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Elly Chapple has achieved something she has quietly been working towards - her first harness racing career winning drive. At last week's Tamworth harness meeting, Chapple piloted Right On With It to establish that first winning drive. "I had no words to describe the feeling of winning the race after the finish - I couldn't stop shaking, it was crazy," stated the near 17-year-old who also picked up The Pub Group Drive of the Day. Coming up through the Mini Trot ranks via the Tamworth Club, Chapple progressed on to make her debut into the senior driving ranks back in April at the Narrabri Carnival of Cups meeting.  WINNING FEELING: Right On With It bests Onahi Delight (Leigh Sutton) and Ghost Gum (Stacey Weidemann).   It was only fitting that Elly should have her first winning drive in the Tamworth Regional Mini Trot Association Pace over 1609 metres last Thursday on her home track. "It was good being in the mini trots before as it helped a lot in getting a bit more confidence," stated the vibrant young lady who had been part of the mini trot scene for many years before graduating to the registered races. Chapple, a Year 11 student at Oxley High School, recounted her driving efforts and how she came to gain the success with Right On With It. "I drew the five barrier and landed up one-by-one behind Layby Lenny (Anthony Varga), which was a perfect spot," she said. "We were aiming to go forward to lead but the one-by-one presented itself and it was perfect." With the grey pacer Ghost Gum, piloted by Stacey Weidemann, leading the field, Chapple was playing the race out in her mind and holding back her run, before placing an impressive three-wide run around the field from the 400-metre mark. "He felt super the whole way. I nursed him up around the bend and just waited for as long as I could and the horse couldn't have done a better job," added Chapple. "I probably had to go a little bit earlier than what I wanted to because Leigh Sutton came around with Onahi Delight. I had to go in the back straight a bit before I had planned to. But other than that it was perfect "I was so excited I just waited up for as long as I could and I just knew I had to go for it. "Dad said from the start that Right On With It would be my first winner. He was my first fast-work drive." Right On With It held on for a neck win over Onahi Delight, with Ghost Gum three metres away in third place. For Moonbi trainer-reinsman Dean Chapple, he enjoyed sitting on the sidelines along with his wife Julie, watching as his daughter succeed. "Elly's win was just out of this world - it was a 10 out of 10 effort," said Dean. "We have been working towards this win for a while. "That would be up there with any of my wins. I was sitting there going not now not now. I was driving the race for her from the sidelines." Dean, who is leading the drivers premiership at Tamworth, had success himself at the meeting - training a double with Right On With it and new stable acquisition Aucklander. Aucklander won the opening event of the day, the TAB.Com.Au Three-Year-Old Pace, which also placed Chapple into the winner's circle with the reins. "It was a good run by Aucklander - I got into the one-by-one and then I took off," Dean said. "He ended up getting cover for the last lap and I pulled out at the 400m and he was just too good." Aucklander had a four-metre win over Shez Got Bling (Madi Young) with A Paradigm Shift (Peter Hedges) another two metres away in third place. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Last week the Tamworth Harness Racing Club received the good news that their Golden Guitar feature race will be elevated to a Group 2 $50,000 race from January 2020. This week Harness Racing NSW chairman Rod Smith made another announcement: New South Wales will have a new $1 million race to go with the $1 million Miracle Mile. The race will be funded from negotiated arrangements between the racing industry and Tabcorp, and it will include a new bet type, odds and evens. The $1 million final will be the culmination of a series of races across NSW. The final concept for the series is slated to be endorsed by the HRNSW board this month. "We have injected funding into established feature races and carnivals, and now I am proud to say we are giving participants an opportunity to race for high stakes with horses which are not at the top level of our code of racing," Smith said. "This race provides for participants in the country, provincial and metropolitan areas, including as far away as Broken Hill, to compete in their own back yards. "All the owners and trainers really need is the horse good enough to win the $1 million race." **** THE HRNSW Rising Star Series has had a close finish, with Jake Hughes, who was representing the Hunter Valley and North West, finishing second to Metropolitan reinsman Joshua Gallagher. Hughes was leading the series heading into the final two races at Menangle last Sunday. Hughes had a winning drive at the Penrith meeting on Thursday evening, behind the Paul Fitzpatrick-trained Dee Double You. They raced to a 14-metre win. On his home track of Newcastle on Friday night, 18-year-old Hughes picked up