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REIGNING NZ Cup champion Cruz Bromac launches a campaign aimed at defending his crown when he tackles a strong Minuteman free-for-all (2240m) at Melton tomorrow (Saturday) night. It’s his first run since being sidelined with a fetlock injury after the Auckland Cup last New Year’s Eve. Managing owner Danny Zavitsanos is thrilled to have him back at the track and expects a bold showing despite a back row draw (gate 10) and quality opposition, headed by Lochinvar Art (gate 11) and Zennart (seven). “Amanda (Grieve) and Dean (Braun) think he’s at least as well, if not better, than the same time last year, which is great to hear,” he said. “We’re sure he’ll run well this week and then it’s into the Victoria Cup two weeks later. “All going well in these two runs and I told Mark (Purdon) he’ll be back to over to him to get ready for the (NZ Cup) again.” Zavitsanos, who “lit-up” Addington with his post-race celebrations last year, said Cruz Bromac was booked to return. “He’s booked with IRT for the 12th or 14th (of October), so we just need to be happy with his next two runs and he’ll head back over. It’s just a shame we won’t be able to go with him because it’s such a special day,” he said. Champion driver Chris Alford is aboard Cruz Bromac for his return, which is a vote of confidence given he’d been approached to drive Craig Cross’ Zennart and one of their many runners in the Victoria Cup. Kerryn Manning has picked-up the Zennart drive. Lochinvar Art, who smashed the clock when a monstrous second to Hurricane Harley, has been backed from $1.80 into $1.60 to atone tomorrow night. Zennart has firmed from $4.80 into $4.60 second elect, while Cruz Bromac is next ($4.60 out to $5).   by Adam Hamilton

The WA Trotting Media Guild Cup (2536m) and the Group 3 The Warwick Pace (2130m) headline a stellar 11-event card at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Shockwave, after drawing the pole, seems to have a mortgage on the cup but the Warwick Pace is an open affair, despite the presence of Victorian three-year-old Soho Hamilton, who is taking on older horses. Members of the Guild have agreed and disagreed on a couple of races when selecting their best bets for the meeting. Radio Great Southern’s form analyst Warren Wishart and longshot king Pat Harding believe Our Alfie Romeo can win. “My best bet comes up in race nine with No. 8 Our Alfie Romeo,” Wishart said. “She’s a classy mare who looks well placed here despite the wide draw. Should be too good.“ And Harding agrees. “Looks like another good night coming up for the Bond camp this Friday night,” Harding said. “However, I do think there might be some value in some of the races, but it still could be a tough night for punters and tipsters alike. My best bet comes up with the Bond-trained Our Alfie Romeo. She has been so consistent in her recent races and even though she has drawn the outside barrier, I think she will prevail in the small field.“ The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is keen on Kiwi Bloke in the stand. “Kiwi Bloke returns to standing-start conditions where he has been ultra-consistent of late,” Havercroft said. “The son of Courage Under Fire hasn’t missed the placings at his last five tries from behind the strands and his main rival this week, The Buckeye Bullet, gives away a 20-metre advantage under handicap conditions.” However, veteran trotting journalist Ken Casellas holds a different view. “Four-year-old The Buckeye Bullet has a 55 per cent winning average and I’m making him my best bet on Friday night when he has the speed and strength to overcome the 20-metre handicap in the 2503m stand,” Casellas said. “The New Zealand-bred gelding has resumed after a spell in fine fettle with two wins and a fighting second when not enjoying any luck when outsprinted late by Just Wing It at Pinjarra on Monday.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning is keen on My Carbon Copy. “The Gary Hall-trained My Carbon Copy will appreciate a sharp class drop after running third behind star stablemate Chicago Bull in last Friday night’s $50,000 Navy Cup,” Manning said. “Four-year-old My Carbon Copy set the pace and won impressively two weeks ago. The gelding is a brother to $1.2 million stake-earner My Hard Copy and he appears to have inherited plenty of the family’s abilty.” TABradio’s Matt Young has made El Jacko his best for the night. “El Jacko was a slashing run first-up in free-for-all company, powering home as an eye-catcher,” Young said. “He drops considerably in grade and in the small field can sit anywhere in the run and round them up to win. I’m very keen.“ Guild president Wayne Currall believes he’s found some value in his star bet. “On a terrific program of harness racing, I’ve opted for Jack William as my best for the evening,” Currall said. “The Nathan Turvey-trained pacer goes well for young Emily Suvaljko, as was shown last Friday when the horse did a sterling job to stick on for second after racing in the breeze outside eventual winner A Boy Named Rosie. Jack William will have to do it tough again, but he’s got the strength to cover this field.” VALUE BETS WARREN: The Verandah gets a nice draw here and will settle on speed. Think the market will underestimate his chances. PAT: My value bet comes up in race three with No. 2 Henwood Bay. He hasn’t had much luck in recent races but barrier two gives him a great opportunity and he should be at good value. RYAN: Chiaroscuro will have the sit on Shockwave’s back in the Media Guild Cup. If Shockwave opens the field up like he did in the James Brennan Memorial, then Colin Brown should have Chiaroscuro well placed to take advantage. KEN: For value, I suggest Askmeilltellya in race seven in which she will need to overcome the disadvantage of a wide draw at barrier eight. She is racing keenly and possesses a strong finishing burst. ERNIE: El Jacko has won only once in his past 17 starts, but looked set for a propsperous campaign when he ran a first-up sixth from gate eight in last week’s Navy Cup. He has won 23 races, including 14 at Gloucester Park. MATT: Destined To Rule is in great form, he just needs to find a position from gate three to play a big part in the second race. WAYNE: Disco Under Fire can run a cheeky race at each-way odds in the stand. Gary Hall Jr will be looking to tuck the horse in behind likely leader Kiwi Bloke. From an ideal trailing position he could finish well when the sprint goes on. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good punting.    Wayne Currall

