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When the gates release at Tabcorp Park Menangle at 8.50pm on Saturday there will be plenty of hearts in mouths as paths to the Chariots Of Fire will accelerate or cease, and among hopeful connections will be the many involved with Victorian entrant Fourbigmen. One of three Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin representatives, Fourbigmen will also carry the hopes of owners Stokie Racing Group, Sue Murray, Fred Crews, Willow and Peter Tonkin, as well as others who were there in the beginning but have more recently watched from afar. Wayne Schulze is among that number, having with former breeding partner Dale Eastman serviced mare Aleppo Heiress with late Alabar stallion Mach Three to produce Fourbigmen, who starts from gate two in Saturday’s Cordina Chickens Paleface Adios Stakes. “I keep an eye on him all the time,” Schulze said. “I think Fourbigmen has been just below that top class, but one of the things Dale and I have seen with our horses generally is they only improve as they get older.” For Schulze’s breeding ambitions, Saturday could prove a landmark night in a trots story that stretches back more than a decade and began in tragic circumstances. “I had a horse being trained by Dale, a horse called Three Corner Jack,” Schulze said. “He had his first race start at Moonee Valley and we drove the four hours down there. “Unfortunately he had an aneurysm at the top of the main straight and died. He was the first horse I had bred and was so disappointed to lose him. “After that Dale and I vowed we’d try and find a good horse. We spent three months making phone calls all over Australia and ended up buying a mare off Daryl Wegmann and she turned out to be Aleppo Lady.” She would win 13 of her 35 starts and light a spark. “In her early days she showed a lot of form and I said to Dale that she had a full-sister by Safely Kept, which was Insulated. Arthur Graham at Nyah owned her. We went up and bought her to have her as a broodmare.” The $2500 purchase would produce dividends, initially with a flirtation with a racing career and later in the breeding barn. “We sent her to a pre-trainer, she didn’t show him a lot, and then we sent her to Andy Gath, who had four starts with her and won three of them,” Schulze said. “He said while it’s not good enough to win an Inter Dominion, it’s good enough to be in one.” Unfortunately injury halted Insulated’s career and she wouldn’t race again, which instigated her broodmare career. “She trotted but was pacing bred. Dale was keen to breed trotters and I was keen to bred pacers, so we decided to go gait for gait.” The first offspring was Sundon trotter Aleppo Sunrise, who would win a clip over $200,000 including the 2012 Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate Free For All, and then the second was Aleppo Heiress, a filly out of pacing stallion Armbro Operative. She would win four of 16 starts but make her biggest impact as a broodmare, with her second foal being a colt who would fetch $50,000 at the 2017 Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold sale and become Fourbigmen. A 12-time winner, Fourbigmen has thus far earned owners $132,220 in stakes, including placing in his three-year-old Vicbred Super Series final, and become a great success story for his breeders. But he is only one piece of the joy the Insulated line would bring. Aforementioned Aleppo Sunrise and Aleppo Heiress preceded Group 1 placegetter and Group 3 winner Aleppo Midas (by Sundon), a winner of $142,804. An outstanding career, but it is her first foal who may yet change the Australasian trotting landscape. Schulze and Eastman’s Majestic Son colt was sent to the 2017 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale with a lofty reserve. “It was the first time I’d been at the sales, I had no idea what to expect,” Schulze said. “I put $40,000 on him, and then watching the horses be sold for less I was that nervous I could barely write $40,000 on the ticket.” The hammer would fall for $48,000 and the trotter, later named Alpha Male, would be the first squaregaiter purchased by the powerful Stewart and Tonkin camp. Prodigiously talented, ailments have thus far restricted the trotter to five starts that have returned three wins, including the Group 1 Need For Speed, plus two placings, when he recovered after breaking in his first two races. “I remember reading Tom Hogan said in an article that he could be as good as Maori’s Idol, and if he gets a chance he might be right, he might be a superstar,” Schulze said of Alpha Male. “I’ve just been waiting for him and reckon once he gets out there he’s going to set the joint on fire.” He has had to be patient, but there are signs of progress. Stewart said today Alpha Male was “back and fast working”. “(He) looks like a beast,” she said. “He has come back unreal. (We) will take him slow and hopefully he is ready for some big races later in the season.” Notably, Alpha Male’s little brother Timothy Red, a colt by Muscle Hill, will make his Australian debut at Bendigo tomorrow night for trainers Joe and Mary Rando and his owners, who paid $65,000 to snap up the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale entrant. Aleppo Midas’ third foal, a two-year-old Love You filly, remains with Schulze, who plans to race her and, down the track, breed from her. “All she wants to do is trot,” he said of the filly, who has had education campaigns with Joe Thompson ahead of a likely start to her race career early in her three-year-old season. The above is just a small snapshot of the good fortune a good mare can bring and doesn’t even take in that Insulated also foaled Aleppo Murphy ($79,340) and Group 2 winner Aleppo Jewel ($107,185), as well as spawning further generations. For example, Aleppo Heiress’ second foal after Fourbigmen was only recently snapped up at the February 2 Australian Pacing Gold sales – only the fourth Schulze-Eastman bred horse to go to auction and the third purchased by a Stewart stable connection. “He’s by Art Major, they paid $37,000 for him, which just made the reserve and he has gone to the right camp,” Schulze said of the colt, who was purchased by Tom Hogan. “He was a late foal but is well grown. Clayton’s description was he just looked a bit immature. He was a really nice colt and has gone to the right place and I hope he can produce what Fourbigmen has.” The returns at the sales and then in breeding bonuses that have followed from good on-track performances are more than just a nicety for Schulze, who’s love for the game is balanced with a business approach. “We are just common people and the horses have to pay their way, which they are, or I can’t afford to be in it,” he said. “For me and my wife (Wendy) it’s a break from the day-in, day-out hassle. We really enjoy coming down to Melton to watch our horses and meet the fantastic people involved in harness racing. We are always nervous, but that’s part of the thrill for us. “I follow them at their trials, watch them every time they race – it’s part and parcel of what you want to do if you are in it.”   