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He may have gotten off to a tough couple of starts but things have otherwise started beautifully for Steven Loftus’ first trotting project, My Mate Yankee. The Angus Hall colt will be hunting a third victory from his fourth start in today’s Santons Of Bendigo 2YO Trot, which will stream on Trots Vision at 7pm. The Australian Premier Trotting Sale purchase has “done everything I’ve asked of him” says Loftus, including overcoming breaking gate at the start of his first and second races by recovering to run second and first. ”He’s done a good job and I hope he keeps doing it,” he said, well aware “two-year-old trotters can be iffy at times”. Bred by Darren Aitken, My Mate Yankee was the last of the yearling’s to go under the hammer at the 2019 trotting sale, with Loftus and his family, wife Tracy and son Daniel, snapping him up for $10,000 under their business name Downunder Sulky Company. He’s by Angus Hall out of Yankee Stella, with Loftus saying “he’s got some nice horses in his dam side, so I thought I’d have a go”. Yankee Stella is a half-sister to Majestic Ess Jay ($173,994) and Valley Ess Jay ($111,288), and Loftus said her first foal, My Mate Yankee, was “a lovely trotter to do anything with”. “I try to buy one or two from the yearling sales, and if it doesn’t work out I might be out of action for a couple of years,” he said. “I had Alpha Male here for pre-training for Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) and he spelled a couple of times at my house. Tracey loves the trotters and he was such a lovely horse to have around. We decided to give a trotter a try. We didn’t know what to expect from the start, but what we have done seems to have worked.” The only blip has been those starts, which occurred at his first two starts when fronting the mobile, but no such problems last start when off the back row. Tonight he starts from the widest gate of the six-horse field, which includes fellow winners Keayang Ninja, Whos The Man and Illawong Moonbeam. “He’s not really an excitable horse, but he gets to races and gets a little nervous,” Loftus said. “He hasn’t trialled against a lot. He’s probably a bit inexperienced around other horses. Once he settles down he should be a nice racehorse. He just trots along on a loose rein, if we can just get the starts out of his system and get him used to that he should be fine.” They’re encouraging signs given he’s already impressive stat line and suggests the Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series windows are well and truly open. “I think I’ll keep poking him along, space his runs and see if he can last till the end of the year,” Loftus said. “He’s a good doer, likes his work, so hopefully I will keep improving him and see if he can’t be competitive in the bigger series. “We are just happy he has been more than competitive at the moment. Everyone is racing about 2:03, and basically whoever does everything right and with a bit more of a step up in time will set the running.” It’s an exciting thought for Loftus, a long-time trots lover whose career high stakes win to date was Bettor Downunder’s win in the 2014 3YO Argent Classic. Training is perhaps the most modest part of his trots involvement, being the track curator at Ballarat and District Trotting Club and owning Downunder Sulky Company. “I generally work seven days week. It keeps me busy,” he said, adding the sulky business was “my passion”. “I’ve been interested in harness racing all my life through family. I was lucky enough to go to America, see how they made their sulkies. I started out making a couple of jog karts and have gone from there. “We’ve been in operation for seven years. Things are going really good, I believe the product is competitive with anything on the world market, and they are made locally, so if anything goes wrong we can repair it. Our business has been flat out this year, which says we must be doing something right.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Ian Chambers is hopeful his debutant at Shepparton today will have a bit of a sting in his tail as the trainer prepares what he anticipates will be his last first starter. The long-time Kyabram Harness Racing Club administrator unveils Faragalioni in the Barastoc 3YO Maiden Pace, which streams at 6.30pm on Trots Vision. Regally bred, with his dam a full-sister to Hunter Cup winner Sting Lika Bee (pictured by Gary Wild), Chambers said the gelding would be “my last hurrah”. “As I stand this will be my last horse,” said Chambers, who’s had a hand in the sport for 55 years. “I have lived in Kyabram for over 50 years but am moving to Geelong in October to make it easier for myself and my daughter.” It will be an end of an era for Chambers and the Kyabram club, where he has served throughout his time in the township, including nine years as president. Aged 73, his trots connection began as a 17-year-old driver and though he “changed direction” after marrying Lyn five years later, they enjoyed "a lifetime association with the Kyabram club".  “I have generally trained one or two myself, but only potted around as a hobbyist,” Chambers said. “It has always been a passion. I was in the era of horses. My dad had a working team of draught horses, I started going to the races and it just grew and grew. Horses have always been in our DNA.” But he hasn’t had a starter since May 5 2016, an absence in large part to the sad passing of wife Lyn. It explains why Faragalioni hasn’t debuted before tomorrow night, deep into his three-year-old. The Grinfromeartoear progeny's been with Chambers since he snapped him up from Lemon Tree Stud breeder Ross Gange in May 2018. And you don’t have to delve too far into the breeding lines to see the attraction. Faragalioni's name's taken from the three rock formations that sit off the coast of Italy’s Capri island, with the three-year-old’s dam named Foxy Capri, who's “a full-sister to some very, very, very good horses”. In particular the aforementioned Sting Lika Bee, the 2007 Hunter Cup winner who accumulated $1,042,381 in career stakes. “He was just a very, very tough horse,” said Chambers, who recalls being there the day Sting Lika Bee was sold at Shepparton sales by Lemon Tree Stud in 1999 for $30,000. “He was a week old,” Chambers recalled. “That was a good price then.” The price was fuelled in large part to Stinga Lika Bee (and Foxy Capri’s) full-brother Hi Ho Silverwheels, who won $1,197,987 in the US and would go on to be a stallion of note. They are good bloodlines from which Chambers’ Faragalioni will launch his career from gate seven tonight, entering off three trials that produced two fifth placings and a last start third. “His trials have been encouraging (but) he has got a way to go,” Chambers said. “The barrier draw tomorrow night is no help whatsoever. Over the mile, you nearly have to go back and be better than the rest to go around them. As handy as he is, if he gets a place I would be really happy.” And Chambers is confident that his “last hurrah” will bring some memorable moments. “We’ve only got a couple of little things to iron out, but the horse has ability – no doubt about that. “He certainly has gait speed, except for the trial against Lochinvar Chief he has led in them all and handed up. He has speed and I think he will get stronger, but he’s just got a lot to learn at this stage.”   HRV - Michael Howard

