Day At The Track
Ben Woodsford

Former Kiwi opens account

Widely-travelled harness racing driver former New Zealander Ben Woodsford drove his first Tasmanian winner in Hobart on Friday night. He was successful on Animi Sub Ignis, the first leg of a longshot double for trainer Bradley Walters who also scored with another $21 chance, Mavis Merle. Woodsford, who has 37 career winners to his credit, was living in Queensland when he came to Tasmania in May for what he thought would be one weekend. Trainer Gavin Kelly offered him a job while he was here. "I thought a change was as good as a holiday and now I'm stuck here," he said. Woodsford, 21, worked for Shane and Lauren Tritton in NSW before moving to Queensland. He had no involvement with harness racing in New Zealand but his father Steven is a thoroughbred trainer. Woodsford's willingness to drive trackwork at Brighton has led to him getting an increasing number of opportunities in races. Yole brothers stole the show Ben Yole moved to 166 wins for the season with a treble at Mowbray on Sunday night. He had all 12 runners in the race won by Fortino. His brother Mark holds a 14-win lead on the drivers' premiership with seven meetings remaining. Yole has won 79 races, only six shy of the tally that won him the 2015-16 premiership. The closest battle is for junior driver honours where Conor Crook, on 28 wins, leads Samantha Gangell by just one. Gangell has opened up a five-win lead over Hannah Van dongen on the female drivers' table. Bianca Heenan will win the female trainers' title by a big margin. She has 46 wins, more than double her nearest rival. Harness racing makes midweek move Tasracing has moved four harness meetings in September from Sunday nights to Wednesday nights. They will take the Sky 1 timeslot usually occupied by Redcliffe which is understood to be closing for renovations. It will be a good chance for Tasmanian harness racing to test the midweek waters. If the opportunity arises, a permanent midweek timeslot on Sky 1 would seem preferable to the Friday night Sky 2 meetings that struggle for turnover. By Greg Mansfield

integrity tribunal.jpg

Victoria launches new integrity tribunal

Victoria's racing industry is set to be further strengthened following the establishment of a new tribunal designed to enhance and streamline the disciplinary and appeals process for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing. Acting Minister for Racing Jaclyn Symes on Tuesday announced appointments to the Victorian Racing Tribunal, which will hear and determine serious charges made against licensed persons by controlling bodies and stewards. The Victorian Racing Tribunal will also oversee the hearing and determination of a broad range of appeals, including those relating to penalties imposed by controlling bodies, and it takes over from the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in thoroughbred racing. The tribunal comprises some of the most experienced legal professionals in Victoria, led by chairperson Judge John Bowman, who has sat on the County Court of Victoria since 2001. Judge Bowman will work with three deputy chairpersons and 12 other tribunal members, including former County Court judges Graeme Hicks and Julie Nicholson, magistrate John Doherty and former lead financial ombudsman Dr June Smith. Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal vice-president Judge Marilyn Harbison and chair of Greyhound Racing Victoria's Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board and former Federal Court judge Shane Marshall will join ex-thoroughbred racing chairman of stewards Des Gleeson on the tribunal, along with retired jockeys Maree Payne and Greg Childs. Other tribunal members are Robert Abrahams, Josh Bornstein, Judy Bourke, Heidi Keighran, Amanda Upton and Andrew Gould. The Victorian Racing Tribunal will come into operation for the new racing season, starting August 1. The establishment of the tribunal is part of the Andrews Labor Government's comprehensive plan to ensure Victoria remains the pre-eminent racing state in Australia. The Victorian Budget 2019/20 includes a $72 million boost for local racing infrastructure and events and a $40m contribution to increase prizemoney for participants across the codes. The Victorian racing industry contributes $4.3 billion to the economy each year and sustains more than 33,000 equivalent full-time jobs across the state. Symes said: "We are committed to promoting fairness and integrity across all three codes of racing and the Victorian Racing Tribunal has a vital role to play in achieving this goal. "Members of the racing industry and punters, as well as the broader public, expect world-leading practice in this area and that's what we are delivering. "Led by Judge Bowman, the Tribunal boasts some of the best legal minds in the state and collectively they will bring fairness and impartiality to the important cases that will come before them." Reprinted with permission of Racing.com

