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Star horseman John McCarthy is not getting ahead of himself. The former multiple Albion Park Premiership winner has recently returned to take part in the 2018 Racing Queensland Summer Carnival at Albion Park where he grabbed the spoils on the opening night when Rakarolla proved too classy in the Gr.3 $31,400 Be Good Johnny Sprint on December 1. It has been the one and only start McCarthy has given the giant gelding in Brisbane. Until now. McCarthy will head back to Albion Park this Saturday night searching for another feature race victory when Rakarolla takes his place in the Gr.2 $50,660 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup, the final feature of the carnival. The 2138m mobile start event features rising star Colt Thirty One, the reigning Queensland Horse of the Year and McCarthy believes he’s the real deal. The Grant Dixon prepared Mach Three four-year-old had his first taste of open company last week when he quickly dispatched a tidy field in the Christmas Cup in race record time when coming from near last. “He’s a very good horse; he was brilliant last week and despite a nasty draw this weekend, he’s the horse we all have to beat. I had a good look at him at the wash bay and he’s a good looking horse, he’s got class written all over him.” McCarthy said. Colt Thirty One has drawn the outside of the second-line (gate 13) while Rakarolla has drawn nicely in gate four which gives McCarthy several options. Rakarolla took inside runs to win the sprint feature two weeks ago but McCarthy is adamant his versatility will have him as a key rival. “Despite his age, he’s actually quite an immature type who’s still learning but he’s adaptable to different situations. I think he’ll be even better next year and could measure up for some better races. “The fact he raced week in and week out in lead-up to the Brisbane trip has worked to his advantage, he raced six weeks straight and was really fit for the Be Good Johnny. “He’s trained on well since that victory and should prove competitive again, I was happy to bypass last week and focus on this week’s event.” UBET has listed Colt Thirty One at $1.90 while Rakarolla is quoted at $6.50. Rakarolla is raced by his New Zealand based breeder, Brendan Fahy. The Queensland Cup is listed as race 8 and is scheduled to start at 9.37pm local time.   Chris Barsby

Albion Park Summer Carnival has attracted many talented types and they will be showcased in tomorrow night’s AQWA Constructions Christmas Cup and AQWA Constructions Forever Gold Mares Open. Continuing Christmas Cup night tradition, a visit from Santa has been arranged after race 3 at approx. 6.45pm. The carnival opening night was staged last Saturday where the John McCarthy trained Rakarolla NZ sailed to victory in the AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint. It was the second time McCarthy has prepared the winner of the feature race named in honour of his former champion, the previous was Washakie in 2011. Mr Kalypso and trainer/driver Kylie Rasmussen were successful in the AQWA Constructions 2018 APHRC Member’s Cup. This was the horse’s seventh consecutive victory. Punters will appreciate that wagering service provider UBET is offering a number of attractive exotic betting propositions for this Saturday night’s meeting, spearheaded by a $25,000 First 4 Jackpot Pool on race 1 scheduled for 5:42pm EST. Additionally, $3,000 jackpot Trifectas are listed on races 3, 4 and 5 as well as a $2,500 Quadrella jackpot is listed for races 2 to 5. For the most up to date form analysis and selections refer to Racing Queensland harness racing specialist Darren Clayton’s deliberations on the meeting: The opening event on the huge value packed 10 event card gets under way at 5:42pm EST. For further information contact the Club on 07 3262 2577 or Visit the Club website at   Albion Park Harness Racing

It was a fitting result with leading horseman John McCarthy returning in style. The former multiple Albion Park Metropolitan Trainers Premiership winner returned back to his old stomping ground and claimed the Gr.3 $30,660 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint last night (Saturday), the opening night of the Queensland summer carnival. McCarthy guided giant New Zealand gelding Rakarolla ($9) to victory in the 1660m feature after racing three back against the pegs before sprinting past the Ian Gurney duo of Mach Alert ($3.30) and Our Hi Jinx ($7.50) in a scorching time of 1:51.9. Sectionals of 27.3, 28.4, 28.3 and 27.9 seconds. The winning time is well outside of the track record of 1:50.4 set by champion pacer Im Themightyquinn back in 2014. It is the second time McCarthy has prepared the winner of the feature named in honour of his former champion after Washakie scored back in 2011. Now based at Cobbitty near Menangle, the highly decorated horseman prepares a team of around 20. “It’s great to win a race that’s named after my best ever pacer, I got a good run against the inside and that’s the best place to be when the running that sort of time. He finished off really well and we’ll start in the Christmas and Queensland Cups,” McCarthy said. “Earlier this week, I sat and thought about taking my horses to Newcastle and then thought I should drive a little further north and take in the Brisbane features. So I headed up with a small team and it’s been a good start.” He added. Rakarolla is raced by his New Zealand based breeder, Brendan Fahy. In the other feature, race favourite Mr Kalypso ($1.75) accounted for the Grant Dixon duo of Aqua Miss ($14) and Red Charmer ($7.50) in the AQWA Constructions APHRC Members Cup. The Kylie Rasmussen trained and driven pacer rated a strong 1:57.1 after racing without cover for the bulk of the 2138m event. Mr Kalypso remains unbeaten in seven Queensland starts. The Art Major – Kalypso five-year-old entire looks destined for bigger and better things in the future. Next week, the features include the $20,660 Christmas Cup and the $20,660 Forever Gold Mares Open Pace. RQ Media

