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Interstate rivals dominated harness racing’s Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold Four-Year-Old Finals at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Leading the way was exciting New South Wales pacer Expensive Ego who lived up to his favouritism to claim the entires/geldings edition. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven was steered to the front by reinsman Luke McCarthy, and that is where they stayed throughout the $210,000 feature. Expensive Ego clocked 1:52.1 and spaced his rivals by more than nine metres. “We didn’t need to break any records we just wanted to get the job done,” said McCarthy. “I was really happy with him tonight. “He is a big goofball-gangly-sort-of-fella and is just a cool horse. “He is still a stallion and is just a pleasure to drive.” Watch the replay below: Trained by Belinda McCarthy, Expensive Ego will now be aimed for $250,660 The Rising Sun at Albion Park, Queensland, on July 10. “He was one of the first horses invited for the race and the owner Jason Grice has accepted the invitation,” said McCarthy. Meanwhile, in tonight’s Australian Pacing Gold Four-Year-Old Mares’ Final, New South Wales mare Michelle Lee Mac caused an upset at starting odds of $24. The Dean and Kerry McDowell-trained daughter of Bettors Delight was driven by local reinsman Greg Sugars to secure her second Group 1 win. Michelle Lee Mac won Bathurst’s Gold Tiara Final as a two-year-old. Watch the replay below:   By Amanda Rando for Harnesslink

He was a favorite of Victorian harness racing circles for years, and now he's the idol of some possible future stars of the sport. Eight-year-old gelding Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder-Wya Wya Macray (Pacific Fella) is enjoying retirement at Larajay Farms, at Myrniong, the home of Greg Sugars and his wife Jess. A winner of 17 races and with earnings totaling $250,000 in an awesome career, Tee Cee Bee Macray, nick-named "Mason" around the stables, now has the role of nanny. "We had him next door to his baby sister and a few weanlings, then one day when we were shifting the weanlings, he carried on as if to say he wanted to be out with them," Jess said. "So we thought okay, we'll give it a try. And it's worked out absolutely perfectly because they know he's the boss. It's just terrific the way he keeps them in line. "Mason's always got a home here because he was a family favorite, particularly with my dad (the late Alan Tubbs), but this is really special. To be a babysitter, a horse has to have a unique personality and I probably don't know of too many others it would really suit." Jess said they had tossed around the idea of converting the family favorite into a riding horse. "But he suffered from a sore back towards the end and we really thought that might prevent him from going on and being suitable to ride," she said. Tee Cee Bee Macray was trained by Alan Tubbs and came to notice in his first run at Maryborough in December 2014, when after racing outside the leader, he ran a gallant fourth. He was driven in those early days by Jess's sister Amy Tubbs, who has since turned her talents to equestrian contests and is a regular competitor in the Level One events. Over the next 20 months, the pacer won 12 races (including a Vicbred Platinum final) and had five placings from 18 starts. Alan Tubbs battled kidney-related ill-health for many years, and when he passed away in October 2017, Jess took over the training of Tee Cee Bee Macray. "I don't think Greg and I have ever put so much into a horse to get it back into the winner's circle than what we did with Mason," Jess said. "It took us two years and 20 days to do it - that was the period since his previous win-but what a memorable and emotional night it was." And Tee Cee Bee Macray couldn't have picked a better night to return to peak form! It was at Melton's hugely popular Breeders Crown night and even the usually relaxed Sugars couldn't contain his emotions, saluting his whip in jubilation as they went over the line. To watch the video replay of this race click here "That was such a special victory. It was one for dad," Jess said. A trip down memory lane…Amy and the late Alan Tubbs after one of Tee Cee Bee Macray’s early wins The pacer thrilled harness racing fans over many years with fine wins. Even several of his performances behind the "best of the best" were outstanding. He finished third at Melton in late 2017 in the Smoken Up Sprint behind two stars in Lennytheshark and My Field Marshall in 1.51-9. Prior to that, he chased super mare Ameretto home in the $60,000 Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers FFA, beating San Carlo, My Kiwi Mate and Flaming Flutter, who are still going around today - certainly more than enough credentials to demand some respect from his young charges in the "nanny paddock"! "He's a special boy to us and to see him out in the paddock standing over six or seven weanlings while they are all lying down in the sun is lovely. It just warms my heart," Jess said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Greg