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The Fat Man and So Demanding will carry Hamilton trainer David Lewis’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series hopes on Friday night at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton. Lewis says both horses have solid chances of qualifying for the July 4 Super Series finals but added both would find winning on Friday night difficult. The Fat Man, who traditionally races near the front of the field, has drawn inside the back line in the four-year-old entires and geldings’ second semi-final. Hectorjayjay flies the arm and is drawn to lead in gate two, which should see The Fat Man buried away at least three back on the pegs behind polemarker Field Major. Lewis doesn’t mind that outcome, though freely admits winning from there with a horse not known for his turn of foot will be tricky. “We’ll get our chance ... I think Hectorjayjay leads, which puts us three back on the inside. My gut feel is something else will come around,” Lewis said. “He’s the sort of horse who needs to get out and roll along a bit but it’s not a bad spot to be in in terms of qualifying for the final. “I reckon he’ll improve sharply this Friday, he’s just no good as a sit-and-sprint horse. “If he was to get into the final and get the right draw he could spring a surprise.” So Demanding will start from pole in the four-year-old mares’ second semi-final, Lewis hoping the mare can utilise her lethal turn of foot at the right time. “She’s pretty limited but she can rip through a pretty quick quarter,” he said. “She can’t do any work. She’s drawn for a soft trip, so that’ll help.” Regular driver John Caldow is committed to Barynya, drawn barrier eight, so Luke McCarthy will pick up the drive on So Demanding. CODY WINNELL

The exciting Dancingwithsierra resumes tomorrow night at the harness racing meeting at Kilmore in the third heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred 2YO Fillies Super Series.   After making a huge splash at her first prep with three wins and a second from four starts, the Gary Hoban-trained daughter of Modern Art/Sierra Tango has tuned up for tomorrow night’s hit-out with two recent trials (a win at Melton on May 25 in 2:02.7, last half 57.9) and a third at Ballarat on June 6 behind Emma Stewart pair Heavens Trend and Beaming.   John Caldow takes the reins aboard the Toolern Vale filly tomorrow night from barrier five.   The in-form Brent Lilley stable, which scored a quintet at Melton last Friday night, has New Romantics engaged in this heat from barrier four for Anthony Butt.   The daughter of Art Major/Showtime Franco debuted with a 10.1m fourth behind Whirily School before running second beaten 3.3m by that horse in the $50,000 Vicbred Home Grown Classic Final on May 15.   Geoff Webster presents Mach Three/Indi Rose filly Sheluvsme first-up since May 15 when fifth in the Home Grown Classic.   She also finished runner-up to Whirily School at Geelong on May 7, beaten 3.1m.   Gumdrops’ half-sister Platinum Power will have her second start after finishing down the track on debut at Maryborough in January for Steven Zammit.   Rocknroll Magic, who defeated Dancingwithsierra in the Des McQueen at Melton on March 14 will line up in barrier 13 with Gavin Lang in the sulky.   Two heats of the three-year-old fillies’ division will be held, the first Race 1 on the card at 5.25pm and the second Race 6 at 8pm.   In the first race, Russell Jack-trained Grand Anse has drawn gate five with Nathan Jack to take the drive.   Grand Anse won the Wagga Oaks in March before heading to Hobart for the Tasmanian Oaks where she finished second to Sudden Change.   A daughter of superstar mare Tailamade Lombo, Maid For You Lombo, will start from barrier four for Monegeetta trainer David Miles, while Yankee Showgirl from the Gary Quinlan stable at Drouin West has the outside-front-row draw to overcome but has won two of her last four outings.   Michael Stanley will line up Soho Berlin from barrier two, the SBSW / Giveusachance filly coming off two minor placings and out of a friendlier barrier than she’s been drawing of late.   Another filly who will appreciate a good draw is the David Aiken-trained Glory Daze, who ran a mighty race behind Sukovia last start after breaking stride and losing considerable ground early at Shepparton.   The second of the three-year-old fillies’ heats sees high-class daughter of Art Major/Golden Showgirl Smooth Showgirl coming out of barrier nine for Belinda McCarthy and Nathan Jack. At her most recent outing Smooth Showgirl collected the win in the Seymour Nursery Final for 3YO Fillies at Albion Park, securing $45,100 in stakes money.   Other fillies in the second of the night’s 3YO fillies’ heats who have shown plenty of promise so far include Starzzz Of Icon, Boadiceas Fury, Another Fireball and Shishi.   CODY WINNELL

