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Leading harness racing mentor Justice knows how to win The Stampede. Harness Racing Victoria’s shortest race is run over 1200 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton, with Justice registering four wins in the feature since its inception in 2004. In fact, Justice has had a stranglehold on the event in recent years, with his wins coming with Coastal in 2010 and 2011, The Smiler in 2012 and Toulouse Lautrec last year. This year Justice will be represented by Spokeswoman, with the five-year-old mare drawing the pole and coming off a second at Melton upon debut for her new stable. “She didn’t get any peace in front,” Justice said of Spokeswoman’s last start when she broke 30 seconds for every quarter of the last mile. “She battled on really well. And she’d had a chequered time heading into that run, but she’s done huge since and I think she’ll improve a lot.” Justice explained that despite the short course, tactics were still of vital importance. “You can’t afford to be any further back than three-pegs,” Justice said. “I think Spokeswoman can lead, but there is some speed drawn in the middle. “Having said that, I don’t think mine is one-dimensional, she can win from the leader’s back.” Metro Mike is the early favourite despite drawing gate seven, but Justice believes the gelding might get caught in “no-man’s land” from the draw. “He gets out of the gate okay, but not brilliant,” Justice said. “He’s got the form on the board, but I think he may have to work exceptionally hard to get to the breeze.” HRV Media

Last start Melton winner Fiery Achiever is on the market. Following the gelding’s victory at Tabcorp Park, trainer Lance Justice revealed Fiery Achiever is for sale. A handy son of Courage Under Fire, Fiery Achiever will suit interstate racing according to the premier mentor. “This horse is actually up for sale,” Justice revealed. “As he showed tonight he is capable of winning in town, but he will be better suited interstate. “Western Australia would be perfect for him as he would be hard to catch around Gloucester Park. “He led easily tonight and he has always had gate speed, so a track like Perth would be ideal.” Driven by Rodney Petroff, Fiery Achiever led from six before being eased to trail his stablemate, Toulouse Lautrec. Angled into the passing lane during the latter stages, Fiery Achiever regained the lead in the shadows of the post to score by a head, with Mister Livan a neck away third. “They have both been working well and I felt they would be right in the finish,” Justice said. “To run the quinella wasn’t unexpected and is a good result for the stable.” Stretching his record to 11 wins and 15 placings from 76 starts, Fiery Achiever will continue to contest suitable events until sold. “I haven’t got any major plans for him,” Justice said. “Just keep him going around in his class unless he is sold sooner.” PAUL COURTS

Record-breaking harness racing trainer Lance Justice will find himself in a strange position at Globe Derby tomorrow night. A multiple premiership winner at the circuit before his move to Victoria, Justice is returning ‘home’ for another crack at the South Australia Cup. The main difference this time is Justice will be driving one of the rank outsiders – Im Barney Rubble. For the better part of the past decade Justice has contested the Group One with the favourite, Smoken Up. Smoken Up registered a record-equalling four victories – 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 – in the Cup, having also finished second behind Mister Zion in 2010 and Caribbean Blaster last season. Making the occasion even more unique for Justice is the fact Smoken Up will lead out the field, with underrated concession driver Shane Turner partnering the champion. “It will be a strange feeling being in the Cup without Trigger,” Justice said. “It’ll be even stranger watching someone take him onto the track before the Cup knowing he won’t be competing. “I was happy Shane could do this as he is a pretty good driver, he just doesn’t get as many opportunities as he deserves.” Originally nominating Im Barney Rubble for the Cup’s consolation – Justice Family Plate – Justice stated he is pleased the son of Life Sign is in the main event. “I actually nominated him looking to run in the Plate, but he got into the Cup instead, which I was originally disappointed with,” Justice explained. “The more I looked at the field the happier I became with the situation. “From barrier four, Barney could make it quite interesting as he is pretty quick and it’s a tight track. He is definitely a chance to earn a cheque.” PAUL COURTS

