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Two of harness racing’s most enduring participants combined to provide one of the biggest upsets on the country cups circuit in recent years when Kotare Roland scored a last stride win in last Sunday’s Jim Phillips Memorial Cobram Cup. Freelance reinsman Neil McCallum and Yarra Glen horseman Roly Wilson enjoyed a late Christmas present when Kotare Roland prevailed at the massive odds of $119. Kotare Roland settled five horses back along the pegs as favourite punters were put out of play early when the $2.60 favourite Hectorjayjay back pedalled as the tapes were released and was pulled up out of the race shortly after. McCallum eased away from the pegs into the running line in the back straight and Kotare Roland was able to latch on to the back of Barimah in the three-wide train around the home turn. Kotare Roland was the fresh horse on the scene in the home straight and produced the strongest finishing sprint to get up and score by a metre from Barimah with Smudge Bromac two metres away in third place. The win was Kotare Roland’s first in Wilson’s colours since being claimed for $35,000 in November last year. McCallum said his charge was travelling well approaching the home turn. “I hadn’t done a lot of work in the run and he was feeling good so I went up inside one to get the back of Barimah and then it was just a case of could I catch the leaders in the straight,” he said. “It was just a great result for a guy like Roly who has been around for a long time and been a great contributor to the sport through the Yarra Glen club.” McCallum said the seven-year- old gelding bu Julius Caesar had rarely run a bad race in recent months. “He got beaten a head in the Gunbower Cup and while he isn’t quite an A grader he has a nice furlong in him with the right run which he proved today,” he said. by John Dunne

Ryal Bush harness racing horseman Shane Walkinshaw would love to turn the page and put the last few months behind him but at the moment he is stuck in limbo as the wheels of justice turn incredibly slowly. Ever since he got a knock on the door from Barry Kitto, the racecourse inspector that the five year old Julius Caesar gelding he trains, Not Bad had returned a very large positive to Cobalt, Shane has been under the spotlight for being the first New Zealand harness racing trainer to be charged with the use of Cobalt. At first Shane thought it must be an error with the testing or the samples but it quickly became apparent to him that the results were correct and worse still they had come from Not Bad. Shane is known for not having a vet to his small team unless it is absolutely essential and for keeping impeccable records and when Barry Kitto inspected the stables he remarked to Shane that it was one of the most compliant stables they had ever inspected. Shane knew he hadn't done anything wrong so he set out to prove to the Racing Integrity Unit that he was innocent of any deliberate administration. It wasn't long before Shane came across the culprit for the massive cobalt highs that his horses were returning. The one additive that Shane regularly gave his horses who were in work was a blood sachet. " I had brought them off Farmlands for years but when I went in in September they were temporarily out of stock but suggested a blood booster they had there would do the same job." "It was the Equin Blood Booster made by McMillians and after talking to them at length, it seemed perfect for what I wanted." " The label said there was a small amount of Cobalt in the product but it was well within the 200 limit and there was no with holding time on its use according to the label." " To make matters worse Not Bad was one of those rare horses that had a high Cobalt reading even when he was out of work." " They tested him and his resting level was 85 which took the RIU back a bit." "I sent away two samples of the product away to be tested to different laboratories and the RIU sent one away to be tested." " One of my samples came back 355 times over the legal limit while the RIU sample was 190 times over the legal Cobalt limit." "Once I had those results, I thought the RIU in conjunction with Harness Racing New Zealand would publicise the fact that the blood booster was potentially a major problem as I was aware that there were other trainers who had brought the product but todate there has been a deathly silence," Shane said. As for any progress on his case, Shane has heard nothing from the RIU about a possible hearing date. " It is just dragging on and on and the longer it does that, the more damage it is doing to my reputation." " I want the facts out there so people can see that see that I didn't give Cobalt to my horses deliberately," Shane said. The delay seems hard to justify at this point with all parties agreed on the facts of the case. The case should be dealt with urgently and it is time for the RIU and the JCA to get on with it. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing driver Robbie Morris will drive Iam Mr Brightside at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the Kevin Newman Cup after the five-year-old gelding drew barrier one.  