Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 19

NOBODY worked harder for women to be allowed to drive in races against men than Margaret Davies, who passed away last week at the age of 74. As the inaugural president of the NSW Reinswomen’s Association, which was formed in 1974, Margaret shrewdly used the new Discrimination Act to advantage for the women. After intense lobbying with the Harness Racing Authority in NSW and the Australian Trotting Council, licences were finally granted to Margaret and Lynette Locke in late 1977. At the time there were 54 permits issued to women who were undergoing the qualifying period at Shows and Gymkhanas. Margaret Davies was the first reinswoman in NSW to drive against the men – finishing fourth on Jaunty Jack and then second aboard Jonathon Jan at the Non-Tab race meeting at Nowra on November 12, 1977. Her first winner against the men was aboard Pipedream at Goulburn on March 4, 1978. A win on the same pacer at Bulli on June 22, 1978 saw this race provide the ‘first Ladies quinella’ in a race, with Karen Pearce finishing second on Queen Victoria. Margaret had previously won the 5DN/Ansett Reinswomen’s Championship at Globe Derby in 1976, aboard Nichols. A lover of the trotter, Margaret lived in north-east Victoria for the last decade. Among her career highlights were to own, train and drive Altimeter to win the 1989 NSW Trotters’ Derby and to breed and own the filly, Jingling Silver to defeat the colts to win the Group One 2010 Victoria Trotters’ Derby (trained and driven for the race by Chris Lang). Jingling Silver won 14 races and $191,322 and also won a Group two and three trotters feature and was placed in a Victoria Oaks and Super Sires Final. From her base at Bulli on the south coast, Margaret trained a team of pacers and trotters and always rated her husband Kelvin Davies as the biggest influence on her career. A Memorial Service for Margaret Davies will be held at 1pm on Friday 5 April at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Arundel Street, Benalla.   Michael Court for Harness Racing Australia

He's just turned 19 yet reinsman Cameron Hart already appears to have the harness racing world at his feet. Hart is relishing his decision to leave the Riverina and take up a role as stable driver for the Menangle-based Shane Sanderson stables. It now has the young reinsman driving winners all over the state and even crossing the border to Queensland where he travelled to land a winning double for Sanderson at Albion Park on Saturday night. Hart’s only temporary setback was at Menangle last week when he thought he was home and hosed aboard Mind The Wire before his big sister Ashley nabbed him right on the line with Epaulette in a rare brother-sister quinella. “I am having a good run, for sure,” said Cameron. “I knew it was close, last week, and I thought I had stolen a march but she got me fair and square,” he said. “I worked to the top in the straight and got the shock of my life when she grabbed me right on the line. Ashley loved it, that’s for sure.” Hart said his move to Sydney had been a great one and he was loving it as Sanderson had continued to build up a strong stable with some consistent performers. “There’s a lot more meetings here and driving against the best drivers in Australia like the McCarthys and the Fitzpatricks week after week can only help your driving,” he said. “You watch how those guys perform and you certainly learn a lot.” Hart has four drives at Menangle today and all are rated some chances of collecting cheques. “Aichbechateaunoir was a little disappointing at her first couple since coming to the stable but she was a lot better last start and she has worked well since,” he said. “She is stepping up in distance so we’re not too certain how’s she’ll go with that but we’re hoping she’ll improve. “Lucky Artist (Race Four) has put in two good efforts at her past couple and should go OK too.” Hart will also be aboard Loorrim Creek in Race Five, which is shaping as one of his best chances on the day. “He’s a nice little horse on the back of his effort at Penrith last week which was really tough,” he said. “He has good gate speed and should be able to grab a nice position in the run.” His final drive for the Sanderson stable will be Franco Revel in Race 10: “He’s a consistent horse who just needs the right trip to be in the finish,” he said. Michael Court

