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Burrumbeet trainer Michael Stanley is hoping a front row draw can be the right tonic for his stable top-liner Rackemup Tigerpie when he shoots for glory in Saturday night's Hygain Breeders Crown Championship. Stanley will partner the horse in the clash at Tabcorp Park Melton, which despite carrying Group 2 status is a major highlight on a card dominated by Group 1 affairs. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven has been forced to do it tough from second row draws in his recent starts, including last weekend's close-up third in the Minuteman Free For All when run down by Jilliby Bandit and Berisari. Rackemup Tigerpie will come out of barrier seven in the $50,000 event for four-year-old entires and geldings over 2240m. "He gets a front line draw which he hasn't seen for quite a while, albeit outside the front," Stanley said. "Hopefully we can get forward straight away and dictate instead of others dictating to us because we have been having to settle in the second half of the field. "He's been racing really well in those free-for-alls from behind. He copped a bit of a check last week and was a bit unlucky. "He done a good job to pick himself up and go again. He was four wide for a long time in that quickly run race. I'm really happy with how he is tracking and he's spot on to head into Saturday night." Following the run in the Breeders Crown Championship, Stanley is plotting a crack at the Kilmore Pacing Cup on September 26 and then the Victoria Cup on October 12. Stanley's other runner on Saturday night is the talented juvenile Iolanta, which takes her place in the Group 1 Always B Miki Breeders Crown final for two-year-old fillies. The horse came on to many people's radar with her stunning win in the Group 2 Tatlow Stakes in late July when she prevailed despite galloping out at the start. Since then, the daughter of Bettors Delight has run second in a heat of the Breeders Crown Series behind Jemstone and then fifth in the semi, beaten just 2.9 metres by Amelia Rose despite sitting parked in a slick mile rate of 1:55.7. "She probably actually went better last week than what she went that night she won. It sounds silly but if you are going off times, she was three wide the first 600 metres, sat in the breeze and they went 1:55 so she did go better," Stanley said. Stanley is hoping for some pressure to be applied to Emma Stewart's short-priced favourite Maajida to give him a chance from a back row draw on Saturday night. "Sometimes you worry when there's a short-priced favourite drawn so well that they are going to amble the lead time and amble through the first lap. Then it makes it really hard," Stanley said. "But Maajida has been crossed a couple of times so we really are banking on something trying to get across and injecting a bit of pace into the race. "And if that happens, we've got a good trailing draw and she'll be right in it as one of the major players if that happens." Win, lose or draw, Iolanta is set for a spell before being aimed at some of the major Oaks in her three-year-old season.   Tim O'Connor HRV Trots Media

Successful Victorian horseman Michael Stanley has every reason to have an air of confidence as he prepares his harness racing stable stars for their next mission. Both Soho Burning Love (Auckland Reactor-Soho Bordeaux (Western Terror) and her stablemate Rackemup Tigerpie (Rock N Roll Heaven-Victoria Street (Albert Albert) have pulled up a treat after competing in their heats of the 4YO Vicbred Super Series at their Ballarat home track last Friday. "I'm really happy with them and can't wait for next Saturday nights semi-finals at Melton to come around," said Stanley, who has his stables at Burrumbeet. Bay mare Soho Burning Love, raced by well-known West Australian breeder-owner Robert Watson, did as she pleased to post an impressive win in the Mares' heats. "I guess she is just a typical Auckland Reactor progeny - she's all go and revels in racing. She just loves it and gives 100 percent every time," Stanley said. "She did hit the finish line with plenty in the tank, but to be honest she probably wasn't in the strongest of the four heats," he said. All the horses on the front row were far more lightly assessed than Soho Burning Love, an M3 class, and that was a factor in Stanley's assessment of the race. "I decided to circle early because I thought the lead would be up for grabs, and she felt great when I asked her to pick up the tempo over the last half (run in 56.3)," he said. "She is pretty well at her top for this series." After running a brilliant fourth in the Ladyship Mile G1 at Menangle on March 2, Stanley decided to ease up a little on the mare's workload. "We'd competed in four or five feature finals, so it was the perfect time to back-off a bit and get in a position to target further big races," he said. Two of her four runs this campaign have been wins. Apart from the recent Ballarat win, the other was in the Melton G3 Alabar Silver Chalice on June 8. Stanley is hoping to go one better than Soho Burning Love's effort in last year's Vicbred Super Series Three-Year-Old Final. "We finished second, but ran into a smart Emma Stewart pacer in Speak No Evil," he said. Rackemup Tigerpie, raced by Stanley's father Ian, went down narrowly at Ballarat to Three Summas (Kerryn Manning) in his Entires and Geldings Heat. "It was a pretty handy effort, so he's also in good form and prior to that he impressed me at Melton with a free-for-all win in solid time." The Stanley stable has been enjoying a great season with 51 wins and 52 placings from about 125 starters. At least a dozen of the wins have been metropolitan victories. "We do have the luxury of our number one client Rob Watson being big in the breeding side of the industry so we can keep turning them over. We are extremely lucky that we can do that," he said. "Most times we have a team of 20 horses, although this might drop down over the cold months. Then the numbers jump back up in spring with young ones coming through." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

