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The All Stars Harness Racing Stables juggernaut is really hitting top gear this week with horses racing in Group  races on both sides of the Tasman.   Over the course of Thursday through Sunday, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will line up 23 horses at five race meetings from Addington to Menangle and most of those runners have a big winning chance.   Most interest will centre on Our Waikiki Beach in the A$322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final at Menangle on Sunday where after drawing barrier one and the withdrawal through injury of his biggest danger in Goodtime Sammy, Our Waikiki Beach looks incredibly hard to beat.   On the same programme the All Stars barn has the rejuvenated pacer Our Smolda lining up in the Len Smith mile and while Beautide is a deserving favourite, Smolda will test him in his present form.   At Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, the All Stars barn has two runners and both are big winning chances.   The smart two year old filly MacKenzie goes round in the $30,000 semi finals of the Australian Pacing Gold while the outstanding three year old colt Follow The Stars goes around in the $25,000 Caduceus Club Cup.   On the other side of the Tasman, the All Stars barn is represented at three meetings in New Zealand with runners in all of the big races.   At Addington on Thursday night the top two year old Chase The Dream lines up in a $25,000 heat of the New Zealand Sires Stakes which is notable for the New Zealand debut of the very smart Shane Tritton trained Salty Robyn.   Later on in the evening on Thursday night the All Stars barn is lining up Fight For Glory, Classical Art, Supersonic Miss and Linda Lovegrace in a heat of the Nevele R Fillies series and with those four top fillies involved they should dominate the race.   At Alexandra Park on Friday night, the All Stars barn have ten runners involved starting with Prince Fearless and Arya in the $80,000 Great Northern Trotting Derby in which for once the All Stars duo are probably only running for place money against Speeding Spur and Monbet.   The All Stars barn has four runners in the $150,000 Sires Stakes final for two year old fillies and three of them look big winning chances.   The unbeaten half sister to Christen Me in Dream About Me looks very hard to beat but her stiffest competition is likely to come from her stablemates Arden's Choice and Northern Velocity.   In the $100,000 New Zealand Messenger, the All Stars barn has two runners who are both big winning chances in Border Control and Isaiah.   That is followed by King Denny in the $150,000 Rowe Cup in which he looks to be a good each way chance and then in the last race of the night they have Willow, who on last weeks winning run would look a good thing in this race.   On Sunday the All Star barn have four runners in Petite One, Kept Under Wraps, Light Fingered and The Manipulator in grade races and going by their last start efforts, all four would be big winning chances.   Looking at that list of starters over five meetings in two countries with a lot of the races carrying Group status is just another reminder if one was needed of what an outstanding training partnership Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are.   Harnesslink Media  

Outstanding New Zealand harness racing youngster Follow The Stars will make a hit-and-run mission to Melton on Friday night. Successful at Penrith last week, the pacer was sent south by trainer Mark Purdon in a bid to cover his travel costs. Follow The Stars was brought across the Tasman to accompany his open class stablemate, Smolda, which is in Australia for next week’s Len Smith Mile. “There were a couple of suitable races for him, so I thought he may as well come over with Smolda,” Purdon said. “After his run at Melton he will head back home, where I will keep him ticking along.” Although Follow The Stars will return to the Shaky Isles this weekend, Purdon declared the son of Art Major will be back Victoria in June. “He has the Vicbred later in the season, so I will be bring him back for that,” Purdon explained. As for his latest assignment, Follow The Stars is expected to make a one-act affair of the Caduceus Club Cup. Drawn perfectly in barrier three, the colt should have no trouble leading throughout the 2240-metre trip. “It’s only a small field and he appears to be the standout on paper, but there are a couple of handy ones in the race,” Purdon said. “He still has to get out there and get the job done.” PAUL COURTS

