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A decisive move laid the platform for a commanding victory and with that San Carlo and reinswoman Rebecca Bartley launched the Trots Country Pacing Championship in fine style. The Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup winning moment came with two laps to go when Bartley guided San Carlo from the rear of the field to the breeze, daring to challenge Buster Brady for the front of the running line and from there 'Murray' was able to dictate and the claim the bulk of the $80,000 cup stakes. The victory was also a warning shot for his rivals ahead of the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup on October 12, with connections confirming that will be San Carlo's next major stop before a New Zealand campaign. It promises to be an extraordinary start to Australasia's Grand Circuit season with competition for places tight, particularly after Cruz Bromac and The Storm Inside also both saluted on the Kilmore undercard tonight and flagged an intent to chase a Victoria Cup. But for now the want for future glories can wait as Bartley and co-trainer Stephen O'Donoghue bask in the success of a Kilmore Cup, a prize the latter said he hadn't dared dream of. "I was just happy to have a runner in the cup to be honest, that was the biggest thrill," O'Donoghue told Trots Vision. "I didn't expect to win tonight, honest to God that was the furthest thing from my mind. I just thought we get through the race, hopefully he pulls up well and we go from there but to run 27.2 down the back and still fight on - huge thrill." O'Donoghue gave plenty of credit to training partner and reinswoman Bartley. "I think this horse has made her as far as her confidence and realising that she can hold her own in that class of drivers," he said. "The last two years she's taken the next step, thanks to San Carlo really, he's given her that confidence and belief in herself." Bartley has piloted San Carlo for all 49 of his starts which have produced 29 wins, none richer than tonight's. "To be honest I knew he'd go good but I didn't know if he could win it or not, that was a really big thrill, really big surprise," Bartley said. Despite San Carlo being first up from a spell Bartley showed little hesitation in thrusting the nine-year-old into the throng mid-race, advancing to the breeze in what would prove the decisive move. "He's been working really good at home and we thought he might have needed the run," Bartley said. "When Buster was there and it felt like they were (going) slow I thought, 'oh, I'm not going to do any good back here so I may as well give it a go'. It was a surprise that Kima (Frenning) handed up, which was really good, he was really on the charge, he was on the bit. "He was quite fresh in the warm up and I thought I would have had trouble holding him, but he relaxed pretty good. When we hit the front and I sort of looked at the TV (big screen) and we had cleared away and I couldn't believe it." There were also plenty of smiles in the Cruisin Around camp after he grabbed the early ascendancy in the Maori's Idol Trotting Championship with a well-timed win in the MC Labour Kilmore Trotters Cup, having been placed perfectly by reinsman Chris Alford and produced a winning burst to register 3.2-metre win. Cruisin Around found Magicool's back in the running line off the standing start and it would prove the perfect platform for the sprint home, with the Brent Lilley trained trotter winning by just over three metres from placegetters Magicool and Maori Law. "He raced nice tonight, slotted in nice and early on the back of the favourite who carted him everywhere he needed to go," Alford told Trots Vision. "He might not be up with the Tornado Valleys and them, but in these sort of races (he) can do a little bit of work as well. He was good tonight and hopefully that gives them a bit of confidence."   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

Priority one is to get through the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup unscathed, but a top four finish could lay the foundations for a grand season for Craig Demmler and his My Kiwi Mate. The 2018 Kilmore Cup proved a nightmare for Demmler after My Kiwi Mate disappointed when running seventh only to later be found suffering an injury that would put a line through ID18 dreams. But, 12 months on, 'Kiwi' is back and Demmler told Inside Word podcast a strong performance would not only strengthen his claims for a Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup start but give strength to a New Zealand Inter Dominion campaign. "He was a bit stiff last year," Demmler said. "He went amiss in (the Kilmore Cup). They all thought on face value he was disappointing, but that was where he ended up having that injury ... when he fractured his pastern. "It's been a long journey back to get where we have today. Every race to me, I just take it as we are lucky to have him back. Some of his runs to date have been terrific." My Kiwi Mate has had three starts back this campaign including a last start third in the VHRC Classic, when he loomed likely at the turn. It seems a good foundation for Thursday night's Kilmore Cup, where Demmler said the 2690 metres might prove telling.  "There's going to be some that we don't know (if they) can run over the distance," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see how many can shape up ... that's going to sort the men (from) the boys. "I know 'Kiwi' can, and Buster Brady's the same, he can (as can) Shadow Sax - they're all proven. But these new kids on the block, it's going to be really interesting to see who steps up to the next level." My Kiwi Mate will emerge from gate three providing emergency, Forty Thieves, fails to get a start and has been listed a $13 chance with TAB.com.au. Demmler said he would be looking to go forward before settling in the running line and biding his time for a late burst, admitting a good result would be necessary to earn a start in the October 12 Victoria Cup. "He needs to finish pretty high up there on Thursday night to get a spot," Demmler said. "There's a lot of horses who will be trying to get into that race and there's only 12 spots there for it.  "My main aim down the track, I may take him to the Inter Dominion over in Auckland. There's a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then."   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media

