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The barrier draw for the harness racing 2019 Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup, to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.

“Horses are only human” said legendary gallops man George Hanlon, and listening to harness racing driver Lauren Tritton talk about Muscle Factory you’d be forgiven for thinking she was talking about one her own children, such is the affection she exudes for last night’s Woodlands Victoria Derby winning colt. “I always say to win with babies, two- and three-year-olds, it’s a big thrill because you feel like you’ve really worked hard with them the whole way along through their careers and it really pays off when you win a big one,” Tritton said this morning after guiding the three-year-old son of Roll With Joe to an all-the-way Derby win in an age-record equalling 1:54.0 at Tabcorp Park Melton. “He does it all so easily. Nothing fazes him. It’s great to have a horse who is so versatile, as a two-year-old he won a couple of races from behind … and just how arrogant his win was last night, we’ve got a superstar ahead of us.” Tritton, 25, boasts 827 wins since jumping in the sulky in season 2010-11 and among those are several memorable features – the Len Smith Mile aboard Gaius Caesar in 2013, Breeders Crown Final with Marty Monkhouser and Cordina Sprint with Suave Stuey Lombo in 2014, Vicbred Super Series Final on Tingira Beach in 2016, Allied Express Sprint with Anything For Love and the Bohemia Crystal FFA with Franco Nelson in 2018 to name a few. But last night’s Derby success was something else. “It was all a bit of a blur really (after the race). You get so wound up it’s actually quite tiring, but it was really special,” she said. Tritton co-trains Muscle Factory with husband Shane and, reflecting on the rising star’s second-place finish in the Derby heat at Ballarat a week ago, she says a combination of factors brought about his undoing that night. “I overreacted a little bit … I wanted to get an easy half and then sprint home, which is totally upside-down to his racing pattern,” she said. “That was a little bit my fault, and a little bit our fault too in that we eased up on him after running the 49 mile. It’s sort of like ‘what do you do with a three-year-old who’s just gone 49?’ The first thing you think of is backing off. “But with him, it’s just a different case. He really enjoys working and working hard. And like I said, I drove him upside-down (in the heat) and let the other horses get into the race. It wasn’t his night, but we had him 110 per cent last night and that was his night.” After finding the lead early last night Tritton said she had to “pinch herself” in the run. “I never really thought this would be the plan to be honest… I was thinking we’d have to sit outside them or get cover somewhere.” But Muscle Factory showed more toe than he’s done in his young career to date, which obviously pleased his driver. “He’s never really shown that much gate speed but last night he was right up on the gate and had his neck tucked up like he really wanted to run the gate. I just let him roll out himself and then when I realised I’d gotten half a length on Im Anothermasterpiece I gave him a little tap and he just took it on from there. There was no stopping him after that. “I just let him do whatever he wanted to do and he wanted to run those even quarters. He got a little bit off the bit at about the 800m so I just shook him up and he kicked into another gear. “I knew I had something left then, and I hadn’t pulled the plugs. He’s all heart and I knew he’d finish off.” Muscle Factory completed his last half-mile in 56.7secs after a 57.7secs first half. Race favourite Im Anothermasterpiece chased gamely late but finished 4.7m astern. Tritton says Muscle Factory has eaten extra feed today as he embarks on his journey back home to Sydney where the New South Wales Derby (March 2) is his next major goal. “He’s pulled up super. We gave him extra feed because we’re travelling home and he ate everything … he couldn’t have pulled up any better,” she said. “He’ll keep heading towards Derbies. The owners are considering a New Zealand Derby trip, but that’s not 100 per cent confirmed yet. He’ll certainly try and win his own Derby trophy back home.” As has been well documented, Muscle Factory’s 1:49.6 win in the Simpson Memorial three starts back was absurdly fast and asked about the feel the prodigy gave her in full flight, Tritton explained: “I’ve got fast class horses who struggle to run a mile in 49 and would struggle to run the sectionals he did last night. He’s only three and can do all that. We’re super excited about his career and where he can head.” Muscle Factory is $5 with TAB.com.au for the NSW Derby. To watch the video replay of this race click on this link. Trots Media - Cody Winnell   Adam Hamilton@AdamTABSports     Three weeks ago today ... Shane Tritton: “If anyone has a 3yo good enough to beat Muscle Factory in the Victoria Derby then I’ll be stunned and good luck to them.” Nobody did. Career defining win away from home for @Tritton_Team   38 12:25 PM - Jan 27, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy   See Adam Hamilton's other Tweets       View image on Twitter Jared Kahlefeldt@workoutjared     So this just happened.... Wowee

