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The marvelous Face Time Bourbon (4m Ready Cash-Vita Bourbon) led from the start to victory in today’s Gr. II Prix Octave Douesnel (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters. 10 starters) at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. He was reined by Bjorn Goop for trainer Sebastien Guarato and clocked in 1.14.6kt as the 3/10 favorite. Ecurie Bivans Srl owns the winner that SARL Haras Saint Martin owns. Face Time now sports 17 career wins in 20 starts for 978,550€ earned. The pace was a walk in the park as there were no challengers to the winning FTB (1.17.1kr with 1500 meters to go; 1.16.6kr at the1000 and 1.16.3kr with 500 remaining as then FTB jetted away). The 12/1 Fakir du Lorault (4m Vaillant Cash-Native du Lorault) was second for Francois Lecanu and trainer Mickael Charuel. Third was 44/1 Fun Quick (4m Carpe Diem-Activity Quick) for Yoann Lebourgeois, trainer Maik Esper and Ecurie Quick Star. Fighter Smart and Follow You completed the top five. Face Time is likely to appear again in two weeks in the four-year old Criterium Continental, the winner of which earns a Prix d'Amerique invitation. To watch the race replay, click here. Today’s Paris-Vincennes co-feature was the monte Gr. II Prix Raoul Balliere (purse 100,000€,  2175 meters, 11 starters) and 9/1 odds Gangster du Wallon (3m Let’s Go Along-Umeda du Wallon) scored in 1.13.4kr with Benjamin Rochard in the irons for owner/trainer Damien Lecroq. The winner scored for the third time in 18 starts now for life earnings of 166,640€. The 11/1 Gladys des Plaines (3f Opus Viervil) was second for jockey Eric Raffin and trainer Gilles Curens. 5.6/1 Gee (3f Brutus de Baily) was third for Mathieu Mottier. The 4/10 favorite Grace de Fael was a dq. A series of upper class races were also on the stage including the Quinte+ Prix d’Hautefort (purse 58,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 16 starters) and the quick 1.11.4kr timed winner was 1.4/1 Bryssel (7m Ready Cash-Spacelane) with trainer Bjorn Goop aboard. T The winner raised his life earnings to 275,980€. Second was 30/1 Big Headache (9g EL Miko) for Philippe Daugeard and third was 4/1 Canular (7g Jet Fortuna) with Yoann Lebourgeois up. 18/1 Be Cool and 3.8/1 Calyu des Bose completed the top five creating an exact order Q+ payoff of 3,166.20€to 192 winning tickets. The Q+ pool was 4,087,320€ and total of all pool on this race exceeded 8,969,000€ Gu d’Heripre (3m Coktail Jet-Vedetta d’Heripre), off at 1.4/1 odds, took the Prix de Mansle (purse 70,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 14 European three year old starters). Franck Nivard teamed the 1.12.4kr timed winner to his sixth career victory in nine starts, now for 122,750€ earned. 2.6/1 Empire (3m Vasterbo Prestige-Gossip Gal) was second for reinsman Bjorn Goop and 6.7/1 Gelati Cut (3m Coktail Jet-Variety Cut) was third for Alexandre Abrivard and trainer R.C. Larue. Calina (5f Archipelago-Caltina Hall) took the Prix Narquois (Gr. III, purse 80,000€, 2700 meters, 11 starters) for David Thomain and trainer Jean-Michel Bazire. Off at 1.4/1 odds Calina won for the first time in France for Norwegian owner C.G. Myhre. The 4/1 Ghazi BR (5m Cantab Hall-Fiery Chip) was second for trainer/driver Bazire and third was 2.5/1 Violetto Jet (5m From Above-Nocciolaia Jet) for Franck Nivard. 6.7/1 Vipera Killer Gar (5f Varenne) and 20/1 Hard Times (5m Coktail Jet) completed the top five. As a result of this race trainer/driver Bazire was suspended again, this time apparently due to the teaming up of stablemates Calina and Ghazi BR in the final turn. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, N.Y. – Multiple stakes winner Obrigado made his last harness racing start in the $200,000 Caesars Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park Sept. 21, 2018. Despite finishing fourth beaten just 1 3/4 lengths by Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder and trotting his final quarter in :27.0, Obrigado did not emerge from the race well. Trainer Paul Kelley faced the reality that the career of his $1.8 million earner was over. “He had a little bit of a suspensory issue going around there, which was something we had never experienced with him before. "He’s had other aches and pains for sure. It wasn’t really looking too good. We scanned it a few times and pretty much the prognosis looked like retirement was probably the right thing to do,” Kelley said. “Wintertime was coming on and you want to find any horse a good, permanent home,” Kelley continued. “I was kind of scrambling; I didn’t really have any options. I figured the best scenario would be to get him someplace where he could be turned out for the winter and let him heal up naturally on his own.” Kelley sent Obrigado to Chris Coyle's Olive Branch Farm in North Carolina, where the 9-year-old son of Boy Band wintered and recuperated. Come April, Kelley still didn’t have a forever home lined up for the Boy Band son, so the trainer brought him to his racing stable at Congress Hill Farm in Monroe, N.J. “He’s one of those horses that you don’t really want to part with,” Kelley said. “At one point, I was thinking maybe I’ll be the permanent home.” However, Obrigado didn’t find retired life of daily paddock turnouts interesting enough, especially when forced to watch the other Standardbreds going to the track every morning. Kelley recognized the horse needed work. “We were putting him out in the paddock every day, but you could tell he was a little bored just doing that; that wasn’t enough, especially being in the barn with all the other horses that were getting tacked up and going to the track every day. He’s an intelligent horse and he wanted to do that too,” Kelley explained. Kelley had Obrigado’s leg scanned again, and with a green light from the vet, began light jogging on the track, swimming sessions, and under saddle riding. Obrigado took to his work and started to rebuild his foundation. With routine scans coming back clean, Kelley started to step on the gas over the summer. “The horse loves being on the track. He loves being out there with other horses. That was really the easy part of it all,” Kelley said. “It wasn’t like we had to push him along. He’s always been a happy horse, likes work, likes the competition and all that. “We just gradually increased the workload to the point where we got to August and we felt like he’d had enough groundwork, maybe we can start some more speed work with him. We did that and I held my breath for a long time thinking, ‘Is he going to be OK? Is he going to come out of it OK?’ So far, he’s been remarkable, he’s been just fine.” A 45-time winner in 92 starts, Obrigado’s accomplishments include a pair of Maine Sire Stakes championships in 2012 and 2013 and the Crawford Farms Open Trot in 2015. Obrigado’s biggest season came in 2016, when he captured the Maxie Lee, Charlie Hill Memorial, Cleveland Trotting Classic, Cashman Memorial, repeated in the Crawford Farms Open Trot, won the Dayton Trotting Derby, and competed in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot before closing the year with a victory in the $400,000 TVG FFA Trot. Obrigado remained competitive on the Grand Circuit in 2017 and 2018 before going on the shelf. “Mentally, that horse has never changed. That’s what’s remarkable about him,” Kelley said. “You see people sometimes; your attitudes go up and down throughout a racing season. You see that with horses; horses have lulls where they just don’t seem to be too keen. He’s never ever been that way. He’s always just been real bright-eyed, real keen, head out over the gate, and ears are always forward. That’s just the kind of horse he is. He’s a happy fella and he really loves being out on the track and he loves being out with other horses all the time.” Obrigado will make his comeback Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the $42,000 Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway. Dan Dube will drive the 8-1 morning line shot from an assigned inside post position for owners Paul Kelley Racing Stable, S R F Stable, and Linwood Higgins. Obrigado prepared for his return with three qualifiers at Freehold. Rene Sejthen drove Obrigado to a second-place finish in 2:01.1 over a good track with a minus two variant Nov. 1 and again took the lines in a 13 1/4-length qualifying win on a fast track in 2:00.0 with a minus one variant Nov. 8. Kelley brought in Dube for Obrigado’s final trial Nov. 22, in which the gelding posted a 1:59.2 win. “My second trainer Rene took him the first two times and he was doing the right thing with the horse and being cautious and letting the horse do it on his own,” Kelley said. “I know from talking to Rene the weather conditions on those days weren’t particularly good. According to Rene, they were both really good miles for Obrigado considering the conditions and the horse did everything on his own and real easy. “I skipped a week and then I had Dan Dube take him the last time and I just told him, ‘Make sure he does a little work the last half of the mile. He’s got to go a little bit.’ It was kind of a funny qualifier because he got caught in and a couple of pacers were battling things out up front. When Dan finally got him out and got rolling, I think he trotted his back-half in about :57.2 and he came a good last quarter, so that was good. It gives him a little bit of speedwork.” Obrigado will face a difficult field in his return, including the first four finishers from the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Nov. 23: Stormy Kromer, Will Take Charge, Lean Hanover, and Swansea. Sumatra and Winning Shadow step up off overnight wins Nov. 22 to complete the lineup. “I suspect it’s going to take him a couple of races to get up to speed with the rest of the horses he’s got to race against, but everything has gone very well,” Kelley said. “He’s come back very well, so it will really be interesting to see what happens over the course of the winter. “He’s coming off the bench and he’s been on the bench for 14 months, so I can’t expect him to be tip-top, but maybe by having the inside, he can save some ground,” Kelley continued. “I know the horse is going to be competitive from his own standpoint, but maybe he’s not physically ready quite yet. I would expect it’s going to take two races for him to get up to speed. I think that’s realistic.” Although he will take things on a start-by-start basis, Kelley hopes to race Obrigado at Yonkers throughout the winter. Obrigado sports a 7-for-19 record at the Hilltop with seven additional placings, all at the Open level or higher. Kelley will also look for options during Yonkers’ hiatus beginning Dec. 18 and continuing into early Jan. 2020. “We’ll get a couple of starts in at Yonkers and then they go on break,” Kelley said. “Maybe with Yonkers down, (Freehold) will be able to fill an Open. That’s a possibility if I can do that for a race or two until Yonkers comes back, but I think Yonkers is where I’d like to race him the most over the course of the winter. I think he could be a real good winter horse for Yonkers.” Kelley also hopes to reunite Obrigado with Mark MacDonald, who’s last driving start came with Kelley’s The Veteran at Saratoga July 20. MacDonald suffered a fractured shoulder joint, among other injuries, in a pre-race spill later that night, but is approaching a return to the sulky. “(Obrigado) definitely likes this track, he knows his way around that track for sure, so it makes sense,” Kelley said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I’m hoping around the first of February, Mark MacDonald should be back and it would be great if I have the horse coming off the shelf and Mark coming off the shelf and we can reunite the two of them. “The partners are all excited. They’re all amazed just like I am that he’s back. Horses like that, they’re once-in-a-lifetime horses,” Kelley said. “They’re remarkable in their own way. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and they find a way to get back in the game. I’m just hoping we can go week to week, he can stay sound and we can manage him properly and it can be a fun 2020.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through December 17.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

