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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

“You’d struggle to get a faster harness racing track than Hamilton in the country at the moment,” said Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup winning reinsman Greg Sugars today. After Im Corzin Terror rated 1:57.7 (29.9, 29.7, 27.8 and 27.5 splits) Sugars said the times “were a credit to the track staff”. “The track is first class – they’ve done a great job,” he said. Mick Turner oversees the Hamilton track and is both passionate and highly regarded by his peers in the sport. Club president Paul Lewis paid homage to Turner and his helpers and said it was “great to see the quality of the horses” in the Hamilton Cup today, with the field getting stronger every year. Meanwhile, Lewis also paid tribute to Peter Hyde, a long-time supporter of the trots in Hamilton. Hyde has missed only one AGM in almost 50 years and is a regular on cup day, having donated a watch to the winning driver of the cup for many years. Sugars picked up his second watch from Hyde today – he also won the Hamilton Cup in 2013 aboard Our Arlington. “It’s a real honour to receive this from Peter. He’s been a great supporter of the club for a long time. It is amazing longevity and people like Peter are really important to the industry," Sugars said. Hyde was presented with a plaque in recognition of his services at the club president’s luncheon. “This was a really great genuine surprise,” he remarked. “I’ve been here a long time. The club’s had its ups and downs but it’s really on the up right now.” Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Im Corzin Terror added a sixth Victorian country cup to his harness racing resume on Sunday at Hamilton in Victoria’s south-west. In front of a bumper crowd the eight-year-old Dean Braun-trained pacer overcame a 20-metre handicap to win the Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup over 2660m in fast time. Im Corzin Terror’s mile rate of 1:57.7 was just 0.3secs outside Restrepo’s track record mark set last year. Driven by Greg Sugars, Im Corzin Terror made his move with over a lap to go, moving to the breeze outside leader Keayang Cullen – the favourites 1-2 at the bell. When Sugars pushed the button Im Corzin Terror put Keayang Cullen to the sword and no other challengers emerged thereafter, Im Corzin Terror cruising to the line to score a 7.5m win over Tasmanian longshot The Majority, who benefited from a ripper Mark Yole drive, with Charlie Machsheen a bold third for Craig Demmler. “He felt like a winner a long, long way out,” Sugars said. “He was the best performed horse in the race today and over the trip. I was always pretty confident.” Im Corzin Terror will head towards the A.G. Hunter Cup but could still line up in next weekend’s Ballarat Cup. He’s the reigning cup champion at Bray Raceway. He has won cups at Hamilton, Ballarat, Terang, Bendigo, and twice at Maryborough. The Majority ran a mighty race at big odds in second place, trailing the leader Keayang Cullen before jumping on to the back of Im Corzin Terror at the home corner. Charlie Machsheen loomed large at the top of the straight and ended up third, 8.8m behind the winner, while Macho Comacho – a stablemate of the winner – ran fourth and the well-backed Jadahson was sixth. Keayang Cullen finished last with punters keeping an eye on the veterinarian’s report to see if that brings an explanation. Earlier on the card Emma Stewart-trained Kingofthestars (Sportswriter/Kirrilee Joy) took out the Western District Employment Agency 3YO Pace with Nathan Jack in the sulky. The colt rated 1:56.5 and won by 8.1m over Soho Madeleine. Kingofthestars will head towards the Victoria Derby. >> Video – relive Im Corzin Terror’s ultra-impressive Hamilton Pacing Cup win WINNERS’ BREEDING/OWNERSHIP Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup IM CORZIN TERROR (By Western Terror out of Corzanello) Owner: Pauline McColgan Breeders: C. McGowan, J L Smolenski, D J Smolenski. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Leading harness racing driver Greg Sugars gave a masterclass drive last night in the $100,000 South Australian Cup, controlling the race from start to finish from the death seat in a manner of a driver at the top of his game. Star Chamber and Nathan Ford made a flyer from barrier one to lead early while Greg Sugars worked Inter-Dominion Final place getter Flaming Flutter across to the death seat from barrier four and immediately applied no pressure to the leader so the tempo in the early stages was moderate to say the least. Some Kinda Tactics had a look early for the death seat but Sugars was having none of it and held his position with Flaming Flutter. Next to make a bid was Barimah and Damien Wilson but Greg Sugars gave him the same answer he had given Some Kinda Tactics which resulted in Barimah having to be restrained all the way back to last to get in to the running line. With a lap to go Major Crocker and Nathan Ford slid up three wide outside Flaming Flutter but that was as close as he got as well as Sugars dominated the Cup tempo. When Greg said go off the final top bend, Flaming Flutter quickly stole a break on the field and although run at late by Hotasel and John Justice, had enough in reserve for a deserved victory while Crusader Acey and Anthony Butt got home good along the inner for third at big odds. It was a masterful display by Greg Sugars in that he did enough to keep the attackers at bay while still having enough in reserve to go on and win the race. Harnesslink Media