It promised so much….and it delivered. But in so many ways. The Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton was being tipped as the best trotting event this season with an all-star harness racing cast assembled. Firstly, race favourite Tornado Valley was scratched on race day morning owing to lameness issues which forced a major reshape of the market while a false start delayed things a little further. The excitement kept building with tactics reconsidered. When the starter said go in the 2760m mobile event, the New Zealand invaders came out running with Marcoola, Amaretto Sun and Speeding Spur all showing very good speed while Sky Petite raced handy. It was Speeding Spur who would lead the event. The lead time was covered in 83.6 seconds. With Speeding Spur leading Amaretto Sun, race favourite Marcoola landed the perfect one out/one back trail while Sky Petite, Tough Monarch and Save Our Pennys all occupied positions on the inside. The pressure was on as driver Josh Dickie allowed Speeding Spur to run along in the lead, the first half of the final mile was covered in 30.2 and 30.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Amaretto Sun dropped back sharply which forced Marcoola to take off three wide while Red Hot Tooth, Kyvalley Blur, Big Jack Hammer and Pizza Queen had to check. Temporale angled three wide from near last and was immediately tracked up by Dance Craze. The third quarter was posted in 29.2 seconds. Approaching the home turn, Speeding Spur was trying to fend them off with Marcoola under extreme pressure while Temporale and Dance Craze both unleashed big sprints deep off the track. In the straight, Temporale and Dance Craze went together while Sky Petite darted along the sprint lane. Dance Craze ($17.70) would prevail defeating Temporale ($21.40) while Sky Petite ($12.40) was a close-up third. Race favourite Marcoola ($1.70) finished 11th. The final split was covered in 30.1 seconds. The mile rate was 1:58.8 – the track record belongs to Sparkling Success at 1:58.7. “This is a dream come true,” said trainer Anton Golino as he celebrated his biggest victory in the sport before giving praise to owner Pat Driscoll. “Nobody deserves this more than Pat, a wonderful man who loves the trotters more than most.” It was a rare ‘outside’ drive for champion horseman Mark Purdon but yet again, his classy skills were clearly evident. Possessing an outstanding pedigree, Dance Craze only solidified her lineage with this Gr.1 victory. Dance Craze is a daughter of champion stallion Muscle Hill from the multiple Gr.1 winning mare La Coocaracha. Boasting 15 wins from 25 starts, her earnings now exceed $280,000. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $100,000 Seelite Window & Doors Grand Prix at Melton on March 9. Dance Craze joins Marcoola (Dominion) and Tornado Valley (Inter Dominion) as a winner on the Trotting Masters series this season. To watch the replay of this race click on this link. Chris Barsby

Victoria's most prolific trainer of trotters, Anton Golino, has won Australia’s richest trotting classic, the $250,000 Woodlands Great Southern Star, with a mare that pedigree buffs would say was always destined for harness racing greatness. Blueblood Dance Craze, a daughter of champion trotter and brilliant producer Muscle Hill out of another superstar performer in La Coocaracha, was a minute back in the run but sprinted furiously up the Tabcorp Park Melton straight at the end of the 2760m journey to capture the Group 1. The five-year-old raced clear of Kiwi star Temporale for a 1.4-metre win in a 1:58.8 mile rate, with Michael Stanley-trained Sky Petite backing up her TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final placing with another Classic podium finish tonight. Winning driver Mark Purdon was ecstatic to be involved with Golino’s greatest win thus far. “He does a great job and I’m thrilled to be involved with this win,” Purdon said. Golino was over the moon. “This is a dream come true,” he said before honouring his biggest backer Pat Driscoll and his passionate and hard-working team of staff. “He’s an amazing person and he deserves this more than anyone,” Golino said of Driscoll. The win gave Purdon a double Group 1 half-hour of power after he guided Dean Braun-trained mare Carlas Pixel to a barnstorming victory in the Schweppes Ladyship Cup. Of the rest, odds-on race favourite Marcoola only beat one runner home, finishing second last for Ken and Clint Ford, while Red Hot Tooth and Tough Monarch both performed strongly finishing fourth and fifth respectively. To watch the video click here. ID18 champ Tornado Valley was scratched from the GSS this morning when a long odds-on favourite. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

