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Kate Hargreaves' flying machine Well Defined will look to extend his lead in the Maori's Idol Trotting Championship on Sunday. The in-form gelding has won the Ararat and Terang cups at his last two outings to charge to the top of the leaderboard, which carries a $25,000 bonus for the winner, split between the owners and trainer. Well Defined can move further clear with victory in The Honourable Peter Walsh Boort Trotters Cup this weekend. However, it won't be easy for the son of Majestic Son, who must overcome a 30m handicap and a quality field of rivals including stablemate Downunder Barkers and Travel Bug, who sits second on the Championship standings for trainer Jason McNaulty. The Councillor Neil Beattie and Family Boort Pacing Cup has also drawn a strong field, including impressive last-start winner Uncle Jord (Craig Turnbull), recent Wedderburn Pacing Cup champ Pembrook Charlie (Julie Douglas) and Jess Tubbs-trained stablemates Im Anothermasterpiece and Larajay Macray. Aside from the eight-race card, the Boort Trotting Club has a stack of other highlights for the entire family. There will be a fashions on the field competition, as well as yabby racing, a punters' club and much more. The club is also celebrating its 130th anniversary, as well as champion squaregaiter Grand Voyage, who won the Boort Pacing Cup 100 years ago in 1921. Paddy Glasheen trained and drove the horse through his career and his family will be on track, as well as a sulky used by the horse on that day at Boort. "He was an all-time great, who won 44 races," club president John Campbell told the Bendigo Advertiser. "He won twice on (Boort) Cup day in 1921. In the shorter race - the first race of the day - he was off 180 yards, odds-on and he won and then he raced in the pacer's cup." Entry to the COVID-compliant event is free, with racegoers receiving a racebook on the house. Bookings must be made via Brook Shaune-Bould on 0417 344 802, Campbell on 0437 077 887 or via email at boorttrots@gmail.com CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL BOORT FIELDS   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Trainer Matthew Craven is plotting a return to the races with former top pacer Shadow Sax, who has recently joined his Ecklin South stable. Previously trained by Emma Stewart, and before that Peter Tonkin, the injury-plagued son of Shadow Play has not raced since September 2020 at Bendigo. That race was his first run since October the year prior. Craven trialed Shadow Sax on Tuesday night at Terang and was forced to pull him up the first time around due to a flat tyre. He was then placed in a later trial, which he won by 7m. “Obviously, he has had a few issues along the way. We have just been poking along quietly with him and taking him to the beach and things like that,” Craven said. “He’s not far away. He will probably just have another trial, maybe even next week, and then we will look to start him somewhere.” A first-up start in the Charlton Pacing Cup on March 14 looms as a likely target for the horse, who is owned by Pam and Russell Hockham and the Stable of Stars syndicate. Shadow Sax has won 23 of 42 career starts, including the 2015 Vicbred Super Series 2YO Colts and Geldings Final and the 2018 SA Pacing Cup.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Past Australian 3YO Trotting Colt/Gelding of the Year Cruisin Around has run his last race, with connections making the decision to call time on a career that netted almost $300,000 in prizemoney. The Brent Lilley-trained squaregaiter was retired after his down-the-track finish in the South West Conveyancing Terang Trotters Cup on Saturday night. That decision brought an end to a journey that spanned 84 starts and included 19 wins, highlighted by a rare Group 1 double – the Vicbred Super Series and Breeders Crown Series finals – during a stunning three-year-old campaign. Cruisin Around, who is part of a vintage crop which includes Red Hot Tooth, Temporale, Sundons Courage, Maori Law, Big Jack Hammer and High Gait, was never quite able to recapture his best after suffering injury early in his four-year-old season. Michael Hughes mentored him to those big-race victories through his early years, before he was moved on to Lilley for whom he won a Kilmore Trotters Cup and as recently as last June set an Australian record at his favourite track Bendigo. Tanya McDermott, who runs the HRV HERO project that helps standardbreds transition to new lives off the racetrack, has agreed to take the son of Bacardi Lindy. "His last four or five runs he's just told us he doesn't want to race anymore," managing owner Bill Hutchison said. "He's done enough so he's going to Tanya and she does a good job rehoming all those horses. "He deserves a better life and that's what he will get.”   