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Perfect weather conditions complimented a good day of harness racing at Warragul on Monday. Seven events produced keen racing - importantly winners came from both the front and rear of the field across the day, defying the usual trend of on-pace runners being suited on the smaller Warragul circuit. Again, fast times were recorded during the day, highlighting the quality of Warragul's renovated circuit. One trainer particularly happy to win on Monday was Warragul boy Michael Hughes, who prepared Illawong Libby to win the Warragul Downtowner Pace. Hughes has only had the four-year-old mare in his Cranbourne stable for two starts. He explained after the race that he had set Illawong Libby for the Warragul event some four weeks ago. He felt Illawong Libby would be suited by the Warragul track, and that proved the case. She led from barrier one, holding off a late challenge by Readyforreign to score narrowly in a deceptive finish. The five owners of Illawong Libby were delighted with their victory, the mare's third from 24 starts. Former Gippsland trainer Graeme Lang also claimed a victory on Monday's card with Maybellina in the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap. Lisa Miles donned Lang's famous dark blue silks and drove a well judged race behind Maybellina, which grabbed Slancio close to home to win. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double on the day, courtesy of Lagoon Beach and Qtown Rip Roaring - both horses coming home strongly from off the pace in their victories. Leading combination of trainer Jayne Davies and driver Chris Alford have won more races than most at Warragul over the years, and claimed another victory on the day, this time with Baccarat in the Healers Shack Pace. Hoofnit provided the upset of the day in winning the Don Collins Pace - the longest priced winner of the afternoon at around 10/1. After three racedays in the last six weeks, Warragul now has a break before the traditional Traralgon Pacing Cup program on Monday, June 29.    

Andy Gath trained a treble and his wife Kate drove all of them at yesterdays harness racing meeting at Charlton on a big day for the Long Forest husband and wife team.   True Stride (a two-year-old son of Christian Cullen/Gina Falcon), Abetta Tiny Dancer (a three-year-old filly by Bettors Delight out of Laurel Franco) and Party Boy (a four-year-old gelding by Bettors Delight out of We Love To Party) all won for Team Gath.   Abetta Tiny Dancer was impressive on debut in the Cricket Club Hotel 3YO Pace over 2100 metres.   Starting from the second row, the filly was given plenty of time to balance up for Kate Gath, settling towards the rear of the main division – with Prince Of Zanzibar the trailer after making an early break. At the bell Abetta Tiny Dancer eased three-wide and commenced her run.   But it was only upon navigating the last bend that Abetta Tiny Dancer really stamped her authority, rounding up the leaders quickly and finishing well for a four-metre win over Give Me Fifty, who ran an improved race for Keith Cotchin and Amanda Turnbull into second, with Box Lu Cove third for Glenn Douglas.   The debutant winner rated 2:00.7.   Party Boy resumed in the Charlton & District Community Bank Pace and was sent out at unbackable odds of $1.10 from barrier four.   Last time in Party Boy looked a serious racehorse in the making with three straight triumphs before being sent for a spell after an out-of-character run at Cranbourne when something was obviously awry.   But the impressive son of Bettors Delight bounced straight back today, rating 2:00.5 (last half 58.1secs) to win by 2.4 metres over a bold Jay Dee Zed, who is nearing another win, with early speedster Splendid Choice poking through for a well-beaten third placing.   True Stride opened the program with a five-metre win in the Natasa Dean 2YO Pace over the mile, the winner posting a 1:59.2 mile rate in defeating Swift Fantasy and Dallas Nikolay.   Other winners on today’s card were Karkarook and Indiana Angel, who brought up a double for trainer John Hallam and reinsman Nathan Jack, Cudgee Boy for Wayne Maher and Neil McCallum, Super Lenny for Keith and Rodney Pratt and Pink Diamond Lombo for Max Jardine and Greg Sugars.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Saturday night’s Tattsbet South Australia Cup promises to set the scene for a great night of harness racing action. In what is always a popular night, another large crowd is expected to descend on Globe Derby Park to see some of Australasia’s best pacers compete in the Cup. The Cup field includes experienced and highly rated former New Zealaner, Franco Ledger, which recently joined the Geoff Webster stable, as well as the Emma Stuart-trained Guaranteed. Guaranteed has established himself as one of Australia’s most promising horses, having won the Chariots of Fire and the Kilmore Pacing Cup in 2014. Kate Gath is aiming for consecutive Cup victories, having captured last season’s edition with Caribbean Blaster. This time around Gath will partner last weekend’s Globe Derby winner, Maximan. The evening will also feature a Commemoration for the Centenary of ANZAC, with a mounted light horse procession presenting the Cup before the race to descendants of WW1 light horse veterans, and a bugler will play both the last post and the rouse. Other key activities for the night include: Four-time SA Cup winner Smoken Up will be making a guest appearance and lead out the Cup field; Free Kids rides; Live band Frenzy are ready to play the night away and the Atlantic Street Jazz Band will also welcome patrons; and Fashions on the Field. Sky Racing will also host a live trackside broadcast throughout the evening to be hosted by Gareth Hall. HRSA Media

