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Harness racing two-year-old trotting filly of the year Tailored Elegance is back at the track and ready to continue her winning ways. The daughter of Muscle Hill was most impressive in her first campaign with a Group 3 placing in behind Muscle Mountain in the NZ 2yr Old Trotting Stakes and a subsequent Group 2 victory in the Sires Stakes 2yo Championship when beating the Brad Williamson trained Cracker Hill. That progressive form-line was only blotted by a mid-race gallop in the 2yr Old Ruby at the Harness Jewels that saw the filly unable to make up the ground required on what was a rain effected Addington track eventually finishing a meritorious fifth to the long-odds winner Bolt For Brilliance.   Tailored Elegance has received a good grounding at workouts and trials this time in with all three performances in recent weeks coming in behind her stablemate, the Group 1 placed, Kings Landing. The last of which saw the filly obtain a running line sit and find the line nicely from off the speed to close within some 3 3/4 lengths of the winner.   While campaigns and best laid plans can quickly go awry in the harness racing game a potential target this time in could come in the form of the NZ Trotting Oaks in mid March, a race you'd have to believe Tailored Elegance would be tailor-made for.    The Sires Stakes 2yo Championship For those interested in getting into a "Classic" trotting family a full brother to Tailored Elegance is being offered by Breckon Farms at the 2020 National Standradbred Yearling Sale. Lot 89, a bay colt, "Instant Classic" could become just that with the son of Muscle Hill having plenty of family success to associate himself with. Instant Classic is out of the Tim Butt trained Armbro Invasion mare Classic Armbro who never missed a placing as a three year old notching up two wins and two minor placings. The formidable race record of second dam Merinai (A Dominon Trotting Handicap and Rowe Cup winner) should appease those looking for evidence of trotting ability within the wider bloodlines. Merinai's broodmare success is highlighted by the fact that Classic Armbro is a half sister to both Miss Pegasus (9 wins) the free wheeling Wingsonhai (7 wins) and a NSW Trotters Oaks runner-up in Sunny Elegant. Instant Classic is a full brother to "I See Fire" a now two year old who is currently in the Tony Herlihy stable.  Ben McMillan 

Leamington Raceway is one of the most kid-friendly harness racing tracks you will find in Ontario, Canada with its welcoming family atmosphere.  When Lakeshore Horse Racing Association started operating Leamington Raceway in 2013 for their race meet, one of their main priorities was to make it a family destination, so all ages could enjoy an exciting afternoon at the races. After losing Windsor Raceway, a local anchor in the industry, the group decided the way to bring back some sustainability was to encourage youth participation in the industry for the future, and a family atmosphere with entertainment helps to achieve that.  This racetrack usually sees an average of 50-75 kids on a usual race day, with totals in the hundreds on special event days. One of Leamington’s most successful event days is the annual Kids’ Day held on the Sunday of Labour Day weekend. This past Kids’ Day, there were over 30 bicycles given away to some of the lucky kids in the crowd who came to the races that day. This event has always been a big hit since its start in 2013, with a popular giveaway of bikes and other prizes. Another exciting part is our t-shirt toss, which gathers younger fans all around with excitement on their faces.  Kids’ Day is also highlighted by the much-anticipated Hands on Horses Program run by the Ontario Harness Horse Association, which gives rides behind a retired racehorse, giving a very cool up-close feeling of what it’s like in the sulky. We are very fortunate to have this program come two race days a year and put on this amazing experience for everyone to enjoy.   On the Sunday before Halloween, there is always a costume contest and the best costumes receive prizes. The same goes on the Derby Hat Day, with there being a category for kids. On a regular weekly basis, youth are still a focus as Leamington offers a “kid zone” underneath the grandstand which features colouring and crafts for the kids to do, and an opportunity to meet a retired racehorse named Lenny behind the grandstand. While young fans are at the track there are plenty of options they can order from the canteen, as there is a kids’ menu available including healthy options as well as freezies, ice cream, popsicles and more.  Another unique point worth mentioning is how Lakeshore Horse Racing Association gives opportunities to youth by providing jobs that provide great experience in customer service and working in the backstretch, as well as volunteer hours for school. I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to call my first harness race at the age of 12 on Kids’ Day, which sparked my passion to want to become an announcer. That opportunity, along with a few more years in the backstretch, led to my being promoted to become the on-track host at the age of 15. This position has helped to create more interest in the sport by youth, as they can relate to one of their peers in this role.          You can find Leamingon Raceway Raceway on many different social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so all ages can access their info. The 2020 season is going to be even more exciting for horsepeople and the fans: The season kicks off on Sunday August 9th, with racing every Sunday until October 25th and a special card of racing on Monday September 9th. Post time for all race dates is 1:30 p.m.  By Nathan Bain, USHWA Youth Member  

Harness racing superstar Greg Sugars has had a whirlwind week in the sulky - but he saved the sweetest moment for last, with his unashamed stable "favorite" Little Peanut. The undisputed highlight of the week was Sugars' victory in the $110,000 Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday night with rising New Zealand star A Gs White Socks for Greg and Nina Hope. But it was the more modest $14,500 Wedderburn cup victory on Sunday, with former brilliant juvenile Little Peanut (Blissfull Hall-Janbob (Speedking) that was perhaps the emotional high point for Sugars and his partner Jess Tubbs. A memorable week began when Tubbs and Sugars took out a double at Warragul last Sunday with Little Peanut and Robert The Bruce (McCardle-Bumble Bee). The latter then followed up by winning again at Melton on Friday night and the dream run continued with the Ballarat Cup victory, and with Sugars also qualifying the brilliant Emma Stewart-trained filly Maajida (Somebeachsomewhere-Arterial Way (Art Major) for the final of the Victoria Oaks. Then on Sunday Sugars made it a weekend cups double with Little Peanut. Little Peanut “tastes” success in the Wedderburn Pacing Cup (Wedderburn HRC Photo) "You don't get weeks like that too often - and I took a short break in New Zealand to catch up with some friends during the week, so maybe I should do that more often!" Sugars joked. "It's been a long road with Little Peanut - but that's the most satisfying thing. Firstly, that he's