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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

Not even a wide draw has prevented the All Stars’ latest buzz juvenile Sicario from dominating betting in his Australian Gold semi-final at Menangle on Saturday night. The son of Somebeachsomewhere was so impressive winning his Gold heat at Menangle on April 11, the Aussie TAB has him $1.55 to overcome gate seven and some quality opposition in his semi. Sicario, owned by Victorians Bill and Jean Feiss, headed straight to Sydney after winning his first start at Invercargill on April 2. His main danger in the semi clearly looks to be David Aiken’s exciting youngster Higherthananeagle (gate one), who is ironically a brother to Purdon’s former star Fly Like An Eagle. Higherthananeagle, who has raced three times for a win and two seconds, is a $3.60 shot from the pole. He led and was amazingly run down late by Lumineer in a scorching 1.53.8 mile rate in a 1720m heat of the Gold at Melton on April 7. The Angela McDowall-trained Lumineer is a $1.40 shot to win the first of the semis from gate one with young gun Jason Lee to drive. Purdon is chasing his fourth win in a Gold 2YO final following Mr Nickel in 2011, Follow The Stars in 2014 and Our Waikiki Beach in 2015. Interestingly, Purdon has only driven one of them (Follow The Stars) himself. Natalie Rasmussen drove Our Waikiki Beach, while Greg Sugars had the reins on Mr Nickel. In other Menangle news, former Kiwi star Tiger Tara’s planned race for Saturday was scrapped, meaning he will go straight into the $50,000 Group Two Bulli Cup at the same track on Saturday week. It sets the scene for a probable and mouthwatering showdown with Miracle Mile winner Lennytheshark. Lennytheshark was freshened after winning the Group Two Kilmore Cup on March 18, but grabbed the eye with a late surging second to Allblack Stride in a Menangle trial on Tuesday. Lennytheshark’s stablemate, Hectorjayjay, is also close to a racetrack return. He is also set to join the mix for the Group One Len Smith at Menangle in June followed by the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake during the Queensland Winter Carnival.   Adam Hamilton

With her famous sibling enjoying a spell, Fiore Stride grabbed the opportunity to bask in the harness racing spotlight at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. By Art Major from Under The Mattress, the filly is a half-sister to Inter Dominion champion Smolda. Bred in Victoria, Smolda was purchased by clients of Mark Purdon through the Australian Pacing Gold Sales – the manner in which Fiore Stride was bought before heading to trainer Craig Cross. That sequence led to Fiore Stride capturing a heat of the APG race series, where she ironically beat a member of the Purdon stable! Driven by ace reinsman Luke McCarthy, Fiore Stride enjoyed the run of the race in the one-one before dashing to a two-and-a-half metre win from Just Makemine Diamonds, with Black Silhouette six metres away third. “She’s a lovely filly, which is getting better all the time,” Cross said. “We weren’t overly confident of beating Mark’s filly, which was a $1.10 favourite, but it worked out in our favour. “She’s got her share of high speed and will continue to improve as she gains experience. “She won’t do much between now and her semi-final, just be kept ticking along at home.” With the final 800 metres run in 56.7 seconds, the two-year-old covered the mile in 1:55.1, with her time four-tenths of a second slower than Callmequeenbee in the following qualifier. Trained and driven by Mat Rue, the daughter of Shadow Play caused a minor upset when accounting for Prophesy and Art Treasure. Further north, well-bred youngster Fame Assured finished along the sprint lane to annex her APG heat for trainer-driver Grant Dixon. Rating 1:57.7 for the 1660-metre trip, the daughter Mach Three scored from Bronski Mackenzie and Darby Brights. by APG Media

