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Chris Voak, one of the State’s most accomplished and aggressive harness racing reinsmen, has thrown down the gauntlet to New Zealand superstar and Inter Dominion champion Lazarus, declaring that he was not intimidated by Vultan Tin’s task against the sensational five-year-old in the $22,000 Princi Smallgoods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Voak is in no mood to surrender the advantage of Vultan Tin’s No. 1 barrier and he is determined to set a solid pace, leaving Mark Purdon the job of driving Lazarus in the breeze. Voak said that he had spoken to Vultan Tin’s part-owner and trainer Phil Costello before the fields were declared on Tuesday afternoon and that Costello said that the gelding had improved after his latest start (working hard without cover and winning from Motu Premier and Ohoka Punter over 2536m three Fridays ago). “Phil said that Vultan Tin had improved in leaps and bounds and that he would be leading on Friday night, and if possible, won’t be handing up to Lazarus,” Voak said. “I don’t think that Vultan Tin has been beaten when he has led. “There is no doubt that Lazarus is a great horse and should be winning, but it is not impossible for Vultan Tin to beat him. Phil is of the opinion that Lazarus can sit outside Vultan Tin and beat him, but he certainly wants me to set the pace. “Therefore, the son of Dawn Ofa New Day won’t be handing up, and this will make it a more interesting and genuine race. If Lazarus was able to get to the front from barrier two it would be likely that he would then walk and sprint home. “Phil is happy with Vultan Tin’s progress leading into the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup and he believes that he is now lengths better than he was during the Inter Dominion championship series. He says that Vultan Tin’s work has been tenfold better than what he was doing leading into the Inters.” Vultan Tin further strengthened his claims as Western Australia’s most improved pacer when he started at 85/1 and raced three back on the pegs in sixth position before finishing strongly to be fourth behind Lazarus in the Inter Dominion final. “The final wasn’t really run to suit Vultan Tin,” Voak said. “He needs the pace on and would have been better suited if the pace was faster. “He then sat in the breeze at his next start and won at a 1.56.1 rate over 2536m. In front this week, I’d expect him to go 1.55.5. I think it would hurt Vultan Tin’s chances more if he handed up the lead and Lazarus slowed the pace. “I’m not sure whether Vultan Tin can produce a miracle, but when Lazarus came to WA I guess everybody over east expected him to destroy our horses. However, Lazarus was beaten in his first two Inters heats (finishing seconds to Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara). He had tough runs, but was still beaten. It’s a lot tougher in the breeze and this week he will be having his first run for four weeks.” Voak was nominated to drive Vultan Tin, Devendra, Jambiani and Costa Del Magnifico in Friday night’s 2536m event and he boiled his choice down to Vultan Tin and Devendra before opting for Vultan Tin. “The barrier draw strengthened my decision, with Vultan Tin drawing No. 1 and Devendra No. 6,” he said. Voak handled Devendra for the first time when the Tasmanian eight-year-old enjoyed a perfect trail behind the pacemaker Tricky Styx before finishing fast to win from A Piccadilly Princess and Our Jimmy Johnstone over 2130m last Friday night. “Devendra is a very nice horse and I expect him to perform well this week,” Voak said. “Lazarus most probably will win and I think that Vultan Tin and Devendra will fill the placings.” Devendra will be driven by Nathan Turvey, Stuart McDonald will handle Jambiani and Shannon Suvaljko has been engaged for Costa Del Magnifico. Ken Casellas

When you’ve got a horse that’s 45 starts deep into its harness racing career and still eligible for C1 races, it’s fair to say the lofty heights that connections often set for their pacer as a yearling have mostly been vanquished. But Rule Of Thumb may well be the exception that, pardon the pun, proves the rule. He’d won five starts in his life by this stage and had just returned from a 10-month layoff for three or four relatively solid, but less than spectacular, efforts. Despite that, his trainer Tim Bolitho was always pretty confident the son of Dawn Ofa New Day was going to turn the corner. “He was always a talented younger horse, he was probably one of the ones that wasn’t quite there as a two-year-old or even at three but he made some big races and was learning all the same,” Bolitho said. “He wasn’t the best going horse but I knew the ability was there. Phil (Nott, owner) is pretty easy going so he was happy for us to take our time with him. “There were never had any serious problems, he just had a little issue where he clipped the bony part of his knee and when he had boots on it would just rub. There’d end up being a fair bit of blood so I consulted a few vets and we decided to turn him out.” It may have cost Rule Of Thumb seven months in the paddock and almost a year away from the track but after a few runs to build fitness, the now six-year-old has gone on somewhat of a rampage. Having won seven from his last 11, he has raced through his grades to now tackle an M0 heat and final series kicking off at Cranbourne Saturday night. “We’ve been able to drive him more positively. There’s been no real need to run him off the gate but he’s been able to park and he’s pretty strong,” Bolitho said. “It’s interesting to compare him to a few others we’ve had, Albert Jaccka was pretty strong but lacked a little bit of high speed and Arber had really high speed but this guy is probably a little bit more rounded in terms of having both attributes.” With the lure of a shot at Country Cup’s somewhere in his future, he’s likely to continue his career in Victoria for some time with the promise of more to come. Bolitho will also send Morvah around at the same meeting. Still on his way up, he may be one to watch in the coming months. “There’s probably not a lot between him and Rule Of Thumb in terms of their speed,” he said. “Things just haven’t worked out at his past couple but I’ve made a few gear changes and hopefully we’ll see him back to his best on the weekend.” Blake Redden