THE Inter Dominion Queen is about to join the Inter Dominion King. Victory for Natalie Rasmussen on raging hot favourite Ultimate Sniper will bring her level with Brian Hancock as the most successful driver in the history of the Inter Dominion pacing final. Hancock won five finals and Rasmussen already boasts four, all on the great Blacks A Fake. Ultimate Sniper is an odds-on favourite to give her a fifth win next Saturday. And Hancock will be cheering loudly for Rasmussen. “You bet I’m in her corner,” Hancock said from his home near Wollongong. “Records are made to be broken, or in this case, equalled. “Nat’s a really good friend of mine. She and Vi (Hancock’s partner) are great mates, they talk all the time. I’d love to see her win another final this week.” Hancock said he spoke with Rasmussen during the week. “I did have to remind her the other day, even if she does win this, I’m still ahead of her … I won my five finals on three different horses, Nat will only have done it on two,” he laughed. Hancock, long retired from driving, still educates horses for a few trainers, including his nephew Darren Hancock. And he said he’s been watching the Auckland series with interest. “They’ve really dominated it, haven’t they, Nat and Mark. But it’s been great to see Barry (Purdon’s) horses all going so well, too,” Hancock said. “I’ve got so many great Inter Dominion memories and the Purdon family have been such a big part of them.” Mark Purdon held the combined record for Inter Dominion final driving wins, three pacing and three trotting. He’s odds-on to add to that with Winterfell in Saturday’s trotting final and drives second favourite Cruz Bromac in the pacing final. Purdon already stands alone with seven Inter Dominion titles (two pacing and five trotting) as a trainer. With Winterfell in the trotting final and five runners, headed by Ultimate Sniper in the pacing final, he looks certain to add to that on Saturday. Two of Purdon’s training wins came in partnership with Grant Payne with I Can Doosit in 2011 and ’12. Now he’s got a chance to add to that in partnership with Rasmussen across both finals on Saturday.   Adam Hamilton

Driver Natalie Rasmussen says she can’t see hot favourite Ultimate Sniper getting to his favourite position in Saturday’s $500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final at Alexandra Park. So she will take the next best option: being in front. The four-year-old has been unbeaten in the three rounds of heats and is $1.45 to win the final after drawing barrier five. His draw is made even better by his key rivals, many of them stablemates, drawing worse, with A G’s White Socks at barrier seven and Chase Auckland (9), Cruz Bromac (11) and Thefixer (13) all on the second line. After being trapped three wide in every heat of the series and still being too strong, Ultimate Sniper will be expected to stroll to the front after the early shuffling of positions and win. But Rasmussen, who also co-trains Ultimate Sniper, says he would probably be better sitting parked. “I know that sounds strange but sometimes he doesn’t concentrate quite so well in front,” says Rasmussen. “He is still good there but he really loves staring horse down from parked, as we have seen when he has been wide during this series.”So why not just sit parked with the hot favourite, as crazy as that sounds with Rasmussen and everybody else expecting the lead to be there? “I don’t know any of the other drivers in the front line are going to want him outside them staring them down,” she says matter-of-factly. A reluctant outside leading when they would rather have Ultimate Sniper’s back could mean a slower mid-race tempo which would bring the outsiders into the race and allow the likes of Cruz Bromac and Thefixer to creep closer three wide. So with one stablemate in Ashley Locaz and three outsiders rated $51 or longer drawn inside her, Rasmussen should only have to hold A G’s White Socks to her outside at the start and she probably ends up in front, with On The Cards and My Kiwi Mate the most likely followers. Rasmussen says all five of the All Stars pacing finalists have come through their busy week of heats in great order as well as trotting final favourite Winterfell. “We couldn’t be happier with how they have handled it and if anything they look like the series has brought them on,” she said. “They are likely to have their final fast work on Wednesday.”With Rasmussen on Ultimate Sniper and Mark Purdon sticking with Cruz Bromac, Blair Orange has picked up the drive on Thefixer, Tim Williams stays on Chase Auckland but no driver has been confirmed yet for Ashley Locaz. The stable has two odds-on final favourites with Winterfell $1.90 to win the trotting final after drawing perfectly at barrier two. He looked far more settled and happier winning his heat in national record time on Friday and while he is still not foolproof, Rasmussen says the big trotter has thrilled Purdon with his improvement in this series. It may not be a case of Winterfell simply strolling to the lead and on to the winner’s circle though, with Majestic Man drawn barrier four and with superior gate speed and therefore the likely early leader is driver Brad Williamson desires. But with Paramount King, Tough Monarch, Massive Metro and Marcoola all drawn to settle back the trotting final looks certain to contain plenty of movement. PACING FINAL, $500,000, 2700m mobile 1: My Kiwi Mate 2: Sicario 3: Ashley Locaz 4: On The Cards 5: Ultimate Sniper 6: Mach Shard 7: A G’s White Socks 8: Triple Eight 9: Chase Auckland (2nd line) 10: San Carlo 11: Cruz Bromac 12: Classie Brigade (em) 13: Thefixer   TROTTING FINAL $150,000, 2700m mobile 1: Big Jack Hammer 2: Winterfell 3: Destiny Jones 4: Majestic Man 5: Monty Python (em) 6: Valloria 7: Bonnie Highlander 8: Marcoola 9: Temporale (2nd line) 10: Habibi Inta 11: Tough Monarch 12: Paramount King 13: Massive Metro   Michael Guerin

Today we saw the second and third heats of the 2019 Hanley Formula Australasian Young Drivers Championship which were run at Mt Harding Raceway in Methven. The first heat was won by Cameron Hart who drove Refine to victory for John McDermott. Cameron was also successful in the second heat on the Grant McStay trained Beau Major. “It was a good experience driving on the grass for the first time, I was lucky enough to draw a couple of nice horses and they both raced well and we were able to get the job done” said Hart. Sheree Tomlinson finishes the day in second place after a good placing in the second heat today and John Morrison is currently in third. On Tuesday we head to Manawatu Raceway in Palmerston North for the next three heats of the championship.   Please see below the standings as of today.   Cam Hart NSW 50 Sheree Tomlinson NZ 23 John Morrison NZ 22 Sarah O’Reilly NZ 21 Benjamin Butcher NZ 18 Matt Elkins QLD 18 Corey Peterson WA 15 Brodie Webster SA 13 Conor Crook TAS 7 Zac Phillips VIC 6   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Pacing & Trotting (with confirmed barrier draws) The following lists here shows the confirmed Grand Final fields (including confirmed barrier draws) for both the Pacing & Trotting IRT ID19 Series, to be held at Alexandra Park on Saturday 14th December 2019.   Harness Racing New Zealand

