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Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr rates King Of Swing’s triumph in Saturday night’s Miracle Mile as one of his finest moments in harness racing. The former West Australian pacer’s completed his rise to the top echelon of the Free-For-All ranks in Australasia rating a dazzling 1.48.0 for the famous Menangle mile. Hall Snr, who owns a share in the five-year-old with his partner Karen, said winning a Miracle Mile had been a long-term goal. “That’s right up there for me,” he told TABradio. “For me to win a Miracle Mile, it has been on my bucket list for years. “I’ve run a third and a fourth in it but I’ve never looked like winning it. “Quinny (Im Themightyquinn) wasn’t really a miler.” King Of Swing had 13 starts prior to joining Hall Snr’s stable in March 2018 and won the WA Derby at just his second start in the state. The son of Rocknroll Hanover then endured a frustrating campaign in the second half of 2019 and Hall Snr, along with the other owners, elected to send the five-year-old to New South Wales. He has now won four of his five starts under the care of Cross and Hall Snr said he couldn’t believe how well he adapted to racing at the top level, given his lacklustre form at Gloucester Park. “He just wasn’t competitive at all when he wasn’t in front,” he said. “You’ve got to admire Luke (McCarthy) and Craig Cross and the job they’ve done with the horse. “He’s focused and all he wants to do is win.” Hall Snr said King Of Swing would now likely be aimed at the Len Smith Mile or a potential trip to Queensland, with a long range plan of getting him to the Inter Dominion series later in the year. Meanwhile, Golden Nugget winner Shockwave is a chance of making a return to the track in Friday night’s Group 2 4&5YO Championship (2130m). The Ryan Bell-trained pacer was desperately unlucky in the WA Pacing Cup and hasn’t been seen since.   Tim Walker

YOU could hardly call it a hoodoo . . .not when you are renowned as one of the champions of your sport. Yet star reinsman Luke McCarthy certainly got a monkey off his back with a magnificent victory in tonight's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. West Australian pacer King Of Swing defied all the efforts of star four-year-old Lochinvar Art to run him down as he scored a stirring two-and-a-half metre win over the Chariots Of Fire winner with the winner's stablemate Alta Orlando a head back in third place. The winner ran a stunning 1:48.0 mile to join an elite list of pacers to have won the Hunter Cup and the Miracle Mile in the same season. King Of Swing also joined champions such as Mount Eden, Royal Force, Pure Steel, Preux Chevalier, Village Kid and Norms Daughter who have made the long journey from Western Australia to win Australasia's greatest sprint race. McCarthy was always excited to be driving a horse he described as a "machine" . . . and a versatile one at that. The race threw up the first surprise when Majordan tore across from the outside draw to take up the running. No sooner had he settled there when McCarthy took on his brother with King Of Swing and found the front in a slick 28.8s first quarter of the mile. He didn't get much peace in front though as Lochinvar Art (David Moran) kept at him for most of the race. "We always knew he had ability when he won a Derby in WA," explained part-owner Glen Moore. "Trainer Gary Hall senior recommended we send him over to Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy and we had confidence in their ability to run him around as we felt it could be an attitude problem. "We thought the cross and McCarthy team could rejuvenate him and they have certainly done the job. "We're pinching ourselves as to what this horse has done in winning three groups one races in recent weeks and the things this horse has not only done but may go on to do." McCarthy looked slightly stunned by his win: "Thanks for trusting me with the drive and Gary Hall senior for sending us the horse. He knew how good this horse was and he wasn't putting his best foot forward [in WA]," he said. "To give us a crack with him and to win the Hunter Cup and now the Miracle Mile, well it's a dream come true. "I've been trying for a long time to win this race so it is a special thrill to win it - at last."   Club Menangle

