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DANNY Scanlan qualified for today's KARI J.C. Caffyn Indigenous Drivers Plate final by the barest possible margin, .1 of a point, after a competitive series of harness races all around the state.   But there was no such tiny margin in today's feature as lightly-raced gelding Ziggy Rocks put paid to a quality field to take the race . . . and etch Scanlan's name into the history books.   It was an emotional Scanlan that took to the podium to thanks "his girls" and a small army of supporters after Ziggy Rocks came with a withering burst to beat My Major Rocket (Hayden Green) and Mach Le More (Jinaya Niass) by 5.5m in a 1:55.6 mile rate (last half in 56.5s).   "It's been a long, long time since I last won a race here at Menangle," said Scanlan.   "Of course it hasn't been helped when I've contested this series and most of the horses have been 100-1 in past years.   "This horse, trained by Gemma Rue and owned by Menangle committeeman Dan Cordina, is probably the best horse I have been able to steer in the half a dozen times I've competed in this series.   "It sure helps, I can tell you."   Scanlan did drive the son of Pet Rock to perfection, landing an ideal one-one trail before peeling wide on the home turn and quickly rounding up his rivals for a strong win.   It was a deserved victory for one of the men who has become a mainstay of this Indigenous Drivers series.   Scanlan contested heats at Albury, Young and even Tamworth, meaning he covered many kilometres from his Cessnock base just to qualify for the final day. In the end, the .1 of as point didn't matter as he added his name to some quality horsemen and women who have won this series since it was first inaugurated in 2011.   "It's a pretty special race to win and we all want to win it," said Scanlan.   "It's taken me a while, which makes this win even more special."     Sean Vella  

It takes a special horse to win a Breeders Challenge final. And it takes a harness racing superstar to win three in successive years. Not that anyone would argue that former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius is anything but a superstar after the son of Roll With Joe won the NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO colts and geldings final at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Ignatius has now won well over $400,000 in prizemoney since the Rattray stable moved the horse to be stabled with James Rattray in the NSW Southern Highlands. And the lion's share of that has been won through the prestigious Breeders Challenge series. Amazingly, Ignatius will now be eligible to make an even-more historic move by chasing a five-year-olds Breeders Challenge feature, also worth $100,000 and due to be run in the Riverina next season. "It's been a tough week, so this is a nice way to end it," said Ignatius trainer-driver James Rattray after the four-year-old 'out-toughed' his rivals to wear down Bright Energy, with Sicario third in a slick 1:51.6. "The semi-final was a tough run for him (Ignatius finished third to Summit Special and Bright Energy which was enough to make the final). "But he came through it OK and it's on to Qld now - and we're looking forward to that." The race looked to be between the 'big three' a long way from home after Bright Energy led, Sicario raced up to take the death chair, before handing up that position to Ignatius. It then became a war of attrition as Ignatius and Bright Energy cut at each other for most of the race and turning for home the might 'Iggy' stuck his big head out and refused to buckle, scoring by a head with six and a quarter metres to Sicario, who just couldn't get into the finish.     Ignatius Meanwhile the $100,000 four-year-old mares Breeders Challenge final was taken out by the Sam Dimarco-trained Black Silhouette after another masterly drive by Len Smith Mile winner Todd McCarthy. Fired up out of the gate, Black Silhouette found the front before McCarthy elected to take a trail on Goodtime Heaven (Glen Craven). Turning for home Todd got busy and extricated Black Silhouette from behind the leader to wear down Goodtime Heaven in the straight to score by a half neck in a fast 1:51 mile. Rocknroll Pearl was third a further three and three-quarter metres back. Owned by former HRNSW director Marissa Dimarco, Black Silhouette took her earnings past the $150,000 mark in scoring her 12th win from just 46 starts.     Black Silhouette Sean Vella

