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All you needed was for Kylie Minogue to be in attendance at harness racing's Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday 18 January to complete the picture. Oh, what a night! The race and sectional times recorded at Menangle simply beggared belief. If ever there was a more resounding endorsement of the Australasian standardbred and Tabcorp Park, Menangle as the premier Southern Hemisphere harness racing facility, Saturday night provided that! The results on the night were a ringing endorsement of the professionalism of trackside staff in preparing a blindingly fast service. The prevailing weather conditions were also superb. Race 1 was won by the Craig Cross trained “Pocket Of Terror NZ”, a gelded son of Western Terror in a time of 1.50.5. Watch this race here. Craig followed up in Race 2 with “Little Rascal NZ”, a gelded son of Panspacificflight, winning in a time of 1.50.3. To watch this race click here. Not to be outdone by those achievements, Craig followed up with “Bettor Enforce NZ”, a Bettors Delight mare, winning Race 3 in the spectacular time of 1.48.9!  To watch this race click here. The regular scheduling of guaranteed mare races by Club Menangle and HRNSW have shown their worth time and time again, but Saturday night was actual vindication. A closer evaluation of the race won by Bettor Enforce NZ provides an incredible read. The race times for the first six placegetters in the race were all under 1.50! This almost unbelievable result reads: 1.48.90 Bettor Enforce NZ 1.49.08 Art Series 1.49.09 Hows The Memory 1.49.45 Island Banner 1.49.55 Fame Assured 1.49.77 Redbank Addi The seventh placed horse “Tralee Bromac NZ” was timed in 1.50.11, and the seventh placed horse “Power Surge NZ” was timed at 1.50.60. The fun did not end there as the Craig Cross trained “Wrangler NZ” a gelded son of Bettor Delight, won race 7 in a time of 1.48.8. To watch this race click here. Three other races on the program were won in 1.51 for the mile. The results on Saturday provide a great lead-in to the forthcoming yearling sales on both sides of the ditch. Saturday night was proof positive of the capacity and capability of the Australasian standardbred. The results also point to the forthcoming Sky Carnival of Miracles at Tabcorp Park Menangle being one of the most exciting harness racing events in 2020. Bring it on! Congratulations to the trackside staff at Tabcorp Park, Menangle for providing a superb racing surface. On a night like this…….. Alex Smith Club Menangle  

KIWI raider Smooth Deal has another serious Aussie rival to contend with in the Victoria Derby. Queenslander Governor Jujon blitzed a strong field in the rescheduled $50,000 Group 2 Simpson Memorial at Menangle yesterday, pacing a 1min52.8sec mile and ripping home in 54.3 and 26.2sec. He won without being asked for any real effort by stand-in driver Robbie Morris, while Paul Court’s Kiwi pacer Mach Da Vinci flashed home from well back for a ripper second. Governor Jujon’s win was his seventh from just nine starts and he’s run second in the other two. He’s trained by Grant Dixon, making him a stablemate to 2018 Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One. The exciting son of Cammibest now heads straight to the Derby heats at Ballarat on Saturday week. Australia’s other top Derby contender, last season’s 2YO of the Year Be Happy Mach, only had his first public trial this campaign at Geelong last night. He looks certain to head into the Derby heats first-up, which is a daring move given the jump from 2240m to 2760m for this year’s Derby final at Melton on January 25. Smooth Deal is $2.60 Derby prepost favourite with the Aussie TAB from Be Happy Mach at $2.80 and Governor Jujon seemingly the value at $9. Governor Jujon winning at Menangle ___________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see Let it Ride return with a Menangle win yesterday. Tim Butt’s gelding failed in two runs in early winter and was sent straight for a spell. The 2018 Group 1 Blacks A Fake winner was given a lovely trip in the one-one by Anthony Butt, grabbed the front turning for home and held-on by 3.9m over favourite Little Rascal in a 1min52.4sec mile, capped by closing splits of 55.3 and 27.3sec. The opposition will certainly get much harder in coming weeks, but at least there were signs of the old Let It Ride. The Butts combined for another impressive win at the rescheduled Menangle meeting when Ideal Star led throughout and bolted in by 12.9m in a career-best 1min51.3sec mile. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Shane Tritton is regrouping after losing his two best horses. Last year’s Victoria Derby winner Muscle Factory has re-injured a tendon, ruling out the Chariots Of Fire and casting doubts over whether he will race again. While recent Kiwi import Funatthebeach, who Tritton felt could be a Grand Circuit player, has been sent to the USA by connections. He raced just twice for Tritton after leaving the All Stars barn for a win and a third at Menangle.   Adam Hamilton

