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Trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi justified the faith placed in him by Queensland owner Jeroen Nieuwenburg when he brought Hokonui Ben home with a sparkling late burst to snatch victory from Northview Punter in the $50,000 MMJ Real Estate RWWA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Nieuwenburg shocked West Australian harness racing fans early this month when he switched Hokonui Ben from the stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and gave him to Cortopassi to train. In his final two starts for Hall Hokonui Ben Hall had scored a splendid all-the-way victory in the $400,000 WA Pacing Cup and then finished a half-head second to stablemate Livingontheinterest in the $35,000 Lord Mayor's Cup. Clint Hall was in the sulky for Hokonui Ben's WA Pacing Cup triumph, and in an ironic twist, Hall drove Northview Punter in Friday night's race. Northview Punter, a 7/1 chance, began with tremendous dash from the No. 3 barrier and burst straight to the front. Northview Punter looked the winner when he rounded the home bend full of running and holding David Hercules at bay. But he was unable to hold out 13/2 chance Hokonui Ben, who started from the back line and was tenth when he started a three-wide run 950m from home. Hokonui Ben was in eighth place, out wide, with 450m to travel before he thundered home to gain the upper hand in the final couple of strides. He beat Northview Punter by a neck, with David Hercules, equal favourite at 7/4 with polemarker This Time Dylan, a fighting third after starting from the outside of the front line. Morgan Woodley sent David Hercules forward in the first circuit, but the gelding was kept three wide by 26/1 chance Mysta Magical Mach until David Hercules finally got to the breeze after a lap. This Time Dylan enjoyed an ideal passage behind Northview Punter before finishing fourth. In an up-tempo race the New Zealand-bred Hokonui Ben rated a smart 1.55.8 over the 2536m and took his record to 18 wins and 15 placings from 53 starts for stakes of $581,639. His 29 starts in Western Australia have produced 12 wins and ten placings. "We were on a hiding to nothing when we took him and I had a big set of shoes to fill," taking a horse off Senior (Hall sen.)," Cortopassi said. "He has done a huge job with the horse and won the Pacing Cup. I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to race on with the horse. He's a lovely horse and is the real deal. He's probably the best horse I've had the opportunity to train. "Special thanks to Jeroen to have the faith in me to have a crack with the horse. We didn't have to do a lot with him. All I had to do was to try to keep him at that level after all the work that had been done with the horse previously. "This was probably the weakest race Hokonui Ben has contested for a while. There was no Im Victorious or Livingontheinterest. So he was probably the class runner and has done a great job. He really sprinted brilliantly. The race was put on as well after the early burn which made it for horses like him. Luck was on our side." LEDA McNALLY IS SPOT ON FOR THE LADYSHIP MILE AT MENANGLE Leda McNally completed her preparation for the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle next Sunday in dashing style with a stylish all-the-way win in the first prelude of the MMJ Land Sales Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The 5/2 on favourite was untroubled to bounce to the front from the No. 1 barrier and set a solid pace before sprinting over the final 400m in 27.9sec. to defeat Sensational Gabby by just under a length at a 1.57.2 rate over 2130m. Famous Alchemist (13/4) trailed the pacemaker and battled on doggedly into third place. It was a performance that pleased reinsman Chris Voak, who said that Pinjarra trainer Chris King had the five-year-old spot on for her battle against her nine rivals, including champion New Zealand four-year-old Adore Me and Baby Bling, winner of last year's Miracle Mile. "She has broken 1.54 on this track (Gloucester Park) and I've driven at Menangle and run at a 1.52 speed and I think that she can easily handle breaking 1.52 speed there," he said. "We'll rely on the barrier draw and hopefully there is genuine tempo in the race. She certainly does her best work when sat up." Voak said he was hopeful that Leda McNally (who will leave Perth for Sydney by air on Tuesday) would handle the travel and change of environment. He pointed out that Leda McNally had won the group 3 Norms Daughter Classic and the group 1 Mares Mile at Gloucester Park in November, with star New Zealand mare Bettor Cover Lover finishing third and fourth in those feature events. "So now we are hoping that Leda McNally is not affected by the travel," he said. The versatile Leda McNally has raced 50 times for 19 wins and nine placings for earnings of $278,308. BROWN PREDICTS BIG THINGS FROM MACH BANNER Recent New Zealand import Mach Banner gave a sample of his class and showed that he is capable of developing into a top-line performer in Perth when he set the pace and held on to beat the fast-finishing Marooned in the third heat of the MMJ Valuations and Consultancy Lewis Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Reinsman Colin Brown said that he had been informed by trainer Greg Bond and stable worker Ryan Warwick that Mach Banner's work during the week, and following his second West Australian appearance when fifth behind Im Victorious in the interdominion championship heat the previous Saturday, had been sensational. "This is the first time that he has put his hoof up, if you like, and declared how good he is," Brown said. "On the track he ran home in 26 (sec.) something and so the horse is on the way up. I think he has got a little bit of class." Mach Banner, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, arrived in Western Australia with a splendid record in top company in New Zealand where he had 55 starts for 12 wins and 17 placings for stakes of $225,565. Even though he performed soundly in the interdominion heat the previous Saturday and was favourably drawn at No. 2 on the front line on Friday night, Mach Banner was sent out second fancy at 9/4, behind the less-credentialled Northern Assassin, who started from barrier three as a heavily-supported 5/4 favourite. Brown stole a march on Northern Assassin when he urged the seven-year-old forward in the early stages to take up the running after 100m. Polemarker The Oyster Bar broke badly after 200m and Ryan Bell was left in the breeze with Northern Assassin. After a lead time of 37sec. Mach Banner reeled off quarters in 30sec., 29.1sec. 29.1sec. and 28.8sec. and he just held on to beat 15/1 chance Marooned, who trailed the leader before flashing home. Franco Torres, a 66/1 outsider, raced in the one-out, one-back position and finished third, with Northern Assassin wilting to sixth. LITTLE BOY BLUE PROVING A GOOD BUY FOR VAL MELLSOP Val Mellsop, wife of Waroona trainer-reinsman Bob Mellsop, made a wise decision when she outlaid $10,000 to purchase Little Boy Blue from Gary Elson last July. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old notched his fourth win for his new connections when Mellsop drove him to an effortless all-the-way victory from the No. 1 barrier in the 1730m MMJ Facilities Management Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. That boosted his earnings for the Mellsops to $29,930 and took his career record to 54 starts for 12 wins, 17 placings and $95,887 in prizemoney. Little Boy Blue, a strong-finishing winner at Harvey ten nights earlier, was favourite at 3/1 on and he gave his supporters no cause for concern. Little Boy Blue rattled home over the final 400m in 27.3sec. and won at a 1.56.1 rate by just over two lengths from 14/1 chance Hoylakes Firstlady, who started immediately behind the favourite and trailed him throughout. "He's going super and just like me, he loves being spoilt," Mellsop said. "I'm not in a hurry to come back to town. I'll run around in the country and milk it a little bit. He's only five, and he's sound." The win gave Mellsop a belated birthday present. He turned 57 the previous Sunday and had further reason to celebrate when he prepared The Big Bite for his all-the-way win in the Hahn Pace at Bunbury on Saturday night. The Big Bite was driven by Colin Brown and paid $12.40 on the tote. Little Boy Blue did not race in New Zealand. By Armbro Operative, he is out of Robyn Blue, a mare who earned $99,634 from eight wins and 17 placings from 48 starts. As a two-year-old in December 2004 Robyn Blue was placed three times behind Foreal in group 1 and 2 events for two-year-old fillies at Alexandra Park. TRUCKERS RUFFNUT PROVIDES A BOOST FOR EGERTON-GREEN Eight-year-old Truckers Ruffnut caused his second upset in the space of three starts in his long-awaited comeback when 21-year-old Dylan Egerton-Green celebrated his first drive behind the horse by bringing him home with a storming run to win the 2130m MMJ Investment Sales Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Not only was the win a triumph for Bunbury trainer Murray Hansen, but it gave Egerton-Green a timely boost before he represents Western Australia in the $50,000 Australasian Young Drivers championship at Menangle next Sunday. The State's other representative at Menangle next Sunday is Aiden De Campo, who drove even-money favourite Danieljohn in Friday night's race in which Truckers Ruffnut was an easing 33/1 outsider. Danieljohn started from barrier one and bowled along in front before he was overhauled by Truckers Ruffnut about 60m from the post. The final 800m was covered in 56.9sec. and Truckers Ruffnut rated a smart 1.56. Mighty Flying Thomas (4/1) trailed the pacemaker and finished full of running to be a close-up third. This was Truckers Ruffnut's fifth start after an absence of 39 months. He was successful two starts before Friday night's race when he started at 21/1 on the tote. He had been driven at his three previous runs before Friday by Shane Butcher, who returned home to New Zealand about a week ago. This gave Egerton-Green the opportunity to take the drive. Truckers Ruffnut started from barrier two on the back line and Egerton-Green had him three back on the pegs in fifth place at the bell when Rocky Marciano was in the breeze and Whos Mistake was enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. Egerton-Green got Truckers Ruffnut off the pegs 250m from home and took him three wide on the home turn. Truckers Ruffnut accelerated strongly and Danieljohn was powerless to defy his late challenge. Egerton-Green was the 13th reinsman to have driven Truckers Ruffnut during his 52-start career which has produced 20 wins, 14 placings and stakes of $249,770. "He did it pretty easily and was just too good," Egerton-Green said. "But I had to get stuck into him a bit. He was just being a bit cunning." Truckers Ruffnut, a top-flight juvenile who as a three-year-old won the group 3 WA Sales Classic, the group 1 $100,000 State Sires Series and the consolation of the Breeders Crown at Melton, damaged a suspensory ligament in 2010 and then injured his other leg. This is his fourth attempt at a comeback after he had gone amiss at his three previous attempts to resume racing. He is related to New Zealand-bred chestnut Motoring Magic, who earned $366,395 from ten wins and ten placings from 34 starts. FOOTNOTE: Aiden De Campo had three drives on Friday night for seconds with Conniving Major Dave and Danieljohn and a third with Trojan Bromac, all trained by his father Andrew. It was a different story at Donaldson Park in Bunbury the following night when they dominated the eight-event program. Aiden De Campo drove four winners --- Gotta Go Chocolate, Typhoon Tan, Vertical Four and Tricky Styx. The first three are trained by his father and Tricky Styx is trained by Jesse Moore. Andrew De Campo also trained Lovers Delight, who was driven by Chris Lewis for his smart victory in the Bunbury Patrons Cup. GALACTIC GALLEON PROVES TOO TOUGH FOR THE PACEMAKER Galactic Galleon maintained his recent splendid form and notched his fourth win from his past five starts when he revealed wonderful fighting qualities to get up a beat 2/1 on favourite Conniving Major Dave in the 2130m MMJ Real Estate Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. After starting from barrier two on the back line Galactic Galleon(second fancy at 6/1) was rushed forward by Colin Brown to race in the breeze, but well back from the pacemaking Conniving Major Dave. After a third quarter in 28.6sec. Conniving Major Dave looked the likely winner turning for home. But Galactic Galleon refused to give in and surged home to get to the front 40m from the post and win by a head from the favourite. The final section was also covered in 28.6sec. and the winner rated 1.58.6. "Galactic Galleon had the advantage of race fitness over the leader and that told in the end," said Brown. Galactic Galleon, by Art Major and the ninth and last foal out of the unraced Soky's Atom mare Moonshaker, was placed at three of his five starts in New Zealand and now has raced 23 times in WA for eight wins and ten placings. STAMPALIA REPEATS THE DOSE AND STEALS A MARCH WITH KRISTEN LOUISE Almost seven years ago Vance Stampalia drove horse No. 5 in the tenth and final event at Gloucester Park. He stole a march on his rivals when he set the pace with Black Line, an 11/2 chance trained by Debbie Padberg. Black Line went on to win from Ideal Lavros. Stampalia repeated the dose at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he was in the sulky behind the No. 5 runner, Kristen Louise, in the tenth and final event, the 2130m second prelude of the MMJ Real Estate Empress Stakes. He again stole a march on his rivals when he got Kristen Louise, the 16/1 rank outsider in a field of six, away to a flying start. Kristen Louise simply had too much pace for her rivals and burst to the front after 100m before setting a solid pace and winning by a half-length from 7/1 chance Selkie, who trailed her all the way. Ace of Cards came from the one-out, one-back position to finish third. Stampalia was able to get Kristen Louise to relax after her fast start and the four-year-old mare, the youngest and least experienced runner in the race, was able to dawdle through the lead time in 39.1sec. and the first 400m section of the final mile in a slow 32.3sec. She had plenty in reserve and was able to keep the opposition at bay with final quarters of 28.9sec. and 28.5sec. The wonderful connection behind the No. 5 runner in race ten is that Kristen Louise is closely related to Black Line. Kristen Louise, bred and owned by Marshall Taylor and Tony Glass, is the 11th foal out of Windshield Wiper mare Demarcation (a winner of nine races in Victoria). Demarcation's dam Picket Line produced ten winners of 109 races, including Black Line, who earned $255,232 from 18 wins and 13 placings from 78 starts. Picket Line is a half-sister to Shadow Line, who won 14 times in WA for Ken White. Stampalia drove Shadow Line twice for an 11th placing and a nose second to Guys Laughing over 1700m at Gloucester Park in September 2001. Kristen Louise has earned $38,590 from five wins and eight placings from 34 starts. LEWIS MAKES THE MOST OF A LUCKY BREAK WITH LORD COBURN Invariably when a horse gallops fiercely at the start of a stand the runner behind him meets with severe interference and frequently is virtually out of contention. The polemarker Czargem galloped badly when the tapes released the field for the MMJ Commercial property Management Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The well-supported 13/4 second favourite and last-start winner Lord Coburn was immediately behind Czargem on the inside of the 10m line. But most fortuitously Czargem veered outwards to provide a dream saloon inside passage for Lord Coburn, who burst straight to the front while the well-fancied Erris Lad was inconvenienced by the galloping Czargem and was foiled in an anticipated bid for the early lead. Chris Lewis then dictated terms in front with the Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Coburn, who was not extended in running the first two sections of the final mile in 31.5sec. and 30.2sec. before sprinting over the next two quarters in 28.6sec. and 28.5sec. to coast an easy 7m victory over Erris Lad, who had trailed the pacemaker all the way. Trojan Bromac, favourite at 3/1, fought on to be third after racing in the one-out, one-back position. "A bit of luck goes a long way," said Lewis. "You take it when you can. Obviously it made this horse's job a lot easier. Lord Coburn is in form and once he was in front he was going to be pretty hard to beat. I think he has stepped up a notch and he's definitely got more wins in him." The Victorian-bred Lord Coburn has had 53 starts for 14 wins, 14 placings and $103,665. He has had 15 starts in WA for four wins and four placings. PREORDAINED BREAKS THROUGH AND ENDS A LOSING SEQUENCE OF 16 Preordained, a New South Wales-bred five-year-old, had been unplaced at all his 16 appearances at Gloucester Park before he was sent out a warm 5/4 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier in the 1730m MMJ Commercial Strata Pace on Friday night. But he gave his supporters a giant scare before prevailing by a nose as he held on grimly to defeat the fast-finishing 11/4 second fancy Barkers Hall to end a losing sequence of 16. Preordained, driven by Morgan Woodley for Northam trainer Glenn Elliott, was beaten out by 25/1 chance Nuclear Bunny from barrier three. However, Nuclear Bunny was unable to cross to the pegs and Preordained, after a slick first quarter in 29.7sec., coasted through the next 400m in a leisurely 31.5sec. before final quarters of 28.8sec. and 28.9sec. Woodley dashed Preordained away after rounding the home turn, but the Parsons Den gelding had to fight grimly to keep Barkers Hall at bay. "He put the writing on the wall at Northam last week when he whizzed forward from an outside gate, got to the lead and hung in really good (when second to Fully Zapped)," Woodley said. "And on paper this looked like his race from barrier one over a mile on a predominately leader-biased track. Everything looked in his favour. "But it was a lot closer than I would have liked on the line. He got away with easy sectionals and I thought he would have had a fairly good kick left in the straight. But when I went for him there wasn't quite as much there as I thought I might have had. "I was definitely worried when Barkers Hall came at him. Preordained was a short-priced favourite and I probably could have made the decision just to keep sitting against the horse and keep Barkers Hall in a pocket a lot longer than I did. When I made the decision to kick I thought I had plenty in reserve. But then there were certainly nervous moments for me." Preordained has raced 59 times for eight wins, 14 placings and $50,703. IT'S JUST A STROLL IN THE PARK FOR MISTER JADORE It certainly looked a one-sided affair when Mister Jadore lined up against four moderate rivals in the $21,000 MMJ Commercial Leasing Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Mister Jadore was the State's star two-year-old in the 2012-13 season and went into the race as the winner of seven races and $168,129, with the combined earnings of his rivals being a mere $28,514 from a total of four wins. Starting at 10/1 on, Mister Jadore made it a one-act affair as Chris Lewis drove him to an effortless all-the-way victory, rating 1.58.4 after sprinting over the final quarter in 28.7sec. He crossed the line 19m ahead of the 9/1 second fancy Apache Cruiser, who trailed him throughout. Mister Jadore, trained by Annie Belton and raced by her and her husband Colin, boosted his prizemoney to $181,989 from eight wins and nine placings from 20 starts. "He has run a nice time, which he needs to at this time of the year," said Lewis. "It has taken him a little bit of time to get back to his best and he's now bringing his times down." by Ken Casellas  

