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Press mentions of John Meade can now preface the respected Cudgee horseman’s name with “Group 1 winning harness racing trainer”. His homebred four-year-old gelding Sparkling Success, a son of Great Success out of Diamond Insitu, produced a last-stride dive tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton to edge out Jodi Quinlan’s Illawong Armstrong in the Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series four-year-old trotting entires and geldings final. Driven by Gavin Lang, who is certainly no stranger to top-level glory, Sparkling Success angled behind Illawong Armstrong from barrier two after the polemarker led early. Lang was full of praise for Meade. “I take my hat off to John and his family,” he said. “They don’t train a great number of horses and this guy and the guy he’s got in the next race (Diamond Wes) are the first two foals of the dam, so for a guy that only trains a few horses it’s a great effort on his behalf.” Illawong Armstrong travelled along boldly in the lead, covering the lead time in 45.9secs the first half of the final mile in 62.3secs and his third quarter in 29.5secs. At the home corner Illawong Armstrong pinched what looked a winning break on Sparkling Success, but the south-western squaregaiter found another gear and produced a winning lunge right on the wire to score by a nostril after a 29.3secs final quarter – the mile rate 2mins flat. RE-LIVE SPARKLING SUCCESS WINNING VICBRED GLORY “My bloke had to dig deep to get over (Illawong Armstrong),” Lang said. Meade was absolutely stoked. “It’s just a thrill. This win will mean something for us … it will do something for us. I’ll wake up in the morning and I won’t be tired.” Kyvalley Boomerang (Anthony Butt) ran on well for third, beaten 19.7m, with Save Our Pennys fourth and Bring The Action fifth.  Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Illawong Armstrong produced an extraordinary run in last year’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old final for harness racing trotting colts and geldings. Twelve months have passed since the son of Dream Vacation/Figment blew the start and was tailed off in the Vicbred final before making enormous ground late to finish third, and trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan has the gelding absolutely flying. Illawong Armstrong, a member of owner Dr Martin Hartnett’s ‘Illawong squad’, romped home in his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series heat at Maryborough yesterday, defeating runner-up Belts by 23.5m in a mile rate of 2:04.5. And the news only got better for the Illawong team tonight with Armstrong drawing the pole for next Friday night’s Final. He has to be hard to beat from there. In driving rain yesterday Illawong Armstrong looked every bit the professional, Quinlan going easy on the prodigious talent who, but for his poor manners last season, arguably could already boast two Group 1 wins – producing two of the biggest runs you’ll ever see in defeat in the Vicbred and Breeders Crown finals. “He had a good run. His manners were really good,” Quinlan said of his most recent outing. “He got a lovely, easy trip out front and I expect him to do that, he is an above-average horse. “He’s probably the best horse I have put a bridle on. Unfortunately it hasn’t been an ideal preparation because he got really sick, but we have made the most of the time we have had.” Quinlan said Illawong Armstrong’s Maryborough win will have him peaked fitness-wise for next Friday night’s Group 1 final. “He really needed the (heat) run,” she said. “He’s not really a natural leader, and has an exceptional sprint, but if he draws to run at the front then he can do that.” John Meade-trained Sparkling Success won the other Vicbred four-year-old trotting males’ heat, defeating fast-finishing Kyvalley Boomerang by a short half-head. Sparkling Success (Great Success/Diamond Insitu) has drawn right alongside the expected favourite in gate two. Driven by Gavin Lang, Sparkling Success enjoyed the perfect run behind leader Eljaykay Phoenix and got the better of that horse when it galloped halfway up the straight. Kyvalley Boomerang flashed home late, while Save Our Pennys picked up third from last year’s Vicbred two-year-old reigning champion Eljaykay Phoenix.   Draw for Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires/Geldings Final 1: Illawong Armstrong 2: Sparkling Success 3: Wake Up Wilbur 4: Eljaykay Phoenix 5: Akotiri 6: Save Our Pennys 7: Kyvalley Boomerang 8: Well Deserved 9: The Third Son 10: Spud 11: Belts 12: Bring The Action (ODM) 13: Fabrication (ODM) EM Cody Winnell

