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Challenging conditions saw the toughest emerge and reinforce their dominance on TAB Breeders Crown night, when eight Group 1s were captured amid some unforgettable triumphs. Emma Stewart's two-year-old pair Maajida and Be Happy Mach only added to their lofty reputations, Kiwi trainer Phil Williamson produced a trotting double from his only two contestants, Yabby Dam Farms lost one on a protest but captured another and there was even an upset or two. Relive all the winning at Tabcorp Park Melton on Breeders Crown night with this rolling blog. TEE CEE BEE MACRAY WINS THE ALWAYS B MIKI BREEDERS CROWN GRADUATE CUP An extraordinary start to the night as Tee Cee Bee Macray, the horse who means so much to trainer Jess Tubbs and reinsman/husband Greg Sugars, salutes in the Graduate Cup. Having been trained to great heights by Tubbs's late father, Alan, Tee Cee Bee Macray's victory tonight was his first since Alan's passing, some 37 starts ago. "That's just amazing, that's one for Dad," Tubbs said. "Been a long time coming and what we've all been working for. He's had so many issues, we've all just worked through them and he's been really well lately. "It just worked out so well tonight, I'm just so proud for Dad. (Tee Cee Bee Macray) by all rights shouldn't really be here, he's ovecome a lot of health issues, a few surgeries along the way, it's been a long way back. Dad was so patient with him and spoiled him, he's a bit of a brat and a handful to deal with but we just love him." Sugars has enjoyed plenty of big wins, but few have meant more than this. "I would have given up just about every win this season to get this one over the line. There's been a lot of downs, a few ups along the way and a lot of criticism and a lot of weight on our shoulders from everyone but it just means the world to us."   LIBERTY STRIDE WINS THE FATHER PATRICK @ NEVELE R STUD 3YO TROTTING FILLES FINAL: A perfect Anthony Butt drive and a very good horse in Liberty Stride, trained by Phil Williamson, kicked off the night's TAB Breeders Crown Group 1s with a dominant victory. There was plenty of heat on early in the three-year-old trotting fillies final but every move played more in the hands of Liberty Stride, the well-back favourite, and when the moment came Butt streaked clear to win for owners Emilio and Maria Rosati. "We had high expectations but you never know with these young trotters. Got a really good run and it worked out beautifully," Butt told Sky Racing Active. "I wanted to be a little bit aggressive but take my time as well and nurse her, got into a good spot down the back, I was lucky to drop in and then Johnny pulled in front of me getting to the back and got a beautiful dragged into it and she jogged it. Won really easily." Butt gave much credit to Williamson and his owners, with the Rosati's producing not only the winner but also second placed Emerald Stride. "Emilio and Mary have been really good lately supporting me and given me some really good drives so, long may it continue. Also Phil Williamson, great mate from New Zealand. We've been mates a long time and he's got some great boys who drive at home so very lucky to get a call up."   ULTIMATE STRIDE WINS THE ALDEBARAN PARK 2YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS FINAL: Ultimate Stride was spectacular in winning by almost 40 metres in the two-year-old trotting boys' final to leave no doubt who was the best horse in the class. It was a second consecutive Group 1 win for trainer Phil Williamson, reinsman Anthony Butt and owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, with Ultimate Stride unbeaten in his Victorian campaign and capping it with a Crown. "He is a nice horse, very nice horse," Williamson told Sky Racing Active. "He showed that he was a wee bit dominant on them, without stating the obvious he is a wee bit smart isn't he? "His mother (One Over Kenny), she won a million, (his sire) Love You was pretty good too, so it's a bit of a combination made in heaven you might say. When you hit the jackpot you've got yourself a good horse." Williamson said they knew Ultimate Stride was a very good horse from "the very first day". "Day one I said we have got a very special horse here," he said. "He just oozed class right from when we bought him at the sale. He's just a quality horse." It's great reward for the Rosatis, who Williamson said had "put a lot into the game". "He's had probably his fair share of disappointments so it's great to give him some upside. It's what we do it for."   NO WIN NO FEED WINS THE WOODLANDS STUD 3YO FILLIES FINAL Opportunity knocked and Todd McCarthy burst through to produce a boilover with $43-shot No Win No Feed saluting in the three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown final. All the drama again surrounded Our Princess Tiffany, the brilliant All Stars three-year-old who looked lacklustre in her heat, improved in her semi-final but ultimately outpointed in tonight's Group 1 after a testing run punching a stiff breeze. Instead it was No Win No Feed, trainer Craig Cross and reinsman McCarthy who pinched the headline, with McCarthy steering his filly to the front from gate six, getting cover from Miss Streisand and then stealing a march on the field when the latter hung wide and enabled him to gain the front again at the final bend. That set up a 3.5-metre win ahead of Jeremy Young's Best Western, with Our Princess Tiffany a close third. "She's been a terrific filly," McCarthy said. "She's been super consistent all season, she's really come a long way, she's done a great job. "I probably would have liked to have held the front but Chris (Geary) come at me pretty hard and I was happy to take the sit at that time. I know that filly (Miss Streisand). I've driven her before and she can get up the track. I never thought it would be at that point in the race, but it worked out good for us."   TAM MAJOR WINS THE HYGAIN BREEDERS CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP FOR 4YO ENTIRES & GELDINGS Tam Major's advancement this season was capped with a powerful victory in the four-year-old Breeders Crown Championship, a title to add to his Vicbred Super Series success for reinsman Chris Alford and trainer Emma Stewart. Alford couldn't have been more glowing in his praise when speaking to Sky Racing Active post-race. "There was good speed early and we were able to get around at the right time," Alford said. "He's just racing like a killing machine at the moment. "He got a good breather there for a little bit, about the 600 he wanted to get on with the job, so I said let's go racing." Seated in the breeze for much of the race, Tam Major wore down leader Rackemup Tigerpie and held off sprint lane stablemate second-placed Major Times to reinforce that he's a Grand Circuit contender of the future.   KRATOS WINS THE WHAT THE HILL 3YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS' FINAL It was a drama-fuelled finish to the TAB Breeders Crown final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, with a first-past-the-post All Cashed Up galloping in the closing stages and prompting a protest from second-placed Kratos. Only a nose separated Anton Golino's trotter from the Kiwi challenger, trained by John and Josh Dickie, with Majestuoso just a head back in third. HRV Chairman of Stewards explained their decision to Brittany Graham on Sky Racing Active. "They are always so difficult to do when they are so close to the line," Mr Day said. "The relevant rule requires that when a horse does break gait that either it doesn't gain ground or, importantly, doesn't maintain ground. When they gallop so close to the line it's very hard for them to lose ground, or alternatively not maintain their ground, and we were satisfied that when All Cashed Up broke in the final 50 metres, initially while in a gallop, it did maintain its position. "Mindful of the very small margin between the two of a nose, we were satisfied the protest ought to be upheld and we amended the placings."   MAX DELIGHT WINS THE IRT 3YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS' FINAL It was an impressive and clinical performance by Max Delight as the David Aiken trained horse was placed in front by Todd McCarthy out of the gates and controlled a class field to win another Group 1. The front row draw proved beneficial and while a strong clan of Emma Stewart runners and highly-rated Lochinvar Art had to shuffle and work to gain their best chance, Max Delight was always in control and with 26.8-second and 27.8-second third and fourth quarters had enough in reserve to hold off Out To Play. "He was super," McCarthy told Sky Racing Active. "We got out of the gate quick, once he held up easy enough I think everyone knew he was going to be there. I was able to a bit of a breather while everyone sorted themselves out and he was just so brave in that slick last half." McCarthy gave great credit to trainer Aiken, whose confidence was rock solid despite the semi-final fourth placing. "David's so good with these horses and he said after that run (in the semi-final) last week 'don't worry, he will be better next week'. Full credit to David, he had him spot on. "I've been very fortunate to be able to drive some great horses throughout the season and I can't thank the owners and trainers I've been involved with enough for that. I've had a pretty good season here at Melton, it's a pretty good place to me."   BE HAPPY MACH WINS THE DOWNBYTHESEASIDE 2YO COLTS & GELDINGS' FINAL Chris Alford drove Be Happy Mach like he was the best horse in the race and he only served to further prove that reputation in the run with a commanding Breeders Crown Group 1 victory. A significant exclamation was put on the talented Mach Three colt's season for trainer Emma Stewart, with Be Happy Mach coming from the back of the field to tackle Zuess Bromac for the lead. While trainer-driver Zach Butcher initially responded, Alford wouldn't be denied, muscling to the front and despite that early work blazing away on the final bend to set up a seven-metre win from an impressive second-placed Youaremy Sunshine. Alford had plenty of praise for the champion when talking to Sky Racing Active post-race. "He had a bit of a chequered passage early," Alford said. "Two galloped in front of him, he hit one wheel and it didn't even faze him, he just rolled around and had to put it to the leader to wrestle the front off him. "Once you buzz him up then he'll drop the bit and go 31 and a half and just walk along, let another one head him and when it's time to go he goes. "(At the final turn) it was just like he hit the turbo button and his arse just dropped and off he went." It's been a significant two-year-old season and the champion reinsman's confident much more is to come. "You look at the size of him now, he's only going to get bigger and stronger and that's a bit scary."   MAAJIDA WINS THE ALWAYS B MIKI 2YO FILLIES' FINAL The professionalism of Emma Stewart's runners was to the fore for a second successive TAB Breeders Crown final with, like Be Happy Mach before her, Maajida capping a dominant season with a royal performance. Greg Sugars easily held the front from his advantageous draw and while those behind him shuffled for a good sit, Maajida was clinical in careering away to a 12-metre win ahead of a valiant Iolanta for Mick Stanley. Sugars, speaking to Sky Racing Active post-race, gave plenty of credit to the Stewart stable. "Not only do they get the best out of them ability-wise but their manners are first class," Sugars said. "It's very rare for them to have an unruly horse in their stable, especially their youngsters, they do a terrific job. "She's relatively lightly raced this one but she's got a lot of runs on the board. It's just been a pleasure to be a part of it. "She was fortunate enough to have good draws right through this series, which have helped. She's got better and better as the races have gone on. Very happy with her, she felt very sharp tonight and did leave the gate a lot better, which made it a lot easier."   IM READY JET WINS THE ALDEBARAN PARK 2YO TROTTING FILLIES' FINAL A difficult night for Yabby Dam Farms gained a significant silver lining as Anton Golino and Glen Craven captured their Group 1 when Im Ready Jet put in a scintillating finish to win her TAB Breeders Crown final. Having lost a protest in the three-year-old boys class after All Cashed Up galloped in the closing stages, there was no question as to the winner in the fillies' final with Im Ready Jet careering away for a 20-metre win from Jaxnme and Illawong Stardust. "She was just jogging at the 400 and it was just a matter of trotting to the line," Craven told Sky Racing Active. "I was quite surprised on her last start how quick she can run a last quarter. I knew if the pace was on and she was thereabouts in the run she would be hard to hold out." Craven was particularly pleased for Golino and Yabby Dam Farms owner Pat Driscoll. "They put so much into the sport. Unfortunately that poor bloke (All Cashed Up)'s run three seconds in Group 1s now, but that's how it's going to be. This filly, she's something special."   GOODTIME HEAVEN WINS THE VINCENT @ ALABAR CHAMPIONSHIP FOR 4YO MARES The pressure came but you wouldn't have known it as reinsman Glen Craven and mare Goodtime Heaven sat cool as a cucumber in front and then when it came time to win the night's final title they put paid to all comers. The Courtney Slater-trained leader held the front and withstood pressure from $2.70 chance Art Series in the breeze, with the latter's reinswoman Amanda Turnbull attempting to hold at bay favourite Nostra Villa's three-wide advance. Craven and Goodtime Heaven answered the challenge with a 28.5-second first quarter and then had enough to get home in 57.7 seconds for the final 800 metres to take the Crown with a nine-metre win from Major Sea. "It's been a nice night after all, a second and two wins, I'll take that," Craven told Sky Racing Active. "She didn't get it all her own way tonight, she's such a good little racehorse, she's so quick off the arm and was able to settle and let the horse outside the leader sit in front of her the whole way. When I asked her to go she went good."   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

