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

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

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

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

After two eye-catching placings this preparation, harness racing’s excitement machine, Lennytheshark, is tipped to return to the winners’ circle at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Kept fresh after his second in the Victoria Cup a fortnight ago, Lennytheshark has drawn perfectly in the opening qualifier of the TAB Inter Dominion. Heats of the time-honoured Championship will be staged throughout Australia, beginning with Victoria at 8:30 and ending with Gloucester Park at 9:30 eastern daylight saving time. The Inter Dominion Final is scheduled to be run at Menangle on March 1. A brilliant beginner, Lennytheshark is expected to be pushed forward from barrier three, with most experts predicting the David Aiken-trained stallion to find the front. With star pacer Guaranteed drawn the pole, the opening stages of the 2240-metre event are crucial. Thrilled with the five-year-old’s condition, Aiken is confident Lennytheshark can continue his edge over Guaranteed. Lennytheshark has beaten Guaranteed home during their last three encounters. “I couldn’t be happier with his draw or where he is at heading into this,” Aiken said. “His two runs this time in have been great against tough opposition and he has improved since his run in the Victoria Cup. “His work has been super and his fitness is right at its peak. “Guaranteed is still the one to beat.” Lennytheshark is one of four runners Aiken has in the Group Two, with Wartime Sweetheart drawn gate two, Cold Major in six and Smudge Bromac in seven. The three placegetters will secure a berth in the $750,000 Final. PAUL COURTS

Promising pacer Yankee Rockstar has been aimed at harness racing’s premier four-year-old event – Chariots Of Fire. Following the entire’s victory at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, trainer Emma Stewart revealed her plans for the remainder of the season. To be given a light week, Yankee Rockstar will head to New South Wales to contest a Chariots Of Fire qualifier, in hope of gaining a berth in the Group One. The Chariots Of Fire is scheduled to be conducted at Menangle on March 1 – TAB.com.au Inter Dominion day. Stewart is no stranger to success in the feature, having won last year’s edition with boom pacer, Guaranteed. “He has come back in great shape this season and will head towards the Chariots,” Stewart said. “We couldn’t be happier with him. “He will head up to Sydney for one of the heats, then be back for the Chariots.” Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang last night, Yankee Rockstar began quickly to lead from the pole as Jilliby Jagger worked on his outside. Fending off the initial challenge on the home turn, the son of Rocknroll Hanover staved off a late charge from Hectorjayjay to score by a neck, with Yayas Hot Spot two-and-a-half metres away third. “It got close at the finish, but he was holding them off at the end,” Stewart said. “That run will top him off perfectly before we head to Sydney.” Covering the last half in 55.4 seconds, Yankee Rockstar rated a slick 1:52.4 for the 1720 metres, taking his record to an imposing 14 wins and three placings from 18 starts. PAUL COURTS

