Day At The Track
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Spitfire Rose will be long odds in Friday Night’s Harness Racing Breeders Victoria Richmond Lass, but trainer Bruce Morgan believes she is more than capable of causing an upset. Born in Western Australia, Spitfire Rose started her career in Tasmania before stints with Adam Kelly in Victoria, John Tapp in New South Wales and now with Morgan in Bendigo. The latter certainly knows what it takes to train a good filly/mare, having put the polish on 1999 Australian Oaks winner Mother Courage. Spitfire Rose, by Jeremes Jet out of Weona Beachley, has been under Morgan’s tutelage for two months and has run terrific races without winning. “She has been pretty consistent since she arrived,” Morgan said. "She has plenty of class about her and is a lovely mare. She can be a little bit of an enigma, however. “I think she is in pretty good form and she has been running good times. She has drawn well again with a gun driver (Greg Sugars) and I think she will be more than competitive.” A prolific winner early in her career, Spitfire Rose has been out of the winner's stall for some time and that certainly has Morgan surprised. “She has never won a race on the Australian mainland as yet. She was with John Tapp and Adam Kelly and run a stack of places without being able to win.” Morgan admits that tonight’s race is very tough, and said Emma Stewart's outstanding mare Gumdrops was the class horse of the race “(Gumdrops) has very high speed, which you need to have. She does have a bad barrier draw, but good horses can overcome that” Morgan said.  Matt Jackson

Tomorrow night’s Harness Breeders Victoria Make Mine Cullen will see a crack field of harness racing mares do battle at Tabcorp Park Melton. Cobbitty trainer Belinda McCarthy will line up My Willow, who is likely to start a pronounced favourite, but a trio from the Eastman camp at Shelbourne will be out to spoil the Sydneysider’s party. Larry Eastman has Milly Perez and Ponder Girl engaged, while wife Lynette has recent stable acquisition Highview Ember in action. “Her normal racing pattern is to take a trail at some stage so she will be driven that way. Whether she can zip the pole marker (Wow She’s Smooth) I’m not sure but I’ll leave that up to the master (driver Gavin Lang),” he said. Ponder Girl was a fast-finishing third in the Silver Chalice behind Starburst Girl last time out and Eastman is desperately hoping there is speed on throughout for her to play a role. “The barrier draw hurt her last week but she went really well. She is back on track and in good form. She will run really well again, in fact I am sure she will. If we can get some genuine tempo in the race it’s not beyond her to get home over them,” Eastman said. “She has always had above-average ability. We have looked after her as she has a few little issues soundness wise early on. She has just been a mare that has taken her time but now we are starting to get the rewards.” For Highview Ember, the new girl on the block, it’s a case of so far, so good. “She has taken to our system of training really well. She seems to be improving with each run. Even though it is a horror barrier, barrier seven, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if she ran well,” Eastman said. “She is one of those mares who could just keep getting better. It probably isn’t her sort of race on Saturday night from that draw in that field but don’t underestimate her going forward.” Matt Jackson Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016

The King of the Sunraysia – Murranji Track – gets his chance to shine under the harness racing metro lights at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. The Colin Rogers-trained gem will contest the Group 3 Country Clubs Championship Final (Race 5) on a 10-event card. Rogers makes no secret of the fact he rates Murranji Track as the best he’s ever trained. “I’ve had a couple of handy horses over the years. Surstromming (Murranji Track’s granddam) won the Australian Gold in 1999 but he is the best horse I have ever trained,” he said. Runner-up in the Mildura Cup in early April, the Grinfromeartoear gelding turned in a brilliant win at Bendigo in a heat of this series and Rogers is confident he will back up well in the final. “It would have been nice to have drawn the front row on Saturday night but it is better than seven or eight I suppose. And he should get a good follow-through early. He is the perfect racehorse in that he can sit, sprint but also do some work if need be.” Admitting Murranji Track is “not the best traveller”, Rogers added the 1000-kilmometre round trip will be made more often if his charge can keep justifying his faith. “If he can keep travelling well I will keep sending him down,” he said. “He probably won’t do much more racing this season. He is only a four-year-old, so he will run Saturday night and then I’ll wait for the Vicbred series before sending him for a spell.” Matt Jackson Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016

