Day At The Track

All-conquering Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ben Yole has kicked off a three-month campaign on the mainland in the best possible way. Three minor placings in the country, then a close-up metropolitan fourth certainly put "the writing on the wall" that the Yole team meant business. So, it was no surprise to see the visitor post a winning double at Cranbourne last Sunday night. "It was the perfect way to get things underway - let's just hope it continues," Yole said. "We have 18 horses that will campaign in Victoria. That leaves about 40 at home," he said. "At this stage the plan is to spend about three months racing over there. Of course, that could blow out - we'll just see how we shape up and take it from there." The Yole stable has been going gangbusters in recent years. This is the fourth consecutive season they have topped the 100 mark with winners. And the 2018-19 season has been a standout, eclipsing the previous Tasmanian record for most wins in a season. They are currently sitting on an amazing 174 victories. Ben Yole                                                             (Courtesy Stacey Lear Photography) Yole said his younger brother Tim and their Tasmanian-based driver Conor Crook would be looking after the campaign horses. "I've been flying over backwards and forwards a few times and I realize that's the way it's going to be. We are based at the Wahring stables of Paul and Rosie Weidenbach. They're fantastic and their place is great," he said. The Cranbourne winners were aptly named in Ready To Fire and Good Feelings....surely presenting omen bets for followers of the Yole team! Five-year-old mare Ready To Fire (Somebeachsomewhere-Fight Fire With Fire (Artiscape USA) took out the SBG Accountants and Business Advisors Pace at the juicy odds of $23 for driver Greg Sugars. The second leg of the double saw young Ballarat concession reinsman Darby McGuigan (who could win on a rocking horse at the moment) get home on Good Feelings (Mr Feelgood-Good Lookin Girl (Perfect Art USA) in the Hygain Pace at $3.70. Yole said that while stable reinsman Conor Crook would be used regularly, he also planned to engage other notable senior drivers when they were available. Conor Crook and Tim Yole with their recent Victorian winners So far, he has enlisted the likes of Sugars, McGuigan, Chris Svanosio, James Herbertson, Kima Frenning and Kevin Weidenbach Jnr. Despite living on the 'Apple Isle' for the past 12 years after shifting from Hamilton in Victoria, Yole has only been a full-time trainer for the past four years. "When we first came across, myself and my brothers Mark and Tim all had full-time work. We used to squeeze our horses in around our jobs. We had probably a dozen horses then, although sometimes it got up to 20," Ben said. "Now it's just all horses and our dad Wayne, who is retired, helps us out on a part-time basis which is great," he said. "We are up and going at 6am and aim to have the team all done by 12 noon. Where we are is similar weather to Hamilton, although it does get awfully wet for maybe three weeks in winter." The logistics of running the massive Yole operation are hard to comprehend. "There are races every week and we usually have big numbers going around," Yole said. "Sometimes it could be 30 or 40 or more at a meeting. We own four trucks which on average carry nine horses each so that's how we get them there. "Each horse has its own gear and individual race day bag but it's a big job cleaning all the harness - and one I tend to avoid if possible!" Somewhere in between all the work, Yole insists he still manages to find family time to relax. His wife Catherine is a schoolteacher, and they have a four-year-old son Hudson and another baby on the way. Yole said as a youngster, the legendary Barker family, Jim and Rod, first got him into horses through the pony trots. "From there I learnt a lot from Kevin Brough and his son Adam, who were very astute trainers," he said. "Looking back, I now realize how professional Adam was in the way he went about things. He certainly taught me the benefits of all the one-percenters. "After all the horses were finished, Adam wasn't. He'd be off rubbing joints or attending to other things that a lot of other trainers mightn't bother with." The Yole training complex is on 50 acres with an 800m fastwork track, swimming pool and plenty of grazing paddocks. "We also have a bush property with several different circuits. This, and going to the beach, which is 15 minutes away, aims to break up the same day-in, day-out training regimes," he said. And while their massive raceday numbers seem positively scary to outsiders, the Yole stable is always on the lookout for more horses from the mainland. "The aim is to keep turning them over and enjoy the sport - and we all certainly love being involved in harness racing and getting winners that's for sure."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It’s a mixed bag of best bets from members of the WA Trotting Media Guild for Friday night’s meeting at Gloucester Park. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and longshot king Pat Harding believe talented three-year-old gelding Wildwest will keep his unbeaten record intact when he steps out in race nine. “Wildwest has won by significant margins at each of his three starts and appears to have potential that could make him the next stable star at trainer Gary Hall’s property,” Manning said. “Imported from New Zealand after scoring by almost 40m last May, he recorded a WA debut victory by more than 35m at Pinjarra last month. He was not extended in a 9.5m win at his first Gloucester Park appearance. He is aimed at the Golden Nugget, but seems certain to also be entered in the Fremantle Pacing Cup and WA Pacing Cup.” Harding agrees with Manning. “There is no doubt that Gary Hall has yet another outstanding horse in his stable in Wildwest and despite the wide barrier I believe he can notch up yet another impressive win,” Harding said. Leading tipster Matt Young is keen on the enigmatic King Of Swing in the opening event. “King Of Swing is a beast in front and he has drawn to lead,” Young said. “He should be winning by as far as Gary Hall Jr feels like.” TABradio’s racecaller Hayden King thinks punters should keep their powder dry until the last race. “Remit Me Whitby looks set for an all-the-way victory, almost identical to Tuesday,” King said. “She has improved out of sight to be one of our topline two-year-olds.” On-course announcer Ken Casellas has been impressed with Eloquent Mach’s form. “Three-year-old Eloquent Mach has returned after a spell in wonderful form and he looks set to complete a hat-trick by overcoming a 20-metre handicap on Friday night,” Casellas said. “He has been most impressive in winning stands over 2096m and 3309m on the past two Friday nights after resuming racing for champion trainer Gary Hall following a four-month absence.