead through a 45secs lead time and posted quarters of 30.5, 32.5, 28.9 and 28.9 for a mile rate of 1:58.7. Stablemate Rocknroll Magic will take a power of beating in the final though, despite drawing barrier 11. The filly by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic made it 15 career wins from 22 starts tonight, notching a 1:57.5 mile rate in the chair (55.2 last half) to overhaul leader Rockstar Angel by a half-neck. “I probably expected that is where I would land in the run but I was still confident enough she’d be good enough,” winning driver Gavin Lang said. “She’s one of the main players (in the final), as you know with Emma and Clayton’s horses this time of the year they’re always on song.” Rockstar Angel has drawn barrier eight so will follow Whirily School. In the three-year-old colts and geldings’ final, semi-final winners Soho Tribeca (American Ideal/Pixel Perfect) and Iceenothink (Art Major/Decethree Lombo) have drawn gates three and four for the Final. Iceenothink finished powerfully tonight for Chris Alford and trainer Larry Eastman (who combined to win this section last year with Menin Gate), holding off Mario Attard and Don’t Hold Back, who also savaged the line from well-back. Iceenothink posted a 1:57.4 mile rate. Soho Tribeca, trained by Jayne Davies and driven by Alford, scored by a half-neck over Carter Bromac, with Brallos Pass third in a rate of 1:57.4. “He was going to get a good run through, (it was) just whether he could stay in front of Brallos Pass. That didn’t work out but he (Brallos Pass) had to do a fair bit of work,” Alford said. “Just got to hope he gets a good draw and he can play a part next week.” Burrumbeet trainer-driver Michael Stanley is set for a busy Vicbred finals night once again, qualifying six pacers through tonight’s semis. His three-year-old Spiritwriter drew the pole in the males’ division and that brings him right into contention.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Fillies Final Barrier Draw 1: Whirily School 2: Ideal Lifestyle 3: Kalinda 4: Platinum Power (em) 5: Just Wantano 6: Nikkibadwagon 7: Flojos Gold 8: Rockstar Angel 9: Alessa 10: Celebrity Guest 11: Rocknroll Magic 12: Rockabella Starz 13: Champagne Taste Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts & Geldnigs Final Barrier Draw 1: Spiritwriter 2: Battle Born 3: Soho Tribeca 4: Iceenothink 5: Keep On Rocking 6: Senor Macray 7: Brallos Pass 8: Herehecomes 9: Professor Tom 10: Showgun Thomas 11: Illawong Maestro 12: Dont Hold Back 13: Carter Bromac ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Advantage Sundons Courage and Princess Phoenix after the three-year-old trotters' barrier draws for the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Drawn on Friday night amid the pacers' semi-finals, Sundons Courage drew the front row in the colts and geldings and fellow heat winner Cruisin Around will start from barrier eight, while Sky Majesty will start from barrier 12 in the fillies, opening the door further for her rivals. The three-year-old fillies semi-final promises to be an evenly fought and engaging final, with several winning hopes. Among them is Princess Phoenix, a $1.80 favourite in the second heat at Bendigo last Wednesday, who led but was beaten into third by winner Into The Unknown, from Donna Lewis’ Toolern Vale stable, and Geoff Webster’s Rift Valley. The first heat was all about Sky Majesty (Skyvalley/Mystic Hush). Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan was rapt with her filly’s heat win, which she said was one of her “best runs to date”. The 12m victory came after she found the front and careered away, and Sky Majesty should be right in the final despite the tough draw. “I was very happy with her heat,” Quinlan said. “She’s a good chance. There’s not a lot of difference between the horses in the grade, it is pretty even. “(Sky Majesty) can sit and sprint. She is not a class above them, but I think they have all come back to each other.” The three-year-old colts and geldings final also promises much, not the least of which is another showdown between Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy/Cloud Chaser) and Sundons Courage. Both won their heats, with Sundons Courage (Sundon/Truscott Photo) a 1.6m winner for Muckleford trainer Chris Angove and Bolinda driver Chris Alford, with Brent Lilley’s $34-shot Kyvalley Tinman running into second. Cruisin Around’s win was even tighter. Driven to one-out one-back by Myrniong’s Greg Sugars, Cruisin Around lost touch with front runners Calder Knight and Big Jack Hammer at the final bend but wound up sufficiently in the straight to win by a short half-head. Bannockburn