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Tonights harness racing meeting at Menangle was the centre of attention for a lot of harness racing fans in Australia as the two Group 3 $30,000 semi finals of the Australian Pacing Gold for two year old colts and geldings were run. The first semi pitched two unbeaten colts in the form of the Sportswriter colt Kingofthestars and the son of Somebeachsomewhere in Our Waikiki Beach against each other and it was a two horse race from the moment the gate folded. Our Waikiki Beach with Mark Purdon in the bike flew the gate from barrier five to grab the early lead with Kingofthestars and Nathan Jack sliding across from barrier eight to settle in the trail. Mark Purdon was able to dictate the tempo in front with Our Waikiki Beach until the 500 metres mark when Nathan angled Kingofthestars out into the running line and attacked Our Waikiki Beach. Just when it looked like Kingofthestars was going to make a race of it, Mark Purdon pushed the go button and Waikiki Beach scooted away from Kingofthestars for an easy victory by eight metres with Herehecomes a further eighteen metres back in third. Our Waikiki Beach paced the mile in 1:56.1 with the last 800 metres in 56.9  and 400 metres in 26.6. It was another super impressive run from Our Waikiki Beach and he looms as one of the two main chances for the final. Our Waikiki Beach The second semi final was billed as a match race between the unbeaten son of Somebeachsomewhere in Goodtime Sammy and the son of Village Jolt in Christmas Jolt who had won five of six this season. Goodtime Sammy and Nathan Jack lead easily from barrier two with Christmas Jolt and Kerryn Manning going forward from barrier six to sit on his wheel. Nathan backed the speed off in the second quarter before applying the blowtorch from the 800 metres with a quarter down the back in 28.3 which had Christmas Jolt struggling on the corner. The talented son of Rocknroll Hanover in Born To Rocknroll with John McCarthy in the bike had been sitting in the trail the whole way and came out as they turned for home to challenge the leader. But try as he might, Born To Rocknroll couldn't take any ground off Goodtime Sammy who went on to win the semi final in a smart 1:54.1. Born To Rocknroll held second with the son of Major In Art in Brallas Pass running on well for third. The closing sectionals of 55.6 and 27 .3 by Goodtime Sammy were impressive and he looked to still have some petrol in the tank at the finish. The final of the Australian Pacing Gold for two year old colts and geldings on April 26th looks a two horse race after tonights semi finals. The two sons of Somebeachsomewhere in Our Waikiki Beach and Goodtime Sammy look a class above the rest of the opposition and the outcome may be decided by who draws best in the final. Goodtime Sammy Harnesslink Media      

Talented New Zealand harness racing performer Smolda kicked off his latest Aussie campaign on a winning note at Penrith last night. Sent across the Tasman to tackle several feature targets, Smolda annexed the popular Renshaw Cup. With trainer Mark Purdon in the cart, the son of Courage Under Fire scored with ease from Yayas Hot Spot and Blazin N Cullen. Covering the last half in a slick 55.9 seconds, Smolda rated 1:56.7 for the 2525-metre journey, with his time slicing a second off Blazin N Cullen’s track record established in last season’s Cup. Pleased with Smolda’s performance, Purdon stated the outing will “top off” the gelding heading into his main mission – Len Smith Mile. The Group One is scheduled to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 26. “He went super last night and never felt like he was going to be beaten,” Purdon said. “He has been racing well at home without a lot of luck, but tonight he showed he is at the top of his game. "I will keep him ticking along for the Len Smith Mile in 10 days.” Smolda’s success was the opening leg of a double for Purdon, who also scored with exciting youngster Follow The Stars. PAUL COURTS

