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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

Leading harness racing mentor Justice knows how to win The Stampede. Harness Racing Victoria’s shortest race is run over 1200 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton, with Justice registering four wins in the feature since its inception in 2004. In fact, Justice has had a stranglehold on the event in recent years, with his wins coming with Coastal in 2010 and 2011, The Smiler in 2012 and Toulouse Lautrec last year. This year Justice will be represented by Spokeswoman, with the five-year-old mare drawing the pole and coming off a second at Melton upon debut for her new stable. “She didn’t get any peace in front,” Justice said of Spokeswoman’s last start when she broke 30 seconds for every quarter of the last mile. “She battled on really well. And she’d had a chequered time heading into that run, but she’s done huge since and I think she’ll improve a lot.” Justice explained that despite the short course, tactics were still of vital importance. “You can’t afford to be any further back than three-pegs,” Justice said. “I think Spokeswoman can lead, but there is some speed drawn in the middle. “Having said that, I don’t think mine is one-dimensional, she can win from the leader’s back.” Metro Mike is the early favourite despite drawing gate seven, but Justice believes the gelding might get caught in “no-man’s land” from the draw. “He gets out of the gate okay, but not brilliant,” Justice said. “He’s got the form on the board, but I think he may have to work exceptionally hard to get to the breeze.” HRV Media

Exciting harness racing youngster Dancingwithsierra faces a tough time as she aims to extend her unbeaten sequence at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. An impressive winner of her three starts, Dancingwithsierra is engaged in the Des McQueen Classic, which has attracted an interesting field. Along with Celebrity Guest, which was a recent debut winner for trainer Emma Stewart, the assembly includes three first starters from the Stewart stable. Runner-up at her first two starts, Sahara Sunrise is also well positioned to break her maiden. Thrilled with Dancingwithsierra’s progress, trainer Gary Hoban is confident the daughter of Modern Art can continue her winning streak despite drawing the outside of the front row. “She just hasn’t stopped improving since she started racing and should be better again this time,” Hoban said. “One of her best qualities is the fact she takes everything in her stride. “She’s a very nice filly, and they are few and far between, so we will look after her and enjoy the journey. “She was always going to draw badly because it is a preferential race, which astounds me in any feature.” Citing Celebrity Guest as the main danger, Hoban is also weary of the debutantes. “Celebrity Guest went very well at her first start and is drawn inside us,” Hoban said. “Emma’s other three are first starters, so they are unknown quantities. “That said, Emma will have them pretty spot on before bringing them to the races.” PAUL COURTS