The battle lines are drawn, with the much-anticipated match-up between Ride High and Lochinvar Art scheduled for Saturday night at Ballarat, seeing off what's seemed the longest winter. The Ballarat Beast has taken all before him this campaign but faces his greatest challenge to date on his home track when he finally crosses swords with Victoria's fastest ever pacer, Lochinvar Art. The latter's trainer-driver David Moran will back up his 4YO Bonanza and Chariots Of Fire winning star this Saturday night, reassured by Lochinvar Art's convincing victory in last Saturday's Simonds Homes Bendigo Pace. Moran joined RSN927 and SENTrack this morning to declare his superstar would face off against Clayton Tonkin's speed machine Ride High at Bray Raceway. "Providing everything goes good between now and Saturday we are probably going to go ahead," Moran told RSN927. "He'd been pretty good all week. I knew he'd need the run a little bit, but once I got up outside Jodi (Quinlan on Major Times) at around the 900-metre mark I knew he was on song then, because he wanted to get up and stare him down. I knew he was back then." It was a significant bounce back for Lochinvar Art after he was undone in his previous start by Major Times, when he was later found to have suffered a minor viral infection. Moran said Ballarat this Saturday was "not the most ideal timing" for Lochinvar Art to lock horns with Victoria's most explosive pacer, but this hit-out was the best option owing to no suitable race at Shepparton the following week and an unsuitably long trip to Terang the only option on September 13.  "I'm not going to say I'm confident by any means," he said. "There's no doubt that if (Lochinvar Art) did draw inside him that Ride High would have to be good to beat him. "(Lochinvar Art) probably needs to be rock hard to race a horse of that ilk. (Ride High)'s in good form and he's a great horse. (Lochinvar Art) probably needs to be 110 per cent rock hard to beat him." But Moran said he "did feel a lot relief when we crossed the line, that's for sure" when Lochinvar Art returned to winning form at Bendigo and was hopeful he would draw inside Ride High, with both having the maximum 120 national rating points. "This preparation has been a little bit up and down," he said. "It would be good to have another couple of runs under his belt, but at the end of the day if he did happen to draw inside him he still will have to be good to beat him." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW:   HRV - Michael Howard  

Somehow the stars broke through the chilling rain to shine brightly at Bendigo tonight, with Lochinvar Art reaffirming his status and a new mare on the block rattling the trotting ranks. Imsettogo was one of the few Yabby Dam Racing Trot competitors without a Group 1 beside her name but that didn’t stop her leaving a host of heavy-hitters in her wake to land the biggest win of her short career. It came just 30 mins after David Moran’s fellow four-year-old regained his status at the head of affairs among the pacers with a handsome win in the Simonds Homes Bendigo Pace, with Lochinvar Art dispelling any doubts from his previous surprise loss. “He bounced back this week. He had a couple of little hiccups after Ballarat and he rectified them, so he will take a fair bit out of tonight. It was very good,” Moran told Trots Vision. “He was a different horse tonight. When I got outside the leader he travelled really good and liked to eyeball them a little bit. Last week I knew I was in trouble about the 600-700, when Jodi (Quinlan on Major Times) got outside me he never picked up the bit at all.” Tonight’s race was almost the inverse of the previous start, when Lochinvar Art spent energy early to find the front and was then beaten into submission by Quinlan and Major Times in the breeze. On this occasion it was Major Times who set off first, but Quinlan needed much of the first lap to advance from the back row to the front and as soon as she did Lochinvar Art was on her hip for the trip home. By the time they reached the final straight Lochinvar Art had the race sorted, eventually winning by 10.5 metres off a 55.9-second last half, with Rocknroll Icon narrowly beating his former stablemate Major Times for second. “I did it last week at Ballarat and Jodi did it tonight, they’re tricky races to look at on paper,” Moran said. “At Ballarat when you looked at the front row you’d think there’d be an early burn to a degree and then the front would be there for me or Major Times. “And tonight was the same sort of thing. I wasn’t sure what Jodi was going to do, but I wasn’t going to try and do it again after he had that little issue. Jodi (went forward) and I thought she’d find the front pretty easy, and she had to do a lot of work. Sometimes these races are a little hard to gauge.” Lochinvar Art’s 18th win would have been a satisfying result for Moran, who said while he “wasn’t too worried about getting beat last (start), that’s racing, that happens … there was more pressure heading into this week considering he missed a few days and he was going to need the run”. However, “it worked out good” and now he looks forward to more racing and a crack at the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, scheduled for October 10. “We will take it week by week, there’s nothing set in stone just yet,” he said. “We will keep him healthy, keep him racing and play it by ear.” There will also be lofty targets in the path of Imsettogo after Anton Golino’s Used To Me trotter, a big half-sister to two-time Group 1 winner Im Ready Jet, again showed her outstanding pace to win the headline trot, which was sponsored by her own Yabby Dam Racing stable. Reinsman Darby McGuigan said the mare would likely tackle November’s Breeders Crown and December’s Vicbred Super Series, and after toppling the heads of state in the trotting ranks tonight the open-class Group 1s must also be in the frame. “She’s going to have to match it with them all the time now, but she’s only a four-year-old mare,” McGuigan told Trots Vision. “A Vicbred or the Breeders Crown when they come around are definitely right up her alley.” It was a mixed result for Golino’s camp with their star first-up mare Dance Craze blazing from the gate only to break stride and giving ground to the entire field. That enabled Sundons Courage to successfully make a play for the front, with Imsettogo tagging onto his back. “It worked out good,” McGuigan said. “I knew that Sundons Courage was going to be an all right one to sit behind because he wouldn’t hand up. It left Tornado Valley out there doing the work and Wobelee was going to have to come from behind. “Because she follows speed so good it was just the perfect spot to be. (She) felt incredible and obviously finished off really well.” Wobelee was three-wide for the last half of the lap and loomed likely at the turn before being upstaged by Imsettogo’s fresh legs and turn of speed, with Red Hot Tooth (third) and Dance Craze (fourth) crashing the line as the mares filled three of the first four placings. Tornado Valley looked to pull prior to and throughout the race and would ultimately run sixth on his race return, proving a handful for reinswoman Kate Gath. There were no such worries for McGuigan. “(Imsettogo’s) a beautiful trotter, just so smooth in her gate,” he said. “I think personally a good trotter like that is just the greatest thing to drive and the best feeling. Driving one like her is just awesome.”   HRV - Michael Howard