The stage has been set for a thrilling TAB Breeders Crown finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton on August 24, with the field narrowing tonight at Bendigo and some new contenders emerging. It was all action at Lord's Raceway with not only the two and three-year-old pacing heats, but the draws for the pacing and trotting finals to keep tongues wagging. Here's how all the action unfolded on one of the great night's on the Victorian trots calendar. Amelia Rose wins the Always B Miki 2YO fillies first semi-final The punters take the honours in race one as Amelia Rose, who opened at $13 and was backed into $3.80, swept to the front to win for trainer Emma Stewart and reinswoman Amanda Turnbull. The victory came despite plan A having been thrown out early in the race when Rockingwithsierra was able to initially hold out Amelia Rose before taking the prized leader's back position when frontrunner Jemstone emerged. But sit-sprinter Amelia Rose soon found cover in the running line behind Michael Stanley's Iolanta and then emerged at the top of the final straight to show her customary high speed, winning by a neck from second-placed Alice Kay with Stewart stablemates Treasure and Jemstone filling out the first four in a very even division. Joining that quartet in the final will be Rockingwithsierra (fifth) and Jo Dina (sixth).   Our Road To Mecca wins the Woodlands Stud 3YO fillies' first semi-final David Moran slid Ahmed Taiba's Our Road To Mecca to the front and controlled proceedings, copping little heat before a 27.2 final quarter secured the semi-final win. "She was a bit funny last week," Moran said in regards to Our Road To Mecca failing to score up at the gates in her heat. "He put the plugs in her for the first time and she just tended to go to sleep a bit too much going up to the gates. Freddy and the boys left them out tonight and she was a lot sharper and she run a pretty good race." Tonight Our Road To Mecca comfortably crossed to the front and got a breather with a 32-second first quarter. "She's got that good early gate speed," Moran said. "Generally the mile seemed to be her go, but she seems to toughened up a bit more now and she's adjusting to that racing going around against those better fillies through some of them classic races. It's probably done her the world of good. "She's shown she's right up to them, just reliant on that little bit of luck. Tonight with the draw she was able to get the lead early and dictate from there." She was unchallenged in the straight, with Buzinga (leader's back) finishing second, 2.3 metres in arrears, and Enchanted Stride just pipping Looking Fabulous for third. They advance to the final along with Myra Dawn (fifth) and Millah Joy (sixth).   Perfect Stride wins the Downbytheseaside 2YO colts and geldings' first semi-final There was perhaps a little heart flutter late when Star Hunter threatened, but Perfect Stride got the job done having cruised to the front and swept his way into the TAB Breeders Crown finals. A $190,000 sales topper for owners Emilio and Maria Rosati, the little full-brother to Chicago Bull confirmed his favourite status in the run when he strode to the front for reinsman Anthony Butt and then did just enough late to register victory by a head. "He's a pretty casual little guy," Butt told TrotsVision. "Lovely horse to drive, but the boys did say he can wait for them a bit in front. That's what he did, he felt good turning for home and then he thought it was all over. He's learning all the time and I'm sure next week will be a different story. "He's been well trained by Ray (Green) and well educated, he's just like an old horse to drive. He come off the gate fast and just relaxed and dropped the bit and goes as fast as you want him to go. For a two-year-old he's got beautiful manners. I'm sure next week with a decent draw he won't be out of it." Green told TrotsVision that even better was yet to come from the beautifully bred two-year-old. "He's much better coming off the pace. He's probably better than (those times), had he been coming from off the pace he would have finished a lot better. He's a loafer." Joining the winner and second-placed Star Hunter in advancing to the final were Do Not Surrender (third), Focus Stride (fourth), Saint Emillion (fifth) and Santa Casa Beach (sixth).   Maajida wins the Always B Miki 2YO fillies' second semi-final She was a $1.04 job and she looked every bit of it throughout as Maajida dominated her two-year-old fillies' heat for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars, who showed patience in working to the front and then cruised to a five-metre win. "It's one thing about her, she gives you a lot of confidence as a driver this little horse because she's certainly not one dimensional by any stretch of the imagination," Sugars told TrotsVision. "She's shown her last two runs that off steady sectionals she can dash up a pretty sharp quarter if need be, like she showed in the Vicbred final when she drew an outside back row gate, circled the field and was too strong. "She's got plenty of courage about her as well. Just lovely to drive. She's quite casual in front, but it doesn't take much to wake her up and ask her to go and she responds for you. Just a pleasure to drive and I'm the lucky one who gets to sit behind her at the moment." Having initially crossed to the front, Michelle Lee Mac ran into second place with Starsbythebeach filling out the placings. Top six runners Askmeilltellya, The Pantheist and Final Peace, who did plenty of work in the breeze, also advanced to the August 24 final at Tabcorp Park Melton.   Be Happy Mach wins the Downbytheseaside 2YO colts and geldings' second semi-final It was a good race and it was won by a very good horse as Be Happy Mach notched up victory number nine from 10 starts for reinsman Chris Alford and trainer Emma Stewart, despite having to again advance from the second row. There was plenty of work early as a number of horses shuffled forward in the running line to be near the front of affairs including Youaremy Sunshine, who was four-wide for some time before settling in the breeze. Be Happy Mach cruised on by to move straight to the front ahead of Mirragon and Zeuss Bromac who were one, two and three on the pegs and that was how they'd finish, with talented types Youaremy Sunshine, Sahara Sirocco and Pacifico Dream finishing fourth, fifth and sixth to keep their TAB Breeders Crown dreams alive. Be Happy Mach rolled home in 26.9 seconds to finish 1.6 metres clear of his stablemate and to reaffirm his almost iron clad favourtism for the final, with the draw to take place after tonight's seventh race. Stay tuned.   Demon Delight wins the IRT three-year-old colts and geldings' final "How good was it - he's so fast," said reinswoman Kate Gath of Demon Delight after the Emma Stewart trained three-year-old put in a pulsating performance in the showcase race of the night, which lived up to high expectations. There was plenty going on, with Brevity surprising in holding out Max Delight early, Hurricane Harley lobbing to one-out one-back and then Jesse Duke taking the breeze as the big guns settled on the running line. A 37.8-second lead time preceded 29.5 and 29.6-second quarters at which stage Gath guided Demon Delight three-wide from the back of the field, advancing until Hurricane Harley popped into her path and provided cover. But last week's brilliant heat winner didn't have it in him tonight and at the turn Demon Delight peeled four-wide while well fancied Hurricane Harley and All Stars entrant Jesse Duke faded out of contention. Despite doing his fair share of work Demon Delight mowed down all comers to win by 1.7 metres from stablemate Brevity amid a 55.1-second last 800m, with Catch A Moment and Crime Writer hitting the line well to run third and fourth. Max Delight (fifth) and Always Fast (sixth) also qualified for the final.   Malcolms Rhythm wins the IRT three-year-old pacing colts and geldings' second semi-final Malcolms Rhythm shows he's got a few strings to his bow, grabbing and holding the lead before going all-the-way for reinswoman Kima Frenning and trainer David Aiken. The NSW Derby placegetter has mixed it with the best for much of his young career and tonight he showed he could sit inside one of the three-year-old class's toughest competitors, Lochinvar Art, take a few punches and still have plenty left in the finish. Malcolms Rhythm got home in a brisk 26.8-second final quarter off a 28.6-second third quarter to win by 2.6 metres from Lochinvar Art, who placed for a staggering 27th time from as many starts, including a sixth successive second placing. Pitch Perfect ran third with Out To Play (fourth), Fides (fifth) and Revolt (sixth) also advancing to the final.   Our Princess Tiffany wins the Woodlands Stud three-year-old fillies' second semi-final The hiccups of Kilmore's heat failure are now firmly in the rear-view for Our Princess Tiffany, who edged closer to the brilliance for which she's renowned in winning her semi-final. Reinsman Luke McCarthy, who's guiding the All Stars filly until Mark Purdon lobs across the Tasman next week, said "she didn't handle the track, it was really wet" at Kilmore and was rapt to see her return to something like her best. "Mark put in the media that they had done blood tests and were happy with her, so we were able to drive her confident and she felt super tonight," McCarthy said. "I thought if I could get in front of Kate (Gath on Two Times Bettor) early that would be the best tactic and got a good run through and sort of was able to control the tempo and she ran super." She advanced three wide early and got home in quarters of 28.3 and 27 seconds to win by three metres ahead of No Win No Feed, with third-placed Best Western 5.4 metres back. Victoria Brew (fourth), Miss Streisand (fifth) and Miss McGonagal (sixth) also advanced to the final. "She's a champion filly and had an outstanding season and it was just good to see her bounce back to her best tonight."   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media  

