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Not one for lofty claims, harness racing trainer Simone Walker freely admits that her eight-year-old trotter, Stoned I Am, is unlikely to bring down the great Keystone Del. But, on the verge of their showdown in the $30,575 Group 2 John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup, the Pearcedale trainer-driver made it clear she’ll be out there to keep her million-dollar winning opponent honest. “We will see what happens,” Walker said. “Ideally I’d like to be sitting on (Keystone Del's) back, but he can reel off a 27-second quarter and I don’t think my old fella has that in him anymore.” Walker said the Brent Lilley-trained gelding, who has won four straight and 39 of his 62 starts, significantly impacts the way a race is run. “The problem when you have a horse like that in the race everyone runs to that horse, not to what best suits them,” she said. “It is a small field and that can also make it more difficult. I think it will be definitely fast to the first turn, and then whoever leads will probably hand up to Keystone Del.” She hopes that will be Stoned I Am, who will start from barrier four, inside Keystone Del, and then use his sit-sprint preference to potentially challenge the favourite and hold off the remainder of the seven-horse field. There is reason for optimism in the camp of Stoned I Am, who is by Sundon out of Stoned At Midnight. After a strong showing in a Group 3 at Cranbourne when locked wheels potentially cost him a place, Stoned I Am won the Seelite Windows & Doors Coulter Crown last start, his third victory at Group level from 44 attempts. Group win number four will be at lengthy odds and Anthony Butt, who has driven Keystone Del in his last 11 starts to deliver nine wins, will be only too happy to again take the reins of the gelding by Dr Ronerail out of Flipside. “(Keystone Del’s) been the benchmark for trotters in Australia, he’s done a great job and is probably still going as good as ever,” Butt told RSN’s Inside Word. “He’s well trained and a great horse, driving him is the easy part probably. “He’s just got a big motor. He’s got a great will to win, just a real athlete and he tries really hard. The all-round game really, it’s just a pleasure to drive him. “He’s trotting beautifully, leaving the gate well and he has that high cruising speed and he just takes the sprint out of the others a long way from home. He’s got that ability to maintain his high speed for a long time and so the rest get tired before he does.” That’s the challenge confronting Walker and company in race four of Saturday night’s 10-race card at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway, which will also feature the $15,575 Flying Horse Ballarat 2YO Rising Star. There will be plenty of talent on display, with Laura Crossland’s unbeaten Grinfromeartoear sired colt Lochinvar Delight drawn the back row, while Emma Stewart will hope the pole draw will help Ferdinand (by Courage Under Fire out of To Die With Dignity) to go one better, having placed second at both starts. Marg Lee’s last start winner, Jilliby Kung Fu (by Four Starzzz Shark out of Slip Slop Slap), will also likely start short, but Glen Craven may need to find luck from barrier seven. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

We head to Geelong this Saturday night and what a way to kick off 2016 harness racing season with a tremendous renewal of the Corio Waste Management Geelong Pacing Cup. A wonderful field has been assembled for the race but the big winner from the Barrier draw was star pacer Hectorjayjay after he landed the pole. Beaten first up in the Yarra Valley Cup on a rain affected track before taking no part after bombing the stand start in the Cobram Pacing Cup last Sunday he looks perfectly suited back to mobile conditions and trainer/driver Simone Walker has loads of options at the start “I will just see what happens out of the gate and take it from there. I might decide to hold the lead depending on how the race is run.” She said He has always been armed with devastating speed but Walker said that this time back in he has developed the strength to allow him to compete with the big guns “He has come back much stronger. The break did him the world of good actually. He is now against the open class horses so he still has to step up but I am pleased with how he has come back.” Walker said she was disappointed that the gelding by Dream Away missed a run in the Cobram Cup last week after completely messing up the stand and might need Saturday Nights run “It was a long way to go for nothing but those things happen. It would have been nice to get a proper race under his belt last week but we press on to this week instead.” Main danger will be Ballarat Lightning Mile winner Keayang Cullen who has drawn the back line which will make its task a lot harder but he is more than capable. The cup is the feature on a massive night of racing with the first of 10 races to get underway at 6.29pm by Matt Jackson Fields for Geelong, Saturday 02 January 2016 Form guide for Geelong, Saturday 02 January 2016

