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The harness racing drivers selected for this year’s NSW Rising Stars have been announced with the cream of the up and coming talent in New South Wales competing over a series of heats run throughout the state.  The drivers will gather at the offices of HRNSW on Monday June 20 before competing in a ten heat series at Young, Bathurst, Penrith, Newcastle and Tabcorp Park Menangle. The competing drivers are: Ellen Rixon Metropolitan Martelle Maguire Metropolitan Ellen Bartley South West & Riverina Jason Grimson South West & Riverina Mitch Turnbull Western Districts Tom Pay Western Districts James Harding Hunter Brad Elder Hunter Tom Ison North West STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED Western Australia The NSW Rising Stars selection criteria can be read in full by clicking here. It is important to note that to be eligible for the series drivers must be under the age of 23 prior to the start of the racing season, can’t compete in more than two series unless returning as the defending champion and must have driven less than 100 winners at the start of the current season. The Rising Stars gives junior drivers from all parts of the state the chance to spend a week together building friendships while enjoying the competition on the track.  As a group they will meet with the Chairman Of Stewards Graham Loch for an information session and will also undertake some media training with Media Manager Greg Hayes.  The Rising Stars will also get the opportunity to attend a game of football and will be attending the second day of the HRNSW Conference on Saturday June 25 before competing at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Alabar Breeders Challenge Day the following day. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny congratulated all of the selected drivers and wished them the best of luck. “When you look back at this series over the years, so many of our top drivers in New South Wales competed in this series at some stage,” Dumesny said. “It also gives these young drivers a chance to meet one another and build friendships that will last a lifetime, a lot of planning goes into the Rising Stars series and I am sure they will enjoy all of the activities that have been scheduled. “I would like to make special mention of Jack Trainor, last year’s Rising Stars winner, who has decided to relinquish his spot this year to allow another driver to compete.  Jack has competed in 2014 and 2015 and would like to see another junior driver given the opportunity to compete in this series in his place.” Greg Hayes

Leading Canberra trainer Michael Hawke knows Modern Maestro is facing the biggest test of his short career. On Saturday night Modern Maestro will line up in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel at Tabcorp Park Menangle and will travel up the Hume Highway during the afternoon. The harness racing four year old gelding has won nine of his eleven starts - the two defeats coming when the horse has travelled to Sydney. Hawke has been proud of Modern Maestro in both defeats and is expecting the son of Modern Art to put in another solid performance this weekend. "His first defeat came at Menangle, he charged home and ran fourth but not everything was right with him and he bounced straight back at his next start," Hawke said. "When he ran second at Penrith in the heat of the Carousel I thought he was outstanding. The lead time was fast and he really made Kept Under Wraps work for the win and while there would have been a fair bit of improvement in the McCarthy trained horse, I think it proved that my bloke isn't too far away." Modern Maestro holds the track record for the 2170 metres at Canberra suggesting the 2300 metres on Saturday night will not be a concern. "His versatility is one of his biggest attributes, he tries very hard and he'll have no problems handling the 2300 metres. As a result of his assessment he was always going to draw well and I think when you draw well in big races you have to make use of the good gate. "We'll go forward early and try to get to the marker pegs, it makes it hard when you settle in the running line because there will be a lot of moves in the middle stages and the horses racing off the pegs could end up near the tail of the field." Hawke's daughter Melissa will drive the gelding in what will be the biggest race of her career. "I'm sure she'll be nervous but young kids just deal with nerves and once they get out on the track she'll be fine. I'm worse than her, I get very nervous and I like to watch the race by myself. "Melissa and Fred (Modern Maestro) get on so well together. He is a really good natured animal but he doesn't like getting beaten." Modern Maestro is raced by a group of people including Wayne and Joy Gowland, Sue and Andrew Marbrow and Mark Lees. "Wayne is a great bloke and his mother Joy has a share in the horse. Andrew Marbrow works for Wayne and he and his wife are in their first horse and Mark Lees is a good family friend of Wayne's. They are a great group of people to go racing with. "I was speaking with Wayne and he would be wrapped if Modern Maestro could finish in the top four. I really think he will be a better horse in twelve months once he has had the opportunity to go to Menangle constantly." The Lands Legal Carousel is race seven at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night and is scheduled to begin at 7:24pm. Greg Hayes