One of the biggest questions harness racing fans were asking before the running of today's $100,000 TAB Len Smith was 'would the real Majordan show up and give his best?' Champion reinsman Todd McCarthy admitted it was a fine line with the speedy son of Art Major as to whether or not that Majordan would be able to match it with his rivals when the mobile starter let them go. The good news is, the big fellow was right on his game and the Kevin Pizzuto-trained pacer came out of barrier one and surged to a stunning 1:49.6 win over a gutsy Our Uncle Sam (Anthony Frisby), scoring by a head, with Victorian visitor Jilliby Bandit a strong third. Pizzuto described Majordan as a "beast" after a he impressed everyone with a strong recent trial and he showed why when Replaced Eye came firing out of the gate and Majordan had to be hunted up by McCarthy to hold the lead. "It was either that or possibly hand up and try and retake the lead," said Todd. "I'm just happy the real Majordan showed up today - sometimes it's in the lap of the gods which one will be here." Todd described the Len Smith as one of the elite harness races in this country. "This is my first win in this race so it's pretty special," he said.     Majordan "I have to give Gordon Banks and Mark Hanover a special mention for letting me drive this horse . . . he's pretty good, this bloke. Pizzuto agreed: "Both horse and driver were on their game today and it could not have worked out any better," said Pizzuto, one of the leading trainers in this country and something of a master at having his horses peak when the feature races roll around. He may be forced to consider taking Majordan to Queensland for their features as his other stable star Tiger Tara is already booked to head north for the stable in coming days. Sean Vella

THE fastest last quarter in the history of harness racing in Australia sealed the richest race ever run at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight when four-year-old gelding Spankem won tonight's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile. Surging home in a 25.4s final quarter as part of a slashing 1:47.7 mile, Spankem gave champion reinsman Mark Purdon his first win - as a reinsman in the race - and his second as a trainer. And even more satisfying for the All Stars team is that they bagged the quinella in the Group One with New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer (Natalie Rasmussen) finishing second and their other runner, Chase Auckland (Luke McCarthy) fourth, just behind Chariots Of Fire winner Poster Boy (third). Typical of Australia's biggest harness race, few could tip the way the race would unfold. Thefixer led from gate two but handed up the lead to Spankem early in the race and from there Purdon never gave anything else a chance. Spankem scored a one and half-metre win over the stablemate with Poster Boy 7.5m back in third after getting clear when the race was all over. Tipped by many to make a clean sweep of Australia's greatest race, Tiger Tara scored the first surprise when he was taken back out of the gate and when he made his move going up the back straight the final time just couldn't get into the action. Tiger Tara eventually dropped off slightly in the straight to finish fifth. Purdon took particular delight in winning his first Miracle Mile in the sulky: "This is a massive thrill," he said. "This race and this meeting is equivalent to our New Zealand Cup meeting - and they don't get any better than this." Purdon paid tribute to Luke and Belinda McCarthy for letting the All Stars team stay at their Cobbitty base. "It's been a home away from home and all the horses settled in so well there - it's just been fantastic," he said. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au   7 9:28pm AINSWORTH MIRACLE MILE (GROUP 1 - GRAND CIRCUIT EVENT) 1609M $1,000,000 RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments 1 SPANKEM NZ     Fr6 7 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon   $ 4.40   PRS GS L   BAY GELDING 4 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of CRUSHEM (NZ) (HOLMES HANOVER USA) Owner(s): G J Kennard, P I Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, J A Gibbs, A Gibbs, G A Woodham, K J Woodham Breeder(s): R K Wah, G Wah 2 THEFIXER NZ     Fr2 2 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 1.70 $ 3.20 fav  PRS GS 3 POSTER BOY     Fr1 1 Emma Stewart Chris Alford 9.20 $ 4.80   PRS 4 CHASE AUCKLAND NZ     Fr3 3 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Luke McCarthy 19.80 $ 11.00   PRS 5 TIGER TARA NZ     Fr7 8 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy 21.10 $ 4.20   PRS RAS 6 MY ALPHA ROCK NZ     Fr5 6 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 22.40 $ 81.00   PRS GS 7 YAYAS HOT SPOT NZ     Fr4 4 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lachie Manzelmann 26.40 $ 151.00   PRS r MY FIELD MARSHAL NZ     Fr8 9 Tim Butt Anthony Butt   $ 14.00   PRS RAS TIRE R VXAR CR SDVC SD/ECG SD14D SD1T Scratchings   OUR UNCLE SAM 5 CRUZ BROMAC NZ 10 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:47:7 Mile Rate: 1:47:7 First Quarter: 26.9 Second Quarter: 28.2 Third Quarter: 27.2 Fourth Quarter: 25.4 Margins: 1.7m x 7.5m  

