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October’s premier trots event will be named the Allied Express Victoria Cup after Australia’s leading independently-owned courier, freight and logistics company partnered the famed race. Allied Express CEO Colin McDowell said the company’s sponsorship of the October 14 Victoria Cup reflected its commitment to the sport and to greater Melbourne. “Melbourne is an important market for Allied Express and the trots is a vehicle for us to spread the business’s message,” Mr McDowell said. “The Allied Express Victoria Cup is a big race and it’s the night of the Everest and the Caulfield Guineas, so a lot of people will be thinking about the thoroughbreds and the trots on that day.” The prestigious race, which has been won by immortals Christen Me, Lennytheshark and Lazarus in the past three years, further strengthens the long involvement both Allied Express and Mr McDowell have had with the sport. The company, which employs more than 1500 Australians in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, has financially supported the sport for almost 50 years. Mr McDowell has been a trots driver for almost as long as well as a prolific owner and breeder. “It’s in my blood,” he said. “My son (Ben) and daughter-in-law (Kerry) do the training now and we have about 70 horses on the go and are always working to find that next nice horse.” Harness Racing Victoria CEO David Martin said: “Harness Racing Victoria is pleased to have signed Allied Express as naming rights sponsor for the 2017 Victoria Cup. The 2017 Allied Express Victoria Cup promises to be an exciting race.” The cup will be held on October 14 at Tabcorp Park Melton and remains one of only eight Australasian races that form the Grand Circuit. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has tonight announced the Group 1 Victoria Cup will be run on Saturday night, October 14, next season. The Victoria Cup will carry prizemoney of $200,000 – reduced from $400,000 in 2016-17, with the $50,000 Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters Sprint run on the same night.  The $50,000 Smoken Up Sprint will be held on October 6 as the lead-in race to the Victoria Cup, which in turn complements timing for horses wishing to participate in the New Zealand Trotting Cup and Inter Dominion. HRV CEO David Martin acknowledged the scale of the change, explaining that the reduced prizemoney would enable the provision of more races to the industry, and thereby contribute to a continuation of an increased participation rate evident in recent months.  “Importantly, the Victoria Cup will retain its Grand Circuit status and remain a key feature of our racing calendar,” Mr Martin said. Mr Martin also said the alteration would allow the Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star to become the headline act on night one of the Summer of Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, January 27. “There will be multiple Group 1 events on the first night of the Summer of Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton, so it will remain an elite program with the Great Southern Star the main race, but also featuring the Victoria Derby and the Ladyship Cup,” Mr Martin said. “Night two of the Summer of Glory will feature the Group 1 A. G. Hunter Cup and the Group 1 V. L. Dullard Trotters Cup.  The Ballarat Cup is the week before Great Southern Star night and it made sense not to have three straight Group 1 pacing events of similar distances in three weeks. We wanted to ensure the Hunter Cup attracted the best field possible as part of our Summer of Glory.” Today’s announcement means the Group 1 PETstock Ballarat Cup will be the lead-in race to the A.G. Hunter Cup, with Grand Circuit horses likely to take a week off between the two events. