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With the biggest name in Australian harness racing on his way, Saturday’s PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup is the talk of the town. Lennytheshark’s nomination for the Group 2 $60,000 showcase has further elevated Bendigo Harness Racing Club’s calendar highlight, says marketing manager Brendan Baker. “Since we tweeted (that Lenny was coming) and put it on Facebook we have had good momentum and a number of people have called up chasing details,” Baker said. “People around the course and up and down the street are all talking about Lennytheshark. He’s the best horse in the country at the moment, so it’s been huge for the club.” Lennytheshark drew barrier five for the cup – the eighth race on a 10-race program – and is fresh from following his Inter Dominion win with victory in last month’s Good Form Victoria Cup. “To give the people from the Bendigo area, up to Swan Hill and Echuca – people will come a long way – a look at Lenny is a big plus for the club,” Baker said. “He’s turned into a real people’s horse, which is all steering in the right direction for the club and Bendigo.” But, Baker said, this was not the Lenny show, it’s the pacing cup, and the superstar seven-year-old was but one of many coveting the prize. “You’ve still got Franco Ledger, a C22, HectorjayjJay a C17, Im Corzin Terror who won the cup a few years ago,” he said. “They will not just hand it to Lenny on a plate. It is a Group 2 worth more than $60,000 and they will make him work for it.” Lords Raceway will also feature a grand contest in the seventh race, the Aldebaran Park 2016 Maori Mile. Introduced to the card as a $20,000 race in 2010, the mile’s importance has quickly snowballed. “It’s grown from strength to strength since its inception and we are very happy it was elevated to Group 1 status this year,” Baker said. And, with the winner also gaining an automatic invitation to the Great Southern Star’s elimination heats, the race carries a field befitting its status. “We’ve got last year’s winner in Maori Time back to defend her title,” Baker said. “Glenferrie Typhoon, Andy and Kate Gath’s horse, is in great form, and local hope Claudys Princess is racing well. There is the New Zealand horse Quite A Moment and Anton Golino’s Duchess Ella.” Off the track the club will also have many offerings for what Baker called “our biggest day of the year”. “All year round you build up to your pacing cup,” he said. “Last year was the first time for this new management team. We learned a lot. “There are a few areas we were lacking in, particularly children’s activities, and now there will be a kids’ zone and lots of food operators. It will be 34 or 35 degrees on Saturday and should be magnificent.” by Michael Howard Fields for Bendigo, Saturday 13 February 2016 Form guide for Bendigo, Saturday 13 February 2016  

Harnesslink is covering the harness racing Australian Pacing Gold sale at Melbourne today and we have broken it down into four groups of 50 lots. This report covers the lots from Lot 51 to 100. After a very subdued start in the first 50 lots , todays sale gained some real momentum between lots 50 and 100. The sale took off when Lot 55 walked into the ring. A big upstanding son of Art Major from the 1:53. Julius Caesar mare Pembrook Caesar ($77,432) who is a half sister to the champion New Zealand pacer Pembrook Benny 1:53($907,890) the colt is heading to the All Stars barn in New Zealand having being purchased by one of their leading clients in Trevor Casey. It was a spirited and prolonged bidding duel before Trevor prevailed for $110,000. That sale seemed to kick the whole sale up a gear and from there the prices seemed noticeably stronger. After 10 passings in the first 50 lots, the number of passings dropped to just six lots from the second 50 lots. While there were no other six figure lots, there was a very strong market around the $40,000 to $60,000 bracket. The second highest price after the six figure colt was Lot 73. A Bettor's Delight filly from the 1:58.3 Artsplace mare Sapphire Lil ($58,223), she was knocked down to Nicole Molander for $62,000. Three other yearlings topped the $50,000 mark. Lot 51 - A Bettor's Delight colt from the 1:55.9 Badlands Hanover mare Ourbellabro was sold to Andy Gath for $52,000 Lot 81 - A Art Major colt from the 1:58.6 McArdle mare She's Got It All who made $53,000 Lot 89 - A Sportswriter colt half brother to Follow The Stars ($707,237) who made $57,500 Other lots to make more than $30,000 included * Lot 65 - A colt by Art Major from a 2:00 Safely Kept mare Radical Storm  -  $38,000 *Lot 67  - A colt by Art Major from a 1:57.7 Western Terror mare in Rhodium Castle which was sold to big spending owner, Merv Butterworth for $40,000 * Lot 69  - A filly by Bettor's Delight from the 1:56.2 Classic Garry mare in Sabette  -  $46,000 * Lot 72  - A filly by Somebeachsomewhere who is a half sister to Major Cruiser 1:56.2 ($56,970) who was sold to Emilio Rosati for $33,000 *Lot 79  -  A Courage Under Fire filly from the 1:56.7 Falcon Seelster mare Sheez The Barmaid  $30,000  * Lot 82  - A Rock N Roll Heaven half brother to Ideal Tyson 1:55.5   -  $40,000 * Lot 92 - A Art Major full brother to Art Shadow 1:57.5 ($114,448)  -  $46,000 * Lot 97  -  A Sportswriter colt from a half sister to Border Control ($515,435)  -  $35,000 * Lot 99  -  A American Ideal full brother to Ideal For Real $182,485)  -  $36,000 Harnesslink Media   

