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David Moran’s confident his stable star can keep taking punches and still be standing when it comes time to put the polish on a Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup win. The trainer-driver of race favourite Lochinvar Art will have to overcome a five-horse front from Craig Cross’s powerful New South Wales stable if he’s to hold aloft the Group 1 crown tonight, a challenge he welcomes. “It’s great to be in the Vic Cup, but to also have the favourite,” Moran said. “Hopefully we can fly the flag for Victoria.” Lochinvar Art, who in January smashed the Tabcorp Park Melton track record in running 1:48.6, will start from gate four, with a barrier advantage over his lead rivals but vulnerable to attacks from all sides. All of Cross’s five entrants are drawn on the front row, with lightly raced speed machine Balraj to start from gate one, reigning champion Bling It On gate three and then Alta Orlando (gate five), Cash N Flow (gate six) and A. G. Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile champ King Of Swing (gate seven) on Lochinvar Art’s outside. “I think the biggest concern for me is to hold King Of Swing wide and Cash N Flow. Once I get them wide I can make my own mind up,” Moran said. “Cash N Flow is the main concern, he’s one of the fastest off the gate, but I’m still reasonably confident. “If they work (Cash N Flow) off the gate, more than likely he can’t win and it might put Balraj three pegs. And if I’m outside Cash N Flow there will be no breeze for King Of Swing. If they want to park me with Balraj, that’s fine, (Lochinvar Art) loves a dog fight.” It’s a long list of what ifs and gives an insight into the split-second decisions Moran will have to make in the heat of the moment tonight, as well as the unique chess-like movements that make the trots a riveting sport. While gaining the early lead is prized, the harder the front runners go the more they open the gate for the swooping second line. “It’s going to be a great race, there is so much speed off the front row, the back row will have horses charging to get into it. There’s not a bad draw,” Moran said. “I am really happy with (Lochinvar Art). If we can find the top easy enough and handle the mid-race pressure, and I don’t imagine there will be a heap, then he will certainly be hard to beat.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Every runner and every moment gets considered as Jason Bonnington and Jack Heverin deliver a Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup deep dive. Key reinsmen David Moran and Anthony Butt join the show as we get ready for tomorrow night's classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Tune in below.  Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria’s Victoria Cup is one of the great races on the harness racing calendar, not only in Victoria, but all over Australia. Champions by the score have competed in the race – some have won, some have lost, with owners and trainers involved in the sport aiming at this prestigious race each season. Tomorrow will be the forty sixth running of the race and it’s interesting to reflect on how it began. Harness fanatic Ron Meuleman who for years wrote a trotting column in the Footscray Mail and the Australian Trotting Register and was a regular at every Showgrounds meeting, worked for Rothmans Of Pall Mall, a tobacco company based in Footscray close to his home and on his suggestion approached management with the idea of running a feature pacing race at the Melbourne Showgrounds to promote their product as at the time the only feature of note was the A.G. Hunter Cup. After consultation with both Rothmans Management and the then Trotting Control Board, the Victoria Cup was born to be known as the Winfield Cup as this was a new brand of cigarettes released by the company. For the first time, the Winfield Cup was programmed in 1974, the victor being Kings Mead, a 5Y0 Meadow Lawn-Queens Crown gelding trained by former South Australian junior hockey state player Trevor Spry based at Kilmore who had switched from being a professional punter and pop star to a successful owner in the sport. Kings Mead had been purchased by Spry from an ex-Kiwi trainer Russ Fiddler who lived in Kilmore for Templetowe builders Edo and Ritto Bettiol. Driven by Bill Le Sueur, Kings Mead led throughout over the 2538 metre journey from the pole to defeat Just Too Good and King Frost in a mile rate of 2-08.7. The field included Adios Victor, Nevada Smoke and Royal Gaze. A who’s who of Australasia’s greatest horses were to contest the race in future years with winners such as Paleface Adios, Welcome Advice, Koala King, Popular Alm, Preux Chevalier, Bag