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Back in 2005, Chris Frisby realised one of his major harness racing dreams. His talented son of Fake Left, Dinki Di, a family-bred gelding, won the Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst. “For 18 years I have been trying to win this race,” Frisby said at the time. “I knew Shirley a long time before that and she was just a lovely, lovely lady.” Thirteen years later and Frisby still recalls fondly that victory, but says a TAB Inter Dominion start is challenging that day as a personal harness highlight. His five-year-old gelding Our Uncle Sam last night jumped into the ID18 pacing final courtesy of a slashing second behind Tiger Tara in the third-round heat at Cranbourne. “I’m so rapt. I have to slap myself in the face to tell if it’s real,” he said. “You always dream of an Inter Dominion runner. “I’ve always said Inter Dominion, Hunter Cup, Derbies, Oaks and the Shirley Turnbull Memorial are the races I want to win. “The last one some may not have heard of, but I won it with Dinki Di and that was probably my biggest thrill. We smashed the track record and it was a race I always wanted to win.” Our Uncle Sam qualified for the TAB ID18 final by running fourth on opening night at Melton, seven at Ballarat when covering ground throughout and a fast-finishing second on night three. Frisby's son Anthony drives the horse. And another stride and he probably would have pipped Tiger Tara at the weekend. “I might have took my head off and put a pumpkin on, but I’ve always thought that we’d be a chance in the Inter Dominion with the right run,” Frisby said. “He’s going good enough and I don’t think I’ve ever had him any better than he is now. He’s made the jump, but you always need luck in running.” Check out the full list of ID18 standings Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The morning after three of his horses secured berths in TAB Inter Dominion grand finals, passionate trots owner Dom Martello is both dreaming of an ID18 trophy and studying pedigrees for future sales. “I bought all these horses as yearlings,” he says proudly, pointing at the fact that last night and this morning he’s been delving into the breeding and studying the type of horses like Spankem as he plans for future members of his equine Hammer team. Martello will attend tomorrow morning’s TAB ID18 barrier draws at Zinc, Federation Square, where he’ll be hoping to draw successful gates for his two pacers, Wrappers Delight and Mach Doro, and his trotting star Big Jack Hammer for Saturday night’s grand finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Martello said Wrappers Delight had especially been taking him on the ride of his life in recent times, the David Aiken-trained pacer securing feature wins such as the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, the Hygain Breeders Crown Championship, TAB Smoken Up Sprint and Cogs Services 4YO & 5YO Championship. “Wrappers in particular has been going through the dream list and ticking them off one by one, but this race (the Inter Dominion) is different,” Martello said. “I feel like if you win a race like the Inter Dominion then you go down in history. This is one race that you actually dare to dream.” Martello reserved special praise for young driver Kima Frenning (pictured above with Wrappers Delight by Ashlea Brennan), who has piloted both Wrappers Delight and Big Jack Hammer throughout their ID18 heats and helped secure both grand final berths. “One thing I especially like about Kima Frenning is she doesn’t have an ego. She’s hard working, positive and has talent. People like that just need a chance,” he said. Mach Doro is trained by Craig Cross and driven by star Sydney based reinsman Luke McCarthy. Tomorrow’s barrier draw will be live on Sky Racing 1, RSN and Sky Sports Radio from 9am, hosted by Greg Hayes and Adam Hamilton. From 6am until 10am RSN will broadcast live from Federation Square for the ID18 event, with roving panels and guests, including a half-hour Super Panel from 9.30am of Michael Felgate, Dan Mielicki, Jason Bonnington, Andy Gath and Adam Hamilton deep-diving into the form for the deciders. Head to the banks of the Yarra near Zinc to check out the show live, which will also feature HRV HERO ambassadors.  Check out the final TAB ID18 Standings   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

A positive barrier draw on Monday morning could shift the TAB Inter Dominion market momentum back the way of New South Wales harness racing superstar Tiger Tara. One month after a heartbreaker in the New Zealand Trotting Cup, when Tiger Tara basically deserved to win but didn’t, the stable that pipped the Kevin Pizzuto trained eight-year-old just may stand between him and top-level success again. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen put the polish on exciting four-year-old Spankem, whose maturity belies his age, and Cruz Bromac, unbeaten in this year’s ID18 series to date. But if Tiger Tara’s connections pull the best marble, he could be the favourite with TAB.com.au by Monday lunchtime. “It’s going to come down to the draw, but I just have to say a few prayers and hope for a good alley,” Tiger Tara’s driver Todd McCarthy said. Rasmussen has an envious decision to make. It’s a tough call, but you’d prefer to have the choice than not. She can pick either Spankem or Cruz Bromac (pictured by Stuart McCormick) for next Saturday night’s $500,000 Group 1. “I don’t even know,” she said when quizzed which rein she would pull. “I will put them in a hat and draw one out. They are both just beautiful horses, neither of them would be a bad drive. They are both genuine winning chances, they’ve got everything. They’ve both got speed, they’ve both got strength. You couldn’t split them.” McCarthy believes the 2760m of the grand final will suit Tiger Tara. “He’s very tough. The distance is going to play into his hands. One thing’s for sure he’s going to do his best for us,” he said. Cruz Bromac produced the fastest mile rate tonight with a 1:56.5 run to defeat Im Pats Delight by 4.4m Post-race Gavin Lang told Sky’s Adam Hamilton if you reversed the runs of the winner and the second horse, the result would change, too. Im Pats Delight is certainly getting better all the time. Monday's barrier draws will occur at Zinc, Federation Square, from 9am, and will be broadcast live on Sky Racing 1, Sky Sports Radio and RSN.  