Unlike many of her harness racing compatriots, Amarula won’t be chasing any Vicbred or Breeders Crown riches in coming months.   Instead, the three-year-old trotting filly will head to Saturday night’s VHRSC Holmfield and then maybe the Seelite Windows & Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough in August.   Amarula’s driver, John Caldow, whose wife Maree trains the filly, predicted the daughter of Bacardi Lindy/Valley Of The Moon would get better with time.   “Hopefully she comes back a good four-year-old,” he said after mentioning the Trotters Derby being a potential target race.   “She’s a lovely horse and she’s got good high speed.”   Amarula produced a massive run in last weekend’s Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks, attacking the line to finish second behind My Arya.   “There wasn’t a lot of speed early, which didn’t help, so to be able to get home after no speed early it was a really good run,” Caldow said.   While the shorter trip of the Holmfield (1720m) on Saturday night isn’t ideal for the staying type, Caldow said Amarula should still run well.   “She stays really well … and most horses who stay well go pretty good over the short trip anyway,” he said.   “She’s a lovely trotter and I’m sure she’ll go well.”   The Group 2 Holmfield has drawn a stellar line-up with the likes of Fabrication (drawn the pole), Group 1 winner Endsino (barrier two), highly rated gelding Illawong Armstrong (gate four), talented ex-Kiwi Blue Sky Commander for the Butterworth team and Kerryn Manning (gate five), Oaks champion My Arya (barrier eight), rising star Gus An Maori (barrier nine) and champion juvenile Eljaykay Phoenix (barrier 10) in the field.   Cody Winnell

Exciting filly Amarula has drawn to extend her unbeaten Australian record at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.   Successful at her five starts since crossing the Tasman, Amarula will begin from the pole in the New South Wales Trotters’ Oaks, with trainer Maree Caldow confident the youngster can continue her winning streak.   “She is in top shape and will be hard to beat again, especially from the draw,” Caldow said. “This is her biggest test for us, but everything she has done so far suggests she is up to the challenge.”   Kept fresh since her South Australia Trotters’ Derby triumph a fortnight ago, Amarula shapes as the early leader, but is expected to take a trial behind the raging favourite, My Arya, which will begin from gate seven.   My Arya is unbeaten from six Aussie starts this season, including a track record victory at Cranbourne last weekend.   “We will be out to make the most of the draw,” Caldow said. “Whether it is to try and lead all the way or take a trail is up to John (Caldow, driver) when the race unfolds.   “My Arya is clearly the one to beat despite her wide draw.”   In what is destined to be an all-Victorian finish, classy filly Endsino is also expected to make her presence felt.   Winner of two of her three starts this campaign, the Andy Gath-trained daughter of Angus hall is no stranger to Group One glory, having captured last season’s Vicbred Super Series Final at Melton.   Paul Courts

Exciting filly Amarula extended her unbeaten Aussie record with her triumph in last Saturday night’s South Australia Trotters’ Derby. Upstaging the boys in impressive fashion, Amarula stretched her winning streak to five for Victorian horsewoman Maree Caldow. Thrilled with the youngster’s progress, Caldow is planning another interstate trip, but will restrict Amarula to racing against her own sex. “We couldn’t be happier with her,” Caldow said. “She has done a tremendous job since she got here and just seems to be getting better all the time. “The great things about her is she is not one dimensional and can pretty much do everything. “She will have a couple of easy days now, then we will be off again, this time to Menangle for the New South Wales Trotters’ Oaks. “She will return home for the Victoria Trotters’ Oaks after that which will pretty much see out her season. “At this stage there is no plan to take on the boys in the Victoria Trotters’ Derby, but you never how plans can change when looking that far ahead.” Driven by Caldow’s husband, John, during her Blue Riband victory, Amarula began swiftly to lead from barrier seven as the hot favourite, Blue Sky Commander, settled on her back. Proving too slick along the home straight, the daughter of Bacardi Lindy completed a two-metre win from Blue Sky Commander, with Bold Law 22 metres away third. “She came out of the gate well, and once in front, John said she just dropped the bit and strolled along,” Caldow said. “She is a very relaxed filly, which should take her far. “So far she has met every target we’ve set for her and gives every indication she will keep getting better.” The Caldows are no stranger to success in the Derby, having captured the 2008 edition with Lord Of The Gym. PAUL COURTS

