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Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety has joined Patumahoe’s Geoff Small as NZ’s most successful trainers of Group One Breeders Crown Final winners after Katy Perry’s hard fought success in last Sunday’s $A297,000 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Both have achieved five Breeders Crown Final successes in the specialised two-four age group categories, just one ahead of NZ’s premier trainer Mark Purdon. Cran Dalgety’s growing list of ABC Grand Final winners is: Sparks A Flyin (2001 3YO fillies), Smiling Shard (2009 2YO colts/geldings), Bit Of A Legend (2012-13 3YO colts/geldings) and Katy Perry (2014 2YO fillies). Former world champion driver Mark Jones partnered Sparks A Flyin. Current NZ champion Dexter Dunn has driven the stable runners since 2009. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is challenging as NZ’s most successful trainer at the Breeders Crown, taking into account his additional three Grand Final seconds _ Smiling Shard (2010 3YO colts/geldings), Onlyforyou (2012 2YO fillies) and Bit Of A Legend (2014 4YO entires/geldings). Northern-based, but Canterbury-raised Geoff Small, set the early pace among the Kiwis. Small’s ABC Pacing Grand Final winners are: Pullover Brown (2003 3YO Fillies), Changeover (2007 3YO Colts/geldings), Tintin In America (2009 3YO Colts/geldings), De Lovely (2010 3YO Fillies) and Cowgirls N Indians (2011 2YO Fillies). He also has a Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA (open class race) to his credit, with All Tiger in 2009. Recuperating Cambridge driver David Butcher has partnered all but one of Small’s ABC winners. Templeton driver Anthony Butt partnered Pullover Brown for her ABC win after also driving her to win the NZ Oaks that season.  Anthony Butt, a close second driving Joanne’s A Delight in last Sunday’s 2YO Fillies Final, also won the 1998 ABC 3YO Fillies Final driving Under Cover Lover, Mark Purdon, who gained early ABC Final training successes with Galleons Assassin (2005 2YO trot) and Fly Like An Eagle (2012 3YO colts/geldings), doubled his quota when (My) Ayra (2YO fillies trot) and Follow The Stars (2YO colts/geldings) delivered last Sunday. His additional driving win with (Our) Twentyten (who he formerly trained) in the 3YO trot final on Sunday, makes him jointly NZ’s top driver in the 2-4YO age group catergories, with David Butcher, who besides the Small-trained winners, also reined Miami H to win the 2010 3YO trot final for trainers Derek Balle and Owen Gillies. Victorian trotting training master Chris Lang is the most successful Breeders Crown trainer with seven wins. His successes, all in ABC trot finals, are: Kyvalley Road (2002-03 2 & 3YO trot), Right Interest (2006 3YO trot), Skyvalley (2008-09 3 & 4YO trot) and Let Me Thru (2009-10 3 & 4YO trot). Lang has also added three Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA wins, a race for open class trotters, with former champ, Sundons Gift (2007-08 & 2010). Lang’s brother, champion Victorian reinsman Gavin, although winless at the Breeders Crown this year, remains the most successful driver in Breeders Crown Finals, with 10 successes. Courtsey Of Cran Dalgety Racing

Australian harness racing fans...You have been warned! Not only will Follow The Stars be back next season, he will be better, stronger, faster.   Okay, Six Million Dollar Man reference aside, that was the call from New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon, who believes Follow The Stars will improve following a good break.   Having proven himself the Southern Hemisphere’s premier freshman, Follow The Stars is poised for  a stellar campaign as a three-year-old. Not only will he tackle the various majors on the Shaky Isles, he will return across the Tasman for several features such as the Victoria and New South Wales Derbys.   Purdon also plans to be back at Tabcorp Park Melton for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown – a race  Follow The Stars made his own last Sunday. “There is something special about this horse,” Purdon declared. “He has a real X-factor about him. “I would say he is more than up with the best two-year-olds I’ve trained...he is the best. “He will go home and have about eight to 10 weeks off now, then I’ll get him ready for our Derbys at home. “After that he will be back in Australia for the Derbys and the Breeders’ Crown again.”   Purdon’s “he is the best” statement is huge considering the outstanding two-year-olds he has  prepared. Headed by Il Vicolo and Light And Sound, the list includes Fly Like An Eagle, Lennon, Major Mark, Mr Nickel and The Court Owl – all multiple feature race winners.   As for Purdon’s plans, they represent a bleak season for Aussies as Follow The Stars already boasts an unblemished record from six mainland starts. Furthermore, the latest was the colt’s most impressive. Pushed forward from the outside of the front row, Follow The Stars worked to the lead as his talented stablemate, Kept Under Wraps was eased to take a trail. Never in danger of being beaten, the son of Art Major provided Purdon with an ‘armchair’ drive as he cruised to a soft five-metre win from Kept Under Wraps. My Field Marshall, which was three-wide without cover from the bell, was seven metres away third.   “That was a great run,” Purdon said. “I couldn’t have scripted it any better. “After he got to the front without doing too much work he was never going to be beaten. “He just did it so easy and had plenty in reserve at the finish.” Covering the last half in 55.7 seconds, the two-year-old rated 1:56.7 for the 2240 metres.   Raced by similar connections to Kept Under Wraps, Follow The Stars extended his record to an  impeccable 10 wins from 11 starts for earnings of $455,410.   Paul Courts    