To watch the video replays click on this link. Trots Media - Michael Howard       6 8:33pm TAB INTER DOMINION PACING CHAMPIONSHIP (3RD ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 1) (GROUP 3) 2555M $30,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPANKEM NZ      Sr2 9 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen   $ 1.50 fav  PRS 3WE L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 4 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of CRUSHEM (NZ) (HOLMES HANOVER USA)  Owner(s): G J Kennard, P I Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, J A Gibbs, A Gibbs, G A Woodham, K J Woodham  Breeder(s): R K Wah, G Wah 2 GALACTIC STAR NZ      Sr3 10 G F J Bond, S A Bond Todd McCarthy 7.70 $ 8.50   T/F$ 3WM 2 SWAB 3 JOES STAR OF MIA      Fr1 1 Steve Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 8.00 $ 7.00   PRS PH 5 4 MAXIMAN NZ      Fr5 5 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 8.50 $ 17.90   PRS PRU GS WC L SLM 3 5 WRAPPERS DELIGHT      Sr1 8 David Aiken Kima Frenning 11.00 $ 5.70   PRS PH 7 6 MISTER WICKHAM      Fr6 6 Lee Evison Gavin Lang 16.20 $ 77.20   INC 6 7 MAGICAL MARN NZ      Fr4 4 Adam Kelly Zac Phillips 20.80 $ 112.00   RAS 8 8 TEE CEE BEE MACRAY      Fr3 3 Jess Tubbs Greg Sugars 26.30 $ 82.30   PRS RAS 11 9 JOHN OF ARC NZ      Fr2 2 Clive Dalton Neil McCallum 39.40 $ 138.00   9 10 FREYBERG NZ      Fr7 7 Kevin Pizzuto Jason Grimson 44.80 $ 144.00   GS UCL RR D/CEP 4 D/CBOCS QDT   7 9:03pm TAB INTER DOMINION PACING CHAMPIONSHIP (3RD ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 2) (GROUP 3) 2555M $30,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TIGER TARA NZ      Fr4 4 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy   $ 1.20 fav  PRS PRU 3WE L 1 SWAB   BAY HORSE 8 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of TARA GOLD (NZ) (DREAM AWAY USA)  Owner(s): M Hawli, C L Pizzuto, K J Pizzuto, T N Pizzuto  Breeder(s): R P (Raymond) Anicich 2 OUR UNCLE SAM      Sr1 8 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 1.10 $ 28.00   PRS 5 HUE USL SWAB 3 SAN CARLO      Sr4 11 Stephen O'Donoghue Rebecca Bartley 3.80 $ 8.20   4WE 3WE OLM 2 4 CANT REFUSE NZ      Fr1 1 Matthew Craven Matthew Craven 6.40 $ 11.60   GS WC L SLE 3 HI CMP 5 CONVICTION      Fr3 3 Steve Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 8.00 $ 55.90   7 6 MY ALPHA ROCK NZ      Fr7 7 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 11.30 $ 68.10   4WE 3WE 4 7 MACH DORO      Sr2 9 Craig Cross Luke McCarthy 12.90 $ 38.10   8 8 YAYAS HOT SPOT NZ      Sr3 10 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Jody Jamieson 14.80 $ 131.00   PRS 3WET RES PH 9 HUE 9 BAD BILLY      Fr6 6 Gary Lawlor Jason Lee 15.70 $ 109.00   RAS 10 10 MOTU METEOR NZ      Fr5 5 Kerryn Manning Kerryn Manning 17.80 $ 66.30   3WE RES 11 11 AUDI HARE NZ      Fr2 2 David Aiken David Moran 18.70 $ 41.80   PRS GS UCL 6 QUER VXAR Scratchings All started Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:06:0 Mile Rate: 1:57:1 Lead Time: 69.2 First Quarter: 30.5 Second Quarter: 31.5 Third Quarter: 26.6 Fourth Quarter: 28.2 Margins: 1.1m x 2.7m        Play 8 9:33pm TAB INTER DOMINION PACING CHAMPIONSHIP (3RD ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 3) (GROUP 3) 2555M $30,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 CRUZ BROMAC NZ      Fr3 4 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen   $ 1.10 fav  T/CG PRS 3WM L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 7 by FALCON SEELSTER USA out of CROWN DEFENDER NZ (LIFE SIGN USA)  Owner(s): D Zavitsanos, P M O'Shea, Z D O'Shea, J Zavitsanos, W R Viney  Breeder(s): Bromac Lodge Ltd 2 IM PATS DELIGHT NZ      Sr1 8 Cran Dalgety Gavin Lang 4.40 $ 8.10   PRU INCSU RRSU OPS NAT 4 SWAB 3 VILLAGE WITCH      Fr6 7 Jason Grimson Jason Grimson 7.90 $ 89.10   PRS RAS 8 SWAB 4 ELLMERS IMAGE NZ      Fr5 6 Amanda Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 12.50 $ 76.10   RAS 9 5 CASH N FLOW NZ      Fr4 5 Craig Cross Luke McCarthy 13.90 $ 44.40   PRS 3WE 6 6 IM THE BOSS      Sr2 9 David Aiken Kima Frenning 14.50 $ 12.40   PRS 3WE INC L SLM 3 7 HICKSTEAD NZ      Fr1 1 John Justice John Justice 21.30 $ 43.50   GS L HO SLE 5 8 IDEAL SUCCESS NZ      Sr3 10 Kerryn Manning Kerryn Manning 23.40 $ 115.00   7 9 MATTGREGOR NZ      Fr2 2 Chantal Turpin Pete McMullen 47.60 $ 32.40   PRS GS C 2 HI GG VXAR Scratchings   FRANCO NELSON NZ 3 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:05:0 Mile Rate: 1:56:5 Lead Time: 68.8 First Quarter: 29.5 Second Quarter: 31.7 Third Quarter: 26.5 Fourth Quarter: 28.5 Margins: 4.4m x 3.5m  

For the first time something went wrong in Tornado Valley’s campaign and even it couldn’t stop the talented harness racing trotter completing a clean sweep of its TAB Inter Dominion trotting heats. Despite a loose bandage flailing in the straight Andy and Kate Gath’s Long Forrest trotter produced a 16th win in 18 starts, then Speeding Spur reaffirmed his status by controlling the second heat. And with that the final 12 booked their places in next Saturday’s trotting Grand Final at Tabcorp Park Melton, with that select dozen unchanged by tonight’s proceedings. The final qualifiers were Tornado Valley (48 points), Speeding Spur (43), Save Our Pennys (39), Big Jack Hammer (35), Kyvalley Blur (30), Tough Monarch (29), Red Hot Tooth (26), Monty Python (24), Sky Petite (23), Kingdom Come (22), Rompers Monarchy (21) and Wilmas Mate (20), with Illawong Armstrong (18) the first emergency. But while there is a big 12, looming even larger is the big two and, perhaps, in Tornado Valley the big one. “He didn’t miss a beat,” reinswoman Kate Gath said. “He’s always had a great gait. He does get on the bit a little bit, particularly over the longer trip, but it doesn’t seem to affect him. In the straight he just goes. “He seems to have come through the runs very well and so far so good. Obviously we would like a front row draw in the final, but whatever happens happens and I’m glad I’ve got him. “If he draws poorly it will make things a hell of a lot harder, but he is versatile so it’s not the end of the world.” The 6.3-metre win was established with a 27.8 third quarter after a hearty breather in the second quarter (32.2) that helped ensure the win was never in doubt, with Save Our Pennys advancing from three pegs to run second and Red Hot Tooth ensuring her finals place with third after a bold early lead. The horse most likely to prevent the trotting championship being Tornado Valley’s plaything remains Speeding Spur, with Josh and John Dickie’s near-million-dollar trotter registering a second heat win tonight after finding the front and getting home in 58.8 seconds. “It’s been a good round of heats for him,” reinsman Josh Dickie said. “When he ran third the other night it was still a great run, so heading into the final next Saturday we couldn’t be happier. “He’s such a great horse to drive, he’s just always underneath you and he will run when you want him too. “I thought all three heats he’s been really good, he probably doesn’t look as impressive at time but he gets the job done. The 2700 (metres) at Melton next week is going to be right up his alley, especially if they are going hard.” Big Jack Hammer ran a bold second to Speeding Spur from three pegs with Illawong Armstrong’s third placing from leader’s back drawing him within two points of a finals berth and earning him first emergency status for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. To watch the video replays click on this link. Trots Media - Michael Howard 4 7:31pm TAB INTER DOMINION TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP (3RD ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 1) (GROUP 3) 2555M $20,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr3 4 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 1.10 fav  PRU GS L SLE L PH 1 SWAB T/F$   BAY GELDING 7 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): N R (Norm) Jenkin  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SAVE OUR