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The art of being a harness racing trainer is undoubtedly a test of patience, and Victorian horseman John McGillivray passes that test with flying colors on any measure! The distinctive McGillivray silks of green, yellow strips and orange sleeves bobbed up on Warragul Cup Day behind the only horse the 71-year-old trains, that being nine-year-old Lotakevi (Stonebridge Regal – Lotasilkari (Iraklis). And while the 100-1 shot winner caught punters off guard, it was no great surprise to McGillivray, and provided a happy reunion for a winning combination. Watch the race replay click here! “Dasha (reinsman Daryl Douglas) hasn’t driven for us for 11 or 12 years, and the last horse he won on for us was Lotakevi’s mother, Lotasilkari,” McGillivray said. “When I saw he was down to drive a couple at Warragul, and I needed a driver, my wife Rhonda and I were rapt to have him on – and he got the job done!  Dash’s our pinup boy alright!” he joked. “Dasha” Douglas and John McGillivray renewed acquaintances in the best possible way at Warragul McGilivray has been in the sport for 30 years, and in that time has raced only eight horses as a trainer. “Actually, in addition to Lotakevi and Lotasilkari, we raced Lotakevi’s grandmother, too, Lotaliberty,” he said. “My 60th birthday present was a service for Lotasilkari, and I was a bit keen to go to Diggers Idol.  Rhonda had picked up a picture at the Ballarat trots one night of Stonebridge Regal though and she loved the look of him. So while I was still thinking about it, Rhonda just booked ‘Emily” in to Stonebridge Regal!” he said. “We lost her first foal, but exactly 12 months later to the day, on November 14, 2011, along came Kevi.” That was only the beginning, however. “Kevi was all ready to go to the races when he did a suspensory, and he did a good job of it, too.  The vet Hugh Cathels described it as a ‘horrible suspensory’ and he used pretty strong language, which he doesn’t normally do, but it is a terrible looking leg,” McGillivray said. “We did all the right things, gave him the time he needed and put in the TLC and we finally got him to the races (in July 2018). Since then he’s won three for us, which doesn’t sound brain snapping, but he’s run 21 placings as well from his 85 starts. It’s around 25 percent, which isn’t too bad. “We’ve had a great time with him – both Rhonda and I love being in the sport, and Kevi’s won $35,000 and half a VicBred bonus, which we never thought we’d see.  He’s part of the family, dead set!” Stewards queried the improved performance of Lotakevi after the Warragul win, but McGillivray said although the victory was a little unexpected, he wasn’t totally surprised. “They (stewards) have got to and that’s fair enough, but it’s the old story – he’s actually been racing all right. I have been training him a little differently though, and I think that’s made a difference with his issues,” McGillivray said. “Since we bought a jogger in November, Kevi hasn’t been trained in the cart at all – he goes on the jogger every day, and really his only fastwork is at the races.  I think it’s agreeing with him because since November he’s had a personal best time, and second personal best time, and at Warragul, everything just fell into place.” McGillivray is based at the Croydon Light Harness Club, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. “It’s a fantastic little setup with a few hobby trainers – they tried to close us down a few years back, but we survived.  There’s around eight horses here that are currently racing and everyone is a hobby trainer, so we all work in together and help each other out,” he said. “Just being in the sport is great for both of us.  Rhonda had to have a stay in hospital just before Easter, so she couldn’t get to Warragul, but the win has given her a huge lift.  We always buy a photo, and every time you walk past that, you smile again. “For both of us, it’s probably just the people, here at the track, and in the sport in general. When we got the win, it was the last race and there still would have been 30 people who came up and congratulated me and the phone ran hot! “It keeps you active and it keeps you thinking, and you never stop learning. I very rarely sit in the cart these days, but just sitting behind your horse, and contemplating life, it’s magic.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Hearts are full with optimism and hope that future stars and potentially sires are in new hands and ready to embark on harness racing careers following the weekend’s first Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale. More than $6.3 million passed hands across 203 lot sales at Oaklands Junction, of which 77 per cent were pacers and 23 per cent trotters, achieving a 75.46 per cent clearance rate and a $31,355 sales average. It was a satisfying result for Nutrien Equine’s Mark Barton, who caught up with Gareth Hall and Adam Hamilton for a post sale analysis (video below). “A lot of money changed hands, it’s a busy couple of days, but we’re really pleased with the way we’ve been received by the market and the industry as a whole,” Barton said. “Some really good highlights and a solid day.” The headlines belonged to lot 107, which was offered by Benstud Standardbreds, Peter and Zillla O’Shea and John McGeechan, who earlier purchased Our Golden Goddess off Merv Butterworth at the end of a brilliant racing career that produced 17 wins from 29 starts and almost $450,000 in stakes. Their investment quickly paid off, with her first colt – by Bettors Delight – fetching a sales topping $180,000, having been snapped up by renowned Melbourne owner Jean Feiss. The colt will race for Hayden Cullen, now the trainer of what was previously Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Star Stables, who had long raced Feiss’ talented brood. “When I got the book he was a lovely pedigree. Yesterday was the first time I had seen him and I liked him,” Feiss said. She said a big draw was that the colt was also eligible for New Zealand’s sires stakes. Leigh and Alison Miles produced the top priced filly, with their lot by Captain Treacherous out of You Ask Ally attracting a bid of $115,000. You Ask Ally is an unraced Sportswriter mare whose dam was Amarillen, making her a half-sister to Villagem ($626,585), Miss Graceland ($244,658), Nostra Beach ($266,190) and the brilliant broodmare Pixel Perfect, who in turn has produced the likes Soho Tribeca ($1,103,854) and Carlas Pixel ($480,128). While the pacing sales topper looks set to head across the Tasman, the trotting sales topper may well be enjoyed for generations to come in Victoria, with plans for not only a racing but sire career. Alabar shelled out $170,000 for lot 177, who was a Father Patrick colt out of Une Belle Allure. Raced and bred from by Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms, Une Belle Allure amassed $176,810 across her 25-start career, including a dynamic three-year-old season that captured four Group 1s. Alabar General Manager Brett Coffey said the colt cost “a lot of money, but we loved him”. Coffey said he viewed the yearling with Andy Gath, who will train him, “and he was a standout to us”. “Looked over him a couple of times since, a few times here, and (Alabar owner) Alan (Galloway) looked at him yesterday, and he’s just got a lot of presence about him. His looks match his page and that was important to us. “Not many fillies win Derbies and (Une Belle Allure) won a Derby, she won numerous other races, (she's) by Angus Hall out of a French family – a lot of nice things there, a lot of boxes being ticked. “All credit to Pat and his team. They’ve done a terrific job with their horses. This guy we thought was the best, so we went pretty hard on him and ended up getting him. “Hopefully Andy can win some Group 1s with him and then he can retire to Alabar and stand at stud. That’s the plan anyway.” CLICK HERE FOR THE SALES RESULTS CLICK BELOW TO WATCH NUTRIEN EQUINE'S SALES WRAP   Harness Racing Victoria

