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On 22 June 2017, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards conducted an inquiry into the activities of unlicensed person Nea Fresenius at the Tabcorp Park Melton race meeting on 17 June 2017. After considering all available evidence, licensed trainer Vince Vallelonga pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 90A(2.9)(a) which states:         The holder of a trainer’s license shall ensure that all persons carrying out the activities         of a stable hand are licensed as stable hands. The particulars of the charge being that as a licensed trainer Mr Vallelonga failed to ensure that Nea Fresenius was appropriately licensed when carrying out stablehand activities at Tabcorp Park Melton on 17 June 2017. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account Mr Vallelonga’s guilty plea, that the offence was an isolated episode due to his recent injury and previous penalties for offences under this rule. Stewards accordingly imposed a fine of $200.    After considering all available evidence, Nea Fresenius pleaded guilty to a charge under AHRR 91(1)(a) which states:         A person shall not carry on an activity regulated by licence -                 (a) if that person is not the holder of a current licence; The particulars of the charge being that on 17 June 2017 Ms Fresenius did carry on an activity regulated by licence, namely as a stablehand for trainer Vince Vallelonga, when not the holder of an appropriate licence. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account Ms Fresenius’ guilty plea and previous penalties for offences under this rule. Ms Fresenius was fined $200. Harness Racing Victoria

Due to a major electrical fire at Cranbourne, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today advised Sunday’s trots meeting has been transferred to Tabcorp Park Melton. “Unfortunately the magnitude of the electrical fire at the club means we are not able to run Sunday’s meeting, so we appreciate the co-operation of Tabcorp Park Melton who have agreed to host the meeting in the interests of the industry,” Cranbourne Club CEO Neil Bainbridge said. Click here to view the alterations to race distances due to the transfer Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Exciting harness racing filly Nostra Villa has joined Australian Pacing Gold’s ever-growing list of feature winners. Trained by Emma Stewart, Nostra Villa captured last night’s Youthful Stake at Tabcorp Park Melton at just her second start. Thrilled with the two-year-old’s progress, Stewart has set her sights on the Vicbred Super Series, which begins with heats at Bendigo on June 20. Should all go according to plan, the daughter of Art Major will progress to the $120,000 Final at Melton on July 8. “That’s two wins from two starts, so you can’t ask for more than that,” Stewart said. “She is a very nice filly, which can a string a few more wins together as she goes along. “She will keep ticking along now as she works towards the Sires’ in a couple of weeks.” Driven by premier reinsman Chris Alford during her latest victory, Nostra Villa led throughout from barrier two to score from the Nicole Molander-trained pair Saphirique and Passion Delight in 1:55.1 over 1720 metres. With Nostra Beach fourth, the first four fillies across the line were all APG graduates. A half-sister to Group One winner Mister Jadore, Nostra Villa was purchased at last year’s Melbourne leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Sales. APG Media

There is nothing shaky about star two-year-old Wobelee, who looks every bit the stable star at Alison Alford’s camp. Driven by husband Chris, the fledgling son of Down Under Muscles-Tupenny Bit made it back-to-back feature successes at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, careering away with the Group 2 Alabar Tatlow Stakes. At the completion of the 2240m trip Wobelee had 16.3 metres to spare over runner-up Smashthemcalder. It was a majestic combination of power and professionalism from the young mover. “He was really good tonight,” his driver stated post-race. But for the second time in succession Alford pointed out Wobelee had been “a bit stirred up before the race”. However, behavioural issues have not been a feature of the two-year-old’s races to date, his manners impeccable while some of his adversaries have struggled to find their feet. Barrier one didn’t hurt Wobelee’s hopes tonight, either, Alford able to hold the front and control the tempo, eventually posting a mile rate of 2:01.3. Owner-breeder Colin Murphy said Wobelee’s manners held him in good stead. “They’ve just got to trot,” he said. “They’re two-year-olds and a lot of them are not ready. This horse has a particular gate that makes him not gallop as much. One thing with the trotters, they’ve got to have a good gate,” he surmised. Meanwhile, although most punters were struggling