Harness racing trainer Simone Walker is hoping Hectorjayjay can measure up to Grand Circuit class this summer and his journey starts tomorrow in the United Petroleum Yarra Valley Pacing Cup. Last season’s four-year-old Breeders Crown champion has had one trial last month to prepare for his first-up outing, finishing a narrow second to It Is Billy at Melton. Hectorjayjay came from last in that trial with a scintillating final 800 metres in probably sub-54 seconds. “We’ve got him about the same as he was at for that trial and I’m really happy with how he’s going. He’s very good actually,” Walker said. Already a 22-time winner from 45 starts, it would surprise some to know he’s yet to break through for Group 1 success. Walker is hoping that changes this summer either on the country cups circuit or during the Summer of Glory on Victoria or Hunter Cup night. “Ultimately the Victoria Cup and Hunter Cup is the aim. He’s acquitted himself well with what he’s done so far so hopefully he can measure up,” she said. Tomorrow will be the first time Hectorjayjay has seen the standing start tapes. “He might be a little iffy at his first (standing) start. He’s had a couple of trials from the stand – he was good once and not so good the other time,” Walker said. “The small field and the long distance of the race should suit even if he does step away poorly. I’d like to think him being the lone runner off 10 metres will be a blessing at his first go because he won’t have all that open space in front of him, he’ll be able to see other horses.” Champion reinsman Gavin Lang will pilot Hectorjayjay tomorrow. In-form Barimah is another pacer on the Summer of Glory trail for Moama trainer Tony Peacock. A winner of three of his past four starts, Barimah is coming off an M0 win at Tabcorp Park when he defeated Beach Shack by a neck in 1:53.4 over 1720m. Savesomtimetodream, an M3 assessed gelding, has barrier two and is a three-time winner from standing-start conditions. Conditions suit him tomorrow. Meanwhile, Kotare Roland has the pole and is also safe from the stand. He ran second at Gunbower in the cup two starts back behind Almost El Eagle beaten a head. Charlie Machsheen, nine-time standing start winner Macho Comacho and Glenferrie Hood are the other runners tomorrow. The Zonzo Estate Yarra Valley Trotters Cup is Race 5 and features former Kiwi Dead Cat Bounce, who has made a strong start to his Australian career for Nicole Molander with wins at Gunbower and Melton. The seven-event Yarra Valley Cup program kicks off at 1.57pm. by Cody Winnell

The $50,500 Mountain View Stud Breeders Crown final for four year old colts and geldings at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton today looked like a two horse race on paper but like any race it never quite works out as you think it will. Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker led as expected from barrier 4 and immediately tried to box in Messini who started from barrier 1 but Chris Alford on Messsini was having none of it and worked his way out into the running line. My General Lee and David Morris worked forward in front of Messini and grabbed the lead soon after leaving Messini parked and Hectorjayjay in the trail. From that point it was just a matter of weather Messini or Hectorjayjay would prevail. Approaching the turn, Messini looked to under a fair bit of pressure with Chris Alford becoming very active in the bike. As soon as Hectorjayjay found the passing lane, he quickly put the issue to bed, scooting away for a narrow but convincing win. My General Lee showed real gameness in fighting on for second while Messini was slightly disappointing in third Hectorjayjay paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.5, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 55.1 and 27.2 it was the 22nd win for the son of Dream Away at his 45th start and he took his earnings with today’s win to $228,359. Simone was rapt to have finally taken a Group 1 with Hectorjayjay. "I lead really easily but I tried to box Messini in soon after the start but Chris was having none of it" "Off the back I could see that Messini was battling a bit so I was hoping this was his chance. "He didn't want to go into the passing lane initially but once balanced he was fine." "This horse deserved a Group 1 and now he has got it," Simone said.  Harnesslink Media

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury are among the 14 owners of pacer Stone Of Destiny, which bought up its first win at the harness racing meeting at Warragul on Monday afternoon. Although the pair weren't on track for the race, several other members of the Raceapacer Syndicate, along with the group's jovial Manager Mark Hoare, were trackside for the event.   Mark has helped operate syndicates successfully for over 20 years in trotting and gallops, introducing many new owners to racing. Stone Of Destiny is trained by die-hard Collingwood fan Jayne Davies, and was driven by Chris Alford. As well as nearly $4000 in prizemoney for Monday's win, a first win bonus of $7000 will also be well received by connections. Chris Alford drove two winners on the card - his first win was with Blacktie Lightning earlier in the day. Trained near Ballarat by Chris Lang Junior, Blacktie Lightning was most impressive in scoring, and the win was timely for Lang and his partner Haley Toulmin, who announced their engagement last weekend. Stoned Again scored a popular win in the Trotters Handicap, and claimed the Warragul Horse of the Year title in the process. Owners of the horse also sponsored the event, giving them the extra thrill of winning their own race. The win also capped off a great season at Warragul for trainer Bill Walker and driver Simone Walker. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double at the meeting - with Tenacious One and Ideal Diamante both scoring impressive wins. Bushrod won race seven for trainer/driver Alison Chisholm, while trainer Ahmed Taiba and driver Greg Sugars combined to win the fourth event with Rock Of America, which flashed home down the outside of the track to win in a close finish. Melton pacer Electric Ollie won the second event - the visitors won most of the races on Monday over the local trainers. Monday's meeting rounded out the racing season at Warragul, with the next raceday now not until November 30 when the first anniversary of the Warragul track reopening takes place. The quality of the Warragul track has improved out of sight with the changes that have taken place over the last 12 months. Stewards at Monday's meeting commented on the quality of the track given the amount of rain received in the lead-up to the meeting. With the improvements to the track has come increased interest from trainers along with better quality and faster racing, justifying the money spent on the project last year.   Kyle Galley

Wintry conditions kept many spectators away from Monday's Warragul trots meeting, but races were still keenly contested despite the chill.   Warragul's new racing circuit passed its first wet day of racing since last year's rebuild with flying colours - despite plenty of rain over the previous couple of days the surface was turned out in excellent condition. In the second race, the KC Racing Trotters Handicap, Pearcedale horse Stoned Again lowered the track record for 2210 metres, taking one-and-a-half seconds off the previous mark set in December last year. Stoned Again, for father-daughter combination Bill and Simone Walker, has moved to the lead in the Warragul Horse of the Year award with one race meeting remaining in the current racing season. Rick Cashman, a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, won a race on the day with Danman. At just its second race start, Danman led throughout - the horse will derive great benefit from the victory and should win more races. Danman's win was one of three on the afternoon for top reinsman Greg Sugars, who also won with first starter Ravello Rock in race one for Jayne Davies, and Almihata in the third event for Ahmed Taiba. Ahmed himself collected two winners on the day, when Admiral Joy rattled home to win the final event when driven by junior reinsman Troy McDonald. Jodi Quinlan produced a popular victory with Decorated Lady in race four, for a big syndicate of owners.   Several of them were trackside, loudly cheering the horse every step of the way down the home straight. Another popular win was that of Jean Baptiste in the seventh event for Melton trainer Lance Justice, and driver Jason Hackett. Jean Baptiste is raced by a nine-member syndicate, and was well supported in betting. Trotting returns to Warragul on Monday, August 17.   Kyle Galley  

Chris Alford probably thought he’d lost a couple of battles in the run aboard Messini in the four-year-old entires and geldings Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. For starters he tried to lead aboard the Brent Lilley-trained stallion from the pole but was crossed early by Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker drawn alongside. Secondly, once crossed and it was clear Walker was going to hand up to Major Crocker, Alford tried to angle away from the markers but couldn’t when Young Modern and Mick Stanley snared the one-one. Alford explained: “I had to make a decision how hard to go in the first 200 … when Simone got that half-length she presumed she could get across and she was going to keep going, and I thought we were going a bit too hard and thought she might think about handing up since we had gone that hard. Luckily I tried to get off the fence and Mick Stanley put me back in there thankfully, and it all worked out good after that.” Once in front Major Crocker copped too much pepper from Keayang Active, running a 43.7secs lead time and 28.5secs first quarter. When Jilliby Jagger came from near the rear and eased three and four-wide coming off the back straight Hectorjayjay made his move. Walked eased Hectorjayjay to the outside of a tiring Major Crocker and Alford and Messini followed closely. Once in the home stretch Hectorjayjay gave his trademark kick and got about 5m clear of Messini. But the former New Zealander typically wasn’t going to go down without a fight and he stuck his head down and got going, stride by stride reeling in Hectorjayjay to eventually score a half-neck win in 1:54.9 (28.6secs third and fourth quarters). “It was a great race now that we’ve won but things didn’t go exactly how we wanted them to go,” Alford said. “He’s just a great little trier. I thought his head was dragging on the ground near the line he was trying that hard. He deserved that win." Jilliby Jagger ran third for Glen Craven, while Barimah ran on well for fourth for Damian Wilson and Major Crocker battled away for fifth with Greg Sugars in the sulky. The win meant back-to-back Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series successes for Messini. The race was one of the most exciting on the strong Saturday night card. Messini is by Art Major out of Mesmerizing. Re-live Messini's win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final Cody Winnell

