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The upcoming 2017 Brisbane harness racing winter carnival may have suffered its first major casualty. Richly talented pacer Catcha Lefty has been struck down by a virus and has been sent to the spelling paddock for some down time meaning the four-year-old will miss the features. A winner of the Queensland Derby last season, Catcha Lefty has recently returned from a frustrating Sydney campaign which netted only one victory from four starts for husband and wife team of Charlie Cini and Cristina Monte. A spate of bad draws and no luck meant the Village Jasper gelding missed a birth in the Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire which was ultimately won by New Zealand star Lazarus. “Sydney was a wipeout for him because nothing really went to plan; it was disappointing to miss a spot in the Chariots because that was the whole reason for the trip south. He was just about ready to start again up here before becoming ill which forced our hand to give him a good break.” Cini said. Catcha Lefty loomed as a serious challenger for the Gr.3 $30,000 4yo Championship on July 1, the opening night of the Albion Park winter carnival while connections were considering the open class features. The Gr.2 $50,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 8) followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake (July 15) were possibilities depending on form. “It’s disappointing that we will miss those type pf races but the horse comes first, we believe he’s a potential open class horse of the future so we won’t take any risks with him. We’ll give him as long as needs before returning to work. “He’s won 15 from 32 and proven he can match it with the best so we’re mindful of his future and this break might prove to be a blessing. We’ve always said he’s the best horse that Chrissie and I have had and we’ll look after him because I’m sure he’ll repay us in the future. “He was probably only a week off starting before we picked up on the virus, he’s been treated and some time on the green grass is the best medicine for him.” Catcha Lefty last raced on February 11 at Menangle when finishing at the rear after a tough run in a time of 1:50.3. Chris Barsby

Catcha Lefty is going to take his shot. The Queensland Derby winner will head south this week (Wednesday) in preparation for the harness racing Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at TABCORP Park, Menangle scheduled for February 11. The two qualifying races, the Gr.2 $50,000 Hondo Grattan and Paleface Adios Sprints are slated for January 21 and 28, both to be staged at Menangle. Husband and wife combination of Charlie Cini and Cristina Monte are willing to contest both lead-up events if required but are hopeful of securing a start in the four-year-old feature. “This is what we’re in the business for, to get a nice and contest the bigger events so we’re going to give him his opportunity. Obviously this crop is outstanding headed by the New Zealand horses but we’re hopeful of gaining an invitation for the big race.” Co-trainer Cini said. Since returning from his biggest triumph during the Brisbane winter carnival, Catcha Lefty has shaped nicely in two runs back from the break and heads south in peak condition. The Village Jasper gelding was beaten but far from disgraced first-up on December 17 when speedy mare Cherish The Moment led throughout at Albion Park in a time of 1:53.1. Catcha Lefty sat without cover on that occasion and went down by a shot half head margin. In his latest effort on January 3, Catcha Lefty scored a clinical victory at Albion Park in a time of 1:55.8. “He’s in great shape; the first-up run was excellent and Shane (Graham – driver) was absolutely thrilled while his latest effort was very good and they were running into a strong head wind that day. It was a perfect run given his tough first-up effort and he’s trained on since. “We have no doubt he goes best with a sit, coming off cover and unfortunately we don’t get many opportunities to drive him that manner up here but we will when he races in Sydney. He came off cover when he won the Queensland Derby last season. “His first start will come in the Hondo Grattan and then we’ll reassess after that, the news that Lazarus is heading to Melbourne now rather than contesting this event is a bonus. He’s come back in great shape, he grew a touch taller and definitely filled out a little more, I think he’s set for a good campaign.” Regular reinsman Shane Graham is currently suspended after incurring a two week driving suspension at Redcliffe last week but will be back to drive him on Saturday week. Catcha Lefty has won 14 of his 28 starts to date while banking more than $177,000. Also joining Catcha Lefty on the trip south are talented stablemates Bring On Lefty and Firebby while Cold Ideal, Stonebridge Royal, Armbro Teehee and Marshal Dale are also on board. The Cini/Monte team will be based with Daryl New on course at Menangle during their campaign. by Chris Barsby