Michael Stanley’s Burrumbeet stable is well positioned to strike gold in Saturday night’s $322,000 Group 1 for harness racing fillies. The trainer-driver has qualified Petacular and Soho Angel for the Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, after both delivered outstanding semi-final performances. They’ve been disadvantaged by the draw for Saturday night’s mile, drawn sixth (Petacular) and eighth (Soho Angel) when emergencies are excluded, outside short-priced runners Emma Stewart-trained Perfect Sense (barrier two), Queensland hope Park Life (barrier one) and Shane Tritton’s favourite High Rolling (barrier three). CLICK HERE FOR THE TAB'S FIXED ODDS FOR THE APG FINAL But that hasn’t dulled Stanley’s enthusiasm for his two-year-olds. Petacular, a winner at three of her four starts, has cruised through the APG heat and semi-final, leading in both and clearing out to win without much urging. “We’ve always had a really good opinion of Petacular and she’s been developing nicely with each run,” Stanley said. “There are plenty of horses that show promise that get to race day and don’t deliver, it is good that she has shown she can put it together on the race track. In the heat and semi she has been able to get two soft runs and improved each time.” Soho Angel, on the other hand, was taken north with more gentle expectation, but Stanley said “since she got up here to New South Wales she has really thrived". “I think if she had have got a clear run early she would have won her semi-final,” he said. “She is getting better every time she goes to the races. She’s got a wide barrier and will go back. She probably needs them to go hard and if they do and she gets the right run into it she will be coming. With the big straight here at Menangle we can use that speed she’s got.” Petacular’s route to the finish line is not so set in stone. Despite having led or faced the breeze in all four starts, a challenge for the lead from barrier six could come at a cost. Stanley will take the reins and said he’d respond to the opportunities that present. “The favourite runners got the better of the draw, but if (Petacular) takes the next step I am really confident she can go close,” he said. “She’s got real gate speed. High Rolling is fast out and they have put it out there that they will lead and turn it into a staying test. Petacular can settle early and make a move mid-race, or if they are going fast I can sit up on her. She’s a very versatile filly.” David Aiken’s Avenel stable will also have two representatives contest the APG final, with She Envy, who finished second in both her heat and semi-final, to start from barrier five and Jiggy Rhythm from barrier eight. A host of Victorians will also feature in the $50,000 consolation final, including Peter Manning’s Toolern Art Miss and Rocknroll Baby, Dean Braun’s Carlas Pixel, Vince Vallelonga’s All Done Up and Geoff Webster’s Intrusive. Stanley’s assault on the night doesn’t begin and end with the APG final. He has Young Modern drawn barrier two in the Group 2 Lands Legal Carousel Final, worth $50,000, and Stanley said with cover “he will hit the line really well”. Fellow Victorian trainer Vince Vallelonga has Stunning Grin drawn in barrier one. Our Overnova will contest the Group 3 Michael Gamble Bulli Trotters Cup, and Stanley said the gelding had been luckless in his three starts at Menangle but was “training really well and if she is on her best behaviour she can win it”.  And Kurahaupo Gambler, who Stanley said had been “hitting the line really well”, will contest the Pace in race two to kick off a big day for the stable. by Michael Howard