Last Sunday’s Australasian Premier Trotting Sale at Tabcorp Park Melton saw a 20 per cent spike in registered bidders. While the overall average price was down on previous years, $12,941 compared to $16,359 last year, APTS promoters said this was in partly due to only 40 lots passing through the ring. “We would expect that number to jump around a bit with only 40 lots going through,” Harness Racing Victoria’s Vaughn Lynch said. “We would have liked a higher average, but we understand there are several factors behind it dropping. “There was less competition than usual at the bottom end of the sale, meaning there were bargains for the astute buyer.” Lynch stated it was great to see more bidders than usual with “strong competition at the top end of the sale seeing several potential buyers going home disappointed”. The sale topper was a striking bay colt by Angus Hall out of unraced Muscles Yankee mare Bromac Aldebaran, which sold for $38,000. “He’s got good confirmation and a good pedigree,” said Richard Matthews, who made the successful bid. “I’ve had a bit more luck with the trotters over the years for whatever reason. I bought a broodmare from New Zealand, Invasions Pride. She didn’t race a long time but she threw a trotter called Let Me Thru, who ran second in an Inter Dominion when he was only a five-year-old. “The mare’s progeny have produced about $740,000 worth of stake winnings.” The second-highest priced purchase was Lot 15, a bay colt by the sire of the fastest two-year-old in history Muscle Hill, from Calder Fury, which went for $37,000. A sister to exciting mare Barefoot Sally (an impressive winner at Melton on Saturday night) went for $22,000, the filly by Bacardi Lindy – sire of Claudys Princess – out of Strapon. Scott’s Creek horseman Anthony O’Connor purchased two yearlings at the sale, Lot 20 a filly by Skyvalley from Maori Road for $5000 and Lot 31 Aldebaran Doc, a colt by Skyvalley from Aldebaran Deegan for $4000. “You can’t breed them for that price,” O’Connor said. “It’s worth rolling the dice at that price. “My son Nicholas and I wanted a trotter and we were looking for a filly, so to get into a good family of trotters is great. “The other one, I had a few mates who wanted to race one, so we’ll probably go quarter shares.” The APTS finished off a big weekend of Victorian trotting, which saw New Zealand star Stent win the $300,000 Group One Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star on Saturday night. “This is the third year for the Australasian Premier Trotting Sale and we’re looking forward to being able to build on it further in coming years,” Lynch said. 2015 AUSTRALASIAN PREMIER TROTTING SALE RESULTS Lot 1: Colt by Lawman out of Speedy Naomi – Withdrawn Lot 2: Filly by Eilean Donon out of Kyvalley Bling – $9000 to Chris Lang Jr Lot 3: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Arnikas Pride – Passed In Lot 4: Colt by Angus Hall out of Bromac Aldebaran - $38,000 to Gatto Pty Ltd Lot 5: Filly by Skyvalley out of Countessa Hest – $7000 to Glenn Conroy Lot 6: Filly by Yankee Spider out of Catchya Kasey – Passed In Lot 7: Filly by Bacardi Lindy out of Cruzenthepacific - $6000 to Terence Howard Lot 8: Colt by Angus Hall out of Maoris Dream - $30,000 to Ian Hunter Lot 9: Filly by Yankee Spider out of Stand On Me - $10,000 to Maree Caldow Lot 10: Filly by Bacardi Lindy out of Spring Fly – Passed In Lot 11: Filly by Skyvalley out of Sundons Babe – $7000 to Greg Scott Lot 12: Colt by Angus Hall out of Poignant – $30,000 to Maree Caldow Lot 13: Filly by Skyvalley out of Maori Lindy – $4000 to Glenn Conroy Lot 14: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Maori Moments – $5000 to Joe Pace Lot 15: Colt by Muscle Hill out of Calder Fury – $37,000 to Jim Connelly’s KPC Racing Lot 16: Filly by Angus Hall out of Aldebaran Maori – $18,000 to Blundell Family Trust Lot 17: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Maori Missile – Withdrawn Lot 18: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Docmelfi – $10,000 to Jayne Davies Lot 19: Colt by Metropolitan out of Countess Angela – $5000 to Greg and Denise Muir Lot 20: Filly by Skyvalley out of Maori Road – $5000 to Anthony O’Connor Lot 21: Colt by Kyvalley Blur out of Kyvalley Kitty – Passed In Lot 22: Colt by Muscle Mass out of Queens Rhapsody – $10,000 to Brent Lilley Lot 23: Colt by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Honey – $4000 to Russell Commens Lot 24: Colt by Muscle Mass out of Icantremember – Withdrawn Lot 25: Colt by Sundon out of La Tonneralla – $15,000 to Paddy Lee Lot 26: Colt by Muscles Yankee out of Elusive Charm – $32,000 to Don Smith Lot 27: Colt by Skyvalley out of Aldebaranfavourite – $9000 to Brent Lilley Lot 28: Filly by Angus Hall out of Flaming Action – $9000 to B Cabria Lot 29: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of A Poem Kept – $11,000 to John Murdoch Lot 30: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Modern Maori – Withdrawn Lot 31: Colt by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Deegan – $4000 to Anthony O’Connor Lot 32: Filly by Yankee Spider out of Positive Logic – $8000 to Michael Scandolera Lot 33: Filly by Muscle Mass out of Illawong Chloe – Withdrawn Lot 34: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Charlotte Galleon – $7000 to Steven Hall Lot 35: Filly by Bacardi Lindy out of Strapon – $22,000 to WJ and MD Cameron Lot 36: Filly by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Breeze – $22,000 to David Scott Lot 37: Colt by Armbro Variable out of Gladys Emanuel – $8500 to Mario Azzopardi Lot 38: Filly by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Revenue – $5000 to Blake Fitzpatrick Lot 39: Colt by Armbro Invasion out of Im Mumbo Jumbo – Passed In Lot 40: Colt by Pegasus Spur out of Lets Be Happy – $25,000 to Michael Taranto Lot 41: Colt by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Hall – Withdrawn Lot 42: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of All Finesse – Passed In Lot 43: Colt by Tennotrump out of Mystic Jewel – $9000 to Tubbs/Sugars Lot 44: Colt by Bacardi Lindy out of Seek And Destroy – $6500 to S Hayes Lot 45: Filly by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Sunset – $8000 to Chris Lang Jr Lot 46: Colt by Fling It out of Keyfield – $4000 to Olivia Berg By Cody Winnell 

Star trotter Keystone Del is recuperating in a paddock after pulling up sore from Great Southern Star night. Trainer Nicole Molander said the 26-time winner would have his shoes removed by the farrier and his cracked hoof worked on during the next couple of days. Molander has also ordered the vet to test Keystone Del’s blood to ensure there are no other health issues. “He’s a bit sore and he’s resting in the paddock now,” Molander said. “He’s got a crack on his hoof that we’ve been looking after. It had quite a bit of movement in it after the Great Southern Star. “The farrier will take the shoes off in the next day or so. So he’s out for a spell.” Keystone Del ran second behind Sheemon in his Great Southern Star heat last Saturday night before backing up and running seventh in the Final, which was won by Stent. HRV Media

