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Bathurst native and one of New South Wales’ leading harness racing drivers Todd McCarthy is risking his premiership lead for an experience of a life time. The defending champion currently holds the lead in the Harness Racing NSW metropolitan drivers’ premiership narrowly over his older brother Luke McCarthy and young gun reinsman Chris Geary. In the overall premiership, he is third behind The Lagoon’s Amanda Turnbull and Geary. However, on Wednesday McCarthy is leaving the country for a couple of weeks. “I’m heading to Canada for a fortnight for the World Drivers Championship,” McCarthy said. “I’m heading over with Shane Graham, who is representing Australia, as his plus one. “Harness Racing Australia have organised a licence for me so I can drive over there. I have also had help from Darren McCall, who has connections there, to help me get a few drives. “I’m planning to drive at Mohawk Racetrack.” Both of McCarthy’s older brothers have experienced driving in North America. Luke spent a stint driving in the United States and drove superstar trotter Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby in 2009 while Andy was amongst the top 50 drivers in the US last season. McCarthy won all drivers’ premierships last season and is happy with what he has achieved this term so far. “I’ve spent a bit of time not driving this season after going on a holiday and then breaking my collarbone so have done well,” he said. Amanda Rando Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A number of New South Wales drivers are rallying their support behind Victorian Mini Trot driver Connor Clarke who is currently undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a condition rare in children. Without even meeting young Connor, his story has touched many hearts and some of this state’s leading reinsmen and women are showing their support. Connor is just 14-years-old and has to spend time away from his family and friends whilst undergoing the 18-week course of treatment. From Ballarat, Connor is having his treatment at the Royal Children’s Hospital, 1.5 hours away from his loved ones. One of the state’s leading drivers Robert Morris is more than happy to donate to the cause. “It’s so sad and I’ve decided to donate my driving fees from Bankstown (tonight) as well as Menangle (Saturday night) to try and help Connor and his family in this time,” Morris said. “To see such a young kid go through something like this just breaks my heart.” The state’s leading driver Amanda Turnbull is also donating all of her driving fees from Bankstown tonight where she had five drives. Meanwhile, leading reinsmen Todd McCarthy and Jack Trainor have agreed to donate their driving fees and percentages from their drives at Menangle on Saturday night which add up to 13 drives collectively. And so too is Inter Dominion winning reinsman James Rattray who has a number of drives at Albion Park this Saturday night. Harness racing participant Maria Furina helped co-ordinate this fundraising after being touched by Connor’s story. “It’s just something that I want to do, I want to help Connor,” the mother of one-year-old Charlie said. “Two years ago I shaved my head and helped raise over $15,000 the Leukaemia Foundation Shave For A Cure. “A lot of people donated and helped with that and hopefully we can help Connor too. “Chris Alford, Greg Sugars, Grant Dixon and Shane Graham are all donating their driving fees from Saturday night too. "Luke McCarthy is giving Connor a service fee to For A Reason so he can breed a horse one day and have something to look forward to. “Garrards Horse and Hound, Zilco International and Finntack are also donating products which will have raffle tickets available for purchase through the Garrards Horse and Hound stores at Menangle and Bendigo. “Connor’s parents Belinda and Steven are just absolutely blown away and extremely humbled by everyone's generosity in this trying time and are so happy to see the industry pull together in their time of need. “They are a lovely family and have four children of their own and still find room in their hearts and home to care for foster children.” There is also a Go Fund Me page set up for Connor called Connor’s Cancer Journey which can be found here.  Amanda Rando

The final night of the 2017 Brisbane winter carnival takes place this weekend. And the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will play host to a sensational ten race program this Saturday night. Feature events include the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo Finals and the Gr.2 $75,000 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby while the support program also boasts strong depth. But the focus will be squarely on the Blacks A Fake, the final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season and it features an outstanding line-up. Former New Zealand star Tiger Tara is the punters elect after drawing favourably while the David Aiken duo of Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay will have plenty of support plus the likes of My Field Marshal, Major Crocker, Mr Mojito and Mach Doro among others will also create plenty of focus. The Blacks A Fake is listed as Race 8 on the program and carries a $10,000 First 4 jackpot. Gambling giant UBET are offering several jackpots throughout the program including a guaranteed $50,000 First 4 pool on the opening race plus a $10,000 jackpot. Sydney visitor Match Point faces a difficult draw (gate 7) but comes north with excellent recent form, leading reinsman Todd McCarthy will need to plot a course to overcome the draw but he will command plenty of focus from punters. The Bettors Delight gelding was resuming since March 17 when an excellent third behind his stablemate Tiger Tara at Menangle last week and natural improvement is expected. The $15,540 Kevin & Kay Seymour Rising Stars Championship also looks an extremely open affair following the barrier draw. Heat winners on Tuesday were Outlaw Fella and Chapter One while others to be considered include Sweet As Candy, regal Nightshade, Subtle Advice, Summertime Lizzie, The Charging Moa and Sicilian Slumber. The Rising Stars Finals is listed as race 2 on the card. A guaranteed Quadrella of $75,000 is also slated with a $20,000 jackpot component; the quaddie will be staged on races 2, 3, 4 & 5. UBET have also slated $1000 jackpot trifecta pools on races 3 through to 10.