As tough as he was brilliant, Muscle Factory led all the way to comprehensively win the harness racing Woodlands Victoria Derby in emphatic fashion, matching the age track record at Tabcorp Park Melton. It was a triumph for husband-and-wife team trainer Shane and reinswoman Lauren Tritton as Muscle Factory reinforced his all-time standing, saluting in the age classic only three weeks after smashing the Australasian three-year-old record when winning in 1:49.6. “I just know this horse is a superstar and that’s how we drove,” said Lauren after they saluted by 4.7m from All Stars entrant Im Anothermasterpiece, with Lochinvar Art the best of the swoopers to claim third. But the Group 1 $200,000 was always in Muscle Factory’s keeping, with Tritton lighting him up out of the gates to lead from barrier six, with Max Delight and then Im Anothermasterpiece sitting outside him before Hurricane Harley advanced to the breeze for the final lap. However, Muscle Factory’s determination to keep the pace on throughout the 2240m meant all would have to advance under strain, with a 44.3 lead time preceding first (29), second (28.7) and third (28.3) quarters that were all sub-29 seconds. “He got a bit keen tonight. We just decided to let him do whatever he wanted to do,” Tritton said. “I had a good hold of him, but those were the sectionals he wanted to run.” They were also the sectionals the Trittons wanted to deliver to give themselves the best chance, confident their Roll With Joe-Malena colt would thrive. “Im Anothermasterpiece, we’ve raced against him a couple of times now and he’s a star too, he doesn’t stop trying. I knew that was the only way that I could beat him tonight. I knew if I was going to beat it I had to break it,” Tritton said. The 28.4 last quarter iced the win in a 1:54 mile rate, matching the track’s age record set by Our Waikiki Beach in the 2016 Breeders Crown and providing a significant highlight for owners Rona and Clive McKay and Dayna Kahlefeldt. “He’s a star and I hope they can just keep winning big races for (the owners),” Tritton said. To watch the video click here. Trots Media - Michael Howard

A “good grounding” has Deltasun poised to develop into one of Victoria’s premier open-age harness racing trotting stars. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang said the five-year-old son of Tennotrump had “been in the top echelon as a two-year-old and in the top three or four as a three-year-old”. Lang added: “as a four-year-old he went missing a little bit but still did a good job. He’s had a good foundation.” Trained by gun horseman Terry Young of Ararat – a former jockey – Deltasun is now a 16-time winner and tonight’s 1:55.8 win took his stake earnings over $200,000. It’s a considerable achievement that will be celebrated by connections and Lang spoke glowingly of the fact tonight’s quinella at Tabcorp Park Melton was fought out between grassroots stables. “Up the straight I was fighting the race out with Savannah Jay Jay and the people who train him (Stan Cameron) are small-time trainers, as are Terry and Carol Young and their son Peter,” he said. “When I hit the line I thought I’d just hung on. Sometimes you get disappointed if you get beat, but I would not have been too disappointed tonight if they’d won. That’s what it’s all about – the small people make this industry what it is. “Terry and his family own him, so there’s never any pressure on how I drive him. I’ve been lucky enough to just look after him a little bit and it’s paying dividends.” To watch the video click here. Savannah Jay Jay has been a model of consistency of late without winning, only once finishing out of the top five in his past 11 starts. Tonight he was beaten a half-head for driver Neil McCallum, while Fabrication finished third for John Caldow and David Abrahamson. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Poster Boy may have delivered harness racing trots promoters just that. The gun four-year-old upstaged more seasoned opposition in Spankem and Im Pats Delight – both ID18 contenders last month – in tonight’s Group 1 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza at Tabcorp Park Melton. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Aston Villa took his exemplary record to 16 wins from 23 starts courtesy of the 1:52.8 victory, finishing a metre clear of All Stars star Spankem, with Kerryn Manning trained and driven former Kiwi Duke Of Wellington emerging strongly late to run third, ahead of Im Pats Delight. “That was super. We had a good run but Pats Delight and Spankem are pretty seasoned,” winning reinsman Chris Alford said of the Emma Stewart-prepared pacer. “They raced in the Inter… he’s first-up tonight, to do that was pretty special.” Stewart was stoked. “He’s a terrific horse,” the leading trainer said. “He’s my favourite and always has been. Great effort by him tonight … I’m really proud of him.” Tonight’s triumph assures Poster Boy a spot in the upcoming New South Wales four-year-old classic, the Chariots of Fire. An interesting stat, Poster Boy – a son of Somebeachsomewhere – is a half-brother to Stewart’s earlier winner, Born To Rocknroll, a son of Rocknroll Hanover. Both are raced and were bred by Lauriston Bloodstock. To watch the video click here. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Pre-race favourite Tornado Valley has been withdrawn from tonight's Woodlands Great Southern Star after a vets examination revealed sorness on the morning of the $250,000 feature. Trainer Andy Gath reported his brilliant gelding, who has won 18 of 22 since crossing to their stable including December's TAB Inter Dominion, had swelling in his near hind-leg to Stewards on Friday. Tornado Valley then underwent a veterinary examination by the stable veterinarian Friday evening, where, in the presence of a HRV Steward, blood samples were taken from the gelding to detect whether infection may be a factor. This morning stewards reported the gelding had been found to be lame and sore upon examination and was subsequently scratched from tonight's feature. Read more here!   Trots Media

