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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  

Harness racing trainer Paul Nairn has Ronald J primed and ready to go in Race 6 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs meeting tonight at Addington. Nairn does not think the mobile start tonight will worry the big Love You gelding and the small field should suit his style of racing.  Young junior driver Stacy Whatuira has driven Ronald J in all six of his wins and the times the horse is running suggests that he is a logical anchor in tonights $25,000 Pick Six starting in Race 5 Pick Six Preview   Leg 1     Race 5 [7:24pm] Mark Jones holds the key to this leg with his two speedy 3yo pacers The Bus and Si Si Senior. Mark has opted to drive Si Si Senior who came home in very fast sectionals in his first start to the races. With a run closer to the pace he should be hard to beat in this field. The Bus will be driven by Samantha Ottley and he won a workout easily at Rangiora on the 9th August with Sam doing the driving and could try to lead in this race. Van Laddie is another in form horse needed, with driver Blair Orange declaring him his best drive of the night. Leg 2     Race 6 [7:49pm] Ronald J looks to be the clear anchor of Pick Six and should win with no mistakes.   Leg 3     Race 7 [8:16pm] Malik was disappointing last start but his bloods were out and he has been freshened for this. He won a workout recently in preparation for this race and he will be hard to beat if he can find the front at some stage. Lovetodream drops back in class here and gets the services of Matt Purvis with a junior claim. She ran home in 54.7 from back in the field last start which suggests she can win if handier on the turn this week.   Leg 4     Race 8 [8:46pm] This leg is quite tricky with a big field of trotters and many chances. Alvira Hest beat a similar field easily last week and could win again with the same trip but she does go back another 10m this week. We suggest taking as many as the budget allows, but include: Medusa, Dusky Eyre, Rum In The Sun, Redwood Invasion, Rocknpop and Alvira Hest   Leg 5     Race 9 [9:16pm] Another big field here with the TAB favorite being Matau Gem. She went well here when leading last time to the track and driver Gavin Smith thinks she is his best drive this week, so she is a possible anchor. Others worth including are Bound To Impress who has been running home late in most of her starts from back in the field and she could trail here from the ace draw. Also Boomer and Christmas Toyboy from the second row are chances.   Leg 6     Race 10 [9:46pm]  The final leg is an even go and again as many as the budget allows. Gunpowder has been racing well and has drawn to race handy. The 2600m distance will suit and he is the TAB favorite. Others needed are, Bohannan, Kiwi On Show, Bettor Chance, Martin John and My Wee Man.   Suggested Pick Six   ($21.60 for 20%) Leg 1     4,7,10 Leg 2     3 Leg 3     7,9 Leg 4     3,6,7,15,16,17 Leg 5     3 Leg 6     3,4,8,9,10,11   Harnesslink Media          

Boom Kiwi-bred filly My Sweetchilliphilly was a late scratching at Menangle in New South Wales yesterday (Tuesday) after casting a shoe. The winner of all five starts in emphatic fashion, the two-year-old daughter of Betterthancheddar is still on target for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown semifinals at Bendigo, Victoria, on August 19. She was due to clash with classy Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen-trained gelding Sicario ($1.06), who bolted in at Menangle (1609m, mobile) yesterday in her absence, after leading for driver Luke McCarthy.  The Somebeachsomewhere flyer has now won six from nine starts and is also heading for the Breeders Crown. He clocked 1:55.1, the last 400m in 26sec. NSW-based co-trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton elected to play it safe with the unbeaten My Sweetchilliphilly, who is a half-sister to seven-win Kiwi pacer Max Phactor. “It’s nothing serious,” Shane Tritton said. “We don’t want to take any chances with her. “We decided to wrap up her foot [on Monday] and keep her in cotton wool for a few days.” Despite missing the outing, My Sweetchilliphilly will be in peak condition for the semis, according to Tritton. Mid-Canterbury breeder Melissa Tapp always believed My Sweetchilliphilly would be special. Tapp, 31, runs a 2000-cow dairy farm at Hinds with her husband Jimmy Illingworth and they also have a band of five broodmares, including Tact Philly, the dam of My Sweetchilliphilly and Max Phactor, who ran fourth in