It seems that harness racing at Menangle suddenly has a plethora of future stars with several young drivers poised to dominate the sport for the next few years. And that might start today at Tabcorp Park Menangle with amazing talent expected to dominate this afternoon’s eight-race card. Race one looks the perfect case in point with four of our ‘young guns’ to do battle. Cameron Hart will handle polemarker Aichbechateaunoir for former Victorian trainer Shane Sanderson while Jason Grimson will be aboard outsider Vivian Knox for Troy Williams; the seasoned young ‘veteran’ Chris Geary drives No Transactions for Tim Butt while Codi Rauchenberger will partner Majestic Whiz for Peter Carson. All four drivers have been in good form around the provincials in recent weeks and could easily pull off an upset here. While Geary, Grimson and Hart are in heavy demand in other races, another young reinsman will be hoping to add to what is already becoming an outstanding strike rate when former Queensland reinsman Lachie Manzelmann [pictured] drives Countdown for Leon Jurd in Race Four. Manzelmann took a massive gamble when he left his home state to take up a spot working for the powerful Shane and Lauren Tritton stable at Menangle a few months ago. His gamble has worked a treat as he is working horses, including some of the best in training, most mornings on the best harness track in the Southern Hemisphere and his efforts are now beginning to catch the eye of other trainers. “I’m glad I made the move to Menangle because I had never left home before and it has done me the world of good,” said Manzelmann, who gives Countdown a good show Menangle in Race four today and believes his chances might be further improved if he can hold the lead. “I think that’s when Countdown ran his best races when he was in Queensland,” he said. “But I’ll have a talk to Leon [Jurd] before the race and see what we’ll do.” Manzelmann says he found the pace of the racing in Sydney took a bit of getting used to when he first made the move south. “They go a lot faster down here and there’s no real backing off of the speed,” he said. “But I am loving the challenge and no, I haven’t really felt homesick. “I went back to Queensland for a drive last week and managed to get into a little bit of trouble with the stewards, but it was just a one off and I am happy to stay here.” Manzelmann has one horse in work himself but has been delighted to sit behind horses like Franco Nelson and Reaza Grunter. “I think Reaza Grunter is probably the fastest horse I’ve driven in a race, at this stage,” he said. Michael Court

He’s the forgotten horse of Saturday night’s $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Yet veteran Lennytheshark, the oldest horse in the race, cannot be completely written off, despite being listed as a $21 shot in the eight-horse harness racing field. He is the defending champion and his trainer David Aiken wouldn’t swap his stable star for any other horse in the race and issued a reminder ‘Lenny’ was going as well as ever. “He is meeting the new kids on the block this season, but he is feeling terrific and is ready to do it all again,” Aiken said. “I still wouldn't swap him for any other runner. “I just finished working him an hour ago and he is going as well as ever.” Despite his defeat last week, Lennytheshark earned an invitation into the Grand Circuit event as the defending champion, with Aiken confident the son of Four Starzzz Shark could still join a select group of consecutive Miracle Mile winners. Victory will see Lennytheshark become just the seventh titleholder to successfully defend his crown since the prestigious sprint began in 1967. Westburn Grant led the way win consecutive wins in 1989 and 90, followed by Chokin (1993 and ‘94), Holmes D G (1999 and 2000), Sokyola (2003 and ‘04), Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11). Lennytheshark has drawn barrier seven, but moves into six when the emergency comes out. “I was just looking at the sectionals from last week again and he got home in 53 seconds after doing a bit of work early,” Aiken said. “He went quicker last week than he did the year before when he won.” Aiken agreed that the draw hadn’t helped but suggested punters would leave him out at their peril as he was in good enough shape to win. The former Sydney premiership-winning trainer cited Soho Tribeca as the horse to beat, but said he also rated My Field Marshal as one who could spring an upset. Soho Tribeca has drawn gate seven while My Field Marshal will come from four. Soho Tribeca is a $3.20 second elect, while My Field Marshal is sitting on $10. Lazarus heads the betting market at $2.40 despite drawing the outside of the front row. “Soho Tribeca should be favourite as I reckon he is the one to beat,” Aiken said. “That said, I can see My Field Marshal getting a really good run from the draw, which brings him right into it.” Michael Court

