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Harness racing records fell on a historic night at Tabcorp Park Melton , where Smolda claimed the grand prize and a champion trotter held off the young superstars snapping at his heels. Smolda slashed 1.1 seconds off Arden Rooney’s 3280m standing start track record, a mark unlikely to ever be broken having been the last standing start Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. And Keystone Del not only added a sixth Group 1 victory when he clinched the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, but he smashed his own trotting track record by 1.2 seconds. They followed the lead of Cold Major, who earlier lowered the track record for 1720m in the Bertocchi Free For All, taking 0.3 of a second off Smoken Up’s record, which had stood since February 2012. A major prize also went the way of Amanda Turnbull’s camp after the trainer-driver steered Tact Tate to victory in the Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, securing a place in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. “We’re very excited,” Turnbull said post-race. “It’s a really big thrill.” It was an unforgettable night to a close out a thrilling Summer Of Glory, which attracted big attendances and reaffirmed the sport’s champions. Few more so than Smolda, who followed last week’s close-run second to Lennytheshark in the Good Form Victoria Cup with a victory tonight, earning every cent of his stake in the $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup. A weight of money saw Smolda draw into $2.30 for the great race, but it was second-favourite Ohoka Punter who started the better, taking the lead while Smolda was slow away and had to grind early to eventually find the breeze. But Smolda’s trainer and driver, Mark Purdon, drove with confidence, pushing Smolda to the front with two laps to go. Come the final straight, Ohoka Punter drew off its back and the Kiwis went head-to-head down the straight, with Smolda holding on to win by a head in a record 1:57.3 mile rate. “This one’s eluded us, so it was nice to get it and be able to say we’ve done it,” Purdon said. Arguably the night’s most popular win came in race five, when Keystone Del led all the way for Brent Lilley, holding off Kiwi Speeding Spur, while short-priced favourite Monbet and well-backed Glenferrie Typhoon galloped late to rule themselves out. Victorious driver Anthony Butt said it was a “great performance” by Keystone Del, which “really dug in and the horses couldn’t pass him”. That winning feeling was also celebrated in the David Aiken camp, which savoured three winners with Juliette Bromac winning the Devondale Rising Stars Pace Final, Cold Major claiming the free for all and Quick Draft emerging in the Harness Breeders Victoria Ladyship Cup. The latter win was a great thrill for Luke McCarthy, who stepped into the sulky of the pre-race emergency after his previous drive, Nike Franco, was scratched. “It was a genuine tempo and (Quick Draft) just went really good at the end of it,” McCarthy said. “These mares’ races are always really competitive and good to see her get this one on her CV.” The victory qualified Quick Draft for the Ladyship Mile at Menangle. Victoria Cup winning reinsman Chris Alford delivered a 10 out of 10 drive aboard Dancingwithsierra to win the first race, the Gary Hoban trained filly defeating Rockstar Angel and $1.20 favourite Rocknroll Magic in 1:55.9. Almost El Eagle, who was cherry ripe for a Hunter Cup berth tonight but didn’t make the final field, proved his class with a big win in the Edgell Sidewinders Pace. Driven by John Caldow for trainer Steve Duffy, Almost El Eagle showed his customary dash up the home straight to overhaul the leaders for a 1:54.8 win, beating Desdon Murruffy in second by 2.7m. Well-backed Quite A Moment won the Fonterra Lenin Trotters Free for All (Group 3) for Greg Hope and Ricky May, while a big group of happy connections rounded out the night with The Storm Inside winning the Swift Signs Premiere Stakes for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. by Michael Howard

An enthusiastic group of harness racing owners, many of them new to the sport, have booked their chariot to Sydney courtesy of Tact Tate’s Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza win tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton.   The Amanda Turnbull-trained gelding by McArdle out of Tact Lizzie showed an electric turn of foot in the home straight notch Group 1 success, sprinting by Mark Purdon’s Itz Bettor To Win (second) to record a mile rate of 1:51.9 for the 1720m trip.   “We’re very excited,” Turnbull said post-race. “It’s a really big thrill.”   Turnbull’s excitement was only surpassed by the group of winning owners, who declared Sydney the next stop for the $200,000 Chariots of Fire.   The winner of the Bonanza receives an invite to the Chariots.   Tact Tate led initially tonight before handing up to Purdon aboard Itz Bettor To Win. This move pocketed Tee Cee Bee Macray three-pegs from the pole and Burnaholeinmypocket four back on the inside.   “It worked out perfect once he had that much gate speed,” Turnbull said.   Tact Tate has won five from five since arriving in Australia and the owners are having an absolute blast.   “It is a big group of owners and a lot of them are new owners, so that’s really good for the industry,” Turnbull said.   Cody Winnell