The Inter Dominion Grand Final in Perth this Sunday features three Victorians with the less favoured of the harness racing trio being the Geoff Webster-trained Flaming Flutter. Runner-up in the Inter Dominion of earlier this year behind Beautide, Flaming Flutter is currently rated a $21 chance with TAB.com.au fixed odds as he aims to go one better. Driver Greg Sugars says of Flaming Flutter, “He is going every bit as good but not going any better.” “When he started off his prep I thought he was going to be better this year than last year but the last month or so he has just been slightly below his very best,” he added. “We might be at the absolute peak of our powers but we aren’t far from it.” His series so far has been a little up and down and Sugars said that his run at Bunbury was clearly the pick of his heat efforts. “I was very happy with his second heat at Bunbury; he really felt sharp and was just about back to his best.” His two runs at Gloucester Park, Sugars admitted, have been “a shade disappointing but he may have had excuses for both runs”. “He had every chance to at least run second to Lennytheshark in the first round but he may have been a bit underdone there from the trip over and change of environment,” he said. “His last heat he just didn’t hit the line quite as well as what we thought he should have and he was probably a length of his best.” Asked how he had coped with the three runs in the week, Sugars said Flaming Flutter may have been a little flat in his last heat. “He seems well in himself and seems bright, he took no ill effects from the first run to the second but I think he was a little below himself from the second to the third round,” he said. “Having a few extra days off now he should be able to recover well and if he has no hiccups this week then Geoff will have him right on Sunday.” Drawn inside the back row and with the polemarker Lovers Delight’s connections indicating they will try and lead at all costs, Flaming Flutter will play the stalking role on the pegs. “We had to find the fence I think to have any realistic chance so to come up with that draw behind a horse who is going to try and lead throughout I couldn’t be happier,” Sugars said. “The draw is perfect for us, it will all depend on how the race unfolds and how much work the other main dangers do but from our point of view I couldn’t be happier with draw.” by Matt Jackson

French import Used To Me made his long awaited Australian debut in the Ted Manton Memorial Trotters Handicap at Bendigo last night, and it was a winning start. Trained by Anton Golino and driven by Greg Sugars, Used To Me stepped cleanly from his 20-metre handicap in the 2150-metre race before making a three-deep move from four-back the running at the bell. Class prevailed at the finish with Used To Me cruising past the early pacesetters and recording a 4.3-metre win, Sugars allowing him to coast to the line virtually untouched. “He did what he had to do,” Sugars said. “It was his first time at the stand conditions and he handled that well.” Used To Me was granted an international invitation to contest the 2015 Great Southern Star before injury scuppered his preparation. Whether or not the now eight-year-old would be up to that level after recovering from injury remains to be seen and Sugars said the team was “taking it one race at a time, at this stage”. “I’m sure they’ll be hopeful of getting more wins and competing in better races than last night, but the important thing at this stage is he’s back on track.” Given Used To Me’s journey back to the racetrack Sugars admitted to feeling some relief after last night’s win. The stallion’s winning mile rate was 2:01.2 with the last half-mile completed in 59.7secs.  Cody Winnell  

