Day At The Track
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Yep Got Chooks sets cracking time

When Bathurst harness racing trainer Chris Frisby calls Trent Dawson offering up a new pacer, he cannot say yes fast enough. Frisby has sent the Clarendon-based stable of Dawson several quality horses over the years, including new TAB Trot Rods leader Yep Got Chooks. In a thrilling night of the 2021 TAB Trot Rods series on Wednesday at Redcliffe, a new benchmark was set in the opening heat by Maffioso Girl for the Elkins team in a time of 65.8 seconds. In driving rain, that time lasted less than an hour as Yep Got Chooks - driven and trained by Dawson - shot to the front in a slick time of 65.03 seconds shortly after. The leaders set a cracking pace in front in Heat 8 of the series before Yep Got Chooks was able to slip up the inside and win in a tight three-way go on the line. “The way the barrier draw was, I thought it would suit him, and I think that was the deciding factor in it all last night, the draw,” Dawson said. “They went hard for him and made it a nice time. “The rain may have played a part in it; it might have taken a bit out of the ones that were making the speed.” Wednesday evening's quick spin around the Redcliffe triangle was just the second effort for Yep Got Chooks with the Dawson stable. The four-year-old pacer comes from Frisby in Bathurst and while he has now won second-up in Queensland, Dawson did not have high hopes when he first arrived, but now can see plenty of potential in Yep Got Chooks. “Chris has always been really good to me, we are friends,” Dawson said. “I never hesitate when he calls me up, I take his word and we just go from there. “I have bought a few from him that have turned out quite alright, I will just keep going back to him then if he keeps giving me good ones. “I will have to ask him what else has got (laughs).” After “The Kid” Angus Garrard and Living Free set the benchmark for the 2021 TAB Trot Rods on the opening night, it has now been broken three times over the last week. With a few more weeks until the big Trot Rods Final night, Dawson is hopeful his time of 65.03 seconds with Yep Got Chooks can claim the title. “It would be too nice if he could hold on and win it,” he said. “That was a reasonably high class race on Wednesday, being a mid-60s I think, it is getting up there in class. “Even with those kinds of horses, it is good enough money just to win the race, so you need to temper it a little bit. “You have to have the right balance between trying to run the fastest time and wanting to win the race.” Trainer-driver Dawson, who has around 15 in work at his property, heads to the QBRED TRIAD 3YO Fillies Group 1 (2138m) on Saturday night at Albion Park with two leading chances - Talent To Spare and Kissesforyamisses. Two more heats for the TAB Trot Rods series will be run this coming Wednesday night, May 19, at Redcliffe. Over the series, 10 heats to be run over successive Wednesday nights before the Trot Rods Final night on Wednesday May 26. A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the owners of the horse with the fastest time throughout the series, thanks to Otto Tuza. The winning trainer will also receive an Otto Tuza two-horse angled and fully enclosed horse float valued at over $21,000. A $1,000 bonus will be awarded to the connections of any horse that eclipses the previous best series time, split 80% to owner and 20% to trainer. With The Band took out the inaugural Trot Rods crown last year, and the $10,000 bonus, in a time of 64.77 seconds.   By Jordan Gerrans for Racing Queensland

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Perfect Major to pour on the pressure

Former Victorian harness racing pacer Perfect Major is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 5 in the $25,000 Members Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and star reinsman Chris Voak is planning to use the five-year-old’s strength in a concerted bid for victory. Jack Farthing, perfectly drawn at barrier one, is certain to lead, with trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice driving the New Zealand-bred six-year-old for the first time in a race sure to be anxious to make full use of the gelding’s sparkling gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory. Voak doesn’t want Jack Farthing to enjoy an easy unchallenged time in front, and he plans to make the sprint a strong staying test. “It will be a strong-run race,” said Voak. “Perfect Major will breeze and run a mighty race. Jack Farthing from barrier one is my only danger.” Perfect Major and Jack Farthing clashed over 1730m last Friday night when the polemarker Will I Rocknroll set the pace, with Jack Farthing, from barrier No. 8, racing three wide for the first 400m before working in the breeze. Perfect Major began smartly from barrier nine and Voak dashed him forward, three wide, in the first lap in a determined effort to move alongside the pacemaker. But Aiden de Campo was equally determined to hold the breeze with Jack Farthing, leaving Voak with no alternative but to restrain Perfect Major back to last in the field of eleven. Perfect Major was still last with 400m to travel when Voak sent him forward with a spirited burst. But Perfect Major met with interference and galloped for a couple of strides 100m later and was last half-way down the home straight before finishing strongly, out five wide, to finish eighth. “Perfect Major felt great last week,” Voak said. “Jack Farthing wouldn’t hand the breeze up to him and I had to go back to last and then got knocked over at the 300m. If he hadn’t been knocked over, he would have finished third (behind Extradite and Rakasinc).” Jack Farthing faded to finish last. Prentice decided to drive Jack Farthing this week after de Campo opted to take seven drives, five from his stable, at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park on Friday night. Jack Farthing, who has won twice from eight starts in WA, is extremely experienced at racing over sprint distances. He has run in 43 events over 1609m in New South Wales for nine wins, five seconds and six thirds, with best rates of 1.50.3, 1.51, 1.51.3, 1.52.2 and 1.52.9. With an anticipated battle between Jack Farthing and Perfect Major, it could play into the hands of Balcatherine, the only mare in the race. Balcatherine, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, is the State’s best mare, who has won at ten of her 20 starts and is having her first start for 18 weeks. She will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from barrier four. “I’m sure she will go well,” said Hall Jnr. “She seems to be every bit as good as she was before she went out (for a spell) and her work has been really good. I reckon Perfect Major will put pressure on Jack Farthing, and the way Perfect Major went last week, I reckon he will take plenty of beating.” The Hall stable will also be represented Eloquent Mach (barrier two) and Whozideawasthis (barrier eight). Callan Suvaljko will handle Eloquent Mach, who is resuming after a 22-week absence, and Maddison Brown will drive the ten-year-old Whozideawasthis.   By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park

