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The harness racing fans turned out in force to see what was hailed as a match-race. But feature-race specialists Tim Butt and Anthony Butt spoiled the party when five-year-old My Field Marshall scored a race-record win in today's $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of former champion mare Foreal, by Art Major scored an amazing win in the Group One feature, nailing another surprise packet Mach Doro near the line to score in 1:50.2, breaking Hectorjayjay's race record set last year. The plucky Lennytheshark raced outside the leader Hectorjayjay and held on manfully to take third place, but had no answer to the sprint of the first two placegetters in the straight. Part-owner of My Field Marshall Syd Brown said he had looked at the list of previous winners including the likes of Smoken Up (four times), Changeover, Beautide, Smolda and Hectorjayjay and said he dreamt of just having a horse good enough to compete against the Grand Circuit stars. The rest was left to the Butt brothers . . trainer Tim has been in Sydney for almost a month preparing the Christchurch pacer for his shot at glory while Anthony, who is now domiciled in Melbourne, he has become one of that state's leading reinsman with a string of winners. But Anthony admitted this might be his biggest win on the Menangle circuit and was certainly something special against some of the best horses in Australasia. Hectorjayjay (Josh Aiken) showed his normal extraordinary turn of foot to easily find the front in the 1609m sprint while Lennytheshark (Chris Alford) never shirked the task and gradually made his way around the field to sit outside of his stablemate for most of the race. Turning for home it became obvious 'Hector' couldn't shake off his stablemate, but that didn't matter as first Mach Doro and then My Field Marshall made their moves out wide. Butt had something in hand as he easily picked up his rivals to score in 1:50.2 after sectionals of 26.9s, 29.4s, 26.8 and home in 27.1 for a win that stunned most of those present - except the Butts, who knew they had a horse that was up to the task. . . . and one whose name will look quite at home in the record books beside some of the greats of the sport. Amanda Zammit  

No instructions, no regrets and one of his biggest thrills. That was the only way young harness racing trainer Todd Rattray could explain a massive win in securing today's Breeders Challenge for two-year-old colts with Ignatius at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Ignatius set a new track record two-year-old rating 1:51.3 to beat outsider Little Peanut and the well-backed Sicario in the Group One classic. The Tasmanian youngster by Roll With Joe has improved with every step since crossing Bass Strait and Todd was more than happy to hand the reins to big brother James when Ignatius hit Sydney a month or so ago. "James has done a terrific job today and to come up here and beat the likes of Mark Purdon and Shane Tritton's stables is pretty special," said Todd. "No, I'm not sorry I wasn't driving him . . . it's just a thrill to see him win. To be honest we never dreamt he could improve this much and be this good when we decided to send him up here. "Yes, this is just great for Tasmanian harness racing too. "We haven't had any really smart two-year-olds down there this season until this bloke came along and it's good to see he might be something special." Ignatius With the retirement of Beautide a few weeks ago, the arrival of Ignatius what just what the state . . . and the Rattrays needed. In a fast-run affair Divine State quickly took the front and reinsman Chris Geary showed his intention was to keep them running. He did that with a 26.9s first split and a 28.2 second quarter. But turning for home Divine State was looking almost spent while Sicario and Ignatius were quickly putting themselves into the race. No sooner had Sicario (Mark Purdon) hit the front and Ignatius came at him and quickly put the issue beyond doubt as it was left to outsider Little Peanut to issue a late challenge. After a 29.9s third quarter, they came home in 28.3s to become the state's fastest two-year-old this season. * Earlier in the day owner-breeder Diane Kelly admits she still had to pinch herself when she watched star two-year-old filly Molly Kelly race. "We had so much fun with Frith when she raced, we never dreamt that we'd get another horse as good as Molly Kelly," said Diane as she accepted the trophy for her youngster winning the Breeders Challenge two-year-old fillies' final at Menangle this afternoon. "This is just amazing." Dianne had just watched the full sister to frith blow away a class field to win the Group One for trainer Emma Stewart and champion reinsman Chris Alford. Taken straight to the front by Alford, the master reinsman found he had to stoke the filly up going up the back straight with a few taps with the whip as she looked to relax mid-race, which only allowed a few challengers to suspect they might be a chance. Turning for home Molly Kelly (Four Starzzz Shark) wandered away from the pegs and for an all-too-brief moment it appeared that the Craig Cross-trained and Luke McCarthy driven Love My Sister might sneak up on the pegs and blouse her. Tassini also made a dash out wide but like her sister Frith, Molly Kelly was just keeping them interested as she held them out all the way down the straight to score a three-metre win in 1:55.3. Love My Sister stayed on for second ahead of outsider Tassini and the fast-finishing War Dan Bad Girl, who flashed home when the race was all but decided. Alford later commented that it had always been a long-term goal of his to come up from Victoria and win a Breeders Challenge final. "Thanks to Di and Bernie Kelly, I've been able to do that today. I'm so glad they send this horse down to Emma [Stewart] and Clayton [Tonkin] to train. "They are the best owners and hopefully our association will continue for many years to come." Molly Kelly Amanda Zammit  