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - December 7, 2019 - The $65,000 SBOANJ New Jersey Sired Trot Final for 3-year-olds at the Meadowlands on Friday night (Dec 6.) ended in exciting harness racing fashion. The favorite Evident Beauty and second favorite Princess Deo could not be split at the wire, stopping the clock as co-winners in 1:52.2. The two fillies sat back allowing the colt Lucius Vorenus to make the front uncontested to a first-quarter time of 28.1. Just past the quarter Andrew McCarthy moved is filly Princess Deo to the front to take the lead from Lucius Vorenus, while Evident Beauty and David Miller waited to make their move after the half-mile marker. David Miller and Evident Beauty eased their way around the last turn, and the two fillies hooked up in the lane battling to the dead heat for the win. The NJSS horse of the year Evident Beauty is trained by Richard (Nifty) Norman and owned by Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC, and R A W Equine Inc. The Trixton filly has notched win number 13 and $805,301 in lifetime earnings. Bred by White Birch Farms in Allentown, NJ, Evident Beauty has put together a noteworthy 3-year-old campaign. The other winner in this dead heat Princess Deo is trained by Noel Daley for owners Deo Volente Farms LLC, Thomas Pontone and John Fodera. Princess Deo was also sired by Trixton, but she was bred by Deo Volente Farms LLC. Princess Deo captured her fifth win and boosted her lifetime earnings to $405,974. This was the first year for the SBOANJ 3-year-old sired trot race, it is planned to return next year for 3 and 4-year-olds. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - After going off stride just after the half a week ago as the 4-5 harness racing favorite on the way to a ninth-place finish, Southwind Chrome rebounded in a big way Friday night, taking the featured $30,000 Preferred for trotters at the Meadowlands. Sent off this time as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering, Southwind Chrome raced with cover past the quarter behind 9-5 public choice Muscle M Up and ending up clearing the top before the half, which was timed in a quick :54.4 with strong winds at their backs. Midway around the far turn, Ake Svanstedt directed Muscle M Up to vacate the pocket and the duo then dueled all the way to the wire from there. Muscle M Up was determined, but Southwind Chrome was just a bit better, hanging on to win by a neck in 1:51.4 after a contentious stretch battle. JL Cruze finished third. "He was super," said winning driver Tim Tetrick of Southwind Chrome. "We went a very fast middle half with a nice horse following us. My horse showed a lot of toughness to hold off Muscle M Up. My horse went a big mile. I'm very happy with his effort." Southwind Chrome, a 4-year-old son of Chapter Seven-Counter Pointe who is trained by Jeff Cullipher and owned by Pollack Racing and Cullipher, returned $7.20 to his backers. He's won 10 of his 30 lifetime starts and earned $181,085. A LITTLE MORE: Leading driver Dexter Dunn, fresh off a month of November that saw him win 23 Big M races, had three winners on the card. ... Dunn and trainer Harry Landy teamed up to take the 11th and 12th races. ... One shrewd handicapper betting into the Oregon hub was the only player to last six legs in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 and cashed in for $7,480. ... All-source handle totaled $2,252,358 on the 13-race program. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Hardly a Southern race day goes by without the presence of prominent owners Lindsay and Ian Thomson being on course to watch one of their horses win. But wedding bells in Dunedin kept them away today at Ascot Park. Their absence didn’t halt their run of success though,  as two horses they own won today: Lawrence and Kilowatt Kid. The brothers were attending their nephew Matthew Leckie’s wedding in Dunedin. “They weren’t too happy the wedding was on the same day as the races (laughter) but they asked their other nephew if he could bring it up on his phone so they could watch it while the wedding was on,” said trainer Alister Black. Shadow Play gelding Lawrence was their first winner. He was favourite in the R50-R60 rating mobile pace on the back of his run for second on Show Day at Addington in the South of the Waitaki Pace. “I thought he’d be hard to beat today but with racing you never know.”  The five year old had nearly a year away from racing, after he broke down when running second to Please Shuddup at Gore in October 2018. “Thanks to Southern Vets and Vet South and all the work they’ve done with the horse. Because it wasn’t looking too good for a while.” The recovery has been a slow process and the horse has noticeably returned to racing a much bigger and stronger proposition. “He’s done a power of work. He probably did five months work before he went to the races and he’s still as big as a bull.” The win today, at the hands of regular pilot Brad Williamson was his fourth from just sixteen starts. “He’s in that Country Cup grade now and as you know you have to wait your turn in that grade.” Later in the day Kilowatt Kid also won for the Thomson, Black and Williamson combination. It took the whole length of the straight for him to get past pacemaker Parama, but he eventually won by a nose. Williamson was in great form at today’s meeting, getting home long shot trotter Dream Of Pat. Her form was full of zeros but today after a daring drive by Williamson the seven year old Great Success mare held on to beat favourite Galleon’s Future. While most of the field was in bother at some point Williamson took the thirty nine start veteran maidener to the lead and opened up plenty of holes in the field before holding on to win by a head. Dream Of Pat (2) holding out Galleons Future                             -Photo Bruce Stewart Trained at Omakau by Ginger Woodhouse, Dream Of Pat was his first winner since Lucky Pat’s Son won at Forbury Park in November 2016. In the Junior Drivers feature Major Watson proved too strong for the six other rivals. The Art Major gelding, owned by Ben and Karen Calder and trainer Nathan Williamson was too smart, winning by a length and a quarter. After sitting back driver Mark Hurrell shot the four year old forward with 900 metres to run, cruising easily to the lead. He held on to beat Magnetic Watch by a length and a quarter. When favourite Flash Party was checked at the start in the Gold Ace at Nevele R Stud Mobile Pace the race was left wide open for the other runners including the Brett Gray trained Bettors Highlight. Driver Ellie Barron tucked the Bettors Delight mare away on the inside running line, trailing early pacemaker Bettor Galleon. Vintage Rose then shot round the field with 1500 metres to run and looked to have the race in safe keeping but Barron got Bettors Highlight out in between tiring runners Bettors Galleon and Calico Hill, and set out chasing Vintage Rose which had shot away by eight lengths. Bettors Highlight came stoutly up the inside to win by a neck. It was the mare’s second win in twelve starts.   Bruce Stewart