Im The Boss proved last night he is without doubt the boss of the country cups when powering to an all the way win in the 55th running of the Group 2 Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup. Last season’s Cobram, Mildura and Shepparton Cup champion, who was purchased as a claimer and has since also produced a narrow second at Warragul, went straight to the front and never saw another rival after that, leading all the way for the 2690m journey, as he did at Mildura. In what has been a stellar 12 months for Kima Frenning in the sulky, it was another big race success for the humble driver while it was trainer David Aiken’s second winner in the race after Lennytheshark saluted in 2017. Despite drifting all week in the TAB Fixed Odds market, Im The Boss was able to spear off the mobile at the start and see off all challengers. An emotional Kima Frenning was absolutely ecstatic on returning. “I have got absolutely no words for this horse, he has just done so much for me and he just came to end of his preparation last campaign and to come back and win a race like the Kilmore Cup like this against horses like that, he is just ridiculous,” Frenning told Trots Vision. “When he is at his best he just goes to the front and keeps going and that is the way he races and that is what he does, he just knows when it’s raceday. “At home we can barely get him to go because he is just so lazy and then he just knows exactly what to do when he comes out in the races. “I was a bit worried as he’d been pulling a bit and then I saw I had My Kiwi Mate outside of me and Bettermatch out three wide, but he just felt so strong on the bit and he just keeps boxing on and that is his best asset and he’s just got the biggest heart ever." It was one of two wins on the night for Frenning, who steered Makes Every Scents to win the J & A Mazzetti Pace, while trainer David Aiken had a training treble as he trained both of those horses and also Aldebaran Crescent to win the last. Aiken indicated the next target for Im The Boss would be the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on Saturday October 13 at Tabcorp Park Melton. Three Ways defied his ridiculous $41 odds to run another great race in second place while Bad Billy continued his good form under these conditions running third. Keep On Rocking enjoyed an economical run as expected and got through along the Jet Roofing Sprint Lane for fourth position ahead of Magical Marn. The two Sydney-Siders Ellmers Image and Bettermatch never really got into contention and finished sixth and eighth and My Kiwi Mate, who started a well backed favourite, weakened in the home straight to be beaten 13m into seventh spot after sitting outside the leader for the last two laps. The other feature on the program was the Group 3 McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup, which was won in fine style by Father Christmas, who proved once again in a country cup he was the best stayer. He won unextended by 10m for Greg Sugars over Margaret Ruth, who flashed home for second and Kyvalley Barney in third. La Grange was able to continue his progression by taking out the TAB Early Bird Special Trotters Handicap in a breeze, Winkanditsover caused a slight boilover in the Momentum Gaming Pace knocking out Diamonds N Cash and A Victor continued her progression in the Carlton & United Breweries Pace. It was a good crowd packed in for fine entertainment including photos and autographs with AFL stars Josh Jenkins and Michael Hurley. The next and second stage of the 2018/19 Trots Country Cups Championship will be on Friday October 19 at Swan Hill for the Group 3 Swan Hill Pacing Cup and Swan Hill Trotters Cup.   Luke Humphreys

The Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup kicks off a bold new era Thursday night and has drawn one of the more open editions of the race in recent memory. The Group 2 showpiece will be the 55th running of one of Australia’s greatest races, which will be race seven on the card and the first of 25 cups in the 2018-19 Trots Country Cups Championship. Andy Gath is one of three trainers with two runners in the field, preparing Burnaholeinmypocket and Three Ways, while Glenn Douglas has readied Bernie Winkle and Shortys Mate and David Aiken Im The Boss and Audi Hare. The cup's preferential barrier draw was arranged on prizemoney earned in the last four starts, which hasn’t advantaged Gath with Three Ways, who has been racing very consistently, drawn the back row and Burnaholeinmypocket outside the front row. The latter looks to be getting back towards peak form and might well deliver Gath's second Kilmore Cup, which True Cam won in 2004 when beating Sokyola. He said Kate Gath would drive Three Ways and, in Alex Ashwood's absence, it would be a pick of the available drivers, with leading lights Chris Alford, Gavin Lang and John Caldow among those seemingly yet to have a designated drive. “I like the concept of the barrier draw being done on the last four starts prizemoney, rather than the metro class, and it should prove to be a good point of where you’re at rather than a historical metro class form," Gath said. “The draw probably hurts Burnaholeinmypocket, he has had bad draws most of his life and this is the third time in a row he has drawn the outside of the front row, so it’s not ideal. "But it’s not a fast front row, he has got really good gate speed. We didn’t come out quick on him the other night as we knew he had no chance of crossing Audi Hare or Love Ina Chevy, but he does run the gate pretty quick and I think it is probably a race where he will probably come out pretty solid and try and get a forward position. “He has run over the distance (2690m) a couple of times before and has gone average, but both of them were on really hot days and he has a bit of a breathing issue. When it is really hot he doesn’t perform at his best. He has probably got an each-way hope, it’s a pretty even race." The stable considers its main chance to be Three Ways, who draws the second row, so tactics will likely differ to recent runs. “We know from the draw he is not going to lead, obviously, but sitting off the speed he has put in some really good runs and he won a race at Ballarat in nearly track record time with a cold sit against Hughie Green," Gath said. “I don’t think any of them, maybe apart from My Kiwi Mate, could probably make their own luck and win. I think (Three Ways) is going to have to have a bit of luck from that draw and if things go right he is a winning chance at the top of his game." Gath said Three Ways had gotten stronger as he got older and was handling his workload better, but in regards to the longer distance, "you don’t know until you go over it”. “His 2200m record is pretty good, but if it’s like last year - a last man standing affair when there wasn’t many in it - we don’t really know. He will probably be driven with a sit, but we’ll drive to tempo." Gath also shared his thoughts on his Cup rivals. “I thought My Kiwi Mate was really good last start when he won, he is a Bendigo Cup winner, he is a very seasoned and well performed horse at this level, but he is not the only one. "Bettermatch was fantastic when he won at Menangle, as it looked like he’d just joined in, but how you line up his form coming off a long spell and in this race is pretty hard to say. "Obviously Im The Boss is a proven country cups horse too, but he is first-up, so it’s going to be pretty tough for him to win this type of race." Gath has two more runners on the night in the classy Star Of Memphis in race six and the very progressive Diamonds N Cash, a half-brother to former top class stablemate Diamonds N Furs. “Unfortunately in the 4YO & 5YO Championship Star Of Memphis galloped and knocked his tendon and bruised it really bad and kept him off the scene for virtually 12 months. He has always been a good horse, again he has drawn eight, but in saying that he has probably drawn behind the eventual leader, Makes Every Scents, which obviously brings him into the race in a pretty even field. “(Diamonds N Cash) has done a really good job since he's been here, he is a horse that only started racing as a three-year-old in New Zealand, so this is virtually his first racing preparation. “Win, lose or draw he’ll go for a bit of a break after this race and then get him ready for the 4YO & 5YO Championship on November 10. He has a really good future and we’ll put him away after this run and give him a bit of a break and hopefully he develops into a Chariots Of Fire horse down the track." The other feature on the night is the Group 3 McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup, the only race left in Victoria run over more than 3000m, where Father Christmas has opened a $2.80 favourite with TAB fixed odds over Margaret Ruth ($3.80), Majestic Ess Jay ($5), Destinée Jenilou ($6) and Kyvalley Barney ($6.50). This race kicks off the 2018/19 Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship. Luke Humphreys’ Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup Preview 1 BERNIE WINKLE ($81 TAB.com.au fixed odds): Consistent type that very rarely runs a bad race. Had absolutely no luck at Mildura two starts back before down the field on Saturday night at Melton. Will find a few too good but should get every chance from the gate one draw. Trainer Glenn Douglas has won the race twice with Bold Cruiser in 2008 and Make Mine Cullen in 2010. 2 SHORTYS MATE ($151): Stablemate to Bernie Winkle who was fourth behind two rivals at Melton on Saturday night. Racing ok but outclassed. 3 BAD BILLY ($17): Has been racing well without winning and will be hoping to enjoy an economical run here. Did win the Hamilton Cup in January over a similar distance. 4 MAGICAL MARN ($10): Renowned for his barnstorming finish, which got him past the post first in multiple races during the winter at Melton. If anything, should be starting to come into his own even more now being a five-year-old. Hasn’t won for a while but has been racing respectfully. 5 BLACKBIRD POWER (EMG $151): Emergency runner but if he gained a start he could finish in the first half of the field as he has been racing well in Sydney. Formerly prepared by Ross Sugars, now in New South Wales with Gavin Kelly. 6 IM THE BOSS ($5): Multiple Cup winner last season at Cobram, Mildura and Shepparton including a narrow second to Cruz Bromac at Warragul. Personally surprised to see him open favourite as he was a bit disappointing towards the end of last campaign. He was a little bit disappointing in my eyes in his second trial back. Tactics will be interesting from the draw. Trainer David Aiken won the race in 2017 with Lennytheshark. 7 BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET ($18): One of two Andy Gath runners that can race very well but also on occasions poorly. Has been very good in his last couple of runs including a two-race stint at Mildura for two wins, which definitely would’ve got his confidence up. He produced a marvellous trial at Melton on August 28 when beating Magical Marn in 1:53.8 leading all the way. Was then a very good third in The Gammalite behind My Kiwi Mate and Magical Marn from a poor draw and has run respectfully at Swan Hill and Melton since when sitting outside the leader on both occasions. Poor draw and two runs over this distance range have produced down the track finishes in the 2015 Queensland Derby and 2017 Maryborough Gold Cup. In good form though and can’t be dismissed. 8 KEEP ON ROCKING ($34): Could be the roughie of the race. Likely to enjoy a very economical run on the pegs and has been racing in good form. Won after getting it way too easy at Melton last Saturday and that was unlucky not to be a second consecutive win as he was run down very late the week before. 9 MY KIWI MATE ($2.70): Former Bendigo Cup winner in 2017 and second in this race to Lennytheshark in 2017, making him the only horse in the field to have run in this race before. Absolutely brilliant win in The Gammalite when running down Magical Marn after having no luck early and passing every single horse out very wide in the final 400 meters. On that run without a shadow of a doubt is the one to beat here and there is already good support for him on TAB Fixed Odds. Ted Demmler, the father of trainer/driver Craig Demmler, won the race in 1984 on Raging Bull. 10 THREE WAYS ($31): Another one that looks juicy overs despite drawing poorly. If you go back through his form he has run in the placings in Group 1 races behind Lazarus, including a second in the 2016 Derby. His last two wins have been when he led and enjoyed very easy runs and that is unlikely to be the case here. Have always thought he is a better stayer than sprinter, however, and that could go in his advantage late. 11 BETTERMATCH ($4.80): Tim Butt trained New South Wales raider who is the winner of 11 from 13 including his last five, all of them in good time at Wagga, Young and Menangle. Formerly trained by Colin Thomas before being purchased by the Butt stable and on his debut for them stormed down the outside to win at Menangle in 1:50.4. This since has subsequently raised the eyes of many and made him a possible aspirant for races such as the New Zealand Trotting Cup. However this particular race will answer a lot of questions, one of mine being he has never in his life started over a distance further than 1800 meters. Tim Butt is a great staying trainer, however, this will be a completely different experience for this lightly-raced six-year-old compared to previous wins. 12 ELLMERS IMAGE ($4.80): The other raider from New South Wales in the field prepared and driven by Amanda Turnbull. Has been racing very consistently up at Menangle and had two very deserving wins in the Group 3 Mount Eden Stakes and an absolutely brilliant M1 win in 1:50.7 just under two weeks ago. A bit like his fellow NSW raider this will be a completely different race and the barrier draw hasn’t helped, but can’t knock his last couple of runs. 13 AUDI HARE ($31): Remarkably despite winning the Group 2 Breeders Crown Free For All over the Breeders Crown meeting pops up at $31 for this, with that reason obviously being due to the barrier draw. Had a trial earlier this month where he ran very well and was not disgraced at Melton last Saturday when caught late by Love Ina Chevy. Will need the correct run into it. Selections: 9 My Kiwi Mate 10 Three Ways 4 Magical Marn 8 Keep On Rocking   Luke Humphreys Trots Media