Hellen Scott, harness racing

80/1 'buzzer beater' has Hellen grinning

Former talented Melbourne basketballer Hellen Scott is now shooting the lights out in the harness racing world. Scott, who has a team of 10 pacers in work at Albury, produced 80/1 longshot Grinning Punter to score a last-stride victory (a “buzzer-beater” in basketball parlance) at Wagga’s Riverina Paceway last Friday afternoon. Grinning Punter (Grinfromeartoear-Lucy Lynne (Christian Cullen) upset his more fancied rivals in the $6890 Pace for horses with a national rating up to 69. The gelding was driven a treat by concession driver Chris Judd, with the pair going wide on the home turn and arriving just in time in a blanket finish. Scott played for the Melbourne Tigers back in the 1980s under her maiden name Hellen Fewkes and had an awesome career representing Victoria in the sport. Hellen’s mum didn’t have a car licence, so public transport was the only option to get to training sessions.  The devoted youngster would travel by train from the family home at Faulkner to Melbourne, and then make her way to Albert Park. Hellen and her husband John left city life behind and made Albury their home in 1993, but Hellen was not lost to basketball, staying involved through coaching at schools up until this year when funding was cut. While John works with a landscape business, Hellen and their 19-year-old son Baily take care of horse training duties. John said seven-year-old gelding Grinning Punter had promised “to be anything” when he was purchased a few years ago from New Zealand by a group of keen owners. “The times he was capable of doing were just crazy.  He showed his potential at the old Wagga track by winning in 1.57 with a last half of 56.6 seconds. I thought he could win a city race without any problems,” John said. “But unfortunately, he ran into a patch of bad luck, firstly developing a heart murmur (an abnormal sound that originates from the heart valves), then fracturing a cannon bone when we sent him up to Sydney to be trained, which meant a long spell. “We’ve had him checked by vets and the heart is normal now, but he’s not going anywhere near like he was two-and-a-half years ago.” John said however Grinning Punter had been showing pleasing form leading up to his boil-over victory. “There’s no way the horse should have been those odds. He’d been quite good with a few placings and then wasn’t comfortable on the Albury track,” he said. “One of the owners Sandy Taylor was in the United States and somehow had some money on each way at 40/1, so she was very excited. Sandy and her husband Price and his brother go to the races and watch the horse whenever they can because it’s their first venture into the sport. “The other owners are Craig English, Glenn Teesdale and his son Jarman, and successful jockey Simon Miller and they’re also keen supporters.” The Scott team plans to keep racing Grinning Punter in suitable races at country tracks on a regular basis over the next few months. “He has never adjusted to the Australian heat and always goes better in winter and spring,” John said. “Baily is just busting to get his driver’s licence after doing a lengthy apprenticeship at the stables at home. Let’s hope when that time comes, he clicks with Grinning Punter and there’s some more longshot winners!” *Hoofnote: Grinning Punter finished a close-up second at Wagga yesterday paying a healthy place dividend of $3.60.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Fiery Mountain Girl

Broodmare reduction sale

A harness racing Group 1 winning Sundon mare Fiery Mountain Girl, in foal to Love You, is being offered for sale by Yabby Dam Farms as part of its first broodmare reduction sale. This is a great chance to acquire a foal bred on the same cross as champions Monbet and Enghien, other group one winners Habibti and Habibti Ivy, Jewels winners Habibi Inta and Paramount King and 100k earners Dieu de L’Amour, Lotalov and Paramount Queen to name a few. Group 1 placed Amarula is also for sale, in foal to exciting French stallion Used To Me as is Group 1 placed Moyabamba. Also in the draft is NZ Trotting Oaks winner Commander Jewel and The Pink Diamond, a half-sister to the aforementioned champion Enghien, This is a genuine broodmare reduction sale, due to an influx of retiring mares from Yabby Dam Farms’ racing arm, and a change of direction, meaning a number of beautifully bred mares from its broodmare band are available for sale online on its website, on a first come first served basis. Yabby Dam Farms plan to make this an annual reduction sale offering a wide mix of mares, unproven, proven, young and old broodmares. Yabby Dam Farms mares The aim is to suit all clients, from established breeders to new breeders wanting to get into the game, or those trying to get into that special family through an older mare. So here is a great chance to supplement your broodmare band from this wide mix of empty, in-foal and maiden mares which includes Group winners and good producers, from some of the southern hemisphere’s best families, some in foal to the likes of Love You, Orlando Vici and the farm’s exciting resident stallion Used To Me, whose progeny have hit the track running including a recent Gr1 runner-up. Broodmare sales enquiries please call Dave on +64 21 245 2584 or email dave@harasdestrotteurs.com.au

Prominent owner Rob Gartrell has credited training combination Greg and Skye Bond’s patient approach with four-year-old Fizzing for his success in the Botra Cup (2503m) at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Fizzing produced, arguably, his finest performance in Friday’s $25,000 event, coming off a 30m handicap in the standing start event. The son of Mach Three showed plenty of promised over the summer period, where he finished third in the Group 1 Golden Nugget. Since then, Fizzing has gone on to record five wins at 12 starts, four of which were standing start events at Pinjarra. Gartrell said it had been a strategic approach to keep Fizzing to standing start events, in order to find out more about the horse. “His first campaign with us, we learnt a lot about him and we threw him in the deep end a little bit quickly,” he told TABradio. “This time coming back we decided to take the standing start approach. “He just got better and better with each run at Pinjarra. “He’s obviously been well placed and to top it off with the BOTRA Cup was an excellent result for us. “Hopefully going forward we can see him continue to improve.” Fizzing capped off a terrific night for the Bond stable, who scored wins with Poisedtopounce, Better Scoot and USA-bound Saying Grace. Meanwhile, Ana Malak, who defeated Fizzing in the Golden Nugget, has returned to Western Australia following seven starts in Victoria. Connections are hopeful the winner at 11 of his 16 starts could progress to feature races in the New Year. “We tossed up what to do with him,” Gartrell said. “The handicapping suited him there in that he didn’t have to race against the top end horses. “He will have a short freshen-up now and push on to the races around Christmas.” Elsewhere, WA Derby winner Major Trojan could make his return to racing this Friday night in the Chandon Pace (2130m). Major Trojan won a three-year-old trial at Byford yesterday, defeating newcomer to the Gary Hall Snr stable Wildwest by 3.9m.   Tim Walker