Flying Isa took out the first of the first of the harness racing Group 1s on Hunter Cup night with a professional performance to win the Devondale Australasian Trotters Championship Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Trained by Belinda McCarthy and driven by Luke McCarthy Flying Isa began well to find the front early and was never headed, the six-year-old son of Pegasus Spur / Sun Isa rating 2:03.5 and scoring an 8.5-metre win over Brunelleschi with Spidergirl third. Luke McCarthy dictated the tempo to suit himself aboard the winner, Spidergirl working to the breeze early before Vincennes boldly trotted around to give the favourite one-one cover. At the bell Sheemon was out three-wide on the move with Glenferrie Typhoon getting a nice trail on his back. The leader upped the tempo down the back straight with a 27.9 split and kicked away approaching the turn. Ripping home in 28secs, Flying Isa was never going to get caught. Runner-up Brunelleschi is in career-best form. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Leading harness racing owner Merv Butterworth is boycotting the Inter Dominion. Angered by the Championship’s conditions, Butterworth has chosen to miss the series with well-performed pacer, Arden Rooney. Butterworth explained his decision following Arden Rooney’s upset win in tonight’s $400,000 A G Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. “We will not race him in the Inter Dominion under protest,” Butterworth said. “We’ve been told that because he was nominated in New Zealand he has to run in the Supplementary heat, which is unacceptable. “He has been trained by Kerryn (Manning) for a month and is officially a Victorian, but New South Wales won’t acknowledge that. “I even wrote a letter of protest and haven’t even received a response.” Inter Dominion heats will be run throughout Australia next weekend, with a Supplementary Heat for ‘visitors’ to be conducted at Menangle. “It is a ridiculous situation and that’s why he’s been withdrawn from the Inter,” Butterworth declared. As for his latest triumph, Arden Rooney caused a major upset when scoring as an $82.90 outsider with Manning in the cart. Beginning well from two, Arden Rooney was positioned behind the leader, Philadelphia Man, which led from two. Angled into the clear at the top of the home straight, the son of Bettors Delight quickly dashed to the front before completing a four-and-a-half metre win from Franco Ledger, with Easy On The Eye a metre away third. “He had the run of the race, but still had to be good enough to win,” Manning said. “The leader over raced a bit, so the solid tempo suited me down to the ground. “After hitting the lead on the turn, the home straight seemed to go on forever, but I knew he would keep on going. “This is right up there with all my good wins.” Covering the last half in 57 seconds, Arden Rooney rated 1:58.4 for the 3280-metre journey, with his time slicing eight-tenths of a second off the track record held by Mah Sish and Christen Me. The five-year-old’s triumph saw Manning become just the third reinswoman to capture the Grand Circuit event since its inception in 1949. Kate Gath was the ground breaker when success with About To Rock in 2006 followed by Natalie Rasmussen who scored with Blacks A Fake in 2008. PAUL COURTS