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Stawell trainer Chris Blake admits he was shocked by the performance of his mare Tic Tact, who produced an electric dash home to win in style at Ballarat last Thursday. The four-year-old is highlighted in this week's Time Is Money column, which focuses on standout performances from PJ Data’s valuable timing system. PJ Data covered both the Ballarat and Tabcorp Park Melton meetings last week. Tic Tact's win in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (NR up to 51) came thanks to a last 800m section of 55.86sec, which was clearly the fastest of the entire Bray Raceway card on February 18. In fact, Tic Tact was more than a second quicker home than any of her rivals in the race and proved the only horse to break 56sec all evening. The mare drew barrier 10 and was positioned nicely three back in the running line by driver Grant Campbell, who then let the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance go down the back straight and she cruised in for a 6.2m win. Blake said the run by Tic Tact was the best since he'd taken over as her trainer at the start of 2020. "Previously when she had drawn back in the field she really hadn't fired much at all, but to do what she did the other day was just a complete shock to us. We didn't think she was capable of doing that, but obviously she can," he said. Tic Tact, who formerly raced in Queensland, has now won four of her 28 starts.   THE NUMBERS TIC TACT TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE (2200m) - 1st LEAD TIME: 43.96sec LAST MILE: 1:56.54min LAST 800m: 55.86sec LAST 400m: 28.20sec   WHERE TO NEXT? Blake is planning to return to Ballarat's Bray Raceway with Tic Tact on March 4 and hopes to use a mares allowance in a 4YO+ NR 51 to 54 event. "That's what I want to do to get her off the front again... I reckon if she draws nice as a 51 (rater) then she'll be extremely hard to beat again," he said. "She's got plenty of gate speed to get across and get to the front."   FASTEST FIVE BALLARAT, FEBRUARY 18 LAST 400m MYKORONA 26.79sec - 2nd DEL RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP 2YO MAIDEN PACE MASTER STRIDE 27.12sec - 3rd DEL RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP 2YO MAIDEN PACE VALOUR STRIDE 27.16sec - 1st DEL RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP 2YO MAIDEN PACE QUEEN ELIDA 27.23sec - 1st NEED FOR SPEED PRINCESS (HEAT) THE CHANCER 27.29sec - 2nd FLYING HORSE ENTERTAINMENT VENUE VICBRED PACE   LAST 800m TIC TACT 55.86sec - 1st TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE QUEEN ELIDA 56.37sec - 1st NEED FOR SPEED PRINCESS (HEAT) LADY IN THE SKY 56.42sec - 4th NEED FOR SPEED PRINCESS (HEAT) IMA CHERISHED STRIDE 56.72sec - 3rd NEED FOR SPEED PRINCESS (HEAT) THE CHANCER 56.91sec - 2nd FLYING HORSE ENTERTAINMENT VENUE VICBRED PACE   CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SECTIONALS FOR EVERY RUNNER AT BALLARAT   TABCORP PARK MELTON, FEBRUARY 19 LAST 400m UNCLE JORD 27.65sec - 1st TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE UNTITLED 27.66sec - 4th TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE FOOLISH PLEASURE 27.69sec - 5th SEPPELT WINES PACE FLYING JO 27.86sec - 2nd HYLAND'S RACING COLOURS PACE FINAL ONA HIGHWAY TOHELL 28.00sec - 1st SEPPELT WINES PACE   LAST 800m UNCLE JORD 55.07sec - 1st TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE UNTITLED 55.19sec - 4th TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE FLYING JO 55.44sec - 2nd HYLAND'S RACING COLOURS PACE FINAL FRANKS VERY MUCH 55.65sec - 5th TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE ASSASSINATOR 55.67sec - 3rd TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE   CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SECTIONALS FOR EVERY RUNNER AT MELTON    

The TAB Australian Trotting Grand Prix shapes as a rematch of the Great Southern Star, with the first eight horses across the line in that event backing up in this Saturday night's Group 1. Andy Gath's star Tornado Valley tipped out Rob O'Connell-trained Magicool in a thrilling GSS on February 5, but will need to be at his very best to repeat the dose after drawing unfavourably on the back row in nine as the latter secured barrier four. New Zealander Majestic Man was third in that race and will find it tough from barrier 10, while fourth place-getter Pink Galahs, for Matthew Craven, has five. Monaro Mia (Wayne Potter), Robbie Royale (Brent Lilley), Sparkling Success (John Meade), Always Ready (Anton Golino and Jack MacKinnon), Sundons Courage (Brad Angove), Red Hot Tooth (Kari Males), McLovin (Andy Gath) and Tough Monarch (Rickie Alchin) have also