The 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit harness racing season is officially underway. And it’s started with a bang. The Gr.1 $200,000 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship staged at Albion Park in Brisbane was taken out by New Zealand bred gelding Our Hi Jinx ($9.50) who defeated Caesars Folly ($51.10) and Avonnova ($13.90) in the sunshine state’s biggest event. Prepared locally by Ian Gurney, Our Hi Jinx was handled by Victorian reinsman Greg Sugars who replaced the suspended Adam Sanderson and drove a brilliant tactical race to claim the 2680 feature in track record time of 1;55.0 – eclipsing the previous mark of 1;55.9 held by Mr Feelgood from 2010. Race favourite Philadelphia Man ($1.40) finished 9th after being forced to work hard from his wide draw. Driven aggressively off the gate from the start, Sugars controlled the early going with Our Hi Jinx with Caesars Folly in the trail while Alleluia and Monifieth jostled early for handy positions. As the field worked past the mile marker, Our Hi Jinx took cover behind his stablemate Avonnova while Bling It On and Shannonsablast also made forward moves. The lead time was posted in 77.5 seconds. With Avonnova leading the way, Philadelphia Man made his move but was forced to cover plenty of extra ground in very quick sectionals. The first half of the final mile was covered in 28.9 and 28 seconds. Heading down the back straight on the final occasion, Avonnova maintained a solid tempo with Philadelphia Man working on his outside while Our Hi Jinx sat directly behind them. The third quarter was posted in 28.6 seconds. In the straight, Avonnova kicked clear from Philadelphia Man while Our Hi Jinx and Caesars Folly darted back to the sprintlane. Our Hi Jinx lasted by a half neck margin from Caesars Folly with a further 5 metres back to Avonnova in third. The final quarter was timed in 28.6 seconds. “We couldn’t have wished for a better trip and he travelled comfortably throughout, the solid speed suited him and he zipped quickly once we got the run via the inside. Ian (Gurney) was really happy with him going into the event and that gave me good confidence, he’s a neat little horse with really good speed.” Winning driver Greg Sugars said. The 2015 Queensland spring carnival has proven to be quite the windfall for Our Hi Jinx with victories in the Be Good Johnny Sprint and now the QPC. The Christian Cullen – Treasured Possession gelding was also placed in the Gold Coast Cup last week. Our Hi Jinx is raced by Gurney, Paul Montgomery and the Fleur De Lil Trust. The next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit is the $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 10. by Chris Barsby

The Feature race on a big night of trots at Melton on Saturday is the Group 2 City of Melton Plate and harness racing trainer Vince Vallelonga is hopeful his star pacer Major Crocker can use it as a stepping stone to gaining a start in this year’s Inter Dominion in Perth. “We paid the first payment the other day so we will go there if we can. I’m hopeful we can win Saturday Night to sneak up the rankings a bit,” he said. Vallelonga hasn’t ruled out a trip to Queensland if needed to help him gain a start but would prefer to qualify in his home state. “If he doesn’t win Saturday Night we will look at other options like the QPC next week.  Ideally I don’t want to travel that far then have to come back and then go to Perth.” A terrific run last week finishing off well in a blistering last half behind Philadelphia Man Vallelonga is extremely happy with how the horse pulled up from that run. “He is going good, he came through it really well and I am pretty happy with him.” He is the only horse drawn the second line on Saturday night so driver Greg Sugars will have options early and Vallelonga will leave it all up to him. “Once they’re out there things can change so I’ll just leave it up to Greg, he has driven enough races to know what to do and he knows the horse inside out.” Vallelonga has two other runners engaged on the program including the luckless Stunning Grin in the first, who is racing very consistently and would thoroughly deserve his M0 win, and also Manuka Man in Race 6, who has been freshened after having issues with his feet but has drawn well for the claim of Jason Lee. by Matt Jackson Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015