Pinjarra breeder-owner-trainer Rob MacDonald is on a roll and he should continue his wonderful winning streak at Gloucester Park on Friday night with his improving harness racing five-year-old Argyle Red looming large as the winner of the $20,000 TABradio Pace, particularly after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. Star reinsman Morgan Woodley, riding on the crest of a wave, is confident of success, declaring: “I think he will show what he is capable of. I have not driven him in front, but I have seen him lead and win.” Woodley has built up an excellent rapport with Argyle Red, having driven him six times for three wins and a second. He drove confidently last Friday night when Argyle Red raced wide early and then in the breeze before getting to the front on the home turn and winning by a length and a half from the favourite McClinchie. Argyle Red rated 1.55.9 over 1730m. “Sitting in the breeze, doing a bit of work and running away from them late was quite encouraging,” Woodley said. “I think the distance (2130m) this week is suitable and he should prove terribly hard to beat. “I’ll be aiming to lead on Friday night, even though he can be a bit of a strange customer, who has a tendency to look around and race a little bit greenly.” Argyle Red is by American stallion Dawn of a New Day and is the first foal out of Dekker Diamond, a mare owned and trained by MacDonald who had 109 starts for eight wins, 16 placings and $63,249 in stakes. Dekker Diamond, by crack New Zealand pacer Iraklis, the winner of the 1996 Miracle Mile at Harold Park, was driven once by Woodley for a ninth behind Fake Occasion at Gloucester Park on October 3, 2006. Argyle Red has set the pace and won four times, twice at Gloucester Park and twice at Pinjarra. MacDonald also bred, part-owns and trains Davinci Diamond, the second foal out of Dekker Diamond, who has sound prospects in the $50,000 Caduceus Club Classic on Friday night. Davinci Diamond, by Artiscape, has won at each of his past three starts, with Woodley in the sulky for the colt’s latest two wins, substituting for Aiden de Campo when he was serving a term of suspension. De Campo will resume as Davinci Diamond’s driver this week. Ken Casellas

Perthville harness racing trainer Chris Frisby is hoping to land another feature race success this weekend. The popular horseman has escaped the brutal cold weather from his base near Bathurst and made his annual pilgrimage to Queensland for his working holiday and this week’s Redcliffe Gold Cup is the target. Frisby is no stranger to success owing to the deeds of tough pacer Dinki Di, a winner of 25 races and more than $300,000 in prizemoney just over a decade ago. Dinki Di finished 4th in the Redcliffe Gold Cup behind Winning Grin, Home Of Jack and Sparkling Melody back in 2005 edition. The current stable star is Uncle Lile, a more than useful type that heads to the Gr.3 $30,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup this Saturday night. Uncle Lile heads to the 2613m standing start feature in peak form following his ‘PB’ performance last week at Albion Park last weekend. The Dawn Ofa New Day gelding rated 1:53.5 in his come from behind victory. “He’s in great shape and he’s racing very well, his winning effort last week was very good because he started from a second-line draw and then got a bit of interference at the 600m point before rounding them up. He deserves his chance in this type of race and I believe he’ll race well again.” Frisby said. Again, Uncle Lile must overcome a wide draw after landing gate 6, the outside of the front-line but the in-form pacer has been plagued by awkward draws throughout his latest campaign. And this is first official start under these conditions but Frisby isn’t worried. “He’s a sensible type with really good manners, I don’t see any issues with the stand but it would’ve been nice to draw in a little closer. If he had drawn in close, I would be really confident because I can’t fault him right now and Dean Cernovskis  (driver) is in great form too. “This horse has done a really good job throughout his career, he’s earned over $200,000 and he just seems to miss that slice of luck when it counts most. He’s either battled bad draws or bad luck in running but he keeps turning up and performing at a high level. “It would be great to win a race like this, I’ve been coming north every winter for so many years now and I love it up here. The weather is great and the racing is strong and it’s always good to be up here at this time of the year.” Uncle Lile is rated as a $14 chance with UBET. While the immediate focus is the Redcliffe Gold Cup, Frisby said future plans with Uncle Lile remain unclear but hinted a future in North America could be a possibility. “I’m just tossing around a few ideas and maybe that might be the best way to go with him because he’s sound, tough and fast. Let’s just get through this weekend first before thinking about anything else.” The Redcliffe Gold Cup is scheduled to start at 7.13pm. Chris Barsby Fields for Redcliffe, Saturday 30 July 2016 Form guide for Redcliffe, Saturday 30 July 2016

