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At his 10th country cup start this season, Road To Rock won his second trophy.   The Keith Cotchin trained seven-year-old edged out Macho Comacho in a thrilling finish to Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup – adding the victory to his feature race CV alongside his St Arnaud Cup triumph earlier this season.   The gelded son of Village Jasper/Diva La Diva ran to the front after Macho Comacho and Ardle McArdle both held interim leads early.   Ardle McArdle stepped strongly from seven to tackle early leader Macho Comacho out of three, working to the front when Macho Comacho galloped.   Macho Comacho (Chris Alford) quickly got back into stride and hooked off the markers to retake control at the head of affairs, Nathan Jack then seizing the initiative to grab the front aboard Road To Rock when Macho Comacho slowed, which pocketed Ardle McArdle (Amanda Turnbull) three-pegs.   Reigning Ararat Cup winner Savesomtimetodream with Jodi Quinlan aboard then made his move to work to the breeze, giving 2013 Ararat Cup winner Jukebox Music (Glenn Douglas) one-one cover.   Kotare Roland (Neil McCallum) was four-back the markers, Weallwantano (Matthew Craven) on his back, with Turnpike Cruiser (Zac Phillips), Hilltop Hustler (Michael Stanley) and Farmersntradies (Michael Sullivan) in the running line, while Narra Operative (Kerryn Manning) was second-last and Arber (Gavin Lang) made an uncharacteristic bad getaway and settled at the back of the field.   Road To Rock comfortably navigated the opening half of the last mile (31.4 and 30.4 for a 61.8 half) before Jack upped the ante when challenged by Savesomtimetodream down the back.   Road To Rock was still travelling well to the home turn though, shaking off the reigning champ’s challenge with a 28.8 third split.   In the home straight Macho Comacho angled into the sprint lane and charged hard, while Hilltop Hustler and Ardle McArdle were winding up out wide.   But the leader dug deep, Road To Rock holding off all the challengers to score a victory by a head over Macho Comacho, with Hilltop Hustler up for third beaten 3.5 metres.   The winner got home in 29.2 for a 2:02.9 mile rate (last half 58).   Ardle McArdle ran fourth while Kotare Roland showed he was working back into some kind of form with an eye-catching fifth beaten 7.5 metres.   Savesomtimetodream weakened out of the action late to finish sixth beaten 8.2 metres, with Weallwantano heading up the rest in seventh place.   Earlier in the evening father and son Neville and Clinton Welsh combined for victory in the Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup with consistent six-year-old Sundon/Wheels To Go gelding Wildenstein, who led and rated 2:07.2 for the 2570-metre trip.   Wildenstein defeated Death Defying by 3.3 metres with Maorisfavouritesun third.   Meanwhile, trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Gavin Lang combined with Our Petite Soeur to take out the Angelique Club Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship (18th heat) by 2.3m over So Demanding with Graceful Affair third.   ROAD TO ROCK’S COUNTRY CUPS RECORD Ararat Cup 1st Echuca Cup 3rd Boort Cup 4th Wangaratta Cup 2nd Stawell Cup 2nd Gunbower Cup 2nd St Arnaud Cup 1st Maryborough Cup 6th Kilmore Cup 8th Swan Hill Cup 2nd   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Michael Stanley’s Hilltop Hustler looks well-placed in Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup. The Redan five-year-old gelding will come out of barrier nine in the 2570-metre race, which carries stake money of $25,505. Hilltop Hustler won at Horsham two starts back in the $8505 O’Keefe before a game third off a 20- metre handicap in the Boort Pacing Cup on March 15. “At Boort he pinned the ears back and had a real crack,” said Stanley, who trains and drives Hilltop Hustler. “He’s a tough little bugger. He leaves everything out on the track … He should be hard to beat.” Hilltop Hustler is a winner of 12 races from 52 starts for stake earnings of $107,626. He has placed on a further 13 occasions. At about this time last year he won the Warragul Pacing Cup defeating Lovable Larrikin by 1.3 metres and Savesomtimetodream by seven off equal marks. The latter, trained by Paul Rowse at Ross Creek, has to spot Hilltop Hustler 10 metres from the stand start conditions at Ararat. “It’s not going to be easy from the second row but he’s working as good as ever,” Stanley said of his runner. “It’s an even sort of field.” Stanley withdrew Hilltop Hustler from a recent Melton meeting because the pacer had a virus. But a round of antibiotics has cleared up the charge’s ailment and he’s expected to be fit and firing for the Ararat feature. Twelve horses have accepted for the Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup, which will be run at 10pm. Club secretary Lloyd Grice said former AFL player turned RSN radio host Mick McGuane would be on-course master of ceremonies at Ararat, filing roving reports over the microphone and helping run the punters’ club. “It’ll be great having Mick there,” Grice said. Patrons can purchase punters’ club tickets for $10 and they essentially can’t lose, because everyone who purchases a $10 ticket will receive a $10 TAB voucher. “You’ve got your money back before there’s even been a race won,” Grice said. The club has organised plenty of children’s activities but the club is hoping to attract a mix of patrons including families, punters and people just keen for a great social outing. “There’ll be plenty for the families but there will be plenty for everyone,” Grice said. “We’re hoping to get a great crowd for the Easter Saturday meeting. “We’ll even have the Easter Bunny there handing out some goodies for the kids.” A $1000 TAB voucher will be won on the night via Harness Racing Victoria’s TAB Trots Selfies competition with patrons simply having to post a “selfie” on to facebook.com/trotselfies with the most creative entry taking the coin. The 10-race card gets under way at 6.25pm with the last at 11pm. The Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup will also be held at 8.30pm with in-form Death Defying sure to prove hard to beat with Nathan Jack in the sulky for trainer Kari Males. The Ararat Cup meeting is a leg of the TAB Trots Country Cups Carnival.  CODY WINNELL COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MANAGER  

