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It was the Kate Gath show on Saturday night as the state’s top reinswoman scored three memorable Group race triumphs at Tabcorp Park Melton. Gath guided the country’s premier trotter Tornado Valley to his 19th victory at Victorian headquarters to bring up the winning three-peat, which had earlier been set up by Emma Stewart-trained pair Pacifico Dream and Demon Delight. The success with Tornado Valley, who is trained by Gath’s husband at the pair’s Long Forest base, was the horse’s 35th in a career spanning 95 starts. The evergreen squaregaiter had to fight to win Saturday night’s Group 3 Economix Scotch Notch Memorial (2240m, NR 80-120). He sat parked outside Maori Law for much of the journey before getting the better of him in a battle down the home straight. “He just does what he has to… he was holding him (Maori Law) a little bit better than he normally has been lately,” Gath said. “He just got the job done and he’s just been a great horse for us.” Earlier, Gath partnered Pacifico Dream in his demolition of the Group 3 VHRC Victoria Sires Classic (2240m, 3YO) field. After leading from barrier one, Gath copped some pressure through the middle stages but then let the Mach Three colt sprint home and score by close to 20 metres in a rate of 1:55.1. The result followed a fourth placing in the NSW Derby and was the horse’s fifth win from 10 career starts. “I’m not surprised. I’ve loved this horse from when he was a two-year-old,” Gath said. “He hasn’t drawn good in any of the big races and it’s probably stopped him winning one. But he’s still on the way up and as we saw tonight, he just played with them.” Gath made it a race-to-race double when she drove stablemate Demon Delight to a head success in the Group 2 City of Melton Plate XXXI (2240m, 4&5YO). After returning from a consistent but unsuccessful Sydney campaign - which included a fourth placing in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire - Demon Delight was able to land his first win since August last year in the $50,000 feature. Gath took the horse from three back the running line to a spot outside the leader at the bell and it proved a great move as the four-year-old then surged to the lead at the home turn and held off a wall of chasing rivals. Clayton Tonkin’s Out To Play darted home along the sprint lane to grab second. “This horse has been knocking on the door to win a big race and he never gets the draw. Tonight it turned out a little bit better for him and he got the job done,” Gath said. “He’s such a quality horse but every start he goes around against the best horses of his age group and every start he nearly doesn’t get a good draw. His record, as good as it is, could probably be even better.” Demon Delight has now won 11 of 25 starts for close to $200,000 in prizemoney. The night’s other feature was the Group 3 Allied Express Jodie’s Babe (1720m, mares NR 70-120) and it was taken out by Delightful Tara for Kialla trainer Isabel Walsh and driver Josh Aiken. The meeting kicked off on a sour note when top driver Kima Frenning was tipped out of the sulky before the running of race one. It’s understood she has sustained a broken wrist in the ugly fall and is set to be sidelined for some time. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM THE WINNING DRIVERS IN ALL CLEAR:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Myrniong-based driver Greg Sugars had the magic touch in the sulky on Saturday night with a winning four-peat at Tabcorp Park Melton. Among his triumphs on the nine-race card were two for trainer-wife Jess Tubbs and others for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Sugars and Tubbs struck early with stablemates Huli Nien and Larajay Macray, who scored decisive wins in the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) and Alabar Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) respectively. For Huli Nien, the victory was his 11th overall and backed up a recent win at Maryborough in late February, while for Larajay Macray the sixth career triumph ended a long run of outs that spanned back to August last year. Sugars then took aim with Stewart’s returning star Major Times, who scored a fresh victory first-up since a second placing in the Breeders Crown Championship (4YO entires and geldings) of August 2019. “He’s had a couple of good trials, but it’s never the same as match fitness,” Sugars said after the win in the Allied Express Pace (2240m, NR 85-99). “He was very impressive. We know he’s a top-class, tough sort of horse when he’s right and that was pretty good.” Major Times had to work in the early stages to eventually find the lead and ran along in solid time before shaking off runner-up War Dan by close to three metres. The victory, in a mile rate of 1:55.1, was the son of Art Major’s 14th from 32 career starts. Sugars then made it four for the night when he lifted Tonkin’s Out To Play over the