Master New South Wales trainer Tim Butt has mapped out an ambitious and exciting program over the next few months for his millionaire harness racing campaigner My Field Marshal. And it'll be a three-State "blitz" for the pacer, who made a promising return to the racetrack at the weekend. "I'm still smiling about his first-up run after being away from the races for over eight months," Menangle-based Butt said. "There are some nice races on offer and he's at the stage of his career where we're going to take off the gloves-so that means competing in West Australia, Victoria and then back home in Sydney," he said. My Field Marshal (Art Major-Foreal (Washington VC), is nicknamed "Monty" after Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, considered one of history's great military commanders. Retired in the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle back in early March, "Monty" ran an eye-catching second to Alta Orlando at Menangle in the McLaren Real Estate Alf Phillis Group Three Free For All on Saturday night. "He's been in work probably four months after he went amiss - then we had to go back to the trials and requalify because he got stood down in the mile," Butt said. "That was about 12 days ago and we'd done a few private trials at home, including one when he stopped the clock at 1.52 which is close to race speed. "He's been doing a fair bit in the water walker at the Aquagait Equine Centre, generally after his hopple-up runs. He enjoys that. He's really more like a thoroughbred because he's athletic, fine and good winded." See Our Field Marshal taking it easy in the Aquagait water walker here: My Field Marshal heading out to work at home at Menangle   With Tim's brother Anthony in NZ with Inter Dominion duties, substitute reinsman Jack Trainor did a splendid job. "We know Jack from back home in New Zealand where he worked for Cran Dalgety and he looked after the horse nicely. He drove a really good race and 'Monty' will improve on that run," Butt said. The trip west will be nothing new for "Monty" - a similar trip last December and January saw him take out the $50,000 Village Kid Pace and $300,000 Fremantle Pacing Cup. He then ran a gallant fourth (beaten 3.3m) to Rocknroll Lincoln in the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup. Butt said he planned to target just the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups this time. "Then he will be flown back to Melbourne and aimed at the A.G Hunter Cup. Then, all going well, we'll head back home for another crack at the Miracle Mile," he said. My Field Marshal has 26 wins and 22 placings for $1.3M in stakes - and one of these wins was in the $750,000 G1 Miracle Mile in February 2018. "If we stick around home, he's more than likely going to keep drawing the outside at Menangle which makes it extremely difficult," Butt said. "In saying that, it's still tough to win over in WA," he said. "And fingers crossed that the Purdon-Rasmussen All Stars team doesn't show up or we'll all be in trouble!" Another comeback kid in Tiger Tara (trained by Kevin Pizzuto) certainly didn't go unnoticed, either, in the same race. "Tiger" was a strong third placing after leading up. He was resuming from a short let-up following a fourth in the $30,000 G3 BP Narella Pace nearly three months ago.     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Two of Australia’s most decorated pacers – Tiger Tara and My Field Marshal – are right on target for Perth raids next month. The star pair returned from spells in the free-for-all at Menangle last night (Saturday) and thrilled connections. My Field Marshal, first-up off a long break, especially delighted trainer Tim Butt when he stormed home from near last to finish second to Alta Orlando in a 1min54.2sec mile rate for 2300m. The winner ran a 54.6sec last half and My Field Marshal was timed to run his in 53.8sec. “He’s such a special horse to me and to have him back and go like that is so exciting,” Butt said. “We’re very keen on Perth, I’d say he’s 90 per cent going now. He thrived over there last year. “He’ll go to the Shirley Turnbull at Bathurst on the 26th (of December), then we’ll make the final decision on Perth.” Tiger Tara blasted off the gate from an outside draw to lead, dictated terms and seemed to just run out of condition late when overrun and a finishing third, 5.3m from the winner. “He needed that. He’ll come on a lot from it,” trainer Kevin Pizzuto said. “We’re very keen on Perth.” Alta Orlando continued his excellent form since coming across from NZ by leading, sitting on Tiger Tara and popping out a the top of the straight to win well. _________________________________________________________________________________________ REVENGE is sweet, just ask the Shockwave team. It was only two weeks ago when the son of Mach Three “won” the Group 1 4YO Championship at Gloucester Park, but was stripped of it by a protest from Sangue Reale. But, last Friday night, it was pay-back time. Shockwave won WA’s biggest four-year-old race, the