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The goalposts may have moved but it was still a sweet feeling for Matt Craven when his fabulous filly Pink Galahs took the honors in what he’s long considered her grand final, tonight’s TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks. Only a week after she shocked the trotting world and won the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint, the three-year-old backed up to claim a second successive Group 1 in a bruising Oaks. “They made her earn it tonight,” Craven told Trots Vision post-race, with Pink Galahs having worked to the front from gate five and controlled proceedings with a 32.2-second first quarter, before being exposed to a mid-race challenge. Jason Lee, steering Anton Golino and Jack MacKinnon’s Im Ready Jet, turned it into a staying contest approaching the bell, challenging and claiming the lead in 28.2 and 28.7 second and third quarters. It reverted Pink Galahs to a sit-sprint role, but as she’s shown readily in open class company that suits her just fine, rushing via the sprint lane to a 4.2-metre win from stablemate Queen Of Crime, with Im Ready Jet running third. “Jase with 1200 to go tested us out and was able to beat her for a little bit for speed, but to her credit she travelled really kind on his back and it was just a matter of getting to the sprint lane without doing anything wrong,” Craven said. “It wasn’t easy, but this was the end goal. We reset now and set some more (goals), but just to achieve what we set out to achieve at the start of the season with this little girl, the campaign all through winter was all aimed around this race. We new that we had to improve over that period to be competitive in this race to season her up for what was produced tonight. “That middle half in (56.8), for three-year-old fillies you have got to be pretty brave to be able to finish it off after that. I’m just so proud of her to be able to get through and get the job done.” It was another superb result for breeder Laura Lewis, who co-owns the filly with Caleb Lewis and Bryan Healy, and the Craven camp, particularly with the stable producing second-placed Queen Of Crime. The latter was driven by Craven’s brother Glen, while cousin Jason Lee placed third in a Terang trifecta, but there was little brotherly spirit in the run. “Cousins, brothers, once you are out on the track I think they become your biggest enemies,” Matt Craven told Trots Vision. “People would think you’d look after each other, I think it works the entire opposite because we are all so competitive. “I hate getting beaten, I know (Jason) hates getting beaten and I know Glen hates getting beaten. I think when we see each other, we’re all in red colours, it’s like waving a red flag at a bull. “He takes no prisoners out there Jason and he expects no favors, which makes it so great, we’re all such great competitors, but they’re always the first ones to congratulate each other.” Craven said Pink Galahs would likely be directed towards the November 1 Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough before readying for December’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series.   HRV - Michael Howard

The after glow is magnificent for Matt Craven, but the trainer-driver of flying filly Pink Galahs will have little time to bask as another Group 1 opportunity presents. The Terang tearaway who last week changed the trotting landscape will start from gate five in Saturday night’s TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks, to stream on Trots Vision at 8.32pm. It’s the first of three Group 1s on an 11-race card that also includes the Benstud Make Mine Cullen, leg one of the Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown, when Amelia Rose will lead the Emma Stewart stable's attack against the likes of Goodtime Heaven and Our Princess Tiffany. But it’s Craven’s three-year-old filly that may well outshine them all in the starpower stakes after her stunning victory in last Saturday’s Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint. “It’s a feeling I’d love for many people in the sport to have the chance to experience,” Craven told Trots Talk of the Group 1 win. “It’s something you can’t describe when you win a race like that. Definitely wasn’t expected, it was a huge, huge thrill. I was so proud of my little girl. “Through the run, with a lap to go she relaxed beautifully and you think to yourself, have we got any tickets tonight? How are we travelling little girl? But she really picked up off the back straight and travelled super. To be able to run down Dance Craze, I don’t think I can believe it. When Jason Lee told me I beat him I still could not believe it. Even now speaking about it I’m still quite emotional, I don’t know why, I think I’m just so proud of my little girl. “It’s not something we expected. We knew that she was good enough, not maybe to win, but be competitive. Something that will stay with us for a long time.” But there’s a need to get back down to business as she leaves behind the cut and thrust of open class racing to stoush with three-year-old fillies for the first time since running fourth in the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final at Melton on February 29. On that occasion she finished behind Anton Golino’s pair Im Ready Jet and Imamaorijet, both of whom share the front row with her in the Oaks. Add in Tailored Elegance, Illawong Stardust, Sultan Sass and Chevron Action to name a few and it’s a high-class race, which has been front of mind for Craven for some time. “It’s not something to be taken lightly. One of the reasons why we have taken the (free-for-all) path that we have is we know this three-year-old crop’s very special,” he said. “We’ve seen some of these compete at a very high level and produce very, very good results. We know it’s not going to be easy and all her own way on Saturday night. “Take into account (Tailored Elegance) to our outside, she defeated free-for-all horses in New Zealand before she arrived in Australia. That’s very, very good form for a race like this. If she’s anywhere near right she will be super hard to beat. “Im Ready Jet has already shown she has had my filly’s measure in the past, so those two are going to make life very tough for her. All the runners in the race, you see the form is quite strong and it won’t be a walk in the park by any means and we are not expecting an easy race on Saturday night.”   HRV - Michael Howard

