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At least for the time being, Shane Smith's ride with Bernie Winkle is over, but he isn't making a fuss about it. Rather, he's just thankful he got to experience a run of success that sits at the top of what he's achieved in harness racing. The part-time trainer-driver, who has stables in Merbein, was in the cart for nine of Bernie Winkle's 10-win streak that captivated the industry from April through to September. Upon the removal of borders that limited participants to region-based racing early this month, Smith lost the drive on Bernie Winkle to the experienced and well-credentialed Daryl Douglas, who has since scored a victory and a third-placing with the seven-year-old. "I was probably lucky to have as long as I did," said Smith, who became the horse's regular reinsman when he joined trainer Geoff Lucas in April. "I always knew it was going to happen as soon as the regional racing finished up. I think most guys in Mildura here that were doing a fair bit of driving realised it was all going to come to an end. "You get the guys from down south coming up each week. Most guys understood they were going to take a back seat again." Smith has always just treated harness racing as a hobby and only ever has a few in work while doing other jobs. He said the golden patch with Bernie Winkle was "by far" his career highlight. "He's the fastest horse that I've ever driven," he said. Tonight, as Richmond and Geelong battle it out in the AFL grand final, Smith will be on track at Mildura with one of his own pacers and to also take the reins behind Julie Douglas' four-year-old mare Elegant Jewel. Thomas Heights hails from the Smith barn and while he hasn't won since July, his trainer has a nice element of confidence that he can figure in the money this evening. "He's been going all right, just needs a bit of luck that's all," Smith, formerly of Broken Hill, said. "I'd say he's a good each-way chance to tell you the truth." Thomas Heights, a gelding by A Rocknroll Dance, came to Smith early this year winless from 12 starts, but won first-up for him in June and then scored again in July. He has drawn barrier four in the Mallee Bearings Pace (1790m) and will likely go around at a nice price. Win, lose or draw, Smith will then butter up with Elegant Jewel, who will come out of gate three in the Tenderprint Australia Pace (1790m). "There's a couple of speedy ones, (but) she's probably a good place chance I reckon," Smith said of Douglas' charge. The first of 11 races at Mildura is set to go at 5.20pm, with the last scheduled for 10.48pm.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Geoff Lucas is preparing to farewell the new "King of Mildura" this evening but is also looking forward to welcoming back a familiar face into his Gol Gol North stables. The hobby trainer has prepared the rejuvenated Bernie Winkle for 10 wins during a 12-start stint in the Mildura region and will look to cap off the stay with success in the Park Douglas Printing Pace (1790m) tonight. Lucas was trusted with Bernie Winkle by owner Eric Anderson back in April and the gelding will now head to Julie Douglas, who trains a team in Strathfieldsaye. While Lucas has fallen in love with the seven-year-old, his heart will be shared tonight with Rocknroll Eyes - a horse he owns and previously trained who'll also contest race six. "I said this would be the first time in my life that I've actually barracked for the horse that I'm not training," Lucas said with a laugh. "But I don't know if I would because I love both those horses, so I really don't know." While Lucas will return home without Bernie Winkle in his float, he will get back Rocknroll Eyes, who has been trained by the Douglas' since May 2019. During that time, he has won eight races and taken his career prizemoney to in excess of $150,000. Bernie Winkle's regular driver, Shane Smith has, been replaced by Daryl Douglas this evening, but will take the reins of Rocknroll Eyes for the second time in his career. "It's probably more made for Bernie, because Rocknroll Eyes is tough and you've got to keep the pressure on and really the only way to beat Bernie is to walk up front," Lucas said. "I've got no doubt the moment he gets an opportunity Shane will go around to the death, but all that really does is probably make it for Bernie. I'm not a punter, but if I was punting I'd back Bernie." While he might be disappointed to lose the drive on Bernie Winkle, Lucas said Smith would become the regular partner of Rocknroll Eyes in the future. Ozzie Battler has been with Lucas for his past three runs and will tonight race in the Tasco Petroleum Pace (2190m) before joining Bernie Winkle back at the Douglas yard. This evening will be the first Mildura meeting since the removal of borders that limited participants to region-based racing, which was one of the measures introduced to combat COVID-19.