trainer-driver Geoff Webster’s three-year-old Big Jack Hammer (The Press/Running Pinevale) punched on for second in the breeze and will be a threat come next Friday’s final, says Cranbourne’s Michael Hughes, trainer of Cruisin Around. “There are three or four really good horses,” Hughes said. “(Cruisin Around) has always had a ding-dong battle with Sundons Courage. Big Jack Hammer looked back on song, and a few others are also a chance. It will all come down to who has the best luck.” Hughes’ confidence about his own charge’s horse were only emboldened with Cruisin Around’s heat win. “I think he went pretty good. I was a little worried when he lost ground at the top of the straight, but he did a good job to pick them up in such a quick quarter,” Hughes said. “I give him a really good chance as long as he does everything right. The horse is really good, feels really good, there are no issues. He is a good sit-sprinter, but has also done it the tough way and led before.”   Barrier draws: Three-year-old colts and geldings trotters 1: Kyvalley Tinman 2: Skyflyer 3: Big Jack Hammer 4: Calder Knight 5: Sundons Courage 6: Cargerie 7: Sun Valley Road 8: Cruisin Around 9: Diamond Wes (emg) 10: Sky Me A River 11: Menewa 12: Shetland  13: Imahe Man (ODM)   Barrier draws: Three-year-old fillies trotters 1: Aldebaran Eve 2: Never Never Land (emg) 3: Princess Phoenix 4: Mizurri 5: Defence Power 6: Into The Unknown 7: The Cooler 8: Tension Seeker 9: Getthenet 10: Illawong Bliss 11: Rift Valley 12: Sky Majesty 13: Scottish Sardius (ODM) Michael Howard/Cody Winnell

Spitfire Rose will be long odds in Friday Night’s Harness Racing Breeders Victoria Richmond Lass, but trainer Bruce Morgan believes she is more than capable of causing an upset. Born in Western Australia, Spitfire Rose started her career in Tasmania before stints with Adam Kelly in Victoria, John Tapp in New South Wales and now with Morgan in Bendigo. The latter certainly knows what it takes to train a good filly/mare, having put the polish on 1999 Australian Oaks winner Mother Courage. Spitfire Rose, by Jeremes Jet out of Weona Beachley, has been under Morgan’s tutelage for two months and has run terrific races without winning. “She has been pretty consistent since she arrived,” Morgan said. "She has plenty of class about her and is a lovely mare. She can be a little bit of an enigma, however. “I think she is in pretty good form and she has been running good times. She has drawn well again with a gun driver (Greg Sugars) and I think she will be more than competitive.” A prolific winner early in her career, Spitfire Rose has been out of the winner's stall for some time and that certainly has Morgan surprised. “She has never won a race on the Australian mainland as yet. She was with John Tapp and Adam Kelly and run a stack of places without being able to win.” Morgan admits that tonight’s race is very tough, and said Emma Stewart's outstanding mare Gumdrops was the class horse of the race “(Gumdrops) has very high speed, which you need to have. She does have a bad barrier draw, but good horses can overcome that” Morgan said.  Matt Jackson

Tee Cee Bee Macray’s emergence as a four-year-old of significant talent was only enhanced with a commanding win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, which will have the gelding a short price for next week’s final. Heats one and two of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace, which is restricted to M0, saw the Alan Tubbs trained gelding confirm his class, coming from the back of the field to rally five-wide and run past a couple of smart types with plenty in the tank. “It was a genuinely run race, which she probably still needed that to some degree with where we settled,” driver Greg Sugars said. “Having said that, he did have a pretty good class edge on most of his rivals. He did the job nicely in the end.” SEE THE FULL RESULTS AND REPLAYS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT'S RACING Colin Rogers’ well-rated Merbein flyer Murranji Track again gave a good account of himself, facing the breeze outside Gollahgirl and while others faded the tough Grinfromeartoear gelding pressed on to run into second, getting to the line strongly to outpoint third-placed Niki No No. Their strong performances have earned them tickets to return to Tabcorp Park Melton next Friday night for the metropolitan pace final, where they will confront heat one winner Miss Dreamin. Kerryn Manning pulled all the right reins on Paul Campbell’s four-year-old mare, showing gate speed to take the lead on Miss Dreamin before allowing favourite Fake Smile to slide to the front mid-race while she took