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

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

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

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

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

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

On what was a great day for local trotting trainers, Gippsland pacer Mister Wickham won the harness racing Easter Sunday's $30,000 Warragul Downtowner Pacing Bowl Cup. The third of three winners for ace reinsman Greg Sugars, Mister Wickham's very was a popular one enjoyed by the biggest crowd to witness a trots meeting at Warragul for many years. A happy syndicate of owners share in the success of Mister Wickham, trained at Longwarry by Lee Evison, who has tried for many years to win his major hometown race. Only six horses faced the starter after the race morning scratching of leading chance Im Corzin Terror. Well rated by Sugars, Mister Wickham (by Julius Caesar) scored his seventeenth victory from only 38 starts, and has earned connections close to $180,000 in stakes. Sugars also drove Beau Reve to win the opening race of the day, before later winning the other feature race of the afternoon, the $20,000 Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup with Great Things Happen. Amazingly, Sugars has driven four of the last six Warragul Trotters Cup winners. He also trains Great Things Happen, owned in New Zealand, and a winner of eleven races from only 24 starts. Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan had a large number of runners at the Cup day meeting, and enjoyed a fair deal of success, collecting three wins. Scruffy Marshall emulated his older brother Scruffy Major by winning the Warragul Guineas, while Courageous Call and Emiliana also won on the day. Those three horses were driven by Chris Alford, who himself collected a fourth race win with Stone Of Destiny. Rockbank horse Brandons Price won the Trotters Handicap , for trainer Glen Davies and driver Craig Demmler. Patrons enjoyed a variety of activities which complimented the racing action, and fine weather conditions helped draw such a big attendance. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials appear as though they will rewarded with more Sunday race dates in the new financial year, in order to increase awareness of the sport in Gippsland on the back of the success of the Easter Sunday event. Kyle Galley

A 1:56.3 run in last night’s Tabcorp Park Melton VHRSC Sires Classic (Group 3) saw Emain Macha further enhance his race record and give Naracoorte harness racing trainer Greg Scholefield a metro feature trophy. Scholefield has, in recent times, boasted one of the strongest strike rates in the sport and Emain Macha is his stable star, with stake earnings of over $107,000 after last night’s win, which was his 13th at start No.17. Emain Macha initially had a crack for the front but was held out by both polemarker Misterfreeze and Rocknroll Icon from gate two. Reinsman Greg Sugars slotted three-year-old gelding by Safari into third position on the pegs, following Chris Alford on Rocknroll Icon and Emmett Brosnan aboard pacesetter Misterfreeze. Inside the final mile Alford took Rocknroll Icon to the lead and at the 1200m Sugars angled Emain Macha away from the markers. You wanted to be on one or the other. Off the back the final time, Rocknroll Icon tried to pinch the race but Emain Macha always had the leader in his sights. At the home bend – after a 28.4 third split – Emain Macha swept to the front and opened up over the final 100m for a 4.3m win, sprinting home in 28.1secs. Rocknroll Icon finished second and Albarock ran his usual honest race in third. Meanwhile, Andy and Kate Gath finished with a winning treble at Melton, taking out the City of Melton Stampede with Armbro Operative-Clifton Beauty gelding Maximan, the Western Base Vicbred Pace over 1720m with Major In Art-Henin Hardenne five-year-old gelding The Culture, and the Choose Atherstone Pace Final over 2240m with four-year-old Courage Under Fire-Village Glow gelding Firenglow. Maximan added his name to the Stampede honour roll, the annual six-furlong dash at Melton seeing the Gath gelding edge out perennial fast-finisher Tee Cee Bee Macray by a half-head in a time of 1:23.5. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

A champion horse from Victoria’s west swept up the prized Terang Co-Op Pacing Cup with a gutsy run that delighted his proud harness racing connections. Flaming Flutter has gifted plenty of joy to owners Neil Richmond, Margaret Allen and Ron Anderson and they savoured that winning feeling again on Saturday, when their old boy found some of his finer form to beat off a tough field. “It just feels fantastic,” Mr Richmond said. “He’s been a great little horse for us. He’s now a seven-year-old, but I thought he looked really nice in the stall and I thought he’d run a really big race. “When he got caught three-wide I thought, ‘this is going to be tough now’, he just fought on well at the finish. It’s just fantastic.” Driver Greg Sugars showed patience in the run, leading Flaming Flutter forward from the wide draw and advancing three-wide before slotting in on the outside with about 2000m to go, while My Kiwi Mate advanced to the lead. Come the last 150m it was a race in two as Sugars set after Jodi Quinlan, gobbling up My Kiwi Mate’s lead to win by 2m in a 1:56.4 mile rate. “It’s a bit of a home town victory for a few of the connections and to have them here tonight just makes it all extra special,” Sugars said. “He’s just been a fantastic horse for connections and a great earner right throughout his career.” The win has the Bettor's Delight entire zeroing in on $700,000 in career prizemoney and reaffirms his return to form. Long a fighter, Flaming Flutter’s campaign had stuttered a little when he returned mid last year and a tilt at the 2016 Perth Inter Dominion didn’t reach the same heights of his previous dual placings. He stayed over in Perth and was soon back in the winners’ circle before returning to Bannockburn trainer Geoff Webster. “His trip across to Western Australia has probably done him the world of good,” Sugars said. “He is a stallion and being in the one place for a long time, sometimes they need a bit of a wakeup call and a bit of a change up and I think the couple of runs he spent in Perth with Ross Oliveiri really did the trick. “He had him firing really well there towards the end of his Western Australia campaign and sent him back to Geoffrey in fantastic order. “It’s a big pat on the back for the job he’s done as well as Geoffrey and everyone out at Bannockburn. They do a wonderful job.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Auckland Reactor is on the board as a sire after Gotta React took the honors in the two year old race at the Kilmore harness racing meeting last night. Showing plenty of determination and heart, Gotta React made up late ground in the home straight and won by a half head with the plugs still in. Trained by Leigh Miles for South Australian trainer Scott Ewen and breeder Charles Okmasich and driven by Greg Sugars, Gotta React is the first foal of the Live Or Die mare Gotcha who is out of the Vance Hanover mare Harp. Charles Okmasich and his family made the long trip over from South Australia to watch Gotta React win at his first start.  Gotta React is now on his way back to race in South Australia and to be trained by Scott Ewen and will possibly be a starter in the Kindergarten series at Globe Derby Park. On the other side of the Tasman,‚Äč Auckland Reactor was represented by a very impressive qualifier last week at Addington. Miss Ethel Sunshine defeated some nice two-year-olds in exciting fashion. The progressive daughter of Auckland Reactor made a midrace move to take the lead and then proceeded to sprint home in 57.9 and win easily. She will now head towards the New Zealand Sires Stakes. With plenty of qualifiers already, the winners will continue to flow for Auckland Reactor in the months to come.

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

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