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High-class kiwi pacer Franco Nelson is moving to Australia. Trainer Shane Tritton confirmed the son of Christian Cullen would arrive at his Menangle stable on Friday. "It's exciting to have a horse of his calibre join the team. I know he's in the twilight of his career, but he raced in great form last season and has been out for a good break," he said. "I'm certainly not thinking he's joining the stable with retirement just around the corner. Quite the opposite, the handicapping system here is great for extending the careers and creating opportunities for horses like him. "And I've got a good record of rejuvenating older horses like him if you take a like through Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo and others." Tritton said the McKay clan, majority owners of Franco Nelson, initiated the move. "The McKays had horses with my Dad (Peter) and have sent me one already. They have said for a while they are keen to support me," he said. Franco Nelson hasn't raced since a second to Addington on May 12 when trained by Robert and John Dunn. He's battled injuries through his career, but still managed 65 starts for 18 wins, 22 placings and earned $758,127. "He ran some great races last season, including that unlucky fifth in the Inter Dominion final," Tritton said. "He's been out spelling so we are getting him from scratch. The aim is to have him back and primed for the Miracle Mile Carnival." In other stable news, Tritton is focused on a Perth Inter Dominion raid with the speedy Yayas Hot Spot. "I want to time-trial him at Penrith this Thursday night then I think we will go first-up into the Smoken Up (Melton, October 6) then the Victoria Cup (October 14)," he said. "Then it's onto Perth where he will love the tight track. Tritton's star four-year-old of last season Salty Robyn is recovering from surgery following an acute bout of colic. And his former glamour mare Arms Of An Angel is close to a racetrack return. "That's got us all excited. She's only a month away," he said. Adam Hamilton

KIWI star My Field Marshal headlines another big weekend of Victoria Cup and Perth Inter Dominion lead-up racing in Australia. Tim Butt’s stable star looks a class above his rivals in the Group 3 Garrards Horse and Hound Pace (1609m) at Menangle on Saturday night. My Field Marshal is drawn the extreme outside, but the added race fitness of a narrow first-up defeat and the early scratching of Little Rascal – the horse who tipped him out first-up – makes him a stand-out. If he is to be a serious player in the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion, My Field Marshal really needs to beat a handy field lacking any genuine A-grade stars at Menangle. His most interesting rival is former star Kiwi juvenile Messini, who is not only down to run against My Field Marshal at Menangle, but also to tackle the $20,000 VHRSC Classic (2240m) at Melton 24 hours earlier. Messini certainly looks better suited at Menangle where he will challenge for favouritism in an even field from gate five. His major rivals look to be Flaming Flutter (gate six) and Maximan (seven). Still in Victoria and the state’s buzz pacer, San Carlo, is shooting for his 18th win from just 21 starts in the Alabar Pace (2150m) at Bendigo on Saturday night. San Carlo lost no fans when he dipped in open-class feature racing for the first time when a close third to the flying mare Ameretto in the Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate free-for-all at Melton at his most recent run on August 25. Trainer Steve O’Donoghue is keen to tackle both the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion with San Carlo, who has been plagued by injuries through his career. The key Inter Dominion flavour race at Gloucester Park on Friday night is the Spring Pace (race seven) where the Gary Hall Sr four of the 11 runners: Ideal Alice (gate one), American Boy (four), Novic Nightowl (seven) and Beaudiene Boaz (11). And even the Friday night Hobart meeting in Tasmania has some Inter Dominion interest. Father and son combo Barrie and Todd Rattray are considering Perth raids with stable stars Devendra, Pachacuti and Roger Ramjet. The trio all line-up in the free-for-all (race three) at Hobart. The Aussie TAB’s latest Inter Dominion market has Lazarus favourite at $4.50 from Chicago Bull ($5.50), Lennytheshark ($8) then My Field Marshal and Tiger Tara at $12.   Adam Hamilton

