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Australian Pacing Gold graduate Messini will have a new driver as he aims for another harness racing Group One victory on Saturday night. No stranger to top-shelf success, having won two Vicbred Super Series Finals, Messini is poised to contest the South Australia Cup for Victorian trainer Brent Lilley. With regular reinsmen Anthony Butt and Chris Alford committing to drives at Shepparton, Lilley has called up on leading local, Ryan Hryhorec, to partner the son of Art Major. “Being asked to drive such a nice horse in the Cup was a pleasant surprise that’s for sure,” Hryhorec said. “It’s the first time I’ve been down to drive a horse in a $100,000 race which is a descent chance of winning. “Like I said, to get the call up from Brent (Lilley, trainer) was a great surprise and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.” A Group Two winner last weekend when partnered by Alford, Messini will begin barrier 11, which should see the stallion finishing strongly during the latter stages according to Hryhorec. Messini began from the same barrier in last season’s Cup when an eye-catching fourth behind fellow Australian Pacing Gold purchase, Smolda, in track record time. “I’m hoping there will be a fair bit of action on during the run and then we can get the right trip into it,” Hryhorec said. “He is in good form and there is no doubt he’s a serious’ll just come down to what kind of luck he gets.” Messini is one of three APG ‘family members’ in the Cup, with Sams The Master drawn barrier three and Tee Ce Bee Macray to come from six. Sams The Master, which has won three of his last four starts, and Tee Ce Bee Macray are Jess Tubbs-trained stablemates. APG Media  

Australian Pacing Gold graduate Messini will be given another shot at Group One glory. Following Messini’s Group Two $60,000 Bendigo Pacing Cup success last night, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley revealed his plans of heading interstate with the son of Art Major. Lilley has earmarked the South Australian Cup as the seven-year-old’s next target, with the time honoured event headling a super card at Globe Derby on Saturday night. Messini is no stranger to top-shelf success, with the stallion triumphant in two Vicbred Super Series Finals.  “We’ll be going over to South Australia next for the Cup,” Lilley said. “It’s an ideal target for him. “He didn’t have much in the race last year, but still finished a strong fourth behind Smolda in track record time. “He’s in terrific form, and with a bit of luck this time, will be very hard to beat.” Driven by Chris Alford during his latest triumph, Messini enjoyed the run of the race in the coveted one-one before sprinting to a five-and-a-half metre win from Mister Wickham, with Bad Billy seven metres away third. “After getting a run like that he was always going to finish strongly,” Lilley said. “He’s just a genuine, consistent racehorse, which gives his all each time he races. It would be nice to have a stable full of horses just like him.” Messini now has earnings of over $656,000 lifetime. APG Media

Australian Pacing Gold purchase Mackenzie was too strong when first-up at Yonkers Raceway during the weekend. Given time to settle early, mare was sent forward by harness racing driver Jordan Stratton, who was prepared to pressure the leader, Call Me Queen Be, from the breeze. Forging her way to the front halfway along the home stretch, Mackenzie scored from Best Of Jenna and All About Madi. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven stopped the clock in 1:54 to register her 13th win of the season. Last April the Peter Tritton trained five-year-old captured the $310,000 Matchmaker Final. Mackenzie is a daughter of former star mare Kept For Pleasure, which was triumphant in the 2007 Australian Pacing Gold. Kept For Pleasure also won the 2008 Three-Year-Old APG Final. Boasting three winners from four starters, Kept For Pleasure is also the dam of multiple Group One winner and APG graduate, Vincent. APG Media  

Australian Pacing Gold graduates are set to dominate the first three-year-old harness racing features of the season at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Not only do the APG crew dominate in numbers, they also include the early favourites in both divisions of the $50,000 Home Grown Classics. Five fillies will line up in their Group Two, with Shez All Rock the one to beat despite her awkward draw. Successful in her heat – which doubled as her debut - Shez All Rock will begin from barrier six for leading trainer Emma Stewart. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven will be joined by APG grads Fire Safe, Outback Shadow, Quinzel and Ima Sassy Girl. APG has four runners in the colts/geldings $50,000 Final, with unbeaten gelding Yankee Roller expected to extend his perfect record despite drawing the inside of the second row. Also by Rock N Roll Heaven and coming from the Stewart stable, Yankee Roller has won his three starts in impressive fashion. Bossanova Bay and Raging Inferno – also part of the APG line-up – filled the trifecta behind Yankee Roller in their heat and will be out to extract revenge from barriers two and seven. Best Of Beauty, a stablemate of Yankee Roller, rounds out the APG squad and shapes as a major chance from gate four. by APG Media