Sugars is optimistic the tide will turn in Gee Smith's favor when he steps out at Tabcorp Park tonight, amid hopes the recent Larajay Farm addition will find consistency after an all-or-nothing beginning to his career. Sugars joined today's Talking Trots on Track show to preview his five drives including the aforementioned Gee Smith, who will contest the Cogs Pace, which streams at 6.37pm on Trots Vision. The three-year-old Sportswriter gelding joined Sugars and trainer Jess Tubbs in March, having recorded two wins from four starts in the preceding three months for trainer Emma Stewart. He proceeded to run sixth at Charlton on March 15 in his only start for Tubbs, when he broke gait while sitting in the breeze outside well performed Urbadboy. He returns tonight after a freshen up. "Touch wood, this preparation he's behaved himself really well," Sugars told SENTrack. "I was happy with his trial, he hit the line strongly and most importantly he was on his best behaviour. "If he turns up with that attitude and does everything right he should get a good run in transit and hit the line pretty hard. I do give him a really good hope tonight." Good Form analyst Craig Rail has priced Gee Smith a $3.20 chance from his gate eight draw, second favourite to Radical Major ($2.80). "There's not a great deal between them," Sugars said. "(Radical Major) will have probably a fitness edge, we've only had the one trial and a soft trial at that under our belt.  "I've got  lot of respect for Radical Major, but hopefully we'll get a soft run, which will help even things up in our favour." Of his other runners, Sugars told Talking Trots on Track: R1 N6 Giuseppe Moon "He's going really well at the moment, (trainer Tony Calabria)'s done a terrific job with it this time in. There's no reason why it won't run another consistent race tonight. It's a tough little horse, lacks a little high speed, but if he gets in the right position he's always a chance." R2 N1 Jade Nien "Will be fitter for his couple of runs this time in. Good draw and probably a similair field to what he met last week. "He's pretty honest and does everything right and just probably lacks speed. He came pretty close to pinching his first victory last week, hopefully we can go one better. He should run as good as last week, probably a touch better having that run under his belt." R5 N4 Bao Nien "He's a bit of a headache at times, he can do things wrong. He's got a few tricks along the way, but he's just had a bit of a freshen up between runs and seems fairly well within himself.  "Last couple of work-outs at home have probably been as good as he's worked since we've had him. He's one you can't have a lot of faith in, you can't have a lot of trust in unfortunately, but he's got his share of ability. If he does everything right he's never too far away in his races." R6 N10 Fiscal Fantasy "Back row draw shouldn't be an issue, if she gets a good run in transit she should hit the line well because fitness won't be an issue now." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden have another big line-up for today's Talking Trots on SENTrack, which runs weekdays from 11am-1pm on 1377AM in Melbourne, 657AM in Perth and 1575AM in Wollongong. The show includes the Friday Good Form panel from noon. Then from 6-10pm it's time to tune back in for Friday Night Trackside featuring Sam Hargreaves and Tim O'Connor. The duo stream on SENTrack (1377AM) for the entire show and SEN1116 (1116AM) from 8-10pm. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.   Harness Racing Victoria

Top harness racing drivers Chris Alford and Greg Sugars again dominated at Warragul trots on Monday afternoon, winning six of the seven races staged between them.   Alford produced another four winner haul at the meeting, including the drive behind Amazing Daisy which won one of the feature events, the Rodney Demmler Memorial Pace, in a three-way photo finish that had many patrons guessing.   Alford also drove Sahara Sirocco (stablemate of Amazing Daisy), Freedom Writer and Shesa Tricky Bridge to victory.   Sugars meanwhile steered Forever And A Day to success in race five, and won the last race with Bao Nien, trained by his wife Jess.   Lisa Miles produced trotter Tam Oshanter to win the Gordon and June Turner Memorial Handicap event.   Family of the late Gordon and June Turner with race winning driver Lisa Miles   Despite small fields and icy conditions on Monday, a good day of racing was witnessed by spectators.   After a break of several weeks, the major trots meeting on the season takes place at Warragul on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 12 with the staging of the annual Warragul Cup events for pacers and trotters.   Kyle Galley