The Kilmore Netball Football Club will be cheering on Jason Bonnington’s Game Plan next Thursday night – the night before the AFL Grand Final public holiday. And at least 30 members of the club will be track-side at the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup and hoping Bonnington is in good form, with the local footy club the first beneficiary of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) inaugural Grassroots Gold promotion. Powered by GoodForm, Victoria’s one-stop shop for trots punters, Grassroots Gold aligns a local sports club to each of the 25 Victorian trots country pacing cups. Grassroots Gold then delivers a $500 GoodForm Game Plan on every cup meeting, with the local partner sporting club to receive all returns from the Game Plan outlay for uniforms, equipment or other needs. “Local sporting clubs are always on the lookout for extra funds and they play such an important role in their communities,” HRV General Manager of Marketing Andrew English said. “This year through the Grassroots Gold campaign we’re looking forward to engaging different local sporting clubs with their local trots club, and our GoodForm analysts are the best in the business, so hopefully they’re able to secure some big results.” In addition to the weekly $500 Grassroots Gold Game Plan, come Mildura Pacing Cup Night (April 13) all partner clubs will have an equal share in a $2500 Mildura GoodForm punters club. “The pressure will be on Bonners to deliver that night on behalf of grassroots community sporting clubs right across the state,” Mr English said. Kilmore Football Netball Club Vice-President Jamie Archer said the club was thrilled to be partnering with Kilmore trots club and was looking forward to next Thursday night’s cup meeting. “Every buck really helps us and we’ve got a million projects on the go,” Mr Archer said. “We’re working on the new scoreboard, new rooms, installation of lights, any extra funding will really help the club, which has turned things around in recent years. We’ll be there on Thursday night and we’re really looking forward to it.” The Kilmore Football Netball Club has over 400 registered playing members and a strong local fan base. “We’re getting more and more now that we’re starting to win a few games. It was pretty dire a few years back but it’s on the up now.” AFL stars Josh Jenkins (Adelaide Crows) and Michael Hurley (Essendon) will both attend Kilmore Cup night to mingle with fans, run footy comps and sign autographs. Free Trots Country mini footballs will be available and lucky racegoers have a shot at a $500 free bet per race via the racebook competition. Register your interest in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup at the club’s event Facebook page.   Trots Media

AFL superstars Josh Jenkins (Adelaide Crows) and Michael Hurley (Essendon) will sign Trots Country footballs, mingle with fans and run kicking competitions as ambassadors for this year’s Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup. Jenkins and Hurley are keen trots fans and can’t wait to attend what promises to be both a great night of racing and trackside fun. “What better way to start the AFL Grand Final weekend than to get trackside at Kilmore for what looks like being a ripper night of harness racing,” Jenkins said. Will you join Josh & Mick for a kick at Kimore? Let us know at the Cup Facebook Event page “Hurls and I are looking forward to it and it’d be great to see heaps of people there enjoying themselves, trying to win some great prizes and having a kick of the footy.” Kilmore has thrown open the gates free for anyone who wears their AFL footy jumper and is giving away a $500 TAB betting voucher on every race via the racebook competition. All patrons, those who pay at the gate and those who wear their footy jumper, will get a free drink voucher and a racebook, which contains their ticket for the $500 per race voucher. “There’s huge money to be made by punters just for turning up,” Kilmore CEO Ben Murphy told thetrots.com.au. “We’re pumped about having Josh and Mick on course. They’re great with the fans and happy to chat about racing or footy, so everyone will have a great time and take home a free signed mini footy.” There will be plenty of other giveaways on the night, as well as a metro-class program of trots, including the time-honoured Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup. To find out more and secure your space in the dining room, visit Kilmore Racing Club on Facebook or phone Trackside Dining on 03 5783 0777.   Cody Winnell Trots Media

Burrumbeet harness racing trainer Michael Stanley enjoyed a breakthrough win with Soho Tribeca in the group 2 $70,000 Kilmore Pacing Cup, 2690m, on Saturday night. Soho Tribeca ($1.30 favourite) had had to settle for minor placings in his three previous outings since joining the Stanley team, including a second in the Hunter Cup and third in the Miracle Mile. In his customary manner, the Greg Sugars-driven Soho Tribeca did it tough – sitting outside leader Shadow Sax – before grinding home in a track record mile rate of 1:56. The race developed into a two-horse war over the last 400m, with the Emma Stewart-trained Shadow Sax making the running and then fighting on for second. Like Soho Tribeca, Shadow Sax has had big campaign with this effort following wins in thre Stawell, Geelong and Cranbourne Cups. Stanley will now consider backing up the outstanding 5yo in the group 2 $50,000 City Of Melton Plate at Melton on Saturday before going onto the Len Smith Mile at Menangle and Queensland Championionship into July. Soho Tribeca was part of a two-start double for Stanley on Saturday. He also scored with smart 3yo filly Soho Burning Love ($1.04 favourite) in 1:54.9 at Newcastle. Kilmore was yet another prolific-winning meeting for Emma Stewart, with a treble including a first-up win for smart 3yo fill Nostra Beach. ALLENDALE trainer Adam Stephens provided an upset at Melton on Friday night with Village Safari ($37.10) getting home at big odds in an M0-M1 pace for mares, 2240m. By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier News