Forbes will host a Carnival Of Cups meeting on Sunday afternoon and Toby Vautin is hoping to take out the harness racing feature event. Vautin has two runners in the $12,240 Forbes Services Memorial Club Final and both were impressive winners in the heats. Vautin will drive Playful Fella (Artistic Fella) while Casey Williams will partner Early Decision (Dawn Ofa New Day) with both horses set to start off the front row. "It was great to see Playful Fella finally win a race this time in, he has been a little bit frustrating for me and funnily enough I only nominated him for the heats so Early Decision had a travelling companion," Vautin said. "Playful Fella won a number of races early in his career and I decided to give him a good long break after a run at Menangle in January last year. I thought he had the makings of a nice horse and the break might take him to the next level but he has come back and he is not the same horse." Playful Fella defeated Tuapeka Glory in a heat but Vautin has nominated the Wendy Turnbull trained runner as the hardest to beat. "I was able to beat Tuapeka Glory in the heat but it has drawn barrier one this Sunday so it is the logical horse to beat. I'll be trying to get the front early and if I can't I'll race up on the pace because that's where he likes to be. "I actually think Early Decision is the better of my two chances, I'm driving Playful Fella because he can be a bit of a handful to drive." Early Decision has been plagued by bad barrier draws recently and that trend continued this weekend with the gelding set to start from barrier six. "I think he has drawn inside gate five once in his last fourteen or fifteen starts, he is the most honest horse you could find. He tries hard every start you give him and he'll just need a little bit of luck in the early stages. "I will be instructing Casey to come out on him early and look to slot in somewhere. The owners wanted to give Casey a chance to drive him because she helps out around the stable when she can, it was definitely the right thing to do." Early Decision won his heat by more than ten metres and Vautin is confident the gelding can win more races if he can get some luck with the barrier draws. "His luck will come, hopefully he gets the luck on Sunday. If I was to run first and second this weekend I reckon it would make my day a great one." Forbes will run seven races on Sunday with the first timed to begin at 1:20pm. Greg Hayes

