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The nation’s leading reinsman Greg Sugars and Shepparton harness racing trainer Amanda Turnbull both had winning doubles at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Turnbull produced the first two winners on the program, Copper Coast (Modern Art/Katasopos) and Oh Jonny Be Good (Mach Three/Maikona), while Sugars combined with trainer Geoff Webster to win aboard Flaming Flutter (Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot) and was victorious behind Emma Stewart-trained Goodtime Mike (Browning Blue Chip/Golden Face). Copper Coast’s win in the 2240m DNR Logistics Pace (M0) kicked off the nine-race card, driver Nathan Jack – partner of Turnbull – expertly steering the four-year-old gelding home by a whisker over Fernco Bobby G (Glenn Douglas). The winner’s stablemate Big Spook (Turnbull) ran third, the mile rate 1:57.5. Jack took Copper Coast back early from barrier three before timing his run to perfection on the last lap, diving into the one-one around the final bend before stoking up strongest in the lane (29.1secs fourth quarter after a 28.1secs run down the back, 57.2secs last half). Copper Coast is a former Queenslander who won the 2013 Paleface Adios Classic at Albion Park at two. The wraps on three-year-old stablemate Oh Jonny B Good got bigger after the colt sat three-wide with no cover (final 800m 57.3secs) and outclassed his opponents in the Decron Pace Final (C2-C3). From an inside back row draw Turnbull took the ex-Kiwi back to the rear early before improving through the last lap. Oh Jonny B Good stretched out best late to win in a rate of 1:59.5 for the 2240m journey and you get the feeling there’s plenty more improvement to come next prep. Illawong Lively (Scott Rains) from the pole ran second and Admiral Joy (Sugars) rocketed home for third. Seven-year-old Bettors Delight/Star Chaser gelding Astronaut won the Tye’s Clubbing USA Claiming Pace to give trainer/driver Jodi Quinlan a Maryborough/Melton double for the day (she scored a dashing win on Friday afternoon aboard Illawong Moonshine). Astronaut came with a sweeping sprint down the outside of the track to beat heavily backed favourite Livin It Lovin It (Rodney Petroff) by 2.2m in a rate of 1:59.4 over the 2240m. Inky Cullen (Alex Ashwood) was third. Burrumbeet trainer/driver Michael Stanley took out the SEW-Eurodrive Pace Final over 2240m (C1) with his three-year-old Somebeachsomewhere / Giveusachance filly Soho Berlin. Stanley improved from a midfield position aboard the in-form filly (who has won three of her last four starts) at the mile. She covered plenty of territory from that point to the 1200m pole when she eventually ran to the lead. From there she paced her final three quarters in 30.1secs, 30.2secs and 29.9secs after an opening stanza of 29.7secs to rate 1:58.3, beating Sir Briggen (Mark Buckingham) by 5.5m while Olivia Rockstar (Trevor Hilson) was third. The Conect Blacks A Fake Free-for-All saw impressive five-year-old Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot entire Flaming Flutter continue his rise to stardom. This season’s Inter Dominion runner-up made it two straight fast class wins by holding Keayang Starzzz (Glen Craven) out at the end of the 1720m trip by a half-neck in 1:57.1. Sugars restrained early on Flaming Flutter as the leaders sprinted through a quick lead time before easing three-wide at the bell and whipping up to the breeze through the 32secs second quarter. Keayang Starzzz still appeared to be travelling at the home bend but Flaming Flutter simply outclassed the runner-up in the straight, dashing home in a 27.2secs final quarter after a 28.7secs third split. Consistent Exciteusinthecity ran third for Tim McLean. Brent Lilley had a double at Maryborough on Friday afternoon and backed it up with a third victory at Melton in the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup with Crusader Acey. At big odds, Anthony Butt took the Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding straight to the front early from barrier five before handing up to Best Deal Yet. This left Young Modern (Michael Stanley) parked; the heat winners 1-2 in the run. Once in front Best Deal Yet carved out some quick sectionals after a slick lead time (43.6secs), the opening splits 29.4secs and 29.5secs. Young Modern put paid to the leader at the 400m but Lierre Noir, Major Crocker and Crusader Acey were all starting to loom off softer runs. Crusader Acey finished strongest to score (third and fourth splits 28.8secs and 29.4secs) in a mile rate of 1:55.4, Young Modern battling on gamely for second to be beaten only a neck while Lierre Noir (Glen Craven) was close-up in third. Goodtime Mike gave Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart a victory for the night in the Eynesbury Golf Club Pace (M1) over 1720m from barrier five for in-form Sugars. Goodtime Mike did plenty of work in the run but still found the line best to defeat Artoc (Chris Alford) in second by a head, with Highview Conall third in 1:57.2. David Aiken trained and driven Earth Angel swept to victory in the Renown Silverware Pace over 1720m (M0). The Mach Three/Arty Alice five-year-old tracked the favourite Miley Rose into the lane before peeling off her back and out-sprinting her for a 3.2m success. Miley Rose was second for Gavin Lang, South Australian visitor Our Mischievious Miss holding third for Wayne Hill after giving a bold sight out in front. Earth Angel’s rate was 1:55.7. San Carlo wound up the night on a sensational note, the Mach Three/Bridge Player gelding far too good for his rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series A Final for reinswoman Rebecca Bartley. by Cody Winnell  