Saturday's Australian Pacing Gold (APG) Brisbane Graduates Final for the first time has been granted harness racing Group 1 status featuring stakes of $100,000. The APG initiative, supported by Racing Queensland, was introduced to incentivise purchases at the Brisbane Sale.  The decision has been a winner providing buyers with an achievable target in their own state in addition to the main APG finals for $350,000 and breeders with increased sales prices.  In 2014, prior to the introduction of the race, the sales average was $11,147, in 2017 this grew by 68% to just under $19,000. To-date the Fillies have had the wood on the colts with Georgia Grace victorious in 2015, and Jossie James in 2016. The early market from UBET suggests this trend could well continue, with the James Rattray-trained Arts Treasure the $1.90 favourite.  Form analysist Darren Clayton concurs with the market placing Arts Treasure on top following her recent win in the QBRED Fillies final with the Mark Dux trained Pinup Boy his second elect. FULL PREVIEW OF THE ALBION PARK MEETING HERE The field for this year’s final including purchase price is outlined below;   Horse Sire Dam Purchase Price ($) Pinup Boy  Sportswriter Victree Bette $30,000 Gone Bust Grinfromeartoear The Third Category $13,000 Ark Patrol Grinfromeartoear Ark De Jeanne $28,000 (Reserve - Passed in) Arts Treasure Roll With Joe Art Start $21,000 Sister Feelgood Mr Feelgood Likeness $13,000 Mickee Cullen Christian Cullen English Elegance $60,000 Zindel Mr Feelgood Girl Of The Moment $15,000 Miss Costalot Lanercost Manhattan Montana $24,500 Kathleen Grace Mr Feelgood Magic In Motion $15,000 Digby Diva Shadow Play Evelyn Dee $8,000 (Reserve - Passed In) Naughtynheaven Rock N Roll Heaven My King Of Girl $22,000   The APG Brisbane Graduate Final is race 6 (8.10pm) of a strong 10-race card which commences at 5.43pm. Racing Queensland Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 12 August 2017 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 12 August 2017 Race programme for Albion Park, Saturday 12 August 2017

Australian Pacing Gold is offering a generous bidder the opportunity to feel good on two levels. The first instance is by securing a weekend away in the name of charity, while the second is purchasing a harness racing yearling at the Ladbrokes APG Sales in Perth. After learning about Aleisha Hausler’s terrible cancer ordeal, APG has provided three night’s accommodation and flights for two people to Perth for its Sale in March. Hausler is the daughter of astute trainer Ian Stanley and sister of popular horseman, Michael Stanley, who have enjoyed their share of success with APG stock – including Michael’s current star, Petacular. Four months ago the 33-year-old discovered a small lump on her breast, which doctors diagnosed as Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, a cancer traditionally found in woman over 60. “I just figured it was a cyst or blocked milk duct and planned to wait to see if it went away,” Hausler said. “I pretty much dismissed it.” “When I mentioned it to the doctor he told me it was literally a matter of four to six weeks between it being terminal and treatable.” As for APG’s donation, it is part of a fundraising event at Wheatsheaf Hotel in Terang on Sunday, which includes an auction of numerous fantastic items. Part two of the Perth trip is the Yearling Sale, which is scheduled for March 4, 2018. Last season’s Perth Sale produced five two-year-old Group One winners, highlighting the potential for buyers to strike it rich in Perth. Roughly 100 yearlings will go through the ring, with all yearlings eligible for more than $1million in Western Australian two-year-old features, along with the APG Final. Some of the WA-based majors include $100,000 Sales Classic Final, $100,000 Pearl Classic, $100,000 Diamond Classic, $100,000 Westbred Final, $35,000 Gold Bracelet, $125,000 Golden Slipper, and of course, the $350,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final. APG heats winners which qualify for the Final are also eligible for $15,000 travel subsidy! So what are you waiting for – dig deep in the name of charity by clicking here by APG Media

