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Hotasel might just be Australia’s most improved horse and Saturday night he looks to continue his impressive rise through the ranks when he contests the Sokyola Sprint at Tabcorp Park Melton A former Sunraysia trained pacer he was transferred to the Toolern Vale stables of John Justice six months ago to race in better quality races and now he is justifying the owners' belief that he was a serious racehorse. Justice has been pleasantly surprised, not by his ability but more so with how consistent he is as a racehorse and that has shown with his three runs this time in. “His run in the Mildura Cup when second behind Arden Rooney when he galloped at the start was terrific so from that point on I knew he was a very good horse but to be as consistent as he is is probably a surprise," Justice said. Even from a young age he has always had an abundance of high speed but now Hotasel is developing the strength and race smarts to become a top-liner." "He finds the line strong and does everything right," Justice said. If there is one small blight on him is that he doesn’t handle the stand starts so it all but rules out country cups, but Justice is setting him some very lofty goals in the next couple of months. “He’ll run Saturday night then he’ll go to the Popular Alm Sprint in two weeks." "If all goes well we’ll probably head to Ballarat and then go to Adelaide for the SA Cup, which will be his first major assignment." "Then when he comes back to Victoria we have the mobile cups including the Victoria Cup, Ballarat Cup and Bendigo Cup provided he measures up.” He faces a tough ask from the back row Saturday night but he has been a dominant winner at his past two starts and he looks a terrific chance to make it three on end. Justice also has Loong Nien engaged in the Group 3 Gordon Rothacker Memorial and he believes if he leads he will run a tremendous race. “If he can hold the horses drawn out wide and work to the front again he is certainly capable of running very fast times off the front over that trip," Justice said. Matt Jackson  

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today announced measures to further assist integrity in the sport with the installation of additional cameras at Tabcorp Park Melton. The advanced cameras will cover all horse stalls, parade ring, float car park and maintenance equipment shed. The use of CCTV cameras has greatly assisted law enforcement agencies in solving crimes over a long period of time and is commonplace within the community. HRV believes the installation of these cameras ensures greater integrity for the sport at its major racing venue, Tabcorp Park. The HRV Integrity Unit will have access to the CCTV footage to investigate complaints and matters arising out of trials and race meetings. The CCTV can also be provided to law enforcement agencies to assist them in identifying persons responsible for any criminal offences at the venue, including burglary and theft. “This is a great initiative and will assist the HRV Integrity Unit in monitoring and providing evidence where required to support prosecutions where allegations have been made against them that have no basis whatsoever,” HRV Compliance Manager Brent Fisher said. The time of the announcement is significant with these works to start shortly with major races in January and February to be held at Tabcorp Park, including the Victoria Cup and the Hunter Cup during the Summer of Glory Carnival. HRV CEO John Anderson added: “The HRV Board is supporting the HRV Integrity Unit with continued investment in new resources such as these cameras and other detection devices, to ensure participants adhere to the rules.” Cody Winnell

Last Friday night the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton proved the $5 each-way punter is very much looked after in the trots with winners at odds of $36.10, $65.10, $6.10, $11.20 and $33.10. If you’d played field into field in Races 1 and 2 – both open races on paper – into One Yankee Hall ($1.20) – considered by most to be night’s “moral” – into Hellovaway  ($4.40) and Mistressofillusion ($2.80) – the clear second favourites in Race 4 – in a $50 flexi early quaddie, you would walked away with almost $9000 in your pocket. The EQ paid $38,431.80 overall and the $50 ticket would have had you on for 22.72 per cent of the dividend. But of course, how easy is everything in hindsight!? Josh Aiken took driving honours from the meeting with a winning double. The first leg for the young reinsman was One Yankee Hall defeating Columbias Deejay in the Pridmore Eelctrics Trot over 2240m in a rate of 2:02.3. Later on the card Aiken combined with father David, who trains the Avenel team, again with Vics Cheval to win the Alabar Trot over 2240m in a rate of 2:00.5. Vics Cheval ($3.20) led from the start out of gate two, Aiken expertly guiding him through a jogging 61.4secs first half before taking the sting out of his chasers down the back with a 27.9secs third section. Vics Cheval had almost 10m to spare on her rivals at the wire after a 29.2secs final split. Mister Sumna achieved something rare in winning heat three of the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship for trainer Dean Braun and reinsman Chris Alford, coming from off the pace to win after a 32.7secs second quarter in a sprint race. Mister Sumna ($11.20) charged by the opposition late to score by 1.8m over race favourite Under Worked. “It’s not often the leaders run a 32 quarter around Melton and one wins from back there, but he did get a nice cart-up and swamped them at the finish,” Alford said. Despite the superb win by Mister Sumna, Barimah from the Tony Peacock stable looks hard to beat in the Rothacker final after his comfortable heat win on Friday night. Cody Winnell