This is going to be an epic Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park next Saturday night. For many weeks the hype has been around superstar stablemates Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay, but the depth goes way beyond them now. Whether that glamour pair has come back to the pack or others have improved, we now have at least four, maybe even five serious winning chances in next week’s $200,540 feature over the gruelling 2680m trip. Rejuvenated Kiwi pacer My Field Marshal is firmly in the A-team now as is former Kiwi stayer Tiger Tara, who is the “fresh blood” in the race having skipped last night’s Sunshine Sprint to stay home and thrash a weaker field at Menangle. Then there is the much-improved and speedy Mach Doro, who, if given the right trip, has the speed to test any horse. We hoped last night’s Group 2 Sunshine Sprint would shed more light on who might win th Blacks A Fake, but, instead, it further muddied the waters. Hectorjayjay, unfairly criticised for his tiring fourth in the Len Smith Mile, bounced-back to win last night, but didn’t prove a lot in doing so. Young driver Josh Aiken put for the race for the lead with Lennytheshark quickly beyond doubt when he used Hector’s early brilliant to “ping” to the front. Then Aiken slammed on the breaks and dawdled through the first three splits in 29.4, 30.0 and 29.2sec. Hectorjayjay was always going to win in that scenario. He ripped home in 25.7sec, but only had a half-neck to spare from My Field Marshall with Lennytheshark struggling with the electric dash down the home straight to finish 6.7m away in third spot. Mach Doro was a close-up fourth. After the race, Aiken said: “We did what we needed to do to win tonight, but next week is a different race and the tactics will be very different.” Dexter Dunn’s pick-up drive on My Field Marshal was sublime and matched only by how well the horse himself went. To circle the field early, sit parked and finish so close to Hectorjayjay in a race he dictated was simply outstanding. If anyone thought My Field Marshal’s upset Len Smith Mile win was a fluke, they need to think again now. Meanwhile, around the same time the Sunshine Sprint was being run, Tiger Tara was capping his Blacks A Fake preparation with another crushing Menangle win. Driver Todd McCarthy balanced him up early from a wide draw and drifted back, then launched in the middle stages with a 27.3sec third split to blast around the field take the front. Tiger Tara then powered to a 6.8m win in a slick 1min51.5sec mile. Make no mistake, he’s absolutely primed to run a monster race in the Blacks A Fake. Yes, the draw will be important, but the long 2680m trip and mix of strength and speed amongst the key players set the scene for what should be a race for the ages at Albion Park next Saturday night. Adam Hamilton