the 4YO Emerald at the Harness Jewels last season. My Sweetchilliphilly reeled off four straight wins to open her career, including the $A50,000 Group One Gold Tiara at Bathurst by 20.9 metres. Tapp bought her unraced dam Tact Philly (by In The Pocket) at an Auckland sale in foal to champion sire Bettor’s Delight for “way under the stud fee’’ and the mare was later mated with new Alabar Stud stallion Betterthancheddar (1:48), a champion three-year-old in the United States and the fastest ever stallion son of Bettor’s Delight. The result was My Sweetchilliphilly, who was sold to an Australian owner after being developed by West Melton horseman Greg Payne. “We thought she was something pretty special, but how special we didn’t know. Mark Jones [Canterbury trainer] trialled her and said if the [Australian] sale fell through he would take her,’’ said Tapp. “We didn’t get as much as we would have liked, but the market was a bit down at that stage. It was just a matter of numbers and we had to keep moving some along. She was a real cheap buy for them and hopefully they come back again.’’   NZ Harness News http://www.theinformant.co.nz/

The Oamaru Harness Racing Club holds their first meeting of the new season on Sunday. Only a seven race card is on offer but the fields are very even and there will be some good racing on the day. We highlight the pick six held on races two through to seven inclusive, which is for a guaranteed pool of $25,000   Leg 1  The two Robert Dunn trained runners look to have the wood on this field and we favour Bite The Bullet who ran home well last night at Addington in fast sectionals. Dreams To Reality is a danger and possibly Hannity who improved last start on the track. Leg 2 A tricky leg of pick six here with a number of chances from the standing start. We like OK Im Bad, Vera's Delight, Diamond Life, Sands Of Love and Out Of Aces any of which could win with the right run. Leg 3 An even field of trotters and many chances. Favorite Alderbeck has to be the main chance and she has the form to get the win here. Zachary Binx has a lot of ability but was making mistakes last season. If he is on his game then a big danger to the favorite. All Setlled Down, Sam Galleon and Stylish Duke can all be a threat if the favorites make a mistake. Leg 4 This race could be dominated from the front and Run Boy Run and Earthquake both have the speed to lead with their good draws. Dangers are the two Peter Robertson trained runners in Gunpowder and Woodlea Shawn. Leg 5 Say Your Pres is the top selection here after a nice run fresh up at Addington. Samantha Ottley takes the reins and Mark Jones thought this one was his best hope this week. I could see her leading and being too good for this field.  Tijuana Taxi and Clover Lady look the main dangers. Leg 6 This race looks to have the best anchor of pick six in Alta Shelby. He raced with merit against some classy two year olds last season and was spotted putting in some nice late work at recent trials in Canterbury. He has gate speed and should win if he can find the front early. Suggested pick six. Leg 1      4,5,6 Leg 2      2,4,5,9,10 Leg 3      4,5,6,7,8 Leg 4      1,3,5,11 Leg 5      2 Leg 6      4 Cost $30 for 20%   Harnesslink Media

In a perfect world, Mark Jones wouldn’t be taking Say Your Pres to Addington tonight but the lure of a concession victory for the three-year-old trotter was enough to get him interested in heading out at night in the middle of winter. Under the current handicapping system, a win tonight for the talented young trotter would net half the rating points that it would next week when she will be a four-year-old, so Jones is looking to make a bit of hay while the sun is shining. “She’s probably not 100 per cent screwed down just yet,” he said. “But she’s good enough to win it I think, her workout the other day was pretty good.” The daughter of The Pres won at her second start back in February but subsequent starts have failed to net positive results, Jones was never worried though and knew it was only time that was holding him back from the finish product. “It’s a family that gets better with time and I know that she will. “She’s actually better this time in than she was last time, so hopefully we are headed in the right direction.” Jones will don himself in the white helmet and the vest tonight himself to drive the filly and his expectations are reasonably realistic from behind the mobile arm. “Like I said, she’s good enough to win it, but if she doesn’t she’ll only keep getting better.” Say Your Pres is the only runner from the Jones stable engaged