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Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) advises this week’s Mildura Cup has been postponed. The decision was made to discourage participant travel throughout Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Mildura meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday night has now been cancelled. Thursday’s Bendigo meeting has been moved to Tuesday night. Trainers are reminded that those nominated at Bendigo not wishing to accept have the option to scratch by 8.30am tomorrow morning. Wednesday’s meetings at Stawell and Shepparton will go ahead as scheduled. HRV will tomorrow morning provide a more detailed view of how the racing calendar will look from Thursday onward. HRV's Trots Media

Young Bendigo harness racing reinswoman Michelle Phillips landed her maiden double at the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival last week -but had to wait two nights to celebrate.   Phillips and her partner, talented horseman Shaun McNaulty, got home from Mildura to their stables at Marong at 3am after the second night of the carnival on Thursday, and, not surprisingly, weren’t in the mood to put their party pants on!   “It sounds crazy, but I suggested to Michelle that we could head back to Mildura for the Cup final on the Saturday night and do some celebrating then!” McNaulty said.   “Michelle decided it was a perfect idea so that’s what we did – and it was a huge night, combined with a few drinks, of course, and the karaoke at the track after the last,” he said.   “We have already booked our accommodation and stabling for the three-night carnival next year!”   The stable double was also momentous for McNaulty, as it was the first time he’d brought his own team to race at Mildura.   “I’d been to the trots there years ago with my brother, and I’d always had an ambition to race during the carnival,” he said.   The McNaulty-Phillips combination landed their winning double in consecutive races, with Gobsmacked (Auckland Reactor-Respected (Art Major) and It’s All Business (Sportswriter USA-In The White House NZ (Presidential Ball USA).   They also ran third in the Mildura Trotters Cup with their consistent square gaiter Fratellino (Monarchy USA-Solar Fire NZ (Yankee Reb USA), the winner being Endsin A Party, driven by Phillips’ boss Chris Svanosio for trainer Brad Stevens.   McNaulty said three-year-old gelding Gobsmacked always had ability, but just wasn’t putting it together.   “He may have just turned the corner now because that’s two wins in his past three starts,” he said.   “I thought the drive was brilliant by Michelle - I’m very proud.”   Phillips comes from a family background with horses, with her grandfather, Max, a Clerk of the Course in Gippsland for many years.   She is a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul and was awarded the inaugural HRV-Community College Gippsland Trots Internship in 2016. The internship gave Phillips 12 months of experience across the industry and in leading stables, which she is now putting into practice.   The runaway win by Its All Business in the 3YO Pace was reward for patience for McNaulty.   “We’ve had our share of problems with him lately, but I have to admit that I’ve got a lot of time for the colt,” he said.   “He showed exceptional ability from day one when he got beaten last season at Bendigo in a 2YO race running a tick over 1.54.   “I would have loved to have contested the Sydney derby with the horse, simply to gain some experience. In hindsight he probably would have been lucky to qualify, but it would have done him the world of good.   “Anyway the timing wasn’t right as he had a bit of a bunged-up knee and I’ve really only just got the swelling down.”   McNaulty has his pair of in-form runners competing at Kilmore on Thursday, while trotter Fratellino will contest the $14,500 Eddie Edison Memorial Trotters Cup at Warragul on Sunday.   “Fratellino is the leader by eight points on the Country Cup Trotters Championship so that’s a big bonus if he could hang and grab that,” McNaulty said.   “We’ll be out there trying our best, that’s for sure!” he said.   But if Fratellino does get the job done, hopefully the pair can find somewhere a little closer to home to celebrate!     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Victoria’s premier female drivers appear to hold the keys to this Saturday night’s $60,000 Mildura Pacing Cup Final after dominating last night’s heats.   The Mildura Pacing Cup is the only event on Victoria’s country cups circuit to be run in a carnival format, with Tuesday night’s heats over 2600 metres, followed by a Saturday night final over the same distance.   Great Western pacer Reciprocity (Panspacificflight-Weka Lass (Badlands Hanover), driven by Kerryn Manning for her father Peter, scored an emphatic win in the first heat, over Perspective and South Australian Bulletproof Boy.   In the second, Shepparton pacer San Carlo (Mach Three-Bridge Player (Classic Garry), for driver Bec Bartley, ground out a narrow death-seat victory over leader Brallos Pass, driven by Ellen Tormey, with the pair 28 metres clear of their nearest rival, Emain Macha.   Barring accident or incident, Saturday night’s final is effectively at the mercy of the three accomplished reinswomen – and it’s shaping as an intriguing battle.   Reciprocity’s victory was comprehensive – and dispelled any doubts astute mentor Peter Manning had about the mare’s ability to handle the 805-metre Mildura circuit.   The five-year-old sat back in the early stages from her barrier eight draw. She was then sent three wide by Kerryn at the bell, then careered around the final turn at Mildura four and five wide, with all the confidence in the world, posting 2:00.4 for the journey.   “That was going to be the test – whether she would handle the track or not. We’ve found she does,so that’s all we needed to know,” Manning said.   With only five days between heats and finals, and with another night of racing on Thursday night, trainers often relocate to the remote Sunraysia region for the week, but Kerryn Manning said   Reciprocity would be home in her paddock by the early hours of Wednesday morning.   “She travelled up really well on her own, and we thought it’d be best to get her home again,” Manning said.   “She did an awesome job for us tonight, everything we wanted, so we’ll just hope for one better on Saturday.” Kerryn Manning and her father Peter with Reciprocity, winner of the first heat Reciprocity is owned by Henry Campbell and came to the Manning stable from the Tamworth region. Since arriving late last year, she’s chalked up seven wins, including an MO and the Group 3 VHRSC Metro Pace Final, in Victoria. But the Group 2 Mildura Pacing Cup would be her biggest win. “I’d trained a couple of horses for a fellow up at Tamworth and he was the one who recommended to Henry that he send the horse down,” Peter Manning said. “We’re pretty glad he did. She has improved in leaps and bounds, particularly in the past couple of months. “She used to hop along a bit and we’ve done some work on her feet and let her hopples out and she’s just thrived on the sandy track at our place. “She’s a very smart horse.” In the second heat, Shepparton pair Brallos Pass (trained by Mark Watson) and San Carlo (trained by Stephen O’Donoghue) always looked the key chances on paper, and that proved to be the case, with only a head margin separating the pair at the post. Brallos Pass was sent forward by Ellen Tormey from his extreme outside (barrier six) draw, and early leader Lucky Lombo (Zac Phillips) was content to hand up. As Tormey crossed to the lead, Bartley, who had come from barrier eight, made a forward move to “death seat” outside Brallos Pass. With a lap to go, San Carlo strode up alongside Brallos Pass, and the two went to war down the back straight. "I wanted to be alongside Ellen as we got around the final corner, because I thought if she pinched a break on me, I might not be able to get it back – but I thought San Carlo would be tough enough if we were on terms,” Bartley said. She was right – but only just. San Carlo raised a final effort on the line to score narrowly from a gallant Brallos Pass.   An elated Bec Bartley after Heat Two of the Mildura Pacing Cup   Bartley and San Carlo are spending the Cup week in Mildura, with Bartley super-keen to go one better this year, after finishing runner up last year to Im the Boss (with Shakahari).   “San Carlo has pulled up really well after the race, and he’s settled in nicely where we are staying,” Bartley said.   “He’ll have a day off tomorrow and then he’ll just have a jog leading up to the final. I’ve got no doubt he’ll handle the two close runs.   “We don’t have too many problems with him these days. He’s such a seasoned horse now. He eats everything you put in front of him and come Saturday I think he’ll be jumping out of his skin.”   The full list of 11 qualifiers includes one local horse, Brocks Territory trained by Luke Watson. Other qualifiers are Assassinator, Lucky Lombo, Bulletproof Boy, Ideal World, Perspective, Brallos Pass, Resurgent Spirit, Emain Macha, Reciprocity and San Carlo.   San Carlo looks likely to draw the extreme outside of the back row for Saturday night’s final, with Reciprocity right next door on his inside. Brallos Pass may face a tricky assignment, with an inside back row barrier draw if all qualifiers accept.     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Young Shepparton harness racing driver Bec Bartley is looking forward to renewing fond memories of her early days in the sport during next week’s Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. Bartley, 27, was a regular competitor at Mildura for a two-year period from November 2011 as trainers sought her services, particularly because she was a junior concession driver obtaining a one class lift. Next week the determined and hardworking horsewoman will be in the spotlight at the 2019 carnival with boom pacer San Carlo (Mach Three-Bridge Player (Classic Garry). “I certainly did a big number of 10-hour return road trips to the top end of the State, but I got valuable experience through it all,” Bartley said. “The racing is always competitive at Mildura and a few of the trainers were willing to give me a go when I was just starting out,” she said. “I was lucky to persuade my parents David and Chris to do the long trip with me for a while, and other times I would meet up with drivers, like Ellen Tormey and Nigel Milne, along the way and we’d car pool and do some of the journey together. “There are a few sharp bends and bumps on the road, and I reckon I could still remember them all!” Bartley has drawn the eight alley with San Carlo in the second heat of the Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup on Tuesday night. The format of qualifying divisions leading into a $60,000 Group Two final is the only one of its kind in the State. The three-night carnival, comprising Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night racing, has been a favourite on the racing and social calendar for harness fans for many years. “We finished runner-up with Shakahari last year behind Im The Boss (Kima Frenning) so naturally we are hoping to go one better this time,” Bartley said. “San Carlo had a trial a while ago at Kilmore and I wasn’t all that excited with him, so we gave him another hit-out at Shepparton trials two nights ago and he was a lot better – he felt sharper and switched on.” Bartley said trainer Steve O’Donoghue, of Morley Park Stud, always had the Mildura feature event in the back of his mind. “We were here for the Italian Cup last October and the horse won well after doing all the work in the death-seat, clocking in at 1.55-9,” she said. “He felt quite at home, so we know he is suited by the smaller (805 metre) track.” It would be a fair bet to say that Bartley and O’Donoghue can now look back with irony at the considerable time they took to get San Carlo to the racetrack. After O’Donoghue broke in the pacer, there were more than a few frustrations. “He was very spooky and just difficult to do much with.  