Former US pacer Johny Rock started his harness racing career competing against the best juveniles in North America.  He raced in the 2013 Meadowlands Pace behind Captaintreacherous and after being purchased by an Australasian syndicate made his way to New Zealand to be trained by Graham and Paul Court. The son of Rocknroll Hanover has had eight starts across the Tasman and has been placed four times with a third behind Vice Chairman in 1:51.9 the pick of his runs.  On Saturday night Johny Rock will have his first Australian start when he steps out in a heat of the Carousel at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Paul Court arrived in Sydney on Wednesday in preparation for the weekend and is interested to see how Johny Rock competes in Australian conditions. “I think he is going to be better suited in Australia than he has been back in New Zealand. There tends to be genuine speed in the races in Australia and that is probably because the drivers in New Zealand are a little more conservative,” Court said. “The horse has come a long way since he has arrived in New Zealand, he had a bit of an attitude and had to adjust a great deal to our style of racing which has taken some time but I’m happy with the transition he has made.” Johny Rock needed to learn to relax in his races on arrival. “He just wanted to run his rivals ragged when he first got here and that didn’t suit the racing pattern so he needed to learn to sit in and peel off a 26 second final quarter rather than just running flat chat and getting home in 28. “It might come as a bit of a surprise to a few who don’t know the horse that well but he is a great stayer and I’m sure we will see the best of him in Australia.” Saturday night’s race makes for an interesting comparison.  Johny Rock has banked $405,653 while his rivals combined have won $311,256. “He is only assessed C3 in Australia so he does look well placed and has drawn well but he will probably be lacking a little bit of race fitness. He will be at his best when he can race week to week which will definitely be available in Sydney.” “I’m not sure how long we will stay over for, we will play it by ear. It probably all depends on how he is racing because if he is going well and handling the conditions then it makes sense to stay.”  Greg Hayes

The road to the Australian Pacing Gold Final continues at Menangle on Saturday night with two semi-finals for the two-year-old harness racing colts and geldings. The first semi features seven Victorians, while the second semi five runners representing the Big V. Heats six and seven of the Carousel are also on the program, with two Victorians in each qualifier. Trainer Dean Braun will prepare three of the four Victorian Carousel combatants. Victorians in action at Menangle on Saturday night are: Race 3 – Lands Legal Carousel Heat 6: Liv Lavish (Dean Braun, Nathan Jack), Vinny Chase (Ahmed Taiba) Race 4 – APG 2YO Colts and Geldings Semi-Final 1: Herehecomes (Stephen O’Donoghue, Rebecca Bartley), Firenglow (Glenn Douglas, Jim Douglass), Wotchawaitingfor (Marnie Bibby, Darren Hancock), The Jet Player (Darren Cole, Tim McLean), Moonlight Man (Glenn Douglas), Most Happy Cullen (Gary Quinlan, Blake Fitzpatrick), Kingofthestars (Emma Stewart, Nathan Jack). Race 5 – Lands Legal Carousel Heat 7: Upanatom (Dean Braun, Nathan Jack), Glenferrie College (Dean Braun, Todd McCarthy) Race 6 – APG 2YO Colts and Geldings Semi-Final 2: Soho Lexington (Michael Stanley), Goodtime Sammy (Emma Stewart, Nathan Jack), Christmas Jolt  (Peter Manning, Kerryn Manning), Saint Tommy (Glenn Douglas), Brallos Pass (Mark Watson, Gavin Fitzpatrick) Race 7 – MIR Group Pace: Saint Flash (Glenn Douglas) Race 8 – Marsdens Law Group Pace: Villagem (Glenn Douglas), Im Corzin Terror (Amanda Grieve, Nathan Jack) Race 9 – Wests Ashfield Leagues Ladyship Pace: Shakchloe (Stephen O’Donoghue, Rebecca Bartley). Race 10 – Im Supreme (Peter Manning, Kerryn Manning) HRV Media