Former New Zealander Unico Crown was again the victor in Heat Two of the prestigious Tontine Series for Trotters T0 or better class over 2590 metres at Stawell on Monday February 3. A winner of the first round heat at Geelong on January 27, Unico Crown was again eligible to compete due to a paucity of numbers accepting for the race and scored in almost identical fashion. Trained at Lara by Dean Braun and driven by Chris Alford, Unico Crown as he did at Geelong began swiftly from the 10-metre mark to lead and was never headed, defeating Craig Demmler’s smart gelding Glenferrie Typhoon which raced outside him for the majority of the trip when first up since August, going down by 3.6 metres in a rate of 2-08.9, with Will Atone (20 metres) 44.1 metres away in third place after making a mistake hitting the back straight on the final occasion. Unico Crown four year old gelded son of Monarchy and Sunny Gem will now head to the $7,000 Semi-Finals to be conducted at Terang this Sunday, with the $30,000 Final to take place at Ballarat on February 14. Last season’s very smart Yankee Spider/Rockolina gelding Miracle resumed in the Grampians Estate 3-Y-0 Trotters Handicap  over 2175 metres and as expected was untroubled to score. Trained and driven by Bolinda’s Chris Alford for owner Dolores Murphy, Miracle an almost faultless trotter, led throughout from the pole, winning with something in hand over Bacardi Breeze which trailed, moving to the outside on turning to fail by 1.5 metres in a rate of 2-10.8. No Trumps No Glory (three back along the markers last lap was a further 16.5 metres away in third spot. Miracle hadn’t been seen since finishing fourth in The Redwood at Maryborough on July 14. Mingbool (Mount Gambier) trainer/driver David Drury has a terrific strike rate when he crosses the border and landed the Renown Silverware Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1780 metres with four year old Blissful Hall/Art For Art Sake gelding Big Gorilla. Driven with aggression from gate two, Big Gorilla led throughout to record a 4.8 metre victory in 1-59.4 over Evil Trickster which raced outside him, with Jerry Marshall (one/one) dropping down to use the sprint lane on straightening to finish third 1.8 metres away. Heywood co-trainers Kevin Brough and Bec East have their team firing on all fours at present and snared the Brian Gunnell Memorial 3-Y-0 Pace over 1780 metres with ever reliable Total Truth/Mama Tembu gelding Always Wantano in a rate of 2-00.8. Starting from the extreme draw, driver Matt Craven sent Always Wantano forward from near last racing for the bell to park outside the pacemaker My Mach Scooter for the final circuit. Gaining the upper hand on straightening, Always Wantano scored by 3.4 metres in advance of Bungalally Boy which trailed the leader easing wide on turning, with My Mach Scooter weakening to finish third a head away. The Kaye Matthews Tribute a C1 class race over 2175 metres named in honour of the late Kaye Matthews an administrator with the club for a number of years, went the way of Long Forest trainer Andy Gath’s most consistent Mach Three/Fingers Crossed four year old mare Lems Cameo. Driven by wife Kate, Lems Cameo (gate four) made an unsuccessful bid for the front running as the mobile gate pulled away, but couldn’t head off Sorority Sister (gate two). Gaining cover shortly after when Cullen Time moved to race in the open, Lems Cameo enjoyed a perfect passage. Easing three wide in the last lap, Lems Cameo sprinted sharply to lead on the home turn, before racing away to record a 12.8 metre victory from Franco Seelster from last off a three wide trail in the final circuit, with Additallup flying home late for third after being shuffled back from three back the markers when Beau Ciel ahead of him was held up for a clear passage. The mile rate 2-02.7. Childers Cove duo Ange and Clare McDowell made a long awaited return to the winners list, when four year old Blissful Hall/Childers Elite gelding Masterofthurles (unplaced in six starts prior) greeted the judge in the Mussett Upholstery Pace for C0 class over 1780 metres. Despite racing without cover from gate three for the entire trip, Masterofthurles outstayed his rivals in defeating Glenway Hustler which led and Rose Devine (one/one) in a rate of 2-01. Great Western’s Michelle Wight was victorious with Armbro Operative/If Iseeyouinheaven five year old mare Shanira in the Pyrenees Smallgoods Pace for C1 class over 1780 metres. Given every opportunity one/one from gate five, Shanira when eased three wide at the straight entrance, finished best to score by a half neck over a death-seating Khaleesi and Tipperary Seelster which led in a rate of 2-01. By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

North America's winningest horse is among three 14 year-olds racing their last race this Saturday at Northfield Park. As the calendar will soon be turning to 2014 Armbros Revenge A, Anvil Raider N and How Forever Feels will be forced into retirement per the rules of the United States Trotting Association. Armbros Revenge A (Armbro Operative-Family Revenge-JJ's Pennant) drew the rail in the sixth race on Saturday's 14-race program. He will be making the 279 start of his career. He enters Saturday's race with 50 wins to his credit and a career bankroll of $247,439. His richest and fastest win was for a purse of $8,100 when he topped a $10,000 claiming event at The Meadows in 1:53.2 at age 11. Armbros Revenge A is owned by Gerald Lee Jr. of Coal Center, Pennsylvania. His trainer, Rachel Kaneoka has plans to, "Get him a good home as a riding horse. He is already broke to ride and loved doing it." She stated that she will be very selective in Armbros Revenge A's future home and until an acceptable place is found, "He will hang out on a farm." Anvil Raider N (In The Pocket-Motu Sweet Lady-Great Mann) makes his career finale from post eight in the evening's tenth race and looks for his 23 win this year. His 2013 win tally ranks him as the winningest horse in North America this year. He has 94 career victories in 280 starts and has amassed a bankroll of $339,412. His richest and 1:51 lifetime mark was in 2007 at Mohawk Raceway for a purse of $15,040. Will Johnson of Monroe, Michigan owns and trains Anvil Raider N and looks to turn him out at his farm after Saturday's race for a life of leisure. How Forever Feels (Stand Forever-Highland Tranquil-Nobleland Sam) drew the second tier in race 12 for the 353 and final start of his career. He has won 50 times and has earned $368,972. His richest win came in 2005, winning a $15,000 Open at Freehold Raceway in 2005. His 1:52.2 lifetime mark was paced at age 11 at Vernon Downs. How Forever Feels is trained by Misty Carey for New York owners Speed to Burn Racing and Michael Kessler. "How Forever Feels is my boy, my kids and I love him," said Carey. "He will retire to my farm. He has been broke to ride and we will continue to work on that, but so far he doesn't seem to like it much. He may just end up being a lawn ornament." Ayers Ratliff  

