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A 1:56.3 run in last night’s Tabcorp Park Melton VHRSC Sires Classic (Group 3) saw Emain Macha further enhance his race record and give Naracoorte harness racing trainer Greg Scholefield a metro feature trophy. Scholefield has, in recent times, boasted one of the strongest strike rates in the sport and Emain Macha is his stable star, with stake earnings of over $107,000 after last night’s win, which was his 13th at start No.17. Emain Macha initially had a crack for the front but was held out by both polemarker Misterfreeze and Rocknroll Icon from gate two. Reinsman Greg Sugars slotted three-year-old gelding by Safari into third position on the pegs, following Chris Alford on Rocknroll Icon and Emmett Brosnan aboard pacesetter Misterfreeze. Inside the final mile Alford took Rocknroll Icon to the lead and at the 1200m Sugars angled Emain Macha away from the markers. You wanted to be on one or the other. Off the back the final time, Rocknroll Icon tried to pinch the race but Emain Macha always had the leader in his sights. At the home bend – after a 28.4 third split – Emain Macha swept to the front and opened up over the final 100m for a 4.3m win, sprinting home in 28.1secs. Rocknroll Icon finished second and Albarock ran his usual honest race in third. Meanwhile, Andy and Kate Gath finished with a winning treble at Melton, taking out the City of Melton Stampede with Armbro Operative-Clifton Beauty gelding Maximan, the Western Base Vicbred Pace over 1720m with Major In Art-Henin Hardenne five-year-old gelding The Culture, and the Choose Atherstone Pace Final over 2240m with four-year-old Courage Under Fire-Village Glow gelding Firenglow. Maximan added his name to the Stampede honour roll, the annual six-furlong dash at Melton seeing the Gath gelding edge out perennial fast-finisher Tee Cee Bee Macray by a half-head in a time of 1:23.5. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Cardinia builder Phil Ellery has been a familiar face on trotting tracks in Gippsland and beyond for many years, but not only as a trainer and driver of horses. Phil is a regular driver of the mobile starting barrier at a handful of tracks. In fact he drove the vehicle for the first mobile start in many years of the famed A. G. Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton last month. Last Wednesday, Phil was on hand as usual piloting the starting car at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. And he managed to make the most of his "down time" during the running of the one standing start event on the program, the trotters handicap. Phil produced his trotter, Just Hold On, as one of the entrants in the race. And for good measure, he won the race too, ending a drought of almost 20 years since his last racetrack success. The majority of punters gave Just Hold On very little chance of victory on Wednesday afternoon, and the eight-year-old veteran of only seven race starts went around as the rank outsider in betting at odds of almost 60-1. But Phil knows his horse best, and proved that Just Hold On does have some ability. And just hold on the gelding did, defeating fellow local Innocent Fling by a narrow margin after a stirring battle for the length of the home straight. Another Gippsland horse, Gavlenn Sunset, ran third to produce a local trifecta. Pleasingly, the three placegetters have all given their local connections confidence that similar performances might occur in their upcoming starts. The trotting ranks are gradually strengthening again in Gippsland and Phil Ellery will be hoping his next winner is not too far away. His last success before Wednesday was with Carlewis at Moonee Valley in September 1998, although he has not had a lot of horses race since. Fellow local horseman Ray Mathews bred Just Hold On, raced by Phil and his partner Trish Lammens. The pair also secured a $1500 Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club bonus as lucky owners in one of the Sports Club's sponsored races last Wednesday. Talented junior reinsman Darby McGuigan will no doubt rank Warragul as his favourite track after a driving double on Wednesday. McGuigan, who drove two winners at the February meeting, after a further winner at the season opening program in December, steered Gozo Beach and Gozo Lighting to victory for trainer Bill Galea. Cranbourne trainer Jayne Davies produced the quinella in the third race with Soho Beijing beating Ravello Rock. Winning connections also received a $1500 VHRSC owners bonus for their win. Bongiorno Boys showed a welcome return to form in winning the first race for trainer Beau Tindale and driver Michael Bellman, while Graeme and Gavin Lang combined with Warminster to gain a narrow victory in the final event. Harness racing fans in Gippsland are now beginning to count down to the biggest day for the year at Warragul with the Pacing Bowl Cup meeting next along on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 16. Kyle Galley

