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One of New Zealand’s best pacers Turn It Up is heading to Queensland to try and resurrect his career. The former Auckland Cup winner and three-time Group 1 victor headlines one of three horses the huge All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are sending to Queensland next week. The others are outstanding three-year-old One Change and the emerging Dina Bolt. “There’s three going this week, but we’re considering sending another couple as well,” Purdon said. Turn It Up and One Change, last season’s NZ 2YO of the Year, will join Vicki Rasmussen’s stable. Dina Bolt, a three-year-old with three wins from just nine starts, will continue his career with Darren Weeks and his partner, Kylie Rasmussen. One Change, who boasts eight wins from just 14 starts and $519,542 in earnings, will return a spell and add plenty of class to next Saturday night’s South-East Derby at Albion Park. “He’s a lovely horse, but would’ve had to race the best open-class horses if he stayed here, so Queensland is a great option for him,” Natalie Rasmussen said. One Change’s nine runs this have netted three wins, including the Group 1 NZ Sires Stake final, and six placings. He hasn’t raced since a third in the Group 2 Flying Stakes in Christchurch on March 20. Turn It Up was NZ’s most exciting pacer last season, but persistent feet issues have sidelined him since winning the Group 1 Harness Jewels final in Christchurch on June 1, last year. “It’s a real shame with him, but hopefully Vicki can get him back,” Purdon said. “There’s no guarantee, but she wants to have a go with him and swim him in the hope she can get him back to what he was.” Turn It Up, still only a five-year-old, has raced just 15 times for 11 wins and four seconds. Purdon expects Dina Bolt to thrive in Queensland. “He’s lightly-raced and a real up-and-comer. He’s come back well this time and goes across in great order,” he said.   Adam Hamilton | TAB Media

YOU can expect to see plenty of Australasia’s most exciting pacer Ride High in coming months. Trainer Clayton Tonkin has a busy schedule planned and it’s all about gaining him experience and ringcraft ahead of the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10. Such is the hype around Ride High, he is already $3 prepost favourite with the Aussie TAB for what shapes as a hot Victoria Cup. The five-year-old will chase his third successive win on the comeback trail at Ballarat next Saturday night and victory would take his record to 13 wins from just 14 starts. “As good as he is, you don’t want to take a horse into a Victoria Cup at his 16th start or something like that,” Tonkin said. “It’s crazy to think where’s got to so quickly, but he needs more experience and that’s the plan with the time we have.” Tonkin was planning a surprise Menangle raid to “change-up” Ride High’s preparation, but that’s been thwarted by Victoria’s latest COVID issues.  “We were keen on that, something different. The trip away would’ve been good for him, but also racing at a different track, a different type of racing and new horses,” Tonkin said. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do that for a while, so we’ll just race him every second week down here.” Thankfully, Harness Racing Victoria’s latest COVID-driven zoned racing will enable consistent free-for-all options for Ride High and the other star open-class pacers, albeit at regional tracks like Ballarat and Bendigo. Ride High has effectively led throughout for two sparkling wins this campaign, but Tonkin both wants and cannot wait for his stable star to camp off the speed. “I know people often say it, but you’ll see something special when he gets to stalk the leaders and use his speed. I think that’s when he’ll be at his absolute best,” he said. “We took him to the trials one day and he sat off some handy horses and we clocked him running 52 and change his last half and doing it easily as he blew them away. “He’s just got the most amazing speed and, as good as he’s looked these couple of runs back, he’s still building and the best is yet to come.” In other stable news, Tonkin said he and co-trainer Emma Stewart’s exciting juvenile trotter Utopia is having a freshen-up after winning on debut by almost 90 metres. “He’s really good. We love him,” Tonkin said. “There’s not a lot around for him, so he’s having a let-up and we’re setting him for the Home Grown series in October.” Another of their small but select team of trotters, the injury-plagued Alpha Male, is still “about three weeks away” from resuming. “We had him set to go and he had a little hiccup, nothing serious, but he’s back into now and not far off. Wait until you see him, he’s grown into a monster. He’s enormous and he’s got so much talent,” Tonkin said. Last season’s Australian 2YO of the Year, Be Happy Mach, is another nearing a racetrack return. “He’s one of a big batch we’ve got who are about 4-6 weeks off racing,” he said. “The likes of Maajida, Demon Delight, lots of our best two-year-olds … they are all coming-up well and not too far away.” It’s clear the stable has a massive opinion of Be Happy Mach. “His suspensory looks good and he’s really well. He’s a top horse, a really serious horse this one,” Tonkin said.   Adam Hamilton

MUCH-IMPROVED former Kiwi pacer Cruz has something in common with former champion Im Themightyquinn. They now share the Albion Park 1660m track record at 1min50.4sec after Cruz scored the most important win of his career in the Wondais Pace Pace on Saturday night. Im Themightyquinn set the record with his Sunshine Sprint win back on July 5, 2014. Cruz matched it when he burned straight to the front and dazzled with closing splits of 54.2 and 26.5sec to easily hold-off local star Colt Thirty One to win by four metres. Buzz local Speech Is Silver’s seven-race winning streak came to and end, but he smashed the clock making late ground for fifth and will get his chance in longer free-for-alls in coming weeks. Stable spokesman Luke McCarthy said it was a last-minute decision to send Cruz from NSW to Queensland late Thursday. “He wasn’t going, but then we thought he’d have to race our other stars like Alta Orlando, Cash N Flow and King Of Swing if he stayed home, so we put him on the truck with five others to campaign in Queensland,” he said. “He actually fibrillated (irregular heart beat) after his last Menangle run. It’s the first horse we’ve had fibrillate in six years, but, for some reason, so many horses go like jets the next run after they fibrillate. “He’s a horse who’s keep improving and toughening up with the hard racing at Menangle and even though he beat some nice horses last night, it was a bit of a drop in grade for him. “There’s good free-for-alls for him again the next two weeks. “It was a good night for us with Culture King and Roll One Over winning easily as well.” As well as the three Albion Park winners, McCarthy and head trainer Craig Cross also two winners at Menangle – Replaced Eye and Better Enforce – on the same night. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt has scrapped a planned Queensland raid with Perfect Stride. The Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter didn’t please Butt and owner Emilio Rosati when down the track at Menangle on Saturday night. “We both just felt he should’ve gone a bit better,” he said. “It was always going to be hard from the draw and settling so far back, but he’s better than that  “There’s no point taking him away unless he’s spot-on. We’ll get him checked-out in case he’s got a bug.   Adam Hamilton