First season trainer Jessie Alford has a bit on. He and partner Josie Reid are expecting their first child next month, he’s training the only horse in his stable Held To Ransom, and is starting a new job with Woodend Beach trainer Matt Purvis. Things are just busy enough. Alford freely admits he gets nervous when Held To Ransom starts at the races but he need not have worried today at Ascot Park, because the Live Or Die mare won easily in the hands of Brad Williamson. Williamson got the five year old mare in the one one early with Bella Sara making the pace. Held To Ransom was travelling nicely throughout and once balanced up in the home straight she went down to the finishing line to easily win by a length and a half from Folklore. The win was the mare’s third in a row. “I’ve only had her for about six weeks. She needs the beach. She was probably going to go back to Regan Todd’s. I asked if I could buy her. She’s a family horse who just swims instead of jogging, she just loves the beach,” said Alford after the win. Alford hadn’t had any background in harness racing until former Southland trainer/driver,  but Jonny Cox got him involved. “Coxey got me into it. I was helping him out a few years ago and we became friends. I got sick of my office job (selling survey and building equipment) so I thought stuff it, I’ll do something I like. I took a bit of a pay cut and worked for Michael House and Andrew Stuart, whose been really good to me, and I’m about to go to the beach and work for Matt.” Held To Ransom was previously trained by Stuart who managed to get a number of placings out of the mare, but missed out on that elusive win. Alford also holds a junior driver’s license but after driving Held To Ransom a number of times he says he now prefers to hand the reins to other drivers. “For some reason I just don’t drive her that well so I just let other people do it. I’d like to keep her but I’ve got a baby girl on the way in late January. This will help get her a few extra treats which is good.” Brad Williamson with Jessie Alford and Held To Ransom              -photo by Bruce Stewart The win capped off a stellar day for Brad Williamson who won three  of the races  on the ten race card. Brother Nathan also won a race, driving Revitalise for good stable client Neville Cleaver who bought the diminutive Bettors Delight gelding at the sales for $15,000. He received a nice trail and was too good, beating Glenledi Captain by two and half lengths.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Talented trotter Heavyweight Hero will do a U-turn to resume his stop-start career in the Trotter’s Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Switching directions has been the motivator for the 6yr-old’s part owner and former trainer, Todd McFarlane, sending the horse to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. Heavyweight Hero’s problem hooves have been the difference between the trotter showing flashes of brilliance, rather than consistently good form, during his off and on 20 start career. The Muscle Mass trotter’s move south to Butt’s stable has been a case of McFarlane coming up with a cunning plan to work around Heavyweight Hero’s troublesome toes. “Todd had brought him back up at home and had him going pretty good,” Butt said. “But, he has still had a lot of trouble with his feet and he was finding that he was trotting much better left handed than right handed because of it.” “So, he gave me a call out of the blue, to see if I he could send him to me and get some left handed racing in to him.” Heavyweight Hero arrived at Woodend Beach only a matter of days ahead of Sunday’s feature 1609m trot. In that short time, he has impressed his new trainer. “I really like him, he feels like a really nice trotter.” “I definitely think he will win races down here and do a good job.” “Todd said he could have a trial once he got down here, but I saw this race coming up and I thought it could suit him - with a lot of the good trotters away up north.” Heavyweight Hero showed off his trotting talent at the Pukekohe trials before heading south. He impressed when beat rising star Tickle Me Pink in a 2500m trial. That form was franked when the runner-up went a big race when resuming at Alexandra Park off a huge 40m handicap. The trial and his work since arriving gives Butt hope Heavyweight Hero be highly competitive in a field largely made up of race hardened trotters. “His trial up north was pretty good and Todd has done a lot of work with him, so he should be pretty competitive on Sunday,” Butt said. “I took him to work on the grass on Monday and he was really good, so that shouldn’t be a problem, either.” Defending Trotters’ Green Mile champion, Amaretto Sun, is amongst Sunday’s line up. The Ken Ford trained squaregaiter goes in to this year’s edition in similar circumstances to last year. Amaretto Sun disappointed during last year’s New Zealand Cup Carnival, before bursting back in to life in the Methven feature. The Ford stable will be hoping he can do the same this year. Other race contenders will attempt to continue their strong New Zealand Cup week form on Sunday. They include Ruthless Kayla, Globe Trekker and Overzealous. A G’s White Socks being away for his brilliant Interdominion campaign means he will not be able to win his third consecutive Pacers’ Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope have four runners in the 1609m feature that could see them secure a hat-trick of training wins in the race. Their team is made up of Vinnie Rulz, Three Ideas, Homebush Lad and Kendra.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