An Australasian equal record run of 1:48.8 threw Jilliby Kung Fu right into the mix for the harness racing Ainsworth Miracle Mile in a fortnight following a fabulous win in tonight’s $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire. It could be said the race was over in a flash at Tabcorp Park Menangle when this sensational Victorian pacer made light of his wide No 7 barrier and fired off the arm in stunning fashion to burn to the front with the polemarker, second favourite Let It Ride, having no choice but to surrender the front to the barnstorming Jilliby Kung Fu. Yet this was a race that had to be earned and there was no way Amanda Turnbull and Atomic Red were going to hand the race to ‘Jilliby’ on a platter as they were quick to whip up outside the leader and make it a serious staying test. With a first half of 55.6s (quarters of 27.4 and 28.2s) it was certainly no place for the faint-hearted. Yet a third quarter of 26.6 did little to shake off his rivals and it was only in the closing stages that Let It Ride extricated himself from behind the leader and made a three-wide attack on the leader with Atomic Red wilting only slightly into third place after his hard run. But the final split of 26.6 for a closing half of 53.2s told the story as Jilly Kung Fu equalled the track record of 1:48.8 set by Have Faith In Me in the 2016 Miracle Mile, defeating Let It Ride by 1.3m with Atomic Red 7.3m further back in third spot, just ahead of outsider Whittaker . With a run like that there is little doubt Jilliby Kung Fu and his young reinsman Jason Lee have earned their berth against Australasia’s best pacers in the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile to be run on Saturday night, February 24. That decision, according to Jason, is entirely up to ‘mum’, trainer Marg Lee. “Opportunities like this may only come along once in a lifetime and if it is up to me and the horse pulls up OK, we’d be taking that invitation for sure,” he said. “The son of Four Starzzz Shark has matured so much as a four-year-old from the young horse that just refused to run past other horses. Now he’s the full package.” Jilliby Kung Fu 8 9:44pm CORDINA CHICKEN FARMS CHARIOTS OF FIRE (GROUP 1) 1609M $200,000 4YO. RBD. Mobile Final Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 JILLIBY KUNG FU  $120,000   Fr7 9 Margaret Lee Jason Lee   $ 2.10 fav  GS L SWAB   BAY HORSE 4 by FOUR STARZZZ SHARK CA out of SLIP SLOP SLAP (PERFECT ART USA)  Owner(s): Levarg Racing Group  Breeder(s): D J Poole, S B Poole 2 LET IT RIDE NZ  $ 30,000   Fr1 1 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 1.30 $ 3.50   GS D/F$400 UW SWAB 3 ATOMIC RED  $ 20,000   Fr8 10 Steve Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 8.60 $ 5.60   WF FT SWAB 4 WHITTAKER NZ  $ 10,000   Fr3 4 Mark Jones Ashlee Grives 11.20 $ 21.40     5 PAY ME SAM  $ 5,000   Fr5 7 Paul Fitzpatrick Gavin Fitzpatrick 11.80 $ 21.90     6 GOTTA GO YA HU NZ  $ 3,000   Fr10 12 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 13.40 $ 29.10   COTFB RAS 7 ANGEL IN WHITE NZ  $ 3,000   Fr9 11 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Andy McCarthy 17.10 $ 45.50   COTFB RAS 8 CONVICTION  $ 3,000   Fr6 8 Steve Turnbull Mitch Turnbull 18.00 $ 57.60   RAS 9 JOES STAR OF MIA  $ 3,000   Fr2 3 Steve Turnbull Steve Turnbull 19.50 $ 58.60     10 OUR UNCLE SAM  $ 3,000   Fr4 6 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 23.40 $ 17.50   (L) Scratchings   COWBOYS N ALIENS NZ 2 OUR TRIPLE PLAY NZ 5 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:48:8 Mile Rate: 1:48:8 First Quarter: 27.4 Second Quarter: 28.2 Third Quarter: 26.6 Fourth Quarter: 26.6 Margins: 1.3m x 7.3m   Michael Court