In exciting news for the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, legendary pacer Smoken Up has been placed back into light work in preparation for a guest appearance at the Bendigo Pacing Cup on January 17. The winner of more than $3.6million in prizemoney and 74 races, including 13 Group Ones, Smoken Up will lead the field onto the track in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd. Trainer Lance Justice stated Smoken Up “has been lounging around in his retirement paddock over recent months and will relish the chance to get back out before a great crowd once again”. As a further bonus to headline Smoken Up’s appearance, Lisa Justice has announced Ranvet, who sponsor Smoken Up, will present all winning trainers on the night with a five-litre container of Neutraline Plus, valued at $65 each. In even more exciting news, Lance has offered the opportunity for one up-and-coming Junior Driver to drive Smoken Up during his guest appearance. The lucky driver will be selected from those participating in the Central Victorian Concession Drivers’ Championship, to be run in conjunction with the upcoming Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships. Open to those with less than 50 wins, heats will be run across a range of classes at Maryborough on January 5, Charlton on January 7, Maryborough on January 15 and Charlton on January 22. “This will be a great opportunity for harness enthusiasts to see one of the recent greats of harness racing in the flesh once again,” Bendigo’s Brendan Baker said. “What a great thrill it will be for one lucky junior driver to be able to boast on his driving resume that he once drove Smoken Up on Bendigo Cup Night. “It will indeed be a huge additional drawcard for our event. “Special thanks must go to Lance for offering this wonderful opportunity. He is always willing to do what he can to promote the future of our Industry, and this is just another example.” HRV Media

Leading harness racing driver Robbie Morris has had some success since returning from a broken ankle earlier this year but believes the past week has been his best since returning from injury. In the space of three days last week Morris drove eight winners including four at Bathurst last Wednesday night and is hoping he can continue the good form when he drives Alchemy in the Max Laughton OAM Carnival Of Cups feature at Penrith on Thursday night. "It has been a good week, I haven't had a week like this since I've come back from the broken ankle and it is nice to be getting on some nice horses and getting some nice results," Morris said. "Kerry Ann (Turner) has nominated Alchemy for the feature race at the Carnival Of Cups meeting at Penrith on Thursday night and after drawing well if he can find the front I think he is going to be very hard to beat." Alchemy was formerly trained by Lance Justice and has now had four runs for the Turner stable. "His first up run was his best effort for KerryAnn, he finished second behind Bling It On and the overall time was very quick so if he can get to the pegs this week and repeat that then he will be in the finish." "It won't be an easy race, obviously the two horses off the back line are the class runners, Monifieth and Living Lord are the horses that have been competing in the strong races but I wouldn't even rule out a horse like Itsnewstome, he was very good winning two starts back." Morris also confirmed Turner has been cleared to return to race driving after suffering injuries from a fall at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Miracle Mile night. "Yeah the good news is that KerryAnn received the clearance from the doctor on Monday so she will be right to drive later in the week, I think she may even be going to Bathurst to drive on Friday." "KerryAnn has driven sixteen winners this season so hopefully she can get straight back into the winners' list." By Greg Hayes Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government.