ANDY Gath openly admits this is by far Tornado Valley’s biggest test. There’s no question the line-up Tornado Valley faces in Saturday night’s $250,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star is significantly strongly than the rivals he beat to snare the Inter Dominion crown last month at Melton. And that’s largely because of the presence of NZ’s best trotters, Marcoola. “Marcoola may simply be a better horse than Tornado Valley, at the very least I’d have to say he’s on par on what I’ve seen him do in NZ,” a frank Gath admitted. “He’s a seriously good trotter and when you throw in Temporale along with Speeding Spur, Tough Monarch and others, this is certainly the biggest test Tornado Valley’s had. “But we’re looking forward to it, especially now he’s drawn well. “I think he’ll lead, but we’re expecting pressure and I think he’s up to it. “We think he’s clearly better than Glenferrie Typhoon, who copped pressure all the way and still won a Great Southern Star. Tornado Valley is stronger and a much better racehorse.” But Gath admits to being surprised at how short Tornado Valley is in Aussie TAB markets at $1.50. “It’s hard to see why he should be shorter than the Inter Dominion when he’s only won his past two starts by a metre and this is such a stronger field,” he said. “If the best Marcoola turns up, I’m sure the fans are in for a fantastic contest and there’s certainly enough other really good horses in the race to come and beat us both if the race is run to suit them.” Gath sharpened-up Tornado Valley with a Melton trial on Tuesday. “We skipped the race at Ballarat last week and decided to go to the trial instead. He hit the line well and it’s right where we want him,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

The barriers draws have been staged for Saturday night's harness racing four BIG Group 1s at Tabcorp Park Melton, night two of the TAB Summer Of Glory, headlined by the Woodlands Stud NZ Great Southern Star and Victoria Derby. Get yourself trackside at Tabcorp Park for one of the great trots nights. Details: www.summerofglory.com.au Woodlands Great Southern Star Woodlands Stud Victoria Derby Ladyship Cup 4YO Bonanza Trots Media

The barrier draws for this Saturday night’s four Group 1 feature races at Tabcorp Park Melton will be live streamed at Harness Racing Victoria’s Facebook page tomorrow from 10am. Join GoodForm’s Jason Bonnington as the draws are conducted for the $250,000 Woodlands Great Southern Star, $200,000 Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby Final, $100,000 Ladyship Cup and $100,000 4YO Bonanza. The program for Night 2 of the TAB Summer of Glory is shaping as a classic as in addition to the four Group 1 races the support card includes the Group 2 Casey Classic ($50,000), Group 2 Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship Final ($30,000) and Group 3Vulcan Trotters Free for All ($24,000). General admission to Tabcorp Park Melton is free for the TAB Summer of Glory. Exclusive dining packages for Woodlands Great Southern Star night can be booked here. Trots Media