Two down, two to go. That’s the situation unfolding for Chambers Flat harness racing horseman Ian Gurney following his triumph in the Gr.3 $30,540 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint at Albion Park last night (Saturday). The sprint feature, named in honour of the Queensland speed machine and dual Miracle Mile champion for trainer John McCarthy, was won by Our Hi Jinx ($6.50) who defeated Glenferrie Hood ($12.80) and Aztec Bromac ($10.20) in a time of 1:51.3 – the second fastest time ever recorded at the Breakfast Creek oval. Champion pacer Im Themightyquinn is the only horse to record a sub 1:51 mile at Albion Park, pacing 1:50.4 when successful in the 2014 Sunshine Sprint. Our Hi Jinx, again handled by teenage reinsman Leonard Cain, proved triumphant a week earlier when victorious in the $20,540 Lord Mayors Cup before backing up to claim the sprint feature. “He’s just in the zone right now; he’s happy and healthy and that shows with the way he is racing right now. It’s no shock to me because I know how good this horse is when he’s on song and I’m just thankful I’ve got him in a good state right now.” Gurney said. It’s the second time Our Hi Jinx has won the Be Good Johnny Sprint after scoring back in 2015, the vanquished that night included the likes of Mach Alert, Majestic Major, Bling It On, Forever Gold and Avonnova among others. The Christian Cullen gelding then went on to score in the Grand Circuit event, the Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship when handled by Greg Sugars. Since then, Gurney has battled to keep his star pacer in perfect shape but he’s currently winning the battle. “He’s always had speed, that real high speed and it was just a matter of getting him happy and healthy again. He’s been really good this campaign and there’s been genuine excuses when he hasn’t featured in the money. “He’s not the easiest horse to drive and that speaks volumes for the way Leonard has handled him, he’s patient with him and doesn’t panic. I think Leonard drives beyond his years; he doesn’t get flustered and works with the horse rather than fighting him. “Not many kids get the opportunity like Leonard has got in these types of races but he’s making hay while the sun shines and good on him. He’s driving with good composure and confidence right now.” As it stands, only the $20,540 AQWA Constructions Christmas Cup followed by the Gr.2 $60,540 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup remain for the Racing Queensland summer carnival. And Gurney is hoping to make a clean sweep of the open class features. Our Hi Jinx will back-up again this weekend and will be joined by stable star Avonnova who missed last week’s Be Good Johnny Sprint. “I will start both Jinxy and Nova this week and more than likely; both will be starting the following week too. “I didn’t intend on starting Nova in all of the races, it’s just too much to go week after week for four weeks straight. He’ll be ready for the Christmas Cup and then the Queensland Cup over the longer trips.” The Christmas Cup will be run over 2680m while the Queensland Cup will be staged at 2138m. Chris Barsby

Multiple Group-winning reinsman John McCarthy strengthened his feature race strike rate when landing a dream drive in an Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Final last Saturday night. McCarthy was handed the reins on the Craig Cross-trained Lucky Unlucky in the feature at Tabcorp Park Menangle as usual driver Luke McCarthy had commitments in Queensland. This drive gave McCarthy yet another Group win to his name as Lucky Unlucky took out the Group 2 two-year-old colts and geldings’ edition. McCarthy, who just earlier this season trained his 2000th winner, has now won more than 60 Group races as a driver. And a change of tactics to drive the gelding proved to be the winning move according to McCarthy. “He’s been, hence his name, a bit unlucky and been going back in the field and doesn’t seem to try so hard when he goes back,” McCarthy claimed. “I spoke to Craig and Luke before the race and they said see if you can go forward and try and find the front or sit outside the leader, he might try a lot harder for you and he certainly did.” Lucky Unlucky worked forward from gate six, led, and went on to record a personal best mile rate of 1:54.0. He was purchased at the Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale for $20,000 by owner Vicki Rasmussen and has won $47,829 in prizemoney after 11 starts, two wins and five placings. The son of Roll With Joe is out of the Artsplace mare Specialize, who is a daughter of the former Grand Circuit mare Sabilize.   Amanda Rando  