Tonight's $500,000 Hunter Cup looked like a much easier assignment for the champion New Zealand trained harness racing pacer Smolda who has been battling the brilliant  Lennytheshark in recent weeks. With no Lennytheshark or Beautide in the field, Smolda looked a class above his rivals tonight but as races can do Smolda was pushed to the limit to justify his hot favourtisum. As expected Ohoka Punter stepped brilliantly and grabbed the early lead for Anthony Butt and immediately made it clear he was holding the front when Messini and Chris Alford had a look for the lead. Meanwhile Smolda and Mark Purdon were working arounding the field and had a strong look for the lead as well but Ohoka Punter and Anthony Butt kicked up and held the lead. Five hundred metres later, Mark Purdon really put it to Ohoka Punter and this time Anthony Butt let him go as Mark was showing no signs of stopping the attack. Once in front Smolda kept clicking over those sub 30 second quarters and had most of the competition in trouble down the back straight the last time. On the point of the turn Ohoka Punter eased off the trail and looked a distinct threat but though he got up to Smolda he just couldn't get past the whole way down the Melton straight. Smolda just wouldn't lie down and still had a head margin on Ohoka Punter at the finish with the West Australian My Hard Copy fying late for third after having a soft run four back on the inner during the running. Smolda's run gained even further kudos when the time of 3:59.1 was announced which took nearly a second off the old record at Tabcorp Park Melton. That equates to a mile rate of 1:57.3 for the 3280 metres from a standing start which is a great effort while the closing sectionals were covered in 56.4 and 27.9 Mark Purdon was full of praise for his warrior post race. " That was a great effort tonight." " He was very keen out there and never really came back to me at any stage of the race." "He has a high cruising speed and with him over racing and running along like he was I thought he might be vunerable." " However he has refused to let anyone past." It was a great performance" Mark Purdon said. Tonights win was career victory number twenty four for the son of Courage Under Fire and took his lifetime earnings over the $1,300,000 mark. Mark Purdon is now considering weather to head to Menangle next week for a shot at the Miracle Mile with Smolda but is unlikely to make a decision until Tuesday at the earliest. Harnesslink Media

All harness racing pundits assessing the form leading into tonights $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton were in agreement that it was a two horse war. Glenferrie Typhoon from barrier 1 was expected to lead early and going by his previous two starts was expected to be very difficult to catch. The main danger was the star New Zealand four year old Monbet who after two sensational victories in the last fortnight was looking to cement his standing as the best trotter in Australasia at present. The script went out of the window as soon as the mobile gate left the start with Anthony Butt sooling Keystone Del straight to the front with Glenferrie Typhoon settling in the trail and Monbet settling in the open on Keystone Del's wheel. However Monbet looked scratchy in his gate a couple of times early in the race and driver Ricky May was happy to take a trail when the Kiwi raider Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie worked around to sit in the open with just over a lap to go. Going past the 600 metres Speeding Spur put it to Keystone Del and the pair drew clear a length of Monbet who started to trot very roughly, finally galloping and being retired from the race. Keystone Del and Speeding Spur turned for home together but as they did Glenferrie Typhoon also went into a gallop in the trail, extinguishing his chances. Under a hard drive from Anthony Butt , the Dr Ronerail gelding Keystone Del was able to keep a game Speeding Spur at bay down the straight by an ever reducing head with Arboe flying late to be only a half neck away third. The time of 2:41.5 for the 2240 metres was a new track record at Tabcorp Park Melton, a mile rate of 1:56 with smart closing sectionals of 55.9 and 28.1. Anthony Butt was full of praise for Keystone Del post race. " He has gone great tonight. " He was travelling well most of the way but Josh really turned up the pressure at the 600 metres mark. " I was waiting for Monbet to come out of the one by one but it never happened," Anthony said. Tonights  win by Keystone Del was his 33rd career success at just his 55th start and took his career earnings over the $860,000 mark. Tonights win was a timely reminder by Keystone Del to the young pretenders that he was not going to give up his crown as the best trotter in Australia easily. Harnesslink Media

