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The “barefoot wonder” did it again as Sebastian K was able to lead from start to finish and set a harness racing track record for older horses with his 1:53 triumph at Vernon Downs Friday in the $236,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot. Leaving like he was shot out of a rocket, trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt has Sebastian K on the lead just moments after leaving the starting gate. Also leaving and securing the two-hold trip behind him was Archangel and driver Yannick Gingras as they sped to the opening quarter mile in an easy :28.1. Then in typical fashion, Svanstedt backed off Sebastian K to the half mile marker in :57.3 with Archangel right on their backs. It was then that Market Share and driver Tim Tetrick began to move up first-over and following their outside flow was Quick Deal (Matt Kakaley). When they passed the three-quarters in 1:26.3, Market Share was still gaining ground on the leaders and as they started down the stretch Archangel looked as if he had plenty of trot but no place to go as he was locked in behind Sebastian K with Market Share on the outside. Then in the stretch, Svanstedt let Sevastian K have his head and the world champion trotters pulled away from the group and went on to win with ease by two open lengths. Archangel was second with Market Share third. His 1:53 clocking tied the track record for older trotters that was first set in 2013 by For You Almost Free. “It was a great race,” said Bjorn “Bernie” Noren, second trainer for Ake Svanstedt, “He got an easy first half and a pretty good second half. It was an easy race for him tonight. During the off time he does what he always does. He trains twice a week intervals on the sand track and then go in the paddock the rest of the week. “It is such a great experience to have a good horse like him,” Noren said. “It is good to bring a top horse like Sebastian K here and that the fans really appreciate him. He has so many fans now and that is great for harness racing. We need that in our sport. “His next race will be at Hoosier Park on September 20 and then he will go to Lexington,” Noren said. Then we will go to Yonkers for their new International Trot and then maybe if all is OK we will supplement him to the Breeders Crown.” For Sebastian K it was his third straight win and eighth victory in nine outings here in the USA. His only loss was by a neck. The eight-year-old son of Korean was bred and is owned by Knutsson Trotting, Inc. of Vero Beach, FL. Sebastian K paid $2.30 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

It was announced yesterday by owners Richard and Joanne Young and trainer Chris Ryder that the party is over for world champion pacer I Luv The Nitelife as she has been retired from racing. After attempting to come back from an injury sustained at the end of the 2013 season, owners Richard and Joanne Young made the decision to quit with I Luv The Nitelife on Tuesday. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover - Lisjune was winless in two starts this year after recovering from a slab knee fracture and atrial fibrillation. "[She] has a few issues we didn't feel she deserved to race with," trainer Chris Ryder confirmed to Trot Insider. "Just a great mare, all heart. Very saddened by her retirement but it is the thing to do." Richard Young purchased I Luv The Nitelife, a daughter of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Lisjune, for $60,000 under the name Hard Rock Deo at the Lexington Selected Sale in 2011. Richard Young loves to name his yearlings with something unique and came up with "I Luv The Nitelife" as he has done with other top horses he and Joanne own including Put On A Show.  Now according to the Young's, I Luv The Nitelife will go to the breeding shed next season. "We are going to miss you racing sweet girl!," Joanne Young said, "Oh, but the babies you will make!" As a two-year-old, 'Nitelife' put together a record reading 4-4-1 in 10 freshman starts to bank $682,574 in purses for the Youngs and trainer Chris Ryder. In addition to setting a world record of 1:50.1 in an elimination of the She's A Great Lady at Mohawk Racetrack, she also won the final along with divisions of the Eternal Camnation and Bluegrass Stakes. I Luv The Nitelife was also a runner-up in the Champlain Stake, International Stallion Stakes and Breeders Crown. The O'Brien voters gave her the nod as their choice for Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 2012. The voters had no doubt who was the best three-year-old pacing filly in 2013. I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races last year and $1.25 million en route to divisional honours as Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in Canada and capturing USHWA's Dan Patch Award in the U.S. Her sophomore triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Jugette, Mistletoe Shalee and Miss New Jersey Pacing Classic. Her 1:48.4 time in the Valley Forge is the world record for a three-year-old filly on a five-eighths-mile track.   For her career, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune has won 17 of 27 races and $1.94 million. No female pacer in harness racing history has won more money at ages two and three. "‎Very appreciative of the honors she accumulated," added Ryder. "Very special. She will be impossible to replace." With two world records and multiple stakes under her belt, one of her losses stands out to her co-owner as the race that shows her guts and determination. "Her last race [at three] in the American National," Richard Young told Trot Insider. "She should have lost by 10 and just got beat. One of the most memorable races of my life, and more than likely the race that ended her career." ‎"A mare like 'Nitelife' is as good as it gets, all business," continued Young. "She gave all she had in every race. She didn't wait for things to set up. She forced everyone to alter their style to race her. "If she passes her will to compete, she will be the ultimate broodmare." by Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com with files from Trot Insider