Marvilloso promised a lot as a young horse but couldn't quite make the grade but perseverance has paid dividends for his harness racing trainer and part-owner Adrian Duggan. The five-year-old powered home after enjoying a gun run to score comfortably from Marnu The Beast and Gaggle Coordinator in the CUB Pace over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart on Sunday night. He had a bunch of minor placings in his first preparation for Duggan before being sent to Victoria where he was bred with the hope of picking up some of the big prizemoney up for grabs through the Vicbred bonus scheme. "We bought this horse for $7000 and even though he hadn't won as a two or three-year-old we thought he might as well have a crack in Victoria so we sent the horse to Scott Dyer but we had no luck from three tries and brought him back home," Duggan said. Marvilloso developed a few issues that needed to be addressed but it was only when Duggan decided it was time to geld the horse that the improvement started. "We kept him an entire because he is such a lovely natured horse but in the end his manhood was presenting a few issues with his gait so we gelded him and it's made a big difference. "This is his first preparation as a gelding and he's been very competitive and this win will help his confidence." The Village Jasper gelding has started 27 times for this win and eight minor placings and while a lot of horses with such modest form might have been dispatched to a life at pony clubs or farm horse he has remained with Duggan for one prime season. "My wife Amanda absolutely loves the horse so we kept him going and that's why it's so great that he's finally won a race and I'm sure there are more wins left in him." Peter Staples

The Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake has been won in brilliant style by Ohoka Punter, who held out harness racing favourite Hectorjayjay and Ultimate Art in a night that was full of curve balls. Rain fell steadily throughout the evening as some of the best pacers in Australasia prepared themselves for the biggest meet in Queensland harness, Catcha Lefty winning the Queensland Derby, Im Norma Jean winning the QBRED Triad fillies final and Changeoverme coming home in the QBRED Triad colts & geldings. Ohoka Punter had an outstanding lead in the Blacks A Fake, coming into the straight at a pace that couldn’t be caught in the run home.  Trainer/driver Nathan Purdon scored his first Group 1 win with Ohoka Punter tonight (Saturday) but knew favourite Hectorjayjay would put up a mammoth fight heading into the race. “I knew Ohoka Punter was at the top of his game tonight, but Hector’s a great horse and I knew that Gavin (Hectorjayjay’s driver Gavin Lang) would try to stay in front of me, it made it difficult but Bettor's Delight stallion stuck to his guns,” “It’s unreal you know, my first group one, I’ll always remember it,” said Purdon. Hectorjayjay put in a great run to come second, doing some hard work early in getting to the front which may have taken some sting from his trademark finish. While Nathan Purdon planned on having “a few beers with the boys” to celebrate his first Group 1 win, Ohoka Punter will have a brief break before continuing on with his campaign. “He can have a few days off, then we’ll head towards Melbourne where he can contest a few free for all races and then it’s Perth for the Inter Dominion,” said Purdon. The Queensland Derby was another curveball of the night, it was a surprise win for Catcha Lefty, the good draw (gate two) letting him find a comfortable position behind the leader before getting up towards the inside to secure a popular local victory. The Village Jasper gelding beat quality horses like Match In Heaven and Stanley Ross Robyn in a driving finish. Star filly Nek Time, who unfortunately pulled up during the race and was said to be carrying a mild virus. In both the QBRED Triad Finals, both the favourites and the Picket Fence contenders were knocked out of the win. Im Norma Jean (Modern Art) claimed the QBRED Triad filly’s final win, the gutsy youngster coming home in fine form down the outside to take the victory. Picket Fence hopeful Slippery Jade had a tough run throughout the race, fighting well to place fourth, favourite Jossie Jones coming in third. The QBRED Triad final for colts and geldings saw Changeoverme (Changeover) came through on the inside to take a brilliant win, the promising gelding probably going better than its form read going into the race. Maestro Bellini did a lot of work in the run, battling on well in the straight to come third, as did Rock With Sam who looked like winning but got run down in the final stages to take second. Racing Queensland

