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Written off and forgotten, will tonight’s greatest race on the Victorian calendar be the night the local resistance returns? The Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup has long been Victoria’s most coveted trophy but the local hopes have been cast into the background behind a marauding Tiger and New Zealand’s brilliant pacers. It’s an all-too familiar tale, with Kerryn Manning and Arden Rooney’s win in 2015 the only Victorian triumph in the past 11 stagings of the $500,000 long distance classic. Five Victorian-trained contestants will step out tonight, of which only Flaming Flutter has won an open-age Group 1, that being the SA Cup back in January 2016. The trainer perhaps most likely to break that sequence is Swedish born Kima Frenning, the reinswoman whose first training experience with Buster Brady has secured country cups and a Hunter Cup start from gate four. “It’s ridiculous,” Frenning said of their rapid rise. “He’s been really, really good. He’s just such a cool horse to be around and I’m really appreciative to have him as my first horse. “I think he’s right up to this task here. It’s just going to depend on how this race is run.” Frenning said the winner of four of his seven Victorian starts was “super quick” and would likely roll forward from the draw, “find a spot and then see what happens from there”. It may well be a similar game plan for San Carlo and, like Frenning, Shepparton trainer Stephen O’Donoghue was optimistic about how his contender was situated for tonight’s pacing grand final. “He’s better than what he was this time last year, there’s no doubt about that,” O’Donoghue said. “He’s a bigger horse, a more mature horse, this is the race I probably set him for. All the way through, this is the one. It means so much to me. The longer distance, he’s a stayer, that’s not going to worry him.” Gate six certainly “makes it a little bit harder” but “you never know, whether we go forward, whether we go back, it’s hard to gauge”. The scenario will likely be simpler for fellow Victorian Wrappers Delight, who’s normally in Frenning’s hands but tonight will be driven by Gavin Lang for trainer David Aiken. Drawn gate eight, Wrappers Delight looks set for a soft pegs run behind Our Uncle Sam and likely leader Tiger Tara and then it’s a matter of taking your opportunities when they present. Similarly, long shot Victorians Flaming Flutter and Cant Refuse, the last of the locals, will likely look for every short cut before attempting to launch for the money late in the race. Michael Howard For Trots Media

Kerryn Manning was tonight inducted into the Caduceus Club of Victoria’s Living Legends, the first female to be bestowed the harness racing honour. The most winning female reinswoman/jockey in the world, Manning was born into the sport and helped change its landscape, with her deep list of achievements celebrated at the MCG tonight as part of the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup barrier draw. The 27th award inductee, Manning joins her father, Peter, who was inducted in 2006. “You work hard and get some results and that helps you each day to do what you love,” Manning said. “I’d just like to thank everybody who helps me. My husband, Grant, who’s a big part of Allbenz Park. He’s the backbone and without him I couldn’t do what I do. “All my staff, all my owners and all my family – my father who’s taught me everything that I needed to know early in life.” Manning left school after Year 10 to work on her father’s Great Western farm, driving her first winner on Gorgeous Gambit in Ararat at age 16 and then the following year won on her metropolitan debut steering Scotty Wiper. They were a sign of things to come, with Manning since amassing 3825 victories from 16,126 starts in the sulky, in addition to launching a training career from 2003-04 that has accounted for 922 wins from 3831 starts. There have been many peaks in her storied career which still, at age 42, has many heights to scale. Chief among them is her Scandinavian tour with Knight Pistol in 1996, when the 21-year-old reinswoman and 10-year-old pacing-bred trotter would overcome their torrid 56-hour trip to win the Norway Harley Davidson Trot, galvanising the pair instant celebrity status among Europe’s trotting-mad audience that would remain today. “I was pretty young and excitable,” Manning said. “I wasn’t expecting to win that day, I was just hoping to trot all the way and it was a bit of a dream come true. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “You couldn’t get a tougher horse than he was, such a trier. He wanted to get out and do it.” International success came again in 2016 when she crossed the Tasman with 2015 A. G. Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney, leading all the way to win the 2016 New Zealand Trotting Cup, the first women to achieve such a feat.   by Michael Howard for Trots Media  