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Lazarus might be the best pacer in the world but he won’t be asked to prove it. Because trainer-driver Mark Purdon says his piece of pacing perfection will never campaign in North America, even though he could potentially dominate there, like he did in Saturday’s A$400,000 Victoria Cup. Lazarus turned the 2240m mobile into an advert for his future stud career, blazing to a 12m win without being asked for his maximum. His task was made easier by a second favourite Hectorjayjay being checked into a gallop early but it wouldn’t have mattered as Lazarus was in front of him by that stage and tore around the Melton track in a 1:52.5 mile rate. He becomes a rare four-year-old winner of the Victoria Cup and is now red hot for the A$1,050,000 treble of the Bonanza, Chariots Of Fire and Miracle Mile in the next month. Purdon believes Lazarus is still working his way back to his jaw-dropping level of New Zealand Cup week and if he gets there by Miracle Mile night on February 25 he could go close to 1:47 for a mile. It is a very realistic estimate considering Have Faith In Me set the Australasian record at 1:47.5 last season and Lazarus is racing to a higher level than his stablemate was then. A 1:47 mile in the Southern Hemisphere would put Lazarus in the all-time greats of the sport anywhere in the world and it would be hugely tempting to give him his shot at North America next year, where feature race success could set him up as a dual hemisphere stallion. But while that could be worth millions, Purdon says there is enough money to be won in this part of the world without the risk. “I don’t think he needs to go up there and risk the complications,” he explains. “He has some huge races to chase down here and his owners are loving racing him so we haven’t even talked about the stud stuff yet.” If he can stay sound and he doesn’t start thinking more about his love life than his track like, Lazarus could the horse harness racing has prayed for. He was the captain of a near perfect Kiwi team at Melton on Saturday, with Vincent, Motu Meteor and Jack’s Legend winning the three Victoria Derby heats. Jack’s Legend was patiently handled by Zac Butcher but still sat three wide for the last 800m and rated 1:55 for the 2240m, handing trainer Barry Purdon and Butcher as driver a perfect two from two for the night. Earlier in the evening Butcher snuck Rocker Band up the passing lane to win her first Australian start and now takes on Piccadilly Princess in the Ladyship Cup this Saturday, the winner guaranteed a start in the Ladyship Mile on February 25. Motu Meteor made the most of a trail to win his heat but it was Vincent who stole the show, sitting parked before smashing his rivals by 12m and earning $1.30 pre-draw favouritism. Among the older horses Have Faith In Me scored his first win since the Miracle Mile in a support race and while it had to be brave after sitting parked he still looks two or three lengths off the horse of last season, with the Hunter Cup on Saturday his chance to turn that around. For all the greatness of Lazarus perhaps them most heart-warming Kiwi win of the night was Sunny Ruby sneaking home in the Dullard Cup for Sam Smolenski in what was the first Australian start for horse and trainer. “That was a great buzz because obviously the Great Southern Star is the main race we are here for,” said Smolenski. “But I am loving this trip and learning so its a great experience.” Sunny Ruby will now head to this Saturday’s A$300,000 Great Southern Star against Speeding Spur, with Kiwi horses set to be favourites in all five group ones at Melton this Saturday. Michael Guerin

It’s a knockout. The triumphant performance of New Zealand pacer Lazarus in tonight’s (Saturday) Gr.1 $400,000 Eynesbury Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton had to be seen to be believed after he embarrassed his rivals in the 2240m harness racing feature. It was eerily similar to his New Zealand Cup thrashing back in November when successful by an ever expanding margin. The brilliant pacer joins only Sinbad Bay and Holmes DG as winners of the Victoria Cup as a four-year-old. Starting as a clear favourite after landing gate six, Lazarus ($1.50 fav) pushed hard from the gate and found a forward position early before Purdon allowed the Bettor's Delight entire to stride freely down the back straight on the first occasion to take the lead from Major Crocker with a mile left to travel. The lead time was covered in 44.2 seconds. With Mach Doro galloping wildly at release point and then Hectorjayjay also making a rare error, the race took on a completely different look in comparison to most speed maps. Many thought the race was over once Lazarus found the front. Lazarus travelled strongly in front and covered the first half of the final mile in splits of 30 and 28.6 seconds. Bling It On worked clear from the inside and moved around the outside while Allblack Stride also made a mid-race move before Hectorjayjay charged around to sit parked over the final lap. At this point, rivals were chasing in vain. Entering the back straight, Lazarus