THE Frisby clan love a Queensland raid. And there latest trip north with a team has quickly gathered momentum with Jenden Strike’s fighting win in last night’s Group 2 South-East Oaks (2138m) at Albion Park. Anthony Frisby, driving for his father Chris, snared the one-one early on the Bathurst filly and must have been giggling as star local Pelosi drifted back to last from a wide draw and effectively took no part. Jenden Strike fought-off challenges from all angles in the last 100m to win by a neck and get a deserved big race win after being so competitive in the Victoria and NSW Oaks series’ earlier this season. Given they ran home in 57.2 and 28.6sec, Pelosi’s effort to come five and six-wide around the field and get within 4.4m in fifth spot was monstrous. Jenden Strike and Pelosi could back-up against the boys in the South-East Derby next Saturday night. ___________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a marvellous horse Replaced Eye has been for Craig Cross and his team. The rising eight-year-old looked to have a done a good job making his way through to open-class, but since getting there he’s just kept improving. His gate speed is a weapon and it won him another free-for-all, this time beating star stablemate Alta Orlando, at Menangle last night. While Replaced Eye led and dictated through a 56.2sec first half, Alta Orlando drifted back to a second-last from an outside draw and had an impossible task. Todd McCarthy dashed away around the home bend and Replaced Eye ran his last half in 54.5sec to win by 9.3m over Alta Orlando, who must have broken 53sec for his last half to snare second spot. Alta Orlando was first-up since his Miracle Mile placing in early March and connections would’ve been thrilled with his racetrack return. Back to Replaced Eye and a great trivia question would be who trained him at his first start? It was Victoria’s Peter Manning, but he had just the one run before going a miss and having more than two years off the track. Cross is his third trainer since then and he’s now won 19 of his 81 starts and gone past $200,000 in earnings. ___________________________________________________________________________________ CHAMPION driver Gary Hall Jr pulled a surprise to help star pacer Chicago Bull return to winning form at Gloucester Park on Friday. Few expected it, but Hall Jr unleashed Chicago Bull from the outside draw (gate seven) at the start and rushed across to take the lead in the free-for-all. The race was effectively over when he found the pegs. Chicago Bull cruised around and dashed home in 54.5sec to make it six wins, four seconds and a third from his 11 starts on the comeback trail. The other class runner, Handsandwheels, settled back and made some late ground without even being a factor to finish fifth. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ALMOST weekly we get reminders what a tragedy the premature death of Alta Christiano has been. Cut short in his prime on the racetrack with 13 wins from just 18 starts and almost $310,000 in earnings, the Kiwi-bred WA Derby winner was just starting to make his mark at stud when he died of a colic attack in late March.  Alta Christiano only has three crops racing and landed another major win when Mighty Ronaldo (Alta Christiano-Millwoods Delight) won WA’s biggest juvenile race, the $100,000 Group 1 Golden Slipper, at Gloucester Park Friday night. Trained and driven by Justin Prentice, Mighty Ronaldo enjoyed the hotly-contested affair and caused a major upset as a $26 shot in beating Give Us A Wave by 4.4m in a slick 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. Prentice doesn’t drive too often these days, but he was at his best, escaping a four pegs pocket to gradually to work to the outside then storm around them on the home bend to win easily. Team Bond’s Give Us A Wave was brave in second spot after working to lead and carving out slick fractions through the middle stages. Alta Christiano sired a double on the night with four-year-old While They Pray running a slick 1min54.7sec for 2130m to win the third event. ___________________________________________________________________________________ COULD C K Spur be the next great “find” out of NZ for the Norm Jenkin/Team Gath combination? Jenkin has an imposing list of trotting success with Kiwi purchases and the immediate signs were most encouraging with C K Spur winning his first run for Andy and Kate Gath at Bendigo last night. The Pegasus Spur gelding, who contested the Auckland Inter Dominion late last year for trainer Arna Donnelly, was first-up since a fifth at Cambridge on January 11. And he did it the hard way at Bendigo, making a midrace move to park outside main danger Emerald Stride and proving too strong and classy in a brisk 1min59.3sec mile rate for 2150m. “He won nine races over there, but got in really in the handicapping system here. In saying that, it was actually a strong first-up test for him the way the field came together,” Andy Gath said. The six-year-old pulled clear late to win by 3.4m and should quickly march through the grades. In the fast-class trot of the night, exciting three-year-old filly Pink Galahs underlined her potential by whizzing home along the sprint lane to beat favourite and classy former Kiwi Robbie Royale. ___________________________________________________________________________________ HE is still a work in progress, but Whereyabinboppin oozes potential. The big-striding gelding made it 11 wins from just 16 starts when he scorched a 53.5sec closing half at the end of a 1min50.5sec mile and won by as far as he liked in the Group 3 Farmer Joes Outlet final at Menangle last night. In contrast to recent runs when he’s had to sit parked or work hard in the early and middle stages, this time he waltzed to the front and always looked in control. It was an armchair drive for Cameron Hart as Whereyabinboppin coasted to a 10.1m win. Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter Perfect Stride only beat two home, but he covered ground off the pegs and tried to make ground in that scorching last half  Anthony Butt is still expected to push ahead with a Queensland trip for the Group 2 South-East Derby against One Change and some classy locals next Saturday night at Albion Park. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ONE-TIME buzz pacer Ignatius kick-started a campaign Jimmy Rattray hopes will take him back to the top with a win at Menangle last night. The former star two, three and early four-year-old is yet to make his mark in open-class, but he’s still just five.  Rattray drove a gem of a race to land the one-one trail from a wide draw, hit the front at the top of the straight and just staved-off a late lunge from Our Wall Street Wolf to win in a 1min51sec mile.It was only Ignatius’ two win from 10 runs this season, but took his career record to 20 wins from 37 starts and almost $440,000 in earnings.   Adam Hamilton