Former Queensland harness racing trainer Shane Sanderson was the first interstate trainer to make the move to the new Menangle Training Centre earlier this year. In total Sanderson has had 45 starters since making the fulltime move to Sydney and broke through for a metropolitan winner at Tabcorp Park Menangle when My Jellignite won Saturday night's Free- For- All. Ironically Sanderson was at Brisbane's Albion Park on Saturday night cheering home his children as they competed on their mini-trotters and missed the win. "My wife and kids are still in Queensland and it is very hard being away from them," Sanderson said. "Last weekend was one of my trips back to Brisbane to catch up with them so I actually missed my first Saturday winner but it was great to see My Jellignite win." Sanderson confirmed he was a little surprised by the victory but the small field suited My Jellignite and he got the perfect run throughout. "I was a bit surprised by the win but in saying that, at his best, he's never far away from the open company horses. He has won a couple of Free-For-All races in Brisbane with the right run, he can be dangerous in those sort of races especially when the best horses aren't there. "My Jellignite hadn't raced for a month, he had some vet work done during that time because he does have a few maintenance issues as he is getting older. He has been competing mainly at the Tuesday meetings and therefore been drawing poorly because of his assessment but has been getting back and running home quite well." The decision to make the move to Sydney was a difficult one for Sanderson and he is giving himself twelve months to establish himself. "I hope to be in Sydney for good. It is a 'suck it and see approach' and at the end of the year I will talk with my family and see how things are going. I'm happy with how everything is going - I think I've started quite well. " "I've run a lot of placings and have had three or four winners. I've lost count of the number of close seconds I've run but it has been good for the owners so far." From Sanderson's 45 starters he has trained four winners, ten seconds and four thirds. "I bought ten horses down with me and I currently have eleven on the books. I'm hoping to slowly increase the numbers with some good results. "The opportunities that could present themselves in Sydney, the prize money and the state of the art facilities were the reasons I decided to make the move and hopefully the decision turns out to be the right one." Greg Hayes

Leppington trainer Kevin Pizzuto is glowing in his praise for lightly raced three-year-old Heza Bromac.  The son of Rob Roy Mattgregor has won four of his five career starts and harness racing trainer Pizzuto expects the gelding to make it five from six after he competed at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Pizzuto is pleading with NZ Jewels organisers to give Heza Bromac an invite to the series and is confident the horse would represent Australia proudly. “He by far and away is the best horse I have ever had in my stable, I’ve had some nice horses over the years but there is daylight between Heza Bromac and the rest,” Pizzuto said. “I’ve got no doubt given the right conditions and on the back of a good speed he could run a 1:48.0 mile, he is just a freak of a horse and has done everything I have asked him to do.” Heza Bromac was purchased by Pizzuto out of New Zealand for some clients but it took him a while to settle into his new surrounds. “He wasn’t right when he came over, he was lame and then he wanted to hang so I gave him four and a half months off and it did the trick with him.  His owner Danny (Zavitsanos) puts a lot of money into the game and I’m really happy that he has got such a good one. “Heza Bromac is one of those horses that takes a lot of work to keep him up to the mark, the harder you work him the better he goes.” Heza Bromac will be looking for his second win at Menangle this week after winning on Tuesday afternoon.  He produced a blistering turn of foot when racing off the speed and recorded a career best 1:52.5.  He also produced a stunning 25.6 final quarter when winning at Menangle three starts ago. “He should be winning again on Saturday night.  He is so versatile and so strong, I’ve looked after him and while he won’t be out to set any records this weekend, we have to be mindful that the Jewels organisers will be watching so I hope he’ll go well. “If we get the invite Todd (McCarthy) will retain the drive in New Zealand, none of the stars in New Zealand worry me and I think he would be right up there with them.” Stablemate Alta Jerome will race for the first time in four weeks on Saturday night but will have to topple Beautide if he is to be victorious. “I’m happy with where he is at, I think he is on his way back to his best and I’d like to think he could squeeze into the Len Smith Mile in a couple of month’s time.” Pizzuto’s winning strike-rate continues to be healthy and a lot of his stable’s success he puts down to the staff he has working for him. “Karen (Crouch) is great with the horses, so too is my daughter and then I’ve got Joe working for me as well.  Brendan Barnes has come down from Queensland and I think he is going to be one of the leading junior drivers in NSW.” Greg Hayes

