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Matthew Williamson allowed himself the moment most young New Zealand representatives surely take on Sunday night. He unpacked his flash new driving colours, the black ones with the silver fern, tried them on and checked out how he looked in the mirror. "It was a bit surreal to be honest, it definitely made me puff the chest out," says Williamson. On Friday, the Oamaru horseman will wear those colours for real but on the other side of the globe in harness racing's World Driver's Championships in Sweden. Harness racing drivers' championships are a curious beast because the best driver could draw the worst horses in the ballot and finish last. And vice versa. But New Zealand drivers have a disproportionately high success rate, with six individual champions in the 29 series that have been contested: Dexter Dunn, Mark Jones, Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy, Robert Cameron and the late Kevin Holmes. The Kiwi success rate can, at least partially, be put down to our drivers being among the most versatile in the world. After all, they drive horses on left and right-handed tracks, in stand and mobile starts, on grass, grit and clay tracks, over a wide range of distances. And of course, they drive both trotters and pacers. That would sum up 28-year-old Williamson, having cut his teeth in the sometimes rustic scene of the deep south before becoming a regular near the top of the national premiership. He leaves tomorrow for the champs which begin on Friday and continue for a week, even driving on the first day of the famous Elitlopp meeting in Stockholm on Saturday. "It is getting real now, it was after I put the colours on Sunday night," says Williamson. "I think a lot of kids grow up hoping they get to wear the silver fern so that is pretty amazing." Williamson made a sacrifice for that privilege, giving up driving at the Jewels at Addington on June 1. "It probably means missing three Jewels drives but I am thrilled to be going." And Williamson is the man for the job because Swedish harness racing is all trotting, with no pacers, and Williamson is from trotting royalty. His father Phil holds the record for the most trotting winners trained in a season in New Zealand and his brothers Nathan and Brad are also top drivers. Remarkably, the quartet drove the first four home in a trotting race at Gore on Saturday. Of Matthew's 780 career successes in New Zealand, 280 have been in trotting races, an extremely high percentage for a leading driver. So while Williamson is going to Sweden to try to win, he is also going there to learn. "It sounds like we will be going to some of the stables over there ... I can't wait to see how they do things with the trotters," he admits. "So while the driving comes first I will be asking their trainers plenty of questions to learn as much as I can and see what I can bring home." Even if he can wear the silver fern to WDC glory, Williamson has an even more important moment waiting for him upon his return. His fiancee, talented reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, is expecting the couple's first child on June 10. "So I am hoping the baby can hold on till I get back."   Michael Guerin

IT’S that time of year again. Aussie trainers are starting to cast their mind towards possible NZ Harness Jewels raids. And leading the way is Australia’s exciting three-year-old Lochinvar Art and trained Laura Crossland. “We’re very keen,” she said. “He’s had no luck with draws all season and kept running big races.” Lochinvar Art followed a third in the Victoria Derby with a third in the NSW Derby. Both from awful barriers. “We’ve spoken with Darrin Williams and said how much we’d love the Aussie invite,” Crossland added. Kiwi trainer Mark Jones and his Aussie partner, Aaron Goadsby, are just as keen to get an Aussie invite with their juvenile filly Lulu Le Mans, who followed a third against the boys in the Sapling Stakes with a second in the Pink Bonnet last Saturday night. “She’s the right sort of filly and not really paid-up for anything else,” Goadsby said. “Ideally we’d get the invite early, take her to Auckland and race her in the Aussies colours in the lead-up races.” Powerhouse trotting team Yabby Dams is considering four-year-old Amour De Frere for the Jewels. Trainer Anton Golino said she was the right sort of mare with similar speed to stablemate Dance Craze, who finished a luckless third in last year’s Jewels 4YO mares’ trot. She went on to win the Group 1 Great Southern Star a few weeks back. “Amour De Frere would be ideal if I can get her spot on, which can be a challenge. We’re definitely looking at it,” Golino said. Amour De Frere made it seven wins from just 18 starts when she led throughout to win the Group 2 Breed For Speed Silver final at Melton in a slick 1min57.5sec mile rate for 1720m last Saturday night.   Adam Hamilton

