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Former star pacer Bling It On is launching a comeback. The Hunter Cup winner and one-time juvenile pin-up takes his first official step in a Menangle trial tomorrow (Monday). It comes after a couple of seasons at stud where he has been well-supported by breeders, serving over 200 mares. "I've driven him in fast work and in a couple of private trials around Menangle and he feels as good as he ever has," driver and co-trainer Luke McCarthy told "I'm pretty confident he will make a strong return based on the way his work has been." The now nine-year-old has not raced since finishing ninth at Menangle on June 9, last year. His biggest win came in the 2017 Hunter Cup, which followed a desperately unlucky fourth in the Perth Inter Dominion final two months earlier. McCarthy said the comeback was sparked because Bling It On was "doing too well" during a winter spell and they decided to start jogging him. "He was sound and felt so good, they decided to press on with him and now he is trialling," he said. "If connections thought he couldn't get back to racing at the top level they wouldn't entertain the idea of bringing him back in work but his work has been so strong. "He will keep doing stud work and if we are happy with him on Monday we'll keep going with him." Bling It On's record stands at 86 starts for 45 wins, 20 placings and $1,656,656 in earnings. _______________________________________________________________________________ BUSTER Brady is building nicely. The star former Kiwi stayer had no luck in two runs back from a spell then turned it around with a trademark fighting win in the VHRC Classic at Melton last night. He paced a slick 1min54.3sec for 2240m. Trainer-driver Kima Frenning won the race with an early move around the field from the back row to take the lead from eventual runner-up Cant Refuse. Buster Brady steps back into Victoria's country cup circuit, which he dominated last year, when he runs next in the $70,000 Kilmore Cup on September 27. Then comes the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 12. Another key Melton winner was the regally-bred Soho Hamilton - a brother to Soho Tribeca - who snared his biggest win so far in the $50,000 Group 2 Home Grown Vicbred final. He's won three of five runs and oozes potential for trainer-driver Mick Stanley. _______________________________________________________________________________ IT'S a long way back to the top for former juvenile star Lumineer, but the early signs are good. The son of Sportswriter won his first eight starts for hobby trainer Ange McDowall, including the Group 1 Australian Gold 2YO final, then went amiss after tasting defeat for the first time when sixth in the 2018 Victoria Derby final. He retuned for his first run in almost 20 months with a runaway Terang win last Wednesday night. Lumineer won by 24m in a cosy 2min0.4sec mile rate for 2180m, including closing splits of 56.7 and 28 flat. "It was such a relief he did it with such ease," McDowall said. "And the next morning he was floating around Lady Bay (a beach in Warrnambool) like the race never happened." _______________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN former Kiwi pacer Our Jimmy Johnstone wound back the clock at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The 11-year-old used a gun draw in the pole to lead throughout and easily beat some of WA's best open-class pacers in the $50,0000 Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2536m). It was one of the most rewarding wins for co trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who has nursed the gelding through a fantastic WA career and deep into his twilight. And it was a career-best win for driver Bailey McDonough. "I was pretty nervous before the race and pretty excited after it," McDonough said. "He felt super in the run and at about the 800m I started to get very confident." And the old boy ran some time too, a 1min55.9sec mile rate for the staying trip, closing in 55.6 and 28.1sec. It was Our Jimmy Johnstone's first victory since scoring at Gloucester Park on June 1, last year. It took his record to 118 starts for 28 wins, 43 placings and almost $670,000 in earnings. _______________________________________________________________________________ TEAM Tritton has found another good one. The improving gelding Cocosfella snared the win of the night at Menangle last night. In a hotly contested mile, Cocosfella did most of the work outside the leader and just kept coming in a 1min50.8sec mile in the $30,600 Group 3 Lazarus New Season Gift final.   By Adam Hamilton

Grand Circuit pacer Bling It On is making a racetrack return. Having stood at stud and served close to 200 mares, the nine-year-old stallion will trial at Menangle on Monday. Bling It On feels well enough for a racing return according to regular driver Luke McCarthy. “Yank is back,” said McCarthy. “I’ve driven him in fast work and in a couple of private trials around Menangle and he feels as good as he ever has. “I’m pretty confident he will make a strong return based on the way his work has been.” Bling It On had his last race start on June 9, 2018, in the Group 3 J.D. Watts Memorial and the decision was made to pull the pin on his racing career after he finished ninth. He then spent nine months in the paddock but $1.6million earner had other ideas on paddock life. “He was running around and looked really sound,” said McCarthy. “He is a type that does a little too well in the paddock and was getting a bit on the heavier side so the decision was made to jog him over the winter. “He was sound and felt so good, they decided to press on with him and now he is trialling. “If connections thought he couldn’t get back to racing at the top level they wouldn’t entertain the idea of bringing him back in work but his work has been so strong. “He will keep doing stud work and if we are happy with him on Monday we’ll keep going with him.” Bling It On won the 2017 A.G. Hunter Cup in Victoria and three starts later was involved in a race fall at Albion Park and sustained injuries that was then thought to be career ending. After extensive rehabilitation, the son of American Ideal returned to the races five months later and won his first three starts back, including his 1:50.8 career best performance at Menangle. He placed in his three starts after that, however, finished out of the money in his last three starts. In his time away from the racetrack he has sustained a stud career with his oldest progeny now yearlings.