Another champion to be crowned king (or queen) of the Hunter Cup Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup night has arrived as we enter the final night of HRV's TAB.com.au Summer of Glory carnival. Christen Me won last week's Victoria Cup and will be out to become the first horse since Blossom Lady to go back-to-back in the Hunter Cup tomorrow night. Kiwi mare Adore Me is the favourite for the race, heavily backed after she caught the eye flashing home for third in the Victoria Cup. With hot weather forecast and heaps of trackside entertainment on Hunter Cup night there has never been a better time to get trackside at the trots at Melton!   DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP HUNTER CUP Saturday night, February 7. Group 1, 3280m, stand start. 9.30pm   1: PHILADELPHIA MAN ($13w $3.28p) Ticks: Horsham Pacing Cup win was full of merit when too strong for Restrepo and Arden Rooney. Drawn the pole. Prolific winner (11 wins from his last 13 starts). Crosses: Some say his bubble may have burst having been rolled his last two starts after 11 straight victories.   2: ARDEN ROONEY ($26w $4.8p) Ticks: Loves the stand-start racing (11: 6-1-2) and will have no worries with the marathon trip.  Crosses: Was well beaten behind Restrepo in the Hamilton Pacing Cup and Restrepo is a $14 shot here.    3: ADORE ME ($2.6w $1.30p) Ticks: She's a first-class mare who produced the best run outside of the winner in the Victoria Cup and will be clearly suited to the longer trip.  Crosses: She's a mare. They don't win the Hunter Cup too often.    4: CHRISTEN ME ($3.8w $1.53p) Ticks: Victoria Cup winner, Miracle Mile winner, easy Bendigo Cup winner. He's on fire. Crosses: Struggling to find one.   5: RESTREPO ($14w $3.47p) Ticks: Suited by the distance. Burst back into winning form with an enormous Hamilton Pacing Cup win from stand-start conditions two runs back. Crosses: Finished well-back in the Victoria Cup and despite his obvious talent he's only won two races since late November 2013.   6: UNCLE WINGNUT ($101w $20.04p) Ticks: Having a super season with strong runs in the Pure Steel last time out (third), the Horsham Cup (fourth) and the Cranbourne Cup (fourth). Crosses: Yet to win in 11 goes from behind the strands and seems a rung or two below the best ones here.   7: FLAMING FLUTTER ($41w $8.61p) Ticks: Excellent stand-start record (6: 4-0-1). Has in-form reinsman Greg Sugars. Has been racing in super-consistent form. Crosses: Probably a season away from being able to win at this level.   8: EASY ON THE EYE ($41w $8.61p) Ticks: Trained and driven by powerhouse New South Wales combination in Shane Tritton and Lauren Panella. Secured invite into last year's Miracle Mile. Crosses: Finished down the track in last year's Hunter Cup, drawn slightly awkwardly as loves to bowl along in front.   9: IM CORZIN TERROR ($26w $5.76p) Ticks: Stays all day and has a good record at the stand-start conditions (10: 3-3-1). He ran on well in this race last year and was close-up in the Kilmore Cup from the stand behind Guaranteed. Crosses: Has finished behind the top-liners at Horsham, Bendigo and last time out in the Victoria Cup.    10: WASHMEPOCKETS ($301w $58.14p) Ticks: Honest as the day is long and always puts in.  Has his own Twitter account. Crosses: Just doubt he's up to this class.   11: GUARANTEED ($6.5w $2.04p) Ticks: Gavin Lang has chosen to stick with Guaranteed and would have had the choice of the three Emma Stewart trained runners. In ripping form throughout this campaign. Crosses: Will have to work around at some point but aside from that he's got far more ticks next to his name than crosses.    12: FRANCO LEDGER ($31w $6.71p) Ticks: Lethal sprint on him. He ended Philadelphia Man's winning streak at Shepparton when absolutely sprouted wings in the home straight. Is a 13-time winner from 21 goes at stand-start. Crosses: New Zealand form not as strong as say Terror To Love, Adore Me or Christen Me.    13: TERROR TO LOVE ($6.5w $2.04p) Ticks: Three-time New Zealand Cup winner so class is no worries and loves staying races. Crosses: Didn't fire in the Victoria Cup last start and found a way to get beaten in a four-horse Ballarat Cup two starts back.   14: SMUDGE BROMAC ($101w $20.04p) Ticks: Racing in career-best form. Broke the track record in the Yarra Valley Cup last December. Stable knows how to win a feature race. Crosses: Class the big query at this stage and being ODS hasn't helped his cause.    ACCESS MARKET FOR THE DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP HUNTER CUP   $300,000 Quaddie Pool Guarantee Tomorrow night's Hunter Cup Quaddie will carry a guaranteed pool of minimum $300,000 thanks to Summer of Glory sponsor, the TAB. Cash Grab Machine Have a Quaddie on Saturday night's Hunter Cup meeting (min $10 spend) and present your betting ticket to TAB Grab staff for your chance to win entry into the TAB Grab Booth, where $5,000 worth of vouchers await at Tabcorp Park Melton! Special bonus offer There is also a special bonus offer for TAB customers this weekend. Have a fixed odds win bet on the Group 1 Hunter Cup, with your TAB account or TAB rewards card, and if your horse runs second or third, you'll score a Bonus Bet up to $50 or equivalent TAB Rewards points. Bet at the track, your local TAB outlet, via the TAB smart phone app or online at tab.com.au   WIN A $50 TAB VOUCHER Here’s your chance to win a $50 TAB Voucher. To enter, tell us who you think will win the Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup on Saturday night. All entrants that pick the winner will go into a random draw and whichever lucky entrant is drawn, wins the $50 TAB Voucher! Entries must be in by no later than 8:30pm on Saturday night 7 February. One entry per person. Must be over 18 years of age to enter.Email competitions@hrv.org.au with the subject WIN.  The winner will be notified via email on Tuesday.  

The VHRSC Victoria Derby Final is shaping as a harness racing classic after the three heats on Saturday night. Follow The Stars is not unbeatable. Who would have thought? He was $1.10 to win his heat on Saturday night but had to settle for second to Art Union (beaten 1.8m). Art Union (by Art Major out of The Sparks A Flyin) rated 1:58.4 (last half 55.2) in winning the third heat, driver Dexter Dunn taking the colt to the lead in the run and staving off all comers late. Follow The Stars tried valiantly but couldn't catch the winner. Spare Me Days was third and Mister Brazil fourth. Aztec Bromac (by American Ideal out of Agnes Patron) won the first Derby heat for the night in a rate of 1:57.2 (last half 56.7), narrowly holding off fast-finishing Ideal For Real. Kerry Ann Turner trained and drove the winner, while the runner-up was from the in-form Emma Stewart camp with Gavin Lang in the cart. One Hell Of A Ride finished well for third, while Mach Doro was fourth but was an eye-catching run after working three-wide in the run. The winner of Derby heat two, Menin Gate, has to be a serious player in the final after an impressive run on Saturday night. The Larry Eastman trained gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere / Dreams Of Heaven rated 1:57.7 (last half 55.8) and motored to the line in the straight. Chris Alford drove the winner. Consistent Justbritell was second, Rule Of Thumb third and Artistic Flite fourth. 1st heat 2nd heat 3rd heat by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

