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Melton trainer Ross Sugars' run of form continued on Sunday at the famous Redwood Carnival meeting at Maryborough. Sugars trained the winner of the 2690-metre Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby, Illawong Helios, which overpowered hot favourites Claudys Princess and Our Twentyten in the last 200m. Ross said driver – and his son – Greg Sugars delivered a “10 out of 10” drive aboard Illawong Helios, finding the back of Claudys Princess early before tracking Our Twentyten off the back and peeling three-wide into the lane the final time. “They were all running on empty in the straight,” Ross Sugars said. “It was a very slow last quarter (32 seconds). It was the first go for all of them at that kind of distance and it was just a case of those at the front having done more work, which allowed us to be that little bit stronger in the straight. “Our filly keeps on trying and she just found the line a bit better because of the way the race was run. That was the difference.” Sugars said heading down the back the last time he started thinking his filly was capable of at least running a place. “I even thought ‘don’t tell me she’s going to win’,” he said. Sugars said Claudys Princess, which finished runner-up in the Derby 1.7m behind Illawong Helios, was still the best three-year-old filly in the business and said her run on Sunday was enormous. But it was Illawong Helios’s day, the daughter of Majestic Son breaking a run of three consecutive second-place finishes in the Oaks and two Vicbred Super Series races. Illawong Helios set a new race record with his winning mile rate of 2:01.6 eclipsing the mark set by Blitzthemcalder last year by 0.3secs. She will now head to the Breeders Crown. Illawong Helios paid $23 on the tote. Sugars, who said he was not a betting man, admitted if he was an odds watcher he'd have moved at that price. "She was an 8-1 to 10-1 chance, I thought. Those odds were enormous," he said. Another trotter from the Sugars stable, four-year-old mare Quite A Moment, also won on Redwood day, taking out the John Slack Memorial Trotters Handicap over 2190m. Quite A Moment recorded a 58-second last half to score by 1.9m over Lord Liam, last year’s three-year-old trotters’ Breeders Crown champion hitting her straps ahead of this year’s series. “She’s done a really good job in the last 12 months. She’ll have a run or two and then she’ll be back in the Breeders Crown for the four-year-olds’ race.” On Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton Sugars-trained Bettor Rock On made it five starts Down Under for five wins. The former New Zealander sat parked in the Yeomans Slate and Stone Winter Championship Final before sprinting up down the back in 27.8secs and skipping clear of early leader Essbee Doubleyou in a 28.4-second last quarter to win in a rate of 1:54.4. “He’s done the job and won five in a row,” Sugars said. “We’ll give him a break now and then prepare him for the new season and target some country cups. The Kilmore Cup (October 26) would be an aim. He’s a very good stand-start horse.” Sugars said the brilliant Youranut (Vicbred Super Series 4YO Final winner last year) was back in work and would resume racing in the next month or so. By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Filly Illawong Helios upstaged the two punters’ favourites Claudys Princess and Our Twentyten to take out the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough on Sunday. In front of a big crowd, Greg Sugars gave Illawong Helios, who is trained by Greg's father Ross Sugars, the perfect run in transit in the Group 1 race before overpowering star filly Claudys Princess and colt Our Twentyten in the home straight. It was a Derby for the ages, with pressure up front right from the start of the 2690m event. Claudys Princess (Gavin Lang) dashed to the lead at the bell before Chris Alford attacked aboard Our Twentyten down the back straight. All the while Sugars was biding his time with Illawong Helios and when they swung into the straight he popped out three-wide to stake his claim. The trio battled it out up the lane with Illawong Helios eventually prevailing victorious, the daughter of Majestic Son scoring by 1.7m over Claudys Princess, with Our Twentyten third another metre away. Asdenro’s run was valiant, the early leader battling on well despite the strong tempo throughout to finish fourth. One Over Da Moon over-raced early and weakened out to finish well back, while Imamenace had no luck whatsoever early and finished second-last. The mile rate for the Derby was 2:01.6. Illawong Helios By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racing owner Kevin Riseley confirmed last week that Lennytheshark is out of Breeders Crown contention this year, owners preferring to give the classy four-year-old a spell before chasing summer riches. But Riseley and fellow connections of two-year-old Bettors Delight colt Kept Under Wraps have a serious live Crown chance after the Brent Lilley-trained youngster upstaged boom Sydneysider Birdy Mach in the $50,505 Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes for colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Kept Under Wraps, driven by Greg Sugars, raced one-out, one-back for the bulk of the journey while Birdy Mach ran along in front for Todd McCarthy in the 2240m race. The Sydney colt, which started $1.60 