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Harness racing fans have a soft spot for Master Kiesey – and why wouldn’t you? The 13-year-old won his 19th race on Saturday at Maryborough’s non-TAB meeting, defeating Ballan Road by 3.4m in a rate of 2:08.9 over 2190m. Driven by Grant Campbell, Master Kiesey stepped superbly and led from start to finish at start number 310. “He’s been a great horse for us,” trainer Brian Kiesey said. “He’s as sound as a bell and he’s enjoying life and enjoying his races. He still gets around all the yearlings at home and gives them hell,” he quipped. Kiesey said Master Kiesey would race on next season as a 14-year-old. “We don’t knock him about. You never see him get hit with the whip. He eats well and he loves his racing,” he said. Kiesey said his philosophy was to give horses plenty of time to find their feet before taking them to the racetrack. He pointed to a trotter he is working with at the moment who has been in work for three years but is yet to race. “She’s never been to the track. When I first got her she was a lunatic. But now she’s easy to drive and she’s going to be pretty good when we get her to the racetrack.” He also mentioned Apple Beach, which he acquired from the Jayne Davies stable before turning her into a trotter. “I’ve just had to teach her to trot,” he said. “That’s what this season is all about. Next season will be about her winning races. “It took 18 months to get Apple Beach going, but now she’s leading and getting away nicely in races.” Despite her poor strike rate (one win from 50 starts), optimistic Kiesey says punters should keep following the daughter of Life Sign. “She’s the best horse I’ve had in 35 years. Next year it’ll be about her winning races.” By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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

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

Harness Racing Victoria was saddened to hear overnight of the passing of Don Dove at age 86. Dove was a masterful trainer over many years, posting regular victories at the Showgrounds and then later at Moonee Valley, including winning many feature races. Dove’s horses were always perfectly educated, his runners – donning the famous yellow and green crossed sashes silks – regularly standing confidently behind the tapes in the stand-start races at the Showgrounds before commencing quickly. Dove’s best horse was Monara, which was named Victorian Horse of the Year in 1973-74. Monara’s feature race victories included the A.G. Hunter Cup in 1973 and 1974, the Ballarat Cup in 1972 and the Bendigo Cup the same year. Other notable feature-race winners with which Dove was associated included Macaree (winner of the 1965 Warragul Cup), Kelly Kid (1967 Victoria Derby), Lauries Legacy (1996 Chris Howe Trotters Cup and 1996 Victoria Sires Stakes 4YO Trotters Final), Nelson’s Report (1965 Victoria Trotters Derby), Flecks (1994 Central Victorian Pacing Championship Final), Kara Mia (1995 Ladyship Cup) and Missing Charm (1998 Angelique Club Cup). He also trained noted metropolitan performers Jay Ar Ewing, Tis A Miss, Ebony Chick, Monara’s Image and Personality Pete. Dove competed in a non-betting legends’ handicap race at Moonee Valley on November 15, 1997, winning the race aboard Hazzas Hope (magazine excerpt picture below - Dove is pictured driving Hazzas Hope). Dove moved to Queensland in 1998. Dove’s last winner as trainer came with Laylite at Albion Park in 2003 and his last winner as a driver was at the Gold Coast aboard Waltzing in 2000. Sons Trevor and Stephen have each been highly credentialed reinsmen. HRV will advise funeral details when known. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The Redwood Carnival rolls into Maryborough this weekend for three days of top-notch trotting action. It all begins on Friday with an eight-race program kicking off at 12.45pm before racing continues on Saturday and Sunday. The on-track highlights will come on Sunday with the running of the time-honoured Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic for two-year-olds and the Group 1 Victoria Trotters Derby for three-year-olds. Music lovers are well catered for throughout the carnival, with Australian country music legend James Blundell and rising star Courtney Conway entertaining patrons on Saturday night and Conway backing up with a performance on Sunday after the last race. Friday night will see the annual Redwood Dinner Dance from 6.30pm featuring more live music, with overnight camping available for patrons from $10. Racegoers can also secure a camping spot on the Saturday night, following Saturday’s six-race trots program. Friday will see a Last Five Winners Jackpot of $500 up for grabs, with other prizes and giveaways for patrons throughout the day. The first race on Saturday will be at 11am, with a courtesy bus to and from the Maryborough post office. On Sunday a mammoth 10-race program will be run and won with the Group 1 Redwood Classic featuring some of the best up-and-coming two-year-old trotters from Australia and New Zealand. The Derby meanwhile has also attracted a bumper field, with in-form filly Claudys Princess to start from pole for champion reinsman Gavin Lang. Liberal candidate for Ripon Louise Staley said the three-day event was a great way to bring people together and attract them to Maryborough for a number of days. "This event is a fun way to support local jobs, the local econony, local entertainers and the local racing industry," Ms Staley said. "The Victorian Coalition Government's Raceday Attraction Program will provide $17,227 towards the event, with the Maryborough Harness Racing Club contributing $6479 and Harness Racing Victoria contributing $5832. In-kind donations totalling $4850 have also been provided through the club." The Raceday Attraction Program, part of the Coalition Government's Victorian Racing Industry Fund, aims to attract people back to the state's racetracks and target new audiences through partnering with the local community. HRV Media