The first siring winner by three-time New Zealand Cup champion, Terror To Love, will contest the Paleface Adios 2yo Wayne Wilson Pace at Albion Park on July 6. The Mark Jones trained Millwood Tilly was Terror To Love's first triumph in a $6,000 two-year-old pace at Newcastle on February 23. That was the bay filly's debut run. She then finished fourth in the Group Two $50,000 Sapling Stakes at Tabcorp Menangle last Saturday (March 2). Millwood Tilly is owned by Tony and Karen Turpin of Haigslea, their daughter Chantal, and Denis Golinski. The same owners also own the closely related Rob Roy Mattgregor gelding, Mattgregor, who has won 16 of his 38 starts and $141,374. In human terms they are cousins. Millwood Tilly's dam (Miss Sunshine) and Mattgregor's dam (Albuquerque) are both out of the 2000 Albert Albert six-win New Zealand mare, Princess Alberta. Princess Alberta also left Alberto Contador (1:49.8) who won 44 races and $664,218. “Millwood Tilly will have one more start on Saturday in Sydney with ‘Jonesy’ in the Group Two race ($50,000 Pink Bonnet), and then she will be spelled for the Winter Carnival here in Brisbane,” Turpin (Tony) said. “I’ve never seen her, other than in a photo, but we were looking through the Sales catalogue and I wanted her because she was closely related to Mattgregor,” he added. Jones paid $13,000 for the filly, on behalf of his clients, to Canterbury breeder Katie Carville at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka (South Auckland). On debut Millwood Tilly drew five (of six) and Jones shot the $1.45 favourite to the lead soon after the start. That was the winning of the race. She bolted in by 6.2 and 28.6 metres, pacing the mobile mile (1609m) in 2:00.8. Her sectionals were 30.3, 33.3, 28.9, and 28.3. “I’ve never had a starter in the ‘Paleface’ before so that will be quite a thrill. In fact I haven’t had too many smart 2-year-olds over the years. She’s certainly one of the better juveniles I’ve had – and I've never laid a finger on her. “Mark tells me she is a progressive type and that the ‘Terror To Loves’  go okay early. I’m looking forward to seeing her in the flesh,” Turpin said. He said the bay would be trained by Peter and Chantal McMullen (daughter) when she gets to Queensland. “There’s a real ‘Mattgregor’ connection here. It all started through my mate Chris Barsby one day when we were chatting. He told me ‘Jonesy’ had an unraced 3-year-old pacer named Mattgregor. “He never raced in New Zealand, but we bought him on the trainer’s word. That was more than good enough because Mattgregor has won a lot of races and more than $100,000. he even ran fifth in the Chariots Of Fire. “It’s quite ironic really because I’ve never been to New Zealand. I don’t even have a passport. I’ve bought a few off Mark now. He’s a quality horseman, a good friend, and a great judge,” he said. Turpin said he had also purchased Mattgregor's little 2-year-old half sister (by Sunshine Beach) named Miss Ruby Sunshine from Jones. "She finished second in her only start for Mark in New Zealand last Sunday. That was a Group Three race. That filly will end up here too. "According to Mark, he believed Peter would be suited by ‘Tilly' and Chantal - 'Ruby'. Who knows what horse they will drive. They will have to argue over that one," Turpin joked. Queensland’s two-year-old racing program now features six Group 1 races. Millwood Tilly’s winning debut run at Newcastle last month: https://www.hrnsw.com.au/trotstv/replays/39842   Duane Ranger for Racing Queensland

Singleton's Aaron Goadsby says The Bus will now target the NSW Breeders Challenge series and Brisbane harness racing winter carnival after claiming the opening race of Saturday night's Miracle Mile meeting at Menangle.  The four-year-old horse won the $25,000 listed Lady Drivers Invitational (1609 metres) in a career-best, mile-rate of one minute and 51 seconds.  Goadsby, who prepares runners for New Zealand-based trainer Mark Jones, was again impressed with the Golden Guitar runner-up. "He has been going good and that was a good result," he said. Since arriving in Australia around four months ago The Bus has started nine times - six wins, two seconds and a third. The group 1 Miracle Mile was won by four-year-old gelding Spankem. By Josh Callinan Repprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