Even getting a bridle on was a major task,” Bartley said. “And then in his work on the track he had this habit of going around and around past things without any worries, and then he’d shy on the last time as if it was something new!” she said. O’Donoghue gave the horse a number of preparations, finally managing to get him to stay in his gear and not gallop. “I think he was an early three-year-old when we headed off to the trials. But he was back to his old tricks, so Steve gelded him, and he was turned out,” Bartley said. “When he returned as a four-year-old he had a different attitude with improved manners, but he was still touchy.” Two trials, nothing too spectacular, preceded a race debut at Bendigo in June, 2015. Bartley crossed from a wide draw to the death seat and San Carlo showed he’d “turned the corner” with a 10-metre victory in 1.58-6 (last quarter 27.8). He then posted five consecutive wins, before the honeymoon ended with a luckless fifth behind the brilliant Hector Jay Jay in a Group Two feature at Melton. But Bartley was far from disappointed, as she knew from that day they had a well-above average horse. Another spell was followed by a winning six-race sequence. And San Carlo – named after Rome’s 17th century church of San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane – has risen to star status with Herculean performances in such prestigious events as the Inter Dominion series, the Bohemia Crystal FFA Group One and country cups. His record speaks for itself with 25 wins and nine placings from just 45 outings for more than $400,000 in the bank. Bartley said much of Morley Park’s success was due to “very good team” and facilities, including a swimming pool, allowing a balanced workload for a handy team of racehorses and youngsters. “Steve and his wife Anne are both hands-on, as well as their sons Jono and Corey, who are always helping out whenever they can. We also have a few other stable helpers,” she said. “We have a team of about 25 horses in work at the moment so there’s always plenty to do.” San Carlo will come up against last start Ouyen Cup winner Brallos Pass (Ellen Tormey) in the second heat, while Emain Macha (Wayne Hill), Murranji Track (John Caldow), and Lucky Lombo will have admirers. The first qualifying heat sees well-credentialed Reciprocity (Kerryn Manning) do battle with Perspective, Resurgent Spirit and local hope Rocknroll Eyes. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It was a typically exciting night one of the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival on Tuesday night with Im The Boss breaking a track record in the second of two heats for the weekend feature. Sams The Master claimed the other heat in a blistering last half to hold off a competitive field, which included Messini, whose $25,000 Trots Country Cups Championship bid remained alive when he qualified for the final by tying with Shakahari for third place. However, without doubt the performance of the night came from Im The Boss for trainer David Aiken and reinswoman Kima Frenning. His winning chances took a hit when he couldn’t cross those drawn inside him early and he then got stirred up in a race in which they never stopped running. He wasn’t to be denied however, hitting the lead off the back and holding off the late thrusts of Hickstead and Brallos Pass. “He just continues to improve and get better, he has done an awesome job,” Frenning told trackside host Rob Auber following the victory. The first leg of the quaddie saw a spirited betting duel between Shakahari and Messini in the opening Park Douglas Printing Mildura Cup heat but it was the drifter in the betting, Sams The Master, who defied all. “He just kicked the wheel into that first bend so I was a little worried he was going to give me a tough trip but he settled well and while he couldn’t go any quicker in that last half he still has something up his sleeve for Saturday,” driver Greg Sugars told Auber post-race. Rockstar Angel whipped around the field early to control the race from the breeze while Messini came from the rear with one big run and though he was given a trail into the action his run was phenomenal under the circumstances. Earlier in the night She Keeps Coming was able to slip through the inside to take the first heat of the Working Man Club’s pace from Arden Castle and Misterfreeze In the other heat for the C2-3 series Goodboy Cowboy was backed as if unbeatable ($9 into $2.70) and while punters would have had their hearts in their mouths at the 600-metre mark when he popped a tyre, it was a cosy and classy win over King Solomon at the finish. The night continued with the first heat of the Mark Gurry and Associates Cup where Our Little General worked over time when eventually landing the breeze and still finding enough to outgun Glenferrie Bunter late. The win can’t be underestimated either given the time between runs and the slick third quarter where he poured on the pressure. Islandspecialmajor was able to lead in the second of the Mark Gurry and Associate Cup heats and proved too strong after copping some mid-race pressure. With exciting racing a near on certainty in the Sunraysia, the opening night of the Mildura Cup Carnival for 2018 didn’t disappoint, highlighted too by the enthusiastic calling from Craig Rail The carnival continues on Thursday with the Seelite Windows and Doors Mildura Trotters Cup before the big boys return on Saturday for what is sure to be an exciting Mildura Pacing Cup. Trots Media - Blake Redden

The Trots Country Cups Championship has been blown open with Milly Perez scorching the Mildura straight to remain within reach of the $25,000 harness racing crown. Larry Eastman’s mighty mare mowed down Major Crocker (second) and Brallos Pass (third) to win the Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup, moving within three points of the season-long championship with two cups to run. Im Corzin Terror, Milly Perez and Cardon Merger are among the likely starters for Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup, with the Group 3 $30,000 showdown further fuelled by the championship implications. Cranbourne Cup winner Im Corzin Terror holds a three-point lead from Milly Perez (Mildura and Charlton cups) and Cardon Merger (Boort and St Arnaud cups), with four points gifted to a win, two points to second and one point to third in each of the season’s 25 country cups. Saturday night’s Ararat feature precedes Sunday’s Warragul Bowl Pacing Cup, the last of the country cups season. Eastman said his six-year-old Four Starzzz Shark mare was well positioned for Ararat, having pulled up “fine” from Mildura, where she