Group 1 $200,000 Golden Nugget, in narrow but powerhouse style for trainer Ryan Bell and driver Aiken De Campo. And, for just a moment at the top of the home straight, Shockwave and Sangue Reale were alongside each other, but this time there was no dramatic twist. Despite having to come from well back and three and four wide, Shockwave ran his own last half in 55.6sec to gun down leader Patrickthepiranha in a slick 1min56.3sec mile rate for 2536m. Sangue Reale trailed the leader, didn’t have much room when it mattered, and ran another top race for third. The way Shockwave has gone to another level this campaign, Bell will surely give serious thought to stepping him up to big stage for the Fremantle (January 10) and WA Pacing Cups (January 17). _________________________________________________________________________________________ POPULAR veteran Vultan Tin is right back to his very best as WA’s biggest races loom. The Phil Costello-trained eight-year-old was superbly and confidently driven by Chris Voak to impressively win a free-for-all in slick time at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Last year’s WA Pacing Cup winner Rocknroll Lincoln resumed from injury and a long spell and found the lead, but Voak very quickly made a move around to sit parked and apply pressure. “I knew my horse was rock hard fit and here had to be a query on the leader’s fitness,” Voak said. Voak’s pressure meant a 28.3sec split from the 1200-800m, but was still good enough to rip home in 55.7 and 27.9sec to beat the fast-finishing Handsandwheels by 3.3m in a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2130m. The other free-for-all produced a monstrous upset when Talktomeurmattjesty led, overraced through the middle stages, looked in strife at the 300m, but just kept rallying to win in a blistering 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2130m. Buzz pacer and leading WA Cup contender Mighty Conqueror loomed as the winner on he home bend, but went into a gallop for no reason and lost all hope. The five-year-old oozes talent, but never really looks fully comfortable around the tight Gloucester Park track. _________________________________________________________________________________________ TWO of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s brightest stars, Ride High and The Storm Inside, added to their stunning records with wins at Melton last night (Saturday). The immensely talented Ride High made it 10 wins (and a third) from just 11 starts when he survived a late scare to win the Westburn Grant free-for-all in a 1min55.3sec mile rate for 2240m. He’s building nicely towards races like the Ballarat and Hunter Cups as well as the Miracle Mile. While the injury-plagued The Storm Inside had to pull out everything in scorching time to post his 15th win (and two seconds) from just 17 starts. The six-year-old won by a whisker from Reigning Pepper and they went a 1min52sec mile rate for 1720m. The margin was small, but the times, especially the 54.4sec last half, underlined he enormity of the win. _________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see racing back at the historic Wayville track in Adelaide again last Friday night. It was the second “retro” meeting at the tiny track which was the home of SA’s harness racing for so long before Globe Derby. And Lance Justice, who rarely drives in Victoria these days, loved getting back to Wayville, winning the first two of the six races on the night. He also finished second in another two.   Adam Hamilton

Just hours after this year’s Inter Dominion pacing champion is crowned at Alexandra Park, last year’s winner will return to racing in Australia. Mighty warhorse Tiger Tara steps out in Menangle’s Group 3 Alf Phillis free-for-all (2300m) at 10.58pm NZ time Saturday night. It will be he $2.37 million-earner’s first start since finishing fourth at Menangle on September 20. And, just for good measure, his rivals include another proven superstar, former Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal. Tim Butt’s star hasn’t raced since being retired from this year’s Miracle Mile back on March 2 with cardiac arrythmia. Butt has been open in saying this race will go a long way to deciding whether My Field Marshal heads to Perth for next month’s big Group 1 double – the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups. My Field Marshal won the Fremantle Cup last year then ran a fantastic race for fourth in the WA Pacing Cup. In contrast, Tiger Tara is definitely WA-bound, according to trainer Kevin Pizzuto. The last time Tiger Tara was in Perth was for the 2017 Inter Dominion series where he won a heat, finished second in his other two heats then led and ran third to the amazing Lazarus in the Grand Final. While Tiger Tara (gate 10) and My Field Marshal (gate 11) have class on their rivals this week, lack of racing and their wide draws won’t make life easy against some classy rivals. The emerging Ignatius will be fitter for one run back from a spell and gets gate three, while speedy beginner Alta Orlando may be the leader and take catching from barrier two.   Adam Hamilton