The pecking order amongst the three year old harness racing fillies in Victoria has become a lot clearer after Niki No No’s Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks win has again moved the Kari Males-trained filly to the top of her age group charts.   The three-year-old by Sportswriter out of Benelise thundered home along the sprint lane to claim the lion’s share of the $150,505 and the Oaks trophy in the 2240-metre race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.   Driven by reinsman Greg Sugars, Niki No ($4.40) began fast from barrier two and crossed polemarker Keayang Ebonyrose (Jason Lee, $75.30) but was herself crossed by early race favourite Makes Every Scents (Luke McCarthy, $6), who fired out from gate six.   The $2.60 favourite Delightful Lana moved up to the breeze for Dexter Dunn from gate four before Amanda Turnbull made a move aboard Glenferrie Bronte ($7), working to the chair and giving Delightful Lana cover.   After posting a lead time of 46 seconds, Makes Every Scents paced through her first and second quarters in 31.7 and 30.5secs before the mustard was added 800m out, when Glenferrie Bronte eyeballed the leader and heat winner Sudden Change (Gavin Lang, $16.40) was making her run out three-wide from the back of the field, trailed up by Morton Plains (Chris Alford, $19.70).   The third quarter was covered in 27.5secs, Niki No No enjoying a cold sit on the two pacemakers as the field swung the final bend.   Makes Every Scents carried Niki No No right to the sprint lane and once the Kari Males trained Vicbred 2YO Final winner of last season got the run it was basically game over.   The last quarter was clocked at 28.9secs, Niki No No coming away to win by 2.8 metres in a mile rate of 1:58.3, Makes Every Scents holding on for second and Glenferrie Bronte battling on gamely for third beaten 3.2m.   Morton Plains worked home gamely down the outside to be beaten 4.6m, with Miss Riviera Belle (Lauren Panella, $13.60) also hitting the line hard for fifth beaten 5.3m.   As mentioned Niki No No won the Vicbred Final as a two-year-old, and although she finished fourth in the Breeders Crown Final, it is worth noting she was the first Australian filly home on that occasion behind Kiwis Katy Perry, Joannes A Delight and Cyclone Kate.   Emma Stewart-trained filly Delight Me was unfortunately ruled out of Oaks calculations before the heats, so we’ll never know, but Niki No No’s record in big races is virtually flawless and as such a strong case can quite rightly be argued for why she is the best filly of her age group in Victoria.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Queensland continued on their winning way last night. A team of six from the sunshine state took on Team Victoria in a harness racing junior drivers challenge at TABCORP Park Melton in a two race series. The Queensland team was made up of Hayden Barnes, Brittany Graham, Dannielle & Narissa McMullen, Trent Moffat and Amy Rees. Team Victoria comprised of Josh Aiken, Alex Ashwood, Haydon Gray, Mark Pitt, Jason Lee and Zac Phillips. It was a clean sweep for the Queensland team. Heat one went the way of Dannielle McMullen who took the winning drive aboard the Peter Thompson trained Our El Fuego in a time of 1;57.8 in the 2240m event. Placing’s were filled by fellow Queenslanders Narissa McMullen (Our Summer Wind), Trent Moffat (Mister Rufus) and Hayden Barnes (Brite Spark Lombo). Our El Fuego was the rank outsider and returned a dividend of $61.50. Heat two went the way of Hayden Barnes (Jambiani) who defeated Trent Moffat (Bushi) and Brittany Graham (Clarenden Daydream) in a time of 2;00.9 for the 2240m journey. Following a countback, the individual winner of the series was Hayden Barnes who beat Trent Moffat. “It was a great result for Queensland with a clean sweep and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they showcased their talents on foreign soil. It was great to see them catch up with friends while making new contacts; hopefully this helps them going forward,” Queensland Team Captain Kevin Seymour said. “I would like to thank Harness Racing Victoria and all of the trainers who supported the series, it’s about gaining experience and making them better and this is a great opportunity to do this.” Seymour added. In three series to date, Queensland has a perfect record after inflicting defeats over New South Wales, New Zealand and now Victoria. The winning form of Hayden Barnes continues with victories at Alexandra Park, Auckland late last year with Millie Sampson and then again last night at Melton with Jambiani. Seymour is now eyeing off a series against South Australian in the coming months. by Chris Barsby