Brilliant Queensland filly Pelosi is making up for lost time. Last year’s Australian 2YO Filly of the Year has been denied the chance to win a big race this season so far by an injury setback and COVID. But trainer Anna Woodmansey is not one to reflect. “I think things are meant to be,” she said. “After about 40 years training horses, I’ve now got the best one I’ll ever have and, in hindsight, the time out has allowed her to mature a lot.” Pelosi won six of her eight runs at two, including the Australian Gold and NSW Breeders Challenges finals at Group 1 level. She then kicked a fence and was sidelined for nine months, as much as a precaution as anything else. As Woodmansey watched Kiwi fillies Dr Susan and Stylish Memphis dominate the Victoria and NSW Oaks, she kept thinking her time would come during winter in the Queensland Oaks. The along came COVID and the Queensland Oaks was scrapped. Thankfully Racing Queensland responded and boosted this Saturday night’s South-East Oaks to Group 2 level and a $50,660 purse. Pelosi has looked terrific winning her past two runs, but has the outside draw (gate seven) to overcome in the 2138m feature. “I’m not taking anything for granted, especially from that draw, but she’s come back really well and I know she’ll give her all,” Woodmansey said. “I’m just pinching myself to have a filly this good.” Pelosi is bred in the purple being out of three-time Group 1 winning filly For Dear Life, who was one of just three foals former brilliant filly Express Post had. She’s a home-bred, coming from the great family stock of Woodmansey’s partner, Wayne Honan, whose family bred and raced a long line of stars. “Wayne’s really liked this filly since the day she was born, but he’s never one to compare them. He won’t even tell me who he thinks is the best horse the family ever had, but he does say Pelosi has inherited the speed of her grandmother and he speaks so glowingly about the speed Express Post had.” If Pelosi pleases Woodmansey this week, she could back-up against the boys in the South-East Derby the following week. The other option is to tackle older mares in the Fleur De Lil on the same night. “Let’s just get through this week first. I couldn’t be prouder of this filly, she’s unreal, and I’d love to win an Oaks with her,” Woodmansey said. The Oaks headlines a stellar Albion Park card, but the Wondais Mate Open Pace (1660m) is a mighty support race. That will see buzz former Kiwi pacer Speech Is Silver dip into open-class racing for the first time and clash with Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One. Speech Is Silver has won seven on end and 14 of her 18 lifetime starts, but faces a big ask from the back row (gate 10) in a sprint where Colt Thirty One has barrier five. NSW raider Cruz (gate four) and classy locals Major Cam (two) and Northview Hustler (seven) add to the depth of a ripper race.   Adam Hamilton

JUST days after the flying Cash N Flow made it a staggering eight successive Menangle wins, his stable is about to unleash one they say is better. Former Kiwi pacer Alta Orlando made quite a splash last campaign, culminating with a luckless third in the Miracle Mile, and returns from a break in the mile free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night. Driver Luke McCarthy doesn’t hide the fact he rates Alta Orlando above Cash N Flow despite the stunning autumn/winter form of the latter. “Cashy is a lovely horse and we’ve really found the key to him, but he’s that notch below our absolute best and Alta Orlando is one of them,” McCarthy said. “Alta Orlando was actually ready to run last week, but it looked a good race for Cashy and we weren’t keen for them to clash when Alta was first-up. “It was pretty awesome what Alta Orlando did last time in work and gee he’s come back well. He won that Miracle Mile qualifier so well and would’ve gone close in the Mile itself if everything had gone his way. “It’s great to have him back and we think he’ll be a big player in all the top races.” Alta Orlando is one of six runners trainer Craig Cross has in Saturday’s free-for-all, but he’s sure to be a warm favourite despite the outside draw. His major rivals look to be Steve Turnbull’s star stayer Atomic Red, who is also resuming from a wide draw, along with the classy The Black Prince. The best of Cross’ other runners are the ultra-consistent Replayed Eye and talented former WA pacer Zennart. Like most of Australia’s top pacers, Alta Orlando is being primed for the $300,000 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10. And he is Cross and McCarthy’s anointed one for a Perth raid to tackle the Group 1 double – Fremantle and WA Cups – in November/December. “Remember we had him booked to go to those races this year, but we couldn’t get flights across,” McCarthy said.  “We thought a lot of him back then, but he hasn’t really proved it. He has now and we think the best is still to come.” Alta Orlando’s return headlines a ripper Menangle card. In the third race, one-time buzz pacer Ignatius returns from a spell and should be too classy. Jimmy Rattray’s stable star grabbed the eye when hard-held behind Perfect Stride in a recent Menangle trial where they zipped home in 26.6sec at the end of a 1min53.1sec mile. Perfect Stride then resumed with a Menangle win last week and backs up in a hot final of that race – the fifth event this Saturday night. It’ll be a serious test for Perfect Stride from gate nine with major danger Whereyabinboppin (gate five) drawn inside him  If he comes through this run well, Perfect Stride will head north for what shapes as a cracking South-East Derby at Albion Park.   Adam Hamilton