Sending Hail Christian back to Sydney was an easy decision for Paul Court. And it only took one race to see why. The talented son of Christian Cullen blasted his way to a career-best 1min50sec mile win in the free-for-all at Menangle last night (Saturday). “There’s just no point him being in NZ,” Court said. “He had that terrific campaign in Sydney late last year and earlier this year, then came home and couldn’t win a race at home (NZ). “He loves the Menangle track, the tempo of the race and there are so many better opportunities there for him.” Hail Christian’s 10 starts back in NZ after his previous NSW stint earned him just $31,050. He pocketed $15,600 for last night’s win alone. Driver Blake Fitzpatrick settled Hail Christian three back on the inside while favourite Cash N Flow worked across in a quick 26.6sec opening quarter to lead. Things got messy halfway down the straight when Fitzpatrick angled into the clear and appeared to contact the tiring Harjeet, who went roughly. But Hail Christian exploded when clear to win by 3.2m in closing splits of 54.4 and 27.2sec. Another winner of note at Menangle was two-time Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter. The now 10-year-old’s 1min52.2sec mile win was a a another great advertisement for Shane Tritton’s ability to turn around former stars and underlined the opportunities in the NSW handicapping system. It also took Flaming Flutter’s earnings past $800,000. It was a big night for Team Tritton win a treble. The other winners were former Kiwi pair Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star. __________________________________________________________________________________________ POPULAR WA trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan admitted it took a while to start celebrating his latest Group 1 win with Sangue Reale. That’s largely because Sangue Reale wasn’t first past the post and had “win” the $125,000 Group 1 4YO Classic (2130m) in the stewards’ room. But, the stewards’ footage showed enough interference from “winner” Shockwave in the closing stages for the result to be overturned. “I don’t think I have ever felt that strange after winning a big race,” Brennan said. Sangue Reale stormed home and looked like running past a very gallant Shockwave before they came together in the closing stages and the margin was just a nose. And Sangue Reale’s win showed his shock second as $31 shot to $81 outsider Theo Aviator in the first of WA’s major 4YO races a couple of weeks back was no fluke. Sangue Reale was $71 again last night and Theo Aviator finished third at $51. Driver Chris “The Voak Train” Voak deserved huge credit for both his patient drive on Sangue Reale and compelling evidence in the stewards’ room. The race was ferociously contested from the start when plunge runner Bletchley Park led, but buzz pacer Wildwest worked forward and Gran Chico kicked-up in the middle. The lead time was a slick 36.4sec and a fiercely-pulling Bletchley Park then ran a scorching 57.2sec middle half. He weakened to run eighth, while Wildwest was basically eased out of the race after stopping from the 700m. Gran Chico, the recent high-priced Kiwi import, did plenty of early work then sat one-one and battled away fairly into a distant sixth spot. It all makes for a fascinating “grand final” of WA 4YO features in the Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park on December 14. __________________________________________________________________________________________ YOUNG gun trainer-driver Aiden De Campo only had to wait 24 hours to get some consolation for having the Group 1 4YO Championship win taken off him. De Campo’s drive Shockwave was first across the line, but lost on protest to Sangue Reale in the Championship. But De Campo led throughout on the rejuvenated Handsandwheels, who he trains and drives, in the $50,000 Group 2 Bunbury Cup last night (Saturday). The former WA Derby winner has found career-best form heading towards the state’s biggest races, the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, in January. Handsandwheels worked to the front from gate six, dictated through a steady 59.9sec middle half, then zipped home in 56.4 and 28.7sec to easily hold-off Convert Denario, who trailed him. Vultan Tin closed well for third, while favourite Mighty Conqueror sat parked, never really threatened the leader and battled away fairly for fourth. The Bunbury Cup has been a strong form pointer over the years, being won by Im Themightyquinn in 2010 and last year’s winner Rocknroll Lincoln went on to win the WA Pacing Cup. __________________________________________________________________________________________ JOT down Born To Be Watched as a serious Victoria Derby player. Top trainer Emma Stewart already has nominal Derby favourite Be Happy Mach, but Born To Be Watched turn plenty of heads with a stunning debut win at Melton last night (Saturday). The Hes Watching colt did plenty of work, but roared clear to win by 19.4m in a slick 1min54.6sec, including a 27.6sec closing quarter. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S great to see former megastar juvenile trotter Wobelee emerging as a serious open-class player. The now five-year-old has built nicely on the comeback trail from injury. His 10 runs have back have netted five wins and five seconds, including three wins on end. Wobelee’s Melton win last night was his 18th victory from 28 starts and took his earnings to $324,089. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see hugely exciting pacer Ideal Liner resume from injury with a good second at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was always a big ask from out deep in gate seven with favourite Ocean Ridge leading from the pole, but Ideal Liner sat parked and was just 2.3m away in a 56.6sec last half. The betting indicated he needed the run, but time will tell whether he can build and improve quickly enough for the Fremantle and WA Cups in January.   By Adam Hamilton

YOU have to wonder if Jimmy Rattray had second thoughts about pulling the pin on an Auckland Inter Dominion raid. His stable newcomer Harjeet made quite an impression and smashed the clock winning his first run for Rattray at Menangle on Saturday night. Harjeet was Tasmania’s best pacer when trained by Rattray’s brother, Todd, in the Apple Isle before being sent to Jimmy to continue his career a few months back. Late last week, Jimmy scratched Harjeet and stable star Ignatius from the Auckland series. Harjeet did a power of early work and copped pressure in front before powering his way to a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2300m, just 1.1sec outside Clancys Fobwatch’s track record. “He’s settled in well and it was great to be able to get a run in a class below free-for-all for his first try up here,” Rattray said. “It’s exciting to have a horse like him join Ignatius here. “I’ve got no doubt Harjeet will do a terrific job here, but it’ll be interesting to see just how far he goes.” Harjeet draws so many natural comparisons with the mighty Beautide, who won two Inter Dominions at Menangle for the Rattray clan. Both left Tassie as the state’s best pacer at the peak of their careers and with great staying prowess. Meanwhile, Ignatius has his second trial back at Menangle on Monday in preparation for a racetrack return. “I deliberately gave him a soft trial last week, but we’ll be getting a lot more serious this week,” Rattray said. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ LAST year’s Inter Dominion consolation winner Ellmers Image opened his preparation for this year’s Auckland series with a fighting second at Menangle last night (Saturday). Amanda Turnbull’s stable star drew wide, but kept working forward to take the lead from favourite and main danger Alta Orlando after 400m of the 2300m Group 3 free-for-all. Just when it seemed Ellmers Image was doing enough to hold-off Alta Orlando, John McCarthy’s five-year-old Jack Farthing exploded out of the pack to overhaul them both. No doubt Ellmers Image will be fitter for the run and Turnbull will look for another run for him before the Auckland series kicks-off with the first round of heats on November 29 at Alexandra Park. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FANS may have to wait a little longer to see one of Australia’s buzz horses back in the big league. Former superstar juvenile Lumineer, who made it 12 wins from just 13 starts at Melton last night (Saturday), looks set to bypass a clash with Colt Thirty One and another comeback star Ride High next Saturday. It’s the Group 2 4&5YO Championship, a race Grant Dixon is using to sharpen-up Colt Thirty One for his Auckland Inter Dominon assault. And Emma Stewart has the race earmarked for Ride High’s comeback race from a long injury-enforced stint on the sidelines. He smashed the clock at the Ballarat trials recently. Lumineer has the talent to test them both, but trainer Ange McDowall won’t commit to running. “He’ll be nominated, but he’s only had 13 lifetime starts and it would be a quick back-up from this week, so I’m erring on picking something a little easier for now,” she said. Lumineer was stunning last night, seemingly cruising his way to a 9.6m win in a slick 1min52.8sec mile rate for 1730m. Just 0.8sec slower than Phoenix Prince ran in the Sokyola Sprint, the free-for-all, on the same night. “Jason (Lee, driver) said he did it easily too, which is the main thing,” McDowall said. “I’m sure I’ve got the old Lumineer back, but we’ve got some tinkering to do because he’s so goofy at the races. He wants to loaf, wander about and look around.