Since its inception, the Miracle Mile has become the event that captures the imagination – and opinion – of the harness racing population. Developed in 1967, the Group One was designed with one mission in mind…creating a ‘miracle’. To be more precise the dream was to see the two-minute barrier broken for the first time under race conditions in Australia. To everyone’s delight, New Zealand wonder mare Robin Dundee achieved the feat during inaugural running, stopping the clock in 1:59. Almost five decades later, the Grand Circuit gem has been captured by the “who’s who” of the sport, with records tumbling on a regular basis. As we count down to Saturday night’s edition at Menangle, here are some statistics on the race that has become ultimate speed test on this side of the equator.   SEX OF WINNERS: 3 Mares - (Robin Dundee, 1967 - Norms Daughter, June 1996 – Baby Bling, April 2013) 21 Stallions - (Last winner - Christian Cullen, 1998) 23 Geldings - (Last winner – Beautide, November 2013)   AGES OF WINNERS: 4-Y-O - 5 5-Y-O - 18 6-Y-O - 10 7-Y-O - 7 8-Y-O - 5 9-Y-O - 1 12-Y-O – 1   SUCCESSFUL BARRIERS: 1 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) 2 - 10 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2005) 3 - 6 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) 4 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2010) 5 – 7 (Last winner, Beautide – November 2013) 6 - 4 (Last winner, Double Identity - 2002) 7 - 0 8 - 0   FIVE FASTEST WINNERS: Beautide (November 2013) - 1:50.2 Smoken Up (2010) – 1:50.3 Baby Bling (2013 April) – 1:50.5 Monkey King (2009) – 1:50.8 Iraklis (December 1996) - 1:54.2   FIVE SLOWEST WINNERS: The Scotsman (1979) - 2:00.7 Bay Foyle (1972) - 2:00.6 Pure Steel (1978) and Locarno (1980) - 2:00.4 Chokin (1993) - 2:00   CONSECUTIVE WINNERS: Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) Chokin (1993 and ‘94) Holmes D G (1999 and 2000) Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST APPEARANCES: Paleface Adios - 7 1974 - 2nd (Hondo Grattan 1) 1975 - 5th (Young Quinn 1) 1976 - 1st (Don’t Retreat 2, Hondo Grattan 3) 1977 - 2nd (Royal Force 2) 1978 - 2nd (Pure Steel 1) 1979 - 2nd (The Scotsman 1) 1980 - 3rd (Locarno 1, Pure Steel 2)   WHERE WINNERS TRAINED: New South Wales - 14 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) New Zealand - 12 (Last winner, Monkey King - 2009) Western Australia - 7 (Last winner, Norms Daughter - June 1996) Victoria - 9 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) Queensland - 3 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2006) Tasmania - 2 (Last winner, Halwes - 1968)…debate over Beautide (November 2013) which was based in New South Wales!   FAVOURITES: 19 Successful - 28 Unsuccessful   BEATEN WHEN ODDS-ON: Preux Chevalier - 8/11 - Last in 1984 Village Kid - 4/9 - 3rd in December 1986 Il Vicolo - 4/5 - 2nd in June 1996 Iraklis - 9/10 - 3rd in 1997 Blacks A Fake - 4/7 - 5th in 2008 Excel Stride – 5/4 – 4th in April 2013   MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINERS: • Barry Purdon - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) and Holmes DG (1999 and 2000) • Lance Justice - Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST SUCCESSFUL DRIVERS: • Vic Frost - Lucky Creed (1970), Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) • Tony Herlihy - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) • Lance Justice – Sokyola (2003), Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11) PAUL COURTS

Twelve of the best harness racing reinsmen in Australasia lined up this afternoon in Invercargill for the inaugural Trans Tasman driving challenge and no quarter was asked or given as bragging rights for the next twelve months were on the line. Chris Alford, Lance Justice, Greg Sugars and Kerryn Manning formed a strong team for the Australians and Justice was his usual confident self prior to the event. " I have a team of superstars who have probably won more races individually than all the Kiwis put together" he said. The North Island had a formidable lineup with Maurice McKendry, David Butcher, Peter Ferguson and Zac Butcher being a good combination of experience and youth. The South Island team also had talent to burn with Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange and Nathan Williamson who all having big seasons to this point. The points system was run on a 10 - 7 - 5 - 3 - 1 basis over the six races and that meant consistency was just as important as winning a heat. Lance Justice struck first for the Aussies in heat one while Manning and Alford also chimed in with wins  and Sugars a second but they didn't  trouble the scorer much in some heats. Their combined total after the six heats was 45 points with Chris Alford their highest points scorer with 16 from a win and two placings. The South Island team were in the points all afternoon but Ricky May was the only driver to record a win in the six races. Their combined total after six heats was 49 points with Dexter Dunn their highest points scorer with three thirds and 15 points. The two elder statesmen of the North Island team in Maurice McKendry and David Butcher showed their class throughout the day. David Butcher collected points in every race while Maurice had a win, two seconds and a third to lay the foundation for a winning total. Overall the North island team racked up 62 points for a comfortable win while Maurice Mckendry won the individual title on 29 points from his team mate David Butcher on 24 points. The whole day seemed to enjoyed by all the drivers involved and the Invercargill Harness Racing Club should be congratulated for bringing  todays event to fruition. Harnesslink Media - Check results here 