The Tabcorp Park Melton track is getting a “once in a decade” makeover, with staff using a two-week window to perform a “significant track restoration”. They were the words of Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) development and infrastructure manager Rob Pongho, who told SENTrack’s Trots Life today the works would restore common damage caused by racing. “We undergo regular resurfacing each year, but the wear and tear created by horse traffic, particularly on the peg line but also by the second line of horses, gradually impacts on the base,” Pongho said. “(It) causes something like a cow track, which is inevitable, particularly with our modern day bases that are designed with a bit of give to assist the welfare of the horse. “It’s definitely not uncommon to have some sort of base impact. Jordan Robinson and his team at Tabcorp Park have got the expertise probably to mask these inconsistencies exceptionally well with plenty of water and compaction across the track surface’s top layer. “It’s been agreed that now is the time to do a complete renovation of the base of the inside section of the track, which cops all that traffic.” Pongho said the track staff grated the track on Sunday, had cut out a three-metre wide section the circumference of the track and were “at this very moment filling the track with the new base”. “The original base consisted of 85 per cent basalt, or bluestone crusher dust, and it had a 15 per cent component of the clay gravel, which gives it some plasticity or a binding effect,” Pongho said. “And that original base recipe has been replicated here, so we have something as close as we could possibly get … to the (original) base so there’s no inconsistency.” CLICK BELOW TO HEAR ROB PONGO ON TODAY'S SENTRACK TROTS LIFE:   Harness Racing Victoria

Craig Hayes is the dairy farmer and harness trainer from Stowport, which is a place not many people have heard of who was put on the map recently when he reached a career high when his star pacer Scooterwillrev was able to deliver his finest achievement as a trainer by winning the Ladbrokes Easter Cup. The early days In his younger years Craig had no interest at all in horses as his family ran their dairy farm and it was hard back in the day, as Craig would be working alongside his late father daily but the love they had together was sport. Craig was a very accomplished footballer in his younger years playing over 160 senior games for his beloved Burnie Football Club and that would never have happened if it wasn’t for his family’s support. “It would never have happened if it wasn’t for dad being there to run me around to all of my training nights and games as a teenager as you could imagine back in the late 1970’s it wasn’t easy to get around when living up in the bush and that’s something I will forever be grateful for,” recalled Craig Hayes. “My father taught me what work ethic was all about and the saying goes the harder you work the more successful you are in life and I’ve always had those words in my mind as that set the blueprint for myself and Tania’s successes in business and life,” added Craig referencing his wife Tania. Craig’s mother is still around at the age of 93 and she was independent in life and active up until last year when she had to be moved into a lovely nursing home close by. Craig’s mother’s one request was to make sure she had Sky Channel in her room so she could watch the horse racing as she has a passion for the horses that Craig trains and when Scooterwillrev won the Cup I’m sure all the residents heard her cheering him home. The first horse Craig ever trained was named after his mother and she was a little beauty called Marjy Mary who won nine races including a brave third in the Tasmanian Oaks in 2007. Gallavance Heading back to where it all began it was a mare called Gallavance that Craig acquired from the trotting weekly with close friends Cushy Summers and Grant Dunham. She was a 3YO filly but never got to the races despite showing plenty of ability. “Just before we were going to trial her, she did a tendon which was devastating for us, I was the only one that had any land, so the boys decided to let me buy them out as they didn’t know what to do with her,” said Craig Hayes on the filly who was foaled in September 1997. Cushy Summers was the one that pushed Craig to start training on his own back in the late 1990’s as his football career was coming to an end. Craig thought he needed something to keep busy so with the urgings from a few mates, fellow trainers, and Tania he decided to give it a shot. Gallavance turned out to be a broodmare gem for Craig and his wife Tania as from the seven foals that she has gotten to the races all of them have won multiple races. No Third Party was the first of those who won eight races and placed on 10 occasions from 35 starts. Mister Tehaych was the best of them winning over $113,000 in prizemoney. He was a good youngster winning a couple of feature races early including the Golden Slipper before returning as a 3YO to take out the Prince of Pace. He was driven by champion reinsman Gareth Rattray in 14 of his 18 wins with his last win coming in February 2012 with Craig in the gig beating a horse close to my heart in Our Sir Jeckyl. Mister Tehaych was a favourite of Craig, named after his late father Trevor Herbert Hayes. Mister Sumna was next to come along and he was as gifted as any pacer Craig put a bridle on, but injuries and manners stopped him from getting to the heights he should have although he still was able win to win 11 out of his 36 starts. Sumna won six out of eight starts between April 2013 and January 2014 so that showed the ability he had but he was becoming a very frustrating horse for Craig, so he decided to lease him to some close mates and send him interstate where he was able to win two races at Melton under the care of Dean Braun before returning back to Tasmania where he had a handful of starts before being retired. The next on the list will end up being the best of all, a mare named after his wife, Tania Maree. Tania Maree never finished further back than fifth in her brief career that netted over $44,000 in prizemoney winning nine of her 16 starts. “We decided to retire her and breed some foals as she was getting on a tough mark with her good record,” said Craig about the mare who last raced in June 2014. Tania Maree has produced two horses to the races, the first being Mister Gently who has won six from 12 starts and gave Craig and Tania a huge thrill when he recently won their hometown Burnie Cup and there would have been plenty of beverages drank on track that night. Then came along a Heston Blue Chip filly called Melnrowley who is named after Craig’s daughter Mel and raced with a longtime family friend in Mark Semmens. She had her first start in Devonport in February 2020 and showed above average ability winning easily with Craig taking the reins. Craig then decided to put her out and set her for the feature 2YO fillies race later in the season. She was beaten first-up in the Blue Bonnet but wasn’t disappointed as she made up plenty of ground. But the next six weeks saw her putting her hand up as one of the better two-year-old fillies Tasmania have produced by making it a clean sweep of the two feature juvenile races by winning the heat and final of the Sweepstakes and then going onto claim the big one, the $50,000 Evicus Final where she put up a huge performance rating a slick 1:57.6 to run her rivals off their legs. Jeanette Barry was named after Craig’s sister and her husband and though she never got to the heights Craig thought she would, she still has won three races from 12 starts. Brookwillrock has won two from nine but did run second in the Sweepstakes Final as a 2YO and is named after Craig and Tania’s daughter. The Will Rev connection Craig’s local veggie man Mick Filleul ask him to train a horse who he bought from New Zealand. “It was a big bloody thing, but I decided to give him a go and as time went, he showed enough ability that would win a few races,” explained Craig about the horse named Mick Armalive who first raced in Launceston in 2010 but a tendon injury brought him unstuck and he was eventually retired after just two career starts. Mick loved the horse and wasn’t afraid to put his hand in his pocket if the right horse came along. Mick and a couple of mates Andy Williams (Will) and Anthony Cocks (Rev) asked Melbourne horseman David Miles to pick a youngster out for them at the Yearling Sales, he was broken in by Leigh Miles then sent across to Tasmania. “Mick said he need a favour