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Tasmanian owned and trained two-year-old pacer Ignatius will remain in New South Wales despite connections being unsure of whether he will gain a start in a semi-final of the harness racing 2YO Breeders Challenge series. Ignatius, trained and driven by Todd Rattray, finished third in his heat at Menangle on Tuesday but only the first two placegetters in each of eight heats are guaranteed a berth in one of two semi-finals. Four of the eight third placings from the heats will progress to the semi-finals and they are chosen by Harness Racing NSW with the remaining four third placegetters to be made emergencies. "We have decided to leave the horse here and hope for the best as far as the semi-finals are concerned," Rattray said. "The horse led in his heat but he was probably still feeling the effects of travelling because he never finished his race off like I expected him to. "He was definitely off his game and is better than what he showed on Tuesday." Ignatius went into the race unbeaten from three starts in Tasmania and his times at home suggest he is capable of matching it with the best in the Breeders Challenge series. Another Tasmanian-owned gelding Miracle Marcus that is trained in NSW by Wayne Potter, finished fourth in his heat and missed the chance to progress to the semi-finals. Miracle Marcus is owned in Tasmania by Mick Maxfield. Peter Staples

Tasmanian two-year-old harness racing pacer Ignatius will line up in a heat of the NSW Breeders Challenge Series at Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday) and his trainer-driver Todd Rattray expects him to qualify for a berth in the semi-finals on Saturday week. Ignatius scored an impressive all-the-way win in the 2YO Sweepstakes final in Hobart last start to keep his unbeaten record intact. The Roll With Joe gelding has drawn ideally in gate two in one of two heats for colts and geldings with the first six across the line in each heat to progress to the semi-finals. Ignatius is being stabled with the trainer's older brother James Rattray who prepares a big team at his training complex in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. "Ignatius went to Sydney last week and he's settled in well at James' (Rattray) place and I couldn't be happier with the barrier draw," Todd Rattray said. "It's a challenge for the horse because it's so hard to get a guide as to how he compares to a lot of the others in the race but he'll go into the heat fit and I guess we'll all know after the race whether he's up to it." Ignatius won his Sweepstakes final by almost 17 metres defeating a quality line-up and his mile rate of 1.58.2 and he scampered home his last 800 metres in 56.6 seconds without being fully extended. "He's run a really good time in Hobart last start on a track that was rain affected so I'm interested to see what he can do on the Menangle track that produces really fast times." The semi-finals will be held at Menangle on 10 June with the $125,000 Group 1 final at the same venue on 25 June. Peter Staples

Victorian trained harness racing two-year-olds claimed the opening heats of the 2017 Alabar Breeders Challenge series at Wagga on Tuesday night. The favourite Little Peanut won the colts and geldings division in smart fashion for trainer-driver Greg Sugars while Sounds Of Terror caused an upset taking out the fillies heat for Anton Golino and local driver Cameron Hart. Sugars was in a similar predicament a few years ago when he guided the then rising star Sushi Sushi to victory in a Breeders Challenge heat at Wagga. Little Peanut is one of three pacers he trains himself in between his busy driving schedule. “He is no Sushi Sushi but a nice two-year-old who will go on to the semi finals at Menangle,” Sugars said. Little Peanut is raced by a group of five who hail from Newcastle and Grafton. The owners also raced and bred the winner’s half-brother, Youranut, who won 14 races. Little Peanut settled in fifth place and when asked to extend gathered in Sword And Shield for his third win from five starts. Although second past the finish line, Sword And Shield was relegated to third when Stone Cracker’s driver David Hewitt lodged a successful protest. Sounds Of Terror made the six hour trip from Cardigan in Victoria worth the effort when she claimed her first win at her third start. The fillies’ heat looked in the keeping of the favourite Man Hands until she galloped at the 300 metres presenting a run through for Sounds Of Terror. The winner is owned and was bred by Yabby Dam Farms which races a large number of trotters and fewer pacers. Sounds Of Terror provided Junee reinsman Cameron Hart with his biggest career victory in the $15,000 race. He was impressed with the manner the youngster extended when called on. “She finished off really well. We had a bit of luck when the favourite galloped but she was travelling well at the time and won nicely,” he said. by Graeme White