Victorian harness racing trainer Michael Stanley says his filly Soho Tokyo is on song ahead of tonight’s New South Wales Oaks heat. The beautifully-bred youngster - by Bettors Delight from former top-line juvenile Pelicanrama - has been among the placings at both her runs this time in. “I’m really happy with her,” Stanley said. “She didn’t have any luck around Warragul and then we gave her a run at Charlton. “She needed the run there and she finished third behind two nice horses (Ricimer and Rule Of Thumb) coming home in 55.9 (1:58.7 mile rate). “I was really happy with the run…it was a good hit-out.” Stanley’s talented four-year-old Young Modern made the trip to Menangle with Soho Tokyo this morning, with the son of Modern Art set to contest the Paleface Adios Stakes. HRV Media

The 2015 APG yearling sales are fast approaching, and one of Victoria’s harness racing  trainers, Michael Stanley, has ambitious plans to add some quality young APG stock to his stables. APG’s General Manager, David Boydell, caught up with Stanley to discuss his plans, and to get some tips on how to pick out the next APG champion. You’ve enjoyed a lot of success with APG yearlings.  What have been some of your success stories? The APG Sales have been very good to both me and my father.  As a family, our big break probably came when Dad bought Exotic Strike in 1999. Dad picked her out at the sales because he liked the maternal family.  He didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but he liked the fact she was from a nice, consistent maternal family, and she was just a nice racy type. I was only a junior driver at the time, and it really helped both my development and my profile to have such a smart filly to work with.  I drove her to win the APG Fillies’ final, and she went on to win over $170,000 for us. Currently, I’ve got a few smart APG horses in my stable.  Young Modern was a Group winner as a three-year-old last season and has already earned connections over $100,000, while Soho Tokyo won over $100,000 as a two-year-old last season, and Morior Invictus recorded three wins as a two-year-old last season, including a Group Three win. Given your success, you must be looking at more APG yearlings at the coming sales? Definitely.  My wife and I recently purchased a property on 40 acres just outside Ballarat and we’ve spent most of the last year setting it up so it can handle about 25 horses in work at any one time.  We’re currently working around 15 horses, so now that we’re finally set up properly, we’re ready to increase our operations a little. I’ve actually been working on something with a good friend of mine, Michael Jones.  We went to school together, and he now works as an accountant, but he also holds a horse syndication licence and has been successfully syndicating thoroughbreds for a number of years. I told him that he should give Standardbred syndication a go, because it is so much more affordable for people to buy into, and your odds of getting into a good horse are so much better.  Michael came back to me with an idea to purchase up to four horses at the sales, with a view to syndicating them as a package.  People buying into the syndicate will be buying a share of all the horses, which allows them to spread their risk, while increasing both their racing opportunities, and their chances of landing a really smart horse. If people are interested in joining the syndicate, should they get in touch with you before the sales? Absolutely.  It would be nice to be able to have a bit of a chat with interested new owners before the sales, just to establish a relationship and to give potential owners the opportunity to ask questions and find out a bit more about me and my set-up.  Also, if we can gauge how much interest there is in the syndicate before the sales, we can adjust our horse numbers and our budget accordingly. Moving along to yearling selection, what’s your process? I’ll always start with the catalogue.  I’ve got certain sires I like and there are certainly some sires that I’ll tend to avoid if I’ve had a number of horses by them that I haven’t liked.  Looking beyond the sire, I’m a big believer in buying from good maternal families.  It doesn’t particularly worry me if the dam hasn’t raced, so long as she’s left a good horse, or her dam has left some good horses. Once I’ve finished marking my catalogue, the next step is to physically inspect all the ones that I’ve short-listed. What do you look for when you do your inspections? Champion horses come in all shapes and sizes, but ideally, I’d prefer to buy something that looked like it was going to grow into a nice averaged sized horse with a bit of length in the barrel.  Not many good horses wear spreaders, so I’m looking for a horse that’s going to be clean gaited.  If a horse is a little turned out in front, or wings in a little when it walks, I like to pick up its front legs and hold them at about a 45 degree angle to the ground, and just move them left and right to see how loose they are at the joint.  If there’s a lot of left-to-right movement in the joint, and the leg seems to drift easily towards the other knee, then I think there is a good chance that the horse will hit a knee, so I steer clear of it.  A lot of people are fixated on the front legs and forget to look at the back legs.  