Exciting harness racing filly Nostra Villa has joined Australian Pacing Gold’s ever-growing list of feature winners. Trained by Emma Stewart, Nostra Villa captured last night’s Youthful Stake at Tabcorp Park Melton at just her second start. Thrilled with the two-year-old’s progress, Stewart has set her sights on the Vicbred Super Series, which begins with heats at Bendigo on June 20. Should all go according to plan, the daughter of Art Major will progress to the $120,000 Final at Melton on July 8. “That’s two wins from two starts, so you can’t ask for more than that,” Stewart said. “She is a very nice filly, which can a string a few more wins together as she goes along. “She will keep ticking along now as she works towards the Sires’ in a couple of weeks.” Driven by premier reinsman Chris Alford during her latest victory, Nostra Villa led throughout from barrier two to score from the Nicole Molander-trained pair Saphirique and Passion Delight in 1:55.1 over 1720 metres. With Nostra Beach fourth, the first four fillies across the line were all APG graduates. A half-sister to Group One winner Mister Jadore, Nostra Villa was purchased at last year’s Melbourne leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Sales. APG Media

Promising youngster Vouvray Beach is likely to embark on another interstate harness racing campaign. Following her triumph in last night’s Sweepstakes Final in Hobart, trainer Rod Ashwood revealed plans of heading across Bass Strait with the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere. Vouvray Beach made the trip to Victoria for last month’s Australian Pacing Gold series, when an eye-catching fourth in her heat. This time around the two-year-old may tackle the Australasian Breeders’ Crown. “We’d had a lot of problems with her before we went to Melbourne for the APG heats, but she’d gotten passed those before we left,” Ashwood said. “Although she’d missed some work because of it, she did well in her heat. “After that I decided it was best to give her a freshen up for the Sweepstake and it all worked out well.” With Ricky Duggan holding the reins, Vouvray Beach led throughout the Final to score from Ideal Bliss and Class Tells in 1:59.1 over a mile. The fact Vouvray Beach is racing, let alone winning features, is a stroke of luck according to Ashwood. “The same night after she won at Launceston on March 26 she went through the fences at home,” Ashwood said. “We don’t know what happened, she just went mad! “She hurt herself, but thankfully it wasn’t anything serious. “I will give her a few weeks to a month off now, then look at the Breeders’ Crown heat. “Whatever she does this season is a bonus really, as she is a big filly which is still growing into herself. She will be a very nice filly this time next year.” by APG Media

