Day At The Track

There's history in the making at Menangle later this month when a father and son will do battle in the final of New South Wales Indigenous Drivers feature harness racing event, the J C Caffyn Plate. Scott Wade and his son Jack drove against each other in a heat of the Indigenous Drivers' Series at Young in September - the first time a father and son combination have done so in the Indigenous series. Scott, of Menangle, had bragging rights after winning the first of the two heats at Young (the second taken out by Mckayler Barnes), but Jack, of Cowra, secured his place in the final winning both of the series heats run at Tamworth last week. Cessnock horseman Danny Gibson won a heat conducted earlier this year at Albury. The Indigenous Series races at Young were, in fact, the first time Scott and Jack had driven against each other in any official race. "We were both in the same race at a regular meeting at Eugowra a while ago, but that got washed out," Jack said. And now the stage is set for a friendly family clash in the $15,000 J C Caffyn Plate final at Menangle on October 27 - and there's no shortage of rivalry! "I'd love to get the wood on dad and make it one win apiece against each other, but I suppose a lot will come down to the barrier draw etc," Jack said. "We won't know what horses we are on until a few days before because it's random selection." Jack is in red hot form, evidenced by his double in the series heats at Tamworth. "It was a big night, and everything went pretty good for me. I did get a bit of luck in driving two handy horses, both trained by Clayton Harmey, and they were short priced favorites," he said. Jack scored a runaway 17-metre win in the Keeping Place Stakes Indigenous Series Heat on Platinum Revolution (Changeover-Champagne Franco (Falcon Seelster) in a sub two minute mile rate. The second win was in the Len Waters Indigenous Driver's heat, with Corbaux (Art Major-Miss Precious Mach (Mach Three), a narrow winner at $1.45. The J C Caffyn Plate series began as a stand-alone invitation in 2011, but has progressed to a statewide heat series, with the much sought-after final at Club Menangle on the annual Fishers Ghost Day on the last Sunday in October. The series encompasses the history of Indigenous harness racing participants by honouring the deeds of legendary reinsman JC (Jim) Caffyn. The day not only has the best Indigenous drivers on display, but traditional culture is also a feature, with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country, followed by traditional dance and the national anthem performed in English and the local language of Dharawal. Jack, 27, a boilermaker and welder by trade, has been living in Cowra for the past seven months and it's the third time he's competed in the series. "Each time I've been lucky enough to win a heat, but have finished midfield in the finals," he said. "I've driven nine winners since getting my licence. They've been spread out a bit at tracks like Newcastle, Wagga, Tamworth and Parkes. "I help out a friend in Daryl Davis at Cowra who trains a team of about six." Scott trained gallopers for nearly 20 years, having his first starter on Christmas Eve, 1999. He had a few nice ones and finished with 150 winners. He also was kept busy breaking-in horses, having a reputation of being one of the best in the business. The father and son turned their interests to harness racing about four years ago. "Dad was first to get his trainer-driver licence and had his first winner in early 2015," Jack said. "I think we decided to make the change to harness racing after both getting pretty smashed up while doing the gallopers." Scott suffered severe facial and head injuries when putting a galloper on a jogging machine. "We don't know what happened. Dad can't remember. The horse could have swung around quickly or perhaps put the boots in. We'll never know, but he was in hospital for two weeks," Jack said. "I had a bad fall in trackwork. I ended up with my back broken in four places and two breaks in my neck. I guess we were both extremely lucky. "But we were travelling home one night and there was a Menangle trots meeting on with the whole place lit up. We sort of said how good would it be to be part of that action. "So, it just progressed from there. We paid $500 for a horse called Runaway Mate, which was very slow, but gave us a good grounding. "Dad has a 116-acre property at Menangle with nine in work and is really enjoying harness racing. "There's sure to be some cheek between us before the big final on October 27. But we are both really excited to have made it...and being part of creating history."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

PAUL Diebert is fast-becoming the giant-killer of Queensland harness. It was only a few months back he partnered veteran Ohoka Punter to a huge upset win over stablemate Colt Thirty One in the Group 1 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park. And he did the same, albeit on a different horse, at Albion Park last night (Saturday). This time it was Leos Best who jumped to the front, where Diebert dictated the terms, and scored as a $61 shot to beat Colt Thirty One, who was a $1.15 favourite at his first run from a spell. Leos Best did it easily, zipping home in 55.5 and 27.3sec to win by 4.8m in a 1min53.1sec mile rate for 1660m.  “It was good to get on the front end tonight with this horse, he did it well,” Diebert said.  There was nothing wrong with Colt Thirty One’s run on the clock and being first-up since winning that Blacks A Fake in late July.  Despite the shock of Colt Thirty One’s defeat, it was still a stable trifecta for Grant Dixon, who trains Leos Best and third-placed Fame Assured. ______________________________________________________________________________ IT wasn’t just Melton where the Craig Cross team stole the show over the weekend. Cross was also the dominant force at Menangle last night (Saturday) where the major win came with the improving Benicio in the Group 3 Kevin Newman Cup (1609m). Benicio didn’t win, he blew away a handy field, leading throughout to put 14.5m on his nearest rival in a slick 1min50.6sec mile. The seven-year-old former All Stars pacer has always shown promise, but gone to another level with his two impressive wins this campaign. With Luke McCarthy down at Melton, his brother Todd took the reins on Benicio, who ripped home in 53.8 and 26.7sec. Cross also won the mares’ feature, the McMillan Ladyship Stakes, with another former Kiwi and Queensland pacer in Our Millwood Maizie. The seven-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight did enough in a stirring three-way finish and post a 1min53.2sec mile. ______________________________________________________________________________ WE now officially know Tornado Valley won’t go to Auckland to defend his Inter Dominion crown. But Andy Gath’s superstar trotter looks set to have plenty of fun at home. Tornado Valley returned to winning form in the softest of fashion, leading throughout to win the free-for-all at Melton by 7.2m in a cosy 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2240m last night. It was a dawdle early before Kate Gath dashed home in 56 flat and 27.9sec to easily beat stablemate Everybody Knows with three-time Group 1 winner Big Jack Hammer closing well from the rear to grab third. The Gaths have set their other top trotter, McLovin, for the Auckland series. ______________________________________________________________________________ ANY remote hope of the gifted but injury-plagued The Storm Inside sneaking into the Victoria Cup field was dashed when he was beaten for just the second time at Melton last night. The former superstar juvenile, who’s had two long injury setbacks, ran a big race, but couldn’t overhaul leader Maestro Bellini in a restricted-class race, going down by a neck after sitting parked. It was just the second time in 14 starts The Storm Inside has been beaten. ______________________________________________________________________________ THINGS are conspiring against former buzz young pacer King Of Swing. Now known solely as a leader, Gary Hall Sr’s pacer finally drew to take that role from the pole in last Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 JP Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park. He was a commanding favourite. And then came the rain. So much rain, combined with very strong winds, the meeting was scrapped. The good news is the race will be rescheduled, but the bad news is the barriers may not be the same for King Of Swing. King Of Swing has managed just one win from his past 14 starts.   Adam Hamilton

Luke McCarthy will stick with driving comeback star Bling It On in the Victoria Cup despite the mesmerizing win of Cash N Flow at Melton last night (Saturday). Trainer Craig Cross will have three, maybe even four runners in the Group 2 Victoria Cup. Cash N Flow booked his spot in the feature with a career-best and totally dominant win in last night’s $50,000 Group 2 The former All Stars’ pacer, who has been with Cross for just over 14 months, was first-up from a break, but blasted out of gate two to work to the lead in a quick 6.7sec lead time and 27.8sec opening quarter. Despite running his first half in 55.2sec, Casn N Flow just kept rolling and booted away with a big lead rounding the final bend to win seemingly with something in reserve by nine metres. He ran the 1720m in a scorching 1min50.8sec, just 0.1sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record. “I wish I’d shaken him up, he’s have a broken the record for sure,” McCarthy said. “I had a look over at the board and realised too late we were going to go 1min50sec.” McCarthy explained Cash N Flow “has his niggles” and isn’t the easiest horse to train. “But he’s come back better than we’ve ever had him. We’ve been so happy with him at home. I was really confident tonight. I felt if he could lead and he’d win if he did,” he said. “He’s a great sprinter so the distance suits. He needed to go out and do something like for me us to run him in the Victoria Cup. He’s earned a crack now for sure. Cash N Flow will join Bling It On, recent Kiwi import Alta Orlando and possibly the improving Cruz as Cross’ Victoria Cup runners. “Those first three will get a run. We hope Cruz makes the cut as well after his good Kilmore Cup, but it’ll be touch and go I guess,” McCarthy said. Cruz’s latest run was a solid fifth in the Group 2 Kilmore Cup won by San Carlo last Thursday week. McCarthy said Bling It On deserved to be the stable top seed because of his history on big races, but quickly added Alta Orlando and Cash N Flow would be very competitive. “I just think getting out to the 2240m and rising in class, Bling It On is the best of ours. And of course I’ll be driving him. Todd (McCarthy) will get pick of the rest and will sort out whatever other drivers we need after the barrier draw,” he said. “Bling It On has come through that first-up win so well. We just couldn’t be any happier with him and it’ll make him fitter again for this race. “But Alta Orlando looks like he’s going to be a really nice horse for us. He’s coming along so well. I think he’s a great chance this week if he gets a good draw.” Cash N Flow’s win capped a big night at Melton for Cross and McCarthy, who took the emerging Wrangler and Cullenburn down from Sydney to win. “They were both well suited dropping back from free-for-all grade at Menangle to their own class at Melton and won well,” he said. “We’ll be doing more of that. You’ll see us popping down to Melton quite often given the sorts of horses we’ve got in the stable to avoid having to race against ourselves at Menangle.”   Adam Hamilton

Champion former Kiwi harness racing trainer-driver Anthony Butt and his partner Sonya Smith are looking forward enthusiastically to their next chapter in the industry. The pair this week took over the role of preparing a big team owned by passionate and big spending entrepreneur Emilio Rosati and his wife Mary, at Menangle, Sydney. Rosati is a driving force behind Form 700, one of Australia's leading construction companies. "It was an opportunity which really come out of the blue. But it was too good to pass up and we are so excited," Inter Dominion Hall of Famer Anthony Butt said. The door opened for Butt and Smith when renowned North American horseman Noel "Oz" Daley decided to return to the United States. Daley is an Australian and took up the private trainer role for the Rosatis in February after returning home. He's decided to head back to the US, but not without amassing an impressive strike rate in his short time at the helm, preparing 13 winners (three in the metro) and 28 placings from 67 starters for $128,000. Butt said after being approached by Rosati, they took time to think over the offer. "Sonya and I thought it over for two days, and in the end decided it was a wonderful opening. It was an absolute pleasure to be walking into a barn full of horses in such brilliant condition," Butt said. "Noel is a master at conditioning horses. His outstanding US record speaks for itself," he said. "We've started off with 20 horses, with another 10 to soon come in. The stock includes so many that are well bred and we just can't wait to get into them." Butt, since starting out as a 17 year old in 1983, has won close to every major race across Australasia - more than 2160 wins including well over 100 Group One successes. He and Smith had a four-year stint in Victoria