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The good fortune continues for the harness racing Queenslanders in Victoria. Fresh from their success in the Victoria Derby with Colt Thirty One two weeks ago, rookie pacer Scheu Creek proved too classy for his rivals in the $20,000 Swift Signs Premiere Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton last night (Friday). The Premiere Stakes is the first feature for juvenile pacers held in the Garden State. Prepared by master horseman Peter Manning, aka King of the Kids, the Caribbean Blaster gelding led throughout in the 1720m feature easily defeating race favourite Major Exclusive and Soho Thunderstruck in a time of 1:56.8. He recorded sectionals of 29.3, 31.3, 28.9 and 27.8 seconds. Kerryn Manning, the world’s most successful horsewoman of all time, took the winning drive for her father. Scheu Creek is raced by his breeders, Dr Pat and Rhonda Aldons and their partnership with Manning spans close to 20 years. “It’s a very satisfying moment to win a race, let alone a feature event so naturally we’re all pretty excited because we didn’t expect it. We bred this guy and his mother was very slow, she didn’t even make it to the trials but she’s proving to be a handy little broodmare so there’s hope for all those other breeders out there.” Dr Aldons said. Scheu Creek is a half-brother to Miss Rivkah (2 wins – Art Official). It was third time lucky in the Premiere Stakes after finishing third last year with Night Ninja while Miss Rivkah was unplaced two seasons ago. The Brisbane based couple has spent close to 40 years in the racing game spanning both codes, thoroughbred and harness, and still gets great satisfaction every time they win a race wherever that may be. Their team of horses is spread across New Zealand and Australia and with several trainers. Over the years they enjoyed great success through the likes of former Australian Derby winner City Rogue and star New Zealand filly Hot Shoe Shuffle while Town Royal, OK Chevalier, OK Jaque, Christian Miracle, Afro Samurai and BG Royal also proved to be great money spinners. Thoroughbred winners include the likes of Row Boat, Driving Creek, Ring True, Napper Tandy, Take A Shot, Some Joy and Pat Kash among others. In recent years, the couple have scaled back their New Zealand breeding operation and moved many of their mares to Burwood Stud on the Darling Downs of Queensland. “We made a decision to bring many of our mares a little closer to home, Noel and Christine (Denning) do a wonderful job catering for the mares and foals each and every year. We’re still breeding up to a dozen horses each season and we send the pacers to Peter while many of my gallopers stay here in Queensland. “All our foals are born and bred in Queensland but we try to focus mainly on Vicbred stallions nowadays, we’ve got several mares that trace back to the famed Black Watch line and hopefully we’re starting to get the results that we set out to achieve. “We’ve got some nice youngsters on the ground by good sires and the bulk of the mares are in foal again, we’ve used the likes of Captaintreacherous, Western Terror, Well Said, Shadow Play, Pet Rock, Heston Blue Chip and Alta Christiano so fingers crossed. “I like the Vicbred futurity scheme and I think Peter is a wonderful trainer of young stock. Our plan is to race them in Victoria before relocating them back to Brisbane for my son Ben to train.” The Aldons family still race horses in New Zealand with Cambridge horseman Mike Berger while gallopers are in work with Cox Plate winning trainer Moira Murdoch. And the Australian based gallopers are in work with Grafton horseman John Shelton and the Sunshine Coast based John Johnston. As a leading thoracic physician at The Prince Charles Hospital, he finds a perfect balance with his busy work life and his horses. “As a whole, the entire family enjoys the horses so I never miss a trick because I’m reliably updated at all times on their progress. “The big aim is to breed a top liner, we’ve been lucky along the journey but to breed and race a quality horse with the family would be something very special. Who knows, we might be on the way.” The Aldons family currently has three two-years-old’s in work with Manning. Hoofnote; Scheu Creek is the first winner for Caribbean Blaster Hoofnote; Scheu Creek (pronounced ‘Shoe’) is a stream located between South Johnstone and Wangan QLD, named after Heinrich Gottfried Scheu, the first settler in the Innisfail (far north Queensland) area, in 1880. Racing Queensland

Star pacer Cruz Bromac will be on the plane to America next week if his owners and Avalon harness racing trainer Dean Braun receive an offer they can’t refuse. The dual Group 2-placegetter will run at Melton on Saturday night in what could be his last Australian start as American buyers close in on the New Zealand-bred horse. Cruz Bromac returned to racing last Saturday night after a 12-month lay-off, winning with pure arrogance in a last-to-first victory at Tabcorp Park Melton, which has sectional gurus scratching their heads. “He’s a pretty special horse,” Braun told the Geelong Advertiser. “There’s a bit of conjecture about the times still, but they’re happy to agree he ran his last mile in 1.50.75, so off the track, it’s nearly unheard of I suppose. “I expected him to win, he’s the best horse I’ve put a bridle on, but I didn’t expect him to run those sectionals, especially wide on the track. “But it didn’t surprise me he did do it.” But the six-year-old won’t compete in Saturday’s feature $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup (2760m) after missing a week’s work with hoof injury earlier in his preparation. “The plan was always to go to the Hunter Cup but when he missed that week’s few days work, it was a bit hard for him to go there and race horses like Lazarus that are seasoned