The back legs are equally important, because they generate the horse’s drive, so I’m always sure to check the back legs and watch the horse walk from behind to make sure it isn’t too “hocky” or anything like that. The excitement of the sales can be an unnerving experience for young horses, so I can forgive a yearling for being a bit flighty, but it would concern me if I saw one being ill-tempered or aggressive towards a person. What’s your process once you’ve brought it home from the sales? I have a basic framework that I like to work to, but I think it’s important to treat each horse as an individual, and be willing to have the flexibility to vary your basic training plan to fit the individual horse.  Generally, I like to break them in straight after the sales, which usually takes four to six weeks, then send them to the paddock for six weeks. When they come back in, they’ll do another six weeks work, at which point I’ll start to make judgments about which ones look like being early going types and which ones look like they’ll need a little more time. The early goers will go out for a six week break, while the later maturing types will probably go out for three months. When the early going types come back in, they’ll probably do around eight weeks work, towards the end of which I’ll start to teach them a little speed by asking them to work home over the final quarter.  They’ll then go out for a shorter break of maybe a month or so, before coming back in for a full race prep, which hopefully culminates with them going to the trials and qualifying.  At that stage, I’ll make a call whether to spell them, and for how long, and I’ll map out some targets for them, based on their ability and their futurity eligibilities. You’ve had success with both colts and fillies.  Do you have a preference, and do you train your fillies any differently from your colts? I’ve been lucky to have had some success with fillies and mares like Blucollar Tigerpie and Soho Tokyo, but I’ve also enjoyed a good run with colts like Young Modern and Hilltop Hustler, so I really don’t have a preference. What is the best way for new owners get in contact with you? People can always contact me on my mobile – 0407 592 815.  Both my mobile number and my e-mail address are also listed on the APG website, alongside the contact details of APG’s other leading trainers.

All roads will lead to Stawell today, which is a pain if you’re trying to drive somewhere else! But, if you’re interested in some great harness racing actions, you’ll be pleased as the club conducts its popular Cup program. Patrons are expected to flock to the complex for the eight-race program, headed by the club’s Pacing Cup, which is part of the TAB.com.au Country Cups Carnival. Secretary Lisa McIlvride stated the club was ready for a great day’s entertainment and racing, with live music between races, stacks of giveaways also on the agenda. Although Stawell, along with the rest of Victoria, has sweltered through a pair of 40-degree plus days, the mercury will dip to 29 degrees this afternoon. “We’re lucky that we’ve been able to get that good day in between,” McIlvride said. “We’re hoping for a big crowd…people really look forward to this day.” The club will give away $500 worth of fuel to a lucky racegoer, a $1000 TAB voucher via the HRV Trot Selfies competition, an iTunes voucher valued at $100 for a junior racegoer as well as other betting vouchers throughout the day. Children are well catered for with face painting, show bags, a jumping castle and the always popular go-karts, while the local Lions Club will run a barbecue. The Michael Stanley-trained Hilltop Hustler is the sole back marker off a 10-metre handicap in the Cup, with stablemate, Allrightythen, drawn four. Stanley rated Hilltop Hustler as the hardest to beat. “I held him back from this rather than go to Cobram for their Cup. He’s won around Stawell before, so I knew he’d handle the track there,” Stanley said. “He’s also very good from the stand start. “Allrightythen was a bit unlucky the other day, but most of the field has similar ability to him, so he should be thereabouts. It would be a very nice race to win.” Entry to the Stawell Pacing Cup meeting is free. Harnesslink Media

Talented harness racing youngster Big Spending Telf outgunned the Sydneysiders on their home soil for Victorian horseman Michael Stanley last Saturday night. The son of Changeover, which appears rich with intestinal fortitude, sat in the ‘death seat’ during the Chokin Championship heat before overpowering the leader, Quagmire, leaving the back straight. Digging deep during the latter stages, Big Spending Telf staved off a determined Kilcullen to score by two metres in 1:54.2 over a mile. “There was a bit of rain in the race before and he did all the work in the run and held them off, so he did a really good job,” Stanley said. “We’ll see what happens in the heat next week, but hopefully he can go into the Final and repeat the performance there.” Stanley stated Big Spending Telf’s biggest asset was a seemingly endless supply of stamina, but added the half-brother to Magical Telf is also blessed with plenty of speed. “There’s a lot of bottom to him. Not a lot of three-year-olds can sustain the effort like he can for as long as he can,” Stanley declared. Big Spending Telf has won four of his six starts for prizemoney of $15,750. Meanwhile, Stanley’s other runners for the night both ran big races. Blucolla Tigerpie finished third in the Campbelltown Catholic Club Ladyship Pace won fellow Victorian Beauty Secret in 1:52.4. “She was not as sharp as she was first-up which makes me think that run might have taken the edge off her a bit,” Stanley said. “But they went 52 and she was off the track the last 600 and hit the line hard, so she’s ready to win soon. “I think she’ll take far more benefit from this run than she did the first-up one.” Hilltop Hustler also performed admirably in the Group 1 Coca Cola Amatil Sprint over 1609 metres. After racing towards the tail of the field, Hilltop Hustler found the line strongly to finish sixth behind Beautide, which stopped the clock in 1:50.4. “He just needs a couple of runs against this type of opposition to pick up the tempo of these races,” Stanley said. “The way he hit the line was really good. I’m really proud of him.” HRV Media