in the moments after Race 5, the Allied Express Pace, trainer-driver John Justice was beaming. His Gotta Go Cullect-Jill Forsa six-year-old Gotta Go Henry had just wired its rivals in the 1720m M1 contest at rank outsider odds of $67.10. Justice issued a salute at the line. “He’s been a marvellous horse,” he said before adding: “It shows you there is a god because I’ve been down on my luck a bit. I was sad when I saw the barrier draw at the start of the week, but he showed a lot of speed and a lot of heart today, so I’m really happy with him.” History shows if Gotta Go Henry is able to head off his rivals early then there might as well be a continuous white line painted up the stretch, because he’s a hard horse to overtake. Tonight he dashed around in 1:54.8 for the 1720m sprint trip, with Hoo Nien chasing gamely in second and Perspective, who most thought would lead from the pole, battling into third after travelling leader's back. Speaking of horses bouncing back to form, eight-year-old It Is I-Glenlyon Glad gelding It Is Billy refound winning touch in the Pace.  The Mick Barby-trained, Anne Maree Conroy-driven fan-favourite went 1:56.9 for the 2240m trip to overpower Bad Billy by a head, with Cold Major half a neck away in third place. The win broke the longest run of outs for It Is Billy in his long and illustrious career, which has seen him capture a Geelong Cup and multiple metro free-for-all races. “Every time you come back from a spell they’re a bit older and it takes them a bit longer to get them up against the hard ones,” Conroy said. “It has taken two or three runs to find his fitness and to show he’s got it again tonight.” Other winners at Melton were Stagger Lee (Major In Art-Lets Go Cullen) in the 2240m DNR Logistics Pace for Maree and John Caldow in 1:57.0, Whirily School (Courage Under Fire-Mayhappen) in the 1720m Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace Final for Emma Stewart and Greg Sugars in 1:55.0, Our Dreamlover (Love You-Dreamlands Nancy) for Matt Craven and Chris Svanosio in the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap over 2240m in 2:02.4, Anton Golino-trained Glenferrie Burn (Muscle Hill-Adellas Dash) in the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Trot for four and five-year-old mares, Josh Aiken driving the mare to victory in 2:00.1, and Vinland (American Ideal-Sagrantino) for Emma Stewart and Mark Pitt in the Own the Moment Pace Final over 2240m in 1:57.6. The night’s feature race, the Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks, went to Une Belle Allure for Golino and Zac Phillips. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

It looked a great harness racing card Tuesday morning and a little trickier come the draws, but young gun reinsman Zac Phillips could well churn out another super Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton. The leader of the Victorian concession drivers’ premiership seems well positioned to continue his trotting success with drives behind Anton Golino’s talented juveniles Une Belle Allure and Amour De Frere before reuniting with Group 1 gun Red Hot Tooth. Fresh from winning the New South Wales equivalent, Une Belle Allure will tackle Saturday night’s Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks, but her presumed favouritism was zapped by a gate 13 draw, with pole marker and stablemate Kinvara Sue instead gaining punters’ favour. “It’s definitely going to be hard, in those Group 1 races you always need a bit of luck in running and good draws to go your way and by the look of it she hasn’t got either,” Phillips told RSN927’s Gait Speed program. “I definitely think she’s the best filly in the field, hopefully that’s good enough to get her over the line. She showed her best in the New South Wales trotters’ oaks a couple of weeks ago, if she can repeat that performance she should be a top chance.” The scenario’s only slightly better for Amour De Frere in the Alabar Tatlow Stakes, a $30,000 Group 2 for two-year-old trotters. Golino’s Love You filly has drawn gate seven but must be considered a chance after an outstanding two runs to date, winning on debut before a cracking second after breaking amid the standing start. “I think she is going to be a top class filly going forward,” Phillips said. “Her manners let her down last start but she is still learning, she’s very green, another one who hasn’t drawn to kindly but if she gets a little bit of luck in running she definitely won’t be far away.” The same draw, gate seven, has befallen Red Hot Tooth in the Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot, a crack at a fifth Group level win for Kari Males' prized trotter. While passing up the drive on Golino’s Glenferrie Burn wasn’t an easy one for Phillips, sticking with Red Hot Tooth was. “Those decisions are never easy, you don’t like getting off a horse and disappointing anyone,” Phillips said. “I am certainly committed to Red Hot Tooth and wouldn’t think about getting off her. “I’ve driven Red Hot Tooth for a few years now and drove her all through her three-year-old year, she looks to be a grand circuit horse going forward. “It doesn’t look an easy field and another one who hasn’t drawn too kindly, but she is a fast mare and can make her own luck if need be.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 June 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 June 2017