Popular harness racing horsewoman KerryAnn Turner hopes today’s trip to Tabcorp Park Menangle is the first step towards the ideal engagement present. Celebrating her birthday last week, Turner’s gifts included a ring from her partner Robbie Morris, which resulted in a firm “YES”! “I was pretty spoiled for my birthday, but the proposal topped it off,” Turner said. As for the first step towards the ideal engagement present, Turner is set to contest a pair of Australian Pacing Gold heats in a bid to qualify for the rich $322,000 Final at Melton on May 6. “That certainly would be a great engagement gift,” Turner said. “With a bit of luck we can get through the series and have a chance at the Final.” Promising filly Pacific Cullen will kick-start Turner’s quest when she takes her position in the first heat. To be driven by Morris, the daughter of Christian Cullen has drawn to search for the lead from barrier three. Pacific Cullen has two wins and a third from four starts, while being retired from the race during the other outing as a result of broken gear. “She is a very nice filly, which has only done what she’s had to so far,” Turner said. “She is such a relaxed type, which just gets the job done. “She trialled last week, which was a good solid hit out, and she is in top order for her heat.” Redbank Addi will then take her position in the second qualifier, with Turner stating the daughter of Rock N Roll Hanover needs luck in the run. The two-year-old has also drawn three, but slots into two due to a scratching. “She’s been working great, but just hasn’t had a lot of luck in her races,” Turner said. “She was a bit disappointing in the Bathurst Tiara, but has been doing well since. “If luck goes her way she will be in the finish.” by APG Media

Impressive youngster Colt Thirty One remains unbeaten. And punched his ticket for a trip south to Sydney to chase the $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold series, the harness racing final is scheduled for April 29 at Tabcorp Park, Menangle. The Grant Dixon prepared rookie sat without cover to claim the Brisbane heat of the series at Albion Park last night (Tuesday) defeating his stablemate Ark Patrol and Lucky Unlucky in a time of 1:59.2. In a race that developed into a sprint home, the last quarter was timed in 27.8 seconds. Unfortunately, the race was robbed of interest with race favourite Maywyns Courage taking no competitive part following a break in the score-up. Colt Thirty One is two for two following his debut victory at Albion Park on February 21. “He’s a nice horse with a good attitude and I was really pleased with his effort, sitting parked and then sprinting a fast last section was very good.” Dixon said. The Mach Three – Charm Personified colt was the clear favourite for the Wayne Wilson Paleface Adios Classic on March 4 before his scratching. The half-brother to Charming Allie (18 wins - $266k) had a minor issue with his hock. “His hock was up but he wasn’t lame and I wasn’t prepared to risk him for that race so I just backed off on him for a while there and now he’s back to full health. His winning trial last week in readiness for this assignment was very good and gave me good confidence. “He relaxed really well outside the leader and quickened nicely when I asked for a little more passing the 400m marker and felt strong through the line. “I’ve always rated him from an early stage and so far, so good but it’s only going to get harder going forward. It looks a very strong series judging by the results of the Sydney and Melbourne heats.” Melbourne heat winners were Lumineer, Stefsbest and Yankee Roller while the Sydney heat winners included Maximus Red, Be Major Threat and Sicario. Both Lumineer and Sicario have created plenty of interest following their ultra-impressive victories. The semi-finals of the APG are scheduled for April 22. Dixon is no stranger to success in the Australian Pacing Gold Final following his victory with Majestic Mach back in 2012. Both Majestic Mach and Colt Thirty One are bred and raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. Chris Barsby