after crossing the Tasman in 2014, then decided 12 months ago to move to Sydney where brother Tim was well set up at Menangle. "We had a team of eight in work so some of these have gone to Tim and a few others down to Melbourne," Butt said. "I've known Emilio for many years. He always travelled over to New Zealand when the sales were on. I had a successful run for him earlier this year when I drove three Group One winners for him over the Winter months. "We are keeping the same staff members that were here with Noel. So it was virtually a case of Noel going out and us coming in. "Working with big numbers of horses is nothing new for us because when I was with Tim he always loved having plenty about." The first runners for the Butt-Rosati combination will appear at Menangle next Tuesday in the form of Moonshine Stride, Crystal Stride, Typhoon Stride, Always A Stride and Kiwi Stride. In the late 1970s, one of the first horses to be owned by Emilio and Mary was a more than useful pacer in Stride High. He had leg issues but still managed 11 or 12 wins under their ownership. It's a result of this that the couple apply the "Stride" suffix to their horses' names.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Volstead’s American owner Dean Miller is offering a very generous first season rebate of $1500 to Down Under Breeders. Mr Miller said that being Volstead’s very first season standing Down Under in the flesh, he was very keen to see that his international champion served a solid book of mares with Fresh Semen. Thanks to Dean’s generosity Down Under  breeders will pay the following for Volstead for this year’s breeding season.                                                                                                                          Australia         New Zealand Advertised Price (Pay by Mar 30)      5000                      5000  First season Rebate                         -1500                     -1500     Rebate  price (exc GST)                    3500                      3500 New Price (GST incl)                      $3850                    $4025   Victorian Square Trotters Association Members and New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Membership discounts still apply. Rebate price                                      3500                     3500 VSTA/NZB (10%)                               -350                      -350       Discount price                                    3150                     3150 GST                                                    10%                      15% VSTA/NZB Price                              $3465                    $3622.50   Multi mare discounts still apply based on 3 or more in-foal mares and would be the following: Reobate price                                   3500                     3500 MM Discount 20%                             -700                      -700       Discount Price                                  2800                     2800 GST                                                  10%                      15% Multi Mare Price                            $3080                     $3220 A Group 1 winner, Volstead, is a 1.51.5 US-bred son of leading sire of sires Cantab Hall, who is standing at Haras des Trotteurs, in Cardigan, Victoria. Volstead and Johnny Takter Volstead seen here winning The Sweden Cup

STAR South Australian reinswoman Danielle Hill has no qualms with border-hopping across to the renowned Victorian grape-growing city of Mildura. "It's a bit over four hours each way to do the trip - but if we can keep getting results, it's all good," Dani said. The pint-sized harness racing driver has recorded six wins and several placings at the three meetings conducted so far this season at the far north-west Victorian club. At Wednesday night's fixture, Dani was successful on three South Australian-trained pacers along with a local horse. The visiting contingent included More Than A Legend (prepared by Robin Maguire), Oohlala Lady (Jill Neilson) and Graffiti Lombo (Lars Ahlfors). Her other winner was Euston Flyer, trained at Mildura by Andrew Vozlic. In addition, Dani's drive on Oohlala Lady was judged as the "drive of the night." Dani's brother Wayne Hill has been a regular face at Mildura for several years and had a sensational 2018-19 season, culminating in taking out the leading driver trophy. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IT was a case of history repeating itself last Friday and Saturday - fortuitously for gun Shepparton horsewoman Laura Crossland and her beloved Richmond Tigers. The Tigers' number one fan in Shepparton forms a formidable team with partner David Moran and was lucky enough to get a ticket to go to the AFL Grand Final last Saturday afternoon. It proved a memorable couple of days for Crossland who scored a training treble and driving double the previous night at Shepparton. Through a strange coincidence, it wasn't the first time she'd enjoyed the same run of luck. "I had three winners at our home track the night before the 2017 grand final which of course was the last flag the Tigers won," she said. "To have the same thing happen this year was a pretty big coincidence, but a good one! The Tigers were just awesome!" Laura Crossland                                                           --photo courtesy Cobram HRC Crossland is still crowing about the demolition job on the Giants and will be for a while yet - guaranteed! "We'll have to wait and see if it happens again next year. The Tigers will be there again, so the pressure will be all ours to get a treble!" Star 4yo pacer Lochinvar Art (Modern Art-Ponder In Paris (Ponder), prepared by the couple, is back in work after a month off. "He will have a few weeks on a water walker and then back home and into it," Crossland said. Lochinvar Art, owned by Sydney enthusiast Kevin Gordon, has had a magnificent career to date with 12 wins, 15 placings from 28 starts for over $310,000 in stakes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Another promising South Australian youngster by emerging sire Auckland Reactor has kicked off his three-year-old season with an impressive win. Juddy Douglas (Auckland Reactor-Markeaton Navi (Falcon Seelster USA), prepared by Globe Derby stalwart Bronte Giorgio was confidently backed to win the SA Brewing Company Pace at headquarters on Saturday night and got the job done in competent fashion. Juddy Douglas (from barrier five) was left in the "breeze" when quick beginners Haveachew and Samalise cleared out by 20 metres after the start. But reinsman Jayden Brewin showed a cool head on the favorite and moved steadily up to the leading bunch with a lap to go, before putting the foot on the accelerator in the straight to win by five metres. Young reinsman Jayden Brewin cruises to the line with Juddy Douglas Juddy Douglas has stamped himself as a more than capable juvenile, with all of his three wins (from six starts) in the "death seat". He was first up from a spell on Saturday night against the older horses, rating 2:00.8 for the 1800 metres (31.7, 31.7, 29.7, 29.4). He is a half-brother to the handy Oscars Glory (Village Jolt CA) (winner of 13 races) and the consistent Renesmae (Christian Cullen NZ) (winner of four from 22 starts).   