Next stop is Queensland for star former Kiwi pacer Tiger Tara.  Trainer Kevin Pizzuto moved-on quickly from a totally luckless Len Smith Mile run to back-up Tiger Tara for a dominant win, albeit against easier class, in the Group Three Coca Cola Pace (1609m) at Menangle last Saturday night.  In the Len Smith, Tiger Tara found himself back last in a top-start affair and was clocked to run a 52.5 last half off the track when finishing only eighth.  Driver Todd McCarthy was mindful of not getting too far off the pace this time.  Main danger Allblack Stride worked forward to find the lead from gate eight, but McCarthy quickly moved around the field to sit parked after settling near the rear.  McCarthy stepped-up the heat on Allblack Stride rounding the final bend, quickly hit the front, then Tiger Tara seemed to do just what he had to do for a 4.1m win in a 1.52.7 mile.  It will now be interesting whether Pizzuto heads to Brisbane for next Saturday night’s Group One Sunshine Sprint, or sticks to his original plan of bypassing it, and waits for the longer Group One Blacks A Fake the following week.  Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and My Field Marshal head the list of stars awaiting Tiger Tara in Queensland.  We’re in for a couple of great weeks of racing.      Still on Queensland and the Allstars barn quickly put their stamp on this year’s Winter Carnival.  Despite being small on numbers with just the two raiders, both of them won with authority.  First-up was The More The Better, who capped his preparation for the Queensland Derby with an effortless win in the $30,000 Group Three Premiers Cup with Natalie Rasmussen aboard.  Rasmussen also took the reins on star filly Partyon, who showed a return to her sparkling early season form, to win a very strong Provincial Oaks.  Another Kiwi filly, Delighful Memphis, was sent out a hot favourite and led as expected, but Partyon was too strong and classy in a 1.56.8 mile rate for 2138m, capped by closing splits of 55.9 and 26.9.  Former Kiwi filly Shartin, who has been grabbing the eye in easier races for Victorian train Dean Braun, ran a slashing second. My Casino Belle was third and Delightful Memphis fourth.  Another impressive winner on the night was Grant Dixon’s four-year-old Leos Best, who used gate three lead and was simply too fast for the promising stayer Mattgregor in the Group Three 4YO Championship. They flew home in 56.3 last half and 27.8 closing quarter for a 1.55.1 mile rate.  NSW raider Spare Me Days won the Mr Feelgood pace for open-class pacers narrowly but impressively.  Maybe one-time budding superstar Beaudiene Boaz can still be a Perth Inter-Dominion contender.  The Gary Hall snr-trained pacer looked a bit special last season, but his form has been indifferent since.  He posted just his fourth win in almost 18 months when he led throughout at Gloucester Park in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) last Friday night.  It was a real line in the sand race and the five-year-old delivered. He came from gate five, sat parked early, worked to the front and won strongly by 1.8m in a slick 1.54.8 mile rate from Vulcan Tin and stablemate Run Oneover.  It was the second leg of a double for Hall Jr in the sulky, having taken advantage of a scorching early pacer to blow his rivals away on promising four-year-old Zach Maguire in a flying 1.52.6.    Advance Attack filly Cott Beach built on her impressive record with a dominant Westbred 2YO Fillies’ final win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey, Cott Beach posted her sixth win from just eight starts when she led throughout to win the Group One $100,000 feature by a whopping 21.5m.  Cott Beach posted a 1.58.8 mile rate, while Highroller Joe (Roll With Joe-Illeagle) ran only marginally quicker at 1.58.6 in the colts and geldings final. It was a big night for Highroller Joe’s trainer-driver Justin Prentice, who also won the 3YO Fillies’ final with Allamerican Queen.  Handsandwheels capped a big season where he won the WA Derby and then added last Friday night’s $100,000 Westbred final for father-son team Andrew and Aiden De Campo.    Lance Justice has won bigger races, not many would have meant as much as last Saturday night’s $20,000 Popular Alm Sprint (1690m) at Kilmore.  That’s because he trained Love Ina Chevy to a fighting win, and he’s the gelding who narrowly cheated death so many times, when gravely ill at the start of last year. Incredibly, the five-year-old lost none of his fighting qualities as shown by his biggest career win in the Popular Alm.  Love Ina Chevy led and took a trail then used the sprint lane to snatch victory from Four Ex Dan by a half-head in a 1.55.9 mile rate.    Star former Kiwi mare Cyclone Kate was the first benefactor of Menangle’s trial of a new handicapping system.  The system allows horses to drop back in grades pending from over their past five starts and Cyclone Kate did just that and then used gate four to lead and win impressively in a 1.53.1 mile.  Another winner of note on the night was Shane Tritton’s Eh Ef El, who blazed a 1.52.1 mile in race nine.  Tritton has been singing Eh Ef El’s praises for much of this year, but he’s shown as many “tricks” as he has sparkling displays.  If he keeps doing it all right like last Saturday, Eh Ef El will roar through the grades.    No wonder former Kiwi youngster Jack Mac is prepost favourite to win WA’s biggest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper.  The son of Mach Three stretched his unbeaten Aussie record to five wins when he cruised around at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Jack Mac was unplaced in five Kiwi runs before moving to Barry Howlett’s barn when he looked top shelf.  Another winner from last Saturday’s Gloucester Park meeting well known to Kiwis was recent All Stars’ export Motu Premier, who emphatically won his second run for trainer Ross Olivieri.  The Merv Butterworth-owned four-year-old has enjoyed a bumper season, first in NZ then with two wins and a close second from three Menangle runs (still with the All Stars) and now with Olivieri.  This season he’s raced 13 times for eight wins, two seconds and earned over $80,000. Adam Hamilton

