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Ellalong harness racing reinsman Michael Formosa will look to Beersinmypocket to repeat his debut effort at Newcastle Paceway on Monday. Formosa had a training double at the track on Saturday night with Si Si Senor and Jackeroo Shannon but will be a driver only on Monday. The best on his book is the Ray Harkness-trained four-year-old Beersinmypocket, which Formosa steered to a 29-metre win in the wet at Newcastle on May 18. He will start from the second line on Monday in race three. "It looks above average so hopefully he has a trouble-free run tomorrow and he should go close to winning again," Formosa said. On Saturday night, Jackeroo Shannon led all the way with Formosa aboard, while Jack Callaghan gave Si Si Senor a perfect run behind the pace before he finished over the top of Regal Rock. Formosa is training Jackeroo Shannon for Tamworth's Sarah Rushbrook while she recovers from injuries suffered in a fall in March. Si Si Senor came back from a poor last-start run when ninth. "He's a pretty nice horse when he's right and I was confident he would run well," he said of Si Si Senor. "He had a bug then he ran a really good race after he recovered. But I backed him up a week later and he just couldn't go." "I've just got to space his runs out a bit now." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa believes Rolling With Stell is a genuine chance of making the Group 1 $100,000 Gold Chalice final at Bathurst through harness racing heats on Monday. Rolling With Stell has two second places at Newcastle this time in and was fifth in the Rowleyalla Sprint at Bathurst on Saturday night. He will back up in the three-year-old colts and gelding series from gate one in heat three where a top-three finish secures a spot in Friday night's decider. "I reckon he has a place chance, especially if the favourite [First String] leads and we're able to get in behind it," Formosa said. Barrett, for Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby and Kiwi Mark Jones, is also in the heat. Formosa won at Bathurst on Friday night when Si Si Senor took out heat four of the Honouree series. Also Monday, Cessnock trainer Clayton Harmey has Choisir Damour in heat two of the Bracelet and Straddie in heat four of the Chalice. Bobs Farm's Geoff Harding has Roll With Lachlan in heat one of the Chalice. Keinbah trainer Roy Roots jnr has My Anna Rani nominated for heat one of the Bracelet but he said she was unlikely to race after a trackwork accident limited preparations. Roots jnr was pleased to see The Black Prince back in the winners' circle at Newcastle on Saturday night. He was run down late to finish third at Newcastle at his previous start but came from behind to win by 1.6 metres this time around. He said the stable star will return to Menangle racing before targeting the Renshaw Cup at Penrith next month. "He drew bad and was a long way back but we had to be patient and drive for luck, and he just pulled through," Roots jnr said. To see the full expanded program for Monday night click here By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Prominent Hunter trainers Michael Formosa and Clayton Harmey are disappointed with the lack of transparency about the potential loss of Newcastle International Paceway but believe a move to an industry-owned training centre and harness racing track would be a winner. The Herald reported on Friday that Wests Group had guaranteed to contribute at least $10 million towards a potential $20 million rugby league centre of excellence to be built next to McDonald Jones Stadium at the Broadmeadow paceway site. The multi-million dollar paceway, which opened in 1989, is built on crown land Newcastle Harness Racing Club has a lease on until 2027. However, the centre of excellence bid, and plans to transform Broadmeadow’s sporting precinct, could lead to the state government funding a new home for Hunter harness racing to free up the existing site. East Maitland thoroughbred training track Fairhall Park is believed to be among locations pacing authorities are exploring. Hunter harness racing also has land at Black Hill, given to the sport in the 1970s, but the parcel cannot be built on because it is part of a zoned green corridor. While any changes appear years away, Formosa and Harmey were frustrated with the lack of information coming from pacing authorities.  “The disappointing thing is that we’re reading all these different things in the paper and no one’s even told us,” Formosa said.  