accepted for the $100,000 event, which is one of four Group 1s on Saturday night's Tabcorp Park Melton card. The TAB opened Tornado Valley as a $2.40 favourite on Tuesday afternoon. Other highlights of the meeting include the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final, the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final and the Alan Mance Need For Speed Prince Final. Of course, the night will be dominated by the WomenCan Team Teal 'Night at the Trots' function. Meanwhile, a strong field of nine sprinters have accepted for the Geelong Rocket on Friday night. Stars such as Shakamaker, Blatant Lie, Smoken Up and Melpark Major have won the race, which has not been contested since 2013. The 1609m dash will carry $24,000 in prizemoney and is for the fast class pacers rated between 90-120. After a stack of Victorian-trained horses tackle Group 1s in a big feature meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night, attention then turns to Sunday's Boort meeting. The eight-race card includes the Councillor Neil Beattie and Family Boort Pacing Cup and The Honourable Peter Walsh Boort Trotters Cup, both worth $14,500.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Shakamaker, Blatant Lie, Smoken Up and Melpark Major are just some of the stars to have won the Geelong Rocket. And now a new winner is set to be added to the honour roll for the first time since 2013. The Geelong Harness Racing Club has reignited the feature over the flying mile and will run it for the first time in close to a decade this Friday night. The race will carry $24,000 in prizemoney and is open to the fast class pacers rated between 90-120. GHRC general manager John Dunne said the track renovation last year had helped produce some quick times at Beckley Park and is keen for the club to be known as a place where fast races are run. "Since then, the drivers have remarked how fast and how well this track is racing," he said. "We've decided to have a slogan down here and it's simply: Geelong - High Speed Racing... that's our slogan and that's how we are going to market the place from now on in. "We decided to bring back the Rocket, which is traditionally over the flying mile. And we've got a genuine mile start here, so they've got a decent run to the first turn at the start of the mile." Dunne said it was exciting to have the event back on the annual calendar. "We are delighted for it to be back," he said. "Normally in February (there is) balmy nights so it's conducive to running fast times." Friday night’s meeting will also include the consolation finals for the Need For Speed Prince and Need For Speed Princess series. GEELONG ROCKET HONOUR ROLL 2003      Shakamaker (John Justice) 2003      Lagoon Lady (Kerryn Manning) 2004      Dee Dees Dream (Aaron Dunn) 2005      Billabong Girl (Gavin Lang) 2007      Penny Veejay (Chris Alford) 2008      Blatant Lie (Kate Gath) 2009      Smoken Up NZ (Lance Justice) 2010      Smoken Up NZ (Lance Justice) 2011      Lets Slash An Burn NZ (Greg Sugars) 2012      Melpark Major (Amy Tubbs) 2013      Abettorpunt (Matthew Craven)   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Lochinvar Art needed some help from Club Menangle and Harness Racing NSW to force his way into Australia’s richest race next month. And he got it. The star Victorian was scratched from tonight’s Newcastle Mile, with trainer David Moran citing a foot injury as the reason behind the horse’s withdrawal from the Group 1 sprint. This decision looked as though it would have major repercussions for Lochinvar Art’s tilt at the $1million Miracle Mile on March 6, until a juggling of conditions on Friday afternoon. Due to his late scratching, the five-year-old incurred a mandatory 10-day ban from racing, which ruled him out of the last remaining qualifying races at Menangle on February 27. Those two races – the Schweppes Sprint and Allied Express Sprint – offer direct qualification to the Miracle Mile for the first and second placegetters. On top of the Newcastle Mile and Chariots of Fire winners, the balance of the field (eight plus two emergencies) was to be made from horses drawn into either the Schweppes Sprint, Allied Express Sprint or that competed in the Chariots. The Ladyship Mile victor can also be selected into the Miracle Mile due to an exceptional performance. Friday’s change in conditions now means a horse that has accepted for any direct qualifying race – such as the Newcastle Mile – can be considered for discretionary selection into the Miracle Mile. This has opened the door for Lochinvar Art to contest the race, which he had been favourite to win before TAB markets were suspended on Friday. He placed second in the Miracle Mile last year.