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER All Stars’ pacer Motu Premier emerged as a key player for WA’s biggest races with a superb Gloucester Park win last Friday night. The now seven-year-old has had his issues during a couple of years with trainer Ross Olivieri in Perth, but he’s right back to his best. Motu Premier sustained a long run from back in the field and lifted after looking beaten to edge-out Perth’s buzz pacer Mighty Conqueror in the Parliamentarians Cup. They blazed a 1min54.4sec mile rate for the 2130m. Mighty Conqueror had a good run then moved to the “death” to control the race, he looked home when he pinched a break at the top of the straight, but Motu Premier wouldn’t be denied. Motu Premier won by a half a neck despite covering extra ground from back in the field in closing splits of 55.5 and 27.7sec. The son of Bettor's Delight was sidelined for a year and the win, one of the best of his career, came at his fifth run on the comeback trail. Another impressive winner on the night was former NZ and Queensland pacer Bill Haley, who made it two-from-two for new WA trainer Deb Lewis. The five-year-old showed his now trademark lethal turn of speed to beat a good field, including last season’s glamour three-year-old filly Dracarys. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE brilliant Phoenix Prince lifted off the canvas to win arguably the most important race of his career in last night’s Sokyola Sprint (1720m) at Melton. Emma Stewart’s speedy gelding looked hard to beat when he snared gate two and, even more so, when he led and “pinched” a 30.1sec first quarter. It was game-on from there with splits of 28.1, 26.9 and 27.6sec and Phoenix Prince looked to be headed by Lance Justice’s stable star Rishi in the last 50m before lifting to win by a nose. They went a sharp 1min52sec mile rate. It took Phoenix Prince’s record to an impressive 14 wins from just 26 starts and earnings of almost $125,000.

DANNY Scanlan qualified for today's KARI J.C. Caffyn Indigenous Drivers Plate final by the barest possible margin, .1 of a point, after a competitive series of harness races all around the state.   But there was no such tiny margin in today's feature as lightly-raced gelding Ziggy Rocks put paid to a quality field to take the race . . . and etch Scanlan's name into the history books.   It was an emotional Scanlan that took to the podium to thanks "his girls" and a small army of supporters after Ziggy Rocks came with a withering burst to beat My Major Rocket (Hayden Green) and Mach Le More (Jinaya Niass) by 5.5m in a 1:55.6 mile rate (last half in 56.5s).   "It's been a long, long time since I last won a race here at Menangle," said Scanlan.   "Of course it hasn't been helped when I've contested this series and most of the horses have been 100-1 in past years.   "This horse, trained by Gemma Rue and owned by Menangle committeeman Dan Cordina, is probably the best horse I have been able to steer in the half a dozen times I've competed in this series.   "It sure helps, I can tell you."   Scanlan did drive the son of Pet Rock to perfection, landing an ideal one-one trail before peeling wide on the home turn and quickly rounding up his rivals for a strong win.   It was a deserved victory for one of the men who has become a mainstay of this Indigenous Drivers series.   Scanlan contested heats at Albury, Young and even Tamworth, meaning he covered many kilometres from his Cessnock base just to qualify for the final day. In the end, the .1 of as point didn't matter as he added his name to some quality horsemen and women who have won this series since it was first inaugurated in 2011.   "It's a pretty special race to win and we all want to win it," said Scanlan.   "It's taken me a while, which makes this win even more special."     Sean Vella  

EXPERIENCED harness racing identity Robert Marshall is the new chairman of Australia’s biggest harness racing centre, Club Menangle. Marshall was elected to the position unanimously by the new board following the club’s Annual General Meeting. He replaces long-serving chairman Ray Sharman, who steps down after serving a maximum six-year term as chairman. Michael Brown has been elected deputy chairman with former harness journalist Bill Ellis retaining the role of executive director. Marshall boasts an extensive background in harness racing as well as club administration. He first joined this club’s board in 1991 before vacating the role in 1999 to take up a position on the board of Harness Racing NSW. He also took a position on the Harness Racing Regulatory Authority before returning to the Club Menangle board in 2013. Marshall has previously been NSW delegate to Harness Racing Australia and chairman of the Inter Dominion Council. “It is an absolute honour to be chairman of the principal club,” said Marshall. “This club has made outstanding progress in recent years and I look forward to working with my fellow directors to ensure that we make the most of the opportunities which lie ahead. “The entire racing industry faces a number of challenges and it is important that our club takes on a leadership role.”    Outgoing chairman, Ray Sharman said it had been a privilege to serve as the chairman for the past 6 years. “During that time the board has continued the momentum we received from the sale of Harold Park and laid the foundation for the future of our club and the harness racing industry,” he said. 