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Year in, year out the Emma Stewart barn produces top class juvenile performers, but is it possible it's gone to a new level? On a Friday night dedicated to the up-and-coming stars of the track, Stewart took out four of the five Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic heats at Ballarat's Bray Raceway last night. While all four winners were impressive, perhaps the standout effort of the evening came from Ladies In Red in a heat of the series for two-year-old fillies. Driven by Kate Gath, the daughter of Mach Three went straight to the front from barrier one and was never headed on her way to a 17.5m victory in a sizzling mile rate of 1.52.9. The result backed up a big debut win at Shepparton on September 1 and, unsurprisingly, Gath was full of praise for the young star. "I almost fell out of the cart when I came back to scale," Gath said. "She felt good, but I didn't know I ran those times. She just did it not (even) flat out, which is kind of scary. "I knew we were really hiking the last quarter and she certainly upped the tempo half-way around the corner and just dashed up the straight. She was sort of doing it pretty well within herself and she didn't feel like she was flat out on the line, so it was pretty impressive." Chris Alford drove a treble on Friday night and his second success came behind Stewart's Rogue Wave, who also made it two wins from two career starts by taking out another heat for the fillies. A lightning mid-race move took the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to the front and despite some nervous moments in the straight, she was able to fend off the challenge from Tough Tilly in a mile rate of 1.53.9. "She was really good again tonight having her second start," Alford said. "The other one put pressure on around the bend and she really dug deep in the straight." Stewart claimed the third and final heat for the fillies with first-starter Beach Music and also one of the two colts and geldings preludes with Act Now, who scored in bold front-running fashion for Jodi Quinlan. It was the training team of Gary and Debbie Quinlan that produced a boilover in the other event for the boys, with Knights Templar bouncing back from his mistake at the previous start to topple Clayton Tonkin's hot favourite Major Moth, who galloped away at the start. Group 2 $50,000 Home Grown Classic finals will be held at Tabcorp Park Melton on October 10, sharing the bill with the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

The Whole Package is the only horse currently racing out of Peter Robertson’s Plumpton stables and he returned from a nasty virus in grand style first-up at Tabcorp Park on Friday. The five-year-old hadn’t been seen at the races since a third placing at Melton in mid-July, but was back to his best after recovering from the illness. Given a patient drive by Luke Tabone from barrier one, The Whole Package had a look for the lead early, but took cover after Son Of Major speared across from gate four. Tabone awaited the sprint lane run in the home straight and finished best to take out the Prydes Easifeed Pace (1720m). The success was the son of Sealed N Delivered’s fourth in a 25-run career, three of which have come since late last year. “He’s always had ability, but he’s one of those horses that if you can find trouble anywhere around the stable he’ll find it,” Robertson told SEN Track. “When he won (on July 1 at Melton), I didn’t think he got to the line as good as he should have and his next run after that he ran third. The next day he just coughed and coughed and coughed for about three or four days. “He had a real bad virus and that’s the reason he hasn’t been racing.” Among his other issues, The Whole Package chipped a sesamoid bone as a three-year-old and recently took plenty of skin off his body when getting his head stuck in a fence. Robertson said he felt good about the horse’s chances on Friday despite being the second outsider in the field of seven at $16. “I was fairly confident. He’d been treated and got through that good and been working probably better than what he had been,” Robertson said. “I said to Luke he could probably lead but if something is going to attack, let it go because he is first-up and just see what happens from there.” Tabone said he had planned to hold the front, but decided to take a sit when Ken Tippet shot for the front on Son Of Major. “It was really good to hop back on this bloke. He got pretty crook on the guys and they’ve done a good job to get him back and to win first-up was great,” he said. Success was shared around between trainers and drivers on Friday, but it was reinsman John Caldow that claimed the only winning double. Caldow partnered short-priced favourite Andover Sun - who is trained by wife Maree - to win the Niota Bloodstock 3YO Trot (2240m) and then Freddy Taiba-trained Kasbah Kid to take out the fast class event, the Hygain Pace (1720m).   HRV - Tim O'Connor