Lazarus has a rival for the biggest Down Under name to tackle some of the world’s best over the next week. Record-breaking Aussie driver Kerryn Manning (pictured) celebrates the 21stanniversary of arguably her most amazing achievement when she heads back to Scandinavia this weekend. It was 1997 when Manning teamed with star Aussie trotter Knight Pistol to win the Harley Davidson Trot in Norway, becoming just the second female to drive a Group 1 winner in Europe. Manning made such an impact with the a win and during an extended stint driving Knight Pistol in Europe, she got a call “out of the blue” from Swedish officials with an all-expenses paid trip across to drive in the Ahsell Legends Invitational Drivers’ race at Solvalla in Stockholm on August 14. “It’s half a lifetime ago, literally, for me. I can’t believe they still remember,” Manning said. “Obviously they do. Fred Crews has just been across there for the Elitlopp with Maori Time and told me there were lots of people asking after me. It’s amazing really. “It was only three or four weeks ago I had a missed call from a Swedish number and I thought it might have been one of scam calls. I listened back to the message and it was the invite to come across for this race. “It’s a busy time with the Breeders Crown just around the corner here, but Grant (Campbell, Manning’s husband) talked me into it. He can’t come, so Mum (Barb Manning) is coming with me instead. “We leave Friday, have Saturday at the big race meeting in Gothenburg then the race I’m in is back in Stockholm (Solvalla) next Tuesday.” Manning was told the race has become an annual highlight for the Swedes since being launched in 2013. “Stig Johansson is the legend over there. He retired from driving to focus on training a few years back, but he makes a one-off comeback every year to drive in this race only,” she said. “My experience over there with Knight Pistol was incredible it will be great to get back over there, even if it’s just for a few days.” Closer to home, Manning said her pair of glamour mares – Ameretto and Our Golden Goddess – could both be Inter Dominion-bound. “Ameretto has proven herself at Grand Circuit level and she’ll definitely go to the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion,” she said. “Ability-wise Our Golden Goddess is right there with Ameretto and she looks to have come back better than ever. The next few runs will shape what we do with her. She’s got the Breeders Crown mares’ free-for-all and then the Breeders Crown Open free-for-all as well. Ameretto won both last year.” Our Golden Goddess has looked fantastic winning both runs this campaign.   Adam Hamilton

An incredible $12,000 was raised at Ballarat and District Trotting Club last night when it hosted its annual Girls Night Out fundraiser. The event has long raised much-needed funds for charity groups that either support or raise funds to fight breast cancer and this year’s supported the Love Your Sister Charity founded by Gold Logie winning actor Samuel Johnson and his beloved late sister Connie. Samuel made a special trip to be on-course on the night, which added a personal touch to an already popular evening. Once the details of the event were released the 380 available dining packages were sold within weeks. The night was a huge success with the $12,000 raised on-course on the night through raffles, sponsorship of races, live auctions in addition to the trotting club donating $10 from every dining package to the cause. Club spokeswoman Belinda Eden said the support of local businesses and the response from the community was a key reason the night was such as success. "The local businesses that either donated prizes or gave up their time to offer their services on the night was such a big reason this fundraiser was such a success and puts into perspective on why clubs play such an important role in our community," she said. Samuel played a key part in the night, entertaining the sold out event with stories, book signings and photos. His energy and passion for the cause was infectious. He also tried his hand at harness racing, participating in the HRV pony trot challenge where he raced against leading reinswomen Kerryn Manning, Kate Gath and Jodi Quinlan, who are also Team Teal ambassadors, the Harness Racing Victoria fundraiser for Women’s Cancer Foundation.   The Trots Victoria

Just a week ago the Ameretto team dared to talk Inter Dominions and now we know why. Beating “the girls” is one thing, but Ameretto took the next step by thrashing all-comers, including ageing champ Lennytheshark, in last night’s Golden Reign free-for-all at Melton. Yes the race was put on for here when Lennytheshark and stablemate Im The Boss blazed through a 41.5sec lead time, but Ameretto zoomed to the front on the home bend to win by 11.1m in a flying 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2240m. Just back on that lead time for a moment – it’s the fastest ever run at Melton and took 0.4sec off what The Gold Ace and Im Themightyquinn blazed in the 2012 Victoria Cup won by Caribbean Blaster. So Im The Boss and Lennytheshark still did well to finish second and third respectively. But this was Ameretto’s night and came just a week after she crunched Australia’s best mares in the Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton. Despite the latest win, trainers Kerryn Manning and Grant Campbell reaffirmed plans to stay in Victoria rather than chasing next month’s Len Smith Mile at Menangle or Queensland winter riches. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Tim Butt opted to stick to Menangle rather than chase the slightly richer Newcastle Mile with his Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal. While the emerging Majordan blew his rivals away at Newcastle last night, My Field Marshal cruised to a 1min52.4sec mile win against a moderate bunch at Menangle. It was just another step towards the Len Smith Mile then Queensland Winter Carnival. ____________________________________________________________________________________ La Grange, by Muscle Hill out of former Rowe Cup winner La Coocaracha, comfortably won the $30,000 NSW 3YO Trotters’ final at Menangle. She was the first leg of a feature Menangle double for trainer Anton Golino and driver Nathan Jack, who also combined to win the $30,000 2YO final with All Cashed Up (Ready Cash-Pepperell Magic). Speedy Victorian mare Red Hot Tooth won the 4&5YO Trot at Menangle for trainer Kari Males and driver Zac Phillips. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Glamour combo Emma Stewart and Chris Alford strutted their stuff in Tasmania last Friday. The main reason for the Launceston raid was the $40,000 Bandbox 3YO Fillies’ final which they won by a cricket pitch with Somebeachsomewhere filly Nostra Beach. Nostra Beach won her qualifier by 49.2m at Launceston on May 14 then worked to front and won the final by 16.4m in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 2200m. She’s won eight of her 14 starts and almost $240,000, mainly via last season’s Australian Gold 2YO final triumph. Just for good measure, Alford and Stewart combined for another four wins on the night, making it five wins from their seven runners. One of their winners worth following is definitely Ride High, a son of Art Major, who has won his only three starts by a thumping aggregate of 69.3 metres. Insiders say the stable thinks Ride High has Group 1 potential. There was also plenty to like about Another Safari’s powerhouse 25m win in the fast-class race where he took more than two seconds off the 2200m standing-start track record. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley didn’t take to regain winning form. He won seven on end and was ranked by many as Australia’s best trotter before a 10m handicap and tough run saw him tire late for a gallant third in the Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship at Melton last Saturday week. Six days later he again did all the work in a strong field and dug deep to win the Group 3 Jack Slack Trotters’ Memorial (2200m) at Ballarat. Tornado Valley just held-off Fabrication, who ended his winning streak six days earlier. The measure of the latest win was the fact Tornado Valley was three-wide for much of the trip in a sharp 1min59sec mile rate in cold conditions. ____________________________________________________________________________________ He is bred to be anything, his trainer “loves” him and the early signs are good. That’s the story of Bletchley Park so far, who is the baby brother of Bling It On and half-sister to Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling. The Mike Reed-trained son of American Ideal made it two wins from three starts when he used to lead throughout for a no-fuss Gloucester Park win last Friday night. Shannon Suvaljko dictated terms in front and out-zipped and equally exciting Bitcoin in a cosy 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2130m. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Still at Gloucester Park and it great to see popular trio Vultan Tin, driver Chris Voak and trainer Phil Costello jag another win. The gelding ran the race of his life when fourth to Lazarus in the Perth Inter Dominion last December. This was his fourth win since. Voak threw everything at Vultan Tin at the start and was able to hold the lead from hot favourite Bettors Fire and that changed the race. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Rumours of Jack Mac’s demise were greatly exaggerated. A sustained absence from the racetrack by last season’s Western Australian juvenile star sparked plenty of talk his career was over or even worse. Just last week Jack Mac’s connections posted on his own twitter handle: “I didn’t die of a snake bite (wtf lol), I haven’t been sold to the US, I didn’t get a positive swab and I haven’t broken down. #RumoursAreFun Will be back soon though.” Soon was last Friday night when the former Kiwi colt returned to racing with an arrogant all-the-way in the $50,000 Group 2 Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park. Trained by Barry Howlett and driven by Chris Lewis, Jack Mac dictated terms in front and really just sprinted home a last quarter in 27.7sec to win by 8.2m. It was his eighth win from as many starts since moving from NZ to WA. He was winless in five NZ starts. Jack Mac was spelled after winning WA’s major two-year-old race, the Golden Slipper, on July 1 last year. He returned to win by a big space at Pinjarra in January, but hadn’t been again until his Gloucester Park last Friday night.   Adam Hamilton

Kerryn Manning’s victory salute said it all. Manning is so rarely demonstrative on the track, but Ameretto’s breakthrough Group 1 win in Saturday night’s $100,000 Queen of the Pacific meant so much on every level. After a string of Group 1 placings, including seconds in the Victoria Cup and Perth’s Mares’ Classic already this season, Ameretto so deserved Group 1 glory. It again cemented her as Australia’s best mare. And it was testimony to the training deeds of Manning and husband, Grant Campbell, to win a gruelling 2760m feature just second-up from a spell. “We thought we were up against it to have her ready, but managed to get that one lead-up run into her and stepped-up her and she responded,” Manning said. “She thrives on hard racing. It was a really strongly run race and she’s so strong she just keeps coming.” It needed something special to get past flying mare Berisari once Nathan Jack bludgeoned his way past Ameretto to lead, but Manning’s mare was up to it. She overpowered a gallant Berisari in the last 100m to win pulling clear by 5.4m in a 1min57.2sec mile rate. Ameretto’s raced 66 times for 26 wins, 19 placings and earned $545,019. Just as she did in 2016, Berisari had to be content with second after winning the first two legs of Victoria’s mares’ triple crown. The Harness Jewels-bound Carlas Pixel ruined her chances by uncharacteristically overracing so badly in the middle stages. She was still second on the home bend, but tired late for seventh. A mare to follow from the race is definitely recent Kiwi import Share The Road who stormed home from last out five and six-wide to finish fifth and was clocked to run a staggering 54.6sec last half in elite company. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Darren Hancock recently farewelled his stable star, veteran trotter On Thunder Road, to the US, but he looks to have found an ideal replacement from obscurity. Former talented young pacer Drop The Hammer ran sixth in the Australian Gold final at two and contested a NSW Derby heat as recently as February, but now he’s changed gait and is making his mark. Drop The Hammer’s four trotting runs have netted two wins and two thirds. It was the latest win, a dominant display in Saturday night’s Group 3 NSW 3YO Trotters’ Foundation final, which highlighted the son of Bettors Delight’s potential. Hancock took the reins for a runaway 25.5m win in a slick 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2300m at Menangle. He left talented Kiwi-breds Castlereagh and One Muscle Hill in his wake for the minor placings. Another highlight of the meeting came when flying former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter sparkled with a return to winning form in a 1min51.7sec mile. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley’s seven-race winning streak came to an end when fourth in the Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship at Melton on Saturday night. The combination of a 10m handicap and doing the work outside the leader took its toll late and Tornado Valley weakened for a close fourth behind handy sit-sprinter Fabrication. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Former Hunter Cup winner Bling It On’s return didn’t go as punters hoped. Things looked good midrace when Luke McCarthy whizzed around the field from last to first, but the improved, race fit and in-form Match In Heaven moved around to put some pressure on. Bling It On, first-up since February’s Hunter Cup, ran out of condition and weakened to finish sixth, while Match In Heaven found plenty to stave-off KerryAnn Turner’s stablemates Aztec Bromac and Celestial Arden in a 1min55.1sec mile rate for 2300m. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ You can only wonder how good Illawong Armstrong would have been with better manners. Jodi Quinlan’s now six-year-old has shown heaps of talent since his juvenile days, but his headstrong nature has proven a nightmare at times for Quinlan. After being winless in his first six starts this season, he son of Majestic Son made it back-to-wins when he posted the 17th win of his 52 start career at Bendigo last Friday night. Despite almost ripping Quinlan’s arms out at times once he found the lead, Illawong Armstrong – now a six-year-old – found plenty to stave-off a late surge from Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter Kingdom Come to win by a half-head in a slick 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2150m. Illawong Armstrong’s biggest win was the Breeders Crown 4YO final and he’s now just a few dollars short of $200,000 in earnings. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ It was career win number 37 for Kyle Harper’s injury-plagued open-class star Bettors Fire at Gloucester Park last Friday night. And the win took him past a remarkable milestone of $750,000 in career earnings. The race was all about the start and Harper threw everything at his nine-year-old veteran star to narrowly find the front from gate six and that was effectively the race. Harper “pinched” a 32.3sec first quarter of the last mile then ripped home in 55.4 and 27.3sec to beat The Bucket List by 1.8m in a 1min56.1sec mile rate for 2130m. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ No wonder respected trainer David Jack was eyeing-off a possible Harness Jewels raid with baby trotter Moreton Bay at one stage. The Majestic Son colt toyed with his rivals to win the Group 1 Vicbred Platinum 2YO colts and geldings trotting final at Melton on Saturday night. Moreton Bay led from the pole and gave nothing else a chance in a 2min1.1sec mile rate for 1720m. He’s raced five wins and won all three of them when he hasn’t made a gallop. Betterthancheddar gelding Betternbetter was even more impressive winning the Group 2 Platinum final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. In an epic finish, Betternbetter did all the chasing and nabbed the leader Im Sir Blake to win by a neck with 20m away to third-placed Young Rooster in a slick 1min54.3sec mile rate for 1720m.   Adam Hamilton

New Zealand and Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney has been retired.  Another setback with a tendon injury which has plagued him for two years was enough for owner Merv Butterworth to retire the great stayer.  “After two years of operations, intensive rehabilitation and TLC, we came to the realisation that once we got him 99 per cent, he may have injured his tendon again,” Butterworth said.  “The top horses like ‘Rooney’ over-exert themselves hence their injuries and short life on the track.  “He is now in retirement as a fully fit $1 million-plus stake-earner and winner of many Cups in NZ and Australia.  “He is at home where he will be loved and well cared for.”  Arden Rooney, who started his career with the All Stars’ in NZ before switching to Kerryn Manning, raced 50 times for 21 wins, 15 placings and earnings of $1,070,230.  He won the 2015 Hunter Cup and the NZ Cup on November 10 of the same year.  Arden Rooney hasn’t raced since a 10th in the NZ free-for-all just three days after his NZ Cup win   Adam Hamilton

