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Cessnock reinsman Blake Hughes is confident Portalegre can win on Friday night as his battle with Tom Ison for the Newcastle harness racing drivers' premiership comes down to the wire. Hughes, who celebrated his 18th birthday last Friday, holds a one-win advantage over Ison heading into the final meeting of the season at Newcastle Paceway. Both have racked up centuries statewide to top the NSW concession drivers' premiership. Ison, with 114, is six ahead of Hughes. However, Hughes has the edge 62 to 61 at Newcastle, where Ison has six drives on Friday night. Hughes has only four - Dollys On A Roll, Fantasize, Portalegre and Platinum Revolution - and all are for his boss and premiership winner Clayton Harmey. Newcastle premiership or not, Hughes has had a remarkable first full season of driving, which has included the Tamworth title. "It would be good to get [the title], but if doesn't happen, it doesn't happen," Hughes said. "I'm very happy with the season and I probably couldn't have gone better. I never thought I'd get close to a hundred in a season in my whole career, so it's good to get that." Dollys On A Roll starts from the outside of the front line in race one after breaking but still winning last start on June 1. The filly also won on debut for Harmey in May when Hughes had his only race drive with her. He has also taken her to two recent trial victories. "She goes pretty good, even though she does a bit wrong," he said. "It's a hard race but still, she should go all right. She's played up before but she's been good this time in." Fantasize has drawn gate one in race three. "One is probably not that good for her because she hasn't got great gate speed, but hopefully she can come out better," he said. His best chance is Portalegre, which has drawn three in the fourth. He has won four of his past six starts and was a comfortable victor at the track on August 17. "I've been going really good with him and I think over a mile this week, he should go good," he said. "I don't think anything would beat him if he got to the top." Platinum Revolution won six in a row for Harmey but last raced in February. "She had a trial and went around 54, so she should be right," Hughes said. Ison will hunt three wins in a row with Motu Sapphire (race one). He also has strong hopes with Deanne Panya (five) and Let's Blaze (seven). His other drives are Mac Toddy, Yayas Hot Heart and Laceys Lad. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Cessnock driver Blake Hughes hit a century of winners for the season and edged ahead in the Newcastle harness racing premiership with a double on Friday night. Hughes won on Soho Sinatra for boss Clayton Harmey and the Joseph Rees-trained Mammals Riddle to reach 100 statewide in 2019-20. It put him one ahead of Tom Ison in the Newcastle premiership. Ison had one win, on Roy Roots jnr-trained Artful Jack. Ison leads the state concession drivers' title on 104, four up on Hughes. Harmey, the runaway leader in the Newcastle trainers' premiership, also had a double on Friday night. Three-year-old Soho Sinatra was victorious on debut for the Cessnock stable before Gold Reactor won with Leigh Sutton in the gig. Four meetings remain in the season at Newcastle Paceway, which races again on Friday night. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Morisset hobby trainer Jason Cook is savouring every race with My Blue Heeler as he chases a third win in row on Friday night at harness racing's Newcastle Paceway. The six-year-old, which will contest race one, won at the track last Friday night and on Monday, taking his career tally to six. Cook had My Blue Heeler as a foal and broke him in before owner Athol Lange took him to Queensland. After only two starts, he bowed a tendon then spent the next 18 months in a paddock. When offered, Cook gladly took the horse back, even paying the transport costs. "I got him up and going and he won within his first four starts for me, then he bowed a tendon again," Cook said. "He's bowed a tendon three times and I've got him back each time. It could go again tomorrow but whether he's racing or not, he's always going to be my mate. Once retired, he's going to live his life out with me." Cook said he faced a tougher task on Friday against the likes of Yoha and The Tiger Army. Race one of eight starts at 5.14pm. "It's a harder race because Yoha is in it, he's a good horse from New Zealand, and Corporal Jujon has won its past two as well," he said. "He's going to have to be at his best but he's the type of horse that can sit in the death and run even sectionals, and take the sprint out of the other horses. But he can sit back and still win if the speed is on as well." Glenn Bull again has the drive on My Blue Heeler, which has gate five. Cessnock reinsman Blake Hughes has six drives on the program as he looks for two wins to reach 100 for the season statewide. Hughes is also level with Tom Ison in the Newcastle premiership with five meetings remaining. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Kevin Warby believes a bad barrier may cost A Paradigm Shift in the opening race at Newcastle Paceway on Friday night, but the Denman harness racing trainer already feels a winner with the four-year-old he bred and races. A Paradigm Shift (Pet Rock) has won his past two starts at Newcastle - just three days apart - but he faces a tougher task from the extreme outside gate in a slightly higher grade on Friday night. Warby said the sit-sprint specialist would have to go back from the poor draw and be driven for luck, but he was grateful to still have the pacer at all. "We're lucky to still have him," Warby said. "He got his leg caught up in a fence as a two-year-old and he ripped his leg open just above the coronet band and it was only millimetres away from the flexor tendon. "The vets told me I would have to put him down, but I said 'he hasn't cut the flexor tendon, so I can fix that'. "I just bandaged it up with honey for three months, I just kept changing the honey bandage every three to four days and we got him back on the racetrack and he's won six races since they told me to put him down. "If he wasn't already named, I would have named him Revenant, which means back from the dead." Race one is 5.05pm. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Central Mangrove harness racing trainer Roy Roots jnr will look to cap a memorable few days for his family with wins at Newcastle Paceway on Monday. Roots jnr had a winning double at Newcastle on Friday night with The Big Dig and Topsky. His wife, Cherie Tritton, owns Topsky. The trainer's brother-in-law, Shane Tritton, and his wife, Lauren, then made a stunning debut in the US, winning with their first two starters, My Ruebe Star and Gods Spirit, at Meadowlands. The Trittons, who grew up in the Hunter and dominated harness racing in the region for the best part of a decade, moved from Menangle to the US in March. Back home, Roots jnr went close to a winning return to Menangle racing on Saturday night with The Black Prince and Pitch Perfect. In the first Menangle meeting since the end of COVID-19 regional restrictions, The Black Prince was second in the group 3 Golden Mile. Pitch Perfect was a close second in heats of a series with a $30,000 final. Doubledelightbrigade (Michael Formosa) and Royal Gamble (Mark Callaghan) were also second in heats. Pacing returns to Newcastle on Monday and Roots jnr has She's Our Sapphire (race one), He's The Warrior (six) and Marty Major (eight) as top hopes. Craig Kerry  Reprinted with permission of Newcastle Herald

Holmesville's Aaron Garaty will look to Elite Bobby, Nishabro and Yesnomaybeso to give him a winner at Newcastle on Friday night after going close twice last week in his return to harness racing driving. Garaty was second last Saturday night at the track with Yesnomaybeso and The Tiger Army, which are also trained by his partner, Kylie Barnes, who has six in work. It was Garaty's first time driving since before a six-month disqualification, in June last year, for a positive swab. He returned to the gig when COVID-19 regional restrictions made it difficult to find a regular driver. "I wasn't really going to drive again but with COVID happening, we weren't able to get the same driver," Garaty said. "Every time a field came out we were looking so we just decided I'd drive. "We had our first run the other night. We had a good night but we were a bit unlucky not to get a couple of winners, but they all went as good as they can, so hopefully we can back up this week and go one better." Yesnomaybeso has gate four in race four, while Elite Bobby and Nishabro are off the second line in the fifth and sixth respectively. "Yesnomaybeso went super last week," he said. "This is probably a bit tougher but he's drawn forward and we've got options. He'll be thereabouts in the end. "Nishabro's had only one start for Kylie and went probably the quickest last half she ever has. She's going really good and just needs a bit of luck in running to be somewhere in the money. "Elite Bobby's last two runs have been super and hopefully he can put it all together and go one better." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Ellalong harness racing reinsman Michael Formosa will look to Beersinmypocket to repeat his debut effort at Newcastle Paceway on Monday. Formosa had a training double at the track on Saturday night with Si Si Senor and Jackeroo Shannon but will be a driver only on Monday. The best on his book is the Ray Harkness-trained four-year-old Beersinmypocket, which Formosa steered to a 29-metre win in the wet at Newcastle on May 18. He will start from the second line on Monday in race three. "It looks above average so hopefully he has a trouble-free run tomorrow and he should go close to winning again," Formosa said. On Saturday night, Jackeroo Shannon led all the way with Formosa aboard, while Jack Callaghan gave Si Si Senor a perfect run behind the pace before he finished over the top of Regal Rock. Formosa is training Jackeroo Shannon for Tamworth's Sarah Rushbrook while she recovers from injuries suffered in a fall in March. Si Si Senor came back from a poor last-start run when ninth. "He's a pretty nice horse when he's right and I was confident he would run well," he said of Si Si Senor. "He had a bug then he ran a really good race after he recovered. But I backed him up a week later and he just couldn't go." "I've just got to space his runs out a bit now." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