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Alta Blues resumes

Promising four-year-old Alta Blues will resume racing after an absence of 19 weeks when he starts off the back line in the $30,000 Pure Steel Pace at harness racing's Gloucester Park on Friday night. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr was nominated to drive six runners in the Group 3 event over 2130m, and he has given punters a valuable lead by choosing Alta Blues (trained by his father Gary Hall Snr) over in-form pacers Alta Intrigue, Plutonium, The Verandah and Blissfullabbey, as well as the well-performed but enigmatic Fanci A Dance. Alta Intrigue, a seven-year-old stablemate of Alta Blues, was a smart first-up all-the-way winner last Friday night, and he will again be handled by Callan Suvaljko. He will start from the No. 4 barrier and is sure to be fancied. “I’ll drive Alta Blues,” said Hall Jnr. “It’s a good draw (No. 2 on the back line) and he is a good horse. Last time in we were hoping he would measure up to the Golden Nugget (in February), but he didn’t. We had given him a little break and it didn’t do him any good. But now he seems to be back on track to be the horse we thought he would be. “He is probably an each-way chance this week. He is a horse who needs racing, and he will get better and better.” The WA-bred Alta Blues did not race as a two-year-old. He had 12 starts as a three-year-old last season and showed considerable promise, winning six times and finishing second three times. Shannon Suvaljko will drive the Michael Young-trained Plutonium from the No. 3 barrier. Hall handled the five-year-old last Friday night when he trailed the pacemaker Alta Intrigue and did not get clear until late, when he finished strongly to be a half-head second to the frontrunner. Chris Voak has chosen to drive the Barry Howlett-trained Fanci A Dance ahead of the Ross Olivieri-trained The Last Parisian, a six-year-old who worked hard in the breeze and was driven to victory by Voak two starts ago. Fanci A Dance, who is resuming after a three-month absence, is favourably drawn on the inside of the back line and should enjoy an ideal passage behind the likely pacemaker Parmesan, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick for trainers Greg and Skye Bond from the coveted No. 1 barrier. Parmesan should be better suited over the 2130m on Friday night than he was when he set the pace and faded to finish fourth behind Vespa over 2536m last Friday week. Hall Jnr has a drive in seven of the nine events on Friday night, and he lent towards Balcatherine, Princess Mila and Nota Bene Denario as his better prospects. Princess Mila, a winner at eight of her 16 starts last season, has enjoyed a beneficial spell since she started off the 30m mark and won the 2530m $50,000 Trotters Cup by a head from Sunnys Little Jestic on New Year’s Eve. She will be tested from the 40m mark in Friday night’s 2096m Happy Birthday Ryan Pontillo Trot. “I think she has come back better, really good,” said Hall. “She is working super.” One of Princess Mila’s most serious rivals is expected to be the Michael Young-trained eight-year-old Champagne Prince, who was driven by Hall when he trailed the pacemaker and finished solidly to be a close second to Tenno Sho in a 2130m mobile event last Tuesday week. Hall said that he was confident of a strong performance from Nota Bene Denario in the 2536m Vale Joe Iemma Pace, in which the New Zealand-bred gelding, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, will start from the prized No. 1 barrier. “I’ll be trying to lead,” said Hall Jnr. “The only time I have led with him was five starts ago (at his Australian debut) when he started off the front in a stand.” In three subsequent starts in mobile events, Nota Bene Denario has started from wide barriers and Hall has not tested his gate speed. Hall is pleased with the gelding’s form a neck second to Shanway and a well-beaten third behind the flying Back In Twenty last Friday night at his past two starts. Whether Nota Bene Denario can hold out Lord Rosco is debatable. Lord Rosco is blessed with terrific gate speed. At his latest appearance, over 2130m last Friday week, Lord Rosco began fast from the No. 5 barrier and led by a half-length in the early stages but was unable to cross the polemarker Shanway, who went on to win from Nota Bene Denario, who finished determinedly from eighth at the bell.   By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park

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Euphoric pacer gets his moment

Collie harness racing trainer Errol Ashcroft said that Euphoric Moment was a strong stayer, and he was confident that the experienced six-year-old would prove to be hard to beat and end a losing sequence of ten when he contests the final event, the 2536m Etch Coatings Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Euphoric Moment, a veteran of 91 starts for 12 wins and 28 placings, has drawn ideally at barrier one and Deni Roberts is expected to attempt to win the start and set the pace. “We’re a good chance from No. 1,” declared Ashcroft. “I usually leave the tactics up to my driver, but we would hope to lead. When he starts off the front, he has gate speed, and if we pop the plugs, he’ll go. “I’d say that Deni might pull the plugs at the start. That will be up to her. The horse is going really good, and the 2536m will suit him, regardless of whether he leads or sits. He’s a strong stayer.” Euphoric Moment’s past two runs have been full of merit. Two starts ago he sustained a spirited three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to take a narrow lead in the final 50m before losing by a neck to the fast-finishing Vespa. Then he raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before fighting on to finish fourth behind Alta Intrigue in a fast-run 2130m event.  Roberts will also drive the Ashcroft-trained Henwood Bay, who is favourably drawn at barrier two in the opening event, the 2130m Catalano Truck And Equipment Pace. “It’s a pretty tough race, but he’ll be knocking on the door,” said Ashcroft. “I’m happy with the way he is going. I think 2500m in the breeze (when a fading sixth behind Hampton Banner last Friday night) was a bit much for him.” This week’s event is likely to develop into a battle between speedy pacers Heavens Showgirl and Boom Time. Heavens Showgirl, a winner at ten of her 29 starts, is in top form for Ravenswood trainer Nathan Turvey, who said: “I think she can win; all she needs is a bit of luck. Her sectionals at her past two runs have been fantastic.” Heavens Showgirl will start from barrier five with Emily Suvaljko in the sulky. She enjoyed an ideal passage in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to be second to the brilliant Star Of Diamonds in the group 2 WASBA Breeders Stakes last Friday night. She was most impressive at her previous outing when she was sixth at the bell and seventh at the 550m before she charged to the front 220m from home and won from Blissfullabbey at a 1.55.3 rate over 2130m. Chris Voak is confident the Ross Olivieri-trained Boom Time will prove very hard to beat, saying: “From barrier six he’ll probably sit and sprint. He can run home in 27sec. flat. “On ability, he can beat Heavens Showgirl. But the only concern is that he hasn’t been able to race for a month because races keep falling over.” Boom Time has won at his past two starts, charging home, three wide, from ninth at the 900m to easily beat Vespa and Whoswhointhezoo, and a week later leading from barrier one and scoring by more than two lengths from Mirragon. By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park

An impressive performance in a 2185m harness racing trial at Pinjarra on Wednesday of last week was a strong indication that the inexperienced mare Sheez Our Hope would prove hard to beat at her first outing. She is first up for seven weeks in the 2130m Simmonds Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Five-year-old Sheez Our Hope, a winner at four of her seven starts, will be driven by Kyle Harper from the favourable No. 2 barrier. Her owner-trainer Michael Cornwall handled the mare in the Pinjarra trial in which she began speedily and set the pace before being beaten by a half-head in the final stride by the experienced performer Major Times, a winner of 20 races and $291,487. Cornwall did not extend Sheez Our Hope, who went to the line untouched and with seemingly plenty in reserve after a flying final 400m in 27.4sec. Sheez Our Hope put up an excellent performance at her latest start when she began from the outside of the back line and was tenth at the bell before finishing solidly, out wide, to be fourth behind Wainui Creek in the group 2 Empress Stakes over 2536m. That followed her strong-finishing third behind Star Of Diamonds and Nikasa in the Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra 11 days earlier. Sheez Our Hope’s main rival is likely to be the polemarker, the Ross Olivieri-trained Run For Mercy, a winner at seven of her 42 starts. “Number one is a perfect draw for Run For Mercy,” said star reinsman Chris Voak, who said that he had plenty of respect for Sheez Our Hope. “Run For Mercy is working into form and should perform well.”   By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park