Talented pacer Smolda will begin his Australian harness racing campaign on Thursday night when he races in the Group Two Renshaw Cup at Penrith. Trained by leading New Zealand horseman Mark Purdon, Smolda's last outing resulted in a fifth behind Christen Me in the Easter Cup at Addington on April 4. "There was another race that we could have targeted in New Zealand, but I wasn't sure whether there would be enough starters, so I decided to bring him to Australia and the Renshaw Cup is a good starting point for him," Purdon said. "He hasn't had a lot of racing this season, and if he was to be spelled now, it would be a lengthy break because there would be no reason to bring him back until the New Zealand Cup. He can have a few starts in Sydney and then I will think about taking him to Queensland for the Winter Carnvial." Smolda's last Australia start was in the 2014 Inter Dominion when he finished fourth behind Beautide. "I watched Beautide at Menangle on Saturday night, he's just a great horse and looks to be unstoppable on that track, so he is going to be hard to beat in the Len Smith Mile," Purdon declared. Purdon is unsure of Smolda's ability to handle the smaller Penrith track. "He's always brushed a knee, so the bigger tracks are better for him, but he has been working well at the McCarthy property since he arrived late last week in Australia," Purdon said. "There are some talented horses in the Renshaw Cup and he is going to have to be close to his best off the second row draw." Last season's boom youngster Follow The Stars will also compete at Penrith, with the son of Art Major engaged in a C1 event. With a number of talented horses in his stable, Purdon is considering travelling between New Zealand and Australia more often than he has in the past. "It is quite possible that we will do more travelling now," Purdon said. "With the calibre of horses we have in the stable it makes sense that the better races are targeted." "Nat (Rasmussen) and I have a great staff at home in New Zealand, and with such a good team behind us, it gives us the opportunity to be away from home more often than we have been before." Purdon's smart two-year-old Our Waikiki Beach will compete at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night  in a semi-final of the Australian Pacing Gold. "I was really happy with him after he won his heat, he worked really well this morning (Tuesday) and the draw isn't too bad for Our Waikiki Beach this weekend," Purdon said. "I haven't asked him to leave the gate yet, but he would have plenty of speed early if I wanted to use it." My Mackenzie was beaten as a short priced favourite in a APG heat for two-year-old fillies at Menangle last Saturday night and Purdon will be looking for some improvement when she heads to Melbourne for the semi-finals. "She has a few little issues that we need to straighten out after Saturday night, she is a work in progress but she has her fair share of ability too," Purdon said. - HRNSW Media

Grand campaigner Smoken Up loved the 1400-metre track at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  He won seven Group Ones on the circuit, including four Len Smith Miles, and as a result, the stabling complex was named in the gelding’s honour.  Dual Inter Dominion champion Beautide will attempt to win his sixth Group One race at Menangle when he competes in the Len Smith Mile on Sunday, April 26. Beautide returned to racing last Saturday night for the first time since winning last month’s Inter Dominion and battered his rivals in an impressive display.  The son of Bettors Delight covered the mile in 1:50.7, with trainer-driver James Rattray proud of his stable star, but understandably turned his attention towards the gelding’s next start. “That win should top him right off, he should be spot on for the Len Smith Mile next time out,” Rattray said. “He felt great on Saturday night. He’s right on top of his game even though he’s only had the one trial since the Inter Dominion. He has been working well and looks a treat.” Smoken Up’s seven top shelf triumphs at Menangle include two Miracle Miles, a Cordina Sprint and the four Len Smith Miles.  Beautide’s five victories consist of two Inter Dominions, a Miracle Mile, a Len Smith Mile and a Coca-Cola Sprint. “To train a horse that has won $2 million, two Inter Dominions, a Miracle Mile and another couple of Group Ones that the family bred is just amazing,” Rattray said. Rattray is still undecided on which direction he will go with Beautide after the Len Smith Mile. “I will consider all options with him after Sunday week, including Queensland,” Rattray said. “We’ll just get him ready for that and plan out a program afterwards.” “To defend his Inter Dominion title in Perth is the plan and I’m sort of half thinking about the New Zealand Cup too. “That’s an option, we’ll just see where we are at.” HRNSW Media

Drouin West harness racing trainer Gary Quinlan stands a good chance of continuing his great run of success in the rich Australian Pacing Gold series. Gary and his wife Debbie prepared Queen Of Pop to win the Two-Year-Old Fillies Final last year, and also won the same division with Musical Delight in 2012. In 2015, they have three live chances across the divisions of the rich event. Most Happy Cullen, owned by a big Gippsland syndicate, contests a Semi-Final of the Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings division in Sydney this Saturday night. After a solid workout at the Warragul Pacing Bowl last Saturday morning, Most Happy Cullen is ready to perform his best, and leaves for Sydney on Wednesday. In his racetrack debut at Melton recently, Most Happy Cullen came from well back to finish an impressive second in an Australian Pacing Gold Heat. Most Happy Cullen is a son of former brilliant Gippsland mare Jazzam, bred and raced by the Fusinato family. The hardest to beat in the Colts and Geldings division appears to be the top Kiwi youngster Waikiki Beach - ironically also bred by the Fusinato's, being out of their other top race mare Cyclone Betty. Most Happy Cullen and Waikiki Beach spent plenty of time together as youngsters - Most Happy Cullen was able to match it with Waikiki Beach when the yearlings tore around the paddock, so it will be interesting to see how they measure up on track when they meet again. The Quinlan stable won both heats of the Fillies division of the Australian Pacing Gold staged at Melton last Friday night with Sahara Sunrise and Magical Delight. Sahara Sunrise had run some nice races without winning before her breakthrough victory on Friday, while Magical Delight was having her first race start. Both horses raced on the pace throughout and won nicely, well rated by driver Chris Alford. The $322,000 Colts and Geldings Final will be staged at Menangle in Sydney on Sunday, April 26, while the Fillies do battle for the same stake closer to home at Melton on Saturday, May 2 after Semi-Finals a week earlier.   Kyle Galley