However, both were encouraged by the potential for an industry-owned training and track centre. “At the end of the day, harness racing needs to buy its own place, build its own facilities and bring people in,” Harmey said. “There’s nowhere around here where you can encourage people to get into the game, because you can’t get stables anywhere. They need to have a training centre and encourage people to stable horses on track. If they built something the same as Menangle, it’ll be full straight away.” Formosa was confident Harness Racing NSW “will take control of the situation and do what has to be done”. “But you can’t be spending money on property you don’t own,” he said. “I think we are probably better off in the long run if something is owned by Harness Racing NSW and run by them too. To be honest, I don’t know why they’ve spent so much money on something [at Newcastle] they’ve had leased for so little time. I thought they would have at least a 50-year lease when it started.” Newcastle will hold a nine-race program on Friday from 5.02pm highlighted by two heats of the NSW Rising Stars series featuring Maitland reinsman Brad Elder and Daniel Morgan. Formosa trialed stable star Ultimate Art at Newcastle on Wednesday night ahead of his run from gate one in the group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle Park on Sunday. Harmey, meanwhile, believed Cessnock provided sites worthy of consideration in the search for a potential new Hunter headquarters. Harmey, who lives at Nulkaba and stables his horses at Cessnock Showground, was encouraged by early proposals from his local council, who have expressed their interest in providing land for a potential harness racing centre. He said the former Kurri Kurri hydro-aluminium site would be an ideal location. “There’s power and water there and it’s central for everyone who trains around here and it’s right on the freeway,” he said. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Plans remain on track for giant pacer Ultimate Art. Prepared at Ellalong by Mick Formosa, the popular pacer was scheduled to trial last night (Wednesday) at his home track of Newcastle before persistent rain forced harness racing officials to abandon the session. It wasn’t the news that Formosa wanted to hear. Ultimate Art is being readied for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday, June 25 before returning to Brisbane for the winter carnival. “I really needed him to trial last night because he needs a few runs to bring him up to speed, it wasn’t to be and we will head back to the trials next week. I was hoping to have two trials under his belt before the Len Smith Mile followed by Brisbane.” Formosa said. Last season, the Modern Art entire enjoyed tremendous success at Albion Park winning 9 of his 14 starts which included 8 in succession. He finished 4th behind Hectorjayjay in the Sunshine Sprint while he ran 3rd behind Ohoka Punter in the Blacks A Fake, his two targets again during his northern campaign. Ultimate Art was under the care of Formosa’s good friends, Shannon Price and Scott Miller. “He had a great stint up there last year and Shannon and Scott did a wonderful job, it was great ride for us and provided so many thrills. Hopefully we can experience something like that again this year. “I’m really happy with the way he’s performed this campaign and he’s continued to train on well since his last start in the Newcastle Mile, I really wanted to win that race but we couldn’t peg back Bettor Bet Black. “The carnival looks like it will be really solid but he won’t be far away again, if we have any luck we’ll certainly take our chance.” At his most recent start, Ultimate Art was beaten a half neck margin behind Bettor Bet Black in a time of 1:53.1 on May 6. Ultimate Art has won 32 of his 85 starts while banking more than $500,000 in stakes. Chris Barsby

Louth Park harness racing driver Brad Elder was lucky to escape with a broken nose and badly grazed face at Newcastle on Wednesday following a race fall which will be investigated further next week. Harness Racing NSW stewards will hold an inquiry with Elder and Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa on Monday after four horses collided and failed to finish the second race at Newcastle International Paceway.  Elder, who was sent to John Hunter Hospital straight after the incident and may still require surgery, went face-first into the track after the horse he was steering hit the deck on the final bend of the C1-C2 mile event. “He was in behind the leader, got checked and then went arse-over-head,” Elder’s father and long-time driver Darren Elder said.  “He did a big face dive straight into the track and then a couple of them went over the top. It was a mess. Just terrible.” The video replay shows potential contact between the outside legs of Elder’s seven-year-old gelding The Plainsman and the inside wheel of Formosa’s four-year-old gelding Ultimate Courage.  Stewards’ comments post race said Elder’s The Plainsman, trained by Chris Bourke of Millers Forest, had been “heavily checked”.   Elder’s The Plainsman was on the rail and third at the time with Formosa’s Ultimate Courage positioned outside of him and slightly ahead in second. Both were in sight of leader and eventual winner Booty Shake.  