It was the horse no one wanted to buy as a yearling and the horse that almost died on the operating table as a three-year-old. Tonight, only 12 months on from major surgery, it may well be the horse that wins a Group 1 and books a ticket to the nation’s richest race for harness racing four-year-olds, the Chariots Of Fire. Tee Cee Bee Macray, who will contest tonight’s Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, is fast becoming a favourite of co-owner and breeder Ian Kitchin. “We are very fortunate we got him to the racetrack, because a couple of serious issues could have meant the end of his life,” Kitchin said. “The horse is a miracle horse in a lot of ways. A lot of these things come back down to the attitude of the horse itself.” Tee Cee Bee Macray suffered a bad viral infection in his neck early last year, which threatened to spread to his lungs. That spread would have killed him, but a “major procedure” was successful and after a stint on the sidelines he returned to racing last October. After a 10-month lay-off, Tee Cee Bee Macray produced four consecutive wins before a fast-paced third at Melton. “He’s not a horse that will quit on you, he’s been a fighter all his life and that’s something you bottle up and it comes out on the racetrack,” Kitchin said. The illness has meant the four-year-old gelding, which is trained at Alan Tubbs’ Bacchus Marsh stable, has to date been lightly raced in comparison to tonight’s rivals. His nine starts have produced six wins and $23,902, an amount that could be quadrupled in tonight’s $100,000 feature race. It’s a far cry from Tee Cee Bee Macray’s timid entry to racing. He was the first foal of metropolitan class winner Way Mya Macray, which Kitchin had sired by Ponder, a medium-priced US stallion that the breeder considered a good bloodline cross with the mare. “By being the first foal (of Way Mya Macray), I wanted to see what type of foal she would have,” Kitchin said. “The first foal has a tendency to be on the small side. I wanted to see what type of foal dropped before pulling the trigger on a bigger costing stallion.” At the APG sales Kitchin found little interest in the yearling and so it was led back into his float and returned to Macray Lodge. “No one seemed to like him and so I took him home,” Kitchin said, but he didn’t give up, instead organising a syndicate to race the horse with him. During a US tour, where Kitchin – a big Elvis Presley fan – attended Graceland in Memphis, he was drawn to the name of the King’s back-up band TCB, an acronym for Taking Care of Business. And the name Tee Cee Bee Macray was born. “He’s turned out to be a very nice horse indeed,” Kitchin said. After last year’s surgery, Tee Cee Bee Macray followed four wins in October and November last year with a short spell before returning at Tabcorp Park Melton on January 22, when first-up he ran into The Culture and Itz Bettor To Win. “I watched the race with a number of co-owners not quite knowing what to expect,” Kitchin said. “At one stage I thought he’s going to win this. He then tired off in the last 100m and I thought that was a bit disappointing. “Then I realised they ran a 1:51.6 (mile rate) and he was first up from a spell. It was three or four seconds faster than anything he’d run in his life. “It was unbelievable, and that’s the sort of level he will be running against in the Group 1.” The mile rate was just half-a-second outside the track record set by superstar pacer Smoken Up, unheard of in a C4-5 class with $6325 stakes. Both The Culture and Itz Bettor To Win are entered for tonight’s return bout, in which Tee Cee Bee Macray’s chances were done no harm when he drew barrier one. “It’s good that he is getting the opportunity to show his wares,” Kitchin said. “He’s a baby and is still on a learning curve. He does what he does at the moment on pure adrenaline and is just learning the craft as he goes along. “Everyone can see the ability, it’s just a matter of can he take it the next step.” The winner will be granted entry into the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle, which Kitchin said was one of “the great races you watch over the years and to have a runner would be incredible”. “That’s one of the big reasons you breed horses, to follow their careers like they are your babies,” Kitchin said. “I have horses racing in Western Australia, New South Wales, and I still follow their careers, it’s like they are vital cogs in your machine. “It’s a huge buzz, when I breed a horse and see it then going into racing. If it manages to win a Group 1 race it’s a fantastic feeling.” Michael Howard Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