Harness racing records fell on a historic night at Tabcorp Park Melton , where Smolda claimed the grand prize and a champion trotter held off the young superstars snapping at his heels. Smolda slashed 1.1 seconds off Arden Rooney’s 3280m standing start track record, a mark unlikely to ever be broken having been the last standing start Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. And Keystone Del not only added a sixth Group 1 victory when he clinched the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, but he smashed his own trotting track record by 1.2 seconds. They followed the lead of Cold Major, who earlier lowered the track record for 1720m in the Bertocchi Free For All, taking 0.3 of a second off Smoken Up’s record, which had stood since February 2012. A major prize also went the way of Amanda Turnbull’s camp after the trainer-driver steered Tact Tate to victory in the Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, securing a place in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. “We’re very excited,” Turnbull said post-race. “It’s a really big thrill.” It was an unforgettable night to a close out a thrilling Summer Of Glory, which attracted big attendances and reaffirmed the sport’s champions. Few more so than Smolda, who followed last week’s close-run second to Lennytheshark in the Good Form Victoria Cup with a victory tonight, earning every cent of his stake in the $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup. A weight of money saw Smolda draw into $2.30 for the great race, but it was second-favourite Ohoka Punter who started the better, taking the lead while Smolda was slow away and had to grind early to eventually find the breeze. But Smolda’s trainer and driver, Mark Purdon, drove with confidence, pushing Smolda to the front with two laps to go. Come the final straight, Ohoka Punter drew off its back and the Kiwis went head-to-head down the straight, with Smolda holding on to win by a head in a record 1:57.3 mile rate. “This one’s eluded us, so it was nice to get it and be able to say we’ve done it,” Purdon said. Arguably the night’s most popular win came in race five, when Keystone Del led all the way for Brent Lilley, holding off Kiwi Speeding Spur, while short-priced favourite Monbet and well-backed Glenferrie Typhoon galloped late to rule themselves out. Victorious driver Anthony Butt said it was a “great performance” by Keystone Del, which “really dug in and the horses couldn’t pass him”. That winning feeling was also celebrated in the David Aiken camp, which savoured three winners with Juliette Bromac winning the Devondale Rising Stars Pace Final, Cold Major claiming the free for all and Quick Draft emerging in the Harness Breeders Victoria Ladyship Cup. The latter win was a great thrill for Luke McCarthy, who stepped into the sulky of the pre-race emergency after his previous drive, Nike Franco, was scratched. “It was a genuine tempo and (Quick Draft) just went really good at the end of it,” McCarthy said. “These mares’ races are always really competitive and good to see her get this one on her CV.” The victory qualified Quick Draft for the Ladyship Mile at Menangle. Victoria Cup winning reinsman Chris Alford delivered a 10 out of 10 drive aboard Dancingwithsierra to win the first race, the Gary Hoban trained filly defeating Rockstar Angel and $1.20 favourite Rocknroll Magic in 1:55.9. Almost El Eagle, who was cherry ripe for a Hunter Cup berth tonight but didn’t make the final field, proved his class with a big win in the Edgell Sidewinders Pace. Driven by John Caldow for trainer Steve Duffy, Almost El Eagle showed his customary dash up the home straight to overhaul the leaders for a 1:54.8 win, beating Desdon Murruffy in second by 2.7m. Well-backed Quite A Moment won the Fonterra Lenin Trotters Free for All (Group 3) for Greg Hope and Ricky May, while a big group of happy connections rounded out the night with The Storm Inside winning the Swift Signs Premiere Stakes for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. by Michael Howard

