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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

Tiger Tara tore shreds off his rivals to score a remarkable 12.2-metre win in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. The New South Wales-trained eight-year-old clawed his way to the lead early for reinsman Todd McCarthy, defying the challenge of fellow Sydneysider Mach Doro, and powering past polemarker Gotta Go Ya Hu, before ripping home with a 54-second last half. That made it virtually impossible for anything to make ground from out the back following a 44.2secs lead time and 59.6 first half. “Being able to lead on him worked out perfectly,” McCarthy said. “We got that breather early and were ready to roll after that. Full credit tonight to (trainer) Kevin Pizzuto; he had him absolutely at the top of his game.” Chicago Bull lost no admirers, boxing on gamely to run second, covering ground in the breeze and holding off third-placed Carlas Pixel – the mare running a bottler to finish third – and Franco Nelson, who did his share of work early, finishing fourth, just ahead of stablemate My Alpha Rock. Chicago Bull remains the favourite for the TAB ID18. Ameretto, who finished last, was scoped post-race and showed signs of mucous, according to trainer-driver Kerryn Manning, which may explain the performance. Tiger Tara will now head to New Zealand for a tilt at the $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup, one of the international jewels of the sport, before returning to Victoria for the TAB Inter Dominion from December 1. Ranked No.3 in the Inters earlier this month, there would be every chance Tiger Tara could launch to the top of the charts when rankings are updated this week. “We’ll definitely be back for the Inter Dominion,” an elated Pizzuto said. “He’s such a great horse with a big heart.”   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA 

GRAND Circuit pacer Tiger Tara will not race in Saturday night’s Group 3 Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The $1.3million earner was involved in a car and float accident on Tuesday morning and has been ruled out of the feature. Tiger Tara was lucky to escape any serious injury, however, Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman of Stewards Grant Adams said the stallion will be stood down from racing for seven days. “The veterinary report following the accident revealed that the horses involved had sustained some bruising around their heads and as a precaution, were recommended to be stood down from racing for a period of seven days and until a further veterinarian clearance is submitted,” said Adams. Tiger Tara was with three other stablemates in Jakes Sportswriter, Courageous Becqui and Pass The Speights, when the float they were traveling in was hit by an oncoming car and pushed into a tree. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto was driving the car while stablehand Karen Crouch was also in the vehicle. Pizzuto escaped with some bruising and Crouch is nursing three broken ribs. “I hit my head on the windscreen and am sore and bruised but okay,” said Pizzuto. “Karen has broken ribs and a nasty cut to her head. “When we got out of the truck and I realised no people had died my concern went straight to the horses. “Thankfully they are all fine.” On track, Pizzuto is experiencing one of his best seasons to date having trained 96 winners for the term. Last season was Pizzuto’s best result training 115 winners, however, his starters this season have earned more prizemoney than what they earned last term. This is largely due to Pizzuto’s success with the likes of Tiger Tara, Cruz Bromac and Majordan. Pizzuto’s main stable driver Todd McCarthy has also relished off this success. McCarthy has already taken out the NSW Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership for the 2017/18 season and is on track to also take out the State Drivers’ Premiership. “I’d have to say my two highlights this season was getting that fast time with Maori Time at Menangle and that fast win I had on Tiger Tara in the Canadian Club Sprint where he beat Lazarus,” said McCarthy. Despite spending time in Europe this season when driving Maori Time in the Elitloppet in Sweden, McCarthy has driven 166 winners this season with just Thursday night’s Penrith meeting and Friday night’s Bankstown meeting the last two NSW meetings for this term.   Amanda Rando AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HRNSW