Fortune favours the brave as they say. And that’s how best to describe the success Kiwi trainer Brad Mowbray is having in Sydney with his exciting mare Delishka. Beating the All Stars’ barn at home in NZ is hard enough and so many Kiwis now don’t even bother travelling to Aussie to try take on the best here plus the All Stars’ raiders. Mowbray took-up the challenge and with stunning results so far. Next stop is the big dance, the Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on February 24. Delishka opened her Aussie campaign with a sound but luckless seventh in the Ladyship Cup in Melbourne, but hasn’t looked back since. She backed-up a week later to win in a 1min52.8sec mile at Menangle, then went to another level courtesy of a superb Blake Fitzpatrick drive to win the Sibelia Stakes in a 1min51.1sec mile last Saturday night. Delishka beat reigning Ladyship Mile winner, the All Stars’ A Piccadilly Princess, in the process. A Piccadilly Princess was given the run of the race in the one-by-one trail by Luke McCarthy, but couldn’t match Delishka’s “ping” once Fitzpatrick got her clear of the leader’s back. It was a hotly run race with Partyon leading and copping plenty of pressure from Shane Tritton’s tough grey mare My Rona Gold, who fought on well for fourth. Partyon wilted under the pressure and finished last. ________________________________________________________________________________________ LAZARUS didn’t even need to race at Menangle last Saturday night for us to be reminded how good he is. Just a week after Tiger Tara was crushed into submission by Lazarus in the Hunter Cup, he did the same to a solid but weaker field in the free-for-all at Menangle. It was a win which ranked up with Tiger Tara’s best. He drew the outside over a mile, worked forward to sit parked and kept the pressure on throughout in a blistering 1min50.2sec mile. Classy sit-sprinter Mach Doro trailed the leader, got an inside run to draw level with Tiger Tara, but Kevin Pizzuto’s warhorse was simply too strong. His splits for the mile were 26.9, 28.0, 27.6 and 27.7sec. Next stop is another possible clash with Lazarus in one of the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton is planning to have four runners in the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. Former top class Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson, who went like a jet winning at Menangle last Saturday week, looks his top seed. “We’re also going to run Yayas Hot Spot, My Alpha Rock and Anything For Love,” he said. Anything For Love made it five wins from his past six starts when he led and sparkled in a 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was like the good old days for Kerryn Manning at Melton last Friday night. There was a time, when driving was basically her sole focus, when Manning would regularly dominate race meetings. She did just that, winning four of the eight races at Melton, including the fast-class race with her outstanding former Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess. Our Golden Goddess has now won all six starts for Manning this campaign and heads to Sydney nominal favourite for the Group 1 Ladyship Mile on Saturday week. Last Friday she led from the pole and scored in a very slick 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. Manning’s four driving wins came for four different trainers. While he trains Our Golden Goddess, it would have been especially pleasing to win a feature juvenile race, the Premiere Stakes, aboard Scheu Creek for her father, Peter. Scheu Creek, who led throughout and won easily in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 1720m, provided an early and important win for his sire, former Hunter Cup and Chariots of Fire winner Caribbean Blaster. Manning’s other wins came aboard Lance Justice’s Love Ina Chevy, best known as the pacer who cheated death for many days after a snake bite, and Graham Lee’s trotter Illcryifhewinds. Just for good measure, Manning’s win all at to the growing “Teal Pants” promotion booty. She, Kate Gath and Jodi Quinlan are the Victorian representatives for the cause. Manning’s success rolled-on to Echuca last Saturday night when she won the Group 3 Echuca Cup with classy former Kiwi pacer Motu Meteor. The gelding wouldn’t have been out of place in the Chariots of Fire on the same night, but didn’t qualify. So Manning took him to Echuca instead where he led from gate two and won comfortably in a 1min59.9sec mile rate for 2560m. ________________________________________________________________________________________ KYLE Harper keeps marvelling at his classy old pacer Bettors Fire. The nine-year-old is still good enough to upstage WA’s best with the right draw, so he was a moral when he drew one and led a moderate free-for-all field at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Harper led the gelding slide along in a 1min54.7sec and burned down the back in 27.2sec before holding-off a late surge from Our Jimmy Johnstone to win well. It was back on December 29 when he led and upset Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull in the Village Kid Sprint. Bettors Fire’s now raced 90 times for 34 wins, 20 placings and earned close to $700,000. The other Gloucester Park feature, the $50,000 Group 2 Daintys Daughter Classic (2130m), went to father-son team Gary Hall Sr and Gary Jr in an upset with Art Major filly Slick Artist. She overcame a back row draw to comfortably beat WA’s best fillies in a key indicator race for the upcoming WA Oaks. ________________________________________________________________________________________ MUCH-TRAVELLED veteran Our Jericho snared another feature win in his new home state last Saturday night. Now trained in South Australia by Les Harding, the eight-year-old narrowly but impressively won the Gawler Cup. Our Jericho started his career in NZ, had long stints in Victoria and WA before returning briefly to Victoria and now to SA. He’s now raced 73 times for 16 wins, 14 placings and earned over $220,000.   Adam Hamilton