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Echuca's Robert Owen is among a big band of owners hoping Friday night will bring the delight of a much coveted country cup. Mr Owen is a part-owner of Sicario, who will start from gate one in the Group 3 Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup and carry winning form from Saturday's final night of the rich TAB Summer of Glory. Victory in the Edgell Sidewinders The Pure Steel built on a promising season for the former Kiwi, who was purchased by the large Victorian syndicate in January 2019 and, having provided plenty of highs including being the best of Victoria's Inter Dominion entrants, gets a chance to break through for a first Trots Country Cup victory. Having run third in the Yarra Valley Cup in November and then second at Cobram, fourth at Shepparton and fifth at Wedderburn, the Brent Lilley-trained gelding is well placed to claim the silverware at Echuca, according to reinsman Chris Alford. He said the gate one draw, allocated on national rating, had put Sicario in the box seat at the 800-metre track. "Even though he competed in the Inter Dominion and races like that, he's still fairly lowly rated, so he comes up in those Cup races with a nice draw," Alford told Trots Talk. "Barrier one around Echuca is a big plus that's for sure." It was also a big plus at Melton on Saturday night, when Sicario started an $11-shot with the TAB.com.au and trailed favourite Bright Energy until the home straight, when Alford veered right and swept to a 1.7-metre victory. "It probably was a bit of a shock to some people after his Wedderburn Cup run, but he had the draw, he had the good run and he was back to his best," Alford said. It was a result that would have brought great delight to Mr Owen and his co-owners, who have enjoyed Sicario's journey, which looks to have plenty of big moments still to run. "He made the Inter Dominion final and they were just as rapt with his run (Saturday) night at Melton," Alford said. "They are really enthusiastic and love their horses, and it would be great for them to win a country cup this year and I'm sure he's probably got another one in him before the end of the season." Ownership members Mr Owen, John Wilkinson, Elizabeth Crews and Gary Dowling could be set for a particularly big night because they also share ownership in Stress Factor, who will likely start favourite for the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket. The prestigious race is Echuca's trotting cup and, again with trainer Brent Lilley and reinsman Chris Alford partnering, the five-year-old looks well placed for a strong showing first-up after a six-month spell.                                                                                --Stuart McCormick photo Alford said he was hopeful Stress Factor could return to the form that saw him named the Australian three-year-old trotter of the year. "He came over and had a great start to his campaign here, he won the (Victoria) Derby and the Breeders Crown, then sort of went off the boil there for a little while," Alford said. "His trial last week showed me that he might be back to his best, so around Echuca in that race he will be very hard to beat." The J A Connelly Crystal Bucket takes place at 8.50pm on Friday, followed at 9.20pm by the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. CLICK BELOW TO TUNE IN TO TROTS TALK:     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

An extraordinary night for Anthony Butt, who claimed both the Victoria Derby and Oaks, and a ground-breaking performance by Lochinvar Art highlighted a stunning Night 2 of the TAB Summer of Glory. The Alabar 4YO Bonanza proved a scintillating spectacle that re-wrote the record books, with Lochinvar Art winning from Self Assured in a time of 1:48.6 to record the first Victorian sub-1.50 mile rate. In addition Temporale produced an imposing win and Always Fast became the first Mercury80 champion amid a cavalcade of highlights captured in thetrots.com.au Live Blog.   Group 1 Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby Anthony Butt doubled-down on a sublime night for the reinsman as he added the Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby to an earlier Victoria Oaks triumph. Line Up carried his favouritism status with aplomb in the night’s $200,000 feature Group 1, having been in a class of his own out of the gate to claim the lead and holding a late challenge from Governor Jujon to salute in the three-year-old classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Butt said he got a lot of “satisfaction” from the victory, having not only driven but trained the winner, though he was quick to share the accolades. “Sonya (Smith’s) a major part in it and the staff at home – Cam and Ash and Grace – it’s not a one-man band so it’s immensely satisfying,” Butt said. “Also Ray Green, he sent the horse over (from New Zealand) in magnificent order and we’ve just topped him off. A big team effort.” Tonight's win never really looked in doubt as Line Up emulated his heat victory at Ballarat by comfortably finding the front, with Youaremy Sunshine advancing to the breeze for Damien Burns. The two held those placements almost to the final bend, when Line Up spaced the chasing bunch with a 26.8-second third quarter and closing with a 27.8-second final 400 metres, which was enough to win by 1.6 metres from Grant Dixon’s Governor Jujon. “He’s a lovely horse, very relaxed,” Butt said. “He just went to sleep in front, that’s what he likes. He just goes along, same the other night at Ballarat, when I pulled the plugs around the bend he really zipped away. It was a big effort.” It was also a big result for owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, not only with Line Up winning but their other entrant, Perfect Stride, running third. “He’s a fantastic owner,” Butt said of Emilio. “He’s been in the game a long time and certainly spends millions and millions of dollars on his horses. He just absolutely loves them. You can see the satisfaction he’s getting tonight, it was a huge thrill when he offered Sonya and I the job, and we are just rapt to get so much success so early for them.” Emilio said “it is an absolute dream”. “It doesn’t get any better than this. Yes we put a lot of money into it, we all die one day, you can’t take it with you,” he said. “I love a challenge, and when I started in this sport people told me, mate, that guy just loves to waste money, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Well, half them are dead and the other ones are broke, I’m still here.”   Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Oaks Dr Susan broke in a false start, then broke the hearts of her rivals with a 26.3-second third quarter to set up victory in the Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Oaks. The all-the-way win was scored by 4.4 metres from favourite Stylish Memphis, a satisfying win for reinsman Anthony Butt and co-trainers Nathan Purdon and Cran Dalgety, which the latter dedicated to Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang. “I just saw my good friend Gavin Lang today,” Dalgety said post-race. “Gavin’s having a wee bit of an off time, if I can dedicate a race I’m going to dedicate it to that good man Gavin Lang. It seems a bit hollow tonight not having him win one of these big races.” It was a fitting dedication given the might of Dr Susan’s performance, having worked to the front after Good Faith and Rockingwithsierra burned early and then controlled proceedings from there. “The draw was great for her, she found the front pretty easily,” Butt said. “I kept her out of the early burn and then went around when the pace eased and she got a really good first lap.” After moderate first (29.6-second) and second (29.3-second) quarters, Butt stepped on the gas. “I knew Mark was still back in the field about a lap out, so I slowly just kept up the pace. I knew he would be coming down the back, I didn’t look around.” A 26.3-second third quarter made making ground difficult. “You leave yourself open doing that, but Stylish Memphis is a great filly and I didn’t want her getting close.” Dr Susan then had enough left in the tank to hold on and win, with Rockingwithsierra boxing on well to finish third for Gary Hoban and John Caldow.   