A $4000 purchase price resulted in a Group 2 win when Shes Sporty took out an Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Winning the two-year-old fillies’ edition, Shes Sporty climbed to Group success in just 10 starts. The daughter of Sportswriter and the former ‘Race-A-Pacer’ mare Alyceforall was bred at Brooklyn Lodge and purchased by Kylie Kennedy at the Bathurst Gold Yearling Sale last year. In her succinct racing career she has already won three races and placed on two occasions, earning $42,180 in prizemoney along the way. And in her most recent success, secured a personal best winning mile rate of 1:55.3 giving reinsman Blake Jones a significant milestone too. “It was my biggest win,” Jones said. “She is a bit of a handful to drive but she’s been a lot better lately and she’s starting to figure out what it is all about.” This provided Jones his 77th winner for the season his 427 winner overall. Shes Sporty is trained by David Kennedy and provided the Narrandera mentor with his 475th winner. Amanda Rando  

Our Little Digger’s Group 2 Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue win at Menangle last Saturday night was an emotional victory for Clayton family. The gelding was one of the last horses bred by the late John Clayton from Bathurst. Named after the breeder himself, Our Little Digger overcame his wide draw to take out the feature and his saddlecloth number (10) was an omen according to part-owner Mary Clayton. “This horse was bred by my late husband, who hasn’t been gone all that long, and is named after my late husband and he’s wearing his number tonight so we had a bit of help from above,” Mary said when accepting the winning trophy. “It’s been a real journey but it’s something that has kept our family going . . . my son Darren is also a part-owner.” Trained and driven by Bernie Hewitt, Our Little Digger clocked 1:52.8 to win the feature giving the Georges Plain mentor a race-to-race double as he won the following Group 2 with Taylors Reason. Snaring both three-year-old legs of the 2017 Breeders Challenge Blue Finals, Hewitt added to his Breeders Challenge success rate having now won five Breeders Challenge Finals overall and four of those have been Blue Finals. Hewitt’s success in this feature began in 2014 when Read About Lexy won the Breeders Challenge Blue two-year-old fillies final. A year later he won the three-year-old fillies’ edition with Pass The Magic and in 2016 with Ima Black Beauty. However, it was just last month Hewitt obtained his first Group 1 winner when winning the Alabar Breeders Challenge three-year-old fillies’ final with Royal Story. AMANDA RANDO  

Multiple Group-winning reinsman John McCarthy strengthened his feature race strike rate when landing a dream drive in an Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Final last Saturday night. McCarthy was handed the reins on the Craig Cross-trained Lucky Unlucky in the feature at Tabcorp Park Menangle as usual driver Luke McCarthy had commitments in Queensland. This drive gave McCarthy yet another Group win to his name as Lucky Unlucky took out the Group 2 two-year-old colts and geldings’ edition. McCarthy, who just earlier this season trained his 2000th winner, has now won more than 60 Group races as a driver. And a change of tactics to drive the gelding proved to be the winning move according to McCarthy. “He’s been, hence his name, a bit unlucky and been going back in the field and doesn’t seem to try so hard when he goes back,” McCarthy claimed. “I spoke to Craig and Luke before the race and they said see if you can go forward and try and find the front or sit outside the leader, he might try a lot harder for you and he certainly did.” Lucky Unlucky worked forward from gate six, led, and went on to record a personal best mile rate of 1:54.0. He was purchased at the Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale for $20,000 by owner Vicki Rasmussen and has won $47,829 in prizemoney after 11 starts, two wins and five placings. The son of Roll With Joe is out of the Artsplace mare Specialize, who is a daughter of the former Grand Circuit mare Sabilize.   Amanda Rando  