Queensland trotting filly Illdoitwhenimready has headed south. The Chantal Turpin trained three-year-old left for Sydney yesterday (Tuesday) in preparation for a raft of harness racing features over the coming weeks culminating in the Gr.1 $40,000 NSW Trotters Oaks at TABCORP Park, Menangle on May 21. Her campaign starts next week where she will contest the $10,000 Trotters Flying Mile at Menangle. And she heads south in-form following her excellent first-up victory at Albion Park on March 29 defeating older rivals in a time of 2:02.8 for 2138m. “The victory proved she deserved her chance with this campaign in Sydney so we decided to give it a shot, she’ll be based with Pete’s sister Narissa who trains on the track. Obviously, it’s going to be much harder but she’s only a three-year-old once and I think the benefits of this trip away will help her long term.” Turpin said. The Great Success – Countess Jolie filly has always shown natural ability and has built up an impressive record of two wins and two minor placings from just five career starts to date. With limited options in her home state, connections were faced with two options and decided to press on with the current campaign. “It was either send her back to the paddock or continue and give Sydney a go and we thought the racing campaign would be more beneficial. She won’t be overly raced during this stint in Sydney but we thought the time away would switch her on more mentally. “There’s not much of this filly as she’s lightly framed but she continues to develop and strengthen with each campaign. I know Pete (McMullen – driver) was really impressed with her effort last week and the time was her best to date as well. “The opposition will be very strong not only locally but I’m sure the Victorians and maybe even some Kiwi trotters might head to Sydney for some of these features coming up but the opportunity was there and we’re giving it a shot. I think racing and even training on the bigger track will be a great thing for her also.” Illdoitwhenimready was bred by Turpin and McMullen but is raced by Turpin’s brother Jake, a contracted NRL player with the Melbourne Storm. Jake is currently ruled out owing to a broken thumb sustained in an under-20’s game against the Cronulla Sharks two weeks ago. by Chris Barsby

Exciting Queensland harness racing three-year-old Mattgregor has been temporarily grounded. The New Zealand bred flying machine was expected to make his maiden interstate sojourn this weekend in the G.3 $31,800 TABCORP Simpson Memorial at Menangle this Saturday night. But a slight mishap has forced a change of plans. Prepared by young couple of Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, Mattgregor has created a strong impression winning three of his four starts to date. All three victories have been recorded in sub 1:54 at Albion Park. “He’s a colt and he’s very well within himself at the moment and he just got a little too excited the other day and caused a bit of mischief. It’s nothing too serious but enough for us to shelve his immediate plans.” McMullen said. The Sydney campaign has been earmarked for some time and everything was in check following his brilliant victory on December 22 in a career best time of 1:53.4. Connections were hoping the Simpson Memorial start would give them a clearer indication of what the season could provide following the stunning start to his career. “The Sydney trip will still take place but just not now obviously; all going well I think a shot at the NSW Derby is the long range ran plan but we’re realistic and ultimately we’ll let him tell us if he’s up to it or not. The current depth of three-year-olds is outstanding but at this point, he deserves an opportunity. “It’s unfortunate with what took place with him because we’ve been looking at this race for some time, we knew it would provide a perfect opportunity to see where he ranked with some of the other promising three-year-olds that will chase Derby classics this season. “We’re hoping this might be a little blessing in disguise and the time will only make him a little stronger and smarter, the speed is there and hopefully we can work on other areas of his game. He’s a nice horse in the making that will provide plenty of fun for his owners.” On a brighter note for the stable, a Sydney trip looks certain at some point this season because they have high hopes for their three-year-old trotting filly Illdoitwhenimready. The Great Success filly has shaped well in two starts to date including her last start victory at Albion Park on October 16. “The NSW Oaks is scheduled for May and we think she can measure up because we think a bit of her. We liked her from the start and she’s doing a very good job, her best asset is her speed and hopefully she will become a little stronger in time.” Illdoitwhenimready starts tomorrow (Tuesday) at Albion Park. by Chris Barsby Fields for Albion Park, Tuesday 05 January 2016 Form guide for Albion Park, Tuesday 05 January 2016

Services to former New Zealand champion Changeover and trotting sire Great Success will go up for auction to aid victims of this week’s horrific bushfires in South Australia. The special fundraising effort is being co-ordinated by the SA Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association. Nevele R Stud has donated a service to Changeover, while well known breeder-owner Michael Taylor has donated a service to Great Success, who stands at Niota Bloodstock, near Shepparton. Bids for both stallions can be lodged with Botra vice-president Lois Randall on email or phone 0402 978 424. A client of has opened the bidding at $2500 for Changeover. Donations of non-perishable goods for fire victims and their livestock can be delivered to the Botra Room at Globe Derby Park between 10am and 2pm on Saturday and Sunday and for the first three races on Saturday night.   Gary Newton   SA BOTRA Magazine Editor & SA  