The West Australian harness racing community will be attached to the radio and television this Saturday night as David Hercules competes in the Group 1, Victorian Pacing Cup worth a massive $400,000. Trainer Dave Thompson spoke to the TABradio team about his assault on the Victoria Cup at Melton this Saturday night. “The horse went over on Wednesday night, he seems as bright as a button, went for a jog and everything’s great” Thompson said.   Having drawn nine, Thompson stated that it was one of his more preferred avenues leading into the race, whilst relishing the challenge of the opposition. “We just have to hope for the best because class wise it’s a step up, it’s probably the best group I’ve seen assembled together for a long long time” he added. After a brilliant performance in the WA Pacing Cup, seeing a narrow defeat to the swooping My Hard Copy, Thompson seemingly is not one to look in the rear-view mirror, but basking in the moment. “Some people are saying this is going to be one of the best races ever, so to have one of the runners in it, just makes me so proud of the horse” said Thompson. “I’m just so lucky to be involved with him” he added. “I’m even going to try and enjoy this one! Normally I just end up getting too wound up… we just have to sit back and enjoy it”. David Hercules runs in the Victorian Cup at Melton, race starting at 6:32pm WST, covered extensively on TABradio and seen on Sky Racing.  If you weren't on-course for the $400,000 Western Australian Pacing Cup, or even if you were, do yourself a favour and take a look at one the most dramatic WA Pacing Cup's ever seen at Gloucester Park.   Racing and Wagering Western Australia

