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Champion sire Love You left important winners in two States last week. Central Otago, a three-year-old colt, was a dashing end-to-end winner of the Group 1 $50,000 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final at Melton. The colt won as he liked with the heat winner Sweet On You completing a quinella in the Final. Watch the race replay click here! The mile rate for 1720 metres was 1:58.8 highlighted by a closing 800 in a slick 57.7. One night earlier, the Love You gelding Affaire De Cover, a Group 2 winner as two-year-old last season, was an effortless winner of the Bathurst Gold Coronet. Other recent Love You winners were the two-year-old Highgrove, who is unbeaten in two starts at Addington, New Zealand by a combined 12-1/2 lengths, and the three-year-olds Celebration Stride NZ (Maryborough) and Harbour Queen (Banks Peninsula, NZ). The promising Quaker Jet two-year-old filly Quik Barbie notched her first win in a NZ Sires’ Stakes prelude at Cambridge Raceway, scoring by 8-1/2 lengths. She will be one o fthe leading fancies for the $60,000 Trotting Championship Final at Addington on May 21. To complete a successful week, the Orlando Vici gelding Beau Garcon, a Group winner at two, posted his ninth success at Hobart on Friday night (March 19). Orlando Vici and Quaker Jet will both be strongly represented at the inaugural Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale on April 10 and 11.  Orlando Vic’s eight lots include a half-brother to the dual Vicbred champion  Always Ready 1:56 ($245,090) and fillies out of the Group winners Heavenly Sister 1:56.5 ($129,748) and Nieta (1:58.1) and K D Muscles 1:56.8 ($170,402). While Quaker Jet has a colt out of the multiple Group winner Glenferrie Burn 1:55.5 ($234,430) and a filly from the Breeders Crown champion Val Gardena 1:59.9 ($122,208).   by Peter Wharton

Husband and wife Chris and Alison Alford combined for a memorable Group 1 harness racing victory on a special Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. The pair teamed up with talented mare Sleepee for a dominant win in the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final, with the four-year-old leading all the way to claim her second success at the elite level. The champion reinsman had no trouble finding the front from barrier two and controlled the race before ripping home in a final quarter of 27.8sec to win by 6m over runner-up Alderbaran Crescent. The Dejarmbro mare, who is trained by Alison at the pair's Bolinda property, has now won 11 of 22 career starts for more than $150,000 in prizemoney. Chris Alford said it was a pretty easy display from the daughter of Dejarmbro, who is now back racing in top form after a significant injury early in her career. "She missed about 18 months racing with a torn tendon behind her knee and she never really went out of work. She just stayed in with a bit of rehab for all that time," he said. "To hold her form and to be back racing well is a great effort from everyone at home. "She had it pretty easy tonight, but she has got a real high cruising speed and she was doing it so easy tonight..." Sleepee was bred by Colin Murphy, who leased her to Alison Alford and her mum, Vicki Woodhouse. To watch Sleepee win tonight click on this link. It took some Chris Alford magic and a little bit of luck to get Queen Elida home in the Group 1 IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final earlier in the evening. Alford got buried three back the pegs on the Brent Lilley-trained filly and ran into dead ends when he tried to extricate into the clear, but eventually found the gaps and finished powerfully to win by 2m on the line. A galloping Ima Cherished Stride presented a run back along the sprint lane and the daughter of Love You did the rest, rocketing home to win over Lady In The Sky (Amanda Grieve, Brad Williamson) and Banglez (Emma Stewart, Kate Gath). The Group 1 win came at the former New Zealander's seventh run here in Australia. To watch Queen Elida win tonight click on this link.       "When she had her first run here she just didn't know what she was doing and gradually got better," Alford said. "Now she gets up on the bit and knows what racing is all about. She had to go from three wide, nearly four wide, turn five carts inwards and go to the sprint lane and flat pump. She handled that well and only nice ones can do that." Trainers Anthony Butt and Sonya Smith combined to get Wolf Stride into the Miracle Mile with victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle and then just minutes later watched on as stablemate Have No Fear took out the Group 1 Alan Mance Need For Speed Prince Final at Melton. Zac Phillips, who has been helping run the Butt/Smith stable while they are interstate, produced a clever front-running drive to beat the well-fancied odds-on favourite Kyvalley Hotspur (Brent Lilley, Chris Alford) by 9m, with My Used To Be (Lisa Miles) more than 30m back in third. "Great effort by this horse and the whole team at home," Phillips said. "I can't take credit for this one. Brad Chisholm, Amanda Grieve and the whole team out there - I really can't single out anybody. There's five or six of us and a lot of them have put a lot of hours in while Ants and Sonya have been away. So this win is more about them than me, that's for sure." To watch Have No Fear win click on this link.   Have No Fear, a gelding by Father Patrick, is also a former Kiwi who has now won five of his nine starts. For full results of tonight's program click here. HRV - Tim O'Connor

Zac Phillips’ drive on Magicool in the What The Hill Great Southern Star Final was nearly the stuff of legends, and although the young reinsman has to deal with the disappointment of getting so close to a massive Group 1 success, he seems content being beaten by a champion of the sport. Phillips provided the first shock of Friday night’s race when he crossed two noted speed runners to lead, a place he stayed until the last 50m when grabbed on the line by Andy Gath-trained star Tornado Valley. It was a brave performance from both driver and horse, who had been backed heavily at long odds for the final despite a modest third placing in the heats. "It probably wasn't as hard to take because I had every chance to beat him (Tornado Valley) and he was still too good for me,” Phillips said of the half-neck defeat. "Through the turn he (Magicool) was just jogging and I knew I had the favourite outside me in Majestic Man - I knew I had him beat - and there didn't look to be anything coming out wide. "I knew there was only one horse that I had to beat from then on in and it was going to be Tornado Valley. Obviously, there was a lot of talk that they weren't sure he'd back up after his huge run in the heat, so I was pretty confident through the turn. I thought I was travelling as good as any of them. "Even at the top of the straight when he kicked, I was still super confident and just that last 50m he was just out of gas. The early burn