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DAVID Aiken’s chances of having two Miracle Mile runners have been dealt a significant boost.  Aiken’s glamour pair Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark have both drawn well and installed clear favourites in their respective Miracle Mile qualifiers at Menangle on Saturday night   In the first of the races, the Allied Express Sprint, Hectorjayjay drew five but will start from four if first emergency Saloon Passage doesn’t gain a start.  The Aussie TAB has opened him a $1.60 favourite.  The All Stars’ Inter Dominion champ Smolda, who beat Hectorjayjay in that race, faces a big challenge from a wide draw (gate eight) over the mile. He is a $4.20 shot, but will surely start longer odds.  The other key player in that first qualifier is last week’s brave Chariots Of Fire third placegetter Salty Robyn, who is a $7 chance from gate six, but is likely to have to sit parked outside Hectorjayjay.  Some Kiwi fans will also be interested to see No Doctor Needed in the first qualifier, but is is a $35 shot from out in gate seven.  In the second qualifier, the Canadian Club Sprint, Lennytheshark is a $2.10 favourite from barrier two and most expect him to shorten as the race gets closer.  His two main rivals, last-start Hunter Cup winner Bling It On and defending Miracle Mile champ Have Faith In Me, have drawn wide.  Bling It On is a $3.80 shot from gate eight, while Have Faith In Me is $3.50 from the outside (gate 10).  The other runners with strong Kiwi interest are Barry Purdon’s Hug The Wind (gate five, $16) and former Kiwi pacer Tiger Tara (gate three, $12) who is having his first run for new trainer Kevin Pizzuto.   So far only Lazarus is the only guaranteed Miracle Mile runner, courtesy of his Chariots Of Fire win last Saturday night.  As expected, the All Stars’ team did not opt to back-up Our Waikiki Beach this week after his return to form for second to Lazarus in the Chariots.  Our Waikiki Beach is still strongly in contention for a Miracle Miloe berth should connections wish to contest the race.  The final Miracle Mile field will be announced after Saturday night’s qualifiers with the barrier draw held at a Menangle function early afternoon in Sunday (Sydney time). HRNZ news

Pacing champ Lazarus can go faster -- and he might have to. The four-year-old freak wracked up his fifth group one win in his last seven starts when he outmuscled his rivals in the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night. After bullying his way to the front down the back straight he never flinched under pressure from stablemate Our Waikiki Beach in the home straight to head home a stable quinella in 1:49 for the mile. For any normal pacing great that would have been sensational but for a horse who has handed out epic thrashings in New Zealand and Victoria Cups it felt almost tradesmanlike. There was no explosion at the top of the straight, just a relentless staying performance without the icing on top. Trainer-driver Mark Purdon says there are an array of reasons Lazarus was a percentage point or two below his dazzling best. “He has had a tricky week,” admitted Purdon. “He had to travel up here from Melbourne which meant his training was interrupted. “And when he first got here the heat affected him a bit. “And he has raced for Saturdays in a row, all in group ones, which is not easy. “So I was proud of the way he stuck to it when Waikiki Beach came at him.” Lazarus’s win earns him the first invite to the A$750,000 Miracle Mile on Saturday week as well as the luxury of bypassing the preludes this Saturday. “That will be a help, having a week off and also more time to get used to the heat here. “So I am certain he can go quicker than the 1:49 and he might have to in the Miracle Mile.” Lazarus is seemingly unbeatable in front but he may not be guaranteed that role in a  Miracle Mile that could contain Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay, Smolda, Bling It On and defending champ Have Faith In Me.  At his NZ Cup best he might simply be too good for even that elite bunch but if he performs at his Chariots level then a Hectorjayjay leading or a Bling It On sitting on his back could give him, and punters, a huge fright. The remaining seven Miracle Mile invites will be issued this Saturday, with the first two home in each of the qualifiers getting a start, leaving three spots up for grabs. Our Waikiki Beach might have done enough to sneak in so will be allowed to bypass the preludes but the question mark horse will be Have Faith In Me. As the defending champion and Australasian mile holder the Menangle club will want him in the race and a top four prelude finish will probably be good enough to earn him an invite but anything below that level could make his inclusion hard to justify. Saturday’s meeting will also see heats of the NSW Derby and Oaks so will feature Ultimate Machete, Vincent and Partyon. But Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me won’t be there, with Purdon opting to trial her on Tuesday and again next week in the lead-up to the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile after a recent virus setback. “She is better now and I am happy with her but I think two trials will be enough." Michael Guerin

Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus is the first horse into the Ainsworth Miracle Mile following a devastating win in the $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. The New Zealand four-year-old, trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, led for the last 800m and held off stablemate Our Waikiki Beach in a career-best 1:49 for the mobile mile. The win earned him an automatic invite to the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 25, which Purdon wasted no time in accepting. That means Lazarus will not have to start in next Saturday's two preludes of the Mile, with the first two in those preludes also guaranteed Miracle Mile invites. The balance of the field will be invited at the discretion of the directors of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club and will not be decided until after next Saturday's prelude. Tonight's group one win was the 23rd in Lazarus's 27-start career and he is closing in on $2 million in stakes. He is a son of champion Bettors Delight and Bethany. Tonight's other feature, the $51,500 Cordina Food Company Sibelia Stakes was won in all-the-way fashion by Cyclone Kate in a personal best 1:50.3, earning her an automatic spot in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile on Miracle Mile night. Lazarus Cyclone Kate

McMullen duo Peter and Chantal will be looking for two sought-after pacing victories in Sydney next month. The Patrick Estate harness racing team are currently in Sydney, aiming to qualify New Zealand imports Mattgregor in the $200,000 invitational Chariots of Fire and Watch Pulp Fiction in the Miracle Mile. Although the races aren't until February, driver and co-trainer Peter said despite Mattgregor's lack of race starts, the gelding was showing plenty of potential to race in the biggest four-year-old race in Australasia. He raced last week at Menangle as favourite, winning by a solid three metres, taking his tally to eight wins from 12 starts. "It was nothing special, but hopefully that gives him enough to get into the lead up to the qualifying races,” Peter said. "He hasn't had a lot of race in him yet and we haven't seen the best of him yet.” Both Mattgregor and Watch Pulp Fiction will both need to qualify for the invitational feature races which will test the best horses in their category. If Watch Pulp Fiction doesn't make the qualifiers for the Miracle Mile, Peter said they would aim to enter him in the Bohemia Crystal, held during the same meet. "We've only had him about a month... it's a bit out of reach but we're hoping he can make the Miracle Mile,” he said. The duo have trained some 54 winners this season, putting them squarely in second place on the trainers board behind the black and white army of Grant Dixon. And in the driver's seat, Peter holds a solid third place on the state drivers table with 55 wins, 46 seconds and 40 third from 363 starts. If the two lead horses don't finish in the top two for their qualifying races, Peter said the experience and connections from New South Wales which will add to their southern venture. "We're looking to expand a little, broaden the horizons and the other horses we took with us,” Peter said. "They're all nice horses, they're the best of our bunch in Queensland, but its stronger racing in Menangle. "But if we can make new connections from the horses and broaden our stable at home that would be great.” The McMullens have spent the last couple weeks in Menangle, based at the track in the lead up to the Chariots of Fire and Miracle Mile. By Rob Williams Reprinted with permission of The Gatton Star

