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One of South Australia’s finest harness racing drivers Mark Billinger is back and ready to go after several years away from the sport. “I got an enforced holiday— but I’ve done the time and now I’m looking to moving forward with unbelievable enthusiasm,” Billinger said. “When I got rubbed out and decided to leave Australia, I was running a tourist operation overseas – and I actually told my friends that I doubted if I’d ever return,” he said. “But things change in life. I was operating a glass-bottom tourist boat in Thailand with some others and thoroughly enjoyed it for the first 12 months. Then I started watching harness racing and other sport televised from back home, like AFL footy, and my interest was re-kindled. “I’m a passionate Adelaide Crows supporter and was watching them at sports bars. The harness racing just sort of followed along, and I was surprised how I regained my passion for it.” Billinger formed a formidable team with his late father Val, a highly respected conditioner and trainer of many top line pacers. The leading freelance reinsman last competed on a racetrack in late January of 2017. He left the sport on a winning note, landing four winners for the weekend. “I’ve been doing some stablehand duties and driving at the trials. I feel like a teenager again. I’ve definitely hit the re-start button,” Billinger said. “Before my dad died, he told me that I’d be back at the track again one day and I guess they do say that once harness racing is in your blood, it stays there,” he laughed. Mark Billinger spent his time away from the sport running a tourist boat operation with business partners in Thailand “I’ve put the word out to trainers that I’m prepared to travel anywhere. Hopefully South Australian trainers will use my services, and I’m also really keen to drive at Mildura and Mt Gambier meetings.” Billinger had a deserved reputation of being able to get the best out of his charges. He was a brilliant front-running reinsman and was held in high regard by his fellow drivers. He has recently been re-honing his skills by helping Peter and Aaron Bain, and doing some trials driving for his brother Darren, Paul Cavallaro and others. “I’ve found that the main thing was to regain that feel of speed. I’m confident that I’m okay in that department,” Billinger said. “Work-wise, I’m retired now, but getting back with the horses has given me something to focus on. You know, I use to laugh when friends said as you get older, you need a reason to get out of bed, but it’s so true. “The whole thing is being driven by my love of the sport and I really can’t wait.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness Racing South Australia Stewards today conducted a hearing into an adverse test result returned by RAP ARTIST following a pre-race urine test taken from the gelding on Saturday 7th January 2017. The particulars being that the sample taken from RAP ARTIST was shown to contain Cobalt at a mass concentration greater than the permissible tolerance. Mr Billinger admitted a breach of Rule (AHHR) 190(1) which states “A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances” After considering submissions on penalty put to the Stewards by Mr Billinger’s advocate, Mr R Fewings, and after having regard to all other factors, including that this was Mr Billinger’s second breach of the presentation rule, the finding was that Mr Billinger be disqualified for a period of eighteen (18) months and that, following the expiration of his disqualification, he be prohibited from holding a trainer’s licence for a further eighteen months.  Acting under the provisions of AHRR 195, RAP ARTIST was disqualified from second placing in Race 6 at Globe Derby on 7th January 2017 and Stewards directed that the placing’s be amended accordingly. Ross Neal Chairman of Stewards HARNESS RACING SOUTH AUSTRALIA