Plans remain uncertain for exceptionally-bred harness racing youngster Madeeba despite his victory at Horsham yesterday. Scoring at his second start, the Maree Caldow-trained freshman is eligible for several majors, but his wayward manners may have altered connection’s original schedule. Looking to contest the Vicbred Platinum Series with the two-year-old, Caldow is likely to bypass the Empire Stallions-sponsored feature. “He is out of the draw because of his little mistake at the start yesterday, which could see him miss the Platinum,” Caldow’s reinsman-husband, John, said. “The heats are next week, with the Final eight days later, which means he will be ODM for the series. “Over 1700 metres, that makes it pretty tough, so we may give it a miss and work on getting him back in the draw before the Vicbred heats start up in June. “He’s also got the Breeders’ Crown after that, so there are still plenty of options.” Galloping during the score-up, which saw him miss the start by a conservative 20 metres, Madeeba was sent forward three-wide as soon as he settled into stride. Quickly navigating the field, Madeeba worked his way to the front as Warminster was eased to take the trail. With John sitting quietly in the cart, the colt sprinted to a five-and-a-half metre win from Streetside Classic, with Warminster a head away third. “He is a pretty nice type, which goes well,” John said. “He has always shown a bit of ability and is definitely improving. “Hopefully he can keep improving as the season goes on, but I can’t see any reason why he won’t.” By Courage Under Fire, Madeeba is from former handy mare and good producer, Mesmerizing, which is also the dam of Group One winner, Messini. “She also has a three-year-old by Grinfromeartoear which is about three weeks from trialling,” John said. “He goes already too, but has just been too overgrown to race. There has never been anything wrong with him, he just kept growing and simply wasn’t ready. “With a bit of luck he can make up for lost time.” PAUL COURTS

Victorian harness racing trainer Maree Caldow will aim Macfire towards the Victoria Oaks following the filly’s impressive win at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last Sunday night. Macfire was taken to the Apple Isle for the Tasmania Oaks the previous week, but after finishing third to the Dean Braun-trained Sudden Change, connections opted to keep her in the state to try and win her second three-year-old race before home. Macfire (Mach Three-Sparks Under Fire) worked to the early lead from a wide front row draw, and when driver John Caldow slipped her more rein at the top of the home straight, she drew clear to score by 13 metres from Iden Makin Time. The daughter of Mach Three rated 2:01.5 for the 2090 metres, covering the last half in 58.6 seconds. Caldow said the filly, owned by stalwart stable client Tony Conte, had always shown above average ability and would continue to contest the better three-year-old races. PETER STAPLES

Consistent pacer Me Mate Les has been promising to win a feature race for some time and on Sunday night he finally delivered the goods when he powered home to take out the Light Harness Tasmania Cup over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart. Me Mate Les went into the race on the back of a handy fourth in a heat a week earlier. With ace Victorian reinsman John Caldow aboard, the gelded son of Real Desire trailed the leaders to the home turn before easing out three-wide to challenge and he finished too powerfully for his rivals. Me Mate Les went on to score by four metres from Supersub that faced the breeze for the final two laps, with Might Jasper coming from well back to grab third 3-1/2 metres away. The six-year-old has only been with trainer Andrew Rawlings a short while but he has managed to get the best out of the gelding while in his care. It was a masterful drive from Caldow who was aware that Me Mate Les would not appreciate being in front if eye-balled by another horse so when Rohan Hadley sent Pushkin around the field Caldow was quick to hand up the lead. Nathan Ford aboard Supersub was not content with the speed in the race so he too went forward from beyond midfield to face the breeze. Supersub forged to the lead turning for home the last time but he had no answer to Me Mate Les's finishing burst. Peter Staples