another win when he drove Tralee Rocks for Tamworth owners Ernie and Anthony Mabbott. Gallagher finished on 82 points, just two points ahead of Hughes. Jake's younger brother Blake drove a winner at last week's Tamworth meeting, behind Chevron Reward, for his boss Clayton Harmey. Blake, at 16 years of age, has only had two drives at Tamworth. He finished last in his first start. *** AT LAST week's Tamworth meeting, siblings Tom and Emma Ison had a dead heat in the Tamworthharnessracing.com.au Pace. Tom drove the Dwayne Brown-trained What A Flight while Emma handled Bailees Girl, for her father Andy. "I thought he (Tom) had beat us," said Emma, whose previous winner was in January at Tamworth with Tepary. For Tom, there was a second glance when he noticed his younger sister had joined him at the finish line. "At that last second, I was surprised that it was Emma on the outside. But I thought she had beat me by a neck or so, as she was finishing that quick," he said. **** THE premierships are starting to take shape at Tamworth, with Dean Chapple leading the drivers premiership (25 points) - just five wins ahead of Lola Weidemann.  Chapple last won the drivers premiership in 2013/2014, with 35 wins. Weidemann leads the Hygain trainers premiership, with 27 wins. Narrabri trainer Jarred Hetherington is second with 16 wins. The horse of the year premiership s a close one, with Narrabri pacer Kid Montana, from the Shepherdson stables, locked on 22 points with Too Goo For You, from the Weideman stables. *** READY To Bloom, from the Mitch Faulkner stables, will have a start in the $20,000 Multiquip Club Menangle Country Series Final at Menangle on Saturday night after finishing second in a heat at Peak Hill. Harness racing will return to the Tamworth Paceway next Thursday. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

CONNECTIONS of Australian Pacing Gold purchase Black Silhouette are thrilled she decided to break her Group One pattern at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. Racing against the best of her crop since her debut season, Black Silhouette had contested three top shelf events leading up to the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge Final. On each of those occasions the Sam Dimarco-trained pacer finished seventh! Black Silhouette was also seventh in last term’s Group Two Bathurst Gold Bracelet. Thanks to performance in the $100,000 decider, the daughter of Shadow Play has “finally” become a ‘black type’ mare. “She finally broke through for us,” Dimarco said. “She has been very consistent all her career and made her way into a few Finals but hasn’t had much luck once there. “This time she got a good trip off the speed and stuck her head out at the right time. “She was only grabbed on the line in her semi and now this time she’s grabbed the win on the line.” Driven masterfully by Todd McCarthy, Black Silhouette was pushed forward to find the lead from barrier eight before being eased to take a trail behind the favourite, Goodtime Heaven. Gaining an opening halfway along the home straight, the four-year-old reclaimed the front in the last stride to score by a half-neck from Goodtime Heaven. Rocknroll Pearl completed an APG trifecta when four metres away third in 1:51. “She had been very bright within herself since her last run two weeks ago and I knew she was ready to run a good race,” Dimarco said. “I expected her to be in the finish with the right run and that’s just what she got. “This morning she is running around with tail in the air, has been eating, and seems pretty good within herself. “I will see how she is over the next few days before making a decision, but if she comes through the run well enough I will keep her going and give her a few runs at Menangle before she has a break.” Cranky around the stable can bite you and has an attitude – upsets everyone around the stable – when race as good as her you don’t care Ricki bought her and was getting her going and we liked her so bought him from her as Marissa likes the Shadow Plays   APG Media

Tamworth's Ison family have once again placed their names into the chronicles of harness racing history in the north west. For siblings Sam, Tom and Emma it was an Armidale harness meeting back in 2018 when the trio first came to prominence after driving a winner each on the program. Thursday's Tamworth harness meeting saw the Ison name being registered in yet another significant flair when Tom and Emma Ison had a dead heat for the win in the Tamworthharnessracing.com.au Ladyship Pace. Tom Ison accepted the drive behind the Dwayne Brown trained What A Flight and from the one barrier it appeared as if the 10-year-old mare was going to have an all the way win. That was until younger sister Emma placed in her bid for supremacy for the race title with a three wide run and a dash down the home straight with Bailee's Girl. "The win was brilliant and it is so good to share it with Tommy too" stated Emma. Emma Ison was engaged by her father Andy Ison to take the reins behind Bailee's Girl - a five-year-old mare that he both owns and trains - which certainly made the race a family affair. What A Flight was setting the race tempo while Miss Catalina (Lola Weidemann) raced