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A popular square-gaiter double at Melton by Kerryn Manning had harness racing enthusiasts reliving memories of more than 20 years ago this week. The 42-year-old world champion horsewoman, based with her husband Grant Campbell in Victoria's Great Western region, was at her superb best in capturing a pair of Group Two scalps. Manning was successful with Aleppo Jewel (Angus Hall-Insulated (Safely Kept) in the IRT Australia Matriarch Trot for four and five-year-old trotting mares, and then with Dublin Chubb (Lawman-Pocket Fantasy (In The Pocket) in the Rewards Hospitality Tatlow Stakes for 2yo trotters. Aleppo Jewel is prepared by Manning, while her father, legendary horseman Peter, is the trainer of Dublin Chubb. Both races carried stakemoney of $30,000. Aleppo Jewel has been in great form since returning to the racetrack in March after six months off the scene, with three wins and four placings from 11 starts. Her dam Insulated won five from 23, with Kerryn Manning successful on three occasions as a driver when the mare was prepared by Andy Gath. Manning plans to target the coming rich Vicbred Super Series with Aleppo Jewel. Kerryn Manning aboard Aleppo Jewel winning the Group Two Matriach Trot (Courtesy Stuart McCormick) Meanwhile Dublin Chubb, who started at the luxury odds of 10/1, is going about his business in good style. The gelding has nice gate speed and Peter Manning has him trotting in faultless fashion, with his four wins from seven starts record that speaks for itself. It was way back in 1997 (that's not a misprint!) when a young and quietly spoken Manning took all before her with Knight Pistol (The Contender USA-Pacealong (Lopez Hanover), the trotting freak of his era. Knight Pistol shot Manning to international harness racing stardom in what was then a headline-making trip to Europe. The venture culminated in arguably Manning's greatest win when she became only the second female to drive a Group One winner in Europe, at Norway. Knight Pistol began his career in the early 1990s, winning the hearts of harness racing fans with sensational home-country victories before being tested in Europe. He wound up with 55 wins and 39 placings from 181 starts for over $600,000 in stakes. Manning left school after Year 10 to work on her father's property and drove her first winner at aged 16. At that same time, she had instant success in her own right, with the first horse she trained Allbenz (bought for $500) going on to win 24 races. In addition to her success, Manning has been a great ambassador for her sport, both on and off the track and she was earlier this year recognised by being the first woman inducted as a Caduceus Club of Victoria Living Legend. The club, named after a horse that was a superstar of the 1950s and 60s, established the awards to acknowledge those in the sport who contributed at the highest levels. Peter was inducted as a Living Legend in 2006 and the pair became the first father-and-daughter to be admitted to the club. Kerryn Manning said at the awards night that harness racing was something she always loved doing and was lucky enough to be "pretty good at it". Her performance record speaks volume of her distinguished career - more than 3800 winners in the sulky and a training career amassing over 920 victories.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It won’t be long before Mr Mojito is back in New Zealand.  That could be as soon as the Kaikoura and/or New Zealand Cups later this year.  Mr Mojito’s terrific second to the freakish Heaven Rocks at Ashburton last Saturday has simply fuelled the desire of connections to return and try to go one better.  “He ran a great race. Second just means we’ll have to come back and give it another shot,” co-trainer Grant Campbell said.  Owner Merv Butterworth more exact: “I’d like think he’ll be back in a few months time for the Kaikoura Cup. I’d love to try and do an Arden Rooney with him.”   Butterworth’s reference is to the fact Arden Rooney snared the Kaikoura/NZ Cup double in 2015. In doing so, trainer-driver Kerryn Manning became the first female to drive an NZ Cup winner.    Mr Mojito did he and connections proud when a slightly luckless, but well beaten second to the still largely untapped Heaven Rocks.  A reflective Manning pondered what might have been had she held the lead instead of handing over to former juvenile superstar Waikiki Beach in the middle stages.    “Maybe I should have kept him out and gone for the all-the-way win, but I thought he was the seasoned horse in the race and would cart me right into the sprint lane,” she said.  Instead, Waikiki Beach weakened on the home bend and held-up Mr Mojito while Heaven  Rocks zoomed away with an unassailable lead.  “I’m not saying it would changed the result, but I’m sure we would have finished closer to him,” Manning said.  That said, Manning was immensley proud of her new stable addition.   “He was second-up from a long spell, chased home a horse who likes a bit of a freak and beat the rest easily. Of course we’re thrilled,” he said.  Asked whether he could her next Arden Rooney, who won Manning a Hunter and NZ Cup, she said: “I hope so. He’s certainly a welcome addition to the stable.”  For now, Mr Mojito will return home and bolster the depth in Victoria’s free-for-all ranks.  “It’s only the start of his campaign, his second run back. He should keep getting better,” Manning said.  Adam Hamilton  