Classy Queensland youngster Catcha Lefty is ready to go again. But he just needs to secure a start in a trial before connections look at a race return in the coming weeks to kick start his three-year-old harness racing season. Sounds easy, right? The Cristina Monte and Charlie Cini trained Village Jasper – Lefty gelding was balloted from a trial this week leaving connections a little bemused. Catcha Lefty hasn’t started since competing in the Gr.1 $288,000 Australasian Breeders Crown Final at Melton on August 30 when 7th behind the unbeaten and freakishly talented Our Waikiki Beach. “The reason we want to trail him is because we’ve made an adjustment to his gear and just want to make sure everything is right with it. We’re planning on racing him this season without a headcheck and just want to see how he is behind the mobile without it, he works at home without it and its fine but the mobile on race day is a little different.” Cini said. The precocious talent secured 7 victories from 11 starts last season and clearly stamped himself as one of the shining talents in the sunshine state and another big season beckons. Obvious targets will include the QBRED features while many other features are also under strong consideration, another interstate trip will depend on how his form reads at the time. “He’s ready to go but we want that trial, we nominated for yesterday (Tuesday) but got left out because of a number of reasons. They told me preference was being given to those who need to re-qualify and then they said stable allocation was at a premium, it’s a little frustrating when you have a horse like this standing at home with nowhere to go. “We’re really happy with the way he’s come up at this stage of his preparation but a trial without the headcheck will certainly tell us a lot more. He had a good break after arriving home from Melbourne and he put on plenty of weight, probably a little too much because he loves his tucker but he has trimmed down nicely now. “The QBRED features are the main targets and hopefully the winter carnival will offer something for us but that’s a long way down the track at this stage. The talent pool is very strong so it won’t be easy this season but you have to be in it to win it.” The biggest success last season for Catcha Lefty came via the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park back in June. by Chris Barsby

The country cups king from two seasons ago was back on his harness raciung throne today at Wedderburn as Arber reigned in the Graham Jacka Holden Wedderburn Pacing Cup. A little over a month since the track came alive with Hamish and Andy's Race That Slows The Nation, Wedderburn again felt the thunder of hooves return, this time of the trots variety. And it was Arber and an Ararat reinsman stealing the show. Driver Michael Bellman snared a winning treble, his successful steer aboard the pacing cup winner the standout effort. The win in the 2555-metre feature race was also the first leg of a winning double for Anakie trainer Tim Bolitho, who teamed with Bellman to claim the last race with All Eyes And Ears. Nine-year-old Arber, by Village Jasper out of Any Danger, held off Smo and Tere T at the finish, breaking the track reecord by 0.4secs a week after his Stawell record mark was bettered by Yankee Rockstar. Arber showed his customary early dash from behind the tapes to be vying for the lead early before eventually settling for the trail behind pacemaker Loong Nien. Around the final bend Bellman made his move sweeping around Loong Nien, continuing his momentum up the stretch as Smo darted into second place along the sprint lane. At the wire Arber had 1.6m to spare over Smo, with Tere T 6.6m off the winner in third and Loong Nien fourth. Arber has now won 20 races for almost $212,000 in stake money. Bellman began his treble in Race 2 with victory aboard Sheezawingate. Inglewood trainer Trevor Ralph and his six-year-old gelding Rumbustious (by Barcardi Lindy out of Perfect Report) took out the Richmond and Associates Wedderburn Trotters Cup, going all the way in the 2555m race from the stand start to defeat Dabbsey and Maorisfavouritesun. by Cody Winnell Video replays (Arber wins the Wedderburn Pacing Cup & Rumbustious wins the Trotters Cup)