Jimmy Curtin like his late father Reg made the Westport meeting on Boxing Day a trip on the racing calendar that was always well and truly marked in year in year out. This year Jimmy had Maximan entered in the Pulse Energy Westport Cup and despite starting off the 10 metres the handicap proved to of little consequence as he strode to the parked position inside the final 1100 metres and from there looked completely in control widening his winning margin of four lengths the closer he got to the winning post from Jeans Majesty and Graduate Under Fire third. Rozelski  who was close to the pace be it wide inside the final 700 metres couldn’t kick on in the straight as punters would have liked finishing fourth. Maximan a five year old gelding by Armbro Operative recorded win number five and his stakes close to $50,000 for owner Russell Nieper. After nearly starting the day on a winning note with Galeena Curtin got the race he really wanted. His ability to set horses for the Westport circuit is legendary and the two time New Zealand Cup winning driver has plenty of respect so much so the despite Maximans passable run at Waimate when ninth of 14 the horse was kept very safe on the tote at $6 on the tote. The time of 4.10 for the 3200 metres was faster than Borana went to win his New Zealand Cup so the run was a very good one. Curtins maiden Galeena looks a good bet on the second day if it can draw the front line and of the beaten brigade today at Westport horses to follow for the second day are trotters Jean Sebastian and Gin Rummy both who got back in their respective races but made very good ground in the straight. The forecast for Sundays racing is for fine weather. Justin LeLievre

Todd Woodward knows he could still be making a living from driving tractors both here in New Zealand and in Western Australia. But after doing exactly that for a couple of years, the 43-year-old was back in the winner’s circle on Sunday when winning the sixth event on the Rangiora grass. Outsider Full Of Options provided him with his first victory since the 2010-2011 season. The 4-year-old Presidential mare, who was having her first start, is trained by Woodward’s boss, Robbie Holmes at Leithfield Beach. Holmes drove stablemate Cyclone Kiwi into second, resulting in a $65.40 stable quinella. “It’s good to be back and having that winning feeling again. You can’t beat it. I guess you could say it’s a bit like I’ve got a second lease life. “I did drive a couple of winners for former Kiwi Graeme Bond when I was contracting in Australia though. I helped him out for three months. “From May to July on I was driving tractors in WA and working with various crops like wheat. I did that stint twice,” Amberley based Woodward said. Woodward left harness racing after driving for 20 years and training for 10 (1998-2008). He has won 226 ($1.6m) and 40 ($175,583) races respectively. “I got bored and I knew I could get a tractor contracting job the day after walked away from racing - and I did. It was time for a change. Things were going stale. “But I must admit it is good to be back amongst the horses again. Once it’s in your blood it’s there for good. It’s something I have always done,” Woodward said. “It’s good to know that I’ve always got tractor driving to fall back on though,” he added. The punters rated Full Of Options the seventh favourite of 12 in Sunday’s Country Feasts Catering 1950m maiden, and she surprised most of them by paying $24.70 to win. Woodward got her up in a tight finish to get the decision by three quarters of a length in 2:33 even (mile rate: 2:06.2). Final 800m and 400m sprints: 60.8 and 28 flat. “She’s coming to it nicely and the ways she’s going I think she can certainly win at least a couple more. Cyclone Kiwi is a pretty smart horse and she did well beating him. “I was rapt with her performance. It was a bit of a thrill alright,” Woodward said. Full Of Options, who is owned by her breeder Mike Bidwell, went into her first race-day assignment with a couple of trial placings. She is the second foal of four out of Live Or Die mare, Two options. She won three of her 32 starts for Holmes. Her first foal, and only other racehorse – Armbro Operative 6-year-old mare, Opting Options, won two of her 21 starts for Holmes. Woodward said Holmes was working a team of about 40 on the beach. He said he was enjoying his time with him. “He’s a quality horseman and I think we work well together. Between us we both have a little bit of experience to call on. “Robbie has also got a quality team. If I was to single out one it would be Smiling Star. He’s a son of Grinfromeartoear, won eight races, and is very smart,” Woodward said. by Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

The Choice Hotels Country Cup Season is in full swing. Over the weekend we saw Savesomtimetodream win the Yarra Valley Cup and Macho Comacho win the Wedderburn Cup. The next Cup is at Cobram on December 27 followed by Horsham on January 5. SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup Night Once again the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup lived up to expectations as one of Australasia's greatest races. Congratulations to Luke McCarthy and the connections of For A Reason on becoming the latest addition to the heavyweight championship honour roll. For the punters, courtesy of a TAB jackpot, the First 4 on the Victoria Cup paid over $6,000. That is an enormous dividend given that the First 4 comprised the three placegetters from the Miracle Mile (Beautide, Christen Me and For A Reason) plus the reigning champ Caribbean Blaster. All four were excellent runs and it looks like a new breed of Grand Circuit competitors has arrived. In the Dullard Cup the striking looking Habibti blew everyone away which adds more excitement for the trotting gait. We now have the prospect of two 4yos going head to head, the mare Habibti and the outstanding colt Blitzthemcalder. Both will be major drawcards for the Great Southern Star in March. One of the most impressive wins on Victoria Cup night was 3yo Young Modern for Michael Stanley in the 3yo Sires Classic, franking his trial form at Ballarat a week earlier. Finally, a special thanks to Rob Merola and the team at SEW Eurodrive for their support of the Carnival. Vicbred 1st win bonus - $7,000 The first 2yo race for the season in Victoria was run at Geelong on December 5. While it may have gone relatively unnoticed, it was a significant event for Darren Cole - owner of winner Spot Ona Shadow. Darren was the first owner to benefit from the increased first win bonus under the Vicbred scheme from $5,000 to $7,000 this season. Added to the winner's stake for the race of $3713, meant a total earn of nearly $11,000 for the win. The second 2yo race at Kilmore on December 11 was also won by a Vicbred eligible filly (Viva Safari) therefore she also provided the Azzopardis with a $7,000 first win bonus. Ian Kitchin I was surprised to hear that Ian Kitchin has stepped down as Secretary of Harness Breeders Vic (HBV) at its recent Committee Meeting. Ian has been a tower of strength for HBV in that role for the best part of a decade. In that time HBV has become a respected organisation representing its membership of 700. In particular, Ian has been a great supporter of the HBV sponsorship deal with HRV, which promotes fillies and mares racing opportunities. The depth of Victoria mares racing is largely attributable to the support of HBV. I hope that Ian remains involved with HBV and continue his breeding interests. He has been a terrific servant to the industry. Australasian Premier Trotting Sale The second Australasian Premier Trotting Sale will be conducted the day after the Great Southern Star on March 23, 2014, following the very successful inaugural sale this year. Click here for the 2014 Sale Catalogue including the pedigrees for some outstanding trotting yearlings. A reminder also that the APG Yearling Sale is set down for Sunday February 2, the day after the Hunter Cup. HRV Community Grants As part of HRV's commitment to the community, through our venue at Tabcorp Park, HRV makes available $50,000 per annum for: Community support Welfare of the Community; and Local infrastructure On Thursday December 5 HRV Chairman Ken Latta, presented the $50,000 cheque to the City of Melton, to be distributed to this year's successful applicants: Kurunjang Primary School Coburn Primary School Brookside College Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of Victoria The Gap on Graham Lynda's Hampers Derek Foden Rover Crew Rotary Club of Melton Valley Little Diggers Playgroup Western Regional Health Centre Melton Combined Youth and Special Needs Club Association Multiple Sclerosis Melton Community Safety Register Melton Chinese Friendship Association Charity support HRV once again has been a major supporter of charities during 2013. Quite apart from the $50,000 Community Fund above, HRV has supported the following charities in 2013: Children's Tumour Foundation Women's Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute Leigh Plunkett Foundation - Leukaemia Melton Rotary (State Emergency Services - Local Community Groups) HRV Staff Neal Conder Neal has been appointed to the position of Chairman of Stewards, having been acting in the role for some months. Neal is a highly regarded member of the HRV integrity team and together with General Manager Integrity Andy Rogers they form a formidable team to deal with the both the industry challenges and the demands of the statutory governance requirements. I wish Neal well for a long and successful career. Milestones Gary Bennetts is the latest staff member to achieve a milestone having completed 20 years continuous service. In reviewing the list of milestones, I am amazed to see that HRV has no fewer than 25 full time employees who have served 10 years or more at HRV. Of those 25, 3 have achieved 30 years and a further 4 are in the 20 years plus category. Vale Con Rigby HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of Con - a respected trainer driver - at the age of 83. Based in the Macedon Ranges area for a long period of his life, Con was involved with a number of well performed horses such as Champagne Soky, Romile, Bullengar Tealsby, Polish and the smart trotter Carol Rose. Con's last winning drive was on Funnyfaceiloveyou at Kilmore in June 2004. Arthur Bell Victorian trotting's longest serving bookmaker Arthur Bell passed away suddenly in late November. Arthur had worked at every Victorian track at one stage and quite often in the early days would work a double header travelling hundreds of miles between venues. One of his great loves was the Mildura Cup meeting each year, rarely missing one. Armbro Operative HRV also recognises the contribution made to the Australian breeding industry by Armbro Operative, which passed away recently at the ripe old age of 27. Having sired 2,238 Australian bred foals, his progeny here went on to earn $37.3m in stakes. His highest earner was Fleur De Lil. She earned in excess of $1m. Did You Know? The first 2yo winner for the season Spot Ona Shadow was by Alabar's Shadow Play - that stallion's first Australian starter. The Manning family trained the entire card at the Ararat meeting on December 10 - Peter (4), Kerryn and Michelle each training winners. Christmas/New Year Office Hours HRV's office will close at 3pm on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. It's business as usual on all other days except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous 2014!  