On harness racings big day at the Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton yesterday, there were six pacing races up for decision. There was a great mixture of stock by all the sires in great demand by breeders in Australia. Bettors Delight, Mach Three and Sportswriter all had representation but by the end of the days racing, one stallion stood head and shoulders above the competition - Art Major His stock won three of the six pacing finals and sent breeders a clear message with the breeding season just around the corner. If anything this season, the gap in Australia between Art Major and the chasing pack  at  the age group level has grown larger and more pronounced. As the season draws to a close Art Major is $368,000 ahead of Bettors Delight on the 2 year old sires list and $1,166,000 ahead on the 3 year old list and that really confirms what a spectacular season he has had in Australia. Yesterday the two year old and three year old sections of the Breeders Crown finals were dominated by Art Major. Follow The Stars was outstanding in the 2 year old colts/geldings final, burning to the front from the outside of the gate and giving nothing else a chance from that point. But for being wiped out in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand, Follow The Stars would have been unbeaten at two. Being bred the way he is, if Follow The Stars can kick on at three then he certainly has all the credentials to be given a chance in the stallion barn. Major Crocker was a super winner of the 3 year old colts /geldings final. Used up big time early to hold the lead on two occasions, Major Crocker still found enough in the straight to pick up the outstanding Bling It On. It was a real statement from Major Crocker and he looks to have the all round game to be a "major " player next season and beyond. The third winner on the day was Just Cala  in the 3 year old fillies final who has stepped up to another level in her last few starts. A brilliant winner of her semi final, Just Cala showed that was no fluke with another outstanding performance against the best fillies going around in Australia. The Alabar team would have been smiling at those results but the cherry on top for them would have been the run of Jk Shesalady in the eliminations of the She's A Great Lady at Mohawk in Canada. She was the fastest of the elimination winners yesterday in a time of 1:51.1 and by over seven lengths and looms as the filly to beat in the $480,000 final next weekend. Art Major has always been an elite sire but right at the moment his stock worldwide are on an unbelievable run. Harnesslink Media

A month ago mighty mare Spidergirl made it a clean sweep of harness racings Vicbred Super Series with a brilliant win in the four-year-old trotting division. She’d won the Vicbred finals at age two and three but had come up short in the previous Breeders Crown finals. But today the daughter of Yankee Spider netted the Breeders Crown win that had so far eluded her, taking out the four-year-old trotters’ final. Trained by David Aiken – bringing up a race to race Group 1 double for the Avenel horseman – and driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, Spidergirl led easily in the 2240-metre race from pole before proving too tough for runner-up Glenferrie Typoon, who had a great trip leader’s back in the run, and tough trotter Blitzthemcalder, who sat parked. Paris Pepperell finished fourth. Spidergirl’s winning mile rate was 1:58.7 and the margins were 2m x 10m. “Getting to drive great horses like her makes it easy to get out of bed each morning,” winning driver Alford said post-race. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