There is a Harness Jewels spotlight on Melton Friday night, but just not in the way we first thought. Gifted four-year-old Mr Mojito was slated to make his racetrack return for new trainer Kerryn Manning in the Bold David Free-For-All in preparation for a Jewels raid. But Manning convinced owner Merv Butterworth to skip this week and go straight to the 4&5YO Championship at Melton on Saturday week. “Kerryn didn’t want to risk getting a poor draw in what’s a fairly strong field and having a gut-buster first-up,” Butterworth said. “She’s adamant she can him as fit as he needs to be at home to give it a huge shake next week.” While Mr Mojito is staying at home, another of Butterworth’s best horses, Our Golden Goddess, has drawn superbly in gate two in the $30,000 Group 3 Angelique Club Cup (2240m). And that’s where the Harness Jewels factor comes into play. Initially Butterworth was against returning to NZ with Our Golden Goddess for a crack at the Jewels after his two-race Aussie raid. “I’m now keen to send her back,” he said. “You can tell everyone, providing she runs as well as expect this week and in the Queen of the Pacific the week after, she will head back for the Jewels. “All going well she will be on the same flight across as Mr Mojito.” Butterworth believes the kind draw on Friday gives Our Golden Goddess every chance to upset superstar mare The Orange Agent, who has drawn out wide on the back row (gate 12). It’s notoriously hard to win from wide back row draws in 1720m and 2240m races around Melton. “We’ve got our chance from the draw,” Butterworth said. “Her past couple runs in Auckland have been outstanding.” Grant Campbell takes the reins on Our Golden Goddess.   Adam Hamilton  

A world champion harness racing driver remains in a stable condition in Bendigo Health’s intensive care unit following an accident on the track at Charlton on Friday. Kerryn Manning was taken to hospital by ambulance with three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a severe concussion after the crash, which also injured fellow driver Aaron Dunn. Ms Manning’s husband Grant Campbell said she was in a lot of pain and would likely remain in the unit for another 24 hours. He said she would probably stay in hospital for another week, possibly over Christmas. Mr Campbell said he and his wife’s family wanted to thank everyone for the “amazing” outpouring of support received in the wake of the incident. “It’s been overwhelming,” he said. By Natalie Croxon Reprinted with permission of The Standard