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Darby McGuigan has sights set on scoring a career-best triumph in the sulky when he teams up with one of four Emma Stewart-trained horses in Saturday night's TAB Smoken Up Sprint at Tabcorp Park Melton. The young driver has scored wins in Group 3 features before, but would rate success in the weekend's Group 2 contest at the top of the pile. He will partner Phoenix Prince, which has drawn barrier six in the field of 11. McGuigan won his first three drives behind the son of Somebeachsomewhere before finishing sixth in the Always B Miki Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers Free For All and 10th in the Jet Roofing 2019 Kilmore Pacing Cup at his most recent outings. Those assignments were at Group 2 level and Phoenix Prince was beaten less than 10m on both occasions. "It's going to be tough enough because we are drawn six," McGuigan said of Saturday night's race. "There's a bit of speed inside us but he is a very good miler and if they go crazy I think there's every chance he will be hitting the line strong." McGuigan said Phoenix Prince was one of the first Stewart-trained horses he drove and an early victory has helped foster a partnership with the state's leading stable. "You can drive bad horses as good as you want, but if they're not the best horse in the race they are going to struggle to win," McGuigan said. "They've always got their horses spot on and ready to win, so it is a big help towards the result." Stewart also has Code Black (Greg Sugars), Born To Rocknroll (David Moran) and Shadow Sax (Chris Alford) accepted for the TAB Smoken Up Sprint. In what looks an open feature, David Aiken's Wrappers Delight and Shadow Sax are the main threats according to McGuigan, while Kima Frenning's country cup star Buster Brady and Craig Cross' Cash N Flow must certainly be respected in the $50,000 event. McGuigan has a book of six drives at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night and rates Stewart's Maraetai as his best chance of the evening in the Swift Signs Pace.   Tim O'Connor HRV Trots Media  

"Exactly thirty years to the day (2 October 1989) that life-long Bankstown local Les Bentley formally joined the Bankstown Harness Racing and Agricultural Society as a member, a grateful and tearful crowd of hundreds of Bankstown Paceway members, racing industry enthusiasts, family and friends packed out Condell Park's Phil Lopez OBE Grandstand to mourn a man whose dedication and service to industry and community are without parallel," incoming Bankstown Paceway president David Rosen has said. "A passionate punter and race horse owner, Bankstown Paceway's longest ever serving president joined the Society's committee in 2002, and, following a stint as Treasurer, was elected President of the Society in 2003 - the office he would hold up until his sad passing on Friday, September 20th. He was 71," Mr Rosen told Harnesslink. "It is impossible to describe in words the enormity of the legacy of Les' sixteen years as Bankstown Paceway president - not to mention his past service as Harness Racing Clubs Committee chairman and a Harness Racing NSW board member - and his abundance of achievements for our industry and the local community are simply too numerous to list," Mr Rosen said. "Bankstown Paceway was Les Bentley's magnum opus. He lived, breathed and slept with Bankstown Paceway in mind. He contributed all of his efforts, energies and endeavours to our race club and we are in the position in which we are today as the undeniable result of his own blood, toil, tears and sweat," he said. "Despite being diagnosed with a serious illness earlier in the year, Les continued to carry out his duties with the same dedication and zeal that he had for the previous sixteen years. "Les is survived by his partner, Sue, who was never far from his side at our race track, his children, Shane, Chad, Troy, Glenn and Tana, their partners and his beloved grandchildren and great grandchild, to whom Bankstown Paceway and all of our members extend their heartfelt sympathy. "In due course, the Bankstown Paceway committee will meet to consider options for a fitting and permanent memorial tribute to recognise and acknowledge Les' long lasting contribution to the Canterbury Bankstown community, our Society and members, the harness racing industry, and each and every one of the people that he touched in his lifetime with his generosity of spirit," Mr Rosen added.   Megan J. Lavender

The Ray Williams-trained Walkinshaw is all the rage at Gloucester Park this Friday night with several members of the WA Trotting Media Guild labelling him a good thing. Longshot guru Pat Harding, The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and TABradio racecaller Hayden King are all fans of the seven-year-old horse. “My best bet comes up in race seven,” Harding said. “Walkinshaw ran a gallant race last week and just got beaten. This week he comes out of barrier one I think he can return to winning form.” Manning agrees. “Walkinshaw will appreciate a pole draw after facing the breeze when he ran a courageous second behind Argyle Red last Friday night,” Manning said. “The horse notched his seventh Gloucester Park win when successful last month and he looks a profitable investment in good class races leading up to the summer carnival.” King makes it three for Walkinshaw. “It should be a walk in the park for Walkinshaw,” King said. “He looks set to receive an uncontested lead throughout and should be far too good for them.” TABradio’s Matt Young, the winner of the last two Guild tipping competitions, has made Hit It Rich his best for the evening. “Hit It Rich can roll forward in an even mares event and outstay this field,” Young said. “She has been racing in stronger fields and the drop back in class should see her return to the winners’ circle.” However, on-course announcer and runner-up to Young in last season’s best tipster clash  Ken Casellas believes Dancing With Mach can upstage Hit It Rich. “Dancing With Mach is a lightly-raced WA-bred five-year-old and the best is yet to come,” Casellas said. “After watching her effortless victory on Tuesday of last week I am nominating her as my best bet this Friday night when she will start from the outside of the back line in race six. She led over the 2536m journey and dashed over the final 800m in 56.5sec. at her most recent outing. She is capable of making her own luck and has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of her awkward draw in this week’s 2130m event.