Group 2 Allied Express Casey Classic Mach Shard sent a shiver down rivals’ spines a week out from the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, crashing the line to win a quickly run Allied Express Casey Classic. The pace was bristling throughout but it was the Barry Purdon-trained and Zac Butcher-driven five-year-old Kiwi who was hitting the line best to win the $50,000 Group 2 in a 1:52.2 mile rate, only 0.7 of a second outside Bling It On’s track record. “All the credit goes to Barry (Purdon) and all the boys back home and at Craig (Demmler’s) place,” Butcher said. “They put all the hard work into this fella. (Barry’s) a master, he’s a freak and I’m just lucky to be in the seat I am in, just ride the wave while I’m here.” Butcher was happy to wait while others poured on the pace, with Jilliby Bandit finding the front with Triple Eight on his outside, and when Thefixer loomed three-wide there was no easy move to the breeze.                                                                                      --Stuart McCormick photo Triple Eight pressed, eventually working past Jilliby Bandit and allowing Thefixer into the running line, but the leader’s had paid a price and were exposed when Cash N Flow flashed around the field to lead, only to be nabbed late by Mach Shard. “He went super,” Butcher said. “He got stuck a bit wide on that bend when they were running really hard. You probably lose a length or two just being a bit wider. “Then when he straightened up I thought he was a chance to get (Cash N Flow). I will give it to Mach Shard he fought hard and got there in the finish.” They ran incredible time in the final 1200 metres, clocking quarters of 27 seconds, 27.3 second and getting home in 27.4 seconds, with Mach Shard eventually winning by 1.3 metres from Cash N Flow and My Kiwi Mate running into third. For Mach Shard and Butcher it was a great lead-in to next week’s $500,000 Grand Circuit headliner, the A. G. Hunter Cup. “Barry mentioned to me not long ago that he has taken the next step this horse and he was spot on. “He keeps getting better and better and tonight proved that as well. The fact that he can hit the line like he did when a lot were probably dropping out, that’s what you have got to take out of that race and into next week’s Hunter Cup. He might even get a bit better with than run.”   Group 1 Alabar 4YO Bonanza Lochinvar Art has left no doubt that he’s at the pointy end of the Australasian pacing scene, winning the Group 1 Alabar 4YO Bonanza for trainer-driver David Moran ahead of Self Assured. The pair separated themselves from the field in a boldly run race, with Lochinvar Art stealing a march on the competition leading into the final turn to record a memorable win. “He’s just a legend really,” Moran said. “I don’t know what more to say, I’m chuffed and lost for words really. He’s been really good all week. He’s just a champion.” Moran worked forward from the gates but had to wait as those inside him found position before finding the front with Lochinvar Art, comfortable that whatever work he had to do Self Assured had to do more. “Tonight (Self Assured) had to cover a bit extra ground,” he said. “We were happy to keep him running, while we were one-off and then in front he was going to be three-wide and then one-off, so he was going to have to do a lot more work than us. If we were going to beat him tonight was the night.” Moran kicked into the final turn and created a buffer that Self Assured wouldn’t threaten, with Hurricane Harley running into third, but the Group 1 was always in Lochinvar Art’s keeping. “He’s just that sort of horse, nothing worries him whatsoever – distance wise, class wise – just nothing worries him at all.” Moran said providing all fell into place the four-year-old would be directed towards Sydney’s Chariots Of Fire, having earned qualification into the final with tonight’s victory.   Group 2 Mercury80 Final Always Fast has made history, becoming the first Mercury80 winner with Emma Stewart's aptly named pacer leading all the way to salute in the Group 2 $50,000 final. The $2 favourite lived up to its billing, not only producing an all-the-way win in reinswoman Kima Frenning's hands but setting the fastest time of the series, having stopped the clock at 81.4 seconds. "It's hard not to do it on him, because he's just so cruisy," Frenning said. "It feels like you are going in second gear and he goes even 27-second quarters. I didn't do much, Emma (Stewart) and the team do a really great job with him. I'm very grateful." Always Fast endured pressure from Call Me Hector in a 26.7-second first quarter but managed to hold the lead and was largely unthreatened from there, producing 27.7-second and 27.0-second quarters to secure the win. "He probably took a little bit too wind up out of the gate, but he held them and then after that he did everything pretty comfortably really." Off The Radar finished second for trainer-driver Richie Caruana and Fourbigmen third, while Frenning and the connections of Always Fast snapped up a further $20,000 bonus after their four-year-old won in the fastest time of the series. "I think it's a good concept with the four heats and the final and a bit of a bonus, it's great," Frenning said.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard HRV Trots Media Live Blog

A big, bullocking colt may well form the frontline in the Victorian resistance as the raiders threaten to again claim the prized Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby. Youaremy Sunshine's gate five draw has him well placed for a forward running for trainer-driver Damien Burns, but with New Zealand-turned-New South Wales race favourite Line Up (for Anthony Butt) and Queensland hope Governor Jujon (for Grant Dixon) drawn on his inside, the task is tall to reverse the trend. Victorians have only won their three-year-old classic twice in the last eight years, with Our Little General saluting for Emma Stewart in 2017 and Menin Gate in 2015. Along with polemarker Soho Hamilton ($11 with TAB.com.au), Pacifico Dream ($11) and Mirragon ($13), Youaremy Sunshine ($21) is among those next best in the market. "We think he's (close to his peak), definitely," Burns told Trots Talk. "Going into the heat we had a week without a race and we probably thought he was going in a little underdone, even though he had a bit of racing. From the heat and with this week he should be as good as we could get him." Youraremy Sunshine was third in his heat, bustling in the breeze as is often his way but unable to make ground on leader Pacifico Dream in the closing stages. "The race was a bit of a funny one, there was no pressure on whatsoever, it was literally only a 500-metre sprint." Burns said. "My bloke, his legs couldn't go any faster, he ran quite strong to the line, I just couldn't pick up any ground on the leader. Things will definitely be different this week. "They are funny, heats, the main thing is to qualify. You definitely want to win it if you can, but the pressure's on and if you miss you can be made to look a bit silly." There will be no thinking about tomorrow in Saturday night's $200,000 final and Burns is optimistic about using his mid front-row draw to advantage. "It's a funny draw, there's a lot worse draws there. It gives us a couple of options," he said. "He has got high speed and we haven't used it to date, when you are in the big one, a faint heart never won a fair lady. We may light him up early and have a go. "If we don't do that I can see him probably running similar to the way he has been, except it won't be a 500-metre sprint home in the Final, it will be a survival of the