She is one of Australasia’s fastest mares yet Arms Of An Angel will miss the Southern Hemisphere’s ultimate harness racing sprint test, the Miracle Mile, due to injury. The 1:49.5 performer has suffered a minor setback that is not career ending, however, has hampered her claims of aiming at another Miracle Mile, at least for now according to co-trainer Shane Tritton. “She looks as though she will have at least four to six months on the sideline by the way things are looking at the moment,” Tritton said. It was discovered Arms Of An Angel injured her knee following her last start that saw her finish sixth-placed and break gait during running. Connections have had many scans on the problem area to try and pinpoint exactly what the injury the five-year-old sustained. “We are still waiting on further results from the MRI scan she had the other day,” Tritton said. “The vet had a quick look and everything seems relatively good at this stage in that there doesn’t seem to appear to be any breaks or tears which we thought could have been a possibility.” Just last year, Arms Of An Angel went from racing in maiden class and quickly boomed into Grand Circuit company. She earned an invitation to last year’s Miracle Mile where she finished third-placed to Have Faith In Me after setting up the fast tempo in front when they clocked 1:48.5 – the fastest mile rate seen outside of North America. However, despite Arms Of An Angel’s chequered preparation, ‘Team Tritton’ still has a number of horses aimed at the Sky Racing Carnival Of Miracles that begins at Tabcorp Park Menangle on February 11. This includes the mare Katy Perry, which is currently racing in foal to Art Major. “Katy Perry is still on track for the Ladyship Mile,” Tritton said. One of Tritton’s ‘big guns’ aimed at this Carnival is the Art Official four-year-0ld Salty Robyn that will be aimed at the Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire. The gelding is unbeaten in his six starts this season. But Tritton has another rising star aimed at the $200,000 Group 1 in Anything For Love. The four-year-old had his first start for the stable at Menangle last week and won rating a career best 1:51.4. “He is a nice horse and works as good as any of my horses,” Tritton said. “He is a bit on the back foot compared to some of the other horses just having his first start back the other day but he will be ready for the Chariots.” Anything For Love is racing at Menangle on Tuesday. AMANDA RANDO

Reports of dual Inter Dominion winner Beautide’s retirement are premature. But trainer-driver James Rattray said yet another setback would see the veteran miss all the big races early next year. “It’s frustrating. His tendons are fine. It’s some bruising, but he’s got to have a couple of months back out again,” Rattray said. “He’ll miss them all, even the Miracle Mile, but I’m hoping to have him back mid-year.” That will mean Beautide will have been sidelined for more than a year. His last run was second at Menangle on April 9, this year.   Adam Hamilton

The best pacers in training will get their shot at two or more major harness racing victories following changes to dates and conditions for the 2017 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle. Australia's biggest harness racing sprint, the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile will now be run on Saturday, February 25 in Sydney. The club has moved their feature race back a week so that Grand Circuit campaigners can contest the Victoria Cup on Saturday, January 28, 2017 or the Hunter Cup on February 4 (or both) and still be fresh enough to contest the sprint races the week before the Ainsworth Miracle Mile. Trainers must also race their stable stars in either the Canadian Club Sprint or the Allied Express Sprint on February 18 if they wish to be invited into the Miracle Mile. The only exception will be the Cordina Chariots Of Fire, for four-year-olds, which will be run on February 11 and has an automatic invitation into the Miracle Mile for the winner. It should be noted that there will no longer be an automatic invitation for the Victoria Cup winner to contest the Miracle Mile. That means the MM field will comprise the Chariots Of Fire winner (assuming they accept the invitation), plus the first two horses across the line in the Canadian Club Sprint as well as the first two over the line in the Allied Express Sprint run the same night. The remaining three starters and two reserves will be chosen from the horses that contested either the Chariots of Fire or were drawn in the field for either of the sprints. According to Club Menangle CEO Bruce Christison, moving the sprints to the week before the Miracle Mile will create a level playing field for all competitors. "All horses that make the MM field will now race the week before, with the exception of the Chariots winner, which will qualify the previous week," said Christison. "Moving our date for the Mile back should help everyone by making it more achievable to target both the Victorian and NSW carnivals. "Horses can now contest the Victoria Cup and Hunter Cup and then have a week off before our sprints at Menangle." Club Menangle chairman Ray Sharman endorsed the changes: "Our club wanted to work with Harness Racing Victoria to develop the January and February months as a time of premium harness racing on the east coast," said Sharman. "This goes a long way towards achieving just that. "We can now look forward to a spectacular few weeks of harness racing." Bruce Christison            