After notching in excess of one hundred winners a season for the past eight seasons, Chris Voak chalked up his 200th victory for the 2019-20 season when he set the pace with the Ross Olivieri-trained gelding Diamond Life and scored a two-length victory over Change Of Address in a 2536m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. He has six drives at Gloucester Park on Friday night, and he rates the Olivieri-trained Queen Shenandoah as his best winning prospect. Queen Shenandoah will start from barrier five in the TABtouch Pace in which she will clash with quality mares Our Alfie Romeo and Miss Sangrial. Queen Shenandoah caught the eye in a similar 2130m events for fillies and mares last Friday night when she began from the outside barrier (No. 9) and was tenth and last at the bell before surging home powerfully, five wide, to finish fourth behind Has No Fear. “That was her first run for a fortnight and I expect her to go better this week, backing up from last week’s run,” said Voak. Of his other runners this week, Voak gives Rock Me Over (race three), Askmeilltellya (seven) and Kiwi Bloke (eight) an each-way chance. “Rock Me Over has a middle of the road draw (barrier four) and he will need to be in his best form to win,” he said. “But he normally goes well when I drive him. “Askmeilltellya is going well and has a good chance, even from the bad draw (No. 8), while Kiwi Bloke, from the inside of the front line in the stand, appeals as a top four chance.”   Ken Casellas

Star reinsman Ryan Warwick should send punters home on a winning note at Gloucester Park on Friday night by guiding polemarker Give Us A Wave to an all-the-way victory in the eleventh event, the 2130m Off The Track–More Than Just A Racehorse Pace. He had the choice of the four two-year-olds trained by Greg and Skye Bond, and he chose Give Us A Wave ahead of Jett Star (Dylan Egerton-Green), Be Rock Hard (Deni Roberts) and Squinta (Colin Brown). Four of the five runners in the race Give Us a Wave, Jett Star and Be Rock Hard and Lavra Joe, owned and trained by Ray Jones, will be racing first-up after a spell, with Squinta making his second appearance after a spell. Warwick, who has landed 224 winners this season, picked Give Us A Wave, a winner at two of his eight starts, mainly because the Mach Three colt gave such an excellent performance at his latest outing when he raced wide early from barrier six, took the lead after 550m and was beaten into second place by the fast-finishing Mighty Ronaldo in the group 1 Golden Slipper on July 10. Warwick has driven The New Zealand-bred Bettors Delight colt Jett Star in all of his six starts for five wins and a sixth placing in the Golden Slipper at his most recent outing after he settled in eighth position and moved to fifth, out wide, at the bell before finishing 11 metres behind Mighty Ronaldo. Be Rock Hard, a winner at Pinjarra, Northam and Bunbury in June-July, has been handled by Warwick in all of his five starts. Lavra Joe is a talented colt who has raced 15 times for six wins and four placings. He will be having his first start after finishing eighth in the Golden Slipper. With Chris Lewis in the sulky, Lavra Joe will start from the No. 3 barrier with two Bonds runners on his inside and two on his outside. Jones has him primed for a strong first-up effort after two recent splendid trials at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park. Last Sunday week, driven by Lewis, Lavra Joe ran home strongly to win a 2100m trial by almost three lengths from Elsu You, rating 1.59.2 after sprinting the final 400m in 27.9sec. Then, on the following Wednesday Ash Markham drove Lavra Joe to a 60-metre victory over Reddington Reactor, rating 1.59.8 over 2100m with final quarters of 31.5sec., 29.9sec., 29sec. and 27.4sec.   Ken Casellas

Handy WA-bred five-year-old Liam Neil was sold a few months ago and looks hard to beat at his first start for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr when he starts from the No. 3 barrier in the opening event, the Friendly Eric Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Liam Neil has impressed in two recent Byford trials and is capable of ending a 13-month drought and a losing sequence of nine. Two Sundays ago Liam Neil was a sound third behind Mister Bushido and Mattjestic Star in a 2150m Byford trial when the winner rated 1.57.5 and the final three quarters whizzed by in 28.8sec., 29.3sec. and 28.5sec. Then, last Sunday he was smartest into stride from barrier three before Gary Hall Jnr took the sit behind open-class performer Im Soxy 400m after the start. Hall eased Liam Neil off the pegs with 550m to travel and the Modern Art gelding ran home determinedly to finish just a head behind Im Soxy, with the final quarter in a slick 27.6sec. “I thought he went okay in the first trial and would benefit from it and he went better again last Sunday,” said Hall. Hall is sure to be keen to set the pace with Liam Neil, who has led and won at seven of his 13 career victories. Hall, who has driven 191 winners this season, has ten drives on the 11-event program, including two promising young pacers from Justin Prentice’s Boyanup stable --- Broadbeach in the NYE at Gloucester Park Pace for three-year-old fillies and Always An Honour in the www.gloucesterpark.com.au Pace. The New Zealand-bred Broadbeach has won at her first two Australian starts in modest company, at Narrogin and Bunbury earlier this month. Broadbeach will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. “This will be a test for her,” said Hall. “She went pretty good at Narrogin (winning by seven and a half lengths) and then she set the pace and kept waiting for them (her rivals) before beating Gov Starzzz by less than a length. She is probably better off coming from behind at this stage.” Broadbeach is likely to meet with stiff opposition from Askmeilltellya (barrier eight), Intheskyrocket (nine) and Red Hot Lady (six), a trio of fillies who are in splendid form. Always An Honour is an Art Major four-year-old who will start from the No. 2 barrier in the 2130m tenth event on the program. He has won at 12 of his 28 starts and this will be his first appearance for 16 weeks. “He was a lot better the last time he raced than we thought he was going to be,” said Hall. “He just kept taking the next step.” Always An Honour and the polemarker and likely leader Roman Aviator will have admirers, but the race appears likely to develop into a serious contest between Patrickthepiranha and El Jacko. Four-year-old Patrickthepiranha, trained and driven by Colin Brown, will be having his third start after an absence of eight months and is sure to prove hard to beat after his excellent second to My Carbon Copy last Friday week when he raced in the breeze and fought on solidly. Seven-year-old El Jacko, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, resumed after a four-month absence last Friday night when he was eleventh at the bell before finishing strongly, out five wide, to be sixth behind Chicago Bull in last week’s Navy Cup. All runners to be driven by Hall will have a good following, with The Verandah (race six), My Carbon Copy (four), Mister Bushido (two) and Extreme Prince (three) all appearing to have sound each-way prospects.   Ken Casellas

Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell is in awe of Shockwave’s remarkable recuperative powers and is bubbling with confidence that the star four-year-old will defy all challenges and win the Media Guild Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Shockwave has taken no harm from his torrid run when he overraced fiercely in front over the final 1400m before clinging on to win the 2536m James Brennan Memorial by a half-head from champion Chicago Bull last Friday week. “Since that run, I can’t believe how well he has pulled up; he’s top-notch,” declared a buoyant Bell. “I’m confident and my gut feeling is that we did the best thing by not starting him in the Navy Cup last Friday night. He is well, and if anything, he’s too well. He hasn’t missed any hoppled work since his latest run when it was the first time that he had hit a wheel in a race. “He has overraced first-up in nearly every preparation, but this time he took it to a whole new extreme.” Bell said that he was looking forward to Shockwave competing against Mighty Conqueror, who will be resuming racing after an absence of eight months. Mighty Conqueror, prepared by champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond, last appeared when he endured a tough run to win the WA Pacing Cup from stablemates Vampiro and Our Jimmy Johnstone last January. Shockwave, clashing with Mighty Conqueror for the first time, was emerging as a serious threat with a four-wide burst approaching the home turn before locking wheels with Caviar Star and then dropping back to finish last. “This will be a good test for Shockwave this week, meeting Mighty Conqueror,” said Bell. “Hopefully, we’ll have the fitness edge on Mighty Conqueror at this stage. But knowing the Bonds, I’m pretty sure he will be forward enough.” Shockwave, to be handled by Aiden de Campo, has drawn perfectly at barrier one, with Mighty Conqueror (Ryan Warwick) starting from barrier six in the field of eight. “Obviously, we have the barrier draw advantage and the plan will be to lead,” said Bell. “Shockwave left the gates very well at his latest start, and that was the first time we actually hunted him out, and that’s probably why he overraced. But it won’t be a problem this week. Our Jimmy Johnstone (barrier No. 3) is the question mark (regarding the possibility of Shockwave being beaten out at the start).” Gloucester Park Harness Racing vice-president Kevin Jeavons, who races Shockwave in partnership with his son Kyle and Howard King, is hoping that history repeats itself. He was a part-owner of Washakie, the 10/9 favourite who started from the No. 1 barrier in the 2008 Media Guild Cup and driven by Gary Hall jnr, led throughout and won from Capitol V and Franco Amon. Horses starting from the No. 1 barrier have won four of the past eight Media Guild Cups, with those winners being Banana Dana (2012), Ima Rocket Star (2013), Libertybelle Midfrew (2016) and Waylade (2019). All four set the pace. Mighty Conqueror looms as a chief rival for Shockwave. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old has created a wonderful impression with his 27 starts producing 16 wins and five placings. The Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier will be having his third start in the Media Guild Cup. Chris Lewis drove him to a half-head victory over King Of Swing in 2018 and in last year’s Cup Motu Premier finished fifth behind Waylade. He will be an outsider this year from the outside barrier in the field of eight. Simba Bromac, trained and driven by Nathan Turvey, will start from the No. 7 barrier at his first appearance for six months. He was a smart Pinjarra trial winner three Sundays ago. Simba Bromac was an extremely unlucky fifth in last year’s Media Guild Cup. He trailed the pacemaker Waylade and was hopelessly blocked for a clear run in the final stages.   Ken Casellas

One of Australia’s harness racing legends Destreos has officially been retired. Destreos has ended his career as a 16-year-old having started 486 times for what is clearly an Australasian record. Destreos (Astreos-Melvin’s Speed) spent most of his racing life in Queensland where he became a local hero, contesting races against some of the best of an era, but none could match his durability. Destreos never reached the heights of some of Australia’s superstars such as Blacks A Fake, Beautide, Smoken Up and Im Themightyquinn, to name a few, but he was a star in his own right. Affectionately known as Dexter, the gelding’s most prestigious win was a Group 3 Be Good Johnny Stakes in 2012, but he placed in other Group events during his 14-year racing career. He shared partnerships with many drivers but none more so than Queensland’s ace reinswoman Kelli Dawson who won 57 races aboard the gelding, of which 54 were at Albion Park. Destreos arrived in Tasmania in August 2017 having already notched 96 wins and he settled into his new digs at Flowery Gully in the north of the state where Tasmanian-born trainer Ken Rattray and his life partner and Destreos’ owner Sally Stingel decided to set up shop and prepare for retirement. Destreos attracted plenty of media attention as he edged his way closer to the ultimate milestone of 100 wins. There wasn’t a racing media outlet in Australia and New Zealand that didn’t record Destreos’ 100th win and that eventuated in Devonport in April 2018. “To win 100 races with the same horse is an almighty effort because it takes plenty of determination and courage to reach that mark and Destreos had those attributes and much more,” Rattray said after Destreos notched win 100. In notching his 100th win he joined Paleface Adios and Cane Smoke as the only pacers in the Southern Hemisphere to win more than 100 races. Cane Smoke holds the record of 120 victories while Paleface Adios won 108 times. Destreos won again in March last year but wins eluded him until he was sent for a spell after finishing well down the track in the TTC Elite at Elwick in late February. Destreos loved to race and keeping him sidelined in a paddock, when he was fit a healthy enough to race, was nye on impossible but no doubt he gave his first indication that his legs may have had enough and Rattray and Stingel did not hesitate in retiring their legend. Destreos notched 101 wins and 140 minor placings from 486 starts during his 13-year racing career for $828,369 in stakes.   Peter Staples for Tasracing