The Bus still has his wheels spinning and is set to commence from barrier 11 in the running of the $25,000 Hygain Golden Guitar Final at the Tamworth harness racing meeting on Thursday night. With impeccable form going into the final, The Bus, a four-year-old Art Major-Rondel Franco horse will look the early race favourite. After winning The Pub Group Gold Nugget last Thursday night and setting a new track record of 1.56.10 for the 1980 metres, The Bus then contested the Furney’s Stock Feeds Tamworth Golden Guitar Heat 4 with success last Sunday night. Trained by Mark Jones The Bus has been carefully looked after by Singleton Heights caretaker trainer Aaron Goadsby, who is looking for the “golden double” - The $10,000 Pub Group Gold Nugget plus the $25,000 Hygain Golden Guitar Final. If The Bus wins on Thursday night that will make it three wins in eight days with the horse’s owners Grant and Kathy Hatton being trackside in Tamworth, after travelling from their home in Christchurch NZ to witness all their horses runs. “He is a very strong horse and he can be driven with the speed on or he can take the sit, but we will have to wait and see how the Final pans out,” stated reinsman Guy Chapple who will once again take the reins behind The Bus. Chapple is no stranger to winning Golden Guitar Finals himself and is knocking on the door of his third win in the Listed Classic race. The 2013 running saw Chapple take the win with the Shane Tritton trained Mach Beauty with his first success coming behind Neil Shannon in 2006. “I would like to look up the heats to see how many of those I have won over the years,” joked Chapple. In his heat from the seven barrier, Chapple let The Bus settle into stride racing three back on the outside running line before making a three-wide run around the field as they turned into the home straight on the first occasion. The Bus placed race pressure on Maitland pacer Ashark for the majority of the 1980 metre journey before achieving a half neck win over the Melanie Elder trained and Brad Elder driven Ashark who was the race favourite. Tamworth pacer Pure Laughter (Danny Mackney) was 16 metres away third. “He is a strong little horse- strong as a bull - if I had of let him rip at the half, he would have broken their hearts but we wanted to try and get him into the final,” Chapple said. Quarters were covered in 31.2sec; 29.9sec;28.7sec; 29.1 seconds and the mile rate of 1.57.9 recorded. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of the Northern Daily Leader      

Kiwi horseman Mark Jones is returning to Brisbane. The former World Driving champion campaigned for the first time in the Sunshine State last year and although went winless in the major events, he’s keen to right that wrong. His major drawcard last season was the now North American based Delightful Memphis who chased home Shartin in the Queensland Oaks. This year, Jones is sending a pair of talented three-year-olds in The Bus and Tres Vite. Both will target the Derby and Oaks features in the coming weeks. “They’re only three once and these race make strong appeal, both horses are fit and well and deserve an opportunity to land a big race result. I had a great time in Brisbane last year and keen to head back again.” Jones declared. The Bus will start on Sunday in the Gr.1 $150,000 Breeders Challenge Final at TABCORP Park, Menangle but has drawn poorly and takes on the most exciting pacer in the country in Ignatius. Young reinsman Chris Geary has the job of navigating a path from gate 11 while Ignatius has drawn ideally in gate 3. Last start in the semi-final, The Bus finished a tidy second behind Ignatius in a time of 1:53.1. The Bus will start in both the Gr.3 $$30,540 South East Derby on July 14 before tackling the Gr.2 $75,540 Queensland Derby the following week. Tres Vite will accompany The Bus to Queensland and the talented filly will be set for the Gr.3 $30,540 South East Oaks next week before starting in the Gr.2 $75,540 Queensland Oaks the following week. Unbeaten in both starts to date while in Sydney, the Bettors Delight filly scored an impressive victory via the passing lane at Bathurst last night (Wednesday) when handled by Ellen Rixon. Tres Vite rated 1:55.8 after scoring at Penrith the start prior in a time of 1:57.4. Earlier this season, Tres Vite finished second behind Dibaba in the Gr.2 $45,000 Southland Oaks at Ascot Park in Ivercargill. “Both horses are above average and will acquit themselves well in whatever they contest. Given their current form, I’m keen to see if we get some black type against their names before seasons end. “The Bus has always been held in high regard and it’s just a shame he’s got such a bad draw this weekend, I thought he went really well in the semi-final. He’ll need plenty of luck this weekend but he can feature in the Queensland features. “We were undecided about Tres Vite and the Queensland trip but when she won again last night, we decided to go for it and I think she’ll race well. Hopefully we can get some luck with draws and then we won’t be far away, I think Sociable looks the filly to beat this season.” Jones operates from Christchurch while also having a satellite stable at Menangle in Sydney. Chris Barsby