All things being equal, Luke Watson doesn't think his in-form charge Caulonia Terror can spoil Bernie Winkle's party this evening. But that won't stop the Merbein South horseman giving it a crack. Bernie Winkle is out to join elite company when he chases a 10th successive victory in the Tasco Petroleum Pace (2190m), with just over 70 horses having reached that mark since 2000. Watson's four-year-old gelding has only been beaten narrowly in his last two battles with the new 'King of Mildura' and that has pleased his trainer-driver. "Bernie would need to find an obstacle or something like that in the run for me to sort of beat him," Watson said. "If it's even stevens and we both had the same luck in the run then Bernie is probably going to beat me all the time, but I've been around long enough to know while you're running places you can win races. "I'm really happy with his form obviously this time in. He's finally matured into a racehorse where he was a ratbag and a lunatic. He used to gallop and carry on and he's finally got the idea of racing. "He's been competitive in that grade so I'm thrilled to bits with him." Watson trained Caulonia Terror's mother Caulonia Babe as well as her mother Bold As Brass and, while they won 11 and 10 races respectively, were also slow to mature on the racetrack. "I guess he's just following the family trait along as he goes," Watson said. "He used to do so many things wrong. He'd blow away 80-100m at the start and circle the field and run third or fourth. He was his own worst enemy. "He doesn't feel like he's going to do anything wrong, so touch wood this time in he hasn't put a foot wrong and finally the ability is starting to come through. "In the old system I think he is only a C3 horse. That's a big job for a C3 horse to be racing Bernie Winkle, Murranji Track and Egodan - it would have never been heard of back in that day." Caulonia Terror, who was bred and is owned by Watson's long-time clients Peter and Avis Argiro, has won six of 37 career starts and has drawn barrier three for tonight's assignment, which he tackles following two weeks away from the races. Bernie Winkle and driver Shane Smith will have to overcome barrier eight to reach the magical 10-win milestone, but it's hard to see the horse being beaten without bad luck. He meets four rivals that he defeated here last week including runner-up Egodan, third-placed Heza Reddy, fourth-placed Velox Equus and Our Missionary Man, who finished last in the field of six.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Hobby trainer Geoff Lucas has already enjoyed one hell of a ride with rejuvenated pacer Bernie Winkle and he's hoping the new Mildura marvel can join a select group of horses in coming weeks. Since 2000, only 71 standardbreds have produced winning streaks of 10 races or more and the seven-year-old can move to within one of that mark with victory tonight. Brilliant grey Lombo Pocket Watch tops the list for his staggering 19-straight wins through 2005 and 2006 and sits clear of Lombo La Fe Fe and Our Waikiki Beach, who both won 17 on end.  And who could forget squaregaiter Acacia Ridge and Lively Medley for their 15 consecutive victories? Bernie Winkle is the only horse trained in Lucas' name and has not been beaten since arriving from the Glenn Douglas yard in April. He scored six wins in his first preparation at the Gol Gol North stables and has returned from a little break in grand style with back-to-back triumphs over the last two Friday nights to take his unbeaten run to eight races. "I'd love him to get to 10. It's a special number," Lucas said. "Even up here, people look over the fence to watch Bernie to see whether he can win again and that's a nice feeling. People take an interest in the fast class and a horse stringing them together. "It would be lovely if he can get 10, but if he doesn't we'll be satisfied with the eight we've got." While Lucas is yet to put a foot wrong with the son of Rock N Roll Heaven, he's quick to deflect any praise that might come his way. "I've always had this belief and this horse proves this beyond doubt. Horses make trainers, because I'm just a bloke that does it for a hobby and only ever has one or two. "There are a lot of people in this industry that know a lot more than I do, but if you get a horse like him he makes you look good. "It's been great fun and we just sit there and shake our head and think we are just lucky." Regular driver Shane Smith had many holding their breath with a patient steer on Bernie Winkle last start, but the gelding unleashed a blistering sprint down the home straight to win his 30th career race and take earnings over the $300,000 mark. Smith is back in the sulky again this evening and Lucas says the horse is now 100 per cent fit for the Tasco Petroleum Pace (1790m). A small field of seven has been assembled, with regular sparring partners Egodan and Murranji Track among those most likely to spoil Bernie's party. Tune in from 8.30pm to see if the new "King of Mildura" can move a step closer to the magical mark of 10-straight wins.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