followed a second placing in last Tuesday’s heat with victory in Saturday’s final. “She’s is full steam ahead for Ararat,” Eastman said, adding the championship prizemoney offered for the first time was a big lure. Of the $25,000, $15,000 will be awarded to the winning horse’s owner and $10,000 to the trainer. Milly Perez’s career earnings blew past the $300,000 mark for owner Frank McGrath with Saturday night’s triumph, having been driven a treat by John Caldow, who placed her from gate nine on Murranji Track’s back in the outside line. Major Crocker advanced from last to join Brallos Pass and create a talented front line, which stretched the field with a 27.6 third quarter that dissolved any attempts to create a third row. Caldow waited until the approach to the final bend to guide Milly Perez three wide and come the straight he gradually wore down the leaders to win by a neck from Major Crocker with Brallos Pass 1.8m back in third. “It was a good race and a great carnival,” Eastman said. “The 800m tracks always make for more exciting racing. I was a Mallee boy and it was good to go back and win this one. She showed again that she is among the top mares in this country.” After Saturday night’s Ararat Cup Milly Perez will get a chance to further prove her standing against the nation’s leading mares in the $100,000 Queen Of The Pacific on May 20, when she will attempt to better last year’s second placing to Nike Franco. “She’s right there, right in the top bunch of mares and her high speed is what does it for her, it’s what sets her apart.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

More than 20 years have passed since John Wilkinson and some fellow harness racing owners won the 1995 Mildura Pacing Cup with Newsbreaker. This year, Wilkinson and some other members of the Newsbreaker crew are hoping their horse, Messini, can take out the time-honoured event. “It would be a great thrill to compete in the Mildura Cup given the history of the race and our involvement in the race with Newsbreaker a number of years ago when we were lucky enough to win it,” Wilkinson said. Messini bounced back to winning form at Ouyen on Sunday after a turbulent summer preparation, which saw the six-year-old entire battling to regain his best form. But trainer Brent Lilley persisted and had the two-time Vicbred Super Series winner in cherry ripe order for Sunday’s Greggs Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup, Messini breaking the track record despite a wide run for the last lap – notching a slick mile rate of 1:56.0. Driven by Anthony Butt, Messini collared race favourite Im Corzin Terror metres before the post to win by a short half-head in the 2423-metre Group 3. The Mildura Cup Carnival starts April 4 with the Group 2 Mildura Cup run on Saturday April 8. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

On-course wagering turnover was up 23 per cent at this year’s Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup harness racing meeting on Saturday night. Overall $142,872 was held on-course this year compared to $116,030 at the corresponding meeting last year. The on-course TAB held $119,837 this year, compared to $105,707 last year, while on-course bookmakers held $23,035 compared to $10,323 last year. Off-course holdings with the TAB remained close to last year at $543,000, down slightly on last year's $550,000. “It was a wonderful carnival. We’re very thrilled in how the whole thing went,” Mildura Secretary/Manager Mark Kemp explained. “We had huge numbers the whole week because of the racing on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The boat cruise on Friday night was booked out well in advance. The golf day was a success, the whole thing was wonderful. “I think from what I’ve seen we’re the No.1 result for the season in terms of country cups for on-course holdings, so we’re rapt with that.” In excess of 2000 people attended the annual feature meeting, including about 500 who enjoyed a dining package in one of three available venues. The local economy receives a massive boon throughout the week due to the Mildura trots carnival, with all accommodation houses basically booked out and hotels, cafes and other business houses significantly frequented. “All the feedback I’ve received from people has been positive and a lot of the visitors from Wagga and Port Pirie and other places they’re all going to come back in bigger numbers next year,” Kemp said. Cody Winnell

Saturday  night's Mildura Cup winner Hectorjayjay will not be aimed at the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday June 26. Trainer  David Aiken believes it is in the five-year-old gelding's best interest to be kept away from stablemate Lennytheshark this season but expects Hectorjayjay to progress to Harnesss Racings Grand Circuit level next season. The son of Dream Away has won both of his starts since joining the Aiken stable and was dominant in his most recent victory. "Hectorjayjay is a very talented horse and I don't really want to overtax him at this stage of his career so I'm going to look at the 4YO & 5YO Championship at Melton next month before getting him ready for a trip to Perth for the Inter Dominion," Aiken said. "I didn't ask too much of Lennytheshark during his five-year-old season and I think it really helps them develop into better horses at six. I'm pretty keen to keep Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark apart for the time being as well." Hectorjayjay has been driven by Gavin Lang in both of his starts for the Aiken stable. "I think Gavin is going to help make the horse, his patience will teach the horse how to race against the best ones. "He is an exciting prospect and what I was most happy about after Saturday was that Gavin said he handled the tighter track very well and that is important if he does make it to Gloucester Park for the Inter Dominion." Aiken confirmed Lennytheshark is on target to compete in the Len Smith Mile and has been back working in the water-walker. "He's been back at the water-walker for a fortnight so he'll return in pretty good condition. Ideally I'd like him to have two or three runs under his belt before going towards the Len Smith Mile." With ten boxes at the Menangle Training Centre, Aiken is keen to make a