took the toll on him and he was found wanting." Great Southern Star: "A fairytale" as Tornado does it again Phillips said it was decided to give Magicool a warm-up before the final after he trotted poorly during the heat and that pressing forward from barrier five was the best way to give the horse a good spot in running. However, Phillips admitted that finding the lead was never expected. "I said (to trainer Rob O’Connell) that I was going to come out as hard as I can for 200m and try find a spot. And that if he happens to gallop, he gallops. But I wanted to go out giving it a red-hot crack,” he said. "That was the plan, but to be honest I never thought I'd cross either of the two inside of me (Majestic Man and Tornado Valley). It was more done hoping that I'd lob one-one, be behind the leader or something like that.” Phillips said it was a tremendous effort from the seven-year-old, who is edging towards $300,000 in stake earnings. "He just gives everything he's got every time he goes out there and I was so proud of him,” he said. "You know what? We didn't win, but it was probably one of the proudest moments I've had.”   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Kerryn Manning's outstanding on-track deeds were celebrated at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night when the female drivers' rooms were officially named in her honour. Only days after she became the first female driver or jockey in the world to eclipse 4000 driving wins, Manning was also awarded a commemorative frame, commisioned by Harness Racing Victoria, that celebrated her feat. Aided by reinsmen John Caldow and Mick Bellman, Trots Vision on-track host Rob Auber made the presentation and explained why the female change rooms were so deserving of baring Kerryn's name. "This was the drivers' room that once you owned by yourself, now you've got to share it with lots and lots of very talented women," Auber said. "It's only fitting that we name the ladies' drivers' room in your honour." A chuffed Manning said "that's really really special that is". "Hopefully Mick Bellman doesn't write something on it, I'll know who did if he does," she laughed. "That's really really nice." CLICK BELOW TO WATCH THE PRESENTATION COURTESY OF TROTS VISION   Harness Racing Victoria

LOCHINVAR ART’S got that rare magical mix harness racing so badly needs. He’s not just a superstar pacer, some would say already deserved of the “champion” tag, but he’s got charisma. In the words of trainer-driver David Moran, he’s quickly become a people's horse. And Moran is such a big part of that with his refreshingly open-book and can-do attitude to any and every media request. It was wonderful watching so many of the COVID restricted crowd at Melton line the fence after Lochinvar Art’s latest big win, the biggest of his career so far, in Saturday night’s Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup at Melton. Moran soaked it up and walked along the fence to make everyone feel part of it. The package that is Lochinvar Art has cut-through. Thoroughbred fans are taking notice, so too is the broader sporting world. He’s the pin-up horse harness racing can really ride on. Lochinvar Ar’s powerhouse Hunter Cup win was his sixth Group 1 victory in the past 13 months and he’s got another two he’s expected to win in the next month. The Arty Party is in full swing and now heads to owner-breeder Kevin Gordon’s hometown for the Group 1 Newcastle Mile on Friday week. Then it’s to Menangle on March 6 to try and go one better than he did last year in the $1 million Miracle Mile. TAB slashed his Miracle Mile odds from $2.20 to $1.70 after his Hunter Cup victory. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ IN THE aftermath to TORNADO VALLEY’S remarkable Great Southern Star win, champion trainer Tim Butt summed it up the best. Butt, who has trained some of the great modern champs like LYELL CREEK, TAKE A MOMENT and MR FEELGOOD, tweeted: “You’ve been good all your life and then moments like these define your career. Kudos to Andy and Kate and the team.” It’s so true. Andy Gath’s been a great trainer for a long time and Kate’s CV is stunning, but that three hours at Melton last Friday night will define them both for the rest of their careers. Just six weeks earlier they were both almost resigned to retiring Tornado Valley after a lacklustre trial followed a previous campaign where he looked a shadow of himself. Kate suggested – in effectively a desperate “last straw” move – to try interval training with the nine-year-old former Inter Dominion champion. It’s now history he only forced his way into the Great Southern Star with a stunning workout at home five days before the series. First-up since October 10, last year, Tornado Valley came out and downed the raging hot favourite MAJESTIC MAN and smashed the track record as well. Then, just to underline his greatness, about 2.5 hours later he did what he’s done so many times before, he found a way to win again and post the 10th Group 1 victory of his 101-start career in the Great Southern Star final. Andy was moved to call him just the second champion he’s trained, LA COOCARACHA being the other. And Kate said Tornado Valley was a “one in a million” horse and the package of the against-the-odds heat and final win ranked right up with her 2006 Hunter Cup win on About To Rock as a 23-year-old as the greatest moment of her career. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ THE Chariots Of Fire picture isn’t much clearer after two key qualifiers last weekend. Melton’s 4YO Bonanza has been the ultimate formline in recent years with the past four winners going on to win the Chariots – LAZARUS, JILLIBY KUNG FU, POSTER BOY and LOCHINVAR ART. Anthony Butt’s emerging BOOTS ELECTRIC scored an upset win this year, leaving horses like PACIFICO DREAM, EXPENSIVE EGO, KOWALSKI ANALYSIS and PERFECT STRIDE needing to rush to Sydney for the last qualifier, the Paleface Adios, at Menangle next Saturday night. At Menangle, ZEUSS BROMAC booked his spot in the Chariots with a 1min 50.9sec win in the Hondo Grattan. The next three home – STYLISH MEMPHIS, JAY OK and CRUNCH TIME – also qualified. The key runner yet to try and qualify is former Kiwi and now Queensland-based ONE CHANGE, who heads down for what will be a very strong Paleface Adios at Menangle on Saturday night. His stablemate, TURN IT UP, will come down with him to prepare for a clash with Lochinvar Art in the Newcastle Mile.   Sky Racing - Adam Hamilton