Zac Phillips is one of the most popular young drivers in Australia and now he’s one of the most wanted as well. Phillips broke through for his first Group 1 win on Une Belle Allure at Melton last Saturday night and found the perfect way to celebrate … with another Group 1 win 30 minutes later on Red Hot Tooth later. Then, just for good measure, he backed-up to add the Wangaratta Cup aboard Four Ex Dan yesterday (Sunday). “It’s unbelievable. I’m still pinching myself,” Phillips said. “To win three big races across the weekend for the three stables who most support me is pretty special.” Although Une Belle Allure’s Need For Speed Princess final was Phillips’ first Group 1 win, he said Red Hot Tooth’s Group 1 Breed For Speed Gold final victory was “as good as it gets.” “Of course your first Group 1 is amazing, but to team up with Paul and Kari (Males) for that Group 1 with Red Hot Tooth was extra special because they have been there supporting me and giving me opportunities since I first started driving as a 16 year-old,” Phillips said. Rewarding loyalty also gave an extra edge to Four Ex Dan’s Wangaratta Cup win. “Adam (Kelly, Four Ex Dan’s trainer) is who I worked for when I first started out and his support has been there all the way through,” Phillips said. Sentimentality aside, it was Une Belle Allure’s win which was the most important in Phillips’ career. That’s because the three-year-old filly is part of the Yabby Dams “army” with trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll. With a lavish farm full of regally-bred young trotters, Yabby Dams is poised to dominating trotting ranks. “I’m good mates with Todd Matthews (who works for Yabby Dams) and he put in a word for me a while back, which led to me getting a few drives for them,” Phillips said. “They are already a big force and only going to get much bigger with the stock they have.” Une Belle Allure, one of a staggering six of the 10 runners Golino trained in the race, camped on the leaders, got into the clear on the home bend and nabbed favourite and stablemate Dance Craze to win by nose. Golino trained the first four home with Nieta third and My Chimera fourth. Adam Hamilton

On Thunder Road got back on track with an impressive harness racing win in the Group 1 feature race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Australian trotting's showcase night. Trained and driven by Darren Hancock, the six-year-old Bettor's Delight pacer-cum-trotter restored supporters' faith with  a 2.5m win in the $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. “He’s a lovely horse,” Hancock said. “He went off the rails a little bit in big races, he looked like being good, but he just had a few littles issues. Overall he’s done a great job.” After a win in Ballarat’s E. B. Cochran Trotters Cup the summer looked to be at On Thunder Road’s feet before 10th placings in the V. L. Dullard Trotters Cup and Great Southern Star saw the brakes put on his campaign. A short freshen up was in order and On Thunder Road returned with a vengeance at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. “I’d like to thank (trainer) Wayne Potter, he’s done a lot with him,” Hancock said. “He helped me with him the last couple of weeks. (On Thunder Road) has just got better and better. He’s just so tough.” Sluggish away from gate three, On Thunder Road was led up three-wide, eventually sweeping straight past the breeze position to claim the lead from Clover Mac. Favourite Sunny Ruby settled one-out one-back behind Prince Fearless, who sat outside On Thunder Road as 59.3 seconds lapsed in the first two quarters. On Thunder Road maintained a strong pace through the third quarter (29.0) to spread the field and make it tough for the swoopers. Only Clover Mac, who Kate Gath dove down the sprint lane, threatened down the straight, with Sunny Ruby unable to make ground. On Thunder Road held all the cards and saluted by 2.5m to Clover Mac, with Daryl Boko running into third. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A magical 35 minutes for Melton harness racing driver Zac Phillips also produced a mighty thrill for trainer Kari Males and owner Graham Bullock when Red Hot Tooth captured Group 1 glory at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Phillips first Group 1 triumph on Une Belle Allure was followed quickly by his second when he found the front mid-race and Red Hot Tooth put in a searing performance to win the $50,000 Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final. “Unreal, words can’t describe how this feels right now,” Phillips said. “It’s a little bit surreal, I think I’m going to have to get back into the drivers' rooms and pinch myself. Massive thrill.” They are the high emotions that were shared by Males, who was full of pride for her Yankee Paco four-year-old mare. “She’s an absolute little superstar, I just love