Thursday 9th April 2015 - Riverina harness racing trainer Paul Kahledfeldt had a decision to make with multiple Gr.1 winner Lettucerockthem in the lead up to this weekend. The likable horseman had nominated the son of Art Major for the Carousel heats at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night and the S & C Club West Wyalong Pacers Cup on Sunday afternoon. After weighing up both options Kahlefeldt made the decision to chase Carnival Of Cups success at the big West Wyalong meeting. "I had a couple of options with him at Menangle and I was very tempted to go that way but I just thought I might keep him a bit closer to home and race in the West Wyalong Cup," Kahlefeldt said. "I've won a few of the country cups but I don't think I have won the West Wyalong Cup so it would be nice to pick it up this weekend." Kahlefeldt is mindful the four year old has only had two runs back from a spell and wants Lettucerockthem to be peaking for the Pepper Tree Farms Breeders Challenge later in the season. "He's had the two runs back this season and I've travelled him up to Sydney both times, I'm building him towards peak fitness and this weekend is another important step towards the Breeders Challenge." "For the time being I will continue to train him, he has obviously been trained by Belinda McCarthy previously but he is racing well at the moment and he is running some fantastic times on my track at home." Reinsman Matt Rue will be reunited with Lettucerockthem for the first time since the NSW Derby heats last season. Rue drove Lettucerockthem to victory in the Australian Pacing Gold for two year olds in 2013. "Mat hasn't driven him a lot actually but he did win the APG on him and he is going to drive him for me this weekend." Kahlefeldt will have three other runners at the West Wyalong meeting this weekend. "Lettucedance (race 2) has promised the world and hasn't really delivered, she is a sister to Bamako Mail and Sheezallattitude and I think she's at her best when she is really keen in her races." "My other two horses are in the last, Refused Service is going to win a race soon and that will mean Matthew Harrington should get his first winner as a driver while Major Kiwi has had a few issues but did win a race a few starts ago at Leeton." While Kahlefeldt is busy with all of his business interests he will be forced to take a short break from training in the near future. "We had 21 in work at one stage but we are back to a dozen, I ran my tenth Melbourne marathon last October and I broke down badly in my hip and after some scans the doctors have confirmed I need a hip replacement." "All of the running I have done over the years has come back to bite me, they tell me I will only be out of action for a couple of months, hopefully I can fit in the operation sometime in the next six months but it is definitely going to slow me down for a while." Greg Hayes

Harness Racing New Zealand has made the first invite to an Australian horse for this years Harness Jewels at Ashburton. Salty Robyn, a two year old colt by Art Official in the Shane Tritton barn has impressed  in a short Australian career to date since being purchased out of Andrew Armour's barn late last year. At just his second lifetime start in the Sapling Stakes at Menangle, Salty Robyn went under by a short half head to star two year old Bettermatch in a smart 1:53.6. Next up he won in 1:53.9 before turning in an outstanding performance to win the $50,000 Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial in 1:53.9 after an early gallop saw him settle well back in the field before he just rushed past them in the straight for a breathtaking win. The winner of $44,600 from his four lifetime starts, the colt looks like he will be well suited by the 1400 metres track at Ashburton for the Harness Jewels.  Trainer Shane Tritton had been planning a New Zealand campaign even before he received the Harness Jewels invitation. " It is something we were looking at because he is not paid up for any of the big stakes races here in Australia." " He will be in New Zealand for the Sires Stakes heat at Addington on April 23rd and then hopefully onwards to the final." " Ashburton should really suit him and the Jewels invite makes the trip very worthwhile." " He feels like an older horse when you sit behind him and I think he will be very competitive in New Zealand," Shane said. Getting Australian horses involved with the Harness Jewels has been on the radar for Harness Racing New Zealand for the last year or so and they must be happy to already have one confirmed runner for this years event. $40,000 Sapling Stakes Menangle, Salty Robyn  Salty Robyn winning at Menangle in 1:53.9 Salty Robyn winning again at Menangle 1:53.9   Harnesslink Media  