With several features on the wonderful program, Saturday night’s meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton will also send enthusiasts on a trip back in time. One of the highlights of the evening is the Captain Sandy Free-For-All, which is named in honour of the former outstanding pacer. A New Zealand-bred performer of the highest calibre, Captain Sandy thrilled enthusiasts on both sides of the Tasman during the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Foaled in 1942, Captain Sandy was triumphant in numerous top shelf events and became the industry’s first dual Inter Dominion winner. In fact, it was his 1950 success in the Melbourne-based series – the first held in Victoria – that is catalyst for this week’s honour. The $20,275 race is part of a series dedicated to Melbourne Inter Dominion winners. Prepared by Jock Bain, Captain Sandy had a tumultuous campaign during the prestigious Championship. Driven in his heats by Freeman Holmes, Captain Sandy finished a gallant fourth on the opening night after coming from a 24-yard handicap in a qualifier won by Avian Derby. On the second night, the seven-year-old was poised to strike at the 800-metre mark when he was checked. Losing 100 yards as a result, Captain Sandy recovered for a respectable seventh in a field of 13. The backmarker in the last round, Captain Sandy was an eye-catching third behind South Australian, Nevamaid, and Jack Hope. With his status as the fastest mile rate runner, Captain Sandy scraped into the 10,000 pound Final as the lowest points earner. Holmes, however, wasn’t as lucky. The top reinsman was disqualified for three months after causing interference to raging favourite, Claude Derby, which won his first two heats. Claude Derby suffered an injury in his offside fore fetlock, which saw him miss the decider. Holmes appealed the stewards’ decision, but not only was it dismissed, his sentence was doubled. Top New South Wales driver Jack Watts got the call up to partner Captain Sandy just hours before the scheduled starting time. Watts certainly made the most of his phenomenal opportunity in front of a record crowd of more than 36,000. Beginning well from the tapes, Captain Sandy settled near the tail of the field as Dawn Volo worked to the lead. With Globe Direct taking over the front with 900 metres to travel, Captain Sandy was angled to the extreme outside along the back straight. Coming with a sensational run, Captain Sandy grabbed the lead in the last stride to score by a head from Globe Direct, with Sprayman three yards away third. The son of Sandydale rated 2:11.8 for the 2800-metre trip. Winner of two Auckland Cups before his Inter Dominion triumph, Captain Sandy failed to register another success in the two years after his biggest triumph. He did manage to make his way into the 1951 Addington Final, but missed the 1952 running. Midway through 1952 Captain Sandy was all but retired when Adelaide trainer Dinny Nolan purchased him for 525 guineas. Captain Sandy was rejuvenated under Nolan’s care, where he became one of the most travelled pacers of all time. Competing in Sydney in early 1953, Captain Sandy was then floated to Perth for the Inter Dominion. Finishing fourth on the opening night, the 10-year-old was second behind New South Wales star, Ribands, during an action-packed second round when driven by Holmes. Racing in the breeze as Ribands set the pace, Captain Sandy was blamed for keeping local hero, Beau Don, in a pocket. Just after the line, Beau Don placed a hoof in Ribands’ sulky, with both falling to the track. Fans were so infuriated by the incident that they crowded Captain Sandy’s and Ribands’ stalls, with police called in to monitor the situation. So worried about the threat of violence, and the prospect of his topliner being poisoned, owner Mr Kelloway hired armed guards to mind Ribands. With Bob Pollock taking the reins during the third night, Captain Sandy finished second behind Ribands. Partnered by Pollock in the Final, Captain Sandy began swiftly from his 24-yard mark to settle midfield as Ribands worked to the lead. Weaved through the pack along the back straight, Captain Sandy was ready to pounce on the home turn. Responding to vigorous driving, Captain Sandy lifted close to the line to score by a yard-and-a-half from Ribands, with Kellett three yards away third. Rating a track record 2:05.8 for the 2600-metre trip, Captain Sandy was now the Southern Hemisphere’s richest standardbred with earnings of more than 35,000 pounds. Captain Sandy also created history by winning a second Inter Dominion and remains the only 10-year-old to secure the Final. Two nights after his sensational win, Captain Sandy time-trialled at Gloucester Park in 1:59. He was pitted against the clock again a few nights later to lower his mark to 1:57.5. The times have never been officially recognized as the pacemaker headed the veteran on both occasions. Towards the end of the season, Captain Sandy time-trialled at Harold Park, stopping the clock in 2:02.2 and at Whyalla in 2:04. As an 11-year-old Captain Sandy was again victim of the handicapping system, with one of his rare wins coming at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds from a 72-yard mark. Transferred to A J Howard the following year, Captain Sandy qualified for the 1954 Adelaide Inter Dominion Final. The old warhorse finished a worthy fourth behind Tennessee Sky. Captain Sandy was then moved to the Claude Tupper team at Bankstown, where he won the 1954 Easter Cup at Harold Park from a 36-yard handicap. Captain Sandy was retired soon after, with his earnings tipping over the 40,000 pounds mark. PAUL COURTS

Obviously Victorian harness racing couple Gary and Debbie Quinlan would like to continue their strong affiliation with the rich Australian Pacing Gold series. The duo have captured two of the last three editions of the fillies’ division, scoring with Musical Delight in 2012 and her half-sister, Queen Of Pop, last year. As for this season’s running, the Quinlans annexed both fillies’ heats at Melton last Friday night with Sahara Sunrise and Magical Delight. The latter youngster has become the stable’s sentimental favourite due to the ill-health of breeder Geoff Fothergill. “We’d love to see both fillies win for their owners, but Magical Delight has a bit of a story behind her,” Debbie said. “She was bred by Geoff Fothergill, but sadly due to a kidney disease he’s had to sell his horses. “We happened to be at Benstud and when Gary saw this filly he made an inquiry whether she was up for sale. “Geoff owned her and her dam, Modern Girl, which he loved, but he had to sell them and sold the mare with foal at foot. “Within 10 minutes of her win the other night, Geoff was on the phone congratulating us.” Driven by Chris Alford, Magical Delight impressed at her debut run when accounting for Jilliby Jitterbug and Rockstar Angel in 1:58.2 for the 1720 metres. Also partnered by Alford, Sahara Sunrise rated 1:59.9 to beat Tricka Treat Lombo and Gallifrey Mystique to register her maiden win from five starts. PAUL COURTS

