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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunity knocks for a couple of classy pacers to further prove their wares in the hands of reinswoman Kima Frenning, who will chase a cup and a championship amid a couple of quality days of trots racing. Frenning will be hopeful Shelby Bromac can build on his competitive 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup fourth placing in tomorrow's United Petroleum Yarra Valley Pacing Cup, before she takes the reins of speed machine Hurricane Harley in the star-studded COGS 4YO & 5YO Championship at Melton on Saturday. Frenning joined Trots Talk radio show ahead of tomorrow's cup at 4.30pm, when Shelby Bromac will advance from gate three for trainer David Aiken. "It's a real quality field," Frenning told Trots Talk. "(Shelby Bromac's) going really good. The Swan Hill Cup was probably his first test against these types of horses and he really proved he could be in it. "He's been working really, really well since. With a bit of speed on and a bit of luck, he's competitive. It will be hard for him to win, but he's not far off the really good one's. He's pretty versatile." Shelby Bromac is rated a $12 chance with TAB.com.au for tomorrow's cup, with the market dominated by Maryborough Pacing Cup winner Code Black. The latter opened at $2.80 and has been backed into $2.50 favourite ahead of his easing Emma Stewart stablemate Maraetai ($4). Another Stewart horse will garner plenty of Frenning's attention in the upcoming days with the reinswoman to steer Hurricane Harley in Saturday night's $75,000 Group 2 feature. The COGS 4YO & 5YO Championship will be Frenning's second steer on Hurricane Harley, having won last start when they first teamed. "It's an amazing feeling when he really lets down, he's so quick and probably matured a little bit as well," she said. More will be learned as Hurricane Harley faces arguably the most stern test of his prodigious career, with the four-year-old to take on Grand Circuit winner Colt Thirty One and five-year-old Stewart stablemates Tam Major and Ride High amid a quality field. Frenning was optimistic Hurricane Harley would give them a run for their money. "He's pretty versatile, he sat in the breeze when I drove him last time and left them really easy," she said. "He's a good sit-sprinter as well, he shouldn't be too far away." CLICK BELOW TO TUNE INTO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The going will get a little tough and that will see only the tough get going at Yarra Valley tomorrow, according to trainer Brent Lilley who will be among the thousands enjoying grass track racing’s Victorian return tomorrow. The former Kiwi’s well accustomed to grass track trots from his New Zealand roots and has a trotter running in each of tomorrow’s two standing starts on the turf. “It’s great,” Lilley said. “I wish there was more of it.” The going will likely be lush after 30 millimetres of rain fell in the area since Saturday, with Lilley predicting the 1950-metre trots will be a test of the fittest. “I think the distance between the first horse and the last will be big, a lot will get tired,” he said. “It will probably be an advantage to those who have raced on it before, it can be pretty taxing. If there’s a bit of rain about you wouldn’t want to have pads under their shoes because it can become slippery.” Both races will feature in extended coverage of the raceday on thetrots.com.au’s Trots Vision which will be live from the first at 10.44am, with host Paul Campbell roving on-course to deliver the pre- and post-race interviews on a huge Melbourne Cup Day celebration at the Yarra Valley. Lilley said “it’s a great day” and was hopeful his grass track entrants would deliver bold showings, including Trotting Rockstar, who steps out as the backmarker (off 20 metres) in the United Petroleum Trotters Handicap at 12.36pm. “Trotting Rockstar started off on the wrong foot last week,” Lilley said of the five-year-old, who began badly when resuming from a spell at Bendigo last Tuesday. “He made up a bit of ground without being thrashed about and I think he’s my best chance.” It will be Trotting Rockstar’s first go on the grass, while stablemate Belles Son will have his fourth career start on the turf when he steps out for the De Bortoli Trotters Handicap at 2.35pm. The nine-year-old Majestic Son gelding was third at Motukarara Raceway in November 2016 before running sixth and eighth in Group 3 races on the Christchurch grass track. “He had no issues with the grass back home,” Lilley said. “But he’s not going as good as he was in his heyday, his best days are probably behind him.” Amid a busy national racing schedule, the day’s first three races (10.44am, 11.19am and 11.59am) will feature on Sky Racing 1, while the remaining six races will be on Sky Racing 2. All nine races will stream on Trots Vision amid live, free and extended coverage.