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Ride High faces the biggest test of his campaign after being drawn outside the back row in Saturday night’s TAB Smoken Up Sprint, when many rivals will be gung-ho to claim the coveted $50,000 prize and prove themselves worthy of a Grand Circuit start. Places in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup will in the balance in Saturday night’s headliner, with New South Wales raider Cruz drawing the plum gate two draw and sharing the front line with other hopefuls Sicario (gate four), Major Times (gate six) and returning top liner Code Bailey (gate seven). Code Black, who’s considered on the bubble of Victoria Cup selection, will start from gate eight for Emma Stewart and Greg Sugars, a trailing draw behind polemarker Andy Gath’s Star Of Memphis, who’s first up since May. However, most intrigue will surround Ride High and whether the speed machine, who broke the clock at Bendigo on August 1 when running 1:49, can round this quality field and add a 12th victory to his winning streak. While he’s started and won off the second row twice this campaign, on both occasions – at Terang and Bendigo – he’s been the only horse on the back row and able to quickly pick his path to the head of affairs. Saturday may present a more stern test for reinswoman Kate Gath, who will be having her second start on the five-year-old, with a strong front line that includes Cruz well placed to lead and strong types Major Times and Code Bailey on his outside. Tab.com.au opened with Ride High a $1.25 favourite ahead of Cruz ($5.50) and Code Bailey ($7.50). The sprint headlines a terrific race card, which includes the Dilmah Tea Pace at 9.05pm, featuring the likes of Reactor Now and Idealsomemagic, who were among the 25 a thetrots.com.au panel shortlisted for being in contention for Victoria Cup starts. The Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All is the card’s headline trotting race at 8.05pm, with the $24,000 Group 3 drawing three Great Southern Star winners on the back row in Dance Craze (gate eight), Sparkling Success (gate nine) and Tornado Valley (gate 10). Sammy Showdown (gate four) and Sundons Courage (gate six) are among those on the front line to ensure the middle distance trot will be run along. The TAB Make A Date With Play 3YO Pace will close out the quaddie at 8.35pm and sees the return of Perfect Stride and trainer-driver Anthony Butt to Victoria, where they teamed to place in their two-year-old Breeders Crown final and the Victoria Derby. The field also includes Emma Stewart’s pair Techys Angel and Maajida, the brilliant filly first up since March, and a talented crew with forthcoming Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series tilts front of mind. The night also features the Allied Express The Jane Ellen, the $30,000 mares race a key lead-in to the forthcoming Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown. Butt’s talented three-year-old Dr Susan is a notable inclusion and will start off the back row inside backmarker Goodtime Heaven amid a quality line-up that includes Enchanted Stride, Kualoa and No Win No Feed. There is quality on every line of the 11-race card, which kicks off at 5.10pm. Catch all the action live and free on Trots Vision, which will be taking special Sky Active coverage during the next two Saturday nights, featuring Trots Vision's Rob Auber and Dan Mielicki, Adam Hamilton courtesy of TAB and RSN's Gareth Hall.   HRV - Michael Howard

King Of Swing is a “50-50 chance” to tackle the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup and Cruz will be the only Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy representative in Saturday’s TAB Smoken Up Sprint. They were the two key takeaways when McCarthy joined RSN927’s Gait Speed today to preview an enormous fortnight of Victorian pacing, when the New South Wales camp hopes to pull off another successful southern raid. A decision on King Of Swing, who’s last Tabcorp Park Melton trip secured the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, remains in the hands of his owners, McCarthy said, but the door had certainly not closed on the camp’s brilliant front runner. “I’ve spoken to the owners, particularly Gary Hall Snr, they felt more comfortable if we could take him down and myself or Gary Hall Jnr could drive him,” McCarthy said, but New South Wales and Western Australia border restrictions due to covid-19 made that troublesome. “If that can’t happen it’s still not a definite that it won’t. It will be totally up to the owners, they’ll make a decision on Sunday. I’d say he’s 50-50 at this stage. “I love Melton and have had a lot of success there. Hopefully I can come down. If not at least have some of the horses from the stable there. We are really looking forward to being a part of it.” McCarthy all but ruled himself out if he had to quarantine upon returning home, with New South Wales in the midst of Breeders Challenge and “just the busyness of the racing up here”. However, there was no doubt the $300,000 Grand Circuit feature was a priority for King Of Swing. “His whole preparation has been aiming towards the Victoria Cup. He’s ready for it and his preparation’s been purposely set for the Vic Cup,” he said. “That run on Saturday night just a fortnight out was ideal for him, we won’t be able to make a decision until probably Sunday. He’s definitely ready if we can bring him down.” King Of Swing is one of six the camp has in the mix for the Victoria Cup, with reigning champion Bling It On, Cash N Flow, Balraj, Cruz and Alta Orlando also in contention for a race start, but Zennart’s Melton flirtation is over after Saturday night’s failure. McCarthy told RSN 927 only Cruz would contest this Saturday’s $50,000 TAB Smoken Up Sprint. “He had a good campaign in Brisbane, he’s work has been really good since he got back to Sydney. He’s a good miler, so he will be set for the Smoken Up.” He also gave a runner-by-runner breakdown of his others. BLING IT ON: “Really happy with him. His Menangle mile form is probably not his best. He ran a really good third on the weekend following King Of Swing. They ran a really quick last half and dad (John) was rapt with the way he hit the line. He’s spot on. He loves Melton, he’s won a lot of really good races there. We’ve got him exactly where we want him, just hope he could draw one or eight in that race, where he’d be behind leader or two (back the) fence (and) he’d definitely run a really good race.” BALRAJ “He’s flying, his form couldn’t be any better. In that last start he beat King Of Swing, got home in 52.6 I think it was. He’s ready to go. We’ve purposefully not run him again and just set him for the Vic Cup. He’s 100 per cent ready to go.” CASH N FLOW “We are going to give him a crack at it. Obviously his best form is over the mile. Smoken Up would have been a really good race for him, but we thought his runs have been spaced in Sydney every two to three weeks and to give him his best shot at a Vic Cup we’d have to miss the Smoken Up, so that’s the reason why he’s not in this week. He’s purely been set for the Vic Cup.” KING OF SWING “I think if he drew the lead they wouldn’t beat him. I think he’s the best horse from our stable and let’s hope he can get there.” ALTA ORLANDO “He made a mistake his last start, which is a bit out of character for him. We’ve given him an easy week to forget about that run and his work’s been super privately. His form before that he’s run three seconds in a row behind Balraj and King Of Swing. He’s definitely coming down, he’s ready to go.” ZENNART “It’s disappointing, because his run in Sydney the week before he went 51 for that longer trip and actually beat Balraj, that’s why we were confident he would handle that grade of race, but maybe mentally he just has to stay at Menangle on that big track. He did do that quite a lot at Gloucester Park on the 800-metre track. He can just come home and stick to Menangle.” CLICK BELOW TO TUNE IN TO THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF GAIT SPEED:     HRV - Michael Howard