The Miracle Mile is “the race” to win, says champion harness horseman Lance Justice.  He acknowledges “it’s not very Victorian of me” but Justice, 60, grew up full of admiration for the New South Wales based Australian Grand Circuit sprint. “It’s a special race,” he said. And Justice knows how to win one. In fact he knows how to win four. Since the turn of the millennium, Justice has produced four of Victoria’s five Miracle Mile winners – Sokyola back-to-back in 2003 and ‘04 and Smoken Up in 2010 and ’11. “I’d finally done something in harness racing that actually stood out,” he said this week recalling the moments immediately following his first Miracle Mile win in ’03. He was sitting in the sulky behind Sokyola and he realised he'd made it. He'd joined a list of drivers that he always saw as "immortal".  The build-up to the 2003 Miracle Mile was an interesting journey for Justice.  For starters he had to sweat as invites were handed out one by one before Sokyola was finally awarded his ticket very late.  “I didn’t think they were going to put him in. It was like they weren’t taking his Victorian form into account,” Justice said. At the eleventh hour officials extended the dream offer. And come race night, Justice prevailed. A different era, the fledgling pre-race coverage of the day on Sky Channel saw drivers asked for their tactics heading into that Miracle Mile. Justice remembers feeling like everyone had forgotten Sokyola possessed early toe. “He’d been drawing the back row a lot due to the system we had at the time. They said to me, ‘Sokyola’s not renowned for his gate speed is he?’,” Justice recalls. “I responded, ‘I’m just happy to be here’.” But Justice knew what was under the hood and largely his tactics had been decided in his mind, but he was still refining his thinking very late – in fact during the pre-race warm-up. “I got out on the track with Sokyola and I was running him down the front straight and I looked at the signs on the outside fence. There was an airline company sign, I think maybe Qantas, and I looked it and thought if I could aim for the tail of the aeroplane on that sign I knew I’d have some breathing space to get across the field at the start,” he said. Sure enough Justice and Sokyola jetted off the arm, gunned it to the tail end of that sign and glided across the face of the field to assume the top. “Being the last one invited the last thing I wanted to do was knock them over in the Miracle Mile,” he said. In the run Justice was measured, a couple of times having to hold himself back from launching too early.  “I remember going down the back straight and thinking I had the favourite (The Falcon Strike) beaten. He’d loomed up and started to eyeball me and said to me, ‘I’m taking the top’. I said no you’re not and we went just outside the track record. “I thought I might kick for home ... but instead I said no, count to three. "Then I told myself don’t panic coming off the back and so I counted to three again. Then I asked him to stride.”  And stride like a superstar did Sokyola. Game over. He ripped home for a famous win as a $14 outsider. “I was actually a bit overwhelmed when I first got there (that night). I looked at the racebook and thought I was getting $12,000 minimum for going around. Win, lose or draw he’s a winner for being here already.” Twelve months later Sokyola and Justice were back in town and chasing another Miracle, but this time Justice was confined to the grandstand after copping a suspension in the lead-up at Yarra Valley. “It was shattering,” Justice said of the ban. “I took it to appeal and the judge only had to lift one day off so I could drive, but they wouldn’t allow it.” Justice needed a catch driver for Sokyola and he turned to Jodi Quinlan. “She’s a really good driver and I wanted to factor in the weight, too. Jodi weighs nothing,” he said. This time around Sokyola was the first horse invited and drew gate one, almost a complete reversal compared to the build-up the year prior. Except the end result was the same. “The two hardest things to do in the Miracle Mile are firstly, get into the field, and secondly draw a good gate,” Justice said. Most would agree you can probably throw in a third task. Winning it. Sokyola and Quinlan led, controlled the first half of the mile in 59.2seconds before dashing home in 56.7secs for a comfortable win. “It was funny because after the win I went down to give Jodi a hug and she was heavier because it turns out she had all these lucky charms on,” Justice laughed.  “She had a horseshoe and other things around her neck… I’m thinking I’ve put her on to save weight and she’s carrying 20kg worth of charms!” Six years later and Justice claimed his third Miracle Mile, this time behind stable champion Smoken Up (aka Trigger). And Justice was supremely confident. “I just had a feeling he’d win," he said. "He was racing really good, he loved Menangle, and the year before people forget he’d actually run third in the Inter Dominion final there (at Menangle) and second in the Miracle Mile the year before when Melpark Major sat outside him and took us on all the way. “We were a sitting shot to get beaten at the end that year and Monkey King dived at us on the post. Smoken Up’s run was huge. I just knew he was going to win.” To secure his third victory however Smoken Up would have to overcome mighty Queenslander Blacks A Fake.  “Blackie drew well. I drew outside him and straight away I knew I was going to have trouble leading Blackie,” Justice said. “He was one horse I’d struggle leading. I could muscle across pretty much all the others, but Blackie was one I struggled to get across because he was just so dominant and strong.” So Justice hatched a plan. "I decided I was going to come out of the gate without trying to even get the front. I drove to beat Blacks A Fake, that’s all. I sat outside him, I made sure every quarter the pressure was enough for Blackie not to be comfortable.” Justice said Blacks A Fake was always under a touch of pressure during the run.   “Smoken Up could do that – he could worry a horse to death when sitting outside. Lots of horses just don’t like another horse niggling away at them the whole time.” When Mr Feelgood launched down the back straight to make a line of three upfront, Justice said that actually aided Smoken Up’s cause. “It helped because Smoken Up worked up to the other horse even more and Blackie didn’t appreciate it," he said.  Turning for home Blackie and Smoken Up were neck-a-neck and they duly engaged in one of the most memorable one-on-one stoushes of all time up the straight. It was only in the shadows of the post, when both charges had dug well beyond their reserves and were pulsing on sheer guts and determination, that Smoken Up got his head in front for the narrowest of victories. “It’s strength and it's instinct,” Justice said. “So many races Smoken Up turned for home with horses all around him and you just knew when they got to the post when the others had enough, they just couldn’t last like he could.” The last of Justice’s Miracle Miles to date came in 2011 as Smoken Up made it back-to-back wins after overcoming an early shock. Drawing gate one, most had envisaged Smoken Up would be leading early doors. But Trigger’s West Australian foe Im Themightyquinn crossed him soon after the mobile arms folded back. “It was purely pilot error,” Justice admits. “Mighty Quinn was hanging back at the start so I thought I’d get the same flyer as him. Smoken Up wasn’t that sort of horse though. He was a horse that liked to be up on the gate and just storm out at top speed. I tried to turn him into a horse to get a fly-in and it didn’t work. “When the gate went Mighty Quinn got past and actually contacted our legs getting by. He did exactly what I didn’t want to do on Sokyola in that first Miracle Mile. “He (Gary Hall Jr) knew I was upset with him so I suppose he expected me to take it out on him.”  Justice peeled straight off the fence and drove forward. “I went up to say, ‘OK Mighty Quinn, let’s see how good you are’, because we had a good rivalry and we had a lot of fun. I was going to do the same as I did to Blacks A Fake, but instead Mighty Quinn just handed straight up to me.” Justice found himself in front and jammed on the brakes. “I thought I’d probably gutted him a little bit early trying to do that fly thing, then working around, so I thought I’d have a little rest. That’s not the best thing for Smoken Up but it worked all right.” In the straight Smoken Up kicked on strongly, having the measure of Im Themightyquinn, and fending off a late and rather unexpected challenge from veteran Karloo Mick. “When he (Karloo Mick) loomed up to my wheel I thought, ‘no you don’t, you’re too old to win’. He kept coming and I thought he can’t win. I kept thinking ‘you should not be there’... But we held him off and I looked back to Mighty Quinn and he was just floundering.”  And just like that Justice was a four-time Miracle Mile champion. “It is pretty special looking back,” he said. “I was standing outside the drivers’ room at Menangle one night and Brian Hancock walked up, and for all the winners he’d had, he’d never driven a Miracle Mile winner. He said he would have given his eye teeth to drive a winner in that race. "It’s the race to win.” The 2020 Miracle Mile will be held on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle with Lochinvar Art and Code Bailey carrying Victoria's hopes of victory.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