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Two grass track races with deep fields headline a nine-race card that's set to thrill Yarra Valley racegoers, more than 5000 of whom are expected to file into Tuesday's showcase Melbourne Cup trots race day. For the first time in 16 years grass track racing returns to Victoria's calendar and participants have responded with enthusiasm, with a full field nominating for the United Petroleum Trotters Handicap at 12.19pm and a further 11 for the De Bortoli Trotters Handicap at 2.12pm. It's a move welcomed by Trots Clubs Victoria manager Toby McKinnon, who joined regional radio program Trots Talk last night. "The club's gone with some grass track racing which is great to see ... it will really bring the racing right out to the people," Mr McKinnon said. "They will almost be able to lean over the fence and touch the horses as they go past." The first race kicks off at 10.35am and the last at 4.10pm amid a busy national racing schedule, which centres around the Melbourne Cup at 3pm. Owing to that schedule, races one (10.35am), two (11.05am) and three (11.39am) will be on Sky 1, races four to eight will be on Sky 2 and race nine - the Ritchies IGA 3YO Pace - will only be broadcast live on Trots Vision at www.thetrots.com.au. The exclusive final race coverage will form part of fantastic coverage on Trots Vision, with Paul Campbell engaged as track side host to deliver post-race and participant interviews throughout the day. FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ENJOY TROTS VISION'S LIVE AND FREE RACING The nine-race card is a fantastic turnout by participants, with the 84 starters double those who fronted last year (42). It follows on from a seven-race card the previous night at Terang and shares the Melbourne Cup day with Cobram and Swan Hill. "There are things happening everywhere at the moment," Mr McKinnon told Trots Talk. "On Melbourne Cup Eve Terang has their Ladies' Night down there, one of their feature nights of the year. "Then we roll into Melbourne Cup Day where Cobram have a beautiful day where the non-TAB meeting is very relaxed, with nice green grass and picnics on the lawn, Swan Hill on Melbourne Cup night and Melbourne Cup Day at Yarra Valley is probably our biggest attended event of the year with 5000 people out there. "It's just a wonderful day with all the things you would expect at a Flemington event. The Fashions on the Field and the racing and the big screens, there are just no queues - that's the beauty about it." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE LATEST TROTS TALK EDITION     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

While many eyes on Friday night will be on the horses ranked second (Colt Thirty One) and eighth (San Carlo) in the ID19 rankings, it’s a third horse whose run in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup could prove his Grand Circuit worth. The rise and rise of Tam Major has been a high point of 2019, having won nine times and placed a further five in 15 starts, with his eighth in the Victoria Cup the first time he’s failed to place since January. “The last six months he’s really come of age and been racing great,” reinsman Chris Alford told Trots Talk ahead of Friday night’s cup, when he will again team with trainer Emma Stewart to shoot for silverware. “His run in the Victoria Cup was a pass mark, his first run against the best ones – sitting midfield it was just so hard to make any ground.” Tomorrow night will again expose him to the best, with New Zealand-bound pair San Carlo and Grand Circuit winner Colt Thirty One drawn directly outside Tam Major. Alford said he’d look to press forward in the 2790-metre cup. “The field’s not long been out and I’ve only had a quick look, but I think I’d like to try and keep the advantage and stay in front of the other two big guns if possible." The champion reinsman has a quality line-up of drives throughout the night, including Stallions Australasia Swan Hill Trotters Cup contestant Mass Destruction, who he told Trots Talk was “a really quality trotter when he’s right”. “He may have just had a couple of niggling little issues, which has caused him to break in his last couple, but with just the two horses off the front hopefully he can just ping to the front and lead them a merry dance.” And he’ll then polish the night off with The Storm Inside in the Kiel Tiling Swan Hill Mile, in which he expects they will be “blazing”. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