Mick Stanely's Burrumbeet based harness racing team appears to be ticking along nicely, with two of his runners topping sectionals charts last week. The first of those was the talented Drain The Swamp, who backed up his dominant win at Geelong with an eye-catching third in the Signature Clean 4 You 3YO Vicbred Pace at Ballarat. Chasing the early speed from a long way out, Stanley's charge made up good ground in the run home and clocked both the fastest final 800m and 400m splits of the entire meeting. The horse is set to step out again at this evening's Bendigo meeting, where he has drawn well in gate one for a heat of the Australian Pacing Gold three-year-old colts and geldings series. Stanley has long had a good opinion of stablemate Iolanta, and she broke through for career win six in the TAB Long May We Play Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton last Saturday night. Stanley settled the four-year-old back in the running line from her barrier four draw before sweeping around the field approaching the turn. She hit the front with a great turn of foot and held on to score by more than four metres on the line. Iolanta clocked 55.65sec for the last 800m, the slickest section of the meeting. The daughter of Bettors Delight will clash with star Kiwi mare Spellbound in the Nutrien Equine Pace at Melton this Saturday night.   THE NUMBERS   DRAIN THE SWAMP SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m LEAD TIME: 7.32sec LAST MILE: 1:53.63min LAST 800m: 55.11sec LAST 400m: 27.22sec IOLANTA TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE 1720m LEAD TIME: 7.70sec LAST MILE: 1:54.60min LAST 800m: 55.65sec LAST 400m: 28.16sec   FATEST FIVE BALLARAT, MAY 5 LAST 800m DRAIN THE SWAMP - 55.11sec - 3rd SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m BONNIE BELLE - 55.37sec - 2nd SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m SHESMYBABY - 55.48sec - 5th CENTRAL AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR & SERVICING PACE 1710m GHANASUYA - 55.48sec - 7th CENTRAL AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR & SERVICING PACE 1710m ULTIMATE VINNIE - 55.56sec - 1st SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m   LAST 400m DRAIN THE SWAMP - 27.22sec - 3rd SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m GHANASUYA - 27.33sec - 7th CENTRAL AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR & SERVICING PACE 1710m BONNIE BELLE - 27.47sec - 2nd SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m SHESMYBABY - 27.57sec - 5th CENTRAL AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR & SERVICING PACE 1710m ULTIMATE VINNIE - 27.58sec - 1st SIGNATURE CLEAN 4 YOU 3YO VICBRED PACE 1710m CLICK HERE FOR FULL SECTIONALS FROM BALLARAT   TABCORP PARK MELTON, MAY 8 LAST 800m IOLANTA - 55.65sec - 1st TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE 1720m MISS MCGONAGALL - 55.68sec - 4th DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP PACE 2240m YORKSHIRE - 55.71sec - 5th TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE 1720m ROCK N ROLL CHAPEL - 55.82sec - 7th DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP PACE 2240m PEMBROOK CHARLIE - 55.87sec - 8th ALLIED EXPRESS PACE 1720m   LAST 400m POCKET THEDEAL - 27.48sec - 7th ALLIED EXPRESS PACE 1720m DAYLIGHT AT DAWN - 27.55sec - 4th E K BRAY COUNTRY CLUBS PACE FINAL 2240m CRIME WRITER - 27.59sec - 2nd TAB LONG MAY WE PLAY PACE 1720m BELITTLED - 27.62sec - 5th ALLIED EXPRESS PACE 1720m SONNY WEAVER - 27.65sec - 1st DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP PACE 2240m CLICK HERE FOR FULL SECTIONALS FROM MELTON   By Tim O'Connor for HRV

Down Under pacer wins race in North America 10 years after his debut harness racing win in New Zealand. Astonishingly the 13yo Down under pacer Heez Orl Black N was the winner of race number 2 on Sunday at Pocono in Pennsylvania, pacing a winning mile of 1:56.0 around the 1000m (5/8 miles) racetrack. In a completive finish he beat out another down under pacing in the 12yo Highview Conall N. An awesome result to see two down under pacers quinella a race at ages 12 and 13 respectively. The win was a significant one for Heez Orl Black N as it was 10 years and two months since he won his first ever race in February of 2011 in New Zealand, in this race he was driven by the one and only Dexter Dunn. While racing in New Zealand the son of In The Pocket won over $110,000 and was the winner of the Group 1 2yo Welcome Stakes. He was then exported to Australia in February of 2013, where he raced for the next 19 months. In his Australian racing career he won 9 races and was placed at listed level. His next stop was to the USA in November of 2014 where he remains now and has had an extremely successful career. Credit to all horse people involved with this horse.    Monday 3rd May Harrington Raceway DE Match In Heaven A – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $11,000 Major Pocket A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $14,800 Itsrockandroll A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $17,000 Bad Boy Brad A – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $14,000 Always Flashing A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $6,000   Plainridge Park MA Duplicated N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $14,000 Mach Up A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $7,000 Ideal Star N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $10,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Sheriff N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $21,000 Raukapuka Ruler N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $37,000 Micky Gee N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $24,000   Tuesday 4th May Harrington Raceway DE Rock N Shard N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $11,000   Miami Valley Raceway OH Persistent Threat A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $5,500   Saratoga Harness NY Gunpowder N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $9,100   Yonkers Raceway NY Alta Leroy N – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $14,000 Soho Leviathan A – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $12,000 Kerford Road A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $21,000 One Off Delight A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $17,000   Wednesday 5th May Bangor Raceway ME Millwood Faith N – Time: 1:59.3, Stake: $4,000   Buffalo Raceway NY Milliondollargem A – Time: 1:56.2, Stake: $7,900   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Kerrin Joseph A – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $9,900 On The Cards N – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $9,900   Harrington Raceway DE Afterdinnerspeaker N – Time: 1:56.3, Stake: $4,900   Monticello Raceway NY Machtu N – Time: 1:58.0, Stake: $5,000   Saratoga Harness NY Eden Paige N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $4,500 Misty Memory N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $10,000 Onspeed N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $9,500   Thursday 6th May Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Flying Wingard A – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $6,500   Monticello Raceway NY Go Cullect N – Time: 1:58.4, Stake: $3,400   Plainridge Park MA Patanjali N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $4,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Milwood Bonnie N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $12,000 Jive Dancing A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $21,000   Friday 7th May Freehold Raceway NJ Lynbar Rose N – Time: 1:56.4, Stake: $4,800   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Sly Eleanor N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $6,300   Meadowlands NJ Deltasun A – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $22,500   Scioto Downs OH Lovin Miss Daisy N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $6,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Elrama A – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $17,000   Saturday 8th May Cumberland Raceway ME Ima Tragedy A – Time: 1:57.4, Stake: $2,400   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Eyespywithmylileye N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $14,000   Meadowlands NJ Keep Rockin A – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $16,500   Northville Downs MI Stening A – Time: 1:57.2, Stake: $5,500   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA   Bravo Tex N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $7,600 Alluneedisfaith N – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $13,000   Sunday 9th May Harrah’s Philadelphia PA San Domino A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $16,200 Dbldelitebrigade N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $11,200   Rosecroft Raceway MD Buckeye N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $4,600   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Heez Orl Black N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $5,400 Lady Rocknrolla A – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $11,200   Tioga Downs NY Highrthananeagle A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $5,800   Click here for previous weeks articles   by Carter Dalgety