powered along in front leaving rivals starting to feel the pinch while others jostled for better positions. The third quarter was covered in 27.4 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Purdon lifted the reins and his star pupil left his rivals tapping out as he inflicted more pain with a scintillating final sectional. He finished off his rivals with a 26.4 final split. Lazarus defeated Major Crocker ($81.80) by 12m while Bling It On ($14.20) grabbed third a further 7.7m away. The final mile was clocked in 1:52.4. The race time was 2:36.6 – a mile rate of 1:52.5 which easily eclipsed the previous race record of Smoken Up who set a mark of 1:53.4 when successful in 2011. It also smashed the track record which previously belonged to All Eyes On Us at 1:53.2. “He’s a very special horse, perhaps the greatest I’ve ever trained.” Purdon stated immediately after the race. Lararus, Victoria Cup 2017 The victory was his third in the event following previous victories with Young Rufus (2003) and Brabham (1998 – trainer). The winning effort also elevates Lazarus to a clear lead in the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit with 200 points following his victories in both the New Zealand and Victoria Cups; his stablemates Smolda (120) and Our Dream About Me (100) are next. Perth pacer Chicago Bull has also amassed 100 points. Only two legs of the APG Grand Circuit remain this season. Next week, the Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National Hunter Cup takes place; the 2700m mobile event will be staged at Melton. Chris Barsby

Lazarus’ dominant victory in the Eynesbury Victoria Cup reinforced his star-studded status and capped a remarkable night for harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who registered a fifth win on the trot. The 12m win in the $400,000 Group 1 feature prompted Purdon, not one for grand statements, to share that Lazarus just might be the greatest horse he had ever trained. Purdon had reason to be chuffed after Lazarus’ win topped an incredible winning streak and has him seemingly set for further glory on Saturday’s Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup night. “I feel good. It’s been a great night,” Purdon said. “Unbelievable, you don’t expect to come here and win them all and to do it is a great feeling.” Purdon claimed two VHRSC Victoria Derby heats, including with Vincent who put in a Lazarus like performance, won the The SEW Eurodrive Pure Steel with Have Faith In Me and then drove Sunny Ruby to victory in the Haras Des Trotteurs V L Dullard Trotters Cup. But all the success would have been soured had Lazarus not sealed the deal in the night’s showcase race, and it was a win that never seemed in doubt. Lazarus showed gate speed to match the fast starters inside him, Major Crocker and Tact Tate, and so was able to glide across and then claim the front at the time of his choosing. Lazarus’ biggest threat, Hectorjayjay, had plenty of room to advance from the back row after Major Crocker’s blistering start, but a check with Cruz Bromac saw Hectorjayjay break and plummet to the rear of the field. It as good as put paid to Josh and David Aiken’s challenger and enabled Purdon to run free up front. “You can’t afford to get checked in this sort of race, it’s tough to overcome that against a good horse like this,” Purdon said. “Luckily (Lazarus) got out of the gate good and into a good spot before I decided to take the front.” After a 44.2 lead time Lazarus set 30-second and 28.6-second first and second quarters, the latter after Bling It On loomed into the breeze and then gifted that place to trailing Hectorjayjay. Aiken's was a brave attempt to put the second favourite back into the race, but Lazarus’ 27.4 third quarter and 26.4 final quarter put him into a class of his own, winning by 12m from Major Crocker, who ran an outstanding second and finished some 7.7m clear of third-placed Bling It On. But, in the end there was only one, Lazarus, the four-year-old Bettor's Delight entire out of Bethany for owners Glenys and Phil Kennard, Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley. “He’s a special horse,” Purdon said. “I said that to the owners as a three-year-old. Smolda got beaten in a free-and-all and I told the owners that Lazarus would have won that, and he was only three at the time.” Smolda will get his turn next week in the $500,000 Group 1 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, when he will take on