Day At The Track
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What do All Eyes On Us, Make Mine Cullen, Sly Flyin, Smiling Shard, Our Galvinator, Young Rufus, Royal Mattjesty, Miss Galvinator, Fleur De Lil, Sushi Sushi, Sabilize and Captain Rufus have in common? Not only were they among the best of their crop, each has a relative engaged in Saturday’s Sydney leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale. Furthermore, each relative is part of the Bunstud collection, which is destined to attract its share of attention and bidders. Operated by the Judd family since 2008, Bendstud has also been the initial home to names such as Philadelphia Man, Bellas Delight, Bling It On, Eljaykay Pheonix, Niki No No, Royal Treat and Soho Valencia. With all that taken into consideration, it’s easy to understand why Benstud’s latest eight offerings are destined to be well sough-after. As expected, each is by a top sire from a good producing broodmare or classy race mare, such as Lot 292. By Mach Three, the filly is from All Eyes On Me - a feature winning mare which has emulated her racing feats in the breeding barn. All Eyes On Me boasts four winners from five starters, including All Eyes On Us, which is engaged in Sunday’s Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle. For those wanting a closer look at the filly, Benstud has led the way with a brilliant idea….’jogger cam’. Simply follow this link to see unedited footage of Lot 292, and all of the yearlings, in action behind a jogger. All Eyes On Me’s daughter will be joined by fillies via lots 325, 340, 342 and 381. For those looking to purchase a colt, they are lots 306, 307 and 479. As mentioned, each is by a leading sire such as Somebeachsomewhere, Well Said, Mach Three, Sportswriter and Courage Under Fire. The various dams are Bella Shine (306), Bendall Rose (307), Cunning Kate (325), Flair For Life (340), Formalize (342), La Bella Rufus (381) and To Die With Dignity (479). PAUL COURTS

Hunter Cup hero Arden Rooney broke the Terang harness racing track record when he captured the club’s Cup last night. Trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, Arden Rooney rated a slick 1:57.3 for the 2680-metre trip, slashing 1.1 seconds off Sir Galvinator’s record set in February 2007. Thrilled with the performance, owner Merv Butterworth stated he has no regret bypassing the Inter Dominion with the son of Bettor’s Delight. “I didn't want to take him to Sydney for the Supplementary heat, so I took him out of the series,” Butterworth said. “With the form he is in he would have given a good showing in the series, but the decision was made. “This Cup is a great race to win and now we will head to the Geelong Cup with him next week. Little fish can be twice as sweet.” Pushed through from his second row draw, Arden Rooney settled in the ‘death seat’, as Keayang Steamer worked to the lead. Overpowering the pacemaker leaving the back straight, the gelding cruised to a strong 13-and-a-half metre win from Steam Washed, with Lovable Larrikin 10 metres away third. Covering the last half in 55.7 seconds, Arden Rooney extended his record to 13 wins and 14 placings from 38 starts. PAUL COURTS

One little-known fact to the wider population is Australia has two family Kelly Gangs! While one, led by iconic bushranger Ned, is famed throughout the nation, the other is just as renowned in harness racing circles. The equine Kelly clan includes Albert Kelly, Greg Kelly, Mcraes Mate, Macca Kelly, Frith, Lady Waratah, Classic Garry, Provocative, Royal Verdict, Modern Girl and Hexham Heartbeat to name a select group. As of next week’s Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Sale, bidders have the opportunity to purchase the latest promising member of the family. The youngster in question is part of the outstanding line up from Yirribee Pacing Stud and will enter the ring as lucky Lot 333. An athletic looking filly, this yearling has everything going for her. Her sire – Mach Three – has a tremendous record with his daughters, while her dam – Elizabeth Kelly – comes from one of the strongest maternal bloodlines in the Southern Hemisphere. Elizabeth Kelly is from award winning broodmare Miss Paula, which boasts eight winners from nine starters. A successful race mare, with her wins including the Group One Seymour Nursery, Miss Paula is the dam of three Group One winners. Along with being in the rich APG race series, Lot 333 is eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown and New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. PAUL COURTS