When you feel like you are on the best horse in the race it’s a great start. And that’s exactly how harness racing driver McKayler Barnes felt when she drove seven-year-old gelding Gotta Go Artelect at Tabcorp Park Menangle today as the pair made a one-act affair of the Kari J. C. Caffyn Indigenous Drivers Plate. Barnes spurred Gotta Go Artelect out of the gate in a 27.3s opening split and virtually left her rivals gasping for air as the son of Art Major cruised to one of the most impressive wins in the seven years this feature race has been contested. Able to back the speed off slightly with a 30.9s second split, Gotta Go Artelect was never seriously pressured by his rivals and the Wayne Dimech-trained gelding had plenty left in the run home, rating 55.8s for his last half to score by eight metres from Im Twice The Delight (Bruce O’Brien) with Got The Scoop (Jimmy Brown) a fast-finishing third, a further four metres further back. Barnes qualified for this feature when she drove Blackbird Power to finish second in a heat at Parkes to qualify for today’s final. She missed the Wagga and Tamworth heats but had already sealed her spot in the big race. “That was just awesome,” said the excited young lady as she returned. “The horse went to the line super and I didn’t even need to pull the plugs,” she said. “He just felt so strong. “I know Wayne (Dimech, trainer) from when I first began driving. “To be honest they said this horse was a bit mad so I was bit nervous when I first went out. “I just hoped he’d settle a bit.  “Coming around the final bend I gave him one tap with the whip and he just felt super. “I won a lady drivers race at Peak Hill but this certainly compares and is probably my biggest win. “This series is great and more people are getting involved every year. “I also love the colours they presented to us . . . they’re cool.” Michael Court

Few can match harness racing trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick's expertise with square-gaiters. And the Cawdor reinsman's talents handed him not only another feature but a quinella when his horses topped the table at today's Campbell Advisory Jill McGrath Franco Australian Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Fitzpatrick only had two runners in the 2300m standing start Group Two and both trotted almost faultlessly to fight out the finish of the race. The only problem was that Blake decided to drive Blazing Under Fire ($5.20) in the event while handing the drive on the stable's other starter Mistercool Sea Eyre to in-form young reinsman Jack Trainor. Fitzpatrick looked to have the race in keeping turning for home when he dashed Blazing Under Fire to a commanding lead after setting the pace for most of the race. Unfortunately for Blake that made him a sitting shot for something else in the race and luckily it was the last-start Melton winner Mistercool Sea Eyre ($4.30 favourite) that emerged from the chasing pack to chase down the leader and emerge triumphant. Iona Grinner Robert Morris came off 20m and trotted well to finish a handy third, coming from well back in the field. Still there were hard-luck stories aplenty in the race with several runners galloping away and losing all chance, including Graeme Hartman's in-form pair Later and Luvstuenthral who bombed their chances at the get go. Michael Court

Mark Purdon's star pair drew perfectly in the harness racing barrier draw for the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle today. The only problem was, neither of them was Lazarus. Inter Dominion winner Smolda drew gate one and Our Waikiki Beach drew four but is expected to come into gate three when the second emergency, Major Crocker, is scratched, despite drawing barrier two. Purdon's star four-year-old Lazarus threw the race open when he drew out in gate eight (will come into six with the emergencies out) but can be expected to endure a wide run if he is to figure in the finish. David Aiken's pair of hotshots Lennytheshark (six) and Hectorjayjay (gate 10) also drew poorly as did another speedster Yayas Hotspot, who has to contend with gate nine if he had any hope of being first to the pegs. The final draw for the $740,000 Group One classic, to be run next Saturday night at Menangle is: 1. SMOLDA 2. MAJOR CROCKER (2nd em) 3. BLING IT ON 4. OUR WAIKIKI BEACH 5. SALTY ROBYN 6. LENNYTHESHARK 7. AZTEC BROMAC (1st em) 8. LAZARUS 9. YAYAS HOTSPOT 10. HECTORJAYJAY   By MICHAEL COURT                    