An enthusiastic group of harness racing owners, many of them new to the sport, have booked their chariot to Sydney courtesy of Tact Tate’s Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza win tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton.   The Amanda Turnbull-trained gelding by McArdle out of Tact Lizzie showed an electric turn of foot in the home straight notch Group 1 success, sprinting by Mark Purdon’s Itz Bettor To Win (second) to record a mile rate of 1:51.9 for the 1720m trip.   “We’re very excited,” Turnbull said post-race. “It’s a really big thrill.”   Turnbull’s excitement was only surpassed by the group of winning owners, who declared Sydney the next stop for the $200,000 Chariots of Fire.   The winner of the Bonanza receives an invite to the Chariots.   Tact Tate led initially tonight before handing up to Purdon aboard Itz Bettor To Win. This move pocketed Tee Cee Bee Macray three-pegs from the pole and Burnaholeinmypocket four back on the inside.   “It worked out perfect once he had that much gate speed,” Turnbull said.   Tact Tate has won five from five since arriving in Australia and the owners are having an absolute blast.   “It is a big group of owners and a lot of them are new owners, so that’s really good for the industry,” Turnbull said.   Cody Winnell

Tonight's $500,000 Hunter Cup looked like a much easier assignment for the champion New Zealand trained harness racing pacer Smolda who has been battling the brilliant  Lennytheshark in recent weeks. With no Lennytheshark or Beautide in the field, Smolda looked a class above his rivals tonight but as races can do Smolda was pushed to the limit to justify his hot favourtisum. As expected Ohoka Punter stepped brilliantly and grabbed the early lead for Anthony Butt and immediately made it clear he was holding the front when Messini and Chris Alford had a look for the lead. Meanwhile Smolda and Mark Purdon were working arounding the field and had a strong look for the lead as well but Ohoka Punter and Anthony Butt kicked up and held the lead. Five hundred metres later, Mark Purdon really put it to Ohoka Punter and this time Anthony Butt let him go as Mark was showing no signs of stopping the attack. Once in front Smolda kept clicking over those sub 30 second quarters and had most of the competition in trouble down the back straight the last time. On the point of the turn Ohoka Punter eased off the trail and looked a distinct threat but though he got up to Smolda he just couldn't get past the whole way down the Melton straight. Smolda just wouldn't lie down and still had a head margin on Ohoka Punter at the finish with the West Australian My Hard Copy fying late for third after having a soft run four back on the inner during the running. Smolda's run gained even further kudos when the time of 3:59.1 was announced which took nearly a second off the old record at Tabcorp Park Melton. That equates to a mile rate of 1:57.3 for the 3280 metres from a standing start which is a great effort while the closing sectionals were covered in 56.4 and 27.9 Mark Purdon was full of praise for his warrior post race. " That was a great effort tonight." " He was very keen out there and never really came back to me at any stage of the race." "He has a high cruising speed and with him over racing and running along like he was I thought he might be vunerable." " However he has refused to let anyone past." It was a great performance" Mark Purdon said. Tonights win was career victory number twenty four for the son of Courage Under Fire and took his lifetime earnings over the $1,300,000 mark. Mark Purdon is now considering weather to head to Menangle next week for a shot at the Miracle Mile with Smolda but is unlikely to make a decision until Tuesday at the earliest. Harnesslink Media

All harness racing pundits assessing the form leading into tonights $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton were in agreement that it was a two horse war. Glenferrie Typhoon from barrier 1 was expected to lead early and going by his previous two starts was expected to be very difficult to catch. The main danger was the star New Zealand four year old Monbet who after two sensational victories in the last fortnight was looking to cement his standing as the best trotter in Australasia at present. The script went out of the window as soon as the mobile gate left the start with Anthony Butt sooling Keystone Del straight to the front with Glenferrie Typhoon settling in the trail and Monbet settling in the open on Keystone Del's wheel. However Monbet looked scratchy in his gate a couple of times early in the race and driver Ricky May was happy to take a trail when the Kiwi raider Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie worked around to sit in the open with just over a lap to go. Going past the 600 metres Speeding Spur put it to Keystone Del and the pair drew clear a length of Monbet who started to trot very roughly, finally galloping and being retired from the race. Keystone Del and Speeding Spur turned for home together but as they did Glenferrie Typhoon also went into a gallop in the trail, extinguishing his chances. Under a hard drive from Anthony Butt , the Dr Ronerail gelding Keystone Del was able to keep a game Speeding Spur at bay down the straight by an ever reducing head with Arboe flying late to be only a half neck away third. The time of 2:41.5 for the 2240 metres was a new track record at Tabcorp Park Melton, a mile rate of 1:56 with smart closing sectionals of 55.9 and 28.1. Anthony Butt was full of praise for Keystone Del post race. " He has gone great tonight. " He was travelling well most of the way but Josh really turned up the pressure at the 600 metres mark. " I was waiting for Monbet to come out of the one by one but it never happened," Anthony said. Tonights  win by Keystone Del was his 33rd career success at just his 55th start and took his career earnings over the $860,000 mark. Tonights win was a timely reminder by Keystone Del to the young pretenders that he was not going to give up his crown as the best trotter in Australia easily. Harnesslink Media