Former handy pacer Renaissance Man has been sent to Western Australia for the beginning of the harness racing breeding season. A dual Group One winner, Renaissance Man had his career limited to just 48 starts for trainer Andy Gath due to injury. That didn’t stop the son of Art Major capturing the New South Wales Sires’ Stake Final and the South Australia Derby. Renaissance Man was also successful in the Group Two Globe Derby Birthday Cup. In total, the stallion won 18 races, with 12 placings and a bankroll of $297,904 also to his credit. On the breeding side, Renaissance Man’s father needs no introduction as the sire of progeny with earnings close to $100million throughout Australasia. Renaissance Man’s dam My Ami Lee boasts the perfect record of six winners from six starters, with three passing $100,000 in stakes, including Group One winners Louvre and Miss Hazel. Regular driver Kate Gath stated Renaissance Man is “the fastest horse I have ever driven, combining exhilarating speed with the temperament of an angel”. The eight-year-old will stand at Mike Hackett’s Global Breeding Farms in Mundijong at an introductory fee of $1500 or $1000 two mares or more. PAUL COURTS

It was a case of mixed emotions at Victorian harness racing’s biggest social event – TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day – at Bendigo yesterday. As a high, the Melton girls cleaned up in the Aldebaran Netball Cup, but on the downside, the Melton fellas were smashed on the Tabcorp footy field. Melton is yet to win from four starts…the only team still waiting to enjoy a taste glory! On the opposite end of the scale, the skill and agility of the netballers placed them in a class of their own as they rocketed to success. Multiple Group One winning reinswoman Kate Gath was the recipient of the Yirribee Stud Most Valuable Player Award. Gath’s football counterpart was Heath Barton, who enjoyed double success as a member of the triumphant Shepparton squad. After dispensing of Ballarat in the opener, Shepparton then accounted for defending champions, Bendigo, to hold the Tabcorp Premiership Cup aloft. Tobey Courts,11, earned an honourable mention after booting four goals, including three against Ballarat. Away from the fun and games, the event had a serious side – raising awareness and valuable funds for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. Thrilled with the wide spread involvement, organiser Robbie O’Connell declared both ‘goals’ were achieved by the 500-strong crowd. “The amount of publicity this day has generated has certainly helped raising the awareness of the cause,” O’Connell said. “Anyone in harness racing would have to have been living in a cave not to have known about the day and what it’s all about. “And I’m thrilled to say we eclipsed last year’s total and even bettered our target amount in money raised. After $14,000 last year we were hoping for $20,000 this time, but we’re sitting on $22,000 at the moment. “Everyone involved, be it sponsor, helper, player or spectator can hold their heads up high…well, except for the Melton footy team!” There were also plenty of fun activities for the kids throughout the afternoon, as they enjoyed the jumping castle, little athletics competition and the free Auckland Reactor soccer and footballs thanks to Alabar Bloodstock. Alexa Astin and Will Janky were big winners after scoring bikes thanks to Amart Sports Melton by guessing the amount of snakes in a jar. “I couldn’t believe Alexa guessed the exact amount,” O’Connell said. “I thought I was clever not making it an obvious amount like 125 or 120, so I left it at 123. “According to Alexa’s dad her guess was simple, she counted them one, two, three, so he wrote that down! “Overall if was a terrific day, everyone had fun and we achieved our goals thanks to the sponsors, the helpers and every person who came and participated in the spirit of it all.” PAUL COURTS