Local harness racing favourite Danni Hill grabbed a slice of harness racing history at Globe Derby last night. Hill guided boom filly Whats Emma Got to an impressive victory in the South Australia Oaks to become just the second reinswoman to capture the Blue Riband. Kath Gath – or Thompson as she was at the time – was the ground breaker by annexing the 2004 edition with Yada Yada Yada. The Oaks has been part of the racing calendar since 1956. As for Hill’s moment in the limelight, it was one of the easiest wins witnessed in the time-honoured event. Beginning quickly to lead from the pole, Whats Emma Got was allowed to stroll along at an even tempo as her main danger, Looks Like Heaven, awaited the sprint lane. Kicking clear at the top of the home straight, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear was untroubled on her way to a three-and-a-half metre win from Looks Like Heaven, with Tauto Jane five metres away third. “From the draw she was always going to be hard to beat, with Looks Like Heaven the biggest threat on our back,” Hill said. “In the end she did it pretty easily and had them all covered a long way out. “She felt good on the line and could have gone a lot quicker if needed.” Trained by Glenda Fuller, the three-year-old rated a snail-like 2:05.9 for the 2230 metres, taking her record to an imposing 16 wins and four placings from 20 starts. Set to enjoy an easy week, Whats Emma Got may be interstate-bound, with connections considering a trip across the border for the Victoria Oaks in April. While that trip is yet to be confirmed, Whats Emma Got will be given the opportunity to defend her Southern Cross title in August. PAUL COURTS

New Zealand harness racing trainer Colin De Filippi will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself with top class trotter Stent. Having successfully defended his Australasian Grand Prix title at Melton last night, Stent has been installed the early favourite for next month’s Great Southern Star. De Filippi and Stent were in the same position heading into the prestigious event last year after capturing the Grand Prix. Stent went on to win his heat of the GSS before finishing second behind Keystone Del in the Final. Keystone Del, which first-up for a month last night, once again shapes as the Kiwi’s main danger. Based on his two Aussie performances this campaign, Stent gives every indication he can continue his winning streak on this side of the Tasman. With De Filippi in the sulky, the son of Dream Vacation worked three-wide without cover from the bell before scoring by five-and-a-half metres from Keystone Del, with Realmein a metre-and-a-half away third. Rating 1:59 for the 2240 metres, Stent extended his record to 24 wins and 20 placings from 55 starts. Stent PAUL COURTS

If there is any yearling which can brag a family littered with Group One winners, then this is it! A striking bay, the colt is part of the Yirribee Pacing Stud collection ready to ‘go under the hammer’ at the Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Sale. With ‘movie star’ looks, the youngster will enter the ring as Lot 293. As for his bloodlines, the colt is by the greatest juvenile produced in the Southern Hemisphere – Courage Under Fire. Successful at his first 24 starts, Courage Under Fire won a record six Derbys on his way to earning more than $1.4million. At stud Courage Under Fire continues to set records, including becoming only the third Victoria Derby winner to sire a subsequent winner in more than 100 years. Courage Under Fire’s effort saw him join Robert Derby and Radiant Robert – two immortal stallions! Lot 293 also boasts Group One success on his maternal side being from All Fire N Ice, which is the dam of four winners from five starters. All Fire N Ice is from Group One winner Rain Girl, which is the dam of multiple Group One winner, Atitagain, Group One winner Rain Again. The family also includes Group One winners Go West U Terror, Tricky Styx and Willow. PAUL COURTS

Local harness racing favourite Danni Hill will be aiming to break a female drought in Saturday night’s South Australia Oaks. As crazy as that sounds given the Oaks is for fillies, the time-honoured event has been dominated by male participants in recent years. In fact, it has been more than a decade since a reinswoman captured the Blue Riband. That honour went to Kate Gath, who captured the 2004 edition with Yada Yada Yada.   Gath is the only reinswoman to secure the Oaks since its inception in 1956. Hill will partner boom filly Whats Emma Got, which appears to have been handed the feature on a silver platter. Successful at seven of her eight starts for the term, the Glenda Fuller-trained pacer has drawn to led throughout from the pole. Whats Emma Got’s only defeat for the season was an eye-catching third in last month’s SA Derby. Thrilled with the draw, Fuller is confident Whats Emma Got can lead throughout the 2230-metre trip. “She’s drawn very nicely and hopefully she can do it justice,” Fuller said. “She’s been going very well and we’re really happy with her. “I am really pleased with her work and she will be hard to beat.” Citing Victorian raider Looks Like Heaven as the main danger, Fuller also rates Tauto Jane as a threat. Tauto Jane will begin from gate three, while Looks Like Heaven is set to trail Whats Emma Got and await the sprint lane from the inside of the second row.” “Looks Like Heaven would be the biggest concern,” Fuller said. “We’ll just have to try and hold her off in the straight. “Tauto Jane is also a nice filly and has drawn well.” PAUL COURTS

His father is a Group One winner on both sides of the equator and his mother hales from a family littered with top shelf performers. Given his bloodlines, this ‘athletic’ colt is bound to inherit more than his share of ability and success. The youngster in question is part of the outstanding line up from Yirribee Pacing Stud heading to the Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Sale. To be more precise, the yearling will enter the ring on February 28 as Lot 299. To be even more precise, the promising type is by champion pacer and now star sire, Mr Feelgood. As the winner of the Little Brown Jug, Inter Dominion and A G Hunter Cup, Mr Feelgood requires no introduction. The sire of only 19 Australian foals – three years or older – Mr Feelgood boasts 11 winners including, Charming Allie, A Good Chance and Feel the Faith. On his dam’s side, the yearling is from Athletic River, which is closely-related to another A G Hunter Cup winner, Surprise Package. The family also includes Luxury Liner, Christopher Vance, Shardons Aflyin, Royal Surprise, Flaming Roadstar, Shardons Rocket, Precious Dylan, Knight Vance and Vi Et Animo. Along with being in the rich APG race series, the filly is eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown and New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. PAUL COURTS