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Formidable young Riverina harness racing team Blake Jones and Ellen Bartley are already setting their sights higher-despite taking home a swag of seasonal trophies for 2018-19. "We probably did okay and there were a few memorable nice milestones along the way," Jones said. "Ellen trained her 100th winner in her career and we had a few city winners, including So Kool Master who won at Menangle at 30/1," he said. The bay gelding So Kool Master (Passmaster Hanover-Set To Shine (Fake Left) proved too good for his rivals at Menangle's final meeting for the season on August 31 with victory in the $20,400 Australume Pace. And while 2018-19 was undoubtedly a successful year, Jones and Bartley have wasted no time in kicking off the new season with a double at Wagga Wagga's Riverina Paceway. Hunza Valley (Betterthancheddar-Havana Franco (Christian Cullen) and Mammals Prince (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mammals Rocket (Pacific Rocket) both scored impressive wins at the opening meeting. The young couple is based at Coleambally, and although there's no local track, there's a strong program of Riverina racing at Wagga Wagga, Leeton, Young and Albury. "Where we live is terrific for being able to race in both States. If we happen to come across a horse that's good enough, we can race at either Menangle or Melton because it's around a six-hour drive to either one," Jones said. Jones scored a back-to-back win in the leading driver premiership at Albury. He was also the top driver at Wagga and these two titles helped him in taking the Riverina Reinsmen's Crown, judged on performances at tracks across the affiliated clubs. "I finished with 86 wins, which was a bit down on the previous season when I drove 108 winners in the Riverina and another eleven in Victoria," Jones said (his 2017-18 tally was a district record). "I try and compete at most of the meetings around here. It's a two-and-a-half hour trip to Wagga, but I didn't miss too many. It's awesome with the new 1000 metre track," he said. "Apart from our own team, which is always near eight to 10, I get drives from a lot of other stables. You certainly appreciate and need this support." Jones has been driving for 12 years after honing his skills with the help of his grandfather Joe Painting. "When I was still at High School I would be around at his place nearly every night. He only trained a few as a hobby, but I learnt so much," Jones said. Bartley, who has been training for only five seasons, combines stable duties with an Equine Sports Therapist business. She is often seen in the Riverina as well as surrounding areas such as the Victorian Goulburn Valley working as a massage therapist. Other Albury seasonal awards were announced at a special presentation night recently. Premier trainer was Hellen Scott, a former leading Melbourne basketballer in the 80s, who enjoyed another stellar season at the racetrack. Equal runners-up were Ellen Bartley and Lyn Hancock. Hellen Scott, Trainer of the Year                                    (photo courtesy Cobram HRC) Horse of the Year was Bater House, a grand campaigner for the McPherson family. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

THE spotlight is suddenly on superstar pacer Tiger Tara for the wrong reason. After the most magnificent of seasons last term, the mighty horse’s past two Menangle runs have been well below his best. You could make some arguments for his second Islandspecialmajor last week, albeit he did have a good run and the whole home straight to run that vastly inferior horse down. But he looked a shadow of himself beating just one rival home in last night’s Group 3 Vic Frost Cup over a mile at Menangle. Tiger Tara was ninth, almost 17m behind the impressive winner The Blacks Prince in a 1min51sec mile. Sure it’s just turned Spring and the big races a long way off, but now Tiger Tara has turned nine years old, every defeat will spark scrutiny. One thing for sure, trainer Kevin Pizzuto will have issues finding suitable races because just about every Menangle free-for-all is a preferential draw and most are over a mile. Both those factors really hurt Tiger Tara. You should never write-off a champion, but there will be plenty watching and wondering when he steps out next time. And he will need to improve enormously to justify a trip to NZ for the Cup and/or Auckland Inter Dominion. The winner, The Black Prince, certainly deserves a mention after posting some explosive sectional times without winning of late. And the story around him was even better given his driver, Tom Ison, only posted his first Menangle win 90 minutes earlier aboard The Black Prince’s stablemate, Pitch Perfect. ___________________________________________________________________________________ TOUGH Monarch has been threatening to this. And last night he did do it, blow away a good field and smash the clock. Just a week after a powerhouse win in a 2760m standing-start race, Tough Monarch showed fantastic gate speed to lead and win the Group 3 Maori’s Idol Trotters’ free-for-all at Melton. He ran splits of the last mile in 28 flat, 29.4, 28.3 and 29.7sec. His 1min54.4sec mile rate was just 0.7sec outside the track record. The record is held  by former great Keystone Del, set back on March 12, 2016. Reigning Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley had to do the work outside Tough Monarch in those blazing times and wilted