Harness racing needs its pin up stars and there’s no bigger star at the moment in Australasia than Follow The Stars. Punters backed Follow The Stars into $1:10 after a brilliant semi final win at Ballarat last Saturday. One punter dropped $50,000 on Follow The Stars at that money and he would have had few worries during the running. The Mark Purdon trained son of Art Major was at his brilliant best today at Tabcorp Park Melton, taking out the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Final for two-year-olds. Working straight to the lead despite an outside-front-row draw, Follow The Stars controlled the race like he has done nine times before (from 10 career starts -- and his only defeat came in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand when he got knocked over, so he arguably he should have a perfect record). Follow The Stars cruised home by 4.9 metres over stablemate Kept Under Wraps for Greg Sugars, while My Field Marshall, from the Tim Butt stables, made it a trifecta for the Kiwis. While the Kiwi trainers dominated the race, there was a strong Australian connection with the winner – with Lauriston Bloodstock having bred the winner. Follow The Stars recorded a winning mile rate of 1:56.7, finishing off with a smart 55.7secs for the last half-mile. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Harness racing driver Mark Purdon has paid tribute to Brent Lilley after winning the Pegasus Spur @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Final with Our Twentyten. The Kiwi horseman, who has driven three Group 1 winners today at Tabcorp Park Melton, said Lilley had done a super job with Our Twentyten, who is by Muscles Yankee out of Regal Volo. “Credit to Brent,” he said. “He’s got him absolutely spot on for today and he’s done a fantastic job.” Our Twentyten started $1.70 favourite on the tote but had his work cut out for him rounding the home turn when pole marker and pacesetter Bad Habbott, who ran a mighty race, kicked clear. Purdon took Our Twentyten back behind the leader at the final bend before peeling out again and overpowering the Russell Commens trained son of Sundon in the last 150m. “He tested me on the corner and I dropped in but by the time we straightened up he felt good again,” said Purdon. Lilley said he was thrilled to notch the Group 1. “He’s done a super job since we’ve had him. I’m grateful to Mark for the opportunity,” he said. “He’ll go for a well-deserved spell now.” Asdenro ran third for Haydon Gray, while Master Hugh was fourth for Chris Svanosio. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racing has a new star as the best two-year-old trotting filly in Australasia My Arya scored a dominant win in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton today. The Mark Purdon trained and driven daughter of Angus Hall worked to the front early before getting headed by Meadow Valley Road and Chris Alford from gate 11. Purdon wasn’t having a bar of losing the lead though, the New Zealand superstar horseman yanking his star filly away from the pegs and cruising back to the front. From there she simply dictated the terms with sectionals of 32.5, 32.5, 29.1 and 29 to romp to a 16m victory over Meadow Valley Road, which ran a big race, and pole marker Glenferrie Burn. It could be a big day for Purdon, who also has Follow The Stars, Big Lucy and Our Twentyten all still to come in finals today. David Aiken trained the runner up, while Jodi Quinlan drove the third horse for Parwan trainer Geoff Walker. The winner paid $1.20 on the tote. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Harness racings big day on Sunday at Melton has drawn great fields throughout most of the divisions and the 3 year old trotters are no exception. 3 Year Old Trotters Breeders Crown Final Unlike the two year old trotters where the fillies and colts are separated, at three they are all thrown in together which is a real shame. The other disappointing thing in this years three year old final is the absence of the top Kiwi three year old trotters such as King Denny and Majestic Time but I suppose you can't be everywhere in a long season. In our view in this years final there are really only four winning chances and we deal with those one by one. First up is Our Twentyten who has drawn nicely at barrier four. A serious contender in the classics in New Zealand before his sale to Australia to clients of Brent Lilley, Our Twentyten has quickly established himself as one of the best three year old trotters  in his adopted land. His previous trainer Mark Purdon takes the drive on Sunday which in our view is another tick for Our Twentyten. Our Twentyten does have real gate speed and we expect Mark Purdon to try to grab the lead early and dictate the tempo of the race. The big danger is undoubtedly Claudys Princess who has drawn awkwardly at two on the second line. She has finished either first or second in all of her 13 starts at three and a lot of those starts have been at Group or Listed level. The danger is Claudys Princess is not in complete control of her own destiny from the second line but with the master Gavin Lang in the bike she can overcome the draw. Her last win over Asdenro was an arrogant performance which shows she is right at the top of her game at the moment.  The enigma of the race is without doubt the Kiwi  One Over Da Moon who has drawn barrier five and who has been in the Chris Lang barn for a couple of months now. When he is good he is very good and when he is bad he is awful about sums up One Over Da Moon. Can throw the toys out at times such as the Redwood Classic where he just self destructed and he did the same thing in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand as well but there is no doubting the ability is there. One Over Da Moon was eased out of the gate the last time he raced at  Maryborough before finding the front and that was due to the fact he can over race if you chase him out of the gate which makes his job at  Group One level that much harder. The last of the quartet we fancy is Asdenro who has drawn barrier three. Asdenro has finished in the first three in 11 of 13 starts at three but has been unable to win since he starting racing in the Group and Listed races. He is competitive but just half a length off the top trotters in this division. Asdenro is a free going type who likes to lead but that tends to make him a sitting duck for the likes of Our Twentyten and Claudys Princess who have such high speed. If he burns the gate in trying to hold out Our Twentyten then in our view he can't win the final as the favoured pair have that small class edge. His best chance of winning this race is if the two favourites go to war and he runs over the top of them late in the piece.  