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Harness Racing Australia (HRA) announced today that the current Australian Driving Champion, Todd McCarthy, had been selected to be Australia’s representative in the prestigious 2019 World Driving Championships in Sweden. “Australia is fortunate to have so many skilled and talented drivers at present, with selection not made any easier with the criteria based on a balance of merit, performance, presentation, attitude, adaptability to conditions and promotional opportunities,” HRA Chairman Mr Michael Taranto said. “The HRA Executive considered a number of drivers for selection and all would have been fine representatives of our country.  That said, we can only send one representative and I have no doubt Todd will perform well in the demanding series and be a wonderful ambassador for Australian harness racing, ” he said. The World Driving Championship was established in 1970 and is held every two years, in conjunction with the World Trotting Conference. The last series was conducted in Canada in 2017 and was won by the local host hero, James McDonald. James McDonald will return to defend his title alongside McCarthy and 10 other drivers (12 in total) from Sweden, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway and United States of America. The 2019 Championship runs from 24 May to 31 May and consists of 24 Heats across 6 race meetings at 5 different racetracks.  The Series begins at Solvalla, Stockholm, at meetings on 24 (4 Heats) and 25 May (1 Heat) before moving to Lindesberg on 27 May (5 Heats) and Eskilstuna on 28 May (5 Heats).  The fourth leg is 29 May at Rättvik (4 Heats) before the 31 May finale at Gävle (5 Heats). Todd McCarthy will be attempting to emulate the feats of two Australian drivers who have won the World Driving Championship – Queenslander Keith Addison in 1975 and Ted Demmler of Victoria in 1987. Harness Racing Australia

There was one question on everybody's lips after Tiger Tara destroyed his rivals in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton. And it is the question we will never be able to answer. Is this version, the enormously-improved version of Tiger Tara, as good as his now-retired nemesis Lazarus? Maybe they shouldn't be the questions people ask after Tiger Tara had completed a Melton triple crown on Saturday night, having already won the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion there this season. Add to that his bravest of nose seconds to Thefixer in the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November and you have one of the great seasons in modern pacing history. Maybe Tiger and his army of fans should be able to bath in that glory and the promise of a Miracle Mile now a month away. But that is not the way the human brain, particularly the racing brain, usually works. Because Tiger Tara has been so dominant over most of Australasia's best pacers this season that you have to wonder is he just clearly better than he was in the last two seasons when Kiwi champ Lazarus would routinely thrash him. Yes, Tiger Tara scored victories over Lazarus in lead-up races to more serious targets, but the stats are stacked unarguably in Lazarus's favour before he was sold to the States last year and subsequently retired one of the fastest milers ever. A brief stat check: Lazarus beat Tiger Tara in one New Zealand Cup by 10 lengths, by five in another. And last season when Tiger Tara led in both the Inter Dominion and the Hunter Cup, Lazarus sat parked, covering up to 20m more and destroyed him. So there can be no argument that Lazarus was a better horse than Tiger Tara. But if Laz had stuck around and Tiger Tara has improved as much as his times suggest, would their rivalry still be as one-sided? Driver Todd McCarthy, still buzzing from his record spin around Melton, stopped short of saying the tables would be turned in the race we will never see. "I have no doubts Tiger has improved, he has just kept getting better," says McCarthy. "And Kevin [Pizzuto] has learned about the horse too and maybe trains him differently for the lead-up races now than he used to. "So he is definitely better. But beating Lazarus regularly, I am not sure about that. "But I wish Laz was still racing down here because it would be special to watch them go at it now." With times all but irrelevant as a class guide in harness racing these days, it is hard to fathom that Tiger Tara has improved enough to be considered in the same class at Lazarus had the latter held his form this season. And there is a reality racing promoters never like to admit even though they whisper about it in secret: that this open class crop isn't that good. Shorn of an injured Chicago Bull and with New Zealand's best pacer Turn It Up, who isn't ready for the Grand Circuit yet, maybe Tiger Tara is beating up good but not great open class rivals. The possible exception to that is Thefixer, who was poor by his standards after a hard trip on Saturday night. But he did still beat Tiger Tara in the New Zealand Cup, albeit with a far easier trip. So it might be unfair to pit 2019 Tiger Tara against 2017 and 2018 Lazarus. But the gut, the eye and their overall strike rates suggest that as special as Tiger Tara is now, his deeds also serve to remind us how truly great Lazarus was.   Michael Guerin Reprinted with permission of New Zealand Herald