Former harness racing superstar Changeover continues to enjoy a strong start to the season in Australia, particularly along the east coast. Changeover, which was successful at Group One level in New South Wales and Victoria, now heads the states’ sires’ list for three-year-olds. From his first racing crop, Changeover boasts 20 winners – four bred in Australia and 16 in New Zealand. One of his brightest prospects is Big Spending Telf for Ballarat trainer Michael Stanley. Winner of his two starts this term, Big Spending Telf is expected to play a role in the various classics later in the season, including the Victoria Derby. “I rated him as the best of my two-year-olds last season,” Stanley declared. “He’s always shown plenty of potential, but I held him back until late in the season. “He’s really strong, but at this stage, he doesn’t have blistering speed. “I’ve got no doubt he will continue as the season goes on and I’ll be aiming at some of the better races with him during the year.” Changeover, which stands for famed breeding establishment Nevele R Stud, also has a son which is unbeaten for the season in New South Wales. Successful at his two outings, Beaudiene Bill is another which will be aimed at the various Derbys by trainer KerryAnn Turner. Over on the Shaky Isles, Changeover’s numbers continue to grow, with Oneover the stallion’s latest winner after scoring at Rangiora last week. PAUL COURTS

Kialla trainer-driver David Moran enjoyed a winning double with two of his in-form pacers last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both The Baggy Green (a four-year-old mare by Art Major out of Lady Waratah) and Our Santa Catalina (a three-year-old filly by Rocknroll Hanover out of San Sophia) carried their strong Breeders Crown form into last night's meeting and both recorded strong victories. The Baggy Green, who ran second to Frith in the four-year-old mares’ Breeders Crown Final last time out, found the back of early leader Earth Angel last night used the sprint lane at the finish to wind up for a 2.3-metre victory in the Alabar Pace, Race 1, over 1720 metres. Earth Angel led for Josh Aiken with Isabelle Delacour (Jason Lee) parking in the breeze after a failed attack for the front. Glenferrie EJ (Jodi Quinlan) ran second after a sustained run three-wide, while Earth Angel boxed on gamely for third. The Baggy Green started at $2.20, kicking the night off on a winning note for punters. Moran’s second winner came up in Race 4, the Harness Breeders Vic 3YO Classic over 1720 metres. He drove Our Santa Catalina, who scored an upset win over last-start Group 1 winner Just Cala (Amanda Turnbull) by 1.8 metres, with Madison Louise (Chris Alford) third. With 1200 metres to go Moran and Our Santa Catalina eased three-wide from the one-out-one-back spot and moved to the breeze outside race leader Dazzling Arden. At this stage Turnbull had the $1.40 favourite Just Cala in last position. Down the back, though, Turnbull started her move, taking the Dennis Picker trained filly around the field three-wide. But the leaders quickened up with middle sectionals of 29.9 and 28.4, Just Cala forced to work hard for the bulk of the final lap. Once the field straightened up for the run to the judge, Our Santa Catalina shook off Dazzling Arden and then hit the line in a 27.8 final quarter. Just Cala simply didn’t have the firepower at the finish as Our Santa Catalina – who ran third in a Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat two starts back – showed enormous grit in the run to the line. Our Santa Catalina has now won seven of 20 starts. Leading reinsman Nathan Jack was the other driver to pick up a winning double last night, piloting Bad Habbott to a 2.7-metre triumph in the Home Timber and Hardware Melton 3YO Trot for trainer Russell Commens before finishing the program aboard Shared Interest, the Russell Jack trained gelded son of Angus Hall obliterating his rivals by 18.1 metres in the Haley Toulmin 2YO Trot over 1720 metres. Other winners on the card were Action Kosmos for Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan in the Tab.com.au Trot and Game We Play in the Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final for trainer-driver Craig Turnbull, the son of Courage Under Fire too strong as the long odds-on favourite in the race Karkarooc who finished a well-beaten seventh. In-form mare Tandias Bromac won the Pet Rock Pace for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Chris Alford while the Michael Stanley trained and driven Young Modern won the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720 metres. Gumdrops won for trainer Steve Zammit and driver Rodney Petroff in the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 Sept Pace, and the Chris Lang trained and driven Lord Liam won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap. The Victorian harness racing spotlight turns to Cranbourne tonight (Saturday) with the first of 11 races at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Xanderxav overcame an early speed duel to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. The Linton Power trained trotter had the pole draw, which helped him hold out the early challenge from fellow mobile-start firebrand squaregaiter Mister Gunsen. With regular driver David Moran in the spider Xanderxav, who hails from Marungi, continued his recent strong form, the wily eight-year-old racing more like a spritely four-year-old. At the 500-metre mark it became clear Xanderxav comfortably had the measure of race favourite Zedalite, which was beginning to struggle in the breeze. El Paco reaced by pulling out of the one-one to stake its claim three-wide, while Stoned I Am snagged back to the markers near the