THE real McLovin is back. The jury has been out on the former Kiwi trotter since his roller-coaster NZ raid late last year, which culminated in him being scratched from the Auckland Inter Dominion with a viral infection. He’s won a few races since returning home, but largely not quite looked the same horse. But all that changed last night with his epic, off-the-canvas win in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk Trotters’ free-for-all. Yes he may have lost a little of his brilliance, but strength and will are as good, if not better, than ever. McLovin looked beaten a dozen times, especially when shoved four-wide for much of the last lap, but just kept coming and savaged the line to win by a half-neck. They went a brisk 1min55.9sec mile rate for 1720m. It rekindled memories of his mighty win in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint back on Victoria Cup night last October. McLovin’s raced 11 times this term for six wins, two seconds, a third and almost $120,000. He’s now won 15 races and pocketed almost $260,000 since joining Gath’s stable. McLovin was the first of two huge wins for Team Gath on the night, the second coming when the emerging Kiwi-bred gelding Eureka copped plenty of pressure in front, overraced badly and still scorched a 1min52.1sec mile rate for 1720m to score. Eureka, a Washington VC four-year-old, is raced by Norm Jenkin, who also owns McLovin. Eureka’s 10 Aussie runs have netted seven wins, a second and a third. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CASH N Flow’s eighth successive Menangle mile free-for-all win sent onlookers scrambling for the record books. Race caller Fred Hastings confirmed the former Kiwi gelding had broken two records on his way to a soft 4.3m win over stablemate Replaced Eye. Cash N Flow’s last half and quarter were the quickest officially clocked race splits at Menangle. The son of Mach Three blazed home in 53.2 and 25.3sec. It came off a very cosy 27.6 opening quarter and 57.4sec first half, so the mile itself was comfortable for Cash N Flow at 1min50.6sec. The previous fastest winning split by a leader was the 53.6sec Spankem clocked winning last year’s Miracle Mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt will get his wish with classy former Kiwi three-year-old Perfect Stride. Butt wants some strong racing for the colt before he heads to the South-East Derby at Albion Park later this month. Perfect Stride had to dig deep for his first-up win at Menangle last night, despite running to the front and strolling through a 59.2sec first half over a mile. It was really just a 400m sprint home and Perfect Stride just held-off his main danger, Seeuinnashville, to win by a half-head in a 26sec final quarter over a 1min53.7sec mile. The win qualified Perfect Stride for next week’s TAB Long May We Play final, which will draw together a strong line-up. Hardest to beat will be buzz four-year-old Whereyabinboppin, who did things wrong, raced erratically at times and still won his heat sitting parked much of the trip in a 1min51.5sec mile. The other heat winners were Paul Fitzpatrick’s improving Bracken Storm in a 1min51.4sec mile and Craig Cross’ Royal Aurora in 1min51.8sec. _________________________________________________________________________________________ FANS now can’t wait to see Queensland’s buzz pacer Speech Is Silver take on the big boys. The former All Stars’ five-year-old seemed to win with something in reserve despite doing plenty of work in a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 1660m at Albion Park last night. It was his seventh win on end, his 11th win from just 13 runs this season and his 14th win from just 18 lifetime starts. Queensland’s top pacer Colt Thirty One survived a late scare to win the free-for-all last night. The five-year-old led from the pole, copped a little midrace pressure, and held-off Justalittle Torque by a half-neck in a 26.6sec last quarter and 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2138m. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CHRIS Voak has become one of the best front-running drivers in Australia. And he showed why with a superbly-rated drive in front on hardy veteran Vultan Tin to upset Chicago Bull in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Voak put the foot down with a 28.4sec second quarter, then went 27.7sec down the back before a 28 flat closing split. That’s 1min24.1sec for the last 1200m! It was only Vultan Tin’s third win from 21 starts this season, but took his career record to 160 starts for 26 wins, 41 placings and almost $570,000. Vultan Tin’s been a player at WA’s top level for a number of years and most notably ran fourth to Lazarus in the 2017 Perth Inter Dominion final. In the other Gloucester Park features Friday, Mach Three filly Just For Love led throughout for driver Jocelyn Young to easily win the 2YO Fillies’ Gold Bracelet. _________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA’S dominant Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable continue to make a splash with their select team of trotters. Just a day after buzz two-year-old trotter Utopia won his first start by almost 90m at Shepparton, their three-year-old Cover Of Darkness stretched his unbeaten run to three wins at Ballarat. It came after a scare for driver Jodi Quinlan when Cover Of Darkness, a Majestic Son colt, galloped for a few strides at the start, but quickly settled. Quinlan let him balance-up, but when he started to pull hard, she unleashed him around to take the front. Cover of Darkness was headed rounding the final bend, but just kept finding to win by 3.9m in a 2min1.9sec mile rate for 2200m. Sitting at home about to resume is Tonkin and Stewart’s untapped four-year-old trotter Alpha Male, who won the Group 1 Need for Speed on March 9 last year, but hasn’t raced since because of injury. Alpha Male, described by Tonkin as a “monster of a horse,” has raced just five times for three wins and two placings. Both placings came after costly gallops.   Adam Hamilton