A genuine harness racing rock star may be born tonight when a Victorian hope will join the big time. Yankee Rockstar returns to Tabcorp Park Melton fresh off a victory on Good Form Victoria Cup day, but on this occasion Emma Stewart’s six-year-old will advance from race one to the showcase – the $500,000 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. A multiple-time Group 3 winner and Group 2 placegetter, Yankee Rockstar returns to Group 1 racing for the first time since running seventh at Menangle in the Chariots Of Fire last March. Co-owner and Sky Sports Radio presenter Andrew Bensley said connections had long thought their pacer was bound for the big stage, but were aware of the magnitude of the step up. “We are certainly open-eyed that this is his first real go at the top level,” Bensley said. “He has been a pretty good horse, but we are very aware this is the ultimate test. He might still be six months away from being at his absolute peak, given this is his first time meeting all of the stars.” Yankee Rockstar will enter in winning form after upstaging heavily backed New Zealand raider, Itz Bettor To Win, in the first race at Melton last Saturday. “Saturday was thrilling,” Bensley said. “He went back from his draw and had one fantastic run from the 600m mark to beat Mark Purdon’s horse (Itz Bettor To Win), which had a fairly big splash. “The owners went off. It was one of the best races for where he was in the race.” With a 26.2 last 400m and a 1:52.2 mile rate, Yankee Rockstar brought more joy for its owners, who are rapt to just be in the running for tonight’s historic Hunter Cup, the last to be run as a standing start. “We are going in with an open mind. We are excited to make the field,” Bensley said. “He has always missed a couple of the major races due to little things with the horse. “I trust the judgment of Gavin Lang and Emma Stewart, who have always had a very good opinion of the horse. “The horse has been magnificent to all of us. The connections are confident it will be able to compete with the very best. Whether (tonight) is too soon or not we will see.” Michael Howard Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

Tonight will serve up the best trots race Melbourne has seen “in a long time”, says the harness racing trainer of local hope Arboe. Anton Golino said Monbet’s decision to stay on and chase the $100,000 prizemoney in the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton had added further fuel to the fire. Great Australian trotter Keystone Del will be second-up from a spell and eager to add to his Group 1 haul tonight, while in-form Glenferrie Typhoon has drawn barrier one and is expected to use its gate speed to lead. New Zealand raider Speeding Spur, which beat Monbet in April last year, and Kyvalley Blur are also rated highly and will be pressing. “It’s a cracking field,” Golino said. “It’s as good a trots field as I’ve seen for a long time here. “Monbet’s a star. He’s definitely a top horse, but this will be his biggest test. He’s beat up open horses in New Zealand, he’s obviously the benchmark right now.” Trainer Greg Hope said it was “astounding” what Monbet was doing at age four, having set alight the Summer Of Glory with a barnstorming win in the APCO Australasian Trotting Championship. “Most horses, when they are racing at the top level, need a bit of age on them really, but he’s stepped up at a young age,” Hope told RSN. “I think he can (take improvement into tonight). I think he’s going to need too, Speeding Spur is coming and Keystone Del and there’s going to be a battle up there.” Among those kept tight in the market is Andy Gath’s Glenferrie Typhon, an in-form horse in an in-form trainer. “His last two runs have been career best runs, and maybe this one will have to top them,” Gath said. “It’s a great field. We were helped by the barrier draw and he has pretty good gate speed.” Gath said Glenferrie Typhoon had matured nicely into the quality horse he knew he had the ability to become, but would face his toughest test tonight. Golino’s chance, Arboe, has been somewhat forgotten after a disappointing Australasian Trotting Championships, when expectations it would take the fight to Monbet fizzled in the first heat. Golino said Arboe “got a little fierce” in the lead-up, which affected her airways. “Hopefully it’s something we can just forget about and put a line through it. She is back to herself, training well,” he said. “She’s had nine starts and these horses are hardened, seasoned racehorses. Ability is not the question, but it is a tough challenge for her.” Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