Morris also had the option to drive Lettucerockthem in the race as they are both trained by his partner Kerryann Turner. Morris decided to drive the son of Julius Caesar while leading freelance driver Josh Willick will be in the sulky behind Lettucerockthem. “Both horses are owned by the same people so that makes the decision a bit easier, Bill and John Green have been long term stable clients and it is good to have two nice horses for them at the same time,” Morris said. “Taking the drive on Iam Mr Brightside seems the right way to go, he is more forward than Lettucerockthem and is likely to land behind the leader while the other one is going to have to come from the tail of the field.” An early return to the sulky for Kerryann Turner after the birth of her son was not discussed. “It is up to Kerryann if and when she wants to make a return to driving in races but she has a lot on her plate at the moment so I don’t think she is in any rush. “We haven’t talked about her making a comeback, Archie isn’t even a month old and there are plenty of races every week that she can drive in once she wants to make a comeback.” Morris and Turner are considering a Victorian campaign for Iam Mr Brightside while Lettucerockthem will concentrate on upcoming features in New South Wales. “We are looking at the Victoria and Hunter Cups with Iam Mr Brightside if his forms warrants it, he has only had one trial from the stand and he began slowly but did everything right. “After that we would look to get him back to Sydney for the Miracle Mile qualifiers while Lettucerockthem will stay in Sydney and just target the qualifiers.” At Sunday’s Ready2Run Sale, Bill and John Green were looking to find their next Iam Mr Brightside and Morris is happy with the purchase they made. “The Greens bought lot three, he is an Art Major that trialled really well last Sunday but he is already in the paddock having a break. “He is super-gaited and paid up for the Breeders Challenge, Breeders Crown and Australian Pacing Gold so there are a few options if he measures up to what we think he can be. Greg Hayes

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 4, 2015 - They can't stop Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $11.80). They can't even hope to contain her. The leading lady continued her distaff derby dominance Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace for a fifth consecutive victory. Ordered outside her seven rivals, Sell a Bit N paid a :27.4, opening-quarter price to get the lead, looping Gallie Bythe Beach (Matt Kakaley). After a soft :57.1 intermission, "Gallie" moved from third, with Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) slightly gapping that one. Sell a Bit N maintained her advantage in and out of a 1:2.52 three-quarters, taking a length lead into the lane before winning by a length-and-a-half in 1:53.1. Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) chased the winner home from a loose picket, with Gallie Bythe Beach, Request for Parole (George Brennan) and Al Raza N rounding out the payees. Secret's Out N (Brian Sears) was a non-factor sixth as the slight 2-1 favorite. For fourth choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her 10th win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $158, with the triple returning $903. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 27, 2015 - Slight harness racing favorite Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $6.30) continued her distaff derby dominance Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace for a fourth consecutive victory. Ordered outside her seven rivals, Sell a Bit N paid a :27.4, opening-quarter price to get around Skippin' By (Brian Sears). That one wanted no part of an early seat behind Stormunn (Brent Holland). From there, no issues for the people's preference, as she completed her rounds (:57.1, 1:25.2, 1:53.2) for a comfy win. After a mild, first-up bid from Carolsideal (Dan Dube), Sell a Bit easily closed the sale. The final margin was a length-and-a-quarter over Request for Parole (George Brennan), with Skippin' By, Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) and Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) completing the cashers. For Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her ninth win in 20 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $26.80, with the triple returning $82 Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 20, 2015 - Sell a Bit N with harness racing driver Jordan Stratton   in the bike continued her roll Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The race took on a different dynamic after Krispy Apple came up ill. That left Sell a Bit N-now from post position No. 7-with an easier path to pursue. She worked around Request for Parole (George Brennan) then completed the course (:27.1, :56.3, 1:25, 1:53.1), disposing of a first-up Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) along the way. Sell a Bit N held sway Request for Parole by a three-quarters of a length, with slight 2-1 choice Al Raza N ( Eric Carlson) showing up late and losing the place photo. Narcian Jewel (Matt Kakaley) and UF Dragon's Queen (Mark MacDonald) rounded out the payees. For second choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her eighth win (third consecutive) in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $23.40, the triple returned $93 and the superfecta paid $644. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 13, 2015-Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $11.60) went the distance and repeated Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Rarin' to go from post position No. 7, Sell a Bit N worked around Medusa (George Brennan) and was then left without much in the way of adult supervision. So, she toyed with her rivals (:28, :57.1, 1:25.3, 1:53.2), easily whipping a second-over Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) by three-quarters of a length. Medusa, a first-up Dune in Red (Brian Sears) and Stormunn (Brent Holland) rounded out the payees. As for 3-2 favorite Krispy Apple (Matt Kakaley), she wound up seventh, done in by a non-leave from an eight-hole in a paceless race. Stratton won five of the evening’s dozen races.. For third choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her seventh win in 18 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $37.20, the triple returned $221.50 and the superfecta paid $2,270. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 6, 2015 - Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $12) dethroned odds-on harness racing favorite Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) in a two-speed number Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Put in play early from post position No. 5, Sell a Bit N made the first lead, taking over from pole-assigned rank outsider Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald). Then, it was Krispy Apple's turn, getting by Sell a Bit N before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. The 1-2 choice then rated a seemingly-sedate :56.4 intermission before Cinamony (George Brennan) moved first-up from seventh. That bid, as it was, stalled well before a 1:24.4 three-quarters, with Krispy Apple taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. No visible excuse for the lass, who couldn't match strides with a cone-dipping rival late. Sell a Bit N whipped Krispy Apple by half-length in 1:52.3, with Dune in Red, Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) and Skippin' By (Brian Sears) settling for the remainder. For second choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch Racing and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her sixth win in 17 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $30.20, the triple returned $304 and the superfecta paid $3,654. Frank Drucker

Regular harness racing driver Robbie Morris believes Iam Mr Brightside is a different horse this year in comparison to the horse that he was twelve months ago. The son of Julius Caesar resumed last weekend at Tabcorp Park Menangle and despite being run down in the shadows of the post, Morris is confident the four year old can return to the winners' list this weekend. "I would say he is 80 kilograms heavier than he was as a three year old, I said to his owners he finished last season as a boy and has come back a man," said Morris. "He has really filled out nicely, he is very strong in the shoulders now but his condition just gave out in the shadows of the post last week, he will have derived a lot from that run and I expect him to be a lot better this Saturday night." Iam Mr Brightside rated 1:51.2 when winning at Menangle in January this year and the plan is to have another run in Sydney after this weekend before heading to Queensland. "He has been bucking around his paddock so he is obviously feeling pretty good within himself, he will race this weekend and then I'd think Kerryann (Turner trainer) would want him to have one more run before he goes north to compete in the Four Year Old Championships. "It is not going to be easy, Bling It On is heading to Queensland too and he is a very good horse but it is going to give our stable a good gauge of how much our horse has improved." Morris is planning on making a hit and run mission to Brisbane on Friday night to drive three year old Aztec Bromac at Albion Park. "Doug Lee is looking after him in Brisbane for Kerryann, at this stage the plan is for me to go up on Friday night and be back in time to drive at Menangle the next day. "After Aztec Bromac's defeat at Redcliffe last week we've made a few changes because he raced erratically, the reports are that he worked well today (Wednesday) and I think he will be much better this time around." The Gold Coast and Queensland Derbies are the main aims for Aztec Bromac while in Brisbane. "I've spoken to the owners and we will look to drive him less aggressively this week, he is much better when he can be driven to have the last shot at his rivals." Greg Hayes