A long-held plan came together perfectly for harness racing connections of a talented filly, capturing a rich juvenile prize on a night to remember. Nostra Beach pipped stablemate Molly Kelly to win another Australian Pacing Gold triumph for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Smythes Creek team, which produced the trifecta with Molly Kelly a close second and Pistol Abbey third. In addition to a monumental training performance, the Somebeachsomewhere filly's win also marked driver Mark Pitt’s first Group 1 win, having come in the 23-year-old’s 1388th drive. It was also a stunning track record, with the 1:53.5 mile rate slashing two seconds off Mindarie Priddy’s 2013 two-year-old fillies’ benchmark, and was also 0.2 under Dont Hold Back’s two-year-old colts and geldings’ record for the short distance. And, last but not least, it was reward for a grand investment by owners Mervat and Anthony Caruana and their families, who lit a chilly Tabcorp Park Melton straight alight with their unbridled joy. Speaking minutes after the triumphant trifecta Stewart was soaking up another record breaking night. “It was exciting,” she said. “To go into a race with four live hopes, and they weren’t all without a winning hope, but to run first three probably (seems like) wishful thinking. It was a great effort.” The win comes in the wake of Stewart’s stable capturing last month’s Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks with Miss Graceland, a filly out of Amarillen. Bred by Naomi and the late Richard Hinds, it is significant because the same Tasmanian breeders and same dam also produced Nostra Beach. Stewart said it was not only reaffirmation of the importance of breeding lines, but significant that Nostra Beach was at the top of her class so early given she, like Miss Graceland, didn’t always hit the ground running. “Nostra Beach had a great run and she did a top job,” Stewart said. “Her sister (Miss Graceland) is like this as well, she’s always sort of been a little hard to get going. “For (Nostra Beach) to be up for the Gold was a pretty big effort for her, because she does do a few things wrong. She’s got raw ability and I think that sort of counteracts a bit of greenness. She did a terrific job and I knew she would improve with racing.” She was also advantaged by the race’s unrelenting pace. As expected, Molly Kelly found the front from gate five, with pressure coming from trainer-driver Mark Purdon’s entrant Just Makemine Diamonds, who rolled forward from gate seven and kept on rolling. A 26.9 first quarter set the race alight and prompted Chris Alford (Molly Kelly) to hand the lead to Just Makemine Diamonds, exposing Nostra Beach to the breeze first time down the main straight. Pitt saw off Passions Delight’s attempt to advance three-wide and claim the breeze, forcing Jason Lee to relent and retreat to the back of the pack and putting paid to her chances. The pace eased only slightly through 28.7 and 28.5 second and third quarters, and as they approached the final straight Just Makemine Diamonds bid had faltered, with Alford easing Molly Kelly off her back to hunt Nostra Beach, who had stolen a good length at the final turn. A courageous Molly Kelly chomped ground from Nostra Beach, but the latter held on to score by a half-neck, with Pistol Abbey the only filly to make ground to run into an impressive third. “I was pretty confident over the short distance, but a lot of horses step out in finals and they do improve,” Stewart said. “I knew Mark’s horse would improve and it came out of the gate hard and it’s probably cost Molly Kelly winning the race, but you have to have the numbers in it. “With our training, we do a lot with the two-year-olds and we are sort of used to keeping them up and know where they have to be. They are not heavily raced before they come into this series. It’s worked out pretty good.” Particularly for the Caruana family, who purchased the filly for $62,000 at the 2016 Australian Pacing Gold sales and were rewarded with Saturday night’s $150,000 pay day in only her fourth start. “He’s that excited,” Stewart said of Anthony Caruana. “He’s put a lot of money into these horses and I don’t think he’s had a winner until this filly. He’s that excited and it’s great to see.” Mr Caruana said a lot of work preceded the honour of lofting the APG trophy. “I want to thank Rita Burnett and Moni Burnett who broke the horse in, are always on call and give me a lot of advice,” he said. “My Dad got me into the game and always supported me with everything that I do.” And then, of course, there is the trainer who applies more than just the polish. “I was taking a horse up to Emma’s one day and I said to Emma I’ve got a surprise for you, here you go Emma, you’ve got another horse, you’ve got Miss Graceland’s sister,” Mr Caruana said. “I was speaking to Clayton before and said, “It was a good surprise, hey?” And he said it was a brilliant surprise. I said to him the surprise went both ways because if I never gave the horse to you there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here today.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

It's rare for harness racing stablemates to fill the trifecta in any race, let alone a Group One. Yet that’s exactly what three of Emma Stewart’s runners achieved at Melton just moments ago. With four runners in the Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final, Stewart was in a strong position to claim the glory, with a trifecta forming a dream result. It’s not the first time Stewart has accomplished such a feat, with three of her runners completing the trifecta in an Empire Stallion Vicbred Super Series Final in 2012. “To have the first three home in such a big races is amazing,” Stewart said. “It would’ve been even more remarkable if it was the first four, but Typhoon Tilly didn’t have much luck. “It’s an honour just to win a Group One, but to get the trifecta is a wonderful feeling.” Nostra Beach led home the team by outstaying her rivals with Mark Pitt in the sulky. Driven to perfection by Pitt, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere occupied the ‘death seat’ after beginning from the second row before accounting for Molly Kelly and Pistol Abbey. “They did well and it was a great run from Nostra Beach,” Stewart said. “She did all the work and still toughed it out.” Stretching her record to three wins and a second for owner Mervat Caruana, Nostra Beach provided Pitt with his first top shelf victory. “This is something I will never forget,” Pitt said. “On the turn I was worried about what sweepers might be coming, but 100 metres from home, I knew she had them covered.” To be given a light week, Nostra Beach will then be aimed at a Vicbred Super Series heat in June. The two-year-old’s half-sister and stablemate, Miss Graceland – winner of last month’s Victoria Oaks - has also been targeted at the rich futurity. The fillies are from broodmare gem Amarillen, which is also the dam of 2009 Vicbred champion Villagem. HOOFNOTE: it is the second time a trainer has filled the trifecta in an Australian Pacing Gold Final. Jayne Davies was the ground breaker when Espeshlimade Lombo outclassed her rivals in Brisbane in 2001. Espeshlimade Lombo headed a stable trifecta as Lombo Bella Petite and Copy Cat Lombo filled the placings. APG Media