Two absolute superstars of harness racing have joined the field for the prestigious Lexus of Macarthur Lady Drivers' Invitational Race at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Miracle Mile night, Saturday, February 24. Natalie Rasmussen and Kerryn Manning will be driving in this annual event, which has a history of showcasing the best lady drivers from all around Australasia. Many of the stars are based in New South Wales these days, which gives the locals a great chance of matching their skills with two of the most decorated women drivers the sport has ever had. Club Menangle and Lexus of Macarthur today announced the field for this year's race would consist of: Amanda Turnbull Lauren Tritton Ashlee Grives Martelle Maguire Ellen Rixon KerryAnn Turner Angela Hedges Emma Turnbull Kerryn Manning Nat Rasmussen While Rasmussen and Manning confirmed their attendance, the NSW-based drivers were selected from last season's premiership, except for Martelle Maguire, who is the reigning champion from last year's feature. Of course, if one of the drivers does have a horse engaged as a trainer, there are three more enthusiastic young drivers waiting to step into the spotlight and take their places. They are: Madi Young, Mckaylar Barnes and Laura Spencer. On a star-studded night's harness racing, featuring the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile and an incredible five more Group One features, the $25,000 Lexus Lady Drivers Invitational will attract plenty of interest as our best women drivers battle for supremacy. Michael Court

Australian Pacing Gold has kicked off tonight’s (Saturday 27th of January) stellar Tabcorp Park Melton program on a high, winning the first Group One of the harness racing program. Leading throughout from the pole, Our Golden Goddess proved too slick for her rivals on her way to victory in the Ladyship Cup. Stretching her winning streak to five, the five-year-old rated 1:53.3 over 1720 metres for trainer-driver Kerryn Manning. Our Golden Goddess was purchased, and is owned, by Merv and Meg Butterworth, who selected the mare at the 2014 APG’s Melbourne Sale. To be given a few easy days, Our Golden Goddess will then be targeted at next month’s Ladyship Mile at Menangle. “I’m not sure what there is between now and then, but we’ll be heading to the Ladyship Mile,” Butterworth said. “I know she will have a few easy days, then start working towards the Mile.” The multiple feature race winner is by Art Major from Localize, with the dam presented in next week’s Ladbrokes APG Melbourne Sale by another daughter also by Art Major. APG Media  

On Wednesday evening champion Victorian harness racing horsewoman Kerryn Manning was interviewed on Western Australia's only dedicated equestrian radio programme Talking Horses. The weekly programme which has been running for nine years is hosted by leading Western Australian equestrienne Diane Bennit from the Hamilton Hill studios of 91.3 SportFM. Kerryn gave listeners an insight into her remarkable career which will continue at Gloucester Park on Friday night when she competes in two heats of the Sky Racing International Drivers Series where her rivals will include Canadian World Champion James MacDonald and American champion Marcus Miller who arrived in Perth last night. Talking Horses has some 60,000 downloads of its podcasts each week and the interview with Kerryn Manning can heard by clicking on this link Alan Parker  

Former Kiwi pacer Stroke Of Luck is the Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup champ for 2017 after an all-the-way win in today’s harness racing feature for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old son of Major In Art/Bonton Lady was heavily backed into $1.6 and held off second-placegetter Keep On Rocking at the completion of the 2150-metre race, with Coldplay Road up from three-back-the-pegs for third. Manning rated the Merv and Meg Butterworth-owned winner of seven races in New Zealand a treat, guiding him through a 62.3secs first half after copping some early heat to hold the front. Stroke Of Luck upped the ante down the back straight as Spiritwriter challenged strongly (28.7secs third quarter) and got home in 27.9secs to rate 1:58.3. Keep On Rocking was given the perfect trip by Nathan Jack and the Geoff Webster-trained five-year-old comfortably held second place, while Julie Mifsud-trained Coldplay Road continued his super form with a third placing for reinsman Phillip Walters. Animated finished fourth and Spiritwriter was fifth. Stroke Of Luck’s win means the Trots Country Championship is now a five-way tie with Lennytheshark, San Carlo, Messini and My Field Marshal all alongside today’s victor on four points in the race for the $25,000 end-of-season bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Pocket rocket secures Caldows third St Arnaud Trotters Cup John Caldow won his third St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup today aboard six-year-old gelding My Skypocket. Backed into $1.80 favourite, My Skypocket stepped safely from behind the tapes at the 2520-metre start before powering to the lead early. The son of Skyvalley out of Pocket Fantasy ran quarters of 31.6 and 31.4 to open the last mile on the 800m St Arnaud track and Caldow was looking around for his challengers after a 29.2secs third split. Video: Re-live My Skypocket's St Arnaud Trotters Cup win Ainthatrightmacca boldly emerged wide out and powered into second place, but My Skypocket had plenty in reserve and kicked on through a 29.7secs last quarter for a 2.2m win in a mile rate of 2:06.0.   