The drop back system could provide one of the keys to success in Boxing Day’s Westport Cup. And while horses who have had 100 plus starts don’t often win races out of turn ever-green pacer Sonnetson might be one to keep an eye on in the West Coast feature. Trained by Margo Nyhan and her partner Pete Davis the son of Julius Caesar isn’t just your turn up and win sort of horse but with his impeccable manners and a handy barrier draw he’s going to be right in the fight from the word go in the $18,000 event. A quick look back through the form line wouldn’t probably suggest a winning performance either, but Davis believed a fourth, two starts back, at Oamaru was a solid pointer towards this. “His run that day was very good,” Davis said. “And when you look at it the field he faced that day is not stronger than what he will line up against on the Coast. “So I would like to think he is going to give himself every chance to be right in the fight. “His work this week has been very good.’’ Sonnetson was sixth in the Westport Cup last year behind the Jimmy Curtin trained and driven Maximan. Sonnetson is one of two runners from Margo’s stable with former Southland pacer Rakabolt also lining up. Plagued with tendon injuries in his career the talented pacer has impressed Davis in workouts and trials and provided he remains 100 per cent in the next 48 hours he believes he too is a great chance. Davis will drive Rakabolt himself while Carl Markham takes the reins on Sonnetson. The pair are just two of a large team of horses that Nyhan and Davis will pack up and head over the Southern Alps with. They have a solid record over there with their horses and were in good form last year at the same meeting. All totalled they will take 12 horses over the hills and include in the fold are some strong winning chances. Sarah Palin will take on a trotting field on day one that includes two very promising horses from the Paul Nairn stable in Habibti Ivy and Le Reveur but her manners should see her right in the fight. The stable also have the representation of Little Bro in the race who will give a good sight fresh up. Other chances include Dag And Washington early on in the day while Lyin Eyes might be a smokey during the middle stages of the meeting. Courtesy of Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand

Charlie Attard, who has had many smart horses over the years, was successful with Major In Art / Golden Navajo colt Im The Boss in The Red Shed Pace for two-year-olds over 1609 metres at Cranbourne on Tuesday night. Driven by Greg Sugars, Im The Boss led throughout from gate four, scoring easily in advance of Major In Arms in a mile rate of 1:58.8. Gaita Pullicino landed the Ultra Signs Claiming Pace over 2080 metres with much-travelled seven-year-old Julius Caesar / Lavra Supreme gelding Caesar Supreme. Spearing straight to the front from gate six, Caesar Supreme ran his rivals ragged to register his 30th victory in 114 outings, defeating Cowboy Cadillac by 1.7 metres in a rate of 2:00.2. Old-timer Dartmoor (one/one – three wide last lap) finished a close-up third. Andrew Farrugia provided the upset of the night when lightly raced four-year-old Grinfromeartoear / My Minnis Folly gelding Sumo Grin ($36.10) greeted the judge in the Aldebaran Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2110 metres in a mile rate of 2:07. Driven by Zac Phillips, Sumo Grin starting from the pole stood flat-footed as the tapes released, settling three back in the moving line with Zoes Dream beginning brilliantly from 20 metres to lead. Sliding forward to be one/one in the last lap after Koko De Ville had eased away from the markers to face the open mid-race before galloping approaching the home turn, Sumo Grin raced to the front on the final bend and held a margin to the wire, winning by 7.5 metres over Ive No Boundaries and Framework Salute who were always handy on the pegs. Hopetoun Park duo Ross and Greg Sugars brought up victory number three with beautifully bred Bettors Delight / Misty Maiden gelding Mulgrave in the Cranbourne Trainers Bonanza 3YO Pace over 2080 metres. Sent forward at the start from gate four to lead, Greg Sugars allowed the well-supported Williamlee outside him to assume control, giving Mulgrave the run of the race. Using the sprint lane, Mulgrave was too slick at the finish for Fifty Shades (one/one – three wide home turn) and Williamlee, winning by 4.4 metres in a rate of 2:01.6. Melton trainer/driver Rod Petroff’s ultra-consistent mare McRita was a strong winner of the Dooza Sulky Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2080 metres in 2:00.6. A four-year-old daughter of McArdle and Jarita, who has now recorded six wins and 19 placings from 36 outings, McRita again showed her great gate speed to lead from barrier three and despite being pressured at various stages, dashed away on the home turn to score by 2.3 metres from Jeans Mattjesty. Daylesford husband and wife – Mick Barby & Anne-Maree Conroy – snared the ADE Turf Equipment Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2080 metres with ever-reliable six-year-old Blissful Hall / Go Bush gelding Sir Jaybe Hall, who chalked up his seventh victory in 38 outings. Given every opportunity one/one from gate four, Sir Jaybe Hall ran home nicely to gain the day by a head over Mister Clooney along the sprint lane after trailing the pacemaker Im Living The Dream which finished third. The mile rate 2:01.3. Jayne Davies kept the home flag flying when Mach Three / Atworthy Maid gelding Macworthy led throughout in the Condo’s Horse Transport Pace for C0 class over 2080 metres, defeating Wingofwaves and Miss Metro Glen in a rate of 2:02.9 with Chris Alford in the sulky. Veteran Whittlesea trainer Charlie Farrugia has enjoyed plenty of unheralded success over the years with a number of well-placed horses and he captured the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace for C1 class over 2080 metres with Courage Under Fire / Terrabeauty five-year-old gelding Terra Beau. Driven by nephew Darren Zahra, Terra Beau – first-up since January – led from the pole before surrendering to the sensationally backed Public Persuasion ($8 into about $3.50) racing for the bell. When Mor Laag moved to race in the open for the last lap after being mid-field and applied plenty of pressure to the leader, Terra Beau was able to ease off the marker pegs approaching the home turn and sprinted home stylishly on turning to score by 3.9 metres from a game Mor Laag and WillsSon (three back the markers) in a rate of 2:01.3. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria

One of the great difficulties that faces some harness racing sires as they go to stud is how they cope with expectations that have been raised for the sire by the performance and reputation of a sibling that is already established in the stallion ranks. Such are the hurdles that Julius Caesar has faced throughout his siring career. A smart performer at two in just four starts which included a great run for second in the $25,000 Sapling Stakes in 1:57.2, Julius Caesar's race career was curtailed at that point by injury. Due to the fact  that Julius Caesar is a full brother to the champion racehorse and sire Christian Cullen 1:54.1 ($1,249,150) meant that Julius Caesar was given a chance in the stallion barn when injury cut short his career. The issue for any young stallion in his initial years is not just the number of mares served but just as important is the quality of those mares he covers. Julius Caesar's connections decided to stand him at a low fee of $2,000 which surprised many people and discounts were available which meant although he got the numbers, the quality of the mares served was sadly lacking. While Julius Caesar left a lot of nice horses in New Zealand, he quickly made a reputation as a good solid middle of the road stallion but just a notch below the very best. Even though he left 120 winners in New Zealand, after six years at stud he was starting to struggle for mares and the decision was made to sell him to Australia. His appeal to Australian breeders was obvious as while his sons and daughters had done a good job in New Zealand, the numerous horses exported to Australia had done a great job of promoting their sire across the Tasman. Led by the Grand Circuit performer Gaius Caesar 1:51.6 ($477,751) who won the 2013 Group1  $200,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle, the stock of Julius Caesar have laid a platform for the sire to join the stallion ranks in Australia. Gaius Caesar was joined by horses of the class of Our Chain Of Command 1:55.4 ($259,019)  Emperor Montana 1:54.9 ($210,183)  Julias Song 1:52.4 ($192,859)  Caesar Supreme 1:54.3 ($157,401) and Toretto 1:55.4 ($153,390) to name just a few of his smart performers and you can see why Australian breeders embraced the son of In The Pocket when he arrived in Australia. As of today the stock of Julius Caesar have won $3,097,460 in Australia to date. Add in $2,154,418 from New Zealand and Julius Caesar is starting to establish himself as a really successful sire. Standing for $3000+Gst, Julius Caesar covered 126 mares in his first season in Australia which resulted in 83 foals which are racing as two year olds in the 2013/2014 season. As of today Julius Caesar has had 13 starters for five winners for stakes totaling $100,639 which is a good start to his siring career in Australia. The star performer is undoubtedly Mister Wickham 1:55.9 ($44,725) who looks a classic horse in the making in his short career to date. With breeders keeping the faith in him by sending 78 mares in year two and 92 in year three, Julius Caesar looks to have been given a great opportunity to establish himself in the highly competitive  Australian stallion market.  Gaius Caesar winning The Len Smith Mile Harnesslink media    

The six year old mare Maiden Rome has been a bit of a fixture around Canterbury harness racing racetracks over the last three and a half years. Raced and trained for most of her 63 start career by well known amateur driver Robert Earle apart from a brief spell with Roger Austin, the decision was made recently to transfer the six year old daughter of Julius Caesar to Greg and Nina Hope on the beach at Woodend. And it has just taken three starts for this under­rated mare to turn her form around and show her true worth for her new trainers. Driven by her regular pilot of late in Steven Golding, Maiden Rome was caught wide from the start from her barrier draw of eight. Although she had cover, Maiden Rome was never closer in than three wide for the entire journeyyet still found enough in reserve to storm home late and snatch victory right on the post. It was her fifth lifetime win and without doubt her best. She paced the 1950 meters in 2:25.4 a mile rate of 2:00.3 with closing sectionals of 60 and 30.1 which was good going in the artic like conditions. Maiden Rome really is a product of Robert Earle's involvement in harness racing with her dam Jazz Tempo a daughter of Shiney Key ,an Abercrombie stallion that Robert imported and stood at stud at Elrae Lodge. While she has never won them out of turn, the way Maiden Rome won this evening suggests that tonight's win from her new quarters might not be her last. Harnesslink Media