Oatlands reinsman  Matthew Cooper continued his terrific season when he claimed the 2019 BOTRA Claiming Novice Drivers series in Launceston on Sunday night. “I was a bit surprised to win the series but I am very wrapped to win it,” said a very excited Matthew Cooper after the series victory. Cooper won heat three where he teamed up with the state's leading trainer to win on Fortino (pictured). Fortino who started as the race favourite, speared straight to the lead, and the seven-year-old gelded son of Sutter Hanover couldn’t be rundown with stablemates Our Quinn (Samantha Gangell) and Monarkmac (Matthew Howlett) filling the placings. “Ben (Yole) said before the race that he was a good mile horse and that he was very similar to Call Her Julie that I didn’t have to take a whip to so that suited me down to the ground. I only need an easy quarter in the race which I got and he sprinted home well to win,” the winning driver said. Cooper wasn’t overly interested in the industry early on but it didn’t take him long to get hooked. “I never liked horses early on but I owed Justin Campbell a favour and I went and gave him a hand at his stables one day, I  jumped on a horse that day and I fell in love with the industry and from that day on I always wanted to be involved in the sport,” said the series winner. The Oatlands-based trainer-driver worked as a race day controller for Tote Tasmania for six years until its sale in 2012. He now trains his small team of horses and spends time working with his partner Chantelle with their courier business, Rapid Couriers. Cooper was extremely grateful for the trainers and owners that supported the series. “It’s always good for the owners and trainers to support the series by giving us horses to drive, it can be hard for a trainer to put a horse in a race like that without knowing what driver you will get and I’m very appreciative of that as well as BOTRA and the Launceston Pacing Club for their support of the series,” said Cooper. The first heat saw the Todd Rattray-trained Karpenkova Leis and Bremusa fight out the finish with Karpenkova Leis proving too good over the concluding stages to win by 3.3-metres. Driver Hannah Van Dongen was keen to hold the lead early on Karpenkova Leis but she elected to hand up to Pushkin (Matthew Cooper) after a quicker than average lead time, before gaining the one-out one-back position at the 700-metre mark Van Dongen found clear racing room at the 400-metre pole, and from there she was able to run down Bremusa (Kimberley Grant) over the concluding stages. Former New Zealand driver Kimberley Grant continued the good start for the female drivers when she teamed up with trainer Sally Stingel to win with three-year-old gelding Rowley. It was the seventh career win for the gelded son of Badlands Hanover who settled one-out and two-back before working around the field to find the spot outside the leader with 700 metres of the race remaining, Grant asked Rowley for a bit more effort on the final corner and the gelding responded well to score by 2.1 metres. Cooper and Grant went into the final heat as joint leader of the series on 39 points, and they had to settle for third and fourth placing respectively with only a head between the duo as they chased home the Charlie Castles-driven Jacks Command. The Kate MacLeod trained pacer dropped a lot in class in the national rating 60 to 69 event after contesting a heat of the Easter Cup five starts ago, and was able to cling on to a narrow victory over Gems (Troy McDonald). The final points score of the series was: 50 - Matthew Cooper 48 - Kimberley Grant 40 - Troy McDonald 34 - Samantha Gangell 31 - Georgia Hayward 30 - Charlie Castles 29 - Hannah Van Dongen 26 - Wade Rattray 22 - Matthew Howlett 20 - Andrew Freeman 19 - Taylor Ford 13 - Lachlan Dakin Rohan Hillier took driving honours on the card with a driving double winning with Im Compliant and Artyboy Glenwood, with training honours going to Ben Yole with a treble preparing Quick Changeover, Fortino and Machitelli to victory.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