The recognition of the importance of the trotting sector to the overall health of the breeding and racing history by successive Harness Racing Victoria administrations paid a handsome dividend last breeding season. Five years ago there were 550 trotting mares bred from in Australia compared to 734 bred from in New Zealand, however, there has been a dramatic turnaround created by an increase in racing opportunities and split gender age classics in Victoria. Figures compiled from last season reveal that the numbers of trotting mares bred from in New Zealand had dropped 20.8% from 2009 to 581, while in Australia the situation was a mirror image with an increase of 11.8% to 615. Remarkably the percentage of trotting mares bred from in Australia in 1999/2000 represented just 4.8% (454 of 9,413) of the total mares bred from, however, the comparative figure for 2013/14 was 10.1% (603 out of a total 5,975). The figure for 2014/15 is expected to be marginally higher again. Headlining the numbers were Majestic Son USA with 97 mares, Yankee Spider with 56, Bacardi Lindy USA (43), Angus Hall USA (36), Great Success USA (28), Imperial Count USA (27), Fling It USA (25), Ready Cash (FRA) (23), Muscle Hill USA (23), Andover Hall USA (22), Victoria Trotters Derby winner Danny Bouchea (21) and La Coocaracha’s son Louey Louey Louey (20). A fascinating survey of the comparative numbers of mares served by stallions based in Australia, New Zealand, North America is illuminating, especially when looking at the situation in 1999/2000. Australian based stallions served 356 mares in the 2014/15 season (383 in 1999/2000), New Zealand based stallions served 10 mares in 2014/15 (8 in 1999/2000), North American based stallions 216 mares in 2014/15 (26 in 1999/2000) and finally European based stallions 33 mares in 2014/15 (16 in 2014/15). I think they call that internationalization. The news just keeps getting too as there is an impending announcement of the importation of a 1:53 2/5s winning son of 2007 USA Harness Horse of the Year and Hambletonian winner Donato Hanover.  Furthermore, after decades of spurning the trotter Alabar Farms will be offering the frozen semen of not only Majestic Son but also the Danish Derby winner Peak who distinguished himself by also winning the Group One NZ Trotters FFA at Addington (NZ). Peak is by French stallion Ganymede, the sire of 45 Classic winners in Europe as well the Vicbred Super Sires 4YO champion Vincennes, who won the Wagon Apollo FFA at Tabcorp Park (Melton) at his last racetrack appearance. And to think that 55 years ago there was not a single North American trotting stallion in Australia and the numbers of trotting foals being bred was less than one hundred. Thank heavens for the visionary Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Famer Chris Howe who stood Bank Note, the first American trotting stallion imported direct to Australia post WW2 in 1961, and later Mt Everest. Chris was a tireless evangelist for the trotter, however, his efforts would have counted for little had it not been for administrators such as Graeme Cochran who insisted that the Victoria Sires Stake feature three age trotting classics and furthermore under his watch the Inter Dominion Trotters Championship came to Victoria for the first time and the Victoria Trotters Oaks was inaugurated. Next Friday night at Tabcorp Park there will be a ten race all trotting programme headlined by six Group One Vicbred Super Sires Finals, a stunning endorsement of the vision of administrators who supported the never say die efforts of countless trotting breeders and enthusiasts. John Peck

Two of the best bred trotters in Australasian harness racing registered impressive wins at Bendigo last night. Gus An Maori scored for talented young horseman Caleb Lewis, while Alex The Great was triumphant for astute trainer Peter Hornsby. In what shapes as sensational news for ‘purists’, the two are set to clash at Melton next week. After dominating the Home Grown Classic heats, the duo will head towards the $50,000 Final on December 20. Driven by Matthew Craven, Gus An Maori enjoyed the perfect one-one trail before accounting for the well-bred Aimforthemoon and Bad Boy Leroy. Covering the last half in 60 seconds, the three-year-old rated 2:00.9 for the 1650 metres, taking his record to two wins from three starts. By Angus Hall, the colt is from Inter Dominion winning mare, Sumthingaboutmaori. A member of the all-conquering ‘Maori’ clan, Sumthingaboutmaori was also successful in the Group Ones Grand Prix and South Australia Trotters’ Cup. Also by Angus Hall, Aimforthemoon is from Group One winning youngster, Right Interest. Alex The Great then captured the following qualifier by rating 2:03.8 with Stacey Towers in the sulky. After racing in the ‘death seat’, the gelding proved too strong for Lively Laughter and Well Deserved. By Great Success, Alex The Great is from arguably the best trotting filly produced on this side of the equator – Zesta. Also bred and owned by Hornsby, Zesta won 13 of her 17 starts, with three placings also to her credit. Unbeaten from nine starts as a three-year-old, Zesta captured the Breeders’ Crown and Victoria Trotters’ Derby against the ‘boys as well as the Victoria Trotters’ Oaks, where the beaten brigade included Sumthingaboutmaori. While Sumthingaboutmaori went on to win the Inter Dominion two years later, sadly Zesta’s career was cut short. Zesta had three starts as a four-year-old – all wins – before being retired as a result of a hole in her superficial flexor tendon. PAUL COURTS