Limit, Sinbad Bay, Franco Ice, Master Musician, Golden Reign, Chokin, Holmes DG, Shakamaker, Sokyola, Blacks A Fake, Smoken Up, Lennytheshark and Young Rufus just to name a few. The race was switched to a mobile start in 1976 which saw the Laurie Moulds (NSW) trained Don’t Retreat victorious. One of the biggest plunges landed in the race came in 1990 when Queenslander Sovereign Cloud (Brad Connelly) sensationally backed in from as much as 50/1 to around 12/1 saluted in a rate of 1-58.9, accounting for Thorate and Reba Lord, while Bag Limit did similar in 1988 to win for Bob and Vin Knight, defeating Luxury Liner and Rufus Young Blood in 1-58.5 in a race full of controversy. Bag Limit had won the race the previous year. The Rothmans sponsorship was to end in 1989 and the sponsorship name has changed numerous times since. This Saturday, another pacer will etch his or her name into the record books by winning the time honoured Victoria Cup - bring it on!   Len Baker

Geoff Lucas is preparing to farewell the new "King of Mildura" this evening but is also looking forward to welcoming back a familiar face into his Gol Gol North stables. The hobby trainer has prepared the rejuvenated Bernie Winkle for 10 wins during a 12-start stint in the Mildura region and will look to cap off the stay with success in the Park Douglas Printing Pace (1790m) tonight. Lucas was trusted with Bernie Winkle by owner Eric Anderson back in April and the gelding will now head to Julie Douglas, who trains a team in Strathfieldsaye. While Lucas has fallen in love with the seven-year-old, his heart will be shared tonight with Rocknroll Eyes - a horse he owns and previously trained who'll also contest race six. "I said this would be the first time in my life that I've actually barracked for the horse that I'm not training," Lucas said with a laugh. "But I don't know if I would because I love both those horses, so I really don't know." While Lucas will return home without Bernie Winkle in his float, he will get back Rocknroll Eyes, who has been trained by the Douglas' since May 2019. During that time, he has won eight races and taken his career prizemoney to in excess of $150,000. Bernie Winkle's regular driver, Shane Smith has, been replaced by Daryl Douglas this evening, but will take the reins of Rocknroll Eyes for the second time in his career. "It's probably more made for Bernie, because Rocknroll Eyes is tough and you've got to keep the pressure on and really the only way to beat Bernie is to walk up front," Lucas said. "I've got no doubt the moment he gets an opportunity Shane will go around to the death, but all that really does is probably make it for Bernie. I'm not a punter, but if I was punting I'd back Bernie." While he might be disappointed to lose the drive on Bernie Winkle, Lucas said Smith would become the regular partner of Rocknroll Eyes in the future. Ozzie Battler has been with Lucas for his past three runs and will tonight race in the Tasco Petroleum Pace (2190m) before joining Bernie Winkle back at the Douglas yard. This evening will be the first Mildura meeting since the removal of borders that limited participants to region-based racing, which was one of the measures introduced to combat COVID-19.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Team Rishi are daring to dream after a captivating TAB Smoken Up Sprint win removed the ceiling of what’s possible for their six-year-old gelding. The last start Group 2 win has not only booked a place in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, but was confirmation Rishi had overcome battles that had plagued him and he was poised to put his best foot forward. Owner John Hawkes told SENTrack this morning Rishi’s “had a lot of problems”, but he had “gradually, gradually coming good”, which had built confidence in trainer Lance Justice. “Last Tuesday (Lance) told me, 'John, I’m putting the work in him now, he’s run three (minutes) two (seconds) for a mile-and-a-half on my track’. (Lance) said ‘that’s Smoken Up’s times’. He said he’s absolutely flying. “He said ‘now I’ve got to put it on, he’s running against the good boys, I’m not going to look after him, I’m going to treat him like he should be trained and training him harder’.” And it all fell into place last Saturday night when, with Ride High hustling up front, Rishi’s reinsman Mick Bellman finally got the perfect platform to show the gelding in full flight. “All of a sudden he started to show some good form, but we’ve never had the races run to suit,” Hawke said. “He wants them to go likes bats out of hell and then he can come home, but if something pulls out in front of him and takes his run, he takes too long to get going. He’s like a big train, a big horse, he