Just a few hours after Winx made it 16 wins on end, the closest thing Australian harness has, Lennytheshark, added yet another feature race to his bounty with the Group 2 Kilmore Cup. While the throughbred world – and broader sporting community to a large extent – rightly celebrated another Winx romp and applauded her dominance, the same couldn’t be said for much of Victoria’s harness community about Lennytheshark. Granted it was nothing “personally” against Lennytheshark, but the angry tribe on social media took the chance to yet again attack Harness Racing Victoria’s abolition of standing-start racing. Instead of celebrating another win by Lennytheshark, the race, the win again became a political tool for the knockers. And let’s remember the Kilmore Cup was switched from a stand to a mobile last year - well before HRV’s decision to scrap standing start pacing races altogether. Lennytheshark is the best pacer in Australia, arguably Australasia after way he endured the hardest run and beat the best of the best in the Miracle Mile. It’s a shame couldn’t just enjoy him racing and winning easily. After all, Winx has done the same time and time again and the thoroughbred world revels in it. As they do, the knockers said HRV had ruined the once great Kilmore Cup.  As someone who has covered Kilmore Cups for almost 30 years, I can agree with the obvious and say the race is nothing like it once was. But the slide from its pedestal started long before HRV ditched standing starts. If Kilmore had been a standing-start handicap, Lennytheshark would not have been there. It may have been a better content for second and third-stringers, but does that genuinely make it a better race for the sport overall? Granted Lennytheshark went to Kilmore, worked his way to the front and won in what was little more than a trial. But not every race can be a fantastic spectacle or epic battle. With plans for Lennytheshark to keep racing in Victoria, then NSW through until he heads to Queensland Winter Carnival, there are sure to be a few more easy wins for him. That happens when you’re the best as we’ve seen with Winx. Yes he’s not as dominant as Winx and he hasn’t strung 16 wins successive wins together, but he’s Aussie harness racing’s best and we should just enjoy seeing him action. Ironically, he might have some serious competition again sooner than expected in the form of his stablemate, Hectorjayjay. Cleared of needing minor surgery for a bone spur, Hectorjayjay is only a month or so away from racing again. Just for the record, Lennytheshark won the Kilmore Cup by 2.4m from an eye-catching My Kiwi Mate with Lets Elope third in a 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2690m.   Adam Hamilton