leader’s back. Come the sprint lane Miss Dreamin was hitting the line hard and had enough in the bank to win a photo finish, with just a half-head separating the winner from second-placed Masterofthurles, another half-head to third-placed Fake Smile, while Marg Lee’s Keayang Ebonyrose was a close fourth. “She went really nice,” Manning said of the mare by Lis Mara out of Karamea Dreamin. “I had the option of holding the favourite (Fake Smile) out, but she was always going to get a good trip (in the box seat) and she does sprint lane quite well we thought. “She just got there on the line, but did well. You couldn’t ask for much better really. She just keeps stepping up and has again tonight. Obviously the final will be a little harder, but she is well in it now.” Michael Doltoff trained Fake Smile, who had won eight of nine starts leading into tonight, will only be better for the run having been first up from a spell. A tantalising showdown against Tee Cee Bee Macray awaits, having last met in in February’s Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, when Tee Cee Bee Macray placed third and Fake Smile fourth behind Tact Tate and Itz Bettor To Win. On Friday night the good times also rolled on for Horsham father-and-son team trainer Barry and driver Aaron Dunn. Leading in they had produced five consecutive wins and while the succession was broken when Little Lyn was unable to overcome her awkward draw in her keenly contested race, Nikkibadwagon only further enhanced her reputation. Having driven his first Melton winner only one week earlier, Aaron Dunn snapped up number two when his three-year-old filly won the University Meat 3YO Pace, having been three-wide for much of the last lap before letting down in the straight to outpace $3.30 favourite Rockstar Angel. “I (went) a bit earlier than I would have liked,” Dunn said, having been surprised Hu Hu R U crossed Dancingwithsierra to take the breeze, which left Nikkibadwagon exposed three-wide. “At least we were able get a bit of a breather down the back straight.” A 30.6 second quarter rolled into a 29.5 third quarter as Nikkibadwagon joined the front runners and ultimately scored a 3.2m win. “She’s got a lot of depth and she can really sprint home.” Milly Perez, for Marong trainer Larry Eastman, also produced another eye-catching performance, winning the Matt Laing’s Bucks Pace with Chris Alford in the sulky. A 12th career win increased the Four Starzzz Shark’s mare’s winnings to almost $200,000, with Milly Perez proving too good after having sat with cover until the last time down the back straight, when she popped out and wore her rivals down. “She’s going super,” Alford said. “I thought tonight we would get a nice easy run without doing much, but we had to come out pretty early and she was still travelling really well around the turn and picked up in the straight.” Shes Just a Delight, trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, ran on well to claim second, 3.5m in arrears of the winner. While most races largely went to script, many punters were bundled out of the quaddie when Classy Western made every post a winner to claim the Cougar Bourbon Pace for trainer-driver Allan McDonough. It was the well-respected seven-year-old’s first placing in 17 races, with the frenetic early lead time (43.9) set by a pulling Savesometimetodream, while Matt Craven’s Changing Code loomed forward from a middling start. At the back of the field Classy Western sat in wait, tailing Lets Elope into the race three-wide. As the leaders faded, Lets Elope worked clear, releasing Classy Western for a backmarkers battle down the straight and it was the Western Terror gelding who snapped up the win. “He’s been going terrific all this season really,” McDonough said. “Tonight the lead time was good and I was able to get a good cart into the race.” In other races, Nathan Jack drove a double, claiming the first – the DNR Logistics Pace – with David Abrahams trained Fabrication (Dream Vacation/Figment), and the tab.com.au pace final for Wayne Potter’s impressive three-year-old Itz Billy Hillis (Bettors Delight/Itz Got The Giggles), who has won four of his six starts. Geoff Webster produced a double of a different kind, training the first two placegetters in the Join The Pegasus Club Pace Final. Webster drove Mach Doro (Mach Three/Three Eagles) to clip stablemate Kotare York (Mach Three/Kotare Yoyo) by a head. Tenno Dance (Tennotrump/Disco Dance) won the Aldebaran Park Trot for Strathfieldsaye trainer Glenn Sharp and Bolinda driver Josh Duggan, and Black Valley (Skyvalley/Black Curlew) wrapped up the night by winning the VHRSC The Owners Voice Trot Final for Kyabram trainer Robert Shellie and Shepparton driver Rebecca Bartley. “Everything went good tonight,” Bartley said. “He travelled really well and got the job done.” Michael Howard