Injury has brought a sudden end to Spanish Armada’s champion season. The multiple group one winner has a suspected hairline fracture and will miss the rest of this term, including her final major aim for the season, the Breeders Crown in Victoria in August. Spanish Armada was slightly lame on Wednesday after running on strongly in a trial at Menangle on Tuesday and was immediately examined by a vet. “The x-rays haven’t found anything conclusive yet but they suspect a hairline fracture,” said co-trainer Mark Purdon. “Obviously she is too good to take any risks with so that is her done for the season. “If that is all it is then I am confident we can get her back to the track in time, but even if she never raced again she has nothing left to prove, she has had an amazing year.” Spanish Armada dominated the three-year-old filly features at Auckland at Christmas but her reign looked threatened by then unbeaten stablemate Partyon when she returned from Australia and beat her in the Northern Oaks. But Spanish Armada extracted her revenge three times, all at group one level, winning the Nevele R Final, NZ Oaks and Harness Jewels, with her Oaks victory one of the great modern-day performances by a New Zealand pacing filly. The All Stars still have Partyon, who races in the Queensland Oaks on Saturday, being aimed at the Breeders Crown. “She is coming back to her best, as we saw with her win over there last week,” said Purdon. Most of the stables open class superstars as pleasing the boss in their work, with Dream About Me and Smolda doing hoppled work while the enigmatic Have Faith In Me is looking happy and sound at this early stage. And the news is all good with Horse of the Year in waiting Lazarus. “He has just started jogging again and he looks wonderful,” enthuses Purdon. “He hasn’t gotten any taller but he has thickened out in the shoulder and hind quarters. “So I couldn’t be happier with him and while the New Zealand Cup is his main aim the Inter Dominions in Perth are a very realistic option this time around.”  Michael Guerin

Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards have concluded an inquiry that commenced on Thursday February 24, 2017, into matters relating to the treatment of OUR DREAM ABOUT ME NZ and that horse being presented for an official trial at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Various evidence had been taken by Stewards through interviews with trainer Mark Purdon and foreman M Bowden as well as HRNSW Veterinarian Dr D Colantonio.  M Purdon and stable representatives have cooperated fully with the Stewards’ investigations. Subsequently, Stewards (by letter dated March 29, 2017) charged M Purdon with offences under the Rules which included; 1 - Charge pursuant to HRR 196B (1) and 4) - The particulars of the charge were “Mr Purdon, being a licensed trainer had on Monday, February 13, 2017, and without the permission of the Stewards, administered or caused to have administered to the registered horse OUR DREAM ABOUT ME serum, by way of an injection, being within one clear day prior to that horse contesting an official trial at Tabcorp Park Menangle, being contrary to the Rule” 2 - Charge pursuant to HRR 193. The particulars of the charge were “Mr Purdon, being the licensed trainer of the registered horse OUR DREAM ABOUT ME, had on Monday, February 13, 2017, caused to have an atomiser used to administer a serum to the horse and within forty-eight hours of that horse contesting an official trial at Tabcorp Park Menangle the following day, being contrary to part (2) of the Rule.” 3 - Charge pursuant to HRR 194.  The particulars of the charge were “Mr Purdon, being the licensed trainer of the registered horse OUR DREAM ABOUT ME NZ and others, had prior to Monday, February 13, 2017, procured a veterinary product which was not registered in accord with legislation and at various times between Monday, February 13, 2017, and Friday, February 24, 2017, had the said product stored at premises under your control.” By email dated May 22, 2017, Counsel for M Purdon advised the trainer pleaded guilty to all charges and made detailed written submissions in regards to penalty. HRNSW Stewards have now convened to fully consider the submission provided on the trainer’s behalf and the options available to Stewards in regards to penalty. Having considered the circumstances and the submission of Counsel, Stewards have determined the appropriate penalties in the circumstances as follows; In regards to the charge pursuant to HRR 196B(1) and 4) - to be a fine of $6000; In regards to the charge pursuant to HRR 193 - to be a fine of $6000; In regards to the charge pursuant to HRR 194 - to be a fine of $3000. In determining these penalties Stewards have acknowledged M Purdon’s guilty pleas, his disciplinary record over a long period and the subjective facts. Having regard to the totality principle in sentencing the Stewards having fully considered the total effect of the penalties announced are satisfied they are appropriate to that principle and the circumstances which prevailed. Mr Purdon was advised of his right to appeal these decisions. MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gloch@hrnsw.com.au