Congratulations to all the winners of premierships for season 2014/15, including:   Greg Sugars (State Driver)   Emma Stewart (State Trainer).   Chris Alford and Gavin Lang fought out an enthralling tie for Metropolitan Driver honours.   Consultation Forums Tonight at Bendigo marks the first of three public Consultation Forums at which HRV will present a summary of the Consultation Paper, which will eventually lead to the 2020 Strategic Plan. The Consultation Paper is currently on the website at www.hrv.org.au/general/consultation. There is also a feedback form which can be submitted direct to HRV. HRV commenced the consultation process by presenting to representatives of the following bodies on 2 September: Association of Victorian Harness Racing Country Clubs Harness Breeders Victoria Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club (representing owners) Victorian Harness Racing Trainers & Drivers Association, and Victorian Square Trotters Association We are hoping for large attendances at the forums in order to receive constructive feedback on the Paper. The remaining two public forums (commencing at 7pm) are to be held at: Shepparton Harness Racing Club - Tuesday 22 September Tabcorp Park Melton - Wednesday 23 September Breeders Crown HRV has conducted a full review of the 2015 Breeders Crown. Once again the event was a highlight on the Victorian calendar, however we have taken on board feedback from the industry following the event. There will be changes for 2016, which are currently being discussed. I am certain the heats/repechage system will be overhauled for example. The location of heats is also under review. The time of year that the Crown is held is also a topic for discussion. HRV surveyed 20 of the top trainers and drivers and not surprisingly the result was evenly divided on whether there should be a change of date. Clearly the placement of Derby's, APG, Vicbred and Breeders Crown is difficult to co-ordinate, as well as other factors such as the NZ Jewels. From a wagering perspective, across the semi-final night and finals Sunday, total turnover was $7.80m slightly down on last year's comparative $7.85m. Vicbred Since the last newsletter, we have received the full wagering details for the Vicbred Finals weekend. The breakdown is below. Pleasingly a 15% growth over the two nights, including a very strong result for the trotters on the Friday night. 2015 2014 Variance Friday night $3,451,000 $2,760,000 up 25% Saturday night $3,844,000 $3,558,000 up 8% Total Both Nights $7,295,000 $6,318,000 up 15% The numbers show that Vicbred and Breeders Crown are two very important brands for the Victorian industry. Driver Testing The HRV Integrity Department has collected a number of swab samples from competing drivers/trainers over the last week in order to maintain the safety and integrity of the sport and to ensure drivers are not affected by any illicit substances. The testing of participants ensures less risk to the safety of all competing drivers and horses. The Integrity Department has taken random samples of drivers/trainers engaged at Bendigo and Kilmore over the last week and will continue to take samples on an on-going basis. The other significant benefit in taking samples from drivers/trainers is the early detection of any issues, so that anyone detected with banned substances in their system can also be referred to welfare and support agencies in order to receive appropriate treatment to deal with their issue or illness. While on the subject of integrity, HRV has been performing increased stable inspections and swabbing at trials. Click here for article. November Trial - Preferential Barrier Draws HRV recently announced that for a trial period of one month (November), all races (other than five feature races) will have a preferential barrier draw condition placed on them. The trial is designed to encourage more competitive racing, reduce long odds on favourites, which we hope will have a positive impact on the perception of our sport and create a more attractive wagering product. HRV appreciates each Club's support of the trial. The success of the trial will be assessed and we will gladly share the result of the trial with the industry. Vale Nell Quinlan Nell, or Nan as she was affectionately known, sadly passed away at Tabcorp Park on 24 August. Nell was a great supporter of the industry and her interest flowed on to the next generations of family members. Our condolences go to Nell's children Gary, Lee and Cheryl as well as the extended Quinlan/Walker families. Pat Brooks Also sad to hear of the passing of Pat Brooks, who would have been well known to many in the Murray River region. Pat received a Distinguished Service Medal, in recognition of his efforts for the Cobram Club. Pat joined the Cobram Committee in 1963 and served as President from 1971 to 1994. He became a Life Member in 1991. First Win Congratulations to Lisa Bartley on her first win as a driver at Shepparton on 2 September behind Als Courage, beating her two sisters Rebecca and Ellen who also drove in the race. Did You Know? Hard to believe that Ellas Puppeteer won a C0 at Charlton on 14 September in a mile rate of 1.52.8, breaking the track record by over two seconds.                                                                                                         John Anderson       Harness Racing Victoria

Warragul's final race meeting of the 2014/2015 Victorian harness racing season this Monday afternoon will be an intriguing one.   The Warragul Harness Racing Club annual premiership awards, presented to the leading trainer, senior and junior driver and most consistent horse, will be decided at Monday's meeting.   Some of the awards could go down to the wire with current results the closest they have been heading into the last raceday of the season for some years. Greg Sugars is engaged in an interesting battle with fellow top reinsman Chris Alford in the Driver of the Year Award. Greg leads the award, having driven three winners at last month's race meeting, however Chris is closing, and has been one of the most successful drivers in history at Warragul. Locally owned and trained trotter Stoned Again holds a one point lead in the Horse of the Year Award. With two wins and a second from three starts on the track, and a record winning time at the recent race meeting, Pearcedale's Walker family are looking for their first win in this award with their trotter. Top junior reinsman Josh Duggan holds a one point lead in the Concession Driver of the Year Award, with Zac Phillips and Vin Langdon both chances of claiming the win in this award if results fall their way on Monday. Cranbourne trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander have dominated the Trainer of the Year award since its inception in 1981 - and they go into Monday's meeting with a lead that should be big enough to claim the award again. Under the points scale, race winners receive four points, with two points for a second placing and one point awarded for a third place finish. First of eight races on Monday runs at 12:36pm with free entry for patrons.   Harness Racing Victoria  

