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POSSIBLE has become probable for Tim Butt’s surprise NZ Cup plans for new stable addition Bettermatch. Butt had been so impressed with the former star juvenile’s trackwork, he dared to telegraph a possible NZ Cup raid before Bettermatch had raced for him. And those who watched the now five-year-old blast home in a flying 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle yesterday (Tuesday) could clearly see why Butt is thinking such lofty thoughts. Bettermatch was the lone back row runner and settled worse than midfield in the running line, but was helped when the leader, Heza Bromac, blazed through a 55.1sec first half. Things got hairy coming to the home bend when driver Chris Geary was dragged back behind a tiring horse and lost a couple of lengths coming three-wide. Bettermatch copped another check and lost momentum at the top of the home straight, but Geary picked him back up and surged past the leaders for a powerhouse win. “It was a big win to overcome a few things in and run, give them such a big start and run that time,” Butt said. Butt immediately turned his thoughts to a path to the NZ Cup. “We’ve got a nice program planned,” he said. “There’s another race for him next Tuesday, then an M0 on October 6 over 2300m, which really suit him and he should be getting to peak fitness by then. “That M0 will let me know if he’s up to an NZ Cup and, if so, we have the Ashburton Flying Stakes on October 22, which is three weeks out from the Cup. “I think it’s a perfect preparation if he’s up to them.” Bettermatch was sidelined for three years with injury after his stellar juvenile season and returned with four wins and a third from five start for Riverina trainer Colin Thomas. Butt then bought the entire and was immediately impressed. Bettermatch’s win headlined a fascinating Menangle mid-week meeting where former top class Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson sparkled in a trial for Shane and Lauren Tritton. Franco Nelson, who hasn’t raced since finishing down the track in the Len Smith Mile, won his trial by 16m in a 1min52.8sec mile and blasted home in 54.0 and 27.0sec. The trial was enough for Team Tritton to put the Victoria Cup back as a genuine possibility. They already have the in-form My Alpha Rock and last week’s sparkling Menangle win winner Gotta Go Ya Hu being set for the Victoria Cup. My Alpha Rock (gate 10) is shooting for his fifth successive Menangle win, but faces another step-up against the likes of proven open-class stars Tiger Tara (gate 11) and Mach Doro (gate seven). They clash in the Health Foundation Cup (1609m) at Menangle on Saturday night.   Adam Hamilton

Mark and Ben Yole stormed to the top of the Drivers and Trainers Premiership with four winners apiece at the Hobart Pacing Club meeting on Sunday night. Mark drove four winners from seven drives to lead Rohan Hillier by one after the second meeting of the season while Ben took up his customary position at the head of the trainers table, four wins clear of his rivals after preparing Im Barney Rubble ($4.80), Pushkin ($18), Long Ago ($26) and Gems ($7.50) for victory. Mark began his night’s work in a blaze of glory steering home the first three winners on the card. “Everything fell into place for Im Barney Rubble in the first, he turned in a huge run last week when he made up almost 100 metres on the field after a scrimmage at the start and ran second to Smilin Geoff, so I was confident he would perform well and when the favourite The Aussie galloped out I went hard and kept the pressure on until the 1200, when I looked back and saw The Aussie had been pulled out of it I dropped the anchor out and just dictated terms from there, he won with plenty up his sleeve,” said Mark. “Alta Surreal (pictured) let down really well and hit the line strongly knocking off the favourite Albayzin and then Pushkin got a soft run behind the leader before we hooked out at the top of the stretch and got home over the top of them to win by a short half head.” Just when most punters thought Mark’s winning run was over he popped up in the last to complete a winning double for Flowery Gully trainer Ken Rattray . “El Jay’s Monet can be a little wayward on the home turn in Hobart so I was happy to sit up in the death outside the popular pick Monarkmac,” said Mark. “I thought Conor drove a gem of a race on the leader but El Jays Monet was in for the fight and got the upperhand in the last stride to win by the narrowest of margins, it’s the first time I’ve driven four winners so it was a great thrill.” Hannah van Dongen is off to a flying start in the defence of her first Leading Female Driver title, piloting home two winners on the card. Hannah clinched the 2017/18 title with a total of 10 wins and has already achieved 20% of last season’s tally. Long Ago provided Hannah with her first success toppling the favourite Goggo Gee Gee ($3.40) by 1.5-metres before scoring a runaway victory with the Bianca Heenan-trained Twenty Two Karat ($7.00). Bianca went to the top of the Leading Female trainers table after also successfully preparing her seven-year-old gelding Alta Surreal in the Lenny The Shark Pace. Ken Rattray joined in the celebrations for the night landing a winning double with All Over The Stars ($5.50) saluting in the TPC Life Members Trot and El Jay’s Monet which wore down the odds-on favourite Monarkmacto win by a short half head. Marc Butler and Ricky Duggan gave punters some much-needed relief landing the only favourite for the night in race four with Adele Said ($3.20). Shane Yates

Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby

Victorian trainer John Meade flew out to the USA on Sunday night thinking what could have been with his stable star Sparkling Success.  Meade was forced to withdraw Sparkling Success from next month’s US $1 million International Trot last Monday after scans confirmed the gelding had a hole in his suspensory. The couple decided to still make the trip to America without the horse after the months of planning and preparation that had gone into their once in a lifetime opportunity. “If the Yonkers track is what I think they are, I think they’ll look after us pretty well when we get to the track because I haven’t ripped anyone off,” John Meade said. “I did the right thing by Yonkers, it wasn’t my money I was spending going to America, it was someone else’s money. “You can’t rip someone off for $70,000 and not give them some miles, if the race had been next week we would have probably raced him but there was so much work he needed to do between now and the big race that it was only right to scratch him.” Sparkling Success is set to spend more than 12 months on the sideline recovering from the injury and Meade is looking forward to getting him back to the races. “The vet said the hole is contained within the suspensory, it hasn’t blown the side out of it. “He had platelet-rich plasma treatment last Thursday and I have had it done on my old horse Crescent Glory with great success but in saying that Sparkling Success is still going to need rehabilitation, six months in the paddock, then a bit of light work and then I just hope for the best.” The son of Great Success has suffered from leg injuries in the past but Meade confirmed this was a new injury. “It is definitely not the problem he had after winning the Vicbred as a 4-year-old, that was on the other leg. “His front feet stick out past his nose when he is trotting at top speed, the entire breed does it, and that puts immense pressure on the tendons and suspensory but do you want a horse that does that and can win races or have a slow horse that struggles to win.” Meade noticed there was some slight filling on the suspensory in the lead up to his last run in Australia and hoped it was nothing too serious. “I thought it might have been dermatitis he picked up from boot rub and I treated him for that and on the night of his last run when I put his shin boots on he felt really good and he raced really well. “When I got home after the race I treated his leg and the next morning it looked good and he wasn’t sore but I just had a gut feeling something wasn’t right so I asked the vet to scan his leg and that’s when we got the bad news.” Sparkling Success has won 17 of his 37 starts and earned $420,170 in his career. Greg Hayes

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will restrict all C0 class races in Victoria from November 1 to four-year-old and older pacers. The programming adjustment follows analysis of open-age C0 races in the 2017-18 season, which revealed: From 162 races run, 74 comprised one or more 3YO starters (45.68%) Of those 74 races, 52 were won by a 3YO (70.27%) A 3YO started favourite in 62 of those 74 races (83.78%), winning on 42 occasions (67.74%) Of those 42 wins, 36 were odds-on favourites (85.71%), while 30 were $1.40 or shorter (71.43%) “The data clearly showed that the practice of three-year-old pacers competing in, and more often than not, winning open-age C0 races is detrimental to our racing product from a wagering perspective,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “It also shows that it is difficult for a four-year-old and older horse to win a C0 race, which obviously makes it harder for owners and trainers to keep that horse on the racetrack.” The change means that a three-year-old pacer having won two three-year-old races – thus being assessed as a C0/3C2 – will now be required to have its first open-age start in a C1 race. Under the Australian Handicapping Rules, a horse only incurs one career penalty for a win. Therefore a C0/3C2 pacer will become a C1/3C3 pacer after winning its first C1 class race. Such horse will remain eligible to again contest a C1 class race, now as a C1/3C3 pacer. Effectively, a three-year-old pacer will not be adversely affected, as it will still be able to win four races and be assessed C2/3C4, now in most cases by winning two three-year-old races and two C1 class races, whereas in previous seasons it will have won two three-year-old races, a C0 class race and a C1 class race. The analysis also highlighted that 22 open-age C0 only races were deleted, 18 of which contained one or more three-year-old nomination. “This amendment will provide more competitive racing in the four-year-old and older C0 races and will enhance the prospects of four-year-old horses winning their $7000 Vicbred First Win Bonus,” Mr Bell said. “It will also assist five-year-old and older horses winning their $3500 Vicbred First Win Bonus.”   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA ur privacy policy can be accessed from our web site:

New Zealand harness racing leaders fall asleep at the switch!  There have been times, not many, in the 50 years or so that I’ve been associated with harness racing that I’ve had to admit to being ashamed of the sport I love, and the actions of figures central to it. This is one of those few times - but the shame is not because of the Operation Inca allegations! Rather it is because of the sterile and cowardly way our industry leaders are invisibly handling the controversy. Our leaders represent all harness racing participants; those now accused no less than the rest of us! Until complete facts come out, defences are heard, and decisions rendered, it is their job and moral responsibility to address the situation with delicacy but with reason, fairness, an open mind, and decency. While they must await judgement until all the facts are in, they should not stay silent and through their inaction facilitate both the general misrepresentation of the scandal’s scope and relevancy being blithely projected by police investigators and journalists, and allow individual reputations to be ruined by mere assertions. Arguably, a temporary stand down of the accused pending more information may be wise, but it should be clearly explained as a necessary self-protective gesture for an industry reliant on its image of integrity. It should be clearly said to be completely unrelated to any belief in individual innocence or guilt.  There has been no leadership voice protecting either the accused or the industry, itself, by slowing down public preconceptions, by reminding everyone of the foundation policy of innocence until guilt is proven, of clarifying the fact that police assertions to date do NOT present a picture of a scandal ridden, conspiratorial industry rife with corruption. The day of the hearing (11th of September) was interesting in that the Judge Raoul Neave was highly critical of the police for briefing the media before the hearing and he was also disapproving of the media for publishing the names of several individuals before the hearing took place. The counsel for some of the accused persons attacked the media for naming people early saying their clients have been effectively denied a right to fair trial. The next few sessions in court will possibly start to unlock the vault to see if we are really dealing with concrete evidence in some of these match fixing cases or just hearsay as has been rumoured by some. "Perhaps I am wrong perhaps I am right but I will be particularly interested to hear the evidence put forward by the police in this matter because after 18 months of investigations the more I keep hearing the more I keep thinking the police may have a lot of conspiracy theories to go on and not much else." The charges to date seem merely to throw a spotlight on what appears to be a sad proliferation of party drugs amongst some industry participants, including drivers who should be more aware of the increased potential for harm it creates in their workplace, and suggest that in a few minor races there might have been race fixing. While horrible, and deflating to affected punters, occasional race-fixing has always been assumed in thoroughbred, Greyhounds and harness racing and more recently many other first-past-the-post sports. Coordinated, endemic, large scale race fixing would, indeed, be a scandal that could bring down racing - but charges to date don’t come close to suggesting that exists! As Mark Purdon suggested in his article on his All-Stars site there is no reason to believe in an industry wide conspiracy to fix or drug race horses. Our industry leaders have done nothing to keep this asserted, self-pronounced “scandal” in perspective, a job they should be performing on a daily basis in protection of our industry! No one is asking publically what most of us are questioning privately - namely, why has this scandal been asserted by authorities now? Why a week or so after the “Messara” report, why after 15 to 18 months of investigation? This smells more like a conspiracy to harm harness racing by The Racing Minister and The Government! After attending the “Messara” report release in Hamilton (Attended by over 1,000 people from the three Codes) and watching first-hand how our harness racing bosses sat quiet throughout the public meeting in Hamilton, without a whimper, and their lack of public response to it, you have to wonder how the Harness Racing Industry is to survive much longer! It seems to me that harness racing administrators and leaders have no idea what to do next! One thing I do know is that they certainly know how to protect their jobs! As a previous Racing Minister (Mr John Carter) once told me, the only way Harness Racing in New Zealand has a chance to survive is through its own actions period. The Industry needs to replace the out-dated Club structure of running the Industry, as this has a proven record of taking the entire Industry down the slippery slope towards extinction. Now, what exactly triggered the start of this Operation Inca investigation? According to Newshub “The investigation was sparked by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), which tipped off police with information of the alleged illegal activity“. Well, let us look at this “Integrity Unit”. It was formed on the 1st of February 2011. How was it formed? What was it formed for? Who formed it? Who employed the people running it?  