The harness racing Country Cups Championships heads to Frank Ryan Raceway this Saturday night for the running of the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. The $30,450 Group 3 race shapes as an even affair, in which Im Alex will be looking to take advantage of his plum draw. VIDEO: KEEP YOUR QUADDIE WIDE AT ECHUCA, JASON BONNINGTON TELLS PUNTERS The seven-year-old gelding has been racing consistently well of recent times without winning and trainer Isabel Walsh is hopeful that will change this week. “He is a nice horse and hopefully from the good draw he can have some luck on Saturday night and run well,” Walsh said. I’m Alex has only had the one stand start and that was when he was a youngster in his homeland, New Zealand, but Walsh wasn’t too concerned about him behind the tapes “It isn’t any problem for him as he has stepped well in New Zealand before. He is a quiet, well-mannered horse so I don’t think the stand will be an issue,” she said. “We also have Brian Gath and he is an excellent driver.” Echuca being a tight, turning track would also play to Im Alex's favour, Walsh said. “He loves the small tracks. He was a horse-of-the-year at Penrith, which is small just like Echuca, so it’s perfect for him.” Walsh didn’t single out any rival as her main danger believing all challengers capable of winning, but she was excited about the opportunities come Saturday night. It is going to be a bumper night of racing, which features the resumption of outstanding five-year-old San Carlo in race eight. There will be a host of on-track entertainment, with the first of 10 races beginning at 5.57pm. Matt Jackson

This Sunday harness racing heads to Victoria’s smallest track for the running of the Loddon Valley Stud Boort Pacing Cup. The day's drawcard presents an opportunity for the Glenn Douglas-trained Trison to take the next step in his career, having been beautifully drawn in gate one. Douglas said that while it was a big jump in grade for Trison he would acquit himself well. “He is the lowest assessed horse in the race but he enjoys the standing start conditions, which is the main reason he is in this race.” Douglas said. “It’s a tight track and as long as we get away good he will run well." "He was strong in defeat last time sitting parked, which will hold him in good stead for this race." Douglas said the favourable draw and competitive gate speed should position Trison well in the running. “He is going to be toward the front you would think and if they run a solid last mile and a half then it will make it tough for horses back in the field.” Douglas also has Nimble Jack engaged in this race and, like a few others drawn the front row, said if he could find the inside running he could be a fixture in the finish. “His form probably doesn’t read that good, but he is going better than it suggests," Douglas said. "His biggest key is that he steps well and if he found the pegs it would greatly improve his chances.” The back marker Uncle Wingnut, who will start from 30m, and Brent Lilley-trained Crusader Acey are the two that Douglas considered his main dangers. The cup is the main event on Boort’s big day. The first of eight races begins at 1.10pm.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Matt Jackson          

Cruisin Around heads to Tabcorp Park Melton Saturday night looking for harness racing Group 1 glory in the Alan Mance Holden Need for Speed Prince Final. He has drawn awkwardly in barrier seven but trainer Michael Hughes is happy enough. “I’m more confident him drawing seven where he can do what he did at Bendigo in his semi-final win and idle out but it would have been nice if a couple drawn inside him had drawn the second row,” Hughes said. “He is the type of horse that you can’t drag back to last, you just have to go with him a bit. He could end up midfield out wide settling but you can’t say he will go forward or back due to his manners.” Placed in last season’s Breeders Crown and Vicbred Finals as a two-year-old, Hughes believes Cruisin Around has improved a lot as a racehorse. WATCH CRUISIN AROUND WIN LAST TIME OUT “He has matured a lot. He doesn’t get as fired up and has been more settled in his races compared to what he was last time in," he said. A strong winner in his semi-final when doing the work outside the leader, Hughes was particularly impressed with the way Cruisin Around got the job done. “It was a super run. Greg (Sugars) never really got to anxious up the straight and he was confident enough he was always going to win,” Hughes said. Hughes rates the main dangers to Cruisin Around as Big Jack Hammer and Ball Park but he was wary of Bacardi Hurricane also. The Need for Speed Prince Final is Race 7 on a massive program Saturday Night at Melton at 9pm. by Matt Jackson Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 12 March 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 12 March 2016