A withering run and nail-biting wait for the approving photo elevated Code Black to the head of affairs in the Trots Country Cups Championship. Having produced eye-catching runs all season Code Black got his just reward with Sunday’s Avoca Maryborough Community Bank Branches Maryborough Gold Cup win, beating Tell Me Tales by a short half-head to gain maximum points in the 25-cup championship. The head of an Emma Stewart trifecta, with Maraetai running into third, Code Black’s victory wasn’t without a nervous wait for reinsman Greg Sugars. “To be honest I wasn’t sure, she’s a beast of a mare Tell Me Tales and she towers over this one,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “When it was that close I thought, ‘oh, she might have a longer nose than Cody’, but thankfully our number’s in the frame.” Sugars had good reason for scepticism. Not only was Tell Me Tales monstering the line but the Gold Cup hadn’t been kind to him. “Maryborough Cup’s actually been a terrible race for me over the years,” he said. “I’ve had a few good drives back when it was stand starts and missed away or got knocked over, and even recent times chosen the wrong horse – got off one and it’s got up and won. It’s just been a race I haven’t been able to have any luck in, so very pleased to get this one on the board.” It was all in place for Code Black with Cant Refuse pouring on the pace for much of the 2690-metre trip and then Shelby Bromac providing him cover on the three-wide line to aid the final burst. Watch the race here! The resultant victory propelled him to six points on the Trots Country Cups Championship, with the four points for a win coupling with his second placing (two points) in the September 26 Kilmore Cup behind San Carlo. “He’s been a model of consistency this whole preparation,” Sugars said. “After his Kilmore Cup run, when he was flashing up the inside, I said to Emma and Clayton then, ‘this horse is absolutely flying and he only needs an ounce of luck in a nice race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win’. “He thoroughly deserves this win today. Very appreciative to be a part of it, also got to thank connections – (owner) Danny Zavitsanos has been a good supporter of mine in recent months. We are building up a good partnership at the moment.” Only an hour earlier Andy and Kate Gath also enjoyed a breakthrough when Everybody Knows produced his first victory on Australian soil in capturing the Maryborough Schoolhouse Village Maryborough Trotters Cup. Reinswoman Kate Gath was able to dominate proceedings after favourite Jilliby Babavska galloped away from the strands, with Everybody Knows ambling to the front and then coupling a modest lead time (89.4 seconds) with a gentle second quarter (32.4 seconds) to keep Maori Law on her right hip and salute by 3.8 metres. “He was knocking on the door to win one of these, he just needed a little bit of luck and finding the front today he got that and got it pretty easy early,” Gath told Trots Vision. “He got a little bit of pressure during the middle but was good enough to hold and he did a good job. “Obviously the last mile was solid, but you expect that off the slow lead time. At least he was still good enough to get a little bit of that pressure and do what he did, he’s also good off the speed so he’s a nice little horse to have for these country cups.” The Trots Country Cups Championship continues with Friday night’s Swan Hill pacing and trotters cups and the Swan Hill Mile, with heavyweights San Carlo, Colt Thirty One and Tam Major among those expected to battle for the major crown.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

There aren't many country crowns missing from Greg Sugars' cabinet but a Maryborough Gold Cup is among the few and the talented reinsman is well placed to rectify that this Sunday. The Bendigo, Boort, Cobram, Echuca, Geelong, Hamilton, Kilmore, Mildura, Shepparton, St Arnaud, Stawell, Terang, Wangaratta, Warragul and Wedderburn country cups winner will steer Code Black in Sunday's $35,000 title, which signals the resumption of the Trots Country Cups Championship. Code Black has been backed into $3 favourite for the Maryborough title with TAB.com.au, having opened at $3.30, recognition of his impressive campaign since joining Emma Stewart's camp. "He's only a little fella but there's probably not many horses racing better than what he is at the moment," Sugars told