to finish 25m from the winner in sixth spot. Trainer Rickie Alchin took on last year’s Melbourne Inter Dominion with high hopes for Tough Monarch, but he was still a work in progress. Now he looks close to the complete package. Given his form this season, especially those past two wins, he will surely tackle the Auckland Inter Dominion and make his presence felt. ______________________________________________________________________________________ STABLE star Tornado Valley ran well below his best at Melton last night, but Andy and Kate Gath still jagged a feature with Star Of Memphis in The Gammalite. In a race of cat-and-mouse tactics from back in the field, Kate Gath showed great poise to wait and swoop late with the Norm Jenkin-owned gelding. He snatched a head win over Franco Tristan in a 1min56sec mile rate for 2240m. Gath made it a double when she teamed with her father, trainer Peter Thompson, to win the seventh race with big and improving trotter Ymbro Wasted. “He’s gone to another level this time in work. He won that really well after coming three-wide without cover after the leaders didn’t go very hard,” Gath said. Another female to star on the night was Kima Frenning, who spoke highly of Kiwi import Raptors Delight after he won yet again. The gelding won just five of 34 Kiwi runs, but is now unbeaten in six starts since crossing the Tasman to join David Aiken’s stable. “He’s a lovely horse. He had to burn early and was crossed, but then relaxed well behind the leader and really sprinted quickly again when the sprint lane run came. He did it so well,” Frenning said. The mile rate was a sharp 1min53.7sec for 1720m. ______________________________________________________________________________________ IT took a few runs, but the class of former North American mare Blue Moon Stride is starting to shine through. The Emilio Rosati-owned mare won over $1.2 million in the US before being flown across to join Noel Daley’s barn in Sydney. She’s been posting some eye-catching sectional times and broke through for her first Down Under win in fine style and a quick 1min52.3sec mile last night (Saturday). ______________________________________________________________________________________ THE rise and rise of WA’s most-improved pacer Our Corelli continues. For the second time in as many weeks, the Debbie Lewis-trained gelding toyed with his rivals to win the free-for-all, albeit after using the pole draw to lead and dictate. Our Corelli has won seven of his 10 starts since switching to Lewis’ stable. With the future of Chicago Bull in limbo and Soho Tribeca under such a cloud, the door is open for an emerging horse like Our Corelli to be a major player in the Fremantle and WA Cups in January. ______________________________________________________________________________________ NSW husband-and-wife Robbie and KerryAnn Morris are lethal when they raid Queensland. And the strike rate continued when they won the first three races at Albion Park last night with Squire, Pembrooks Passion and Prophesy. Morris made it a quartet of wins with pick-up drive Mister Hart for trainer Melissa Kendall in the last race. “We usually pop-up here with a team during the Carnivals, but had a batch of horses better suited to this time of year,” Robbie Morris said.   by Adam Hamilton

HAVING ended her debut season on a high, La La Bron will attempt to begin the new term the same way. Breaking her maiden status in Saturday night’s Australian Pacing Gold Championship at Tabcorp Park Menangle, La La Bron will return to the same venue tomorrow. With the filly sent across the Murray River for the Group Two, trainer Sonya Mahar figured the programming was ripe for La La Bron to “stay a few extra days”. “Her main aim was the APG, but there was a suitable race for her on Tuesday so I figured she may as well stay a few extra days for that,” Mahar said. “She waited until the last minute to get her win as a two-year-old, but hopefully she can get her three-year-old win straight away. “Plus she is eligible for the New South Wales bonus at three as well, which will make it a very nice trip. “The APG Championship was a good time to break her maiden.” Driven by Luke McCarthy, La La Bron began quickly from the pole but was unable to hold out Tingringi and Operative Anna which crossed to the pegs, with the latter finding the lead. Enjoying a favourable trail two-back along the pegs, La La Bron gained a saloon passage along the inside to score by a metre from Tingringi, with Operative Anna a metre-and-a-half away third. Scoring at her 11th start, having run four seconds and a third, the daughter of Art Major covered the mile in 1:55.6. As for her pending assignment, La La Bron has drawn barrier five which has seen her installed a $2.75 favourite. “She kept getting better as the season went on and hopefully can take that into her next run,” Mahar said. “After that she will come home and have a spell. From what she has shown she should get better with experience and maturity.”   APG Media

CHAMPION driver Chris Alford just keeps racking-up the milestones. The latest came last Friday night when No City Chick’s Bendigo win taking him to a mind-blowing 7000 career wins. “I'm having a great run. It doesn’t seem that long ago I reached 6000 wins,” he said. “I’ve got so much great support from owners and trainers.” Alford, 51, now surely ranks up with all the greatest drivers we’ve had in this part of the world. “It’s been another big season and I’ve got some nice horses to look forward to in the new season as well, especially Be Happy Mach, who is the equal of any two-year-old I’ve driven.” ** ** ** ** TIGER Tara was beaten at his own game in a massive upset at Menangle last night. In a rare sight, the Inter Dominion champion was simply outstayed by the much-improved Islandspecialmajor, a $26 outsider for trainer-driver Jason Grimson. Tiger Tara burned early with main danger Joes Star Of Mia, then sat behind that horse, while the former Victorian pacer Islandspecialmajor