builds up and once he builds up he can run quick times.” As he outlined on SENTrack, the triple-figure odds proved a big windfall for Hawke and his friends and coffee shop cohorts who took the tip, but there’s an even bigger prize on the line in Saturday’s $300,000 feature. Rishi’s drawn gate nine, well placed one off the fence behind a lightning front line. “If they do go hard and he doesn’t get checked or anything like that he will be coming home.” That’s certainly Bellman hopes. The reinsman joined Trots Talk on Wednesday and said they had “done well with the barrier draw, I’d rather be there than the front line, so far so good, as long as the rest falls into place we’ll be happy”. “We don’t have to be looking for a position or vying for a position, we just have to follow through and hope we lob a good position," Bellman said. “We have probably got a few more options than a few of the fancied runners on the front line, so we can be a sleeping giant again hopefully.” Remarkably, Saturday night will be only Bellman’s second drive on Rishi, who's quickly made an impression. “He just felt so strong throughout the whole trip. Travelled on the bridle really nicely and when I asked him he let down, he gave me everything he had and it was just a sensational feeling.  “I was pretty excited just to get a drive in the Smoken Up Sprint, nevermind even dream of getting a drive in the Victoria Cup, it’s been a real surreal feeling.” And Team Rishi are not done yet. “We’ve got our fingers crossed,” Hawke said. “I’m believing in Lance and I think that, what else can you do but dream. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL SENTRACK INTERVIEW:   HRV - Michael Howard

The unknowns are many on the doorstep of Saturday night's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, but one thing reinsman Anthony Butt's sure about is it's going to be a "heck of a first 400 metres". The champion reinsman has picked up the catch drive on King Of Swing after Luke McCarthy was unable to get clearance to border hop, with John Caldow securing the steer on pole marker Balraj, Kate Gath assigned to Bling It On and Josh Aiken on Cash N Flow. Butt joined Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden on SENTrack's Talking Trots On Track this morning and said it was certain to be very willing early. "I think Balraj will have to try and hold his spot for one, he gets out pretty quick, but it is harder when you are drawn the inside - the outside ones get a bit of a way on," Butt said. "Lochinvar Art, obviously, will be coming out trying to hold the ones outside him, but there's a lot of speed from five and six, Alta Orlando (and) Cash N Flow. "I'm hoping they get across Lochinvar Art early and I can slide across with them, but it will be very interesting and I think it will be a heck of a first 400 metres anyway." A Victoria Cup is one of the few trophies absent from Butt's cabinet, but getting the steer on the multiple Grand Circuit race winner, who's a $6 chance with, gives him a chance to change that. "(King Of Swing's) got the points on the board, he's a Hunter Cup winner, Miracle Mile winner. You can arguably say he's the best horse in Australasia at the moment. He's been there and done that in the big races. The rest have got to beat him really. "The draw's not going to make it easy, but he's a great horse and he's been racing really well the last few weeks." Butt also spoke about his Saturday night drivers on Tough Monarch in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint and the chances of Wolf Stride and Elite Stride. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE SENTRACK INTERVIEW   HRV - Michael Howard

Balraj is the most likely raider to spoil the locals party and claim the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, says Luke McCarthy in the wake of today's game-changing draw. The reinsman joined SENTrack this morning and declared the polemarker the best chance of his and Craig Cross's five runners, who all drew on the front row. Asked by Talking Trots on Track host Jason Bonnington who was his best chance, McCarthy replied "from the draw, Balraj, no doubt, his form's super". "We've all seen how good he is off the speed," McCarthy said. "I was surprised that he beat King Of Swing that last start, they got home in 52.6, I think his own (last) quarter was 25.2. They just can't go any quicker than that. "He can do the work, has got speed, he's got the draw, he's going to probably be behind the leader. I'd say on paper he looks the best chance." McCarthy said the gate one draw would enable Balraj to ping out and then decide which heavyweight to hand up too. "He can stride out and hold the lead and I'd presume he'd only want to sit on