The fairytale has continued for Swedish young gun harness racing driver Kima Frenning with a significant milestone. Frenning, 27, who has rapidly etched a name for herself in the sport in Australia, posted her 100th winner for the season with a pillar-to-post win at Kilmore late last week. "I was asked early on if I'd set any goals for 2018-19, and I did say of course I had and it was to get a century," she said laughing. "It was just an unrealistic statement at the time because I never thought I'd actually get there. "I will be honest and say I knew I was getting close awhile back. It's exciting, but I'm very lucky to be given good horses to drive. Without the support of the trainers who keep putting me on, I wouldn't be where I am today." Frenning had no cause for concern in reaching the magical 100 as former Kiwi gelding Raptors Flight (Bettors Delight-Circus Flyer (Falcon Seelster) was effortless in recording his second win for the David Aiken stable since crossing the Tasman Sea. The pacer zipped to the front and after getting an easy time early had things under control from that point. He got into third gear up the final stretch in 30.2 and 27.5. "He is so laid back. I had to get into him a bit, then he woke up," Frenning said. Kima hard at work in the feed shed The popular horsewoman so far hasn't had time to celebrate her remarkable achievement, with drives at most meetings. "We are pretty much at the races five nights a week. It's so busy, but I hope to squeeze in a little celebration soon," she said. And the victories have kept coming for Frenning since the milestone win - she was successful with the David Aiken-trained pair - Dynamic Bromac (Live Or Die-Diana Bromac (Holmes Hanover), at Bendigo on Friday night and then Big Jack Hammer (The Pres-Running Pinevale (Wesgate Victory) in the G3 Touch Merchant Trotters FFA at Melton the following night. She was again in the money yesterday at Cranbourne. This time for Dean Braun with bay filly Buzinga (Bettors Delight-Safedra (Mach Three), a promising type stepping out for the first time in Australia. Frenning has been a remarkable success story after deciding to take a break from studying law at home for some travel to get away from another cold winter. She arrived in Victoria nearly five years ago as a talented monte rider, where trotting harness horses compete under saddle with riders like jockeys. After landing a job in a top stable and igniting her harness racing career, Frenning was a sensation in the montes. "I always had a love for horses and my family back home all took riding lessons. My dad Goran is a hands-on person and thought riding was something we could all do as a family," Frenning explained. "So that meant my mum Hima and sister Sarah also had to join in," she said. "My parents aren't into it now, but they have been out to Australia to watch me at the races. Sarah is busy studying environmental science as well as being a vegan cook." Frenning said she tried to watch as many races as possible to keep improving herself. "I probably have a role model in Kerryn Manning, who is a wonderful reinswoman. She is also humble and so down-to-earth. "I will be happy if I can keep getting winners. I need to save up as I get home once a year and I'm hoping I can do this next Christmas." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When Christchurch harness racing buff Peter O’Rourke was offered the role as booking agent in New Zealand for the mighty Lazarus he didn’t need to think twice about accepting the position. “How could you not want to be involved with the past pacer I’ve ever seen?” Peter said. Lazarus, the dual NZ Horse of the Year and Inter Dominion and Miracle Mile hero who is lining up for his first season at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Wagga (NSW), is gaining widespread interest from Kiwi broodmare owners, according to Peter. “I’ve already had more than 40 confirmed bookings to him in New Zealand,” he said. O’Rourke is unquestionably one of the best known and most respected figures in Harness Racing breeding and racing - on either side of the ditch. His secondment to the Lazarus team adds yet another string to his bow. O’Rourke’s involvement in the sport began way back in January 1977. “Bob McArdle wanted me to give him a hand with his bloodstock business,” Peter recalls. “And I stayed for 23 years!” Peter, whose working life began as a high school teacher in Melbourne, was appointed as manager of the fledgling Nevele R Stud, near Christchurch in 1977. Peter O'Rourke “When I first started the three horses standing on the property were Timely Knight, Nevele Romeo and the trotter Gerry Mir,” Peter said. “Holmes Hanover, Live Or Die and Falcon Seelster were the three best sires to stand at Nevele R during my time.” The exalted trio won more than 20 NZ Sire Premiership between them. In 1999 Peter became the marketing manager of the late Wayne Francis’ Spreydon Lodge, the home of the ‘Franco’ breed, as well as general manager of Nevele R Stud Limited. “I sold more than 100 ‘Franco’ horses to both Australia and NZ including derby and oaks winners, two Australian Pacing Championship winners, a Chariots Of Fire winner and a Golden Nugget winner,” he stated. Some of the best horses sold by Peter include the NSW Oaks winners Scent and Shrub, Madam Steward (Queensland Oaks), the Chariots winner Kentuckiana, the Australian Pacing Championship winners Swapzee Bromac and Atitagian and the cup class pacer Our Ian Mac. One of his most expensive sales was the Boyden Hanover gelding Swapzee Bromac. “I purchased Swapzee Bromac as a foal off Bob McArdle and later sold him to clients of Perth trainer Trevor Warwick,” he said. “He went on to win more than $200,000 before being sold to USA for $100,000 plus.” In 2013 O’Rourke joined forces with well known Adelaide harness identity and good mate David Shammall to establish Stallions Australasia, which transports frozen semen for elite trotting sires from North America. “Unlike their pacing counterparts, the top trotting sires don’t ever shuttle to Australia or NZ,” Peter stated. ”So we identified a niche market for the trotters.” The Stallions Australasia roster includes the world’s No. 1 trotting sire Muscle Hill and his brilliant, young sons Trixton, Southwind Frank and Tactical Landing. Peter said the best horse he ever raced was Michele Bromac (Besta Fella-Milne Bay), who won 11 races including two heats of the Nevele R Fillies Series and finished second in the final and third in the NZ Oaks. He also tasted success recently with the three-year-old Artsplace gelding Arts Dash. “He had three starts for us for a win, a second and fifth before we sold him to Victoria where he won on debut at Geelong last week,” Peter said. Married to Sue, and the father of two children and grandfather of Lulu, 7, and Harry, 5, the 68 years-old O’Rourke still really enjoys harness racing. “I love the industry and I want to stay involved for a few more years yet,” he stated. By Peter Wharton

In what is fast developing into a cliché, Expensive Ego has become Australian Pacing Gold’s latest Group One winner. Purchased from last season’s APG Brisbane Sale, Expensive Ego joined the company’s ever-growing list of top shelf winners by capturing last night’s Qbred Triad Final at Albion Park. In doing so the two-year-old maintained his undefeated status from three starts for New South Wales trainer David Thorn. Naturally impressed with the son of Rock N Roll Heaven, Thorn will remain in Queensland with Expensive Ego in preparation for APG Brisbane Sale Series. Heats are scheduled to be conducted on August 2, with the $100,000 Final the following week. “He’ll have a few light days now then I’ll get him ready for the APG heats,” Thorn said. “I have him and a couple of others up here and will be staying for a few weeks. “He has pulled up a treat from last night, you wouldn’t even know he’d raced, which is terrific. “Hopefully he can go just as well in that series as he did in the Qbred.” With Jimmy Douglass holding the reins, Expensive Ego began roughly from barrier four as Another Statement led from gate two. Given time to find his rhythm, Expensive Ego was then sent forward to test the pacemaker from the breeze. Forging his way to the front around the home turn, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven dashed to a three-and-a-half metre win from the previously unbeaten Governor Jujon, with Mistery Road eight meters away third. Owned by Jason Grice, the colt rated 1:52.9 over 1660 metres. “Knowing how good he feels I expected him to be hard to beat, but I just wasn’t sure how to line up the Queensland form,” Thorn said. “He ran up to expectations and did it quite comfortably. “Jimmy still had a handful of horse on the line.”   APG Media