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft hopes newcomer Bill Haley strikes the right chord at his GP debut. “Bill Haley spent a short but successful stint in Queensland to record four wins in six tries after leaving New Zealand,” Havercroft said. “The son of Rocknroll Heaven looks to have early zip and from gate one he should top the charts at his local debut.” Guild president Wayne Currall is sure the enigmatic King Of Swing will lead his rivals a merry dance in the $50,000 JP Stratton Cup. “I believe the rock ‘n’ roll theme can continue in the feature race,” Currall said. “King Of Swing loves to lead and is drawn to do exactly that ... he can call the tune from the pole and will dictate the pace. Whatever beats him wins.” VALUE BETS PAT: My value bet comes up in race five with No. 4 Our Corelli. He has been racing very consistently and I think he will give this race a big shake. ERNIE: Hammers Law, a Pinjarra winner twice since arriving from Victoria last summer, is due to open his Gloucester Park account. He should be close to his best when racing third-up after a break. HAYDEN: The hype horse Bill Haley will be all the rage, but Saleahs Comand should zoom across from the outside and lead. He can claim the scalp of another cups hopeful here. MATT: Maximum Demand is a talented sit/sprinter and just needs luck here to play a pivotal part in the first. KEN: For value, I suggest Midnight Man in race three. The Josh Dunn-trained six-year-old caught the eye at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he flooded home from the rear to finish a well-beaten third behind Maras Ace Man. He is capable of improving on that effort. RYAN: Spud has been impressive at his two starts in WA and may still have improvement in him. He meets the State’s best trotter in Lord Liam, who will be well favoured in the market. WAYNE: Carrera Mach will get out to a silly price in the sprint. However, he looks a sound each-way chance, especially if the pace goes on during the early stages. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall

Outstanding concession driver Maddison Brown has formed a strong and successful association with four-year-old pacer Highly Flammable and ten-year-old trotter Lord Liam and she has high hopes of landing a double with them in the first and final events at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I’ve got the horses to do that,” she said after guiding Highly Flammable to a decisive three-length victory over Mondooley Mach over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday afternoon. “Hopefully, Highly Flammable can repeat what he’s done tonight, and that’s to get to the front and set the pace. He hasn’t been showing great gate speed, but tonight I just revved him up a bit more in the preliminary and he came out really good. He can switch off, with the hood, but when I got up him, he ran away from them.” Highly Flammable was not extended and impressed with the ease in which he dashed over the final three quarters in 29.8sec., 28.9sec. and 28.5sec. to win at a 1.58.4 rate. That followed a win and a close second at his two previous starts getting to the lead early from barrier six and winning by four lengths from Northview Orator over 2536m and then racing wide early and in the breeze before finishing a half-neck second to My Master of Disguise at a 1.56.6 rate over 1730m. Brown has driven Highly Flammable at his past nine starts for three wins, three seconds, one third and two fourths and trainer Gary Hall Snr said: “He’s getting better with every run. He had a leg injury and we had to turn him out when he got big in condition. It has taken a long time to get him fully fit.” Hardest for Highly Flammable to beat is likely to be the John Oldroyd-trained Lightning Jolt, who will be driven by Chris Voak from barrier four. The seven-year-old has a losing sequence of ten, but his recent efforts, including a last-start fourth behind Bletchley Park, have been quite encouraging. Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop has Lord Liam, a veteran of 89 starts for 29 wins and  29 placings, in superb form, with Brown guiding him to impressive wins at each of his past six starts for a combined winning margin of 49.7m, an average winning margin of 8.2m. Lord Liam set the pace from barrier five when an easy winner from Diamond Geezer over 2100m at Bunbury at his most recent outing, five weeks ago. “Bob has given him a freshen-up and the horse has the gate speed if you need to use it. I’ll see what Bob wants to do from the draw (barrier eight) in the 2536m race. Spud has drawn inside us, and he looks the main danger.” Spud, a seasoned veteran of 133 starts for 17 wins and 36 placings, has flourished under the care of trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice and has won in fine style at his first two starts in Western Australia. He raced without cover before beating Diamond Geezer in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra at his latest appearance and before that he finished strongly to beat Lifes Delight in a 2096m stand at Gloucester Park. Hall Snr is hoping for strong efforts from Robb Stark and Overboard Again, who will be resuming after spells on Friday night. Five-year-old Robb Stark, resuming after a two-and-a half-month absence, is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven in the Retravision Pace in which stablemate The Arsonist has drawn perfectly at barrier one and impressive last-start winner Our Perkins will be strongly fancied from the No. 2 draw. “The barrier draw is against Robb Stark, but he’s still a chance,” said Hall. “He’s had a few little problems, including an infection in his lungs. But we’ve cleared all that up. He’s working well and he should be in the mix, even from barrier seven.” Seven-year-old Overboard Again will be having his first start since April when he begins out wide at barrier eight in the Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace over 2536m.A winner at 12 of his 41 starts, Overboard Again has not appeared since he finished a good second to stablemate Herrick Roosevelt over 2130m at Gloucester Park on April 26. “If he had drawn a favourable barrier, he probably would’ve won,” said Hall. “But from out there, he will need some luck.”   Ken Casellas