Great depth in the three-year-old grade has the TAB Breeders Crown building to what’s certain to be a spectacular crescendo, but for now this is the story of the Hurricane. Tonight’s IRT three-year-old colts and geldings’ heats spotlight was stolen by Emma Stewart’s extraordinarily talented Hurricane Harley, who looked back to his brilliant best in not only holding at bay Lochinvar Art to produce an all-the-way win, but crushing the track record in the process. The class has few tougher than Laura Crossland and David Moran’s Lochinvar Art, but reinsman Chris Alford, fresh from notching his 400th win of the season two nights prior, made it a true staying test and his Lauriston Bloodstock owned and bred colt answered every call. Hurricane Harley reeled off quarters of 28.7, 28.5, 27.1 and 28.2 seconds for a 1:54.2 mile rate, some 1.1 seconds under Form Analyst’s age-track record and only half-a-second outside Rocknroll Icon’s all-age record for the 2200m at Ballarat. "I knew we were racing pretty strong all the way and he had a good kick at the top of the straight," Alford said of Hurricane Harley. "It's a good run on a cold night. "David forced the speed a bit ... I just wanted to try and keep Lochinvar Art back on my wheel so Harley didn't feel any pressure and, even though we were going hard he still travelled really well. "(Hurricane Harley) was first up since the sires stakes, he hadn't had a run in a little while, so I'm sure that run will do him good the world of good heading forward." The time was a stark contrast to the night’s third and final heat, which capped the first week of Breeders Crown pacing with a stunning seventh victory for the Stewart stable out of nine heats. Three of those have been in the hands of Kate Gath including Demon Delight, with Gath and her talented Bettors Delight colt racing without pressure for much of the event and containing their main rival – Max Delight – on their back. With no threat of a sprint lane at Ballarat, Gath followed a 45.8-second lead time with a 95-second first three quarters, which set up a cruisy dash up the straight for a 1.9-metre victory from New South Wales entrant Pitch Perfect. “He got a good draw tonight and we were able to use that,” Gath told TrotsVision post-race. “With a horse like Max Delight (on our back), he’s very fast, although my guy’s very fast as well. It was a really nice little dash up the straight and he ran good.” While Max Delight was ultimately caged in for David Aiken and Kima Frenning and had to settle for fourth, the seas parted for trainer-driver Matt Craven to top a tactically superb drive and victory for his entrant, Crime Writer, in the second heat. Craven worked forward from gate four, crossing favourite Jesse Duke and slotting in behind the polemarker and leader Always Fast, booking himself an armchair ride to the final straight. “We got a bit lucky there,” Craven told Trots Vision post-race. “The position was still available when we were able to get outside the leader and just tuck him back in for a lovely trail.” Perfect Major advanced to the breeze and Jesse Duke welcomed the cover, but a 27.8-second third quarter by Always Fast provided some separation in the field and enabled Crime Writer to slip out at the final turn, work past the leader and hold off fast-finishing Out To Play to record a memorable win at odds. “He was able to gain clear running at the top of the straight and he just ground it out nice, so it’s very pleasing for all involved,” Craven said. “He’s been a terrific horse from day dot, to have him being able to run consistently in these type of races, hopefully we can run another nice race next week and if we can end up in the final I’ll be more than happy.” The pacing semi-finals fire up at Bendigo on August 17, which will also feature the all-important barrier draws for the August 24 pacing and trotting finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Gath said the luck of the draw would have a huge bearing on who ultimately got to ride in the victory carriage on finals night. “I think for any of those horses, they are all so good, so it’s going to come down to whoever gets the best run can probably win the race,” she said. “(Demon Delight) sat in the death in the Vicbred and it was a terrific run, (but) I don’t think any of these horses will be able to sit in the death in the Breeders Crown and win against the horses they are going to be against. Really, draws are crucial to your winning chances.”   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

Chris Alford notched an extraordinary 400thwin for the season, and he may have done so on a TAB Breeders Crown winner to be. The Puppet matched his 2017-18 feat, previously unprecedented in Australasia, achieving the 400-win milestone by guiding Be Happy Mach to victory in his Downbytheseaside two-year-old colts and geldings' heat. “Very fortunate to reach a milestone and great to do it on such a good little horse like this,” Alford told Trots Vision in the moments after his big win. “I’m very fortunate that I get to drive a lot of (Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s) horses. This one, he’d nearly be the pick of the two-year-olds going forward and he’s had a great year and hopefully he can top it off in the Breeders Crown.” Alford said he “never would have dreamt” of piloting this many winners when he first slid into the sulky as a teenager, having increased his career tally to 6975 and perhaps being just weeks off another significant, unprecedented milestone. “One of the owners of this horse (Be Happy Mach), Tim Bunning, was part owner of the first horse I ever won a race on, Spring Vance at Wangaratta. He’s here tonight, so it’s just like winding back the clock a few years,” Alford said. “It’s been a great season again. I’ve had great support from Emma and Clayton, and so many other trainers, even down to guys who have got one horse. Without all their help I wouldn’t be out there doing this job.”   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

It has been a case of as you were for trainer Emma Stewart’s stable, which has swept the first two nights of the TAB Breeders Crown pacing heats including unearthing another top liner. There were few surprises when Maajida and Jemstone carried their Vicbred Super Series form into the Always B Miki two-year-old fillies' heats at Bendigo last night. And it was a similar tale when Breeders Challenge winner Be Happy Mach saluted in the first Downbytheseaside heat at Shepparton tonight, but the second Stewart colt to win delivered an eye-opener. Pacifico Dream (pictured) was dominant in Kate Gath’s hands, advancing to the front and cruising to the line an eight-metre winner in only his second career start, outpointing well regarded Kiwi Perfect Stride. “Super impressive,” Gath told Trots Vision post-race. “I was impressed by his trial at Melton a couple of weeks ago and when I got the opportunity to drive him tonight I was pretty happy.” The pair marched to the front from gate five and controlled proceedings, closing out in 27.7 and 27.9-second third and final quarters for an impressive showing by the Mach Three colt, whose only other start was a second in a $7000 pace at Cranbourne on March 26. “I didn’t know where we’d end up in the run or how much gate speed he had, he just come out under his own steam and got out pretty good,” Gath said. “Once he led I thought he’d be pretty hard to beat on what I’d seen at the trial. I eased up on the line, because there was nothing near me. It’s scarily good. You’d think he’s going to have a really good hope throughout the rest of the series.” On the back of that run Pacifico Dream shortened from $21 to $6.50 for the series with, with Be Happy Mach $1.50 into $1.40 favourite having lost no friends when recording his 6.3-metre win in the first heat ahead of Kiwi Zeuss Bromac. The victory brought up reinsman Chris Alford’s 400th win, an extraordinary achievement. “I’m very fortunate that I get to drive a lot of (Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s) horses," Alford told Trots Vision. “This one, he’d nearly be the pick of the two-year-olds going forward and he’s had a great year and hopefully he can top it off in the Breeders Crown.” For more on Alford’s achievement click here. Maajida is a clear front runner in the Always B Miki two-year-old fillies' Crown, shortening from $2.50 to $2 today with in the wake of last night’s win. It was a golden night not just for Stewart but also reinsman Greg Sugars, who piloted both of the stable’s Breeders Crown heat winners. “(Maajida’s) a lovely filly to drive,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “I wouldn’t swap her for any other horse in the series. She’s a very leggy filly. You think looking at her she’s only going to get better with age as she matures and develops. That’s exciting to see what she’s doing on the track at the moment.” Maajida led from her favourable draw and when challenged late by well regarded stablemate Treasure she lifted, getting home in 26.6 seconds. The 1:57.4 mile rate was shaded by two-tenths by the following heat, when leader Jemstone applied pressure for much of the running ahead of Michael Stanley’s Iolanta and held on for a 2.3-metre win. “I had the good fortune to draw better than (Iolanta),” Sugars said. “Got the first lap pretty comfortably. As soon as I heard Mick (Stanley) coming I decided to make him chase, that was probably the difference in winning and losing tonight. She’s pretty tough this one, probably not as quick as a few of the stablemates, but she’s very game, very tough.” The TAB Breeders Crown heats continue with the Woodlands Stud three-year-old fillies heats tomorrow night at Kilmore, when host Paul Campbell will be on track to capture the first words from the winning drivers for Trots Vision. The following night the heats move to Ballarat for the IRT three-year-old colts and geldings' heats. Dave Brehaut will take the microphone to give trots fans and punters the inside word throughout the night.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