Racing Victoria has been having meetings with thoroughbred trainers throughout the state to canvass their views on a proposal to implement lifetime bans for trainers found guilty of adminstering prohibited drugs to horses they train. The proposal first surfaced in a report produced by the Irish Thoroughbred Anti Doping Task Force “Illegal performance-enhancing drugs have no place in the Irish racing and breeding industries,” the task force said in a statement. “In particular, the task force supports the position of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities that the use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition.’’ RV chief steward Terry ­Bailey said on Friday he had read the report and he would table it for discussion at the next dug strategy meeting. He said he was waiting for an opinion from Racing Victoria vets before taking the matter further. "That should give us a better idea wether this is something that should be considered here,” Bailey said. “It would certainly put the responsibility on the owners to choose their trainers carefully.” Terry Bailey is very supportive of a proposal by Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent for the cobalt and bicarbonate levels of every horse in training to be published on an industry website. Harness racing authorities in New South Wales have been publishing lists of cobalt and bicarbonate levels recorded by horses for the past two years and Kent says it would name and shame trainers who are cheating. Bailey is being accompanied at the consultation meetings by RV chief executive Bernard Saundry, chief vet Brian Stewart and racing manager Greg Carpenter. Harnesslink Media

It was the horse no one wanted to buy as a yearling and the horse that almost died on the operating table as a three-year-old. Tonight, only 12 months on from major surgery, it may well be the horse that wins a Group 1 and books a ticket to the nation’s richest race for harness racing four-year-olds, the Chariots Of Fire. Tee Cee Bee Macray, who will contest tonight’s Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, is fast becoming a favourite of co-owner and breeder Ian Kitchin. “We are very fortunate we got him to the racetrack, because a couple of serious issues could have meant the end of his life,” Kitchin said. “The horse is a miracle horse in a lot of ways. A lot of these things come back down to the attitude of the horse itself.” Tee Cee Bee Macray suffered a bad viral infection in his neck early last year, which threatened to spread to his lungs. That spread would have killed him, but a “major procedure” was successful and after a stint on the sidelines he returned to racing last October. After a 10-month lay-off, Tee Cee Bee Macray produced four consecutive wins before a fast-paced third at Melton. “He’s not a horse that will quit on you, he’s been a fighter all his life and that’s something you bottle up and it comes out on the racetrack,” Kitchin said. The illness has meant the four-year-old gelding, which is trained at Alan Tubbs’ Bacchus Marsh stable, has to date been lightly raced in comparison to tonight’s rivals. His nine starts have produced six wins and $23,902, an amount that could be quadrupled in tonight’s $100,000 feature race. It’s a far cry from Tee Cee Bee Macray’s timid entry to racing. He was the first foal of metropolitan class winner Way Mya Macray, which Kitchin had sired by Ponder, a medium-priced US stallion that the breeder considered a good bloodline cross with the mare. “By being the first foal (of Way Mya Macray), I wanted to see what type of foal she would have,” Kitchin said. “The first foal has a tendency to be on the small side. I wanted to see what type of foal dropped before pulling the trigger on a bigger costing stallion.” At the APG sales Kitchin found little interest in the yearling and so it was led back into his float and returned to Macray Lodge. “No one seemed to like him and so I took him home,” Kitchin said, but he didn’t give up, instead organising a syndicate to race the horse with him. During a US tour, where Kitchin – a big Elvis Presley fan – attended Graceland in Memphis, he was drawn to the name of the King’s back-up band TCB, an acronym for Taking Care of Business. And the name Tee Cee Bee Macray was born. “He’s turned out to be a very nice horse indeed,” Kitchin said. After last year’s surgery, Tee Cee Bee Macray followed four wins in October and November last year with a short spell before returning at Tabcorp Park Melton on January 22, when first-up he ran into The Culture and Itz Bettor To Win. “I watched the race with a number of co-owners not quite knowing what to expect,” Kitchin said. “At one stage I thought he’s going to win this. He then tired off in the last 100m and I thought that was a bit disappointing. “Then I realised they ran a 1:51.6 (mile rate) and he was first up from a spell. It was three or four seconds faster than anything he’d run in his life. “It was unbelievable, and that’s the sort of level he will be running against in the Group 1.” The mile rate was just half-a-second outside the track record set by superstar pacer Smoken Up, unheard of in a C4-5 class with $6325 stakes. Both The Culture and Itz Bettor To Win are entered for tonight’s return bout, in which Tee Cee Bee Macray’s chances were done no harm when he drew barrier one. “It’s good that he is getting the opportunity to show his wares,” Kitchin said. “He’s a baby and is still on a learning curve. He does what he does at the moment on pure adrenaline and is just learning the craft as he goes along. “Everyone can see the ability, it’s just a matter of can he take it the next step.” The winner will be granted entry into the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle, which Kitchin said was one of “the great races you watch over the years and to have a runner would be incredible”. “That’s one of the big reasons you breed horses, to follow their careers like they are your babies,” Kitchin said. “I have horses racing in Western Australia, New South Wales, and I still follow their careers, it’s like they are vital cogs in your machine. “It’s a huge buzz, when I breed a horse and see it then going into racing. If it manages to win a Group 1 race it’s a fantastic feeling.” Michael Howard Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