Two of New South Wales' best harness racing drivers shared the honours when the second round of heats for the Metropolitan TAB Regional Championships were run on Tuesday. Brad Hewitt and Luke McCarthy were the victors. In the first round, Brad won aboard Send It while Luke guided Muscle Factory to an all-the-way win in heat two. On Tuesday, Hewitt combined with his father David to claim the prize with Im Bruce Almighty while Belinda and Luke McCarthy took out the final heat with Ilikembettor. McCarthy admits that winning two heats has presented him with a real dilemma as he believes that both pacers are capable of going on to win the $100,000 Group 1 feature. “Muscle Factory was really good in his heat win,” said the gun reinsman. “I was soft on him as I let him coast down to the line. “Belinda is under the impression that he will tighten right up with the solid work we have been giving him heading into the final. “I am confident that he will be spot-on for next week and is the horse that they will have to beat.” Ilikemebettor was forced to do a power of work in his heat win after being caught three wide for the opening 800 metres. He then raced without cover and surged to the lead at the top of the lane before holding on to score by just over a metre. “He was really strong on Tuesday,” said Luke. “To do the amount of work that he did and still get home was pretty special, in fact he was running away from them on the line. “Without wanting to sound arrogant, I really feel that our two are the top seeds going into the final. “I will most likely stick with Muscle Factory and Belinda will give young Jack Callaghan the call up for Ilikemebettor.” Brad Hewitt trains Send It so his decision is easy, he will take the reins behind the talented four-year-old while David will most likely drive Im Bruce Almighty in the final. By Michael Dumesny for HRNSW

Lavra Joe has bounced back from his WA Derby defeat in stunning fashion, winning last night’s harness racing Retravision Pearl Classic first heat (2130m) at Gloucester Park by 15.7m. The Roll With Joe colt finished fourth in the Derby last month, but returned to his brilliant best, leading throughout and rating 1:53.8. Machnificent took a sit on Lavra Joe, who was able to work to the front comfortably in the early stages and never troubled. The other heat was taken out by the David Thompson-trained Otis, who sat outside Rock On The Beach and fought off a late challenge from WA Derby winner Mighty Ronaldo. The Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo settled rearward for Gary Hall Jnr and stormed home to finish second and set up a rematch with Lavra Joe in the May 21st final. Bettor Beach Belle made a winning start for her new trainer Nathan Turvey in the first heat of the Diamond Classic for the fillies. The daughter of Bettors Delight, fourth in last month’s WA Oaks, held up comfortably from the inside draw and rated 1.59.5. Turvey wasn’t sure what to expect from Bettor Beach Belle. “I was happy to get away with the win,” he said. “She hadn’t settled in too well since I took her over. “I hope the 10 days to the final help her.” Hall Jnr sealed a Diamond Classic heat double when he teamed up with the Prentice-trained Always An Angel. It was a terrific drive by Hall Jnr, who was able to land in the one-one position from barrier nine and wear down leading pair Newsy and Joelene.   By Tim Walker for RWWA

The Tough Tilly story is well known to most in the harness racing industry, and regular driver Kate Gath is excited to start writing the next chapter with the sport's feel-good filly. The Emma Stewart-trained daughter of Captaintreacherous closed out her 2020 preparation with a heart-warming win in the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series 2YO Fillies Final on New Year's Eve, before returning for a three-start campaign through February that finished with a fourth placing in the NSW Oaks. Tough Tilly is back at the races on Thursday night for a first round heat of the Australian Pacing Gold 3YO Fillies series, which is one of five $7500 qualifiers on the Bendigo card. "It's great to be reunited with her. She's a great filly so we are looking forward to it," Gath said. "I think she should lead and be really hard to beat. Obviously, (stablemate) Beach Music is a quality horse and Momentslikethese (Jess Tubbs) has been going well, but she's beaten them before.” The filly is named after Tilly Wilkes, an inspirational youngster who was born with epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic condition that results in wounds that never heal, disfigurement, blisters, bleeding and ever-present pain. Craig Judd, from Benstud Standardbreds, donated a 25 per cent share in Tough Tilly as part of a fundraising auction for EB Research, with the winning bid going to a syndicate including Tilly’s father Corey Wilkes. READ MORE: The flying filly fighting for a cure "It's one of the greatest things of being involved in her really, everything she stands for. And trying to raise funds for EB and make people aware of it," Gath said. "I think most of us hadn't even heard of it before Tough Tilly began racing, so it's a great story." The well-bred three-year-old, who is a half-sister to the late Centenario, has won six of her 14 races for nearly $200,000 in prizemoney. Stewart looks to have a strong hand in the other heat for the fillies with Joanna, who is returning from a runner-up placing in the Group 1 Gold Bracelet at Bathurst. The Cardigan stable also has runners in all three of the first round heats for the three-year-old colts and geldings, including the exciting Act Now who resumes from a break. Round one APG 3YO heats have already been run in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, with second round qualifiers also complete in the Sunshine State. New South Wales will follow suit next week, as will Victoria at Kilmore on May 21, before fields are then assembled for $350,000 Group 1 national finals at Tabcorp Park Melton on May 29.   By Tim O'Connor for HRV

High class former Kiwi mare Spellbound should stretch her unbeaten Aussie streak to three wins at Melton on Saturday night. The daughter of Art Major is the headline act of Nathan Purdon’s Victorian stable with two sparkling wins so far and looks a class above her rivals again despite a wide draw (gate six) in the Nutrien Equine Pace (2240m). Spellbound has also proven an important opportunity for former Kiwi horseman Stewie McDonald, now Purdon’s stablemate foreman after 10 years in WA, to advertise his driving skills. McDonald has driven her to both wins so far and takes the reins again this week. _______________________________________________________________________________________ Luke McCarthy has opted to drive Star Galleria ahead of another of the stable’s classy former Kiwis Alta Orlando in a ripper 1609m free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night. Star Galleria returns to Menangle after a fantastic second to buzz Victorian pacer General Dodge two week’s back, but has a wide draw (gate nine) to overcome, while Alta Orlando has the pole. Alta Orlando, who returned to form driven with a sit last outing, has talented youngster Jack Callaghan aboard. The other key runner of the race is Jimmy Rattray’s Ignatius, who is sure to press forward in search of the lead from gate six. _______________________________________________________________________________________ Some of the brightest young stars of Aussie pacing are back in action. It started with the heats of the Australian Gold 3YO series at Menangle on Tuesday where NSW Oaks winner Anntonia and the classy Tasty Delight returned with easy wins. Former Kiwi driver Jack Trainor was reunited with the David Thorn-trained Anntonia, who led, dictated and ripped home in a sizzling 25.9sec to win her heat by 8.2m without being extended in a cosy 1min54.4sec mile. Tasty Delight, who will surely get some luck and win a big one this season, was balanced-up early by driver Blake Fitzpatrick before working around to take the lead and win by 2.3m in a 1min53.3sec mile, capped by a 55.4sec last half. Last season’s NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies’ winner, Soho Almasi, returned from a freshen-up to lead throughout in her heat in a slow 1min55.2sec for Team McCarthy. While the promising He Aint Fakin looked sharp leading throughout in heat in a 1min53.3sec mile rate. The Australian Gold 3YO heats continued at Bendigo on Thursday night where Mick Stanley’s Soho Bollinger looks the best of the “boys” from gate two in the second heat (race six). By far the best heat is race seven where Turn It Up’s exciting baby half-brother Narutac Prince (by Art Major) faces his biggest test in a quest to go five wins from just six starts for David Aiken. Narutac Prince has the draw (gate two), but faces the top class Bondi Lockdown (gate nine) and Tim Butt’s emerging Swayzee (four). On the same card, star 3YO filly Tough Tilly resumes for Emma Stewart and Kate Gath in her Aussie Gold heat and looks the leader and winner from gate two. Stablemate Beach Music looks the only threat, if there is one, from gate four with David Moran aboard. The second heat looks a match between Stewart’s slick beginner Joanna (gate four) and David Aiken’s Kekoa (five), who turned heads winning her only start. _______________________________________________________________________________________ It was great to see star WA three-year-old Lavra Joe bounced straight back to stunning winning form in a heat of the Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. It was his first run since doing all the work and tiring late when fourth in the WA Derby and he went close to a PB time with a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 2130m winning by 15.7m in second gear. His PB is 1min53.5sec for the trip. Justin Prentice’s Mighty Ronaldo, who won the WA Derby, drew wide and came from last but couldn’t quit rundown the underrated Otis in their heat, where Otis controlled the race from the death and dashed home in 55.8 and 27.2sec. Prentice’s classy filly Always An Angel won the strongest of the Diamond Classic heats on the night, finishing too strongly for her main dangers Newsy (second) and Joelene (third).   By Adam Hamilton