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is a fan of Our Corelli in the fourth race. “Our Corelli has his best draw since transferring to the Debra Lewis stable and looks poised to return to winning form,” Havercroft said. “In April he last drew barrier one, while in the care of Justin Prentice, and led all of the way for a comfortable victory.” Guild president Wayne Currall believes the consistent Dominate The Dojo can finally break through for a well-deserved victory. “This speed machine from the Kevin Keys stable has run four seconds and two thirds from his last six outings,” Currall said. “His last win was over the sprint trip in May when he led all the way in a mile rate of 1.55.7. He’s drawn out wide but champion reinsman Chris Lewis will use his abundant pace off the arm to cross the field. From the top he’s the horse they all have to beat.” VALUE BETS ERNIE: Bechers Brook has a five-run losing sequence, but would not surprise if he displayed the form which delivered 12 wins in his first 24 races. A winner of six Gloucester Park events, he has this week drawn better than when fourth to Major Trojan last Friday night. PAT: I think the August Cup is a wide open affair but I have a feeling that No. 9 Vultan Tin can get the job done. With the race over 2536 metres, I don't think the wide barrier will affect his chances. MATT: Bad Round has been racing well without much luck, looks to be some pace on over the mile and Shannon Suvaljko can weave some magic at double-figure odds. HAYDEN: Hot Fraternity has multiple avenues from which he can achieve victory. This versatility may prove vital in a tactical race. KEN: She Could Be Good has charged home from the rear to be placed at her past two outings and will be mighty hard to beat this week. RYAN: From a backline draw, Cyber Storm went to the line hard held on debut and should have finished closer than fourth. Drawn the pole this week, he can make his own luck if he leads. WAYNE: Last-start winner Free To Air should get a cosy run behind likely leader Whoswhointhezoo and can run a race at each-way odds. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall

Talented four-year-old King of Swing has a losing sequence of seven and has managed just one placing (a third behind Chicago Bull and Vultan Tin six starts ago, on May 31) but champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has declared him a good thing to win the opening event, the 2130m On Track With Enda Brady Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. His past five outings have resulted in a sixth, an eighth, a ninth, a tenth and an 11th placing. But he certainly looks the winner this week from the favourable No. 2 barrier on the front line. “He just wins,” declared a confident Hall. “He will be leading and he and Wildwest are my best prospects at the meeting. Both will be short, and both should be winning.” Last Friday night, King of Swing, the WA Derby winner in April 2018, was a 3/1 chance from the inside of the back line in a 1730m sprint at Gloucester Park. He raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, and was hopelessly blocked for a run, finishing 11th behind Bettor Reward. “There were a lot of unlucky runners in that race and I never got to let King of Swing go at all,” Hall said. King of Swing, with earnings of $450,470 from 17 wins and seven placings from 37 starts, is one of five runners in Friday night’s race who is prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall Snr.            The other Hall runners are polemarker Mad Robber (Lauren Jones), Tuas Delight (Maddison Brown), Ideal One (Kyle Harper) and Speed Man (Stuart McDonald). Mad Robber should enjoy a perfect trail behind King of Swing and looks a strong place prospect, while Speed Man is capable of overcoming a back-line draw and figuring in the placings. Speed Man impressed last Friday night when he thundered home from last at the bell to win easily by five lengths from Bob Wheel. That was the four-year-old’s 12th win from 36 starts. “Speed Man has had a few niggling problems, but he’s definitely above average in our stable,” said Hall Jnr. “I’ve been impressed with his past few runs. No one thinks he’s much good, but he deserves respect.” Hall spoke in glowing terms about New Zealand-bred three-year-old Wildwest, who is unbeaten after three starts. He will begin from the outside barrier in a field of nine in the Westate Timber Floors Pace over 2130m and should prove too good for the opposition, including promising stablemate Highly Flammable, a stylish last-start Pinjarra winner, Beaudiene Western and Bettor Be Oscar. “I’ll settle Wildwest early and then move into it as we see fit,” Hall said. “Just with his speed, he could sit last and pull out at the 300m and win. But we probably won’t be doing that. I’d imagine he’ll beat Beaudiene Western again. Beaudiene Western’s form in New Zealand was good; he was able to stretch Major Trojan’s neck in one race over there.”      Small filly Remit Me Whitby warmed up for the Vale Jim Snooks Pace over 2130m in fine style with an emphatic victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Remit Me Whitby, trained by Debra Lewis, will be driven by Jocelyn Young, who guided the filly to an excellent win by more than two lengths over Star In Art on Tuesday night, when she set the pace and sprinted over the final two 400m sections in 28.8sec. and 27.6sec. Remit Me Whitby possesses good gate speed and her clash with the other filly in the race, the talented Star Fromthepalace, and smart youngsters Aristocratic Star, Marcotti, Bee Jays Boy and Pocket The Cash will be a highlight of the ten-event program.   Ken Casellas