He may be by some way the second highest stakes earner contesting tonight’s headline pace but few fly under the radar like this five-time Group 1 placegetter. Sicario, whose season includes a country cup win and seventh placing in the Inter Dominion final at Auckland, returns tonight amid a stellar Simonds Homes Bendigo Pace field. While the spotlight will draw to the two horses on his outside, Major Times and Lochinvar Art, Brent Lilley’s five-year-old is well-placed to add to his $427,125 in career stakes win. Reinsman Chris Alford said Sicario had only known top-flight competition and he was optimistic there was more success in store for the gelding, who's first up from consecutive Kilmore victories in April. “He did really well in the Inters and every race that he’s contested has been free-for-all or above,” Alford said. “He’s had three or four trials. Although trials aren’t races, he’s going to be pretty close to the mark and he felt super in his last couple.” Sicario comfortably won his three trials from August 2 to August 16, including getting home in a 56.9-second last half at Maryborough last start when he impressed his reinsman. “He does feel a lot stronger this time that what he did last time in,” Alford said. And he has no doubt he has the speed to match that improved strength. “I think you’ll find that he ran the fastest last half ever at Auckland when four or five wide on the track in one of the Inter heats, so he’s always had the ability,” he said. “He probably can’t do the work against the best ones, but if he gets the right run he’s always dangerous.” And that includes tomorrow night, when he’ll start from gate nine, behind Rupert Of Lincoln, from where Alford will plot a path forward. “We’ve got a good trailing draw so he should be able to push through,” he said. “Whether we get a chance to get around in front of the other ones (Lochinvar Art and Major Times) could be problematic, but we will just have to play it by ear.” Tonight’s race is a fortnight since Major Times upset $1.10 favourite Lochinvar Art, with the latter found to be suffering a minor viral infection post-race, while third-placed My Kiwi Mate has drawn gate eight and again lies in wait. The race streams at 7.35pm on Trots Vision, with the following race – the Yabby Dam Racing Trot – another must-see match-up with Dance Craze and Tornado Valley making their return to clash with Red Hot Tooth, Big Jack Hammer and Wobelee among a glut of Group 1 winners. Click here for more on the high-class trot.   HRV - Michael Howard

The stars will align this Saturday night in an extraordinary field of trotters fit for any of the 28 Group 1s they already have in their keeping. The Yabby Dam Racing Trot marks the return of the past two Great Southern Star winners Dance Craze and Tornado Valley plus gifted mare Red Hot Tooth, who was only beaten a lip from having her name on Australia’s richest trotting race. They join fit and firing Wobelee, Big Jack Hammer, Sundons Courage and Cruisin Around, who are among the seven Group 1 winners in the 10-horse field, which is completed by C K Spur and Our Kings Landing, who have taken on the Kiwi’s best, and blisteringly quick four-year-old mare Imsettogo. “It’s a great field,” said Wobelee’s reinsman Chris Alford, who has guided his star to all 23 of his wins. “You’ve got the champ Tornado Valley back, the best trotting mare in Australia Dance Craze back and throw in Wobelee, Sundons Courage, Big Jack Hammer – it’s a great field of trotters.” The Alison Alford-trained Wobelee has won four of six this campaign, with all but the first featuring top line Andy Gath trotter McLovin, having been close to flawless before showing some old habits still lingered when he failed to score up last start. “He seems really good in himself,” Chris Alford said. “He had a couple of good wins and then we were probably a bit easier on him after his last one. He got a bit fresh and cantered a bit in the score up and had to chase from 100 metres behind, which just took it out of him the last little bit. “But he seems really good this week and I’m sure he will run really well.” The legacy of that missed start may still have some marginal impact, with Wobelee out of the draw for Saturday night and therefore relegated from gate eight or nine to gate 10 – outside Tornado Valley on the back row. Alford said the fall-out was likely negligible, with Wobelee always best suited to trailing. “Now he’s in this grade he’s better driven for his speed,” he said. “Depending on what happens in the run, there is going to be at least one good horse that we can follow up. “The two with the score on the board are Dance Craze and Tornado Valley. I know they are both first up, but I’m pretty sure they will be close to the mark and the two hardest to beat.” The Yabby Dam Racing Trot streams at 8.05pm on Saturday night on Trots Vision, which will have live, free and extended coverage from before the first race, when race caller Lachie McIntosh will be joined by Paul Campbell from the parade ring and Kirsten Graham in the Winners’ Circle.   HRV - Michael Howard

A “risky” leap of faith and a first race funk are long forgotten for Chelsea Burns, whose first foray into trots ownership has brought extraordinary success and a “forever” horse. Along with partner Sam Stewart, who works for and is a brother of trainer Emma Stewart, Burns snapped up Freddy Funk for $9000 in a claiming race a tick over a year ago. Today at Ballarat the now seven-year-old steps out for his 33rd start for his new owners, a significant quantity that has also delivered quality, having produced 12 wins, four placings and almost $90,000 in winnings. “Right after we claimed him he ran sixth and I thought we’ve completely done our money, but he turned a corner in training and his work rate,” Burns said. “It turned out he was a sensational horse and has done so much for us – we will keep him forever.” That attachment to Freddy Funk formed quickly after Burns and Sam Stewart put in a claim for the gelding on August 10 last year, the last of his four starts for trainer Adam Kelly that followed many more in New South Wales for Nathan Turnbull. “I’d never claimed a horse before,” Burns said. “Sam was probably more interested than me – I thought it was too risky, but Sam looked at his form and thought it was worthwhile. “I’ve