Field Marshal is due to begin an Australian campaign in the $50,000 Bulli Cup (one mile) at Menangle on April 29. “He is on a flight from Christchurch on April 28. It is not ideal racing the next day but it was the only flight available. I have done it before with horses,” said Tim Butt, his West Melton trainer. “ He (Field Marshal) will then go to the Newcastle Mile and could be in Australia for two or three months.’’ Butt is targeting the $150,000 Breeders Challenge for colts and geldings at Menangle on June 25 with Let It Ride, who has won four of his five starts and finished sixth in the New Zealand Derby. A triple Group One winner in New Zealand as a 4-year-old last season, Field Marshal finished fifth behind Lazarus in a Free-For-All at Addington on March 31 when resuming from a four and a half month break. “We were delighted with his run. We timed him to run his last half in 53,” said owner Syd Brown. Field Marshal raced in Australia at two and three, winning twice at Menangle and once at Yarra Valley. He won the Group Three Simpson Memorial at Menangle  in 1.55.1 and another mile race there in 1.54. He ran 1.53.1 in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge. Syd and Shona Brown and Butt won a race at Rangiora on Sunday with Rocknroll Magic, a 4-year-old half brother by Rocknroll Hanover to Field Marshal. He is the third winner from as many foals to race out of Foreal, who is also the dam of Madiba Magic (1.51.4). Stablemate Lady Chatto appears to have taken no harm from a fall in the Pink Bonnet at Menangle on Saturday. Winner of the Group Three Leonard Memorial at Addington; a heat of the Bathurst Gold Tiara and second in the Final from the Butt stable, she is due to have a quiet trial today (Tuesday) as a prelude to returning to New Zealand later in the day for the $110,000 Caduceus Club Classic in Auckland on April 21. She will trial at Cambridge if a trial tomorrow is ruled out. “She did not even have a graze and ate her supper that night,” said Tom Richardson, her Dunedin owner. “We think she dropped the tongue tie when she got fired up and veered to the inside of the track and went down. “I was watching the race on television with about 100 others at a function in Invercargill and it looked horrific.”   Tayler Strong

Talented harness racing youngster Lifeonthebeach is expected to bounce back to the winners’ circle after tomorrow’s Australian Pacing Gold heat (Tuesday) at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Successful upon debut at the same venue on March 21, Lifeonthebeach then finished second behind boom freshman Castalong Shadow a fortnight ago. This time around the John McCarthy-trained gelding has drawn to lead throughout from the pole, with the champion horseman confident victory is within reach. “He’s got the right barrier to come out on top,” McCarthy said. “He hasn’t been asked to come off the gate yet as he’s been driving quietly, but he does begin quickly. “From that draw we will be looking to go forward and lead, which will make him hard to run down.” Along with the son of Somebeachsomewhere, McCarthy has Golden Year in the second heat and Photozen in the third. “They will both need a bit of luck, especially Photozen against Mark Purdon’s horse, Sicario,” McCarthy. “Hopefully they can do well enough to get through to the next round.” APG Media

Miracle Mile winning harness racing horseman John McCarthy is closing in on training 2000 winners. The Cobbitty based trainer-driver reached 1998 training wins following Cyclone Kate's dominate victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. McCarthy has six horses engaged at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday) and believes if he does not crack the magical 2000 winners then, it will not be long until he reaches the special milestone. "It's a tough day at the races tomorrow," said McCarthy. "I have babies in the first three races and they are always tough races. "Our Mels Dream goes well and so does Lord Zin Zan but he is racing one of Mark Purdon's horses that goes well. "We might get a winner or two, we might not but hopefully within the week we should be able to get a couple of winners. "We'll just keep chipping away until we do . . . it's not a bad effort to notch up a couple of thousand winners in 20 years." McCarthy began training horses in 1985 but it wasn't until more than 10 years later that he began training horses as a profession. "I started training horses professionally when I was 37," said McCarthy. "I always had horses as a hobby but I was a butcher and I didn't have the time and it wasn't until I sold my butcher shop that I started training horses full-time." Based in Bathurst at the time, McCarthy saw a change in the meat industry which was the catalyst for him making the switch to harness racing as a career. "The last butcher shop I had I owned for seven years but I could see the supermarkets taking over," said McCarthy. "People weren't going to the small butcher anymore, they were going to the supermarket because it was convenient . . . we didn't even have an Eftpos machine and the supermarkets did. "I thought this was going to be the way of the future and decided to sell out." Shortly after this McCarthy packed up the truck with his wife Narelle and four children and headed north to Queensland. "When we were at Bathurst, during the winter we would always go to Queensland and campaign horses and we liked the warmer weather," said McCarthy. "When I started training horses professionally a friend of mine suggested that Queensland could be a good place to start as there was an opening up there without too many big trainers. "I thought we'd give it a go and we could always go back to Bathurst if it didn't work out. "At the time we really didn't know what to expect we just went along with it and the kids were all little; Todd was three at the time, Jodie and Andy were in primary school and Luke was just starting high school." Yet, although this later proved to be a winning move for the McCarthy family, it was not easy. "The first couple of years were tough and I bought cheap horses just to get us going," said McCarthy. "The first day we arrived in Queensland I was regretting the move . . . it was Christmas Eve and we had the truck loaded up with furniture and as it we were unloading it was that hot, I thought to myself what have I done! "But we got throughout it, we just kept chipping away and worked hard. "It wasn't until we had Trois Frere that things changed for us. "Trois Frere finished third in an Inter Dominion and we started getting more horses after that and things became easier. "We stayed in Queensland for about 17 years." During these years McCarthy has been associated with some top horses from Trois Frere, Cobbity Classic and Be Good Johnny to I Am Sam, Terrorway, Motu Crusader, Nickys Falcon, Washakie, Monifieth, Blazin N Cullen, Bling It On and Cyclone Kate to name a few. As of today, McCarthy has had 11,477 starters for 1998 wins and 3078 placings, with these results turning over $17,845,308.87 in prizemoney. He has trained winners in feature races such as the Miracle Mile, the A.G. Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup, WA Cup, Cranbourne Cup, the Queensland Pacing Championship, the Treuer Memorial, Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint and the Trans-Tasman. In the sulky McCarthy has had 4294 race drives, for 714 wins and 1067 placings. AMANDA RANDO