old foe David Aiken. Purdon’s enormous Summer Of Glory could continue to blaze on February 4 with Lazarus to be an almost unbackable favourite in the Edgell Sidewinders 4YO Bonanza and Vincent likewise in the VHRSC Victoria Derby. Lararus, Victoria Cup 2017  Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Victoria Cup night is one of the biggest meetings in Australasia. Our Aussie correspondent ADAM HAMILTON takes a look at the key races on the fantastic card at Melton on Saturday night. RACE 2 – VICTORIA DERBY HEAT 1 Kiwi raider BE JACKS LEGEND (7) faces a challenge from the outside draw (7). He will need to be good to win. Think the $2 is no value. Plenty of handy Aussies in the race, including: SOMEWHERE SECRET (1) first-up; EMAIN MACHA (5), SA Derby winner OUR JIMMIE (6), WA raider IM ROCKARIA (8) and the improving WRAPPERS DELIGHT (10). Suggested bet: Something each-way WRAPPERS DELIGHT (10) at big odds. RACE 4 – VICTORIA DERBY HEAT 2 If Mark Purdon’s VINCENT (7) is odds-on to win the final, then he should be too good even from the wide draw. No stars amongst his rivals. BLUE MOON RISING (2) isn’t at his top, but begins well and has gate two. ROCKNROLL ICON (3) is talented, but first-up and lacking experience. YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH (8) was OK winning first run for Nicole Molander in much weaker race. Suggested bet: Trifecta Vincent to win with 2 and 3 for second then 1,2,3,4,8 for third. RACE 5 – VICTORIA DERBY HEAT 3 The most of depth of the Derby heats, but lacking star power. Plenty of chances so cannot take skinny odds Breeders Crown 2YO winner OUR LITTLE GENERAL (5) with lack of recent racing. Can win, but too short. Going with JILLIBY KUNG FUN (2). Loved his two wins back and drawn well. MOTU METEOR (1) is big threat from the pole. ASTRIDE (4) and BEACH SURGE (6) next best. Suggested bet: Have something on JILLIBY KUNG FU (2) and saver on MOTU METEOR (1) to upset the favourite. RACE 6 – DULLARD CUP TROT Love ON THUNDER ROAD (2), but worried about the draw is emergency comes out and he moves to the pole. Not super quick out and can get rocky if put under early pressure. No value as favourite. Like WA raider CARDIGAN BOKO (9) each-way value. His times say he’s flying albeit against rubbish opposition. SUNNY RUBY (4) is drawn to run big race. KEYSTONE DEL (10) is the champ but under huge form and fitness cloud. QUITE A MOMENT (11) and GREAT THINGS HAPPEN (13) have claims. Suggested bet: CARDIGAN BOKO (9) each-way for value. RACE 7 – PURE STEEL Pretty obvious HAVE FAITH IN ME (11) only needs to do everything right to thrash this bunch. Monster run after losing 80m with gallop at the start last week. Longer trip suits. Way, way too good. BERISARI (10) is a lovely mare. MAXIMAN (3) is capable at best. Drawn well and good trial with Guaranteed at Melton on Monday. MILLY PEREZ (9) next pick. Suggested bet: If you don’t mind skinny odds, the $1.50 or better HAVE FAITH IN ME (11) is actually value, RACE 8 – VICTORIA CUP At first glance the barrier draw looked to present the race to LAZARUS (6). But, dig a bit deeper, and the first 150m will be crucial to his chances. HECTORJAYJAY (9) will be desperate to follow through behind quick beginner MAJOR CROCKER (2) to try and settle in front of LAZARUS. That could well decide the race. To me, whichever settled in front of the other will find the front and win. BLING IT ON (8) clear third best horse, but inside back row no help (unless stablemate Mach Doro leads from the one and holds-up). Suggested bet: I’d rather than $4.50 or so HECTORJAYJAY and hope than take $1.45 or so LAZARUS. SUMMARY BEST BET: All-up – R4 n7 Vincent into R7 n11 Have Faith In Me ($1.90 all-up) BEST VALUE: Jilliby Kung Fu (R5, n2) at $4.50 or better BEST ROUGHIE: Cardigan Boko (R6, n9) currently $12 available HRNZ NEWS

