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It's only a $7500 event for Metropolitan maiden performers, but the final race at Gloucester Park on Friday night, the 2130m Make Smoking History Pathway Pace, is of significant importance to Chris Brew, who is confident of success with Wotavugot, a six-year-old with a losing sequence of 16 and unsuccessful since scoring at Narrogin in June 2012. "This could well be my final appearance at Gloucester Park and I would dearly love to win the race," said the 32-year-old Brew, who has decided to embark on a new career path. "I will be seen as a trainer for the final time when I drive Glenferrie Hood in the Manea Classic at Bunbury on Saturday night and debutant Dainty Diva at Collie on Sunday afternoon. I will leave Western Australia in two weeks and it's possible I might not drive again at Gloucester Park." The Victorian-born 32-year-old Brew would dearly love to end his career in this State the same way as he started it --- when he brought Long Shot Lou home with a powerful three-wide burst to win at Gloucester Park in December 2007 at his first appearance in the State. He will be moving home to Melbourne with his wife Kalina and children Olivia (six) and Toby (nine months) and will become a fly-in, fly-out truck driver in Karratha, in the far north of WA. "This is something I've decided I need to do for my family," he said. "I'll miss training and driving here in WA. I haven't got many regrets and I've enjoyed my time here over the past six and half years. I'd love to bow out with a winner or two." The pint-sized Brew has winning prospects with his two drives on Friday night --- Christian Banner in the Community Newspaper Group Pace and Wotavugot in the final event. Wotavugot, who is trained at Barragup by Laurie Groves, warmed up for this week's assignment in good style when he trailed the pacemaker Raza Sharp Lombo before finishing fast to be a close second to that horse over 2536m last Friday night. He is ideally drawn in this week's event at No. 2 barrier on the front line. "He was impressive last week and seems like a horse on the way up," Brew said. "I would like to think that he will lead and take catching." Wotavugot certainly makes strong appeal as the likely leader, with the moderate performer Big Shot Barbie (who has managed one placing from her past 21 starts) on his inside. "Even though he finished seventh at his previous start (behind Vertical Four at Bunbury at his previous start) Wotavugot impressed me," Brew said. "He came from a long way back and attacked the line very well. "Laurie Groves and his son Brad, David Hunter and Dennis Roche have been the biggest supporters I've had and it would be fantastic to drive a winner for them before I go home. "Christian Banner, who is trained by Hunter, has drawn the outside of the front line, but he is a winning chance. It wouldn't matter where he draws; he's always a chance because he's just a good, honest and consistent horse. He has a good turn of foot and if the race is run to suit he's always a chance. "His last-start fourth was in a good field at Harvey and they sprinted a fast last sectional. He will be suited over the 2536m. His record over 2500m is very good. He is a model of consistency and he came from last to win the Williams Cup over 2666m in December." Christian Banner has won twice over 2600m at Addington and over 2569m at Bunbury and two starts ago he finished with a powerful burst to be second to Clifford over 2597m at Bridgetown. Clifford franked that form with a strong victory at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Brew also is confident of strong showings from Glenferrie Hood in the Manea Classic at Bunbury on Saturday night and he said he expected Dainty Diva would produce a strong effort at her debut in a three-year-old maiden event at Collie on Sunday. " "Dainty Diva is very fast away from a stand and she's clean-gaited," he said. "I'm hoping she draws the front line, and if she does she should prove a good winning chance. Glenferrie Hood should go well at Bunbury. I'm hoping for a favourable draw. After the race Glenferrie Hood will leave for New South Wales where he will be trained by Luke McCarthy." Brew said that he had had his share of success and his share of heartbreak in WA and would leave with many happy memories. His major triumphs were winning the $100,000 group 1 State Sires Series final for three-year-old colts and geldings with The Feather Foot in July 2010, the group 2 $50,000 Binshaw Classic with Please Release Me in February 2012 and two group 3 events with Lucie Boshier in 2012 --- the John Higgins Memorial and the Norm's Daughter Classic. Brew's decision to quit harness racing will further deplete the ranks of talented young reinsmen. In the past month New Zealand-born drivers Chris Butt and Shane Butcher have left WA. Butcher has resumed driving in Auckland and Butt has gone to Paris to work in a stable there before going to America to gain further experience and then returning to his homeland. WOODLEY OUT TO MAKE AMENDS IN THE AUTUMN CHAMPIONSHIP Outstanding reinsman Morgan Woodley is hellbent on making amends for the defeat of David Hercules in last year's Autumn Championship by driving the David Thompson-trained gelding to victory in the $21,000 Mulberry Estate Autumn Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Twelve months ago Woodley chose to drive David Hercules in preference to Mysta Magical Mach when David Hercules, from barrier No. 4, worked hard in the breeze and battled on to be a well-beaten second to the pacemaking Mysta Magical Mach, who was heavily backed to start favourite at 6/4 on for star reinsman Chris Lewis. Woodley had driven Mysta Magical Mach to victory in the Autumn Championship in 2012, after having won the feature event with Scruffy Murphy in 2008. In a major change the Autumn Championship will be decided over 1730m after the race was run over 2536m last year and 2506m the previous year. David Hercules is a brilliant sprinter who holds the track record for 1700m (1.52.8) and 2130m (1.53.6). He proved far too good for the opposition last Friday night when he started from the outside of the front line (barrier seven)and worked without cover before surging past the pacemaker Truckers Ruffnut and into the lead 450m from home before winning by 5m from Red Salute, rating 1.55 over 2130m. He sprinted over the final 800m in 55.6sec. Woodley was full of praise for the seven-year-old, describing him as a tremendous performer with a high cruising speed and keen appetite for racing. David Hercules will start out wide again this week and Woodley is likely to send him forward from the No. 6 position immediately after the start or when the field settles down after 400m or so. Hokuri Handrail, who will be driven for the first time by Chris Voak, is favourably drawn at No. 2 and has sound prospects of leading. He has managed just one placing from his past 14 starts, but is a smart frontrunner, capable of considerable improvement. Polak, to be driven by Clint Kimes for trainer Mike Reed, will start from barrier three. He possesses sparkling gate speed and is likely to press forward at the start in a bid for the lead. The chief rival for David Hercules could be This Time Dylan, who is likely to be restrained at the start from the No. 7 barrier and be saved up for a powerful last-lap sprint. This Time Dylan, trained by Michael Brennan, has won at nine of his past 18 starts and is the leader in the Gloucester Park Horse of the Year award. STAND SPECIALIST LORD COBURN RETURNS TO MOBILE RACING Former Victorian pacer Lord Coburn, who has scored effortless all-the-way victories in 2503m stands at his past two starts, will return to mobile racing when he starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the 2130m first heat of the Burswood On Swan Clarke Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri said that he had hoped Lord Coburn would continue contesting stands and was disappointed when the advertised 2503m stand for M4-class pacers was not included in the ten-event program because of insufficient nominations. "The mobile was my second choice and I still consider Lord Coburn will prove hard to beat," he said. "He is in terrific form and he should lead and play a big part in the race. I would have preferred for him to run in a stand because he is such a good beginner that he would've jumped 10 metres in front of his rivals. But he should still lead in the mobile." Lord Coburn, to be driven by Chris Voak, is a six-year-old gelding by Grinfromeartoear who has relished his pacemaking role at his past two starts in 2503m stands and has won by 13m and 7m. He has started 15 times in WA, with 11 of those events being a standing-start race over 2500m --- for four wins, two seconds and one third placing. "He wasn't sent to me as a stand horse; he was sent to me as a fast 1700m horse," Olivieri explained. "And I have found that he is a good standing-start horse over 2503m." Friday night's race looks sure to provide keen betting, with all eight runners having admirers. The Andrew De Campo-trained Danieljohn is knocking on the door after five placings from his past six starts and he looks set to fight out the finish. He set a fast pace and sprinted over the final 800m in 56.9sec. when second to truckers Ruffnut over 2130m last Friday week. Uppy Son is close to another win after his head second to Lord Lombo last Friday night when he finished with great determination after racing outside the pacemaker Midnight Dylan. He is the only runner on the back line and appeals as a major hope in a race in which Benjamin Banneker (trained by Gary Hall sen.) and stablemates Bronze Seeker and Mighty Flying Thomas (trained by Peter Anderson) must be considered. Benjamin Banneker was most impressive at his second appearance after a spell when he worked hard without cover before fighting on grandly to be second to Lovers Delight in the 2550m Harvey Cup last Saturday night. Olivieri also expects a strong showing from Shnappy in the Spices Group Pathway Pace over 2130m. To be driven by Voak, Shnappy returns to mobile racing after contesting 2503m stands at his past two starts for a win and a second. He will start from the outside of the front line, but looks hard to beat against moderate opposition. by Ken Casellas  