Lennytheshark tonight etched his name alongside greats such as Golden Reign, Popular Alm, Pure Steel and Paleface Adios, winning the 2017 Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup. The cup at Kilmore has a unique history and place among the trots. Obviously $70,000 stakemoney is signifant, but the esteem in which participants and fans hold this race is disproportionate. For many, winning the Group 2 Kilmore Cup is sweeter than any Group 1. For superstar reinsman Chris Alford, who steered Lennytheshark to his win tonight, this was his third Kilmore Cup win after successes aboard Golden Reign in 1994 and Chancellor Cullen in 2013. For Lennytheshark, his stake earnings surpassed $2.6 million. A commanding odds-on favourite, Lenny had to use up some petrol early, the Miracle Mile, Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup champion bustled to find the front after speedster Major Crocker found the pegs first from the 2690-metre start. Once in front Alford was able to settle Australia’s best pacer, who controlled the race and went on to score a 2.4-metre win – in a mile rate of 1:59.4 – over a bold My Kiwi mate, who ran on powerfully from last in the run for Jodi Quinlan. Tonight's win moved David Aiken-trained Lennytheshark (Four Starzzz Shark-Botswana) into equal second place on the Trots Country Cups Championship ladder, on nine points, alongside Major Secret and Im Corzin Terror. A stablemate of Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay, leads the Country Cups ladder on 10 points, with the winning horse at season's end to pick up a $25,000 bonus. Lets Elope (Josh Duggan) finished third in tonight's cup after a soft trip on the pegs, edging out Major Crocker, with bonny mare Milly Perez in fifth place. Earlier at Kilmore Ross Sugars-trained Illawong Helios (Majestic Son-Shining Sun) emphatically won the McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup. Driven by Ross’s son, Greg, Illawong Helios rated 2:04.9 in the 3150m stand-start contest to defeat Dead Cat Bounce (Michael Bellman) by 8.5m with Claudys Princess (Gavin Lang) third from her 30m back-mark. Greg Sugars finished the night with a winning double, his first winner coming aboard Whirily School (Courage Under Fire-Mayhappen) in the Lawrie Boyd Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship 11th Heat (Race 3). Whirily School ran to the front at the 1200m after Courageous Call initially held up from barrier four and the Emma Stewart-trained four-year-old mare was able to sprint home in 28.6 and 28.4 final quarters for a 1:55.7 rate, holding out Courageous Call at the finish by 2.5m. That win was the second leg of a race-to-race double for Victoria’s leading trainer, Smythes Creek’s Emma Stewart. Stewart combined with Chris Alford to win Race 2, the Great Northern Super Crisp 3YO Pace with promising bay Rocknroll Icon (Rocknroll Hanover-National Gallery). Rocknroll Icon now boasts three wins from his seven career starts. The night was opened by Siliqua winning the J&A Mazzetti Pace Final for Bacchus Marsh’s Amy Tubbs. Three-pegs in the run, Tubbs steered Siliqua to the outside off the back straight before putting her rivals away for a 5.8m win over Four Starzzz Forsa. Trainer/driver husband and wife team Maree and John Caldow combined to take out the Bendigo Vicbred Platinum Country Series K (2nd Heat) for trotters with four-year-old Muscle Hill-Calder Luck gelding Muscletonian. The Melton squaregaiter was all out at the finish, only just holding off a fast-finishing Light The Flame by 1.1m in a mile rate of 2:05.8 for the 2180-metre trip. One of the more impressive performances of the meet belonged to Majordan (Art Major-Benelise), who is absolutely flying. The well-bred four-year-old used his customary gate speed to arrest control of the race early for driver Rod Petroff before powering clear for a 10.2m win over in-form Rock Of America, who ran on from the back for second, with Glenferrie Blade slashing home along the sprint lane for third ahead of Classic Grin. And rounding out the night was a victory for in-form trainer Andy Gath, who produced Bettor Think Quick (Bettors Delight-Rona Lorraine) to win the Momentum Gaming Pace over 1690m. Driven by Alex Ashwood, Bettor Think Quick scored a 2.8m win over Peter Perfect, with Flick Me An Ace running on for third. The Trots Country Cups action heads to Boort tomorrow.   Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has completed analysis of the Kilmore Pacing Cup Night (Saturday, March 19). The analysis was to compare key performance indicators from this year’s Cup meeting with the previous Kilmore Pacing Cup meeting, which was run as a day meeting on a Sunday in October, 2014. Statistics from this year’s Kilmore Pacing Cup meeting: Wagering on meeting up 9.6% on previous Cup meeting in October 2014 Wagering on Cup (race) up 20.8% on previous Cup in October 2014 Wagering on meeting exceeded Saturday night benchmark by 17.1% ($283,000 average per race vs $242,000) No discernible difference in race numbers or field sizes Kilmore bistro/bar sales up over 200% on previous and subsequent Saturday night takings Bistro sales up over 80% on previous Kilmore Cup meeting in October 2014 Top 10 race meetings for March 2016 (based on overall wagering turnover) 12/3 – Saturday – Melton: $3,367,915 5/3 – Saturday – Cranbourne: $2,918,636 19/3 – Saturday – Kilmore: $2,833,955 4/3 – Friday – Melton: $2,550,897 26/3 – Saturday – Ararat: $2,419,717 11/3 – Friday – Bendigo: $2,356,118 18/3 – Friday – Melton: $2,185,251 16/3 – Wednesday – Melton: $1,856,673 30/3 – Wednesday – Mildura: $1,618,885 14/3 – Monday – Horsham: $1,593,872 Top 10 races for March 2016 (based on overall wagering turnover) 19/3 – Saturday – Kilmore – Pacing Cup: $526,643 (Race 7) 12/3 – Saturday – Melton – Need for Speed Princess Final: $446,605 (Race 2) 12/3 – Saturday – Melton – International All Star Series Race 22: $380,618 (Race 5) 11/3 – Friday – Bendigo – Cougar Bourbon Pace: $375,330 (Race 5) 5/3 – Saturday – Cranbourne – Cranbourne Gold Cup: $370,188 (Race 7) 12/3 – Saturday – Melton – A.G. Coombs Trot: $370,188 (Race 1) 26/3 – Saturday – Ararat – Kevin and Colleen Smith Pace: $361,407 (Race 5) 12/3 – Saturday – Melton – Great Southern Star Final: $359,973 (Race 9) 4/3 – Friday – Melton – Benstud Pace: $356,709 (Race 9) 5/3 – Saturday – Cranbourne – H.F. Abrahams Pace: $351,009 (Race 5) HRV CEO John Anderson said his discussions with the Kilmore club indicated it was delighted with the results. “Ben Murphy (CEO) has requested the club retain the date in 2017 due to the success of this year’s meeting. The function centre was overflowing and the club was rewarded with a terrific Cup field and exciting race,” Mr Anderson said. Trots Media