Big dreams are bubbling in Andy Gath’s harness racing stable as Tornado Valley’s Victorian domination lays the groundwork for a European tilt. The seven-year-old Skyvalley gelding continued his winning ways with victory at Tabcorp Park Melton in Saturday night’s Aldebaran Park 2019 Maori Mile, stopping the clock in a 1:54.1 mile rate, just 0.2 of a second outside the record set by Sparkling Success last year. Comparisons are noteworthy given Sparkling Success was set for a Yonkers campaign before injury cruelled John Meade’s trotter only days before he was about to head to New York, and now the international spotlight has fixed firmly on Tornado Valley. The former Kiwi trotter has been linked with the May 26 Elitloppet in Sweden, contested last year by fellow Victorian Maori Time, and interest is building as briskly as the Group 1 wins are being notched. Andy Gath told trots interviewer Paul Campbell he and Tornado Valley’s owner Norm Jenkin met with Harness Racing Australia chair Michael Taranto in the wake of Tornado Valley’s TAB Inter Dominion win. “Probably before then we didn’t have a lot of interest, but since we sat down, spoke to Michael we are pretty keen,” Gath said. “The timing of it’s perfect for him, because he’s not missing out on anything on this side of the world. We will get a few more big races and then sit down and work out which way we are going to go with him. “If he comes through it good, we’d love to go. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a great opportunity.” Principle among those “big races” is the January 26 Whatthehill Great Southern Star, the $250,000 trot that’s part of night one of the TAB Summer Of Glory. It will be an opportunity for Tornado Valley to add to his four Group 1 wins since joining Gath’s stable in February, success that has continued with his present eight-race winning streak. “He’s 18 out of 22 since we got him in Australia and a couple of times he got beat we had a few excuses for,” Gath said. “To keep getting the job done against quality opposition, it’s a great thrill to have a horse like him.” Those qualities were on display Saturday night when he found the front with ease and controlled proceedings, winning by 1.3m from Gavin Lang’s Save Our Pennys. “Obviously his gate speed’s such a great weapon and he used it again tonight. Such a beautifully gaited horse, he’s a pleasure to train, keeps winning these Group 1s and it’s lucky for us to have him.” Tornado Valley’s potential European bid is music to the ears of Aldebaran Park principal Duncan McPherson, whose stud sponsored Bendigo’s showcase trot. “A horse such as Tornado Valley can put Southern Hemispherical racing on the map around the world and follow in the footsteps of Maori Time and the opportunities offered to Sparkling Success,” Mr McPherson said. “To think that in the space of 12 months potentially there are three international invitations to our trotters. They are starting to take our product down here as a serious threat on a global scale and I think it’s just absolutely wonderful. “I’d love to see Tornado Valley take them on overseas, he’s got blinding gate speed and we saw that again tonight. That’s a weapon we should be able to use. The rest of the world was watching tonight and they were watching after the Inter Dominion. There are invitations there.” Trots Media - Michael Howard

Star-studded fields will grace Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow for Tuesday's harness racing trials which set to be a great taster for the TAB Summer Of Glory. Kicking off after the 11.45am elimination heats, the 14 trials include a host of Group 1 winners with trial six among those sure to draw attention. TAB Inter Dominion finalists Cruz Bromac, Im Pats Delight and Spankem will both contest the 2040-metre hit-out, with the star New Zealand runners drawn against Emma Stewart's talented pair Poster Boy and Tell Me Tales. CLICK HERE FOR THE TRIAL FIELDS That pearler of a hit-out takes the limelight amid a host of talented young types, many of whom are the 15 entrants from Stewart's stable. That lot includes three-year-olds Centenario, Hurricane Harley, Hardhitter, Fourbigmen and Kualoa, likely on a path to the Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby. And there are also four-year-olds Maraetai, Ride High and Konan among the fields of quality and quantity. Be sure to tune in to the live stream via www.thetrots.com.au tomorrow. CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE STREAM SITE Trots Media

A decision by French wagering organisation Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) to significantly limit international simulcasting of Australian and US racing into France means participants racing at Tabcorp Park Melton on Monday nights in January and February will finish earlier than expected. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has rescheduled its Monday night race programs to better suit participants and local punters on January 7, 14, 21, 28, and February 4 and 11. It was reported earlier this month that the PMU would significantly reduce its international simulcasting in 2019 after six years of decline in overall horse racing betting turnover in France.   Cody Winnell