Despite his disillusioned state, harness racing trainer Lance Justice has decided not to disappoint Smoken Up’s fans. Annoyed by the suspensions he received at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night, Justice aired his frustrations on Facebook, during which time he stated he is no longer willing to promote the industry until the “powers to be...get in the real world”. Justice had previously agreed to take Smoken Up to Ballarat for Friday night’s Laser Electrical Lightning Mile. As the defending champion and track record holder, Smoken Up was set to lead the field onto the track for the $30,000 feature. A long time critic to what he believes is a lack of industry promotion, Justice cancelled Smoken Up’s appearance only to realise he was focusing his frustration in the wrong direction. Justice has often aired his believe the industry falls short in promoting its champions – both equine and human - unlike the thoroughbreds, which constantly pushes its stars into the limelight. “No more... I have decided I will not do anymore for harness racing, sorry Ballarat, Trigger and I won't be there,” Justice wrote. “After Friday night’s display by the powers to be I just can't be bothered anymore it’s hard enough to make ends meet without being told you are not allowed to drive for five weeks. “Have a look at the replays and tell me where anybody was interfered with or lost their chance to get the best result. He says to the powers to be “Get in the real world. I bet if I told you no pay for five weeks you would not be smiling.” Although he has since confirmed Smoken Up will make an appearance at Ballarat, Justice remains adamant a revamp of penalties is required in Victoria. “The stewards are too heavy handed,” Justice declared. “There is no defining difference between light, medium or heavy interference, and as such, it’s just bang...this is the sentence. “It’s mandatory sentencing gone mad. “Imagine we start pointing out the mistakes the stewards and staff make and say no pay. “HRV have done plenty wrong, but they don’t lose their wages.” Justice’s Facebook post received 215 likes and 63 comments of support, with four people sharing the post. Julija Brosnan’s remark echoed Justice’s opinion by posing the question: “How many professions do you know that penalise a misdemeanour by taking away a person’s livelihood?” Justice received three weeks for tightening when driving Im Barney Rubble two victory and two weeks for interference when partnering Machin Out to third behind Mark Dennis. Im Barney Rubble Machin Out The stewards’ report reads: Driver Lance Justice was found guilty of a charge under Rule 163(1)(a) which deals with causing interference in that shortly after the start he shifted Im Barney Rubble NZ down the track when not sufficiently clear of Asoka NZ (Alison Chisholm), tightening that gelding and causing it to shift down onto Cut For An Ace (Geoff Webster), that was tightened onto Alchemy NZ (Jason Hackett) and resulted in Onedin Hustler NZ (Greg Sugars) also being tightened, contacting the near-side wheel of Alchemy NZ and racing roughly. After considering submissions on penalty that included Mr Justice’s record, his driving frequency and the interference caused, Mr Justice had his license to drive in race suspended for a period of three weeks to commence at a time to be fixed. Driver Lance Justice was found guilty of a charge under Rule 163(1)(a) which deals with causing interference in that racing around the home turn he shifted Machin Out up the track when not clear of Artoc NZ (Chris Alford) causing that horse to be checked by its driver and The Baggy Green (Laura Crossland), which was racing to the outside of Artoc, to also be checked by its driver. After considering submissions on penalty that included Mr Justice’s offence record, driving frequency and the level of interference, Mr Justice had his license to drive in race suspended for a period of two weeks that was deemed to be cumulative to the suspension incurred in Race 5 and to commence at a time to be fixed. PAUL COURTS