On a night dominated by close finishes it was the blow-out margin in the last tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton that had many harness racing pundits salivating. San Carlo (Mach Three/Bridge Player) mightn’t have beaten a field glistening with stars, but he did it in style taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series A Final and remains unbeaten in four trips to the races. Reinswoman Bec Bartley alluded before the score-up on Sky Racing to the fact she and trainer Stephen O’Donoghue rated the Kialla four-year-old. “We’ll just keep pushing forward," she said, then suggesting the fans would know more about what the gelding was capable of post-race. San Carlo ambled away from barrier six at the 2240-metre start and Bartley kept him clear of harm’s way out wide before trekking forward. Once San Carlo was in front the $1.20 he started with the bookies looked about right. And, after a first half of 62.4secs in-the-run odds makers would have shut up shop. Quickening up through the third stanza (28.6secs) San Carlo slipped into another gear and put his rivals to the sword. Importantly, however, while tonight’s rivals were clearly not in the same league as the winner, San Carlo basically cruised to the line hard held. His fourth quarter was 28.9secs and he romped clear to win by 32.8 metres, but Bartley didn’t budge a muscle and caller Dan Mielicki even suggested the mercy rule be enacted. San Carlo rated 1:59.4. The winner’s dam Bridge Player (by Classic Garry) ran second in the 1997 Sires final at Moonee Valley at two (beaten narrowly by Belinda) and all four of her progeny which have made it to the track have won races. by Cody Winnell

Greg Sugars has 2000 career winners on the board after a winning double at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton today. The gun reinsman, 30, drove $1.30 shot Fake Smile to victory for trainer Ahmed Taiba in Race 2 at Geelong Harness Racing Club's Melton meeting, before scoring a minor upset in the last race aboard Paying Your Way at odds of $8 for trainer Rob O'Connell. July has been incredible for Sugars, the victory aboard Paying Your Way his 24th winner for the month. He will drive two horses tonight at Bendigo, two tomorrow at Maryborough and five at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night before we head into the final month of the harness racing calendar year. Sugars has edged clear of Queensland's Shane Graham on the 2014-15 National Drivers Premiership. Cody Winnell