The multiple Group and Listed winning pacer, Cyclone Kate, has been retired. The rising 6-year-old Mach Three - Eyre To The Throne mare returns from Australia on Wednesday (July 12) in readiness for a broodmare career. She will be put to Art Major. Co-owner/breeder and former international cricketer Kyle Mills, who played 231 times for his country (19 tests, 170 one-dayers, and 42 T20s), believed he was “lucky” to have been associated with the ‘super mare’. “She has given us a great ride from when she first raced as an early 2-year-old (January 24, 2014) to her last win at Menangle last week,” Mills said. “We can't wait to see her foals on the ground,” he added. Former trainer and fellow co-owner/breeder, Gareth Dixon, said Cyclone Kate had her last race in in a $22,000 Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Menangle on July 1. The brown mare was trained in Australia by John McCarthy and his son Todd did the driving in her last race. "It's a great way for her to bow out. The owners wanted to retire her a winner and that's exactly what she did. She paced the mile in 1:53.1, but has recorded a 1:50.3 mile (Sibelia Stakes – February 2011)," Dixon said. Cyclone Kate won her swansong event by three metres and was the hot $1.50 favourite. Dixon co-owns and co-bred Cyclone Kate with Mills - his brother Heath, who is the New Zealand Cricket's Players rep, former All Black Ant Strachan (11 matches), and Mark Lyon. The quintet own her dam - Eyre To The Throne (Presidential Ball - Erin Brockovich), who won three of her five starts before being retired in 2009 – the same year she was served by Mach Three. Cyclone Kate (by Mach Three) is the second of six foals left by the mare. Her first foal, Cyclone Prince (by Mach Three) won four races and $131,057, including the 2013 Group One Cardigan Bay/Young Guns 2yo Final. Dixon said the Eyre To The Throne was this season served by Bettor's Delight. “She’s been very good to us. Not many horses have won 21 races and won and placed in many Group and Listed races. I’m looking forward to either training or selling her progeny,” said Dixon. Cyclone Kate raced 29 times in New Zealand for seven wins and 11 placings. She won $107,302 in stakes here and her best performance was runner-up to Democrat party in the 2014 Group Two Delightful Lady Classic. She was exported on December 1, 2015 and has raced 34 times for another 14 wins, and seven placings. Her career earnings have now peaked at A$341,723. Cyclone Kate’s best winning performances across the Tasman were in the: 2017 Group Two $52,000 Sibelia Stakes; the 2016 Group Three $32,000 Teeny teeny Stakes; the 2016 Group Three $32,000 Breeders Crown Graduate; 2016 Group Three $32,000 Adore Me Stakes; the 2016 Group Three Frith Stakes; the 2016 Group Two $50,000 Carnival Stakes; and the 2016 Listed $26,000 Golden Guitar Final. She also placed in numerous other Group and Listed events including the 2014 Group One $300,000 Breeders Crown 2yo Final at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. Duane Ranger

Talented harness racing youngster Lifeonthebeach is expected to bounce back to the winners’ circle after tomorrow’s Australian Pacing Gold heat (Tuesday) at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Successful upon debut at the same venue on March 21, Lifeonthebeach then finished second behind boom freshman Castalong Shadow a fortnight ago. This time around the John McCarthy-trained gelding has drawn to lead throughout from the pole, with the champion horseman confident victory is within reach. “He’s got the right barrier to come out on top,” McCarthy said. “He hasn’t been asked to come off the gate yet as he’s been driving quietly, but he does begin quickly. “From that draw we will be looking to go forward and lead, which will make him hard to run down.” Along with the son of Somebeachsomewhere, McCarthy has Golden Year in the second heat and Photozen in the third. “They will both need a bit of luck, especially Photozen against Mark Purdon’s horse, Sicario,” McCarthy. “Hopefully they can do well enough to get through to the next round.” APG Media