On Wednesday 1 February 2017 Harness Racing South Australia (HRSA) Stewards suspended the trainers licence of Mark Billinger pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 183. HRSA has taken this measure to protect the integrity of the industry following advice from Racing Analytical Services Ltd that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a urine sample taken from RAP ARTIST prior to its second placing in the Just Wrecking Toyotas Pace Final at Globe Derby on 7 January 2017. The ‘B’ sample has been sent to the Racing Chemistry Laboratory in Western Australia for confirmatory testing. In making this decision, HRSA Stewards have considered all relevant information including any submissions provided by Mr Billinger as to why Rule 183 should not be invoked. Stewards also took into account the following factors: that a Certificate has been issued by an approved drug testing laboratory confirming Cobalt above the threshold had been detected the level of the reading relative to the threshold the nature of the substance the absolute nature of prohibited substance offences the obligation of HRSA to protect the integrity of the harness racing industry. Mr Billinger has not been charged with any breach of the Rules and has been advised of his appeal rights against this stand down. Stewards have commenced an investigation into this matter and an inquiry will be scheduled in due course. Barbara Scott Chair of Stewards ............................................................................   On Wednesday 1 February 2017 Harness Racing SA (HRSA) Stewards suspended the trainers licence of Nick Tardio pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 183. HRSA has taken this measure to protect the integrity of the industry following advice from Racing Analytical Services Ltd that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a urine sample taken from GENUINE EXCUSE prior to its seventh placing in Race 9, Farewell Come On Frank Pace at Globe Derby on 7 January 2017. The ‘B’ sample has been sent to the Racing Chemistry Laboratory in Western Australia for confirmatory testing. In making this decision, HRSA Stewards have considered all relevant information including any submissions provided by Mr Tardio as to why Rule 183 should not be invoked. Stewards also took into account the following factors: that a Certificate has been issued by an approved drug testing laboratory confirming Cobalt above the threshold had been detected the level of the reading relative to the threshold the nature of the substance the absolute nature of prohibited substance offences the obligation of HRSA to protect the integrity of the harness racing industry. Mr Tardio has not been charged with any breach of the Rules and has been advised of his appeal rights against this stand down. Stewards have commenced an investigation into this matter and an inquiry will be scheduled in due course Barbara Scott Chair of Stewards

Harness racing owners-breeders Des and Lyn Farrow were delighted that Moonlite Frolic was able to break through at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night. The win kept alive the fact that all foals from the family of his former champion filly No Frolicking have been able to win a race. Backed from $7 into $3.30, Moonlite Frolic, driven by Mark Billinger, took an early trail behind Rowan Rosie before coming off her back around the home turn then sprinting to a one metre victory in the Lion Dairy & Drinks Pace (2230m). Rowan Rosie ($8.50) held on for second, 6-1/2 metres in front of Murdocks River ($54.60). “The family has had 125 wins,” Des Farrow said. “We bred Moonlite Frolic out of our mare Evening Frolic and because I was cutting back on training, leased the filly out to Stephen Grace. “When the lease ran out we decided to put her up for sale but she didn’t attract a bid.” Lyn Farrow said it was at this point she spoke up. “I said to Des to put her back in work himself to keep him active – it was a no discussion situation,” Lyn said. It was a lifestyle decision because the Farrows have been hobby breeder-owner-trainers for several decades but the mare’s win on Saturday was their first for more than two years, the last being the ill-fated King Roman who scored on debut in January, 2015. Moonlite Frolic was having her fifth start for the Farrows on Saturday night. Trainer-driver Peter Borrelli was keen to lead from gate three on Rowan Rosie and once in front set a pedestrian speed with 33.8 and 32.2 first quarters before stepping up to 29.5 but Moonlite Frolic was able to sprint home in 28.3 and claim victory. The Farrows have had wonderful success stemming from their champion mare No Frolicking which won the 1996 SA Derby and SA Oaks and also ran third in the Victoria Oaks. She had six foals to race and all were winners and the females of the family have bred on producing winners. Farrow said he had two filly foals coming through to keep the family going. They are out of the mare Frolicwithasmile, a daughter of No Frolicking. Graham Fischer