horses,” Braun said. “We took the softer option this week and I’d say after this week there’s a big chance he’ll do his future racing in the US. Cruz Bromac winning first up from a 12 month spell to mature. “They’ve bought two off me in the last 12 months, being Nike Franco, and she’s gone and made US$400,000, and Shartin, she had her first start the other day and won in 1.52.10 over there. “They’re pretty happy with the ones I’ve been sending and this horse has been on their radar for a little while. With the money we race for here, it’s nearly impossible to keep these good horses here with the money you can get overseas. “I’ve waited 20 years for this horse, but it’s pretty good money.” Cruz Bromac and Geelong trainer Dean Braun. Picture: Peter Ristevski But should the deal fall through, Cruz Bromac could head towards the rich $750,000 Group 1 Miracle Mile in Sydney later this month. “If he doesn’t get sold, absolutely. He’s the perfect horse for Menangle and a mile suits him,” Braun said. Cruz Bromac wasn’t the only horse to impress for Braun last Saturday, with Carlas Pixel and Stars Align both running Group 1 placings in the Ladyship Cup and 4YO Bonanza, respectively. While Stars Align will bypass the $200,000 Chariots of Fire in favour of a country cups path, Carlas Pixel will be on a float to Sydney. “She’ll probably contest the Robin Dundee (February 17) and then onto the Ladyship Mile (February 24),” Braun said. “All things being equal, she would have a pretty good chance I would think.” By Damien Ractliffe, Geelong Advertiser Reprinted with permission of The Geelong Advertiser  

Only three legs remain in the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And the race is on to be crowned champion harness racing pacer of Australasia. On Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, the Gr.1 $500,000 Del-Re National A G Hunter Cup will take place and it will be a brutal staying contest over the distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions. It will be relentless, energy sapping and survival of the fittest type stuff. History proves that. The A G Hunter Cup is the premier staying contest on the Australian calendar. First staged in 1949, the iconic event has undergone several changes but there has always been one constant, a great name alwys sits on the roll of honour and the 2018 version will be no different. As it stands, champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus leads the way with 200 points following victories in both the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominion while the Sydney trained Tiger Tara sits equal second with Chicago Bull on 120 points while Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark sit close by with 105 and 104 points respectively. And all will start in the A G Hunter Cup with the exception of Chicago Bull. So, victory is crucial. Lazarus, prepared by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, is the horse to beat owing to his fabulous record and his unbelievable appetite of staying contests. The further they go, the better he performs. His victories in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion solidify this point while his last start effort in the Gr.1 $300,000 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park only underlines his tag of Australasia’s premier stayer. The Bettors Delight entire sat three-wide throughout in the 2536m contest before going down by a head margin to millionaire pacer My Hard Copy who sat on his back with perfect cover. Everybody witnessed it but most couldn’t believe it. It drew comparisons with some of the greatest staying efforts of all-time and deservedly so, coincidentally, the most common reference made was that of Elsu when successful in the 2005 A G Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley. And here it is where Lazarus may have to reproduce another supreme staying effort, or something similar to Elsu to win this weekend. The triple millionaire will start from gate 3. Lazarus has not raced since January 12 owing to a minor setback but is looking to keep his unbeaten Melton record in perfect order. Enigmatic pacer Heaven Rocks also represents the All Stars stable and comes into the event fresh off a brilliant performance in the now traditional lead-up race, the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup two weeks ago. Natalie Rasmussen, a winner of the 2008 A G Hunter Cup aboard Blacks A Fake, will again take the drive behind Heaven Rocks. The big striding gelding has drawn gate 9, two off the second-line. Defending Hunter Cup champion Bling It On completes an unbelievable comeback when he lines-up this weekend, most thought he would not race again after sustaining horrific injuries in a race fall at Albion Park last June. But the millionaire pacer has returned in excellent order and caught the eye last week with an eye-catching second behind Lennytheshark in the Casey Classic. Bling It On will start from gate 2 and has the services of star reinsman Luke McCarthy. Highly decorated pacer and fan favourite Lennytheshark is hoping to snare his first victory in the A G Hunter Cup this weekend following his third placing last year behind Bling It On and Yayas Hot Spot. The David Aiken trained and Chris Alford driven star has won most majors in his home state yet the Hunter Cup silverware has proven elusive to date. Lennytheshark will from gate 8, the inside of the second-line. A top-two finish will push his career earning past the $3 million mark. Tiger Tara has drawn the coveted inside gate and most expect the Kevin Pizzuto trained entire to lead, and for a long way. A winner over Lazarus during a heat of the Inter Dominion series in Perth when leading at fast pace, the Bettors Delight seven-year-old was overpowered by Lazarus in the final after setting a moderate mid-race