Amid all the “Kiwi this” and “New Zealand that”, which has dominated much of the Summer Of Glory conversation, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley’s strong stable is happy to wait in the shadows until show time on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Champion trotter Keystone Del will attempt to unseat New Zealand raiders Monbet and Speeding Spur in the Settle Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. And 89 minutes later Messini will rip from barrier six to take the fight to Ohoka Punter and Smolda in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Lilley’s runners are among the few Australian chances at single-figure odds in the betting, and the Bolinda trainer was looking forward to having his chargers return to the grand stage. It will be familiar ground for five-time Group 1 winner Keystone Del, who Lilley said had “been going really well”. “We have kept him a little on the fresh side lately because it will be 12 or so weeks from the start (of his campaign) to the Great Southern Star and he has a very busy schedule,” he said. “He is the forgotten horse a little bit with Monbet, but it is a star-studded field.” Lilley said the attention given to the favourite was not misguided. “He’s all class Monbet. We will probably have an advantage, having been drawn inside him. “Anthony (Butt) is a very good race driver and will try and place (Keystone Del) in the running. But it is not just Monbet, it’s Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur is going very well and has a good draw. “There are definitely half a dozen chances in the race. It is never ever easy and you expect to get competition, that is what it is all about. This is one of the best trotting fields we’re seen over here.” There will be no excuses from Keystone Del’s camp. “He’s ready to go. It’s so hard to always peak with all the group 1s over the next five to six weeks, but he’ll be more than competitive.” Similarly, Messini is expected to give followers a good sight in the A. G. Hunter Cup, having performed admirably in last Saturday’s showcase. “He went really good in the Victoria Cup,” Lilley said. “He made an early move, then got held up at the corner and hit the line full of running. “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to this week. The 3200m and standing start don’t hold any worries.“ Drawn sixth, Messini could well be in the mix, but there is plenty of pace inside, not the least of all being Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ohoka Punter (barrier three) and Smolda (barrier five). “Some of the better chances have drawn the front row. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the first 100m, we’ll be up among it,” Lilley said. “In an ideal world we’d step to the front and stay there, but everyone on the front row is thinking the same. “If we step good and get to the front of the field that would be great, but it’s a 3200m race and so there’s plenty of time to work into it.” by Michael Howard

The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters heats back up again this weekend. And it heads to Australia for the first time this season with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix over 2240m at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. After first being staged in 2001 and won by star mare La Coocaracha, this race was made famous after champion trotter Sundons Gift made it his own when successful on four straight occasions (2007-10). Following the success of Master Lavros in the Dominion at Addington last November, the opening leg of the 2015/16 Trotting Masters, an all-star cast has been assembled this weekend in the mobile start feature. Many believe this is THE feature this weekend. With a perfect blend of proven against unproven, a reputation will be enhanced dramatically with victory. Australia’s best trotter Keystone Del is aiming at redemption after being forced to play the runners-up role last season with star Kiwi Stent proving victorious while his win streak of six straight wins came to an abrupt ending last start at Shepparton at the hands of emerging star Glenferrie Typhoon, a rival again this weekend. After a recent switch to the leading stables of Brent Lilley, Keystone Del will start from gate three with champion reinsman Anthony Butt booked to take the drive. Glenferrie Typhoon proved his recent Shepparton track record thumping was no fluke with another stunning victory last week in the Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters Cup for in-form husband and wife combination of Andy and Kate Gath. The New Zealand bred gelding will be looking for his third straight victory and will start from the inside gate. Also carrying the ‘Glenferrie’ moniker is the Belinda McCarthy trained Glenferrie Dreamer who chased home Monbet last week in the Australasian Trotting Championship Final. The Sydney trained trotter will appreciate the mobile start and will leave from gate five. Young Kiwi stars Monbet and Speeding Spur both contain ‘X factor’ coupled with explosive qualities and both command enormous respect. The four-year-old phenomenon’s are both unbeaten at Melton and will provide New Zealand with an excellent chance of maintaining the recent kiwi dominance in the feature. Monbet starts from gate four while Speeding Spur starts from gate six. Classy mares Arboe and Habibti will take their shot despite both coming off crushing defeats at their most recent starts. On each occasion, they felt the full fury of Monbet. The Anton Golino prepared Arboe starts from gate two while the Adam Kelly trained Habibti must overcome gate seven, the outside gate. American bred trotter Kyvalley Blur, aka ‘Mr Consistency’ is a proven big race performer at Melton and boasts excellent recent form with placing’s at his past eight starts. The Chocolatier stallion has drawn gate eight, the sole second-line runner. The Grand Prix will be a cracking event, it’s race 5 on the program and timed to start at 8.03pm local time. by Chris Barsby