The Trots 'TAB Breeders Crown' is fast approaching! Experience trotting’s biggest day of the year, with more than $1.3 Million in prize money on offer across 8 Group 1 races. As well as outstanding racing, the day will also feature loads of entertainment, including DJ Lauren Mac, Animal Farm, Face Painting, Jumping Castle, Pony Rides and much more. One lucky racegoer will also receive a $2000 betting voucher. While there’s plenty on offer for the kids, adults can also enjoy a glamorous day out by booking into one of our premium dining packages. We look forward to welcoming you to Tabcorp Park on Sunday 30 August 2015.   Raceday Hospitality Toolern Room With breathtaking views from the G.W. Rothacker grandstand, overlooking the home straight and winning post our Toolern Room package is for those looking for a top class, all inclusive experience. Package Includes: Racecourse Admission 4 x course dining including plated entrée, gourmet buffet for main, individually crafted dessert platters plus afternoon tea Beverage package comprising of beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages Tea and Coffee throughout the day Racebook Hosted event with special guests to share their knowledge and tips for the day’s racing Package Price - $110pp For bookings phone 8746 0626 or email   Home Straight Bistro Located on the ground level directly across from the winning post the Home Straight Bistro is adjacent to the home straight lawn where you can cheer on your favourite from the thick of the action. Package Includes Racecourse Admission 3 x course gourmet buffet Cash bar operating all day Race Book Direct access to Tote facilities Live trackside televisions Package Price - $75pp For bookings phone 8746 0626 or email   Skybox  Located right on top of the winning post providing the best view in the house. You’re guaranteed to be right on top of the day’s racing action while enjoying a premium menu. Package Includes Racecourse Admission Premium 4 Course plated lunch Premium beer, wine & non-alcoholic beverages Racebook Tote facilities Package Price - $150pp For bookings phone 8746 0626 or email   Corporate Suites If you are looking for an exclusive atmosphere for your racing experience look no further than one of our exclusive Corporate Suites, ideal for a gathering of 20-30 guests. Watch the action from your own private balcony overlooking the track, impress your clients with the high class private room comprising of your own Kitchen and Bathroom facilities complete with personal wait staff to ensure a truly memorable day. Package Includes: Corporate Canape menu inclusive of Gourmet Cheese station Beverage Package comprising of Beer, Wine & non-alcoholic beverages Continuous Tea & Coffee Tote Facilities In room Flat Screen Television Private balcony overlooking the Home Straight Price on Application For bookings phone 8746 0626 or email   City Bus FEDERATION SQUARE to TABCORP PARK MELTON There will be a return coach running from Federation Square to Tabcorp Park on Breeders Crown Day. PICK-UP POINT : Federation Square, Russell St extension 11.00AM (located at the back of Federation Square near carpark), arriving approximately 11.45AM DEPARTS TABCORP PARK : 7.00PM, travelling to Federation Square. $10 per person one way or $10 per person return Bookings essential – phone 8746 0600   For further information visit

Odds-on favourite Keystone Del gave harness racing punters who took $1.30 a scare in last night’s Group 3 Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free for All at Tabcorp Park Melton when he galloped early. The seven-year-old son of Dr Ronerail from Flipside lost about 80m when he broke up coming out of the straight the first time. But by the time had left the back straight, so slow were they going up front that Keystone Del had made up his lost ground and run to the lead for driver Chris Alford. Once in front the top-notch squaregaiter, arguably the best in the business, controlled the small field of six with quarters of 32.3secs, 33.4secs, 29.6secs and a fourth quarter of 27.9secs to win by 3.8m over stablemate Lord Liam in a rate of 2:03.0 for the 2240m trip. Stoned I Am finished third beaten 9.1m for Simone Walker. In other results last night, Best Deal Yet (Bettors Delight/Bonnie Deal) won the 2240m DNR Logistics M0 Pace for Alison Chisholm, leading all the way from gate four in a rate of 1:58.5, defeating runner-up Copper Coast by 4m. Vince Vallelonga-trained Major Crocker (Art Major/Aratusa Lass) sat parked in the 1720m Soho Standardbreds Winter Championship Final for reinsman Greg Sugars in 1:53.9, defeating in-form Beachstar by 1.9m. David Aiken trained-and-driven Vics Cheval (Yankee Boy/Vics Lady) proved too strong in the Garrards Horse and Hound Trot over 2240m, winning by 18.9m in 2:00.1 over second-placed The Majestic. Rising star Flaming Flutter (Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot) won the Our Maestro Free for All by 3.2m over Keayang Starzzz in a rate of 1:57.7 for the 2240m trip. Driven by Greg Sugars for trainer Geoff Webster, Flaming Flutter led from start to finish. Bamako Malo (Art Major/African Dancer) took out the Harness Breeders Victoria 3YO Classic over 1720m by 2.3m over a gusty Soho Tokyo in 1:55.9. Driven by Amanda Turnbull for trainer Belinda McCarthy, Bamako Mali found the lead while Soho Tokyo moved around to sit parked at the bell. Five-year-old mare Lierre Noir (Bettors Delight/Saabette) saluted in the Olympus Feeds Pace over 1720m for trainer/driver Amy Tubbs. From the pole, Tubbs took early cover behind long odds-on shot El Jays Magic before overpowering the Tasmanian mare in the home straight for a 1.8m victory in 1:55.0. To finish the evening Chris Svanosio produced a stellar drive aboard Matthew Craven-trained Desdon Murruffy to win the Pace over 2240m. From gate three Svanosio took the five-year-old Modern Art/Spellmaker stallion back to the rear of the field early and he was actually detached mid-race. At the home turn he was still in a seemingly impossible position before steaming home along the pegs to grab Electric Ollie in the shadows of the post for a head win in a rate of 1:59.4. by Cody Winnell