Mistressofillusion makes her debut for trainer Brett Cox at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night. The four-year-old mare has looked infallible this time in with three wins from three starts at Ballarat, Swan Hill and Terang. Formerly trained by Cox’s training partner David Lewis, Mistressofillusion is expected to start near the top of the betting tables in the Gippsland Racing Training Centre Pace over 1720 metres. Cox, 26, who has been training with Lewis for about four years, has spent time training horses in Sydney and was also previously based in the USA with top horseman Chris Ryder for 18 months. “I’ve been doing it full-time my whole life,” he said. “It’s been really good with Dave. He’s taking a bit of a step back while he builds his house and it’s a great opportunity to be able to train Mistressofillusion." “When I first started there it was only a small but select team. We’re up to about the 14-horse mark now." "To walk into a stable with horses the calibre of what Dave had was fantastic." “It helps that he breeds his own. He’s very meticulous and has been a great mentor to me.” Cox said Mistressofillusion had come a long way in her three campaigns to date. The daughter of Jeremes Jet out of Whodyou Wantmetobe has racked up five wins and a second from 11 starts and displays a potent turn of foot. “She’s one of the quickest horses I’ve got behind,” Cox said. “We’re not sure how good she is yet. After Friday night she’ll probably go to the paddock for a month then we’ll return her for the Vicbred Mares Sprint Championship and then hopefully the Vicbred Super Series." “She’s been a late maturing horse. She’s quirky and has a real mind of her own. She’s very quick and she’s getting stronger. She’ll hopefully keep on getting stronger.” Mistressofillusion savaged the line at Terang winning on November 2 over a mile, coming from last at the 400m to score by 2.1m over Dam Lucky in a rate of 1:58.3, her last quarter clocked in the low 27s. Cody Winnell