Friday night @ Tabcorp Park Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks heats @ 6pm, 8.30pm and 9.30pm Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies heats @ 10pm and 11.05pm Harness Breeders (Vic) Ian Daff Memorial @ 8pm Saturday night @ Mildura Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup Final @ 9pm Mark Gurry & Associates Cup Final @ 8pm Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas @ 8.30pm Get the full fields and form via harness.org.au   - FEATURE OF THE WEEK - PARK DOUGLAS PRINTING MILDURA PACING CUP FINAL 2600 metres -- mobile start -- $50,275 -- Group 2 1: HOTASEL Trainer: Murray Jardine Driver: Simon Jardine Form comment: Ouyen gelding who qualified for the Cup with a third placing behind Major Crocker and Cut For An Ace in the heat. Drawn for a soft run and could sneak a place with a bit of luck in transit.   2: MAJOR CROCKER Trainer: Vince Vallelonga Driver: Greg Sugars Form comment: Super four-year-old who won his heat by a head over Cut For An Ace. Won last year's 3YO Breeders Crown Final and also swept the Southern Cross Series in South Australia. Drawn to get the pegs and he's the main danger to Arden Rooney for mine. Can he beat the Hunter Cup champ though? Greg Sugars says they're not going out to run second!   3: BEACHSTAR Trainer: Joe Costa Driver: John Justice  Form comment: Won back-to-back races in February and loves Mildura. Should get a nice run here from the good barrier and did defeat Hotasel recently. Place hope.   4: OUR WALDEN BURY (EM1) Trainer: Robert Hyder Driver: Damian Wilson Form comment: He's an honest gelding but form isn't good enough to be winning here if he does gain a start.   5: CUT FOR AN ACE Trainer: Adam Kelly Driver: Zac Phillips Form comment: Big run in the heat to finish a close-up second to Major Crocker. Ultra-consistent seven-year-old who always seems to be around the mark.    6: CHILLI PALMER Trainer: Dean Braun Driver: Gavin Lang Form comment: Sat without cover for the last lap and a half in his heat when third behind Arden Rooney and Lets Elope. Sit-sprint specialist, but seems to have a few extra strings to his bow of late - having sat without cover to win the Gawler Cup recently. He's better than his heat third would suggest and with luck in running he's a knockout chance despite the wide alley.    7: LETS ELOPE Trainer: Brent Lilley Driver: Anthony Butt Form comment: Showed plenty of early speed in the heat and finished second to Arden Rooney. Previous second to Hectorjayjay is good form and stable confident they've got him back to his best. Has to be considered right in the mix.     8: SAINT FLASH Trainer: Glenn Douglas Driver: Ellen Tormey Form comment: Has been solid enough of late but is likely to find this a pretty tough task from the back row.    9: UNCLE WINGNUT Trainer: Joe Costa Driver: Michael Bellman Form comment: Scored a rock-solid win in the Ouyen Cup two runs back and then last time out sat outside the leader and battled away gamely behind Major Crocker. With the right run he's capable of running a mighty race. Include.    10: ARDEN ROONEY Trainer: Kerryn Manning Driver: Kerryn Manning Form comment: Brilliant gelding who has won six straight races, including the Hunter Cup and cups at Terang and Geelong. He's the class runner of the field and on the strength of his form if he's 100 per cent then he'll win.    11: FRANCO LEDGER Trainer: Geoff Webster Driver: Geoff Webster  Form comment: Just racing a shade below what we know he can produce. Didn't fire in his heat at his first go at Mildura. It's a track that you're either suited to or you're not. But you don't write anyone off after just one average effort. This fella won a Group 1 three starts back and if he produces the lightning sprint that carried him to second place in the Hunter Cup then look out when the heat is on!    Tips: 10 Arden Rooney, 2 Major Crocker, 11 Franco Ledger, 6 Chilli Palmer. (By: Cody Winnell)     BIG6 Jackpot TONIGHT @ Melton Get your mates together and have a crack at landing the BIG6 tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The TAB is pumping $20,000 into the BIG6 pool (Races 3-8) with the first leg under way at 7pm.  So get trackside, visit your local TAB outlet, visit the TAB website or bet on your TAB app.      TAB Trots/AFL Special: Round 2 If Adam Cooney kicks one goal or more against Hawthorn this Sunday and Arden Rooney wins the Mildura Pacing Cup on Saturday night, punters who back the Rooney and Cooney TAB Trots/AFL Special will collect! The Tab has put up $2.50 about the double, a great price given many form experts believe Arden Rooney will start long odds-on on Saturday night and Cooney jagged three goals first-up for the Bombers against Sydney last weekend. Access the special online by clicking here, have a crack at the track, at your local TAB outlet or via the TAB app. Have a crack on track this weekend, at your local TAB outlet, online at tab.com.au or on your TAB app.     #Girls #Trots #Oaks #APG The fastest fillies in the trots will clash tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. Three heats of the Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks will pit the best three-year-old girls against one another over 2240m, all vying for a start in the Victoria Oaks final on April 18. And two heats of the rich Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies series will also be decided, while the Harness Breeders (Vic) Ian Daff Memorial will feature open-age female pacers over the 1720-metre short-course trip. READ THE FULL STORY  

Harness racing enthusiasts in Australia have gotten use to the blue with grey stars colours of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen raiding their feature age group races over the last few years and a team of three left New Zealand today on the latest raid Last weekends New Zealand Welcome Stakes winner Waikiki Beach is headed for the heats of the APG  for the colts and geldings at Menangle on April 7th. The impressive looking two year old son of Somebeachsomewhere has the ability to go with the looks and looks set to give the APG series a big shake. Also on the plane to Sydney today with him is the smart filly MacKenzie who made a lovely debut against the best colts in New Zealand in the New Zealand Welcome Stakes, running home late for a close up fourth. The big strapping daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven is held in high regard by the All Stars barn and will kick off her APG campaign in the heats at Melton on April 10th. A late addition to the team heading to Australia was the star three year old Follow The Stars who due to being handicapped as an open class horse in New Zealand has little in the way of suitable races to line up in. Mark Purdon believes the handicapping system in Australia is much more accommodating to a horse like Follow The Stars. "He is an M1 over there and not hard to place." "With so many races being restricted to four year old and over in the grades here in New Zealand, he has few opportunities coming up" Mark said. Mark's son Michael Purdon will be there to greet the team when it arrives on Thursday. Mark flies to Sydney  on Easter Monday  to prepare the three horse team  which will be based at Luke McCarthy's property while in Sydney.. Harnesslink Media  