Following Harness Racing New South Wales’ review into the Breeders Challenge changes will be introduced for the 2017 Alabar-sponsored race series. The end result was described by HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny as “tinkering around the edges”. “To be truthful there were very few submissions, which goes to the old adage ‘If It Ain’t Broke’,” Dumesny said. “In fact one respondent simply stated ‘I can’t see anything wrong with the Breeders Challenge’.” The alterations are: Heat winners will be ineligible for final round of Heats at Tabcorp Park Menangle; A maximum two heats will constitute the final round of Heats at Tabcorp Park Menangle with preference given to horses which have not contested a Heat; Heats winners to be eligible for Blue and Regional Finals if they have won no more than $20,000 in the current series; Introduction of $10,000 Semi-Finals (maximum of two races) for the three and four-year-old divisions of the Regional Finals if sufficient nominations are received (minimum 20 horses) –Semi-Finals to be conducted on the Wednesday immediately prior to the Finals; The breeding conditions and race series for trotters have been separated away from the pacers Breeders Challenge with the introduction of the Trot NSW Series; Regional Finals to be held at Paceway Bathurst. Harness Racing NSW will conduct a review into the eligibility (breeding) conditions of the Breeders Challenge in early 2017. by Amanda Rando

Following the completion of the 2016 Alabar New South Wales Breeders Challenge Series a review into the rich harness racing futurity will take place. In stage one Harness Racing NSW is seeking written submissions from interested stakeholders concerning all aspects of the NSW Breeders Challenge race series and bonuses. It was during the Two-Year-Old Racing Review survey that respondents were asked to provide feedback concerning the NSW Breeding Schemes. Two broad questions were asked in the survey including if they thought there should be a review of the NSW Breeders Challenge Series where 57 per cent responded yes and 43 per cent responded no. The other question asked if there should be a review of the NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificates redemption conditions where 51 per cent responded yes and 49 per cent responded no. Subsequent to these responses HRNSW gave an undertaking that following the completion of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Finals it would seek submissions. For further information head to the AMANDA RANDO