sat parked and dug deep to fend-off the favourite, who had the whole straight to run him down. They went a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2300m. No doubt Tiger Tara isn’t fully wound-up with his major targets still a long way off, but he has just turned nine and any defeats like last night will raise queries over whether he is still as good. ** ** ** ** THE winning streak is now seven. Buzz former Kiwi pacer Balraj thrashed his rivals again at Menangle last Tuesday, just days after it was reported connections had turned down a $500,000 offer. Balraj won races at Forbury on February 21 and March 7 and was then sold to Australia where he’s won five on end. His past four Aussie wins have been by an aggregate of 128.4 metres. Last Tuesday he was led and was driven more conservatively by Robbie Morris, but still roared clear to win by 24.4m in a 1min51.9sec mile. He ran home in 54.2sec, but it was the 25.6sec last quarter which set tongues wagging this time. “You’ve got to have more string to your bow, so I wanted to drive him more conservatively and just let him sprint home. I was really pleased with the way he settled for, then he was electric when I said go and just took off,” Morris said. “He’s learning with every run and looks exceptional. “He’s having a let-up now, maybe a month off, and then it’s back to target the Chariots Of Fire.” ** ** ** ** A TRIP down to Melbourne paid dividends with one of Australia’s best trotters last night. Rickie Alchin’s classy stayer Tough Monarch was simply too good for his rivals despite a 10m handicap and doing most of the work in the Group 3 Coulter Crown (2760m). The son of former star Kiwi mare Tussle enjoyed another strong season, mostly racing against the best company, for six wins and five placings from 20 starts. He’s now earned almost $180,000 and looks to still be on the improve. ** ** ** ** IT was a winning reunion for Kima Frenning and one of her favourite pacers at Melton last night. Frenning was back aboard Wrappers Delight for the first time this campaign and then duly saluted despite a back row draw in the My Lightning Blue free-for-all. “He’s been such a great horse to me and I’d love to drive him all the time, but it’s hard now I train Buster Brady and they clash a bit,” Frenning said. Wrappers Delight finished strongly to win in a scorching 1min51.sec mile rate for 1720m, just 0.4sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record. ** ** ** ** TRAINER Debbie Lewis has certainly unlocked the key to Our Corelli. The Bettor's Delight gelding built a solid record in Justin Prentice’s stable, but has gone to a whole new level since switching to Lewis’ care in June. Nine runs for Lewis have netted six wins, a second and a tag as one of WA’s most exciting open-class pacers. The buzz grew last Friday at Gloucester Park when Chris Lewis used gate one to lead and gave nothing else a chance in blistering times to win the free-for-all. The 1720m mile rate was a scorching 1min52.7sec, just 1.1sec outside of Chicago Bull’s track record. ** ** ** ** BREEDERS Crown champ Be Happy Mach is a look in for Aussie 2YO of the Year. But the depth behind him paves the way for some mouth-watering Derby clashes in this new season. Jilliby Nitro is a star and hopefully recovers from injury in time for races like the Victoria and NSW Derbys. And there’s the late juvenile season find, NSW-trained Expensive Ego. The son of Rocknroll Heaven stretched his unbeaten record to six races for trainer David Thorn when he easily won another feature, the Group 2 Australian Gold NSW final, at Menangle last night. It followed a pair of Group 1 wins in Queensland. Expensive Ego matched his Menangle mile personal best with a 1min52.9sec dash last night.   Adam Hamilton

Much-loved Sydney harness racing icon Harry Martin will celebrate his 79th birthday shortly, but he has the drive and energy of a man half his years. "Yes I can say that I'm still as enthusiastic as ever. I'm still up and about between 5 and 5.30am - a routine I've had forever," Harry said with a laugh. Martin, who's trained out of Menangle Park for over 60 years has a team of four in his stable at the moment. And two of these have certainly hit a purple patch of form in recent weeks. Half-brothers in Double Encounter and Double Bliss are both in line for a hat-trick of wins following two victories apiece this month, with in-form reinsman David Morris at the helm. Double Encounter (Village Jasper-Lombo La Shelly (Pacific Fella) took out the $22,400 Seppelt One Mile Drive Pace on August 3, then a fortnight later claimed the Group Three $30,600 Campbelltown Catholic Club Pace, both at Menangle. "He is a very nice horse who can sprint quickly," Martin said. "He's now a winner of 15 races, 10 of these at Menangle, and is nearing $150,000 in stakemoney so he has been very good for his owners." Double Bliss (Blissfull Hall-Lombo La Shelly (Pacific Fella) is a lightly raced chestnut gelding with six wins and 12 placings from only 27 career starts. The pacer has been successful at his latest outings at Bankstown on August 9 and then six days later at Penrith. Martin said while he preferred to race at Menangle, he also enjoyed competing at other tracks near Sydney. And while he's currently enjoying another nice run of success, it would be unforgivable to write a story and not wind back the clock to the spine-tingling days of the champion pacer that made Harry Martin a household name. Double Identity (Embrace Me-Mercy Lyn (Southern Gentleman), who raced from August, 1999 to October 2006, had a rockstar-like cult following in that era, with fans embracing the gelding for his dogmatic will-to-win. "Gee I'd love to have one like him again-it probably won't ever happen, but I'll keep looking and hoping. I won't ever give up," he said. Double Identity had his first two dozen starts for trainer Colin Grimson, who won nine races with him. When Grimson decided to move to the country, the owners offered the gelding to Martin. The