Harness racing owner-breeder Mal Beal admitted four-year-old gelding Rock Of America had been something of a problem horse a few times over the past 18 months or so. But all that was forgotten when the son of Rock N Roll Heaven finished powerfully to win today's Breeders Challenge four-year-old colts and geldings final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. A patient drive by star reinsman Greg Sugars, saw Rock Of America finish all over the top of a quality field of rivals to win the Group One by a head from outsider Left Tenant (Brendan Barnes) with pacemaker Power Of Red hanging on for third in a 1:51.4 mile rate. Trainer Mick Doltoff said Rock Of America had caused them a few headaches. "But we've had a bit of luck in these Breeders Challenge races and barrier 11 seems to be lucky for us too," said Doltoff. "This horse has plenty of heart and he showed that today with a marvellous win." Disappointment of the race was the well-backed Fouroeight, which failed to run on in the straight and finished just behind the placegetters. Rock Of America * EARLIER improving mare Eye See Diamonds (Rock N Roll Heaven) caused something of a minor upset when she outstayed top mare Heavens Trend to take the four-year-old mares' final of the NSW Breeders Challenge. Taken straight to the front from the outside of the front line, trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull quickly made her intentions clear with a slick 26.6s first quarter of the mile as she looked to retain the inside running for the rest of the race. That left Heavens Trend to work hard before eventually settling outside the leader as Turnbull and Eye See Diamonds backed off the speed slightly with a 29.5 second split of the mile. But that was as easy as it got for both ace mares as they singled out from the rest of the field turning for home and settled down to tight out the race the length of the long Menangle straight. Heavens Trend may have got her nose slightly in front but in a finish that even the caller couldn't pick, Eye See Diamonds fought back beautifully to score by a nose in a 1:52.1 mile. The final two quarters were both put away in 28 seconds neat while it was left to Hot Shot Woman to emerge from the distantly chasing pack to grab third, just ahead of Abettorrose, who enjoyed a soft run four back on the pegs before motoring home late in the piece. Turnbull later gave her training partner Nathan Jack and their families the credit for their success. "Really without them, none of this would be possible," she said. "And the owners of Eye See Diamonds, Rosemary and Terry Cluse have stuck with us through thick and thin and have been fantastic supporters. And that all helps so much." Eye See Diamonds Amanda Zammit

He's been hailed as the next Lazarus . . . and the greatest three-year-old pacer in Australasia. And this afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle Vincent proved just that as he cruised to an Australasian record 1:50.2 mile win in the Breeders Challenge final for harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings. The Art Major-Kept For Pleasure colt gave Mark Purdon his lone Group One for the day when he beat a plucky Atomic Red with outsider Joes Star Of Mia third. Some suspected Vincent might be vulnerable after he had to pull out all stops to hold off Pretty Hot and Jakes Sportswriter in his Breeders Challenge semi-final the previous week, when he rated 1:51 to score by just a metre with Luke McCarthy in the bike. Yet Purdon admitted Vincent needed that run and would be improved out of sight for the $153,000 final against some of the best three-year-olds in the land. As usual, he was right as Vincent showed he would easily fit into the big pair of shoes that Lazarus currently fills for Purdon's All Stars New Zealand stable. He easily ran down pacemaker Atomic Red in the straight to win almost untouched after splits of 26.2, 29s, 27.6s, 27.4s for a 1:50.2 mile rate, breaking stablemate Our Waikiki Beach's record of 1:50.6 posted early last year. So impressive was Vincent both in appearance and talent that this three-year-old already looks to be Purdon's next New Zealand Cup winner . . . after Lazarus steps down from the podium, of course. Vincent * Earlier the three-year-old fillies' Breeders Challenge final saw another minor upset, of sorts . . . albeit a historic one when Georges Plans [Bathurst] trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt broke through for his first Group One success when Royal Story scored. The draw told the story of the race when Royal Story (Always A Virgin) was quick to find the front from gate four and defied all attempts to run her down. Once again it was the two second-row runners Don't Think Twice and Shezallapples that had to do it tough if they were to beat Royal Story, who was well found in the betting as the $5 second favourite. "We'd never send our horses anywhere else," said owner Gary Meredith. "We call Royal Story 'Big Girl' around the stables but this is actually our 20th win with them as owners and we couldn't be happier with the way we've been treated." Hewitt was naturally ecstatic with his breakthrough win. "We put a lot of work into working with juveniles and to come here and win a race like this makes it all worthwhile," he said. "But just to be able to train and drive a filly likes this is a great thrill and today she showed us how good she is. "A lot of people in our stable can take some of the credit for this - mostly my wife Cathy who holds us all together and makes wins like this all the more worthwhile." Don't Think Twice had to do it tough from the second row and failed by a mere half-head from running down Royal Story after racing three-wide earlier in the race as young trainer-driver Jason Grimson sought to put him into the action. In contrast, last year's two-year-old fillies' winner Shezallapples settled near last and, similar to 2016, came with a flashing finish 1.4m away in third place in a 1:53 mile rate. Royal Story Amanda Zammit