Northam harness racing horseman Jesse Moore, a master trainer of juvenile pacers for more than 40 years, has high hopes of winning the prestigious group 1 Pearl Classic for the third time when Aiden de Campo drives Rich Yankee in the $102,000 International Health Products Pearl Classic at Donaldson Park in Bunbury on Friday night. Rich Yankee, a winner at four of his eight starts, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line in the 2100m classic for two-year-olds, but he is versatile and capable of overcoming that disadvantage. Moore has a special affinity with Rich Yankee, having prepared the Yankee Sensation gelding's dam Rich Babe, who earned $134,415 from 14 wins and 30 placings from 95 starts. Rich Babe, like her only progeny (Rich Yankee) showed excellent promise as a two-year-old. She raced 14 times at that age for two wins and seven placings, the most notable of which was her second to the brilliant Amongst Royalty in the group 2 $70,000 Sales Classic for fillies at Gloucester Park in February 2006. Moore trained Don Athaldo for his notable victory over champion filly Mazzini Magic in the 1998 Pearl and notched his second win in the classic when 8/1 chance The Jobs On, driven by Gary Hall jun., overcame the No. 6 barrier when he raced in the breeze and took the lead 700m from home to score by four lengths from outsider Lady de Beau in 2004. Rich Yankee revealed sparkling early pace from barrier four in a qualifying heat of the Pearl at Pinjarra on Tuesday of last week when he surged to the front after 75m. He rated 1.58 over the 2185m journey and defeated Soho Wall Street by 13m, with 7m to the third placegetter Destined To Rule. The gross time for that heat was 2min. 40.2sec. Alfs Odyssey gave a strong performance to win the other qualifying heat, with a gross time of 2min. 43sec., rating 2.0.1. Alfs Odyssey, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, started from barrier six and he worked hard in the breeze before he forged to the front 300m from home and fought on doggedly to win by a head from the fast-finishing Johnny Disco. The final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.9sec. compare favourably with Rich Yankee's final sectionals of 29.5sec. and 28.2sec. Alfs Odyssey by Dawn Ofa New Day, bred and owned by Reg Smallacombe, was a 22/1 outsider for his win at his third start in a race. He will be at a much shorter quote in Friday night's final in which he has drawn perfectly at No. 1 on the front line. He and Johnny Disco (barrier two) look set to contest the early lead. The Glenn Elliott-trained Soho Wall Street will start from the No. 4 barrier. He possesses excellent gate speed and could also make a bid for the early lead. Elliott will also be represented by Soho Wolverine (Grinfromeartoear), who is handily drawn on the inside of the back line. Soho Wall Street (Four Starzzz Shark) has won once from four starts (at Narrogin three starts ago) and Soho Wolverine was a winner at Pinjarra in March, as well as being placed five times in his seven-start career. Pinjarra trainer Ross Ashby has two runners, Johnny Disco (Jeremes Jet) and Disco Under Fire by Courage Under Fire (who faces a tough task from the outside of the front line). Johnny Disco led and won over 1730m at his debut at Gloucester Park in early February, when he defeated Rich Yankee. Johnny Disco will be handled by Chris Lewis, who has won the Pearl behind Lombo Laredo (1994), Mitemptation (1995) and Argent Treasure (2007). Two runners with strong each-way prospects are Lightning Jolt (Village Jolt) and Destined To Rule (Shadow Play), who will start from the two outside positions on the back line. Lightning Jolt, trained at Byford by John Oldroyd, possesses wonderful natural pace and looks set to fight out the finish, with Clint Hall in the sulky. Lightning Jolt, a brilliant all-the-way winner at a 1.57.6 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park at his second race start (on May 15), galloped at the mobile start and lost six lengths in a qualifying heat last week. He was eighth at the bell in the field of nine before finishing strongly into fourth place behind Alfs Odyssey. Hall then drove him to a stylish runaway victory in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. The gelding burst straight to the front from barrier four and was allowed to dawdle through the first two 400m sections in 32.9sec. and 32.1sec. before he strolled over the next section in 30.2sec. and sprinted over the final quarter in 27.9sec. to win, unextended, by more than seven lengths from Questionable Gesture. Lightning Jolt is a brother of stablemate Mynameskenny, who finished a good fourth behind Beaudiene Boaz in the Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park last July. Destined To Rule, to be driven by Kim Prentice for Baskerville trainer Sonia Zucchiatti, was a most unlucky third behind Rich Yankee in a Pearl heat at Pinjarra on Tuesday of last week. After being restrained from barrier five, he raced at the rear before starting a fast move about 650m from home. But he then met severe interference and did extremely well to recover and fight on determinedly. Prentice is hoping for better luck than he encountered in the Pearl 12 months ago when he was driving the 2/1 on favourite The Odd Lover, when the off-side tyre of the colt's sulky was punctured just 100m after the start. The Odd Lover then was at a massive disadvantage when he raced outside the pacemaker (and winner) Isaiah Artois with the tube wrapped around the axel. He broke when being restrained as he was dropping back 250m from the finish. by Ken Casellas

Heartbroken when his handy youngster Bobydeane broken down, harness racing trainer Peter Romero has continued to be frustrated by his association with the pacer. Two starts after winning the Cec Berger Memorial in December 2007, Bobydeane’s career was ended by injury. Sending the mare to stud, Romero then endured the disappointment of the mare ‘slipping’, before her second foal – a filly – passed away. Fast forward three years and Romero is being rewarded for his faith and patience in the shape of Bobydeane’s third foal….Wingara. By Dawn Ofa New Day, the three-year-old has won his two starts, including yesterday’s $25,000 George Croxford Tribute at Wangaratta. Thrilled with Wingara’s progress, Romero is confident the gelding can work his way through the grades. “He is a very nice type,” Romero said. “He still has a lot to learn, but is doing so well. “I only gave him one trial, which he won, before he had his first start, so he has only been out on the track against others horses three times. “I’m sure he will keep improving as he gains experience.” Driven by Nathan Jack, Wingara led throughout to score by five-and-a-half metres from Somelovesomewhere, with Glenferrie Bronte 10 metres away third. Covering the last half in 58.4 seconds, Wingara rated 1:59.8 for the 2210 metres. “He did it quite easily and Nathan said he felt strong on the line,” Romero said. “I will give him a few more runs locally to gain experience before I freshen him up. “He is in the Vicbred Super Series and that’s the way I will head with him.” PAUL COURTS