which was to give this youngster a couple of weeks work and tell him what I thought,” explained Craig who had such an opinion of the youngster than he and a mate bought into the horse that would become Mickwillrev winning 13 out of his 27 starts. It was after the success with Mickwillrev that Craig and his mates all decided to go to the sales and buy a yearling and that’s were the Scooter story starts. Scooterwillrev was purchased at the Melbourne Yearling Sales back in 2014 for $40,000. “I was lucky enough to be with the fellas on the day, but I can remember vividly one of the ownership group saying we have to pay GST on this horse so that’s another $4,000 and he wasn’t happy about that but looking back I’m sure he hasn’t worried about that again,” laughed Craig about the original purchase of Scooterwillrev. One lucky owner in Scooterwillrev was Scott Stagg who has been around the harness racing industry longer than most and he was asked if he would he be interested in taking a share and that’s where the Scooter name came from as that is Scott’s nickname. Scooter was a star from day one winning his first six starts before Craig decided to have a crack at the 2YO Breeders Crown Series as he wasn’t eligible for the Tasbred Series back home. He qualified for the final by finishing eighth, but it was a good experience and Craig brought him back and gave him a good spell before setting him for the Tasmanian Derby. He resumed with a first-up win in Burnie and went on to win another four in succession with the Derby being his next assignment so after the master Gavin Lang jumped on board for his latest win it was an easy decision to leave him on for the big one. Of course, Lang did what ‘Group One Gav’ always does by winning big races and it was by far and away Craig’s biggest success as a trainer but what was more special was having the master reinsman in the gig which is something that Craig will always cherish. That was the start of a great relationship as Craig set Scooter for the 3YO Vicbred Series where he ran second in the heat before finishing seventh in the final won by Jilliby Kung Fu. Scooter has won plenty of races since then but has also had plenty of issues, so Craig decided to send him up to Sydney. “Nothing went right in Sydney, so we brought him back home to set him for the 2020 Easter Cup to try to go one better than the previous year,” said Craig referring to Scooterwillrev’s 2019 Easter Cup where he ran second to Franco Tristan which was trained and driven by Gavin Lang. Unfortunately for Craig the 2020 Easter Cup was never run in Tasmania due to the shutdown of racing on 1 April 2020 due to COVID-19. But fast forward 12 months to the 2021 Easter Cup and Scooter was first-up in the heat just six days earlier but Craig knew he had his star back to his top, so he was more than happy to go into the series off a break. Scooter showed that he was going to be a player in the final with a game second in his heat and Craig knew he would come on from that outing. He drew perfectly in the Final as he always steps safely and when he lobbed on top and the favourite Willie Go West missed away, driver Gareth Rattray decided to hold the lead and that was the winning move as he dictated the tempo of the race and kept his main danger in the run to his outside knowing that Scooter can dash a very quick half and that’s what he did coming home in 56 seconds to hold of a gallant Ryley Major who came off the 20m handicap with the outsider Isaac running third. The win was an emotional one for Craig who had always dreamed of winning the Easter Cup since he first started training horses. “He’s just a beautiful natured animal who has always been a pleasure to work with and is much more than a horse he is my mate,” Craig said who added that to win with Gareth in the sulky and such a great group of owners made it even more special. “I set him for this race, and I knew that he would not let me down but to see all the stars align on Easter Saturday is something that I will never forget, and it will go down as my greatest sporting achievement of all time.” Craig’s training operation is a boutique setup with family and a group of close personal friends that he trains and races horses with. He has had a lot of success over many years in doing that which also includes breeding his own horses and buying a few from the yearling sales in Melbourne for his loyal client base. Family Craig loved his football career at Burnie but never got to reach the pinnacle as the closest he got to winning a premiership was being runners up with East Devonport back in the eighties. “In more recent times I have enjoyed watching my son Brayden playing football and I don’t like to say it, but he does have a bit more ability than myself back in the day,” laughed Craig referring to his son’s football ability. “It’s good to see Brayden back living up at Burnie after spending time down south where he was doing his apprenticeship to become an electrician. He has showed interest in the harness racing game so im hoping he will follow in my tracks and give it a crack when his sporting commitments are over as he does hold a stablehands licence and he loves coming to the races and helping out when he has time,” added Craig. Brayden Hayes created a bit of infamy for himself when he tweeted during a Big Bash match that he would run from Hobart to Burnie in his undies for charity if the Melbourne Renegades lost a match, they were playing in. That was back in early 2017 and when Brayden said that he will be honouring what he said he would do Craig was thinking there is no way he could run the 325 kilometres in eight days. But he had lots of support from family and friends and raised money for a family in need which was an amazing effort by him, and Craig admired his courage and mental toughness to not let anyone down. Craig and Tania have two daughters, Brooke and Melanie, who both also live locally with Melanie having two sons Jaxon and Eli. “I must say nan and pop love having them around the farm and the horses as it’s a great environment to be around as you never know one day in the future they may takeover the farm,” said the proud grandfather Craig. Brooke is the eldest and is a radiographer and has a great fiancé by her side which is great to see and let’s hope the mare Brookwillrock can throw a nice foal in coming years. Craig says he was lucky 36 years ago when he met a lovely young woman named Tania who later became his wife and biggest supporter. “She has always been by my side and always backed me in everything I have wanted to do from farming with the cattle and vegies, through my football and later in life as a harness racing trainer so without Tania I have no doubt I would have never achieved what I have in life to date,” said Craig. Tania on the other hand is quick to deflect some of the credit to her husband for his success. “He has always given his all to everything he has done in his life, we have worked hard to get to where we are now and raising our three children. His dedication to everything he has pursued and the success he has achieved is something that I admire so much about him and why I love him so much,” Tania Hayes said. “He also has a lot more patience with his horses than what he has with the human race,” laughed Tania. It was only fitting to get a few words from Hall of Fame reinsman Gareth Rattray about his association with Craig. “I’ve driven for Hayesy for many years and the few things that standout about him is his ability to have his horses ready to win when they go to the races which makes my job a lot easier. “He is as good as any conditioner of horses that I have seen, and he is great to drive for as he never has too much to say about tactics. “Mister Tehaych was a good horse early for us and I have driven many nice horses for Craig and now its come full circle with Scooterwillrev winning the Easter Cup,” said the reinsman who recently drove his 1,400 winner in Australia. The final word For Craig Hayes, he doesn’t see too much changing in the short term, it will be the same as it is now running over 500 head of cattle each day and training his small team of horses. It shows what a competitor Craig is that he decided to take out his driver’s licence at the ripe old age of 50, but he was quick to show that he could match it with his peers as he drove plenty of winners with the two highlights being the Novice Drivers Title in his first year of driving and taking out his hometown Cup on the Geoff Smith-trained Truly Blissful. Craig’s first winning drive was on a horse named On the Deuce in December 2010 in Burnie. Craig has shown over his time in harness racing that he is a trainer that always has to be respected and I have no doubt he is one of the best conditioners of a Standardbred in the state and that shone through with Scooterwillrev winning the 2021 Easter Cup. He has the knowledge to place his horses where they are capable no matter what class they are and that is why his strike rate is second to none. He will only take horses to the races if he knows they’re ready to fire, so with breeding a few more foals in coming seasons he is sure to have a smart youngster on his hands for many years to come.   Jamie Cockshutt for Tasracing