Super pacer Christen Me has come through the first run of his Australian harness racing campaign with flying colours. The gelding’s trainer, Cran Dalgety said on Monday that there was a bounce in the step of his star on Monday morning after he was initially a quite tired horse on Sunday. Christen Me finished third in Saturday night’s Wondias Mate at Albion Park. The defeat was a shock one, but considering he drew one on the second line over a mile and was then forced three and four wide in a 27.1 third quarter, the run of the former Miracle Mile winner was full or merit even though the winner, Glenferrie Hood, came off his back inside the final 150 metres to swamp him and leader Ideal Scott. “I thought the run was super. Dexter (Dunn) said he was flying coming off the back,” Dalgety said. “He was a bit jaded yesterday and then again today. “But there was a bit of a bounce in his step this morning as well so I’m happy with where we are at. “I guess initially it probably looked disappointing, but when you break it all down it was a very good run. “And it’s a run which he will improve on. “He tries so hard every time he races so it seems to take a little extra out of him than it might another horse so his recovery is just as important as anything else.” The defeat, and the decision not to race again until the Sunshine Sprint on July 9 means that they will forgo the opportunity to win a $50,000 bonus as part of the UBet Picket Fence initiative. Horses are required to win two races in the lead up July 16, which has been touted as Finale night with four selected races carrying bonuses if their winners have won two races in the lead up the meeting. Christen Me’s bonus was worth $50,000 but Dalgety was happy to now be looking ahead to the two major assignments without any other distraction. “It would be nice, it’s $50,000 after all but the horse owes us nothing so he comes first. “That should ensure now we are ready for the next two races and are firing on all cylinders.” Dalgety is due to return to Christchurch today with Christen Me’s right hand man, Murray Howard taking over the day-to-day control of the pacer in the lead up to the Blacks A Fake. “Muz knows the horse better than anyone. “He’ll have him ready for the big show I’m sure of that.” Back on home soil Dalgety has a race of his own to focus on. He’s currently third on the national trainers’ premiership with 57 wins, but has the Greg and Nina Hope (55), Mark Jones (52) and Phil Williamson (51) stables breathing down his neck.  He’s got 13 horses engaged over three meetings in both the South and North Islands this weekend including unbeaten two-year-old On The Rantan who will look to make it three wins in as many starts in his bonus run in the C1 grade at Addington on Thursday night. Matt Markham

Saturday night has become the “home” of Tabcorp Park Menangle’s metropolitan harness racing meetings each week. Now the Miracle Mile is ready to make the move as well, with the revelation the 2017 Miracle Mile would be run on a Saturday night. While this year’s finale was deemed an outstanding success, the one fault racegoers found was that the Sunday afternoon racing was too hot for both patrons – and horses. So the New South Wales Harness Racing Club this week decided to move the 2017 Miracle Mile to a Saturday night. It will be the 50th running of Australia’s greatest sprint and the club revealed the Sky Carnival of Miracles would be run over the corresponding three weeks with ‘Group One Day’ now becoming ‘Group One Night’. Another significant change announced by the club was that the two qualifying sprints would be run the week before the Miracle Mile. NSWHRC chief executive, Bruce Christison explained this decision was based around the desire to ensure all horses had the best possible opportunity to contest all Grand Circuit events. The move means that there will be a week free of open class group one racing between the Victorian Summer Carnival and Sydney’s Miracle Mile Carnival. “This will give the connections of all horses the opportunity to plan their Grand Circuit campaign knowing there would be a 14-day gap between the Hunter Cup and qualifying sprints,” said Christison. “While the race conditions are still to be finalised, one aspect which will certainly not change is the use of the Chariots of Fire as a qualifying race. “After the record-breaking performance of Have Faith in Me and the amazing run by Arms of Angel, the introduction of the Chariots of Fire as a qualifier for the Miracle Mile was an enormous success.” Christison confirmed the Chariots of Fire would kick off the three-week carnival on Saturday night February 11, with the two sprints to be held a week later on Saturday night, February 18. The highlight, naturally, will be Group One Night on Saturday, February 25, featuring six Group One races and headlined by the Miracle Mile. “While the Sunday Miracle Mile was a winner, one factor the club could not control was the weather and the heat has been an issue over the past four years,” said Christison. “Hopefully the move to Saturday night will solve that problem. “The club is now working on some outstanding promotions to recognise the 50-year history of the event with details to be revealed in coming months.” For further information telephone NSWHRC Chief Executive Bruce Christison on (02) 4645 2200.