Mark Purdon will head to Menangle’s huge meeting on Sunday in unfamiliar territory. Most times the champion trainer is expected to dominate, but on Sunday it is more hopeful than confident of success with either of his two Group 1 runners. And that’s saying something when one of them is Australasia’s best three-year-old, Vincent, in the $153,000 Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final (1609m). “I wish he’d drawn a lot better and the race was 2300m instead of a mile,” Purdon said. “The combination of drawing outside the back (gate 14) over a mile means he is going to need to do something great to win. “Atomic Red is a really nice horse, he showed that winning a heat of the NSW Derby, and if he rolls to the front from (gate) four, he’s going to take some running down, especially from where we’re drawn.” As big as Vincent’s challenge is, he is capable of something special. “He has the superstar factor. He could be our next stable star,” Purdon said. Vincent looks skinny odds at $1.40 on the Aussie TAB, while Atomic Red has been backed from $4 into $3.40. Purdon’s other Menangle runner is the talented juvenile Sicario, who faces a big challenge from gate eight in a strong 2YO colts and geldings final of the Breeders Challenge. The race changed complexion when Shane Tritton’s Divine State slipped into the field as first emergency when stablemate Lynnsanity succumbed to a health issue. Divine State (gate seven) has been backed from $3.50 into $2.80, while Sicario is still favourite, but has eased from $1.70 to $2.50. Exciting Tasmanian youngster Ignatius (three) is a $2.90 chance. “If he drew two, you’d say he’s the one to beat, but the way the draws have fallen, he’ll need to pull out something special to win it,” Purdon said. “He’s a really nice two-year-old, but he’s not out of the bag. He’s not a superstar like say Waikiki Beach was at the same time.” After Menangle on Sunday, Purdon heads further north for the Queensland Carnival where More The Better and Partyon will fly the stable flag. In other stable news, Purdon said it was unlikely he would have a runner in the Victoria Cup now it had been moved to October 14 and slashed from a $400,000 to $200,000 purse. “Lazarus definitely won’t be in it. The only chance we’d have a runner is if we wanted to split horses and perhaps send of the our horses outside of the big guns across,” he said. “The race just seems to be in no man’s land now and there’s not many other big races around it.” Purdon confirmed Lazarus and Heavens Rock would not leave NZ before the NZ Cup. Beyond that, Lazarus is most likely to tackle the Perth Inter Dominion, while the Miracle Mile has been circled for Heaven Rocks. “There’s a long way to go, but Lazarus is the one we’d take to Perth. I’ve learnt from taking Smolda last year. Lazarus certainly wouldn’t mind the four races in a fortnight,” Purdon said. Adam Hamilton

The barrier draw has only added to the intrigue of Sunday’s $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle. In an extraordinary coincidence, all the big guns have drawn poorly making it look more like a preferential rather than random barrier draw. David Aiken’s superstar pair Hectorjayjay (gate nine) and Lennytheshark (10) have drawn the outside front row barriers, but they will come into seven and eight respectively in the two emergencies (Lord Zin Zan 6 and Spare Me Days 7) don’t gain starts. Tiger Tara, who beat Lennytheshark in the Golden Mile then ran a huge second to Hectorjayjay last Saturday night, will start from four-out on the back row (gate 14). Even classy Kiwi pacer My Field Marshall drew awkwardly inside the back row (gate 11). The Aussie TAB opened defending champion Hectorjayjay, who is renowned for his early brilliance and could cross to the lead should he try from the wide draw, as the $2.10 favourite. The question for the Hectorjayjay team is whether they want to risk a repeat of the Miracle Mile where he burned off the gate in a record 24.8sec split and simply used too much petrol to keep going. He weakened late to run fifth. Lennytheshark, who is due to trial at Menangle today (Tuesday), is the $2.30 second elect, while Tiger Tara is a $6 shot. The winners from the draw were tough veteran Ultimate Art (gate one), classy Victorian speedster Major Crocker (four) and last-start Golden Mile runner-up Mach Doro (five). The Allstars barn has runners in two of the NSW Breeders Challenge finals on the day and had mixed luck in the barrier draws. Superstar three-year-old Vincent, who had a close shave in his semi-final last week, is still a commanding $1.40 favourite from the worst possible draw (gate 14) in his final. And Sicario, despite leading and being rundown when second in his semi, is a $1.70 favourite from barrier eight in his final. He will start from six if the emergencies don’t get starts and should work to the front. Adam Hamilton