COMEBACK star Soho Tribeca will chase the NZ Cup, but not the Auckland Inter Dominion. The gifted pacer returns from almost a year out when he tackles next Saturday night’s Italian Cup at Melton. Trainer-driver Mick Stanley will then keep him based in Victoria, bypassing features in NSW and Queensland, to focus on an NZ Cup raid. “Obviously everything depends on how well he comes back, but you have to plan ahead and Rob (Watson, owner) I have talked through it all,” Stanley said. “The Inter Dominion, with the four runs in two weeks, just isn’t the right way to go with him after the injury he’s had. “But Rob is super, super keen on the NZ Cup and so am I. “We’re building everything around the NZ Cup at his main target this year.” But shaping plans for Soho Tribeca is just part of the exciting but challenging equation for Stanley, who boasts by his strongest stable ever. Two of his stars, Rackemup Tigerpie and Soho Burning Love, won feature races at Melton last night (Saturday). Rackemup Tigerpie’s sparkling first-up win in the free-for-all was both exciting for him and a great guide for Soho Tribeca’s progress. “They work together at home and trialled together last week where Soho Tribeca did a bit more work and Rackemup Tigerpie just edged him out,” Stanley said. “The way Rackemup won last night really gave us confidence Tribeca was right on target for next week.” Rackemup Tigerpie was first-up since finishing down the track in the Chariots of Fire at Menangle on February 16. It was the end of a campaign where he raced through the grades with 11 wins, but the best run was a mighty second to Thefixer in the Ballarat Cup. Stanley drove him with confidence despite being first-up and made an early move around the field from a back row draw to sit parked for the second half of the short 1720m race. Despite doing all the work, Rackemup Tigerpie powered to the front and top of the straight and held-on well to win by 1.7m in a 1min54.7sec mile rate, including a 55.7sec last half. “The Vicbred 4YO series is next for him in a couple of weeks. Poster Boy will be a good measuring stick in that, but I’m sure this horse has comeback better than last campaign,” Stanley said. “The best part of last night’s win for me was how quickly he dropped them when I said go at the top of the straight. He couldn’t do that last time in work and it’s a great asset to have.” Rackemup Tigerpie has the Vicbred, Breeders Crown 4YO and a dip at the Victoria Cup in October to prove to Stanley he should chase the biggest open-class features next season. Just 30 minutes after Rackemup Tigerpie’s winning return, Soho Burning Love had an easier job finding the lead after the start and cruising to a dominant 5.5m win over last-start Group 1 winner and favourite Pistol Abbey in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for the 2240m. “She’s off the Vicbred 4YO mares’ series next and she’s got the Breeders Crown 4YO as well. I’d say she’d head across to Perth for their Group 1 mares’ race later in the year as well,” Stanley said.   Adam Hamilton