A genuine harness racing rock star may be born tonight when a Victorian hope will join the big time. Yankee Rockstar returns to Tabcorp Park Melton fresh off a victory on Good Form Victoria Cup day, but on this occasion Emma Stewart’s six-year-old will advance from race one to the showcase – the $500,000 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. A multiple-time Group 3 winner and Group 2 placegetter, Yankee Rockstar returns to Group 1 racing for the first time since running seventh at Menangle in the Chariots Of Fire last March. Co-owner and Sky Sports Radio presenter Andrew Bensley said connections had long thought their pacer was bound for the big stage, but were aware of the magnitude of the step up. “We are certainly open-eyed that this is his first real go at the top level,” Bensley said. “He has been a pretty good horse, but we are very aware this is the ultimate test. He might still be six months away from being at his absolute peak, given this is his first time meeting all of the stars.” Yankee Rockstar will enter in winning form after upstaging heavily backed New Zealand raider, Itz Bettor To Win, in the first race at Melton last Saturday. “Saturday was thrilling,” Bensley said. “He went back from his draw and had one fantastic run from the 600m mark to beat Mark Purdon’s horse (Itz Bettor To Win), which had a fairly big splash. “The owners went off. It was one of the best races for where he was in the race.” With a 26.2 last 400m and a 1:52.2 mile rate, Yankee Rockstar brought more joy for its owners, who are rapt to just be in the running for tonight’s historic Hunter Cup, the last to be run as a standing start. “We are going in with an open mind. We are excited to make the field,” Bensley said. “He has always missed a couple of the major races due to little things with the horse. “I trust the judgment of Gavin Lang and Emma Stewart, who have always had a very good opinion of the horse. “The horse has been magnificent to all of us. The connections are confident it will be able to compete with the very best. Whether (tonight) is too soon or not we will see.” Michael Howard Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

Tonight will serve up the best trots race Melbourne has seen “in a long time”, says the harness racing trainer of local hope Arboe. Anton Golino said Monbet’s decision to stay on and chase the $100,000 prizemoney in the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton had added further fuel to the fire. Great Australian trotter Keystone Del will be second-up from a spell and eager to add to his Group 1 haul tonight, while in-form Glenferrie Typhoon has drawn barrier one and is expected to use its gate speed to lead. New Zealand raider Speeding Spur, which beat Monbet in April last year, and Kyvalley Blur are also rated highly and will be pressing. “It’s a cracking field,” Golino said. “It’s as good a trots field as I’ve seen for a long time here. “Monbet’s a star. He’s definitely a top horse, but this will be his biggest test. He’s beat up open horses in New Zealand, he’s obviously the benchmark right now.” Trainer Greg Hope said it was “astounding” what Monbet was doing at age four, having set alight the Summer Of Glory with a barnstorming win in the APCO Australasian Trotting Championship. “Most horses, when they are racing at the top level, need a bit of age on them really, but he’s stepped up at a young age,” Hope told RSN. “I think he can (take improvement into tonight). I think he’s going to need too, Speeding Spur is coming and Keystone Del and there’s going to be a battle up there.” Among those kept tight in the market is Andy Gath’s Glenferrie Typhon, an in-form horse in an in-form trainer. “His last two runs have been career best runs, and maybe this one will have to top them,” Gath said. “It’s a great field. We were helped by the barrier draw and he has pretty good gate speed.” Gath said Glenferrie Typhoon had matured nicely into the quality horse he knew he had the ability to become, but would face his toughest test tonight. Golino’s chance, Arboe, has been somewhat forgotten after a disappointing Australasian Trotting Championships, when expectations it would take the fight to Monbet fizzled in the first heat. Golino said Arboe “got a little fierce” in the lead-up, which affected her airways. “Hopefully it’s something we can just forget about and put a line through it. She is back to herself, training well,” he said. “She’s had nine starts and these horses are hardened, seasoned racehorses. Ability is not the question, but it is a tough challenge for her.” Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