David Hewitt doesn’t claim to have any preference for racing females, or to have any special knack with them, but a double with two five-year-old mares at last Wednesday’s Bathurst harness racing meeting might give him cause to reconsider. Village Jasper daughter Verdot ($10.30) used the increasingly-popular Bathurst sprint lane to edge out a very bunched field in the second race, a C4 sprint, and two races later, Keilor Kimberly ($2.60 favourite), by Browning Blue Chip, came from the one-one to narrowly take out  a C2 Tabcorp Park Country Series heat. Hewitt was pleased with the efforts of both mares, which have held their form very well over the winter, and was especially pleased to see Verdot bounce back from an unlucky run, when she locked wheels, at her previous start. Keilor Kimberly likes the speed on in her races, so a fast lead time and three sub-30 second quarters, as she peeled from her one-one sit, had her backers feeling rather smug as they turned for home. The mare ran to a clear lead early in the straight, and the result looked a formality, but someone forgot to tell Ashlee Siejka and the death-seating Hi Its Only Me NZ, which fought right to the wire, to go down by just a head, in a 1:56.5 rate. “She travelled so well in the run, I turned her loose as soon as we straightened, but I think I probably went a bit early on her – she’d had enough on the line,” said a relieved Hewitt after the result came down. The Goulburn-based trainer currently has about 20 horses in work and he’s a popular figure at Bathurst, where he and son Brad have a very good strike-rate. Emma Turnbull also drove a double at the meeting, to continue her excellent start to the new season. She drove 14 winners at her home track last season, and seems certain to exceed that figure very early this time around. Shes The Real Deal ($1.30 favourite, for Lester Hewitt) dominated from the lead in the opening race, a C1-C2 mares sprint, reeling off a slick 28.2 final quarter to gap her rivals by almost 10 metres, with seemingly plenty in hand. “I’m pleased to be able to take these drives for Lester, while J.T. (O’Shea) is away" "I’m having a very good run at the moment, and I guess I’m a good fill-in,” was Emma’s modest self-appraisal. Racecaller Kevin Thompson clearly agreed, by applying the winner’s name to the driver herself. After Dave Hewitt’s double, and winners to Ash Siejka (Our Leonardo), Mat Rue (Izzy Watt) and Chris Geary (Smiling Cullen), Emma completed her double with one of her mother’s team in the 2260 metres C0- class seventh race. Soldier Of Fortune NZ ($9.70) occupied the one-one position for most of the race, and held on in a desperately close finish from Lap Dancer, which raced inside it on the markers.  A dawdling pace accounted for the 2:03.5 mile rate, easily the slowest on a night of otherwise quick times. Steve Turnbull rounded out the meeting with an all-the-way win in 3YO class with Iownaturbo ($3.30), the third win in just eight starts for the filly, who improves with every run. After the earlier win of stable runner Smiling Cullen, his was the third double for the meeting. It attracted a good crowd, and with five favourites successful, they headed home pretty pleased with themselves. Terry Neil

After bookending the harness racing program at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night with a couple of his stable favourites, South Australian horseman Robert Caruso is confident of further Victorian success this coming weekend. Caruso-trained horses won two heats of the Battle of the Claimers, Paleface Jasper (11G Village Jasper/My Paleface Navajo) taking the first in 1:55.7 and My Man Dan (10G Pacific Rocket/Fullabubbles) heat four in 1:56.9. Both were driven by Chris Alford, who finished with a winning treble for the night. “I brought them over a month ago and thought they’d go well but things just didn’t quite work out,” Caruso said. “Dan didn’t travel for whatever reason last time. I changed up a few things and that seemed to work. And Paleface had to work too hard.” Paleface Jasper ran to the lead after about 500m and dictated terms from there, race favourite Livin It Lovin It (Rodney Petroff) coming around to the breeze through a 30.1secs second quarter. At the home turn both the first and second horses were put to pressure but Paleface Jasper wasn’t going to be denied, fighting on doggedly to score by a half-neck. “I knew if Jasper got to the front he’d be a hard horse to beat,” Caruso said. Ten races later it was Caruso and Alford to the fore again with My Man Dan, who, like his other successful stablemate is a former Queensland pacer. My Man Dan was driven off the pace, one-out and two back, before easing three-wide at the 600m. At the home corner My Man Dan loomed up to hit the front with Ballochbuie (Greg Sugars) and My Elusive Dream (Alison Chisholm) joining in four- and five-wide. The three engaged in a cracking tussle up the stretch but My Man Dan found enough to win, the last quarter run in 28.2secs. “He was just a jump and charge horse up in Queensland but I always thought a horse with that much speed has to be able to come from behind,” Caruso said. “We changed things up a bit and he’s won four of his last six, so he’s got a few extra strings to his bow.” Mighty Mav (5G Town Champion/Shes A Dancer), trained by Matthew Craven and driven by Chris Svanosio, and Inky Cullen (Christian Cullen/Inky Lady), trained by Dean Braun and driven by Alex Ashwood, were the other Battle of the Claimers heat winners on Saturday night. Mighty Mav went 1:56.6 and Inky Cullen posted a rate of 1:55.8. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria >> Video: Paleface Jasper too strong >> Video: My Man Dan overpowers his rivals