her,” Males said. “She’s very casual, she’s like a kids pony half the time, she just plods around half asleep, but when she gets on the track she just does the job.” Nica Macdonon initially held High Gait and Red Hot Tooth at bay, with High Gait directed into the chair while Phillips waited and then had a second crack at the lead when Charming Lavra loomed up on his outside at the bell. “It definitely surprised me the one (Nica Macdonon) holding up early,” Phillips said. “I knew it got out of the gate good, but when Ants came (on Charming Lavra) I was confident (Nica Macdonon) would be happy to sit on me once it had done that little bit of work early. “Once (Red Hot Tooth) found the front she was travelling so good, when Jason (Lee on Heavenly Sister) got up outside her she was just on the bit. She just felt like she was never going to get beat.” After a 58.8s first half she peeled off a 28.7 third quarter and in the final straight she looked a class above, winning by 1.6m to Heavenly Sister with Illawong Helios 10.2m back in third. “She’s just a great little trier,” Phillips said. “When she’s in front she’s hard to get past. “Paul and Kari have been massive support for my career and this horse is unreal. She means the world to me. She was my first winner at Menangle, my first Group winner and my second Group 1 winner. “She’s a different horse as a four-year-old. It was always a worry whether she’d improve from a three-year-old and take the next step, but I definitely think she’s proven this time in that she’s done that.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A big camp’s investment and a young man’s persistence both paid off with Une Belle Allure claiming the $60,000 IRT Need For Speed Prince Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. The victory delivered harness racing driver Zac Phillips his first Group 1 success less than a week after his 21st birthday and capped a dominant performance by trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms. Having qualified six for the $60,000 final for three-year-old trotting fillies, Golino’s crew preceded to fill the first four placings with Une Belle Allure winning by a half-head from favourite Dance Craze, with Nieta 5.7m back in third and My Chimera claiming fourth. “It’s a great thrill,” Golino said. “We worked hard for this, it was a big night, we had a lot of horses in it. It doesn’t always mean that you get the job done, this is satisfying.” That it was his Angus Hall three-year-old who saluted was no surprise to Golino. “I thought she was our best last year as a two-year-old. She had a horrible prep, a few things went wrong, she got sick, she got kicked. We sort of rushed her there and she didn’t probably perform as well as we thought she could. “She’s come back super this season and she’s shown that again tonight.” Phillips guided Une Belle Allure to the front from gate three with Diz Luck on his outside when they settled before Dance Craze joined him at the bell. A 32.3 second quarter sured up the leaders’ control of the race and after a 29.8 third quarter they would have plenty left in the final straight. Dance Craze loomed in Gavin Lang’s hands but Une Belle Allure fought on and when they hit the line a half-head was enough to give Phillips his crowning moment. “It’s a massive thrill. I’ve dreamt of winning a Group 1 for as long as I can remember and to do it on trotting’s night of nights, it really means a lot to me,” Phillips said. “To Anton and the team, for them to give me the opportunity, I really can’t explain how grateful I am to them. “It just shows the quality of people they are, they do a great job with their team and put a lot into the sport.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters has reached the fork in the road. On Saturday night, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix will take place at Tabcorp Park Melton and the harness racing title to be crowned the premier trotter in the southern hemisphere is up for grabs. It’s leg three of the five and there are a number of candidates vying for the top prize. Star New Zealand trotter Monbet took the opening leg with his victory in the Dominion last November while Australian ace Glenferrie Typhoon proved triumphant in the Great Southern Star last month. Neither is competing this weekend. But quality performers Speeding Spur and Sunny Ruby are ideally placed to take control of the Trotting Masters if victorious. Speeding Spur has 60 points while Sunny Ruby has 45 points, both well within reach of co-leaders Monbet and Glenferrie Typhoon who have 100 points. And historically the New Zealand bred performers have a commanding edge in this event. First staged in 2001, star local mare La Coocaracha proved successful before the Kiwi’s arrived in force with Take A Moment, Gold N Gold, Allegro Agitato, Sundons Gift, Vulcan, Stent and Keytsone Del all proving successful. Joining La Coocaracha as Australian