Unlike some of the previous years, there were no Miracle Mile 'shocks' with selections for the 50th running of the great race when harness racing directors of Club Menangle settled on their final field after the two qualifying sprints were decided tonight. After Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark won their respective heats the David Aiken-trained pair were assured of invitations into the big race, alongside the two runners-up Yayas Hotspot and Smolda. With Lazarus already accepting a spot after winning last week's Chariots Of Fire that effectively left three invitations to be issued. Chariots Of Fire placegetters Our Waikiki Beach and Salty Robyn were invited alongside Hunter Cup winner Bling It On, ensuring the strongest field possible will go around next Saturday night. Connections ruled out a possible invitation for defending champion Have Faith In Me, who finished a disappointing sixth in the Canadian Club Sprint. Mark Purdon's All Stars stable decided all was not right with their erratic son of Bettors Delight, declaring he would not be seeking a return invitation. Still the race will have a trio of four-year-olds contesting the big race with Lazarus, Our Waikiki Beach and Salty Robyn all genuine contenders. The Purdon stable will have three runners, Lazarus, Our Waikiki Beach and Smolda, the Shane Tritton stable will have two with Yayas Hotspot and Salty Robyn and the David Aiken stable will have Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. The only other stable with a runner is John McCarthy's Bling It On. Lennytheshark by Four Starzzz Shark Hectorjayjay by Dream Away Lazarus by Bettor's Delight Yayas Hotspot by Jereme's Jet Smolda by Courage Under Fire Our Waikiki Beach by Somebeachsomewhere Salty Robyn by Art Official Bling It On by American Ideal The two reserves will be Aztec Bromac  by American Ideal (1st emergency) and Major Crocker by Art Major (2nd emergency) . . . both finished third in their respective sprints. By MICHAEL COURT

Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark gave David Aiken a double-barrelled harness racing attack on next week's $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile when they won the two qualifying sprints tonight at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Lennytheshark quickly found the front and led all the way to win the Canadian Club Sprint in 1:50.3, beating Yayas Hotspot and Aztec Bromac with the first two horses automatically sealing Miracle Mile spots alongside Chariots Of Fire winner Lazarus. Trainer David Aiken barely had time to smile as he quickly harnessed up Hectorjayjay, who put in a repeat performance of his stablemate's effort, zipping across to lead from gate five before cruising home in 1:51.5, beating the gusty Smolda and pegs-hugging Major Crocker. "His gate speed is his biggest asset so we really had to make use of that tonight," commented young reinsman Josh Aiken, who drove a confident race on Hectorjayjay, ensuring this 50th Miracle Mile will have all the big guns except defending champion Have Faith In Me. Last year's winner finished a disappointing sixth in the Canadian Club Sprint and connections quickly ruled out any possibility of the five-year-old being here next weekend to defend the title he won last year in a record 1:47.5. With the committee of Club Menangle heading off to decide on the other three runners, the five assured of a Miracle Mile run were Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Yayas Hotspot, Hectorjayjay and Smolda. Lennytheshark Hectorjayjay By MICHAEL COURT                        

The Purdon Express rolled on during heats of the New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight with the champion New Zealand trainer's All Stars harness racing stable winning two of the three qualifying heats. While the defeat of Ultimate Machete appeared to burst that bubble for Purdon, who admitted his Bettor's Delight youngster was beaten a long way from home, Vincent and Motu Meteor both scored strong wins and will give Purdon a hat-trick of hopes in the final with Ultimate Machete still qualifying despite a fading third. Still it was the win of Atomic Red which had everybody talking as the Steve Turnbull-trained and Amanda Turnbull-driven son of Rocknroll Hanover led all the way over the 2400m to score a slashing win in track record time. Taken straight to the front from gate three Atomic Red kept his rivals off the bit and chasing for the whole journey with a final mile in 1:54.4 to win by 2.3m from Astride with Ultimate Machete another three metres back a tiring third. That incredible run knocked two-tenths of a second off Zee Dana's track record run set at Menangle just 12 months ago. While Purdon qualified three runners for the Derby, the night was also a triumph for the country stables: Steve Turnbull qualified two runners, Atomic Red and Conviction for next weekend's $200,000 final; Bernie Hewitt qualified Pretty Hot, Brad Hewitt got Our Triple Play through to the big one and Russell Jack's Warden Express will also be there next Saturday night as will Wilberforce trainer David Brown's Hes My Mate. Atomic Red - Heat two Motu Meteor - Heat one Vincent - Heat three By MICHAEL COURT