The All Stars team  pleased Mark Purdon with their work on Wednesday as they have pleased him all week.   All but Big Lucy were sent over a steady 3200m with a quickening last half and  Friday's work is likely to be shorter and sharper.   BIG LUCY is the exception. "I kept her on a Tuesday/Thursday work option and I haven't been doing a lot with her.   She is fine but she has done a lot in a short time so I don't want  to be too hard on her" Mark said   I am just as happy with the trotter (My) Arya as I am with the pacers   "Arya is going very well actually and if she keeps going on like this I think she could be hard to beat"   "Happy enough" was Natalie's report from Mark on the draws for Sunday's final.   "You don't really want an inside second row draw like Linda Lovegrace has but we will just have to find a way out of there.   Follow The Stars is wide out on the front line but  he is out of trouble and he's strong so that's all good"   Natalie flies out on Saturday after some strong hoppled work  with the team in the morning and she and Mark will take a break in sunny Queensland after the big day.   "All good" was Mark's summation of how the Breeders Crown finalists came through their semis on Saturday by Sunday morning.   "They all licked the bowl and seem happy so I am happy as well"   Mark made a brief appearance in the stewards room after handing up the lead on Big Lucy to Katy Perry (Dexter Dunn) after getting to the front.   "I was mindful it was a strong fillies field and that Lucy had had quite a hard run at her previous start.   I thought if I tried to stay in front there were other good fillies who would be around to attack and it would just keep going on.   There was no problem with the stewards"   "I still don't know how Kept Under Wraps didn't get wiped out early.   I was sure he was going to get caught up in it but somehow he didn't so his was a big run"   Breeders Crown Finals Tips   Best Bet - Arya   Each Way - Linda Lovegrace   Value Bet - Kept Under Wraps   Courtesy Of All Stars Racing    

Here at Harnesslink, we thought we would be brave and offer our opinion on the Breeders Crown Finals as we head towards one of the seasons biggest harness racing days at Melton on Sunday. Our first preview is of the 2 year old trotters division.  2 year old Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park final for 2 year old fillies looks to be a battle between three fillies that are all sired via frozen semen and are all by stallions that are at the top of the siring charts in North America. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained daughter of Angus Hall in Arya looks very hard to beat here after an outstanding season in New Zealand which was followed up by a great second to the leading Australian male trotter in Eljaykay Phoenix in the Redwood Classic. Arya has been foolproof all season which in the 2 year old trotting ranks is a major plus and with no Endsino in the field she looks to have a class edge as well. Arya should come into five on the front line which is the perfect draw for here as she can stay out of the early rush and work to the lead without having to burn from the gate. The two main dangers to Arya have both drawn nicely on the front line and are both beautifully bred trotters. Glenferrie Burn who has drawn one is a daughter of the brilliant Muscle Hill from the 16 win Sundon mare in Adellas Dash ($102,626). She has developed as the season has progressed and looks a real chance from the draw to get a soft run. Val Gardena who has drawn three is a daughter of leading North American sire Kadabra from an Andover Hall mare. She has only missed a placing once this season in ten starts and comes into this race a last start winner. From her handy draw Blake Fitzpatrick has plenty of options with Val Gardena and she looks a major player here. Of the others Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty have both shown enough to be serious place chances but its hard to see them as genuine winning chances. Selections Arya clearly on top, followed by a combination of Val Gardena, Glenferrie Burn, Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty. 2 year old Trotting Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park Final for 2 year old colts/geldings has drawn a cracking field and the draw has only evened out the contest even more.  All the top contenders have drawn the front line with the favourite Eljaykay Phoenix fearing the worst with barrier seven. A son of champion sire Sundon, Eljaykay Phoenix has looked a class above them for most of the season but his recent defeat by Shared Interest has thrown this division wide open. Throw in his draw and the fact that all the real challengers have drawn inside him means if Eljaykay Phoneix and Joshua Aiken are going to win the final, they are going to have to do it the hard way. His main challenger is the son of Angus Hall in Shared Interest who has drawn beautifully at barrier two which gives Nathan Jack plenty of options Weather he tries to park Eljaykay Phoenix or takes a sit on his back, Shared Interest has the all round game to win the final. The chances don't end there with both Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck capable of toppling the favoured duo if things go their way. Illawong Armstrong finally gets a good draw and Jodi Quinlan will be hoping that the favoured pair go to war which then brings her horse right into play. The enigma of the field is The Pres gelding Primz Luck whose ring craft has let him down lately but who has ability to burn as he showed in New Zealand several times. Now in the Kerryn Manning barn and to be driven by her in the final, Primz Luck threw it away on his Australian debut in the Redwood Classic. Kerryn has had five weeks since then to iron out those kinks and if he gets around on Sunday they will all know they have been to the races. Selections. Can't split the two favourites in Shared Interest and Eljaykay Phoenix due to the draws but lean a bit towards Eljaykay Phoneix on his overall record. Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck are both live chances depending how the race is run. Throw in Kyvalley Boomerang, Fabrication and Hadrians Phoenix for trifectas and first fours.  Harnesslink Media    

