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TALENTED pacer Ignatius will have to face another wide draw in Saturday night's Group 1 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Menangle. The James Rattray trained and driven pacer has faced wide barrier draws in his two qualifying races and has landed barrier nine for the four-year-old feature. Ignatius was forced to do it the tough way outside the leader to win last Saturday night's Paleface Adios Stakes, beating Chase Auckland in a mile rate of 1:50.2. The winner of the Chariots Of Fire will receive an automatic invitation to the $1million Miracle Mile on March 2. The Chariots Of Fire barrier draw was conducted in the Harness Racing New South Wales office as a random barrier draw performed by HRNSW executive management.   Chariots Of Fire - GROUP 1 (1609m) 1 Chase Auckland 2 Picard 3 Royal Gamble (EM1) 4 All U Need Is Faith 5 The Black Prince 6 Boyd Writer 7 Rackemup Tigerpie 8 Poster Boy 9 Ignatius 10 Hail Christian 11 Jack Farthing (EM2) 12 Ashley Locaz   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES  

DEFENDING champion Majordan has opened as the favourite for Friday night’s Group 1 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile.  The Kevin Pizzuto-trained pacer is the $1.80 elect with TAB Fixed Odds over stablemate Picard at $2.20. Both pacers have drawn beside each other with Majordan in three and Picard in four. Driver Chris Geary is pleased with Majordan’s starting position. “It’s really good, he comes out of barrier two with the removal of the first emergency so hopefully he can push forward and be handy,” said Geary. “It looks a pretty suitable race for him.” Majordan set the track record at Newcastle when winning last year’s Newcastle Mile clocking 1:51.4. This edition of the Newcastle Mile received a major prizemoney boost and will carry a purse of $100,000 making it the only Group 1 race in the Hunter Region in all three racing codes. The winner will also receive an automatic invitation to the $1million Miracle Mile on March 2. AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile – GROUP 1 (1609m) 1   Little Rascal 2   Yayas Hot Spot (EM1) 3   Majordan 4   Picard 5   Loorrim Creek 6   Maximan 7   Rakarolla 8   Lombo Kotakinabalu (EM2) 9   Mattgregor 10            Ultimate Art     AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  arando@hrnsw.com.au •  @Amanda_Rando

The barrier draw for this Saturday night’s harness racing Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes at Menangle has been finalised (see below). The first four placed horses will qualify for the $200,000 Group 1 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire on February 16. Those horses will join pacers Picard, Ashley Locaz, Hail Christian and The Black Prince which finished first to fourth, respectively, in last Saturday night’s Group 2 Hondo Grattan Stakes at Menangle to earn their spot in the 2019 Chariots Of Fire. Meanwhile, Victorian pacer Poster Boy earned an invitation to the lucrative four-year-old feature when taking out the Bonanza at Melton on January 26. The balance of the Chariots Of Fire field will be selected from finishing positions in the Paleface Adios and Hondo Grattan Stakes. In the event of a ballot, this season’s prizemoney will determine final positon, and if the same, then fastest time from qualifier. The winner of the Chariots of Fire will be invited to contest the 2019 $1million Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 2. PALEFACE ADIOS STAKES – GROUP 2 (1609m) Rackemup Tigerpie Chase Auckland Mackeral Cowboys N Indians (EM2) Jack Farthing Little Peanut Franco Landry Royal Gamble All U Need Is Faith Ignatius Spankem Boyd Writer (EM1) AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  arando@hrnsw.com.au •  @Amanda_Rando