Prominent trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi describes five-year-old stallion Major Pocket as pugnacious bully who does his own thing in races. And Cortopassi is full of confidence that the powerful brown pacer will emerge triumphant when he contests the Bridge Bar pace over the sprint trip of 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “This is a big drop in class for him and the times he’s been running have been phenomenal and he’s been doing a bit of work in running those times,” said Cortopassi who is enjoying a successful season in the sulky with 90 winners.    Major Pocket, trained at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, is in splendid form and has the ability to overcome the awkward draw at barrier six and prove too strong and fast for his 11 rivals. He is overdue for a change of luck after being placed at his past four starts behind quality performers Saying Grace, Our Corelli, Simba Bromac and Major Trojan. He finished strongly from the one-out, one-back position to be an excellent second to this year’s WA Derby winner Major Trojan, who sped over the final quarters of the 2536m event in 28.8sec. and 27.6sec. last Friday night. “We tried early in this campaign to drive him quiet, but we failed,” Cortopassi said. “We switched him to stands (five in a row in April-May this year) to try to teach him to sit a little bit. “But he’s such a big headstrong horse that he just likes being the bully. Ray and I have come to the conclusion that he just likes being the bully. If you fight against him, he’s bigger and stronger than us and he goes to war with you. So, you’ve got to let him do what he wants, and that’s to roll. And he’s quite happy doing it. “Even last Friday night when we found Kristian’s helmet (Kristian Hawkins driving Hy Leexciting) all he wanted to do was to run over the top of him the whole way, even though we were rolling. He’s happy in front or in the breeze and running his type of race. He scooted home really well in 27.6sec. last week. “For a horse who has had the number of starts (45) he has had and has earned the stakemoney ($134,212) he’s won, he has done a fantastic job. “He has been mixing it with some very good horses and a run that caught a lot of attention was his second to Our Corelli. Now he’s back in a winnable race and he will be keen, especially over the mile. “He ran second at a midweek meeting, rating 1.53 after going five, four and then three deep and then sitting in the breeze. I’d love to be able to get to the front on Friday night. We will be going forward from barrier six and we won’t be taking any prisoners.” Major Pocket is the first foal out of Elena S, who earned $97,549 from nine wins and 20 placings from 59 starts. He has won 11 races after setting the pace in seven of them and working in the breeze in two others. This week he should prove too strong for some formidable opponents, including Shes Turbo Charged, Smoldering Ashes, Carter Micheal, Runaway Three, The War Nurse and Cut For An Ace. Shannon Suvaljko gives polemarker Shes Turbo Charged a good chance, with the Courtney Burch-trained mare capable of a bold effort from the inside barrier. “She has been running good races and she’s gone 1.54. She’s a good leader and we’ve been waiting for a barrier draw. This is the right race for her.” In the other 1730m event on the program Suvaljko will handle the Debbie Padberg-trained Bad Round, who will be fancied from the No. 1 barrier. Bad Round is a smart beginner and a good frontrunner. “I’ll be trying to hold up, but there is a chance he might get crossed,” Suvaljko said. Even if he is beaten out, Bad Round should fight out the finish after enjoying a perfect passage on the pegs behind the pacemaker. His main rivals loom as Hot Fraternity, Dominate The Dojo, Rock Me Over, Liam Neil and Waimac Attack.   Ken Casellas

Tough and speedy mare Amelias Courage will make her final Australian appearance when she contests the $30,000 WASBA Pace for four and five-year-old mares over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She has been sold to American interests and will do her future racing in the United States. Ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown would dearly love Amelias Courage to bow out as a winner and he is confident the Victorian-bred four-year-old will take plenty of beating. “If she pulls up well, this will be her last run here and she’ll be off to America,” Brown said. “She has been purchased and all she needs now is a veterinary clearance. “She will certainly appreciate the No. 1 barrier and returning to racing against her own sex. She has been racing in a lot better races than this. However, there are some handy types in this week’s event. “Her overall record is not impeccable, but it is extremely good. Forget about her latest run when she drew barrier eight in a good race, the John Higgins Memorial three weeks ago. The draw took her out of it. She went back and ran home okay (finishing eighth behind Convert Denario). “She can lead or breeze and has gone 1.55.2 in winning over 2130m in the breeze at Gloucester Park (beating Pavarotti in April 2018). She is tough and the plan on Friday night is to lead. We haven’t stoked this mare up for a long time. I think she can hold up and lead. “I don’t think that they (the connections of Salacious Gossip) will want to play the same tactics as last week (when Salacious Gossip began brilliantly from barrier five and recorded a blistering lead time of 34.9sec. before setting a brisk pace and fading to finish last behind Talkerup over 2130m). But if Salacious Gossip is driven the same way this week (from barrier four) my mare certainly has the toughness to shoulder her. “The main one I’m worried about is She Could be Good. She’s gone back to the Bond camp and if there is a lot of speed on, she could be too quick for us at the end. She has fast twitch and high speed. If anything is going to beat Amelias Courage, it will be something with a bit of high speed.” Amelias Courage has raced in mixed company at her past 11 starts and should appreciate racing against mares. Her most recent victory was six starts ago when she raced without cover before beating It Aint Royal at a 1.56.2 rate over 1684m at Pinjarra on June 10 this year. Brown said that Amelias Courage, who has had 57 starts for 12 wins, 17 seconds, six thirds and $128,260 in prizemoney, would be a strong and successful performer in sprint racing in America. “She has been a good horse for her owners here and now we’re at the stage where we’ve got six promising yearlings coming up. Basically, horses have to be well above average to be kept racing here after they turn four. So, we’ve been sticking to that plan and have been selling a few and have been moving on to the younger stock where the money is.” She Could Be Good will have many admirers, even from out wide at barrier No. 8. She had eight starts for three wins for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond between March and June 2017 before switching stables. She returned to the Bond camp about two months ago and after a first-up seventh after galloping in a stand at Pinjarra She Could Be Good has impressed with fast-finishing efforts at her next two starts. She surged home from eighth at the bell in a field of eight to finish an eye-catching third behind Pradas Ideal Dahling over 2130m last Friday week before finishing powerfully from 11th at the bell to be second to Talkerup over 2130m last week. Star reinsman Chris Lewis said that the Barry Howlett-trained mare Delightful Mandy (barrier seven) had sound prospects. She led and finished fifth behind Im Beta Than Gouda over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. “I’m not disappointed at all at her effort at Pinjarra,” Lewis said. “She got terrorized up the back when they’ve run 27sec. No horse will come back from a 27 quarter when you get crunched like that. She stuck it out quite well to finish where she did. Provided she hasn’t been hurt by that run I think she can run a very good race.” Apart from Amelias Courage, She Could Be Good and Delightful Mandy, fast-finishing last-start winners Crystal Sparkles and Nowuseemesmile and in-form runners Cut Above and Bettorgrinanbarit are sure to be supported in what should be wide open betting event. Ken Casellas