The first semi final for 2 year old colts/geldings at Ballarat for harness racings holy grail, the Breeders Crown was full of incident. Artistic Flite led out from barrier four only to gallop after 100 meters and drift back through the field. Burnaholeinmypocket grabbed an early lead from barrier five and then handed up to Show Me The Bling who went forward from barrier seven. While all this was going on Kept Under Wraps had been badly checked from one on the second line and settled well back  but once balanced again Mark Purdon sent him forward three wide and he found the death seat with a lap and a half to travel outside of Show Me The Bling. This trio stayed in that order for the next lap until nearing the home turn when Kate Gath on Burnaholeinmypocket pushed Kept Under Wraps out and sprinted away for an easy win. It was the Bettor's Delight geldings third win from just six starts and brought him right into contention for next weeks final. He paced the 2200 in 2:41.1, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28. Kept Under Wraps, after looking beaten on the corner rallied in the straight to claim second off Show Me The Bling with Artistic Flite getting home well for fourth. Kept Under Wraps lost no admirers with a gutsy run for second while both Show Me The Bling and Artistic Flight both did enough to suggest they could grab some of the money on finals day. Burnaholeinmypocket The second semi final for 2 year old colts/ geldings was a showcase for the talents of the brilliant Follow The Stars. Sent straight to the front from barrier three by Mark Purdon, Follow The Stars kept up a solid tempo in front and when Mark Purdon let him go at the top of the lane it was all over. He bolted away for an emphatic win by four and a quarter lengths with Stening who had trailed from the start from barrier one running second and Mojo Major who started from one second line battled on for third. Birdy Mach got well out of his ground and finished up sixth and made the final but will need a big turn around in a week to be a major player in the final. It was the eight win from nine starts for the son of Art Major and ensured he will start favourite in next weeks final. Follow The Stars paced the 2200 meters in 2:40, a mile rate of 1:57 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 27. Follow The Stars Harnesslink Media

He was named, by majority owner Rob Nalder, after one of the greatest cricketers of the twentieth century – the explosive West Indian batsmen Viv Richards. The Aussie Caribbean Blaster certainly didn’t let anyone down and especially not the great man Viv Richards. Two people who he did leave an indelible impression on are the husband and wife team Andy and Kate Gath. “He’s the most perfect horse I’ve ever trained” said Andy recently. “He’s everything you want in a horse – great gaited, a great constitution and amazing recovery rate after a tough run, perfect conformation and always gave 120% in all his races.” Sadly Caribbean Blaster suffered a suspensory injury in late July and he will now commence a new chapter in his best selling life story – a stud career at Yirribee Stud in Southern NSW, under the management of his part owner Alabar Bloodstock. The “Blaster” displayed the attributes of a top horse right from the start, albeit he raced rather greenly in his three starts as a two year old. As a three year old, there were signs that he could develop into a “Big Time” horse – second in the Group One South Australian Derby, a fast closing second to Sushi Sushi in the Breeders Crown Semi Final and then a close up fourth place finish from the 12 hole in the Breeders Crown Final – his own mile rate being 1:54.9 for the 2240 metres. Just five days later Caribbean Blaster won The Graduate, a 2240 metre standing start race, in a 1:57.5 mile rate – an Australasian record which remains to this day. “The turning point in Caribbean Blaster’s career came when he triumphed in the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle” said Andy Gath. That night he defeated Sushi Sushi, Excel Stride and the hotshot Kiwi Hands Christian in 1:52.6, last quarter in 26.6 seconds. The defining victory in his career was the 2012 Victoria Cup when he was handed the number 13 saddlecloth to start with. Aided by a brilliant Kate Gath steer, the Blaster defeated Australia’s best including Im Themightyquinn, Smoken Up, Mah Sish, Washakie and The Gold Ace to name a few. Caribbean Blaster raced on 79 occasions in a predominately four season career for 24 victories and prizemoney of $1,113,678 – he passed the million dollar mark when defeating the mighty warrior Smoken Up in the 2014 South Australian Cup. He was driven in every one of those starts by the effervescent Kate Gath. As impressive as Caribbean Blaster was on the racetrack, he has a pedigree that could be described as glittering as diamonds. His sire Bettor’s Delight as a champion stallion and has dominated the Leading Sires lists in the Southern Hemisphere for the past three years. Caribbean Blaster is from the Safely Kept mare Kalypso and was bred and sold at the 2009 APG sales for $70,000 by the Bathurst based Brooklyn Lodge. He is thus a half brother to four winners including Protikori ($212,109), placed in four Group One events, and the $125,000 winning Kalypson Kid 1:56.4. Caribbean Blaster will stand at Yirribee Pacing Stud for a debut Service Fee of $2,750 (incl GST). All booking enquiries can be directed to Alabar Bloodstock – (03) 5859 2201. Harnesslink Media        