LAUREN Tritton sat behind the fastest three-year-old pacer to ever grace a track in Australasia just recently. And now the top reinswoman is excited to see what Muscle Factory can produce against some of the nation’s best at Ballarat on Saturday night. Muscle Factory set a southern hemisphere record when clocking 1:49.6 in the Simpson Memorial at Menangle a fortnight ago. And on Saturday night south of the border the colt faces his next challenge in a heat of the Victoria Derby. “I’m really excited to see what Muscle can do against the best of them,” said Tritton. “It’s hard not to declare a horse that just won in 1:49. “I’m not worried about the smaller track either as we saw what he did at Albion Park.” However, there is an element Tritton is concerned about. “It is the hardest heat but we’ve drawn accordingly,” said Tritton. “It’s still going to be tough facing the locals on their home turf . . . some of those horses have been raised on that track their whole life so they have that advantage.” Some of those dangers include Lochinvar Art and Australian Pacing Gold winner Centenario. Meanwhile, the $1.65 TAB Fixed Odds favourite is the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Im Another Masterpiece. Tritton does not have to face the powerful Purdon/Rasmussen combination in her other Victoria Derby heat with Petes Big Jim. The gelding is a $15 chance behind the $2.50 elect Max Delight and the Menangle Park horsewoman is full of praise of her drive’s latest effort at his local track. Petes Big Jim finished fourth to Muscle Factory in the scintillating Simpson Memorial. “He went into that race 50/50 after being sore and tender on his feet and he is only a little horse but has a heart of gold to push through and go as well as he did,” said Tritton. “He went 1:50 himself and I’ll drive him conservative now as he steps up with the big boys.” ‘Team Tritton’ will be represented on home soil at Menangle on Saturday night as well with seven runners nominated. This includes Tritton’s two recent Inter Dominion campaigners My Alpha Rock and Maximan. “Maximan and Alpha are super since the trip to Victoria,” said Tritton. “We private trialled them around Menangle and they worked the mile in 1:51. “It’s not easy for them coming back to racing in that grade but we are happy with how they have come back after their campaign.” Tritton trains her team of horses with her husband Shane Tritton and they have trained 264 winners since starting their partnership in the 2016/17 season.   Some fun facts: Mile Records – Australasian: http://www.harness.org.au/hra/annual/public/records/ausn_milep.pdf HRA’s Milestones – Pacers http://www.harness.org.au/hra/annual/public/records/mstonesp.pdf   Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

EARLY tactics will be vital in tonight’s Group 2 Simpson Memorial at Menangle according to reinswoman Lauren Tritton. The premiership winning driver is taking the reins behind the $1.33 TAB Fixed Odds favourite Muscle Factory and drawing barrier one with the colt has not made the situation any easier Tritton admitted. “It’s an awkward barrier for him as he does have early speed but for his whole two-year-old season we drove him with handbrakes on early and just drove him out easy to stay out of trouble,” said Tritton. “This draw won’t allow us to do that and this is a pretty fast front line.” One rival Tritton will have her eyes on early is Victorian visitor Lochinvar Art. The colt is the only other starter in single figure odds at $4.20 and will begin from outside the front line. “It will be interesting to see what they do with him early and it will be interesting to see Muscle Factory and Lochinvar Art race each other again,” said Tritton. “Muscles is tough whereas Lochinvar Art has a quick last half in him. “Lochinvar Art has been running some ridiculous sectionals in Victoria and just drawn where he has, you would expect that they will have to put him into the race at some stage.” Muscle Factory and Lochinvar Art clashed in the Breeders Challenge Final last June with the pair finishing third and second respectively. Lochinvar Art has had two starts this season for a win and a second while Muscle Factory is first up from a spell. “We couldn’t have him any better,” said Tritton. “He went super winning his trial and there has been some good form come out of that trial too.” Meanwhile, Tritton’s other two starters have already raced this season. This includes Petes Big Jim which finished sixth at Menangle on December 18. “He got himself beat last start over-racing, pulling outside the leader which is not his go,” said Tritton. “He is the fastest two-year-old out of the gate that I’ve ever driven so should be suited by his draw.” Tritton’s other starter is Petes Said So. “He has blistering early speed as well,” said Tritton. “He is the highest assessed horse in the race so deserves his spot in the field.” Petes Said So will be driven by Lachie Manzelmann while Josh Aiken has obtained the drive on Petes Big Jim.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