favourite after two blistering wins to start its career at Menangle, found the lead easily early with no one willing to challenge. This allowed last-start Vicbred Super Series winner Feeling Arty to dash to the death chair for Cameron Maggs, which gave the eventual winner cover in the running line. When Birdy Mach pinched a 10m lead coming off the back straight Sugars sent Kept Under Wraps out after him, while Iceobar, from the Brent Lilley yard with Mark Purdon in the spider, followed into the race stylishly. In the straight Birdy Mach led, Iceobar used the sprint lane and Kept Under Wraps came down the outside. Birdy Mach kept on kicking but Kept Under Wraps had more in the tank and nailed the early leader on the line to win by 1.1m, while Iceobar was a further 3.5m away in third place. The winning mile rate was 1:57.1 with a fourth quarter of 29.3secs and a last half of 58.3. Kept Under Wraps now boasts four wins from six starts. Kept Under Wraps The $50,505 Group 2 fillies’ Tatlow Stakes went to New Zealand star Katy Perry, who scored by 2.5m over Michael Stanley-trained Soho Tokyo, while Read About Lexy was third for Bernie Hewitt. Katy Perry, who started from the back row, whipped around the field early for reinsman Dexter Dunn before taking the lead and holding off all comers late. Katy Perry clocked a winning mile rate of 1:59.4 with a last half of 57.2. Katy Perry Earlier on the program Messini continued his dominance of the Victorian three-year-old ranks with a 5.5m win over Epaulette in the A Rocknroll Dance The Graduate. Despite starting from gate 13, Chris Alford guided the Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major home in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Bettor Rock On remained unbeaten in five Australian runs with victory in Race 8, the Yeomans Slate and Stone Winter Championship Final for in-form father-son combo Ross and Greg Sugars. Bettor Rock On scored by 3.5m over the 1720m trip in a rate of 1:54.4 (last half 56.2) to defeat Essbee Doubleyou in second and Tandias Bromac in third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Imamenace earned a reputation as a giant-killer and a giant when he won the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ trotting final recently at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Peter Cormican-trained gelding, which stands over 17 hands high, started cricket-score odds before upstaging Spidergrace and Asdenro over 2240m. It was an amazing feat to win a Group 1 that night, as that run was only Imamenace’s second visit to the racetrack. On Sunday he will contest the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby over 2690m at Maryborough, hoping to pull off another upset at start number three. Grant Campbell replaces Imamenace’s usual driver, Greg Sugars, who has elected to drive his father’s trotter Illawong Helios. Cormican, who trains out of Arcadia, was visibly shocked and thrilled after his gelding’s last-start success. “This is the first time I’ve won a Group 1 and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said moments after the win. Speaking on Thursday, Cormican said he was sure Imamenace would not disappoint on Sunday. “We’re going to be the fourth, fifth or sixth horse picked again but we’re just happy to be in the race,” he said. “He did a super job to win that last race but geez, it’s a big ask to win this at his third start.” Asked to compare Imamenace’s trackwork this time compared to before his last-start success, Cormican said it was “on a par”. “He had a good hit-out this morning. He’ll have a bit of a break after this race because he’s not entered in the Breeders Crown. “We’re not going to rush him.” Despite the wide draw (gate seven) on Sunday, Cormican said the horse was likely to push forward early. “We’ll probably come out and have a bit of a look,” he said. “We just don’t want him on the fence.” Our Twentyten opened favourite for the Derby, which is scheduled to run at 3.18pm, with filly Claudys Princess tightening in from $3.60 into $3 early with fixed-odds betting. Imamenace eased from $12 to $15 overnight on Wednesday. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Congratulations to the father/son combination of Ross and Greg Sugars who trained and drove the first 3 winners at Tabcorp Park last Friday night (July 11). I wonder when was the last time that happened at a metro meeting? And Lance Justice has announced that Smoken Up will travel to Sydney for the last time this Saturday night (July 19). We look forward to celebrating his career in Melbourne soon. Follow HRV on Twitter @HRVnews   Additional $1.7m in Stakes in 2014/15 The HRV 2013/14 financial year was completed on June 30 2014. The financial results are not yet formally audited, however the Board is anticipating announcing a profit for the 2013/14 year in excess of $1m.   