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Will he blast or will he wait? Young harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken faces his biggest decision with star pacer Hectorjayjay ahead of Friday night’s $1.1 million TABTOUCH Inter Dominion Grand Final at Gloucester Park in Perth. The dynamic speedster has swept the series to date with three scintillating victories in his heats and as a result, he was a clear punters elect pre-barrier draw but things changed dramatically following Sunday’s barrier draw. Amid some minor confusion, Hectorjayjay was slammed gate 9 – the outside gate in the 2936 mobile start feature. Naturally, bookies reacted and quickly wound his price back out again while still a clear fancy. In recent times, favourites have a good record in the Inter Dominion Grand Final including last year’s winner Lennytheshark followed by the likes of Beautide (x 2), Im Themightyquinn, Blacks A Fake (x 3) and Elsu amongst others. The last pacer to sweep a series was the incomparable Im Themightyquinn back in 2012 and ironically, it was staged at Gloucester Park. So, can Hectorjayjay add his name to this great list? The David Aiken prepared gelding is blessed with brilliant gate speed which has been evident throughout the series to date, so the temptation is obvious. But his two most breathtaking performances since joining Team Aiken have been come from behind victories, the Len Smith Mile at Menangle in Sydney followed by the Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park in Brisbane. Many still sit in disbelief after he made high quality opposition eat his dust following the electrifying burst of acceleration he displayed on both occasions. It’s a massive decision for the 23-year-old and his army of loyal followers. While it remains unclear who is the top seed of the Aiken stable between Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark, the defending champion faces many other battles before Friday night’s final. Following his shock loss last week in the last round of qualifying heats, the glamour pacer pulled up noticeably sore and faces an around the clock battle to take his spot in the final. The most often asked question away from what tactics will be adopted for the favourite is whether Lennytheshark will be fit to take his spot? Lennytheshark has drawn gate 4. Leading Perth mentor Gary Hall has a double-edged sword with the richly talented pacers Run Oneover and Beaudiene Boaz representing the stable. Run Oneover has been hugely impressive winning two of his three heats while the multiple feature race winner Beaudiene Boaz has performed without much luck owing to awkward draws. On Friday night, Run Oneover will start from gate 2 for Clint Hall while Beaudiene Boaz will start from gate 10, the sole second-line runner for regular reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. Millionaire pacer Bling It On has flashed his skills during the series including an impressive display at Bunbury coming off the speed to win. Gun reinsman Luke McCarthy has options after the American Ideal entire landed the inside gate for the final. An added dimension to this year’s final is the New Zealand interest, classy pacers Smolda and Franco Nelson are set to chase the big prize following some tidy efforts during the qualifying stages. Smolda, prepared by champion horseman Mark Purdon, will start from gate 7 and looks suited over the staying distance and will relish the couple of extra days rest between starts. The Robert Dunn trained Franco Nelson went winless through the heats but has drawn nicely and will start from gate 6 in the final. Local pacers Our Jericho (gate 3), John Of Arc (gate 5) and Bettors Fire (gate 8) have all performed with great distinction throughout the series and will carry plenty of support in the final. Bettors Fire is considered as the fastest pacer off the gate in his home state and most expect him to make a play for the lead, the Kyle Harper prepared pacer scored an easy victory when leading throughout in the opening round of heats. The emergency runners are listed as The Bucket List and Our Jimmy Johnstone. All these questions will be answered on Friday night and another champion will be crowned. The Inter Dominion is the second leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit. 1 - Bling It On - by American Ideal 2 - Run Oneover NZ- by Changeover 3 - Our Jericho NZ - by Tomahawk 4 - Lennytheshark - by Four Starzzz Shark 5 - Joan Of Arc NZ - by Courage Under Fire 6 - Franco Nelson NZ - by Christian Cullen 7 - Smolda NZ - by Courage Under Fire 8 - Bettors Fire NZ - by Bettor's Delight 9 - Hectorjayjay - by Dream Away 10 - Beadiene Boaz NZ - by Badlands Hanover by Chris Barsby

