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THEY don’t call him “Mini Quinny” without good reason.  The pint-sized Chicago Bull gets around Gloucester Park like no other horse since his former champion stablemate Im Themightyquinn and looks to be every bit as good at the stage of their careers.  Chicago Bull’s CV actually reads better at the same stage given he completed the big Fremantle/WA Pacing Cup double as four-year-old earlier this year.  And now he’s back racing – and winning – with the Perth Inter Dominion firmly in his sights.  It’s hard to know what was better, Chicago Bull’s performance or Gary Hall Jr’s drive for the first-up win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  It was the gelding’s first run since winning the WA Cup in January, but Hall Jr drove him like he was primed, launched him around the field from last-to-first in the middle stages, and won in breathtaking fashion.  Chicago Bull’s last three splits of a 1min53.2sec mile rate for 1730m were amazing … 27.5, 28.1 and 28.1sec. That’s 1min23.6sec for his last 1200m. Wow!  “The wide draw and short trip worried me, but Gaz (Hall Jr) made it look easy with a drive like that,” trainer Gary Hall Sr said. “I knew he’d have to go super to win and I was right. A 1min53.2sec mile rate first-up for so long is pretty amazing.  “It looks like he’s come back even better and that’s what we hoped. It’s great we’ve got the Inter Dominion in our own back yard again this year.”  Chicago Bull’s record is an impressive 31 starts for 19 wins, eight placings and almost $900,000 in earnings. This season he’s already earned $630,000.   The news wasn’t as good for Hall Sr in last Friday night’s free-for-all where he best he could manage was third with Run Oneover, while his other stable star Beaudiene Boaz finished eighth.  Classy mare Tricky Styx made the most of gate one to lead and driver Dylan Egerton-Green just cut her loose for a career-best all-the-way win in a sizzling 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2536m.  To give some perspective, Tricky Styx’s time was just 0.1sec outside Im Themightyquinn’s track record set on February 16, 2013.  SHOCK losses to the Allstars’ Sicario and Team Tritton’s buzz juvenile Divine State has thrown the NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO colts and geldings final into confusion.  Divine State, a record-breaking 1min51.6sec winner earlier this season, didn’t even qualify for the June 25 final when crossed at the start, badly stuck in traffic and sixth to $151 outsider Captain Cosmonaut in the second semi.  In continued a frustrating back half of the season given Divine State badly overraced and choked down late as a hot favourite in the Bathurst Gold final in March.  Sicario suffered just the second defeat in his six-start career when rundown late after leading and appearing to have his chance in the first semi by highly-rated Tassie juvenile Ignatius.  In Sicario’s defence, he drew wide, worked hard around the field to take the lead in quick splits and Ignatius had the cold sit on him and proved too strong late in a 27.3sec closing quarter of a very slick 1min52.6sec mile.  Sicario could still start favourite in the final with the right draw.  Ignatius, trained by Todd Rattray and driven by his brother Jim, won his first three starts for Todd in Tassie before leading and tiring late for third to Jilliby Lorenzo in his Breeders Challenge heat.  The son of Roll With Joe obviously improved a lot of that performance to upstage Sicario in the semi.  Victorian raiders won both semis of the 2YO fillies’ division of Breeders Challenge with Jilliby Galwaygirl and Molly Kelly leading throughout.  Molly Kelly will be favourite for the final, but Frith’s baby sister has been far from dominant in her heat and semi and is certainly no good thing.  Molly Kelly’s stablemate, Heavens Trend, has the Breeders Challenge 4YO Mares’ final at her mercy after the most dominant of semi wins. She sat parked and zoomed away to win by 15.7m in a 1min52.6sec mile.  FORMER top Allstars barn youngster Kept Under Wraps is enjoying a Queensland renaissance for new trainer Vicki Rasmussen.  The Bettors Delight five-year-old narrowly but impressively won the Group 3 Redcliffe Gold Cup (2613m) last Friday night.  The big story of the Cup was the inglorious flop of former star Kiwi pacer Hughie Green, who started his Queensland career in great style, but obviously has some issues.  He didn’t pace well when fourth at Albion Park two starts back, then looked a mess and galloped twice in the run when tailed-off in the Cup.  Stewards’ stood down him down pending a trial, which is not ideal with Queensland’s winter riches just around the corner.  FORMER Kiwi youngster Jack Mac has been a revelation since going to Western Australia.  The son of Mach Three was an early goer in NZ’s North Island, but the best he could manage was a fourth from five starts between December 16, last year and March 23. It’s a complete contrast in WA where he’s unbeaten in four starts for trainer Barry Howlett, including a dominant display in last Friday night’s $100,000 Pearl final (2130m) at Gloucester Park.  Chris Lewis drove as though he was on the best horse, forced the issue from the breeze and powered clear to win by 10.3m in a sharp 1min55.9sec mile rate.  Sure there’s a query over the calibre of opposition Jack Mac beat, but to sit parked and blow them away in that sort of time says he’s a bit special.  IT was great to see last season’s Breeders Crown 3YO Fillies’ champ Rocknroll Magic return to winning form at Melton last Friday night.  In a small, but quality field, Rocknroll Magic showed the benefit of fitness at her sixth start back from a long spell when outstayed her rivals in a 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2240m.  