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The rise of Red Hot Tooth continues. The four-year-old harness racing mare stunned a field of older, more experienced rivals to take out last night’s Haras Des Trotteurs Australasian Trotting Championship at Tabcorp Park Melton. Trainer Kari Males has had confidence in Red Hot Tooth the whole way through, nominating the daughter of Yankee Paco-Karaka Tooth for a potential Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star berth over summer. Last night, with regular driver Zac Phillips in the gig, Red Hot Tooth produced a faultless display from the standing start conditions to rate 2:01.0 for a comfortable 6.2m win over fellow mares Sky Petite (five-year-old) and Illawong Helios (six) in the $50,000 Group 1 over 2760m. The win was Phillips’ third Group 1 triumph in the last month. WATCH RED HOT TOOTH'S GROUP 1 WIN AT MELTON “It’s funny how it works. It takes a long time to get one and then I get three in a few weeks,” Phillips said. “She’s such a great trier. I was talking to Paul (Males) during the week and he said ‘if she trots to the front just go fast enough that they can’t go near you’. “The art of training is setting horses for races like this and Paul and Kari have done a great job with that over the years. No one works harder than them.” Red Hot Tooth booted well clear at the home bend and produced final splits of 28.8 and 28.4. She completed the marathon trip in 3mins 27.5secs. Race favourite On Thunder Road finished 10th, while two other horses well in commission that finished back in the field were Sunny Ruby (eighth) and Cruisin Around (11th). “I just can’t speak highly enough of her… she’s just a little superstar,” a clearly elated Kari Males said post-race. The win was Males’ 250th career victory. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Zac Phillips is one of the most popular young drivers in Australia and now he’s one of the most wanted as well. Phillips broke through for his first Group 1 win on Une Belle Allure at Melton last Saturday night and found the perfect way to celebrate … with another Group 1 win 30 minutes later on Red Hot Tooth later. Then, just for good measure, he backed-up to add the Wangaratta Cup aboard Four Ex Dan yesterday (Sunday). “It’s unbelievable. I’m still pinching myself,” Phillips said. “To win three big races across the weekend for the three stables who most support me is pretty special.” Although Une Belle Allure’s Need For Speed Princess final was Phillips’ first Group 1 win, he said Red Hot Tooth’s Group 1 Breed For Speed Gold final victory was “as good as it gets.” “Of course your first Group 1 is amazing, but to team up with Paul and Kari (Males) for that Group 1 with Red Hot Tooth was extra special because they have been there supporting me and giving me opportunities since I first started driving as a 16 year-old,” Phillips said. Rewarding loyalty also gave an extra edge to Four Ex Dan’s Wangaratta Cup win. “Adam (Kelly, Four Ex Dan’s trainer) is who I worked for when I first started out and his support has been there all the way through,” Phillips said. Sentimentality aside, it was Une Belle Allure’s win which was the most important in Phillips’ career. That’s because the three-year-old filly is part of the Yabby Dams “army” with trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll. With a lavish farm full of regally-bred young trotters, Yabby Dams is poised to dominating trotting ranks. “I’m good mates with Todd Matthews (who works for Yabby Dams) and he put in a word for me a while back, which led to me getting a few drives for them,” Phillips said. “They are already a big force and only going to get much bigger with the stock they have.” Une Belle Allure, one of a staggering six of the 10 runners Golino trained in the race, camped on the leaders, got into the clear on the home bend and nabbed favourite and stablemate Dance Craze to win by nose. Golino trained the first four home with Nieta third and My Chimera fourth. Adam Hamilton

A magical 35 minutes for Melton harness racing driver Zac Phillips also produced a mighty thrill for trainer Kari Males and owner Graham Bullock when Red Hot Tooth captured Group 1 glory at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Phillips first Group 1 triumph on Une Belle Allure was followed quickly by his second when he found the front mid-race and Red Hot Tooth put in a searing performance to win the $50,000 Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final. “Unreal, words can’t describe how this feels right now,” Phillips said. “It’s a little bit surreal, I think I’m going to have to get back into the drivers' rooms and pinch myself. Massive thrill.” They are the high emotions that were shared by Males, who was full of pride for her Yankee Paco four-year-old mare. “She’s an absolute little superstar, I just love her,” Males said. “She’s very casual, she’s