back on track, but also that he's racing so well," he said. Little Peanut is pint-sized, but the handsome chestnut has personality plus and he quickly endeared himself as a stable favorite when arriving at the Tubbs-Sugars establishment Larajay Park as a yearling. He was a terrific youngster, taking out a heat of the NSW Breeders 2yo Challenge and finishing second in the final, before winning the Mildura Guineas and the Central Victorian Pacing Championship in his three-year-old season. As a four-year-old, he was Chariots of Fire bound when he went amiss early last year, suffering a sesamoid injury. "He had an operation and the recovery is always a slow one, but for a while it didn't look too good for him," Sugars said. "But credit to Brian Anderson and the team at Ballarat Equine Clinic that we were able to overcome the issues and get him sound and eventually back in work," he said. "Jess and I did most of the work at home with him and he's a real character and he loves attention, so that was probably a plus in his recovery. But it also did make it extra special just to be able to get him back to the track - to win at his second start, then the Wedderburn Cup. We are just so proud of him." Sugars said he didn't expect the pacer would ever be "100 percent back to what he was". "But he's a little favorite, and always has been, so it's just great that he's been able to get this far." The Wedderburn Cup win made it back-to-back in the Central Victorian feature for Sugars after taking out the race last year with Emain Macha. Not so, regarding the Ballarat Cup, which Sugars has finished runner up in twice on Sushi Sushi in 2012 and 2013. "Sushi Sushi is another of my all-time favorite horses, so it was satisfying to win it this time on A Gs White Socks - a great thrill," Sugars said.                                                                                                            --Ballarat HRC photo "It was my first time sitting behind this horse, but he's such an easy going free-roller. He was just cruising, I was very confident a long way out." A Gs White Socks' Ballarat Cup win was a more than impressive warm up to the pacer's main mission on this campaign - the AG Hunter Cup in two weeks.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Club Menangle has moved to ensure that harness racing owners and trainers have every opportunity to provide their three-year old fillies with appropriate lead-in races into the John Gibson Memorial Oaks. The John Gibson Memorial Oaks will be held on 29 February, on Ladies Night of the 2020 Sky Racing Carnival of Miracles, at Club Menangle. Ladies Night, in the middle of the Sky Racing Carnival of Miracles, will showcase the best of Australasia’s fillies and mares with the Group 2 Allied Express Pink Bonnet for two-year old flies, the Group 1 Bodens Projects Ladyship Mile for the mares and – of course – the time-honoured race for three-year-old fillies, the John Gibson Memorial Oaks. Club Menangle Racing Manager, David Wonson has highlighted the racing program developed by Club Menangle to provide the appropriate lead-in during February into the Oaks. David said that Club Menangle is conscious of the need to provide opportunities for owners and trainers to condition their horses for what is the premier event on the New South Wales three-year old fillies racing calendar. The John Gibson Memorial NSW Oaks will showcase some of the best fillies in Australasia. However, a race over the Oaks distance of 2400m requires suitable lead-in opportunity and Club Menangle recognises that need. In keeping with Club Menangle’s commitment to filly and mare racing, the John Gibson Memorial Oaks program includes every opportunity for the successful finalists to position themselves for glory. David asked all owners and trainers to note the following race program developed for the three-year old fillies: 8 February – $14,280 Three-year old fillies’ race over 2300m 22 February – $20,000 Heats of the John Gibson Memorial Oaks over 2400m 29 February – $200,000 The John Gibson Memorial Oaks over 2400m Club Menangle Director, Daniel Cordina echoed David’s comments and emphasised the Board was conscious that for the three-year old fillies to peak on Oaks Night, they needed opportunity to race over the longer distances, prior to the race. The John Gibson Memorial NSW Oaks recognises the dedication of John Gibson, a NSW standardbred breeding legend who, with wife Mary, made a significant contribution to juvenile harness racing in this state. Club Menangle believes John would have welcomed the 2020 NSW Oaks program. Daniel said this program, developed by David for the Club Menangle Board, needed to be on the radar of all trainers who have a NSW Oaks campaign mapped out for their horses. Club Menangle  

By Garrick Knight    Ellie Rowden was still on cloud nine by Sunday morning, the day after training her first winner, Still Eyre, at Cambridge. “A real buzz, it was just amazing,” she told HRNZ. “I watched the race with Jo Stevens and she said she looked back and I had disappeared. “I think I jumped off the ledge of the grandstand,” Rowden joked. “I just erupted when I knew he had won.” Rowden, who has a background and ongoing involvement in the show ring, is in her first official season as a trainer, based in Patumahoe. She used to help out Gary Noakes when he trained two previous horses she owned, Mr Natural and Cool Son, to win. “I was lucky enough to own a few winners before, but to own and train one by myself? That felt pretty cool.” Rowden leased Still Eyre off Wai Eyre Farm’s Mike Brown back in the early winter time after a chance discussing with Dave McGowan. “Dave said they had a trotter for less down at Wai Eyre, so I sent them a message to enquire. “He’d been out of work for nearly a year and was just sitting in a paddock after a good spell. “It was great to get him in that condition, because I got bring him up from scratch and get to know him a little bit.” After trying her luck at Auckland for a number of runs, Rowden switched her attention to Cambridge after some advice from neighbour, Todd MacFarlane. “I’m very lucky to have the help of Todd; we train on the same track. “He told me it was confidence thing and rather than following them around at the park, he should be going with them at Cambridge. “And he was right. “The last two starts, just being within a few lengths of the winner, his ego has gone through the roof. “At home, he’s gone from flopping around to thinking he’s the man. “The other day he worked in front of a baby and was acting like he was god’s gift to the world. “I guess, even with these older horses, it’s a mental thing.” Rowden plays a big hand in promoting life after racing and is actively involved in the upcoming Anything But Standard Challenge, which essentially encourages participants to break retired Standardbreds to saddle. “The South Island one is being held in two weeks, and the North Island one in three weeks. “We’ve had a heap of sponsors come on board and we’re really looking forward to it.” Rowden’s main squeeze is Mr Natural, who she’s proudly qualified for the upcoming National Horse of the Year competition in the Hawkes Bay. He also led out last month’s Auckland Cup field at Alexandra Park. “He’ll be staying with me forever; there is a lot of sentimental value there with him.” And it’s more than likely Still Eyre’s future lies in the show ring, as well. “I already train him under saddle and he’s qualified for the montes.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