AS the weather is warming up, so too is master Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, of Bolinda. Alford landed a "fab four" at Kilmore last Thursday afternoon to rocket into the 80s for the current 2019-20 season. And there were some surprisingly juicy odds on offer, much to the delight of his legion of followers. Alford got the money early on the program with The Sparrow Hawk ($5.70) in the claimer. He then continued on his merry winning way in the next two with Allwoods Sunbeam ($3) and Just Anything ($5.20). He wrapped up the meeting with victory in the final event with Calaquendi ($12.10). Alford on 84 wins, has put a gap between himself and his nearest rivals in the Victorian Drivers Premiership. Greg "candyman" Sugars is again doing all the chasing back on 66. Then follows Kima Frenning 50, James Herbertson 38, Kate Gath 37, Jason Lee 34 and Michael Bellman 25. ______________________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN Sunraysia trainer-driver Fred Posgate was badly smashed up in a spectacular race fall at Mildura 11 days ago but says he can't wait to fully recover and get back at it. Posgate is recuperating at home at Coomealla on the NSW side of the Murray River after suffering a broken left ankle, broken right hand and other injuries when he was thrown from his sulky. "I was in the middle of the sandwich with nowhere to go. After I got tossed out two horses went over the top of me. I remember seeing their legs coming toward me, but that's about all," he said. "I think one of them trod on my hand. I was in hospital for three nights and had two lots of surgery." Posgate said his pacer The Verginian had escaped serious injuries, receiving a few cuts and bruises. "I scratched our other runner Puopolo from the next race. That was disappointing because he'd run second previously and we thought he was a big chance," he said. "I've been pretty lucky over the years because the only other time I've been hurt was at Kadina about 15 or 20 years ago when some horses went over me and smashed my right shoulder. "This time it's taken a bit out of me that's for sure, but I will certainly be back, at least as a trainer." Fred Posgate ______________________________________________________________________________________ ANOTHER of the bright young stars emerging from the strong central Victorian harness racing region of Bendigo, Shannon O'Sullivan, continues to bob up in the winner's circle. O'Sullivan, daughter of Hall of Famer, Jim, has been on fire with eight-year-old gelding Feel The Buzz, prepared by Mario Stella. The pair recently made it two on the trot with a Cranbourne victory late last month, followed by a Kilmore win. O'Sullivan certainly has an outstanding affinity with the horse, having jumped in the seat on five occasions for three wins. Feel The Buzz now has a career record of seven wins and 20 placings from 78 starts. Shannon O'Sullivan ______________________________________________________________________________________ THE cups spotlight moves to Cranbourne and then Gunbower this weekend. A cracker-jack field will line-up tonight in the $60,000 Group Two Decron Cranbourne Gold Cup with leading Victorian stables such as Emma Stewart, Lance Justice and Michael Stanley, while NSW is represented by Sonya Smith. Stewart looks to hold the upper hand with the brilliant Hurricane Harley drawing alley two. The in-form Kima Frenning has been booked for the drive. The Gunbower Family Hotel Pacing Cup, worth $14,500, to be staged tomorrow afternoon, probably has a handful of chances. Last-start winner American Zest looks well placed, while Brackenreid, Franks Very Much, Rupert of Lincoln, Our Jimmie, Hashtag and Kerford Road will all have admirers. Michael Stanley, who goes around with Rackemup Tigerpie in the Cranbourne Cup and American Zest the following day at Gunbower   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

By Garrick Knight    Winterfell earned himself favouritism for next Saturday’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final with a dominant New Zealand record win on the third and final night of heats at Alexandra Park. In the hands of co-trainer Mark Purdon, the rangy square-gaiter had too much power for a key rivals Majestic Man and Massive Metro after leading over the 2700-metre journey. It’s been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes from the horse that had earned the distrust of punters through the spring. “He’s picked it all up now and we’re starting to work together, which is a big help,” said Purdon post-race. “I said to Nat (Rasmussen) during the week that he’s almost turned the corner. “He enjoyed bowling around in front and felt good. “He likes this way around and has settled down a lot. He seems a really happy horse at the moment.” His Canterbury breeder and owner, Trevor Casey, was on course to celebrate and was at pains to say how it was just a matter of patience. “It’s always a pleasure to win a race, but to win an Inter Dominion heat – two of them – incredible. “He’s only had 23 starts and only really stepped up to open company this year. “They can win at age group level, but they still need the ringcraft to hit the top grade.” That’s something Winterfell clearly didn’t have. “He did get really keen and he used to hit the cart as well. “We’ve got to have a really long cart on him because he’s got such a long stride. “But Mark said Tuesday night was the best he’s ever settled.” Winterfell continues a brilliant production run for his dam, Una Bromac. “It gives me so much satisfaction because is out of a pacing bred mare that trotted called Una Bromac. “She used to whack a knee and nobody wanted her so I bred from her. “The first one she bred, Harley, was 18 hands, but she’s left four open class trotters after that, including Escapee and Needle.” Casey has sold Una Bromac now “because I had that many trotters, was about to breed from Escapee and it was time to move on an older mare.” Massive Metro, who trailed, fought on well enough for second but never looked like threatening the winner down the straight, while Majestic Man ran third after sitting parked. In the night’s earlier heat, Temporale went back-to-back with another front-running win for Tony Herlihy and trainers, Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis. It was arguably the stronger of the two heats, but went over three seconds slower than the other one thanks to no mid-race pressure on Temporale. Paramount King finished on nicely for second in a sprint home, narrowly ahead of the Australian, Tough Monarch, and Marcoola, who rushed home out wide after going rough when wide on the final bend. Inter Dominion Final field: Winterfell ($3), Majestic Man ($3.40), Marcoola ($4.80), Temporale ($7), Massive Metro ($8.50), Paramount King ($11), Habibi Inta ($18), Tough Monarch ($26), Big Jack Hammer ($41), Destiny Jones ($81), Bonnie Highlander ($101), Valloria ($101). The emergency is Monty Python ($151). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Jeremy Young was a pretty emotional man when Circus Boy won at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The horse he spent three years waiting on and slowly nursing back to health, rewarded him as both the owner and trainer with victory in a $20,000 race. “This would be one of the most satisfying wins of my career,” he told HRNZ post-race. “To have a horse with a broken bone like he did  make it back to the races and win on a night like this, it’s awesome. “I looked after him, now he’s looked after me.” Young took over training Circus Boy three-and-a-half years ago when sent the horse by Canterbury trainer Tony Barron. He had seven starts for a win before injury took hold. “He had a quarter crack that blew out so I gave him nine months out. “He was back in and coming up good a year later then he came off the track at Pukekohe lame one day. “I thought it must have been a stone under his shoe but we took an x-ray and he’d broken a hind pastern.” Young wasn’t in a position to pay for the conventional surgery option, but also couldn’t bear to see the horse put down. “He’s such a lovely, quiet horse and I like his character, so I rung my vet, Ivan Bridge, and asked him what the options were. “Since I couldn’t afford to screw him, Ivan said let’s bandage him up and put him in a box for four-and-a-half months. “So, that’s what we did. “When the time was up, I brought him back out of the box and he was walking sound, but it’s in the back of your mind about whether the leg was going to last” Just happy to have the horse safe and sound, and too scared to try him as a race horse, Young eventually just started working the horse as a guide to the rest of his team. “I used him in front of my young horses. He’s just such a quiet, placid trotter. “After eight months of slowly bringing him up I decided to try him again even though it was always in the back of my mind that it could fracture again.” Everything went smoothly and, this week, after a couple of runs to blow out the cobwebs, he shot up the passing lane to win at bolters’ odds. Young was noticeably emotional post-race and just so proud of the courage the horse has displayed. “It’s just such a pleasure to train this horse. “He’s part of the furniture; he can stay with me and maybe someone will want to ride him later on. “It would be my most satisfying win outside of the Northern Oaks with Best Western. “Because I saved his life and we’ve been through so much together. “It’s just so pleasing.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

A huge night for TeamVic with Cruz Bromac, San Carlo, My Kiwi Mate and Sicario all advancing to the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship, the $500,000 Grand Circuit feature at Auckland's Alexander Park on December 14. And to make the celebrations all the greater, Victorian trotter Big Jack Hammer did enough to book himself a berth in the $150,000 final for trainer David Aiken, reinsman Luke McCarthy and owner Dom Martello.  Cruz Bromac - the Victorian part-owned, sometimes trained, Trans-Tasman warrior - was outstanding in holding off All Stars' stablemate Thefixer and looms as the horse most likely to challenge Ultimate Sniper for the coveted crown. Sicario was enormous tonight in running fourth for trainer Brent Lilley and his proud group of owners, while San Carlo again did plenty of work to earn every point for co-trainers Stephen O'Donoghue and Rebecca Bartley, and finally My Kiwi Mate clawed in to the final with a determined final burst for trainer-driver Craig Demmler. Qualification is a huge result for the teams and their connections, who have invested so much to chase success and now they are only one race away, albeit with a mighty throng of Kiwis between them and the crown. HOW ARE YOU DOING IN TROTSTARS? CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Championship heat five Ultimate Sniper put an exclamation mark on the Inter Dominion pacing heats with a third, stirring three-wide salute that leaves no doubt who will start favourite for the final regardless of draw. All Stars co-trainers Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon produced another one-two, with Ultimate Sniper again outpointing Chase Auckland, but it was the former who shone out and reinforced his standing in his reinswoman's eyes. "(Chase Auckland) had a great trip. He probably should have beaten me (and Ultimate Sniper)," Rasmussen said. "He's had good runs in every heat and he's run second, second, second - he probably should have won one. This guy's been three wide every trip, this is the better horse." Victory came in a fairly torrid affair as the Australian raiders declared they'd not go quietly into the night, with San Carlo and Colt Thirty One advancing in the early stages to lead the peg line and Our Uncle Sam and Conviction the running line. Ultimate Sniper emerged three-wide with a lap to go and Rasmussen had plans to advance to the breeze but it wasn't to be. "Probably just didn't pan out the way I thought, I thought Our Uncle Sam would hand up, especially to this horse, but that's racing," Rasmussen said, with Ultimate Sniper instead holding the three-wide line midfield until nearing the final bend for a last burst. "I just think they were going too hard for me down the back, I wasn't getting involved in that. He can just sit out there, and then when I asked him in the straight he really (went). "He's such a good horse. People don't realise how quick he is as well. He's tough and he's quick." And Rasmussen expects him to take no harm from the run for the December 14 final. "I just felt a bit sorry for him tonight doing all that work, but I just know how well he is." Colt Thirty One ran on well to finish third but that won't be enough to revive his Inter Dominion campaign, with connections instead likely to pursue a consolation final win. San Carlo is expected to wave the TeamVic and Australian flags though on the $500,000 Grand Circuit stage, with the mid-race placing likely to be enough to see him advance. Image Interiors Inter Dominion Trotting Championship fifth heat Temporale looks well and truly back to being a Grand Circuit contender after controlling tonight's fifth Inter Dominion trotting heat and then holding all challenges at bay for a second successive victory. While Paramount King's fantastic campaign continued as he ran second, Tough Monarch's third will see the New South Wales raider advance to a final and Marcoola's fast-finishing fourth will have him a tight price for the big one Saturday week, the credit sits comfortably on the shoulders of Temporale, his reinsman Tony Herlihy and training pair Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett. "We all know how good he can be when