With a brilliant dash up the sprint lane three-year-old filly Pink Galahs bettered Australia’s leading trotting mares and delivered Matt Craven a victory dripping in sentimental delight. The trainer-driver dedicated the win to Pink Galahs’ part-owner Bryan Healy, son of Ric Healy, who produced the extraordinary Maori family that changed Australian trotting, which includes Sumthingaboutmaori after whom tonight’s race was named. “That’s one for Bryan in Queensland,” Craven told Trots Vision post-race. “I am sure he’s having kittens up there on the Gold Coast. “All his mates will be at the pub and to win a race named in the honour of his great mare (Sumthingaboutmaori), I’m sure he will be super thrilled tonight, as will Caleb (Lewis) and Laura (Lewis). They will be super excited and very proud of their little filly.” Bryan shares ownership of Pink Galahs with daughter Laura and her husband Caleb. The Skyvalley filly is out of Sweetasay, whose lines lead back three generations to Maori Mia, dam of Maori’s Idol, and a fourth generation to the great Maori Miss. Now Pink Galahs is writing an extraordinary new chapter of trotting success in the Maori family, having tonight registered her ninth win in just 15th starts, despite her last six starts having been run outside of her age group. “We were a bit concerned we had been way to easy on her and the reason she was here tonight was because we needed to get a run into her before the Oaks,” Craven said. “There’s not a lot of options for her, she’s put herself in this position basically because she’s been so good.” Tonight’s Aldebaran Park Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free For All was a whole nother level, with the likes of Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth contesting for the Group 3 prize. Pink Galahs tagged on to the back of leader Imsettogo out of the gates, with Red Hot Tooth again doing heavy work in the breeze while Dance Craze loomed likely with her typical late run. But it was Craven’s runner, benefitting from a perfect run on the pegs, who had enough late zip and plenty in the tank to score by 2.1 metres. “Tonight we had the ideal trip in the box seat right behind the leader. Against this class of horse, stepping up against the older mares, super experience, well performed horses, she’s going to need that trip at the moment,” Craven said. “She’s probably all heart. Considering we have been so easy on her, she was great to the line and I think she will take a lot of benefit out of that. It’s a big thrill for me.” And it has the Terang trainer optimistic about his filly’s chances as the three-year-old classics near, beginning with the $60,000 TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks on October 17 at Melton. “It’s a great ride that she’s given us, hopefully we can take this form into the age feature races that are coming up, the Oaks, we could have a throw at the stumps at the Derby maybe,” Craven said. “Then we’ll just have the (Vicbred Super Series) in December.” And, if all goes well, the Great Southern Star? “Every time we’ve raised the bar she’s stepped up to it,” he said. “There’s one thing that we know: that she tries hard. She’s got good speed, you’d love to see her following the fence in a race like that. It wouldn’t be beyond her by any means.”   HRV - Michael Howard