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Sometimes race form doesn't tell the true story of a horse's ability, and that seems to be the case for a couple of the Tindale-trained runners that will step out at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday. The Berringa barn looks a good chance of securing a winning double at Victorian harness racing headquarters, with Whats Stanley Got well fancied over stablemate Smile Lyle in the Hygain Pony Trots Pace and Spacewriter finding himself in a winnable Empire Stallions Maiden Pace late in the night. Whats Stanley Got (pictured) hasn't won since April last year, but has been knocking on the door for victory with some eye-catching recent performances at Geelong and Ararat. Co-trainer AJ Tindale has been taken by both those efforts in defeat and reckons her gelding is well placed despite the difficult barrier seven draw. "I rate him a big chance in that field with luck, and a lot of luck is required from a bad draw at Melton," she said. Whats Stanley Got (James Herbertson) will come up against Smile Lyle (Ryan Duffy), and while the latter hasn't won since June 2019 and has only been within 10m of the winner in one of his eight starts for the stable, Tindale suggests there's plenty of underlying ability with the son of Grinfromeartoear. "At home on his work he's the pick of the bunch," she said. "But he's just not overly enthused race day - he's very casual. "I think he is probably better driven with inside runs, he seems to be a little bit more confident. So we'll see what he wants to do on the day. "He is working better than some of our good horses at home. He just disappoints us a bit race day. He just doesn't give 100 per cent." It seems a similar story for Spacewriter, who resumes from a spell in the last race of nine. The four-year-old has been a frustrating project for the Tindale team, with 10 placings but no wins from his 25 career starts to date. This includes close-up performances in his last five runs before going for a spell in October last year. "This horse has so much ability," AJ said. "He works the house down at home, but when he goes to the races, he is happy to let everyone else win. "His trial (third at Tabcorp Park on February 9) was okay. I think he's going to need the run, but you don't know. He's got a good draw and we've got a great driver (Chris Alford) on him, so he might surprise us." It's a big week for the stable, with four runners engaged at the Terang Pacing Cup meeting on Saturday night. And the best of those winning chances? Tindale leant the way of Rosarito Miss, who galloped in the concluding stages of a race at Melton last weekend and finished last. “She’s got a brilliant record at Terang and she was very unlucky to not run third the other night,” Tindale said. “I think she would have run a clear third at her first sort of crack at a city race and she warranted having another crack this weekend we thought.”   HRV - Tim O'Connor

For many involved in harness racing, the sport has been a passion from a young age or even a right of passage in a family addicted to the game. But that can't be said for Sofia Arvidsson, who in some ways is an unlikely contestant in Saturday night's Group 1 Chariots of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Swedish national had no background in the trots when she travelled to Australia in her early 20s, but a decision to head to western Victoria and work for Matthew Craven sparked love and a new-found thrill for racing. Arvidsson embarked on a stay with Craven in a bid to extend her Australian visa, and from there the rest is history. "I knew there was horses and knew there was trotters, but I wasn't really sure what to expect to be honest,” she said. "I grew up on a farm so I'm happy out on the countryside doing farm work. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do, but I was happy to have a go. "When I fast worked the first time, that's when I really got hooked. I started off just riding them and then I jogged a few, but when I had to fast work one, then I really started to enjoy it and just loved doing it." Things progressed to Arvidsson gaining her trial licence, then "all of a sudden I got very competitive" and driving in races became a reality. Since then, the 26-year-old has had close to 200 starts in the sulky and already collected 36 career wins, highlighted by the Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For All with her favourite horse, Gus An Maori. While racking up almost $300,000 for connections through her drives, Arvidsson has developed her training skills alongside Craven – now her partner - at his Ecklin South property. She is currently on assignment with three of the stable's horses for the New South Wales Carnival of Miracles. Arvidsson teams up with Kowalski Analysis in this Saturday's $200,000 Chariots of Fire, and although he's been ultra-competitive at the top level before - including a fifth in the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup and third in the DNR Logistics 4YO Bonanza - the task is expected to be difficult. "There's some really nice horses in this race so it will be pretty tough. He'd need every break to go his way and probably things to go a little bit wrong for the others," Arvidsson said. "But you have to be in it to win it so you never know." Stablemates Kimble and October Reign are being saved for the NSW Derby heats on February 27.