PENNYS      Fr1 1 Graeme Lang Gavin Lang 6.30 $ 6.00   PRS GS 5 SWAB 3 RED HOT TOOTH      Fr4 6 Kari Males Zac Phillips 9.30 $ 34.70   GS L SLE 3 4 TOUGH MONARCH      Sr2 9 Rickie Alchin Rickie Alchin 10.60 $ 19.60   PRS 4 D/F$ 5 ALDERBECK NZ      Sr1 8 Phil Williamson Anthony Butt 13.60 $ 42.10   6 6 FATHER CHRISTMAS NZ      Fr2 2 Brent Lilley Greg Sugars 14.00 $ 40.60   PH 7 HU INC 7 WILMAS MATE NZ      Sr3 10 Tim Butt John Caldow 26.20 $ 71.00   B 8 INC SCT 8 SKY PETITE      Sr4 11 Michael Stanley Ryan Duffy 63.60 $ 65.00   PRS 9 INC CTS B NAT 9 KOWHAI MONARCH NZ      Fr5 7 J A Rando, M J Rando Todd McCarthy 80.00 $ 109.00   PRS 3WE 2 BUP Scratchings   MAORI LAW 3 OUR TWENTYTEN NZ 5   Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:12:8 Mile Rate: 2:01:5 Lead Time: 73.4 First Quarter: 30.1 Second Quarter: 32.2 Third Quarter: 27.8 Fourth Quarter: 29.3 Margins: 6.3m x 3.0m     5 8:00pm TAB INTER DOMINION TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP (3RD ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 2) (GROUP 3) 2555M $20,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Fr2 2 J W Dickie, J I Dickie Josh Dickie   $ 1.20 fav  PRS GS L 1 SWAB   BAY HORSE 7 by PEGASUS SPUR CA out of DELLA'S SPEED (NZ) (CHIOLA HANOVER USA)  Owner(s): Woodlands Partnership Syndicate, K J Read, A M Ellis, R J Tayler, D Hewett  Breeder(s): Woodlands Stud Ltd 2 BIG JACK HAMMER      Sr1 8 David Aiken Kima Frenning 1.60 $ 13.50   PRS 5 HUE USL SWAB 3 ILLAWONG ARMSTRONG      Fr1 1 Jodi Quinlan Jodi Quinlan 4.10 $ 25.90   PH 3 USL 4 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr5 5 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 4.80 $ 6.80   PRS PRU 3WE 3WET 3WM 4 5 MONTY PYTHON NZ      Sr4 11 Phil Williamson Anthony Butt 6.70 $ 78.60   3WMT 3WL W1 6 KHEIRON      Fr6 6 Peter Lane Chris Lang 10.20 $ 117.00   RAS 7 7 KINGDOM COME NZ      Fr7 7 Andy Gath Kate Gath 12.40 $ 48.80   PRS GS 8 8 FABRICATION      Sr2 9 David Abrahams Gavin Lang 13.00 $ 71.90   3WM 2 9 ENROLLED      Fr3 3 Brent Lilley Josh Duggan 13.30 $ 66.90   3WE 3WM 6 QDT 10 ROMPERS MONARCHY NZ      Fr4 4 J A Rando, M J Rando David Morris 20.10 $ 157.00   PH 10 11 KING DENNY NZ      Sr3 10 Michael Gadsden Denbeigh Wade 148.10 $ 201.00   PRS 12 HO B Scratchings All started Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:12:6 Mile Rate: 2:01:3 Lead Time: 73.1 First Quarter: 30.7 Second Quarter: 30 Third Quarter: 29 Fourth Quarter: 29.8 Margins: 1.6m x 2.5m    

As good as Pats Delight has been during this Inter Dominion series trainer Cran Dalgety admits he is probably running for second tonight. And that will be fine by him as the heats of the series draw to a conclusion at Cranbourne. All five heats, two for the trotters and three for the pacers, have red hot favourites and it is hard to make much of a case for any of them to get beaten. Tornado Valley (first trotting heat) and Speeding Spur (second) look set to lead and win, with more interest in which one draws inside the other for next Saturday's final when the draws are made on Monday morning. The pacing heats also have three hotpots, two of them Kiwi-trained in Spankem (first of tonight's pacing heats) and Cruz Bromac (last) while Tiger Tara looks like leading and winning the middle heat. But while Cruz Bromac is expected to do the same, he at least has a quality fellow Kiwi opponent in Im Pats Delight (Aust name), who has been one of the surprise packages of this series and has emerged as one of maybe only five winning chances in next Saturday's A$500,000 final. "He has been super and is thriving over here," says Dalgety about the Canterbury four-year-old. "I'm glad we made the choice to come, it was very up in the air at one stage, because he is loving the racing style here and I think the trip will make him." After smashing his opponents, and the clock, winning his heat at Ballarat on Tuesday it is impossible to completely dismiss Pats Delight even from his second line draw over the 2555m mobile but Dalgety is realistic about the task ahead. "Cruz Bromac looks the leader and to be honest the winner," he says. "And the way he is racing and knowing Natalie (Rasmussen) won't hand up there is no point us taking off and sticking it to him mid race. "So we might end up parked and if we did then second would probably be a good result." Cruz Bromac is looking to go through the heats unbeaten and his already high chances improved when veteran Franco Nelson, who looked his only rival for the lead, was scratched out of the series yesterday. While four of tonight's hotpots should lead and win the most interesting heat tonight should be watching how Spankem overcomes his second line draw. He has at least some genuine competition in fellow heat winners Wrappers Delight and Galactic Star but if he races up to his two huge performances in the series so far he should win and could even be close to favourite for the final should he draw well on Monday.   Michael Guerin

The door is slightly ajar. Queensland pacer Mattgregor still has a chance of qualifying for the Gr.1 $500,000 TAB Inter Dominion Grand Final at Melton next Saturday. He sits right on the precipice. But the Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen trained gelding needs a top three finish in the final round of heats at Cranbourne tomorrow night (Saturday) to stamp his ticket to the big dance next week. And then rely on other results. “I suppose we’re still in the mix to sneak into the final but he needs to race well this weekend to show he deserves his place in the final, a top three finish would propel our chances of qualifying. We’re in the final heat so at least we should know what’s required to get us into the final by that stage.” Turpin said. Mattgregor sits 16th, currently ranked on 14 points. On the opening night last weekend, Mattgregor was responsible for a tidy 7th after starting from a nasty second-line draw and covering ground over the concluding stages before finishing 5th on Tuesday night after having his chance on the speed. Mattgregor will start gate two in the 2555m event tomorrow night but faces series favourite Cruz Bromac  from the stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Cruz Bromac has drawn gate four and is listed at $1.09. “It was a pass mark for his opening heat but probably a shade disappointing on Tuesday night given the trip he got, Pete’s drive was extremely good and deserved a better result. “This is his best draw this weekend and hopefully we can sit handy on the pace again, an ideal scenario would be to lead and then hand over to Cruz Bromac which would give us every opportunity for a top three finish. “He’s handling the series quite well, we’ve always looked after him since he first arrived and we were a little unsure how he would cope but all signs are good right now. Three runs in a week at this level is intense. “If we qualify, well that’s great and a super proud moment for the family but if we don’t, the consolation will be the focus and hopefully we can take that home.” The last Queensland trained pacer to qualify for an Inter Dominion Grand Final was Avonnova; the triple Queensland Horse of the Year finished an unlucky 4th behind Lennytheshark at Gloucester Park back in 2015. The only Queensland trained Inter Dominion winner is four times champion Blacks A Fake, the greatest pacer of all time! Chris Barsby

