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Australian Pacing Gold purchase Atomic Red is predicted to have little trouble returning to the harness racing winners’ circle in Dubbo tomorrow night. Runner-up in the Carousel Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle a fortnight ago, Atomic Red won his previous start by 32 metres in 1:53.6. This time around the Steve Turnbull-trained entire is set to contest the Dubbo City Cup, where he has drawn to lead throughout from barrier three. As such the son of Rocknroll Hanover has been installed a $1.45 favourite. “It’s not a bad draw for him,” Turnbull said. “I reckon Amanda (Turnbull, driver) will let him run along at an even clip. “I wouldn’t say he is very speedy, but he is tough. His last three quarters when beaten were 27.8, 27.1 and 27.6 over 2300 metres. “When one his rivals are sitting right on him it can make him vulnerable.” Turnbull believes the biggest threat to that vulnerability is likely to come in the shape of veteran pacer Ultimate Art, which will begin from the outside of the second row. “Ultimate Art is the main danger,” Turnbull said. “He can sprint home pretty quickly and coming from back could give him that opportunity. “That said, Atomic Red is in great shape. He was doing bit of bucking around today, but think they may also have just been to keep warm!” APG Media

Brown's Creek father and son Leigh and Jake Davis have enjoyed their share of upset wins over the years they have been involved in harness racing, but few would rate as highly as the surprise they sprung at Menangle Park on Saturday. With Jake in the gig for his trainer-father Leigh, he steered $50.10 outsider Rainbow Comet to victory in the two-year-old colts and geldings Australian Pacing Gold Consolation Final (1,609 metres). That the race held Group 3 status, just one member of the nine-strong field was at longer odds than the Davis’ colt and that it was the first win of Rainbow Comet’s career made it even better. The son of Grinfromeartoear was three back on the pegs at the 400m mark and spotted the leader some 3½ lengths, but he got clear with 220m to go and flew home. He clocked a 1:55.6 mile rate in winning by 1.7m over $2.30 favourite Firestorm Red (Amanda Turnbull), getting home in a 27.9 second split. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A brief break before embarking on another harness racing Group One campaign is the plan with Soho Nolita. A brilliant winner of last night’s Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Soho Nolita will enjoy a short freshen-up before being aimed at the Vicbred Super Series. Heats of the futurity are scheduled to be conducted on June 19, with the semi-finals 10 days later, leading into the $125,000 decider on July 7. “She’ll have a little break now then it’s on to the Vicbred,” Stanley said. “Hopefully she can do as well in that as she has in the APG. “After that she will have another short break before we have a look at the Breeders’ Crown in August.” Driven by Stanley in the $328,000 APG Final, Soho Nolita was caught three-wide from barrier nine as Miss Halfpenny led from gate five. With Stanley pushing forward as the pacemaker covered the first half in 55.6 seconds, Soho Nolita dashed to the lead before cruising to a five-metre win from Miss Halfpenny, with Delightful Jazz a head away third. “That was a super run from her,” Stanley said. “She did plenty of work to find the front and won with a bit up her sleeve in 1:53 over the mile. “She missed a bit of work because of a foot abscess before her heat, so having to run in the repechage turned out to be a blessing in disguise as she was spot on for the Final. “I’ve thought all along she could be something special and everything she has done continues to make me think that will be the case.” Owned by Rob Watson, the daughter of Mach Three boasts three wins from four starts for earnings of $161,700. APG Media