like a kids pony half the time, she just plods around half asleep, but when she gets on the track she just does the job.” Nica Macdonon initially held High Gait and Red Hot Tooth at bay, with High Gait directed into the chair while Phillips waited and then had a second crack at the lead when Charming Lavra loomed up on his outside at the bell. “It definitely surprised me the one (Nica Macdonon) holding up early,” Phillips said. “I knew it got out of the gate good, but when Ants came (on Charming Lavra) I was confident (Nica Macdonon) would be happy to sit on me once it had done that little bit of work early. “Once (Red Hot Tooth) found the front she was travelling so good, when Jason (Lee on Heavenly Sister) got up outside her she was just on the bit. She just felt like she was never going to get beat.” After a 58.8s first half she peeled off a 28.7 third quarter and in the final straight she looked a class above, winning by 1.6m to Heavenly Sister with Illawong Helios 10.2m back in third. “She’s just a great little trier,” Phillips said. “When she’s in front she’s hard to get past. “Paul and Kari have been massive support for my career and this horse is unreal. She means the world to me. She was my first winner at Menangle, my first Group winner and my second Group 1 winner. “She’s a different horse as a four-year-old. It was always a worry whether she’d improve from a three-year-old and take the next step, but I definitely think she’s proven this time in that she’s done that.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A big camp’s investment and a young man’s persistence both paid off with Une Belle Allure claiming the $60,000 IRT Need For Speed Prince Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. The victory delivered harness racing driver Zac Phillips his first Group 1 success less than a week after his 21st birthday and capped a dominant performance by trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms. Having qualified six for the $60,000 final for three-year-old trotting fillies, Golino’s crew preceded to fill the first four placings with Une Belle Allure winning by a half-head from favourite Dance Craze, with Nieta 5.7m back in third and My Chimera claiming fourth. “It’s a great thrill,” Golino said. “We worked hard for this, it was a big night, we had a lot of horses in it. It doesn’t always mean that you get the job done, this is satisfying.” That it was his Angus Hall three-year-old who saluted was no surprise to Golino. “I thought she was our best last year as a two-year-old. She had a horrible prep, a few things went wrong, she got sick, she got kicked. We sort of rushed her there and she didn’t probably perform as well as we thought she could. “She’s come back super this season and she’s shown that again tonight.” Phillips guided Une Belle Allure to the front from gate three with Diz Luck on his outside when they settled before Dance Craze joined him at the bell. A 32.3 second quarter sured up the leaders’ control of the race and after a 29.8 third quarter they would have plenty left in the final straight. Dance Craze loomed in Gavin Lang’s hands but Une Belle Allure fought on and when they hit the line a half-head was enough to give Phillips his crowning moment. “It’s a massive thrill. I’ve dreamt of winning a Group 1 for as long as I can remember and to do it on trotting’s night of nights, it really means a lot to me,” Phillips said. “To Anton and the team, for them to give me the opportunity, I really can’t explain how grateful I am to them. “It just shows the quality of people they are, they do a great job with their team and put a lot into the sport.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Class Victorian harness racing pacer Five Star Anvil sounded a warning that he has lost none of the talent that entitled him to be a serious Inter Dominion contender last season by scoring an emphatic win in the City of Launceston Cup over 2200m at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston last night. The performance was seen as a warm-up for next Sunday's Group 3 Tasmania Cup in Hobart. After enjoying the run of the race in the one-out-one-back position the Adam Kelly-trained gelding claimed the lead at the top of the home straight and went on to score comfortably from last year's Tasmania Cup winner Lets Elope with Chopstix Boris a game third after training the leader throughout. Five Star Anvil was partnered by his regular driver Zac Phillips who has had a long association with the 10-year-old gelding. The Bettormack led from gate two and driver Todd Rattray ensured a solid tempo but he was the first beaten when the eventual winner arrived to take control turning for home. Lets Elope ran on well from back in the field and did enough to suggest he will be a chance to make it back-to-back Tasmania Cups next Sunday night. Listen to what driver Zac Phillips had to say after Five Star Anvil's impressive win in the City of Launceston Cup. Peter Staples