Always A Virgin gelding Blackntan remained unbeaten with his third win in three attempts in tonight’s $15,000 Kindergarten Stakes at Adelaide’s Globe Derby Park track. Blackntan won from the Grinfromeartoear filly Whats Emma Got and Go Go Red. Lot 38 in today’s WA Yearling Sale is the only Always A Virgin yearling in the catalogue and is a filly from the Million To One mare Our First Million. There are a pair of Grinfromeartoear fillies in today’s catalogue including one from the Group One winning 2yo filly Sheza Clout 1:58.1 $252,928. Lots 72 and 73 in the Western Australian sale are a colt and filly by Gotta Go Cullect who sired his 15th winner when the 3yo colt Gotta Go Chocolate won on debut at Bunbury last night in a smart 1:59.6 rate over the 2100 metres. Earlier in the day the 3yo Gotta Go Cullect filly Royal Counsel won her second race of the season at Wyndham in New Zealand at her sixth start in a time of 1:57.0 over the mile. The Group Three New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes for 2yos at the same meeting was won by the Bettor’s Delight filly Itz Bettor To Win which ran the mile in a scintillating 1:54.3 to win from the Art Major filly Say My Name. Itz Bettor To Win is from the Courage Under Fire mare Itz Queen Of Newyork. Lot 10 at today’s Gloucester Standardbreds WA Yearling Sale is a filly bred on the same cross being by Bettor’s Delight from the Courage Under Fire mare Priscilla Rocks. While Itz Queen Of Newyork won just one 3yo race in a moderate 2:03.0, Priscilla Rocks won four races as a 2yo and a further four as a 3yo including a prelude of the WA Oaks on her way to career earnings of $115,179. The 2014 Gloucester Standardbreds WA Yearling Sale gets under way at the Belmont Park Sales Complex at 1:00pm with a parade of yearlings commencing at 10:00am. The office at the complex will open at 8:00am for those wishing to make an early start on finding their champion.

After producing the 2013 Western Australian 2yo Colt of the Year Mister Jadore, Grinfromeartoear has maintained the standard this year with four individual 2yo winners already. His fourth individual 2yo winner for the season came in Saturday night’s Victorian Sapling Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton when Luvumum rated a brilliant 1:57.6 over the 1720 metres to win by 15 metres from Viva Safari and Locks Of Gold. Gloucester Standardbreds have four colts and two fillies by Grinfromeartoear in their 2014 Western Australian Yearling Sale which will get under way at 1:00pm on Sunday 23rd February at the Belmont Park Sales Complex. One of the two Grinfromeartoear fillies being offered is from the outstanding 2yo filly Sheza Clout which included a Group One Diamond Classic among her nine wins at that age. Harness Racing Australia

The flagships of the Division are the Australasian Classic and New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales held in Auckland Monday 17th February and Christchurch Tuesday and Wednesday 18th and 19th of February. Billed as the “Sale of the Stars” their graduates include seven modern day New Zealand Cup winners, thirty two Harness Jewels winners and thirty one Australasian Breeders Crown winners. Unity under the PGG Wrightson organisation has been a major benefit to the sales. Especially in producing a top quality catalogue, funding a very successful inward buyer scheme and the $1 million Sales Race Series now in its 24th year. Harnesslink is running a short series on some of the yearlings on offer. Lot 269 Premier sale - GRACIOUS MACH SIRE - MACH THREE - A great sire worldwide who has left outstanding fillies where ever he has stood. His North American filly credits are headed by the brilliant pair of  Monkey On My Wheel (1:49.3s) and $1,334,934 in stakes and Mach You And Me (1:50.2m) $800,819, while his Australasian filly credits are headed by Joyfuljoy (1:51.2) $480,422, Millwood Meg ($336,795), Shake It Mama ($237 193), while this years star three year old filly, Venus Serena ($434,152) recently broke the New Zealand mile record for a three year old filly when winning in 1:52.2 and may end up the best of them all in Australasia. Mach Three also is proving himself a very good broodmare sire as well leaving the Sapling Stakes winner at Melton on Saturday night just gone Luvumum (Grinfromeartoear from Mach And Me by Mach Three) DAM - JARAGUA - She won three races in a brief race career. This is her second foal with the first Atomic Blonde qualifying at two. She is a full sister to Gracious Mach. Jaragua is by the Cam Fella sire in Camtastic, she is a half to six winners including the smart Kim Crawford $149,254 (1:53) and Sandrea's Fault ($86,418). The third dam is Moon Weave who left the talented Moonweave Motoring (1:58.6) and the dam of Speriamo $144,570 (1;58). She is a half to Blythbank Del (1:58.5) who at stud left the brilliant juvenile Benefactor $263,798. OVERVIEW -  Being a January foal puts her three months behind most of her sales rival but she still has the appearance of a filly that will run early. She is a lovely put together filly who is quite racy in appearance and should develop into a lovely type with maturity. This is a great opportunity to buy a quality Mach Three filly without breaking the bank. Catalogue pedigree Lot 319 Premier sale - FRANCO LAMAR SIRE - Another son of the first season sire, Changeover who is biggest stakes winner left by the super sire In the Pocket who has quickly established himself as a great sire of sires with both Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire excelling at stud. They have been very prominent at the early two year old trials and workouts and everything looks very positive at this stage. DAM - Lewinsky Franco is by the leading brood mare sire in Falcon Seelster. She was a very smart race mare racing at the elite level as a two and three year old in New Zealand before ending up in North America as an older horse where she took a mark of 1:51.4 on her way to winning $167,508 returning to Nevele R for stud duties she has quickly established herself as a quality brood mare. Her son Franco Lordship 1:58.1 won six as a two and three year old in New Zealand while Lucca Franco (1:59.8) has already won three from a handful of starts. The grand-dam Look's the Part was placed in the New Zealand Oaks and has left ten winners including the full sister to Lewinsky Franco in Labretta Franco (1:58.5) who is the dam of the brilliant Lilac Stride $276,144 1:54.4. The third dam is the smart race mare and great brood mare, Living Doll. OVERVIEW - A colt by the biggest stake winning son of super sire In The Pocket from one of New Zealand's fastest ever race mares. It is not often that buyers in Australasia have the opportunity to buy the progeny of a mare that went 1:51.4 and with the strength of the family behind him, this colt looks a great  chance to further embellish this families record. Catalogue pedigree. Lot 347 Premier sale - FRANCO NIVEN SIRE - Another son of the hugely successful son of  the great Falcon Seelster in McArdle. He has sired the winners of well over $45,000,000 worldwide and continues to leave quality racehorses with the very smart two year old in Jay Dub the latest to create a favourable impression. DAM - Nature Franco (1:59.2) is a speedy daughter of the Western Hanover sire, Union Guy. This is her sixth foal of which four have already raced for three winners including Lively GNP (1:58.2),  Franco Nattai (1:55.6) and Franco Nepia (1:58). Their dam is a half sister to nine winners including Franco Natura $204,542, Napa Franco (1:58.6) and Franco No Fear (1:57.9) while two half sisters have starred in the brood mare barn with Universe leaving Universal Dream $277,906 (1:50) and Northern Franco leaving Pembrook Benny ($839,232). The grand-dam Natural Appeal was a very smart three year old winning five at that age and was a half sister to the very smart, Panyan (29 wins). OVERVIEW--- This is a family that is noted for leaving hard wearing and tough individuals and this mares three winners all fit that mold. Great pedigree of quality individuals means this colt has a great chance of joining his siblings in the winners circle. Catalogue pedigree JC

Mister Big is now on the board as a sire downunder, courtesy of the Tasmanian bred and raced 2yo filly  Safety Girl. Starting favourite, Safety Girl made her debut a winning one last Friday night at Launceston with a comfortable victory. After settling in behind the leader, Safety Girl popped off into the breeze with 900m to travel. Leveling up at the top of the home straight she kicked clear and hit the line strongly, winning by 3.6 metres. Bred and raced by Mick Maxfield, Safety Girl is the fourth foal and third winner from the Group One placed Safely Kept mare Safety Torado. Being out of a Safely Kept mare, Safety Girl carries a 3 x 3 cross to Jate Lobell and also a 6 x 6 cross to Shifting Sands (a daughter of Golden Miss). Duplicating the Golden Miss family has worked extremely well for Grinfromeartoear, so it interesting to note that Mister Big's first Southern Hemisphere winner contains this same breeding pattern.