fittest that's for sure." CLICK BELOW TO TUNE IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Having paid $30 on the tote for his Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby heat win, Line Up has rocketed into series favourite for Saturday night's $200,000 classic after a favorable draw, which was broadcast live on Sky Racing 1 this morning. The Anthony Butt trained and driven three-year-old produced an eye-catching all-the-way win at Ballarat in Saturday night's heat, winning in a quicker time than the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup. The TAB.com.au installed him as $2.40 favourite for the final after he drew gate three, directly inside fellow heat winner and Queensland entrant Governor Jujon ($2.80). "Everything says (Line Up) is in the zone," TAB.com.au's Adam Hamilton told the broadcast. "No horse has probably had a more solid preparation, he's going to be rock hard fit. I don't see Governor Jujon having the gate speed to challenge (for the lead). "He's going to need a lot to go right, there's not a hope he can sit outside Line Up and beat him on what we saw last week." Of the contenders, the emergency Be Happy Mach (gate 11) is next shortest, while fellow Victorians Soho Hamilton (gate 1) and heat winner Pacifico Dream (gate 9) were both listed as $9 chances. "Pacifico Dream had the run of all runs last week," Hamilton said. "He's got to be respected if they go hard up front." Good Form analyst Blake Redden has broken down the Derby hopes runner-by-runner: 1: Soho Hamilton ($9 with TAB.com.au) The draw gives him options but looks the perfect opportunity to sit on Line Up and take his chance via the sprint lane. 2: Hesty ($81 with TAB.com.au) Acquitting himself well to this level but unlikely to burn the gate and he’ll need luck. 3: Line Up ($2.40 with TAB.com.au) Looks like firing forward early and if he finds the pegs as expected he’ll give a mighty sight. 4: Governor Jujon ($2.80 with TAB.com.au) On paper a lovely draw, but when you consider the horse inside is the likely leader and won’t be handing over that advantage, it could get a bit tricky in transit. 5: Youaremy Sunshine ($26 with TAB.com.au) Tough customer so expect him to drift back early and work around if the speed slackens at any stage. 6: Mach Dan ($41 with TAB.com.au) Somewhat of an unknown commodity off the gate but he’s drawn very wide so unlikely to have been done many favours. 7: Virgil ($101 with TAB.com.au) He’ll be going back to the rear and looking for luck. 8: Bad To The Bone ($26 with TAB.com.au) Likely to end up three poles early and his best option looks to be playing for luck and looking for late gaps. 9: Pacifico Dream ($9 with TAB.com.au) Strong heat winner who draws the running line but he’ll need to improve out of his qualifier to be winning. 10: Perfect Stride ($11 with TAB.com.au) Hasn’t drawn particularly well but he might be suited to letting it all unfold early and then using his speed late. 11: Be Happy Mach (emg) ($4.50 with TAB.com.au) Poor in his heat and even if he gets a run he’ll need to turn it around pretty quickly. 12: Mirragon ($11 with TAB.com.au) Solid in his heat but the barrier draw has cruelled any hope he had. 13: Mach Da Vinci ($15 with TAB.com.au) Excellent in his heat but from outside of the second row he’s going to need everything to go right.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks has been thrown wide open after pre-draw favourite Stylish Memphis drew outside the back row, which has meant opportunity knocks for her rivals in the $150,000 classic. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's talented raider was impressive in winning her heat but the fellow Kiwi who pushed her all the way, Dr Susan, has rocketed into favourite for Saturday night's 2760-metre Group 1 after drawing gate 5. "First money that came in was for Dr Susan," TAB's Adam Hamilton told this morning's live Sky Racing broadcast. "I expect her to lead." Dr Susan shortened from $3 into $2.50 post-draw, while Stylish Memphis eased from $2.70 to $2.80 and Victoria's leading hope Maajida, who drew gate 9, eased from $3 to $3.20. "It looks a match in two and a half," Hamilton said. "I thought Maajida was just OK winning her heat. She will be a lot fitter for the run. "There's almost no scenario in which Stylish Memphis isn't sitting outside the leader with a lap to go. I think she's faster than she is strong, it might not be down her alley. Maajida looks probably our only hope of fending off the Kiwis." Good Form analyst Blake Redden has broken down the Oaks hopes runner-by-runner: 1: Jenden Strike ($14 with TAB.com.au) Perfect draw after an excellent heat performance. She comes in as a serious winning chance now. 2: Amelia Rose ($17 with TAB.com.au) Was less than spectacular in her heat and would have to jump out of the ground to be a factor even from the nice gate. 3: Rockingwithsierra ($31 with TAB.com.au) Draws handily but probably can’t cross the polemarker and she may be a half level below the better fillies. 4: Good Faith ($51 with TAB.com.au) One of the eye catchers out of the heats and she draws to lob somewhere handy to the speed, which makes her the best roughie in the race. 5: Dr Susan ($2.50 with TAB.com.au) This draw may look OK on paper but when you consider where her major dangers have drawn, it’s bordering on spectacular. Favourite now? 6: Its Ebonynivory ($201 with TAB.com.au) She’ll be going back and look to run on late. 7: Itz Longtall Sally ($101 with TAB.com.au) Similar story to the above and she’s unlikely to feature but has a bright future. 8: Soho Gloria Jane ($41 with TAB.com.au) This girl doesn’t have many options but she can follow through early and hope to end up no worse than three pegs. If she lobs behind the leader then she’s a solid place hope. 9: Maajida ($3.20 with TAB.com.au) This filly is no one-trick pony so the draw doesn’t cruel her and from the running line Amelia Rose uses her gate speed, she may be able to get in front of her major dangers. 10: Dasha The Great (emg) ($201 with TAB.com.au) She’ll be looking for a quiet run if she gets into the field. 11: Alice Kay ($26 with TAB.com.au) Sit/sprint filly who will need luck but the draw may not be as bad as it first looks on paper. 12: Its Beaujolais ($151 with TAB.com.au) Nice filly who will look for the pegline early and hope to be running on. 13: Stylish Memphis ($2.80 with TAB.com.au) Truly horrible draw for what could have been the odds-on favourite. She comes right back to the field now and while she can clearly still win, her job has been made incredibly difficult.