New Brighton harness racing owner Paul Thomas got the best birthday present that he could have wished for when his ‘pride and joy’ JC Skipper was victorious in a heat of the Young At Heart series at Addington on Friday. “It’s quite ironic really because the final for the series is set to be run on my mother’s birthday,” said an ecstatic Thomas, who turned 59 on Friday. Driven by Colin DeFilippi, JC Skipper worked around the field three wide down the back straight to find the parked position before racing clear on the home bend and narrowly fighting of a late challenge from the fast finishing Mighty Peruvian Franco Revel, who downed JC Skipper in the first heat of the Young At Heart series, finished a further 2 & ¾ lenghts away in third. The five-year-old black son of Julius Caesar paced the 1950 metre journey in a tidy 2:23.7 (1:58.5), with sectionals of 57.5 and 28.1. JC Skipper, who won four races for Templeton trainer Peter Robertson, was transferred to the barn of Peter and Leonne Jones after having a failed campaign in the North Island with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett. “He is a handy enough horse but he has been plagued by some bad luck and bad draws in his racing,” said Thomas. “He seems to suit the shorter races. There is no reason he won’t be competitive in the final,” he added. Thomas, who is a diesel mechanic by trade, is the son of the late Trevor Thomas, who trained numerous good horses in the 70s and 80s including top trotter Stormy Mourn and smart pacer Genesis. JC Skipper, who is also co-owned by his breeder Peter Higinbottom, is the first horse that Thomas has raced as an owner. Higinbottom has previously enjoyed good success with JC Skipper’s older half-brother George Skipper and also owns the smart type Cullect A Guinness, who  was victorious in his debut at Blenheim back in January. JC Skipper will compete in another heat of the Young At Heart Series on Fridau night before preparing for the $11,000 final. By Mitchell Robertson  

Parwan’s Jodi Quinlan took driving honours at Tabcorp Park Melton last night with a winning double. Sunset Invasion kicked off proceedings with victory in Race 1, the first heat of the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup, the long odds-on favourite scoring a comfortable win over Unico Pegasus and Stephen John in a mile rate of two minutes even. Two races later Quinlan produced a perfectly timed drive aboard Valley Of Diamonds to upset heavily backed favourite Garibaldi in the $10,000 Guaranteed First 4 Pools Pace over 2240m. The second heat of the Trotters Cup went to Brief Glance for Bacchus Marsh father-daughter team Alan and Amy Tubbs. The six-year-old gelding sat three-wide for the last lap, clocked a mile rate of 2:01.7 and came home in a last half-mile of 58.9secs, scoring a tough half-neck win over Mister Gunsen, with odds-on favourite Our Dreamlover third. Hamilton trainer David Lewis and reinsman Matthew Craven combined for victory in the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace over 1720m with Amajorjo, a talented five-year-old by Art major out of smart mare Jolaura, getting home by 7.9m over Magical Telf, with Discrimination a further 1.4m away in third. The winner’s mile rate was a slick 1:55.1, the last half covered in 55.9secs. Punters copped a blow when $33.20 shot Kotare Rowland saluted victorious in the Vermont Panels Enduro over 2760m for trainer Geoff Webster and driver Emmett Brosnan. Brosnan drove a patient race aboard the five-year-old son of Julius Caesar, coming from well back along the pegs to get up in the last hop over race favourite Five Star Anvil, while Our Blackbird ran a good race for third after getting checked early. Lite Jagermeister returned to her best form with victory in the Pace over 2240m, the Riddells Creek-trained chestnut mare from the Adam Kelly stable proving 3.2m too strong for long-shot Amazing Kano, who never shirked the issue in the home straight and was brave in defeat, wihle Essbee Doubleyou ran on well for third. The Renown Silverware Pace Final wrapped up the night with Ken Whelan’s five-year-old gelding Kisartis scoring his first win since last July with a half-head victory over Mary Mon. The even-money favourite Suerte finished third, with the winner’s mile rate 2:00.2.   FAST FACTS FROM LAST NIGHT'S MELTON MEETING * Quaddie paid $6991 on numbers 9-7-1-2 * Early quaddie paid $898.10 on numbers 6-9-6-9 * Fastest mile rate: Amajorjo 1:55.1 * Most wins by driver: Jodi Quinlan (2) By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

An extra 400 metres will not hamper classy two-year-old Persistent Threat in his bid to retain his unbeaten record when he contests the $50,000 Slater Gartrell Sports Midland Champagne Classic over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The West Australian-bred gelding, trained at Bunbury by John Graham, has won in effortless fashion over 1730m at Gloucester Park at his past two starts after winning easily over 1684m twice at Pinjarra and over 1609m at Bunbury at his only other starts. None of the ten runners in Friday night's classic has been tested over 2130m and Persistent Threat looks the youngster most capable of adjusting to the longer journey, simply because he has not been fully extended in any of his races and has gone to the line strongly in all his five wins. A favourable barrier at No. 2 on the front line will ensure that Persistent Threat will be at a short quote, instead of the gift price of 3/1 last Friday night when he overcame the disadvantage