IF EVER a horse had earned a Group One victory this season, it had to be Bathurst pacer Our Uncle Sam. After chasing home Tiger Tara in the Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup finals, Our Uncle Sam and Anthony Frisby had no such hurdle tonight as the pair wore down the leader Majordan in the straight before going on to score a half-neck win over the fast-finishing Ellmers Image (Amanda Turnbull) with Majordan (Todd McCarthy) clinging on for third in the Bohemia Crystal Free-For-All. Settling in third and fourth place in the run, Frisby knew he had Majordan covered as they turned for home while Turnbull was angling through along the pegs to make a late dash at the winner. It was Western Districts reinsman Anthony Frisby's first Group One win and he gave their Perthville team full credit for the win. "Dad (Chris) has been down here all week with this horse and he settled in really well but I have to give full credit to the team back at home," said Anthony. "Without them success like this just wouldn't be possible. "Certainly this horse deserves a win like this." With fast time the order of the night, Our Uncle Sam rated 1:52.3 in his win with an overall time of 2:47.5. If there was a disappointment in the race it was the horse many thought should have been invited into the Miracle Mile, New Zealand's Ashley Locaz. Driven the perfect race by Mark Purdon, Ashley Locaz settled in the one-out and one-back trail but couldn't catch the leaders in the straight, finishing a disappointing fourth, just ahead of Buster Brady.   Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au

A LIGHTNING mile left several favourites gasping for breath as 50-1 outsider Max Delight scored a shock win in tonight's APG-sponsored NSW Derby at Menangle. Starting at $71, Max Delight came out hard early before settling three back on the pegs as favoured runners Centenario ($2.50 favourite) and Victorian Derby winner Muscle Factory ($3.10) along with surprise early leader Lochinvar Art tussle for the early lead. It was another master stroke by Menangle's leading reinsman Todd McCarthy to sit and wait before springing into action as the field wheeled in the home straight. Surprisingly Centenario (Chris Alford) was among the first beaten and Muscle Factory followed soon afterwards as the record-breaking speed began to take its toll. The David Aiken trained Max Delight surged to the front in the home straight while stablemate Malcolms Rhythm (Luke McCarthy) found a gap up on the pegs and grabbed second place, 1.4m behind the winner, who rated 1:51.5 to take an incredible 1.2s of Smolda and Demon Delight's previous record for the journey. Lochinvar Art (Luke McCarthy) finished third. Aiken was naturally ecstatic after the win, his second group one of the night. "Derbys are the hardest races to win and I have been trying to win this race for a long time, so this is particularly satisfying," said Aiken. Reinsman Todd McCarthy, gunning for the Miracle Mile later in the night with Tiger Tara, was also over the moon with his success. "I have to thank David for the support he has shown me and I am just glad I was able to reward them with this win," he said. While Aiken landed the quinella in the big race, the McCarthy brothers, Todd and Luke also finished first and third in the $200,000 feature. Max Delight was certainly bred to be good, besides being by champion sire Bettors Delight, he is out of a former NSW Oaks winner in Lady Euthenia, who won the fillies' classic in 2010. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au    