pacer took Martin on the ride of a lifetime during one particular campaign when he won eight of 10, culminating in the rich Group Two Winter Cup at Brisbane's Albion Park. But the gifted, gritty pacer wasn't without his challenges. "He was a chronic knee-knocker. I was never able to get him off his knee completely, and the old plastic-type knee boots that were around back then would be totally destroyed in about two or three weeks - he would just put a hole in them," Martin said. "But by using spreaders, and I would pull them up really tight, I was able to reduce the impact and get it as good as I could." The astute horseman, who remarkably still shoes all his horses to this day, found a square-toed aluminum shoe the best for Double Identity. The inimitable Double Identity driven by Harry Martin in his heyday   --Gary Wild photo With scalps in the Gold Coast Cup and the Queensland Pacing Championship, along with a close second in the Newcastle Mile, the target then became the 2002 Miracle Mile at Harold Park. In a brilliant display and aged 62 years, Martin would, at the time, become the oldest driver to win the feature race. He lobbed in the one-one from the wide six alley, pulled three wide on the home turn and held off a late run by Smooth Satin to win by half a head. Further wins came in the SA Cup at Globe Derby, a second Queensland Pacing Championship and a comfortable Truer Memorial victory. Then came success in the Victoria Cup - a win Martin believes was the finest ever recorded by Double Identity during his sensational career. "I remember I'd given up going down the back for the last time. They kept the speed on and I was struggling," he said. But the mighty horse dug deep from the 600metre mark and overhauled some classy rivals to post a winning time of 1.58-2 for the 2570m trip. The combination won another nine races to take his lifetime record to an amazing 51 wins and 39 placings from 146 starts and more than $1.2 million in stakes. Martin said after being retired, the life of Double Identity came to a sad end. "He was 10 years old and hit a corner post in a paddock. He wasn't in a good way and suffered a heart attack later," Martin said. Although Double Identity was clearly Martin's best-ever horse, he is rarely without a handy conveyance or two in the stable. "Double Event has been one of the nicer ones lately. He's just recently retired (after 17 wins and $188,000 in stakes) and he's landed on his feet. He's taken to riding under saddle really well, so that's always good to see," Martin said, with obvious pleasure. But the search goes on for another Double Identity, and if there's one within reach of wily veteran trainer Harry Martin, he'll unearth it. And he's got some faith in a rising two-year-old by Heston Blue Chip, purchased at the sales this year. "We keep looking! While you are keen and willing, you never think about stopping. That's the way I look at it anyway. Besides I don't know anything else - horses have been my life."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Balraj crossed the ditch without much fanfare, but it hasn’t taken long for him to become one off the buzz horses of Australia. The lightly-raced Art Major three-year-old is unbeaten in four Aussie starts and made one heck of a statement scoring at his first Menangle run yesterday (Tuesday). Balraj won by 22.4m, but it was his time which did most of the talking. The gelding’s 1min49.1sec mile was an Australasian record for a three-year-old, slicing 0.5sec off Muscle Factory’s record. Just as he did winning by what seemed the length of the home straight at Newcastle a few weeks ago, driver Robbie Morris crushed his rivals with a 26.1sec split from the 800-400m.  It’s the second time in as many starts the Shaun Simiana-trained pacer has smashed a record. His 1min50.9sec mile win at Newcastle two starts back on July 15 was an all-aged record for the track which has hosted some off the sport’s greats in the Newcastle Mile. Balraj raced just five times in NZ for trainer Steven McRae, missing a place in first three runs then showing a glimpse of his potential winning back-to-back Forbury Park races on February 21 and March 7. He was sold to Australia soon after and won his Aussie debut at Penrith by 7.1m on June 6. Since then he’s won by 25.7m at Newcastle on June 14, 55.9m again at Newcastle on July 15 and now Menangle by 22.4m   Adam Hamilton

TWO things firmly stamped Tiger Tara as the horse to beat in next Saturday night’s $250,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park.  First was his ultra-impressive winning return at Menangle last night (Saturday).  And second was the upset win of veteran Ohoka Punter in last night’s (Saturday) Group 1 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park.  No disrespect to Ohoka Punter, but the fact he beat boom stablemate Colt Thirty One and others will surely have put a spring in the step of Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto.  Colt Thirty One was crunched into $1.45 favourite, but had to blaze a 26sec opening quarter to hold the front from Alta Orlando and was always some query after that for a horse who hasn’t be used off the gate much.  Trainer-driver Grant Dixon slowed a dawdling 32sec second split, but it was evident at the top of the straight Colt Thirty One had a battle on his hands and the four-year-old was unable to hold-out his rising 10-year-old stablemate along the sprint lane.  It was a Dixon and owner Kevin Seymour quinella, but not in the order punters wanted.  Ohoka Punter snatched a 1.3m win with young driver Paul Diebert aboard in a cosy 1min53.2sec mile rate, well outside Im Themightyquinn’s 1min50.4sec race and track record.  It was by the far the biggest win for Diebert, who moved from NSW to work for Dixon just before last Christmas.  “It’s unbelievable. Kevin (Seymour) was at me all week saying this old horse would run a great race,” Diebert said.  The much-travelled Ohoka Punter will be chasing his second Blacks A Fake win next week, having won it when trained and driven by Nathan Purdon.  But Tiger Tara looms ominously after pacing a 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m first-up at Menangle.  “He ran home in 54.8 and 27.1 and Todd (McCarthy, driver) was stoked,” Pizzuto said. “He did it so well and now it’s off to Queensland.  “I’m not sure exactly when I’ll take him up, but his last workout will be here so it’ll be later in the week.”  It was Tiger Tara’s first run since finishing fifth in the Miracle Mile more than four months ago.   Adam Hamilton

