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A withering run and nail-biting wait for the approving photo elevated Code Black to the head of affairs in the Trots Country Cups Championship. Having produced eye-catching runs all season Code Black got his just reward with Sunday’s Avoca Maryborough Community Bank Branches Maryborough Gold Cup win, beating Tell Me Tales by a short half-head to gain maximum points in the 25-cup championship. The head of an Emma Stewart trifecta, with Maraetai running into third, Code Black’s victory wasn’t without a nervous wait for reinsman Greg Sugars. “To be honest I wasn’t sure, she’s a beast of a mare Tell Me Tales and she towers over this one,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “When it was that close I thought, ‘oh, she might have a longer nose than Cody’, but thankfully our number’s in the frame.” Sugars had good reason for scepticism. Not only was Tell Me Tales monstering the line but the Gold Cup hadn’t been kind to him. “Maryborough Cup’s actually been a terrible race for me over the years,” he said. “I’ve had a few good drives back when it was stand starts and missed away or got knocked over, and even recent times chosen the wrong horse – got off one and it’s got up and won. It’s just been a race I haven’t been able to have any luck in, so very pleased to get this one on the board.” It was all in place for Code Black with Cant Refuse pouring on the pace for much of the 2690-metre trip and then Shelby Bromac providing him cover on the three-wide line to aid the final burst. Watch the race here! The resultant victory propelled him to six points on the Trots Country Cups Championship, with the four points for a win coupling with his second placing (two points) in the September 26 Kilmore Cup behind San Carlo. “He’s been a model of consistency this whole preparation,” Sugars said. “After his Kilmore Cup run, when he was flashing up the inside, I said to Emma and Clayton then, ‘this horse is absolutely flying and he only needs an ounce of luck in a nice race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win’. “He thoroughly deserves this win today. Very appreciative to be a part of it, also got to thank connections – (owner) Danny Zavitsanos has been a good supporter of mine in recent months. We are building up a good partnership at the moment.” Only an hour earlier Andy and Kate Gath also enjoyed a breakthrough when Everybody Knows produced his first victory on Australian soil in capturing the Maryborough Schoolhouse Village Maryborough Trotters Cup. Reinswoman Kate Gath was able to dominate proceedings after favourite Jilliby Babavska galloped away from the strands, with Everybody Knows ambling to the front and then coupling a modest lead time (89.4 seconds) with a gentle second quarter (32.4 seconds) to keep Maori Law on her right hip and salute by 3.8 metres. “He was knocking on the door to win one of these, he just needed a little bit of luck and finding the front today he got that and got it pretty easy early,” Gath told Trots Vision. “He got a little bit of pressure during the middle but was good enough to hold and he did a good job. “Obviously the last mile was solid, but you expect that off the slow lead time. At least he was still good enough to get a little bit of that pressure and do what he did, he’s also good off the speed so he’s a nice little horse to have for these country cups.” The Trots Country Cups Championship continues with Friday night’s Swan Hill pacing and trotters cups and the Swan Hill Mile, with heavyweights San Carlo, Colt Thirty One and Tam Major among those expected to battle for the major crown.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Code Black has gone to the top of Harness Racing Victoria's country cups championship table. The Emma Stewart-trained Code Black ($2.60 favourite) earned top points by taking out the group 3 $35,000 Maryborough Pacing Gold Cup on Sunday - the second leg of a revamped country cups circuit. The much-travelled seven-year-old led home a Stewart stable trifecta, with Tell Me Tales ($5) a short half head away second and Maraetai ($8.60) third. Code Black had finished second to San Carlo in the Kilmore Pacing Cup. The New Zealand-bred son of Bettors Delight began his Australian racing career with the now Berringa-based AJ and BJ Tindale in 2015 and passed through the hands of another five trainers before arriving at his Cardigan home. These include stints in New South Wales and Tasmania. The hardy Code Black has won 18 races and earned $296,000. Swan Hill has the next cup on Friday night. The victory completed a treble for Stewart at Maryborough as part of some strong performances from Ballarat district stables. Trotter Uncle Al ($3.80) scored for Daylesford trainer-driver Anne-Maree Conroy and John Murphy produced 4yo pacer Romany Brown ($2.10 favourite) for his first career win. The Tindales provided one of the upsets of the night at Melton on Saturday when All Starzzz Megan ($21.90) scored in a $10,000 final. She had qualified with a third at Geelong.This gives ther 8yo mare eight career wins.   By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier

There aren't many country crowns missing from Greg Sugars' cabinet but a Maryborough Gold Cup is among the few and the talented reinsman is well placed to rectify that this Sunday. The Bendigo, Boort, Cobram, Echuca, Geelong, Hamilton, Kilmore, Mildura, Shepparton, St Arnaud, Stawell, Terang, Wangaratta, Warragul and Wedderburn country cups winner will steer Code Black in Sunday's $35,000 title, which signals the resumption of the Trots Country Cups Championship. Code Black has been backed into $3 favourite for the Maryborough title with TAB.com.au, having opened at $3.30, recognition of his impressive campaign since joining Emma Stewart's camp. "He's only a little fella but there's probably not many horses racing better than what he is at the moment," Sugars told the Trots Talk radio show, which promotes the championship throughout the 2019-20 season. Code Black was slashing late to finish second behind San Carlo in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup on September 26 and then followed up with an eye-catching fourth in the TAB Smoken Up Sprint and ninth in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup. "He obviously goes around in top company every time he steps out on a race track, all his runs this preparation for Emma Stewart, they've been hard to fault," Sugars said. Handed gate 10 for Sunday's cup, Code Black will likely have to win from back in the field but Sugars said options remained open and the son of Bettors Delight was capable of winning a few different ways. "He can do a bit of work if need be," Sugars said. "In a couple of his recent runs, in the real high echelon of racing, I've driven him more as an opportunist and let the others do the bullocking work and he's been very powerful late. He ... can probably adapt to most situations as they unfold." Sugars will also steer Maori Law in the trotters cup, who he told Trots Talk had been "a model of consistency" and "should be nearing peak fitness now". He will cross swords with $2.25 TAB.com.au favourite Jilliby Babavska, who Sugars said was "certainly an exciting horse to watch throughout this country series". CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

After beating one of the best Maryborough Cup fields in recent memory, the harness racing team behind Inter Dominion bound star San Carlo couldn’t be happier. “He did it really easily. I was looking around wondering where they had all got to,” driver Bec Bartley said of San Carlo’s 1:56.6 Maryborough Cup win today over 2690m in front of a big crowd. San Carlo blitzed out of the gate to lead the field, showing the kind of gate speed that will aid him enormously in his quest for glory at a track like Gloucester Park in a month’s time. “I wasn’t expecting that,” Bartley said of San Carlo’s gate speed today. “After 100m I couldn’t believe it. I just encouraged him a bit. Steve and I have never really asked him to show that, but to know he’s got it really gives us great confidence.” San Carlo romped around Maryborough in quarters of 29.4, 28.9, 28.4 and 27.6 on his way to a 3m win over reigning Len Smith Mile winner My Field Marshal. The Mach Three-Bridge Player gelding is trained by Stephen O’Donoghue. Bartley said she “just can’t wait” to get to Perth to drive in the Inters, but first things first, San Carlo will likely head to Yarra Valley for the club’s Cup on Oaks Day, Thursday, November 9. The last time rankings were released San Carlo had jumped from No.42 to No.30 and was virtually assured a start in the first round of Inter Dominion heats on November 24. “Hopefully he’s climbed a bit further again now,” Bartley said. San Carlo picks up four points on the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship to share the lead with leg one winner Messini, while Mr Mojito finished third today to give trainer Kerryn Manning two horses on the Championship ladder after Ideal Success’s second placing last week at Swan Hill. Sparkling Cup success John Meade-trained trotter Sparkling Success won today’s Seelite Windows and Doors Maryborough Trotters Cup by 2.1m over Clover Mac. Driven a treat by Chris Svanosio, the six-year-old Great Success-Diamond Insitu gelding powered past race favourite My Tribeca (fourth) in the home straight and held off Kate and Andy Gath’s Clover Mac late in a mile rate of 2:03.5 for the 2690m standing start race. Our Twentyten finished third for Rod Petroff. Terang mare Perth bound? Following her slashing third placing today at Maryborough, Terang mare Keayang Kallisto might be joining fellow south-west star Jilliby Jagger on the plane west for the Perth classics. Flight availability is being looked at and options considered for the recent Blossom Lady winner, who ran third from the back row today in a spicy C3-C4 pace won by supremely talented Shadow Sax over another rising star in Audi Hare. Darby double Young gun reinsman Darby McGuigan drove the winners of races three and four today on Cup Day at Maryborough, both at bolters’ odds. McGuigan struck first aboard Glen Davies-trained trotter Brandons Price at $14.70 before a huge boilover aboard Shot To Stardom for trainer Jody Woodham-Murdoch in the C0 pace, winning at $41.70. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)  

He's big, he’s still a bit raw and gee he’s got a motor. That’s exciting Victorian pacer San Carlo in a snapshot as he heads towards the Perth Inter Dominion series with a deserved X-factor tag. The formguide says he ran sixth at his biggest test so far, but what a run it was after coming from the outside draw and drifting back to get a mile out of his ground, then weave through some traffic issues late. He smashed the clock and seemed to hit the line better than anything else in the Group 1 race on October 14. Now, the sparingly-raced seven-year-old heads to Sunday’s surprisingly strong $30,000 Group 3 Maryborough Cup as favourite from gate two. It’s actually a race he needs to win to justify the growing buzz around him. His rivals are headed by high-class Kiwi pacer My Field Marshal (gate 11), another Perth Inter Dominion possible in Mr Mojito (six), David Aiken’s recent Kiwi import Thereal Usain Colt (one) and other quality performers like: My Kiwi Mate (four), Ideal Success (five), Tee Cee Bee Macray (seven), Burnaholeinmypocket (eight) and Keayang Steamer (12). It’s a cracking race. But San Carlo will be the focus as he looks to post his 20th win from just 24 starts. San Carlo has already firmed from $2.40 to $2.30 with the Aussie TAB, while My Field Marshal is also in from $3.80 to $3.40. Mr Mojito is next at $6.50. The Maryborough Cup is race eight on Sunday at 7.17pm NZ time. Adam Hamilton