Kiwi-bred two-year-old filly Platinum Revolution has been the latest Australian raider added to the list for the 2018 Harness Jewels to be held at Cambridge Raceway on Saturday 2 June. A Group Three Pink Bonnet winner, Platinum Revolution has accepted an invitation into the 2YO Diamond with a record of three starts, two wins and a third. The win in the Pink Bonnet in early March was over the distance of one mile, in which she recorded a time of 1.54.7. Trained by Shane and Lauren Tritton of Sydney and owned by Rob Jones, Shane was thrilled to receive the invitation and did not hold back on his opinion of the filly. “I’m very happy with Gucci (Platinum Revolution). She has come back better this preparation and is undoubted the best two-year-old filly I have trained,” he stated. “She is versatile and tough and we are very excited to be bringing her to the Jewels.” The daughter of Changeover has a unique to connection to another Australian, now claimed as an honorary Kiwi by the New Zealand racing industry. She was co-bred by commentator Mark McNamara, along with his wife Katie, her father Steve and their good friend Aaron Goadsby. Her dam, Champagne Franco, was lightly raced having just two career starts but won on debut at Rangiora in 2011 for then trainer/driver Mark Jones. Platinum Revolution is her second live foal and first to race, and her career has been keenly followed by her breeders. “I’m really happy for the horse more than anything,” said Mark.  “She was the most beautiful natured yearling an absolute pleasure to have around.” “All the credit has to go to Matt Cross, he broke her in. And to the team at Mark Jones stable who did the early work with her.” “I knew when Shane bought her she was going get her chance but to know now she’s coming for the Jewels is extremely exciting. Her Mum got some extra hay this morning.” Whilst Mark cannot make the Jewels this year, his wife Katie will be present at the meeting to cheer Platinum Revolution home for her breeders. Which is fitting given she gifted the filly her name. “Katie named her. The ‘Platinum’ came from the dam’s ‘Champagne’ factor, and ‘Revolution’ is from the sire ‘Changeover,’” explained Mark. “Katie was away when the horse left, so she is looking forward to seeing her again.” Platinum Revolution joins an impressive Australian assualt on the Jewels in 2018, with invitations already accepted by Custodian, Wobelee, Carla’s Pixel, Shez All Rock and Jilliby Kung Fu. 2018 could potentially see the first year the Australians take a Jewels victory. Jess Smith

Many are saying Saturday's Northern Southland Trotting Club harness racing fields are the best seen in the south for a long time and they're not wrong. The sight of a fresh crop of two year olds; split into fillies and colts and geldings races, is in itself great to see and that's just the start of the story here. The inaugural Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks has carded a field full of depth and is proof of the emergence of Majestic Son as a sire of quality squaregaiters. Six of the eleven starters in Saturday's feature for trotting fillies are by Majestic Son. And there's no doubting that Wintonian Michelle Caig will be on-course just to see Renezmae, a horse she bred and raised. Renezmae, the likely favourite, won the Group One Breeders Crown for two year old fillies in Australia last season. After racing tough at Ashburton in the Hambletonian Classic last month she ran a brave fourth. The trip away and the race at Ascot Park will improve her chances for the New Zealand Trotting Oaks in a fortnight. But a win on Saturday won't surprise either. There is no doubting that trotting is on the climb in this country and this inititive is one of the many good things to come out of the Southland region this season. The New Zealand Standardbred Breeders, led by John Mooney and Brad Reid, have been to the forefront in getting this $20,000 race off the ground and the Australian based Hara des Trotteurs have been quick to support the fillies feature. Another inititive this season in the south has been the Nuggets Series. Starting in August, all heats have been worth $12,000 and all winners and second placegetters have become eligible to race in the $20,000 final at Ascot Park on Saturday. All winners, with the exception of Ardtoo, have fronted up and it a race that looks like a preview for the Southern Supremacy Stakes Final on Diamonds Day at the end of next month. The highest rated horse by a mile is the Mark Jones trained The Bus at R81. He's won six races this season with the next best rated horse being Zealand Star (R70) the winner of three. This for me is the race of the day with favourite horses like Franco Santino drawing wide and The Bus and the highly rated Lawrence having to content with second line draws.  