All the harness racing pundits trying to predict the outcome of this years $750,000 Sew Eurodrive Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle today agreed on one thing. The margins between the first four leading candidates on paper was so close it became incredibly hard to say with any certainty who would come out on top. Well in one minute, forty seven point five seconds this afternoon, all those questions were well and truly answered. When the dust had settled, boom New Zealand four year old Have Faith In Me had written himself into the record books with a run that will long live in the memories of harness arcing followers in Australasia. As expected the mare Arms Of An Angel from barrier one flew the start and zipped through the first quarter in 26.4 with Beautide and James Rattray on her wheel. Lennytheshark and Chris Alford slotted into a lovely one out trail behind Beautide while Have Faith In Me and Natalie Rasmussen followed Lennytheshark everywhere. Arms Of An Angel kept rolling in front with the next quarter flying by in 27.4 for an opening half of 53.8 and at that speed there was no moves midrace. Incredibly Arms Of An Angel upped the tempo even more down the back straight with a 26.5 quarter and the first to feel the pinch was Beautide, who began to battle at the 400 metres mark. Lennytheshark was quickly out to chase Arms Of An Angel at the top of the straight with Have Faith In Me chasing hard on his back. Half way up the long Menangle straight, Lennytheshark claimed Arms Of An Angel but was immediately challenged by Have Faith In Me and it wasn't until right on the line that the the four year old got his nose in front of a very game Lennytheshark. Arms Of An Angel showed real stamina to stick on for a great third after such a tough run while My Hard Copy from three back inner finished on into fourth. The time of 1:47.5 took 1.6 seconds off the old Miracle Mile race record and is the fastest mile ever run down under. All eight runners in todays Miracle Mile broke 1:50. Natalie Rasmussen was just in awe of what Have Faith In Me had done post race. " This horse is such a big baby still and is a long way from the being complete racehorse, yet he has just run 1:47.5. " He was goofing about at times during the race and paced roughly in the home straight but thats just him at this stage of his career. " I can't believe how good he went considering all the little things he still does wrong during his races." " He will go for a long spell now and I think when he comes back he will be a man and not the boy he is at the moment." " It is hard to imagine how good this horse could be when he finally puts it all together," Natalie told Harnesslink this afternoon. One thing Natalie was sure of was the significance of todays win. " Todays win is a huge career highlight, right up there with some of Blacks A Fakes big wins, Natalie said. Have Faith In Me is by Bettor's Delight and is a full brother to Adore Me 1:47.7 ($1,677,032). He is the twelve foal of the former New Zealand record holder and now champion broodmare Scuse Me 1:53.5, who is by BG's Bunny. Scuse Me has the incredible record of producing 12 foals old enough to race for 12 winners. With today's win Have Faith In Me has now won $1,324,879 from 22 starts, 14 wins 3 seconds and 1 third. The Lennytheshark camp were thrilled with how their horse had gone. Owners Kevin and Mark Riseley were smiling even though they had only been grabbed in the last stride. "He has gone huge and we were thrilled with the performance. "He has broken 1:48 and it has taken a champion sitting on his back to beat him so you can't be disappointed." "We just needed Beautide to take us to the home straight and I think we may have held on but when he stopped at the 400 metres, that left us a bit of a sitting duck." "It was such a great race to be a part of and if we were to be beaten, I am glad it was my other trainers in Mark and Natalie who beat us," Kevin said. Shane Tritton was also upbeat at the run of Arms Of An Angel for third. "Beautide made us work a bit hard early and then again in the second quarter so she never really got a breather."  "That told a bit in the last 200 metres but to hang on and run third was a great effort for such an inexperienced mare." "She has been timed in 1:48.2 and I think there is so much further improvement in Arms Of An Angel that I am already looking forward to next years race with her," Shane said. Todays race was a milestone in harness racing in Australasia. When our major races are being run in 1:47.5 the so called gap between the hemispheres is shrinking quicker than the Arctic. Harnesslink Media