In this series sponsored by Southern Bred Southern Reared, Bruce Stewart looks back on some of the great harness racing stock that’s come out of the Southern region. Whilst last year he profiled horses from the south that have become millionaires, this series is about other pacers and trotters that that were bred, reared and raced for part of career in Southland, and made an impact in the Harness Racing industry. David Moss Age: 1983 Bay Gelding Sire: Gekoj Dam: Proud Countess (Hickory Pride) Breeder: Captain Oddvar Andersen. Owner: Estate of Harry Cox and Captain Oddvar Andersen. Trainers: John Cox, Robert Cameron, Clive Herbert and Bob Mellsop. First win: Northern Southland Trotting Club at Ascot Park – February 1990. Biggest New Zealand wins: 1993 New Zealand Trotting Championship (G2) 1993 Anngow Motors Mazda Trot (G3) 1993 Rowe Cup (G1) (Southland owned trotters finished first, second and third in the 1993 Rowe Cup with David Moss winning, Diamond Field ran second and Night Allowance third). 1993 Dominion Handicap (G1) 1993 New Zealand National Mobile Trot (G2) 1994 New Zealand Trotting Championship (G3) 1994 Dominion Handicap (G1) in a track and New Zealand record of 4-06.6 Australia: David Moss had four starts in Australia winning three. His wins included the Australasian Trotters Championship Final and the V.L.Dullard Cup both at Moonee Valley. Awards: Southland Horse of the Year 1991 and 1993 New Zealand Trotter of the Year: 1992/1993 season and 1993/1994 season. Lifetime record: 89 starts 31 wins, nine seconds and 4 thirds for $490,275. David Moss and Maurice McKendry winning the Firestone Free For All at Addington By French sire Gekoj David Moss with his giant frame was always going to take time. David Moss was out of Hickory Pride mare Proud Countess and was bred by Captain Oddvar Andersen of Oslo who came to New Zealand in the 1960’s to supervise Scandinavian shipping. He met the Cox family while in Southland. “He was down in Bluff looking at the facilities and was with someone from Wrights Stevenson’s. He said he had horses back in Norway and he’d like to go and see a stable somewhere. The agent knew Dad. He ended up at our place and it went from there.” Cox says Andersen became Norwegian Console General in New Zealand and had always been keen on racing, particularly trotters. “He had mares and stallions and loved his racing. I haven’t been talking to him in the last 12 months. A friend of mine that lives in Norway said he’s starting to fail now but he’s in his mid-90s.” Early on Andersen brought French stallions to New Zealand including Beau Nonantais, Inter Du Pas and the sire of David Moss, Gekoj. Andersen and Harry Cox formed a common bond and Cox received a half share in David Moss. “He was broken in by Keith Norman I think and then he came to our place. He was just jogged for two or three years. He got a bit of fast work. We had him in the jog cart and tied a couple of horses on the side and another couple off him” said Cox. David Moss didn’t start racing until he was a 6-year-old. “I remember before Dad passed away. He’d had a few heart turns but always tried to get out and do the horses. He said he (David Moss) wouldn’t be much good until he was four or five as the French breed didn’t go early. He just kept pottering away with him and said ‘don’t worry about him boy, he’ll be okay one day.” And so it proved to be. Harry wasn’t around to see it but John Cox, who took over the training of the massive trotter knew he had a future star on his hands. David Moss qualified at Ascot Park as a six year old and was lightly raced in his first season, having just four starts for two wins. The following season as a seven year old he started to turn heads winning nine races including a forty one length victory at Ascot Park in September 1990 in a C2 and faster trot over 2700 metres. “Dad always said a good driver never looks back so I let him trot as he liked. It wasn’t until I was pulling up that I realized the rest weren’t there. When you set him alight you knew you had something in front of you that’s for sure,” said John Cox who drove him that day. Another impressive win that season was at Forbury Park in October. “My brother in-law Clarrie Woodward drove him that night. He was back a bit and in the last 400 he was out about five or six wide. It was just a phenomenal run. I was talking to Ray Jenkins afterwards. He said he could tell my horse was coming because he could hear the crowd starting to cheer. My horse just got up and beat Ray (The Expatriate) in the last few strides (neck).” Cox trained him for the majority of his career, winning twenty six races with him. He also had stints with Clive Herbert and Bob Mellsop who trained him to win three races including the 1993 National Trot and the 1994 New Zealand Trotting Championship. He was also with Robert Cameron for a short period and he trained him to win two races including the 1993 Dominion Handicap. “He had the speed of a pacer. I remember driving him at a trial at Ashburton getting ready for the Dominion. I was sitting three back and he came home and he was just jogged it running a quarter in 28 which you’re expect the pacers to do then. He was just a bloody good big plain horse,” said Cameron. This is race 6 from New Zealand's Addington Raceway. Here we see Maurice McKendry in the sulky behind David Moss, as they win the Dominion Trotting Handicap. The race-caller is Reon Mertha. Cox also trained him to win three from four starts in Australia including the 1994 Australasian Trotters’ Championship at Moonee Valley in Melbourne when driven by Maurice McKendry. This is race 7 above from Melbourne's Moonee Valley Paceway.Here we see Maurice McKendry in the sulky behind David Moss,as they win the Australasian Trotters Championship.The race-caller is Brian Markovic. “Maurice was three wide for a long time and just got up in the last few strides. It was a phenomenal run. Maurice said it was a great run and he could hear the Aussie drivers talking when he was going forward. He said they said ‘here he comes now’ and they just kept bumping him out one and they weren’t going anywhere.” Cox says the only thing missing on the horse’s CV is an Interdominion Finals win. “He won four heats and ran a second and a fourth. At Christchurch when he ran fourth (in the final) it was wet and he wasn’t as good in the wet as he was on the hard going.” There are plenty of great memories for the Cox family from a truly great Southern Bred Southern Reared Trotter David Moss. “It always helps to have a good horse to get you around the country, that’s for sure.” This is the story about the giant New Zealand trotter David Moss.   Bruce Stewart