Consistent harness racing pacer Clamorous will head to the spelling paddock this week on the back of his sixth win for the season. Clamorous produced the goods to outgun his rivals over 2200 metres in the Tenirama Pace at The Tote Racing Centre in Launceston last Sunday night. The four-year-old gelding was having his 17th start for the season with this latest win is third from his past four starts. Clamorous enjoyed the run of the race in the one-out line and when Hodges called n him for the big effort turning for home he rounded up the leaders and went on to score comfortably from Melolyn and Divas Delight. The gelding's trainer-driver Grant Hodges described the gelded son of JR Mint as "one of the most consistent horses in his stable". "This horse has done a wonderful job for his owners this time in but he deserves a spell so he'll be off to the paddock after this win," Hodges said. "He's missed a cheque once in 17 starts this time in and that speaks volumes for the horse's ability." "I believe he still has improvement in him and hopefully that will eventuate next prep," he said. The gelding has impressive career stats of 20 starts for eight wins and nine minor lacings for almost $47,000 in stakes. Clamorous is owned and raced by the Arthur Wilson Memorial syndicate that have had Great Success in the past decade with Insobriety one of their best that started 67 times for 18 wins and 22 minor placings and finished his racing career in Queensland. Peter Staples

Great Success (Tr 1:51.4TT), the fastest trotter ever to be imported to the southern hemisphere and now a highly regarded sire, is to stand in Victoria this season after being based in New Zealand for the last four seasons. He will stand at Niota Bloodstock, Girgarre, near Shepparton, of Ken and Jan Wills, for a fee of $1600 including GST. Great Success has been bought by Michael Taylor, a prominent NSW square-gaiting breeder-owner and sponsor, and Ararat horseman Gary Hull. The brilliant, young stallion - he was foaled in 2004 - is already well on the way to proving a success with his first small crops racing. And, with his biggest crops still to represent him, Great Success is poised to make an impact in the trotting field into the future. In his first season Great Success left 71 foals, and of these he had 29 to the races half-way through their four-year-old season, and 13 were winners, six were placed and a further seven qualified. From his first crop he sired a top colt in Roy Hobbs (Tr 2:00.2), who has won four of his 12 starts and was one of the star three-year-olds of his season, and others in Jeter Tr 2:02.9 (3 wins this term) , Senitas Success Tr 2:03.5 (6 wins) and Buff Orpington. While, his second crop now racing as three-year-olds, has already produced nine winners including Trouble Rieu, a heat winner and runner-up in the final of the NZ 2YO Trotting Championship, One Two Kenny (2 wins from 4 NZ starts), Boundary Row, a dual SA classic-winning two-year-old, and the Vicbred Final and Tatlow placegetter Edge Hill. Great Success competed with real distinction against the best trotters in commission. As a two-year-old he won in 1:56.2, winning a division of the Review Stake at Springfield, while he also captured divisions of the John Simpson Memorial and Hayes Stake and finished runner-up in the Bluegrass Stake and International Stallion Stake. The highlight of his career came as a three-year-old winning an elimination and Final of the $220,000 Matron Stake at Dover Downs in 1:55.4. He took his record of 1:51.4 at three years in a time trial at Lexington, trotting his last half in a blazing 55 seconds. Great Success had only 32 starts, winning six times with 10 placings and running up a stake score of $400,341 - an excellent total in a brief career. Great Success is the first son of Hambletonian winner Self Possessed (Tr 1:51.6) to do stud duty in the southern hemisphere. Self Possessed hit the siring headlines when he left the mighty Cantab Hall (Tr 1:54), who in turn has sired the world record holders Father Patrick (Tr 1:50.4) and Uncle Peter (Tr 1:50.6). Great Success, on his dam's side has a pedigree to match that of his sire line. He is out of Victory Please, the dam also of the Stakes winning Pleasing Lady (Tr 1:56) and Azur (Tr 1:54.6), being by Mr Vic (Tr 1:54.4) from Caviar Please, by Royal Prestige (Tr 1:55.2), a former USA Trotter of the Year. He boasts a 3x3 cross to Valley Victory (sire of Muscles Yankee) and carries multiple strains of the blood of influential sires Speedy Crown and Star's Pride. His pedigree also contains three doses of the blood of noted speed influence Speedy Somolli. Great Success is a young stallion with the bloodlines, racing performance and conformation to commend him to the most discriminating breeder. He should add interest to the ranks of Victorian trotting sires. by Peter Wharton