success of his new satellite stable but has no plans to relocate back to Sydney in the short-term. "Obviously there are family ties in Sydney, my mother lives over on the Northern Beaches and I've got two sisters over that way as well but at the moment I'm happy with the set-up. I'm still working through how I'm going to staff everything but the beauty of these ten boxes in Sydney is that if there is a race at Menangle that suits I can transport horses between Victoria and NSW. "Before getting the Menangle boxes I would have to speak with a Sydney trainer to see if they had room for me and it is a bit of an ask to be trying to get four or five stables off them. Plus if I want to make that group of four or five into a group of six I can." Aiken has already earmarked a Sydney trip for recent recruit Macha. The gelding was placed second in the WA Derby behind Alta Christiano in 2013 and is set to resume for his new stable. "Macha will be best suited at Menangle and he'll be doing a fair bit of racing in Sydney." Greg Hayes                    

Hectorjayjay gave his connections some carnival delight, saluting in the Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup.The Group 2 harness racing  victory, which captured the bulk of the $60,325 for David Aiken’s newly acquired five-year-old, was born out of an ice cool drive from Gavin Lang to win from local hope Murranji Track, who reaffirmed his status as a four-year-old on the rise. Hectorjayjay’s second victory at Group level was also one of five victories on the night for champion reinsman Lang. VIDEO REPLAY: WATCH HECTORJAYJAY WIN AND ETCH HIS NAME ON THE COVETED CUP The night’s feature largely went to plan. As the Good Form speed map predicted, Anthony Butt shot Stunning Grin to the front and Vince Vallelonga’s five-year-old ran less keenly than Tuesday’s record-breaking heat, controlling the race with a 74.7s lead time, 2.7s slower than in heat one. Murranji Track slotted on his tail from the box seat and held that place through the final bend, with Kerryn Manning driving Ideal Success to the breeze, trailed off the pegs by Itz Dreamin Jonesy and $1.70 favourite Hectorjayjay, who Lang eased into cover from barrier five. There they would remain until the 600m mark when Ideal Success couldn’t match Stunning Grin’s pace from the breeze, slipping back and prompting Lang to peel three-wide and take Hectorjayjay to the front. Amid a 27.9 third quarter, Hectorjayjay passed Stunning Grin on the outside around the bend and was unchallenged in a 28.6 final quarter, with pegs runners Murranji Track and Manuka Man coming off Stunning Grin’s back to run into second and third respectively. The 1:57.7 mile rate was just 0.2 outside the track record Stunning Grin set four days prior. Hectorjayjay, a five-year-old gelding by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse, now has career stakes of more than $250,000, with a 45 per cent winning strike rate from his 53 starts. The victory headlined an engaging night’s racing that brought to an end an enthralling Mildura Cups carnival and country cups circuit. Earlier in the night, Young Modern met expectations to give Lang the second of five winning drivers of the night in the Group 3 Mark Gurry & Associates Cup. After a luckless third in the heat, Young Modern carried punters favour in the final, starting at $1.70 and running accordingly with a 7m win for trainer Michael Stanley. Having been worked into the breeze from barrier 11 early in the running, despite a hefty workload Young Modern found separation on Matt Craven’s second-placed Emmanuel in the straight. The $20,048 pay day was the biggest of the five-year-old’s career since it saluted in the VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic as a three-year-old roughie in December 2013. Saturday night also featured the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas and again the punters got it right with $1.50 chance Hickstead, which Good Form’s Jason Bonnington declared a moral in the lead-up, winning by 2.6 for trainer-driver John Justice. There was plenty of pace on early in the 2190m mobile, with Justice taking Hickstead to the lead at the mile mark and then cooling his jets over 31.3 and 30.2 first and second quarters. Justice made a break in the third quarter and while Mister Magic Man battled on gamely to run into third, it was Here He Comes that challenged, looming as Hickstead tired but ultimately having to settle for second, beaten 2.3. Michael Howard 

Hectorjayjay has pulled up a peach and is ready for a repeat dose of harness racing success at Mildura racecourse. A dominant winner of the second Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup heat while on debut for trainer David Aiken, Hectorjayjay will start favourite in Saturday night’s final despite drawing outside Stunning Grin and Ideal Success on the front row. “There were a few good runners in the other heat, so it is going to be a good race,” Aiken told RSN’s Inside Word. “I think my horse will start favourite, but there are a lot of other good horses in the race.” VIDEO: JASON BONNINGTON TAKES A LOOK AT THE MILDURA CUP NIGHT QUADDIE Outside of Hectorjayjay, none are likely to start shorter than Stunning Grin, winner of Tuesday’s first heat after a scorching start that saw Vince Vallelonga’s five-year-old stop the clock at a 1:57.5 mile rate, a track record over 2600m. In the wake of the race Vallelonga told Trots Media he had the Mildura cup in mind for Stunning Grin for some time, and while he “was not super confident we can beat Hectorjayjay”, he “can make it tough for” Aiken’s favourite. Aiken said Hectorjayjay had recovered well from his heat after a light couple of days and benefitting from driver Gavin Lang’s light hands. “Gav (Lang) looked after him good (in the heat), he is renowned for getting horses through heats and finals,” Aiken said. “I think they went two seconds slower than the first (heat), hopefully that is to our advantage.” A Group 2 Mildura cup, with its $60,325 total purse, would be a significant early return for the Aiken stable, which has only recently taken training duties of the five-year-old by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse. “Those sort of horses are hard to come by,” Aiken said. “He