The 5/10 favorite Bilibili (9m Niky-Quetty du Donjon) stalked the leaders and wore them down in late stretch to win the Prix de Cornulier (Gr. I International Monte, purse 650,000€ 2700 meters, 16 starters) for jockey Alexandre Abrivard clocked in 1.12.1kr off even fractions. Laurent Claude Abrivard trains the winner for breeder/owner Jean Pierre Barjon as Bilibili repeated his 2019 victory and now has 14 career wins in 45 starts for 1,803,100€ earned. Roxane Grif was also a repeat winner in recent years (2015-16). The 17/1 Etoile e Bruyere (6f Kenor de Cosse) held second for Adrien Lamy and trainer Charles Dreux. Third was 14/1 Feeling Cash (5m Ready Cash-Royale Star) with Eric Raffin in the irons for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Carlos Lerner. The 75/1 Carla du Castelets and 31/1 Evangelina Blue completed the top five. The exact order Quinte+ top five payoff was 9.905.60 to 174 ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 5,808.430€ and over 11,937,000€ was wagered on the race.  To watch the replay, click here. The time of the race in kilometers was 1'12''1, which did not break last year’s record of 1'11''2, but it was still the 4th best time in the history of the race. Alexandre Abrivard signs a third victory in the Grand Prix de Cornulier, twenty days after being crowned Etrier d'Or for the second time. His trainer Laurent-Claude Abrivard won for the second time with the developer costume (he also won it as a jockey). For owner-breeder Jean-Pierre Barjon, this is a new triumph in one of the two biggest winter races at Paris-Vincennes, he too who saw his colors shine in the Grand Prix d'Amérique with Meaulnes of Corta . The Grand Prix d'Amérique whose 2020 edition is also on the horizon for next week. This time, the father and son Abrivards will be gathered around Excellent , winner of the Ténor de Baune Prize and candidate for the first places. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Standardbred Canada reports that continuing on the comeback trail came Sintra with his third-consecutive victory from a six-month layoff in the $36,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park Saturday (Jan. 18). With Bob McClure sitting in the sulky, Sintra floated into fifth while Nirvana Seelster set the pace to the quarter in :26.4. Youaremycandygirl, sitting in the pocket, then circled to the front and took the field past the half in :55. McClure moved Sintra off the pegs heading into the final turn and caught cover from East End flushing first over towards three-quarters in 1:23. Into the stretch McClure fanned wide of cover and charged Sintra past his competition to hit the finish in 1:50.4, three lengths better than Points North closing for second. East End held third. A seven-year-old gelding by Mach Three, Sintra won his 27th race from 60 starts, earning $1,162,436. Dave Menary conditions the $3.60 winner for owners Michael Guerriero, Kelly Waxman, Nunzio Vena and Frank Cirillo. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It figures the way things are going lately for harness racing driver Dexter Dunn that if he had a decision to make, it would be the right one. And in Saturday night's feature at the Meadowlands - the $37,500 Preferred for pacers - the red-hot driver naturally chose correctly. The 30-year-old native of New Zealand had choice of three in the race: Effronte A, who became harness racing's fastest performer of 2020 by virtue of a 1:48.3 clocking a week ago; Harambe Deo, an iron-tough winner of two of his last three; and Franco Totem N, who finished a close second in two of the last three weekly pacing features. Dunn opted for Franco Totem N and the 7-year-old gelded son of Changeover-Treaty Franco responded with a huge mile, clearing the lead while parked to the half in :55.2, taking bitter pressure from McThriller to three-quarters in 1:23.4, and then finishing the job by kicking home in :27.3 to hit the finish in 1:51.2. "He raced the way he looked.....great," said Dunn. "He's a very nice horse and doesn't take anything out of himself in the mile." Endeavor, the 2-1 second choice in the betting, left the gate from post six, but with many leavers to his inside, had to take back to last in the field of six before sprinting home in :26.4 after swinging three-wide at three-quarters to claim second, just a half-length back of the winner. Harambe Deo rallied for third. Effronte A was scratched.   Franco Totem N scored as the 6-5 public choice and returned $4.40 to his backers. He is trained by Nifty Norman, owned by Enzed Racing Stable and Jerry Kovach and now has 21 wins from 64 lifetime starts and $163,189 in his bank account. The remarkable Dunn, who took both features over the course of the weekend, kept winning at a torrid clip, recording five victories Saturday. Over the last three race cards, he's visited the winner's circle 16 times and now has a total of 23 victories to lead the Big M standings. Last Saturday, he hit victory lane on seven occasions to fall one win short of tying the Big M record. Yannick Gingras went toe-to-toe with Dunn over the course of this weekend's action, matching Dunn with four Friday winners and five Saturday scores, meaning the Dynamic Duo won 64 percent of the 28 races offered over the two-day race week. Trainer Ron Burke conditioned four of Gingras' Saturday winners. A LITTLE MORE: JL Cruze, the first trotter ever to break the 1:50 barrier at the Big M, won a high-end conditioned trot in 1:53.4 as the 1-9 favorite to win his second straight. ... Montrell Teague, who was the guest on the Big M's in-house "In the Sulky" interview segment, guided Kid PK to victory in the Dr. Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, an event that featured African-American drivers. ... Kid PK and driver Montrell Teague winning the MLK Pace Favorite players wore out a path to the windows as seven post-time choices scored. Twelve of the 14 races were won by horses whose odds were 5-2 or less. ... The second edition of the Cam-Am Pick-4 returned $77.14, in sharp contrast to last week's payoff of over $1,400. ... All-source handle on the program totaled $2,395,435. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. From the Meadowlands Media Department

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 18, 2020-- Harness racing favorite Swansea (Austin Siegelman, $4.30) was left to his own devices Saturday night (Jan 18th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's 'sloppy' $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. From assigned post position No. 5, Swansea found himself as the only leaver. With no issues, he worked around pole-sitting Mostinterestingman (George Brennan) before a :28.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, a :58.4 intermission before sharp interloper Now's the Moment (Jason Bartlett) moved from third. The invader was quite good this night, but Swansea had too many things (cheap lead, comfy teletimer) working to his advantage. After a 1:27.2 three-quarters, he had two lengths in and out of the final turn. Swansea closed the sale, handily widening to 3½ lengths in 1:56.3. Now's the Moment served notice holding second, with Yes (Brent Holland), Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton) settling for the small change after never factoring. Mostinterestingman backpedaled to sixth.   For Swansea, a now-5-year-old Swan for All gelding co-owned by Triple D Stables & Dana Parham and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts (career 21-for-47). The exacta paid $28, with the triple returning $78.50. Special Saturday props to season-debuting Ostro Hanover (Dan Dube, $8.70), wiring his foes in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace (1:54). Also, the venerable 11-year-old gelding Melady's Monet (Brennan, $3) made it 62-for-203 with his 1:55.2 win in the $27,000, second-race trot. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