speed. Tiger Tara will play a major role from his inside draw. Last start Gr.1 $450,000 WA Pacing Cup winner Soho Tribeca must overcome the shocking draw of gate 13, the outside of the second-line for new combination of Michael Stanley and Greg Sugars. Soho Tribeca was transferred to his new base after winning the Perth feature for Bryan Cousins and Kim Prentice. The last mare to win the A G Hunter Cup was the mighty New Zealander Blossom Lady who claimed back to back victories in 1994/95 and pint-sized performer Ameretto is hoping join the exclusive club. Prepared by 2015 Hunter Cup winner Kerryn Manning, Ameretto will start from gate 10. Manning will sport the “Team Teal” silks as a part of the sport’s leading ladies to raise valuable funds and crucial awareness for ANZGOG – Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group. Last year’s runner-up Yayas Hot Spot returns for Shane and Lauren Tritton, the talented gelding has drawn gate 6 and will be handled by Jack Trainor. Yayas Hot Spot finished second behind Tiger Tara last week at Goulburn in the Frank and Edna Day Memorial. Durable gelding Messini, trained by Brent Lilley and driven by legendary horseman Tony Herlihy lines up in his third A G Hunter Cup after contesting the previous two editions. Messini has drawn gate 4. Herlihy partnered 1997 winner Surprise Package. Emerging talent Shadow Sax starts this weekend for trainer Emma Stewart, a winner of the Gr.1 $100,000 South Australian Cup at Globe Derby two starts ago before finishing a gallant third in the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup behind Heaven Rocks and Lennytheshark at his most recent start. Amazingly, ace reinsman Gavin Lang is yet to win the A G Hunter Cup. Shadow Sax will start from gate 5. Kialla pacer San Carlo represents the combination of trainer Stephen O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley but must overcome an awkward draw of gate 11. The Mach Three gelding finished third last week behind Lennytheshark and Bling It On in the Casey Classic. In-form pacer Moonrock, from the stables of Sonya Smith, has also drawn the second-line and runs from gate 12 but has the services of the most successful reinsman in Hunter Cup history in Anthony Butt. Butt has won 7 Hunter Cups – Blossom Lady (1994/95), Mister D G (2004), Mr Feelgood (2009), Stunin Cullen (2011), Choise Achiever (2012) and Mah Sish (2013). Mister Wickham is the listed emergency and has drawn gate 7 for trainer Lee Evison and US Hall of Famer driver David Miller. In total, the 13 runners have won 316 races while amassing more than $13.1 million in stakes. The A G Hunter Cup is scheduled as race 7 and listed to start at 9.02pm local time. Chris Barsby

Sparkling Success has arrived. He’s well and truly announced himself. And he did it on the biggest stage possible, dominating his harness racing rivals in the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday) – the second leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. In the biggest and richest square gaiting event staged in the country, the John Meade trained and Chris Svanosio driven trotter proved too classy for his rivals in the 2760m mobile start feature defeating New Zealand raider Temporale and Hey Yo in track record time. The six-year-old Great Success gelding proved his greatness with a hard fought victory in a time of 1:58.7, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:58.8 set by last year’s victor Glenferrie Typhoon. Boasting outstanding credentials, punters kept the local star safe in the market before an aggressive Svanosio drive landed the prize. Vincennes was able to spear to the lead from a wide draw and dictated terms while race favourite Red Hot Tooth was left without cover in the early stages. Sydney trotter On Thunder Road worked forward and took up the role on the outside of the leader while Sky Petite and Sparkling Success quickly made their moves. The lead time was covered in 84.2 seconds. With Vincennes leading, Sparkling Success eventually parked outside with 1400m approximately left to run. The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.5 and 30.2 seconds. Entering the back straight, Vincennes led Sparkling Success while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo gained economical trips against the pylons. Red Hot Tooth made a solo three-wide move with Daryl Boko tracking the move, both Speeding Spur and My Tribeca sat well back in the field as the tempo quickened. The third quarter was covered in 28.8 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Sparkling Success raced clear of Vincennes while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo all found room to move and loomed as legitimate threats. But Sparkling Success wouldn’t be denied and held Temporale by 1.2 metres with another 1.7 metres back to Hey Yo in third position. The final quarter was covered in 29.9 seconds. Race favourite Red Hot Tooth wilted to finish at the rear of the field. “This is unbelievable, he won the Maori Mile two starts ago but this race easily tops that, this is the biggest race on the calendar in Australia for trotters.” A jubilant John Meade declared, a dairy farmer from Cudgee in the state’s south-west. Sparkling Success boasts an outstanding record of 15 wins from 30 starts while his earnings now exceed $360,000. The next leg of the APG Trotting Masters takes place at Melton with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix on March 10. Sparkling Success now joins Dominion winner Amaretto Sun as the leg winners of the 2017/18 APG Trotting Masters to date. 6 9:00pm PRYDE'S EASIFEED GREAT SOUTHERN STAR (GROUP 1) 2760M $300,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Sr3 10 John Meade Chris Svanosio   $ 4.10   PRS PRU 3WM 2 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by GREAT SUCCESS USA out of