Rising harness racing star Hectorjayjay possesses dazzling pace, but he is certainly not just a speed machine, according to his driver Josh Aiken. “Going up from the first two rounds of heats over 2130m and 2100m to 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night will not trouble him,” Aiken said. Hectorjayjay, the only unbeaten runner after the two nights of qualifying heats and a warm favourite for the $1.1 million final of the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship on Friday week, will start from barrier five in the Retravision interdominion qualifying heat No. 7 on Friday night and his clash with John of Arc promises to be a highlight of the ten-event program. “There’s no doubt that this horse can run a 26sec. flat quarter,” Aiken said. “He’s a pretty quick horse who ran his final quarter in 26.3sec. when he led and won the Swan Hill Cup over 2790m in October. “He has also run some crazy quarters from back in the field and I’m confident that he can sit off any speed and be quick enough to run past some nice horses.” Aiken said he was not concerned that Hectorjayjay (trained by his father David) would have to run in a heat over 2536m and the $1.1 million final on Friday week over 2936m. “We’ve given him two starts over longer trips (in the 2790m Swan Hill Cup and the 2650m Yarra Valley Cup) and he went really well,” Josh Aiken said. “He won very well at Swan Hill and then ran second to Restrepo at Yarra Valley when Restrepo was outstanding on the day. “I don’t think that the longer distances in his next two runs will worry him too much. He’s grown a bit of strength and has now got a bit more bottom. I’m really looking forward to his next two runs; he should be fitter after his two heat wins. I can’t wait. “Now, after his Bunbury win (when he led from barrier two and was not extended in winning from Our Jericho and Ultimate Art), it’s all about recovery and refreshing him. He’ll spend time at the beach and have a light jog the day before his race on Friday.” Favourite at 10/1 on in the fifth qualifying heat at Bunbury on Tuesday night, Hectorjayjay was not troubled to burst straight to the front from barrier two before an easy lead time of 35.4sec. and a slow opening 400m section of the final mile in 31.3sec. He strolled to victory after a slick final 800m in 53.7sec. and crossed the line more than two lengths ahead of Our Jericho, who had trailed him throughout. “It was pretty moderate early and then he copped a bit of pressure (from Ultimate Art) through the middle half and was still able to rattle off a 26.6sec. final quarter which was really pleasing,” Aiken said. “Ultimate Art is a really nice horse and is a big, good-looking horse who is actually quite intimidating. He’s got a lot of presence and so it was quite intimidating to have him up on the outside with two nice horses, Major Crocker and Bettors Fire, on his back. It was all so pleasing to go to the line on the bit and with his plugs in.” John of Arc, trained by Clive Dalton, is one of the big improvers in the series and he will have admirers from the prized No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s seventh heat. The lightly-raced injury-plagued seven-year-old produced a wonderful effort when second to the fast-finishing Bling It On in the sixth heat on Tuesday night. He raced three wide early and then in the breeze before surging past the pacemaker Ima Connoisseur and getting to the front 120m from the finish before he was swamped by Bling It On, who had enjoyed a perfect one-out, one-back trail for Luke McCarthy. This followed John of Arc’s excellent third behind Bettors Fire and Smolda in the second heat last Friday night when he sustained a spirited three-wide burst from sixth at the bell. Ken Casellas

Exciting pacer Hectorjayjay fared poorly by drawing out wide at barrier No. 8 in the third heat of the Choices Flooring Inter dominion championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but young harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken is likely to steal a march on his rivals by using the six-year-old’s dazzling gate speed and charging to an early lead. Trainer David Aiken, father of Josh, gave a strong clue to the possibility of the Dream Away gelding surging straight to the front when he said: “He can burn out pretty quickly when he wants to and he may be able to cross them.” Hectorjayjay is the form runner of the 30 pacers who will contest the heats of the championship, with his past 15 starts producing 11 wins, three seconds and a fifth placing. He was most impressive at his most recent outing when he was not extended in winning the Markovina Free-For-All at Bendigo last Friday week. He started out wide at barrier six and revealed sizzling pace to charge to the front after 50m. He was untroubled to win from Stunning Grin and Yankee Rockstar, reeling off the final quarters in 27.2sec. and 26.9sec. At his previous outing Hectorjayjay was the lone runner off the back line and he raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before running home determinedly, three wide, over the final 800m to finish second to the pacemaker Restrepo in the group 3 Yarra Valley Cup over 2650m. “He ran a sub-53sec. last half and his was a really good performance,” David Aiken said. “If he just gets one little easy section in front he can run a very fast time.” Restrepo, who charged straight to the front from barrier three in that event. A slow early pace and slow opening quarters of the final mile in 32.3sec. and 31.1sec. made life extremely difficult for Hectorjayjay. Restrepo (barrier four) ande can burn out pretty quickly if he wants to. He and Franco Nelson (five) are speedy beginners and there is a strong possibility that Gavin Lang (Restrepo) and Dexter Dunn (Franco Nelson) will fire their horses out of the gate. The John McCarthy-trained Bling It On is favourably drawn at barrier two and the six-year-old will have many admirers, particularly after Luke McCarthy produced a superb drive to bring Bling It On with a sparkling late burst of speed to beat Lennytheshark in the 1720m Smoken Up Sprint at Melton last Saturday week.    Freyberg, trained by Kevin Pizzuto, gave a solid performance when second to Smokey The Bandit over 2300m at Gloucester Park last Friday night. But this week he meets sterner opposition and must overcome a wide draw at No. 7. Simply Susational, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is capable of causing an upset. He is the sole backmarker and he could well be able to replicate his powerful finishing burst which gave him victory over Run Oneover and Waylade on November 4. Ken Casellas  