Fans have been dished-up an unexpected treat at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto telegraphed early his plans to back-up Tiger Tara, but the twist in the race came when David Aiken opted to run Hectorjayjay as well. So, just eight days before the Group 1 Len Smith Mile, we get a mini preview with two of Australia’s best pacers locking horns in the Family Dun Day Sunday Pace (2300m). As impressive as Tiger Tara was storming home off a slow pace to beat Lennytheshark and others in last week’s Golden Mile, all the early money is for Hectorjayjay to beat him on Saturday. Amazingly, Hectorjayjay was smashed from $1.60 into $1.45 and then again in $1.35 within minutes of the Aussie TAB opening its fixed odds market. Tiger Tara has eased from $2.60 to $3. Both will start from the back row, but Hectorjayjay looks to be drawn better starting from two-out on the back as he can potentially through better and settle in front of Tiger Tara. Tiger Tara has the inside back row (gate 11) and follows out rank outsider Demolition Dave, meaning driver Todd McCarthy will surely snag and look to get straight away from the inside into the running line. It means he will settle near last. Against that, Tiger Tara’s great strength is his stamina and the stretch from last week’s 1609m to 2300m plays to his favour. The glamour pair are classes above their rivals and it promises to be a fascinating race of tactics and an ideal “teaser” to the best Len Smith Mile in recent memory. Saturday night’s Menangle card also features semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge for three and four-year-olds. By far the biggest name stepping-out in them is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who is a $1.04 favourite from gate four in the second of the three-year-old colts and geldings division. Luke McCarthy is down to take the drive. Another highlight of the card is the Group 3 Frith Stakes (1609m) where the key players are Cyclone Kate (gate 14), Rocker Band (12) and Miss Riviera Belle (five). Kiwi mare Rocker Band has moved from Craig Demmler’s Victorian stable to Mark Jones’ Menangle satellite stable and Ashlee Grives is down for the drive on Saturday night. Rocker Band and Cyclone Kate share $3.40 favourite in the Aussie TAB’s early fixed odds market. Adam Hamilton

The McCarthy name is synonymous in Queensland harness racing circles. A decade of dominance in the Sunshine State will leave an effect. It must. And it has. From John being the leading trainer and producing plenty of star performers following moving his young family from Bathurst, his three boys all commenced their race driving careers in Queensland and the rest is history. And now the youngest member of the famous clan will return and looks set to play a leading hand in the state’s biggest event, the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Fresh from success with outstanding pacer Tiger Tara in the Gr.3 $31,800 Garrards Golden Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle last Saturday, Todd McCarthy and trainer Kevin Pizzuto are eyeing the Brisbane riches. “He was absolutely super on Saturday night and felt like the old Tiger Tara, I was thrilled with the way he performed and now Brisbane is on the radar. I know Kev has mentioned it previously and following that performance, it must be seriously considered because he’s right in the mix.” McCarthy said. Starting from a second-line draw, Tiger Tara nosed out Mach Doro while race favourite Lennytheshark weakened to third after leading in a time of 1:52.6. It was first start since finishing 7th in the Bulli Cup at Menangle behind Lennytheshark in 1:49.6 back on April 29. Prior to that start, the Bettors Delight six-year-old won his previous five starts. “He was really sharp the other night and gave me a great feel in the warm-up and I thought he raced super, Mach Doro is a much underrated type while Lenny is a champion so that underlines the effort. “He’s got the Len Smith Mile before Brisbane and that should be another great race too because there’s plenty of nice types chasing that race but I wouldn’t be swapping right now. I would say he’s one of the best horses I’ve driven in my time, that’s for sure. “I think the main race will suit him up there and I’m looking forward to driving at Albion Park again, it’s a great track with special memories.” Tiger Tara has now won 20 of his 65 starts while banking more than $880,000. With Tiger Tara a ‘likely’ Queensland winter carnival contender; it will see Todd pitted against his older brother Luke once again who has a commitment to millionaire pacer Bling It On who is already based in Brisbane. And just like they’ve done numerous times prior, they could end up with a one/two result. Just like in the Golden Mile. Chris Barsby