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

Local horses scored most of the wins at the well attended Warragul harness racing meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Longwarry trainer Lee Evison collected two race wins for a host of happy owners - with Expectagrin which scored its first race victory, and the talented pacer Mister Wickham. Fellow Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan was also in the winners' circle on the program with Ymbro Toto, which led throughout in her victory, giving ace reinsman Greg Sugars a driving double. Veteran Croydon horseman Mario Stella has long supported Warragul's meetings, and made the trip across a successful one when he landed a double with Feel The Buzz (driven by Matt Ablett) and Greenough (Zac Phillips). Clyde trainer Jayne Davies was another local to collect a victory with Mister Clooney in race eight when driven by Chris Alford. Melton couple Maree and John Caldow combined to win the Gippsland Business Centre Pace with Art Mistress, defeating locals Sahara Sunrise and Fairest Fella. John Caldow accepted a trophy on behalf of the race sponsors, who held their Christmas break-up at the trots. After the race Caldow claimed the Warragul track as "the best little track around", given the work undertaken to enhance the condition of the track surface and camber in recent times. Veteran Bendigo horseman Brian Gath had his first drive at Warragul for some time, and landed victory with Aitutaki. Gath also praised the quality of the revamped Warragul track after the race, saying that while the track has always been of good quality, the renovation works undertaken 12 months ago have taken the course to another level. Trainer/driver Lisa Miles bought home Tiavons Dream to a narrow victory in the Trotters Handicap - the square gaiters turned in a great exhibition of faultless trotting which was well received by the crowd. Wednesday's raceday introduced plenty of new people to trotting and there was a great atmosphere on track. Strong entries produced nine races with competitors coming from far and wide for a quality program. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials will be hoping to repeat the success at their next raceday on Tuesday afternoon, January 19.   Kyle Galley

Queensland continued on their winning way last night. A team of six from the sunshine state took on Team Victoria in a harness racing junior drivers challenge at TABCORP Park Melton in a two race series. The Queensland team was made up of Hayden Barnes, Brittany Graham, Dannielle & Narissa McMullen, Trent Moffat and Amy Rees. Team Victoria comprised of Josh Aiken, Alex Ashwood, Haydon Gray, Mark Pitt, Jason Lee and Zac Phillips. It was a clean sweep for the Queensland team. Heat one went the way of Dannielle McMullen who took the winning drive aboard the Peter Thompson trained Our El Fuego in a time of 1;57.8 in the 2240m event. Placing’s were filled by fellow Queenslanders Narissa McMullen (Our Summer Wind), Trent Moffat (Mister Rufus) and Hayden Barnes (Brite Spark Lombo). Our El Fuego was the rank outsider and returned a dividend of $61.50. Heat two went the way of Hayden Barnes (Jambiani) who defeated Trent Moffat (Bushi) and Brittany Graham (Clarenden Daydream) in a time of 2;00.9 for the 2240m journey. Following a countback, the individual winner of the series was Hayden Barnes who beat Trent Moffat. “It was a great result for Queensland with a clean sweep and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they showcased their talents on foreign soil. It was great to see them catch up with friends while making new contacts; hopefully this helps them going forward,” Queensland Team Captain Kevin Seymour said. “I would like to thank Harness Racing Victoria and all of the trainers who supported the series, it’s about gaining experience and making them better and this is a great opportunity to do this.” Seymour added. In three series to date, Queensland has a perfect record after inflicting defeats over New South Wales, New Zealand and now Victoria. The winning form of Hayden Barnes continues with victories at Alexandra Park, Auckland late last year with Millie Sampson and then again last night at Melton with Jambiani. Seymour is now eyeing off a series against South Australian in the coming months. by Chris Barsby