Glenferrie Bronte has emerged as a serious Victoria Oaks hopeful after a stunning harness racing win in the Harness Breeders (Vic) Trackbred 3YO Classic tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. Trainer/driver Amanda Turnbull set the speed aboard the Changeover / Equus Franco filly after landing the front early from gate three. With Keayang Torah (Glen Craven, $13.10) up eyeballing her in the run, Glenferrie Bronte ($3.10) had to notch quicker sectionals than she would have liked. She covered the first quarter of the last mile in 28.9secs before a 28.8secs second split made it a 57.7secs first half. Glenferrie Bronte kicked clear coming off the back straight with Keayang Torah spitting the dummy after pulling hard. Last season’s Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series champion Niki No No (Greg Sugars, $2.9fav) spotted Glenferrie Bronte the best part of 20 metres at the home bend and was covering ground out wide. Glenferrie Bronte’s third quarter was 29.1secs and she was in top flight on straightening for the run home. Niki No No and Du Vella (Geoff Webster, $8.2), both driven off the speed, were launching late claims – especially Niki No No – but it was to no avail, Turnbull and Glenferrie Bronte clocking a 29.7secs final quarter for a mile rate of 1:56.7 over the 2240m trip, the margin 1.4m between the winner and Niki No No at the post. The victory was Glenferrie Bronte's fourth in six starts. >> Video: Watch Glenferrie Bronte take out the Harness Breeders (Vic) Trackbred 3YO Classic. Du Vella was third ahead of Lovelist (John Caladow, $9.8) in fourth and Union Ally (Grant Campbell, $39.40) in fifth. Delight Me, who would have started a short-priced favourite tonight, was scratched earlier today. by Cody Winnell

WILL ARDEN ROONEY'S WINNING STREAK CONTINUE? Since his Hunter Cup win during the TAB Summer of Glory carnival Kerryn Manning trained and driven Arden Rooney has become "the Cups King". The five-year-old gelding made it three straight cup wins following his Hunter Cup success with victories in the Terang and Geelong pacing cups. Tonight he will line up for five straight wins in the $20,505 2240-metre SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant Free-for-All at Tabcorp Park Melton. But he will have fierce opposition from several talented rivals, including speedy duo Chilli Palmer (drawn pole) and Franco Ledger (barrier nine). Tonight sees a 10-race card at Melton, kicking off at 6.30pm. And don't forget tomorrow night is Girls' Night Out at Cranbourne in support of the Women's Cancer Foundation.  First race of the night tomorrow is 6.20pm.   - FEATURE OF THE WEEK - SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant FFA 2240m mobile start @ Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday night 9.30pm 1: CHILLI PALMER Trainer: Amanda Grieve Driver: Alex Ashwood Form comment: One of the two fastest horses in the race, you'd have to say. He and Franco Ledger both have withering bursts of speed once they're in top flight. The problem here might be the barrier. He's a get-back-run-on horse, so he might find himself buried away on the pegs. The other side of that of course is if he gets that soft three-markers trip and they run along a bit up front, he'll be the fresh horse on the scene bursting home with any sort of luck late, either around the outside or through along the sprint lane. He's a last-start winner and he's top-class at his best, so don't leave him out.   2: SAVESOMTIMETODREAM Trainer: Paul Rowse Driver: Jodi Quinlan Form comment: The general view is that Jodi Quinlan will cross the polemarker with this talented seven-year-old before handing up to Arden Rooney. That would ensure Jodi and Savesomtimetodream would get first use of the sprint lane in the home straight. Can he win? He's coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Melton and Charlton in a FFA and the Charlton Cup. He's got to be more of a place chance, I'd suspect, but I'd never say never with this fella.   3: VILLAGEM Trainer: Glenn Douglas Driver: Glenn Douglas Form comment: Once upon a time he'd be one of the favourites here for sure and certain. Nowadays he's nine years old and his best racing is in the past. However, he's still competitive, as we saw three starts back when he defeated Wartime Sweetheart and Bit Of A Legend on Hunter Cup Night. His Geelong Cup was fair and his Charlton Cup second behind Barynya was also solid given he worked hard out three-wide late. Racing well but not for me against a few of these.    4: KOTARE ROLAND Trainer: Roly Wilson Driver: Neil McCallum Form comment: Not really a factor last weekend in the Echuca Pacing Cup. Wasn't beaten far though. His previous recent form is nowhere near strong enough for him to be entertained as any sort of realistic chance against some of these A-graders. Prefer in something easier at this stage.   5: ARDEN ROONEY Trainer: Kerryn Manning Driver: Kerryn Manning Form comment: Has really turned it on since his Hunter Cup win when 80-1! We'll never see those odds again with him. Made the trip to Swan Hill last start and won easily over Goodtime Marjie. Expect Kerryn Manning to send this fella forward at the start and attempt to find the lead. Once there I'd say he will be allowed to stroll, which seems to be his go. If Savesomtimetodream kicks up I'm tipping there'll be a bit of pressure about. That scenario would open the door for a Chilli Palmer or Franco Ledger late. But I'm tipping it'll be scenario A, with Rooney running to the front, setting the speed to suit himself and winning.      6: METRO MIKE Trainer: Emma Stewart Driver: Gavin Lang Form comment: Super-consistent customer who won back-to-back Melton races recently and was a touch unlucky not to win The Stampede as he paced roughly for a stride turning for home. He still attacked the line in that 1200-metre race and he'll be better suited to this trip. Both Arden Rooney and Franco Ledger prefer it longer, and while both have the class edge on their rivals, and Chilli Palmer always needs a pinch of luck given his racing style, it may open the door for Metro Mike to go close here at nice odds. I'm including him.   7: IT IS BILLY Trainer: Michael Barby Driver: Anne-Maree Conroy Form comment: Last-start winner at Melton when found the lead from gate five and rated 1:56.4 to comfortably defeat runner-up Fiery Achiever. Was first-up from a spell on that occasion so further improvement second-up would not surprise. He's a six-year-old with plenty of upside and despite the wide draw you need to show him respect.     8: LOVABLE LARRIKIN Trainer: Gaita Pullicino Driver: John Caldow Form comment: Has struck top form of late with two impressive wins, one at Bendigo and the other in The Stampede over 1200 metres at Melton. Draws inside-back-row here, following out noted sit-sprinter Chilli Palmer. So he'll get back no doubt and need to repeat his lightning late finishing burst of last start to get the chocolates. One for the trifectas.   9: FRANCO LEDGER Trainer: Geoff Webster Driver: Geoff Webster Form comment: Us Victorians are still disappointed we never got to see him contest the Inter Dominion Final. He would have gone close. Still managed to win the Group 1 Bohemia Crystal however on the big day in Sydney. In fact, it was not just a win ... he blitzed his opposition. He'll trail through nicely and will settle a bit closer to the speed than he did in the Hunter Cup when he stormed home late to run second to Arden Rooney. He's quicker than Arden Rooney, so if it comes down to who can sprint sharpest at the finish, he's the one you'd want to be on. He's a serious winning hope and I've got him running second.   10: FIERY ACHIEVER Trainer: Lance Justice Driver: Rodney Petroff Form comment: Handed up to It Is Billy last start and battled on well for second but was no match for the winner. He's drawn terribly here and against this lot a win would certainly surprise.   11: COLD MAJOR Trainer: David Aiken Driver: David Aiken Form comment: Rarely runs a poor race. Finished third behind Franco Ledger and Villagem in the Sokyola Sprint in January when worked in the run. He could play a role with a mid-race move but he's one for first-fours at best from the draw, I'd say. (Comments by Cody Winnell)     WIN A $50 TAB VOUCHER Here’s your chance to win a $50 TAB Voucher. To enter, tell us who you think will win the SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant Free For All tonight (Friday night). All entrants that pick the winner will go into a random draw and whichever lucky entrant is drawn, wins the $50 TAB Voucher! Entries must be in by no later than 8:30pm tonight. One entry per person. Must be over 18 years of age to enter. Email competitions@hrv.org.auwith the subject WIN.  The winner will be notified via email.  