Such is the depth in tonight’s Australian Pacing Gold Final the rank outsider will head into the harness racing feature with a near-perfect record. Boasting two wins and a second from three starts, Thats Bettor earned a berth in the Tabcorp Park Menangle-based Group One by securing her heat. Rating 1:58.9 over 1660 metres around Albion Park in qualifier, the Shannon Price-trained filly is listed at $34. Thats Bettor’s defeat was behind her APG Final rival, Miss Moneybags, which is the second lowest runner in the market at $26. “I’m a bit surprised about that, but I suppose she is a Queenslander,” Price said. “She did run a quick last half in her heat even though didn’t win in 1:53 like the interstaters.” Drawn barrier four in the $328,000 decider, Thats Bettor moves into three once the emergency is taken out, with Price stating the daughter of Bettors Delight is in peak condition for the pending assignment. “She’s feeling great…I couldn’t be happier with her,” Price said. “Her work has been terrific and she had a nice trial before we left. “Since she got to Sydney she has settled in, eaten up and is ready to go. “The draw is handy so hopefully she can get a good trail from there.” Citing Soho Interceptor and Soho Nolita as the pair to beat, Price considers Kualoa as the one most likely to upset the pair. Soho Interceptor and Soho Nolita have drawn alongside each other in gates 10 and 11, with Kualoa to begin from five. “Soho Interceptor and Soho Nolita are the top two, but they have drawn out wide,” Price said. “Kualoa has only had the one start, which was her heat, but Emma (Stewart, trainer) is bound to have her in perfect shape.”  APG Media

It seems that harness racing at Menangle suddenly has a plethora of future stars with several young drivers poised to dominate the sport for the next few years. And that might start today at Tabcorp Park Menangle with amazing talent expected to dominate this afternoon’s eight-race card. Race one looks the perfect case in point with four of our ‘young guns’ to do battle. Cameron Hart will handle polemarker Aichbechateaunoir for former Victorian trainer Shane Sanderson while Jason Grimson will be aboard outsider Vivian Knox for Troy Williams; the seasoned young ‘veteran’ Chris Geary drives No Transactions for Tim Butt while Codi Rauchenberger will partner Majestic Whiz for Peter Carson. All four drivers have been in good form around the provincials in recent weeks and could easily pull off an upset here. While Geary, Grimson and Hart are in heavy demand in other races, another young reinsman will be hoping to add to what is already becoming an outstanding strike rate when former Queensland reinsman Lachie Manzelmann [pictured] drives Countdown for Leon Jurd in Race Four. Manzelmann took a massive gamble when he left his home state to take up a spot working for the powerful Shane and Lauren Tritton stable at Menangle a few months ago. His gamble has worked a treat as he is working horses, including some of the best in training, most mornings on the best harness track in the Southern Hemisphere and his efforts are now beginning to catch the eye of other trainers. “I’m glad I made the move to Menangle because I had never left home before and it has done me the world of good,” said Manzelmann, who gives Countdown a good show Menangle in Race four today and believes his chances might be further improved if he can hold the lead. “I think that’s when Countdown ran his best races when he was in Queensland,” he said. “But I’ll have a talk to Leon [Jurd] before the race and see what we’ll do.” Manzelmann says he found the pace of the racing in Sydney took a bit of getting used to when he first made the move south. “They go a lot faster down here and there’s no real backing off of the speed,” he said. “But I am loving the challenge and no, I haven’t really felt homesick. “I went back to Queensland for a drive last week and managed to get into a little bit of trouble with the stewards, but it was just a one off and I am happy to stay here.” Manzelmann has one horse in work himself but has been delighted to sit behind horses like Franco Nelson and Reaza Grunter. “I think Reaza Grunter is probably the fastest horse I’ve driven in a race, at this stage,” he said. Michael Court

Wyee harness racing trainer Joseph Clark is keen to test promising four-year-old Misterfire in midweek Tabcorp Park Menangle company after his third win in five career starts. The Courage Under Fire entire, which Clark part-bred and owns from his mare Miss Charge, won in 1:57.8 at Newcastle Paceway on Saturday night. All of his starts so far have come at Newcastle with Morisset-based trainer-driver Mark Callaghan in the gig. Clark, 53, has been involved in harness racing all his life and is the son of former prominent trainer Doug Clark. He has only ever had a couple in work and is keen to see how far Misterfire can go after the promising start at Newcastle. “He’s a late foal and he’s still very immature, but he’s got to a C2 class reasonably quickly,” Clark said. “The plan is to take him down to a Tuesday Menangle meeting, where I think the big track will help him. “He’s only an honest type and I think he will be a better five year old because he’s a had a few issues.” Clark said Misterfire “gets on his knees a bit” but some remedial shoeing work has improved his racing and the wide open Menangle track would suit. Visiting driver Blake Fitzpatrick dominated on Saturday night at Newcastle with wins on Leonidas, Lexus With A View, Pat Stanley and Tavewa Sunset. On Friday night, former Hunter combination Shane and Lauren Tritton had a treble at Menangle with MY Sweetchilliphilly, Franco Nelson and Reaza Grunter. On Monday, Maitland will hold a nine-race meeting from 1pm. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Top harness racing trainer Emma Stewart has carried all before her in Victoria this year with a string of major wins. Yet even Stewart could not have expected to come to Sydney and bag the trifecta in one of Sydney's biggest plums, the APG New South Wales Derby. Aided by a masterly drive by Chris 'The Puppet' Alford, the Derby went to Victorian Derby runner-up Poster Boy, who raced with a one-one trail for most of the 2300m journey before Alford expertly extricated him from a pocket turning for home and made a flashing run to take the Derby by one and a half-metres from surprise packet Tam Major (Todd McCarthy) with the other stablemate, Major Times (Mark Pitt) a half neck back in third place. Vic Derby winner Colt Thirty One was sent out a short-priced favourite for Grant Dixon after drawing gate one and the race looked his for the taking when he led easily and was able to get away with a 30.9 first quarter and a 29.6 second split in the final mile. But he never got much peace in front and was eyeballed by Maraetai for much of the final lap. Enter Poster Boy and Alford later admitted the last half lap hadn't quite worked out how he had planed it to. "Thankfully he was good enough to cover them when he got clear," said the champion reinsman. With a last half of 53 seconds (splits of 26.7 and 26.3s), Poster Boy made up for his narrow defeat in the Victorian equivalent with a one and a half metre victory in 1:56.7 mile rate. Stewart admitted eh loves coming to Sydney and would be back whenever there were feature races on. "We're big supporters of APG and buy a lot of our horses there so it is fitting they should sponsor a race like this." Poster Boy Video coming   5 8:20pm APG NSW DERBY (GROUP 1) 2400M $200,000 3YO Colts and Geldings. RBD. Mobile Final Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 POSTER BOY  $120,000   Fr3 4 Emma Stewart Chris Alford   $ 3.50       BAY COLT 3 by SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE USA out of ASTON VILLA USA (ARTSPLACE (US))  Owner(s): Lauriston Bloodstock Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): Lauriston Bloodstock Pty Ltd 2 TAM MAJOR  $ 30,000   Fr8 10 Emma Stewart Todd McCarthy 1.50 $ 149.30     3 MAJOR TIMES  $ 20,000   Fr2 2 Emma Stewart Mark Pitt 2.20 $ 12.50     4 THE BLACK PRINCE NZ  $ 10,000   Fr6 8 Roy Roots Jnr Chris Geary 2.90 $ 41.80     5 COLT THIRTY ONE  $ 5,000   Fr1 1 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 3.10 $ 2.60 fav    6 LITTLE PEANUT  $ 3,000   Fr10 12 Jess Tubbs Greg Sugars 7.50 $ 19.60     7 CODE BAILEY NZ  $ 3,000   Fr7 9 Margaret Lee Glen Craven 9.70 $ 50.40     8 THE DEVILS OWN NZ  $ 3,000   Fr9 11 Mark Purdon Natalie Rasmussen 13.40 $ 18.50     9 MARAETAI  $ 3,000   Fr4 5 Emma Stewart Luke McCarthy 14.10 $ 3.90     10 HIGHERTHANANEAGLE  $ 3,000   Fr5 6 David Aiken Darren Hancock 14.30 $ 39.20   (L) Scratchings   DIVINE STATE 3 ALL U NEED IS FAITH NZ 7 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 2:54:0 Mile Rate: 1:56:7 Lead Time: 60.5 First Quarter: 30.9 Second Quarter: 29.6 Third Quarter: 26.7 Fourth Quarter: 26.3 Margins: 1.5m x HFNK   Sean Vella    

It didn't take champion reinsman Luke McCarthy long to get back into the harness racing spotlight at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. McCarthy picked up the plum drive on four-year-old Victorian mare Carlas Pixel from ace Victorian trainer Emma Stewart a couple of weeks ago. Carlas Pixel qualified for the Ladyship Mile at Menangle two weeks ago when successful in the Canadian Club Sprint and it paid dividends tonight when McCarthy brought the daughter of Courage Under Fire with a flashing finish from well back in the field for an impressive victory - breaking the magical 1:50 mile rate in the process, rating 1:49.5 to score a one a quarter metre win over Delishka (Blake Fitzpatrick) with Rocker Band (Ash Grives) five and a half metres further back in third