Ohoka Punter’s chances of taking the Del-Re National $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night from his harness racing compatriot Smolda were given a boost at tonight’s barrier draw. Tony Herlihy’s New Zealand  hope drew barrier three, inside Smolda (barrier five), for the last Hunter Cup to be run with a standing start.  Geoff Webster’s Franco Ledger took barrier one and will be joined on the front row by fellow Victorian hope Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ballarat’s It Is Billy (barrier four), Messini (barrier six) and Webster’s other runner, Flaming Flutter (barrier seven).  Webster said “he couldn’t be happier” with Franco Ledger, who chances were greatly boosted by the draw, hosted by the Caduceus Club at the MCG. “He’s been going quite well,” Webster said. “I drove him at Shepparton and he felt good to me, and with that run and this barrier draw he should be a good each-way chance.” Driver Anthony Butt has held the reins for Franco Ledger of late, but will steer Ohoka Punter on Saturday night. Butt said in barrier three Ohoka Punter had “drawn perfectly”. “He needed to draw the front row and it has fallen well for him,” Butt said. Adam Hamilton of TAB.com.au said the draw had made Ohoka Punter favourite at $3, after Smolda eased to $3.20. That was short-lived however and, after the first few bets all went the way of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup winner, Smolda was drawn back into $3 equal favourite. Good Form’s Jason Bonnington said Smolda wasn’t the best from the standing start and expected a lot of horses would battle for the breeze early. “We do think that Ohoka Punter will lead and that probably Smolda will find the breeze eventually,” Bonnington said.  “It is the last standing start Hunter Cup as we know and anything can happen. We can make predictions, but we really don’t know what is going to happen on the first line.”  Bonnington picked Smolda on top, while Good Form’s Blake Redden said the barrier draw had convinced him to switch and tip Ohoka Punter to win.  Del-Re National Hunter Cup barrier draw: 1 - Franco Ledger 2 - Yankee Rockstar 3 - Ohoka Punter 4 - It Is Billy 5 - Smolda 6 - Messini 7 - Flaming Flutter 8 - My Hard Copy 9 - Mossdale Conner 10 - Im Corzin Terror 11 - Five Star Anvil 12 - Franco Nelson 13 - Star Chamber 14 - Jason Rulz by Michael Howard

The harness racing field has been released for the 2016 Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. The barrier draw for the $500,000 Group 1 will be held tonight at the MCG with live coverage of the event on Harness Racing Victoria’s social media channels – @HRVnews on Twitter and Facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria. The race will be run on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, on night two of Harness Racing Victoria's TAB.com.au Summer of Glory Carnival. The night also features the running of the $100,000 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza and the $100,000 Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. Details at www.summerofglory.com.au<http://www.summerofglory.com.au>   FINAL FIELD FIVE STAR ANVIL NZ FLAMING FLUTTER NZ FRANCO LEDGER NZ FRANCO NELSON NZ IM CORZIN TERROR NZ IT IS BILLY JASON RULZ NZ MESSINI MOSSDALE CONNER NZ MY HARD COPY NZ OHOKA PUNTER NZ SMOLDA STAR CHAMBER YANKEE ROCKSTAR Cody Winnell  

Tonight's $400,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton looked a two horse war between two outstanding harness racing champions in Lennytheshark and Smolda and thats exactly as it panned out. Smolda and Mark Purdon had drawn better at barrier four but have never been renowned for their gate speed whereas Lennytheshark and Chris Alford have always had gate speed to burn which lead most pundits to predict an early war between the two champions. The concenus was that whichever of the two champions made the front would be incredibly hard to beat overall. Smolda, Mister Mundaka and Lennytheshark all came out together as they rushed into the first corner but Lennytheshark had the momentum and made the front in front of Smolda and as predicted that was the winning of the race. Allowed to run the first 1200 metres of the last mile in a sedate 1:29.8,Lennytheshark sprinted quickly from the 400 metres and a last quarter in a smart 26.9 was enough to see him just hold out a late charging Smolda by an ever diminishing head to reverse the result when they last met in the Ballarat Cup. A minor highlight of the Victoria Cup was the performance of the Greg Hope trained Mossdale Conner who after settling near last early, worked forward in the three wide line and then finished brilliantly out wide late on a 26.9 quarter to run third. Driver Ricky May had been bullish about the Bettor's Delight geldings chances going into this week but was looking forward to the Hunter Cup even more as Mossdale Conner is a renowned standing start exponent. Lennytheshark paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.1, a mile rate of 1;55 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 26.9. The last two meetings between Lennytheshark and Smolda have proven one thing beyond dispute. Whichever of the two champions finds the pegs first invariably proves the horse to beat. There seems to be a tissue paper between them on performance at the moment which has made for some great racing in their last two clashes. Lennytheshark A race earlier, Ohoka Punter sent another warning shot over the bows of his Hunter Cup rivals with another effortless standing start victory at Tabcorp Park Melton in the hands of Anthony Butt. Ohoka Punter seems to be thriving on his Australian campaign and looms as a major player in this years Hunter Cup where the standing start and 3000 metres + trip will suit him down to the ground. Ohoka Punter Harnesslink Media

