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The second annual Australasian Premier Trotting Sale, sponsored by Pryde’s EasiFeed, will be held on Sunday, March 23 at Tabcorp Park Melton, the day following the running of the Group 1 $400,000 Great Southern Star. The sale has attracted 44 nominations – up from 40 last year – and will feature the cream of the crop of Australia's trotting yearlings. And, to give the sale a truly international flavour, 40 percent of the catalogue are out of overseas mares – three USA, 14 NZ and one Europe. Duncan McPherson, a Director of the sales company, said: “The sale represents an opportunity for purchasers to buy at any level of the market. With 18 stallions represented there’s a horse in the sale for every pocket. Never before in Australia has such an offering and variety of yearlings been made available to the Harness industry. “Full credit goes to the vendors of the yearlings who have shown great faith not only in the sale but also in the initiatives taken by Harness Racing Victoria in its efforts to internationalise and globalise the Trotter.” A feature of the sale will be the first Australian crop of former USA superstar and now siring sensation Muscle Hill. He will be represented by two colts, one out of a half-sister to Calder Sensation and to the dam of Blitzthemcalder, and the other from the American-bred Let’s Be Happy, the mother of Vicbred heat winner Verbier. Muscles Yankee, the sire of Muscle Hill, has a single entry, a filly out of the multiple Group 1 winner Adella’s Dash, dam of the SA Trotters Derby winner Glenferrie Dreamer. Muscles Yankee’s highest stakes earning entire son ‘Down Under’, Skyvalley ($322,675), has by far the biggest draft with seven fillies and two colts. The top picks could be the colt out of former top racemare Jauriol, the colt from the sister to Swedish star Yield Boko and fillies out of Aldebaran Dream (Vic. Trotters Oaks) and the Muscles Yankee mare Charming Yankee. Besides Muscles Yankee and his sons, the catalogue boasts stock by established sires such as Angus Hall, Majestic Son, Pegasus Spur, Monarchy and Conch Deville and the exciting newcomers Bacardi Lindy, Federal Flex, Great Success, Lawman, Armbro Variable, The Pres, Bad Boy Truscott, Tennotrump, Aldebaran Yankee and Zooma. Angus Hall, one of America’s most successful sires of all-time, has four nominations including a gelding from the 1:57 $150,000 winning Muscles Yankee mare Lindy’s Two Step, two colts out of mares from the wonderful Maori Miss tribe and a colt from the classics-winning Pinevale Ellason. Another sire with a strong representation at the sale is Majestic Son, last year’s leading sire of two-year-old trotters. His five entries include a half-brother to the Vicbred champion Split Image, a colt out of a half-sister to Skyvalley and Allegro Agitato, a half-brother to the Derby placegetter Our Dreamlover and a filly out of a half-sister to the cup class trotter Danny Cash. While Pegasus Spur, the sire of three Breeders Crown champions, has fillies out of Shez Allrighty ($85,431), Kyvalley Bling (family of Kyvalley Road) and the Muscles Yankee mare Aldebaran Honey and a colt out of Maori Sunshine (Lightfoot Laurels). Other well performed racemares with progeny in the sale include the Trotters Oaks winner Running Pinevale, Speedy Naomi ($77,316), Aldebaran Maori ($74,581), Cloud Chaser (VSTA Cup), Poppy, Strike Destroyer, Enjoy A Champers and the Breeders Crown placegetter Pocket Fantasy. There’s a sister to the dual Vicbred champion Brunelleschi and close relatives to a swag of Group and Cup winning trotters including Galleon’s Assassin, Merinai, Spidergirl, Danny Bouchea, Stoned I Am, National Interest, My Missindependent, Jazz Legend and Tucumcari. All prospective purchasers should note that the $7,000 Vicbred First Win bonus is applicable to Vicbred eligible horses as is Breeders Crown and Need For Speed Series. All purchasers are encouraged to become members of the Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club as owners bonuses are available to all those horses owned by members in selected events during their racing careers. The online catalogue for the Australasian Premier Trotting sale can be viewed at Hard-copy catalogues can be requested from Harness Racing Victoria on phone 8378 0200 in early February. by Peter Wharton