Word out of the tank has been consistent since the very earliest part of Lennytheshark’s harness racing Inter Dominion preparation. “I wouldn’t swap him for any other runner” is the message trainer David Aiken has used several times right through the prep, and tonight’s obliteration of a star-studded Olympus Feeds Smoken Up Sprint field has Lennytheshark a clear favourite for the Perth Inter Dominion starting in a fortnight. Lennytheshark’s win took a huge confidence chunk out of several ID15 contenders, the son of Four Starzzz Shark/Botswana exploding to beat pacemaker Keayang Cullen by 10.6 metres in a 1:52.8 mile rate at Tabcorp Park Melton. About sixth 100m before the quarter pole, Lennytheshark eased wide and let rip with surging run around the field. Into the straight he booted clear, the final quarter clocked in 27 seconds – Lennytheshark making up 10m on top of that. Reinsman Chris Alford delivered a brilliant drive, steering Lennytheshark away from the markers early after starting inside the second row. Lennytheshark ended up one out and two back in the run. Early in the race Keayang Cullen pressed hard to find the top for Jason Lee, working to the pegs after 400m, crossing early leader Avonnova. Race favourite Our Hi Jinx came away from the markers to avoid being buried alive, while Easy On The Eye punched the breeze. Keayang Cullen’s lead time was quick – 6.8 – and his first quarter about as slick as they come (27.2secs). The Terang pacer secured a much-needed breather through the second stanza (31.4) before the pace hastened again down the back. Avonnova, who ended up with the run of the race on the leader’s back for Shane Graham, chased hard in the home straight but couldn’t reel in a game Keayang Cullen, which kept on fighting to run second. Five Star Anvil wasn’t far off in fourth, while Keayang Steamer found the line fairly well for fifth. Meanwhile, mare Maori Time led throughout to win the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint over 1720m. Driven by Anthony Butt for Brent Lilley, the six-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur/Sundonna cruised to the lead from gate two and was never threatened, coasting home in a cool 1:55.0 to beat Sydneysider On Thunder Road by 2m with Kyvalley Blur in third. Trainer Courtney Slater opened proceedings with victory in the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace, driver Glen Craven steering Goodtime Rusty (Artesian/Rustlin A Kiss) home by a short half-head over Desiring Kate, with Hollys Miss Molly third in 1:56.5 over 2240m. Lilley combined with Gavin Lang in Race 2 with Sun Of Anarchy prevailing in the Rayner Real Estate Trot over 2240m defeating Barefoot Sally and Lightning Calder in 1:59.8. Lightning Calder wasn’t on his best behaviour early and lost considerable ground, so he’s one for your black book. Trainer Paul Rowse made up for his narrow defeat in Race 1 in the third race with Savesomtimetodream victorious for driver Greg Sugars. The eight-year-old by Village Jasper out of Cultured Lombo worked his way around to the lead after about 600m scouting deep. Lets Elope emerged very late to grab second ahead of a brave Daylight Dan in 1:58.3. The second leg of a winning double for Gavin Lang came via roughie Guggenhein in Race 4, the Pridmore Electrics Pace Final over 2240m. Driven forward to find the chair Guggenheim always travelled well before skipping to the lead in the home straight and holding off Milady Denver (leader’s back) and Ark (one-one) in a rate of 1:57.8. Guggenheim is trained by Amanda McHenry at Melton. Andy and Kate Gath enjoyed success in the Caduceus Club Living Legend Pace with impressive six-year-old Bettors Delight/Regret gelding Mister Mundaka leading from gate seven and fending off Ive Gottalife and Desdon Murruffy at the finish over 1720m. Mister Mundaka found plenty when Kate Gath asked him for maximum effort, rating 1:54.1 to win by almost 2m. John Justice said SA Cup plans were well on track for handy six-year-old Hotasel (Elsu/Hotgossip), who beat Manuka Man and Franco Ledger in second and third in the Congratulations Kerryn and Arden Rooney Free-for-All over 1720m in a rate of 1:54.7. Hot favourite Mach Alert wilted after leading to run fourth. Emma Stewart and Nathan Jack combined with five-year-old Art Major/Sabrina Bromac mare Tuscan Breeze to win the Victorian Harness Racing Media Association Pace over 1720m. Driven in the one-one by Jack, Tuscan Breeze eased three-wide into the home straight and hit the line best to stave off a fast-finishing Kamwood Dawn, with long odds-on favourite Morton Plains battling on for third. Trainer Joanne Franklin, who is based at Moonlight Flats, teamed with Ararat reinsman Michael Bellman for victory in the Sheron Park Trot Final (Race 10) with Royal Dream. The five-year-old by Monarchy out of Dreamlands Nancy drew well clear at the finish to defeat stablemates Tella Tall Tale and Spud, who made up plenty of ground, in a rate of 2:02.5. Bellman brought up a career milestone during the week with Witzend’s win on Tuesday at Stawell the driver’s 1000th success in the sulky. Rounding out a cracking night of trots action was exciting four-year-old Cruz Bromac, who slayed his rivals in the Eynesbury Homestead and Golf Pace Final over 2240m. Driven by Greg Sugars, the son of Falcon Seelster/Crown Defender probably didn’t leave third gear, cruising home in 1:56.8 by 23.8m over runner-up Mystical Tilly with Maken Art Magic third in the 2240m race. Based on the strength of tonight’s win the Dean Braun-trained pacer has much bigger wins in store. by Cody Winnell