With her right arm extended in a victory salute, Michelle Phillips looked to the heavens as she crossed the line aboard the Tim Bolitho-trained pacer The Big End Oftown at Stawell yesterday. The winner was raced by prominent harness racing breeder, owner and club official Philip Nott who died the previous night. “As soon as we roared out of the gates I knew I had a horse and when I pulled the plugs at the top of the straight he just kept on motoring and they weren’t going to catch us," Phillips said. “The horse looked at me in the parade ring before the race as if he knew what was at stake,” she said. A bookmaker for more than 45 years, there is a fair chance Philip would have looked down from above with a wry smile as his horse knocked punters for a six saluting at the lucrative odds of $34. Philip enjoyed plenty of success racing horses linked back to bookmaking and racing terms with Off The Old’s upset win as a 90-1 chance in the 1999 Geelong Pacing Cup his biggest win. Among his better performed runners was the metropolitan winner Doyouwantitagain, while multiple winners Round Of Drinks and Copyarightwhack were always a topic of conversation along with The Early Crow. In more recent years Philip’s close friend Bolitho has been in charge of the team and the Anakie based horseman admitted the day produced a gamut of emotions. “What an amazing thing to happen, I was a mess after the race,” Bolitho said. “That he was able to win didn’t surprise me all that much because he is a good horse and I told Michelle to go forward at the start,” he said. Bolitho and Philip combined to make frequent visits to the winner’s stall during the past five or six years with the four-time country cups winner Arber and Rule Of Thumb. “Phil would come out to the stables once of week until his health wouldn’t allow him and while he wasn’t a hands-on horseman, he enjoyed the involvement and our trips to the races,” he said. “He will be sorely missed not only by me but also by the industry and his many friends in harness racing.” Philip was a fine contributor to the Geelong Harness Racing Club serving as president from 2005 to 2008 and was bestowed with Life Membership to the club in 2017. Geelong Harness Racing Club president John Ballestrino acknowledged Philip’s service to the club. “I had the fortune of having worked alongside Phil as his Vice-President during his years as President and he never wavered in his passion to see the club succeed and become a force in the industry,” Ballestrino said. “Phil was a friend and mentor to all of us at Geelong, in later years volunteering at trial nights and race days while his health still allowed him to do so. “It will be very hard to replace Phil, his friendship, his leadership and his passion for a good joke will be greatly missed by all of us at the club. “Our thoughts are with his wife Linda and son Craig at this sad time.” Harness Racing Victoria extends sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time.   HRV - John Dunne

"Patience is a virtue" penned William Langland in the 14th century - and the words of the noted poet could certainly have been written with a Victorian Western District square-gaiter in mind! Four-year-old Fremarkspoetry (Majestic Son-A Poem Kept (Safely Kept) has returned from an 18-month layoff, rewarding connections for their patience with a perfect comeback record. "She's an absolute ripper...a real beauty," said Courtney Slater, who trains under the banner of Goodtime Racing at Beeac, with husband Mark Driscoll. The titan bay mare showed she'd lost none of her x-factor in her long layoff, making it two-from-two this campaign, with her latest being a faultless exhibition at Maryborough on Monday afternoon. "We didn't have too many worries with her-she was a little fractious for a few moments before scoring up and that was it. She ended up getting the job done nicely," Slater said. "Her previous winning effort at Stawell, despite breaking in the score-up and later galloping in the run, was strong, but it showed us that she needs a bit of room and we'll be looking toward the bigger tracks where possible." Fremarkspoetry, raced by former dairy farmers Fred and Maree Clarke, of Terang, has now raced eight times for an awesome record of six wins, a second placing and an unplaced run for over $55,000 in stakes. "She has pulled up super. We haven't got any particular races in mind and we'll just take her one step at a time. Obviously toward the end of the year we'll be chasing the features and looking at going through her grades," Slater said. After finishing second at Melton in early March of last year, the co-trainers and connections made a gut-wrenching decision and turn the horse out. "It was devastating to miss a lot of the feature events, but she was such a big filly back then. We just had to look at the big picture," Slater said. "She was sound as a bell. It was just that she was going through a growth spurt and there were a few minor issues as she was growing out. "It was a real bummer, but we think in the long run it was the best decision. She's just a big girl and we put her in our swim a fair bit now as a precaution to take the pressure off her legs." Slater said Fremarkspoetry, a homebred mare, had always shown massive potential. "Mark broke her in and did the majority of her early preparation. He was always telling me she had exceptional ability as well as being strong-minded. They've had a fair journey together!" she said. Both Mark and Courtney have harness racing in their blood, each being third generation participants. Courtney's parents, Ian and Judi, conduct the highly regarded Goodtime Lodge, while Judi's late father Allan Anderton had a very good horse in Als Court, a winner of 25 races. Mark has followed in the footsteps of his parents Allan and Margi, who still have at least one going around, while his grandfather was also involved. "I'm a qualified hairdresser, while Mark was a builder for 20 years. It was probably five years ago when we decided to have a red-hot crack at harness racing," Slater said. "We bought a farm and set it up. There's an 850-metre track, a swim, 20 boxes, paddocks and a eight horse walker. While we've both driven in races, we're concentrating on the training aspect now. "I still drive at the trials and I drove at a Wagga Wagga meeting last year, but we're both enjoying taking a backseat. "Our usual driver Glen Craven, a thorough professional, has been sidelined with a knee injury so we've been using Michael Stanley, who we've found to be terrific and a great thinker." There's 35 in work at the Goodtime Racing stable, which includes quite a lot of youngsters. But those racing have been in super form. Apart from the brilliance of their star on the horizon Fremarkspoetry, others stamping their authority have been Goodtime Floyd (three from three), G1 winner Goodtime Heaven (two wins and a second from last three runs) and Luvyoubabe (a recent Stawell winner). "It's been a handy month. Hopefully we can keep it ticking along," Slater said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

