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Junior reinswoman Michelle Neilson notched up her first winner since shifting across the Tasman yesterday at Rangiora when steering the Regan Todd trained Strata Star to success. “It seemed to take forever, but I’m stoked to have finally got my first winner in New Zealand,” said Neilson. Neilson, who shifted to New Zealand around a year and a half ago, drove 40 odd winners while in Australia. “I worked for Grant (Dixon) and Natalie (Rasmussen) in Brisbane for about three years, before shifting home to New South Wales, where I worked for Michael Formosa. “Both were great to work for and Michael gave me plenty of driving opportunities,” she added.   Neilson has now had six drives in New Zealand for a win and a second. “I finished a narrow second on Mr Mach in my first drive in New Zealand but, until yesterday, I hadn’t looked likely since.” Neilson worked for the powerful Purdon and Rasmussen barn up until a month or so ago, but is now employed by Mark Jones. However, it was his foreman, Regan Todd, who provided her with her first win on New Zealand soil. “I am really grateful to Regan for giving me the opportunity,” said Neilson. “He had her trained to the minute,” she added. Michelle is the sister of more than capable Queensland-based reinsman Matthew Neilson, and girlfriend of Woodend trainer-driver Bob Butt. “Bob told me to make sure that I told everyone that he was the one who gave me my driving instructions,” she laughed. All I can say is, it is good thing that she decided to ignore them. By MItchell Robertson

Goulburn will host Sunday's Breeders Challenge Regional Finals and with ten races set down for decision, it will be a great afternoon's entertainment. There will be plenty of action off the track for those trackside, with Shannon Noll performing live in concert during the afternoon. The $20,000 Regional Finals have attracted strong fields and will be very competitive events. The first race will begin at 11:05am with the first of the finals to be run as race three. Shez Juslika has drawn perfectly in barrier one and returns from her trip to Queensland where she was placed in a heat of the Nursery Stakes. The Bathurst trained Our Big Mumma will start from the other side of the track but has been racing consistently, including a well deserved victory two starts ago. Race six will see the two year old colts and geldings hit the track and the two McCarthy runners look set to play a major role. The John McCarthy stable will be represented by Karloo Ten Seventy. He finished third behind Onethingforcertain at Menangle last start and was impressive winning his start prior. Belinda McCarthy has Image Of Courage engaged and the son of Courage Under Fire will find this easier than when he finished fifth behind his stablemate Lettucerockthem in the Breeders Challenge final. The lightly raced local Jara Joe will have admirers also. There are seven last start winners engaged in the three year old colts and geldings final but the Michael Formosa trained Ultimate Art looks hard to beat after finishing second behind the Queensland star Majestic Mach at Albion Park last weekend. The son of Modern Art has drawn the second row but should find this company more to his liking. Macca Kelly has won three of his last five starts and despite his awkward second row draw looks the hardest to the beat in the four year old entires and geldings Breeders Challenge Regional Final. The Jake Stockton prepared son of Mach Three was placed in the three year old Breeders Challenge final at Menangle behind Grand Stride and did run second in the Breeders Crown final last season as well. His biggest dangers could be last start Menangle winner Prince Kai and the well drawn Happyever Laughter. The four year old mares division sees six Breeders Challenge finalists clashing again. Mia Sue finished the closest to Obahma Joy on June 30 in the Gr. 1 but both Awesome Belmer and Light In Every Day ran well in the semi finals a fortnight earlier and will be looking for revenge. Kerry Ann Turner looks to have two good winning chances in three year old fillies final with both Icy River and Art In Paris racing in good form. However the impeccably bred The Baggy Green looms as a serious threat after recording two strong victories at Wagga recently. The daughter of Lady Waratah has won six races in her career and is trained by Steve Maguire. by Greg Hayes (Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales)  

Michael Formosa will have his stable star Ultimate Art ready to bounce back into the winners circle this Friday night in the KOFM Newcastle Guineas.

Michael Formosa has tasted plenty of success in harness racing but he will be very keen to win his "local" Derby on Saturday night at the Newcastle Paceway.

Hunter Valley trainer Michael Formosa acknowledges his three year old Ultimate Art has been suited by heat and final harness racing recently but believes the gelding will be hard to beat in Saturday night's Newcastle Derby despite having his first run since Easter. The son of Modern Art has won five of his last seven starts and has already won more than $60,000 this season.

Respected Hunter Valley harness racing trainer and driver, Michael Formosa will have his Gr.1 winning three year old Ultimate Art fully wound up for Saturday night's New South Wales Derby heats after competing at Menangle's midweek meeting just four days beforehand.

Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards yesterday (15 October 2012) concluded an inquiry into the driving tactics adopted by Mr Michael Formosa on Victory in Race 3 at the Newcastle Harness meeting on Thursday 11 October 2012.

Last season's Bathurst Gold Crown winner Ultimate Art has returned to the harness racing stables of Hunter Valley trained Michael Formosa. The son of Modern Art has not raced since finishing fourth in the Gr. 1 Two Year Old Colts and Geldings Breeders Challenge Final and Formosa is looking forward to having the colt back to the races early in the new year.

Michael Formosa was a relieved man when he took out the Glenn Tomlin Memorial at Newcastle last Friday night (July 20). Formosa has been one of the leading harness racing trainers and divers in the Hunter Valley region for well over a decade but one race he dearly wanted to win, the Glenn Tomlin memorial, had eluded him.

Ten harness racing events will take place this Saturday night at Albion Park sponsored by Southern Queensland Plumbing in the lead up to the Brisbane Winter Carnival which kicks off 2 July with the running of the Queensland Oaks and 4yo Championship. The first event of the night, The O'Reilly Plant Hire Pace, an M2 to M3 event over the 1660m trip. A top quality line up is engaged, with nine of the ten runners recording a victory in their last five starts which include four pacers who won at their latest attempt.

New South Wales harness racing trainer Michael Formosa could not believe his luck when Watpac Inter Dominion entrant Ohoka Utah turned up at his Ellalong stables last Friday. Formerly trained by Lance Justice in Victoria and Mark Purdon in New Zealand, the five year old gelding has won 12 races and more than $180,000 in his 39 start career.

The Anthony Bucca-trained and driven Mel Karamea has drawn ideally in gate two for the NSW Sires Stakes 2-Year-Old Fillies Final at Harold Park on Friday night (June 29).

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