never put out money like that before and it was a real risk for me. It was a real gamble to see whether he was someone he could turn around, because he had had plenty of racing.” After running eighth in the race from which they claimed him Freddy Funk followed up with a sixth in his debut for Emma Stewart, but any nerves would soon be allayed when he would win five of his next six starts, all in claiming races. At that stage it was a case of mission accomplished. “Our intent was to see how he went, whether he was capable of winning a race and then look at selling him on as a claimer,” Burns said. But, despite the mounting wins, no claims would come for Freddy Funk and the pacer become embedded in his new camp and Burns was relishing the owning experience. “He’s my first harness racehorse,” she said. “(Harness racing is) a lifestyle for (Sam), something I’m definitely a part of. I always used to go to the races to support him with Emma and Clayton too, and would go to the stable to help out. “Freddy’s the first time I’ve ever experienced the feeling of success or celebrating your own horse. I have always gone to the races with Emma and Clayton and Sam and celebrated other people’s horses’ winning, but this is a really personal journey. It’s been a really good opportunity to enjoy that personal celebration.” The success would continue into 2020, including three on the trot, but all were heart-in-mouth moments for Burns. The March 14 Hygain Claiming Pace, which he won by almost eight metres, would be the last time he’d be dangled in front of potential claimer buyers. “The last couple (of claimers) he went in I was really apprehensive and worried about letting him go,” Burns said. “I was quite surprised he didn’t get claimed. “I said to Sam I don’t want to muck around with that anymore because I didn’t want to see him go. I’d be devastated if I lost him. “Freddy has become part of our life. He doesn’t owe us anything anymore and is such a quirky horse. He’s a real grumpy old man. “He’ll just walk with Sam without a lead, put himself on the walker or on the float. He is just such a beautiful animal. “He definitely helped getting us set up. It’s our first house and first property and he’s been a massive part of that. He’s worked so hard and is such a great doer. He tries every time.” So, while he continues to race and regularly win for Burns and Stewart, its almost five months since he’s been entered in a claimer. Today he contests the Flying Horse Takeaway Pace, which streams on Trots Vision at 2.29pm, and was rated a $2.80 chance by form analyst Craig Rail. Today’s challenge marks a significant drop in class from his most recent starts, which include a bout against famed stablemate Ride High. “He’s had a couple of hard races. It’s good to get him back to his level of racing,” Burns said. “All we really want is for him to go around and do well. He’ll let us know when he’s had enough, but there is no indication of him slowing down.” TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden from 11am to 1pm on SENTrack, which airs on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app. The good oil from the Vic trials circuit BLACKBOOK: Shepparton, R7 N9, Do Not Surrender Settled down last on the markers, pulled hard and jogged through the middle in the latter stages to finish an eye-catching fourth, seemingly with plenty left in the tank. REPORT & REPLAY   BLACKBOOK: Shepparton, R8 N2, Gotonebettor Settled three back on the markers but was inconvenienced in the back straight and lost 25m. He came out four horses wide on the home turn and finished off strongly for an eye-catching second. REPORT     HRV - Michael Howard

It’s not about breaking records, Kima Frenning said after Ride High cruised to a 10th consecutive victory, incidentally breaking Shepparton’s last quarter track record in the process. The Clayton Tonkin-trained star pacer was in cruise mode in winning tonight’s Neatline Homes Pace, a flawless performance that would have warmed the hearts of many, including those at the centre of Ride High’s sale that unfolded throughout the night. The Art Major five-year-old entire is set to be partly sold to Alabar, reported Adam Hamilton on Sky Racing, and connections prospective and present would have only had their confidence reinforced tonight. Ride High worked to the front in a 28.4-second first quarter with Sirletic happy to take the sit, enabling the $1.04 favourite to cruise through 31.2 and 28.6-second quarters before dropping the hammer for the trip home. With a 26.2-second last quarter he ran half-a-second faster than any horse had done at Shepparton in the final 400 metres, putting 8.4 metres between himself and Sirletic, with Repeat After Me some 25 metres shy of the winner. “There’s a lot of talk about breaking records and stuff, I don’t think there’s any need to do that,” Frenning told Trots Vision, with Ride High posting a 1:54.1 mile rate, more than five seconds slower than his last start win at Bendigo. “He does this on his own and he stays happy when he gets to do what he wants to do. And it keeps me happy as well.” Frenning has steered Ride High for all five starts this campaign, in which he’s joined the select group of 71 horses to produce 10-race winning streaks since 2000, and it’s clear he’s only just getting warmed up. “He’s just so professional,” Frenning said. “I was thinking about it when we were circling around at the start, there’s not that many horses that will just warm up, walk around, they won’t tippy-toe or anything, they just walk around and take everything in – and he’s exactly that. “When the gate let go he left with Sirletic and as soon as he got to the front he just dropped the bit and relaxed again, which is a really, really good asset to have.” And it’s an experience that Frenning’s savouring. “It’s amazing. When we are out there it’s just me and him and it’s the best feeling in the world. After the line it took me 400 to pull him up because he just wanted to keep going.” His gifts are also being enjoyed by his rivals, who can’t help but be unabashed fans. Among that number is reinsman Josh Aiken, who’s seen plenty of Ride High, having steered Sirletic to consecutive second placings behind him at his last two starts. “Ride High might be the best horse in the world,” Aiken told Trots Vision. “Watching the American free-for-allers, I’m not sure there’s a horse over there who would beat him. He’s as impressive (as any) animal I’ve seen. It’s just awesome to race against those horses. “Horseman and trainers and drivers are in awe of horses like that. Just to watch him warm up in a race, he’s just something else. No doubt he’s a great racehorse and I think he’s going to make a great stallion going forward.” Aiken and Sirletic threw their best shot at Ride High at Bendigo, holding the favourite in the breeze amid a 26-second third quarter only to watch their rival stride clear at the turn. “We were going a 26 quarter off the back of a 55 half and I’d never been that fast on a 1000-metre track before. I was still on the bit going top speed and Kima flicked him up and he went into a gear that we didn’t have. That was just unbelievable. I’ve never seen a horse accelerate off a 26 quarter like that.” But Aiken remains excited about the path ahead of Sirletic, who’s trained by his dad David and wears the late Gavin Lang’s colours, an ode to his former trainer and co-owner Meagan Lang. “We were really proud of our horse at Bendigo last start, (Sirletic) went 1:50.5 himself and he was fantastic,” Aiken said. “Tonight we adopted different tactics. We tried those tactics at Bendigo and we found out where we were and how good that horse (Ride High) is. “We were rapt with (Sirletic) tonight, we will back him up at Bendigo next week off that nice run. He’s the sort of horse that’s going to be competitive against those really good horses and probably benefit when there’s more of them in the race, when a few of those titans meet and he’s in behind them he will benefit a lot from that.”     HRV - Michael Howard