WITH an unbeaten record since racing in his care trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick could not be happier with the progress of Rollin With Holly. The three-year-old has had two starts with Fitzpatrick and the filly has pleasantly surprised him each run. “She’s improving quite a bit,” said Fitzpatrick. “She is not an overly flash track-worker so her two runs have surprised me. “She’s always been a nice type and we’re just really happy with how she is progressing.” Rollin With Holly will face the starter for the third time in Fitzpatrick’s care at Penrith tonight. This race is another stepping stone towards a big preparation connections have earmarked for the daughter of Roll With Joe. “She has a busy year ahead,” said Fitzpatrick. “She will race in next week’s Raith Memorial at Menangle and the New South Wales Oaks will be her main aim at this stage.” Rollin With Holly has had 13 starts for five wins and four placings. For her immediate task, Rollin With Holly has drawn barrier four in tonight’s TAB Rewards Pace (1720m) with Fitzpatrick in the sulky. “She should be hard to beat,” said Fitzpatrick. The Cawdor horseman has three other starters nominated tonight starting with Urban Girl in race three. Having also won her last two starts, Fitzpatrick believes tonight’s assignment has its challenges. “She’s an improver but drawn barrier 10 over the mile at Penrith is never easy,” said Fitzpatrick. In the following event, Fitzpatrick has last start winner Burning Rubber drawn barrier four over the 2125m. “He’s a very consistent horse and is in this race with a claim with Jason Grimson driving and looks a good chance again,” said Fitzpatrick. Another good draw has Fitzpatrick optimistic about his other runner’s chance – Clarry in race five. The pacer has drawn barrier three over the 1720m. “He’s going well again and has a strong chance from the draw,” said Fitzpatrick. Clarry won for Fitzpatrick two starts ago at Penrith. The victory added to the strong season Fitzpatrick has experienced so far. With 17 wins to his credit as a trainer and 13 wins as a driver for the term, Fitzpatrick is on track to experiencing stronger results than last season. Overall, Fitzpatrick is one of the most successful drivers in New South Wales having steered 1870 winners. As a trainer he boasts 614 victories to his credit.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

WITH the goal of driving 100 winners before he turns 18 reinsman Will Rixon could achieve that. The Sydney driver has driven 99 winners so far and will celebrate his milestone Birthday tomorrow. “It’s always been a long goal of mine to drive 100 winners before I turn 18 so we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” said Rixon. With five drives on the seven-race card at Penrith tonight, Rixon is hoping he can breakthrough to the centurion ranks in the opening race. Rixon has been assigned the drive on the James Rando-trained Southbound Train. “I’m pretty confident in Southbound train,” said Rixon. “He can do things wrong but goes well when he puts it all together and he has found a suitable race.” If Southbound Train is not the one to catapult Rixon to his century then the young driver believes his next best chance is De Santa Anna in race three. “De Santa Anna should run a good race,” said Rixon. “Fingers crossed.” And if Rixon’s win does not happen tonight, he has booked five drives at Bankstown tomorrow night. It will be a big week Rixon as he has also landed his first Group drive in Saturday night’s Inter City Pace Final at Maitland’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting. “It’s exciting that I got the call to drive Pocket Of Terror in the Final,” said Rixon. “I missed out on driving him a few weeks ago at Newcastle because I was stuck in traffic and I didn’t get to drive him in the Inter City Pace heat last week because I was suspended. “I watched his run and he looked impressive winning his heat.” Pocket Of Terror is the $4 TAB Fixed Odds second favourite in the feature with the Kevin Pizzuto-trained Persimon the $2.60 elect. “Drawing barrier one would have been better but barrier two is the next best,” said Rixon. “It’s good to draw inside the main dangers. “It’s a strong race with a few winning chances . . . Kevin Pizzuto’s horse was impressive in his heat, Ashark copped a lot of heat and didn’t have the race run to suit but still won his heat well, you have to respect Benalong Valley from barrier one and The Bus off the back line goes well too.” The 56th Inter City Pace Final is scheduled for 9:45pm this Saturday.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