Saturday night's City of Melton Plate at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton has attracted a star studded field but it could very well be the unearthing of Lance Justice’s next gun pacer. Love Ina Chevy might only be early into his career but he is certainly progressing in the right direction. A former Kiwi he has many similarities to a couple of Justice’s former Champions in Sokyola and Smoken Up. Like that awesome duo Justice acquired him from New Zealand after a handful of starts and has quickly set about sending him through his classes. Justice is under no illusions that he has a long way to go to match those two greats but he predicts he will be a topliner. “He is a top class horse in the making. I’m not saying he is as good as them yet but he certainly has the credentials to be one of those horses.” He has won three of his four Australian starts and although beaten at Cranbourne last start Justice said he had an excuse there and he can bounce back Saturday night. “He had an abscess after his last win and missed some work before his run last start but his run was good.” It’s a really good field and he will need some luck but he will be right amongst it and he is certainly not the worst horse in the race” It shapes up as a cracking race with a stack of chances and will be run at 8.02pm Saturday Night. Matt Jackson  

Talented Terang pacer Keayang Steamer resumes from a long spell in Sunday’s Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Pacing Cup. At his best Keayang Steamer was able to upstage superstars like Smoken Up and Melpark Major, getting the better of Trigger in the 2014 Horsham Cup and toppling Melpark Major a couple of weeks later at Tabcorp Melton. But the son of Riverboat King has only graced the starter twice in 14 months and is first up since February this weekend, so it’s a case of “fingers crossed” rather than taking grand expectations into the race for trainer Marg Lee. “He’s shown what he can do, so we’ve got our fingers crossed and we’ll take each race as it comes,” she said. “He’s done a lot of fast work over the distance without fully putting the pressure on him.” The impressive gelding has won 16 races from 38 starts for $210,043 prizemoney and will be aimed at next year’s Sumer of Glory carnival all going well. But it is a case of baby steps for the time being, according to Lee, who said Keayang Steamer wasn’t strong enough in his “back, stifles and quads” last time in. “His quads needed a lot of bulking up. He’s been doing a lot of riding and a lot of hill work here,” she said. “He’s had three trials and we’re happy enough with where he’s at. It was just a matter of finding a suitable race and with Arden Rooney and Flaming Flutter not in it we decided to go here.” Keayang Steamer will start from a 10-metre handicap alongside Exciteusinthecity in the $30,610 Group 3 Maryborough feature. Lara’s Dean Braun has polemarker Macho Comacho in the field and will be hoping the stand-start specialist gelding can improve on a first-up 11th in the Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Brent Lilley-trained Lets Elope has gate three after a big third at Swan Hill, while Glenn Douglas-trained stablemates The Dip (gate four) and Skippy Rascal (six) will be split by Vince Vallelonga’s last-start M1-M2 winner Manuka Man. Keith Cotchin will present country cups specialist Road To Rock after it ran fifth in the Swan Hill feature, while Matthew Craven-trained Changing Code has barrier eight, Craig Demmler’s Charlie Machsheen will come out of gate nine, Tim Bolitho-trained Arber will start from 10 and Geoff Lucas-trained Daylight Dan has barrier 11. Kerryn Manning’s in-form six-year-old Jaccka Art is the emergency. Meanwhile, the popular TrotsCruiser will be in attendance at Maryborough with showbags for people who enter the "Drive Away in the Trotscruiser" promotion.  HRV and the TAB will also be giving away a $1000 bet on the Cup via the Trot Selfies competition.   CODY WINNELL