Miracle Mile winning harness racing horseman John McCarthy is closing in on training 2000 winners. The Cobbitty based trainer-driver reached 1998 training wins following Cyclone Kate's dominate victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. McCarthy has six horses engaged at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday) and believes if he does not crack the magical 2000 winners then, it will not be long until he reaches the special milestone. "It's a tough day at the races tomorrow," said McCarthy. "I have babies in the first three races and they are always tough races. "Our Mels Dream goes well and so does Lord Zin Zan but he is racing one of Mark Purdon's horses that goes well. "We might get a winner or two, we might not but hopefully within the week we should be able to get a couple of winners. "We'll just keep chipping away until we do . . . it's not a bad effort to notch up a couple of thousand winners in 20 years." McCarthy began training horses in 1985 but it wasn't until more than 10 years later that he began training horses as a profession. "I started training horses professionally when I was 37," said McCarthy. "I always had horses as a hobby but I was a butcher and I didn't have the time and it wasn't until I sold my butcher shop that I started training horses full-time." Based in Bathurst at the time, McCarthy saw a change in the meat industry which was the catalyst for him making the switch to harness racing as a career. "The last butcher shop I had I owned for seven years but I could see the supermarkets taking over," said McCarthy. "People weren't going to the small butcher anymore, they were going to the supermarket because it was convenient . . . we didn't even have an Eftpos machine and the supermarkets did. "I thought this was going to be the way of the future and decided to sell out." Shortly after this McCarthy packed up the truck with his wife Narelle and four children and headed north to Queensland. "When we were at Bathurst, during the winter we would always go to Queensland and campaign horses and we liked the warmer weather," said McCarthy. "When I started training horses professionally a friend of mine suggested that Queensland could be a good place to start as there was an opening up there without too many big trainers. "I thought we'd give it a go and we could always go back to Bathurst if it didn't work out. "At the time we really didn't know what to expect we just went along with it and the kids were all little; Todd was three at the time, Jodie and Andy were in primary school and Luke was just starting high school." Yet, although this later proved to be a winning move for the McCarthy family, it was not easy. "The first couple of years were tough and I bought cheap horses just to get us going," said McCarthy. "The first day we arrived in Queensland I was regretting the move . . . it was Christmas Eve and we had the truck loaded up with furniture and as it we were unloading it was that hot, I thought to myself what have I done! "But we got throughout it, we just kept chipping away and worked hard. "It wasn't until we had Trois Frere that things changed for us. "Trois Frere finished third in an Inter Dominion and we started getting more horses after that and things became easier. "We stayed in Queensland for about 17 years." During these years McCarthy has been associated with some top horses from Trois Frere, Cobbity Classic and Be Good Johnny to I Am Sam, Terrorway, Motu Crusader, Nickys Falcon, Washakie, Monifieth, Blazin N Cullen, Bling It On and Cyclone Kate to name a few. As of today, McCarthy has had 11,477 starters for 1998 wins and 3078 placings, with these results turning over $17,845,308.87 in prizemoney. He has trained winners in feature races such as the Miracle Mile, the A.G. Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup, WA Cup, Cranbourne Cup, the Queensland Pacing Championship, the Treuer Memorial, Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint and the Trans-Tasman. In the sulky McCarthy has had 4294 race drives, for 714 wins and 1067 placings. AMANDA RANDO