CHAMPION trainer Mark Purdon suggested he would have his ace mare Our Dream About Me fitter and ready to run the race of her life in tonight's Group One Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And Purdon wasn't kidding. Despite finishing second to Tell Me Tales at this track last week, Our Dream About Me looked a lot sharper and ready to roll at the south-western Sydney track tonight as she quickly took the lead from barrier two then defied all efforts to run her down. With Purdon himself in the sulky, Our Dream About Me dominated the best mares in Australasia to score a four-metre win in slashing 1:50.1, defeating the plucky Major Occasion (Anthony Frisby) with outsider Bridget Blue Chip (Lachie Manzelmann) a surprise third a half-head behind the runner-up. Our Dream About Me has now earned almost $1.4m in career earnings and gave Purdon his first win in what has become one of the highlight races on the Miracle Mile program each year. "She a special mare and it was a last minute decision to bring her here," explained Purdon after the race. "She had to find some of her best form to warrant the trip and she did that so we're glad we decided to proceed with talking this race. "She's done us proud and it was really an honour to win a race like this." Nothing could be taken away from the six-year-old mare and although her rivals chased hard they were in a different trace to this outstanding daughter of super-sire Bettors Delight. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au

THEY DOMINATE New Zealand harness racing like no-one ever has before them.   And the powerful All Stars stable struck gold in the first of the pacing group ones at Menangle tonight when outstanding filly Our Princess Tiffany scored a stunning all-the-way in in the $200,000 John Gibson Memorial NSW Oaks. Taken straight to the front from the six gate, Our Princess Tiffany scored her 11th win from just 13 starts and she did it in world record time for a pacing filly, rating a mile rate of 1:53.4 to score by an amazing 16.5m from Victorian Tangoingwithsierra (Todd McCarthy) with Arabella Star (Zac Phillips) another four and three-quarter metres back in third place. The danger to Our Princess Tiffany was expected to come from Emma Stewart's top three-year-old filly Kualoa, who was such a convincing winner in her heat of the Oaks last week. But the barrier worked against Kualoa, even though her reinsman Chris Alford wasted no time getting her into the action, jumping onto the back of Tangoingwithsierra with a lap to go and grabbing a three-wide cart in the race. She found the spot outside the leader but didn't have enough left to stay with the New Zealand filly as her reinsman Natalie Rasmussen put her foot on the gas pedal before the home turn. Our Princess Tiffany had them all off the bit and chasing in no time and increased the margin even further turning into the home stretch, rating her last half in 54.7s for the easiest of wins. Her rivals chased hard but were no match for this outstanding daughter of Art Major, who won as she liked, giving Rasmussen an early double and sounding a warning to rivals that the All Stars stable had come to town and they weren't here for the scenery. Co-trainer Mark Purdon doesn't usually go overboard about his horses but was more effervescent than ever about Our Princess Tiffany, suggesting she might turn out to be the best filly he has had in his care. A massive statement from New Zealand's biggest and most successful stable. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au    

CHAMPION trainer David Aiken might not have had a runner in this year's Miracle Mile, but that didn't stop the former premier NSW trainer from making an impact. Aiken took out the first of the big Group Ones at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight with promising trotter Big Jack Hammer. Now based in Victoria, but operating a satellite stable from Menangle, Big Jack Hammer came with a withering burst to score a neck win over second favourite Tough Monarch ($3.70) with War Dan Destroyer ($3.40 favourite) a further one metre back in third place in the Aquagait Trotters Mile. Ace reinsman Anthony Butt, filling in for Kima Frenning, had Big Jack Hammer perfectly poised one-out and one-back during the run before making his move well into the straight. While Tough Monarch's trainer-driver Rickie Alchin was nervously looking left and right for dangers from back in the field as he moved up to challenge turning for home, Alchin just knew there would be something coming from behind and no sooner had he found the front than Big Jack Hammer gathered him in and went on to score a comfortable victory in a 1:54.7 mile rate. Butt later explained: "We were off the bit and chasing at about the 800m mark but once I got the chance to get him in behind Rickie [Alchin, Tough Monarch] he picked up the bit again and I knew I had them covered." Earlier in the evening All Stars team co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen set the ball rolling for a big night for the stable when she scored an all-the-way win on four-year-old stallion The Bus. Trained by fellow New Zealand trainer Mark Jones, The Bus ($3.60) found the lead quickly from gate four and Rasmussen was able to dictate terms to suit herself with a 56s first half of the mile (splits of 28.7 and 27.3). The champion former Queensland reinswoman was then able to up the ante in the second half with quarters of 28.1s before running home in a slick 26.9s for a 1.7m win over The Wrangler (Kima Frenning) with Redbank Addi (Kate Gath) a further 1.2m back. The winner rated 1.51 and with three wins from his last four, the son of Art Major looks destined for better things. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au