It was a homecoming fit for a queen. Natalie Rasmussen, aka Miss Inter Dominion returned to the feature race stage at Albion Park tonight (Saturday) and claimed two feature harness racing events. Rasmussen landed the Gr.2 $50,000 Seymour Premiers Cup with race favourite Gentle Western who led throughout while she guided star filly Fight For Glory to victory in the Gr.3 $30,000 UBET Gold Coast Oaks. The winning Oaks drive was tactically brilliant. Fight For Glory (Art Major) defeated stablemate Linda Lovegrace while local filly Bettor Promise ran a brave third in a mile rate of 1;55.9 for the 2138m with the final half covered in 56.3 seconds. Gentle Western, a lightly raced stayer with enormous potential stepped safely before leading his rivals a merry dance in the 2647m stand-start marathon defeating Corporal Luna and Raring To Go in a race record time of 1;57.7. The last half was covered in 55.7 seconds. The Western Ideal – Gentle Audrey stallion is raced by Natalie’s mother, Cheryl Rasmussen and Trevor Titcomb. The All Stars stable of Rasmussen and Mark Purdon will aim their runners at several features in the coming weeks during the Brisbane winter carnival which will be staged on July 4, 11 and 18. Rasmussen is based in Christchurch with Purdon. The Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic 2yo Finals were also staged and provided thrilling finishes in both finals with Catcha Lefty and Get In The Groove proving victorious. Catcha Lefty was the punters elect and scored narrowly from New South Wales visitor Roarn after locking wheels over the concluding stages while Make A Statement finished third in a time of 1;55.1. The Village Jasper – Lefty gelding has now won 6 of his 7 starts and will head to the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final on July 18. He is raced by his breeder and trainer, Cristina Monte and was handled by leading reinsman Shane Graham. In the Fillies division, Get In The Groove sprintlaned to defeat Covert Beauty and Firebby in a time of 1;57.0. Get In The Groove trailed race favourite Reds Jet Star before sprinting quickly over the concluding stages. The Mach Three – Get Happy filly is raced by her breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour. Trista Dixon took the winning drive; the filly is trained by her husband Grant. The Dixon stable struck in the feature trotting event, the $15,000 Statewide Taxation Services Marathon when former New Zealand Sharons Millicent led throughout in the 3157m event. Unbeaten in six Australian starts prior to tonight, the Monkey Bones – Black Onyx mare kept her perfect record in place scoring comfortably from Mister Malakye and Its Three By Two. The winning mile rate for the stand-start feature was 2;06.7. Handled by trainer/driver Grant Dixon, Sharons Millicent is raced by Sharon Mitchell. And reigning Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova made a successful return when he led throughout in the Garrards Horse & Hound Open defeating Forever Gold and Caesars Folly. The free legged pacer was resuming since competing in the Inter Dominion Grand Final on March 1, Avonnova recorded a winning mile rate of 1;57.3 for the 2647m. Co-owner and trainer Ian Gurney is aiming his ‘stablestar’ at several features next month including the $100,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 4) and the $125,000 Blacks A Fake (July 18). Fight For Glory Gentle Western

It’s a family tree that runs deep. Very deep. And exciting harness racing rookie Catcha Lefty is quickly proving himself to be the best of the progeny of Fake Left mare Lefty for the Cini / Monte families. Husband and wife team of Charlie Cini and Cristina Monte prepare Catcha Lefty, a pacer they bred, raised and reared before taking him all the way through to the precocious talent that he is today. Catcha Lefty is the ruling favourite for Saturday night’s Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic 2yo Colts & Geldings Final at Albion Park after winning five of his six starts to date. “He’s a classy horse with a great attitude, he’s been great to deal with from the very start and he’s kept improving all the way through. We think a lot of him and hopefully he keeps improving.” Cini said. The Village Jasper gelding hails from great lineage, his mother Lefty has proven to be quite the broodmare leaving ten individual winners from ten foals to race to date. Lefty was no slouch herself and amassed a fine record of 17 victories and 26 minor placings from 67 lifetime starts but her value as a broodmare has proven to be immeasurable. Her winners to date include Chucka Lefty (9 wins - $51k), Shes A Lefty (10 wins - $102k), Lotsa Lefty (4 wins - $17k), Another Lefty (7 wins - $24k), Major Lefty (17 wins - $88k), Just A Lefty (9 wins - $29k), Royal Lefty (2 wins - $6k), Feelin Good Lefty ( 2 wins - $11k), Bring On Lefty (1 win - $2k) and now Catcha Lefty. The last foal for Lefty is Mr Feelgood colt. “We retired her after the Mr Feelgood colt and she’s now enjoying retirement at home with us, she’s been an absolute star at stud and we’re very lucky to have a mare like her. It didn’t matter what stallion covered her, she just kept throwing winner after winner. “I think Catcha Lefty is the best of her progeny but she’s had some good ones including Shes A Lefty, Another Lefty was a trotter by Safely Kept and he could trot on his day, it just underlines her worth. “Catcha Lefty has speed, real speed and that separates him from his brothers and sisters. From the time we broken him in, he was a natural and his attitude is great, he’s a very intelligent horse. He’s the only youngster that we staked for the Breeders Crown so that just proves what we think of him.” Catcha Lefty has drawn nicely in gate four on Saturday night. Connections will target the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final on July 18 at Albion Park while a Breeders Crown campaign will also be strongly considered. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 20 June 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 20 June 2015