Our Corelli is the youngest and least experienced runner in the $25,000 August Cup over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but champion reinsman Chris Lewis is bubbling with confidence about the four-year-old’s winning prospects. Lewis said he was delighted when Our Corelli, trained by his wife Debra and owned by their son Mark, drew the coveted No. 1 barrier. “We’ll definitely push out and we’ll hold up,” said Lewis, who added that he was impressed with the sparkling gate speed the New Zealand-bred gelding showed in a 2130m event last Friday night. Our Corelli was unable to cross the polemarker Convert Denario and after racing in the breeze in the early stages he raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before finishing a sound sixth behind Handsandwheels, who rated a smart 1.55.6. “The extra distance this week won’t hurt Our Corelli,” Lewis said. “Barrier one suits him and he’s definitely a winning chance. He seems to be bouncing off his runs pretty well.”     Our Corelli has raced beyond 2185m only once in his 27-start career. That was at his first start for Debra Lewis when he finished boldly from sixth at the bell to win from the favourite The Lightning Strike at a 1.57.6 rate over 2692m at Pinjarra on July 1 this year. The gelding boasts a splendid record for the Lewis stable --- seven starts in the space of 41 days for five wins and $53,949 in stakes. He is the second foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Reklaw, who was retired after two starts in New Zealand in October 2012 for a head second over 2600m at Timaru and a strong-finishing nose victory over 1950m at Addington. Our Corelli’s full-brother Rishi is still racing n Victoria where he has won nine times for Lance Justice after winning at three of his five starts in New Zealand.  Our Corelli and Rishi are closely related to Franco Encore, who earned $593,738 from 28 wins and 19 placings from 70 starts. Franco Encore won eight times in New Zealand and three times from four starts in Australia (including the $50,000 Queensland Derby and the $100,000 Australian Derby at Albion Park in July 1997).  The August Cup was first run in 1950 when Doug Booth drove Lily Girl to victory over Johnnie Robert and Gamble King. Lewis was successful in the 2012 August Cup when he brought the Andrew de Campo-trained Dasher VC with a surging burst from eighth in the middle stages to beat Cromac Johnny and Sneakyn Down Under. One of Our Corelli’s most serious rivals on Friday night is the Stephen Reed-trained Kiwi Legend, who will be driven by Mark Reed from the No. 2 barrier. Mark Reed has won the August Cup as a reinsman with Another Party (2000), Buck The Odds (2004) and Tricky Vic (2005) and Stephen Reed prepared Uppy Son for his win over Has The Answers in the 2013. A win by Kiwi Legend would come as a welcome present for Mark Reed, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Wednesday this week. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr has won the August Cup with Zakara (1991-92-93-94), Im Themightyquinn (2010), Northview Punter (2014) and Chicago Bull (2018). He will be represented in this year’s Cup by Herrick Roosevelt and Whozideawasthis. Hall’s son Gary (who will drive Herrick Roosevelt) has won the Easter Cup with Im Themightyquinn, Uppy Son, Northview Punter and Chicago Bull. Greg Bond, who prepares veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone (Bailey McDonough) and the talented duo of El Jacko (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Vampiro (Ryan Warwick) in partnership with his wife Skye, trained Mister Odds On when Colin Brown drove him to victory over Spirit of Shard and Fourmoore in the 2009 August Cup. El Jacko and Vampiro have drawn out wide but each is capable of a bold showing. The Phil Costello-trained Vultan Tin (Chris Voak) can never be left out of calculations, but the seven-year-old faces a stern test from the outside barrier (No. 9). Ken Casellas

An enormous day awaits for Anton Golino at Maryborough tomorrow, one which offers great hope but the ever-present threat of trotting heartbreak, with his Yabby Dam Racing stable presenting 15 in TAB Breeders Crown heats. While safe progression through to the August 24 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton is the primary aim, Golino is hopeful a few of his well-bred Pat Driscoll-owned trotters will confirm their contender status. And the Ballarat trainer said there was also opportunity for some, like Aldebaran Park two-year-old colts and geldings' contestant Avimore, to finally show their true colours. "To be honest, (Avimore's) probably one of the better ones of mine on ability," Golino told the Inside Word podcast. But owing to manners ability hadn't yet transformed into race performance, having finished seventh or eighth in his four starts when he's either broken gait, started poorly or tailed off. "I think he will be OK," Golino said. "We have changed a few little things on him and I had a look at the gate the other day with him and he seemed to be quite good. Just get him out the gate and after that he should be fine." Avimore is one of three runners Golino has in the class, sharing the second heat with stablemate Gun Slinger, who will start from inside the back row in and "will need luck" but is "a nice colt". "Hopefully we can get no bad luck and he can get through and qualified and draw a bit better in the final," Golino said. Avimore is listed a $41 chance with TAB.com.au and Gun Slinger at $6. The other Yabby Dam runner, Quake Proof, is in the first heat, where he's listed a $41 shot in a market dominated by Redwood Classic winner Ultimate Stride. "He was a little bit of a handful there early and we had to drive him (so) he wouldn't get too revvy, a couple of times he showed us that he could get home real good," Golino said. "If he's handy enough, he will be there amongst them. He's a pretty nice horse, that said, I think next season he will be a real good horse."   HRV Trots Media