SELECTIONS This is a very close call but we think the draw gives Our Twentyten the edge over Claudys Princess but there is not much in it. One Over Da Moon needs to bring his "A' game to be a chance and we think the other two are going just a touch better than him at the moment although his class will always make him a threat. Asdenro needs a few things to happen for him to win but the determination is certainly there. Throw in Bad Habbott, Four Lillies and Lightning Calder for first fours Harnesslink Media

2 Year Old Pacing Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final. There is never any such thing as a certainty in harness racing but Follow The Stars is about as close as you can get when you are assessing the 2 year old colts/geldings division of this years Breeders Crown Final. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, this Victorian bred son of Art Major is nine from ten this season with his only miss coming when he was completely wiped out when mounting a run in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in New Zealand. Although Follow The Stars has drawn wide at six, (emergency out) it is a draw that gives his driver Mark Purdon plenty of options early. Throughout the season he has won from in front and from off the pace so he doesn't need to lead to win and with such a quality all round game it is hard to see him being rolled. The biggest danger the way the draws have panned out is the stable mate of Follow The Stars in Kept Under Wraps. This New South Wales bred son of Bettor's Delight has won five from eight this season and his run for second in the semi final after being brought to a standstill early and then working overtime for the rest of the race was really top class. Having drawn barrier three, Kept Under Wraps who is to be driven by top reinsman Greg Sugars looks a likely leader from the draw and then has the option to to either park Follow The Stars or take a trail behind him. Either way Kept Under Wraps is a must for multiple players. From there this race becomes a bit of a nightmare with the pick of the rest of the runners all drawing on the second line. If Follow The Stars runs home in 55 and change in the final as he did in the semi final, then those back in the field will struggle to make ground as we saw at Ballarat on Saturday night. Several horses in Follow The Stars semi final looked slightly disappointing but you can't make a lot of ground up when they are going that quick off the front. So we decided to plump for class in our selections but there are so many variables the way the draw has worked out that some of the other runners off the front line may fill a minor placing on Sunday. Burnaholeinmypocket went super in his semi final but the draw negates his gatespeed and he needs a bit of luck from three on the second line. Birdy Mach has the worst possible draw of one on the second line which could see him settle well back but he is a high class juvenile so a big run would not surprise. Selections. Follow The Stars in one. Kept Under Wraps is just as easily second for us from the draw with Burnaholeinmypocket and Birdy Mach next on class not their draws. After that it becomes hard to predict but we thought both Controversial and Artistic Flite went super in the semi finals. 2 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the draw came out, the Mark Purdon trained Linda Lovegrace looked very hard to beat but since she has drawn one on the second line, the race suddenly looks a lot more even with the filly drawn in front of her in The Final Frontier a certainty to get crossed at the start which will leave Linda Lovegrace needing luck from back on the inner. Her main opponent in the final is fellow Kiwi Kate Perry who has drawn barrier four which is perfect for her and with Dexter Dunn driving in career best form, this combination now looks the one they all have to beat. Another Kiwi in the form of the Mach Three filly Cyclone Kate has drawn barrier five and looms as a big winning chance after her big run for second to Linda Lovegrace from second last at the 800 meters mark on Saturday night in the semi final. Yet another Kiwi in Joannes A Delight came from five on the second line in her semi final to push Kate Perry to half a neck in her first run for over five weeks so she will have derived a lot of benefit from her semi final run. Chris Alford has picked up the plum drive on the New South Wales bred Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon barn but four on the second line has meant she is going to need a touch of luck from out there.  Selections The draw means that Kate Perry has got the easiest road to the winners circle of all of the favoured runners. Dexter Dunn was keen to keep Big Lucy in the pocket last week and that meant that Kate Perry was not completely let down so she looks the one to us. Joanne's A Delight is a clear second pick for us even from the draw while Cyclone Kate and Big Lucy are genuine winning chances. So that brings us to Linda Lovegrace and we are not sure how to rate her. If she can clear the traffic in front of her then she is the horse to beat but from one second row with a horse in front of you that is going to get crossed it is a lot easier said than done.  