Tornado Valley, the reigning Trotting Masters champion, easily eclipsed his previous best efforts to claim the harness racing Gr.1 $300,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Friday). And in doing so, claimed the feature event with a straight sets victory. Reverting to the original format of elimination heats followed by the final on the same program, the Andy and Kate Gath prepared champion smashed the track record in his elimination heat with his all the way victory in a time of 1:53.1 which easily bettered the previous best time of 1:53.7 set by Keystone Del back in 2016. It was a stunning start to the 2021 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series. Having his first start since failing behind Pink Galahs in the Gr.1 $50,000 Bill Collins Sprint back on October 10, many wondered if the highly decorated performer could regain his best form. A searching piece of trackwork earlier in the week was the catalyst for connections accepting for the richest trotting feature staged in the southern hemisphere. Connections rolled the dice, and the decision was ultimately vindicated. Tornado Valley recorded splits of 28.6, 29.2, 27.5 and 28.4 seconds to topple star Kiwi trotter Majestic Man and Sundons Courage which safely stamped his ticket to the final. To watch Tornado Valley win this heat in a record 1:53.1 mile rate click here. It was a stunning return to racing, but it was only part of his amazing comeback. Recently crowned NSW Trotter of the Year Tough Monarch also led throughout in his elimination defeating McLovin and Magicool in a time of 1:54.6. Prepared by Rickie Alchin and handled by Anthony Butt, Tough Monarch recorded sectionals of 28.6, 30.2, 28.5 and 27.9 seconds. To watch Tough Monarch in his heat click here. With the two eliminations completed, the stage was then set for the final. Tornado Valley fared well and landed gate three while Tough Monarch faced a second-line draw after landing gate nine. The start was going to be crucial. Tornado Valley was fired off the gate but Majestic Man and Magicool also had plans on leading and the speed was on early. Magicool won the early battle to lead which surprised many while Tornado Valley sat in the trail which left Majestic Man parked without cover. The opening quarter was timed in 28.7 seconds. Driver Zac Phillips was allowed to back off the speed during the second quarter and Magicool settled perfectly while rivals left him alone. The second split was registered in a pedestrian 32.8 seconds. Entering the backstraight, the pressure intensified as Magicool quickened as Majestic Man moved closer while McLovin loomed three-wide. Tornado Valley remained locked in the pocket. The third quarter was timed in 28.5 seconds. As the field straightened, Magicool kicked clear of Majestic Man while Tornado Valley aimed up on the inside for the passing lane run. Magicool was kicking strongly but Tornado Valley kept driving, the ageing warrior was able to dig deep and grab and narrow lead from Magicool and beat him officially score by a half neck margin with Majestic Man holding third 4.3m away. The final sectional was a slick 27.9 seconds. The overall time for the 1720m final was 2:05.1 with the winning mile rate set at 1:57.1. To watch the Gr.1 $300,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star Final click here. Tornado Valley is raced by Norm Jenkin. His pair of Gr.1 victories tonight takes his tally to 10 overall with the promise of more still to come. The victory also provided Andy and Kate Gath with their third triumph in the Great Southern Star after scoring back in 2017 with Glenferrie Typhoon while Tornado Valley has gone back-to-back. “It’s a fairytale to come back and win the heat, that was very satisfying but then to come out and claim the final is just surreal given what he’s been through of late,” Winning driver Kate Gath stated. “He’s provided so many special moments for our stable and tonight is just unbelievable.” She added. Kate has now driven 37 Gr.1 winners while her trainer husband has prepared 49 to date. While all Gr.1 victories are special, tonight’s double (heat & final) from their champion trotter might be the sweetest of all for the popular and gifted couple. The next leg of the 2021 Trotting Masters is the Gr.1 $100,000 Hygain Australian Grand Prix on February 27 at Melton. Chris Barsby

YOUR first Group 1 winner is special to every driver, but this one had so many layers for Brad Williamson. It came in another country, on his favourite horse, against odds that COVID-19 have created and in the most stunning fashion. No wonder Williamson flourished his whip with a victory salute as sailed past the winning post aboard Majestic Man in the $50,000 Dullard Trotters’ Cup at Melton last night (Saturday). The win also broke Majestic Man’s Group 1 hoodoo, finally snaring a win at the ultimate level at his ninth Group 1 attempt. Trainer Phil Williamson would have been a proud many on so many different levels as he watched on TV from home in the South Island. Much discussion went into whether it was worth all the effort, hassles, stress, paperwork and time to make Majestic Man’s Aussie raid happen. It’s by fluke he’s the only Kiwi raider at this year’s rich Victorian Summer of Glory. Brad Williamson put his hand-up to play caretaker trainer and driver for the trip, a not insignificant commitment given it meant almost two months away from home and a couple of weeks in quarantine when he does get back to NZ. But that lure of a maiden Group 1 win was irresistible. And it only took one race to justify it all. Majestic Man used a great draw and his blazing early speed to lead and then Williamson drove to give nothing else – most notably his main danger Majestuoso – no chance from back in the field. He ran the splits of the last mile in 29, 29.2, 28.2 and 29sec and cruised to a 10.8m win. Majestic Man smashed the track record for good measure, his 1min55.4sec mile rate slicing 0.6sec off Keystone Del’s record. “He’s never felt better than he did tonight,” Williamson said. “It didn’t feel like he was going that quickly. He got an easy first 500m or so and then I decided to let him run. When I knew Majestuoso was making run around the field, I really decided to take no prisoners. “It was a big risk trying to get across here and some thought we were mad coming, but it’s a great way to start and there are lots more big races to come here for him.” The next is only a few days away in Friday night’s Great Southern Star, Australia’s top trotting race. Majestic Man’s odds were crunched from $4 to $2 with the Aussie TAB for the Great Southern Star after his Dullard Cup romp. Williamson’s one query is the need to race a heat and final in the same night, but it’s the same unknown for most other runners as well. “It’s the unknown the double heats, but he’s got such great gate speed and the short distance really suits him.” Majestuoso pleased trainer Andy Gath in third spot despite having a late gallop for a few strides in the home straight. “Kate said he lost a shoe, probably early on, and that might have contributed to him becoming unbalanced late, but he still showed all his great speed to come from late in a very quick quarter down the back straight,” he said. “He’ll obviously need to improve again for next week given what we saw from Majestic Man tonight, but the barrier draws will be so important.” Gath expects to have Majestuoso, McLovin and Monaro Maro in the Great Southern Star, with defending champion Tornado Valley seemingly running out of time after some niggling issues. “I’d go for McLovin as our best hope because he’s been able to sit outside some good ones and win lately, but we know how good Majestuoso is when he gets the right run,” he said. Kate Gath hopes McLovin and Majestuoso draw different heats so she can delay her choice until the final.   By Adam Hamilton