In harness racing when you hear the moniker ‘Weona’ you automatically think of topliners. That thought process is only naturally considering outstanding types such as Inter Dominion winner Weona Warrior, Weona Chief and Weona Brave to name a few. For those looking to own a potential ‘Weona’ star, then Lot 287 at the Sydney leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Sale could be the answer to your dreams. Part of the stellar Yirribee Pacing Stud collection, the youngster will enter the ring on February 28. By successful stallion Badlands Hanover – sire of Washakie, Chariot King, Nearea Franco, Flying Pocketlands and Beaudiene Bad Babe – the filly is from good producer, Weona Sassy. A well-bred matron, Weona Sassy is the dam of four winners from six starters, including metropolitan winner, Weona Badgirl. Among the top performers of her crop, Weona Badgirl’s career was cut short after winning six of her 16 starts, with seven placings – including the Victoria Oaks – also to her credit. Along with being in the rich APG race series, the filly is eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown and New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. PAUL COURTS

Well-performed harness racing filly Viva Safari may have run her last race. Concerned with the three-year-old’s hoof, trainer Michael Azzopardi was shocked when x-rays revealed Viva Safari had broken her leg. As such, vets inserted three screws into the bone, with the injury likely to end Viva Safari’s promising career. By former tough campaigner Safari, Viva Safari had won three of her last five starts, while finishing second in the other two. “At this stage it likes her career is over,” Azzopardi declared. “She had what appeared to be an abscess in her hoof, which is what the vet originally thought it was, so we treated her for that. “Normally it would start to come good after a few days, but this didn’t, so we took her to the vet hospital and they thought the same thing. “We got her x-rayed just looking for more answers and couldn’t believe she had a break. “It looks like she may have had a hairline fracture for some time…it just wasn’t enough to really cause her pain. “But with a bit of racing, it’s gotten worse and this is the end result.” To be confined to her box for the next three months, Viva Safari will be sent to the breeding barn next season. With the likelihood of being sidelined for a minimum 18 months, there is an outside chance Azzopardi will attempt a comeback with Viva Safari as a five-year-old. “On a possible bright side she is only three, so there is plenty of time if we were to consider trying her again one day,” Azzopardi said. “For now she will spend three months in a box, then enjoy a spell before we decide on which stallion to send her to. “If after she foals and her leg is given the all clear to at least try we may attempt a comeback with her, but that is a long way off. “For now, I’m more concerned about keeping her comfortable and happy.” PAUL COURTS

Her mum is a good producer, her father was a top racehorse and is a super sire, so it’s fair to say she is going to have her share of ability. Part of the stellar Yirribee Pacing Stud collection, the youngster will enter the ring at the Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Sydney To be more precise, the filly is Lot 313 at the February 28 sale. As for her potential and breeding, it speaks for itself! The athletic looking filly is by Mach Three, which captured the $1million Metro Final at two and the $1million Meadowlands Pace at three. He is also the sire of three Southern Hemisphere – Auckland Reactor, Captain Joy and Mysta Magical Mach. Her dam – Boldandbeautiful is a multiple Harold Park winning mare with earnings of $79,422. At stud Boldandbeautiful boasts the perfect record of two winners from two starters, including Morgan Abby (10 wins), which is the dam of last year’s highest price yearling - $120,000 – at the Melbourne APG sale. Boldandbeautiful’s second starter - Its Only Rocknroll – captured last season’s Group One New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. The family also includes Kingstar, Royal Chef, Chariot King, Emjayem Grand, Gold King and Run Wick. Along with being in the rich APG race series, the filly is eligible for Australasian Breeders’ Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown and New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. PAUL COURTS