FANS will have to wait at least another week for the first clash of glamour Aussie pacers Ride High and Lochinvar Art. In a surprise late twist, Ride High was nominated, but then pulled-out of Saturday night’s $30,000 Minuteman free-for-all (2240m) at Melton. Connections have remained tight-lipped on the circumstances, but it is now expected Ride High will run in Saturday week’s $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at Melton to sharpen-up for the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup a week later. This week’s race is still a pearler with Lochinvar Art (gate 11) meeting reigning NZ Cup winner Cruz Bromac (10) and Australasian 2300m record-holder Zennart (seven). Lochinvar Art has been crunched from $1.80 into $1.60 favourite in the Aussie TAB’s early market, ahead of Zennart ($4.80 to $4.60) and Cruz Bromac ($4.60 to $5). “He’s come through last week’s run really well and it’s definitely brought him on for sure,” Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said. Cruz Bromac, first-up since his fifth in the Auckland Cup last New Year’s Eve, has been sharpened-up for his return with two recent trial wins. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE excitement around this season’s Aussie juvenile crop gained more momentum with Bar Room Banta’s blistering Menangle win yesterday (Tuesday). The powerfully looking son of A Rocknroll Dance sped to the front for Luke McCarthy from gate seven, cruised through a 57.8sec first half, then scorched home in 54 flat and 26.6sec. Bar Room Banta’s 1min51.8sec mile, at just his third start, was just a half-second outside the Australasian record of 1min51.3sec set by Ignatius back on June 25, 2017. Bar Room Banta is trained by Mick Stanley in Victoria, but loan to Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy to target the NSW Breeders Challenge. The same combination brilliantly won a heat of the NSW Breeders Challenge for two-year-old fillies with Soho Almasi a week earlier. Bar Room Banta and Soho Almasi are nominal favourites to win their finals. “I’ve got a fantastic crop of babies this season and these are the pick of them,” Stanley said. “Almasi is the fastest and potentially best filly I’ve had, while ‘Banta’ is something else … he’s just so fast and exciting.”   by Adam Hamilton

Harness Racing Australia is pleased to announce the J.D. Watts Awards to our sports highest performers for the 2019/20 season. Named after legendary trainer J.D. (Jack) Watts, who trained and drove winners in all states of Australia and New Zealand in a fifty year career, the awards celebrate the nations leading driver and trainer. 2019/2020 Australian Driver of the Year CHRIS ALFORD Chris Alford of Victoria was again Australia’s leading driver with 283 wins Australia wide for the 2019/2020 season. This is Chris’ 14th national title, his first being 26 years ago in 1994. He also took national honours in 2016 – 2019, 2012 – 2014 and 1996 – 1999.   2019/20 Australian Trainer of the Year GRANT DIXON Grant Dixon of Queensland was Australia’s leading trainer with 290 wins during the season. This is Grant’s 8th J.D. Watts Award and second in succession. Grant was also the leading trainer from 2012 to 2017. Remarkably, Grant’s title makes it 12 national titles from the last 13 seasons for the Dixon family, with Grant’s late father Bill the leading Australian trainer from 2008 – 2011. The Members of Harness Racing Australia congratulate Chris and Grant on their outstanding achievements.   Harness Racing Australia

A start in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup could well hinge on this Saturday night for many pacing hopefuls, with every prelude to the $300,000 Grand Circuit race on October 10 crucial to gaining favour with handicappers. A strong performance in the TAB Minuteman Free For All, which will air on Trots Vision at 6.30pm, will likely go a long way, with Group 1 champions Lochinvar Art and Cruz Bromac headlining the $30,000 feature. Boom horse Ride High is notable for his absence, having been initially nominated but then withdrawn, meaning the much coveted clash with Lochinvar Art is on the backburner at least until the $50,000 TAB Smoken Up Sprint on October 3. Instead trainer-driver David Moran and his Shepparton superstar will have to contend with reigning New Zealand Trotting Cup champion Cruz Bromac, who will be first up and looking to build on his 23 wins from 52 starts and $1,050,975 in stakes. His trainer, Amanda Grieve, said her eight-year-old seemed "really good and in a similair space to last year", when he followed his third placing in the Victoria Cup with an unforgettable victory at Auckland's Alexandra Park. "He’s about as good as we can have him without racing,” said Grieve, who stressed her stable star raced well when fresh. Lochinvar Art dominates the early betting market, listed a $1.60 chance with TAB.com.au, with New South Wales raider Zennart ($4.60) and Cruz Bromac ($5) the only others in single figures. Zennart is the first of Luke McCarthy and Craig Cross's crew to descend upon Melbourne, with Balraj, Cash N Flow, Bling It On and Alta Orlando expected to follow, while Hunter Cup champ King Of Swing's hopes of a Victoria Cup start seemingly hinge on covid-19 border restrictions. Of their team, Zennart appears to have the most to prove to convince handicappers he's worthy of displacing a local in the Victoria Cup field, making the stakes all the higher on Saturday night. Victorians Sicario, My Kiwi Mate and San Carlo, all 2019 Inter Dominion finalists, will be eager for bold showings Saturday night to boost their claims, while Rackemup Tigerpie, Tam Major, Out To Play, Im Sir Blake, Rocknroll Eyes and Bulletproof Boy would also be hoping to break the door down. Saturday night's 10-race card kicks off at 3.39pm, with the first three races being shown on Sky Racing 2 to enable racing to be finished by 8.30pm, before the Victorian Goverment's 9pm curfew. The headline trot at 8pm is the Aldebaran Park Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free For All, which features Anton Golin's Great Southern Star winner Dance Craze, who's $1.90 favourite with tab.com.au. Stablemate Imsettogo was initially installed a $2.30 favourite before the market was flipped by punters, with the latter easing to $3.40 while Dance Craze tumbled in from his $3.70 opening price. Red Hot Tooth, who last start held off Tornado Valley for an impressive all-the-way win, has eased from $2.80 to $3.40. Other Saturday night must-sees will be the Hygain 3YO Pace, when Sahara Sirocco and Pacifico Dream resume their duel and are joined by Craig Cross-trained Bomb Suit, a $1.70 favourite, and Marg Lee's impressive Yianni among a deep and talented field. Breeders Crown (November) and Vicbred Super Series (December) hopefuls will also be prevalent in the Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Pace, where Mick Stanley's pair Soho Brandenburg and Soho Bollinger will lock horns with the likes of Jess Tubbs' duo Sumomentsomewhere and Momentslikethese. Race caller Dan Mielicki will be joined on Trots Vision by co-host Rob Auber for Saturday night's coverage, guiding trots fans from the VHRC Parade Ring to the Winners' Circle. Racing will also show on Sky Racing 1 (races 4-10) and Sky Racing 2 (races 1-3), while Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will headline's SENTrack's coverage and RSN 927's will also broadcast all races.   HRV - Michael Howard