An ultra-impressive My Field Marshall mowed down some of Victoria’s best harness racing front runners to land another blow for those from the south-east of the Tasman. Just when the locals thought it was safe to return to the Tabcorp Park Melton straight after The Orange Agent's earth-scorching three weeks concluded, Kiwi trainer Tim Butt’s My Field Marshall nosed out Maximan and Major Crocker to claim tonight’s Golden Reign Free For All. “He’s a beautiful horse, very adaptable, so he’s lovely to drive, hopefully he’s got a big couple of years ahead,” driver Anthony Butt said after My Field Marshall won for a second time in as many weeks, coming on the back of his TAB 4YO & 5YO Championship win. Butt showed intent from the outset tonight, working forward from gate six and advancing to the breeze to sit outside leader Stormfortheboys amid a 43.4-second lead time. Cover came when Guaranteed and then Major Crocker claimed the chair, with the frontrunners finding little time to reclaim their breath amid a sequence of sub-30 quarters. Come the final turn Kate Gath guided Maximan from the box seat and set foot after Major Crocker who had grabbed a length, with My Field Marshall taking the last crack at them. Butt timed it a treat, with My Field Marshall nosing ahead of Maximan on the line, while Major Crocker and fast finishing Milly Perez were just 1.4m back in third and fourth. “It was a really good run tonight, probably a step up on the field from last week but he felt really good and he was sharp,” Butt said. “He came out (of the gates) good tonight. He’s not blazing, but he can get out pretty good when you want him to. “When I came out on the corner he really sprinted, so he’s really going great. Last week he sort of outstayed them but (tonight) he really showed his speed.” It’s timely form, with My Field Marshall’s campaign geared towards the June 25 $106,000 Group 1 at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He’s going to go to the Len Smith Mile, it’s just a matter of whether he stays here for a race in two weeks or the Golden Mile at Menangle in two weeks,” Butt said. “That will be up to Tim, but the way he’s going he’s fitted in really good down here, he seems to like the track so I will be pushing for him to stay here for the two weeks and then go to the Len Smith Mile later. Tim will decide that.” My Field Marshall The Fuel Fast Pace, an M1 to M2, also went the way of a visitor, with South Australian trainer Greg Norman taking the honours when his six-year-old grey Adam Cartwright produced a withering burst. Driver Greg Sugars said the trainer deserved all credit. “Anyone who knows anything about South Australian harness racing knows the history of the Norman family, one thing they are for sure is great horseman and Greg is no exception,” Sugars said. “He does a very good job. “(Adam Cartwright) just needed an ounce of luck. It was a reasonable lead time and then the breaks came my way when it was time to get off and the horse did the rest.” The night also featured the Own The Moment Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace heats, with Jason Lee grabbing a break at the turn to guide Keayang Ebonyrose to victory ahead of favourite Rocknroll Magic in the second heat and trainer-driver Rodney Petroff winning the first heat with Brocks Territory. They will return for the $30,000 final on June 3. Of the trotters, Conon Bridge won a competitive $14,000 Aldebaran Park Monte Championship by a length from Vics Cheval and debutant K D Muscles, and Fabrication was impressive again in winning the Haras Des Trotteurs Trot, to the delight of driver David Murphy. “As a two, three, four-year-old he was probably a rung below the better ones but I always felt like he would get up to them and he’s making the transition into open age racing really well,” Murphy said. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Exciting former Kiwi Van Mara (Lis Mara-Van Seraa) can overcome his extreme draw at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night, says harness racing trainer Andy Gath. Speaking with Nadia Horne on RSN Friday morning, Gath spoke glowingly of his four-year-old, who is two-for-two since joining the Kate and Andy team. “He had really good form in New Zealand. It tapered off a little bit before he came over to us but he’s a horse we have a pretty big opinion of,” Gath said. Van Mara, to be driven by Andy's wife, Kate, starts from outside the second row in the DNR Logistics Pace Final (Race 2) at 5.55pm. “He can do it tough if he has to,” Gath said. “And he’s got good speed, even if he’s back in the field. He’s a horse that we think is going to develop into a pretty nice horse. He’ll be fighting out the finish.” Gath has always had an eye on Van Mara and always expressed interest in purchasing the gelding. “Finally he came down to a price I was comfortable at and I was fortunate enough to be able to get him in the stable,” the Long Forest horseman said. GET THE INSIDE WORD FROM ANDY GATH Meanwhile, has a projected Quaddie pool of $125,000 ($20,000) jackpot tomorrow night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Sign up to receive your GoodForm Game Plan delivered hot off the press daily from our dedicated team of form analysts.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Former gallops jockeys Darren Gauci and Matt Pumpa are eager to face off in a double-seater sulky race at Tabcorp Park Melton after making their trots-track debut at Bendigo’s Harness Racing Training Centre on Tuesday. Gauci and Pumpa, who mentor apprentice jockeys full-time as part of Racing Victoria's Apprentice Jockey Training Program, were on hand to learn more about the other code’s development of trainers and drivers. Gauci said the experience was a thrill. “I really enjoyed it. It was the first time we’ve done that and it was great. We were amazed, it was a real insight to see just how much speed they have out there,” the four-time Melbourne premiership winning jockey – and three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up – said. “Hopefully we get the opportunity on a race night to actually have a race against each other in a double-seater sulky. I think that would be a lot of fun.” The trots Training Centre in Bendigo delivers training and assessment to about 200 students (from trots, gallops and greyhounds). The centre’s stables, located behind the Bendigo trotting track, have been run by Roma Pocock for a long time and recently she has been joined by leading horseman Glenn Douglas, who assists in a part-time capacity mentoring the students. The Training Centre is approaching the end of the first semester and there are vacancies in the stable for semester two. If you know someone who is interested in becoming a stablehand, trainer or driver please contact the school on (03) 5449 3590 or 0447 032 770. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Saturday night’s monte at Tabcorp Park Melton will be a star-studded affair after harness racing trainers Andy Gath and Ross Sugars elected to stick saddles on two of their leading trotters. Gath will run Group 1 placegetter K D Muscles in the $14,000 Aldebaran Park Monte Championship, the first time the trainer of almost 9600 starters has entered the saddled racing. The 87th monte run in Victoria will also mark Sugars’ first participation in the class since Illawong Magic contested four montes between May and July in 2014. “There is always a bit of apprehension, but I expect both to benefit from their first go in the monte,” Sugars said. “It’s something completely different in their training. It’s like taking a horse who has always been training on the track and you take it swimming and it gets a different outlet and some new lease on life. It doesn’t work for all, but for most it will.” The trainers arrive at the monte from different perspectives. For Sugars it’s a chance to freshen Illawong Helios and possibly extend his season, having had 12 starts since January 23. For Gath it’s a chance to give K D Muscles, owned by Norm Jenkin, a hit-out in a race that doesn’t also feature another Jenkin’s runner. “She has the same owner as Clover Mac who is in for Ballarat's (John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup) on Friday night and instead of doubling up we will take advantage of the $14,000 race on Saturday to avoid the clash,” Gath said. “(K D Muscles) hadn’t run under a saddle before Monday morning. Michelle (Phillips) did half-a-dozen laps on her and then she trialled on Monday night and handled it well. She ran good time.” Beyond that the jury is out. It’s expected the talented trotter will be competitive with the likes of Conon Bridge, Brent Lilley’s Breeders Crown winner who’s a veteran of four montes, and Vics Cheval, David Aiken’s trotter who returns to the montes for the first time since 2016 when she won three races under saddle. “It’s a little hard to know what affect it will have,” Gath said. “We will see how she recovers from having carried weight on her back instead of a sulky. “I thought she trialled good under saddle and she will have Ben Aubron riding her and he is quite experienced. I think she will acquit herself well.” Sugars has little apprehension about throwing Illawong Helios into the championship, the calendar’s richest mobile start monte. “Both her and K D Muscles I think will perform