tonight, but the former World Driving Champion will be in action on four occasions in a rare night of outside driving. “I’m making a comeback, either that or they must be really short of drivers.” Jones has hopped in the sulky just 84 times this season and will register the least amount of drives in a season for his entire career when the season ticks over next week. “I’ve been focussed on the training and the selling side of things, I still enjoy getting out there and driving, but it’s just not the priority.” He teams up with an old comrade in Dean Taylor for two of his other drives tonight with Scotlyn Mach and Scotlyn Justis and both are solid each way chances. “You know what you get with Dean’s team and they both have good draws so hopefully they can be there or thereabouts.” His other drive is the talented, but enigmatic, Cullenmore for another good supporter in Andrew Garters. Matt Markham’s Addington Selections Race 1: Sunrise Spur, Elvis P, Family Night, Girlz N Boyz Race 2: My Nikayla, Donegal Lucy Anne, Theboyslightup, Shebang Race 3: Say Your Pres, Diana Harbour, Shpeedy, Rocknpop Race 4: Black Art, Earthquake, Shesa Tricky Bridge, Flamboyant Race 5: Especial, Vera’s Delight, Jody Direen, Pantastic Race 6: Alpha Rock, Christopher Banner, Lovetodream, Hypervelocity Race 7: Cullenburn, Mikey Maguire, For The Corz, Woodlea Shawn Race 8: Ronald J, Hey Yo, Idle Monkey, Donegal Bettorgretch Race 9: Van Laddie, Revving, Tupelo Mississippi, The Tin Soldier Best Bet: Cullenburn (Race 7) Value: My Nikayala (Race 2)

High profile New Zealand harness racing trainer / driver Mark Jones' Winter Carnival aspirations suffered a blow when high class mare Rocker Band went to join millionaire pacer Bling It On as a patient at Gatton University. Trot enthusiast Chris Barsby explains what happened. "After arriving last week and joining her stablemates Delightful Memphis and Kowhai Monarch, the Mark Jones trained mare was struck down by acute case of travel sickness and was rushed to Gatton for further treatment,'' Barsby said. "She was very crook when she arrived and Scott Miller (host trainer) was rather concerned. After his vet checked her over, he recommended we send her to Gatton.'' "Since being there she has stabilised but we may have found another issue with an abscess in her back region and it may require an operation,'' Mark Jones said. Rocker Band was being considered for a number of features in the coming weeks, open class events plus the $20,000 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes on July 8. The Rocknroll Hanover mare, a daughter of New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, finished a luckless third in the Group 3 $31,800 Frith Stakes at TABCORP Park, Menangle on June 17. The proven Group One winner is raced by Gold Coast businessman Greg Brodie, of Courage Under Fire fame and has enjoyed little luck on Australian soil this campaign. "It's disappointing but her health is the most important thing because she is so valuable as a broodmare, she's a great race mare while her pedigree is as good as anything in this part of the world. "I was looking at a number of features with her in Brisbane but the focus is getting her back to full health. "I can't thank Scott enough for the effort he went to last week, he went above and beyond and basically saved her. I'm forever thankful to him for that." Jones said. Female talent rises EQUALITY of the sexes was hammered home last Saturday night with three female drivers taking out half of the 10 race program. Doubles were enjoyed by Madi Dux and Trista Dixon with Isobel Ross scoring in the opening event. What was an exclusively male world half a century ago has become the land of opportunity for the girls. We have come a long way from suffragette Emily Davison throwing herself to her death under the King's horse Anmer in the English Derby of 1913 in the quest for women's votes. Welcome boost ONE for the good news basket was the announcement that Racing Queensland (RQ) will enhance returns to racing industry participants in 2017/18 by increasing prize money. RQ CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said commercial decisions made by the new RQ Board have led to better than forecast financial results allowing for the budget increase next year. RQ has a strategic goal over the next three years to boost prize money in a sustainable manner and to continue to invest in significant infrastructure projects across all three codes, while working with clubs to improve attendance and commercial returns. From a harness racing perspective, with a $505,000 slice of