of starting from barrier seven (the outside of the front line) in the $100,000 Sales Classic. Tom Buchanan, who has handled the gelding in all of his five starts, restrained Persistent Threat back to last before he urged him forward, three wide, 1100m from home. Persistent Threat forged to the front at the bell and went on to win, unextended, from the early pacemaker Captain Oats. The field for the Champagne Classic is considerably stronger than the field which contested the Sales Classic and prominent owner Rob Watson will be represented by two talented Art Major youngsters, neither of whom has tasted defeat. Watson's runners are the WA-bred filly Soho New York (trained by Glenn Elliott) and the New Zealand-bred colt The Odd Lover (trained by Kim Prentice). Soho New York, who will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line, has been most impressive in winning at her four starts, all at odds-on. Fillies have been successful in two of the past eight Champagne Classics (Sheza Clout in 2006) and Arma Xpress (in 2012). The Odd Lover, who is unfavourably drawn at barrier six on the front line, made a superb debut when she began speedily from barrier five and raced in the breeze before scoring by more than three lengths over 1780m at Northam on Thursday of last week. Bickley trainer Peter Anderson and reinsman Morgan Woodley will go into the race full of hope after the consistent Julius Caesar gelding Nitro Lad drew the prized No. 1 barrier. They combined to win the Champagne Classic in 2008 with the brilliant but ill-fated James Matthew. Nitro Lad, a winner at Narrogin five starts ago, has finished second five times from seven career starts. He began from the outside of the back line and raced in sixth position on the pegs before finishing fast along the inside to be fourth behind Persistent Threat last Friday night. Northam trainer Jesse Moore, who has won the Champagne Classic with Nixon Adios (1975), Wirrpunda (2001) and All Four Firing (2002), will be represented by Jeremes Jet filly Tricky Styx, who has won easily at Bunbury and Pinjarra at two of her four starts. Her prospects deteriorated when she drew the outside of the front line. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri and Herne Hill horseman Sam Torre will be looking to win the Champagne Classic for the second time. Olivieri was successful with Talladega in 1999 and Torre drove Arch Rival to victory in 1985. Olivieri will be represented by the speedy Coeur de Whitby, who has won at Northam, Narrogin and Harvey at his past three outings. Coeur de Whitby will start from the No. 5 barrier on the front line with Chris Voak in the sulky. Torre's runner Thatelbe, a grey Jet Laag gelding, will start from the inside of the back line and will be driven by Chris Lewis. Thatelbe has won once (at Pinjarra) at his four starts. Lewis will be hoping that history will repeat itself. He drove Mister Jadore from the inside of the back line in last year's Champagne Classic and the gelding trailed the pacemaker Lukey before finishing powerfully to win easily from Hugh Victor. That gave Lewis his seventh win in the event --- after scoring with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrpunda (2001), All Four Firing (2002), Slick Operator (2003) and David Hercules (2009). WOODLEY TO DRIVE COPAGRIN Outstanding reinsman Morgan Woodley has been engaged to drive smart five-year-old Copagrin in the $21,000 Slater Gartrell Richard Henry Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. West Swan trainer and part-owner John Guagliardo opted for Woodley after the gelding's recent regular reinsman Callan Suvaljko was suspended for 16 days for causing interference in a race at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Woodley has not driven Copagrin in any of his 60 starts which have produced 15 wins, 13 placings and $134,077 in prizemoney. He will be the tenth driver to have handled the versatile pacer in a race. Copagrin, who will be attempting to complete a hat-trick of wins on Friday night, was driven by Suvaljko on a stay of proceedings at Bunbury last Saturday night when the gelding was most impressive in scoring an easy victory and setting a track record rate of 1.55.8 over 2100m. Copagrin started from barrier four on the back line and thundered home from seventh at the bell to beat Aristocratic Glow by two lengths. The final 1200m was covered in 1min. 26.2sec. This followed Copagrin's convincing all-the-way victory over Lord Lombo in a 2536m event at Gloucester Park nine nights earlier. Copagrin will start from barrier three in Friday night's 1730m event, with speedy pacers and noted frontrunners in Paramedic and Real Hammer drawn on his inside. Real Hammer is one of the fastest beginners in the State and Chris Voak is certain to attempt to burst past the polemarker Paramedic in the early stages and take up the running. This would leave Woodley with the option of rating Copagrin in the breeze or restraining the gelding to take a sit. Real Hammer has just joined the Ross Olivieri stable and he made his first appearance for the Oakford trainer in the race won by Copagrin in Bunbury last Saturday night. He started from barrier five and had many admirers. However, the tyre of his nearside sulky wheel deflated soon after the start and Chris Voak retired the gelding from the race. Famous