Harness Racing South Australia (HRSA) Stewards today conducted an inquiry into a report received from Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) that Cobalt was detected in a urine sample taken from RAP ARTIST prior to it competing in Race 3, 2016 Sky Racing 3YO Colts & Geldings Southern Cross Final at Globe Derby on 30 July 2016. Evidence was taken from trainer Mark Billinger regarding his feeding and treatment regime and he provided his Log Book of Treatments to support this.  Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Roger Haensel and Mr Paul Zahra Scientific Manager from RASL also gave evidence. The evidence included two evidentiary certificates reporting the cobalt level for the ‘A’ sample of 215 micrograms per litre (measurement uncertainty of 10) and for the ‘B’ sample 220 micrograms per litre (measurement uncertainty of 20).  Further evidence provided by Dr. Haensel was that cobalt affects various body systems of a horse including the blood system and endocrine system and therefore is considered a prohibited substance.  The evidence of Mr Zahra from RASL was that the odds of the ‘B’ sample being 200 micrograms or below, was less than 1 in 333 and that there was a confidence level of greater than 99.7% that the ‘B’ sample was over the threshold. Mr Billinger was found guilty of charges under Rules 190(1), 190(2) and 190(4) in that he presented RAP ARTIST to race at Globe Derby on 30 July 2016 not free of a prohibited substance.  Stewards relied on Rule 191(6) which allows Stewards to establish in other ways (and not just the evidentiary certificates) that a horse was presented to race not free of a prohibited substance. In determining penalty, Stewards took into account: the not guilty plea the length of time Mr Billinger has been involved in training horses the penalties applied in other Cobalt cases in SA and other States the status of the race in that it was a Group race that created  interest and the subsequent negative perceptions when the winner returns a positive swab. Mr Billinger was disqualified for 3 years effective immediately and ordered to pay $1500 to HRSA to cover costs incurred including analytical testing. Acting under Rule 195 RAP ARTIST was disqualified from its first placing and all placings amended accordingly.  Barbara Scott CHAIR OF STEWARDS

Harness Racing South Australia Stewards have received a report from Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a pre-race urine sample taken from PENNY SNATCHER prior to Race 3 at Globe Derby Park on 8 August 2016. The ‘B’ sample has been confirmed by Chemcentre in Western Australia. Under rule 183 (a) PENNY SNATCHER has been stood down. Prior to invoking Rule 183 Stewards considered all available evidence including: • that two Certificates have been issued by approved drug testing laboratories confirming Cobalt has been detected above the threshold; • the level of the readings relative to the threshold; • the nature of the prohibited substance; and • the absolute nature of prohibited substance offences. Trainer Scott Garroway has been advised that he will be required to attend an inquiry on Monday 17 October 2016. ................................................ Harness Racing SA Stewards have received a report from Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a pre-race urine sample taken from RAP ARTIST prior to Race 3 at Globe Derby on 30 July 2016. The ‘B’ sample has been confirmed by Chemcentre in Western Australia. Under rule 183 (a) RAP ARIST has been stood down. Prior to invoking Rule 183 Stewards considered all available evidence including: • that two Certificates have been issued by approved drug testing laboratories confirming Cobalt has been detected above the threshold; • the level of the readings relative to the threshold; • the nature of the prohibited substance; and • the absolute nature of prohibited substance offences. Trainer Mark Billinger has been advised that he will be required to attend an inquiry which will be convened at a time and date to be fixed. by the Office of the Chief Executive Officer: John Lewis    

Harness Racing South Australian Stewards have received notification from Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) that Cobalt has been detected in the pre-race urine sample taken from RAP ARTIST prior to it competing in, and winning Race 3 the 2016 Sky Racing 3YO Colts & Geldings Southern Cross (Final) at Globe Derby on 30 July 2016.  Trainer Mark Billinger has been notified of the irregularity. The ‘B’ sample has been sent to the Racing Chemistry Laboratory for confirmatory analysis. Acting under Rule 183A RAP ARTIST is not permitted to be nominated for, or compete in any race until the outcome of the inquiry by the Stewards into the swab irregularity.   by Chair of Stewards, Barbara Scott