Burrumbeet’s Michael Stanley produced an Australian Pacing Gold winning double at yesterday's harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Stanley produced Soho Angel and Petacular to win their respective APG heats, both fillies progressing to the $30,000 semi-finals on April 23 ahead of a tilt at the rich $322,000 final on April 30 at Menangle. “There’s good money up for grabs in these races throughout the series,” Stanley said. Exciting Somebeachsomewhere/Ideal Priority filly Petacular ran a 1:55.8 mile today, working forward to find the lead from gate four heading into the first turn. She got home in 56.2secs. “She’s always shown above average ability. She got a cold after her last run at Kilmore and was underdone heading into today but she still got the job done,” Stanley said. WATCH PETACULAR WIN TODAY AT MENANGLE Soho Angel (Bettors Delight/Soho Champagne) ran 1:56.8 to defeat odds-on favourite Jovial Rock by a short half-head today. “She’s really thrived up here at Menangle,” Stanley said. “She trialled nicely last week and then raced the way she’d been working.” Cody Winnell 

Queensland trotting filly Illdoitwhenimready has headed south. The Chantal Turpin trained three-year-old left for Sydney yesterday (Tuesday) in preparation for a raft of harness racing features over the coming weeks culminating in the Gr.1 $40,000 NSW Trotters Oaks at TABCORP Park, Menangle on May 21. Her campaign starts next week where she will contest the $10,000 Trotters Flying Mile at Menangle. And she heads south in-form following her excellent first-up victory at Albion Park on March 29 defeating older rivals in a time of 2:02.8 for 2138m. “The victory proved she deserved her chance with this campaign in Sydney so we decided to give it a shot, she’ll be based with Pete’s sister Narissa who trains on the track. Obviously, it’s going to be much harder but she’s only a three-year-old once and I think the benefits of this trip away will help her long term.” Turpin said. The Great Success – Countess Jolie filly has always shown natural ability and has built up an impressive record of two wins and two minor placings from just five career starts to date. With limited options in her home state, connections were faced with two options and decided to press on with the current campaign. “It was either send her back to the paddock or continue and give Sydney a go and we thought the racing campaign would be more beneficial. She won’t be overly raced during this stint in Sydney but we thought the time away would switch her on more mentally. “There’s not much of this filly as she’s lightly framed but she continues to develop and strengthen with each campaign. I know Pete (McMullen – driver) was really impressed with her effort last week and the time was her best to date as well. “The opposition will be very strong not only locally but I’m sure the Victorians and maybe even some Kiwi trotters might head to Sydney for some of these features coming up but the opportunity was there and we’re giving it a shot. I think racing and even training on the bigger track will be a great thing for her also.” Illdoitwhenimready was bred by Turpin and McMullen but is raced by Turpin’s brother Jake, a contracted NRL player with the Melbourne Storm. Jake is currently ruled out owing to a broken thumb sustained in an under-20’s game against the Cronulla Sharks two weeks ago. by Chris Barsby

In recent years horses like Mister Zion and On Thunder Road have started their careers as pacers before switching to a lucrative trotting career.  Mister Zion won a Group One event as a pacer and trotter and while Menangle harness racing trainer Shane Tritton has no plans to set Gaius Caesar for feature trotting events at this stage, he is hoping the three time Group One winning pacer can make a successful switch to trotting. Gaius Caesar needs to trial as a trotter on two occasions and the nine-year-old gelding completed the first of those on Tuesday afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  Gaius Caesar won the trial in two minutes and covered his final 400 metres in 27.5 seconds. Tritton is happy with Gaius Caesar’s progress and is hoping the change can rejuvenate the 131-start veteran. “Trotting has always made up a large part of his training programme even when Darren Binskin was training him, so he is a very fluent trotter,” Tritton said. “It has always been in the back of my mind to try something like this with him and recently I wanted to use him as a galloping pacemaker for one of my two year olds and all he wanted to do was trot.  Gaius Caesar ended up trotting the entire session and beat the pacer so it got me thinking seriously about giving it a go.” Gaius Caesar won the Bohemia Crystal FFA, Cordina Sprint and Len Smith Mile in 2013 and defeated some talented pacers including Caribbean Blaster, Mah Sish and Excel Stride. He has won 35 races pacing and has $546,935. “His racing style would be better suited to trotting rather than pacing because he is so dour and just keeps on grinding away so races over further than a mile would be right up his alley. “He is working as well as a trotter I have in stable at the moment called No Potato and he will be racing this Saturday night so if he keeps on trotting and doesn’t want to naturally switch back to a pace I think he’ll make a good go of it.” Tritton confirmed the son Julius Caesar would find himself on a tough mark as a trotter as his pacing wins would be counted towards his trotting assessment. “As I understand it he would be very highly assessed in Australia because his pacing assessment would just switch over to a trotting assessment but he would still be viewed as a trotting maiden in New Zealand which brings up a whole other possibility. “He has been shod differently but I actually think he trots better when shod as a pacer which is strange but I worked him recently and he trotted a mile in two minutes, got home in 58 seconds and wasn’t pushed to do it.  So while he still needs to improve on the clock I am happy with how he is progressing.” Gaius Caesar last raced on December 19th when he finished sixth behind Lettucerockthem at Menangle. Greg Hayes