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The trotter with the fragile feet and the driver with the dodgy back will hope this carnival delivers the most glorious peak of their seven-year injury riddled rollercoaster ride. Reinsman Neil McCallum returned to the sulky in August after a horror car crash sidelined him for four months, having suffered a broken vertebra and two broken bones. But he had to wait until late December to get his hands back on Savannah Jay Jay, the gifted trotter who he will partner in tonight’s Group 2 E B Cochran Trotters Cup. “He just had a few little problems with his feet,” McCallum said. “(Trainer) Stan (Cameron) looks to have got back on top of it. “It’s part and parcel of life, I’m not sure who’s been injured the most – me or Savannah Jay Jay – between us we’ve had a fair history. But we are back and having a crack. “It’s exciting. I’ve been racing him since day one, Stan drove him for his first trial and since then it’s been me, except for when I got injured. “He has always had that touch of something, that he’s a bit better than average, it has just taken a lot of races until it comes to fruition.” While McCallum was waylaid talented young reinsman James Herbertson steered Savannah Jay Jay to victory in the Australasian Trotting Championship, a first Group 1 for the now nine-year-old trotter. McCallum would love nothing more than to add a second this TAB Summer of Glory carnival, which takes in tonight’s trotters cup and builds to the What The Hill Great Southern Star on February 1, Australia’s richest trotting race. Savannah Jay Jay has the widest back row in tonight’s feature, having been out of the draw after breaking last start. It was his second since returning from a spell, with each run more eye-catching than the figure form may suggest. “He had a hiccup last week, it’s one out of the box for him,” McCallum said. “Stan’s had him reshod, he trialled on Sunday and trialled damn good. “We are up in grade now, you have to be damn good to have a shot. The whole field is a nice field, but that back line is pretty classy. He won’t be far away if they run it the way he wants.” And then all focus will turn to the February 1 Group 1 at Tabcorp Park Melton. “He’ll be even better after his run this week and by the Great Southern Star he’ll be knocking on the door,” McCallum said. “When you are doing this all your life, these are the races you want to be in, the big ones. The Great Southern Star is a great race and it brings the best horses.”   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Jason Lee will lie-in-wait, ready to pounce with prodigiously talented Code Bailey, allowing the rhythm of Saturday night's PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup to dictate the time to strike. A second row draw dissolved any hopes of the Marg Lee-trained five-year-old replicating his career best all-the-way win in the Bendigo Pacing Cup, but the Terang reinsman told Trots Talk Code Bailey had the tools to adapt. "We are not expecting him to go out and do what he did at Bendigo, but he should run another great race, it's just going to come down to the tempo of the race and what sort of run we get to where we are going to be in our finishing position," Lee said. "Hopefully everything does fall our way and he will be running a very big race. "I think he's pretty versatile. His first-up run was awesome I thought, all three runs this prep have been really good. I know he got beat first up, but he made really good ground in a fast last half against Ride High. "I don't think he has to be in front or has to be in the first couple to have a big chance of finishing well up, but it comes down to what happens in the run as to whether we do try and make a move or, if tempo's not too bad, when we come with a run. "Against this sort of elite level, you have to have a fair bit go your way. You can't be having any bad luck or having to try and make up ground in crazy last quarter fractions." Code Bailey's reputation ballooned off the back of his 12-metre Bendigo win, a high point of a promising career that has included stints with Rob Pike north of the border, with Vince Vallelonga, with the Lee stable and then back to Pike before the current group of owners snapped him up in September 2018. He has since missed a place only once - when checked by a galloper - and now finds himself well in the market for the coveted Ballarat Cup. "It's a hot field and it's a nice race to be a part of, it's good to have a runner in a Ballarat Cup," he said. "Hopefully he can just go well again. It's his first crack at open class level against Grand Circuit performers, so if we can go well and get him into the Hunter Cup that would be absolutely terrific." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Ultimate Sniper left no doubt as to who was the premier horse of the 2019 Inter Dominion with a brutal Championship victory, sitting in the breeze throughout to cap a perfect series. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and driven by the latter, the All Stars continued an exceptional night in the $500,000 feature, when Ultimate Sniper became the first four-year-old since 1991 to sweep the series. The victory was apart of the stable winning seven of the opening nine races, including a clean sweep of the trotting (Winterfell) and pacing Inter Dominion finals as well as an extraordinary performance by Another Masterpiece to win the consolation. "We thought when the fields come out we could have a good night with a bit of luck," Rasmussen said. "This bloke (Ultimate Sniper) didn't have too much luck but he was good enough. We just can't believe it." Nothing has come easy for Ultimate Sniper throughout the series and that didn't change in tonight's final, with expectations that he would waltz to the lead proving unfounded. While the peg-line would ultimately settle A G's White Socks ahead of Mach Shard, On The Cards and My Kiwi Mate, Ultimate Sniper moved into the breeze with San Carlo on his back. WINTERFELL STARS TO SALUTE IN THE 2019 INTER DOM FINAL "I thought it could pan out like that, I didn't bustle him too early and he did all the work," Rasmussen said. "He relaxed so well and he's so kind and lovely, and then when I asked him he just had that kick left." With a lap to go the three-wide line emerged with Chase Auckland followed by stablemates Cruz Bromac and Thefixer, with Ultimate Sniper nosing A G's White Socks by the turn and then it was a matter of could he hold the chasers? Mach Shard emerged down the sprint lane and Thefixer was the best of those running on wide, but Ultimate Sniper had all the answers. "He was tired on the line, he just didn't give up," Rasmussen said. "For a four-year-old to come out and do it the way he has done it, he's never had an easy run or anything, but he made his own luck. I'm just absolutely rapt with the horse. "I've been so lucky to drive so many great horses, but this is really quite special tonight. For a four-year-old to go undefeated in a traditional series, all through the heats and the final, just a wonderful feat." While the All Stars Racing team have had many a magical night, this was a particularly special one at Alexandra Park. "They see Mark and I winning, they don't realise the crew behind it and the people involved - from the breeders to the preparers to the people at home getting them ready. All our staff ... they will just be thrilled to bits. It just touches so many people." Of the TeamVic quartet, Cruz Bromac finished fourth, Sicario seventh, My Kiwi Mate ninth and San Carlo 11th. WHERE DID YOU FINISH IN TROTSTARS? CLICK HERE   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