Formosa’s Ultimate Courage continued and finished third after being overtaken in the home straight by The Boys GNP. However, Elder was tipped out of the gig and over the top of The Plainsman before Blackjack Shannon, Mainland Duchess and Major Charlie crashed into them from behind and all four runners were unable to complete the journey.   Fourth-placed Chevalcoldhardcash was the only other horse in the race to avoid the pileup. Elder missed a win later in the program with Love This Dragon and returns to see a specialist on Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage. The outcome of scans may determine what the Elder family’s stable star, Inter Dominion finalist Shannonsablast, aims for over summer in either Victoria or Queensland following a second at Menangle on Tuesday.  In the meantime Elder is up for the NSW Country Junior Driver’s Encouragement award at the industry’s state presentation in Sydney on Saturday night. Racing resumes at Newcastle on Monday. By Josh Callinan Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Michael Formosa knows what it takes to win a feature race at Bathurst during the Gold Crown carnival. Formosa drove Shadow Runner to victory in last year's Gold Crown for trainer Sam Dimarco and was the trainer/driver of Ultimate Art when he won the same race in 2012. While Formosa started with six two-year-olds at the beginning of the season, only one remains in work and he is hoping that his lone youngster Rocknroll Emma can represent the stable successfully in the Bathurst Gold Tiara. The filly has had two starts and was driven on both occasions by freelance reinsman Brad Cowen but Formosa will take the filly's reins during the carnival. "The reason Brad (Cowen) has driven her at both of her race starts is that I was bringing two youngsters through together and because the other one was a bit of a handful I was doing all the work with it," Formosa said. "I've got a good opinion of the filly, she is raced by my first ever client Charlie Camilleri, he bred her and I've always thought she had ability but she lacked high speed. " "However, it has all started to come together at the right time because she now has developed the speed to go with the stamina." Reliving his past successes at Bathurst, Formosa believes he has the right type of two-year-old to win another feature. "Rocknroll Emma hasn't had as many starts as Ultimate Art or Shadow Runner but when you go into a series like this you know whether you have a realistic chance and I believe she is going to be a serious player." When Formosa won the 2012 Gold Crown with Ultimate Art his wife Kirsty was unable to be trackside as she was at a friend's wedding. Should Rocknroll Emma qualify for the Gold Tiara it is highly likely Kirsty will not be at Bathurst to watch the filly compete. "Kirsty and the kids headed off to Bathurst this morning (Tuesday) and I'm going to follow them later today." "he kids took their ponies with them and they will head off to Gunning for the mini trotting state championships in the middle of next week." "If I am needed at Bathurst then the girls will race at Gunning and I'll have to miss it but if I don't have anything in on Gold Crown night, then I might be able to head down to Gunning in time to watch them race." Formosa also confirmed Ultimate Art will remain in Queensland for the time being. The Inter Dominion finalist has hit form for trainer Shannon Price in Brisbane and Formosa is even considering asking the Queensland trainer to campaign the horse in Western Australia later in the year. "I'll just have to wait and see how everything works out but Thomas (Ultimate Art) has really hit his straps with Shannon, he can definitely stay there until the winter carnival and then I want to see him compete in the Western Australian Inter Dominion later in the year." "I need to have a chat to Shannon about it but I might even ask her to take him to Perth, I'll just have to wait and see." "Initially when I sent him to Queensland I was going to travel up and drive him in races at Albion Park but with Newcastle racing on Saturday nights I have been busy and Barton (Cockburn) has struck up a good relationship with him by the looks of it." The long trip from Formosa's property to Tabcorp Park Menangle was one of the main reasons Ultimate Art was sent to Queensland. "Thomas was playing up on the way home in the float and during the summer months when I would get him off the float when we got home he would be in a lather of sweat and then he would spend most of Sunday lying down so I thought it might be best to send him north where he would spend a lot less time on the float." "He's the new kid on the block up there and he is going extremely well, hopefully he can keep that form up until the big races during the winter." Greg Hayes