Bigga trainer Dennis Picker has spent the past ten weeks in Queensland enjoying the warmer weather and has won nine races during his stay north of the border. Picker arrived home midweek but will be back on the road this weekend to put the finishing touches on his talented filly Just Cala after she won a semi final of the Breeders Crown last weekend. "Just Cala has done a really good job for us since arriving from New Zealand and hopefully she can run another good race this weekend before she goes to the paddock for a well earned spell," Picker said. "I think she had only been in the country six or seven days when she had her first run in Brisbane and then she raced on August 2 at Redcliffe before I sent her to Victoria to race at Kilmore five days later, she has just taken everything in her stride." Just Cala has drawn barrier one in Sunday's Gr. 1 final and Picker is confident she has got enough speed if driver Amanda Turnbull wants to use it. "I haven't spoken to Amanda yet about what she thinks but I have used Just Cala out of the gate in Queensland and she raced really well so if she wants to go forward at the start it isn't too much of a worry." The daughter of  Art Major is raced by Picker's brother Joe who is a member of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league squad. "Joe wants to start selling some at the sales but to do that he has realised that he has to start buying some well bred fillies and this is why he bought her, to turn her into a broodmare at the end of her career." "I've been watching a fair bit of the Rabbitohs since Joe joined them after he left the Raiders, they're going really well and hopefully they keep playing well with the finals just around the corner." Picker splits his time between training and shearing sheep. "I have been doing less shearing each year and I think that trend is going to continue again with such a big team at home." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales  

Multiple Gr. 1 winner Frith has drawn the inside of the second row in Sunday's Breeders Crown Final for 4 Year Old Mares and while trainer Bruce Harpley is concerned by the barrier he would not be swapping his horse for any of their rivals this weekend. Frith won the Breeders Crown for three year old fillies last season but drew the front row and pounced on the lead from gate two. "Fellow trainer Danny Thackeray drew the barrier for us on Sunday and before the draw I told him to get anything except barrier eight," Harpley said. "He rang me straight after the draw and I said what did we get, and he said eight, then I said no seriously what did we get so it took a while to sink in but I have come to terms with it now." Harpley acknowledges Frith is going to have to do her fair share of work from the gate and thinks some of the other drivers may be inclined to make an early move. "I think a few drivers would love to sit on our back so it wouldn't surprise me if a few wanted to make a move early and hope that we get around there to the death and give them some cover." "The beauty of my mare is that she is so versatile, she has that mix of speed and strength so even if she does more than her fair share of the work I still think she will be in the finish." Frith will head to the paddock after Sunday's run with her main aim next season being the Ladyship Mile. "I've done some quick calculations and if I give her six or seven weeks off I should have her right to go by early in the new year which would give me the chance to get a few runs under her belt before the Ladyship." "There are no easy races for her anymore, if she happens to win on the weekend I think she becomes a C19 M4 so she will need to be pretty fit when she resumes." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales    

A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ......................................................................   Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria

A Scandinavian quartet have teamed up and bought Broadway Hall. Hans Nelén (Global Farm), John Bootsman (Boko Stables), Mats Gabrielsson (Oxalis) and the couple Siv and Nils Otto Bergslien (The breeders of ”Thai”-horses) are the quartet behind the deal. Broadway Hall will stay in Pennsylvania and will service American breeding during 2015. In the fall, he will be collecting semen for freezing to the European market. Broadway Hall debuted as 2-year-old with making nine starts and he remained undefeated. Among his victories excels elimination and final of the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Sire Stakes and Lexington Breeders Championship. He received the Dan Patch Award as the "2-year-old-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States. Broadway Hall is the father of five world record holders, including the filly Cooler Schooner who last year won at 1: 51.3 at Pocono Downs 5/8-mile-track, which is still the fastest time for a two year old in the world - any track length. He has left two millionaires, Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn and the mare Action-Broadway. He has nearly 700 offspring in North America, which together have earned over 30 million dollars. In Sweden, he has 50 registered offspring where the mare Mermaid Ås (E3-winner and 2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET) is most winning with nearly four million SEK in her bank roll. In Norway Broadway Hall has left Thai Broadway (2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET and Breeders Crown), which earned almost 3.5 million NOK. Facts Age: 14 years (foaled 2000) Pedigree: Conway Hall - B Cor Tamgo Record: 1:56.4 Purse: $436,790 - Won the Dan Patch Award as the ”2YO-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States in 2002. - Undefeated after nine starts as a 2-year old. - Breeders Crown winner. World Champion foals Frau Blucher, 1:53.1 • 3YO fillies at half-mile-track Cooler Schooner, 1:51.3 • 2YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Pilgrims Chuckie, 1:53 • 3YO colts and geldings at 5/8-mile-track Stage Show, 1:53.1 • 4YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Sherman Mountain, 1:53.3 • 3YO geldings at 5/8-mile-track To earning foals USA: Broad Bahn (1.53 • $ 1,547,988), Action-Broadway (1:52.3 • $ 1,071,122), Pilgrims Taj (1:53.3 • $ 996,748), Frau Blucher (1:52.3 • $ 914,367), Broadway Scooner (1:53.3 • $ 885,933) and Opening Night (1:52.2 • $ 749,374). Sweden: Mermaid Ås (1:53.2 • 3,944,747 SEK) and the US-imports - Production (1:54.3 • 1,447,870 SEK), Cool Keeper (1:56 • 1,426,500 SEK) and Dicey Spicey (1:56.4 • 848,494 SEK). Norway: Thai Broadway (1:52.4 • 3,489,856 NOK). Finland: Vincent Van Kemp (1:56.2 • € 78,953). For more information contact either Truls Heslien, Global Farm, +47,328,767 97 +47906596 31 or John Bootsman, Boko Stables, +46 70-582 07 19. by Håkan Persson, for Global Farm

There is an old saying in harness racing that the best will always stand up on the big occasion. Thats how it was over the weekend for the super sire Art Major with his sons and daughters in both hemispheres dominating their opposition. In the Breeders Crown semi finals at Ballarat, Art Major sired horses won five of the eight semi finals for the two and three year olds. The fields were incredibly strong but that didn't stop Art Major from making it a one sire show. Both of the 3 year old fillies semi finals fell to Art Majors with the recent Kiwi import Just Cala winning her semi final in a 1:57 mile rate while in the other semi final Quick Draft defeated Nike Franco and Barynya in a 1:57.5 mile rate and in a manner that left few excuses for the beaten division. The Art Major 2 year old colt Follow The Stars showed why he is rated the best juvenile in Australasia with a powerhouse performance in his semi final, running away over the last 400 meters to win by over four lengths with the last half in a brilliant 55.5 To wrap up the night both the 3 year old colt/geldings semi finals were won by sons of Art Major. First up Major Crocker showed his class with an all the way win in a mile rate of 1:58, with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9 which suggest he is a serious chance in the final. In the second semi final, the race was seen as a match race between Bling It On and Sky Major and thats how it turned out. Bling It On got away with some cheap sectionals mid race in front and sprinted home in 26.4 from the 400 meters but still got nailed late by Art Major's son Sky Major with the overall mile rate being 1:59.8. At Mohawk in Canada on Saturday night was one of the first stakes races for the season that were open to all comers with divisions of the Eternal Camnation for fillies. Easily the most impressive of the Eternal Camnation divisional winners was the Art Major filly Jk Shesalady who made it four from four for the season with a huge win by seven lengths in 1:53.4 Jk Shesalady now looms as one of the early favourites for the $450,000 Shes A Great Lady final on August 30th. Another highlight for Art Major recently has been his achievement in topping the $100,000,000  mark in stake earnings worldwide. The 15 year old son of Artsplace has $72.6 million in North America, $23.6 million in Australia and $4.6 million in New Zealand which are great figures for a sire with so many years still in front of him. Alabar Stud must be smiling 24/7 at the moment with the results that their premier stallion is churning out week after week.  Harnesslink Media Jk Shesalady  