Recently retired harness racing champion Smoken Up is set to return to the track at Ballarat next Friday night! Unfortunately for his diehard fans, the son of Tinted Cloud won’t be competing. Instead, the multi-millionaire will lead the field out before the running of the Laser Electrical Lightning Mile. As the defending champion and track record holder, Smoken Up is the perfect ‘general’ to escort this year’s combatants onto the track according to club chief executive Paul Rowse. “We are thrilled to have Smoken Up returning this year to lead out the field,” Rowse declared. “As the defending champion and track record hold, he is the perfect benchmark for this season’s runners. “The club cannot thank Lance (Justice, trainer) enough for taking the time to bring Smoken Up to Ballarat for this. “As usual, Lance is more than happy to promote our industry through his champion, which will no doubt draw another crowd to the stalls.” Driven by Justice last year, Smoken Up sizzled around the world class venue in 1:53.1, including a 26.3-second opening quarter. Along with the $20,000 winner’s cheque, the gelding earned connections an additional $10,000 with his record-breaking performance. With the bonus being offered again – plus the fact the event is the nation’s richest open class feature for the weekend – Roswe predicts the cash could ‘go off’ once more...especially if interstate speedsters such as Suave Stuey Lombo make the trip south. “Smoken Up’s time is quick, but under the right conditions I reckon it could be broken next week,” Rowse said. “There are quick horses here in Victoria, and if speedsters like Suave Stuey Lombo were to come down, it would be very interesting.” PAUL COURTS

It wasn’t the fairytale ending harness racing fans were hoping for, but no one would have left Tabcorp Park Melton disappointed tonight. With a large crowd cheering him on during his farewell appearance, Smoken Up produced his customary ‘never-say-die’ effort as he worked overtime in the ‘death seat’ before finishing fourth for his proud trainer-driver, Lance Justice. As the 12-year-old returned to scale it was reminiscent of the final scene in Rocky as the battered boxer embraces Adrian, leaving viewers almost unaware of Apollo being declared the winner in the background. For the record, Exciteusinthecity won, but many patrons will undoubtedly have gone home without knowing who scored, only that Smoken Up didn’t. The evening belonged to Smoken Up – or Trigger as he is affectionately-known – with Justice “touched by the supportive crowd, who got right behind him.” “I knew well before we even got to the track it was going to be an emotional night,” Justice said. “It’s the end of an era…an exciting eight-year journey with this champion has finished. “Obviously I would have liked him to win, but it wasn’t to be, and as he always does, he gave his all. “At the end of the day his old legs just don’t have those quick quarters in him anymore. “I’m rapt so many people came out to see him tonight and am really touched by the supportive crowd who got right behind him as he bows out of racing.” The son of Tinted Cloud retires with an impressive record of 74 wins, 39 seconds, 15 thirds and earnings of $3,606,750 from 153 starts, with 13 of his triumphs Group Ones. Successful at 15 tracks across Australasia, Smoken Up established numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50. The gelding’s wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the 2011 Len Smith Mile. - PAUL COURTS

After a long breakfast and relaxing morning in the paddock, Smoken Up has stepped up his preparation for tonight’s farewell appearance at Tabcorp Park Melton. The outstanding son of Tinted Cloud was given a light jog by trainer Lance Justice to ‘loosen up the limbs’ during one last session around the training track. With Justice admitting the warm morning “has made it easier on both of us”, Smoken Up had little more than a leisurely stroll. “We pretty much went for a wander around the track,” Justice declared. “Just a few easy laps to stretch out his legs and get him in the right frame of mind for tonight. “He is feeling terrific, moving freely and is pretty much just counting down the hours now.” PAUL COURTS

How does a champion prepare for his last start as a harness racing superstar? With that question in mind, multiple premiership winning horseman Lance Justice will keep readers informed with exclusive updates throughout the day as Smoken Up is readied for his farewell appearance at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. After 141 starts together, netting 72 victories, 48 placings and a bankroll of $3,588,949, Justice will head to the track as a competitor for the last time with mate Trigger as the curtain comes down on Smoken Up’s illustrious career. The gelding’s highlights include 13 Group Ones across Australasia, with his ‘CV’ boasting two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 30, 2011. Smoken Up’s 1:48.5 success saw the son of Tinted Cloud become the first standardbred to better 1:50 in the Southern Hemisphere. Justice is hoping to add another win to the tally with a farewell victory in the Casey Classic. “If he wins, he wins and if he doesn’t it’s not the end of the world,” Justice declared. “We’ve been fortunate to have won 72 races with him, so one more will only be some sweet, sweet icing on the cake.” As for Smoken Up’s retirement routine, Justice admits the two ‘old timers’ have adopted a quiet approach to the day – including a sleep in! “Breakfast is normally around 6:30am, but it’s Saturday, and a special one at that, so we’ve had a sleep in,” Justice said. “Got up and feed Trigger about 7:30 and I’m positive he enjoyed the extra hour off as much as I did! “Now we will just take it nice an easy for a few hours and enjoy the quiet sunny morning.” PAUL COURTS