With her right arm extended in a victory salute, Michelle Phillips looked to the heavens as she crossed the line aboard the Tim Bolitho-trained pacer The Big End Oftown at Stawell yesterday. The winner was raced by prominent harness racing breeder, owner and club official Philip Nott who died the previous night. “As soon as we roared out of the gates I knew I had a horse and when I pulled the plugs at the top of the straight he just kept on motoring and they weren’t going to catch us," Phillips said. “The horse looked at me in the parade ring before the race as if he knew what was at stake,” she said. A bookmaker for more than 45 years, there is a fair chance Philip would have looked down from above with a wry smile as his horse knocked punters for a six saluting at the lucrative odds of $34. Philip enjoyed plenty of success racing horses linked back to bookmaking and racing terms with Off The Old’s upset win as a 90-1 chance in the 1999 Geelong Pacing Cup his biggest win. Among his better performed runners was the metropolitan winner Doyouwantitagain, while multiple winners Round Of Drinks and Copyarightwhack were always a topic of conversation along with The Early Crow. In more recent years Philip’s close friend Bolitho has been in charge of the team and the Anakie based horseman admitted the day produced a gamut of emotions. “What an amazing thing to happen, I was a mess after the race,” Bolitho said. “That he was able to win didn’t surprise me all that much because he is a good horse and I told Michelle to go forward at the start,” he said. Bolitho and Philip combined to make frequent visits to the winner’s stall during the past five or six years with the four-time country cups winner Arber and Rule Of Thumb. “Phil would come out to the stables once of week until his health wouldn’t allow him and while he wasn’t a hands-on horseman, he enjoyed the involvement and our trips to the races,” he said. “He will be sorely missed not only by me but also by the industry and his many friends in harness racing.” Philip was a fine contributor to the Geelong Harness Racing Club serving as president from 2005 to 2008 and was bestowed with Life Membership to the club in 2017. Geelong Harness Racing Club president John Ballestrino acknowledged Philip’s service to the club. “I had the fortune of having worked alongside Phil as his Vice-President during his years as President and he never wavered in his passion to see the club succeed and become a force in the industry,” Ballestrino said. “Phil was a friend and mentor to all of us at Geelong, in later years volunteering at trial nights and race days while his health still allowed him to do so. “It will be very hard to replace Phil, his friendship, his leadership and his passion for a good joke will be greatly missed by all of us at the club. “Our thoughts are with his wife Linda and son Craig at this sad time.” Harness Racing Victoria extends sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time.   HRV - John Dunne

A start in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup could well hinge on this Saturday night for many pacing hopefuls, with every prelude to the $300,000 Grand Circuit race on October 10 crucial to gaining favour with handicappers. A strong performance in the TAB Minuteman Free For All, which will air on Trots Vision at 6.30pm, will likely go a long way, with Group 1 champions Lochinvar Art and Cruz Bromac headlining the $30,000 feature. Boom horse Ride High is notable for his absence, having been initially nominated but then withdrawn, meaning the much coveted clash with Lochinvar Art is on the backburner at least until the $50,000 TAB Smoken Up Sprint on October 3. Instead trainer-driver David Moran and his Shepparton superstar will have to contend with reigning New Zealand Trotting Cup champion Cruz Bromac, who will be first up and looking to build on his 23 wins from 52 starts and $1,050,975 in stakes. His trainer, Amanda Grieve, said her eight-year-old seemed "really good and in a similair space to last year", when he followed his third placing in the Victoria Cup with an unforgettable victory at Auckland's Alexandra Park. "He’s about as good as we can have him without racing,” said Grieve, who stressed her stable star raced well when fresh. Lochinvar Art dominates the early betting market, listed a $1.60 chance with TAB.com.au, with New South Wales raider Zennart ($4.60) and Cruz Bromac ($5) the only others in single figures. Zennart is the first of Luke McCarthy and Craig Cross's crew to descend upon Melbourne, with Balraj, Cash N Flow, Bling It On and Alta Orlando expected to follow, while Hunter Cup champ King Of Swing's hopes of a Victoria Cup start seemingly hinge on covid-19 border restrictions. Of their team, Zennart appears to have the most to prove to convince handicappers he's worthy of displacing a local in the Victoria Cup field, making the stakes all the higher on Saturday night. Victorians Sicario, My Kiwi Mate and San Carlo, all 2019 Inter Dominion finalists, will be eager for bold showings Saturday night to boost their claims, while Rackemup Tigerpie, Tam Major, Out To Play, Im Sir Blake, Rocknroll Eyes and Bulletproof Boy would also be hoping to break the door down. Saturday night's 10-race card kicks off at 3.39pm, with the first three races being shown on Sky Racing 2 to enable racing to be finished by 8.30pm, before the Victorian Goverment's 9pm curfew. The headline trot at 8pm is the Aldebaran Park Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free For All, which features Anton Golin's Great Southern Star winner Dance Craze, who's $1.90 favourite with tab.com.au. Stablemate Imsettogo was initially installed a $2.30 favourite before the market was flipped by punters, with the latter easing to $3.40 while Dance Craze tumbled in from his $3.70 opening price. Red Hot Tooth, who last start held off Tornado Valley for an impressive all-the-way win, has eased from $2.80 to $3.40. Other Saturday night must-sees will be the Hygain 3YO Pace, when Sahara Sirocco and Pacifico Dream resume their duel and are joined by Craig Cross-trained Bomb Suit, a $1.70 favourite, and Marg Lee's impressive Yianni among a deep and talented field. Breeders Crown (November) and Vicbred Super Series (December) hopefuls will also be prevalent in the Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Pace, where Mick Stanley's pair Soho Brandenburg and Soho Bollinger will lock horns with the likes of Jess Tubbs' duo Sumomentsomewhere and Momentslikethese. Race caller Dan Mielicki will be joined on Trots Vision by co-host Rob Auber for Saturday night's coverage, guiding trots fans from the VHRC Parade Ring to the Winners' Circle. Racing will also show on Sky Racing 1 (races 4-10) and Sky Racing 2 (races 1-3), while Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will headline's SENTrack's coverage and RSN 927's will also broadcast all races.   HRV - Michael Howard