Bidding in the eight Lots in the latest gavelhouse.com Standardbred auction is set to close tonight from 7pm. As of Wednesday morning four of the Lots have met their reserves with the auction feautring youngstock, racehorses and an empty broodmare. Bidding is set to close, starting with Lot 1, from 7pm tonight, Wednesday 23 September. Following are some bidding tips to help you navigate the process. Lot 1 will close from 7pm. If a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds, another 30 seconds is added onto the auction and to all subsequent Lots. This will keep happening until there are no further bids placed. If you are are outbid, you must type in the next bid amount, the site does not automatically update the bid amount for you. There is no benefit in letting auctions run down to the last second before bidding as the auction will just keep auto-extending until no further bids are placed. This practice increases your chances of missing out on horse.  gavelhouse.com cannot identify loss of online connection, a slow internet connection or browser issues at the user’s end. Even a slight loss of internet connection that may not be noticeable can interrupt the user’s browser in following the sale in real-time therefore setting up an auto-bid is the best way to ensure your bids are placed. Google Chrome or Safari are the recommended internet browsers. gavelhouse.com staff are able assist in actively supporting both buyers and vendors during the sale, if you need a hand with registration or bidding, we are available on phone +64 9 296 4436 or email  info@gavelhouse.com during our online auction to help. VIEW FULL CATALOGUE Featured Lots Lot 2 WOODY PAIGE  A half-brother to two winners including the very smart WA pacer Parmesan - the winner of 12 races in the 2019/20 season. His dam is a half-sister to Delight Brigade ($156,312) and Trigirl Brigade ($143,711) – the dam of Open Class star Classie Brigade (Kaikoura Cup, 3rd NZ Cup). This colt has a pronounced roman nose and was entered to be sold with the farm's other weanlings in the May Sale but was withdrawn to see how he developed. He is reported to havedone very well and his nose has been scoped all clear.  Sire: Sportswriter Dam: Tristar Brigade Seller: Alabar NZ Location: Waiau Pa VIEW ONLINE Lot 3 CARRERA BELLE  A mare who qualified on 08 September 2020 at Ashburton in 3.07 from a stand - last half in 57.2, quarter in 26.8. She is reported to be clean gaited with perfect manners, completely sound and would be a lot of fun for someone placing her through the grades from zero rating in Australia. She is bred on a successful cross being by Bettor's Delight from a Christian Cullen race winning mare who is a half sister to seven in black type including Ideal Belle and Five Card Draw. Sire: Bettor's Delight Dam: Belle Arising Seller: Carrera Location: Dunsandel VIEW ONLINE Lot 5 SMOKIN BY  Currently located in Sydney, Australia at Cobbitty Equine Farm. A quality open class horse, Smokin By has raced at the highest level in New Zealand and has since gone to Australia. Unfortunately, he got quite sick in his last preparation and the owners decided to give him a good break to get over it. They have since made a decision to sell as they're not interested in racing a horse in Australia where they can't see him in person.  Sire: Mach Three Dam: Flo Jo Seller: OffnRacing Location: Sydney VIEW ONLINE Lot 8 RAVE NATION  A recently retired winner of three by Muscle Mass, Rave Nation is  out of the Jewels winner Merckx whose first five to the races are all winners. The first colt from Merckx is doing a good job in Australia and the second colt recently qualified from the All Stars barn. She is reported to be in great order. Sire: Muscle Mass Dam: Merckx Seller: Steeno Location: Cambridge VIEW ONLINE   gavelhouse.com