Brilliant Victorian reinsman Greg "Candyman" Sugars brushed aside sweltering hot conditions for the long trip to the most recent Mildura harness racing meeting and stamped his authority at the far north west Victorian circuit. Sugars, based at Larajay Farm, Myrniong, with his wife Jess Tubbs, made the gruelling six hour trip with a team of five pacers. It was a near perfect result trainer Tubbs going home with four wins - Sugars handling three and rising star Michelle Phillips, now based at Romsey, getting the gig on the other one. Sugars also landed the money on two catch drives -- Soho Crucio (Matt Maguire) and Tale Of The Dragon (Laurie Callick) giving him a "fab five" - and actually weighed in on each of the eight charges he handled throughout the fixture.   Click on this link for a video replay of Soho Crucio   Click on this link for a video replay of Tale Of The Dragon It was only the fourth time in an awesome career that Sugars has achieved five winners. He did it at Maryborough on January 23, 2013, then repeated the dose three months later at a Melton metropolitan meeting. His other bag of five winners was at Shepparton on July 23 late last season. Sugars comes from a strong harness racing family--his father Ross was a household name in South Australian harness racing circles for many years before shifting to Victoria, while Grandfather Len was a legend in the early days on the Adelaide city circuit at Wayville. Ross Sugars landed five winners on two occasions--the first at Gawler on August 12, 1980, and then the following year on June 27 at Adelaide's Globe Derby Park.   The Mildura victories for the Sugars/Tubbs team were Hector Macray (Shadow Play-Schonbrunn (Albert Albert); The Hervey Bay (Somebeachsomewhere-Bold Opera (Armbro Operative); and Joe Nien (Shadow Play-Riverside Oakes (Art Major). Michelle Phillips landed Lenard Ess (Village Jolt-Kano Phoebe (Troublemaker) for Tubbs.   Click on this link for a video replay of Hector Macray   Click on this link for a video replay of The Hervey Bay   Click on this link for a video replay of Joe Nien   Click on this link for a video replay of Lenard Ess   Five-year-old gelding Lenard Ess continues a fairytale return to racing for the stable. "Len" sliced his tendon running around a paddock in what could have been a career-ending injury. However, thanks to the Ballarat Equine Clinic and stable staff, who were "guided through an often- tedious rehab process", the horse is back and winning. The Mildura success was his third since returning. He ran fifth at Ballarat on October 4--390 days after suffering the tendon injury--and has continued to show improvement, winning at his next start at Echuca and then later at Stawell. But the Tubbs stable makes no secret that if "Len" shows any signs of lameness, that will be it. Sugars, who booted home 262 winners and 398 placegetters for $2.3 million last season, continues to be up there with the best again, while Tubbs, with 70 last season, is already close to half that tally with just four months into the current calendar.   Hoofnote: Bolinda-based champion Chris Alford put his foot on the accelerator at the Cranbourne meeting on Sunday afternoon. Alford had five wins and two placings at the seven-event fixture. His winners were Lady Majestic, Amazing Daisy, Madena Bay, Misschanel and Heavens Showgirl. Terry Gange

Greg Sugars is confident he can deliver Clayton Tonkin his first success as a trainer in some 15 years when he drives Ride High in Saturday night’s COGS 4YO & 5YO Championship. The horse will be Tonkin’s first runner in his name since July 27 2004, with the 2018 Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings champion resuming from a leg injury that halted his career in August last year. The brilliant son of Art Major tuned up for his return to the track with a two-horse trial alongside Tam Major last Saturday night. Sugars was in the sulky behind Ride High as the pair equalled Lennytheshark's 2040-metre Tabcorp Park Melton record, which was set in January 2018 and stood until this year's Victoria Cup. “We probably didn’t go out there with the intention to go quite that quick, but they are two obviously very high quality horses and they needed a good hit-out,” Sugars said of the trial. “We expected them to sort of dash up and run some good times, but to see a (former) track record equalled was probably a bit of a surprise.” HEAR THE TRAINER'S LIVE VERDICT OF THE STUNNING TRIAL: Sugars thinks Ride High, a winner of eight of nine career runs, can return in style at Melton on Saturday night. “He has got the barrier draw advantage over his main rivals, which is obviously a big help in this class of racing,” he said. “The fact that Clayton has made a comeback to training after some 15 years without a horse in his name probably speaks volumes for what he thinks of this horse’s ability. “Even though he has had the good hit-out the other day, he is still first-up racing for quite some time. Although he should be very close to the mark, you’d say there would be still some sort of improvement in him with natural race progression.” While Tonkin will chase a long-awaited success with Ride High, his partner Emma Stewart also has three runners in the $75,000 event. As well as Tam Major (Chris Alford), Stewart’s Hurricane Harley (Kima Frenning) and Thats Perfect (Darby McGuigan) help make up the small field of seven. Saturday night’s other feature is the Allied Express Cinderella Stakes (1720m, mares NR 70-120). Sugars will partner Stewart’s Berisari, which is having her first start since narrowly being beaten in a free for all at Melton back in mid August. Nostra Beach (Kate Gath) and Nostra Villa (Chris Alford) also represent the Stewart camp, while Margaret Lee has two runners in Keayang Ebonyrose (Jason Lee) and Keayang Shekitout (Glen Craven). There is 11 races on Saturday night’s card, with the first to kick off from 6.03pm and the last to go off at 11.10pm. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM GREG SUGARS ON HIS SATURDAY NIGHT DRIVES:     HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