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Monegeetta trainer-driver David Miles is over the moon with the performance of a new stable acquisition who reeled off a hot closing sectional at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Kanena Provlima is the focus of this week’s Time Is Money column, which looks to highlight standout performances and coming winners from PJ Data’s valuable timing system. At just his first start for Miles since arriving from NSW trainer Ben Settree, the five-year-old produced a sizzling finale to finish second in the Nutrien Equine Pace (2240m) behind winner Rollova. Driver Jayden Barker settled the horse second last in the run – on the back of Rollova - and then let rip with a brilliant turn of foot in the home straight only to go down by a half-head. Watch the race replay click here! The son of A Rocknroll Dance clocked a best-of-the-night last 400m split of 26.18sec, as well as a race-fastest final 800m section of 55.58s. "We were absolutely stoked with the run," Miles said. "He just got a little bit lost when Jayden pulled him out. He pulled quite hard early and got the helmet, but just didn't track up in the run as good as we would have hoped. "We have just made a couple of gear changes this week to hopefully get him to travel a bit kinder and a bit more genuine." Kanena Provlima is set to compete on the Trots Country Cups Championship circuit in the coming weeks, but could be destined for bigger things down the track. "Pie in the sky stuff, but he could potentially be a Grand Circuit horse," Miles said. "He's got that feel at the moment and he's shown us that at the moment. We've only had him less than two weeks, so there's a lot of water to go under the bridge and he's got to handle the 2600m when we go there. "He's already won some regional country cups in western New South Wales and we are just taking a line through Dark Terror that Ben Settree sent us down last season. "Dark Terror was keeping up with Jamieson Steele and Louis Sedgwick and those sorts of horses, and he said this fellow is better. Fingers crossed he is, and if he is, we are going to have a lot of fun. He's going to be a genuine free for all horse." THE NUMBERS KANENA PROVLIMA NUTRIEN EQUINE PACE (2240m) - SECOND LEAD TIME: 49.18sec LAST MILE: 1:54.93min LAST 800m: 55.58sec LAST 400m: 26.18sec   WHERE TO NEXT? Miles is taking the horse to Terang on Saturday night for the Mt Noorat Freighters Pace, where he has drawn barrier one. Miles gives Kanena Provlima a good chance of success, even against the likes of last-start Ladyship Cup winner Our Princess Tiffany. "I'm happy to either lead or sit leaders back and I think he's a real genuine chance," he said. FASTEST FIVE TABCORP PARK MELTON, FEBRUARY 13 LAST 800m WATCH PULP FICTION 54.55sec - 2nd HERO CLAIMING PACE THE PANTHEIST 54.65sec - 4th THE BIG SCREEN COMPANY PACE VANITY BAY 54.74sec - 2nd PRYDE'S EASIFEED PACE SIX ELEMENTS 54.79sec - 5th THE BIG SCREEN COMPANY PACE GILTY HANOVER 54.89sec - 5th PRYDE'S EASIFEED PACE   LAST 400m KANENA PROVLIMA 26.18sec - 2nd NUTRIEN EQUINE PACE ROLLOVA 26.50sec - 1st NUTRIEN EQUINE PACE JOE NIEN 26.61sec - last NUTRIEN EQUINE PACE WATCH PULP FICTION 27.00sec - 2nd HERO CLAIMING PACE TYPHOON STRIDE 27.05sec - 3rd NUTRIEN EQUINE PACE   CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SECTIONALS FOR EVERY RUNNER AT MELTON ON SATURDAY NIGHT   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Dubbed "a little bit of an opportunist" by his trainer David Aiken, grand old trotter Big Jack Hammer is back at the races in search of more Group 1 glory this weekend. Aiken has applauded his horse's ability to win five races at the top level, which started with his maiden victory in the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Series as a three-year-old and has gone on to include the 2019 VL Dullard Trotters Cup, the 2019 Australian Trotting Grand Prix and two Trotters Miles in Sydney. Now, after a decent spell, the Domenic Martello-owned squaregaiter is back and ready to tackle the best once again. Big Jack Hammer hasn't been seen at the races since September last year, but