Much interest focused on Kerryn Manning’s comeback mare Supersonic Miss, who had won nine on end, but not raced for well over a year because of injury.  Knowing she was short on race fitness, Manning worked to the front then took a sit on Rocknroll Magic and was thrilled with Supersonic Miss’s solid second.  Rocknroll Magic was one of four wins on a dominant night for trainer Emma Stewart, who also scored with juveniles Nostra Villa and Poster Boy as well as Solarsonic in the last race.  MATTY Craven is a seriously emerging training force.  Craven’s had plenty of success in a string of recent Menangle raids, but it was back home in Victoria where he snared the Group 2 Holmfield with promising three-year-old trotting filly Four Walls at Melton last Friday night.  Remarkably that was the filly’s first win and came after finishing second in the NSW Trotters’ Derby and Victoria Trotters’ Oaks as well as fourth in the NSW Oaks.   HOPEFULLY you keep hearing and reading a lot more about San Carlo.    Last week in this I column I wrote how much I hoped the injury-plagued six-year-old stayed sound and again he reminded everyone why with what is best described as an arrogant win at Bendigo last Saturday night.    It was his 15th win from 17 starts and by far his best when you consider he sat parked and toyed with a field containing classy mare Bettor Downunder, former top three-year-old Menin Gate and the promising Brallos Pass.  San Carlo is so talented there is even talk about whisking him up to Queensland for the Winter Carnival.  The other star act at Bendigo was Victoria Derby winner Our Little General’s 12.1m win in the Bendigo Guineas in a 1min56.1sec mile rate for 2150m. It was his 11th win from 20 starts.    Adam Hamilton

It won’t be long before Mr Mojito is back in New Zealand.  That could be as soon as the Kaikoura and/or New Zealand Cups later this year.  Mr Mojito’s terrific second to the freakish Heaven Rocks at Ashburton last Saturday has simply fuelled the desire of connections to return and try to go one better.  “He ran a great race. Second just means we’ll have to come back and give it another shot,” co-trainer Grant Campbell said.  Owner Merv Butterworth more exact: “I’d like think he’ll be back in a few months time for the Kaikoura Cup. I’d love to try and do an Arden Rooney with him.”   Butterworth’s reference is to the fact Arden Rooney snared the Kaikoura/NZ Cup double in 2015. In doing so, trainer-driver Kerryn Manning became the first female to drive an NZ Cup winner.    Mr Mojito did he and connections proud when a slightly luckless, but well beaten second to the still largely untapped Heaven Rocks.  A reflective Manning pondered what might have been had she held the lead instead of handing over to former juvenile superstar Waikiki Beach in the middle stages.    “Maybe I should have kept him out and gone for the all-the-way win, but I thought he was the seasoned horse in the race and would cart me right into the sprint lane,” she said.  Instead, Waikiki Beach weakened on the home bend and held-up Mr Mojito while Heaven  Rocks zoomed away with an unassailable lead.  “I’m not saying it would changed the result, but I’m sure we would have finished closer to him,” Manning said.  That said, Manning was immensley proud of her new stable addition.   “He was second-up from a long spell, chased home a horse who likes a bit of a freak and beat the rest easily. Of course we’re thrilled,” he said.  Asked whether he could her next Arden Rooney, who won Manning a Hunter and NZ Cup, she said: “I hope so. He’s certainly a welcome addition to the stable.”  For now, Mr Mojito will return home and bolster the depth in Victoria’s free-for-all ranks.  “It’s only the start of his campaign, his second run back. He should keep getting better,” Manning said.  Adam Hamilton  

JUST a week after Michelle Payne’s historic Melbourne Cup win, harness racing’s “Queen”, Kerryn Manning, created history of her own. Manning, who had already rewritten most of harness racing’s driving records, became the first female to drive the winner of New Zealand’s biggest race of any code — the NZ Trotting Cup — aboard her own horse, Arden Rooney, in Christchurch on November 9, 2015. And now Manning is returning to NZ in search of another “first” in her beloved sport. Saturday marks the 11th year of NZ’s huge Harness Jewels raceday and no Australian-trained horse has been able to win a Jewels’ final so far. The closest was NSW pacer Divisive’s second placing in 2007. Manning and another Victorian trainer, Nicole Molander, fly the Aussie flag this year at Ashburton with their horses Mr Mojito and One Muscle Hill. Mr Mojito is $12 with TAB fixed odds in the $NZ150,000 Group 1 4YO Emerald (1609m), while One Muscle Hill is the $6 third favourite in his final, the $NZ100,000 Group 1 2YO Ruby (1609m). “It’s great to be heading back and I think we’ve got the right horse to give it a shake as well.” “The barrier draw (gate two) really helps as well. From two you don’t have to make too many decisions,” Manning said. Mr Mojito started his career in NZ and only joined Manning’s stable at the end of last year. “I’d barely got him back into training when Merv (Butterworth, owner) told me he’d like to have a crack at the Jewels,” she said. “It’s been a bit of a rush and, ideally, I’d have liked another lead-up race with him, but he’s ready to run a big race.” Manning’s husband, Grant Campbell, took Mr Mojito across to Auckland last Thursday and, after several aborted flights to Christchurch, they made the trip down south this week. “Grant’s really pleased with the way