bred winners are Sumthingaboutmaori, A Touch Of Flair and I Didn’t Do It. There are four Australian bred trotters competing this year in the shape of Glenferrie Burn, Maorisfavouritesun, Vincennes and El Paco while Itz Not Dark Yet is listed as the emergency. The remainder of the field is New Zealand bred with Daryl Boko being Finnish bred. The Chris Lang trained and driven Sundons Gift is the most successful trotter in the races history winning it four straight times (2007/10) while Stent went back to back in 2014/15 but reigning champion Keystone Del won’t get the opportunity to defend his crown owing to setbacks. However, Speeding Spur gets the opportunity to go one better after finishing a gallant second behind Keystone Del in track record time last year. Three mares have won the Grand Prix with La Coocaracha, Sumthingaboutmaori and Allegro Agitato the most recent when successful back in 2005. Representing the fairer sex this year is Sunny Ruby, Glenferrie Burn and KD Muscles. Leading reinsman Anthony Butt is chasing his third victory in the event when he takes the drive behind Sunny Ruby following his previous triumphs with Take A Moment and Keystone Del. And Sunny Ruby looms as the horse to beat given her recent form; the Sonya Smith trainee has won 4 of her 5 starts on Australian soil including last week’s Gr.1 Knight Pistol at Cranbourne while she also prepares Daryl Boko. Also duly represented is Andy Gath (Clover Mac & KD Muscles), Anton Golino (Glenferrie Burn & Vincennes) and Mattie Craven (El Paco & Uncas). New South Wales trotter On Thunder Road will command respect along with the Nicole Molander trained Prince Fearless. Leading trainer David Aiken prepares Maorisfavouritesun. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will head back to New Zealand for the two remaining legs of the series with the ANZAC Cup followed by the Canam Rowe Cup in late April. Both events will take place at Alexandra Park, Auckland. Chris Barsby

STAR Kiwi trotter Speeding Spur will have to overcome a tricky draw when he returns to Melton to chase another Group 1 win on Saturday night.  In contrast, another classy Kiwi trotter Sunny Ruby looks the main threat on the strength of her recent fantastic form and a favourable barrier (gate four) in the $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m).  Speeding Spur has drawn barrier seven, but will come into six if emergency Its Not Dark Yet doesn’t gain a start.  Speeding Spur and Sunny Ruby ran second and respectively when they last met in the Group 1 Great Southern Star behind Glenferrie Typhoon on Hunter Cup night.  Glenferrie Typhoon has since succumbed to injury and been spelled.  Sunny Ruby, now in the care of Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt, has gone on to post three wins, two of them at Group 1 level.  Although Andy and Kate Gath don’t have Glenferrir Typhoon in the feature, they have two runners in former Kiwi mares Clover Mac (gate one) and K D Muscles (12).  The other Kiwi flavour in the race comes with Daryl Boko and Prince Fearless.  Daryl Boko, who has been switched from Tim Butt to Sonya Smith for an extended Aussie campaign, has gate two.  The enigmatic Prince Fearless was transferred from the All Stars’ barn to Nicole Molander after winning a support race on Hunter Cup night and has gate six this week.  Molander also has a strong hand in another of the features, the $50,000 Group 1 Breed For Speed Gold final (1720m) with High Gait from barrier three.  The main threats look to be Red Hot Tooth (gate three), Sky Petite (eight) and Heavenly Sister (10).  Also of note is the enormous growing influence of Yabby Dams owner Pat Driscoll and his private trainer Anton Golino.  They have a staggering seven of the 11 runners in the $60,000 Need For Speed Princess final for three-year-old trotting fillies.  Golino has repeatedly said Dance Craze, to be driven by Gavin Lang, is the pick of his fillies when she does everything right. Adam Hamilton

Harness racing trainer Anton Golino baulks at the thought of ranking his three-year-old trotting fillies, but he is categorical on one point. Dance Craze is his best. The Cardigan horseman dominated the heats of the Need for Speed Princess at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, finishing first and second in both. But it was the run of fourth placed Dance Craze in heat one that caught the eye most, the daughter of champion mare La Coocaracha and super sire Muscle Hill producing an enormous performance after missing the start. “It was a massive run,” Golino said. “A little bit of interference leading up to the gait was enough to put her off last night, which was unfortunate. “She is the best of them (my fillies) though. I think she can develop into a really, really good horse.” Dance Craze charged to the line behind stablemates Nieta and My Chimera, who ran 1-2, with Iona Spider for trainer Shane Hall and driver Jodi Quinlan