Well-bred filly Flojos Gold made it successive wins to start her harness racing career and booked a 2YO Fillies Vicbred Super Series semi-final berth at Mildura on Friday. Trained in South Merbein by Ian Watson, Flojos Gold is a half-sister to Kira Jo ($50,000 Vicbred Home Grown Classic 3YO Fillies winner last year) and Madison Louise (1:55.9 winner at Melton and an APG semi-final placegetter at two). Flojos Gold is a daughter of Grinfromeartoear out of Jasper Jo, who was also a handy race mare (13 wins from 91 starts, including a 1:56.3 win at Moonee Valley and a third placing in a Breeders Crown Graduate Mares Free-for-All in 2009). Driven by Luke Watson, Flojos Gold held the front from gate one in the second of the Vicbred 2YO fillies’ heats at the 2190-metre start and was never headed, rating 2:01.2 (last 800m covered in 58.8secs). Hilltop Sophia ran second for trainer Gawler River trainer Peter Bain and driver Matthew Smith, while Drumborg trainer Kevin Brough combined with reinsman Michael Bellman with Just Wantano in third place. Luke Watson made it back-to-back Vicbred heat wins on the day aboard Brooke Hanson-trained Starwyn Jasper later on the program. The son of Village Jasper/Issadora lobbed the one-one early as the leaders fought for the early ascendency (lead time 42secs). The frontrunners kept the pressure on throughout (29.4secs and 29.3secs middle splits after a 30.5secs opening quarter). At the home bend Murranji Track had the better of early leader and odds-on race favourite Hez The One, but Starwyn Jasper was the fresh horse on the scene and finished too well to win by 1.1m in a rate of 1:59.3. Itmademyday ran second for Damian Wilson and Scout Hall Road was third for Simon Jardine. 2YO FILLIES 2nd HEAT Finishing order Video replay 3YO COLTS & GELDINGS 3rd HEAT Finishing order Video replay Cody Winnell  

Prominent South Australian harness racing participant Ryan Hryhorec has enjoyed another raid on Victoria’s riches. Hryhorec made the trek across the border for last night’s Mildura meeting and returned home with a treble. “I’m very pleased with the result,” Hryhorec declared. “Especially with Sammy Seelster. “I had been waiting to find the right race for him there as he is eligible for the Vicbred bonus. “For him to pick it up at his first attempt it a great result.” Leading throughout from barrier five, Sammy Seelster staved off a late challenge from Scout Hall Road to score by a head, with One Golden Day five-and-a-half metres away third. Covering the last half in 60.1 seconds, the son of Gotta Go Cullect rated 2:02.5 for the 2190 metres. “He has been racing well, so I knew he’d be hard to beat,” Hryhorec said. “I’ve got nothing specific in mind for him now, so he will just go in whatever suitable races I can find for him back home.” Hryhorec completed a running double when he piloted Skylarker to a drought-breaking victory. Also leading throughout, the daughter of Village Jasper registered her first win since August 2014. “That was her last run for me,” Hryhorec said. “I think she will be better suited to the smaller track at Mildura, so she will head to Frank Cavallaro’s stable. “I’m sure she can win a couple more there.” Hryhorec then combined with fellow South Australian trainer Allan Cronin to score with Trysomemagic, which led throughout in 2:02.3 for the 2190 metres. “It was good to get that win for Allan and topped the night right off,” Hryhorec said. PAUL COURTS