DIAMOND INSITU (CR COMMANDO USA)  Owner(s): J F Meade, M B Meade  Breeder(s): J F Meade, M B Meade 2 TEMPORALE NZ      Sr1 8 Tony Herlihy Tony Herlihy 1.2m $ 5.70   PRS PRU 5 D/F$ 3 HEY YO NZ      Fr5 5 Sonya Smith Greg Sugars 2.9m $ 48.30   PRS 3WE RES 7 SWAB 4 THE BOSS MAN      Fr1 1 Ellen Tormey Ellen Tormey 7.3m $ 47.90   PRS PRU GS 3 5 MY TRIBECA ITA      Sr4 12 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 10.2m $ 35.20   PRS 8 HO HUE 6 VINCENNES      Fr7 7 Anton Golino Jason Lee 15.3m $ 79.30   PRS GS L 1 7 DARYL BOKO FIN      Fr2 2 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 17.6m $ 25.10   PRS W2 3WLT LW 8 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Sr5 13 John Dickie Josh Dickie 24.6m $ 6.30   PRS W3 3WLT LW 9 SKY PETITE      Sr2 9 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 27.8m $ 56.70   PRS 3WM 4 10 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr6 6 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 30.2m $ 11.60   PRS RAS INC W4 3WLT 11 ON THUNDER ROAD NZ      Fr4 4 Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 57.3m $ 17.70   PRS 3WE 6 BUP SD1T 12 RED HOT TOOTH      Fr3 3 Kari Males Zac Phillips 77.2m $ 3.10 fav  PRS GS W1 3WL TIRE QUER VXAR SWAB WI Scratchings   FABRICATION 11 Track Rating: Gross Time: 3:23:6 Mile Rate: 1:58:7 Lead Time: 84.2 First Quarter: 30.5 Second Quarter: 30.2 Third Quarter: 28.8 Fourth Quarter: 29.9 Margins: 1.2m x 1.7m   Chris Barsby

Interest in Lot 214 at next week’s Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Melbourne is expected to increase following tonight’s harness racing four-year-old Bonanza at Tabcorp Park Melton. While the filly was always going to attract some spirited bidding, the number of buyers looking to purchase the yearling is destined to grow. From lightly-raced mare Slip Slop Slap, the youngster is by top stallion Somebeachsomewhere, which sadly lost his battle with cancer last week. Not only are daughters of Somebeachsomewhere likely to be hot commodities, Slip Slop Slap boasts the impeccable record of six winners from seven starters The top matron, however, is better-known as the dam of Jilliby Kung Fu, which produced a phenomenal performance to capture the Group One. With Jason Lee holding the reins, Jilliby Kung Fu was caught three-wide from barrier seven before moving forward to settle in the ‘death seat’ as Stars Align set the pace. Forging his way to the front in the shadows of the post, the entire scored by a metre from Stars Align, with Motu Meteor a metre-and-a-half away third. “He’s really grown into himself,” Jason Lee said. “Ever since we purchased him at the APG Sales we’ve always thought he would be a nice horse and he’s gotten better with age. “He’s come back this year with a bit more weight on him and he’s definitely taken another step.” Also successful in last season’s Group One Vicbred Final, the Marg Lee-trained son of Four Starzzz Shark will head to Menangle in a fortnight for the Chariots Of Fire. “Getting straight in to the Chariots Of Fire is terrific,” Marg said. “I’ll just keep him going along at home before we head up for that.” APG Media

Australian Pacing Gold has kicked off tonight’s (Saturday 27th of January) stellar Tabcorp Park Melton program on a high, winning the first Group One of the harness racing program. Leading throughout from the pole, Our Golden Goddess proved too slick for her rivals on her way to victory in the Ladyship Cup. Stretching her winning streak to five, the five-year-old rated 1:53.3 over 1720 metres for trainer-driver Kerryn Manning. Our Golden Goddess was purchased, and is owned, by Merv and Meg Butterworth, who selected the mare at the 2014 APG’s Melbourne Sale. To be given a few easy days, Our Golden Goddess will then be targeted at next month’s Ladyship Mile at Menangle. “I’m not sure what there is between now and then, but we’ll be heading to the Ladyship Mile,” Butterworth said. “I know she will have a few easy days, then start working towards the Mile.” The multiple feature race winner is by Art Major from Localize, with the dam presented in next week’s Ladbrokes APG Melbourne Sale by another daughter also by Art Major. APG Media  

BUZZ Aussie three-year-old Lumineer’s quest to continue his unbeaten streak headlines a stellar and fascinating start to Melton’s Nights of Glory Carnival at Melton tomorrow (Saturday) night. ADAM HAMILTON casts his eye over the feature races on the card: VICTORIA DERBY (Race 7) Can’t tip against LUMINEER (6) in his quest for ninth win from as many starts, but he’s drawn wide at by far his biggest test. POSTER BOY (7) has always looked elite and his heat win was enormous. Needs luck from outside draw, but sure to run well. SPANKEM (4) returned to winning form in his heat and draws well again. MARAETAI (3) is untapped and ran a super race against Lumineer in heat. CODY BAILEY (1), COLT THIRTY ONE (11) and THE DEVILS OWN (13) also have some claims in hot field. SUGGESTED BET: Lumineer to win if he gets to $2.80 or better. Saver on Maraetai at $9 or better. GREAT SOUTHERN STAR (Race 6) Daunting race for punters. Emerging mare RED HOT TOOTH (3) has been heavily-backed and looks the leader, but this is a huge step-up for her. I’m going with SPARKLING SUCCESS (10) despite the back row. His past two runs have been huge. KYVALLEY BLUR (6) returns from terrific NZ campaign and flew in a trial against the pacers last week. TEMPORALE (8) needs luck from inside back row, but is flying. SPEEDING SPUR (13) would win at his best, but comes into this with form query. DARYL BOKO (2) and ON THUNDER ROAD (4) also command respect. SUGGESTED BET: Sparkling Success at $5 or better. LADYSHIP CUP (Race 5) Ripper race, but OUT GOLDEN GODDESS (1) is all class, unbeaten in four runs this campaign and looks leader from the pole. Should win. Her stablemate AMERETTO (8) will