Looking to give the freshman a spell, co-trainers Debbie and Gary Quinlan have elected to extend Sahara Sirocco’s campaign after he gave his rivals windburn in last night’s Australian Pacing Gold Championship at Tabcorp Park Melton. As such the son of Courage Under Fire will remain in work for next month’s Australasian Breeders’ Crown. “He was heading to the paddock after this, but that has changed now,” Debbie said. “After speaking to the owners we’ve decided to give him a go at the Breeders’ Crown. “Whether he is up to the real top ones I don’t know, but even the Consolation is a chance to win some good money. “That’s been one of the benefits of races like this APG Championship as it spreads the money around and you can still earn good money even if you’re not in the main event. “They paid $2000 back to last, which like winning a restricted race.” Given time to settle into his stride, Sahara Sirocco was positioned two-back in the running line from barrier six as Aishabeach led and the short-priced favourite Mirragon worked in the ‘death seat’. Angled into the clear at the top of the home straight, the colt sprinted to a soft eight-metre win from a gallant Mirragon, with Yourshoutrocky six-and-a-half metres away third. “We knew he was ready to run a good race, but you never go into a race thinking you can beat the favourite,” Debbie said. “He had the perfect run and finished it off brilliantly.” Part-owned by the Quinlans, Sahara Sirocco rated 1:53.8 over 1720 metres to provide reinsman Chris Alford with the second leg of an APG double. Earlier on the card Alford combined with leading horsewoman Emma Stewart to capture the fillies’ division with Treasure. Caught three-wide from barrier four, the daughter of Art Major worked to the lead during the middle stages before completing a four-and-a-half metre win from Askmeilltellya, with Vouchers 13 metres away third. Successful in the Southern Cross Final last May, Treasure rated 1:54.9 to take her record to seven wins and a second from nine starts. “She will have a few easy days now then we’ll get her ready for the Breeders’ Crown,” Stewart said.   APG Media

QUEENSLAND harness racing has the horse it so desperately needs.  It well-known the Queensland industry has been through some tough times, but Colt Thirty One is a star pacer they can all unite around and who can fly the flag for the state around Australasia.  Potential turned into performance when he stormed to victory in the $250,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park last night (Saturday).  And it was a buzz to see so many locals trackside, sporting Colt Thirty One caps, and cheering loudly and he finished over the top of some of Australia’s best pacers in race record time of 1min53.7sec for the gruelling 2680m.  “It’s fantastic to win the race, particularly with a four-year-old against the older horses, and I think it’s a true sign of even better things to come,” owner-breeder Kevin Seymour said.  “To win the race tonight in race record time shows you how good the horse will be in the future.  “I was hoping to take him to America to race on the Grand Circuit there, but my wife Kaye has overruled me. She said he’s a Queensland horse and he’s staying here to represent Queensland and race in Australia.  “He’ll have a short spell now and then get ready for the big races down south.”  Colt Thirty One appreciated going back to his sit-and-swoop racing style after being beaten when bustled to lead in last week’s Group 1 Sunshine Sprint.  It was certainly a hotly contested Blacks A Fake with Sunshine Sprint winner Ohoka Punter blasting out from a wide draw to lead and holding out challenges from the two favourites – first Our Uncle Sam then Tiger Tara – in the early and middle stages.  It was obvious with a lap to go the leaders were sitting shots and swoopers Colt Thirty One and Alta Orlando came from a mile back to fight the race out.  Tiger Tara’s effort to be beaten just 9.5m in sixth spot was huge, while Our Uncle Sam (beaten 29.5m) and Ohoka Punter (beaten 31.2m) dropped right out.  __________________________________________________________________________________ MARK Purdon not only posted his 100th Group 1 training win aboard Self Assured in the Queensland Derby, but he snared a Group 3 pick-up drive win on the night as well.  Purdon drove Darrel Graham’s Kiwi import Bill Haley to an narrow and upset win in the 4YO Championship.  Bill Haley is still owned by NZ by Jay Abernethy and the move to Queensland has been fruitful with five starts netting three wins.  Another impressive win on the night came from David Thorn’s NSW raider Expensive Ego, who did plenty wrong and worked hard on his way to a slick win in the Group 1 Qbred Triad final for two-year-old colts and geldings in a sharp 1min52.9sec mile rate for 1660m.  __________________________________________________________________________________ THE Chris Alford show rolled on again at Melton’s feature meeting last night (Saturday).  Alford landed both Group 2 Australian Gold 2YO Championship finals, teaming with the exciting filly Treasure for Emma Stewart and Sahara Sirocco for popular husband-and-wife team Gary and Debbie Quinlan.  Sahara Sirocco upset Stewart’s buzz youngster Mirragon on his way to an eight-metre win in a brisk 1min53.9sec mile rate.  Treasure made it seven wins from nine starts with an easy win in 1min54.9sec mile rate for 1720m.  Stewart jagged four wins on the night, including the speedy Phoenix Prince scoring easily in the free-for-all.  The other eye-catching win came from Craig Demmler’s emerging Somebeachshadow, who posted a slick 1min52.1sec swooping win in the Group 3 Winter Championship final.   Adam Hamilton

Mark Purdon’s 100th Group 1 training triumph marked the arrival of his next superstar.  All who watched Self Assured roar through four stunning Queensland Winter Carnival wins were convinced he’s poised to become the sport’s next big thing.  As if last week’s narrow but mesmerizing South-East Derby win wasn’t head-spinning enough, Self Assured raised the bar again with the first of what should be many Group 1 wins in last night’s (Saturday) $100,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby.  Self Assured used a good draw to lead, but copped plenty of pressure, most notably from Lochinvar Art down the back straight, but still left his rivals standing in track record time.  Unbeaten in six runs, he smashed the race record and Self Assured’s 1min54.2sec mile rate for the 2680m was only 0.5sec slower than they ran in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake – a Grand Circuit race - on the same night.  Just as he did the week before, Self Assured smashed the clock with closing splits of 53.8 and 27.1sec.  “I was a little bit worried (when the pressure came on). Either one of those horses, you could’ve let go, but he’d worked so good during the week I didn’t want to take any risks,” Purdon said.  “I was a little bit concerned when we straightened for home, but when I pulled the plugs he went into another gear.  “He’s a really good horse and he showed that tonight.”  Self Assured, the latest All Stars’ gun to be owned by Australian Jean Feiss, is not Breeders Crown eligible so it’s spell time now.  “Heads to Melbourne with Princess Tiffany and Jesse Duke, then onto to Auckland where he will agist and have a bit of a break with a view to having him back in November for the support races at Cup time. It’ll be a.8/27 nice introduction to Cup class racing for him.”  The All Stars’ also grabbed third and fourth in the Derby with Jesse Duke (third) and Our Princess Tiffany (fourth) and that pair now head to the Breeders Crown.  The run of Lochinvar Art to finished second after powering the pressure on Self Assured down the back straight in a 26.7sec split was enormous and he looks the horse to beat in his Breeders Crown division despite a long season.   Adam Hamilton