A Gs White Socks put in an extraordinary all-the-way win in the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, saluting for Greg Sugars and Greg and Nina Hope to cap a terrific night's racing at Bray Raceway. A big crowd also saw the Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby be turned on its head as pre-series favourites Smooth Deal and Be Happy Mach failed to earn direct finals qualification, while the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks looks on course for a terrific showdown between Stylish Memphis and Maajida. Let's relive it all race-by-race. PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup A Gs White Socks took complete control of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup and had enough left in the tank to stave off a blistering finish from his countrymen and claim the coveted cup in a Kiwi one-two-three. Pre-race favourite Self Assured and All Stars Racing stablemate Chase Auckland savaged the line late but ultimately fell a tick over a metre shy of the eventual winner, much to the delight of A Gs White Socks' first-time reinsman Greg Sugars and trainers Greg and Nina Hope. A Gs White Socks winning the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup    --Photo Stuart McCormick "(It's a) big thrill actually," Sugars said post-race. "I've come close a couple of times with one of my all time favourites Sushi Sushi, so to get this one over the line is super." Sugars advanced to the front with comfort, crossing Tam Major and feeling little heat throughout the race, with Victorian Code Bailey moving to the breeze and remaining there for the entirety of the 2710-metre classic. A Gs White Socks followed an 81.4-second lead time with a 59.3-second first half mile, a gentle pace that had Sugars full of confidence. "You've got to expect to go at least that quick in these sorts of races," he said. "My first time sitting behind this horse, he's such an easy going free-roller. He was just cruising, I was very confident a long way out." Come the final turn Code Bailey boxed on well but was unable to threaten the leader and Our Uncle Sam emerged as a potential challenger but was left in the dust of Self Assured and Chase Auckland, but none could challenge the eventual winner. "He was full of running around the turn and I knew they would have to be starting to make their moves so we put the foot down the best we could," Sugars said. "He just started to feel the pinch the last 50 metres, thankfully he held on." That relief was also felt by co-trainer Greg Hope. "Amazing really, we've always thought he was up with the very best," Hope said. "It's good to prove it on the big stage. We went in like an underdog really. People don't think he's that good but we know from training him, we've always realised that he's pretty special. Hopefully he will go on with it now." The win means all the more as a tribute to regular reinsman Ricky May, the much respected Kiwi who recently collapsed while driving A Gs White Socks and had to be revived on-course. "Ricky will be on next season," Hope said. "He's going to be as good as gold, he's going to be a brand new man." To watch the video replay click here.   Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby Heat One Pacifico Dream grabbed control of the first Victoria Derby heat and was essentially unthreatened for Kate Gath and Emma Stewart, winning by three metres and only enhancing his reputation for next Saturday's Tabcorp Park final. While there was plenty of action in the running line as the breeze swapped hands until Youaremy Sunshine settled in with a little over a lap to go, Gath and Pacifico Dream were unruffled in front. "He got his own way even though there were plenty of moves, there was no speed on," Gath told Sky Racing Active. The leader had plenty in the tank for a 26.6-second last quarter, with Mach Da Vinci emerging from leader's back to force a gap inside Youaremy Sunshine and relegate the latter to a valiant third. There was no such hustle for Pacifico Dream. "He felt pretty good at the end," Gath said. "I still left the ear plugs on, I think he would have found a bit more with those off but he dashed up good himself, so I just let him do his thing and he was good. "It was a lovely run for him first up and it is really good going forward into the final." Joining the aforementioned first three in the final will be fourth-placed Soho Hamilton (Michael Stanley), who finished 8.4 metres off the winner. To watch the video replay click here.   Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby Heat Two No stranger to a Victoria Derby tilt is Grant Dixon and he looks into the 2020 version up to his eyeballs after Governor Jujon led them a merry dance in the night's second heat. Having easily slid to the lead over pole marker Gee Smith, Governor Jujon was unchallenged for much of the running, including a 31.2-second second quarter. It was during the latter that Mirragon advanced three-wide and Emma Stewart's runner put some pace in the race, with Perfect Stride picking up in the breeze and the leader switching on to race mode. Governor Jujon looked to have all the answers, particularly once Gee Smith galloped at the turn and unsettled the peg line, with Perfect Stride boxing on for second, some 9.3 metres off the leader, while Hesty and Mirragon filled the all-important third and fourth placings. It was a happy Grant Dixon who spoke to Sky Racing Active's Cassie Fahey post-race. "He felt good. Obviously the draw's a big help and we got a reasonable time the first half of the race and he was able to kick home," Dixon said. "The final will be a lot more intense and fingers crossed for another good draw." Dixon will be hoping to emulate his 2018 triumph, when Colt Thirty One claimed the Derby. "They've got their different ways, but we are obviously rapt with both horses and it would be perfect if (Governor Jujon) could follow in his footsteps." To watch the video replay click here.   Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby Heat Three Heat Three was the race many were waiting for but not the result they were expecting, with Line Up an exceptional all-the-way winner while Derby finals favourites Smooth Deal and Be Happy Mach failed to finish in the first four. Be Happy Mach, Victoria's standout two-year-old for Emma Stewart, finished fifth and will be emergency for next Saturday's Group 1 final at Tabcorp Park, but while some big names failed to fire Line Up only enhanced his reputation. Trained and driven by Anthony Butt, Line Up was challenged early by Smooth Deal and held off Mark Purdon's advance while laying the foundation for a 78.9-second lead time, some 3.6 seconds faster than any other Derby heat. He ran even time for the first and second quarters and then got home in a 56.3-second last half mile to separate from the field, winning by 3.3 metres from Stewart's Mach Dan, with Virgil and breeze horse Bad To The Bone filling out the qualifying positions. It was a rapt Anthony Butt who spoke to Trots Media post-race."He's a lovely horse. He's a good front runner," Butt said. "He didn't get it easy and he held them off well. "He's been racing really well in New Zealand against the best of the best. He ran third in the Sires Stakes final on Cup Day, which was a great race, so I knew he wasn't too far away from being up with the best of them." To watch the video replay click here.   