Harness racing trainer Emma Stewart combined with champion driver Gavin Lang to take out both the Alabar Tatlow Stakes races at Tabcorp Park Melton last night.  Rock N Roll Heaven/All The Magic youngster Rocknroll Magic took out the fillies’ division and later on the card Shadow Play/Miss Saxony two-year-old Shadow Sax won the colts and geldings’ Tatlow. Rocknroll Magic, which has now won six of nine career starts, was clearly the dominant filly in her $50,505 Group 2. With no pace on throughout, Lang was able to lead early and dictate terms, Rocknroll Magic’s lead time of 48secs a crawl before the first half was covered in 62.5secs. The last-start Southern Cross heat winner in Adelaide only had to dash home in 56.6secs to hold off Three Squared (11.7m away in second), with My Sophisticated Lady in third in a rate of 2:00.1. Shadow Sax, the last-start Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series champion, overcame barrier seven to score by 2.5m in 1:59.5. Three-wide early, Lang slotted the talented gelding into the running line midfield as the leader Christmas Jolt jogged through a 48.1secs lead time. With an opening half of 62.1secs, three-time Melton winner Christmas Jolt looked on track to notch his seventh career victory overall. But in the home straight Shadow Sax rounded up the leader and then held off Zee Dana along the sprint lane. Shadow Sax has won four from eight lifetime starts. by Cody Winnell

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Grant Hodges is beaming after the efforts of two of his stable tenants at Melton in Victoria last Friday night. El Jays Magic scored an impressive all-the-way win in the $25,000 Jane Ellen mares race over 2240 metres and his talented gelding Clamorous defied a tough run in the breeze to go down by only a half-neck in a heat of the Winter Championships over 1720 metres. "El Jays Magic went super and she just keeps on performing every time I raise the bar," Hodges said. "It's hard to stack the Tassie form up against the mainlanders sometimes but I'm sure I haven' got to the bottom of this mare and she could be up to some of the top mares' races next season," he said. Clamorous was a game second to the odds-on favourite Mister Mundaka ($1.50) that led while the Tasmanian faced the breeze and kept finding at the business end of the race. "I thought Clamorous was a huge run and if he draws the front in the final on Friday night he should be in with a big chance," he said. Clamorous will definitely start in the Winter Series final over 1720 metres on Friday night while El Jays Magic will be nominated for a race on the same program that is for M1-M2 pacers with a preferential draw for mares, so she is guaranteed to draw the front line. "El Jays Magic pulled up really well form her run so we might as well have a crack at another race on Friday night but I'll make a final decision closer to the day," he said. Hodges said both horses would more than likely to head home for spells after Friday night's assignments. Peter Staples

South Merbein harness racing trainer Ian Watson and son reinsman Luke made the long trip south worthwhile by taking out the Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final for two-year-old fillies at Melton on Saturday night. “I usually sit at home and watch these races on telly." "To win it is just an absolute miracle to me,” declared Luke after steering well-bred Flojos Gold to victory in the 2240-metre event. At odds of over 50-1, Flojos Gold – by Mach Three out of former smart race mare Jasper Jo – made it three wins from four career starts by upstaging hot favourite Soho Madeleine for Belinda and Luke McCarthy by a head in a mile rate of two minutes. “I thought she could run a good race if she landed like she did." "If you had have told me we’d land behind the leader then I’d say we’d end up in the top few,” the winner’s driver said shortly after the race when asked about his thoughts going in. “It definitely makes up for all those ones you think were good enough but might have had a little bit of bad luck here or there not to win a Group 1." "It’s definitely a great thrill.” Rocknroll Magic ran third for Emma Stewart and Gavin Lang, while Just Wantano was fourth for Kevin Brough and Michael Bellman. Luke Watson said the filly had only travelled down to Melton in the hours leading up to the race. “We arrived a couple of hours before we had to be here … with the babies we always reckon they’re best off at home in their own environment until they have to leave and I think it’s paid dividends,” he said. “I knew this filly got out pretty quick, we just wanted to come out early and find a spot." "To end up where we did was probably just good luck more than good management,” Luke said. Re-live Flojos Gold winning the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Cody Winnell