You won’t see Australia’s buzz juvenile Lumineer again this season.  Trainer Ange McDowall today confirmed the unbeaten Australian Gold final winner would not be returning for the rich Breeders Crown at Melton in August.  “I’m sure we’re doing the right thing benching him for the rest of the season,” McDowall said.  Lumineer had a minor setback after his sparkling Australian Gold win at Menangle on April 29 and has not been seen since.  “He’s really well. We had him checked over at the Ballarat clinic last Friday and all looks good,” McDowall said. “It’s extremely tempting to go again, but I think it’s best to give some extra time out now.  “This way he can return to work in August and have a long, slow build-up to a big three-year-old season.  “The plan is to start taking him to the beach again in August. I don’t like to rush their preparations, so it’ll be good to have time on our side before the major (3YO) races.”  Lumineer has won all five starts by an aggregate of 50m and run some staggering times seemingly with ease, including his 1.52.5 at Menangle in a semi-final in the Australian Gold.  His brilliance has prompted discussions around being the best juvenile since the mighty Lombo Pocket Watch, who won 17 of his 18 starts in the 2005/06 season. Adam Hamilton

The harness racing fans turned out in force to see what was hailed as a match-race. But feature-race specialists Tim Butt and Anthony Butt spoiled the party when five-year-old My Field Marshall scored a race-record win in today's $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of former champion mare Foreal, by Art Major scored an amazing win in the Group One feature, nailing another surprise packet Mach Doro near the line to score in 1:50.2, breaking Hectorjayjay's race record set last year. The plucky Lennytheshark raced outside the leader Hectorjayjay and held on manfully to take third place, but had no answer to the sprint of the first two placegetters in the straight. Part-owner of My Field Marshall Syd Brown said he had looked at the list of previous winners including the likes of Smoken Up (four times), Changeover, Beautide, Smolda and Hectorjayjay and said he dreamt of just having a horse good enough to compete against the Grand Circuit stars. The rest was left to the Butt brothers . . trainer Tim has been in Sydney for almost a month preparing the Christchurch pacer for his shot at glory while Anthony, who is now domiciled in Melbourne, he has become one of that state's leading reinsman with a string of winners. But Anthony admitted this might be his biggest win on the Menangle circuit and was certainly something special against some of the best horses in Australasia. Hectorjayjay (Josh Aiken) showed his normal extraordinary turn of foot to easily find the front in the 1609m sprint while Lennytheshark (Chris Alford) never shirked the task and gradually made his way around the field to sit outside of his stablemate for most of the race. Turning for home it became obvious 'Hector' couldn't shake off his stablemate, but that didn't matter as first Mach Doro and then My Field Marshall made their moves out wide. Butt had something in hand as he easily picked up his rivals to score in 1:50.2 after sectionals of 26.9s, 29.4s, 26.8 and home in 27.1 for a win that stunned most of those present - except the Butts, who knew they had a horse that was up to the task. . . . and one whose name will look quite at home in the record books beside some of the greats of the sport. Amanda Zammit  

