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The new harness racing star of Sunraysia – unfashionably bred four year old Universal Rock / Annie Teaghan gelding Vee Rock is set to continue his unbeaten record at the Nyah HRC meeting to be held at the Swan Hill Racing Centre on Thursday, when he contests the second heat of the Vicbred Platinum Country Series O for C1 class over 2240 metres. A brilliant winner of the first heat at the Ouyen fixture held at Mildura last Friday in a mile rate of 2-02.2 (last half mile 57.6), Vee Rock is able to take his place in the field due to a paucity of numbers, coming in on terrific  terms as he is now assessed as a C3 class pacer. Trained at Cardross on the outskirts of Mildura by Frank Merceica formerly of Broken Hill, Vee Rock has been ultra impressive to date having first raced on April 23 when victorious at Swan Hill. Avenel concessional reinsman Mark Pitt will again hold the reins. Stanhope trainer/driver Gary Pekin’s Illawong Fantasia coming off two successive victories at Tabcorp Park Melton looks the main danger, while Gary Donaldson’s Gian and the last start Echuca victor Philotes appear to be great trifecta and first four chances. The race will close off the Nyah Quaddie. At Tabcorp Melton during the afternoon, former Kiwi four year old Sands A Flyin/Western Star gelding Garibaldi which created a huge impression winning first up at the same track last Thursday, steps out again from gate three in the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace for R2 to R4 class over 2240 metres, third leg of the Quaddie and second leg of the Daily Double. Trained and driven by Lance Justice, Garibaldi will meet some handy opposition in Adam Kelly’s Lady Suffragette from the pole, Ian Dornauf’s last start impressive Yarra Valley victor Royal Deviate (gate six) and Shannon McLean’s honest Broadway Classic (gate two on the second row). Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

Outstanding Queensland six year old Famous Forever/Making Gold mare Forever Gold was a brilliant winner of the $25,275 Harness Breeders (Vic) Make Mine Cullen – the first leg of the huge Triple Crown Series for Mares M0 or better held over a three week period at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday, thanks to a brilliant drive by Kylie Rasmussen. Trained by Darren Weeks at Toorbul, Forever Gold starting from gate three on the second line was set alight almost immediately the start was effected in the 1720 metre feature to circle the field and park outside the pacemaker Beauty Secret (gate two) which had crossed the polemarker Baby Bling. Relaxing beautifully in the run, Forever Gold cruised up to Beauty Secret on straightening and quickly put a gap on her rivals. In quarters of 29.4, 29.4, 28.8 and 27.7 for the last 1609 metres after a lead time of 6.9 seconds, Forever Gold scored by 2.6 metres in advance of a very much in-form Gumdrops from five back the markers in a rate of 1-54.3, with Baby Bling using the sprint lane for third ahead of a disappointing Beauty Secret. Darren Weeks was thrilled with the performance in registering his first Victorian winner, while Kylie Rasmussen commented that “she was always confident throughout the race, especially on the final bend”. It was also Kylie’s first success in Victoria. On a super night of racing loaded with highlight’s, Victoria’s favourite pacer eleven year old marvel Smoken Up (Tinted Cloud/Carnlough Bay) chalked up his 73rd victory at start number 147 to win the Bold David Free For All over 1720 metres with trainer/driver Lance Justice in the sulky. Sent forward from outside the front line to assume control from Five Star Anvil (gate six), Smoken Up enjoyed an easy passage all through the race and although looking to be in trouble on straightening when both Five Star Anvil which surprisingly moved away from the inside and Chilli Palmer (three wide after a one/one passage from gate four) issued strong challenges, Smoken Up rallied as he usually does to record a fighting half neck victory from Chilli Palmer in a rate of 1-58.3 (last half 55.4 – quarter 26.9), with Five Star Anvil a neck back in third place. Quality four year old Four Starzzz Shark/Botswana entire Lennytheshark now with David Aiken at Avenel, resumed off an eleven month lay-off with an awesome display to land the second heat of the choicehotels.com.au Rising Stars Pace for M0 & M1 class over 2240 metres. Driven by Chris Alford, Lennytheshark raced by Kevin Risely and son Martin, led throught to score by 22.1 metres in a rate of 1-56.5 (last half 55.8 – quarter 28.1) from Sapphire Swayze which faced the breeze from the bell and Astronaut. The first heat saw Melton trainer/driver Alison Chisholm’s six year old Grinfromeartoear/New York On Sunday gelding Asoka outstay his rivals after racing parked from gate six to defeat the long odds-on favourite Flaming Flutter which led from gate two, with the ever reliable Weallwantano third after racing wide in the final circuit. The mile rate 1-57.1.   Bacchus Marsh reinswoman Amy Tubbs experienced a night of “ups and downs”. After guiding Brunelleschi to a brilliant victory in the 2nd Heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Trotting Series for TM0 & TM1 class over 2240 metres, she “hit the deck” when tipped from the sulky of Blazeaway Macray in the Make Mine Cullen. Fortunately Amy suffered no injuries. The 1st Heat of the Trotting Series was taken out by seven year old Conch Deville/Smilin Eyes gelding Monsieur Deville for Shepparton’s Geoff (Marto) Martin. The $30,505 Final will be held next Friday By Len Baker (Harness Racing Victoria)

