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Trainer Emma Stewart has grabbed another piece of harness racing history. She took out the first race in a new morning timeslot for the sport at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. Beautiful Women ($1.70 favourite) led home a 3yo trifecta for Stewart's Cardigan stable. Having her second start, Beautiful Women is a half-sister to former top flight juvenile pacer Our Little General, which was also trained by Stewart. Our Little General was a multiple group 1 winner, including the 2017 Victoria Derby, as a 2yo and 3yo - winning 15 times in Australia before being exported to the United States. Stewart went to have a treble on the seven-race program. In a massive day she added another four winners at Melton on Saturday night. It was also a memorable day for Ballarat 17-year-old Connor Clarke, who drove his first double at Melton on Saturday night to give him three wins over the two meetings. Reprinted with permission of The Courier

Exciting pacer Eureka put the finishing touches to Kate Gath's magical return to Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Fresh from a driving-related suspension, Gath claimed the last leg of a winning treble with the former New Zealander, who scored a dominant victory in the VHRC Pace (1720m, NR 64-69). The son of Washington VC had to race in the death seat for much of the journey, but it proved no barrier as he let down at the top of the straight and charged clear to win comfortably in a mile rate of 1:55.3. It was the four-year-old's fourth win from five appearances in Australia, with the only blemish coming when he galloped and broke gear at Cranbourne in late March. "His last start at Ballarat and his trial since then, he has just given me a really good feel," Gath told SEN1116's Talking Trots on Track. "I've just come back and gone to (trainer/husband) Andy (Gath) 'I really like this horse'. And I don't say that about that many. "He just seems to be getting better and better and I'm really not surprised that he did what he did (Saturday night) on the feel he has given me on the last couple of starts." Gath scored earlier wins with Emma Stewart's Two Times Bettor and Arden Voyager, which like Eureka is trained by her husband Andy. The reappearance of Stewart's superstar pacer Poster Boy was billed as a major highlight of Saturday night's card and he didn't disappoint. Injury and illness had kept the multiple Group 1 winner sidelined for close to a year before the previous weekend's victory at Melton and he backed up seven days later with another scintillating performance. Racing in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (2240m, NR 90-120), Poster Boy was allowed to roll to the front by driver Greg Sugars and with minimal pressure, he covered his last 800m in 54.8sec to clock a mile rate of 1:55.7. "As you saw, he straightened up and did that all himself. To snap off a sub-27 quarter without even being asked for it - it takes a real good horse to do that," Sugars said. The win was the last of three on the night for the Myrniong-based Sugars, who also scored with Im No Outlaw and Cocosfella for trainer/wife Jess Tubbs. Sugars' sister Kylie was another to leave Melton with a big smile on her face after the performance of Sammy Showdown in the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m, NR 75-120). The horse beat a quality field of squaregaiters to register his first success since his six-race streak ended in early February.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

It's not the most conventional of training methods, but regular runs and jogs through the bushland near Daylesford has become the norm for evergreen trotter Fear Not. Trained by Glenn Conroy at Musk Vale and raced by his daughter Lyndal, the seven-year-old mare is one of the more recognisable competitors on the Victorian harness racing circuit. Since making her debut in March of 2015, the daughter of Skyvalley has run another 178 times for seven wins and 57 minor placings. Essentially, she's raced week in, week out across that five-year period with great consistency. Lyndal, who operates a hairdressing salon in Daylesford and works closely with the horses, explained the secret to getting Fear Not to the track so often. "The only time she sets foot on the track is when she races," she said. "Every other day she jogs out the bush. We are very fortunate to live over the road from the bush so there's all sorts of fire trails for her to go and jog on. "During the start of the week, she does a power of work. She does a lot of hill work to make sure her fitness is at its peak and coming up to race day, it will taper back slowly and just some nice jog work to keep her ticking over. "That's what allows her to race weekly and so regularly, because she isn't having a lot of strain from fast work on the tracks. "We just use her fast work hit-out as her race and look after her during the week." Lyndal is well known for pampering her horses and Fear Not certainly gets the full treatment. "She has her own woolen dress rug with her name embroidered on the side of it," she said. "She has got a really nice bling brow band and I always braid her forelock and her main. "To me, I think presentation is part of it as well. I like knowing not only do my horses look good, they feel good and hopefully they reward us." Fear Not, who has contested 13 Group 1 races over