At his 10th country cup start this season Road To Rock won his second harness racing trophy. The Keith Cotchin trained seven-year-old edged out Macho Comacho in a thrilling finish to Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup – adding the victory to his feature race CV alongside his St Arnaud Cup triumph earlier this season. The gelded son of Village Jasper/Diva La Diva ran to the front after Macho Comacho and Ardle McArdle both held interim leads early. Ardle McArdle stepped strongly from seven to tackle early leader Macho Comacho out of three, working to the front when Macho Comacho galloped. Macho Comacho (Chris Alford) quickly got back into stride and hooked off the markers to retake control at the head of affairs, Nathan Jack then seizing the initiative to grab the front aboard Road To Rock when Macho Comacho slowed, which pocketed Ardle McArdle (Amanda Turnbull) three-pegs. Reigning Ararat Cup winner Savesomtimetodream with Jodi Quinlan aboard then made his move to work to the breeze, giving 2013 Ararat Cup winner Jukebox Music (Glenn Douglas) one-one cover. Kotare Roland (Neil McCallum) was four-back the markers, Weallwantano (Matthew Craven) on his back, with Turnpike Cruiser (Zac Phillips), Hilltop Hustler (Michael Stanley) and Farmersntradies (Michael Sullivan) in the running line, while Narra Operative (Kerryn Manning) was second-last and Arber (Gavin Lang) made an uncharacteristic bad getaway and settled at the back of the field. Road To Rock comfortably navigated the opening half of the last mile (31.4 and 30.4 for a 61.8 half) before Jack upped the ante when challenged by Savesomtimetodream down the back. Road To Rock was still travelling well to the home turn though, shaking off the reigning champ’s challenge with a 28.8 third split. In the home straight Macho Comacho angled into the sprint lane and charged hard, while Hilltop Hustler and Ardle McArdle were winding up out wide. But the leader dug deep, Road To Rock holding off all the challengers to score a victory by a head over Macho Comacho, with Hilltop Hustler up for third beaten 3.5 metres. The winner got home in 29.2 for a 2:02.9 mile rate (last half 58). Ardle McArdle ran fourth while Kotare Roland showed he was working back into some kind of form with an eye-catching fifth beaten 7.5 metres. Savesomtimetodream weakened out of the action late to finish sixth beaten 8.2 metres, with Weallwantano heading up the rest in seventh place. Earlier in the evening father and son Neville and Clinton Welsh combined for victory in the Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup with consistent six-year-old Sundon/Wheels To Go gelding Wildenstein, who led and rated 2:07.2 for the 2570-metre trip. Wildenstein defeated Death Defying by 3.3 metres with Maorisfavouritesun third. Meanwhile, trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Gavin Lang combined with Our Petite Soeur to take out the Angelique Club Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship (18th heat) by 2.3m over So Demanding with Graceful Affair third. >> Re-live Road To Rock's thrilling Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup win ROAD TO ROCK’S COUNTRY CUPS CARNIVAL Ararat Cup 1st Echuca Cup 3rd Boort Cup 4th Wangaratta Cup 2nd Stawell Cup 2nd Gunbower Cup 2nd St Arnaud Cup 1st Maryborough Cup 6th Kilmore Cup 8th Swan Hill Cup 2nd by Cody Winnell

Elmore harness racing trainer Keith Cotchin says he will look back on yesterday’s St Arnaud Cup win with enormous pride in years to come. The 54-year-old horseman produced Road To Rock to win the feature, which is part of the Country Cups Carnival. “We’d been confident for a while that he had a country cup in him,” said. “He hadn’t had much luck though, first running into Guaranteed in the Swan Hill Pacing Cup and then not having much room at his next two starts in the Kilmore and Maryborough Cups.” Road To Rock was afforded a typically marvellous drive champion reinswoman Kerryn Manning, who guided the son of Village Jasper off his 10-metre handicap to slot in nicely just off the pace in the 2520-metre event. Manning kept the gelding out of trouble and away from the markers, eager to give him every chance at a traffic-free run. The result was a head victory over Tyler Bromac, with Lord Monaloo a metre-and-a-half away third.  “Kerryn drove him really well,” Cotchin declared. “We didn’t want him to be locked in. He’s such a genuine stayer.” The victory was Road To Rock’s 13th from 45 starts, with the seven-year-old’s earnings sitting on $83,370. Cotchin stated he was thrilled to be training Road To Rock, which was transferred from owner Graham Locke’s stables last July when Locke’s son got a job in Mildura. “I was in the right spot at the right time and I’m very lucky to be training the horse for Graham,” Cotchin said. Cotchin, who prepared Tanabi Bromac to win the 2010 Shepparton Gold Cup, revealed the Gunbower, Yarra Valley and Cobram are potential target races. “He’s pulled up really well again. He’s eaten all his food this morning,” Cotchin said. “The country cups only come around once a year, so we deliberately targeted this time of year with him. “He can stay, which makes a big difference because you don’t have to rely on the races being run a certain way. He’s also good from the stand starts.” Evergreen nine-year-old squaregaiter Neville Vaughan won the St Arnaud Trotters’ Cup over 2520 metres with Mat Craven in the cart for Bolinda based trainer Ryan McMillan. HRV Media