E B Cochran Trotters Cup Talented mare Dance Craze was best placed and capitalised in an eventful E B Cochran Trotters Cup, scoring by a head from Tornado Valley and a neck from Wobelee. Sitting in the breeze after they settled with her biggest rival on her back, reigning Great Southern Star champion Dance Craze found the front when early leader Kheiron galloped mid-race. Andy Gath's star trotter Tornado Valley, who broke in the score up and then narrowly missed the start, then occupied the breeze and it became a showdown between Victoria's leading trotters. Dance Craze had the answers in a 27.6-second final quarter, while Wobelee, in his biggest open-age race to date, loomed large late and took ground out of the leaders, but even his explosive pace wasn't enough to claw past the top two. The ramifications could be significant for Tornado Valley, who is now out of the draw in mobile starts after tonight's woes only a fortnight out from the What The Hill Great Southern Star. To watch the video replay click here.   Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks Heat One The Kiwis fired the first shot of the TAB Summer of Glory with Stylish Memphis doing plenty in the run and still having enough left in the tank to close in a 26.9-second final quarter and win the first of the night's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks heats. It was an impressive display by the race favourite, who had to work when sitting outside of initial leader Dr Susan. Reinsman Mark Purdon, who's driving for training combination Mark Jones and Benny Hill, said Stylish Memphis was pulling and he was "a passenger", prompting a second bid for the lead which he claimed after a lap. "I had one go at Anthony and he really didn't want to give it up," Purdon said. "She was pulling harder and harder and I was really a passenger." While Jenden Strike boxed on terrifically for Anthony Frisby to place third, only fellow Kiwi Dr Susan, for Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon, threatened Stylish Memphis in the closing stages, but the latter had all the answers. "She stuck to her task well," Mark Purdon said. Stylish Memphis, Dr Susan and Jenden Strike will be joined in the final by Its Beaujolais (John Yeomans/John Caldow), Alice Kaye (Adam Kelly/Josh Duggan) and Amelia Rose (Emma Stewart/Kima Frenning), who finished in places four to six. To watch the video replay click here.   Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks Heat Two There was a little pre-race trepidation that Maajida may not be at her peak but Emma Stewart's Australian two-year-old of the year had all the answers to win her heat of the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks. While Soho Gloria Jane battled on well for trainer-driver Michael Stanley and Good Faith finished impressively for Jackie and Jim Barker, Maajida responded to every challenge. Reinsman Greg Sugars had to work to find the front, urging Maajida forward as she slid past Soho Gloria Jane, but from there he was able to completely dictate the pace. Stablemate Jemstone advanced to the breeze and Sugars set an 81.7-second lead time, almost two seconds slower than the first heat. A 31.9-second second quarter maintained a modest pace and then Maajida got home in a 56.5-second last half mile to salute in a 1:59.3 mile rate, two seconds slower than the rate Stylish Memphis set in the first. But it was more than enough to secure a 2.4-metre win and advance to next week's final at Tabcorp Park Melton along with Soho Gloria Jane (Michael Stanley), Good Faith (Jim Barker/Jackie Barker), Itz Longtall Sally (Gary and Deb Quinlan/Chris Svanosio), Its Ebonynivory (John Yeomans/James Herbertson) and Rockingwithsierra (Gary Hobans/John Caldow). To watch the video replay click here.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard photos by Stuart McCormick

YONKERS, N.Y. – Trainer Rene Allard is off to a fast start in the 2020 season at Yonkers Raceway. Allard has topped the track’s trainer standings in three of the last five years and was the runner up in the other two. Just nine programs into the new season, Allard’s tally is 13-for-42 with another 15 seconds and thirds. “We’re only racing about half the barn right now and the ones that we’re racing are in good spots, so it helps. When you’re only racing half the barn, it’s easier to keep a higher average,” Allard said. “I have approximately 30 horses who are going to qualify between now and the middle of February. I’m very happy with the start of the year so far. During the Yonkers break, we kept them fit and trained and as soon as they opened, we were ready to go.” The trainer recently completed an addition to his Middletown, N.Y. barn that added another 12 stalls, brining his total to 84. Only seven remain unoccupied, and that number could shrink to zero after Sunday’s Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands. “I try to keep the barn full and there’s the young horses that are training down in Florida right now. I have nine yearlings that are down in Florida training down. In the spring they’re going to come here. We always make it work,” Allard said. “The winter, we back down to usually 60. In the summer, we go up to 120. Right now, I probably have a little bit more horses than I usually do this time of the year, so I have a feeling we’ll be pretty busy.” Allard has four entrants on the Saturday night (Jan. 18) program at the Hilltop. Among them is Ostro Hanover, who seeks his fourth straight victory in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace. The 5-year-old gelding, owned in partnership by Go Fast Stable, B And I Stable, VIP Internet Stable, and Kapildeo Singh is 15-for-46 in his career with $256,466 earned. “He finished his year very strong, I was very happy with him. He’s been sharp and we’re taking a shot in the Preferred,” Allard said. Ostro Hanover won seven of his first 16 races for Frank Yanoti before joining Allard’s ranks as a companion to his standout 3-year-old pacer Springsteen in July 2018. However, Ostro Hanover went 0-for-6 to close his sophomore season, finishing third in the New York Sire Stakes Final beaten 11 1/4 lengths. “We really liked what we saw. I saw him win a couple times. We contacted the owner and we bought him and we thought he could be a great 3-year-old for the New York Sire Stakes,” Allard said. “Since we were going with Springsteen and they have multiple divisions, we thought, why not have two? We bought him and he was OK. I think we just did OK with him. We expected him to maybe be a little better the first year.” Allard stopped with Ostro Hanover after the NYSS Final Sept. 22, 2018 and he reemerged as a gelding a qualifier March 27, 2019. Ostro Hanover rattled off two straight wins in the conditions at Saratoga to