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

Harness racing Group 1 trebles are almost unheard of. And when they do occur, the feat is usually reserved for the rich, powerful, multinational-type stables. But Shelbourne horseman Larry Eastman lived the fairy-tale on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, winning three Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Eastman’s stable-star three-year-olds Menin Gate and Morton Plains won their age group’s male and female finals respectively before Milly Perez scored a boil-over in the four-year-old mares’ decider. All three were driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, who also picked up the four-year-old entires and geldings’ final with Messini for trainer Brent Lilley to finish with a Group 1 quartet. An emotional Eastman paid tribute to his wife, Lynette. “I’m feeling pretty good (but) I’m rapt for Lynette, my wife,” he told the large crowd, who braved a chilly night out for one of the best nights of harness racing seen in recent times. “(She’s) the best horse on the farm by a long way… works daylight until dark every day. “Whilst people probably think it’s my expertise or whatever it’s not, she’s got a good eye for a horse and she’s really good at what she does as well.” Eastman, clearly elated, had nothing but praise for Alford. “We’ve been great friends for a long time and he’s really pulled them out tonight for us,” he said. “… It makes all the difference. We use these guys because they are the best and on big nights like tonight it counts.” Morton Plains (Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That) brought up the first of Eastman’s trio of treats for the evening. The filly took the lead off early frontrunner Niki No No with a mile to run in their Group 1 final over 2240m. A 30.2secs first quarter had the Eastman backers feeling good and a second split of 30.6secs was   comfortable. Off the back Morton Plains looked to have the better of death-seating Lovelist, while driver Greg Sugars sat quietly aboard Niki No No behind the leader awaiting his opportunity along the sprint lane. But Morton Plains kicked strongly at the top of the stretch, Niki No No unable to peg back the leader who kept finding to win by four metres, Niki No No holding on to second and Vapar Grin running third. “The Birchip boys who own Menin Gate, most are in this filly as well. A couple of them are in Morton Plains that weren’t in Menin Gate … they get their thrills tonight. I’m really pleased for them,” Eastman said. “These guys have been in for the long haul … I mean the Lowry boys have been in this industry for years and years and they’ve put their hard-earned in. “Their farming enterprise didn’t have a very good year last year and until it rains this year they’re on a sticky wicket again. For those people and the farming community at Birchip (the win) really gives the town a bit of a buzz.” Eastman made it a three-year-olds’ clean sweep in Race 7 with Somebeachsomewhere/Dreams Of Heaven gelding Menin Gate in the colts’ and geldings’ final. The Victoria Derby champion from earlier in the season began fast from the pole to lead and was never headed, the inside-back-row Mister Wickham finishing second after following the winner all the way and Follow The Stars running third for Anthony Butt and Mark Purdon. Menin Gate rated 1:55.6 for the 2240m trip, sprinting home in 56.1secs. “He was switched on tonight, not like last week,” Alford said. “Once he was able to hold the front pretty comfortable I knew he’d run a strong last mile and was going to be hard for the horses off the fence and thankfully he kept going.” While he was no doubt confident both his three-year-olds would be competitive, Eastman certainly had his doubts about Milly Perez. “When Col Moore texted to say he’d pulled barrier 13 out I just thought `well that’s the end of the road for Milly’, because last week if you watch the tapes she went unbelievable ... we just were hoping for a barrier,” he said. “This little mare’s blessed with a really good turn of foot and I just thought from 13 we’d be too far back.” Eastman and Alford needed for there to be some speed on early. Their wish was Josh Aiken and Nathan Jack’s command. Crossed early by Shes A Runa, Jack took race favourite and polemarker Berisari quickly away from the pegs out of the straight the first time to run to the front. But Aiken and Quick Draft swiftly built up momentum and declared war on the long odds-on favourite, the pair engaging in a two-horse war to the mile marker before finally Quick Draft was forced to relent. The lead time of 42.9secs was electric and Jack quickly applied the brakes in a bid to give Berisari some respite with opening quarters of 30.3secs and 31.9secs. The pressure went on again down the back with a 29.1secs third split as Barynya and John Caldow made their move and got by Berisari. But Alford and Milly Perez, who were last at the 800m, followed Barynya into the action before peeling around her in the home straight. Once she stretched out Milly Perez dashed right away from her rivals, the Four Starzzz Shark/Alta Calypso bay winning by 13m over Beach Shack (David Aiken), Barynya holding down third. Lucky Metro was fourth for Charlie Borg, while Berisari battled away bravely to run fifth – a big run given her adversary Quick Draft came in tailed off. “We needed some genuine tempo and thanks to a couple of guys out there tonight it was game on and she reaped the reward,” Eastman said of Milly Perez. Meanwhile, Eastman also had high praise for the Vicbred program and highlighted the importance of the scheme to the Victorian industry. “Vicbred needs more and more pumped into it day in and day out,” he said. “Let’s look after our home base, that’s where these guys get the benefits. “We need to look after Victoria. That’s where we put our hard yakka in.” The Vicbred program pays out well over $9 million in stakes and bonuses to eligible horses and the series’ goal is to strengthen opportunities for Victorian-bred standardbreds. As for the trip home to Birchip for Eastman’s owners, it’ll no doubt be an enjoyable ride. Cody Winnell VIDEOS Menin Gate won his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Morton Plains won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Milly Perez won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final