Yirribee Pacing Stud landed a winning treble at its home track, the Riverina Paceway, Wagga last Friday. The stud's resident sire Lombo Pocket Watch produced winners in consecutive races in Nobbys Clock (1:54.9), bred and raced by Yirribee's Dianne Sutherland, and Mighty Moke Lombo (1:55.7), a gelding owned by Yirribee and trained by Rod Woodhouse. Jennas Romance, a daughter of Million Dollar Cam, became the stud's third winner on the day when she sprint-laned to her seventh success. Million Dollar Cam was also represented by the 2:00 Pinjarra (WA) winner Our Mista Kalle, while Lombo Pocket Watch's bonny daughter Call Her Julie won for the 21st time in Hobart on Friday night. Tintin In America took the siring honours at Rangiora, New Zealand on Sunday with a winning double via Only In America (2 wins from 3 starts) and His Royal Harness. Caribbean Blaster, whose first crop of three-year-olds are firing on all cylinders, left his 15th individual winner from his first crop when Cuzin Pat outstayed his rivals at Parkes on Sunday afternoon. Tintin In America, Caribbean Blaster, Million Dollar Cam and Lombo Pocket Watch are part of the Yirribee sire roster which also includes the Inter Dominion champions Lazarus and Lennytheshark, the North America Cup winner Fear The Dragon and the superfast Warrawee Needy.   By Peter Wharton

The 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit came to a dramatic finale at Albion Park in Brisbane tonight (Saturday) with local hero Colt Thirty One storming to victory in the Gr.1 $250,000 TAB Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship. Trained and driven by Grant Dixon, Colt Thirty One ($4.60) sat off a hot pace before thundering down the outside to defeat Alta Orlando ($26) and Letsspendanitetogetha ($51) in the 2680m mobile start feature. Colt Thirty One created a new track record when recording a winning mile rate of 1:53.7 – easily eclipsing the previous mark of 1:54.8 set last year by Let It Ride. Win, lose or draw the title of Grand Circuit champion was safely in the keeping of Tiger Tara but that didn’t stop the double millionaire attempting to put an exclamation mark against his dream season. Triumphant in the Inter Dominion Grand Final, Victoria and Hunter Cups, the Kevin Pizzuto trained star was installed as favourite for the Brisbane feature despite a second-line draw but faced stiff opposition from a number of in-form rivals. With Our Uncle Sam, Cash N Flow and Ohoka Punter all leaving the gate with urgency, it was Ohoka Punter who owned the best gate speed as he cleared from his wide draw which left Our Uncle Sam without cover while Cash N Flow landed the position on the back of the leader. Dixon sat patiently towards the rear of the field and allowed Colt Thirty One to find his rhythm while the early jostling continued at a frantic pace. The lead time was covered in 75.5 seconds. Ohoka Punter led the way from Our Uncle Sam while Tiger Tara made his move passing the 1800m marker and really forced the pressure. The first half of the final mile was covered in 27.3 and 29.3 seconds. Entering the back straight, Ohoka Punter led the way with Tiger Tara drawing closer on his outside while many rivals started to feel the pinch. Cash N Flow raced roughly mid-way down the back straight and gave ground quickly which checked a number of runners including Northview Hustler. The third quarter was covered in 28.6 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Tiger Tara raced to a narrow lead while Watch Pulp Fiction loomed to his outside quickly before Colt Thirty One and Alta Orlando began to charge. Colt Thirty One held Alta Orlando while Letsspendanitetogetha bobbed for third just in front of Watch Pulp Fiction, Alleluia and Tiger Tara. The winning margin was 1.7 over Alta Orlando while there was a further 7.1m back to Letsspendanitetogetha in third. The final quarter was timed in 28.7 seconds. An official protest was lodged by driver Anthony Butt (Alta Orlando) against the winner for alleged interference over the concluding stages but was ultimately dismissed. “The speed was strong throughout which gave us an opportunity to work into it over the latter stages, he was solid in the straight and did it nicely.” Dixon said. The victory provided Dixon with his maiden Grand Circuit victory. Bred and raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour, the Mach Three – Charm Personified four-year-old registered his 32nd victory from 46 starts while his earnings now exceed $711,000. Colt Thirty One has now won three Gr.1 events to date. The 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season is now complete with Tiger Tara the official Grand Circuit champion after amassing 375 points for the term. Tiger Tara finished well clear of Thefixer (164) and Our Uncle Sam (121).   Chris Barsby