Who checks them? Does it have its own internal Integrity for self investigation? Does any outside entity has supervisory authority with respecting RIU integrity? Who investigates the Investigators? Who runs the Integrity Unit? What is their background? Let us check each and every member’s credentials. Let us look at their background. Some of their decisions over the last few years have been very questionable. Let us see if there are any indiscretions with each and every one that works there. Does the management have any untoward vendettas against any of the Codes? Does the management have any personal vendettas against any individual? Is management competent enough to make its own decisions? After all it is ‘The Racing Integrity Unit” isn’t it? And regardless of how wonderful any of these members may be, including the head, shouldn’t they be required to stand down and be replaced on a staggered base to ensure both continuity and real maintenance as investigative integrity? There should be an absolute term limit of no more than six years for all employees and maybe four years for the head. What did racing’s investigative arm see 15 to 18 months ago that started all this? Would claims of race-fixing at Nelson or Manawatu justify a 15 to 18 month effort? In my opinion probably not! Presumably whatever it was did not end up being actionable at that time because all asserted race-fixing charges seem to point to specific incidents that are quite recent! Shouldn’t the Racing Integrity Unit now disclose what worried it 15 to 18 months ago to the point of getting a police investigation started? After all, they are answerable to the three Codes! Shouldn’t we be the slightest bit concerned that human, political, business pressures are pushing the police to find corruption, and to overpublicize and overstate the importance of their discoveries, to retrospectively justify and support their expenses, time, manpower and effort expended over 15 to 18 months of industry investigation? A massive race fixing and drugging problem linked to harness racing sells papers and justifies expenses. Arresting a few prominent individuals for drug possession, personal drug use, or selling of drugs for personal use would not! Why have the police conveniently presented charges in such a way that misinterpretation is so easy? Many just read headlines and probably assume that the charges relate to drug use on horses connected to race fixing. It is just incredible that industry leaders have not jumped to clarify this point!  Are the bosses at Harness Racing New Zealand complicit with the Racing Integrity Unit? When speaking to Harness Racing Chairman Ken Spicer today, he says "HRNZ were completely blindsided by last week’s police operation. “We had no knowledge that an investigation was going on”. HRNZ has sought more information and a briefing, but at this stage had no communication from the Police and very limited communication from the RIU. “The Industry’s image has been severely damaged by this, but we just have to follow due process and see where all this goes”. HRNZ made enquiries to the RIU when there was a suggestion from media back in February 2017 that an investigation had started, but consistent with RIU policy they would not comment on operational matters. HRNZ is the responsible for setting the rules of Harness Racing, with the RIU charged with enforcing those rules." In my opinion HRNZ needs to be vocal in protecting the due process of the defendants and the good name of harness racing. HRNZ needs to respect the principles of due process, but those principles do not require that HRNZ be silient or unable to speak on the issue to safe guard individual rights and the Industry's image. From its inception the general manager of the Racing Integrity Unit has been Mike Godber, who is an ex chief executive of harness racing Addington Raceway, ex chief executive of Harness Racing Queensland and was CEO of South Australian Harness Racing before taking the current job. How did he get this job? This should be investigated. What was his reason for leaving those previous harness racing jobs? In my view this man has a lot to answer for! What is wrong with our Harness Racing Leaders? Again, how was this Racing Integrity Unit formed? I can understand having a “Racing Integrity Unit” for Harness Racing but a combined one with the Greyhounds and Thoroughbreds is ridiculous. They are three separate Industries with NO relationship except Gambling. Can you imagine now that Sports Betting is a component of the TAB’s Gambling in New Zealand that for Integrity issues in the Sport we should now combine “Netball with Cricket and Soccer” in one Integrity Unit or “The All Blacks with Cycling and Rugby League” in another Integrity Unit, That is how ridiculous this has become. The “New Zealand Racing Board” has a lot to answer for too, but I will leave that for my next report. I write this editorial not to defend the accused in Operation Inca, but to defend our industry from scurrilous attack when others who should do so, are not! We must defend it with vigilance and fairness. And we must defend the accused from prejudice and premature characterizations until we force clear presentations of evidence! We still have every reason to love our sport but we and industry leaders must prove it every day by fighting for our sport with vigour, integrity and courage. John Curtin Harnesslink Media