Four-year-old Euroa trotter Im Stately won his second Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series harness racing trophy at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, two years after he won his first as a two-year-old. The David Jack-trained son of Majestic Son/Shadows started long odds-on despite his barrier-seven draw in the four-year-old entires and geldings' trotting final and didn't give his backers reason to worry. Jack, who also drove the stallion, sat three-wide early as the leaders sorted their order out. With about 1300 metres to run Im Stately made his move, Jack taking him to the lead from initial frontrunner Law Legend. Once in front Im Stately kept a good gap between himself and his challengers, eventually finishing 4.8 metres clear of runner-up Maybetothemax (Nathan Jack) with Savannah Jay Jay running third for Neil McCallum beaten 5.8m. The winner’s closing splits were 29.9secs and 30.2secs, his mile rate 2:01.5. Ultra-talented Im Stately has now won 13 races from 19 career starts. Watch Im Stately win the 4YO Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Trotting Entires & Geldings Final Cody Winnell

Harness racing driver Ashley Matthews joined the “Group 1 club” tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton with a gun steer aboard Chris Angove-trained trotter Sundons Courage in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ final. Matthews, whose father John is a trainer based in Havelock on the outskirts of Maryborough, remained cool as Sundons Courage – by champion sire Sundon out of Truscott Photo – slotted three back on the pegs in the run. “I didn’t think we’d be three the pegs,” Matthews said post-race. Down the back the final time Matthews had the opportunity to angle one-off the inside but chose to remain on the pegs, clearly pulling the right rein as the moving line runner he would have jumped behind dropped out and Sundons Courage saved plenty of territory before coming out after tearaway leader Cruisin Around. In the straight Sundons Courage pegged back the Michael Hughes-trained frontrunner and stuck his head in front when it mattered, taking the prize by a half-neck in a mile rate of 2:01.5. “It’s great… I’m a bit lost for words,” Matthews said. “We thought we were a real big chance. He’s got a ton of ability this horse. He never gives up, he’s got a great will to win.” Matthews is 35 and said he’d been driving for 10 years. “I’ve driven a lot of slow ones, but you’ve just got to keep going around and hopefully get on a horse like this,” he said. Big Jack Hammer ran third for Geoff Webster. Cody Winnell