Enigmatic five-year-old King of Swing has won only once from his past 14 starts, but he looks the winner of the $50,000 J. P. Stratton Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. The wonderful combination of Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr and his son, Hall of Fame reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, have won the Stratton Cup with Bengeeman (2002), Alzona (2011), Waylade (2015) and Chicago Bull (2018) and King of Swing has the class to add to their successes in this Group 2 feature event. “Leading has been his forte,” said Hall Snr. “He’s quick out and should be able to lead and take beating. He raced in the breeze in the 2536m Media Guild Cup last week and didn’t throw in the towel when third behind Waylade and The Bucket List.” King of Swing also worked hard without cover when he won the WA Derby by a head from Bechers Brook in April 2018, but most of his 18 wins from 44 starts have been when he has set the pace. His most recent success was seven starts ago when he led from barrier two and ran a smart lead time of 36.4sec. His previous successes were when he led and beat Saying Grace by eight lengths at a 1.56.3 rate over 2536m, with a final quarter of 26.8sec., and when he rated 1.54.5 in an easy win over 2130m. “In his third most recent win he held out a strong early challenge from Thereugo and ran a lead time of 34.7sec.,” Hall said. “So, he should be able to lead this week and I believe he will go close.” The Hall stable also will be represented in this week’s Stratton Cup by Speed Man (Stuart McDonald) and Mad Robber (Maddison Brown). Speed Man is handily drawn at barrier two on the back line and is capable of figuring in the finish, but nine-year-old Mad Robber faces a stern task from barrier six and will be at liberal odds. Hall of Fame reinsman Chris Lewis is seeking his eighth win in a Stratton Cup, after victories with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1985, 1988 and 1991), Ohoka Ace (2005), Sneakyn Down Under (2009) and Sensational Gabby (2014). He will handle five-year-old Our Corelli, who is prepared by his wife Debra and will start from the No. 4 barrier. Our Corelli possesses excellent gate speed and is also versatile and capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst. He surged home from sixth at the bell to gain a last-stride victory over El Jacko in the 2130m Navy Cup last Friday week. That was his eighth win from his past 12 starts. The Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier will start from barrier No. 5 with Chris Voak in the sulky. Olivieri, who has won the Stratton Cup with Just Packapunch (1993) and Sensational Gabby, said that the New Zealand-bred Motu Premier was ready for a strong showing at his third start after a 12-month absence. “Motu Premier has finished fifth at each of his two runs in this preparation and he’s come through those runs really well,” Olivieri said. “They have been very soft runs and he should be getting somewhere near his best form.” Ten-year-old The Bucket List is racing with youthful enthusiasm and his trainer Michael Brennan is hoping that the race will be run at a strong tempo. The Bucket List, who will be handled by Michael Grantham, impressed in last week’s Media Guild Cup when he raced in sixth position and was eighth and last at the 400m mark before switching five wide on the home turn and flying home to finish second to the pacemaker Waylade. “He probably had no right at all to run second,” said an admiring Brennan. “The key to his prospects will be if there are some strong challenges for the lead and the pace is on. We’re relying heavily on tempo in this race. At the top end there’s going to be some quality horses who can run serious sectionals. “If the race is run up-tempo, The Bucket List can definitely win. You saw last week that he’s got an electrifying turn of foot, and he’s very strong as well. But, unfortunately, he’s a one-trick pony and you’ve got to drive him that way (as a sit-sprinter). I think he now races just as well as he did as a younger horse.” The Bucket List raced in the breeze for much of the way when a fading fifth behind Chicago Bull in last year’s Stratton Cup. He sat behind the pacemaker Libertybelle Midfrew when second to that mare in the 2016 Stratton Cup. Brennan has fond memories of the 2013 Stratton Cup when he prepared star pacer Im Victorious for his three-length victory over Ima Rocket Star. Ima Rocket Star was trained by Greg and Skye Bond, who will be represented in this week’s Cup by El Jacko and Our Jimmy Johnstone. El Jacko is a brilliant pacer who has won 21 times from 59 starts and has been placed at each of his past three starts. He will start out wide at barrier eight with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. He is capable of producing a powerful finish and fully testing King of Swing. Simba Bromac (barrier two) and Waylade (three) are racing keenly and should be prominent. Simba Bromac trailed the pacemaker Waylade and was hopelessly blocked for a run when an unlucky fourth to that pacer last week. Kyle Harper, who drives Waylade for trainer Caris Hamilton-Smith, said that the nine-year-old faced a tougher task this week from the No. 3 barrier than he did when he led from barrier one in last week’s Media Guild Cup.   Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis was born in 1955, the year that famous American rocknroll singer and songwriter Bill Haley topped the charts with Rock Around The Clock. Bill Haley, in the form of five-year-old New Zealand-bred pacer by Rock N Roll Heaven, is sure to have punters singing his praises at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he makes his West Australian debut in the Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2130m. Prepared at Hopeland by Lewis’s wife Debra, Bill Haley will start from barrier No. 1 and Lewis should take advantage of the draw by leading all the way with the gelding and beating his chief rival Major Pocket. Bill Haley has been purchased by Debra and Chris Lewis’s son Mark, Luke Montgomery, Nathan Morrone, Julie Champion, Paul Webster and Victorian harness racing personality Cameron Lee. He is lightly raced, having had 32 starts in New Zealand for four wins and five placings and six starts in Queensland for four wins. He is renowned for his blistering finishing bursts but is also a speedy beginner and highly capable frontrunner. He led from barrier three four starts ago when he won a 2040m event by ten lengths at a 1.58.5 rate at Redcliffe. Bill Haley was most impressive in unwinding dazzling late bursts to win a $31,600 Four-Year-Old Championship over 2138m at Albion Park and a 2280m $25,500 feature event at Redcliffe at his two most recent outings in late July. Two starts ago, he was a 14/1 chance when he raced three wide for the first 300m and then in the breeze for a while before settling in sixth position in the one-wide line. He was sixth with 350m to travel and went five wide on the home turn for reinsman Mark Purdon and flew home to get up and win by a head at a 1.54.5 rate with the final three quarters run in 28.4sec., 28.3sec. and 27.3sec. Six days later at Redcliffe Bill Haley, a 22/1 outsider driven by Kylie Rasmussen, unleashed a devastating burst from sixth at the 400m to get up and win by a half-length from the pacemaker Our Uncle Sam. Bill Haley is out of Presidential Ball mare Elite Belle, who raced 73 times for 11 wins, 15 placings and $102,927 in prizemoney. Elite Belle’s half-sister Five Card Draw has had 163 starts for 31 wins, 49 placings and stakes of $647,224. Her 17 wins in Queensland before going to America in 2016 included the Group 3 Four-Year-Old Championship at Albion Park in July 2014 and the Group 3 Redcliffe Cup in July 2016.   Ken Casellas