Amid all the “Kiwi this” and “New Zealand that”, which has dominated much of the Summer Of Glory conversation, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley’s strong stable is happy to wait in the shadows until show time on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Champion trotter Keystone Del will attempt to unseat New Zealand raiders Monbet and Speeding Spur in the Settle Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. And 89 minutes later Messini will rip from barrier six to take the fight to Ohoka Punter and Smolda in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Lilley’s runners are among the few Australian chances at single-figure odds in the betting, and the Bolinda trainer was looking forward to having his chargers return to the grand stage. It will be familiar ground for five-time Group 1 winner Keystone Del, who Lilley said had “been going really well”. “We have kept him a little on the fresh side lately because it will be 12 or so weeks from the start (of his campaign) to the Great Southern Star and he has a very busy schedule,” he said. “He is the forgotten horse a little bit with Monbet, but it is a star-studded field.” Lilley said the attention given to the favourite was not misguided. “He’s all class Monbet. We will probably have an advantage, having been drawn inside him. “Anthony (Butt) is a very good race driver and will try and place (Keystone Del) in the running. But it is not just Monbet, it’s Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur is going very well and has a good draw. “There are definitely half a dozen chances in the race. It is never ever easy and you expect to get competition, that is what it is all about. This is one of the best trotting fields we’re seen over here.” There will be no excuses from Keystone Del’s camp. “He’s ready to go. It’s so hard to always peak with all the group 1s over the next five to six weeks, but he’ll be more than competitive.” Similarly, Messini is expected to give followers a good sight in the A. G. Hunter Cup, having performed admirably in last Saturday’s showcase. “He went really good in the Victoria Cup,” Lilley said. “He made an early move, then got held up at the corner and hit the line full of running. “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to this week. The 3200m and standing start don’t hold any worries.“ Drawn sixth, Messini could well be in the mix, but there is plenty of pace inside, not the least of all being Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ohoka Punter (barrier three) and Smolda (barrier five). “Some of the better chances have drawn the front row. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the first 100m, we’ll be up among it,” Lilley said. “In an ideal world we’d step to the front and stay there, but everyone on the front row is thinking the same. “If we step good and get to the front of the field that would be great, but it’s a 3200m race and so there’s plenty of time to work into it.” by Michael Howard