Then we get to the three; Group Three races, on a day where there seems to be no undercard. The Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Trotting Cup has had many great winners over the years including Mossdale Connor, Isaiah, Terror To Love (twice), Stunin Cullen and Bondy. More The Better will probably be the favourite for Saturday distance feature. As a three year old, he really came on late in the season and put together a winning sequence of four while campaigning in Australia. His wins there included the Group Two Queensland Derby. He comes into this 2700 metre race fresh but having won two trials. He's won his only standing start in Australia last season.  The Group Three Southern Lights, sponsored by Pryde's Easifeeds, is another mouth watering affair. The return of Dark Horse, who has been fitted for her return to racing at the Winton Workouts, will bring many to the track.   Harriot Of Mot, who has a few ex- Southlanders as owners, looks to be her main rival. She won this race in 2016. Smokey Mac, who currently leads the four year old ranking for the Harness Jewels also lines up in this feature. Trainer Brett Gray will get a good idea as to where he's at by racing against the better class trotters.  The Caduceus Club of Southland, who sponsor The Super Nuggets Final, also sponsor the two year old fillies feature with Alabar Stud. It also carries Group Three status. This race has been around for sixteen years and some of the early winners were Western Dream and Beaudiene Bad Babe. More recently Joanne's A Delight, Delightful Memphis and Dizzy Miss Lizzy have won. There are some other intriguing battles as well on the day with Hail Christian up against Swamp Major in the last race and quality up-and-coming trotters BD Love, Zoey's Gift and Jaw D Nancy squaring off. The weather forecast looks good so all roads lead to Ascot Park on Saturday for what should be a bumper day of harness racing. See ya there.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing  

Mark Jones has joined an elite group of harness racing trainers by training the winners of 500 races. Jones was sitting on 497 wins before the Nelson two day meeting kicked off on Friday.  He won with Saveapatrol, and the The Bus on Friday and then again with The Bus in the Nelson Cup yesterday to bring up his milestone. The Bus (Art Major - Rondel Franco) was impressive on Friday for driver Samantha Ottley, running a 1-59.0 mile rate to easily account for a rating 54 to 69 field. He was even better yesterday rating a 2.00.5 mile rate from a stand over the staying test of 3000m. Cable Beach was just as impressive in second after leading for driver Dexter Dunn but he could not withstand the late burst from The Bus who beat him by a neck at the line. Saveapatrol (Christian Cullen - Rondel Franco) a converted pacer who easily won his first trotting the first day at Nelson is a half brother to The Bus. Both horses are out of the good mare Rondel Franco who won 2 races in New Zealand before being exported overseas and winning another 35 races in the USA and Canada. The Bus winning the Nelson Cup yesterday. Harnesslink Media

Top pacing mare Nek Time has been retired after suffering another leg injury early this week. Nek Time was being aimed at this weeks Nelson harness racing meeting, but instead will head to the paddock to recover from the injury and then be put in foal next season.  The speedy mare was trained by Glenys and Terry Chmiel and finished her racing career with 8 wins from 25 lifetime starts.  Nek Time (Gotta Go Cullect - Braithwaite) won several group races including the Queensland Oaks in Australia and had stake earnings of close to $160,000.   ________________________________________________________________________________ Former 11 win pacer Saveapatrol will have his first start as a trotter at Nelson on Friday. The brilliant but unsound son of Christian Cullen qualified as a trotter a month ago winning a Rangiora trial by 19 lengths, going some nine seconds under the qualifying time. Saveapatrol qualifying as a trotter   Harnesslink Media  