Nowra Hill siblings Mason and Jayla Beresford alongside Shoalhaven Heads’ Jemma Howard-Coney have returned home with outstanding results from the 2018 harness racing Mini Trots Inter Dominion at Tabcorp Park Melton, Victoria on Saturday night. All three qualified to represent the NSW Mini Trotting Association (NSWMTA) team, and proved they were up to the task. Jemma Howard-Coney, 16, took out the Shetland division final with Secret Mission, on what is considered the night of nights in Australasian harness racing. “It felt amazing, it was such a big thrill to win a big event on a big night like that, it feels like I’ve ticked it off my bucket list,” Jemma said. “I literally had tears in my eyes going over the line.” The trip south didn’t go exactly to plan, with an unexpected detour required. “On the way down we got stuck in flood water and so we had to go back for two hours, back through a small town,” Jemma said. “We came out only 25 kilometres from where the floods were, but we got there in the end.”  TRACK STAR: Mason Beresford and Pay The Aces won the miniature division of the Mini Trots Inter Dominion on Saturday night.   Mason, 15, now has the fastest miniature pony – Pay The Aces – in Australia, after winning the miniature division final. He exceeded all expectations going into the competition. “I would just like to thank my mum and dad for supporting me and my sister with the sports we both love, and our sponsors Hyland Sportswear and Nathan Xuereb farrier service,” Mason said.  OVER THE MOON: Jayla and her Shetland Nidya finished in second place in the final of the Shetland division on Saturday night.   Jayla, 12, was delighted with her gorgeous Shetland Nidya, coming away with a second place in the Shetland division final. She now has the second fastest Shetland in Australia. Mason and Jayla both enjoy the sport of Mini Trots and are hoping to get into harness racing with the large horses when they are old enough. Harness racing was once a flourishing sport on the South Coast and the Nowra Paceway was once popular on the country circuit. Berry was home to one of the most highly regarded trainers and drivers in Kevin Robinson. Since the Nowra track was closed by the NSW Harness Racing Association in the late nineties, the number of horses and trainers has slowly dwindled, with the track now serving as a training complex and for holding qualifying trials for the dedicated group who still train in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra. However, with the formation of the Shoalhaven Mini Trotters Association, has come a new breed of participants, who are passionate about the sport. Jemma, Mason and Jayla are three young drivers/trainers part of a larger contingent in the region who are a credit to the wonderful sport of harness racing. By Hayley Warden Reprinted with permission of The South Coast Register

Given things were once literally heading in the wrong direction the rise and rise of Ray Harvey’s trotter has the Stawell hobby trainer a buzz ahead of his first Group 1. The $50,000 Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic three-year-old trotting boys final is a high point for the former gallops jockey and now Wimmera Racing track supervisor, with the Tabcorp Park Melton feature by far the biggest stakes race of his 14-season career. And in The Penny Drops, who in 2018-19 has already given the co-owner/trainer/breeder his greatest single-season stakes winnings, Harvey has a well-behaved Danny Bouchea gelding who’s finally putting his best foot forward. That’s no mean feat given the three-year-old “wouldn’t go forward, would only go backwards” in his early days for Harvey, who co-owns him with his partner Moira Hateley and friend Jim Pickering. “I haven’t struck one like it before and I’ve broken in hundreds,” Harvey said. “Moira happened to walk past him and he followed her, so she walked a lap with him behind her. Then we got old Baltimore Boy, who had been retired, to stand next to him. He would walk and Ronny (The Penny Drops’ stable name) walked along beside him. “We just kept moving Baltimore Boy further to the back of the cart and as long as Ronny could hear him he would keep trotting. It is just one of those things that happened. His nature is that way that he wants to be mates with everything. “Then we left Baltimore Boy at home and Ronny was as good as gold, the penny dropped and he was fine.” The moment that gave the trotter his name wasn’t the end of the hard work for Harvey, who said at one stage “I was about to give up because he wouldn’t go fast, but since then he has just kept improving and improving”. He debuted in the final race of the 2018 season and, though “starstruck” and initially galloping, he hasn’t missed a step in three starts since, which have each produced victories. “His form has been impeccable,” said the trainer, who's delighted to have produced three wins from as many starts after his first 166 outings produced seven. “I was originally just a thoroughbred man and was a jockey for a good while and then I started working at Stawell racecourse and couldn’t train thoroughbreds because of the hours I worked. “So I got a pacer, and you can train them yourself at home any hours you like. Once you’ve had a horse you always have to have a horse around you.” And now he has a Group 1 hope, albeit awkwardly drawn in gate eight with Emma Stewart’s Alpha Male looming large on the outside of the back row. “Saturday night will be his biggest test,” Harvey said. “All The Muscles will probably get across and lead and there is a big chance we might end up three or four back on the pegs. “I’d be hoping in the first 100m Neil can get off the pegs. If he gets a sit I think he has the speed, but how far can you give them? If he gets a little bit of luck they will know he is there. It’s pretty good to be there, it would be even better to win it.”   Michael Howard

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