The $1m result follows a $2m profit the previous year, on the back of which HRV then announced stakes increases of $2.5m for the 2013/14 year. Stakes of $36m were paid out for the year, up from $33.5m the previous year. The profit result in 2013/14 was assisted by wagering revenue growth of $2m, largely due to HRV's increased race field fees from corporate bookmakers and interstate TAB's. Revenue from our Joint Venture partner Tabcorp declined by $1m as we see the continued shift from the more lucrative parimutuel betting to the increasingly popular, but lower margin, fixed odds. Of the total betting through Tabcorp, fixed odds now comprise nearly 25%, compared to 14% for the previous year. The HRV Board has also approved the budget for the 2014/15 year. The budget takes into account another tough year for Tabcorp wagering turnover which is again predicted to decline. However HRV has structured the business such that it is forecasting another profit of $1m. That profit will come after providing for an increase in stakes of $1.7m, up from $36m to $37.7m. The main features of the stakes rises are: An increase in the Vicbred 1st win bonus from $5,000 to $7,000 for 3yo's in the new season (continues to apply for the 2yo's); $300,000 additional stakes for the Vicbred Platinum program; Full year impact of the staged increases through the previous year. Stakes will then have risen by $4.2m (12.5%) in the past two financial years.   Wagering Data Wagering revenue remains HRV's single most important source of income ($57m in 2013/14) and we are now receiving much more detailed information from wagering service providers, such as the Victorian TAB, Interstate TAB's and corporate bookmakers. Inclusive of all wagering operators, the year's highest wagering turnover races were: Victoria Cup - $923,000; Hunter Cup - $875,000; Inter Dominion Heat - $735,000; Victoria Derby - $601,000. In regional Victoria the highest ranked races by turnover were: Cranbourne Cup - $612,000; Ballarat Cup - $559,000; Kilmore Cup - $470,000. Apart from Melton, the track with the highest average turnover was Swan Hill ($194,000) per race, followed by Bendigo ($185,000) and Ballarat ($184,000). There is very little difference in punter preference between pacers and trotters. For the year the average turnover per race was: Pacers - $186,000; Trotters - $174,000.   Vicbred Trotters Exported A hugely successful weekend of Vicbred Finals was conducted on July 4 and 5. I would like to sincerely thank Empire Stallions, and in particular Donna Egan, David James and Les Joslin, for their support of the Series. It was very gratifying for them to see their stallions Modern Art (twice) and Four Starzz Shark represented in the Group 1 winners stall. Congratulations go to the connections of all horses involved in the two nights' Finals. The racing was exceptional and was an excellent promotion of our sport nationally and internationally. The six Group 1 Trotters Finals were telecast into France by Sky Racing (Friday morning French time) with wagering conducted by the French Tote (PMU). It is anticipated that the wagering turnover in France will be well in excess of $1m, given that the previous 12 races beamed into France averaged turnover of $155,000 per race.   Gordon Rothacker Medal (Industry Awards Night) For the first time, HRV will this year celebrate the 2013/14 season with one gala evening on Wednesday October 8. The Industry Awards Night will celebrate season premiership winners, Horse of the Year and Country Club awards, with the pinnacle of the evening being the Gordon Rothacker Medal.   Vale Over the past month HRV mourned the loss of several participants:   Bill Hanson A large crowd gathered at Kyneton for the funeral of Bill Hanson. Bill passed away on July 4. It was a fitting tribute to Bill that so many industry people were in attendance to hear of Bill's love for breeding trotters. On the Chapel wall hanging proudly was a picture of the great Maori's Idol, which was acknowledged by Father Brain Glasheen before his tribute to Bill. Bill had purchased Maori's Idol in 1990 for stud duties at his Homevale Stud in Fern Hill, where he stayed until his death in 2006. Bill was a life member of Harness Breeders (Vic), the VHRSC and the Bendigo club. He was an inaugural inductee into the VHRMA Hall of Fame in 2009. Our condolences go out to Margaret and the family.   Mick Lacey Mick trained and drove many horses in Victoria before moving to Queensland over a decade ago. Several staff at HRV who remember Mick commented to me that he was always a gentleman, who never had a bad word to say or did anything wrong by anyone. Some may remember Mick's good horse, Duke Of Broadway.   Judith Astbury Judith passed away in late June. She will be remembered for her work in the Hamilton Secretary's office for many many years. From what I am told she would go out of her way to help anyone in the industry and certainly the stewards would always look forward to a freshly baked cake by Judith when they arrived at Hamilton. I am also reminded that Judith's husband Rex was very proud of a horse he raced named Mockingtheclassics.   Did You Know? Former trainer Alan McLean celebrated his 100th birthday with his family at Tabcorp Park on Vicbred Finals weekend. On July 4, Alan presented the trophy to connections of One Over Da Moon for winning the "Alan McLean 100th Birthday" Trot. Copyright © 2014 Harness Racing Victoria, All rights reserved.   Harness Racing Victoria  