Nike Franco’s position among Australia’s elite harness racing mares has been further entrenched with a powerful $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific win at Tabcorp Park Melton. The five-year-old mare (by McArdle out of Nearea Franco) from Dean Braun’s Lara stables upstaged a quality line-up in the Group 1 mares’ classic, including former race winner Gumdrops and millionaire earner Frith. Nike Franco led for the majority of Saturday night’s 2760-metre journey and rated 1:56.5, finishing 1.9m clear of runner-up Milly Perez with third placegetter and race favourite Cyclone Kate 3.1m off the winner. RE-LIVE NIKE FRANCO’S QUEEN OF THE PACIFIC TRIUMPH “This mare’s so exciting,” an elated Braun said. “I’ve had some really good racehorses but this mare’s very special. “I said to Greg Sugars (Driver) that I thought I had her pretty right tonight … he drove her really well.” Nike Franco has won feature races in four Australian states, with two Oaks successes in Queensland – the Gold Coast and the Qld, the Raith Memorial in New South Wales, the rich Mares Classic in Western Australia, and this season’s Warragul Cup and now the Queen of the Pacific in Victoria. “To do what she did tonight was pretty special,” Braun said.   The victory capped a great night for Greg Sugars, who drove a winning treble and dual Group 1 successes after earlier securing the win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final for 2YO Trotting Fillies aboard Illawong Shimmer, trained by Greg’s father Ross. Illawong Shimmer (by Muscle Mass out of Shining Sun) is, as her name suggests, a member of trots owner Dr Martin Hartnett’s clan. “They deserve every win they get for what they put in,” Sugars said post-race of Hartnett and wife Kaye. Illawong Shimmer rated 2:01.2 for the 1720m trip to defeat Yankee Redback (Kerryn Manning) with Sval Queen (Anthony Butt) third. Deltasun won the night’s other Group 1, the colts and geldings’ trotters Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic. Trained by former jockey Terry Young at Ararat, Deltasun (by Tennotrump out of Deltasu) handled the final corner better than race favourite Illawong Byron (Jodi Quinlan) and held a half-neck advantage over that horse on the line in a rate of 2:01.6, with Kheiron (Peter Lane) third. Sugars and Lang shared driving honours at Melton, each grabbing a treble. In addition to the abovementioned victories Sugars steered Anton Golino-trained Val Gardena (by Kadabra out of Lets Be Happy) to victory in the Haras Des Trotteurs Sweetheart Trot Final, while Lang guided former New South Wales Derby winner Major Secret (Art Major/Secret Life) home in the Best In Town Concreting Pace for Emma Stewart, and Hectorjayjay (Dream Away/Sheer Finesse) to victory in the Group 2 University Meat 4YO and 5YO Championship over 2240m. CHECK OUT ALL THE RESULTS & VIDEO REPLAYS FROM MELTON Other Melton winners were Little Lyn (by Jeremes Jet out of Rappa Scooter), a homebred mare raced and trained by Barry Dunn at Horsham and driven by son Aaron Dunn in the Service Sphere Pace, popular It Is Billy (by It Is I out of Glenlyon Glad) in the Crown Coffee International Golden Reign Free-for-All for trainer Michael Barby and driver Anne-Maree Conroy, Stoned I Am (by Sundon out of Stoned At Midnight) in the Seelite Windows and Doors Coulter Crown for trainer/driver Simone Walker, and in-form eight-year-old Might Be Luck (by Northern Luck out of Marilyns Might) in the Riddell Umpires Association Claiming Pace for trainer Beau Tindale and reinsman Michael Bellman. Victorians shine interstate Another week, another domination from the Emma Stewart stable – this time at Globe Derby, South Australia. The Smythes Creek trainer secured a winning treble on Saturday night at the SA home of metro trots racing, with unbeaten two-year-old filly Our Celebrity (by Mach Three out of Celebrity Ball) winning the Alabar/SA Botra 2YO Fillies Golden Nursery Final, impressive three-year-old Rocknroll Magic (by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic) taking out the Home Loans-Providing Solutions SA Botra 3YO Fillies Final, and Metro Mike (by Metropolitan out of Tuscan Skies) saluting in the Carbine Chemicals Pacers Dash over 1385m. CHECK OUT ALL THE RESULTS FROM GLOBE DERBY, SA All Stewart’s winners were driven by Mark Billinger, who picked up five winners for the night overall. Meanwhile, at Menangle in New South Wales, classy five-year-old trotting mare Claudys Princess (by Bacardi Lindy out of All Finesse) took out the Rio Meteor Race Sulky La Coocaracha (Group 3) with Darren Hancock in the cart for Kyabram trainer Mick Blackmore, and Golino-trained Pizza Queen (by Credit Winner out of Armbro Domino) won the Garrards Horse and Hound NSW Trotters Oaks for reinsman David Morris, upstaging race favourite High Gait in a thrilling finish. WATCH PIZZA QUEEN'S NSW TROTTERS OAKS SUCCESS Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)  