Tuesday 7th April 2015 - Victorian harness racing trainer Emma Stewart has a tremendous record at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Stewart has won numerous Gr.1 races in Sydney and she is hoping she can add the APG final for two year old colts and geldings to the list this year. Goodtime Sammy and Kingofthestars both won heats of the APG last Wednesday at Melton and will head to Sydney to compete in the semi finals on Saturday week. "We've won some nice races at Menangle, our horses have shown in the past they can handle the travel and the big track at Menangle," Stewart said. "Both of the two year olds are nice horses and did a good job in winning their heats but it is going to be harder in the semi finals and the final, should they get that far." Stewart has confirmed the biggest issue on APG semi final night for her stable will be finding drivers at Menangle. "On that Saturday night (18th April) Menangle has the semi finals of the APG and Melton has the Victorian Oaks so a lot of the leading Victorian drivers will already be committed to fillies in Melbourne which is going to be a bit of an issue but I'm sure we'll find someone to drive them." Kingofthestars recorded the fastest time of the three Victorian heats and Stewart has a bit of time for the son of Sportswriter. "I really like Kingofthestars, he is really well mannered and got home in sub 57 seconds for his final half and is probably the pick of my two." "Goodtime Sammy is a very nice horse as well but he still has a bit to learn, I actually think the trip to Sydney might do him the world of good, he is still learning about being a racehorse." Mark Purdon's Our Waikiki Beach was impressive in winning his APG heat at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday. "He is a very nice two year old, he is unbeaten but he hasn't run a scintillating time yet," Purdon said. "He would need to keep on improving for me to rank him right up there with some of the top two year olds that I have had in the last few seasons but to be fair to him he hasn't had that many starts yet." Greg Hayes

Wednesday 8th April 2015 - Two time Inter Dominion winner Beautide will be back at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night for his final hit-out before the Gr.1 Len Smith Mile on Sunday April 26. Harness racing trainer James Rattray is happy with his star seven year old and after a strong trial a week ago, believes Beautide will be hard to beat this weekend. "The trial last week was just what he needed because he hadn't raced since winning the Inter Dominion, he is ready to go this Saturday night," Rattray said. "He had a good workout early in the week and Saturday night should top him off nicely for the Len Smith Mile a fortnight later." Rattray took a similar path to the Len Smith Mile last year after winning the Inter Dominion, winning a race impressively a fortnight beforehand. On that occasion he recorded a winning time of 1:55.6, his slowest time over the mile at Menangle. "He has drawn out wide on the track and there are some horses in the race that possess early speed so it will be interesting to see how they settle down." "After the Len Smith Mile I will sit down and work out whether I will take him to Queensland for the Winter Carnival because I am really keen to go to Perth and give him a shot at winning the Inter Dominion for a third time." A win in Saturday night's Paul Fitzpatrick Free For All would take Beautide's prize money over $2 million, making him the thirteenth Australasian standardbred to achieve the feat and just the fifth Australian born pacer to do so. Rattray will have three other horses racing on Saturday night. Rykov Leis will compete in race one and after a strong trial performance on Tuesday, Rattray is expecting a strong performance. "He trialled free legged on Tuesday and did everything right, I think he has to trial again without hopples before he can race without them so he will be wearing them on Saturday night." "He is more comfortable without them but his run last start was good so I'm expecting another strong performance this week." Blue Pointer will compete in race two after an impressive victory last time out. "Blue Pointer has trained on really well since the last start win but there are some nice horses in that race and he has drawn wide." "Roger Ramjet will go around in a heat of the Carousel, he won last time out too, he is going really well at the moment." Rattray is still in the process of setting up his new property at Exeter and is hoping work will begin soon on his new track. "At the moment we take the horses into Goulburn to hopple and if they need some galloping we go to the Bong Bong track to work them." "Bong Bong is only about fifteen minutes away so it's quite good but I'm looking forward to getting everything set up at the new place and hopefully that will all happen in the next few months." Greg Hayes