Great Western's Manning family - father Peter and daughters Kerryn and Michelle may have created history at the nearby Ararat HRC fixture held on Tuesday December 10, by winning every race on the six event card. Peter prepared four winners Sunnyandcher, Znana, Rinashi and Valentino Rustler, Kerryn drove three Sunnyandcher, Znana and Suerte which she also trains, while Michelle scored aboard Shanira for herself and Rinashi. Seven year old ex-Kiwi mare Sunnyandcher a daughter of Sundon and Cherourwishes who at times can be a little risky, was successful in the Bricklayers Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2165 metres. Settling mid-field in the moving line from a 20 metre handicap, Sunnyandcher was sent forward three wide solo in the back straight on the final occasion to give chase to the leaders. Finishing determinedly, Sunnyandcher proved too strong for the ever reliable Stunning Jasper which raced outside the pacemaker Family Decision before leading into the straight, with Mister Beckham (one/one) third. The mile rate 2-06.7. Art Major/Ananz filly Znana brought up a hat-trick by taking out the Plumbers Pace for C0 class over 1790 metres in a rate of 2-01.7, much to the delight of Adelaide's Cormack family who also race Sunnyandcher. Speeding across the face of the field from outside the front line to lead, Znana treated her rivals with contempt, scoring by 4.5 metres over The Jiggler which led out from gate two before handing over to the winner. Onlyeconomyclass ran on late from mid-field to finish in third place. Former Kiwi six year old gelding Suerte (Falcon Seelster/Atomist) opened his Australian account by easily taking the Plasterers Pace for C1 class over 2195 metres. Making his third appearance on Australian soil, Suerte was never in any danger, leading throughout from gate three to register a 11.6 metre victory in advance of Thewaytolive which trailed from the pole, with Mayorshinetown third after racing in the open. The surprise winner of the evening was 5-Y-0 Armbro Operative/If Iseeyouinheaven mare Shanira in the Earthworks Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 1790 metres. Starting from gate two on the second line, Shanira enjoyed a cosy trip, with the well supported Viva Courage burning to the front from gate three. Sent forward three wide in the approach to the final bend, Shanira ran on gamely to gain the day by 1.9 metres over the pacemaker in a rate of 2-01.7, with Mystic Soldier (three back the markers) 12.9 metres away in third place. Four year old Town Champion/Epona Sunshine mare Rinashi was tough in her 1.8 metre victory of the Engineers Pace for C0 class over 1790 metres. Despite racing parked from gate five outside Artois Stone (gate three) from the outset, Rinashi surged to the front in the last lap and defied a strong challenge from Peters Ace all the way up the running. Shalamint which trailed the weakening front runner finished third 5.3 metres away. Tough as teak six year old Rustler Hanover/Cuddle Me Good gelding Valentino Rustler registered his 4th victory in 69 outings by winning the Builders Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1790 metres in a rate of 1-59.5. Taking a concession for Terang's Jason Lee, Valentino Rustler momentarily settled one/one from gate two with the pole marker Spiral Jet leading from Gnotuk (gate four). One the tempo slowed, Valentino Rustler was eased three wide to assume control racing for the bell and from that point, the race was as good as over. Racing clear on the home turn, Valentino Rustler was untroubled to score by 9.3 metres over Our Burning Desire (three back the markers) and Garabaldi Union (one/one) a stablemate of the winner. Len Baker  

A meticulous long-range plan, carefully-mapped out by Victorian trainer-reinsman Daniel Jack returned handsome dividends when the lightly-raced Nowitzki scored an impressive victory in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A sizzling start paved the way for the Art Major four-year-old who burst straight to the front from barrier two and set a solid pace before winning by 2m from 43/1 outsider Smokey The Bandit, with 29/1 chance Heez On Fire charging home from the rear to be third, just ahead of the even-money favourite Chilli Palmer. The win was the culmination of Jack's plan to bring the gelding from Victoria to Western Australia early in September. This was to give Nowitzki every opportunity to become acclimatised to the local conditions. Nowitzki spent two months at Pinjarra before making his WA debut, when he was surprisingly beaten into second place by Our Boy Su in a city M0-class event on November 8. He then led from the No. 1 barrier and won the $50,000 Retravision Four-Year-Old Championship from Mexicano before starting from the outside of the front line and finishing ninth behind Chilli Palmer in the McInerney Ford Classic. A $100,000 yearling, Nowitzki has earned $207,925 from his nine wins and five placings from 18 starts and he looks certain to develop into a quality grand circuit performer. Nowitzki was a $6.80 chance on the tote, with polemarker Chilli Palmer, the brilliant last-to-first winner of the McInerney Ford Classic a fortnight earlier, all the rage at evens from the prized No. 1 barrier. Jack stole a march on his rivals when Nowitzki revealed sparkling early speed to charge straight past Chilli Palmer and into the lead when the mobile barrier released the 12 runners in the 2536m journey. Condrieu began speedily from barrier six and quickly moved into the breeze, while Chilli Palmer settled down in sixth position before Chris Alford eased him off the pegs and into the one-wide line. It was while Chilli Palmer was struggling to muster early speed that Ashleigh Markham urged Smokey The Bandit forward from barrier two on the second line to get into the prime position behind the pacemaker. Nowitzki relaxed after his early burst of speed and was able to coast through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.3sec. before sprinting the next three quarters in 28.5sec., 28.4sec. and 29sec. He rated 1.57.5. Bit Of A Legend (13/4) was sixth after a lap in the one-wide line, and was being followed by Chilli Palmer. Bit Of A Legend started a three-wide move with about 1100m to travel and again he was followed by Chilli Palmer. However, Nowitzki showed no signs of weakening and it was left to the unheralded Smokey The Bandit to issue the only serious challenge in the home straight. Jack threw the kitchen sink at Nowitzki and he was suspended from driving for 14 days for an improper whip action in the home straight. The stewards also fine him $200 for loose reining --- for throwing the reins extravagantly as the gelding charged towards the finishing post. Markham was fined $400 for an incorrect whip action. "I have a very high opinion of Nowitzki and wasn't really concerned during the race," Jack said. "You go out there and try to beat one horse (Chilli Palmer) and you often come unstuck and something else beats you. That's racing and, thankfully, that wasn't the case tonight. He now has earned a spell." Nowitzki is the sixth foal out of the Armbro Operative mare Full Pleasure, who had 26 starts in 2001 and 2002 for three wins in NSW and seven in Victoria for earnings of $106,496. Full Pleasure's first six foals are all winners (of a total of 75 races), with her second foal Kept For Pleasure having 37 starts for 19 wins, ten placings and $542,343 and Lebron earning $155,084 from 22 wins and Its My Pleasure winning 14 races and $141,908. CORTOPASSI MAKES THE MOST OF CHANCE DRIVE BEHIND HEZ THE BART MAN New Zealand-bred eight-year-old Hez The Bart Man bounced back to form with a vengeance when he sustained a powerful three-wide burst to win the 2130m Jayden Barber Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to end an eight-month drought and snap a losing sequence of 16. A 27/1 tote outsider, he was driven for the first time by Aldo Cortopassi, who brought the gelding home with a spirited three-wide burst from fourth at the bell to a decisive one-length win over stablemate Red Salute (24/1). This gave Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri a quinella result. The stable's No. 1 reinsman Chris Lewis had the choice of driving either horse and when he chose last-start winner Red Salute it gave Cortopassi the chance of handling Hez the Bart Man. Western Cullen was a hot favourite at 2/1 on from the No. 1 barrier. As expected, he set the pace, and even after a slow first quarter of the final mile in 31.2sec. he wilted over the final 400m to finish sixth. Hez The Bart Man hit the front 320m from home and he won from Red Salute, who finished with admirable determination. Courage Tells, who trailed the pacemaker, finished third. The final 800m was covered in 56.3sec. and the winner rated a slick 1.56.2 to take his record to 56 starts for 11 wins, 21 placings and $125,333 in stakes. "I knew there was going to be a lot of early speed and we got a really good trip into the race," Cortopassi said. "He toughed it out really good. As soon as I got the plugs out and gave him a cut with the whip he levelled out and knew where the line was." J WALKER EXCELS AT FIRST OUTING FOR THREE MONTHS Young Henley Brook trainer Robbie Williams predicted more wins for New Zealand-bred gelding J Walker after driving the seven-year-old to a splendid first-up victory in the 2503m Russky the Bandit Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. "I've got a bit of an opinion of this bloke," he said after J Walker, a 7/1 chance off the back mark of 20m, had thundered home from last in the middle stages and from eighth at the bell to win easily from the pacemaker Bobby Teal (12/1) and 13/1 chance Turnpike Cruiser, who rattled home from last with a lap to travel. J Walker, who hit the front 120m from home, was making his first appearance for three months and his win broke a losing sequence of nine. "He's had a few little niggles, so we put him out in the paddock," Williams said. "And now he seems to be over them. My only concern tonight was that I thought he was a little bit big in condition." J Walker now moves to an M3 classification and looks capable of advancing to a tighter mark. He has raced 80 times for 16 wins, 19 placings for $149,926 in prizemoney. His win on Friday night completed a double for Williams, who had been successful earlier in the night with Franco Torres. COOL JOHNNY SPARKLES ON HIS RETURN TO RACING Cool Johnny, a lightly-raced five-year-old prepared at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, reappeared at Gloucester Park at Gloucester Park on Friday night after an absence of 11 weeks and he surprised reinsman Colin Brown with the ease of his victory. "I can't say that his trackwork has been exceptional. But he certainly lifted tonight," Brown said. "The barrier draw (No. 1) certainly helped." Cool Johnny was solidly supported and started at 7/4. He was smartest into stride and after quarters of 30.1sec. and 30.8sec., he sprinted over the final sections in 29.7sec. and 28.3sec. He rated 1.58.4 and defeated What God Knows (13/2) by just under four lengths. Soho Redford, who raced in the breeze, fought on grandly to be third. Soho Highroller (7/4) was popular with punters, but he was trapped three wide all the way before wilting from third at the bell to sixth. It was a fine effort. "Ï had a good look at the 400m and a few of them were struggling," Brown said. "We appeared to be travelling okay, so I dashed him away. The last thing you want to do is to get run over by something sprinting over the top. He finished it off well." Cool Johnny won once from three starts in New Zealand now has a record of 22 starts for nine wins and three placings for stakes of $48,904. MENELAUS OF SPARTA SHINING UNDER SMITH'S GUIDANCE Kenwick trainer Brett Smith made a wise decision three months ago when he claimed six-year-old Menelaus of Sparta for $10,000 on behalf of his mother Jenny and a few friends. Menelaus of Sparta has flourished under Smith's care and he maintained his excellent form when he stormed home from the rear in the middle stages to score an easy victory in the 2130m David Cairo and Jamie Congerton Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This took his record for Smith to 12 starts for five wins and two placings for $33,715 in stakes and his overall record to 17 wins, 19 placings and $111,346 from 74 starts. Smith is serving a term of suspension for causing interference and this created an opportunity for Morgan Woodley to drive Menelaus of Sparta for the first time. "All credit to Brett," Woodley said. "He has got this horse absolutely flying at the moment. He's been a revelation under his training. Tonight he's got the perfect run into the race. From the 1200m to the 400m they've run that half in 58.2sec. before the final quarter was run in 29sec. That was right up this horse's alley. He can let down realty well and he showed that tonight." Menelaus of Sparta started at the handsome odds of 14/1, mainly because most punters pinned their faith in veteran Pembrook Henry from the No. 1 barrier. Dylan Egerton-Green jumped Pembrook Henry in front, but the gelding was placed under heavy pressure when Absolute Cool paced strongly in the breeze. Rojen Cruz rattled home from last in the middle stages to be second, one length behind Menelaus of Sparta and Pembrook Henry did well to finish third, with Absolute Cool in fourth place. WILLIAMS BRINGS FRANCO TORRES (33/1) HOME WITH A POWERFUL BURST Robbie Williams made the most of the opportunity to drive Franco Torres in the Happy Birthday Ryan Berti Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Shannon Suvaljko, the No. 1 driver for the Debbie Padberg stable, opted to drive the Mike Reed-trained Taiaha. Taiaha was a solidly-supported 2/1 favourite from the No. 1 barrier, while Franco Torres was a 33/1 outsider, going into the 2130m event with a losing sequence of 11. Taiaha set the pace, while Williams, driving Franco Torres for the first time, was content to keep his horse in sixth position in the one-wide line. Wrongly Accused worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front with 400m to travel. However, Franco Torres sprinted home strongly over the final quarter in a28.6sec. to burst to the front in the closing stages to beat Wrongly Accused by just over a length. Bet Your Life came from three back on the pegs to be third, a nose ahead of Corza Commotion, who finished powerfully from ninth (on the pegs) at the bell. Taiaha faded to finish last in the field of 12. The New Zealand-bred Franco Torres has earned $77,624 from ten wins and 17 placings from 63 starts. EGERTON-GREEN LANDS BLACKNSWEET ADDA AT HANDSOM ODDS Young reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green maintained his splendid form in the sulky when he brought 13/1 chance Blacknsweet Adda home with a strong burst to win the V. and K. Congerton Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Herne Hill Trainer Kevin Keys engaged Egerton-Green to drive the four-year-old for the first time and it proved to be a wise decision with Egerton-Green trailing the pacemaker Miss Tee Dawn until he urged Blacknsweet Adda forward approaching the home turn. Miss Tee Dawn, driven by ace New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn, was showing signs of weakening and Blacknsweet Adda hit the front 90m from the post before winning by just over a length from Pure Empathy, who sizzled home out five wide after being last in the middle stages and tenth at the bell. Blacknsweet Adda ended a losing run of seven and took her record to five wins and seven placings from 28 starts for stakes of $43,090. SOHO MONZA BRERAKS THROUGH AFTER A SUCCESSION OF MINOR PLACINGS Five-year-old Soho Monza was rewarded for his consistency when he broke through for an overdue win at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Pacific Fella gelding, bred and owned by Rob Watson, had been placed at eight of his past 13 starts since winning at Northam early in July. He drew the prized No. 1 barrier and was favourite at 10/9 on. Hopeland trainer Kim Prentice set Soho Monza the task of leading all the way and the gelding responded in fine style, sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.8sec. and 28.7sec. to win by 2m from veteran pacer Cometao, who fought on grandly after racing without cover. Mister Roberto ran on from seven and last at the bell to be third. Soho Monza is the first foal out of the Perfect Art mare Spic And Spangled, who raced only five times for two wins at Kalgoorlie in October-November 2006. The Victorian-bred Spangled Black, the great granddam of Soho Monza, had 64 starts in the 1980s for 12 wins, 18 placings and $64,114. HERBIES DREAM GIVES PADBERG THE FIRST LEG OF A DOUBLE Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg's recent run of successes continued at full tilt at Gloucester Park on Friday night when she landed a double --- with Herbies Dream and Franco Torres. This followed her good night at Northam on Thursday evening when she had four starters for a win with Hez Got The Nod, seconds with Sir Ricky and Alta Onassis and a third with Big Bad Wolf. The New Zealand-bred Herbies Dream was an 8/1 chance and Shannon Suvaljko made the most of the prized No. 1 barrier by setting the pace and winning by just under a length from Grand Cru (who trailed the leader throughout), with the 5/4 favourite Notabadexcuse a half-head away in third place. Notabadexcuse raced in fifth position before starting a three-wide move approaching the bell. He fought on doggedly at his first start for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and should pay to follow. Herbies Dream raced 22 times in New Zealand for three wins and seven times in New South Wales for one win before arriving in Western Australia where his four starts have produced one win. HOT HOLIDAY NEVER GETS TIRED, SAYS SKALECKI Hot Holiday, who broke three times in running when a distant eighth behind Earl Harbour in a race at Gloucester Park last Friday week, was on his best behaviour when he trotted faultlessly and scored an effortless victory in the 2130m Kyle and Dozer Trot on Friday night. After the race Skalecki said that the Natalie Duffy-trained seven-year-old had been at a disadvantage the previous week because he had raced without front shoes. "He has gone super tonight," Skalecki said. "He went round without front shoes last week and that made it a bit difficult. Tonight we were pretty confident. That's where he likes it, outside the leader. "He doesn't like chasing too hard, but once he's up there (in the breeze) he'll just grind all day. He never gets tired and he'll just fight." Prince Eddie (5/2) set the pace and Skalecki was quite happy to have Hot Holiday, the 2/1 favourite, in the breeze. Hot Holiday forged to the front 420m from home and raced Away to score by four lengths from Backas Cobber, who ran on from the rear. Hot Holiday has raced 60 times for 15 wins, 16 placings and stakes of $130,849. by Ken Casellas  