A mouth-watering battle between a trio of star Long Forest-trained squaregaiters looks likely somewhere down the track and that presents a real conundrum for Kate Gath. The top reinswoman partnered Majestuoso to a brilliant first-up victory at Ballarat on Saturday night and now attention has turned to when the emerging four-year-old will take on his more high-profile stablemates. Inter Dominion winner Tornado Valley and Group 1 victor McLovin also hail from the Andy Gath yard and a showdown between all three is expected in the coming weeks or months. "If we can't avoid it they probably have to," Kate Gath said in a post-race interview for Trots Vision. "Majestuoso probably feels better than them at home and the other two are a little bit more tradesman-like and don't over-exert themselves at home. "I've got no doubt (Majestuoso) is definitely not far off them and his racing pattern and his speed, he'll love those bigger races if there is speed on. He'll love whooshing home at the finish and being not too far away." If they are forced to clash, who would Gath drive? Reading deep into her comments, it's hard not to think she'd lean the way of the up-and-coming Majestuoso. "It probably gets down to draws really, who knows?" she said. "This guy does have a little bit of x-factor and I can't help but look forward to what the future holds. "And I'm not looking forward to having to make the choice on which one I drive. Tornado did win me an Inter Dominion so it's pretty hard to jump off that, but he's exciting." RELIVE KATE GATH'S BIG SATURDAY NIGHT: The 2019 Victoria Trotters Derby winner hadn't been seen at the races since March, but finished strongest in an action-packed Active Electrical Trot (2200m), which saw odds-on favourite Imsettogo pulled out of the race early by driver Darby McGuigan. Starting at the bell, Gath made a sustained run on Majestuoso, who cruised up to sit fourth behind Sammy Showdown and then ran past his rival in the last 100m to score by just over a metre. The triumph was the first leg of a winning treble for the Gath team, which also produced victories with new stable acquisition Pacifico Dream and then Diamonds N Cash in the last race of the evening. Pacifico Dream was having just his second start for Gath after transferring over from Emma Stewart's Cardigan team where he won the Group 3 2020 Victoria Sires Classic. Outside of the racing, a highlight of the night was the appearance of Clayton Tonkin-trained star Ride High, who stepped out for an exhibition run between races four and five. With Stewart in the sulky, he was led by a galloping pacemaker before rocketing home in an extraordinary last half. The talented five-year-old ran an unofficial 26-second third quarter and 26.7-second fourth quarter, smashing his own track record last 800 metres (53.4 seconds) with a 52.7 half. The cracking finish was part of a 1:52.2 last mile, the second fastest recorded at the track behind only The Storm Inside's record 1:51.5 set in the 2019 Lightning Sprint. TAKE A SPIN BEHIND RIDE HIGH AS HE RUNS A 26-SECOND QUARTER:   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Rishi had watched his stablemates Love Ina Chevy and Jean Luc run to victory in the past two fast class features at Tabcorp Park Melton and decided it was about time he stepped up to the mark. And with multiple Group 1-winning reinsman Zac Phillips in the sulky, the six-year-old gelding broke a run of 36 starts without a win by taking out the TAB Long May We Play Pace (1720m) on Friday. It wasn't the most convincing success of all time, but it was a deserved one for the Lance Justice-trained gelding, who did some work early before finding the lead and then held off his challengers in the home straight to score by a half-head over Rock N Roll Chapel and odds-on favourite Dont Hold Back. Rishi had been part of Justice-trained trifectas in Melton feature races during the previous fortnight, but his mates weren't able to hold up their end of the deal this time around. Love Ina Chevy was fourth, while Jean Luc finished sixth. Phillips said he had to take his hat off to Justice and owner John Hawke, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. "He's been racing really well, but not having much luck," Phillips told Trots Vision post-race. "He was obviously an expensive purchase from New Zealand and Lance has sort of always been of the opinion he's as good as most, if not better. But it's just a matter of getting his mind right and they're getting him there." Rishi, who is by Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare Reklaw, won the listed 2018 Tontine Pacing Championship not long after arriving in Australia and Friday's success was his 10th since being in Justice's care. In total, Rishi has won 13 of 76 career starts for more than $170,000 in prizemoney. Justice's brother John trained and drove a double on Friday with Long Weekend and Bao Nien, John Caldow scored two winners in the bike with Vernnay for Michael Hughes and Chief Runningcloud for wife Maree before she completed her training double with Our Sportscaster in the last event on the card. Racing returns to Victorian harness racing headquarters on Friday for another day meeting.