Tornado Valley has run his last race for the preparation, with connections pulling up stumps on the pursuit of $1million in prizemoney for the time being. Regular driver Kate Gath, the wife of trainer Andy, told thetrots.com.au that a decision had been made to give the champion squaregaiter a break following last weekend's third placing in the DNR Logistics Vulcan Trot at Tabcorp Park Melton. The nine-year-old has so far fallen short in his bid to become just the ninth Australasian-bred trotter to reach the $1 million prizemoney mark, being beaten in his last three trips to the races. This has left the son of Skyvalley stuck on $996,797 in earnings. "We've decided to give him a little break and give him one last go, so that's where he's at at the moment," Gath said. "He's sort of been in work for a really long time. Even though he didn't race a lot prior to the Great Southern Star, we'd had him in work for a really long time trying to get him right. "He'll have a decent break of a month or maybe a little bit longer and we'll give him one last go." Gath said it was hard to know when retirement might be on the cards for the winner of 38 races. "Obviously, we'd like to get to the million dollar mark. If he gets there and we are really happy with him and he goes really well, then (we will) probably look at keeping (him) going. But if he gets there and we think that he's got a few little niggling issues and has got older, we might just stop it there." Tornado Valley is raced by prominent owner Norm Jenkin, who has had a long and successful association with the Gath stable.   By Tim O'Connor for HRV

Trent Dawson has redemption on his mind for his loyal owners when he chases his maiden Group 1 triumph on Saturday evening at Albion Park. The Clarendon-based trainer, who has around 15 in work at his property, heads to the QBRED TRIAD 3YO Fillies Group 1 (2138m) with two leading chances - Talent To Spare and Kissesforyamisses. The Dawson fillies had mixed fortunes when the barriers were drawn on Tuesday morning; Talent To Spare on the back row in 13, while Kissesforyamisses boosted her chances with a favourable draw in four. While the barrier draws will be key come Saturday night, it is another factor that has driven Dawson’s motivation for the last year. The impressive Talent To Spare broke from her gait just as they were about to jump in the Group 1 2YO edition of the race last year, leaving Dawson and owners Kevin and Kay Seymour devastated. While the Seymours were disappointed to see one of their up-and-coming pacers miss out a feature race opportunity, they were still supportive of the trainer-driver, Dawson, and he is keen to repay them this week. “They have been fantastic to me personally allowing me to train this horse, they have been some of my biggest supporters,” Dawson said of the Seymours. “Last year things did not go right and we were all upset about that, they are great people and great supporters of me and the entire harness racing industry. “I feel like I am trying to repay the faith in them after what happened last year with Talent To Spare in the TRIAD. “I was shattered and they helped me get over it, it will be nice to repay their faith.” Dawson has qualified two for the fillies Final, both of which are out of sire Hurrikane Kingcole. Talent To Spare is owned by the Seymours while Kissesforyamisses is owned by Dawson’s wife Crystal Towns. While Talent To Spare - who has five wins from 11 starts to her name - had to endure an “ugly draw” on Tuesday, Dawson is not giving up hope on his three-year-old just yet, declaring he still has confidence in both his chances. "She got murdered in that, if she had drawn well it would have been nearly shut the gate but it will be very tough from there,” he says. “She will have to be very good and she will have to get a lot of luck. “My other filly, she faired well, that is a positive draw for her and she has a whole lot of options now. “She can lead as she has good gate speed. “There is not too much between them now following the barriers and Kissesforyamisses gets the chance to spring an upset.” In all of Talent To Spare’s wins, she has either led or been just behind the leader, with Dawson keen to eventually show she is not a one-dimensional pacer and can be just as effective off the speed as well. As a trainer, Dawson has been Group 1 placed over the years, but he is yet to break through on the biggest stage of racing. He hopes that will change come Saturday evening. “It would be an exclamation mark, they only come around once a year,” he said. “It is a whole different ball game winning a race like this. “If we were to win, it would not change me or anything I do, but it would just give me the confidence to show we can win races like this. “It would be good to keep doing it after this, if we can.” There will also be a QBRED TRIAD 3YO Colts and Geldings Group 1 (2138m) on Saturday evening at Albion Park.   By Jordan Gerrans for Racing Queensland