Presidentialsecret is hoping to get the key to the city when Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s five-year-old gelding makes its 21st attempt at winning at the track.  With 12 wins across its 44 starts, the stable approaches Friday night’s Group 3 Empire Stallions VicBred Platinum Pace with some confidence that Presidentialsecret can enjoy its first win at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. “It’s racing well and has a lot of class,” Tonkin said. “The horse probably wasn’t racing at true form last time, but is back from a spell and his form has been really good.” Among five runs since that winter spell Presidentialsecret has been beaten a half-head into second at Melton on September 5, saluted at Geelong on October 1 and placed third at Ballarat eight days later, when a photo-finish separated three who came home in a 1:54.7 mile rate. On Friday he returns to Melton for the 21st time, a win drought that Tonkin attributes to opportunity more than ability. “A fair few trips to Melton were young sires; he’s been racing in good company as a two, three and four-year-old,” Tonkin said. “He has probably had half-a-dozen goes at M0s, but the last time he had ulcers and we’ve treated him and he has come back a different horse.” Tonkin said the Platinum Pace appeared “an open race”, with threats including Paul Rowse’s filly Desiring Kate, who is among those sharing the second row with Presidentialsecret. The Smythes Creek team will also make an assault on Friday’s Group 3 Harness Breeders Victoria Cinderella Stakes, in which its Group 1 winning mare Whereibylong will endeavour to overcome a tough draw to take the main cut of the $30,350 stake. “She never runs a bad race,” Tonkin said. “She definitely has the class in the race. “Drawn inside on the second row over the short distance could be tough, but she is a class mare and she’ll run a really big race.” Whereibylong’s last 11 starts have yielded eights win and three seconds, including the Group 2 Breeders Crown Championship at Melton on August 30. To return to the winners circle she’ll have to mow down another in-form fancy in Amanda Turnbull-trained Betabcool, a Kiwi export which is up in class but has been stellar since jumping the ditch. “I think Betabcool is a horse in form and probably has the right draw for a short trip, but I wouldn’t be giving my mare over for any other,” Tonkin said. “I am very confident in her ability.” The stable also has Jadahson returning in the Alan Mance Holden Pace, its first race since January 18, having recovered from a broken pastern. Though back from a long spell and “drawn a bit awkwardly”, Tonkin said Jadahson “has never run a bad race”.  And it has Another Safari - “a pretty classy horse, but has drawn badly” – in race five, the Soho Standardbreds Pace. Michael Howard  

The Feature race on a big night of trots at Melton on Saturday is the Group 2 City of Melton Plate and harness racing trainer Vince Vallelonga is hopeful his star pacer Major Crocker can use it as a stepping stone to gaining a start in this year’s Inter Dominion in Perth. “We paid the first payment the other day so we will go there if we can. I’m hopeful we can win Saturday Night to sneak up the rankings a bit,” he said. Vallelonga hasn’t ruled out a trip to Queensland if needed to help him gain a start but would prefer to qualify in his home state. “If he doesn’t win Saturday Night we will look at other options like the QPC next week.  Ideally I don’t want to travel that far then have to come back and then go to Perth.” A terrific run last week finishing off well in a blistering last half behind Philadelphia Man Vallelonga is extremely happy with how the horse pulled up from that run. “He is going good, he came through it really well and I am pretty happy with him.” He is the only horse drawn the second line on Saturday night so driver Greg Sugars will have options early and Vallelonga will leave it all up to him. “Once they’re out there things can change so I’ll just leave it up to Greg, he has driven enough races to know what to do and he knows the horse inside out.” Vallelonga has two other runners engaged on the program including the luckless Stunning Grin in the first, who is racing very consistently and would thoroughly deserve his M0 win, and also Manuka Man in Race 6, who has been freshened after having issues with his feet but has drawn well for the claim of Jason Lee. by Matt Jackson Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015

Keystone Del’s team will hope to build on his latest harness racing winning streak on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton and leave recent injury woes well in his wake. The eight-year-old will be favoured to record a fourth successive win in the Group 3 City of Melton Scotch Notch Memorial, a fine comeback since a right kidney tear threatened to derail his 2015. Dean Molander, husband of trainer Nicole, said connections were eager to “just take it one race at a time”. “So far so good,” he said. Keystone Del reeled off 13 consecutive wins from March 22, 2014, beginning with the Group 1 Great Southern Star. Coincidently, it was the 2015 staging of the same race – when Keystone Del faded to finish seventh – that concerns emerged about the gelding’s ailing health. “He had quite a bit of blood is his urine when he was getting swabbed,” Molander said. “It happened a few times.” The repeat incidence made connections believe it was more than muscle tie-up. Keystone Del was sent to the University of Melbourne, where he was placed on a dialysis machine and across three days of testing the tear was discovered, with rest the anecdote and enabling his return.  “After every run now he has a urine test and is monitored,” Molander said. And, to repeat, “so far so good”. “He set a track record two starts ago and Chris Alford said if he let him go last time he would have broken it again.” It was August 14 at Melton where Keystone Del ran a track record 1:54.5 mile rate, fittingly eclipsing favourite Maori Time, who eight months earlier broke Keystone Del’s 13-race winning streak. Alford then guided Keystone Del to a 6.7m win in Group 3 True Roman Trotters Free For All at his last start, having been called to have “coasted” in a “one-act affair”. Notably, Pretty Sunday (second), Aleppo Midas (third) and Aleppo Sunrise (fourth) were among those in his wake and they’ll return for potentially a repeat dose Saturday night in the City of Melton Scotch Notch Memorial. “Everything being equal you’d expect he will go very close, and he trialled very well at Geelong on Monday,” Molander said. The pre-race trial is common practice for Keystone Del, who Molander said was not one to overtrain, “and if we give him one decent run the week of his race that just brings him right up.” He said Kyvalley Blur would be “the hardest to beat” Saturday night, but added “the only time he has beaten him was when he had those kidney problems”.  “(Kyvalley Blur) is a very good horse and has a good record, but I’m sure the rest of the runners are more scared of us than we are of them.” All going well, Keystone Del will be directed at the Bill Collins Trotters Mile in November before, longer-term, a return assault on the Great Southern Star in March where the team will attempt to adhere to some unfinished business. by Michael Howard Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 10 October 2015