Harness racing often throws up great contests when the Kiwis and Australians meet in battle but the Breeders Crown semis at Ballarat tonight were very one sided with the Kiwis in complete control. In the first semi final, Linda Lovegrace was sent straight to the front by Mark Purdon from barrier four and dictated a solid tempo from the start.  Niki No No worked early from barrier five to get up outside Linda Lovegrace but then proceeded to badly over race with a 29 quarter outside the leader as Greg Sugars fought to get her to settle. Given more reign as they turned for home Linda Lovegrace shot away but then had to withstand a huge finish from the other Kiwi in the race in Cyclone Kate but had enough in reserve to hold on by a length. Linda Lovegrace paced the 2200 meters in 2:41.5, a mile rate of 1:58.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 27.7 Cyclone Kate was sent forward three wide from the 600 meters and to get as close as she did was a big effort and she is a filly that has really improved in the last few weeks. Lettucesomewhere lobbed the trail from barrier one and battled on for third while Niki No No stuck on bravely for fourth after pulling her head off most of the way. The first two looked a class above the competition and both will approach the final with some confidence. Linda Lovegrace In the second semi final Big Lucy and Mark Purdon grabbed an early lead from barrier three before handing up to Kate Perry and Dexter Dunn from barrier four. There was a lot of early moves from the back in this heat and when the dust settled, Joannes A Delight with Anthony Butt in the bike was in the death seat outside Kate Perry with Soho Tokyo on her back. Dexter and Kate Perry snuck a quiet quarter down the back and then brushed home in 27.1 to hold out a game Joannes A Delight by half a neck with Big Lucy finishing third after being unable to clear the pocket. Soho  Tokyo was unable to get clear until late in the race and finished fourth and the same applies to Bamako Mali who finished fifth. Kate Perry paced the 2200 meters in 2:41, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27.1. Joannes A Delight was game in defeat after doing a truck load of work while Big Lucy was going double with no where to go in the straight. The first three home were all Kiwis and after the two semis, the  Kiwis would appear to have a stranglehold on the 2 year old fillies division. Kate Perry Harnesslink Media 

The first semi final for 2 year old colts/geldings at Ballarat for harness racings holy grail, the Breeders Crown was full of incident. Artistic Flite led out from barrier four only to gallop after 100 meters and drift back through the field. Burnaholeinmypocket grabbed an early lead from barrier five and then handed up to Show Me The Bling who went forward from barrier seven. While all this was going on Kept Under Wraps had been badly checked from one on the second line and settled well back  but once balanced again Mark Purdon sent him forward three wide and he found the death seat with a lap and a half to travel outside of Show Me The Bling. This trio stayed in that order for the next lap until nearing the home turn when Kate Gath on Burnaholeinmypocket pushed Kept Under Wraps out and sprinted away for an easy win. It was the Bettor's Delight geldings third win from just six starts and brought him right into contention for next weeks final. He paced the 2200 in 2:41.1, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28. Kept Under Wraps, after looking beaten on the corner rallied in the straight to claim second off Show Me The Bling with Artistic Flite getting home well for fourth. Kept Under Wraps lost no admirers with a gutsy run for second while both Show Me The Bling and Artistic Flight both did enough to suggest they could grab some of the money on finals day. Burnaholeinmypocket The second semi final for 2 year old colts/ geldings was a showcase for the talents of the brilliant Follow The Stars. Sent straight to the front from barrier three by Mark Purdon, Follow The Stars kept up a solid tempo in front and when Mark Purdon let him go at the top of the lane it was all over. He bolted away for an emphatic win by four and a quarter lengths with Stening who had trailed from the start from barrier one running second and Mojo Major who started from one second line battled on for third. Birdy Mach got well out of his ground and finished up sixth and made the final but will need a big turn around in a week to be a major player in the final. It was the eight win from nine starts for the son of Art Major and ensured he will start favourite in next weeks final. Follow The Stars paced the 2200 meters in 2:40, a mile rate of 1:57 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 27. Follow The Stars Harnesslink Media