One of harness racing’s modern-day greats will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight with the running of the Sundons Gift Free-For-All. Climbing the ranks to become Australasia’s premier squaregaiter, Sundons Gift set records seemingly at will before his retirement in 2012. Connections attempted an ill-fated comeback in 2013, but those four starts are best forgotten! Prepared by astute trainer Chris Lang, Sundons Gift was initially retired with 41 wins from 82 starts, with 10 seconds, six thirds and earnings of $1,272,264 also to his credit. The gelding’s ‘comeback’ netted a second. Not only is he the richest Australian-trained trotter, Sundons Gift captured a record 10 Group Ones, including an amazing four consecutive victories in the Australian Grand Prix. “When he got here he’d had seven starts in New Zealand for no wins, so I didn’t expect that much from him,” Lang admitted. “Then as I began to work him, he just felt like a good horse and I was waiting for the wheels to fall off at some stage. “Then as he started racing he was a bit erratic, but never stopped improving. “If you’d told me what he was going to achieve I would have thought you were dreaming. “The funny part about it is I’d never met or spoken to Neven Botica when the horse turned up. “It was Michael Doltoff who recommended our stable and organised for him to come here and the only thing I knew about him was when he arrived and his rug had Bernie on it, so he just became Bernie to us.” Despite his impressive haul, Lang rates one of Sundons Gift’s defeats as his biggest highlight. “For me his biggest legacy is his trip to Europe,” Lang declared. “He finished sixth in the Elitlopp, but it was his presence there and the publicity generated that helped lift not only our stable, but the local industry onto an international stage.” On the topic of international interest, tonight’s event will mark the Aussie debut of American trotter, Imperial Count. Ironically, the stallion is also owned by Botica, who sent the son of Angus Hall to leading trainer David Aiken. Aiken has given the trotter three trials, but stated he will “need the run”. “His trials have been really good. We’ll see how he goes but he’ll need the racing,” Aiken said. “At home he works like a nice horse and he’s great to have around the place.” Imperial Count will begin from barrier seven. PAUL COURTS