Leading Kiwi reins man Tim Butt made one of the biggest decisions of his life when he left New Zealand to set up a Sydney harness racing stable several months ago. That massive gamble paid the biggest dividend yet when Butt and his brother Anthony won tonight’s $750,000 AInsworth Miracle Mile with his stable star My Field Marshal. The six-year-old son of Art Major became the fastest horse in the Southern Hemisphere when he rated 1:46.9, grabbing Jilliby Kung Fu in the shadows of the post to win by a head while the gutsy Soho Tribeca, did all the hard work and again found a couple just too slick for him in the last few strides, finishing a close third a nose fourth back. With a track that had been on fire all night, the Mile was always going to be a supreme test of speed and stamina and that’s exactly how it panned out with Anything For Love finding the front from barrier rise with Soho Tribeca working up to race without cover and keep the pressure on the leader. All this time Anthony Butt was content to settle My Field Marshal back in fifth and sixth place and bide his time until as late as possible. Turning for home Soho Tribeca forged to the front while Jilliby Kung Fu emerged from a one-one trail to challenge the leaders. Then Butt’s patience gave out and he brought My Field Marshal with a flashing finish to score in an incredible 1:46.9 after quarters of 26.3, 27.3, 26.2 and 27.1s in a race that was not for the faint-hearted. Disappointment of the race was the champion Kiwi pacer Lazarus, who settled back near last but raced three-wide for most of the trip and never got into the fight. Indeed Lennytheshark, which settled last, ran past him in the straight and finished a creditable fifth while Tiger Tara, beaten for gate speed from the one barrier, was also not far off in fourth spot. But it was a night for the Butts and trainer Tim admitted it was a heck of a risk moving across the Tasman to set up “shop” at Menangle. “We have some great owners and they have become good friends,” he said. ‘We used to put on some pretty big parties when we won in New Zealand - and I have to admit we’ll be kicking up our heels tonight too. “This win was so satisfying and there are so many people who have helped contribute to our success. “And My Field Marshall was just fabulous tonight - he has earned this win.” Certainly Butt decision to bypass last December’s Inter Dominion Championship in Perth was a winner as there were a few tired horses in the Group[ One tonight . . . but My Field Marshal was certainly not one of them. My Field Marshall 7 9:32pm AINSWORTH MIRACLE MILE (GROUP 1) (GRAND CIRCUIT) 1609M $750,000 RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 MY FIELD MARSHAL NZ      Fr3 4 Tim Butt Anthony Butt   $ 6.70       BAY HORSE 6 by ART MAJOR USA out of FOREAL NZ (WASHINGTON VC USA)  Owner(s): S A Brown, S B Brown  Breeder(s): S A Brown, S B Brown 2 JILLIBY KUNG FU      Fr4 5 Margaret Lee Jason Lee HFNK $ 8.70     3 SOHO TRIBECA      Fr5 6 Michael Stanley Greg Sugars HFNK $ 3.20     4 TIGER TARA NZ      Fr1 1 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy 11.3m $ 8.70     5 LENNYTHESHARK      Fr6 7 David Aiken Chris Alford 13.8m $ 16.10     6 ANYTHING FOR LOVE      Fr2 3 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 14.2m $ 15.20     7 LAZARUS NZ      Fr8 10 Mark Purdon Natalie Rasmussen 23.3m $ 2.80 fav    8 CHARLAVAL      Fr7 8 KerryAnn Turner Robert Morris 28.1m $ 104.00     Scratchings   ATOMIC RED 2 LET IT RIDE NZ 9 Track Rating:   Gross Time: 1:46:9 Mile Rate: 1:46:9 First Quarter: 26.3 Second Quarter: 27.3 Third Quarter: 26.2 Fourth Quarter: 27.1 Margins: HFNK x SHFHD   By Sean Vella