really well,” Sugars said. “The short-course will suit them and I think it will be a very good race between Conon Bridge, K D Muscles and Illawong Helios. “This has come at the right time (for Illawong Helios). She had progressed well this campaign and then levelled out.” Sugars said putting Illawong Helios into a monte had “always been in the back of the mind”, having trained her under saddle “three or four times” last October before she was put out for a spell. “It might keep her in work longer and if she benefits I won’t just race her in montes but put her back in normal racing,” Sugars said. “It might get a few others thinking about it and having a go, because the monte racing has definitely improved as better horses have taken to it.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 27 May 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 27 May 2017

A filly purchased for less than $1000 at a Shepparton harness racing dispersal sale has netted 25-year-old Armstrong trainer Leroy O’Brien his biggest thrill in the trots. Imprincessgemma (Village Jolt-Melody Stride) didn’t even fetch four figures at the Shepparton sale, O’Brien explaining he paid “$900 plus GST” for the filly. Tonight she won the $50,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton, netting O’Brien and his mum, co-owner Sharryn, $25,000. “This was really special,” O’Brien said. “This one we owned ourselves, this was only her second lifetime win. She is really special to us. She’s named after my niece by my Mum. She really is one of our favourites.” Driven by Kerryn Manning tonight, Imprincessgemma took the lead early off Hakuna and once in front never looked like losing. She paced a 1:54.8 mile rate, her last half-mile split up in 28.8 and 28.4secs. “She carried herself well (at the sale),” O’Brien said when asked what had caught his eye at Shepparton. “Melody Stride was from the Stride family and Village Jolt was a fairly new sire when we purchased her. She was just very cheap and I thought she was definitely worth a go. “Me and my dad (Danny) actually went up there to buy a trotting mare in foal, but it went a little bit too dear. I had an eye for her (Imprincessgemma), so I had to ring mum to transfer some money so I could buy her. I had no money but I liked the horse.” O’Brien is positive he wants to make a full-time go of the trots. “I really do. I’m a plumber by trade, but I’ve done my time with the business and put that aside to have a real good go with the horses. There’s nothing better than waking up and working with them. I love them to bits. I really want to make it in the future and have a real good crack at it while I can. And I’ll give it 110 per cent, that’s for sure.” O’Brien also adds that the trots operation is very much a family project. “My mum gets up at daylight and gets out there with her nighty on, she loves it. It’s a massive team effort. Dad does a great job too and my girlfriend Kristy helps out along the lines too. I’ve got massive support from my family.” Manning was full of merit for O’Brien post-race. “She’s a lovely horse to drive and Leroy does a great job with his horses. He knows them very well and he’s got a good head on his shoulders,” she said. O’Brien returned the praise. “I put Kerryn on tonight because I wanted to put the best on to give her every chance. And you can’t beat Kerryn Manning.” Meanwhile, in the Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic trotting finals Wobelee (Down Under Muscles-Tupenny Bit) and Viksun (Fling It-Summerline) won the male and female divisions respectively. Wobelee is trained by Alison Alford and was driven by husband Chris, whose fans tonight donned #Puppet6000 t-shirts to celebrate Alford’s recent 6000th winner in the gig. “I’m very proud of this little fella,” Alford said. “He’s normally really well-mannered but he went for a little bit of a canter in the score-up, which scared me, but once he found the front he was going to be hard to beat.” Wobelee rated 2:00.8 to score by 6.5m over Whizzbang Dan, with Chissy in third. Viksun won the fillies’ final in 2:01.2 for trainer Billy Muscat and driver Michael Muscat. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The trots' newly-crowned 'Mr 6000' says Kiwi mare The Orange Agent can test Aussie pacing superstar Lennytheshark given the chance. But first Victorian horseman Chris Alford and The Orange Agent will need to justify red hot favouritism in the final leg of the Triple Mares Crown at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. The Orange Agent has bolted away with the first two legs of the Victorian crown and will be red hot for the final, the $100,000 Queen Of The Pacific, even after drawing the second line. She remained unbeaten in Australia at Melton last Friday night and Alford says the ease of the win was almost embarrassing. “She just cruised up to them down the back straight and at the 400m she actually got in