FORMER star Kiwi stayer Tiger Tara is ready and waiting for Lennytheshark. Tiger Tara arrogantly posted his fifth successive win when he strolled home in the Group 3 Sydney Cup (2140m) at Bankstown last Friday night. In contrast to recent wins where he’s done all the work, this time driver Todd McCarthy found the front and Tiger Tara won as he liked in a 1min57.5sec mile rate for 2140m. He zipped home in 56.3 and 27.7sec. “He’s thriving on the hard racing and I can’t wait to get a crack at Lennytheshark next weekend,” trainer Kevin Pizzuto said. “I know he hasn’t been beating the absolute best in his recent runs, but the way he’s been going means I’m not afraid of taking any horse on.” Miracle Mile winner Lennytheshark hasn’t raced since winning the Cranbourne Cup on March 18, but sharpened-up with a slashing second in a Menangle trial last Tuesday. Lennytheshark and Tiger Tara are set to clash in next Saturday night’s Group 2 Bulli Cup at Menangle. FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Hughie Green was always going to enjoy life in Queensland. It’s started as most expected with two easy wins from as many starts in his new home state for trainer-driver John Cremin. He won first Queensland outing in all-the-way style at Albion Park on April 7, then did exactly the same, but looked even better doing it last Saturday night. The five-year-old cruised through a 62.6sec middle half then ripped home in 55.5 and 27.0sec to win by 11.7m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2138m. Hughie Green is going to have a good grounding at Albion Park ahead of the Winter Carnival up there when the likes of Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and Tiger Tara are expected to spice things up. CLASSY Victorian mare Rockstar Angel remains a “big hope” of contesting the Harness Jewels if the invite comes her way. Trainer David Aiken set the four-year-old for the $40,000 Platinum Mares’ Championship three months ago and snared the final with a tough and dominant win last Saturday night. It was a huge effort to come from outside the back row, do the work outside the leader and win in a blazing 1min53sec mile rate for 1720m. Given the lack of Our Dream About Me and probably Golden Goddess, the Jewels’ 4YO Mares’ division looks a good target for Rockstar Angel if Aiken and owner Brendan James opt to give it a crack. Also at Melton, Major Crocker made a one-act affair of the Westburn Grant free-for-all (2240m) by leading throughout in a 1min54.3sec mile rate. And rejuvenated trotter Vincennes caused a minor upset winning the Group 3 Uncle Petrika Trotters’ free-for-all (1720m) in a 1min56.3sec mile rate. The other eye-catching winner on the night was one-time Harness Jewels contestant, Burnaholeinmypocket, who looks to be regaining the sort of form he showed as a three and early four-year-old for Andy and Kate Gath. He sat parked and dug deep for a blisterining 1min53.1sec win over 1720m. ONE of the most stirring battles of last weekend came at Gloucester Park. It was an epic stoush between brothers Clint and Gary Hall Jr and a couple of exciting three-year-old pacers Runrunjimmydunn and El Barcelona. The pair cleared out from the rest of the field with El Barcelona in front and looking the winner on the home bend, but Runrunjimmydunn just kept coming and snatched victory by a nose on the line in a slick 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2130m. Runrunjimmydunn brilliantly won his first Aussie run for trainer Gary Hall Sr then had little go right in the WA Derby before bouncing back last Friday night. At the same meeting, another exciting three-year-old Maczaffair appreciated dropping back from racing the boys when 11th in the WA Derby to thrashing her rivals in a WA Oaks Prelude. Trained by Mike Reed and driven by Shannon Suvaljko, Maczaffair led throughout from the pole to win by 13.2m in a 1min56sec mile rate for 2140m, including closing splits of 56.4 and 27.9. The other highlight of the Gloucester Park card came when Bill Horn – of Village Kid fame – produced his injury-plagued pacer Heez On Fire for a first-up win in the fast-class race. It was the gelding’s first run since a failed tilt at the Perth Inter Dominion late last year. STILL in WA and leading trainer Greg Bond has been charged with behaviour detrimental to the industry from a race held during the Perth Inter Dominion series late last year. After an exhaustive probe, Perth West Australian newspaper reported RWWA had charged Bond in relation a former Kiwi pacer Fifth Edition at Gloucester Park in December. An iquiry was opened straight after the pacer drifted alarmingly in betting, hung badly and wilted to finish last. The inquiry focused on Bond’s comments in Perth radio on the morning of the race and his betting activity on race night. RWWA’s general manager of integrity, Denis Borovica, said Bond initially told RWWA’s former chief steward, Carl Coady, he included Fifth Edition in a “first four bet” on the race, but subsequence evidence showed none his bets did include Fifth Edition. Additionally, Borovica said Bond said on local radio on race morning that Fifth Edition was his “best prospect” that night, neglecting to mention information he had been given by stable foreman Ryan Warwick about the pacer hanging and cross-firing in trackwork the prior Tuesday. The charges are serious and the inquiry has been adjourned to a date to be set. Bond and his wife, Skye, are backbones of the WA industry with a huge stable – mostly Kiwi imports – and have trained almost 150 winners so far this season. LATE last year there was plenty of prepost money around for San Carlo to win the Victoria and/or Hunter Cups. San who may of you might ask? San Carlo is a six-year-old gelding, who, if he could stay sound, would be a Grand Circuit horse. Not long after the money came for him late last year, he had yet another setback and was put out for a spell by trainer Steve O’Donoghue. San Carlo returned to the races with a sparkling win at Kilmore last Friday night. It was his 10th win from just 11 starts. Despite being three-wide and outside the leader, driver Bec Bartley had an armchair ride as he coasted to a 9.8m win in a brisk 1min57.6sec mile rate for 2180m. KIWI pacer Motu Premier gives Mark Purdon another major feature race player at Menangle next Saturday night. The four-year-old made it two wins from as many runs during this NSW raid when he finished strongly to win a heat of the Carousel series at Bankstown last Friday night. Motu Premier looks one of the major players along with the likes of Anything For Love and Lord Zin Zan in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel final next Saturday night. Lord Zin Zan won an epic battle with Anything For Love in a scorching 1min49.6sec mile at Menangle last Tuesday then backed-up last Saturday night for an easy all-the-way win at the same track in 1min52.1sec. HARNESS Racing Victoria continues to tinker with its pacing races after abolishing standing-start races for pacers at the start of this season. The move came under the microscope most on the country cup circuit where so many of the former standing-start races became mobiles and had short-priced favourites. Overall, HRV revealed betting turnover across all country cups was up 3.9 per cent on last season, but they conceded some races – most notably the Shepparton Cup which was down 24.7 per cent – suffered as a result. Hectorjayjay started $1.20 and dominated at Shepparton. In a quest to combat this, HRV’s CEO David Martin confirmed the country cups of Group 2 and 3 status would switch from free-for-alls to preferential draw races next season. It’s a fair compromise with a marquee Cup, like the Group 1 Ballarat Cup, remaining a random draw. The upside to scrapping stands has been more of stars like Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay in the country cups and the preferential draws should at least make some of those Group 2 and 3 races more competitive. MATTY Craven showed why he is regarded as one of the emerging training forces in Australia with an “on-the-road” treble at Menangle last Saturday night. Craven, who is building a name for rejuvenating trotters, won with two trotters at Menangle – El Paco and Our Dreamlover – who have been both regained form since being switched to his stable. Craven’s other win came with tough pacer Desdon Murruffy, who led throughout in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m.   Adam Hamilton