YOU can rule-out the Victoria Cup and the Inter Dominion is very much touch-and-go with sidelined superstar Hectorjayjay. It’s not that anything has gone wrong, more the rehabilitation process new trainer Matt Craven is putting him through. “It will be a very fine line for the Inter Dominion. Any little setback and it will be off the cards, I’d say,” Craven said. “I’d say at the start of November I’d know either way for sure. “Ultimately there’s no point pushing him too for the Inter unless we’re sure he’ll be ready. There are lots of good races after Christmas. “He’s been jogging well and doing his beach work. He’d got another three weeks or so of that before we’d step him up.” Hectorjayjay has raced just once since his barnstorming Group 1 Blacks A Fake win at Albion Park on July 15, last year. That one run was his comeback win for Gavin Lang at Kilmore on June 30, this year when he was found to have sustained another injury soon after. ________________________________________________________________________________ AWFUL news late last week with an injury to one of Australia’s most exciting pacers The Storm Inside. It’s the second major injury setback for the five-year-old, who boasts 11 wins and a second from just 12 starts. Trainer Emma Stewart confirmed The Storm Inside had suffered a fractured hind leg and would be sidelined for four to six months. The son of Rocknroll Hanover had surgery last Sunday and Stewart said all signs indicated it had been successful. The Storm Inside burst onto the scene winning all six starts as a juvenile, including the Australian Gold final. He posted 11 successive wins before being beaten for the first time, but smashing the clock in the process, when second to Wrappers Delight in the Breeders Crown 4YO final at his latest run on August 25. ________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton declared Gotta Go Ya Hu one of his Inter Dominion horses during the week and he duly resumed from a freshen-up with a sparkling win. The five-year-old could not have been more impressive, launching with a last-to-first Menangle win in a 1min51.1sec mile. Gotta Go Ya Hu thrives on being saved for one big, late run and this time he reeled-off his own last half in 54.2sec out three, four and five wide a times to gun down a gallant leader Epaulette. “That’s his go, sitting back and having the last go at them. It leaves him vulnerable if the race isn’t run to suit, but it; the way to drive him,” Tritton said, Gotta Go Ya Hu, the in-form My Alpha Rock and Franco Nelson – who trials at Menangle on Tuesday – are Team Tritton’s three major Inter Dominion hopefuls. “Gotta Go Ya Hu and My Alpha Rock will have a crack at the Victoria Cup as well,” Shane Tritton said. Another impressive Menangle winner last night was Amanda Turnbull’s emerging five-year-old Ellmers Image, who, despite doing the work outside the leader from a wide draw, won strongly in a 1min50.7sec mile. Turnbull had to be content with second in the Menangle feature when Eye See Diamonds chased home in the in-form Village Witch in the Group 3 Adore Me Stakes for mares. ________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S steep climb in a short time, but exciting former Kiwi pacer Diamonds N Cash could tackle the Inter Dominion. The four-year-old didn’t win by much, but did smash the clock with a 54.2sec last half – after sitting parked – at Ballarat last Friday night. It was his third win from six starts since being bought from NZ by Norm Jenkin for trainers Andy and Kate Gath. The best pointer to his potential was his fifth in that super strong Breeders Crown 3YO final won by Ride High. “He’s just kept improving since,” Kate Gath said. “He’s going through his grades at the moment, but the Inter Dominion is here in our backyard so we’ll obviously consider it if he keeps winning.” The Gaths also snared a winning double at Melton last night (Saturday) with former Kiwi pair Three Ways and Star Of Memphis. Three Ways, who finished second to Lazarus in the Victoria Derby at three, has fluctuated form since, but looked good winning the free-for-all at Melton. Things are about to get busier for the Gath’s with their star trotter Tornado Valley nearing a racetrack return and being set for two runs, including the Dominion Trot, during NZ Cup Week. ________________________________________________________________________________ A PATIENT Gary Hall Jr drive helped the emerging Runrunjimmdunn overpower his main rival Vampiro to win the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Vampiro sat outside the leader, Tricky Styx, in a slowly run race, put paid to him down the back in a 28.4sec split, but Runrunjimmydunn stormed