An earthquake helped played part in Stuart McDonald’s harness racing career and now the 22-year-old is ready to take New South Wales by storm. The New Zealander has been in Australia for five years and is set to make his mark on the Sydney harness scene. Still currently one of the leading concession drivers in Western Australia having spent five years working in the west, McDonald only arrived in Sydney a couple of months ago but is hoping to make a name for himself here as a freelance driver. “I really want to be a freelance driver here in Sydney and New South Wales,” McDonald said. “I would like to stay here until I at least outdrive my concession claim.” McDonald has been driving for a number of stables since settling into Sydney and has already driven 16 winners since arriving in January. He has a drive at today’s Tabcorp Park Menangle meeting on board the Shane Sanderson Lucia Bromac – a stable he has been driving for of late. “I’m hoping she goes well,” he said. The mare is a former Kiwi, a bit like McDonald himself. “I don’t plan on going back to New Zealand . . . that’s not home for me anymore,” McDonald said. “I left there when I was 16 so for most of my adult life I have been in Australia. “I actually never drove in a race over in New Zealand. “There was an earthquake at my school and because of that we were transferred to another school. “That school would have their classes in the mornings and my school’s classes didn’t start until 1pm so that’s when I started working with horses with Wayne Higgs. “I would work the horses in the morning before I would go to school and it was through Wayne that I started working over in Western Australia with Greg Schofield. “I then worked for Ross Olivieri for three-and-a-half years before heading to Sydney.” After driving for Sydney trainer Kevin Pizzuto during the Perth Inter Dominion series last year, McDonald moved east and spent a stint working for Pizzuto’s stable. For the past two seasons McDonald has been the leading junior driver in Western Australia and ranked amongst the top 10 drivers in that state too. “I love the racing over there, it’s a lot tougher than what it is here with a lot of half mile tracks,” McDonald said. “That’s where I first started driving so it will always be special to me.” AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Victorian pacer Lennytheshark scored a thrilling harness racing victory in last night's (Saturday) Gr.1 $750,000 Ainsworth Gaming Technology Miracle Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle, and the 50th edition of Australasia’s premier speed test. A runner-up last year, Lennytheshark ($5.50) sat without cover in the 1609m contest before holding off Smolda ($10.20) by a half-head margin with race favourite Lazarus ($2.20) a further two metres away in third in a time of 1:49.1. The breakdown was 24.8, 30.3, 28.2 and 25.9 seconds. The time was well outside of the race record set last year by Have Faith In Me at 1:47.5. It was the first victory for Lennytheshark on the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit. The victory was also the first since Smoken Up back in 2010 where the winner of the Miracle Mile has sat without cover – a first over crush! Lennytheshark becomes the 10th pacer to claim the Miracle Mile/Inter Dominion double joining the likes of Beautide, Smooth Satin, Our Sir Vancelot, Westburn Grant, Our Maestro, Village Kid, Preux Chevalier, Young Quinn and Hondo Grattan. It was the 22nd victory in the event by a stallion, the Four Starzzz Shark – Botswana entire becoming the first since the mighty Christian Cullen proved successful back in 1998. And Lennytheshark now becomes the highest earning stallion in the southern hemisphere with earnings of $2,560,890 eclipsing Terror To Love. The overall record belongs to the incomparable Queensland champion Blacks A Fake with $4,575,456. The victory provided both trainer David Aiken and driver Chris Alford with their maiden success in the great race. For Alford, he has now claimed the Australian Grand Slam with victories in the Inter Dominion, Victoria and Hunter Cups and the Miracle Mile. Alford joins Natalie Rasmussen, Chris Lewis, Barry Perkins and Brian Gath as winners of the Big 4! It was his fifth drive in the Miracle Mile following placings previously with Golden Reign (1994 – Chokin), Tailamade Lombo (1998 – Christian Cullen, 2000 – Holmes D G) and Lennytheshark last year when second behind Have Faith In Me. The early burn was set-up by Hectorjayjay who charged across the face the field to lead from the wide draw while Smolda attempted to go with him from his inside draw. The 24.8 opening split is the fastest opening quarter in a Miracle Mile. Hectorjayjay led the way with Lennytheshark parked outside him while Lazarus worked into a one wide trail. As the field hit the half way point, the second quarter was timed in 30.3 seconds. Hectorjayjay continued to lead his stablemate Lennytheshark while the All Stars team of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen lurked dangerously. Smolda was sitting behind Hectorjayjay, Lazarus in the one out, one back trail while Our Waikiki Beach tracked Lazarus. As the field passed the 400m mark, the third quarter was timed in 28.2 with Hectorjayjay still in front while the moves were being made behind him. In the straight, Lennytheshark raced to the front while Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach loomed on his outside and Smolda probed for an inside run. Under the urgings of Alford, Lennytheshark failed to surrender and fought off his rivals. The last 400m timed in 25.9 seconds. “He’s an unbelievable horse.” Alford said. I’m so proud of him and he deserves this victory. “He gets the job done, I wasn’t sure at the 100m or 50m mark but he wouldn’t give in.” Lennytheshark is owned by Kevin Riseley and his son Martin. The final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit takes place in the sunshine state with the running of the $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. The latest points table for the APG Grand Circuit; Lazarus – 240 points Smolda – 185 Bling It On – 165 Lennytheshark – 140 Chris Barsby