rear of the field and saved enormous ground around the final turn. But old Xanderxav is tougher than a cheap steak and the son of glorious trotter Wagon Apollo added a Group 2 victory to his kitbag, scoring a 4.9-metre win over runner-up Stoned I Am (Simone Walker). Xanderxav’s mile rate for the 2240-metre trip was 1:59.4. The Group 2 Breeders Crown Pacers’ Graduate was taken out by Keayang Cullen for Terang trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee. The in-form free-for-all star is headed towards the Miracle Mile long-term and tonight he defeated Shane Tritton trained Suave Stuey Lombo by 2.1 metres, while the winner’s stablemate, Keayang Steamer, finished third for driver Glen Craven. Keayang Cullen zipped around the field early to find the lead and then kept on kicking for a good win in a rate of 1:56.0, with a last half-mile of 55.7secs. Earlier in the night Grant Dixon trained and driven Feel The Faith was too strong for Glenferrie Blade in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ consolation, while Boasson Hagen took out the American Ideal @ Woodlands two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown consolation for Tasmanian trainer Christian Salter and leading reinsman Gavin Lang. Boasson Hagen beat runner-up Pompidou by a head with Hez The One third for Heywood trainer Bec East. John Justice delivered a perfect front-running drive aboard Shakti Bromac to land the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pace over 2240 metres, too strong for runner-up Valley Of Diamonds, while Wounded ran third. Rockbank trainer Joe Vassallo enjoyed success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trot with four-year-old Village Jasper gelding Stunning Jasper scoring a half-head win over race favourite Jeter with Speedy Rambo third. Michael Stanley, who has Soho Tokyo in the two-year-old fillies’ Breeders Crown Final on Sunday, captured the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 September Pace over 2240 metres with four-year-old Presidential Ball gelding Hilltop Hustler, which powered home by five metres over runner-up The Good Times and third placegetter Turnpike Cruiser. Four-year-old D M Dilinger gelding Crazy Dave broke his metropolitan maiden status in the eighth race, the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m. The winner came from the Gary Bailey stable at Portarlington and was driven by Michael Bellman. Essbee Doubleyou ran second for Jodi Quinlan, while Tyler Bromac was third for Matthew Craven. Valley Ess Jay won the last race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting consolation. Trained and driven by trotting master Chris Lang, the Skyvalley gelding fought back doggedly after being headed by The Third Son late to win by 1.9 metres. The Third Son held on for second for John Caldow, while Glenferrie Belle was well beaten in third place. Racing returns to Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday for the 10-Group 1 Breeders Crown Finals Day, where a huge crowd is expected. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Victorian trainer Michael Stanley will have a two pronged attack in Saturday night's Gr. 3 CJ Garrard Two Year Old Classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  The $30,000 event is open to horses that were sold at the 2013 Garrards Horse & Hound Trialling Sale and Stanley is hoping to take home the major share of prize money on offer with Big Spending Telf and Morior Invictus. "Big Spending Telf has only had the one run and he's a pretty nice horse, he's a little bit immature in the head so I will drive him but I think he has what it takes to make a nice horse," Stanley said "He won his only start at Horsham, he showed speed on that occasion and the horse that sat outside him kept him honest throughout but he broke 29 seconds for his final quarter and did it well." Big Spending Telf had a short letup after his debut run but has been at the trials recently. "Yeah I gave him some time after the run but he has had a couple of trials and importantly over the 2200 metres too. He has won both trials, the last of them was as Melton and he ran his last half in 58.9." Morior Invictus won a semi final of the Vicbred series four runs ago and has been racing against some very strong opposition recently. "He is a very good horse and has been campaigning against some nice ones but he is probably just a touch below the top echelon." "I'm not sure he will be totally suited on Saturday night. He is an effective sit and sprinter but after drawing the outside barrier he probably has to go back at the start and then maybe make a midrace move to get into the action." Stanley will return to Victoria for Sunday's Breeders Crown Day and is hoping Soho Tokyo can run a great race from barrier three. "She went really well in her semi and from a better draw I think she can run a great race, it could be a very big weekend." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Sunday’s two-year-old fillies Breeders Crown final will be dominated by the Kiwis, according to TAB fixed odds. Katy Perry ($2.40), Linda Lovegrace ($3.40), Joannes A Delight ($6), Big Lucy and Cyclone Kate ($7) are the five Kiwi runners and they are the only five horses under double figure odds. The Australian runner closest to the top of the market is Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Soho Tokyo, who is rated a $14 chance. But Stanley is convinced his girl can more than match it with best from across the Tasman after a cracking fourth in the semi-final at Ballarat on Saturday night. “I have full confidence she can do a bit of work and still be strong at the finish,” the Redan trainer said. “I was rapt with her run at the weekend. She’ll be spot on for the final.” After drawing an awful barrier in the semi-final and still running a close-up fourth, Stanley was thrilled to secure gate three at yesterday’s barrier draw for the final. The filly has not had a lot of luck at gate draws for big races and has consequently settled well back on several occasions. But Stanley is ready to be proactive from a good draw. “Soho Tokyo actually does have good gate speed,” he said. “I wouldn’t be afraid to hold the lead. I’m not afraid of the Kiwis. “They’re super fillies but I still feel like mine is a realistic chance. “It will all depend on the pressure but I won’t be letting Katy Perry run around me easily.” Also giving Stanley confidence is the view of form experts who say you don’t want to back a horse to win a final that is tired at the end of a semi-final. “She was hitting the line hard, so that has to give me some confidence,” he said. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria   Soho Tokyo - 16th August  