her career with a fourth placing in February's Breed For Speed Gold final her best result, will step out in the Niota Bloodstock Trot (2240m) at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. She will be out to break a losing sequence that spans back to December last year, but is well suited to the small field according to Lyndal. "She's not very fast out, so drawing six, she definitely won't be leading. Dad always drives her for luck," she said. "He sits her in and we always hope for a bit of speed on, a bit of pace because she likes a good solid race. And then we just hope for the best." Anton Golino's Imsettogo looks the one to beat from the barrier one draw, but there's a host of chances in a small but quality seven-horse field. Another highlight on Saturday night's card will be the return of Emma Stewart-trained star Poster Boy, who made his return from injury and illness with a sizzling first-up win last weekend. The Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m) is another exciting event, which will see a mouthwatering clash between top squaregaiters I Am Pegasus, Sammy Showdown and Savannah Jay Jay.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and the Victorian Harness Racing Club (VHRC) are pleased to announce a significant new media partnership. HRV’s live digital streaming service Trots Vision will broadcast The Parade Ring sponsored by the VHRC – Victorian harness racing’s preeminent club for trots owners – at every Tabcorp Park Melton Saturday night meeting. The VHRC also joins the RSN family through this HRV partnership with the long-time weekly trots show Gait Speed now sponsored by the VHRC. “The VHRC is firmly committed to working alongside HRV to add value to our industry and promote the great game wherever possible,” VHRC’s Rob Auber said. “Trots Vision is a wonderful media platform which provides great value for owners and participants who cannot be at the track and now they are able to see their horse in The Parade Ring brought to you by VHRC. “We are also thrilled to align our VHRC brand to RSN’s Gait Speed program, which can be heard every Monday on RSN Central with Gareth Hall. Dan Mielicki and I are regulars on that show and we’re looking forward to continuing to bring great stories to life for the benefit of the listeners and the industry. “We are honoured to partner with HRV and this will be the first of many exciting VHRC projects. We hope all owners and industry lovers will support our club with its membership initiatives for 2020-21 and we’re confident the harness industry will only grow if we are prepared to all support each other and pull in the one direction.” HRV General Manager of Marketing Andrew English welcomed the new partnership and spoke highly of the role VHRC has played over many years. “The VHRC has been an integral part of the Victorian trots industry for a long time and HRV is excited to extend this partnership to encompass two of our key media brands in The Parade Ring on Trots Vision and Gait Speed on RSN,” English said. “I congratulate the VHRC team, and Rob Auber in particular, not only for the exemplary work he does as one of our hosts on Trots Vision, but also for the way in which he is working so effectively in his role with the VHRC and for the greater good of our industry as a whole. “HRV is thrilled to be working so closely with the VHRC to develop our mutual vision, which will only strengthen the entire harness racing industry for many years to come.”   HRV - Cody Winnell

The show must go on for trainer-driver Kylie Sugars, whose star trotter came from the clouds this season and returns from a brief spell to contest the last race of tonight’s Tabcorp Park program. The rise and rise of Sammy Showdown has been one of the stories of the season, with Sugars, who co-leases the Baccardi Lindy gelding with his owner-breeder Graeme Rayner, guiding the trotter from a moderately rated, lightly raced four-year-old to a Group 1 threat. “He returned in November at the end of last year after five and a half months away due to injury and if you had told me then that by the first week of March he would have competed in two Group 1 races and only just gotten beaten in both of them I would have said ‘you are insane’,” Sugars told Trots Talk. “But every challenge that’s been thrown at him he just keep stepping up, he gives you everything, he leaves nothing in the tank and he answers every call. “He’s done a phenomenal job really from where he was in November, a 54 rater, to stepping up into free-for-all country. He’s only four years old, he’s relatively lightly raced and his acceleration to fast class has been very quick.” That emergence continues at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, when Sammy Showdown contests the Aldebaran Park Trot, the last on the program that streams on Trots Vision at 9.37pm. It’s his first start since running third behind Big Jack Hammer and Red Hot Tooth in Menangle’s Aquagait Trotters Mile, which came on the heels of a fourth placing behind Tornado Valley, Wobelee and Temporale in Aldebaran Park The Knight Pistol. Beaten only 1.1 and 6 metres respectively, it’s quite extraordinary company he’s keeping. “It was a huge thrill, huge buzz,” Sugars said. “All those horses that competed in those Group 1 races have been going around in those races for last two or three seasons and he’s a Johnny come lately. “I can go into those races confident that