A great horse enjoyed his crowning moment when Bling It On mowed down the best in harness racing to claim a barnstorming Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Too often the bridesmaid on the open-age Grand Circuit, the John McCarthy-trained and Luke McCarthy-driven speedster was positioned perfectly, having allowed Lennytheshark and Smolda to trade haymakers and when his moment came he was in a class of his own. “It’s special,” Luke McCarthy said. “As a young person in harness racing you grow up watching all the great horses and the good drivers and you see Anthony Butt and Chris Alford and all of them guys who have had such good records in the race and you just aspire to win these sort of races. “We’ve been lucky enough to have some good horses and to win the Hunter Cup is a really special time.” It was a result well enjoyed, including by part-owner Sammy Kilgour, whose late mother, Kaye, played a lead role in the champ’s breeding. “It’s so great, mum was definitely looking down on us and she would be so proud,” Ms Kilgour said. From gate five, Bling It On gradually worked forward, with McCarthy three-wide for some time before taking the lead from Yayas Hot Spot, and then favourite Smolda made his move. “The draw was so important, we had the draw on Lenny and Smolda to be in front of them for once and put ourselves in a good spot,” McCarthy said. “I would have been happy to stay in front of them, (Bling It On’s) a really good leader, but when Mark (Purdon) come (with Smolda) he come pretty hard and I knew it was going to be pretty serious from then on, I didn’t really have a choice but to sit on him and it worked out really well.” While Bling It On sat parked, Lennytheshark joined Smolda at the head of the field at the bell, and they followed the 29.7 first quarter with a 29.3 second quarter. And then they stepped on the gas, pouring on a 27.5 third quarter in a last lap war. While others battled to stay in touch, Bling It On didn’t miss a step and when the sprint lane opened he had plenty left, blazing to a 6m win from Yayas Hot Spot with Lennytheshark finishing third, 11.4m back. “I was jogging,” McCarthy said. “He was just travelling so well. In the running he didn’t have to burn early, we knew he would come that last half. “Around the (last) corner he was just travelling so well and we got into the sprint lane and he went really well.” A 27.8 last quarter sealed the deal for the American Ideal six-year-old out of Aldatglitterzisgold. “He had his first start on the 30th of January at Bankstown and he won and I knew we had something special that day,” McCarthy said. “To be racing at this level now, he’s come right through as a two, three, four and five-year-old and now he’s won a Hunter Cup, (which) brings his earnings to well over one and a half million. “This is why we are in the industry, why we get out of bed and work the horses every day, it’s just because of horses like this.” Bling It On's record is now 74 starts 42 wins 10 seconds and 7 thirds for $1,573,331 in stakes.   Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Mach Doro has always displayed plenty of ability but the five-year-old harness racing gelding by the ill-fated Mach Three has taken that ability to a whole new level recently by winning four of his last five starts. At Tabcorp Park Menangle last Saturday night Mach Doro, with John McCarthy in the sulky, settled last early then moved up wide storming home to beat Yayas Hot Spot taking a lifetime mark of 1:51.3 in the process. His record now stands at 14 wins from 38 starts with $136,086 in his bank. And there is plenty of optimism in the camp right now to suggest that there are many more wins to look forward to. Mach Doro was trained by Geoff Webster until recently when he was transferred to the New South Wales stable of John McCarthy. MACH DORO - TABCORP PK MENANGLE - 21/01/2017 - Race 2 - JOHN CORDINA PACE Mach Doro has a pedigree full of great horses including his full brother Fly Like An Eagle who was the New Zealand two-year-old of the year, the winner of seven Group races, second in the New Zealand Cup and $756,178 in stakes, Changeover ($2,426,765) a New Zealand Cup winner, six-time Group 1 winner and now a successful sire, Chokin ($1,240,098) dual Auckland Cup & Miracle Mile winner and New Zealand Cup winner and then there is the four-year-old Pacing Mare of the Year Chaangerr. To have two New Zealand Cup winners (and Fly Like An Eagle ran a second in the NZ Cup) in a close up pedigree is as good as it gets. Mach Doro is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Three Eagles who in turn is out of the Smooth Fella mare Pretty Smooth. Pretty Smooth and Chaangerr are half-sisters. Chaangerr is a prolific producer that has left ten winners of 106 races and $2.99m to date as well as several unraced fillies that are proving to continue to be leaving promising progeny. One of thos daughters Changedown by Falcon Seelster has left the  good winning Group placed two-year-old Renske B. Another one of those daughters is the qualified Life Sign mare Jarntimarra. Her daughter by sensational broodmare sire Christian Cullen called Jacinta Jones has produced three foals to date and they are all by super sire Art Major. The first two foals she left are both sub two-minute winners and her third live foal is about to be sold at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale on the 20th of February in Auckland as Lot 4, a colt called Jack Jones. Lot 4 – Jack Jones (bay colt Art Major / Jacinta Jones) 2017 Jack Jones is a full-brother to two winners from just two foals from the dam, both Black Type performers and both 2YO winners. Harnesslink Media  