It's full steam ahead for Michael Stanley's Grand Circuit star Soho Tribeca after a successful return to the trials at Tabcorp Park Melton yesterday. Stanley partnered the six-year-old in a modest hit-out alongside stablemate Rackemup Tigerpie, who was driven by Gavin Lang. Soho Tribeca won the trial by a narrow margin, zipping home in a 57.48-second last half. The Burrumbeet-based Stanley said he was pleased with how both horses got through the run. "They both stepped away really clean and went the first lap pretty steady. We just let them find their feet and then just upped the pace gradually," he said. "They both hit the line under a hold and had a really good hit-out without going over the top first-up." Soho Tribeca hasn’t been seen at the races since July 2018 after fracturing a leg in the Sunshine Sprint in Queensland. Successful surgery and a long rehabilitation program has followed to get the star pacer back at the track, which is likely to occur in the Del-Re National Italian Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, June 15. "Soho Tribeca will have a couple more trials and we will gradually increase the speed we go - just step him up each time," Stanley said. Stanley said it had been a long road to recovery for the one-time Inter Dominion favourite. "He spent three months in Queensland (post surgery) and then spent another three months here (at Burrumbeet) pretty well locked up in a small stable and taken out for a walk," he said. "It's been a long, slow process and now we are back to somewhere where we can start thinking about getting to the races again. "When it first happened you are always fearful they might not race again, so at least we have got to a stage where it looks a real possibility we are going to get back there." Rackemup Tigerpie, who last raced in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire in February, is being aimed at the Alabar Vicbred Super Series, which has heats in Ballarat on June 21. Stanley said he was likely to give the son of Rock N Roll Heaven one lead-up run prior to the start of the series. Arguably the horse's career-best effort came in last year's Group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cup when he finished a narrow second to Thefixer. Stanley sent around four other horses at Tuesday's trial program, including Macey Jayde, Vicstar Sharazzz, Iolanta and Keilah. Macey Jayde is also being sent towards the Vicbred Super Series, while Stanley was full of praise for Iolanta, an unraced two-year-old Bettors Delight filly who looks "above average".     Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Harness racing has some great families, but exciting juvenile Soho Hamilton certainly comes from one of the best. The American Ideal colt, who turned so many heads with his sparkling Terang debut win last night, is a brother to sidelined superstar Soho Tribeca. But it goes much further. Being out of the amazing producer Pixel Perfect, he is also a half-brother to one of Australia’s best mares Carlas Pixel (19 wins, $480,128). Pixel Perfect’s had five foals to race, all winners. They others being: Birdy Mach (24 wins, $222,041), last year’s Australian 2YO fillies’ winner Soho Nolita (five wins, $191,840) and Perfect Mach (16 wins, $144,323). She’s owned by leviathan WA-based breeder Rob Watson, who also races Soho Hamilton with family and friends. “I listened from London. He’s got freakish talent this guy, but is still very green. It’s hugely exciting,” Watson said, Trainer-driver Mick Stanley was as much relieved as excited after Soho Hamilton blazed a 1min56.5sec mile rate for 1680m after scorching through opening splits of 27.7 and 28.7sec. “We’ve always know the talent is there, but the greenness was our worry in a good field from a wide draw,” he said. “He did so much early, then almost lost it on the home bend when he veered four and five wide, but the best part for me was how he was able to refocus and still win easily.” Soho Hamilton’s target, like half-sister Soho Nolita last year, is the Australian Gold, albeit he will have to travel to Brisbane’s Albion Park to win it this year. And if you like his name, he is only partly-named after your author. “Hamilton is a combination of names and places. I know so many Hamiltons, it was the first street I lived on, seeing the musical Hamilton in New York tomorrow and now it seems we have a good horse called Hamilton,” Watson said. But his stable name, according to Stanley, is “Adam”. “The important part is I’ve named him after you at home. Like I said, he’s a natural talent, but will be a lot better in future,” he said. He’s also part-owned by star Adelaide Crows AFL football player Josh Jenkins, a close friend of Stanley’s. Adam Hamilton

Burrumbeet professional harness racing trainer-driver Mick Stanley is looking forward to some big Victorian feature events over the next fortnight, with a team that is racing chock full of confidence. The Stanley big guns are being aimed at the $110,000 Group One Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday night and the $100,000 Ladyship Cup at Melton on January 26. “Everything is ticking along okay and with an ounce of luck we should be thereabouts,” Stanley said. Rackemup Tigerpie (Rock N Roll Heaven-Victoria Street) has drawn the nine alley in the prestigious Ballarat Cup, while brilliant mare Soho Burning Love (Auckland Reactor-Soho Bordeaux) is being set for the Ladyship Cup. The Ballarat Cup’s attracted a cracker field, with superstars from the Purdon-Rasmussen stable in Cruz Bromac and Thefixer, but plenty of depth with Delight Me, Buster Brady and NSW representatives in Our Triple Play, Salty Robyn and Our Uncle Sam. “Our fella in Rackemup Tigerpie is lightly raced with just 27 starts, but it will be a great experience for him,” Stanley said. The four-year-old has certainly got into his rhythm over the past eight months racking up 11 wins from 15 runs, including at Melton, Ballarat, Cranbourne, Terang and Gunbower and headlined by several victories with some authority. The gelding is bred and raced by Mick’s father Ian, who’s been involved in breeding, owning and training for many years, and he would have been understandably chuffed at Rackemup Tigerpie’s powerhouse display in winning the Gunbower Cup in race record time. Michael Stanley The recent race form and trackwork at home of awesome mare Soho Burning Love also has Mick eagerly awaiting her next assignments. He has pencilled in the Ladyship Cup and all going well there, the pair will then head to the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 2. “I’m not getting ahead of myself, but the winner of the Melton Ladyship gains an automatic run at Menangle, so that would be ideal,” Mick said. Owned by one of our most successful breeders in Rob Watson, of Perth, Soho Burning Love has impressed with three from three after resuming from a short let-up. “She is right on top of her game at the moment and it will be great to have her racing again in a bit over a week,” Mick said. The mare has faced the starter on 33 occasions for 10 wins and 14 placings for over $185,000 in the bank. The Stanley team, prepared at a picturesque property just outside of Ballarat, has 30 in work. “Things are really good at the moment with a handy team,” he said. “Nearly half of them are two-year-olds and Rob, who is our number one client, is quite excited by the potential ahead.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