Fans have been dished-up an unexpected treat at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto telegraphed early his plans to back-up Tiger Tara, but the twist in the race came when David Aiken opted to run Hectorjayjay as well. So, just eight days before the Group 1 Len Smith Mile, we get a mini preview with two of Australia’s best pacers locking horns in the Family Dun Day Sunday Pace (2300m). As impressive as Tiger Tara was storming home off a slow pace to beat Lennytheshark and others in last week’s Golden Mile, all the early money is for Hectorjayjay to beat him on Saturday. Amazingly, Hectorjayjay was smashed from $1.60 into $1.45 and then again in $1.35 within minutes of the Aussie TAB opening its fixed odds market. Tiger Tara has eased from $2.60 to $3. Both will start from the back row, but Hectorjayjay looks to be drawn better starting from two-out on the back as he can potentially through better and settle in front of Tiger Tara. Tiger Tara has the inside back row (gate 11) and follows out rank outsider Demolition Dave, meaning driver Todd McCarthy will surely snag and look to get straight away from the inside into the running line. It means he will settle near last. Against that, Tiger Tara’s great strength is his stamina and the stretch from last week’s 1609m to 2300m plays to his favour. The glamour pair are classes above their rivals and it promises to be a fascinating race of tactics and an ideal “teaser” to the best Len Smith Mile in recent memory. Saturday night’s Menangle card also features semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge for three and four-year-olds. By far the biggest name stepping-out in them is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who is a $1.04 favourite from gate four in the second of the three-year-old colts and geldings division. Luke McCarthy is down to take the drive. Another highlight of the card is the Group 3 Frith Stakes (1609m) where the key players are Cyclone Kate (gate 14), Rocker Band (12) and Miss Riviera Belle (five). Kiwi mare Rocker Band has moved from Craig Demmler’s Victorian stable to Mark Jones’ Menangle satellite stable and Ashlee Grives is down for the drive on Saturday night. Rocker Band and Cyclone Kate share $3.40 favourite in the Aussie TAB’s early fixed odds market. Adam Hamilton

Talented Tasmanian two-year-old harness racing pacer Ignatius powered his way into the rich New South Wales Breeders Challenge final with a resounding win in a semi-final over 1609 metres at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The Todd Rattray-trained youngster scraped into the semi-final and drew gate four from which he was able to find the front with the trainer's brother James Rattray in the sulky. The odds-on favourite Sicario ($1.40) from the Mark Purdon stable, drew the outside gate and was forced to work three-wide early but with cover before circumnavigating the field to eventually take control. Sicario sped clear and was being hailed the winner at the top of the home stretch but when Rattray eased Ignatius out of the slipstream to challenge the gelded son of Roll With Joe claimed the favourite and forged clear over the concluding stages to win by 2-1/2 metres with Squire a distant third. Ignatius clocked a mile rate of 1.52.6 and ran home his last 800 metres in 55.7 which were personal best times for the gelding. There are big raps on Sicario which added more credence to the Tasmanian's win. "I knew he would improve on his run in the heat because he didn't handle the trip from Tassie to NSW all that well," Todd Rattray said. "In this race latest race he showed good gate speed but James (Rattray) had to use him up early to find the front so he did the right thing by taking hold and handing up the lead to the favourite. "I was very impressed with how my horse finished the race off because he was really strong and was drawing away from the field on the line." Ignatius has drawn barrier three in the $125,000 final to be run at Menangle on June 25. "Drawing gate three in the final is a real bonus because he's probably got enough gate speed to lead and if that happens James can decide whether to hand up if the right horse lands outside him or keep the lead and make it staying test." "I am certain my horse will continue to improve with racing so he should be even better in the final." Ignatius is owned and raced by Todd Rattray's life partner Lyrae Graham who selected the horse from a group of weanlings in a paddock at the trainer's family property at Longford over a year ago. While Rattray is thrilled with the efforts of Ignatius in Sydney he also was impressed with the performance of Izaha that won his heat of the Dandy Patch Stakes in Hobart last Sunday night. Izaha could not have made a more impressive debut coming from last in the small field of seven to win easily to suggest he will be the testing material in the $40,000 final on Friday week. "I expected Izaha to do what he did in the Dandy Patch heat because he's been a very promising pacer from day one and I don't think there is much between him and Ignatius." Peter Staples