line in the Pridmore Electrics Pace (1720m, NR 77-84). Sugars parked back in the field from barrier eight and then came with a sweeping three-wide run down the back straight, which proved just too good for runner-up Franks Very Much, who was beaten close to two metres. The victory, in 1:53.3, followed a gallant fifth in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire behind Lochinvar Art a few weeks ago and takes the horse’s record to seven wins from 16 starts. “He’s a hard horse not to love, really,” Sugars said. “He’s got a beautiful nature, he’s a good looking fella, he’s fast and he ticks a lot of boxes. He’s good to be part of.” Sugars said it was basically just Out To Play’s class that got him over the line on Saturday night. “He still had to put up a pretty special performance because he was giving them a big, big start and they’ve run great sectionals,” he said. Trainer-driver husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath enjoyed a winning double with Eureka (Hyland Sportswear Pace, 1200m, NR 60-69) and Majestuoso (Garrards Trot, 2240m, NR 70-85), while Stewart also claimed a double when Freddy Funk took out the Hygain Claiming Pace (2240m) to register his third success on end.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

The flying Pat Stanley continued his rise to top-line star under the care of Kerryn Manning with a blistering victory at Tabcorp Park Melton. At just his fifth run for the Great Western-based horsewoman, the son of Western Ideal added the IRT Australia Markovina Free For All (2240m) to his recent South Australian Pacing Cup success with a dominant 14-metre triumph in Saturday night’s feature. The win, in a mile rate of 1:55.2, continued a great run of form since joining Manning’s yard and plans are now in place for a likely tilt at the Group 2 City of Melton Plate in a fortnight’s time. “He should measure up, hopefully, in some of the better races,” Manning said. “He’s headed to America eventually. He’s owned by Ron (Buker) over there but he’s won back his $50,000 that he paid for him and he’s earning more now. He said we’d leave him here while we are going well.” Pat Stanley was bred and raced in the early part of his career in New Zealand and then spent a couple of years with Blake Fitzpatrick in New South Wales before being sent to Victoria. “When they bought him I hadn’t really heard of him,” Manning said. “I watched a few of his replays and he looked to go really good without having a lot of luck up there, but (was) always running on really good.” Manning said Pat Stanley’s win in the South Australian Pacing Cup in early February, when severely pressured in the lead, proved he had the strength as well as the speed he had shown previously. This performance was followed by an eye-catching second behind Code Bailey in the Terang Pacing Cup prior to Saturday night’s success. Pat Stanley has now had 45 career starts for 14 wins and more than $140,000 in prizemoney. Champion reinsman Chris Alford produced a winning treble at Melton, scoring in the Allied Express Pace (1200m, 4YO+) with David Aiken-trained Pirate Bay, winning the Benstud Standardbreds Trot (2240m, 4YO+ NR 75-100) with Andy Gath’s Miss Blissful and then the Empire Stallions Claiming Pace (1720m) with Emma Stewart’s Freddy Funk. Freddy Funk’s triumph capped a perfect night for Stewart, who prepared three runners at Melton for three wins. Also successful was debutant Ideal Dan, who took out the Breckon Farms Sapling Stakes (1720m, 2YO colts and geldings) and Ideal Conquest, who won the TAB Multiplier Pace (2240m, mares NR 70-89).   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

High-class mare Dance Craze was able to perform the near impossible and run past Tornado Valley to claim the Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix on a memorable Group 1 night for trainer Anton Golino and driver Glen Craven. The daughter of Muscle Hill’s triumph landed the second leg of an elite level double for Golino and Craven, who had earlier combined with Im Ready Jet in the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final. Despite a couple of moves from rival runners, Dance Craze was able to keep her place in the one-one for much of the 2240m journey before unleashing a brilliant sprint in the home straight to charge past Tornado Valley, who had worked to the lead down the back straight the first time. The result, achieved in a mile rate of 1:58.2, ended the Andy Gath-trained star’s tilt at a third-straight Group 1 and added a third to the resume of Dance Craze. “She’s definitely special and credit to Anton to get her up for tonight,” Craven said. “Tonight she was able to get the good run. We were able to make a mid-race move when the speed slackened off and get the one-one again and that’s just the way she races best.” Golino will now ponder a trip overseas with the six-year-old, who has won 21 of 37 career starts. “I think she’s the right horse. We