Husband and wife duo Peter and Cindy Rixon have had some success in juvenile futurity races over the years and look set to add to that harness racing record at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The Pheasants Nest conditioners have three of the early fancies in the Group Two Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Finals. In the $50,000 Three-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Final, the Rixons are dually represented with Rockn Brushgrove (four) and Keayang Spoty (eight). Rockn Brushgrove will be driven by Peter and Cindy's daughter Ellen and is the equal third favourite at $6 with TAB Fixed Odds (New South Wales). Meanwhile, the Victorian-owned Keayang Sporty is the second elect at $4.80 and will be steered by John McCarthy. "Rockn Brushgrove has been extremely unlucky his last two starts and before those couple of blotches his form was quite good and is definitely one of the chances," Peter said. "Keayang Sporty won't be out of it either. "He is a consistent little horse and his runs up here have been promising." Their third hope is Jovial Rock, which has drawn well in barrier four for the Two-Year-Old Fillies Final and is subsequently the $2.10 second elect. The filly had her first start in Peter's name in the Group One Alabar Breeders Challenge Final on June 26 where she finished fifth to Shezallapples. "Jovial Rock is a lovely little filly that's in with a chance as well," Peter said. "She put in a good run in the Final and came through that race well." In recent years Peter and Cindy have tasted success in the Breeders Challenge Regional Finals including in 2012 with Dream Cartier and in 2010 with Sassy Street. They also won a Group 1 Sires' Stakes Final in 2009 with Just Cuddles - the second last year of the Sires' Stakes series as the Breeders Challenge was introduced in NSW in 2008. All were driven by Cindy, who has scaled back her driving now with Ellen taking the reins and has only had one race drive this season. Peter also has reduced his drives having only had seven drives this season, however, will add to that tally on Saturday night driving one of the three horses he has nominated at Newcastle. TAB Fixed Odds for the Alabar NSW Breeders Breeders Challenge Blue Finals 2YO Colts & Geldings Final 1 FRANCO STORM 35.00 2 JUSTANOTHER REASON 12.00 3 HEZA CRACKER 2.40 4 EXPRESS BOMBER 12.00 5 SACKHEIM 26.00 6 MEGS MONARO 31.00 7 OUR LITTLE DIGGER 6.00 8 ROLL WITH ME 6.00 9 THE DEMOCRAT 3.80 10 CLOUDIN UP 51.00 11 GELDOF 21.00   2YO Fillies Final 1 IMA BLACK BEAUTY 51.00 2 MAGIC ARTIST 12.00 3 JOSEPHINE BROOK 18.00 4 JOVIAL ROCK 2.10 5 IM WITH LEXY 1.75 6 FLEUR DE NEIGE 26.00   3YO Colts & Geldings Final 1 EXPRESS PASS 10.00 2 LIMBO LARRY 81.00 3 BIG DANCE 35.00 4 ROCKN BRUSHGROVE 6.00 5 THUNDER DANCE 7.50 6 LEXY CAN WAIT 18.00 7 EFFRONTE 2.80 8 KEAYANG SPORTY 4.80 9 UNCLE PETER 9.00 10 CHUCKY BALBOA 101.00 11 SMITHSTARS LEXUS 6.00   3YO Fillies Final 1 JESSICA AMBER 26.00 2 PERFECT JESSE 16.00 3 CRUSTY 101.00 4 SPORTYGAL 51.00 5 CHERRY MAHONEY 12.00 6 ROCKNROLL ANGEL 8.50 7 IMA MYSTERY GIRL 7.50 8 PIXIES PARLOUR 8.50 9 ALWAYS ANNIE 35.00 10 MY MACKENZIE 1.55 AMANDA RANDO

In-form Goulburn harness racing horseman Brad Hewitt has quickly turned the page on last week. Heading into last Sunday’s feature race day at Menangle, Hewitt was hopeful with stable star Spare Me Days and emerging talent Arma The Gun in their respective Gr.1 Breeders Challenge Finals but came home short. Both pacers ran the punters elect but both missed the place. Hewitt has already switched his focus to his next target, the Brisbane winter carnival which starts this weekend at Albion Park and runs over three consecutive weekends. On Saturday night, Hewitt starts Spare Me Days in the Gr.3 $30,000 Horsepower Nutrition 4yo Championship. “The Brisbane campaign will wrap up his season; he goes straight to the paddock after the Blacks A Fake on July 16 for a well-deserved break because he’s done a super job this season. He’s really stepped it up this season and he’s proven that he’s going to be competitive in the open class arena, his win in the Bulli Cup proved that when he beat some nice horses in very good time at Menangle.” Hewitt said. Spare Me Days has drawn the second-line in the 2138m mobile start feature and meets talented types Major Cam, Birdy Mach and Major Coup among others. But Hewitt knows he’s got the form horse of the race. “I was very happy with his effort last Sunday because he had a poor draw and was forced to do plenty of work while they were running strong time; he kept fighting all the way up the straight. On a positive note, he’s taken no harm from the race and he seems in good order. “Barrier draws haven’t been kind to him lately and again this weekend we’ve got some work in front of us but the draws will hopefully turn around in the coming weeks. Obviously Birdy Mach is a talented type while the likes of Major Cam and Major Coup are still on the way up so it should be a competitive race. “We’re definitely going to start in the Blacks A Fake but a decision on the Sunshine Sprint won’t be made until after this weekend, it’s probably a little unlikely given the recent racing he’s had. I think the genuine speed in the Blacks A Fake which will be generated by the open class stars will suit him nicely.” Hewitt’s father Dave is considering sending talented three-year-old Stanley Ross Robyn north for the Gr.1 $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby on July 16. The former New Zealand gelding continues to improve and was narrowly beaten yesterday (Tuesday) at Menangle when third behind Miss Riviera Belle and Look And Listen in a time of 1:52.7. A decision is expected soon. Chris Barsby