home from last in the small five horse field to win by 1.9m in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2130m. It reversed the result of their previous clash when Vampiro stalked Runrunjimmydunn and beat him. Chicago Bull is the obviously standout in Australia let alone WA, but outside of him Vampiro and Runrunjimmydunn are the emerging stars of Perth’s open-class ranks. Chicago Bull is due to return from a freshen-up in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park next Friday night. The plan is two lead-up runs in Perth ahead of the Victoria Cup at Melton on October 13 then across to Auckland for a lead-up race on his way to the NZ Cup. Former All Stars’ pacer Motu Premier broke a long drought from the winner’s circle with an impressive display at Gloucester Park and he looks another major open class player. It was a big effort to sir parked outside the emerging Speed Man and out-tough him a slick 1min57.6sec mile rate for the longer 2536m trip. Motu Premier had gone winless in 17 starts since scoring at Gloucester Park on October 13, last year. ________________________________________________________________________________ COMEBACK trotter Maori Law continues to build towards his Inter Dominion bid. Trained by Bill Morgan and raced by Fred Crews, who races Maori Time, Maori Law won as he liked again at Melton in a slick 1min58.7sec mile rate for 2240m last night (Saturday). Maori Time has 13 months out with injury, resumed with a couple of strong placings and has now won his past two. His career record is 18 starts for 14 wins and four placings. ________________________________________________________________________________ IT was siring double for Art Major in the two Group 2 Vicbred Home Grown finals at Melton last night. Trained David Aiken teamed with driver Kima Frenning to win the colts and geldings final with Malcolms Rhythm (Art Major-She’s Got It All) in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 1720m. The fillies’ final went to Izzy Jolie (Art Major-Dee Jay Jolie) for trainer David Miles and driver Greg Sugars in a 1min58sec mile rate.   Adam Hamilton

TIM Butt is planning a trip back home for the NZ Cup and it won’t be just to catch-up with old friends and family. Butt revealed he is seriously thinking about tackling the Cup with new stable addition Bettermatch, who has his first for the trainer in a ho-hum midweek race at Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday). When Bettermatch appeared in NZ Cup nominations a few weeks back, he hardly rated a mention. The former star juvenile won the Leeton Breeders Plate and NSW Saplings Stakes in his freshman season for trainer Colin Thomas before spending three years on the sidelines with injury. He has returned with four impressive wins from five starts this campaign, including his farewell run for Thomas in the Country Series final at Menangle on August 25 where he won in terrific style. “I really like him,” Butt said. “He feels like a very good stayer. We hope to go if he keeps improving like he feels as though he will. “It’s the year to have a go. Chicago Bull is the one to beat and Ultimate Machete if he’s right, but it’s a thin lot that’s for sure. “Put it this way, on what Bettermatch is doing at home, he’s up to those who horses who ran in the main race at Addington last Friday.” Bettermatch is the lone back row runner (gate 11) in the sixth race at Menangle at 7.07pm NZ time tomorrow (Tuesday). In other stable news, Butt has ruled-out the Victoria Cup with his sparkling Blacks A Fake winner Let it Ride. “It was always unlikely. We wanted to give him a good break after Queensland,” he said. “He won’t be ready and the Inter Dominion is his first target.” And Butt’s Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal will return to training at he end of the month, but the Inter Dominion is not on the agenda. “He’s not an Inter Dom horse. We’ll bring up with a view to returning to racing around Christmas time,” Butt said.   Adam Hamilton

If Jimmy Takter was disappointed by Lazarus's shock defeat in Canada yesterday he was hiding it well. The champion former Kiwi pacer had to settle for second in a C$34,000 ($40,000) free-for-all at Woodbine in Toronto, closing from fourth to second at the top of the straight but easily beaten by Nirvana Seelster. Nirvana Seelster could manage only eighth in the Canadian Pacing Derby that Lazarus finished second in two weeks so after winning fresh up in North America three starts ago, Lazarus could appear to be tracking in the wrong direction. But Takter, the Hall of Fame trainer entrusted with the millionaire stallion, says he was happy enough with the performance in the 1:48.2 mile. "Obviously we would have liked to win but it is not that easy against these horses over a fast mile," said Takter. "We found out he had a virus after the Canadian Derby so he missed some work coming into this race which is why we decided to drive him further back rather than sending him down the road [leading]. "So for him to come from fourth to run second and pace his last half mile in 53.2 seconds was good. "And he will improve with that. All the mile races he can have will help." Lazarus will now head to the US$175,000 ($267,000) Hoosier Park Derby in Indiana on Friday (Saturday afternoon NZ time), the track where he won the Dan Patch in his first US start last month. The irony for Lazarus is had he started out with a performance like yesterday's in his first North American start, progressed to a second in the Canadian Derby and won the Dan Patch he would now be rated the best pacer in North America. But the expectations created by his magic mile fresh up in the Dan Patch last month mean that anything but a Lazarus win will be judged a failure by most racing fans. The six-year-old gets the chance to win them back over before the week is out. Safely through the Hoosier Park race Lazarus is still a chance to head to the super fast Red Mile in Kentucky in three weeks to chase a career best time.   