To outsiders, it may have seemed like an unremarkable win for harness racing trainer-driver Shane Smith when his pacer Tianischoice saluted at Mildura recently. But for Smith and his wife Sharon, it really couldn't have been more significant or emotional, marking the couple's first race victory since Shane overcame a prolonged battle with cancer. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma three years ago, life is only now returning to something resembling "normality" for the former Broken Hill couple, who've had a "horse or two" in work for most of the past 30 years. "In hindsight, it was a bit sad because when we lost a close friend suddenly and unexpectedly five years ago, it was a bit of a wakeup call. That was really the reason we decided to make the move from Broken Hill to Mildura," Sharon said. "We had been thinking about it for a long time, but when we lost her, it really made us think that life can be short, and we should do what we want to," she said. "So we bought a property in Mildura three years ago - and virtually straight after that, as we were preparing to move, Shane was diagnosed in February 2016." It left the couple trying to manage two properties, an interstate move and some tough decisions, all while Shane was starting his cancer treatment. "It was a huge shock and really everything else just went into the background," Shane said. "I was having chemotherapy and going through all that, Sharon was back here trying to run the property - the timing wasn't the best!" he said. "We were moving here to have a fresh start and to do some of the things we had wanted to do for a long time, and that really just got turned upside down." Needless to say, horses went on the backburner. Chemotherapy slowed the progress of the disease, but ultimately it didn't stop it and Shane was placed on a second round of treatment. It was a trial of stem-cell therapy at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre, and Shane was one of the early patients to undergo the process in Australia. "It was a pretty difficult time and one of the worst things was having to be kept as isolated as possible during the treatment because of the risk of Shane catching something," Sharon said. "So that meant very little contact with family and friends. We had a new grandson born just a month before Shane was diagnosed so we missed a lot of time with him," she said. "But ultimately, the treatment was successful and in January this year we got the news that we wanted to hear, that Shane was cancer-free." Not surprisingly, life has taken some time to return to "normal", and horses didn't necessarily take first priority. Sharon and Shane Smith    The couple developed horse infrastructure on their property, including a track, and are training a small team, mostly for Broken Hill owners. "It takes a while for you to start thinking about life without the cancer hanging over your head, and we had a lot to do before we started thinking about horses," Sharon said. "Catching up on lost time with family and our grandchildren, Matilda, Wyatt and Tommy was the most important thing to us, and we did plenty of that!" she said. "But it really did feel good to us to be back doing those routine things with the horses." Shane also had to regain his licence in Victoria, completing 15 trial drives to do so. He got back to the trials in April and returned to race driving in July. And it was a case of first night back, and first win. Smith warmed up to the task with one drive at his comeback meeting at Mildura, before saluting on Tianischoice (Dream Away- Willow Bend (Armbro Aussie) later in the night, for friend and Broken Hill owners Alan and Trudy Rennie. "It was a real thrill. What we've been through does change your perspective a bit on what's important and what you do with your life. But it was certainly an unreal feeling - and hopefully the next one won't be too far away," Shane said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Superstar Kiwi filly Our Princess Tiffany will have to overcome the back row to resurrect her Breeders Crown assault in the semi-finals at Bendigo on Saturday night.  Despite one of the most disappointing runs of her career when a labouring fourth in her Crown heat, Our Princess Tiffany still dominates Aussie TAB betting for her semi. Although drawn the back row (gate 10), she is $1.22 favourite.  Emma Stewart’s Two Times Bettor easily beat Our Princess Tiffany in their heat, but also has the back row (gate nine) in the semi. She’s firmed from $5 to $4.40.  The other Kiwi in the race, Jeremy Young’s Best Western, has been specked from $13 into $10 from barrier six.  The first of the Kiwis to step-out at Bendigo is Ray Green’s Perfect Stride in the first and much weaker of the two semis for juvenile colts and geldings.  Perfect Stride, who ran second to Pacifico Dream in his Crown heat, is a commanding $1.65 favourite from gate three in his semi. Ironically, the main threat is Focus Stride – who like Perfect Stride is owned by Emilio Rosati – at $5 from the pole.  The depth is so much stronger in the second semi where another Kiwi, Zachary Butcher’s Zeuss Bromac, is a $6 shot from inside the back row (gate eight). Emma Stewart’s glamour pair Be Happy Mach ($1.50, gate nine) and Mirragon ($4.20, gate one) are the key players.  The second of the All Stars’ Crown hopefuls, Jesse Duke, faces a huge assignment from outside the front (gate seven) in a powerhouse first semi of the Crown 3YO colts and geldings. The Aussie TAB has him a $12 chance.  David Aiken’s NSW and Tasmanian Derby winner Max Delight is $1.70 favourite from gate four ahead of Emma Stewart’s star pair Hurricane Harley ($3.90, gate nine) and Demon Delight ($5, gate 13).  Stewart’s Out To Play (gate three) is $2 favourite in the second semi from Malcolms Rhythm (gate two, $2.80) with Lochinvar Art at $3.60 from a horror outside back row draw (gate 13).  _____________________________________________________________________________ BEFORE the pacers step-out at Bendigo, NZ’s Breeders Crown trotting hopefuls strut their stuff at Maryborough tomorrow (Thursday).  The headline act is Phil Williamson’s last-start Redwood Classic winner Ultimate Stride, who is a $1.65 to snare another win from gate six in the first heat for juvenile colts and geldings.  Exciting stablemate Liberty Stride, who ruined her chance when favourite in the Victoria Trotters’ Derby by galloping away hopelessly, is set for a fascinating clash with buzz local I Am Pegasus in the first heat for 3YO fillies.  I Am Pegasus is a clear $1.40 favourite from gate three, while Liberty Stride is the lone back runner (gate eight) and a $2.90 shot.  The highlight of the day will be another glimpse of breathtaking Victoria Trotters’ Derby winner Majestuoso in his heat of the Crown for 3YO colts and geldings.  It’s a talent-packed race and he’s drawn outside the front (gate seven) over the shorter 2190m trip, but Majestuoso is $2.20 favourite. Key rivals include likely leader All Cashed Up (gate three, $4), Just Believe (one, $5).  The Kiwi in the race is John and Josh Dickie’s Kratos, who made late ground for third in the Derby. He’s a $5 shot from gate five.      Adam Hamilton