It's no surprise to see leading harness racing owners Emilio and Mary Rosati in the winners’ circle on Breeders Challenge Day at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And beautifully-bred mare Sapphire Stride added to the fanfare when she scored a surprise win in today’s Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Group One for four-year-old mares. What did surprise, however, was the price: Sapphire Stride was sent out at the amazing odds of $36.20 on the TAB before leading most of the way to defeat Hey Porsha and Dolly Braveheart, scoring by a head in a 1:52.7 mile rate. Disappointment of the race was the $1.30 favourite Ameretto (Ash Grives), who settled down near last and couldn’t make up the ground in the straight before finishing a close fourth. In a field of young drivers, John McCarthy could probably be classed as a veteran, even though he’s only mid 50s, but he took Emilio Rosati’s advice and showed the youngsters a thing or two. “I thought she’d be quick out and I might struggle to get to the lead (from gate five),” said a jubilant McCarthy after scoring on the Belinda McCarthy-trained mare. “But they just didn’t come at me in the straight. “I was getting a bit tired near the line  . . . but so were they and she just kept boxing on.” McCarthy [senior] described Sapphire Stride as a nice mare: “We had a good barrier today and it might have been different if we didn’t and this win has made it really good for her as a broodmare later on. “Emilio said you go show them – and today we did.” Michael Howard

Former Kiwi mare Cyclone Kate is poised for the biggest win of her career in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific (2760m) at Melton.  Trainer-driver John McCarthy insists the former Gareth Dixon-trained mare is primed and has a perfect draw in the pole.  “This is the biggest race she’s been in for me and I couldn’t be happier with her,” he said,  “She’s got so much gate speed and will lead. Unless something really wants to attack her, she’s going to be very hard to run down. “She likes to run along in front, so it will be a staying test.”  McCarthy is not worried about the long 2760m trip.  “She’s always been fast, but she’s strong now, too. She’s kept getting stronger,” he said.  “She runs the 2300m out realty strongly at Menangle so the trip doesn’t concern me.  “I love her. I think she’s a ripper mare. And I think she’ll be even better next season.”  Cyclone Kate is $3.50 equal favourite on the Aussie TAB with Nike Franco (gate four).  Then it’s out to $4.50 for champion mare Frith from the back row (gate 10).  Frith’s stablemate My Willow is also in the race from gate 12.  Luke McCarthy is expected to drive Frith ahead of My Willow.  John McCarthy also has Blazin N Cullen in the Golden Reign free-for-all.  “It’s a good race for him. He’s been running home well at Menangle without winning,” he said.  “The draw (inside back row, gate eight) makes it a bit tricky, but he is the class runner.”  On the same night, emerging star Hectorjayjay dominates betting for the Group 2 4&5YO Championship (2240m).  He’s won three of his four runs since joining David Aiken’s stable and being the lone back row runner suits his sit-sprint style of racing.  The main danger will be Bling It On (gate six), but co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy thinks he might be a run or two away from peak fitness. Adam Hamilton

Cobbity harness racing trainer John McCarthy made the Treuer Memorial his own with talented pacer Washakie when he won the event on five successive occasions.  History also shows McCarthy has a dominant record in Penrith’s flagship race, the Renshaw Cup.  The Miracle Mile winning trainer has won three of the past four Renshaw Cups and could add another to his collection this Thursday night. The McCarthy stable will be represented by giant-killer Blazin N Cullen in this week’s $50,000 Group Two event.  The gelding became the first pacer to defeat Beautide over 2300 metres at Menangle last Saturday night handing the dual Inter Dominion winner just his second loss in races further than a mile at the track. Blazin N Cullen won the 2014 Renshaw Cup for McCarthy and was a fast finishing third behind New Zealand star Smolda in last year’s event.  Washakie won the race in 2013 while Terrorway won it in 2012.  The son of Christian Cullen is well bred.  His mother Rye Hanover is a full sister to stallions Red River Hanover, Rustler Hanover and Righteous Hanover while her half brother was $3 million winner Rocknroll Hanover. Punters should not be concerned about the recent workload for Blazin N Cullen as it will be his third run in the space of twelve days.  He came through an arduous Inter Dominion campaign late last year and raced four times in the space of seventeen days.  The final run of his Inter Dominion campaign saw him finish fourth in the Inter Dominion Consolation. Yayas Hot Spot looks the hardest to beat for Blazin N Cullen after the five-year-old gelding drew the front row.  The son of Jeremes Jet has the speed to cross to the front should Lauren Panella choose to fire him out of the gate.  He led for most of last year’s Renshaw Cup before being collared in the shadows of the post by Smolda.  Spare Me Days will start from barrier one if the emergencies are withdrawn.  The Brad Hewitt trained four year old defeated Frith in the Young Cup two starts ago and looks to be another of the winning chances in Thursday’s event. TAB has Blazin N Cullen equal favourite for Thursday’s race with last year’s runner up Yayas Hot Spot at $3.50.  Spare Me Days is next in the market at $4.60 while My General Lee is priced at $5.00. Greg Hayes  