In a year to forget it’s been a season to remember for Reece Moore (pictured in April), whose optimism has thrived on opportunity during Mildura’s region-based racing. With steers in all eight races tonight, the trainer-driver is well poised to add to his 17 wins this season, a haul that’s almost double his eight-year career total (36). “I’m having a ball up here,” Moore said. “Obviously the covid restrictions and the impact it’s had on the state have been devastating, but I’ve got to look at the brighter side of things and I’ve been able to benefit from the regionalisation. “It’s given a lot of good opportunities for the horsemen in the district who normally wouldn’t have a chance.” And, under race caller Luke Humphreys’ watch, that local flavour's only strengthened the ‘True Mildura Style’ of racing that’s become a fixture of Friday nights. Moore said what “makes Mildura unique” was a “tight track” and determined driving that often saw races defy all expectations. “Certain drivers will hold the front and hold out favourites, for example Monday night I was on a two-year-old old and I held out a $1.30 shot. Things like that that don’t normally happen down south," he said. “Up here, we run races upside down, we might run our first half in 60 and get home in 62 and it will be a battle of the fittest horse. Things like that that make it for the viewers at home, it’s really exciting racing and you just don’t know what to expect in ‘True Mildura Style’.” As mentioned, Moore will be right in the thick of the action tonight with eight drives, five of which he trains himself. “I think all my horses will be very competitive,” he said. “I put a lot of time and effort into them and I look after them.” And he gave Trots Centre readers a runner-by-runner breakdown of his expectations, beginning with Artegra, who steps out from gate two in the first, The Euston Club Pace, and “is going to be very hard to beat”. “His was a pretty good run on Monday night, he was three-wide into the breeze and fought without cover and boxed on pretty good. I’d like to think he’d find the front and be very, very hard to beat in that field. He’s a pretty tough horse.” He follows up in race two – The Gateway Pace – with Rocking Wroxton, a maiden for trainer Cassandra O’Brien, who’s “got a lot of ability”. “He just needs a bit of luck and he’s got a good show at each-way odds.” In race three, the TAB Long May We Play 2YO & 3YO Pace, he said Harry McKinnis was “going to need a lot of luck” and “I probably don’t give him a winning or a place chance”. Graceful Art, who will contest the fourth, the Mildura Forklifts Pace, was “a sneaky place chance” from his wide draw. Moore then has a third consecutive starter from outside the front row in race five, where Neds Beach contests the Tasco Petroleum Pace. “Back to the short trip, the front line draw, could be a big improver.” Dragontown is his assignment in race six, the Gannon’s Harness Racing Colours Pace, and is “drawn out the back and going to need a lot of luck”. He finally gets a good draw in the Jo Morrish Harness Racing Photos Pace, with Sandoval to start from gate one in the seventh. “Was very luckless last start and I think he can run a big race drawn the pole. I think that race will be a lot of fireworks, a lot of horses with gate speed.” And then he caps a big night off with Kellys Ideal in the last, the Sunraysia Security Services Pace, and if “he gets some luck he will hard to beat”.   HRV - Michael Howard

Chris Svanosio will be hoping ‘Bettor’ times are ahead for his recent stable addition, who went awry despite big expectations on his Australian debut. Fingers will be crossed that Bettor My Dreamz can make amends in tonight’s Oxley Feed Mill Pace, one of two runners Svanosio will take to his home track of Bendigo for its nine-race card that kicks off on Trots Vision at 5.25pm. There were plenty of high expectations when Bettor My Dreamz debuted at Shepparton on August 4, with the four-year-old Bettors Delight gelding out of All My Dreamz, a half-sister to Im Corzin Terror ($513,219). Victorian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, Carol Simpson and the Maclean Family snapped him up in February 2019 with two New Zealand wins to his credit, including a $20,000 win on New Zealand Cup Day. He would add another in August last year amid 13 starts in the hands of first All Stars Racing’s Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and later Ray Green. “He run a few good races in New Zealand,” Svanosio said. “I’ve always been watching him because Elizabeth (Maclean) and her family have been part owners all the time. He ended up on a hard mark pretty quickly, but has obvious ability.” Last starting in New Zealand on November 1, he’d first trial for Svanosio at Kilmore on July 7, running third before first placings at Bendigo (July 19) and Maryborough (July 26), earning a place in Craig Rail's Trial File Blackbook. “He’d had three trials and trialled better each time,” Svanosio said. “I was very happy with his last trial.” And then came his debut. “He was horrible at Shepparton,” Svanosio said of the August 4 run, when the $2.50 favourite advanced to the breeze and was the first horse beaten, eventually finishing last, almost 30 metres shy of the winner. Making it all the more head scratching was that Bettor My Dreamz had no ill affects that would explain the performance. “He pulled up really and has worked well since,” Svanosio said. “We checked him all out, he just seemed so well. “I wouldn’t be racing him again if I thought he would run similarly. Hopefully he can show us a lot more than last time.” Bettor My Dreamz will start from gate nine tonight and is likely to again carry punters’ favour and be a quaddie regular, and Svanosio said he would drive him with confidence. “If I have to get going again I will,” he said. “On trials, he should be right to do whatever I need to do.” Bettor My Dreamz is one of two Svanosio will race tonight, with four-year-old trotter Benji Hall looking well placed to register win number three from his 11th start. “This is a bit easier than our last few starts,” Svanosio said. “He is back to racing horses who have won one or two races, with the horses who had been beating him home having won five or six his last few starts. “I’ve been happy with his runs. He obviously needs to keep out of trouble early (in the standing start), but if negotiates a safe passage early he should be getting pretty close at the finish.