Trotting stallion Volstead is the first victim of the proposed ‘Stallion TAX’ Harness Racing Australia announced on April 16. Haras des Trotteurs Principal Pat Driscoll felt coerced to not shuttle the American-bred European-winning stallion back Down Under after having close to 90 services this last breeding season. The Stallion TAX will see a 15 per cent charge on the advertised service fee of shuttle and internationally domiciled stallions (transported and frozen semen) and is anticipated to generate in excess of $2million annually. “It just does not make any sense to bring Volstead back down here with this crazy tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you like,” said Driscoll about the only trotting stallion shuttled to Australia in the 2020/21 breeding season. “I had to make the call by the end of April and I have had to say no. “It is a shame. We worked hard to find a nice stallion and we bred him to our good mares to give him a great start and through all the expenses of bringing him down, we didn’t cover costs in year one, no money was returned to the US (United States) and it will probably be that way in year two when we finish working the numbers. “Even this year if we brought him down we probably would have broke even but then apply this TAX, it just doesn’t make it worth while. “Through Volstead we sponsored the Redwood Classic for the past two years and now that won’t be happening. “These are some of the flow on affects of this new tax/levy/financial imposter that have not been thought about.” Following such positive results from the recent Nutrien Standardbred Yearling Sale in Victoria plus the latest news that breeding numbers were up 10.3 per cent nationally for the first time in more than a decade, Driscoll believes this Stallion TAX is a backwards step. “It is easily the worst decision I’ve seen in the years since I’ve been involved,” stated Driscoll. “There is no other place in the world that there is a tax/levy/financial imposter that subsides racing. “You have the sires’ stakes-type races but that money generally goes back into the same pool . . . this doesn’t. “There isn’t a river of gold at studs as some may perceive. “I can only speak of Haras des Trotteurs but I’ve been operating at a loss since I started. “There are transport costs, advertising, futurity payments, stallion collection and quarantine costs, administration fees and so on. “It’s not this golden goose that people think it is, it is a labour of love for many including Haras des Trotteurs. “We’ve just come off a successful sale where for the first time in history the trotters average was higher than the pacers. “Then, we received some great news that breeding numbers are on the way back up. “We are on an upward trajectory and then they do this. “I didn’t think too many things would derail the growth of trotting in Victoria but this will. “This will severely impact the breeding of trotters in Victoria as the cost of breeding will increase, people will breed less and it could also severely compromise the quality of trotters bred. “We sent out a survey to our stakeholders, a big cross-section of the industry from those that spend who spend $1925 for Used To Me to a service fee of $11,000 for Love You, and 85 per cent are not in favour of this new levy and 80 per cent said they would breed less mares.” The HRA Executive, a ‘membership limited to the State Controlling Body in each of the six states of Australia as well as the six Principal Clubs’ has proposed the immediate introduction of this Stallion TAX to raise funds for the harness racing industry in Australia.  The way in which these funds will be distributed has not been decided yet. The HRA Executive has anticipated this TAX will generate in excess of $2million annually and will be responsible for the invoicing, collection and distribution of the TAX. This has Driscoll and others perplexed. As documented on the HRA website the AHRC (Australian Harness Racing Council and changed to HRA in 2008) was initially created to administer the Australian Trotting Stud Book, to maintain a Central Register of Name, to keep records and to control and enforce the Rules relating thereto. It is the forum and co-ordination point between the State Controlling Bodies for uniformity of rules and reciprocity of horsemen’s licences, registration of horses and suspensions and disqualifications. In addition, HRA acts as the national body in international harness racing affairs and is a member of the International Trotting Association. As a joint member of the Event Committee set up in 2008 with Harness Racing New Zealand, HRA is involved in supervising the Australasian Inter Dominion series (formerly under the auspices of the Inter Dominion Harness Racing Council Inc). “How did we get this far?” asked Driscoll. “If you read HRA’s legislations they are keepers of the studbooks, rules and regulations and each state runs their own racing. “It’s gone from that to wanting to put a tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you may, on stallions. “I feel as though Victoria has been sold, as most of this money will be raised here. “I’m staggered that Harness Racing Victoria have let this happen to their own state. “Add to the fact that roughly 90 per cent of trotting mares bred are bred/reside in Victoria and assuming a very large number of pacing mares are bred and also located in Victoria, it’s not difficult to see that most of the tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you like, raised, would be in Victoria and go where and to what?” Going by this past breeding season’s numbers, if all the same shuttle/frozen semen stallions were to remain, this levy will affect 52 stallions (28 trotting and 24 pacing) in Australia and New Zealand. A breakdown of those numbers show that 28 of those stallions are with Victoria, nine in Queensland, eight stallions in NZ, five in New South Wales and two in Western Australia. “I just can’t come up with a logical answer. “I’m all for improving the sport, I’ve invested a lot of my own money trying to do so with sponsorship and breeding. “If people want to have a $1million race, ask those seeking to have the race sponsor it!” To read HRA’s entire media release regarding the ‘Stallion Levy’ and propositions for these funds, click here. By Amanda Rando for Harnesslink

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD After six heats of the Trot Rods Series, a new leader for the fastest time has emerged. Regal Nightshade sits at the top of the speed ratings following his win last week, stopping the clock in 66.10 seconds for the 947-metre scamper. The Mark Dux-trained pacer sat in behind the speed before making full use of the passing lane, arriving to claim the 21st win of his career. While leading a race and dictating the tempo is always a good place to be - especially when there is just one lap - this year’s Trot Rods has shown that you do not need to lead to win. Following the sixth heat, the positions in the run of the six winners has been varied. Three winners have been able to lead all the way - Living Free, Tiges Apprentice and Sir Bulski. Two winners have used the passing lane - Regal Nightshade and No Doubt - with Elle Jay claiming her heat when sweeping down the outside to victory. It has also been an even spread amongst the trainers and drivers with no trainer or driver winning more than one heat thus far in the series. The win of No Doubt in heat six last week also displayed that horses can come from back in the pack to score. Shane Graham had the gelding three back on the pegs just before the home turn before unleashing a sizzling closing sprint to arrive on the wire for a smart win. With four more heats before the big final night on May 26, will Regal Nightshade be able to hold on as the fastest heat winner and claim the $10,000 speed bonus?   THE BAD A short half-head; as an official margin, it is the smallest margin in deciding the winner of a race. A miniscule measurement that can be the difference between glory and vanquishment. For trainer Mark Rees, that was the difference between victory and defeat and it came at the expense of a career first metropolitan double. Jumping Jack Jimmy is a newcomer to the Rees stable and has been a good addition to his barn with a win and two narrow seconds in three outings. Taking the step up to Saturday night veterans’ grade, the seven-year-old was setting the speed in front in race two with Angus Garrard in the bike. After being given no respite in front, ‘The Kid’ and Jumping Jack Jimmy were in for the fight and fought hard to the wire, beaten in the final stride as Misterfreeze descended from the deep to score. It was a game second placing and franked the assessment of the gelding’s previous trainer, John O’Shea, that the horse will be well suited to racing in Queensland. Rees had a pair of runners engaged in the final race on the card, the Marburg to Albion Final, with Jewel Of Peak and Kay Nora Shannon progressing through following Monday’s heats at Marburg. While both mares were outsiders in the market, Rees was able to train first and third across the line, with just under one metre the difference between snaring the quinella. Kay Nora Shannon finished over the top to land the prize with Nathan Dawson taking the drive on the mare who recorded a new PB of 1.56.2 in claiming the victory. The Rees stable is firing at present and with five horses in work, four of the five have been successful over the past 14 days. If only for the short-half-head margin, Rees would be celebrating his first ever metropolitan double. Alas, he will wait another day.   THE MILESTONE Weasel broke a record that had stood for over 10 years - and may not be broken - when racing for the 250th occasion at Redcliffe on Sunday night. Trained and owned by John Kerr, Weasel broke the record previously held by Viking Jack who was retired back in 2011 one run short of bringing up the 250 on The Triangle. Sent forward to position outside the leader, 14-year-old Weasel put the leader away turning off he back straight but was unable to fight off the closing power of eventual winner Patchwork Jet. It was not to be a fairytale outing, with Weasel relegated to third placing in the race following a successful protest from Aurora Rose who had crossed the line in third. Weasel has recorded 11 wins at Redcliffe in a career that does not look like ending anytime soon, such is his zest for racing. Read more on the story of John Kerr and Weasel here.   THE WILDCARD The writing was on the wall following the debut effort of Misty Creek that a win was imminent, after flashing late to grab second place behind subsequent winner My Ultimate Baxter. That assessment was franked when the two-year-old scored on Friday night at Albion Park when leading throughout to score a smart win in a 1.58.3 mile-rate. Owned and bred by Julie Weidemann, Misty Creek hails from the same maternal family as Julie’s former star juvenile Misty Plains. The dam of Misty Creek and Misty Plains were siblings, both out of the mare Mist Teak, a 12-time winning mare for the Weidemanns. Misty Plains was cut down in his prime, only racing in his two and three-year-old seasons, with the highlight being a Group 1 victory in the 2007 Nursery Pace at Albion Park. The talented juvenile was a winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic in his 2YO season and was runner-up in the Triad Final. Misty Creek is now set to attempt to emulate Misty Plains as he heads towards the QBRED Breeders Classic to be held this Saturday night at Albion Park. The Betterthancheddar colt was still a little green approaching the wire, but he looks a smart type in the making, pulling clear to claim the victory. Misty Creek has been given plenty of time to mature, with trainer Lola Weidemann giving the colt a solid educational grounding before heading to the races. That patience can be rewarded with victory this Saturday for the sister-act, 14 years on from the Breeders Classic success of Misty Plains.   THIS WEEK All eyes will be on Albion Park this Saturday as the QBRED night of pacing action takes centre stage. Headlining the night will be a pair of Group 1 events for the three-year-olds, with the Triad Finals for the fillies and for the colts and geldings. Talent To Spare and Jasper look the main players in the fillies division with Jasper looking to secure successive Triad Finals following her success last season in the two-year-old event. The boys’ iteration is shaping as a great contest with the barrier draws playing a big part in how the action will unfold. Big Wheels will be looking to go back-to-back after claiming victory in the two-year-old Triad but will be facing a strong field that will include the likes of Manila Playboy, Chamonix, and Justa Little Bit, among others. The night shapes as a superb night of QBRED-only action and with over $400,000 in stakes up for grabs - it really does pay to be QBRED.   By Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