Charlton’s showcase race could give a trotting family an unforgettable win with an old harness racing favourite. National Service has returned from the brink of retirement to flash home and win in his last two starts, giving his Horsham owners the confidence to steer it to Sunday’s Charlton and District Community Bank 2016 Charlton Pacing Cup. WATCH NATIONAL SERVICE FLASH HOME TO WIN AT SWAN HILL Justin Lane shares ownership of National Service with wife Jo and parents Kevin and Lesley, who have been there from the start having bred and raised the horse. It was with a heavy heart that they contemplated retirement about this time last year for the then nine-year-old after National Service tore his hind suspensory. “Being the age that he is we intended to retire him,” Justin said. “But dad said jog him up and give him one more go, because you are a long time retired.” Lane oversaw a patient recovery of jogging and resting before he returned National Service on January 16 in the Shepparton BMW Pace, where he loomed up to the leaders from three wide only to tire in the straight and finish 17m last. The fade didn’t deter the loyal owners and they returned the gelding to Grant Campbell and Kerryn Manning’s stable, where he again showed plenty of cheek. “He is a bit of a funny horse, not many at the stable at Kerryn and Grant’s get along with him all that well, he has a few quirky habits, but it’s good to see him come back.” Justin, president at Horsham Harness Racing Club, has a particularly close affinity with National Service, winner of the 2014 Hamilton Pacing Cup. Not only did he breed the horse, but he trained it to nine wins from its debut in December 2008 until December 2012 before handing the reins to Campbell and Manning to “see how they can improve him and get the best out of him”. Though age 10 and off a lengthy lay-off the best may yet be to come for the gelding out of Legacy Of Power and Muckinbar Miss given his last start performance at Swan Hill. “He’s had three runs back after 12 months off and his last two races have been very good, particularly at Swan Hill where he shouldn’t have won from where he was,” Justin said. On that occasion National Service came from five-wide and well back to mow down the leaders at Swan Hill, which featured a 27.1 final quarter. National Service’s last 400m was likely not much more than 26 seconds despite curling wide. That has boosted confidence in the camp ahead of Charlton. “He’s been good at the country cups in the past and, going on those two runs, we thought we’d give him a shot at another cup," Lane said. "The Swan Hill sectionals were scintillating. With the right run he’s as good as any other horse in the field. “It will be up to Grant, but we won’t be planning anything too silly on the day. He will drive him for a bit of luck. It’s a bit of a buzz to have a horse good enough to run in any cup.” And the family fun will continue on the race day, with National Service’s half-brother Polar Opposite, trained by Lane, to run in race three. “He’s had three wins and a place from his last five starts, so there are promising signs.” Charlton Pacing Cup Honour Roll 1982    $2,000    Brahms Lullaby (Rex Kerr) FT    2250m    SS    2:07.1     1983    $3,000    Bank Buster (Daryl Nioa) 10m    2250m    SS    2:06.2     1988    $9,000    Scamp Racer (Gavin Lang) FT    2250m    SS    2:05.3     1989    $9,000    Tuned In (Ted Demmler) FT    2250m    SS    2:05.7     1990    $6,000    Rufus Young Blood (Dick Lee) FT    2240m    MS    2:01.6     1990    $6,000    Lord Greystoke (Joe Borg) 10m    2250m    SS    2:05.0     1991    $6,000    Franco Gold NZ (Jim O'Sullivan) FT    2240m    MS    2:07.0     1992    $3,500    Imprimartar (Neil McCallum) 30m    2250m    SS    2:04.5     1993    $4,500    Our Brenray (Jim O'Sullivan) FT    2240m    MS    2:01.5     1994    $5,000    Its Nero's Fiddle NZ (Stephen Dove) 10m    2680m    SS    2:06.0     1995    $6,000    Mister McKinzie (Gavin Lang) FT    2250m    MS    2:04.3     1996    $7,000    Coco's Dream NZ (Lou Austin) 30m    2680m    SS    2:04.7     1997    $10,000    Ryans Day NZ (Ahmed Taiba) FT    2680m    MS    2:03.6     1998    $10,000    Low Bronze (Julian Jobe) FT    2645m    MS    2:05.2     1999    $10,000    Rosco Robust (Graeme Morgan) FT    2645m    MS    2:03.5     2000    $12,000    Show Of Hands (John F Ryan) FT    2625m    MS    2:04.6     2001    $8,000    Loaded Hog NZ (Andrew Vozlic) FT    2625m    MS    2:02.3     2002    $8,000    Jilliby Magic (Kerryn Manning) 10m    2650m    SS    2:02.5     2003    $15,000    The Good Guy (Grant Campbell) FT    2650m    SS    2:02.6     2004    $15,000    Sir Romulus (Matthew Craven) 10m    2650m    SS    2:03.2     2005    $15,000    Cool Chip NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    SS    2:04.0     2006    $20,000    Poppys Boy (Stuart Govers) FT    2570m    SS    2:03.2     2007    $20,000    Blakey (John Justice) FT    2570m    SS    2:02.2     2008    $20,000    Road To Rainbow (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    SS    2:02.1     2009    $20,000    Ohoka Utah NZ (Lance Justice) FT    2570m    SS    2:03.9     2010    $25,000    Just Wal (Damian Wilson) FT    2570m    SS    2:01.0     2011    $25,000    Our Hillview Gold NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    MS    2:01.5     2012    $25,000    Abettorpunt (Caleb Lewis) FT    2570m    MS    1:59.8     2013    $25,000    Uncle Wingnut NZ (Michael Bellman) FT    2570m    MS    1:59.8     2014    $25,000    Five Star Anvil NZ (Gavin Lang) FT    2570m    MS    2:00.7     2015    $25,505    Barynya (John Caldow) FT    2570m    MS    1:56.5 Michael Howard