out in the breeze. "We copped a bit of pressure in the race but she got home" added Ison of What A Flight who is raced by Tanya Welsh with the mares last win recorded at Newcastle back in October last year. Older brother Sam Ison elected to sit his pacer Roll With Tricky in on the leaders back in the running of the 1980 metre race while Emma Ison was in turn posted three back on the inside running line with Bailees Girl. The final turn into the home straight saw Emma Ison masterly bring Bailees Girl out of the inside running line to race three wide and sprint down the home straight. "She (Bailees Girl) sprints really well - she is a good sit and sprint horse but I didn't think I would catch him (Tom) by the time we hit the line" added Emma "I was sitting on the back of Sam (Roll With Tricky) and travelling really well. I knew if we got a crack we would get somewhere" "I thought he (Tom) had beat us" added Emma who welcomed the win with her last winning drive being at Tamworth back in January behind Tepary. For Tom Ison who governed the field from the outset with What A Flight there was a second glance when he noticed his younger sister Emma had joined him at the finish line. "At that last second I was surprised that it was Emma on the outside but I thought she had beat me by a neck or so as she was finishing that quick" added Tom Ison. "It was a special moment - absolutely" added Tom "there is no one better to have a dead heat with than your little sister" Elder brother Sam Ison finished fourth with Roll With Tricky in the race - just missing out on making it a family trifecta before he himself presented in the winner's circle later in the meeting. Sam Ison drove the Greg Coney trained Lettucefirestar to an all the way win in the Garrard's Horse and Hound Pace. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Passionate and successful harness racing owner Kevin Gordon is enjoying the ride of his life at the moment - a journey that started many years ago with a $200 outlay! Gordon, of Warners Bay, a suburb of Newcastle, will be chasing Group One honors on Sunday at Menangle with his talented youngster Lochinvar Art (Modern Art USA-Ponder In Paris (Ponder USA) in the $150,000 Vincent Alabar NSW Breeders Championship Final for colts and geldings. "He's a nice little horse, with a touch of class. And he doesn't have any vices which is a good thing," Gordon said. "We've drawn the number one alley for the first time in his career, so we'll be prominent. But it will be exciting because there are some outstanding horses in the event." At a purchase price of $29,000 at the yearling sales, Lochinvar Art is proving to be a dream buy. His incredible record now stands at 22 starts for 12 wins and 10 minor placings for a staggering $253,580 in stakemoney. Prepared at Kialla, near Shepparton by up-and-coming young trainers Laura Crossland and her partner David Moran, the three-year-old colt has never been unplaced in his two seasons of racing. "I'm enjoying every minute of having horses with them. They are hard workers and do a really good job. We buy a yearling every year from the sales and I just leave it to David to make the call on which one," Gordon said. "We have a two-year-old in Lochinvar Fire that looks a likely type with two starts for one placing and a Captaintreacherous yearling we have high hopes for." Prior to his Breeders Championship campaign, Lochinvar Art put together four consecutive wins, including a heat and final of the $104,000 Bathurst Gold Chalice, giving the popular owner his first Group One success in the sport. Lochinvar Art finished runner-up in his Breeders semi last Saturday - but was so brave he lost no admirers. After pressing forward from barrier seven, Moran angled into the one-out and two-back slot, albeit third last. At the halfway mark he made a three-wide move to put his charge into the race, whizzing around to be outside the leader, Hardhitter (Luke McCarthy), the eventual winner. The mile rate was a brisk 1.51-4 with a scorching 26.6 up the home straight. Gordon owns Multicam Routing Systems, a national business he founded 32 years ago and still laughs about how he got into harness racing in the late 1970s. "My wife-to-be Leonie was at a boarding school at Lochinvar, about half an hour out of Newcastle," he said. "A foal was born across the road from the school and later on, the two of us decided to buy it. We paid $200! "It was our first-ever pacer and raced as Lochinvar Girl. She went on to be a top mare and won 15 races at Harold Park including the Australia Day Cup. And that was the start of the Lochinvar prefix in our horses and greyhounds." Over the years, apart from Lochinvar Art, Gordon has also raced Lochinvar Fille (10 wins, 15 places), Lochinvar Delight (8 wins, 8 places), Lochinvar Hugo (now racing in SA: 15 wins, 6 places) and Lochinvar Sun (2 wins, 3 places). Gordon said he had received some decent offers to buy Lochinvar Art. "I had to knock them back because I'm at the stage of my life now where we get the most excitement out of seeing him race. "We'd rather have him because our four daughters in Emma, Heather, Clare and Karla and their extended families are big supporters of harness