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Another pacer looks set to take a step in the right direction for Mick Gadsden, who’s latest reclamation project strides on to the track at Shepparton tonight for her first start, an achievement that's no small feat. Supremely bred Sporting Model makes her debut in the Equine After Care 3YO Maiden Pace tonight, something of a milestone for her owners, including trainer Shaun McNaulty, who snapped her up at the 2018 Australian Pacing Gold sales. The Art Major filly is out of 27-time winning mare All Eyes On Me ($349,926), which makes her a full-sister to Breeders Crown Graduate winner All Eyes On Us ($307,515). However, that royal breeding hasn’t yet shone through. McNaulty recently handed the three-year-old to Gadsden, hoping the latter's extensive experience as a farrier could overcome the prospect’s early difficulties. “She had a few tries with Shaun and was getting on her knee a bit,” Gadsden said. “He decided to send her to me to try and get her sorted out.” Two months on and good progress has been made, including a competitive third placing in a Stawell trial on July 1. Gadsden said being a professional farrier made it much easier for him to continually experiment with different practices to overcome the pacer’s troubles. “I can work with her, make changes and little adjustments, trial and error,” he said. “I think we have got the knee knocking under control and am pleased she is starting to look like a racehorse.” It’s not an unfamiliar situation for the Charlton trainer, who is one half of Mickbeigh Racing, along with partner/driver Denbeigh Wade. “Nearly all the better horses we have had have come with foot issues, including King Denny and Ainthatrightmacca,” he said. “It’s definitely a challenge I enjoy and it can give you an edge to be able to shoe your own horses and fix things there and then.” Having said that, his expectations are modest for Sporting Model in tonight's third race, which streams at 6.23pm on Trots Vision. “She is quite a large horse for a three-year-old, well over six or seven hands, and is a little slow picking things up,” Gadsden said. “She definitely has a race in her, but it may take her four or five races to learn what it takes to be a racehorse. Being the size she is and the issues with her knee knocking she has lost a bit of conficence, but I feel she is improving each time.” Gadsden will also race Markleigh Caz tonight, with the consistent six-year-old mare contesting the Saddleword Shepparton Pace. “She’ll need the run. She lost out a bit when the Maryborough meeting was called off. She needs to race once a week to stay in race shape, so she’ll be a run short,” Gadsden said. “She draws awkward, but she will run an honest sort of race.” Markleigh Caz is a consistent race day presence for the stable, which has recently relocated to Charlton’s training centre and is thriving. “We’re up to working 12 now with another due to come back in,” Gadsden said. “We have had a few wins and King Denny was good first up and will be in at Shepparton on Saturday night. “There is a Charlton meeting next Monday and we are looking to have three or four there, and it will be good to get out on the new home track.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran has no reservations entering enemy territory tonight ahead of a looming showdown with the Ballarat beast, Ride High. While the latter is resting after a breathtaking win at Bendigo on Saturday, Shepparton’s pacing superstar Lochinvar Art will contest the Flying Horse Takeaway Pace at 8.32pm at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway. This marks the second hit-out of Lochinvar Art’s campaign and an important lead-in to the much-hyped clash with Ride High. “We’ll try and get the job done the best we can and move on from there,” Moran told RSN 927 ahead of tonight’s free-for-all pace. The race presents as a crucial lead-in to a likely showdown between Ride High and Lochinvar Art at Shepparton on August 15, which racing fans have been craving since Clayton Tonkin’s pacer returned from a spell in June. Ride High, who’s trained at Tonkin and Emma Stewart’s Cardigan stables, has gone on a tear, winning all four of his starts, breaking records and improving to 14 career wins from 15 starts, but with the caveat of modest competition. Enter Lochinvar Art, the quickest horse in Victorian history and reigning 4YO Bonanza and Chariots Of Fire champion, who returned to racing with a Shepparton win on July 25 and has the second start of his campaign tonight. “He’s pulled up brilliantly, he’s jumping out of his skin,” Moran said. “It was probably a perfect first-up run really, he got around there pretty cheap, he’ll take a lot of the run. He will probably take a bit more out of (tonight) and I’d imagine after that he’d be pretty close to 100 per cent.” Tonkin had already circled August 15 at Shepparton as Ride High’s next hit-out and this week Moran said “he’d be silly not to” take the chance to face-off against Ride High “right in our backyard”. “As long as he pulls up good (from tonight), we’ll obviously know a bit more Monday how he is, then I’ll nominate him and go from there.” While confident of the talent he has in his hands Moran was also effusive in his praise for Ride High. “He’s a beautiful horse,” he said. “To do what he did and just the way he savages the line, to me I guess that’s the scariest part of taking him on – how he attacks the line.”   HRV - Michael Howard

A first superstar showdown between Ride High and Lochinvar Art appears set for August 15, with both camps bookmarking the Shepparton race night. Ride High’s fortnightly forays on to the racing scene are becoming the stuff of legend as Clayton Tonkin’s Ballarat beast continues to leave rivals in his wake and the clock quivering, most recently with a breathtaking 1:49.0 mile rate at Bendigo last Saturday. The asterix next to claims of him being Australia’s best pacer has been the absence of Grand Circuit rivals, but Lochinvar Art looks set to change that with trainer-driver David Moran orchestrating a heavyweight bout in 10 days. His Shepparton star returned by cruising to a win on his home deck on July 25 and will be second-up at Ballarat this Saturday night. Moran told Sky Racing’s In The Gig he tuned into Ride High’s record-breaking Bendigo run and said he “was awesome”. “It’s a pretty big build up for when they do meet,” Moran said. “We are trying not to plan too far ahead. We will get Ballarat out of the way Saturday night and then possibly go to Shepparton the following week – I think Clayton was pretty keen to do the same (night).” While Moran said there was plenty of water to go under the bridge before fields were finalised next