The likes of Tornado Valley, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur may have ruled the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship so far but the trainer-driver of NSW raider Tough Monarch says his horse has the ability to knock them off the throne. Rickie Alchin said he believed the seven-year-old gelding, outright sixth in the rankings on 20 points after the first two rounds of heats, was capable of winning the final on December 15. He said Tough Monarch’s first two ID18 runs – a third and fourth to Tornado Valley – had been “really good”. “Night one was probably the ideal draw (2) but I didn’t push him early just because I was happy to keep him trotting and keep him happy,” he said. “He probably got a little further back than I would have liked to have had him early but I think his run had a whole lot of merit in it, to sit outside Tornado Valley in the quick third quarter and still not get beat by too far.” Alchin said the run was even more impressive given it was Tough Monarch’s first race for almost a month. “He has come into the series reasonably fresh and his run (at Ballarat on Tuesday) night was terrific; he has never been in a race when they have gone a sub-27 (quarter); he did it and was still strong on the line. “I honestly think, on ability, he is as good as any trotter in the series; it is just (that) Tornado Valley has got such good point-to-point tactical speed that can get him into a position early whereas I haven’t actually pushed my fella out of the gate yet. “But when the time comes I will – he has got gate speed.” Tough Monarch is owned by a syndicate of six – Alex and Ryan Kay, Peter Gadsby (all from NSW), Charlie Montebello and Vincent McDonald (both Queenslanders) and the late Michael Van Rens from Western Australia – who have owned several top-tier horses over the decades, most notably Smoken Up and The Falcon Strike. They also raced the Monarchy gelding’s dam, Tough Tussle, who won more than $100,000 and raced at Harold Park, Globe Derby and Moonee Valley between 2005 and 2008. “I was fortunate enough to get (Tough Monarch); he was unbroken and quite a handful and a bloke in NSW called Dennis Wilson recommended me to (the owners to) try and break him in,” Alchin said. “It has taken him a long time to mature and do things right but he has always shown tons and tons of ability and he seems to be putting it all together a bit later in his career. “(His dam) has just had another little filly foal by Love You that the studs tell me is a really good sort of a foal so I am looking forward to getting her in a couple of years.” Today Alchin is looking a couple of days ahead to tomorrow's final round of heats, where Tough Monarch will again be pitted against Tornado Valley – and the second time from the back row. “It is going to be really tough but barrier 9 is not the end of the world; I would probably prefer him to draw there than 7 or 6,” he said. “At least he is in the running line (and over 2500m) he will be running home. As the series goes and the distance grows, he should only be better again.” Shaun Campbell Trots Media

NIGHT THREE - CRANBOURNE The heavy three nights of racing could have a vital effect on many of those horses wishing to make the Grand Finals on Saturday week December 15. Whilst a certain number have already earned enough points to make the cut, there are fringe liners who will be desperate to gain entry and MUST perform well on Saturday. PACERS:  HEAT ONE Judging on what has been seen on the first two nights, Spankem (9) looks head and shoulders above his rivals. His run at Ballarat on Tuesday was outstanding when a 2.4 metre third from mid-field to Wrappers Delight. This horse just keeps on improving. Galactic Star (10) was also a great effort when third to Cruz Bromac after going forward from last racing for the bell to park outside the leader Audi Hare entering the straight with a lap to travel, before taking a sit on Cruz Bromac. This tough WA stayer is certainly in the mix. Maximan (5) has been the surprise packet of the series and only needs to finish close up to make the final. He appears to be the leader from the nice gate and should be there at the finish. Joes Star Of Mia (1) will be given every opportunity to place from the pole and is in the mix for trifecta takers. Wrappers Delight (8) was an all the way winner on Tuesday and from his inside second line draw, should receive a sweet passage and is a distinctive place proposition. Magical Marn (5) had every chance to place on Tuesday after a cosy trip, finishing 18.2 metres in arrears of Wrappers Delight and is probably better suited over a shorter trip. HEAT TWO Two of the big guns are likely to fight out the finish of this heat, with ever reliable Tiger Tara (4) going forward to take the lead away from Audi Hare (2) which may have trouble with the journey. San Carlo (11) has had no luck whatsoever with the barrier draws and unfortunately has to contend with the extreme draw on this occasion. Bec Bartley will have no option but to circle the field at some stage and put him in the race. Avoiding bad luck, he looks likely to qualify. Cant Refuse (1) finished his race off well from three back the markers when a 3.7 metre second to Im Pats Delight after getting clear late. He too should receive a cosy passage on the markers and could easily make the final. Other rough place chances to Our Uncle Sam (8) which raced wide in the last lap on Tuesday and Mach Doro (9) who is usually close up in most races he contests. HEAT THREE Likely series favourite  Cruz Bromac (4) looks head and shoulders above his rivals in this heat. A most impressive victor in the two heats run so far, Natalie Rasmussen in all probability will aim for the front and should be able to get it with fast beginners Mattgregor (2) and Franco Nelson (3) inside him certain to take a trail. Im Pats Delight (8) should gain a soft trip along the markers and be running home strongly at the finish, looking the logical quinella chance. Multiple cups winner Im The Boss was a strong third to Im Pats Delight after breezing on Tuesday and may have to do the same here. Cash N Flow has been close up in both runs since a third in the Geelong Cup and shouldn’t be far away at the finish. Polemarker Hickstead can at times fly the gate and should he do so, is in with a rough place chance. TROTTERS: HEAT  ONE Unbeaten Tornado Valley (4) a flyer from the gate looks like leading once again and will take no end of running down. Maori Law (3) had no luck at all on Tuesday after being snookered four back the markers before breaking in the home straight when hampered. He must be forgiven for that outing and from the nice draw looks one of the main place chances. Polmarker Save Our Pennys now trained by veteran Graeme Lang  has performed well in both heats with two seconds and is again in the mix for quinella backers. He should receive the run of the race. Tough Monarch (9) will need luck to go his way after drawing behind a slow beginner, however his form through the series has been very good. Sky Petite (11) has drawn horribly, but this sharp sprinting mare could easily place after coming off a cold sit. Red Hot Tooth (6) was disappointing on Tuesday after a soft passage three back the markers when a 9.2 metre fifth to Tornado Valley. Alderbeck (8) is a rough trifecta hope. HEAT TWO Kiwi Speeding Spur (2) who will be at very short odds gets his chance to atone for a game 2.6 metre third to Tornado Valley on Tuesday after racing exposed following an all of the way victory on opening night. Old timer Kyvalley Blur (5) turned his dismal opening night performance around when a stylish winner at Ballarat, storming down the outside to prevail in a track record 1-55.6. Head strong Illawong Armstrong should receive a cosy trip from the pole, however the distance could tell over the concluding stages. Enrolled (3) battled on strongly when fourth beaten 3.6 metres by Kyvalley Blur after racing exposed. He can easily place here. The same could be said for Rompers Monarch (4), Kingdom Come (7), Big Jack Hammer (8), Fabrication (9) and Monty Python (11).   Harness Racing Australia