It's testament to the grit of champion South Australian harness racing driver Danielle Hill that there's not a hint of nerves in the leadup to her much-anticipated comeback to race driving at Globe Derby tonight. It's the second time that Hill has faced a comeback after horrific - potentially career-ending - injury but for the premiere reinswoman there's only excitement about getting back to the sport she loves. "I'm fine now but I'll probably be a bit edgy when I get there no doubt. I'll settle in though - I'm just excited to be back," Hill said. "It just all happened really quickly in the end. I've been hoping to get back but the doctors haven't given me the green light. But then this week they just told me that I'm good to go," she said. "I haven't been to the trials, but I did have a little fast-work test-run there (Globe Derby) mid-week and it felt great. I'm just jumping straight back in!" Danielle Hill takes the reins for three drives at Adelaide's Globe Derby Park tonight - the same track where five months ago, in the Group Three SA Pacing Derby she suffered a tibial plateau fracture (to the shin and knee) in a sickening crash. Hill was leading on Im Sir Blake when the pacer choked down and veered out before crashing into Major Exclusive (Darby McGuigan) and leaving Culture King (Paul Cavallaro) with nowhere to go. The horrific pile up left Hill and Cavallaro seriously injured, Cavallaro with a broken wrist and severe lacerations to his face and Hill requiring surgeons to later insert 12 pins and two plates to repair bones, ligaments and cartilage in her left knee and shin. In a strange twist of fate, Hill and Cavallaro had been involved in another shocking crash in 2010 at almost the same spot at Globe Derby - on that occasion, Hill was off the scene for an extended period, again with traumatic injuries including a broken jaw and head and facial injuries. Hill's return to the spider has been no walk in the park with months of rehab needed to strengthen the muscles supporting the damaged bones and ligaments. "I was hoping for swimming and massages - that would have been nice! The rehab team have been great, but they basically just told me to hit the gym, three days a week, so that's what I've done," Hill said. "I needed to bear weight and create and strengthen muscles to support a long-term recovery. And strangely enough I've actually turned into a bit of a gym junky. "It's not something I have ever done before, because with horses you don't really need exercise and let's face it, you don't have the time - but definitely it makes you feel different and stronger and I've really loved it. I'll probably need to keep it up, but that's not a bad thing at all." Hill and her brother Wayne followed the family trade of harness racing and she shares a passion for horses with her partner, trainer David Harding. Danielle and Wayne Hill combined to finish second at Mildura yesterday with Robbo She said being away from the stables was one of the things she found hardest about her layoff. "It was hard to stay away. You can only watch so much TV and I'm not into just sitting around anyway," she said. "I had a gopher and I just used to putt around the stables and around the horses and keep up with what was going on. "People said to me don't you think about getting hurt again, or if something goes wrong, but you just want to get back to it because it's what you love. "Yes, sure it's in the back of my mind, but I'm not worried about my leg - you can still drive with a prosthesis! It's the head you've got to worry about, and I'll worry about looking after that first. "But the thing with both of my bad accidents is that they were just that - freak accidents. They were no one's fault and that's part of what we do in our job. "I hear people every day talking about having to deal with this or that client, or this or that customer, or some terrible workplace. That's not me. I get to come out here and work with these guys - the horses. "How lucky am I that I can do this for a living? I just can't wait to get back out there." Hill has won the past three South Australian Driver's premierships, and, at the time of the February incident was a runaway leader for the 2019 title. It took her brother Wayne until June 8 to reel in his sister's lead in the title. Ken Rogers has since claimed the lead with 98 (Hill on 95 - and Danielle will take up where she left off in February, on 82 wins.) "I've still got time to catch them, don't you reckon?" Hill quipped. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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Widely-travelled harness racing driver former New Zealander Ben Woodsford drove his first Tasmanian winner in Hobart on Friday night. He was successful on Animi Sub Ignis, the first leg of a longshot double for trainer Bradley Walters who also scored with another $21 chance, Mavis Merle. Woodsford, who has 37 career winners to his credit, was living in Queensland when he came to Tasmania in May for what he thought would be one weekend. Trainer Gavin Kelly offered him a job while he was here. "I thought a change was as good as a holiday and now I'm stuck here," he said. Woodsford, 21, worked for Shane and Lauren Tritton in NSW before moving to Queensland. He had no involvement with harness racing in New Zealand but his father Steven is a thoroughbred trainer. Woodsford's willingness to drive trackwork at Brighton has led to him getting an increasing number of opportunities in races. Yole brothers stole the show Ben Yole moved to 166 wins for the season with a treble at Mowbray on Sunday night. He had all 12 runners in the race won by Fortino. His brother Mark holds a 14-win lead on the drivers' premiership with seven meetings remaining. Yole has won 79 races, only six shy of the tally that won him the 2015-16 premiership. The closest battle is for junior driver honours where Conor Crook, on 28 wins, leads Samantha Gangell by just one. Gangell has opened up a five-win lead over Hannah Van dongen on the female drivers' table. Bianca Heenan will win the female trainers' title by a big margin. She has 46 wins, more than double her nearest rival. Harness racing makes midweek move Tasracing has moved four harness meetings in September from Sunday nights to Wednesday nights. They will take the Sky 1 timeslot usually occupied by Redcliffe which is understood to be closing for renovations. It will be a good chance for Tasmanian harness racing to test the midweek waters. If the opportunity arises, a permanent midweek timeslot on Sky 1 would seem preferable to the Friday night Sky 2 meetings that struggle for turnover. By Greg Mansfield