Belinda and Luke McCarthy are closing in on 1000 training winners as the couple continue to be a major force across New South Wales. Belinda McCarthy trained a treble at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night continuing the harness racing stable's strong form and combined they have trained 987 winners. While the NSW training premiership has been dominated by Steve Turnbull and Shane Tritton for the past two years, the McCarthy stable has reappeared as a serious title contender. With seven months of the season completed, Belinda McCarthy has trained 90 winners with leader Steve Turnbull on 91. Luke McCarthy had his first runner as a trainer on 31 January 2003 and surprisingly in the next seven years trained just seven individual horses. Those seven horses were Slipnslide, Montana Moonlite, Fleur De Lil, Treasure Hunter, Barjea, Washakie and For a Reason. Combined they won 90 races in the first seven years of Luke's training career. Since then Belinda and Luke have combined to win 897 races and therefore have averaged more than twelve winners per month after 31 January 2010.    LUKE BELINDA TOTAL Starters 1216 2206 3422 Winners 440 547 987 Placings 324 593 917 Prizemoney $6,991,114 $9,703,918 $16,695,032 Gr. 1 winners 17 25 42 Belinda and Luke are full of praise for the owners that have supported them over the years and hope that the winners will continue to flow. “We are proud of what we have achieved.  In the early days in Brisbane I didn’t train many and just had a couple at any one time,” Luke said. “The last four or so years since we’ve come to Sydney we’ve been really busy and it has been an unbelievable run.  We have been lucky enough to train some nice horses like Slipnslide, Mr Feelgood, Fleur De Lil and in more recent years Bling It On. “We’ll just keep working and hopefully we’ll keep coming up with the winners but a large part of the success comes from great owners and great staff.” Greg Hayes

Saturday night has become the “home” of Tabcorp Park Menangle’s metropolitan harness racing meetings each week. Now the Miracle Mile is ready to make the move as well, with the revelation the 2017 Miracle Mile would be run on a Saturday night. While this year’s finale was deemed an outstanding success, the one fault racegoers found was that the Sunday afternoon racing was too hot for both patrons – and horses. So the New South Wales Harness Racing Club this week decided to move the 2017 Miracle Mile to a Saturday night. It will be the 50th running of Australia’s greatest sprint and the club revealed the Sky Carnival of Miracles would be run over the corresponding three weeks with ‘Group One Day’ now becoming ‘Group One Night’. Another significant change announced by the club was that the two qualifying sprints would be run the week before the Miracle Mile. NSWHRC chief executive, Bruce Christison explained this decision was based around the desire to ensure all horses had the best possible opportunity to contest all Grand Circuit events. The move means that there will be a week free of open class group one racing between the Victorian Summer Carnival and Sydney’s Miracle Mile Carnival. “This will give the connections of all horses the opportunity to plan their Grand Circuit campaign knowing there would be a 14-day gap between the Hunter Cup and qualifying sprints,” said Christison. “While the race conditions are still to be finalised, one aspect which will certainly not change is the use of the Chariots of Fire as a qualifying race. “After the record-breaking performance of Have Faith in Me and the amazing run by Arms of Angel, the introduction of the Chariots of Fire as a qualifier for the Miracle Mile was an enormous success.” Christison confirmed the Chariots of Fire would kick off the three-week carnival on Saturday night February 11, with the two sprints to be held a week later on Saturday night, February 18. The highlight, naturally, will be Group One Night on Saturday, February 25, featuring six Group One races and headlined by the Miracle Mile. “While the Sunday Miracle Mile was a winner, one factor the club could not control was the weather and the heat has been an issue over the past four years,” said Christison. “Hopefully the move to Saturday night will solve that problem. “The club is now working on some outstanding promotions to recognise the 50-year history of the event with details to be revealed in coming months.” For further information telephone NSWHRC Chief Executive Bruce Christison on (02) 4645 2200.