he’s settled in worked since he went across,” Manning said. “His work was a bit mixed before his first race for us, but it’s liked that race switched him on and his work has been consistently very good since.” Mr Mojito was formerly trained by the dominant Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen team and, ironically, it’s their stable which boasts the three main dangers to Manning’s charge on Saturday. The Purdon/Rasmussen runners are: Heavens Rock ($2.10, gate 14), Waikiki Beach ($2.80, gate six) and Cash N Flow ($4, gate nine). In Molander’s case with One Muscle Hill, she has adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and booked Purdon to drive her exciting young trotter. Purdon and Rasmussen are again the dominant force of Jewels Day with six favourites from the nine Group 1 finals. They are: Elle Mac ($1.35 with TAB, race one); Piccadilly Princess ($1.10, race three); Spanish Armada ($1.55, race four); Spankem ($1.30, race six); Heaven Rocks ($2.10, race eight) and Ultimate Machete ($1.65, race nine). Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun

Classy pacer Mr Mojito is a definite Harness Jewels runner. The four-year-old returned from a lengthy spell at his first run for new trainer-driver Kerryn Manning when third in the Group 2 4&5YO Championship at Melton last night (Saturday). Owner Merv Butterworth was delighted with the run. "I'm thrilled times three," he said. "It was his run in a long time and to push through at the start when they were really burning and still fight it right out at the finish was terrific. "It was such a solidly run race and, even though he got the inside run, his lack of racing was always going to be the issue. "He hit the front a fair way out and just kept digging in. We were delighted." Butterworth said it was an ideal lead-up to a Jewels raid. "He'll come on a lot for the run and the trip across will tighten him up, too," he said. Mr Mojito boards a plane to Auckland on Thursday, will stable briefly at Tony Herlihy's then fly down to Christchurch to stable back his old "home" the Allstars' barn to prepare for the Jewels. Butterworth knows the enormity of the challenge. "We wouldn't be going if we didn't think he was a winning chance," he said. "Heavens Rock is the one to beat. He's a tremendous talent, but he's still got his quirks and has to do it all right on the day." Mr Mojito is a $4.50 third favourite on the Aussie TAB behind Heavens Rock $1.60 and Our Waikiki Beach $3.50. Butterworth is also looking forward to the 3YO Ruby where his young trotter President Roydon is $7.50 equal second favourite behind Enghein. "His run was terrific last Friday and it's given us hope we can cause the upset at the Jewels," he said   Adam Hamilton

A filly purchased for less than $1000 at a Shepparton harness racing dispersal sale has netted 25-year-old Armstrong trainer Leroy O’Brien his biggest thrill in the trots. Imprincessgemma (Village Jolt-Melody Stride) didn’t even fetch four figures at the Shepparton sale, O’Brien explaining he paid “$900 plus GST” for the filly. Tonight she won the $50,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton, netting O’Brien and his mum, co-owner Sharryn, $25,000. “This was really special,” O’Brien said. “This one we owned ourselves, this was only her second lifetime win. She is really special to us. She’s named after my niece by my Mum. She really is one of our favourites.” Driven by Kerryn Manning tonight, Imprincessgemma took the lead early off Hakuna and once in front never looked like losing. She paced a 1:54.8 mile rate, her last half-mile split up in 28.8 and 28.4secs. “She carried herself well (at the sale),” O’Brien said when asked what had caught his eye at Shepparton. “Melody Stride was from the Stride family and Village Jolt was a fairly new sire when we purchased her. She was just very cheap and I thought she was definitely worth a go. “Me and my dad (Danny) actually went up there to buy a trotting mare in foal, but it went a little bit too dear. I had an eye for her (Imprincessgemma), so I had to ring mum to transfer some money so I could buy her. I had no money but I liked the horse.” O’Brien is positive he wants to make a full-time go of the trots. “I really do. I’m a plumber by trade, but I’ve done my time with the business and put that aside to have a real good go with the horses. There’s nothing better than waking up and working with them. I love them to bits. I really want to make it in the future and have a real good crack at it while I can. And I’ll give it 110 per cent, that’s for sure.” O’Brien also adds that the trots operation is very much a family project. “My mum gets up at daylight and gets out there with her nighty on, she loves it. It’s a massive team effort. Dad does a great job too and my girlfriend Kristy helps out along the lines too. I’ve got massive support from my family.” Manning was full of merit for O’Brien post-race. “She’s a lovely horse to drive and Leroy does a great job with his horses. He knows them very well and he’s got a good head on his shoulders,” she said. O’Brien returned the praise. “I put Kerryn on tonight because I wanted to put the best on to give her every chance. And you can’t beat Kerryn Manning.” Meanwhile, in the Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic trotting finals Wobelee (Down Under Muscles-Tupenny Bit) and Viksun (Fling It-Summerline) won the male and female divisions respectively. Wobelee is trained by Alison Alford and was driven by husband Chris, whose fans tonight donned #Puppet6000 t-shirts to celebrate Alford’s recent 6000th winner in the gig. “I’m very proud of this little fella,” Alford said. “He’s normally really well-mannered but he went for a little bit of a canter in the score-up, which scared me, but once he found the front he was going to be hard to beat.” Wobelee rated 2:00.8 to score by 6.5m over Whizzbang Dan, with Chissy in third. Viksun won the fillies’ final in 2:01.2 for trainer Billy Muscat and driver Michael Muscat. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Star mare Golden Goddess is the latest big name Harness Jewels casualty. Owner Merv Butterworth confirmed the plan to return to NZ for a Jewels tilt were over after she flopped at Melton last Friday night. "She pulled up with a cough and her heart rate was right up," he said. "We've decided to give a spell now in Melbourne to the Jewels is out, sadly." Golden Goddess sat parked in quick times, but wilted badly from the home bend when beaten almost 50m in 10th place behind The Orange Agent last Friday night. Her setback is a boost for glamour stablemate A Piccadilly Princess, who is battling to make the cut for a spot in the Jewels 4YO Diamond final. It wasn't all bad news for Butterworth over the weekend with his classy four-year-old Motu Premier winning the free-for-all at Menangle last night. Butterworth Jewels' focus now turns to Melton next Saturday with the return to racing of Mr Mojito. Now with Kerryn Manning, Mr Mojito head across for the Jewels providing he pleases connections first-up in the Group 2 4&5YO Championship on Saturday.   Adam Hamilton

There is a Harness Jewels spotlight on Melton Friday night, but just not in the way we first thought. Gifted four-year-old Mr Mojito was slated to make his racetrack return for new trainer Kerryn Manning in the Bold David Free-For-All in preparation for a Jewels raid. But Manning convinced owner Merv Butterworth to skip this week and go straight to the 4&5YO Championship at Melton on Saturday week. “Kerryn didn’t want to risk getting a poor draw in what’s a fairly strong field and having a gut-buster first-up,” Butterworth said. “She’s adamant she can him as fit as he needs to be at home to give it a huge shake next week.” While Mr Mojito is staying at home, another of Butterworth’s best horses, Our Golden Goddess, has drawn superbly in gate two in the $30,000 Group 3 Angelique Club Cup (2240m). And that’s where the Harness Jewels factor comes into play. Initially Butterworth was against returning to NZ with Our Golden Goddess for a crack at the Jewels after his two-race Aussie raid. “I’m now keen to send her back,” he said. “You can tell everyone, providing she runs as well as expect this week and in the Queen of the Pacific the week after, she will head back for the Jewels. “All going well she will be on the same flight across as Mr Mojito.” Butterworth believes the kind draw on Friday gives Our Golden Goddess every chance to upset superstar mare The Orange Agent, who has drawn out wide on the back row (gate 12). It’s notoriously hard to win from wide back row draws in 1720m and 2240m races around Melton. “We’ve got our chance from the draw,” Butterworth said. “Her past couple runs in Auckland have been outstanding.” Grant Campbell takes the reins on Our Golden Goddess.   Adam Hamilton  

Former buzz Kiwi pacer Mr Mojito is close to launching the next chapter of his career. And that chapter could well include a trip back to his homeland for a crack at the Harness Racing Jewels. The former Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained pacer has followed the same path as many of Merv and Meg Butterworth’s horses and switched to Kerryn Manning’s barn. The move came after a frustrating Perth campaign late last year when Mr Mojito never looked comfortable around the tight Gloucester Park where he raced three times for a win, a fifth and an 11th. “He didn’t like the track, but he still wasn’t at his best over there,” Butterworth said. “We gave him a good break and now he’s just about ready to race again. “Grant (Campbell, Manning’s husband) put a smile on my face the other day when he said Mr Mojito gave him the feel of a very nice horse.” Butterworth said Mr Mojito was likely to resume early next month. “I’d say that first week of May is when you’ll see him back,” he said. “The Harness Jewels is where we’d love to head with him. If they invite him, we should have time for a couple of runs here before going across.” In contrast, Butterworth said he was leaning towards bringing his classy four-year-old mare Golden Goddess across from Auckland to Victoria for a string of feature mares’ next month. “That’s how I’m leaning at the moment. First I’m hoping she can a cheeky race against Lazarus this weekend,” he said. “If she comes to Victoria, she will stay with Mark and Natalie for those races. Then we’ll decide whether goes back to NZ with them or stays here and goes to Kerryn and Grant.”   Adam Hamilton

Harness racing driver Kerryn Manning is making a steady recovery from a sickening fall in a race at Charlton on December 16.  Tipped out of her cart from pacer Ridethewildside in a heat of the Snowball Series, Kerryn sustained three broken ribs, a lung puncture, possible scapula fracture along with a nasty concussion, and was lucky to escape more serious injury. “I saw the doctor in Ararat on Wednesday,” Kerryn says in her signature chirpy tone.  “I have to go back in six weeks for another check-up. I sneakily made an appointment for five weeks though. I’m starting to get a little bored.” While no doubt in a certain amount of pain – Kerryn adds she made an unsuccessful attempt to use the vacuum cleaner today – the effects of concussion have troubled her. “I’m tired a lot, which apparently is a symptom of concussion – I’ve had a lot of Nana naps!” she explains.  “But the headaches have gone away now, so that’s good.” While no doubt worrying at the time, apparently there were some amusing symptoms of that concussion. “I’ve heard I was telling a lot of stories, including my intention to swim to Tasmania,” she laughs.  “I can’t even swim, so I don’t know where I would have ended up!” It is Kerryn’s understanding that while broken ribs take about six weeks to heal, rib cartilage damage is another story, and the extent of that is unknown.  It is this, if anything, that will keep her out of the sulky for longer than the prescribed time. Kerryn, husband Grant, and the entire Manning family have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of good wishes, offers of help, and concerned messages. To all those people, Kerryn has one vital piece of information: “You can tell them one thing, I didn’t break my nose this time.  That’s good!”  by Lucy McCormick