Hectorjayjay has struck first blow in the 2016-17 Trots Country Cups Championship with a barnstorming win in tonight’s harness racing 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Despite having to overcome gate seven in the $30,000 Group 3, the star six-year-old was sent out $1.40 favourite with punters and made light work of his barrier early when he thundered by Johnny Fox after about 125 metres. Once he grabbed the lead role Hectorjayjay was indomitable. For the remainder of the 2790-metre trip he and reinsman Josh Aiken would ensure things played out on their terms. And when Aiken loosened his grip a half-mile out, Hectorjayjay exploded for a 53.1secs final 800m (third and fourth quarters in 26.8 and 26.3secs). It's also worth noting at the finish Hector still had the plugs in. Guaranteed (Gavin Lang, breeze for the last 1700m and a $3.80 second-favourite), Smudge Bromac (Mark Pitt, one-one and $21.20) and Johnny Fox (Kerryn Manning, leader’s back and $15.20) were left in a race of their own when the winner whooshed off into the distance, Hectorjayjay finishing officially 24.4m clear of runner-up Guaranteed in a mile rate of 1:57.6, with Smudge Bromac third beaten 24.9m and Johnny Fox fourth and 27.6m from the winner. Meanwhile, at Menangle in New South Wales Hectorjayjay’s stablemate, Inter Dominion winning champion Lennytheshark returned to the track with victory in the Garrards Kevin Newman Free for All over a mile in a polished 1:49.9 for reinsman Chris Alford. Both the Aiken top-liners are bound for the almost $2million Inter Dominion series at Gloucester Park in November/December before chasing more feature riches in Victoria and New South Wales early next year. By winning tonight Hectorjayjay (Dream Away-Sheer Finesse) has speared to the early lead on the Trots Country Cups Championship ladder, with the table topper at the end of the 25 Victorian Country Cups to receive a $25,000 bonus. The Trots Country Cups Championship will roll into Maryborough next Sunday for the $30,000 Maryborough Gold Cup. RELATED: DOUBLE FOR MCDERMOTT STABLE AT SWAN HILL Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

“It’s like driving a Ferrari”. That’s how young gun harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken today summed up his first hit-out in the gig behind star pacer Hectorjayjay. Aiken, 23, drove the brilliant six-year-old at the Shepparton trials last Thursday, where he came in first ahead of Inter Dominion winning champion stablemate Lennytheshark in a rate of 1:55.7 (55-second last half). “I said straight afterwards I think I might have gone too slowly on him but he ran home in a 55secs last half and a 26.2 last quarter,” he said. “It was just unreal.” Today Aiken received the news he’d be piloting the David Aiken-trained 31-time winner in Saturday night’s Group 3 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Hectorjayjay’s regular reinsman, Gavin Lang, has committed to Emma Stewart-trained 2014 Swan Hill Cup winner Guaranteed, who is first-up since the 2015 A.G. Hunter Cup on Saturday. “I’m excited to have picked up this opportunity,” Aiken said. Swan Hill is the first of 25 Trots County Cups to be held across Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Swan Hill, Saturday 15 October 2016 Form guide for Swan Hill, Saturday 15 October 2016