Promising Tintin In America youngster Mahomes made it two harness racing wins from two starts when he led most of the way in an APG Bullion heat at Menangle on Tuesday (April 13). The gelding clocked a career-best 1:54.5 for the flying mile with the last 800 in 56.3 seconds. Watch the race replay click here! Warrawee Needy was represented by a ‘new’ two-year-old winner in Inspector Callahan, who rated a slick 1:56.4 at Wagga, as well as the three-year-old filly Rusty El, a winner in 1:58.4 at Wagga, and the North American winner Deprived (1:57.6). Other recent Tintin In America winners have been Wotdidusaaay, who won his eighth race at Melton, and Knockawarwon NZ, who notched his second win from four outings at Newcastle. Three-time NSW Sire of the Year Million Dollar Cam produced the North American winners Sure Please (1:56.8) and Milliondollardad (1:58.2) along with the Parkes (NSW) victor Deal Breaker. Renaissance Man continues to churn out the winners with the three-year-old Mister Ridgewell leading from end to end in a career-best 1:57.7 at the Gloucester Park midweek meeting and Trittrittbangbang notching win No. 7 at Cranbourne. Mister Ridgewell has won three of his five lifetime outings. The North America Cup winner Fear The Dragon had a colt sell at the inaugural Nutrien Equine Yearling Sale for $67,000. Tintin In America, Warrawee Needy, Million Dollar Cam, Renaissance Man and Fear The Dragon are members of the Yirribee Pacing Stud sire roster.   By Peter Wharton

Winning’s never looked or felt so good at Geelong Harness Racing Club as it will on Saturday night, when metropolitan racing comes to the track for the first time since its dramatic upgrade. A nine-race card concludes with the Winning Post Bar & Restaurant Pace, the race name a tip of the hat to the new on-track hero, a drinking and dining space that club General Manager John Dunne said would put race goers both in comfort and the thick of the action. Dunne said the club had also greatly improved facilities for participants as part of the $1.1 million works, which include $175,000 contributions from both the Andrews Government’s VRIF program and Harness Racing Victoria. With Tabcorp Park Melton’s track undergoing an upgrade, Geelong is hosting Saturday night’s program and Dunne said that was “fantastic for us”. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our new bar and restaurant, which is now on par with any race track in country Victoria,” he said. “The Winning Post Bar and Restaurant is a brand new extension with a bar and two-tiered dining right on the windows, so you can dine while overlooking the winning post. It feels as though you are almost in the cart with the drivers.” The expansion and improvements also include a new float carpark, upgraded drivers’ rooms and upgraded stables, while the upgrading of the grandstand facilities included a new roof. “With these works, from a participant point of view, there are no better facilities, and so that helps sure up our racing future, and now we have the dining facility, so even in the depths of winter people can come and have a great night in comfort. “We still have got some vacancies available in the Winning Post restaurant, so (patrons) can simply ring the club and we will book them in for their dinner on Saturday night.” To book call 5275 4880, with plenty of great racing on offer across the nine-race card. One major attraction will be the Jack Rabbit Winery Sundons Gift Trotters Free For All, where victory would see Tornado Valley become only the ninth Australasian trotter to break through the $1 million barrier. The night also features the TAB Captain Sandy Free For All, which features Pacifico Dream, Boncel Benjamin, I Cast No Shadow, General Dodge, Im Anothermasterpiece, Roman Aviator and Reactor Now in a quality, open $24,000 free-for-all. The club will also use the occasion to name the Lang Drivers' Rooms, in honor of the Lang family's enormous contribution to the sport.    HRV - Michael Howard

FOR reasons not easily explained racing remains a game of irrational passion.  Despite its often-heartbreaking nature owners, trainers, punters and breeders blissfully chase implausible dreams with laudable optimism.  They also chase iconic experiences, and there are few more hyped harness carnivals than that which concluded on Saturday night in Mildura.  Like Warrnambool, Darwin and Oakbank, Mildura is very much part of racing folklore.  Isolation can often be a drawback in sport but for one week every year Mildura’s magnificent remoteness acts as its greatest strength.  They come from everywhere for the Cup carnival.   This year alone Mildura hosted visitors from Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and New Zealand.  And as per usual they didn’t disappoint.  Not only was there the perfect weather – at least most of the time – and the carnival parties, the racing, that’s right the centrepiece of the package, was utterly sublime.  In total 11 of the 30 races staged over last week’s carnival the final margin between first and second was less than a metre.  Among those races were the Niota Bloodstock Mildura Trotters Cup, where Well Defined somehow hunted down Hatchback, and the Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup, where Mach Dan prevailed in an epic slugfest over Silent Major.  Then there was the ‘King of Mildura’ Bernie Winkle, who won Saturday night’s free-for-all by the narrowest of margins after somehow refusing to run around a rival up the lane.  In many ways Mildura is a throwback to times gone by; times where half-mile circuits and aggressive tactics paved a clear path to grandstand finishes.  It’s also a throwback to carnivals where media, administration, participant and punter met for lunch, dinner, cocktails and golf.  And it’s for both these reasons that people keep on coming back.  ____________________________________________________________________ WHEN you’ve secured as many major race victories as Greg Sugars one wonders what each feature success truly means these days.  Based on his expression after claiming Saturday night’s Mildura Pacing Cup with Mach Dan this triumph meant a little more than most.  It’s a beautiful sight when someone is so euphorically ecstatic, they’re trying not to smile.  In the process of closing their mouths however, that euphoria spreads to the rest of their faces and the joy within is totally obvious.  That was the ‘Candyman’s’ face after his second Mildura Cup success.  Not only was it the perfect finish to a long and draining week for Sugars, but the race itself represented the kind of warrior battle all athletes pine for.  “Coming into the bell I thought we will make it a good staying test now over the last lap and we were handlebars down off the back and it was a great duel between both horses up the straight,” Sugars said. “Both of them tried their hearts out. It was a really good contest.”   HRV - Jason Bonnington