Team Tritton is set to launch a strong attack on Saturday night’s harness racing meeting at Newcastle. Trainer Shane Tritton has 14 representatives and an emergency engaged in seven of the eight races on the program. Tritton’s primary target is the evening’s main event – the Newcastle Mile – in which the premier mentor has four starters. Tritton also has Lombo Toscannini on standby as the emergency in the Group Two. In-form speedster Suave Stuey Lombo heads the team, with rising star Marty Monkhouser the ‘prince in waiting.’ Trittong also has Laterron and Shipwreck in the 1609-metre dash. Winner of his last three starts, having also trialled in 1:49.2, Suave Stuey Lombo has drawn awkwardly in barrier 10, but will begin from nine with the removal of the emergency. Despite the wide gate, Tritton remains confident the son of Bettors Delight is the one to beat. In fact, Tritton declared Suave Stuey Lombo is ready to break Beautide’s 1:52.6 track record established in last season’s edition of the prestigious event. “He is flying at the moment and is still the one to beat regardless of the draw,” Tritton said. “Avonnova is likely to find the lead first from nine, but I’m more than happy to sit outside him and still run 1:50. “We’ve had this race picked out for Stuey for a long time and he is in perfect condition for this. “The winner will have to go close to 1:50, whether it’s Stuey or any other horse in the field.” Kept fresh following his disappointing hit and run mission to Queensland a fortnight ago, Marty Monkhouser is expected to be a big improver. The son of Village Jasper was first-up from a spell when unplaced in the Queensland Pacing Championship won by For A Reason. Marty Monkhouser has drawn to settle forward from barrier three. “Might as well forget he went to Queensland as he never got a crack at them and only really followed them around,” Tritton said. “His work since has been tremendous and he is in absolute prime condition for this. “He loves racing fresh, and from the draw, will be in this for a long way. “Laterron and Shipwreck will need a few breaks go there way, but under the right conditions they are capable of winning.” PAUL COURTS

Well known Reporoa harness racing enthusiast Danny McGill has had a lot of smart horses over the years and in last nights Alexandra Park winner Elliesjet  he seems to have another one to keep the bank manager happy. Danny has had a great run over the years breeding such smart types as Magie Lilly Rose 1:54.1 ($202,718), Golden Trowel 1:52.4 ($117,056) and Maximus Meridius 1:52.3 ($109,515). His latest winner though has been a bit of a surprise to the noted stockman. "She is a big filly, I mean really big and I didn't think she would have any speed," he told Harnesslink today. By Jeremes Jet from the speedy Village Jasper mare Elle Mary Rose 2:00.7, Elliesjet has been given plenty of time to grow into her large frame. "The original plan was to get her up and running and try to sell her but after after the way she has gone the last two weeks we have taken the for sale sign down," Danny said today. The 4 year old mare was having just her third lifetime start last night and on the back of a super third last week was warmly supported even though she drew the outside of the second row. Patiently driven in the early stages by driver Todd Mitchell, Elliesjet settled back in the running line before Todd sent her forward after 600 metres to grab the lead. From there it turned into a procession as Elliesjet gradually increased the tempo and then powered away in the home straight for an emphatic win by four lengths. Elliesjet paced the 2200 metres in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.1 and 28.9 Today Danny was musing that you should never judge a book by its cover. " Todd said she absolutely jogged it and had plenty left at the finish so thats very encouraging,"  "Gareth Dixon (trainer) has suggested we should look at some of the support races over the Xmas carnival at Auckland so thats where we are heading,"  he said. Its been a big week for Danny as a half sister to Elliesjet in Annie Morva was successful at Menangle last Saturday night. "She ran second in the Ladyship stakes to Adore Me at three at Alexandra Park and then we sent her to Blake Fitzpatrick in Sydney to race. "Its worked out really well as she has topped the $100,000 mark in earnings and took a mark of 1:52.9 when she won last week," Danny said Danny almost made it a trifecta for the week as a breeder when the trotter he bred Al Bundy was an unlucky third at Alexandra Park last night. With Elliesjet and Annie Morva in such fine form, Danny looks in for a very profitable summer over the next few months. Harnesslink Media  

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