Harness racing trainer Greg Hope knew in his heart this week that his star young trotter Monbet would face a much stiffer challenge in the final of the Australasian Trotting Championship Final at Tabcorp Park Melton than he had in his heat win at Ballarat a week ago. With all of his competition having a 20 metre start over Monbet, you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to deduce that the front markers would try to make his task as hard as possible by keeping the pace as hot as possible throughout the contest. Which is exactly what they did with no let up at any stage of the $50,575 Final as the lead changed a couple of times during the running. Monbet and driver Ricky May were slow but safely away from their 20 metres handicap but seem to take an eternity to latch on to the back of the bunch with just over two laps to go. Habibti and Gavin Lang had found the front by then and the tempo was hot but when One Over Da Moon was sent forward three wide by Chris Alford, Monbet followed him around and worked to the death seat with just over a round to go. Habibti looked to have Monbet in some trouble passing the 400 metres mark but as they straightened for home Ricky asked for a supreme effort and like the champion he is Monbet lifted and mastered Habibti. Having done all that work throughout the race,Monbet was a sitting duck for the swoopers and they were lead by the outstanding mare Claudys Princess who looked a chance half way up the straight to roll the favourite but Monbet held too many guns in the final 100 metres to record an absolutely sensational win. Claudys Princess was game in running second not far in front of another solid finisher in El Paco. But all the honours lay with Monbet. To give all your competition a 20 metre start, be wide and parked for a greater part of the journey and still win the race like Monbet did is as dominant a performace as you will see. When you add in the fact that Monbet smashed the track record in the process, you start to realise the enormity of tonights win by Monbet. The big question post race tonight was would Monbet be back for The Great Southern Star and trainer Greg Hope was still to confirm one way or the other after tonights race. Harnesslink Media

As we have got closer to tonights $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Derby at Tabcorp Park Melton, more and more of the local harness racing trainers were saying that Lazarus was far from a past the post proprosition and was vunerable from his poor second line draw. Several suggested that he had been shown too much respect in his Derby heat win and that wouldn't be happening this week and he was very beatable. Trainer Mark Purdon as per normal for the reserved horseman refused to buy into the banter and instead was content to say he was thrilled where his colt was fitness wise and thought he would run a big race. And what a fantastic run it turned out to be as he worked hard throughout the Derby but still had enough gas in the tank to brush home in a brilliant 26.3 to add his name to the Victoria Derby honour roll. The very talented Don't Hold Back grabbed the lead early from barrier five for driver Greg Sugars and quickly signalled that he was in no mind to hand up. Mark Purdon was quickly onto the early three wide line but was left three wide for nearly 800 metres before finding the death seat outside Don't Hold Back with 1100 metres to go. Sugars was happy to let Don't Hold Back cut out even quarters in front before upping the tempo down the back straight. At the 400 metres mark Don't Hold Back went for the doctor and put a length on Lazarus and it appeared that an upset was on the cards. But as soon as Mark Purdon went for Lazarus, he quickly dashed up to Don't Hold Back and put the race to bed in a few big strides. Three Ways after sitting in the trail the whole journey snuck up the passing lane late to grab second from a very game Don't Hold Back. The colt by Bettor's Delight paced the 2240 metres in a brilliant 2:40.2, a mile rate of 1:55.1 with closing sectionals of 55 and 26.3. Lazarus has just had the 14 starts now for 12 wins and has taken his earnings past the $600,000 mark. The arrogance of the win by Lazarus tonight in doing a lot more work in the Derby and yet still getting away from his opposition when it counted stamps as a colt with a huge future in front of him. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing owner Martin Riseley is living the dream and enjoying every minute of it. When his champion pacer Lennytheshark won last month’s Inter Dominion Grand Final in Perth Riseley realised a lifelong dream, but the euphoria will continue tomorrow night at Tabcorp Park Melton as the 2016 TAB.com.au Sumer of Glory gets under way. It is Good Form Victoria Cup night and Lennytheshark highly fancied by punters and bookies alike in the $400,000 Group 1 feature race. “We’re enjoying every bit of it … he’s the greatest horse I’ve ever been involved with without a doubt,” Riseley told RSN Breakfast this morning. Riseley, who races Lennytheshark in partnership with his father Kevin, said the horse was purchased as a weanling. “They’re all champions before they get to the track,” he said of his babies. “We always hold high hopes and Lenny was no different to that.” But how did the gun pacer with the catchy name come to be called Lennytheshark? “My eldest boy Sam, dad and me would go around and feed the mares and the foals and at that stage Lenny was always just ‘Sharky’, being by Four Starzzz Shark (Lennytheshark’s sire). “After a few months of that, Sam would have only been three or four, he piped up in the ute and said: ‘It isn’t Sharky, it’s Lenny the Shark’, and he went on to explain to us about the Fish Tales movie he watches and how Lenny the Shark was on that.” Now Riseley’s kids have their hair done up like a shark’s fin at the races and carry shark mascots in support of their champion, who has netted almost $1.5million in prizemoney with 24 wins from 46 starts to date. “It’s all still a bit surreal,” he said of the whole experience. Want to find out more about ownership? Visit the owners booth near the raceday office on Good Form Victoria Cup night at Tabcorp Park Melton or email HRV Ownership Manager Tori Glenister.  Cody Winnell