A change in scenery has worked wonders for giant harness racing pacer Ultimate Art. A recent decision from Kristy and Mick Formosa to send their stable star Ultimate Art north to Queensland is paying dividends following his recent open class thumping’s at Albion Park. Now prepared by husband and wife combination of Scott Miller and Shannon Price, Ultimate Art recorded his latest victory last Saturday night after parking without cover in the 1660m event before scoring comfortably in a time of 1:53.0. The big striding Modern Art entire was handled by Bart Cockburn. “He’s a quality animal, there’s no doubt about that and his recent form shouldn’t shock anyone because we know he’s got class and fierce determination." "It was a big call for Mick and Kirsty to send him up but everything is going well and hopefully he will hold his form for some time to come.” Miller said. And connections are already starting to look ahead. The Brisbane winter carnival in July is the immediate focus for Ultimate Art with the Sunshine Sprint and the Blacks A Fake being the major targets. Dual Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova is yet to reappear following his extended Perth campaign which resulted in the free-legged pacer running a monstrous fourth in the Inter Dominion Grand Final at Gloucester Park won by Lennytheshark; many now believe Ultimate Art could take the mantle as the state’s best pacer. “The winter carnival is clearly our long range target with him but we’ll just take a race at a time for now and we’re thrilled with the way he settled in and performing." "I know Bart is very happy with the way he’s finished off his past two starts and he’s come through both races really well." “While Avonnova is still working back-up to race condition, I think this is great for his confidence and we’ll look forward to challenge when they finally meet down the track." "I’m sure they’ll clash often when both are up and going but for the time being, we’re happy to see him doing what he’s doing." “He wasn’t the best of travelers in the past and with based near Newcastle, it’s obviously a big round trip for him to race at Menangle and the fact we’re quite close to Albion Park is a big advantage for him." He travels comfortably and heads straight for his feed tin once he’s unloaded on race night; it’s making a big difference with less time spent in the float.” Miller said Ultimate Art will back-up and race again this Saturday night. “We won’t overdo it with him but it’s a nice race for him and he’s come through last week really well so we’re happy to start him again." “The aim is the winter carnival and we’ll continue to plot our path to those bigger races as they get closer.” Ultimate Art was an Inter Dominion Grand Finalist in 2015 at TABCORP Park, Menangle when 7th behind Beautide. Chris Barsby

Mitchell Chapple has had the best work experience week you could ever dream of. Chapple, from Maitland accompanied Ellalong harness racing trainer Michael Formosa to Queensland for the Winter Carnival to be an extra work hand. “Mick offered me the trip to help out around the horses and I have gained a lot of experience and met a lot of great people. We stayed at Shannon Price’s property and it is a brilliant set up, awesome” said Chapple. It soon turned from work experience to a winning drive when Chapple jumped at the opportunity, when offered by Michael Formosa, to take the drive behind Mondo Seelster at the Redcliffe meeting last Wednesday. With the track unknown to Chapple he drove a perfect race to have a one hundred percent winning strike rate. “It was pretty good, the horse (Mondo Seelster) was travelling well but I thought when the leader got away he might have been hard to catch but the horse dug deep” Floweronthewall led the field with Mondo Seelster racing three back on the pegs. Chapple extricated Mondo Seelster off the pegs in the back straight and powered three wide around the last bend for a 3m win over race favourite Floweronthewall with Jack Frost a half head away third. From nine drives behind Mondo Seelster, Chapple has produced three wins and four placings. “We are a combination now,” Chapple joked. Mitch is the son of Hunter Valley reinsman Guy Chapple and there may be a slight touch of competition in the future between the two. “Dad has driven two winners in Queensland,’ said Chapple, so there may well be a return trip for Chapple junior. It was only two days later that Mitch Chapple was offered a drive at Albion Park behind the Steve Cini trained All About Art. “Mum (Ange) owns a part share in All About Art and he had hit his mark in NSW so we sent him to Queensland to race.” There was no pressure for young Chapple with All About Art finishing fourth to Isaac in the Hear All The Action Radio Pace.   “They were all happy we got a run and I was driving. “It was the best experience, I learnt not only from Mick but learning from other people around me and driving on different tracks is an experience I am glad I had.” But it will be a reality check for 17 yo Chapple when he lands back home in Maitland. “I am back to College on Thursday.” Greg Hayes

Harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco would have been a very happy man last night when his high class two year old Shadow Runner bounced back from his disqualification at his prior start by winning his semi-final of the New South Wales Breeders Challenge in a manner which suggested that Waikiki Beach won't have it all his own way in the final in a fortnight. Away well from barrier one for driver Michael Formosa, Shadow Runner settled three back on the inner as El Major set the tempo in front. Passing the 900 metres mark, Michael angled the son of Shadow Play into the running line and went up and sat on the wheel of El Major passing the 800 metres mark. When asked for an effort as they turned for home, Shadow Runner found plenty and sprinted away for an impressive victory. What added further merit to his effort apart from the winning time of 1:53.6 in the cool conditions was the closing sectionals of 55.4 and 27.1 which stamped the two year old as one high class race horse. Brought by Marissa Dimarco for her father to train when he was going through a particularly difficult time, the son of Shadow Play was recently the subject of a six figure offer. After much deliberation, Melissa decided to turn the offer down believing that the horse meant to much to the family to sell him.  "I can't sell Shadow Runner, he has been a very special horse for my family and I couldn't bring myself to sell him, he's not for sale." "Dad said with that sort of money I could go out and buy another yearling but it isn't about the money for me, the horses are my hobby," Marissa said The win took Shadow Runners earnings in his two year year to over $95,000 and he is now a live chance in the $125,000 final in two weeks. Harnesslink Media  

Inter Dominion finalist and two-time group 1 winner Ultimate Art (Modern Art) will have a crack at Menangle on Saturday night for Ellalong harness racing trainer-driver Michael Formosa. The group 3 open class over 2300 metres will be the third race back for the five-year-old bay colt since running seventh for Formosa on Australasia’s richest harness racing day in March. Both of Ultimate Art’s runs have been over the same distance at Menangle, finishing fourth in the Group 3 Joe and Michael Isley on May 16 and tenth in the listed classic Bulli Cup.  Ultimate Art (race seven, number 10), with 19 wins and 12 placings from 47 career starts, will be up against Mark Purdon’s Smolda and the McCarthy’s For A Reason. Formosa also has Milias Ideal (race six, number three) in the race prior, the NSW Breeders Challenge semi-final for two-year-old fillies, and will drive Shadow Runner (race eight, number one) in the NSW Breeders semi-final for two-year-old geldings and colts. First race jumps at 5.17pm. Newcastle Harness racing Club will host meetings on Thursday from 2.58pm and Friday from 5.09pm. By Josh Callihan Reprinted with permission of The Maitland Mercury website  

Hunter Valley trainer Michael Formosa will welcome back Inter Dominion finalist Ultimate Art this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle.   The son of Modern Art will compete in the Gr.3 Spress Joe and Michael Ilsley Free For All over 2300 metres and Formosa confirmed the distance was a key factor in selecting the race.   “Thomas (Ultimate Art) is about 90 to 95% percent fit for this weekend and despite being first up I think the longer journey will suit him better than the mile, in that top grade they can go anywhere from 1:50 to 1:52 for the sprint trip,” said Formosa.   “Over the 2300 metres they normally back off at some stage and it will help him work into the race, he is a horse that can surprise me so a win is not out of the question but he normally takes one or two runs to hit top gear.”   Formosa is planning on giving Ultimate Art at least two runs in Sydney before heading to Queensland for the Winter Carnival.   “His main aim would be the 4 & 5 year old Championship and there is a race at Redcliffe called the Patrons Purse which is for four and five year olds as well.   “If he was going well enough then I would consider putting him in the Blacks A Fake but that will all depend on how he is going at the time.”   Ultimate Art has trialled on a couple of occasions without breaking the clock.   “He went 1:57 both times but there wasn’t a lot of depth to the trials so they were good for him without knocking him around too much.”   Formosa’s wife Kirsty has now recovered from a broken ankle caused by Ultimate Art on the day before the Inter Dominion.   “I was out at the sales and Kirsty was with Thomas at the Retention Barn at Menangle, something spooked him and being such a clumsy bugger he knocked her over and broke her ankle.   “Kirsty is still in love with him but I must admit it has been great since Kirsty had the plaster removed a couple of weeks ago because it has meant a lot less work for me around the house.”   While Formosa will be targeting the Queensland features with Ultimate Art he will also be chasing some big races closer to home.   “Milias Ideal is a two year old that won a heat of the Gold Tiara at Bathurst and she is being set for the Breeders Challenge series.   “My dad and some other long term clients bought her at the Ready To Run sale at Menangle last year for $14,000 and I think she has a bit of ability so I’m hoping she measures up to the good ones.”   - HRNSW Media