Western Australia’s sole representative in the 2018 Inter Dominion Series Galactic Star is well placed to make Saturday week’s final, following his third placing in the second round of heats at Ballarat last night. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained pacer sits third behind Cruz Bromac and Im Pats Delight in the rankings with one round of heats remaining at Cranbourne on Saturday night. Galactic Star won the opening heat at Melton last Saturday and continued his good form in last night’s 1710m second round of heats. The Bettors Delight gelding was posted wide in the early stages of last night’s heat, before he was able to settle in the running line in fourth spot. Reinsman Todd McCarthy then got the gelding into clear room at the top of the straight and he was able to run on strongly into third spot. Greg Bond said he was pleased to get another significant lot of points, which almost guaranteed him a spot in the final on December 15. “We were very happy with the performance, given the bad gate,” he said. “Nothing was coming from behind on the night, so we made the plan to follow Mach Doro out of the gate which we knew we may get posted three wide. “Eventually he was able to get a trail and he found the line really well.” Bond said he expected Galactic Star would only need to finish in the top eight of his heat on Saturday night to secure his spot in the final. Galactic Star has again drawn on the outside of the second line on Saturday night in barrier 10 and Bond said the stable wouldn’t take the race lightly, despite the fact a spot in the final looks assured. “The three main chances in Wrappers Delight, Spankem and Galactic Star are in eight, nine and 10 respectively,” he said. “We go in trying to win every race and Saturday night will be no exception. “He should finish in the top three or four depending on the run we get.” Galactic Star is a $9.75 chance with TABtouch to take out the Inter Dominion. Meanwhile, Bond said all of his four-year-olds were in good order following last Friday night’s Yes Loans 4YO Classic at Gloucester Park. He indicated Bettor Aim, who was scratched from the Group 1 event, was on track to make a full recovery in time for Friday week’s Golden Nugget.   Tim Walker

CRUZ Bromac will be raging hot favourite to complete a cleansweep of the Inter Dominion heats after drawing superbly for the third night at Cranbourne on Saturday. The All Stars’ runner led throughout on night one, made a midrace move to sit parked and win easily last night and should lead throughout again from gate four at Cranbourne. Another Kiwi, Im Pats Delight, looks the only real danger, but he will need plenty of luck from an inside back row draw (gate eight). Cran Dalgety’s four-year-old has looked terrific with a second on night one and fastest-of-the-night win at Ballarat last night. Cruz Bromac’s stablemate, Spankem, is flying, but faces another tricky draw (gate nine) in his Cranbourne heat. It’s a fascinating heat with the three class runners all drawing the back row. Wrappers Delight (gate eight) and Galactic Star (10) the others. Long-time Grand Final favourite Tiger Tara has finally drawn well in a heat and looks a standout in his Cranbourne heat from gate four. Audi Hare looks the early leader from gate two and would happily trail Tiger Tara, who will relish the draw and the 2555m trip. Major rival San Carlo drew awfully outside the back row (gate 11) and now needs a top four finish to be certain of making the final. In the trotting series, big guns Tornado Valley and Speeding Spur will dominate betting in their final round heats. Speeding Spur, who sat parked and ran a brave third to Tornado Valley at Ballarat last night, drew superbly in gate two over the longer 2555m trip and Cranbourne in a heat lacking depth. He looks set to either lead or work to the front with Kyvalley Blur (gate five) and the emerging, Big Jack Hammer (eight), the others with winning chances. The other Kiwi, Monty Python, drew awfully in gate 11. Tornado Valley should complete a cleansweep of the heats after drawing gate four in the second of Saturday night’s heats. Save Our Pennys, who has finished second to Tornado Valley in both heats so far, has the pole and should trail Tornado Valley again and the only real danger. The other key player in the heat is Maori Law, who ran a slashing second to Speeding Spur on night one then galloped and finished last on night two. Kiwi outsiders Alderbeck (gate eight) and Wilmas Mate (10) will struggle. Adam Hamilton Click here for the third night ID18 fields

Ballarat played host to the second round heats over 1710 metres of the Inter Dominion on Tuesday December 4, where favourites prevailed in most races. PACERS: HEAT ONE David Aiken’s much improved 5Y0 Bettors Delight-Charlotte Church gelding Wrappers Delight (Kima Frenning), a short priced $1.80 chance, made full advantage of his pole line draw to lead throughout in a rate of 1-53.6 (last half 53.9 – quarter 26.1) to account for a game Tiger Tara which after starting from the extreme draw moved outside him off a three wide trail on the back of San Carlo at the bell by 1.2 metres, with first night heat winner Spankem (one/two at bell) closing late for a fast finishing third 1.1 metres back in third place after following Our Uncle Sam home three wide in the last lap. Maximan was fourth .3 metres away after trailing the winner and using the sprint lane, while San Carlo was a shade disappointing when fifth 4.9 metres off the winner when following Tiger Tara in the final circuit. HEAT TWO: Kiwi Im Pats Delight ($1.40), a 4Y0 Bettors Delight-Righteous Franco entire trained in Christchurch by Cran Dalgety and driven by Gavin Lang, led throughout from gate two in registering a soft 3.7 metre margin in advance of Cant Refuse (three back the markers) which flashed home when extricated from a pocket in the straight, Im The Boss (gate five) was strong when third a half head away after racing exposed, a half head in advance of Bad Billy which trailed the winner. In a last half of 55.5 – quarter 26.7, Im Pats Delight returned a slashing mile rate of 1-52.2. Franco Nelson (one/one – three wide