A lot has been written on both sides of the Tasman this week by harness racing pundits on tomorrows Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park, Menangle. The outcome tomorrow is up in the air which is why the race has attracted so much attention from the main stream media this week. Here at Harnesslink we thought we would give our two cents worth on what is shaping up as the race of the season. 1) Arms Of An Angel However you view her chances, there is no doubt that her presence has made the race. She processes blinding speed and the draw to use it and the chances of a sub 1:49 mile with her in the field look almost guaranteed. The big question is can she see off three of the most talented pacers to race in Australasia in the last ten years. We have our doubts. It is very hard for anyone to beat one of the three champions on show but to beat them all when they are all drawn in close seems to big an ask for us for such an inexperienced mare. 2) Monifieth  Has a blinding turn of foot if held up for one late dash at them but this field has so much depth to it that it would appear unlikely he will get that opportunity. He will slot onto Arms Of An Angel's back at the start and follow her everywhere but we still don't think thats enough to make him a major player here. Hard to see in four. 3) Beautide Has already won this race in the past and appears right in the zone for this years race. Jogged a 53.6 half at his last start when cruising home in 1:50.7. Has been placed in 1:49 and has the draw to be in the van the whole way here so hard to see how he doesn't run in the first two here as we see it. The horse to beat from the draw in our opinion. 4) Lennytheshark Drawn to get the run of the race on Beautide's back which makes him a legitimate winning chance here. Has been in great form all season, dominating the Grand Circuit but this is the first time that he has run into Beautide and Have Faith In Me this season and it is going to be one heck of a challenge. Lennytheshark can win with a run to suit but hard to see him making his own luck and beating both Beautide and Have Faith In Me here so Chris Alford will have to be at his very best. 5 Have Faith In Me The question no one can answer yet is just how good is this horse. His win in the Chariots Of Fire where he worked from barrier 10 throughout the race and then had the audacity to run away and hide in 1:48.8 with seemingly plenty left in the tank was one of best runs this writer has ever seen. The ease of the victory in a sub 1:49 time means Have Faith In Me has the ability to work hard in his races and still find plenty at the finish of his races. The horse Beautide has to worry about and a huge winning chance here. 6) My Hard Copy Has had a great year in the west but yet to really translate that into the grand circuit races in the east. An average effort in the Victorian Cup was followed by a good third in the Hunter Cup before again being slightly disappointing in the Cordina Sprint last week. Best left for one run at them but from this draw and in a field of this strength, it is hard to see My Hard Copy being a major player here. 7) Blazin N Cullen Pops up every now and again on the grand circuit but nothing has fallen in his favour here. A wide draw coupled with a red hot field means Blazin N Cullen is up against it before the gate goes. Hard to make a case for him to play any kind of serious part here all things considered. 8) Bling It On A different draw and his prospects would change dramatically. The mile is his go but barrier eight is a death sentence for his winning chances. Has blinding speed so you can't discount him getting a small piece of it but not known for doing plenty of extra work in a race and still winning so hard to see how he is a big player here. SELECTIONS The draw leans us towards the established champion Beautide but only by the smallest of margins over the budding champion, Have Faith In Me. For us these two champions look to have a small edge here over Lennytheshark and Arms Of A Angel but the gap is small and the run they get will count. Those four look to have the draws to suit and a class edge on some of the others. Bling It On if you are looking for something to spice up those multiples. Harnesslink Media  