place. The stunning time was made possible by bold front-runner My Rona Gold (Lauren Tritton) who surged out of the gate in a slashing 25.5 seconds for the opening quarter. The flashy grey then ran them along in fine style with a 28.1 second split before fading in the straight the finish fifth as the pace began to tell and the first two placegetters emerged from well back in the field. Stewart later paid tribute to the McCarthys - Luke and Belinda for making Cobbity a home away from home for them when they come to Sydney. "I was quite nervous when I got her because she's a super mare and you never know how you are going to go when you get a good horse like that," said Stewart. "But full marks to Luke, he drove her superbly tonight." Luke added: I've been lucky enough to win this twice and its a huge thrill. She went so well last week we had a lot of confidence going into tonight's race. "Dean Braun picked this horse from the yearling sales and deserves some of the credit to as he did a great job with her."   Carlas Pixel       4 7:46pm MACARTHUR SQUARE LADYSHIP MILE (GROUP 1) 1609M $200,000 Mares. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 CARLAS PIXEL      Fr5 6 Emma Stewart Luke McCarthy   $ 7.20       BAY MARE 4 by COURAGE UNDER FIRE NZ out of PIXEL PERFECT (ART MAJOR USA)  Owner(s): S J Nixon, M E Denyer  Breeder(s): R J (Robert) Watson 2 DELISHKA NZ      Fr9 11 Brad Mowbray Blake Fitzpatrick 1.3m $ 23.80     3 ROCKER BAND NZ      Fr1 1 Mark Jones Ashlee Grives 6.7m $ 14.70     4 A PICCADILLY PRINCESS NZ      Fr8 9 Mark Purdon Natalie Rasmussen 11.2m $ 8.70     5 MY RONA GOLD NZ      Fr7 8 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 11.2m $ 24.50     6 IMA MYSTERY GIRL      Fr4 5 Jarrod Alchin Jarrod Alchin 11.8m $ 71.00     7 SHAKAHARI      Fr10 12 Stephen O'Donoghue Rebecca Bartley 13.4m $ 139.30     8 AMERETTO      Fr2 2 Kerryn Manning Kerryn Manning 14.8m $ 1.80 fav    9 MISS RIVIERA BELLE NZ      Fr6 7 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Chris Geary 16.8m $ 69.10     10 OUR GOLDEN GODDESS      Fr3 4 Kerryn Manning James Rattray 21.6m $ 5.40     Scratchings   PARTYON NZ 3 BERISARI 10 Track Rating:   Gross Time: 1:49:5 Mile Rate: 1:49:5 First Quarter: 25.5 Second Quarter: 28.1 Third Quarter: 28 Fourth Quarter: 27.9 Margins: 1.3m x 5.4m     Sean Vella    

Young Victorian reins man Mark Pitt gave a salute to the stars as he scored an amazing harness racing win in tonight's John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Shepparton reinsman brought Shez All Rock with a burst of speed up the inside running to win by three metres from Soho Burning Love (Greg Sugars) in a world record equalling time of 2:50.4 with the plucky Nostra Villa (Chris Alford) clinging on for third. Pitt drove a patient race with the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, settling in about seventh spot and biding his time until the field hit the home running. The charges looked to be coming from out wide and just as it looked as if Soho Burning Love and Nostra Villa would fight out the finish Pitt and Shez All Rock appeared from nowhere up the pegs for an amazing win. Now Victorian-based, Pitt showed his delight to be back in his former home state with a mighty flourish of the whip as he crossed the line for a win he rated among the best of his career. "This was always going to be a tricky race but she had a good trip tonight and god the job done," said Pitt. "It's always good when you come away from home and win a race like this and go home with a trophy, it's really special. "I have to thank Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin for all the help they have given me with this horse and I also think Mum and Dad deserve some of the credit too. Without them none of this would be possible.       3 7:17pm JOHN GIBSON MEMORIAL NSW OAKS (GROUP 1) 2400M $200,000 3YO Fillies. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SHEZ ALL ROCK      Fr4 5 Mark Pitt Mark Pitt   $ 4.80       BROWN FILLY 3 by ROCK N ROLL HEAVEN USA out of JUST IRISH LOCH NZ (MACH THREE CA)  Owner(s): I D Pitt, L M Pitt  Breeder(s): G F (George) Tennent 2 SOHO BURNING LOVE      Fr10 11 Michael Stanley Greg Sugars 3.2m $ 13.20     3 NOSTRA VILLA      Fr7 8 Emma Stewart Chris Alford 7.5m $ 2.70 fav    4 CALLMEQUEENBEE      Fr8 9 Gemma Rue Mat Rue 9.1m $ 95.30     5 MY SWEETCHILLIPHILLY NZ      Fr6 7 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 9.3m $ 35.70     6 WAR DAN BAD GIRL      Fr5 6 Steve Turnbull Nathan Jack 9.5m $ 42.30     7 FAME ASSURED      Fr3 4 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 10.4m $ 4.60     8 IMPRINCESSGEMMA      Fr1 2 Emma Stewart Luke McCarthy 21.7m $ 6.30     9 IDEAL PLEASURE NZ      Fr2 3 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Natalie Rasmussen 22.5m $ 16.10     10 MACEY JAYDE      Fr9 10 Michael Stanley Michael Stanley 29.8m $ 46.20     Scratchings   REDBANK ADDI 1 PROPHESY 12 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:50:4 Mile Rate: 1:54:3 Lead Time: 54.9 First Quarter: 29.3 Second Quarter: 30.1 Third Quarter: 27.8 Fourth Quarter: 28.3 Margins: 3.2m x 4.3m   Sean Vella  