Reina Danzante became a harness racing Group 1 winner at just her fourth trip to the races tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The well-bred daughter of Armbro Invasion out of former champion mare La Coocaracha enjoyed a comfortable run in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotting Fillies Final before bursting through late to defeat Sky Petite. Driven by Chris Alford for trainer Nicole Molander, Reina Danzante began well but was crossed by Sheza Amason and Rebecca Bartley. Reigning Vicbred Super Series champion Endsino was caught without cover for the trip after getting a good run through from her second-line draw, Alford able to sit quietly until the home straight. Sky Petite (Steve Duffy) made a strong run turning for home and almost looked the winner, but Alford and Reina Danzante fired up late to get the victory by 2.4 metres, with Val Gardena (Chris Svanosio) rattling home out wide for third. “She’s come in leaps and bounds since she came down,” Alford said. “They (Nicole and Dean Molander) do a good job with their horses. They don’t have a big team but they’re all pretty spot-on.” Donski finished fourth and Zaire Diva fifth. Watch Reina Danzante win her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Cody Winnell

Tatura trainer David Abrahams combined with leading harness racing reinsman Nathan Jack to take out the three-year-old colts and geldings’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final with Fabrication tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The gelding by Dream Vacation out of Figment bolted in by 12.5 metres, well-tried in the betting ring into $4.70 third-favourite behind Valley Ess Jay and Illawong Armstrong. Punters who took the $2.30 about Illawong Armstrong were shattered shortly after the start, the talented squaregaiter jumping out of his gear and losing enormous ground. Amazingly he fought his way back into contention late in the race, charging into third placing for reinswoman Jodi Quinlan, while Valley Ess Jay finished second for Chris Svanosio. But it was all honours with the winner and Jack was full of praise for Fabrication’s trainer. “I’d like to thank David and the Abrahams family, they’ve been good supporters of mine since day dot,” Jack said immediately after the win. “Dave’s doing a great job. There are not many that do a better job than Dave.” Down the back the final time Jack cut loose on Fabrication, darting past leader Valley Ess Jay. It was a winning move, Valley Ess Jay unable to fight back and regain the lead, Fabrication instead drawing well clear in the lane. “Everything went to plan,” Jack said. “Obviously it was going to be a very tactical race. “I was real happy in the run … even happier when Gavin (Lang) went and Ants (Anthony Butt) decided to post him. That played into our hands. Then that one galloped at the bell, which was good as it left a spot for Gavin to get in, where we didn’t have to go four-wide. Everything worked out perfect.” Fabrication rated 2:00.4 in winning. Watch Fabrication take out tonight's Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Cody Winnell

The Aiken stable has produced another ultra-smart young trotter in Princess Phoenix. The long odds-on harness racing favourite defeated Social Fireball by 2.7 metres with almost 17 metres back to third placegetter The Cooler in tonight’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotting Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Driven by Josh Aiken for trainer father David, Princess Phoenix – by The Pres out of Dodo Rocket – won differently to how she did in the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic in May, driven tough tonight. “She’s probably more a sit-sprint filly, I asked her stay (tonight) and she’s done a really good job,” Josh Aiken said. “Being a final I wanted to take all the luck out of it I could.” Princess Phoenix ran to the lead at the 1500m, heading off early leader Jay Bee Flex. She covered her first half in 62.3secs before 61.2secs last half for a 2:03.5 mile rate, holding off Social Fireball (Gavin Lang) who chased hard down the side and in the home straight. The Cooler ran on well at just her second race start, finishing third for Nathan Jack. “She’s just been a nice filly from the first time we started her. She qualified very close to first race. We thought she was OK then she went to the races and did it,” David Aiken said. “We always liked it but in qualifying trials early she was just OK, then she went to the races and ran second, then won that final. She’s really come on. “She had a few little issues gate-wise. We put the half-hopples on her and ever since then she hasn’t looked back.” Aiken said Princess Phoenix would most likely bypass the Redwood Carnival and head to the Breeders Crown. “Her good manners and speed will keep her in good stead,” he said. Watch Princess Phoenix win her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final at Melton by Cody Winnell

Cranbourne’s harness racing community has plenty to be excited about this week with two of the best locally trained horses the hot favourites to take out their respective Group 1 assignments. Exciting youngster Cruisin Around, trained by Michael Hughes, will line up in the $60,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, at Melton on Friday night. Then on Saturday night the spotlight will move to fellow local Hectorjayjay, from the Simone and Bill Walker stables, when he takes his place in the $110,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, for four-year-old entires and geldings.  Bridget Cook Read the full article at the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club's website  

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