CONNECTIONS of Australian Pacing Gold purchase Black Silhouette are thrilled she decided to break her Group One pattern at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. Racing against the best of her crop since her debut season, Black Silhouette had contested three top shelf events leading up to the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge Final. On each of those occasions the Sam Dimarco-trained pacer finished seventh! Black Silhouette was also seventh in last term’s Group Two Bathurst Gold Bracelet. Thanks to performance in the $100,000 decider, the daughter of Shadow Play has “finally” become a ‘black type’ mare. “She finally broke through for us,” Dimarco said. “She has been very consistent all her career and made her way into a few Finals but hasn’t had much luck once there. “This time she got a good trip off the speed and stuck her head out at the right time. “She was only grabbed on the line in her semi and now this time she’s grabbed the win on the line.” Driven masterfully by Todd McCarthy, Black Silhouette was pushed forward to find the lead from barrier eight before being eased to take a trail behind the favourite, Goodtime Heaven. Gaining an opening halfway along the home straight, the four-year-old reclaimed the front in the last stride to score by a half-neck from Goodtime Heaven. Rocknroll Pearl completed an APG trifecta when four metres away third in 1:51. “She had been very bright within herself since her last run two weeks ago and I knew she was ready to run a good race,” Dimarco said. “I expected her to be in the finish with the right run and that’s just what she got. “This morning she is running around with tail in the air, has been eating, and seems pretty good within herself. “I will see how she is over the next few days before making a decision, but if she comes through the run well enough I will keep her going and give her a few runs at Menangle before she has a break.” Cranky around the stable can bite you and has an attitude – upsets everyone around the stable – when race as good as her you don’t care Ricki bought her and was getting her going and we liked her so bought him from her as Marissa likes the Shadow Plays   APG Media

It takes a special horse to win a Breeders Challenge final. And it takes a harness racing superstar to win three in successive years. Not that anyone would argue that former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius is anything but a superstar after the son of Roll With Joe won the NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO colts and geldings final at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Ignatius has now won well over $400,000 in prizemoney since the Rattray stable moved the horse to be stabled with James Rattray in the NSW Southern Highlands. And the lion's share of that has been won through the prestigious Breeders Challenge series. Amazingly, Ignatius will now be eligible to make an even-more historic move by chasing a five-year-olds Breeders Challenge feature, also worth $100,000 and due to be run in the Riverina next season. "It's been a tough week, so this is a nice way to end it," said Ignatius trainer-driver James Rattray after the four-year-old 'out-toughed' his rivals to wear down Bright Energy, with Sicario third in a slick 1:51.6. "The semi-final was a tough run for him (Ignatius finished third to Summit Special and Bright Energy which was enough to make the final). "But he came through it OK and it's on to Qld now - and we're looking forward to that." The race looked to be between the 'big three' a long way from home after Bright Energy led, Sicario raced up to take the death chair, before handing up that position to Ignatius. It then became a war of attrition as Ignatius and Bright Energy cut at each other for most of the race and turning for home the might 'Iggy' stuck his big head out and refused to buckle, scoring by a head with six and a quarter metres to Sicario, who just couldn't get into the finish.     Ignatius Meanwhile the $100,000 four-year-old mares Breeders Challenge final was taken out by the Sam Dimarco-trained Black Silhouette after another masterly drive by Len Smith Mile winner Todd McCarthy. Fired up out of the gate, Black Silhouette found the front before McCarthy elected to take a trail on Goodtime Heaven (Glen Craven). Turning for home Todd got busy and extricated Black Silhouette from behind the leader to wear down Goodtime Heaven in the straight to score by a half neck in a fast 1:51 mile. Rocknroll Pearl was third a further three and three-quarter metres back. Owned by former HRNSW director Marissa Dimarco, Black Silhouette took her earnings past the $150,000 mark in scoring her 12th win from just 46 starts.     Black Silhouette Sean Vella