Lochinvar Art or King Of Swing," he said. "They would be the two horses who would hold the front. "He's got the draw, he's entitled to gas out and sit on one of the favoured runners. I was hoping King drew better than (Lochinvar Art), but he looks to have that advantage, he looks like he will probably be able to work to the lead." Lochinvar Art will start from gate four in a Cross-McCarthy sandwich, with Balraj and reigning champ Bling It On (gate three) on his inside and Alta Orlando, Cash N Flow and King Of Swing on his outside. McCarthy said he would "try and work out tonight" who would drive each of the Cross runners, with much hinging on whether he could get clearance to travel to Victoria and then return to New South Wales without having to quarantine. He said it was "looking pretty good" and "hopefully it gets the go ahead this week". If he gets the all clear, he would likely partner King Of Swing, and said "Johnny Caldow will definitely drive one, I presume he will drive Cash N Flow, because he has driven him before". "Anythony Butt's going to drive one, and we'll just work out which one Ants drives depending on (whether) I can come or not. And then it will flow on through the others over the next day. "We'll try and work that out tonight just to let the public now as soon as we can." HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW OF LUKE MCCARTHY ON SENTRACK:   HRV - Michael Howard

Outstanding trotting mares Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth looked to have grabbed a stranglehold on the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Sprint, but the threats are many in the Group 1 $50,000 classic. Sharing Saturday night's Tabcorp Park card with the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, the field for the sprint was drawn on Sky Racing 1 this morning when Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth drew gates two and four, separated by Matt Craven's three-year-old filly Pink Galahs. With only the emergency, Cruisin Around, drawn inside them, the fast-starting mares are certain to be at the heads of affairs, but they won't have it all on their terms. Alison and Chris Alford's brilliant sit-sprinter Wobelee has drawn gate eight and will likely start on Dance Craze's back, while Andy Gath's star pair McLovin and Tornado Valley were disadvantaged at the draw but look likely to pour on the pressure. McLovin drew outside the front row and is a beast in the breeze, while Tornado Valley will start from gate 10, outside Rickie Alchin's talented New South Wales entrant Tough Monarch. Robbie Royal (gate five) and Great Southern Star winner Sparkling Success (gate six) complete the outstanding 10-horse field. Dance Craze was enlisted a $2 favourite post-draw with the TAB, with Red Hot Tooth $3.20 and Wobelee, Tough Monarch and Tornada Valley all $9. Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint field: 1: Cruisin Around (emg) 2: Dance Craze 3: Pink Galahs 4: Red Hot Tooth 5: Robbie Royale 6: Sparkling Success 7: McLovin ----- 8: Wobelee 9: Tough Monarch 10: Tornado Valley 11: Sundons Courage   HRV - Michael Howard

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) can reveal the runners for the $300,00 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. The barrier draw for the race will take place live on Sky Racing 1 tomorrow morning from 9.30am, hosted by Jason Bonnington and Brittany Graham. This year’s runners in alphabetical order are as follows: ALTA ORLANDO NZ BALRAJ NZ BLING IT ON CASH N FLOW NZ CODE BAILEY NZ CODE BLACK NZ CRUZ BROMAC NZ HURRICANE HARLEY KING OF SWING NZ LOCHINVAR ART RISHI NZ TAM MAJOR MAJOR TIMES (1st Em) The barrier draw for the Group 1 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters will also be conducted tomorrow morning. The field comprises of the following trotters: DANCE CRAZE MCLOVIN NZ PINK GALAHS RED HOT TOOTH ROBBIE ROYALE NZ SPARKLING SUCCESS SUNDONS COURAGE TORNADO VALLEY NZ TOUGH MONARCH WOBELEE CRUISIN AROUND (1st Em)   Media enquiries: Harness Racing Victoria

Ride High has been scratched from Saturday's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup after suffering a suspensory injury in his shock loss in the TAB Smoken Up Sprint. SENTrack's Jason Bonnington reported on Twitter that the star five-year-old would miss the $300,000 feature, for which he had been a $3.50 favourite in's most recent market despite having his winning streak stopped at 11. At 3.40pm Bonnington, who had been in touch with the camp of trainer Clayton Tonkin, revealed: And then followed up with news that "Ride High's suspensory injury (was) not as bad as (his) previous one", which had sidelined him for more than 12 months. "No swelling involved, only a small lesion," he reported. "He will begin six weeks of rehab now and then be re-scanned." The outcome will be a major shake up of Saturday's Victoria Cup, with the barriers to be drawn live on Sky Racing 2 at 9.30am tomorrow.   Harness Racing Victoria