EVERYTHING points to Chariots Of Fire Lochinvar Art running a mighty race in Saturday night’s $1 million Miracle Mile, except the wide barrier. In the four years since the Chariots Of Fire was run before the Miracle Mile and became a “feeder” race for it, every Chariots winner has finished top three. It started with the All Stars’ Have Faith In Me who won the big double 2016. Then followed: Lazarus (third to Lennytheshark in 2017); Jilliby Kung Fu (second to My Field Marshal in 2018) and Poster Boy (third to Spankem last year). Trainer-driver David Moran insists he’s got Lochinvar Art “as good as ever”, but, like everyone, he’s worried about the wide draw (he’ll start from gate seven). “I’ve got a few days for it to sink in … it certainly doesn’t look any better than it did when they drew it (last) Saturday night,” Moran said. “I’ve tossed a lot of options around in my head, but I don’t think I can go forward early. I can’t see gaps appearing when you’ve got so many quick beginners like King Of Swing, Alta Orlando, Majordan and others. “I’m pretty much resigned to settling back in the last couple and then you’re in the hands of others … I’ll need them to go really hard up front to have any chance of getting into it. “He’s versatile, but there’s only so much you can do from a draw like that in a sprint race.” Moran said Lochinvar Art has thrived through his first few months in the big league, which included a Hunter Cup run. “He’s loving it. He’s one of those horses who loves the hard racing and gets better for it,” he said. “He’s as good as I can have him going into this week and he’ll need to be from the draw.” Lochinvar Art has been the biggest drifter on the Aussie TAB since markets re-opened after the barrier draw. He’s out from $3.80 to $5. AG’s White Socks (gate one) has also eased from $5 to $6 and even the favourite, King Of Swing (four) is out from $2.80 to $3.10. Alta Orlando ($21 into $9.50), Code Bailey ($6.50 into $5.50) and even Newcastle Mile winner Majordan ($14 to $11) have been the firmers.   Adam Hamilton