Victorian harness racing driver Tony Calabria can't remember the previous time he landed a winner in the sulky, but he won't be so quick to forget a recent Melton trip. "I really can't recall which horse I last got the money on. It would have to be a good few years ago though!" he said. Records show that his last win was in 2008 at Globe Derby in Adelaide, behind Mustang Harry, a pacer he part-owned and trained. But despite the long absence from the winner's circle, Calabria hasn't lost the fine touch that held him in high regard in South Australia. Now living in the outer western Melbourne suburb of Fraser Rise, near Caroline Springs he drove a well-timed race on Arocknatthepark (A Rocknroll Dance -Toppathepark) to take out the Allied Express Pace at TABcorp Park Melton last Friday night. The five-year-old gelding's victory was Calabria's first at the Melton track. To watch the video replay of Arocknatthepark click here. "We thought he had a good chance because his previous run at Tabcorp Park was better than it looked on paper. He's a nice horse and should win his way down through the classes," Calabria said. Arocknatthepark had won three races at Addington prior to crossing "the ditch" from New Zealand last year, and now has a record of seven wins and six placings from just 29 starts for $42k. He is trained by Calabria's good mate Tony Romeo, who races the horse with Angelo Cammaroto and Gary Furina. "Tony was in harness racing for a long time before switching to have a go with gallopers. I actually got him back into the trots," Calabria said. "I've known him for years. He's got a place at Diggers Rest which is just 10 minutes away from me and we've got a great working partnership now doing five horses," he said. Calabria works with the railways as a safety supervisor overseeing work on railway sleeper and track replacement projects. "I do night shift so that gives me time in the mornings to muck around with the horses," he said. "Both Tony and I get plenty of enjoyment in doing the horses, but we have a bit of fun as well." Calabria said he initially got involved in the sport while living in South Australia. "When I was young, I'd go for holidays and work at a property with Joe Carbone and Peter Sergi, who were big trainers at Golden Grove at the time," he said. "A few years on I was lucky to drive some winners for them. Conte De Cristo was a brilliant pacer, and the square-gaiter The Upper Crust was pretty good. Probably taking out the Gramel series with Main Artery was one of my biggest wins." Since moving to Melbourne eight years ago, Calabria has kept his hand in, spending off-and-on stints training and driving as his commitments allowed, but in recent years has concentrated more on the training side. "I had a bit of luck with a few handy horses. Brookfield Ruler was good on his night and won a couple with Nathan Jack and Brian Gath taking the reins," he said. "I got itchy fingers quite often especially when I had a few years break from 2014. I realized I was missing being a driver. I'm rapt to be back and I'm just loving it." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

New Year’s Eve took on special significance this year with Tabcorp Park Melton hosting 12 Group 1 Vicbred Finals showcasing the most talented colts, fillies, horses and mares that Australia has to offer with Harness Racing Victoria, Tabcorp Park and Sky Racing doing an exceptional job presenting all the night’s action to viewers. Nights like New Year’s Eve are usually memorable simply because they are New Year’s Eve - nights, we anticipate and remember. In particular, this was a New Year’s Eve most of us were looking forward to – with all the challenges 2020 presented, we were all happy to see the back end of it and move on to a happier and healthier 2021. But for Empire Stallions, it was truly a memorable night, as their stallions sired the winners of 4 of the 6 Vicbred Super Series GR1 Pacing Finals! Captaintreacherous, Modern Art, Somebeachsomewhere and Western Terror each had a Group 1 winner in the 2YO Fillies, 4YO Entires & Geldings, the 3YO Fillies and 2YO Colts & Geldings divisions respectively. Kimble, a talented son of Western Terror - I’m Wrongly Accused - Bettor’s Delight pulled off the upset of the night winning the 2YO Pacing Colts & Geldings GR1 $130,000 Final. While the two leaders and heavy favourites, Idyllic and Major Moth were engaged in a front-end speed duel, Kimble took advantage advancing from three back on the pegs to blast past the leaders to win by six metres. Kimble was bred and is raced by CJ & JM O’Connor and is trained and driven by Matthew Craven. “So proud of this fella” Craven said. “He has just continued to improve and improve all the way along. And tonight, when he went to the leaders at the top of the lane, he just pinned his ears back and had a full crack. That’s what we love about him.”  To watch the video replay of Kimble click here One of the most anticipated matches of the night was the $130,000 Vicbred 2YO Pacing Fillies division. It was Tough Tilly against her unbeaten stablemate Ladies In Red. But this night, Tough Tilly was much the best claiming victory while leading every step of the way. The daughter of Captaintreacherous - Beninjurd - Art Major races to promote awareness of the outstanding foundation she represents, EB Research Partnership Australia, and is named for Tilly Wilkes, one of the brave young ladies afflicted with this disease. Driver Kate Gath, dressed in the EB Research butterfly silks, was understandably emotional after her win. “Tilly proved that she is tough like her name says and she was just too good tonight” Gath said. “There is no race I have wanted to win more - for EB Research, Tilly and everyone suffering with EB – its’s just a great story and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.” This terrific filly is trained by Emma Stewart, was bred by Benstud Standardbreds and is raced by Benstud Standardbreds & CURE EB. Tough Tilly is from Captaintreacherous’ first Australian-sired crop of 41 two-year-old winners and gives her sire his third Australasian GR1 winner this season. To watch the video replay of Tough Tilly click here In the $130,000 3YO Pacing Fillies Final, Maajida thrilled the audience with yet another sensational victory. It was back-to-back Vicbred victories for this brilliant 3-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere - Arterial Way - Art Major who also captured the Vicbred Final and Filly of the Year honours last year at two. After sprinting up to the outside of the leader at the bell from post 8, Maajida sat in the death until the top of the stretch when she pulled ahead to outstay her rivals to the wire in MR1:55.5. Driver Greg Sugars commented “She just keeps winning, that’s all you can ask for. She has a never-say-die attitude and just keeps getting the job done.” This was the 17th win – her 3rd at the GR1 level – all from 23 starts for Maajida who is trained by Emma Stewart. She is raced by her owners/breeders the Johnson family from The Rock, NSW who were on hand to accept the trophy. To watch the video replay of Maajida click here. Every time Lochinvar Art steps foot on the racetrack, electricity fills the air and we have grown accustomed to watching his exciting performances. Lochinvar Art is certainly no stranger to Tabcorp Park Melton as he holds multiple track records there over short and middle distances.  