Irish pacer Meadowbranch DJ has no time for celebrating St Patrick's Day on Thursday with new trainer John McCarthy confirming the Inter Dominion competitor is ready to resume after two solid trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle. McCarthy has been pleased with both efforts and will now sit down and look for a suitable race. Meadowbranch DJ last raced on December 4 at Gloucester Park when he finished behind Devendra, however on resumption the son of Real Artist will be racing much weaker opposition. Although he has won 23 races in the United Kingdom, Meadowbranch DJ is assessed as a C1 pacer in Australia. "I think he is going to do a good job in Sydney, he is lowly assessed and I think he will be best suited to Menangle because he really likes racing over the mile," McCarthy said. "I've been really happy with his two trials, he just knocked up late in his first trial, the winner broke 1:53 and he wasn't too far away." "On Tuesday I told Todd (McCarthy) to go around 1:54 and let him run through the line which is exactly what happened." McCarthy keeps in contact with former trainer Willie Flanagan and confirmed he had received a text message prior to Meadowbranch DJ's trial on Tuesday. "I spent some time with the Irish boys in Western Australia and they're all good guys, Willie sent me a message asking what I expected from the trial on Tuesday and they're obviously keeping a close eye on what he is doing here in Sydney." "On the times he is running in the trials he is going to get through to metropolitan class, he can get a bit keen in his races but if I can keep a lid on him between runs I think he should do a really good job." Meanwhile stablemate Cyclone Kate is back in work and will be aimed towards the upcoming Carousel series. Cyclone Kate won the Group 2 Carnival Stakes on Miracle Mile afternoon and McCarthy admits he will be forced to keep her away from the races prior to a Carousel heat. "If she wins another race she won't be eligible to compete in the Carousel so I'll have to get her fit at the trials, she didn't have long off so she didn't lose too much condition." "It looks a pretty good series for her but I know Belinda and Luke are aiming Kept Under Wraps at the Carousel so like always there will be plenty of depth." Lord Zin Zan is still spelling after his encouraging campaign. The four-year-old pacer finished second behind Have Faith In Me in the Chariots Of Fire and MCCarthy has now set his sights on the Breeders Crown. "I never ask too much of my horses at four, all of the good horses I've had success with previously I've been patient with at four, I think if you give them an easy season and they have the ability, it helps them develop into a Grand Circuit performer." "I was mindful Lord Zin Zan had suffered from a leg injury and while everything was fine with him during this campaign, I thought if I gave him some time off now it would ensure that the leg doesn't become an issue later on." Greg Hayes