Hectorjayjay looks set for another big Vicbred Super Series after winning yesterday’s harness racxing four-year-old entires and geldings’ heat at Charlton. The Bill Walker-trained Dream Away/Sheer Finesse gelding is a two-time Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-final winner, at two and three, and is now a two-time heat winner. Today he defeated last-start Harness Jewels placegetter Messini – from the Brent Lilley stable – by 1.6 metres over 2100m in a rate of 1:55.5. Driven by Simone Walker, Hectorjayjay crossed Messini early before handing up to Chris Alford aboard the favourite. In the straight Hectorjayjay pulled out and overran Messini late, finding the line impressively. Jilliby Jagger finished third for Glen Craven and Keayang Active fourth for Marg Lee and Jason Lee. Finishing order Video replay Who impressed you most in this heat? Tweet us @HRVnews using the hashtag #Trots >> Find out more about how the Super Series works Cody Winnell

Pearcedale father and daughter Bill and Simone Walker combined for their second Warragul Cup win on Easter Sunday with their harness racing star pacer Hectorjayjay. After Doolan Jack won the race in 2009, Hectorjayjay led throughout on Sunday, setting a track record mark on 1:59.8 for the first Cup run over the new distance of 2627 metres.   Aged just four the Dream Away gelding having only his thirty-seventh race start, Hectorjayjay held off all his rivals to score his sixteenth win.   It was only his second start at the Warragul Pacing Bowl - Hectorjayjay scored his maiden win on the circuit at age two.   Since then, he has worked his way through the classes and has raced against, and beaten many of, the best competitors in three seasons of racing.   The Walker family look set for some fun times ahead in future too with Hectorjayjay, winner of over $142,000 in stakes.   Owner Matthew McLellan accepted the gold cup from Frank Hone, representing race sponsor the Warragul Sporting and Social Club.   Trainer Bill Walker was clearly emotional at the trophy presentation - he hasn't enjoyed the best of health in recent times however Sunday's win will be a great boost for him.   The Walker stable have been great supporters of Warragul trotting for decades, and their win was a celebrated one among the local crowd.   Hectorjayjay     Feature race for the trotters on Sunday was the Eddie Evison Memorial Cup.   Sunset Invasion won the event. Accepting the Cup was Barry Garbutt - ironically he shod horses for the late Eddie Evison as a farrier in Gippsland many years ago.   Connections of Sunset Invasion were delighted with their victory - the Last Sunset six-year-old is a most consistent racehorse having recorded 14 wins and 16 placings from only 36 starts.   The Ken Miller Memorial Pace went to exciting four-year-old Kurahaupo Gambler, now a winner of three on end for Burrumbeet horseman Michael Stanley.   Undefeated since settling in Australia from New Zealand, the Bettor's Delight four-year-old looks set for greater success after his all-the-way win in Sunday's race.   All mobile start events on Sunday saw times which broke the magical two minute barrier - a first at Warragul and a credit to the track maintenance team.   Despite overcast weather conditions, attendance numbers were up slightly on last year at the Cup meeting.   Trotting returns to Warragul on Monday afternoon, May 4.   Kyle Galley

It’s rare to see a dead-heat at any harness racing meeting, let alone two! But that was the case at Cranbourne during the weekend when the judge couldn’t separate runners in the Dooza Sulky Pace and Dani Lewis Tribute. The opening event saw Princess Asha, with Rodney Petroff in the sulky, and Glenferrie Boss, driven by Jodi Quinaln, locked together at the end of 2080 metres. In a ‘blanket finish’, Phantom Rockstar was a head away third after leading from gate five. Two races later, Little Bit Sassy and Narreeva were inseparable after rating 2:02.9 for the 2080 metres. Little Bit Sassy’s success also proved to be a sentimental affair for trainer-driver Simone Walker, who was close friends with Dani Lewis. Lewis was tragically killed in a track accident at Cranbourne just days before the meeting. “It certainly was an emotional win and night,” Walker said. “It was a race I so desperately wanted to win and am thrilled I was able to do that, even if it is shared. “All the way down the straight when we were matching strides I was trying to work out if my horse’s head, or sulky, was in front, but I wasn’t sure when we hit the line. “I was so happy when I realised we had at least dead-heated. “It’s a win I will never forget and will cherish forever.” PAUL COURTS