They ran and they ran and they ran, and Tiger Tara was simply better than them. Tonight’s A.G. Hunter Cup in a nutshell, as the Kevin Pizzuto-trained wonder horse from New South Wales added Victoria’s most prestigious Grand Circuit trophy to his cabinet at Tabcorp Park Melton. The eight-year-old stallion already boasts the silverware from last year’s Victoria Cup and December’s Inter Dominion Grand Final. And he didn’t just win those races either, he blitzed his opposition. All up, his accumulated winning margin for the three classics is 41.1m. “He’s an amazing animal and he deserves everything this horse,” Pizzuto said. “They said the horse wasn’t at his best tonight … but I told them he was. And he was.” Tiger Tara started $1.90 favourite and won by a whopping 14.5 metres in a new track record mile rate of 1:53.2, smashing his own previous mark by 0.7sec “He’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of,” winning reinsman 25-year-old Todd McCarthy said. “All credit to the horse and Kevin, who does such a great job with this horse.” Photos: Ashlea Brennan Photography Our Uncle Sam finished second, making it the same quinella as the ID18 final, while San Carlo ran on hard for third ahead of warhorse veteran Flaming Flutter and the fast-finishing Buster Brady. Watch the video here.   Cody Winnell for Trots Media   7 9:32pm DEL-RE NATIONAL A G HUNTER CUP (GROUP 1) 2760M $500,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TIGER TARA NZ      Fr3 3 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy   $ 1.90 fav  PRS GS L 1 NTR SWAB ST HT   BAY HORSE 8 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of TARA GOLD (NZ) (DREAM AWAY USA)  Owner(s): M Hawli, C L Pizzuto, K J Pizzuto, T N Pizzuto  Breeder(s): R P (Raymond) Anicich 2 OUR UNCLE SAM      Fr1 1 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 14.5m $ 6.80   PRS GS 3 SWAB ST HT 3 SAN CARLO      Fr6 6 Stephen O'Donoghue Rebecca Bartley 27.2m $ 39.40   PRS 3WE 8 3WLT SWAB ST HT 4 FLAMING FLUTTER NZ      Fr2 2 Geoff Webster Greg Sugars 28.0m $ 109.00   PRS 7 HI CTS RR VXAR 5 BUSTER BRADY NZ      Fr4 4 Kima Frenning Kima Frenning 28.1m $ 40.20   PRS GS 3WE D/CSG 6 QUER 6 WRAPPERS DELIGHT      Sr1 8 David Aiken Gavin Lang 30.3m $ 34.60   PRS 5 7 THEFIXER NZ      Sr4 11 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 33.3m $ 3.90   PRS 3WET 3WM 2 SCT QUER VXAR SCOPE 8 CRUZ BROMAC NZ      Sr2 9 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon 62.0m $ 10.50   PRS 3WET INC 4 TIRE VXAR SCOPE QPP 9 STAR GALLERIA NZ      Sr3 10 Steven Reid Tony Herlihy 72.4m $ 16.60   PRS W1 3WLT TIRE QPP VXAR SCOPE 10 RAUKAPUKA RULER NZ      Fr5 5 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 82.2m $ 121.00   PRS 10 Scratchings   CANT REFUSE NZ (LATE) 7 Track Rating: Gross Time: 3:14:2 Mile Rate: 1:53:2 Lead Time: 81.2 First Quarter: 28.9 Second Quarter: 28.9 Third Quarter: 27.2 Fourth Quarter: 28 Margins: 14.5m x 12.7m  

