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Emma Stewart looks to have a stranglehold on the final of the Mercury80 after scoring a third win in the four-heat series at Tabcorp Park Melton. And the Cardigan-based trainer also appears well placed to secure the lucrative bonus for connections of Fourbigmen, who set a new benchmark time of 82.1 seconds on Friday night. The fastest winner in the series snares an extra $20,000, half of which is collected by owners and the other half split by the trainer and driver. Chris Alford drove the first heat winner Liftntorque on New Year’s Eve and was at the controls on Friday night as Fourbigmen darted through along the sprint lane to land a convincing five-metre victory. “He had a nice run in there behind the leader and the pace was on sort of all the way. He felt really good and once the run came, he just powered through then,” Alford said. The champion reinsman said he wasn’t bothered if he drove Liftntorque or Fourbigmen in the final. “They’re both nice horses… whichever one they put me on I’ll be happy with,” Alford said. Michael Stanley’s Soho Nolita came home strongly to pip leader Major Exclusive for second, therefore booking a place in the $50,000 final next Saturday night. The qualifiers for the feature from the first three heats include: Liftntorque (Emma Stewart), Van Mara (Andy Gath), Always Fast (Emma Stewart), Gilty Hanover (Kari Males), Off The Radar (Richie Caruana) and Call Me Hector (Matthew Cooper). While his father Ted missed out on reaching the Mercury80 final with Major Exclusive, who is the final's emergency, young trainer Blake Caruana scored his second career win as a trainer at Melton on Friday when Better Exclusive produced a long-odds victory in the Allied Express Pace Final (2240m, NR 56-66). Caruana was ill and unable to make the track on Friday night, but would have had something to smile about as the horse dug deep to hold off runner-up Dan Fernando by a head on the line. “Blake would have been jumping up and down in the bed, that’s for sure,” young driver Connor Ronan said. “It was a big step up in class tonight. Three starts ago he won the equivalent to a C1 and then to win a race like this, where there are some very nice horses in it, it’s a credit to the team and the horse.” HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

You could barely wipe the smile off Richie Caruana’s face after he landed a breakthrough metropolitan victory while securing a spot in the lucrative Mercury80 final on Friday night. The Rockbank trainer took the drive behind his horse Off The Radar and he relished the 1200m sprint, charging home to score in the third heat of the series at Tabcorp Park Melton. He came from off the speed to run over the top of pre-race favourite Call Me Hector, who endured a tough run but battled on to also clinch a place in the final. Caruana, who had only trained 12 winners before Friday night’s triumph, said it was great to now be part of the $50,000 showdown on January 25. “It’s a bit of a thrill being in a race like that - I’ve never been in one. It’s going to be a good feeling,” he said. Caruana only trains a small team of horses part-time, but has had plenty of fun with Off The Radar, who has now won 10 career races. Four of those have been since racing under the Caruana name. “I didn’t know what he was going to do today, honestly, because he is a bit of a lazy horse, but he can hold his ground for a bit of distance,” Caruana said. “He keeps on going.” Off The Radar clocked 84.3 seconds during his win on Friday, which was the slowest of the three heats. Always Fast is the clubhouse leader after posting a time of 82.8 seconds, which was slicker than stablemate Liftntorque’s run of 83.4 seconds. The quickest horse of the series scores a $20,000 bonus, with $10,000 paid to the successful owner(s) and $5000 going to the trainer and driver. The last of the four heats will be run this coming Friday night, January 17. Meanwhile, Sammy Showdown continued his progression towards being an elite squaregaiter with a fifth-straight win in the Allied Express Trot (1720m, NR 70-85). Trained and driven by Myrniong’s Kylie Sugars, the four-year-old was a convincing winner of the $20,000 event, which was the biggest stakes race of his career to date. Sugars was “rapt” with the performance. “He sprinted hard and he sprinted hard to the line,” she said. “I looked over my right shoulder straightening up and I could see Kate (Gath and Majestuoso) coming and I think he heard her too and he kicked again. “But what I really was happy about was at the start, how he accelerated through.” Driving honours on Friday night went to Josh Duggan, who scored wins behind Alice Kay (Empire Stallions Pace Final, 1720m, NR 52-55) and Will I Rocknroll (IRT Australia Pace, 2240m, 4YO+), while nine individual trainers claimed success on the card.