Manly rugby league hero Brett Stewart has never shirked making a tackle . . . and now the harness racing pacer he part-owns, Zee Dana is set to do the same. The gelding son of Tintin In America threw the gauntlet down to New Zealand's unbeaten superstar Our Waikiki Beach when he set a world-record time for three-year-old colts and geldings on the way to smashing his rivals in the first heat of the New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight Saturday the 20th of February. A masterly drive by Victoria Nathan Jack saw Zee Dana stop the clock in a stunning 1:54.7 for his final mile, breaking Major Secret's previous world record for three-year-olds over 2400m by a full second. Jack quickly showed his intentions when he was smartly away from gate five before taking a trail on Don't Hold Back in the opening Derby qualifier. But turning for home a split came when Power Of Red began to drop off after racing outside the leader and Zee Dana shot clear before romping away to score by almost 14 metres from Code Black (Todd McCarthy) with El Major (Mat Rue) a late-closing and impressive third. Zee Dana Jack barely had time to wipe the mud from his visor on a night hit by intermittent showers before he was back in the winners' circle in the second Derby heat, leading all-the-way with Brallos Pass to score by 2.9m from Sams The Master with another Victorian visitor Soho Tribeca (Chris Alford) flashing through to nab third. The son of Major In Art already has the SA Derby to his credit before a creditable fifth to Lazarus in the Victoria Derby. With the right draw he is now certain to make his presence felt in tomorrow week's $200,000 Coca-Cola Amatil NSW Derby. Brallos Pass The third and final Derby heat was just what the fans expected with the unbeaten Our Waikiki Beach (Natalie Rasmussen) doing just enough to make it 15 successive wins and maintain his unbeaten record. Rasmussen made her move with the gelding son of Somebeachsomewhere from last with 1000m to travel and settled outside the leader Shadow Runner before putting paid to his rivals in the straight to score in a 1:57.1 mile rate. Our Waikiki Beach The make-up for next week's 12-horse NSW Derby, with the barrier draw to be done tomorrow (Sunday) morning is: Zee Dana, Code Black, El Major, Frankie Rocks, Brallos Pass, Sams The Master, Soho Tribeca, Ascot Encounter, Our Waikiki Beach, Kingofthestars, Cant Refuse and Stanley Ross Robyn. by Michael Court                

Even an Australian record run by Smolda minutes later failed to take anything away from a barrier draw that will make this year's harness racing SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle, one of the most keenly-contested in the race's history. Former Kiwi mare Arms Of An Angel drew a gasp from the crowd and a cheer from connections when the four-year-old mare drew the coveted No 1 gate for tomorrow week's $750,000 Group One. That should almost guarantee this will be the fastest Miracle Mile in history as her driver Lauren Panella looks likely to lower the handlebars and make her rivals chase her all the way. Two-time Inter Dominion champion Beautide would have given his trainer-driver James Rattray a thrill too when he drew gate four, but will come into start from gate three if and when second emergency Easy On The Eye (gate three) is withdrawn. Current Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark drew gate six but could come as close as gate four when the emergencies are taken out while New Zealand's four-year-old star Have Faith In Me won't be harmed by drawing gate seven, as he will probably be saved for a final crack at them in the straight the final time. Of course Smolda failed to earn an invitation after missing last week's sprints but the Mark Purdon star still impressed with a gutsy win a few minutes after the draw, rating an Australian record 1:53.7 to beat Mach Beauty and Lochinver in the Brian Hancock FFA. Smolda While Rasmussen drove the winner, she must have had mixed feelings as Smolda took one-tenth of a second off the previous record set by her mighty champions Blacks A Fake. The final draw for the $750,000 SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile is: 1. Arms Of An Angel 2. Monifieth 3. Easy On The Eye (2nd em) 4. Beautide 5. Lord Zin Zan (1st em) 6. Lennytheshark 7. Have Faith In Me 8. My Hard Copy 9. Blazin N Cullen 10. Bling It On. by Michael Court                  