WITH $20,000 up for grabs as part of the Carnival Of Cups Bonus this season, Goulburn harness racing trainer Bradley Hewitt has signalled his intention to chase the extra money on offer after Spare Me Days won Saturday night's Young Pacers Cup. The new bonus encourages horses to compete in the Carnival Of Cups' six biggest events, with the owners attendance at the feature meetings scoring important bonus points. Three of the six feature races in the series have now been run and Spare Me Days currently leads the disclosed leaderboard. The owners' bonus points will not be announced until a function at Tabcorp Park Menangle for the Bulli Cup meeting on April 30. Spare Me Days is four points in front of the Dennis Picker trained Condagen with James Rattray's Pachacuti in third spot a further two points behind. So while Penrith's Renshaw Cup on Thursday April 14 is the next logical target for Spare Me Days, Hewitt confirmed he is considering taking the four year old to Queensland for the Winter Carnival. "The short term targets will be the Carnival Of Cups Bonus Races, Spare Me Days won at Young and finished second at Goulburn, so he is going pretty well in the point score and the extra prizemoney would be good," Hewitt said "We will go to Queensland later in the year but the Breeders Challenge in New South Wales is also an important target for the horse." Hewitt confirmed he had been disappointed with Spare Me Days earlier in the season but the son of Ifihadyourluck had turned the corner recently. "He was a little bit below his best at the start of this campaign, he'd put in a really good run and then he would go poorly at his next start. He had a few little issues but I've been able to get on top of them and as a result he is absolutely flying. "Going into Saturday night's Young Cup, despite the depth of the race, I honestly thought he could win, there were some nice horses in the race that looked set to run along a bit. I thought the smaller track would even the field up too but to win the way he did was something I really couldn't believe." Spare Me Days was the first leg of a driving double for Hewitt with Gotta Go Jazzy Jet winning another of the night's feature races, the Young Oaks. "She ran sixth in the NSW Oaks a couple of weeks ago and I told her owner Phil Thurston to take her home and give her a few days in the paddock to get over it." Gotta Go Jazzy Jet followed race favourite Art Mistress throughout and was produced on the turn before unleashing a devastating finish. "I was lucky early, I thought I was going to have to keep on working forward out three wide at the start but Steve Turnbull went to the pegs instead of being on Bernie's (Art Mistress driver) back so I was able to slot in and get the perfect run. "I thought Bern would have got going a bit earlier than what he did but it helped because I didn't have to come out too wide too early." Greg Hayes

Breeding giant Alabar will be the naming rights sponsor of the Harness Racing New South Wales Breeders Challenge for the next three years.  The Breeders Challenge has become Australia’s leading breeding scheme through the development of a lucrative race series which sees more than $840,000 distributed in prizemoney on the Finals day in June. Overall the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge delivers more than $3.5 million to the industry annually.  Through the partnership with Alabar, HRNSW will continue to support local breeders and Chief Executive John Dumesny praised the management of Alabar for its decision. “Pepper Tree Farm have been great supporters of the NSW Breeders Challenge in recent years and with announcement that Rob and Julie Vandyke would be entering into a commercial arrangement with Alabar, HRNSW is pleased to confirm Alabar has agreed to continue to sponsor the NSW Breeders Challenge for the next three years,” Mr Dumesny said. “The Alabar Breeders Challenge will continue to maintain its position as the nation’s leading breeding scheme and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Alan Galloway and his team for their support.” The first of the Alabar Breeders Challenge heats will be run on May 18 with all of the finals to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday June 26th. “The Breeders Challenge has continued to develop since its inception and for the first time the three-year-old-pacers finals will be worth $150,000 later this year. “The square gaiters have not been forgotten either with a four-and-five-year-old trotters final worth $30,000 to be conducted for the first time on the final Sunday in June.” Greg Hayes