the pie, Redcliffe's Wednesday and Thursday programs will be increased with the eight race programs to consist of five races at $4450 and three races at $3450. Additionally, an extra 2YO QBRED Breeders Series has been added, which will culminate with two $25,000 finals, one for colts and geldings and one for fillies and the QBRED win bonus scheme will be enhanced with 4YO's now eligible for a $2500 bonus for their first 4YO win (this is in addition to the existing $7500 on offer for eligible horses first 2YO win and 3YO win). With the July program already published, there will be some additional money for that month, with the schedule above, kicking in from August 1. Marburg reminder DON'T forget that Marburg races next Saturday. The Pick the card comp has jackpotted to $1100, there's a monster raffle, $100 gate entry betting voucher and a valuable piece of locally crafted jewellery will head the Funny Money auction after the last race. Admission is $5 for adults, pensioners and students $3 and racebooks are $3. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Quinella 1-4: Our Hi Jinx (A. Sanderson) and Major Cam (M Neilson). R2: Quinella 1-12: Bettabe Perfect (P. McMullen) and Written In Red (P. Diebert). R3: Quinella 2-4: A Good Chance (G. Whitaker) and Our Leonardo (K. Dawson). R4: Box trifecta in four 3-4-11-12: Miss Irish Rose (B Graham)-Summertime Lizzie (A. Sanderson)- Bettor Than Special (M Neilson)-Joys A Babe (G. Dixon). R5: Box trifecta in four 1-10-11-12: Hughie Green (J. Cremin)-Avonnova (A. Sanderson)-Spare Me Days (B. Hewitt)-Watch Pulp Fiction (C. Turpin). R6: Quinella 8-15: The More The Better (M. Purdon) and Nui Noc Tien (L. McCarthy). R7: Quinella 3-6: Leos Best (G Dixon) and Mattgregor (P. McMullen). R8: Box trifecta2-5-6: Delightful Memphis (L McCarthy)-My Casino Belle (B Hewitt)-Takara Truffle (M Neilson). R9: Quinella 11-12: Get In The Groove (G. Dixon) and Bacchus Raucous (T Moffat). R10: Box trifecta in four 1-3-4-7: Senitas Success (A. Sanderson)-Kowhai Monarch (M. Jones)-Riene Des Gitans (P. McMullen)-Melpark Royal Son (J Cremin). Honour board From an overall training and driving perspective, some weeks are a feast and some weeks a famine across the greater Ipswich footprint. It looked like the latter last week with local trainers and drivers having input to one or both disciplines for no less than 25 winners spread across six meetings. The leader board, while containing no unfamiliar names, produced a change with Nathan Dawson logging six wins in the sulky with Pete McMullen close up on five. Chantal Turpin made sure that the Patrick Estate stable maintained its current form, leading in five winners for the week. Most pleasing were Steve Bunz with Change The Nation, and Rob Gorman for Trevor Lambourn scoring with Just Leave. Albion Park, June 23: One Last Roll (Narissa McMullen for Mark Rees); Heavens Hint (Nathan Dawson for Stewie Dickson); Wicked Time (Adam Sanderson for Vicki Rasmussen); Shareapassion (Pete McMullenfor Chantal Turpin); Bull Market (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin). Albion Park, June 24: Annika Magic (Matt Elkins for Kerry Smith); Rory Mach (Darrell Graham); Miss Irish Rose (Adam Sanderson for Ian Gurney); Mattgregor (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin). Redcliffe, June 26: Magnussen (Lachie Manzelmann for Brittany Graham); Ima Sea Storm (Nathan Dawson for Graeme White); Change the Nation (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); My Change Of Heart (Nathan Dawson for Ricky Gordon); Just Leave (Rob Gorman for Trevor Lambourn). Albion Park, June 27: Northern Muscle (Denis Smith); Bettabe Perfect Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); How We Roll (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); I'm Born To Rule (Gary Whitaker for Kenny Rattray). Redcliffe, June 28: Kalinda (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); My Wingman (Nathan Dawson for Ricky Gordon); Corey William (Nathan Dawson for Peter Greig). Redcliffe, June 29: Slippery Jade (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Doolittle Dandy (Leonard Cain for Ricky Hart); Bob Gage (Gary Whitaker for Ron Sallis); I'm Johnny Jet (Darrell Graham). TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Star New Zealand mare Rocker Band is the latest casualty for the Brisbane harness racing winter carnival. The carnival officially starts this Saturday night at Albion Park with a host of feature events scheduled while the next three weeks is the time to shine for the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, Rocker