has had a good career, Simone (Walker) did a great job with him and I hope I can just keep him at that level and have a bit more fun with him. “We are just learning a little about the horse now. We haven’t really got a plan after Mildura, so we just have to see how he recovers from the two runs in the week. Throughout his career he’s always been competitive against the really good ones. It’s a very good acquisition for the stable.” The Aiken stable also has Cold Major in tomorrow night’s final, a family favourite who will again be driven by David’s son Josh. “He’s drawn bad, but ... when they go hard he can compete with the better ones when things go his way,” Aiken said. “He’s got through the heat good too, so hopefully he will be good on Saturday night.” The pacing cup starts at 8.30pm and comes amid a 10-race card, which also includes the Mark Gurry and Associates Cup and the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Mildura, Saturday 09 April 2016 Form guide for Mildura, Saturday 09 April 2016

Hectorjayjay was superb last night on debut for the David Aiken harness racing stable, winning his Park Douglas Printing Mildura Cup heat with a last half of 56.1 seconds. Hectorjayjay rated 1:59.3 to defeat local Murranji Track by 9.8m as the annual Sunraysia carnival got under way to an action-packed start. While Hectorjayjay is likely to start a hot favourite for Saturday night’s Group 2 final, it was last night’s other heat winner, Stunning Grin, who broke the track record courtesy of a 1:57.5 mile-rate scorcher around the half-mile circuit. Trainer Vince Vallelonga was understandably thrilled with the performance of his five-year-old gelded son of Grinfromeartoear out of Rosalee Hanover. “I’ve had the Mildura Cup in my mind for him for a while,” he said. “I thought it was important he got to the fence first because he’d never been around Mildura before and if he got to the fence I thought he’d handle it. “Normally the horse flies the gate then drops the bit nicely. Last night he was hitting the wheel and that’s why he was taking off in patches… he’d hit the wheel again and away he goes. But we’ll fix that up for the weekend. “It was a real credit to the horse that after charging like that, which was out of character, he was able to finish it off so well. Even Anthony Butt said he was entitled not to finish it off like he did.” Stunning Grin has drawn gate three for the $60,325 final on Saturday night, outside Murranji Track and Itz Dreamin Jonesy. “Murranji Track has plenty of speed but it handed up last night and I think it would be in its best interests to hand up in the final,” Vallelonga said. “I’m not super confident we can beat Hectorjayjay… that horse doesn’t have to lead to win, but I figure in front he can run a quick half and make it tough for Hectorjayjay. Even before the track was done up I remember real good horses going up to Mildura and getting beat. It’s a very competitive track because people have to make moves. You’ve got to put your horse in the race.” Country cups specialist Ideal Success, who broke the track record securing the silverware at Ararat recently, has drawn barrier five for Kerryn Manning. Melton 1720m record-holder Cold Major will start from barrier 11 under the preferential barrier draw conditions, with recent Terang track record-breaker Glenferrie Hood drawn nine, inside prolific country cups performer Uncle Wingnut. View the fields for Saturday night’s Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup Final  Cody Winnell

Every time harness racing trainer Colin Rogers asks his four-year-old– the best horse’s he’s trained – to give a little more, Murranji Track responds. And so, after three open class wins on the trot, the trainer from Mildura’s outskirts will prepare his gelding for tonight’s Park Douglas Printing Mildura Cup Pacing heat en route to Saturday’s final. “It’s a bit of a challenge,” Rogers said. “It’s a rise in grade for him, but every time he is asked to step up he does. “He was a C4 and then a C5 and then he was up to open competition and won his first three starts. He will be there (at the business end). My first intent was to wait until he was a five-year-old (before entering the Mildura cup), but he is the best horse I’ve ever had.” Murranji Track will have to finish first five in a competitive heat to get a start in Saturday’s cup, but has been aided by being drawn the one among an eight-horse field, which includes Hectorjayjay having his first start in David Aiken’s stable. “He has seldom drawn the front,” Rogers said. “His first start in the open grade was from the front and he showed good gate sped and at the end ran 56 (seconds).” That was February 24 when Emma Hamblin drove Murranji Track to a 3m win when $1.80 favourite, with the gelding by Grinfromeartoear out of Jennas Beach Girl showing good gate speed. A similar start should have Murranji Track well placed to either lead or take the sit and have strong claims to qualify for the final, which Rogers said was tonight’s primary objective.  “We might drive him a bit conservative. He’ll be up there though, and he will be there to win it, but we are also looking to get him into the final,” Rogers said. While the stakes are high, not much will be foreign to Murranji Track, who was 12 wins from his 25 starts, of which 21 have been at Mildura.  “The main reason the horse has been racing here is because he has been a bastard of a traveller. He just about kicks the float to bits whenever he travels,” Rogers said. “At least when he runs at Mildura he has only got 10 minutes to knock himself around.” It’s hoped that as the gelding matures that will ease, sooner rather than later ideally with plans to have him chase the four-year-old Vicbred series. For now the focus remains closer to home. “It would be nice to win or run a place in the Mildura Cup. I had a runner (Panorama Drive) run third in the heat and fifth in the final a few years back (2011), but this horse is twice as good as he was.” Michael Howard Fields for Mildura, Tuesday 05 April 2016 Form guide for Mildura, Tuesday 05 April 2016