One of Australia’s top three-year-old fillies Rocknroll Magic looks to have a stranglehold on the Sky Racing Southern Cross harness racing three-year-old fillies final (2230m) this Saturday night at Globe Derby Park. The Emma Stewart-trained filly won the two-year-old Southern Cross final at Port Pirie last year and will be at a prohibitive quote to repeat the victory in this season’s three-year-old version at Globe Derby Park. A money-back $1 favourite, Rocknroll Magic, driven by Mark Billinger, had no trouble leading from gate one and set a pedestrian 33.0 first quarter before stepping it up with 31.3, 29.1 then a sizzling 27.9 to dash away and scored by 9-1/2 metres from Swaffham Water ($41.10) and Queen of Sharkz ($12) a metre away third. Managing part-owner Bruce Cameron said he was pleased the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven had an easy run recording a mile rate of 2.01.9. “She has had a big campaign and still has the Breeders Crown to come,” Cameron said. “Mark drove her beautifully and all is on track for this week’s final.” Billinger said Rocknroll Magic was a wonderful filly to drive. “She is running good sectionals, then you hardly breathe and she peels off a 27 quarter,” Billinger said. “There is no doubting her quality.” While Rocknroll Magic appears to have a mortgage on the final, the second semi-final on Saturday night produced a great story. Trainer-driver Ryan Hryhorec purchased the filly Lily Thesinger for just $2500 and in three starts for the stable the filly has already picked up nearly $10,000. “When I bought her I was thinking we would try to pick up a Vicbred bonus to cover the cost,” Hryhorec said. “I didn’t really plan to run her in the Southern Cross but one of the new owners said why not so I threw her in.” Lily Thesinger won her heat the previous Saturday night, then on Saturday, was a $5.50 chance from gate four but began quickly and Hryhorec took her to the front. Just Wantano ($3 into $1.80 favourite), driven by Dani Hill, came across strongly from gate five and really kept the pressure on and after as 31.8 first quarter stepped up for a 29.9 and 28.1 second and third quarters before coming home in 29.2. Lily Thesinger answered the challenge and drew away in the home straight to score by 1-/2 metres from Morning Stories ($18.40) and Just Wantano fading to be 5-1.2 metres away third. “She really has surprised me,” Hryhorec said. “I never expected her to be doing this, she has just kept improving.” by Graham Fischer Race programme for Globe Derby Park, Saturday 30 July 2016

The Emma Stewart-trained Our Celebrity was back on her best behavior winning the Sky Racing Southern Cross semi-final for harness racing two-year-old fillies over 1800 metres at Globe Derby Park. Such has been the attrition race of eligible two-year-old fillies, the semi-final was actually a prelude with the same field able to compete in this week’s final. In her heat, on a stormy night, Our Celebrity was upset by both the weather and a false start then subsequently over-raced and faded to finish fourth behind the Ray Holberton-trained Ellen Louise. On Saturday night, Our Celebrity (Mach Three), the $1.60 favourite, came out quickly from gate three and was taken to the front by Mark Billinger and given a very easy first quarter of 32.6 then stepped it up coming home in 30.5, 29.4 and 28.4 making it impossible for her rivals to catch her. Miss Mappinga, backed from $5.50 into $3.30, sat behind the favourite but couldn’t match her and was beaten 7-1/2 metres with Acacia Avenue ($21.80) three metres away third. While the winner was never troubled, Acacia Avenue, trained and driven by David Jack, ran well and unleashed a powerful sprint coming off the back after being hampered and losing valuable ground going into the back straight. Ellen Louise finished fourth and also came home nicely but was well beaten finishing 29 metres behind the winner. Bruce Cameron, managing part-owner of Our Celebrity, said he was relieved the see the filly back in form. “I think it was a combination of things last time, and she was an inexperienced two-year-old filly away from home,” Cameron said. “Emma said she settled in really well when she went home so we made the decision to come back and tonight showed she is back on song.” On Saturday night’s race, Our Celebrity will be at a short quote to take off this week’s final. by Graham Fischer Race programme for Globe Derby Park, Saturday 30 July 2016

Words can’t adequately describe the emotion surrounding the harness racing win of Rap Artist in the Globe Derby Paceway Restaurant Pace (1800m) at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night. Rap Artist is part-owned-trained and driven by Mark Billinger who tragically lost his ‘best mate’, dad Val, just over a week before the race. Val Billinger was a longtime harness racing trainer, and although in retirement in recent years, was a virtual training partner with Mark and the pair were inseparable when Rap Artist was either being worked or taken to the races. Saturday night was the first race for the star three-year-old since Val’s passing and despite friends and family helping with the gearing up of the gelding, Val’s absence was on everyone’s mind. The race was also one where all drivers wore black armbands to recognize Val’s passing. Like a true professional, on the racetrack, Mark did his job. He worked Rap Artist ($1.30 fav) to the front from gate four and set comfortable quarters of 31.2 and 31.0 before stepping up the tempo coming home in 27.8 and 29.0 for an easy 5-1/2 metre win from Thelonghaul ($43.20) with Billy Mack ($38.70) two metres away third. In a sign of emotion, Billinger simply had his whip pointed to the sky passing the post to salute his dad. Back in the stables when it came time to unharness Rap Artist, Billinger, despite the assistance of family and friends, was visibly upset for a short time before regaining composure. Later, Billinger said he was delighted with the win of the three-year-old. “His main aim this preparation has been the Southern Cross series and I thought tonight was a perfect run to lead into the semi-finals,” Billinger said. by Graham Fischer