So far she’s gone through the series unnoticed, but Black Silhouette is ready to step out of the shadows. That’s the call from harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco after his promising filly drew perfectly in Saturday night’s Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Third in her heat at Menangle a fortnight ago, Black Silhouette was fourth in her semi won by unbeaten youngster Molly Kelly last weekend. With the daughter of Shadow Play to begin from the pole in the $322,000 decider, Dimarco is positive Black Silhouette is ready to surprise her more fancied rivals. “It’s great to get a draw like that with her,” Dimarco said. “Coming from there puts her right in the mix. “She has done a good job to get to the Final and has improved with every run. “Last week she pulled a little in the semi during that slow middle quarter, but with such a strong field this week, the pace should remain consistent, which will help her. “She’s come through the run in great order and has settled in well down here at Vince’s (Vallelonga) place. “I worked her this morning and she felt great. She’s ready to run a big race.” Owned by his wife Michelle, daughter Marissa, her partner Tim and his mother Norma, Black Silhouette found her way into Dimarco’s stable via prominent horseman Ricky Alchin. “Ricky bought her at the Sydney APG Sale and was preparing her for the Ready To Run Sale, but we bought her off him before that,” Dimarco explained. “Marissa picked her out and particularly liked her because she is by Shadow Play. “We won our first Group One with Shadow Runner, which is also by Shadow Play, so Marissa likes his stock.” APG Media

Boom harness racing youngster Lumineer will be given a light week before connections make a decision on his next major target. Fresh from his demolition of last night’s $300,000 Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Lumineer is resting in New South Wales today before embarking on the long trip back to trainer Ange McDowall’s Victorian property. Once home the two-year-old will enjoy an easy time to recover from his triumphant campaign. “He is having today off before we head home, where he will have a pretty easy week,” McDowall said. “He is not the kind of horse you can put in a paddock to rest as he is always on the go, but he won’t do much this week. “When we are home I will see how he settles down and go from there.” With the son of Sportswriter eligible for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge in June, a return trip across the Murray River is a likely scenario. Lumineer is also eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown at Melton in August. “I won’t be making any plans until after we are home and settled,” McDowall said. “At this stage I’m not ruling anything out, but I’m not pencilling anything in either.” As for his latest win, Lumineer led throughout from the pole to account for Stefsbest and Jilliby Lorenzo in 1:54.4 over a mile with Jason Lee holding the reins. “I was nervous and stressed before the race as it’s a big thing for me and my family,” McDowall said. “It was the first time we’ve had a horse in a Group One and you just don’t know how things are going to turn out. “It’s a wonderful feeling to win such a big race, but it’s back down to earth cleaning out boxes this morning.” A $30,000 purchase at the Melbourne APG Sale, Lumineer is owned by the McDowall family under the BLG Racing Group, which consists of the trainer’s parents Brian and Louise and their Girls – six daughters! Unbeaten from five starts, the colt boasts a bankroll of $177,980.  