whatever happens he’ll gives his best, and I’m very lucky sitting behind him because he always does – no matter what happens he goes down fighting.” She’s optimistic those traits will again be on show tonight, when Sammy Showdown starts from gate four and is likely to start short in the market amid the open class field. “A small field, but a small field of very consistent horses,” Sugars said. “Scruffy Doolan has really hit its straps the last two starts, I Am Pegasus has got very good, solid form from the Breed For Speed Series against her own sex over a mile. She’s hugely talented. “And Savannah Jay Jay has been going around in free-for-all company for a number of seasons and he’s a very good sit-sprinter. “A small but select field of horses who are always thereabouts and capable of running a good race. (Sammy Showdown) is going to have to begin quite well if we want to get to the front, but if we have to sit outside them then so be it. “He’s picked up right where he left off, so I thought we’ll head back to the races and see what happens.” It’s not only been a breakout for Sammy Showdown but also one of sorts for Sugars. This season marks her 20th in the sulky, having competed every year since her 1999-2000 debut. But while Sugars has had her least amount of driving starts (37) so far this season since 2007-08, she has remarkably enjoyed her greatest amount of stakes won ($71,405) since 2005-06, with five of her six winners being Sammy Showdown (the other was Horratio). TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will guide listeners through the wins, near-misses and opportunities of tonight's Tabcorp Park card with Talking Trots on Track from 6-10pm. Aired on SEN 1116AM and 1377AM in Melbourne, 657AM in Perth and 1575AM in Wollongong, you can also click here to listen live online and for links to download the SEN app.   Craig Rail's Trial File All the good oil from the Victorian trials circuit. BLACKBOOKER: Race 6 No. 3 War Dan Settled five back on the markers and was the widest runner turning into the straight. He finished very quickly out wide on the track for an eye-catching second. FULL REPORT     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Former Canadian 2YO Colt of the Year Warrawee Needy, now based at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Wagga (NSW), was credited with his fifth harness racing winner from his first Australian crop when the two-year-old Menames Needy emerged successful at Wagga on Easter Day. Having only his fourth start, the gelding was second last on the home turn and disappointed for racing room but gained a needle eye opening and finished full of running to claim the thick end of the prize. Tintin In America, a studmate of Warrawee Needy at Yirribee, left a couple of very smart three-year-old winners on either side of the continent last weekend. Wotdidusaaay took full advantage of a perfect trip to outsprint his rivals at Melton in 1:58 over 2240 metres. It was his sixth win and sent his stake tally over the $30,000 mark. He looks a really good youngster. While Middlepage, a three-year-old colt, finished strongly after enjoying a box seat trail to post his first win at Gloucester Park. He rated 1:59.6 over 2130 metres. To complete a successful week Timely Sovereign, a son of Lombo Pocket Watch, notched win No. 9 and increased his earnings to almost $80,000 at Penrith.   By Peter Wharton

There was a big dollop of joy for harness racing trainer/breeder Charlie Mizzi at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night when his promising three-year-old kept a cool head and claimed a big scalp. Wotdidusaaay, now a winner of six of his 18 starts, capped Saturday night’s racing with victory in the Allied Express Pace, bringing great delight to his Sunshine-based trainer-breeder, who also co-owns the gelding with Kurunjung’s Charmaine, Jay and five-year-old Addyson Briggs.   “He’s getting better all the time,” Mizzi said. “Getting stronger, bit of a smart arse, he tries you out. Lance (Justice) has done a nice job with him.” Mizzi trains a team of five from Justice’s Melton property, with Justice not only his race-night reinsman but helpful in the day-to-day training. Saturday’s night’s $8000 showdown pitted Wotdidusaaay against last start winner Error, for Bacchus Marsh’s Jodi Quinlan, and short-priced favourite Abouttime for the all-powerful Emma Stewart stable. The latter had received plenty of support in the lead up, with the lightly-raced Art Major gelding having won both his previous starts this campaign, including a romping 75-metre victory at Shepparton. And all initially looked to go to plan for Abouttime, with reinsman Greg Sugars easily sliding to the front of affairs in a moderate 47.3-second lead time, but things were also going to script for the trailing Wotdidusaaay and Justice. “The reason I didn’t come out of the gate was because it was a bit of a game plan, I thought if I don’t bustle him early, I’ve got barrier one, I am going to be behind the leader,” Justice said. “Worst case scenario I run second, but with a good trip I was confident he could win.” Crucially, the leader continued to pull in the run, getting little respite as his 29.5-second first quarter would see him pulse at the front of affairs. Conversely Wotdidusaaay, who had raced keenly at a recent start, was in cruise control on Saturday night. “That was why he went so much better," Justice said. "He