Victoria's racing industry is set to be further strengthened following the establishment of a new tribunal designed to enhance and streamline the disciplinary and appeals process for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing. Acting Minister for Racing Jaclyn Symes on Tuesday announced appointments to the Victorian Racing Tribunal, which will hear and determine serious charges made against licensed persons by controlling bodies and stewards. The Victorian Racing Tribunal will also oversee the hearing and determination of a broad range of appeals, including those relating to penalties imposed by controlling bodies, and it takes over from the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in thoroughbred racing. The tribunal comprises some of the most experienced legal professionals in Victoria, led by chairperson Judge John Bowman, who has sat on the County Court of Victoria since 2001. Judge Bowman will work with three deputy chairpersons and 12 other tribunal members, including former County Court judges Graeme Hicks and Julie Nicholson, magistrate John Doherty and former lead financial ombudsman Dr June Smith. Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal vice-president Judge Marilyn Harbison and chair of Greyhound Racing Victoria's Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board and former Federal Court judge Shane Marshall will join ex-thoroughbred racing chairman of stewards Des Gleeson on the tribunal, along with retired jockeys Maree Payne and Greg Childs. Other tribunal members are Robert Abrahams, Josh Bornstein, Judy Bourke, Heidi Keighran, Amanda Upton and Andrew Gould. The Victorian Racing Tribunal will come into operation for the new racing season, starting August 1. The establishment of the tribunal is part of the Andrews Labor Government's comprehensive plan to ensure Victoria remains the pre-eminent racing state in Australia. The Victorian Budget 2019/20 includes a $72 million boost for local racing infrastructure and events and a $40m contribution to increase prizemoney for participants across the codes. The Victorian racing industry contributes $4.3 billion to the economy each year and sustains more than 33,000 equivalent full-time jobs across the state. Symes said: "We are committed to promoting fairness and integrity across all three codes of racing and the Victorian Racing Tribunal has a vital role to play in achieving this goal. "Members of the racing industry and punters, as well as the broader public, expect world-leading practice in this area and that's what we are delivering. "Led by Judge Bowman, the Tribunal boasts some of the best legal minds in the state and collectively they will bring fairness and impartiality to the important cases that will come before them." Reprinted with permission of Racing.com
Former talented Melbourne basketballer Hellen Scott is now shooting the lights out in the harness racing world. Scott, who has a team of 10 pacers in work at Albury, produced 80/1 longshot Grinning Punter to score a last-stride victory (a “buzzer-beater” in basketball parlance) at Wagga’s Riverina Paceway last Friday afternoon. Grinning Punter (Grinfromeartoear-Lucy Lynne (Christian Cullen) upset his more fancied rivals in the $6890 Pace for horses with a national rating up to 69. The gelding was driven a treat by concession driver Chris Judd, with the pair going wide on the home turn and arriving just in time in a blanket finish. Scott played for the Melbourne Tigers back in the 1980s under her maiden name Hellen Fewkes and had an awesome career representing Victoria in the sport. Hellen’s mum didn’t have a car licence, so public transport was the only option to get to training sessions.  The devoted youngster would travel by train from the family home at Faulkner to Melbourne, and then make her way to Albert Park. Hellen and her husband John left city life behind and made Albury their home in 1993, but Hellen was not lost to basketball, staying involved through coaching at schools up until this year when funding was cut. While John works with a landscape business, Hellen and their 19-year-old son Baily take care of horse training duties. John said seven-year-old gelding Grinning Punter had promised “to be anything” when he was purchased a few years ago from New Zealand by a group of keen owners. “The times he was capable of doing were just crazy.  He showed his potential at the old Wagga track by winning in 1.57 with a last half of 56.6 seconds. I thought he could win a city race without any problems,” John said. “But unfortunately, he ran into a patch of bad luck, firstly developing a heart murmur (an abnormal sound that originates from the heart valves), then fracturing a cannon bone when we sent him up to Sydney to be trained, which meant a long spell. “We’ve had him checked by vets and the heart is normal now, but he’s not going anywhere near like he was two-and-a-half years ago.” John said however Grinning Punter had been showing pleasing form leading up to his boil-over victory. “There’s no way the horse should have been those odds. He’d been quite good with a few placings and then wasn’t comfortable on the Albury track,” he said. “One of the owners Sandy Taylor was in the United States and somehow had some money on each way at 40/1, so she was very excited. Sandy and her husband Price and his brother go to the races and watch the horse whenever they can because it’s their first venture into the sport. “The other owners are Craig English, Glenn Teesdale and his son Jarman, and successful jockey Simon Miller and they’re also keen supporters.” The Scott team plans to keep racing Grinning Punter in suitable races at country tracks on a regular basis over the next few months. “He has never adjusted to the Australian heat and always goes better in winter and spring,” John said. “Baily is just busting to get his driver’s licence after doing a lengthy apprenticeship at the stables at home. Let’s hope when that time comes, he clicks with Grinning Punter and there’s some more longshot winners!” *Hoofnote: Grinning Punter finished a close-up second at Wagga yesterday paying a healthy place dividend of $3.60.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura
A harness racing Group 1 winning Sundon mare Fiery Mountain Girl, in foal to Love You, is being offered for sale by Yabby Dam Farms as part of its first broodmare reduction sale. This is a great chance to acquire a foal bred on the same cross as champions Monbet and Enghien, other group one winners Habibti and Habibti Ivy, Jewels winners Habibi Inta and Paramount King and 100k earners Dieu de L’Amour, Lotalov and Paramount Queen to name a few. Group 1 placed Amarula is also for sale, in foal to exciting French stallion Used To Me as is Group 1 placed Moyabamba. Also in the draft is NZ Trotting Oaks winner Commander Jewel and The Pink Diamond, a half-sister to the aforementioned champion Enghien, This is a genuine broodmare reduction sale, due to an influx of retiring mares from Yabby Dam Farms’ racing arm, and a change of direction, meaning a number of beautifully bred mares from its broodmare band are available for sale online on its website, on a first come first served basis. Yabby Dam Farms plan to make this an annual reduction sale offering a wide mix of mares, unproven, proven, young and old broodmares. Yabby Dam Farms mares The aim is to suit all clients, from established breeders to new breeders wanting to get into the game, or those trying to get into that special family through an older mare. So here is a great chance to supplement your broodmare band from this wide mix of empty, in-foal and maiden mares which includes Group winners and good producers, from some of the southern hemisphere’s best families, some in foal to the likes of Love You, Orlando Vici and the farm’s exciting resident stallion Used To Me, whose progeny have hit the track running including a recent Gr1 runner-up. Broodmare sales enquiries please call Dave on +64 21 245 2584 or email dave@harasdestrotteurs.com.au
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