There aren’t many trots mountains Anthony Butt hasn’t climbed but the champion Kiwi-turned-Aussie reinsman was beaming at Maryborough today after guiding Ultimate Stride to his first Volstead Redwood Classic. Taking the reins of the favourite for New Zealand trainer Phil Williamson, Butt put in a flawless display to sit in wait while leader Is That A Bid and breeze-horse Dublin Chubb were brisk early, then challenged three-wide a long way from home on Ultimate Stride to ensure a staying test in the 2190-metre standing start. Come the final straight he would prove too strong, winning by 3.4m ahead of valiant leader Is That A Bid, with Daddy Warbucks third and a significant gap to all others. “He got going too good really, they walked that second quarter of the last mile and I just basically got to the stage that I couldn’t hold him any longer,” Butt told interviewer Paul Campbell post-race. “I knew Kerryn’s (Dublin Chubb) was pulling and I wouldn’t be able to get past her too easy, but I just wanted to make it a bit of staying test as well and I had a lot of faith in (Ultimate Stride's) staying abilities. Drive a horse like that, you’ve got to keep him out of trouble as well and I just wanted to cover all bases.” Watch the video here! The win meant plenty to Butt, being his first Redwood Classic triumph, an honour he said had slipped through the grip of many who had crossed the Tasman to capture the crown. “It’s a very hard race for the Kiwis to win, I think Mark Purdon won it just a few years ago and he was the first Kiwi to do it. It’s a time-honoured race, one I’ve always wanted to win and it's great to do it.” It was also a terrific result for prolific owners Emilio and Maria Rosati and trainer Williamson, who also held high hopes for Liberty Stride in the Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters Derby only to see the race favourite gallop out of contention at the mobile start. Both are expected to now turn their focus to the TAB Breeders Crown, with pacing heats for the great aged racing series beginning on Tuesday.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media 

Majestuoso let down with a freakish burst to not only capture the much coveted Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters Derby but declare himself a star on the rise. A thrilled trainer Andy Gath spoke glowingly after his three-year-old swept home in blistering style to claim the richest race on the all-trotting card as plenty piled in to Maryborough to soak up Redwood Day. “It’s been a bit of a hoodoo race for me this race. It’s a great thrill to win it. I’m a little bit emotional actually, I don’t generally get emotional winning big races, but winning this race is a great thrill,” Gath told Trots Vision post-race. “I just love this little horse. He’s got freakish ability and this is the race we’ve been waiting for. We’ve looked after him all season, just kept him against his own age group. To win this race is quite special, he’ll race in the Breeders Crown and then go for a good spell. The future looks good for him and in 12 months’ time, 18 months’ time he might be challenging Tornado Valley for the best horse in Australia.” The lofty assessment was shared by reinswoman Kate Gath, who had a brilliant day in the sulky, winning four including a patient drive in the Derby when she and Majestuso overcame losing stride down the back straight to leave all in their wake in the run to the line. “Up the back straight he galloped for a stride because the one I was tracking up, Sidney (Van Den Brande on Xebec), he got pushed out and they come back in my face and I was like ‘oh no’, but he got down really quick,” Kate said. “Once that happened we got through the middle and got between them I was confident that he had a pretty quick finishing burst and that they would want to be pretty quick for him not to get them. He just picks them up in a stride. Just rapt.” The success is reward for the stable’s patience with the talented but troublesome two-year-old, who Kate said had overcome his early cheek. “He’s just got better with age. He came back as a three-year-old and just put it together,” she said. “He’s matured a little bit, learned how to race a little bit and relax a little bit, I’m just not surprised that he did that today. He is that good and I can’t wait for the future with him as well because, I don’t get excited about too many horses, I’ve been pretty spoilt and got to drive some pretty good ones, but this horse, he’s got everything. He’s just got the biggest motor. He doesn’t get tired and I’m just over the moon.” The win capped a golden day for Kate, who earlier steered Inter Dominion trotting champion Tornado Valley to victory in the Peter Egan Bi-Rite Electrical Trotters Free For All, Moonlight Dream to victory in the Majestic Son Matchmaker Mile and Magic Owens to a win in the Carisbrook Reserve Trot Final for trainer Norm McVitty.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media 

“And that’s another victory for the Emma Stewart stable..”. For some that line become something of a broken record during Alabar Vicbred Super Series pacing week and that was quite literally the case among Friday night’s four-year-old mares’ heats. Pistol Abbey lowered the age/class record at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway with her victory in the second heat, leading all-the-way and showing the sit-sprinter’s increasing versatility. “Her form of late’s been really really good,” reinsman David Moran told TrotsVision. “She sort of gives you the feeling and impression that she has toughened up a fair bit now, so I think she can do a bit of work in the run.” That was a big part of the lesson learned Friday night, when Pistol Abbey did a bit of work early to lead and then had highly-rated Major Occasion on her outside and stablemate Nostra Villa on her back. “With (Major Occasion) outside us, she’s just had a long trip to New Zealand and back, so if we were ever going to hold the top tonight was probably the perfect opportunity,” Moran said. “The last couple of starts she has given the impression, even though she has come from behind, that she has strengthened up a fair bit. “These sort of horses like her, they are lightly framed and a little bit smaller than a genuine top class mare so it just comes with time. She’s got that now and I think she’s become pretty versatile.” Pistol Abbey broke many a heart in the heat with a 27.3-second third quarter and then closed out in 27.6 seconds to win by 9.5m from Major Occasion, with Im Princess Gemma making great ground late to run into second. It made it two from two for Stewart in the mares’ heats after Frankincense won the opener, having led from gate four and produced a largely painless 8.1-metre win for reinsman Rodney Petroff. “She got it really easy, lead time was good, the first two quarters were good and when you run those last two sections it makes it hard for the ones trying to chase her down,” Petroff said. “She went through the mares series not long ago and each run she seemed to get better and the further the distance the better she got. If she draws well in the semis and happens to make the final she won’t be too far away.” Another improving all the time is Mick Stanley’s Soho Burning Love, the Auckland Reactor mare who was a terrific junior, finishing second in her three-year-old Vicbred Super Series final, and who has of late mixed it with the best of the mares. Stanley steered her from last to first early in Friday’s heat and got home in 28.4 and 27.9 for a comfortable 11-metre lead from Western Debt. He told TrotsVision whatever she does this season she should only improve on.  “She’s not a big mare, she probably hasn’t filled out in her body to her frame, she’s still a lean mare but that’s probably because she is highly strung. She is hard work around the stables and always gets herself fizzed up,” Stanley said. “I’m sure at some stage after the sires, when she gets a chance to let down over the spring, that she will really make a nice mare.”   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