raced here a couple of weeks back in a really good three-year-old race, he run fourth in the race but he pulled really hard all the way behind them. “Tonight as soon as the first quarter came up in under 30, Greg kept slipping away from the field all the time and I kept thinking it won’t run up the straight.” As they approached the final turn, Wotdidusaaay advanced around Abouttime, making short work of the leader, with Error running into second. It was great reward for Mizzi and Justice was only too happy to deliver it “(Charlie’s) a really good guy,” Justice said. “One thing about him, he’s really loyal. He tries really hard. I can’t say enough about the guy – he’s just a really kind-hearted person.” To watch the video replay click here. The Stewart camp wasn’t without joy, with new addition Egodan winning the TAB Multiplier Pace ahead of stablemate Major Times. Having been first up in three months, Saturday was the much-travelled Egodan’s 100th start and he made it count, hitting the line strongly for reinsman Greg Sugars in the night’s $12,000 open class feature. To watch Egodan's video replay click here. The victory was one of the two for the night for Sugars, who also saluted on Little Peanut in the Garrards Pace, when Myrniong’s Larajay Farm stable, owned by Sugars and his wife trainer Jess Tubbs, filled the first three placings. Little Peanut won from Cocosfella and Huli Nien and Sugars said post-race the five-year-old winner should only get better for the run. To watch the video replay of Little Peanut click here. Matching Sugars’ driving double was Ryan Duffy, whose magic Melton form continued when he steered trotters Scruffy Doolan (trained by Geoff Webster) and prodigiously talented Always Ready (trained by Anton Golino) to victories. To watch the video replay of Scruffy Doolan click here. To watch the video replay of Always Ready cliick here. HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

There is no stopping talented harness racing squaregaiter Always Ready at the moment. From the powerful Cardigan stable of Anton Golino, the group 1-winning four-year-old made it four wins on end with an effortless all-the-way victory at Melton on Saturday night. Always Ready ($1.20 favourite) raced away by 26m, giving Ballarat reinsman Ryan Duffy an armchair ride. With regular stable drivers Jason Lee and Glen Craven unable to take the reins as they live outside Harness Racing Victoria's specified mid-west region under the COVID-19 racing model, it was Duffy's first time behind Always Ready. Always Ready's eighth win in just 12 starts brought up a double for Duffy - the third time in as many Saturday nights that he has had multiple wins at Melton. The Trots@TheTrotsComAu   The new Prince of @Tabcorp_Park Ryan Duffy strikes again, this time with Scruffy Doolan winning the Niota Bloodstock Trotters Handicap. #TheTrots Watch live and free: …     9:03 PM - Apr 11, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy See The Trots's other Tweets   MYRNIONG trainer Jess Tubbs produced a trifecta in the Garrards Pace, 2240m, at Melton. Little Peanut ($1.20 favourite) found the front and led home stablemates Cocosfella and Helki Nien in a tight finish. Tubbs' husband Greg Sugars pulled the right rein by being on Little Peanut. It was the first leg of a double for Sugars, who went on to also score on the Emma Stewart-trained Egodan ($2.90) in 1:54.3 over 1720m. While it was Egodan's 100th race start, it was the eight-year-olds first start for the Cardigan stable of Stewart after a short stint with Matthew Craven near Terang. Stewart also scored with Tina Calls ($3.10) on the night. Ballarat has a mid-west race meeting on Friday night. By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier  

Racing’s welcomed return at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight not only brings short-term relief but may also provide a platform for the long-term if Chris Alford’s book of drives are any gauge. The Schweppes Metropolitan Drivers Premiership leader has enjoyed two Group 1 wins with both Kualoa and I Am Pegasus, and tonight the once star three-year-olds continue their evolution as they progress to the open-age ranks. This is particularly the case for Kualoa, the Emma Stewart-trained mare who has won 13 of her 19 starts to date and more than $300,000 in stakes, and steps out in the Alabar Pace at 9.05pm an even money favourite with the The short price is despite a couple of question marks, with Kualoa first up since July 6 and taking her first steps in a transition that will define her future. “It is always hard when they come up from three-year-old into open age,” Alford said. “It’s the toughness of it. In their age group when they are better than the others you can give them a breather here and there. When you are up against the best open age horses the pressure is on from the get go.” Alford thinks that may well be the case for Kualoa tonight, with the mare drawn gate one, so well positioned to push for the lead but also susceptible to early pressure. “I’m not sure if she will hold the front,” Alford said. “Vandanta could be the problem, but she does get out pretty good.  “She’s a quality mare. She had one trial six weeks or so ago and felt really good. I’m sure she’s the best horse in the race, but she is first up in a long time and am sure she will improve for the run.” Courtesy of victory in the Group 1 Breed For Speed final in February, I Am Pegasus has had a more substantial into tonight’s test, the Group 3 VHRC Carlottas Pride Trotters Free For All. But the Joe Vassallo-trained trotter also comes in with question marks, having been pulled up last start after being squeezed early in running and racing roughly. Alford said it was the result of a wider concern. “She seems to have a lot of trouble off the second row,” he said, a fate she’ll have to deal with again tonight, being drawn in gate nine as a result of her out of the draw status. “Last run at Melton she was out control when they got away and she got squeezed up. “We have done a bit of work and hopefully that settles her down a bit. If she settles she is just as good with a sit as she is out in front, we just haven’t seen it yet.” Alford’s remaining drives include Vouchers for trainer Jess Tubbs in the Allied Express 3YO Classic, who he said was “pretty good at Cranbourne running a mile in 1:55 and did it easy”. But Alford said Tubbs’ husband, Greg Sugars, “would know her better than me” and he’s chosen to keep the steer on brilliant filly Maajida. Alford will also steer Stewart’s Born To Rocknroll in the Hygain Captain Sandy Free For All, noting “his first run was plan when he was second, but his Charlton Cup run was really good and he is getting back on track”. And finally Freddy Funk in the first, the DNR Logistics Pace, who he said was a “bit out of his grade”.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

It was the Kate Gath show on Saturday night as the state’s top reinswoman scored three memorable Group race triumphs at Tabcorp Park Melton. Gath guided the country’s premier trotter Tornado Valley to his 19th victory at Victorian headquarters to bring up the winning three-peat, which had earlier been set up by Emma Stewart-trained pair Pacifico Dream and Demon Delight. The success with Tornado Valley, who is trained by Gath’s husband at the pair’s Long Forest base, was the horse’s 35th in a career spanning 95 starts. The evergreen squaregaiter had to fight to win Saturday night’s Group 3 Economix Scotch Notch Memorial (2240m, NR 80-120). He sat parked outside Maori Law for much of the journey before getting the better of him in a battle down the home straight. “He just does what he has to… he was holding him (Maori Law) a little bit better than he normally has been lately,” Gath said. “He just got the job done and he’s just been a great horse for us.” Earlier, Gath partnered Pacifico Dream in his demolition of the Group 3 VHRC Victoria Sires Classic (2240m, 3YO) field. After leading from barrier one, Gath copped some pressure through the middle stages but then let the Mach Three colt sprint home and score by close to 20 metres in a rate of 1:55.1. The result followed a fourth placing in the NSW Derby and was the horse’s fifth win from 10 career starts. “I’m not surprised. I’ve loved this horse from when he was a two-year-old,” Gath said. “He hasn’t drawn good in any of the big races and it’s probably stopped him winning one. But he’s still on the way up and as we saw tonight, he just played with them.” Gath made it a race-to-race double when she drove stablemate Demon Delight to a head success in the Group 2 City of Melton Plate XXXI (2240m, 4&5YO). After returning from a consistent but unsuccessful Sydney campaign - which included a fourth placing in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire - Demon Delight was able to land his first win since August last year in the $50,000 feature. Gath took the horse from three back the running line to a spot outside the leader at the bell and it proved a great move as the four-year-old then surged to the lead at the home turn and held off a wall of chasing rivals. Clayton Tonkin’s Out To Play darted home along the sprint lane to grab second. “This horse has been knocking on the door to win a big race and he never gets the draw. Tonight it turned out a little bit better for him and he got the job done,” Gath said. “He’s such a quality horse but every start he goes around against the best horses of his age group and every start he nearly doesn’t get a good draw. His record, as good as it is, could probably be even better.” Demon Delight has now won 11 of 25 starts for close to $200,000 in prizemoney. The night’s other feature was the Group 3 Allied Express Jodie’s Babe (1720m, mares NR 70-120) and it was taken out by Delightful Tara for Kialla trainer Isabel Walsh and driver Josh Aiken. The meeting kicked off on a sour note when top driver Kima Frenning was tipped out of the sulky before the running of race one. It’s understood she has sustained a broken wrist in the ugly fall and is set to be sidelined for some time. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM THE WINNING DRIVERS IN ALL CLEAR:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