One of Australia's youngest full time race commentators, 20 year old Luke Humphreys, lives, eats and breathes harness racing - and still has to pinch himself that he's making a career from his obsession with horses and racing. "I got my big break when I was 18, in a full-time role with Harness Racing Victoria - but I'd been practising race calling since I was 10 or 11," Humphreys said. "Dad always had horses, standardbreds, and I never really wanted to do anything else," he said. "I was a singer in a band at school and was pretty serious about that at one stage, and I also thought about camera work. I even thought about being a trotting driver, but I could see that would be very hard. The passion for calling came first, and it was definitely the thing, so I just kept at it." Humphreys, who is based at Gisborne, near Melbourne, became the trials commentator at local greyhound, trotting and racing clubs from the age of 15 - around the same time he became co-host on a community radio harness racing program at Melton. He began as a part-time caller at RSN (Racing Sports Network) radio when he was 16 and spent two years there before working his way into the full-time role at HRV. He clearly remembers one of the "biggest thrills" in his life was climbing the stairs to the commentator's box at Mildura trots on a warm day in 2019. He'd received the call up for his first "real" race calling gig, at Mildura trots. "Mildura always had a bit of an aura about it, and Craig Rail (Humphreys' predecessor) had really made the place his own," Humphreys said. "It's a bit of a unique set up, because of the isolation and the number of meetings held there, and just the following the sport has. That first day I remember as 40 plus degrees, there was a decent crowd, and I was just rapt to be there. "I was just so proud to be able to say that I'd called the Mildura trots! Little did I know that a couple of months later, I'd be lucky enough to get the gig when Craig left, and Harness Racing Victoria offered me a full time job." Commentator Luke Humphreys, Mildura Harness Racing Carnival CEO Michelle McGinty and Luke’s dad Paul Humphreys enjoying the party that is the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival Humphreys is now the permanent Mildura caller and works on roster at other regional tracks. He said he had learned a lot from the support of mentors such as Dan Mielecki, Rob Auber, Matt Hill and Greg Miles. "You never stop learning, I don't think. You take little bits of everyone and then develop your own style," he said. "I generally prefer to call off the screen because with binoculars you can sometimes only see a small section of the field and miss something important. "I always have in my mind that you've got to save yourself that little bit extra, in case something unexpected occurs right up until they cross the line." Humphreys signature parlance "true Mildura style" is now a catch cry for the circuit's tight, unpredictable and competitive racing but due to COVID-19 he had to wait two years to roll out the phrase for the three-day Mildura Carnival party last week "It's humbling how much that phrase has taken off. I never wanted it to or thought it would as much as it has," Humphreys said. "I don't like overdoing it but it definitely deserved to get a few mentions during Mildura Cup week!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

He could barely have been more impressive in his destructive Australian debut during the Mildura carnival, and now the much-hyped New Zealand harness racing import Aladdin is being aimed at another feature race across the Victorian border. Charlton-based trainer Greg Norman, who works for prominent Adelaide owners Adam, Ben and Terry Cormack, will take the exciting three-year-old across to Globe Derby this weekend for the $30,000 2021 South Australian Pacing Derby. With some rich form lines back home, Aladdin was expected by many to prevail in Saturday night’s Mildura Guineas, but the manner of his victory warranted plenty of respect. The gelding quickly rolled to the front and controlled the 2190m event, before ripping home in a slick 28.5sec last quarter. He was only released late by driver Kerryn Manning, who probably could have won by further than the end 12.2m margin if she desired. Watch the race replay click here! Norman admitted he had some nerves surrounding Aladdin’s debut run for his stable in Mildura, but expected him to handle the tight track given he works on similar dimensions in Charlton. “He’s a nice horse, but first start for me, you just don’t know do you? He’s a very nice horse, had worked good and had a good record in New Zealand racing the good horses,” he said. “You are always a bit nervous with a new one like that because I hadn’t had him long. It was his first start and I hadn’t trialled him or anything. You have got to set the gear up and everything, so there was a little bit of nerves, but it was good and he got the job done.” Aladdin was bought by the Cormacks shortly before the inaugural $200,000 NZB Standardbred Harness Million Final on New Year’s Eve 2020, and paid back the purchase fee by landing victory in that event. He hadn’t won since then heading into Saturday night’s race at Mildura, but on the basis of that performance – where he left some quality horses in his wake – there looks to be many more in store for the son of Sweet Lou. “I think Adam is keen to take him up to Queensland for the Queensland Derby, but that’s a few months away yet,” Norman said of plans after this Saturday night’s Globe Derby run. “One step at a time. We will go to Adelaide and see how we go in that against the better ones and just go from there.” Stablemate Apieceoflou, who won a heat of the Euston Club Pace on Tuesday evening before being narrowly beaten in Saturday night’s final at Mildura, is also bound for the South Australian Pacing Derby. That horse, like Aladdin, is owned by the Cormack family. This weekend’s Globe Derby card includes other features such as the $60,000 South Australian Pacing Cup and $30,000 South Australian Trotters Cup, both of which are at Group 2 level.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

The top lot of Australia’s inaugural Nutrien Yearling Sale is heading to NZ. The Victorian-based Jean Feiss broke her recent trend to buy exclusively at the NZ yearling sales when she splurged $180,000 on a Bettors Delight colt out of former star Kiwi filly Our Golden Goddess yesterday (Sunday). “He’s the first yearling I’ve bought in Australia since Sicario five years ago,” Feiss said. “He’s already booked to fly across to NZ to Hayden (Cullen). “I really liked this colt and the clincher was the fact he’d been paid-up for the NZ Sires Stakes. I’d urge everyone to pay-up for as many of those futurity races as possible.” The now Victorian-based Nathan Purdon took home four yearlings, including the $90,000 Bettors Delight-Miss Hazel colt. Former Kiwi, now Victorian-based Tim Butt, splurged on six yearlings, including $90,000 for a trotting colt by Quaker Jet out of Glenferrie Burn offered by Yabby Dams. The trotting flavour at the sale was very strong and headlined by Alabar Farms paying $170,000 for a colt by Father Patrick out of Victoria Trotting Oaks and Derby winning mare Une Belle Allure. “We’ve had a long association with Andy Gath and we think he’s the best trainer of trotters in Australia, so that’s where he’s headed,” Alabar’s Brett Coffey said. Another to turn heads was trainer Matty Craven paying $110,000 for an Art Major colt out of former brilliant Kiwi-bred mare Arms Of An Angel (by Elsu). Across the two days of the Nutrien sale, 269 lots were offered, 205 for a clearance rate of 77.07 per cent. Sales totalled $6,400,000 at an average of $31,219.   by Adam Hamilton