It was My Skypocket’s eighth career triumph, his career stake earnings edging towards $50,000 as a result of the victory. It was also the trotter’s first start for the Caldow operation, having done all his prior racing for the Mick Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy stable. Today’s win was the third time Maree and John Caldow have captured the St Arnaud squaregaiting feature, having previously won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with Posimistic. My Skypocket moves to equal first on the Maori's Idol Points Tally alongside Sparkling Success, Vincennes and Cyclone Lucky Seven. The Maori's Idol Points Tally at season's end receives a $10,000 bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Loyalty means everything to champion trainer-driver Kerryn Manning. That’s why she won’t be at Melton when she has two runners in the rescheduled $200,000 Group One Victoria Cup (2240m) at Melton on October 14. Many months back – long before Harness Racing Victoria shifted the Victoria Cup to its new timeslot – Manning gleefully accepted the Maid of Honour role at the wedding of harness identities Vic Frost and Gail Geeson.  And nothing will change that.  Manning expects to have her two stable stars, Mr Mojito and Ameretto, in the Victoria Cup.  “Obviously the timing isn’t great where they moved the Victoria Cup to, but I’m comitted to the wedding and Vic and Gail are great people. That’s where I’ll be,” Manning said. Manning spoke with Ameretto’s former trainer-driver and part-owner Ashlee Grives about partnering the mare in the Victoria Cup.  “Ash didn’t say no, but didn’t confirm it either. I’d love her to drive her mare, she knows her better than anyone does,” she said.  Grives confirmed via social media last Saturday night that she would take the drive.  Ameretto looked fantastic winning her sixth race on end in a scorching 1.51.5 mile rate for 1720m in the Group Three Tailamade Lombo at Melton last Friday night.  “She did it pretty comfortably,” Manning said. “She did so much work early, I didn’t want to go for home too early. She’s going so well she deserves a go at a race like the Victoria Cup.”  The key was Ameretto’s win against “the boys” in the Group Two Breeders Crown Graduate free-for-all in late August.  Manning is uncertain whether she will run the mare again before the Victoria Cup.  “The only option is the Smoken Up Sprint in two weeks, but that means running against the likes of Lennytheshark, My Field Marshal and others,” she said. “She’s really fit and might not need another run. I’ll wait and see.”  It’s a similar situation with Mr Mojito, who also ran blistering time winning his third race on end in the free-for-all last Friday night. His mile rate was 1.52.0 for 1720m.  “He’s improving with every run, but he is still green. He’s an M5 now and has only raced 20 times. I’m not sure he’ll ever grow out of some of quirks,” Manning said.  “He’s such a bad steering horse at times. And one day he works really well in training, but the next he feels like an average maiden.  “But he’s putting it together consistently at the races and should get a start in the Victoria Cup on what he’s done in his past few runs.  “I might take him straight into the Cup now. But the option of the Smoken Up Sprint is there for him as well.”  Manning’s husband and co-trainer Grant Campbell has first dibs on the Mr Mojito drive in the Victoria Cup, but no final decision has been made.  Beyond the Victoria Cup, both Mr Mojito and Ameretto could head to Perth.  “Ameretto will go for the mares’ races over there. I’m also taking Motu Meteor for the four-year-old races,” Manning said.  “Mr Mojito is not certain because he’s still raw and the (tight) track must be some query, but if we take Ameretto and Meteor, then we will probably take Mr Mojito across as well.  “Let’s see how he goes against the really good ones in the Victoria Cup and then make a decision.” Adam Hamilton

Airborne Ameretto is taking the fast-class pacing ranks by storm for Great Western harness racing trainer-driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old Million Dollar Cam-Eyes Of Courage mare completed a five-straight picket-fence winning form line for Manning tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton with an explosive win in the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers Free for All. Following last weekend’s brilliant Mares Graduate FFA Breeders Crown win at Bendigo, Ameretto lifted another notch tonight and the big question now is where to next? “There’s Perth … where there’s a nice mares’ race there,” Manning said post-race, adding, “We’ll have to sit down and have a think”. Ameretto tonight held off a fast-finishing Tee Cee Bee Macray by 1.9m in a mile rate of 1:53.3, with San Carlo running in third place 2.3m behind the winner. “It gets harder from here,” Manning said. “But if she keeps going like that she’ll be hard to beat in whatever she lines up in.” The last mare to win the Breeders Crown Graduate Free for All was Make Mine Cullen in 2012 (1:58.0).  