There aren't many country crowns missing from Greg Sugars' cabinet but a Maryborough Gold Cup is among the few and the talented reinsman is well placed to rectify that this Sunday. The Bendigo, Boort, Cobram, Echuca, Geelong, Hamilton, Kilmore, Mildura, Shepparton, St Arnaud, Stawell, Terang, Wangaratta, Warragul and Wedderburn country cups winner will steer Code Black in Sunday's $35,000 title, which signals the resumption of the Trots Country Cups Championship. Code Black has been backed into $3 favourite for the Maryborough title with, having opened at $3.30, recognition of his impressive campaign since joining Emma Stewart's camp. "He's only a little fella but there's probably not many horses racing better than what he is at the moment," Sugars told the Trots Talk radio show, which promotes the championship throughout the 2019-20 season. Code Black was slashing late to finish second behind San Carlo in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup on September 26 and then followed up with an eye-catching fourth in the TAB Smoken Up Sprint and ninth in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup. "He obviously goes around in top company every time he steps out on a race track, all his runs this preparation for Emma Stewart, they've been hard to fault," Sugars said. Handed gate 10 for Sunday's cup, Code Black will likely have to win from back in the field but Sugars said options remained open and the son of Bettors Delight was capable of winning a few different ways. "He can do a bit of work if need be," Sugars said. "In a couple of his recent runs, in the real high echelon of racing, I've driven him more as an opportunist and let the others do the bullocking work and he's been very powerful late. He ... can probably adapt to most situations as they unfold." Sugars will also steer Maori Law in the trotters cup, who he told Trots Talk had been "a model of consistency" and "should be nearing peak fitness now". He will cross swords with $2.25 favourite Jilliby Babavska, who Sugars said was "certainly an exciting horse to watch throughout this country series". CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Ace Myrniong harness racing driver Greg Sugars now has one up on his legendary father Ross. The father and son are household names when the kitchen table conversation turns to trots and had both driven five winners at a meeting on two occasions - that was until earlier this week. A rugged-up Greg headed up to a cold and muddy Shepparton with a full book of driving engagements at the 10-race fixture and scored a "fab five" to go one clear of his dad, on that score, at least. Sugars, who is based with his wife Jess Tubbs at "Larajay Farms" in the beautiful hamlet of Myrniong (population of around 400), posted doubles for Jess and for former South Australian Greg Norman and the fifth winning drive for Justin Torney. "I did think on paper I had a few chances, but you don't start putting ticks beside them because there's always something that can upset the apple cart," the respected reinsman said. "The two horses that Jess had running had been working nicely at home, so I was reasonably confident there. And Greg Norman (who is making Charlton his home at present) has his team going along very well." The Norman pair were Gozo (Shadow Play-Gigglybits (Die Laughing) and ever-consistent Edwin Bromac (Mister Big-Elly Bromac (Badlands Hanover). Success for Jess was with BetAmerica (American Ideal-Splendid Bet (Bettors Delight) and Huli Nien (Rock N Roll Heaven-Soho Cannes (Royal Mattjesty). Justin Torney's winner was Mister Joe Major (Art Major-Little Fib (Village Jasper). Ross Sugars landed five winners on a card at Gawler on August 12, 1980, and Globe Derby Park on June 27, the following year. Greg performed the feat at Maryborough on January 23, 2013, and then three months later at a Melton meeting. "I'm not expecting dad will be too concerned I've got one up on him," Greg laughed. "He's semi-retired now, but helps us out around the stables, which is awesome. He has a bit of experience behind him!" Greg is the third generation of the Sugars harness racing dynasty, a powerhouse stable in South Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Greg's grandfather, 94-year-old Len is a Hall of Famer and still an active follower of the sport, but copping the wrath of stewards in 1977 opened the door for his young son Ross, who had just gained his B Grade Driver permit. Ross burst onto the scene, driving three winners at his first three drives: Red Score, Hallett and Perkandi. It was a world