Once a year the square gaiters take pride of place at Mildura as part of the Pacing Cup Carnival and Thursday April 10 was the night this year, with Kiwi bred four year old Monarchy/Sunny Gem gelding Unico Crown scoring a brilliant all of the way victory in the $14,505 Seelite Windows & Doors Mildura Trotters Cup for T5 or better class over 2600 metres. Trained at Lara by Dean Braun and driven by the stable’s number one reinsman Chris Alford, Unico Crown began smoothly from the pole to lead and rated to perfection around the tight circuit, ran out an easy 7.7 metre victor in advance of Sandys Boy which trailed, making no impression in the run home, with Monte specialist Motu Young Jacob a further 2.7 metres back in third place from a 20 metre handicap after racing mid-field in the moving line. With quarters of 31.1, 31.1, 31.2 and 29.9 for the last 1609 metres, Unico Crown returned a mile rate of 2-05.5, well outside Si Capisco’s track record of 2-03.3 set in 2012. Unico Crown has made only one blemish since crossing the Tasman, when unable to handle the tiny Boort track in the Boort Trotting Cup. Earlier in the evening the VSTA Trotters Handicap for T0 to T4 class over 2190 metres was taken out by the Brent Lilley (Bolinda) trained and Lance Justice driven in-form five year old gelding Like It Chilled, a son of Sundon and Rite Effort. Raced by Bruce and Margaret Dalton, Like It Chilled coming from a solo 20 metre backmark settled six back along the markers, with the South Australian visitor Buff Orpington leading out from from the pole before going off stride entering the straight on the first occasion which allowed The Final Cut to take over. Set alight racing for the bell, Like It Chilled was able to stride clear when the leader galloped with a circuit to travel. Travelling easily, Like It Chilled coasted to the wire by 18 metres in a mile rate of 2-08.4 over Candy Digger which was always handy, with Featherfoot Sun another S-A raider third. By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

Washydke’s Jesse Wederell has now trained his first winner but is still yet to see one of his horses cross the line in first place. “I got that excited that I was jumping up and down and in the end it ended up being nothing more than a blur,” laughed the young enthusiastic horseman. Wederell, who is in his first season of training, broke his duck when his four-year-old Sand’s A Flyin gelding, Garibaldi, was successful in the fourth race at Rangiora today. “He has always had plenty of ability but he seems to have really clicked of late,” said Wederell, who also owns the gelding. “He may have had 13 starts but he is still pretty inexperienced, so I expect him to get better in time,” he enthused. “He is still learning what this racing game is all about.” Garibaldi is one of two two-year-olds that 21-year-old Wederell purchased of Brendon Hill in 2012. The other is Phil Monty, who Wederell recently sold to Lance Justice for good money after a very good second at Addington on February 27. “He is a really nice horse and I have kept a ten percent share in him,” enthused Wederell. “He should do a super job over there for Lance. Both Garibaldi and Phil Monty were purchased out of the Harness Racing Weekly for $1000 apiece. “I was looking for a horse at the time and I liked their breeding,” recalled Wederell. “Garibaldi’s mother (Western Starr) went 1-50 in America as a three-year-old.” “But I never dreamed I’d get two nice horses to kick off my career. I guess you could say I’ve been a bit lucky.” When asked what he was going to do with his newly found wealth, Wederell said that a new Ute could well be on the cards. It may even be towing Garibaldi next time he arrives at the races. Meanwhile, Arden Rooney was an impressive winner of the $25,000 North Canterbury Country Cups Final and will now target the $100,000 Easter Cup on April 19. By Mitchell Robertson

Outstanding Kiwi bred Elsu / Make It Hot four year old harness racing gelding Chilli Palmer was a brilliant victor of the $30,505 Corio Waste Management Geelong Cup for M0 or better class over 2570 metres at Beckley Park on Saturday.   A small but select field contested the event – the biggest in Geelong each season, with multi millionaire and crowd favourite Smoken Up (gate three) and Chilli Palmer (gate five) appearing to be the main chances and that’s the way the race panned out.   Our Blackbird from the pole was the best to begin, with Lance Justice and Smoken Up ambling to the front shortly after the start, multiple cups winner Arber three back the markers being followed by Magical Telf, Chilli Palmer, Smudge Bromac and Savesomtimetodream all in indian file behind him.   Magical Telf was taken away from the markers by Alex Ashwood within a lap to race in the open, with Chris Alford immediately following to possie Chilli Palmer one/one and Smudge Bromac also following to be three back in the moving line.   