Two of the stallions that appeared on the Alabar Stallion Roster in 2013 will be heading for new farms in the upcoming breeding season. Firstly Major In Art, the 2008 USTA Two Year Old of the Year will be heading north of the border to Darren Reay’s Medowie Lodge on the outskirts of Newcastle. The handsome son of Art Major is not far outside the Top Ten on the Australian Three Year Old Sires List in this current season. He has sired 21 winners of over $310,000 to date including the smart Queensland pacer Major Sam 1:54.7 and the Bathurst based pacers Smack Dab Shannon 2:00.1 and Lagoon Stride 1:59.8. The Two Year Old colt Artillery Major was a fast finishing second in $102,000 Pearl Classic Final at Gloucester Park in mid June. Medowie Lodge is based in the strong Harness Racing area surrounding Newcastle and Major In Art should be a welcome boost for breeders in that area and indeed for breeders throughout NSW. Darren Reay can be contacted by phoning 0429 817 199. The trotting stallion Great Success is the other lad on the move. He will be taking a trip across the Tasman to take up residence at Ken and Jan Wills’ property of Niota Bloodstock at Girgarre (near Shepparton) in Victoria. The now ten year old stallion sired the exciting, but injury plagued gelding, Roy Hobbs tr 2:00.2 in his first crop and has since sired the recent multiple winners Boundary Row, Jeter and Senitas Success. Ken and Jan Wills can be contacted on (03) 5854 6572. Finally an update on Safari, the powerful son of Fake Left. He will be heading back to Alabar’s Echuca property next month to join the other seven stallions that are based at the northern Victoria property. July has been a good month for the progeny of Safari and in particular three fillies. Berisari had only the smallest of noses that separated her from a victory in the $110,000 Vicbred Final for three year old fillies, whilst on the same night Viva Safari finished runner up in the two year old Vicbred Final for fillies to take her seasons earnings past $50,000. Meanwhile in Queensland, the three year old filly Beef City Safari finished second and then a fast closing third to star filly Nike Franco in the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks respectively. Safari’s service fee will be unchanged from that of last season - $1,650 (incl GST). Alabar Stud

Two of the most impressive trialists seen at Alexandra Park during the winter months are set to make their much awaited debuts on Friday night. So if you don’t like backing first starters, I suggest you turn the page now. The first of them is Al Bundy, who is likely to start a warm favourite in the second event on the card, the maiden trot. Trained by Andrew Grant at Pukekohe, the four-year son of Great Success has been sublime in all three of his public appearances and while I generally don’t like to tip out maiden trotters. This fella, touch wood, hasn’t looked like putting a foot wrong in any of them. In his first public appearance he won a sedate workout by two lenghts, before coming back the next week and winning a workout by 15 lenghts. He then obliterated his opponents in his qualifying trial by some 22 lenghts and trotted four seconds under the required time. A half-brother to the well-performed Double Bundy, who has won 14 races and trotted a mile in 1-54.6 at Menangle, Al Bundy, looks to have inherited  all of his brother’s ability. Already dubbed an up and coming trotting star by one North Island scribe, Al Bundy looks set to make a winning debut on Friday. As does Crocket’s Cullen, the other star trialist set to debut on Friday. “He is a nice two-year-old who I think has the potential to develop into a top-liner,” said his trainer Brent Mangos. Crocket’s Cullen, who is full-brother to Band On The Run, was victorious in his first three public appearances back in February and early March.  He was then spelled before returning to the workouts on the 14th of June. “He was coming into strongly and then galloped in that workout, but it actually wasn’t his fault as he was hitting the wheels,” explained Mangos. Mangos then resolved that issue before taking him back to the trials the week later where he was once again very impressive, winning by three lenghts in a 2:02 mile rate. The strong son of Christian Cullen has drawn the pole in the eighth race on Friday and baring bad luck, and plenty of it, he should be winning. “I’ll just see how he feels behind the gate, but he doesn’t have to hold up to win,” said Mangos. “It’s a small field so even if he gets crossed from the gate I should be able to get him back out and around them,” he added. “Either way I expect him to be very hard to beat.” Crocket’s Cullen is Australasian Breeders Crown eligible but Mangos thinks the rich series comes just a few months to soon for the exciting colt. “We will know more after Friday but he is still pretty green and I think he lacks the ring-craft to go to Australia for a series like the Breeders Crown,” said Mangos. “He may compete in the heat at Cambridge next week but I don’t think we will take him over to Australia for the Final. He is going to be a much better horse next season,” he enthused. Meanwhile, reformed rogue trotting mares Sunchita and Idle Bones look set to battle out the feature trot with in form gelding Sunshield. All three of the trotters look set for open class. However, a few months ago I wouldn’t have given any of them a chance of making it to the elite level. Idle Bones was victorious in her debut at Ashburton before bad manners led to a sixteen race losing streak, while Sunchita had, up until a few weeks ago, thrown away more races than she had won. But a few weeks is a long time in harness racing and a few changes to Sunchita’s gear and shoeing and opportunities for Idle Bones to race from behind a mobile have led to both mares winning their past three starts. Sunshield has also won his past three starts, but on Friday only one of the three will retain their picket-line fence form line. Which one will it be you ask? My money is on Idle Bones. She, like Sunchita, was fantastic in her North Island debut and has the advantage  of the mobile, which will probably suit her more than it will Sunchita, who is generally a fast beginner from a stand. She has also come up with the ace alley and should be able to lead and roll along in front, like she did at Addington two starts back when winning by 15 lengths in a two-minute mile rate. If she can replicate that performance, she should win again. Idle Bones is one of two horses South Island trainer Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis has racing on Friday. The other is Ellmer Hanover, who drops back from racing in last week’s Winter Cup to a much more suitable C2-5 mobile pace. He wouldn’t be without a chance and is worth specking at odds in an interesting race with sees smart two-year-old Mighty Flying Major and Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel clash with country cup type pacers such as Ellmer Hanover, Who Dares Wins, and Chief Thundercloud, who caught my eye when flying home for fourth in the Winter Cup and is my top pick in the race. That race is the first leg of the Quaddie and I suggest that you go wide and take Zeta Bromac, Mighty Flying Major, Royal Counsel, and Ellmer Hanover as I am confident that you can get away with anchoring Crocket’s Cullen in the second leg. It may also pay to go wide in the third leg before thinning things down again in the last. By Mitchell Robertson