winding up third after leading. Nieta rated 1:58.1 winning for Nathan Jack, finishing a head in front of My Chimera (Zac Phillips), the pair storming to the line together. “She showed a world of ability as a two-year-old and this time in has really learnt to settle. It’s a credit to Gavin (Lang) who drives for us in the trials. He’s really got her to settle and that’s helped her a lot,” Golino said of Nieta. “We’re very lucky Gavin is able to educate these horses for us in the trials and teach them to be racehorses. “Nathan said last night if anything Nieta was a bit lazy, which is good because she was not pulling. “My Chimera has surprised us a little bit. She tied up badly at Ballarat and didn’t want to go at all, really. Then, since winning at Charlton she hasn’t put a foot wrong.” Heat two was another Golino special with Une Belle Allure (Angus Hall-Glenferrie Unixa) producing a 1:56.9 rate first-up to overhaul impressive newbie Ima Bourbon Girl by 1.6m. Driven by Zac Phillips, who finished with a winning double after piloting Majestic Moves (Majestic Son-Kwik Kiss) home at big odds in the Aldebaran Park Handicap, Une Belle Allure looked every bit the beautiful mover as she boomed down the outside. Having just her second start, Ima Bourbon Girl (Sam Bourbon-Lough Neagh) led from gate four for Gavin Lang. Diz Luck finished third for trainer-driver Gavin Smith from the pole. The Group 1 IRT Need for Speed Princess Final will be run on Saturday night, March 11, part of a huge four Group 1 program. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Bad Boy Brad’s ascension continued on Saturday night in front of a large harness racing crowd at Tabcorp Park Melton, taking out the 2017 Exclusive Homes Maltese Cup. The Diane Giles trained six-year-old produced a withering sprint for driver Lance Justice to capture the silverware in a stirring four-way finish, with first through to fourth separated by not much more than a long head. The Gunbower Cup winner has already won six races from 21 starts this season, Bad Boy Brad’s assessment climbing from C7-M0 to M3-C12. Video: Re-live Bad Boy Brad's Maltese Cup win Bad Boy Brad (Righteous Hanover-Bubbas Babe) rated 1:54.1 to overhaul south-west Victorian pair Jivin Cullen (trained by Brad Hunt and driven by Glen Craven) in a photo finish officially by a half-head, with a head further back to Roy George (Matthew Craven) and another head to Upanatom (David Aiken/Mark Pitt) in fourth. Bad Boy Brad launched late down the outside against a 27.7 last quarter and a 28 secs third split and looks destined for bigger assignments again. Long Forest husband and wife team Andy and Kate Gath secured a winning double and three second placings for the night, successful with trotters Clover Mac (Dream Vacation-Clover Lass) in the SEW Eurodrive Trotters Handicap in 2:00.3 from the 2240-metre standing start and Posseidon (Fling It-Maori Acacia) in the Rayner Real Estate 3YO Trot over 1720m in 1:59.8. Click here to view all results from Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night Click here to listen to the winning drivers on HRV YouTube  Cody Winnell

This was a weird Victoria Derby.  Most watching spent the middle stages of the race in disbelief as Mark Purdon eased the most dominant heat winner and $1.40 favourite, Vincent, out of the race.  Vincent always needed a little luck after drawing the worst possible barrier (eight, inside back row). Well, at least he needed no bad luck.  The race was over for the regally-bred son of Art Major when, soon after Purdon was able to extricate himself from being stuck on the inside, the pace slackened up front and the horse trailing him, Blue Moon Rising, crashed into his sulky and burst a tyre.  You could see a startled Purdon look around immediately and, after assessing, the problem he eased Vincent out of the $200,000 race.  While all of this was happening, last season’s Breeders Crown 2YO champion A Little General pounced on the lead and driver Chris Alford slowed the pace to a dawdling 46.8sec lead time. That’s as so as you’d ever see them go in a feature race.  In a stop-start affair, maybe caused by everyone looking, wondering and waiting to see where Vincent was, Alford still keep cruising with a 61sec middle half.  Vincent’s stablemate Motu Meteor made the early move to sit parked and loomed as the main threat to Our Little General, but the leader packed too much speed, dashed home in 54.7 and 26.6sec to win by 4.1m from Motu Meteor with John McCarthy’s Astride a close-up third.  For all of the top young horses Emma Stewart and Clayton have trained, this was their first Victoria Derby win.   “He’s been a pleasant surprise to be honest, but we’ll certainly take it,” Tonkin said. “Given how small he is, we thought he might not go on, he doesn’t look like a Derby horse, but he’s got one on the board now.  “He’s such a pro and always puts himself into the race. When he got that slow a lead time, I knew he’d be hard to beat.  “Vincent may well have been too good, but the way the race was run and the slow lead time our guy got, it would’ve taken something special from Vincent to come around the field and beat us.”  Tonkin savoured the win with some of the stable’s most loyal owners, which included well-known Aussie racing media man Andrew Bensley.   The co-trainer was also left wondering what might have been with the stable’s best three-year-old The Storm Inside, who is rated vastly superior to Our Little General, but sidelined by injury.  “He’s a bit special. It’s a shame he wasn’t here, but we’ll get him back and then you’ll see why we are so excited about him,” Tonkin said.  Motu Meteor, who will stay in Victoria with Kerryn Manning and Grant Campbell, fought on well for second and is maturing with every race start.  Adam Hamilton

RIVAL harness racing trainer Shane Tritton was the most interested onlooker as Lazarus worked a lot harder than expected to win the the Group 1 4YO Bonanza at Melton last night (Saturday).  It booked Lazarus his spot in next week’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire, but also raised some queries about the pin-up horse of Australasia.   As he has done a few times before, Lazarus appeared to struggle at top speed rounding the final bend in a race.  But, as great horses do, he found a way to come deep and win, which most others found impossible with the pattern of racing last night.  Tritton, who trains the Chariots second favourite Salty Robyn, is big on homework and will have carefully noted Lazarus’s battle on the final bend.  When you have won the NZ Cup by a record margin and the Victoria Cup, dropping back to race your own age should be stroll in the park.  Tritton isn’t so sure that will be the case for Lazarus at Menangle next Saturday night.  In fact, the always upbeat and confdent Tritton thinks he can beat him with his emerging star Salty Robyn.  Salty Robyn goes ino the Chariots having won his past 10 starts.  And he has run time, too. Salty Robyn’s PB is a 1min49.2sec mile and that was sitting parked.  Tritton think he can much quicker if needed.  Facts say that will be needed to test or beat Lazarus.  That’s because Lazarus’ trainer Mark Purdon thinks he can run a faster mile than his stablemate Have Faith In Me, who paced 1min47.5sec beating Lennytheshark in last year’s Miracle Mile.  If Salty Robyn has any hope, the barriers need to go his way and he needs to stay in front of Lazarus.  “I’m so looking forward to it. My horse could not have had a better build-up and he’s ready to fly. Lazarus won’t get this race on a platter,” Tritton said.  Tritton will have two Chariots runners with his emerging Anything For Love also making the field.  Purdon and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen will have three runners with Our Waikiki Beach and Lets Chase The Dream joining Lazarus.  Lets Chase The Dream showed he was primed with another dominant win at Menangle last night.  Despite sitting parked for much of the race, Lets Chase The Dream controlled the race from the “death” and dashed home in 55.3 and 26.7sec for a 1min52.2sec mile. It followed a 1min49.9sec win a week earlier.  Adam Hamilton

Persistence and patience blended with talent to see Glenferrie Typhoon win the Pryde’s Easifeed $300,000 Great Southern Star, a super harness racing training and driving performance by Andy and Kate Gath. After a season plagued by disappointing runs, Glenferrie Typhoon’s undoubted talent spilled on to Tabcorp Park Melton with a blistering run, stopping the clock at a 1:58.0 mile rate, 1.5 seconds under the old track record. The all-the-way win gifted the $300,000 feature, the richest trotting race in Australasia, to a proud group of owners and a triumphant local stable. “It’s a huge thrill,” Andy Gath said. “I know he had the draw and everything, but he still had to do it. “I’ve always had a great affinity with the trotters and they have really emerged in Victoria, there are so many good trotters around and it’s such a great race to win and great to have it on like this with the Hunter Cup. Such a big night and it’s a huge thrill.” Sharing that delight was his wife, Kate Gath, who had been put through the ringer as Glenferrie Typhoon battled to re-find form. The Majestic Son gelding ran second in this feature last year amid an outstanding run, made all the meritorious by the fact he was suffering from a bladder stone. He resumed late in 2016 but two poor performances saw him tipped out for another spell. A sixth placing in The George Gath at Shepparton preceded a win against far more modest competition at Melton on January 30, when Glenferrie Typhoon appeared to switch off and have his considerable lead gobbled up.  “He’s done my head in over the last couple of months, I did everything I could to get him trotting,” Kate Gath said. “I haven’t conceded. I tried a few different things again on Monday and he couldn’t trot it out up the straight. I didn’t know what else to do, I know he’s got the ability and thank goodness we got it right on the night that we needed to get it right on.” From gate one Glenferrie Typhoon held off Maori Time’s advance to find the front, but the pressure was persistent with one challenger after the next coming to the breeze to press forward. Josh Dickie then guided favourite and reigning champion Speeding Spur on to Glenferrie Typhoon’s back and when they hit the straight it became a race in two. “If I got a lot of pressure I was going to play it by ear and see how I felt, but he just travelled so good the whole way I couldn’t hand handed up if I wanted too,” Kate Gath said. “When Speeding Spur got on my back I thought “oh no, this isn’t good, this wasn’t part of the plan”. “(Glenferrie Typhoon) was just travelling so well the whole way. When I got to the corner he was still travelling and I know he can get a bit hot in the straight and I thought, all right, we’re going to run now, they are going to have their chance but they are going to have to catch me.” And in the match-race between Glenferrie Typhoon and Speeding Spur it was the Victorian who held on by a half-neck. “His ability’s always been there, we know how good he is, so it’s just fantastic that he was able to get the job done tonight,” Kate Gath said. “All the owners are here, absolutely over the moon.” Sunny Ruby ran a brave third for Sam Smolenski, having been the best runner from deep to finish 9m shy of the leader. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Our Little General (Mach Three-Kabbalah Karen) caused a minor harness racing upset by taking out this year’s $200,000 Victoria Derby on Hunter Cup night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Last season’s Breeders Crown winning two-year-old rated 1:56.8 to beat a Mark Purdon trained pacer, not the $1.40 All Stars favourite Vincent, but the $25.60 shot Motu Meteor driven by Grant Campbell. Vincent copped a bad flat tyre and had to be pulled out of the race at the mile mark, much to the chagrin of punters. All the while Our Little General was in front, out of trouble, making his own luck for champion reinsman Chris Alford. The General pumped out quarters of 30.3, 30.7, 28.1 and 26.6, Alford looking around at the bell, no doubt wondering where his much vaunted opponent was. Trained by Victoria’s leading trainer, champion horsewoman Emma Stewart, Our Little General has now earnt over $360,000 in stakemoney. “He’s a great little horse,” Alford said. “Emma and (partner) Clayton (Tonkin) do a great job. I went in with confidence, not that I could beat the favourite, but that he would run a great race. “When he kicked on the turn he was really strong.” Motu Meteor ran second, beaten 4.1m, while Luke McCarthy guided Astride into third.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Hunter Cup night is Victoria’s biggest harness racing meeting and one of Australia’s major racedays. Our Aussie correspondent ADAM HAMILTON casts his eye over the major races at Melton on Saturday night. HUNTER CUP – RACE 8 Going with LENNYTHESHARK (13) at the better value than SMOLDA (9). One of the two should win. Thought Lenny savaged the line well in last 50m at Ballarat and will strip a lot fitter. Will be a fascinating tactical battle with both drawn the back row. BLING IT ON (5) is the other class runner. Strong effort when did plenty of work for third in Vic Cup last week. Next best is the much-improved ALLBLACK STRIDE (3) who smashed the clock in Vic Cup when fifth. Has the speed to use good draw. HUG THE WIND (11) is a blowout chance on his strong recent NZ form. SUGGESTED BET: Lennytheshark (13) to win at $3.80 or better VICTORIA DERBY – RACE 4 Not even the worst possible draw (gate eight) stops me thinking VINCENT (8) will just win. You’d never see a more impressive Derby heat winner than him last week. He’ll have to earn it from draw as it’s likely he will snag right back and settle a mile from the leaders. Looks a star. WRAPPERS DELIGHT (1) is a big improver and had no luck last week. Main danger from pole. OUR LITTLE GENERAL (2) will be fitter for first-up run last week and drawn to use his early speed. MOTU METEOR (12) and BE JACKS LEGEND (10) won their heats and have claims despite back row. SUGGESTED BET: Vincent to win is $1.60 or better GREAT SOUTHERN STAR – RACE 6 Going for a blowout with WA trotter CARDIGAN BOKO (4) at big odds. Top run from impossible position last week and drawn to use his gate speed this time. Worth an each-way ticket. Defending champ SPEEDING SPUR (5) is the one to beat, but has to be some query on his fitness after just one (terrific) run back from injury and long spell. Can’t take odds-on. ON THUNDER ROAD (2) was always in trouble crossed from the pole last week. Big threat from more suitable draw. QUITE A MOMENT (11), GREAT THINGS HAPPEN (10) and