The ever progressive Horsham Harness Racing Club conducted a sensational race day program on Sunday January 5th, highlighted by the running of the $60,000 (Group 2) Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup for M0 or better class horses over 2700 metres and what a race it was with the victor being five year old Riverboat King / Alimar Star gelding Keayang Steamer for Terang trainer Marg Lee, nephew Glen Craven and the Craven family. Although small in numbers, the field attracted a tremendous array of talent headed by champion Smoken Up, along with last year’s Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish, outstanding gelding Abettorpunt and potential stars Keayang Steamer, Magical Telf, and Im Corzin Terror. Mah Sish was best to begin from the pole from Hugo Play (gate two) with Smoken Up (gate six) three wide pushing forward to assume control running into the first turn. Keayang Steamer (gate five) was trapped wide, with Glen Craven having no option but to press forward to occupy the position outside the leader. The pattern of the race didn’t alter until the final circuit when Hugo Play eased three wide to challenge the leaders, while at the same stage Keayang Steamer immediately and surprisingly strode past Smoken Up with Glen thinking to himself that he had gone for home too early. Although unable to pass Smoken Up completely, Keayang Steamer held a 4.7 metre margin to the wire, with Hugo Play running the race of his life to finish 3.6 metres in arrears of the pair in third place. With quarters of 31.1, 31, 28.8 and 28.7 for the last mile, Keayang Steamer returned a new track record mile rate of 1-59.8 for the journey. The additional highlight of the day being the $15,000 Conch Deville HorshamTrotters Cup for TM0 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2700 metres which saw brilliant four year old Metropolitan / Like A Calder entire Blitzthemcalder thrill the crowd with a tremendous performance to snare the major prize, Bred and raced by Rick Burchell, Blitzthemcalder trained at Lara by Dean Braun with regular reinsman Chris Alford in the sulky, was very slow to begin from the pole, giving the tearaway leader Si Capisco up to 50 metres start at one stage, with both Allaward Ugo and the Kiwi Thanesan which both galloped early putting themselves out of business. Commencing a forward move racing for the bell, it was easily seen that Blitzthemcalder was going to round his rivals up with ease as the tempo in which the race was run suited him to perfection. Not bustled to make ground in a hurry, Blitzthemcalder strode effortlessly to the front on the home turn and careered away to score by an official margin of 35 metres in a mile rate of 2-04.9 (last half 64.1 – quarter 33) in advance of Lightning Joy (three back the markers – one/one last lap) and Trappers Puzzle (one/two) which recovered after an early gallop. The mile rate being only .9 of a second outside Sir Gondola’s race record set in 2005. by Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

It was a very big weekend for Teasing after racing twice in the space of 72 hours and enduring a road trip from Newcastle to Brisbane in between. Trained by Newcastle's Adam Francis, the Conch Deville mare finished second behind Charlie Bubbles on Friday night before winning the first race at Albion Park on Monday afternoon comfortably. "It was a great performance by Teasing, she tries very hard in her races and that is probably her downfall a bit because she is still a bit keen and needs to learn more," Francis said. "Shaun Gillespie picked her up on Saturday and took her to Brisbane, he mentioned there weren't many in the trot so I threw her in and after she handled the trip so well we decided to start her immediately up there and she did it well." Francis confirmed Teasing will stay in Queensland for the time being. "I'm a pastry chef and run a bakery in Argenton (Newcastle) and the only time of the year that I get to have a break is between Christmas and New Year, so I've cut my team right back at the moment and will be heading to Melbourne to watch the Boxing Day test so Teasing will stay up there for a while." "I work very long days, I start at 6pm at the shop, work through until 6am and then head off and work the horses before going home and having a few hours sleep before doing it all over again, seeing the horses win is very rewarding considering how much time you have to put in." One bonus for Francis is that he doesn't have to travel far between work, home and the horses. "It's a nice set-up actually, it's a triangle, it is only five minutes from my place to the stables and another five minutes to work." "I take the horses in each day to the Newcastle track to work them, it is a very good surface and the team there do a very good job, it is great to see the club running a few more trotting events." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Smythes Creek (Ballarat) trainer Emma Stewart and freelance Bacchus Marsh reinsman Gavin Lang each recorded doubles at Saturday's Cranbourne fixture, Stewart with two six year olds - Mister Sheedy in the Tintin In America Pace for C6 or better class over 2080 metres and Tara Toplady the Cranbourne Trainers Bonanza for C4 & C5 class (mares) over 1609 metres, while Lang was successful aboard Gatesys Girl in the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2575 metres and Flaxton Filly in the Bayside Group Pace for C1 class over 1609 metres. Mister Sheedy a gelded son of Presidential Ball and Intoxicating driven by Michael Stanley, was surprisingly able to head off the favourite Astronaut shortly after the start from gate five and after an easy time, proved too strong for Astronaut along the sprint lane in a rate of 1-59.4 (last half 56.9 - quarter 28.3), with the Cranbourne specialist Stylish Jasper close up in third place after following the pair. Bettors Delight/Perfect Passion mare Tara Toplady taking a concession for reinswoman Jaimie-Lee King, was a big winner of her race after being trapped three wide from gate four and eventually working to the lead at the bell.  Joined by Arber for the final circuit, the pair raced away approaching the home turn with the race to themselves, with Tara Toplady giving plenty to hold a margin of a neck on the wire. Jasmine Sheffield (one/one) was 8.2 metres away in third place. The mile rate 1-56.9. Smart 5-Y-0 Conch Deville/Glamor Loch mare Gatesys Girl is good when she's on her game and was at Cranbourne with a tough victory in a mile rate of 2-07.4.  Trained in Gippsland at Longwarry by Michael Hughes, Gatesys Girl stepped cleanly from a 10 metre handicap, with Lang having no hesitation is sending her forward to park outside the pole line leader Mallee Trapper.  Appearing to be under pressure on the final bend with the leader holding a clear margin, Gatesys Girl rallied under desperate driving to score by a head right on the wire in a rate of 2-07.4. The 40 metre backmarker Earl Or Nothing ran on late from last to finish third. Eight year old Village Jasper/Turn To Gold mare Flaxton Filly which had recorded 6 wins from 86 outings prior to the race, was given a cosy trip three back on the marker line from inside the second row, with the heavily supported Obama leading from gate four with Monique Burnett in the sulky for trainer Maree Caldow. Extricated into the clear on straightening, Flaxton Filly came with a brilliant burst of speed to register a runaway victory in advance of Obama which offered no resistance, with Zoomba third after racing in the open. The mile rate 1-59.8. Lara trainer Dean Braun made it three from three with recent stable addition Sals Mo in the Ade Turf Equipment Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2080 metres. Beginning with a wing on every foot for Nathan Jack from gate five, Sals Mo was untroubled to lead throughout, winning by 9.6 metres in a rate of 1-58 from Conflict Of Interest (one/two) and Courageous Spirit which trailed the winner. A five year old Art Major/Dream Chaser gelding, Sals Mo is the 6th winner from the dam, the most noticeable being 18 race winner Detriot Dan (By Oil Burner). Len Baker