Champion New South Wales mare Frith added the Harness Breeders (Vic) Jane Ellen to her list of feature race wins at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The six-time Group 1 winner found the lead comfortably from the 2240m start before controlling the race to score by 2.6m over runner-up The Good Times, with Broadways Best rocketing home for third. Frith, a Bruce Harpley-trained daughter of Four Starzzz Shark, has now won 26 from 35 race starts. Frith’s winning mile rate was 1:56.7. She finished with a last half-mile of 55.7 after splits of 29.8, 30.2, 27.6 and 28.1. Emma Stewart’s The Good Times was given a cushy run by Gavin Lang on the back of the favourite before using the sprint lane to run second. Chris Alford steered in-form Broadways Best into third, powering down the outside late to edge out Beauty Secret, which ran fourth, while Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling wound up fifth. Frith already boasts Group 1 victories in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. She will be looking to add a second Breeders Crown success to her resume next month after taking out the three-year-old fillies’ title last year. Frith Father-son combination Ross and Greg Sugars won the first three races on Friday night’s program. Illawong Magic kicked off proceedings with a 3.7m win in the Granny Reilly Performance Mix Vicbred Trot. The seven-year-old gelding found the lead early and never looked like losing, pinching a break approaching the home bend before holding off David Van Ryn pair Paris Pepperell and Enjoy A Coldie in the home straight. The Sugars’ team then combined for success with Bettor Rock On in the first heat of the Tabcorp Park Melton Winter Championship. Punters who took the short odds for the son of Bettors Delight were surely sweating with 50m to go, as Bettor Rock On was taking forever to reel in Tandias Bromac. But the $1.10 shot poked his head in front just in time to win by the narrowest of margins. Bettor Rock On posted sectionals of 29.0, 29.9, 28.5 and 28.4, with his mile rate a slick 1:54.9. Mulgrave then made it three from three for Team Sugars, defeating Gotta Go Henry in the Alabar 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. Mulgrave won by 2.8m in a mile rate of 1:58.3. The in-form David Aiken stable absolutely dominated the Granny Reilly Sole Mate Mix Trot over 2240m, Thanesan defeating stable-mate Vics Cheval by 5.1m. Junior driver Josh Aiken, who drove his first Group 1 winner last weekend, steered the winner, while his father David drove the second horse over the line. Amanda Grieve and Chris Alford combined to win the Granny Reilly Perfect Pacer Pace over 2240m with Magical Telf, who scored a half-neck win over Teo Enteo. Long odds-on favourite Almost El Eagle took out heat two of the Winter Championship for Steve Duffy and John Caldow. Ginger Bliss made it a winning double for Josh Aiken with victory in the Granny Reilly Maintain Mix Pace over 1720m, the talented four-year-old clocking 1:55.3 to beat Exciteusinthecity by 1.2m. Ginger Bliss found the lead early and dictated terms before cranking things up in the last half-mile, with third and fourth splits of 27.7 and 27.9 for a 55.6 last half. Exciteusinthecity ran a bottler of a race for Tim McLean, while Washmepockets poked through for third for Haydon Gray. Our Twentyten showed he is right on song for the Trotters Derby with an 8.9m win in the Redwood Day 20 July 3YO Trot, the Brent Lilley-trained son of Muscles Yankee defeating runner-up One Over Da Moon and third placegetter Daenerys Targaryen. The last race on the card, the Book Now For Breeders Crown 2YO Trotters Handicap, saw Greg Sugars snare win number four for the night and gave Lilley a winning double when My Arya got the chocolates. My Arya was the only filly off 10m in the race, the daughter of Angus Hall stepping sweetly early and trotting perfectly throughout to score by 2.3m over debutant Shared Interest (Nathan Jack), who ran a crackerjack race on debut and will be winning soon, while Sheza Amason was about 20m away in third. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

New Zealand trotting breeders would have slept very well last night after watching the Kiwi breds dominate the trotting races at Tabcorp Park Melton. There were no Kiwis in the first trotting race of the night but from then on it became a bit of a Kiwi bred benefit with the New Zealand breds winning the other three trot races. First up for the Kiwis was Thanesan who capatalised on a soft trip early before sitting parked for the last lap and just getting home over stablemate Vics Cheval. Having just his second start for the Aiken stable, Thanesan trotted the 2240 in 2:47.5, a mile rate of 2:00.4 The next race to fall to the Kiwis was the three year old trot where the first four home all carried the NZ tag after their name with Twentyten an easy winner. The son of Muscles Yankee was brought out of the Mark Purdon barn by Brent Lilley on behalf of clients a few months ago and looks to have a big future in his adopted homeland. The former star New Zealand 3 year old completely dominated proceedings after finding the front after 300 meters even though Spidergrace was over racing outside him When Chris Alford let him go at the 400 meters, Twentyten quickly asserted his superiorty and won with a fair bit in reserve. One Over Da Moon ran on well without looking a winning chance for second and Daenerys Targaryen and Dieu De lamour rounded out the Kiwi first four. He trotted the 2240 meters in 2:49.3, a mile rate of 2:01.7 The race for two year old trotters was notable for the Australian debut of leading Kiwi 2 year old, Arya. The daughter of Angus Hall had been promient in all the major New Zealand stakes races this season for Mark Purdon and was sent to the Brent Lilley stable for a preparation aimed at the Breeders Crown in August. Handicapped off ten meters, Arya settled third early before being sent to the front with 1100 meters to go. Pressured in front by the Angus Hall debutant Shared Interest, Arya wasn't really let down in the straight with Greg Sugars hardly moving in the bike as comfortably held Shared Interset at bay. Arya trotted the 2240 meters in 3:01.3, a pedestrian mile rate of 2:09.7 although she did quicken up over the last half in 58.9 and quarter in 29. With her impeccable manners and speed, Arya looms as a genuine threat in the Breeders Crown. Harnesslink Media

