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HE'S regarded as one of Victoria's leading young reinsmen. And Victorian Zac Phillips showed Menangle racegoers why he deserved that rating with a clever drive to win the first heat of the NSW Oaks with outsider Tangoingwithsierra ($18) at Menangle tonight. Phillips had the daughter of Sportswriter perfectly poised behind the leader Two Times Bettor with a lap to go before getting himself into the action and surging to the front in the straight the final time for an impressive one and three-quarter metre win over Enchanted Stride with Lady Rocknrolla a further one and half metres back in third place. The winner ran her final mile in 1:57.7 with splits of 29s-29.4-28.5 and 27.8 as she showed a touch of class to fight off the fast-finishing placegetters with plenty of heart. Just half an hour later leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart struck again when outstanding filly Kualoa made a one-act affair of heat two of the Oaks. Crossed by Tom Butt's classy filly Cheesy Fingers at the start of the 2400m mobile, Chris Alford refused to panic with Kualoa and settled just behind the speed. Then, as the field went up the back straight the final time, Alford decided he couldn't wait any longer and released the brakes on Kualoa and began serving it up to Cheesy Fingers. Kualoa hit the front about 850m from home and proceeded to put his rivals to the sword, surging to the line an 11.5m winner over the fast-finishing Our Road To Mecca (Mat Rue for Ahmed Taiba), who nabbed Cheesy Fingers (Anthony Butt) right on the line to take second spot. With a mile rate of 1:56.7, barring a terrible draw, Kualoa looks certain to start favourite for next week's NSW Oaks final. The final Oaks heat saw a patient drive by star reinswoman Nat Rasmussen, settling near last with another of the All Stars' team's up and comers in Our Princess Tiffany, before launching in the straight the final time with a devastating sprint. Despite giving the leaders a healthy start turning for home she rounded them up in a twinkling and sprinted to a one-metre win over Arabella Star (Zac Phillips) with early leader Miss Streisand (Chris Geary for Roy Roots jr) third in a 1:56.9 mile rate. Fourth placegetter Swimsuit Edition (Luke McCarthy) earned the final spot in the Oaks field with the fastest fourth of the three heats. The Oaks finalists are: Our Princess Tiffany, Arabella Star, Miss Streisand, Swimsuit Edition, Tangoingwithsierra, Enchanted Stride, Lady Rocknrolla, Kualoa, Our Road To Mecca, Cheesy Fingers. (1em) Miss Halfpenny.   FOR MORE INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON 0438-398-251.   Mandy Madern

Talented young reinsman Zac Phillips will be hoping for a magical night at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, which could set up the scaffolding for an Inter Dominion campaign. The 22-year-old is looking to snare a double as he pilots Magical Marn in the My Lightning Blue Free For All (1720m, MO or better) and in-form Sonya Smith-trained gelding Vasari in the DNR Logistic Pace (2240m MO only). Phillips said the Adam Kelly-trained Magical Marn had gone “from strength to strength” this year before a slightly disappointing last start at Tabcorp Park Melton. “He had come so far in such a short period of time and had come to the end of that, so just to be on the safe side we turned him out,” Phillips said. “He has come back really well; he has had three trials now and all of them have been improving runs.” Phillips said the rising five-year-old gelding was a “genuine free-for-all horse” being set for the Inter Dominion in December. “The sky’s the limit for him really; Adam has got a really good opinion of him and he gives you the feel of a good horse,” he said. “The only string he hasn’t got in his bow is he is a bit one-dimensional, he has to be driven for that one run and needs a bit of luck. “But when that luck comes he has shown what he can do.” Phillips is no stranger to magical nights, having won his first two Group 1s within 35 minutes of each other in March last year. He said his second winner that night – brilliant trotter Red Hot Tooth – was back in work, with trainer Kari Males lining her up for this summer’s top races, particularly the Trotting Inter Dominion. “I actually just worked her this morning; she is an amazing horse and has been amazing for me and my career,” he said. Together with Magical Marn, Phillips could have two Inter Dominion drives on his hands. “A lot can change with horses, as you know, but if everything went well and they stay healthy and sound I think they will be realistic chances with the right runs,” he said. Shaun Campbell