In a matter of weeks, he has gone from a horse no one remembered, or even knew about, to one of harness racing’s brightest prospects. And come Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Leakys Smokin will take another step towards his true destination. A member of the powerful Shane Tritton stable, Leakys Smokin has had four starts for three wins – which is nothing unusual! What is out of the ordinary is the fact Leakys Smokin is a seven-year-old, which made his debut at Hamilton in January 2013 at five. Following his eye-catching fourth, the son of Dawn Ofa New Day was placed back into a paddock where he stayed for 18 months. Transferred to Tritton’s New South Wales base, Leakys Smokin has since won his three outings in stylish fashion. As such, Leakys Smokin is favoured to continue his winning streak in the $25,000 Country Series Final. “He’s got a lot to learn, but he has tremendous raw ability,” Tritton said. “I’ve never trained a horse with much more raw ability than him. “Although he is seven, he still does a lot wrong and can be wayward, but that comes down to racing experience. “The more racing he does, and the straighter he gets, the better he will be. “As far as I know he has never been injured…he has just been given plenty of time as Greg (Laird, owner) has never been in a hurry with him. “He’s certainly good enough to make up for lost time.” Drawn barrier five in the 1609-metre feature, Leakys Smokin is expected to be pushed forward by driver Lauren Panella in search of the lead. Should the pair be unable to cross quick beginner Business In Motion, which will start from gate two, Tritton is more than happy to see Panella applying pressure from the ‘death seat’. “From there he will go forward at the start and look for the front,” Tritton said. “I’m not worried if he is caught facing the breeze as I know how strong he is. “Even with his inexperience, I’ve got no doubt he is ready to run 1:53 on Saturday night.” Predicting the gelding can race his way into open class, Tritton believes Leakys Smokin is capable of a 1:50 performance. “I can’t see any reason why he won’t get to open class,” Tritton declared. “All he needs is a bit of experience. “As he gets up in class he’ll have to start going straighter as he can’t afford to do things wrong at that level, which is the main thing we are working on with him at the moment. “Once he gets it all together I reckon he can go close to 1:50.” PAUL COURTS

Australia's oldest surviving Trotting Club - Boort (established in 1891), conducted their one and only harness racing meeting for the season last Sunday featuring the Boort Pacing and Trotting Cups each to the value of $14,000.

The Nyah Harness Racing Club held a terrific meeting at the Swan Hill Racing Centre on Tuesday February 26, featuring four heats of the long standing Alabar Northern Region Championship for C1 & C2 class over 2240 metres with all winners being trained by Mildura's Shayne Cramp.

The St Arnaud Harness Racing Club hosted the fourth round heats of the Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships held at Charlton on Thursday January 10.

The KS Black & Co Carnival Of Cups heads to Parkes on Friday night with the harness racing highlight being the running of the $20,000 Gold Cup for 4 and 5 year old pacers and despite being up in grade the Chris Frisby trained Uncle Lile looks set to play a role in the finish after drawing barrier two.

Smart four year old Dawn Ofa New Day/Our Madame gelding Daylight Dan resumed with an impressive victory in the Campaspe Valley Motors Pace for C0 class over 1755 metres at the Gunbower Harness Racing Club fixture held at Echuca on Tuesday December 18.

Mount Gambier trainers Barry Finnis, David Drury and Mick Micallef enjoyed a super evening at the Ararat harness racing fixture on Tuesday December 11, winning three legs of the TAB Quaddie.

Speewa trainer Matthew Kearns a former HRV steward, was successful in taking out the Laser Electrical Lighting Showroom Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres at the Nyah harness racing fixture conducted at Swan Hill on Tuesday November 20 with 6-Y-0 Grinfromeartoear/Starorama gelding Tapper Torney.

Doreen's Craig Turnbull combined withharness racing driver Chris Alford to land the Kilmore Cup Sunday Pace for C1 class (mares) over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday October 26 with Charlotte Two, a 5-Y-0 daughter of Live Or Die and Polly's Atom, making it two from two this time in.

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