last lap) was fifth 5.5 metres back just in advance of Joes Star Of Mia which followed him all of the way. HEAT THREE: First round heat winner Cruz Bromac ($1.60) continued his outstanding form with an easy 2.8 metre victory in 1-53.5 (half 55.9 – quarter 26.3). Driven by co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen for the All Stars Team,  Cruz Bromac wasn’t pushed at the start from gate four on the second line settling at the tail of the field as Audi Hare (gate two) and Mach Doro (gate five) engaged in a two horse war for the front running with Audi Hare winning out. When Galactic Star (another first round winner) went forward from the extreme draw at the start to park in the open racing for the bell, Cruz Bromac was set alight to race uncovered for the last lap. Sustaining the run, Cruz Bromac was too strong in the straight, scoring by 2.8 metres from Audi Hare which battled on courageously, with Galactic Star closing late after being extricated into the clear halfway up the running third a head away. Mach Doro (three back the markers was fourth and Mattgregor fifth after trailing the winner from outside the front line.  A 7Y0 Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender gelding, Cruz Bromac registered his 19th success from 36 outings. TROTTERS – HEAT ONE: Dominion Handicap runner-up Kyvalley Blur ($6.90) returned to form after a dismal eighth to Tornado Valley on the first night to blouse his rivals by 1.7 metres in an exciting finish where five horses crossed the wire with 4.8 metres between them. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Chris Alford, Kyvalley Blur starting from the extreme draw settled well back in the field as Sky Petite (gate two) was able to cross Fabrication on her inside, with Illawong Armstrong (gate 3) outside the pair to eventually take control as Enrolled (gate 4) moved forward to occupy the spot outside the leader racing for the bell. Fabrication galloped shortly after the start putting himself out of business. Big Jack Hammer (one/one from gate five) eased three wide approaching the final bend to issue a challenge, while Monty Python from mid-field was four wide on straightening. Weaving in-between runners in the last lap to be four back approaching the home turn, Kyvalley Blur was extricated five wide in the straight and finished full of running to defeat Big Jack Hammer by 1.7 metres, with Sky Petite using the sprint lane to be a half neck back in third place 1.2 metres ahead of Enrolled and Kingdom Come (three back the markers). Hot favourite Maori Law was never a chance after getting buried four back the markers from inside the second line, breaking in the straight when cramped for room. A ever-reliable all American bred 11Y0 gelding by Chocolatier from Duo Val Car raced by Jim Connelly, Kyvalley Blur chalked up his 29th victory from 119 outings, returning a mile rate of 1-55.6 (last half 57.5 – quarter 28.9). HEAT TWO: There were divided opinions as to which of the two favourites would lead, with Speeding Spur ($2.10 gate five) and Tornado Valley ($2.20 from outside the front row) both brilliant beginners, but it was Tornado Valley which exploded away to cross Save Our Pennys (gate two) which led out momentarily from his ideal draw. This left Speeding Spur in the open with Rompers Monarchy (one/one), Red Hot Tooth (three back the markers) and Alderbeck three back in the moving line. Racing down the back straight on the final occasion the leading three chances drew away from their rivals, with Tornado Valley gaining a slight margin on turning. Not done with, Speeding Spur rallied in the straight, with Save Our Pennys using the sprint lane to issue a challenge, however Tornado Valley held a margin to the wire for Andy and Kate Gath to score by 2.1 metres over Save Our Pennys, with Speeding Spur a head away in third place. Tough Monarch (three wide last lap from last) was fourth six metres off Speeding Spur in fourth place. In a last half mile of 56.4 – quarter 27, Tornado Valley returned a mile rate of 1-56.1. The all important third and final round of heats over the longer trip of 2555 metres will be held at Cranbourne on Saturday.   Harness Racing Australia

When Shadow Sax was withdrawn from the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion pacing series, leaving champion reinsman Chris Alford with just one horse for all of ID18, in hindsight, Kyvalley Blur’s chances probably improved. The Puppet’s a genius, and the trotter everyone probably thought was pushing uphill following a lacklustre Round 1 performance quickly silenced his knockers. Kyvalley Blur launched from a seemingly impossible position mid-race to take out the second-round trotting heat at Ballarat over the sprint trip of 1710m in 1:55.6 by 1.7m over Big Jack Hammer, with Sky Petite third. And there’s improvement to come, says Alford: “If he stays like tonight he’ll go better again on Saturday from what Lills (trainer Brent Lilley) said. He’ll need a draw in the final, but if he gets it he will be right there.” Tornado Valley prevailed in the other trotting heat, rating 1:56.1 and scorching home in a 27-second final quarter for Kate and Andy Gath. With gate speed to burn – and another gear when required late in the piece – Tornado Valley seemingly has it all. Save Our Pennys was excellent again for Gavin Lang, finishing second, while Speeding Spur boxed on for third after parking throughout. In the pacing section Wrappers Delight delivered the hammer blow to his rivals for driver Kima Frenning and trainer David Aiken, going all the way from the pole in 1:53.6 to defeat Tiger Tara and Spankem. “This series is really going to suit him and he’s proved that tonight again. I think he’ll just keep on improving. David (Aiken) is doing such a good job with him,” Frenning said. The third horse, Spankem, was enormous, breaking the clock from back in the field for the All-Stars stable. Cran Dalgety produced Im Pats Delight for a comfortable win with Gavin Lang in the bike, scoring by 3.7m over Cant Refuse – whose owners in the stands were absolutely thrilled with the performance of Matthew Craven’s star – while Im The Boss was a gritty third. And Cruz Bromac has launched in the betting charts with his stablemate Spankem, both into $4, after he effortlessly won his second-round heat with Nat Rasmussen in the gig. For full results and videos click here Trots Media - Cody Winnell More TAB ID18 Round 2 coverage Kate's loving Tornado Valley Nat's delicious dilemma  Blake Redden breaks down the trot heats