Tabcorp Park Melton is about to kick off three extraordinary Saturday nights of open class pacing with superstars of the season Ride High and Lochinvar Art set to collide. Both are among nominations for the $30,000 Minuteman Free For All, which will headline Saturday night’s racing at Melton, the first time participants from outside metropolitan Melbourne have been able to descend upon Victoria’s harness racing headquarters since covid-19 restrictions were installed in July. Trained by Ballarat’s Clayton Tonkin and driven by Long Forrest’s Kate Gath, Ride High has been declared “the best pacer in the world” and the “most talked about thing on four legs” by fellow trainers and broadcasters, having crushed track records amid an 11-race winning streak. His stunning season has seen him installed a favourite for the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10, a $300,000 feature that will funnel some of Australasia’s best horses to Tabcorp Park. Among that number is Ride High’s leading threat Lochinvar Art, the Shepparton superstar who holds the honour of being Victoria’s fastest ever pacer for his 1:48.6 victory at Melton in January’s 4YO Bonanza. Their expected clash this Saturday night draws to a head a season-long, mesmerising rivalry, which has formed without the pair actually racing. Early nominations for Saturday night’s pace also featured reigning New Zealand Trotting Cup champion Cruz Bromac, though owner Danny Zavitsanos said trainer Amanda Grieve was still finalising whether to run the million-dollar pacer in this Saturday’s Minuteman Free For All or the following Saturday’s Smoken Up Sprint. Either way, Cruz Bromac’s certain to be a key fixture in the Victoria Cup on October 10, with Zavitsanos declaring “he’s as good as when he won the New Zealand Cup last year, if not better”. The fields are also likely to see a considerable New South Wales influence, with Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy signifying that their team would attack the Cup and its lead-up races. The stable’s nominated Zennart for Saturday night’s hit-out, while Cruz will likely target the Smoken Up Sprint and all of Cash N Flow, Balraj, Alta Orlando and Bling It On are expected to be entered for the Victoria Cup. Uncertainty surrounds the stable’s A. G. Hunter Cup champion King Of Swing, with connections wanting McCarthy to travel with and drive the horse, but that would require an easing of New South Wales border restrictions. Regardless, the jostle for starting places in the 12-horse Victoria Cup is sure to be intense, making the lead-in runs over the coming fortnight all the more critical. Emma Stewart’s speed machine Hurricane Harley put his name forward for inclusion at Bendigo last Saturday night, when he led all the way in track record time, holding Lochinvar Art to a brave second placing. Reinswoman Amanda Turnbull said Hurricane Harley’s “just a machine, he loves running along” after the four-year-old’s eye-catching win in a high-class open pace. “This is as strong a field as you can get and he just proved tonight if he gets a good draw he’s going to be hard to catch (in the Victoria Cup),” Turnbull said. Saturday night’s fields will be finalised Tuesday afternoon. To see who gets a start head to thetrots.com.au, where you can watch live, free and extended coverage of all Victorian racing on Trots Vision. Owing to covid-19 restrictions, the track remains closed to all but participants and essential staff, but the racing can be watched live on Sky Racing or Trots Vision (at thetrots.com.au), or listened to on RSN 927AM or SEN Track on 1593AM.   Harness Racing Victoria

Victoria's ambassadors for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, John Caldow and Mick Bellman, have shaken off the shackles and hit their straps! The pair, regarded as two of the country's best reinsmen, are sporting the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia silks for the month of September, and have posted an impressive seven wins over the past few days. "I've got to hand it to Mick, he's been the top performer recently and deserves it," Caldow said. "He'll bob up at any meeting he can drive at and his form at Ballarat and then Horsham was sensational," he said. Harness Racing Victoria is donating $500 to PCFA for every winning drive by Caldow and Bellman, during September, while clubs and individuals have also come on board to support the worthy cause. Both Bellman and Caldow had been chipping away tasting success and quietly boosting the coffers for the promotion to raise funds and promote awareness of the disease, but in the past week have found some serious form. Mick Bellman was at his brilliant best with a treble at Horsham last week – one of his winners was Crompton Bay. Caldow landed Pantzup at Melton just days into the awareness month and then a week later made it a winning double with Kasbah Kid (trained by Freddy Taiba) and Andover Sun (for his wife Maree). He followed up with a victory at Cranbourne with Letherhairdown, prepared by Blake Caruana. And last Friday at Melton he again injected some cash into the campaign, landing Kasbah Kid again and 20/1 shot Will And Andy for trainer Laraine McKenzie. "I've been happy with how I've been going along, but Mick really jumped into the spotlight with five winners and a few placings over a few days to move things along a bit," Caldow said. It's a somewhat scary statistic, but every three minutes, six Aussie men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. "A couple of our owners have been diagnosed with it, but thankfully they are in the clear now, Caldow said. "A lot of us blokes get a little complacent when it comes to health, but it's so important to look after yourself and get tested as soon as you hit 50 years of age," he said. "Having to do a medical for our licence renewal is a good thing, because I will be honest and put my hand up and say I might be one of those who wouldn't get around to it if I didn't have to do that medical every year. "But it's really easy because an accurate blood test can measure your risk for having prostate cancer." Under the COVID-19 regional racing, Caldow who lives at Melton, has been able to compete at just his home track and one other in Cranbourne. "Melton has been racing once a week and the fields have been strong. Taking the opportunities I've been getting into consideration, I'm really rapt with winners I've been able to get," he said. Bellman got a Stawell winner early days with Aerodyne Guy for trainer Owen Martin and then posted a string of second and third placings. Along the way he also reached a career milestone of 1500 winners-well deserved for the hard working and popular freelance driver. Then at Ballarat and Horsham meetings last week, Bellman was at his best with a double and then a treble. He landed Hanging On A Dream (Keith Douglas) and Eastbro Adele (Rebecca East) at Ballarat as well a two minor placings. Then at Horsham it was Liberland (Gary Donaldson), Aerodyne Guy (Owen Martin) and Crompton Bay (Ricky Ryan) all in the winner's circle as well as one placegetter. "I'm just honored to be part of it, particularly joining John as an ambassador is something special. The support has been overwhelming with the Horsham, Ararat and Stawell clubs in my region all backing it through donations and social media accounts," Bellman said. And with still nine days remaining, you can be assured that Caldow and Bellman will be eager to make every post a winner. To donate, please head to https:/www.pcfa.org.au/   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