follow her throughout is all class. Obvious threat if she’s primed first-up. Purdon/Rasmussen pair A PICCADILLY PRINCESS (10) and PARTYON (2) are next best. CARLAS PIXEL (3) could place. SUGGESTED BET: Our Golden Goddess to win. 4YO BONANZA (Race 8) Looks a real match in two between OUR LITTLE GENERAL (1) and STARS ALIGN (3). Going with OUR LITTLE GENERAL to use the pole, lead and run them ragged. STARS ALIGN will be fitter for first-up win, is tough and will make a real race of it. JILLIBY KUNG FU (7) would’ve been favourite from a good draw, so keep him safe at odds from gate seven. BEACH SURGE (6) is a raw talent with place claims. SUGGESTED BET: Our Little General to win at $1.90 or better. CASEY CLASSIC (Race 4) Veteran champ LENNYTHESHARK (1) will be fitter for late-closing second to Heaven Rocks in Ballarat Cup last week. Drawn to lead and win from the pole. SAN CARLO (2) is an exciting talent going places. First-up from a break and expecting big run. BLING IT ON (5) caps his Hunter Cup prep, but will need luck to win from out in gate five. MESSINI (3) is flying, but up in grade. Place hope. SUGGESTED BET: Trifecta 1 to win from 2,5 for second and 2,3,5 for third. SUMMARY BEST BET R5 n1 Our Golden Goddess BEST VALUE R6 n10 Sparkling Success BEST ROUGHIE R7 n3 Maraetai Adam Hamilton

Nothing – not even a 10-day suspension – could wipe the smile from harness racing driver Shannon O’Sullivan’s face at Tabcorp Park Melton, on Monday night. Four months after gaining her B-grade driver licence, the 18-year-old from Heathcote broke through for her first win when she partnered the Frank Pangrazio-trained Showgun Thomas to victory in the night’s opening race. The overdue win came in her 52nd race start and not before her fair share of near misses with six seconds and five thirds for a tidy win and places to starts ratio of 24 per cent. O’Sullivan, who is the daughter of harness racing legend and 2017 Gordon Rothacker medallist Jim O’Sullivan, said it was an amazing feeling to finally break the drought. “It was a great feeling …. I was smiling going across the line and I couldn’t stop smiling after the race,” she said. “It was great that dad was there too. “Dad drove me down to Melton because we had two horses in at Maryborough a couple of hours beforehand. I had to drive them first and then be in Melton for the first (race). “I got another second and a fifth at Maryborough and then the win at Melton.” The win led to some good-natured ribbing between daughter and father, who has literally driven and trained thousands of winners during a 50-year career in the sport. Shannon went one-up on her famous father as the first of the pair to score a win at the headquarters of Victorian harness racing. “Dad reminded me afterwards that he had never won at Melton and then he told me I had done something else he hadn’t and that was win a race going 1:54, which he never had,” she said. “It’s probably the best place to win a race and it’s good to be one-up on dad, which is very surprising.” The good-natured and polite young driver said she had been quietly confident of ending her winless streak when first offered the drive by Pangrazio. Showgun Thomas, a five-year-old gelding, had won his previous two races for his Lockington-based handler at Echuca on New Year’s Day and Swan Hill (January 11). “He had good form and had ran good times - I’ve been at the races and watched him race and he’s a very consistent horse,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought if I got the right drive and got a good position then we would be a very big chance of winning it. “I was confident in the horse in being able to do a lot of work and still being able to finish off the race.” A humble O’Sullivan, who is weeks away from starting her Bachelor of Exercise Science at La Trobe University, copped her suspension on the chin and already has a few drives lined-up for her return on February 2. She hoped her breakthrough win and knack for rarely being outside the top five in her races would lead to increased opportunities going forward. “I got a couple of phone calls after my win asking could I drive and I was like ‘I’m so sorry I can’t’,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s racing – it happens. I coped it because I knew I was in the wrong.” By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Talk about neighbourly rivalry. The Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, the biggest and richest harness racing event on the Australian trotting calendar, takes places this weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton and it will stir emotions. A Trans-Tasman clash between the best trotters currently available will take place over the staying distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions, it’s the second leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. And both sides of the ditch are well represented. The host nation possess are strong team loaded with great weaponry while the Kiwis are tried and true at the elite level, plus, they have the runs on the board. First staged in 2013, all winners have originated from the Shaky Isles while three of the winners were also prepared there but an Australian trained trotter proved victorious last year. Glenferrie Typhoon, prepared by the husband and wife team of Andy and Kate Gath, defied Auckland based performer Speeding Spur of back to back triumphs when he led throughout in track record time of 1:58.8. Initially modelled on Sweden’s universally revered Elitlopp, the Great Southern Star originally featured two Group 1 heats with a final all run on the same card before being drastically altered last year with the event becoming a straight out contest. Millionaire performer Keystone Del is the other Australian trained winner of the event when prepared by Nicole Molander while Vulcan, Stent and Speeding Spur have all tasted success for New Zealand based trainers. But the locals are ready for a title defence. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 3) will command plenty of respect following her last start romp in the George Gath at Shepparton two weeks ago while My Tribeca (gate 12) and Sparkling Success (gate 10) bounce out of last week’s E B Cochran Cup from Ballarat after their one/two finish. The Boss Man (gate 1), Hey Yo (gate 5), Vincennes (gate 7) and Sky Petite (gate 9) also represent the state of Victoria while quality Sydney trained trotter On Thunder Road (gate 4) will also have plenty of support. Both Daryl Boko (Finland) and Kyvalley Blur (North America) add that cosmopolitan flavour and both have excellent claims. Daryl Boko has drawn gate 2 while Kyvalley Blur has drawn gate 6. New Zealand trained performers are both from the north island with Temporale (gate 8) and Speeding Spur (gate 13) flying the Kiwi flag, both are well known to Australians fans owing to successful previous campaigns. Fabrication (gate 11) is the listed emergency for the event. The opening leg of the APG Trotting Masters was staged back in November during Cup week in Christchurch at Addington with the running of the Gr.1 $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion which was won by outsider Amaretto Sun. Only Daryl Boko and Hey Yo will contest the Great Southern Star after starting in the Dominion. The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time. Chris Barsby

Red Hot Tooth is the big firmer in harness racing markets for Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton after drawing gate three for the $300,000 Group 1 trotting feature. The barrier draws for Saturday night’s features were conducted live at Harness Racing Victoria offices this morning and Red Hot Tooth pulled the three marble, while some key rivals Temporale (eight), Sparkling Success (10), My Tribeca (12) and Speeding Spur (13) drew the back line. Listen to Zac Phillips on the Trot Line “It couldn’t have worked out any better,” Phillips told TheTrots.com.au “She looks the obvious early leader, and what we do from there we’ll work it out through the week.” The Boss Man was also a big winner at the draw, the Ellen Tormey trained and driven trotter drawing barrier one and no doubt eager to improve on his fifth place finish in last year’s Great Southern Star. Derby delight at draw for Code Bailey Two of the big guns for the VHRSC Victoria Derby Final drew wide for the $200,000 final with Lumineer Poster Boy in barriers six and seven respectively. Terang-trained Code Bailey, an impressive second placegetter in his heat, drew pole for the final and his chances have significantly improved as a result. Mark Purdon’s heat winner Spankem has barrier four, while stablemate The Devils Own will come out of gate 13. Golden draw for Goddess in Alabar Ladyship Cup Kerryn Manning was the big winner of the Alabar Ladyship Cup barrier draw with her two big-gun mares drawing barriers one and eight respectively. Our Golden Goddess has the plum cherry draw, while Ameretto will trail in barrier eight. Kiwi sensation Partyon is drawn alongside Our Golden Goddess, making it harder for the Purdon-trained filly to extend across the polemarker early, while another of the All Stars team, A Piccadilly Princess, has gate 10. Stars Align for showdown in 4YO Bonanza The TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza pits two-time Breeders Crown champion Our Little General against a top-quality line-up of adversaries, and the chances of Stars Align took no harm at this morning’s draw. The Dean Braun-trained pacer drew barrier three and looks likely to find the lead, while Emma Stewart-trained Our Little General will certainly get his opportunity from gate one.   $300,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star (Group 1) 1: The Boss Man 2: Daryl Boko 3: Red Hot Tooth 4: On Thunder Road 5: Hey Yo                             6: Kyvalley Blur                  7: Vincennes 8: Temporale 9: Sky Petite 10: Sparkling Success 11: Fabrication (Emergency) 12: My Tribeca 13: Speeding Spur   $200,000 VHRSC Victoria Derby Final (Group 1) 1: Code Bailey 2: Tam Major 3: Maraetai 4: Spankem 5: Corzin Change 6: Lumineer 7: Poster Boy 8: Major Times 9: Yankee Roller (Emergency) 10: The Brooklyn Brawler 11: Colt Thirty One 12: Little Peanut 13: The Devils Own   $100,000 Alabar Ladyship Cup (Group 1) 1: Our Golden Goddess 2: Partyon 3: Carlas Pixel 4: Delishka 5: Berisari 6: Shakahari (Emergency) 7: Whirily School 8: Ameretto 9: Keayang Kallisto 10: A Piccadilly Princess 11: Nikkibadwagon   $100,000 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza (Group 1) 1: Our Little General 2: Gotta Go Dali Queen 3: Stars Align 4: Mustang Bart 5: Motu Meteor 6: Beach Surge 7: Jilliby Kung Fu 8: Makoa 9: Jilliby Road Runner 10: Hashtag 11: Waimac Attack   $50,000 DNR Logistics Casey Classic 1: Lennytheshark 2: San Carlo 3: Messini 4: Bernie Winkle 5: Bling It On 6: Upanatom 7: Clancys Fobwatch 8: Lets Elope 9: Last Flight In Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Tabcorp Park Melton will stage the inaugural TAB.com.au Summer of Glory - Del-Re National Breakfast of Champions on Wednesday January 31. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) is inviting all industry participants to attend the breakfast, which is also proudly supported by Schweppes, with the entertainment being a live outside broadcast of RSN's Racing Pulse program. Regular Racing Pulse host Michael Felgate will be joined by guest hosts Jason Bonnington and Adam Hamilton for a 90-minute show focused on the upcoming Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup. A roving panel of guests will also feature, including Victorian voice of the trots Dan Mielicki and some of the key drivers and trainers involved in the Hunter Cup. Some of the Hunter Cup equine competitors will also take to the track to show off where they're at ahead of the $500,000 Grand Circuit Classic (to be run Saturday night February 3). Also in attendance will be the legendary retired pacer Smoken Up and his trainer/driver Lance Justice. A breakfast barbecue and tea/coffee will be provided. Gates open 8am for an 8.30am start with Racing Pulse to wrap up at 10am. More details will be announced in coming days. To register your interest in attending the breakfast, please sign up to receive updates and RSVP by clicking here CODY WINNELL  [Harness Racing Victoria]