FOR the majority of the harness racing industry, it’s the ‘bread and butter’ races that really matter.   So owners and trainers will be thrilled to hear Club Menangle has announced quite substantial increases to those regular races by adding to the levels of metropolitan prizemoney.   The changes, which commence from 1 November 2019, include: • Minimum prizemoney on a metropolitan program rising from $11,000 to $14,000; • Tier-3 prizemoney going up from $16,000 to $18,000; • Tier-2 prizemoney races will increase from $22,000 to $24,000; • The premier club will also introduce a second $20,000 division of the M0 each month.   But wait, there’s more!   There will also be some changes to the “Where Horses Fly” Country Series.   The finals of that popular series will now be run on alternate weeks and an additional race will be added to each of these programs.   This ensures that country participants still get the opportunity to race at Tabcorp Park Menangle while not reducing the racing opportunities for the pool of metropolitan horses.   Through the cooperation of Club Menangle and Harness Racing NSW, these changes will add $750,000 to the metropolitan prizemoney distribution over the course of a full year.   Club Menangle has already worked with HRNSW to increase midweek prizemoney from $7,500 per race to $9,000.   At the other end of the racing scale, the Club has again combined forces with HRNSW to run the Ainsworth Miracle Mile for $1 million.   According to Club Menangle CEO Bruce Christison:   “While it is vital that we offer incentives to race at the elite level, it is just as important that we improve stakes for the horses that are racing week-in and week- out at the metropolitan level.   “The Club continues to work closely with both the participants and HRNSW as evidenced by the agreed need to increase opportunities for mares, which has been facilitated by the recent introduction of additional open-class mares’ racing.   “Whilst it is always a priority to maximise prizemoney, our Club also has a responsibility to its members to ensure that these levels are affordable and sustainable.   “This year we saw prizemoney return to the levels of two years ago and the increases announced today will take prizemoney to record highs.   “Since the sale of Harold Park we have experienced changes in financial markets never seen before, which have resulted in record low interest-rate levels.   “I am pleased to say that decisions made by the board and management over the past two years have seen strong investment performances over that time, despite the challenging environment.”   Christison explained that the Club would continue to monitor the performance of its investment fund.   “With the ongoing pressure on wagering-related revenue the Club will continue to look at ways of diversifying revenue streams with the latest example the introduction of the seven-day a week club, due to open in January,” he said.   “The prizemoney increases announced today, combined with the introduction by HRNSW of the $1m TAB Pace in May next year, reinforces the position of NSW as the premier harness racing state.”   Mandy Madern Social Media & Trot Guide Co Ordinator Club Menangle

Champion former Kiwi harness racing trainer-driver Anthony Butt and his partner Sonya Smith are looking forward enthusiastically to their next chapter in the industry. The pair this week took over the role of preparing a big team owned by passionate and big spending entrepreneur Emilio Rosati and his wife Mary, at Menangle, Sydney. Rosati is a driving force behind Form 700, one of Australia's leading construction companies. "It was an opportunity which really come out of the blue. But it was too good to pass up and we are so excited," Inter Dominion Hall of Famer Anthony Butt said. The door opened for Butt and Smith when renowned North American horseman Noel "Oz" Daley decided to return to the United States. Daley is an Australian and took up the private trainer role for the Rosatis in February after returning home. He's decided to head back to the US, but not without amassing an impressive strike rate in his short time at the helm, preparing 13 winners (three in the metro) and 28 placings from 67 starters for $128,000. Butt said after being approached by Rosati, they took time to think over the offer. "Sonya and I thought it over for two days, and in the end decided it was a wonderful opening. It was an absolute pleasure to be walking into a barn full of horses in such brilliant condition," Butt said. "Noel is a master at conditioning horses. His outstanding US record speaks for itself," he said. "We've started off with 20 horses, with another 10 to soon come in. The stock includes so many that are well bred and we just can't wait to get into them." Butt, since starting out as a 17 year old in 1983, has won close to every major race across Australasia - more than 2160 wins including well over 100 Group One successes. He and Smith had a four-year stint in Victoria after crossing the Tasman in 2014, then decided 12 months ago to move to Sydney where brother Tim was well set up at Menangle. "We had a team of eight in