Bolinda harness racing trainer Kari Males is enjoying a blistering run of form. Males, whose two-year-old stable star Niki No No won the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, had a winner on Tuesday night at Shepparton with trotter The Truth before backing it up on Wednesday afternoon with six-year-old gelding Hall Of Famer victorious at Maryborough. It means Males’ last three runners to the races have been winners. Hall Of Famer, a C6 horse, utilised the claim for junior driver Kyle Marshall in the C4-C5 Bill Davies Memorial Pace over 1690m. Marshall took the son of Blissfull Hall to the breeze early, outside pacemaker With Gusto (Daryl Douglas). At the 400m, Hall Of Famer poured the pressure on full-blast, taking the lead early in the home straight before With Gusto fought back gamely to go down by a neck. Another junior driver in Mark Pitt enjoyed a great day out at Maryborough with a winning double. Pitt piloted Yankee Strutter home in the Col and Margaret Ford Memorial 2YO Pace (Race 1) before bookending the program with victory in the last on Waltalight. Both winners were trained by Wayne Potter. Two heats of the Trustees Carisbrook Racecourse Reserve Trotters Handicap were run and won at Maryborough, with Bill Morgan trained-and-driven Gioiosa Ionica victorious in the first heat by 4.3m over William John, while Tennotrump gelding Jay Gee from the Ross Graham stable won the second heat by 8.4m with Daryl Douglas in the sulky. Veteran trainer-driver Ginger Gleeson drove Sun Bird into second behind Jay Gee, the 10-year-old trotter finding some form at huge odds. Peter Manning and Greg Sugars combined with Village Jasper gelding Mixedwithajasper in the Seelite Windows and Doors 3YO Pace over 1690m, the three-year-old defeating Fremarks Ceejay by 3.7m in a mile rate of 1:57.2. Fremarks Ceejay and trainer-driver Courtney Slater bowled along freely at the front of the field for much of the race but couldn’t match the winner in the last 50m. Alan Dunsmuir-trained Western Gretel continued her strong recent form with victory in the McPhersons Printing Group Pace, defeating hot favourite Hellovaway by 3.6m. Driven a treat by young gun reinsman Alex Ashwood, Western Gretel finished too strongly for Hellovaway (Michael Sullivan), which was backing up after a gutsy seventh in the Vicbred Super Series Final on Saturday night. And another junior driver, Corey Bell, scored career win number 11 aboard Stunning Grin in the Happy 90th Frank Bartlett Pace over 2190m. The three-year-old Grinfromeartoear gelding from the Vince Vallelonga yard prevailed by 8.1m at $1.60 in a mile rate of 1:59.4. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Niki No No gave on-course harness racing MC Rob Auber a huge thrill tonight, winning the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Auber is one of the owners in the Kari Males-trained Sportswriter filly, who toiled in the breeze early, eventually worked to the lead and then still had enough left to hold off all comers at the finish. Niki No No, driven by Greg Sugars, was panels ahead of her nearest rivals in this series, because her semi-final win a week ago was equally as gutsy as tonight’s performance. After posting a quick first split of 28.8secs, punters who took the short odds about Niki No No might have been breaking into a sweat despite the chilly conditions. A 32.4secs second quarter however gave Niki No No some respite before she came home in 58.9secs for the last half to hold off Viva Safari, driven by Michael Azzopardi, by 3.6m, with Yankee Showgirl third for Chris Alford. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

It was billed as a harness racing match race for the ages and it lived up to all expectations – Lennytheshark and Guaranteed fighting out a gripping battle in the four-year-old males’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. In the finish Lennytheshark took the points, the odds-on favourite from the in-form David Aiken stable coming out on top after an action-packed race. Polemarker Boyz Torque fell at the first corner, Kerryn Manning flung out of the sulky while the horse had to be brought under control by the clerk of the course. Lennytheshark eventually found the lead before he and Guaranteed cleared out approaching the home bend. Lennytheshark rolled out, which he’s shown he can do from time to time, down the back but straightened up in the home stretch. Guaranteed stuck to his task gamely and didn’t give up the chase at any stage after sitting in the breeze, but Lennytheshark had a bit too much bite – scoring a 6m win in a mile rate of 1:56.0. Winning driver Chris Alford said an early check to Guaranteed had certainly helped Lennytheshark prevail. “I saw Guaranteed had copped a bit of a check early on,” Alford said. “Even at the 400m though I thought to myself I just couldn’t shake him (Guaranteed), but