Harnesslink has learned that the outstanding racehorse, Caribbean Blaster has suffered a career ending injury which has brought a premature end to his harness racing career. The super consistent and talented entire faced the starter on 79 occasions for 24 wins, 21 seconds and 14 thirds for $1,113,677 in stakes. Trained throughout his career by Andy Gath and driven in every start by his wife Kate, Caribbean Blaster finished in the first three in 59 of the 79 races he contested in Australia while he also contested two New Zealand Cups at Addington. He has a string of great performances to his name but two of the better ones would be his win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire in 1:52.6 over Excel Stride 1:50.3 ($769,464) and Sushi Sushi 1:54.1 ($1,103,327) and his win in the Victoria Cup in a 1:53.7mr (2240 meters) over Im Themightyquinn 1:50.4 ($4,567,456) and Mah Sish 1:55.4 ($800,911). Part owned by Alabar Bloodstock, the rising seven year old son of champion sire Bettors Delight has all the ingredients to make a successful sire now his racing career has ended. Not only does he have a great racetrack record, but Caribbean Blaster is by a great sire from a very strong maternal family. His dam is the Safely Kept mare in Kalypso 2:00.8 ($30,110) who apart from Caribbean Blaster has also produced such smart types as Protikora 1:59 ($212,109) and Kalypson Kid 1:56.4 ($125,351). Kalypso is a half sister to six winners including the classy Grand Stride 1:52.4 ($324,658) while his third dam has left nine winners including smart types such as Heezgotattitude 1:56.8 ($157,987) and Zaneden 1:56.6 ($123,500). With his sire Bettors Delight in such hot demand, it may well be an opportune time for one of his best performed sons to start his stud career. Harnesslink media

The form from last weekend's Tabcorp Park Melton Cup heats carried through to the series final last night. Maximan and Exciteusinthecity, both heat winners, finished one-two in the 2240-metre final last night with Kate Gath piloting Andy Gath trained Maximan to a 4.8-metre win in 1:56.8. Maximan led from gate three with Exciteusinthecity straight to the breeze for Tim McLean from four. From the back row Ginger Bliss carved through early to be one-one but then galloped and was retired from the race. The two pacemakers dictated terms before Maximan upped the ante down the back stretch and had Exciteusinthecity being driven along at the home bend. The chasing brigade of swoopers tried valiantly in the home straight but Maximan pulled out plenty, while Exciteusinthecity fended off the late challengers to finish second. Emma Stewart trained pair Metro Mike and The Good Times clocked in third and fourth. David Aiken's My High Expectations took the win in the Group 3 Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free for All over 2240m earlier in the night, the seven-year-old defeating Sunset Invasion by 2.4m in 1:59.1. The Aiken stable had a winning double on the night, with eight-year-old Falcon Seelster horse Smudge Bromac taking out the Homestead Stud Claiming Pace with Josh Aiken in the cart. Meanwhile, Terang star Keayang Cullen continued his winning form by capturing the Blacks A Fake Free for All over 1720m with Jason Lee aboard. The six-year-old son of Christian Cullen has now won five straight races and his winning mile rate of 1:53.8 is the quickest he’s gone since his Inter Dominion heat win at Melton in February. Cody Winnell      