ONLY a late change of plans will thwart the first clash of superstar Aussie pacers Ride High and Lochinvar Art at Melton next Saturday night. Ride High’s trainer Clayton Tonkin confirmed his pacing sensation would chase his 17th win from just 18 starts in the $30,000 Minuteman Free-For-All (2240m), while Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said it was “very likely” his charge would be there as well. Lochinvar Art lost no admirers when a monstrous second in scorching times at Bendigo on Saturday night. The Chariots Of Fire winner smashed the clock from a horror draw and after doing all the work when a mighty second to Hurricane Harley in track record time. He was timed to run his last mile of the 2150m race in a mind-blowing 1min50.9sec, some of it three and even four-wide. “His run was massive under the circumstances,” Moran said. “And, as I said going into it, he needed the run. He’ll take a lot out of it. “I’ll give him the day to make sure he’s come through it well, which he seems to have, and make a final decision tomorrow (Monday), but I will most likely back-up next week. “He thrives on racing every week and he needs the hard racing to be right at his top for the (Victoria) Cup.” Confirmation Ride High will run this week means he will almost certainly bypass the $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at Melton on October 3 and continue his routine of racing every second-week by going straight to the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) on October 10. In other Victoria Cup news, it’s growing increasingly likely Sydney sensation Cash N Flow will stretch-out from his beloved sprint racing to the 2240m of the Cup. Cash N Flow won a staggering 12th successive Menangle mile race last night (Saturday) and broke the magical 1min50sec mark for a record eighth time. “We’ll chat with the owners and make the final call, but we’re not worried about him going out to 2240m, especially the form he’s in at the moment,” driver Luke McCarthy said. McCarthy and Craig Cross are sending Australasian 2300m record-holder Zennart down to race against Ride High and Lochinvar Art. And McCarthy said three of their stars – Balraj, Alta Orlando and Cash N Flow – were definite to go straight into the Victoria Cup without racing again. Bling It On is also a Victoria Cup definite, but he will race against King Of Swing at Menangle next Saturday night. And what about King Of Swing for the Victoria Cup? “No update from last week. It really depends on the restrictions. He’ll be ready to go if I can get in/out (of Melbourne) easily. We probably won’t decide until the last-minute,” McCarthy said.   By Adam Hamilton

Hopes are high that Pam and Russell Hockham's brilliant Shadow Sax can refind the form that had him a regular free-for-all champ and Inter Dominion contender. The seven-year-old, who is co-owned by the Stable Of Stars syndicate that incluides Garry Lyon, Hamish McLachlan, Craig Hutchison, Liam Pickering, Brittany Graham and Ashlea Brennan, makes a long-awaited return in Saturday night's star-studded Bendigo field. Pam Hockham joined SENTrack's Talking Trots on Track today and told co-hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden Shadow Sax was "back on track" and set for a good showing in the Vincent Standing @ Alabar Pace, which streams at 7.03pm on Trots Vision on Saturday. "His trials were fantastic and we expect him to go really well Saturday night," she said. Shadow Sax hasn't raced since last year's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup when he ran 12th at the end of a three-start campaign. That followed a nine-month lay-off when he was withdrawn from the 2018 Inter Dominion, with the gelding hampered by a hind leg injruy. "It's a bit sad. The good horses always seem to break down. He had a pin put in his leg and we gave him plenty of time off," Hockham said. "He was with Rita Burnett for a while, because she used to walk him in the water every day - she's been fantastic looking after him. We hope he's back to his old self, because he's a beautiful, placid horse. A lovely horse." And she's optimistic "we will go pretty well" Saturday night, with Shadow Sax a $14 chance with the TAB.com.au, which has Lochinvar Art on top at $1.75, out from $1.55. "Lochinvar Art's a champion, we know that, but we'll see how we go," Hockham said. The stakes are heightened by the need to put in a bold showing to push his claims for a start in the October 10 Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup. "If he goes good Saturday night we expect him to keep going and would love to get him into the Victoria Cup. I think he can go with the best of them if he stays sound." Hockham is also the co-owner of Demon Delight, who she said underwent surgery yesterday to remove bone chips in his knee, which will sideline him for six months. "The vet said he will come back better. They said (he was a) 95 per cent chance he will come back good. He raced with the bone chips in him all the time." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK INTERVIEW:   Harness Racing Victoria