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When Bathurst harness racing trainer Chris Frisby calls Trent Dawson offering up a new pacer, he cannot say yes fast enough. Frisby has sent the Clarendon-based stable of Dawson several quality horses over the years, including new TAB Trot Rods leader Yep Got Chooks. In a thrilling night of the 2021 TAB Trot Rods series on Wednesday at Redcliffe, a new benchmark was set in the opening heat by Maffioso Girl for the Elkins team in a time of 65.8 seconds. In driving rain, that time lasted less than an hour as Yep Got Chooks - driven and trained by Dawson - shot to the front in a slick time of 65.03 seconds shortly after. The leaders set a cracking pace in front in Heat 8 of the series before Yep Got Chooks was able to slip up the inside and win in a tight three-way go on the line. “The way the barrier draw was, I thought it would suit him, and I think that was the deciding factor in it all last night, the draw,” Dawson said. “They went hard for him and made it a nice time. “The rain may have played a part in it; it might have taken a bit out of the ones that were making the speed.” Wednesday evening's quick spin around the Redcliffe triangle was just the second effort for Yep Got Chooks with the Dawson stable. The four-year-old pacer comes from Frisby in Bathurst and while he has now won second-up in Queensland, Dawson did not have high hopes when he first arrived, but now can see plenty of potential in Yep Got Chooks. “Chris has always been really good to me, we are friends,” Dawson said. “I never hesitate when he calls me up, I take his word and we just go from there. “I have bought a few from him that have turned out quite alright, I will just keep going back to him then if he keeps giving me good ones. “I will have to ask him what else has got (laughs).” After “The Kid” Angus Garrard and Living Free set the benchmark for the 2021 TAB Trot Rods on the opening night, it has now been broken three times over the last week. With a few more weeks until the big Trot Rods Final night, Dawson is hopeful his time of 65.03 seconds with Yep Got Chooks can claim the title. “It would be too nice if he could hold on and win it,” he said. “That was a reasonably high class race on Wednesday, being a mid-60s I think, it is getting up there in class. “Even with those kinds of horses, it is good enough money just to win the race, so you need to temper it a little bit. “You have to have the right balance between trying to run the fastest time and wanting to win the race.” Trainer-driver Dawson, who has around 15 in work at his property, heads to the QBRED TRIAD 3YO Fillies Group 1 (2138m) on Saturday night at Albion Park with two leading chances - Talent To Spare and Kissesforyamisses. Two more heats for the TAB Trot Rods series will be run this coming Wednesday night, May 19, at Redcliffe. Over the series, 10 heats to be run over successive Wednesday nights before the Trot Rods Final night on Wednesday May 26. A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the owners of the horse with the fastest time throughout the series, thanks to Otto Tuza. The winning trainer will also receive an Otto Tuza two-horse angled and fully enclosed horse float valued at over $21,000. A $1,000 bonus will be awarded to the connections of any horse that eclipses the previous best series time, split 80% to owner and 20% to trainer. With The Band took out the inaugural Trot Rods crown last year, and the $10,000 bonus, in a time of 64.77 seconds.   By Jordan Gerrans for Racing Queensland
Former Victorian harness racing pacer Perfect Major is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 5 in the $25,000 Members Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and star reinsman Chris Voak is planning to use the five-year-old’s strength in a concerted bid for victory. Jack Farthing, perfectly drawn at barrier one, is certain to lead, with trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice driving the New Zealand-bred six-year-old for the first time in a race sure to be anxious to make full use of the gelding’s sparkling gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory. Voak doesn’t want Jack Farthing to enjoy an easy unchallenged time in front, and he plans to make the sprint a strong staying test. “It will be a strong-run race,” said Voak. “Perfect Major will breeze and run a mighty race. Jack Farthing from barrier one is my only danger.” Perfect Major and Jack Farthing clashed over 1730m last Friday night when the polemarker Will I Rocknroll set the pace, with Jack Farthing, from barrier No. 8, racing three wide for the first 400m before working in the breeze. Perfect Major began smartly from barrier nine and Voak dashed him forward, three wide, in the first lap in a determined effort to move alongside the pacemaker. But Aiden de Campo was equally determined to hold the breeze with Jack Farthing, leaving Voak with no alternative but to restrain Perfect Major back to last in the field of eleven. Perfect Major was still last with 400m to travel when Voak sent him forward with a spirited burst. But Perfect Major met with interference and galloped for a couple of strides 100m later and was last half-way down the home straight before finishing strongly, out five wide, to finish eighth. “Perfect Major felt great last week,” Voak said. “Jack Farthing wouldn’t hand the breeze up to him and I had to go back to last and then got knocked over at the 300m. If he hadn’t been knocked over, he would have finished third (behind Extradite and Rakasinc).” Jack Farthing faded to finish last. Prentice decided to drive Jack Farthing this week after de Campo opted to take seven drives, five from his stable, at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park on Friday night. Jack Farthing, who has won twice from eight starts in WA, is extremely experienced at racing over sprint distances. He has run in 43 events over 1609m in New South Wales for nine wins, five seconds and six thirds, with best rates of 1.50.3, 1.51, 1.51.3, 1.52.2 and 1.52.9. With an anticipated battle between Jack Farthing and Perfect Major, it could play into the hands of Balcatherine, the only mare in the race. Balcatherine, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, is the State’s best mare, who has won at ten of her 20 starts and is having her first start for 18 weeks. She will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from barrier four. “I’m sure she will go well,” said Hall Jnr. “She seems to be every bit as good as she was before she went out (for a spell) and her work has been really good. I reckon Perfect Major will put pressure on Jack Farthing, and the way Perfect Major went last week, I reckon he will take plenty of beating.” The Hall stable will also be represented Eloquent Mach (barrier two) and Whozideawasthis (barrier eight). Callan Suvaljko will handle Eloquent Mach, who is resuming after a 22-week absence, and Maddison Brown will drive the ten-year-old Whozideawasthis.   By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park