A nose cost Lennytheshark victory in last year’s Miracle Mile when Australia’s most popular harness racing pacer was beaten by Have Faith In Me. So that probably made revenge all the more sweeter at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle tonight when Lennytheshark prevailed by that barest possible margin, beating Mark Purdon’s trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach in the $750,000 Group One Ainsworth Miracle Mile . . . the 50th running of the elite invitation-only race. It was an emotional reinsman Chris Alford who returned after ‘Lenny’ broke the magical 1:50 mark, rating 1:49.2 in a fabulous finish that capped off a great night of harness racing before a massive crowd at the south-western Sydney circuit. Alford has run several placings in Miracle Miles with some great horses like Golden Reign and Tailamade Lombo but will be talking about Lennytheshark’s greatness for the rest of his days after a victory that defied the critics. Trainer David Aiken was just as overcome by this horse’s incredible victory. “He’s had his problems this horse and my name may be in the racebook as the trainer but I can tell you this is very much a team effort,” said Aiken. “I’m originally a Sydney boy and I’ve been going to the Miracle Mile since I was eight or nine years old and I never really dreamed I would have a horse good enough to win it. “This horse is just a dream. He’s has leg issues and he had a foot injury in Perth but we’ve continued to swim him and get him right and tonight he showed what he can do. He’s a freak.” Turning for home the crowd was on its feet as four great horses fought it out tooth and nail and despite Purdon’s trio  giving it everything, Lennytheshark refused to yield as he added the Miracle Mile to his Inter Dominion and a string of other great victories. Lennytheshark is by Four Starzzz Shark from the Albert Albert mare Botswana. He is now the richest pacer ever in Australasia with over $2.56 million in the bank. Amanda Zammit  