Kerryn Manning and Arden Rooney captured Cup No.4 this season as the former Kiwi gelding scored his seventh straight harness racing win in Saturday night’s Group 2 Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup. The brilliant son of leading sire Bettors Delight, who leads Art Major and Christian Cullen on the national top-20 sires table, ran to the lead inside the 1200m before coming right away for a 16.4-metre success in the 2600m, $50,275 feature. Manning piloted Arden Rooney, who started $1.60, an absolute treat – keeping him out of the early trouble when Hotasel galloped and unsettled the field – before dictating the second quarter (32.2secs) and then sprinting home in 56.4secs (28.5secs and 27.9secs third and fourth splits). The winner rated 1:58.6 – his mile rate second only to Safari's in 2007 in the race's record books. >> Arden Rooney takes out yet another cup Hotasel, driven by Simon Jardine, ran second from his pole draw at $43.20, hitting the line hard in the final 50m. His run was encouraging given he galloped early, while Major Crocker led from two before trailing Arden Rooney and battled on for third at odds of $7.20. Lets Elope ran fourth, Beachstar was brave in fifth and Uncle Wingnut was also courageous after a tough run to finish sixth. Of the beaten brigade Chilli Palmer had no luck in transit, working double-time in the run after getting caught wide around the galloping Hotasel early, while Franco Ledger was also inconvenienced early and failed to run on late. The Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas went to Glenferrie Bunter (Somebeachsomewhere/Laugh Out Loud) for trainer/driver Ryan Hryhorec, who took the colt to the lead early. The winner got away with a 31.3secs first quarter before pacing through the second split in 30.3secs. Glenferrie Bunter upped the tempo significantly down the back, racing well clear with a 28.3secs third stanza, and when he headed down the side it was game over for rivals – the South Australian pacer in a world of his own. Coming home with a 28.7secs final quarter (57secs last half) Glenferrie Bunter scored by 42.9 metres. It felt like an eternity waiting for the second horse to clock in, Big Shot Bob working home at $16 for Greg Sugars, with Riley James also hitting the line strongly for Michael Bellman at $15.10 in third. >> Re-live Glenferrie Bunter's enormous Mildura Guineas win Emma Stewart and Gavin Lang combined to take out the annual Mark Gurry & Associates Cup with four-year-old Art Major entire Major Secret, who defeated runner-up Sapphire Swayze by 4.9 metres. From the pole, Major Secret started $1.30 with the bookies and controlled the race with a winning mile rate of 1:59.9. Ryan Hryhorec took driving honours on Cup night with a winning double courtesy of the abovementioned Guineas triumph and victory on Franck Mercieca-trained Vee Rock – by Universal Rock out of Sands A Flyin Kiwi mare Annie Teaghan – in the Loddon Valley Stud Free-for-All at $13.80. Boris Devcic finished with a training double, Captain Under Fire (Courage Under Fire/Awakemecate) taking out the Mallee Bearings Pace at $6.40 and striking gelding Soho Jagger (Art Major/Chip And Gale) causing a boil-over in the Mildura Working Man’s Club Pace Final over 2190m, winning at $55.20. Other winners were Freds A Safari (by previous Mildura Cup winner and race record holder Safari out of Monaloo) in the DNR Logistics Pace, Barnbougle Jack in the Mildura Rural City Council Pace for Ken Tippett (the gelding by Gotta Go Cullect out of Phoebe Mae), Outback Hall (Blissful Hall out of Stoneridge Connie) for Damian Wilson and Tim Mortlock at $18 in the Sunraysia Daily Pace, and Bettors Delight/Morcheeba five-year-old Angus T Jones for Geoff Webster in the Zilzie Wines Pace. Art Major and Bettors Delight, like they’ve done on numerous prior occasions, shared the breeding honours on the night, each notching a winning double. The Mildura quaddie paid $328.80 (get full TAB results) by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Friday night @ Tabcorp Park Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks heats @ 6pm, 8.30pm and 9.30pm Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies heats @ 10pm and 11.05pm Harness Breeders (Vic) Ian Daff Memorial @ 8pm Saturday night @ Mildura Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup Final @ 9pm Mark Gurry & Associates Cup Final @ 8pm Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas @ 8.30pm Get the full fields and form via harness.org.au   - FEATURE OF THE WEEK - PARK DOUGLAS PRINTING MILDURA PACING CUP FINAL 2600 metres -- mobile start -- $50,275 -- Group 2 1: HOTASEL Trainer: Murray Jardine Driver: Simon Jardine Form comment: Ouyen gelding who qualified for the Cup with a third placing behind Major Crocker and Cut For An Ace in the heat. Drawn for a soft run and could sneak a place with a bit of luck in transit.   2: MAJOR CROCKER Trainer: Vince Vallelonga Driver: Greg Sugars Form comment: Super four-year-old who won his heat by a head over Cut For An Ace. Won last year's 3YO Breeders Crown Final and also swept the Southern Cross Series in South Australia. Drawn to get the pegs and he's the main danger to Arden Rooney for mine. Can he beat the Hunter Cup champ though? Greg Sugars says they're not going out to run second!   3: BEACHSTAR Trainer: Joe Costa Driver: John Justice  Form comment: Won back-to-back races in February and loves Mildura. Should get a nice run here from the good barrier and did defeat Hotasel recently. Place hope.   4: OUR WALDEN BURY (EM1) Trainer: Robert Hyder Driver: Damian Wilson Form comment: He's an honest gelding but form isn't good enough to be winning here if he does gain a start.   5: CUT FOR AN ACE Trainer: Adam Kelly Driver: Zac Phillips Form comment: Big run in the heat to finish a close-up second to Major Crocker. Ultra-consistent seven-year-old who always seems to be around the mark.    6: CHILLI PALMER Trainer: Dean Braun Driver: Gavin Lang Form comment: Sat without cover for the last lap and a half in his heat when third behind Arden Rooney and Lets Elope. Sit-sprint specialist, but seems to have a few extra strings to his bow of late - having sat without cover to win the Gawler Cup recently. He's better than his heat third would suggest and with luck in running he's a knockout chance despite the wide alley.    