Band will miss the entire carnival. After arriving last week and joining her stablemates Delightful Memphis and Kowhai Monarch, the Mark Jones trained mare was struck down by acute case of travel sickness before being rushed to the Gatton University for further treatment. "She was very crook when she arrived and Scott (Miller) was rather concerned, after his vet checked her over, he recommended we send her to Gatton. Since being there she has stabilised but we may have found another issue with an abscess in her back region and it may require an operation." Jones said. Rocker Band was being considered for a number of features in the coming weeks, open class events plus the $20,000 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes on July 8. The Rocknroll Hanover - Mainland Banner finished a luckless third in the Gr.3 $31,800 Frith Stakes at TABCORP Park, Menangle on June 17. The proven Group One winner is raced by Gold Coast businessman Greg Brodie, of Courage Under Fire fame and has enjoyed little luck on Australian soil this campaign. "It's disappointing but her health is the most important thing because she is so valuable as a broodmare, she's a great racemare while her pedigree is as good as anything in this part of the world. "I was looking at a number of features with her in Brisbane but the focus is getting her back to full health. "I can't thank Scott enough for the effort he went to last week, he went above and beyond and basically saved her. I'm forever thankful to him for that."   Rocker Band has joined millionaire pacer Bling It On as a patient at Gatton University. Chris Barsby

The racing future of Hunter Cup winner Bling It On remains uncertain after a nasty fall in his comeback race at Albion Park on Saturday night. A pick-up drive for Kiwi reinsman Mark Jones from a thrill to a nightmare when Bling It On was looming into the race on the final bend, but copped a check and crashed heavily to the track. It was an ugly fall and Bling It On appeared to land heavily on his knees. The Craig Cross-trained star was rushed to the Gatton University veterinary section where his legs, especially his knees, were cleaned and treated. “In short, he’s got two badly injured knees,” owner Peter O’Shea said. “The left knee is in a splint and the right one is heavily bandaged. He will spend at least the next two weeks at Gatton University recovering. “The vets think he will be ok as long as there is no infection.” Stable spokesman and regular driver Luke McCarthy said making Bling It On comfortable and giving him every chance to recover was the first priority. “He’s obviously out of the rest of the Winter Carnival, but beyond that time will tell as far as racing again,” he said. The race was Bling It On’s first start since the Miracle Mile at Menangle in late February. Bling It On’s crash was just one ingredient of a truly odd race. The first twist came when experienced driver Chris Petroff, aboard the leader Hokonui Ben, appeared to mistake the laps and go for home when there was still a lap to run. Stewards suspended him for six weeks. Petroff’s drive played a big part in the race being run upside down with a 57.7sec middle half, which suited grand old stayer Avonnova who simply out-toughed his rivals in a 60.1sec last half and 30.6sec closing quarter. The rising 11-year-old Avonnova has posted two wins and two seconds from four runs since being plucked out of retirement by trainer Ian Gurney. Adam Hamilton

Triple Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova proved triumphant in the Listed $25,500 Lucky Creed Open Pace at Albion Park tonight (Saturday) in the most dramatic circumstances. The mobile start 2680m mobile start feature was packed with action, largely owing to the fall of race favourite Bling It On at the home turn. The millionaire pacer was handled for the first time by stand-in driver Mark Jones and was making his move wider on the track before being checked by Watch Pulp Fiction and then falling heavily. Driver Pete McMullen was later suspended for three weeks. Having his first start since being unplaced in the Miracle Mile back on February 25, the Craig Cross trained star was taken off the gate at the start and settled towards the rear of the field while the pace was genuine throughout. Hokonui Ben led the event and repelled challengers from both Ideal Scott and Alleluia before giving ground quickly with a lap remaining. Driver Chris Petroff was later suspended for six weeks. Entering the back straight on the final occasion, Ideal Scott held a narrow lead from his stablemate Avonnova while Alleluia, Joys