racing, so it's a lot of fun. "I bought them a filly for Christmas. She's named Gordon Girl and has had one win and three placings. She ran fourth last start and is also prepared by Laura." Gordon said his association with the Crossland-Moran team kicked off a few years ago after he was advised to send former Kiwi pacer Smo to them. "We had the horse with Sydney trainer John Binskin and won a couple of races with him. But he developed a few problems and John suggested he may recapture his form on country Victorian tracks. "I was quite impressed with Laura and David, and I think they won six races with Smo before we moved him over to the west. I know Smo became Laura's favorite horse at the time." On the greyhound scene, among the standouts have been Lochinvar Marlow, who provided Gordon with a Group One Paws of Thunder triumph. The dog finished with three Group wins, $300,000 in stakes and later proved a sensation at stud. "We probably breed between 50 and 60 greyhounds each year," he said. Gordon is also well-known through high-profile roles in greyhound racing. His contributions have included in 2016 being a vocal and pro-active representative on a steering committee that fought successfully to overturn a decision by then-Premier Mike Baird to ban the sport. But Gordon's attention this weekend will be squarely on Menangle, for the Breeders Championship Final. "We'll all be there, the girls and all of the extended family - we wouldn't miss it. Lochinvar Art's given us some fantastic memories already, and we're excited to be there and see what he can do," he said. "After that, if he's still going as well as he is now, we'll probably be looking at the Queensland Derby."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness Racing New South Wales has today announced another prizemoney injection elevating Tamworth's Golden Guitar to Group 2 status. Prizemoney for the time-honoured feature has doubled and the 2020 edition will be worth $50,000 in stakes. Minister responsible for racing and Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said the announcement shows that regional racing keeps going from strength to strength. "We want our regional racing scene to continue to grow, which is why this investment in Tamworth's Golden Guitar Harness Race is so important," said Mr Anderson. "The Country Music Festival in Tamworth is such an iconic event and we can celebrate an iconic harness race as part of it." This announcement further strengthens HRNSW's stance on regional feature racing, making the Golden Guitar the most prestigious harness event in the state's north. A record quarter-of-a-million-dollars will be distributed throughout the upcoming Golden Guitar Carnival, held over three meetings. Meanwhile record prizemoney, in excess of $1.5 million, will be distributed by the Tamworth HRC in the next financial year as advised by HRNSW Chairman Mr Rod Smith. "Our commitment to regional harness racing and in this instance the north-west is well demonstrated," said Mr Smith. "Next year HRNSW will provide $1.5 million in prizemoney at Tamworth double what was available to participants a short five years ago. "In the last four years the number of race meetings at Paceway Tamworth has increased from 20 to 30 and I compliment the Club and the participants for demonstrating to my Board how strong our industry is in the region." Tamworth Club Chair Ms Julie Maughan was thrilled by the announcement. "Absolutely rapt," said Ms Maughan. "My Board and the participants work hard for the betterment of the north-west and to achieve our objective one of which was Group status for our flagship race is fantastic for all. "This has been achieved through the generosity of HRNSW and we thank Rod (Smith), his fellow Board members and John (Dumesny) for providing the funding." To assure the future of harness racing in Tamworth, HRNSW purchased the Showground in 2016. Since, HRNSW has injected $1.5 million into the property by virtue of a roof over the race stalls, a new Officials Pod and other works to make the property more presentable. Also horses stabled and trained at the track have increased from 15 to 60 and the Club now conducts 30 meetings a year (in 2014 it was only allocated 20 meetings). Next year's Golden Guitar, on Thursday January 23, will be the 41st running of the feature. First run by the Tamworth Harness Racing Club in 1979, some quality pacers have won the event including in recent times Mach Beauty who then went on to contest the Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES  