At his 10th country cup start this season, Road To Rock won his second trophy.   The Keith Cotchin trained seven-year-old edged out Macho Comacho in a thrilling finish to Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup – adding the victory to his feature race CV alongside his St Arnaud Cup triumph earlier this season.   The gelded son of Village Jasper/Diva La Diva ran to the front after Macho Comacho and Ardle McArdle both held interim leads early.   Ardle McArdle stepped strongly from seven to tackle early leader Macho Comacho out of three, working to the front when Macho Comacho galloped.   Macho Comacho (Chris Alford) quickly got back into stride and hooked off the markers to retake control at the head of affairs, Nathan Jack then seizing the initiative to grab the front aboard Road To Rock when Macho Comacho slowed, which pocketed Ardle McArdle (Amanda Turnbull) three-pegs.   Reigning Ararat Cup winner Savesomtimetodream with Jodi Quinlan aboard then made his move to work to the breeze, giving 2013 Ararat Cup winner Jukebox Music (Glenn Douglas) one-one cover.   Kotare Roland (Neil McCallum) was four-back the markers, Weallwantano (Matthew Craven) on his back, with Turnpike Cruiser (Zac Phillips), Hilltop Hustler (Michael Stanley) and Farmersntradies (Michael Sullivan) in the running line, while Narra Operative (Kerryn Manning) was second-last and Arber (Gavin Lang) made an uncharacteristic bad getaway and settled at the back of the field.   Road To Rock comfortably navigated the opening half of the last mile (31.4 and 30.4 for a 61.8 half) before Jack upped the ante when challenged by Savesomtimetodream down the back.   Road To Rock was still travelling well to the home turn though, shaking off the reigning champ’s challenge with a 28.8 third split.   In the home straight Macho Comacho angled into the sprint lane and charged hard, while Hilltop Hustler and Ardle McArdle were winding up out wide.   But the leader dug deep, Road To Rock holding off all the challengers to score a victory by a head over Macho Comacho, with Hilltop Hustler up for third beaten 3.5 metres.   The winner got home in 29.2 for a 2:02.9 mile rate (last half 58).   Ardle McArdle ran fourth while Kotare Roland showed he was working back into some kind of form with an eye-catching fifth beaten 7.5 metres.   Savesomtimetodream weakened out of the action late to finish sixth beaten 8.2 metres, with Weallwantano heading up the rest in seventh place.   Earlier in the evening father and son Neville and Clinton Welsh combined for victory in the Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup with consistent six-year-old Sundon/Wheels To Go gelding Wildenstein, who led and rated 2:07.2 for the 2570-metre trip.   Wildenstein defeated Death Defying by 3.3 metres with Maorisfavouritesun third.   Meanwhile, trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Gavin Lang combined with Our Petite Soeur to take out the Angelique Club Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship (18th heat) by 2.3m over So Demanding with Graceful Affair third.   ROAD TO ROCK’S COUNTRY CUPS RECORD Ararat Cup 1st Echuca Cup 3rd Boort Cup 4th Wangaratta Cup 2nd Stawell Cup 2nd Gunbower Cup 2nd St Arnaud Cup 1st Maryborough Cup 6th Kilmore Cup 8th Swan Hill Cup 2nd   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Former Kiwi five year old Monarchy/Rob The Nest gelding Just Leave (Nathan Jack) was gigantic in winning the Betta Home Living Cohuna Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2190 metres at the Shepparton trots on Tuesday March 31.   Stepping cleanly from 20 metres to settle nice and handy with Kains Boy jumping straight to the front from barrier four before surrendering to the Kari Males trained Secret Kiss which started outside the front line, Just Leave went into a wild gallop shortly after the start appearing to put himself out of business.   Gradually making up the lost ground to be last in the running line at the bell, Just Leave trailed the 30 metre backmarker Just Call Me Earl forward three wide in the final circuit before making the home turn very wide.   Producing a brilliant turn of speed on straightening, Just Leave charged down the outside of the track to record a runaway 3 metre victory over the pacemaker in a mile rate of 2-05, with Kains Boy holding down third after a cosy trip.   Raced by former Kilmore trucking magnate Jack Knight, Just Leave trained at Avenel by Wayne Potter had recorded three wins since crossing the Tasman.   The wraps were huge on beautifully bred first starter Showgun Thomas in the Betta Home Living Mansfield 2-Y-0 Pace over 1690 metres, however the gelded son of Bettors Delight and Forest Charm could manage only third behind the all the way victor Casino Tommy.   Trained and driven by Kilmore’s Robbie Walters, John Street North/Casino Princess gelding Casino Tommy began brilliantly from gate three to lead throughout in a mile rate of 2-02.6, defeating Combined Interest from last by 2.5 metres. Showgun Thomas (one/one – three wide home turn) was a neck away in third place.   Local Lemnos trainer/driver Mark Pitt provided a shock result to the Betta Home Living Finley 3-Y-0 Pace over 2190 metres, when Village Jolt/Our Beebee Pocket gelding To The Rescue greeted the judge in a mile rate of 1-59.6 at Supertab odds of $38.60.   