Local harness racing trainer Michael Hughes prepared five-year-old mare Narreeva to win the Ken Miller Memorial race at Warragul's trotting meeting on Monday afternoon. In a keen contest Narreeva stormed home out wide to grab victory from Comigal and Temporal Join. The mare is bred and raced by veteran Narre Warren horseman Arthur Fullwood and is a recent addition to the Hughes stable. Narreeva bought up three winning drives for the afternoon for top horseman Greg Sugars, who won earlier in the day with Manly Mach and Betterman Stride. Melton trainer Brett Cargill had his name selected as the winner of a new Dooza Engineering racing sulky, from trainers who had a starter in the Miller Memorial event. Cargill was lucky enough to win the same lucky draw two years ago. Co-feature at Monday's meeting was the Traralgon Pacing Cup, where another exciting contest saw Pressplay grab victory in a keen finish. Trained at Doreen by Rebecca Cartwright and driven by Craig Turnbull, Pressplay has recorded 12 wins from 55 starts. Locally owned and trained filly Courageous Call scored an easy win in the fourth race. Coming off a sixth placing in the recent Victoria Oaks, Courageous Call appreciated a significant drop in class, and led all the way for trainer Gary Quinlan and driver Anthony Butt. She has won connections almost $29,000 in stakes with three wins and five minor placings from only 11 starts. Two other popular winners on the day were Mister Gunsen for trainer-driver Paul Grech in an eventful Trotters Handicap, and Change Of Address, which recorded a third win in succession when taking out the last race. Despite cold, windy conditions, a good crowd was on hand for the eight race program at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. Kyle Galley

Stunning harness racing colt The Storm Inside achieved what for long has appeared his two-year-old destiny and won the Group 1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Emma Stewart’s freak by Rocknroll Hanover out of Spirited Storm appeared to do it easy, with Greg Sugars taking the lead and clearing out on the straight, requiring only a flick of the reins and a tap of the whip to claim the mantle of Australia’s finest. “He’s an absolute pleasure to drive,” Sugars said. “Clayton (Tonkin) and Emma have done a wonderful job with this horse.” The race appeared in The Storm Inside’s keeping throughout, with Sugars driving it to the lead from barrier two while Weona Sizzler took the sit on his back. Chris Alford temporarily put Our Little General, Stewart’s other runner, into the breeze, but an unsettled Three Of The Best kicked up first time down the main straight, looping Alford as Gavin Lang wrestled with the Queensland gelding. He eventually settled in the breeze, but there was little respite with Geoff Webster hooking Wrappers Delight three-wide with almost 1000m to go and there they remained to the final bend. Having raced fiercely, Three Of The Best’s bid appeared done at the final turn, on his tail Alford and  second-favourite Our Little General struggled to find a run while San Domino made ground four-wide and Weona Sizzler moved up on the pegs. The latter two would run into second and third, but removed from the commotion was The Storm Inside, who Sugars urged clear at the turn and who advanced to win by 6.8m in a mile rate of 1:55.6. “Bit of a relief to get it out of the way. I’m sure it’s a big weight off the shoulders of Emma and Clayton,” Sugars said. “He proved the best horse tonight and it all went to plan. He had a good draw and he’d probably already shown before tonight that he was the best horse in the field, but it’s still never as easy as just turning up. You’ve got to earn it.” While it may have appeared oh-so-easy for the bay colt, many hands have gone into crafting The Storm Inside, who improved to six wins from as many starts. That began with Helen Head of Manna Lodge in Congupna, who ventured to America to purchase a filly, which she brought back to Australia and utilised to breed a champion. “I’m thrilled to bits tonight to win,” Ms Head said. And then there were the owners, strong in numbers and bursting with pride, none more so than Justin Baker. “To win a race like this, wow, this is just a dream come true,” Baker said. And, of course, Stewart herself, who not only claimed the night’s grandest crown, but produced five of the card’s 10 winners. “It’s just a fantastic series,” she said. “I know sales time is Clayton’s favourite time and we really appreciate the Australian Pacing Gold.”  Michael Howard