Harness racing drivers Kerryn Manning and Aaron Dunn are recovering well from Friday’s race fall, but still have a long and painful road ahead before they return to the track. Dunn suffered a dislocated and cracked shoulder and Manning broken ribs and a punctured lung when they fell during Friday’s VHRSC Snowball Series Heat at Charlton. “He’s OK, but it will be a few months before he gets back driving again,” said Dunn’s father, Barry. Trainer-driver Grant Campbell, husband of Kerryn Manning, said “she’s on the improve” after a difficult weekend. Dunn’s gelding, Sulem Joey, lost stride and fell, which dislodged his driver and tipped Manning’s cart, and led to her being run over by a trailing sulky. Both were transferred to Bendigo Hospital, where it was found Dunn had dislocated his right shoulder, requiring anaesthetic before it could be put back into place, with further inquiries revealing he had cracked the top his shoulder. “They had to knock him out and x-rays found more surgery was needed,” Barry, a trainer, said. “He’s travelling OK. He’s going to have his arm tied to his waist for about six weeks.” As time advances Manning is also on the mend and more is being learned. She suffered three broken ribs, high on the right side, and a minor puncture to her lung, which is healing itself.  She also suffered concussion, which Campbell said was “the biggest concern initially”, but “she’s responding really well as far as that goes”. “She’s on the improve,” he said. “She came out of the intensive care unit yesterday because they were really happy with the recovery of her lungs, her breathing and oxygen levels, and she has been in the surgical unit to monitor her before she is moved to the general ward. The pain is a bit more prevalent now.” The reminder that the risk of injury is ever-present in the sport has come in the wake of several falls this season. “We do it every day of the week and you kind of think nothing of it, but this last six to 12 months we seem to have had more falls in Victoria than the previous three years,” Campbell said. “We had one that looked worse at Melton a few months back where three of us – myself, Kerryn and Chris (Alford) – were all tipped out, but 30 minutes later we were back up and driving again. “This time there have been two serious injuries. If Kerryn was half a metre further along she would have been all right, but these things happen.” If there’s something the setback has reinforced it’s the ability of the trots community to rally around those beset by challenges. “We are very overwhelmed and grateful for the many well-wishes people have given to Kerryn and myself,” Campbell said. “There have many offers to help and we are very happy to have our families around us and the great support of staff at Bendigo Hospital.” The same can be said for Dunn. Among the well-wishes was a surprise call from Western Bulldogs great Doug Hawkins, with whom Dunn had crossed paths some time back. “That boosted his spirits,” Barry said. “He loves the racing. That’s his outlet. He’ll be out for a while, it could be three months, it just depends on how comes up.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A world champion harness racing driver remains in a stable condition in Bendigo Health’s intensive care unit following an accident on the track at Charlton on Friday. Kerryn Manning was taken to hospital by ambulance with three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a severe concussion after the crash, which also injured fellow driver Aaron Dunn. Ms Manning’s husband Grant Campbell said she was in a lot of pain and would likely remain in the unit for another 24 hours. He said she would probably stay in hospital for another week, possibly over Christmas. Mr Campbell said he and his wife’s family wanted to thank everyone for the “amazing” outpouring of support received in the wake of the incident. “It’s been overwhelming,” he said. By Natalie Croxon Reprinted with permission of The Standard

Everybody loves a home town hero and they don’t come much more popular than Great Western harness racing gun Kerryn Manning, who could again have Stawell trots fans in raptures this Sunday. Manning’s name could be etched on the Gateway Security Stawell Pacing Cup for a fourth time this weekend with her talented six-year-old, Ideal Success, beautifully drawn for a rollicking romp. “He is a nice horse and the Cup should suit him down to the ground,” the trainer-driver said. In 2004 Manning drove The Good Guy to victory in the Cup for trainer and father, Peter Manning, and then was both trainer and driver when Henchman won in 2006. The father-daughter team then broke through again in 2015 when they won by a neck with $17-1 shot Narra Operative. For Manning, winner of more than 3500 races as a driver and almost 800 as a trainer, any chance to step out at her local track is an occasion to be