However her run for second to Follow The Stars two starts back was outstanding with the last 400 meters in 26.3 so don't discard her chances of rolling over the top of this field if she gets the right run. Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink, we thought we would be brave and offer our opinion on the Breeders Crown Finals as we head towards one of the seasons biggest harness racing days at Melton on Sunday. Our first preview is of the 2 year old trotters division.  2 year old Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park final for 2 year old fillies looks to be a battle between three fillies that are all sired via frozen semen and are all by stallions that are at the top of the siring charts in North America. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained daughter of Angus Hall in Arya looks very hard to beat here after an outstanding season in New Zealand which was followed up by a great second to the leading Australian male trotter in Eljaykay Phoenix in the Redwood Classic. Arya has been foolproof all season which in the 2 year old trotting ranks is a major plus and with no Endsino in the field she looks to have a class edge as well. Arya should come into five on the front line which is the perfect draw for here as she can stay out of the early rush and work to the lead without having to burn from the gate. The two main dangers to Arya have both drawn nicely on the front line and are both beautifully bred trotters. Glenferrie Burn who has drawn one is a daughter of the brilliant Muscle Hill from the 16 win Sundon mare in Adellas Dash ($102,626). She has developed as the season has progressed and looks a real chance from the draw to get a soft run. Val Gardena who has drawn three is a daughter of leading North American sire Kadabra from an Andover Hall mare. She has only missed a placing once this season in ten starts and comes into this race a last start winner. From her handy draw Blake Fitzpatrick has plenty of options with Val Gardena and she looks a major player here. Of the others Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty have both shown enough to be serious place chances but its hard to see them as genuine winning chances. Selections Arya clearly on top, followed by a combination of Val Gardena, Glenferrie Burn, Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty. 2 year old Trotting Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park Final for 2 year old colts/geldings has drawn a cracking field and the draw has only evened out the contest even more.  All the top contenders have drawn the front line with the favourite Eljaykay Phoenix fearing the worst with barrier seven. A son of champion sire Sundon, Eljaykay Phoenix has looked a class above them for most of the season but his recent defeat by Shared Interest has thrown this division wide open. Throw in his draw and the fact that all the real challengers have drawn inside him means if Eljaykay Phoneix and Joshua Aiken are going to win the final, they are going to have to do it the hard way. His main challenger is the son of Angus Hall in Shared Interest who has drawn beautifully at barrier two which gives Nathan Jack plenty of options Weather he tries to park Eljaykay Phoenix or takes a sit on his back, Shared Interest has the all round game to win the final. The chances don't end there with both Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck capable of toppling the favoured duo if things go their way. Illawong Armstrong finally gets a good draw and Jodi Quinlan will be hoping that the favoured pair go to war which then brings her horse right into play. The enigma of the field is The Pres gelding Primz Luck whose ring craft has let him down lately but who has ability to burn as he showed in New Zealand several times. Now in the Kerryn Manning barn and to be driven by her in the final, Primz Luck threw it away on his Australian debut in the Redwood Classic. Kerryn has had five weeks since then to iron out those kinks and if he gets around on Sunday they will all know they have been to the races. Selections. Can't split the two favourites in Shared Interest and Eljaykay Phoenix due to the draws but lean a bit towards Eljaykay Phoneix on his overall record. Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck are both live chances depending how the race is run. Throw in Kyvalley Boomerang, Fabrication and Hadrians Phoenix for trifectas and first fours.  Harnesslink Media    

Queensland pacers Alleluia and Majestic Mach are both facing their Everest. Both are prepared by leading horseman Grant Dixon. On Sunday, his pair of stablestars Alleluia and Majestic Mach must overcome shocking second-line draws to win their respective Australasian Breeders Crown finals at TABCORP Park, Melton. Alleluia will contest the $213,000 Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series Final for three-year-old colts and geldings, the glamour division where he faces the likes of Bling It On and Our Sky Major among others. The Art Major gelding finished a gallant second in his semi-final last week at Ballarat behind in-form pacer Major Crocker after working throughout. Alleluia will start from gate twelve on Sunday afternoon while Bling It On has drawn ideally in gate three with Our Sky Major landing gate thirteen. Raced by Queensland Harness Racing Board Chairman Greg Mitchell after being purchased from the Mark Purdon stables mid-season, the talented pacer is yet to disappoint his new owner. “He’s been terrific since he headed our way and I was really pleased with his effort last week. Obviously the barrier draw is unkind but that’s racing, you win some and you lose some but it’s just great to be part of the series.” Mitchell said. Alleluia has quickly become the forgotten horse in the final since the barrier draw was conducted last Sunday afternoon but his form lines can’t be questioned. During the recent Brisbane winter carnival at Albion