No instructions, no regrets and one of his biggest thrills. That was the only way young harness racing trainer Todd Rattray could explain a massive win in securing today's Breeders Challenge for two-year-old colts with Ignatius at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Ignatius set a new track record two-year-old rating 1:51.3 to beat outsider Little Peanut and the well-backed Sicario in the Group One classic. The Tasmanian youngster by Roll With Joe has improved with every step since crossing Bass Strait and Todd was more than happy to hand the reins to big brother James when Ignatius hit Sydney a month or so ago. "James has done a terrific job today and to come up here and beat the likes of Mark Purdon and Shane Tritton's stables is pretty special," said Todd. "No, I'm not sorry I wasn't driving him . . . it's just a thrill to see him win. To be honest we never dreamt he could improve this much and be this good when we decided to send him up here. "Yes, this is just great for Tasmanian harness racing too. "We haven't had any really smart two-year-olds down there this season until this bloke came along and it's good to see he might be something special." Ignatius With the retirement of Beautide a few weeks ago, the arrival of Ignatius what just what the state . . . and the Rattrays needed. In a fast-run affair Divine State quickly took the front and reinsman Chris Geary showed his intention was to keep them running. He did that with a 26.9s first split and a 28.2 second quarter. But turning for home Divine State was looking almost spent while Sicario and Ignatius were quickly putting themselves into the race. No sooner had Sicario (Mark Purdon) hit the front and Ignatius came at him and quickly put the issue beyond doubt as it was left to outsider Little Peanut to issue a late challenge. After a 29.9s third quarter, they came home in 28.3s to become the state's fastest two-year-old this season. * Earlier in the day owner-breeder Diane Kelly admits she still had to pinch herself when she watched star two-year-old filly Molly Kelly race. "We had so much fun with Frith when she raced, we never dreamt that we'd get another horse as good as Molly Kelly," said Diane as she accepted the trophy for her youngster winning the Breeders Challenge two-year-old fillies' final at Menangle this afternoon. "This is just amazing." Dianne had just watched the full sister to frith blow away a class field to win the Group One for trainer Emma Stewart and champion reinsman Chris Alford. Taken straight to the front by Alford, the master reinsman found he had to stoke the filly up going up the back straight with a few taps with the whip as she looked to relax mid-race, which only allowed a few challengers to suspect they might be a chance. Turning for home Molly Kelly (Four Starzzz Shark) wandered away from the pegs and for an all-too-brief moment it appeared that the Craig Cross-trained and Luke McCarthy driven Love My Sister might sneak up on the pegs and blouse her. Tassini also made a dash out wide but like her sister Frith, Molly Kelly was just keeping them interested as she held them out all the way down the straight to score a three-metre win in 1:55.3. Love My Sister stayed on for second ahead of outsider Tassini and the fast-finishing War Dan Bad Girl, who flashed home when the race was all but decided. Alford later commented that it had always been a long-term goal of his to come up from Victoria and win a Breeders Challenge final. "Thanks to Di and Bernie Kelly, I've been able to do that today. I'm so glad they send this horse down to Emma [Stewart] and Clayton [Tonkin] to train. "They are the best owners and hopefully our association will continue for many years to come." Molly Kelly Amanda Zammit  

Harness racing owner-breeder Mal Beal admitted four-year-old gelding Rock Of America had been something of a problem horse a few times over the past 18 months or so. But all that was forgotten when the son of Rock N Roll Heaven finished powerfully to win today's Breeders Challenge four-year-old colts and geldings final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. A patient drive by star reinsman Greg Sugars, saw Rock Of America finish all over the top of a quality field of rivals to win the Group One by a head from outsider Left Tenant (Brendan Barnes) with pacemaker Power Of Red hanging on for third in a 1:51.4 mile rate. Trainer Mick Doltoff said Rock Of America had caused them a few headaches. "But we've had a bit of luck in these Breeders Challenge races and barrier 11 seems to be lucky for us too," said Doltoff. "This horse has plenty of heart and he showed that today with a marvellous win." Disappointment of the race was the well-backed Fouroeight, which failed to run on in the straight and finished just behind the placegetters. Rock Of America * EARLIER improving mare Eye See Diamonds (Rock N Roll Heaven) caused something of a minor upset when she outstayed top mare Heavens Trend to take the four-year-old mares' final of the NSW Breeders Challenge. Taken straight to the front from the outside of the front line, trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull quickly made her intentions clear with a slick 26.6s first quarter of the mile as she looked to retain the inside running for the rest of the race. That left Heavens Trend to work hard before eventually settling outside the leader as Turnbull and Eye See Diamonds backed off the speed slightly with a 29.5 second split of the mile. But that was as easy as it got for both ace mares as they singled out from the rest of the field turning for home and settled down to tight out the race the length of the long Menangle straight. Heavens Trend may have got her nose slightly in front but in a finish that even the caller couldn't pick, Eye See Diamonds fought back beautifully to score by a nose in a 1:52.1 mile. The final two quarters were both put away in 28 seconds neat while it was left to Hot Shot Woman to emerge from the distantly chasing pack to grab third, just ahead of Abettorrose, who enjoyed a soft run four back on the pegs before motoring home late in the piece. Turnbull later gave her training partner Nathan Jack and their families the credit for their success. "Really without them, none of this would be possible," she said. "And the owners of Eye See Diamonds, Rosemary and Terry Cluse have stuck with us through thick and thin and have been fantastic supporters. And that all helps so much." Eye See Diamonds Amanda Zammit