A quiet winter is set to become a very busy spring and summer for trainer John Yeomans, whose trio of fine fillies are building up to a jam-packed Group 1 season. The Homestead Farm breeder and trainer is eyeing November’s Breeders Crown and December’s Vicbred Super Series for Its Beajolais, Theultimate and Its Ebonynivory, who were all bookmarked to run in the next four days. The former two were slated to return from spells at Shepparton tonight and while Theultimate will take her place in the Cortells Electrical Pace, which streams on Trots Vision at 9pm, Its Beaujolais’ return may yet be put on hold. The NSW Oaks placegetter was set to contest the TAB Long May We Play Pace tonight, which would be her first outing since March 28, but that’s now under a cloud after she was discovered to be suffering a foot abscess. “I’ll wait till the morning and see what the result is,” Yeomans said yesterday afternoon. “We are trying to draw it out of her but the chances of her racing are pretty slim, which is unfortunate.” A winner of the Group 2 Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic last season, all initially looked to be going well for Its Beaujolais this time in, having run 1:53.5 in her trial when narrowly beaten by Andy Gath’s Sanday. “She’s been progressing good until this morning,” Yeomans said. “She’s developed on nicely and is a lovely looking filly.” She is being prepared for the Breeders Crown, with the three-year-old heat to take place on November 6 at Bendigo. Yeomans did express concern that a foot abscess and subsequent scratching could set her back a crucial lead-in run to the rich series, but remained optimistic. “She’s going to go into the Breeders Crown series fairly underdone, but in saying that she’s had a few trials and gone super.” Breeders Crown is also in the frame for Theultimate, who races tonight for the first time since April, when her three starts produced two wins. She’s had three trials ahead of tonight’s return, all at Melton including a last start second placing, when she was beaten a head by Lets Get Shorty. “She was probably a little disappointing, but is a big, late-maturing filly,” Yeomans said. “She is beautifully bred, being a half-sister to Ultimate Art, who won over $600,000 and ran in an Inter Dominion.” She was rated a $7.50 chance by GoodForm analyst Craig Rail for tonight’s Cottrells Electrical Pace, having drawn gate seven. “I’ll be happy if she runs into a place. She hasn’t had a start for some time,” Yeomans said. “We don’t want to slaughter her first up and James hasn’t driven her for some time because of the lockdown we had.” The last of Yeomans trio of three-year-old fillies bound for Breeders Crown is Its Ebonynivory, who’s won once in 10 starts but finished in the placings on six occasions and showed her quality with a fourth in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Oaks. She will race at Cranbourne on Sunday, her fifth start since returning to racing on August, having thus far produced three seconds placings and a third when she's “met a couple of nice horses”.   HRV - Michael Howard

Our Princess Tiffany will race on Victorian soil on Saturday night for the first time since her shock defeat in the 2019 Breeders Crown, with the brilliant mare to launch her quest for a new series sweep. Leg one of the Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown kicks off at Tabcorp Park Melton with the Benstud Make Mine Cullen, with Our Princess Tiffany to start from gate 13 for new trainer Dean Braun, who will be hoping to build on her $835,162 in career winnings. In addition to in-form Victorian mare Goodtime Heaven and Rock N Roll Chapel, Our Princess Tiffany shares the back row with Craig Cross’s mare No Win No Feed, who was the horse who toppled the $1.04 favourite in that Breeders Crown three-year-old final. The front line is dominated by two stables, with Six Elements and Pick Up Line representing David Miles and Emma Stewart having four starters in Techys Angel, Amelia Rose, Kualoa and Maajida. The three-leg series takes in Saturday night's $30,000 Group 3 sprint, the October 23 Angelique Club Pace and the October 31 $100,000 Benstud Queen Of The Pacific. For the first time, the three legs that form the Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown will carry cash bonuses.  If a horse manages to win all legs of the Crown, as The Orange Agent did in 2017, winning connections will receive a $20,000 bonus. The horse who accumulates the most points throughout the series will receive a $10,000 bonus. The Group 3 feature will stream on Trots Vision at 9.03pm and is race seven on an 11-race card that also includes three Group 1 races. The first of those is the TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks at 8.32pm, when Pink Galahs will likely have plenty admirers after the three-year-old filly shocked the trotting world in winning Saturday night’s Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint. She will start from gate five for Matt Craven, who also has Queen Of Crime, on the back of her dominant win at yesterday’s Humbletonian Day, and Aldebaran Tess starting off the front row of the $60,000 feature. The night also encompasses the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Home Grown Classic two-year-old trotting finals, with the boys to run at 10.02pm and the girls to follow at 10.32pm. Paddy Lee enters with two heat winners, including Keayang Xena, who drew gate one for the colts and geldings’ final, and filly Keayang Xena, who will start from gate six. Emma Stewart’s Utopia was the other heat winner in the colts and geldings' class, while Chris Lang’s filly Evas Image and Brent Lilley’s filly Kyvalleyhoneybunny also booked their finals places with heat wins. Elsewhere on Saturday night, Boxofchocolates will be chasing a seventh win from as many starts, Malcolms Rhythm and Out To Play will be among the notables to step out in the Woodlands Stud Pace, and talented trotters Majestuoso and Imsettogo will be among the Niota Bloodstock Trot field.   HRV - Michael Howard