begin his 4-year-old campaign. “He got a little bit sore at the end there. He was always a little bit weird behind, we couldn’t figure it out,” Allard said. “We castrated him, turned him out, and gave him time, and he came back really good. He was always pacing a little funny behind before, but once we did that, he came back good.” Although Ostro Hanover earned a check in nine straight starts, he continued to find the winner’s circle elusive. His next victory came July 6 in a $17,500 overnight at Pocono Downs. “The 4-year-old year is the toughest year for any horse. You go from racing only 3-year-olds and then you have to race against the world,” Allard said. “I don’t race my 4-year-olds as heavily. Last year, I had Springsteen, Simple Kinda Man, and Ostro Hanover, we didn’t race them as hard as some of the 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds. As the year goes on, it seems like they catch up to the rest.” As the year progressed, Allard saw Ostro Hanover continue to develop physically and mentally. “The one thing I’ve noticed is he used to gallop a lot when he jogged and now he paces almost all the time. He’s gotten stronger, he’s built a little more muscle,” Allard said. “His attitude has been great since he’s a gelding. When he was a colt, he was a little bit inconsistent. He had better days, bad days. Now, he never has a bad day. As they year went on, he got better and better, so we were happy with that.” By the end of the season, Ostro Hanover was firing on all cylinders. He won a $20,000 overnight at Yonkers Nov. 9 and after a third-place finish Nov. 21, earned a win in a $30,000 overnight Nov. 30. The next logical move was the Open Handicap Pace. However, Allard had another plan. He put Ostro Hanover in a $75,000 claimer for a $30,000 purse Dec. 7, taking advantage of the 25% allowance in the final month of Ostro Hanover’s 4-year-old season. The move paid off as Ostro Hanover doubled up. He won in the same class on the final Saturday of the season, scoring his third straight victory. “We figured he was a 4-year-old, so if anybody claimed him, they had to pay $100,000 for the horse,” Allard said. “We didn’t think anybody was going to claim him and we thought it was a good spot for him, so we took advantage of his 4-year-old allowance to get a couple wins out of it. But the plan was, after January to put him back in the conditioned races.” Ostro Hanover qualified Jan. 10, finishing second by a neck to Preferred rival Jack’s Legend. Allard thinks the gelding is ready to go in his first pari-mutuel start of the year. “We’ll see what happens. He’s been training good, he’s trained every three days for the last three weeks in the Yonkers break and then last week, they didn’t use the Open or the Preferred, so we qualified him and he qualified well; we were happy with him. “I think the horse is feeling good, he’s fresh, and I think he belongs in there. It’s a bit of a step up, but when the horse’s feelings are not hurt and the confidence is there, usually they show up. They’re kind of like humans with their feelings. Right now, he thinks he’s one of the best because he’s won his last three. I think that reflects in their performance when they’re feeling brave.” Ostro Hanover will start from post six with regular driver Dan Dube in the sulky. Jack’s Legend, who won two Open Handicaps and finished second in another last fall for Rich Banca, will start from post seven with Jason Bartlett in the bike. Reagan’s Avenger and Tookadiveoffdipper each won their last start in the Yonkers overnight ranks and step up into the Preferred. Benson Boys, Twin B Tuffenuff, and Benhope Rulz complete the lineup. “I think it’s not too bad of a spot,” Allard said. “There’s a couple nice horses in there. Banca’s horse is probably the best horse, but he drew outside. There’s a couple nice horses, but I think if he gets in the hunt with the right trip, he’ll definitely be right with them.” Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Hungary’s National Trotting Breeders' Association continues its training series, which was launched in 2018, on January 28, 2020 (10:30 am at Kincsem Park), when a world-recognized harness racing breeder and executive, Dr. Paul F. ’’Pete” Spears, will direct our further training. Dr. Spears is President of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, that conducts an annual early November auction in Harrisburg, PA ((USA), and formerly Vice President of Hanover Shoe Farms, practically growing up there, as his father worked as President and Treasurer of that world renown breeding facility. Dr. Spears has been very active in trot racing and breeding for several decades (his family’s Windsong Stable bred Hambletonian winner Windsong’s Legacy among many stakes winners), and his main expertise is genetics, pedigree analysis and auctions. Standardbred Horse Sales Company In his lecture, Dr. Spears will present examples of the possibility of pairing on related breeding and line breeding issues. He gives his opinion on the x-position and talks about the correct decisions that affect the effectiveness of breeding. There's great interest in this event. In view of this, please indicate your intention to participate by e-mail (ugeto@ugeto.com) as soon as possible. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Last Friday, Major Occasion A flew home in :25.3, but because she was eighth at three-quarters while three-wide, had to settle for second at the hands of rival Sandy Win, who would win a third straight harness racing start. Driver Dexter Dunn made sure that wasn't going to happen again. Major Occasion A, instead of racing from well off the pace as she had in her first two North American outings, was hustled to the top at the half this time around and had little trouble from there, recording an easy score in the Friday night feature at the Meadowlands, a $25,000 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares. Dunn, who would go on to win four times on the program after his incredible seven-winner night last Saturday, had Major Occasion A in the four-hole early before brushing up to take command at the half while parked before settling in on the point. Ideal Lifestyle A was left first-over at this point while applying token pressure as Major Occasion A used a :27.1 third quarter to maintain a safe 1½-length lead on the pocket-sitting Odds On St Lucie. Through the stretch, no one threatened the 1-2 favorite, who reported home an easy 1¾-length winner in 1:51 after pacing her final half in 54.2. Odds On St Lucie held second with Wisdom Tree rallying for third. Sandy Win failed in her bid for a fourth straight score, settling for fourth after racing three-wide at three-quarters from mid-pack. Major Occasion A, a 6-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion who is trained by Nifty Norman, returned $3.00 to her backers and has now won 16 times from 51 lifetime starts for owners Enzed Racing Stable. Her earnings stand at $193,280. For Dunn, it was merely another day at the salt mine, with one - make that two - exceptions. The 30-year-old New Zealand native did score with the heavy favorite in the feature and with 4-1 Hammer Time in a mid-range conditioned trot, but he also won with a pair of longshots. The 2019 