Charlottetown, PE - Van Zant has drawn the rail in the Saturday night feature event at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park while newcomer Sa Summers Luck is the morning line favorite in the Victoria Day pace for opening day card Monday at Red Shores Summerside to set the stage for a busy weekend of harness racing at Island tracks. First race post time on Saturday is 6pm while the Monday card is slated for a 1pm post time. Ron Matheson will drive Van Zant for his co-owner Tom Clark of Charlottetown and goes into the program with 989 career wins as a driver only 11 away from milestone 1,000. The team, which includes son Jackie as trainer, has been sharp posting two seconds and a victory over his last three starts. The Matheson stable will also send out General Luckypercy from post 6 with Gilles Barrieau in the bike. There will be stiff competition from Tempo Seelster (Vince Poulton) from post 3 while Sterling Seelster, who's riding a two race winning streak, will also make his presence felt for driver Marc Campbell and new owner Marie Cameron of Summerside. The all-star line-up also includes Blue Star Outlaw, Nobestbfor and Machinthesand. In other action, Abundaspin is making headlines in his last year of racing as the trotter hasn't tasted defeat since he returned to the track on April 26. Harold Shepherd will handle the 14 year-old lifetime winner of $471,504 in the open trot class. The other morning line favorites include newcomer Kan Wire, who arrives from London Ontario, and Caliban Hanover will attempt to spoil the party for Abundaspin and owner Mikeala Lustic of Cornwall. The Saturday card will begin with a first race post time at 6pm. For race programs, top picks and live broadcast go to Horses are back at Summerside Summerside, PE - The horses are back at Summerside! The new season gets underway Monday afternoon at Red Shores Summerside with an exciting 12 dash program. Post time is 1pm and the card will official launch the countdown to the Governor's Plate. The 11th race Victoria Day pace will headline the program with newcomer Sa Summers Luck being established as the morning line favorite for driver Corey MacPherson and the Bing Easter stable from O'Leary. The pacer was in action at Flamboro Downs in Ontario then made three starts at Truro which included a second place finish in a sparking 1:57.2. The Jason Hughes stable has two starters in the race with Bunny Mach (pp1) and Cambest Kisser (pp7) both capable of hitting the triactor ticket. The field has top guns like Paphos, Bet the House, Carnivore, Windemere Eric and Lucky Encounter. What a great match-up to kick off the 2014 season. Darren and Jennifer Trainor of Vernon River, who walked away with a truckload of trophies at the annual Prince County Horsemen's Club awards night recently, are favored to win the back-up class on the afternoon with Panda Bear in race 10. Marc Campbell gets the driving assignment from the husband and wife team who enjoyed Great Success at Summerside oval in 2013. Race analyst Jared Stretch is back with his top picks for the 2014 season and put Capitalism as his top choice in this class followed by Panda Bear and Onhotvet (4-3-5). For race programs, Jared's top picks and live broadcast go to you can also follow the action on twitter @red_shores. by Lee A. Drake, for Red Shores