Tuesday 7th April 2015 - Fellas R Trouble qualified for the Gr. 2 Carousel at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday April 26 with a barnstorming victory in a heat at Fairfield on Monday evening. Trained by Peter Rixon, owned by Peter's wife Cindy and driven by their daughter Ellen, the victory was a real family affair. "It was a cracker of a drive, Ellen was very patient and the horse really hit the line strongly once he got into the clear," Peter Rixon said. "I watched the race from home because I had spent the weekend at the mini trotting championships at Gunning so Cindy headed out to Fairfield with Ellen and while they weren't expecting the horse to win they thought he would run a nice race because his run in the Carousel heat at Penrith on Thursday wasn't too bad." Ellen will not be able to drive Fellas R Trouble in the $50,000 final because she doesn't have a metropolitan licence. "I will be on the lookout for a new driver because Ellen won't be able to drive him, I have been using Todd (McCarthy) at Menangle recently but I guess it will all depend on what other horses qualify for the race." "Todd might have to drive something else, Amanda Turnbull is another option too but our bloke isn't going to be one of the favourites in the race, so I will just wait and see who doesn't have a drive and then make the decision." Rixon bought Fellas R Trouble from New Zealand and he has already exceeded the family's expectations. "I was looking for a nice sensible horse for Ellen to drive, I was told this horse would be the ideal one and we didn't pay a lot of money for him so it has worked out nicely." "I don't do a lot of race driving anymore, I might get on the occasional one but I'm happy to let Ellen do most of it." Only two years ago Rixon qualified Prince Kai for the Carousel. The son of Stature finished fourth behind Monifieth. "Prince Kai has done a very good job for the stable since he ran in the Carousel, I've actually nominated him for Saturday night but have decided to put a junior driver on him so he can get back into the M1 over 2300 metres which suits him." "We are working ten horses at the moment but everyone helps out and everything that needs to be done gets done, it isn't too bad actually." Greg Hayes

Harness racing enthusiasts in Australia have gotten use to the blue with grey stars colours of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen raiding their feature age group races over the last few years and a team of three left New Zealand today on the latest raid Last weekends New Zealand Welcome Stakes winner Waikiki Beach is headed for the heats of the APG  for the colts and geldings at Menangle on April 7th. The impressive looking two year old son of Somebeachsomewhere has the ability to go with the looks and looks set to give the APG series a big shake. Also on the plane to Sydney today with him is the smart filly MacKenzie who made a lovely debut against the best colts in New Zealand in the New Zealand Welcome Stakes, running home late for a close up fourth. The big strapping daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven is held in high regard by the All Stars barn and will kick off her APG campaign in the heats at Melton on April 10th. A late addition to the team heading to Australia was the star three year old Follow The Stars who due to being handicapped as an open class horse in New Zealand has little in the way of suitable races to line up in. Mark Purdon believes the handicapping system in Australia is much more accommodating to a horse like Follow The Stars. "He is an M1 over there and not hard to place." "With so many races being restricted to four year old and over in the grades here in New Zealand, he has few opportunities coming up" Mark said. Mark's son Michael Purdon will be there to greet the team when it arrives on Thursday. Mark flies to Sydney  on Easter Monday  to prepare the three horse team  which will be based at Luke McCarthy's property while in Sydney.. Harnesslink Media  

Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Shane Tritton has been busy purchasing New Zealand stock for stable clients in an attempt to secure his first NSW trainers’ premiership. Tritton has finished inside the state’s top five trainers during the past five years and has been runner-up in the past two behind Bathurst horseman Steve Turnbull. One of the new stable recruits is well-performed pacer Glenlochar, a son of Elsu which boasts a third behind Adore Me in 1:51.6 earlier this year. “Glenlochar is a nice horse and with that run behind Adore Me at Cambridge in track record time he is a good addition to my stable,” Tritton said. “I’m excited to buy a horse who may just love the mile racing at Menangle. He arrives in Australia on a good mark (C4) as well, so I think is he a very good purchase by Shannon Hoffman.” Hoffman also owns former Kiwi pacer and Hunter Cup placegetter Easy On The Eye. “Other former New Zealanders that have joined the stable include Ohoka Royal, Bubbaloobah, Sambucca Joe and Change Gear,” Tritton said. “There are a few more to come after Easter as well, it is an exciting time for my stable.” Tritton prepared Saturday night’s Bathurst Gold Chalice winner Artistic Flite and has confirmed the three-year-old’s next run will be in the Newcastle Derby. “Yes the Newcastle Derby is on May 2 and that is a race that I will now target with Artistic Flite,” Tritton said. “After that he is off to Queensland for the Seymour series, but will be back in New South Wales for the Breeders’ Challenge series. “We’ve been winding him up towards this because he knew he had so many feature races towards the end of the season.” Salty Robyn will head to New Zealand for the Sires’ Stake and possibly the Harness Jewels. “He isn’t eligible for much here in Australia, so he’s definitely going to go to New Zealand for the Sires’ and hopefully the Jewels, but that decision is out of my hands,” Tritton said. Suave Stuey Lombo and Easy On The Eye have been aimed at Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 26. “They’ve both had a chance to freshen up after their Inter Dominion campaigns and we are looking forward to the Len Smith Mile, but it looks to be a strong race with Beautide set to compete,” Tritton said. HRNSW Media