The script has been thrown out and a new Vicbred Super Series chapter will be written in the four-year-old entires and geldings chase for the $130,000 title. The unfortunate scratching of Poster Boy due to pneumonia removed the two-time Vicbred champion from tonight’s heats, but those watching TrotsVision were buoyed to learn from owner-breeder Bill Anderson that the brilliant Lauriston Bloodstock colt was on the mend. It also meant that opportunity knocks for his rivals as was noted by Chris Alford, who has steered Poster Boy to many a memorable Group 1 victory. “It’s unfortunate that Poster Boy got sick and can’t try and win the two, three and four-year-old finals, but it brings a lot of other horses into it now,” Alford said. “Now he’s out Major Times and Tam Major, they’ve all got really good chances.” The aforementioned Emma Stewart trained pair joined Russell Jack’s Three Summas and Craig Demmler’s Be Major Threat as heat winners on Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old night at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway. It was Major Times who struck first for owner Leslie Morris, with the Art Major entire in a class of his own in heat one, finding the front from gate two and kicking clear in a 54.8 last half to win by 14.6 metres. “He’s a lovely big strong horse, he got a really easy lead and one (Yankee Roller) come to put a bit of pressure on with a lap to go and he just got on the job and ran to the line really well,” Alford told TrotsVision. “It was always going to be hard for the opposition when he did draw well and he’s just carried on his good form and hopefully he keeps it up going into the semis and the final.” It was a sixth straight victory for Major Times, who was bred by Peter, Bruce and Craig Cameron out of mare The Good Times. And it was a similar story in the following heat when an Emma Stewart trained, Chris Alford driven Art Major entire found the front and held off all challengers, with this time it being Tam Major getting the job done for owner-breeders Bruce and Vicki Edward. “He likes to have some horses to race him and he gets a little bit lazy out in front but tonight he was really sharp and seeing him dash up that 26.5 quarter was really good,” Alford said. “The lead time was really slow and then I just had to ask him to ramp it up from about the 1200 to 1000, if you go too slow you leave the sprint in some of the others, but tonight he sprinted really well.” Idealsomemagic also deserved plenty of praise having boxed on brilliantly and gained ground in the lightning last quarter, finishing only 2.2 metres off the winner with third placed Alpha Charlie a further 11 metres back. The absence of a dominant Stewart runner put a little more spice into the third heat and Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars favourite, Joe Nien, was forced to do more work than they would have liked early amid a willing battle for the front. The quickest lead time of the night’s Vicbred heats would take a toll on Joe Nien who faded to sixth in the final straight while Be Major Threat, who trainer-driver Craig Demmler advanced to the breeze at the bell, boxed on to win by 1.3 metres from Brackenreid. “He’s going really good,” Demmler said of the winner, an Art Major gelding owned by John Fitzgerald. “They did a bit of work early so I decided to pop around and dictate outside the leader. He tried really hard tonight. He did a good job. “You are rapt when you get a sires race or a heat, it’s worthwhile getting up in the morning. There’s no easy heat because we are racing the best of the best in Victoria, it’s great to watch and to see these good horses going around.” And, despite the absence of Poster Boy, that was certainly the case in the final heat where leader Higherthananeagle pulled hard and set a cracking pace inside Rackemup Tigerpie. With all quarters under 30 seconds there was no breather and Higherthananeagle paid a price in the closing stages while Rackemup Tigerpie boxed on well only to clipped by Kerryn Manning and Three Summas on the line. Trained by Russell Jack for owner-breeders Todd and Wendy Rivett, Manning said it all went to plan for Three Summas in the Somebeachsomewhere entire’s half-head win. “The plan was just to slot into the running line early and hope Rackemup Tigerpie would come around, so it actually worked out how we had hoped. “When he got in the one-one he actually struggled to catch up to the back of Rackemup Tigerpie, but then I saw the first quarter (29 seconds) and I knew why. Once he tacked back on at the bell he travelled really good. With a bit of cover tonight he showed that he can sprint really well. “He’s had a bit of time off between runs this time and I think that run will probably do him good. It’s a fast time but he didn’t have a terribly hard run doing it, so hopefully he’ll improve a little bit for the next one.” Preparations will now turn to the Alabar Vicbred Super Series semi-finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, June 29, with the first six in each of tonight’s heats keeping their title dreams alive.   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Quite often the headliners of the Vicbred Super Series the three-year-olds didn’t fail to live up to that top billing in tonight’s eight-heat hit-out at Kilmore. While Kualoa reminded all of her standing with a blistering run among the fillies, the night will be best remembered for the showdown between Emma Stewart’s trio Demon Delight, Hurricane Harley and Centenario, who served up an enthralling match-race that will leave trots fans eagerly anticipating return bouts as the series progresses. It was another remarkable night for Stewart’s stable, capturing five heats to add to Tuesday night’s clean sweep of seven two-year-old wins, but there was also delight in the Jess Tubbs, Matt Craven and Leroy and Danny O’Brien camps as their chargers also tasted success.   Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings first heat: He may not yet have earned the chops of some of his stablemates but Fourbigmen should be considered a potential Vicbred Super Series winner, says reinsman Chris Alford. Speaking to TrotsVision immediately after the Emma Stewart runner won the night’s first heat by proving himself the best horse in the race in a testing run, Alford said Fourbigmen could make plenty of noise over the next couple of weeks. “He’s probably, on ability, right up with them, he just hasn’t had the luck in the better races and he had a few little quirks, where he could make a mistake now and then,” Alford said. “But he’s putting it all together now and if he had a good run in the final and things went his way he’d be hard to beat.” Owned by a syndicate featuring the Stokie Racing Group, Sue Murray, Fred Crews, Willow and Peter Tonkin, Fourbigmen was bred by Wayne Schulz and Dale Eastman who serviced their mare, Aleppo Heiress, with late Alabar stallion Mach Three. Gifted the widest back row draw, Fourbigmen advanced to the breeze outside Nancys Boy and while Jeff and Tim McLean’s entrant put up plenty of fight the favourite ultimately nudged clear for a 2.3-metre win. “The leader ran a good race at Horsham last time, he’s given him something to chase,” Alford said. “(Fourbigmen) just knocked off a little bit when he went to the front, so I just pulled the plugs out to keep his mind on the job without having to smack him. He ran to the line really well.” Hes An Artist ran third and Titan Bromac fourth to also advance to the June 29 semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, with Major Delico fifth and his qualification to depend on time. And for the Emma Stewart stable, taking into account Tuesday night’s clean sweep, that’s eight on the trot in this year’s Vicbred Super Series. “They seem to have them spot on on these nights and this one was no different,” Alford said.   Vincent Vicbred Super Series three-year-old fillies’ first heat: She was challenged in every possible way but patience from reinswoman Kate Gath would see Two Times Bettor eventually grab control and salute in the first of the three-year-old fillies’ heats. Plenty of money had come for David Miles’ polemarker Enchanted Stride in the lead-up but she was tested from the outset with Chooz Reactor (Brian Gath) and Divine Diva (Gavin Lang) out quickly and not only stretching the gate one horse but making Gath bide her time in moving forward on Two Times Bettor from gate five. “The best way to get beat is if you burn too hard too early and get nowhere, so I grabbed hold pretty quick and I was just out there but cruising,” Gath told TrotsVision post-race. “I wasn’t pushing her, then once I moved to the death I thought I’ll have a look for the front and thought she’d probably get it and she did.” As the dust settled Gath rolled to the top with Miles happy to defer and give his filly a final crack in the straight, but Two Times Bettor would prove too strong, winning by 1.7 metres. “She’s really done a terrific job,” Gath said. “The lead time was quite quick and luckily in the middle I could give her a little breather, but she was really good on the line. “She’s such a nice filly to drive and she relaxes really good, she’s got all the attributes there and she’s just getting better at the right time. Her last start before tonight was terrific and she was very good tonight as well.” It would have been a pleasing result for owners and breeders Leslie, Ian and Gary Johnson, whose Bettor’s Delight filly was out of Twice As Hot, who was also the dam of dual Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter ($789,015). With the top eight advancing to the fillies’ semi-finals Two Times Bettor and second-placed Enchanted Stride will be joined by Bettor Robyn, Celerina, Millah Joy, Chezmac, Divine Diva and Edwina Express.   Vincent Vicbred Super Series three-year-old fillies’ second heat: This heat win had to mean plenty for co-owner, co-breeder and trainer Jess Tubbs with the filly that carries her farm’s name, Larajay Macray, saluting in fine style for husband and reinsman Greg Sugars. Tubbs shared breeding rights and ownership with long-time family friend Ian Kitchin, who Sugars lauded when speaking to TrotsVision post-race. “Kitch has just been a fantastic supporter of mainly the Tubbs family over many years,” Sugars said. “He’s done the hard yards, been through all the ups and downs, reached pretty high levels but quite a few lows along the way as well. Being a breeder, it probably is the toughest thing you can do in harness racing. “He’s been around a long time and deserves every winner he’s got. This one was bred in partnership with my wife Jess and was the first one they bred in partnership, and she’s turned out to be all right. We are very happy to have her in the stable.” That feeling will only be heightened after Larajay Macray impressed in her Vicbred Super Series heat, finding the front before handing it over to favourite Vena May and then showing plenty of fight in the final quarter. “She gets out of the gate pretty good this one and she has led and won a couple of races and she’s taken a sit and won as well,” Sugars. “She’s starting to strengthen up as she gets a little older too and I took the other one’s back, who was kicking the wheels when it came around and looked pretty keen, so I played the safe option to follow it and thankfully we were able to just grab it up the straight, but it did a very good job and didn’t lay down.” A Sportswriter filly out of Wya Wya Macray, the half-sister to Tee Cee Bee Macray advances to the June 29 semi-finals with Vena May (second), Mona Mia (third), Izzy Jolie, Mornings, Galactic Gal, Speed Dating and Tarzali.   Vincent Vicbred Super Series three-year-old fillies’ third heat: Chris Alford’s best laid plans to sit quiet on Kualoa were rewritten by the two-year-old champ who was keen to kick-start her Vincent Vicbred Super Series campaign. Starting from the widest gate, Alford put on the brakes and eased into the running line before putting Kualoa in the race – at her own demand – with over a lap to go. “There was good speed early and I was quite happy just to try and sit back and come with one run, but she just got touching the wheel a little bit and got a bit keen,” he said. “I didn’t want to fight her and just let her stride up and once she rolled to the front she was always in control.” Having emerged three-wide at the top of the straight for the second last time she had found the lead by the bell and was in a class of her own from there, stretching out with 29.4 and 29.6 third and fourth quarters to register a 20-metre win. It was a second Vicbred heat success this season for owner-breeders Bruce and Val Edward, with Kualoa’s (by Art Major) little half-sister Jemstone (by Bettor’s Delight) winning her Vicbred two-year-old heat only two nights prior at Bendigo. And it was also a continuation of the winning ways for trainer Emma Stewart. “As horses you couldn’t ask for better horses to drive, that’s for sure,” Alford said. “(Kualoa) has met some good three-year-olds this year, but she looks the benchmark and hopefully she can have a bit of luck when it comes to the final.” With the top eight advancing to the semi-finals, Kualoa will be joined by stablemate Looking Fabulous (second), Soundslikeart (third), Causing Strife, Fiscal Fantasy, Tryna Portray, Single Tree Road and Headline Act in moving on.   Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ second heat: Brevity looked like his race was shot to bits in the very early stages but the brave Bettor’s Delight three-year-old just kept giving for reinsman Chris Alford. Having run the quickest lead time of the boys’ heats by 1.5 seconds and followed with the quickest first quarter of the night (28.5 seconds), Brevity looked ripe for the picking for favourite Malcolms Rhythm with the latter’s reinswoman Kima Frenning watching it all unfold from one-out one-back behind Catch A Moment. “His hocks were coming back and hitting the footrest and he was hitting the wheel a bit with his foot and got pretty keen,” Alford said. “He did a really good job just to finish he had gone that hard.” The challengers loomed at the bend but the leader refused to wilt, winning by a neck from Malcolms Rhythm with stablemate Out To Play 1.5m back in third. “He was pretty aggressive that first lap so he did a great job to hang on,” Alford said. “He just puts his head down. He’s never really raced the best ones before but he’s going to measure up.” It was a delightful sight for owner-breeders Russell Maisner, Karen Dunwoodie, Apri and John Chase, with the latter on-course to watch the colt out of Abbreviated for the first time. Major Exclusive ran into fourth for Darby McGuigan and Ted Caruana to book his semi-final spot, with fifth-placed Catch A Moment’s advancement to be determined on time.   Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ third heat: It was billed as the night’s heavyweight bout and boy did it live up to expectations with Emma Stewart’s star-studded trio Hurricane Harley, Demon Delight and two-year-old Vicbred champion Centenario leaving it all on the Kilmore track. And, remarkably, it was the contender who arguably had it the toughest who emerged triumphant in Demon Delight, who reinswoman Kate Gath placed in the breeze for the last mile – sitting outside leader Centenario and directly in front of Hurricane Harley. “I thought he was tough, he’s always gave me that feel that he had super high speed, but he’s a little machine and I’m just really happy to get the chance to drive him,” Gath said. After first and second quarters that were a tick over 30 seconds, Alford broke open the field with a 26.9 third quarter aboard Centenario but couldn’t shake his stablemates. Demon Delight kept surging out wide and David Moran cut the corner on Hurricane Harley to challenge along the pegs, with the 27.4 last quarter seeing Demon Delight finish 1.6m clear of Hurricane Harley with Centenario 4.9m back in third. “He’s just a consummate racehorse where he relaxes, drops the bit and then goes when you ask him, gets the job done and gets past one and then goes again if another one comes,” Gath said. “I’m not surprised with what he did tonight because he always felt like he was a pretty strong horse.” The delight would have been shared by owners Pam and Russell Hockham who snapped up the Bettor’s Delight colt out of Ghadas Koala for $30,000 at the 2017 Australian Pacing Gold sale. Bred by David Pefferini, Salen Fatrouni and Freddy Taiba, Demon Delight has since banked almost $75,000 in stakes win and is likely the new series favourite. Joining the top three in advancing to the series’ semi-finals was Keith Cotchin’s Betternbetter, while Cee Cee In America ran into fifth and his advancement will be determined by time.   Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ fourth heat: The Vicbred Super Series has long been the home of a fairytale story or two and this year’s Disney movie applicant may well be Leroy and Danny O’Brien and their entrant Im Sir Blake. Having produced one of the finds of the season in 2017 when Im Princess Gemma won the $50,000 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic, the pair have plucked another pearler from the Shepparton Mixed Sale in Im Sir Blake. While the latter’s $4000 price was four times that paid for Im Princess Gemma, it’s certainly looking similarly bargain basement after the Rob Watson-bred Alta Christiano gelding blew away his rivals in an eventful front-running performance. Advancing to the breeze from gate four outside leader and co-favourite Perfect Major, Im Sir Blake was a handful for reinswoman Kerryn Manning for much of the running, overracing and continually pressing until finding the front the last time down the back straight. By that stage he’d broken up the field and kept coming, clearing out with a 27.8 third quarter and winning by 12.6m to Perfect Major and 29.9m to Explicit Castle despite closing in his slowest quarter (30.3 seconds) of the race. “The further he goes the keener he gets,” Manning said. “Since he choked down in Adelaide he’s probably drawn the back (row) most of the time and he’s settled pretty good off the back, it’s only when he gets out in the open that he tends to say ‘let’s go’. And when he gets on the chewy he really can get on it quite hard. “I didn’t ask him out of the gate, I really wanted to let him settle the best that I could. He sat up there until probably turning into the back straight for the first time, just started to get a bit keen and the further the race went the keener he got. He had the speed to get across down the back and he knocked off a little bit once he found the front.” There’s room for improvement, but it was a big win on a big stage and much to be satisfied about for co-trainer and co-owner Leroy O’Brien. “He just loves his racing, he’s a little racehorse and at home he’s a kids’ pony, walks around with the grandkids. He’s amazing, he really is.” Joining the first three in the semi-finals was fourth-placed Messerati, with fifth-placed Foolish Pleasure’s advancement time dependent.   Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ fifth heat: Crime Writer looked ripe for the picking at the final turn as Emma Stewart’s Always Fast loomed large in reinswoman Kima Frenning’s hands, but the Sportswriter gelding put his head down and punched on to record a satisfying victory for trainer-driver Matt Craven. “It wasn’t anything sensational but he was headed on the corner into the straight, he fought back and on the line he was going as good as he was at the top of the lane, so that was very pleasing,” Craven told TrotsVision post-race. A fourth victory in his 20 starts, which also brought up Craven’s 50th driving win of the season, came by a neck over Always Fast for owner-breeders Tony and Pamela Coniglia, who bred their mare Our Crime Of Passion to Sportswriter to produce the winner. “Hopefully he will continue to improve off the back of that run,” Craven said. “We left a little bit in the locker, so hopefully as things progress, and we’ve still got to progress through next week to the final which is never easy, but the first step’s there and we’ll see how we go.” A good performance in the June 29 semi-final and potentially July 6 final to follow could convince the stable to take the three-year-old north for the Queensland Derby. “You ask a lot of them as a three-year-old, especially if you think they go OK and you chase the big money. We’ve got in the back of our mind that, if he comes through this series well, we could head to Queensland. The good part about this fella is not much worries him wherever he’s been and even at home, he’s pretty much a cruiser and he settles in pretty well.” In addition to Always Fast, third-placed Rossini – who was beaten only 2.5m having boxed on well from leader’s back – and fourth-placed Firestorm Red will also advance to the semi-finals, while fifth-placed Belittled’s progression is time dependent.   Michael Howard  for Trots Media