SUNNY RUBY (13) have claims with any luck from back row. SUGGESTED BET: Cardigan Boko each-way at $12 or better LADYSHIP CUP – RACE 3 IMPOSSIBLE to tip against Mark Purdon’s A PICCADILLY PRINCESS (4). No luck in last two Perth runs, then won both Victorian runs, albeit in slightly easier grade, in style and running times. Drawn well, should be too good. BERISARI (5) is a tough and class mare. Suited here, the main threat. ROCKER BAND (7) blasted through along the inside to win a weaker race here last week. Draw hurts, but has the class. MILLY PEREZ (11) is flying, but outside back row over 1720m makes it hard. SUGGESTED BET: A Piccadilly Princess to win if $1.60 or better 4YO BONANZA – RACE 9 Non contest – it’s all LAZARUS (2) back against his own age. Only interest in the times and margins. THREE WAYS (8) ran second to Lazarus in the Victoria Derby at this meeting last year and continued to improve since. Needs luck from inside back row, but is second-best horse in the race. BRALLOS PASS (9) ran a huge second to Three Ways here then disappointed at Menangle last week. Place chance on best form. Place hopes also to ROCK OF AMERICA (1) and BATTLE BORN (4). SUGGESTED BET: Brallos Pass the place at $2.80 or better SUMMARY BEST BET: R5 n11 Hughie Green – loved his massive second on debut for new trainer-driver John Cremin at Ballarat last Friday. Looks well graded despite outside back row draw. Like him at $2.20 or better BEST VALUE: R7 n1 Glenferrie Burn – nice trotter who can cause the minor upset over High Gait. Hoping for $3.50 or better   BEST ROUGHIE: R6 n4 Cardigan Boko – as outlined above HRNZ News

The scene has been set for a magnificent Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton after an outstanding fortnight of harness racing. The PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup set the foundation for a magnificent TAB Summer of Glory, which began with last weekend's Eynesbury Victoria Cup. Grand circuit superstars Lazarus, Smolda and Lennytheshark performed superbly to finish 1-2-3 in the Group 1 Ballarat cup. The 2015 (Lennytheshark) and 2016 (Smolda) Inter Dominion winners then sat out Victoria Cup night but the third of the equine jets set Tabcorp Park alight. Lazarus - with his group of loyal and prominent owners in attendance - destroyed a talented Victoria Cup field, obliterating the cup record and becoming just the fourth four-year-old to win the $400,000 race. I was on track to see Mark Purdon's protégé crush his rivals in the Victorian Derby 12 months earlier and the strong on-track crowd once again stood and applauded as Lazarus strolled past the post for a dominant win. I couldn't help but wish I owned him, which is where Sunday's APG yearling sales may come into consideration! The entire Victoria Cup night was sensational. The racing immense as Purdon put on a driving and training clinic to collect five victories in the cart, four of which were trained under his and partner Natalie Rasmussen's guidance. In a race that may have escaped the attention of some, I was eagerly watching the action in race three as my mare, Highview Christina, regained some form and at any old odds ($28 the place) rumbled home for a gallant third. Despite being known to put in the odd average run, I look forward to seeing how 'Apples' goes in Saturday's final of the Rising Stars Pace. Vic Cup night was something special, on and off the track, but Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup night promises to be even better! Five Group 1 races, with question marks everywhere thanks to some challenging draws to the favourites and a grand old warrior on the quest to repeat his 2016 Hunter Cup victory. In the last edition of the stand start, Smolda fought off fellow Kiwi Ohoka Punter for the bulk of the $500,000 kitty. But, arguably Smolda's greatest rival is back. After overcoming some issues in the Inter Dominion, Lennytheshark looks ripe for the Cup, despite drawing worse than Smolda's gate nine (Lenny will nearly drag driver Chris Alford across my feet as he begins from gate 13). New Zealanders Vincent, Speeding Spur, A Piccadilly Princess and Lazarus are all favourites to collect the other four Group 1s but there are more than enough locals to keep some of the big trophies on our soil. Away from the races, Collingwood AFL Women's superstar Moana Hope will be fresh off her AFLW debut and will be signing footballs and taking photos. So, five Group 1 races, my own horse in a Group 3, the sport's megastar rolling around at $1.04 plus entertainment, great food and a great crowd - the finale to the 2017 Summer of Glory is guaranteed to be amazing! I'll see you all there (and IF Highview Christina wins, it's my shout in the owners’ tent)! by Josh Jenkins Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 04 February 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 04 February 2017

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