On-course patrons have the opportunity to grab a memento of Smoken Up’s final outing at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Courtesy of the Victorian Government, several collectables will be distributed among racegoers throughout the night to mark what has been described as “the end of an era”. Beginning with Smoken Up caps to the first 500 attendees, the government is also providing Smoken Up mini-flags, ‘farewell Trigger’ posters and souvenir race book covers. Ever the man of the public, trainer Lance Justice has also agreed to make the multi-millionaire gelding available for fan photos. Tabcorp Park will also be decorated in a Smoken Up ‘theme’, giving the evening a special atmosphere worthy of a 13-time Group One winner. “It is terrific that the government has jumped on board via the Raceday Attraction Program to support the night,” Justice said. “For me this is going to be an emotional night knowing I won’t be heading to the races with Trigger anymore, so having this kind of send off for him will really make the occasion memorable. “We had a tremendous good bye at Menangle in July, but with a home crowd, this will be even bigger.” Harness Racing Victoria’s John Anderson has also praised the government for their support in farewelling Smoken Up. “With the support of the Government, HRV has been able to prepare a fitting closure to a great career,” Anderson said. “Every harness, or sports, enthusiast in the region should make their way to Tabcorp Park to see the champ race one final time.” A veteran of 152 starts, Smoken Up boasts the impressive record of 74 wins and 54 placings for earnings of $3,606,750, with a best time of 1:48.5. PAUL COURTS

SUPERSTAR Azumah Nelson will be harness racing’s special guest at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. In Australia to promote his biography and raise awareness of his home country’s fight against poverty, the champion boxer and humanitarian has been lured into harness racing via his close friendship with Tony Peacock. Accepting an invitation to be a guest of Harness Racing Victoria, Nelson, who is affectionately-known as The Professor, stated he is ‘excited’ to return the world class venue. The Ghanaian-born triple world champion admitted he caught the ‘harness bug’ while visiting Peacock’s Kilmore property and Tabcorp Park in 2010. With poverty the standard, not the exception in Ghana, Nelson is doing his best to eradicate the problem while also overseeing the Azumah Nelson Foundation. The Academy’s objective is to provide facilities and opportunities for handicapped and disadvantaged youth to reach their full potential. On offer are a range of educational and sporting ventures, including Australian Rules Football, which Nelson took a liking to during his previous visit. Along with their interest in standardbreds, Peacock and Nelson also share a love for pugilism, with the latter’s achievements well-known. The world’s best pound-for-pound boxer during the early 1990s, Nelson won three world titles as a featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight as well as the Ghanaian, Commonwealth and African crowns. Nelson’s new book – The Professor, Life story of Azumah Nelson – is a must read for all boxing, and general sports, fans. In a bid to meet and greet harness racing participants during his visit, Nelson will present each winning trainer with a signed copy of his book throughout the program. Nelson’s visit may also double as an omen for local trainer Lance Justice, who is hoping his retiring champion Smoken Up can end his career on a winning note. The last time Nelson enjoyed the racing at Melton Justice scored a double, including the night’s free-for-all! For more information on Nelson’s biography visit: PAUL COURTS