Michael Guerin

HAVING enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 season, Australian Pacing Gold purchases are ready for the new round of majors. Lead by Shez All Rock, APG stars captured an incredible 21 Group Ones last term. Making her debut at the beginning of the season, Shez All Rock became the southern hemisphere’s premier three-year-old filly by annexing four Group Ones. An $11,000 Melbourne buy, Shez All Rock boasts an impeccable record of 10 wins and a second from 11 starts for earnings of $426,350. Along with the top shelf wins, APG graduates secured 17 Group Twos. With the first pair of Group Twos of 2018/19 scheduled to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, APG stock are again among the contenders. Successful in their heats, Malcolms Rhythm and Zoliver will be joined in the colts’ and geldings’ division of the Home Grown Classic by Catch A Moment and Explicit Castle, Malcolms Rhythm is the $2 favourite for trainer David Aiken from barrier four. In the fillies’ Final APG buys Divine Diva, Posh Accent, Siedra Caleb, Tiger Storm and Tina Calls will battle for bragging rights. Winner of her heat, Tiger Storm is the leading candidate of the quintet despite drawing the second row.   APG Media

Favourite punters will be placing their faith in Ricky Duggan tonight in Hobart as the master reinsman partners the popular pick in the first four races on the action-packed nine-event card. Duggan’s shortest conveyance for the night is in the opener, the Hurricane Kingcole Pace over 2090-metres. “The Aussie put up a top performance last week in Launceston at his first run in top company, we got shuffled back when something went amiss with Taurisi and he dropped out I went from having a bag full of royal chocolates to boiled lollies in a heartbeat,” said Ricky. “We had to go back and then make our move and he did a mighty job to make up the ground he did, only going down three or four metres (3.6 metres) to Illegal Immigrant and Star Chamber.” The Juanita McKenzie-trained Art Major – The Kindly One five-year-old bay horse has won seven of 21 starts and comes off of a sensational season that resulted in six wins and nine placing from 20 outings, the Hall Of Fame driver was full of praise for the trainer’s efforts. “Juanita has prepared and placed him perfectly and he keeps stepping up to the plate, he has drawn two tonight and looks the one to beat although Fortino and Im Barney Rubble are always dangers but they are coming off ten metres.” Duggan steers the stable-mate Laredo Torpedo in race three the Grinfromeartoear Pace over 1609-metres. “Laredo Torpedo bombed the start hopelessly on debut in Tasmania a fortnight ago but that was from the stand, tonight he goes back to the mobile and although not well drawn in the middle of the second row he will take some beating,” said last seasons drivers premiership runner-up. “He ran fifth to Ignatius at his last run at Menangle before coming to Juanita’s stables so we know he has the talent and he certainly feels good, I’m planning for them going hard up-front early so I will just have to judge when to put him into the race.” Duggan will also be aboard Rodney Ashwood prepared Albayzin and Adele Said for Marc Butler in the first half of the meeting. “Albayzin (pictured) won a restricted race last time out but he felt good and the time was good and drawing three on the front line will be an advantage and Adele Said has a difficult draw to overcome but she is very honest and will give a good sight.” said Ricky. “All The Way Mae is another with a chance for me in the trot later in the night, Adrian (Duggan) has her going well, she ran third only beaten a little over a metre (1.3-metres) in her last run against Redason and we meet him 10-metres better off  tonight.” Tonight’s nine-race Tasmanian Pacing Club programme, commencing at 16.33, may be seen on the live stream service at Shane Yates