A Babe, Watch Pulp Fiction and Bling It On sat just off the pace. With many feeling the pressure at the top of the straight, Bling It On looked set to unleash his trademark sprint before coming to grief. Bling It On quickly got to his feet before being attended to by officials before then being sent to the Gatton University for further analysis on his knees. Sadly, his Brisbane winter carnival is now over. At the finish, Avonnova lasted by a 1m from Alleluia while Joys A Babe finished a neck away in third. The mile rate was 1:57.3. “It was tough performance but a race filled with drama, it got a bit crazy at the home turn.” Winning driver Shane Graham said. It was back to back victories in the Lucky Creed for the Ian Gurney trained free-legged star after winning last year in a nail biting finish over Ultimate Art. The ten-year-old Art Major gelding has now banked more than $900,000 in prizemoney and is exempt from ballot in the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Next week, the Listed $25,500 Wondais Mate will be staged over the 1660m. Hoofnote; Driver Shane Graham was suspended for two weeks for his drive aboard The Charging Moa from the $15,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final, race two on the program. Chris Barsby

The Queensland winter working holiday for harness racing trainer driver Mark Jones is off to a great start. And that’s before it actually starts. The former world driving champion touched down on Brisbane soil last Sunday night and greeted his pair of troops in Delightful Memphis and Kowhai Monarch on Monday morning. Both Delightful Memphis and Kowhai Monarch travelled by road from Sydney and took no harm while classy mare Rocker Band remained behind to contest the Gr.3 $31,800 Garrards Frith Stakes at TABCORP Park, Menangle on Saturday before heading north. Jones heads to Albion Park this Saturday night and looks likely to strike early. “We’re off to a good start and both horses have arrived in good shape and look ready to kick-off their Brisbane campaign this weekend. Both have come up with good draws and should prove very competitive, obviously it’s hard to line up the form of the rivals but I’m told they look well placed.” Jones said. Classy filly Delightful Memphis is the ace in the pack for Jones and will chase the Listed $25,000 Egmont Park Stud Provincial Oaks at Albion Park on July 1 before starting in the Gr.2 $75,000 Queensland Oaks the following week. A last start runner-up behind arch rival and freakish filly Spanish Armada in the Gr.1 $150,000 Diamond on Jewels day at Ashburton in 1:52.1 on June 3 will start from gate three in the final event, the APHRC Winter Carnival Begins July 1 Mares Pace over the 1660m. Boasting a record of 6 wins and 15 minor placings from 22 starts to date, Delightful Memphis has finished as runner-up behind Spanish Armada on ten occasions. It was expected Spanish Armada was also Brisbane bound before injury forced a change of plans. And that news has Jones with an extra spring in his step. “Look it’s very disappointing for connections and fans alike that we won’t see this super filly competing but it certainly gives us a chance of securing a big race victory. The whole reason for this trip for us was to pick up an Oaks title and when it was announced that she was also coming, we certainly had reservations. “You can’t run and hide forever and obviously we made the trek across the ditch, we’re here now and things have certainly fallen in our favour. This run this weekend will have her ready for her two main targets. “We’ve been so close in many major events this season but it would be great to end her three-year-old term with an Oaks victory, I think she deserves it.” An added bonus for Jones this weekend is securing the drive behind millionaire pacer and Craig Cross trained Bling It On in the Listed $25,000 Lucky Creed Open Pace. The Hunter Cup winner resumes and is being readied for the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint on July 8 followed a week later by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake. “I wasn’t expecting this drive, it came as a real shock and I’m quite humbled by it actually, he’s a mighty horse with a great following. “He’s had a couple of trials and looks nicely drawn off the front-line (gate 5) but there looks to be a number of hardened runners in the field.” Regular reinsman Luke McCarthy has elected to remain in Sydney where he has a number of key bookings including the richly talented three-year-old colt Vincent for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in a semi-final of the Breeders Challenge series. Chris Barsby