TIGER ROARS TO VICTORY IN TRACK RECORD TIME Sydneysider Tiger Tara was a brilliant victor of the $500,000 (Group 1) 2018 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship Grand Final over 2760 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, winning by a 14.4 metre margin in advance of roughie Our Uncle Sam, Cruz  Bromac and Spankem in a mile rate of 1-53.9 which took .2 seconds off Lazarus’ 1-54.9 established last year. Trained to perfection by Kevin Pizzuto at Rossmore, Tiger Tara with regular reinsman Todd McCarthy aboard, began with a wing on every foot from outside the front line to cross outsider Mach Doro (gate four) which had speared past polemarker Galactic Star as the starter released the field. Galactic Star was to gallop on the first turn causing inconvenience to Im Pats Delight (gate three} which allowed Mattie Craven (gate two) to angle to the back of Mach Doro and San Carlo to shift off the inside to park in the open giving Im Pats Delight one/one cover. The highly fancied “All Stars” stablemates Spankem (gate five) and Cruz Bromac (gate two on the second line) settled three and four back in the moving line, with Cruz Bromac momentarily moving three wide before easing back to trail Spankem. Once the speed slackened, Gavin Lang sent Im Pats Delight forward to park in the open, with Bec Bartley shortly after sending San Carlo forward to face the breeze. The order remained the same until the bell when Mark Purdon and Spankem eased three wide to start a forward move, with Natalie Rasmussen (Cruz Bromac) immediately latching to his back for a sweet ride home and Our Uncle Sam  (one/three) trailing the pair. Given full rein prior to the home turn, Tiger Tara bounded away with Spankem and Cruz Bromac giving chase as San Carlo started to give ground with Im Pats Delight again being hampered. Well clear on straightening, Tiger Tara simply toyed with his rivals, with Our Uncle Sam giving Anthony Frisby the “thrill of a lifetime” by running into second place, Cruz Bromac third, Spanken fourth and Im Pats Delight a game fifth after not enjoying any luck at all after copping more cheques than a bank teller. In quarters of 30.1, 28.7, 26.3 and 27.9 for the last mile, Tiger Tara ran his rivals ragged, prompting Kevin Pizzuto who was lost for words to comment after the race how this horse is “unbelievable”. A 8Y0 entire by Bettors Delight from the Dream Away mare Tara Gold, Tiger Tara must have a wonderful constitution after this season being involved in a horrific car accident which tipped the float over threatening his racing career, before travelling to Victoria to claim the Victoria Cup, then heading across the Tasman to finish a nose second in the New Zealand Cup to Thefixer after racing exposed prior to the ID campaign which saw him win one heat with two placings. For Todd McCarthy who has developed into one of Australia’s top reinsmen, the victory gave him without doubt his biggest moment in harness racing. Raced by the Pizzuto family and M. Hawli, Tiger Tara has fronted the starter 99 times for 31 wins and 37 placings for stake earnings in excess of $1,960,000. THE TROTTERS  Most were of the opinion that the 2760 metre $150,000 (Group 1) ID Trotters Grand Final would be taken out by Andy and Kate Gath’s star Kiwi bred 7Y0 Skyvalley-Begin gelding Tornado Valley (gate six) unbeaten through the heats, or John Dickie’s North Islander Speeding Spur due to the fact that he came up with the coveted pole line draw, but it was Tornado Hanover to continue on his winning way. Raced by long time stable client – Queensland developer Norm Jenkin who has raced among others duel New Zealand Cup winner Flashing Red, Tornado Valley began at 100 miles an hour to lead running into the first turn, with Speeding Spur unable to match him settling in the trail. Big Jack Hammer (gate five) in the open and Save Our Pennys (gate three) one/one being trailed by Tough Monarch quickly away from inside the second line and Kyvalley Blur (gate three on the second line). Monty Python (gate two) possied three back the markers with Rompers Monarchy following him. While Sky Petite after starting outside the front line had no option but to go back to the rear of the field. Always travelling well within himself, Tornado Valley never ever looked in any danger, scoring easily by 10 metres from Sky Petite (three wide solo last lap) from the tail which ran the race of her life for Ryan Duffy and Mick Stanley, with Speeding Spur a disappointing third 8.6 metres away. Monty Python was fourth and Save Our Pennys fifth. In quarters of 30.3, 29.5, 29.1 and 28.4 for the last mile, Tornado Valley returned a mile rate of 1-59.5. It was Tornado Valley’s 24th success in 78 outings which include 23 placings for stakes of $412,887. Harness Racing Australia

Having knocked on the door and been brave so often Tiger Tara bashed it down with a barnstorming victory in the 2018 TAB Pacing Inter Dominion Championship. A take-no-prisoners Todd McCarthy drive shot Kevin Pizzuto’s pacer to the lead in the early stages and with a 26.2-second third quarter and a track record smashing 1:53.9 mile rate he broke their hearts to salute in style. After an enormous campaign that stretches back to October’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup win and a brave second in the New Zealand Trotting Cup, McCarthy and Tiger Tara got the one they wanted: the $500,000 Group 1. “I think it’s going to take a while to sink in but at the moment it’s unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “They are sensational these nights. The crowd is amazing, just an unbelievable atmosphere. To be able to win these sorts of races is something you dream about as a kid, to be able to come here and do it tonight is pretty special.” After enormous consternation surrounded race tactics during the week the game plan was thrown out when Mach Doro crossed to the lead in the early stages before handing up to Tiger Tara. Victorian hope San Carlo emerged from the pegs and would punch the breeze for much of the running, but the favoured All Stars pair Spankem and Cruz Bromac wouldn’t emerge to make their challenge until the final lap. With a blistering third quarter of the final mile Tiger Tara found separation and that was all she wrote, saluting by 14.4m from a fantastic Our Uncle Sam with Spankem and Cruz Bromac filling out the first four. But the night belonged to one. “He felt really good,” McCarthy said. “He got a bit of a breather nice and early there and I knew it was going to be on in the last three quarters. He felt good down the back straight and I thought it was time to go and if we were good enough we’d be good enough. It worked out terrific, he’s such a gutsy horse and I’m so lucky to drive him.”   Michael Howard Trots Media 8 9:45pm TAB INTER DOMINION PACING CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND FINAL (GROUP 1) 2760M $500,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TIGER TARA NZ      Fr7 7 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy   $ 6.00   PRS GS L 1 SWAB ST HT NTR D/S D/F   BAY HORSE 8 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of TARA GOLD (NZ) (DREAM AWAY USA)  Owner(s): M Hawli, C L Pizzuto, K J Pizzuto, T N Pizzuto  Breeder(s): R P (Raymond) Anicich 2 OUR UNCLE SAM      Sr3 10 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 14.4m $ 34.50   PRS PRU W3 SWAB ST HT 3 CRUZ BROMAC NZ      Sr2 9 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 15.8m $ 4.00   PRS T/F W2 3WLT SWAB ST HT 4 SPANKEM NZ      Fr5 5 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon 18.6m $ 3.50 fav  PRS 3WL W1 5 IM PATS DELIGHT NZ      Fr3 3 Cran Dalgety Gavin Lang 23.5m $ 5.80   PRS 4 INC SCT 6 GALACTIC STAR NZ      Fr1 1 G F J Bond, S A Bond Ryan Warwick 24.4m $ 8.00   PRS GS CB RES 6 7 CANT REFUSE NZ      Fr2 2 Matthew Craven Matthew Craven 24.6m $ 98.10   PRS PRU 5 HUE USL 8 CASH N FLOW NZ      Sr5 13 Craig Cross John Caldow 25.4m $ 179.00   PRS PRU 7 HUE 9 WRAPPERS DELIGHT      Sr4 11 David Aiken Kima Frenning 26.3m $ 49.30   PRS SCT 6 10 SAN CARLO      Sr1 8 Stephen O'Donoghue Rebecca Bartley 28.3m $ 9.50   PRS PRU CTS D/F 3WM 2 QUER VXAR SCOPE 11 MACH DORO      Fr4 4 Craig Cross Luke McCarthy 35.8m $ 176.00   PRS GS L SLE 3 CMP 12 MAXIMAN NZ      Fr6 6 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 70.7m $ 124.00   PRS RES CTS PH 10 TIRE QUER VXAR SCOPE Scratchings   AUDI HARE NZ 12 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:15:3 Mile Rate: 1:53:9 Lead Time: 82.3 First Quarter: 30.1 Second Quarter: 28.7 Third Quarter: 26.3 Fourth Quarter: 27.9 Margins: 14.4m x 1.4m  