The fanfare as Courage Under Fire made his way to the track in January 2000 at Moonee Valley for a heat of the Inter Dominion was like nothing else in recent time at that time. The “Mighty Mouse”, having won 24 straight races to kick-start his career. He was seemingly perfection, surrounded by his human entourage as the powerful pint-sized pacer arrogantly strode on to the big stage. If a racehorse was ever unconquerable, this seemed that. Enter Kyema Kid. No slouch, no Courage Under Fire either, but courage of a different nature that night. Striding by the champ in front of a huge crowd. We’d all just survived “Y2K”. But as Dan Mielicki famously declared, “The world must be ending!”   Fast-forward 20 years. Last night at Tabcorp Park Melton all eyes were on the TAB Smoken Up Sprint. Not just harness fans, but newbies from all codes, all sports, wanting to “find out more about this Ride High”. It propelled the Ride High discussion to No.14 on the Melbourne Twitter trends map during a heightened AFL finals period. No mean feat. The drama began as the horses were in the Parade Ring before the Smoken Up Sprint. Several lights unexpectedly went out along the front straight, resulting in a lengthy delay and an electrical technician summoned to explore the situation. Ride High and his rivals went back to the stables.  The race was rescheduled. The horses were then back in the parade ring, but the lighting issue rose again, and this time required a complete shutdown of the system to keep the remainder of the night on track. A further delay ensued. Third time lucky, and with the lights back in action, the horses completed their preliminary warm-ups and Ride High was sent out a $1.10 favourite. Unbackable and seemingly unbeatable. The Clayton Tonkin-trained pacing powerhouse was forced to motor hard mid-race to overcome his extreme back-row draw, eventually getting to the chair. And when he glided by the race leader Cruz approaching the home corner it appeared a case of ‘how far?’ as predicted by most punters. Normalcy had returned after a peculiar night. Or so it seemed. For as quickly as Ride High hit full tilt, he appeared to tire. The calvary arrived, sprinted past the favourite, and Rishi at odds of $120 produced a famous victory in the race named in honour of his trainer Lance Justice’s best-ever pacer, Smoken Up. And as was the case 20 years prior, Mielicki delivered a line sure to become almost as famous: “The lights have gone out in a different way – this is a massive upset!” All honours to popular Ararat reinsman Michael Bellman, who drove Rishi, Justice, and the hard-working technical crew at Tabcorp Park Melton for ensuring the race eventually went ahead in trying circumstances. To the victor goes the spoils.  The quaddie paid over $25,000. I wonder if Rishi’s owner, long-time industry supporter, John Hawke, had a live ticket. Most punters were flabbergasted. And that’s racing. Now, the next 24-48 hours will be as intriguing as last night and as next Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, because fans will be glued to the channels to find out how Ride High pulled up and whether the superstar will take his place in the $300,000 Grand Circuit classic at Melton next Saturday night. Will we have to wait longer after all for the long-awaited and much hyped clash between Ride High and Lochinvar Art? Perhaps we’ll have to turn to the 2021 TAB Summer of Glory for that score to finally be settled? What is certain is that we’ll learn a fair bit more today/tomorrow, then on Tuesday morning when the barriers are drawn for the Vic Cup. And we’ll learn a stack more next Saturday night. And it’ll be a magnificent show. But the biggest learnings of all may come in February 2020, because if “the clash” doesn’t occur beforehand, the A.G. Hunter Cup would surely become the most anticipated in modern history.   HRV - Cody Winnell