Harness racing can be a famously fickle career path - but accomplished reinsman Paul Diebert has every reason to make the leap to full-time race driver with some confidence. Queensland-based Diebert has left behind the security of paid employment to give freelancing a go and could not be happier with his decision. "I just love the sport and I'm loving being in Queensland - there's not really a winter here, and even when it's wet it's still warm," Diebert said. "I think the time's right for me, because Queensland racing is looking good, the betting turnover is improving and there's more money coming into the industry," he said. "You hear a lot about the negatives, but I really think racing here is good, and we might see a few more stables shifting up here to give it a crack, or at least setting up satellite stables because the sport is going ahead." The well-travelled horseman has worked most recently for the powerful Grant Dixon team, but finished up three weeks ago, after 16 months at the Tamborine stables. "The racing here (in south east Queensland) is Tuesday to Saturday, and I was getting 15 or 20 drives a week, so it was pretty busy," Diebert said. "If you are working full time and trying to do the race driving as well, you're working of a morning, then going to races in afternoon and getting back pretty late. You don't have much of a life outside that," he said. "I was starting to get some nice drives and opportunities on some Kiwi-bred horses and the racing prizemoney and driver percentages went up a bit, and driving fees came in for the Marburg meetings as well, so I thought I'd give it a go." Raised in the Riverina and Victoria, the son of Norm Diebert Jnr and grandson of Norm Diebert Snr has harness racing pedigree on both sides of his family (the Dieberts and the Maguires). So it would be reasonable to expect a harness racing career was inevitable for Paul - but it's been a long journey to self-employment. "Mum and Dad were in the sport, I had a lot of family involved and I had a passion for it growing up. I was always helping out around the stables, but mum and dad really didn't really want me to do it, probably because of the money side of things," he said. "But when I was 15, I got a sports injury and I really couldn't do much but sit in the gig. So that's when I really got into it. I wasn't that keen on school and finally mum and dad agreed that if I had a job I could leave. "I'd helped (Bendigo trainer) Glenn Douglas out at school holidays, and I asked him if he would give me a job, and he did and ever since then, I've been working for others full time." Along the journey, though, Diebert credits some valuable mentors and experiences, working in four states and with numerous successful stables. "I started off with Glenn and Eric (Anderson), and I had stint in WA with Ross Olivieri and Michael Brennan. In Queensland I've worked for Shannon Price and Scott Miller, Jack Butler and Ian Gurney," he said. "They all have their ways of doing things and from a driving perspective, it's great that people are willing to help anyone who looks like they are in the game for the long run. Even the better trainers will talk to you about what you should have done or could have done to try to help you get better. "I remember asking Daryl Douglas very early on about how he did his form. He told me 'you've got to worry about the drivers, before you worry about the horses!' I've never forgotten that!" Over the past 18 months, Diebert has enjoyed some of the best form of his career and some unforgettable career highlights. He collected his first Group One success in July last year (Ohoka Punter for Team Dixon in the Garrards Sunshine Sprint); achieved his 500th career win about two months ago and most recently notched up 100 winners in a season (within normal season rules) for the first time. "It's definitely an exciting time for me and it's early days, but I am loving it," he said. "In terms of career goals, at the moment, I'd just like to go back-to-back with the 100! Longer-term, once COVID-19 is gone, I've got an ambition to drive a winner in every State and I've got South Australia and Tasmania to go. "But for now, my goal is just to keep enjoying it and hopefully be able to make a career out of this sport."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal Decisions - Mr Shaun Simiana HRNSW Stewards commenced an Inquiry on 5 October 2016 into the results of the following Out of Competition blood samples taken from horses in the care of Trainer Mr Shaun (Anthony) Simiana:   FRANCO TIAGO NZ          Sample collected on 17 April 2016 WALKABOUT CREEK       Sample collected on 17 April 2016 FRANCO TIAGO NZ          Sample collected on 18 April 2016 WALKABOUT CREEK       Sample collected on 18 April 2016 WALKABOUT CREEK       Sample collected on 3 May 2016   Those samples were reported to contain the prohibited substance Peptide VNFYAWK. On 5 October 2016, HRNSW Stewards issued 8 charges against Mr Simiana and adjourned the Inquiry to allow Mr Simiana to consider those charges. The Inquiry resumed on 7 December 2016 at which time Mr Simiana’s legal representatives made a number of requests and further applications. Following correspondence between the parties, due to the fact that no submissions were received from Mr Simiana in response to the charges issued by 20 January 2017, HRNSW Stewards considered the matter on the evidence that was before them, in the absence of any submissions. Mr Simiana was found guilty of all charges and advised through his legal representative of that decision. Mr Simiana was provided with an opportunity to provide submissions in relation to the matter of penalty by COB 3 February 2017. Following an extension until COB 7 February 2017, no submissions were received and HRNSW Stewards considered the matter of penalty. On 15 February 2017, Mr Simiana was issued with the following penalties: In relation to Charges 1,2,3,4 & 7, pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190A(1)(a), Mr Simiana was disqualified for a period of six (6) years to be served concurrently. In relation to Charges 5,6 & 8, pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 196A(1)(i) & (2) Mr Simiana was disqualified for a period of ten (10) years to be served concurrently. HRNSW Stewards ordered that the two (2) periods of disqualification imposed be served cumulatively. Therefore Mr Simiana was disqualified for a total period of 16 years to commence from 28 July 2016, the date upon which he was stood down. HRNSW Stewards also disqualified the subject horses from the following races pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190A(1)(b): ·      FRANCO TIAGO NZ be disqualified as the winner of Race 5 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 19 April 2016.  ·      FRANCO TIAGO NZ be disqualified as the winner of Race 2 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 30 April 2016. ·      WALKABOUT CREEK be disqualified from its fourth place at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 19 April 2016. ·      WALKABOUT CREEK be disqualified from its second place at Dubbo on 29 April 2016. ·      WALKABOUT CREEK be disqualified from its third place at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 14 May 2016 In addition, HRNSW Stewards ordered that Mr Simiana pay to HRNSW within 14 days of being advised of the Steward’s Decision, the sum of $15,000 as costs pertaining to the analytical tests that were costs borne by the Controlling Body in relation to the prohibited substances from his horses, pursuant to NSW Local Rule 256A. The decisions of the HRNSW Stewards were appealed to the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal by Mr Simiana. Following an appeal hearing, on 16 June 2020 the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal handed down the decision that the appeal against all eight (8) charges had been dismissed. On 5 August 2020, the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal handed down the following penalty decisions: Charges 1,2,3,4 & 7 -        Severity appeal dismissed. Disqualification in each of the five charges of 5 years to be served concurrently; Charges 5,6 & 8 -          Severity appeal upheld. Disqualification in each of the three charges of 10 years to be served concurrently. In addition, the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal ordered that the disqualification periods for charges 1,2,3,4 & 7 be served cumulative to the disqualification periods for charges 5,6 & 8. On 17 September 2020, the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal ordered that the periods of disqualification be served as follows: In respect of charges 1,2,3,4 & 7 (being a concurrent disqualification period of 5 years) Mr Simiana was disqualified: (a) from 29 July 2016 to 5 February 2019 (being 2 years, 6 months and 8 days); and (b) from 5 August 2020 to 26 January 2023 (being 2 years, 5 months and 22 days). In respect of charges 5,6 & 8, Mr Simiana was disqualified from 27 January 2023 to 27 January 2033 (being 10 years). Further, the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal ordered the following: ·      Mr Simiana to pay HRNSW analytical costs of $15,000; ·      Limited order for Mr Simiana to pay HRNSW costs and further directions issued; ·      25% of the appeal deposit to be refunded to Mr Simiana.   For further information on this matter contact: HRNSW Integrity Department (02) 9722 6655