THEY have all had a taste of winning a premiership before and drivers Luke McCarthy, Todd McCarthy and Lauren Tritton are all going head-to-head at Menangle on Saturday night to try and claim another. The trio have dominated the metropolitan driving ranks for the past six seasons and this term is no different. With only one win separating the three of them and Saturday night marking the last metropolitan meeting for the season, any win will be vital for the top drivers to claim New South Wales’ Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership for 2017/18. Seasoned reinsman Luke McCarthy is leading the charge on 40 wins while Todd McCarthy and Lauren Tritton are close behind in equal second with 39 wins each. “It’s pretty good that it’s still so close considering we’ve all had some time away this season,” said Luke. “It certainly makes it interesting.” Having won this Premiership twice before and tied with his younger brother Todd in the 2014/15 season, Luke knows what it takes to lead the charge. The 35-year-old reinsman has seven drives on Saturday night and so does Todd while Lauren, the 2013/14 Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership winner, has five. And one of the best chances he believes he has this Saturday night is War Dan Destroyer in Race Nine. Luke has driven the trotter 14 times to nine victories and three placings. “War Dan Destroyer is going well and does well in these sorts of races,” said Luke. “This race suits his style of racing.” Luke has also been assigned the drive on War Dan Destroyer’s stablemate Mister Brazil in Race Two. “Mister Brazil has been racing well and has a good chance,” said Luke. “Out of my other drives, Epaulette (Race One) drops back from free-for-all class and with scratching of Shannonsablast he should go close. “Also I’m driving Izzy Dagg for Tim But in the two-year-old (Race Eight) and on paper looks reasonably good.” The Garrards Ready2Run Stakes (1609m) is one of the main features on Saturday night and Lauren will drive the favourite Petes Big Jim. The gelding is resuming from his third-placed effort in the Vicbred Super Series Final last month and recently won a trial at Menangle in 1:53.2 – almost four seconds faster than any winning time he has rated before. Meanwhile, the other feature is the Group 3 Vic Frost Cup where Todd’s drive, Tiger Tara, is the $2.60 TAB Fixed Odds favourite. Lauren will drive My Alpha Rock ($4.80) in that event while Luke is assigned to Cash N Flow ($4.80).   Amanda Rando

IT might have been the sort of abbreviated, run-of-the-mill affair that mid-winter regularly serves up, but Wednesday’s Gold Crown Paceway meeting produced driving credits - Turnbull, Day, McCarthy, Hewitt, Rue and Morris - that read like a harness racing “Who’s Who”. Nathan Turnbull took the first, a C0/C1 Menangle Where Horses Fly heat, with Lucky Lyla, a beautifully-bred Mach Three mare trained by brother Josh for his wife Jess and named for their daughter. It was a tough effort, three-wide for much of the 1:56.9 trip, and holding on strongly from Walk On Kimmy and Waikari Fire NZ. “You probably heard me screaming and yelling at her as soon as we turned for home, “ the driver observed, “ and even though she tried hard when the others came, it was my noise that did the trick so I reckon I’m entitled to a sling from Josh!” Neil Day wiped out all the Pick-Six tipsters in the racebook promotion when $45 longshot Arma Hotshot got up in the final stride, from Snoop Stride and leader Spike Robyn NZ, in the C2/C3 Menangle Country Series heat. The Modern Art mare settled at the tail of the field from her wide draw on the front row but relished the fast pace -including  a 57.4s first half - that brought the backmarkers into the event, and her trainer-driver is hopeful that a similar scenario unfolds when she heads to Menangle for the  $20,000 final in a fortnight. Todd McCarthy and his Uncle Pat’s  Grinfromeartoear runner Im Cool Harry NZ have had to settle for minor placings in a long and frustrating season, but patience and consistency finally paid off when they scored a decisive all-the-way win in the 2260 metres fast-class third. A 28.1s third split enabled the pair to break clear of the field, and though the rallying Shannonstheman and third-placed Hidden Courage tried hard, they were no match for the winner, which extended Todd’s narrow lead over Amanda Turnbull in their down-to-the-wire battle for the NSW drivers’ premiership. Mark Hewitt gave promising Sportswriter filly Ace Reporter a lovely trip in the running line in the 2YO class,sprinting well to hit the front turning in, before grittily holding off Make Mine Memphis which tracked it over the last lap. The last half of the 1:57.8 trip was run in a sharp 57.2 seconds. His efforts earned him Drive-of-the-Night honours from racecaller Craig Easey. The lesser-known of the Hewitt brothers trains a much smaller team than either Bernie or David, but lacks none of their ability and has a fine record with juveniles, including Group One success with Two Eye See and Makes Mine Scents. Mat Rue achieved the maiden win, at start 16, for Roll With Joe filly Ichiba Newy -trained by his wife Gemma - in the Evolution Series 3YO Fillies heat, trailing favourite Madame Leza every step of the way and using the sprint lane to get up in a 1:57.0 rate for the 1730 metres sprint. He’s had more success with the Bathurst sprint lane than any other driver, so it’s hardly surprising that he’s a big fan of it. Having previously shared his tips on race driving with an interested audience at a local awards night, he’s now been put on notice to deliver a follow-up tutorial on sprint laning, at the first available opportunity! Robbie Morris and his partner Kerryann Turner, adopted “locals” at Gold Crown Paceway, seldom head back to Menangle without a winner, and they left it until the final race, the Evolution Series 3YO Colts& Geldings heat, where Weona Luke put an end to some muddling stop-start tactics by taking the lead mid-race and dictating the race from that point. The handsome Mr Feelgood gelding, which  stopped the clock in 1:56.1 for the sprint journey, won’t have to travel very far at all for his next start, in the $20,000 final at Club Menangle next Saturday. Terry Neil