A week after his older sibling’s national record performance, Mesmeric has taken a step towards his harness racing debut. From former handy mare and now top producer Mersmerizing, Mesmeric is a half-brother to boom New Zealander, Messini. Although bred in Victoria by the Caldow family, Messini was purchased by clients of champion Kiwi horseman, Mark Purdon. Last week Messini captured the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day, in a record 1:55.8 for the 2600 metres. Also bred by the Caldows, Mesmeric won his trial over 1690 metres, with record-breaking reinsman John Caldow in the cart. The three-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear is trained by Caldow’s wife, Maree. “He is still a while off racing, but he goes alright,” Caldow said. “I trialled him as a two-year-old, but he was too big, so I gelded him. “Because of his size we’ve taken our time with him. “He’ll have to improve a fair bit to be as good as his half-brother, but the raw ability is there.” With Mersmerizing recently producing a colt by Bettors Delight, the Caldows are planning to send the mare back to Art Major, with the foal to be a sister or brother to Messini. “We’ve also got a colt from her by Courage Under Fire,” Caldow said. “He just turned two and looks quite good. “She’s got a Bettors Delight foal on her now and the plan is to take her back to Art Major.” PAUL COURTS

Harness racing trainer David Lewis says there may be no better punt in tonight’s Gold Coast Cup at Albion Park than Abettorpunt. Drawn barrier four in the Group Two, Abettorpunt is second-up from a spell, having scored at his return a fortnight ago. Following a seven-month break, the seven-year-old resumed at Ballarat in a star-studded Lightning Mile, blousing favourites Maximan and Keayang Cullen in a track record-equalling 1:53.1 over a mile. John Caldow retains the drive behind Abettorpunt after timing his run to perfection at Ballarat, but Lewis says he is expecting his stable star to be more forward in the run than his previous outing. “Four makes it interesting. It allows us to be around the front in the run,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t like going wide on the corners, so the good draw is really handy. “I think once he gets to the ‘death’ he won’t be wanting to hand up to anything. He’s pretty strong when he’s right and I reckon if he’s not 90 per cent, he’s pretty close to it. “We’ll have him close to 100 per cent for his ‘grand final’ next week.” Lewis’ “grand final” comment is in reference to the $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship, which doubles as the beginning of the Grand Circuit. As for the task at hand, Lewis described Abettorpunt as a “huge winning chance”. “Avonnova will probably lead and hopefully Luke (McCarthy, driver of For A Reason) will want to take a sit behind us,” Lewis declared. “He’s a great traveller and he travelled really well. I flew up with the horse this morning and he was straight into his tucker.” HRV Media

Victorian pacer Abettorpunt moved closer to a berth in the Shaky Isles’ premier harness racing event – New Zealand Cup – with his victory at Ballarat tonight. Thanks to his success in the Lightning Mile, Abettorpunt is bound to maintain his position among the top ranked candidates for the standing start feature. Before the win, the David Lewis-trained gelding was sitting 10th, with defending champion Terror To Love at the top of the table. It’s fair to say Abettorpunt is safe within the 15-horse field, which will contest the Grand Circuit gem on November 11. Along with a trip across the Tasman, Abettorpunt will also have enhanced his prospects of a Miracle Mile campaign. First-up from a seven-month break, the son of Bettors Delight covered the 1609-metre trip in a track record equalling 1:53.1. With John Caldow in the sulky, Abettorpunt scored by a metre-and-a-half from Maximan, with Keayang Cullen three-and-a-half metres away third. The seven-year-old’s time matched Smoken Up’s mark set in last year’s edition of the Group Three. Lewis stated a New Zealand trip will depend on Abettorpunt’s form during the next three weeks, while the Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle remains a priority. Abettorpunt is no stranger to top shelf glory at the world class venue, having captured the Group One Bohemian Crystal at his last outing before being sent for a spell. PAUL COURTS