7: LETS ELOPE Trainer: Brent Lilley Driver: Anthony Butt Form comment: Showed plenty of early speed in the heat and finished second to Arden Rooney. Previous second to Hectorjayjay is good form and stable confident they've got him back to his best. Has to be considered right in the mix.     8: SAINT FLASH Trainer: Glenn Douglas Driver: Ellen Tormey Form comment: Has been solid enough of late but is likely to find this a pretty tough task from the back row.    9: UNCLE WINGNUT Trainer: Joe Costa Driver: Michael Bellman Form comment: Scored a rock-solid win in the Ouyen Cup two runs back and then last time out sat outside the leader and battled away gamely behind Major Crocker. With the right run he's capable of running a mighty race. Include.    10: ARDEN ROONEY Trainer: Kerryn Manning Driver: Kerryn Manning Form comment: Brilliant gelding who has won six straight races, including the Hunter Cup and cups at Terang and Geelong. He's the class runner of the field and on the strength of his form if he's 100 per cent then he'll win.    11: FRANCO LEDGER Trainer: Geoff Webster Driver: Geoff Webster  Form comment: Just racing a shade below what we know he can produce. Didn't fire in his heat at his first go at Mildura. It's a track that you're either suited to or you're not. But you don't write anyone off after just one average effort. This fella won a Group 1 three starts back and if he produces the lightning sprint that carried him to second place in the Hunter Cup then look out when the heat is on!    Tips: 10 Arden Rooney, 2 Major Crocker, 11 Franco Ledger, 6 Chilli Palmer. (By: Cody Winnell)     BIG6 Jackpot TONIGHT @ Melton Get your mates together and have a crack at landing the BIG6 tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The TAB is pumping $20,000 into the BIG6 pool (Races 3-8) with the first leg under way at 7pm.  So get trackside, visit your local TAB outlet, visit the TAB website or bet on your TAB app.      TAB Trots/AFL Special: Round 2 If Adam Cooney kicks one goal or more against Hawthorn this Sunday and Arden Rooney wins the Mildura Pacing Cup on Saturday night, punters who back the Rooney and Cooney TAB Trots/AFL Special will collect! The Tab has put up $2.50 about the double, a great price given many form experts believe Arden Rooney will start long odds-on on Saturday night and Cooney jagged three goals first-up for the Bombers against Sydney last weekend. Access the special online by clicking here, have a crack at the track, at your local TAB outlet or via the TAB app. Have a crack on track this weekend, at your local TAB outlet, online at tab.com.au or on your TAB app.     #Girls #Trots #Oaks #APG The fastest fillies in the trots will clash tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. Three heats of the Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks will pit the best three-year-old girls against one another over 2240m, all vying for a start in the Victoria Oaks final on April 18. And two heats of the rich Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies series will also be decided, while the Harness Breeders (Vic) Ian Daff Memorial will feature open-age female pacers over the 1720-metre short-course trip. READ THE FULL STORY  

Eight year old Jet Laag / Preserved entire Im Blue Double Dee was victorious in taking out 57th running of the harness racing $50,275 (Group 2) Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup for M0 or better class horses over 2600 metres at Mildura on Saturday April 13. In what was a real family affair, Im Blue Double Dee trained at Bathurst (NSW) by Steve Turnbull, raced by wife Jenny and driven by daughter Amanda settled four back along the markers after starting from gate two on the second line, with the polemarker Maastricht leading as the start was effected keeping the favourite Flaming Flutter (gate three) wide and Machin Out even wider on the track from outside the front row. Driven with aggression by Greg Sugars Flaming Flutter was able to assume control within a lap. The action didn’t stop there however, as runs came thick and fast with Hilltop Hustler and Mark Dennis both making forward moves through the middle stages. This allowed Shayne Cramp aboard the home town hero Washington Heritage to ease away from three back the markers into the running line mid-race after starting from inside the second line and going forward to park outside the leader with around two laps to travel. Putting his foot to the floor at the bell, Cramp and Washington Heritage pressured the leader which kicked away on the final bend. While all this was going on, Im Blue Double Dee which had moved to be three back the markers after Washington Heritage left the inside appeared to be travelling approaching the final bend. Gaining an inside passage on turning (no sprint lane), Im Blue Double Dee ran home best to score by two metres in a thrilling finish over a game Flaming Flutter, with Maastricht running the race of her life to finish third .9 metres away. Both the runner up and third placegetter shifted away from the inside on straightening. Kotare Roland finished fourth after following the winner throughout. In quarters of 30.7, 31.7, 29.7 and 28.4 for the final mile, Im Blue Double Dee returned a mile rate of 1-59.1 for the journey, nine tenths of a second outside Safari’s 1-58.2 set in 2007 and in winning, took his stakes tally to almost $200,000. A winner of 21 races from 110 outings prior to the race, Im Blue Double Dee has been a consistent performer in the Western part of NSW since he first graced the tracks. Im Blue Double Dee was the fourth NSW trained winner of the prestigious race, the others being Wongala Glen (Bill McKenzie 1965), Dillon Light (Kevin Robinson 1973) and Ben’s Image (Vic Frost 1987), although Wongala Glen did the majority (if not all) of his racing in Victoria as he was trained just across the Murray River from Swan Hill. On a night of features, S-A visitors Caribbean Crest (Toby Ryan – Scott Dyer) scored in the $30,275 (Group 2) Mark Gurry & Associates Cup and Glenferrie Affair (Ryan Hryhoric) the $15,275 Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas, while Uncle Wingnut (Vince Costa – Michael Bellman) the $17,775 Loddon Valley Stud Free For All. Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

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