A lot has happened in the three decades that have passed since Dean Chapple trained his first harness racing winner. Love. Marriage. Relocation from Maitland to Moonbi, where and he his wife, Julie, remain. Two children: Elly, a promising teenage reinswoman, and Jack. To name but a few key moments in his life. Chapple also went on to forge a successful career as a driver and a trainer. But try as he might, none of the horses he trained qualified for a Group 1 race. That changed at Newcastle on Saturday night, when Emm Aye Dee won heat one of the TAB Hunter Region Championships. Chapple also drove the horse. At Newcastle on May 23, the four-year-old bay mare will contest the $100,000 final. Chapple, 50, described making the final as a "dream comes true". "Ever since the horse was sent to me [earlier this year], the owners have had this race in the pipeline," he said. "I really didn't think we were good enough to be there. "But, anyway, he [the owner] was right and I was wrong ... she's improved and [is] really thriving on the racing up here." DREAM TEAM: Dean Chapple, his daughter Elly and TAB Hunter Region Championships hopeful Right On With It. Chapple and Emm Aye Dee have formed a formidable combination - two wins and two thirds from four starts. He hopes to have a second horse qualify for the TAB Hunter Region Championships Final. He would have a big decision if that happens: which one to drive. Right On With It finished fourth in heat two of the championships at Newcastle on Saturday, and will qualify for the final by winning heat eight at Newcastle on Friday night. So it's off my bucket list. It's great. Dean Chapple "At the end of the day, win, lose or draw, we're there [in the final]," Chapple said. "So it's off my bucket list. It's great." After a lean period, Chapple has come good. A real student of the industry, he is always looking to improve. "Obviously being in a race like this it's the next level. So I've gotta tick all the boxes going into this race." By Mark Bode Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Premier Hunter Valley trainer Clayton Harmey believes Straddie and Western Heir's Regional Championships (2030 metres) heats on Friday night at Newcastle Paceway are "their races to lose" after favourable draws on Wednesday. Straddie drew two in heat nine and Western Heir gate three in the seventh when fields for the second and final round of qualifiers for the $100,000 group 1 decider at Newcastle on May 23 were released. The winners of the 10 heats will contest the final and Harmey already has Kanye Crusader in the race. Kanye Crusader, also owned and bred by Harmey, was the longest-priced of the Cessnock trainer's trio on night one of the series last Saturday at Newcastle. Straddie and Western Heir finished well back in their races, but Blake Hughes took Kanye Crusader to the lead from gate five in heat two and he controlled the pace to win by 6.4 metres in 1:57:9. Harmey had set Straddie and Western Heir for the series but Kanye Crusader's entry was an afterthought. "It was a massive run," Harmey said. "Before the race we put the gig on him and I said to Blake, 'what do you reckon here?' He said 'I'll lead and win'. I said, 'Get into it but I don't like your chances'. "I didn't think he would cross and he did a fair bit of work to cross. When he tried to get a break, he got attacked, but Blake drove him good because he got a cheap third quarter and that helped us. "When everyone was starting to move, he kicked away, and Blake said he was strong." Straddie and Western Heir both started from gate six last week and finished seventh and eighth respectively after tough runs. Harmey believed better draws this week would help them challenge and he expected both to lead. "Western Heir got caught outside the leader and they ran the second and third quarters in 28s, and it was just too hard," he said of last Saturday night. "He's got the lesser chance of the two this week because Roll With Lachlan [gate eight] is in his heat. He was very good last week, but we've got the draw advantage. "Straddie's draw is good and there's not much in his race, so he's got every chance. "His run was a wee bit ordinary last week but again, he was three wide for the lead time and they ran 29.7 and not many get home once you break 30 for the lead time, especially three wide working forward. "On paper his run looks ordinary, but if you do the times and sectionals, he was up against it from the start. "Both seem to have pulled up well, so they are their races to lose really. Everything has fallen my way with the draws. "These two horses are really in a different league to Kanye Crusader, but they've got to prove it." Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding had top hopes in four heats last week without success. Rocknlachlan (heat six, gate six), Roll With Lachlan (heat seven, gate eight), Jasper Styles (heat eight, gate two) and The Choreographer (heat nine, gate one) return on Friday night. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding believes all four of his hopes can make the $100,000 Regional Championship final on May 23 but a lack of harness racing may mean some will have a better chance in round two of the heats at Newcastle Paceway. Round one of the series, open to Australian-bred pacers over four years old and rated under 71 on handicap, will be held on Saturday night at Newcastle with five heats offering the winners a spot in the decider. Remarkably, Harding and his son Matthew, who will drive the horses, have the favourites in four heats. Jasper Styles (Tiz A Masterpiece) has gate one in heat one and was the $2.50 top pick on Friday, just ahead of Clayton Harmey-trained Western Weir ($2.60). Rocknlachlan (Rock N Roll Heaven) was a $1.55 chance from gate four in heat two, Roll With Lachlan (Roll With Joe) was $1.85 from the same barrier in the third, while The Choreographer (A Rocknroll Dance) was the $2.20 favourite from three in the fourth. Harding was thrilled with the barriers, taken from a random draw, for his team, but he was wary of facing fitter opposition. Jasper Styles and Roll With Lachlan are second-up, while their two stablemates are first-up this preparation. "They are going as good as they can be without racing," Harding said. "They probably lack a little bit of racing but I've been working them pretty well. "I had Jasper Styles and The Choreographer nominated for races but they never got runs, so I've missed out on a run there that would have topped them off beautifully. "But The Choreographer had a really strong trial the other week and he went really good. "Rocknlachlan is coming back from a fairly long spell and when they had this big race coming up, I just kept him ticking over, just waiting for it, and the same with his brother, Roll With Lachlan. "Roll With Lachlan has had one run back and he went well that night [when second]. It was his first since January and it was only three weeks ago, so they will know he's in the race. But he's in the hardest race, I'd say. "I think ours can be right in this with no bad luck and if everything goes to plan." Horses which fall short of qualifying on Saturday night can back up in the second round of heats next Friday night. Harding believed his team would be better for their efforts in round one. "If anything needs a bit of a run, hopefully they can improve on that and they'll get in the second night," he said. "It would be nice to win a couple of heats, get a couple into the final and get that out of the way. "But they should all go all right." The series, one of four across the state, replaces the Million Dollar Pace, which had to be abandoned because of the regionalisation of the industry under COVID-19 restrictions. The conditions of the series, which include the races at 2030 metres, have suited the Harding stable. "They are great races, it's good money and close to home," he said. "The 2000m suits us even better because all of ours are pretty tough." He believed Rocknlachlan and Roll With Lachlan were his best hopes. "Rocknlachlan has got the form and if he was rock hard, none in that series would get near him," he said. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Polly Downing will chase another against-the-odds win with Elsie Gem on Monday at Newcastle after the mare put the cherry on top of a special few days for her harness racing trainer, owner and breeder. Elsie Gem, an $81 shot, made the most of her chances at Newcastle on Friday night to score a narrow win, which was her first in more than a year. It came just eight days after Downing and her husband, Paul Bourke, welcomed their first child, son Harry, into the world. Maitland reinsman Dan Morgan gave the family more cause for celebration when he kept Elsie Gem on the pace and out of trouble as odds-on favourite Topsky twice galloped in race five. Elsie Gem, a six-year-old mare which last won in April 2019, then ground out a half-head win over Lovin Everyday. Topsky regrouped to sprint home for third. It was an exciting win for Downing, who has only Elsie Gem in work. Her parents, John and Helen Downing, have been looking after Elsie Gem in recent times. "It's been 12 months so she likes this time of the year," Polly said of the win. "She fought on well and it's been a very exciting time." Elsie Gem will back up from the outside gate in race six on Monday. "It's a tougher race and the draw doesn't help," she said. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Salt Ash trainer-driver Glenn Bull expects the work of equine chiropractor Tony Jones to help bring more success to his stable at Newcastle Paceway on Friday night. Bull has Regal Rock in race three and Can't Explain It in the sixth on the eight-event program. Regal Rock returned to form with a win two weeks ago at Newcastle, fighting back to beat Roll With Lachlan by 3.8 metres in a 1:56.8 mile rate over 2030m. The former Queensland-based gelding announced himself as a potential city class pacer with a mile win in 1:53.9 at Newcastle last July but his form since has been patchy. Bull believed gear changes and Jones had helped get Regal Rock back firing. "We've had a lot of problems with him," Bull said. "He lost half the sole of his wall on one foot and it took us a while to get that right, and he's also been really sore. "Tony went over him before he won, and I said he'd run second the week before, and Tony said he was surprised the horse could do anything. He did it on three legs. "He said he should be right now, and he was. They ran quick time and he got hammered in front as well, so I think we've got him back to right now." Can Explain It, winless since July, was second last start at Newcastle and Bull expected another strong effort. "Tony went over him because he'd been going ordinary and he said he was sore too, and worse than Rocky," he said. "He came out and led and ran second, and that was his best run in a long time." "Tony's gone over him again and he's right now, so I'm hoping the two of them go well." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald  

Harness racing driver Guy Chapple doesn't usually rue a draw in gate one, but he is concerned about temperamental colt Roclea Ruler handling the inside start at Newcastle Paceway on Saturday night. The Maitland reinsman will drive Roclea Ruler in race seven, a HRNSW Guaranteed 2YO Pace, in its third career outing. Chapple and his son, Mitch, decided against a Bathurst Gold Crown campaign with Roclea Ruler, which instead raced at Newcastle on March 21. He galloped twice just after the start but still finished strongly for third. Last Saturday at Newcastle, he finished second after improving his manners from a wide gate in a careful start before moving up to sit outside the lead. Chapple hoped he could repeat the starting effort from the inside gate. "Barrier one looks an ideal draw but it's probably the worst he could draw because he just wants to get around," Chapple said. "If he does everything right, he should be too good for them, but he's just got that bit of doubt on him. "He just wants a few runs, and hopefully he can win one and we'll geld him and give him a month off. "He's just learning and he's very, very green. He's always shown something. He showed a lot as a yearling, but he's a bit young and dumb." He also likes his chances with Barry Matterson-trained Babyitscold in race one. They were a close second first-up last week. "It looks well placed there," Chapple said. "It went really good but probably needed the run. It looks an easier race this week and she's drawn a bit better." He drives the Cameron Davies-trained Free The Magic the second from the inside of the second row.. "That horse it going OK but I've had no luck with him," he said. "Just getting out late and bad barriers, and we've got another one this week." Meanwhile, Chapple said Gold Tiara finalist La Cabeza Gem was set to return next Saturday at Newcastle.   Craig Kerry   Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald        

Morisset reinsman Jack Callaghan savoured a special win on Yourblueyescrying as part of a harness racing career-best five victories at one meeting at Newcastle Paceway on Monday. The 18-year-old, who dominated Hunter Valley pacing in 2018-19 with 50 victories in his first full season, had just one winning treble before Monday's breakthrough success on the eight-race card. He guided Miss Ciriello, Yourblueyescrying, Repartee, Misterfire and For The Bettor to wins in consecutive events. To watch the replay of Miss Cirello click here To watch the replay of Yourblueyescrying click here To watch the replay of Repartee click here To watch the replay of Misterfire click here To watch the replay of For The Bettor click here "I thought I had a pretty good book going into it but you never expect to have days like them, so it was good to pull it off," Callaghan said. The 1.5-metre win of Yourblueyescrying, trained by Chris Bourke, was a highlight for Callaghan. The mare was bred and is owned by Dean Latter and his late wife Anne Bourke, who died in February when hit by a car while crossing a road at Heddon Greta. Yourblueyescrying had not won since July 2018. "That was a pretty special win," Callaghan said. "Dean and the rest of the family were rapt with that and I was just lucky to be a part of a special win like that." Callaghan started his winning streak with the Margot Lennox-trained Miss Ciriello. "She's racing really well at the moment and when she gets into the lead or a forward position, she seems to really relish that," he said. "Margot has her going really good at the moment and it was good to get a win on her." Jack's father, Mark, trains Repartee and For The Bettor, while Misterfire, which hung on in a photo finish, is trained by Joe Clark. "It was good to get a win for Joe, he's a mate of ours and he really enjoyed it," Jack said.   