record back in November of 1977 and could quite easily still stand. The famous harness racing family relocated to Victoria over 14 years ago and has continued to make a huge impact. Myrniong, situated 15 kms west of Bacchus Marsh, was established among lush wheat fields that provided prospectors with a food source during the gold rush of the 1850s. These day's it's providing a more than lucrative location for a hard-working and talented racing couple! Jess has had 370 starts for the season with 64 wins and 90 placings while Greg is on the cusp of recording his best-ever season with 237 winners and 353 placings at an impressive win-place to starts ratio of nearly 47%. His record of 257 victories was posted in 2012/13, while two seasons later he was just three short of that number, finishing with 254. "If I could have a few more nights such as at Sheppparton, I'd be right on track for a personal best," Greg quipped. "I honestly didn't know where I was up to, but it has been a great season. I always seem busy I can tell you that much." Sugars has topped the ton in the past 12 seasons (including the current one) in Victoria, with eight of these being over the 200-winner threshold. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

In addition to the sweet taste of victory Saturday night's racing at Tabcorp Park was also an opportunity to fine tune for the forthcoming Vicbred Super Series, with several victors signalling their intention to tackle the sires' stakes. Chief among them was Mirragon, winner of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Home Grown Classic for two-year-old boys, a Group 2 that was snapped up by 3.6m for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. "The horse did a terrific job and I think he's going to have a nice future and (the owners) are going to have a lot of fun with him," Sugars said. Mirragon was able to outpace stablemate and leader Pandering from the breeze to register a third win from four starts, the only blot on his copybook being a fifth in his Australian Pacing Gold heat when he broke while challenging for the early lead. "It's pretty unlucky that the only time things didn't go to plan it was in a pretty important race," Sugars said. "He's certainly got the talent and the ability to say he wouldn't have been out of place in a race like the APG, it just wasn't our day that day and it didn't all go to plan. "Anyway, that's in the past now, but apart from that all his race track performances have been pretty handy." Mirragon will likely be well favoured for the Alabar Vicbred Super Series for two-year-old colts and geldings, which kicks off with the heats at Bendigo on June 18 ahead of the June 29 semi-finals and July 6 finals, both at Tabcorp Park Melton. The three-year-old colts and geldings heats will follow at Kilmore on June 20 and Watch List looms as a likely starter after the Mick Stanley trained and driven colt, whose owners include AFL footballers Josh Jenkins, Tex Walker, Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch and Michael Hurley, added a fifth straight win in Saturday's DNR Logistics Pace Final. "He's just a horse who, as he's matured and got a bit smarter, he keeps stepping up, so rapt with how he's progressing," Stanley told TrotsVision in the wake of Saturday night's victory. "Although (Vicbred) is going to be another step up ... he's shown that he's worthy of a go so we'll probably head there and then give him a spell after that." Saturday night was also a chance for four-year-old mare Parisian Opera to push her claims for the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting title, with heats to be held at Kilmore on June 27 ahead of the July 5 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Parisian Opera won Saturday night's last race, the TAB Multiplier 4YO Trot, for trainer Anton Golino and reinsman Jason Lee, who said the Ready Cash mare had "come a long way". "She was only a T0 when she first kicked off her campaign, now she's a TM1 and she's done a terrific job. The team at home have done a terrific job. "Just had a quick chat to (trainer) Anton (Golino) on the phone earlier and he just wanted to set her for the sires. Get through tonight, she wasn't wound down, she's been pretty kind to since her last run. He just said that she would need tonight's run, but she was obviously just good enough to be able to hang on and he'll set her for the sires."   HRV Trots Media