Fingers will be crossed that tonight’s racing at Shepparton will bring breakthrough number two for the little gelding whose run of near things sparked something of a cult following. Lion Heart, Rebecca Morrissey’s five-year-old who gradually grew into his own name, chases his second win in tonight’s JDC Contractors Trot, which will stream on Trots Vision at 7.33pm. Tonight marks start number 73 for Lion Heart, who’s produced 25 placings to date and one magical moment at Geelong on March 11, which was victory number one at start 67. It was all the more significant for being the first victory in trainer Morrissey’s own name, with her previous successes having come in partnership with husband Paul. “The fact that he went so many starts before winning, I think everyone was hoping the little bugger would get over the line and win a race for me,” Morrissey said. “He didn’t show anything as a two-year-old and did a lot wrong. It wasn’t until he was a late three-year-old that he showed a little bit and we persevered. He had so many placings in the lead-up to that first win.” It was the sweetest of victories for Morrissey and reward for patience and persistence, both from the trainer and her horse, who was named as such in “the hope he would have the heart of a lion”. “I didn’t actually like the name to start with, but you have to give options and it was not my first choice, but the name has really suited him and he has got a bit of a following too,” she said. And while not a regular winner, Lion Heart has been a regular earner, securing $33,490 in stakes. “To have him running placings every 10 days goes a long way for the bank balance, but it’s more about having fun and sharing it with other people. “I am breeding a few mares and Lion Heart has helped them go to a bit better stallions.” In fact Morrissey has five trotting mares she is breeding to in Vienna Noon, Butterfly Noon, Canadian Dream, Six Appeal and Livingonadream, the latter a half-sister to Just Like Jack ($112,381) and Barneys Invasion ($81,199) and the dam of Lion Heart. “They have been a great family,” Morrissey said. “We have ended up with some nice horses and have little Lion Heart, who tries his heart out and is competitive.” And the expectation is he will do so again in race 4 at 7.33pm, when Lion Heart has his first start in the hands of reinsman Darryl Douglas, with regular driver Mick Bellman having a big haul at Horsham earlier in the day but credited for doing “a fantastic job educating (Lion Heart) in races”. Lion Heart will start from inside the back row, and if he can overcome his poor starts Morrissey said he should be well placed for a bold showing.  “The only issue is at the start. He’s certainly better tucked away behind the leaders and hopefully he can get a good run into the race at the finish.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Doreen (Victoria) couple John and Christine Yeomans have established a solid reputation over four decades for breeding and racing quality standardbred stock, particularly pacing fillies and mares. The list of top performers bred at their Homestead Farm reads like a classics’ date book and includes Life Inthefastlane (Queen of the Pacific and Vic. Youthful Stakes), Im Smouldering (Vicbred 3YO Final and Tatlow Memorial), Racy Rita (Victoria Oaks), Vansumic (NSW Ladyship Mile) and Yes I Can (Vic. Youthful Stakes). “Racy Rita probably put us on the map,” John said. “But Life Inthefastlane gave us our biggest thrill when she won the Queen of the Pacific after almost dying from a colic attack 12 months earlier.” Other smart types raced and trained by John and Christine have been the Vicbred champion and Oceania El Dorado winner Gigi, Indigenous (Tasmanian Oaks and Vic. Gold Chalice), Gold Cygnet (Galaxy Grand Slam 2YO), the Moonee Valley Cup winner Relentless Pursuit, Etoile (APG 2YO Final), Jaydare (Tatlow Memorial) and Makeyourownluck (winner of $221,952). John estimates that he has trained more than 350 winners. “We’ve been lucky to have bred or raced 12 Group 1 winners,” he said. In recognition for sustained excellence and achievement in the Breeding industry, the Yeomans were presented with the Ian Daff Memorial Award for Victorian Breeders of the Year in 2012 by Harness Breeders Victoria. The husband-and-wife team are also proud sponsors of Victorian trotting their company Yeomans Slate and Stone. John admits that his success has been largely due to a team effort. “Christine does most of the pedigree matching and we have great staff in Shane Gallagher and his wife Rachael Benns, who assist with the breeding, training and yearling preparation. Regular vendors at the Victorian yearling sales since the early 1980’s, John and Christine have sold colts such as Red Hot Major (WA Western Crown), Solid As A Rock ($163,530), Lanista ($107,415) and Badge Of Honour ($105,469) – all classics material – and fillies in the same class such as Vansumic ($268,649), one of the few mares to ever defeat Adore Me, and others. “We normally race the fillies that we breed and don’t keep many colts,” John stated. In a parting from tradition, the Yeomans have nominated two superbly bred fillies for the inaugural Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale to be held at Oaklands Junction in April 2021. The draft comprises A Rocknroll Dance filly out of Im Smouldering, a multiple Group winning Bettor’s Delight mare from the grand producer Red Hot Rita, and a Rock With Joe filly from the Art Major mare Koori Art, a daughter of the Oaks winner Indigenous. “Indigenous’s offspring have earned more than $518,000, while Red Hot Rita’s progeny have banked $512,000,” John said. And, judging on their pedigrees and the Yeomans’ track record, the two youngsters are a realistic chance of adding their names to the Homestead Farm honour roll.   by Peter Wharton