Two of harness racing’s greatest rivals will join forces for the first time to try and win Saturday’s $1million Miracle Mile.  In a surprise move that turns back the clock Kiwi driver Mark Purdon will drive Alta Orlando in the great race at Menangle, even though he is trained by one of his fiercest rivals in Cross.  Cross and quasi training partner Luke McCarthy are riding the crest of a wave, having won the Hunter Cup last month and both Miracle Mile preludes last Saturday.  They are undoubtedly the strongest open class stable in Australia whereas Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen have the strongest stable in Australasia, filled with open class stars.  But after a horror run with injuries, including having two Miracle Mile contenders ruled out of the carnival last Thursday, Purdon who won the race last year driving Spankem thought he would be watching it from the stables this season.  Until he got the call up to drive the heavily-backed Alta Orlando through an unusual set of circumstances.  Todd McCarthy drove Alta Orlando to beat My Field Marshal in their $100,000 Prelude last Saturday but is committed to Newcastle Mile winner Majordan, trained by Kevin Pizzuto who he does so much driving for.  Luke McCarthy chose to drive Alta Orlando’s stablemate King Of Swing because he has the better draw and John Dunn, who used to drive Alta Orlando in NZ, was offered the drive.  But he has opted to stick with Bettor’s Heart, trained by his uncle Peter Bagrie so the Alta Orlando drive was up for grabs again.  Remarkably Purdon was the first trainer of Alta Orlando and as a three-year-old he finished third in the prestigious NZ Sires Stakes Final to stablemate Have Faith In Me way back in 2014, who went on to win a Miracle Mile.  Alta Orlando broke down soon after and it was thought he was finished as a racing proposition until he resumed his career two years later trained by Dunn’s father Robert.  He then ended up with Cross and has risen to new heights at Menangle where the relentless racing style suits him. Ironically the last time Purdon drove Alta Orlando was nearly six years ago when he finished last in a minor race, won by a horse driven by John Dunn. “We are thrilled to have Mark on, everybody knows what a good driver he is,” said McCarthy.  “He has driven the winner of every big race you can think of and while I think King Of Swing is Craig’s best chance of winning on Saturday night if Alta Orlando is sitting in the one-one or handy he can beat us.” Michael Guerin

He ran his rivals ragged in winning tonight's $100,000 Allied Express Sprint at Menangle. Now the Craig Cross-trained King Of Swing is ready to assume favouritism for next week's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. To be driven by champion reinsman Luke McCarthy, King Of Swing drew the ideal gate four and may come into three when second emergency Sicario is withdrawn before the big race. King Of Swing has shown stunning gate speed at his recent starts and the former West Australian has thrived since linking with the Cross stable and looks likely to chase an all-the-way win. Former winner My Field Marshall and his trainer Tim Butt will also be feeling on top of the world after the 2018 winner draw gate two, giving his reinsman Anthony Butt plenty of options and likely to take a trail after he attempted to lead all the way and was edged out by Craig Cross's other hope, Alta Orlando in the Schweppes Sprint. The final field, in barrier order is: 1. A Gs WHITE SOX  2. MY FIELD MARSHAL  3. SICARIO (2ND em)  4. KING OF SWING  5. CODE BAILEY 6. BETTORS HEART 7. THE BLACK PRINCE (1ST em) 8. ALTA ORLANDO 9. LOCHINVAR ART 10. MAJORDAN Earlier slick times were the order of the night and earlier the Allied Express and Schweppes Sprints did not disappoint with fantastic wins by two of Craig Cross' Miracle Mile hopes in King Of Swing and Alta Orlando. The McCarthy brothers, Luke and Todd, did their jobs as they surged into serious Miracle Mile calculation with impressive wins. King Of Swing was taken straight to the front by Luke and ran his rivals off their legs, rating a slashing 1:49.6 in beating Code Bailey and A Gs White Sox by two metre in the $100,000 Allied Express Sprint. The first two home joined Newcastle Mile winner Majordan and Chariots Of Fire star Lochinvar Art in securing invitations to the "Big Dance", the $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile next Saturday night. The Black Prince also caught the eye, making up many lengths in the straight to finish fourth after settling back near last. That was enough to earn him a reserve spot for the big race. The $100,000 Schweppes Sprint was run a bit differently, with former MM winner My Field Marshal taking advantage of his ideal draw in one to hold the lead for Anthony Butt, despite an early challenge from Alta Orlando from gate five. The race worked out perfectly for Todd McCarthy and Alta Orlando as he was able to duck in behind My Field Marshal and secure a great run into the race. Turning for home Our Uncle Sam, who raced without cover, was tending to drop out of contention, giving Alta Orlando the perfect opportunity to jump off the pegs and score an easy 4.2m win over My Field Marshal with the surprise of the race, Sicario, looming into third, one and a half metres further back, just ahead of the perennially unlucky Hail Christian. The winner rated an even 1:50, although runner-up Anthony Butt would have been quite content in the knowledge he had qualified for another crack at a Miracle Mile with the fastest horse ever to win the race, the 2018 winner My Field Marshal. The $200,000 Boden Projects Ladyship Mile was another highlight of the big night when Kiwi mare Bettors Heart (John Dunn) dived on the line to score the narrowest of wins over Bettor Enforce, robbing Luke McCarthy of his second Group One of the night. Our Princess Tiffany came from well back to grab third, just in front of Belle Of Montana. A scintillating mile rate of 1:49.7 hurtled Bettors Heart into contention for the Miracle Mile and gave Kiwi reinsman John Dunn, the brother of another champion reinsman, Dexter Dunn, his biggest win outside of New Zealand. Trainer Peter Bagrie has been stabled with Shane and Lauren Tritton for the past week and gave the champion pair much of the credit for their mighty win. "Shane has been a terrific help to me this week in getting this mare ready to run the race of her life. We weren't certain she had got there but she has done a great job for us both in New Zealand and here and she didn't let us down," said Bagrie.   Club Menangle