AUSTRALIAN Pacing Gold purchases are poised to dominate tomorrow night’s Caduceus Club Cup. Not only are APG stock well represented in numbers, they also dominate betting markets thanks to some stellar form. Six of the nine runners in the $30,000 are APG graduates. Winner of his three starts, Demon Delight will be looking to maintain his perfect record for owners Russell and Pam Hockham. Although drawn the outside of the front row, the Emma Stewart-trained colt is a $1.45 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds. “I’ve got a very big opinion of him,” Stewart said. “He’s only had three starts and is still on the way up, but he’s as good as any of the three-year-olds in the stable!” Demon Delight is followed closely in the market by Soho Thunderstruck, with the son of Art Major fresh from a first-up win at Maryborough last week. Prepared by Michael Stanley, Soho Thunderstruck is expected to be pushed forward in search of the lead from barrier two – the same draw as his Maryborough success. A stablemate of Soho Thunderstruck, Watch List – also a recent first-up winner – will follow his training partner through from the second row. Despite boasting an impressive record of four wins and two placings from six starts, Hudsen is at the juicy odds of $26 from barrier five. Arggghhh from the pole and Zoliver from gate three round out the APG ‘crew’. APG Media

If Sky Petite can head off Fabrication in Tuesday night’s TAB Inter Dominion second-round trotting heat (Race 4) at Ballarat, harness racing young gun reinsman Ryan Duffy will repel any challenge in the run for as long as he possibly can. That’s the word out of Burrumbeet, with Michael Stanley declaring “there’s no decision” to be made. “If we’re able to get to the lead then over the short at Ballarat we’ll be holding it,” Stanley said. Sky Petite finished sixth on opening night. Whilst not the sexiest figure form, Stanley said her run was much better than it may seem on paper. “She came out and couldn’t get across then ended up a lot further back than we’d have liked to be. Some others dropped out in front of her at the 500m and at the 400m she had to go wide around that bend,” Stanley said. “It’s extremely hard to do that at Melton. Not many can make ground against those times. She held her ground really well and she’ll also be better for that run.” Sky Petite picked up seven points for the performance and is $7 into $6 today with TAB.com.au fixed odds for Tuesday night. Polemarker Fabrication opened $14 last night post-barrier draws, was $10 this morning and has tumbled into $6, while Maori’s Law has also tightened from inside the second row – $2.8 to $2.4. The drifters are Monty Python and Kyvalley Blur, both drawn extremes in 11 and 12 on the back row. Monty Python is $7.5 to $11 and Kyvalley Blur is $4.5 to $5.5. Kima Frenning has some decisions to make aboard Big Jack Hammer out in gate five. “He is super quick but we’ll have to see,” Frenning said. “I was really pleased with his run last night. He was held up a bit round that last turn.” Once he saw daylight Big Jack Hammer found the line strongly for fourth behind Tornado Valley, beaten 20.7m. Fields for Tuesday night heats at Ballarat Trots Media - Cody Winnell  

The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year, Menin Gate, is exactly the kind of horse racing fans warm to; a fierce competitor with a will to win and a tenacity that stables him in the hearts of punters. His trainer and driver, Michael Stanley (of Burrumbeet), describes Menin Gate as "a warrior", and now that he's back, all going well, he promises to be a headline act at this year's Victorian TAB Inter Dominion. Last Friday night's courageous 3SH Swan Hill Cup win saw Menin Gate's customary fight in full view, holding off fitter challengers such as Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup winner Im The Boss and rising metro star Magical Marn to win the second leg of the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship at his first run back in almost 18 months. "He'd been in work for quite some time," Stanley told RSN's One Out, One Back this morning. Read the full story here   Cody Winnell Trots Media