Vince Vallelonga’s three-year-old Art Major gelding Major Crocker made it five wins in a row by taking out the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Final for 3YO geldings today at Tabcorp Park Melton. In what became the race of the day, Greg Sugars took the in-form pacer to the lead early and held out a fierce challenge from Simone Walker on Hectorjayjay. Once Major Crocker had found the markers first he then had to fend off another challenge, this time from Nathan Hurst aboard Saloon Passage, which galloped at the start but quickly got going again. A quick lead  time of 43.8secs was followed a first quarter of 29.5 before the on-pace runners finally got some reprieve when Bling It On ran to the front and was followed into the race by his co-favourite Our Sky Major. A second quarter of 30.1secs was the calm before another storm as Bling It On took it up a notch down the back, ripping out a 27.2secs third quarter. Our Sky Major appeared to be travelling well coming to the turn while Sugars and Major Crocker were cruising up behind. In the straight Sugars took Major Cruiser up along the sprint lane and overpowered Bling It On stride by stride, eventually getting his head in front right on the line. Queenslander Alleluia ran on powerfully from the back of the field to finish third for Grant Dixon, while Our Sky Major battled on gamely for fourth. The mile rate was a slick 1:55.0. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Xanderxav overcame an early speed duel to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. The Linton Power trained trotter had the pole draw, which helped him hold out the early challenge from fellow mobile-start firebrand squaregaiter Mister Gunsen. With regular driver David Moran in the spider Xanderxav, who hails from Marungi, continued his recent strong form, the wily eight-year-old racing more like a spritely four-year-old. At the 500-metre mark it became clear Xanderxav comfortably had the measure of race favourite Zedalite, which was beginning to struggle in the breeze. El Paco reaced by pulling out of the one-one to stake its claim three-wide, while Stoned I Am snagged back to the markers near the rear of the field and saved enormous ground around the final turn. But old Xanderxav is tougher than a cheap steak and the son of glorious trotter Wagon Apollo added a Group 2 victory to his kitbag, scoring a 4.9-metre win over runner-up Stoned I Am (Simone Walker). Xanderxav’s mile rate for the 2240-metre trip was 1:59.4. The Group 2 Breeders Crown Pacers’ Graduate was taken out by Keayang Cullen for Terang trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee. The in-form free-for-all star is headed towards the Miracle Mile long-term and tonight he defeated Shane Tritton trained Suave Stuey Lombo by 2.1 metres, while the winner’s stablemate, Keayang Steamer, finished third for driver Glen Craven. Keayang Cullen zipped around the field early to find the lead and then kept on kicking for a good win in a rate of 1:56.0, with a last half-mile of 55.7secs. Earlier in the night Grant Dixon trained and driven Feel The Faith was too strong for Glenferrie Blade in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ consolation, while Boasson Hagen took out the American Ideal @ Woodlands two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown consolation for Tasmanian trainer Christian Salter and leading reinsman Gavin Lang. Boasson Hagen beat runner-up Pompidou by a head with Hez The One third for Heywood trainer Bec East. John Justice delivered a perfect front-running drive aboard Shakti Bromac to land the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pace over 2240 metres, too strong for runner-up Valley Of Diamonds, while Wounded ran third. Rockbank trainer Joe Vassallo enjoyed success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trot with four-year-old Village Jasper gelding Stunning Jasper scoring a half-head win over race favourite Jeter with Speedy Rambo third. Michael Stanley, who has Soho Tokyo in the two-year-old fillies’ Breeders Crown Final on Sunday, captured the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 September Pace over 2240 metres with four-year-old Presidential Ball gelding Hilltop Hustler, which powered home by five metres over runner-up The Good Times and third placegetter Turnpike Cruiser. Four-year-old D M Dilinger gelding Crazy Dave broke his metropolitan maiden status in the eighth race, the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m. The winner came from the Gary Bailey stable at Portarlington and was driven by Michael Bellman. Essbee Doubleyou ran second for Jodi Quinlan, while Tyler Bromac was third for Matthew Craven. Valley Ess Jay won the last race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting consolation. Trained and driven by trotting master Chris Lang, the Skyvalley gelding fought back doggedly after being headed by The Third Son late to win by 1.9 metres. The Third Son held on for second for John Caldow, while Glenferrie Belle was well beaten in third place. Racing returns to Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday for the 10-Group 1 Breeders Crown Finals Day, where a huge crowd is expected. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racing drivers Zac Butcher and Luke McCarthy both produced brilliant drives in the second semi-final of the three-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown at Bray Raceway in Ballarat tonight. In the end Butcher took the win, just, aboard New Zealand star Our Sky Major, while McCarthy – whose dashing mid-race move aboard Bling It On from his back-row draw gave his horse a genuine winning chance – had to settle for second. If those two repeat their runs in the final at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday, it will be a classic Group 1 race. Hectorjayjay pinged off the arm to lead for Simone Walker early, which was a  surprise as the pre-race hype had been about Saloon Passage and Our Sky Major possibly getting involved in a two-horse speed duel. Hectorjayjay quickly handed up to Our Sky Major, which shuffled Saloon Passage three back along the pegs. McCarthy made a bold and dashing move aboard Bling It On at the 1200-metre mark and the star pacer had such a head of steam up that he was able to run to the lead. Our Sky Major was then behind the leader, Hectorjayjay was three-back the inside and Saloon Passage was in all sorts of traffic. But Butcher didn’t panic and was able to extricate the $1.50  Our Sky Major into clear running in the home straight, the son of Art Major driving hard late to pip Bling It On in a thriller, with Hectorjayjay rallying again for third. Jilliby Jagger ran on hard to finish fourth, while Saloon Passage was fifth and Mighty Gift sixth. The other three-year-old boys’ semi-final was taken out by Major Crocker and Greg Sugars for trainer Vince Vallelonga. Major Crocker was too strong for runner-up Alleluia, with Will Mach My Word third. That trio were 1-2-3 for the last lap. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Messini’s rise to harness racing stardom continued last night at Bendigo. The pacer, whose racing style is to keep his head low, stick his neck out and storm forward like a bullying gridiron hulk barging through would-be tacklers, never looked like getting beat. With Chris Alford in the sulky for trainer Brent Lilley, Messini came home with a 57-second last half to score a 4.6-metre victory in the ninth heat of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old colts and geldings. The high-class son of Art Major led from gate three and toyed with his rivals, only Glen Craven’s lightly raced Jilliby Jagger able to get within a bull’s roar of the winner at the end, the Terang pacer 4.6m behind in second. With a 1:57.5 mile rate – easily the quickest of the three Crown heats on the night – Messini looks cherry ripe for the semi-finals, with a decision to be made regarding whether the pacer remains with Lilley for the business end of the series or heads back to Lilley’s close mate and New Zealand’s leading trainer, Mark Purdon. Purdon sent Messini and Kept Under Wraps to Lilley for the lead-up to the Breeders Crown and Lilley has both horses firing on all cylinders. Messini Other heat winners last night were Will Mach My Word for trainer Geoff Webster with Emmett Brosnan in the chair, the son of Mach Three leading from go to whoa, and Dream Away gelding Hectorjayjay for Bill and Simone Walker, which scored by over 12m in a rate of 2:00.4 in the last race on the card. Will Mach My Word Hectorjayjay by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Chris Alford has his second Group 1 in two nights thanks to Messini scoring a huge win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO colts’ and geldings’ harness racing final tonight. The Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major sprinted to the lead mid-race and was never going to lose once there, eventually scoring an 8.8m triumph over Major Crocker in a mile rate of 1:55.9. Both favourite (Messini at $2.70) and second-favourite (Hectorjayjay at $3.30) had drawn extreme barriers and tactics were always going to be hugely important, with Alford on Messini and Simone Walker on Hectorjayjay. Walker took off wide aboard her chance early in the piece and was made to work by Young Modern and Michael Stanley to get to the breeze. Eventually Stanley eased into the one-out-one-back position, and then Alford made his move, sending Messini off around the field and sprinting to the front without too much trouble. “Once we got to the front he was always going to be hard to beat,” Alford said. “This is a great little horse.” Messini drew right away to win by 8.8m over runner-up Major Crocker (Greg Sugars) and Smokey Quartz (David Miles) in third. Lilley was full of praise for legendary New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who sent the horse to the Bolinda horseman. “He’s welcome to stay at my place as long as he wants,” Lilley said of Messini, which has won 10 of 24 starts. “I can’t take too much credit for him. Mark sent him over in great order.” Messini by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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