Harness Racing Driver Josh Aiken is looking forward to driving Hectorjayjay in Saturday night’s Italian Cup (2240m) at Melton.   The five-year-old gelding is trained by Aiken’s father, David, but regular reinsman Gavin Lang won’t be in the sulky due to driving commitments at Menangle.    Hectorjayjay continues to grow from strength to strength and Aiken has enjoyed watching the gelding add strength to go along with his sheer point-to-point speed.   “It’s exciting to have a horse like him here; we always knew he was an extremely quick horse, everyone knew that, but watching him develop has also been a thrill,” Aiken told Harness Racing New Zealand.   “This week is another challenge because I’ve got great respect for the pole horse (Major Secret) but Hector showed in the 4YO and 5YO Championship that he can do some work as well.   “Whether he could race tough off a strong tempo and still sprint as quick I’m not sure but he’s certainly developed a lot not only with us but just from his years of racing before he came here.”   Bookmakers expect Hectorjayjay to account for his seven rivals in the Italian Cup. He has been installed at the short quote of $1.25 with the Emma Stewart-trained five-year-old entire Major Secret the only other runner in single figures at $4.20.   READ: Italian Cup preview   Hectorjayjay has won five of his past six starts with his only defeat coming when held up for a run in an M2-M4 contest. He followed that up by leading in 1:56.0 in the Bold David Free For All (2240m) and then sitting parked in 1:55.1 over course and distance in the Group 2 4YO & 5YO Championship.   Major Secret has won both starts since returning from injury and he will look to make the most of barrier one with Chris Alford picking up the drive. Lang normally drives the entire also and it could have given punters a lead had he been driving at the meeting.   Aiken returns to driving after serving suspension for inconveniencing Ideal Majority in the Young Pedro Free For All (1720m) at Melton on June 3 when driving Cold Major. With Aiken choosing Hectorjayjay, David Moran has picked up the drive on Cold Major who will follow out Major Secret in the event.   Reprinted with premission from  www.racingbase.com

Human nature dictates that potential is more attractive than achievement, promise more seductive than stability. That’s why when Hectorjayjay takes his place in Saturday night’s Italian Cup at Melton the average harness racing fan will be beside themselves with glee. A race made most famous as the arena for Popular Alm’s emotional comeback in 1984, this weekend the Italian Cup will be the next step in Hector’s star-making apprenticeship for team Aiken. Of course, it won’t be easy. Awaiting the dual Group 2 winner will be Super Series and NSW Derby winner, Major Secret, who himself is two runs into a brilliant comeback campaign. He also draws the pole to aid his chances. But most experts and almost all pacing enthusiasts are hoping and expecting that Hectorjayjay will prove too fast, too complete and too talented for his strong but less charismatic list of adversaries. “It’s exciting to have a horse like him here; we always knew he was an extremely quick horse, everyone knew that, but watching him develop has also been a thrill,” Josh Aiken said. “This week is another challenge because I’ve got great respect for the pole horse (Major Secret) but hector showed in the 4 and 5YO Championship that he can do some work as well. “Whether he could race tough off a strong tempo and still sprint as quick I’m not sure but he’s certainly developed a lot not only with us but just from his years of racing before he came here.” All things being equal, Victoria’s most exhilarating constant resident will progress from Saturday night’s $20K mini-feature to the Group 1 Len Smith Mile where he’ll be no doubt welcomed by superstar stablemate Lennytheshark. The lover of promise, the devotee of the untapped will be dreaming of that clash and secretly hoping that the younger tyro can test his Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup winning co-habitant. But if Josh and David Aiken are both on the pulse then there’s still a little water left to flow before that happens. “I’m with Dad I suppose,” Josh said. “I might think there’s little less between them than he does but Lenny had to run second in a Vic Cup and place in a Len Smith before he started winning those big races and Hector might have to as well. “The beauty about our situation is that they’re two very different horses. “Lenny is the king and he can do everything where Hector’s got that explosive speed when conditions suit. “That means you can drive Hector a little more conservatively at the top level and get him battle-hardened for that type of racing without conceding him a real winning chance. “Any race is winnable with a sprint like his.” Jason Bonnington