A fluke is defined as “an unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck”. So one could mount an argument that to pinch a win over a highly rated opponent in horse racing is a fluke, but to do it twice in two starts? Not so much. Kept Under Wraps is no longer the hunter in his mini-rivalry against Birdy Mach – he has to be hunted by virtue of his two-from-two record against the highly rated New South Welsh colt. The colt by Bettors Delight in the care of Bolinda trainer Brent Lilley took out the 11th heat of the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for two-year-old colts and geldings at Shepparton last night with a blistering fourth quarter of 26.8 seconds. Birdy Mach ($1.50) and reinsman Luke McCarthy pinged off the arm to find the lead early from the 2190-metre start with Kept Under Wraps ($2.70) straight on to his back for in-form Greg Sugars. Kate Gath took the third favourite Burnaholeinmypocket ($13.60) to the breeze from gate seven, the trio jogtrotting through the middle stages of the race to make it near impossible for the backmarkers to make late ground. With a third quarter of 30.5 seconds after earlier splits of 31.4 and 32.1 it was always going to be hard to topple Birdy Mach in the straight, but once Kept Under Wraps gained  the sprint lane in the home stretch his withering burst of speed carried him over the line first. The final margin of a half-head was closer than when Kept Under Wraps defeated Birdy Mach in the Tatlow Stakes (1.1m) the start prior. Burnaholeinmypocket battled on gamely for third. Lilley admitted Birdy Mach might still be a little bit green and said that horse lacked nothing in the ability stakes before heaping praise on his fella. “Last night to come home with a really quick last quarter like that was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “He’s really come along nicely in the time I’ve had him down here.” Lilley said leading New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon was likely to take Kept Under Wraps and Messini, who Lilley has also enjoyed immense success with of late, back for the Breeders Crown semi-finals and finals next month. “I’ve definitely enjoyed having them here, that’s for sure,” Lilley said. Lilley used to work for Purdon in New Zealand before starting his own training operation at Kaiapoi, near Christchurch. “The relationship with Mark goes back a long way,” Lilley said. “I worked for him when he started out about 15 years ago, then I went out on my own and I’d work a fair few horses on the beach. “Mark would send some down to me that were suited to beach work and he actually sent me a really good horse in Cool Hand Luke (16 wins from 36 starts).” Lilley puts the polish on Messini tomorrow night at Bendigo in heat nine of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown three-year-old colts geldings series. Messini has won four races on the trot – including an 8.8m success in the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Final two starts back. Meanwhile, Scott Stewart trained-and-driven Its Just Kenny made it two wins from two starts with a 3.4m win in the 10th heat of the two-year-old males’ Breeders Crown series last night, the Kenneth J gelding going 1:59.8 to defeat Mojo Major by 3.4m. The other heat winner was Show Me The Bling, who defeated Mach Doro by 1.4m in a fast rate of 1:58.4 (last half 56.9). Show Me The Bling is trained by David Aiken and was steered by Nathan Jack. By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Chris Alford took a 10-win lead in the metropolitan drivers’ premiership – and won his 264th race for the Victorian season – last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Alford drove a winning double to take his state premiership buffer to a whopping 69 wins over second-placed Greg Sugars (195) with Gavin Lang in third on 179. Craig Demmler-trained Blitzthemcalder opened Alford’s account last night with victory in the first race on the card, the Aldebaran Park Trot. Alford steered the long odds-on favourite to the lead early from outside the front row, the four-year-old then running his rivals into the ground to score a 16m win. Alford doubled up in Race 8 with Tandias Bromac saluting by nearly three metres for trainer Amanda Grieve. Tandias Bromac clocked a winning mile rate of 1:55.5 over the 1720m sprint trip. The in-form father-son team of Ross and Greg Sugars collected the night’s black-type event, the Harness Breeders (Vic) Lightfoot Laurels, with four-year-old trotter Quite A Moment. Quite A Moment caught the spot behind the leader’s back early when Paris Pepperell ran to the lead before being pocketed three-markers when Vics Cheval took the lead at the bell. Sugars angled Quite A Moment into the sprint lane in the home straight before the mare sprinted sharply to overhaul Shes An Image, who came with a run out wide, and Vics Cheval, who battled on for third. Maximan (Andy and Kate Gath) and Exciteusinthecity (Darren Cole and Tim McLean) took out the two heats of the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup. Maximan clocked a winning mile rate of 1:57.2 in his short-half-head win over Beauty Secret, while Exciteusinthecity found the lead from gate two and ran 1:56.2 in winning, ripping down the back straight in 27.6 before recording a last half mile of 55.9 seconds. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Brilliant trotter Eljaykay Phoenix is this year’s Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic champion. The son of Sundon from the all-conquering David Aiken yard made it six wins from seven starts in the $50,505 Group 1 event on Sunday at Maryborough. Runner-up My Arya made a race of it though, the New Zealand two-year-old champ getting within a neck of Eljaykay Phoenix at the end of the 2190m journey. The pair finished 12.5m clear of third placegetter Endsino and will both be leading contenders come Breeders Crown finals time next month. Sunday’s victory was junior driver Josh Aiken’s second Group 1 triumph after he won on Eljaykay Phoenix in the Vicbred Super Series final recently for his first. Eljaykay Phoenix worked to the lead early in the Redwood before coming home in a last half-mile of 58.7secs. My Arya and Mark Purdon used the sprint lane to close on the winner late, while Endsino for Andy and Kate Gath worekd home strongly for third after travelling three back the markers. Fabrication finished fourth and Sheza Amason finished fifth. The well-backed Twice As Much had a day to forget, galloping twice in running to finish tailed off last. Eljaykay Phoenix By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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