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Western Victoria was celebrating on Saturday night as two trainers grabbed Group 1 success for the very first time. Anthony O’Connor and Paddy Lee scored memorable wins in the Alderbaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic (1720m) three-year-old features at Tabcorp Park Melton, with Rum Junction taking out the fillies’ division and Keayang Ignite continuing an unbeaten run against the colts and geldings. And both trainers experienced great family joy with their respective victories. O’Connor’s son Xavier drove Rum Junction, while Lee’s brother Jason was at the controls of Keayang Ignite. A daughter of Bacardi Lindy, Rum Junction produced a scintillating turn of foot when coming from back in the field to nab Patrick Ryan-trained favourite Right Moves, whoh galloped just before the line. The win was the horse’s third at career start number six and a special one for the concession driver, who had previously never won at metropolitan level. “It was good to win a Group 1 for the old man… he’s been my biggest support along the whole way, to get it home for him was huge,” 23-year-old Xavier said. “To win the first metropolitan (race) as a Group 1 that’s pretty unreal, so I’ll be looking back at this for the rest of my life. “This is the highest on the bucket list - just to win a Group 1. I don’t set my goals high but this is a real special feeling…” The Scotts Creek-based O’Connors only race horses on a part-time basis, with a large dairy farm the main source of income. For Keayang Ignite, the victory was a much easier one. Keayang Ignite                                              --Stuart McCormick photo The son of Angus Hall, whoh had to complete a satisfactory trial before being allowed to take his place in the field on Saturday night, led from start to finish in a 17-metre demolition job of his rivals. Paddy Lee, 22, and his mother Margaret picked the horse out at the sales and the ride has been an enjoyable one with an unbeaten four-start career now including a race at the elite level. “What you got to put into them is what you’ll get back. So if you treat them as good as you treat yourself, they’ll put in everything they can,” the Terang-based Lee said. “I learnt through what Mum has done with the horses. There is a lot of work to go in, you’ve got to look after them and do every detail you can for them to perform the best they can.” In the other Group 3 feature events on Saturday night, Anton Golino's Dance Craze took out the Alderbaran Park R C Freestone Trotters Free For All (2240m) and Gary Hoban's Rockingwithsierra scored in the Doug Hayes Transport Gold Chalice (2240m).   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Unbeaten colt Keayang Ignite has got the green light from stewards and is ready for his crack at Group 1 glory this Saturday. The Paddy Lee-trained son of Angus Hall bled during his most recent win at Tabcorp Park Melton and was forced to take part in a satisfactory trial before being able to take his place in the Alderbaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic (3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings). He was sent around before the races at Terang on Sunday and did so with a minimum of fuss. Lee’s brother Jason believes the horse bled from one nostril because something struck him early in the December 9 race. “We think that he copped either a rock or a stone or a knock to his nose, but he scoped all clear and the vets passed him all fine,” Lee, who will take the drive on Saturday night, said. “But with any sort of blood you’ve got to go to the trials. He trialled at Terang on Sunday before the race meeting and he was all clear. “We scoped him again after that just to make sure everything was okay with the horse and he was no worries.” Keayang Ignite, who was bought at the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale by the Lee family, won his first two trips to the races in October by big margins. And he was again impressive when winning at Melton on December 9, which was a heat of this Saturday night’s final. “He’s going in fit and ready to go,” Lee said. “There’s obviously a couple of nice trotters in it and even though he won the heat, they’re going to be improved a bit. But I’d like to think he’d be a bit more forward from his run as well.” If successful, Keayang Ignite would become Paddy Lee’s first Group 1 winner in a short training career that has already produced 61 winners from 216 runners. A field of nine has been assembled for the $50,000 event over the 1720m trip, which will go as race 11 on the 12-race card. The Group 1 Alderbaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic (3YO Trotting Fillies) is the other feature on the night and has drawn a field of 10 with one emergency. The Alderbaran Park R C Freestone Trotters Free For All (2240m, NR 80-120) and the Doug Hayes Transport Gold Chalice (2240m, 3YO Fillies) will also be run at Group 3 level in what is a bumper night of racing at Victorian headquarters. All the action kicks off with the opening race at 4.53pm. KEAYANG Ignite is one of seven Australasian Premier Trotting Sale graduates who will contest the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic finals. The $15,000 purchase was from the 2018 crop along with Aldebaran Knox ($90,000), Jade Nien ($15,000), Aldebaran Jethro (passed in), Rules Dont Apply ($20,000) and Builder Bob ($41,000), who will all contest the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings final. Aldebaran Stevie ($8000) is the only sale graduate in the fillies' final. The sales catalogue for the 2020 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale, which will be on February 2 at Inglis Sales Complex, has just been released. Click here to view the sales catalogue.