Harness racing explosive pacer Cruz Bromac is nearing a racetrack return. Sidelined since contesting the 2017 Gr.1 $400,000 Victoria Cup (January edition) at Tabcorp Park Melton, the stylish looking Falcon Seelster gelding sparkled in a public trial yesterday (Tuesday). The Dean Braun prepared pacer ventured to Kilmore and easily scored in his 2180m workout defeating reigning Miracle Mile champion Lennytheshark and Stunning Grin. The mile rate was 1:58.5 with the final mile covered in 1:57.7 while covering his final half in 56.6 seconds and 28.2 seconds. Lennytheshark starts in Saturday nights Gr.1 $100,000 Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup at Bray Raceway. Winning driver Nathan Jack was suitably impressed. “He felt as good as he looked, he absolutely cruised and felt really strong through the line. Happy to stay aboard, he’s got a good campaign coming up.” Jack said. Boasting 12 victories from 22 starts to date, connections have plenty of options over the coming weeks and months, firstly in his home state and then in Sydney. While a nomination was submitted for the Gr.1 $500,000 Hunter Cup on February 3, it appears unlikely that he’ll head that way. “He’s likely to go to Melton next week (Great Southern Star race night) and there’s a nice option for him on that program and then we’ll reassess after that performance before making our next move,” Co-owner Pauline McColgan explained. “Time may have beaten us for the Hunter Cup but in saying that, time has been the best thing for him because he’s really furnished into a lovely horse. He’s a complete horse now, big and strong. “A Sydney campaign that coincides with the Miracle Mile carnival will be considered, they have some great races up there in the coming weeks and he’s been there before and performed at a high level. Nothing confirmed but plenty of options at this point, Dean will map the best fit for him.” A trip to Queensland for the winter carnival later this year for the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 18 is another attractive option. Last season, Cruz Bromac won 6 of his 9 starts while his only unplaced effort came at his most recent start, finishing 8th behind New Zealand wonder horse Lazarus in a time of 1:52.5. Feature race triumphs last term included the Casey Classic plus the Cobram and Hamilton Cups. Cruz Bromac Trial Chris Barsby

John Caldow was at his top-class best at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, the champion reinsman guiding four winners home on the 11-race harness racing card. The Melton reinsman has driven over 100 winners in a season on 20 occasions and has 3616 victories on the books all up. Last night he drove a winning double for Junortoun horseman Bruce Morgan (Believe In Forever in the Allied Express 3YO Pace and Silent Growl in the Cogs Pace 2nd Heat). Caldow and Morgan are a proven winning combination. LISTEN TO JOHN CALDOW ON THE TROT LINE “It was great to get a double for Bruce. We’ve been together for a lot of years now. Probably 20-odd years … and he’s had a few health issues last year and it’s really good for him to bounce back and get a couple of winners,” Caldow today told the Trot Line. Also among Caldow’s winners last night was Anton Golino-trained Fiery Mountain Girl, too strong for Jay Pe De in the Aldebaran Park Trot, and Maree Caldow-trained Madeeba in the HRTC Bendigo Pace. The Caldows raced Madeeba’s mother, Mesmerizing, who won 19 races and $180,000 in stakemoney on the track and has produced four winners as a broodmare thus far, including champion Messini (whose Bendigo Cup win at the weekend took his stake earnings to over $656,000). Caldow said he had a two-year-old full-brother to Messini (by Art Major) at home who was showing plenty of promise. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness racing horse breeder Joe Aquilina is proof that persistence pays off. Last week one of his horses won the Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic for Three Year-Old Fillies, the breeder’s first Group 1 win in more than 40 years involved in the sport. Fling About held on to claim the $50,000 race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, with Joe’s close friend Eddie Conroy in the driver’s seat. The Group 1 winner is a third generation trotter, with Joe also breeding and racing her grandma, About Square, and her mum, Squaring About, which is in foal alongside her sister in the paddock at Joe and wife Thelma’s Deniliquin property. The couple moved to the area about a year ago after selling their Melton property and giving away a couple of horses to close friends. One of those was Fling About. ‘‘We sold our property at Melton to a developer and bought a property at Deni (Thelma has a lot of family in the local area),’’ Joe said. ‘‘I gave the horse (Fling About) to Eddie (Conroy) but Eddie had a bad horse accident which almost killed him, so he gave the horse to (trainer) Fred Spiteri on the one condition that he would be the driver. ‘‘You could see how happy Eddie was (with the win) when he punches the air after passing the post. Eddie lost a close family member, Bob Conroy, who’s a legend of the industry, less than a week before the race. ‘‘Eddie and I have been involved in the industry together for close to 20 years, so I was really happy for him. I was pretty happy, too. ‘‘My father was also involved in the industry, even before he came to Australia from Malta.’’ Friday’s win was equally as exciting for Spiteri and Conroy, with Fling About’s thrilling salute their first Metropolitan winner. The Home Grown Classics were created for horses who have won less than $10,000 in their career, and this was Fling About’s third win in six starts and the best of her career to date. ‘‘I thought I’d done enough when we hit the line but I know (race caller) Dan Mielicki is pretty good in a photo, so I had my ears pricked and when I heard him that’s when there was a bit of relief,’’ driver Conroy said. ‘‘You never want to go in cocky, especially with a three year-old, but aside from being a bit on edge during the pre-race circle, she’s just a lovely trotter and I was hoping that professionalism could be the difference. ‘‘It was my first Metropolitan winner so it was the right way to bring it up. I was talking to a mate ... and I just said how surreal it all is.’’ Friday’s race took shape early on with the daughter of Fling It doing just that and spearing across to the fence as the two race favourites made early mistakes. Conroy was able to control the race through the middle stages before he pinched a march off the back and held the late charge of Angels Breath and Shield Maiden. The win again proved that anybody can compete on the biggest stage regardless of what level of the industry you are involved in. ‘‘It’s not just the fact that we’ve won a Group 1 race; I’ve been Fred’s (Spiteri) farrier for a long time and we’ve raced horses with Joe before so it means a lot to everyone,’’ Conroy said. ‘‘We usually have horses where there’s not too much to do, you look for a T0 or a T1 the week after you run but I think Freddy (Spiteri) will sit down with the Harness Racer and map out a plan for her now. I think she’ll go for a little break.’’ It’s the incredible story that almost never was. Conroy was keen to downplay the accident which almost claimed his life just over a year ago. ‘‘I had a horse fall on me when I was riding it and it did some damage to my leg; long story short I ended up with internal bleeding and collapsed,’’ Conroy said. ‘‘I had lost something like eight litres of blood from my body and we only have about nine. ‘‘I ended up in intensive care for three or four days. In one way I was very unlucky and in another way I was incredibly lucky but it’s not something I really dwell on.’’ Conroy made the trip to Deniliquin earlier this week to celebrate the victory with his good mate, and the pair are looking forward to watching their Group 1 winner’s future unfold, and hopefully that of her sibling when it arrives next year. ■ Some of the words provided by Blake Redden from Harness Racing Australia. By Sam Hall Reprinted with permission of The Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has rescheduled last night’s postponed Tabcorp Park Melton metropolitan trots meeting to Monday afternoon. The meeting will be a ‘Geelong at Tabcorp Park Melton’ meeting and will be followed by Monday night’s scheduled Melton program, creating a Massive Monday at Melton. HRV made the decision today after consultation with media and wagering partners, Tabcorp Park Melton and the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association. “Thursday night’s rain was torrential at Melton resulting in the track being unsuitable for racing and unable to be repaired for that night,” HRV CEO David Martin said. “The decision to move the meeting to Monday afternoon means connections of the horses who missed a run due to the washout get a second chance to race for the substantial prizemoney on offer.” The fields, race order and barrier draws will remain unchanged as per Thursday night’s meeting. All scratchings will initially be reinstated before each horse’s relevant eligibility is to be determined by HRV. Any horses unable to race on Monday afternoon will be able to be scratched penalty-free. “I’d like to thank HRV employees and everyone involved in helping us reschedule this meeting. For the sake of our industry we must be flexible and consultative in our approach and I’m looking forward to a Massive Monday of trots at Melton,” Mr Martin said. Geelong was selected as the ‘host’ club for the Melton meeting due its close proximity to Melton, and to provide separation from the existing Melton meeting scheduled for Monday night with trotting races to be exported to France. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Among her many traits, consistency, a will to win and electric gate speed helps make Maori Time a true harness racing all-rounder. From arguably the most famous trotting family of them all, the Pegasus Spur/Sundonna eight-year-old has earned a tick over $392,000 from 59 starts, with 23 wins and a further 19 minor placings (42 podiums from 59!). And remarkably, the three-time Group 1 winner is now a three-time Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint winner following last night’s narrow win at Tabcorp Park Melton. With Gavin Lang in the sulky, Maori Time overcame an inside-back-row draw to overhaul Sparkling Success (Chris Svanosio) and Glenferrie Typhoon (Kate Gath) in a three-way photo. Her winning mile rate was 1:56.6 for the 1720m trip. It was Maori Time's third win on the trot this season. Maori Time is trained by Brent Lilley and raced by owner/breeder Fred Crews. The mare has now won more Bill Collins Sprint races than any other squaregaiter, Maori Time’s triple success eclipsing two-time race winners Will Trapper (2008 & 2011), Take A Moment (2002 & 2003) and Pride Of Petite (1996 & 1998). Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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