Two meetings were held in Victoria on Thursday December 5, with Geelong racing in the afternoon and Nyah at Swan Hill in the evening. At Geelong, Terang owner/trainer Darren Cole produced a nice juvenile by the name of Spot Ona Shadow to land the Bartletts Enviromental 2-Y-0 Pace over 1609 metres when all runners were making their race debut. With young Tim McLean in the sulky, Spot Ona Shadow a gelded son of Shadow Play and Charlotte Church began with great zest from gate five to lead throughout in accounting for Stitchintime which raced outside him 13.3 metres in a rate of 2-00.6, with Captain Bronze (oneone) third. Beautifully bred Bettors Delight/Top Tempo four year old mare Musical Delight a former outstanding youngster, had an easy 13 metre victory in the Chas Cole Cellars Pace forC0 class over 2100 metres. Trained at Drouin by Gary and Debbie Quinlan, Musical Delight unbackable at $1.10, led throughout for reinsman Nathan Jack to score untouched in advance of Shes His Story and Bye Bye Luv Lombo in a rate of 2-02.4. Winning nine from 14 outings, Musical Delight has stake earnings in excess of $234,000. Exciting Hawkesdale (Western District) four year old Blissful Hall/Weona Rena entire Bliss Man brought up four wins in succession when victorious in the Your Business name Here Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2100 metres in a mile rate of 1-59.4. Taking a concession for Terang's Jason Lee, Bliss Man trained by Graham Gee for wife Christine, had little trouble leading from the pole and was always travelling under a tight grip. Given an inch of rein approaching the home turn, Bliss Man bounded away to record a 13.2 metre margin last half 56.7 - quarter 28.6 ahead of Nimble Jack along the sprint lane from last, with Amazing Kano third after racing in the open. Highly talented four year old Art Major/Maikona mare Glenferrie EJ is starting to show the potential she was touted with and made it two from two this time in when successful in the Zilco Pace for C1 class over 1609 metres. Trained at Parwan by Craig Demmler for Peter Chambers' Glenferrie Farm Pty Ltd, Glenferrie EJ from gate two was beaten for speed by Antiquities (gate five), with Jodi Quinlan immediately easing around her to take over the front running role. After that, it was a procession as Glenferrie EJ coasted to the wire to score by 4.7 metres untouched from the in-form Bit Of A Babe from mid-field, with Howcomewhynot third. The mile rate 1-58.1. At Swan Hill, Echuca trainer Wayne Lear took the honours by providing a stable double - Seven year old Royal Mattjesty/My Halo Broke gelding Who Broke Our Halo in the Swan Hill & Kerang Toyota Sandstorm FJ Pace for C2 class over 1609 metres and four year old Artesian/Glimpse mare Philotes in Swan Hill & Kerang Toyota Crystal Pearl Pace for C0 class (mares) over the same journey. Who Broke Our Halo (Rebecca Bartley) settled mid-field in the moving line from gate two on the second row, before moving forward three wide solo in the last lap. Sustaining the run, Who Broke Our Halo was too strong over the concluding stages for the heavily supported local Cashisking along the sprint lane from three back the markers last lap, with On Fire Within third after facing the breeze before assuming control at the bell. The mile rate 1-56.3. Philotes (Daryl Douglas) spent the first lap in the open from outside the front row, before gaining cover when Madsisteritis came away from behind the leader In Theory heading into the back straight on the final occasion. Taken three wide approaching the home turn, Philotes ran home strongly to gain the day over Maarek (one/one) and Shes A Spy along the sprint lane (three back at bell) in a rate of 1-58. Lightly raced, it was Philotes 4th race appearance. Kerryn Manning snared the Swan Hill Kia Honey Bee Cerato SLI Pace for C3 to C5 class over 2240 metres with Metropolitan/Liberty Print five year old gelding Kickittochris in a rate of 1-57.9. Starting from the extreme draw, Kickittochris spent most of the race at the rear of the field, before latching to the back of Run Forrest ahead of him at the bell, with the Shane Cramp trained Queen Mab at the head of affairs. Eased four wide on the final bend, Kickittochris put the race beyond doubt in a few strides as he exploded away to record a 2.6 metre victory over the local hope Life Of Ted which followed him home. Ezee Duzit Lombo finished third after a chequered passage just off the speed. Avenel's Wayne Potter made the trip to Swan Hill with happy results, when heavily backed five year old Armbro Operative/The Milky Way gelding Teo Enteo captured the Swan Hill Toyota Dark Furnace Kluger Pace for C6 or better class over 2240 metres. Driven by Nathan Jack, Teo Enteo first up since July possied one/one from gate two on the second line, with Kerryn Manning's Jaccka Luke leading from gate three. Easing three wide approaching the home turn, Teo Enteo sprinted brilliantly to join Jaccka Luke on turning, with the pair going head and head to the wire, with Teo Enteo prevailing by a neck in 1-58.1. Centonic (one/three - three wide last lap) finished third. Len Baker      

The Chariots on Fire Syndicate No 2, a group sponsored by Harness Racing South Australia had their initial success as a syndicate, when the three-year-old filly Miss Sophia saluted the judge at Port Pirie in November .   The 20 strong syndicate comprises names such as former AFL footballers Graham Cornes, Chris McDermott and Stephen Rowe and dual Melbourne Cup winning jockey John Letts.   The Art Major filly is raced on lease by the syndicate from well-known breeder-owner and SA BOTRA (Breeders, Owners, Trainers & Reinspersons Association) committee member Vivienne Clark   Clark bought Miss Sophia, by Art Major and is the first foal of the Armbro Operative mare I Don't Share, for $14,500 at the 2012 Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne Sale,   Her dam I DONT SHARE took a lifetime mark of 1:57.5 on the way to winning over $25,000 in prize money.   I DONT SHARE , and hails from a family that has developed a reputation for producing outstanding fillies. Some of the fillies in her immediate pedigree include:   GIRL CALLED DESTINY - Winner of Queensland Oaks (Gr.1)   DONNA WHO - Winner of APG 2yo Fillies Final (Gr.1)   ARMIDA - Winner of Bathurst Gold Tiara (Gr.1)   LA SPERANZA - Winner of Kay Seymour Nursery Pace 2yo Fillies Final (Gr.2)   WHOS ESCAPED NZ - Over $100,000 in earnings including a win in 1:52.7 at Menangle in 2012 After 11 starts as a 2 year old Miss Sophia for 3 seconds and 6 thirds, including thirds in the Southern Cross Heat and Repecharge before finishing seventh to Flagbearer in the final.   Miss Sophia is trained by BOTRA president Ray Holberton who had plan to race the filly on Itailain Cup night at Betezy Park Globe Derby but the race failed to hold up.   Miss Sophia has had another start, since her first up win that being at headquarters since winning but had little luck from an outside draw   Gary Newton    