By Craig Kerry   Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Newcastle Paceway will host a second harness racing Group 1 race this year after four new regional series, each with a $100,000 final, were announced on Tuesday to replace the Million Dollar Pace. A regionalisation of the industry, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and government regulations, forced Harness Racing NSW to abandon the new Million Dollar Pace, which was to include statewide heats and a final at Menangle. In its place, HRNSW has introduced the Regional Championships. The metropolitan, western districts, Riverina and Hunter regions will each conduct two rounds of $9500 heats and a final. Menangle, Newcastle, Wagga and Bathurst will host each series, which will have a maximum of five heats per round and also a $14,500 consolation final. HRNSW chief John Dumesny said the new races would give trainers the chance to place horses set for the now abandoned series. "From last February all eligible horses must have been located and trained in a specific region, so this aspects remains in place," he said. "The championships dates have been held to the schedule previously set for the Million Dollar Pace so the training of horses specifically set for that race series is not affected." Heats start at Menangle on May 5, Bathurst on May 6, Wagga on May 8 and Newcastle on May 9. The Newcastle second round of heats are on May 15, with the final on May 23. The race, at least for this year, will give the track two Group 1 features. The Newcastle Mile was elevated to $100,000, Group 1 status last year. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permision of The Newcastle Herald

Former top Hunter Valley harness racing trainer-driver Keith McDeed will be after his first winner in more than 15 years when he steers Dennington Heights in race one at Newcastle Paceway on Saturday night. The 64-year-old from East Maitland, well known for his achievements with 1993 Newcastle Mile champion Medowie Prince, returned to race driving last month with a fourth on Aaron Goadsby-trained A Gift From Heaven at the Broadmeadow track. Although a regular racegoer, McDeed had not trained or driven a pacer in a race since 2004. The comeback came after he started helping Goadsby work horses of a morning at his Singleton stables about 18 months ago. "I had a lot injuries before and I just needed a break, I suppose, at the time as well and I thought I was finished," McDeed said of his time away. "But when you start driving them again, it's always in the blood a bit. "[Goadsby] asked if I could go give him a hand, and I was doing it a little bit tough at the time with a couple of personal issues, and it helped me along at the time. "I had to get a stablehand licence anyway so I said I may as well get my driving licence too, just in case [stable driver] Guy [Chapple] gets suspended or he's away, and I can drive if I have to. "It's not about driving every day or week, just when I'm needed." McDeed said about 10 broken bones from falls across 40 years of driving pacers had taken its toll before his spell away but he was enjoying his time back in the sport. He said part of the reason for his return was for his harness racing-mad son, Cameron, 13, who "had never seen me even work a horse". Dennington Heights looks capable of delivering McDeed a first victory back when he starts from gate four in the opener of a 10-race program on Saturday night. The five-year-old gelding was third at Newcastle on debut for Goadsby then a dead-heat winner at the track last week. "It's no star but he's an honest horse," McDeed said. "He's up in grade a bit tomorrow but he should go all right. But I don't know if he's entitled to be favourite. "When he came to Aaron, he had a few problems, so he changed a bit of gear on him and worked him a bit different, and he seems to be a lot more settled in his races, so that's a plus." McDeed takes the drive on Dennington Heights with Chapple away at Bathurst. Chapple steered two-year-old filly La Cabeza Gem, trained by his son, Mitch, into next Saturday night's group 1 $100,000 Gold Tiara (1730m) final with an 18-metre heat win on Wednesday night. The colts and geldings series, the Gold Crown, started with heats on Friday night. Singleton trainer Dean Ingold's Samuel John, Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa's Sneaky Peak, Maitland-trained Jackomondo (Peter Hedges) and Sunshine Pepper (Rod Atkins) were unplaced in their heats as favourites Rocknroll Runa, Tasty Delight and Lochinvar Chief won through to the final. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald        

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