IT was the Kate Gath show at Melton last night. Gath drove three of the feature winners, two for Emma Stewart and the other for husband, Andy Gath. Gath’s splurge started when she partnered Stewart’s exciting three-year-old Pacifico Dream led throughout and blew his rivals away in the Group 3 VHRC Sires Classic. The son of Mach Three scored by 18.2m in a 1min55.1sec and that’s after being pressured through a blazing 27.6sec second quarter. Pacifico Dream was underdone when fifth in the Victoria Derby, ran a terrific race when fourth in the NSW Derby and looks be better as the season rolls on. Gath then teamed with the classy Demon Delight to lead home an Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trifecta in the Group 2 Melton Plate with Out To Play second and Major Times third. Demon Delight, back from a Sydney campaign, pulled very hard in the run, moved to sit parked in the middle stages and still found plenty to hold-off Out To Play and win by a half-neck in a 1min56.2sec mile rate for 2240m. “He’s all class. I wondered what he’d have left when I asked him, but he just kept finding. It was a big win,” Gath said. Gath’s third big win came on champion trotter Tornado Valley in the Group 3 Scotch Notch Memorial. Tornado Valley sat parked from the middle stages and simply proved too classy and strong for a gallant leader, Maori Law, in a 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2240m. It was Tornado Valley’s 35th win from 95 starts and took him past $760,000 in earnings. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ TOP driver Kima Frenning faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines, but things could have been much worse after a crash in the opening race at Melton last night. Rival drivers listened as watched as horror as Frenning’s head smashed into the track and she was rushed to hospital. Reports and photos emerged later showing Frenning’s badly smashed helmet, but she has a suspected broken hand or wrist, sore back and suspected concussion. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ CHAMPION driver Chris Alford’s 1600km return road trip to Bathurst for Friday night was worth it after he snared two key wins. Alford partnered Clayton Tonkin’s raw but exciting two-year-old colt to an impressive win the fourth heat of the Gold Crown and Anthony Butt’s buzz young trotter Elite Stride in the Gold Coronet. “By the time you go to airport from home, get a plane to Sydney and then drive to Bathurst … I’ve actually just found it easier to drive the whole way from home,” Alford said. Idyllic, a strongly-built son of Somebeachsomewhere, caught the eye when second to stablemate Ideal Dan on debut and went one better despite sitting parked at Bathurst in a 1min56.5sec mile rate for 1730m and closing splits of 56.5 and 27.8sec. “The stable have always had a big opinion of him, but he’s still learning. That was a good win because the leader just kept coming back at us,” Alford said. Ideal Man also won his way through to next Saturday night’s Gold Crown final after overcome some traffic issues to score easily for trainer Emma Stewart and driver Amanda Turnbull. David Moran, of Lochinvar Art fame, will be a major player in the Crown final with his impressive Captaintreacherous gelding Lochinvar Chief, who went the quickest of the heats in a 1min55.2sec mile rate. Tasty Delight beat Lochinvar Chief when they last met at Menangle and he too won through the Crown final with an sharp 1min56.2sec heat win. Elite Stride was never out of second gear posting his fourth win from just five starts. “They told he was something special before I drove him at Melton and they weren’t wrong,” Alford said. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ IT will be fun to see WA’s latest pacing star Shockwave chase some eastern states riches later this year. But for now, the Ryan Bell-trained four-year-old should just keep picking off races at home. The son of Mach Three was untroubled making it two wins from as many runs back from a minor injury setback when he cruised to a free-for-all win at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Driver Aiden De Campo pushed through to take the lead after 150m, cruised through a 61.3sec middle half, then dashed home in 54.9 and 26.8sec to win as he liked. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was a new stable, but the same result for classy Kiwi mare Havtime at Menangle last night. Now in the care of KerryAnn Turner, Havtime was beaten to the lead by No Win No Feed, but then worked around to take the front off her and was never in danger. The former Barry Purdon-trained mare zoomed away to win by 10.9m in a 1min51.5sec and looks sure to have loads of fun at Menangle in coming months. On the same card, former star juvenile filly Molly Kelly continued her unbeaten streak for the Craig Cross stable with an all-the-way win in the Group 3 Autumn Gift final. The five-year-old made it four wins for Cross when she paced a 1min52.4sec mile. Cross snared another significant win when former star filly Speak No Evil, having her third run on the comeback trail, scored in a 1min50.9sec mile. It was his 13th win from just 18 starts and she spent almost 18 months on the sidelines with injury after a fantastic juvenile career with Emma Stewart. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal edged tantalisingly close to $1.5 million in career earnings with another Menangle win last night. Tim Butt’s eight-year-old blazed off the gate in 25.9sec with Replaced Eye, but couldn’t cross, so driver Jack Trainor dropped in for the trail. My Field Marshal looked set for an easy win at the top of the straight, but the early burn took its toll and he had to dig deep to fight off Alpine Stride, who ran a monstrous race after galloping early, in a 1min51.1sec mile. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see Lance Justice back in the winner’s circle at Melton last night even if most punters weren’t so happy. Justice trained and drove Love Ina Chevy to win the 1200m Stampede as a $27.10 outsider. Love In A Chevy is a special horse to Justice and his stable, having been nursed for many days through the effects of a snake bite which left him fighting for his life.   Adam Hamilton