But tonight’s win in the $130,000 Vicbred 4YO Entires & Geldings Final performance was nothing short of spectacular as he pulled away from the field with a :26.9 third quarter and raced on to win convincingly by 30 metres! His trainer/driver David Moran said “tonight he probably felt the best he’s ever been. I thought he would be three or four lengths the winner, but he was 10 lengths the best.” From his 47 career starts, Lochinvar Art, a son of Modern Art, has 25 wins, 14 seconds and 7 thirds to his credit, $986,556 in earnings and a record of 1:48.6. This was his fifth Group 1 victory and with this remarkable win, he has stamped himself as the best 4YO and older performer in Australia – full stop. To watch the video replay of Lochinvar Art click here “Empire works extremely hard to choose the best stallions, with the best bloodlines and the best race careers who we feel will best cross with Australasian bloodmares to produce winners” said Empire principal David James. “It is so gratifying when your hard work pays off and New Year’s Eve was just an amazing night – wow! Not many farms can take credit for their stallions siring four Group 1 winners on a single race card.” Besides the four Group 1 champions, the Empire influence was also evident on the broodmare side of two Vicbred trotting winners. Always Ready, who won the $100,000 4YO Trotting Entires & Geldings Final, is out of a mare by the Empire alumni Yankee Paco and the winner of the $100,000 3YO Trotting Fillies Final, Majestic Belle, is out of the Modern Art dam Avid. Another interesting point regarding the Vicbred Finals – of the 12 Group 1 races, five of the winners were sired by stallions that are available in Australia via frozen semen – Andover Hall, Captaintreacherous, Ready Cash and Somebeachsomewhere.   

Jamieson Steele, who won his ninth race at Tabcorp Park Melton last Saturday and has now earned in excess of $100,000, is a six-year-old harness racing gelding expected to graduate far beyond his present rating. The Million Dollar Cam gelding came from a seemingly hopeless position on the home turn to mow down his rivals, tramping his last 800 in 54.7 seconds. The mile rate was 1:54 for 1720 metres. Jamieson Steele was one of six Million Dollar Cam winners over the holiday period. The Yirribee Pacing Stud sire produced a double at Redcliffe with Gina Tarantella, who posted her fifth success on end, and Getaloadathisgirl, together with the Globe Derby Park winner Alimonie, Spirited (Temora) and Isntthatright (Albury). Million Dollar Cam has sired 102 individual winners in Australia to date and progeny earnings of $4.5 million for an average of a creditable $30,300 per starter. Tintin In America, the sire of 2019 USA Horse of the Year Shartin, led in winners on both sides of the Tasman. Nimah Franco NZ, a six-year-old mare, led from end to end in 1:56.1 at Albion Park, while Jack Tar rated 1:58.4 winning his fourth race at Cambridge Raceway, New Zealand. Peter Wharton

Star Kiwi mare Our Princess Tiffany has another Group 1 feature at her mercy. Now in the care of Dean Braun, the four-year-old returned to something like her very best form to thrash major rival Miss McGonagall in her Vicbred semi-final at Melton on Tuesday night. Now she’s drawn gate two for the $130,000 final on New Year’s Eve at Melton at dominates betting at $1.25 with Miss McGonagall (gate six) next best at $7. “She landed in a good spot early and felt great in the run,” driver Chris Alford said. “She quickly had the favourite covered when I let her rip and really hit the line strongly.” The daughter of Art Major has won three of six runs in this Aussie stint with Braun and taken her record to 38 starts for 21 wins, 11 placings and $878,262. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Australia's best pacer Lochinvar Art should ice a magnificent year with victory in his Group 1 Vicbred 4YO entires and geldings final. His 18 starts this season have netted 12 wins, four placings and included Group 1 wins in the Victoria Cup, Chariots Of Fire and 4YO Bonanza along with second in the Miracle Mile. Lochinvar Art stamped his class with a dominant Vicbred semi win – in a blistering 1min53.1sec mile rate for 2240m in wet and windy conditions – on Tuesday night. Already the standout in his division, he drew the pole for the final and is a $1.15 favourite. “Mindful he’s got a big few months ahead, I haven’t done much with him at home so he’ll improve on what you saw in the semi,” trainer-driver David Moran said. Beyond the Vicbred final on New Year’s Eve, Moran’s targets are the Shepparton Cup (January 16), Ballarat Cup (January 23), Hunter Cup (February 6), Newcastle Mile (February 19) and Miracle Mile (March 6). _____________________________________________________________________________________________ The rampaging Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn is primed to build heavily on its already amazing 25 Vicbred Grand Finals. Incredibly, they have the favourite and/or second favourite in eight of the 10 Group 1 Vicbred finals at Melton on New Year’s Eve. Their headline acts are glamour juveniles Ladies In Red, he filly who is chasing a perfect 10 wins from as many starts this season, and Major Moth, who is trying to complete the Breeders Crown/Vicbred double. Ladies In Red led and won her semi as she liked, but drew the worst possible alley (gate eight, inside back row) for the final and is a $1.50. Stablemate Tough Tilly, who looks the leader from gate two, is $2.70. “It’s pretty scary how easily she does it,” Ladies In Red’s driver David Moran said after the semi. “I really never moved on her tonight, she seems to be getting better.” Major Moth came from the back row to easily win his semi and will have to do the same from gate nine in the final. He’s a $1.55 shot with stablemate and other semi winner, Idyllic, at $2.30 from gate two. “I got around and controlled it so easily (from the death) tonight,” Major Moth’s driver Damian Wilson said after the semi. “He’s such a dominant horse. He’s shown the fastest two-year-old around and those past two wins show he’s as strong as any of them as well. I can pretty much drive him how I want. “Idyllic was good winning his semi two and he’s got the draw to make it a contest in the final.” Tonkin and Stewart only have three trotters in work and they are all major winning chances in their respective Vicbred finals. The improving 2YO filly Banglez (gate one) is $3 second elect behind Chris Lang’s Evas Image (gate eight, $2.80). Utopia has been backed from $2.50 into $2.10 from gate five in the 2YO colts and geldings final. And Cover Of Darkness is $1.60 to stretch his unbeaten record to nine wins despite a back row draw (gate 10) in the 3YO colts and geldings final.   Adam Hamilton