He is the ultimate professional harness racing reinsman and prolific Victorian winner Chris Alford showed just why when he won the Group One $54,000 Australian Pacing Gold Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park @Club Menangle tonight. Alford quickly found the front with the Nicole Molander-trained Dead Cat Bounce and defied all efforts to run him down in the straight, scoring a 2.6m win over Glenferrie Burn and Uncas, rating an impressive 1:54.1 for the flying mile. As the field swung for home there looked to be challenges coming from near and far but Alford and Dead Cat Bounce held them all at bay to give Victoria another Group One for the night. Just 45 minutes earlier Alford scored one of the biggest wins of his stellar career, taking out the Miracle Mile with Lennytheshark, but rather than rest on his laurels he was back in the bike and drove another fabulous race to add to one of his best nights at Menangle. Not a bad effort when you consider Alford has driven thousands of winners in a stellar career that win earmark him as one of the greats of this sport. The unusually-named Dead Cat Bounce has now won three in succession and gave the former NSW trainer Molander her first Group One trotting success since she lost ace trotter Keystone Del from her stable. Dead Cat Bounce is by the Swedish stallion Revenue from the Straphanger mare Wee Annie. It was her 13th lifetime victory.        

THREE out of three ain't bad . . . Group Ones that is. Only this time the Mark Purdon stable also bagged the Trifecta as well as Vincent, the next superstar of harness racing in this country captured tonight's $200,000 Wards Accounting Group NSW Derby at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle. Vincent beat Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor to give the powerful All Stars stable the first three over the line as they completely monopolised this blue riband event. Vincent (Mark Purdon) found the front fairly easily in a 58.3s lead time over the 2400m only to be pressured by Ultimate Machete (Natalie Rasmussen) and handing up the lead. Turning for home Ultimate Machete found plenty fort Natalie and had the audacity to kick clear despite his hard run but when Mark Purdon found some clear running with Vincent he simply sprouted wings and rated possibly the fastest final quarter ever run at Tabcorp Park Menangle, 25.5s, to score a fairly comfortable win in a 1:54.6 mile rate. Officials later lamented that the mighty Vincent was a mere one-tenth of a second outside of the world record over the 2400m but there will be bigger things and Group One wins in store for Vincent in coming years as he continues to beat the best of them. "This is a very very good horse," was Purdon's simple comment as he returned with Vincent. "He is really something special." Vincent is by Art Major from the Safely Kept mare Kept For Pleasure. He has had 11 starts for 9 wins to date. Anyone who witnessed that Derby win would be happy to agree. Amanda Zammit  

There are few sights more stirring than two great harness racing horses going head-to-head in a battle royale. And that was the case in the Group One $200,000 Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park at Club Menangle tonight when champion pair A Piccadilly Princess (Natalie Rasmussen) and Frith (Luke McCarthy) fought out a thrilling finish to this elite mares’ sprint. At the end A Piccadilly Princess stuck out her nose right on the line to beat the gallant Frith by a nose, with the winner rating 1:50.4 for the mile. Racegoers knew they were in for something special when the pair cleared out from their rivals on the home turn and settled down for a soul-stirring run to the line. Blake Fitzpatrick brought Bettorthenspecial with a strong finish to grab third but all honours were with the first two horses as A Piccadilly Princess’ earnings soared above the half-million dollar mark with her win. “She’s such a terrific little horse, there’s not much of her but she tries her heart out,” said leading reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen who took the reins for the Mark Purdon stables she co-runs with the ace New Zealand mentor. “My horse always gives you everything she’s got but I have to give a lot of credit to Frith as well, she never stopped trying – and they’re two great horses, that’s for sure.” A Piccadilly Princess is by Bettor's Delight from the Holmes Hanover mare Hyde Park Royal. A Piccadilly Princess’ win gave the stable the first two Group Ones of the night after their earlier win in the NSW Oaks with Partyon. . . . and the Purdon express rolled on – with some of their best prospects still to come. Amanda Zammit

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