And for the sake of including this stat, the last mare to win the Inter Dominion was Jodie’s Babe in 1989 (Stella Frost won Inter in 1971, Richmond Lass in 1969 and Robin Dundee in 1965). “It was a really quality field tonight. To (win) in such good fashion just shows how good a horse she is,” Manning said. “She’s a very easy horse to handle at home. It’s a pleasure to have her.” Manning was sent the mare by trainer Ashlee Grives in New South Wales. The Orange Agent, the star Kiwi mare who dominated this year’s Mares’ Triple Crown at Melton, went 1:53.7 in winning the Alabar Angelique Club Cup over 2240m at Melton in May. Messini ran on well for fourth tonight and My Kiwi Mate finished fifth. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Hosting students on work experience or Structured Work Place Learning (SWL) provides staff of the Bendigo Harness Training Centre with some of their most rewarding experiences, says the centre's Executive Officer Vicki Moro. This year the centre has hosted a SWL student from Bendigo Senior Secondary College for a week and two students from local schools for one week during work experience placement. "The Training Centre has really enjoyed having Stacie and other work experience students here learning with us," Ms Moro told Trots Media. Work experience student Stacie Carbone took the opportunity to share her thoughts on being involved in the trots industry for a week and write about her future career ambitions. My name is Stacie Carbone. I am 15 years old and come from Axedale, just out of Bendigo. I go to school at Bendigo South East College and play footy for a girls' under-18 team. I have been around horses all of my life. My dad and grandparents train and drive horses. My grandpa, Vin, and dad, Mick, have taught me so much over the years about working horses. My dad and pa only train a few horses at the moment and do it as a hobby. I have been involved in pony trots for the last five years. I wanted to work with horses and learn new things from different people, which is why I wanted to do work experience at the Harness Training Centre Bendigo. I had also heard that all the people at the centre are great to learn from and have very good experience around horses. That is definitely true! The best thing I have learnt so far is how to read an Australian Standardbred freeze brand. The best thing I have seen is how much the horses get cared for and how well they are treated. The facilities and environment are great. Oh, and learning to remove and tack on a shoe with the centre's farrier, Nathan Monk, was pretty good too! My plan is to become an equine vet nurse and an equine AI technician. I also plan to go for my C Grade drivers' licence and then train a few of my own horses down the track. My favourite driver is Greg Sugars but I like to watch Kerryn Manning too. My favourite horse would be Lennytheshark at the moment. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in a similar placement please contact Vicki Moro at HRTC Bendigo on 0447 032 770 or vicki.moro@hrtcbendigo.com.au   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER  

They've come from all over for a swing at Sunday’s Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby, determined to salute in front of a boisterous crowd. New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety’s trotter Chevron Express and fellow Kiwi President Roydon, who is now in Kerryn Manning’s stable, will bring some international flair when they have an almighty crack at the $75,000 feature. Chevron Express is among a fearsome group of fillies who have amassed for the three-year-old feature, who equate for seven of the 13 Derby entrants and include Anton Golino’s Cardigan-based trio Dance Craze, Une Belle Allure and Nieta. For Manning, Sunday presents a chance to capture one of the few pieces of silverware that has thus far escaped her grasp. President Roydon has spent six weeks with team Manning, having previously raced with Mark Purdon’s all conquering All Stars team over the Tasman, where only highly-rated Enghien prevented him breaking through at Group 1 level. The Great Western trainer-driver held the reins as the gelding made his Australian debut at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, when President Roydon led and did the bulk of the work only to be picked off by Garshaway in the dying stages. “He’s a funny horse,” Manning said of President Roydon, who has drawn gate two for Sunday’s Group 1. “He’s not the most wonderful to drive, he’s a bit green and awkward at times, but he tries really hard.” Manning said he should improve from his Australian debut, when he “over raced a little bit in front and was found wanting a little in the last 50”. “He hasn’t had a start for a month and the run would have done him good and he seems to have pulled up well. The distance (2690m) will suit, he’s a strong horse.” The “good little sit-sprint horse” that whooshed past her was improving Garshaway, Myola-based trainer Graeme McDermott’s gelding who has drawn gate 13. He will be driven by New South Wales’ Leigh Sutton, who took the steer after Manning was unavailable due to her commitment with President Roydon and saluted at Melton at $19.60 on the TAB. “I come down with my trotter (last Friday) so they offered me the drive and said if he goes all right I can drive him in the Derby,” Sutton said. “It will be nice to have a drive in a Group 1 race.” The Victoria Trotters Derby takes place at 3.54pm. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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