A night of competitive racing was held at Kilmore on Tuesday November 26, with the Avenel area taking the honours. Former Kilmore trainer Wayne Potter now based at Avenel, snared the Jet Roofing Pace for C4 & C5 class over 1690 metres with sit/sprint specialist Tombstone Eden in a mile rate of 1-58.8. Driven by Nathan Jack, Tombstone Eden from gate two on the second line settled four back in the moving line, before gaining a beaut three wide trail home in the last lap on the back of Gangster Boy ahead of him. Despite making the final bend four wide, Tombstone Eden sprinted home brilliantly to defeat Post It Away (one/one – outside the leader Whosgunnagetit from the bell) and Easy Lighting who was never better than three wide the trip. A five year old daughter of Armbro Operative and Eve Of Eden, Tombstone Eden has recorded nine wins from 37 race appearances. Other Avenel winners on the program were five year old Art Major/Vangold entire Cold Major for David and Josh Aiken who was successful in the Goulburn Murray Credit Union Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2180 metres following a gigantic performance at Shepparton a week earlier and promising mare Vics Cheval who was first up since June in A Harness Christmas At Kilmore 11 December Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2150 metres. Taking a concession, Cold Major bred by Queensland millionaire Clive Palmer had little luck from gate four being trapped wide,before being sent forward to park outside the pacemaker Fifth And Broadway (gate two) who was the favourite. Gaining cover mid-race after Amazing Kano moved to face the breeze, Cold Major when eased wide on turning, finished his race off well to score from Big Zee (mid-field) using inside runs prior to the home turn before easing wide on straightening and Major Deed in a mile rate of 1-59.7. David was to finish the night on a high note when extremely talented Yankee Boy/Vics Lady four year old mare Vics Cheval recorded her 4th victory in 16 outings. Starting from the pole, Vics Cheval raced very roughly as the starter released the field, being given plenty of time to find her feet, settling four back along the markers with the roughie Ifu Seek The Luck leading from barrier three. When Jumeirah Jane ahead of her was eased away from the inside to face the open for the run along the back straight on the final occasion, Vics Cheval immediately latched to her back for a nice ride home. Issuing a strong challenge to Jumeirah Jane on the home turn, Vics Cheval gained the upper hand shortly after and coasted to the wire 17.6 metres in advance of the 60 metre backmarker Miss Southern Land, with Jumeirah Jane a head away in third place. The mile rate 2-07.7. Both Cold Major and Vics Cheval were bred by Queensland millionaire Clive Palmer and are raced by David Aiken. Melton trainer Sue Hunter combined with Gavin Lang to land the Kilmore H.R.C Trotters Mobile for T2 & T3 class over 2180 metres with smart pacing bred 6-Y-0 Elsu/Amanda Woodward gelding Mister Elwood. Having his first outing since May, Mister Elwood starting inside the second line was soon travelling just of the speed in the running line, with Conchs Critter leading from the pole. His task was made a lot easier as two of the main fancies Chevals Racer (gate two) and Star Style (gate five) galloped away. Send forward three wide gradually in the final circuit, Mister Elwood raced clear over the concluding stages to defeat the honest mare Sultry Lady which moved to face the open at the bell from three back the markers after an unsuccessful bid for the front running from gate four, with Tawonga South third off a three wide trail last lap from last on the back of the winner. The mile rate 2-02.4. Glen Park’s Sebastian Steenhuis has a wonderful strike rate and was successful Safari/Truly Sue gelding Bobby Fabulous in the Kilmore HRC 3-Y-0 Pace over 2180 metres with Michael Stanley in the sulky. Leading out from gate two, Bobby Fabulous ran his rivals ragged, accounting for Ruato Bay off a three wide trail from six back in the running line at the bell and Christian Torado (one/two) returning a mile rate of 1-59.8. Dunnstown based Nathan Cahir was also a winner on the night when five year old Metropolitan/Cornelia Lombo gelding No Bettertime greeted the judge in the Ashley’s Kids Rides Pace for C1 class over 2180 metres. Driven by Nathan, No Bettertime was given a sweet passage from gate four trailing the well supported Pass It To Billy which flew the gate from barrier five and was always travelling beautifully. Using the sprint lane, No Bettertime dashed clear halfway up the running to score by 1.7 metres over the flying Dont Wanadie (four back the markers), with Packedtotherafters coming from near last to finish third. The mile rate 2-00.1. Len Baker

DOVER, Del. --- The 18th renewal of the $400,000 (est) Progress Pace at Dover Downs is the highlight of the first full month of the track's 45th season. The Progress Pace is the signature event of the 2013 Dover Downs' "Novemberfest of Racing." The Progress Pace features the sport's leading three-year-olds in training in a two-week event. First, a $35,000 elimination division on Nov. 10 with the top eight finishers return for a $284,160 final on Nov. 17. Vegas Vacation, driven by Brian Sears, scored a 1:48.3 victory in this year's Matron Final. The gelding was favorite for the Progress Pace elim., but did not come out of the Matron, "100 percent," thus was scratched. Twilight Bonfire, a 20-1 longshot from post 8 with Tim Tetrick driving, pulled a major surprise in the $35,000 elim by nipping Sunshine Beach by half a neck. The Progress Pace Final on Dec. 1 is the richest race in Delaware harness racing this year. Progress Pace history The Progress Pace was created by Dover Downs' CEO Denis McGlynn in the fashion of a former state of Delaware sports' tradition - The Battle of the Brandywine - formerly the showcase event of ill-fated Brandywine Raceway. Over the years, Most of the sports leading drivers, owners and stables have participated in the Progress Pace. Hall of Fame drivers include three-time winners John Campbell and Ron Pierce, Mike Lachance, Cat Manzi, Dave Palone and David Miller. Luc Ouellette also drove three winners while Bret Pelling trained three Progress Pace champions. Sampson Street Stable has shared in three Progress Pace champions, Newman Racing is the only other with more than one winner. The first Progress Pace was carded in 1996 with a $100,000 final. The winner was Armbro Operative, owned by Tom Walsh, Jr. and Dave McDuffy, driven by Mike Lachance. It was the first of three Progress Pace winners conditioned by Brett Pelling. Pelling also trained the winners of the next two winners of the event, when Dream Away, owned by Canadian horsemen Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband and Al Libfeld won the 1997 edition and Crown Jewel Stable's Browning Blue Chip took 1998 laurels. Both winners were driven by John Campbell. Luc Ouellette drove Jeff Snyder's Royalflush Hanover to his first Progress Pace titles. The gelding overtook Grinfromeartoear on the backstretch and pulled off to win the 1999 title. The following season, Ouellette came back to drive 2000 winner Powerful Toy, owned by Newman Racing Stable, Sampson Street and Dodge A Bullet stables. Ron Pierce made the winner's circle in the 2001 event driving Peruvian Hanover for owners Sidney Korn and Alvin Jacobson. Art Major beat stablemate McArdle to win the 2002 edition. Owned by Deena Frost, Jerry Silva, Sampson Street and TLP stables, Art Major was the third Progress Pace champion driven by John Campbell, In 2003, for the second straight year and third time in Progress Pace history, Radar Sign, a colt owned in part by Sampson Street Stable and Newman Racing Stable, driven by Ouellette, won the final. The 2004 winner was longshot Holborn Hanover, with George Brennan driving for trainer Mark Harder and owners John Fielding and Canamerica Capital Corp. Holborn Hanover became the first sub-150 Progress Pace winner posting a come-from-behind 1:49.3f victory. In 2005, Gryffindor, became the first Delaware-owned and trained winner. After being purchased by Three Point Acres in time to win the Messenger Stake at Harrington Raceway, the sophomore won the 10th Progress Pace wire-to-wire in 1:50 with David Miller in the sulky. The purse was the event's all-time highest, $394,120. Another Delaware owned and conditioned colt, Total Truth, was the 2006 Progress Pace champion. The colt owned by Only Money and Teague Inc., the first of two straight for Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce. Pierce returned to take 2007 Progress Pace in upset fashion. Trained by Robby Siegelman for The Cheyenne Gang, Ghee House rolled down the lane for a 1:50.4 upset victory to take the 12th edition. In November 2008, overlooked at 32-1, Cat Manzi drove Bettor Sweet to a surprise 1:52.1f victory, the second richest Progress Pace boasting a $390,000 purse. Two locally owned horses Rudy Rednose and Badlands Nitro, both trained by George Teague, finished second and third respectively. Vertical Horizon and Jim Morrill Jr. were the winning 1:50.4 team, for the 2009 edition. In 2010, Yannick Gingras guided Rockin Image to an impressive 1:50.3 victory. The 2011 winner was Westwardho Hanover, a 1:49.1 performance piloted by Dave Palone. Heston Blue Chip completed an outstanding Fall campaign to win the 2012 Progress Pace with Tim Tetrick in the bike, in event winning time of 1:49. Progress Pace Champions Year Purse Winner (Driver) Win Time 1996 $100,000 Armbro Operative (Mike Lachance) 1:53f 1997 $100,000 Dream Away (John Campbell) 1:54f 1998 $225,000 Browning Blue Chip (John Campbell)1:51.2f 1999 $225,000 Royalflush Hanover (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.2f 2000 $228,000 Powerful Toy (Luc Ouellette) 1:52.1f 2001 $337,100 Peruvian Hanover (Ron Pierce) 1:52.3f 2002 $335,000 Art Major (John Campbell) 1:51f 2003 $350,060 Radar Sign (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.4f 2004 $345,900 Holborn Hanover (George Brennan) 1:49.3f 2005 $394,120 Gryffindor (David Miller) 1:50f 2006 $348,900 Total Truth (Ron Pierce) 1:52.2f 2007 $350,900 Ghee House (Ron Pierce) 1:50.4f 2008 $390,000 Bettor Sweet (Cat Manzi) 1:51.2f 2009 $350,000 Vertical Horizon (Jim Morrill Jr.) 1:50.4f 2010 $320,000 Rockin Image (Yannick Gingras) 1:50.3f 2011 $330,000 Westwardho Hanover (Dave Palone) 1:49.1f 2012 $270,000 Heston Blue Chip (Tim Tetrick) 1:49f - event record by Marv Bachrad for Dover Downs  