THE only thing better than Mick Stanley’s training effort to win the Swan Hill Cup with Menin Gate were the now legendary celebrations by the owners after it. Menin Gate, the dominant three-year-old in Australasia more than three years ago, scored a remarkable first-up win against serious opposition last Friday night. It was the now seven year-old’s first start in 16 months, his first run for trainer-driver Mick Stanley and his first since being diagnosed with a small fracture to his pelvis. Stanley certainly didn’t pick a “soft” option first-up. “He’s back racing earlier than we expected because absolutely everything has gone right,” Stanley said. “Then when he trialled so well at Maryborough last Sunday, I thought we’d give this race a crack.” Over a gruelling 2790m and after being pressured early by a headstrong Gottashopearly, Menin Gate then had to deal with some serious midrace “heat” from favourite and Kilmore Cup winner Im The Boss. Menin Gate looked in strife on the home bend and challenges came from all angles, but he showed all the fighting qualities which made him such a star at three and fended off his rivals to win by a half-head. He broke the track record for good measure with a 1min57.3sec mile rate. “It wasn’t the biggest race we’ve won, but it was a great thrill to be able to get him back to somewhere near his best,” Stanley said. “This is so rewarding. It’s one thing to get a fit and healthy Soho Tribeca, but to bring this guy back from the start of a preparation was so pleasing.” Stanley said he would skip next week’s Cranbourne Cup and give Menin Gate time to recover in the hope his Inter Dominion ranking has improved sharply. Im The Boss lost no admirers with a brave and close second after sitting parked, while Magical Marn made ground from last for third and veteran Flaming Flutter ran an eye-catching fourth at his first run back from a spell. ____________________________________________________________________________________ WITH Chicago Bull out of town, it’s giving WA’s next wave of open-class pacers their chance to shine. And leading the way is Greg and Skye Bond’s Vampiro, who is building nicely towards a Melbourne Inter Dominion raid. The Rocknroll Hanover five-year-old scored arguably his best win yet when he sat parked and snatched a narrow but impressive victory in last Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint (1730m) at Gloucester Park. Driver Ryan Warwick was content to let the classy rival Maczaffair dictate terms in front, backing Vampiro’s speed to get him through. And it did with closing splits of 55.6 and 27.5sec. Vampiro won by a head in a 1min55.2sec mile rate from Maczaffair with another exciting talent, Rocknroll Lincoln, in third spot. Buzz four-year-old King Of Swing drew awkwardly in three with speed on his inside, drifted back in the run and didn’t make any impact in those blistering closing splits. He ran sixth. Vampiro, Galactic Star and rejuvenated former star juvenile Mitch Maguire, who also won well at Gloucester Park last Friday, are the Bonds’ Inter Dominion contenders. ____________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Mike Reed has a serious Golden Nugget contender in Bechers Brook. Reed’s always had a big opinion of the Somebeachsomewhere four-year-old, who scored a remarkable and barnstorming win in the opening race at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Bechers Brook showed his potential with a close second to King Of Swing in the WA Derby in April and has won both runs back from a spell in terrific style. “He’s tough and he keeps getting better,” Reed said. “He’s come back really well after his break.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER David Aiken has been such a huge part of the recent Perth Inter Dominions with Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. He’s sure to be a big force again in Melbourne this year with Wrappers Delight, Im The Boss and even the emerging Audi Hare. Audi Hare continued his rise through the ranks with a narrow, but well-earned win in the fast-class race at Melton last night. Driver David Moran blasted him to the front from the outside draw (gate seven), steadied through the middle stages, then zipped home in 55.3 and 27.3sec to hold-off the in-form Love Ina Chevy and win by a half-head in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2240m. Love Ina Chevy, Lance Justice’s horse who cheated death for days after a snake bite a few years back, also deserves a spot in the Inter Dominion heats on the strength of his excellent recent form. ____________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER star juvenile Kiwi trotter King Denny won his first race three-and-a-half years with a narrow victory in last Friday night’s Swan Hill Trotters’ Cup. His last win came while still in the All Stars’ barn in the Harness Jewels final at Ashburton on May 30, 2015. Since then he’s been plagued by injuries, changed stables a couple of times and also changed ownership. Now trained and owned by Michael Gadsden, King Denny dug deep as a $28 outsider to win by a neck in a 2min2.8sec mile rate for the 2790m stand. ____________________________________________________________________________________ MOST of Emma Stewart’s glamorous young pacer stars went for spells after the Breeders Crown, but not Demon Delight. That’s because he was a late bloomer and only made his debut two days of the two-year-old season remaining. Demon Delight looked terrific winning that debut run and has since added another couple of wins to be unbeaten in three starts. It’s no secret the stable think he’s got the potential to be right alongside his buzz stablemates Hurricane Harley, Centenario and Hardhitter when it comes Derby time later this season. Demon Delight underlined his potential winning by 16m and pacing a blistering 1min52.8sec mile rate for 1720m at Melton last night. Another “must follow” horse from the Melton meeting is Marg Lee’s lightly-raced four-year-old Jilliby Lorenzo. The son of Roll With Joe ran third to Lumineer in the Australian Gold final at two then had a setback and spent 16 months on the sidelines soon after. He’s returned with three wins from as many starts on the comeback trail and looked good overcoming a torrid run to win at Melton last night. ____________________________________________________________________________________ TROTTER Tough Monarch has plenty of tricks, but loads of ability as well. Trainer-driver Rickie Alchin looks to be gradually winning the battle of turning him into a more reliable racehorse. Tough Monarch had no luck in an unsuitably run race when an eye-catching fifth to Tornado Valley in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint at Melton last Saturday week. Alchin took him back home and was rewarded with a tough win after racing deep then sitting parked over 2300m at Menangle last night. It was a big effort in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2300m, which compared well with Tiger Tara’s 1min55.4sec in the 2300m pacing free-for-all. There’s no doubt Tough Monarch can be a serious factor in the upcoming Melbourne Trotters’ Inter Dominion if he keeps doing everything right.   Adam Hamilton