Plans remain on track for giant pacer Ultimate Art. Prepared at Ellalong by Mick Formosa, the popular pacer was scheduled to trial last night (Wednesday) at his home track of Newcastle before persistent rain forced harness racing officials to abandon the session. It wasn’t the news that Formosa wanted to hear. Ultimate Art is being readied for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday, June 25 before returning to Brisbane for the winter carnival. “I really needed him to trial last night because he needs a few runs to bring him up to speed, it wasn’t to be and we will head back to the trials next week. I was hoping to have two trials under his belt before the Len Smith Mile followed by Brisbane.” Formosa said. Last season, the Modern Art entire enjoyed tremendous success at Albion Park winning 9 of his 14 starts which included 8 in succession. He finished 4th behind Hectorjayjay in the Sunshine Sprint while he ran 3rd behind Ohoka Punter in the Blacks A Fake, his two targets again during his northern campaign. Ultimate Art was under the care of Formosa’s good friends, Shannon Price and Scott Miller. “He had a great stint up there last year and Shannon and Scott did a wonderful job, it was great ride for us and provided so many thrills. Hopefully we can experience something like that again this year. “I’m really happy with the way he’s performed this campaign and he’s continued to train on well since his last start in the Newcastle Mile, I really wanted to win that race but we couldn’t peg back Bettor Bet Black. “The carnival looks like it will be really solid but he won’t be far away again, if we have any luck we’ll certainly take our chance.” At his most recent start, Ultimate Art was beaten a half neck margin behind Bettor Bet Black in a time of 1:53.1 on May 6. Ultimate Art has won 32 of his 85 starts while banking more than $500,000 in stakes. Chris Barsby

Top Aussie trainer David Aiken is bracing himself for a hectic next month. And it could still include a raid on the Harness Jewels with his classy four-year-old mare Rockstar Angel. Throw in the fact his two stable stars Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay are close to racing again and there is plenty on Aiken’s plate. First, let’s get the very latest on Rockstar Angel and what hope she is on contesting the depleted 4YO Diamond at the Jewels? “I had a long talk with Brendan (James, owner) this morning and there’s definitely a chance she will head across,” Aiken said. “We had a bit of a minor setback with her, but she seems really well again now. “It comes down to this. She’s fast-working this Saturday then there is a race for her at Menangle on Saturday week. “It’s possible, if she runs really well at Menangle, then the flight leaves from Sydney to Auckland on the Monday after that race.” Aiken is leaving the final decision to James. But with Golden Goddess out and Piccadilly Princess seemingly racing below her best, it will surely be tempting to put Rockstar Angel on the plane. Now Aiken’s other “rockstars”, Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. “Hectorjayjay is set to go. I thought about given him two runs before the Len Smith (June 25), but I’ve settled on a trial and one race,” Aiken said. “At this stage he’ll trial not this weekend, but next and then he race in the Young Pedro free-for-all at Melton on June 9. I like that two week gap from there into the Len Smith.” Lennytheshark is also set to have just the one lead-up run before the Len Smith. “He’ll run in the Golden Mile at Menangle, which is the night after Hectorjayjay runs in the Young Pedro,” Aiken said. Beyond the Len Smith Mile, Aiken said it was “90 per cent” likely both Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay would head to Queensland for the Group 1 winter double in the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake. “You can’t keep them apart forever. The Len Smith and the two big races in Queensland suit both horses so we’re happy to run them against each other,” Aiken said.   Adam Hamilton