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Trainer-driver David Moran took Lochinvar Art behind enemy lines in Ballarat on Saturday night, but it proved a hostile experience for the four-year-old with local Major Times overpowering the Victorian record holder. Next weekend's planned showdown with superstar Ride High is now on hold after Moran's entire endured a tough run and was eventually beaten into third place in the Flying Horse Takeaway Pace. Moran told Adam Hamilton that Lochinvar Art had pulled up mildly lame in his off front leg and with an elevated heart rate following the 6.7-metre defeat. "I'll get him fully vetted tomorrow and we'll go from there," he said. It was a "teammate" of Ride High's Cardigan stables that landed the knockout blow. Emma Stewart-trained Major Times scored a long-odds triumph after pressing forward to sit outside Lochinvar Art at the bell and then out-toughing him in the run to the line. Driver Jodi Quinlan got to work early on Major Times, but he responded to head Moran's charge early in the home straight and then fended off a late challenge from My Kiwi Mate to score by three metres. The early burn might have been telling for Lochinvar Art, who was bustled forward early by Moran from barrier 12 and took until the end of the back straight the first time to eventually find the front. The lead time was a sharp 41.0 and he had nothing left in the tank after quarters of 29.3, 30.5 and 28.7 as the field zipped home in 27.7. "He did a power of work early. Didn't think we'd have to do that much. A 41 lead time is like a 26 quarter," Moran said. Major Times, who is raced in part by Ride High's owner Peter Gleeson, has now won three on the trot and taken his career record to 18 victories from 41 runs. Dubbed the smiling assassin in the post-race interview, Quinlan couldn't have been more proud of her horse. "This horse is a very good horse and (Stewart's partner) Clayton (Tonkin) has always said that. He told me basically to drive him fairly confident tonight and thought he was fairly forward," she said. "He was winning those races in (regional racing) at Melton and I think people just sort of thought he was probably beating second-raters, but he ran some phenomenal times when he did do that and he proved tonight that he's up there with the good ones, don't worry about that."   HRV - Tim O'Connor

There's been plenty of winning and potentially more to come but it's been an emotional few days for John Justice, who lost a special young pacer to a heart-breaking bacteria. Justice, who takes a team of four to Tabcorp Park today, forecast the health battles of Time Served last Friday and, despite receiving treatment in Werribee, the unraced colt lost his battle on Sunday. "He was a really promising young horse and it still brings a tear to my eye talking about him now. We were devastated on Sunday - it was a hard day to get through," Justice said. "They are like family in the end when you have them for so long. He just kicked out and got a little cut on his back leg and it was the end of his life. "It was a bacteria and it went through his system and we couldn't save him. He was in at Werribee on Friday morning and on Sunday morning they rang me and said he passed away." In an interview on TrotsVision last week at Tabcorp Park Melton, the Toolern Vale trainer-driver spoke about the irony of stablemate Justice Served putting in a courageous winning performance as his little brother fought for his life. And now he's hoping that horse can make it three wins on end in today's Allied Express Pace (1720m) at the same track. Justice Served, who is out of the same mare (Keepers Daughter) as the late Time Served, is likely to start favourite in the rating 68-79 event after back-to-back front-running triumphs in fast time. Justice has four runners engaged on Friday's card and there's plenty of hype around one of those in particular. Hatchback returned from a spell in dominant style at Melton last Friday and goes in search of career victory number seven in the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m). Justice said he gave the son of Angus Hall a break following his win at Melton in May with an eye towards some features races later in the year. "I just decided that it was a good time because otherwise he'd just keep racing and really there's no plan. We like to have a bit of a plan with him and that was put him out, bring him back, give him a few runs now and then maybe give him another little short break and have him ready for the good races if they eventually do go ahead," he said. "I wouldn't say he'd be the best one, but he's right up there and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he improved a bit more and he was dominant for a while. "I just think maybe as he gets a bit older that might happen, when he gets into the older feature races."   HRV - Tim O'Connor