Josh Aiken has heard all the theories on how Hedctorjayjay can down Kiwi pacing hero Lazarus in the A$400,000 Victoria Cup. He just isn’t sure they are right. The Victorian reinsman isn’t conceding Saturday night’s spectacular at Melton to the hot favourite but he says he is relying on his fellow Aussie drivers going nuts early to help him. Aiken and Hectorjayjay have become the most dominant pair in Australian grand circuit pacing but have yet to snare their really big win, being outstayed by Smolda in the Inter Dominion final. Their chances of revenge on the All Stars stable this week took a blow when Hectorjayjay drew two on the second line and Lazarus drew the front line, logic suggesting the Kiwi has a great shot at the lead. Then the Australian media started to suggest Hectorjayjay may actually be able to push through from the second line early and get in front of Lazarus, with the believers backing Hectorjayjay in from $5 to $4. But even the aggressive young Aiken doesn’t hold much hope of that actually happening. “It would be nice if it did but to be honest I can’t see us getting in front of him early,” said Aiken. “With horses and drivers this good the gaps don’t come easily early and I think we more likely to end up three back on the outer. “But we can still win from there. There is a lot of gate speed right across the front line and if they all come off hard then the first 400m could be really fast. “That gives us a chance of getting them late.” Backing Hectorjayjay to beat Lazarus won’t feel quite as comfortable in that scenario, especially as no horse has ever run past Lazarus in a race. So expect the favourite to keep working forward out wide and if he is able to get the lead, which looks likely with those inside him hardly proven grand circuit performers, then he should win. Lazarus’s stablemates Vincent and Have Faith In Me only have to perform anywhere near their best to win too and Jack’s Legend is good enough to overcome his wide draw in the first Victoria Derby heat but his $2 fixed quote is too short. Making money off the Kiwis won’t be easy but the best value option for loyal punters is Sunny Ruby in the Dullard Cup. The Australian trotters are not super sharp and favourite On Thunder Road is not ideally suited by the ace draw so if Sunny Ruby can work forward to the marker pegs she will be hard top catch, especially after pleasing in a trial at Melton on Tuesday. Michael Guerin

Trots owners will have the best seat in the house at the Eynesbury Victoria Cup this Saturday night. The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Own the Moment VIP Enclosure will once again be in operation in prime position along the home straight at Tabcorp Park Melton. Owners and a guest are invited to enjoy the night trackside with complimentary finger food and other delicious treats available and live acoustic music between races. "It's going to be a fantastic atmosphere," HRV Owners Manager Tori Glenister said. "The Own the Moment VIP Enclosure was a hit at Breeders Crown and we received really positive feedback from the owners who attended. Enhancing the ownership experience at the track is a key strategy for HRV." Owners will also receive drink vouchers redeemable in the marquee and an exclusive Own the Moment glass of Chandon. The Own the Moment VIP Enclosure will also be in operation at Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup night next Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton. Visit   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER  

The $400,000 Group 1 Eynesbury Victoria Cup is the next scheduled stop for exciting harness racing five-year-old Cruz Bromac after his all-the-way Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup win yesterday. Moments after his 4.7-metre victory over gun mare Berisari in the south-west Victoria club’s annual pacing feature, Braun said  Cruz Bromac (Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender) would be set for the Summer of Glory’s night one jewel on Saturday, January 28, at Tabcorp Park Melton. Driven by Chris Alford, Cruz Bromac toyed with his rivals yesterday to lead from barrier three, delivering Braun back-to-back Hamilton Cups, the Lara horseman having won the race last year with Im Corzin Terror. Cruz Bromac rated 1:57.3 for the 2660-metre trip, reeling off sectionals of 30.4secs, 30.3secs, 27.5secs and 27.3secs. Braun said Cruz Bromac, a winner of 12 of his 21 starts for stakemoney in excess of $152,000, was still learning the caper at the top level but was an exciting prospect moving forward. “I’ve always said I’ve got a big opinion of him,” Braun said. “He’s still got plenty to learn. He’s a big baby out there. He’s very immature and plays around.” Alford said Cruz Bromac travelled sweetly in the run yesterday and added he was confident Cruz Bromac would continue to improve as he matures. “If you have a look through the other runners in the field today they’ve all had plenty of starts, but he’s only had 21. He’s still learning. He’s untapped really at this level and he’ll keep getting better.” Yesterday’s win moved Cruz Bromac