has had two hit-outs at his home track of Shepparton in preparation for his tilt at the Group 1 Alderbaran Park The Knight Pistol at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. "He's trialled pretty good the last two weeks - we've been happy with him," Aiken said of the eight-year-old. "He's getting older and you've got a lot of young ones coming through. It's a pretty good group at the moment there and he's been a little bit of an opportunist. He's won five Group 1s, he's won them off good trips. He probably can't make his own luck, but he's pretty quick when he gets the right run. "He's done a super job... he's just been a really good old trotter for us." Aiken said he had been close to entering Big Jack Hammer in last week's What The Hill Great Southern Star series, but had opted to wait until this weekend's $50,000 event to kick-start a preparation which is hoped to include the Australian Trotting Grand Prix on February 27 and then a crack at winning a third-straight Trotters Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 6. Big Jack Hammer is one of the major outsiders against a strong field of rivals in Saturday night's race, including seven who competed in the Great Southern Star series eight days prior. New Zealander Majestic Man is favourite to win his second career Group 1, looking to bounce back after consecutive placings behind champion Tornado Valley in the heat and final last Friday. Tornado Valley's stablemate Majestuoso might be the fresh horse on the scene. He sat out last weekend's racing after pulling up sore when beaten into third by Majestic Man in the VL Dullard Trotters Cup on January 30. The Knight Pistol is the feature on Saturday night's 11-race card, which kicks off with the opener at 5.59pm.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Adam Kelly won’t be taking any credit if Ryley Major lands the Group 3 $30,000 Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup on Friday night. That praise, he says, should go to Tasmanian horseman Rohan Hillier, who has left the eight-year-old warrior with the Toolern Vale trainer for a crack at the 2021 Trots Country Cups Championship. Hillier drove the son of Art Major in last Saturday night’s TAB Pure Steel - where he was an eye-catching fourth behind Max Delight - and has trusted Kelly to steer the ship for what is hoped to be a lucrative Victorian campaign. “I’ve had a good association with the Hilliers, getting horses off them over the years when they’ve got to metro level,” Kelly said. “Ryley Major has had soundness issues all of his life and I think Rohan, over the years, has looked after him and that’s why he’s done such a super job. “He’s brought him over (to Victoria) a couple of times, but now we’ve got all the country cups. Instead of chasing off 30m over there, he might as well race in a few country cups over here and see if he can earn some nice money for them.” Ryley Major’s career record is really quite something. He’s won 31 of 51 career starts – including once at Melton – for more than $300,000 in prizemoney. And he’s no stranger to group-race success, having won a number of features along the way including the $75,000 Tasmania Cup back in March last year. “He hit the line super (last Saturday night) so hopefully Rohan’s training can stay in him and I’ve just got to keep him ticking over,” Kelly said. “All the hard work is done. I’ve just got to keep the horse happy. “His attribute is that he tries his guts out. “He can definitely win the race. If he goes like he went the other night or how he can go – he’ll be fighting the finish out for sure.” Ryley Major is certainly one of the fancied runners in a small, but quality Ararat Pacing Cup field that includes the talented Im Anothermasterpiece (Jess Tubbs) and impressive last-start winners Modern Bliss (Ash Warton) and Majestic Cruiser (Geoff Webster). Meanwhile, Andy Gath’s emerging squaregaiter Havehorsewilltravel is set to start a warm favourite in the Group 3 $20,000 Niota Bloodstock Ararat Trotters Cup. The former Kiwi is a half-brother to top stablemate McLovin and has won all five of his Australian starts. Ryan Duffy will drive one of the race’s other key contenders in Scruffy Doolan, and he spoke with Trots Life during the week about his chances. “He raced Havehorsewilltravel in the Cobram Cup and wasn’t too far away from him, but obviously Havehorsewilltravel has gone on its winning ways and keeps getting the job done week in, week out,” he said. “I think the horse in that race that will be probably one of the other key dangers will be Well Defined. I think it ran Havehorsewilltravel to a couple of metres in the Cobram Trotters Cup. “They’re both off the front line and being over the 2500m around a tight circuit, I’d be very surprised that if Well Defined finds the front, it would be handing up.” The first race on Friday night kicks off at 6.18pm, with the last to go at 10.20pm.