savoured. “I just like to have a runner at Stawell and to have one in the cup is just that little bit extra special.” And in Ideal Success she has a contender. The Kiwi joined her stable in February after 19 runs back home that yielded eight victories, all coming in his first nine races. In Manning’s hands the American Ideal gelding has again found that winning form, producing five victories from his eight starts on Australian soil, including the Ararat and Ouyen pacing cups. He returned from a spell at Tabcorp Park Melton on November 18 and, from a difficult second row draw, finished off well to run fourth amid a quality field. “He probably needed the run a bit and never really got into the race, but his times were about as good as anybody,” Manning said. “He didn’t get beaten all that far and he has tightened up since then.” The winner of that race was Young Modern from Emma Stewart’s all-conquering Smythes Creek stable and Ideal Success will not only have to turn the tables on him but also overcome Stewart’s other fancied runners Gumdrops and Metro Mike. Also looming are swooper Five Star Anvil and Im Corzin Terror, but Manning gives her hope every chance. “He has drawn quite well and should be able to hold a forward post,” she said. “Jiven Cullen is probably the early leader and is generally looking for a sit. I should be the first one there and should be a chance to lead depending on what they decide to do. From there (Ideal Success) should be right in it and a good chance. “I’ve won it a couple of times and it would be nice to repeat that performance, and he’s the type that could win it.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Stawell, Sunday 04 December 2016 Form guide for Stawell, Sunday 04 December 2016

Tee Cee Bee Macray’s emergence as a four-year-old of significant talent was only enhanced with a commanding win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, which will have the gelding a short price for next week’s final. Heats one and two of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace, which is restricted to M0, saw the Alan Tubbs trained gelding confirm his class, coming from the back of the field to rally five-wide and run past a couple of smart types with plenty in the tank. “It was a genuinely run race, which she probably still needed that to some degree with where we settled,” driver Greg Sugars said. “Having said that, he did have a pretty good class edge on most of his rivals. He did the job nicely in the end.” SEE THE FULL RESULTS AND REPLAYS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT'S RACING Colin Rogers’ well-rated Merbein flyer Murranji Track again gave a good account of himself, facing the breeze outside Gollahgirl and while others faded the tough Grinfromeartoear gelding pressed on to run into second, getting to the line strongly to outpoint third-placed Niki No No. Their strong performances have earned them tickets to return to Tabcorp Park Melton next Friday night for the metropolitan pace final, where they will confront heat one winner Miss Dreamin. Kerryn Manning pulled all the right reins on Paul Campbell’s four-year-old mare, showing gate speed to take the lead on Miss Dreamin before allowing favourite Fake Smile to slide to the front mid-race while she took leader’s back. Come the sprint lane Miss Dreamin was hitting the line hard and had enough in the bank to win a photo finish, with just a half-head separating the winner from second-placed Masterofthurles, another half-head to third-placed Fake Smile, while Marg Lee’s Keayang Ebonyrose was a close fourth. “She went really nice,” Manning said of the mare by Lis Mara out of Karamea Dreamin. “I had the option of holding the favourite (Fake Smile) out, but she was always going to get a good trip (in the box seat) and she does sprint lane quite well we thought. “She just got there on the line, but did well. You couldn’t ask for much better really. She just keeps stepping up and has again tonight. Obviously the final will be a little harder, but she is well in it now.” Michael Doltoff trained Fake Smile, who had won eight of nine starts leading into tonight, will only be better for the run having been first up from a spell. A tantalising showdown against Tee Cee Bee Macray awaits, having last met in in February’s Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, when Tee Cee Bee Macray placed third and Fake Smile fourth behind Tact Tate and Itz Bettor To Win. On Friday night the good times also rolled on for Horsham father-and-son team trainer Barry and driver Aaron Dunn. Leading in they had produced five consecutive wins and while the succession was broken when Little Lyn was unable to overcome her awkward draw in her keenly contested race, Nikkibadwagon only further enhanced her reputation. Having driven his first Melton winner only one week earlier, Aaron Dunn snapped up number two when his three-year-old filly won the University Meat 3YO Pace, having been three-wide for much of the last lap before letting down in the straight to outpace $3.30 favourite Rockstar Angel. “I (went) a bit earlier than I would have liked,” Dunn said, having been surprised Hu Hu R U crossed Dancingwithsierra to take the breeze, which left Nikkibadwagon exposed three-wide. “At least we were able get a bit of a breather down the back straight.” A 30.6 second quarter rolled into a 29.5 third quarter as Nikkibadwagon joined the front runners and ultimately scored a 3.2m win. “She’s got a lot of depth and she can really sprint home.” Milly Perez, for Marong trainer Larry Eastman, also produced another eye-catching performance, winning the Matt Laing’s Bucks Pace with Chris Alford in the sulky. A 12th career win increased the Four Starzzz