It was the perfect warm-up drive for the Miracle Mile later in the evening. Yet even birthday boy Todd McCarthy could hardly have expected to set an Australasian harness racing record with a stunning all-the-way win on Maori Time rating 1:51.5 in the Access Group Solutions Trotters Mile. Todd, who turns 25 today, took Maori Time straight to the front in the Group One and basically just made them chase him all the way, breaking Flying Isa's record of 1:53.2 in scoring by five and a quarter metres from Daryl Boko with War Dan Destroyer a fast-finishing third. It makes Maori Time the fastest square-gaiter this country has ever seen. "He ran a fantastic race and I couldn't ask for anything more than setting a record like this . . . it's pretty special," said Todd. Ironically the previous record was set by Todd's big brother Luke but nothing could be taken away from the Brent Lilley-trained Victorian visitor who got out of the mobile in a 26.8 split before Todd was able to back the speed off slightly with a 29.4 second quarter. Then Todd put the handlebars down and came away from his rivals with splits of 27s and 28.3 for a win that the legions of square-gaiting fans could only have dreamt about a few years ago. Menangle was on fire and Todd admitted he was champing at the bit for a repeat performance when he hops behind Tiger Tara later in the night in the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile.   2 6:50pm ACCESS GROUP SOLUTIONS TROTTERS MILE (GROUP 1) 1609M $50,000 RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 MAORI TIME      Fr4 4 Brent Lilley Todd McCarthy   $ 10.00       BAY MARE 8 by PEGASUS SPUR CA out of SUNDONNA (SUNDON USA)  Owner(s): F (Fredrick) Crews  Breeder(s): F (Fredrick) Crews 2 DARYL BOKO FIN      Fr1 1 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 5.3m $ 2.20 fav    3 WAR DAN DESTROYER      Fr2 2 Michael Doltoff Luke McCarthy 14.6m $ 33.00     4 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr8 9 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 20.8m $ 4.70     5 IONA GRINNER      Fr6 6 Troy Williams Robert Morris 27.6m $ 91.60     6 ROMPERS MONARCHY NZ      Fr5 5 J A Rando, M J Rando David Morris 27.7m $ 108.10     7 VINCENNES      Fr10 12 Anton Golino Jason Lee 28.2m $ 12.30     8 MY TRIBECA ITA      Fr7 7 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 46.3m $ 8.40     9 ON THUNDER ROAD NZ      Fr3 3 Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 51.2m $ 6.80     10 BLAZING UNDER FIRE NZ      Fr9 11 Blake Fitzpatrick Blake Fitzpatrick 343.4m $ 95.70     Scratchings   MICHAEL THOMAS 8 SHETLAND 10 Track Rating:   Gross Time: 1:51:5 Mile Rate: 1:51:5 First Quarter: 26.8 Second Quarter: 29.4 Third Quarter: 27 Fourth Quarter: 28.3 Margins: 5.3m x 9.3m   Sean Vella

He’s the forgotten horse of Saturday night’s $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Yet veteran Lennytheshark, the oldest horse in the race, cannot be completely written off, despite being listed as a $21 shot in the eight-horse harness racing field. He is the defending champion and his trainer David Aiken wouldn’t swap his stable star for any other horse in the race and issued a reminder ‘Lenny’ was going as well as ever. “He is meeting the new kids on the block this season, but he is feeling terrific and is ready to do it all again,” Aiken said. “I still wouldn't swap him for any other runner. “I just finished working him an hour ago and he is going as well as ever.” Despite his defeat last week, Lennytheshark earned an invitation into the Grand Circuit event as the defending champion, with Aiken confident the son of Four Starzzz Shark could still join a select group of consecutive Miracle Mile winners. Victory will see Lennytheshark become just the seventh titleholder to successfully defend his crown since the prestigious sprint began in 1967. Westburn Grant led the way win consecutive wins in 1989 and 90, followed by Chokin (1993 and ‘94), Holmes D