DEBUT wins don’t come any better than Utopia. The buzz Victorian baby trotter lived-up to the hype when came from off the pace to win by a staggering 82.5 metres at Shepparton yesterday (Thursday). It came little more than a week after he won a Melton trial by half the straight and co-trainer Clayton Tonkin declared him “a bit special.” In contrast to the trial where Utopia ran straight to the lead and kept going further in front, he sat third and was given plenty of time to balance up by driver Jodi Quinlan. Another debutante, Rogue Gentleman, who had some support in betting to beat Utopia, led by a big space in the middle stages, but it was clear 600m from home that Utopia had him covered. Quinlan eased Utopia off Rogue Gentleman’s back at the 500m and he rushed to the front, increasing the margin all the way home without being extended. For a two-year-old trotter having his first start, Utopia’s 2min2.6sec mile rate for the 2240m mobile was pretty slick. By comparison, the three-year-old trotters in the next race, won by the Breckon Farms-bred Kyvalley Senator, went 2min3.5sec. Utopia is superbly-bred by US trotting sire Trixton out of former talented Victorian trotting mare Gluteus Maximus, a winner of 14 races and over $100,000. This is only Gluteus Maximus’ third foal, the others have been winners Derrie Aire (seven wins, $68,730) and Kyvalley Shaunie (three wins, $28,723). Utopia shows all the qualities to become just the second trotter to win a Group 1 race for the Stewart/Tonkin team, following the immensely exciting Alpha Male. He won at Group 1 level in late 2018 and is close to a comeback. “We’ve hardly had any trotters, but a few of our owners were keen to get involved and it’s been a tremendous start,” Clayton Tonkin said. “Alpha Male could seriously be anything if we can keep him sound. He’s an absolute giant, but with so much talent it’s not funny. “And we’ve also got a good opinion of Cover Of Darkness.” Cover Of Darkness, a three-year-old, is going for this third run from as many starts in the seventh race at Ballarat tonight (Friday). Quinlan has the drive on him as well. Here’s the replay of Utopia’s debut win at Shepparton yesterday: Watch the replay here.   Adam Hamilton

BUZZ Victorian pacer Ride High has been installed opening Victoria Cup favourite as he prepares for a second-up run at Melton on Saturday night. Such was the breathtaking nature of his first-up win, Ride High is a clear $3 favourite for the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) at Melton on October 10. Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile runner-up Lochinvar Art is $5 second elect ahead of Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing at $7. More immediately, Ride High is $1.15 favourite to make it 12 wins from just 13 starts when he starts from gate five in the Melton City Council Sprint (1720m) at Melton Saturday. First-up he led and scorched home the fastest official last half ever clocked at Melton – 52.7sec – to win by 28.9m at Melton two weeks ago. It was his first run since having a breathing-related throat operation last December. “He’s come on really well since the first-up win and should only keep getting better with the racing,” co-trainer Clayton Tonkin said. Kima Frenning, who now works for Tonkin and Emma Stewart and has assumed most of the stable driving, takes the reins again on Ride High. After his first-up win, which was the first time she’d driven Ride High in a race, Frenning beamed: “That was just ridiculous. How easy he did that, how good he is. Still untapped, that was pretty cool.” Co-trainer Emma Stewart declared Ride High was the best horse in Australia. The Victoria Cup will really take shape in coming weeks with Alta Orlando set to resume at Menangle on Saturday week and King Of Swing only about 2-3 weeks away. Lochinvar Art is also back in work and trainer-driver David Moran said: “He didn’t have long out and he’s so athletic, he’ll come to hand pretty quickly.”   Adam Hamilton

ANTHONY Butt wants his young star Perfect Stride to be part of the revamped Queensland Winter Carnival. Whether that happens depends on the Queensland Government opening the borders to allow easy access for NSW residents. Butt’s still got a bit of time up his sleeve with Perfect Stride’s target being the $50,660 Group 2 South-East Derby (2138m) at Albion Park on July 18. “That’s the aim, but it’s out of our control. He’s back and he’ll be ready, so here’s hoping we can get up there,” Butt said. Perfect Stride has finished second in the NSW Derby and third in the Victoria Derby this season. He hasn’t raced since running second in the Bathurst Gold Chalice final on March 28. The Bettors Delight colt sharpened-up for his return with a slick 1min53.1sec mile win in a Menangle trial last Wednesday, beating star mare Bettor Enforce and open-class performers Ignatius and Wrangler. “He’s come back really well and looks to have found a good race first-up,” Butt said. Perfect Stride has gate four in a heat of the TAB Long May Play series. “The final is the week after. It’d be good to get a couple of runs under his belt before we get to Queensland if it’s a goer.” Butt said Queensland plans had been shelved for Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan, who will be saved for a Breeders Crown assault later in the year. “She’ll be back in about a month or so and Line Up is maybe 4-6 weeks away from a trial,” he added. Longer term, Butt is planning to take a huge team to Victoria around Breeders Crown time. “We might be there a month or two,” Butt said. “We’ll most of the good horses down there so we don’t we have to bounce up and back between Sydney. I’d say we’ll have 12 or more go to Melbourne.” They will include Perfect Stride, Line Up, Wolf Stride, Excel Stride and Dr Susan. “I’ve just got another nice batch of Emilio’s (Rosati) horses arrive across from NZ as well and most of them are likely to go to Melbourne,” Butt said.   Adam Hamilton