Sweden provides an opportunity for stayers to gain valuable UET Masters Series points at Orebro on Saturday night, also doubling as the last leg of the V75. Swedish Masterskap winner On Track Piraten off a 40 metre handicap to the front runners is the class runner in the race. The altered son of French stallion Kool du Caux, is a group one winner over a staying distance having won Germany's top race last year, the Grosser Preis Von Deutschland, at Hamburg over the 2720m distance. Hans R Stromberg's gelding is also the winner of the CL Mullers Memorial over 2640m at Jagersro and the Masterskap or Swedish Championships at Aby over the same distance, both races carrying group two status. His sire Kool de Caux was second in the Prix d'Amerique (2700m) but also had a good turn of speed with victories in the Group one Copenhagen Cup (2011m) and the Prix de France (2100m) in a stellar career in which he won 1.5 million euro and took a record of 1.09.8 (1.52.2MR). "The Pirate's" major opposition will come from the likes of last year's winner New Line a Danish-bred son of King Conch who was trained in the victory by Ake Svanstedt, who of course is now resident in the United States but has transferred the horse to son Anders' stable. New Line has true staying credentials, not only winning this event last year but placing in the Harper Hanovers Lopp, the staying test on Elitloppet weekend, and the Malmo Stads Pris, another 3km marathon. Another with claims is Mellby Viking, the royally bred son of Viking Kronos, who relishes the longer distance. He has a super French pedigree, being from the family of Romee, the foundation mare for a family which includes Prix du Cornulier winner Dream With Me, Indy de Vive, the sire of Ready Cash, Italian Derby winner Daguet Rapide - another highly successful sire - Lazio du Bourg, who won the Criterium des 3 Ans, and Giesolo de Lou, who won just shy of 2 million euro to name but a few. Mellby VIking is very lightly raced, with just 22 starts for 13 wins and two placings, but 3 of the wins are at this distance, and one suspects trainer Timo Nurmos has some choice French missions ahead for the six-year-old stayer who is off the 20m handicap. Porthos Amok is also one who could figure prominently. He is a son of Orlando Vici, a French sire whose son Un Mec D'Heripre is one of the rising stars in his native land. Orlando Vici has also Great Success in Sweden, with Pato a TravKriterium and TravDerby winner while Porthos Amok, himself, was second in last year's Swedish TravDerby. Another Swedish Travderby winner Beau Mec is actually in the race. Robert Bergh's a son of Jag de Bellouet, one of the true greats of the French scene, winning 4.4million euros on the back of victories in both the Prix d'Amerique and Prix Cornulier, the top races in France in harness and under saddle, and each race of the French triple crown. Beau Mec has won twice in France but apart from his Group one Travderby success, has largely been a bit part player since that win as a 4YO. OREBRO INTERNATIONAL 03/05/14 SE Group II Int UET Masters Series 3140 all 91 000 1 Kemas Magic (h Kadabra - Gold Dust) Dr: Fredrik Persson Tr: Fredrik Persson 3140 2 Super Photogenic (g Super Photo Kosmos - Foreign Fortune) Dr: Niclas Stenqvist Tr: Bo Hellkvist 3140 3 Diamond of Ace (h Turbo Sund - Catch the Moment) Dr: Leif Witasp Tr: Leif Witasp 3140 4 Corleone Shark (g Capetown Hall - Charlatan Shark) Dr: Pekka Korpi Tr: Risto Airaksinen 3140 5 Ciske de Rat (g Castleton Bass - Keetje Tippel) Dr: Björn Goop Tr: Bas Crebas 3140 6 Bar Plombier (g Tony Oaks - Francine Bar) Dr: Torbjörn Jansson Tr: Eric Martinsson 3140 7 Jupiter Rodney (h Skogans Orlov - Judy Rodney) Dr: Palle Günther Tr: Bo Örberg 3140 8 On Hold (g Valley Victor - Kill Time) Dr: Erik Adielsson Tr: Berne Gustafsson 3160 9 Narold Vox (g Orlando Vici - Bonnie Vox) Dr: Ulf Ohlsson Tr: Krister Jakobsson 3160 10 Sem Jafet (g S J's Photo - Persilja) Dr: Peter Untersteiner Tr: Peter Untersteiner 3160 11 Mellby Viking (h Viking Kronos - Naomi de Lou) Dr: Jorma Kontio Tr: Timo Nurmos 3160 12 On Track Piraten (g Kool du Caux - Monrovia) Dr: Hans R Strömberg Tr: Hans R Strömberg 3180 13 Beau Mec (h Jag de Bellouet - Extreme Lady) Dr: Robert Bergh Tr: Robert Bergh 3180 14 New Line (g King Conch - På'en Igen Frökjär) Dr: Anders Svanstedt Tr: Anders Svanstedt 3180 15 Porthos Amok (h Orlando Vici - Baroness Amok) Dr: Örjan Kihlström Tr: Stefan Melander 3180 by David Sanders, for