G (1999 and 2000), Sokyola (2003 and ‘04), Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11). Lennytheshark has drawn barrier seven, but moves into six when the emergency comes out. “I was just looking at the sectionals from last week again and he got home in 53 seconds after doing a bit of work early,” Aiken said. “He went quicker last week than he did the year before when he won.” Aiken agreed that the draw hadn’t helped but suggested punters would leave him out at their peril as he was in good enough shape to win. The former Sydney premiership-winning trainer cited Soho Tribeca as the horse to beat, but said he also rated My Field Marshal as one who could spring an upset. Soho Tribeca has drawn gate seven while My Field Marshal will come from four. Soho Tribeca is a $3.20 second elect, while My Field Marshal is sitting on $10. Lazarus heads the betting market at $2.40 despite drawing the outside of the front row. “Soho Tribeca should be favourite as I reckon he is the one to beat,” Aiken said. “That said, I can see My Field Marshal getting a really good run from the draw, which brings him right into it.” Michael Court

The pressure is on. And that can be expected given your colt is favourite to claim his second blue riband harness racing classic, the Gr.1 $200,000 APG New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow night (Saturday). Fresh from his brilliant victory in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby last month, Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One is looking to become the first three-year-old since Captain Joy (2009) to win both features in the same season. No Queensland trained pacer has ever collected both features in the same season. “It’s very exciting and he keeps improving each and every time he steps out, we thought he was very good last week. We’ve booked our flights this time; we’ll definitely be trackside cheering the team on.” Owner/breeder Kevin Seymour said. Surprisingly, both Kevin and Kay Seymour were absent when their star colt took glory in Melbourne on January 27. The New South Wales Derby feature would hold mixed feelings for the leviathan couple, back in 2013 their star pacer Majestic Mach tasted defeat for the first time in his career when a runner-up behind Lennytheshark. Majestic Mach won his first 12 starts including three Gr.1 features. But the similarities between the past and the present are like chalk and cheese. Colt Thirty One oozes class and his mannerisms are far superior to his former stablemate. And that was evident last week when the Grant Dixon trained and driven colt scored comfortably when leading throughout in his qualifier, his time of 1:56.3 was significantly quicker than fellow heat winners Poster Boy and Maraetai. Colt Thirty One has drawn the coveted inside gate tomorrow night. In the Victoria Derby, Colt Thirty One came from behind Poster Boy to win the 2240m feature. “I think Colt Thirty One is actually better than Majestic Mach and will go much further in his career, winning the New South Wales Derby would be a magnificent achievement but it certainly won’t come easy because it’s a very good field with quality rivals. “I’m hoping he can win all three east coast Derby classics, I’m anticipating he could become a great sire in time because he’s a beautifully bred being a son of a champion sire, the ill-fated Mach Three while his maternal pedigree is very strong. “Like all owners, we’re dreamers but you must aim for the stars. It would be wonderful to see Queensland back up in bright lights again and producing quality performers, a triple Derby winner would be a great step forward.” If successful in all three Derbies, Colt Thirty One would join the incomparable Courage Under Fire who achieved the feat back in 1999. Dixon is aiming for his second triumph in the New South Wales Derby after scoring back in 1994 with Jeremy Lee. Colt Thirty One is quoted at $2 with UBET for the 2400m event. The Seymour/Dixon combination is also chasing success in the Gr.1 $200,000 John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks with classy filly Fame Assured looming as a solid chance following her qualifying victory last week. Like Colt Thirty One, Fame Assured (1:54.8) rated a much quicker time in comparison to fellow heat winners in Shez All Rock and Imprincessgemma. “All credit belongs to Grant, to win a heat of the Derby and the Oaks is a special achievement, he just keeps creating records. We’ve always held this filly in high regard and she has continued to improve which is particularly exciting,” Seymour stated. “At the start of the season, I thought this filly could do as big a job as the colt and she’s got an excellent chance of claiming her first feature. It would be an unbelievable feeling to win both classics.” Fame Assured is rated a $4.20 chance with UBET and will carry saddlecloth number four in the 2400m fillies feature. Queensland trained fillies that have won the New South Wales Oaks include Courageous Annie (2011), Don’t Fall For Me (2008) and Armada Miss (1991). Chris Barsby