EMOTIONS ran high for Kate Gath at Melton last night. And the winners flowed freely as she drove four of the eight winners. Less than two days earlier, Gath’s grandfather, well-known Port Pirie racecaller and hobby trainer John Tee, passed away. That’s why she raised her whip and looked to the sky as Kiwi import Arden Voyager brilliantly won the opening race at Melton. “It was a special night to land a bag of winners, it meant so much,” Gath said. “Pop loved his racing and we had this strong connection through the horses. He put on too high a pedestal at times, he loved the success I had. “He’s at peace now and reunited with the life of his life, our nanna, who we lost 15 months ago. They were married over 60 years.” Gath teamed with husband, Andy, to win with Arden Voyager, who has been a handful at times, but made it three wins on end and paced a slippery 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2240m. The family connection ran even deeper for Gath’s second win of the night aboard Plan Ce, who used the sprint lane to win from behind the leader for her father, trainer Peter Thompson. Major stable owner Norm Jenkin then provided Gath with her third and fourth wins of night, courtesy of exciting four-year-old pacer Eureka and star trotter McLovin. Eureka made it six wins from nine runs since joining the stable and smashed the clock with a 1min52.9sec mile rate for 1720m, capped by a 52.2sec last half and 26.8sec closing quarter. McLovin atoned for a surprise defeat last week to make it three wins from his four runs since campaign as he strolled home by 12.7m in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2240m. It was McLovin’s 14th win since joining Team Gath 18 months ago. One race Gath didn’t win was the fourth when she led on favourite and recent Kiwi import, Zigzagzoo, but was beaten by a phenomenal effort from Anton Golino’s emerging gelding Imsettogo. The four-year-old mare galloped in the score-up, gave the field a least a 40-50m start, caught them up and circled them in the last 500m to win running away by 17.1m.  It was one of the more extraordinary wins at Melton for a long time. __________________________________________________________________________________________ ONLY time will tell is Chicago Bull can still be a genuine Grand Circuit force, but the signs are good. Gary Hall Sr’s rising eight-year-old showed his trademark dash to post his fifth win from nine runs in this comeback campaign. He’s finished three times and third in the only other run. The rising eight-year-old enjoyed being able to camp off the pace, albeit only a moderate tempo, instead of sitting parked and had his rivals covered out three-wide rounding the final bend. Driver Gary Hall Jr strategically waited before pressing the button, knowing he had his main danger, Ocean Ridge, pocketed in the one-one trail. Chicago Bull held-off Ocean Ridge, who charged late when clear, to win by 2.1m in a 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2130m. Hall Sr will soon a better line on Chicago Bull with some of WA’s best pacers, including the likes of Shockwave, Mighty Conqueror and Vampiro, all back in work. It’s going to be an exciting build-up towards the rescheduled Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in November/December. __________________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a shame the much-improved Leonidas is just about to leave for the US. The four-year-old showed he could’ve been a potential Victoria Cup player with yet another powerhouse win at Bendigo in slick time last Friday night. It Leonidas’ fifth win with another three seconds from just eight starts since bring sold to US owner Steve Finkelstein and switched from NSW trainer Blake Fitzpatrick to David Aiken in Victoria. Leonidas’ 1min54.8sec mile rate after coming from a back row draw and sitting parked was 1min54.8sec for 2150m, just 1.3sec outside Centenario’s track record. Aiken’s son, Josh, took the reins last Friday as he has in every run since Leonidas joined the stable. The Aikens snared a double when the exciting Auckland Reactor gelding Reactor Now made it nine wins from just 12 runs and seven on end. The rising five-year-old came from a mile back in a hotly-run 1650m scamper and stopped the clock in a 1min52.2sec mile rate. It was just 0.5sec outside Leonidas’ recent track record. __________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER megastar Kiwi juvenile Follow The Stars snared one of the biggest wins of his siring career at Gloucester Park last Friday night. His exciting daughter, Black Jack Ruby, continued her rise with a dawdle and sprint home to win the Group 1 Westbred 2YO Fillies Classic (2130m). Chris Voak used the pole to lead on the Shane Quadrio-trained filly and slowed them to a walk through a 64.6sec middle half and ripping home in a 26.6sec last quarter. Black Jack Ruby, out of former NZ-based McArdle mare What A Card, made it seven wins and a second from her eight starts. Team Bond continued its stellar year by winning with the Group 1 Westbred final for colts and geldings with Mach Three two-year-old Give Us A Wave. Stable driver Ryan Warwick held the lead from the pole and never looked in danger, dashing home in 56.1 and 28sec to score by 5.8m in a 1min57.1sec mile rate for 2130m. __________________________________________________________________________________________ EXCITING juvenile Manila Playboy let himself down in his first feature race, but wasn’t about to do the same the second time round. In contrast, the Pet Rock gelding highlighted his potential by doing all the work and digging deep to win the $100,750 Group 1 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sale final (1780m) last night. It took his record to three wins from just four starts, the only defeat coming at his second run when he galloped and lost all chance as favourite in the Qbred Breeders Classic final at Albion Park in May. It gave owner/breeder/trainer Shane Fraser his first Group 1 success as Manila Playboy dug deep after sitting parked for the last 1100m in a 1min57.3sec. In the other feature, the Redcliffe Gold Cup, former classy Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler was denied victory in the last stride. Northview Hustler, second from a spell, came off a 10m handicap and unleashed around the field to storm to the front on the final bend. But it was another Kiwi-bred, the four-year-old Sole Ambition, who snatched victory for young driver Lachie Manzelmann and trainer Donny Smith by a half-head. __________________________________________________________________________________________ MUCH-TRAVELLED pacer Zennart is building nicely in the latest chapter of his career with Craig Cross in NSW. After the success switch of King Of Swing to Sydney, many of the same owners agreed with Gary Hall Sr to do the same with Zennart, who had been enigmatic at Gloucester Park. Zennart’s six runs for Craig Cross has netted two wins and second, but his win last night certainly pointed to lots more. The rising nine-year-old worked to the front for driver Luke McCarthy and just kept running for a very slick 1min53.6sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip, capped by closing splits of 54.6 and 27.4sec. He’s still sparingly raced with just 37 starts for 14 wins. Cross has three wins on the night, including the feature, the Group 3 Frith Stakes, with Black Silhouette, the $81 outsider of his five runners. Black Silhouette, a five-year-old Shadow Play mare, came off the back of leader, stablemate and favourite Speak No Evil to salute in a 1min50.5sec mile.   Adam Hamilton