Tuesday, he said “a great clash” between “two great horses” was on the cards. “It’s going to be pretty awesome to watch,” he said. “Shepparton is down for a mile race, it’s going to make it very interesting. “We have got to draw outside of him, we will just see what happens when the time comes, and have a look at the nominations and go from there. And also see how he pulls up from Ballarat, but he seems really good at the moment, so it’s a little bit exciting.” Tonkin has flagged August 15 as Ride High’s next hit-out, with both top-line pacers building towards the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on October 10. Confidence is certainly high in the camp, only further fuelled by the extraordinary Bendigo performance. “(Ride High’s) great for the industry because he is an excitement machine,” Tonkin told In The Gig. “I still think he’s got a little bit more left to season him up a little bit. The times he’s running, it’s crazy to think that he can run them times and do it so easy.” Tonkin said Ride High had “missed a fair bit of racing” and the stable “will definitely make up for it now and get after some good races”. “He’s a beautiful race horse, great speed, he’s everything you want in a great horse. He’s next level.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Isn’t it nice when a plan just works. That’s certainly been the case for Shayne Eeles, who with family invested in a broodmare and two generations on continues to reap rewards. The Rochester trainer’s colt Allshookup continues an eye-catching three-year-old season tonight, when he steps out for the Saddleworld Shepparton 3YO Pace, which streams at 6.04pm on TrotsVision. A winner at consecutive starts before a last-start eighth when he overraced, Allshookup has impressed his trainer in his second campaign. “He seems to have a bit of bottom too him,” Eeles said. “I have a high opinion of what he can do.” It’s an educated opinion that was fostered under the tutelage of Barry Purdon, whose camp Eeles joined as an 18-year-old. He remained there for almost seven years, spending nearly half the year on the road helping Purdon rack up winners with the likes of Holmes D G and Surprise Package, before returning to Victoria and training in his own right from February 2001. A tick over six years later, with wife Roslyn and her parents Robert and Jenny Viney, Eeles purchased broodmare Teen Talk and her one-year-old foal, who would become Ballandella Baby, off breeder Peter Gleeson. “It’s a super family – that Hot Foot-Larrakeyah Lady family,” Eeles said. “The family keeps landing winners.” Teen Talk’s great grand-dam is Hot Foot, dam of Larrakeyah Lady, who has in turn produced rivers of pacing gold. Among her foals are Safe And Sound ($995,606), Massarua ($282,692), Gold Rocket ($393,387) and The Good Times ($201,024) to name a few, while descendants include Rocknroll Magic ($466,183), Major Secret ($464,872), Beauty Secret ($425,921), Lovelist ($222,889) and a five-year-old up and comer they call Ride High ($259,427).    In the case of Eeles’ purchase, Teen Talk’s produced eight winners, with Ballandella Baby the second most prolific for wins (11) and stakes ($84,000) before being retired for a broodmare career. “She did a good job, was a good mare for us,” Eeles said. “Getting her up and going, winning a few nice races and breeding a good one out of her, I enjoy that sort of thing – educating horses, giving them time, watching them develop. I get a kick out of it.” Ballandella Baby was pared with A Rocknroll Dance for her second foal, Allshookup, who has his 12th start today. His second campaign has delivered much of the $15,010 stakes his banked, having chased Vicbred Super Series success as a two-year-old but with a win on Humbletonian Day at Maryborough the only time he finished better than eighth in his initial six starts. “I probably made a blue and threw him in the deep end as a two-year-old,” Eeles said. “It probably didn’t help him, but he had qualified well and trialled well. “I only do a handful of horses and he hadn’t worked with other horses much. It was a little too much too early and he was chasing his tail a little. I battled with him last year, I always thought a lot of him, but he was never 100 per cent.” Allshookup had a tick over eight months on the sidelines before returning at Shepparton on June 19 with a fourth placing, which was followed by a second (June 29), two victories (July 6 and 19) and a last start eighth. “He had a really good break, I brought him up slow this time and got a proper preparation into him. He is not a big horse, but he is a strong little bloke, a good pacing horse and does his work well. “Doing a fair bit of work doesn’t bother him too much.” He led all-the-way to comfortably produce his two victories this time in, before overracing last start which he paid for late. “The occasion got to him a little too much the other night and he fired up and that cost him in the finish,” Eeles said. “I have changed gear a little bit, taken the block blinds off to get him to relax, switch off and do what (driver) Chris (Alford) wants him too.” Tonight Allshookup is drawn outside lead rivals Monterei Heaven and Hesty but still likely to advance to a forward post. “There is a little bit of depth there, a couple who go good enough. I think this little bloke, if he is on his game and relaxes, he will be right in it. “He will probably go forward. I don’t give Chris too many instructions, I wouldn’t worry if he relaxed him off the gate, but he will probably go forward.” And a good performance and continual maturation could have Eeles against chasing Vicbred Super Series success come year’s end. “He probably won’t have a lot of time off between now and the end of the year,” he said. “The sires stakes are the plan. He probably needs to get a bit more seasoned. I won’t overrace him and he might need a freshen up, but I would like to give him three to four more runs, get him more seasoned and build his confidence. “If he measures up to the better ones I will press on. I think he is pretty capable of doing a job. I like him, hopefully he keeps stepping up.