Grant Dixon might have one hand on the 2018 NSW Derby with the exciting Colt Thirty One, but the champion Queensland trainer knows his opponents will be lining up to loosen the grip in Saturday night’s harness racing final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Dixon had a night to remember in Sydney after he booked his chance at a second derby victory with Colt Thirty one in the space of a month, before earning a spot in the NSW Oaks with Fame Assured. Colt Thirty One was rated a $1.90 with UBET after he drew barrier one at Monday’s draw, which following a stunning all-the-way win in Heat 3 at the weekend. There, he was able to hold off the Jess Tubbs-prepared Little Peanut and odds-on pop The Devils Own (NZ) to record a seemingly comfortable 2.8m win. “He knew he’d been around but he hit the line really nicely,” Dixon said. “He has always been a good eater and he has pulled up well.” Double Derby glory now seems well within reach for the Kevin and Kay Seymour-owned pacer, after he claimed a thrilling come-from-behind win in January’s $200,000 Victoria Derby at Melton. “Derbies are particularly hard to win,” Dixon said. “He had a bad draw (in Melbourne) but they went hard early and he was able to finish over the top. This weekend (from barrier 1) the shoe will be on the other foot.” The three-year-old by Mach Three out of the once-raced mare Charm Personified has built an ultra-impressive record since his last-to-first debut win at Albion Park in February 2017. In 17 starts the colt has been unplaced just twice. However, it was his 20m demolition job of some smart rivals in the Group 1 QBRED Triad at Albion Park in July last year that really got tongues wagging. “Even when he was being broken in they had a massive opinion of him,” Dixon said. Dixon said Fame Assured, currently rated a $4 chance to win the Oaks with UBET, had really pleased him this time in. “She’s really stepped up since her two-year-old campaign,” he said. Fame Assured has seven wins and one placing from nine starts and will be out to secure her first Group 1 victory after running a narrow second to Arts Treasure in the QBRED 2YO Triad (Fillies) in July. “I think we have two genuine chances going into this weekend,” Dixon said.  Alex Nolan

These are the barrier draws for the Big 4 harness racing Group One races at Club Menangle on Saturday night, 24th February. $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile 1: Tiger Tara by Bettor's Delight 2: Atomic Red (2Em) by Rocknroll Hanover 3: Anything For Love by Rock N Roll Heaven 4: My Field Marshal by Art Major 5: Jilliby Kung Fu by Four Stazzz Shark 6: Soho Tribeca by American Ideal 7: Lennytheshark by Four Starzzz Shark 8: Charlaval by Four Starzzz Shark 9: Let It Ride (1Em) by Rock N Roll Heaven 10: Lazarus by Bettor's Delight   Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile 1: Rocker Band by Rocknroll Hanover 2: Ameretto by Million Dollar Cam 3: Partyon by Bettor's Delight 4: Our Golden Goddess by Art Major 5: Ima Mystery Girl (1Em) by Village Jasper 6: Carlas Pixel by Courage Under Fire 7: Miss Riviera Belle by Bettor's Delight 8: My Rona Gold by Klondike Kid 9: A Piccadilly Princess by Bettor's Delight 10: Berisari (2Em) by Safari 11: Delishka by Bettor's Delight 12: Shakahari by Courage Under Fire   John Gibson Memorial NSW Oaks 1: Redbank Addi (1Em) by Rock N Roll Heaven 2: Imprincessgemma by Village Jolt 3: Ideal Pleasure by Bettor's Delight 4: Fame Assured by Mach Three 5: Shez All Rock by Rock N Roll Heaven 6: War Dan Bad Girl by Bettor's Delight 7: My Sweetchilliphilly by Betterthancheddar 8: Nostra Villa by Art Major 9: Callmequeenbee by Shadow Play 10: Macey jayde by Shadow Play 11: Soho Burning Love by Auckland Reactor 12: Prophesy (2Em) by Somebeachsomewhere   APG NSW Derby 1: Colt Thirty One by Mach Three 2: Major Times by Art Major 3: Divine State (1Em) by Tintin In America 4: Poster Boy by Somebeachsomewhere 5: Maraetai by Somebeachsomewhere 6: Higherthananeagle by Mach Three 7: All U Need Is Faith (2Em) by Art Major 8: The Black Prince by Bettor's Delight 9: Code Bailey by Christian Cullen 10: Tam Major by Art Major 11: The Devils Own by Art Major 12: Little Peanut by Blissfull Hall For further information contact Club Menangle Racing Manager David Wonson (02) 4645 2200 *Em = Emergency Mandy Madern