Former World Driving Champion Mark Jones is headed to Brisbane for the winter carnival. And the star harness racing horseman will bring a talented trio to the Sunshine State. Spearheading his team is the richly talented three-year-old filly Delightful Memphis, a last start runner-up behind archrival Spanish Armada in the Gr.1 $150,000 Diamond on Jewels day at Ashburton last Saturday. It was the 10th time Delightful Memphis has filled that role against her nemesis during her career. And while Delightful Memphis has beaten Spanish Armada this season, it’s quickly developed into one of New Zealand’s great rivalries in recent times. Delightful Memphis touched down in Sydney today (Wednesday) and will complete her journey to Brisbane this weekend. “The Brisbane trip has been on the radar for some time and while it’s likely Spanish Armada is now headed this way too, we’re going to stick solid and give it another shot. It might be different on neutral ground and with a more aggressive racing style this time around.” Jones said. The Bettors Delight filly will race on Saturday week (June 17) at Albion Park before taking in the $25,000 Provincial Oaks (July 1) followed by the $75,000 Queensland Oaks (July 8). Boasting a record of 6 wins and 14 seconds from 22 starts, Delightful Memphis has paced a lifetime best time of 1:51.9 this season when successful at Wairio. “Her season has been very good with the exception of running into Spanish Armada far too many times, I thought her run was very good in the Jewels and probably a little stiff not to hold the lead which put us one extra spot back on the inside. Her effort to make ground on the other filly in a 25.5 final quarter was quite unbelievable. “She’s come through that race really well and the trip away shouldn’t worry her, she’s a seasoned traveler and should actually thrive on the Australian style of racing. I’ve driven at Albion Park and they don’t back off, I think that will suit my filly. “Obviously barrier draws will play a huge part in the race but I’m confident my filly can turn the tables on Spanish Armada. I think it will be rather interesting in the coming weeks.” Jones is also sending proven Group One winning mare Rocker Band and last start TABCORP Park, Menangle winner Kowhai Monarch to Brisbane. Rocker Band, a regally bred daughter of Rocknroll Hanover from the New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, will trial tonight (Wednesday) at Bathurst under the watchful eye of Ashlee Grives. At her most recent start, Rocker Band finished second behind star performer The Orange Agent in the Gr.1 $100,000 Queen of the Pacific at TABCORP Park, Melton on May 20. Jones has a number of options for Rocker Band during her Brisbane campaign. The last time Jones competed in Brisbane was back in 2013 when successful aboard Caesar Augustus in the Albion Park Invitational Drivers Championship. Chris Barsby

Senorita Margarita broke a fourteen year old track and Southland harness racing record when she won at Ascot Park yesterday. The three year old filly by Vintage Master has only been in the south for six weeks after being leased out of Mark Jones stable. Her 2-46.5 for the 2200 metre stand bettered Precious Title’s 2-47.1 set in 2003. The time also created a new all-comers record. Now trained by Kirstin Barclay, Senorita Margarita began well and lead all the way for stable driver Andrew Suddaby. “She stepped good. We weren’t too sure how she would go from a stand because both of her workouts had been from the mobile. I got her on the right foot and she went away good,” he said. Suddaby was quick to assess the situation and with Spoilsport on his back - the rest of the field split into two bunches and strung out, he didn’t allow the chasers to make up any significant ground. “I didn’t think I was going that quick but running 2-46 is probably why they were strung out. I had a look a few times and we were (the first two) out by a wee way so I just kept the pedal to the metal and it worked in the end.” The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Ideal Art running second. Senorita Margarita winning        - Photo Bruce Stewart “At the top of the straight I thought the others were going to get past me. She may have knocked off a bit and was waiting on the others. If we’d gone another 100 metres I still think she would have held them out (anyway).” Senorita Margarita is out of the nineteen win Holmes Hanover mare Oaxaca Lass. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

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