The NSW Harness Racing Club today announced an initiative to assist the NSW Breeding Industry. The NSWHRC will pay the foal registration fee of $185 for all foals registered in NSW that are Breeders Challenge eligible. This will apply to foals born and notified in the breeding season beginning September 1, 2016. The club has made this commitment for three years which, based on projections, will be worth about $700,000 over the period. The club already contributes $150,000 towards the finals of the Breeders Blue series and this announcement is further recognition of the importance of the breeding industry. According to NSWHRC chief executive Bruce Christison, the club decided to target this payment as it was agreed it would assist breeders at all levels. Many of the existing breeding incentives rely on the horse winning,Christison said. This payment will benefit every breeder that gives notification of the birth of a NSW Breeders Challenge eligible foal to Harness Racing NSW. Once there is more certainty in relation to future funding levels, the club looks forward to sitting down with the Breeders Association and HRNSW to discuss other ways in which the club can assist the breeding industry. The clubs move has the full support of HRNSW with its CEO John Dumesny complimenting the club on its commitment to the industry With this direct financial input into the breeding sector from its own reserves, the principal club now supports every facet of the harness racing industry, Dumesny said. HRNSW looks forward to sitting down with the club in the near future to explore other initiatives which will further promote the growth of harness racing in our premier state. For further information telephone NSWHRC Chief Executive Bruce Christison on (02) 4645-2200. Sean Vella

One of the best SEW Eurodrive Miracle Miles in recent years now looks a formality on Saturday week after some of harness racing’s big guns set their sights on winning this weekend’s $100,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Boom former Kiwi Ideal Scott will line up against former Miracle Mile winners Smoken Up and Baby Bling as well as New Zealand Cup improvers Fly Like An Eagle and Caribbean Blaster over the Miracle Mile track and distance in an effort to earn automatic qualification for the elite sprint. Those already qualified or invited to contest the big race are Beautide, Im Victorious, Christen Me, Terror To Love and Saturday night’s Coca-Cola Sprint winner Restrepo. Saturday night’s winner earns an automatic invitation – while the losing connections will have to cross their fingers and hope the directors of the NSW Harness Racing Club are feeling generous. The field, in barrier order, for this weekend’s Group One Cordina Sprint is: No. HORSE DRIVER 1 Mister Presley (2nd em) 2 Abettorpunt                       Matthew Craven 3 Fly Like An Eagle             Gavin Fitzpatrick 4 Ideal Scott                         Luke McCarthy 5 Gaius Caesar                   Darren Binskin 6 Field Officer (1st em)       Grant Dixon 7 Forever Gold                      Darren Weeks 8 Mach Beauty                      Mark Jones 9 Caribbean Blaster            Kate Gath 10 Terrorway                         John McCarthy 11 Smoken Up                     Lance Justice 12 Baby Bling                       Mat Rue By Sean Vella  

Leading Swedish harness racing Monte rider Jenny Brunzell has quite a task ahead of her if she is to win Sunday's TAB.COM.AU International Monte at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

Swedish riders Jenny Brunzell, Nicole Mellberg and Emelie Knutsson will join compatriots Louise Regney and Olivia Olsson in a flying visit to Australia for the TAB.COM.AU International Monte to be held at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

The inclusion of Itnewstome in the Bill Atkins Pace at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday night has created controversy as it is not NSW country trained.

The biggest day in Mat Rue's life just got better with the young Canowindra reinsman winning today's SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile on outsider Baby Bling.

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