GEORGES Plains mentor Bernie Hewitt stamped himself as the ‘King’ of the Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Finals after winning three of the Group Two features at Menangle tonight. Heading into the meeting, Hewitt already had five Breeders Challenge Blue Finals on his winning record. “We counted five Blue Finals and now that makes it six,” Hewitt said after winning the two-year-old fillies edition with Write About Lexy, not knowing he was going to add to that record again. The 56-year-old trainer-driver tasted his first ‘Blue’ success in 2014 with Read About Lexy – a full-sister to Write About Lexy. Both horses are bred and owned by Lex Crosby. “This is the sixth generation of this family that we have been breading with,” Crosby said. “It was 63 years ago that my Dad started breeding from this family line.” It was a similar scenario with the two-year-old boys Alabar Breeders Challenge Blue Final that was taken out by Lets Go To Brazil. The Sloys Company have been breeding from this family for almost three decades and Lets Go To Brazil is the third generation of this breed. Driven by Todd McCarthy tonight, Lets Go To Brazil set a new personal best time of 1:53.9 to win the Group Two. In the three-year-old fillies feature the Hewitt-trained-and-driven Cobbity Chic also set a career best mile rate when clocking 1:56.5 to narrowly hold off Brazilian Rocker, a full-sister to Lets Go To Brazil. To top the night off, Hewitt trained the quinella in the three-year-old boys final with Lifes A Jungle causing an upset at odds of $30 and Brads Luck finishing close behind in second. Leading junior driver Chris Geary took the reins on Lifes A Jungle while Hewitt steered the runner up. Lifes A Jungle set a new benchmark when clocking 1:54.6. Thanks to these results, Hewitt has driven 68 winners this season equalling his best season to date in the sulky. Meanwhile, he is on track having his best season on record as a trainer having trained 89 winners for the term and is just one win away from equalling his best result. Bernie Hewitt’s Breeders Challenge Blue Final winners – 2014      Read About Lexy 2015      Pass The Magic 2016      Ima Black Beauty 2017      Our Little Digger 2017      Taylors Reason 2018      Lifes A Jungle 2018      Write About Lexy 2018      Cobbity Chic   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES

Ignatius laid to rest any questions over who is the best three-year-old in the land with another scintillating performance on Sunday in the Group 1 New South Wales Breeders Challange Final at Menangle Park. The James Rattray trained and driven superstar staved off an early challenge for the lead from Picard before establishing control at the head of proceedings through the first turn in the $150,000 Feature over 1609-metres. "Todd McCarthy came out quickly from out wide with Picard and drew a metre or two clear so I just allowed Ignatius to muster and he shot through to hold him comfortably and he settled beautifully into his work," said James. "With that brief burn Ignatius recorded 27.1 seconds for the first section and then relaxed into the back with a 29.8 second effort to the 800-metre pole before I started to lift the tempo with a 27.5 third split and they were then struggling to stay with him so I just let him finish off strongly in 26.9 seconds." The Roll With Joe-Ashkakini gelding, owned by Lyrae Graham, strolled away to break the hearts of his rivals, scoring by 12.3-metres in a mile rate of 1:51.3, matching the time mile-rate recorded when winning the two-year-old division of the Breeders Challenge Series last year. "We ran home in 54.4 seconds for the last half and there was plenty left in the tank so its now on to the Breeders Crown Series, he's doing everything asked of him so it will take a good one to stop him," said James looking forward enthusiastically to the future. The Breeders Crown Final, promoted as the 'Race To Royalty' will be staged at Melton in Victoria on Saturday, August 25. To watch Ignatius obliterate his rivals in the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge Final on Sunday click on the link below. 2018 NSW Breeders Challenge Final  Shane Yates

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