Xanderxav overcame an early speed duel to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. The Linton Power trained trotter had the pole draw, which helped him hold out the early challenge from fellow mobile-start firebrand squaregaiter Mister Gunsen. With regular driver David Moran in the spider Xanderxav, who hails from Marungi, continued his recent strong form, the wily eight-year-old racing more like a spritely four-year-old. At the 500-metre mark it became clear Xanderxav comfortably had the measure of race favourite Zedalite, which was beginning to struggle in the breeze. El Paco reaced by pulling out of the one-one to stake its claim three-wide, while Stoned I Am snagged back to the markers near the rear of the field and saved enormous ground around the final turn. But old Xanderxav is tougher than a cheap steak and the son of glorious trotter Wagon Apollo added a Group 2 victory to his kitbag, scoring a 4.9-metre win over runner-up Stoned I Am (Simone Walker). Xanderxav’s mile rate for the 2240-metre trip was 1:59.4. The Group 2 Breeders Crown Pacers’ Graduate was taken out by Keayang Cullen for Terang trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee. The in-form free-for-all star is headed towards the Miracle Mile long-term and tonight he defeated Shane Tritton trained Suave Stuey Lombo by 2.1 metres, while the winner’s stablemate, Keayang Steamer, finished third for driver Glen Craven. Keayang Cullen zipped around the field early to find the lead and then kept on kicking for a good win in a rate of 1:56.0, with a last half-mile of 55.7secs. Earlier in the night Grant Dixon trained and driven Feel The Faith was too strong for Glenferrie Blade in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ consolation, while Boasson Hagen took out the American Ideal @ Woodlands two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown consolation for Tasmanian trainer Christian Salter and leading reinsman Gavin Lang. Boasson Hagen beat runner-up Pompidou by a head with Hez The One third for Heywood trainer Bec East. John Justice delivered a perfect front-running drive aboard Shakti Bromac to land the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pace over 2240 metres, too strong for runner-up Valley Of Diamonds, while Wounded ran third. Rockbank trainer Joe Vassallo enjoyed success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trot with four-year-old Village Jasper gelding Stunning Jasper scoring a half-head win over race favourite Jeter with Speedy Rambo third. Michael Stanley, who has Soho Tokyo in the two-year-old fillies’ Breeders Crown Final on Sunday, captured the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 September Pace over 2240 metres with four-year-old Presidential Ball gelding Hilltop Hustler, which powered home by five metres over runner-up The Good Times and third placegetter Turnpike Cruiser. Four-year-old D M Dilinger gelding Crazy Dave broke his metropolitan maiden status in the eighth race, the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m. The winner came from the Gary Bailey stable at Portarlington and was driven by Michael Bellman. Essbee Doubleyou ran second for Jodi Quinlan, while Tyler Bromac was third for Matthew Craven. Valley Ess Jay won the last race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting consolation. Trained and driven by trotting master Chris Lang, the Skyvalley gelding fought back doggedly after being headed by The Third Son late to win by 1.9 metres. The Third Son held on for second for John Caldow, while Glenferrie Belle was well beaten in third place. Racing returns to Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday for the 10-Group 1 Breeders Crown Finals Day, where a huge crowd is expected. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