The trip was sweet and the end result was even sweeter for Kendal Gustav who erupted for a 22-1 upset in Monday’s $11,000 Preferred 2 for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District. Lorne House carved out a second over trip for Kendal Gustav in the featured event, and the gelding did the rest en route to an easy score in the eight-horse affair. Kendal Gustav got away fifth before slipping to the outside and grabbing cover for the back-half of the contest. Clic K steamrolled through solid panels of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:26 before coming to a walk by the time the field turned for home. Smokin Bear was first-over and driving at that leader in the final half of the mile, and hot on hisheels was the eventual winner. Kendal Gustav kicked home in :30 en route to winning by 2-1/2 lengths over Rays San in 1:56.2. Smokin Bear managed to hold on for third prize. Trainer Scott McNiven co-owns the five-year-old son of Life Sign-City Of Dreams with Tom Brodhurst and Shirley Griffin, and collectively they’ve watched the gelding racked up 19 lifetime wins while stashing away close to $130,000 in career earnings. Just two races earlier it was Slots Of Fun turning in a front-stepping score in the $7,350 Preferred 3 for horse and gelding pacers. Driver/co-owner Alfie Carroll hustled the six-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear-High Pressure through panels of :28.1, :58.4 and 1:29.2 before sprinting home in :29.3 to win by a half-length margin over Leafs And Wings in 1:59. Stoney Durkin, who was eighth at the head of the lane, came on strong to finish third. Richard Carroll trains the 18-time winner, who is now 2-for-3 this season. He boosted his overall cash stash to $115,223 with the win. Savthelstdancforme captured the $7,000 Preferred 3 for trotters for the second week in-a-row, and he did so with authority for catch-driver Tyler Borth. The eight-year-old son of Striking Sahbra-Iam Worthy Too chopped out fractions of :29.2, 1:00.2 and 1:30 before coasting home in :30.3 to win by three lengths over Windsun Fireball in 2:00.3. Sonny Vale came first-over and finished a distant third. Ashley Duford trains the 14-time winner for Dennis Duford of Dresden, Ontario. The trotter has managed to bank $122,887 to date. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – The Raceway at Western Fair District. Reprinted with permission by

Pacer turned trotter, Action-Ear-To-Ear, was successful in his trotting debut in the opening race on Tuesday (January 14) at Northfield Park. Action-Ear-To-Ear began from post two and led at virtually every call, posting a winning time of 2:05.3. Action-Ear-To-Ear (Grinfromeartoear-Life With Mindy-Life Sign) began racing in Canada in 2010, winning one of five races as a freshman pacer. He was winless in six tries as a sophomore and won one of 12 races as a four year-old. His best year to date has been 2013 when he won two races and finished second seven times in 14 starts. He has a mark of 1:55.2, paced at Northfield Park, and has career earnings of $27,063. Action-Ear-To-Ear was claimed by Andrew Coblentz of Wooster, Ohio for $3,000 in August 2013. Coblentz placed him under the care of trainer John G. Wengerd. The horse looked to be a good claim, pacing in 1:53.2, finishing second in a $4,000 claiming race just two starts later. "That 53 mile really soared him up," said Wengerd. "So we put road shoes on him and let him pull a buggy to stay in shape until he was fully sound again." Pulling an Amish buggy around Wayne County, Ohio for several months did a lot of good for Action-Ear-To-Ear according to Wengerd. However, in that time it was noticed that the six year-old pacer never paced. He had trotted the entire time he was on the road. "He is a really smooth gated trotter," commented Wengerd. "He even looks like a trotter." When Action-Ear-To-Ear left his road duties and reentered training, Wengerd noted, "All he wanted to do was trot. So I called the owner and talked it over with him and we decided to take his hopples off for good." Action-Ear-To-Ear qualified December 27 at Northfield Park on the trot. "I was a little nervous that when he saw the gate he would switch to a pace, but he didn't," offered Wengerd. He left right up out of there like he was supposed to, got on top and won his qualifier easy." Action-Ear-To-Ear led at every call, besting his competition by 2 ¼ lengths in 2:04.2. Action-Ear-To-Ear's immediate future appears to be as a trotter. However, there is always a back-up plan, which may include hopples, in the wings if his current gate does not work out. Northfield Park Adds $7,500 Guaranteed Pick-5 Total Pool To Wednesday’s Card Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $7,500 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Wednesday’s (January 15) program.  Beginning in Race 3, the $7,500 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $1,742.43. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.    Wednesday’s post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratliff  

It is not often that a horse with four pari-mutuel wins is found competing against a group of maidens. Most horses with a quadruplet of victories would not be eligible for such a race. However, Action-Ear-To-Ear is just that horse whit fits the bill and will go to post on Tuesday (January 7) in the opening race at Northfield Park. Action-Ear-To-Ear (Grinfromeartoear-Life With Mindy-Life Sign) began racing in Canada in 2010, winning one of five races as a freshman pacer. He was winless in six tries as a sophomore and won one of 12 races as a four year-old. His best year to date has been 2013 when he won two races and finished second seven times in 14 starts. He has a mark of 1:55.2, paced at Northfield Park, and has career earnings of $27,063. Action-Ear-To-Ear was claimed by Andrew Coblentz of Wooster, Ohio for $3,000 in August 2013. Coblentz placed him under the care of trainer John G. Wengerd. The horse looked to be a good claim, pacing in 1:53.2, finishing second in a $4,000 claiming race just two starts later. "That 53 mile really soared him up," said Wengerd. "So we put road shoes on him and let him pull a buggy to stay in shape until he was fully sound again." Pulling an Amish buggy around Wayne County, Ohio for several months did a lot of good for Action-Ear-To-Ear according to Wengerd. However, in that time it was noticed that the six year-old pacer never paced. He had trotted the entire time he was on the road. "He is a really smooth gated trotter," commented Wengerd. "He even looks like a trotter." When Action-Ear-To-Ear left his road duties and reentered training, Wengerd noted, "All he wanted to do was trot. So I called the owner and talked it over with him and we decided to take his hopples off for good." Action-Ear-To-Ear qualified December 27 at Northfield Park on the trot. "I was a little nervous that when he saw the gate he would switch to a pace, but he didn't," offered Wengerd. He left right up out of there like he was supposed to, got on top and won his qualifier easy." Action-Ear-To-Ear led at every call, besting his competition by 2 ¼ lengths in 2:04.2. Action-Ear-To-Ear makes his trotting debut on Tuesday, drawing post position two and has been named the 5-2 morning line favorite by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcating Dave Bianconi. Wengerd named himself to drive the now trotter in his initial start. "I don't plan on driving him like a first-time starter," said Wengered. "He is not a regular maiden and has a lot of experience. I know it was on the pace, but he has been in 53." Wengerd gave his thoughts on Action-Ear-To-Ear's trotting debut: "I don't think he will be a maiden too long. I like our chances." by Ayers Ratliff for Northfield Park