Having had great success with big sister, Tony Peacock has gone back to the well and is hopeful the dam Their Excuse can produce a second star. The trainer will debut The Paua Diver tonight in the Bendigo Party Hire Pace, part of an eight-race program at Lords Raceway that kicks off on Trots Vision at 6.32pm. The race marks the five-year-old’s first Victorian and second Australian start, having previously won twice in 14 starts in New Zealand. “He’s quite a nice horse,” Peacock said. “He’s a half-brother to Bettor Enforce, who’s done a good job.” Seven-year-old mare Bettor Enforce has won 17 of her 82 starts and $266,189 in winnings, including a Group 2 and consecutive Group 3 wins. Peacock is optimistic The Paua Diver can similarly thrive in Australia, and showed plenty on debut when he ran second last start, albeit well beaten by Star Major. “He is a big, immature fella, probably 17 hands,” Peacock said. “They went 1:51 at Wagga, he was underdone a little bit and I reckon he might go better (tonight). He’s come on really well since he raced. “I think he has a bit of a future and think he will finish up at Menangle, where he would love a fast mile.” He’ll learn more tomorrow night when The Paua Diver steps out from gate one amid a quality field, with talented mare Concealment second-up hoping to add to her 11 career wins, while Single Tree Road, Franco Jolto, Major Jodi, Brackenreid and Arts Dash all look to have claims. A positive result would be well received by the stable, which had been locked out of Victorian racing by the covid-19 restrictions, with the Moama property north of the closed border. “It’s been very tricky being on the New South Wales side when most of my racing is done in Victoria,” he said. “I am right on the border and only been able to race in Wagga or Leeton. If I crossed the border to go to the vet or something I had to isolate for 14 days, so it’s good to get back to racing in Victoria.”   HRV - Michael Howard

There was great reward for patience and perseverance on Humbletonian Day at Maryborough, when 10 horses broke their maiden status including seven-year-old Aussiepride. The Harness Breeders Victoria Vicbred Maiden Pace proved a magical occasion for trainer Basil Dooley and owner-driver Paula Martin, who purchased the Watch The Aces gelding at Echuca sales. “He was a little weanling and we’ve had him for a very long time,” Martin told Trots Vision after the breakthrough win. Today marked his 12th race start, a modest number for a seven-year-old that reflected that he’d been something of a handful. “He’s a very tricky horse, you’ve got to get him right and Basil’s done a good job calming him,” Martin said. “He always had ability, but he’s done a lot of things wrong. He’s calmed down now and it’s taken seven years to get him here.” He certainly showed that ability today, with plenty of moves throughout the middle-distance pace that saw some tiring in the run and forced Martin to go four-wide a long way from home to try and make ground on the first three, who had separated from the field. While all the front runners were out on their feet, Aussiepride savaged the line to win by 6.2 metres from Valley Of Terror and Awesome Reactor. “I had to get around those horses, otherwise I would have still been carted back. Once I got around them I thought I could get near the running line and then he just kept going and they were all stopping in front of him,” Martin said. “He felt really good, even going four-wide around those horses, he just felt like he had a burst of energy in him. Coming around the turn I was still holding him and thinking, yeah, he’s got this.” It was a highlight amid a great day’s racing at Maryborough. Bullion Harry kicked off proceedings with a late swooping run to win the two-year-old trot for trainer-driver Chris Lang. The Muscle Hill gelding out of Miss Bullion was bred and is owned by Richard and Pauline Matthews and would only get better, according to Lang. “He’s a horse of the future,” he told Trots Vision. “He’s got a fair bit of bottom and I think you’ll see his best work as a three-year-old, not as a two-year-old.” Bullion Harry will back up at Tabcorp Park Melton in Saturday night’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic final, a $50,000 Group 1 that could make it a very lucrative week for connections. “If he can win again on Saturday night in the Home Grown final, which he’s in, that’d be lovely, but it’s probably a little bit beyond him at this time,” Lang said. In race two Kylie Sugars was rapt after Euryphaessa broke through for her maiden win, a two-year-old filly who Sugars not only co-owns with Jamie Braidwood and Barry Lay but also bred, trains and of course drove. Sugars told Trots Vision the Majestic Son filly out of Indie Pepperell had been a handful on occasion but was showing great signs in the lead-up to today’s breakthrough maiden win. “She’s always shown ability, right from day one as a yearling to now,” Sugars said. “We had issues to get her to trot and do things right and then she’d get to trials and get it all wrong. “It’s just been repetition, repetition – turning her out, giving her a break when she’s had enough, then bringing her in and doing a little bit more. In and out, in and out and each time she’s gotten better and better.” Owner-trainer Kim Procter and reinsman John Justice teamed to win the three-year-old trot, race three on the program, with Abitofadreamer. The three-year-old Orlando Vici gelding out of My Dreamweaver was bred by Yabby Dam Racing and ran on while four-wide to score by four metres. There were more happy owners when Credit To Chris, a Crazed gelding out of Calixte, won the maiden trot for trainer Keith Cotchin and reinsman Ryan Duffy. The four-year-old led all the way to score for owners breeders Kobie, Sharon and Jake Mallia, Bill Burns and James Rattray. The biggest price winner of the day came in the fifth when three-year-old Triple Zed scored for trainer-driver David Murphy at $57 on the tote. Owned and bred by Alan Faux, the Four Starzzz Shark three-year-old is out of Spirit Of Smooch and emerged from leader’s back to win by 2.2 metres. Shesa Pocketrocket made happy owners of Neale Donnelly, John Monahan, Ruth Risstrom and Carol Bass when she saluted for trainer Andy Gath and reinswoman Kate Gath. Bred by Jessica Francis, the Art Major three-year-old is out of Its Girl Power and found the front from the gate and held off all challenges. It was a similar win for Mick Stanley’s Soho Broadway, who is the latest eye-catcher from owner-breeder Rob Watson’s outstanding mare Pixel Perfect. Soho Broadway, by Bettors Delight, broke through for his first win at start five when he held off Blaze Coops to salute by a half-neck, with less than five metres separating the first seven finishers. There was also some more winning to be done by trainer-driver Matt Craven, fresh from his Saturday night Group 1 success with Pink Galahs. He took out the three-year-old trot with Queen Of Crime, with the pacing-bred Sportswriter filly out of Our Crime Of Passion getting the job done for owner-breeders Tony and Pam Coniglio in a comprehensive 31-metre win. And finally Helansin joined the list of first-time winners when the Somebeachsomewhere gelding out of Eye Like Candy took out the two-year-old pace. Trainer by Alison Alford and driven by Chris Alford, the winner scored for a big group of owners that included late reinsman Gavin Lang’s wife Megan, with Chris Alford telling Trots Vision viewers post-race he believed the gelding was Gavin’s last purchase, making the win all the more significant. Helansin was bred by Glenn Taylor, Judith Eden, Russell Eden and Christine Taylor.   HRV - Michael Howard