It was the fairytale result that filled hearts and broke others as Rishi produced an extraordinary last to first victory to end fan favourite Ride High’s winning streak at 11. Trainer Lance Justice’s hot and cold pacer put in one of his best performance in a race that would mean the world to the legendary trainer – the TAB Smoken Up Sprint, winning by a neck. The shock result, in which Ride High tired and finished fifth after a blistering middle section, only added to the drama on an eventful night at Tabcorp Park Melton, when the headline race was delayed twice due to “lighting issues”. For reinsman Mick Bellman it was all worth the wait. “It’s just fantastic,” he told Trots Vision. “It’s just such a surreal feeling to, ‘A’ just get a drive against the best we have here in the state, and then to conquer them it feels like you have climbed Everest. “Can’t thank everyone enough, Lance, everyone for the opportunity.” The race finally got underway at 8.44pm, a tick over an hour after the scheduled start time and Bellman said that presented challenges for trainer, driver and horse. “I think the general consensus was that it wasn’t going to go ahead and we were just hoping and praying that they could get it to (run),” he said. “All credit to everyone behind the scenes, they’ve done a great job to make the race even happen. “I stood with Rishi and patted him a fair while when we come back. He was quivering through the flanks and everything. It’s the internal pressure that you don’t see. Some people handle pressure different to others and I’m sure horses are the same. “For him to come out, have the cart off, go out and come back, it can be unsettling. Just so thankful that it did go ahead and the best horse might have got beat, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.” From gate nine Bellman settled Rishi in the running line, initially four-back until Ride High took off at the top of the straight with just over a lap to go. Before they’d reached the start-finish line reinswoman Kate Gath had possied Ride High in the breeze, outside leader Cruz, and everything appear as expected. Following quarters of 27.8, 28 and 27.3 seconds Ride High broke the leader’s resistance, as he had done to all who had challenged him this campaign, but just as everything seemed on script Clayton Tonkin’s star started to struggle. He was unable to shake off Major Times at the final turn and by the 100-metre mark his race was run. While most eyes were on the front of affairs, Bellman had made his run and was closing. “Even when Kate took off three wide, when I looked across at her I thought, he’s going harder than I think she wants him to go,” Bellman said. “Once I got to the 300 and I was still travelling like I was travelling I thought, ‘I’m going to finish top three here’. “And then when I got outside them at the top of the lane I thought, ‘I’ve got Ride High covered but I’m not sure about Jodi (Quinlan on Major Times)’. “And then halfway up the straight I was pinching myself, I thought ‘this is like someone’s put me to sleep and it’s a dream’.” Come the finish line he’d beaten Major Times by a neck in a 1:50.2 mile rate, with Code Black nine metres back and narrowly holding fast-finishing Sicario out for third. As well as putting a smile on the dial of Bellman and Justice, the Group 2 win would have also meant the world to owner John Hawke. “I saw John the night Gavin (Lang) won the Tontine on him, he was over the moon and it was like he pulled off something big, he took the punt (to buy him) and it happened,” Bellman said. “Tonight I can imagine what he’s like in the lounge chair at home, he would have been up and about. “This is what we’re in it for, the thrill of it and credit to John to go and spend his money, put his faith into a horse and Lance and everyone and even myself. To have this happen it basically gives the little blokes a good lift.” CATCH THE TROTS VISION HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TAB SMOKEN UP SPRINT:   HRV - Michael Howard

Year in, year out the Emma Stewart barn produces top class juvenile performers, but is it possible it's gone to a new level? On a Friday night dedicated to the up-and-coming stars of the track, Stewart took out four of the five Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic heats at Ballarat's Bray Raceway last night. While all four winners were impressive, perhaps the standout effort of the evening came from Ladies In Red in a heat of the series for two-year-old fillies. Driven by Kate Gath, the daughter of Mach Three went straight to the front from barrier one and was never headed on her way to a 17.5m victory in a sizzling mile rate of 1.52.9. The result backed up a big debut win at Shepparton on September 1 and, unsurprisingly, Gath was full of praise for the young star. "I almost fell out of the cart when I came back to scale," Gath said. "She felt good, but I didn't know I ran those times. She just did it not (even) flat out, which is kind of scary. "I knew we were really hiking the last quarter and she certainly upped the tempo half-way around the corner and just dashed up the straight. She was sort of doing it pretty well within herself and she didn't feel like she was flat out on the line, so it was pretty impressive." Chris Alford drove a treble on Friday night and his second