The All Stars have suffered a scarcely believable double blow to two of their open class elite on the eve of the Miracle Mile preludes.  Both Self Assured and Chase Auckland will miss the carnival and in the latter’s case possibly a lot more after a terrible morning at Menangle on Thursday.  Self Assured, the one-time Miracle Mile favourite, is out of the carnival and will return home to New Zealand after an abscess was found in a hoof.  “I started to worry about him on Wednesday night but it was worse this morning and he definitely can’t race this week or next,” said Purdon.  “So he will head home but I don’t think it is a serious so he might be back racing for the Taylor Mile and Messenger (late April).  “But it is very disappointing.” As bad as that was the news is much worse for Chase Auckland who may have suffered a more serious injury.  “He was working on the track here when he jumped upwards about 100m from the finish of his workout and straight away I knew something was wrong.  “I took him straight back into the barn and we had the vet look at him and it doesn’t appear to be a leg issue.  “But we are suspicious it could be a problem with his pelvis. “We don’t know at this stage so he will go to Sydney University for more tests there but I’d say he will be out for the season and maybe more,” said Purdon. The double disaster leaves A G’s White Socks, Mach Shard and I’m Another Masterpiece as the three open class pacers chasing a Miracle Mile spot in the preludes at Menangle on Saturday night although the likes of Princess Tiffany, Belle Of Montana and Bettors Heart could win their way in with a fast time winning the $200,000 Ladyship Mile.   Michael Guerin

A dramatic work morning in Sydney has seen SELF ASSURED and CHASE AUCKLAND out of the Miracle Mile carnival. A foot abcess has appeared with Self Assured who will be flown home for a spell after a busy campaign. Chase Auckland is suspected to have cracked or fractured a pelvis. He is headed to Sydney University for further tests.   Courtesy of All Stars Stables  

THE countdown to the Miracle Mile really hots up at Menangle on Saturday night. The All Stars’ Chase Auckland (gate 11) clashes with former Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal (nine), the flying Alta Orlando (10), brilliant miler Majordan (eight) and classy Ignatius (seven) in the mile free-for-all. While it’s not a Miracle Mile qualifier, it could certainly help reshape betting on Australasia’s premier sprint race on March 7. It’s got all the potential for a blistering time with Majordan appearing a certain leader, but others realising they can’t leave him along as happened when he won easily last Saturday night. The Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy team settled on Alta Orlando as their runner this week out of their team of Miracle Mile contenders. “Alta Orlando’s had a frustrating time with missing the trip to Perth and then being scratched with something minor from the Hunter Cup. He’s raring to go,” McCarthy said. “King Of Swing will go straight to the qualifying sprints (February 29) and we’re still tossing-up where Bling It On and Cash N Flow will have their next runs.” __________________________________________________________________________________________ SUDDENLY buzz NSW pacer Balraj is under the pump. The former Kiwi created a huge stir winning his first eight NSW runs, but had to work hard in slick time to lead last week’s Paleface Adios Sprint then tired to finish ninth. He’s on the quick back-up in this Saturday night’s Paleface Adios just to try and make the Chariots Of Fire field, but has the outside draw (gate 12) to overcome. Sure there’s no Self Assured this week, but it’s still a high-class field of Chariots hopefuls including Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin trio Hurricane Harley (three), Fourbigmen (two) and Out To Play (eight). Other key players include Make Way (gate five), Grant Dixon’s former Kiwi Henry Hu (four) and polemarker Culture King. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE three placegetters from the Victoria Derby clash again at Menangle on Saturday night. Anthony Butt’s winner Line Up and third placegetter Perfect Stride (seven) are their along with Grant Dixon’s Governor Jujon, who ran second in Victoria. Under the preferential draw, Line Up has gate 10, Governor Jujon 11 and Perfect Stride a slight advantage in seven. In an interesting move, tough Victorian Youaremy Sunshine, who ran fourth in the Victoria Derby, has moved to the Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy barn and has gate eight. It’s a ripper race and thankfully over 2300m ahead of the heats of the Derby in a couple of weeks. Another star three-year-old, Stylish Memphis, also steps out at the meeting after being a late scratching last weekend. The prepost NSW Oaks favourite has drawn the pole against older, but largely inferior rivals in the third race over a mile. __________________________________________________________________________________________ BARRY Purdon already has prepost favourite Belle On Montana on target for the Ladyship Mile and unleashes his second-stringer, Havtime, at Menangle this week. Havtime has drawn wide (gate nine) in the $50,000 Group 2 Sibelia Stakes (1609m) in a talent-packed field. The one to beat is definitely Craig Cross’ much-improved Bettor Enforce (gate 11), who went so close to upsetting Belle Of Montana in the Ladyship Cup at Melton on Hunter Cup night.    Adam Hamilton