The Storm Inside’s reputation as a freak two-year-old was only heightened when the colt produced an outstanding win in the second Australian Pacing Gold semi-final at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Smythes Creek stable claimed both semi-finals with Our Little General (Mach Three) and The Storm Inside (Rocknroll Hanover) , and it was the latter that again dropped jaws having been tested early before finding the lead and still having plenty in the tank to draw clear and win by 9.5m. “He’s showing start-by-start that he’s an improved horse,” driver Greg Sugars said in the wake of The Storm Inside’s win. “He’s the real deal. He’s a top horse and I’m looking forward to next week.” He’ll likely start a short-priced favourite after Saturday night’s outstanding showing. In the first semi-final, Our Little General, renowned for his sprint, was instead called on to produce a dogged run to win the first of the semi-finals. With heat on in the early going Our Little General was the third of four-wide to the first corner, eventually claiming the lead inside Jilliby Kung Fu. By the bell Geoff Webster’s fancied Wrappers Delight had cornered the field and sidled next to Our Little General in the breeze, and they cooled their heels from a 27.7 first quarter to a 29.3 second. Our Little General and Wrappers Delight gained separation at the final bend but the latter lost touch and $21 shot Three Of The Best was the best of the swoopers, almost pinching the race from Stewart’s short-priced favourite. Driver Chris Alford had Our Little General hold on to win from Three Of The Best by a half-head, with Wrappers Delight third and Weona Sizzler (fourth) and None Bettor (fifth) also qualifying for the final.  “He’s a good little horse and had to earn it tonight,” Alford said. “Being in front is not ideal for him. You never know when they get pressure how they will handle it. He is probably better with the sit. Hopefully next week we can get a draw and a bit of luck.” Our Little General won in a 1:55.4 mile, a time eclipsed by 0.8s in the second semi-final.  Alford, chasing a fourth win from as many races on the night, made The Storm Inside earn the lead by pushing Redbank Blaze along early before handing up to Greg Sugars when they entered the straight for the first time. Sugars settled in on The Storm Inside but was kept honest when Bettor Be Gold loomed into the breeze on the back straight. Any thought that the $1.20 favourite was under threat though was soon erased with Sugars again barely moving as The Storm Inside rattled down the final straight to win in 1:54.3. Redbank Blaze ran second from Atomic Red, Bettor Be Gold and fifth-placed San Domino, who all qualified for Friday night’s $322,000 final. by Michael Howard

An ambitious and targeted approach saw three-year-old Blackbird Power show great improvement and capture a prized purse. Harness racing trainer Ross Sugars’ gelding, which is by Mach Three out of Power Play, won the George Croxford Tribute Final at Shepparton on Tuesday, when Greg Sugars placed him in front and the $2.40 favourite held off fast-finishing Showgun Thomas and Code Black. The victory delivered Blackbird Power’s connections the bulk share of the $25,575 purse, just reward for owner Gavin Kelly who Ross Sugars said “picked the race out a couple of months ago and we set him for it”. “We weren’t expecting it to be an easy shot, but this horse has been getter better, has good manners and improved a lot from when it was a two-year-old,” Sugars said. Blackbird Power was a maiden when he resumed racing as a three-year-old on Christmas Eve and placed at Maryborough, and was then fourth at the VHRSC 3YO Cup at Melton and seventh in his VHRSC Victoria Derby heat. “He never looked a contender, but got a good education,” Sugars said. “He had a month away from any racing after that and we just kept working him and he blossomed as we worked out a bit of a training routine that suited this guy.” Blackbird Power returned to run second in the first International All Star Series race at Melton on March 7, having been beaten 1m by Spiritwriter, who went on to break a track record at Hamilton. Next up for Blackbird Power was the third heat of the George Croxford Tribute at Wangaratta on March 13. “He drew well at Wangaratta, although we were a little worried