work so some of these have gone to Tim and a few others down to Melbourne," Butt said. "I've known Emilio for many years. He always travelled over to New Zealand when the sales were on. I had a successful run for him earlier this year when I drove three Group One winners for him over the Winter months. "We are keeping the same staff members that were here with Noel. So it was virtually a case of Noel going out and us coming in. "Working with big numbers of horses is nothing new for us because when I was with Tim he always loved having plenty about." The first runners for the Butt-Rosati combination will appear at Menangle next Tuesday in the form of Moonshine Stride, Crystal Stride, Typhoon Stride, Always A Stride and Kiwi Stride. In the late 1970s, one of the first horses to be owned by Emilio and Mary was a more than useful pacer in Stride High. He had leg issues but still managed 11 or 12 wins under their ownership. It's a result of this that the couple apply the "Stride" suffix to their horses' names.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

That was one heck of a return. Bling It On didn’t just win his comeback race at Menangle last night, he blew his rivals away and made quite the statement. First-up after injury and stints at stud sidelined him for 16 months, the former superstar pacer scorched a personal best 1min50.2sec mile and won seemingly without fuss by 7.5m. The win didn’t surprise co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy, who gave him a superb run behind the leader Loorim Creek, but only after buzzing off the gate from barrier five. Bling It On saw daylight at the top of the straight and quickly put the race beyond doubt, cruising to the line in closing splits of 54.6 and 27.3sec. “It’s great to have him come out and do that, but he was ready. We had him very fit,” McCarthy said. “He’s been in work six months and, as I said before the race, he’d had a couple of private trials before that Menangle trial the other day. “We’ve been so happy with him. There’s no way we’d have gone this far unless we felt he was as good as ever. We think too much of him.” McCarthy confirmed Bling It On would now go straight into the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton next Saturday week (October 12). “We’re not worried about going straight into the deep end because we have him so fit and this win just reinforced that,” he said. “We’re sure he’ll be very competitive in all those big races the way he’s come back.”  As McCarthy said before the stunning return win, Bling It On is set to head to Auckland for the Inter Dominion, starting on November 29.  “We’ll probably freshen him up a little after the Victoria Cup, then have him peaking again for the start of the Inters,” he said.  Bling It On’s comeback win was his first victory since scoring at Menangle on December 16, 2017.   Adam Hamilton

The strong Sydney-based "Lucky Lodge" stable of KerryAnn and Robert Morris could be making more frequent trips to the north in the future. "If we have the right team to suit the racing in Queensland we will definitely pack up and head there again," Robert said. "Over the past few years we've just gone up there once each season, but we're now thinking we might try and do it perhaps two or three times annually. Just whenever it suits," he said. The Menangle-based husband-and-wife team combined to win more than a dozen races during their recent Sunshine State campaign, earning well over $70,000 in just under three weeks. "I took up a team of nine, which is a few more than we normally take. Previously it's been more like four to six," Robert said. "We were so lucky to be based at Grant Dixon's stables at Tamborine, which is a lovely setting," he said. "While we have probably won bigger races during our previous trips, the horses were at the top of their game and we were able to be fairly consistent in the first four. Considering we had a bit of a dry start to the new season, it was certainly enjoyable and successful." Robert last month drove the 1300th winner of his career and was at his very best at Albion Park. In a consistent run of success, he picked up stable winning trebles and doubles and some handy driving engagements for other teams. The campaigning team included Fat Prophet, Squire, Prophesy, Pembrooks Passion, Aztec Bromac, Stormont Star, Our Sequel and former Kiwi Cruzy Dude who won at three consecutive meetings at "the creek." The stable sold one horse and also left a few others up there. "When we looked at some of the events coming up over the next month, we thought it was best to leave them in Queensland," he said. And Robert didn't waste any time in continuing his fine touch after arriving back home. He scored with six-year-old gelding I Am Serengeti (Art Major-Gotta Go Hype (Christian Cullen) at Menangle on Tuesday and stablehand Joe Moka also got into the act by scoring with Fat Prophet (American Ideal-Andaman (Sokys Atom) in the claimer. Both are trained by KerryAnn.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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

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