Victorian trainer-reinsman Daniel Jack sounded an ominous warning when he declared that Nowitzki was not at his top and there was plenty of room for improvement after driving the gelding to a comfortable victory in the $50,000 Retravision Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Jack confidently predicted that Nowitzki would take beating in the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic next Friday night and the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget two weeks later when he said: “I don’t think that he went to his peak tonight and I would like to think that he will be better next week and then in the Nugget. “The one thing I’ve got is unwavering faith in the horse. As soon as I saw that he had drawn one for tonight’s race I thought he would win. And an easy first lap made things easier.” Nowitzki’s smart victory came a week after his shock defeat at his West Australian debut, when at his first appearance for three months, he worked hard in the breeze and finished second to Our Boy Su. “There’s no substitute for match practice,” Jack explained. “He had a little bit of that last week. We got the right alley tonight, but the horse still has to be good enough to capitalise on this this. And he was.” Nowitzki, a heavily-supported second favourite at 2/1, revealed sparkling early speed and burst straight to the front from the No. 1 barrier, with the even-money favourite Bit Of A Legend quickly moving outside the pacemaker, who after a modest lead time of 37.8sec., was able to dawdle through the first 400m section of the final mile in a leisurely 32.3sec. There was an early sensation when Extremely Good, who had settled behind the leader, broke into a bad gallop after 250m, causing severe interference to Smokey The Bandit and a slight check to Rocky Marciano. Northview Punter (9/1), who had begun speedily, was able to be taken to the pegs by Gary Hall jun. to gain an ideal run behind the pacemaker. The incident also enabled 84/1 outsider Mexicano to slot into the position three back on the pegs. Nowitzki went through the second quarter in only 29.7sec. before Jack gave the gelding’s rivals something to chase by speeding through the third section in 27.9sec. and then dashing over the final quarter in 28.2sec. Jack drove Nowitzki hard in the home straight and the New South Wales-bred pacer won by just over a length from Mexicano, with Northview Punter a sound third, ahead of 75/1 chance Rocky Marciano, who made up good ground along the pegs. The winner rated 1.57.8 over the 2130m journey. The shock of the race was the failure of Bit Of A legend, who faded badly over the final 450m to finish in last position, eight lengths from the winner. Jack earned the displeasure of the stewards, who fined him $400 for an incorrect whip action in that he used more than a wrist and elbow action in the home straight. He was also reprimanded for having allowed Nowitzki to drift up the track in the concluding stages. Extremely Good (Chris Butt) had to be taken from the track in a float. He was suffering from serious damage to his off foreleg and was taken to a veterinary clinic for X-rays. It was feared that he had suffered a fracture. Nowitzki, a $100,000 yearling owned by Robbie Brockhurst and Matt Jack, now has earned $92,425 from eight wins and five placings from just 16 starts. By Art Major, he is the sixth foal out of the Armbro Operative mare Full Pleasure, who had 26 starts for ten wins, six placings and stakes of $106,496. Full Pleasure won the $100,000 group 1 Vicbred Super Series for two-year-old fillies at Cranbourne in July 2001. She was retired at the end of her three-year-old season. Nowitzki is named after the German professional basketballer Dirk Nowitzki, a star with the Dallas Mavericks in the US NBA. The 7ft (213cm) Nowitzki is a power forward who earns $8 million a year. Nowitzki is a half-brother to former star juvenile performer Kept For Pleasure, who won four group 1 events in a glittering career of 37 starts for 19 wins, ten placings and $542,343. Kept For Pleasure’s major victories were the Australian Pacing Gold for two-year-old fillies at Albion Park in May 2007, the Victoria Oaks (at Bendigo) and Australian Oaks (Moonee Valley) in 2008 and the Australasian Breeders Crown at Melton in August 2009. DAVID HERCULES FLIES IN FRONT AND BLITZES THE OPPOSITION David Hercules made a dazzling return to racing at Gloucester Park on Friday night when his runaway victory in the Fisher and Paykel Pace showed that he is on target to be a major player in the rich feature events over the summer months. The seven-year-old was produced in superb condition by Byford trainer David Thompson for his first-up assignment after an absence of 15 weeks and from the prized No. 1 barrier over the 1730m sprint trip he was favourite at 5/2 on. Morgan Woodley shot David Hercules straight to the front and the gelding relished his frontrunning role and he dashed over the final four 400m sections of the last mile in 29.8sec., 28.9sec., 28.2sec. and 27.7sec. He rated 1.54.2 and defeated 18/1 chance Son of Fergie by six lengths. Son of Fergie started from the inside of the back line and enjoyed the run of the race behind the pacemaker. Western Cullen (50/1) raced three back on the pegs before finishing solidly along the inside to be third, ahead of Shardons Rocket (breeze) and the resuming Hokonui Ben, who raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position. Hokonui Ben was hampered for room in the final stages. “He’s a really exciting horse,” enthused Woodley. “Thommo has done a fantastic job to have him so right first-up. He trialled well at Byford on Sunday and pulled up realty well from the trial. He’s come here and really blitzed his rivals, and he has done it with such ease. He has a great will to win and every time he gets out there he just wants to put his best foot forward.” David Hercules ended a losing sequence of six and improved his record to 27 wins and 25 placings from 77 starts for $713,974 in prizemoney. LEDA McNALLY WARMS UP IN STYLE FOR RICH FEATURE EVENTS Victorian-bred five-year-old Leda McNally enhanced her reputation as West Australia’s best mare with an effortless all-the-way victory in the 1730m Panasonic Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her brilliant win was convincing proof that she has excellent prospects in the $40,000 Norm’s Daughter Classic next Friday night and the $100,000 group 1 Mares Classic the following Friday night. Her clashes with champion New Zealand mare Bettor Cover Lover in those events are sure to produce plenty of fireworks. Leda McNally appeared classes above her rivals on Friday night and astute punters were delighted at her 5/2 on starting price. Leda McNally clearly won the start from the No. 1 barrier and Chris Voak was able to get her to relax and stroll through the first 400m section of the final mile in 30.1sec. and the second quarter in a comfortable 29sec. Voak then slipped Leda McNally into overdrive and she responded with final quarters of 27.6sec. and 28.5sec. without being extended. She rated a slick 1.54.3 over the 1730m. Deluxe Edition (7/1) trailed Leda McNally throughout and fought on gamely to be second, with Famous Alchemist (5/1) finishing third after racing wide early and then without cover. Corza Commotion (40/1) maintained her steady improvement since resuming from a spell with a sound fourth placing after racing three back on the pegs. “We were able to get a 59sec. half, so that was going to make it hard for deluxe Edition to get over us,” Voak said. “It certainly was a good hit-out for the mare. She’s had a great preparation for the rich races for mares and she should be spot on for them. “I never expected her to graduate to an M7 mark. She’s done a great job for trainer Chris King.” Leda McNally was sent to King’s Pinjarra stables by owner Greg Stubbs after she had raced 15 times in Victoria and New South Wales for just one win and three placings. She now has had 27 starts in WA for 15 wins and five placings and her earnings now stand at $164,908. “I think she started at $12 (11/1) at her first start in WA,” Voak said. “And we certainly never though that she would reach the heights that she has. She has gone from strength to strength. “Leda McNally’s performances weren’t that good over east and she was sent to Chris to see if he could do a job with her and try to flog her off for $5000 to $10,000.” OFFTOCULLECT MAKES AN IMPRESSIVE AUSTRALIAN DEBUT Stylish New Zealand-bred colt Offtocullect showed that he would be one of the early fancies for the WA Derby next year when he gave an impressive performance at his Australian debut to score an effortless victory in the 2130m LG Three-Year-Old Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, Offtocullect was driven with supreme confidence by Colin Brown, who got the colt into the clear soon after the start after beginning from the inside of the back line. Brown then sent Offtocullect forward, three wide, to move into the breeze in the first circuit. Offtocullect was an easing 6/4 second favourite, with his stablemate Black Mr Mach (also making his Australian debut for the Bond camp) heavily supported into 5/4 favouritism. Art of Illusion (18/1) was fastest into stride from barrier three, beating out Black Mr Mach (barrier two), and leading for the first 450m before Modigliani (30/1) surged to the front. Brown was content to leave Offtocullect on the outside of Modigliani until he sent the colt to the front 250m from home. Offtocullect dashed over the final 800m in 57sec. and won at a 1.59 rate by three lengths from the fast-finishing Black Mr Mach, with Tasmanian Bromac (26/1) running on into third place. “He’s a very nice horse,” was Brown’s understated comment after the race. “He might not have looked like it, but he actually knocked off a little bit and I had to ask him to run through the line. And there was a little bit more there.” Offtocullect has had six starts for five wins and a second placing for earnings of $28,630. BROWN CASHES IN AS SUVALJKO PULLS THE WRONG REIN Shannon Suvaljko was generous in his praise of Ballas Arockstar after driving him to victory at 37/1 last Friday week, but he opted to handle What God Knows in preference to Ballas Arockstar in the 2536m Mitsubishi Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. It was the wrong decision and Colin Brown made the most of the unexpected opportunity to drive Ballas Arockstar for only the second time in the seven-year-old’s 112-start career by bringing him home at odds of 23/1. Suvaljko set the pace with the polemarker What God Knows (second fancy at 5/2) and he looked set to win when he was still more than a length clear of his nearest rival half-way down the home straight. But Ballas Arockstar sprouted wings to flash home, hit the front 40m out and beat What God Knows by almost a length at a 1.59.5 rate. Nediak trailed the pacemaker and battled on to be third, with the even-money favourite My Hard Copy an unlucky fourth. The complexion of the race changed dramatically when Devastating Power broke when racing outside the pacemaker 750m from home. My Hard Copy, who was moving forward strongly, met with interference and lost momentum. Ballas Arockstar, eighth at the bell, was able to get into the clear and he unwound a powerful finishing burst. My hard Copy came home strongly into fourth place. “Until the horse in the breeze broke I thought I had no hope,” said Brown. “That’s one thing about racing. It’s not over until they hit the line. So we’re going to take this one.” Ballas Arockstar, trained by Shane Tognolini, has been an honest and consistent performer throughout his career of 17 wins and 30 placings for stakes of $152,806. He now moves to an M1 classification and should continue to be a good moneyspinner. SOHO HIGHROLLER HAS THE PEDIGREE TO BECOME A PROLIFIC WINNER West Australian-bred five-year-old Soho Highroller should develop into a prolific winner if he follows then footsteps of some of his famous relations. Soho Highroller, trained by Gary Hall sen., was driven by Gary Hall jun. when he started at 8/1 and caused an upset by beating 5/1 on favourite Lunar Tide in the 2130m Electsales Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He started from the inside of the back line and raced three back on the pegs while Colin Brown held sway in front with Lunar Tide, who was able to stroll through the first 800m of the final mile in 61sec. before sprinting the final two quarters in 28.8sec. and 27.5sec. But Lunar Tide was unable to hold out Soho Highroller, who was eased off the pegs by Hall jun. shortly after the bell and then moved to the breeze 350m from home before sprinting strongly in the home straight to beat the favourite by a length at a 1.56.7 rate. It was an impressive effort from Soho Highroller, who has earned $48,879 from seven wins and 16 placings from 36 starts. By the American stallion bettors delight, Soho Highroller is out of former star mare Pelicanrama, an outstanding juvenile performer who went on to amass $730,271 from 55 wins and 37 placings from 149 starts. Pelicanrama won at 18 of her 24 starts as a two-year-old and at 13 of her 23 starts as a three-year-old. Her victories as a two-year-old in 1999 included the $250,000 Australian Pacing Gold at Harold Park, the $75,000 New South Wales Sires Stakes and the $30,000 Edgar Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley. Pelicanrama is a full-sister to Mustang Fighter, who won three races in WA a couple of years ago and ended his career with 29 wins, 26 placings and $292,566 in prizemoney. Soho Highroller also is closely related ion his dam’s side to former brilliant pacer Bag Limit, who earned $794,995 from 35 wins and 21 placings from 71 starts. Bag Limit won the 1985 Victoria Derby, the 1987 Bendigo Cup, the 1988 Ballarat Cup, the $250,000 Winfield Gold Cup at Moonee Valley in 1987 and 1988 and two heats of the 1988 interdominion championship at Harold Park in 1988. TALK IT UP WINS ON PROTEST TO END LOSING SEQUENCE OF 15 Veteran pacer Talk It Up broke a losing sequence of 15 when he finished a close second to This Time Dylan in the 2130m As Local As You Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night before being awarded the race on protest. This Time Dylan, the even-money favourite and bidding for four wins in a row, settled in last position from the outside of the front line, moved to the breeze outside the pacemaker Im Grant Lea just after a lap had been completed and then took the lead 430m from home. This Time Dylan fought on doggedly to hold out the strong-finishing Talk It Up to gain the verdict in the photo finish by a head. But Ryan Warwick, driver of Talk It Up, lodged a protest, alleging interference in the home straight. After a lengthy hearing the stewards upheld the objection and reversed the placings. The stewards also fined Warwick $200 for an incorrect whip action in that he used more than just a wrist and elbow action. Talk It Up, a nine-year-old Victorian-bred gelding, had not been successful since scoring by a half-head from Onedin Crusader in a claimer at Gloucester Park in May this year. He is trained by Greg and Skye Bond and has now had 103 starts for 11 wins, 29 placings and $106,215 in strakes. Smooth Caesar, an eight-year-old gelding was claimed for $10,000 by Marie Bingham of South Yunderup. He is expected to continue his career under the care of Pinjarra horseman Kim Young. ERRIS LAD MAKES THE MOST OF A BENEFICIAL RE-CLASSIFICATION WA-bred seven-year-old Erris Lad appreciated a drop down from an M2 classification to an M1 mark when he gave a strong frontrunning display to score an effortless victory in the 2503m Retravision On Line Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Mike Reed-trained gelding started from the front line and was a well-supported second favourite at 7/2. He was untroubled to score by more than four lengths from ten-year-old mare Salliwood, with Polak, a stablemate of the winner, a sound third. Erris Lad went into the race with a losing sequence of ten to earn the right of a re-classification. He had been unplaced at all of those ten starts, all after starting h from the 10m or 20m mark. “He was just waiting for a barrier draw,” said reinsman Shannon Suvaljko. “He’s a really good horse in front, and starting off the front line made all the difference. He can run solid sectionals and once he got to the front he was going to be hard to beat.” This was the second time that Erris Lad had won after receiving the benefit of a re-classification to an inferior mark. The gelding, whom is related to former speedy mare Meggie Dear (56 starts for 24 wins, 11 placings and $186,171) now has earned $135,112 from 12 wins and 18 placings from 71 starts. Gday Mate, the 5/2 favourite off 20m, finished a good fifth after coming from last in the middle stages and tenth at the bell. A CHANGE OF FORMAT REVITALISES OLD McDONALD At the start of Old McDonald’s current campaign, Banjup trainer Colin Brown gave the seven-year-old gelding three starts on three successive Friday nights, and after a great first-up second (beaten a nose in the final stride by Ohoka Samson) he lost some of his sparkle and disappointed with a fifth and tenth placing. So Brown decided to space the gelding’s runs, and he was rewarded when Old McDonald, a 8/1 chance charged home brilliantly to win the second heat of the 2130m Electrolux Kersley Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. At his first start for 11 days, Old McDonald slotted nicely into the one-out, one-back position before unwinding a sparkling late burst of speed to snatch a neck victory from Code Red, who had taken a narrow lead 620m from home after working hard outside the pacemaker Smirking. “I have learnt my lesson that I shouldn’t race him three weeks in a row and that I need to space his runs,” Brown said. “And I’m sure it is making a difference. He has the ability to graduate to Free-For-All company. “I haven’t been happy with the way the horse has looked over the past 12 months, and it has been only in the past three to four weeks that he has started to look good again.” Old McDonald was eligible to start in Friday night’s event restricted to MC-class pacers after receiving a concession with a drop down from an M3 mark to an M2 mark. He went into the race with a losing sequence of 11 and had received a concession before his previous appearance. Old McDonald has earned $103,933 from 13 wins and 15 placings from 42 starts. His win on Friday night completed a treble for Brown, who had been successful earlier on the program with Ballas Arockstar and Offtocullect. TORETTO MAINTAINS HIS SPLENDID FORM Problem pacer Toretto notched his fourth win from his past five starts and gave promise of better things to come when he proved far too good for the opposition in the 2130m Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Toretto, hot favourite at 5/1 on, led from barrier two and after modest quarters of 31.8sec. and 30.7sec. he sped over the final two 400m sections in 28.7sec. and 28.6sec. to beat Our Boy Su by 4m after that pacer had worked hard in the breeze. “He has been a problem horse and a nightmare for his owners,” said reinsman Gary Hall jun. “We have had problems with his tractability and he has gone sore a couple of times. “He has definitely got the ability and we’ve tried for a long time to straighten him out. But we haven’t been all that successful. He’s, obviously an on-pace runner and from good draws he’s capable of running good times. I’m sure he will measure up in the better classes when he draws to find the frail or to get outside the leader.” The New Zealand-bred Toretto, a five-year-old by Julius Caesar, has raced only ten times for seven wins and a third placings for $46,520 in prizemoney. by Ken Casellas  