Australasian harness racing has lost one of its all-time greats with the passing of Westburn Grant. His trainer-driver and adoring caretaker in retirement Vic Frost said Westburn Grant died yesterday, just a couple of months short of his 35th birthday. Frost and his wife, Gail Geeson, said they were grieving the loss of their “best mate.” Westburn Grant, affectionately known as “Spot”, won 38 of his 67 starts and over $2 million, including the 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion and two Miracle Miles in 1989 and ‘90. “He’d had a tumor on his neck and went downhill in the last week. It’s a really sad time … he’s been with me all his life. I raced his Mum (Westburn Vue) and he’s been with since he was born,” Frost said. “He’s had a fantastic life, he was almost 35. He’s had the run of the place at home here with Gail (Frost’s wife) and I. He’d help himself to the hay shed and wander from one horse to another to stand next to them, many of those horses his descendants. Gail pampered him like nothing else. “What a super racehorse he was, too. He had blistering speed and could do it early or late, as well as having a fair bit of stamina. “John Hunt (former WA racecaller) made a video of the glory days between he and Franco Ice, called The Summer of  Frost and Ice. Gail and I will be getting that over the next few days to watch it back a few times.” Frost thought so much of Westburn Grant as a three-year-old, he dared to do the unthinkable and went to Christchurch for the triple crown of NZ feature three-year-old races, including the NZ Derby. “They rang us and said they’d put on a $100,000 bonus for any horse who could win the three races. From memory, they said only one horse had done it before,” Frost recalled. “The trick was the 2000m race in the middle with 2600m races either side, but ‘Spot’ went there and won them all. I think they scrapped the bonus straight after that. “It was a great trip. We stayed at Barney Breen’s place (who owned Westburn Grant) and trained him at Derek Jones’ place.” Frost will always treasured the two Miracle Mile wins in 1989 and 1990, but spoke most glowingly of his 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion win. “That was a real challenge, a real triumph,” he said. “He’d always had bad feet, but they were a huge issue during that series. “I had to find a long stretch beach to train him and I did, at least a couple of hours from Melbourne at a place called Venus Bay. “We were away from the world and nobody could contact me. I got him as well as I could and he did the rest in the final.” The most treasured win of Westburn Grant’s career for Frost came in when he landed his second Group 1 WA Pacing Cup victory in January, 1992. It came just two weeks after Vic and his then wife, Margaret, lost their son Gary in a tragic accident at home. “We were in Perth with the horse when Gary died. We went back home, left the horse with Colin Brown in Perth, and went back a week or so later and ‘Spot’ did it for us. That win meant so much,” Frost said. THE WESTBURN GRANT FILE 34-year-old by Land Grant out of Westburn Vue Trainer-driver: Vic Frost Record: 67 starts; 38 wins; 18 placings Stakemoney: $2,074,316 Major wins: 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion 1989 & ’90 Miracle Miles 1991 Australian Pacing Championship 1991 & ’92 WA Pacing Cups 1990 & ’92 SA Cups Awards: 1991 & ’92 Australian Horse of the Year 1990, ’91 & ’92 Australian Grand Circuit Champion 1989 Australian 3YO of the Year 1989 NZ 3YO of the Yea   VIDEO TRIBUTE TO WESTBURN GRANT:     by Adam Hamilton

PART-OWNER Rob Gartrell has strongly hinted at a Menangle stint for exciting WA pacer Ocean Ridge. Speaking on Perth’s TAB Radio this morning (Thursday), Gartrell said it was an attractive option to send the Kiwi-bred Ocean Ridge to race at Menangle in future. “It’s something we’ve talked about, to give him the chance to see what sort of time he could run there. We also think the style of racing there would suit him.” More immediately, Ocean Ridge (gate two) will try and beat Chicago Bull (five) for the third time in six starts when they clash in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. It’s certainly not a two-horse race with in-form veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone in gate three and Motu Premier resuming from the pole. The Aussie TAB has Chicago Bull, who was just nosed-out by Ocean Ridge, the $1.85 favourite to atone. Ocean Ridge is $3.50, Motu Premier $4.40 and Our Jimmy Johnstone $4.60. Gartrell also revealed a couple of the other open-class stars he races, Vampiro and Galactic Star, were also progressing well after spells. “They’re coming up well together,” he said. “Vampiro really took the next step last campaign and that’s despite his owner drawing some bad barriers for him.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler looks the one to beat in Saturday night’s Redcliffe Gold Cup. The Alistair Barnes-trained pacer returned with a terrific second to Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One, last Saturday night at Albion Park. He will need some luck and to step well from inside the runners off a 10m handicap., but looks the class factor. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ BUDDING star The Black Prince gets his chance to snag a Menangle free-for-all with Cash N Flow staying at home this week. The Roy Roots Jr-trained pacer won two in a row at Newcastle during NSW’s strictest regional racing then did all the work when a fighting second to Cash N Flow in a 1min50.2sec Menangle Mile last Saturday week. He packs early speed, should be suited by the stretch to 2300m and is a $1.85 Aussie TAB favourite. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE time is gone where training trotters in Victoria means you can escape the dominance of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. They won their first Group 1 trotting race with the monstrous and very talented Alpha Male in late, 2018. He’s very close to a comeback from injury. And, according to Clayton Tonkin, he’s ready to pick-up where he left off. More recently, they’ve unveiled the nicely-bred Majestic Son three-year-old colt Cover Of Darkness to win both runs, the most recent by a big pace at Terang on June 18. But the best could be yet to come and soon. Those allowed trackside for the Melton trials last Tuesday had a glimpse of why the stable thinks so much of two-year-old trotter Utopia. The colt, by Trixton out of former talented racemare Gluteus Maximus, won his first trial by 52.5m and trotted faultlessly throughout for driver Jodi Quinlan. Utopia trotted a 2min3.5sec mile rate for 2240m, but it was the ease with which he buzzed home in 28.5sec which most impressed. Gluteus Maximus won 14 races and $104,855 and Utopia is only her third foal, the best of the others being Derrie Aire (seven wins and $68,730). _________________________________________________________________________________________________ AS Lauren Tritton gets ready to launch her North American driving career, her little sister Grace landed her first win at Menangle this week Grace Panella teamed with trainer Darren Binskin and veteran trotter Scenic Sky for an upset win in the second race on Monday. “Everyone at Team Tritton is super proud of Lauren’s sister Grace at her first win today in the sulky,” Team Tritton tweeted after the victory. Meanwhile, Team Tritton stretched it’s awesome US start to six wins from just eight starters when old-timer Yayas Hot Spot won easily at Yonkers on Wednesday morning (NZ time).   by Adam Hamilton