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Ride High's record-breaking rout of Victorian circuits reached ridiculous new heights at Bendigo tonight with Clayton Tonkin's pacer ripping 2.7 seconds off the track record, winning in an audacious 1:49 mile rate. Built off a 26-second third quarter the five-year-old notched a 14th win in his 15th start and in doing so became only the second horse to win in Victoria in a sub-1:50 mile rate, having been only 0.4 of a second outside lead rival Lochinvar Art's spectacular 4YO Bonanza time. The performance only further whets the appetite of a mooted clash between David Moran's Lochinar Art and Tonkin's Ride High, with the star pacers so far landing blows in successive Saturday nights. For now the spotlight returned to reinswoman Kima Frenning and her pacer affectionately known as 'Chainsaw'. "There's been a bit of talk about how he hasn't beaten a lot and he's got to prove that he's really good and I think he just did that," Frenning told Trots Vision post-race. "Plugs still in and he does it so easy, it's just crazy." An aggressive Josh Aiken drive on Sirletic brought the best out of Ride High, with the former leading from gate four and running 27.6 and 27.8 first and second quarters as the trailing $1.04 favourite advanced from the back row to the running line and then the breeze. The pair then exploded through a 26.1-second third quarter that dropped the remainder of the eight-horse field, with Ride High surging ahead from the running line with an extraordinary burst of pace into the final term and becoming a conclusive 21.4-metre winner come the finishing line. Unchallenged and with plugs still in down the final straight he got home in 27.5 seconds to complete the record mile rate, almost three seconds quicker than the time Aiken set with Leonidas at Bendigo on June 6. "We fired him off the gate all his starts prior to this one and then to be able to come off the back row and relax, be off their backs and then take off and do what he did ..." Frenning said. "I mean, he doesn't spend any more energy than what he has to. I think that makes him a really, really good racehorse. "He never carries on, he never pulls. I drove him in a trial a couple of years ago now and I sat him up, he dropped the bit and as soon as I pulled out he just went. He's got the whole package. I have still never pulled the plugs on him." It's a fourth successive victory for Frenning and Ride High this campaign and another stunning 53.6-second last half, completing an extraordinary sequence of last 800-metre records having previously gone 52.7 seconds (Melton), 53.6 seconds (Melton) and 53.4 seconds (Ballarat). Tonight at Bendigo his 26.1-second third quarter was the quickest ever recorded at the track, toppling Sir Briggen's 26.7-second quarter set in a concession drivers pace, as well as being the quickest ever last half, having been some 1.9 seconds superior to Leonidas' mark. "I"m just so grateful that I get to be the littlest part of this horse's journey and it's super special," Frenning said. And the exciting part is there is no doubt more to come, with King Of Swing and Cash N Flow outstanding in Sydney, Chicago Bull back to his best in Perth, several front line Kiwis returning and a battle with Lochinvar Art looming. "There are more of the better ones coming through - Self Assured raced (Friday) - it's going to be really exciting when they all come together," Frenning said. "I wouldn't swap mine for anyone." CLICK BELOW TO RELIVE RIDE HIGH'S RECORD-BREAKING WIN: HRV - Michael Howard

Like a number one draft pick in the AFL, the title of ‘sales topper’ follows a horse throughout its career, with high expectations to match the considerable excitement about its progress. Muscle Hill colt Aldebaran Knox, out of Skyvalley’s half-sister Aldebaran Kyvalley, carries that crown, having lured a winning $90,000 bid at the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale from trainer-driver Matt Craven. Tonight at Ballarat the now three-year-old colt continues his mission of transforming potential into prizemoney when he steps out in the Decoglaze 3YO Trotters Handicap, which streams on Trots Vision at 5.58pm. “He stood out when I saw him (as a yearling) at the farm and I knew he would attract a lot of interest,” Craven recalls. “Muscle Hill’s were pretty hard to come by at that stage. I thought he was worth a decent crack and was lucky enough to secure him. “He has probably taken a little longer than I’d like, but I have been pretty patient. He is a big horse and is still growing.” His four starts to date have produced a debut win and a second placing early in his three-year-old season, before returning for a second campaign last week at Ballarat when fifth while struggling for a run in the dying stages. “You put the pressure on yourself because people trusted your judgment to invest in a horse like him and you want to get them a return,” Craven said. “He has terrific owners who have all been super patient, super supportive. “He shows some nice ability. Last week didn’t go to plan, this week will be a new scenario from the standing start. This campaign is all about racing craft and to season him for the better races coming up.” While Craven said he expected Aldebaran Knox would “start to come into his own” as a late four-year-old “because he is such a big horse”, he was already “more than capable of mixing it with the best horses” and so Derbys, Vicbred Super Series and Breeders Crown were all “on the radar”. But first there is tonight, which is not without its challenges, being Aldebaran Knox’s first standing start. “He has been OK at trials,” Craven said. “At home he has shown he can handle it, but with a full field it could be a different situation. As a rule he is a sensible horse. “I just want to see him get away safely and relax in the field and, unlike last week, have the opportunity to win.” Craven said his biggest threat would likely come from Emmett and Richard Brosnan’s last start winner Homonym, who’s “improved a lot and is very nicely bred”, being by Majestic Son and out of A Touch Of Sun, a half-sister to Sundon and mare of King Denny ($298,914). Craven will also take a trio of two-year-olds to Ballarat for the PETstock 2YO Pace, with October Reign, Vin Dan and Magic Masterpiece making up half the field. Notably, October Reign and Vin Dan ran third and fourth respectively in yesterday’s Sign Online 2YO Maiden Pace. Of October Reign, Craven said the “big, strong” Sportswriter colt “just needs racing” and had no concerns running him in consecutive days. “His racing’s been OK, nothing outstanding but OK,” he said. “He didn’t have a lot of luck (yesterday), but I expect him to back up and go well.” And of Vin Dan, he said the Captaintreacherous colt “is limited at this stage and needs favors in the run, but he will improve”. “The main aim is probably South Australia’s Southern Cross sires series.” And then there’s debutant Magic Masterpiece, an Artspeak colt out of Lady Blanchett. “He is an interesting little horse. He has got a lot of nice owners from around the district and he’s a top little coot, there’s something about him,” Craven said. “If he gets a bit of luck he will be running on.” Rating his three two-year-olds, he had October Reign on top for tonight's clash due to his “racing experience and then Magic Masterpiece, who could just be one out of the box”. TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden serve up Talking Trots on Track from 11am-1pm on SENTrack on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app. The good oil from the Vic trials circuit Ballarat, R4 N6, Fightnfury Settled three back on the markers, moved away from the inside with 300m remaining and came out three horses wide on the home turn when he sprinted home too well. REPORT Ballarat, R5 N11, Machstique Undefeated in two starts and hasn’t raced since March. He took out the second trial from CROWN ROYALE. REPORT   HRV - Michael Howard  

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