In terms of famous harness racing victories, Yankee Rockstar's $70,575 Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup triumph last night will go down as one of the most memorable. For starters, the race was changed from a traditional standing start event to a mobile start race this year, and was shortened from two miles to 2690m. As a result of the changes a first class field was assembled, headlined by two-time Inter Dominion star Beautide. And as for the race itself, it exceeded all expectations as a contest with trainer Emma Stewart and driver Gavin Lang combining for the win with Yankee Rockstar. The Stewart-trained entire overhauled a brave Ohoka Punter late in the Group 2 feature with Beautide winding up in third place. Many on social media were suggesting the race was one of the best of the season so far with Glenferrie Hood making the early play, holding the front from the pole. Ohoka Punter (Anthony Butt) lobbed the breeze and Jimmy Rattray took Beautide up three-wide. Butt made his intentions clear, the chair wasn’t up for grabs, Rattray having to snag aboard Beautide before squeezing into the one-one. But shortly after grabbing some cover, Beautide was punching the breeze again as Butt pushed to the lead aboard Ohoka Punter, giving Glenferrie Hood the box seat. Registering a lead time of 77.8secs, Ohoka Punter ran along in front before a 62.6secs first half. The Shepparton Cup winning Ohoka Punter, who also recently finished second to Smolda in the Hunter Cup, got down the back in 28.9secs. Beautide, who covered ground the entire trip, was put under some pressure off the back, the early work starting to take a toll. Ohoka Punter slipped away and looked home and hosed at the top of the straight, but even if you were betting in the run you wouldn’t have put the house on at this point because he too had spent significant petrol early. Yankee Rockstar was the fresh horse on the scene, Lang guiding him into clear air out wide before the five-year-old entire by Rocknroll Hanover out of Aston Villa hit top gear. The last 400m was covered in 29.1seccs and Yankee Rockstar had a half-neck on Ohoka Punter at the finish with Beautide 4.4m off the winner in third, 1.1m ahead of Jadahson in fourth with Messini close-up in fifth. Yankee Rockstar has now won over $208,000 in stakes this season so far, with a record of 12 starts for eight wins and three placings. Stewart and Lang both ended up with four winners on the Kilmore Cup program, Stewart also successful with exciting three-year-old filly Heavens Trend (Rock N Roll Heaven/Trend Setter) winning the Kelly Sports 3YO Pace in 2:00.2 over 2180m, talented four-year-old mare Lovelist (Always A Virgin/Lifeline) in 1:55.1 over 1690m in the Doug’s Bakery Pace and impressive two-year-old debutant filly Our Celebrity (Mach Three/Celebrity Ball) in the J & A Mazzetti Sapling Stakes over 1690m in 1:57.8. Lang drove Heavens Trend, Lovelist, Yankee Rockstar and Mick Blackmore-trained Claudys Princess to victory in the McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup over 3150m from the standing start, the five-year-old Bacardi Lindy/All Finesse mare rating 2:06.8 to score a half-head win over Michael Thomas in second, with Sun Of Anarchy in third. Other winners on the night were four-year-old mare Keayang Ebonyrose (Village Jolt/Secret Twirl) in the Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship 14th Heat over 1690m in 1:56.5 for trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee, five-year-old gelding Fiery Blue Chip (by Santanna Blue Chip out of Scarlet Fire) for trainer Sonya Smith and driver Anthony Butt in the Peninsula Meats Eureka Series 2nd Heat over 2180m in 2:00.6, Glory Daze for David Aiken and Josh Aiken in the Hanson Cleaning Vicbred Pace, the four-year-old mare by Bettors Delight out of Dazed And Confused rating 2:00.9 over 2180m with an all-the-way success from the pole, The Sparrow Hawk for Brent Lilley and Butt in the Momentum Gaming Pace over 2180m, the handy three-year-old gelding by Gotta Go Cullen out of Starling rating 2:01.6, and Est Est Est for Neville and Clinton Welsh in the F&M Supplies Vicbred Platinum Country Series M 2nd Heat over 2180m, the four-year-old Majestic Son/Enotheque trotting mare rating 2:07.1. The action continues today with the running of the Boort Cup meeting. Cody Winnell

Kilmore Harness Racing Club CEO Ben Murphy says the club is excited about its annual Pacing Cup being shifted to Saturday night, March 19. Stake money for the 2016 Kilmore Pacing Cup has been increased to $70,000 from $60,000 and the race will carry Group 2 status. The race’s conditions have also changed, the Cup distance shortened from 3150m to 2690m and from a standing start event to a random barrier draw mobile start race. Additionally the club’s Kilmore Trotters Cup on the same program has increased to a $20,000 purse and carries Group 3 status. “We’re excited to shift the Cup program to a Saturday night,” Murphy said. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase high-class harness racing in regional Victoria.” Murphy said he hoped the change to conditions of the race and the new date would help attract “the best horses in Australasia” to contest the event. “The Kilmore Pacing Cup is a good horse’s race and we were very keen to position the race to encourage the best to come and compete,” he said. “It is also an opportunity for the Kilmore Trotters Cup to attract horses that the week before have competed in the Great Southern Star.” Murphy said the changes were made after feedback from the industry. “Working closely with HRV and seeking feedback from participants we took the decision that to enhance the quality of the race we needed to look at the starting conditions and race distance,” he said. “We are confident that horses that have competed in the Grand Circuit races will see the Kilmore Pacing Cup as a real option with the changes we have made. “It is the showcase period for harness racing in Victoria and the Kilmore Pacing Cup takes its rightful place among the other races conducted in this strong period.” HRV and the Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs have welcomed the changes. The 2015 Kilmore Pacing Cup was taken out by Emma Stewart-trained Guaranteed, defeating Im Corzin Terror and Flaming Flutter. Guaranteed went on to win the Group 1 SA Cup in January this year and ran fourth in the Victoria Cup, Im Corzin Terror won the Ballarat Cup and placed fifth in the Inter Dominion Final, while Flaming Flutter ran second in the Inter Dominion Final and the SA Cup. CODY WINNELL

Popular harness racing identity Ross Sugars has been recognised for his lifelong career within the industry. Earlier this week, Sugars was declared a Living Legend, which has left the successful horseman “very humbled.” In front of a strong crowd at the Tabcorp Park Melton function, Sugars was “shocked and surprised” when his name was added to the honour roll. “I was just sitting there enjoying the night when they announced it was time for the Living Legend inductee then I see my photo up on the screen and I didn’t know what was going on,” Sugars said. “It was certainly a well-kept secret in my family as I had no idea about any of it. “I was left very humbled by it all and am very honoured.” Beginning his career in South Australia, Sugars quickly established himself as one of the state’s leading trainers and drivers. During that period Sugars registered a victory which still rates as one of his greatest highlights. “Coming over to Victoria and winning the 1987 Kilmore Cup with Popular Port is still my biggest thrill as it was an emotional win,” Sugars said. “It was Greg’s birthday and everyone was over to watch the race. “After we made the move to live in Victoria some years later, winning the Bendigo Cup with Regal Dash became a big thrill at it was our first feature after getting here. “Away from race wins, having my kids Greg and Kylie doing well in the industry is a very big personal highlight.” PAUL COURTS