Talented four-year-old Summit Special, who was bred, raised and sold by Yirribee Pacing Stud, hoisted the fastest time of the night - 1:50.7 - when he overwhelmed his harness racing rivals in a $25,000 semi-final of the NSW Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Saturday night (June 22). Starting from the No. 5 gate, the gelding was third last at the end of the opening 800 in 54.3. Following a 28.3 third stanza Summit Special was tipped three deep and closed with a 28.1 final fraction to down the highly fancied Ignatius by 3.7 metres. The win sent his stake earnings over the $50,000 mark. Summit Special will contest the Group 1 $100,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Menangle on Sunday afternoon (June 30). Summit Special is the fifth foal and third winner of Classic Counsel NZ (by In The Pocket), who is also the dam of the prolific Menangle and Albion Park victor Floyd Mayweather 1:53 ($326,492). Since producing Summit Special in 2014, Classic Counsel has left the three-year-old Im Rock Solid (6 placings) and a weanling filly by Warrawee Needy and is carrying a positive test to him. Meanwhile, another Yirribee sired and bred, Untythehood (Robin Hood-Aunty Jean), saluted for the eighth time overall and fifth time this season at Wagga on Friday (June 21). The five-year-old gelding rated a career-best 1:58.9 over 2270 metres. Yirribee Pacing Stud will this season offer an imposing roster of stallions in the Kiwi superstar Lazarus, former world record holder Warrawee Needy, Tintin In America, sire of the America's No. ranked racemare Shartin NZ, and the North America Cup and Adios winner Fear The Dragon.   Peter Wharton

Tamworth's Sarah Rushbrook ticked all the boxes with the win of Gotta Rush at last week's Tamworth harness meeting when listed as owner, breeder, trainer and driver. Gotta Rush won the Psarakis Accounting Pace after overcoming some inference on the first turn of the 1980 metre event before Rushbrook elected to travel three wide around the field to take the lead. "I got checked on the first turn and ended up three wide. I decided to push forward and the lead was there so I took it," said Rushbrook after the win. "I drove her like she was a good horse" added Rushbrook who is more than proud of the efforts of the four-year-old mare, especially after a short period of health issues with Gotta Rush." Gotta Rush gained her first win back in April 2018 at Narrabri followed by three minor placings before spending 10 months in the paddock with an unknown alignment. "We took her away from the track as we could not pin point the illness- even sent her to Randwick Equine with no result - but she is back on track now - and I'm glad," added Rushbrook. Gotta Rush resumed her racing back in April this year and with four runs back produced the impressive win. "She switched off turning for home - she only does what she needs to until something comes at her - then she is like a cattle dog and fights," relayed Rushbrook. Newcastle on Saturday night will be the next start for Gotta Rush who will commence from the three barrier in the Firestorm Fire Protection Brisbane Stakes. "I have to give her an opportunity," added Rushbrook with Gotta Rush having only 26 career starts for two wins and four placings. Young guns Jack Callaghan and Jake Hughes have been selected to represent the Hunter/North West Regions at this week's 2019 New South Wales Rising Star competition. The event pits some of the best and brightest young drivers from around the state against each other and sees them battle it out for the top prize. Callaghan at just 17, has had 35 career wins and states his father Mark Callaghan along with John and Todd McCarthy as his biggest career influences and is looking to make harness racing his career and to drive Group 1 winners. Hughes (Hunter/North) also aged 17 has had 27 career winning drives including his last winning drive being last Monday at the Maitland meeting behind Royal Lefty from the John Radley stables. The first round of heats will take place at Tacborp Park, Menangle on Tuesday. Tamworth will host its next harness racing meeting on June 27. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

SOME of the state's top up-and-coming young harness racing drivers have been selected to partake in this year's New South Wales Rising Stars series. Defending champion Madi Young is back to try and keep her title and will do battle with some drivers she competed against last year as well as some new editions. The fellow drivers include: --Blake Micallef (Riverina) --Codi Rauchenberger (Riverina) --Jordan Seary (Riverina) --Jack Callaghan (Hunter/North) --Jake Hughes (Hunter/North) --Justin Reynolds (Western Districts) --McKayler Barnes (Western Districts) --Josh Gallagher (Metropolitan) --Sean Grayling (Metropolitan) The first round of heats will take place at Tacborp Park Menangle next Tuesday before moving to Bathurst the following night, Penrith Thursday and Newcastle Friday. The final heat will take place on Alabar Breeders Challenge Finals Day at Menangle on Sunday June 30. Please click here to see the profiles of the 2019 NSW Rising Stars: https://www.hrnsw.com.au/news-events/events/nsw-rising-stars AMANDA RANDO HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES

Roll With Tricky deserved her win in the Hazell's Farm & Fertilizer Ladyship Pace at Tamworth. Harness racing punters were in agreement - when they sent Roll With Tricky out as the $2.70 favourite. "It was a nice draw and I wasn't too convinced about the 1980 metres but she went good," was how trainer and reinsman Sam Ison summed up the win of the five-year-old Roll With Joe mare. The two barrier was certainly to Roll With Tricky's liking, with her heading straight to the lead. She was joined by Always A Lexus (Madi Young) from the five barrier, who took up running outside of Roll With Tricky. "Always A Lexus was eyeballing us all the way but my mare kept going and didn't care," Ison said. With Always A Lexus kicking just ahead of Roll With Tricky by half a length as the pair raced out of the back straight on the final occasion, Roll With Tricky was prepared to take the challenge to Always A Lexus. "I tried to stay there and she didn't give up - she kicked again," said Ison of Roll With Tricky, who dominated down the home straight to come away for a metre win over last-start winner Whoseashadylady (Stacey Weidemann). Maghera Maggie (Anthony Varga) was another two metres away in third place. Roll With Tricky has shown some steadfastness over the past month, with a second in a heat of the Club Dubbo Golden Gig series at Tamworth. She then headed to Dubbo for that final on May 24 - where she finished second, beaten by six metres by Rocknroll Dude. "If we could have got out earlier in that Dubbo race, it would have been good. But we got stuck in a pocket and had to chase to the line, but we were happy with her run," Ison said. Roll With Tricky is raced by Ison's partner Naomi Newman. "As an owner I think Naomi is pleased - she does a lot of work with the horse as well," Ison said. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Bolwarra harness racing trainer-driver Geoff Dorn hopes Jodie Podie can pick up where her half-brother Sergei left off after winning on debut at Maitland on Monday. Jodie Podie (Mr Feelgood) showed strength late to win the opener, a three-year-old maiden over 1644 metres, as a $34 chance. The filly, which had trialled three times without winning, led from gate three and controlled the tempo before the Clayton Harmey-trained Alimonie headed her on the home bend. She fought back down the straight to win by a metre. "You don't know first-up," Dorn said of his expectations. "I knew she had a little bit of gate speed and once she found the front, she was always going to be hard to beat." Jodie Podie is out of the same mare, Jane Of Eden, as Sergei, which won four of 10 starts for Dorn, including his past three. The most recent victory was a Country series heat at Newcastle last October. The most impressive winner on the program was the Chris Bourke-trained Que Sera (Auckland Reactor), which came three wide down the back straight and burst clear to win race eight (1646m) by 12 metres in 1:56:8. Robert and KerryAnn Morris had a winning double with Gotta Be Downtown and Bettor To Be Tricky. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Could a shoeing alteration improve Jilliby Nitro again? The classy black colt is the shortest-priced favourite at Menangle this Saturday night at $1.05 with TAB Fixed Odds for his Alabar Breeders Challenge Semi-Final (1609m). He has already collected two Group 1 victories and a personal best winning mile rate of 1:52.6, how much more improvement can there be? After winning his Breeders Challenge heat at Menangle last Tuesday week, trainer Margret Lee investigated the fluency of his gait and made some changes. “He went around really well in his heat at Menangle but he went rough at a couple of stages so we made a few changes to his shoeing so hopefully this time he will pace a bit better,” said Lee. “He’s had this in all his races and talking to his breeder, he seems to think that when he is a three-year-old he won’t have this issue with his gait . . . it’s a bit of a maturity thing.” Despite this niggling issue, Jilliby Nitro won his qualifier by more than 12m. It was his fifth win in six starts. The son of Bettors Delight has stayed at the Menangle Park Training Centre since the victory. “He’s really good, he settles in wherever he goes and has eaten up well,” said Lee. “He fast worked on Wednesday and we’re really happy with him.” Drawn barrier two Saturday night there is only one plan for driver Glen Craven. “He’ll be going forward from that alley, he has the early speed to make the most of it,” said Lee. It will be a busy night for the Victorian stable with three starters in consecutive races. In race six Lee has Keayang Jackie in the Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies Semi-Final drawn 10. “It certainly makes it a lot harder when you’re drawn wider,” said Lee. “I was super happy with her in her heat, I had a little bit of trouble with her tying up so I was really happy with how she did it. “Whether she goes forward or not I’m not sure but she has done well in all her races and ran a quick last quarter last start which was very pleasing.” Keayang Jackie finished second in her heat to Didn’t I when they clocked the last quarter in 26.3 seconds. Lee’s final starter for the night is Jilliby Bandit in the Group 3 Golden Mile. “He’s been a travelling buddy for Nitro and it’s really worked out well so far, he won at Bathurst and he won in Brisbane and he has certainly helped Nitro settle in,” said Lee. “He’s been a bonus and improved the last six weeks after changing his feed.”   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Locally owned and trained nine-year-old harness racing pacer Ned Pepper has continued to produce unbelievable form by taking out his third regional Country Cup by winning at Peak Hill, New South Wales on Sunday afternoon.  