After crossing the Tasman Sniggihdis (Race 3 tonight at Melton) popped up at Yarra Valley for his Australian debut and won like a very nice pacer. Three starts later he seems to have lost form, but don't write him off yet warns trainer/driver Lance Justice. "He's still going okay. He wasn't  given much chance last start. I still think he goes all right," Justice said. >> Check out the fields for tonight's 10-race program at Tabcorp Park Melton WILL ARDEN ROONEY BOUNCE BACK TO WINNING FORM? If Hunter Cup champ and summer star Arden Rooney is to return to New Zealand on a New Zealand Trotting Cup campaign he'd want to improve tonight at Tabcorp Park in the My Lightning Blue Free for All.  Trainer/driver Kerryn Manning says the stayer looks in great order at home on the training track but needs to put it together on race night after two below-par runs this time in.  >> Can Arden Rooney bounce back to winning form in My Lightning Blue FFA? TOP DRIVERS HEAD TO MILDURA FOR ANNUAL C/SHIP MEET The annual Drivers Invitation Championships meeting at Mildura is always an absolute cracker. Nice weather, people looking to party on after watching the AFL grand final in the daytime, great racing with the best reinsmen and reinswomen heading to the track and some wonderful on-course promotions. All roads lead to Mildura tomorrow night. Don't miss it! >> Find out more about Mildura's big meeting tomorrow night   The Tipping for Teal continues at Melton tonight! See our panel's $20 plays of the night below. Follow the leader board each week to see how much money will be donated to the Women's Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute after Feb 28, next year.  FLEXI TRIFECTA  RACE 3 4 / 1,8 / 1,3,5,8,12,13 $20 gets you on for 200%   $20 ALL-UP (2 legs) RACE 2 No.5 ZHENYA into RACE 5 No.2 WHEREIBYLONG $20 ALL-UP (4 legs) RACE 1 No.1 DESIRING KATE into RACE 2  No.5 ZHENYA into RACE 5 No.2 WHEREIBYLONG into RACE 6 No.8 PHILADELPHIA MAN $20 ALL-UP (2 legs) RACE 2 No.5 ZHENYA into RACE 4 No.6 SAVESOMTIMETODREAM AFL Grand Final weekend so we're having a bob each-way on Hawks & Eagles with $5 EACH-WAY on horses celebrating the pair. Firstly for the Brown and Golds Race 5 No.6 GLENFERRIE COLLEGE and for the Coasters Race 6 No.2 COPPER COAST The Leader Board image has suffered from a technical glitch this week, hence the poorly put together graphic above. HOWEVER, it tells a story that both Jase ($43.33) and Cody ($70) made profits last week to remain Nos 1 and 2 on the ladder. Dan Mielicki got a small percentage of the quaddie but not enough to profit for the week while Blake and The Omen registered zero collects.   TROTS AUDIO FILES   Follow on Twitter | Like us on Facebook | Forward to a friend  