Park, Alleluia chased home Bling It On in the Queensland Derby, Gold Coast Derby plus the Futurity before gaining revenge in the heat of the Breeders Crown. “We’ve seen plenty of Bling It On in recent times and we know what we’re up against but we also know that we can beat him too which is comforting, however, Alleluia is yet to beat home Our Sky Major and they’ve met on a few occasions in New Zealand. “Looking back at our semi-final performance last weekend, I was really pleased with his effort and his sectionals were impressive and Grant said he had a good blow after the race meaning there should be more improvement this week. “The barrier draw was interesting on Sunday; with three horses remaining (Alleluia, Bling It On and Our Sky Major) and gates three, twelve and thirteen up for grabs, we ended up with twelve while connections of Our Sky Major chose the trophy with thirteen underneath it leaving Bling It On with gate three. Let’s hope we can have some luck on our side when we meet this Sunday.” Gambling giant TattsBet has Alleluia rated as a $14 chance. Like Alleluia, former glamour juvenile Majestic Mach has also drawn gate twelve. The Mach Three gelding qualified for the $100,000 Empire Stallions 4yo Entires and Geldings Final after running a brave third in the heat last Sunday at Melton behind Tasmanian ace Pachacuti and noted speedster Chilli Palmer after racing without cover. Raced by his breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour, Majestic Mach is still chasing his maiden interstate success. Majestic Mach is a $16 chance with TattsBet. Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland  

Harness racing often throws up great contests when the Kiwis and Australians meet in battle but the Breeders Crown semis at Ballarat tonight were very one sided with the Kiwis in complete control. In the first semi final, Linda Lovegrace was sent straight to the front by Mark Purdon from barrier four and dictated a solid tempo from the start.  Niki No No worked early from barrier five to get up outside Linda Lovegrace but then proceeded to badly over race with a 29 quarter outside the leader as Greg Sugars fought to get her to settle. Given more reign as they turned for home Linda Lovegrace shot away but then had to withstand a huge finish from the other Kiwi in the race in Cyclone Kate but had enough in reserve to hold on by a length. Linda Lovegrace paced the 2200 meters in 2:41.5, a mile rate of 1:58.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 27.7 Cyclone Kate was sent forward three wide from the 600 meters and to get as close as she did was a big effort and she is a filly that has really improved in the last few weeks. Lettucesomewhere lobbed the trail from barrier one and battled on for third while Niki No No stuck on bravely for fourth after pulling her head off most of the way. The first two looked a class above the competition and both will approach the final with some confidence. Linda Lovegrace In the second semi final Big Lucy and Mark Purdon grabbed an early lead from barrier three before handing up to Kate Perry and Dexter Dunn from barrier four. There was a lot of early moves from the back in this heat and when the dust settled, Joannes A Delight with Anthony Butt in the bike was in the death seat outside Kate Perry with Soho Tokyo on her back. Dexter and Kate Perry snuck a quiet quarter down the back and then brushed home in 27.1 to hold out a game Joannes A Delight by half a neck with Big Lucy finishing third after being unable to clear the pocket. Soho  Tokyo was unable to get clear until late in the race and finished fourth and the same applies to Bamako Mali who finished fifth. Kate Perry paced the 2200 meters in 2:41, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27.1. Joannes A Delight was game in defeat after doing a truck load of work while Big Lucy was going double with no where to go in the straight. The first three home were all Kiwis and after the two semis, the  Kiwis would appear to have a stranglehold on the 2 year old fillies division. Kate Perry Harnesslink Media 

The first semi final for 2 year old colts/geldings at Ballarat for harness racings holy grail, the Breeders Crown was full of incident. Artistic Flite led out from barrier four only to gallop after 100 meters and drift back through the field. Burnaholeinmypocket grabbed an early lead from barrier five and then handed up to Show Me The Bling who went forward from barrier seven. While all this was going on Kept Under Wraps had been badly checked from one on the second line and settled well back  but once balanced again Mark Purdon sent him forward three wide and he found the death seat with a lap and a half to travel outside of Show Me The Bling. This trio stayed in that order for the next lap until nearing the home turn when Kate Gath on Burnaholeinmypocket pushed Kept Under Wraps out and sprinted away for an easy win. It was the Bettor's Delight geldings third win from just six starts and brought him right into contention for next weeks final. He paced the 2200 in 2:41.1, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28. Kept Under Wraps, after looking beaten on the corner rallied in the straight to claim second off Show Me The Bling with Artistic Flite getting home well for fourth. Kept Under Wraps lost no admirers with a gutsy run for second while both Show Me The Bling and Artistic Flight both did enough to suggest they could grab some of the money on finals day. Burnaholeinmypocket The second semi final for 2 year old colts/ geldings was a showcase for the talents of the brilliant Follow The Stars. Sent straight to the front from barrier three by Mark Purdon, Follow The Stars kept up a solid tempo in front and when Mark Purdon let him go at the top of the lane it was all over. He bolted away for an emphatic win by four and a quarter lengths with Stening who had trailed from the start from barrier one running second and Mojo Major who started from one second line battled on for third. Birdy Mach got well out of his ground and finished up sixth and made the final but will need a big turn around in a week to be a major player in the final. It was the eight win from nine starts for the son of Art Major and ensured he will start favourite in next weeks final. Follow The Stars paced the 2200 meters in 2:40, a mile rate of 1:57 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 27. Follow The Stars Harnesslink Media