A night at Melton doesn't get much better for young up-and-coming drivers than the one Kyal Costello experienced on Friday. The 19-year-old ticked off three significant career milestones from his book of six drives at Victorian harness racing headquarters. Costello scored victory with Mario Azzopardi's Radical Major in the Woodlands Stud Pace (1720m) and then captured his first-ever double at a single meeting when taking out the Breckon Farms Maiden Pace (1720m) with odds-on favourite Charisma King for trainer Peter Peacock. Costello then picked up his maiden metropolitan winner aboard Delightful Jazz for his new master Freddy Taiba in the $20,000 TAB Long May We Play Pace (2240m). That success also completed a breakthrough treble in the gig. Costello, who now lives and works at Taiba's Sunbury property, went awfully close to making it four with stablemate Zoliver, who just fell short in the Nevele R Stud Pace (1720m). "It was really good," Costello said of Friday night's results. "It was a shame I couldn't get the last over the line for the fourth, but what can you do?" Costello, whose father Brad is a hobby trainer, has been working for Taiba for the past fortnight and says he is keen to try and make a career in the sport. "If I can keep progressing the way that I've been going, I think I might be able to make a living out of it. That's the goal," he said. Costello's big night at the office didn't land him outright driving honours, however. He was forced to share that honour with John Justice, who scored victories with his horses Pippo Nien, Justice Served and Hatchback. Much was made about the return of Hatchback to the races and he didn't disappoint. After stepping cleanly from the standing start, the four-year-old Group 1 placegetter made a one act affair of the Alderbaran Park Trotters Handicap (2240m) with a dominant front-running success. His 14-metre triumph was the sixth of his career. The win of Justice Served, who narrowly held off Zoliver, was also a special one for the stable. "I reckon he did that run tonight for his little brother... he's in Werribee Hospital fighting for his life," Justice said on Friday. "It was ironic Justice Served went so good tonight for his brother." Justice's treble also secured him training honours on the eight-event card. Racing will return to Melton next Friday night.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

There’s a real swagger in the step of Sunbury trainer Freddy Taiba regarding the chances of his striking stallion Zoliver returning a winner this evening. The four-year-old horse has not been seen at the races since a fourth placing at Tabcorp Park Melton in early May, but his master is confident of a first-up success in the Nevele R Stud Pace (1720m). "He’s first up but the short trip will suit him and he’s got a good barrier. We’ve got a young up-and-coming driver on him (Kyal Costello) so he’s learning as well, but I’m quite bullish about his chances actually," Taiba said. "He’s been working pretty well at home against pretty good class horses and running time. He’ll be pretty spot on. Naturally he’ll improve, but I’m expecting a real forward race from him." Taiba said there hadn't been any issues with Zoliver during his time on the sidelines and expected him to roll to the front from his barrier two draw. "You've got to take advantage of the barrier so that would be most likely," he said. The horse is named after the children of Taiba's brother Hass, with Zoe and Oliver combined to make Zoliver. And while he has already won five races - most recently the listed J & A Mazzetti Eastern Challenge at Kilmore - Taiba is expecting plenty more from the bay son of Mach Three. "He's a smart animal and he's just taking a little bit of time, but he's definitely right up there with some of the better ones I've had," he said. "He's only a lightly raced four-year-old stallion so he's got a big future ahead. The penny is starting to drop with him now, he's just starting to learn what it's all about. "He was competitive against the likes of Lochinvar Art, Demon Delight, Malcolms Rhythm and all that, so he will definitely come back better and stronger this prep." While Taiba says Zoliver is the best chance of his five runners on Friday night's Melton card, he also likes stablemate Our Road To Mecca in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (2240m). "I'm extremely confident she'll bounce back this week," he said.