Star Tasmanian-owned and bred pacer Beautide delivered an early message to his likely harness racing opponents in the upcoming Len Smith Mile when he powered his way to an impressive trial win over 1609 metres at Menangle yesterday. Beautide was having his first hit-out since winning his second Inter Dominion Championship at Menangle last month. With his trainer James Rattray in the sulky, Beautide began well from the outside gate (8) and settled second behind the leader. When Rattray eased his stable star off the fence to challenge he quickly drew alongside the leader and went on to easily win the trial by a metre. Beautide stopped the clock at 1.54.7 and ran home his last half mile (800m) in 55.3 seconds without being fully extended. He is likely to have another trial before trying to make it successive Len Smith Miles with that Group 1 race over 1609m to be run at Menangle on April 26. Watch trial: courtesy of TrotsTV Peter Staples

Darren McCall continues to live his harness racing dream and is now firmly re-established in Australia after twelve years in North America Originally from Queensland, Darren went to North America to work for Ross Croghan in 1998 for a three month stint and ended up staying in North America for nearly twelve years. After four years in America under Croghan, Darren and his wife Karina moved to Canada and struck out on their own and had an unbelievable run over the next eight years. Horses that passed through their stable at various times included the two time Breeders Crown champion Corleone Kosmos. The son of S J's Photo won $2,141,310 and took a mark of 1:51.2 The outstanding Bettors Delight mare Southwind Tempo 1:48.2 ($2,445,541) was another champion to pass through the McCall barn when in Canada along with two other outstanding mares in Tug River Princess 1:49.3 ($1,858,219) and Carolina Sunshine 1:48.4 ($1,388,062) Deuce Seelster 1:49.4 ($1,149,825) was another millionaire who competed for McCall while in Ontario. All up in the eight years that Darren was training on his own account in Canada he won 395 races for $12,027,532 in purses. “I learnt so much during my 12 years in North America." "In 2006 Karina and I came up with a five year plan with the aim that we would move back to Australia at the end of that time." The reason we stayed for so long on was because the experience we gained was so valuable," Darren said. The McCall's brought home a couple of mares with them with the long term aim of establishing these as their foundation mares in years to come. One is Ice Ice Baby by Modern Art and she is a half sister to Village Blast 1:51.1 ($425,373) while her dam is a half sister to none other than the brilliant racehorse and sire, Cambest 1:46.1 ($1,444,835) " We brought Ice Ice Baby at the yearling sales for just $9,000 and she won us $240,000 and went 1:52.3 so she owes us nothing," Darren said. The other mare was Warrawee Flare who won $609,019 and took a record of 1:50.3 She is a half sister to Safe Harbour 1:50.1 ($492,113) from a half sister to After Life 1:51.4 ($659,328) so lacks nothing on the pedigree or performance front. Arriving back in Australia in 2011, Darren has worked hard to get re-established and feels now the hard work is starting to pay off. "I have settled in Sydney and things are on the up here so it is the right place to be." "I have got a few nice horses in the barn at the moment." "Bettor Bet Black, Western Rockstar and American Highlights have all won on a Friday night at Menangle in the last month so things are ticking over nicely," Darren said. Darren is about to move into a new stable set up right across the road from the Menangle Track which will see his number of boxes increase to twenty two. " I have been doing fifteen because thats all I could accommodate so the extra boxes will be great." " I have been training one horse for some New Zealand owners and l get on good with the New Zealand horses so I am looking to hopefully get a few more now that I have a bit more room," Darren said. With his record in both Australia and North America, Darren McCall has a CV that is right up there with the best in the business. Harnesslink Media  

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