KATE Gath has her first Victorian metropolitan driving premiership in the bag. A winning double on trotters McLovin and Monaro Maro at Melton on Saturday night stretched Gath’s lead to a commanding 11 wins over Chris Alford. Gath will join Kerryn Manning as just the second female to win the title. McLovin’s win, his second in a row, was one of the highlights of the night and showed he was back very close to his best form as Victoria’s major trotting races get closer. Despite sitting outside glamour mare Dance Craze, McLovin looked beaten on the final bend but just keep digging in and snatched a 1.1m win in the Group 3 Freestone Trotters’ Cup. He ripped home in 56.6 and 28.4sec from the death. It followed Gath’s easy win on talented former Kiwi mare Monaro Maro, who, like McLovin, is raced by Norm Jenkin. _________________________________________________________________________________________ HISTORY-MAKING trotting filly Pink Galahs is chasing her 14th win from just 20 starts in a Vicbred qualifying heat at Maryborough today (Monday). It was only a couple of months back when Pink Galahs upstaged Australia’s best trotters to win the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint on Victoria Cup night. She’s since added the Victoria Derby, Victoria Oaks and looks to have the Group 1 Vicbred final (December 31) at her mercy back against her own age and sex. Cover Of Darkness, one of just three trotters Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin have in work, is chasing his eighth win from as many starts from gate four in his Vicbred heat (race three) today. _________________________________________________________________________________________ A CONFIDENT and aggressive Shane Graham drive helped young Kiwi star One Change score an upset win in “The Creek” Christmas Cup (2680m) at Albion Park on Saturday night. Just a week after he finished fifth to King Of Swing in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake over the same trip, Graham bustled One Change off the gate from barrier four and worked to the front while hot favourite Colt Thirty One was headed-off from the pole. Despite clocking a blistering 75.9sec lead time for the 2680m and 28.1sec first quarter of the last mile, One Change thrived in front and dashed home in 55.8 and 27.4sec to beat a gallant Bright Energy with Colt Thirty One third. One Change, who boasts six wins from 10 starts during his stint with Vicki Rasmussen in Queensland, clocked a brilliant 1min54.6sec mile rate, which was just 0.9sec outside the track record set by Colt Thirty One in the 2019 Blacks A Fake. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CASH N Flow’s stunning 13-race winning streak at Menangle is over. The former Kiwi star was unable to find his favourite spot in front and finished fourth to the emerging Whereyabinboppin in the Group 2 Harold Park Cup (1609m) at Menangle on Saturday night. Whereyabinboppin blasted to the front in a scorching 25.5sec opening quarter, steadied the tempo for a 59.4sec split from the 1200-400m and then dashed home in 26.8sec to win easily for trainer Shane Sanderson and driver Cameron Hart. The son of A Rocknroll Dance boasts 12 wins from just 19 starts. The other eye-catcher at Menangle was Craig Cross’ recent stable addition, Expensive Ego, who made it two wins from as many starts for the barn when he scored by 10.3m in a 1min51.1sec mile on Saturday night. The rising four-year-old, who had 13 months out with injury, has raced just 10 times for eight wins and a second. He looks a genuine Chariots Of Fire contender. _________________________________________________________________________________________ A BRILLIANT Colin Brown drive helped classy pacer Vampiro return to winning form in a strong free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. And Team Bond’s rising seven-year-old smashed the clock with a 1min54.1sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. The hot pace was set by an overly keen leader Bletchley Park, who ran the middle half in 56.5, third quarter in 27.2 and still held-on bravely for second. Vampiro sat three pegs until the gaps appeared at the 350m and Brown set out after Bletchley Park and brushing past him to win by 2.6m. It was mixed result for Team Bond, who also had third placed Galactic Star, but their former WA Cup winner Mighty Conqueror stopped badly after sitting parked and was found to pulled-up lame in his off foreleg. Team Bond’s WA Derby winner Patronus Star suffered his first defeat in eight WA starts, but certainly lost no fans when a first-up second as he builds towards the upcoming 4YO features at Gloucester Park.  The hype around two-year-old Lavra Joe continues to build after he sat parked and dug deep in a blistering 1min54sec mile rate for 2130m for trainer Ray Jones and driver Chris Lewis. The son of Roll With Joe has got better as his busy season has rolled-on with 21 starts netting 10 wins, three seconds and three thirds. _________________________________________________________________________________________ EMILY Suvaljko is young driver going places. Just a couple of weeks after missing the Group 1 WA Pacing Cup winning drive on Vultan Tin because of suspension, Suvaljko got some compensation with a double, including the feature race, at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Fittingly, she replaced her father, Shannon, aboard Vivere Damore and led throughout to win the $50,000 Group 2 Christmas Gift. The Suvaljko’s like keeping it in the family as it was Shannon who substituted for Emily to win aboard Vultan Tin. Emily completed her double just 30 minutes after Vivere Damore’s win when she caused an upset to score on Cyclone Banner for trainer Ray Williams. _________________________________________________________________________________________ EMERGING gelding The Shallows upstaged Tasmania’s two best pacers, Ignatius aand Ryley Major, to win one of the state’s biggest races, the Golden Apple in Hobart on Saturday night. The big guns had 30m handicaps to overcome and had to be content with fourth (Ignatius) and fifth (Ryley Major), while The Shallows won well from a 10m handicap. It capped a great season for The Shallows who has won 12 of his 19 stars this term for a career record of 14 wins from 30 starts.   by Adam Hamilton