Irish pacer Meadowbranch DJ has no time for celebrating St Patrick's Day on Thursday with new trainer John McCarthy confirming the Inter Dominion competitor is ready to resume after two solid trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle. McCarthy has been pleased with both efforts and will now sit down and look for a suitable race. Meadowbranch DJ last raced on December 4 at Gloucester Park when he finished behind Devendra, however on resumption the son of Real Artist will be racing much weaker opposition. Although he has won 23 races in the United Kingdom, Meadowbranch DJ is assessed as a C1 pacer in Australia. "I think he is going to do a good job in Sydney, he is lowly assessed and I think he will be best suited to Menangle because he really likes racing over the mile," McCarthy said. "I've been really happy with his two trials, he just knocked up late in his first trial, the winner broke 1:53 and he wasn't too far away." "On Tuesday I told Todd (McCarthy) to go around 1:54 and let him run through the line which is exactly what happened." McCarthy keeps in contact with former trainer Willie Flanagan and confirmed he had received a text message prior to Meadowbranch DJ's trial on Tuesday. "I spent some time with the Irish boys in Western Australia and they're all good guys, Willie sent me a message asking what I expected from the trial on Tuesday and they're obviously keeping a close eye on what he is doing here in Sydney." "On the times he is running in the trials he is going to get through to metropolitan class, he can get a bit keen in his races but if I can keep a lid on him between runs I think he should do a really good job." Meanwhile stablemate Cyclone Kate is back in work and will be aimed towards the upcoming Carousel series. Cyclone Kate won the Group 2 Carnival Stakes on Miracle Mile afternoon and McCarthy admits he will be forced to keep her away from the races prior to a Carousel heat. "If she wins another race she won't be eligible to compete in the Carousel so I'll have to get her fit at the trials, she didn't have long off so she didn't lose too much condition." "It looks a pretty good series for her but I know Belinda and Luke are aiming Kept Under Wraps at the Carousel so like always there will be plenty of depth." Lord Zin Zan is still spelling after his encouraging campaign. The four-year-old pacer finished second behind Have Faith In Me in the Chariots Of Fire and MCCarthy has now set his sights on the Breeders Crown. "I never ask too much of my horses at four, all of the good horses I've had success with previously I've been patient with at four, I think if you give them an easy season and they have the ability, it helps them develop into a Grand Circuit performer." "I was mindful Lord Zin Zan had suffered from a leg injury and while everything was fine with him during this campaign, I thought if I gave him some time off now it would ensure that the leg doesn't become an issue later on." Greg Hayes

The darling of Tabcorp Park Menangle withstood the best mares in Australia to stamp herself as one of our greatest ever at Menangle today. Champion harness racing mare Frith show acceleration and courage to wallop a field of the best mares in Australasia as she scored a one and a half metre win over plucky Kiwi mare Our Willow with Victorian mare Nike Franco a flashing third. Victory in this $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile was perhaps the biggest victory in young reinsman Todd McCarthy’s short career as Frith rated 1:51.9 to surge past the $1m mark in earnings. Todd declared he had the best horse in the race as soon as the mobile let them go as Frith burned across the face of the field from gate 11 to clear them easily and hold a two-length lead by the time they passed the post the first time. McCarthy knew that after a 27.8s opening split that Frith would love a tiny breather and was able to back off the speed with a 30.1s second split before putting the foot down and letting his rivals do the chasing. Turning for home after a 27.6s third quarter, Frith showed her dazzling speed when she sizzled home in 26.4 seconds to hold off the fast-finish of My Willow, who had the drop on her all the way after holding the back of the leader from gate one. Despite the urgings of Mark Purdon, the tiny My Willow, tried her hardest to catch Frith before settling for second while Nike Franco held off the other quick-finisher Berisari to run third. McCarthy, the son of two-time Miracle Mile winner John McCarthy later commented: “She’s something else and will go down in history as a special mare. “I wasn’t too sure, it’s a big ask to cross all the good ones but she has that much speed and showed it today. “She felt strong in the straight. I knew there were a couple behind with plenty of speed. But we hit the line at top speed and did enough to hold them off. “She’s so tough and she never lays down. When you drive her you get a really special feel and I actually got goose bumps as we crossed the line.”  