a bad mood with me and threw her head in the air because I wouldn’t let her run past them,” says Alford. “She is a very, very good mare and over 2760m this week she should be even better.” Alford became the first Australasian trots driver to record 6000 career wins at Melton on Monday night, capping a remarkable last 18 months in which he has won the Inter Dominion, Victoria Cup and Miracle Mile, all with Lennytheshark. That last win, over a Kiwi trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach, had many Australians suggesting Lennytheshark is the actual king of Australasian pacing, even though Lazarus’s body of work this season is clearly stronger. But his recent drives on The Orange Agent put Alford in a unique position to judge the mare against Lenny and he says a potential clash in the Len Smith Mile in Sydney next month would be interesting. “Lenny is a champion and I’d have to say the best horse I have driven now,” says Alford, who turns 50 this week. “But this mare is flying and if she sat on Lenny’s back she would run him close. I am not saying she would run past him because not many horses can do that.” Managing owner John Green says the Len Smith Mile clash is definitely on should The Orange Agent come through this Saturday well. “That is the plan. A $30,000 mares lead-up race at Menangle then the Len Smith Mile, with Tony (Herlihy) being offered the drive since Chris will be driving Lenny,” says Green. And The Orange Agent has already proven she can beat pacing’s big boys, having downed Smolda and Have Faith In Me at Alexandra Park in March as part of a stellar comeback after 14 months on the sidelines with injury. While The Orange Agent appears to have the triple crown at her mercy the Australian campaign for fellow Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess has proved a disaster. Not only did she drop out behind The Orange Agent last Friday but she was found to be off colour after the race and will now miss this Saturday as well as the Harness Jewels for which she was second favourite for the four-year-old Diamond. Also missing from the Jewels will be northern Group 1 winner Mach Shard, who trainer Barry Purdon has put aside for the season after a dull performance at Addington last Friday. “I think a spell is the best thing for him so he will come back an be aimed at the Sires’ Stakes,” said Purdon. Many Jewels contenders will have their final warm ups at Addington on Friday, with the track’s second strongest meeting of the year after Cup week. Bonnie Joan has been the big winner in the draw for the NZ Oaks, looking the likely leader while Spanish Armada faces a second line marble and Partyon the outside of the front line. Alta Maestro and Spankem draw alongside each other in the Sires’ Stakes two-year-old final while many of the country’s best young trotters meet in two and three-year-old features and the Winter Cup gives Jewels favourite Piccadilly Princess her last chance to qualify for the June 3 extravaganza. And the main trot sees Marcoola return against fellow four-year-olds Lemond, Wilma’s Mate and Rowe Cup winner Temporale. by Michael Guerin Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 20 May 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 20 May 2017

Twenty-one years after delivering harness racing trainer John Ryan success aboard Barunah Bay in the Cobram Cup, champion reinsman Chris Alford drove his 6000th winner on another of Ryan’s horses, this time Diamond Grace at Tabcorp Park Melton. Alford needed three winners at the start of today to become the first driver in the southern hemisphere to reach the 6000-win mark, and it took him until the last race to cap a winning treble with his family on-course to celebrate. “Alison and the kids wanted to be there so after the first win I rang her and said you getter get Sam from school. I thought I had a few chances late in the day. For a moment there it looked as though it was going to have to wait until tomorrow, but it was a huge thrill to achieve it on a horse trained by John Ryan,” Alford said. The champion reinsman, who turns 49 later this week, said achieving the milestone was “extremely satisfying”, adding, “I’m privileged to get to drive so many good horses. I can’t make bad horses win”. Very much at the top of his game, Alford is leading the national drivers’ premiership by a huge margin this year and his drives have netted over $2.5 million in stake earnings. Included among those wins is this season’s Group 1 Miracle Mile aboard one of Alford’s modern day – and all-time – favourites, Lennytheshark. CHECK OUT TROTS MEDIA'S #PUPPET6000 CELEBRATION VIDEO Alford’s association with Lenny, the 2015 Inter Dominion champion, is legendary but so is his connection with Golden Reign, Tailamade Lombo and a host of other topliners. Alford has been swamped with messages of congratulations from fans and his fellow participants on social media, but