A huge decision sits on the shoulders of the Inter Dominion harness racing queen and three wins in Natalie Rasmussen is unclear of one of the biggest decisions she may have to make this year: Spankem or Cruz Bromac. The All Stars pair are $4 co-favourites after two nights of TAB Inter Dominion, repeating their eye-catching first-up efforts at Tabcorp Park with a pair of impressive performances on a brilliant night’s racing at Ballarat. Having just saluted in the last of the night’s ID18 heats with Cruz Bromac Rasmussen told Sky Racing’s Jason Bonnington choosing her drive on December 15’s Inter Dominion finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton was a “out of the hat” decision. “They’re both beautiful horses,” Rasmussen said. “They both have strength and they are both tough.” Cruz Bromac was ultra-impressive in overcoming his back row draw to round up leader Audi Hare and hold off fast finishing Galactic Star to salute in 1:53.5. “That was a lovely run for him,” Rasmussen said. “He hit the line good. Last week was a good confidence builder and tonight ever better. I just went to the line nice and kind with him.” Excitement is clearly building and its shared by another renowned driver, Gavin Lang, whose Kiwi is also flying. Having caught the drive of New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety’s Im Pats Delight, Lang couldn’t help but dream that the trophy missing on his shelf – a Pacing Inter Dominion – might be within arm’s length after tonight’s heat win. “I would love to win it, but it’s only run once a year and a very very hard race to win, so hopefully this might be my time,” Lang said. Racing continues with Saturday night’s third round of TAB Inter Dominion heats. Get track side and lap it up via www.id18.com.au For full results and videos click here   Trots Media - Michael Howard

Every point matters in the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion trotting championship and form analyst Blake Redden has broken it down horse-by-horse after two heats of ID18. In addition to detailing the official points score, which can be viewed by clicking here, Redden has given each runner a race-by-race rating. 32 Points – Tornado Valley  (17.5/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Copped pressure through the third quarter and was still trucking on the line Night 2: 8.5/10 – Flexed his muscle after the start and dictated thereafter. 27 Points – Speeding Spur  (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – He got a pretty soft time through the middle stages but he staved off a pretty serious challenge from Maori Law and was well clear late. Night 2: 8/10 – Didn’t find the pegs but brave as ever from the breeze. It’s hard to knock his form as the key danger to the favourite right now. 26 Points – Save Our Pennys (17/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Came into this second-up from a break and loomed the winner on the bend, magical effort. Night 2: 8/10 – Had to be driven hard after the start but held the leader's back and produced a most similar run as Night 1 over what probably isn’t his best trip. 22 Points – Big Jack Hammer (14.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have to work in transit but he hit the line nicely. Night 2: 8/10 – Ran the gate and landed a lovely spot in the one by one. Looked the winner half way up the straight but his first genuine crack at this level from off the pegs and he stood up. 21 Points – Kyvalley Blur (13/20) Night 1: 4/10 – He was off the bit a long way out and despite trying to rally late he just didn’t come on as expected. Night 2: 9/10 – Phenomenal is just about the only way to describe his performance. Chris Alford take a bow, sliced through the field and came with his customary turn of speed. 20 Points – Tough Monarch (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – You will find varying opinions on how good this guy’s run was, I wasn’t as taken as some others but he did work to the breeze and apply the pressure to the leader.  Night 2: 7/10 – Came wide on the track and was still finding the line at the end. A nice run to keep him ticking over. 18 Points – Rompers Monarchy (11.5/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Had the right run in transit and made OK ground late. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Off the pegs this time and did run the gate. Not many made ground and while she got a touch tired late, the run was still sound. 18 Points – Sky Petite (15/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Superb effort from this girl to make ground wide on the track. She didn’t get heaps of points but it sets her up for a nice series. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Used her gate speed to full effect before landing behind the speed, just halted for momentum early in the straight and she didn’t shirk the task late. 16 Points – Kingdom Come (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have much luck off a soft run and hit the line well. Night 2: 7/10 – Was handled beautifully by Kate Gath and he was just struggling to get a full crack at the sprint lane for a stride or two so he has put in another super run. 16 Points – Monty Python (14/20)  Night 1: 7/10 – Sat parked and lifted when beaten so a pretty nice effort all things considered. Night 2: 7/10 – He was forced to start the three-wide train and he loomed dangerously halfway up the lane. Another very nice effort. 15 Points – Red Hot Tooth (13/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was forced to come wide in the track and not many horses made ground out wide all night so there’s merit to her run. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Was afforded a pegline run and given the slick last quarter she did as much as possible, she just keeps hanging in there. 14 Points – Maori Law (12.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Worked early, went back and then launched with an almighty run at the 800m. He did get tired late but the run was sensational given he will have improvement. Night 2: 4/10 – A horror story from start to finish. Total forgive. 14 points - Wilmas Mate (11/20)  Night 1: 5/10 – She got further back than expected on the pegs but just a middling effort Night 2: 6/10 – Played for luck in between horses and she was poking through late, trending in the right direction at least. 13 Points – Enrolled (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – This fella didn’t have much luck late and could have finished a touch closer. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Worked the breeze and not the worst place to be over the sprint but still went massive to finish where he did. 10 Points – Father Christmas (10.5/20)  Night 1: 4.5/10 – Didn’t have the clearest of passages at a crucial stage and finished off quite OK. Night 2: 6/10 – Unsuited by the distance but he didn’t lose the back of Tough Monarch in the lane so there are signs he is starting to turn it around. 9 Points – Fabrication (11/20) Night 1: 5/10 – Had a soft run and probably just held his ground more than made any late. Night 2: 6/10 – Hard to know what to make of this run. Galloped early but was flashing to the line albeit well beaten. Definitely some merit to the run but he needs points to qualify. 9 Points – Our Twentyten (6/20)  Night 1: 4/10 – Had every possible and was just fair on face value. Night 2: 2/10 – Further back on the pegs than last time but just fair again. 8 Points – Alderbeck (7.5/20)  Night 1: 3.5/10 – Was forced to lead the three-wide train so while you can be somewhat forgiving, he was never in the race. Night 2: 4/10 – Didn’t have heaps of clear air late and was holding his ground. 7 Points – Illawong Armstrong (9/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – Another that had no luck in the lane, it’s best to forgive his run completely. Night 2: 3/10 – Had every chance after finding the front and probably just not at his best. 7 Points – King Denny (11/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Another forced to come wide on the track and while he wasn’t rewarded via points, he ran quite well. Night 2: 5/10 – It was always going to be hard for him from the draw and the sprint trip didn’t suit so he gets a pass mark. 7 Points – Kowhai Monarch (8.5/20) Night 1: 2.5/10 – Did some work in the middle stages but looked very tired late. Night 2: 6/10 – Many horses went about as well as each other in a blanket finish but driven more quietly he was hitting the line pretty strongly. 5 Points – Kheiron (6/20) Night 1: 3/10 – He was wide on the track but remained at the tail throughout. Night 2: 3/10 – Similar to his first run in this series, hard to see him getting involved from here. Scratched – Cruisin Around (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – Just not at his best. For full results and videos click here Trots Media - Blake Redden