In quarters of 30.5 and 30.9 for the first half of the last mile, Smoken Up was expected to break the clock for the last half after such an easy time as Lance Justice started to up the tempo.   Easing three wide approaching the final bend, Chilli Palmer sprinted like a gazelle in the straight to overtake Smoken Up and register a 3.8 metre untouched margin over Smoken Up who wouldn’t shirk the issue being the champion that he is, with Our Blackbird holding his ground to finish .7 metres away in third place.   In a last half of 56 seconds (28.5 & 27.5), Chilli Palmer returned a mile rate of 1-59.7 for the journey which was nothing special when you take in the quality of the field.   Trained at Lara by Dean Braun who continues to provide winner after winner with ex-Kiwi talent, Chilli Palmer has recorded 10 wins from only 14 race appearances and without doubt is one of harness racing’s future stars.    Kyneton trainer Joe Attard has Yankee Paco / Kellybrooke five year old gelding El Paco absolutely flying at present, chalking up his 11th victory (4 this season) by taking out the prestigious $10,505 James & Son McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup for T5 or better class over 2570 metres on the Geelong program. . Driven by brother Julian as Joe had family commitments in Adelaide, El Paco flew away from the 10 metre mark to lead and rated to perfection, just held on to score by a half head in a thrilling finish over Duke Of The Moment (three wide home turn) from a 20 metre handicap, with the well backed pole marker Quite A Moment coming from last at the bell to finish third after throwing away her chances by galloping shortly after the start. The mile rate 2-06.5.   Bred by Greg Clark who races the horse in partnership with Joe, El Paco is an owners dream, always finishing close up in his races. Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria    

SA BOTRA who put over $48,000 is bonus and extra stake money in South Australia are currently running a on line auction to raise funds to continue to support Harness Racing in the state.   They are auctioning the set of horse shoe full framed that Smoken Up aka "Trigger" wore on his way to a Australasian record at Menangle Park NSW of 1.49.9 on November 23rd 2013   This must for any lover of Harness Racing comes framed with certificate of authenticity signed by his trainer Lance Justice.   This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bid on this piece of harness racing history. A true collector's item.   This item is being offered by SA BOTRA.   Proceeds of this auction will be used to promote harness racing in South Australia. To make a big you only have few hours left go to \http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/161249911654?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649   Gary Newton    

Trainer Bruce Negus, who has been the driving force behind tomorrow’s Youth Vs Experienced meeting at Waikouaiti , is excited about tomorrow’s concept and expects the series to bring in plenty of interest Australasian wide. “I’m not expecting a huge crowd on course but I am expecting plenty of off-course interest,” said the trainer, best known for his feats with Champion youngster Courage Under Fire. “It will be 10am in Australia when the meeting starts and there won’t be a lot else on for them to watch,” said Negus. “So having Lance Justice and Amanda Turnball over here should create plenty of Australian interest in the meeting.” Negus said that no driver looks to have a standout book on paper, so consistency will probably be the decider. “We are scoring the Series a bit differently than usual, with the winner of the race only getting a few more points than the reinsman that finishes fourth or fifth,” revealed Negus. “So it will probably take four of five good finishes to take the gold rather than say a couple of wins, two lasts, and a ninth.” Negus said that he expects the T.A.B to open various betting options on the series and T.A.B Bookmaker Stephen Richardson later confirmed that there would be two books opened – Youth or Experienced and Overall Winner. The age for the experienced reinsmen was set at 50 and over, while the youthful reinsman have to be 25 or under. The teams are as follows: Team Experience: Lance Justice (Aus), Allan Beck, Peter Ferguson, Tony Herlihy and Maurice Mckendry. Team Youth: Amanda Turnball (Aus), Zac Butcher, Samantha Ottley, Craig Ferguson, Dexter Dunn, and Matthew Williamson. All races in the series are penalty-free, while the winner of the eighth race will receive a free service fee to Betterthancheddar on top of the stake money courtesy of Alabar, who are sponsoring the meeting. “We are hugely grateful to Alabar and have had a piece of artwork done on Betterthancheddar which will be in the background of all the winning pictures,” said Negus. While Negus, who is the Vice-President of the Waikouaiti Trotting Club, has plenty on his hands with the series tomorrow, he also has a strong team of his own engaged to race. “Delightful Dash should win the first,” he said matter-of-factly. “And Highland Reign who is in the same race should finish in the money.” “Goodboy Tiger and Merilane are both in form trotters and love the grass, so they also have good chances.” Negus also said that his brother-in-law’s horse Martini could be worth a dollar at good odds, while Alexy, who he is driving himself in the Amatuer Drivers event, is in a similar boat. “Martini was going to demolish a good field before he galloped last start and Alexy can surprise at odds if he gets the right trip.” The track is currently in great condition and as long as there is no more rain, it should provide a tip-top racing surface. By Mitchell Robertson    