The Chairman of Club Menangle, Mr Robert Marshall has advised that the harness racing 2020 Miracle Mile Carnival will undergo some exciting changes for 2020. The revised program provides a calendar of events which will add a new level of excitement in the lead-up to Ainsworth Miracle Mile night on Saturday 7 March 2020. The Calendar commences on Friday 21 February with the running of the Group 1 Newcastle Mile. The winner of the Newcastle mile will receive an automatic invitation into the Miracle Mile. The opening night of the Carnival on 22 February at Tabcorp Park Menangle will see: The Group 1 Cordina Chicken Farms “Chariots of Fire”, with a purse of $200,000; The Group 2 Robin Dundee Stakes (mares), with a purse of $50,000; Heats of the NSW Oaks, with heats at $20,000; The Keystone Del Trotters FFA, with a purse of $20,000; and Three Divisions of the Divided Pace     As the Carnival moves to its second night on 29 February, the focus will move to “Ladies Night”. Club Menangle will host “Fashions on the Field” on this night. The key Miracle Mile qualifying races (the Group 1 Allied Express Sprint and the Group 1 Schweppes Sprint – both worth $100,000) will be held on Night Two, presenting an outstanding opportunity for the fillies and mares with: The Group 2 Pink Bonnet for two-year old fillies at $50,000;  The Group 1 NSW Oaks at $200,000; and  The time-honoured Ladyship Mile at $200,000 Night Two will also include the heats of the NSW Derby at $20,000. As the Carnival moves to its third night and climax on 7 March, some mouth-watering racing events head the program. The Group 1 $1m Miracle Mile; The Group 1 NSW Derby at $200,000; A Group 1 FFA at $100,000; The Group 2 Sapling Stakes at $50,000; A Group 1 Trotters Mile at $50,000; and The Tanya Harris, a new Group 3 race for four-year old mares at $30,000.  In the 2020 Miracle Mile Carnival, Club Menangle has programmed over a third of the Group races for fillies and mares. An added incentive to purchase fillies at the forthcoming sales. With ten Group 1 races, three Group 2 races and a Group 3 race programmed, we have a bonanza of racing with a baker’s dozen, plus one for good measure. Fourteen Group races over the 2020 Miracle Mile Carnival. All leading to the $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile. Then all eyes turn to the Sydney APG Sales to be held the next day on Sunday, 8 March. A mouth- watering month saluting the standardbred in New South Wales.  

There is a silver lining to Tiger Tara’s season-ending defeat in Saturday night’s $1million Ainsworth Miracle Mile.  Because the New South Wales pacing hero will now definitely return for next season even though he will mix it with stud duties. And that means he is almost certainly heading back to Addington for another shot at the New Zealand Cup.   After crushing wins in the Victoria and Hunter Cups and the Inter Dominion this season Tiger Tara was never a factor at Menangle on Saturday night, settling back and struggling to make ground as Spankem led throughout to win easily.  The defeat takes nothing away from Tiger Tara’s wonderful season but had he won the Mile there almost could have been a feeling of nothing left to achieve, as well as the obvious boost to his already commercial future stallion career.  But trainer Kevin Pizzuto says the rising nine-year-old will do both next season, with the main concentration being on racing.  “He has had a wonderful season but it is time for a break,” said Pizzuto.  “He can have 6-8 weeks off and then he will come back and almost certainly have a decent New Zealand campaign next spring.  “But he will definitely be back racing as well as doing so stud duty.”  That likely means another tilt at the New Zealand Cup, which Tiger Tara has been placed in three times, in November before staying in New Zealand since the Inter Dominion will be in Auckland in December.   But he will mix those racing obligations with stud duties, not that he will actually do both at the same time.  Because harness racing has artificial insemination, which is not allowed in thoroughbred breeding, Pizzutto can have semen collected from Tiger Tara in the off-season and used to kick start his commercial stallion career next breeding season before making that the full time focus when he retires from racing. “We did a bit of that this season just as a little tester and he already had six mares in foal,” explains Pizzutto.  “So for any broodmare owners who want to breed to him he will be available at $5000 for next season but we can collect all the semen and then race him on.” That is great news for harness fans and administrators alike as Tiger Tara is the biggest drawcard in the industry and a clash between him, the plethora of All Stars pacers and the likes of Poster Boy would be gold for races like the Inter Dominion, Hunter Cup and even next season’s Miracle Mile.   Michael Guerin