At his best, Chilli Palmer one of the fastest harness racing performers in the business. His sprint is withering, and when the pace is genuine, that’s when Chilli Palmer is at his most fiery. At Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night, the Amanda Grieve-trained gelding is engaged in the 2240-metre Westburn Grant Free-for-All, in which he has drawn the pole. Talented reinsman Alex Ashwood has quickly developed a bond with Chilli Palmer, having driven the speedster to finish third in the Geelong Cup and winning the Gawler Cup. That night Chilli Palmer was driven more aggressively than usual, sustaining a long, three-wide run for the final lap before outclassing his rivals. “He was out of his comfort zone because he was driven more aggressively than usual,” Ashwood said. “We just felt dropping back to that class we were able to do that and he did it really well.’ As for his latest assignment, Ashwood predicts Savesomtimetodream to lead from barrier two before surrendering the lead to Kerryn Manning’s Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney. This would provide Chilli Palmer with a suitable trail two-back along the pegs. “If Kez runs along a bit up front that would help,” Ashwood said. “It all comes down to the tempo early.” Manning stated Arden Rooney would most likely head to Mildura for the Cup Carnival following Friday night’s race.  “I don’t know if I can find the front, but I’ll be going forward,” Manning said. “Franco Ledger is faster than my bloke, but he also needs a bit of luck in running. “It’s a bit tricky.” HRV Media

After failed attempts in 2012 and 2013 to contest the Great Southern Star highly-credentialed American squaregaiter Imperial Count will finally make his Australian harness racing debut at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Raced by prominent owner Neven Botica, Imperial Count will debut for the David Aiken camp in the race named after Botica’s former champion, the Aldebaran Park Sundons Gift Trotters Free-for-All over 2240 metres. Imperial Count is a seven-year-old stallion by Angus Hall from Miss Imperial and boasts a rate of 1:53.2 in North America. The 17-time winner has had one start in the Southern Hemisphere, finishing last behind Sheemon in September 2014 when he bled and was stood down afterwards. Aiken has given the trotter three trials, but says he will most likely need the run. “His trials have been really good. We’ll see how he goes but he’ll need the racing,” Aiken said. “At home he works like a nice horse and he’s great to have around the place.” It was reported in October 2013 that Imperial Count could line up in the 2014 Great Southern Star after missing the 2013 series due to a “last-minute hiccup”. He stood at Lemon Tree Stud in Shepparton for a season before joining the Aiken camp at Avenel. Aiken’s latest stable acquisition will start from gate seven and gives the trainer two former Americans in the Group 3 trot, the other being My High Expectations, which will begin barrier 10. Master reinsman Gavin Lang will steer Imperial Count, with David to take the reins on My High Expectations. HRV Media

Harness racing driver Greg Sugars scored a winning treble at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Victoria’s leading reinsman guided home short-priced favourites Goodtime Sammy in the Geoff and Lorraine Barnes Youthful Stakes and Illawong Helios in the Carbine Chemicals Vicbred Trot, and also scored aboard a $15.90 shot in Classy Guy in the Swift Signs Pace. Goodtime Sammy (Somebeachsomewhere/Graces Beach) made it two wins to start his career with a 7.9-metre win in the 1720m Youthful Stakes from gate six, rating 1:56.7. Rocknroll Gold (Nathan Jack, $18) and Soho Lexington (Michael Stanley, $7.20) filled the placings. Five-year-old gelding Classy Guy (Union Guy/Classy Dream) found the front in Race 5 from the 1720m start despite a gate seven draw and held off all challengers late for a 2.1m win over Saint Flash (Chris Alford, $6.90) and Lombo Flashlight (Jodi Quinlan, $18.60). The Angela McDonough-trained pacer rated 1:54.4. Four-year-old mare Illawong Helios made it seven wins from 15 starts with a 9.3-metre win in the last race on the card, the Ross Sugars-trained daughter of Majestic Son/Shining Sun beating home Guiltless (Nathan Jack, $5) with Maybelina (Gavin Lang, $13.10) 33m off the winner in third place. The winner started $1.30 and rated 1:59.1. High-class four-year-old mare Bettor Downunder (Bettors Delight/Trebla Trebla) made it two enormous wins straight for trainer Steven Loftus and reinsman Michael Stanley. She won by 29.7m despite an outside-back-row draw over the 2240m. Bettor Downunder has now won her past two starts by an aggregate margin of 74.8m. Punters cashed in, the winner starting $1.40, with Mister McKinnon (Courtney Slater, $20.20) second and Flying McPocket (Anthony Butt, $8.20) third. The winner posted a 1:57.4 mile rate. >> VIDEO: Watch Bettor Downunder cruise to the easiest of wins The Boss Man (five-year-old gelding by Bacardi Lindy out of Oh Yes Indeed) bounced back after some frustrating performances with a 1.5m win as a $1.70 favourite over Death Defying in the Benstud Standardbreds Trot over 2240m. Scott Dyer drove the David Aiken-trained squaregaiter, who rated 2:00.7. Death Defying (Nathan Jack, $11.40) is racing well and did a good job to run second from gate six, while Steal A Sixpence was third for Gavin Lang at $4.80. Wonderful mare Steam Washed (Washington VC/Laura Lace) returned to the winners’ list in the Harness Breeders Vic Jodies Babe over 1720m. Sent out at odds of $5.70, Steam Washed was taken straight to the lead for reinsman Chris Shinn early from gate five and held off Emma Stewart-trained pair Goodtime Marjie (Greg Sugars, $7.50) and Beauty Secret (Gavin Lang, $1.40fav), the winner rating 1:53.5. Andy Gath’s talented three-year-old Bettors Delight/Kelly Maguire gelding Burnaholeinmypocket was ultra-impressive taking out the VHRSC 3YO Cup with Kate Gath in the sulky. The $3.50 second-favourite found the lead early from barrier two before coming right away at the finish for a 17.2m success over runner-up Virgil Hilts (Lisa Miles, $32.50) with Goodtime Alltime (Courtney Slater, $75.80) third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:57.3. Alan Tubbs-trained Lierre Noir saluted the judge first in the feature event of the night, the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace Final over 1720m. The five-year-old mare by Bettors Delight out of Saabette was driven by Kerryn Manning and paid $9.70 for the win. Odds-on shot Quick Draft (Chris Alford, $1.80) ran second, beaten a neck, with Echeveria (Kate Gath, $25.90) third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:54.4. Adam Kelly and Gavin Lang combined to win the University Food Group Pace over 2240m with five-year-old McArdle/Tactile Franco gelding Tiago Bromac. The $2.10 favourite outgunned runner-up The Noble Steed (Kerryn Manning, $4.90) and Heading North (Nathan Weightman, $25.30) in third in a rate of 1:57.1. >> KEY NOTES FROM TABCORP PARK MELTON - Greg Sugars notches a winning treble - Bettor Downunder at her brilliant best again - Steam Washed takes out Jodies Babe - Burnaholeinmypocket ultra-impressive winning VHRSC 3YO Cup - Lierre Noir takes out the G3 Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace - Quaddie: $1853 on Nos 7-2-2-3. Early Quaddie: $25.80 on Nos 13-5-6-5. - Good Form Game Plan (goodform.trot.com.au): Outlay: $415. Return: $145.40. >> Check out all the results and watch the replay videos from Tabcorp Park Melton by Cody Winnell