Myrniong-based driver Greg Sugars had the magic touch in the sulky on Saturday night with a winning four-peat at Tabcorp Park Melton. Among his triumphs on the nine-race card were two for trainer-wife Jess Tubbs and others for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Sugars and Tubbs struck early with stablemates Huli Nien and Larajay Macray, who scored decisive wins in the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) and Alabar Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) respectively. For Huli Nien, the victory was his 11th overall and backed up a recent win at Maryborough in late February, while for Larajay Macray the sixth career triumph ended a long run of outs that spanned back to August last year. Sugars then took aim with Stewart’s returning star Major Times, who scored a fresh victory first-up since a second placing in the Breeders Crown Championship (4YO entires and geldings) of August 2019. “He’s had a couple of good trials, but it’s never the same as match fitness,” Sugars said after the win in the Allied Express Pace (2240m, NR 85-99). “He was very impressive. We know he’s a top-class, tough sort of horse when he’s right and that was pretty good.” Major Times had to work in the early stages to eventually find the lead and ran along in solid time before shaking off runner-up War Dan by close to three metres. The victory, in a mile rate of 1:55.1, was the son of Art Major’s 14th from 32 career starts. Sugars then made it four for the night when he lifted Tonkin’s Out To Play over the line in the Pridmore Electrics Pace (1720m, NR 77-84). Sugars parked back in the field from barrier eight and then came with a sweeping three-wide run down the back straight, which proved just too good for runner-up Franks Very Much, who was beaten close to two metres. The victory, in 1:53.3, followed a gallant fifth in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire behind Lochinvar Art a few weeks ago and takes the horse’s record to seven wins from 16 starts. “He’s a hard horse not to love, really,” Sugars said. “He’s got a beautiful nature, he’s a good looking fella, he’s fast and he ticks a lot of boxes. He’s good to be part of.” Sugars said it was basically just Out To Play’s class that got him over the line on Saturday night. “He still had to put up a pretty special performance because he was giving them a big, big start and they’ve run great sectionals,” he said. Trainer-driver husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath enjoyed a winning double with Eureka (Hyland Sportswear Pace, 1200m, NR 60-69) and Majestuoso (Garrards Trot, 2240m, NR 70-85), while Stewart also claimed a double when Freddy Funk took out the Hygain Claiming Pace (2240m) to register his third success on end.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

The flying Pat Stanley continued his rise to top-line star under the care of Kerryn Manning with a blistering victory at Tabcorp Park Melton. At just his fifth run for the Great Western-based horsewoman, the son of Western Ideal added the IRT Australia Markovina Free For All (2240m) to his recent South Australian Pacing Cup success with a dominant 14-metre triumph in Saturday night’s feature. The win, in a mile rate of 1:55.2, continued a great run of form since joining Manning’s yard and plans are now in place for a likely tilt at the Group 2 City of Melton Plate in a fortnight’s time. “He should measure up, hopefully, in some of the better races,” Manning said. “He’s headed to America eventually. He’s owned by Ron (Buker) over there but he’s won back his $50,000 that he paid for him and he’s earning more now. He said we’d leave him here while we are going well.” Pat Stanley was bred and raced in the early part of his career in New Zealand and then spent a couple of years with Blake Fitzpatrick in New South Wales before being sent to Victoria. “When they bought him I hadn’t really heard of him,” Manning said. “I watched a few of his replays and he looked to go really good without having a lot of luck up there, but (was) always running on really good.” Manning said Pat Stanley’s win in the South Australian Pacing Cup in early February, when severely pressured in the lead, proved he had the strength as well as the speed he had shown previously. This performance was followed by an eye-catching second behind Code Bailey in the Terang Pacing Cup prior to Saturday night’s success. Pat Stanley has now had 45 career starts for 14 wins and more than $140,000 in prizemoney. Champion reinsman Chris Alford produced a winning treble at Melton, scoring in the Allied Express Pace (1200m, 4YO+) with David Aiken-trained Pirate Bay, winning the Benstud Standardbreds Trot (2240m, 4YO+ NR 75-100) with Andy Gath’s Miss Blissful and then the Empire Stallions Claiming Pace (1720m) with Emma Stewart’s Freddy Funk. Freddy Funk’s triumph capped a perfect night for Stewart, who prepared three runners at Melton for three wins. Also successful was debutant Ideal Dan, who took out the Breckon Farms Sapling Stakes (1720m, 2YO colts and geldings) and Ideal Conquest, who won the TAB Multiplier Pace (2240m, mares NR 70-89).   