Friday was a very big night for Gloucester Park Harness Racing Committee Member Alan Parker. Parker knew one of the newly created GPHR Media Awards was to be named in his honour, but it came as a complete surprise when GPHR President John Burt announced he was the latest recipient of the prestigious James Brennan Award. The James Brennan medal is presented to those that have made a significant contribution to Gloucester Park and the harness racing industry and Parker more than fulfils that criterion. Already a keen fan of trotting since his days as a student at Wesley College, Parker applied for and won the job of Assistant Registrar with the WA Trotting Association in 1977, working alongside Registrar Laurie Collins.  During his 40 years in harness racing administration, Parker has carried out duties as WATA Racing Secretary and Assistant Harness Racing Manager for Racing and Wagering WA. After leaving Gloucester Park for RWWA, Parker was able to become a Member of the WATA and in 2015 he nominated for and was successfully elected to the Committee of Gloucester Park Harness Racing.  He was awarded Life Membership that same year and continues to be a valuable contributor to Gloucester Park. Parker’s harness racing records are legendary, going back to 1910 when trotting commenced in Perth.  With his own database and a wealth of knowledge it is no wonder that in 2007 RWWA invited him to carry out research for the harness section of the Racing Hall of Fame, for which Parker has been a nominee in recent years. Parker continues to contribute to the industry, writing numerous articles for various publications and working as a Pedigree Compiler for the National Stallion Guide and for several yearling sales.  He is also a regular presenter on the radio show Talking Horses on 91.3 SportFM.  Besides all that, Parker has contributed by writing “A Little Bit of History, detailing the formation of the Western Australian Trotting Association and the history of Gloucester Park, a copy of which can be found on the Gloucester Park website.  He has also written “The Village Kid Story”. Parker’s contribution has also been recognised by Harness Racing Australia.  He has received 13 Harness Racing Joseph Coulter Media Awards from 1985 to 2018 (12 historical and one novel). A most deserving recipient of the 2020 James Brennan Award, Parker also celebrated his wedding at Gloucester Park in 2006, marrying Dot Schrader during a Valentine’s Day race meeting, with the on-course photographer Bill Crabb taking the wedding photos between races. With his remarkable contribution to Gloucester Park and harness racing in general, there can be no worthier recipient of the James Brennan Award than Alan Parker.   Gloucester Park

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD Coming out of a week of torrential rain in the Tamborine region, Easter has proven to be the ideal tonic for the Dixon stable. Kicking off one win behind in the State title, 10 wins for the week and a lean week for the Butler stable has seen the Black & White Army charge back into the premier position. The week was headlined by trebles at three meetings and multiple wins to loyal stable clients. Landing a treble on Tuesday at The Creek, the day started with success when two-year-old Leap To Fame franked his effort in the Changeover Classic with an all-the-way win. The other two legs of the Tuesday treble were recorded with the former Kiwi in Chevron We Trust who was second-up in Queensland, and the speedy mare Nimah Franco. It was a successful week for owners Greg and Sharon Mitchell, with their GSM Racing scoring four victories across the week - including a Tuesday double - all trained by Grant Dixon. Wednesday night saw the stable land another treble, with one win each for the Dixon’s three biggest clients - Solid Earth, GSM Racing and Dr John Mammino. One Off started the night when scoring a gritty win for GSM Racing, driven by Chloe Butler to an eight-metre success. Signor Jujon came next, the Dr Mammino-owned four-year-old overcoming the outside of the front line to score a deserved win after finishing as the runner-up at his past four in succession. The third and final triumph came via three-year-old Captains Pick, a Captaintreacherous gelding for the Seymour-managed Solid Earth. Sir Jujon was the lone winner for the stable at Redcliffe on Thursday, with owner Dr Mammino continuing his great run of recent times with the four-year-old scoring his seventh career win. The winning week for the Dixon stable was rounded out with a metropolitan treble at The Creek on Saturday night. Stompem was the first winner for the night, with the GSM Racing-owned seven-year-old powering home late to claim the veteran’s race and break a winless streak in claiming his first win of the season. Four-year-old mare Fond Memories was returning from a spell in the mare’s qualifier when overcoming gate seven to score a strong victory and pass $100,000 in stakes earnings for owners Solid Earth. Completing the perfect ten for the week - in race ten - was the trotter Musculus. Owned by Arbit Each Wa and managed by Dixon’s Tamborine neighbour Jeroen Nieuwenburg, Musculus charged home in the closing stages for a stylish victory.   THE BAD Heading into Sunday night’s race meeting at Redcliffe, young driver Zac Chappenden was sitting precariously on 99 career race wins. Win number 99 had arrived on Wednesday night at Redcliffe with Risky Buziness when claiming a passing lane victory. With only one other race drive that night, the triple figure milestone would be on-hold. Just like a cricketer in the nervous 90s, the triple figure result seemed an elusive target to wrangle. With six drives at Redcliffe on Thursday, four at Albion Park on Friday and another three at headquarters on Saturday, it seemed to be getting out of reach. After three luckless attempts at Redcliffe on Sunday night for the breakthrough, Chappenden was able to steer Beyond A Shadow first past the post in race six. Finally, the ton was up. Or was it? Following an incident at about the 250-metre point that had checked Rayong Princess who had tried to take a run as Beyond A Shadow drifted up the track, a protest was lodged against the winner. Stewards concurred that Rayong Princess had suffered interference that would have cost her winning the race and the numbers were amended. Stuck on 99 race wins, Chappenden was denied the 100 and to rub some salt into the wound, was issued a suspension for his part in causing the interference.   THE MILESTONE The elusive 100-race win milestone may have been denied in race six, however young reinsman Zac Chappenden was able to dust off the disappointment to re-scale the heights of success just two races later. Almost exactly two years to the day following his first race drive, Chappenden chalked up his 100th race win when successful aboard the Lacey Hinze-trained Risky Buziness. Having his first race start on April 10, 2019 aboard Aroona when finishing third, fast forward to April 11, 2021, Zac was able to reach triple figures with an all-the way victory. The win ensured Zac was maintained a perfect 100% winning strike-rate aboard Risky Buziness, with two wins from two starts aboard the gelding. With a steady opening season in the sulky, season 19/20 was the breakout season for Chappenden, reaching several highlights for the term. That included victory in the 2020 BOTRA Young Drivers Championship at just his first attempt, where he scored a decisive 20-point victory in the Series. That Series also signalled the first Saturday night success at Albion Park for Chappenden when steering Sam Is Perfection to victory. Another highlight was his maiden Group 1 race drive when taking the reins behind Jaziah in the QBRED Triad Final for two-year-old fillies - finishing a game 3rd behind Jasper after a tough run. It has been a solid start to the current season for Zac, with his latest victory taking his tally to 29 winners. That has him in third place in the Concession Drivers Title and ninth in the open State Drivers Title. As the opportunities continue to expand for the young reinsman, more milestones will be on the horizon as Zac continues to forge his own path as a harness racing driver.   THE WILDCARD The 2021 yearling sales may have been completed in Queensland, but the last big yearling sale for the season was conducted in Victoria across the weekend. The inaugural Nutrien Standardbred Yearling Sale held at Melbourne’s Oaklands Junction saw 294 lots catalogued with 269 offered for sale. After returning to the training ranks in mid-2020, Shannon Price was active at the sale under the banner of Raboki. Purchasing three lots from the sale, Raboki purchased two pacing colts and a trotting colt. A sum of $100,000 was required to take home lot 88, a Captaintreacherous colt out of the Group 1-winning mare Musical Delight. A 100% producer at stud, her second foal - Beach Music - placed third in the NSW Oaks back in February. The other pacing colt secured by Raboki was by American Ideal out of the six-time winner Flying Mcpocket with $46,000 the winning bid. Picking up the only Dreamcatcher trotting colt in the sale, $10,000 was the required bid to secure the first foal of the dam Bigonluck. While the Raboki team have not had many starters step out thus far in season 2021, they continue to build strongly for the future.   