maybe the early check took a bit out of him and Lenny was too good on the night.” The first and second horses over the line cleared out from their nearest rival, Ginger Bliss, which ran on for third with Greg Sugars in the sulky. Lennytheshark’s win was a popular one for on-course punters, the crowd cheering enthusiastically as he and Guaranteed went toe to toe to the death. Wolfpack ran a mighty race to finish fourth, while early pacemaker Hes Kinky was fifth. Lennytheshark now has 15 wins from 30 starts and tonight’s was his seventh on the trot. Kerryn Manning walked away from her fall with a blood nose. Lennytheshark By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Chris Alford has his second Group 1 in two nights thanks to Messini scoring a huge win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO colts’ and geldings’ harness racing final tonight. The Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major sprinted to the lead mid-race and was never going to lose once there, eventually scoring an 8.8m triumph over Major Crocker in a mile rate of 1:55.9. Both favourite (Messini at $2.70) and second-favourite (Hectorjayjay at $3.30) had drawn extreme barriers and tactics were always going to be hugely important, with Alford on Messini and Simone Walker on Hectorjayjay. Walker took off wide aboard her chance early in the piece and was made to work by Young Modern and Michael Stanley to get to the breeze. Eventually Stanley eased into the one-out-one-back position, and then Alford made his move, sending Messini off around the field and sprinting to the front without too much trouble. “Once we got to the front he was always going to be hard to beat,” Alford said. “This is a great little horse.” Messini drew right away to win by 8.8m over runner-up Major Crocker (Greg Sugars) and Smokey Quartz (David Miles) in third. Lilley was full of praise for legendary New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who sent the horse to the Bolinda horseman. “He’s welcome to stay at my place as long as he wants,” Lilley said of Messini, which has won 10 of 24 starts. “I can’t take too much credit for him. Mark sent him over in great order.” Messini by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Friday night was a red letter affair for the Aikens. David Aiken, head of the Avenel operation, trained two Group 1 winners on the opening night of the Vicbred Super Series finals carnival at Tabcorp Park, while his son, Josh, drove his first Group 1 winner aboard the stable’s rising star Eljaykay Phoenix. The 21-year-old looked totally undaunted against drivers several years his senior, taking Eljaykay Phoenix to the front early, and not panicking when headed by Jodi Quinlan aboard Illawong Armstrong with a lap to go in the two-year-old male trotters’ final. The pair stayed one-two for the remainder of the race, with Eljaykay Phoenix proving 5.4m too strong in a mile rate of 2:03.8. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn,” the young driver said after the race. “That’s just unreal. I can’t explain how good it feels.” David Aiken then made it two Group 1s for the night with four-year-old Spidergirl capping her domination of the futurity series after previously taking out the two- and three-year-old titles. Chris Alford took Spidergirl to the front early and was never headed, the long odds-on favourite beating second favourite Paris Pepperell by 7.3m, with the rest of the field more than 20m away. Meanwhile, favourite punters were on song for most of the night with seven of the 10 races going their way. Claudys Princess was one of those, the Mick Blackmore-trained three-year-old filly saluting by 2.2m over Illawong Helios in her Super Series final. The win was Claudys Princess’s ninth from 12 starts and Blackmore will now have to seriously consider taking her to the Derby on Redwood Day. “She’ll tell us,” he said when asked about what was next for the daughter of Bacardi Lindy. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang was thrilled with the success. “While there are a lot of people at the top of the tree who deserve the accolades they get, there are a lot of people down the other end who really make our industry what it is,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire.” New South Welsh visitor Vincennes wasn’t the favourite but was well-supported before taking out the four-year-old males’ trotters final. And with six races being beamed live into France for wagering and broadcast last night, there’s a fair chance the French punters took the omen and made him favourite. Trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick delivered a copybook drive aboard Vincennes to defeat punters’ fancy Blitzthemcalder by 2.5m. Blitzthemcalder sat in the breeze mid-race and took the lead on the home turn, but Vincennes had momentum up after securing an economical trip four-back in the running line. Vincennes’ winning mile rate was 2:00.0, coming home in a last half-mile of 58.2secs. Andy Gath’s young trotter Endsino, driven by Kate Gath, started a short-priced favourite and showed she has a bright future by winning the two-year-old fillies’ trotters’ final. Endsino was over 12m too strong for her nearest rival, Shesa Amason, who gave cheek from her pole draw. The other Group 1 victor for the night was long-shot Imamenace for hobby trainer Peter Cormican and reinsman Greg Sugars. Imamenace sat outside race leader Spidergrace before getting the better of the David Moran-trained horse after a stirring battle in the home straight. Despite reinswoman Laura Crossland throwing everything at Spidergrace, Imamenace proved the tougher horse on the night. Alford finished with driving honours on the night, the Spidergirl victory coming after the champion horseman won on Triumphant Monarch in the first race. Amy Tubbs trained-and-driven Brunelleschi won the inaugural Group 3 Noopy Kisok Trotters Free For All, while Sonofanearl won the Aldebaran Park Monte despite a 20m handicap for rider Riina Maattanen. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