Harness racing superstar Smoken Up faces a tough challenge in his bid for a farewell victory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Due to be retired after his appearance in the Casey Classic, Smoken Up has drawn awkwardly in gate nine for trainer Lance Justice. Admitting the barrier has hampered the prospects of a final win, Justice stated the outing is “more about enjoying the moment” with the sprightly 12-year-old. “If he wins, he wins and if he doesn’t it’s not the end of the world,” Justice declared. “Saturday is more about enjoying the moment as he says good bye to racing. “We’ve been fortunate to have won 72 races with him, so one more will only be some sweet, sweet icing on the cake. “Naturally, I would love to see him go out on a high, but from the draw it may not be possible. “Don’t get me wrong, I still think he can win, and no matter what happens, I know he will do his best as always. “Overall, it is going to be very emotion as it’s the end of an era.” Justice was fortunate to enjoy a perfect end to former stable star Sokyola’s career at Moonee Valley on June 22, 2007 when the son of Soky’s Atom accounted for The Warp Drive and The Phantoms Guest. “We were lucking enough to have a happy ending with Sokyola and with a bit of luck we can enjoy the same with Smoken Up,” Justice said. “A win would also bookend his career with me as he won on debut at Yarra Valley in March 2007. To begin and end with a win would be a fairytale.” Smoken Up has registered 72 victories and 48 placings from 141 starts with Justice for earnings of $3,588,949 to be Australasia's third richest pacer behind Blacks A Fake ($4,575,438) and Im Themightyquinn ($4,567,456). His wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 30, 2011. The son of Tinted Cloud has claimed 13 Group Ones across the Southern Hemisphere, won at 15 tracks and set numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50. While his favourite track is Menangle due its spacious 1400-metre circuit, Smoken Up has registered the majority of his wins at Melbourne’s two metropolitan tracks. In fact, the gelding boasts the record for the most wins at headquarters, with his 33 triumphs breaking down to 12 at Moonee Valley and 21 at Melton. That total also equates to 32 metropolitan wins and one country front. Former top mare Make Mine Cullen held the previous record thanks to her 30 wins between the two tracks. The daughter of Christian Cullen won 29 at Melton and one at Moonee Valley for Glenn Douglas. Her tally breaks down to 25 city and five country wins, with one of her provincial fronts coming at the Valley. Sokyola was credited as Moonee Valley’s leading performer with his 29 wins, which splits to 26 metro and three country. Former outstanding pacer Dusty Miller is believed to have won 27 races at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds, however, there are no in depth records to verify his stats. To put things into another perspective, the immortal Popular Alm notched 21 wins at the Valley, while his arch-rival, Gammalite, had 24! A farewell victory will also see Smoken Up fall a win short of True Roman’s ‘all-comers’ record in town. Among the best trotters produced in the Southern Hemisphere, True Roman won an amazing 35 races at the Valley. True Roman’s tally breaks down to an incredible 34 metro and one country success. “To have Sokyola as the most successful metro horse in numbers and now Smoken Up is amazing,” Justice said. “Now with a bit of luck Trigger can match old Soky by bowing out with a win. “Like I said, it’s going to be an emotional night and we will both be out there doing our best.” - PAUL COURTS

If we could hear it 'from the horse's mouth', it's pretty obvious what harness racing superstar Smoken Up will be wishing for. With today (1st of September) the beginning of the Australian season, Smoken Up and his standardbred counterparts are celebrating their birthday. Marking his 12th birthday with a party and cake at trainer Lance Justice's stable in Melton, Victoria, Smoken Up is on the verge of retirement. To be more precise, the son of Tinted Cloud is due to have his last start at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Taking that into consideration, Smoken Up is likely to be wishing for a 'fairytale ending'...least that's what Justice and the gelding's connections are looking to achieve with the multi millionaire. Justice was fortunate to enjoy a perfect end to former stable star Sokyola's career at Moonee Valley on June 22, 2007 when the son of Soky's Atom accounted for The Warp Drive and The Phantoms Guest. "We were lucking enough to have a happy ending with Sokyola and with a bit of luck we can enjoy the same with Smoken Up at Tabcorp Park next Saturday night," Justice said. "We will know how our chances are shaping up a little better on Tuesday when the fields come out and can see where he has drawn. "I'm a realist and am fully aware it's unlikely to happen, but at the same time we can enjoy the ride, hope for a good draw and then hope for the best on race night. "Whether he wins or not, it's going to be a joyful and sad occasion at the same time as it's the end of an era." Successful upon debut for Justice at Yarra Valley on March 8, 2007, Smoken Up has registered a further 71 victories and 48 placings from 141 starts for earnings of $3,588,949 to be Australasia's third richest pacer behind Blacks A Fake ($4,575,438) and Im Themightyquinn ($4,567,456). His wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 30, 2011. Smoken Up has claimed 13 Group Ones across the Southern Hemisphere, won at 15 tracks and set numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50. PAUL COURTS

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