Champion harness racing pacer Auckland Reactor has had a hot couple of days as a sire, with his progeny winning several races over the last week including the PGG Wrightson yearling sales final at Alexandra Park on Sunday night with the unbeaten Chase Auckland (Auckland Reactor - Delicata - Falcon Seelster).  Soho Burning Love( 3f Auckland Reactor-Soho Bordeaux - Western Terror) was another big winner for Auckland Reactor on Saturday night at Melton when she blitzed a 3yo fillies field by 30 meters in a stunning 1-52.6 mile rate.  Soho Burning Love is trained and was driven by Michael Stanley. Smoke N Reactor was impressive for Mark Jones at Winton on Sunday when she was attacked for most of the race but was still too good winning in a 1-58.8 mile rate on a slushy track. Smoke N Reactor is out of Smoke N Mirrors a Pacific Rocket mare who won ten races between 2007 and 2009. Ardtoo (Auckland Reactor - Tobetoo - Dream Away) also won at Winton on Sunday and was an easy winner of the Nugget Final. The ease of the win did not reflect the price as Ardtoo paid a whopping $62.60 and $10.30 on the tote. Chase Auckland is clearly the best performed son on the racetrack for Auckland Reactor and has followed in his fathers footsteps so far by winning his first seven races in a row. Auckland Reactor won his first seventeen starts before being tripped up by a standing start race at Cambridge in 2009 where he was beaten by three quarters of a length by the Geoff Small trained All Tiger after breaking badly at the start. Auckland Reactor currently is a clear second on the three-year-old sire's list for money won in New Zealand to none other than Champion sire Bettor's Delight. Ardtoo winning easily at Winton   Smoke N Reactor Soho Burning Love Chase Auckland Harnesslink Media  

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Robert Whittaker is a man who knows how to win and so too it seems is the four-year-old harness racing horse named after him. Ashlee Grives drove impressive Kiwi Whittaker to his second win in as many weeks. A week after Whittaker won his heat of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s Star Trek series with a flat tyre, he showed his toughness once more in taking out his 1,730 metres semi-final. The son of Sportswriter trained in Christchurch by Mark Jones had to do plenty of work three wide to get in a position to challenge for the win, but over the last 200m when Whittaker accelerated, no-one could match him. Whittaker ($2.20) went on to win by 6½m over Amanda Turnbull's talented mare Eliza Dushku ($2.10 favourite) and now shapes as the runner to beat in the November 9 final. “He’s a very nice horse and the beauty of him is he can do that bit of work and still have that speed at the end,” Ashlee Grives, who has driven Whittaker over the past fortnight, said. “Hopefully he pulls up okay after this because he’ll take a bit of beating in the final. “He’s a very nice horse and it’s a pleasure to drive him … it’s a pleasure to drive him in a good series like this.” Chasing four consecutive wins, Eliza Dushku began quickly from her inside draw and held out Our Chittybangbang from the stable of 2016 Star Trek series victor Chris Frisby. Grives, who had to contend with a barrier seven draw, guided Whittaker three wide in search of a sit. As the bell sounded he was 3m off the pace, and from that spot he struck down the home straight. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The Perth Inter Dominion if off the agenda for My Field Marshal. Trainer Tim Butt confirmed he would keep the classy former Kiwi pacer in Victoria for a string of races before relocating to Sydney where he will soon set-up his base at Menangle. “We just don’t think the four races in two weeks, especially with a couple being longer races, will suit him,” he said. “He’s had his issues with the wind operation and we’re better to space his races and target the shorter races as well.” Meanwhile, Butt’s exciting four-year-old Let It Ride steps out again at Cranbourne tomorrow (Tuesday). “He’ll have this run, then another at Cranbourne before that 4&5YO Championship at Melton next month,” Butt said. Butt confirmed he would share a barn with Ashlee Grives at Menangle. Grives has formed a partnership with Kiwi horseman Mark Jones, who will rotate horses from NZ to her Menangle barn to increase racing opoportunities. “I’ve got Rocker Band, Delightful Memphis and Whittaker here now and they aren’t far off racing,” Grives said. ____________________________________________________________________________________ JIMMY O’Sullivan landed one of Aussie harness racing’s biggest accolades when crowd the Gordon Rothacker Medallist last night (Sunday). The Kiwi-born horseman, who now lives in Queensland, is best known for his 1987 Christchurch Inter Dominion