The Raising of Lazarus is a prominent miracle attributed to Jesus. Erasing Lazarus from the VHRSC Victoria Derby history books may take a similarly divine feat. Mark Purdon’s trotting freak lived up to expectations in the Derby heats at Ballarat last Saturday, and most discussions about the Tabcorp Park Melton final are framed around New Zealand’s short-priced favourite. Nathan Jack trains and drives Zee Dana, which ran second to Lazarus in last weekend’s heat. “It was a bit disturbing how easy Lazarus could beat him,” Jack said. “He was pretty impressive. “Once he straightened up it was just like Mark hit the turbo button and he was gone.” Jack said Lazarus held all the keys, and while disadvantaged to draw 11, “he’ll have to have a lot of bad luck or interference to get beaten”. But beaten he can be, says West Australia trainer Gary Elson, who will have Sprinter starting from barrier seven. Elson said it was important not to get lured into serving Lazarus a red carpet run to the finishing line. “He’s very good, but I don’t think he’s unbeatable,” Elson said. “We have one of those in our own team called Beaudiene Boaz. People think he’s a superstar, and Lazarus might be that, and so no one attacks them. If he has to do a bit of work things could be different.” There’s certainly no bluster from Purdon’s camp that would increase the target on Lazarus’ back. “He’s done nothing wrong all season and he’s still on the improve,” Purdon offered. A strong contingent will attempt to unseat the raider, and potentially knock a boatload of punters out of the first leg of the quaddie. Much of that form can be drawn around Jack. First off, Zee Dana, his own three-year-old that drew horribly and will start from barrier 13. Jack said he “was really happy with” Zee Dana’s Ballarat effort, having been back from a spell and had two soft runs before the heat. “I tried to hold the front and see how he went. I was happy that I could hold the rest of them off.” Jack also steered Brallos Pass and Kingofthestars into second placings in their respective Derby heats, and said all three would “be better for the run”. “I was pretty happy with (Brallos Pass at Ballarat). He sat back and kept creeping forward and was really good in defeat, but that’s to take nothing from the winner (Dont Hold Back), who was just too good on the night.” And of Kingofthestars, Jack said “he was like a junior footballer going into A grade – it was first game against the big boys”. “He was pretty good. At the top of the straight I thought I’d win, but he probably got a little tired.” It was Elson’s Sprinter that ran Kingofthestars down, completing its last 800m in 54.65s, the quickest of the three heats that included a 26.95s final 400m. Only Lazarus (26.77s) and Cant Refuse (26.85s) ran a better final quarter-mile of those contesting Derby heats. “I was really happy with how he run and really happy with the drive,” Elson said. “The horse will improve this week, because we only got in about three o’clock last Thursday morning. “I think he’s a real chance, he just has to get a barrier. Sprinter is really quick and knows where the winning post is.” Sprinter drew barrier seven, having been the last horse called, leaving Kristy Elson a little downcast as she flipped the final hat to confirm their hope’s starting position. On their immediate inside are Brallos Pass and Dont Hold Back, the latter being Mario Attard’s colt, a son of Courage Under Fire. Attard said the field contained many threats. “It is a good mark for us to come up against Lazarus, but also Sprinter – the guys from the west haven’t come here for the weather,” he said. “If you look at the field they are all good horses.” Michael Howard

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