David Moran and Lochinvar Art took the best punches of Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy’s extraordinary New South Wales team and answered every challenge to claim the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. After being swamped early trainer-driver Moran stayed cool and allowed Plan B to play itself out, showing the patience and more than a little magic reminiscent of his driving hero the late Gavin Lang, who he paid tribute too immediately post-race. “Before Gavin passed I went and saw him in hospital and he said, 'do me one favour and drive that horse yourself',” Moran told Trots Vision. And, boy, did he. The reinsman and Lochinvar Art clawed over the top of Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing in the final 100 metres, saluting to the sky as he recorded a first Grand Circuit victory in a track record 1:51.4 mile rate. Lochinvar Art now holds both the 2240-metre and 1720-metre track records at Tabcorp Park Melton, following on from January’s 4YO Bonanza win in 1:48.6. “He’s a horse that amazes me still as a trainer,” Moran said. “His never-say-die attitude.” It was certainly on display tonight, when Moran had to quickly abandon Plan A and any thoughts of a lead all-the-way victory. Few speed maps would have forecast that Cross's horse Alta Orlando, driven by Mick Stanley, would spear away from the gates quickly enough to roll straight past Lochinvar Art and hem the favourite into the running line. Worse was to come for Moran, as lead rivals Cash N Flow and King Of Swing advanced forward to the breeze and lead respectively, with Cross’s other runners Balraj and Bling It On stacked along the valued peg line. It didn’t turn out quite like I would have thought,” Moran said. “They burnt the gate pretty hard. When Alta Orlando got across it got a little bit tight there, which put us into a downward position where Cash N Flow and King Of Swing had the jump on us a little bit.” Through a 42.5-second lead time and 29.5-second first quarter, team Cross had the first five runners until Moran advanced Lochinvar Art to the breeze for a season-defining final lap. And then the script flipped again, this time by an inspired Moran move, with the reinsman realising Balraj was struggling to hold the leader’s back and swooped in when the opportunity presented. “Just as I got to the breeze I heard Balraj touch his knee a couple of times,” Moran said. “I thought he was more than likely to lose a bit of ground on the turn, so the plan was just to try and hang off him and when he dropped away a little bit to try and spear to that position.” And that he did, then tracking King Of Swing through a 28.6-second third quarter and into the final bend, emerging just before the straight and advancing to the outside as the chasing pack lost touch. It became a race in two and by the 100-metre mark the Victorian nosed ahead and advanced to claim the cup by 7.1 metres, with King Of Swing a meritorious second, reigning champion Bling It On running into third and Rishi finishing fourth. “Little bit chuffed actually. Feels a bit surreal,” Moran said post-race. “To everyone that helped out back at home, I can’t thank you enough, friends, family and all the people who have said ‘good luck’ or ‘well done’ in the past, I can’t thank you enough.” Moran saved special mention for David and Colleen Aiken. “They’ve been great mentors to me and, practically, like my second mum and dad really,” he said. “I love them to bits, they’re just great people and they couldn’t be more happy than seeing someone else get a winner.” And he also thanked owners Kevin and Leonie Gordon for the faith they showed in him to select the horse, who has rewarded his connections with $885,376 in stakes and 21 victories from 42 starts. “Kevin has no input whatsoever on what I buy, he just says you go and do whatever you need to do or whatever you think’s best and if it wasn’t for Kevin and Leonie we would never have got him.” The owners parted with $29,000 on December 5, 2017, for the then two-year-old Modern Art colt out of Ponder In Paris, who caught Moran’s eye at a ready to run sale. “He just run up good. He run up in quick time, which I wasn’t too concerned about, but it was how he did it,” Moran said. “I think he ran his last quarter in 26 and a half or something like that as an early two-year-old, but the way he did it it looked like he ran the quarter in 31. That was pretty impressive. Just on type he looked like he had a bit of scope to go.” And so he did, tonight capturing his fourth Group 1 victory.   HRV - Michael Howard