is taking the time to soak up the win with his family before delving into the latest word on the tweet. “We’re just heading for a pub meal and I can see there’s been a bit of talk on social media. It’ll be good to catch up on it later,” Alford said. Alford achieved the 5000-win milestone in November 2013. Already some pundits are looking towards 7000. And that journey starts tomorrow night at Kilmore where Alford has six drives. On Saturday night Alford will take time out to meet fans and sign souvenir #Puppet6000 t-shirts at Tabcorp Park Melton on Benstud Queen of the Pacific night. Funds from the sale of the t-shirts, $10 and available at the race night office, will be donated to Alford’s chosen charity, the Children’s Tumour Foundation.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Not since Make Mine Cullen in 2012 has a mare completed the Mares’ Triple Crown. But a record-breaking win in the Alabar Angelique Club Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night has star Kiwi mare The Orange Agent within one win of completing the rare harness racing treble. The Brian Hughes-trained five-year-old smashed the clock, rating 1:53.7 – a new race record – to score by almost 10m over a game Milly Perez in the 2240m Group 3. Driven by Chris Alford, whose winning double at Melton moved him within three of the 6000-victory milestone, The Orange Agent (American Ideal-Lady Fingers) gapped the opposition to add the Angelique Club Cup to the Alabar Make Mine Cullen silverware she won last week. The next target will come next Saturday night, the $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific, the jewel of the Mares’ Triple Crown. “The fast lead time certainly took the sting out of some of the leaders,” Alford said of last night’s win. “She felt amazing. She just strode up, she was just travelling that hard around the last turn. She was just charging." The early speed came from New South Wales trained Rakarazor, who found the lead from the top of the track early doors and ripped through the first 630m in 43.6secs. The tempo never cooled with Rakarazor then pacing the first half of her last mile in 58.9secs before a 28.4secs third quarter. She couldn’t maintain the rage. Alford let The Orange Agent do what she does best around the final bend and in the blink of an eye she put the pacemakers away. A bold Milly Perez ran on to get second for driver John Caldow, her effort probably one of the best of her career in defeat, while Bettor Downunder for Michael Stanley scorched home for third at big odds. The Orange Agent finished off with a 27.4secs final split despite having sat three-wide throughout the last lap. So now on to this week.  Can anyone turn the tables on The Orange Agent? It’ll be tough. But connections of Milly Perez and Bettor Downunder would have been thrilled with the performances of their mares. Both savaged the line and should appreciate the 2760-metre trip, while Dennis Picker-trained Onlykidding was solid in fourth and Rocker Band found the line well out wide for fifth. You can put Heavens Trend into the forgive file from the Angelique Club Cup. She came in tailed off last after striking trouble around the final bend, while classy Mark Purdon-trained Our Golden Goddess compounded to finish 10th after parking in the chair. She is better than that. The eye-catcher was Shakahari, who was bowled over around the final bend before picking up and flashing to the line in seventh place. She should have finished much closer and could spring a surprise next weekend for Bec Bartley and Stephen O’Donoghue. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Exciting harness racing four-year-old Mattgregor will have his connections thinking across the weekend. The speedy pacer will start favourite in Sunday’s $15,540 Kevin & Kay Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final after drawing gate three but there’s plenty more at stake than just the prizemoney. Prepared by husband and wife team of Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, Mattgregor will again be handled by concession reinsman Hayden Barnes this weekend. But connections are toying with the idea of heading to Melbourne next weekend to contest the Gr.2 $75,000 4 & 5yo Championship at Tabcorp Park Melton. “It’s something we’re strongly considering but we have to get through his race this weekend in good order firstly, this race fits his schedule nicely and it’s quite doable given we can fly him down a few days before the event.” McMullen said. Back in February, Mattgregor qualified for the Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at TABCORP Park, Menangle in Sydney and finished a creditable 5th behind champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus in a time of 1:49.0. Mattgregor started from gate 10, the extreme outside and was beaten less than 10m but managed to record the best closing splits of the event. The rangy