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Top reinsman Greg Sugars believes potential superstar Ride High felt much better when winning at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, improving on his 4YO & 5YO Championship showing last month. Despite only having a metre to spare on the line, the Clayton Tonkin-trained son of Art Major made light work of his opposition in the TAB Multiplier Westburn Grant Free For All (2240m). It was the five-year-old’s second start back from a long injury lay-off and his first since November 9 when scraping home for victory over Hurricane Harley. “He had the race obviously comfortably in his grasp and I just tried to look after him as best I could,” Sugars said of Saturday night’s front-running display. “He probably overdid it a little bit. Once I eased him, he’s eased too much and they run him to a slightly narrower margin than what we would have liked. “But it’s nothing to be too concerned about. We took a lot of positives out of the horse. He felt a lot sharper than what he did in his first-up run to me and I’m pretty happy with what he did. “If I had have been fair dinkum and sort of pushed him right out, I think he would have held a pretty decent margin and looked very, very impressive.” Owner-breeder Peter Gleeson told last week that a number of big Group 1 races were on the table for Ride High, including the illustrious Miracle Mile in March next year. Sugars said it would now be a matter of getting the runs into Ride High, which has been to the races just twice since late August 2018. “Obviously they are going to target some of the big races coming up early in the new year so I think we will just race wherever is suitable just to get a few runs under his belt and make sure he is in cherry ripe condition by the time those good races come up in January,” Sugars said. Ride High has now won 10 of 11 career starts for more than $200,000 in prizemoney. On Saturday night, Sugars landed the second leg of a winning double behind Joe Abela-trained Madena Sky in the Emerald Lake Logistics Trot (1720m, NR 67-77). John Caldow also drove a double, firstly partnering Michelle Eastman’s Aleppo Murphy to win the Schweppes Kids Christmas Party Trot (2240m, NR 78-100) and then Dallas McIntyre’s Sarah Bonus in the Pooch Beauty Salon Pace Final (1720m, 4YO+ NR 46-51). Training honours were shared, with 12 different people getting in the winner’s circle on Saturday night.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Owner-breeder Peter Gleeson believes his star pacer Ride High had some of the brilliance taken out of him before a much-hyped return to racing last month. The Clayton Tonkin-trained and part-owned son of Art Major won his first start back from injury at Tabcorp Park Melton on November 9, but was far from breathtaking in a narrow victory over Hurricane Harley, who ran him to a half-neck despite some cheap sections in the lead. Gleeson felt Ride High worked too hard in two trials, which included a sizzling effort alongside Tam Major that equalled Lennytheshark's 2040-metre Tabcorp Park 2018 record. "He didn’t look so impressive when he won that race, the (Group 2) 4YO & 5YO Championship, and I said to Clayton a few days later that I reckon he’s had the edge taken off him in those two trials and he said: ‘so do I’,” Gleeson told Gleeson said Tonkin had then backed off the horse in his work and given him some time between his next run, which will be in this Saturday night’s TAB Multiplier Westburn Grant Free For All (2240m). “(Clayton) won’t start a horse unless he is 100 per cent happy with the way it’s going to go,” Gleeson said. “He wants to win every time he goes out… not only with Ride High, but with any horse he has got.” Gleeson, 70, has been involved in horses for most of his life and believes Ride High could reach - or even surpass - the heights of a grand pacer he bred named Safe And Sound. That son of Safely Kept won close to $1 million in prizemoney in a career that captured many big races, including the 2002 A. G. Hunter Cup. "If he stays sound, he’ll be as good as Safe And Sound, or maybe better,” he said. “Clayton just thinks he is the best horse he’s ever had. So we just have to wait and see how it all unfolds … the biggest worry is little niggling injuries that come along. “And you never know from one day to the next when they’re going to go amiss. And then you spend your life trying to patch them up again.” Ride High will be driven by Greg Sugars on Saturday night and has drawn barrier four in the small field of eight starters. His rivals include Greg Scholefield’s recent Stawell Pacing Cup champ Emain Macha, Mick Stanley’s top-liner Rackemup Tigerpie and Peter Manning’s quality mare Reciprocity. Saturday’s 12-race card kicks off from 4.54pm.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