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Zac Phillips’ drive on Magicool in the What The Hill Great Southern Star Final was nearly the stuff of legends, and although the young reinsman has to deal with the disappointment of getting so close to a massive Group 1 success, he seems content being beaten by a champion of the sport. Phillips provided the first shock of Friday night’s race when he crossed two noted speed runners to lead, a place he stayed until the last 50m when grabbed on the line by Andy Gath-trained star Tornado Valley. It was a brave performance from both driver and horse, who had been backed heavily at long odds for the final despite a modest third placing in the heats. "It probably wasn't as hard to take because I had every chance to beat him (Tornado Valley) and he was still too good for me,” Phillips said of the half-neck defeat. "Through the turn he (Magicool) was just jogging and I knew I had the favourite outside me in Majestic Man - I knew I had him beat - and there didn't look to be anything coming out wide. "I knew there was only one horse that I had to beat from then on in and it was going to be Tornado Valley. Obviously, there was a lot of talk that they weren't sure he'd back up after his huge run in the heat, so I was pretty confident through the turn. I thought I was travelling as good as any of them. "Even at the top of the straight when he kicked, I was still super confident and just that last 50m he was just out of gas. The early burn took the toll on him and he was found wanting." Great Southern Star: "A fairytale" as Tornado does it again Phillips said it was decided to give Magicool a warm-up before the final after he trotted poorly during the heat and that pressing forward from barrier five was the best way to give the horse a good spot in running. However, Phillips admitted that finding the lead was never expected. "I said (to trainer Rob O’Connell) that I was going to come out as hard as I can for 200m and try find a spot. And that if he happens to gallop, he gallops. But I wanted to go out giving it a red-hot crack,” he said. "That was the plan, but to be honest I never thought I'd cross either of the two inside of me (Majestic Man and Tornado Valley). It was more done hoping that I'd lob one-one, be behind the leader or something like that.” Phillips said it was a tremendous effort from the seven-year-old, who is edging towards $300,000 in stake earnings. "He just gives everything he's got every time he goes out there and I was so proud of him,” he said. "You know what? We didn't win, but it was probably one of the proudest moments I've had.”   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Start a conversation with Matthew Craven about Pink Galahs and you don’t have to do much talking. Just sit back and let him tell you all about a horse that means so much to him and a close network of family and friends. She’s only a tiny four-year-old mare with less than 20 starts under her belt, but already she’s taken the Ecklin South trainer on the ride of a lifetime. Owned by one of Craven’s good mates in Caleb Lewis, his wife Laura and her father Bryan Healy, Pink Galahs went from a nice filly to a megastar last preparation when she won three races at Group 1 level. She picked up the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint, Victoria Trotters Oaks and Victoria Trotters Derby in a whirlwind period through October and early November before being sent for a well-earned spell. While her name is now up in lights as one of Australia’s most promising squaregaiters, Pink Galahs has been an unlikely cover-girl given her modest appearance. "She was this tiny little thing and out of maybe 10 two-year-old trotters we had that year, she would have been the last one you got out of the paddock to work as far as looking at them all,” Craven said. “As much as she was something very insignificant, she was just that one that kept putting her hand up and kept improving all the time.” The horse, who is named after the John Williamson classic ‘Galleries of Pink Galahs’, carries some famous bloodlines. The Healy family bred Maori Miss, a mare who instigated arguably Australia's most famous trotting breeding line, which includes the famed Maori's Idol but also Maori Mia, the great-great granddam of Pink Galahs. Craven’s mare returns to the races in tonight’s What The Hill Great Southern Star series at Tabcorp Park Melton, where she lines up in the second of two heats. The daughter of Skyvalley has drawn awkwardly in barrier eight, but if she can qualify as one of the top three place-getters - or as one