“He could be winning very soon,” says Nikkita Ross as the Trots Life Blackbook swells to 12, five of whom will step out at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Part of the Metrospective segment on SENTrack on Mondays, the Blackbook is the result of Ross and host Jason Bonnington scouring Saturday night’s metropolitan racing to shortlist those on the cusp of success. The new thetrots.com.au column launched last week, with all seven entrants having since raced, returning four second placings and a third, with Itz Longtall Sally, Bullys Delight, Somebeachshadow, Sammy Showdown and Spring In His Step all rewarding each-way plays. Return Soldier finished seventh and Repeat After Me fifth, with the latter the only runner to face the axe. “He didn’t do any early work and didn’t finish the race off like you would have hoped, so he comes out of the Blackbook after just sneaking in the week prior,” the panel found. But there were six new additions. Here’s this week’s who and why: Bullion Lady (Blackbooked: 4th at Melton on December 12) NIKKITA ROSS: She was well back in the field in a strong mares’ race and worked to the line really nicely, making good ground and running past some nice horses late. Gobsmacked: (Blackbooked: 6th at Melton on December 12. Next race: R8 N2 at Melton on Saturday). JASON BONNINGTON: This bloke was flying during lockdown number one and his run in a heat of the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Champs indicated he’s not far from breaking through again back in a regional assignment from a decent draw. Little Yankee (Blackbooked: 1st at Melton on December 12). Every rise in grade has the potential to be catastrophic for a horse like this little fellow but he seems to lift for every challenge presented. He’s heading into the Vicbred Super Series deep end now but looks to have serious scope. Mr Bohannon (Blackbooked: 2nd at Melton on December 12. Next race: R5 N2 at Melton on Saturday). JASON BONNINGTON: I still don’t know exactly how to assess this fellow, but he went up in my estimation when sitting parked and fighting like a caged lion in heat two of the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Champs. He is the one to beat in next week’s final based on that performance for mine. Steel Screens (Blackbooked: 2nd at Melton on December 12. Next race: R5 N9 at Melton on Saturday) NIKKITA ROSS: Was last at the 400m and had to make a wide run around the field in a quick last half, finishing strongly into second. A really good effort to make the ground that he did. He is a consistent horse who can break through for another win in his right race soon. Sundons Courage (Blackbooked: 4th at Melton on December 12. Next race: R10 N7 at Melton on Saturday). NIKKITA ROSS: Made a mistake at the start and lost plenty of ground before chasing and doing his best work late in a really quick last quarter, to be beaten by less than 14 metres by arguably the best trotter in the country at this point in time. His run prior was also very good and if he can do everything right, he could be winning a race very soon. Of the existing Blackbookers, only Bullys Delight has an engagement. He will contest the APG Melbourne Sales Pace at Melton on Saturday night.   Harness Racing Victoria

The Pryde’s EasiFeed three-year-old fillies’ class was tonight turned on its head with Emma Stewart’s series favourite failing to qualify, a stablemate making her claim and then Sweet Louise monstering the second TAB Breeders Crown semi-final. The latter was a great sign for trainer Phil Chircop and owner-breeder John Dorrington, with their lightly-raced Sweet Lou filly knuckling down in the closing stages and leaving her rivals in her wake. Having her first start for reinsman Chris Alford, Sweet Louise crossed to the lead from gate two and controlled proceedings from there. “She got out pretty good at Bendigo last week and I thought the one horse (Beautiful Woman) wouldn’t be in for too much of a battle, it was just whether we could come out quick enough to hold the wide ones and she did that pretty well,” Alford told Trots Vision. “They all seemed to grab hold so it worked out pretty well.” Sweet Louise had it largely her own way until the final bend when seasoned Amelia Rose emerged to throw down the gauntlet. “Around the last turn she was half loafing,” Alford said. “Phil said she might hang a bit on the last turn and she was running a bit sideways, and (Amelia Rose) got to her real quick and I thought it might zip straight past her. “I pulled the ear (plugs) off and she just really knuckled down and ran up the straight pretty strong.” Off a 27.8-second third quarter Sweet Louise hit the line in a 27.5-second final quarter to put 14 metres on the rest of the field, with Its Beaujolais running into second. And it would seem there is a lot of improvement left in her. “For a big girl and a three-year-old she’s like driving a little baby, she just runs in and out,” Alford said. “When she has her mind on the job she’s all right, but just while she’s in front she was just floating all over the place. “John (Dorrington)’s been in horses for a long long time, as has (trainer) Phil (Chircop), so it would be great if they could get a big win next week.” Sweet Louise advances to next Saturday’s finals along with Its Beaujolais, Dr Susan, Amelia Rose, Soundsofcash and Burnfouru. There they will have to contend with Techys Angel, who earlier won the grade’s first semi-final with an eye-catching performance. The race was notable for series favourite and reigning champion Maajida tiring into eighth and therefore failing to qualify, but that didn’t detract from the performance of the winner, Techys Angel, for reinswoman Kate Gath and trainer Emma Stewart. "Clayton (Tonkin) said all along that she's not just fast, she's tough as well,” Gath told Trots Vision. “Her revving up had made that tricky a couple of starts ago, but she's much better now. As a result she showed what she's able to do and she's definitely got a terrific hope next week.” Impressively, Techys Angel seemed to take no harm from being used early, with Gath guiding the Alto Christiano filly from gate seven to the breeze in a 44.6-second lead time. “She's got pretty good gate speed, but so do a few of the others,” Gath said post-race. “We got around not too hard and she relaxed good.” There was plenty of activity throughout with leader Keayang Jackie holding the front while the running lane cycled through a series of horses in the breeze, which would ultimately see Techys Angel shuffled four back in the running line. Gath showed a patient hand before emerging with 200 metres to go, drawing off The Pantheist’s back to win by 4.8 metres, with the latter claiming second while Louisiana Jo, Final Peace, Keayang Jackie and Belladonna Girl also booked finals places. "She was great,” Gath said of the winner. “Tonight she showed what she's able to do and what Clayton's said that she can do the whole time. Those second and third quarters she was just jogging in behind them, she just did that really easily.