Harness racing fans have a soft spot for Master Kiesey – and why wouldn’t you? The 13-year-old won his 19th race on Saturday at Maryborough’s non-TAB meeting, defeating Ballan Road by 3.4m in a rate of 2:08.9 over 2190m. Driven by Grant Campbell, Master Kiesey stepped superbly and led from start to finish at start number 310. “He’s been a great horse for us,” trainer Brian Kiesey said. “He’s as sound as a bell and he’s enjoying life and enjoying his races. He still gets around all the yearlings at home and gives them hell,” he quipped. Kiesey said Master Kiesey would race on next season as a 14-year-old. “We don’t knock him about. You never see him get hit with the whip. He eats well and he loves his racing,” he said. Kiesey said his philosophy was to give horses plenty of time to find their feet before taking them to the racetrack. He pointed to a trotter he is working with at the moment who has been in work for three years but is yet to race. “She’s never been to the track. When I first got her she was a lunatic. But now she’s easy to drive and she’s going to be pretty good when we get her to the racetrack.” He also mentioned Apple Beach, which he acquired from the Jayne Davies stable before turning her into a trotter. “I’ve just had to teach her to trot,” he said. “That’s what this season is all about. Next season will be about her winning races. “It took 18 months to get Apple Beach going, but now she’s leading and getting away nicely in races.” Despite her poor strike rate (one win from 50 starts), optimistic Kiesey says punters should keep following the daughter of Life Sign. “She’s the best horse I’ve had in 35 years. Next year it’ll be about her winning races.” By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Imamenace earned a reputation as a giant-killer and a giant when he won the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series three-year-old colts and geldings’ trotting final recently at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Peter Cormican-trained gelding, which stands over 17 hands high, started cricket-score odds before upstaging Spidergrace and Asdenro over 2240m. It was an amazing feat to win a Group 1 that night, as that run was only Imamenace’s second visit to the racetrack. On Sunday he will contest the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby over 2690m at Maryborough, hoping to pull off another upset at start number three. Grant Campbell replaces Imamenace’s usual driver, Greg Sugars, who has elected to drive his father’s trotter Illawong Helios. Cormican, who trains out of Arcadia, was visibly shocked and thrilled after his gelding’s last-start success. “This is the first time I’ve won a Group 1 and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said moments after the win. Speaking on Thursday, Cormican said he was sure Imamenace would not disappoint on Sunday. “We’re going to be the fourth, fifth or sixth horse picked again but we’re just happy to be in the race,” he said. “He did a super job to win that last race but geez, it’s a big ask to win this at his third start.” Asked to compare Imamenace’s trackwork this time compared to before his last-start success, Cormican said it was “on a par”. “He had a good hit-out this morning. He’ll have a bit of a break after this race because he’s not entered in the Breeders Crown. “We’re not going to rush him.” Despite the wide draw (gate seven) on Sunday, Cormican said the horse was likely to push forward early. “We’ll probably come out and have a bit of a look,” he said. “We just don’t want him on the fence.” Our Twentyten opened favourite for the Derby, which is scheduled to run at 3.18pm, with filly Claudys Princess tightening in from $3.60 into $3 early with fixed-odds betting. Imamenace eased from $12 to $15 overnight on Wednesday. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Motu Crusader confirmed his harness racing status as one of the mot consistent pacers to race in Tasmania in many years when he powered home to win he 2014 Examiner Newspaper Easter Cup over 2698 metres in Launceston last night. The Zeke Slater-trained seven-year-old not only had to overcome a back mark of 40 metres but he also travelled three-wide for the last two laps. Motu Crusader has won the past two Group 3 Tasmania Cups along with other feature races in Tasmania since finding his way into Slater's Seven Mile Beach stables. The gelding is owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth who have invested heavily in standardbreds to become two of the biggest owners in the nation. Motu Crusader ($5) settled at the rear of the field while Dylan Ford took the Keith Toulmin-trained Falco Peregrinus ($10) to the lead and that gelding set a solid pace while the well-backed favourite Call The Marshall ($3.20) enjoyed the coveted one-out-one-back position. When driver Grant Campbell opted to set Motu Crusader on a forward move 1400 metres out he flushed out Cal The Marshall that led the three-wide brigade. Falco Peregrinus kicked clear turning for home but a wall of horses made a charge for the line with only four metres separating the first eight across the line. Motu Crusader hit the line less than a neck clear of Falco Peregrinus with last year's Easter Cup winner Biggernbettermax ($22.70) a close-up third. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Motu Crusader's brilliant Easter Cup win. Peter Staples