Things just didn’t work out for Glen Craven, Keayang Steamer and the punters who took the short odds about the Terang trained star at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. (August 8th)  Keayang Steamer was a heavily tried favourite, starting $1.50, in the Swift Signs Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton but could only muster a fifth-place finish from his inside back-row draw. Pre-race Craven declared he would be looking to get off the pegs at all costs. “I’m not interested in getting locked up on the fence,” he said. But that's precisely what eventuated. The pacer who beat Smoken Up home to claim the Horsham Cup last campaign was wedged three back along the pegs at the bell. Early on Exciteusinthecity found the lead for junior driver Tim McLean from gate three, easily crossing Hall Of Famer and La Machane. Composed got going early to work around to the breeze from his second-line draw, but Keayang Steamer was not able to get one-off and had to punch through to trail Hall Of Famer. Exciteusinthecity, trained by Darren Cole, was able to get away with 31.6secs and 30.3secs first and second quarters of the last mile, setting the five-year-old gelding up to sprint home in 56.1secs and record his second win in three starts. Hall Of Famer capitalised on a beaut trip behind the leader by running second, albeit beaten 5.6 metres by the winner, while Composed battled on gamely for third. Keayang Steamer (fifth) came in behind fast-finishing Kotare Rowland (fourth) and will need to improve significantly second-up to topple his highly regarded stablemate, Keayang Cullen, in the Breeders Crown Graduate Cup on August 24 should they both head in that direction. Meanwhile, Alison Chisholm enjoyed a red-letter evening with a winning double. The Melton trainer/driver drove Three Pints to victory in the GBL Property Consultants Vicbred Pace (Race 3) before scoring aboard stable star Asoka in the Del-Re National Food Group Pace (Race 5). New Zealand champion Our Sky Major proved far too strong for his maiden-metropolitan rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Pace. The Barry Purdon trained three-year-old son of Art Major is here for the Breeders Crown but enjoyed an easy hit-out at Melton, scoring by 3.7 metres over Wolfpack, with Philtra Phella third. Driver Craig Demmler took Our Sky Major back at the start and he was the best part of 40 metres off the lead at one point over the 1720-metre sprint trip. Down the back the last time Our Sky Major made his move, reinsman Craid Demmler easing the two-time Harness Jewels champion three-wide. Sprinting up with a 28.1secs third quarter, Our Sky Major quickly put the leaders away and shot clear early in the straight to record a 3.7-metre triumph in a mile rate of 2:02.5. Another Kiwi pacer to put her best foot forward was Mark Purdon trained two-year-old Big Lucy, who won the VHRSC 2YO Pace over 1720 metres. Chris Alford, who took driving honours for the night with a winning treble, was content to sit outside early leader Yankee Showgirl before taking Big Lucy 1.2 metres clear over Wegottarocketmachine at the finish, with Yankee Showgirl boxing on for third in a rate of 1:55.7. Alford’s other two winners were aboard ultra-consistent trotter Blitzthemcalder in the Renown Silverware Trot for trainer Craig Demmler, and long odds-on favourite Upanatom in the Mediatec Pace Final for trainer Amanda Grieve. Blitzthemcalder worked his way to the lead mid-race in the trot before outshining Sunset Invasion in the run to the line to score a two-metre win in a rate of 2:00.2. Blitzthemcalder is arguably racing in career-best form. Upanatom did plenty of work to find the lead early in his race, but the son of Christian Cullen still proved panels ahead of his rivals – getting home by 4.1 metres over runner-up Pas Mate, who hit the line hard, and third placegetter Eyes On The Sky. Other winners at Melton were Rostevarren, for trainer Ross Graham and driver Daryl Douglas, in the Geoff and Lorraine Barnes Trot over 1720 metres, Road To Rock, for trainer Keith Cotchin and driver Greg Sugars, in the University Food Group Pacers Handicap over 2240m, and Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Young Modern in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 2240 metres.