Prominent Tasmanian standardbred breeders Fred and Pauline Barker celebrated another harness racing feature race win when a filly they bred, Shezallapples, scored an impressive victory in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies final over 1609 metres at Menangle last Sunday. Shezallapples started as one of the rank outsiders ($91.30) but she proved too good for her rivals scoring by almost three metres from Rocknroll Emma ($6.60) with Im with Lexy a close-up third and well ahead of the $1.50 favourite Don't Think Twice. The win gave driver Jim Douglass his first Group 1 success in his home state and the win also delighted the filly's trainer David Thorn who rated the daughter of Sportswriter-Apple Sorbet a top winning chance going into the race. Shezallapples clocked a mile rate of 1.53.3 to suggest she has a bright future. The Barkers have slowly but surely eased out of standardbred breeding with Apple Sorbet now residing with Ricky Hinds who put the mare to Modern Art which resulted in a filly foal born on Christmas Eve last year. Peter Staples

Modern Maestro has had a stellar start to his harness racing career. The son of Modern Art has won eleven of his fifteen career starts and with the season over in Canberra, the gelding's trainer Michael Hawke will look to target racing at Menangle in the short term. After racing through the season at Canberra undefeated in seven starts, Modern Maestro was declared the Horse Of The Year in the nation's capital. The seven wins also helped secure Hawke's second trainers' title and Melissa Hawke her first drivers premiership. "At Canberra they have a local premiership for the leading trainer and driver and they also have an overall leading trainer and driver," Hawke said. "It was great to win the overall leading trainer for a second consecutive season but I was immensely proud of my daughter Melissa when she won the overall leading driver. Liss has won local premierships before but to win the overall driver's title is a great achievement and a good reward for all of her hard work." Modern Maestro finished second in the Group 2 Carousel earlier in the season and Hawke believes it was during that series he realised he had a nice horse. "He won nine of his first ten starts but his wins had been at Canberra, Wagga and Bathurst so there were a few question marks on the form. I think his run in the heat of the Carousel at Penrith when he led and Kept Under Wraps only picked him up in the shadows of the post proved to me that his record was legitimate. "Off the back of that run, Modern Maestro finished second in the Carousel final behind Hez A Dude and he fought right to the line on that occasion as well." Saturday night's assignment at Tabcorp Park Menangle will not be an easy one with several well performed runners engaged in race four. Runner up in Sunday's Group 1 4YO Breeders Challenge final Egodan has drawn the second row while Tact Hayleys Delight will start from barrier three. "I haven't done the form yet and only glanced at the fields when they first came out but my initial thought was Darren's (Binskin) mare was well placed. Those C3 to C5 races are very strong at Menangle every week so I'll keep bringing him back until he can snare one. "Most of the horses around Canberra go for a spell at the end of the local season but I've kept a few of mine in. I might even bring a horse like Huge Attitude to Menangle at some stage." Despite wrapping up their respective premierships at the Canberra meeting last weekend it has been a tough week for the stable. Rookie Error died after suffering from colic last weekend. "She was no star but she won seven races in her career and she tried her heart out every time she stepped onto the track. She was one of Melissa's favourites so she has been a little bit upset." "Hopefully Modern Maestro can pull out a good run on Saturday night and help Liss feel a little bit better." Greg Hayes