Kyle Marshall has carried on straight from where he left off in the Australasia Young Driving Championships in Perth. Less than a week after driving two winners across the Tasman and finishing fourth – four points behind winner, Todd McCarthy (NSW), Marshall was back in the winner’s circle at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Palmerston North last night (Tuesday). The 22-year-old Franklin reinsman was the most successful driver at the nine-race meeting, steering the Arna Donnelly trained $2.40 favourite to win race three, and then two races later he drove the Fred Mitchell trained $13.20 seventh favourite Jack Bates to victory. Eldolar was having his second start back for Donnelly in the $7,000 Life Members Maiden Pace after an eight month spell. The Elsu gelding resumed at Cambridge Raceway on December 1 with a close-up second behind Taihape Sunset. It was his first look at Manawatu Raceway and his first start over the 2000m. “He’s still a bit green but he won very well. He’s got a lot to learn but should win at least a couple more. He felt real strong,” Marshall said. Eldolar started from the widest second row draw (12) and Marshall worked the 4-year-old to sit in the lane the second last time. In the home straight Eldolar left his nine opponents to it winning by an increasing three lengths and pacing the 2000m mobile in 2:34.2 (mile rate 2:04 even). His final 800m and 400m sectionals were 60.8 and 28.9. It was his first career win in 16 starts and the way he cruised home it won't be his last. "I think he will be my best drive on Thursday. He’s got the feeling he will go on with it,” said Marshall. Jack Bates (2) was also impressive winning the $7,000 Happy 80th Birthday George Mouldey Mobile for the up to R56 rated pacers. Marshall settled the 8-year-old P Forty Seven gelding in the one-one before looming up three-wide on the turn and then pacing away to win by one-and-quarter lengths. Jack Bates paced the 2500m mobile in 3:15.9 (mile rate 2:06.1) and home in 62.3 and 30.7. It was Jack Bates' third win in 49 starts on the track and his third from 32 attempts over the distance. All up he's now won six of his 131 starts and just under $50,000 in stakes. “He’s an honest little horse who is racing well. He got all the favours in the running and obliged. Fred had him spot on,” said Marshall. Marshall has now driven eight winners from 79 starters this season. This is his first season in the open driving ranks and he’s now driven 81 winners from 952 starters. he’s also placed 165 times and won $571,619 in career stakes. His best season was last year when he reined home 39 winners from 383 starters ($264,717). Meanwhile Marshall said that competing in the recent Australasian Young Drivers Championship was the highlight of his career. “When I first started out as a junior this was my main goal. It was always something I wanted to achieve and I was running out of time. “I’m just grateful to all the owners and trainers who made it all possible for me on their horses in my last year as a junior (2015-2016),” Marshall said. "I'm also grateful for all the drives I'm getting in New Zealand as well, and that includes Manawatu," he added Duane Ranger

New Zealand harness racing junior driver Robbie Close is still tied for the lead in the Australiasan Young Drivers Championships with one race left in the series.  Brad Williamson managed to get a win yesterday at  Narrogin after several placings in the earlier heats. Brad won aboard All About The Cash when he led all the way from barrier two with Robbie Close second driving Mon Alisa Jet. After yesterdays Narrogin heat Robbie Close is tied in the lead with Todd McCarthy (NSW) on 69 points with a further six points back to another kiwi Kyle Marshall on 63 points. In the event of a tie, the driver with the most victories shall be declared winner. If still tied, the greater number of seconds and so on until the winner is declared. Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship Points Table: Robbie Close (NZ)            69 Todd McCarthy (NSW)   69 Kyle Marshall (NZ)           63 Matt Anderson (NZ)       62 Nathan Dawson (QLD)    60 Brad Williamson (NZ)     60 Jayson Finnis (SA)            49 Jason Lee (VIC)                40 Stuart McDonald (WA)   29 Wade Rattray (TAS)         27   Harnesslink Media