Star pacer Soho Tribeca has returned to Perth in a quest to resurrect his career. And today he was back with Kim Prentice, the man who took him through the grades to become arguably the best pacer in Australia. “I didn’t expect to see him again, I’m very, very excited,” Prentice said. Soho Tribeca won a Golden Nugget and Vicbred 4YO final at Group 1 level for Prentice, but their biggest win together came in the 2018 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup. A year earlier Soho Tribeca ran second in the Fremantle Cup and third in the WA Cup. Owner Rob Watson transferred him to Mick Stanley in Victoria to chase the eastern states major races like the Hunter Cup (he ran 2nd to Lazarus in 2018) and Miracle Mile (he ran third to My Field Marshal last year) before a Queensland campaign was derailed by a broken leg just over 12 months ago. Stanley nursed Soho Tribeca back to the races, but his first run in 11 months was an inglorious seventh at Melton on June 15 when found to have had a virus. He hasn’t raced since. Prentice said the plan was to have Soho Tribeca back racing by early December with a view to chasing the Fremantle and WA Cups again at Gloucester Park in January.  The timing and move back to Perth obviously rules out any chance of an Auckland Inter Dominion tilt.   Adam Hamilton

Victoria’s training ranks will be bolstered by a welcome addition to the Cranbourne Training Centre, with experienced South Australian trainer Scott Ewen kicking off a new chapter from September. A chance meeting with vigilant Cranbourne club officials at the Mildura Cup Carnival in April this year planted the seed and it took only a few more conversations to seal the deal. “It was actually on the river cruise on the Friday night,” Ewen said. “We had a bit of a chat and went from there.” He is no stranger to Victoria, having only 10 years ago returned with his family to South Australia after a stint as stable foreman for trainer Lance Justice. “I just started having too many horses myself and the kids were getting homesick (for South Australia), so we went back,” Ewen said. “But one of my daughters is 19 and pretty advanced in her dancing career, so she probably needed to move to Melbourne or Sydney.” The advantages of the Cranbourne Training Centre made the decision an easy one. “The club made me an offer that was too good to refuse,” Ewen said. “There’s a treadmill, a bungee pool, fantastic walking machine, everything’s state of the art." He said the main track was available seven days a week for fast work, "which is great", and there are two other tracks to work on. "If you couldn’t train winners there there’s something wrong.” Only two horses will make the trip with the Scott and wife, Kylie, including stable star Bulletproof Boy. “He’s won 20 races; he’s our champion,” Ewen said. “He might have had to come here for the faster class races anyway.” The Cranbourne club will provide additional support, potentially giving the stable some of its Club 21 horses to train. “I think they have some babies I might be able to train,” Ewen said. “I’ve got a few other mates who are keen to race down here – we’re only likely to train about a dozen, then we can be more hands-on, so it won’t take long for the stable to fill up. “When you’re out there performing and the horses are doing well that’s all the advertising you need. We’re looking forward to the adventure.” Club president Bill Hutchison said it was “with great pleasure" they welcome Ewen to the Cranbourne Harness Training Centre. "Scott and his family are steeped in harness racing tradition and he has already made a significant impact in the training ranks in South Australia," Mr Hutchison said. "Our club wish them success with their new venture.”   Lucy McCormick HRV Trots Media

Dual-code horsewoman Rita Burnett had every reason recently to be "over the moon." Rita was one of harness racing's female trail blazers, along with contemporaries Debbie Quinlan and Roma Pocock, but these days shares her time between the standardbreds and thoroughbreds. Burnett, of Kilmore, cheered home four-year-old pacer Cheeky Major in the Happy Birthday Master Paddy Vicbred Pace at her home track last Thursday. And the win was made that little bit special with her daughter Monique taking the reins. Cheeky Major (Art Major-Mademoiselle Gigi (Towner's Big Guy) showed plenty of gate speed to zip to the head of affairs. Beautifully rated on a rain affected track by Monique, the pair reeled off quarters of 29.6, 31.7, 31.5 and 31.1 to cruise the line with a handy six metre advantage. Long-time supporters of harness racing in Tom and Jean O'Donnell race the winner. "Despite being at it for probably over 30 years, mum is still enthusiastic as ever," Monique said. "She has six standardbred racehorses in work but does heaps of breakers and that's probably what she enjoys most, doing the babies," she said. "But she just loves getting a winner now and again and that's the first time for a while that we've combined to land the money, so it was extra nice." Rita Burnett                                                                    Monique Burnett  _____________________________________________________________________________ Much-travelled Myrniong reinsman Greg Sugars is leading the Driver of the Year award at Shepparton with two meetings to go. Greg is 36 points ahead of master Victorian driver Chris Alford, an opponent he holds with much respect. Astute Avenel trainer David Aiken is well clear on the trainers' premiership. He has a 31-point buffer over Bendigo's Glenn Douglas, who has been in red hot form. Quiet achiever Chris Svanosio is next best. Concession Driver of the Year leader is Kima Frenning, who came out backpacking from Sweden a few years ago, and is now going places in harness racing. Local young talent in Ryan Duffy is holding down second place. The Horse of The Year title sees bay gelding Ramblenroller (Blissful Hall-Cheryl's Fancy (Classic Garry), prepared