James Herbertson broke new ground on a night to remember at Tabcorp Park Melton with the young reinsman scoring his first-ever metropolitan treble. He combined with three different trainers to complete the feat, which has lifted him up to sixth in Victoria's Schweppes Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership. Herbertson’s victory with My Skypocket (Julian Jobe) in the SBS Carsales Vicbred Trot (2240m, NR 70-85) was breathtaking, with the son of Skyvalley surging home from back in the field for a dominant 10-metre triumph. He then made it a double with Thats Perfect’s (Emma Stewart) barrier to box success in the Happy Birthday Nev Page Pace (2240m, NR 78-84) and capped off a big evening when Longnwindingroad (John Yeomans) led and kicked away in the straight to take out the Damien J Summers Architect Pace Final (1720m, 4YO+ NR 51-54). “When you are driving nice horses it just makes it that much easier,” a humble Herbertson said after his win in the last race of the night. Following Friday night’s treble, Herbertson has now driven 42 winners in season 2019-20 and looks on track to surpass his 101 victories from last campaign. The feature on Friday night was the Allied Express Melton Mares Championship (2240m, NR 70-99) and it was the least fancied of Margaret Lee’s three horses that got the chocolates. Lee had spoken to earlier in the week and rated Keayang Ebonyrose her third-string chance in the $24,000 event, but Tim McLean was able to get the $31.90 chance over the line. With a hot speed and plenty of pressure for the lead, McLean positioned the eight-year-old one out, one back for much of the journey and then produced her approaching the straight. She hit the lead at the 100m mark and just had enough in reserve to hold off Somerocksomeroll by a half-head. It was the horse’s first win since August 31 and took her career record to 14 victories from 54 starts. “She is flying. I think she has just had no luck in her last few runs,” McLean said. “The draws have really put her out of the race, but she got the job done tonight. The speed was on, she felt good during the run and had plenty left at the end.” Stewart took training honours on Friday night with Thats Perfect, Freddy Funk (Romsey Primary School Pace, 2240m, NR 70-77) and Rocknroll Ronnie (TAB Multiplier Pace Final, 2240m, NR 56-66) all saluting. HEAR FROM THE WINNING DRIVERS IN THIS WEEK'S ALL CLEAR:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor  

Kate Hargreaves is burning the candle at both ends as she looks to make a real go of her harness racing dream. The young horsewoman is combining training duties at her Shelbourne property with a career as a school teacher, and while that means long days and a lot of hard work, her efforts are paying off big time. Hargreaves is in the midst of an outstanding season, with a brilliant strike rate of 14 winners from just 33 starters turning heads in the industry. Her great start to the 2019-20 campaign comes on the back of a breakout 2018-19 season, when she registered 24 victories from 129 runners. “It’s sort of something I like to pride myself on is having a good strike rate,” said Hargreaves, who works with her partner and top driver Alex Ashwood. “We only have a small team and we don’t really have any stars in the team, so to have that many winners from so few starters, I’m pretty proud of that achievement. “We like to place our horses where they can win, so it’s a credit to Alex, because he is the one doing all the travelling around the state.” Hargreaves spent time as a youngster learning her craft under legendary trainer Peter Manning and idolised his daughter Kerryn for her feats in the sulky. The former Stawell girl said at times it was hard to believe how far she had come. “It really is a dream and that’s why I’m working so hard to get there. It’s something I wanted for my entire life, ever since I was a little girl,” Hargreaves said. “To sort of be in the position I am now, it’s sometimes a bit unbelievable. I look around at my stables and I’ve got 22 horses all there and I’m getting these winners… it’s sometimes a bit far-fetched and I think how is this even real? It’s pretty awesome.” Hargreaves will take three nice horses from her team to Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night in a bid to land some metropolitan grade success. Two of those - Zazu and Lorimer Lady - will meet in the Avis Melton Pace (2240m, 4YO and older), while Wonga Lake will have her second career start in the Woodlands Stud 3YO Pace Final (1720m, NR 46-51). Hargreaves said Zazu, who had his three-run picket fence spoiled when breaking gait at Mildura earlier this month, was favoured over Lorimer Lady, who also had a three-race winning sequence end at the same November 12 evening. “I think Zazu is probably my best chance. He is drawn one, which really suits him because he has got a lot of gate speed and he can do work at both ends,” she said. “He’ll be coming out trying to lead, he’s pretty quick and can rip up in a fast quarter, so I think he’s definitely a fantastic chance.” Hargreaves said Wonga Lake, a filly by Western Terror, had been given a trial following her strong second on debut on November 7 and was “definitely a chance” despite an awkward barrier five draw. The first event on Saturday night’s 11-race card kicks off at 6.02pm with the last to go at 11pm. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR MORE FROM KATE:     HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