and NZ Cup wins with My Lightning Blue. O’Sullivan’s other stars included the likes of Quite Famous, Its Motor Power, Our Brenray and Margaret Shannon. On the same night, Lennythshark edged-out stablemate Hectorjayjay in a very tight vote for Victorian Horse of the Year honours. ____________________________________________________________________________________ THE stirring clash between Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca wasn’t the only big talking point at Gloucester Park last Friday night. A veteran former NSW pacer called Sokys Bigbullet set tongues wagging with the most breathtaking of WA debuts for new trainer Tony Svilicich. Svilicich is the man who worked such wonders with veteran stars Mysta Magical Mach and Has The Answers. Word was out Sokys Bigbullet would run well, but he did more than that. He scored the most dominant wins and stamped himself as a potential feature race player. The big striding eight-year-old, who won 19 of his 80 starts in NSW, led and driver Colin Brown just let him roll. Instead of tiring, he just ran a handle field of rivals ragged and won by almost 10m in a flying 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2130m. The mile rate was just 1.9sec outside Beaudiene Boaz’s track record. ____________________________________________________________________________________ NO wonder they call him the whiz kid. Victoria’s top young driver Jason Lee etched yet another milestone into his bounty when he drove half the card – four of the eight winners – at Melton last Friday night. The wins included emerging mare Keayang Kallisto for his mum, Marg Lee, in the feature race, the Blossom Lady for mares. Lee surprised some by leading and opting to park hot favourite Carlas Pixel then stave her off late to win by a half-neck in a slick 1min56.9sec mile rate for 2240m. They ripped home in 55.6 and 27.5sec. Just as satisfying to Lee was another win for his mum when veteran and stable favourite Keayang Steamer returned to winning form in race eight. Just for good measure, the nine-year-old posted a flying 1min52.9sec mile rate for 1720m. Keayang Steamer has been plagued by injuries since looking an emerging superstar when he beat Smoken Up in the 2014 Horsham Cup. Lee’s other wins came aboard Peter Manning’s trotting mare Garston Girl in race three and Bad Billy in race four. Adam Hamilton

The Bus trained by Mark Jones proved too good for eight other rivals in the inaugural $12,000. Caduceus Club Of Southland Nuggets Finals at the Northern Southland Meeting at Ascot Park yesterday.  He held on to beat Kilowatt Kid by three quarters on a length.  "It's a good series down here and there's the final in March so that's good. The Northern Southland Club used to fly me down, the owner likes coming and you've got the Supremacy so it works in good," said trainer Mark Jones.  The Bus (outside) beating Kilowatt Kid - Photo Bruce Stewart. The Art Major colt qualified for yesterday's final when he won at Gore at the end of September. After that win he ran second to Hail Christian at Addington before winning on the same track eight days ago. With just over a lap to run driver Sam Ottley took the three year old forward to sit parked outside leader Benio Ben. When Some Excusesomewhere improved with a lightning move at the 500, The Bus had got the lead. Some Excusesomewhere broke turning for home and The Bus was left in front. The only challenge came from the trailing horse Kilowatt Kid which got within three quarters of a length of the winner.  "He's lazy and knocks off and only has to do what he has to, but when they come at him he goes again." The Bus is out of the 37 win Falcon Seelster mare Rondel Franco who raced extensively in America. He's owned by Grant Hatton who also raced The Bus's half-brother Saveapatrol which won the inaugural 2013 Northern Southland Autumn Futurity. Sam Ottley, The Bus, Andrew Suddaby (obscured) Bill McDonald President of the Northern Southland TC, Grant Haddon and Neil Timms - Photo Bruce Stewart. Jones says The Bus will continue to race here before heading to Australia at the end of the season.  "After the Supremacy he'll go to Australia where he's paid up for a few series."  And after that he sees him racing in some of the staying races next season.  "He's probably a Country Cups type horse. He's not up with the elite three year olds."  