Former top Kiwi trainer Tim Butt expected to be a feature race player at Melbourne’s Summer of Glory, but just not with the horse it’s turned out to be. Before a minor setback late last year, the Hunter Cup was firmly on Butt’s radar with his stable star My Field Marshal. It was such a focus, he surprised many by turning his back on the Perth Inter Dominion series. But My Field Marshal was sidelined with a minor hoof injury and a limited lead-up preparation has Butt leaning towards skipping next Saturday night’s $500,000 Hunter Cup to focus on the Miracle Mile. So now Butt’s major Melbourne hopes rest with the talented but sometimes frustrating trotter Daryl Boko in this Saturday night’s $300,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star (2760m) at Melton. Although a $16 outsider, Daryl Boko has drawn well in gate two and heads into the race an impressive last-start winner, albeit in a much weaker race at Menangle. “He’s really heading into this race and draw is a huge help,” Butt said. “We think he’s a genuine upset chance now he’s drawn so well in a pretty open race.” Given the lack of a standout trotting superstar racing on either side of ditch right now, the opening Aussie market for the Great Southern Star was $4 the field. But emerging Aussie mare Red Hot Tooth has been sensationally-backed into clear favouritism for Australasia’s richest trotting race. The Kari Males-trained mare has been crunched in from $5 to $2.70 favouritism after her sparkling last-start Group 1 George Gath win at Shepparton. Although this is clearly the next step-up against such a hot field over the longer 2760m trip and against genuine Group 1 opposition, but she did rip home in a 56.6sec last half last outing and looks the leader again this time. “I might be biased, but I think she’s the better trotter in the land right now and she gets the chance to prove it,” Red Hot Tooth’s driver Zac Phillips said. “She’s got speed, she can stay and she absolutely bolted in last time. “I was saying on radio the other day, it’s a good time to have a really nice trotter like because there isn’t a champion winning everything like say a Keystone Del was here a couple of years back.” For Phillips, teaming-up with Males and her husband Paul, makes it extra special. “Kari and Paul, along with Robbie O’Connell were the people who got me going. To win a really big Group 1 for Kari and Paul would be as good as it gets,” he said. “I can’t wait for Saturday night to give it our best shot.” Another emerging Aussie trotter Sparkling Success has eased from $4 to $4.60 second elect from gate 11. Kyvalley Blur, back from his ultra-consistent Kiwi campaign shares the line of betting with Tony Herlihy’s Temporale at $6.50. Temporale’s chances were hurt by an inside back row draw (gate eight), negating his sparkling gate speed. The other class Kiwi raider, Speeding Spur, is the best-credentialed runner in the race, but drawn outside the back row (gate 13) and under a form cloud given his recent Kiwi defeats. He is a $6.50 chance. Back to My Field Marshal and Butt said a final Hunter Cup decision would be made on Monday. “It’s unlikely, but we want to watch this weekend’s racing and wait as long as possible to see if Lazarus is definitely running,” he said. In other stable news, classy four-year-old Let It Ride will have another crack at forcing his way into the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday week. He ran way below his best when, after a midrace burn to find the lead, he wilted to finish at the rear of the field in last Saturday night’s Hondo Grattan at Menangle. “He checked-out fine after the race,” Butt said. “He was a bit disappointing, but he did burn a bit so we’ll give him another chance next week.” Adam Hamilton

A fine filly tipped out the boys and extended a stellar harness racing season for the tight-knit trio trainer Anton Golino, owner Pat Driscoll and driver Zac Phillips, who landed the Seelite Windows & Doors Victoria Trotters Derby. Victorian and New South Wales Oaks winner Une Belle Allure added a crown typically set aside for the boys to her monster three-year-old haul, with Phillips finding the lead from stablemate Dance Craze and controlling the pace to ensure none would run past his Angus Hall filly. A 28.2 final quarter shut the door and delivered another Group 1 to the 21-year-old, who celebrated with a jubilant salute in front of a hearty Redwood All-Trotting Carnival crowd at Maryborough today. “She’s unbelievable. She stepped up to the plate every time she’s been asked too,” Phillips said. “She just keeps taking the next step and the next step and continues to surprise me.” The victory was a sixth career Group 1 win for Phillips, all coming with trotters and all since March 11. “It’s been an unbelievable year and sort of what you dream about when you step out in this sort of career. You dream about having years like I’ve had,” Phillips said. “I’ve been very fortunate, my three main stables – Adam Kelly, Anton (Golino) and Paul and Kari Males – sort of stuck with me through thick and thin and it makes such a big difference when you get behind horses like this. They can just take your career to the sky. Just over the moon.” In today’s Derby, Dance Craze cruised to the front via her great gate speed and then Nathan Jack handed up to Phillips and Une Belle Allure, while fellow stablemate Nieta cruised to the breeze to give Golino the first three runners. There was little need for haste and the pace was barely quickened when Deltasun slipped past Nieta and into the breeze, with first two quarters of 32.1 and 32.0 preceding a 29.7 third quarter. Three-wide, Kerryn Manning and her newest addition President Roydon poured on the pressure in the dying stages, but the last 100m belonged to Une Belle Allure, who hit the line 2.7m clear of Dance Craze and 3.6m clear of President Roydon. “There didn’t look to be a hell of a lot of pressure in the race if I did happen to find the front, which I did, and once I found the front it played out as I thought,” Phillips said. “Nathan (Jack on Dance Craze) was always going to be on my back, but with the run I had he was probably never going to be able to outdo me. “(Une Belle Allure’s) just got such a great will to win and she’s an unbelievable horse to sit behind, she just has an amazing turn of foot. She’s so versatile, she can sit, she can sprint, she can do it tough, and I think that’s what makes her such a great horse.” Her 12 starts have now produced seven wins and more than $150,000 in stakes, which have almost all been amassed in her nine-run three-year-old season. “It’s a dream come true,” Golino said. “(Yabby Dam Farms owner) Pat (Driscoll’s) an amazing person and deserves this more than anyone. “We were lucky we drew well, in these big races all these horses can go, so to get a good draw was a big advantage at the start. Having said that they got the job done, so we are really happy.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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

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