The Horsham Harness Racing Club will stage their traditional 3YO features, the $9505 Alabar Horsham Guineas and $9505 Rosehill Princess of the Wimmera, on Wednesday August 27th. The contests have been part of the Club calendar since the early 1980’s, when the Horsham Ladies Committee sponsored the Horsham Oaks and Derby Trials, under the lights on the tight showgrounds circuit. Alabar Bloodstock has generously donated an inscribed rug and trophies for the winning owner, trainer and driver of the 2014 Guineas. They have also donated a free service to second season stallion, Smiling Shard (1:53.7 $1,089,831) or the proven entire, Elsu (1:53.6 $2,030,796). Rosehill Farm & Veterinary Services will provide an inscribed rug and trophies for the winning connections of the 2014 Princess of the Wimmera. In addition, they have donated a free service to the highly talented but injury dogged pacer, Maffisio. Some fine colts and geldings are listed as winners of the Alabar Horsham Guineas, including  Grand Circuit performer Robin Hood (2004) for trainer Clayton Tonkin, with Daryl Douglas aboard.  In 1991, Dark Paul went on to capture both the Victoria and NSW Derbies after his Horsham Guineas victory for trainer Trevor Martin and reinsman Ted Demmler. Albenz (1996), Wenbro (1998), Remember El (2010), Savesometimetodream (2011) and Magical Telf (2012) have also taken out the Horsham Classic. The Rosehill Princess of the Wimmera has been won by a number of smart fillies over the years, including the brilliant Sheza Mona (1997) for trainer Peter Manning and driver Kerryn Manning . Mother Courage took out the 1999 edition of the Princess during her 3YO season, on the way to success in the Victoria Oaks for the Bruce Morgan- John Caldow combination. Posh Jaccka (1998), Deanna Troy (2006), Very Chic (2008), and Our Surfer Girl (2010) also grace the honour board. The Horsham Club is greatly appreciative of the continued support  of Allan Galloway, John Coffey and all the crew at Alabar, along with Darren and Anne Jacobson from Rosehill, and are looking forward to two great contests on the 27th. Nominations for the Alabar Horsham Guineas and Rosehill Princess of the Wimmera, close with HRV at noon on Thursday August 21st. Further information can be obtained from Tony Logan on 0427 857411.