into outright third place on the $25,000 Own the Moment Trots Country Cups Championship ladder, two points behind Hectorjayjay and one behind Major Secret. The winner of the Trots Country Cups Championship at the end of the Country Cups season picks up $25,000, with $15,000 going to the winning connections and $10,000 to the winning trainer. Six-year-old mare Berisari from the Emma Stewart stable was game in second place yesterday and will likely head towards the $100,000 Alabar Ladyship Cup on Hunter Cup Night (which doubles as a qualifier for the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle). Idea Success was beaten 7.9m by the winner in third place for reinsman Grant Campbell, that six-year-old from the Kerryn Manning camp at Great Western now in equal fourth place for the Trots Country Cups Championship on six points. Meanwhile, Matthew Craven prepared El Paco (Yankee Paco-Kellybrooke) scored a tough win in the Mountain View Stud Hamilton Trotters Cup over 2660m. Driven by Glen Craven, El Paco moved to the breeze in the early stages of the race outside favourite and stablemate Uncas. El Paco softened up the leader during the third quarter, applying the pressure for a 28.1secs split, and kicked to a clear lead at the top of the straight before fending off fast-finishing Zedalite (Rod Petroff) in second, with Ainthatrightmacca third beaten 4.1 for Denbeigh Wade. “This is a terrific result for the stable and I’m really thankful for the whole team and the work they put in,” Matt Craven said post-race. “(El Paco) had run a nice race off 30m in Adelaide last week but wasn’t able to get the job done there, so to win today and for mum to own this one is pretty special.” El Paco is likely to head to Sydney to contest the NSW carnival features, with Craven saying “he is probably just a rung below the really top ones in Victoria”. The Hamilton Club slashed admission costs and had local market traders on track in a bid to attract new people to their big day. It worked, a strong crowd enjoying the action throughout the eight-race card, with plenty of positive feedback coming from happy patrons. The Trots Country Cups spotlight turns to Ballarat now for the running of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup meeting on Saturday night. Check out for the videos. By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

TOP Aussie harness racing trainer David Aiken has given long range punters a huge “leg-up” by outlining his plans for stable stars Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. The glamour pair – Australia’s two best pacers – are back in Victoria and enjoying some rejuvenation at Peter Clarke’s water-walker in in Murchison before returning to Aiken’s nearby Shepparton stables next week. “It’s a brutal program and the good horses can’t run in all the good races, so you have to make a plan,” he said. “It’s a rough plan at this stage because I haven’t worked through it with all the connections, but I think we will target the Victoria Cup (January 28) with Hectorjayjay and the Hunter Cup (February 4) with Lennytheshark.” On the way to their respective targets, Hectorjayjay looks set to tackle the Shepparton Cup on January 14 with Lennytheshark to head to the Ballarat Cup on January 21. Lennytheshark’s program puts him on the same course as his arch-rival Smolda. While Hectorjayjay will lock horns with Lazarus and others in the Victoria Cup. Aiken said his stars would then both head to NSW for the Miracle Mile. In an extraordinarily open and honest assessment, Aiken conceded Lazarus was the best horse in Australasia right now, not one of his pair. “I said to Mark after the NZ Cup that I thought Lazarus could be the best horse in the world right now. I think he could North America’s best,” Aiken said. “What he did that day (NZ Cup) was simply amazing. He’s freakish that horse. “He’s the one we all have to beat in the Victoria Cup and Miracle Mile.” Asked which of his pair would have the best chance of testing Lazarus in the Miracle Mile, Aiken quickly said Hectorjayjay. “He’s got incredible speed Hectorjayjay and he runs that speed to easily,” he said. “He’s better suited to a Miracle Mile than Lenny and with the right run I think he can make a race of it with Lazarus. “I was really proud of him in defeat in Perth. If the leader hadn’t choked-down, I think he’d have won and 2900m certainly isn’t Hector’s most suitable distance.” Adam Hamilton