Emma Stewart’s stable has given an extraordinary muscle flex on night one of the Alabar Farms Vicbred Super Series with a clean sweep of the night’s seven two-year-old heats at Bendigo. Having last year produced a national record equalling eight victories on Vicbred Super Series semi-finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton and seven victories on three-year-old heats night at Kilmore, the stable looks set for another golden three weeks of racing in the 2019 edition. “It speaks for the talent that they have at Emma and Clayton’s stable of getting their horses prepared for racing, not only to get them fit and ready to go, but to have them so tractable,” said reinsman Greg Sugars, who piloted Mirragon and Maajida to victory for the stable. “It makes our job a lot easier as drivers when you want to race at the top level, which these horses are competing at at the moment. Sometimes you can have the best horse, but if you don’t have the manners that can get you beat. They are certainly doing a wonderful job to get the horses to perform as they do and to behave as they do.” They were thoughts echoed by Chris Alford, who produced a race-to-race Stewart double with Jemstone and Beale Street. “It’s a lot to do with the way they train them at home I think,” Alford told TrotsVision. “They sit in and follow or go round and lead, swap and change so they are all pretty adept to doing anything really.” It was also a golden night for Alabar Farms’ sire Art Major, who produced four of the Vicbred Super Series winners and also earned the praise of Sugars. “He’s record speaks for himself. Very few sires out there have done a better job than he has. He just keeps producing headline acts year after year.” So how did all it happen? Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ heat one: Pandering continued his impressive season in the first of the night, building on his June 8 hit on Globe Derby when he won by 12.5 metres in Group 1 The Allwood. The Tiger Army showed some initial resistance from the inside draw but reinswoman Kima Frenning’s determination to find the front on Pandering won through and from there she was able to control proceedings, taking a breather with a 31-second second quarter before hustling home in 27.6. “It’s a big relief,” Frenning told TrotsVision host Paul Campbell post-race. “He’s such a cool dude, every single time I drive him he just keeps improving. Emma and the team are doing a great job with him and I’m very happy and grateful I get the drive.” Owned by Justin Baker, the Courage Under Fire two-year-old colt was bred by Shepparton’s Danny Gange out of Pandalay Bay, also the mare of US half-a-million-dollar winning colt Panmunjom. The Tiger Army held second by almost 18 metres from third-placed Sham Rock, with Our Art Christian, Mea Culpa, Yianni, Alte and Monsieur Delacour rounding out the top eight, who advance to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat one: Amelia Rose put on the afterburners to set a significant statement in the first of the fillies’ heats, getting home in 27.3 seconds to make it two from two for Emma Stewart. After leading early and then allowing WA visitor Askmeilltellya to slide to the front, Amelia Rose was in a class of her own in the final stages, winning by 3.9m from a dogged Vouchers on the back of a blistering initial burst for reinswoman Amanda Turnbull. “She was very quick and sprinted home good,” Turnbull told TrotsVision post-race. “They said not to panic if she does carry the sit, because she’s got blistering speed, so it didn’t matter where you come up and there was a good one to follow. “She went straight past (Askmeilltellya) in two strides and then didn’t know what to do. It was pretty exciting to go that quick and she wasn’t that switched on.” The Art Major filly was bred by Benstud Standardbreds out of mare Bennies Daughter, who herself is out of Benelise, the dam of the likes of Majordan ($333,028), Soho Valencia ($332,782), Niki No No ($294,455) and Wardan Express ($195,068). Amelia Rose advances to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton along with Vouchers (2nd), Askmeilltellya (3rd), Rockingwithsierra (4th), Power Of Faith (5th) and Oursouthernstar (6th). Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat two: The show rolled on for Stewart, Turnbull and sire Art Major in the next with that trio combining to guide Treasure to victory in the second of the fillies’ heats, having clawed over stoic second favourite Realnspectacular. Treasure had to do it from the breeze and the pair separated from the field with a 28.2 third quarter and 27.3 run to the finishing post, with the winner getting home by a neck. “She got checked a couple of times, but she’s got a motor,” Turnbull said of Treasure. “She just seems to do it so easy, she just sort of switches off and stays out in front of them.” The filly is owned by Buckland Park Homestead for South Australia’s Glenda and David Battye and was bred by Bruce and Val Edward out of US mare O Narutac Bella, making her a full-sister to Perfect Sense, who placed second in her Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies final in 2016. The front running pair will be joined in the semi-finals from heat two by Kezzamac, Easy Rolling, Cuzin Lyndal and Fixed Lines. The next question for Turnbull will be which one she’ll drive going forward, but she said that will be a decision for Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin, before adding both Amelia Rose and Treasure “give you a super feel”. Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ second heat: Few were more eye-catching in tonight’s heats than Mirragon, who advanced to the breeze at the mile mark and was left to do plenty of bullocking outside Yejele Hammer. A 27.8-second third quarter saw reinsman Greg Sugars draw level with the leader and at the turn he had put his rivals to the sword, getting home in 27.8 to win in the equal fastest mile rate (1:56.7) of the night’s heats. “Very impressive,” Sugars told TrotsVision post-race. “His run was full of merit last week after being wide early in a very fast mile, just found one (Youaremy Sunshine) that was too good for us on the night. “He’s backed that run up with a complete performance tonight. When I first drove him at the trials I had him up a few times and he showed incredible acceleration over a short distance and I envisaged him being a more of a sit-sprint type horse. As he’s developed he’s turning into a lovely well-rounded racehorse and can be put into the race and sustain a very long run. Very important thing to have.” Aishabeach (second), Star Hunter (third) and Yejele Hammer claimed good ground out of the winner late to advance through to the semi-final along with Night Spirit, Adapt, Focus Stride and Nevada Yankee. But all honours went to the winner, his big group of owners and breeders Ross, Aaron and Hugh Gange, who coupled their mare The Waratah with Art Major for her first foal and would be rapt with the results. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ third heat: Alice Kay threatened to break the Stewart stable’s hold on the night in the third heat but the Adam-Kelly trained, Zac Phillips driven filly fell just shy in her attempt to climb over leader Jemstone. Reinsman Chris Alford emerged from a 64.3-second first half to run 28.3 and 27.3 in the third and final quarters and register a half-neck win. “This little filly she was good,” Alford told TrotsVision post-race. “She was really relaxed in front, that’s probably why I went a bit slow, and ripped home a good half.” It was a victory enjoyed by a big syndicate of owners the Big Wookie Racing Group, Clayton Tonkin, Ben Prentice and Simon Holt, with the Bettors Delight filly out of breeders Bruce and Val Edward’s mare Hawiian Hottie, making her a full sister to Vicbred winner Kualoa. Jemstone will be joined in the semi-finals by second-placed Alice Kay, third-placed Summertime, Dougs Cino, Dolly Peachum and Bella Bronski. Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ third heat: The cult following is likely to be large for the big boy of the two-year-old class, Beale Street, who claimed the third heat and looks to have a future as grand as his frame going by his trainer’s review. “He’s my Breeders Crown tip, I think he will just keep getting better and better,” Emma Stewart told TrotsVision. “I’ve never had a bigger two-year-old and he’s quite solid for his age as well, so he’s not gangly but he doesn’t really know what it’s all about at the moment.” Improvement aside the present also looks pretty impressive as Beale Street was guided to the front by Chris Alford from gate two with major threat, Gavin Lang’s Withoutthetuh, on his tail. He’d roll out in the night’s quickest lead time (37.1 seconds) before consistent quarters (31, 30.1 and 29.2) left enough in the tank to get home in 28.5 seconds and keep a length on Withoutthetuh. “He’s a big fella, he’s starting to learn what it’s all about now,” Alford said. “His first two starts were good but he didn’t know a lot, but now he’s starting to switch right on. “He’s starting to get on the bit now and travel, and when a horse comes near him he wants to race, so he just keeps getting better and better and that’s a good sign.” Joining Beale Street and Withoutthetuh in advancing to the semi-final were third-placed Forever Yin, Highclere, Ozzie Battler, Sahara Sirocco, Ilkiemebettor and Junior Warfare. Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ fourth heat: A bold sprint lane rally by David Murphy’s Final Peace almost upset the applecart but Maajida clawed over all comers to land Emma Stewart her seventh Vicbred Super Series heat win for the night and cap the clean sweep. It was an impressive win given Maajida had punched the breeze outside highly rated stablemate Artemede, who led throughout with Final Peace – a $67-1 shot – tracking her every move. But the last 100m belonged to Maajida and she swept clear for reinsman Greg Sugars to win by a neck. “I knew the leader would be hard to catch and sort of had to stay with it and just make it a strong last half a lap basically, and make sure we can hold off any challenges from behind,” Sugars said. “I wasn’t quite confident I would be quick enough to catch the leader because it had pretty good sectionals early but to this filly’s credit she just knuckled down and just wanted to win. She’s got a terrific attitude.” It was a super result for owners Gary, Ian, Leslie and Steve Johnson, who coupled their mare Arterial Way with sire Somebeachsomewhere to produce the full-sister to Gold Chalice winner Lifeonthebeach. Joining Maajida, Final Peace and Arte Mede in booking a semi-finals spot were fourth-placed Elita, The Pantheist (fifth) and Starsbythebeach (sixth).   Michael Howard for Trots media