Shark’s mare’s winnings to almost $200,000, with Milly Perez proving too good after having sat with cover until the last time down the back straight, when she popped out and wore her rivals down. “She’s going super,” Alford said. “I thought tonight we would get a nice easy run without doing much, but we had to come out pretty early and she was still travelling really well around the turn and picked up in the straight.” Shes Just a Delight, trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, ran on well to claim second, 3.5m in arrears of the winner. While most races largely went to script, many punters were bundled out of the quaddie when Classy Western made every post a winner to claim the Cougar Bourbon Pace for trainer-driver Allan McDonough. It was the well-respected seven-year-old’s first placing in 17 races, with the frenetic early lead time (43.9) set by a pulling Savesometimetodream, while Matt Craven’s Changing Code loomed forward from a middling start. At the back of the field Classy Western sat in wait, tailing Lets Elope into the race three-wide. As the leaders faded, Lets Elope worked clear, releasing Classy Western for a backmarkers battle down the straight and it was the Western Terror gelding who snapped up the win. “He’s been going terrific all this season really,” McDonough said. “Tonight the lead time was good and I was able to get a good cart into the race.” In other races, Nathan Jack drove a double, claiming the first – the DNR Logistics Pace – with David Abrahams trained Fabrication (Dream Vacation/Figment), and the pace final for Wayne Potter’s impressive three-year-old Itz Billy Hillis (Bettors Delight/Itz Got The Giggles), who has won four of his six starts. Geoff Webster produced a double of a different kind, training the first two placegetters in the Join The Pegasus Club Pace Final. Webster drove Mach Doro (Mach Three/Three Eagles) to clip stablemate Kotare York (Mach Three/Kotare Yoyo) by a head. Tenno Dance (Tennotrump/Disco Dance) won the Aldebaran Park Trot for Strathfieldsaye trainer Glenn Sharp and Bolinda driver Josh Duggan, and Black Valley (Skyvalley/Black Curlew) wrapped up the night by winning the VHRSC The Owners Voice Trot Final for Kyabram trainer Robert Shellie and Shepparton driver Rebecca Bartley. “Everything went good tonight,” Bartley said. “He travelled really well and got the job done.” Michael Howard

Ideal Success may trek a path travelled previously by star harness racing stablemate Arden Rooney and head to Mildura in search of Group 2 glory. Last night’s record-breaking Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup winner could be headed north for the annual Sunraysia feature, the stable confirmed at Ararat. The five-year-old gelding, who last season set a record for number of country cup wins in New Zealand with five, has now pocketed cup victories at Ouyen and Ararat since joining the Kerryn Manning stable at Great Western. The son of American Ideal/Maheer Glen has in fact won three from three since donning the red and blue stars. “This is really special,” Manning told course MC Rob Auber post-race. “He’s such a safe beginner. He began very well tonight.” His standing start manners certainly held Ideal Success in great stead last night, making light work of the 10-metre impost in the space of about 100m before pushing on to the front. Punters who backed the ex-Kiwi into $2.80 would have been pretty comfortable with their investment from there as Ideal Success’s main danger, Almost El Eagle, lobbed the one-one. Ideal Success put a lead time of 76secs behind him before two identical 30.5secs opening splits for a 61secs first half at the bell. Manning then launched into action, upping the pressure with a 27.5 third quarter. Star Of Dionysis, who breezed throughout, started to struggle after pulling early and gave ground, which did Almost El Eagle no favours as Steam Washed battled on three-wide. Ideal Success’s stablemate The Noble Steed, who is having a super season, peeled off the favourite’s back with Grant Campbell in the cart to launch its claim at the corner, while Weallwantano (Matthew Craven) angled wider and ran on. But Manning and Ideal Success were having none of it, the champion reinswoman clearly elated with the win as her latest stable star crossed the post 2.9 metres clear, Weallwantano finishing on for second and The Noble Steed third, well clear of Delight Brigade in fourth. And in winning Ideal Success posted a track record mile rate of 2:00.5, which will never be broken as the race will become a mobile start event from next year. Representing the stable at the post-race presentation Grant Campbell thanked the club for putting on a terrific night and the sponsors for their support. He also made special mention of the stable’s “great staff” for their hard work. If Ideal Success does go on to Mildura Manning will be chasing a third victory in the Cup there after previous victories behind Go Charles in 2001 and Arden Rooney last season. Cody Winnell