Reining Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark’s trainer David Aiken has confirmed this week he will defend his title when the Inter Dominion Carnival returns later this year. Having won the Victoria and Bendigo Cup’s since his emphatic Perth Inter dominion win, the Four Starzzz Shark entire is aimed at the Len Smith Mile (G1) at Menangle after competing in the Golden Mile (G3) one week earlier. His travel-buddy on the trip to Western Australia will be Hectorjayjay. With the Mildura Cup (G2) and the 4 & 5yo Championship (G2) in his trophy cabinet in his last 4 starts - the Dream Away gelding will contest the Sunshine Sprint (G2) and the Blacks A Fake (G2) in Queensland. Hectorjayjay “I knew he was good when he came to our stables, but I didn’t realise just how good” Trainer David Aiken said after his impressive Melton win on Saturday night. Aiken is hoping the trip to Queensland will give Hectorjayjay much needed travel experience before attempting one of Harness Racing’s tough tasks - the Inter Dominion. Scott Hamilton

Emerging Victorian star Hectorjayjay is Queensland-bound. Trainer David Aiken had planned a freshen-up, but Hectorjayjay’s breathtaking 4&5YO Championship win at Melton last Saturday night changed his mind.  “He forced our hand, he changed our minds. He went to another level the other night. We have to give him a chance against the big boys now,” Aiken said.  “He’s scary fast and the other night he showed a new side when he did so much work in a really fast last half and still won with the plugs in.  “I knew he was good when he came to our stable, but I didn’t realise just how good.”  Hectorjayjay has won four of five starts since a change of ownership saw him switch from Simone Walker’s stable to Aiken’s barn. “He’d be unbeaten for us with any luck. His only defeat came when he drew inside the back row and never saw daylight,” Aiken said.  “This is a seriously exciting horse and I’m setting for the Perth Inter Dominion along with Lennytheshark.  “This guy can go to Queensland for the Sunshine Sprint (July 9) and Blacks A Fake (July 16), while Lennytheshark can go to Sydney.”  Lennytheshark finished a pre-training stint on the water-walker and returned to Aiken’s satellite stable on-course at Menangle yesterday (Monday).  The reigning Inter Dominion champ will go first-up into the Group 3 Golden Mile at Menangle on June 11.  Then comes the $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at the same track on June 26.  “I can get him fit enough by working at Menangle and a trial before the Golden Mile and that run should top him off nicely for the Len Smith,” Aiken said.  “Then he’s out for another little break until the new season.  “He didn’t really need these races, but he puts on too much weight when he’s out spelling, so I didn’t want to leave him out too long.  “It’ll be great to have he and Hector to bring-up together towards Perth.” Adam Hamilton

According to HRNZ, New Zealanders are breeding better quality horses. While breeding numbers are slightly down, from around 2690 last year to 2520 this year, the breeding industry isn't in dire straits like many think. The slight decline can be attributed to a major shift from breeders to produce a higher quality product, with a significant commercial value.  With sire fees going up, many breeders are cutting back their broodmare numbers to focus on better bred mares, who have shown ability on the track. Leading sire Bettor's Delight served 289 mares this season, while Christian Cullen has dropped to just he 45 mares this season.  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ The Shane Tritton trained 2yo High Rolling will not make the Harness Jewels trip.  While stablemate Arms Of An Angel ,Kevin Pizzuto trained Heza Bromac and the Craig Demmler trained My Kiwi Mate are the only confirmed Australian invites to the Cambridge Harness Jewels. The focus has shifted to the trotting sections with HRNZ's Racing Manager Darrin Williams working on several runners and awaiting responses. The David Aiken trained 3yo trotter Princess Phoenix will not make the trip, although her stablemate Eljaykay Phoenix is still a chance of making the trip to complete against Monbet and Sunny Ruby in the 4yo Ruby.  Connections will sit down with the Aiken’s this afternoon to make a decision on their first jewels trip. Andrew Fitzgerald