Guaranteed, Australasia’s most exciting harness racing prospect, is on target to make his Grand Circuit debut next month. Fresh from his Kilmore Cup victory this afternoon, Guaranteed has been aimed at the Southern Hemipshere’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile. Co-trainer Emma Stewart confirmed the Tabcorp Park Menangle-based feature tops the five-year-old’s agenda. The Miracle Mile is scheduled to be conducted on November 29. In the build up to the Group One, Guaranteed will tackle the Smoken Up Sprint at Melton on November 7, followed by one of the Miracle Mile qualifying events. “Now we will set him for the Miracle Mile,” said Stewart, who prepares her team with Clayton Tonkin. “He will have a few easy days now as he’s had three starts in three weeks, then we’ll get him ready for the various sprints in the lead up to the Miracle Mile. “He has come back in sensational form and we’ve got no doubt he can take the step to the next level.” Based on the strength of Guaranteed’s latest effort, few can argue with Stewart’s assessment. Missing early trouble after Broadways Best galloped from the tapes, Guaranteed was given time to settle into his stride by master reinsman, Gavin Lang, as Maximan worked to the lead. Angled three-wide during the middle stages, the son of Artsplace was sent forward as Lang controlled the tempo from the ‘death seat’. Forging his way to the front halfway along the home straight, Guaranteed then staved off late challenges from Im Corzin Terror and Flaming Flutter to complete a gutsy triumph. “What a run,” Stewart declared. “He went huge. “He was in peak condition for this and Gavin got everything out of him up the straight. “It got close on the line, but after doing all the work, he just kept finding and was holding them off.” Covering the last half in 56.3 seconds, the stallion rated 2:00.3 for the 3150-metre stand, slicing eight-tenths of a second off Sting Lika Bee’s track record established in the 2007 Cup. Guaranteed’s win also makes him just the second pacer to complete the Nyah/Kilmore Cup double. Former South Australian great Nevada Smoke set the benchmark with his brilliant victories in 1974. Only two other pacers have won both provincial features, albeit different years, with Game Oro successful in the 1984 Nyah Cup before completing consecutive Kilmore Cup wins in ’85 and ’86. Bold Cruiser repeated the dose with a Nyah win in 2007 and a Kilmore victory the following season. PAUL COURTS

Traffic shapes as the main issue standing in the way of boom harness racing performer Guaranteed in his bid for a record-equalling win at Kilmore on Sunday. Engaged in the club’s famed Cup, Guaranteed is aiming to join former South Australian great Nevada Smoke as the only pacers to complete the Nyah/Kilmore Cup double. Nevada Smoke set the benchmark with his brilliant victories in 1974, while Guaranteed was triumphant in last Saturday night’s Nyah feature. Only two other pacers have won both provincial features, albeit different years, with Game Oro successful in the 1984 Nyah Cup before completing consecutive Kilmore Cup wins in ’85 and ’86. Bold Cruiser repeated the dose with a Nyah win in 2007 and a Kilmore victory the following season. As for Guaranteed’s attempt at a slice of history, the five-year-old has drawn awkwardly on the inside of the second row in the 3150-metre handicap. Disappointed with the barrier co-trainer Emma Stewart, who prepares her team with Clayton Tonkin, remains confident Guaranteed can continue his winning form. The son of Artsplace had had two starts this campaign, with his other victory coming in the Melton Plate when first-up from a spell. “The draw isn’t what you would ask for, but that’s part of racing,” Stewart said. “He has come from the second row plenty of times. “The biggest concern is traffic and hoping he can avoid any early trouble if those in front, or next to, him gallop away. “As long as he gets a clean go at them, he will be very hard to beat.” Citing Maximan as the main danger, Stewart believes Im Corzin Terror will be ready to produce his best after three eye-catching runs from a spell. Boasting four wins and a second for trainer Andy Gath, Maximan will come from seven – the outside of the front row. Winner of last season’s standing start Maryborough Cup, Im Corzin Terror has drawn four, but will slot into three with the removal of the emergency for trainer Amanda Grieve. “Although he’s drawn wide, Maximan is the one to beat,” Stewart said. “He’s a very nice type and will be ideally suited to these conditions. “Im Corzin Terror has proven himself on the country cups circuit, and after a few runs this time in, will also be in it for a long way.” PAUL COURTS

Boom harness racing star Guaranteed will be aiming to join an elite fraternity of pacers during the next few months. Close to a racing return for trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, Guaranteed was given a freshen up following his gallant second in the Vicbred Super Series at Tabcorp Park Melton last July. Due to return to racing at the end of the month, the stallion’s first main mission will be the Melton Plate on October 4. Guaranteed will then be aimed at the prestigious Kilmore Cup three weeks later according to owner Mark Thompson. Victory in the two features will see Guaranteed become just the fifth to complete the double. Amendment set the benchmark in 1990, followed by Robin Hood in 2005, Make Mine Cullen matched the pair in 2010, with Bitobliss replicating the feat the next year. Robin Hood was prepared by Tonkin’s trainer-father, Peter. “After the Sires’ he had a little freshen up,” Thompson said. “He never left Emma and Clayton’s place, just had a bit of time off in one of their paddocks. “It has done him the world of good as he has bulked up and is really bright within himself. “He trialled recently at Ballarat and covered the last half in 55.9 seconds and he was as big as a barn. “At this stage he will race in two or three weeks and have a start before the Melton Plate then on to the Kilmore Cup.” Should the son of Artsplace perform as expected, Thompson will set his sights towards the Miracle Mile and Ballarat Cup. Australasia’s premier sprint, the Miracle Mile is scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle on November 27, with the popular Ballarat Cup on December 13. Stewart and Tonkin are no strangers to Ballarat Cup glory, having annexed the Group One with Safari in 2008 and Restrepo last season. “The Kilmore Cup will serve as a good indication of how he is shaping up against some of the better horses,” Thompson said. “All going well we will then press on for a race like the Miracle Mile.” PAUL COURTS

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