Most of the Kiwi trainers of this weekends Breeders Crown semi final runners will sleep well tonight after the fields for the harness racing meeting at Ballarat on Saturday night (August 16th) were released this afternoon. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen must have wondered what they had done to get such great draws with their two main chances on Saturday night. Follow The Stars has drawn beautifully at barrier three in his semi in which his main dangers in Birdy Mach and Field Marshall have both drawn awkwardly on the second line. Linda Lovegrace, who created such a big impression on her Australian debut when narrowly going down to Follow The Stars last weekend, has drawn a lovely gate at four in her semi with her main opposition Niki No No drawn outside her at five. Another Kiwi Cyclone Kate has drawn two on the second line in the same heat which is a draw that really suits her as she is much better coming off a horses back.  If the ballot comes out in the second semi final for 2 year old fillies, then Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn will start from three and the Cran Dalgety trained Kate Perry from four which should give both a big show of qualifying for the final. Joannes A Delight is one of the few Kiwis to have drawn badly at four on the second line in the same heat but she showed in New Zealand she is a high class filly who can do a lot of work in her races so it wouldn't pay to discount her chances even from the draw. Barry Purdon's star 3 year old Sky Major has drawn a great gate at three in the second semi final for the 3 year old colts and geldings with the likely favourite for that division Bling It On awkwardly drawn at three on the second line which makes for a very intriguing contest. Kept Under Wraps from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn has drawn at two on the second line in the first semi final for 2 year old colts and geldings with most of the serious competition in this semi drawn wide on the front line so it is hard to know how it will pan out but Kept Under Wraps still looks the horse they all have to beat. Messini has been another in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rrasmussen barn all season until they sent him to Brent Lilley to race in the Victorian Sires Stakes series and it is still in Brent's colours heading into this weekends semi final for 3 year old colts and geldings where from his barrier draw of two he should be terribly hard to beat. All in all the Kiwis would have to very pleased with how the draws have panned out and a finals berth now looks a possibility for most of them. Harnesslink Media

Things just didn’t work out for Glen Craven, Keayang Steamer and the punters who took the short odds about the Terang trained star at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. (August 8th)  Keayang Steamer was a heavily tried favourite, starting $1.50, in the Swift Signs Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton but could only muster a fifth-place finish from his inside back-row draw. Pre-race Craven declared he would be looking to get off the pegs at all costs. “I’m not interested in getting locked up on the fence,” he said. But that's precisely what eventuated. The pacer who beat Smoken Up home to claim the Horsham Cup last campaign was wedged three back along the pegs at the bell. Early on Exciteusinthecity found the lead for junior driver Tim McLean from gate three, easily crossing Hall Of Famer and La Machane. Composed got going early to work around to the breeze from his second-line draw, but Keayang Steamer was not able to get one-off and had to punch through to trail Hall Of Famer. Exciteusinthecity, trained by Darren Cole, was able to get away with 31.6secs and 30.3secs first and second quarters of the last mile, setting the five-year-old gelding up to sprint home in 56.1secs and record his second win in three starts. Hall Of Famer capitalised on a beaut trip behind the leader by running second, albeit beaten 5.6 metres by the winner, while Composed battled on gamely for third. Keayang Steamer (fifth) came in behind fast-finishing Kotare Rowland (fourth) and will need to improve significantly second-up to topple his highly regarded stablemate, Keayang Cullen, in the Breeders Crown Graduate Cup on August 24 should they both head in that direction. Meanwhile, Alison Chisholm enjoyed a red-letter evening with a winning double. The Melton trainer/driver drove Three Pints to victory in the GBL Property Consultants Vicbred Pace (Race 3) before scoring aboard stable star Asoka in the Del-Re National Food Group Pace (Race 5). New Zealand champion Our Sky Major proved far too strong for his maiden-metropolitan rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Pace. The Barry Purdon trained three-year-old son of Art Major is here for the Breeders Crown but enjoyed an easy hit-out at Melton, scoring by 3.7 metres over Wolfpack, with Philtra Phella third. Driver Craig Demmler took Our Sky Major back at the start and he was the best part of 40 metres off the lead at one point over the 1720-metre sprint trip. Down the back the last time Our Sky Major made his move, reinsman Craid Demmler easing the two-time Harness Jewels champion three-wide. Sprinting up with a 28.1secs third quarter, Our Sky Major quickly put the leaders away and shot clear early in the straight to record a 3.7-metre triumph in a mile rate of 2:02.5. Another