Cold Major (7G Art Major/Van Gold) is headed west for the Perth Inter Dominion later this year after his Group 3 Casey Classic win on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. The 21-time winner (64: 21-7-7, $208,494) dashed along the sprint lane to upstage Geoff Webster’s fast-class stable stars Flaming Flutter (1.9m away second) and Franco Ledger (beaten 3.3m in third) over 1720m in a rate of 1:53.2. The time was Cold Major’s best in 10 goes at the trip. Trained by David Aiken at Avenel, Cold Major was steered by regular reinsman Josh Aiken and paid odds of $14.20, knocking those punters who stood out $1.10 shot Philadelphia Man (fifth) in the final leg of the quaddie. Philadelphia Man paced to the front early and reeled off opening splits of 28.3secs and 29.7secs after a 7.4secs lead time. Flaming Flutter (Greg Sugars) put the heat on Philadelphia Man from the chair down the back (28.1secs third quarter) and when Gavin Lang asked the favourite for his effort in the stretch he found little. Flaming Flutter stuck on valiantly for second with stablemate Franco Ledger (Anthony Butt) third after a one-one trip. Five Star Anvil (Chris Alford) got through for fourth ahead of the long odds-on favourite. A post-race veterinary examination revealed no abnormalities with Philadelphia Man, but stewards tweeted Saturday night they would follow up with the Emma Stewart stable during the week to see how the horse pulled up. >> Cold Major takes out the Group 3 Casey Classic at Melton Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The Aiken stable has produced another ultra-smart young trotter in Princess Phoenix. The long odds-on harness racing favourite defeated Social Fireball by 2.7 metres with almost 17 metres back to third placegetter The Cooler in tonight’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotting Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Driven by Josh Aiken for trainer father David, Princess Phoenix – by The Pres out of Dodo Rocket – won differently to how she did in the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic in May, driven tough tonight. “She’s probably more a sit-sprint filly, I asked her stay (tonight) and she’s done a really good job,” Josh Aiken said. “Being a final I wanted to take all the luck out of it I could.” Princess Phoenix ran to the lead at the 1500m, heading off early leader Jay Bee Flex. She covered her first half in 62.3secs before 61.2secs last half for a 2:03.5 mile rate, holding off Social Fireball (Gavin Lang) who chased hard down the side and in the home straight. The Cooler ran on well at just her second race start, finishing third for Nathan Jack. “She’s just been a nice filly from the first time we started her. She qualified very close to first race. We thought she was OK then she went to the races and did it,” David Aiken said. “We always liked it but in qualifying trials early she was just OK, then she went to the races and ran second, then won that final. She’s really come on. “She had a few little issues gate-wise. We put the half-hopples on her and ever since then she hasn’t looked back.” Aiken said Princess Phoenix would most likely bypass the Redwood Carnival and head to the Breeders Crown. “Her good manners and speed will keep her in good stead,” he said. Watch Princess Phoenix win her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final at Melton by Cody Winnell

The annual Central Victorian Young Harness Racing Drivers' Challenge will take place across five races next month from July 8-9. Horses will be randomly allocated to a driver from the following list of invitees - Josh Aiken, Aaron Bain (SA), Josh Duggan, Dylan Egerton-Green (WA), Dylan Ford (Tas), Haydon Gray, Jason Lee, Todd McCarthy (NSW), Zac Phillips and Amy Rees (Qld). The series kicks off with two races at Shepparton on July 8 and continues the following day with two races at Maryborough and one at Ballarat. Shepparton Harness Racing Club racing and operations manager Ian McDonald is looking forward to the series of races. "The quality of participants is the key. To have not only the five leading young drivers in Victoria but the five best from outside Victoria is fantastic," he said. "To have them all in the one forum is a real bonus." Horses which win races involved in the series will not incur a handicapping penalty. CODY WINNELL 

Rocknroll Magic overcame an outside back row draw to win the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for harness racing 2YO Fillies third heat on Friday night at Kilmore. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic drew away to win by 9.8 metres over Our Odette in the 2180-metre race, rating 2:01.5. Gavin Lang drove the winner, who is trained by Emma Stewart at Smythes Creek. Odds-on race favourite Dancingwithsierra finished last but was clearly not 100 per cent and was stood down pending an endoscopic report. Meanwhile, two heats of the three-year-old fillies Super Series were run on the night with David Aiken and son Josh Aiken combining with Glory Daze in the third heat, winning from the pole in 2:02.0, defeating Brighty Valentine by a half-head, and Belinda McCarthy-trained Smooth Showgirl taking out the fourth heat for reinsman Nathan Jack in a rate of 1:57.3, holding out Boadiceas Fury by a half-head. 2YO FILLIES 3rd HEAT Finishing order Video replay 3YO FILLIES 3rd HEAT Finishing order Video replay 3YO FILLIES 4th HEAT Finishing order Video replay Cody Winnell