Those who backed Victorian harness racing star Lennytheshark when Inter Dominion markets first opened will be happy with themselves. A stylish winner of his heat at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, Lennytheshark is expected to play a major role in the Final. The $750,000 decider is scheduled to be run at Menangle on March 1. Posted at $8 on the original TAB Fixed Odds Market, the David Aiken-trained stallion drifted to $10 before his racing return at Shepparton on January 24. Lennytheshark is now the second elect at $3. Defending champion Beautide is listed at $2.10 in his bid to become just the sixth pacer to retain his title. Hondo Grattan was the ground breaker in 1973 and ’74, followed by Gammalite in ’83 and ’84, Our Sir Vancelot in 1997, ’98 and ’99, Blacks A Fake in 2006, ’07 and ’08 and Im Themightyquinn in 2011, ’12 and ’13. Opening at $4.20, Beautide drifted to $6 before dropping to $3.40 when Christen Me was scratched from the series before last night’s Supplementary heat at Menangle. Following his effortless qualifier victory, Beautide was cut to $2.40, with solid support seeing his quote dropped to $2.10. TAB’s Adam Hamilton believes a favourable draw could see the son of Bettors Delight start an odds-on favourite.  “I think he’ll continue to shorter between now and the draw on Saturday night,” Hamilton said. “He’ll start odds-on regardless of draw, but could be as short as $1.60, or even $1.50, with an ideal barrier. “He looked right back to his best in the heat, will be even better for just his second run in 11 weeks and the step from 2400 to 3009 metres in the Final suits him far better than any of his rivals.” The shortest-priced favourite in recent times was Elsu, which paid a meagre $1.55 in 2005. PAUL COURTS

Defending harness racing champion Beautide proved he is ready for his Inter Dominion title defence with a stylish victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. The James Rattray -trained pacer bounced back from a disappointing Victorian campaign by capturing a heat of the time-honoured Championship. With Rattray in the sulky, Beautide was simply a class above his rivals as he cruised to an easy win from For A Reason and Monifieth. Naturally thrilled with the gelding’s performance, Rattray is confident Beautide will be in perfect condition for the $750,000 Final on March 1. “He’s had a mixed preparation, but the last month I have been a lot happier with him,” Rattray said. Covering the last half in 56.1 seconds, the son of Bettors Delight rated 1:54.4 for the 2400 metres. In the second Sydney-based qualifier, Ultimate Art caused a major upset by scoring at $22.70 on the tote. After enjoying the run of the race behind the leader, Easy On The Eye, Ultimate Art grabbed the lead in the shadows of the post score by a head from the pacemaker, with New Zealand raider, Terror To Love a head away third. Trained and driven by Michael Formosa, the son of Modern Art rated 1:57 to register his first win from six starts this season. “We were travelling so well I almost came out in front of Terror To Love when he made his move, but I didn’t want to get too cocky and wanted to make sure we qualified,” Formosa said Ultimate Art is no stranger to Group One glory at the 1400-metre circuit, having annexed the Four-Year-Old Breeders’ Challenge Final last term. PAUL COURTS

Having just returned to Western Australia, tough harness racing competitor David Hercules is heading east again. David Hercules booked his passage across the Nullarbor with his tough Inter Dominion heat victory at Gloucester Park tonight. Just a fortnight ago David Hercules contested the Victoria Cup at Melton, with the David Thompson -trained pacer due in Sydney in two weeks. The Inter Dominion Final is scheduled to be held at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. David Hercules guaranteed his position in the elite field when he outstayed his rivals with Morgan Woodley in the cart. After racing in the ‘death seat’, the son of Artesian completed a three-and-a-half metre win from Pacific Warrior, with Dynamite Dude two metres away third. David Hercules’ previous trip to New South Wales resulted in an unplaced effort in the Hondo Grattan Stake in 2011. PAUL COURTS

Victorian harness racing star Lennytheshark is officially the first qualifier for the Inter Dominion. Lennytheshark sealed his berth in the sponsored Final be capturing the Melton heat just moments ago. The $750,000 Inter Dominion is scheduled to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. Driven by premier reinsman Chris Alford, the son of Four Starzzz Shark led throughout from barrier three to account for Flaming Flutter and Im Corzin Terror. Thrilled with the five-year-old’s performance, trainer David Aiken is confident Lennytheshark can make his presence felt in the Final. “A lot will come down to the draw, but he will prove more than competitive,” Aiken said. “After three runs back he is in top shape and will be spot on for the Final.” Lennytheshark is no stranger to top shelf glory at Menangle having captured the New South Wales Derby in 2013. PAUL COURTS

Cancelled due to heavy rain, last night’s Tontine Pacers’ Final has been rescheduled. With constant downpour making the Ballarat circuit unfit for competition, Harness Racing Victoria stewards abandoned the meeting. As such, the Tontine Final has been shifted to Sunday, February 22. The field and barrier draw will remain the same, with scratchings reinstated. The A.J. Prendergast Memorial Oaks Trial will be re-scheduled to a later date, with an announcement is expected early next week. The storm also hit Melton pretty hard, including a local creek breaking its bank. As for the world class circuit at Tabcorp Park, it has coped well with the downpour and is expected to be in top condition for tonight’s stellar meeting. Heading the action is the Inter Dominion heat, with rising star Lennytheshark the favourite from barrier three. PAUL COURTS

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