Leading out from the pole, To The Rescue was restrained to allow the heavily backed Three Mugs In (gate five) to take over giving him the run of the race.   Using the sprint lane, To The Rescue finished best to score by a head from a death-seating Yankee Strutter, with Three Mugs In 2.7 metres away in third place.   Shepparton (Lemnos) partners Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack combined to land the Betta Home Living Echua Eureka Series (Heat 4) for C0 class over 2190 metres with Lis Mara/Gee Cam five year old entire Last Issue.   Pushing through from gate three on the second line to receive a lovely one/one passage, Jack not happy with the tempo sent Last Issue forward to take over from Blazing Orion at the bell and was never headed, winning by an easy 14.8 metres in advance of Tragic (three back the markers) and Blazing Orion which trailed the winner after crossing Ok Why Me prior to the bell. The mile rate 1-59.1.   Four year old Real Desire/Live Love Laugh gelding Hazpazzaz brought up two wins in a row when successful in the Betta Home Living Seymour Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1690 metres in a brilliant rate of 1-55.   Trained at Sunbury by Justin Livingstone for the Livingstone family, Hazpazzaz driven by Brian Gath starting from the extreme draw spent most of the race at the rear of the field, with NSW visitor Peking Duck (David Moran for Kim Hillier) assuming control running into the first turn.   Still a “mile” off the leaders on turning, Happazzaz weaving in-between runners sprouted wings halfway up the running to blouse the pacemaker by a nose in a tricky finish, with Glenferrie College (one/four – five wide home turn) a half neck away in third place.   The Betta Home Living Deniliquin Pace Final for C1 class which qualified in the heats held the previous Thursday, went the way of heat winner Nothings Final for Undera trainer Glenn Freeman and Avenel based reinsman Mark Pitt.   Given a sweet trip one/one from gate two on the second line following the favourite Indiana Angel (gate two) also a heat winner which shadowed another heat winner in Magic Moment Lombo (gate three), Nothings Final was eased three wide on turning and ran home strongly to register a neck victory over a game Indiana Angel and Tennaya along the sprint lane off the back of the leader.   The  mile rate a slick 1-55.9.   A five year old gelded son of P B Bullville and Timid Lady, Nothings Final has fronted the starter on 52 occasions for 10 wins.   Bendigo (Junortoun) owner/trainer Gary Donaldson has a terrific percentage ratio and landed the Betta Home Living Kyabram Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2190 metres with consistent six year old Art Major/My Gentle Persuasion gelding Bazzas Art in a rate of 1-59.   Driven by Melton based Zac Phillips, Bazzas Art was eased to the tail of the field from gate six, with polemarker Philtra Phella leading out before being crossed by  Stormed Out, while the hot favourite Smo coming off a second in the recent Echuca Cup was trapped on a limb from gate five before going forward to join the pacemaker.   Gaining a beaut ride home three wide on the back of Riseandriseagain in the final circuit, Bazzas Art cruised up to Smo which had led on turning in the straight, before coasting to the wire 5.8 metres ahead of Forbidden Forest (one/one) after working out of gate four, with Smo weakening to finish 2 metres away in third place.   The mile rate 1-59.1.   Punters went home on a much needed happy note when smart Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That filly Morton Plains trained at Shelbourne (Bendigo) by Larry Eastman scored in the Betta Home Living Cobram Pace for C1 class over 2190 metres.   Driven by Chris Alford, Morton Plains a stablemate of Victoria Derby winner Menin Gate raced in the same interests was first up since mid-January and raced in the open from gate four throughout.   Surging past the leader Bright And Sonny approaching the home turn, Morton Plains ($1.70) although under pressure kept on giving and giving to the wire, scoring by a half head only  in 1-58.7 over Just Knew (one/two) and The Pix (one/three).   Len Baker - Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Two of Victoria’s harness racing stars will make their Western Australian debut at Gloucester Park tonight. Top flight mare Bellas Delight will contest the Norms Daughter Classic, with talented reinsman Zac Phillips to partner the multiple feature race winner. A member of the Kari Males stable, Bellas Delight has received the visitors’ draw, which will see her begin from the inside of the second row. Successful at her last two starts, the daughter of Bettors Delight has settled into well according to Phillips, who is looking forward to the campaign across the Nullarbor. “I’m really looking forward to competing in Perth,” Phillips said. “It’s an awkward draw, especially over the short trip, but she’s in top form and will do her best