Kiwi pacer to put her best foot forward was Mark Purdon trained two-year-old Big Lucy, who won the VHRSC 2YO Pace over 1720 metres. Chris Alford, who took driving honours for the night with a winning treble, was content to sit outside early leader Yankee Showgirl before taking Big Lucy 1.2 metres clear over Wegottarocketmachine at the finish, with Yankee Showgirl boxing on for third in a rate of 1:55.7. Alford’s other two winners were aboard ultra-consistent trotter Blitzthemcalder in the Renown Silverware Trot for trainer Craig Demmler, and long odds-on favourite Upanatom in the Mediatec Pace Final for trainer Amanda Grieve. Blitzthemcalder worked his way to the lead mid-race in the trot before outshining Sunset Invasion in the run to the line to score a two-metre win in a rate of 2:00.2. Blitzthemcalder is arguably racing in career-best form. Upanatom did plenty of work to find the lead early in his race, but the son of Christian Cullen still proved panels ahead of his rivals – getting home by 4.1 metres over runner-up Pas Mate, who hit the line hard, and third placegetter Eyes On The Sky. Other winners at Melton were Rostevarren, for trainer Ross Graham and driver Daryl Douglas, in the Geoff and Lorraine Barnes Trot over 1720 metres, Road To Rock, for trainer Keith Cotchin and driver Greg Sugars, in the University Food Group Pacers Handicap over 2240m, and Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Young Modern in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 2240 metres.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

What a great way to start the new harness racing season at Addington on Friday night. (August 8th)  Three $23,500 Alabar Super Series finals have been carded and all three have drawn outstanding fields with numerous chances in each final. The club must be thrilled with the fields as they have put a lot of effort into this series. So we thought we would do a preview of each of the finals. Race 5 - 4 year olds + older C1-C4 over 1950 meters. With the preferential draw in operation the three main chances in this final have all drawn poorly but still look to have a class edge on their opposition. Major Bubbles has won eight from nine to date and looks to have the all round game to claim this race even from the outside gate of nine. Having Dexter in the bike is a big plus with both horse and driver being in great form of late. The Purdon + Rasmussen pair of Someardensomewhere and Vice Consul are both huge chances with both being in sublime form. Someardensomewhere has won five and been placed eight times in just seventeen starts in the best company and Natalie Rasmussen has been in great touch for the last twelve months. One second line is not a great draw but Natalie in the bike negates that and he looms as a live chance. Vice Consul went through a rough patch a while back but has won three of his last four and the horses he beat in his last two in Madiba Magic and Mighty Major have both gone on to win their next start. He lacks nothing in the driver stakes either with Mark Purdon in the bike and from two on the second line he has more options than his stablemate. Selections  Just because she has been driving in such unbelievable form for so long, we have gone for Someardensomewhere and Natalie to come out on top. Major Bubbles and Vice Consul for the minors with Provocative Prince the next in line. Race 7 - 5 year old + older C1-C5 Discretionary 2600 Meters stand. Another outstanding form race with the four most tightly assessed trotters off the back mark of 20 meters. Although there are numerous trotters in good form off the front and 10 meters marks, the four trotters off 20 meters hold a distinct class edge over their rivals. Idle Bones has won five of her last six and looks headed for open class in a hurry. Brent Mangos , who has driven her in her recent starts in the North Island has treked south for the drive which is a big plus. Free Dreams has been in great touch and is better off this week being off level marks with his main rivals which he hasn't been the case in his last few starts. Johnny Cox has him humming and he is a major player. Spell has always looked a open class trotter in the making and with three wins in her last six starts she is finally starting to fulfill her potential. She can't make her own luck and does need a sit but can be lethal if she gets the run to suit and Sam Ottley and Spell seem to get on well together. Jayceekay was one of the finds in the trotting ranks in the latter part of last season. Johnny Boylan has done a great job of getting the Monkey Bones mare to relax and learn a bit of ringcraft and she looks capable of winning a few more yet. Selections Tough call but Idle Bones is in such great form it is hard to go past her. Of the other three we fancy, we rate Free Dreams a fraction ahead of Spell and Jayceekay. Aile Rouge from the Robbie Holmes stable looks the pick of the rest. Race 8 - 4 year+older C0-C3 1950 meters The third of three great races on the night and yet again with the preferential barrier draw in operation the better assessed horses have drawn poorly. Dalton Bromac has impressed everyone since Benny Hill brought him out of the Butcher barn a few months back. A winner of four from seven, he reeled off a half of 54.7 last week at the end of a quick 2600 meters which makes him awfully hard to roll here. Ricky May has stuck with the ship which only raises the confidence levels even more. The danger for us is Mighty Major which has come on in leaps and bounds in his last two starts. Two starts back he was stuck three wide from the 600 meters in a quickly run race over 1950 and only went under by a nose to Vice Consul with Dalton Bromac third. At his last start, he looped the field early from a second row draw and held on in a quick time for 2600 meters. Blair Orange takes the drive and the Barron/Orange combination is already proving to be a winning one. Explosive Art has been in great touch and but for drawing the outside of the front line may have proved a handful for the other two we like. Selections We really can't separate Dalton Bromac and Mighty Major in this one although there will be a big difference tote wise. Blair Orange is driving like a man possessed since joining the Ken Barron barn and that might be enough to even the contest up. Explosive Art has to come into calculations along with Lord Baltimore and Ideal Act for the minors. All in all, three great fields to help kick off the 2014/2015 season at Addington. Harnesslink Media          