the Trots Talk radio show, which promotes the championship throughout the 2019-20 season. Code Black was slashing late to finish second behind San Carlo in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup on September 26 and then followed up with an eye-catching fourth in the TAB Smoken Up Sprint and ninth in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup. "He obviously goes around in top company every time he steps out on a race track, all his runs this preparation for Emma Stewart, they've been hard to fault," Sugars said. Handed gate 10 for Sunday's cup, Code Black will likely have to win from back in the field but Sugars said options remained open and the son of Bettors Delight was capable of winning a few different ways. "He can do a bit of work if need be," Sugars said. "In a couple of his recent runs, in the real high echelon of racing, I've driven him more as an opportunist and let the others do the bullocking work and he's been very powerful late. He ... can probably adapt to most situations as they unfold." Sugars will also steer Maori Law in the trotters cup, who he told Trots Talk had been "a model of consistency" and "should be nearing peak fitness now". He will cross swords with $2.25 TAB.com.au favourite Jilliby Babavska, who Sugars said was "certainly an exciting horse to watch throughout this country series". CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The “perfect horse” Bling It On put in a clinical, explosive performance to win a record-smashing Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, capping a stunning comeback story. The 2017 A. G. Hunter Cup winner has barely been seen since that career-best performance owing to a bad fall and subsequent injury, but though fresh off a 10-month "retirement" and only second up he showed he had lost none of his brilliance in rounding up the Group 1 field. “He’s such a special horse,” said reinsman Luke McCarthy. “Everyone knows his story by now and for him to come back second up after having that long off and win a Victoria Cup is just a credit to the horse. “He’s so sound and wants to do it, he’s a beautiful horse, open bridle, no head check, no boots, no tongue tie – he’s just a professional. The trip worked out beautifully tonight and lucky enough he was good enough to finish it off.” The speed map’s proved true as Cash N Flow crossed Colt Thirty One to lead and placed Bling It On three back on the pegs, while San Carlo worked to the breeze ahead of Buster Brady and Tam Major. The brisk 42.7-second lead time preceded little respite through the 29 and 28.5-second first and second quarters, and when Buster Brady faded from the running line mid-race the door opened for Bling It On to explode into contention. Off the 27.6-second third quarter Bling It On ate into the leader’s gap to the final turn, easing three-wide outside San Carlo and by the 100-metre mark he was a length clear and had the race in hand. Colt Thirty One and Cruz Bromac filled out the placings and San Carlo bravely got over Cash N Flow in his final strides to fill out the first four, but it was Bling It On’s title for McCarthy and trainer Craig Cross. A 27.4-second final quarter sealed a 1:51.5 mile rate record, breaking Lennytheshark’s 2018 mark. “He’s just an utter professional, just a brilliant racehorse, we got a beautiful run tonight and it just worked out perfect,” McCarthy said. “It’s hard to explain, he’s just such a perfect horse, he’s that smart. He’s getting collected, serving mares as we speak – he got collected yesterday and then jumped on the float and come down for Vic Cup. “He feels as good as ever. Being an older stallion he should only race into better form through the preparation.” Bling It On will likely carry plenty of favour as he turns his attention to a New Zealand campaign that will likely include the New Zealand Trotting Cup and Inter Dominion to follow. Making the win all the more special, the participating drivers wore helmet covers in tribute to reinsman Gavin Lang, who is battling ill health.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