Fouroeight, the horse named in memory of champion cricketer Phil Hughes, added more runs to the board with a harness racing career-best performance in a C3/C4 Menangle Country Series heat at Group One Feeds Paceway on Wednesday. The Mat Rue-trained and driven four-year-old took full advantage of a favourable barrier three to lead throughout, keeping the tempo brisk with a 59-seconds first half then quickening markedly over the last half in 55.9 seconds, for a 1:54.4 mile rate. His third quarter of 27.7 seconds, reminiscent of a Hughes quick single, kept the chasing pack at bay as they turned for home but he was made to earn the win as Swaggie Shannon came off his back late to flash home for the closest of seconds. "That's the fastest he's ever gone in winning, which is quite surprising because he 's really not a leader, he is actually much better with a trail," commented Rue after the win. And is he capable of picking up one of those lucrative Menangle finals? "Absolutely, if he gets a decent draw and races close enough to the lead, he's capable of winning, and in very quick time as well," his trainer added. The earlier C1-class Club Menangle Where Horses Fly heat also resulted in an all-the-way win, for the Amanda Turnbull-trained My Bettor Bella NZ, the mare stopping the clock at 1:55.1 after maintaining a strong speed throughout. This was the first leg of a driving double for Turnbull, who backed up with Written In Style in a C5- backed conditioned event, using the sprint lane to reel in leader Haka Shannon, who had to be content with the runner-up possie for the third time running. Amanda Turnbull admits it's taken her a while to warm to the Bathurst sprint lane. She says she was impatient previously, bustling her horses as soon as she got into it, but now she makes sure they're balanced up before she really goes for them. Her success rate via the lane this season indicates she's learned that lesson well. Mitchell Turnbull and Robbie Morris also collected driving doubles at Wednesday 's meeting. Cherry Mahoney, all the way in a C1 conditioned sprint with a last half in 56.7 seconds, and Hidden Courage, which finished strongly from mid-field in a 3YO sprint, supplied Mitchell with his wins. Together with Amanda's victory on Written In Style, they gave Steve Turnbull a treble to further increase his runaway lead in the Bathurst trainers premiership. The Robbie Morris double, both trained by his partner Kerryann Turner, was achieved with Smokey Quartz in the fast-class, coming hard along the sprint lane to grab leader Karloo Kix, with a scintillating final quarter in 27.2 seconds, and with debutant Ritchie Bee, which raced behind the leader in the 2YO final event, and finished well to hold off another first starter in Peat Green. This was also a double for the owner, Dorro Nominees, and Robbie Morris was keen to acknowledge the strong support given to the stable by John Dorrington. Machgower was the other winner at the meeting, the Dennis Picker-trained and driven three-year-old finishing a little too strongly for leader Star Play in C0 class, giving him three wins for the term and making up for two recent seconds at the track. Runners in the second race, the conditioned class taken out by Cherry Mahoney, wore black armbands to mark the passing earlier in the week of popular Bathurst horseman Ian Mutton, whose life will be celebrated at Group One Feeds Paceway next Tuesday. Ian trained and drove many good horses in a long and successful career but will be remembered most of all as a smiling, engaging character who always had a joke,or three, to share with everyone. He will be missed by everyone, especially racetrack interviewers who could always depend on him for interesting and forthright commentary. by Terry Neil

ANONIMITY is a thing of the past for Ange McDowall.  The dairy farming hobby horse trainer and her brilliant, unbeaten juvenile pacer Lumineer are the talk of the sport.   Lumineer’s effortlessly easy win in last night’s $322,000 Group 1 Australian Gold final has opened all sorts of doors for McDowall  …. Including an invite to the Harness Jewels at Ashburton.  HRNZ’s Darrin Williams spoke with a slightly-overwhelmed McDowall this morning and confirmed the Jewels invite.  “We would love a special horse like Lumineer to come for the Jewels,” he said. “He could be the first Aussie-trained Jewels winner.    “Ange seemed thrilled to get a call with an invite to the Jewels. She’s taking the horse back from Sydney to Victoria tomorrow (Monday), will see how he is when he gets home and discuss (the Jewels) with the owners.  “He’s not in the Vicbred series, only the NSW Breeders Challenge. The Jewels would fit perfectly if they skipped the Breeders Challenge and set him for the Breeders Crown.   “I’d expect to hear back with Ange’s decision in the next week or so.”  The proactive Aussie TAB quickly added Lumineer to the Jewels market as a $4.50 shot.  Lumineer made it five wins from as many starts when he speared straight to the front from gate six and settled beautifully in front for young gun driver Jason Lee – McDowall’s second cousin – to steady through a soft 31.9sec second split.  The race was effectively over then, especially with the main danger, Mark Purdon’s Sicario back at the rear and spotting the leader at least 30m start at the half mile.  Lumineer quickened slightly for a 28.7sec third split, but knowing the easy run he’d had, Lee went for home at the top of the long Menangle straight.  The son of Sportswriter zipped home in 26.6sec and looked to win with plenty in reserve by eight metres over Stefsbest with another 3.2m away to Jilliby Lorenzo in third spot. It was a Victorian trifecta.  They ran the mile in 1min54.4sec.  Sicario, unbeaten in his previous three runs, never looked a winning chance when he got so far back in a leader-dominated race. He closed strongly late to finish fourth, almost 16m from the winner.  McDowall said she was always content in the run.  “You never get too confident, but Jason told me thought the horse would fly out and lead. He was right. Then, once he got that easy second quarter I thought he’d be very hard to rundown,” she said.  “We stayed up here (at the Menangle track) for the week between the semi and final and he’s thrived. I think the trip away has been really good for him.  “He’s come through it really. I’ve got a big bruise on the side of my knee to show that … he lashed out and kicked me this morning.”  McDowall praised Lee’s drive.  “He’s so relaxed and has so much confidence in the horse. He knew he’d had an easy in run in front, which is why we he went for home as early as he did,” she said.  And what about that big victory salute?  “We had a big group of family and friends up for the race and Jason said he heard them cheering and thought he should give them something back,” McDowall said.    Adam Hamilton