“It has been a pleasure to be involved, an honour to be invited and amazing to be able to win,” and with that harness racing driver Kerryn Manning accepted the first International All Star Series title. The Victorian champion sealed the series with a seventh placing at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, when the 22nd and final race was held among Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star night. Her success and accumulated 165.5 points also helped The Vics eclipse The World team 719 to 712, despite New Zealand’s Dexter Dunn (158) and US driver Brett Miller (152.5) enjoying outstanding weeks to fill out the minor placings. “I started slow but got a bit of momentum up as the week went on and have had a very good week,” Manning said. In fact the Great Western trainer-driver was last on the leaderboard after day one with 15 points, but a victory at Echuca on Tuesday on day two and three second placings at Maryborough on day three soon had Manning back in contention. Two victories on both days four (Ballarat) and five (Bendigo) gave Manning a 10.5-point lead over Dunn heading into the final day, which would prove unassailable. “It has been fun and exciting and I’ve met a lot of great people,” Manning said. “The visitors are just lovely people and the locals have been one happy family, I suppose you could call it, especially on that bus we go around on. “It’s been a highlight all week and it’s sad that it’s finished but I think I’m required back at home so I better head home and do some work.” HRV General Manager – Operations Vaughn Lynch said the series had been a terrific showcase of outstanding drivers from local and abroad and of the state’s country clubs. “We’ve seen a treat of racing,” Lynch said. “I’d like to thank everyone who took part, and their lovely partners, and commend them on what a fantastic week it has been.” Manning said the series could not have been such an amazing journey without the support of many. “I’d like to thank all the trainers who put horses in for us to drive and all the tracks that hosted,” she said. “They put on a great show for us every day we travelled around and they made it most enjoyable.” International All Star Series day seven leaderboard:  Kerryn Manning 165.5, Dexter Dunn 158, Brett Miller 152.5, Greg Sugars 150, Chris Alford 145.5, Yannick Gingras 143.5, Jason Lee 140.5, Anthony Butt 130.5, Corey Callahan 127.5, Gavin Lang 117.5. Overall leaderboard: Victoria 719, The World 712. Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria

A second successive winning double has harness racing driver Kerryn Manning perched atop the International All Star Series leaderboard, with only Dexter Dunn and Brett Miller a mathematical chance to unseat her. Manning has amassed 161.5 points to lead Dunn by 10.5, with Miller third on 150.5. To claim the crown Dunn or Miller would have to win, claiming the 14 points, and have Manning finish ninth (two points) or 10th (one). Manning has been drawn to drive Majestic Grace from barrier three in tomorrow's 22nd and final race of the series, which will take place at Tabcorp Park Melton at 8.32pm. Miller will start outside Manning in barrier four with Rostevarren and Dunn has Matt Craven's Star Gun from barrier seven. Good Form analyst Jason Bonnington said it was a "difficult race with several winning hopes", but he placed Cyclone Lucky Seven (Greg Sugars) on top from Uncas (Chris Alford), Heza Boy Star (Gavin Lang) and Manning's Majestic Grace. Manning led Dunn by a point going into the final day and her stranglehold on the competition was born from winning the 19th race with Animated and the 21st race with Peking Duck. There's no stopping Kerryn Manning "It's just fun to be involved, it's an honour to be chosen and it's great to be in front." Animated was a $1.90 favourite and the Ross Graham-trained four-year-old was driven accordingly by Manning, who took the gelding to the front and then held her ground on the straight to win by 3.9m from Keayang Ebonyrose (Brett Miller) and Sluggem (Greg Sugars). Kerryn back on top Race 21 was even more conclusive for Manning and Peking Duck, who shot to the front from barrier one and raced keenly throughout, drawing clear down the straight to salute by almost 12m. Birthyday boy Anthony Butt finished second with Arrokeefe and Gavin Lang was third with Mister Hairy Maclary. Earlier, in race 17, Brett Miller began day five of the series in the same fashion as he'd finished day four, with a win, this time with My Sophisticated Lady. Trainer Jarrod Pace's three-year-old filly broke its maiden status in Miller's hands, with the $3.50 favourite saluting from Rockabella Starz (Dexter Dunn) and Albietta (Yannick Gingras). The race was a dominant result for the World team, which filled the top five placings to leave the Vics languishing and surrendering their series lead. Miller makes it two on the trot But that domination by the world was fleeting, with Victorian drivers winning all other races. Race 18 was claimed by Terang's Jason Lee, who was three back the pegs but when Chris Alford drew Boundary Row out to challenge leader and favourite Yannick Gingras on Endsino the sprint lane opened for Lee and he shot Uwouldntbelieveit into contention. Michelle Wight's four-year-old gelding pinched it on the line when it had appeared in Endsino's keeping, with Rumbaron finishing strongly for Corey Callahan to take third ahead of Alford. Lee sprints to a well timed win Like Lee, Greg Sugars hadn't tasted success since night one despite consistently being around the mark and, like Lee, that all changed tonight. Sugars drove with aggression and confidence on Repeat After Me, going three wide early down the backstretch to circle those in front and then gradually drew away from leader, Jason Lee with Machli, to win by 5.3m. The Candyman can Earlier in the day The next and final stop is Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. International All Star Series day six leaderboard:  Kerryn Manning 161.5, Dexter Dunn 151, Brett Miller 150.5, Chris Alford 140.5, Yannick Gingras 138, Greg Sugars 136, Jason Lee 131.5, Corey Callahan 121.5, Anthony Butt 119.5, Gavin Lang 114.5. Overall leaderboard: Victoria 684, The World 680.5. Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 12 March 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 12 March 2016

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