Alchemist, a brilliant sprinter in the Serpentine stables of Gary Hall sen., looks one of Copagrin's main dangers, even from out wide at No. 6 on the front line. She worked hard in the breeze before winning the Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on Monday of last week, beating Maggies Mystery and rating 1.54.4 over the 1684m journey. The consistent Lord Lombo is nicely drawn on the inside of the back line which is made up of quality performers in Crombie, Pacific Warrior, Mysta Magical Mach and This Time Dylan. Crombie has not been successful for 26 months, but his past couple of efforts have been most encouraging --- a strong-finishing fourth behind Copagin at Gloucester Park and his fourth behind Might Be Luck in a 2500m stand at Harvey in which he started off the 40m mark and raced without cover for much of the way. Nine-year-old Mysta Magical Mach, an equine millionaire, will be reappearing after a ten-week absence, but he appears to be facing a stern task from the outside of the back line. LIBERTYBELLE MIDFREW IS A STAR BET Shannon Suvaljko described Libertybelle Midfrew's potential as "scary" after driving her to a runaway victory at Gloucester Park on Easter Thursday and declared that she was one of the best pacers he had driven in a career spanning more than a quarter of a century. He will again drive the New Zealand-bred filly for Hazelmere trainer Mike Reed in the Slater Gartrell Money Magnet WA Oaks prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night and from barrier three on the front line she should prove the star bet on the ten-event program. This will be Libertybelle Midfrew's final race before running in the $150,000 WA Oaks the following Friday night. She is unbeaten at her three starts in Western Australia after arriving from New Zealand earlier in the year. Her average winning margin is a fraction under four lengths. Suvaljko readily admits that he has not let Libertybelle Midfrew go at any of her three runs in Australia and he describes her as a strong, tough and all class. Adding quite some interest to Friday night's race will be the first appearance in WA of New Zealand-bred fillies Pal Amino and Dontdoubtme. Pal Amino, trained at Pinjarra by Kade Howson, will be having her first start since she chalked up her first victory at her fourth start --- over 1950m at Rangiora on February 27. She will start from barrier four on the front line. Dontdoubtme is a Washington VC filly trained by Shayne Cramp who has had seven starts in Victoria and South Australia for five wins, a fifth and a last-start third in the South Australian Oaks at Globe Derby Park on February 8 when she raced wide and then worked hard without cover. She will start from barrier four on the back line on Friday night. Smart fillies Maddy White (five wins from 23 starts) and Jungle Jewel (a winner at Gloucester Park and Kellerberrin at her past two outings) will start on the inside of Libertybelle Midfrew on Friday night and Aiden De Campo (Maddy White) and Colin Brown (Jungle Jewel) will be keen to set the pace. Maddy White is one of three fillies in the race who are prepared at Capel by Andrew De Campo, the others being Typhoon Tan (six wins from 21 starts) and Im Bella Jay (four wins from 16 starts). Reed has a good second-string runner in My Samantha Jane, who is nicely drawn on the inside of the back line. My Samantha Jane won for the third time from 14 starts when she gave a strong frontrunning performance to beat Im Bella Jay over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday night. Even though she is unfavourably drawn at barrier six on the front line, The Parade appears the toughest rival for Libertybelle Midfrew. After one placing from three starts as a two-year-old, The Parade has raced in wonderful style this season, with six wins, three seconds and a third from 12 starts. DAVIES AND LITTLE BOY BLUE SET TO SHINE Kiara Davies looks set to maintain her 100 per cent record behind speedy five-year-old Little Boy Blue by driving the New Zealand-bred gelding to victory in the 2130m Slater Gartrell Sports Thornlie Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She has driven the Bob Mellsop-trained Little Boy Blue twice for stylish victories in fast times and from barrier four this week she is likely to urge Little Boy Blue forward in the early stages in a bid to assume his favourite frontrunning role. Davies drove Little Boy Blue hard from barrier three to take up the running after 220m in a 2130m event three starts ago. He romped to a four-length victory at a 1.55.8 rate over 2130m. And then last Friday night Davies fired up Little Boy Blue from the No. 4 barrier to take the front after 220m before he sped over the final 800m in 56sec. to win by two and a half lengths at a 1.54 rate over 1730m. An interesting newcomer on Friday night is Napoleon Dynamite, who will start from barrier five on the front line in the 2130m Slater Gartrell Seel N Print Pace for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Voak. The eight-year-old Napoleon Dynamite will be making his Australian debut after having raced 90 times in New Zealand for ten wins and 24 placings. His last win was by a short half-head over Lord Diego at Alexandra Park in August 2011, rating 1.58.4 over 2200m. by Ken Casellas

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