by Stuart Govers, at the top of the table. Ultra-consistent gelding Enforce the Law (Lawman-Angel Force (Vittner) is a slender two-point leader in the Trotter Of The Year Award. Enforce the Law is prepared by Justin Torney. A brief look at the seasonal awards with meetings (tonight and August 18) remaining: Driver - Greg Sugars 147, Chris Alford 111, Kima Frenning 85 and John Caldow 78. Trainer - David Aiken 102, Glenn Douglas 61, Chris Svanosio 48, Laura Crossland 42 and Donna Castles 41. Horse Of The Year - Ramblenroller 20, Crocodile Kid 16, She Envy 14 and Roslyn Gaye 14. Trotter Of The Year - Enforce The Law 14, Nica Macdonon 12, Starlight Storm 12, Tetra 9, Popcorn Sutton 9, Majestic Time 9 and Col Du Galibier 9. Concession Driver Of The Year-Kima Frenning 85, Ryan Duffy 49, Zac Phillips 36, Brad Chisholm 27 and Tayla French 26. Greg Sugars _____________________________________________________________________________ Ararat Harness Racing Club has sent out an SOS to participants and followers of our industry. Club vice-President Phil Ralph has undertaken the monumental task of researching 100 years of harness racing in the Victorian central highlands city. Phil is seeking names of drivers, trainers and others going back "as far as you can remember". Any relevant photographs stacked in cupboards and old newspapers are also on Phil's hit list. He has been out and about in recent weeks visiting people to hear their stories. But Phil isn't stopping there - he's hungry for information! Anyone with suggestions of people who can make life a little easier for Phil is urged to send an e-mail to ararat@hrv.org.au   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Hurricane Harley's advance from the naughty corner to good books was brisk and the brilliant three-year-old is well placed for TAB Breeders Crown glory, says trainer Emma Stewart. Friday night's extraordinary all-the-way win at Ballarat, when Hurricane Harley set an age track record mile rate of 1:54.2, had left Stewart encouraged the Lauriston Bloodstock colt could defend his Breeders Crown two-year-old win. "He can be a little bit naughty, your hearts in your mouth with him a fair a bit of the time," Stewart told RSN 927's Gait Speed program. "His run in the heat was super, when he's right he's real good, but I wouldn't count out (stablemate) Out To Play and also Demon Delight, I thought they were terrific as well." Stewart's stable produced seven of last week's nine heat winners and looks particularly well-placed in the showcase IRT three-year-old colts and geldings' division after Hurricane Harley held out highly-rated Lochinvar Art. It was a poignant return to form for the Bettors Delight colt, who had finished 7.7 metres off the pace in the Betterthancheddar Vicbred Super Series final just a month prior. "He wasn't 100 per cent going into the Vicbred final, we had a lot of trouble with his feet, he had a little issue right before the final," Stewart said. "His work since then has been terrific and his run last week showed that, so I think he's definitely on the improve. He handles the racing well, he holds his condition good, so out of the three that I like in that division he's probably coming through the best at the moment." Hurricane Harley has drawn gate nine for Saturday night's Breeders Crown semi-finals at Bendigo. Click here for fields.   HRV Trots Media

Harness racing Kiwi duo too classy. New Zealand born, and now American based trainer Chris Ryder teamed up with fellow kiwi reins men Dexter Dunn to win the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial, with top three-year-old pacer Bettors Wish. Dunn simply outdrove the rest of the field. The pair found the front end from the three post early and ran a first half in a pedestrian 57 seconds, something unheard of in the open pacing ranks. From there Dunn knew, “If he got beat from there it would have to have been an off night”, so control was taken from that point as they blistered the last half in 53.3 to complete the mile in 1:50.3 on the half-mile track and win by 3 ½ lengths. With that victory, the 3yo son of Bettors Delight took his earnings to $1,096,600, joining the million dollar club and it was his 11th win of his career. It was also trainer Chris Ryder's 40th win of the season and notched his stake earnings to over the $1.7 million mark. Dunn continues to make a huge impact in the North American scene. Dexter has won 261 races this season and over $5.9 million in prize money to date. Top Down Under trotter Speeding Spur N bagged his first North American win impressively today Sunday the 11th of August. The 8yo son of Pegasus Spur was seen flying home to win the $148,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Tioga Downs, in a track record time for trotters of 1:52.4. The successful driver, Brian Sears commented after the victory, “He’s a classy horse, he knows what it’s all about” as he was extremely impressed with the Woodlands Stud owned trotter. Now trained by Linda Toscano, he promises plenty more to come in his North American career as he looks to expand his top quality reputation for a future breeding career. Previously prepared in New Zealand by John and Joshua Dickie, Speeding Spur was the winner of over $1.1 million including nine Group 1 victories across New Zealand and Australia. Sunday 4th August Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Torrid Bromac N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $7,000 Statement Made A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $14,500 Piccard A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $11,000 Our Positano N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $7,000   Tioga Downs NY Hugh Hefner N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $6,000   Monday 5th August Monticello Raceway NY Kamwood Laughter N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $5,500   Plainridge Park MA Buckeye N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $7,200 Rock Diamonds N – Time: 1:50.0, Stake: $14,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Glengarry Knight N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake, $16,000   Tuesday 6th August Monticello Raceway NY Power Dreaming N – Time: 1:56.2, Stake: $5,500 Kenrick N – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $5,900   Yonkers Raceway NY Abraxas Blues N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $18,500   Thursday 8th August Monticello Raceway NY Lettucerocku A – Time: 1:57.3, Stake:$3,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Brookies Prince N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $14,500 Bronze Over N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $18,500   