It was Jim Phillips Memorial Cobram Pacing Cup Day on Friday December 28, with a bumper crowd of Murray River holiday makers enjoying the nine race harness racing card. Bannockburn trainer Geoff Webster having won three of the past five - Genuine Star (2008), Mister Zion (2009) and Lets Slash An Burn (2010), was looking to make it four with much travelled gelding Rakarebel, as was Melton based reinsman Greg Sugars aboard the Webster elect, after guiding Genuine Star, Lets Slash An Burn and Jaccka Clive to victory in 2011 for Avenel’s David Aiken. The $25,000 feature for M0 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2678 metres attracted a small but quality field, with prolific winning Jaccka Clive (one of four runners from the Aiken barn) the 20 metre backmarker. Last year’s successful trainer Tim Butt made it back to back cup victories, when five year old Grinfromeartoear - Against The Wind gelding Pass Them By with John Caldow in the sulky prevailed. Beginning brilliantly from barrier four, Pass Them By pounced on the lead, with Uncle Wingnut from outside the front line moving outside him, polemarker Washmepockets trailing the leader, Rakarebel (barrier two) one/one being followed by Wartime Sweetheart and stablemate Smudge Bromac from the 10 metre mark, with Jaccka Clive last. Composed settled three back the markers, with stablemates Lovable Larrikin and Jaydens Castle trailing him. With no moves being made until the last lap, Wartime Sweetheart was eased three wide to commence a forward move, giving Jaccka Clive a ride home and Smudge Bromac working between runners. Joining Pass Them By on the final bend, Wartime Sweetheart issued a strong challenge, however Pass Them By after a relative easy trip, rallied to gain the day by a head in a punishing finish, with Washmepockets using the sprint lane for third just in advance of Composed which also made use of the inside run. Rated to perfection by Caldow in quarters of 29.6, 30.1, 28.4 and 28.5 for the last mile, Pass Them By raced by a large number of stable clients returned a new track record mile rate of 1-59.5, bettering Mister Zion’s 1-59.9 by .4 seconds. The other highlight of the afternoon being the $15,000 Central Murray Credit Union Cobram Trotters Cup for TM0 or better class (D-H) over 2678 metres, with victory going the way of David Aiken’s all American bred seven year old Ken Warkentin - Kovel rig My High Expectations, obliterating the track record by two seconds. Well in on handicaps to start from a 20 metre backmark, My High Expectations stepped cleanly with old timer Oi You beginning best to lead from barrier three, before surrendering to the Kiwi Thanesan entering the front straight on the first occasion. Biding his time with most of the field ahead of him, My Expectations moved to be one/one mid-race when I See Icy Earl ahead of him eased away from the markers to lead up the outside division before taking cover on Bellingham from last. Taken four wide in the final circuit, My High Expectations quickly joined Thanesan on the home turn and raced away to score by 6.8 metres in a mile rate of 2-01.3 (last half 58 seconds – quarter 28.9) over Thanesan who was game in defeat, with I See Icy Earl (three wide last lap) third 5.1 metres away. It was My High Expectations 23rd victory from only 71 outings. David reaped all of the rewards, as apart from training and driving the winner, he also races him. An interesting winner on the day was nine year old Panorama - Regal Sarnel gelding Regalramapleasure for Chiltern trainer Peter Romero who despite winning eleven races (mostly in three year old and restricted events over the years), started in the C1 class Clydesdale Hotel Pace over 2170 metres thanks to the drop back system. Driven by Nathan Jack, Regalramapleasure led throughout from gate five, defeating Pelling and Smart Sista in a rate of 2-00.3 when having his first outing since Melbourne Cup Day. Videos of the two Cups are attached. by Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

Maryborough in Central Victoria - home of the trotter held a 10 event card on Monday December 23 which featured no less than five events devoted to the squaregaiter. Redwood winner Daenerys Targaryen returned to the winners list in the Highland Heavy Games 3-Y-0 Trotters Mobile over 2190 metres. Now in the care of Brent Lilley at Bolinda, Daenerys Targaryen with Greg Sugars in the sulky wasn't pushed at the start from gate six, before striding clear to lead for the majority of the trip, defeating Sister Of Sonoko (one/one at bell) from near last by 2.4 metres, with the first starter Maybelina using the sprint lane from four back the markers to finish third. The mile rate 2-06.4. St Arnaud trainer Brian Kiesey provided an upset result when six year old Life Sign/Abby Beach mare Apple Beach scored in the Showstoppers @ Princess Park New Years Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2190 metres, paying Supertab odds of $59.00. Driven by Michael Bellman, Apple Beach having her first outing in almost 12 months (January 7 2013), galloped away from the extreme draw settling at the tail of the field along with The Yankee Clipper which was badly away and Pride Of Sundon who was slow to begin, with the hot favourite Rosemma leading from gate three. Still last prior to the home turn, Apple Beach produced a barnstorming finish out wide to blouse Rosemma by a head in 2-08.1 which surrendered to Pride Of Sundon mid-race before easing off his back on turning. Tommy Kay (three back the markers at bell) used the sprint lane to finish third. The Highland Dancing Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2190 metres went the way of five year old Goodboytruscott/Truscott Photo gelding Loveyougoodboy for Muckleford trainer Chris Angove. Trotting faultlessly on this occasion after making several mistakes in recent outings, Loveyougoodboy starting from a 40 metre equal backmark with Im Demimondaine, was immediately sent forward by Josh Duggan to park outside the front line pacemaker Kingofthedesert. Taking care of the leader approaching the home turn with Im Demimondaine issuing a challenge, Loveyougoodboy prevailed by 3.9 metres in a rate of 2-05.4, with A Stylish Jewel (three back the markers) third. Sutton Grange trainer Ross Graham's improving Zooma/ImaBarbie Girl five year old gelding Brother Of Sonoko broke his maiden status at start number six, when successful in the Side Show Alley New Years Day Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2190 metres in a rate of 2-05.1. Given a lovely trip one/one from gate two for Daryl Douglas with the hot favourite Hachashaq leading from the pole, Brother Of Sonoko when eased three wide on the final bend, raced clear on straightening to record an easy 8.3 metre victory in advance of My Turn My Turn from last, with Redcavier third after following the winner throughout. Seven year old Grinfromeartoear/Hyclass Souix mare Paparazzi Snapshot recorded her 8th victory in 54 outings by taking the Chieftain Andy Brumby Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2190 metres. Starting from the 40 metre mark after taking a mares concession, Paparazzi Snapshot with Kerryn Manning in the sulky, wasn't bustled in the early stages, settling at the rear of the field as the polemarker Mygreekkalesa stepped to the front at barrier rise. Moving three wide in the last lap, Paparazzi Snapshot proved much too strong for Gluteus Major off a three wide trail last lap and Idle Suntime which followed the pair home. The mile rate 2-04.3. By Len Baker                                                            

Todd Woodward knows he could still be making a living from driving tractors both here in New Zealand and in Western Australia. But after doing exactly that for a couple of years, the 43-year-old was back in the winner’s circle on Sunday when winning the sixth event on the Rangiora grass. Outsider Full Of Options provided him with his first victory since the 2010-2011 season. The 4-year-old Presidential mare, who was having her first start, is trained by Woodward’s boss, Robbie Holmes at Leithfield Beach. Holmes drove stablemate Cyclone Kiwi into second, resulting in a $65.40 stable quinella. “It’s good to be back and having that winning feeling again. You can’t beat it. I guess you could say it’s a bit like I’ve got a second lease life. “I did drive a couple of winners for former Kiwi Graeme Bond when I was contracting in Australia though. I helped him out for three months. “From May to July on I was driving tractors in WA and working with various crops like wheat. I did that stint twice,” Amberley based Woodward said. Woodward left harness racing after driving for 20 years and training for 10 (1998-2008). He has won 226 ($1.6m) and 40 ($175,583) races respectively. “I got bored and I knew I could get a tractor contracting job the day after walked away from racing - and I did. It was time for a change. Things were going stale. “But I must admit it is good to be back amongst the horses again. Once it’s in your blood it’s there for good. It’s something I have always done,” Woodward said. “It’s good to know that I’ve always got tractor driving to fall back on though,” he added. The punters rated Full Of Options the seventh favourite of 12 in Sunday’s Country Feasts Catering 1950m maiden, and she surprised most of them by paying $24.70 to win. Woodward got her up in a tight finish to get the decision by three quarters of a length in 2:33 even (mile rate: 2:06.2). Final 800m and 400m sprints: 60.8 and 28 flat. “She’s coming to it nicely and the ways she’s going I think she can certainly win at least a couple more. Cyclone Kiwi is a pretty smart horse and she did well beating him. “I was rapt with her performance. It was a bit of a thrill alright,” Woodward said. Full Of Options, who is owned by her breeder Mike Bidwell, went into her first race-day assignment with a couple of trial placings. She is the second foal of four out of Live Or Die mare, Two options. She won three of her 32 starts for Holmes. Her first foal, and only other racehorse – Armbro Operative 6-year-old mare, Opting Options, won two of her 21 starts for Holmes. Woodward said Holmes was working a team of about 40 on the beach. He said he was enjoying his time with him. “He’s a quality horseman and I think we work well together. Between us we both have a little bit of experience to call on. “Robbie has also got a quality team. If I was to single out one it would be Smiling Star. He’s a son of Grinfromeartoear, won eight races, and is very smart,” Woodward said. by Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Hunter Valley trainer Shane Tritton is hoping Hawthornden can continue on his winning way this campaign after proving too strong in Friday night's Newcastle Cup. The son of Grinfromeartoear was having his first run since May and after trialling well in the lead-up to his return the stable was expecting a strong effort. "I've always had an opinion of him, I thought enough of the horse to give him a chance to qualify for the Chariots Of Fire by running him in the Hondo Grattan but I just lost him towards the end of his last preparation," Tritton said. "He went 1:56 at the trials at Newcastle and I was really happy with how he went, I've always wanted to give him a go from the standing start and I think he is capable of racing in a higher grade especially under those conditions." Tritton will now concentrate on Metropolitan racing with Hawthornden and expects him to handle the class rise. "He wasn't too far away last campaign at Menangle and I think he will be better this campaign, our dream would be to get him into a Hunter Cup, that might be shooting a bit high but We Will See how he handles everything in the next month or so." Meanwhile Tritton is working on travel arrangements for Mach Beauty and Suave Stuey Lombo after deciding on heading to Western Australia for the summer carnival. "I've spoken with Michael Radley from Gloucester Park, ideally we would like to arrive just before the Fremantle Cup and stay for the Western Australian Pacing Cup too, I'm really happy with how they are coming along." "Mach Beauty has had an easy time of it since the Miracle Mile but trialled on Wednesday, Lauren (Panella driver) returns from suspension soon too so everything is looking good for the stable." Former kiwi pacer Ardghal will be set for the Maitland Inter City Pace but is yet to race for Tritton on this side of the Tasman. The son of McArdle raced under Tritton's care in New Zealand after he was purchased by clients of the stable earlier in the year. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |  