Promising four-year-old Alta Blues will resume racing after an absence of 19 weeks when he starts off the back line in the $30,000 Pure Steel Pace at harness racing's Gloucester Park on Friday night. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr was nominated to drive six runners in the Group 3 event over 2130m, and he has given punters a valuable lead by choosing Alta Blues (trained by his father Gary Hall Snr) over in-form pacers Alta Intrigue, Plutonium, The Verandah and Blissfullabbey, as well as the well-performed but enigmatic Fanci A Dance. Alta Intrigue, a seven-year-old stablemate of Alta Blues, was a smart first-up all-the-way winner last Friday night, and he will again be handled by Callan Suvaljko. He will start from the No. 4 barrier and is sure to be fancied. “I’ll drive Alta Blues,” said Hall Jnr. “It’s a good draw (No. 2 on the back line) and he is a good horse. Last time in we were hoping he would measure up to the Golden Nugget (in February), but he didn’t. We had given him a little break and it didn’t do him any good. But now he seems to be back on track to be the horse we thought he would be. “He is probably an each-way chance this week. He is a horse who needs racing, and he will get better and better.” The WA-bred Alta Blues did not race as a two-year-old. He had 12 starts as a three-year-old last season and showed considerable promise, winning six times and finishing second three times. Shannon Suvaljko will drive the Michael Young-trained Plutonium from the No. 3 barrier. Hall handled the five-year-old last Friday night when he trailed the pacemaker Alta Intrigue and did not get clear until late, when he finished strongly to be a half-head second to the frontrunner. Chris Voak has chosen to drive the Barry Howlett-trained Fanci A Dance ahead of the Ross Olivieri-trained The Last Parisian, a six-year-old who worked hard in the breeze and was driven to victory by Voak two starts ago. Fanci A Dance, who is resuming after a three-month absence, is favourably drawn on the inside of the back line and should enjoy an ideal passage behind the likely pacemaker Parmesan, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick for trainers Greg and Skye Bond from the coveted No. 1 barrier. Parmesan should be better suited over the 2130m on Friday night than he was when he set the pace and faded to finish fourth behind Vespa over 2536m last Friday week. Hall Jnr has a drive in seven of the nine events on Friday night, and he lent towards Balcatherine, Princess Mila and Nota Bene Denario as his better prospects. Princess Mila, a winner at eight of her 16 starts last season, has enjoyed a beneficial spell since she started off the 30m mark and won the 2530m $50,000 Trotters Cup by a head from Sunnys Little Jestic on New Year’s Eve. She will be tested from the 40m mark in Friday night’s 2096m Happy Birthday Ryan Pontillo Trot. “I think she has come back better, really good,” said Hall. “She is working super.” One of Princess Mila’s most serious rivals is expected to be the Michael Young-trained eight-year-old Champagne Prince, who was driven by Hall when he trailed the pacemaker and finished solidly to be a close second to Tenno Sho in a 2130m mobile event last Tuesday week. Hall said that he was confident of a strong performance from Nota Bene Denario in the 2536m Vale Joe Iemma Pace, in which the New Zealand-bred gelding, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, will start from the prized No. 1 barrier. “I’ll be trying to lead,” said Hall Jnr. “The only time I have led with him was five starts ago (at his Australian debut) when he started off the front in a stand.” In three subsequent starts in mobile events, Nota Bene Denario has started from wide barriers and Hall has not tested his gate speed. Hall is pleased with the gelding’s form a neck second to Shanway and a well-beaten third behind the flying Back In Twenty last Friday night at his past two starts. Whether Nota Bene Denario can hold out Lord Rosco is debatable. Lord Rosco is blessed with terrific gate speed. At his latest appearance, over 2130m last Friday week, Lord Rosco began fast from the No. 5 barrier and led by a half-length in the early stages but was unable to cross the polemarker Shanway, who went on to win from Nota Bene Denario, who finished determinedly from eighth at the bell.   By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park
Collie harness racing trainer Errol Ashcroft said that Euphoric Moment was a strong stayer, and he was confident that the experienced six-year-old would prove to be hard to beat and end a losing sequence of ten when he contests the final event, the 2536m Etch Coatings Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Euphoric Moment, a veteran of 91 starts for 12 wins and 28 placings, has drawn ideally at barrier one and Deni Roberts is expected to attempt to win the start and set the pace. “We’re a good chance from No. 1,” declared Ashcroft. “I usually leave the tactics up to my driver, but we would hope to lead. When he starts off the front, he has gate speed, and if we pop the plugs, he’ll go. “I’d say that Deni might pull the plugs at the start. That will be up to her. The horse is going really good, and the 2536m will suit him, regardless of whether he leads or sits. He’s a strong stayer.” Euphoric Moment’s past two runs have been full of merit. Two starts ago he sustained a spirited three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to take a narrow lead in the final 50m before losing by a neck to the fast-finishing Vespa. Then he raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before fighting on to finish fourth behind Alta Intrigue in a fast-run 2130m event.  Roberts will also drive the Ashcroft-trained Henwood Bay, who is favourably drawn at barrier two in the opening event, the 2130m Catalano Truck And Equipment Pace. “It’s a pretty tough race, but he’ll be knocking on the door,” said Ashcroft. “I’m happy with the way he is going. I think 2500m in the breeze (when a fading sixth behind Hampton Banner last Friday night) was a bit much for him.” This week’s event is likely to develop into a battle between speedy pacers Heavens Showgirl and Boom Time. Heavens Showgirl, a winner at ten of her 29 starts, is in top form for Ravenswood trainer Nathan Turvey, who said: “I think she can win; all she needs is a bit of luck. Her sectionals at her past two runs have been fantastic.” Heavens Showgirl will start from barrier five with Emily Suvaljko in the sulky. She enjoyed an ideal passage in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to be second to the brilliant Star Of Diamonds in the group 2 WASBA Breeders Stakes last Friday night. She was most impressive at her previous outing when she was sixth at the bell and seventh at the 550m before she charged to the front 220m from home and won from Blissfullabbey at a 1.55.3 rate over 2130m. Chris Voak is confident the Ross Olivieri-trained Boom Time will prove very hard to beat, saying: “From barrier six he’ll probably sit and sprint. He can run home in 27sec. flat. “On ability, he can beat Heavens Showgirl. But the only concern is that he hasn’t been able to race for a month because races keep falling over.” Boom Time has won at his past two starts, charging home, three wide, from ninth at the 900m to easily beat Vespa and Whoswhointhezoo, and a week later leading from barrier one and scoring by more than two lengths from Mirragon. By Ken Casellas for Gloucester Park
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