The six-year-old debutant’s priced at $21 in tonight’s Ararat opener and on the ease, but it’s about much more than just winning for The Butcher’s trainer-driver Bernie Poulton, who can’t wait to settle back into the sulky and honour a mate. For the first time since Jollie Jeparit’s fifth placing at a Horsham mid-week meeting on February 21, 2007, Poulton will take the reins in a race tonight when The Butcher steps out from gate eight in the Ararat HRC Members Pace at 6.33pm. “It’s the thrill of racing, I just really like it,” Poulton, 69, said. “I can’t get that out of the system.” From 1994-95 to 2006-07 he had 201 starts as a trainer for 11 wins and 185 starts as a driver for six wins, having “always had a couple going around”. Among the best of them was Miss Rainmaker, a six-time winner who he co-owned with friend Eric Hahne, a local butcher of 50 years. “(Eric) loved his horses. He was always in them with me and never missed a night at the trots.” Mr Hahne sadly passed two years ago and Poulton shares ownership of The Butcher with his late mate’s three daughters, Tanya Hahne, Belinda Lees and Danielle Meenks. Tonight's debutant is by Denver Gift and out of Miss Rainmaker, who was “one of Eric’s favourites”, and Poulton said he “always wanted to get (The Butcher) to the races for Eric”, but that would prove a challenge. “(The Butcher) was pretty bloody cranky early on. Six months ago he was still silly as a wheel, but I changed his feed and a few things and he’s seemed to turned the corner. He still has a way to go, but I just want him to get out there and get around safely.” And the same goes for Poulton himself, who will have his first race drive in 12 years and plans a rails run from gate eight. “I’ve been up in helicopters, crop dusting, done a lot of things, but I still love to sit in a sulky.”   Michael Howard Trots Media