Last summer’s champion Arden Rooney needs to improve Friday night in the My Lightning Blue Free for All at Melton for harness racing  trainer Kerryn Manning to be confident he’d be a good show at cups time in New Zealand. The Hunter Cup winner has not flattered at either run to date this time in, finishing eighth beaten 17.6 metres in the Gammalite first-up over 2760m (off a 40m handicap) and sixth of seven in the Preux Chevalier Free for All over 2240m, beaten 24.5m by Franco Ledger after sitting in the breeze. But 2014 Gordon Rothacker medallist Manning changed Arden Rooney’s training regime following his most recent run. “I put the hopples on him at home because I thought I had to try something,” she said. “His work’s been really good. The horse looks super. “I probably had him 85 per cent before the first-up run, but he had an impossible task from the handicap and the times they ran that night. “Second-up I thought he was more like 95 per cent but he just got tired. He’d had enough by the home bend.” Arden Rooney will start from barrier seven on Friday night over 1720m, a distance range he’s never won at. He’ll face opposition such as Philadelphia Man (1-52.6 best mile rate overall and 1-53.4 best mile rate over trip at Melton) and Franco Ledger (1-53.7 best rate over 1720m). Philadelphia Man is the lone runner off the second row on Friday night, while Franco Ledger will come out of gate six. The battle for early supremacy over the short course looks intriguing with Arber (one), Exciteusinthecity (three) and Major Crocker (four) all likely to be handy and potentially wanting to hold the front if they can find the markers first. So what does Manning hope to do aboard Arden Rooney from her draw out in the cheap seats? “I think most of that front line would let him go if we put enough pressure on,” she said. “He came out pretty good last time.” Arden Rooney won last year's Kakoura Cup and is likely to cross the Tasman in coming weeks to defend the crown before heading to the NZ Trotting Cup in November. by Cody Winnell

The Puppet, Chris Alford, is not in town at the harness racing meeting at Melton tomorrow night but The Puppeteer sure will be. Ellas Puppeteer, who set chins wagging and people scouring the record books with a 1-52.8 win at Charlton last time out, will line up in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series C Final. It is Race 10 at 10.40pm but punters will want to stay up late to see what eventuates. Ellas Puppeteer has had four starts for two wins and two seconds, the four-year-old gelding winning his last two with ease – his most recent win in track record time at Charlton. At his most recent triumph Ellas Puppeteer was parked outside leader Iceobar throughout before pulling clear for a mighty win by 12.4 metres, Stanley expertly pulling the strings. “It’s interesting because everyone has said that to me,” the reinsman said when asked about driving the gelding along coming around the home turn last time out. “On the track though, in the race it always felt like I had the leader covered.” Ellas Puppeteer is superbly bred, by top sire Shadow Play out of Smiley Ella, who the Stanleys raced for two wins from five starts. Smiley Ella won a Vicbred Super Series heat at two defeating Glenferrie Inn by 6.6 metres in 2-01.5 but bowed a tendon and only raced twice more after a lengthy stint on the sidelines. Smiley Ella’s dam, Exotic Strike, was also trained by the Stanley stable and won $171,945 in stakes – including victory in the rich Australian Pacing Gold Final at Moonee Valley in 2000. Ellas Puppeteer is also a half-brother to Arms Of Ink, who won two from two last year before also injuring a leg. His scans are all clear now and he’ll return to the track soon. As for Ellas Puppeteer he’s a C1, but not for long. “We think he can measure up (to the top-class four-year-olds)." :To be honest, the horse has got that much improvement in him,” Stanley said. “Once he develops a bit of gate speed he’ll be a lot better." "He’s learning how to race more every time.” Drawing eight behind likely pacemaker Iceobar from the pole is not ideal, Stanley freely admits. “It’s a hard one,” he said. “Dad and I were talking about it last night and he’s of the view that you take the luck out of it and come off the fence." "I think Iceobar would probably hold the lead." “But at the end of the day the horse (Ellas Puppeteer) has a long future and will win better races than this.” Cody Winnell