DueE to the extreme temperature expected for south-western Sydney on Thursday, Harness Racing New South Wales has announced there will be a change for runners engaged in Sunday's Miracle Mile. Horses competing in Sunday's $750,000 event were originally required to report to the Retention Barn at Tabcorp Park Menangle by 1pm on Thursday but with the temperature predicted to reach 43 degrees, horses will now be required to attend by Friday 9am. Chief Operating Officer Reid Sanders confirmed the change on Wednesday. "HRNSW acknowledges the importance of the level playing field for all participants and hence the use of the Retention Barns, however we are also very mindful of equine welfare and with the predicted heat and horses having to travel, we have elected to amend the entry time. We strongly believe this will in no way effect the integrity of the Retention Barn's effectiveness," Sanders said. Horses engaged in Sunday's NSW Derby, NSW Oaks and Ladyship Mile will all be required to attend the HRNSW Training Facility by 12pm (midday) Friday. There is no change to these requirements. Horses will remain under the supervision of HRNSW until released to the raceday stables 2 hours prior to the race. Greg Hayes

The Miracle Mile holds a special place in the heart of John McCarthy. And it ranks above races like the Queensland Pacing Championship and the Treuer Memorial, harness racing events in which his family stable has dominated during the past decade. The McCarthy clan have won the QPC  eight of the past ten editions of the sunshine state feature, technically nine because they shared in the ownership of current winner Our Hi Jinx while grand campaigner Washakie won the Treuer Memorial five years running (2009/13). But it’s still the Miracle Mile that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s Australia’s signature speed test, born in 1967 at the famous Glebe half mile circuit of Harold Park before finding its current home at the expansive and spacious surrounds of Tabcorp Park Menangle, in Sydney’s south-west. Like many, McCarthy vividly remembers tuning into the coverage on the ABC when he was based at Bathurst and being left awestruck by the performances from the victors and the vanquished. McCarthy dared to dream about competing and winning a Miracle Mile and that became a reality in 2005 when his champion pacer Be Good Johnny saluted at Harold Park downing his quasi stablemate Slipnslide, prepared by his son Luke. It was sheer jubilation and utter exhilaration on that November night when surrounded by family and friends after claiming the main event with a one/two result. Twelve months later, McCarthy would strike again and win with Be Good Johnny. This Sunday afternoon, McCarthy heads to Menangle with two invited runners ready to compete in the nation’s best sprint race. Two New Zealand bred geldings, Monifieth and Blazin N Cullen, raced by Perth businessman and longtime stable client Kevin Jeavons, will represent his stable. And the first reserve for the $750,000 feature, Lord Zin Zan is also prepared by McCarthy and co-owned by Jeavons just for good measure. Monifieth booked his ticket to the big dance following his come from behind victory in the Gr.1 $200,000 Cordina Sprint while Blazin N Cullen finished strongly to grab second behind Beautide in the second qualifier, the Coca Cola Sprint two weeks ago. While both are considered longshots by bookies, McCarthy will share centre stage with two of his sons, eldest son Luke and his youngest Todd will be right alongside him. McCarthy will partner Monifieth with Todd booked to drive Blazin N Cullen while Luke will take the drive on Bling It On, prepared by his wife Belinda. And for Todd, this is his first ever drive in a Miracle Mile. “This is a dream come true, anybody who follows harness racing or the trots knows what the Miracle Mile is and I can’t wait to get out there, and to be with dad and Luke is something very special. I know dad even said if Zin Zan secures a start, he’ll fly Andy back from North America.” A beaming Todd McCarthy said. The rise of the youngest McCarthy has been nothing short of sensational since relocating back to Sydney after getting started in Brisbane. In fact, all three McCarthy boys kicked off their harness racing careers in Queensland, and their natural ability has stood out like a beacon. Both Luke and Andrew have consistently showcased their obvious talent both here and abroad with Andy still based in North America where he is an in-demand freelance reinsman on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania circuits. During their stint in Queensland, the McCarthy stable rose to stardom quickly and continued to produce top talent season after season. But while John, Luke and Andy worked hard at their craft, young Todd was more interested in everything but horses which included football, motorbikes and anything else with wheels. Given an ultimatum of school or working with the horses, Todd reluctantly chose the latter and landed his maiden success at the now defunct Parklands track on the Gold Coast on April 16, 2010 aboard Count The Cards. “I wasn’t big on school and the horses seemed like the better option at the time, looking back, I think it definitely worked out for the better. Once Luke had his own stable going and Andy moved to North America, I just seemed to relax and enjoy it a lot more. “Growing up in Brisbane was great fun and starting my career up there was the best thing for me because when we moved back to Sydney a few years back, I believe I had the right grounding to really kick-start my career. “The big track at Menangle is the best track in the country and I love competing there, I’ve worked hard to build my contacts with owners and trainers and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received. I’m really looking forward to Sunday.” After tying with Luke last season in the Sydney metropolitan driver’s premiership, Todd has a clear lead in the state driver’s premiership this season and is set to crack a century of wins any day now. He currently sits third in the national driver’s premiership with only Chris Alford and Shane Graham ahead of him. On Sunday, he has a book of seven drives on the nine race program including Yayas Hot Spot, Gina Grace (Oaks), Frith (Ladyship Mile), Code Black (Derby), Blazin N Cullen (Miracle Mile), Idle Bones (Trotters Cup) and Cyclone Kate. “It’s a great book and I’m really lucky to be given so many excellent opportunities, I think all of my drives have a chance with some more than others. “I’m tipping the celebrations will be big if I’m lucky enough to win one of the majors on the day, that will cap a great week for me and I’ve got mum and dad to thank for it.” Todd celebrates his 23rd birthday today (Wednesday). by Chris Barsby