of the next few fastest across the line - Craven is confident she’ll handle the quick back-up into the $300,000 final a couple of hours later. Win, lose or draw, the Pink Galahs ride appears to have only just begun. “It’s not just us, it’s a huge team and there has been a lot of help from a lot of people. I think the success that Pink Galahs has brought, so many people appreciated it and have felt a part of it. And to me, it’s a little bit about what it’s all about: to bring all those people on that journey,” Craven said. “I guess it’s like when you win a premiership at a footy club. Yes, you have your team of 22 that get the medals, but when you get back to the club to celebrate, it’s the people behind the scenes that help you put the show on every week – that wash the dishes, that sit on the gate or whatever – that actually get a huge thrill out of the journey and winning. “The success is as much for those people as it is for us.”   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Sparks look set to fly in the early part of Friday night’s What The Hill Great Southern Star second heat where two of the series’ key contenders lock horns. Brilliant New Zealander Majestic Man heads into the race fresh off last weekend’s stunning V L Dullard Trotters Cup success, while Andy Gath’s 2018 Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley is first-up from a decent break. After drawing barrier five, Majestic Man is a $1.35 chance for the heat according to the TAB while Tornado Valley is $5.50 after coming up with gate two. “It’s a terrific draw for him,” Gath said. “He’s won most of his races in front. So, if we can hold Majestic Man I’d say we will be holding him at the start and see what happens. “To be only beaten once when he has led sort of suggests that you’ll probably be holding the lead.” Brad Williamson, who drove Majestic Man to Group 1 glory last weekend and will be in the sulky again this Friday, is tipping a great battle in the heat. “I look at the race and think that we probably have just as hard of a run sitting parked as we do blasting to the top,” Williamson said. “We are pretty keen to go forward. I’ve had a chance to talk to Dad (trainer Phil Williamson) and we are pretty confident the horse has come through his last run very well and it seems as though the run hasn’t affected him at all. “He’s exceptionally fast out of the gate. We’ve known that for a long time, (but) whether we can cross Tornado Valley, I’m not sure. We’ll find out. “There’s certainly going to be some fireworks on, that’s for sure.” Majestic Man is the $1.60 all-in favourite for the final with the TAB, while Tornado Valley is on the sixth line of betting at $15. Gath’s stablemate McLovin is the second favourite overall at $5.50 and has come up with barrier five in the first heat, where he is top elect. “It’s obviously going to be tough with Tough Monarch drawn inside us. He’s a quality horse, but we are happy with a front row draw,” Gath said. “McLovin, every time he seems to draw the front row, he tends to run top three. So (I’m) more than happy with a front row draw. We’ve got a quality horse drawn inside us, but he’s been sitting outside quality horses and being able to beat them. “It’s a draw that gives an opportunity to qualify for the next step.” Click here for the TAB.com.au Heat 1 market Click here for the TAB.com.au Heat 2 market Click here for the TAB.com.au All-In market   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Dynamic New Zealander Majestic Man is a hot favourite to claim two more Group 1 wins on Friday following this morning's What The Hill Great Southern Star barrier draws. The Phil Williamson-trained trotter won last weekend's V L Dullard Trotters Cup at the elite level and the TAB has installed him an odds-on chance in both heat and all-in markets. Majestic Man has drawn barrier five for the second heat and opened a $1.40 chance in that race before the TAB locked him in as a $1.60 favourite to take out the final. Both of Friday's $50,000 Group 1 qualifiers boast stacks of stars, with 10 horses to progress to the $300,000 Group 1 final later in the same evening at Tabcorp Park Melton. The first three placed horses in each heat will automatically qualify for the final, with the remaining spots determined based on the gross time of each unplaced runner. Andy Gath-trained McLovin is the best of the Australian hopes according to the market, with the recent Maori Mile victor $5.50 to win the final and a $2.30 favourite to take out heat one. BARRIER DRAWS             Click here for the TAB.com.au Heat 1 market             Click here for the TAB.com.au Heat 2 market Click here for the TAB.com.au All-In market   HRV - Tim O'Connor

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