As brilliant as Birdy Mach might be, harness racing punters won’t be ignoring the undefeated Andy Gath-trained Burnaholeinmypocket in the Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes for 2YO colts and geldings on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. The son of Bettors Delight boasts impeccable form lines; beating subsequent Group 1 winners despite starting from awkward draws and working in the run at both his starts to date. Burnaholeinmypocket sprouted wings late in his debut race, beating Justbritell (winner of the Shakamaker Classic at Melton in March) by 1.9m and Feeling Arty (winner of the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series colts’ and geldings’ final) by 7.3m. At start number two, Burnaholeinmypocket drifted a long way back early from gate seven before getting caught three-wide with no cover on the last lap. Despite covering a stack of ground from the bell to the finish post, Burnaholeinmypocket still proved 1.7m too good for Waves Of Fire, who would go on to win the Group 1 Nursery Final at Albion Park in 1:58.4. “He’s pretty gifted,” Gath said of his fledgling gelding. Asked if gate one was a definite bonus, the Long Forest trainer responded: “Always”, adding: “He had the second row at his first start and then seven at his second. I think he’ll hold his own out of the gate. Whether or not he can hold out Birdy Mach, we’ll wait and see, but my bloke’s shown he’s very strong.” Birdy Mach is the likely thorn in Burnaholeinmypocket’s side; the Sydney colt unbeaten in two runs at Menangle and from the powerful Belinda McCarthy yard at Cobbitty. Such is the boom about the son of Mach Three that champion reinsman Luke McCarthy said on Tuesday: “He’s right up there with the best two-year-olds I’ve ever driven”. Birdy Mach has blitzed his rivals in two runs so far, and on debut last month he clocked a 1:53.8 mile rate (last half 55.7secs). Saturday’s Tatlow field is full of top-quality youngsters including Kept Under Wraps, winner of three of five starts and a member of the Brent Lilley team, David Aiken-trained Show Me The Bling, runner-up in his Vicbred Super Series semi-final and the final, and Feeling Arty, who provided trainer-driver Cameron Maggs with his maiden Group 1 success recently in the Super Series at Melton. Gath will line up Looks Like Heaven in the fillies’ Tatlow Stakes and, like her stable-mate in the boys’ section, she’s drawn sweetly. The daughter of Lombo Mandingo will begin from pole if emergency Bubbling Gypsy fails to gain a start. Looks Like Heaven won on debut at Kilmore before trekking north on a Bathurst Gold Tiara mission. She won her Tiara heat by 8.8m but galloped in the final and finished down the track. “She’s going through a growth spurt at the moment ... We’ll see how she goes on Saturday and make a decision on the Breeders Crown after that,” Gath said. Team McCarthy filly Smooth Showgirl resumes in this race from gate 12 after winning the Group 1 Nursery fillies’ final at Albion Park in May. Also off the back row will be highly rated Kiwi Katy Perry, to be steered by Dexter Dunn, and Michael Stanley’s exciting Soho Tokyo, who ran second beaten a head by Tricky Styx in the 2YO Diamond Classic at Gloucester Park last time out. Hamilton trainer David Lewis will line up Luvumum in the Tatlow, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear boasting a one-from-one record after a sensational debut win at Melton in the Sapling Stakes. Luvumum was backed into $1.70 before scoring by 15.2m over Viva Safari in 1:57.6 in the February race. She’s pretty good. Punters aren’t generally a forgiving lot, so one suspects Lovelist might be on the drift. The Emma Stewart-trained Always A Virgin filly was rolled in the Vicbred Super Series semi-final after being sent out a $1.20 pop and then was beaten 11.8m in the final. Her previous form (four wins from four starts) was solid. The Tatlow Stakes races will be Races 5 and 6 at 7.32pm and 8.05pm. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 19 July 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 19 July 2014