Kevin Ford and Will Atone won’t necessarily have their backs against the wall come the last race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night having been marked the $3.20 second favourite. But their journey to Victorian trotting HQ is a tale that surely has underdog written all over it. The squaregaiting son of Conch Deville has only had four starts in his entire life. Rewind five months and he was only just making his debut as a seven-year-old. It’s rare to see a horse emerge after so many years of failing to make it to the track, but a handful of encouraging trials back in 2010 meant his trainer couldn’t yet give up on him. “He’s broken a few pedal bones, which is what has held him back,” Ford said. “He did it just after he qualified at Maryborough so he was out for 12 months and when we brought him back in he did the same pedal bone in a different spot so he was out for another 12 months.” The luck of breaking the same bone in a different place may  have seemed almost uncanny but then Ford had to face another challenge. After finding out the horse had sustained a non-healing fracture he was forced to have a screw inserted in his leg which subsequently was infected and all but spelled the end of his career before it had ever began. “He was pretty much going to be finished then but Ian said ‘we’ll take the screw out and see what happens’ and I started working him two or three months after that,” Ford said. “We’ve sort of rolled from of disaster to another but he worked up nice when I had Allrumour at the same stage and he always worked a bit better than her and she won a few races before she broke down.” With the issues averted, they finally made it to the racetrack and albeit fleetingly, Will Atone has started to put together the potential he has always shown. After being narrowly run down on debut, he galloped at his next start but managed to pick himself up for fourth. A strong second two starts ago was followed by a break-out win at Ballarat just over a week ago. And now the task doesn’t get any easier at Melton on Friday. Drawn the second line, it will be a new test for Ford and the eight-year-old “He’s still pretty green and learning. I don’t trial him very much so if he holds together he should improve with the racing,” he said. “We haven’t drawn the second row before but I think he’ll end up being a tougher horse, he just doesn’t have that hardness into him yet.” by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Former Ballarat Trotting Club Secretary/Manager Colin Holloway returned to the scene of his greatest triumphs when 4-Y-0 Live Or Die /Inclination gelding Excuse To Live greeted the judge in the Seniors Starquest 10/10 Pace for C0 class over 1710 metres at Bray Raceway on Tuesday September 17, returning a slick mile rate of  1-57 Raced by Colin, wife Heather and son Brett, Excuse To Live trained by Colin and driven by Brett, settled three back in the moving line from gate two, before being pushed back a spot when Daryl Douglas urged Desiring Kate forward three wide at the bell after being trapped wide from the outset after starting from outside the front line. Latching to the back of Crazy Dave ahead of him three wide in the final circuit, Excuse To Live received a lovely trail home and when taken wide in the straight, finished strongly to defeat Crazy Dave by 3.6 metres, with the roughie Chesney (death-one/one at bell) third. Excuse To Live was bred by former HRV Board member Peter Bourke. It was welcome back to the winners stall for Campbells Creek trainer/driver Kevin Ford when lightly raced 8-Y-0 Conch Deville /Wringing Wet gelding Will Atone scored in the Diamond Rewards Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2200 metres. Raced by Kevin and mother Kath who was victorious in winning both the 1988 and 1992 Australasian Trotters Championships aboard Fair Tally and Penny Brown, Will Atone making only his fourth appearance at the races led throughout from gate three, scoring by 1.9 metres in advance of Ballan Road which trailed and Ifu Seek The Luck which moved outside the winner approaching the home turn after a one/one trip. The mile rate 2-04.7. Rocknroll Hanover /Aston Villa colt Yankee Rockstar raced by a large syndicate under the banner of  Peter Tonkin Racing Syndicate No 3 and Lauriston Bloodstock Pty Ltd, had an effortless victory in the Flying Horse Bistro 3-Y-0 Pace over 1710 metres. Touted by many as a star of the future, Yankee Rockstar trained at Smythes Creek by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin was second up since February and with Michael Stanley in the sulky, led throughout from gate six, coasting to the wire 9.9 metres ahead of Ideal Majority which trailed sticking to his guns well, with Eliseos Falcon third 8.4 metres away after racing in the open. The mile rate 1-56.2. Five year old Armbro Operative /Sexy Lexy Whitby entire Black Caprice chalked up his eighth success in 35 outings, when victorious in the Laser Electrical Pace for C2 class over 1710 metres in a rate of 1-56.2. Trained at Bacchus Marsh by Alan Tubbs and driven by daughter Amy, Black Caprice from gate two was able to cross the red-hot favourite Goodtime Veejay inside him at the start who immediately moved away from the markers to race outside him. With Amy making the favourite chase hard a long way from home, Black Caprice held a handy margin on the final bend, maintaining a 6.3 metre buffer on reaching the wire. Future Operator (one/one) finished third. Len Baker