Lazarus was installed as a $2.50 favourite to win the Eynesbury Victoria Cup and Lennytheshark a $3.30 favourite to claim the Del-Re National Hunter Cup, when released its harness racing Summer Of Glory markets today. Leading New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon's superstar four-year-old, Lazarus, separated himself from the pack in the New Zealand Trotting Cup, prompting TAB bookies to favour the Bettors Delight young gun for the $400,000 Group 1 feature, ahead of David Aiken's pair Hectorjayjay ($3.40) and reigning champ Lennytheshark ($4.50). Purdon's other prominent entrant and recent Perth Inter Dominion winner Smolda is considered a $15 shot for the Victoria Cup, but is behind only Lennytheshark at $3.80 over the longer Hunter Cup distance, which he won last year. Hectorjayjay is on the next line of betting at $4. CLICK HERE FOR THE EYNESBURY VICTORIA CUP MARKET CLICK HERE FOR THE DEL-RE NATIONAL HUNTER CUP MARKET Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The $400,000 Victoria Cup has a new sponsor. Eynesbury has backed the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Summer of Glory night one jewel, the January 28 race to be known as the Eynesbury Victoria Cup. “Eynesbury is delighted to put its name to such an iconic event as the Victoria Cup,” Eynesbury General Manager Fred Blevin said. “Our sponsorship of the Victoria Cup in late January will launch an exciting year ahead for Eynesbury with the release of more than 120 house and land packages nestled around a stunning 18-hole golf course.” Interim HRV General Manager Commercial Ryan Stanaway said the announcement was “an ace” for Australasia’s premier summer trots carnival. “HRV has a long and strong relationship with Eynesbury and for them to be coming to the fore and driving the Eynesbury Victoria Cup is a real ace for the trots industry,” Mr Stanaway said. The Summer of Glory is a $1.87million two-night trots spectacular at Victoria’s metropolitan home of harness racing, Tabcorp Park Melton. Night one on Saturday, January 28, is headline by the Eynesbury Victoria Cup (Group 1) but also features heats of the VHRSC Victoria Derby – Australia’s premier three-year-old colts and geldings’ pacing event, the Haras Des Trotteurs V. L. Dullard Trotters Cup (Group 1), the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship (Group 2) and the Pure Steel. The second night, on Saturday, February 4, features the $500,000 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup (Group 1), the $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star (Group 1), the Alabar Ladyship Cup (Group 1), the Edgell Sidewinders 4YO Bonanza (Group 1), the VHRSC Victoria Derby Final (Group 1), the Caboolture Cheese Rising Stars Pace Final (Group 3), the Bertocchi Pacers Free-for-All (Group 3) and the Nestle Vulcan Trotters Free-for-All (Group 3). WATCH OUR LOVE THE SUMMER – LOVE THE TROTS VIDEO For bookings or more information visit Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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

Harness racing owner Martin Riseley is living the dream and enjoying every minute of it. When his champion pacer Lennytheshark won last month’s Inter Dominion Grand Final in Perth Riseley realised a lifelong dream, but the euphoria will continue tomorrow night at Tabcorp Park Melton as the 2016 Sumer of Glory gets under way. It is Good Form Victoria Cup night and Lennytheshark highly fancied by punters and bookies alike in the $400,000 Group 1 feature race. “We’re enjoying every bit of it … he’s the greatest horse I’ve ever been involved with without a doubt,” Riseley told RSN Breakfast this morning. Riseley, who races Lennytheshark in partnership with his father Kevin, said the horse was purchased as a weanling. “They’re all champions before they get to the track,” he said of his babies. “We always hold high hopes and Lenny was no different to that.” But how did the gun pacer with the catchy name come to be called Lennytheshark? “My eldest boy Sam, dad and me would go around and feed the mares and the foals and at that stage Lenny was always just ‘Sharky’, being by Four Starzzz Shark (Lennytheshark’s sire). “After a few months of that, Sam would have only been three or four, he piped up in the ute and said: ‘It isn’t Sharky, it’s Lenny the Shark’, and he went on to explain to us about the Fish Tales movie he watches and how Lenny the Shark was on that.” Now Riseley’s kids have their hair done up like a shark’s fin at the races and carry shark mascots in support of their champion, who has netted almost $1.5million in prizemoney with 24 wins from 46 starts to date. “It’s all still a bit surreal,” he said of the whole experience. Want to find out more about ownership? Visit the owners booth near the raceday office on Good Form Victoria Cup night at Tabcorp Park Melton or email HRV Ownership Manager Tori Glenister.  Cody Winnell