Last season’s leading New South Wales harness racing driver Todd McCarthy has been forced to the sideline after breaking his collarbone in a race fall at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. The 23-year-old Group one winning reinsman crashed to the track when driving Karmic Fire, a pacer trained by his father John McCarthy, and luckily sustained no other injuries.  “I’m feeling alright,” McCarthy said. “Judging by my other one (collarbone) I could be out for a few weeks.” McCarthy has broken his collarbone twice before, once in another horse related incident and the other on a bike. McCarthy is also hoping he bounces back in time to represent NSW in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship which is just five weeks away. The series will be held in conjunction with the 2016 Inter Dominion Series in Perth, Western Australia, from December 2 to December 9. McCarthy represented the state last weekend in the Australian Drivers Championship which took place at Globe Derby on Saturday night. After nabbing a win in the opening heat, McCarthy finished fourth overall. The young reinsman is fresh from experiencing his best season to date having dominated all the major driving premierships in NSW. Click here to watch a replay of race five at Menangle yesterday Amanda Rando

A New South Wales representative is yet to win the Australian Drivers Championship, however, two of the state's leading harness racing drivers are hoping to reverse this trend at the 2016 Championship on October 22 at Globe Derby, South Australia. The pair given this task is last season's leading State Driver Todd McCarthy and multiple Group winning reinswoman Amanda Turnbull. The selection process was very "black and white" according to Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny. "Todd McCarthy was the state's leading driver last season while Amanda Turnbull was the leading reinswoman in the state," Dumesny said. "By selecting a representative from each gender HRNSW is a leader in equality and naturally they both deserve their selection." It will be the first time McCarthy represents NSW in this Championship, however, the same cannot be said for Turnbull who has competed in this series in 2014 and finished 10th. AMANDA RANDO

At just the age of 23 harness racing reinsman Todd McCarthy is undoubtedly having his best season to date. He achieved the feat of driving 500 winners last night at Penrith (August 18) and this milestone was reached when the two-year-old Western Stride broke through for his first victory. This season alone Todd has driven 186 winners, which includes his first Group One winner, and looks set to take out the New South Wales Drivers Premiership. The talented reinsman is also the leading concession driver in the state and is in front in the Metropolitan Drivers Premiership too, just two wins ahead of his older brother Luke. Here are some more Todd McCarthy stats: ·         First started driving in 2010 ·         His first race drive was at Albion Park on March 2, 2010, on Count The Cards – they finished second ·         It took Todd 13 drives to land his first winner ·         His first winner was Count The Cards at the Gold Coast on April 23, 2010 ·         Todd’s first double was at Albion Park on October 26, 2010, with Beef City Beau and Braveheart Stride ·         At the age of 21 Todd drove five winners in one program which was at Newcastle on May 3, 2014. The wins came courtesy of Fellas R Trouble, Howdy        Dazz, Marble Halls, Emerging Art and Bettorbeastar ·         Todd’s drives has collected over $4.6million in prizemoney ·         His first Group One win was with Frith in the 2016 Ladyship Mile ·         The fastest win Todd has had was when Frith rated 1:50.1 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 16, 2016 ·         He has trained 17 winners  - more than half of them were thanks to the pacer Seel N Print ·         Todd also finished second in the 2014 Inter Dominion Grand Final with Seel N Print AMANDA RANDO