again. “She’s settled in well over there and her work during the week has been solid. “It is a strong field, but with a bit of luck she will be right in the finish.” A popular driver in his home state, Phillips, unlike most of his counterparts, entered the world of harness racing with no solid ties to the industry. Widely regarded as a family-based sport, harness racing typically breeds generation after generation of participants, who usually ‘get the breaks’ thanks to their successful relatives. So to forge a successful career in the ‘game’ with no ready-made background is always going to be difficult. Although his father Lucky, has “knocked around” with astute horseman Robbie O’Connell “since they were kids”, life in a stable wasn’t a ‘given’ for Phillips. After spending the majority of his teenage years in Queensland, Phillips returned to Melbourne where he soon discovered his passion and talent for driving. “I was born in Melbourne, but spent a lot of years growing up in Queensland,” Phillips said. “Up there I didn’t have anything to do with horses, but once we moved back to Victoria and I started to go to Robbie’s with Dad, I just caught the bug. “As soon as I got my trials licence and starting getting out on the track, I knew there nothing else for me. “Robbie was insistent I had plenty of trial drives before I went anywhere near the races. His advice proved spot on as it gave me plenty of ground work during those early days.” Despite his unorthodox beginning, Phillips has wasted no time proving he belonged among the top concession drivers in the state. Although he finished unceremoniously last upon debut, Phillips quickly found his way into the winners’ circle, scoring with the O’Connell-trained Driving Withtess at Bendigo on July 14, 2012. Since his initial victory, Phillips has cut a regular path to the number one stall to cement his place among the leading concession drivers. During his first year in the sulky, Phillips registered a half century, followed by 44 wins last term. Citing a Group One triumph as his ultimate high, Phillips would like to train a small team a few years down the track. “Like everyone, I’d like to win a Group One,” Phillips declared. “Other than that, I’ve got no real goals. I just love getting out there and driving as much as possible. “Maybe a long way down the track I might look at training, but for now, I just love driving and hopefully I can keep repaying the owners and trainers for their faith by driving winners.” PAUL COURTS

Harness racing participants are widely-regarded as being among the most generous and that status has been proven yet again. Less than a week out from the TAB.COM.AU Charity Day, a host of star reinsman have declared they will donate their earnings from a specified meeting towards the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. Chris Alford and Shayne Cramp (Victoria), Luke McCarthy (New South Wales), Peter McMullen (Queensland), Ricky Duggan (Tasmania), Clint and Gary Hall junior (Western Australia) and Ryan Hryhorec (South Australia) will all ‘sport’ the foundation’s racing silks at a program of their choice and will donate all earnings from the day to the cause. On top of that, several of Victoria’s leading concession drivers have also dipped into their pockets. Josh Aiken, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan, Haydon Gray and Zac Phillips have joined forces to make a donation. Each has “thrown in” $200, with the collective $1000 - a great compliment to the recent $5000 from James and Son and the $1000 from Arthur Fullwood. Thrilled with the Fab Five’s gesture, event organiser Robbie O’Connell stated the friendship between the talented reinsmen will end come game day. “It is a wonderful gesture from the five of them,” O’Connell said. “One top of their game fee, they have thrown in an extra $200. “They may have come together as a group for this, but they will split up into three teams on game day, so I’m sure white line fever will creep in. “No doubt they will enjoy revving each other up on the field and give the odd hip and shoulder for the sake of it.” Other industry identities to support the day include Alabar Bloodstock, which has covered the costs of the footballs and netballs as well as donating a service to Grinfromeartoear, which will be the headliner of a major raffle. A service to Union Guy donated by John Campbell is also in the mix, with connections of Red Samurai also chiming in with a service to the former handy trotter. There are also plenty of prizes for the non-breeders, including a 10 kilogram block of Cadbury chocolate, Bolinda Publishing Audio Books and a Myer voucher. Yirribee Stud has returned with mugs for the Most Valuable Player in each code, while Tabcorp is back as the football jumper sponsor and will supply jumpers for the four teams. The squads will be assembled from four districts – Melton (Go Blues), Ballarat, Shepparton