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Burnham trainer Mark Jones rarely heads south without a horse ready to win and a plan to be executed. The Bus driven by Samantha Ottley duly won for Jones today and I suspect the plan may be to line up in a special maiden initiative introduced by Southern Harness this season  - a $12,000 Nugget Mobile Pace Final at the Northern Southland meeting on 7th October. The Bus is now qualified for this race and the conditions of the series allow him to carry on winning in the meantime. Jones is also a fan of the Northern Southland Club and has been a sponsor for a few seasons. All horses that start between today's Gore meeting and the end of September in non-win races and accumulate enough points will be eligible to start in the final.  And Jones's plan could also extend to getting early points on the board for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in April.  In today's race Ottley eased the three year old into his stride from a tricky second line draw. She moved The Bus out with 1800 metres to run but was beaten to the jump by a fast move from Clark Barron driving Some Excusesomewhere. Ottley got onto the back of the Barron runner and was taken forward with cover. With just under a lap to run The Bus had taken up the running from the favourite Black Ops.  The Bus held on to win by three quarters of a length from Black Ops with Benio Ben another length and three quarters back in third. The Bus beating Black Ops                               - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He was a wee bit too smart today which he had to be from the draw. But he had to get round them. He did it quite comfortably but actually knocked off at the end. He still had a bit there (at the finish). It's his first trip down here and there looks to be a bit of improvement in him," said Ottley after the run. Last season The Bus raced in the Young Gun Series in Auckland against the likes of Alta Maestro and Spankem.  He resumed this season at Addington last Friday night.  "I was really pleased with his run at Addington the other night. I know it was only fifth but it was a good fifth. He was nice and relaxed today because he can go the other way." The three year old Art Major colt is raced by loyal stable client Grant Hatton. He's out of the Falcon Seelster mare Rondel Franco which won thirty seven races in a career that included racing in New Zealand, Canada and America. Hatton raced The Bus's half brother Saveapatrol which won eleven races including the first ever Northern Southland TC Futurity in 2013.     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Harness racing driver Samantha Ottley managed to grab two driving wins last night at Addington and she did it by winning two of the trotting races with pacing bred mares.  Ottley drove outsider Michelle to a dominant win at long odds in the first trotting race of the night. At bolters odds of over $36.20 and $7.30 on the tote, Michelle who has been a serial breaker in her races, finally trotted all the way and cruised to an easy win over second favorite Still Eyre and driver Matthew Williamson. Michelle (Live Or Die - Eves Apple) is a pacing bred mare trained by Mark Jones and owned by Wayne Higgs. The lightly raced mare has taken a while to adapt to the trotting gait but is clearly going to win more races judging by last nights impressive performance. A few races later, Donegal Bettergretch won the R60 and Faster trot last night in a quick 3-19.7 for the 2600m stand. Donegal Bettergretch (Bettor's Delight - Donegal Gretchen) was driven to the lead early by Ottley and the pacing bred mare trotted well and proved too strong for her rivals, winning comfortably from Petite One and driver Colin DeFilippi. DeFilippi is sitting on 1999 lifetime driving wins and was a bit unlucky not to finish closer with Petite One as she was last at the 400m and was held up for most of the run home, until a late gap saw her close strongly into second. Top reinsman Blair Orange has moved to a two win lead in this seasons drivers premiership. Orange is sitting on eight wins for the season, two wins clear of David Butcher who is poised to narrow the gap with his good book of drives at Alexandra Park tonight. Amazon Lily got the ball rolling for Blair last night when she began well from the standing start and was quickly around to lead and controlling the race in front. The Ken Barron trained daughter of Bettor's Delight had too much speed for the opposition and won as she liked pacing the 2600m stand in 3.23.1. The last 800m of 57.5 was the quickest of the night until the last race when Orange adopted similar tactics on another Barron trained horse in For The Corz.  For The Corz also led early and controlled the race from the front before whipping over her last 800m in an identical 57.5 to win easily giving Blair and Barron a double for the night.    Samantha Ottley driving Michelle to victory.   Harnesslink Media  

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