The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters heats back up again this weekend. And it heads to Australia for the first time this season with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix over 2240m at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. After first being staged in 2001 and won by star mare La Coocaracha, this race was made famous after champion trotter Sundons Gift made it his own when successful on four straight occasions (2007-10). Following the success of Master Lavros in the Dominion at Addington last November, the opening leg of the 2015/16 Trotting Masters, an all-star cast has been assembled this weekend in the mobile start feature. Many believe this is THE feature this weekend. With a perfect blend of proven against unproven, a reputation will be enhanced dramatically with victory. Australia’s best trotter Keystone Del is aiming at redemption after being forced to play the runners-up role last season with star Kiwi Stent proving victorious while his win streak of six straight wins came to an abrupt ending last start at Shepparton at the hands of emerging star Glenferrie Typhoon, a rival again this weekend. After a recent switch to the leading stables of Brent Lilley, Keystone Del will start from gate three with champion reinsman Anthony Butt booked to take the drive. Glenferrie Typhoon proved his recent Shepparton track record thumping was no fluke with another stunning victory last week in the Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters Cup for in-form husband and wife combination of Andy and Kate Gath. The New Zealand bred gelding will be looking for his third straight victory and will start from the inside gate. Also carrying the ‘Glenferrie’ moniker is the Belinda McCarthy trained Glenferrie Dreamer who chased home Monbet last week in the Australasian Trotting Championship Final. The Sydney trained trotter will appreciate the mobile start and will leave from gate five. Young Kiwi stars Monbet and Speeding Spur both contain ‘X factor’ coupled with explosive qualities and both command enormous respect. The four-year-old phenomenon’s are both unbeaten at Melton and will provide New Zealand with an excellent chance of maintaining the recent kiwi dominance in the feature. Monbet starts from gate four while Speeding Spur starts from gate six. Classy mares Arboe and Habibti will take their shot despite both coming off crushing defeats at their most recent starts. On each occasion, they felt the full fury of Monbet. The Anton Golino prepared Arboe starts from gate two while the Adam Kelly trained Habibti must overcome gate seven, the outside gate. American bred trotter Kyvalley Blur, aka ‘Mr Consistency’ is a proven big race performer at Melton and boasts excellent recent form with placing’s at his past eight starts. The Chocolatier stallion has drawn gate eight, the sole second-line runner. The Grand Prix will be a cracking event, it’s race 5 on the program and timed to start at 8.03pm local time. by Chris Barsby

Ohoka Punter’s chances of taking the Del-Re National $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night from his harness racing compatriot Smolda were given a boost at tonight’s barrier draw. Tony Herlihy’s New Zealand  hope drew barrier three, inside Smolda (barrier five), for the last Hunter Cup to be run with a standing start.  Geoff Webster’s Franco Ledger took barrier one and will be joined on the front row by fellow Victorian hope Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ballarat’s It Is Billy (barrier four), Messini (barrier six) and Webster’s other runner, Flaming Flutter (barrier seven).  Webster said “he couldn’t be happier” with Franco Ledger, who chances were greatly boosted by the draw, hosted by the Caduceus Club at the MCG. “He’s been going quite well,” Webster said. “I drove him at Shepparton and he felt good to me, and with that run and this barrier draw he should be a good each-way chance.” Driver Anthony Butt has held the reins for Franco Ledger of late, but will steer Ohoka Punter on Saturday night. Butt said in barrier three Ohoka Punter had “drawn perfectly”. “He needed to draw the front row and it has fallen well for him,” Butt said. Adam Hamilton of TAB.com.au said the draw had made Ohoka Punter favourite at $3, after Smolda eased to $3.20. That was short-lived however and, after the first few bets all went the way of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup winner, Smolda was drawn back into $3 equal favourite. Good Form’s Jason Bonnington said Smolda wasn’t the best from the standing start and expected a lot of horses would battle for the breeze early. “We do think that Ohoka Punter will lead and that probably Smolda will find the breeze eventually,” Bonnington said.  “It is the last standing start Hunter Cup as we know and anything can happen. We can make predictions, but we really don’t know what is going to happen on the first line.”  Bonnington picked Smolda on top, while Good Form’s Blake Redden said the barrier draw had convinced him to switch and tip Ohoka Punter to win.  Del-Re National Hunter Cup barrier draw: 1 - Franco Ledger 2 - Yankee Rockstar 3 - Ohoka Punter 4 - It Is Billy 5 - Smolda 6 - Messini 7 - Flaming Flutter 8 - My Hard Copy 9 - Mossdale Conner 10 - Im Corzin Terror 11 - Five Star Anvil 12 - Franco Nelson 13 - Star Chamber 14 - Jason Rulz by Michael Howard

The harness racing field has been released for the 2016 Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. The barrier draw for the $500,000 Group 1 will be held tonight at the MCG with live coverage of the event on Harness Racing Victoria’s social media channels – @HRVnews on Twitter and Facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria. The race will be run on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, on night two of Harness Racing Victoria's TAB.com.au Summer of Glory Carnival. The night also features the running of the $100,000 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza and the $100,000 Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. Details at www.summerofglory.com.au<http://www.summerofglory.com.au>   FINAL FIELD FIVE STAR ANVIL NZ FLAMING FLUTTER NZ FRANCO LEDGER NZ FRANCO NELSON NZ IM CORZIN TERROR NZ IT IS BILLY JASON RULZ NZ MESSINI MOSSDALE CONNER NZ MY HARD COPY NZ OHOKA PUNTER NZ SMOLDA STAR CHAMBER YANKEE ROCKSTAR Cody Winnell  