Champion horseman Mark Purdon has added another Grand Circuit event to his record. Purdon took the winning drive behind star four-year-old Spankem to claim the $1 million Ainsworth Miracle Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle when leading throughout to defeat stablemate Thefixer and Poster Boy in a time of 1:47.7. It’s the first time Purdon has driven a Miracle Mile winner. Back in 2016, Have Faith In Me scored for the All Stars stable when handled by Natalie Rasmussen. Amazingly, the Miracle Mile was considered as an afterthought after missing the recent Chariots of Fire, Spankem showed his class and toughness after claiming the Canadian Club Sprint qualifier a week ago before scoring last night (Saturday). Boasting three runners in the event, the All Stars stable finished 1st, 2nd and 4th in the country’s premier sprint race. Spankem, a son of Bettors Delight, becomes only the 7th four-year-old to win the Miracle Mile since its inception back in 1967 and joins the likes of Mount Eden, Gundary Flyer, Westburn Grant, Iraklis, Christian Cullen and Have Faith In Me. New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer showed early speed from gate two and headed off Poster Boy while Spankem pushed forward quickly from his wide draw (gate 6) and found the lead before the end of the first quarter. The opening split was timed in 26.9 seconds. Spankem settled perfectly in front with Thefixer sitting behind him while Poster Boy and Chase Auckland also rode the pegs. My Alpha Rock was left facing the breeze with his stablemate Yayas Hot Spot landing one out/one back cover while current Grand Circuit leader Tiger Tara sat last on the outside. Defending champion My Field Marshal drifted back to the rear soon after the start but lost contact with the field and dropped out and took no competitive part. It was later established that My Field Marshal had suffered cardiac arrhythmia. Passing the half, Spankem went through the second section in 28.2 seconds. No moves were being made and Purdon continued to dictate terms in front and Spankem traveled strongly. Heading off the back straight, the third quarter was posted in 27.2 seconds. Upon straightening, Spankem led the way with Thefixer coming to his outside in readiness to outsprint him while Poster Boy and Chase Auckland also starting to wind up. In the straight, Spankem held Thefixer with Poster Boy closing off well for third and Chase Auckland running fourth. Tiger Tara eventually dropped off slightly in the straight to finish fifth. The final split was timed in an astonishing 25.4 seconds – the fastest ever closing split ever recorded in Australia. The winning time is the third quickest in the event’s history, only My Field Marshal (1:46.9) and Have Faith In Me (1:47.5) have gone faster. Naturally, Purdon was thrilled with the result. “It’s a great result for the stable; having three runners engaged and they’ve all performed really well so it’s particularly pleasing for the stable overall,” Purdon said. “Personally, it’s a massive thrill to win this race; it has so much history and a certain aura about it so it’s great to finally win it.” He added. Purdon has had three previous drives in the Miracle Mile; Lazarus (3rd), Jack Cade (2nd) and Young Rufus (4th). Only one leg remains of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit – the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park on July 20. Chris Barsby

The defending champion may have an unusual problem in Saturday’s A$1million Ainsworth Miracle Mile.  Because trainer Tim Butt believes the field of hotshots may not go fast enough to suit Australasian mile record holder My Field Marshal.  My Field Marshal came from near last to win a supersonic Miracle Mile last year in an Australasian record 1:46.9, in the ten fastest miles in the history of harness racing.  But while Saturday’s field contains local hero Tiger Tara, New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer and new superstar Poster Boy, Butt is worried the race time could be up to two seconds slower than last year.  And that could leave My Field Marshal struggling when the sprint goes on. “Our horse is a great stayer who loves it when they go the first half (800m) in 54 seconds and he just keeps going,” says Butt.  “But I don’t see it being that sort of mile this time. I think the front line is pretty even on gate speed so the inside ones should be able to hold their spots without too much pressure. “So without that sub-26 opening 400m the horses who settle back can be in trouble and that could be us.  “I am not saying he can’t win but from barrier eight we are going to need to some pressure early and in the middle stages and I am not sure where that is going to come from.” Punters and bookies agree with Butt with the expected move in the TAB market coming for Thefixer, who opened $3.80 after drawing barrier two but is now the $3.50 favourite with the Australian TAB, with Poster Boy out from $3.60 to $3.90.  That comes as the scenario of Thefixer leading with Poster Boy on his back and Tiger Tara having to do the bullying sitting parked becomes the conventional wisdom about Saturday’s great race.  Butt says while he can see the race bring a tricky one for My Field Marshal the flashy stallion is racing as well as when he won the great race last season/  "He went his final 400m very fast very wide last week so I am not worried about his form.  "But the draw does worry. Still, there isn't much I can do about it and that will be Ants's job (brother and driver Anthony)."   Michael Guerin