Boom harness racing youngster Lumineer will be given a light week before connections make a decision on his next major target. Fresh from his demolition of last night’s $300,000 Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Lumineer is resting in New South Wales today before embarking on the long trip back to trainer Ange McDowall’s Victorian property. Once home the two-year-old will enjoy an easy time to recover from his triumphant campaign. “He is having today off before we head home, where he will have a pretty easy week,” McDowall said. “He is not the kind of horse you can put in a paddock to rest as he is always on the go, but he won’t do much this week. “When we are home I will see how he settles down and go from there.” With the son of Sportswriter eligible for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge in June, a return trip across the Murray River is a likely scenario. Lumineer is also eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown at Melton in August. “I won’t be making any plans until after we are home and settled,” McDowall said. “At this stage I’m not ruling anything out, but I’m not pencilling anything in either.” As for his latest win, Lumineer led throughout from the pole to account for Stefsbest and Jilliby Lorenzo in 1:54.4 over a mile with Jason Lee holding the reins. “I was nervous and stressed before the race as it’s a big thing for me and my family,” McDowall said. “It was the first time we’ve had a horse in a Group One and you just don’t know how things are going to turn out. “It’s a wonderful feeling to win such a big race, but it’s back down to earth cleaning out boxes this morning.” A $30,000 purchase at the Melbourne APG Sale, Lumineer is owned by the McDowall family under the BLG Racing Group, which consists of the trainer’s parents Brian and Louise and their Girls – six daughters! Unbeaten from five starts, the colt boasts a bankroll of $177,980.  

The Black and White army is hunting gold this weekend. Grant Dixon, the country’s leading harness racing trainer with 183 winners to date, is represented by Colt Thirty One in the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final for colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Twenty-four hours earlier, the Dixon trained Fame Assured starts in the APG Fillies semi-final at TABCORP Park, Melton. And with a large representation from his home base in Brisbane across the weekend, it’s all hands on deck. But this is nothing unusual for the major stable. “It’s going to be a hectic weekend, we’ve got plenty of runners starting locally while having two runners competing interstate makes it a little more busier than normal but hopefully we can have some luck.” Dixon said. The leading horseman will remain in Brisbane and drive at Albion Park tomorrow (Friday) before flying south the following day to partner Colt Thirty One in the Sydney feature. Colt Thirty One qualified for the final following his unlucky effort last week in the semi-final when 5th behind boom Victorian colt Lumineer in a scorching time of 1:52.5. “I was really happy with his effort last week, he traveled down well and settled in well while he didn’t have much go right for him over the final stages. I went for an inside run and ended up locking wheels which certainly hampered him, the winner was in no danger but we should’ve run a place. “It’s a really strong final and the semi-final winners look outstanding, we’ll need some luck but I think he can feature if the breaks go his way.” Colt Thirty One has drawn gate four. Miracle Mile winning reinsman Mat Rue will take the drive on Fame Assured in Melbourne. Fame Assured, a winner of her only start in the Albion Park heat on April 18 will start from gate eight, the inside of the second-line and thus providing Rue with options. The Mach Three filly rated 1:57.7 winning on debut. “We’ve decided to give this trip a go and hopefully she can force her way into the final, I liked her win and she’s continued to improve since. “The draw is fair and hopefully Mat can get some breaks going his way, the Victorian fillies look hard to beat.” Both Colt Thirty One and Fame Assured are raced by their breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour. Dixon has 10 runners competing at Albion Park tomorrow while he has 11 runners on Saturday night. Classy four-year-olds Frankie Rocks and Leos Best start in the $15,000 Rising Stars Championship Final following their heat victories earlier this week. Dixon’s wife Trista will partner Leos Best while Mark Dux takes the drive behind Frankie Rocks. Both pacers are being aimed at the upcoming Brisbane winter carnival features. Chris Barsby