History says there aren't too many better at dealing with "big-race presure" than New South Wales reinsman Luke McCarthy. On Saturday night McCarthy has a strong book at Ballarat’s Breeders Crown semi-finals meeting, with drives in seven of the eight semis, and he looks certain to qualify several of his stable stars for the rich Super Sunday finals program at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday. McCarthy’s leading Breeders Crown chance according to the markets is three-year-old filly Nike Franco, who is a $2 favourite with the TAB to take out her series final. Nike Franco is coming off a brilliant Queensland campaign that netted her connections the Tatts Gold Coast Oaks, the Group 1 Queensland Oaks and a comfortable win in the Breeders Crown heat at Albion Park when a money-back favourite last time out. McCarthy spoke confidently about Nike Franco’s chances in the three-year-old girls’ second semi-final from gate five. “I think we’d find the front. She was unbeaten in Queensland and she’s improved since then,” McCarthy said. “I think if she can find the front then she’s the horse to beat.” McCarthy also has a serious live chance in the two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown with rising star Birdy Mach. Winning his heat on Saturday night however will be tough, as New Zealand superstar Follow The Stars has drawn three while Birdy Mach will start from gate 12. “Follow The Stars would probably be the best two-year-old I’ve ever seen. I’m a big fan of his,” McCarthy said. “With Birdy Mach it will be nice for him not to have to go forward and make the pace this time from the draw. We can drive him with a sit and I’m looking forward to it. “He’s a real high-speed horse so driving him from back in the field will suit.” McCarthy also has Ominous Warning in the two-year-old colts and geldings’ section, the son of Four Starzzz Shark to begin from gate 11 in the first semi-final on Saturday night. Ominous Warning won his Breeders Crown heat at Menangle in 1:59.1 with a last half of 55.1 seconds but was only 75 per cent that day, says McCarthy. “He’s right back to his best, so almost at 100 per cent I’d say,” McCarthy said. In the two-year-old fillies’ semi-finals McCarthy will line up Smooth Showgirl and Bamako Mali in Races 2 and 6. Smooth Showgirl has drawn gate three in the first semi-final, with New Zealand star Linda Lovegrace and Vicbred Super Series champion Niki No No drawn outside her. “She’s got good speed early so it will be nice to go forward and get a prominent position early,” McCarthy said. McCarthy also sang the praises of Bamako Mali, who has drawn gate nine in her semi. “She’s just as good when driven with a sit as she is when she goes forward,” he said. But McCarthy is concerned the Kiwi fillies might have the wood on the Australians this year in the juvenile girls’ section. “I think the Kiwi fillies look pretty strong this year,” he said. Bling It On and Lettucerockthem will both carry the McCarthy polish in the three-year-old boys’ section, with Lettucerockthem drawn gate eight in the first semi-final while Bling It On will start from 10 in the second. Bling It On has run into New Zealand champion Our Sky Major in the semi, but if the promised early speed of pole horse Saloon Passage and his driver Nathan Hurst is delivered then Zac Butcher has some decisions to make aboard the series favourite. For Bling It On, a hot speed up front would play into his hands. McCarthy is looking forward to playing the race by ear, the horse’s versatility allowing the reinsman to go into the event with several plans of attack. “I’ll just see how it the race presents itself,” he said. The 10-race Ballarat meeting kicks off at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria The TAB is offering a $200,000 quaddie jackpot on the night -- for more details visit tab.com.au