Having helped reshape harness racing from the boardroom to the track, Elizabeth Clarke has spoken about how "humbled" she was to have the Mares Triple Crown named in her honour. Ms Clarke sat with Tooth Be Told host Paul Campbell for a wide-ranging chat about her trots life, beginning with the illustrious mares three-week series - the Elizabeth Clark Mares Triple Crown - that kicks off at Tabcorp Park Melton on October 17. "It's an incredible honour - never in my imagination or my wildest dreams would I ever think there would be such an honour bestowed upon me - it just doesn't enter your mind," she said. "It's a magnificent series. I'm a big promoter or mares races anyway, because when I was first in the industry, which was many years ago now, there weren't very many high profile or high stakemoney races for mares. "To be involved, and so closely involved in a series like this, is just brilliant for the industry and brilliant for the people who have those mares to this standard of racing." Ms Clarke speaks about her trots origins, her husband Bruce's golden era with great Terang pacer Gammalite and her long-term service to the sport. LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW OF ELIZABETH CLARKE ON TOOTH BE TOLD: Trots Media - Harness Racing · Tooth Be Told: Elizabeth Clarke   Harness Racing Victoria

Redemption will be front of mind for Mick Stanley’s runners at Ballarat tonight, with the Burrumbeet trainer’s entrants out to make amends after last-start mishaps. Both Sayitaintso Joe and Soho Major Player are well positioned to put their problems in the past, particularly the aforementioned two-year-old, who will likely start favourite in the Natures Cargo Pace, which streams at 8.30pm on Trots Vision. After breaking gait and finishing 175 metres in arears in his only start, Sayitaintso Joe – the son of Group 3 winning mare Beach Shack – has had four months on the sidelines and transformed from a colt into a gelding. “He’s got a really good deal of ability,” Stanley said. “Obviously he did things wrong last start and so we’ve gelded him and turned him out and with time he’s maturing. He had two trials at Maryborough and trialed really well.” He returns tonight not amid a field of fellow two-year-olds but of much more seasoned pacers rated 51 to 54, including 10-year-old Our Summer Wind. “Going off Soho Bollinger and Lochinvar Chief, I think they have shown the two-year-olds can handle this class no worries,” Stanley said. “We are saying two-year-olds, but they would have been three-year-olds and I think that is why they are handling it so well. They’re a lot more mature and stronger. “A lot of two-year-olds are going 1.54 or 1.55 anyway, so in this 51-54 class they are only going 1.58 to 1.59 speed. “It’s a lot about him making sure he doesn’t make mistakes. If he does that then he will be a good show.” The other Stanley stable entrant tonight is Soho Major Player, who will contest the last at 9.23pm, the Lather Up @ Woodlands Stud 3YO Pace. Previously with Kim Prentice in Western Australia, Soho Major Player has joined the Burrumbeet stable to snap up her Vicbred first-win bonus before the Art Major filly is set for a broodmare career for owner-breeder Rob Watson. She debuted at Stawell on September 6, when the $2.50 favourite was the first thing beaten after pacing poorly throughout. “I had trouble steering her at Stawell,” Stanley said. “She got on one rein and unfortunately was running off the track the whole time. We have made gear changes and they look to have worked well.” She will start from gate two in tonight’s three-year-old fillies pace, directly inside likely favourite Keilah, and Stanley said he would let tempo dictate where he lands from the gate.“I don’t think it matters. With a small field you don’t particularly have to lead because you won’t settle far off them.” In addition to his own two starters Stanley will also take the reins of three others. That begins with Courtney Slater-trained Fremarkskuzo in the Cooke & Foley 3YO Trot. “When he puts it together he feels like he will win a couple of races. Last time out he had his best run since I’ve been driving him. If he continues to improve he will get his chance," Stanley said of Fremarkskuzo, who's still chasing his first top three placing. “It is an even three-year-old trot race. Saint Calder looks the stand out, but he is in the next tier.” Stanley will then follow up with Kevin Richard in the Nextra Wendouree Pace, but said the six-year-old “will need to improve” to feature, while his other drive, Jackierabbit, has a good draw in the Regent Entertainment Pace. Stanley said the pole marker was a “good each-way chance”.   HRV - Michael Howard

The battle for a place in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup beefs up at Bendigo on Saturday night, with an extraordinary field of open class pacers presenting to press their claims for the $300,000 October 10 feature. The presence of Victoria's fastest ever pacer, Lochinvar Art, hasn't dissuaded the challengers, with Emma Stewart in particular unleashing her talented team entering Hurricane Harley, Major Times and country cups kings Code Black and Shadow Sax to contest the $20,000 Vincent Standing @ Alabar Pace. And the quality in the 12-horse field extends much further, including talented David Aiken front-runner Reactor Now, who's won nine of 10, while Inter Dominion finalists My Kiwi Mate, Sicario and San Carlo will also have claims. Snapping at their heels will be Malcolms Rhythm, Idealsomemagic and Rackemup Tigerpie, in what shapes as the most hotly contested race on Victorian soil since February's Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Scheduled for the third race on the card at 7.02pm, it precedes an outstanding open class trot, with reigning Victorian horse of the year Tornado Valley to cross swords with fellow Group 1 winners Wobelee, Sundons Courage, Red Hot Tooth, Big Jack Hammer and Cruisin Around. Andy Gath's Miss Blissful completes the Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers Trot field. And the hits will keep coming on Saturday night. The flood of nominations from open class pacing free-for-allers resulted in the addition of a second 80 to 120 rating race, the TLC Carpentry Pace, where last-start winners Diamons N Cash, Sofala and Rocknroll Eyes will clash with A Fair Ol Dance, Form Analyst, Louis Sedgwick, Chris Svanosio's pair Repeat After Me and Mister Wickham, and Craig Demmler's duo Somebeach Shadow and Fake Smile. There will also be plenty of opportunity for the next big things to strut their stuff. The Simonds Homes Bendigo 2YO Pace draws together some of the class's best performed types this season, with all having broken their maiden status. Clayton Tonkin's Idyllic will look to turn the tables on David Moran's Lochinvar Chief, while Emma Stewart has entered unbeaten Beyond Delight and two-time winner Ideal Dan. Geoff Webster's Tuppence, Paddy Lee's Jilliby Retro and Moran's Ifitstobeitsuptome complete the field. Tailored Elegance and Powderkeg are among those locking horns in the TAB Long May We Play 3YO Trot, while the $20,000 mares feature - the Southern Cross Office Equipment Pace - will pit in-form Goodtime Heaven up against the likes of Amelia Rose and David Miles' pair Six Elements and Enchanted Stride. A class field has also assembled for the $20,000 Aldebaran Park Trot, where Kyvalley Chief will attempt to make it six-straight against the likes of Emerald Stride, Brandlo Prince and seasoned campaigner C K Spur. Then there's the Garrards Horse & Hound Pace, where talented youngster Mach Dan takes on mare Soho Nolita and Amanda Turnbull trio Sonny Weaver, Shoobee Doo and The Crimson Prince to name but a few who have fronted for the $20,000 sprint. CLICK HERE FOR FULL FIELDS   HRV - Michael Howard