If you build it, they will come... Harness Racing Victoria have hit a home run, not too dissimilar to one of the homers hit by the baseballers in the legendary Kevin Costner movie involving cornfields and ghosts, by changing the summer calendar and launching the TAB Summer of Glory carnival. The TAB Victoria Cup field tonight is packed with stars and more than one trots pundit believes it to be the greatest and most competitive Victoria Cup field that's been seen in the modern era.   TAB VICTORIA CUP Saturday night, January 31. Group 1, 2240m, mobile start. 9.32pm   1: LENNYTHESHARK ($9) “He’s drawn perfectly. He’s second-up from a spell and ran a terrific race first-up in the Shepparton Cup. You don’t want them at 100 per cent first-up and he’ll improve significantly with that run under his belt. Chris (Alford) has options from the draw, so we’ll leave that up to him. Philadelphia Man got away from him at the turn at Shepparton and on the line we were on his wheel.” - David Aiken (trainer)   2: FRANCO LEDGER ($21) “He’s great, we’re really happy with him. He’s in the zone at the moment and we’re drawn well. I’d be really happy to be three back the pegs in the run, but one-out and three-back would be fine too. The quicker they go up front the better it’ll be for us.” - Geoff Webster (trainer/driver)   3: BEAUTIDE ($3.2) “Really happy with how he’s going. He’s trained well and we’re pretty confident he’s better than he’s been all season. He’s had some good trials and has got a good draw. He’ll come out quick; he’s got really good gate speed.” - James Rattray (trainer/driver)   4: PHILADELPHIA MAN ($6) “He was a little bit fresh at Shepparton and he’ll strip fitter for the run. He’s worked terrific during the week. I think he brought himself undone a bit by over-racing last week. I’m happy with gate four. We can run our own race.” - Emma Stewart (trainer)   5: IM CORZIN TERROR ($81) “We’re really happy with his work. The draw’s a bit unfortunate; we’d like to swap his draw with Chilli’s. Some people are putting him down but I think he’s the forgotten horse. You look at his run at Kilmore in the Cup when he gave Guaranteed a start and was running on strongly for second.” - Amanda Grieve (trainer)   6: CHRISTEN ME ($6) “They will fly the gate and from our barrier we are half in and half out, so Dexter will most likely come out and sit in the middle of the track until the dust settles. From then on we are aiming to position up in the front half of the field rather than the back half.” - Cran Dalgety (trainer)   7: TERROR TO LOVE ($16) “We’re getting used to these barrier draws now! It is what it is … I think he’ll come into it later on. It’s the first of a lot of big races coming up. Thinking he’ll just go back and try to work into it at the right time. Everyone sort of forgets how good a sprint he’s got when he’s saved for one go.” - Paul Court (co-trainer)   8: CHILLI PALMER (1EM) ($51) “Absolutely thrilled with Chilli, we’ve just got to hope he gets a start. We’re very happy with how he’s come back.” - Amanda Grieve (trainer)   9: DAVID HERCULES ($41) “I give him a huge chance. We’re not going to have to do half the work a few of the others will have to do. He’s apparently travelled very well.”  - David Thompson (trainer)   10: GUARANTEED ($4.8) “His form’s been terrific and he’s come through every run better and better. His work has been terrific.” - Emma Stewart (trainer)   11: FOR A REASON ($41) “We were disappointed he pulled at Horsham (in the Cup) and then off 30m with those sectionals last week he had no hope. He’s come on good since that run and he’ll benefit from it. This is a tougher Victoria Cup than last year though. This is probably the best cup field in years. We’ll drive him like last year; come with one run. We’d be thrilled if he ran a place.” - Luke McCarthy (driver)   12: ADORE ME ($10) “Adore Me is training very well and we’re pretty excited going into the Victoria Cup. She has travelled really well and it’s a pleasure to be involved with her.” - Duane Marfisi (stable assistant with Mark Purdon)   13: RESTREPO ($41) “We’re hoping he’s getting home well and finishing it off strongly. The draw makes it a bit tricky.” - Emma Stewart (trainer)   ACCESS THE MARKET FOR THE TAB VICTORIA CUP   $200,000 FIRST 4 JACKPOT Tomorrow night's TAB Victoria Cup will carry a $200,000 First 4 pool guarantee. There is also a special bonus offer for TAB customers this weekend. Have a fixed odds win bet on the Group 1 TAB Victoria Cup or the Group 1 Hunter Cup, with your TAB account or TAB rewards card, and if your horse runs second or third, you'll score a Bonus Bet up to $50 or equivalent TAB Rewards points. Bet at the track, your local TAB outlet, via the TAB smart phone app or online at tab.com.au   WIN A $50 TAB VOUCHER Here’s your chance to win a $50 TAB Voucher. To enter, tell us who you think will win the TAB Victoria Cup on Saturday night. All entrants that pick the winner will go into a random draw and whichever lucky entrant is drawn, wins the $50 TAB Voucher! Entries must be in by no later than 8:30pm on Saturday night 31 January. Must be over 18 years of age to enter. Email competitions@hrv.org.au with the subject WIN.  The winner will be notified via email on Tuesday.

Ricky May could hardly believe what he was hearing the other day when he got the call that Terror To Love had drawn the outside of the front line in this weekend's Victoria Cup. Time and again throughout his appearances in Australia, Terror To Love has drawn the worst possible barrier and Ricky thought they were well overdue for a decent marble. But  that was not to be and while the longest run of bad barriers in major races is set to continue on Saturday night, Ricky is far from conceding defeat with Terror To Love. " Last year Christen Me came from last at the 400 metres and six wide on the corner to run third so I don't think we are out of it at all" I drove Monkey King here from the same draw and we ran fourth with a terrible run so with a little bit of luck we can get some of it." "Seeing Franco Ledger run past them the other night has given the camp some confidence that we can be more than competitive," Ricky said. Post Saturday Ricky is really looking forward to the standing start Hunter Cup where the draw will not be half as influential as it is on Saturday night. Before then Ricky has the New Zealand Premier Mares Championship on Friday night at Addington on his radar and once again his drive Helena Jet has drawn poorly. Twice second to champion mare Adore Me in mares races over Xmas at Alexandra Park, Ricky thought Helena Jet would be very hard to beat with no Adore Me around but the Jeremes Jet mare has had the misfortune to draw outside her main rival, Venus Serena. Ricky though still thinks he can still find the front from barrier six on Friday night. " She has blinding gate speed so I am pretty committed to going forward with her." " She doesn't have many more runs left as she is in foal so we are not going to die wondering." "I think she is good enough to work early and still win the race," Ricky said. The master reinsman has been in great touch this season and the chances of a little bit of Ricky May magic over the weekend at both Addington and Melton cannot be discounted. Harnesslink Media