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Armbro Operative. Standing this season at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Armbro Operative tragically broke his leg overnight and had to be humanely put down this morning. Born in 1993, Armbro Operative carved a racing and siring career of the like few have achieved. After winning three of his ten starts as a 2yo, Armbro Operative took his game to another level as a three and four year old. His major wins in those two years included the Little Brown Jug, the 3yo Breeders Crown Final, the Open Breeders Crown Final, the Driscoll Final and the Progress Pace. In a testament to his ability, he is still the only horse to win the Little Brown Jug and two Breeders Crown Finals. Arriving in Australia in the spring of 1997, the success Armbro Operative achieved on the racetrack continued into the breeding shed. Siring over 1,100 winners and 100 $100,000 winners in the Southern Hemisphere, he was twice Australia’s Leading stallion and twice Australia’s Leading Juvenile stallion. His best performers included Fleur De Lil 1:51.4 - $1,041,636, Awesome Armbro 1:49.8 - $911,397, Yada Yada Yada 1:51.6 - $730,928, Montecito 1:49.4 - $527,569, etc. A noted sire of females, Armbro Operative sired an incredible seven individual Oaks winners. Oppy, you will be sorely missed. Alabar

A smoke-filled sky and a number of scratchings from fire-affected areas provided a sobering backdrop to a very good Tier One meeting at Bathurst last Friday. The meeting was sponsored by Golden Gait Stud, which has a long association with the Bathurst club. Their sponsorship sign, on the”Golden Gait” home turn, was the first of many which now proliferate at the track. Amanda Turnbull’s treble gave her the undoubted driving honours for the night, but it’s fair to say that horses were the real stars, with a number of highly-promising types scoring in very impressive fashion. McArdles Chance (Amanda Turnbull, for father Steve) led throughout in the opening C3-C4 2130 metres event, prevailing in a desperate finish from a courageous Reservation Road NZ, which sat outside it throughout, and trailer The Wifes Calling a sound third. The last half of 58.5 established the standard for the rest of the meeting. Hayes and Kydd , winner of the second race, a C2 sprint class, looks to be well above average. He showed a blistering turn of foot to assume the lead after 400 metres, settled in the middle stages then scooted home in a 59.1 final half, from placegetters were Navarda Ace and Essayist. It was win number 8 in 19 starts for the Armbro Operative four-year-old. His driver Murray Sullivan (for Jason Gaffney) indicated that the horse will most likely do his future racing at Menangle. A strong field lined up in the feature race, the C1-C2 mares Express Post Stakes, over 2130 metres. Favourite Gabrielle Solis NZ (Nathan Hurst) led throughout, quickening to a last half of 58.2 in scoring easily from stablemate Imitate Life, which trailed her from the pole, and Two Striking. With a record of 7 wins from just 11 starts, the four-year-old McArdle mare boasts fine breeding also, her dam being a Cullen grand-daughter of famous matron Sakuntala, making her a close relation of Iraklis and Monkey King, among others. It might have come a week after the car races, but Toptenshootout was an impressive winner of the fourth, a 2130 metres C1 class. Bernie Hewitt bided his time in the running line and unleashed a sharp sprint approaching the turn to quickly put the race beyond doubt. Sassys A Kriden got home well to take second place, with Giannis Bromac NZ holding on well for third. The mile rate was 2:01.5, with a last half of 59.2 . Bernie’s son Doug, a member of the Panthers Under-20s Grand-Final winning side, made a welcome return to the track where he drove mini-trotters and then his dad’s runners, before concentrating on his career in Rugby League. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to race driving at some point in the future. Haka Shannon (Peter Bullock), last season’s Juvenile Horse-of-the-Year and Bathurst Gold Crown runner-up, justified his $1.20 quote by leading for most of the trip in a 2130 metres 3C0-3C1 event. Smack Dab Shannon made it a stable quinella, with pole runner Colonel Brook holding third spot throughout. The last half was a comfortable 58.9 . The Bettors half-brother to Mach Beauty stripped in fine order for his first-up run this season, and will be aimed at a number of the better-class races on offer. Denise and Jules (Amanda Turnbull, for Mark Butler) gave nothing else a chance in race six, a 3CO Fillies sprint event, dawdling through the first half in a pedestrian 66 seconds before zipping home in 58.7, with Princess Turf and Baked In The City taking the minor places, each for the first time. The Courage Under Fire daughter is named for her owners, Denise Brien and Julie Smith. They previously raced Cruisin Carl, which was recently sold to Queensland, where he is racing in good form. This filly is a more than worthy replacement. Amanda Turnbull completed her treble, and gave father Steve a training double, when Itdontmattertome ($1.40) led all the way in the 1730 metres C0 class seventh race. The last half of 57.2 was easily the fastest of the night. Marty Bee raced outside the lead throughout for second, with William Peter a distant third. Owner Doug Lee entrusted the son of Mach Three to Steve Turnbull when he and wife Jodie made the move to Queensland earlier this year, and a Canola Cup heat win, and this latest effort, vindicate Doug’s decision. Blissed By Datmuch (Keven Rivett) broke a sequence of four consecutive thirds with a stylish win in the final event, a C0 sprint class, from trailer Stylish Number, and debutant Sunny Guy which closed late. The winner sat midfield in the running line, and won with a lot in hand. It seems fitting that a race named after Smooth Satin should be won by the trainer-driver of Rowleyalla. Those two horses, along with the mighty Hondo Grattan, are generally regarded as the three greatest Bathurst horses in the night trotting era. Very fitting also, that the Bathurst Pick Six racebook tipping competition, which had jackpotted to a whopping $1200, should be won by a popular club stalwart in Jim O’Brien, who just happened to be celebrating his eighty-third birthday. Many happy returns, Jim! Marianne Donnelly Bathurst Harness Racing Club

Great Western trainer Peter Manning’s promising Armbro Invasion/Free Rider gelding Weregonnarock after three consecutive seconds, finally cracked it for a victory when successful in the Oktoberfest At Lord’s Raceway 19 October 3-Y-0 Trotters Handicap over 2150 metres at Bendigo on Wednesday October 2. Driven by daughter Kerryn, Weregonnarock led throughout from barrier two to score by a nose over her nemesis Dell Boy which trailed after coming from a 20 metre backmark (Dell Boy had beaten him on the last two occasions), with Girls Go First a gap away in third place. The mile rate 2-07.6. Wahring’s Daniel Jack was successful with Mach Three/Shards A Flyin filly Shards Secret who greeted the judge in the Johnny Tee Bendigo Horse Of The Year 3-Y-0 Pace over 2150 metres. Making her second race appearance, Shards Secret was driven with plenty of vigour from the pole to hold out all challengers at the start and was never headed, defeating Stunning Grin (one/one) which switched to the sprint lane on turning and the hot favourite Eliseos Falcon which had a torrid passage outside the winner. The mile rate 1-59.2. Nagambie’s Chris Lang (Jnr) is making a name for himself, especially with the trotters and landed the Flying It At Springvale Stud Castlemaine Trotters Mobile for T2 to T4 class over 2150 metres with former Kiwi Lysenko. Sent forward from gate four to park outside the speedy pacemaker Mister Gunsen, Lysenko a 6-Y-0 gelded son of Sundon and Dispride outstayed his rivals to score a strong victory over Just Call Me Earl along the sprint lane from three back the markers and Im Demimondaine which trailed the leader, moving away from the markers to be one/one on straightening. The mile rate 2-02.2. Avenel trainer Wayne Potter combined with Shepparton’s Nathan Jack to land the Chris Alford Premier Driver Pace for C2 class over 2150 metres with 5-Y-0 Armbro Operative/Eve Of Eden mare Tombstone Eden in a rate of 1-59.2. Taken back off the gate from barrier six to settle with most of the field ahead of her, Tombstone Eden gained a beaut ride home three wide on the back of Fergus Mactavish in the final circuit and when taken four wide at the straight entrance, rushed home at a great rate to score from a death-seating Drivingwithtess and Dusty Smiles which led. Another Avenel winner of the night was consistent 4-Y-0 P Forty Seven/Our Lifes A Ball gelding Luke Hobbs for David Aiken in the Haydon Gray Premier Concession Driver Pace for C1 class over 1650 metres. Driven by Greg Sugars, Luke Hobbs led for most of the journey in accounting for Who Broke Our Halo which moved to face the breeze, with Gohardorgohome third after leading out from gate three, before taking a trail on the winner. The mile rate 1-59.4. By Len Baker  

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