success came behind Stewart's Rogue Wave, who also made it two wins from two career starts by taking out another heat for the fillies. A lightning mid-race move took the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to the front and despite some nervous moments in the straight, she was able to fend off the challenge from Tough Tilly in a mile rate of 1.53.9. "She was really good again tonight having her second start," Alford said. "The other one put pressure on around the bend and she really dug deep in the straight." Stewart claimed the third and final heat for the fillies with first-starter Beach Music and also one of the two colts and geldings preludes with Act Now, who scored in bold front-running fashion for Jodi Quinlan. It was the training team of Gary and Debbie Quinlan that produced a boilover in the other event for the boys, with Knights Templar bouncing back from his mistake at the previous start to topple Clayton Tonkin's hot favourite Major Moth, who galloped away at the start. Group 2 $50,000 Home Grown Classic finals will be held at Tabcorp Park Melton on October 10, sharing the bill with the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

The winning ways of Mick Bellman and John Caldow will see Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) pledge $8000 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), while the trots generous community has poured in almost $3000 more. The outstanding initiative saw Bellman and Caldow wear commemorative PCFA silks throughout September, raising awareness about the cancer that affects about one in six men by the age of 85. But the partnership also raises critical funds, with HRV donating $500 every time either Bellman or Caldow won in September, when the pair combined for 16 victories. A further $2900 will also be donated to the PCFA after a groundswell of support. Ararat Harness Racing Club and its supporters raised $1840, including $760 from Carissa Ward, who donated $20 ever time Bellman had a first three placing, and $300 from Luke Ralph, who donated $20 for every second placing. Other fantastic contributors in that total were Phil and Sharon Ralph, H. A. Syndicate, Rick Ryan, Daryl and Erin Bertram, Gary and Tracey Hull, Clare Payne, Rod Carberry and Katrina Fitzpatrick. A further $660 was pledged by Stawell Harness Racing Club and Lisa McIlvride. And Horsham Harness Racing Club donated $250, with a further $50 pledged by Robbie Connolly, Darryl Edwards and Aaron Dunn. Bendigo Harness Racing Club also partnered with Garrards Horse and Hound to offer a $500 voucher, with was won via a trainers’ draw. Katrina Fitzpatrick was the winning trainer, with trainers getting a ticket into the draw every time Bellman or Caldow steered one of their horses at Bendigo. The partnership will help the PCFA to improve awareness of the disease and raise understanding of options for early detection and treatment, while supporting Australian men and families with the long-term impacts of their illness.   Harness Racing Victoria

Trainer Clayton Tonkin insists this is just the challenge his pacing sensation Ride High needs ahead of the Victoria Cup. Ride High faces by far his biggest test this campaign from outside the back row over a sprint trip (1720m) in Saturday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint at Melton. He’s going for his 17th win from just 18 starts. “I’m actually glad he drew poorly and he’s got to get back in a big field and find a way to overcome it,” Tonkin said. “If he’s lacking anything it’s experience and I hoped he’d learn through his runs this campaign, but instead they’ve all been easy kills. He’s probably worked harder at home than he has in a lot of those wins. “I won’t be stressed if he gets beaten this week but learns from the experience. In saying that, I don’t think he’ll get beaten though.” Tonkin played down talk he’d changed plans by skipping last week’s Minuteman free-for-all and opting to run Ride High just a week out from the Victoria Cup in this week’s Smoken Up. “To be honest, I almost ran him in all three races, last week, this week and the Victoria Cup,” he said. “Running this week and backing-up seven days later won’t fuss him in the slightest. “He should get a good, strong hit out this week and it’ll top him off nicely for the big one next week.” Tonkin wouldn’t buy-in to the tactics driver Kate Gath might employ from the tricky barrier. “There’s a fair bit of speed on that front line, so I do think they’ll go hard early, but you can’t have any set plans in races like this,” he said. “He’s really well going into it, it will bring him on that little bit more for the Victoria Cup, but he’s a pretty special horse and they’ll want to be good to beat him.”