Menin Gate trainer Michael Stanley is just looking for a competitive hit out from his new star recruit in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. But it wouldn’t surprise him if the horse pulled off a first-up win. The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year is a surprise starter in the race - his first start since being sidelined with a fractured pelvis 16 months ago. Stanley said the plan had always been for Menin Gate - who joined his Burrumbeet stable in August - to make a run at this year’s Victorian Inter Dominion series after arriving in good health after such a long spell. But two impressive trial wins at Maryborough in the past two weeks saw him nominate the seven-year-old ahead of schedule. “To be honest, I didn’t plan on racing him this early,” Stanley said. “He’s had a slow build up, we haven’t rushed him. We’ve had no little niggles with his injury. Everything has gone really well. “His first trial he didn’t do too much, we just sat last and didn’t pull out until the straight and let him run home under his own steam. And when I pulled him out he really attacked the line, he wanted to beat the others. So I was really impressed with that. “I took him to the trials (again) on Sunday and I thought I’m just going to push him out a bit and give him a really good hit out and just see if he is sharp enough to go to Swan Hill. And he was super. The times he run were equivalent to what he’d have to run in a race.” Stanley said while his expectations for Friday were simply for Menin Gate to get through the race and be competitive, he believed the former Group 1 winner was up to the pace for a cup win. “It just looked like an ideal race to step him out in first up,” he said. “Going for the Inter Dominion, we’d like to get our ranking down and be peaking for when that’s on, but he’s definitely forward enough that he’ll run a really good race first up for sure.” Friday night’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup is the second leg of the Trots Country Cups Championship, which kicked off at Kilmore on September 27. The David Aiken-trained Im The Boss, who was a last start sixth in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, will be out to record a fifth country cup, having won at Shepparton, Mildura and Cobram last season before saluting at Kilmore last month. Stanley said the plan against the country cups champ would be to use the favourable gate three draw to set the pace early. “(Menin Gate’s) a really good front runner and a hard horse to pass, so that’s probably the plan,” he said. “We’ve got Im the Boss on the back line and a couple of handy sprinters in the middle of the front row, so if we can keep them behind us that’s probably the ideal way to tackle it early on. “(But) the expectations (for this one) really are just to get him back to the races and be competitive. Anything above that is a bonus.” Stanley also has the backmarker in the What the Hill Swan Hill Trotters Cup in Sky Petite, who he said would look to build on a first-up fifth in the Maori Miss Trotters Free for All. “Her work had been fantastic since before she went to Melton first up,” he said. “I think she probably just overdid it a little bit early. The lead time was fairly quick, I think the second quickest of the night, even with the pacing races. So first-up from a spell, with that quick lead time, she ran through the middle section a little bit too quick and she got tired. “(But) I think she was beaten by one of the best up and coming trotters we have in Dance Craze, who sat on her back and she fought on well. She only got beat the eight or nine metres. “The country cup races probably suit her better than the 2200m mobiles. With the long 2700m stand she’ll have time to settle and follow them into the race, instead of being the one that does the work. There’s a couple of nice trotters in that race though, so it’s going to be a good race, but I’m sure she’ll race really well.”     It promises to be a ripping night at Swan Hill, with gates to open at 5pm and the course hosting free children’s activities, a punters' club plus a range of different options to take in the night’s racing. While the corporate box and private deck have sold out, patrons can still snap up a dinning ticket or a place in the Pooles Pavilion via www.swanhilltrots.com.au Mark Smith Trots Media