He's been hailed as the next Lazarus . . . and the greatest three-year-old pacer in Australasia. And this afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle Vincent proved just that as he cruised to an Australasian record 1:50.2 mile win in the Breeders Challenge final for harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings. The Art Major-Kept For Pleasure colt gave Mark Purdon his lone Group One for the day when he beat a plucky Atomic Red with outsider Joes Star Of Mia third. Some suspected Vincent might be vulnerable after he had to pull out all stops to hold off Pretty Hot and Jakes Sportswriter in his Breeders Challenge semi-final the previous week, when he rated 1:51 to score by just a metre with Luke McCarthy in the bike. Yet Purdon admitted Vincent needed that run and would be improved out of sight for the $153,000 final against some of the best three-year-olds in the land. As usual, he was right as Vincent showed he would easily fit into the big pair of shoes that Lazarus currently fills for Purdon's All Stars New Zealand stable. He easily ran down pacemaker Atomic Red in the straight to win almost untouched after splits of 26.2, 29s, 27.6s, 27.4s for a 1:50.2 mile rate, breaking stablemate Our Waikiki Beach's record of 1:50.6 posted early last year. So impressive was Vincent both in appearance and talent that this three-year-old already looks to be Purdon's next New Zealand Cup winner . . . after Lazarus steps down from the podium, of course. Vincent * Earlier the three-year-old fillies' Breeders Challenge final saw another minor upset, of sorts . . . albeit a historic one when Georges Plans [Bathurst] trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt broke through for his first Group One success when Royal Story scored. The draw told the story of the race when Royal Story (Always A Virgin) was quick to find the front from gate four and defied all attempts to run her down. Once again it was the two second-row runners Don't Think Twice and Shezallapples that had to do it tough if they were to beat Royal Story, who was well found in the betting as the $5 second favourite. "We'd never send our horses anywhere else," said owner Gary Meredith. "We call Royal Story 'Big Girl' around the stables but this is actually our 20th win with them as owners and we couldn't be happier with the way we've been treated." Hewitt was naturally ecstatic with his breakthrough win. "We put a lot of work into working with juveniles and to come here and win a race like this makes it all worthwhile," he said. "But just to be able to train and drive a filly likes this is a great thrill and today she showed us how good she is. "A lot of people in our stable can take some of the credit for this - mostly my wife Cathy who holds us all together and makes wins like this all the more worthwhile." Don't Think Twice had to do it tough from the second row and failed by a mere half-head from running down Royal Story after racing three-wide earlier in the race as young trainer-driver Jason Grimson sought to put him into the action. In contrast, last year's two-year-old fillies' winner Shezallapples settled near last and, similar to 2016, came with a flashing finish 1.4m away in third place in a 1:53 mile rate. Royal Story Amanda Zammit