This outstanding son of the great Artsplace has rightly earned himself a reputation as a champion racehorse who has gone on to be a champion sire. As a sire he has done it in both hemispheres which makes the achievement even more impressive. Racing as just a two and three year old, Grinfromeartoear was a star from the start. Raking in over $735,000 from just nine starts at two, he went on to win over a million at three and ended his career having won $1,760,000 and taking a time of 1:50:1 USA. He went to stud at four and quickly made a name for himself as a sire whose stock processed that great intangible, the will to win. His sons and daughters became renowned for lifting and winning when appearing to be beaten in the home stretch. His American stock have performed right from the start and to date have won over $46,000,000. His 487 winners with 14 in 1:50 include the incomparable Mister Big $4,143,000  who is still the biggest stake earning pacing sire on the planet, Not Enough $1,387,000, Transcending $861,000, Tiz To Dream $702,000 to name just a few of the others that have built his reputation. In Australia he has left 245 winners including the great import Mr Feelgood $3,366,000 who has proven you can win at the highest level in both hemispheres. Others such as Make Me Smile $517,000  Rocknrolla $287,000  Devilish Smile $277,000 and Grinjarra $248,000 have been worthy representatives in Australia. In New Zealand he has left 73 winners with the outstanding juvenile Smiling Shard $1,089,000 his best performer to date. Pure Power $294,000, Pass Them By $133,000, Smiling Star $105,000 and Charge Forward $104,000 have all raced in Free For All class in NZ in the last three years. All up he has left 805 winners worldwide for stakes in excess of $56,000,000 with over $10,000,000 of that earned in Australasia. One of his most lasting achievements is that of having left a millionaire in North America, Australia and New Zealand. He can truly call himself one of the all time greats - The sire who leaves them as tough as they come. JC This is a series of stallion reviews that Harnesslink are doing with a view to sheading some light on some of  the "forgotten"sires in Australasia. Elsu - Redemption awaits McArdle - The quiet achiever Santanna Blue Chip - On the up and up! Major In Art - Big and fast Mr Feelgood - Dual hemisphere champion Pay Me Christian - Blistering speed Monkey Bones - All class Tinted Cloud - Still going strong Real Desire - The real deal Washington VC - Continuing excellence

Trevor Henry, the leading reinsman at The Raceway at Western Fair District and the nation’s top dash-winning pilot of 2013, swept Monday’s Preferred events at the London half-miler. Fans that backed the Arthur, Ontario-based sulky sitter in the $10,000 Preferred 2 Trot were handsomely rewarded thanks to the 22-1 upset performance of Perfect Vacation. Henry was nowhere to be found in the early stages of the mile while Natural Forces was hounded through panels of :28.1, :59.1 and 1:29.3. Henry pulled the trigger three-wide around the final with his charge, however, and the gelding responded by sweeping to the front and driving away en route to the victory in 2:01.1. Sonny Vale was next best, with Amigo Loco taking home the show dough in the eight-horse affair. Race favourite Tornado Tim, who was shooting for a fourth consecutive win, rolled off stride when kicking off cover going into the final turn and finished seventh. Richard Moreau trains Perfect Vacation for owner Sean Hibbert of Corbyville, Ontario. The 10-year-old son of Dream Vacation-Perfect Aim notched his seventh win of the season and the 41st of his career. To date, he’s stashed away earnings of $449,009. In the $6,500 Preferred 3 for trotters it was CIS Buckeye coming up huge for Henry, who guided the gelding to a six-length score in 2:01. Henry marched the five-year-old son of Ilooklikemymom-LRs Peanut to the top from Post 3 and together they led the field through fractions of :29.1, 1:00.1 and 1:30.4 before using a :30.1 closing quarter to seal the deal. Four Twenty Seven was the distant runner-up, with third prize going to Boots N Hearts. Sent off as the 1-2 favourite, CIS Buckeye won for the 10th time this season and for the 24th time in his career. Keith Cullen trains the career winner of $120,900. The Preferred sweep was completed with Smokin Bear, who used a last-to-first move to capture the $6,800 Preferred 3 for pacers. The Wayne Preszcator pupil made a bold move in the backstretch and en route to posting the one-length triumph over Button Up in 1:57.2. East Meadow rounded out the top three finishers in the action-packed affair. Preszcator shares ownership on the grey gelding with partner John Kodric of Toronto, Ontario. Together they've watched the four-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear-Smokin Pistol rack up 15 wins and purse earnings in excess of $117,000. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – The Raceway at Western Fair District. Reprinted with permission from