Phenomenal eleven year old Tinted Cloud - Carnlough Bay gelding Smoken Up returned to the track after a few weeks off to score an exciting narrow fighting victory in the SEW-Eurodrive Flying Free For All over 1720 metres at his home track Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday.   Showing his customary speed from gate two to hold out Inter Dominion finalist Keayang Cullen (gate five), Smoken Up first up since February 1 was given a comfortable time, before sprinting home his last half mile in 55.7 – quarter 27 to nose out Savesomtimetodream (one/one) in a rate of 1-54.7, with Keayang Cullen fighting all the way to the wire to be head away in third place.   Trainer/driver Lance Justice was thrilled with the performance, saying “the horse was nowhere near fit as yet and would contest a couple of minor Free For All’s over the next few weeks prior to possibly heading for a fifth victory attempt in the Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 27”.   It was the dual Miracle Mile winners 72nd victory in 142 outings.  .................................................................................................................................   Daylesford duo – Mick Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy’s 5-Y-0 It Is I - Glenlyon Glad gelding It Is Billy continued his rise through the grades, by destroying his rivals in the 2nd Heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace for M0 class over 1720 metres.   Again showing exceptional gate speed from outside the front row, It Is Billy took over from Royal Witness inside him on the first turn, before coasting to a 5.7 metre victory untouched over Royal Witness in 1-54.5, with Cyrus a gallant third after racing three wide for the final circuit.   The $30,000 Final will be held this Saturday. Len Baker For Harness Racing Victoria

Gippsland trainer Michael Hughes collected three winners at Monday's Warragul harness races.   The Warragul local, who has recently relocated his training operation to Cranbourne, is enjoying great succcess with his team and that looks set to continue given the quality of horseflesh on display at Warragul.   Winners Atomic Horizon, Apollo Thirteen and Call Me Bond all carry good wraps among local harness racing followers, and should win further races.   Call Me Bond is raced by long time stable supporter Garry Rogers, while Michael's other two winners are owned by the Curran family, who have invested a great deal of time and money into trotting in recent years and are starting to reap the benefits.   The trio were driven by Nathan Jack, while Michael Hughes has now taken the lead in the Trainer of the Year award at Warragul.   Another local victor with a bright future is Live In Doubt who was most impressive in winning for trainer/driver Glenn Hunter.   The underrated horseman has placed Live In Doubt well during its short career - the horse also won at the previous Warragul meeting on January 31.   Glenn and his father Chris have been enjoying good success in recent times with their team of pacers and trotters.   Both Live In Doubt and Call Me Bond will compete in an $8000 Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 21.   Last Monday's feature race was the $8000 Ken Miller Memorial Pace Final, sponsored by the Warragul and District Light Harness Club in memory of their past President.   In what was a keen and exciting race, Melton pacer Bushi grabbed victory right on the post for Lance Justice. Bushi has been in excellent form since returning from a spell for his large group of owners.   Racing returns to Warragul for the $25,000 Eastern Challenge race on Monday, March 24. Photos of Atomic Horizon being urged to victory in the shadows of the big top - the circus is in town in Warragul this week Also Call Me Bond parading after his race win and the field charging down the home straight in the main race, along with Bushi narrowly scoring in the Ken Miller Pace Final