Mark Purdon will head to Menangle’s huge meeting on Sunday in unfamiliar territory. Most times the champion trainer is expected to dominate, but on Sunday it is more hopeful than confident of success with either of his two Group 1 runners. And that’s saying something when one of them is Australasia’s best three-year-old, Vincent, in the $153,000 Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final (1609m). “I wish he’d drawn a lot better and the race was 2300m instead of a mile,” Purdon said. “The combination of drawing outside the back (gate 14) over a mile means he is going to need to do something great to win. “Atomic Red is a really nice horse, he showed that winning a heat of the NSW Derby, and if he rolls to the front from (gate) four, he’s going to take some running down, especially from where we’re drawn.” As big as Vincent’s challenge is, he is capable of something special. “He has the superstar factor. He could be our next stable star,” Purdon said. Vincent looks skinny odds at $1.40 on the Aussie TAB, while Atomic Red has been backed from $4 into $3.40. Purdon’s other Menangle runner is the talented juvenile Sicario, who faces a big challenge from gate eight in a strong 2YO colts and geldings final of the Breeders Challenge. The race changed complexion when Shane Tritton’s Divine State slipped into the field as first emergency when stablemate Lynnsanity succumbed to a health issue. Divine State (gate seven) has been backed from $3.50 into $2.80, while Sicario is still favourite, but has eased from $1.70 to $2.50. Exciting Tasmanian youngster Ignatius (three) is a $2.90 chance. “If he drew two, you’d say he’s the one to beat, but the way the draws have fallen, he’ll need to pull out something special to win it,” Purdon said. “He’s a really nice two-year-old, but he’s not out of the bag. He’s not a superstar like say Waikiki Beach was at the same time.” After Menangle on Sunday, Purdon heads further north for the Queensland Carnival where More The Better and Partyon will fly the stable flag. In other stable news, Purdon said it was unlikely he would have a runner in the Victoria Cup now it had been moved to October 14 and slashed from a $400,000 to $200,000 purse. “Lazarus definitely won’t be in it. The only chance we’d have a runner is if we wanted to split horses and perhaps send of the our horses outside of the big guns across,” he said. “The race just seems to be in no man’s land now and there’s not many other big races around it.” Purdon confirmed Lazarus and Heavens Rock would not leave NZ before the NZ Cup. Beyond that, Lazarus is most likely to tackle the Perth Inter Dominion, while the Miracle Mile has been circled for Heaven Rocks. “There’s a long way to go, but Lazarus is the one we’d take to Perth. I’ve learnt from taking Smolda last year. Lazarus certainly wouldn’t mind the four races in a fortnight,” Purdon said. Adam Hamilton

The barrier draw has only added to the intrigue of Sunday’s $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle. In an extraordinary coincidence, all the big guns have drawn poorly making it look more like a preferential rather than random barrier draw. David Aiken’s superstar pair Hectorjayjay (gate nine) and Lennytheshark (10) have drawn the outside front row barriers, but they will come into seven and eight respectively in the two emergencies (Lord Zin Zan 6 and Spare Me Days 7) don’t gain starts. Tiger Tara, who beat Lennytheshark in the Golden Mile then ran a huge second to Hectorjayjay last Saturday night, will start from four-out on the back row (gate 14). Even classy Kiwi pacer My Field Marshall drew awkwardly inside the back row (gate 11). The Aussie TAB opened defending champion Hectorjayjay, who is renowned for his early brilliance and could cross to the lead should he try from the wide draw, as the $2.10 favourite. The question for the Hectorjayjay team is whether they want to risk a repeat of the Miracle Mile where he burned off the gate in a record 24.8sec split and simply used too much petrol to keep going. He weakened late to run fifth. Lennytheshark, who is due to trial at Menangle today (Tuesday), is the $2.30 second elect, while Tiger Tara is a $6 shot. The winners from the draw were tough veteran Ultimate Art (gate one), classy Victorian speedster Major Crocker (four) and last-start Golden Mile runner-up Mach Doro (five). The Allstars barn has runners in two of the NSW Breeders Challenge finals on the day and had mixed luck in the barrier draws. Superstar three-year-old Vincent, who had a close shave in his semi-final last week, is still a commanding $1.40 favourite from the worst possible draw (gate 14) in his final. And Sicario, despite leading and being rundown when second in his semi, is a $1.70 favourite from barrier eight in his final. He will start from six if the emergencies don’t get starts and should work to the front. Adam Hamilton