An outstanding field will amass at the gates for Sunday’s flagship Maryborough trots race, with all but three of the harness racing combatants having won an elite Group race. Group 1 winners My Field Marshall, Milly Perez and Burnaholeinmypocket headline a stunning line-up for the Avoca-Maryborough Community Bank Branches Maryborough Gold Cup, which is flush with talent. Veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who will steer Thereal Usain Colt from the pole mark, said it was “an amazing field”. “There is some great depth in that race,” said Lang, who is only the second driver in the Southern Hemisphere to have steered more than 6000 winners. “In years gone by the honour roll (of Maryborough Cup winners) shows some very good horses have won that race and this year’s will be a great addition.” Fuelling the extraordinary field is not only the race’s prestige, its $30,000 prize and Group 3 status but also the fact it’s come on the back of the Allied Express Victoria, which year this was transferred from January’s Summer Of Glory to October 14. Five Victoria Cup combatants will step out in Sunday’s Gold Cup, including rising star San Carlo who will start from gate two and was a listed a $2.40 favourite for the Maryborough feature in TAB.com.au early betting. San Carlo has drawn directly outside Lang’s hope, Thereal Usain Colt who only on Saturday night ran third in the Swan Hill Pacing Cup and is expected to take great improvement from that outing. Swan Hill, the first of the Trots Country Cups Championship season’s 25 crowns, was Thereal Usain Colt’s first hit-out on Australian soil and in David Aiken’s camp, the latter the trainer of the two-time Victorian Horse of the Year Lennytheshark. First up since making the trip across the Tasman, Lang said his third placing at Swan Hill – where he led before fading late – was a promising performance. “His run was OK, he got a bit tired in the last 100m, which I glean from the camp was to be expected,” Lang said. “He has been with the team for not even a month and had no trial, so I’m expecting a fair bit of improvement.” The nine-race card also features the Seelite Windows & Doors Maryborough Trotters Cup, with a handicapped second line that boasts a particularly strong trio in My Tribeca, Sparking Success and Clover Mac. My Tribeca is Anton Golino’s mercurial mare and her trainer is hopeful this season may just be her coming out party. “When right she is really good, she just seems to find some new tricks,” Golino said. “She is very talented, it is just whether she puts it all together. “She’s six months behind in age and that’s why I haven’t really wound her right up. This year she’s starting to grow up physically and seems in a good spot.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Consistency and class will carry harness racing horses a long way in the 2016-17 Trots Country Cups Championship and Ohoka Punter has both in spades. His Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Gold Cup trophy will sit proudly alongside the Shepparton Gold Cup won last season in his owner’s trophy cabinet and glisten beside his Group 1 Blacks A Fake crown captured at Albion Park in July. Truth told Ohoka Punter has hardly faltered since crossing the ditch in January, and champion reinsman Anthony Butt’s rapport with the seven-year-old has been a key. Butt has driven Ohoka Punter seven times for four wins (Shepparton Cup, Pure Steel, Jennifer’s 50th Pace at Menangle and yesterday’s Maryborough Cup), two seconds (beaten a head by star Smolda in the A.G. Hunter Cup and 0.7m by Yankee Rockstar in the Kilmore Cup) and one third (in the Group 1 Len Smith Mile behind Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark). “He’s definitely in the top three or four in the country,” Butt said of Ohoka Punter. “He went good yesterday. He’s been racing without much luck lately and I knew if he was able to find the front he was going to be awful hard to beat.” Yesterday’s 6.3-metre win means Nathan Purdon-trained Ohoka Punter has won 24 races from 52 career starts for $964,016 in stake earnings. The Bettor's Delight entire clocked 3mins, 17.5secs for the 2690-metre journey and rated 1:58.1. Once Butt steered Ohoka Punter to the lead he controlled the race. VIDEO: RE-LIVE YESTERDAY'S MARYBOROUGH GOLD CUP It is likely Victorian cups contenders will be spared his wrath for a while because Ohoka Punter is about to embark on an Inter Dominion campaign. Given his record on the horse Butt would love to be partnered with Punter for the $1.8million Inter Dominion series. “He’s one of the few horses that would give Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay a run for their money at that level,” Butt said. Ohoka Punter is on four points alongside Swan Hill Cup winner Hectorjayjay on the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship leader board after two races. Yankee Rockstar, heavily backed leading into yesterday’s race, punched the breeze throughout and boxed on for sixth beaten 7.7m, Ohoka Punter’s winning move coming at the 800m when Butt upped the ante and took the wind out of his rivals via a 27.5secs third split. When Ohoka Punter kicked hard off the final bend it was lights out for the chasing brigade, Young Modern running an enormous race for second and Flaming Flutter a typically consistent third. Chilli Palmer ran fourth for Zac Phillips and Major Secret fifth for Jason Lee. The Cups Championship heads to Yarra Valley on Oaks Day, Thursday November 3, before St Arnaud (November 13) and Gunbower (November 20) in coming weeks.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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