Top harness racing trainer Dean Braun had two choices, but one option, when deciding on where to race impressive filly Sudden Change this weekend. A stylish winner of last Sunday’s Tasmania Oaks, Sudden Change could remain on the Apple Isle for the state’s Derby or return to Victoria for the VHRSC Cup. Either way, Sudden Change had to race against the boys! “No matter which race she went in, she had to go against the colts,” Braun said. “The Derby is worth a little more, but it also meant keeping her interstate longer. “This way she is back home, settled in and can race at Melton.” Drawn well in barrier three, the daughter of Changeover is expected to settle close to the lead for master reinsman Gavin Lang. “There are a few nice types in the race,” Braun said. “Sir Macs Man has won his last three, Glenferrie Boss has won his last four and The Culture has won three of his four starts. “That said, my filly has her share of ability and will let them know she is there.” Despite drawing the second row, The Culture is the early favourite at $2.80, Glenferrie Boss is at $4, while Sir Macs Man is posted at $6. Sudden Change is regarded as an $8.5 chance. Following Saturday night’s assignment, Braun will keep the three-year-old fresh ahead of next month’s Victoria Oaks. - PAUL COURTS

The harness racing family that keeps on giving produced another feature race winner at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Making her debut, Rocknroll Magic has joined a host of her relatives by capturing a feature event. Prepared by power couple Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, Rocknroll Magic secured the Des McQueen Classic with Kate Gath in the cart. Leading from barrier two, the filly was then eased to take a trail behind the unbeaten Dancingwithsierra during the middle stages. With the pacemaker drifting away from the pegs around the home turn, Rocknroll Magic sprinted along the inside to score by a neck. Priddy Catchy, a stablemate of the winner, was seven metres away third. The beaten brigade also included Rocknroll Magic’s ‘aunty’ and stablemate, Celebrity Guest, which finished fifth. Covering the last half in 58.1 seconds, the two-year-old rated 1:59.7 for the 1720 metres. “She is a very nice filly and that was a pretty good way to start her career,” Stewart said. “There is a lot to like about her and she should get better as the season goes along.” By Rock N Roll Heaven, Rocknroll Magic is the first foal from All The Magic, which is a daughter of good producer Celebrity Ball, which scored at four of her 15 starts. Celebrity Ball is from broodmare sensation Larrakeyah Lady, the dam of nine winners from 10 starters. Larrakeyah Lady’s foals include Safe And Sound, Massarua, Gold Rocket and The Good Times, with the latter a stablemate of Rocknroll Magic. Lifeline – a daughter of Larrakeyah Lady – boasts six winners from nine starters, including Lovelist, which has won six of her 12 starts, and recent debut winner, Punchline…both members of the Stewart/Tonkin team. Lifeline’s daughter, Secret Life, has five winners from six starters, including Group One winners Beauty Secret and Major Secret…also prepared by Stewart and Tonkin. The clan also includes Doubter, Jazzam, Next Bonus, By My Side, Star Bonus, Lucky Punch, Quizzical, Dieing Secret, Exciteusinthecity, Firebomb, Ben Cartwright, Cyclone George and Paintball. As for Rocknroll Magic she has been aimed towards key features such as the Vicbred Super Series and Australasian Breeders’ Crown. PAUL COURTS

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