Harness racing ace reinsman Brad Hewitt scored one of the biggest wins of his career when outsider Rockin Marty stunned the favourites with success in this afternoon's $150,000 Breeders Challenge for 3YO colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of American sire Pet Rock rated a slashing 1:50.8 to hold off the desperately unlucky Lochinvar Art (David Moran) by a head with Hardhitter (Luke McCarthy) three-metres back in third place. While Lochinvar Art may have been the hard-luck story of the race, it was a welcome change of fortunes for Rockin Marty, who has been running strong races without being able to break through during the heats and semis of this elite series. It was an emotional moment for Hewitt as he accepted the trophy: "Mum and Dad have been in this industry their whole lives and to qualify two horses for this final and then to go out and win it was truly something special," he said. "This is just unbelievable. "To win a race like this is a dream come true."   Rockin Marty The earlier fillies' final was also an exciting finale to that division of the Breeders Challenge. Indeed if you mention Breeders Challenge, the name Luke McCarthy usually rates a mention. The former Bathurst reinsman has an amazing record in these feature races, and he was at it again today when he scored his second Group 1 win of the afternoon, scoring with No Win No Feed in the $150,000 3YO fillies Breeders Challenge final. No Win No Feed, a Group I winner at Bathurst earlier this season, put the writing on the wall that she was returning to her best form with a slick third to Keayang Liberty at Menangle last week in the semi-finals. And No Win No Feed's trainer Craig Cross was quietly confident he had the filly back to her best for the $150,000 final at Menangle today. Taken back out of the mobile, McCarthy gave the A Rock N Roll Dance filly plenty of time to find her feet and then gained a saloon passage into the action with a three-wide trail up before working to the death seat outside of leader and race favourite Keayang Liberty. With a slick third split of 27.2s, No Win No Feed put paid to the favourite turning for home before holding off a late-charge from Road To Mecca with the plucky little filly Myra Dawn a strong third.   No Win No Feed "You never get tired of winning Breeders Challenge races," grinned Luke's wife Belinda McCarthy as Luke rushed to drive in the next feature while trainer Craig Cross was busy in the car park changing a flat tyre on their float.   Sean Vella    

Seldom does a sixth placing mean so much. Yet a well-beaten sixth at Menangle today was just enough points to secure the 2019 Harness Racing New South Wales Rising Stars Series for Menangle-based reinsman Josh Gallagher. Gallagher's sixth with Muscle Mach was just enough to hold off Maitland reinsman Jake Hughes and take the series. The race was taken out by Thatswhatisaid (Jack Callaghan), beating Santannas Rocket and Rocking in a race marred by a three-horse fall that ended any hopes three drivers, Sean Grayling, McKayler Barnes and Jordan Seary had of ending the series on a winning note. Gallagher knows Tabcorp Park Menangle better than anyone as he works fulltime for the KerryAnn and Robert Morris stable, just outside the front gates of the track, so seldom does a day go by when he's not spotted working a horse there. "Winning this series was really something special," said Gallagher. "I've watched the drivers in other series and something like this can really help your career. "I drove a handy horse today in Argyle Beach, who went 1:52 and raced really well to win the first of today's two heats. "Hopefully I'll get a few more offers of some good drives out of this. "Long-term I'd like to train a couple myself but I have met a lot of good people this week and gone to some areas I've never visited before. "I landed three winners this week so that can only help my career in the long-term. "But it has been a week I'll always remember and I have made a lot of new friends of out of it as well." Going into the final two races today, the series was well and truly up for grabs and after Gallagher scored in the opening race, it came down to a race in two between he and Jake Hughes. But the best Hughes could manage in the final race of the series was fifth, while Gallagher was right behind him in sixth, to take the title. Sean Vella

Passionate and successful harness racing owner Kevin Gordon is enjoying the ride of his life at the moment - a journey that started many years ago with a $200 outlay! Gordon, of Warners Bay, a suburb of Newcastle, will be chasing Group One honors on Sunday at Menangle with his talented youngster Lochinvar Art (Modern Art USA-Ponder In Paris (Ponder USA) in the $150,000 Vincent Alabar NSW Breeders Championship Final for colts and geldings. "He's a nice little horse, with a touch of class. And he doesn't have any vices which is a good thing," Gordon said. "We've drawn the number one alley for the first time in his career, so we'll be prominent. But it will be exciting because there are some outstanding horses in the event." At a purchase price of $29,000 at the yearling sales, Lochinvar Art is proving to be a dream buy. His incredible record now stands at 22 starts for 12 wins and 10 minor placings for a staggering $253,580 in stakemoney. Prepared at Kialla, near Shepparton by up-and-coming young trainers Laura Crossland and her partner David Moran, the three-year-old colt has never been unplaced in his two seasons of racing. "I'm enjoying every minute of having horses with them. They are hard workers and do a really good job. We buy a yearling every year from the sales and I just leave it to David to make the call on which one," Gordon said. "We have a two-year-old in Lochinvar Fire that looks a likely type with two starts for one placing and a Captaintreacherous yearling we have high hopes for." Prior to his Breeders Championship campaign, Lochinvar Art put together four consecutive wins, including a heat and final of the $104,000 Bathurst Gold Chalice, giving the popular owner his first Group One success in the sport. Lochinvar Art finished runner-up in his Breeders semi last Saturday - but was so brave he lost no admirers. After pressing forward from barrier seven, Moran angled into the one-out and two-back slot, albeit third last. At the halfway mark he made a three-wide move to put his charge into the race, whizzing around to be outside the leader, Hardhitter (Luke McCarthy), the eventual winner. The mile rate was a brisk 1.51-4 with a scorching 26.6 up the home straight. Gordon owns Multicam Routing Systems, a national business he founded 32 years ago and still laughs about how he got into harness