Owned by Terry Jenner and trained by wife Katie Jenner, Ned Pepper made it three wins in Country cup class by defeating a strong field that included placegetters Tuapeka Glory and Hidden Courage in a mile rating of 1:58.7.  Ned Pepper got away nicely from gate three and settled behind early leaders Dazzle Me and Royal Story. He moved outside Royal Story at the top of the bend and showed superior speed down the home straight to clinch victory over the 2250m journey. Angela Hedges was again in the gig as she was for Ned Pepper's win in the Dubbo Stayers Pacers Cup on May 24. Ned Pepper and connections after the win at Dubbo last month.   He'd previously taken out the Leeton Pacers Cup and the more recent Dubbo Stayers Pacers Cup to take his career winnings to more than $131,000. His record now includes 18 wins and 28 minors, a great effort for the veteran pacer.  With a best winning mile rate of 1:55.5 to his credit, and a winners cheque of $7,200 from his win at Peak Hill, many around the district are hoping the wins keep coming for the likeable couple who have invested many hours of hard work in their small but successful team. Young harness racing trainers Todd Day, Troy Fletcher and Mark Cullen entered pacers in Menangle Series heats raced at Goulburn on Monday afternoon. Fletcher's-trained seven-year-old mare Mah Koo Loo Queen was looking to capitalise on good recent form including a win at West Wyalong and three second placed finishes at Bathurst, Canberra and Wagga. By Stuart Maxwell Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness

Millers Forest harness racing trainer Chris Bourke will chase a first group race success when Que Sera competes in the Go Girlfriend Series Final at Menangle Park on Saturday night. Que Sera has won three of 22 starts for Bourke since coming to his stable last December. The four-year-old will start from gate nine of 10 in the $30,000 group 3 mares race on Saturday night after securing a place with second to Love My Sister in a heat at Newcastle on May 31. Que Sera (Auckland Reactor), with Blake Fitzpatrick to drive, was $41 with TAB on Friday and Bourke was not discounting her chances. "It's good to make the final in any group race," Bourke said. "They are all an even bunch and lightly assessed. "There's a couple of good ones, of courses. [Luke] McCarthy's got one out of the good mare Fleur De Lil, Love My Sister, that won the Newcastle heat ours came second in. She's a handy type. "Ours has pulled up good, and it just all depends how the race is run. "She's drawn bad but she's got no gate speed anyway.  "All the better ones are in the same boat except the good one from Queensland, [Rocknroll Pearl], it's got a bit of gate speed." Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan and his son Jack have a busy night across the Menangle and Newcastle meetings on Saturday night. The stable has genuine chances with Vega Star in the first and Downunder Stride in the fifth at Menangle. Jack will drive strong hopes Repartee in race eight and Glenn Ford in the fourth at Newcastle for his dad. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Accomplished NSW Central Tablelands harness racing trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt has been riding high of late...in more ways than one! Hewitt, who is based at Georges Plains, a small town just 15kms south of Bathurst, is enjoying his most successful season ever. "We recently chalked up our 107th winner. We've been getting a few doubles here and there so everything is going along nicely," he said. "There's still a few months of the season remaining so hopefully we can keep adding to the tally. Our previous best was last season, when we had 101 winners." Hewitt, who has been driving for 40 years, showed his horsemanship talents recently at a Young meeting. "Yes I reckon I got lucky," he said laughing. "I did end up with a nice burn mark and bruise on my lower back. But it certainly could have been a lot worse." Hewitt was driving five-year-old mare Ima Black Beauty (Always A Virgin-Jungle Talk (Die Laughing) in the Telstra Shop Young Pace. After moving three wide early and racing in the death seat, Hewitt launched an attack at race leader About The Attitude (Melissa Hawke) with 500 metres to go. The pair raced stride-for-stride until Ima Black Beauty got a half to three-quarters length clear into the home corner. Hewitt said his horse hung in a bit onto the leader. "As a result, I got shot out of my sulky seat and landed on the edge of the shaft with one leg out the side," he said. "I was probably lucky that the newer gigs are a bit more balanced because otherwise I don't think I I would've been able to scramble back in. "I've certainly had my share of spills over the years, and I did think for a moment 'here we go again!'" But Hewitt's experience showed through. After losing the lead in the scramble, he regained his composure and rallied to get up and win by the barest of margins, a short half head. View the video replay! CLICK HERE! One of Bernie's sons, his stable foreman Douglas, also landed a winner at the meeting, but without any acrobatics. He was successful on Theagenes (Art Major-Willing Greek (Golden Greek) in the 2yo Pace. And there's never going to be a shortage of drivers at the Hewitt stable, which is working 35 horses at the moment, with Douglas' brother Jason back home after spending time away through work commitments. Jason, who was heavily involved years ago, has been refreshing his skills at the trials and is happy to be third string driver. It's a real family affair with Bernie's wife, Cathy also hands-on around the stables, while their daughter Gemma, married to Mat Rue, prepare a big team just down the road.