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing owner Kevin Riseley confirmed last week that Lennytheshark is out of Breeders Crown contention this year, owners preferring to give the classy four-year-old a spell before chasing summer riches. But Riseley and fellow connections of two-year-old Bettors Delight colt Kept Under Wraps have a serious live Crown chance after the Brent Lilley-trained youngster upstaged boom Sydneysider Birdy Mach in the $50,505 Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes for colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Kept Under Wraps, driven by Greg Sugars, raced one-out, one-back for the bulk of the journey while Birdy Mach ran along in front for Todd McCarthy in the 2240m race. The Sydney colt, which started $1.60 favourite after two blistering wins to start its career at Menangle, found the lead easily early with no one willing to challenge. This allowed last-start Vicbred Super Series winner Feeling Arty to dash to the death chair for Cameron Maggs, which gave the eventual winner cover in the running line. When Birdy Mach pinched a 10m lead coming off the back straight Sugars sent Kept Under Wraps out after him, while Iceobar, from the Brent Lilley yard with Mark Purdon in the spider, followed into the race stylishly. In the straight Birdy Mach led, Iceobar used the sprint lane and Kept Under Wraps came down the outside. Birdy Mach kept on kicking but Kept Under Wraps had more in the tank and nailed the early leader on the line to win by 1.1m, while Iceobar was a further 3.5m away in third place. The winning mile rate was 1:57.1 with a fourth quarter of 29.3secs and a last half of 58.3. Kept Under Wraps now boasts four wins from six starts. Kept Under Wraps The $50,505 Group 2 fillies’ Tatlow Stakes went to New Zealand star Katy Perry, who scored by 2.5m over Michael Stanley-trained Soho Tokyo, while Read About Lexy was third for Bernie Hewitt. Katy Perry, who started from the back row, whipped around the field early for reinsman Dexter Dunn before taking the lead and holding off all comers late. Katy Perry clocked a winning mile rate of 1:59.4 with a last half of 57.2. Katy Perry Earlier on the program Messini continued his dominance of the Victorian three-year-old ranks with a 5.5m win over Epaulette in the A Rocknroll Dance The Graduate. Despite starting from gate 13, Chris Alford guided the Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major home in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Bettor Rock On remained unbeaten in five Australian runs with victory in Race 8, the Yeomans Slate and Stone Winter Championship Final for in-form father-son combo Ross and Greg Sugars. Bettor Rock On scored by 3.5m over the 1720m trip in a rate of 1:54.4 (last half 56.2) to defeat Essbee Doubleyou in second and Tandias Bromac in third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

As brilliant as Birdy Mach might be, harness racing punters won’t be ignoring the undefeated Andy Gath-trained Burnaholeinmypocket in the Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes for 2YO colts and geldings on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. The son of Bettors Delight boasts impeccable form lines; beating subsequent Group 1 winners despite starting from awkward draws and working in the run at both his starts to date. Burnaholeinmypocket sprouted wings late in his debut race, beating Justbritell (winner of the Shakamaker Classic at Melton in March) by 1.9m and Feeling Arty (winner of the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series colts’ and geldings’ final) by 7.3m. At start number two, Burnaholeinmypocket drifted a long way back early from gate seven before getting caught three-wide with no cover on the last lap. Despite covering a stack of ground from the bell to the finish post, Burnaholeinmypocket still proved 1.7m too good for Waves Of Fire, who would go on to win the Group 1 Nursery Final at Albion Park in 1:58.4. “He’s pretty gifted,” Gath said of his fledgling gelding. Asked if gate one was a definite bonus, the Long Forest trainer responded: “Always”, adding: “He had the second row at his first start and then seven at his second. I think he’ll hold his own out of the gate. Whether or not he can hold out Birdy Mach, we’ll wait and see, but my bloke’s shown he’s very strong.” Birdy Mach is the likely thorn in Burnaholeinmypocket’s side; the Sydney colt unbeaten in two runs at Menangle and from the powerful Belinda McCarthy yard at Cobbitty. Such is the boom about the son of Mach Three that champion reinsman Luke McCarthy said on Tuesday: “He’s right up there with the best two-year-olds I’ve ever driven”. Birdy Mach has blitzed his rivals in two runs so far, and on debut last month he clocked a 1:53.8 mile rate (last half 55.7secs). Saturday’s Tatlow field is full of top-quality youngsters including Kept Under Wraps, winner of three of five starts and a member of the Brent Lilley team, David Aiken-trained Show Me The Bling, runner-up in his Vicbred Super Series semi-final and the final, and Feeling Arty, who provided trainer-driver Cameron Maggs with his maiden Group 1 success recently in the Super Series at Melton. Gath will line up Looks Like Heaven in the fillies’ Tatlow Stakes and, like her stable-mate in the boys’ section, she’s drawn sweetly. The daughter of Lombo Mandingo will begin from pole if emergency Bubbling Gypsy fails to gain a start. Looks Like Heaven won on debut at Kilmore before trekking north on a Bathurst Gold Tiara mission. She won her Tiara heat by 8.8m but galloped in the final and finished down the track. “She’s going through a growth spurt at the moment ... We’ll see how she goes on Saturday and make a decision on the Breeders Crown after that,” Gath said. Team McCarthy filly Smooth Showgirl resumes in this race from gate 12 after winning the Group 1 Nursery fillies’ final at Albion Park in May. Also off the back row will be highly rated Kiwi Katy Perry, to be steered by Dexter Dunn, and Michael Stanley’s exciting Soho Tokyo, who ran second beaten a head by Tricky Styx in the 2YO Diamond Classic at Gloucester Park last time out. Hamilton trainer David Lewis will line up Luvumum in the Tatlow, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear boasting a one-from-one record after a sensational debut win at Melton in the Sapling Stakes. Luvumum was backed into $1.70 before scoring by 15.2m over Viva Safari in 1:57.6 in the February race. She’s pretty good. Punters aren’t generally a forgiving lot, so one suspects Lovelist might be on the drift. The Emma Stewart-trained Always A Virgin filly was rolled in the Vicbred Super Series semi-final after being sent out a $1.20 pop and then was beaten 11.8m in the final. Her previous form (four wins from four starts) was solid. The Tatlow Stakes races will be Races 5 and 6 at 7.32pm and 8.05pm. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 19 July 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 19 July 2014