Birdy Mach might be the best two-year-old Luke McCarthy has ever driven, the champion harness racing reinsman says.  The unbeaten Mach Three colt went 1:53.8 to win on debut last month before making it two from two at Menangle on July 1.  Birdy Mach will contest the colts and geldings' Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes (Group 2) this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. He has drawn gate two for the 2240m event, alongside unbeaten polemarker Burnaholeinmypocket from the Andy Gath stable.  “He’s really good. On raw ability he’s right up there with the best two-year-olds I’ve driven,” McCarthy said. “He’s pretty special. “He’s still got a bit to learn but we wanted to get him down to Melbourne to settle in before the Breeders Crown and the Tatlow looks a really nice race.”  Birdy Mach's first lifetime start Smooth Showgirl will also head to the Breeders Crown via the Tatlow Stakes for fillies, the Art Major youngster put away for a spell after winning the Group 1 Nursery Final at Albion Park in May.  “We turned her out after the Nursery, elected to bypass the Vicbred and head straight to the Breeders,” McCarthy said.  “She’s had a couple of trials at home and won them both. She’ll be in good order.”  Todd McCarthy will steer both horses at Melton this weekend while Luke pilots stable big guns Chilli Palmer and Bling It On at Albion Park.  Bling It On has won eight straight races and will be a hot favourite in the Queensland Derby on Saturday night.  “He’s a great horse. Let’s hope he can make it nine from nine this week and then we’ll head to the Breeders Crown head up there next Friday,” McCarthy said.  Chilli Palmer will race in the Group 3 4YO Championship after his last-start win last Saturday night at Albion Park.  By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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

Harness Racing Victoria commentator Craig Rail is tipping Mildura trainer Shayne Cramp to dominate his hometown meeting tonight. Rail has tipped Cramp to win seven of the eight races on the program. The one race he doesn’t have a Cramp runner on top in is Race 2, where he’s tipped the Cramp stable to finish second and third. Rail has Cramp winning Race 1 with Boltenin ($2.30), Race 3 with Glen Alpine Drive ($1.30), Race 4 with Soho Jagger ($2.20), Race 5 with Philtra Phella ($1.90), Race 6 with Hargrave ($1.50), Race 7 with Intransit ($3) and Race 8 with Cenosilocophobia ($2.40). HRV Media