Harness Racing Fans called for a dead-heat but the judge gave Rockmemama the nod by the barest margin in today’s three-year-old fillies final of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge. Just when Eye See Diamonds (Nathan Jack) looked set to win, Rockmemama dived at her and scored a last-stride win, rating 1:52.4 with even-money favourite Heavens Trend a plucky third after racing without cover for most of the journey. In a day of upsets, it was a popular win for Newcastle reinsman Mark Callaghan as there was a sprinkling of money for the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven as she started at $7.90. It was the stringbean Callaghan’s first Group One success. Likewise for trainer Darryl Thomas, who is based at Sawyers Gully. “Yes that was quite a thrill,” said Callaghan. “Darryl seems to be able to get this horse to peak at just the right time. “That’s what he did for Bathurst and she won with authority and this was her fourth run in again today and she’s peaked again and she’s won again. “I thought we’d either be behind the leader or three back on the fence and I wasn’t too concerned either way  . . . as long as we were tracking the good horses - and we were, I knew I’d be right there. “So it all worked out well. “They ran a quick last half so she did a good job to get over the top of them.” Callaghan has three young boys who help out around the stables. All three were on hand to cheer and there were even a few tears on the pedestal as they savoured their father’s biggest win. Michael Court

It was sweet revenge for harness racing owner Daniel Cordina, of Cordina Chicken Farms, when the well-backed Charlaval took out today’s thee-year-old colts and geldings Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Cordina was holidaying in the US a few years ago when Blissfull Guy lost a Breeders Challenge to No Ah Saint on protest. But Cordina was “back in the spotlight” today when Charlaval came from well back on the home turn to beat Sams The Master by a head with Rock Of America 3.6m away third in a 1:51.9 mile rate. Cordina was delighted to finally get a Breeders Challenge trophy for the sideboard. “I’m just sorry my Dad (his late father Joe) was not here to see this win,” he said. “Dad actually raced a horse by the same name about 50 years ago and I never for a moment dreamed we would be here today to celebrate something like this.” Trained by Cordina’s good friends KerryAnn Turner and reinsman Robbie Morris, Charlaval’s win was even more impressive as he appeared to be racing on a slower section of the track. Morris was delighted with the win. “It always good to be here on these big days and for him to do all that work and come down the outside like that was a real thrill,” he said. “It’s hard to believe he didn’t even make this race last year. “He matured late and took all day to do everything but he’s really hitting his straps now and we couldn’t be happier with him. “I needed everything to do a bit of work and it sort of played in my hands really. Match In Heaven carted me into it for a long way and that probably helped a lot and we were able to come off his back and move right into the finish. “It’s been a great combination (with KerryAnn) and our is a real family affair at home: we’re a tight knit team and you couldn’t do it without them. “We’ve always had that family support. Kids come and help at the weekend and it’s a really good feeling to score in a race like this. “I couldn’t be happier for Daniel.” Michael Howard

It's no surprise to see leading harness racing owners Emilio and Mary Rosati in the winners’ circle on Breeders Challenge Day at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And beautifully-bred mare Sapphire Stride added to the fanfare when she scored a surprise win in today’s Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Group One for four-year-old mares. What did surprise, however, was the price: Sapphire Stride was sent out at the amazing odds of $36.20 on the TAB before leading most of the way to defeat Hey Porsha and Dolly Braveheart, scoring by a head in a 1:52.7 mile rate. Disappointment of the race was the $1.30 favourite Ameretto (Ash Grives), who settled down near last and couldn’t make up the ground in the straight before finishing a close fourth. In a field of young drivers, John McCarthy could probably be classed as a veteran, even though he’s only mid 50s, but he took Emilio Rosati’s advice and showed the youngsters a thing or two. “I thought she’d be quick out and I might struggle to get to the lead (from gate five),” said a jubilant McCarthy after scoring on the Belinda McCarthy-trained mare. “But they just didn’t come at me in the straight. “I was getting a bit tired near the line  . . . but so were they and she just kept boxing on.” McCarthy [senior] described Sapphire Stride as a nice mare: “We had a good barrier today and it might have been different if we didn’t and this win has made it really good for her as a broodmare later on. “Emilio said you go show them – and today we did.” Michael Howard