Charlie Runkle and Princess Phoenix won last night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Finals at Tabcorp Park Melton for harness racing two-year-old trotters. Charlie Runkle (by Angus Hall out of Star Spangled Banner) took out the colts and geldings’ final for trainer Gary Quinlan and driver Chris Alford, while trainer David Aiken and reinsman son Josh combined with Princess Phoenix (by The Pres out of Dodo Rocket) to win the fillies’. From gate two Charlie Runkle showed gate speed from the 1720m start and easily found the pegs after polemarker Sundons Courage galloped away. Alford handed up to Aiken on Skyflyer and waited for his turn along the sprint lane, Charlie Runkle finishing fast for a 3.4-metre victory in a rate of 2:00.6. “(He) came out really well and got a bit keen being his first time under lights, but he was travelling well at the turn and once the sprint lane opened he got to it like an old pro,” Alford said. Race favourite Cruisin Around ran third after covering ground three wide with no cover. Princess Phoenix rated 2:03.7 for her win. At the 400m she was eased three-wide by Aiken but was still 15m off frontrunner Truscott Law, who had trotted opening quarters of 32.7, 31 and 30.3. Princess Phoenix sprinted sharply and went on to put her opposition away with apparent ease due to an impressive 400-metre burst. “She’s a fast filly. I said the other day she might be a pretty serious filly. And she’s confirmed that,” Josh Aiken said. Plenty of punters found both the Home Grown winners, each backed in late to $3.30. “I think the owners might have tipped a few into her on the way here,” Aiken quipped. Aiken explained Princess Phoenix had fired up during the warm-up but relaxed better when the mobile started to roll. “It’s very daunting for the babies to come here under the lights. She turned it on a bit during the preliminary but once they were scoring up she became a racehorse.” Truscott Law held down second while Maoris Got Muscle and reinsman Caleb Lewis finished third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The 2015 edition of the Australasian Young Drivers Championship was decided today at the Timaru Harness Racing Club's meeting at Phar Lap Raceway. Conducted over seven races at four different tracks over four days, the championship was keenly fought for by six young drivers from Australia and four from New Zealand. Robbie Close representing New Zealand's South Island went into the last two races today with a twelve point lead over his nearest rival Andre Poutama and Robbie quickly put the contest to bed when he won the first of today's two heats with a lovely drive on the trotter Saint Michel. Away well from barrier one to lead early, Saint Michel was taken on in the mid stages and ended up three back on the inner going past the 400 metres mark. Angling off the inner on the point of the turn, Robbie pulled Saint Michel out four wide as they turned for home and slowly reeled in the leader Clean Break with Trent Moffat in the bike while Price Of Fame and Josh Aiken flew late for third just in front of Peterhof and Jake Webster. With the 17 points for the win, Robbie had an unassailable lead of 27 points going into the last heat of the series later in the day. Mind you all the other drivers still had plenty to aim for and after a stirring race Coringa Delight and Tom Buchanan had a half head to spare from Secret Lotion and Dylan Ford with 6 1/2 lengths back to Indian Arrow and Josh Aiken and a further 1 1/2 lengths back to Betabcool and Michele Neilson with Robbie Close only picking up one point with a last placing. When all the points were tallied up the final result looked like this. 1st - Robbie Close (NZ)  -  77 2nd - Andre Poutama (NZ) -  52 3rd = Tom Buchanan (WA) -  51 3rd = Michele Neilson (NZ) -  51 5th - Dylan Ford (TAS) -  48 6th - Jake Webster (SA) -  44 7th = Trent Moffat (QLD -  39 7th = Josh Aiken (VIC) -  39 9th - Robbie Morris (NSW) -  27 10th - Ben Butcher (NZ) -  26 This season has been Robbie's best to date with 24 wins so far and 88 wins lifetime which is a great achievement with the limited opportunities for junior drivers overall in New Zealand compared to their Australian counterparts.  We here at Harnesslink would like to congratulate Robbie on winning the title and wish him all the best for the rest of the season. Harnesslink Media

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