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If you haven't inked Red Hot Tooth into your black book as an out and out star, you're overdue. The explosive Victorian torched her rivals in yesterday's Group 2 at Menangle, gun reinsman Zac Phillips expertly guiding his favourite trotting mare through the mile. This day is always a cavalcade of stars, with beautifully bred pacers glistening in the winter sun as the trots focus heads to Menangle for the Alabar sponsored Breeders Challenge finals. But amid the precocious pacers the Victorian trotter landed every punch she threw in the $30,000 Group 2 Majestic Son Four and Five-Year-Old Final. Immediately off the arm Red Hot Tooth grabbed the advantage, the four-year-old mare shimmying straight to the pegs in front. Once she's got open space ahead, this Kari Males-trained daughter of Yankee Paco seldom relents. And so it was here, Red Hot Tooth navigating the mile trip in 1min 57secs, eclipsing her previous best mark at Menangle set exactly 12 months ago in the Breeders Final by three-tenths of a second. "Paul and Kari (Males) have done such a great job in managing her and looking after her. I think they're reaping the rewards of their patience with her through her three-year-old year and not over-racing her. I think she's going to turn into a great Grand Circuit horse," Phillips said. Hear from Zac Phillips on TrotLine podcast: http://bit.ly/2u5cBW8   Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)  

A terrific Zac Phillips drive and a terrific horse combined to win a heck of a race for Anton Golino’s trotting team, adding the Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks to the mantelpiece. Only a fortnight after claiming the New South Wales equivalent, Une Belle Allure was advanced from a difficult draw to produce a ripping win by 1.9m from brave maiden Four Walls. “She’s just keeps getting better and better as the days go by,” Phillips said. “To the team at Anton’s, they have done a great job with this filly. She’s had her fair share of problems over the last few months and hasn’t been trotting the best. To get her right on a night like tonight is a real credit to them.” An early war between Kinvara Sue and Kyvalley Kyrie not only saw the latter break but the former – a heavily-backed $1.95 favourite – unsettled and appearing to overrace early. Phillips had placed three-back the outside from the widest back row draw and advanced on the final lap to sit outside Kinvara Sue, with Une Belle Allure soon claiming the front as her stablemate tired. Matt Craven’s Four Walls was the best of the challenges and loomed likely come the final straight, but Une Belle Allure had all the answers and claimed the Group 1 $60,000 prize. “She had to do a bit of work and was a bit of a sitting shot for those back in the field, but to her credit she just kept digging deep and I still don’t think we have found the bottom of her,” Phillips said. “Anton’s always had the opinion that she’s pretty good, it just took a little while for the penny to drop. He was patient enough with her and is starting to reap the rewards of that now.” It’s also great reward for the investment of Yabby Dam Farms' Pat Driscoll, owner and breeder of Une Belle Allure. “It’s a great honour to win such a prestigious event,” Mr Driscoll said. “As a breeder, you really dream of winning these types of races, it’s fantastic to have such a terrific filly. I’m really blessed.” Read about the other winners from Melton Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

It looked a great harness racing card Tuesday morning and a little trickier come the draws, but young gun reinsman Zac Phillips could well churn out another super Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton. The leader of the Victorian concession drivers’ premiership seems well positioned to continue his trotting success with drives behind Anton Golino’s talented juveniles Une Belle Allure and Amour De Frere before reuniting with Group 1 gun Red Hot Tooth. Fresh from winning the New South Wales equivalent, Une Belle Allure will tackle Saturday night’s Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks, but her presumed favouritism was zapped by a gate 13 draw, with pole marker and stablemate Kinvara Sue instead gaining punters’ favour. “It’s definitely going to be hard, in those Group 1 races you always need a bit of luck in running and good draws to go your way and by the look of it she hasn’t got either,” Phillips told RSN927’s Gait Speed program. “I definitely think she’s the best filly in the field, hopefully that’s good enough to get her over the line. She showed her best in the New South Wales trotters’ oaks a couple of weeks ago, if she can repeat that performance she should be a top chance.” The scenario’s only slightly better for Amour De Frere in the Alabar Tatlow Stakes, a $30,000 Group 2 for two-year-old trotters. Golino’s Love You filly has drawn gate seven but must be considered a chance after an outstanding two runs to date, winning on debut before a cracking second after breaking amid the standing start. “I think she is going to be a top class filly going forward,” Phillips said. “Her manners let her down last start but she is still learning, she’s very green, another one who hasn’t drawn to kindly but if she gets a little bit of luck in running she definitely won’t be far away.” The same draw, gate seven, has befallen Red Hot Tooth in the Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot, a crack at a fifth Group level win for Kari Males' prized trotter. While passing up the drive on Golino’s Glenferrie Burn wasn’t an easy one for Phillips, sticking with Red Hot Tooth was. “Those decisions are never easy, you don’t like getting off a horse and disappointing anyone,” Phillips said. “I am certainly committed to Red Hot Tooth and wouldn’t think about getting off her. “I’ve driven Red Hot Tooth for a few years now and drove her all through her three-year-old year, she looks to be a grand circuit horse going forward. “It doesn’t look an easy field and another one who hasn’t drawn too kindly, but she is a fast mare and can make her own luck if need be.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 June 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 June 2017

Several of the races run at Warragul on Monday could lay claim to being the most exciting harness racing contest of the afternoon. Capacity fields in most races, and even contests produced strong racing all day. Local start Professor Tom's six in a row winning streak came to an end in the fourth race, courtesy of a brilliant front-running drive by Zac Phillips with Franco Jameson. Well rated in the lead, Franco Jameson kept on fighting, and defeated his four rivals in track record time, slicing just over half a second off the time standard previously shared by Grins Rendition and Ymbro Toto. Franco Jameson had been unlucky in strong recent races, and has now collected nine wins from just 26 starts for trainer Adam Kelly. A capacity field of twelve contested the Trotters' Handicap, and not one runner galloped for the entire 2210 metre distance. Uetliberg, from a back mark of 40 metres behind, produced a strong finish to defeat local Innocent Fling right on the line, with Ghent placing third in a race where only two metres separated the first six horses. Pearcedale's Simone Walker collected a popular training double, with Redand Blue Fella and Little Bit Sassy both successful. Redand Blue Fella is raced on lease from the Kucks family by Andrew Walker, while Little Bit Sassy is owned by a large group of Cranbourne based harness fans. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial Pace saw runners competing for a place in the rich Final at Warragul on June 5. Young trainer Charlene Gusman produced All My Savings to win the first heat, courtesy of a well judged drive by Lisa Miles. All My Savings now has two wins on the board from 25 starts. Diamond Jasper also won her second race in winning the other heat, for trainer Paul Grech and driver Nathan Jack. Mario Azzopardi and Charlie Borg combined with Irish Player, which gained a start after scratchings, to win race two, while short priced favourite Beau Reve won her second race in as many Warragul meetings for trainer Jayne Davies and driver Greg Sugars in race seven. Kyle Galley

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    

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