Victoria’s newest darling of the trots track, Claudys Princess, will look to add another harness racing Group 1 to her trophy cabinet on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the SEW Eurodrive Trotters Cup. The Mick Blackmore-trained mare has finished runner-up to Monbet and Glenferrie Typhoon at her last two starts, both at Group 1 level. “All her runs this time in have been very good. She couldn’t go any quicker last start but she is really going well at the moment,” Blackmore said. CLAUDYS PRINCESS CHASES HOME GLENFERRIE TYPHOON AT HER MOST RECENT OUTING “I don’t know if she can run the two mile but we will be there giving it a crack anyway. If she can travel up well and gets to the track in good order I don’t think they will beat her. They are nice horses don’t worry about that, but she is right there with them.” Claudys Princess has drawn the 20m strand in Sunday’s standing start race. Blackmore says On Thunder Road, a fellow backmarker, and polemarker Our Summer Vacation are the main dangers. by Matt Jackson

This Saturday night’s $75,575 Shepparton Gold Cup has attracted an outstanding harness racing line-up and one of the main acts of the race is the Brent Lilley trained Messini. Now back in Australia after a fruitful New Zealand Cup campaign, which culminated in him running a brave fifth in the cup before backing up with a third in the New Zealand Free For All three days later, Lilley said the horse had come back in terrific order. “He had two weeks out after cup week but he has come back in fine fettle. He had a trial at Geelong last week and trialled lovely so I couldn’t be happier with him," he said. Although not overly experienced from behind the tapes having only five starts out of the stand, Lilley believes the standing start conditions of Saturday night’s race will not pose any problems “He has had a bit of practice at the standing starts and every time he begins quicker and quicker. He probably began a wee bit too good for himself in the NZ Cup which left him parked outside Arden Rooney," Lilley said. He has drawn a little awkwardly in five but Lilley is confident he can step away fast and find the lead. “He doesn’t have to lead but from the draw if he can make a good beginning and jump in front then he likes to roll along at a good pace, but I’ll leave that up to Chris (Alford). I’m confident he will begin quickly anyway.” It is a tremendous field to do battle Saturday night with a host of super pacers engaged to tackle Messini including Yankee Rockstar, Ohoka Punter, Hectorjayjay, Barimah and Keayang Steamer. It will be a bumper night of racing as the #RoadToGlory continues with a big 10-race program kicking off at 6.28pm. by Matt Jackson Harness Racing Victoria

We head to Geelong this Saturday night and what a way to kick off 2016 harness racing season with a tremendous renewal of the Corio Waste Management Geelong Pacing Cup. A wonderful field has been assembled for the race but the big winner from the Barrier draw was star pacer Hectorjayjay after he landed the pole. Beaten first up in the Yarra Valley Cup on a rain affected track before taking no part after bombing the stand start in the Cobram Pacing Cup last Sunday he looks perfectly suited back to mobile conditions and trainer/driver Simone Walker has loads of options at the start “I will just see what happens out of the gate and take it from there. I might decide to hold the lead depending on how the race is run.” She said He has always been armed with devastating speed but Walker said that this time back in he has developed the strength to allow him to compete with the big guns “He has come back much stronger. The break did him the world of good actually. He is now against the open class horses so he still has to step up but I am pleased with how he has come back.” Walker said she was disappointed that the gelding by Dream Away missed a run in the Cobram Cup last week after completely messing up the stand and might need Saturday Nights run “It was a long way to go for nothing but those things happen. It would have been nice to get a proper race under his belt last week but we press on to this week instead.” Main danger will be Ballarat Lightning Mile winner Keayang Cullen who has drawn the back line which will make its task a lot harder but he is more than capable. The cup is the feature on a massive night of racing with the first of 10 races to get underway at 6.29pm by Matt Jackson Fields for Geelong, Saturday 02 January 2016 Form guide for Geelong, Saturday 02 January 2016

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