Leading local harness racing reinsman Jimmy Douglass knocked something off his “bucket list” when he scored an amazing win with outsider Shezallapples in today’s Group One Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Despite his successes around the country, the win was Douglass’ first Group One in his home state. And while his Victoria Derby win a few years ago was something special, the pocket rocket was over the moon to score with Shezallapples after securing a late split near the pegs to beat Rocknroll Emma by 2.9m with Im With Lexy third in a 1:53.3 mile rate. Punters were left reeling after the David Thorn-trained youngster paid a massive $91.20 on the tote, despite Douglass’ suggestion that he seriously felt he was a great chance going into the race. “At the top of the straight I was full of running,” he said. “I aimed up for a big gap in the middle and then it suddenly closed. “I then had to switch to the outside or the inside and I decided to go back to the inside and we were lucky enough to get through and when we did we sprinted really quickly. “I honestly thought she was a hope going into the race. “She went really well in the semi and every run she has just got better and better and David (Thorn) has been really happy with her work. “I thought she felt terrific last start and I knew that with a bit of luck she had a great hope. “They’re good fillies, and to run 52 – well, she’s only a two-year-old filly. “In both heats there was a slow second quarter and both times I went back and said she’d be better if they run along and that’s exactly how it panned out today. “This was good for Paul (Shipley), he was on this horse and was tipped out at Penrith. “Obviously he couldn’t go on with the horse and he’s good friends with the Thorn family, so they were really happy to get him.” The two-year-old colts’ Breeders Challenge was Bathurst-bound after For A Reason youngster Conviction scored the gutsiest of wins for Amanda Turnbull and her trainer/father Steve. Posted in the breeze for the entire journey, Conviction fought off all challengers in the straight to beat Three Of The Best and Redbank Blaze by 1.4m in a 1:53.5 mile rate. “It was a super tough effort. I had to go for home a bit early but he was never going to let that one past,” said Amanda after the win. “When he heard them coming he was right and knuckled down to hold them off.” “When he got beaten at Bathurst he proved to us how tough he really was and I learned a bit about him that night.” Michael Court

Honours and dollars were shared although there were hardly any great surprises after the three Group Two Trotters Finals at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon. Harness Racing Trainer/Driver Blake Fitzpatrick kicked off the big Breeders Challenge Finals Day in typical fashion when he took Empire Bay to victory in the opening event, the Two-Year-Old Trotters Final. Sent out a prohibitive $1.50 favourite, Empire Bay was a comfortable winner over his only two rivals Shang Fang Sword and Nanas Eyes. While he was expected to dominate the trotters’ races, Fitzpatrick could only fill the minor places with his following two entries with Seven Secrets running fourth in the three-year-old final and short-priced favourite Glenferrie Burn leaving its run too late and ending up second with a late burst in the four and five-year-old Trotters’ Final. Zac Phillips guided Red Hot Tooth to victory to deny Fitzpatrick of making it two from two while Todd McCarthy held on from a fast-finishing Fitzpatrick with Glenferrie Burn in the third race. Fitzpatrick was delighted to draw first blood: “He (Empire Bay) went great, he’s been a really smart horse and he’s made mistakes in the wrong races,” he said. “His record really should be better than it is. “I was happy to follow Shang Fang Sword as my bloke has really good speed and he picked the leader up quickly and finished the race right off. “He’ll have a short break now and then head to Victoria for the Redwood and then the Breeders Crown.” The Three-Year-Old Trotters Final could almost be considered a Bathurst victory as Red Hot Tooth was bred by Geoff Bullock from Bathurst. He sent the horse to Kari Males, who trains out of Bolinda in Victoria but is originally a Bathurst girl. Young Victorian-based reinsman Zac Phillips, 20, caught a plane this morning to drive the horse and then headed straight back to drive at Shepparton tonight. “I’ve been up here a few times but this is the first time I’ve driven a winner here,” he grinned. “She’s been a revelation this horse and came down around six months ago. She wasn’t much to look at but has had six starts and kept improving. “Once she began to race the better horses she just acquitted herself well. “I thought I’d be hard to beat if could lead and we had such a great run I was really confident. “If she’s in front she runs her best races. “I think she could have gone quicker had she needed to. It’s a terrific story the owners are lovely people and it’s really good to see people win on a big day like today.” Michael Howard