An extraordinary outpouring of pride from Matt Craven summed up the feat of his superb filly Pink Galahs, with the three-year-old shocking the trotting world by upstaging Australia’s best to record a Group 1 win. Pink Galahs secured the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint with a brilliant sprint to beat Dance Craze by a head and record a stunning win for her trainer-driver Craven and co-owners Caleb and Laura Lewis and Bryan Healy. “I’m so happy for her,” Craven told Trots Vision. “I nearly fainted halfway up the straight I was yelling that hard. “Get to the Gordon (Hotel) in Portland, Caleb (Lewis) will be bouncing off the walls. And Bryan (Healy) in the Gold Coast, look out up there. “So proud of this girl and my partner, Sof (Arvidsson) and all the team. They’ve just put in so much work. You wouldn’t think you would be so emotional, but gee.” As expected, the sprint was on from the start with Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth dicing for the lead, with the former’s advantage from the gate serving her well. Wobelee hustled up to find Dance Craze’s back and Craven held his place in the running line confident Red Hot Tooth would take him a long way, resisting the temptation to hunt a place on the pegs from where Pink Galahs has done so much damage. “I said before the race, we’ve got the two best drivers off the gate – Jason Lee and Chris Alford – on our inside. How are we going to get to the fence,” Craven said. “It turned out that way and we just had to settle for one-one. I looked at three fence but I’ve got a lot of time for Red Hot Tooth – she’s a brave mare.” When three-wide McLovin tired rounding the final turn Craven took his chance and emerged on Pink Galahs and from there it was the battle of the fastest, with Pink Galahs clipping leader Dance Craze by a head with Tough Monarch and Wobelee finishing third and fourth. “Off the back she was just travelling so well, I didn’t think we’d go that early so I just had to bide our time. We didn’t have a lot of room top of the lane, but she saw the gap, she’s just a little tiger.” It was also a victory for local breeding lines. Bryan Healy’s father, Ric, was responsible for the extraordinary Maori lines and Pink Galahs is a Maori descendent, who was pared with Aldebaran Park stallion Skyvalley. “I used to love Skyvalley as a horse,” Craven said. “He was the most magnificent looking trotter when he raced for Chris Lang. “When we bought (Pink Galahs) mother (Sweetasay) to race that didn’t go so well, but she had a heap of speed. I had no hesitation telling Caleb and Laura that we should send him to Skyvalley. “He’s the leading colonial stallion, he leaves horses that want to trot. They’ve got a bit of gut, and this filly’s got plenty of it.” RELIVE THE TROTS VISION HIGHLIGHTS: HRV - Michael Howard  

Emma Stewart’s stable looks primed for another outstanding season of two-year-old racing with a sweep of tonight’s Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic finals. Less than a month before the Breeders Crown heats kick off on November 4, Stewart’s two-year-old colt Act Now registered a comfortable 1.8-metre win for reinswoman Jodi Quinlan and then the stable produced the first five home in the fillies’ final. The latter was a particular muscle flex by the stable, with only three metres separating the first five and the winner, Ladies In Red, stopping the clock in a 1:51.9 mile rate. That smashed the previous track record for two-year-old fillies, which stood at 1:53.5 and was set by Nostra Beach in 2017. Reinsman David Moran spoke to Trots Vision’s Rob Auber post-race. “It’s pretty scary really,” Moran said. “The breed nowadays, and that’s all credit to people like Bill and Anne (Anderson), they breed the best and only keep the best.” Ladies In Red had to come from last, three-wide the last half a lap to mow down leaders Platinum Sparkle and breeze horse Tough Tilly and win. “She deserves full credit there the way that the race was run, it was run pretty genuine,” Moran said. “The last half sectionals were through the roof. She’s gone tremendous. “When we went, I did go as quick as I could. Our only hope was to be with them on the turn. Around the last turn the leader’s just slipped us a little bit, which was crazy to think that she still picked them up when they probably dropped her three-quarters of a length around the turn.” Two races earlier the Stewart camp took the Group 2 colts and geldings silverware with Act Now, who led all the way to win. Act Now                  --Stuart McCormick photo Asked by Trots Vision host Rob Auber post-win “were you worried at any stage”, Quinlan responded, “no, not really”. “He actually travelled pretty good tonight,” she said of Act Now, who improved his record to four wins from six starts for owner-breeders Bruce and Vicki Edward. “He pricks his ears, has a look around and I just tried to kick away a little bit around the bend. “Biggest thing’s just getting him to concentrate, but I stopped driving getting to the line, he was holding the other one fairly comfortably.” The “other one” was Sumomentsomewhere, who ran second for trainer Jess Tubbs and reinsman Greg Sugars, while Clayton Tonkin trained Major Moth finished strongly for reinsman Damian Wilson. Quinlan said Act Now had shown every indication of being a key player in the forthcoming Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series in November and December respectively. “I think he’s got to be. I haven’t driven him off the pace, but I’d imagine if he was sat up he would show that brilliance all the same. “He’s got just that great gate speed, I think he even begins quicker out wider. He’s very slippery.”   HRV - Michael Howard