James Herbertson is tipping a hotly run Evolve Stone Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship Final as rival drivers look to end the winning sequence of in-form pacer Lumineer. Herbertson will team up with the David Aiken-trained Blingittothemax, who finished an eye-catching fourth in heat two of the series last week behind Smart Little Shard. Aiken’s charge sat back in the field and made up plenty of ground in a slick 27.8-second last quarter to be beaten less than two metres. Blingittothemax had to come from barrier eight last Friday, but draws more favourably in gate five for the $30,000 Group 3 final over 1720m at Tabcorp Park Melton. “He hit the line super,” Herbertson said of the heat performance. “Hopefully we can just lob in that first four or five and he has got the speed to be right there in the finish. “He’s definitely got the speed to (win), but it’s just going to come down to luck in running with him. “This is the first time this preparation that Lumineer won’t be able to lead and I think that’s a big thing, especially over the short (journey) around Melton. “These horses will probably be going 1.52 or 1.53 (mile rate) and he’s got to come from back in the field, unless Jason (Lee) can get him in the race through the middle stages there. I think it’s going to be a pretty solidly run affair so he doesn’t get into it…” Lumineer won the first heat of the Championship last Friday to make it 13 victories from 14 career starts and five in succession. He was made to work for the lead from barrier six, but eventually got to the front and held off his rivals to score a narrow win in 1:54:0. Lee will have to navigate a path from the second row this time around, with the Ange McDowall-trained star to leave from gate 10. Blingittothemax is only a relatively new addition to the Aiken stable, with the horse having arrived from Tasmanian trainer Paul Ashwood in the last couple of months. The son of Art Major won at Kilmore on debut for the stable in mid-October and then finished third in a race at Bendigo before last Friday’s strong fourth-placed effort. The well-travelled seven-year-old, which spent much of his career trained by Mark Dux in Queensland, has won 10 of his 49 trips to the races. Other key hopes in the night’s feature event is Emma Stewart’s Deedenuto, Craig Demmler’s Fake Smile and Matt Craven’s All Jokers Todaright. Friday night’s 11-race card kicks off from 6.17pm and concludes with the last at 11.14pm.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Michelle Eastman is thriving in her new role with the Maryborough Harness Racing Club, but hasn’t let the job get in the way of her passion for training. Eastman, who took over as secretary of the club just a couple of months ago, will prepare Aleppo Murphy for his second start back from a long spell at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The son of Sundon has endured a string of issues that have seen him only race once since late May, having produced a solid fifth in the Yarra Valley Trotters Cup last week. “We were happy with that because he was first-up for six or seven months and he’d never been over that distance (2650m) before,” Eastman said. “He only just got pipped by Tornado Valley, Save Our Pennys and Magicool and they are all good horses. We are hoping for a lot of improvement this week.” Aleppo Murphy, a winner of eight races, will start off the 10-metre mark in Friday night’s DNR Logistics Trotters Handicap (2240m, NR 70-120) for in-form driver James Herbertson. “We have changed a few things with him. We don’t have a headcheck on him anymore, which he used to really resent. We felt that it made him trot better, so this time in we have taken the headcheck off and he has been putting his head down and doesn’t seem to be so fractious before the start,” said Eastman, who trains from Shelbourne. “If James can get him away well - he is going to be out on his own because he is out of the draw - and baring incidents, he should not be far away.” Eastman said she was “absolutely loving” her new full-time position with Maryborough, which she took over from club stalwart Les Chapman. “It’s such a different role to what I’ve ever had. I’m just enjoying the real change (from) being in the finance sector most of my life,” she said. “It’s really good. I’m always surrounded by people, got a great team of volunteers and really starting to make some changes.” While Eastman’s focus will be on the opening race on Friday, many punters will be looking to the feature events on the card. Two heats of the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship (1720m, NR 70-79) have drawn good fields, with runners vying for a place in the $30,000 final at Melton on November 22. There is also two Group 3 events - the Garrards Popular Alm Free For All (2240m, NR 90-120) and the Alderbaran Park Lenin Trotters Free For All (2240m, NR 80-120). The nine-race card kicks off from 6.18pm. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR MORE FROM MICHELLE EASTMAN:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Ride High allayed any fears his trainer Clayton Tonkin had following a potentially taxing trial performance with an impressive return to racing on Saturday night. In his first run back from more than a year on the sidelines, the ultra-talented four-year-old made it nine wins from 10 career starts by taking out the Group 2 COGS 4YO & 5YO Championship (2240m) at Tabcorp Park Melton. After zipping out of barrier two, Ride High ($1.50) was given an easy time in the lead by Greg Sugars and then scorched home in a 53.7-second last half to just hold off the fast-finishing Hurricane Harley. Tonkin, the partner of Emma Stewart who was having the first runner in his name since July 2004, said he thought Ride High might have worked too hard in a