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Cash Lover's perfect preparation stretched to a fifth successive victory on Saturday night as she again stamped herself as one of the state's most promising trotters. Myrniong trainer Jess Tubbs has the daughter of Ready Cash airborne this time in and a dominant front-running success at Shepparton took her record to six wins from 12 career starts. Tubbs' husband Greg Sugars was at the controls and took the mare straight to the front where she was able to dictate terms over key rival C K Spur, who was forced to race on her outside for the 2190m trip. Cash Lover slipped clear of the field rounding the home turn and cruised in for an easy four-and-a-half metre triumph. "This prep she has sort of taken all before her and just got better with every run," Sugars said. "We tried to look after her for her first few runs as she was slowly stepping up in grade and (Saturday night) we had our main danger drawn to our outside, so we thought we better be a bit more positive and see if we could control things out in front. "We got good sectionals out in front, but she did it quite comfortably so I'm very pleased." Watch the video here. Sugars said there were no imminent major plans with the horse given the current regional racing structure, but hoped the Vicbred Super Series would be able to get up and going late in 2020. "We will just keep picking out races like this that are suitable and work our way through the grade," he said. "She is Vicbred, so if it eventuates that we can get that series up off the ground again, that's obviously where she will be aimed at later in the year." Bred by Yabby Dam Farms, Cash Lover is owned by Wayne Stewart, who bought the horse as a broodmare prospect and only decided to race her after she showed some ability in early training. The daughter of Lucky Love won one race during her first preparation and after galloping at her final start before a break in February, has gone on to score impressive wins in all five races this campaign. She has won at Melton, Ballarat (twice), Bendigo and now Shepparton to take her career prizemoney to over $30,000. It proved a good night at the office for Sugars, who backed up a race later with a superb winning drive aboard Kerryn Manning-trained Rupert Of Lincoln, who soared home from three-back the pegs to claim the Barastock Pace. Winning doubles also went the way of trainers Manning and David Miles and drivers Chris Alford and Jayden Barker. The brilliant return of David Moran's superstar Lochinvar Art stole the show on Saturday night, while Wobelee led and got the better of McLovin, and the long-odds win of Denis McIntyre-trained and Michael Bellman-driven Dot The Eye shocked many punters when he returned in excess of $90 in the last race of the evening.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Persistence will eventually pay off for young reinsman Jordan Leedham, who goes in search of a long-awaited maiden winner in the sulky this evening. The 17-year-old former Tasmanian has been living and working with Shelbourne trainer Kate Hargreaves for the last 10 months or so and has been getting regular opportunities on the racetrack to learn his craft. So far, his 20 drives are yet to yield a victory, but two second placings have whet the appetite for a breakthrough victory. Most recently, Leedham was aboard Hancocks Hero when he was run down by Hard Rock Shannon in a race at Bendigo last week. "My heart jumped when I saw the one coming up on the inside and just beat me, but you can't do much about it I guess. That's part of racing," Leedham said. He doesn't have any family history in harness racing, but has left school in a bid to make the sport his livelihood. "I want to give this a crack," he said. "It's really exciting and your adrenaline gets pumping through you when you're out there. It's good just to have some fun and try and make a living out of it." Tonight, Leedham is back in the gig and will be behind Hargreaves-trained Streitkid, who lines up in the Ballarat Laundry Commercial Pace at Bray Raceway. Leedham has partnered the horse once before - for a down-the-track finish at Bendigo in early June - and thinks he's some sort of hope in the NR 61 to 75 clash. "He's not without a chance. He's been going pretty good without some luck. Hopefully he's thereabouts," he said. "It will be good when (my first winner) happens, but I guess I've just got to keep at it until it does." Streitkid won't be able to use his customary gate speed this evening after drawing barrier eight, but Hargreaves is still hopeful of a forward showing. "He has been going really well without much luck. I expect him to run another great race and with some luck is a winning chance," she said. Streitkid will chase his first win since mid-May and 13th overall when he races at 7.30pm.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