Southern star Franco Ledger is primed and ready for Saturday’s Interdomion heat at Addington after he obliterated his own Waikouaiti track record by more than 4 seconds on Sunday. After starting from a 50 metre handicap, the biggest handicap ever overcome in the 59 year history of the race, Franco Ledger boomed down the outside to beat Donegals Guest by 1 & ¼ lenghts in an unbelievable time of 4-02.9 for the 3200 metre journey on a grass surface. It was Franco Ledger’s second win in the race in the last three years. Last year the race was taken out by Glencoe VC, who finished third in this year’s edition. The 6-year-old entire has now won 18 races and $369,000 in stakes for Hunter and the What Ever syndicate, who once again attempted to shake the grandstand down as their pride and joy steamed down the outside of the track. The Waikouaiti Trotting Club will race again on Tuesday, March 18, where some of the veterans of Australasian harness racing will take on the industry’s rising stars in an additional Waikouaiti meeting dubbed the ''youth versus experience''. The age for the experienced reinsmen was set at 50 and over, while the youthful reinsman have to be 25 or under. Lance Justice and 23-year-old Amanda Turnball have been invited to compete in the series from Australia, while the two members of the New Zealand 3000 win club, Tony Herlihy and Maurice McKendry, have also been invited to compete. Allan Beck, Ricky May, Peter Ferguson are other experienced New Zealand reinsman invited, while the youth will be represented by Zac Butcher, Samantha Ottley, Craig Ferguson, Dexter Dunn and Matthew Williamson. Waikouaiti trainer Bruce Negus has done much of the work in making the list of invited drivers, who are likely to compete in five penalty-free races on the card. By Mitchell Robertson

Saturday night at Melton’s Tabcorp Park will see the 66th running of the time-honoured premier harness racing handicap of Australasia, the Del-Re National Food Group A.G. Hunter Cup. The event is steeped in tradition and prestige. The annual stand-start Group 1 is a highlight on the Australasian harness racing calendar, an event whose honour roll is adorned by such stars of the game as Minuteman (1964 and 66), Pure Steel (1977, 78 and 80), Koala King (1981), Gammalite (1982), Popular Alm (1983), Blossom Lady (1994 and 95), Elsu (2005 and 2006) and Blacks A Fake (2008), just to name a few. This year another star will etch their name among the sport’s elite, and a highly competitive race looks assured with most of the key players peaking in form at the right time. With $400,000 in prize money on offer for the 3280m marathon, the race annually draws the strongest and fastest pacers from around the land and abroad. In recent years, the Kiwis have boasted bragging rights in the Hunter Cup, largely thanks to genius siblings Tim and Anthony Butt, who have combined to win four of the last five versions of the race. Anthony has seven times driven the winner of the Hunter Cup, his domination of the event kicking off back in 1994 when the mighty Blossom Lady prevailed at Moonee Valley. The super mare would return to the Valley 12 months later and go back to back, despite being forced to punch the breeze outside the leader from the 1700m. The champion stayer trained by the late Derek Jones raced to the lead down the back the final time and held off all comers late – including the brilliant Golden Reign – to score the gutsiest of successes. Nine years later Butt combined with his brother, trainer Tim, aboard Mister D G, who defeated Mont Denver Gold by 1.3m. The siblings would win the race again five years later, this time with Mr Feelgood, kicking off a domination of the event with further wins in 2011 with Stunin Cullen, 2012 with Choise Achiever and last year with Mah Sish. The Butts are back this year with reigning champion Mah Sish shooting for back to back wins in the big race. And if his most recent win at Ballarat – he led all the way to take out The Pure Steel on Saturday night – is any indication, the brothers might be the toast of the town again. Another Land of the Long White Cloud Hunter Cup hopeful will be Christen Me from the Cran Dalgety yard, whose runner-up effort behind locally trained Restrepo in the Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup last weekend was enormous. With star Kiwi reinsman Dexter Dunn in the sulky, Christen Me looked home for all money before fast-finishing Restrepo nabbed him with a last-gasp lunge. Christen Me’s Australian record is first-class, with wins in the Hondo Grattan and Chariots Of Fire last year, followed by a second in the Miracle Mile behind Beautide and a third in the Victoria Cup before last Saturday’s Ballarat effort. One of the leading hometown hopes at Melton in the Hunter Cup will be Andy Gath-trained big-race specialist Caribbean Blaster. The son of Bettors Delight, who won the SA Cup earlier this month and last year captured the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup, is flying. Before his Globe Derby success he had run placings in the Victoria Cup and a free-for-all at Melton after an enormous fourth when he worked overtime in a top-quality Cranbourne Cup field. Another local aiming to keep the Hunter Cup in town will be 11-year-old marvel Smoken Up, one of Caribbean Blaster’s regular sparring partners. The Lance Justice trained-and-driven warhorse was winning races when a lot of his rivals weren’t even born, yet he is expected to line up in one of the few big races to elude him so far in a career that has netted 70 wins and over $3.5 million in prize money. Smoken Up found the lead at Ballarat before finishing fourth and being relegated to fifth on protest. He ran a head second to The Gold Ace in The Shepparton Cup off a 30m back mark, was second to Caribbean Blaster in a stirring finish to the Group 1 SA Cup, was second