If Rob Gartrell allows himself the luxury of dreaming, he could be in line for a massive 48 hours as he strives for a memorable feature interstate double. Perth’s prolific owner could have up to four runners in Friday’s Group 1 Golden Nugget (2536m) at Gloucester Park, headed by Ana Malak, Bettor Aim and Mighty Conqueror. Once his commitments are done and dusted on home soil his attention and focus will turn to Melton in Victoria where he will be represented by Galactic Star in the 2018 Inter Dominion. Western Australia’s sole representative has stepped up to the plate and proved he could be up to the task after recording one win and two placings from the three round of heats. And in a further morale boost for Gartrell and trainers, Greg and Skye Bond, Galactic Star has drawn the coveted inside draw at a function on Monday. What started as an ambitious and lucrative target for Galactic Star has now turned into a distinct winning reality. The Perth pacer is now rated a $5 chance. “That was very exciting and to get barrier one in an Inter Dominion final is exactly what we were hoping for,” Gartrell said on TABradio. “It certainly gives us a good chance in the race and sets ourselves up to be very competitive. “I think the horse has done a fantastic job in the series and it’s the perfect draw for him. “He has good gate speed as we know and should be able to hold up.” After reinsman Todd McCarthy handled the heats, Gartrell confirmed Ryan Warwick had been booked to drive Galactic Star in the final. “Ryan has had a terrific season and is a very important part of our team,” Gartrell said. “He has driven at Melton before and is looking forward to the trip.” Gartrell said he was hoping to get similar good fortune in the barriers for his runners in the Golden Nugget. Ana Malak has underlined his potential with two wins from as many starts since coming to Perth. The Bettors Delight colt is chasing back-to-back feature wins after posting a determined victory in the Group 1 Yes Loans 4YO Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park on November 30. Bettor Aim also holds an unbeaten record in Perth when he brought up his fifth win at Pinjarra last-start when defeating Marquisard on November 19. Mighty Conqueror posted four wins in a line before coming unstuck behind Ana Malak, running third in the Yes Loans 4YO Classic. “We are going to have good representation in the Nugget,” Gartrell said. “Bettor Aim, Mighty Conqueror and Ana Malak will be very competitive depending on the draws. “It gives us firepower in the race and we should be right in the cut up I would think.”   Julio Santarelli 

Western Australia’s sole representative in the 2018 Inter Dominion Series Galactic Star is well placed to make Saturday week’s final, following his third placing in the second round of heats at Ballarat last night. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained pacer sits third behind Cruz Bromac and Im Pats Delight in the rankings with one round of heats remaining at Cranbourne on Saturday night. Galactic Star won the opening heat at Melton last Saturday and continued his good form in last night’s 1710m second round of heats. The Bettors Delight gelding was posted wide in the early stages of last night’s heat, before he was able to settle in the running line in fourth spot. Reinsman Todd McCarthy then got the gelding into clear room at the top of the straight and he was able to run on strongly into third spot. Greg Bond said he was pleased to get another significant lot of points, which almost guaranteed him a spot in the final on December 15. “We were very happy with the performance, given the bad gate,” he said. “Nothing was coming from behind on the night, so we made the plan to follow Mach Doro out of the gate which we knew we may get posted three wide. “Eventually he was able to get a trail and he found the line really well.” Bond said he expected Galactic Star would only need to finish in the top eight of his heat on Saturday night to secure his spot in the final. Galactic Star has again drawn on the outside of the second line on Saturday night in barrier 10 and Bond said the stable wouldn’t take the race lightly, despite the fact a spot in the final looks assured. “The three main chances in Wrappers Delight, Spankem and Galactic Star are in eight, nine and 10 respectively,” he said. “We go in trying to win every race and Saturday night will be no exception. “He should finish in the top three or four depending on the run we get.” Galactic Star is a $9.75 chance with TABtouch to take out the Inter Dominion. Meanwhile, Bond said all of his four-year-olds were in good order following last Friday night’s Yes Loans 4YO Classic at Gloucester Park. He indicated Bettor Aim, who was scratched from the Group 1 event, was on track to make a full recovery in time for Friday week’s Golden Nugget.   Tim Walker