It’s party time in Arcadia tonight after the Group 1 success of Imamenace in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts and Geldings Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. The win was hobby trainer Peter Cormican’s first Group 1 success and he was predictably thrilled. “This is the first time (I’ve won a Group 1) and I’m going to make the most of it, let me tell you,” he said post-race. Driven by Greg Sugars, Imamenace, who is a huge horse and was having just his second start after a fifth on debut at Maryborough, got off the fence early to sit outside race favourite Spidergrace. The pair controlled proceedings before swinging for home the final time locked together. Despite the urgings of Laura Crossland, Spidergrace just couldn’t shake off Imamenace, who levelled up and then edged ahead near the line after a cracking two-horse battle to pull off an upset victory. “Amazing,” said winning driver Greg Sugars. “I drove him in the heat and Peter said he goes all right. He went well first up, hitting the line hard. “But to come out and do what he did tonight, there’s no way in the world I would have thought he could do that.” Asdenro produced a big run to finish third after being inconvenienced early in the race. The winner’s mile rate was 2:03.9. Imamenace by Cody Winnell

Lennytheshark looks to have a stranglehold on the harness racing Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires and geldings’ series after a commanding semi-final win. The David Aiken-trained rising superstar produced a stunning performance on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton to obliterate his rivals in his semi, beating the second horse over the line, Valley Of Diamonds, by 13.7m. Reinsman Chris Alford took the son of Four Starzzz Shark to the lead midrace after initially easing to midfield early from his gate-six draw. Once in front, Lennytheshark was eyeballed by Smart Major until the home turn when Alford and the favourite broke the Forbes-trained pacer’s resistance. In the straight, Lennytheshark let down like a champion, putting daylight on a handy batch of four-year-olds for a memorable win in a mile rate of 1:58.5. While he has shown a tendency to lay out in the home straight in recent starts, Lennytheshark hasn’t had many horses to keep him company in the latter part of his races as they simply can’t keep up. The other 4YO boys’ semi-final was taken out by Lennytheshark’s arch enemy Guaranteed – considered by most punters to be the only horse capable of landing the knockout blow to the favourite in next Saturday night’s grand final. The Emma Stewart-trained son of Artsplace overhauled Ginger Bliss in the home straight for a 9.9m win in a mile rate of 1:58.2. Gavin Lang produced another typically masterful drive aboard the winner, extricating it from a four-back-the-pegs position early after the horse was shuffled back with no speed from its pole draw. From there, Lang got cover out three-wide before making a sharp run towards pacy Ginger Bliss on turning for home. Guaranteed packed too big a punch in the stretch, Ginger Bliss battling on strongly for second, with Three Pints snaring third. The eye-catcher from the race was Boyz Torque, which made up enormous ground along the inside in the last 100m to finish fourth. Diamond Castle – raced by Harness Racing Victoria ownership program Raceapacer – scored a 1.8m win over Missed By Red in a rate of 2:02.2 in the second semi-final for 2YO fillies. Trained and driven by David Miles, Diamond Castle was having just her second start after a debut second at Ballarat first-up. The daughter of Art Major settled well back in the field with $1.20 favourite Lovelist finding the lead comfortably. But at the business end the roles were reversed, with Diamond Castle finishing too well to get the win. Lovelist ran third. Talented Kari Males-trained Niki No No captured the other 2YO fillies’ semi-final, Greg Sugars steering the daughter of Sportswriter to victory. Niki No No did plenty of work early and recorded a winning mile rate of 1:59.8, with Yankee Showgirl second and Our Star Dust third. Courageousnquick scored an impressive start-to-finish win in the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, holding off Mcrita, Union Belle and the fast-finishing Pressplay in the home straight. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Kyle Marshall, Courageousnquick held out Earth Angel to find the lead at the start before seeing off all challengers in the home straight at the finish for a neck win in a rate of 2:00.4. The other 4YO mares’ semi went to Im Smouldering for Doreen trainer John Yeomans, who teamed with Gavin Lang. Im Smouldering’s winning margin was 2m and his mile rate 1:56.7. The 2YO colts and geldings’ semi-finals were taken out by Virgil Hilts at big odds for trainer-driver Lisa Miles and Major Invictus for trainer/driver Michael Stanley. Hectorjayjay (for the in-form Bill and Simone Walker team) and Messini (Brent Lilley and Chris Alford) took out the 3YO colts’ and geldings’ semis, while Berisari (Emma Stewart and Nathan Jack) and Tasmanian star Barynya (Dick Eaves and Rohan Hillier) won the 3YO fillies’ races. Friday night's races were held in windy conditions. Videos of all races are attached above. The Super Series grand final nights will be held this Friday (for the trotters) and Saturday (pacers). Twelve Group 1 races will be contested across the two-day carnival of meetings. by Cody Winnell