When Bulla harness racing trainer Kerry O’Riley entered Ourboyjay in Saturday night’s Goldfields Catering 2YO Pace at Bendigo, he was under the impression his gelded son of Village Jolt would be a fair show of recording a second win at career start number seven. The pacer scored an impressive win at Yarra Valley two starts back in a 2C0 event before a luckless eighth of 11 at cricket-score odds in the Tatlow Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton when he got carted back at a vital stage. But O’Riley was shocked when he realised who his competition would be in Saturday night’s $6,505 race -- none other than Australasia’s best two-year-old Follow The Stars and his highly rated stablemate Linda Lovegrace. Both Follow The Stars and Linda Lovegrace are trained by Mark Purdon and will be using Saturday’s race as a hit-out ahead of the rich Breeders Crown series. For good measure, another Kiwi in My Field Marshall – who has won three from six and hails from the smart Tim Butt camp in Christchurch – will also line up on Saturday night. “It’s a lot stronger a field than I thought it might be,” O’Riley chuckled. “Let’s just hope he can run a personal best on Saturday night. It’d be the stuff of fairy tales to think you could beat Follow The Stars.” But Daryl Douglas, who drives Ourboyjay, is somewhat more upbeat about the horse’s chances, according to O’Riley, even if it was just Douglas’ natural optimism shining through. “Daryl’s always pretty optimistic but he said to me, ‘If you’re not in it, you can’t win it’,” O’Riley said. While simply hoping for a positive run this weekend, O’Riley believes Ourboyjay will develop further next season. “He’ll make a better three-year-old and he hasn’t much luck as a two-year-old,” he said. “He locked wheels in the Vicbred semi-final and got knocked over on the top turn and then in the Tatlow he got caught behind a tiring horse.” Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria   Related Links Fields for Bendigo, Saturday 09 August 2014 Form guide for Bendigo, Saturday 09 August 2014  

Duane Marfisi  has not been that long in New Zealand and he is already off to Australia. He left All Stars on Thursday to look after FOLLOW THE STARS and LINDA LOVEGRACE who  went earlier in the day and it is a measure of the regard in which he is held that there was no hesitation in the assignment. Not that Duane lacks qualifications. In fact he must be the best credentialled stablehand in Australasia. Many with his background might be looking for higher honours and recognition but Duane can't fault life as he has it now. He came here about six months ago because his wife, Janet, had gained a position at the Christchurch Hospital.  Until then Duane had worked with horses in Ontario for many years. In fact he had a star of the tracks some years ago with Dali who had the misfortune to be born in the same crop as Somebeachsomewhere. That didn't stop Dali from winning major events at the Meadowlands as well as in Ontario. when establishing himself as the fastest juvenile in the world. His landmark victory was in the Woodrow Wilson at two a huge performance and he held the world record on a 1000m track at three when Somebeachsomewhere stole all the glory. But Dali still won $C1.4m and took a mark of 1.48.,2 before being retired to stud.  Duane can't get over the changes in training here compared to Canada. "I think they treat them more as horses here than in Canada. I like the variety here too, the different tracks and different distances. We go a mile at home and that is pretty much it. That also makes a difference to the way we train them. We work them up in generally the same way but there are quite major differences." "We couldn't put horses in paddocks up there in winter of course. It does me good to seem them getting out in the paddocks here in midwinter." Duane worked with the leading horsemen in Canada before setting up on his own and spent about 20 years training around 25 horses in Ontario. He was well trained and rarely eased off the workload during the day. "I'd go around the studs each year and look over the yearlings much as here and try and get one who could take you all the way. Dali (Real Artist) was a great horse but he was just born the wrong year." It tells you a lot about the sort of guy Duane is that the former trainer of a champion is just as happy looking after the stars of All Stars without any airs, graces or feeling of superiority. One of his strengths is his people skills, getting on with all the staff with a quiet manner and strong work ethic. "I don't really miss that pressure you have with a top horse or a leading stable. I watch Mark and Natalie on the phone so much of the day and I  know all about that. I am happy just working with the horses" But surely Duane might think once more about his own stable ? "My ideal is to buy a place close by here and have maybe four horses to work when I go home. That is as far as I would want to go. I have done all the rest" "We love it here. The family is a long way away but everything else is just great" It hasn't taken long for Duane and Janet to get involved in one area however. Along with Mark and Natalie they have shares in All Star Angus a young trotter in the stable.  Dave McCarthy (All Stars Racing Stables)

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