Bendigo harness racing hobby trainer Dylan Marshall is far from convinced he's found the secret to his mare Barbie Mattgregor - despite her winning two of her past four starts. "You would probably confidently think 'yes' I have got her to turn the corner; but the honest answer is more like a 'no'!" Marshall said. "The horse can be a lovely little thing, but she has attitude and is very moody. She also has a few other issues, mainly involving muscles. But don't get me wrong, she can be fast when her head is in the game." Marshall said Barbie Mattgregor (Rob Roy Mattgregor-My Barbie Doll (In The Pocket) had been tried by a handful of other trainers in Queensland and New South Wales, before coming to Victoria. "She's had about 30 starts and been sent out favorite in probably 10 of those, so I'm perhaps at the end of the queue," he said. But the mare was on song last week that's for sure, with an impressive win at Maryborough (her second there in a little over a month). And just maybe Marshall is under-selling the work he's doing! "It was just another perfect drive by Greg Sugars because if the horse lands in a good spot and does little work, she can sprint hard for about 400 metres," Marshall said. When the well-supported Whata Challenge ($6.50 into $2.10 favorite on fixed odds) zipped to the lead, Sugars was quick to jump on its back. With a steady pace, Barbie Mattgregor was in second gear awaiting her chance. That came on the home corner when Sugars pulled out and worked home best to the wire. The win made it a quartet for the crack young reinsman from Larajay Farm, Myrniong. Barbie Mattgregor, who was ignored in betting, starting at 25/1, is one of five horses trained by Marshall and his partner Tayla Fellows. The pair are based at a property opposite Lord's Raceway, Bendigo. Marshall was born into harness racing, growing up in Tasmania. "My (late) dad Peter was a trainer-driver, so I was always going to follow in his footsteps. I trained horses and drove back home and that's continued on since I crossed to the mainland," he said. "We just keep ticking along and I suppose we've had a fair bit of success, mainly through 'second-handers', which we don't mind. "Steve Clements (of Brisbane Pastoral Company) has been great in sending us a few over the years. We've now got some young ones along with a half-sister to Carl Mattgregor, who has won six races for us." Marshall, who works as a diesel mechanic, said he was unable to take time off from his job to attend meetings held during the day. "That's the way it goes. But everything is working out great with Tayla being in charge at the past two Maryborough meetings where Barbie Mattgregor has been successful," he said. "Tayla does fast work with me and other stables chores, so it's working out nice for us."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

A ticket to the big dance won't come easy for the fine crop of fillies who will step out in Saturday night's third Lazarus Victoria Oaks heat. The random draw has coupled Victorian two-year-old filly of the year Kualoa with fancied Arabella Star and Tangoingwithsierra, who drew gates one and two respectively and opened $4.40 with Lob in a multitude of pacers with winning form lines, in particular Soho Nolita, Mach Jodenkrist, Wellsaidlucy and Rise Above This, and a top four finish will be a mighty achievement in itself. That prospect is front of mind for reinsman Greg Sugars, who will steer trainer Jess Tubbs' three-year-old Betamerica from gate five in the 8.30pm feature. "I'm very happy with her," Sugars told RSN 927's Gait Speed today. "She showed as a two-year-old she wasn't too far off the best of her age group. "She's progressed nicely through this preparation. We decided to leave her home from Sydney (NSW Oaks), just didn't think she was quite ready to compete in a race like that. "This was always in the background, we wanted to try and have her the best we can for the Vic Oaks and we are very happy with her leading into it." But Sugars admitted the task at hand was a tough one given the strength of the heat. "She's going to have to be on top of her game just to even qualify because it's a pretty tough heat she's drawn," he said. "The (barrier) draw is probably not a great help either, but I think she's ready to stand up and be counted against these ones for sure."   HRV Trots Media

It will be on for young and old in Sunday’s North East Fasteners Wangaratta Pacing Cup, when a full, even field will battle for line honours in the club’s annual racing pinnacle. A picture-perfect 27-degree is forecast to greet race goers who turn out for Sunday’s twilight cup, with the headliner at 8.17pm on the seven-race twilight card. Looming large over the cup is Bacchus Marsh-trained four-year-old Joe Nien, who has drawn to burst from gate one and lead for trainer Jess Tubbs and reinsman Greg Sugars, the team hoping to build on their gelding’s break-out season that has delivered five wins and two placings from nine starts. A victory on the Trots Country Cups Championship circuit would be a significant notch on the Echuca-bred gelding’s belt, but there will be no shortage of challengers bidding to wrestle the crown from her clutches. Chief among them may well be an old grey mare with 251 more starts in the book in Hollys Miss Molly, who will step out for start 297 and looms as a likely contender for the crown. The fast-finishing mare, a winner of 35 starts and $251,256 in stakes, was fourth and beaten only 3.6m when rated a $26-chance in last year’s track record breaking Wangaratta cup, and has drawn to take advantage of her withering final sprint on Sunday. The nine-year-old mare will emerge from the inside of the second row and can follow Joe Nien through, getting a cushy ride on the pegs over the 2210m cup distance before having a big crack at the win in the final straight. It promises to be a showdown worthy of its headline status for Sunday’s showcase, when club secretary Bernadette Costantino said they were looking forward to building on the success of their January trotting cup.  “(The trotting cup) was excellent, God blessed us with the weather – it was about 28 degrees, fantastic after our two weeks of 40 degrees-plus,” Ms Costantino said. “We had over 1000 people in attendance and everything went off perfectly. The locals are really supportive of us and, definitely, having (the pacing cup on this) long weekend is a huge bonus for us.” There will plenty to lure both race goers and locals to the track, with off-track attractions including the pony trots, a mechanical bucking bull, jumping castle, face painting and DJ Steve Bowen. “We are a very basic club, we are like the old-fashioned country football (clubs), where you have chairs up at the fence and take away food. Everyone’s very relaxed – it’s just a great, family fun-filled evening.” Gates open from 5pm at Avian Park Raceway.   Trots Media

Leading Victorian harness racing driver Greg Sugars had an armchair ride when he was successful in the 2019 Wedderburn Pacing Cup on Sunday with rising star Emain Macha. After winning the start, Sugars rated the pacer to perfection over the marathon 2555m event, to post a new track record of 1.57, on the half mile circuit, in north central Victoria. “I didn’t know we were scooting along that quick – Emain Macha felt terrific and he really did it quite comfortably,” Sugars said. “When I heard the time, I was blown away. It was honestly a huge surprise.” In a strange twist, Perspective who was runner-up to Emain Macha, previously held the track record of 2.00-5, set in the cup 12 months earlier. Sugars said while the track was in excellent condition, Emain Macha is low-flying at the moment. “He has been going enormous with four wins and a second leading up to the Cup – and the second placing was at Shepparton behind a fairly handy performer in Buster Brady, trained by Kima Frenning.” Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three), prepared by Greg Scholefield, has an excellent race record of 24 wins and eight placings from just 37 starts for over $160,000. Sugars, who has now driven the five-year-old to 10 of his wins, said there was exciting times ahead for the horse, known around the stables as “Fritz”. “Greg (the trainer) has done a remarkable job with Emain Macha. He’s placed him well and has him in tip-top racing condition,” Sugars said. “There’s nothing mapped out for him at the moment. Greg told me he would now sit down and have a look at what’s around.” Sugars, who has won the Mildura Guineas and Mark Gurry and Associates Cup at the popular Mildura Pacing Cup carnival with Emain Macha, is hopeful the two may team up again in April for the “big one” in the Northern Region. The Mildura Pacing Cup, worth $60,000, is run in what is now a rare format for country cups – qualifying heats run on April 9 and the final on April 13. Sugars said that after winning the Gurry feature event two years ago, Emain Macha contracted a virus and ended up in a very bad way. The virus got worse and then Emain Macha came down with bronchitis. He lost a lot of weight, had swelling in all four feet and it was a battle to save him. Part-owner-trainer Greg Scholefield admitted at the time they were close to losing him but praised local vet Tony Tully who put “Fritz” on a course of drugs with which he slowly pulled through. Scholefield, who has a small team in training, has always been involved in horses, dating back to riding ponies in his younger days. The Wedderburn Cup victory was the second leg of a winning double for Sugars, who scored earlier in the day with Soul Writer (Sportswriter-Soul In Art (Art Major) for Justin Torney is in the Randall’s Foodworks Pace. Ballarat trainer Zac Steenhuis took out the $14,500 Wedderburn Trotters Cup when Jerichos Trumpet (Shadow Play-All In Good Time (Fake Left) landed the money following late support on fixed odds. Driven by junior reinsman Ryan Duffy, the trotter was most impressive, coming wide late after blowing the start. Club secretary Tom Nisbet said the meeting, one of only two conducted at Wedderburn each season, was a huge success. “The tote was up by $3000 on last year, while the bookies were up by $2000,” Nisbet said. “We had a big crowd with plenty of support from the locals and sold nearly 200 membership tickets.