A delighted Matt Craven’s enjoying the drive as he attempts to guide Tell Me Tales towards a feat achieved only three times, a clean sweep of the Mares Triple Crown. The Terang reinsman’s making the most of a rare pairing with the Emma Stewart stable, steering their Tell All mare to victory in last Saturday’s VHRSC Make Mine Cullen and he's hoping to repeat the dose in this Saturday’s second leg of the three-leg series. Tell Me Tales will have to be very good to scoop up the Angelique Club Pace and register a 19th victory from 26 starts when Craven guides her from outside the back row at Tabcorp Park Melton amid a full and talented field. “It’s going to be a tough ask,” Craven said. “If you work off last week’s race, if anything Berisari put in the run of the race.” Berisari, another Stewart runner, finished fourth last Saturday after leading the three-wide train and will be advantaged by her gate four draw for this weekend's middle-distance Group 3 pace. “(Berisari’s) drawn the front line and will possibly be able to dictate the race, which will make it tough,” Craven said. “We will have to come with one run. “Emma’s team are all good quality mares. We know how good Delight Me is at her best, Berisari and Pistol Abbey had a good run last week. The draw definitely makes it interesting. “You don’t expect to win every week when you are racing high quality mares, but I definitely want to give her the best chance.” Tell Me Tales means more to Craven than just picking up a quality catch drive, in particular his respect for owner/breeder Helen Head and, indeed, the mare’s breed. Craven oversaw the purchase of Tell Me Tales half-sister - an Art Major filly named Shes Offlimits bred by Helen Head - for $8000 at Australia Pacing Gold’s 2017 Autumn Sale. “It was before Tell Me Tales had done anything, which is probably why we got the filly so cheap,” Craven said. “We thought a bit of Shes Offlimits. She had very, very good speed. She was very, very fast, but unfortunately just wasn’t very sound. She had bad luck along the way, having fractured her leg in a trial and then this time in did a tendon.” It would put paid to her racing career, but in a considerable silver lining it was the filly’s breeder, Helen Head, who stepped forth when Shes Offlimits was returned to sale for a broodmare career. Craven said it was a “terrific result for us and her”, and it was also understandably significant when Helen Head called last week ahead of Tell Me Tales victory in the VHRSC Make Mine Cullen. “Helen’s been a stalwart of harness racing and it was nice to get a call from her,” Craven said. And even nicer to reward that faith with a win, when Tell Me Tales overcome her back row draw, sat in the breeze throughout and saluted. “When you are drawn out the back over the shorter distance it is never easy,” he said. “She was wide to the death in a solid quarter off the back, she had no breather and in the straight was still strong. It was a terrific effort. “Just to sit behind such a wonderful mare, she’s just beautiful to drive. It’s a credit to Clayton and Emma the way they turn them out and it was a nice surprise to get that drive. She’s the standout mare. They will have to be good to beat her.”   Michael Howard Trots media

Inter Dominion champion Shakamaker passed overnight aged 23, with the brilliant Victorian speed machine fondly remembered as a giant of the sport. Shakamaker passed and will be buried today at owners John and Glenys Wolfe’s Ballarat farm, where he spent his past 10 years enjoying retirement. “He lived well and now he’s resting,” Mr Wolfe said. “I think he had a pretty good life. He was good yesterday, he didn’t suffer and was enjoying life. He didn’t have a day he was sick. “He’s been looked after good in his own paddock. He did a lot for us personally. We looked after him, fed him, gave him a pat, but he was a bit of an independent type. Our kids loved him.” Shakamaker’s crowning glory came in the 2000 Inter Dominion, giving us Dan Mielicki’s infamous call ‘here comes Shaka’ as the brilliant entire came from last to first to send a delirious Moonee Valley crowd into raptures. “He was running last then up the straight he picked them up and spat them out,” Mr Wolfe said. “It was a magnificent night. He won in arrogant fashion. “He had a big following, they loved the horse. He was that sort of racehorse, he gave a lot of pleasure to people.” They were extraordinary highs that Mr Wolfe could have barely dreamed of when he purchased the young colt by Bookmaker out of Shakira for $2500 at a pacing gold sale. “I knew the people who bred him (Borambola Stud), I liked his breeding and no one wanted him at sale so I bought him,” Mr Wolfe said. “He was always going to be a racehorse. He was pretty independent, mucked around a bit but when it came to the race track he always switched on.” Shakamaker was placed with trainer-driver John Justice, who “took him under his wing, broke him in and kept telling me you’ve got a good one here”. “John was a good trainer, he looked after the horse and did everything possible to get him fit and drove him to win,” Mr Wolfe said. “He lost his first race and after that he just kept winning. Nothing could get near him. His finishing burst was enormous. He had very high speed.” After finishing second on debut his next 24 starts would produce 18 wins and six placings, culminating in the aforementioned Tabcorp Interdom 2000 Pacing Championship Grand Final. “He was in the elite of racing from then,” Mr Wolfe said. He would race for three more years in a career that also captured the 2001 Victoria Cup, the 2002 South Australian Cup, the 2000 Tasmanian Pacing Championship, the 2000 Ben Hur, the 1999 West Australian Derby and the 1998 Australian Pacing Gold final. They were the star-studded trophy cabinet items that contributed to a stakes haul of $2,219,634 from 81 starts that yielded 46 wins and 22 placings, including a second and a third in A. G. Hunter Cups. He raced until 2003, retiring after an unsuccessful Inter Dominion campaign in Addington. “We took him to New Zealand and he struck bad weather and didn’t acclimatise,” Mr Wolfe said. “We bought him home and he was about seven and we decided to retire him – he had done us proud.” Shakamaker followed with a modest career at stud, with one of his more successful foals being Classic Maker, a now five-year-old out of Total Package who’s owned by Mr Wolfe. A winner of six starts, the Shakamaker gelding will no doubt be a sentimental favourite when he steps out in tomorrow night’s Hunter Rural Pace at Shepparton.   Michael Howard  for Trots Media

A much needed sprinkle of Stardust could be just what the doctor ordered for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan, whose long road back from injury could be met with a timely pick-me-up. Illawong Stardust, the half-sister to Quinlan’s prodigiously talented but trying trotter Illawong Armstrong, produced an eye-catching 17-metre victory in today’s Tabcorp Park Melton trials, reaffirming the filly’s talent that it’s hoped will soon translate to the race track. “She seems to be pretty faultless, but she has to prove it on race day,” Quinlan said of Illawong Stardust, who has broken at both her starts, belying the good temperament she has shown at home to Quinlan and partner Craig Demmler. “Craig did all the work early days because I was hurt and liked her from day dot,” Quinlan said. “Being from that family, they all seem to do things wrong. At home she seems fairly faultless but at the track she has galloped both times.” She hasn’t raced since her April 3 sixth placing after a paddock fall led to a cut knee “and so we had to back off her”. Today’s Tabcorp Park trial of seven two-year-old trotters marked her track return and she couldn’t have been more impressive in cruising to the lead and dictating throughout, crossing the line 17 metres ahead of Brent Lilley’s Magical. The latter has had two starts, breaking on debut and then running second in her second start on April 3, the same race Illawong Stardust started favourite and broke. “For her trial she was only about 75 per cent but she went quite well,” Quinlan said. “She’s probably not trotting 100 per cent, but she is pretty good. Ability wise her performance (in the trial) didn’t surprise. If she has half the ability of her brother and more brains it will take her a long way.” If she pulls up well Quinlan will direct her to the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic for two-year-old trotting fillies at Maryborough next Thursday (May 9), which feeds into a $50,000 final at Melton on May 18. Strong performances would be a timely fillip for Quinlan, who’s still on the comeback trail from a horrific injury suffered when she was kicked in the side by a horse on Christmas Eve. Quinlan was left with a lacerated kidney, spine fractures and a long road to recovery. “I’ve been back to the doctor’s yesterday and am into hospital for a day on the 9th of May with a few pain-related issues,” she said. “I’m at the four months mark, I was hoping to be back, but because my internal organs have had so much trauma they are relating to me as a car crash victim. They’ve just said I’ve got to be patient. “I’m quite stiff and scratchy from the spinal challenges, but am getting around a hell of a lot better than what I was.” She has purposefully scaled back her operation from 23 horses to 10 and praised her owners, “who have all been so supportive. I’ve been very lucky”. And she has left the door open to returning to the sulky, driven mostly by the want to again guide her trotters to glory. “I like to think someday I will (drive again), especially to drive my trotters. At some stage I’d like to, but I’ve got to look at the big picture.” In the meantime she will continue to ride the bumps from the sidelines with owner Dr Martin Hartnett as both Illawong Stardust and her big troublesome brother Illawong Armstrong try to transform their potential into prize winnings. Quinlan said Illawong Armstrong, who hasn’t raced since December 29, would trial next week ahead of what looms as the seven-year-old’s final campaign. “It will be his last hurrah,” she said. “He’s getting to the end of his tether, but he is up and going and his next month will tell me what he has left. He has had fantastic ability, but not the brain span unfortunately.”   Michael Howard  for Trots Media

A rare harness racing talent will go under the hammer to help find a cure for “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”. Tough Tilly, the half-sister to brilliant Victorian two-year-old of the year Centenario, will be auctioned at Saturday’s night EB Foundation Cotton Ball, a Benstud Standardbreds initiative to help take the fight to debilitating skin condition epidermolysis bullosa. With bidding open to all, the 25 per cent share in the filly out of Beninjurd by Captain Treacherous will feature as part of the night’s auction items, raising money for a cause dear to the heart of Benstud Standardbreds co-owner Craig Judd. Mr Judd’s daughter Kendal suffers from the condition and he said offering the quality filly was “our way of supporting the foundation”. “They have only one paid employee and 100 per cent of the money goes to helping the foundation find a cure,” he said. The winning bid not only buys a quarter share in Tough Tilly but covers all future racing costs, including training costs with Victoria’s reigning four-time trainer of the year Emma Stewart. The remaining 75 per cent will be retained by Benstud, further reinforcing the breeder’s confidence in their prodigy. “She’s the first horse we’ve actually kept to race for two years,” Mr Judd said. “In the past two years we’ve probably sold about 40 Benstud born and bred horses, but she’s the only one we will keep. If she had have gone to sales, if she wasn’t a sale’s topper I’d be staggered.” Bids can be placed at the Cotton Ball on Saturday night or by contacting Craig Judd on 0458 658 273 or email by 5pm on Friday. For more details about the foundation go to   Michael Howard

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