The third Australasian Premier Trotting Sale was held today at Tabcorp Park Melton and the promoters must be disappointed with the overall result. The first sale in 2013 averaged $15,846 which climbed slightly in 2014 to $16,359. Today saw the average drop to $12,941 which is over a 20% decrease over last year which is disappointing especially in light of the 23% increase achieved at the Australian Pacing Gold Sale just last weekend. The top lot today was Lot 4, a striking Angus Hall colt who is the first foal from the unraced Muscles Yankee mare Bromac Aldebaran. The colt was knocked down for a healthy $38,000. Bromac Aldebaran is from Spiritual Powers who is a full sister to Our Super Force ($90,985) who was New Zealand two year old trotter of the year and a half sister to Real Force ($165,592) who won an Interdominion Final as a four year old. Another half sister to Spiritual Powers in Chiola's Luck is the dam of Sundon's Luck ($164,264) who was three year old trotter of the year in New Zealand. A grand-daughter of Spiritual Powers is the dam of this years Dominion Handicap winner Jaccka Justy ($231,663) and his full brother Jaccka Jack ($125,532) The third dam of todays sale topper is the Super Bowl mare Super Brenda who was imported from North America by National Bloodstock in the late 1980s. With the strength of the family behind the Angus Hall colt it is no wonder he made what he did. Lot 35 which was a Barcardi Lindy filly from the handy Straphanger mare in Strapon ($32,570) got a very timely boost last night at Tabcorp Park Melton when her full sister Barefoot Sally won her fifth race in impressive fashion. On top of that the filly was a lovely type herself and after some spirited bidding was knocked down for $22,000. Full results are still not available but the link will take you straight through to the results page.  Results Harnesslink Media

Kiwi superstar Stent will be given a short break upon his return to the Shaky Isles before being aimed at several key targets. Ending his Australian campaign in perfection fashion at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, Stent has been set for the New Zealand Trotting Championship, ANZAC and Rowe Cups. The NZTC is scheduled for March 27, with the latter two Group Ones to be staged on April 17 and 24. Based on his form on the other side of the Tasman, the Colin De Filippi - trained trotter will take a power of beating in any event he contests. Racing in sensational fashion, Stent is unbeaten from five Aussie starts this campaign, including a clean sweep of the prestigious Great Southern Star. After cruising to victory in his heat earlier in the evening, the squaregaiter repeated the dose in the $300,000 Final just moments ago. With De Filippi in the sulky, Stent worked to the lead from barrier two before cruising to a six-and-a-half metre win from Vincennes, with Flying Isa a nose away third. “Once he got to the front he was always going to be hard to run down,” De Filippi said. “We finished second in this race last year and it is good to go one better this time.” Covering the last half in 56.5 seconds, the son of Dream Vacation rated 1:57.1 for the 1720 metres. Owned by Trevor Casey, Stent extended his record to 26 wins and 20 placings from 57 starts. PAUL COURTS

DENMARK’S Michelle Mønster upstaged French rider Benjamin Aubron in the Alan Mance Holden Monte at harness racing's Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Riding 10-year-old trotter Si Capisco, Mønster always looked to have the race on her terms after taking her mount to an early lead. Mønster, whose father Knud drove a winner in the drivers’ invitation trot on Saturday night, was challenged by Aubron aboard Si Capisco’s stablemate Illawong Moonshine a couple of times in the run, but each time the Danish hoop was able to guide Si Capisco up another notch. At the home corner it became evident Mønster and Si Capisco weren’t going to be rolled and they cleared out for an impressive 13.1-metre win. Aubron finished second aboard Illawong Moonshine, with third placegetter Mosquito Spur the first Australian rider over the line with Emma Hamblin taking the reins. Trainer Jodi Quinlan trained the first three horses over the line in the Monte. Monte races are trotting events run without sulkies and with riders instead of drivers. Since their inception in Victoria the quality of the races has improved dramatically and the local riders are getting the hang of them. Monte racing is extremely popular abroad, especially in Europe and Scandinavia. The publicity received for Mønster’s Monte win was invaluable, the exposure thrusting Victorian harness racing on to the world stage. “That was amazing!! Ride a winner in Australia!! Thanks to Jodi Quinlan and Si Capisco!! #finntack” Tweeted Mønster after the win. >> Watch a replay of the Alan Mance Holden Monte won by Si Capisco and Michelle Mønster. by Cody Winnell