WA’s sole 2018 Inter Dominion representative Galactic Star has arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Saturday night’s opening round of heats at Melton. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained pacer won a heat of last year’s Inter Dominion series at Bunbury, before he went on to finish fifth in the final. Galactic Star travelled to Melbourne overnight and arrived this morning, with Greg Bond reporting the six-year-old travelled well and was in good order ahead of light work today. Galactic Star has had two starts for two wins this campaign, the Don Randall Memorial at Pinjarra and the Pat Cranley Memorial 11 days later at Gloucester Park. He has drawn barrier four for Saturday night’s heat, which will be the second of three Inter Dominion heats on the night. Todd McCarthy has the drive on Galactic Star in the early part of the series, with regular driver Ryan Warwick remaining in Perth to drive in local feature races. Mach Doro and Franco Nelson have drawn barriers one and two respectively in Galactic Star’s heat, while the in-form pair San Carlo and Shadow Sax are on the back row in barrier 10 and 12 respectively. WATCH: Galactic Star's Last Start Win Here Greg Bond said Galactic Star deserved to have another chance in this year’s Inter Dominion series, following his game performance in last year’s series. “We are taking a more seasoned horse,” he said. “We thought he’d done enough last year in the Inters and he ran fifth in a Victoria Cup last year. “He’s probably still learning his trade. “He won a heat of the Inters last year and horses can sometimes take a while to get used to that level of racing.” Bond said he expected the Melton track would suit Galactic Star’s style of racing. “At that grade, he’s probably a little bit of an opportunist,” he said. “He’s a good gaited horse, he gets around Gloucester Park and obviously they are 1000m tracks over there. “If anything, it suits him a bit more because he can wind up and the runs will come with the sprint lanes at Melton.” Cruz Bromac occupies the top line of TABtouch’s Inter Dominion market at $4.20, with the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained pacer to start from barrier four in the third of Saturday night’s heats. Tiger Tara is the star attraction in the opening heat of the night, where he starts from barrier four. The Kevin Pizzuto-trained pacer was brave in running second in the New Zealand Cup on November 13, before an unplaced run in the New Zealand Free-For-All and he’s now a $6 chance for the Inter Dominion. The second round of Inter Dominion heats take place on December 4 at Ballarat, ahead of the final round of heats on December 8 at Cranbourne and the final to take place back at Melton on December 15.   Tim Walker

Aussie warhorse Tiger Tara could find himself facing the same problem at Addington today that he did three days ago. But if he doesn’t, then he should win the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. The big black stallion wowed fans and even rival trainers with his huge second in the New Zealand Cup after sitting parked before just going down to Thefixer, who used the passing lane to grab him. Tiger Tara has what looks to be the worst possible draw at barrier nine, the outside of the front line, in today’s 1980m mobile pace but has real gate speed and should be across most of his rivals early should driver Todd McCarthy want. But that still leaves him with the same problem as he faced on Tuesday — the likelihood he could be left parked outside a Purdon-Rasmussen horse. The most likely is Cruz Bromac, who will relish the return to the mobile and blasted to the lead to win the Len Smith Mile at Menangle over the winter. If driver Natalie Rasmussen chooses to use that speed he could lead again and then the whole question of the race may be whether she lets Tiger Tara assume the pacemaking role or not. If he leads then it is hard to imagine him beaten unless the passing lane horse, a Cruz Bromac or Jack’s Legend, got him for raw speed. But his $2.70 fixed odds quote does look appealing because if he was drawn better he would be closer to $2 and that may not be the huge factor it looks at first glance.   Michael Guerin