He was named, by majority owner Rob Nalder, after one of the greatest cricketers of the twentieth century – the explosive West Indian batsmen Viv Richards. The Aussie Caribbean Blaster certainly didn’t let anyone down and especially not the great man Viv Richards. Two people who he did leave an indelible impression on are the husband and wife team Andy and Kate Gath. “He’s the most perfect horse I’ve ever trained” said Andy recently. “He’s everything you want in a horse – great gaited, a great constitution and amazing recovery rate after a tough run, perfect conformation and always gave 120% in all his races.” Sadly Caribbean Blaster suffered a suspensory injury in late July and he will now commence a new chapter in his best selling life story – a stud career at Yirribee Stud in Southern NSW, under the management of his part owner Alabar Bloodstock. The “Blaster” displayed the attributes of a top horse right from the start, albeit he raced rather greenly in his three starts as a two year old. As a three year old, there were signs that he could develop into a “Big Time” horse – second in the Group One South Australian Derby, a fast closing second to Sushi Sushi in the Breeders Crown Semi Final and then a close up fourth place finish from the 12 hole in the Breeders Crown Final – his own mile rate being 1:54.9 for the 2240 metres. Just five days later Caribbean Blaster won The Graduate, a 2240 metre standing start race, in a 1:57.5 mile rate – an Australasian record which remains to this day. “The turning point in Caribbean Blaster’s career came when he triumphed in the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle” said Andy Gath. That night he defeated Sushi Sushi, Excel Stride and the hotshot Kiwi Hands Christian in 1:52.6, last quarter in 26.6 seconds. The defining victory in his career was the 2012 Victoria Cup when he was handed the number 13 saddlecloth to start with. Aided by a brilliant Kate Gath steer, the Blaster defeated Australia’s best including Im Themightyquinn, Smoken Up, Mah Sish, Washakie and The Gold Ace to name a few. Caribbean Blaster raced on 79 occasions in a predominately four season career for 24 victories and prizemoney of $1,113,678 – he passed the million dollar mark when defeating the mighty warrior Smoken Up in the 2014 South Australian Cup. He was driven in every one of those starts by the effervescent Kate Gath. As impressive as Caribbean Blaster was on the racetrack, he has a pedigree that could be described as glittering as diamonds. His sire Bettor’s Delight as a champion stallion and has dominated the Leading Sires lists in the Southern Hemisphere for the past three years. Caribbean Blaster is from the Safely Kept mare Kalypso and was bred and sold at the 2009 APG sales for $70,000 by the Bathurst based Brooklyn Lodge. He is thus a half brother to four winners including Protikori ($212,109), placed in four Group One events, and the $125,000 winning Kalypson Kid 1:56.4. Caribbean Blaster will stand at Yirribee Pacing Stud for a debut Service Fee of $2,750 (incl GST). All booking enquiries can be directed to Alabar Bloodstock – (03) 5859 2201. Harnesslink Media        

Successful harness racing horseman Jarrod Alchin has been spending plenty of time travelling recently and things may not change in the short term should everything go to plan. Alchin trains talented two year old Franciso De Gore, the son of Village Jasper that placed in a repechage of the Breeders Crown at Geelong last week. "I was really happy with his performance in the repechage and if things all go to plan, including a good barrier draw, I think he can qualify for the Breeders Crown final," Alchin said. "His run behind Ominous Warning was very strong at Menangle. They went 55.1 for the last 800 metres and he wanted to hit the line, I think he is going to make a really nice three year old next season." While Alchin will be in Victoria on Saturday night with Franciso De Gore, his stable will have two runners at Tabcorp Park Menangle too. "Kennedy Creek won a race three starts ago when he led and was too good, he worked very strongly on Monday and I'd like to see him hold the front again this week." "He finished eighth last start but if you watch the run it wasn't too bad. He was well back, made some good ground and didn't have much luck in the straight." Alchin's other runner is Eagles Ace, a three year old that has some strong Riverina form to his credit. "He only arrived last week, he's a nice horse and has been racing well in the bush but he has been sent up here to try and win a Metropolitan three year old before the end of the season." "I was really happy with his work on Monday too, so if he races up to the work I think he is going to be right in the finish. He is only going to be here for a month or so." By Greg Hayes Harness Racing New South Wales

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