IT was an exciting night last Wednesday for trainer - driver partnership Mat and Gemma Rue with pacer Fouroeight winning at his first start back from an injury after almost 18 months between runs. Trained by Gemma and driven by her husband Mat, the six-year-old gelding proved too strong for his rivals sitting outside the leader for the majority of the race and running away to score comfortably in a final quarter of 27.3 seconds. Winning the Group 3 Gold Chalice Final in 2016 and running fourth in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Colts and Geldings Final as a three-year-old Fouroeight looked to have a promising career ahead of him. “We’ve always had a high opinion of him and we knew he would mature and get better with age,” Gemma said. After only finishing 6.7 metres off of the winner in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires and Geldings Final last year the gelding went for a well-deserved spell. Unfortunately, just before he was ready to return to racing Fouroeight injured himself in the paddock resulting in a fractured pelvis and tailbone which meant seven months’ recovery with no guarantee of him returning to the racetrack. “We spoke to many people about horses who have broken their pelvis, some make it back and some just don’t,” Gemma said. “We were lucky, but even with the all clear we were still unsure as to how he would cope due to his size. “After a slow preparation back to the track everything looks to be perfect and he seems to be better than ever”. Fouroeight is set to step out in the Group 2 Kriden Park Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting this Wednesday and has drawn barrier one. “The distance (2790 metres) will be a task but with a good run on the fence he could definitely be in the money.”   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

LEADING reinsman Chris Geary became the youngest driver in New South Wales to reach 500 winners. The 20-year-old has piloted 508 winners overall and achieved the 500-milestone last month. He is the second youngest driver to achieve the feat in Australia with Queensland’s Pete McMullen claiming the top honour at the age of 20 and three months while Geary was 20 years and 10 months old. “It’s something pretty special for me, more so that I’ve never really been the number one driver for a large stable,” said Geary. “In saying that, I’ve had great support from many stables and hope it continues into the future.” Geary has driven Group winners and won some of Australasia’s biggest races since he began driving in November 2013, including the Gold Tiara and the Len Smith Mile. It took him five drives to land his first winner and that was Western Gailes at Bankstown on December 7, 2013. “I’ve been fortunate to have been associated with some nice horses like My Sweetchilliphilly, Cruz Bromac, The Black Prince, Miss Streisand and many others,” said Geary. “But I’ve always really enjoyed the driving trips that I have been lucky enough to go on, meeting new people and travelling around Australia.” Geary will represent NSW in the upcoming Australasian Young Drivers Series that takes place in Queensland from November 22. As for NSW records, Lauren Tritton is the youngest female driver to reach 500 winners. Others such as Luke McCarthy, Amanda Turnbull, Robert Morris and Blake Fitzpatrick also sit amongst the top 10 youngest drivers in Australia when they reached the 500-win milestone.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER  HRNSW

HARNESS Racing New South Wales have developed a drought assistance scheme for trainers state-wide which comes into effect today (November 1). The scheme will see NSW licenced trainers receive $17.50 per starter each week to assist in the increased price of feed due to the drought. This will cover all horses drawn in fields, including emergencies, as well as starters in trials drawn into fields by HRNSW Handicappers. Payments will be made to trainers through the stakes run on a fortnightly basis. This assistance package will continue through until January 31 and will then be reviewed by the HRNSW Board. NEED TO KNOW: HRNSW will pay NSW licenced trainers $17.50 per horse per week based on horses drawn in fields (including emergencies) and starters in trials based only on horses nominated through HRNSW Handicappers. For sake of clarity a horse will be subsidised only once per week (Sunday to Saturday) not for multiple races and/or trials during that period. The assistance commences from November 1 through to January 31. There is no application required for this assistance. For more information, watch the latest Trots TV Drought Assistance Update.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES

GRAND Circuit winner Tiger Tara was crowned New South Wales Horse of the Year at tonight’s Arthur J. Gallagher Harness Racing NSW Awards Night at the Sofitel Sydney. Having received 66 per cent of the votes to be given this honour, Tiger Tara had a stellar 2017/18 season competing in Australasia’s most prestigious races. Harness Racing NSW would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of tonight’s award winners. Listed below are all of tonight’s award winners which were presented in front of a large crowd, hosted by Greg Hayes. HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS Arthur J. Gallagher NSW Horse of the Year: Tiger Tara Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old of the Year: Miss Halfpenny Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Muscle Factory Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: Miss Halfpenny Stablecraft NSW Two-Year-Old Trotter of the Year: Caligula KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old of the Year: Ignatius KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Ignatius KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: Art Series IntelliTek NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year: Drop The Hammer Club Menangle NSW Aged Horse of the Year: Tiger Tara  Club Menangle NSW Aged Entire/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Tiger Tara Club Menangle NSW Aged Mare Pacer of the Year: My Rona Gold Bulli HRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year: War Dan Destroyer Ladex Construction NSW Broodmare of the Year: Miss Brazillian Ladex Construction NSW Sire of the Year: For A Reason PARTICIPANT AWARDS TAB Kevin Newman Award For Driving Excellence: Anthony Winnell Daily Form Service Junior Trainer Encouragement Award: Melanie Elder Lexus of Parramatta Junior Driver Encouragement Award: Madi Young KARI Foundation Indigenous Participant of the Year: Royce Gregory-Jack Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Driver: Anthony Adams Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Trainer: Brett Woodhouse Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Trotting Trainer and Driver: Blake Fitzpatrick Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Junior Driver: Chris Geary Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Driver: Todd McCarthy Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Trainer: KerryAnn Turner Harness Breeders NSW – NSW Breeder of the Year: Colin and Cheryl McDowell Outstanding contribution to the Breeding Industry: Andrew Daniels NSW Owners Association NSW Owner of the Year: Brett Woodhouse, Sally Woodhouse, Shane Felke Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle First Lady Award: Emma Stewart Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Driver: Todd McCarthy Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Trainer: Shane and Lauren Tritton DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS HRNSW Don Clough Award: Ray Mawhood and John Brien HRNSW Industry Contribution Award: Jim Bell HRNSW Club Volunteer Awards: Arthur Yates (Tamworth HRC), Gary Punch (Leeton HRC), Pauline Read (Bankstown HRC), Peter Dennis (Coolamon HRC), Peter Muller (Bathurst HRC), Wendy Dennis (Coolamon HRC). TABCORP CLUB AWARDS Best Community Engagement Club: Broken Hill HRC Best Fraternity Engagement Club: Coolamon HRC Best New Innovation Club (Promotion/Marketing): Tamworth HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $50,000: Eugowra HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $25,000: Albury HRC Best Club with a feature to race to a maximum of $14,000: Leeton HRC Best Club with a feature to a maximum of $12,000: Cowra HRC   AMANDA RANDO HRNSW MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

TEAM Teal fundraising will start early with the Trotters Association of New South Wales donating funds from their Awards Night on October 12 to the cause. Taking place at the Penrith Paceway Members Lounge, the TANSW have also secured ‘Mr Team Teal’ himself, Duncan McPherson OAM, for their ‘On The Couch’ interview of the night. McPherson, a trotting enthusiast, founded the Team Teal campaign and TANSW Vice President Troy Williams is looking forward to having such a guest. “Duncan is so passionate about trotting,” Williams said. “Our Awards Night is teal themed and we will have raffles on the night with 50 per cent pf the profits going to Team Teal.” Some of the raffle prizes include a set of colours by Hyland Sportswear, Garrards vouchers and more. The night will also celebrate the trotting achievements in NSW from the 2017/18 season with the NSW Two-Year-Old of the Year, Three-Year-Old of the Year, Trotting Mare of the Year, Open Class Trotter of the Year as well as the Trotting Trainer and Trotting Driver of the Year. For more information about the TANSW Awards Night please contact Flora Robson on 0412121275 or Troy Williams on 0409264602. Tickets are $90 which includes beverages, dinner and entertainment.   Amanda Rando HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT

HE is currently one of the most inform drivers in Sydney and Cameron Hart is hoping to start the new season in style at Menangle on Saturday night. The 19-year-old has one of the key drives in the Group 3 Free-For-All (2300m) on Loorrim Creek which Hart is hoping will catapult him into success. Have shared a Group victory at Menangle last month, Hart is confident Loorrim Creek will run another good race. “I was really happy with his fourth last week,” said Hart. “He did it well and his sectionals were really strong. “He keeps delivering in this grade and has come through last week’s run well and I’m expecting another good run from him.” Loorrim Creek has raced over the mile distance his last five starts and Hart believes the step up in distance should suit the seven-year-old. “When we first got him we thought he would be better over a bit of distance,” said Hart. “He’s been quite versatile which is good but looking forward to racing him over the longer trip again.” Following the scratchings of some of the fancies in Tiger Tara and Ultimate Art, Loorrim Creek is the $6 TAB Fixed Odds second favourite with My Alpha Rock (Lauren Tritton) the favourite at $1.35. Loorrim Creek will carry the number eight saddlecloth while My Alpha Rock will carry number 10. “I’ll probably have to drive him quiet from the draw,” said Hart. “The few scratchings have helped too.” Hart won six races on Loorrim Creek last season including the Group 3 Race Against The Drought FFA beating Tiger Tara. A win on Saturday night will push Loorrim Creek’s earnings past $100,000. Others Hart won on last season that he believes will go well tonight include Lucky Artist and Im Smoocha. Both pacers as well as Loorrim Creek are trained by former Queensland mentor Shane Sanderson who is now based at the Menangle Park Training Centre and whom Hart drives trackwork for. “We’re having a really good run at the moment,” said Hart. Hart has steered 79 winners in the 2017/18 season. Meanwhile, all horses carrying the six saddlecloth at Menangle during September will sport bright green ‘Race Against Drought’ colours. For every win in these colours, Club Menangle will donate $500 towards farmers in need through ‘Buy A Bale’ and the ‘Dilly Drought Drive’ campaigns. AMANDA RANDO HRNSW

GRAND Circuit pacer Tiger Tara will not race in Saturday night’s Group 3 Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The $1.3million earner was involved in a car and float accident on Tuesday morning and has been ruled out of the feature. Tiger Tara was lucky to escape any serious injury, however, Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman of Stewards Grant Adams said the stallion will be stood down from racing for seven days. “The veterinary report following the accident revealed that the horses involved had sustained some bruising around their heads and as a precaution, were recommended to be stood down from racing for a period of seven days and until a further veterinarian clearance is submitted,” said Adams. Tiger Tara was with three other stablemates in Jakes Sportswriter, Courageous Becqui and Pass The Speights, when the float they were traveling in was hit by an oncoming car and pushed into a tree. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto was driving the car while stablehand Karen Crouch was also in the vehicle. Pizzuto escaped with some bruising and Crouch is nursing three broken ribs. “I hit my head on the windscreen and am sore and bruised but okay,” said Pizzuto. “Karen has broken ribs and a nasty cut to her head. “When we got out of the truck and I realised no people had died my concern went straight to the horses. “Thankfully they are all fine.” On track, Pizzuto is experiencing one of his best seasons to date having trained 96 winners for the term. Last season was Pizzuto’s best result training 115 winners, however, his starters this season have earned more prizemoney than what they earned last term. This is largely due to Pizzuto’s success with the likes of Tiger Tara, Cruz Bromac and Majordan. Pizzuto’s main stable driver Todd McCarthy has also relished off this success. McCarthy has already taken out the NSW Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership for the 2017/18 season and is on track to also take out the State Drivers’ Premiership. “I’d have to say my two highlights this season was getting that fast time with Maori Time at Menangle and that fast win I had on Tiger Tara in the Canadian Club Sprint where he beat Lazarus,” said McCarthy. Despite spending time in Europe this season when driving Maori Time in the Elitloppet in Sweden, McCarthy has driven 166 winners this season with just Thursday night’s Penrith meeting and Friday night’s Bankstown meeting the last two NSW meetings for this term.   Amanda Rando AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HRNSW