United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year guided 20-1 Bold Goddess to victory lane in a low-end conditioned trot and also scored with the night's biggest price of the night with 26-1 chance Auteur Hanover, who hit the wire first in another low-end conditioned trot. Dunn now has 18 winners at the winter meeting and is well in front of Corey Callahan, whose driving double gave him 10 victories, good for second in the driver standings. A PAIR OF FOURS: Yannick Gingras is apparently not interested in Dunn running away with the driver's title, as the Big M overall driver champ from 2019 also guided four to the winner's circle. A LITTLE MORE: One sharp player betting into the Oregon Express hub held the only ticket to last five legs in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $8,596.70. The wager has now paid at least $3,526.86 during each of the last five race cards. ... Chalk players took it on the chin most of the night as only two favorites won over the first 12 races, which helped bolster the payouts of the 50-cent Pick-5 ($6,292.35) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($3,155.05). ... All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,416,176. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Standardbred Canada reports that round one of the Snowshoe Series went postward Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with three divisions on tap for three- and four-year-old male pacers. The betting public hammered away at Bettor B Going, and the 1-9 favourite came through for his army of pari-mutuel supporters. The four-year-old son of Bettors Delight-JK Letitgo got away third for driver Chris Christoforou while Side Hill Gouger shot to the lead and carved out an opening panel clocked in :28.2. As soon as the field straightened into the backstretch Christoforou called on Bettor B Going to brush to the front. The Wilford Perrault pupil cleared to the engine in an effortless manner, and from there he went on to post middle splits of :58 and 1:27.2. A :27-second closing quarter earned Bettor B Going to win by 1-1/4 lengths over Side Hill Gouger in 1:54.2. Excavator was third. Grant and Joanne Curnow of Pefferlaw, Ont. share ownership on the six-time winner who pushed his overall cash stash to $63,239 with the victory. American Risk pulled off a mild upset in the second division thanks to his gate-to-wire triumph over race favourite Conboyville. Bob McClure hustled American Risk to the lead from Post 1, and together they fronted the field through fractions of :27.2, :57.1 and 1:25.4. Conboyville applied first-over pressure on the leader at the mid-way point of the final turn, but American Risk used a :27.3 closing quarter to prevail over that foe by a half-length margin. Blu Crew rallied to grab third prize. The mile for American Risk was a career-best clocking of 1:53.2. Melissa Lamoureux trains the four-year-old son of American Ideal-Kissing Bandit for 8113564 Canada Ltd of Sherwood Park, AB and Jeff Boyd of Cambridge, Ont. The victory was the third straight score for the gelding who is now a six-time winner with earnings in excess of $48,000. Warrawee Vital used last second heroics to come through as the heavy favourite in the third – and final – division. Trevor Henry rallied the Rob Fellows trainee to the narrow triumph over longshot Bernie. Warrawee Vital got away fifth while Lyons Coppertop and Bernie battled to the quarter pole in :28.4. Bernie eventually cleared to the top, and he went on to carve out middle fractions of :58 and 1:26.1. Warrawee Vital commenced a rally going into the final turn, and despite spotting the leader a number of lengths he managed to use a :26.2 closing quarter to get up for the neck decision over Bernie in 1:54. D Gs Shallwedance was third. Blair Corbeil, Yolanda Fellows and M&S Racing Stable share ownership on the three-year-old son of Captaintreacherous-Great Memories. The colt is 2-for-2 to start the season and 3-for-4 in his career. The $9,000 payday bumped his overall bankroll to $25,500. To view results for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.

If Self Assured lives up to the mega hype in tonight’s $110,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup his owner, Jean Feiss, will celebrate by doing her favourite thing – she will get up tomorrow morning to inspect yearlings. That won’t be a matter of just popping down the road; the 69-year-old retired Victorian horse trainer will fly to New Zealand to look at yearlings. By herself. That dedication, that love of the young horse, is one reason Feiss is one of the most successful owners in harness racing. The other is an association that started more than a decade ago. Trainer Mark Purdon was looking for a farm to base his horses at in Victoria. He visited the property owned by Feiss and her husband, Bill, which was being used by son Matt. Purdon liked the property and liked the people. Next time Purdon bought a horse at the sales Bill and Jean wanted in and a remarkable association begun. As Feiss got out of training – “we had some success but not many horses people would know that well” – her and Bill upped their yearling buying. And when you can’t beat them, join them, so Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen became their trainers and the winners flowed. She has owned a champion in Vincent, who was hot favourite for the Ballarat Cup two years ago until he suffered a career-ending injury. Spanish Armada was another favourite, while she owns New Zealand’s best filly this season in Amazing Dream. And, of course, last-start Auckland Cup winner Self Assured and huge Victoria Derby chance Smooth Deal. So how does a former trainer from Victoria find the needles in the yearling sales haystack? “I usually start with the page (breeding) and then I look at the horses myself,” she said. “That is why I will fly to New Zealand on Sunday morning. I’ll go to all the farms I want to see and I like to go by myself, not as part of a tour. “Then I can see the horses and compare them a month later when they go for sale.” Once Feiss makes her list she cross-references that with Purdon and Rasmussen and the list becomes shorter. Feiss rarely misses the ones on the short list. “I think the gap between New Zealand yearlings and the Australian ones has closed a lot but I like buying there and I love racing there. “I like the travelling, even though Bill can’t come that often these days because he has dodgy knees. The group racing in New Zealand is very strong and the industry has a lot of enthusiasm.” So what does Feiss’ magic eye look for? “Never just one thing, it’s the whole package. I think most of us look at the same things, we just interpret them differently.” What is not open for interpretation is that Self Assured is exceptional. Feiss took a risk on him as he was an embryo transfer foal, which some buyers shy away from. The only two times he has been beaten is when missing away from standing starts, but tonight he faces the biggest test of his career, drawn inside the second line in a star-studded Ballarat Cup. “He is very good, we don’t know how good yet,” Feiss said. If he gets clear air at Ballarat tonight we should all find out.   Michael Guerin

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