about Code Black who come across from New South Wales,” Sugars said. Code Black started the heat a $1.90 favourite, but Blackbird Power led and Code Black was trapped three-wide for much of the early running before finding the breeze. In the straight it was Blackbird Power who had more in the tank. “He went pretty good at Wangaratta, and we thought if he gets a good draw in the final then it could work out well. If he gets that nice run he is capable of running a very quick last quarter. For once it unfolded well.” From gate two Blackbird Power led well from the mobile start to take the lead and soon enough Code Black swept three-wide and took the breeze, mirroring their heat. Come the straight it was a race in three, with Greg Sugars managing to drive Blackbird Power to the line, holding off second-placed Showgun Thomas, who used the sprint lane, by 1.8m with Code Black a further head back in third. Sugars said Blackbird Power would now be considered for the $40,000 VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 1, with a likely tilt at Breeders Crown to follow. Michael Howard

The Green Hornet (Yannick Gingras) has shot to the top of the leaderboard after a thrilling first day of the harness racing International All Star Series. US superstar Yannick Gingras drove victories in his first two starts on Australian soil and then followed up with a bold run in the last race to steal the limelight on day one. But it wasn’t all an international flavour, with Terang young gun Jason Lee claiming one for the Vics in race three on Yackandandah and then Greg Sugars winning the fourth and last, romping home late with Wardwell to overpower Gingras’ Captain Bronzie. The six-meet series, which starts and ends at Tabcorp Park Melton around meets at Echuca, Maryborough, Ballarat and Bendigo, began with Gingras driving Michael Stanley’s promising threeyear-old Spiritwriter to a thrilling win. Spiritwriter ran down a bold drive by Gavin Lang aboard Blackbird Power, who appeared to have pinched the race. “I thought I was coming second down the stretch, I always felt Gavin had it but asked the horse for a little bit more and it ran great,” Gingras said. Gingras then followed up with a 10m win on Fiery Blue Chip in race two, with Comigal (Dexter Dunn) and Illawong Bella (third) filling the placings. His run was broken when Lee, still a concession driver and the series’ youngest competitor, claimed the third race aboard Yackandandah, with ultraconsistent Dexter Dunn (New Zealand) finishing second driving Zalta and Victorian Chris Alford third on Jaccka Wilco. “I can sort of relax now,” Lee joked, having cracked through for a win. He said he felt lucky to have been picked for the event and been exposed to such champion drivers. The last race provided another ripping showdown, with Greg Sugars mowing down Gingras to salute on Wardwell, a third win for Sugars on the day having won the opening two races on the card, which were not part of the series. Gingras said he found the racing more comfortable than expected, noting with a wry smile “I was near the front as usual, so things didn’t really feel much different to home”. Harness Racing Victoria chief executive John Anderson said to be “in the presence of such greatness was quite an honour,” with the Victoria and World teams combining for 40,000 wins collectively. The racing followed a visit from Melton Specialist School students, who had superstar cards and caps signed by the drivers and were overjoyed by a visit from Captain Joy. Now retired, Captain Joy won more than $1 million in its career and is cared for by Susan Hunter through HRV’s HERO Program, which re-educates retired racehorses. International All Star Series day one leaderboard: Yannick Gingras 42 Dexter Dunn 33 Chris Alford 31 Jason Lee 30 Greg Sugars 27.5 Brett Miller 21 Gavin Lang 20.5 Corey Callahan 19 Anthony Butt 18 Kerryn Manning 15   Overall leaderboard:  World 133,  Victoria 124.    Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria

Leading Victoria harness racing trainer Emma Stewart seldom goes home empty-handed when she hits Tabcorp Park Menangle. And her attention to youngsters and her marvellous training efforts with co-trainer Clayton Tonkin were brought to the fore again at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight when lightly-raced The Storm Inside scored an easy win in the Grinders Coffee Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial. Taken straight to contest the early lead with Prince Syntax, reinsman Greg Sugars soon settled The Storm Inside $1.80 favourite) at the head of the field. Able to back off the speed in the second quarter in 31.7s, the son of Rocknroll Hanover opened up in the straight to score a 4.4m win over Our Triple Play, who tested the favourite in the middle stages of the race before wilting slightly in the straight finish second with Redbank Blaze just grabbing third, narrowly in front of Weona Sizzler. The winner rated 1:54.8 in an impressive display. Sugars later paid tribute to Stewart and her training prowess. "This bloke might be inexperienced, he's only had the two starts, but you'd swear he'd done this 100 times before," said Sugars. "And he seems to do it with some petrol left in the tank, which is pretty impressive when you look at the sectionals he is reeling off. "Emma's horses never lack schooling - they are really professional racehorses and I think The Storm Inside showed that here tonight. "I really think he's a young horse going places." The Storm Inside by Michael Court              

The three heats for the Victoria Derby were held tonight at the harness racing meeting at Ballarat and Mark Purdon produced the champion New Zealand three year old Lazarus to throw down the gauntlet to the locals with an outstanding win in quick time in his heat. Heat One Even though he had drawn poorly on the second line for Mark Purdon behind the rank outsider Designer Arden, Lazarus was sent out a $1:30 favourite in the first Victoria Derby heat on the strength of winning ten from twelve in his homeland and nearly $500,000. Allowed to settle four back in the running line by Purdon early, Lazarus looped the field to sit outside the leader Zee Dana and Nathan Jack with just over a lap to go. Purdon never applied any real pressure down the back straight but past the 400 metres he got serious and Lazarus quickly shot to the front on straightening and ran away for a super impressive win with Purdon hardly moving in the bike. Zee Dana stuck on gamely for second in front of Born To Rocknroll who did plenty early and never flinched in holding on for third. Can't Refuse was another to do plenty of work early and hold on for fourth and qualify for the final. The Bettor's Delight colt paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9. Heat Two Heading into the second heat, three horses stood out from the pack on paper and although the three of them had challenging runs in a fast run heat, they still filled the first three placings at the finish. Greg Sugars burned Don't Hold Back off the gate from barrier six to grab an early lead but was immediately challenged by Three Ways and Kate Gath who assumed the lead after 600 metres after a tussle with Don't Hold Back that never got too serious. With a lap to go Brallos Pass and Nathan Jack moved up into the death seat but applied no real pressure until passing the 400 metres mark. Mastering Three Ways on straightening, Brallos Pass looked the winner but Dont Hold Back and Greg Sugars eased out from the trail and flew late for a narrow but impressive victory. Brallos Pass lost no admirers in just going under after sitting parked the last lap while Code Black flew late to grab third from a very game Three Ways late in the piece. The Courage Under Fire colt trained by Mario Attard paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.6, a mile rate of 1:56.7 with closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27.4 which was only .4 of a second slower than Lazarus ran in heat one. Heat Three Again on paper three horses stood out for us on exposed form and they duly ran the trifecta but certainly not in the order that everyone expected. Kingofthestars and Nathan Jack lead with ease from barrier three but the early pace was moderate as several of the poorly drawn horses moved from the back to get handy. The West Australian raider Sprinter was parked for a couple of hundred metres before receiving a trail on the back of the very smart Power Of Red and Amanda Turnbull who took up the death seat. The pace really went on from the half in this heat with Kingofthestars brushing down the back in 27.7 but Power Of Red and Sprinter were still in touch as they turned for home. Just when it looked like Kingofthestars would prevail, Sprinter flew late to grab the favourite for a very smart win. Kingofthestars was slightly disappointing in being beaten after having his own rules in front while Power Of Red stuck on gamely after doing plenty mid race. Iceenothink was a fair way from the first three in fourth which earned him a spot in the Victoria Derby final. The Mach Three gelding trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.2 and 27.5 Sprinters winning time was the same as Lazarus ran in winning heat one. Harnesslink Media

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