AN old marvel of Aussie harness took Team Tritton’s phenomenally successful North American launch to a new level. After two wins from their first two US runners last weekend, Shane and Lauren Tritton snagged another three wins from their next four runners. My Ruebe Star backed-up from her US debut win to repeat the dose, again at The Meadowlands on Saturday morning (NZ time). Their three-race winning streak ended with Ohoka Johnny finished third at The Meadowlands yesterday morning (Sunday), but Team Tritton bounced straight back for wins with former NZ Cup contestant Letspendanitetogetha and Flaming Flutter. “That one (Flaming Flutter) was a bit emotional for us. He’s been such a great horse, but he’s so special to us. Lauren said we weren’t allowed to leave home without him,” Shane said. “We thought he’d settled in really well and were disappointed when he drew the outside for his first run, but it didn’t stop him. “To be four-wide into the first bend, the three-wide and never see the marker pegs, but still put them away and go a 1min49.1sec mile – it just shows his class. “He might be an 11-year-old over here, but he’s going to love the racing and win a lot more races. It’s hard to say he’ll make it back to the top at his age, but he’ll give some good horses a big fright with the right run on the strength of what he did today. People were saying, ‘wow, that’s a serious horse’ after he won.” Flaming Flutter raced 122 times Down Under for 25 wins, 43 placings and $814,235 in stakemoney, mainly for Geoff Webster before joining Team Tritton late last year. He was a top flight juvenile, but it best known for finishing second to Beautide in the 2015 Sydney Inter Dominion final and third to Lennytheshark in the Perth Inter Dominion final nine months later. Team Tritton’s first unplaced runner came in the 15th race at The Meadowlands yesterday when Im A Director copped a check and a flat tyre. In total, they’ve had seven runners for five wins and a third. “It’s certainly been a dream start and it’s a bit surprising because we’re still very much working out how to train the horses here compared to back home,” Shane said. “People are certainly taking notice. We’ve had a few calls from owners which could lead to us getting some more nice horses in the barn.” Team Tritton will race mainly at The Meadowlands and Yonkers, which re-opens today (Monday) after a COVID shutdown. “It’ll be great to have Yonkers back open because they race for such amazing money. They the standard races will be $US44,000 once we get fully past COVID. As it is, they say they’ll be racing for $US33,000,” Shane said.   Adam Hamilton

DAVID Moran is looking forward to catching-up on lost opportunities with Australia’s most exciting pacer Lochinvar Art. The Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile runner-up is back in work after a short spell. And Moran initially has his sights sets on the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10, especially with news of a stakemoney hike to $300,000 for the race once regarded as the Cox Plate of harness. Moran is also “looking very seriously” at a Perth raid in November now RWWA and Gloucester Park are bringing forward WA’s two biggest open-class features, the $300,000 Fremantle Cup to November 20 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup to December 4. “This year has been a bit of a shambles with COVID, but it’s good to see some of the big races being confirmed for late in the year,” Moran said. “I really had no option but to turn him out for a while with no good races for him. He’s enjoyed the break and won’t take that long to bring back up again.” HRV announced the Victoria Cup boost along with increased stakemoney and a welcomed format change for Victoria’s top trotting race, the Great Southern Star. “We are pleased to announce prizemoney increases to two of our major events for the Great Southern Star to be returning to its exciting original format,” HRV’s Stephen Bell said. The Great Southern Star will headline an all-trotting card at Melton on the Friday night before the Hunter Cup as part of an enhanced 2021 Summer of Glory. Most importantly, it will go back to a heat and final event with the two $50,000 heats being run the same night as the $300,000 final. The announcements follow HRV moving the Breeders Crown to November and the Vicbred series to December, culminating in a stellar night of finals on New Year’s Eve at Melton.   by Adam Hamilton

TEAM Tritton formally start an exciting new chapter of their career in the US on Saturday morning (NZ time). Husband and wife, Shane and Lauren Tritton, moved to the US a couple of months back and have their first two starters at the famed Meadowlands track in New Jersey. Kiwi-bred pair My Ruebe Star and Gods Spirit fly the stable flag. There will be some familiar faces against them with Dexter Dunn and Aussie Andy McCarthy driving at the meeting. “We’ve got 18 in work, 12 we brought across from Australia and six we’ve picked-up over here,” Tritton said. “It’s great to be having our first runners, but we are taking is nice and steadily over here and think we’ll get better with time. “There are so many different viruses over here, you can’t go anywhere near as hard at the horses in training as we did back home, especially in their first few months here. “We’ve had quite a few qualify and they all get in quite well here under the stakemoney handicapping system.” Tritton expects solid showings from Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star. “Gods Spirit is probably the best up-and-comer we have here. He qualified well with a second to the star here, Wiggle It Jiggleit,” Tritton said. “Of the horses we’ve got, Gods Spirit is the up-and-comer, but the proven Group 1 horses from back home, headed by Flaming Flutter and Yayas Hot Spot, are working well and should do a good job when they start racing soon. “We’re also looking forward to racing Letsspendanitetogetha. He’s come up really well.” Lauren Tritton has been driving at the qualifiers and won two of them last weekend, but will watch from the sidelines for now. “Lauren’s all set to drive when the time is right, but wants to let the horses have a few runs and watch some of the racing before getting amongst it herself. It might be a few weeks I think,” Shane said. Jordan Stratton, a long-time stable driver for Shane’s father, Peter, will drive Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star this week. “We’re training from the farm Dad trained at, about a hour north of New York City, and Jordan’s had a long association with Dad. He’s especially good as knowing how to drive these former Down Under horses without gassing them too much in their early runs,” Shane said. Team Tritton will race mainly at the Meadowlands and Yonkers, when it re-opens for racing post-COVID on June 22. “It’s been a bit of a blessing the suspension of racing because of COVID for us. It’s given us extra time to get settled-in and find our way. Now we’re keen to get into it,” Shane said.   Adam Hamilton

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