David Moran’s confident his stable star can keep taking punches and still be standing when it comes time to put the polish on a Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup win. The trainer-driver of race favourite Lochinvar Art will have to overcome a five-horse front from Craig Cross’s powerful New South Wales stable if he’s to hold aloft the Group 1 crown tonight, a challenge he welcomes. “It’s great to be in the Vic Cup, but to also have the favourite,” Moran said. “Hopefully we can fly the flag for Victoria.” Lochinvar Art, who in January smashed the Tabcorp Park Melton track record in running 1:48.6, will start from gate four, with a barrier advantage over his lead rivals but vulnerable to attacks from all sides. All of Cross’s five entrants are drawn on the front row, with lightly raced speed machine Balraj to start from gate one, reigning champion Bling It On gate three and then Alta Orlando (gate five), Cash N Flow (gate six) and A. G. Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile champ King Of Swing (gate seven) on Lochinvar Art’s outside. “I think the biggest concern for me is to hold King Of Swing wide and Cash N Flow. Once I get them wide I can make my own mind up,” Moran said. “Cash N Flow is the main concern, he’s one of the fastest off the gate, but I’m still reasonably confident. “If they work (Cash N Flow) off the gate, more than likely he can’t win and it might put Balraj three pegs. And if I’m outside Cash N Flow there will be no breeze for King Of Swing. If they want to park me with Balraj, that’s fine, (Lochinvar Art) loves a dog fight.” It’s a long list of what ifs and gives an insight into the split-second decisions Moran will have to make in the heat of the moment tonight, as well as the unique chess-like movements that make the trots a riveting sport. While gaining the early lead is prized, the harder the front runners go the more they open the gate for the swooping second line. “It’s going to be a great race, there is so much speed off the front row, the back row will have horses charging to get into it. There’s not a bad draw,” Moran said. “I am really happy with (Lochinvar Art). If we can find the top easy enough and handle the mid-race pressure, and I don’t imagine there will be a heap, then he will certainly be hard to beat.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Team Rishi are daring to dream after a captivating TAB Smoken Up Sprint win removed the ceiling of what’s possible for their six-year-old gelding. The last start Group 2 win has not only booked a place in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, but was confirmation Rishi had overcome battles that had plagued him and he was poised to put his best foot forward. Owner John Hawkes told SENTrack this morning Rishi’s “had a lot of problems”, but he had “gradually, gradually coming good”, which had built confidence in trainer Lance Justice. “Last Tuesday (Lance) told me, 'John, I’m putting the work in him now, he’s run three (minutes) two (seconds) for a mile-and-a-half on my track’. (Lance) said ‘that’s Smoken Up’s times’. He said he’s absolutely flying. “He said ‘now I’ve got to put it on, he’s running against the good boys, I’m not going to look after him, I’m going to treat him like he should be trained and training him harder’.” And it all fell into place last Saturday night when, with Ride High hustling up front, Rishi’s reinsman Mick Bellman finally got the perfect platform to show the gelding in full flight. “All of a sudden he started to show some good form, but we’ve never had the races run to suit,” Hawke said. “He wants them to go likes bats out of hell and then he can come home, but if something pulls out in front of him and takes his run, he takes too long to get going. He’s like a big train, a big horse, he builds up and once he builds up he can run quick times.” As he outlined on SENTrack, the triple-figure odds proved a big windfall for Hawke and his friends and coffee shop cohorts who took the tip, but there’s an even bigger prize on the line in Saturday’s $300,000 feature. Rishi’s drawn gate nine, well placed one off the fence behind a lightning front line. “If they do go hard and he doesn’t get checked or anything like that he will be coming home.” That’s certainly Bellman hopes. The reinsman joined Trots Talk on Wednesday and said they had “done well with the barrier draw, I’d rather be there than the front line, so far so good, as long as the rest falls into place we’ll be happy”. “We don’t have to be looking for a position or vying for a position, we just have to follow through and hope we lob a good position," Bellman said. “We have probably got a few more options than a few of the fancied runners on the front line, so we can be a sleeping giant again hopefully.” Remarkably, Saturday night will be only Bellman’s second drive on Rishi, who's quickly made an impression. “He just felt so strong throughout the whole trip. Travelled on the bridle really nicely and when I asked him he let down, he gave me everything he had and it was just a sensational feeling.  “I was pretty excited just to get a drive in the Smoken Up Sprint, nevermind even dream of getting a drive in the Victoria Cup, it’s been a real surreal feeling.” And Team Rishi are not done yet. “We’ve got our fingers crossed,” Hawke said. “I’m believing in Lance and I think that, what else can you do but dream. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL SENTRACK INTERVIEW:   HRV - Michael Howard