Two regally related harness racing fillies will take winning form into next Saturday night’s $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold fillies final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Tonight’s lead-up APG Semi-Finals at Victorian metro trots headquarters saw Fiore Stride and Molly Kelly do their families proud, both victorious ahead of the big dance. Fiore Stride, whose dam Under The Mattress is best known for producing superstar Smolda, went 1:57.7 and defeated Mark Purdon-trained Just Makemine Diamonds tonight for reinsman John Caldow. “She travelled nice in the run. The leader (Just Makemine Diamonds) was knocking off and not concentrating and to (Fiore Stride’s) credit she out-stayed them,” Caldow said. Owner Emilio Rosati was on course at Melton to see his latest star stride to victory and the Cobbitty team behind the daughter of Art Major have reason to take confidence into next week. But standing in the way of the Sydneysider capturing ‘belle of the ball’ status is Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart, whose two rising star fillies fought out the first of tonight’s Semi-Finals in a quicker time of 1:56.5. Frith’s full-sister, Molly Kelly, by Four Starzzz Shark out of Jackie Kelly, defeated stablemate Nostra Beach in the finish by a head for reinsman Chris Alford. And Alford drew comparisons between the fledgling filly and her mighty millionaire older sister. “She’s a big raw girl … she’s like Frith in her early days. She used to gawk around a bit when Bruce used to drive her and this one’s a lot like her, so hopefully she can go on to have a career like she did,” Alford said. “The run should do her good for next week.” Alford had the choice of drive between Molly Kelly and Nostra Beach tonight and said the barrier draw was probably the only thing that gave Molly the nod.  “Clayton (Tonkin) couldn’t separate them in trackwork but the draw probably helped me (make the decision),” he said. Callmequeenbee ran third behind the Stewart stablemates in the first Semi, while Passions Delight, who was supreme in her heat win when holding the lead and copping pressure throughout, tonight was crossed early and finished third after travelling in the box seat throughout.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The Black and White army is hunting gold this weekend. Grant Dixon, the country’s leading harness racing trainer with 183 winners to date, is represented by Colt Thirty One in the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final for colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Twenty-four hours earlier, the Dixon trained Fame Assured starts in the APG Fillies semi-final at TABCORP Park, Melton. And with a large representation from his home base in Brisbane across the weekend, it’s all hands on deck. But this is nothing unusual for the major stable. “It’s going to be a hectic weekend, we’ve got plenty of runners starting locally while having two runners competing interstate makes it a little more busier than normal but hopefully we can have some luck.” Dixon said. The leading horseman will remain in Brisbane and drive at Albion Park tomorrow (Friday) before flying south the following day to partner Colt Thirty One in the Sydney feature. Colt Thirty One qualified for the final following his unlucky effort last week in the semi-final when 5th behind boom Victorian colt Lumineer in a scorching time of 1:52.5. “I was really happy with his effort last week, he traveled down well and settled in well while he didn’t have much go right for him over the final stages. I went for an inside run and ended up locking wheels which certainly hampered him, the winner was in no danger but we should’ve run a place. “It’s a really strong final and the semi-final winners look outstanding, we’ll need some luck but I think he can feature if the breaks go his way.” Colt Thirty One has drawn gate four. Miracle Mile winning reinsman Mat Rue will take the drive on Fame Assured in Melbourne. Fame Assured, a winner of her only start in the Albion Park heat on April 18 will start from gate eight, the inside of the second-line and thus providing Rue with options. The Mach Three filly rated 1:57.7 winning on debut. “We’ve decided to give this trip a go and hopefully she can force her way into the final, I liked her win and she’s continued to improve since. “The draw is fair and hopefully Mat can get some breaks going his way, the Victorian fillies look hard to beat.” Both Colt Thirty One and Fame Assured are raced by their breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour. Dixon has 10 runners competing at Albion Park tomorrow while he has 11 runners on Saturday night. Classy four-year-olds Frankie Rocks and Leos Best start in the $15,000 Rising Stars Championship Final following their heat victories earlier this week. Dixon’s wife Trista will partner Leos Best while Mark Dux takes the drive behind Frankie Rocks. Both pacers are being aimed at the upcoming Brisbane winter carnival features. Chris Barsby