his right. Bern and Michelle have done a great job with him at the beach," Herlihy said. "He's in the zone, I know they were getting a bit close to him at the end, but he's done it nice." Outstanding in front, Temporale cruised to the lead and knocked off comfortable quarters before getting home in 27.9 when the chasing trio made their play, but Herlihy said a front row finals draw wouldn't be neccesary for his charger to be in the finish in the $150,000 final. "As we know he's a great follower of speed too if he draws awkward, he's pretty adaptable." Matamata Vet Services Inter Dominion Pacing Championship sixth heat Cruz Bromac led, controlled a steady pace, held at bay Thefixer's final charge and reaffirmed this is anything but a one-horse series. Having switched from trainer Dean Braun, to Kevin Pizzuto, to All Stars Racing, to Amanda Grieve and back to the All Stars amid several years of elite racing, Cruz Bromac's New Zealand Trotting Cup success and now ID19 front running is being shared far and wide, most of all by Geelong co-owners Danny and Jo Zavitsanos. They would have been beaming again tonight after Mark Purdon took control of the race, handing the lead to Thefixer before a retake to keep the pressure where he wanted it. "(Natalie Rasmussen and Thefixer) worked to get past me, but then we backed off the speed quite a bit," Purdon said. "I really wanted to keep the pace on with this guy." There was little pressure from the running line until Bling It On's three-wide surge to the breeze from the back of the field, which would seem to take a heavy toll on the New South Wales pacer who would fade out of contention in the final straight. Conversely, Cruz Bromac only grew stronger, getting home in a 26.7-second final quarter to salute. "He's got better with each round of heats as far as handling the track and tonight he was just superb," Purdon said. "He's going to go second or third favourite in the final." A wall of runners battled for third and all-important championship points, with Triple Eight getting to the line first ahead of fourth-placed Sicario, A Gs White Socks, Another Masterpiece and My Kiwi Mate, whose seventh placing claimed enough points to qualify. Alabar Majestic Son Inter Dominion Trotting Championship sixth heat Winterfell delivered a grand message that the All Stars' trotter's ready to peak with a commanding victory in the night's final heat, which had co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon optimistic the challenging but talented Majestic Son five-year-old had turned a corner. "He likes this way around, but he's settled down a lot too - he seems a real happy horse at the moment," Purdon told Sky Racing post-race. TeamVic's Big Jack Hammer initially led then handed to Massive Metro who ceded to Winterfell and nothing but a second heat victory to the latter looked on the cards from that point forward. Majestic Man man put some pace into the race from the breeze, but Winterfell was cruising and won comfortably from Massive Metro. "He enjoyed rolling around in front," Purdon said. "He had a little pressure from Majestic Man but he felt good. "He's almost turned the corner. It's as if he's picked it all up and starting to work together, which is a big help." Big Jack Hammer boxed on to sixth, which was enough to extend his campaign into the final.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Cleangame (7g Ouragon de Celland-Red Bell) took this week’s finale of the Grand National du Trot Paris-Turf series at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. Off at 1.4/1 from post 15 this J-M Bazire trainee was handled by Eric Raffin for Ecurie J-M Rancoule as he recorded his 30th victory in 47 starts now for 1,130,220€ earned. The Gr. II finale carried a purse of 130,000€and was race raced over 2850 meters with the winner handicapped 50 meters. He was clocked in 1.11.5kr over 2900 meters and drew off late after a mighty surge to the front. The 28/1 Eclat de Gloire (5g Tiego d’Etang) was second for trainer/driver Loris Garcia. The 17/1 Calska de Guex (7f Pomerol de Laumac) took third for trainer Bazire and reinsman David Thomain. 74/1 Belle Louis Mabon and 79/1 Baron du Bourg completed the top five and set up the exact order Q+ payoff of 141,910.80€ earned by 12 winning ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 5,749,916€ and over 10,942,000€ was wagered on the GNT finale race alone. The series top point winner Elvis Madrik was eighth in the finale. Watch the replay by clicking here.  Next year’s GNT schedule is shown below. Calendar 2020 Mercredi 4 mars - Amiens Mercredi 25 mars - Marseille-Borély Mercredi 8 avril - Lyon-Parilly Mercredi 22 avril - Toulouse Mercredi 20 mai - Le Croisé-Laroche Mercredi 3 juin - Laval Mercredi 17 juin - Maure-de-Bretagne Mercredi 5 août - Saint-Malo Mecredi 2 septembre - Châtelaillon-La Rochelle Mercredi 23 septembre - Lisieux Mercredi 14 octobre - Angers Mercredi 4 novembre - Nantes Mercredi 18 novembre - Mauquenchy Dimanche 6 décembre - Paris-Vincennes (Finale) The GNT undercard included finales of the LeTrot Regions Open for three, four and five year olds, each Gr. III events. The five year olds raced for an 80,000€ purse and 17/1 Echo de Chanlecy scored in 1.14.6kr over 2850 meters. Tony LeBeller teamed the five year old gelded son Quinoa du Gers to the victory over 5/10 favorite Earl Simon (5m Prodigious) and driver Franck Ouvrie. The three year old division went for 70,000€ and 3.3/1 Gimy du Pommereux (3m Coktail Jet) won in 1.16kr over the 2850 meter distance with Matthieu Abrivard up. Sylvain Roger trains this one for breeder/owner Noel Lolic. 2.3/1 Golden Visais (3m Repeat Love) was second for Franck Ouvrie. The four year old 80,000€ division was also raced over 2850 meters with the 1.14kr score to 8/10 favorite Fifty Black (4m Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree) and teamster Anthony Barrier for trainer Gregory Thorel. It was the winner’s sixth win in 14 career starts. Ahead this Sunday at Vincennes is the second “B” with the Prix du Boubonnais raced over 2850 meters for 110,000€. 18 starters included Bold Eagle with Eric Raffin up for Sebastien Guarato. Guarato will have four at the start also including the veteran mare Billie de Montfort. J-M Bazire will start five and he will drive Belina Josselyn. On Saturday is the Prix Octave Douesnel for four year olds with the superb Guarato trainee Face Time Bourbon at the start, with Bjorn Goop named to drive. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

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