Sydney's greatest harness racing spectacle was thrown wide open by a crazy qualifying night at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday, leaving plenty of questions over next Saturday's $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile. Both Australasia's best pacer Lazarus and defending Mile champion Lennytheshark were beaten in their $100,000 preludes, needing the discretion of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club committee to secure their Mile invites. The early second favourite for Mile in Heaven Rocks didn't qualify at all while Hunter Cup runner-up Soho Tribeca was beaten by Anything For Love in the 1:48.7 first prelude. The intrigue started when Anything For Love led as Team Tritton suggested he would and held out Soho Tribeca by a nose, with bolter Charlaval third in the first prelude, the $100,000 Allied Express Transport Sprint. All three got invites to the Miracle Mile, as did Lennytheshark who finished fifth, with club officials saying the champion pacer's career record as well as his status as defending champion aiding his cause. But the biggest shock of the night came when Lazarus struggled bravely into third in the $100,000 Canadian Club Sprint won by local hero Tiger Tara over My Field Marshal. Tiger Tara was expertly driven by Todd McCarthy early to keep Lazarus in a pocket and press on to the lead and he was never extended to win in a far slower 1:51.5, with My Field Marshal storming home from the tail of the field for second. Lazarus was clearly below his best and looked gone at the 400m mark but picked himself up to finish third, giving a huge scare to one TAB punter who had bet $50,000 a place on him at $1.04. His trainer-driver Mark Purdon said the Inter Dominion champion was below his best after a slight blood complaint during the week, which his vet had informed stewards of. "I thought he was over it but the way the race panned out and him having to race parked after being crossed it affected him," said Purdon. "So we have a week to get him right and I am just glad he gets into the Mile." The NSWHRC directors said they found the final field decision relatively straight forward, with the first three home in both preludes joined by the defending champion and last Saturday's Chariots Of Fire winner Jilliby Kung Fu. The all-important draw for the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile will be held at Club Menangle around 1.30pm on Sunday. The field field for the great race is.-- Anything For Love, Soho Tribeca, Charlaval, Tiger Tara, My Field Marshal, Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Jilliby Kung Fu. Emergencies: Let It Ride, Atomic Red. Anything For Love Tiger Tara Mandy Madern

Harness racing trainer Emma Stewart is set to dominate the $200,000 APG New South Wales Derby after qualifying four for next Saturday's classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Victorian trainer won two of the heats on Saturday night with Maraetai in the opening heat and hot favourite Poster Boy in the second, the latter beating his own stablemate Major Times. Stewart snuck her fourth contender into the classic when Tam Major was the fastest fourth placegetter of the three heats, joining the nine automatic qualifiers who finished placed in the three heats. He was fourth to Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One, who led throughout in the final heat. "It is a special thrill to qualify four for the Derby, it is the race the owners want to be in," said Stewart. Stewart says while Poster Boy is her personal favourite, that won't affect champion driver Chris Alford's choice of who he partners in the final after he reined both of Stewart's heat winners. "I don't need to make a decision now so I will probably wait until after the barrier draw," says Alford. The barrier draw for the Derby will be held on Monday morning, with two emergencies to be drawn in the field. The acceptors for the Derby are: Code Bailey, Colt Thirty One, Higherthananeagle, Little Peanut, Major Times, Maraetai, Poster Boy, Tam Major, The Black Prince, The Devils Own. Emergencies: Divine State, All U Need Is Faith. Derby Heat 1 Derby Heat 2 Derby Heat 3 Mandy Madern

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