TIGER Tara continues his NZ Cup build-up at Menangle on Saturday night. And, in exciting news for Addington officials, trainer Kevin Pizzuto confirmed his other open-class star, Majordan, would accompany Tiger Tara to Christchurch. “Majordan’s target will be the (NZ) free-for-all on the Friday,” Pizzuto said. Majordan will clash with Tiger Tara for the third consecutive week in Saturday night’s 2300m Kevin Newman Cup. Majordan led throughout to beat an eye-catching Tiger Tara (second) over a mile at Menangle two week’s ago. Tiger Tara then led throughout to brilliantly win last week’s Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton with Majordan having little luck from a back row draw and finishing seventh. This time the 2300m distance suits Tiger Tara (gate 11), but Majordan’s blazing gate speed means he’s almost certain to find the lead despite gate 10. The early money has been for Tiger Tara ($2.80 into $2) on the Aussie TAB with Majordan out from $2.25 to $2.80. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ JUST over three years ago, Menin Gate looked the next big thing in harness racing. In 2015, the then Larry Eastman-trained star had finished a season with wins in the Victoria and Queensland Derbys, Vicbred final and Breeders Crown final. It’s been a rocky road since. Now, after 16 months away from the track, Menin Gate returns in Friday night’s Swan Hill Cup for new trainer-driver Michael Stanley. “He was found to have had a small fracture in his pelvis,” Stanley said. “So far so good on the comeback trail. He seems really sound and I’m happy with how he’s shaping to this point.” Menin Gate looked sharp winning a Maryborough trial by 20m in a 1min57.4sec mile rate for 2190m, sprinting home in 55.8 and 27.6sec. It’s a good test first-up at Swan Hill where last week’s Victoria Cup sixth placegetter Im The Boss is $2.20 favourite from gate nine. Menin Gate is $5 second elect from barrier three. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ JUST before Gary Hall Jr heads to NZ with Chicago Bull as caretaker trainer, he’s popped back home for Friday night’s Gloucester Park meeting. And he had a big decision to make with his drive in the feature race, the $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint. Hall Jr had to choose between King Of Swing for his father, Gary Hall Sr, and the exciting Rocknroll Lincoln for trainer Justin Prentice. To the surprise of many, Hall Jr went with the barrier draw an opted for Rocknroll Lincoln from gate two. King Of Swing is right next door in gate three. Hall Jr then heads back to Auckland to prepare Chicago Bull for his race at Alexandra Park on Friday week.   Adam Hamilton

Saturday nights Globe Derby winner Soho Crucio is proving to be a shrewd purchase for her new connections. After hearing a ‘whisper’ the daughter of Art Major could be bought for the right price, South Australian horseman Chris Neilson quickly made the move to have Soho Crucio at his stable. Since the transfer the filly has won her two starts in impressive fashion, including the Two-Year-Old Classic. “I think she will be a fair bit of fun to be involved with,” Neilson said. “She is pretty mature for her age and should hopefully continue to get better. “She has won both her starts for us and you can’t ask for anymore than that.” With popular reinsman Wayne Hill in the cart, Soho Crucio showed good gate speed to lead from barrier three, with the remainder of the 1800-metre trip a formality. Never seriously challenged, the two-year-old scored by four metres from Martys Party, with Eye See Double three metres away third in 1:58.2. “I was very confident with her as I knew she was going to be a big improver since her first run just under two weeks earlier,” Neilson said. “Between her last run for Michael Stanley and her first run for me she had two weeks off and was only in work for about 10 days before I raced her in the Breeders’ Crown heat. “She had an unorthodox build up to the heat, but a much better routine before this.” Predicting the youngster will develop into a handy three-year-old, Neilson plans to give Soho Crucio one more start before sending her for a break. “I will head over to Mildura if the race holds up try to win her Vicbred bonus,” Neilson said. “After that I will give her a long spell. “There is no reason why she won’t come back better again after a break and more time to mature, so that’s the way I will go with her.”   HRSA Media

Just days after being installed one of the favourites for the NZ Cup, Aussie superstar Soho Tribeca will undergo surgery for a broken leg. In a horrible aftermath to last night’s messy Group 2 Sunshine Sprint won by Tact Tate, owner-breeder Rob Watson confirmed the severity of the injury sustained when trainer-driver Mick Stanley was looking for a clear run rounding the last bend. “That’s where it happened, when Mick was desperately trying to get into the clear after being stuck in a pocket the whole race,” Watson said. “Messy is the right word for the race and it ended very badly for us. His leg was badly swollen straight after it, he was rushed to the vet and they confirmed the break. “They say the break is in a ‘good’ spot if you know what I mean. They say if the surgery goes as planned he’ll need six months off then can start his rehab.” Watson said he had already been contacted by stud farms asking about Soho Tribeca standing as a stallion, but the plan is to focus on a racetrack return. “I feel like there is unfinished business. He’s just now getting to his prime and those last two races aren’t the way we want hi to go out,” he said. Soho Tribeca galloped at the start of last month’s Group 1 Len Smith Mile and took no part in the race as a $1.40 favourite. He was $1.60 favourite in last night’s Sunshine Sprint. Soho Tribeca’s injury and a mystifying flop by Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal has thrown next Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Ubet Blacks A Fake at Albion Park wide open. My Field Marshal was trapped wide and worked hard, but failed to beat a runner home and left trainer Tim Butt shaking his head. “We don’t know what to make of it,” he said. “Sure he had a hard run, but he still should’ve finished fourth or fifth in a race like that. “He can do that, throw in a bad one, but we thought we had him spot on. “He seemed good after the race and is fine today, but I’ll get him scoped tomorrow (Monday) just to be sure before we press on to the Blacks A Fake.” The drama of the Sunshine Sprint has left Butt contemplating a change of plans with his exciting four-year-old Let It Ride, who sparkled winning a support race at Albion Park last night. “He was headed to the 4YO feature next Saturday, but, yes, we are weighing-up things up now. It’s a $200,000 race the Blacks A Fake and not as deep as we first thought,” he said. “We’ll make a decision tonight (Sunday), but there’s a real chance he could run in the big one.” Amanda Turnbull’s comeback pacer Tact Tate won the Sunshine Sprint by bursting to the lead from a wide draw, taking a trail, then out-sprinting them late to beat Celestial Arden and 2016 Blacks A Fake winner Ohoka Punter. The final field and barrier draw for the Blacks A Fake is decided at 5pm tomorrow (Monday). Adam Hamilton