A 54-metre thrashing of his rivals in a faultless trotting display as a two-year-old looked to be the start of a promising career for young squaregaiter Ollie Jack. But that success in early 2019 seems like an eternity ago for Berringa trainer Beau Tindale, who has been desperately searching for the key to unlock the horse's potential once again. Since that debut success, the son of Peak has raced 10 times for nothing better than a couple of third placings in Ballarat. Tindale, who trains in partnership with his wife AJ, said Ollie Jack was spelled after his second run due to serious hematomas in his legs and was not seen again at the racetrack until February this year. "We couldn't push on after that and so we put him in the paddock and waited for them to heal up and come good," he said. "He's been a little disappointing since. He's a hard horse because I still believe he's got it. Last start (at Melton) it was a better run for him, but there's still something holding him back. "Sectionals and times he can run at home, a couple of times there I thought he was pretty well right and he will let me down at the races." Despite some heavy defeats in his past three outings - by a cumulative total of more than 200m - Tindale is optimistic of his horse's chances in tonight's Terang Co-Op Trotters Handicap. "I changed a bit of work around with him from his last run and he hasn't raced for a few weeks. I'm pretty confident he will go a lot better this week to be honest," he said. "I've worked him completely different to how I normally work him, his fitness has improved dramatically and one thing I wasn't able to do before with him was give him the work I thought he needed because he would go off his feed. "I slowly increased it up to him and gradually got him to where I wanted to be working him and his work last week and going into this race has been really good. I'm just hoping he can run a better race for us." Ollie Jack is named after the son of owner-breeder Adrian Chattenton, who is Beau's brother-in-law. The Tindales have two other runners on tonight's card with Spacewriter engaged in the South West Conveyancing 3YO Pace and Rosarito Miss in the Betta Home Living Horsham Pace. "I'm pretty confident in all three horses that they are fit and ready to run a big race (tonight). We just need a bit of luck in racing," Tindale said.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Champion reinsman Chris Alford believes driving Wobelee to utilise his burst of high-end speed will be important as he looks to match it with the sport's top squaregaiters on a regular basis. The son of Down Under Muscles won numerous races at Group 1 level as a youngster, but hasn't been able to achieve the feat since joining open company. He's got plenty of time to reach those heights and shapes, at least according to some, as the horse ready to take the mantle of Australia's next top trotter. "It's hard to say really. I know he's got the ability to do it ... he's probably more of a speed horse though than he is a strong horse, which sometimes can play against you in some races," Alford said. "His speed takes him a long way and if I drive him for his speed I'll be more than happy." Alford pointed to a recent trial at Kilmore to exemplify Wobelee's raw speed, with the horse zipping home in a 55-second last half. "They only went slow early because it was a trial, but not many trotters would run a half in 55 at Kilmore and that's his main thing," he said. "He's only had like 30 starts so he's still got a bit of toughening up to do, but I think he's come a fair way since he started racing these really good ones. He's not going to beat them out of turn like he did when he was a baby, but I'm sure when he gets the right runs he can beat them." MORE: CAN RIDE HIGH BREAK BRAY RACEWAY RECORDS? Wobelee, who had a long lay-off through injury during the back half of 2018 and early part of 2019, produced one of his career-best runs when a narrow second to Tornado Valley in The Knight Pistol early this year. That performance pushed Kate Gath, who drove the winner, to say he could follow in the footsteps of her Inter Dominion champ. The Alison Alford-trained gelding is only two runs back from a spell and will come up against guns McLovin and Savannah Jay Jay for the second-straight start this evening at Ballarat. He ran third to that pair at Melton earlier this month, where he tired in the latter stages to be beaten just over five metres. "He went well first-up and then just ran out of puff second up," Chris Alford said. "He'll be a bit more fitter now and it's only a small field. It's a tricky race because there's a fair bit of speed off the front and we know how strong McLovin is." While Wobelee, McLovin and Savannah Jay Jay look three of the key chances, it's hard to discount Sundons Courage, Nephew Of Sonoko and My Skypocket, which weren't beaten far in that same race at Melton on July 4. Anton Golino's Imsettogo would have been a major player, but has been scratched from the event. Ballarat's eight-race card will kick off from 4.58pm, with the last set to go at 8.32pm.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

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