A bizarre judder bar may not halt Waikiki Beach’s path to the rarest number in New Zealand Harness Racing. Because the three-year-old pacing star could still hunt down Courage Under Fire’s record of 24 consecutive wins by season’s end. Waikiki Beach, who races with the Our prefix in Australia, missed last Saturday’s Breeders Challenge semi final in Sydney after his connections didn’t nominate him until too late because of a miscommunication. He would have been red hot to win both his semi and probably this Sunday’s A$150,000 Breeders Challenge Final, which could have taken him to 21 straight victories to start his career. He was then scheduled to embark on the defence of his Australasian Breeders Crown title, which will comprise three more races, so a clean sweep could have drawn him level with Courage Under Fire with the most consecutive victories by any New Zealand-trained horse to start his career. The connections of Waikiki Beach met last week and toyed with the idea of a Queensland Derby campaign or even bringing him home to New Zealand to prepare for the Breeders Crown. But he will now stay in Sydney instead and that puts the record back on the table for the superstar, who is unbeaten in 19 starts. Waikiki Beach will trial next week and possibly race in a minor race the following week before his Breeders Crown heat at Menangle on July 12. “That is the plan at this stage so he is definitely staying here,” says top Sydney horseman Luke McCarthy, with whom Waikiki Beach is stabled in Australia. That means he could have two seemingly effortless races to take him to 21 wins but with five weeks until the Breeders Crown semis in Victoria and three-year-olds so well treated in the Australian handicapping system, he could easily have another tune-up race in early August. That brings the 24-win record back into play, although the Breeders Crown is looking the toughest test of Waikiki Beach’s career. While leading Victoria rival Shadow Sax has been sidelined, Waikiki Beach’s stablemate and Jewels winner Heaven Rocks is being set for the series, as is the exciting Franco Christiano. “He is a hell of a horse and what happened last week was unfortunate but he is well and has plenty of opportunities to get ready over here,” says McCarthy. The Waikiki Beach stuff up leaves his stablemate My MacKenzie, who was surprisingly beaten in her Breeders Challenge semi last weekend, as the only New Zealand-trained starter at Sunday’s huge Menangle meeting. Lennytheshark warmed up Sunday’s A$100,000 Len Smith Mile with a sparkling 1:51.5 trial win at Menangle on Monday and sometime Auckland pacer Ohoka Punter looks his biggest danger after he bolted in at Menangle last Saturday. But Lennytheshark is red hot after drawing barrier two in the group one, with Ohoka Punter at barrier five. Meanwhile, Alexandra Park fans are in for rare mid-winter dash of pacing class tomorrow night with a stronger than expected line-up for the $20,000 Smith And Partners Lawyers Winter Cup. Not only do Derby and Jewels placegetters Shandale and Motown (respectively) return for the standing start 2700m but they are joined by Messenger placegetter Hug The Wind, Bettor Spirits, Spring Cup and Holmes D G winner Beyond The Silence and a newcomer to the northern scene in New Years Jay. The former Otago mare fashioned a huge reputation with her killer sprints in the south and has now joined the Barry Purdon stable. The Winter Cup is the highlight of a 12-race programme, featuring 120 horses, which shows the benefits of Alexandra Park, or Cambridge, racing as the sole northern club at the end of the week, especially in winter. Tomorrow’s big programme also comes during harness racing’s golden month for turnovers, with pools always larger on the Friday nights before the All Black’s June tests because there is no live rugby to draw punters away from Trackside. Michael Guerin

Harness Racing New South Wales advises that it will utilise the Retention Facility at Tabcorp Park Menangle for all horses, including emergencies, entered in Group 1 Alabar Breeders Challenge 3yo Colts and Geldings final to be conducted at Menangle on Sunday 26 June 2016. Horses must be presented at the facility prior to 10am on Saturday 25 June 2016. All trainers with horses entered for this race have been notified by HRNSW of the requirements for presentation of their horses at the retention facility. Horses will remain under the supervision of HRNSW until released to the raceday stables two hours prior to the race. Greg Hayes

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