Kyler Harper believes a favourable barrier draw has dramatically improved Soho Thunderstruck's prospects in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Harper says Soho Thunderstruck has raced without luck in his two Perth starts, but is confident from barrier one the former Victorian will exert a major presence in the $125,000 feature. “Without sounding too confident I think the barrier has set up the race for him,” says Harper. “He hasn’t had much luck punching the breeze against some handy horses in Perth. “He is drawn to lead and I think he is going to take some beating.” Soho Thunderstruck, previously handled in Victoria by Michael Stanley, has recorded one win and seven placings from his 10 career starts. The son of Art Major ran third to Bletchley Park at his Perth debut and fourth to the same horse in a Slipper prelude at Gloucester Park last week. Soho Thunderstruck shed his maiden status at Bathurst in a heat of the Bathurst Gold Crown last March, rating 1.55.9 over 1730m. In a mixed draw for Harper, Franco Edward, one of his two starters in the Golden Slipper and a winner of the Pearl Classic (2130m), will step from barrier 11. The Pearl Classic capped a winning hatrick for Franco Edward, who had his colours lowered in last week’s Slipper Prelude when runner-up to Bletchley Park. “I am going to have to play it by ear from that position,” Harper said. “There looks like there will be a bit of speed early. “He might have to settle and work into the race. “You have to take what you’re given, but it could have been worse. “Bletchley Park could have drawn barrier one.” 1-Soho Thunderstruck 2-Soho Interceptor 3-Dracarys 4-Bettor Be Oscar 5-The Lightning Strike 6-To Fast To Serious 7-Shockwave 8-Babyface Adda 9-Valbonne 10-Bletchley Park 11-Franco Edward 12-Its Rock And Roll 13-Robbie Easton.   Julio Santarelli

The big boppers are in town! Grand Circuit stars My Field Marshal and Soho Tribeca have settled into their new Brisbane surroundings in preparation for the open class features at Albion Park over the next fortnight. The Gr.2 $50,540 Garrards Sunshine Sprint takes place this Saturday night at Albion Park followed by the Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship the following week. The Blacks A Fake, is the jewel in the crown on the Queensland harness racing calendar, it also doubles as the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And Soho Tribeca has a chance to be crowned Grand Circuit champion if successful. But the focus this week is the Sunshine Sprint, the signature speed test in the Sunshine State. “We’re here and we’re ready to go, we’re looking forward to the challenge that is in front of us.” Trainer/driver Michael Stanley said. Soho Tribeca took no competitive part in his most recent start when finishing a distant last in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on July 1. It was established he got his head under the arm of the starting gate which caused an unexpected gate break. The striking American Ideal entire is yet to race at Albion Park. But bookmakers are taking no chances and have listed him as the horse to beat in both Queensland features with their fixed odds markets. “It was just one of those freak things that happened last start, fortunately, he’s taken no harm from the incident and he remains in great shape. “Obviously both races will be difficult because the opposition will be strong, Tim (Butt – Trainer) has a great record in big races and deserves plenty of respect and I won’t be selling him short in either event. “The sprint race this weekend will be hard and fast and then the challenge the following week will be equally tough because Kevin (Pizzuto – trainer) has both Cruz Bromac and Tiger Tara heading up. But the mission is to win both races and I believe he can achieve it.” Tim Butt, now based in Sydney, arrived last week with both My Field Marshal and Let It Ride and is happy with the way both horses are coming along. Let It Ride is a last start winner of the Gr.1 NSW Breeders Challenge 4yo Final in 1:49.4 – the fastest time of the day on the Len Smith Mile program. But he won’t start in the Sunshine Sprint. “The trip north is all about the experience, he will start in a support event while My Field Marshal starts in the Sunshine Sprint,” Butt explained. “The main target for Let It Ride is the 4yo Championship the following week, while he’s good enough to start in both open features I don’t think he needs that right now, he’ll get his chance in time to come. “My Field Marshal will start in both open races just like he did last year, he had a setback before the Len Smith Mile but he’s loving it here in Brisbane. He’s ready to show his best.” The Gr.3 $30,540 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship takes place on July 21, the same night as the Blacks A Fake.   Chris Barsby

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