It has been a great year in the harness racing sport for Michael Formosa. He won a heat of the Inter Dominion with Ultimate Art and in the process qualified for the $750,000 Gr. 1 final. Formosa added to that thrill by winning the Bathurst Gold Crown, driving the Sam Dimarco trained Shadow Runner to victory. On Monday Formosa will head to Muswellbrook in an attempt to win the Hunter Valley Harness Racing Association Cup at the club’s Carnival Of Cups meeting. “I have Best Of Times going around in that race, he is a 10 year old now but if he found 90% of his best he would win that race I think,” Formosa said. “He has had a couple of issues and hasn’t raced for nearly a month but he has been working well at home so we will see how he goes on Monday. "Strathlachlan Andy has been racing really well and is the obvious horse to beat.” Formosa will start Mondo Courage in one of the Menangle Country heats. “Mondo Courage is starting to race well again and I give her a good chance especially from the good draw.” “She has been working really well at home too, Ricky Hunt drove her for me last start and she finished second behind Scotch Creek, I know she has only won one race but I don’t think her next win is too far away.” The third of Formosa’s runners to compete on Monday is Ultimate Ace but he has to overcome a poor draw after coming up with barrier six. “His last two runs were at Bathurst and they weren’t as bad as they read on paper so if he can overcome the gate then I think he will be in the finish.” “The Muswellbrook track is really well shaped and for its size is a very good one, I’m looking forward to Monday’s meeting.” The Easter long weekend is going to be a busy one for the Formosa’s with the family planning a trip to Gunning for the NSW Mini Trotting Championships. “Chloe and Emily are looking forward to competing on Saturday and Sunday, we are taking two ponies down to Gunning for them to compete on.” “I’ve got a few horses in at Maitland on Saturday but Ricky Hunt will be looking after them while I am away.” Formosa’s stable star Ultimate Art is back in work but may miss this month’s Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “Yeah he is probably a bit behind where he should be if he was going to compete in the Len Smith so I think he will miss that, have a few runs at Menangle and then head to Queensland for the Winter Carnival.” Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Thursday 19th February 2015 - With the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion only a week away Trots TV has released two Inside My Stable interviews in the lead up.  Michael Formosa enjoyed one of the best nights of his harness racing career when Ultimate Art won the supplementary heat of the Inter Dominion at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.  Trots TV made the trip to his Hunter Valley property recently to meet Michael and his stable star. One of John Tapp’s proudest moments in harness racing was when Chariot King qualified for the 2013 Inter Dominion Grand Final.  Chariot King was attempting to force his way into the race again on the weekend and while he just missed out, Trots TV has paid a visit to John Tapp. He introduced Chariot King and also explained how he got involved in this great sport.  The John Tapp Inside My Stable was broken into two parts with the first instalment discussing Chariot King while the second concentrated on John’s love of the sport. Part 1 - John Tapp Part 2 - John Tapp Dr Nick Kannegieter is back this week with another edition of the popular segment ‘The Doctor’s In’.  This week Dr Nick talks about stable management.  Should horses be rugged?  What should horses be fed?  Dr Nick answers some other important questions. Dr Nick Kannegieter This Saturday night there will be twelve races at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  There is a strong representation from New Zealand and Trots TV caught up with media identity Michael Guerin to discuss all of the kiwi chances. Michael Guerin discusses the kiwi chances   Victorian trainer Michael Stanley will bring two horses to compete at Menangle on Saturday night and he joined Trots TV to discuss their chances. Michael Stanley brings two horses to compete On the Mini Trots Show there is a big announcement with HRNSW CEO John Dumesny confirming the NSW representative for the upcoming series in New Zealand.  Daryll Jackson updates Trots TV on everything else that is happening too. Trots TV also spoke with Chris Alford about the upcoming World Driving Championships.  For all this and more check out Trots Tv Greg Hayes