Friday 9th August Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Backup A – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $17,050 Gold Class N – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $19,750   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Queen Lostris N – Time 1:52.1, Stake: $12,500   Saratoga Harness NY Misty Memory N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $7,250 Jive Dancing A – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $7,250   Yonkers Raceway NY Simply Sunsational N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $22,250 Kept Under Wraps A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $18,500 Miss You N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $30,000   Saturday 10th August Batavia Downs NY Kiwi Tintin N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $9,000 Lightning Raider N – Time: 1:57.3, Stake: $4,900   The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Bravo Tex N – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $12,500 Torrid Bromac N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $14,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Military Master A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $24,000 Mickey Gee N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $30,000   Sunday 11th August Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Mister Ohanzee A – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $12,500 Our Max Phactor N – Time: 1:49.4, Stake: $30,000 Bright Diamond N – Time: 1:49.4, Stake: $11,000   Ocean Downs Get Outta Eyre N – Time: 1:56.4, Stake: $3,500   Tioga Downs NY Ascot Encounter A – Time:1:53.0, Stake: $6,000 Speeding Spur N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $148,000 Kotare Yael N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $9,000 Carter Dalgety

The results of harness racing along the eastern seaboard this week further cemented Yirribee Pacing Stud's reputation as one of the leading standardbred nurseries in the country. The Wagga based stud bred no less than six winners for the week - three in NSW, two in Victoria and one in Queensland. The haul included a winning double at Wagga with Million Dollar Gem (1:58.7, by Million Dollar Cam) and the three-year-old Nobbys Clock (1:57.6, by Lombo Pocket Watch). Weona Luke (1:54, Menangle), Offthetopofmyhead (1:56.2, Albion Park), the three-year-old Hudsen (Cranbourne) and Racene (Mildura) were other winners bred by Yirribee Pacing Stud. Besides Nobbys Clock, Lombo Pocket Watchalso sired the 1:56.5 Bathurst winner Watchoutnexttime and a 'new' winner Ifbutzandmaybes (Hobart). Tintin In America left important winners on both sides of the Tasman in Gods Spirit NZ, an impressive end-to-end winner in 1:52.5 at Menangle, and Ella Jaccka, who notched her fourth win at Gore, New Zealand. To complete another busy week, the talented Caribbean Blaster three-year-old Blaster Ranger posted win No. 7 at Wagga last Friday (August 9). Tintin In America, Million Dollar Cam, Caribbean Blaster and Lombo Pocket Watch are part of an imposing Yirribee Pacing Stud roster for the 2019/20 season which also includes champion Ausralasian pacers Lazarus and Lennytheshark and the top flight American performers Fear The Dragon and Warrawee Needy.   By Peter Wharton

John “Bulldog” Nicholson is no stranger in sending horses to Tasmania, and the Victorian trainer produced another smart pacer in the state on Sunday night when Micton Mouse was able to claim the Cliff Robins Memorial Pace for two-year-olds. The gelded son of Stonebridge Regal showed brilliant gate speed to lead and dictate affairs in the $10,000 feature in a slick mile rate of 1m 57.9s, which was just 1.2s outside the two-year-old age record on the Launceston circuit. Nicholson gave driving responsibilities to stable employee and former Tasmanian Jack Laugher who explained that the horse is still learning the racing game. “His first race at Yarra Valley he led very easy and took a bit of cover and he was a bit green being his first time round,” Laugher said after Sunday’s win. “He is going to get better with more racing under his belt,” the driver added. The main mission for the trip was to secure the pacer’s $5,000 TASBred bonus. Micton Mouse was bred by Jack’s parents Michael and Toni Laugher out of their mare Massie Mouse, making the gelded son of Stonebridge Regal a half brother to Metro Mouse the winner of 13 races. “He will go for a spell now and come back as a three-year-old. I’m unsure if the owners will spell him down here or back in Victoria,” the winning driver said about the future plans going forward. Micton Mouse scored by four metres over Beat City with Karalta Courage 3.6 metres away third. Courageous Katee will claim this season’s Mare Of The Year title in Launceston, and the Dick Eaves-trained mare extended her unbeatable lead with another brilliant win, this time in the Beena Buster Pace. The daughter of Courage Under Fire raced three-wide and one-back over the final circuit and was too tough for her rivals late, courtesy of a good drive by Adrian Collins. “It suits her when there is a bit of speed on,” trainer Dick Eaves said post-race. “Tonight’s race suited her nicely and she got a good cart into it,” the Karoola based trainer said. “He is a strong boy Adrian (Collins) and you need to be with her, if somebody drives her that has a bit of trouble holding her they tend to go before acceptances and Adrian seems to sit there that bit longer,” Eaves explained. Courageous Katee was a run away winner by 6.3 metres in a mile rate of 2m 1.2s. Illegal Immigrant proved too quick for Harjeet in the Jubilee Bakery Free For All. Troy Hillier was happy to follow Harjeet every step of the way in the one-out one-back trail before finishing the race off strongly in the home straight to record a half-head victory. “He got tired on the line but he was probably entitled to,” trainer-driver Troy Hillier said after the win. Hillier has no major plans going forward with the gelded son of American Ideal. “There’s a free for all here in a fortnight, that’s all we have looked at so far,” he said. The mile rate for the 2200-metre event was 1m 57.2s. Arguably the run of the night came in the Jullian Roberts Stakes when Similan Beach came flashing down the outside of the track to record his third win of the season. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere was last with 300 metres to travel and the only option driver Ricky Duggan has, was to peel eight-wide in the home straight and the Marc Butler-trained pacer was still able to pick up his rivals and score in a mile rate of 1m 57.7s for 1680-metres.   Duncan Dornauf