The New Zealand Trotting Cup doesn’t cut in half. And Thefixer and Tiger Tara won’t receive the same prize money for the bravery at Addington yesterday. But while only the former will have his name etched on the most famous trophy in New Zealand racing, the latter shared the glory in a $800,000 thriller. Thefixer at just his 16th start held off the Australian iron horse in a pulsating finish, one that confirmed no matter how many stars are missing the New Zealand Trotting Cup is that rare equine contest that always produces a fairytale. But this fairytale has two heroes. Thefixer overcame soreness just six weeks ago which threatened to derail his Cup campaign and then recorded the second fastest time in the history of the great race, only his former stablemate Lazarus having gone faster two years ago. Lazarus was all muscle and flash, the bully who taunted his Cup rivals with an arrogant 10-length win. But this time trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had to earn their Cup, cajoling Thefixer back to his best because only his best would do. After a dreaded false start he got the second attempt right then led and trailed Dream About Me. From there it was his race to lose but lose it he almost did. Because while Thefixer was enjoying the perfect run for driver Rasmussen, Tiger Tara came three wide to sit parked and break the seemingly unbreakable Dream About Me in front. At the 200m mark he looked set to produce one of the gutsiest Cup wins in history only for Thefixer to rally, an equine Rocky Balboa defying the bigger, strong Apollo Creed. Every centremetre Rasmussen saved on the marker pegs made the difference but the runner up was so magnificent it almost felt like their were two Cup winners. The magnificence of Tiger Tara in defeat doesn’t detract from what the winner achieved though. This was, after all, just his 16th start and Thefixer hadn’t come through the glamour of age group races and has earned his stripes in the big time the old fashioned way. Being so untapped and new his options are numerous, with Purdon and Rasmussen to sit down today and decide whether he heads to the Inter Dominion in Victoria starting December 1, a decision which will impact on whether he starts in the NZ Free-For-All this Friday. “He is a very brave horse because he was out on his feet at the top of the straight but he just kept coming,” said Rasmussen, who joins Kerryn Manning as only the second female driver to win the Cup. One horse certain to be in both the Free-For-All and at the Inter Dominion is Tiger Tara, who greatness isn’t in his raw ability but in the organ beating under his rib cage. He quite simply covered lengths more than the other placegetters and produced a run that would have won more than 100 of the NZ Cups run since the first in 1904. “He was great. There really isn’t a lot more he could have done,” said driver Todd McCarthy. “I thought I had them once I got past Dream About Me but the other little horse just wouldn’t go away.” On a day where the Purdon-Rasmussen team won a scarcely believable eight out of the nine races they contested they may have unearthed their next champion in Ultimate Sniper in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes. He came from the second line to sit parked and record a searing time to remain unbeaten after four starts, suggesting if he can hold together he could even be the best horse in the all-conquering stable in 12 or 18 months. On any normal day his supersonic effort would have earned him skiting rights for the meeting. But not yesterday. Yesterday he has to share that with Cup winner. And the Cup runner-up. Michael Guerin

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. One more show until Cup Day! This weeks guests are Todd McCarthy, driver of Tiger Tara, Airpark Canterbury sponsored driver Matthew Williamson, the voice of Cup week Mark McNamara and Laurie Goodson regarding the traditional Cup Week golf tournament and Bookmaker Richard Wilson.   Jess Smith

YOUNG gun reinsman Todd McCarthy registered a slice of history at Globe Derby last night. By emerging triumphant against a host of the nation’s best drivers, McCarthy became the first person to secure the Australian Drivers’ Championship and Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship outright. Representing New South Wales, McCarthy captured the latter series in Perth during the 2016 Inter Dominion. Queensland’s Grant Dixon features on both honour rolls, but shared his Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship win with Tasmania’s Ricky Duggan in 1993. “I’m extremely thrilled,” McCarthy said. “It’s one of those series where it comes down to draws and luck on the night and on this occasion it went my way. “Just to be competing against such amazing drivers is an honour, but to come home with the win is amazing.” Fourth in the opening heat, McCarthy made his way into the winners’ circle after scoring with Imprincessgemma in the second event. A subsequent second and a pair of fourths saw McCarthy accumulate 72 points to complete a two-point victory from Queensland’s Adam Sanderson. Western Australia’s Chris Lewis – who won the 1977 Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship as a South Australian – was third with 66 points. “I only scraped in, but a win is a win,” McCarthy said. “I cannot compliment Harness Racing SA enough on how well they looked after us and how smoothly it ran. “It was really professional set up and all the drivers involved had a great time.”   HRSA