One of the forgotten stars of harness racing will make his return at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Sidelined since November 2013, Chancellor Cullen will be first-up in The Pure Steel for trainer Dean Braun. Before injury halted his career, Chancellor Cullen was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country, boasting 11 wins and three seconds from 16 Australian starts. The stallion’s victories include the McInerney Ford Classic, Melton Plate, The Graduate and Kilmore Cup, with the latter two handicaps - the same conditions as this weekend’s assignment. Although Chancellor Cullen is returning from a long spell, Braun is confident the six-year-old son of Christian Cullen is ready to kick-start his career on a winning note. “He had a slight strain in his suspensory, and although we could have pushed on with him, we felt he was too good to risk,” Braun said. “We’ve always had such a high opinion of him and felt a long break was the better option.” Drawn five, Chancellor Cullen faces tough opposition from New Zealand raider Bit Of A Legend, along with locals Smudge Broman and Savesomtimetodream. “Although he hasn’t raced for a while, he has had plenty of ground work and will be forward enough for this,” Braun said. Citing the Inter Dominion as Chancellor Cullen’s main mission, Braun has also earmarked next week’s A G Hunter Cup. Heats of the Inter Dominion are scheduled to be run on February 14, with the Final at Menangle on March 1. “I’d like to see him in the Hunter Cup, but it depends on how he gets through this week,” Braun said. “We are definitely looking at the Inter Dominion with him.” PAUL COURTS