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

Allies Mate made it two wins from two starts in impressive style at Shepparton on Tuesday night. The Jason Donohoe trained-and-driven son of Mcardle sat parked throughout in the 2190m second heat of the Congram Livestock Transport Vicbred Platinum Country Series A, dashing clear in the home straight for a 10.4m win. Despite doing the lion’s share of the work Allies Mate was cruising at the home turn, David Farrar-trained Arriens looming up strongly into second but no match for the winner. Donohoe sat quietly on Allies Mate, which was sent out second favourite behind odds-on pop Royal Hustler, and had a sustained look around at the home turn to sum up the situation. Once he flicked the reins, it was lights out for his rivals and Allies Mate broke clear to record a winning mile rate of 2:00.7 (last half in 57.6 and last quarter 27.6). Donohoe said the horse had trained on well after its first-up win and once the favourite was out of play on Tuesday night, he was confident he could get the job done. “He had trained on well after that first win. The favourite was sort of the only one I was really worried about,” the Marong trainer said. Arriens held on for second for junior driver Mark Pitt, while Black Jasmin was third for Haydon Gray. Royal Hustler galloped at the start and missed the kick badly, failing to make up ground and finishing down the track. Allies Mate became punters’ foe on debut at Bendigo last month when he defeated long odds-on favourite Kept Under Wraps at cricket score odds. On the strength of Tuesday night’s triumph, he won’t be starting at huge odds again anytime soon. Meanwhile, trainer-driver Donna Castles finally broke through for win number three with her four-year-old Lombo Mandingo mare Tennaya. Tennaya, $1.80 on Tuesday night, had endured a frustrating run of second-place finishes, coming in runner-up at six of its past seven starts. But she finally broke through, proving 2.6m too strong for nearest rival Liams Lass (Jim O’Sullivan) despite punching the breeze throughout. Tennaya ran 2:01.4 for the mile rate with a last half of 58.4. The Truth took out the Finley Bowling Club and Finley RSC Trotters Handicap at his first run back from a spell for Kari Males and Paul Males, narrowly edging out race favourite Kains Boy in the first race. Chris Lang trained and drove the winner of the second, the Kelly Grain Trot, with Aldebaran Eastwood, which started $3.10. David Aiken and son Josh Aiken combined to win the McNaughts Transport Pace over 1690m with polemarker Wounded, which led all the way to score by 1.3m over Royal Deviate. Maree Caldow and John Caldow had success in the Tuppal Hotel 3YO Pace with Lost In Bangkok, the gelding saluting by 5.9m in a rate of 1:58.3 over Arrokeefe. And Raylan Gibbins gave driver Nathan Jack victory in the Euroa Excavation Pace for trainer Melinda Thackeray. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria was saddened to hear of the weekend passing of Bill Hanson. Bill was an immensely popular harness racing man, whose enthusiasm and affability was infectious to all he met. Bill was a life member of Harness Breeders Victoria and he and wife Margaret were principals of Homevale Stud at Fern Hill. The stud stood many stallions and in 1990 purchased the legendary Maori’s Idol for stud duties, where he stayed until his death in 2006. Bill was an inaugural inductee into the VHRMA Hall of Fame in 2009. Officials from Bendigo and Mildura harness racing clubs spoke glowingly of Bill and his association with the sport. Mildura Club Manager Mark Kemp said Bill and Margaret would never miss a Mildura Cup Carnival. “They’d roll into town on the Monday and catch up with friends and they’d stay the whole week. Then they’d go home after the cup night on the Sunday,” Kemp said. “They formed very strong bonds with many up here in Mildura over the years.” Bill and Margaret would sponsor the Mildura Trotters’ Cup for several years and in 2013 the race was named in their honour. Mildura HRC will honour Bill at next Tuesday night’s Mildura meeting by naming a race after him. Bill also had a long and loyal association with the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, where he was a life member. Bendigo harness racing stalwart Des Rothacker, a long-time friend of Bill, said he would be missed. “He was very committed,” Rothacker said. “He requested Maori’s Idol be buried at the track. Just as you go into the club you can see a placard on the fence there about Maori’s Idol. That was at Bill’s request and the club was only too pleased to do it. “He had a lot of friends here. He donated a free service to one of his stallions for many years. “He enjoyed life and was a very good bloke and very good friend.” HRV CEO John Anderson said: “The industry is saddened to hear of Bill Hanson’s passing. He was a great friend of harness racing in Victoria and will be sorely missed. HRV sends its condolences to Margaret and family.” The funeral service for Bill will be held at the Thomas J. Scott Memorial Chapel in Piper St, Kyneton, on Friday, July 11, at 2.30pm. A burial at the Tylden Cemetery will follow. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The secret to a long and happy life is a lot simpler than you think, according to Rockbank’s Alan McLean. A well-known harness racing trainer in the west, Mr McLean celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday, with the love of his life, Eunice, 91. The couple live in the same home they built more than 70 years ago. Mrs McLean said they were both keen dancers, who met in 1943 at a dance in Melbourne and married the following year. The couple never had children but have spent their lives travelling, dancing, horse training and gardening. The couple this year also celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Mr McLean’s birthday was acknowledged by Harness Racing Victoria last Friday at Tabcorp Park with a race named in his honour. Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun

Strong crowds brave wintry conditions and are rewarded with action-packed nights of harness racing. Tabcorp Park Melton hosted two huge nights of Group 1 action on Friday and Saturday nights with strong crowds braving the wintry conditions to see top-class racing. Leading trainer David Aiken, who has 34 metropolitan wins this season and an unassailable lead on the Victorian metropolitan trainers’ premiership table, was the star of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals nights, training three Group 1 winners.   Aiken finished with four winners overall – a double both nights – and his son, Josh, drove his first Group 1 winner aboard the stable’s gun juvenile trotter Eljaykay Phoenix, which took out the two-year-old trotters’ Super Series final.   “It was unreal. We went in with one of the two winning chances in the race and I suppose the barrier draw really put things in our favour,” said Josh.   The 21-year-old reinsman delivered the perfect drive aboard Eljaykay Phoenix, working the son of Sundon to the lead early before handing up to Jodi Quinlan’s Illawong Armstrong with a lap to go.   Eljaykay Phoenix worked away from the inside approaching the home turn and put Illawong Armstrong to the sword, Aiken guiding the gelding to a 5.4m win.   The Aiken stable’s exciting four-year-old Lennytheshark provided many punters with their weekend highlight, the rising superstar defeating Guaranteed on Saturday night to capture the four-year-old males’ Vicbred crown.   Driven by Bolinda reinsman Chris Alford, who steered home three Group 1 winners over the two nights, Lennytheshark scored by 6.1m over his arch nemesis Guaranteed, that pair coming away from the rest of the field by almost 20m.   The crowd was clearly thrilled with the result, cheering loudly as Lennytheshark crossed the line in a mile rate of 1:56.0.   Kerryn Manning suffered a fall in the race, catapulted out of the cart when Boyz Torque fell at the first turn.   Typically tough Manning walked away from the incident with just a bloodied nose, while the horse galloped on and was quickly brought under control by the clerk of the course.   The Aiken stable’s other Group 1 winner was champion mare Spidergirl in the four-year-old female trotters’ final.   Again driven by Alford, Spidergirl defeated Paris Pepperell by 7.3m on Friday night, with that pair spacing the remainder of the field.   Alford’s third Group 1 victory came aboard Messini in the three-year-old pacing boys’ final for trainer Brent Lilley on Saturday night.   Gun drivers Gavin Lang and Greg Sugars walked away from the weekend with a Group 1 double, Lang piloting Claudys Princess to victory for trainer Mick Blackmore in the three-year-old fillies’ final and My Bella Starr home for trainer Adam Kelly in the three-year-old fillies’ pacers, while Sugars caused an upset aboard Peter Cormican-trained Imamenace in the three-year-old male trotters’ final on Friday night and backed it up the next night aboard Niki No No from the Kari Males stable in the two-year-old fillies’ pacers final.   Other Group 1 winners were Feeling Arty for Euroa trainer-driver Cameron Maggs in the two- year-old pacing boys’ final, Pressplay for trainer Rebecca Cartwright and driver Amanda Turnbull in the four-year-old mares pacers’ final, Endsino for Andy and Kate Gath in the two-year-old trotting fillies’ final and Vincennes for New South Wales trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick in the four-year-old males’ trotting final.   Twelve Group 1 races were contested over the two nights.   CODY WINNELL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA

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

How good is Keayang Cullen? The 'Terang Terminator' said hasta la vista to harness racing superstar Smoken Up and a field of other strong free-for-all horses in tonight’s Melton City Council Sprint over 1720m. Glen Craven said post-race the Marg Lee-trained gelding was improving with every race and tonight had won comfortably. “We didn’t take him up to Brisbane … instead there are plenty of good races down here at the moment so we’ll keep hopefully picking them off,” he said. “The first aim will be the Breeders Crown Free for All. “Hopefully he can continue improving with each run.” Keayang Cullen went 1:53.9 tonight, finding the lead easily from his wide front-row draw before reeling off comfortable sectional times of 28.8secs, 30.6secs, 27.8secs and 27.7secs. Scott Stewart trained-and-driven Bitobliss showed a win isn’t far off with a strong second placing, while superstar veteran Smoken Up battled on for third after punching the breeze throughout. Keayang Cullen   by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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