gelding resumed with an easy victory on Tuesday afternoon when leading throughout in his heat while recording a time of 1:58.6. In-form mare Summertime Lizzie won the other heat in a time of 1:55.0 and will start to the immediate inside of Mattgregor on Sunday. “We were very pleased with his hit-out on Tuesday; he had a very easy time of it in front and just sprinted from the top of the straight. It wasn’t a taxing run and he’ll be ready for a big effort this weekend. “It was also Hayden’s first race drive behind him and he’ll know a lot more about him following that race so they will both be better for the run. Obviously Summertime Lizzie commands respect, she’s won her past four starts and recorded very good time so we won’t take her lightly. “The Melbourne race is a good option because there isn’t a great deal coming up for him during the winter carnival, we’ve got a 4yo race and then basically he’s in the deep end with the open class performers if we want to chase the decent prizemoney. I’m happy to race against the best.” No decision will be made until after the weekend. But connections have made contact regarding the availability of flights. Chris Barsby

There is a Harness Jewels spotlight on Melton Friday night, but just not in the way we first thought. Gifted four-year-old Mr Mojito was slated to make his racetrack return for new trainer Kerryn Manning in the Bold David Free-For-All in preparation for a Jewels raid. But Manning convinced owner Merv Butterworth to skip this week and go straight to the 4&5YO Championship at Melton on Saturday week. “Kerryn didn’t want to risk getting a poor draw in what’s a fairly strong field and having a gut-buster first-up,” Butterworth said. “She’s adamant she can him as fit as he needs to be at home to give it a huge shake next week.” While Mr Mojito is staying at home, another of Butterworth’s best horses, Our Golden Goddess, has drawn superbly in gate two in the $30,000 Group 3 Angelique Club Cup (2240m). And that’s where the Harness Jewels factor comes into play. Initially Butterworth was against returning to NZ with Our Golden Goddess for a crack at the Jewels after his two-race Aussie raid. “I’m now keen to send her back,” he said. “You can tell everyone, providing she runs as well as expect this week and in the Queen of the Pacific the week after, she will head back for the Jewels. “All going well she will be on the same flight across as Mr Mojito.” Butterworth believes the kind draw on Friday gives Our Golden Goddess every chance to upset superstar mare The Orange Agent, who has drawn out wide on the back row (gate 12). It’s notoriously hard to win from wide back row draws in 1720m and 2240m races around Melton. “We’ve got our chance from the draw,” Butterworth said. “Her past couple runs in Auckland have been outstanding.” Grant Campbell takes the reins on Our Golden Goddess.   Adam Hamilton  

There isn’t much champion driver Chris Alford has not achieved, so it takes something a bit special to get him really excited these days. Take last Saturday week when he drove his favourite, Lennytheshark, to win an epic battle against Tiger Tara and company in the Bulli Cup at Menangle. That gave him a tingle down his spine. Alford admitted he got “a real buzz” a couple of months back when John Green rang and asked if he would drive The Orange Agent when she campaigned in Melbourne. “Now that was a great call to get,” Alford said. “I’ve known John for ages, but to get the call-up to drive a wonderful mare like this one was a real buzz. “I’ve actually been counting down until she got across her.” It was worth the wait. The Orange Agent scored one of the most dominant wins of her stellar career in last night’s $30,000 Group 3 Make Mine Cullen (1720m) at Melton. Knowing his was on the best mare in the race, Alford – as he does better than anyone else – drove with extreme aggression and confidence. He just kept pushing forward from gate six, eventually working past Bettor Downunder on his direct inside and taking the lead from another Kiwi mare Rocker Band, after 400m. The Orange Agent had her rivals cooked on the home bend as Alford slipped away with a commanding lead and let her cruise to the wire to score by 6.4m from Rocker Band with in-form local Milly Perez run another big race for third. But this was The Orange Agent’s show and it reinforced why she is the one to beat in Victoria’s next two big mares’ races over the next two weeks – the Angelique Club Cup and Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific. It’s hard to see any of the locals beating her, so the only danger looks to be another classy Kiwi, Golden Goddess, who she will lock horns with next week. The Orange Agent’s win came at her first Melton run since winning the Breeders Crown 3YO fillies’ final back in August 2015. She’s unbeaten in three runs at the track. Adam Hamilton

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