Well known Bendigo resident, former top class cricketer, footballer and now a member of the executive team of the Bendigo Bank Dennis Bice has been awarded Life Membership of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club. Dennis has been an active member of the BHRC for over 25 years He served nearly fifteen years on the BHRC committee with 5 year break when he moved to Queensland in his employment with the Bendigo Bank. On returning from Queensland, he was elected as a Vice President and then elected President in 2007. Dennis served BHRC as President for 8 years, stepping down in 2015. During this time Dennis led the committee and staff to many milestones which included: The Maori Mile for trotters was conceptualised, rising from Group Three to Group One status The Bendigo Cup was and now continues to be sponsored by Petstock Personal Digital TVs were installed on window dining tables at Lord's Raceway. The Race For Fun Club was launched with the Bendigo Advertiser He oversaw the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the opening of Lord’s  Raceway The Veteran Driver’s Challenge, now in its 6th year,  was created BHRC being awarded HRV Club of The Year BHRC developed and implemented a five year strategic plan Investigations into alternate steams of income were investigated, with a staffing restructure aimed at increasing non-racing income initiated Other highlights of Dennis’s time as President included Being a member of the Country Clubs Association representing middle-tier clubs With his wife Brenda, sponsored events and racing at BHRC through their Yorkshire Park Stud venture. Being a driver behind the conceptualizing of and growing of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile trotter’s race, from a Group 3 race to a Group 2 and in 2016 a Group 1 race. Dennis has a long family involvement in Harness Racing. His grandfather Stan Lyon was an owner/trainer, owning the FFA pacer Mystic Robert which won several races at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in the 1970s Graeme Lyon, Dennis’s uncle, is a trainer/driver with many successes including Inter Dominion final placed trotter Northsea Rover, and promising trotter MaybeToTheMax The Lyon family including another Uncle, Peter, have been involved in ownership of many harness racing horses. Brenda and Dennis are successful owners with a highlight being owners of Moonee Valley Cup winner Rare Courage, and recently have several fillies including Watch The Dream  racing. They are breeders and yearling sale vendors with Yorkshire Park Standardbreds at their property in Axe Creek. Dennis and Brenda will be guests at Lord’s Raceway this coming Wednesday, February 3, to celebrate the Life Membership. A race, the Dennis and Brenda Bice Pace has been named in their honour. Appropriately, nine of the ten starters are owned or trained in the Bendigo district.  

Tonight's $400,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton looked a two horse war between two outstanding harness racing champions in Lennytheshark and Smolda and thats exactly as it panned out. Smolda and Mark Purdon had drawn better at barrier four but have never been renowned for their gate speed whereas Lennytheshark and Chris Alford have always had gate speed to burn which lead most pundits to predict an early war between the two champions. The concenus was that whichever of the two champions made the front would be incredibly hard to beat overall. Smolda, Mister Mundaka and Lennytheshark all came out together as they rushed into the first corner but Lennytheshark had the momentum and made the front in front of Smolda and as predicted that was the winning of the race. Allowed to run the first 1200 metres of the last mile in a sedate 1:29.8,Lennytheshark sprinted quickly from the 400 metres and a last quarter in a smart 26.9 was enough to see him just hold out a late charging Smolda by an ever diminishing head to reverse the result when they last met in the Ballarat Cup. A minor highlight of the Victoria Cup was the performance of the Greg Hope trained Mossdale Conner who after settling near last early, worked forward in the three wide line and then finished brilliantly out wide late on a 26.9 quarter to run third. Driver Ricky May had been bullish about the Bettor's Delight geldings chances going into this week but was looking forward to the Hunter Cup even more as Mossdale Conner is a renowned standing start exponent. Lennytheshark paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.1, a mile rate of 1;55 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 26.9. The last two meetings between Lennytheshark and Smolda have proven one thing beyond dispute. Whichever of the two champions finds the pegs first invariably proves the horse to beat. There seems to be a tissue paper between them on performance at the moment which has made for some great racing in their last two clashes. Lennytheshark A race earlier, Ohoka Punter sent another warning shot over the bows of his Hunter Cup rivals with another effortless standing start victory at Tabcorp Park Melton in the hands of Anthony Butt. Ohoka Punter seems to be thriving on his Australian campaign and looms as a major player in this years Hunter Cup where the standing start and 3000 metres + trip will suit him down to the ground. Ohoka Punter Harnesslink Media

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