The mandatory two harness racing meetings were held in Victoria on Wednesday May 29, with Charlton in Central Victoria racing during the afternoon and Geelong holding the night time fixture.

Two harness racing meetings were held in Victoria on Thursday May 9 - Wedderburn holding the day fixture at Maryborough and Ballarat racing at night.

The second night of the Mildura Cup Carnival on Thursday April 11 was highlighted by two trotting races which are only held once a year in Sunraysia.

With temperatures around 37 degrees, those in attendance at Charlton certainly braved the extreme heat to witness some exciting harness racing.

The ever popular Cobram harness racing meeting situated on the Victorian/NSW border, raced on Wednesday January 16, with most races going to the nearby Shepparton area.

Heats of the harness racing two year old classic "The Lombo" were held at Shepparton on Tuesday January 8, two for each sex over 1690 metres.

Hopetoun Park (Bacchus Marsh) trainer Ross Sugars has 9-Y-0 Artsplace/Nyanjee gelding Veranjee airborne at present, chalking up three wins in succession including the second of two feature harness racing country cups, by taking out the $30,000 (Group 3) Stawell Florist Lillies & Lattes Restaurant Pacing Cup for M0 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2590 metres at Stawell on Sunday November 2.

Melton based reinsman John Caldow was responsible for the "drive of the night" aboard Red River Hanover/Radiant Rhythm gelding Radiant River in the Brett Collins Refrigeration 3-Y-0 Pace over 1690 metres at the Wangaratta Harness Racing Club fixture held at Shepparton on Tuesday August 14.

Popular Elmore harness racing trainer Frank Barac knocked quaddie punters for a six after winning the final leg - the Jack Hunter Memorial Pace for C4 to C6 class over 2160 metres at Frank Ryan Raceway Echuca on Tuesday May 15 with $26.10 chance Madam Altissimo who turned in a best ever performance.

Further heats of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series were held at Bray Raceway Ballarat on Saturday May 5, this time for harness racing Four Year Old Trotters and Four Year Old Entires & Geldings of the pacing variety, all over 2200 metres.

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