THIS WEEK Following on from the six race meetings held last week, five TAB meetings will be complemented with show racing this coming week. Albion Park will host meetings on Tuesday and Friday afternoons alongside the Saturday night metropolitan fixture. Redcliffe will race in the Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon timeslots, with the Wednesday meeting a strong ten-race card. Show racing will also be a highlight with the Toowoomba Show on Friday and Saturday. Friday will see the heats and Final of the Glenvale Cup, and Saturday hosting the heats and Final of the Toowoomba Cup, with another opportunity to progress to the Showcase Finals at Redcliffe in June. At The Creek, Tuesday will see heats of the Australian Pacing Gold for the three-year-old colts and geldings as well as for the fillies. There are two heats for the boys and one for the girls, and for the eventual winner, a spot in the $350,000 National Final at Melton on May 29 awaits. Those that do not progress to the big Final can still chase the riches locally, with a $50,000 mixed sex consolation to be held at Albion Park on the same night. Saturday night will be the first of the Ultimate Tools sponsored two-year-old events for the season. Popular last season for the juveniles, Ultimate Tools will provide a rug and trophy to the winning connections and $250 to the winning trainer and driver. Winning trainers also receive a $500 voucher.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Those were the words of race caller Fred Hastings after Anntonia had displayed brilliant speed in annihilating her rivals in the harness racing Group One Bathurst Gold Bracelet on 27th March. To watch this race click here Anntonia is now one of the most exciting 3 year old fillies to have graced racetracks in NSW over the past ten years at least. The winning mile rate for the 1,730 metre trip of 1.52.1 was not only a new Track Record for 3 year old fillies but a Track Record for a horse of any age or sex. The daughter of Bettors Delight shares a birth date [19th November] with another flying filly - in this case a two legged one by the name of Gail Devers. The American flyer with the flashy fingernails won Gold Medals for the 100 metres at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. So maybe that birth date of 19th November will be an omen for buying any Fillies at future Sales. Anntonia was a $90,000 purchase at the 2019 APG Sydney Yearling Sale. Although the price was pretty steep at the time it is now looking like a bargain as she has banked over $230,000 in just twelve lifetime starts. Those twelve starts have resulted in 7 wins and 5 second placings. She is bred on that highly successful cross of Bettors Delight over a Christian Cullen mare - the cross that has produced the likes of Lazarus, Chicago Bull, Highview Tommy, Amazing Dream and many more Group winners. “My owners Charlie and Ann Sammut really like the Bettors Delight progeny and so we picked out Lot 396 at the Sydney Sale that year. We did go and look at some other fillies but kept coming back to Lot 396 and although a bit on the small side we knew we just had to buy her. “ said Anntonia’s trainer David Thorn recently. Anntonia is actually the full name of Charlie Sammut’s wife and despite being involved as an owner in Harness Racing for many years this Filly is their first Group One winner. Maybe Charlie, you should have named a horse after your wife many years ago. Bred at Goulburn by Matt Day Anntonia was bred and sold by Goulburn, NSW breeder Matt Day and is the third foal and third filly produced by the Christian Cullen mare Perfect Penny. Perfect Penny certainly didn’t light up the racetrack - her eight starts produced just one win and two placings and the bankroll of $7,073 didn’t indicate what lay ahead in her new career as a Broodmare. Even her first foal by Art Major didn’t leave a clue as to Perfect Penny’s future stardom. Canberra owner and trainer Michael Hawke moved the filly, named Riccarton Lass, on after five unplaced starts. Queensland based breeder Adam Cahill is now the benefactor of that move with her first foal selling for $30,000 at the recent APG Melbourne Sale. But then along came an American Ideal filly in 2015 which Cawdor, NSW trainer Paul Fitzpatrick took a liking to at the 2017 Sydney APG Sale. Now named Miss Halfpenny she has put a big smile on the face of her owners as well as some $235,400 into their Bank account, plus now another tidy sum after being sold recently as a Broodmare. Anntonia is the third foal whilst the first colt from Perfect Penny was sold to Paul Fitzpatrick at the 2020 Sydney Sales for $31,000. Named Rocknpenny, the son of A Rocknroll Dance has made a perfect start to his race career having won on debut at Menangle on 23rd March. A full brother to Miss Halfpenny was knocked down for $70,000 at this years Sydney APG Sale, whilst a full sister is being aimed at the 2022 Sales. Perfect Penny has provided Matt Day with a perfect return on the original investment of the mare with an Art Major filly at foot that he acquired from the late Brian Hardy. Being just 12 years old there is likely to be plenty more “ pennies “ pour into the Matt Day bank account. John Coffey Bloodstock Consultant

IT is time to take the Breeders Crown back to where it began – the bush. After a stellar month of regional racing – firstly in NSW at Bathurst and Wagga and now at Mildura – it’s clear taking the sport 'on the road' is vital and needs to be embraced even more. Australian thoroughbred racing’s most iconic country carnival, Warrnambool – or simply 'The Boo' as it’s known – is just around the corner and it begs the question why Mildura is Victoria’s only true country carnival. Sure we have a proud, robust and important country cup circuit, but building that into a couple more carnivals where participants and fans can gather and socialise as well as enjoy the racing looks a no-brainer. And the Breeders Crown is a ready-made product. It’s just my opinion, but the Crown has never felt quite at home at Tabcorp Park Melton. I loved the days, albeit many of them cold, at Bendigo in the Crown’s infancy. And who can forget that epic two-year-old final at Ballarat when the almost invincible Lombo Pocket Watch snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. We’ve got some great racing at Melton and the end of the year is getting pretty hectic, so a country-based Breeders Crown would be a good change-up. Bathurst, Wagga and now Mildura have oozed passion, competitive racing and a real connection with fans. Let’s have more of it. ______________________________________________________ A BIG tick to Nutrien for its first foray into harness racing yearling sales. Having spent a long and cold three days at the superb Inglis Oaklands Junction complex for the parade and sales, it was clear Nutrien threw the kitchen sink at the sales. I’ve been to loads of Inglis thoroughbred sales at that very complex and this felt very, very similar. Professional, strongly-staffed, attentive and even a dash of flair. Even the two coffee spots had the cheeky sort of baristas you’d expect to bump into in one of those iconic Melbourne laneways. It all came together for a terrific atmosphere. Sure there will be much discussion over the average prices and clearance rate, but for a first crack, Nutrien did everything it could. For me, the key learning was the late Saturday afternoon timeslot for the first session – going up against harness meetings at Mildura, Menangle, Albion Park and others – needs changing. No doubt it’s easier said than done to find an ideal timeslot, but surely the industry working as one can find a solution. It was great to see Victorian newcomers like Tim Butt and Nathan Purdon (son of Mark) taking float loads home. And hugely successful Victorian owner Jean Feiss broke a “five or six year” drought from buying at the Aussies sales, to splurge $180,000 on the sales-topping Bettors Delight-Our Golden Goddess colt. The growth of the trotter was underlined when Alabar Farms paid $170,000 for a colt by Father Patrick out of Victoria Oaks and Derby winning mare Une Belle Allure with a view to racing and hopefully “making” a stallion. He goes to Andy and Kate Gath. It’s always good