The Whole Package is the only horse currently racing out of Peter Robertson’s Plumpton stables and he returned from a nasty virus in grand style first-up at Tabcorp Park on Friday. The five-year-old hadn’t been seen at the races since a third placing at Melton in mid-July, but was back to his best after recovering from the illness. Given a patient drive by Luke Tabone from barrier one, The Whole Package had a look for the lead early, but took cover after Son Of Major speared across from gate four. Tabone awaited the sprint lane run in the home straight and finished best to take out the Prydes Easifeed Pace (1720m). The success was the son of Sealed N Delivered’s fourth in a 25-run career, three of which have come since late last year. “He’s always had ability, but he’s one of those horses that if you can find trouble anywhere around the stable he’ll find it,” Robertson told SEN Track. “When he won (on July 1 at Melton), I didn’t think he got to the line as good as he should have and his next run after that he ran third. The next day he just coughed and coughed and coughed for about three or four days. “He had a real bad virus and that’s the reason he hasn’t been racing.” Among his other issues, The Whole Package chipped a sesamoid bone as a three-year-old and recently took plenty of skin off his body when getting his head stuck in a fence. Robertson said he felt good about the horse’s chances on Friday despite being the second outsider in the field of seven at $16. “I was fairly confident. He’d been treated and got through that good and been working probably better than what he had been,” Robertson said. “I said to Luke he could probably lead but if something is going to attack, let it go because he is first-up and just see what happens from there.” Tabone said he had planned to hold the front, but decided to take a sit when Ken Tippet shot for the front on Son Of Major. “It was really good to hop back on this bloke. He got pretty crook on the guys and they’ve done a good job to get him back and to win first-up was great,” he said. Success was shared around between trainers and drivers on Friday, but it was reinsman John Caldow that claimed the only winning double. Caldow partnered short-priced favourite Andover Sun - who is trained by wife Maree - to win the Niota Bloodstock 3YO Trot (2240m) and then Freddy Taiba-trained Kasbah Kid to take out the fast class event, the Hygain Pace (1720m).   HRV - Tim O'Connor

The Ride High express has rolled on with another astonishing performance, tearing home in 26.2 seconds on a rain-affected Terang track to leave jaws on the floor and rivals in his wake. In her first steer on Clayton Tonkin’s brilliant pacer, reinswoman Kate Gath lodged an 11th successive victory for Ride High, who cleared out to win the Christians Bus Gammalite Pace by 20 metres, hitting the line in a 1:53.8 mile rate that was just a clip outside the track record. Watch the race click here. “Wow, not sure what I was on then,” Gath told Trots Vision post-race. “That was the definition of horsepower.” Finishing in a 26.2-second final quarter to win comfortably ahead of Idealsomemagic, Gath said Ride High was as professional as he was brilliant. “He’s such a lovely horse, he just ambles along early, drops the bit, he pretty much just quickens himself when he needs to and when he does he just grabs the bit, puts his head down and wants to go,” Gath told Trots Vision. “Around that last corner I was low-flying. He was just doing it so easily and I was just basically there for the ride, hanging on. “Obviously everyone knows how good he is, but the feel he gives you because he just goes himself you don’t need to even really ask him. I haven’t driven a horse that’s given me the feel that he gave me tonight.” And that was despite things going a little off-script early, with stablemate and polemarker Out To Play galloping as the gates were released. Ride High, who started on Out To Play’s back, was unaffected, with Gath working straight into the running line and soon finding the front. “I was always coming one off so that wasn’t a problem,” Gath said. “He was so relaxed. I just had to tap him up a little bit to find the front, he was happy doing his own thing in front and as the race progressed he just quickened himself. He felt awesome.” It was a satisfying debut in the most prized chair in Australasian racing for Gath, with Ride High likely to only firm in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup market, with the $300,000 classic now less than a month away. “To get chosen by Clayton, (he and Emma Stewart) are just the best at what they do. I have so much respect for them, for him to say ‘drive my best horse’ is an absolute honour,” Gath said. “I just hope that he can continue. He’s just an excitement machine, he’s so relaxed early, he’s really all what you to have moving forward into the big races.”   HRV - Michael Howard

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