recent trial, where he and Tam Major equalled Lennytheshark’s 2040-metre Melton record. “I thought they probably did a bit too much last week, but the money was sort of good and there wasn’t a heap of speed in the race,” Tonkin said after the win. “It really worried me tonight the way the racing was run because nothing in the breeze or in front was (winning)… it was a bit of a swoopers' night. I was a little bit concerned being first up. The track hasn’t raced real true tonight.” Saturday night was the first time Sugars had steered the 2018 Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings champion in a race and he liked what he saw. “I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to sit behind a horse like this,” Sugars said. “It doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s always hard to come up against a quality field that is already wound up when you are on the way up. “But thankfully he had the barrier draw in his favour and got away with very steady sectionals for the first lap and was able to be too slick up the straight.” Stewart runners filled the placings with Hurricane Harley sizzling home to be beaten just a half-neck, while stablemate Tam Major was third. Another feature on the night was the Allied Express Cinderella Stakes (1720m, mares NR 70-120) and it was Margaret Lee’s Keayang Shekitout ($26.30) that caused a major boilover.                                                                                      --Stuart McCormick photo Stewart runners Berisari and Nostra Villa were both well fancied in the race, but weren’t able to fire as Keayang Shekitout sat outside the leader and toughed it out to score a narrow success. The win was the six-year-old’s ninth in a career spanning 33 starts and was one of three winners on the card for her trainer. Lee also scored with Iam Erik ($3.80) in the Heathglen Retirement Village Pace (1720m, 4YO and older) and Jilliby Chevy ($2.10) in the Keilor East Probus Group Pace (1720m, NR 90-105). Jason Lee drove Iam Erik and Jilliby Chevy, while Glen Craven (Keayang Shekitout and Dance Craze, $1.10) and James Herbertson (Jodan, $34.20, and Are Doubleyou, $27.80) also celebrated winning doubles. Dance Craze’s success came in the other Group 3 race on the card, the Apco La Coocaracha Trotters Free For All (1720m, trotting mares NR 70-120) for trainer Anton Gollino.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Greg Sugars is confident he can deliver Clayton Tonkin his first success as a trainer in some 15 years when he drives Ride High in Saturday night’s COGS 4YO & 5YO Championship. The horse will be Tonkin’s first runner in his name since July 27 2004, with the 2018 Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings champion resuming from a leg injury that halted his career in August last year. The brilliant son of Art Major tuned up for his return to the track with a two-horse trial alongside Tam Major last Saturday night. Sugars was in the sulky behind Ride High as the pair equalled Lennytheshark's 2040-metre Tabcorp Park Melton record, which was set in January 2018 and stood until this year's Victoria Cup. “We probably didn’t go out there with the intention to go quite that quick, but they are two obviously very high quality horses and they needed a good hit-out,” Sugars said of the trial. “We expected them to sort of dash up and run some good times, but to see a (former) track record equalled was probably a bit of a surprise.” HEAR THE TRAINER'S LIVE VERDICT OF THE STUNNING TRIAL: Sugars thinks Ride High, a winner of eight of nine career runs, can return in style at Melton on Saturday night. “He has got the barrier draw advantage over his main rivals, which is obviously a big help in this class of racing,” he said. “The fact that Clayton has made a comeback to training after some 15 years without a horse in his name probably speaks volumes for what he thinks of this horse’s ability. “Even though he has had the good hit-out the other day, he is still first-up racing for quite some time. Although he should be very close to the mark, you’d say there would be still some sort of improvement in him with natural race progression.” While Tonkin will chase a long-awaited success with Ride High, his partner Emma Stewart also has three runners in the $75,000 event. As well as Tam Major (Chris Alford), Stewart’s Hurricane Harley (Kima Frenning) and Thats Perfect (Darby McGuigan) help make up the small field of seven. Saturday night’s other feature is the Allied Express Cinderella Stakes (1720m, mares NR 70-120). Sugars will partner Stewart’s Berisari, which is having her first start since narrowly being beaten in a free for all at Melton back in mid August. Nostra Beach (Kate Gath) and Nostra Villa (Chris Alford) also represent the Stewart camp, while Margaret Lee has two runners in Keayang Ebonyrose (Jason Lee) and Keayang Shekitout (Glen Craven). There is 11 races on Saturday night’s card, with the first to kick off from 6.03pm and the last to go off at 11.10pm. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM GREG SUGARS ON HIS SATURDAY NIGHT DRIVES:     HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Chris Svanosio produced a magical winning treble at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, when the Bendigo-based trainer-driver scored wins with three of the four horses he took to the races. Kyvalley Finn got the ball rolling with a narrow triumph in the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m, NR 70-79), stablemate Norquay then won the Woodlands Trot (2240m, NR 52-61) before Magicool defeated the well fancied Jilliby Babavska to take out the Niota Bloodstock Trot (2240m, NR 80-100). “It’s my first Melton treble as a trainer,” Svanosio told Trots Vision after Magicool’s success. “Every week they are just great fields down here. You have got to wait your turn a bit - some weeks the fields are just that hard. We are happy to have a couple competing down here and going good.” Svanosio was in the sulky for the wins behind Kyvalley Finn and Magicool, with Michelle Phillips partnering Norquay to her victory. Svanosio is now seventh on the state metropolitan drivers’ premiership and eighth in the standings of the metro training title. For Kyvalley Finn, his hard-fought win over longshot Jerichos Trumpet was his ninth and first since July this year. The five-year-old has now collected more than $150,000 in prizemoney. Norquay has won four of her last five starts and the success at Melton on Saturday night followed a down-the-track finish when breaking at the same track a week earlier. The Majestic Son mare is now a winner of five of her 15 career outings. Magicool was able to turn the tables on Jilliby Babavska from their meeting on October 12, running down the leader in the home straight to nab his 12th career triumph. While it was a standout night for Svanosio and his team, the powerful Emma Stewart stable also landed a winning treble. Phoenix Prince won the feature Allied Express Sokyola Sprint (1720m, NR 90-120) for Greg Sugars, while Chris Alford was at the controls for the wins of Nostra Villa (Benstud Vicbred Pace, 2240m, mares NR 70-89) and Freddy Funk (Cogs Claiming Pace, 2240m). Alford scored his other win for the evening with Shaun McNaulty-trained gelding Hashtag in the IRT Australia Pace (1720m, NR 80-94). Alford remains three wins behind Kate Gath on the metro drivers’ premiership standings, while Stewart is now level on nine wins with Andy Gath on the metro trainers’ leaderboard.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

It’s not uncommon for horses to show potential not many knew they had later in life and that’s exactly what Gary Quinlan is hoping for with his talented pacer Rocknroll Pearl. Quinlan has fingers crossed that the five-year-old can emulate her mother Jazzam (pictured), which many will recall as a quality mare that went on to win 24 races and more than $230,000 in prizemoney. Rocknroll Pearl is a long way off that mark, but a promising return from a short let-up at Cranbourne on October 21 has things pointing in the right direction. Quinlan said the horse didn’t quite seem herself following a three-start Sydney campaign through June that reaped a Group 3 success and two third placings, one of which was in the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO Mares Final. After that, the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven placed fourth and eighth in races at Melton before she was given a break. Following the freshen-up, Rocknroll Pearl produced a nice third placing at Cranbourne, hitting the line hard from three back the pegs behind winner War Dan Delight. “She looks a treat and was working really good before Cranbourne. I thought she would go good, but I hadn’t trialled her and I was just hoping I’d see what I’d seen at home,” Quinlan said. “I was pretty happy with what she did at Cranbourne and she doesn’t seem to have gone backwards since.” Rocknroll Pearl, a winner of eight races, will tackle Saturday night’s Benstud Vicbred Pace (2240m, mares NR 70-89) at Tabcorp Park Melton. The horse has drawn barrier four in the small field of eight and Quinlan said he’s happy for driver Jason Lee to roll forward from the mobile and see what opportunities present from there. And while Quinlan thinks Emma Stewart’s Nostra Villa looks the likely winner of the race on her best form, he’s confident of a good showing from his charge. “Being realistic, if the right Nostra Villa turns up it would be winning the race so I’m under no illusions how good it is,” he said. Jazzam, who won the Group 3 Ladyship Cup at Moonee Valley back in 2009, has had just one other foal reach the races. That is Dison, a winner of two races from seven career outings. “Rocknroll Pearl’s mother really came good as a four-year-old, at the same age she has,” Quinlan said. “So I’m hoping history repeats itself.” The Allied Express Sokyola Sprint - for horses rated between 90 and 120 - is the feature race on Saturday night’s card. A quality field of horses has been assembled for the $24,000 event, with the likes of Phoenix Prince (Emma Stewart), My Kiwi Mate (Craig Demmler) and Wrappers Delight (David Aiken) among the leading fancies. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM TRAINER GARY QUINLAN:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Kima Frenning has continued a hot run in the sulky with a second successive Saturday night metropolitan treble at Tabcorp Park Melton. The young driver consolidated her spot in third place on the Victorian statewide and metro premierships with wins behind top quality pacers Yankee Roller, Hurricane Harley and Our Millionaire. Frenning has now racked up 35 wins this season, seven of which have come at city level. Yankee Roller’s win in the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace (2240m, NR 70-79) was perhaps the most visually impressive of the three on Saturday evening, with the David Aiken-trained gelding gapping his rivals to score by more than 15 metres in a mile rate of 1:57.8. “He just did that in second gear it felt like,” Frenning said. “He got a pretty easy lead time and first quarter but then he really ripped home. I like him.” Frenning said there looked to be plenty ahead for the son of Rock N Roll Heaven, who has accumulated 11 wins from 28 starts. “He showed really good gate speed as well and then just came straight back to me, didn’t want to over-race, which is a really good quality as well. I didn’t even have to pull anything on him. I’m pretty excited about him.” Frenning’s most exciting drive of the night came in the Moneyquest Melton Vicbred Pace (2240m, NR 70-79) with Emma Stewart’s ultra-talented Hurricane Harley. The 2018 2YO Colts and Geldings Breeders Crown champion was in devastating form as a $1.10 favourite, sitting parked for the last lap and then racing clear to score by more than 13 metres. Frenning said the horse had been on her mind following the Swan Hill cup meeting on Friday night. “I couldn’t sleep - I was very nervous,” she said. “When you get opportunities like this you just really don’t want to do anything wrong. But on him it’s probably hard to because he sorts it out even if you do. I’m forever grateful.” Frenning’s third triumph came in the Alan Mance Motoring Group Pace Final (2240m, NR 52-55) behind Our Millionaire, who also hails from the Stewart stable. Also running as $1.10 favourite, the son of Million Dollar did a little bit of early work but quickly found the lead and was never in danger on his way to a 10.7 metre success. The horse clocked a mile rate of 1:55:4, a shade quicker than Hurricane Harley’s 1:55:6. While Frenning landed driving honours on the night, it was Stewart who dominated the training ranks. With Hurricane Harley and Our Millionaire winning for Frenning, the Cardigan trainer also scored with Nostra Beach in the DH Steel Pace (1720m, mares NR 70-89). The feature race on Saturday night was the Alderbaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All (2240m, NR 80-120) and few would have been surprised that Tornado Valley was able to score a strong victory for Andy and Kate Gath. After a short lay-off with a foot issue, the star squaregaiter led as $1.20 favourite and then held off the challenge of Red Hot Tooth in the home straight to prevail by close to two metres.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Andy Gath got a long-awaited success with New Zealand acquisition Everybody Knows in the Maryborough Trotters Cup last week, but the horse’s chances of claiming another Group 3 feature will be made tougher by a stablemate on Saturday. Star square-gaiter Tornado Valley is back at the races and will line up alongside Everybody Knows in the Alderbaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All (2240m) at Tabcorp Park Melton. It took eight runs for Everybody Knows, a well-tried son of Quite Easy, to score his first Australian success, which also ended a winning drought that spanned back to December 2017. Funnily enough, that run of losing form was essentially what caught the eye of Gath, who was able to purchase the horse after more than 70 starts overseas. “He’s never going to beat a Tornado Valley or McLovin, but he’s going to be competitive in the races he won on Sunday,” Gath said. “I like buying horses that have shown that they are metro level but when they are out of form you can get them at a lot cheaper price than buying them when in form.” Gath said Everybody Knows’ form was “horrendous” before he was able to buy the horse, but noted he had been able to win more than $150,000 in prizemoney early in his career. “He was going quite bad,” Gath said. “I think he won $150,000 in New Zealand so you’ve got to be above average. “You shouldn’t always assume that you are going to get them back to what they can go like, but sometimes you hope.” Gath said it quickly became evident the now eight-year-old suffered badly from tie up, a cramp-like issue that causes pain in the muscles. A change to the horse’s feed helped with the problem, but still saw Everybody Knows take a few months to hit the track in Australia. Gath said it was hard to see how he could beat Tornado Valley on Saturday night. “Tornado Valley worked with him today and gives him about an 80m head start and still grabs him,” Gath said. Both Gath-trained horses are raced by owner Norm Jenkin. Despite having a foot issue since his last-start win earlier this month, Tornado Valley is the one to beat in the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All, which has attracted a small but quality field of seven runners. Kari Males’ Red Hot Tooth will have her second run back from a spell in the race, while David Aiken’s Big Jack Hammer looms as a big threat following a string of good placings in recent weeks. Father Christmas and Maori Law, who Everybody Knows beat at Maryborough, are also among the starters. Saturday night's card kicks off with race one at 6.33pm and concludes with race 10 at 11pm.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

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