If you are wondering whether Smolda can make the most of his barrier draw advantage over Lennytheshark in tomorrow night’s $400,000 Victoria Cup you are not alone. Harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon would love to know, too. Smolda has barrier four in the 2240m mobile and if he can beat Lennytheshark to the marker pegs and control the race it will be a huge advantage. But if Lenny, drawn barrier six, crosses him then he becomes the horse to beat. Kiwi trainer Purdon realises the equation could be that simple so says he will be doing everything he can to reach the front. “But whether we can do that, I honestly don’t know,” says Purdon. “I can’t remember the last time we asked him to go hard off the gate but I realise we have to this week. “So I will give him a brisk warm-up and get his mind on the job and I am sure he will leave pretty quickly. “But whether that will be quick enough to hold Lenny, I don’t know. “And if he gets in front of us then he will be very hard to catch.” The pair quinellaed the Ballarat Cup last Saturday, with Smolda leading and just holding out the Victorian pacer, who was fresh up since winning the Inter Dominion sitting parked in Perth on December 13 and ran him close after sitting parked. Lennytheshark is likely to take more improvement out of that race and has an exceptional Melton record so the first 10 strides of the race could decide it, with all other drivers on the front line likely to hand up to one of the favoured pair. Purdon won’t have any such early worries with Lazarus in the $200,000 Victoria Derby, with the superstar three-year-old having to settle early from a second line draw before attacking. “It is quite a good Derby with plenty of depth but I am not too worried about the draw because he is a very good horse.” If Lazarus has to sit parked he will still probably win so getting caught up in traffic three wide looks his biggest concern. With Ohoka Punter is hotly favoured in the standing start feature tomorrow night, The Pure Steel so it could be an epic night for the Kiwis, rounded out by Monbet in the $50,000 Australasian Trotting Champs. He has a 20m handicap but the final is missing series second favourite Arboe and most of the other fancies have drawn the second line, meaning Monbet should get a nice tow into the race. by Michael Guerin Harness Racing Victoria

The horses that ran 1-2 in the PETstock Ballarat Cup last Saturday night, Smolda and Lennytheshark, have both picked up frontline draws for Saturday night’s harness racing rematch in the $400,000 Good Form Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. David Aiken-trained Lennytheshark drew barrier seven, meaning he will start outside the front line in the 2240m race, while Smolda, from the Mark Purdon stable, has barrier four. Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter pulled the pole, gate one, while Messini will come out of gate two and Franco Nelson gate three. Tough speedster Mister Mundaka has barrier five for trainer Andy Gath, while first emergency – should he gain a run – Hectorjayjay will come out the six-gate. Hotasel is drawn for a soft trail along the pegs, barrier eight, with Major Crocker to come out of nine, Bling It On barrier 10, Mossdale Conner 11, It Is Billy 12 and My Hard Copy 13. The draw for the VHRSC Victoria Derby was also held at this morning’s function at Eynesbury Golf Course with New Zealand star Lazarus drawing barrier 11. Other heat winners Dont Hold Back and Sprinter picked up front-line draws (gates five and seven respectively). The Good Form Victoria Cup will be Race 7 at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night (9.30pm), while the VHRSC Victoria Derby will be run at 8.32pm. The APCO Australasian Trotting Championship Final is the third Group 1 race on a packed program, Race 8 at 10pm, and features New Zealand star Monbet as a short-priced favourite despite a 20-metre handicap. Click here to see the full fields for Good Form Victoria Cup Night Harness Racing Victoria

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