racing in the late 1970s. "My wife-to-be Leonie was at a boarding school at Lochinvar, about half an hour out of Newcastle," he said. "A foal was born across the road from the school and later on, the two of us decided to buy it. We paid $200! "It was our first-ever pacer and raced as Lochinvar Girl. She went on to be a top mare and won 15 races at Harold Park including the Australia Day Cup. And that was the start of the Lochinvar prefix in our horses and greyhounds." Over the years, apart from Lochinvar Art, Gordon has also raced Lochinvar Fille (10 wins, 15 places), Lochinvar Delight (8 wins, 8 places), Lochinvar Hugo (now racing in SA: 15 wins, 6 places) and Lochinvar Sun (2 wins, 3 places). Gordon said he had received some decent offers to buy Lochinvar Art. "I had to knock them back because I'm at the stage of my life now where we get the most excitement out of seeing him race. "We'd rather have him because our four daughters in Emma, Heather, Clare and Karla and their extended families are big supporters of harness racing, so it's a lot of fun. "I bought them a filly for Christmas. She's named Gordon Girl and has had one win and three placings. She ran fourth last start and is also prepared by Laura." Gordon said his association with the Crossland-Moran team kicked off a few years ago after he was advised to send former Kiwi pacer Smo to them. "We had the horse with Sydney trainer John Binskin and won a couple of races with him. But he developed a few problems and John suggested he may recapture his form on country Victorian tracks. "I was quite impressed with Laura and David, and I think they won six races with Smo before we moved him over to the west. I know Smo became Laura's favorite horse at the time." On the greyhound scene, among the standouts have been Lochinvar Marlow, who provided Gordon with a Group One Paws of Thunder triumph. The dog finished with three Group wins, $300,000 in stakes and later proved a sensation at stud. "We probably breed between 50 and 60 greyhounds each year," he said. Gordon is also well-known through high-profile roles in greyhound racing. His contributions have included in 2016 being a vocal and pro-active representative on a steering committee that fought successfully to overturn a decision by then-Premier Mike Baird to ban the sport. But Gordon's attention this weekend will be squarely on Menangle, for the Breeders Championship Final. "We'll all be there, the girls and all of the extended family - we wouldn't miss it. Lochinvar Art's given us some fantastic memories already, and we're excited to be there and see what he can do," he said. "After that, if he's still going as well as he is now, we'll probably be looking at the Queensland Derby."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Talented four-year-old Summit Special, who was bred, raised and sold by Yirribee Pacing Stud, hoisted the fastest time of the night - 1:50.7 - when he overwhelmed his harness racing rivals in a $25,000 semi-final of the NSW Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Saturday night (June 22). Starting from the No. 5 gate, the gelding was third last at the end of the opening 800 in 54.3. Following a 28.3 third stanza Summit Special was tipped three deep and closed with a 28.1 final fraction to down the highly fancied Ignatius by 3.7 metres. The win sent his stake earnings over the $50,000 mark. Summit Special will contest the Group 1 $100,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Menangle on Sunday afternoon (June 30). Summit Special is the fifth foal and third winner of Classic Counsel NZ (by In The Pocket), who is also the dam of the prolific Menangle and Albion Park victor Floyd Mayweather 1:53 ($326,492). Since producing Summit Special in 2014, Classic Counsel has left the three-year-old Im Rock Solid (6 placings) and a weanling filly by Warrawee Needy and is carrying a positive test to him. Meanwhile, another Yirribee sired and bred, Untythehood (Robin Hood-Aunty Jean), saluted for the eighth time overall and fifth time this season at Wagga on Friday (June 21). The five-year-old gelding rated a career-best 1:58.9 over 2270 metres. Yirribee Pacing Stud will this season offer an imposing roster of stallions in the Kiwi superstar Lazarus, former world record holder Warrawee Needy, Tintin In America, sire of the America's No. ranked racemare Shartin NZ, and the North America Cup and Adios winner Fear The Dragon.   Peter Wharton

Brandy Hill harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco believes a class-based draw will help put Black Silhouette in the mix for the group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final after her close second in semi-finals at Menangle on Saturday night. Black Silhouette led from gate eight in a 26.7-second first quarter before Goodtime Heaven pipped her on the post by a head in 1:52. They will clash again in the June 30 decider at Menangle. "She looked like she was going to hold off the other horse all the away down the straight but she got her on the line," Dimarco said. "But we were very happy with the run. She ran 1:52 neat and the horse that beat her, she's a good horse. The other heat winner, Art Series, goes well as well, but she's going to be in it." Black Silhouette will start inside the 4YO mares heat winners in the class-based final draw. She was seventh in the three- and two-year-old Breeders Challenge deciders.  Sam Dimarco   Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby's Mister Finnigan was sixth in the two-year-old male semi-finals to be an emergency for the final. Maitland's Mitch and Guy Chapple were last with Roclea Star in his semi-final. Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan had back-to-back wins at Menangle with Vega Star, which clocked 1:51:1 in the first. On Friday night at Newcastle, Robert Morris drove a winning treble with Plain Baby, Balraj and Awayovernight. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

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