when a former star racemare turns head at the sales and Matty Craven ensured that happened for Miracle Mile placegetter Arms Of An Angel. He paid $110,000 for her second foal by Art Major. Queenslander Shannon Price changed the trend of the sale late Saturday when she paid $100,000 for a Captaintreacherous colt out of Musical Delight. “I’m still haunted by being the under-bidding for Lazarus a few years back so I wasn’t going to miss this guy,” Price said. ______________________________________________________ DANNY Zavitsanos has quickly become a leviathan in the sport. Few could begrudge him winning his first Mildura Cup with Mach Dan as it came while he was still writing the cheque to pay for the three yearlings he bought just minutes earlier at the Nutrien sales, including $90,000 for a Bettors Delight colt out of Miss Hazel, bound for Nathan Purdon’s new Lara stable in Victoria. He also paid $80,000 for a Captaintreacherous colt out of Lovelist to be trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Zavitsanos, as good a bloke as he is supporter of the sport, spreads his horses around, supports Australia and NZ and oozes passion and enthusiasm every time you see him. It’s remarkable to think it was less than three years ago Zavitsanos and wife, Joanna, won their first Group 1 race as an owner when Enhance Your Calm took out a Harness Jewels final at Cambridge. He’s since kept winning them, most notably with Cruz Bromac in the 2019 NZ Cup at Addington. ______________________________________________________ AUSTRALIANS will see a lot more of NZ’s best pacer Self Assured next campaign. Owner Jean Feiss said the five-year-old would have one more run for trainer Hayden Cullen this campaign in NZ before a spell. He will then return for a defence of his NZ Cup crown before a possible Sydney Inter Dominion tilt and other Aussie features like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile. “While he’s had a few hard races, it’s been a lighter season than we expected because of COVID which meant he didn’t travel to Australia,” Feiss said. But don’t expect Self Assured to change stables. “When Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen) said they were taking a break, I said I’d stay loyal to Hayden (Cullen, who took over the stable) and that’s exactly what I’ve done and will keep doing,” Feiss said. Feiss confirmed the sale-topping Bettors Delight colt she bought at the Nutrien sales on Sunday was already booked to head to Cullen’s NZ stables.   Sky Racing - Adam Hamilton

Talented three-year-old Rocknovertime will be aimed for a Victorian hit and run mission after recording his fourth career win in the Stan Leedham Memorial (rating 54 to 56) in Launceston on Sunday night. Sent out as the $1.22 favourite, trainer-driver Paul Hill took the Rocknroll Heaven gelding straight to the lead in the 1680-metre event and was untroubled late to score a 11.8-metre win in a slick 56.0s last half mile with the gelding not even out of second gear late. “I was very happy with him, especially when you look at the horses he was racing against tonight,” said Hill. It was only the ninth career start for the pacer who has been placed in the Tasmanian Guineas and Tasmanian Derby at his only two other starts this season, and the trainer-driver is contemplating a trip across Bass Strait with the pacer. “We might send him to Victoria to see if he could win his Vicbred bonus as that was only his third run this time in, then we will turn him out and bring him back for the Globe Derby later in the season,” explained Hill. Northdown trainer Geoff Smith capped off a weekend double with Rambleon scoring a 1.1-metre win over My Celebrity in a rating 50 to 53 event. Driven by Mark Yole, the Blissful Hall gelding was only having his fourth outing since joining the Smith stable. “He was advertised online. He was racing up at Mildura, so I rang the bloke up and bought him,” Smith explained post-race. Despite starting at $13, the win was no surprise for the trainer. “He went good last start and had worked super at home during the week,” said Smith. “He is well-bred and should win his share of races down here,” added the winning trainer. The night’s fast class race looked to be a great race on the program, despite it being scheduled for 9:40pm. It was won by Scooterwillrev who found the lead near the 1700-metre point and dictated affairs to score by three-metres over The Crimson Prince who had the gun run on his back in a mile rate of 1m 58.3s, with the last half mile in 57.5s. Connections indicated that the pacer will have a short break. The win was the 1,400th career driving win in Australia for Gareth Rattray, becoming the third Tasmanian to register the mile stone. Rattray has also driven winners in New Zealand and Norway. Troy McDonald was the in-form driver of the meeting, scoring with the Wayne Yole-trained Brighton Prince ($8.50), and the Ben Yole-trained Good Feelings ($4.00) and Ranieri ($9.00). Ben Yole once again dominated the training ranks with Deadly Assassin ($6.00), Good Feelings ($4.00) and Ranieri ($9.00).   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

At $109 odds, it was a boil over in the $150,000 Group One WA Oaks for the three-year-old fillies with the Ron Huston trained Benesari Lane (Mach Three - Terrifying (Western Terror) flashing late to claim victory in the feature of the night. Driven to perfection by Kim Prentice, the filly overcame her barrier eight handicap to settle midfield and was able to leave her run until the last 400m, when she was able to come home in 30.5 seconds, winning by a head in 1:57:8 for the staying journey. Watch the race replay click here! “I had a little bet because she is a bit of a one pace staying type and her last few races have all been sit sprint race. She had been keeping up, but she couldn’t sprint as quick as them. I thought if she could get a genuinely run 2500m, she was the best stayer in the race.” Huston said. The $16,000 purchase from the APG Yearling Sales more than paid for herself on Friday night when adding the $96,000 prizemoney to her earnings. “We missed on about 10 horses at the yearling sales, we were getting towards the end of the day and Vicki said to come and have a look at this little one and I thought ‘Gee she’s small’, but there wasn’t many left and I had a look at the breeding and it had a nice cross that I knew worked well with a couple of horses in Melbourne, so we had a crack at her and got her cheap enough” Huston said. Huston is aiming to set the filly towards the rest of the three-year-old feature races that remain for the season, with the Diamond Classics coming up Friday May 21 at Gloucester Park. “She’s (Benesari Lane) no star but she’s probably got one of the best heart rates and best motors I have had in a horse, she just doesn’t have any high speed. “ Aptly named after Vicki Leas favourite drinking spot in Bali, there is no doubt that the pair will be celebrating the fillies win for a long time to come. Huston was first involved in harness racing in the mid 1990’s, in Kalgoorlie where he was originally involved as a stable hand but went on to get his trainers licence in 2000. The 42-year-old is no stranger to racing success, with the Byford based trainer having talented pacer Jumbo Operator who earned just over $300,000 back in 2010. Ron currently has three horses in work and mentioned Robbie Rocket is his star of the stable who he is hoping to aim towards the Derby. Driving honours were firmly with Chris Voak on Friday night with the talented reinsman steering home four winners on the night. Voak, who was last years leading reinsman is currently sitting in second place, with total stake earnings of over $563,000 in just over three months. In the first he steered home the $3.60 favourite Perfect Major for Ross Olivier, backing it up in race 2 for the Olivieri stable with Boom Time NZ proving too strong for rivals.  In race 3, he partnered up with Barry Howlett on the consistent mare Star of Diamonds to take out the FFA Fillies and mares’ race in an impressive 1:55:3. Race 8 was a family affair, with Voak steering home the $10 hope Rabchenko for his father-in-law,  trainer Frank Vanmaris, with the eight-year-old gelding winning by 3.6m   Ashleigh Paikos

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