A spur of the moment decision by part-time Pinjarra trainer Chris King to telephone Victorian Greg Stubbs almost four years ago, simply on a whim, seeking to lease veteran pacer Flamin Tact, has had far-reaching repercussions. They had never met, but Stubbs agreed to lease Flamin Tact and they thoroughly enjoyed their first association, with Flamin Tact winning eight races for King and running 16 minor placings for stakes of $113,565. "I didn't know Greg from a bar of soap, so it has been a great decision," said King. The liaison led to Stubbs sending Leda McNally to King early last year when Stubbs and trainer Tony Peacock were disappointed with the form of Leda McNally, who had managed just one win (at Cobram in January 2012) and three placings from 15 starts in Victoria and New South Wales for $7818 in prizemoney. There were no high hopes when Leda McNally arrived at King's stables. However, the mare, now a five-year-old, has exceeded all expectations and she hit the high spot of a Fabulous career when she outclassed her rivals in the $100,000 Make Smoking History Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night to boost her record to 44 starts for 17 wins and eight placings for earnings of $257,308. Her victory by two and a half lengths over the fast-finishing Famous Alchemist gave the 41-year-old King and 25-year-old reinsman Chris Voak their first success in a group 1 event. Now King is keenly looking forward to Leda McNally challenging the best mares in the country in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 2 next year. Stubbs, who travelled to Perth to watch Friday night's race, praised the efforts of King and his partner Barbra Gray, particularly for nursing the mare back to health after she had received serious leg and hoof injuries when she bolted in a paddock after taking fright during an electrical storm earlier this year. "We sent her over here a couple of years ago as a three-year-old filly who had won one race and now she has won well over $200,000," he said. "Tony Peacock and I bought her as a two-year-old with the intention of selling her. But she couldn't win enough races, so we sent her to Perth, and now the rest is history." Leda McNally, winner of the $40,000 Norms Daughter Classic the previous week, started from the No. 5 barrier on the front line on Friday night and was favourite at evens. Shannon Suvaljko sent the polemarker Loving You (8/1) straight to the front, but was happy to relinquish the lead when challenged strongly by Leda McNally, who burst to the front after only 250m. Voak then was able to get Leda McNally to relax and the mare strolled through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.3sec. and the next quarter in 29.3sec. before covering the next two quarters in 28.8sec. and 29.3sec. Leda McNally rated 1.57.6 over the 2130m journey and Voak produced a triumphant salute over the final 25m. Famous Alchemist (22/1) surged home from tenth at the bell to be second, with 12/1 chance Sensational Gabby, last in the middle stages, sustaining a strong burst to finish third, a head in front of 5/2 second fancy Bettor Cover Lover, who raced in the breeze over the final 1050m and fought on gamely. Voak said that he did not expect to find the lead so easily. "There were a lot of rumours going around earlier in the week that Loving You was going to lead from the pole," he said. "I had done a lot of track work for Tilley (Loving You's trainer Peter Tilbrook) a year or so ago and I knew deep down in my heart that he is not that sort of operator. He knows the class of his horse, so I think that the talk of Loving You holding the lead was just a bit of bluff." RED SALUTE SHINES AND GIVES OLIVIERI A TREBLE Noted frontrunner Red Salute made the most of the prized No. 1 barrier when he bounced back to top form and ended a losing sequence of nine with a bold frontrunning display to win the $25,000 The Kersley final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This completed a treble for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who had been successful earlier in the program with Imtheguy and Lord Coburn. It was also the first leg of a driving double for Chris Voak, who was successful in the following event with Leda McNally. Red Salute had started from the back line in four of his six starts since resuming from a spell and had drawn out wide in the other two starts. His prospects on Friday night soared after he drew the No. 1 barrier. He was a 5/1 chance and Voak sent him straight to the front and was able dawdle through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.2sec. before dashing over the next quarters in 29.5sec., 28.8sec. and 28.5sec. He went on to win at a 1.57.4 rate by a half-length from 27/1 chance Code Red, who sustained a powerful finishing burst from eighth in the middle stages. El Machine, favourite at 5/4, raced in the one-out, two-back position before starting a three-wide move with 1100m to travel. He fought on doggedly to be third, a half-length behind Code Red. "He's now had the ks (kilometres) in his legs and his two previous starts (for two thirds) were an improvement," Voak said. "He was probably found wanting over the final 50m at his previous start, but Ross has now got him back to somewhere where he needs to be. "He is going to improve, no problem, and can reach the potential that everyone involved with the horse thinks he can get to. His real ability lies in the 250m kick he's got." Red Salute, winner of the group 2 Binshaw Classic last February, is raced by his breeder Jeanine Diederich, Denise Trobe, Adrian Staltari and Tony Jones and has earned $122,189 from 12 wins and nine placings from 40 starts. By Life Sign, he is the fourth foal out of the New South Wales-bred mare Gold Stature, who had 74 starts for 14 wins, 28 placings and $61,562. LIVINGONTHEINTEREST LEVELS THE SCORE WITH HOKONUI BEN Lightly-raced six-year-old Livingontheinterest, beaten into fifth place behind Hokonui Ben last Friday week, turned the tables on his stablemate when he enjoyed a perfect passage, one-out and one-back, and sprinted home strongly to win by 4m from Hokonui Ben in the Quitline Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This levelled the score between the geldings, who are trained by Gary Hall sen. They have met 12 times, with each winning three times and each finishing ahead of the other three times in the other six events. Hokonui Ben, favourite at 2/1 on and driven by Clint Hall, bowled along in front, but was found wanting in the closing stages over the 2536m journey. Kim Prentice got Livingontheinterest, second favourite at 8/1, away smartly from barrier three and the gelding raced without cover for the first 300m before Shardons Rocket moved to the breeze. Prentice bided his time before bringing Livingontheinterest home with a well-timed burst, which saw the New Zealand-bred gelding hit the front 100m from the post. The final 400m was covered in a moderate 29.2sec. after the two previous quarters had whizzed by in 28.8sec. and 28.7sec. Shardons Rocket held on well to be third, with Dasher VC (12/1) running home solidly, three wide, from tenth at the bell. Livingontheinterest, a winner at seven of his 15 starts in New Zealand, won at first seven starts in WA and now his 20 starts in the State have produced 11 wins and two placings to take his earnings to $198,465. "He has been going good, but just hasn't had the right draw," Prentice said. "They ran really good time tonight and he had a beautiful sit just in behind them. He found the line really well. Last week (when fifth behind Hokonui Ben) he didn't pace as well as he did tonight. But Gary has put the polish on him during the week and he has come up trumps." NORTHERN ASSASSIN EARNS A START IN THE GOLDEN NUGGET Busselton trainer Peter Bell will have a runner in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship next Friday night after Northern Assassin set the pace and scored a narrow victory over Northview Punter in the Smoke Free Nugget Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Punters declared Northern Assassin a good thing after he had drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and the stallion was sent out hot favourite at 6/4 on. Matt White sent Northern Assassin straight to the front and after easy first quarters of the final mile in 31.4sec. and 30.7sec., he gave the opposition something to chase after a third quarter in 29.2sec. and a sizzling final 400m in 27.4sec. Northview Punter (13/2) moved to the breeze 650m after the start and got on terms with the pacemaker 450m from home. He fought on grandly and was beaten only by a metre. Erskine Range (8/1) sat behind the leader and fought on to be two lengths farther back in third place. Northern Assassin, making only his fourth appearance at Gloucester Park, rated 1.58.2 and took his record to 16 starts for six wins, six placings and $43,833 in stakes. He is the first foal out of the unraced Parsons Den mare Let It Rock and is related on the dam's side to former top-flight performer Buck the Odds (121 starts for 31 wins, 29 placings and $307,547). "It was a bit of a worry early, not knowing how much gate speed he had," said White. "But we were able to hold the top and he got it pretty easy early and he kicked home good. Pete's done a great job with him and I think he's got a bit of bottom to him. He keeps giving and he's a high cruising sort of horse." PUNTERS DISREGARD KHUN RATHA AFTER NARROW FIRST-UP DEFEAT Promising three-year-old Khun Ratha resumed after a spell at Harvey last Tuesday week and was a warm 6/4 favourite who set the pace and was beaten a nose in the final stride by Live Life Fast. However, punters abandoned him and he was a 24/1 outsider in the 1730m Thank You For Not Smoking Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Most punters pinned their faith in last-start winners and stablemates Black Mr Mach (evens) and Offtocullect (10/9). But Khun Ratha, trained at Capel by Andrew De Campo and driven by his son Aiden, enjoyed the perfect one-out, one-back trail before sprinting home on the rain-soaked track to burst to the front in the final 30m and beat the pacemaker Black Mr Mach by a half-length, with Modigliani (15/1) a fast0-finishing third. Offtocullect, who started from the outside barrier in the field of seven, raced greenly at the rear and did not threaten danger before finishing in