Always Ready's route to Group 1 racing runs via Dalvui Raceway tonight, when trainer Anton Golino’s four-year-old hunts a sixth successive victory and attempts to build on a burgeoning reputation. And though it’s a distant thought at this stage for the lightly-raced Ready Cash entire, whose 13 starts have produced nine wins, reputation matters with the Haras des Trotteurs and Yabby Dam Farms stable optimistic he will one day become a coveted stallion. “Being a colt and by Ready Cash, the dream is eventually to stand him at stud,” Golino said. “For a son of Ready Cash he is a very intelligent, he’s a beautiful horse to look at, he’s got a good head and confirmation and great pedigree.” But before any more thought is given to that future he has a lot of racing left to do, beginning with tonight’s Murfett and Whiting Electrical Sales & Services Trotters Handicap. Starting off 10 metres in the middle-distance standing start, Always Ready’s expected to begin in red figures on the tote, despite being first up since late April. That campaign served up five unbeaten starts between March 4 and April 25, which followed a tick under two years on the sidelines after Always Ready suffered a "freak injury" when running third as a $1.20 favourite in a $95,000 Group 1. “Still to this day I can’t explain how he broke a bone in his foot in the Breeders Crown final as a two-year-old," Golino said. “He had a lot of time off and then came back and won five starts in a row. We gave him a little let up when covid hit, he got to the point where he was a little stuck for opportunities. “He seems to have come back good. He has had a few trials and I am happy enough with him.” Tonight he begins a campaign that Golino is hopeful will make amends for his Breeders Crown misfortune when the series is held in November, and can then roll into further good times in December’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series. “They are our main targets,” Golino said. “He’s obviously a very good horse, as long as he stays sound. The horse has a lot of ability, he’s very well bred. “I have a lot of time for him. He’s pretty versatile, has a ton of gate speed, but can also come off the pace. He is a very good gated horse, pretty good manners. I think he can progress to the open ranks, whether is this time or next time we’ll see.” And while Golino said we might not see the best of him when first-up tonight, he’s ready to compete. “He is a little fat, which is probably why I didn’t race him at Melton first up,” he said. “He’s definitely not screwed right down yet, but he is fit enough to start racing. “I will tell (reinsman) Jason (Lee) just to keep him relaxed, especially in the preliminaries. No race is easy, they are all hard to win.” Golino’s focus will soon turn to Saturday night when his stable star Dance Craze will attempt to overcome her tricky gate eight draw in the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All. The brilliant mare finished fourth and second in her two starts this campaign and her trainer said he was happy with how she’d come on. “She needed the (last) run and benefitted a lot from it. She came out of it good and ate up,” he said. “The draw is not ideal. It will be tricky from there, but I am happy with her. She will need luck and I see Tornado Valley trialled really good today at Melton. He’s the benchmark and when he’s at his best he’s awesome.” In addition to Saturday night the duo are also likely to lock horns on October 10, night of the $300,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. The headline trotting race will be the $50,000 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Sprint and Golino confirmed that was Dance Craze’s aim. He will also have Imsettogo step out on Saturday, with the four-year-old mare having impressed this season, when she’s won eight of 15 starts. However, Golino said “by her standards she was disappointing” last start, having led at Melton but faded in the final 100 metres to finish fifth. “I was probably a touch kind to her going into the race,” he said. “She fibrillated the start before at Ballarat. I don’t know why, I have never had one do it before. “I have found in the past she does better when I do back her up and I do expect she will be better this week. She’s a horse just getting better and better, which is typical of the French breed.” Imsettogo is being set for November’s Breeders Crown and December’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series.   HRV - Michael Howard

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