Fans have been dished-up an unexpected treat at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto telegraphed early his plans to back-up Tiger Tara, but the twist in the race came when David Aiken opted to run Hectorjayjay as well. So, just eight days before the Group 1 Len Smith Mile, we get a mini preview with two of Australia’s best pacers locking horns in the Family Dun Day Sunday Pace (2300m). As impressive as Tiger Tara was storming home off a slow pace to beat Lennytheshark and others in last week’s Golden Mile, all the early money is for Hectorjayjay to beat him on Saturday. Amazingly, Hectorjayjay was smashed from $1.60 into $1.45 and then again in $1.35 within minutes of the Aussie TAB opening its fixed odds market. Tiger Tara has eased from $2.60 to $3. Both will start from the back row, but Hectorjayjay looks to be drawn better starting from two-out on the back as he can potentially through better and settle in front of Tiger Tara. Tiger Tara has the inside back row (gate 11) and follows out rank outsider Demolition Dave, meaning driver Todd McCarthy will surely snag and look to get straight away from the inside into the running line. It means he will settle near last. Against that, Tiger Tara’s great strength is his stamina and the stretch from last week’s 1609m to 2300m plays to his favour. The glamour pair are classes above their rivals and it promises to be a fascinating race of tactics and an ideal “teaser” to the best Len Smith Mile in recent memory. Saturday night’s Menangle card also features semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge for three and four-year-olds. By far the biggest name stepping-out in them is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who is a $1.04 favourite from gate four in the second of the three-year-old colts and geldings division. Luke McCarthy is down to take the drive. Another highlight of the card is the Group 3 Frith Stakes (1609m) where the key players are Cyclone Kate (gate 14), Rocker Band (12) and Miss Riviera Belle (five). Kiwi mare Rocker Band has moved from Craig Demmler’s Victorian stable to Mark Jones’ Menangle satellite stable and Ashlee Grives is down for the drive on Saturday night. Rocker Band and Cyclone Kate share $3.40 favourite in the Aussie TAB’s early fixed odds market. Adam Hamilton

Talented Tasmanian two-year-old harness racing pacer Ignatius powered his way into the rich New South Wales Breeders Challenge final with a resounding win in a semi-final over 1609 metres at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The Todd Rattray-trained youngster scraped into the semi-final and drew gate four from which he was able to find the front with the trainer's brother James Rattray in the sulky. The odds-on favourite Sicario ($1.40) from the Mark Purdon stable, drew the outside gate and was forced to work three-wide early but with cover before circumnavigating the field to eventually take control. Sicario sped clear and was being hailed the winner at the top of the home stretch but when Rattray eased Ignatius out of the slipstream to challenge the gelded son of Roll With Joe claimed the favourite and forged clear over the concluding stages to win by 2-1/2 metres with Squire a distant third. Ignatius clocked a mile rate of 1.52.6 and ran home his last 800 metres in 55.7 which were personal best times for the gelding. There are big raps on Sicario which added more credence to the Tasmanian's win. "I knew he would improve on his run in the heat because he didn't handle the trip from Tassie to NSW all that well," Todd Rattray said. "In this race latest race he showed good gate speed but James (Rattray) had to use him up early to find the front so he did the right thing by taking hold and handing up the lead to the favourite. "I was very impressed with how my horse finished the race off because he was really strong and was drawing away from the field on the line." Ignatius has drawn barrier three in the $125,000 final to be run at Menangle on June 25. "Drawing gate three in the final is a real bonus because he's probably got enough gate speed to lead and if that happens James can decide whether to hand up if the right horse lands outside him or keep the lead and make it staying test." "I am certain my horse will continue to improve with racing so he should be even better in the final." Ignatius is owned and raced by Todd Rattray's life partner Lyrae Graham who selected the horse from a group of weanlings in a paddock at the trainer's family property at Longford over a year ago. While Rattray is thrilled with the efforts of Ignatius in Sydney he also was impressed with the performance of Izaha that won his heat of the Dandy Patch Stakes in Hobart last Sunday night. Izaha could not have made a more impressive debut coming from last in the small field of seven to win easily to suggest he will be the testing material in the $40,000 final on Friday week. "I expected Izaha to do what he did in the Dandy Patch heat because he's been a very promising pacer from day one and I don't think there is much between him and Ignatius." Peter Staples

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