Angela McDowell's flying two-year-old colt Lumineer can't be beaten in Saturday night's harness racing $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. That's the verdict of Trots Media's Cody Winnell, who sprouted confidence in the unbeaten Sportswriter colt during last night's Trots On Tuesday radio segment on SEN 1116AM. "I'd put a line through all of them, they are not getting anywhere near Lumineer," Winnell said. "There was absolute daylight between Lumineer and the rest of the field and there is no way any of those runners are turning the tables on Lumineer in the final. "And if you take a line back through that Higherthananeagle heat (when Lumineer sat outside and beat him), I don't see anything from the other semi-final going anywhere near him. It will go around, it will win easily, because it's the best two-year-old I've seen for a while." Listen in to Winnell and Michael Howard's podcast, which can be heard from about 11pm every Tuesday on SEN 1116AM. Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017

A dairy farmer from Victoria’s remote western districts looms as the biggest hurdle to the rampaging All Stars’ barn winning another major Australian race. In one of the sport’s most enchanting stories for many years, hobby trainer Ange McDowall as unearthed the most exciting of juvenile pacers in Lumineer. Although Ange herself is playing things down – we’ll tell your more about why that is later – the rest of the Aussie harness community is buzzing about the talent Lumineer has displayed in his four wins from as many starts so far. The latest of those came when he led throughout to win seemingly in second gear in a 1min52.5sec mile in his semi-final of the rich Australian Gold series at Menangle last Saturday night. While many horses can get a little lost around the huge 1400m track at Menangle the first time, Lumineer whizzed around it, sight unseen, as though it was his own backyard. He reeled-off splits of 27.3, 30.0, 28.0 and 27.2sec with young gun driver Jason Lee sitting against him. It compared to the 1min54.3sec the All Stars’ latest gun juvenile, Sicario, posted winning the second semi. Albeit he sat parked and also looked as though he could’ve gone much quicker. He will need to against Lumineer in this Saturday night’s final. Lumineer’s first sign of being something special came at his third start when, in a heat of the Australian Gold, he sat parked outside Fly Like An Eagle’s brother, Higherthananeagle, and lifted after looking beaten to win in a sizzling 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1720m around Melton. For McDowall the exciting signs were there a lot earlier, but she’s been scarred bad luck with the other two best horses she’s had and still wants to keep a lid on things. Well, as much as she can. “We’re a dairy farming family on a property about 20mins from Warrnambool, but we also dabble in the horses. We’ve got three at the moment and although I’m the training, it’s a family thing. My sisters Clare and Theresa help out a lot. As do Mum (Louise) and Dad (Brian),” she said. “The time we spend with the horses we probably should be spending on the cows, but all love the horses as well.” The McDowalls thought they had found a really serious horse in 2015 when Hellbewright won two of his first three starts. “He looked really promising, but he needed to have an operation and died of complications with the anaesthetic,” Ange recalled. “We’ve had our share of bad luck, that’s for sure.” More bad luck came last year when their improving pacer Masterofthurles succumbed to a career-ending injury. “He went from a C1 to C6 in one campaign which gave us a thill,” Ange said. “With the history we’ve had, you can see why the first thing I do each morning is pop into Lumineer’s box just to make sure he’s OK and has eaten-up, etc.” Part of his training routine is regular trips to the popular Lady Bay beach in Warrnambool – where so many of champion thoroughbred trainer Darren Weir’s horses are trained. “He loves it. I see all the gallopers in there. You can swim the horses around off the back of row boats,” Ange said. It’s helped quickly mature Lumineer from a raw talent to quite the pro. “It’s happened pretty quickly. I remember his first trial when Jason (Lee, driver) really had his hands full. The horse went left, went right and was so green,” Ange said. Lee was an easy choice as driver, not just because he’s such a prodigious talent, but he’s also part of the family, literally. Lee’s grandmother was Alice McDowall before marrying into the Craven family. So Jason is Ange’s second cousin. McDowall remembers “falling for” Lumineer when first saw him a video ahead of the Australian Gold sales. “He had real presence as I watched him and being out of a Rocknroll Hanover mare was another big plus. I was thrilled when we got him for $30,000, which is about mid-range I guess,” she said. There has been a lot of speculation about big offers for Lumineer, but McDowall wanted to set the record straight. “I’m bloody annoyed actually. We haven’t knocked-back any big offers, despite what you might have read,” she said. “There haven’t been any genuine offers we have even considered. “That’s not to say he’s not for sale. We’re not like that, we would consider a genuine offer, but for now we’re just looking ahead to the week and hoping he can keep going the way he is and stay sound.” McDowall opted to stay on-course at the Menangle stables between the semi and this week’s final. “It’s hard to replicate the training set-up we have at home because it’s quite different, especially with the time he spends at the beach, but there is an aqua walker here and he does seem to have settled in really well,” she said. Adam Hamilton

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