An exciting pacer trained in a small hamlet on Victoria's picturesque coastline is building a huge reputation. Five-year-old bay horse Lumineer (Sportswriter USA-Birds Can Sing (Rocknroll Hanover USA) posted his 11th win from a career of just 12 starts at the Terang meeting on Tuesday night - and he did it in style, equalling the track record. "He has heaps of ability, but probably his main asset is his unbelievable will to win. That's something that you can't preach or teach them," trainer Ange McDowall said. "As a young horse he was always quick at learning and kept improving all the time," she said. McDowall, who has been training for 15 years, prepares a small team on a dairy farm owned by her parents Brian and Louise at Childers Cove, just off the Great Ocean Road, 25 kms from Warrnambool. Childers Cove sits at the western end of one of the most iconic natural formations in the world, the stunning 12 Apostles - magnificent rock stacks formed by erosion, rising up from the Southern Ocean. "I'm usually up by 4.45am because we've got 520 dairy cows on the property," she said. "There's six of us girls in the family, so there's pretty much a lot of teamwork happening. "While a younger sister in Clare and I work in the dairy, mum and another sister Theresa make a start with the horse stable duties. The system does work very well. "My other siblings in Josephine, Julie and Rosie have other jobs, but they always try and make it to the meetings to cheer on the horses." The Terang win was Lumineer's third success since resuming after a 19-month break. At his latest win, reinsman Jason Lee drifted back after the start and was able to lob into the one-one box seat. The early pace was a cracker with leader Myzarmi (Lisa Miles) copping pressure from Pin Stripes (Darby McGuigan). The lead time was the quickest of the night. Despite later sitting parked on Lumineer, Lee allowed the pacer to stretch out heading into the home turn and they careered away to another super victory in a tick over 1.56. Lumineer, raced by the McDowall family BLG racing group, was spelled after running sixth in the Victoria Derby Final at Melton in January, 2018. "There was nothing major. An abscess broke out in a back heel and we virtually had to wait until it had grown back again. He also had a few bad muscle tears," she said. "It's hard to back off sometimes when you see a red light. But that's best in the long run, I think. He had plenty of time off and now he's repaying us. "Lumineer and the three or four others that we have in work spend a fair bit of time at the beach. We get there early as we have to be off the beach by 10am." The McDowall property was used many years ago by Ange's grandfather Wattie McDowall who was an astute trainer back in the days of the Melbourne Showgrounds. Many of the horses raced by the late Wattie carried the "Glenfern" prefix. "It's nice to think that we now train out of the same farm," McDowall said. And while Lumineer is well on the way to establishing himself as a star of the future, his trainer understandably still thinks about the one they lost. "Hellbewright was a Jeremes Jet-sired colt that we had for four starts in early 2015. He won two of these and finished second in another. He was so rock hard, weighed 570kgs and was a beautiful horse," McDowall said. "Sadly, he had a lot of health issues and while he was on a course of treatment, we lost him." But for now, the hard-working McDowall team has to map out a program for their latest speedster in Lumineer. "We'll probably just keep him running around in the country for a while. We'll pick out some suitable races and go from there," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Local hopes Spankem and Sundees Son have topped New Zealand's ID19 rankings, with Cruz Bromac (five) and Big Jack Hammer (two) ranked Victoria's best hopes in today's first release. All Stars entrant Spankem, who ran fourth in Melbourne's December pacing TAB Inter Dominion final after winning two of his heats, has only added to his reputation with victories in the Miracle Mile and a further two Group 1 victories at Auckland this season. Of the Australian raiders, Queenslander Colt Thirty One has been ranked second in large part for his Blacks A Fake victory, with New South Wales' entrant Our Uncle Sam - who placed second in the ID18 final, won the Bohemia Crystal and was second in the Len Smith Mile - ranked fourth. Cruz Bromac heads the Victorians with Kilmore Cup winner San Carlo ranked ninth, Trots Country Cups champ Buster Brady 11th, Wrappers Delight 17th, Cant Refuse 22nd and Craig Demmler's pair My Kiwi Mate (31) and Somebeachshadow (33) also within a likely cut-off at 36, as is Audi Hare (34). Of the trotters, Big Jack Hammer's triple crown in February and March of winning Group 1s the V. L. Dullard Cup, Aquagait Mile and Australian Trotting Grand Prix was reflected in his second-placed ranking, behind only Robert Dunn's Sundees Son, who's won his past five starts including three Group 1s. New South Wales entrant Tough Monarch (5) and Victorians McLovin (8) and Kyvalley Blur (9) were also in the trotting top 10, while Save Our Pennys (21) is the only other Vic nominee listed within the 24-horse cut-off at this stage. IRT Inter Dominion Rankings - Pacers Spankem 1 Colt Thirty One 2 Thefixer 3 Our Uncle Sam 4 Cruz Bromac 5 Chase Auckland 6 A G’ White Socks 7 Ashley Locaz 8 San Carlo 9 Ellmers Image 10 Buster Bady 11 Star Galleria 12 Ultimate Sniper 13 Henry Hubert 14 Classie Brigade 15 Bling It On 16 Wrappers Delight 17 Ignatius 18 Sicario 19 Courtsinsession 20 On The Cards 21 Can’t Refuse 22 Conviction 23 Triple Eight 24 Harjeet 25 Mach Shard 26 Sheriff 27 Self Assured 28 Atomic Red 29 Joes Star Of Mia 30 My Kiwi Mate 31 Nandolo 32 Somebeachshadow 33 Audi Hare 34 Gran Chico 35 Check In 36 Solid Gold 37 Another Masterpiece 38 Fame Assured 39 