Shadow Sax’s surge towards the Melbourne Inter Dominion gained some serious momentum with an easy Sokyola Sprint win at Melton last night. After some brave runs from bad draws in strong races, Shadow Sax drew superbly in gate three and used it to lead and dominate. With Chris Alford away at Globe Derby for the Australian Drivers’ Championship, Mark Pitt took the reins on Shadow Sax and always looked in control. And he beat fellow key Inter Dominion hopefuls Wrappers Delight and Menin Gate in the process. Shadow Sax clocked a 1min52.5sec mile rate for 1720m – just 1.8sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record – and closed with splits of 55.0 and 26.6sec. Wrappers Delight’s run was enormous given he sat parked early then took the one-one trail on Menin Gate, but had to swing three-wide and make-up good ground in the blistering last quarter for second. The concern from the race was how sharply Menin Gate, who returned from a long spell with a terrific Swan Hill Cup win – dropped out to finish a distant last. Stewards queried the race and stood him down pending vet tests. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ An emerging star and a rejuvenated veteran stole the show in the Group 3 Nick Robin Free-For-All (1609m) at Menangle last night. And both of them – Joes Star Of Mia and Maximan – could be Inter Dominion-bound. Joes Star Of Mia has made a stunning step into Menangle’s big league, following a ripper fourth and eye-catching second with a sub-1min50sec win last night. Despite being part of a slick 26.5sec quarter as driver Amanda Turnbull fought to lead, Joes Star Of Mia followed with splits of 28.0, 27.3 and 27.5sec to win brilliantly in a 1min49.3sec mile. Most thought the currently sidelined Atomic Red was trainer Steve Turnbull’s next star horse, but Joes Star Of Mia has pinched that title, at least for now. Maximan’s slashing second, coming from a mile off them and finishing well ahead of Let It Ride, has got trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton thinking. “We’re talking with the owners about paying the late entry for the Inter Dominion. He won a couple in a row and he’s smashed the clock finishing second in both runs since,” Shane Tritton said. “I’ll be talking to HRV about it. He’s going well enough to give it a go for sure.” Maximan’s stablemate, My Alpha Rock, tired late but wasn’t disgraced in eighth spot after sitting parked. Let It Ride settled near last and was standing-up the leaders a huge start on the home bend before finishing well for fifth, less than five metres from Joes Star Of Mia. He’s now got two runs under his belt and shows every sign he will appreciate getting over further than a mile. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Many of the biggest names in Australian driving ranks locked horns at Globe Derby last night. There were eight heats of the Australian Drivers’ Championship and it went right down to the last heat to decide the winner. And it was NSW young gun Todd McCarthy who snatched victory by just two points over Queensland-based Adam Sanderson with WA veteran Chris Lewis another four points away in third spot. McCarthy only won the one heat – heat two about Imprincessgemma – but was consistent through the right races, also snaring a second and three fourths. Final standings were: Todd McCarthy (72pts), Adam Sanderson (70), Chris Lewis (66), Greg Sugars (63), Pete McMullen (63), Dani Hill (62), Ricky Duggan (59), Ellen Rixon (51), Todd Rattray (45), Chris Alford (44), Shannon Suvaljko (40) and Ryan Hryhorec (37). ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Former Kiwi pacer Vampiro continued his rapid rise through the ranks with the biggest win of his career at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Driver Ryan Warwick made the most of a good draw (gate three) and Vampiro’s gate speed to lead and always looked in control in the $50,000 Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2130m). After cruising through a 61.4sec middle half, Vampiro finished-off in 56.0 and 27.9sec to hold-off a gallant and revitalised stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone in 1min57sec mile rate. Vampiro’s won five of his past seven starts and 17 of his 38 career runs and with Chicago Bull sidelined he is pressing for the top seeding in WA’s open-class ranks. “I liked him from the start, but Bondy (co-trainer Greg Bond) wasn’t so sure. He rushed through his grades and took a few runs in open-class to take the next step, but he’s into it now,” Warwick said. Vampiro is one of two “Team Bond” pacers being set for the Melbourne Inter Dominion. The other, Galactic Star, is slated to return to racing next Friday night at Gloucester Park. Team Bond’s other emerging open-class player. Mitch Maguire, also impressed winning last Friday night, coming from a 10m handicap to score by 16m in a slick 1min58.8sec mile rate for the long 2503m from the stand.   Adam Hamilton

HAVING already matched her parents’ feat, Ellen Rixon has a prime opportunity to claim bragging rights over ‘the oldies’ this weekend. Rixon is one of two people representing New South Wales in Saturday night’s Australian Drivers’ Championship, with her folks previously wearing the state’s colours on the national stage. Rixon’s father Peter contested the 1988 Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship in Queensland, finishing at the rear of the field. Her mother, Cindy (nee Turnbull), was runner-up behind Graham Ward in the 1991 Inter Dominion Young Drivers’ Championship, which was conducted in New Zealand. This weekend’s will be Rixon’s second appearance in the ADC, having finished midfield in Tasmania last season. “I’m really looking forward to being part of it and spending time with the other drivers,” Rixon said. “It was such an honour to represent New South Wales last season and to be asked again is a huge thrill. “Hopefully I can do the colours proud.” Although the least experienced driver in the event, Rixon is a sneaky chance of upstaging her ‘veteran’ rivals thanks to some favourable draws. Rixon’s drives include All Hail Caesar, which has won its last two starts, Forte Courage, which boasts three wins from his last five outings, and Toolern Miss, which has two wins from her three recent starts. “On paper it looks like a few of my drives have got good form which is good,” Rixon said. “Hopefully I can have a bit of luck on the night.” Rixon will be joined by talented young reinsman Todd McCarthy who is also making a return to the Championship McCarthy wore the state silks during the 2016 edition in South Australia, which was won by local reinsman, Wayne Hill. During the same year McCarthy was triumphant in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship in Perth. “It should be a bit of fun, but most of all, hopefully Ellen or I can come home with a win for the state,” McCarthy said. “We’ve both got some reasonable drives, so we are in with a shot.” McCarthy has also applauded Harness Racing SA for hosting the event and dedicating the meeting to the series. “It’s great that South Australia is holding it again,” McCarthy said. “They did a wonderful job last time. “I also think it’s awesome they have managed to put on the whole card giving all the drivers plenty of chances to earn some points and get a win.” HRSA