Eddie Tappe has trained and driven horses in every harness racing season but one since 1979-80, and in Im Monica the 62-year-old says he may have his best horse yet. She may still be a maiden after only five starts, but Im Monica’s eye-catching second in her Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old fillies heat has her trainer-driver-owner buoyed about what may lay ahead. “This is the best result,” Tappe said. “For her to get that far, she’s probably the best I’ve had. Fingers crossed she just keeps delivering.” Not only did Im Monica qualify handsomely for Friday night’s APG semi-finals, but she has drawn the pole mark and appears well positioned to make a bid for the $322,000 May 6 Group 1 final. For Tappe, qualification itself is an irresistible proposition. Based at Congupna, north of Shepparton, Tappe has readied his horses for 580 race starts across his 37 years training, yielding 29 wins. Much of those were produced by Ben Suru (a winner between 1983-86), Speedrow (1986-1989), Polatair (1997-2001), Allinjarra (1999-2001), Joshinjarra (2003-2005) and more recently Jovial Jurno Lombo (2016-2017). And of those only the latter’s won a stakes race worth more than $7000. In all of those Tappe has taken the reins and he will do so again on Friday night, when Im Monica will emerge from gate one at 8.40pm in the second of the $30,000 filly’s heats. It’s an alluring proposition a little over 12 months on from when Tappe snapped her up for $15,000 at the APG Melbourne sale. “I liked the look of her and Sportswriter has done a pretty fair job, and her third dam (Foys Folly) on her mother’s side produced some good New Zealand horses,” Tabbe said. “We had about a dozen who we wanted to have a look at (at the sales) and she was the first one to fall into our price range so we brought her home.” She debuted at Bendigo on January 17 and ran fourth amid a field of six, some 61.6m in arrears of Peter Manning’s filly Amelias Courage. “In her first run Amelias Courage went (a 1:55 mile rate) and she wasn’t ready to run that. The first three got away and she was a bit average,” he said. “In her second run (a 10th at Kilmore) she got a little lost in traffic when a couple of horses galloped rough and she didn’t run it out as I might have liked. “She was showing more at home and still only learning, so while I was a little concerned I was still hopeful that she would keep progressing. “After that I took the block blinkers off and put a fly veil and Dolly Varden winkers on and that seemed to have done the trick, because she was looking around a bit too much before that.” Next stop was the Maryborough Golf & Bowls Clubs 2YO Pace when, at $145 on the tote, she ran a game third, finishing off strongly from three back on the pegs to finish within 7m of Emma Stewart’s Typhoon Tilly, who will also contest Friday’s semi-final. She also finished well when fourth in her next start at Ballarat, beaten only 5.8m when the slower tempo wasn’t to her suiting, and Tappe said he “was quite pleased with” those runs. Next stop was the APG heat, when she benefited from the gate one draw. “You’ve got to go there hoping she can compete against horses who have already performed. You hope they can take than next step and be competitive.” She settled into three back the pegs, able to steady while well fancied Passions Delight and Amelias Courage blazed up front. Concern rose when Im Monica started to pull heading into the final turn, but Tappe managed to steer her through a gap between Yourockanna and Amelias Courage to be the best thing hitting the line behind impressive winner Passions Delight. “She got a bit keen around the home turn and still worked to the line well,” he said. “For her to do that, to get keen, and still finish so well was probably above expectations.” And so it’s on to the semi-final, where lady luck has again been in Tappe’s favour at the random barrier draw, delivering a second successive gate one. “I’d like to be able to lead, because it would suit her, but at the moment I don’t know if she has the gate speed to hold off the quicker ones,” he said. “We will be as prominent as we can be and hope for the best. It will be hard to make the final, but at least she’s in it.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017

Angela McDowell's flying two-year-old colt Lumineer can't be beaten in Saturday night's harness racing $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. That's the verdict of Trots Media's Cody Winnell, who sprouted confidence in the unbeaten Sportswriter colt during last night's Trots On Tuesday radio segment on SEN 1116AM. "I'd put a line through all of them, they are not getting anywhere near Lumineer," Winnell said. "There was absolute daylight between Lumineer and the rest of the field and there is no way any of those runners are turning the tables on Lumineer in the final. "And if you take a line back through that Higherthananeagle heat (when Lumineer sat outside and beat him), I don't see anything from the other semi-final going anywhere near him. It will go around, it will win easily, because it's the best two-year-old I've seen for a while." Listen in to Winnell and Michael Howard's podcast, which can be heard from about 11pm every Tuesday on SEN 1116AM. Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017

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