It might only have been her second win from 14 starts, but if she can repeat today’s performance at Tabcorp Park Melton, many more triumphs are in store for Basil Dooley-trained Sweet Wise. The four-year-old Allendale mare by Totally Ruthless out of Little Trouble had no trouble whatsoever finding the lead early, pinging off the arm at the 1720m start in the Jim's Mowing AU Facebook Pace. From there driver Greg Sugars controlled proceedings, Sweet Wise kicking clear turning for home to race clear for a 13.2m win in a rate of 1:57.2. Meanwhile, Spidergrace looked a star in the making with a 9.4m win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings second heat. The gelding, trained by David Moran and driven by Laura Crossland, showed strong pace early and led before racing clear off the back for a comfortable victory. Savannah Jay Jay ran on well to get second, while Tiavon’s Dream was third after slightly missing the start due to a break in the score-up. Polemarker Miracle, who was well in the market, finished fifth after getting shuffled back along the pegs early. Speaking of potential stars in the making, Lance Justice might have unveiled another one in Phil Monty. The four-year-old gelding has not put a foot wrong since joining the Justice stable from New Zealand, with  strong wins at Charlton and Maryborough before today’s impressive 1.9m victory. Justice took Phil Monty to the front from gate one and controlled the speed perfectly before bringing him home in 55.9secs for the last half-mile to register a winning mile rate of 2:00.5. In the Jim’s Mowing Trotters’ Handicap eight-year-old gelding Xanderxav scored an upset victory for trainer Linton Power with David Moran in the cart. The son of former superstar trotter Wagon Apollo stepped well from the tapes to lead unchallenged. Brief Glance made an early move to get to the breeze, while favourite Blitzthemcalder was driven patiently from his 20m handicap. Turning for home Brief Glance challenged Xanderxav, but the leader responded and simply couldn’t be headed. Lleyton H battled on strongly for third at big odds, Lucky Twenty Three ending up fourth and Blitzthemcalder fifth. In the Jim's Mowing 131 546 Pace, eight-year-old mare Broadways Best turned back the clock for an impressive half-neck win over Lance Justice pair Machin Out and Im Barney Rubble. Chris Alford took the Shannon McLean-trained feature race specialist to the breeze with a lightning move mid-race, sitting outside early leader Blazeaway Macray. Greg Sugars then had his go, whipping Villagem around the field and dashing to the lead. But Broadways Best was too strong at the business end, out-staying her rivals in a mile rate of 1:59.5. The 3YO Trotting Fillies’ Vicbred Super Series second heat was taken out by Ross Graham’s Monkey Bones squaregaiter Four Lillies with Daryl Douglas in the sulky. Four Lillies won by a comfortable 14.9m over Lindy Vale, with Sister Of Sonoko another 8.1m away in third place. Other winners for the meeting were Nobetterthanthis in the Harness Breeders Vic Pace over 2240m for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan, which scored a head win over What A Sheila in 2:03.8, while Gaita Pullicino’s three-year-old gelding Blackwarrior was too tough for his rivals in the Corio Waste Management 3YO Pace, winning by 1.2m over Vinny Chase with a further 24.2m away to Macworthy in third. Pullicino had earlier finished fourth aboard Lovable Larrikin, which showed a win was not far off when he rattled home out wide behind Broadways Best. by Cody Winnell

Mister Douglas is a modern day marvel. The rising 15-year-old registered his 33rd career win on Monday, victorious at Warragul in the Warragul Country Club Claiming Pace over 2205m. Raced by Joanne Justice and Ron Taylor, Mister Douglas – trained by Joanne at the property of reinsman brother John in Toolern Vale – tried valiantly to lead from pole before having to hand up to heavily supported favourite Jetshawjoe. Given a cosy passage, Mister Douglas was eased away from the markers approaching the home turn to lead on straightening. Although shifting ground late, the 14-year-old scored by a half-neck over Flyin Interstate, with Cowboy Cadillac in third in a mile rate of 2:00.4. Corey Bell, who drove Cowboy Cadillac, protested against the winner but this was quickly dismissed. Chris Alford and Greg Sugars shared driving honours for the meeting, each with a double. Alford won aboard self-trained Louisiana Spring and Now And Forever for trainer Jayne Davies. Sugars partnered both Dreamtime Spirit and Bettor Rock On, which took out the feature – the Traralgon Pacing Cup – for father Ross.

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