and Bendigo. Other sponsors include Seelite Windows and Doors, Kevin Riseley, Allan McNeil and Glenn Sharp. A small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) covers the costs of Sunday’s sausage sizzle, the games and the night’s function. Last year’s event raised $14,000, which is outstanding considering the foundation receives $18,000 from the government. Along with the fun and games, the function will also include a memorabilia auction. It was last year’s auction that proved to be the biggest money spinner for the cause. Paul Smart from Azuma International supplied the various pieces of memorabilia, which raised almost $8000 for the Chrildren's Tumour Foundation. Unlike 99.9 percent of auctions, Azuma International didn’t place a reserve on the items. For examples, a supplier will put a $500 reserve on a particular item, and should it sell for $550, the charity only receives $50! Azuma International, however, split the takings down the middle. Paul Courts    

A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ......................................................................   Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria

Charlie Attard, who has had many smart horses over the years, was successful with Major In Art / Golden Navajo colt Im The Boss in The Red Shed Pace for two-year-olds over 1609 metres at Cranbourne on Tuesday night. Driven by Greg Sugars, Im The Boss led throughout from gate four, scoring easily in advance of Major In Arms in a mile rate of 1:58.8. Gaita Pullicino landed the Ultra Signs Claiming Pace over 2080 metres with much-travelled seven-year-old Julius Caesar / Lavra Supreme gelding Caesar Supreme. Spearing straight to the front from gate six, Caesar Supreme ran his rivals ragged to register his 30th victory in 114 outings, defeating Cowboy Cadillac by 1.7 metres in a rate of 2:00.2. Old-timer Dartmoor (one/one – three wide last lap) finished a close-up third. Andrew Farrugia provided the upset of the night when lightly raced four-year-old Grinfromeartoear / My Minnis Folly gelding Sumo Grin ($36.10) greeted the judge in the Aldebaran Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2110 metres in a mile rate of 2:07. Driven by Zac Phillips, Sumo Grin starting from the pole stood flat-footed as the tapes released, settling three back in the moving line with Zoes Dream beginning brilliantly from 20 metres to lead. Sliding forward to be one/one in the last lap after Koko De Ville had eased away from the markers to face the open mid-race before galloping approaching the home turn, Sumo Grin raced to the front on the final bend and held a margin to the wire, winning by 7.5 metres over Ive No Boundaries and Framework Salute who were always handy on the pegs. Hopetoun Park duo Ross and Greg Sugars brought up victory number three with beautifully bred Bettors Delight / Misty Maiden gelding Mulgrave in the Cranbourne Trainers Bonanza 3YO Pace over 2080 metres. Sent forward at the start from gate four to lead, Greg Sugars allowed the well-supported Williamlee outside him to assume control, giving Mulgrave the run of the race. Using the sprint lane, Mulgrave was too slick at the finish for Fifty Shades (one/one – three wide home turn) and Williamlee, winning by 4.4 metres in a rate of 2:01.6. Melton trainer/driver Rod Petroff’s ultra-consistent mare McRita was a strong winner of the Dooza Sulky Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2080 metres in 2:00.6. A four-year-old daughter of McArdle and Jarita, who has now recorded six wins and 19 placings from 36 outings, McRita again showed her great gate speed to lead from barrier three and despite being pressured at various stages, dashed away on the home turn to score by 2.3 metres from Jeans Mattjesty. Daylesford husband and wife – Mick Barby & Anne-Maree Conroy – snared the ADE Turf Equipment Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2080 metres with ever-reliable six-year-old Blissful Hall / Go Bush gelding Sir Jaybe Hall, who chalked up his seventh victory in 38 outings. Given every opportunity one/one from gate four, Sir Jaybe Hall ran home nicely to gain the day by a head over Mister Clooney along the sprint lane after trailing the pacemaker Im Living The Dream which finished third. The mile rate 2:01.3. Jayne Davies kept the home flag flying when Mach Three / Atworthy Maid gelding Macworthy led throughout in the Condo’s Horse Transport Pace for C0 class over 2080 metres, defeating Wingofwaves and Miss Metro Glen in a rate of 2:02.9 with Chris Alford in the sulky. Veteran Whittlesea trainer Charlie Farrugia has enjoyed plenty of unheralded success over the years with a number of well-placed horses and he captured the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace for C1 class over 2080 metres with Courage Under Fire / Terrabeauty five-year-old gelding Terra Beau. Driven by nephew Darren Zahra, Terra Beau – first-up since January – led from the pole before surrendering to the sensationally backed Public Persuasion ($8 into about $3.50) racing for the bell. When Mor Laag moved to race in the open for the last lap after being mid-field and applied plenty of pressure to the leader, Terra Beau was able to ease off the marker pegs approaching the home turn and sprinted home stylishly on turning to score by 3.9 metres from a game Mor Laag and WillsSon (three back the markers) in a rate of 2:01.3. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria

The success story of this year's Young Drivers Challenge was undoubtedly the rise and rise of Rebecca Bartley. Over the space of three days the Congupna reinswoman, 22, became a household name in Victorian harness racing, winning the first four races in the five-race invitational series. And they weren't aboard odds-on favourites, in fact far from it. Bartley piloted two longshots to victory at Shepparton on Thursday night (Riviera Kiss $26.60 and Boom Boom Hall $18.80) before striking at enormous odds at Melton's Tabcorp Park on Friday night (Smiling Spirit winning at $54.30). To cap it off Bartley won the fourth race of the series at Ballarat on Saturday night (aboard Kankkunen at $10.70) before having to settle for fifth with Belvoirama in the last race to finish with a series points score of 46 - just four points shy of an unprecedented 50 points (the maximum a driver can accrue in the 10-points-per-win series). "She was the story of the series, that's for sure," said Ballarat and District Trotting Club CEO Paul Rowse. "By the time the series finished everyone knew who Rebecca Bartley was." Rowse described the Young Drivers Challenge as a great series and praised the Shepparton Harness Racing Club for developing the concept. "I'd encourage other clubs to follow Shepparton's lead and look at holding similar series in the future," Rowse said. "It certainly added interest to our meeting as we were the lucky beneficiary of the series' final." Rowse said any notion that harness racing was a sport dominated by males had long been debunked, with Victoria's driving ranks filled with top-line women's talent. "It wouldn't surprise me at all now if Rebecca can go on to achieve similar to what Kerryn (Manning), Jodi (Quinlan), Amy (Tubbs) etcetera have been able to do," he said. "It's a good news story for everyone that the girls are going so well in Victoria." Bartley thanked series organisers and her fellow young drivers in her victory speech at Ballarat. New South Wales based driver Todd McCarthy finished second in the series, 14 points behind Bartley, while Narissa McMullen (Queensland), Josh Duggan and Jason Lee all tied for third on 31 points. YOUNG DRIVERS CHALLENGE FINAL STANDINGS 1: Rebecca Bartley 46 2: Todd McCarthy 32 3: Narissa McMullen 31 3: Josh Duggan 31 3: Jason Lee 31 6: Dylan Ford 25 7: Aaron Bain 24 8: Josh Aiken 23 9: Aiden De Campo 22 10: Zac Phillips 18   By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The Shepparton Harness Racing Club, in conjunction with Tabcorp Park Melton and Ballarat, will again conduct their annual Young Drivers Challenge over three meetings, kicking off on Thursday May 29. The two races involved on the card will be the C2 to C3 for four-year-old and older as well as the C1 for four-year-old and older horses with drivers to be randomly allocated from the list of outstanding junior talents. Josh Aiken, Josh Duggan, Haydon Gray, Jason Lee and Zac Phillips will be representing their home state while interlopers Aaron Bain (SA), Aiden De Campo (WA), Dylan Ford (Tas), Todd McCarthy (NSW) and Narissa McMullen (QLD) all converge to try and take the title. In an exciting new turn for the competition, the young drivers will not only compete in two penalty free races at Shepparton, they will also take centre stage at Tabcorp Park Melton the following night. That will be followed up by the chance to compete on one of Victoria’s most popular tracks, Bray Raceway Ballarat the very next night. Shepparton Harness Racing Club Secretary/Manager Ian McDonald was thrilled with the opportunity being provided to those driving. “I think we’ve assembled the best young driving talent in Australia and it’s just terrific to see them get the opportunity to compete in the Young Drivers Challenge,” McDonald said. “This year we’ve added races at Melton and Ballarat to spice things up and it will give all the drivers a chance to drive on one of the biggest stages in the sport. “The fact that the winner of each of the races won’t incur a handicapping penalty just gives trainers the best opportunity to race for good prizemoney.” For more information visit the meeting calendar for the Shepparton meeting calendar here, the Melton meeting calendar here and finally for more on the Ballarat leg, click here. by HRV Media

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