Dance Time 40 Tennyson Bromac 41 The Devils Own 42 Bettorstartdreaming 43 Jack Farthing 44 The Bus 45 Millwood Maizie 46 Crime Writer 47 Smokin By 48 Sagwitch 49 A Bettor Act 50 Franco Landry 51 The Moonshadow 52 Revolver 53 Ball Of Art 54 Be Mine Tonight 55 IRT Inter Dominion Rankings - Trotters Sundees Son 1 Big Jack Hammer 2 Marcoola 3 Massive Metro 4 Tough Monarch 5 Lemond 6 Majestic Man 7 McLovin 8 Kyvalley Blur 9 Temporale 10 Habibi Inta 11 Great Things Happen 12 Monbet 13 Lily Stride 14 Amaretto Sun 15 Destiny Jones 16 Woodstone 17 Le Lievre's Gift 18 Winterfell 19 Harriet Of Mot 20 Save Our Pennys 21 Monty Python 22 Bordeaux 23 Enghien 24 Ronald J 25 Valloria 26 Pres The Belle 27 Maori Law 28 C K Spur 29 Sertorius 30 Credit Master 31 The Dominator 32 Bonnie Highlander 33 Hey Yo 34 Dark Horse 35 Oscar Bonavena 36 Sassy Pants 37 Tickle Me Pink 38 Didjabringthebeers 39 Ruthless Kayla 40 Kenny's Dream 41 Theodosia 42 Luby Lou 43 Fratellino 44 Heavyweight Hero 45 Forget The Price Tag 46 Majestic Hurricane 47 Matua Tana 48 Sundons Wish 49 War Machine 50 Sunny Glenis 51 BD Love 52 Gershwin 53 Paramount King 54 King Cassidy 55 Valmagne 56 Galleons Victory 57 The Hulk 58 Mr Good And Evil 59 Lovey Dovey Moment 60 Westy Boyz 61 Zsa Zoe 62 Lone Star Lad 63 Phoebe Imperial 64 Charlemagne 65 Sugar Cane 66   HRV Trots Media

Haras des Trotteurs new resident sire Volstead is off to a flying start with the first three harness racing mares that he served all getting in foal on first insemination. And fitting for an international group winner, his first consorts also included an international mare and a group winner, in French mare Dream Island and Group winner Arboe. The other mare Ornee is an unraced daughter of Ready Cash, and the trio are among a dozen of Yabby Dam Farms best mares who will visit his court this breeding season. Volstead, a 1.51.5 son of Cantab Hall, is available throughout Australia and New Zealand in fresh semen form. Volstead is the first son of Cantab Hall to be available as a fresh semen option in the Southern Hemisphere. Cantab Hall has become an outstanding sire of sires with his outstanding son Father Patrick making a huge impression this year as sire of the top rated three-year-old, Greenshoe who trotted in sub 1:50 this last week at the Red Mile and became a millionaire in the process. A full-brother to Greenshoe sold today at Lexington for US$1,100,000 the first ever standardbred yearling to make over $1 million at Auction. An outstanding competitor in Sweden’s elite gold division Volstead raced out of the top Swedish barn of Stefan Melander and won 5.87M SEK from 23 of his 72 race starts including the Group 1 King’s Cup and the prestigious Sweden Cup, or Little Elitlopp, in 2017.

A breathtakingly even field will collide for the right to be a Smoken Up Sprint champion, throwing up scenarios that have trainer David Aiken among the many “really looking forward” to the Group 2 dash. The preparer of three of the past four winners of the sprint – Lennytheshark in 2015 and 2017 and Wrappers Delight (pictured) last year – Aiken’s well positioned to add a fourth in only the sixth staging of the race, but admitted to being intrigued to the many tactical ramifications. In particular, the question who will lead? While Aiken has reigning champ Wrappers Delight drawn in gate one and lightning beginner Audi Hare in gate four he said there was no easy answer, but added reinsman James Herbertson and Audi Hare would be advantaged by their mid-row draw. “The middle is probably the best barrier at Melton at that distance,” Aiken said. “Wrappers Delight is pretty quick out, but it depends on how it plays out. We probably have our best chance with Wrappers Delight, but Audi Hare will be doing his best to cross him.” He said “the barriers couldn’t have worked out better” for the stable, and some form analysts were confident Aiken’s runners would be leader and leader’s back in the early stages. Among that number is Good Form’s Jason Bonnington. "The quandary for punters here is that there are perhaps four different conceivable speed map scenarios and each one has the potential to badly mitigate and significantly elevate the winning chances of several runners,” Bonnington said. "The fact is Audi Hare has Coastal-like gate speed, he's the fastest horse off the arm in Victoria and as a specialist miler and last start winner I'm favouring the concept that he will lead and hold. "What happens after that from a pressure perspective probably relies largely upon Born To Rocknroll, but if Audi Hare does lead I think they'll run a freakishly fast mile with several horses rolling up to occupy the breeze and fireworks throughout." So, Aiky, if Audi Hare leads what’s next? Let’s start with can Wrappers Delight follow his stablemate out and retake the lead? “A horse like Phoenix Prince is very quick out, it will probably cover up the outside,” Aiken said. “Cant Refuse comes out quickly. I don’t know about retaking.” So it’s not completely off the table, but at least very unlikely. Which begs, if Audi Hare leads, does he hold the front? “If it was 2200 metres Audi Hare would be handing up, but he is good over 1700. If he leads he will definitely hold them.” So, in that case, Herbertson would attempt to hold the front for as long as possible, with Wrappers Delight – whose driver is yet to be finalised – to be leader’s back hoping his stablemate can take him to the sprint lane. “(Wrappers Delight) likes the distance, especially if he doesn’t have to do a lot of work,” Aiken said, adding he expected “a pretty quick mile, at least the (one minute) 52 mark”. One horse who may ensure that pace is Buster Brady, trained at Aiken’s stable by Kima Frenning. A prodigious talent, Buster Brady may have lost a few fans after another “weird” run in last Saturday’s Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup, when he again lost momentum about 800m from home before crashing the line late, having eased to $6.50 with TAB.com.au for Saturday night’s Smoken Up Sprint after opening at $5.50. “It’s frustrating,” Aiken said of Buster Brady’s fade-outs. “He seems to be better leading, when he’s back in the field he seems to drop off at the wrong time of the race and then pick up again. “I’ve never seen a horse do what he does and then remake the ground. He doesn’t do it when he’s on top, it’s weird what he does.” Aiken has an enormous opinion of Buster Brady, particularly when he leads. “I think he’s the best horse in Victoria, he’s the best horse here (at my stable).” So what role will he play Saturday night? Aiken said he was a candidate for an early move to the breeze “unless there was super pace on”. All will be answered from 9pm on Saturday night.   Michael Howard HRV Trots Media