Mojo Major thrust himself into Breeders Crown betting calculations with a tough repechage win at the harness racing meeting at Geelong on Wednesday night. The Amanda Grieve trained two-year-old son of Art Major sat parked outside leader Avalon Castle before putting him away with a 28.6 third quarter, sprinting to the lead at the 300m and holding off a fierce late challenge from Andy Gath’s rising star, Burnaholeinmypocket. Mojo Major held on by a neck, Burnaholeinmypocket the other key runner to follow out of the race as he attacked the line impressively. The winner went 1:59.5 for the mile rate and came home with a last half of 57.5 seconds, his time the quickest of all the two-year-old repechages on the night. The favourite, Mach Doro, sensationally galloped out of contention at the start of the race. Highly rated New South Welsh colt Birdy Mach won repechage two by 3.7 metres over Stening in 2:00.8 for Luke McCarthy. Down the back the first time McCarthy launched his claim on the odds-on favourite, sending Birdy Mach ($1.60) around the field in a lightning move to grab the lead off early pacemaker Feeling Arty. Birdy Mach kicked away on the top turn as Iceobar gave chase for Chris Alford. In the home straight the sprint-lane run opened up for Feeling Arty and Stening, but the McCarthy son of Mach Three fought on for a comfortable win. Stening ran second for John Caldow and Feeling Arty was third, with Iceobar close-up fourth. Two top-notch New Zealanders took out the two-year-old fillies’ repechages, with Cyclone Kate getting the job done for Gareth Dixon and John Caldow in repechage one before Katy Perry roared to a 3.4m win in the second repechage for Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn. Cyclone Kate made her move down the back the final time after McCarthy and Smooth Showgirl had softened up the early leader Gotta Glow at the 1000m mark. Smooth Showgirl hit the lead as the field headed off the back straight but her lead was short-lived as Cyclone Kate descended and shot to the front around the home turn. At the finish Cyclone Kate had 6.9 metres to spare over the runner-up, fast-finishing Ameretto, who scorched home out wide, with Lettucesomewhere finishing third for Kerry Ann Turner. Smooth Showgirl held on well for fourth after sitting in the breeze. Tatlow Stakes winner Katy Perry took out the second of the fillies’ repechages, the daughter of Bettors Delight 3.4 metres too strong for Missed By Red for Amanda Turnbull, with Glamour Art third for Alison Chisholm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Of the three two-year-old fillies Breeders Crown heat wins at Ballarat on Saturday night, Niki No No’s was the most resounding. The Kari Males trained filly’s fifth win from seven starts assured her a spot in the Breeders Crown semi-finals at Ballarat next month – and the fact she shaved 1.5 seconds off Ballarat’s age record showed she’s the real deal. Niki No No’s winning mile rate of 1:57.5 was 3.5 seconds quicker than Big Lucy’s heat victory in Race 3 and 3.6 seconds slicker than Soho Tokyo’s in the last race. Greg Sugars took Niki No No ($1.90 race favourite) straight to the lead from gate two, while John Caldow sent the second-favourite, Smooth Showgirl, to the spot outside the leader. Niki No No kept her rivals chasing throughout the 2200m journey, punching out sectional times of 29.9, 29.9, 29.5 and 28.9 on her way to a 1.5m win over Missed By Red. The recent win of New Zealand pacer Katy Perry in the Tatlow Stakes didn’t bode well for the Australian brigade of two-year-old fillies, as the filly named after one of the world’s biggest pop stars is one of three very talented – and evenly matched – Kiwi horses heading Down Under in pursuit of the two-year-old girls’ Crown. The other two are Joanne’s A Delight and Supersonic Miss. But as one of Niki No No’s owners, Rob Auber, told me last week. “We know we’ve got a pretty serious racehorse ... we’re certainly not running scared”. And Saturday night’s win certainly cemented Auber’s view. “Nothing’s changed,” he said on Monday morning. “She broke the age track record by 1.5 seconds. We’re thrilled with how she’s going. “She’ll have a freshen-up now and then we’ll head to the semi-final.” By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Australian trotters are getting faster every year as a result of smarter breeding and modern training techniques. And the fact the Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Group 1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough field gets better every year is a direct correlation to Australia’s burgeoning passion for the squaregaiter. David Aiken-trained Eljaykay Phoenix is the favourite for Sunday’s $50,505 two-year-old Classic despite a second-row draw (gate 10) in the stand-start race. The standing start will be relatively new to most of the runners, who have been contesting mobile-start races of late as they look to etch their names among the country’s leading juvenile trotting ranks in races such as the Vicbred Super Series. Eljaykay Phoenix won the colts and geldings’ Super Series final with panache, comfortably accounting for runner-up Illawong Helios and third placegetter Black Valley – both of whom he meets again on Sunday. Eljaykay Phoenix has won five out of six starts but interestingly his only defeat has come at his only stand-start race. New Zealand’s champion two-year-old trotter My Arya has drawn gate one on Sunday, the Brent Lilley-trained, Mark Purdon-driven daughter of Angus Hall out to follow in the footsteps of previous Redwood filly winners Lady Thor (1987), Truscott Dawn (1995), Lacey Truscott (1997), Petite Morley (1998), Jauriol (2004), Elusive Charm (2009), Maidstone Miss (2011) and Daenarys Targaryen (2013). My Arya comfortably won her Australian debut race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park last weekend off a 10m handicap in a stand-start race. Early money has come for New South Wales raider Twice As Much, which is unbeaten in two runs to date at Menangle and will be driven by gun reinsman Luke McCarthy. Twice As Much opened $12 and had shortened into $8 as of Thursday with TAB fixed odds. Andy Gath has two runners entered in this year’s Redwood, impressive last-start Super Series fillies’ winner Endsino, which has drawn gate eight and will be driven by Kate Gath, and Naked Majesty, which will start from gate five for John Caldow. “It’s a bit of a tricky draw for Endsino and being a filly taking on the boys is always a bit hard,” Gath said of Endsino, whose mother Jauriol is a past Redwood champion. “These races can be about being in the right place at the right time. If you trot the best on the day you’re always a chance. “Naked Majesty bombed the start last time but she went really good after that. If she gets away good, there’s probably not much between my two.” Trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan will start Illawong Armstrong in the Classic, the impressive gelding finishing second to Eljaykay Phoenix in the Super Series Final. Illawong Armstrong has won four of six starts and Quinlan has a huge opinion of him, but his manners can be a worry. If he trots, he’s a huge chance. The Redwood Classic is Race 5 on Saturday’s Maryborough program and is scheduled to start at 2.06pm. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

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