Top South Australian Harness Racing reinsman Mark Billinger has picked up the drive on the Emma Stewart-trained Stay And Play in Saturday night’s Group 1 $115,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Four-Year-Old Mares final (2240m) at Melton. Stewart has an incredible five of 12 qualified runners in the final and sought Billinger because of his successful association with her runners when they come to South Australia for the Southern Cross series. It is likely a number of her runners during Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred finals will head to South Australia for the Southern Cross heats next week because many have a South Australian ownership group. In fact, Adelaide-based syndicator and owner Bruce Cameron has six horses in Saturday night’s Melton finals, all with South Australians in the ownership. In the mares final he has Starburst Girl to be driven by Mark Pitt, Lovelist with Greg Sugars in the sulky, and Stay And Play with Billinger aboard. In the three-year-old fillies he has Celebrity Guest (Mark Pitt) and the outstanding Rocknroll Magic, to be driven by Gavin Lang. Our Celebrity (Chris Alford) is the Cameron runner in the two-year-old fillies final. Billinger said he was honoured to be asked to drive Stay And Play. “It will be tremendous to be driving in a Group 1 race, and actually I have picked up the drive on Just Wantano for Kevin Brough in the Three-Year-Old Fillies final,” Billinger said. “I know the stable think Stay And Play can be really competitive despite coming from gate 11. “In her semi-final win last week she ran several best sectionals of the night so with the pace on maybe she take holding out but obviously I will need a lot of luck.” Billinger said he was due to drive Majestic Lustre and his own horse Rap Artist on Saturday night at Globe Derby Park. “When the offer came to drive in the Group 1 I accepted the opportunity and elected to run Rap Artist on Monday.” It is not Billinger’s first drive in the Vicbred finals as he previously had Aspiring Artist running eighth in the 2012 two-year-old final at Melton, and finishing ninth on Mighty Aslan in the 2004 Entires & Geldings final at Moonee Valley. He also won a heat at Bendigo then a Listed Classic semi-final of the 2008 series at Moonee Valley with Saved A Corka before finishing fifth in the final. Graham Fischer

Successful South Australian Harness Racing reinsman Mark Billinger achieved a career-best five wins on SA BOTRA finals night at Globe Derby Park on Saturday. Billinger, 44, landed his own Rap Artist and the Emma Stewart-trained pair of Our Celebrity and Rocknroll Magic in BOTRA finals along with Stewart’s Metro Mike in the Dash For Cash and Top Of The Rock for good friend Reg Trevean. “No doubt, it was a great thrill,” Billinger said. “Heading into the meeting, with no bad luck, I thought had four good winning chances – Top Of The Rock was the bonus.” “I had driven four winners four times previously but this was my first five. “I am lucky to have been able to pick up drives for top trainers. “With Emma asking me to drive her horses in South Australia lately I have picked up some really good drives and I am happy to help out if Gavin (Lang) opts not to come to Adelaide.” Billinger currently sits fourth on the South Australian Drivers Premiership with 53 winners and last year celebrated driving his 1000th career win. Graham Fischer