Honours and dollars were shared although there were hardly any great surprises after the three Group Two Trotters Finals at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon. Harness Racing Trainer/Driver Blake Fitzpatrick kicked off the big Breeders Challenge Finals Day in typical fashion when he took Empire Bay to victory in the opening event, the Two-Year-Old Trotters Final. Sent out a prohibitive $1.50 favourite, Empire Bay was a comfortable winner over his only two rivals Shang Fang Sword and Nanas Eyes. While he was expected to dominate the trotters’ races, Fitzpatrick could only fill the minor places with his following two entries with Seven Secrets running fourth in the three-year-old final and short-priced favourite Glenferrie Burn leaving its run too late and ending up second with a late burst in the four and five-year-old Trotters’ Final. Zac Phillips guided Red Hot Tooth to victory to deny Fitzpatrick of making it two from two while Todd McCarthy held on from a fast-finishing Fitzpatrick with Glenferrie Burn in the third race. Fitzpatrick was delighted to draw first blood: “He (Empire Bay) went great, he’s been a really smart horse and he’s made mistakes in the wrong races,” he said. “His record really should be better than it is. “I was happy to follow Shang Fang Sword as my bloke has really good speed and he picked the leader up quickly and finished the race right off. “He’ll have a short break now and then head to Victoria for the Redwood and then the Breeders Crown.” The Three-Year-Old Trotters Final could almost be considered a Bathurst victory as Red Hot Tooth was bred by Geoff Bullock from Bathurst. He sent the horse to Kari Males, who trains out of Bolinda in Victoria but is originally a Bathurst girl. Young Victorian-based reinsman Zac Phillips, 20, caught a plane this morning to drive the horse and then headed straight back to drive at Shepparton tonight. “I’ve been up here a few times but this is the first time I’ve driven a winner here,” he grinned. “She’s been a revelation this horse and came down around six months ago. She wasn’t much to look at but has had six starts and kept improving. “Once she began to race the better horses she just acquitted herself well. “I thought I’d be hard to beat if could lead and we had such a great run I was really confident. “If she’s in front she runs her best races. “I think she could have gone quicker had she needed to. It’s a terrific story the owners are lovely people and it’s really good to see people win on a big day like today.” Michael Howard

A quick update re the 2016 Harness Jewels. Kevin Pizzuto and his stand out pacer Heza Bromac are heading to the 2016 Cambridge Jewels. Today Pizzuto and owner Danny Zavitsanos accepted an invitation from HRNZ to complete in the Sweet Lou at Woodlands 3yo Emerald on the 4th of June. When Kevin spoke to Greg Hayes of HRNSW last week about his stable star, he was quoted as saying "“He by far and away is the best horse I have ever had in my stable, I’ve had some nice horses over the years but there is daylight between Heza Bromac and the rest,”  Regular driver Todd McCarthy will come over to drive the son of Rob Roy Mattgregor, and by the looks of his latest twitter update where he described Heza Bromac as an "Awesome horse with a ton of speed and power" he is obviously excited for the challenge. Heza Bromac joins Shane Tritton trained mare Arms Of An Angel as the only official jewels invites at this stage. Andrew Fitzgerald

Irish pacer Meadowbranch DJ has no time for celebrating St Patrick's Day on Thursday with new trainer John McCarthy confirming the Inter Dominion competitor is ready to resume after two solid trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle. McCarthy has been pleased with both efforts and will now sit down and look for a suitable race. Meadowbranch DJ last raced on December 4 at Gloucester Park when he finished behind Devendra, however on resumption the son of Real Artist will be racing much weaker opposition. Although he has won 23 races in the United Kingdom, Meadowbranch DJ is assessed as a C1 pacer in Australia. "I think he is going to do a good job in Sydney, he is lowly assessed and I think he will be best suited to Menangle because he really likes racing over the mile," McCarthy said. "I've been really happy with his two trials, he just knocked up late in his first trial, the winner broke 1:53 and he wasn't too far away." "On Tuesday I told Todd (McCarthy) to go around 1:54 and let him run through the line which is exactly what happened." McCarthy keeps in contact with former trainer Willie Flanagan and confirmed he had received a text message prior to Meadowbranch DJ's trial on Tuesday. "I spent some time with the Irish boys in Western Australia and they're all good guys, Willie sent me a message asking what I expected from the trial on Tuesday and they're obviously keeping a close eye on what he is doing here in Sydney." "On the times he is running in the trials he is going to get through to metropolitan class, he can get a bit keen in his races but if I can keep a lid on him between runs I think he should do a really good job." Meanwhile stablemate Cyclone Kate is back in work and will be aimed towards the upcoming Carousel series. Cyclone Kate won the Group 2 Carnival Stakes on Miracle Mile afternoon and McCarthy admits he will be forced to keep her away from the races prior to a Carousel heat. "If she wins another race she won't be eligible to compete in the Carousel so I'll have to get her fit at the trials, she didn't have long off so she didn't lose too much condition." "It looks a pretty good series for her but I know Belinda and Luke are aiming Kept Under Wraps at the Carousel so like always there will be plenty of depth." Lord Zin Zan is still spelling after his encouraging campaign. The four-year-old pacer finished second behind Have Faith In Me in the Chariots Of Fire and MCCarthy has now set his sights on the Breeders Crown. "I never ask too much of my horses at four, all of the good horses I've had success with previously I've been patient with at four, I think if you give them an easy season and they have the ability, it helps them develop into a Grand Circuit performer." "I was mindful Lord Zin Zan had suffered from a leg injury and while everything was fine with him during this campaign, I thought if I gave him some time off now it would ensure that the leg doesn't become an issue later on." Greg Hayes

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