Chris Alford has his second Group 1 in two nights thanks to Messini scoring a huge win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO colts’ and geldings’ harness racing final tonight. The Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major sprinted to the lead mid-race and was never going to lose once there, eventually scoring an 8.8m triumph over Major Crocker in a mile rate of 1:55.9. Both favourite (Messini at $2.70) and second-favourite (Hectorjayjay at $3.30) had drawn extreme barriers and tactics were always going to be hugely important, with Alford on Messini and Simone Walker on Hectorjayjay. Walker took off wide aboard her chance early in the piece and was made to work by Young Modern and Michael Stanley to get to the breeze. Eventually Stanley eased into the one-out-one-back position, and then Alford made his move, sending Messini off around the field and sprinting to the front without too much trouble. “Once we got to the front he was always going to be hard to beat,” Alford said. “This is a great little horse.” Messini drew right away to win by 8.8m over runner-up Major Crocker (Greg Sugars) and Smokey Quartz (David Miles) in third. Lilley was full of praise for legendary New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who sent the horse to the Bolinda horseman. “He’s welcome to stay at my place as long as he wants,” Lilley said of Messini, which has won 10 of 24 starts. “I can’t take too much credit for him. Mark sent him over in great order.” Messini by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Lennytheshark looks to have a stranglehold on the harness racing Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires and geldings’ series after a commanding semi-final win. The David Aiken-trained rising superstar produced a stunning performance on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton to obliterate his rivals in his semi, beating the second horse over the line, Valley Of Diamonds, by 13.7m. Reinsman Chris Alford took the son of Four Starzzz Shark to the lead midrace after initially easing to midfield early from his gate-six draw. Once in front, Lennytheshark was eyeballed by Smart Major until the home turn when Alford and the favourite broke the Forbes-trained pacer’s resistance. In the straight, Lennytheshark let down like a champion, putting daylight on a handy batch of four-year-olds for a memorable win in a mile rate of 1:58.5. While he has shown a tendency to lay out in the home straight in recent starts, Lennytheshark hasn’t had many horses to keep him company in the latter part of his races as they simply can’t keep up. The other 4YO boys’ semi-final was taken out by Lennytheshark’s arch enemy Guaranteed – considered by most punters to be the only horse capable of landing the knockout blow to the favourite in next Saturday night’s grand final. The Emma Stewart-trained son of Artsplace overhauled Ginger Bliss in the home straight for a 9.9m win in a mile rate of 1:58.2. Gavin Lang produced another typically masterful drive aboard the winner, extricating it from a four-back-the-pegs position early after the horse was shuffled back with no speed from its pole draw. From there, Lang got cover out three-wide before making a sharp run towards pacy Ginger Bliss on turning for home. Guaranteed packed too big a punch in the stretch, Ginger Bliss battling on strongly for second, with Three Pints snaring third. The eye-catcher from the race was Boyz Torque, which made up enormous ground along the inside in the last 100m to finish fourth. Diamond Castle – raced by Harness Racing Victoria ownership program Raceapacer – scored a 1.8m win over Missed By Red in a rate of 2:02.2 in the second semi-final for 2YO fillies. Trained and driven by David Miles, Diamond Castle was having just her second start after a debut second at Ballarat first-up. The daughter of Art Major settled well back in the field with $1.20 favourite Lovelist finding the lead comfortably. But at the business end the roles were reversed, with Diamond Castle finishing too well to get the win. Lovelist ran third. Talented Kari Males-trained Niki No No captured the other 2YO fillies’ semi-final, Greg Sugars steering the daughter of Sportswriter to victory. Niki No No did plenty of work early and recorded a winning mile rate of 1:59.8, with Yankee Showgirl second and Our Star Dust third. Courageousnquick scored an impressive start-to-finish win in the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, holding off Mcrita, Union Belle and the fast-finishing Pressplay in the home straight. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Kyle Marshall, Courageousnquick held out Earth Angel to find the lead at the start before seeing off all challengers in the home straight at the finish for a neck win in a rate of 2:00.4. The other 4YO mares’ semi went to Im Smouldering for Doreen trainer John Yeomans, who teamed with Gavin Lang. Im Smouldering’s winning margin was 2m and his mile rate 1:56.7. The 2YO colts and geldings’ semi-finals were taken out by Virgil Hilts at big odds for trainer-driver Lisa Miles and Major Invictus for trainer/driver Michael Stanley. Hectorjayjay (for the in-form Bill and Simone Walker team) and Messini (Brent Lilley and Chris Alford) took out the 3YO colts’ and geldings’ semis, while Berisari (Emma Stewart and Nathan Jack) and Tasmanian star Barynya (Dick Eaves and Rohan Hillier) won the 3YO fillies’ races. Friday night's races were held in windy conditions. Videos of all races are attached above. The Super Series grand final nights will be held this Friday (for the trotters) and Saturday (pacers). Twelve Group 1 races will be contested across the two-day carnival of meetings. by Cody Winnell

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