Harness Racing driver Kate Gath admits to not having too many favourites. “It’s hard to be one of my favourites,” the champion reinswoman said after Tornado Valley’s scintillating 1:56.1 win tonight at Ballarat in Round 2 of the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship. Tornado Valley showed gate speed at the start to muscle his way to the top and hot speed late as he ripped home in 27 seconds for the last 400m. “This fella is up there now,” she said, naming gun pacers About To Rock and Caribbean Blaster as her two favourites so far. “Only time will tell though if he can catch the other two.” TAB shortened Tornado Valley into $2 from $2.1 following tonight’s win. To watch the video replay click on this link                   5 8:02pm TAB INTER DOMINION TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP (2ND ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 2) (GROUP 3) 1710M $20,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr7 7 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 2.20   PRS GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 7 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): N R (Norm) Jenkin  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SAVE OUR PENNYS      Fr2 2 Gavin Lang Gavin Lang 2.10 $ 9.80   GS 3 USL SWAB 3 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Fr5 5 J W Dickie, J I Dickie Josh Dickie 2.60 $ 2.10 fav  PRS GS OLT 2 4 TOUGH MONARCH      Sr3 10 Rickie Alchin Rickie Alchin 8.60 $ 18.40   10 3WL 5 RED HOT TOOTH      Sr2 9 Kari Males Zac Phillips 9.20 $ 22.30   PRS 5 6 ROMPERS MONARCHY NZ      Fr6 6 J A Rando, M J Rando David Morris 10.10 $ 98.90   PRS PH 4 7 FATHER CHRISTMAS NZ      Fr3 3 Brent Lilley Greg Sugars 12.40 $ 58.50   PRU 8 8 ALDERBECK NZ      Fr4 4 Phil Williamson Anthony Butt 13.30 $ 84.30   6 9 KHEIRON      Sr1 8 Peter Lane Chris Lang 17.00 $ 114.00   PRS 9 10 OUR TWENTYTEN NZ      Fr1 1 Brent Lilley Rodney Petroff 23.20 $ 101.00   PRS 7 CMP Scratchings   CRUISIN AROUND 11 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 2:03:3 Mile Rate: 1:56:1 Lead Time: 6.7 First Quarter: 29 Second Quarter: 31.2 Third Quarter: 29.4 Fourth Quarter: 27 Margins: 2.1m x HD   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The man behind Kiwi trotting star Speeding Spur says he is as interested as everybody else to find out how the first mega clash of the series unfolds at Ballarat tonight.  Because trainer-driver Josh Dickie admits he doesn’t know whether he can beat leading Aussie hope Tornado Valley as the series moves into the second round of heats.  New Zealand-trained horses won three of the Inter Dominion heats on the opening night at Melton on Saturday, with Cruz Bromac and Spankem impressive in their pacing events and Speeding Spur dominant in his trotting one.  But while the Kiwi pacers will be favoured in two of the three pacing heats over the 1710m mobile at Ballarat tonight, the second trotting heat could be the clash of the night.   Speeding Spur and Tornado Valley were so impressive winning their first night heats it is hard to envisage one of the pair not winning the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday week and punters get a sneak preview of that tonight.  While some would like to see the pair, who completely dominate the market for the final, kept apart until then to create suspense, that wouldn’t be fair on their rivals.  So they clash in the second trotting heat at 10.02pm (NZ time) tonight, with Speeding Spur having a potentially big advantage drawing barrier five while Tornado Valley will start from the outside of the front line at seven.  Both have gate speed, Tornado Valley’s probably slightly higher after his steady diet of Australian racing, but co-trainer Dickie knows what he has to do to beat his key rival.  “Obviously I want to stay in front of him from the draw,” admits Dickie.  “I think I can because my horse has good gate speed and we couldn’t have been happier with how he won on Saturday.  “He has been working really well, felt great in the race and I think his below par effort in the Dominion (two starts ago) was just an off day. “He has always loved it over here and seems happy to be back so we are confident.”The Dickies, Josh and his father John, are getting to see plenty of Tornado Valley as he is trained by Andy Gath, with who Speeding Spur is always stabled when he races in Victoria.  “He (Tornado Valley) is a lovely horse and we are no good thing to beat him,” says Dickie.  “So I suppose we are a bit like everybody else, keen to see how they match up against each other.  “But we have the advantage at the start and we will be doing our best to use it.”  Every Inter Dominion needs a wow race to set up the rest of the carnival and the early battle of the trotting series favourites could be just that, even though it will be hardly definitive as a Grand Final guide, with that group one next week over 2760m and the final’s draw probably just as important.  After tonight’s sprint heats it looks likely all three New Zealanders in the pacing series would have won at least one heat with It’s Pats Delight, who finished a brave second to Spankem on Saturday, drawn to get maximum points in his heat at 11pm. His task has been aided further by one-time series favourite Shadow Sax, who was drawn in the same heat as I’m Pats Delight, being scratched from tonight and the remainder of the series after pulling up sore after Saturday.  Cruz Bromac is a hot favourite in his heat, the final one tonight, but his $1.45 fixed odds price seems awfully short considering his second line draw.  “It is never easy to win sprint races off the second line because you really need them to slow up in the middle stages to get into the race otherwise you have to come wide late,” said trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen.  So while he is vying for final favouritism, Cruz Bromac is too short to be betting big on tonight with luck such a factor.  Spankem races in the toughest heat of the night at 10.32pm (NZ time) and he would need to produce something special to win as he not only faces a second line draw but high class opponents in Wrappers Delight, San Carlo and Tiger Tara. Michael Guerin

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