One of South Australia’s in-form pacers Majestic Lustre is on the market. Trainer Aaron Brown said the winning seven-year-old had a price tag of $25,000. “I don’t really want to lose him but George (owner George Montebello) has a lot of horses coming through and he is a seller,” Brown said. Majestic Lustre won his third straight race at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night with a dominant victory in the Trotsguide.Com.Au Pace final (1800m). Sent out a backable $1.80 favourite, Majestic Lustre, driven by Mark Billinger, went forward from barrier seven at gate release to sit outside the leader Arambi Star where he was able to control the race. With two 28.7 final quarters, Majestic Lustre was able to win the final by one metre from The Storm Chief ($16.70) with Whata Escape ($90.80) seven metres away third. In winning he rated 1:57:8. “Early on we were a bit quiet going forward from the 1800 metre mobile start because he had galloped and also not been comfortable going into the turn,” Brown said. “But on Saturday night we felt it we balanced up early and then went forward other drivers might opt to trap him three wide so we decided to gamble and press forward quickly to get to outside the leader sooner rather than later. “He is a more settled pacer now so we felt it would be okay and so it proved.” The win took Majestic Lustre’s stake earnings to $49,811, about $15,000 of which has been boosted over the past two months with three finals wins at Globe Derby. The gelding has won five of his last six starts and nine of his last 14 since coming across from New South Wales. He has impressed driver Mark Billinger. “He can keep winning here, even in better classes,” Billinger said. “He is running times which mean he has to be able to prove competitive in stronger fields.” Brown agrees but said he would give Majestic Lustre a freshen up. “He has had a tough campaign so I might ease him then bring him back for the stand start cup races next year because he has an excellent record from the stands.” Graham Fischer

The $60,000 Southern Cross Finals for harness racing three year olds were held at Port Pirie last night and both the Colts/geldings and fillies divisions fell to warm favourites. Three year old colts/geldings Final Hez The One was a dominant favourite here even though he was poorly drawn at one on the second line. The well supported Blurred Lines with Mark Billinger in the bike grabbed the early lead from barrier five from another well supported runner in Officianado who settled into the trail. Danni Hill had Hez The One off the inside not long after the start but the son of Jeremes Jet settled a fair way back in the running line. Billinger was able to get away with a couple of cheap quarters in front which forced Danni to bring Hez The One forward three wide with just over a lap to go. The speed really went on from the 800 metres with the quarter down the back in 27.2 and Blurred Lines was the first to surrender passing the 500 metres mark. Danni shot Hez The One clear and he comfortably held them off for an impressive win. Officianado just as comfortably held second with Hit Maka battling on well for third. Hez The One paced the 2050 metres in 2:35.2, a mile rate of 2:01.9 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 30.4. It was the 14th win from just 23 starts for the Rebecca East trained colt and took his earnings over the $120,000 mark Three year old fillies final On paper this looked a bit like an Emma Stewart benefit and that is exactly how it turned out. Even though she drew one second line, Lovelist was a pronounced favourite while Starburst Girl the stablemate was the second favourite. The one filly that could have possibly upset the Emma Stewart pair in Whats Emma Got, blew any winning chance she had when she galloped early when being rushed off the gate. Mark Billinger worked Lovelist off the inside early in the race and grabbed the lead after 500 metres. Starburst Girl in the hands of Anthony Butt worked hard for the first 600 metres from her wide second line draw before finding the death seat outside Lovelist.  Mark Billinger was in no real hurry in front, before upping the tempo passing the 800 metres mark. At that point Danni Hill sent Whats Emma Got forward but she was posted three wide when the speed went on and was having trouble hanging on to the Stewart pair passing the 400 metres. Lovelist opened up a handy break turning in and although Starburst Girl kept coming she never looked a serious winning threat. Whats Emma Got showed real tenacity to keep going and hold third after such a hard run.  Lovelist paced the 2050 metres in 2:33.1, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with smart closing sectionals of 56.5 and 28. It was the 13th win from just 24 starts for the daughter of Always A Virgin and took her earnings over the $130,000 mark. It was a night to remember for Mark Billinger who drove the winners of three of the four $60,000 finals on offer. Harnesslink Media  