fifth place. A fierce downpour flooded the track and Khun Ratha did well to sprint over the final 800m in 57.6sec. He rated 1.59.7 and boosted his earnings to $17,513 from two wins and two placings from six starts. Khun Ratha, bred by his owner Paul Poli, is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Calafia, who won at seven of her 21 WA starts and was retired after racing 43 times for eight wins and ten placings for $43,303 in prizemoney. JOHNS TARGETS THE TROTTERS CUP WITH Earl HARBOUR Waroona trainer-reinsman Nigel Johns is setting Earl Harbour for the $30,000 Trotters Cup in January after the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old scored a stylish win in the Breathe Easier Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night. After praising the gelding for having perfect manners, Johns said that Earl Harbour was on track to win more races in Western Australia. "He will be set for the Trotters Cup and if he lobs handy he's a chance in any race here," he said. Johns won the 2009 Trotters Cup with Compressor. Earl Harbour ended a losing sequence of 14 (including eight minor placings) when he started at 16/1 and enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before dashing to the front on the home turn and winning by just under two lengths from 61/1 chance Keepyaguardup, with a further 8m to 5/4 on favourite Prince Eddie. Owned by Christine Germain, tote manager at Pinjarra Paceway and a sister of Johns' partner Deb Woodley, Earl Harbour was a consistent performer in Victoria and now has had 94 starts for nine wins, 30 placings and $90,027 in prizemoney. Earl Harbour has impressed at his four WA starts which have produced a win and two placings. "He is by Canadian sire Earl, like his stablemate All Flair," Johns said. "And he has got good manners, which are a bit better than the trotters by Sundon, even though I love the trotters by Sundon because they're brilliant horses, but are a bit fizzy. "Tonight's race was set up for Earl Harbour. He lobbed handy and there was a fair bit of speed, and I was just sitting there. He always performed well in Victoria against the good trotters and I think he will go a fair way here. I didn't even pull the plugs." OHOKA COURAGE GIVES HARPER PLENTY OF REASON TO SMILE Young reinsman Kyle Harper seized the opportunity to drive Ohoka Courage for the first time when he brought the seven-year-old home with a powerful burst to score an easy victory in the Quit Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Harper was delighted when Forrestdale trainer Jarrad Humphries offered him the drive. He had taken special notice of the gelding at his previous start, at Northam last Tuesday week, when he surged past his pacer Springsteen to win a 2560m stand in fine style. "I have plenty of respect for Springsteen and I sat up and took notice of Ohoka Courage when he went past us at Northam," Harper said. "I was confident of winning tonight when the pace went on early. I was just sitting back and having a giggle. Ohoka Courage had plenty in reserve at the finish; he only does what he has to." Ohoka Courage started at 8/1 from barrier three on the back line in the 2130m event and raced in sixth position in the one-wide line while Herbies Dream set the early pace, with Captain Proud overracing in the breeze. Captain Proud pulled his way to the front 1300m from home and the second quarter of the final mile was covered in a slick 28.6sec. Mister Roberto, who raced in the one-out, one-back position, dashed to the front leaving the back straight in the final circuit while the 7/4 favourite Jay Bees Grin was badly blocked for a clear passage in the ruck. Harper timed Ohoka Courage's finishing burst to perfection and the gelding swept to the front in the final 100m to win convincingly at a 1.57.7 rate. Jay Bees Grin, who had been eased off the pegs by Colin Brown about 600m from home, got into a bad traffic jam and did not obtain a clear run until late --- when he rattled home to be a most unlucky third. Ohoka Courage has had 49 starts for 11 wins, 15 placings and stakes of $63,745. It was his third win from eight WA starts after winning four races in New Zealand and another four in Victoria. Ohoka Courage is a half-brother to Ohoka Dallas, who has earned $350,661 from 15 wins and 20 placings from 102 starts. IMTHEGUY RELISHES THE No. 1 BARRIER TO END LOSING RUN OF 11 Victorian-bred and Adelaide-owned pacer Imtheguy made the most of drawing the prized No. 1 barrier when Chris Lewis drove the five-year-old to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Make Smoking History Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Imtheguy, a heavily-supported 5/4 on favourite gave Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri the first leg of a treble and Lewis the first leg of a double when he dashed over the final 400m in 28.9sec. and held on to beat the 7/2 second favourite Heez Orl Black by a metre at a 1.56.6 rate. Imtheguy, owned by Mary Harding and Richard Noble, had put the writing on the wall with a very close second to Rakatup at his previous start, ended a losing sequence of 11 and looks capable of further city successes. Imtheguy won at four of his five starts in South Australia and at three of his nine appearances in Victoria before being sent to Western Australia where he has had 17 starts for two wins and five placings. He has earned $46,534 from nine wins and nine placings from 31 starts. He is out of the unraced Village Jasper mare Its All About Rose and is related on his dam's side to former star mare Jasmarilla, who had 213 starts in the 1980s for 50 wins, 68 placings and $503,000 in prizemoney. SANJAYA IS CLAIMED BEFORE LEADING AND WINNING There was plenty of activity before the Mick's Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when eight claims, all of $10,000, were lodged. Serpentine trainer-reinsman Chris Brew claimed Sanjaya, who started favourite at 6/4 on from the No. 1 barrier and set a brisk pace before winning by a length from stablemate This Time Dylan (7/2), with Marooned (11/2) finishing third after trailing the pacemaker throughout. Sanjaya, trained by Gary Hall sen., was driven aggressively by his son Clint and he gave his rivals little chance by speeding over the final four 400m sections of the final mile in 29.5sec., 28.9sec., 28.9sec. and 28.3sec. He rated 1.55 over the 1730m and took his record to 68 starts for 13 wins and 20 placings for stakes of $90,799. Sanjaya ended a losing sequence of seven and improved his WA record to 18 starts for three wins and four placings. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old won four times in New South Wales and another four times in Queensland before arriving in WA. Arnoux, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old trained by Hall sen., was claimed by Adam Jones of Treendale and there were six claims lodged for Marooned, a seven-year-old trained by Michael Brennan. The successful claimant was Gary Scott. LORD COBURN WINS EASILY AFTER AN EARLY SCARE Victorian-bred six-year-old Lord Coburn, the heavily-supported 6/4 on favourite, gave his backers a scare when he galloped for a couple of strides at the start of the Fresh Air Handicap, a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But Chris Lewis quickly got him into his pacing gait and after a spirited battle with the polemarker To Transcend, Lord Coburn forged to the front after 300m and gave a strong frontrunning display before winning by two lengths from outsider Anvils Big Punt, with a nose to To Transcend in third place. "I was happy once he got to the front," said Lewis. "We had done a bit of work, but I was still feeling confident. He finished the race off well." Lord Coburn, who is owned by a group of Mildura folk, Christopher Clohesy, Louise Tarrant, Richard and Daniel Tankard, William Robinson and Ian Watson, has had seven starts in WA for trainer Ross Olivieri for two wins and three placings. He has now earned $78,780 from 12 wins and 13 placings from 45 starts. By American stallion Grinfromeartoear, Lord Coburn is out of former outstanding New Zealand-bred mare Posh Jaccka, who had 132 starts for 29 wins and 43 placings for stakes of $331,155. STEWARDS SUSPEND VOAK FOR 11 DAYS Outstanding young reinsman Chris Voak has been suspended from driving for 11 days for causing interference in a race at Gloucester Park on Saturday night. He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing severe interference to Aldebaran Swannee at the winning post, just after the start of the European Prestige Handicap, a 2503m stand. He was driving Art In Your Face, who began speedily from the outside of the front line and burst to the front on the first turn before setting the pace and finishing second to Cometao. The stewards took into account Voak's guilty plea and his excellent driving record and they reduced a 19-day penalty to 11 days. Voak had driven in 910 races and had not been suspended since his previous suspension last January. Clint Hall started serving a 35-day suspension at midnight on Friday night. He was suspended for 21 days for his incorrect whip action when driving Famous Alchemist into second place behind Leda McNally in the $100,000 Mares Classic. This suspension was added to a 14-day penalty for an incorrect whip action when driving Waylade in a race at Bunbury the previous Saturday night. Brett Smith was suspended for 17 days for causing interference in the Kersley final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He drove Menelaus of Sparta, who checked The Feather Foot soon after the start. Nathan Turvey was suspended on Friday night for ten days for causing interference with Sonic Classic in the Quit Pathway Pace. Luke Edwards received a 16-day suspension for causing interference in a race at Northam last Tuesday and Stuart McDonald was suspended for four weeks for an unacceptable drive behind Celtic Crusader in a race at Narrogin on November 21. Celtic Crusader finished second to Pure Empathy. He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing severe interference to Sachin Arden (Shannon Suvaljko) at the winning post, just after the start of the European Prestige Handicap, a 2503m stand. He was driving Art In Your Face, who began speedily from the outside of the front line and burst to the front on the first turn before setting the pace and finishing second to Cometao. by Ken Casellas  