McLovin sent a hearty warning shot across the Tasman with a gritty, brilliant victory in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters' Sprint. With most of Australia’s trotting heads of state in the field McLovin sat three-wide for the bulk of the 1720-metre sprint and still proved too good, saluting by a head from Big Jack Hammer. “He’s a great horse, we were debating whether we trial him or race him in this race first up and decided to bring him here,” trainer Andy Gath said. “We were disappointed during the week when we had to scratch a good horse in Tornado Valley, but to have a back-up horse like this perform like that, we are fortunate to have a couple of great trotters in the stable.” While there was some predicted early burn as Big Jack Hammer challenged Red Hot Tooth and Tough Monarch also went forward on their outside, the pace eased when Kima Frenning dropped anchor on Big Jack Hammer to take Red Hot Tooth’s back and Chris Svanosio settled in the breeze. The 7.3-second lead time eased into 30-second and 30.5-second first and second quarters and reinswoman Kate Gath, who had eased back out of the gates on McLovin, had to get on her bike. “The first quarter come up and then the second quarter and I thought I have got to go now, if I don’t go now I’m just not going to get into the race,” she said, having launched three wide down the main straight with more than a lap to go. “I got going when I got going just to get up there and he’s one of those horses who just drops the bit a little bit on the corner but I just knew he would keep coming and he was bloody terrific.” At the turn McLovin still had two lengths to make up on the leader, Red Hot Tooth, while Big Jack Hammer threatened via the sprint lane, but amid a 56.7-second final 800 metres Andy Gath’s former Kiwi had all the answers and nosed clear in the final 50 metres. “He come back this time and felt a million dollars at home, it’s a terrific win and I’m not entirely surprised though,” Kate said. It was an encouraging return fresh off a three-month spell and ahead of an ambitious campaign, with Andy Gath outlining that McLovin would fly to New Zealand November 7, contest a free-for-all on November 12 and then the famed Dominion on November 15. “Hopefully he can do everyone proud,” Andy said. “It’s a great experience, a great day to be there and a great day to be a part of it.”   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

Colt Thirty One is rightly favourite, Cash N Flow the likely leader and Bling It On and Alto Orlando will be hitting the line as well as any. They are some of the assessments of gun reinsman Luke McCarthy, who will be perfectly placed to watch the action unfold in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup before striking late with Bling It On. “Colt Thirty One (gate one) deserves to be favourite from the draw, he’s going to get a dream run,” McCarthy said. “I wouldn’t imagine he’d hold the front because he’s going to know that I’m sitting on his back. If he does sit on Cash N Flow he’s probably the one to beat. “I’m happy with (drawing gate eight with Bling It On), he’s going to be right there following two good horses and not have done any work to be there. “If he can get any sort of luck late we know he is going to hit the line super. He will just need a bit of luck in that last 400 to 500 metres. If he gets clear you know how well he will hit the line.” McCarthy said “regardless of the draw” he was always going to drive Bling It On, who he labelled “a professional horse” who has “been here since he was a yearling”. That decision gifts the drive on TAB Smoken Up Sprint winner Cash N Flow to brother Todd McCarthy, who’s perfectly poised for a second successive Melton victory. “Cash N Flow’s work has gone to another level. We were really confident he would go good in the Smoken Up. He’s come through the run really good,” McCarthy said. “He’s jumping out of his skin this week, he seems even better than he was last week. With it being the 2200 metres rather than the 2700, it’s still a short trip and he’s got good speed. He will be in front, Todd’s got some good form and they will have to catch him. “I didn’t even pull the ear plugs on Saturday night in the Smoken Up, really only just shook him up a little bit in the straight. If I had have got going a bit earlier at the corner he would have broken the track record easily. He’s in career best form and he’s come up with a good draw.” And should the Victorians pour on the pace through the likes of Tam Major, Buster Brady and San Carlo, Bling It On and another Craig Cross-trained runner – Alto Orlando – will be lying in wait. “(The back row draw) will suit him,” McCarthy said. “He came from last in the Blacks A Fake when he ran second to Colt Thirty One, so he’s got great speed; if there is heaps of burning early and mid-race pressure he’s obviously the one run-on horse that will be flying home. “We’ve got a really good team at the moment, nice group of horses and hopefully we can have a bit of luck on the weekend.”   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

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