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Sunday’s Birchip meeting has been postponed after the town received half its annual rainfall in recent weeks, with a further 50mm of rain falling overnight. And Kilmore's track (pictured) was washed away overnight after 80mm of rain fell on the town forcing the relocation of tonight's meeting to Tabcorp Park Melton. “We’ve copped six inches of rain in less than a month – the annual rainfall is 9-11 inches,” club secretary Brad Sharp said. “We got 50mm overnight, which was a lot more than predicted. “The track’s fine but the float car park and surrounds are all under water and it is just going to be too hard to manage. “It’s devastating but there’s not much we can do about it.” Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said HRV would work with Birchip to find a new date for its annual meeting. “This is disappointing for the club because they’ve put so much work and promotion into what is always a great day, but we’ll explore all options with the club to help them find a new date on the calendar,” Bell said. Kilmore CEO Ben Murphy was disappointed to lose tonight's meeting but said it was important an early decision was made for the benefit of industry participants.  “There’s a need for remedial work on the track because the base has been washed away,” Murphy said. “It’s disappointing but we’ve had over 80mm overnight and we've made the call early.” HRV has advised participants of schedule changes via text message alert. More information will be provided throughout the day as it comes to hand. Follow this website, @TheTrotsComAU on Twitter and HRV’s Facebook page for the latest information.     HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Outstanding European stallion Orlando Vici just keeps on racking up the winners. Despite tiny numbers of foals Down Under, the classic winning French stallion had two winners and a runner-up in Australia last week as the country's age-group season cranked up a gear. Michael Bellman's Just Believe showed typical French toughness in sitting three wide early and the parking up outside the leader before staying on strongly for a win at Melton on Saturday night. From the first Australian crop of just 11 foals, ten of which have since won, this was Just Believe's third win in four starts as a 4YO, and fourth win in a 12-race career. Another from that first Down Under crop, Montpelllier set a track record when winning the frst race at Ararat on Friday night, after sitting parked for the last lap. The the 4YO gelded son of Orlando Vici and Dream Vacation mare Kahmotion was driven by Jackie Barber for trainer Anton Golino. And on Thursday night yet another from that crop, Orlando Storm, a 4YO mare qualified for the Need For Speed Silver Princess finals by running up to Imsettogo, a daughter of another French stallion, Haras des Trotteurs resident stallion Used To Me at Ballarat. Orlando Vici has left Derby winners in Sweden and Norway and numerous Gp 1 winners in France including the likes of 7 time Group 1 winning millionaire Un Mec d'Heripre and Prix d'Amerique runner up Looking Superb. by Dave Sanders, for Harnesslink  

Two of the north’s bravest trotters are set to cash in on the frailties of trotting big boys over the next month.  Temporale and Massive Metro have already paid for their Australian campaigns for trainer Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett with big performances at Melton over the last two weeks. Temporale won the A$50,000 Dullard Cup in a rare group one win for Hackett’s green and white racing colours 11 days ago, while Massive Metro was a strong third in the A$250,000 Great Southern Star at Melton last Saturday. While plenty of the Kiwis who contested that carnival are already home, both the South Auckland trotters are staying on in Australia for three more races and the final one in particular looks perfect for them. The pair next contest the A$50,000 Knight Pistol at Melton on February 14 followed by the A$100,000 Grand Prix at the same track on February 29. They will then head north to Menangle for the A$50,000 Trotters Mile on March 7, which is Miracle Mile night. Already one of the hotshots of the open class trotting scene in Oscar Bonavena has returned to New Zealand, where his connections hope a break will help him strengthen up. And while Great Southern Star winner Tornado Valley will meet the Kiwis in their two Victorian races, he can’t make the trip to Menangle. “He is the worst traveller we have ever had,” explains driver Kate Gath. “It is not nerves because when he gets to the track he is fine but he never stops moving in the float. He is like he is tap dancing the entire trip. “We took him to Ballarat two weeks ago and he was in a lather by the time we got him there so he definitely couldn’t do nine hours in a float to Sydney.” So while the Wallis-Hackett pair will be competitive in both their upcoming Victorian races, the Menangle Mile should be well down on the class of the Great Southern Star. “There is nothing for them here and they are handling the racing so well over there it makes sense to stay,” says Wallis. “Temporale is a old pro and he won well the first night but never got a chance getting back and wide last week while Massive Metro took a while to settle in but was far better on night two. “So it is great to have A$200,000 worth of races for them at this time of the year.”   Michael Guerin

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