A huge night for TeamVic with Cruz Bromac, San Carlo, My Kiwi Mate and Sicario all advancing to the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship, the $500,000 Grand Circuit feature at Auckland's Alexander Park on December 14. And to make the celebrations all the greater, Victorian trotter Big Jack Hammer did enough to book himself a berth in the $150,000 final for trainer David Aiken, reinsman Luke McCarthy and owner Dom Martello.  Cruz Bromac - the Victorian part-owned, sometimes trained, Trans-Tasman warrior - was outstanding in holding off All Stars' stablemate Thefixer and looms as the horse most likely to challenge Ultimate Sniper for the coveted crown. Sicario was enormous tonight in running fourth for trainer Brent Lilley and his proud group of owners, while San Carlo again did plenty of work to earn every point for co-trainers Stephen O'Donoghue and Rebecca Bartley, and finally My Kiwi Mate clawed in to the final with a determined final burst for trainer-driver Craig Demmler. Qualification is a huge result for the teams and their connections, who have invested so much to chase success and now they are only one race away, albeit with a mighty throng of Kiwis between them and the crown. HOW ARE YOU DOING IN TROTSTARS? CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Championship heat five Ultimate Sniper put an exclamation mark on the Inter Dominion pacing heats with a third, stirring three-wide salute that leaves no doubt who will start favourite for the final regardless of draw. All Stars co-trainers Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon produced another one-two, with Ultimate Sniper again outpointing Chase Auckland, but it was the former who shone out and reinforced his standing in his reinswoman's eyes. "(Chase Auckland) had a great trip. He probably should have beaten me (and Ultimate Sniper)," Rasmussen said. "He's had good runs in every heat and he's run second, second, second - he probably should have won one. This guy's been three wide every trip, this is the better horse." Victory came in a fairly torrid affair as the Australian raiders declared they'd not go quietly into the night, with San Carlo and Colt Thirty One advancing in the early stages to lead the peg line and Our Uncle Sam and Conviction the running line. Ultimate Sniper emerged three-wide with a lap to go and Rasmussen had plans to advance to the breeze but it wasn't to be. "Probably just didn't pan out the way I thought, I thought Our Uncle Sam would hand up, especially to this horse, but that's racing," Rasmussen said, with Ultimate Sniper instead holding the three-wide line midfield until nearing the final bend for a last burst. "I just think they were going too hard for me down the back, I wasn't getting involved in that. He can just sit out there, and then when I asked him in the straight he really (went). "He's such a good horse. People don't realise how quick he is as well. He's tough and he's quick." And Rasmussen expects him to take no harm from the run for the December 14 final. "I just felt a bit sorry for him tonight doing all that work, but I just know how well he is." Colt Thirty One ran on well to finish third but that won't be enough to revive his Inter Dominion campaign, with connections instead likely to pursue a consolation final win. San Carlo is expected to wave the TeamVic and Australian flags though on the $500,000 Grand Circuit stage, with the mid-race placing likely to be enough to see him advance. Image Interiors Inter Dominion Trotting Championship fifth heat Temporale looks well and truly back to being a Grand Circuit contender after controlling tonight's fifth Inter Dominion trotting heat and then holding all challenges at bay for a second successive victory. While Paramount King's fantastic campaign continued as he ran second, Tough Monarch's third will see the New South Wales raider advance to a final and Marcoola's fast-finishing fourth will have him a tight price for the big one Saturday week, the credit sits comfortably on the shoulders of Temporale, his reinsman Tony Herlihy and training pair Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett. "We all know how good he can be when his right. Bern and Michelle have done a great job with him at the beach," Herlihy said. "He's in the zone, I know they were getting a bit close to him at the end, but he's done it nice." Outstanding in front, Temporale cruised to the lead and knocked off comfortable quarters before getting home in 27.9 when the chasing trio made their play, but Herlihy said a front row finals draw wouldn't be neccesary for his charger to be in the finish in the $150,000 final. "As we know he's a great follower of speed too if he draws awkward, he's pretty adaptable." Matamata Vet Services Inter Dominion Pacing Championship sixth heat Cruz Bromac led, controlled a steady pace, held at bay Thefixer's final charge and reaffirmed this is anything but a one-horse series. Having switched from trainer Dean Braun, to Kevin Pizzuto, to All Stars Racing, to Amanda Grieve and back to the All Stars amid several years of elite racing, Cruz Bromac's New Zealand Trotting Cup success and now ID19 front running is being shared far and wide, most of all by Geelong co-owners Danny and Jo Zavitsanos. They would have been beaming again tonight after Mark Purdon took control of the race, handing the lead to Thefixer before a retake to keep the pressure where he wanted it. "(Natalie Rasmussen and Thefixer) worked to get past me, but then we backed off the speed quite a bit," Purdon said. "I really wanted to keep the pace on with this guy." There was little pressure from the running line until Bling It On's three-wide surge to the breeze from the back of the field, which would seem to take a heavy toll on the New South Wales pacer who would fade out of contention in the final straight. Conversely, Cruz Bromac only grew stronger, getting home in a 26.7-second final quarter to salute. "He's got better with each round of heats as far as handling the track and tonight he was just superb," Purdon said. "He's going to go second or third favourite in the final." A wall of runners battled for third and all-important championship points, with Triple Eight getting to the line first ahead of fourth-placed Sicario, A Gs White Socks, Another Masterpiece and My Kiwi Mate, whose seventh placing claimed enough points to qualify. Alabar Majestic Son Inter Dominion Trotting Championship sixth heat Winterfell delivered a grand message that the All Stars' trotter's ready to peak with a commanding victory in the night's final heat, which had co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon optimistic the challenging but talented Majestic Son five-year-old had turned a corner. "He likes this way around, but he's settled down a lot too - he seems a real happy horse at the moment," Purdon told Sky Racing post-race. TeamVic's Big Jack Hammer initially led then handed to Massive Metro who ceded to Winterfell and nothing but a second heat victory to the latter looked on the cards from that point forward. Majestic Man man put some pace into the race from the breeze, but Winterfell was cruising and won comfortably from Massive Metro. "He enjoyed rolling around in front," Purdon said. "He had a little pressure from Majestic Man but he felt good. "He's almost turned the corner. It's as if he's picked it all up and starting to work together, which is a big help." Big Jack Hammer boxed on to sixth, which was enough to extend his campaign into the final.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

"It should be a great race," says reinsman Chris Alford as excitement builds for Saturday night's Decron Cranbourne Gold Cup, when a number of Emma Stewart's runners will attempt to bring the heat to their next-big-thing stablemate. Hurricane Harley, the Lauriston Bloodstock bred four-year-old who's already banked $355,640, will step from gate two in his Trots Country Cups Championship debut, with heavyweights Tam Major, Rackemup Tigerpie, Code Black and Phoenix Prince ready to pounce from the back row. Alford will again take the reins of Tam Major, whose finished third in each of his three cups this season. "The (inside back row) draw makes it a bit tricky for Tam, he likes to get out and do a bit of bullying," Alford told Trots Talk. "He's racing really well and he'll give it a huge shake. "He seems to like being up the front end. Cranbourne's not the sort of track that you can sit back and come with one run ... the bends aren't kind to horses out three and four wide, so first plan would be to try and get him up there unless the speed's crazy." That would likely mean applying pressure to likely leader Hurricane Harley, who can call on all the gate speed in the world to gain the early ascendancy. Alford, whose six drives on Hurricane Harley yielded four wins and a second, will instead be plotting against the Bettors Delight. "It's always tricky jumping up to the top class," he said. "When he led last week he had to burn for 200 off the gate, got a real easy run and ran a quick half (home), but I don't think cup races are run like that too often these days. He is brilliant, but I don't think he's unbeatable." Alford will also take the reins of Born To Be Watched in The H & F Abrahams Caduceus Club 3YO Cup, where Emma Stewart's colt will attempt to make it three from three. He will need to be good to upstage the likes of Victoria Derby hope Soho Hamilton, but Alford said while Born To Be Watched was "a little bit green" he had "loads and loads of ability" and "the same sort of talent" as Be Happy Mach, who dominated last year's two-year-old racing. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL EDITION OF TROTS TALK     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Grand Circuit plans appear in Emain Macha’s path after Greg Scholefield’s talented six-year-old further enhanced his reputation with Sunday’s second Trots Country Cups Championship victory of the season. Emain Macha and reinsman James Herbertson were in full control of the Talquist Trees Stawell Pacing Cup, despite the presence of championship contenders Code Black and Phoenix Prince who were breathing fire late. “He’s the best I’ve trained, there’s no doubt about that,” Scholefield told TrotsVision. “He’s a genuine racehorse. If he keeps going this way I’ll certainly be putting him in (Grand Circuit) races, that would be a great thrill not only for the horse but for me as well. Privileged to have a horse like him.” The victory also inserted Emain Macha into the $35,000 Trots Country Cups Championship conversation ahead of this week’s double-header at Cranbourne on Saturday night and Gunbower on Sunday. While he's not backing up this weekend, Emain Macha’s two starts – in the St Arnaud and Stawell cups – produced two victories, acquiring 10 championship points, second only to Code Black (19 points), who will build on his lead in Saturday’s Decron Cranbourne Gold Cup. Herbertson shot to the front at Stawell and controlled the race, quickening in the third quarter to make it difficult for Emma Stewart’s horses to advance and holding them at bay in the 27.2 final quarter. “When I revved him up off the back he was right there and that last quarter pretty much puts it into words,” Herbertson said. “Great thrill, I’ve always dreamt of winning country cups and now I’ve won two on this horse and just living the dream at the moment. “He’s just a pure racehorse. He wears no gear, just the ear plugs, his manners from the first time I drove him, which was a while ago at Melton, to now - he’s just come forward in leaps and bounds.” Making the efforts all the more meritorious is Emain Macha's recovery from a near fatal illness. “He nearly died on us, but he came back,” Scholefield said. “This preparation, being a six-year-old, he’s settled in his races a bit now, we can drive him on a bit of cotton and settle him back in the field, he wasn’t doing that before. “He’s just the perfect horse now. He will go home and eat everything tonight and be cheeky as billy-o in the morning. He’s got a personality for sure, he’s a different horse, I love him, he’s good.” The $25,000 Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship could also be shaped with this weekend’s Cranbourne-Gunbower double-header, with only two points separating the top eight on the table, which is led by Chris Svanosio’s pair Magicool and Kyvalley Finn. The former will contest Saturday night’s Aldebaran Park Bruce Skeggs Memorial Cranbourne Trotters Cup along with Dance Craze and likely favourite Tornado Valley, who can leap up the championship leaderboard with a victory. The stakes will also be high in Sunday’s Cohuna Car Sales Bill Poxon Memorial Gunbower Trotters Cup, where third-placed Jerichos Trumpet and equal fourth-placed Father Christmas will be among those chasing maximum series points.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

If he hadn't already - he had! - Ultimate Sniper has stamped himself the horse to beat in this year's Inter Dominion pacing championship with an extraordinary victory in the fourth heat. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained four-year-old went two-from-two with a sprint distance victory, despite having to do plenty in the run including sit three-wide for much of it. "He's just a great trier," reinswoman Rasmussen told Sky Racing. "He just wants to win for you and do his best, and he still felt good on the line." And in a warning shot to all other contestants Rasmussen said Ultimate Sniper should only be better come Friday's final heat. "He loves a bit of a distance," she said. "He just seems to be in a great place and bring on Friday." Victorian co-owned Cruz Bromac, who wears his TeamVic silks this ID19 series, hit the line well to run into second and reaffirm his contender reputation, while Mach Shard was third and Classie Brigade fourth. Double-crossed early, Victorian fancy San Carlo was luckless, having suffered a puncture at the final turn, but battled on gamely to finish sixth and secure vital points. The race also saw a vastly improved performance from Victoria Cup winner Bling It On, who come from the back of the field to finish fifth, but will be chasing big points this Friday to ensure final qualification. CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL FINISHING ORDER IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Championship Heat 3 A G's White Socks, the flyer of this year's Inter Dominion Pacing Championship, doubled down on his night one heroics to lead and win in the opening pacing heat of night two at Alexandra Park. The new addition to Barry Purdon's stable crossed polemarker Chase Auckland and then led a peg-line domination, which would see Victorian hope My Kiwi Mate turn a three-pegs placement into a third placing. There were big smiles again in the Sky Racing Active post-race interviews when reinsman Maurice McKendry revealed A G's White Socks overcame an early hiccup to score. "One of the shorterners come out so I had to pull it early, so he wasn't as sharp out of the gate as he could have been, (but) it all worked out," McKendry said. "He's in the zone at the moment, but he's got a hard one in a couple days time - 2700 - that will sort them out." The heat was a horror show for highly-rated Queenslander Colt Thirty One, who never settled, having been three-wide for much of the trip and fading to last for another low-point result, which will put his finals qualification under a huge cloud. It was a much better story for Sicario who ran on well to finish sixth and stay in the mix for trainer Brent Lilley and his Victorian owners. CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL FINISHING ORDER Caduceus Club Inter Dominion Trotting Championship fourth heat Temporale's career has new life after the Tony Herlihy trained and driven trotter added to an impressive comeback story with victory in tonight's final heat. Giving much credit to the preparation work of Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, Herlihy worked to the lead, crossing Bonnie Highlander who had earlier crossed favoured Marcoola. Heat two winner Paramount King loomed likely in an impressive late go and Marcoola flew home late along the peg line to run second, but the headline belonged to Temporale. "As we know, I owe a lot to Michelle and Bernie," Herlihy told Sky Racing. "He's going great, going like he can. I think the runs will do him no harm, he will get better with them." That