Down Under Pacers have a successful harness racing day at Plainridge Park on Monday. The raceway in Massachusetts of Plainridge Park saw four down under horses win and a further two placings. It all started off with Ideal Star N pacing 1:51.3 around the 5/8th mile track (1000m) to win his $15,000 pace. That was quickly backed up by Audi Hare N who came out on top in a close finish in 1:52.1, giving trainer Sheena Mcelhiney and driver Shawn T Gray a double with Ideal Star N and Audi Hare N. Next up was Fernleigh Rebel N who was far too good for his field winning in 1:53.4. Finally the amazing winner of over $1 million Bettors Fire scored another victory for his career winning the $12,000 pace in 1:52.1. This 12yo son of Bettors Delight has raced in 3 countries over his racing career and holds a lifetime mark of 1:50.2.  The four Down Under horses that won on the day were aged 6, 8, 10, and 12.  A great representation of the successful future a harness horse can have racing in a different hemisphere after racing Down Under.    Down Under Trotter keeps on winning in North America. Majestic Player A has put up yet another big winning performance on Saturday night racing at Hoosier Park in Indiana. It was a convincing win on the night just like the way she has been winning all year. The Walter Haynes Jr trained and Sam Widger driven gelding trotted the mile in 1:51.4. It was the 6yo son of Majestic Sons 13th victory for the season in the US and has also placed a further two seconds. An export from Yabby Dam Farms in Melbourne, Australia, Majestic Player A is really flying the flag for the few Down Under Trotters racing in North America.   Monday 14th September   Plainridge Park MA Ideal Star N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $15,000   Audi Hare N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $10,500 Fernleigh Rebel N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $9,000 Bettors Fire N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $12,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Luciano N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $8,500 Mr Cool Seaeyre N – Time: 1:57.3, Stake: $8,500 Zach Maguire N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $12,500 Down Under First 4 – 2nd Soho Wallstreet A, 3rd Wardan Express A, 4th Yayas Hot Spot N Provocativeprince N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $12,500   Tuesday 15th September   Harrington Raceway DE Lincolns Girl N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $7,500 Running Aces Casino & Racetrack MN Quite A Delight N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $5,200 My Kiwi Lady N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $9,000   Saratoga Harness NY Barynya A – Time: 1:57.4, Stake: $3,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Amrcanbootscoota A – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $8,500 Walkinshaw N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $12,500 Anne Bonney N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $12,000 Military Master A – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $15,000   Wednesday 16th September   Harrahs Philadelphia PA Myidealson N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $7,600 Delishka N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $14,400 American Empress N – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $8,800   Thursday 17th September   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Executive Dash N – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $3,600 Yonkers Raceway NY Shes Sporty A – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $8,500 Kimani N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $12,500 Lucky Artist A – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $15,000 Upper Sandusky OH Iam Erik N – Time: 1:57.1, Stake: $1,750   Friday 18th September   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Captain Dolmio N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $5,000 Shenandoah Downs VA Hugh Hefner N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $4,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Tin Roof Raider A – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $8,500 Soho Lennon N – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $15,000 Mickey Gee N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $25,000 Runrunjimmydunn N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $15,000   Saturday 19th September   Batavia Downs NY Sir Richie N – Time: 1:56.1, Stake: $5,000   Freehold Raceway NJ Power Dreaming N – Time: 1:57.3, Stake: $5,000 Imarocnrollegend N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $12,000 Vapour N – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $7,700   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Majestic Player A – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $18,000   Hawthorne Racecourse IL Tulhurstsantanna A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $10,500   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Cyclone Kiwi N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $9,900   Meadowlands NJ Whitehaven Lass A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $8,000   Ocean Downs MD Shneonucrzydiamnd A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $5,600   Shenandoah Downs VA Kotare Yael N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $4,500   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Need Luck N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $11,200 Stromont Czar A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $10,000 Lachie Maguire N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $16,000 Kerford Road A – Time: 1:50.1, Stake: $11,200 Itsrockandroll A – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $11,200   Kawartha Downs CA Brigadierbronski A – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $4,900   Sunday 20th September   Harrahs Philadelphia PA Ana Afreet N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $10,000 Vettel N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $11,600 Jacks Shadow N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $8,800 Paduka N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $6,800   Northfield Park OH Lettucerockthem A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $7,200 He Can Fly N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $8,800   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Coveredndiamonds N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $6,800 Shezza GnP A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $8,800   Flamboro Downs CA  Toot Toot N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $6,500   Leamington Raceway CA Bute Courage N – Time: 1:59.4, Stake: $4,200 Cullens Kefe N – Time: 1:59.3, Stake: $5,000   Click here for previous weeks articles   by Carter Dalgety

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