The Miracle Mile holds a special place in the heart of John McCarthy. And it ranks above races like the Queensland Pacing Championship and the Treuer Memorial, harness racing events in which his family stable has dominated during the past decade. The McCarthy clan have won the QPC  eight of the past ten editions of the sunshine state feature, technically nine because they shared in the ownership of current winner Our Hi Jinx while grand campaigner Washakie won the Treuer Memorial five years running (2009/13). But it’s still the Miracle Mile that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s Australia’s signature speed test, born in 1967 at the famous Glebe half mile circuit of Harold Park before finding its current home at the expansive and spacious surrounds of Tabcorp Park Menangle, in Sydney’s south-west. Like many, McCarthy vividly remembers tuning into the coverage on the ABC when he was based at Bathurst and being left awestruck by the performances from the victors and the vanquished. McCarthy dared to dream about competing and winning a Miracle Mile and that became a reality in 2005 when his champion pacer Be Good Johnny saluted at Harold Park downing his quasi stablemate Slipnslide, prepared by his son Luke. It was sheer jubilation and utter exhilaration on that November night when surrounded by family and friends after claiming the main event with a one/two result. Twelve months later, McCarthy would strike again and win with Be Good Johnny. This Sunday afternoon, McCarthy heads to Menangle with two invited runners ready to compete in the nation’s best sprint race. Two New Zealand bred geldings, Monifieth and Blazin N Cullen, raced by Perth businessman and longtime stable client Kevin Jeavons, will represent his stable. And the first reserve for the $750,000 feature, Lord Zin Zan is also prepared by McCarthy and co-owned by Jeavons just for good measure. Monifieth booked his ticket to the big dance following his come from behind victory in the Gr.1 $200,000 Cordina Sprint while Blazin N Cullen finished strongly to grab second behind Beautide in the second qualifier, the Coca Cola Sprint two weeks ago. While both are considered longshots by bookies, McCarthy will share centre stage with two of his sons, eldest son Luke and his youngest Todd will be right alongside him. McCarthy will partner Monifieth with Todd booked to drive Blazin N Cullen while Luke will take the drive on Bling It On, prepared by his wife Belinda. And for Todd, this is his first ever drive in a Miracle Mile. “This is a dream come true, anybody who follows harness racing or the trots knows what the Miracle Mile is and I can’t wait to get out there, and to be with dad and Luke is something very special. I know dad even said if Zin Zan secures a start, he’ll fly Andy back from North America.” A beaming Todd McCarthy said. The rise of the youngest McCarthy has been nothing short of sensational since relocating back to Sydney after getting started in Brisbane. In fact, all three McCarthy boys kicked off their harness racing careers in Queensland, and their natural ability has stood out like a beacon. Both Luke and Andrew have consistently showcased their obvious talent both here and abroad with Andy still based in North America where he is an in-demand freelance reinsman on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania circuits. During their stint in Queensland, the McCarthy stable rose to stardom quickly and continued to produce top talent season after season. But while John, Luke and Andy worked hard at their craft, young Todd was more interested in everything but horses which included football, motorbikes and anything else with wheels. Given an ultimatum of school or working with the horses, Todd reluctantly chose the latter and landed his maiden success at the now defunct Parklands track on the Gold Coast on April 16, 2010 aboard Count The Cards. “I wasn’t big on school and the horses seemed like the better option at the time, looking back, I think it definitely worked out for the better. Once Luke had his own stable going and Andy moved to North America, I just seemed to relax and enjoy it a lot more. “Growing up in Brisbane was great fun and starting my career up there was the best thing for me because when we moved back to Sydney a few years back, I believe I had the right grounding to really kick-start my career. “The big track at Menangle is the best track in the country and I love competing there, I’ve worked hard to build my contacts with owners and trainers and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received. I’m really looking forward to Sunday.” After tying with Luke last season in the Sydney metropolitan driver’s premiership, Todd has a clear lead in the state driver’s premiership this season and is set to crack a century of wins any day now. He currently sits third in the national driver’s premiership with only Chris Alford and Shane Graham ahead of him. On Sunday, he has a book of seven drives on the nine race program including Yayas Hot Spot, Gina Grace (Oaks), Frith (Ladyship Mile), Code Black (Derby), Blazin N Cullen (Miracle Mile), Idle Bones (Trotters Cup) and Cyclone Kate. “It’s a great book and I’m really lucky to be given so many excellent opportunities, I think all of my drives have a chance with some more than others. “I’m tipping the celebrations will be big if I’m lucky enough to win one of the majors on the day, that will cap a great week for me and I’ve got mum and dad to thank for it.” Todd celebrates his 23rd birthday today (Wednesday). by Chris Barsby

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