includes this Friday's 2700-metre final night of heats. "It won't worry him at all. He's a good stayer, he's trotting really good - that's the main thing - and doing really well." It was a rough race for TeamVic's Big Jack Hammer, who galloped in the final straight to drop out, while Tough Monarch recovered from a horror start when he galloped from the gate to run fifth. CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL FINISHING ORDER Southern Bred Southern Reared Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Heat 3 Majestic Man flew the gate and made a mighty statement in the third ID19 trotting heat, dominating the all-Kiwi affair. With Habibi Inta on his back Majestic Man had no difficulty in shrugging off his trailers, using his high speed to salute for reinsman Brad Williamson and trainer Phil Williamson. Habibi Inta held on to run second with Massive Metro third and heat one winner Winterfell fourth, but it was a happy Brad Williamson who spoke to Sky Racing Active post-race. "Tonight he had a nice draw and just made it look easy," Williamson said. "I just went with them out of the gate. He wanted to come out a whole lot quicker than he did, but he crossed them so quickly I was just a passenger early and he just travelled so easily the whole way. He won really easily in the finish. "Dad's done a super job with him, bringing him up here after his run in the Dominion ... and turned his form around. The horse is flying. He's a privilege to drive." CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL FINISHING ORDER   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Sweeping a Trots Country Cups Championship night was so night Kate Gath would love to do it twice, with the leading reinswoman to steer a talented duo in Sunday's Stawell pacing and trotting cups. Having guided Phoenix Prince to Saturday night's Geelong Pacing Cup and War Spirit to the trotting equivalent, both in track record time, Gath joined Trots Talk this week ahead this Sunday's Stawell features. "(Winning country cups is) what it's all about and it's good reward for the hard work - definitely makes it worthwhile," Gath said. "(Phoenix Prince) was pretty impressive the way he hit the line. He was jogging the whole way and felt like he was doing it pretty easily, even though they were running. "He felt like he'd get up the straight pretty good if I got a decent run at them somewhere and we were lucky enough to get that and full credit to him. He was still good enough to get the job done against pretty quality horses." Phoenix Prince beat Code Black, leader in the $35,000 Trots Country Cups Championship, into second at Geelong and the Emma Stewart trained pair will go head to head on Sunday in the Talquist Tree Stawell Pacing Cup. "It's a little bit harder on the smaller, tighter tracks off the second row to make up the ground, but it's not a full field and with a little bit of luck he won't be too far away at the finish," Gath said. She will also steer Chief Runningcloud in the Grampians Excavations Stawell Trotters Cup, with the lightly-raced five-year-old to come off 10 metres along side Jerichos Trumpet. "He trialled quite well (at Melton) on Monday night," Gath said. "He's pretty good from the stand. It doesn't have a whole lot of depth in it, obviously Kyvalley Finn's the one to beat, but providing he handles the track hopefully he won't be too far away." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL EDITION OF TROTS TALK:     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard  

Often-underrated mare Reciprocity will attempt to make a leap to the state's elite via this year's Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup, fresh from a one-lap last to first dash at Melton. Having won nine of 30 starts for trainer Peter Manning at an average starting price of $8.83, Reciprocity will launch from gate three in Saturday night's feature and has been installed as a $13 outsider with TAB.com.au. Reinswoman Kerryn Manning told Trots Talk the six-year-old mare "needs to step up and see what happens". "It's a very strong field, she's just drawn a bit awkward in three, where she's going to need to get in the running line probably and hopefully get some good cover." While co-favourites Tam Major and Trots Country Cups Championship leader Code Black loom large on the back row, Manning will be hoping the big guns pour plenty of pace into the race to allow Reciprocity to invoke her fast finish. That was certainly on display last Friday night, when she came from last at the bell to climb over the 12-horse field and win the $20,000 pace. "The race was run to suit - the leaders went pretty hard up front, we got a nice cart up, albeit three back and three wide, but she's a pretty smart horse on her day," Manning said. "It was pretty pleasing to go on and win." The world's most successful reinswoman is hoping that form can translate to Saturday's higher grade. "She's quite versatile, she has shown at times she can sit-sprint or she can do a bit of work. She's probably going to have to rely on a bit of luck, but if the speed's on she will run on really well. "The owner's a lovely fella, Henry (Campbell), and hopefully she can go well in the cup. It's a bit harder again this week but she deserves to be there." Manning has also prepared Pantzup, the pacer turned trotter who was a nominee for Victorian trotting mare of the year. Previously trained by Gavin Lang, who's battling illness, Pantzup will step off the back mark in Saturday's Yabby Dam Racing McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup. "Again we will need a lot of luck in a big field, but it's a nice even field, if she improves off St Arnaud (Cup) and gets a little bit go her way they will know she's there." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The rise and rise of Magicool will be put under the griller at Tabcorp Park Melton this Friday night when Chris Svanosio's stable star takes on some of Victoria's best in the Aldebaran Park Lenin Trotters Free For All. Fresh off superb victories punching the breeze at Melton at Melton on November 2 and then in the Yarra Valley Trotters Cup the following Thursday, Magicool opened a $1.80 favourite with TAB.com.au for Friday's feature despite his outside-the-front-row draw. He's since eased to $2.25, with Jilliby Babavska shortening from from $3.80 to $2.40, a movement that won't surprise trainer-driver Svanosio. "It will be pretty tough just looking at it quickly from the draw," Svanosio told the Trots Talk radio show. "He's drawn barrier seven, he's done it pretty tough his last couple of starts, but I will still probably end up back closer to the tail of the field against some pretty good horses, so he will have to step up again to be in the finish I'd say. "You've got to have a few things go right when you are drawn out there, it will be tough, he's well, but it will be tough for him." Having said that, the lightly-raced six-year-old has shown the ability to surprise even his trainer, including with his Trots Country Cup Championship victory at his last start. "He's old enough, but he hasn't done a lot of racing. To have those two runs five days a part, sit in the chair both times and the way he finished off at Yarra Valley I was very impressed with how he handled everything," Svanosio said. "He surprised me at Yarra Valley, I didn't think he should have been able to do that - to sit there over 2600 and sprint home like he did on a pretty ordinary day. He was fantastic." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO TUNE IN TO TROTS TALK   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

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