Chariots Of Fire champion Poster Boy was the biggest winner tonight after the barrier draw for the $1m Ainsworth Miraclle Mile. The Emma Stewart-trained four-year-old drew the dream No 1 barrier, right next to New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer, who drew two to add the icing on the cake to his Allied Express Sprint win earlier in the evening, which sealed a spot in the big race for the plucky Bettors Delight-bred five-year-old. Chase Auckland became the third pacer from Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's All Stars stable (with Thefixer and Spankem) when given the surprise wildcard spot into the final field and he too got lucky again when he drew barrier three for next Saturday night's big Group One. The final field for Saturday night's biggest harness race of the year is: 1. Poster Boy by Somebeachsomewhere 2. Thefixer by Bettor's Delight 3. Chase Auckland by Auckland Reactor 4. Yayas Hot Spot by Jeremes Jet 5. Our Uncle Sam (em1) by Sportswriter 6. My Alpha Rock by Rock N Roll Heaven 7. Spankem by Bettor's Delight 8. Tiger Tara by Bettor's Delight 9. My Field Marshal by Art Major 10. Cruz Bromac (em2) by Falcon Seelster.   FOR FURTHER INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON 0438-398-251.   Mandy Madern  

THE King of Miracle Mile qualifiers admits he may have to take a different path to get more runners in to the $1million sprint next week.  And that information from trainer Shane Tritton could boost the already high confidence of fans of Tiger Tara.  Tritton and his wife Lauren have been geniuses at getting horses into Miracle Miles over the last five years, often horses others wouldn’t have even targeted the great race with.  They have already pulled off their latest miracle for the Miracle by qualifying Yayas Hot Spot by winning the Newcastle Mile at 80-1 two weeks ago but that isn’t enough, they want two more in the March 2 classic.  That is likely to mean a chance of the typical Tritton modus operandi, which is use the horse’s gate speed to lead and then keep trucking at a sub 1:50 mile time to deter attackers and kick for home early, securing a winning break.  That would sound ideal for Maximan drawn barrier two in the $100,000 Allied Express Sprint at Menangle on Saturday night, a Miracle Mile qualifier, except for the little problem of  Australia’s best pacer Tiger Tara being drawn inside him at barrier one.  “I suppose we have two options,” says Tritton, before conceding that might only be one option.  “We could go forward and try and lead because sometimes Tiger can be a bit slow off the gate.  “But drawn where we are if it looks like Tiger is getting off fast then we could go straight to his back and trail him, from where we should be able to run top three and get into the Mile.  “So a lot will depend on how Tiger gets off the gate but to be realistic the way he is going trailing him wouldn’t be a bad place to be and it doesn’t look a fast front line.”  Not only does that suggest the place play on Maximan makes sense but they will make punters taking the shorts on Tiger Tara feel a little more secure.  The Trittons have a similar choice to make in Saturday’s other Miracle Mile qualifier where they have the ace draw with My Alpha Rock and could try to lead or take a trail, more than likely on Tiger Tara’s stablemate Majordan, providing the pacing bad boy scores up safely.  “He (My Alpha Rock) has actually been sold to a new US owner so that decision on tactics might come down to what they want but I think trailing would give him the best chance of getting into the Mile.”
 Tritton says Victoria Derby winner Muscle Factory (race seven) couldn’t be better or his NSW Derby heat on Saturday.  “He is better than when he won the Derby so he should be in a race of his own.” Michael Guerin

Three of New Zealand’s best pacers will miss their biggest targets of the season after shock errors ruled them out of Menangle features over the next fortnight. Star Galleria misses his shot at qualifying for next week’s A$1 million Miracle Mile and Utmost Delight and Elle Mac the Ladyship Mile after all missed the nomination cut off yesterday morning for the preludes at Menangle this Saturday.  Star Galleria needed to contest a $100,00 prelude of the Miracle Mile to have any chance of qualifying for the great race, while his stablemate Utmost Delight and the All Stars-trained Elle Mac had to start in a mares race this week and finish top four to qualify for the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile.  Trainer Steven Reid missed the nomination time for both Star Galleria and Utmost Delight by two minutes.  “I was buying a horse at the sales and thought I had plenty of time but when I went to nominate the free calling number you use doesn’t work from New Zealand,” explained Reid.  “By the time I googled the office number and then rang them, got through to the racing office via reception I was too late. “I tried to explain what happened but their boss John Dumesny told me he would check the phone records and if I was late they couldn’t bend the rules.  “He checked the phone log and I was two minutes later and they won’t let them start. So they are coming home.”  While Reid was disappointed, the owners of Utmost Delight, Paul and Mary Kenny, were pragmatic about the error.  “It is disappointing but people make mistakes,” said Kenny, who still has Dream About Me in the race.   Elle Mac was being nominated online but because she had never raced in Australia she was not already in their system so that couldn’t be completed and by the time the phone call was made to try and rectify that problem it was too late.  That leaves New Zealand with six potential Miracle Mile contenders, all from the All Stars, contesting preludes on Saturday while Dream About Me (Ladyship Mile), Princess Tiffany (NSW Oaks) and I’m Anothermasterpiece (NSW Derby) will contest preludes of those races. Michael Guerin

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