to Keayang Steamer in the Horsham Pacing Cup, won the Laser Electrical over Mah Sish at Melton in December, and ran fifth in last year’s Miracle Mile behind Beautide after a blistering victory in the Group 1 Cordina Sprint a week earlier. Up-and-comer Im Corzin Terror from the powerful Dean Braun stable has his eyes on the prize after running second to Mah Sish in The Pure Steel and might be the under-the-radar Hunter Cup chance. On January 11, Im Corzin Terror’s run to win the Bendigo Cup was sublime, coasting clear of his rivals for a 14.8m triumph. He’s got gears. New South Wales hot pot The Gold Ace got shuffled back early at Ballarat despite most punters assuming he’d find the lead. He’s much better than his sixth-place finish in that race suggests, with big wins in the Shepparton Cup, Cranbourne Cup and Kevin Newman Cup at Menangle at three of his previous four runs before Ballarat. Astute punters won’t be jumping off the Belinda McCarthy-trained star too quickly. And of course the honest Restrepo will take winning form into the race after the Emma Stewart-trained gun took out the Ballarat feature with superstar driver Gavin Lang aboard. Adding to the intrigue in the Hunter Cup is the fact the race is a stand-start event, with a key stipulation of entry into the event being that horses must have qualified for the race by starting in and beginning safely in a minimum of one stand-start race in the 12 months leading up to the event. The A.G. Hunter Cup will be the jewel on a big night of harness racing at Melton on Saturday night, with other highlights to include the Group 1 Chiko Australasian Trotting Championship, the Group 2 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship, the Group 3 Glenferrie Farm Melton Trotters Cup and the heats of the VHRSC Victoria Derby. NEED TO KNOW: - Free entry - Gates open from 5:30pm - Free Kids entertainment including Animal Farm, Jumping Castle, Face Painting, Sulky Trotting Carousel,    Giant Slide & Bungee Run - Music on the front lawn - On-course betting voucher promotions - After party in the Legends Bar from 10:30pm onwards - TAB Jackpot COURTESY BUS PICK-UP POINT: 4:30pm, Saturday 1 February Federation Square, Russell St extension (located at the back of Federation Square near carpark). Travelling to Tabcorp Park, arriving approximately 5:30pm. DEPARTS TABCORP PARK: At 11:00pm, travelling to Federation Square. To book call (03) 8746 0600 Ticket price -  $10 per person DINING OPTIONS There’s plenty of dining options available so be sure to book your spot today by calling (03) 8746 0631 Home Straight Restaurant - $65 per person 3 Course Buffet Cash Bar Facilities Racebook Dress Code – Smart Casual Toolern Room - $110 per person 3 Course Meal plus Beer Wine & Soft Drink Grandstand access Racebook Dress Code – Jacket & Tie Corporate Suites - $140 per person Accommodate between 20-30 guests Deluxe Canapes plus Beer, Wine & Soft Drink Racebooks Private Wait Staff Private balcony overlooking the Home Straight  TO BOOK CALL (03) 8746 0631 By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The Ballarat Trotting Club’s feature harness racing event for the season – the $175,00 (Group 1) Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup for M0 class over 2710 metres, was held at Bray Raceway in front of a enthusiastic crowd on Saturday January 25 – the victor being five year old Art Major / Shes Innocent entire Restrepo for Smythes Creek co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Favourite backers gasped with horror at the start when Keayang Cullen began with a wing on every foot from gate five to cross the heavily supported Cranbourne and Shepparton Cups winner The Gold Ace who tried to muster from the pole. Despite Luke McCarthy trying to came away from the inside to tackle the leader, Lance Justice drove tight with the crowd favourite Smoken Up (gate four) to hold him in a pocket, before crossing to take over entering the front straight on the first occasion. This shuffled The Gold Ace to three back the markers, with Abettorpunt after following The Gold Ace being relegated to five back along the markers. The race changed complexion two laps out with Caribbean Blaster coming away from the markers, as did The Gold Ace who moved to face the breeze, while Christen Me was also sent forward to park in the open along the back straight approaching the bell. Racing for the bell, it was Smoken Up leading from Keayang Cullen, Christen Me in the open being followed by Caribbean Blaster, with Abettorpund moving to three back on the inside. At this stage Gavin Lang eased Restrepo from mid-field in the running line to improve three wide. There was more drama approaching the home turn, when Smoken Up shifted away from the inside allowing Keayang Cullen to gain an inside run forcing Christen Me three wide and Restrepo four wide. Smoken Up then rolled back to the markers on the final bend checking Keayang Cullen, with Christen Me taking over and Restrepo giving chase, with both The Gold Ace and Caribbean Blaster revved up to make ground. Kicking clear on turning, Christen Me looked all over a winner, however a vigorous Gavin Lang hammered Restrepo to the wire, gaining the day in a thrilling finish