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former champion Kiwi harness racing driver Anthony Butt, now based in Sydney, was bubbling with confidence earlier this week when he got off to a flyer at Tuesday's Menangle meeting, with a Group Two victory. It was the perfect start and Butt went on to snare three winners - but his day could have been one better. "If I hadn't pulled the wrong rein later, I could have finished with four winners, but that's the way it goes - I had the choice of drives and went the wrong way," a philosophical Butt said. The Group Two win was for the Danny and Leroy O'Brien training combination, hailing from a small town near Ararat. The father and son combination got the chocoloates in the $30,000 NSW Trot 2YO Final with Mollys Purse (Eileen Donon USA-Golly Kosmos (Sierra Kosmos USA) for owner-breeder, Michelle Wonson. The win was courtesy of Anthony Butt's familiar, well-judged, front-running style driving. "The first quarter of a tick over 30 secs was okay, and then I was able to back right off with 33.2 and 32.3 splits which set it up nicely for us. She stretched out in 29.3 to the finish line and was quite comfortable," he said. "We were out there to get the Group win on the board, not to break records, and we achieved that without too many worries." Starting on the third level of betting at 7/1 behind the more fancied Artzen ($1.95 fav) and Sunny Gee ($2.15), Butt was able to rate Mollys Purse to his liking. "That was the first time I've driven for them, so it was a bit special and she's a nice little filly who did the job pretty easy," he said. "They are going to have a lot of fun because she was a little green and she has some growing to do. "I don't know what the plans are, but perhaps after a few runs, and then a break, she will certainly come back bigger and better." Anthony Butt's brother, highly respected trainer, Tim, also showed a Midas touch on the day with a treble, preparing the winners of races two, three and six. Anthony was the driver on two of the Butt stable winners but jumped the wrong way with the third. The Golden Lion (Peak DNK-Young Monkey), despite not displaying his best manners in the score up, got his act together for James Rattray and won by 11 metres over stablemate Running Free. Mile rate for the 3yo and older trotters' event was 2.01-4. "It's not much use complaining because I could have driven either, but James is a good friend and as the second stringer, he got the winning drive, so that was nice." The Butt boys combined in the T2 to T4 Trotters mobile to score on $1.45 fav. Majestic Courtney (Majestic Son-Courtneyrae (Armbro Invasion). "They are all capable square gaiters and should continue racing well for a while," trainer Tim said. "I like them a lot so hopefully they keep getting the job done." Four-year-old mare Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Changeover-Back In The USSR (Presidential Ball) was one of the outsiders at 14/1 in the Christmas In July at Club Menangle Pace, but looked impressive. Well handled by Anthony for brother Tim, she downed the $2.30 favorite by three metres in 1.56. The brothers are both based at the Menangle Training Centre with Tim, being a more familiar face having been there over 18 months. "I've cut back to 25 after getting rid of a few off the bottom rung and recently moved into a new barn," Tim said. "We had another treble a few weeks ago and I've now trained over fifty for the season so it's shaping up well." Anthony, who trains with partner Sonya Smith, prepares a relatively smaller team of six or seven to allow him time to take outside driving commitments. The Inter Dominion Hall of Famer moved to Menangle in October and describes the Menangle track as "very fair". "By this I mean every horse gets its chance," he said. "And there's plenty of racing here. There's racing at Menangle twice a week and other country meetings like Penrith if you want to go there. "We've got a few going around at present, one of the best is Reign On Me, who's a winner of three of his last five." Anthony has won nearly every major race across Australasia in almost four decades in the sport and first crossed the Tasman in 2014 for a four-year stint in Victoria. But there's every appearance he's most content these days as a Sydneysider! "We are finding it far less hectic than Victoria where we were always on the go," he said. "There was a fair bit of travelling back and forwards and we decided to stay in Sydney because of the racing and lifestyle. "It's a lot quieter and while you are competing in less races, the stakemoney is just so good." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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