TRAINER-driver James Rattray is optimistic about drawing the second row with his star pacer Ignatius in Saturday night’s Group 1 Breeders Crown Final at Melton, Victoria. Ignatius will start from barrier 10 and it will be the fourth time in his 18-start career that he will begin from the back line. “I don’t think it’s the worst draw,” said Rattray. “It makes the race interesting because some of the others have drawn a bit tricky as well.” Ignatius holds the favouritism to win the $195,000 epic battle despite facing the second defeat of his career in the semi-final last weekend. The three-year-old is currently ranked as the $3 TAB Fixed Odds favourite to win over the likes of Poster Boy ($4.20), Ride High ($4.50) and Colt Thirty One ($5). “Colt Thirty One has drawn well and looks like one of the main dangers with the draw,” said Rattray. “Poster Boy and Ride High are the other main dangers and they have drawn the second row too. “It makes for an interesting race and my tactics will just depend on how the race is run. “Ignatius is pretty versatile.” Ignatius was defeated by Poster Boy in last Saturday’s qualifier at Bendigo. After being forced to do the work outside the leader, Ignatius was only beaten a head in track recording-breaking time. The mile rate for the 2150m event was of 1:54.2. “He took no ill effects from that run . . . he has been bright and sharp ever since,” said Rattray. “His work has been good as well. “He hasn’t had a race like that for a long time so it was a bit of a wake up for him. “It was a huge run from him considering he sat parked and they broke the track record and he kept fighting to the line. “He has such a high cruising speed, I knew we were running along but it didn’t feel like it was in track record time. “He is so versatile and can do all the work and he’s come from behind to win before, like when he won the Breeders Challenge as a two-year-old, so we have options.” Ignatius won 13 races in a row before his recent second-placed effort. The son of Roll With Joe has won 16 races and has pocketed $283,134 in prizemoney.   Amanda Rando

THEY have all had a taste of winning a premiership before and drivers Luke McCarthy, Todd McCarthy and Lauren Tritton are all going head-to-head at Menangle on Saturday night to try and claim another. The trio have dominated the metropolitan driving ranks for the past six seasons and this term is no different. With only one win separating the three of them and Saturday night marking the last metropolitan meeting for the season, any win will be vital for the top drivers to claim New South Wales’ Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership for 2017/18. Seasoned reinsman Luke McCarthy is leading the charge on 40 wins while Todd McCarthy and Lauren Tritton are close behind in equal second with 39 wins each. “It’s pretty good that it’s still so close considering we’ve all had some time away this season,” said Luke. “It certainly makes it interesting.” Having won this Premiership twice before and tied with his younger brother Todd in the 2014/15 season, Luke knows what it takes to lead the charge. The 35-year-old reinsman has seven drives on Saturday night and so does Todd while Lauren, the 2013/14 Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership winner, has five. And one of the best chances he believes he has this Saturday night is War Dan Destroyer in Race Nine. Luke has driven the trotter 14 times to nine victories and three placings. “War Dan Destroyer is going well and does well in these sorts of races,” said Luke. “This race suits his style of racing.” Luke has also been assigned the drive on War Dan Destroyer’s stablemate Mister Brazil in Race Two. “Mister Brazil has been racing well and has a good chance,” said Luke. “Out of my other drives, Epaulette (Race One) drops back from free-for-all class and with scratching of Shannonsablast he should go close. “Also I’m driving Izzy Dagg for Tim But in the two-year-old (Race Eight) and on paper looks reasonably good.” The Garrards Ready2Run Stakes (1609m) is one of the main features on Saturday night and Lauren will drive the favourite Petes Big Jim. The gelding is resuming from his third-placed effort in the Vicbred Super Series Final last month and recently won a trial at Menangle in 1:53.2 – almost four seconds faster than any winning time he has rated before. Meanwhile, the other feature is the Group 3 Vic Frost Cup where Todd’s drive, Tiger Tara, is the $2.60 TAB Fixed Odds favourite. Lauren will drive My Alpha Rock ($4.80) in that event while Luke is assigned to Cash N Flow ($4.80).   Amanda Rando

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