An exceptionally strong line-up of race winning and winner producing mares augurs well for the Australasian Premier Trotting Sale to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday. Of the 46 lots to be presented, 23 are from winners, with 18 from successful broodmares, including a host of ‘black type’ performers. Heading the list are the dams are the Trotters’ Oaks winners Maori’s Dream (Vic) and Queen’s Rhapsody (NSW), The Redwood winner Elusive Charm, the NZ Jewels runner-up Gladys Emanuel and the HRI Gold Bracelet and Breeders’ Crown runner-up Aldebaran Maori. The Group race placegetters Flaming Action, Aldebaranfavourite, Countessa Hest, Arnika’s Pride and Redwood Consolation winner Aldebaran Breeze also have yearlings in the sale. While metropolitan winning racemares represented include Calder Fury, Speedy Naomi, Im Mumbo Jumbo, Mystic Jewel and Strapon. The catalogue comprises the dams of 31 winners, which have amassed more than 160 wins, including dual Oaks and Vicbred champion Claudys Princess, Calder Sensation, Aldebaran Maori, Pride Of Sundon, Val Gardena, Atego Lilly, Bohemian Queen and last Sunday’s Kapunda Cup winner Nico Serrano. There are yearlings closely-related to Inter Dominion champions Sumthingaboutmaori and Our Real Force, and other top trotters such as Kyvalley Road, Blitzthemcalder, Galleon’s Assassin, The Fiery Ginga, Sunny Elegant, Mister Castelton, Merinai and Noopy Kiosk to name a few. Interestingly, no less than 10 yearlings hail from the famous tribe founded by Maori Miss, while 15 are from the New Zealand-bred dams and two from American-bred mares. For a copy of the catalogue visit Harness Racing Victoria during office hours, Tabcorp Park Melton, your local country club or email ahavelberg@hrv.org.au Pedigrees are available at www.austrottingsale.com.au PETER WHARTON

Reigning Great Southern Star champion Keystone Del is well-positioned to defend his harness racing title at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Back to his best following some minor setbacks, the Nicole Molander-trained trotter has drawn to lead throughout the opening heat. In what should prove little more than a training exercise for the son of Dr Ronerail, the gelding will begin from barrier three. Along with having an extra half-hour rest before the Final than those in the second heat, on paper Keystone Del’s qualifier also appears to be the weaker of the two. The extra rest and likely softer run make Keystone Del the one to beat in the series yet again. New Zealand raider Stent, which beat Keystone Del in the Grand Prix a fortnight ago, faces a tougher task in the second heat. The Colin De Filippi-trained squaregaiter will come out of barrier six, with handy types such as My High Expectations, Spidergirl and Neville Vaughan among those drawn on his inside. Unbeaten from three Aussie starts this campaign, Stent will need to be at his top against a solid assembly. Stent and Keystone Del dominated last season’s heats before the latter claimed the Group One decider in which the Kiwi visitor was runner-up. Although still in its infancy, the Great Southern Star has quickly developed into the nation’s premier trot, with the $300,000 Final scheduled for 10pm PAUL COURTS

Injury has robbed one of harness racing’s premier events - the Great Southern Star - of its French group winner Used To Me. Tthe Anton Golina-trained stallion pulled up lame after impressively winning a trial at Menangle recently. The flashy chestnut stallion distanced his rivals as he carved out the mile trial in a slick 1.57.6, but was sore after the race and his  trainer’s worst fears were realized shortly afterwards. As such, Used To Me will miss the Group One at Tabcorp Park Melton on March 7. “Unfortunately Used To Me has pulled up with a strain to a ligament due to losing a shoe in his most recent trial win at Menangle, and on vet’s  advice, he will have to have 12 weeks to recover,” Golina said. “It's unfortunate as the horse trialled super with reinsman Luke Mcarthy saying he felt great and was just jogging.” Used To Me won several group races in France where he also stood at stud before relocating to Australia last year, where he has been preparing for the Great Southern Star at Golina’s Kemps Creek barn. He also served a small, but select, group of mares, including New Zealand Trotting Oaks winner Commander Jewel  (TR2.00.5. 10 wins, $61,000)  and the good winners I’m Ready Set (TR1.56.6, 10 wins $69,000), Speedy Naomi (TR2.03.9, 15 wins $77,000) and Another Player (TR2.03.9, 9 wins $62,000). Video link  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtshbO4cyI4 HRV Media

Cancelled due to heavy rain, last night’s Tontine Pacers’ Final has been rescheduled. With constant downpour making the Ballarat circuit unfit for competition, Harness Racing Victoria stewards abandoned the meeting. As such, the Tontine Final has been shifted to Sunday, February 22. The field and barrier draw will remain the same, with scratchings reinstated. The A.J. Prendergast Memorial Oaks Trial will be re-scheduled to a later date, with an announcement is expected early next week. The storm also hit Melton pretty hard, including a local creek breaking its bank. As for the world class circuit at Tabcorp Park, it has coped well with the downpour and is expected to be in top condition for tonight’s stellar meeting. Heading the action is the Inter Dominion heat, with rising star Lennytheshark the favourite from barrier three. PAUL COURTS

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