The Andy Gath stable has been low flying lately and he heads to the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night with two recent acquisitions to his stable that look like having terrific futures. In Race 2 he has Arts Stride engaged and Gath admitted he hasn’t been particularly happy with his past couple of starts. “His last two runs he probably hasn’t gone quite as well compared to his previous two but in saying that when he got challenged at Cranbourne he really knuckled down. He is inexperienced but definitely on the way up," Gath said. He has won five of his 11 starts overall in what has been an injury interrupted career (he had over a year off the scene with a severe injury) but Gath is hoping he can develop into a nice horse. “I’ve had him a long time as he had to have an operation on a hind leg but he has come back really well." "He isn’t a superstar but he is a really nice horse you would think would get to metro class.” Friday Night he has drawn well in what shapes as a fantastically competitive race and Gath rates the Amanda Turnbull-trained Star Black as the horse to beat. The battle early will play a pivotal role in the race. “He has got pretty natural gate speed, obviously his main danger is Star Black drawn two, who has gate speed, too." "He doesn’t have to lead but it’s quite a competitive race.” Gath’s other runner on the night might be a future trotting star in Glenferrie Typhoon. He has only had the three starts for his stable and Gath has been extremely happy with what he has seen so far but it hasn’t surprised him." “He has performed well in all of his runs so far, we were lucky enough to acquire him when he came on the market and he has always been a quality horse so it’s no surprise to see him doing what he’s doing.” Formerly trained by Craig Demmler he had a taste of the big time last campaign and Gath said that is the level he expects him to get to this time in. “He has had a little taste of open company and he performed well so hopefully this time in he can measure up to the better ones." "He has really high speed for a trotter but in saying plenty others at that level do as well.” It shapes as a wonderful night of racing at Headquarters with the first of 10 at 6pm. Matt Jackson  

The Harness Racing Victoria​ (HRV) Integrity Unit has been proactive in recent weeks taking out-of-competition samples from various stables. HRV Integrity Unit has attended a number of stables over the last fortnight and taken samples from horses that are going to compete that day/evening or later in that week. HRV Integrity Unit devotes resources and funding on out-of-competition testing and a strong emphasis on this type of testing will continue. This strategy is consistent with recent sampling of (15) horses at Melton trials on September 1, and these initiatives help to give harness racing participants, the wagering public and the community confidence that integrity in the industry is paramount. “Out-of-competition testing is a key element of our overall integrity strategy to ensure harness racing participants a level playing field in Victoria,” said HRV Investigations Manager Brent Fisher. Harness Racing Victoria  

Despite the fact he's nine years old, Five Star Anvil has never raced better. It's a sentiment shared by harness racing trainer Adam Kelly, who has the son of McArdle/Alta Vista in winning form ahead of Friday night's Preux Chevalier Free For All at Tabcorp Park Melton.  A brilliant winner last week in The Gammalite, Five Star Anvil returns to the a mobile start but Kelly is adamant he will be ultra competitive. “He is going good. He is probably the best I have had him. He only needs a little bit of luck and he will hit the line pretty strong and it wouldn’t surprise me if he did win," Kelly said. The trainer hasn’t ruled out a trip to Perth for the Inter Dominion later in the year, either. “With the right trip he is not out of that class, his run a fortnight ago if he had any sort of luck he goes very close in a similar field.” My Bella Starr goes around in the opening race Friday night for Kelly, who admits the mare is in the twilight of her career and motherhood awaits. “We are going to get her in foal this year, we will retire her in the next month or so," he said. Kelly is hoping she can win her M0 before that day comes. “She has had a pretty chequered preparation this time, a few things have gone wrong. She has definitely got the ability. She is good enough to win, drawn out wide she will just need some luck but I wouldn’t think she would be too far away.” Also in the first Kelly has The Family Guy resuming but he has drawn badly and had a minor setback about a month ago when a virus hit the stable. “I got a bit of a bug in the stable a good month or so ago and he actually got it. It’s his first run back and he has drawn out the back but as long as he hitting the line nicely that’s all im looking for.”                Outrageous El is the last of the Kelly gang Friday night and he was a terrific winner last week making a mid-race move and winning comfortably. Kelly is happy with where he is at. “He is going good, he is one of those horses in that if he gets the right run and is close enough I think he is quite capable of winning.” Friday Night also honours the memory of Danielle Lewis, who tragically lost her life doing what she loved last year. Her memorial is one of the features along with the Group 3 Maori’s Idol Trotters Free For All on a bumper 10-race card. The first kicks off at 5.30pm with the Danielle Lewis Memorial Race 5 at 8.30pm. by Matt Jackson Harness Racing Victoria

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