Friday night was a red letter affair for the Aikens. David Aiken, head of the Avenel operation, trained two Group 1 winners on the opening night of the Vicbred Super Series finals carnival at Tabcorp Park, while his son, Josh, drove his first Group 1 winner aboard the stable’s rising star Eljaykay Phoenix. The 21-year-old looked totally undaunted against drivers several years his senior, taking Eljaykay Phoenix to the front early, and not panicking when headed by Jodi Quinlan aboard Illawong Armstrong with a lap to go in the two-year-old male trotters’ final. The pair stayed one-two for the remainder of the race, with Eljaykay Phoenix proving 5.4m too strong in a mile rate of 2:03.8. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn,” the young driver said after the race. “That’s just unreal. I can’t explain how good it feels.” David Aiken then made it two Group 1s for the night with four-year-old Spidergirl capping her domination of the futurity series after previously taking out the two- and three-year-old titles. Chris Alford took Spidergirl to the front early and was never headed, the long odds-on favourite beating second favourite Paris Pepperell by 7.3m, with the rest of the field more than 20m away. Meanwhile, favourite punters were on song for most of the night with seven of the 10 races going their way. Claudys Princess was one of those, the Mick Blackmore-trained three-year-old filly saluting by 2.2m over Illawong Helios in her Super Series final. The win was Claudys Princess’s ninth from 12 starts and Blackmore will now have to seriously consider taking her to the Derby on Redwood Day. “She’ll tell us,” he said when asked about what was next for the daughter of Bacardi Lindy. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang was thrilled with the success. “While there are a lot of people at the top of the tree who deserve the accolades they get, there are a lot of people down the other end who really make our industry what it is,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire.” New South Welsh visitor Vincennes wasn’t the favourite but was well-supported before taking out the four-year-old males’ trotters final. And with six races being beamed live into France for wagering and broadcast last night, there’s a fair chance the French punters took the omen and made him favourite. Trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick delivered a copybook drive aboard Vincennes to defeat punters’ fancy Blitzthemcalder by 2.5m. Blitzthemcalder sat in the breeze mid-race and took the lead on the home turn, but Vincennes had momentum up after securing an economical trip four-back in the running line. Vincennes’ winning mile rate was 2:00.0, coming home in a last half-mile of 58.2secs. Andy Gath’s young trotter Endsino, driven by Kate Gath, started a short-priced favourite and showed she has a bright future by winning the two-year-old fillies’ trotters’ final. Endsino was over 12m too strong for her nearest rival, Shesa Amason, who gave cheek from her pole draw. The other Group 1 victor for the night was long-shot Imamenace for hobby trainer Peter Cormican and reinsman Greg Sugars. Imamenace sat outside race leader Spidergrace before getting the better of the David Moran-trained horse after a stirring battle in the home straight. Despite reinswoman Laura Crossland throwing everything at Spidergrace, Imamenace proved the tougher horse on the night. Alford finished with driving honours on the night, the Spidergirl victory coming after the champion horseman won on Triumphant Monarch in the first race. Amy Tubbs trained-and-driven Brunelleschi won the inaugural Group 3 Noopy Kisok Trotters Free For All, while Sonofanearl won the Aldebaran Park Monte despite a 20m handicap for rider Riina Maattanen. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Owners Gennaro Sposato and Michael Taranto have secured Group 1 success at Tabcorp Park Melton with their emerging young trotter Endsino. The Andy Gath-trained filly by Angus Hall, named after the final letter of her owners’ surnames, took out tonight's Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old final for trotting fillies by 12.3m over Shesa Amazon, with Val Gardena third. “I’m really looking forward to the future with this filly,” said winning driver Kate Gath after the race. Gath heaped praise on the owners, who she had been very patient with Endsino. “They’ve been terrific. They’re so patient, which is a big help,” she said. “Obviously she’s well-bred but they still have to be able to run.” Endsino clocked a mile rate of 2:04.7. Endsino by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

An Australian trained horse is yet to win a Harness Jewels final and that won’t change on Saturday. Padrisimo, who was the only Australian to take up his invitation, was scratched from the 2YO Emerald this afternoon after he disappointed in his trial yesterday and appeared clearly off colour today. The result is a disappointing one for not only Andy and Kate Gath, but also Harness Racing New Zealand, who this year tried to ‘Internationalize’ the Harness Jewels for the first time. Andy Gath took to Twitter soon after he scratched his star Bettor’s Delight colt. “Very disappointed that I had to scratch Padrisimo from the jewels.  Clearly wasn't at his best yesterday at the trials & is off colour today. Padrisimo will now have an easy time before being set for the Australasian Breeders Crown. By Mitchell Robertson

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