Defending harness racing champion Beautide proved he is ready for his Inter Dominion title defence with a stylish victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. The James Rattray -trained pacer bounced back from a disappointing Victorian campaign by capturing a heat of the time-honoured Championship. With Rattray in the sulky, Beautide was simply a class above his rivals as he cruised to an easy win from For A Reason and Monifieth. Naturally thrilled with the gelding’s performance, Rattray is confident Beautide will be in perfect condition for the $750,000 Final on March 1. “He’s had a mixed preparation, but the last month I have been a lot happier with him,” Rattray said. Covering the last half in 56.1 seconds, the son of Bettors Delight rated 1:54.4 for the 2400 metres. In the second Sydney-based qualifier, Ultimate Art caused a major upset by scoring at $22.70 on the tote. After enjoying the run of the race behind the leader, Easy On The Eye, Ultimate Art grabbed the lead in the shadows of the post score by a head from the pacemaker, with New Zealand raider, Terror To Love a head away third. Trained and driven by Michael Formosa, the son of Modern Art rated 1:57 to register his first win from six starts this season. “We were travelling so well I almost came out in front of Terror To Love when he made his move, but I didn’t want to get too cocky and wanted to make sure we qualified,” Formosa said Ultimate Art is no stranger to Group One glory at the 1400-metre circuit, having annexed the Four-Year-Old Breeders’ Challenge Final last term. PAUL COURTS

ELLALONG harness racing trainer-driver Michael Formosa dreamed of winning the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires and Geldings Final with Ultimate Art at Tabcorp Park Menangle today but not the way he did. After hitting the lead with his stable star around the home turn, Formosa threw everything he had to get the son of Modern Art over the line . . . all bar “the kitchen sink”. “I envisaged this race grabbing the lead on the line but I hit the lead a lot earlier than I thought I would,” said Formosa. “I may have looked like a blender down the home straight but I gave it my all.” After two previous attempts of trying to win this race in his junior years, Ultimate Art claimed the Group One in fine style, equalling the class record for distance rating 1:56.3. With the early leaders, So Kool Harry, Armbro Chimes and Blissfull Guy, all contributing to the scintillating lead time of 54.8s, it was up to the backmarkers to take home the race. The final two quarters of 29.3 and 29.9s, saw Ultimate Art hold out So Kool Harry by a-metre-and-a-half and Nowitzki, who was close behind in third. Having tasted success in the Bathurst Gold Crown and Gold Chalice, as well as a Regional Breeders Challenge Final, Ultimate Art extended his earnings to $270,815 from 18 wins and nine placings in 37 starts for owner Kirsty Formosa, Michael’s better half. “Michael is a great trainer and this horse is a hard horse to train,” said Kirsty. Ultimate Art By Amanda Rando (Harness Racing Australia)  

Since the talented Hunter Valley trained pacer Ultimate Art resumed as a four year old his trainer Michael Formosa has had one target in mind, the Breeders Challenge. After competing in the finals as a two and three year old but finishing unplaced Formosa is hoping for a change of luck this time around. "He still has to qualify by running in the first five on Saturday night in the semi final but everything I have done with him this season has been with the Breeders Challenge as his main goal," Formosa said. "Ultimate Art finished fourth as a two year old behind No Ah Saint and then put in a very disappointing run as a three year old and ran seventh behind Home Of The Brave but it had been a very tough time for the family in the lead up last year because my wife's father passed away." Formosa has steered away from mile racing recently and has concentrated on stretching his Gr. 1 winner over a longer trip. "He was probably a bit one dimensional as a younger horse, he had to lead or sit outside them to produce his best but he has developed as he has aged and I've been teaching him to sit and sprint and he has really taken to it." "I've spaced his runs which should ensure that he is right to go and while I did consider giving him a run last weekend I was mindful that it would mean he would have to race three consecutive weeks which might have been a big ask." Ultimate Art last raced on May 24th but has had the benefit of recent trialling. "He has trialled twice this month, the first of them was super because he ended up recording a 1:54.5 mile at Newcastle and then last week he led and I was happy with what he did." "I will see how he goes in the Breeders Challenge and if he is still feeling ok I might think about taking him to Queensland for the 4 Year Old Championships, but there is a bit of water to go under the bridge between now and then." By Greg Hayes (Harness Racing NSW)  

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