The unknowns are many on the doorstep of Saturday night's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, but one thing reinsman Anthony Butt's sure about is it's going to be a "heck of a first 400 metres". The champion reinsman has picked up the catch drive on King Of Swing after Luke McCarthy was unable to get clearance to border hop, with John Caldow securing the steer on pole marker Balraj, Kate Gath assigned to Bling It On and Josh Aiken on Cash N Flow. Butt joined Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden on SENTrack's Talking Trots On Track this morning and said it was certain to be very willing early. "I think Balraj will have to try and hold his spot for one, he gets out pretty quick, but it is harder when you are drawn the inside - the outside ones get a bit of a way on," Butt said. "Lochinvar Art, obviously, will be coming out trying to hold the ones outside him, but there's a lot of speed from five and six, Alta Orlando (and) Cash N Flow. "I'm hoping they get across Lochinvar Art early and I can slide across with them, but it will be very interesting and I think it will be a heck of a first 400 metres anyway." A Victoria Cup is one of the few trophies absent from Butt's cabinet, but getting the steer on the multiple Grand Circuit race winner, who's a $6 chance with TAB.com.au, gives him a chance to change that. "(King Of Swing's) got the points on the board, he's a Hunter Cup winner, Miracle Mile winner. You can arguably say he's the best horse in Australasia at the moment. He's been there and done that in the big races. The rest have got to beat him really. "The draw's not going to make it easy, but he's a great horse and he's been racing really well the last few weeks." Butt also spoke about his Saturday night drivers on Tough Monarch in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint and the chances of Wolf Stride and Elite Stride. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE SENTRACK INTERVIEW   HRV - Michael Howard

Balraj is the most likely raider to spoil the locals party and claim the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, says Luke McCarthy in the wake of today's game-changing draw. The reinsman joined SENTrack this morning and declared the polemarker the best chance of his and Craig Cross's five runners, who all drew on the front row. Asked by Talking Trots on Track host Jason Bonnington who was his best chance, McCarthy replied "from the draw, Balraj, no doubt, his form's super". "We've all seen how good he is off the speed," McCarthy said. "I was surprised that he beat King Of Swing that last start, they got home in 52.6, I think his own (last) quarter was 25.2. They just can't go any quicker than that. "He can do the work, has got speed, he's got the draw, he's going to probably be behind the leader. I'd say on paper he looks the best chance." McCarthy said the gate one draw would enable Balraj to ping out and then decide which heavyweight to hand up too. "He can stride out and hold the lead and I'd presume he'd only want to sit on Lochinvar Art or King Of Swing," he said. "They would be the two horses who would hold the front. "He's got the draw, he's entitled to gas out and sit on one of the favoured runners. I was hoping King drew better than (Lochinvar Art), but he looks to have that advantage, he looks like he will probably be able to work to the lead." Lochinvar Art will start from gate four in a Cross-McCarthy sandwich, with Balraj and reigning champ Bling It On (gate three) on his inside and Alta Orlando, Cash N Flow and King Of Swing on his outside. McCarthy said he would "try and work out tonight" who would drive each of the Cross runners, with much hinging on whether he could get clearance to travel to Victoria and then return to New South Wales without having to quarantine. He said it was "looking pretty good" and "hopefully it gets the go ahead this week". If he gets the all clear, he would likely partner King Of Swing, and said "Johnny Caldow will definitely drive one, I presume he will drive Cash N Flow, because he has driven him before". "Anythony Butt's going to drive one, and we'll just work out which one Ants drives depending on (whether) I can come or not. And then it will flow on through the others over the next day. "We'll try and work that out tonight just to let the public now as soon as we can." HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW OF LUKE MCCARTHY ON SENTRACK:   HRV - Michael Howard

Outstanding trotting mares Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth looked to have grabbed a stranglehold on the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Sprint, but the threats are many in the Group 1 $50,000 classic. Sharing Saturday night's Tabcorp Park card with the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup, the field for the sprint was drawn on Sky Racing 1 this morning when Dance Craze and Red Hot Tooth drew gates two and four, separated by Matt Craven's three-year-old filly Pink Galahs. With only the emergency, Cruisin Around, drawn inside them, the fast-starting mares are certain to be at the heads of affairs, but they won't have it all on their terms. Alison and Chris Alford's brilliant sit-sprinter Wobelee has drawn gate eight and will likely start on Dance Craze's back, while Andy Gath's star pair McLovin and Tornado Valley were disadvantaged at the draw but look likely to pour on the pressure. McLovin drew outside the front row and is a beast in the breeze, while Tornado Valley will start from gate 10, outside Rickie Alchin's talented New South Wales entrant Tough Monarch. Robbie Royal (gate five) and Great Southern Star winner Sparkling Success (gate six) complete the outstanding 10-horse field. Dance Craze was enlisted a $2 favourite post-draw with the TAB, with Red Hot Tooth $3.20 and Wobelee, Tough Monarch and Tornada Valley all $9. Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint field: 1: Cruisin Around (emg) 2: Dance Craze 3: Pink Galahs 4: Red Hot Tooth 5: Robbie Royale 6: Sparkling Success 7: McLovin ----- 8: Wobelee 9: Tough Monarch 10: Tornado Valley 11: Sundons Courage   HRV - Michael Howard