took her to New Zealand (in 2018) and she handled the trip really well. She was an unlucky third over there in the Jewels, but she honestly is a very, very easy horse. She takes care of herself and there’s no trick to her so that’s a big attribute, especially for a mare I guess. She’s fairly sensible,” Golino said. “Obviously it’s a dream. That’s a dream we all sort of want to strive for. If everything goes right, yeah it could be a possibility.” Im Ready Jet blitzed her rivals in the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final (1720m) by close to 25m. The horse clocked a sizzling mile rate of 1:55.6 in beating Simone De Beauvoir and stablemate Imamaorijet. It was career win number six for Im Ready Jet and the second at the top level. Saturday night's all-trotting card at Tabcorp Park Melton featured two other Group 1 contests and they were both won by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Alford took the drive of Anthony Butt-trained Elite Stride, who made no mistake as a warm $1.70 favourite in the Alan Mance Holden Need For Speed Prince Final (1720m). The Muscle Hill colt won by close to 25 metres in 1:55.8, beating runner-up Andover Sun and third-placed Royalebomba.                                                                                                 --Stuart McCormick photo “That was pretty exciting. He just travelled well all the way and when he got into the back he wanted to get going so we said ‘let’s go’. He did it really well and had plenty left,” Alford said. Half an hour later Alford was back in the winner’s circle when I Am Pegasus got the job done as $1.40 favourite in the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final (1720m). The Joe Vassallo-trained I Am Pegasus copped some pressure in the lead and had to fight hard to hold out Chris Svanosio’s Norquay, who dived through along the sprint lane to be denied by a short half head. Once again, the mile rate was a hot 1:55.8. “She’s generally known for her speed, but she got hammered pretty hard the first half and had to be brave tonight,” Alford said. “I thought the other one had her, but she dug deep.”   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Australia’s best trotter Tornado Valley notched up his eighth Group 1 victory with an emotional success in Monday night’s rescheduled Alderbaran Park The Knight Pistol (2240m). The Andy Gath-trained superstar claimed his second successive win in the feature after overcoming a back row draw and sitting three-wide trip through the middle stages of the race. He hit the front at the top of the straight and then held off the fast-finishing Wobelee to win by a nose on the line. The triumph was a special one for connections with owner Norm Jenkin still mourning the recent passing of his brother. “(Norm) had to bury his brother today so we’d like to dedicate this win to Robert,” Andy Gath said. “He’s won it two years in a row this horse and we just love him - he just keeps winning and winning.” Tornado Valley’s win in the $50,000 Group 1 trot followed a narrow success in the $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star two weeks earlier and takes the son of Skyvalley’s career prizemoney to more than $730,000. Driver Kate Gath was full of praise for the eight-year-old, who again showed his characteristic determination in the closing stages of the race. “It was pretty special actually because not everything went his way,” she said. “I’m a Wobelee fan and I think going forward Wobelee could be the next Tornado Valley. So for him to hold his younger protege off after doing a bit of work was nothing short of outstanding as well. “He’s just stamped that he’s really going as good as ever and we’ve still got a lot to look forward too.” New Zealander Temporale finished third ahead of Kylie Sugars’ Sammy Showdown, who was game after leading the field in his first crack at the elite level. Monday night’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting was rescheduled from last Friday when a heavy downpour of rain ruined parts of the track. The Gath team landed victory early on Monday night when Miss Hartley won the Australian Pacing Gold Pace (2240m, 4YO+) before David Aiken-trained Jimmy Locke produced perhaps the most impressive win of the evening with a brilliant display in the Flem-Ken Bowls Club Vicbred Pace (1720m, NR 70-77). The horse charged home from back in the field to score by almost 20 metres in a mile rate of 1:52.4. Racing returns to Melton this Saturday night. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO THE METROSPECTIVE PODCAST:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