Last night Port Pirie stepped onto harness racing's big stage when it hosted this years finals of the $60,000 Southern Cross series. The two year old finals were like chalk and cheese with the fillies looking a one horse race while the colts and gelding section looked a lot more even. South Australian reinsman Mark Billinger was the star of the show winning both two year old finals Two year old colt/geldings final  The two best horses here on paper both drew poorly and as a result the race was thrown wide open. The Art Major gelding Rap Artist drew three on the second line while the Mach Three gelding  Presidentmach drew five on the second line which really evened up the contest. The Big Show from barrier three lead early while trainer / driver Mark Billinger followed him through from the second line with Rap Artist but was left parked out three wide for over 600 metres before finding the death seat. Danni Hill settled Presidentmach back early but took off three wide with a lap to go and ranged up outside the leaders at the 400 metres mark. As they turned for home The Big Show still had the front but was grabbed by a very game Rap Artist 50 metres out who then just held off an equally game Presidentmach who just kept coming. To make it more interesting, Jumping Jolt flashed late for a very close third just in front of The Big Show who battled on gamely. The mile was cut out in 1:58.3 with closing sectionals of 59.2 and 30.1. It was a great race with the first two home putting up huge efforts. Two year old fillies final On paper this looked a one horse affair and thats how it panned out. The Rock N Roll Heaven filly Rocknroll Magic from the Emma Stewart barn drew beautifully at barrier three and driver Mark Billinger let her work to the front under her own steam after 300 metres and from there it was a one horse show. Given her head by Mark at the 500 metres mark, Rocnkroll Magic raced away and won easing down by a huge 23 metres. The Rocknroll Hanover filly Rockfromcork ran home well along the inner for second in front of the Union Guy filly, Little Miss Piggy who battled on for third but the winner was in a class of her own She paced the mile in a smart 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 57.4 and 29.1 and won with a lot in hand. The task of Rocknroll Magic was made a touch easier when stablemate and second favourite Celebrity Guest was involved in an early skirmish which extinguished her chances. Rocknroll Magic has now won eight from eleven in her debut season and looks a filly of the highest class. Harnesslink Media  

A three-year-old harness racing fillies’ Southern Cross semi-final produced a race that will remain in the memories of patrons and punters for an eternity. Victorian Lovelist, trained by Emma Stewart, was a $1.30 favourite in the first semi-final with South Australia’s star Whats Emma Got ($3.90) the only other runner considered a hope. Danielle Hill, on Whats Emma Got, was determined to lead from gate three and found the front but Mark Billinger, on Lovelist from gate five was quickly alongside and the pair simply ‘went for it’ for the entire 2230 metres. Hill believed her chance of beating the favourite was to lead, and Billinger knew that he couldn’t just sit parked and hoped to outsprint the SA star- so it was on. The first two quarters were identical 29.7, then the ante was upped again with a 29.5 third. The pair were side-by-side, with everyone waiting to see which filly would crack, and neither did. Picking the winner was impossible as first one, then the other, looked to be gaining a narrow advantage. Like two prize fighters, both Lovelist and Whats Emma Got were out on their feet up the home straight and came home in 33 – but were still side by side. In the shadows of the post Whats Emma Got looked to have a narrow advantage but right on the line Lovelist gave a final burst to score by a half head. Third placegetter Call Her Julie was 68.5 metres away third! Syndicate manager Bruce Cameron was in awe of both fillies. “What a race,” he said. “It was great to win but what a wonderful filly is the runner-up." “Lovelist knows she has had a race." “Mark (Billinger) said he thought he would have to be outside the leader and said he would put the pressure on because it would be near impossible to outsprint her after a comfortable lead – but I didn’t expect such a great match race.” The second semi-final saw another winner for trainer Emma Stewart with Starburst Girl, another Cameron syndicated filly, also a $1 favourite leading throughout to score a 12 metre win. She scored from Your Place or Mine ($26) with Linvel Ann ($13.60) four metres away third. This time driver Mark Billinger was able to cruise early with a 31.6 first quarter, then steadily increase the tempo with 30.5, 29.2 and 28.6 sections to win easily. For all the obvious quality of Starburst Girl, her effort was mundane after the first semi-final. But what it does is set the stage for an exciting final. Graham Fischer

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