A different Purdon, big brother Barry, stoke the show back from his brother Mark in tonight’s Robin Dundee Classic at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle as his promising mare Start Dreaming surged into the field for next week’s $200,000 Ladyship Mile with a strong finishing display. Mark Purdon had won earlier features in the night with the likes of Our Waikiki Beach and Smolda but the Robin Dundee was always going to be even more hotly contested with the first four assured of invitations into tomorrow week’s Ladyship Mile. And as they crossed the line it was Start Dreaming, Berisari, Betabcool and My Willow that filled the top four slots to take those coveted Ladyship berths. My Willow, it was later revealed, had already qualified from her fifth to Frith in the Sibelia the previous week, so the final spot went to tonight’s fifth placegetter Juliette Bromac from the David Aiken stable. Still it was Start Dreaming that looked the goods and her reinsman Blake Fitzpatrick assured racegoers the New Zealand visitor would be very competitive against the likes of Frith, Nike Franco and Fight For Glory in next week’s Group One mares’ feature. A well-backed favourite, Start Dreaming ($2.30) raced in second and third spot to the turn until Fitzpatrick set her alight turning for home and she wore down her rivals to score by 1.3m in a 1:51.9 mile rate. “Both her wins here have been outstanding in this country since Barry brought her over here,” said Fitzpatrick. “Barry didn’t give me any particular instructions as he knows the racing is quite different here in Australia. “So we had no set plan and I’m not even sure if I’ll be driving her for Barry next weekend [in the ladyship]. “But it’s still a pleasure to drive for a champion trainer like him who knows how to find a good horse – and he always has.” Michael Court    

Leading Victoria harness racing trainer Emma Stewart seldom goes home empty-handed when she hits Tabcorp Park Menangle. And her attention to youngsters and her marvellous training efforts with co-trainer Clayton Tonkin were brought to the fore again at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight when lightly-raced The Storm Inside scored an easy win in the Grinders Coffee Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial. Taken straight to contest the early lead with Prince Syntax, reinsman Greg Sugars soon settled The Storm Inside $1.80 favourite) at the head of the field. Able to back off the speed in the second quarter in 31.7s, the son of Rocknroll Hanover opened up in the straight to score a 4.4m win over Our Triple Play, who tested the favourite in the middle stages of the race before wilting slightly in the straight finish second with Redbank Blaze just grabbing third, narrowly in front of Weona Sizzler. The winner rated 1:54.8 in an impressive display. Sugars later paid tribute to Stewart and her training prowess. "This bloke might be inexperienced, he's only had the two starts, but you'd swear he'd done this 100 times before," said Sugars. "And he seems to do it with some petrol left in the tank, which is pretty impressive when you look at the sectionals he is reeling off. "Emma's horses never lack schooling - they are really professional racehorses and I think The Storm Inside showed that here tonight. "I really think he's a young horse going places." The Storm Inside by Michael Court              

Harness racing trainer Amanda Turnbull took a gamble and it paid off when unraced youngster Eliza Dushku scored a stunning win in tonight's Group Two Mt Franklin Pink Bonnet at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Turnbull explained that Eliza Dusku hadn't been paid up for a lot of the feature races so she decided to take the gamble and rush her youngster's preparation to be ready for a tilt at the $51,500 Pink Bonnet at her first start in a race. "Eliza" did the rest racing away to score an amazing 14.5m win in a 1:55.7 mile rate, beating Shez Sugarsweet and Its All Bliss to give reinsman Nathan Jack three winners in the first four races at Menangle after he earlier scored in two heats of the NSW Derby. "We had to take the gamble and go forward to put her in the race, sometimes you have to take that risk but tonight it paid off," said a jubilant Jack, celebrating one of his best night's at the south-western Sydney harness racing track. The daughter of Bettor's Delight is certain to be a contender in anything she starts in and Turnbull admitted she would have to look around and find some more worthwhile targets for Eliza Dushku now that she had shown her talents to the world. "This is a big group of owners and this is what's it's all about," said Jack. "A lot of them travelled up from Victoria to see her race tonight, so I was happy we could give them a feature win in the oldest two-year-old fillies' race in Australia. "I'm not sure we'll be able to get the famous pink bonnet on her . . . but we'll give it a good-old fashioned try." Eliza Dushku by Michael Court                  

1 to 16 of 19