It was one of the more memorable Victorian racetrack debuts in recent times and it has Burrumbeet trainer Mick Stanley dreaming big with exciting two-year-old Soho Lanikai. While the horse’s 65m victory in the Allied Express Premiere Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night was visually stunning, the clock backed up the horse’s dominance. The son of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by strong stable supporter Rob Watson, rated a slick 1.54.0 mile rate in defeating the previously unbeaten Ultimate Exclusive and Im Lady Madeleine over the 1720m trip. The time is only half-a-second outside Nostra Beach's two-year-old track record (1:53.5 mile rate), set in the APG fillies' final on May 6 2017, and 0.3 seconds outside Dont Hold Back's (1:53.7) 2YO colts and geldings' record, which was set in the Sapling Stakes (February 27 2015). “We expected him to win, but at the trials he was very green and had a good look around and was sort of a bit dorky,” said Stanley, who gave the drive to Ryan Duffy due to commitments at Globe Derby. “Our only concern going into the race was if he raced a bit green and had a good look around like he did at the trials, but he didn’t do any of that and what he did at the trials he benefited a lot from. That was great to see that improvement in him mentally so he was able to switch-on on race day.” Stanley said the heats of the Bathurst Gold Crown would likely be the next assignment for the horse on March 20, with a hopeful run in the Group 1 final a week later. Soho Lanikai was purchased at the Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold sales and is also eligible for that upcoming series. Another highlight on Saturday night’s card was the brilliant return to racing from Mick Chircop-trained General Dodge. In his first competitive race since June 2018, the seven-year-old proved too good in the Hygain Pace (1720m, NR 80-99) after sitting three-wide in the latter stages. He rated 1.53.8 and beat a quality field including Emma Stewart-trained place-getters Liftntorque and Always Fast. Chircop said it had been a long road back to fitness for his star pacer, who has won 12 of 16 career starts. “He got this parasite called liver fluke and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it,” Chircop said. “We kept working him up and he kept getting crook and I was a bit worried at the time. It’s more common in cattle and sheep. It’s a snail and it attacks their liver - he was very sick and we nearly lost him a couple of times there.” Chircop, who trains from Parwan, said a tilt at the country cups circuit was among the future plans for the son of Courage Under Fire.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Bolinda trainer Kari Males is hoping it's third-time lucky for stable star Red Hot Tooth in Saturday night's What The Hill Great Southern Star. The classy mare, who was a luckless favourite for the lucrative feature in 2018 and finished fourth at big odds 12 months ago, heads to the $250,000 event on the back of a second placing in the DNR Logistics V L Dullard Trotters Cup. Males was over the moon with the horse's effort behind Temporale on Saturday night, when sitting behind the leader and getting home along the inside to be beaten eight metres. "I think running second in that field was like a win for us. We were pretty happy with it," Males said. "She beat a lot of good horses home. We were rapt - we were as happy as had we won really." Males is after a change of luck at Tuesday night's barrier draw, with Red Hot Tooth having not started from inside gate five during her last six runs. It has been a somewhat frustrating campaign for the daughter of Yankee Paco, who has broken under pressure in feature races at Bendigo and Cranbourne and been unable to win any of her seven starts this preparation. "I've been pretty happy with her. She's sort of galloped when we haven't really known why," Males said. "She's had a new driver (Kerryn Manning) on the last few starts, so maybe it's just a little bit of a combination of someone new getting used to her and things like that. "We've just played around with her feet a tiny bit and she seems to be right now. "She's probably a lot stronger looking this time in... she's probably finally matured that bit more and has had that hard racing in the fast class to sort of strengthen her up. I think she is going as good as she ever has." The What The Hill Great Southern Star, for the open class squaregaiters over the staying trip of 2760m, is a major highlight of the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup program, Night 3 of the TAB Summer Of Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton. The barrier draw for the headline races will be conducted at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow night. For details about snapping up a ticket for the barrier draw click here.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

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 thetrots.com.au 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 thetrots.com.au. 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 thetrots.com.au 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

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