Queensland horseman Steven Doherty is ready for the next chapter in his career. Today (Monday), Doherty will leave Australian shores bound for Europe where he will be based with trainer Henk Grift in Germany for the next twelve months. The 28yo will join the Dutch born trainer who prepares a huge team of trotters near Dusseldorf. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for the gifted farrier and he’s eager to make the most of his time abroad. “I’ve got to thank Darren McCall and his partner Karina for providing me with this opportunity. Karina is a good friend of world respected administrator Klaus Koch and things snowballed from there, I got my visa sorted at the German Consulate in Sydney and now we’re off and I can’t wait.” Doherty explained. Grift regularly competes at venues in France, Germany, Scandinavia and his native Holland with great success. Doherty will carry out plenty of farrier work for the Grift stable but is also hopeful of doing some race driving during his time in northern Europe. “I’m not actually sure what my role will be within the stable but I know there will be plenty of horses to be shod and that’s fine because I’m certain to learn many new techniques, it will be vastly different to what I know but I’m really looking forward to creating new styles and learning a lot more in this area. “If I can carry out some race driving during my time up there that will be an added bonus, I enjoy the trotters and it will be great to work with some very talented animals. “The timing is just right; I’m young and single with no major commitments and I’ve heard so many great stories from those who have travelled previously. I’m going with an open mind and I’m really looking forward to it although the language barrier may take some sorting but that’s all part of the adventure.” Doherty is the son of Peter, a respected horseman along with his grandfather Jim Madden while his Uncle Craig McKinnis, is a highly decorated Victorian based farrier. In 2006, Doherty represented Queensland in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship staged in both Victoria and Tasmania. Doherty drove his first winner at age 16 when successful aboard the Ann Perrin trained Karamea Rosalie at Rocklea. Former Redwood Classic winner Bonbillie Fella is rated as the best trotter that Doherty has set behind, winning three of his four drives behind the Fake Left entire. By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

Smart three-year-old trotter Trouble Rieu is the latest to emerge on to the scene in time for Saturday’s $30,000 Group Three Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton, which is shaping up to be a stellar field. After disappointing when fifth at Addington on January 17, the Brent White trained son of Great Success looked right back to his best at Geraldine on Saturday where he easily accounted for his 14 rivals after looping the field to sit parked. “Brent (White) has had a few minor issues with him, but he seems right back on top of his game now,” said driver Stephen McNally. “At his best he is definitely capable of matching it with the best of them,” warned McNally. “He proved that last season and I always thought he would be better at three,” he added. Trainer Brent White was quick to agree. “He is a lovely horse, who has derby type written all over him,” said White. “He generally has good manners too, which could be a big assist in a race like the Hambletonian.” Others who will more than likely compete in Saturday’s trotting feature include Thebestlove and Majestic Time, who were both super impressive when winning at Rangiora last Tuesday. In fact, Thebestlove set a new 2000 metre New Zealand record for three-year-trotters when downing Lothario, who will also stake a claim on Saturday. “And of course One Over Da Moon will be there, and we all saw how good he was last season,” added White. Meanwhile, Thorn In My Side, who was the winner of the ninth race on the Geraldine card has been retired on a winning note in foal to super sire Bettor’s Delight. “She is actually a really nice mare, but she has been plagued with soreness issues and bad luck her whole career,” said trainer Peter Robertson. “She is by Falcon Seelster from a sister to multiple Group One winner Lanercost, so she should make a lovely broodmare,” he added. In other news from Geraldine, junior driver Nathan Purdon continued his good association with Uncle Grant Payne when guiding Little Miss Sunshine to victory at odds of $27.90. Purdon has now driven for Payne on six occasions, resulting in three wins and a placing. Little Miss Sunshine was having just her second start for Payne after being transferred from the barn of Robbie Holmes. “She was in need of the run her first start for Grant and she ended up having a tough trip, so we were actually quietly confident of a bold run today.” By Mitchell Robertson

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

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