Newly adopted Victorian trotter Our Overanova will start this weekend in the Gr.1 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton. Recently transferred to the harness racing stables of talented horseman Mick Stanley at Burrumbeet, near Ballarat, Our Overanova lines up in the second $50,000 qualifying heat where he takes on star performers Keystone Del and boom Kiwi Speeding Spur. Our Overanova will start from gate four in the 1720m feature event. And a forward showing is expected according to his new mentor. “He’s a great addition to the stable and although we’re still getting to know one another, he’s in great order and I’m confident he can do enough to qualify for the final. This is something new for both of us but I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Stanley said. The Great Southern Star is the ultimate test of speed and endurance, this event will showcase the very best of Australasian Trotting. It is the only event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere with horses racing off in Elimination Heats in order to qualify for a starting place in the Final on the same program. Total stakes for this year’s event will be $400,000. In order to qualify for the final which caters for ten runners, both qualifying heat winners gain automatic entry while the remaining eight places in the final will be taken by the horses with the eight fastest times from the two elimination heats. Our Overanova had little luck last start in the Gr.1 $54,000 Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle when 9th behind On Thunder Road after copping an early check before making a break himself. The Monarchy gelding is yet to miss to place in three starts at Melton to date.   “We’re clearly in the strongest heat with the likes of Keystone Del and Speeding Spur among others lining up but I’m more than happy with the way he’s worked for me in preparation for this series since he arrived last week. “His overall record is very impressive and every time he’s ventured south previously, he’s always performed well including his efforts down here last year when he was with Luke and Belinda (McCarthy). “While I’m yet to discuss tactics with Greg (Mitchell – owner), my early thoughts are to go back at the start because I can see plenty of early pressure with the likes of Michael Thomas, El Paco and Speeding Spur all looking to go forward to work Keystone Del from his inside draw. But that decision will ultimately rest with Greg so I’m fairly open at this point, I’m sure we’ll work out a game plan which will give us a great opportunity of qualifying.” Meanwhile, Stanley was active at last week’s Australian Pacing Gold yearling sale in Brisbane with owner Grantley Davis securing two lots. Davis paid $15,000 for lot 427, an Always A Virgin – Layback Cullen filly before buying lot 449, a Shadow Play – Too Much Rum colt for $13,000. Both youngsters are eligible for the exclusive $100,000 Sales race next year at Albion Park. by Chris Barsby

Sixteen-year-old mini trotting driver Aleisha Bond has been selected to participate in the upcoming Lizzie Of Rossland drivers challenge in New Zealand. Aleisha is a fourth generation participant involved in harness racing and hopes to follow in the footsteps of other family members by obtaining her trial drivers licence in the upcoming season. The Lizzie Of Rossland series will see Aleisha drive six different ponies over the carnival which will being on April 28. It will be a testing experience having to drive different ponies but the NSW association and HRNSW are wishing Aleisha all the best in her attempt to bring back a series win to Australia. Aleisha has spent eleven years participating in mini trotting and while she has had some highs and lows during her career, last season she was fortunate enough to compete in the first ever Ross Gigg Challenge at Newcastle. Aleisha also managed to run a place at the state championships on Velvets Little Star before taking the pony to win the Mini Miracle Mobile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Miracle Mile day last month. The thrill of that success was clearly the biggest of her career. HRNSW would like to congratulate all of the participants who were nominated and acknowledges there were a number of worthy representatives. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Greg Hayes  

IT has been less than two weeks since Beautide was beaten by Have Faith In Me in the 2016 Miracle Mile but the dual Inter Dominion winner will return to harness racing at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Friday afternoon. Trainer/driver James Rattray is happy with the gelding's condition and confirmed it had been business as usual since the Miracle Mile. "Beautide went through his regular recovery routine after the Miracle Mile, he had a couple of easy days and he is right to go again this Friday afternoon," Rattray said. "He is all good, he seems well and the run hasn't knocked him around so I'd be expecting him to perform well this week." Beautide will continue to race in Sydney in the short-term but Rattray is considering his options later in the year. "I'd like to give him a few runs in Sydney, every two or three weeks would be ideal but I'll just have to start him when there are races programmed for him. I'd be happy to give him a short freshen up soon rather than a spell and just keep him ticking over. "I'm considering taking him to Queensland later in the year and I'll be very interested to see what they do in Victoria with the feature races because that's a good option for him as well." Rattray also has Desdon Murruffy engaged on Friday but says the barrier draw is going to make it very tough. "Desdon Murruffy is up against it from the draw, I didn't think his run on Miracle Mile day was too bad considering the times they were running and he did do a lot of work to get around the field. "Our Summer Vacation will go around in the first race, he last raced on February 19, he has had a small issue but everything is right now, he might need the run this week." Rattray also announced talented mare El Jays Magic has joined his stable and is only two to three weeks away from being produced. "She is a very good mare that has been sent to me from Tasmania, she is only an M1 so she comes on a pretty good mark." El Jays Magic won the Harness Breeders Victoria Jane Ellen Listed Classic in 2015 defeating Courageousnquick and Bellas Delight. Greg Hayes

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