Veteran harness racing pacer Motu Crusader captured another feature race in Tasmania when he scored a game win in the $10,000 Beautide Launceston Mile over 1680 metres last Sunday night. Motu Crusader has enjoyed a lot of success in Tasmania as he has won the past two Tasmania Cups and a bunch of other feature races over the past two years. At this most recent outing he was partnered by Victorian driver Grant Campbell who allowed the gelding to settle rearward and come with a late charge but he only just got there in the end. Motu Crusader, owned by Merv Butterworth, powered home to edge out Five Star Anvil in the shadows of the post. "We enjoyed a great run in the race but a slower than expected first half mile didn't help his cause," Campbell said. "I always thought that I was going to catch Five Star Anvil but we only just got there." "The fact that it's a long home straight certainly helped," he said. The driver was full of praise for trainer Zeke Slater who had not started the gelding since he contested the Hunter Cup in Victoria on February 1. Slater said Motu Crusader's next target will be the Easter Cup in Launceston on April 20. Peter Staples.

Situated in close proximity of Melbourne are the Macedon Ranges, an area where many harness racing trainers are domiciled.

It's been a career littered with 'what might have been's' for National Service, but as a seven-year-old gelding he may just be coming into his own according to top harness racing trainer Grant Campbell.

Fantastic racing was the order of the night at the opening meeting of Victoria's premier provincial harness racing carnival - Cup Week at Mildura on Tuesday April 9.

The newly reconstructed track at Bray Raceway Ballarat opened for business on Thursday evening, with the highlight being the $20,000 Laser Electrical Lightning Mile for M0 or better class, the victor being ever reliable 5-Y-0 Union Guy/Victoria Street mare Blucolla Tigerpie in a rate of 1-55.6.

The spotlight was on the squaregaiters at the Bendigo harness racing fixture held on Saturday March 9, with the commencement of the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Series for trotting mares over 1609 metres.

It was a huge night for the Western District at Terang on Wednesday January 30, with no less than seven of the eight harness racing winners coming from the area.

Young Tasmanian harness racing trainer Zeke Slater celebrated his biggest win when Motu Crusader careered away from his rivals to take out the $40,000 Tasmania Cup at Tattersall's Park.

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