Harnesslink recently caught up with Victorian harness racing trainer-driver Steve Cleave to see how things had been progressing for him since his story of tragedy, dedication, passion, and, eventually, triumph, was published. But, before we get to that, if you are yet to read his truly tragic yet inspiring story, here it is. From Tragedy To Triumph - By Jason Bonnington After six long years and more than a handful of tears, this was to be the moment of quiet redemption. Invited to compete in Victoria’s young drivers’ championship at the state’s former home of harness racing, Moonee Valley, preternaturally talented teenage reinsman Stephen Cleave had made it. Cleave left school at the tender age of 14 by virtue of a complete cognisance of his need to work with horses. This desire was kindled and cultivated in those formative years by following his uncle and fellow horseman, Ron Campbell like an obedient dog whenever time would permit. Born to a father in Max, who was far from bereft of the capacity for love, but iron fisted at best in pursuit of the best for his sons, Cleave knew from the moment he pursued his passion the two men would be at loggerheads. Harness racing was “a bum sport” and the young man was more than subtly encouraged to “get out of it and do something decent with his life”. Yet at the tender age of just 19 he had already achieved what Max had feared impossible and won his implicit support in the process. Over the course of little more than half a decade working for some of the industry’s most respected names including Tony Peacock and John and Jack Caldow, the kid who “only ever wanted to be a trotting driver”, had forged and fortified a reputation as a budding reinsman of rare quality and a rising star of the standardbred world. But on the night preceding the piece de resistance of Cleave’s emerging career in the cart, where he would perform to a captive audience of family, friends and the industry he had embraced, the phone call came. AND THINGS WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME “It was on the Friday night that the accident happened, at about 4:30pm, and I got the call at about seven o’clock that night,” Cleave explained. On the way from Bendigo to the city, to see their son in his shining moment of glory, Max, along with Stephen’s mother Joy, had been killed. And in a decision that speaks to a passion for his profession that few of us will ever enjoy or understand, the 19-year-old opted to drive the following night. “I was supposed to go to Benalla to drive a horse in their day meeting on Saturday before going to Moonee Valley that night to drive in the final of the young drivers championship,” Cleave revealed. “My girlfriend at the time, her father said to me, ‘Look, don’t go to Benalla, I’ll go and drive that horse for you, you just concentrate on Moonee Valley,’ and I did”. After approaching Stewards to inform them of the tragedy and pleading for their support in allowing him to take his place in the sulky, all that was left was to act on the bravest instinct of his fledgling life. “It was definitely the toughest drive of my life, but mentally, as hard as it was, I felt it was something I needed to do,” Cleave said. “It was very personal, the decision to drive that night. I never had a problem with my parents, but dad just wanted the best for his kids and he spent a long time resisting my decision to follow my heart into the sport. “I’d been steadfast since I was 14 years old that this is all I wanted to do with my life and we had plenty of blues over it, but at the time that he died, he was my he was my biggest supporter. “Once he knew I wasn’t going to change my mind he got right behind me, 110 percent, so I knew he’d come to terms with it. That was why I had to keep going I suppose. “THIS WAS WHAT I HAD SET OUT TO DO WITH MY LIFE…I COULDN’T STOP NOW.” After finishing the race in a position neither him nor anyone else at the track that night would remember, the grim, sombre, raw realisation of what had happened finally dawned upon him. And quietly, inwardly and without fanfare, a road to redemption was paved. “The hardest part was coming back after the race and all my family were standing above the tunnel that you go back through leaving the track,” the Junortoun native recalled “As soon as I spotted them, that was the end of it. While I was on the track I could put everything behind me and just focus on the job at hand but as soon as I came back and saw them all standing there I just fell to pieces. It’s a life defining moment isn’t it? It either makes you or it breaks you.” Fortunately, having been blessed with what most would consider an incredible capacity for humility, prescience and positivity, Cleave was bowed but never for a minute close to breaking. Unlike so many in a similar situation, his dilemma was not whether to go on with the life that he had chosen, to persevere in hunting his harness racing dreams, but just how he would make that next crucial step. Adrift, afraid and in many ways alone, Cleave needed a hero, someone willing to support and encourage a young man with more to offer than most, in his pursuit to live a productive and fulfilling life. In Ken and Pat Ward he found two, and a relationship traversing the wildly disparate territory of family, friendship, business and passion was born. “I met the Wards soon after the accident through my friendship with David Miles,” Cleave remembered. “Us junior drivers used to call in there a lot. It was a bit like drop-in house on the way home from the trots. “I don’t know what it was between us, but there was just a special connection and before I knew it I was completely enveloped and still am to this day. “The Wards are what I would call my adopted family. Not adopted as in legally, but basically for the past 14 years, Pat and Ken and their family have taken me in as one of their own. “They treat me like a son, but they’re not like a mum and dad to me, if that makes sense. They offer unconditional support and we’re just best friends. “We own all the horses together and basically we’ve just bought 70-acres that we’re setting up as a training establishment this very minute.” That still to be named Romsey property – the brainchild of two men, 10 years and more than a few quiet Sunday beers – has been a pipe dream, a reverie, a fireplace fantasy for two men with a boundless love of horses and a passion for harness racing. And now that its sale nears completion – more than a year since an offer was first tendered – the new proprietor can barley disguise his delight. “We put a deposit on this block back in May of last year,” Cleave said. “It took us 12 months to get through all our permits with the council, which finally got approved in August (2010) and we’re just finishing up the final bits of paperwork now.” “It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. The Wards and I have had more conversations about our hopes for what we call, ‘Cleave Racing’ than I can possibly recall and it’s just surreal to think that it’s actually going ahead. “We’re on the cusp of setting up what we’re hoping will be a life-changing scenario, so it’s bloody exciting – of course it is.” But both Cleave and the Wards know that the faith to fashion their own horse heaven in the scenic surrounds of the Macedon ranges was nurtured not by blind hope, but the racetrack deeds of one of Victoria’s finest five-year-olds; Indigo Bay. “HE’S DEFINITELY THE BEST HORSE I’VE EVER TRAINED,” CLEAVE ENTHUSED. “We – that is Cleave Racing –leased him for a start, then we got an option to buy and he’s been all ours since he was a late season three-year-old.” “I remember when we first saw him on the videos, he looked like he had ability, but he always galloped so you didn’t really know what you were dealing with. “Then, the first start we gave him at Kilmore he just bolted in the run. I’ve never in all my life had one that I couldn’t hold in the run Until he came along, but when I let him go, he whipped around the field at a million miles an hour. “He wilted on the run as you’d expect, but it was then I knew that this horse had his fair share of speed and we were going to have a fair bit of fun.” Twelve wins, $92,768, a 1.55.1 Track Record (still stands) and six Group 1 finals later, and Indigo Bay’s stunning success has proven to be the catalyst for the greatest adventure of Cleave’s life. Now the quietest of his trinity of talented pacers, the sit-sprinting son of Presidential Ball will be the headline act of Cleave and Ward’s new establishment, with a crack at some of the rich Country Cups in his immediate future following an unlucky run in last month’s Melton Plate. Accompanying him during those germinal days at Romsey will be classy four-year-old mare Maximum Joy – a horse so promising in its freshman preparation, Cleave named her in honour of his late parents – and a Faye McEwen bred Grinfromeartoear baby with plenty of wraps called Cheshire Cat. But with the right slice of serendipity and support, Cleave is hoping his team will soon number closer to a dozen. “We’re looking at 10 to 14 horses in the formative stages at the moment,” the conditioner said. “I want to keep it small enough that everything is hands-on. Hands-on work is the best work you can do. I want to be with the horses 24/7. “It’s the only way I reckon. I remember Indigo Bay put in a lame step out in the paddock one day and I picked it up out of the corner of my eye, simply because I know him back to-front. Those little things are the difference between getting the best out of your horses or not. “It’s that attention to detail we’ll be relying on to ensure this place is a success.” Having overcome the greatest adversity a young man can face with a wisdom and maturity he had no right to harbour, it’s impossible not to believe that the disarmingly down to earth and gifted horseman will make Romsey work. Perhaps no longer driven by the tragedy that catapulted him from carefree kid to philosophical young man, but always informed by it, Cleave is ready to fulfil the destiny he surrendered to so many years ago. “I think about my parents every day of my life mate. When something like that happens to you it puts you on your arse pretty quick and it makes you grow up even quicker. “But I’ve had so much support from the Wards – even their daughters are like sisters to me – and if you’d told me at 15 that I’d have my own training centre at 34, I wouldn’t have slept in between. “I’m always someone who’s looking forward and there’s so much on the horizon now I just want to get to work and get the winners and make my name. “I love being the underdog, but now it’s time to show the world what we can really do.”   ---------------------------------------------------------------- ENDS------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ *A few years on and Stephen Cleave has now been training out of his Chitin sanctuary since the first of January 2012. “We have completed one full season at the new property and I am very pleased with the results,” said Cleave. “We may not have trained that many winners last season but our strike-rate was very good,” he explained. “In fact I think close on 70% of our starters picked up a cheque. “I am absolutely loving life at the new place and so are the horses, it really is an equine paradise,” he enthused. That equine paradise Cleave refers to is made up of 70 acres of lush green pasture, (4m x 12m), architecturally designed boxes, 10 x 1 acre paddocks, 15m x 15m Day yards & 30m x 30m Day yards, and a 1000 metre uphill sand track. “700 metres of the track is uphill, which really makes them work hard and is great for toughening them up,” explains Cleave. Cleave is currently working six horses but is looking to add to that number, while Ken Ward is currently doing two himself. “I’d like to get up to 10-12 horses, but no more than that as I like to pay special attention to every one of my horses. “Each horse is an individual and I like to train them as one,” says Cleave. “If I have any more than a dozen in work I don’t think that would be manageable,” he added. Cleave said that he doesn’t currently have a stable star but, like everyone, he is on the lookout for one. “I don’t have the most talented team at the moment, but I am hoping someone will walk in off the street and change that for me,” he laughed. “Indigo Bay has been retired through injury which is a real shame as he probably still had his best seasons ahead of him. He has however, earned himself a permanent spot on the farm and now spends his days keeping Cleave’s younger stock in their place. “He is my little champion,” said Cleave. “He may not be one to other people, but he really put me on the map as a trainer and got me into six Group One races, so I will be forever grateful for that.” Although the banner reads “Cleave Racing” Steve says he is in no way, shape, or form, a one man band. “It is a real family effort,” insists Cleave. “Ken & Pat Ward, their daughter Carissa, her partner Stuart, and myself all live on the farm together and everyone one of us plays a big part in Cleave Racing.” “Ken and Pat’s other daughter Hailey and her husband Adrian, who live down the road in Romsey, also come to help out on the weekends. My family are not just my biggest supporters but my biggest help as well. I certainly couldn’t do this without them,” he added. Cleave Racing currently has a great band of owners but are on the hunt for more. “All of our Owners are welcome to, and do, come out to see their horses anytime they like, whether it’s to watch their horse work or just to come out to say hello. "We want our owners to enjoy all the thrills in Harness Racing, from the day to day stuff through to the excitement of Race Day and the Joy of winning - Not just seeing their horse at the racetrack. “Horses are an emotional investment and we want all of our owners to enjoy every little bit of it,” he concluded. To view pictures of Cleave Racing’s new property or to get in touch with Steve, visit By Mitchell Robertson

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