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Damian Wilson is daring to dream of delivering loyal supporters, owner-breeders Len and Irene Parker, with a TAB Breeders Crown after winning impressively with Major Moth in tonight’s first VHRC Caduceus two-year-old colts and geldings’ semi-final. Wilson had to roll through plans A, B and C in the run but ultimately pulled the right rein to see his Art Major colt emerge victorious for trainer Clayton Tonkin. “It was a very tricky draw tonight,” he told Trots Vision, having started in gate eight behind Sayitaintso Joe. “It was hard to work out what was going to happen in the run and what everyone thought would happen was totally opposite to what did happen. “I was (originally) happy just to drive him quiet, hit the line and qualify for the final tonight, but after being four back the fence everything changed. Just one of those things.” As he described, Major Moth was buried deep on the pegs in the first 100 metres, prompting Wilson to move into the running line and then follow up the three-wide train for the last lap. The race changed complexion when leader and favourite Beyond Delight suddenly dropped out, but Major Moth plowed on, tracking up One Two Many and then running past leader Bar Room Banta to salute by 8.5 metres. “He proved (he’s a contender) tonight and last week,” Wilson said. “(Last week) he probably went as quick a lead time as anything and got home in 26.8. Not many horses can do that. He’s definitely a chance." And it paints the prospect of rewarding a long-time backer. “I’ve known Lenny (Parker) for probably 10 or 12 years. He always sticks behind me. I might put a bad one in, but he’s always got my back. He’s a good bloke," Wilson said. “(Breeders Crowns) don’t come around very often and I’ve got the chance this year, so let’s hope I can make the most of it.” His main threat may well come from Emma Stewart’s Act Now, who found the front from gate three in the second semi-final and led all-the-way to win by three metres. On an eventful night it was a rather uncomplicated race for reinswoman Jodi Quinlan and owner-breeders Bruce and Vicki Edward. “He’s really in his element when he can lead and just bowl along,” Quinlan told Trots Vision. “He likes to bowl along at a nice rate. He foxes a little bit, when they come up outside of him he feels enormous, and then when they drop off a bit he drops off a bit with them. He does wait for them a little bit, but when he goes, he goes all right.” Their real test came at the top of the straight when Kerryn Manning emerged off the leader’s back to make a play for the win on Watts Up Sunshine, but Act Now had all the answers and was able to hold the Rickie Alchin runner’s challenge at bay. “When Kerryn came to the outside of him I had to shake him up a little bit, but he’s one of those – when they get to his wheel he just plods along at his own tempo.” Joining Act Now and Watts Up Sunshine in advancing to the final from the second semi-final were Jacks Hawk, Go Dancing, Tuppence and Electric Eye. They will be joined by first semi-final qualifiers Major Moth, Kimble, Swayzee, Bar Room Banta, One Two Many and Drain The Swamp.   HRV - Michael Howard

Most Aussies thought it was a daring raid, but Kiwi trainer Josh Dickie knew his filly. This looks one of the best crops of juvenile trotters Australia has seen, but Dickie trumped them all with Mexicana in yesterday’s $50,000 Group 1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough. While many of her key rivals galloped early from the stand or struck trouble, Mexicana trotted away superbly from inside the back row from driver Greg Sugars and worked around to take the lead after 600m. Talented local Illawong Barmah, who led then took a sit, came at Mexicana late, but the Kiwi was just being nursed by Sugars as she finished off in a 57.7sec last half to win by 1.4m. “I never pulled the ear plugs and got too serious on her,” Sugars told Trotvision. “She was actually pretty casual out in front. She felt really strong on the line, so I think there’s plenty more there. ‘I’m extremely thankful to Josh (Dickie) and his team and to Trevor (Casey) and the owners to trust me with this filly. She is a beautiful girl.” Mexicana gave Dickie by far his biggest win since taking over training the family team from his father John. And there’s a strong Aussie connection through Dickie’s partner, Sammy Kilgour, who has many friends back in Victoria. Mexicana now heads to the Breeders Crown where heats will be at Maryborough on November 12. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ There is just no stopping pin-up girl Pink Galahs. Matty Craven’s pint-sized darling dominantly won her third Group 1 race in less than a month when she stormed to victory in yesterday’s Victoria Trotters’ Derby. Things looked tricky with a lap to run when the gifted and speedy Elite Stride made a lightning move around the field to take the lead, which buried Pink Galahs three pegs. But some welcome luck came heading to the last bend when Gimondi galloped behind the leader and helped Pink Galahs get to the sprint lane quicker and that was the end of the race. Pink Galahs blasted through the opening to win running away by four metres over Elite Stride with a gallant Powderkeg third after sitting parked throughout in a solid 2min1.2sec mile rate for the long 2690m trip. A jubilant Craven celebrated with a big victory salute over the last 50m when it was clear he had the classic won. In the space of a month, Pink Galahs has upstaged the best trotters in Australia to win the Bill Collins Sprint then added the Victoria Oaks and Victoria Derby. “This is just unbelievable,” Craven said. “I thought it was amazing enough when she won the Bill Collins and now she’s gone on and done it again and again … she’s just the most amazing filly.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________ It was fitting Majestuoso returned to Maryborough to land the win that showed he was ready for the big league. Just over 12 months ago the Andy Gath-trained gelding showcased his abundant potential by unleashing a huge sprint to win the Victoria Trotters’ Derby at Maryborough. Yesterday it was the speed he showed at the start and his all-round display which showed why driver Kate Gath has been buzzing about his future prospects. Majestuoso, best known for balancing-up early and sprinting late, blasted off the gate from barrier six to lead and win the free-for-all. It completed changed a race where glamour mare Red Hot Tooth was backed into $1.60 favourite because most expected her to rip across the field early from gate seven and lead. But she had to sit parked and never looked likely to get past Majestuoso, who beat the talented Wobelee by 3.5m with Brandlo Prince third and Red Hot Tooth in fourth spot. “We weren’t surprised he showed that sort of gate speed, but with him it’s always been in the back of your mind to make sure he trots at the start,” Kate Gath told Trotsvision. “He was keen in the score-up so I gave it a shot and once he found the front he relaxed really well. “There’s no standout in the open-class trotting ranks now and he’s got the ability to match them, so that’s where we are headed.”   HRNZ

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