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Leading reinsmen Chris Alford and Greg Sugars will stage an exciting battle for the Warragul drivers' premiership at the club's next race meeting on August 26. Alford drove a treble at the latest race meeting at Warragul yesterday (Sunday), while Sugars drove one winner and three minor placings, with both horsemen sitting at the top of the premiership table heading into the final race meeting of the season. Both Alford and Sugars could have several drives at the August meeting, so an enthralling battle may take place. Alford's treble were trained by local horseman Gary Quinlan - courtesy of pacers Roll With Rocky and Heavens Showgirl, and trotter Omy Son, while Sugars drove Illawong Maestro to win the fourth race for his father, Ross. Top young horseman Darby McGuigan also drove two winners at the Sunday meeting, courtesy of Undaliner and Into You. The performance of Into You in particular was one of the better wins of the day. The Rob Evans trained mare came with a strong finishing burst in the home straight, claiming leader Mystic Castle in the shadows of the post. Locally trained, Into You has won at the last two Warragul meetings, and is towards the top of the table for the Warragul "Horse of the Year" award for season 2017/2018, heading into August's season close. A further win at the August meeting would sew up victory in the award for connections. Surprisingly, Into You went around as a $14.90 chance on the TAB on Sunday, despite having won last month at Warragul in close to track record time. Four-year-old mare Yourgottabelucky made it two wins in succession with victory in the second race on Sunday for trainer/driver Richard Caruana.   Kyle Galley

Warragul trotter Miss Intense is chasing a feature race win this Saturday night. The seven-year-old mare, having just her tenth race start, will compete in the $20,000 Breed For Speed Silver Series Final at Melton for trainer Jenni Lewis and driver Greg Sugars. Miss Intense has stuck a rich vein of form since returning to racing in November. After successive wins at Geelong and Melton, Miss Intense produced an eye catching second in a heat of the Silver Series at Bendigo recently, and is sure to give her supporters a sight in Saturday night's race. In many ways the story of Miss Intense is similar to that of Lewis' former top trotter of a decade ago, Billy Royle. Both horses are out of the mare Ivy Jean, and both suddenly found considerable racetrack success as older horses - Billy Royle won one race from his first 26 starts but ended up going on to win several feature races, and compete in an InterDominion series, as an older horse. While this weekend's race is the biggest test to date for Miss Intense, she is in the best form of her career at the right time, and has earned an opportunity in the feature event. Saturday's meeting is a major fundraiser for the Women's Cancer foundation.   Kyle Galley  

Young Victorian reins man Mark Pitt gave a salute to the stars as he scored an amazing harness racing win in tonight's John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Shepparton reinsman brought Shez All Rock with a burst of speed up the inside running to win by three metres from Soho Burning Love (Greg Sugars) in a world record equalling time of 2:50.4 with the plucky Nostra Villa (Chris Alford) clinging on for third. Pitt drove a patient race with the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, settling in about seventh spot and biding his time until the field hit the home running. The charges looked to be coming from out wide and just as it looked as if Soho Burning Love and Nostra Villa would fight out the finish Pitt and Shez All Rock appeared from nowhere up the pegs for an amazing win. Now Victorian-based, Pitt showed his delight to be back in his former home state with a mighty flourish of the whip as he crossed the line for a win he rated among the best of his career. "This was always going to be a tricky race but she had a good trip tonight and god the job done," said Pitt. "It's always good when you come away from home and win a race like this and go home with a trophy, it's really special. "I have to thank Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin for all the help they have given me with this horse and I also think Mum and Dad deserve some of the credit too. Without them none of this would be possible.       3 7:17pm JOHN GIBSON MEMORIAL NSW OAKS (GROUP 1) 2400M $200,000 3YO Fillies. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SHEZ ALL ROCK      Fr4 5 Mark Pitt Mark Pitt   $ 4.80       BROWN FILLY 3 by ROCK N ROLL HEAVEN USA out of JUST IRISH LOCH NZ (MACH THREE CA)  Owner(s): I D Pitt, L M Pitt  Breeder(s): G F (George) Tennent 2 SOHO BURNING LOVE      Fr10 11 Michael Stanley Greg Sugars 3.2m $ 13.20     3 NOSTRA VILLA      Fr7 8 Emma Stewart Chris Alford 7.5m $ 2.70 fav    4 CALLMEQUEENBEE      Fr8 9 Gemma Rue Mat Rue 9.1m $ 95.30     5 MY SWEETCHILLIPHILLY NZ      Fr6 7 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 9.3m $ 35.70     6 WAR DAN BAD GIRL      Fr5 6 Steve Turnbull Nathan Jack 9.5m $ 42.30     7 FAME ASSURED      Fr3 4 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 10.4m $ 4.60     8 IMPRINCESSGEMMA      Fr1 2 Emma Stewart Luke McCarthy 21.7m $ 6.30     9 IDEAL PLEASURE NZ      Fr2 3 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Natalie Rasmussen 22.5m $ 16.10     10 MACEY JAYDE      Fr9 10 Michael Stanley Michael Stanley 29.8m $ 46.20     Scratchings   REDBANK ADDI 1 PROPHESY 12 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:50:4 Mile Rate: 1:54:3 Lead Time: 54.9 First Quarter: 29.3 Second Quarter: 30.1 Third Quarter: 27.8 Fourth Quarter: 28.3 Margins: 3.2m x 4.3m   Sean Vella  

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