The nation’s leading reinsman Greg Sugars and Shepparton harness racing trainer Amanda Turnbull both had winning doubles at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Turnbull produced the first two winners on the program, Copper Coast (Modern Art/Katasopos) and Oh Jonny Be Good (Mach Three/Maikona), while Sugars combined with trainer Geoff Webster to win aboard Flaming Flutter (Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot) and was victorious behind Emma Stewart-trained Goodtime Mike (Browning Blue Chip/Golden Face). Copper Coast’s win in the 2240m DNR Logistics Pace (M0) kicked off the nine-race card, driver Nathan Jack – partner of Turnbull – expertly steering the four-year-old gelding home by a whisker over Fernco Bobby G (Glenn Douglas). The winner’s stablemate Big Spook (Turnbull) ran third, the mile rate 1:57.5. Jack took Copper Coast back early from barrier three before timing his run to perfection on the last lap, diving into the one-one around the final bend before stoking up strongest in the lane (29.1secs fourth quarter after a 28.1secs run down the back, 57.2secs last half). Copper Coast is a former Queenslander who won the 2013 Paleface Adios Classic at Albion Park at two. The wraps on three-year-old stablemate Oh Jonny B Good got bigger after the colt sat three-wide with no cover (final 800m 57.3secs) and outclassed his opponents in the Decron Pace Final (C2-C3). From an inside back row draw Turnbull took the ex-Kiwi back to the rear early before improving through the last lap. Oh Jonny B Good stretched out best late to win in a rate of 1:59.5 for the 2240m journey and you get the feeling there’s plenty more improvement to come next prep. Illawong Lively (Scott Rains) from the pole ran second and Admiral Joy (Sugars) rocketed home for third. Seven-year-old Bettors Delight/Star Chaser gelding Astronaut won the Tye’s Clubbing USA Claiming Pace to give trainer/driver Jodi Quinlan a Maryborough/Melton double for the day (she scored a dashing win on Friday afternoon aboard Illawong Moonshine). Astronaut came with a sweeping sprint down the outside of the track to beat heavily backed favourite Livin It Lovin It (Rodney Petroff) by 2.2m in a rate of 1:59.4 over the 2240m. Inky Cullen (Alex Ashwood) was third. Burrumbeet trainer/driver Michael Stanley took out the SEW-Eurodrive Pace Final over 2240m (C1) with his three-year-old Somebeachsomewhere / Giveusachance filly Soho Berlin. Stanley improved from a midfield position aboard the in-form filly (who has won three of her last four starts) at the mile. She covered plenty of territory from that point to the 1200m pole when she eventually ran to the lead. From there she paced her final three quarters in 30.1secs, 30.2secs and 29.9secs after an opening stanza of 29.7secs to rate 1:58.3, beating Sir Briggen (Mark Buckingham) by 5.5m while Olivia Rockstar (Trevor Hilson) was third. The Conect Blacks A Fake Free-for-All saw impressive five-year-old Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot entire Flaming Flutter continue his rise to stardom. This season’s Inter Dominion runner-up made it two straight fast class wins by holding Keayang Starzzz (Glen Craven) out at the end of the 1720m trip by a half-neck in 1:57.1. Sugars restrained early on Flaming Flutter as the leaders sprinted through a quick lead time before easing three-wide at the bell and whipping up to the breeze through the 32secs second quarter. Keayang Starzzz still appeared to be travelling at the home bend but Flaming Flutter simply outclassed the runner-up in the straight, dashing home in a 27.2secs final quarter after a 28.7secs third split. Consistent Exciteusinthecity ran third for Tim McLean. Brent Lilley had a double at Maryborough on Friday afternoon and backed it up with a third victory at Melton in the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup with Crusader Acey. At big odds, Anthony Butt took the Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding straight to the front early from barrier five before handing up to Best Deal Yet. This left Young Modern (Michael Stanley) parked; the heat winners 1-2 in the run. Once in front Best Deal Yet carved out some quick sectionals after a slick lead time (43.6secs), the opening splits 29.4secs and 29.5secs. Young Modern put paid to the leader at the 400m but Lierre Noir, Major Crocker and Crusader Acey were all starting to loom off softer runs. Crusader Acey finished strongest to score (third and fourth splits 28.8secs and 29.4secs) in a mile rate of 1:55.4, Young Modern battling on gamely for second to be beaten only a neck while Lierre Noir (Glen Craven) was close-up in third. Goodtime Mike gave Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart a victory for the night in the Eynesbury Golf Club Pace (M1) over 1720m from barrier five for in-form Sugars. Goodtime Mike did plenty of work in the run but still found the line best to defeat Artoc (Chris Alford) in second by a head, with Highview Conall third in 1:57.2. David Aiken trained and driven Earth Angel swept to victory in the Renown Silverware Pace over 1720m (M0). The Mach Three/Arty Alice five-year-old tracked the favourite Miley Rose into the lane before peeling off her back and out-sprinting her for a 3.2m success. Miley Rose was second for Gavin Lang, South Australian visitor Our Mischievious Miss holding third for Wayne Hill after giving a bold sight out in front. Earth Angel’s rate was 1:55.7. San Carlo wound up the night on a sensational note, the Mach Three/Bridge Player gelding far too good for his rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series A Final for reinswoman Rebecca Bartley. by Cody Winnell  

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