Five Craig Cross runners have drawn the front row but home state favourite Lochinvar Art sits ominiously in gate four after this morning's Prydes EasiFeed Victoria Cup field was drawn on Sky Racing 1 this morning. The machinations and ramifications only swelled with this morning's draw, in which Balraj drew the prized gate one and stablemates Bling It On (three), Alta Orlando (five), Cash N Flow (six) and King Of Swing (seven) crowded the front row. They are separated by Terang warrior Code Bailey in two and Lochinvar Art in four who will be flying the Victoria flag, while sit-and-sprint speed machine Code Black looms dangerously inside the back row, a draw that saw shortern in the market to $7.50. David Moran, trainer-driver of $2.50 favourite Lochinvar Art, joined Sky Racing 1 as part of this morning's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup Barrier Draw coverage and said it was "always just a great race to be in". "The draw's probably worked in our favour to a degree, but there are some very nice horses drawn inside us," Moran said. "We'll have to give it our best crack." As mentioned, Tabcorp Park Menangle flyers Balraj, Cash N Flow and King Of Swing book-end the front row and are likely to bring the heat early. "Cash N Flow, we know, can burn the gate very very quick, there's a lot of speed there," Moran said. "You've got Alta Orlando drawn right to (my) outside, you think you can probably hold him being drawn right next to him. "Cash N Flow one-out (in six) makes it a bit trickier again and obviously you've got King Of Swing in seven. The biggest thing at the start is just to make sure they don't get across you and get that advantage on you. "If they can't you've got to look to your inside: Code Bailey gets out good, Balraj gets out good. It's definitely not easy." So can Lochinvar Art hold them and make a play for the lead? "We've never really had to use (his gate speed) 100 per cent down here, it's just the way the races have panned out, we haven't had to really burn," Moran said. "He can get out very good if you want him too." Saturday night will be Lochinvar Art's fifth start of the campaign, which have produced three wins and two placings, and Moran said he was "rapt with how he is at the moment". "He came through the last run really good, probably the best he's ever come through. And his work since then has been good," he said. "We've adjusted a few little things and got him to where we think he's 100 per cent, so there will be no excuses come this week. The best horse will be there and we'll give it a go." Here's is your field for Saturday night's 2020 Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Park:  1: Balraj 2: Code Bailey 3: Bling It On 4: Lochinvar Art 5: Alta Orlando 6: Cash N Flow 7: King Of Swing ---- 8: Code Black 9: Rishi 10: Tam Major 11: Hurricane Harley 12: Major Times (emg) 13: Cruz Bromac   HRV - Michael Howard

It was the fairytale result that filled hearts and broke others as Rishi produced an extraordinary last to first victory to end fan favourite Ride High’s winning streak at 11. Trainer Lance Justice’s hot and cold pacer put in one of his best performance in a race that would mean the world to the legendary trainer – the TAB Smoken Up Sprint, winning by a neck. The shock result, in which Ride High tired and finished fifth after a blistering middle section, only added to the drama on an eventful night at Tabcorp Park Melton, when the headline race was delayed twice due to “lighting issues”. For reinsman Mick Bellman it was all worth the wait. “It’s just fantastic,” he told Trots Vision. “It’s just such a surreal feeling to, ‘A’ just get a drive against the best we have here in the state, and then to conquer them it feels like you have climbed Everest. “Can’t thank everyone enough, Lance, everyone for the opportunity.” The race finally got underway at 8.44pm, a tick over an hour after the scheduled start time and Bellman said that presented challenges for trainer, driver and horse. “I think the general consensus was that it wasn’t going to go ahead and we were just hoping and praying that they could get it to (run),” he said. “All credit to everyone behind the scenes, they’ve done a great job to make the race even happen. “I stood with Rishi and patted him a fair while when we come back. He was quivering through the flanks and everything. It’s the internal pressure that you don’t see. Some people handle pressure different to others and I’m sure horses are the same. “For him to come out, have the cart off, go out and come back, it can be unsettling. Just so thankful that it did go ahead and the best horse might have got beat, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.” From gate nine Bellman settled Rishi in the running line, initially four-back until Ride High took off at the top of the straight with just over a lap to go. Before they’d reached the start-finish line reinswoman Kate Gath had possied Ride High in the breeze, outside leader Cruz, and everything appear as expected. Following quarters of 27.8, 28 and 27.3 seconds Ride High broke the leader’s resistance, as he had done to all who had challenged him this campaign, but just as everything seemed on script Clayton Tonkin’s star started to struggle. He was unable to shake off Major Times at the final turn and by the 100-metre mark his race was run. While most eyes were on the front of affairs, Bellman had made his run and was closing. “Even when Kate took off three wide, when I looked across at her I thought, he’s going harder than I think she wants him to go,” Bellman said. “Once I got to the 300 and I was still travelling like I was travelling I thought, ‘I’m going to finish top three here’. “And then when I got outside them at the top of the lane I thought, ‘I’ve got Ride High covered but I’m not sure about Jodi (Quinlan on Major Times)’. “And then halfway up the straight I was pinching myself, I thought ‘this is like someone’s put me to sleep and it’s a dream’.” Come the finish line he’d beaten Major Times by a neck in a 1:50.2 mile rate, with Code Black nine metres back and narrowly holding fast-finishing Sicario out for third. As well as putting a smile on the dial of Bellman and Justice, the Group 2 win would have also meant the world to owner John Hawke. “I saw John the night Gavin (Lang) won the Tontine on him, he was over the moon and it was like he pulled off something big, he took the punt (to buy him) and it happened,” Bellman said. “Tonight I can imagine what he’s like in the lounge chair at home, he would have been up and about. “This is what we’re in it for, the thrill of it and credit to John to go and spend his money, put his faith into a horse and Lance and everyone and even myself. To have this happen it basically gives the little blokes a good lift.” CATCH THE TROTS VISION HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TAB SMOKEN UP SPRINT:   HRV - Michael Howard

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