If you build it, they will come. Bringing together Victoria’s two biggest summer gems – the TAB Victoria Cup and the Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup – has resulted in what long-time harness racing pundits are describing as the greatest ever Victorian Cup field. Long-time trots form analyst and scribe Bill Hutchison remarked at the TAB Victoria Cup barrier draw this morning at Eynesbury Golf Club that: “Depth wise this is the best Victoria Cup field I’ve ever seen.” Master of Ceremonies, Adam Hamilton, agreed. “It’s definitely the best overall Victoria Cup field I’ve seen in my time,” Hamilton said. The Australasian harness racing world is abuzz ahead of the Group 1, $400,000 feature race to be run over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. The best from New Zealand, including three-time New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love, reigning NZ Cup champion mare Adore Me and Miracle Mile hero Christen Me, will be hoping to take the cup back across the ditch, but the Australian brigade – spearheaded by Tasmanian superstar Beautide and a three-pronged Emma Stewart attack – Guaranteed, Philadelphia Man and Restrepo – will provide fierce resistance. “This race won’t be for the fainthearted,” said champion reinsman Gavin Lang, who is expected to pilot Guaranteed on Saturday night. Impressive five-year-old Lennytheshark, who took all before him as a four-year-old last season, drew the coveted pole for the Victoria Cup. Drawn alongside the David Aiken trained runner will be Geoff Webster’s last-start Shepparton Cup winner, Franco Ledger, who stunned Philadelphia Man and Lennytheshark to win last weekend. The race favourite, and a heavily backed one at that, is Beautide from gate three for trainer/driver James Rattray. Beautide hasn’t raced since finishing second to Christen Me in November’s Miracle Mile but has trialled impressively in recent times. Trainer Amanda Grieve drew gate five with her Ballarat Pacing Cup winner Im Corzin Terror. Grieve also has Chilli Palmer, the first emergency, in the race, who drew gate eight. Cran Dalgety’s superstar Kiwi Christen Me will come from gate six, while Terror To Love and Ricky May will be hoping to emulate their Cranbourne Cup win from December but will have to overcome a barrier seven draw here. West Australian star David Hercules comes out of nine, drawn to trail through nicely on the back of Franco Ledger for Victoria Cup winning reinswoman Kate Gath. Guaranteed and Gavin Lang have drawn gate 10, reigning Victoria Cup winner For A Reason is coming out of 11, superstar New Zealand mare Adore Me is in gate 12 and last-start Hamilton Pacing Cup winner Restrepo rounds out the field in gate 13. The trots world will pause for the big race at 9.32pm on Saturday.  Race 7 TAB VICTORIA CUP (GROUP 1) 9:32 PM  M0 Or Better. * The winner of the following races in 2014 will be exempt from ballot for this race - New Zealand Free For All, Miracle Mile, Cranbourne Pacing Cup and Ballarat Pacing Cup. * This race is a leg of the Pacers Grand Circuit. * Acceptance Fee - $2, 000. * Stakemoney of $3, 375 per horse to be paid to the 6th to 12th placegetters respectively. TRAINERS NOTE: * Nominations for this race close at Noon on Friday, December 19. * Late nominations for this race close at Noon on Monday, January 19. A late nomination fee of $2, 000 will be applicable. RBD. Prizemoney: $400,000 2240 METRES 2ND LEG DAILY DOUBLE, 3RD LEG QUADDIE, 5TH LEG BIG6 MOBILE START   Form Horse Trainer Other Eng. Driver   Class  Hcp 1 111s3 LENNYTHESHARK  D Aiken   Chris Alford   C10 M4  FR1 2 89151 FRANCO LEDGER NZ  G F Webster   Geoff Webster   C20 M14  FR2 3 4112s BEAUTIDE  J R Rattray   James Rattray   C37 M13  FR3 4 11112 PHILADELPHIA MAN  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C13 M4  FR4 5 61264 IM CORZIN TERROR NZ  A J Grieve       C16 M9  FR5 6 51121 CHRISTEN ME NZ  C T Dalgety   Dexter Dunn   C22 M14  FR6 7 44412 TERROR TO LOVE NZ  G T Court   Ricky May   C27 M21  FR7  ---------- Second Row ----------  8 020s3 CHILLI PALMER NZ (Em 1)  A J Grieve Balarat 30/01/2015     C9 M5  SR- 9 s1112 DAVID HERCULES  D A Thompson   Kate Gath   C33 M23  SR1 10 11231 GUARANTEED  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C16 M6  SR2 11 35177 FOR A REASON  B J McCarthy   Luke McCarthy   C20 M9  SR3 12 12111 ADORE ME NZ  M Purdon   Mark Purdon   C22 M12  SR4 13 s4421 RESTREPO  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C12 M5  SR5 BY CODY WINNELL 

Former kiwi pacer Easy On The Eye will be aimed at the Hunter Cup after his win in Monday's Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup. The Shane Tritton trained gelding led throughout to record his second Australian win but his 17th victory overall. "Easy On The Eye's form is faultless since he joined my stable if you ignore the Miracle Mile run and on that occasion we simply overdid it early," Tritton said. "I was extremely happy with his performance at Goulburn, he worked to the lead and controlled the race throughout so now I will take him to Victoria and hope to get a start in the Hunter Cup." Tritton did nominate Easy On The Eye and Suave Stuey Lombo for this Saturday night's Victoria Cup but both failed to make the final field. "We want to wish the connections of horses in the Victoria Cup the best of luck, it should be a great race, it is just a pity Suave Stuey Lombo couldn't gain a start because we would have started from the carpark if they had let us." "Easy On The Eye, Artistic Flite and Yayas Hot Spot will all go to Victoria this week and then after Saturday night's Ranji Bill Stakes at Menangle I will also send one of my four mares down but I just want to wait and see what happens this weekend first." The leading driver in New South Wales, Lauren Panella will drive at Melton on Saturday night and Tritton confirmed drivers that he has used recently will get another opportunity. "A lot of the drivers who have been driving for me will retain their drives this week, outside of Lauren I have been using David Morris, Bruce Birch and Blake Fitzpatrick as well." "We will go down for two weeks and be back for the Inter Dominion heats in Sydney." By Greg Hayes                

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