TIGER Tara’s busy build-up to the New Zealand Cup could see him return to Victoria for next Saturday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup. It would mean racing for a fourth consecutive weekend, but trainer Kevin Pizzuto isn’t the least bit fussed about that. Pizzuto declared Cranbourne “very likely” after Tiger Tara backed-up just seven days after his sparkling Victoria Cup win to score again in the Group 3 Kevin Newman Cup (2300m) at Menangle last night. Much like the Victoria Cup, driver Toddy McCarthy turned the race into a sprint home once he led, which last night took 300m to do so from the outside draw. Tiger Tara cruised through a 60.9sec middle half then ran back-to-back 26.9sec splits for a 53.8sec last half to beat the emerging Joes Star Of Mia by 2.7m in a a 1min55.4sec mile rate. It showed again how sharp Tiger Tara seems to be this campaign. “I’ve changed his training and you’re seeing the results with his speed now,” Pizzuto said. Tiger Tara is now $4.50 favourite for the Melbourne Inter Dominion on the Aussie TAB, showing the importance of his presence at the NZ Cup. He is $6 equal second favourite with Dream About Me – behind Ultimate Machete at $5 – for the NZ Cup. “I think we’ll go down to Cranbourne next week with him because it seems I can a flight out of Melbourne that’s direct into Christchurch,” Pizzuto said. “If that’s confirmed, then he’ll run at Cranbourne then head to NZ from Melbourne. “I’d much rather go direct to Christchurch than have to fly to Auckland first. “If he runs at Cranbourne, he probably won’t need another run before the (NZ Cup). “I’ll know all my plans for sure in the next couple of days.” Tiger Tara’s stablemate Majordan, who was a luckless seventh in the Victoria Cup, disappointed slightly when he led, took a trail on Tiger Tara and tired late for fifth in last night’s race. But Majordan is a sprinter and the 2300m didn’t really suit him, especially on the quick back-up from last week. Pizzuto still plans to take him to NZ with Tiger Tara to target the NZ FFA.  Adam Hamilton

Tiger Tara is tough. He’s fought in most big fights….he’s won some and he’s lost some. But he’s always in for the fight. And he never takes a backward step. With the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series officially underway, the New South Wales trained eight-year-old showed great tenacity when defying his rivals to score a major victory, leading throughout in the Gr.1 $200,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton tonight (Saturday). The Kevin Pizzuto trained star easily defeated Chicago Bull and Carlas Pixel in a time of 1:53.4 to register his maiden Grand Circuit success. Starting from gate two, driver Todd McCarthy urged the Bettors Delight entire off the gate and defied Mach Doro the early lead which forced a major reshape of tactics of rival drivers. Settling into a comfortable looking stride, Tiger Tara led the way in the 2240m contest while Mach Doro and Franco Nelson were forced to cover extra early ground before eventually gaining a trail on race favourite Chicago Bull who quickly made his move when the pace steadied. The lead time was covered in a moderate 44.2 seconds. Placed in the same event twelve months earlier, Tiger Tara was looking for redemption and rivals allowed McCarthy to dictate terms easily in front with little or no moves being made in the first part of the event. The first half was covered in 30.7 and 28.9 seconds. It spelt disaster for his rivals. Entering the back straight for the final time, McCarthy let Tiger Tara off the chain and rapidly increased the pressure which gave rivals in the second half of the field little or no chance of improving. Tiger Tara was in full-flight while Chicago Bull and Shadow Sax were left working overtime deeper off the track. The back straight quarter was covered in a punishing 26.3 seconds. Approaching the top of the straight, Tiger Tara found separation and raced clear with a widening margin while the race for the place was on in earnest. At the line, Tiger Tara ($7.90) scored by 12.2 metres from Chicago Bull ($1.80) while Carlas Pixel ($77.90) rattled home via inside runs to grab third spot. The final split was covered in 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate of 1:53.4 is well outside of the track record held by Lennytheshark at 1:52.4 set earlier this year. “He was awesome tonight, he felt the best he’s ever felt for some time and that was an unbelievable feeling. He’s such a courageous animal and thoroughly deserved to win a race of this magnitude.” Winning driver Todd McCarthy said. The gifted young reinsman joins his father John (Be Good Johnny – 2005) and big brother Luke (Mr Feelgood – 2010 & For A Reason – 2013) as a winner of the Victoria Cup. Since joining the stables of Pizzuto, Tiger Tara has won 16 of his 37 starts while his earnings are now in excess of $1.5 million. Tiger Tara is now headed back to New Zealand for another shot at the $800,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 13 before returning to Melbourne in December for the $500,000 Inter Dominion series. Last season, he finished third in both the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion. Following his Victoria Cup triumph, Tiger Tara amassed maximum points and is looking to claim the title of Grand Circuit champion this season. He finished third behind Lazarus and Soho Tribeca last term. And it’s another fight he’s ready for, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Chris Barsby

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