by a half head from Christen Me, with Caribbean Blaster a half head away in third place. Smoken Up finished fourth with Keayang Cullen fifth and Abettorpunt again having no luck in finishing sixth. Following the race, a protest by Glen Craven (Keayang Cullen) against Smoken Up for interference on the home turn was upheld. With quarters of 29.5, 31.3, 28.2 and 28.1 for the last mile, Restrepo returned a mile rate of 1-56.8, taking .5 of a second off Stunin Cullen’s record set in 2011. Other highlights of the evening were The Pure Steel, a Discretionary Handicapped event for M0 class over 2710 metres and two heats of the Australasian Trotting Championship for TM0 or better class over the same distance. Last year’s A.G. Hunter Cup victor seven year old Mach Three / Dancing On Winds gelding Mah Sish showed he was on target again for next week’s big race when successful over Im Corzin Terror and Jadahson in 2-00.4, leading for the majority of the journey. Heat one of the Australasian Trotters Championship was taken out by six year old Earl / Cinders gelding I See Icy Earl for squaregaiting whiz Chris Lang and reinsman Greg Sugars. Given a sweet passage one/one for most of the journey, I See Icy Earl bloused the hot favourite Blitzthemcalder right on the wire by a nose in a tricky finish, with ever reliable mare Cold Sister third. The mile rate 2-03.4. Heat two went the way of David Aiken’s in-form Ken Warkentin / Kovel rig My High Expectation who blitzed his rivals after a slow beginning in a rate of 2-03.6, defeating the backmarker Mister Zion which raced outside him for the last half of the journey, with Empire Earl third. The $50,000 Final will be held at Melton next Saturday. Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

Never, ever write off Smoken Up. At 11 years of age, the marvellous son of Tinted Cloud boasts 70 wins from a 139-start harness racing career with stake money in excess of $3.5 million. Trained at Melton by Lance Justice, whose now retired superstar Sokyola put him on the map after moving to Melbourne several years ago, Smoken Up has showed no signs of slowing down in recent months. At Ballarat on Boxing Day, Smoken Up led all the way to defeat Mah Sish and Keayang Cullen in 1:53.1 before brave and narrow second-placed finishes in the Horsham Cup (behind Keayang Steamer), SA Cup (behind Caribbean Blaster) and Shepparton Gold Cup (behind The Gold Ace). At Shepparton he was the lone 30m back marker from the stand start but was in front of half the field after just a few hundred metres. While best known for his feats from behind the mobile, if he can bring his Shepparton form to the Hunter Cup Smoken Up will be up on the pace throughout after stepping away flawlessly. Come Hunter Cup night, Smoken Up will be one of the favourites with punters, which is amazing in itself given the horse way back in 2008 ran second in the race behind champion Blacks A Fake. All of his rivals from that era have long left the race track, but not Smoken Up. And who knows? His form this time in has to have the old boy a serious contender on February 1. SMOKEN UP Age: 11 Trainer: Lance Justice Driver: Lance Justice Biggest wins: SA Cup (four times), Len Smith Mile (four times), Victoria Cup, Miracle Mile (twice), Cordina Sprint. Best traits: Lightning quick and ability to fight back once headed. Can he win the Hunter Cup: Yes. Was beaten a head The Gold Ace off a 30m back mark at Shepparton from the stand-start. He’s racing in super form and with the right run in transit will take a lot of running down. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

New South Wales owner Rob Nalder has witnessed some fantastic moments in harness racing and Saturday night's South Australia Pacing Cup win by his star stallion Caribbean Blaster was right up there with the best. It was not just the result that Nalder enjoyed but the emotion and atmosphere of the evening that made it so special for him. "I've been to South Australia three times now for the Cup and there is just something unique about that race, it is the atmosphere, the crowd, the noise, it just has everything," Nalder said. "The event was built up so well, the South Australian people just love Smoken Up and to beat him in such an exciting finish was thrilling, you think you have him covered so many times in a race but in reality you never have him beaten, he is a great old warhorse and it is a pleasure to race against him." Caribbean Blaster will now be set for the Ballarat Cup before competing in the Hunter Cup. "They are the two races that he will head to before he has another crack at the Inter Dominion, the plan is to run him in the Victorian heat and hopefully qualify for the final." "Blaster's run in the 2013 Inter Dominion final was fantastic, I think outside Im Themightyquinn he was probably the run of the race, he got shuffled right back in the race, hit the line strongly and one thing you know is that our bloke loves a fight, I'm hoping he gets another chance." Nalder was full of praise for trainer Andy Gath after Caribbean Blaster's SA Cup win. "Andy and Kate Gath do a great job and I just love their passion for the industry but one thing I will never forget is straight after the win Andy jumped onto the track and went straight over to shake Lance Justice's hand." "It is the first time I have owned a million dollar earner as well, so that's pretty special too." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Horsham Cup day is this Sunday and it looks set to be a sensational afternoon of harness racing action and entertainment.  With a temperature of 23 degrees forecast, an outstanding racing program, along with plenty of on course entertainment provided by the club, there is something for everyone. The Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup (Group 2) will be the highlight of a fantastic program, with Australian pacing superstar and three-time millionaire Smoken Up taking his place in the field.  Coming off an incredible last start victory in the Laser Electrical Lightning Mile (Group 3), in which he earned a $10,000 bonus for breaking the track record in a mile rate of 1:53.1. ‘Trigger’ will be primed and ready for action and trainer/driver Lance Justice certainly won’t die wondering when he lays his cards on the table. His rivals will not be making it easy for the champ however, with the Tim Butt trained 2013 Del Re National Food Group A G Hunter Cup (Group 1) hero Mah Sish taking his place from pole position. Mah Sish showed he was back to his best with a great effort behind Smoken Up at Ballarat on Boxing night. Driver Anthony Butt certainly won’t be handing things to Smoken Up & Lance Justice on a platter – the wily Kiwi’s know they too have a gun racehorse and have their eyes  firmly planted on the hefty winner’s cheque and glittering gold Cup. Apart from last season’s Hunter Cup victory, Mah Sish won a heat of the Inter in Sydney, finished 2nd behind Im Themightyquinn in the Final, downed Sushi Sushi in the Ballarat Pacing Cup and got within a length of Caribbean Blaster in the Victoria Cup – enough said. Our main local hope, Abettorpunt, was bred by the Lewis family - Terry is Vice President and Life Member of the Horsham Club. “Our draw could have been kinder but you take what you get” Terry explained.  “We’re hoping for some fireworks early from Mah Sish, Smoken Up and maybe Keayang Steamer. Punter’s work this week has been as good as its ever been and we’re expecting him to run a big race.” Abettorpunt is ready to take the next step into the big time. A quick look at the form guide shows his outstanding record of 21 wins, 19 minors & $306,000 from just 51 starts. Punter’s recent form of a 2nd to Beautide in the Newcastle Mile, 3rd behind Smoken Up in the Cordina Sprint, 2nd to The Gold Ace at Menangle and a victory at Melton prior to Xmas are credentials enough to win on Sunday. The all-conquering Dean Braun – Chris Alford team could well have the Cup wildcard on Sunday with the former Kiwi pacer Im Corzin Terror. Solid recent performances in the Cranbourne Cup, Yarra Valley Cup and Tasmania Cup entitle the 6yo gelding to our utmost respect. HORSHAM IS HOT TO TROT SUNDAY ! By Lucy McCormick (HRV) & Tony Logan  

There isn’t any trot racing on Christmas Day so enjoy the turkey and pudding but be warned: things will not be starting off slowly at Ballarat’s Boxing Day night meeting. The highlight of the night’s racing is the $30,000 Laser Electrical Lightning Mile (Group Three). A sensational field will assemble for the race, which carries two separate $10,000 bonuses – one if any horse can break the Ballarat record mile rate of 1:53.7 set by Saab Quality, and another if any horse is able to eclipse the Victorian record mile rate of 1:51.1 set by the champion Smoken Up.  ‘Trigger’ is not going to miss out on a crack at his own record, although he’ll have to be quick out of gate seven. Following a comfortable trial win on Monday, zipping home in a last quarter of 26.9 seconds, Lance Justice’s gelding will be primed and ready for battle once more. Racing off the pole is the Emma Stewart trained warrior Restrepo.  A winner of almost $320,000 in career prize money, the Group One winning entire will be hoping to take advantage of the favourable draw. The racing talent is not restricted to two horses, however.  The race consists of a field of quality horses (special conditions allow all eight runners to start from the front line).  Lining up for his forty-seventh start is Del-Re Hunter Cup champion and last years Ballarat Cup winner Mah Sish.  Also in the field is the locally trained last start Yarra Valley Cup winner Savesomtimetodream.  Add the Marg Lee trained Victorian Sires Classic winner Keayang Cullen and last start Melton winner National Service and you have a mouth-watering clash to look forward to. The Lightning Mile is not the only race to entertain those unwinding in the holiday period. The $10,500 VHRSC Snowball Series Final will be run at Ballarat, and Clancys Fobwatch from the Sugars stable is unbeaten this from four runs this season since joining the Hopetoun Park crew.  The four-year-old gelding is looking to make it five from five in the third leg of the quaddie. So if you’re looking for some post Christmas cheer, head out to Bray Raceway for some first class racing action – first race is scheduled for 6:25pm. by Lucy McCormick  

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