Star Tasmanian harness racing pacer Beautide has firmed as favourite to win his second Miracle Mile after the James Rattray-trained gelding drew gate three for the $750,000 Group 1 race at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday. Beautide spent about a year recovering from a leg injury but he proved he was back to his best by winning a Coca-Cola Sprint at Menangle two weeks ago. UBET has Beautide favourite at $2.60 but only slightly ahead of recent Inter Dominion winner Lennytheshark ($2.80) and the highly promising four-year-old Have Faith In Me ($3). "I am really happy with his draw because coming out of three we only have the pole marker (Arms of an Angel) and Lennytheshark directly outside of us to contend with early," Rattray said. "Beau has done really well since his Coca-Cola Sprint win so if we can find the front then he's a good chance of winning his second Miracle Mile." Beautide is unbeaten from three starts this preparation and he is contesting his third Miracle Mile having won at his first attempt in 2013, he was second to Christen Me the following year and the race was not held last year. This year's event is packed full of quality with the reigning Inter Dominion winner in it along with boom four-year-old Have Faith In Me who recorded a mile rate of 1.48.8 in winning the Chariots of Fire (1609m) at his most recent outing. Beautide clocked a mile rate of 1.50.7 on the same day in winning his Coca-Cola Sprint to secure his Miracle Mile berth. "Have Faith In Me's mile rate was excellent in winning his race but Beau wasn't pushed right out to win his race and there is improvement in him," Rattray said. The Miracle Mile is race seven on the card and is scheduled to start at 4.30 pm. Peter Staples

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

Harness Racing New South Wales advises that it will utilise HRNSW Retention Facilities for all horses, including emergencies, entered in the following Group 1 races to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday 28 February 2016: SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile Coca-Cola Amatil NSW Derby Form 700 NSW Oaks Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile Horses entered in the SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile will be housed within the HRNSW Retention Facility and must be presented at the facility prior to 1pm on Thursday 25 February 2016. Horses entered in the Coca-Cola Amatil NSW Derby, Form 700 NSW Oaks and the Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile will be housed in separate barns within the HRNSW Training Facility and must be presented at the facility prior to 12 midday on Friday 26 February 2016. All trainers with horses entered for these races will be notified by HRNSW of the requirements for presentation of their respective horses at the retention facilities. Horses will remain under the supervision of HRNSW until released to the raceday stables 2 hours prior to the race. If you have any questions please contact the Integrity Department of HRNSW. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Reid Sanders

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