The cataclysmic spate of major injuries afflicting Australia’s finest pacers has continued with news that The Storm Inside has fractured a hind leg and will miss between four and six months of racing. After enthralling all harness racing lovers with his breathtaking two-year-old season Emma Stewart’s budding megastar was enjoying a brilliant comeback from leg and lung issues this term. Unbeaten prior to last month’s Breeders Crown Final for four-year-old entires and geldings, The Storm Inside produced the performance of his career in that final despite suffering his first defeat. Connections were so bullish that the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion Series were squarely on the agenda. Sadly those plans have now been shelved though the good news is the injury should not be a career-ending issue. “We are absolutely devastated, as you can imagine, the horse had been absolutely flying and we were just mapping out a very ambitious preparation following his huge run in the Breeders Crown,” managing part-owner Justin Baker said. “If you’re going to fracture a leg it’s always better to be the hind and surgery went well so that’s what we’re holding onto but it’s not doing much to ease the pain at the minute. It’s been a very tough week; he’s a very special horse."   Jason Bonnington

APG is delighted to announce that highly respected industry figure, John Coffey, will join the APG team in the newly created role of Customer Relations and Business Development Manager, effective immediately. An extremely valuable addition to the APG team, John will also maintain his current role at Alabar. In his new position, John will play an integral role in APG’s strategy to strengthen its relationships with existing vendors and buyers, as well as helping to design and implement initiatives aimed at encouraging new owners to invest in APG yearlings. APG’s General Manager, David Boydell, commented “I’m really excited to welcome John to the APG team.  Throughout his career, John has developed a well-earned reputation for honesty, integrity and customer service, which should make him a perfect fit for the new role.  “As soon as John settles in, his first task will be to contact vendors of the 250 or so entries for our 2019 Melbourne sale, so he can arrange a time to inspect their yearlings, as these inspections will play an important role in our selection process for the upcoming sales”. John Coffey expressed his excitement about his new role, saying “I’m looking forward to this new position , which will compliment my current role at Alabar, and thank APG for the opportunity.  The Industry certainly needs an influx of new owners so this will be a challenge to embrace“. APG Media

Jack Butler has made another flyer to the new season. Fresh from another century season during the 2017/18 term, his third straight, the former Bathurst horseman has jumped out of the blocks quickly and currently leads the way in the Sunshine State. Boasting 11 victories from his 34 starters to date, Butler is hungry to reach triple figures again. Butler has tallied seasons of 110, 119 and 111; he is now firmly established in the top bracket of trainers in Queensland. And he has a number of good chances again this weekend. Butler will take a team of 7 pacers to Albion Park this Saturday night. “If I was to nominate my best chance I would have to say Mandy Kriden, the mare is absolutely flying at presently and looks well suited against her opposition this weekend. Her past three wins have been really impressive in different ways so I’m confident she’ll race well again.” Butler said. Based at Logan Village on the south side of Brisbane, Butler has severely cut numbers with the change in season and is now working a team of 25. At one point last season, the numbers swelled to over 40. A season highlight last season was evergreen performer Markey Oh Markey taking the $20,630 Flashing Red Handicap at Albion Park; the stable stalwart is a last start winner and lines up in the Remembering Speed Ace Open this weekend. Markey Oh Markey takes on the likes of Ohoka Punter, Bodhi Tree, Glenferrie Hood and Alleluia in the 1660m event. “He’s a great old performer and he’s back in good form again, this week looks a lot tougher but he’s drawn the rail and can fill a place. When he won the Flashing Red, it was a great feeling because he’s been part of the stable ever since we made the permanent move up here. “The century probably took a little longer and was a little harder compared to previous seasons but we got there in the end and it’s very satisfying. Tara (wife) and Chloe (daughter) play such an integral part of my success while having Brendan (Barnes – driver) back is great because I believe in his ability. “I’m looking forward to the season ahead, it will be a challenge again and hopefully we can generate some new clients and stock and keep building on what we achieved so far. Chloe is likely to make her driving debut at some point this season which will be exciting, here’s hoping for another century.” Butler enjoyed good success with pacers and trotters last season and has a number of new trotters in his care. Chris Barsby

It was worth the wait. After seasons of going agonisingly close to cracking the somewhat mythical century mark, richly talented reinsman Adam Sanderson finally reached his Everest. During the recently completed 2017/18 season, Sanderson finally reached three figures. The Invercargill born horseman finished the term with 100 winners. Bang on, no more and no less. But the satisfaction is obvious. “It’s such a good feeling on a personal level, I’ve been so close on quite a few occasions but come up short but I finally got there. It was actually a much better year than I expected and had very good support from a lot of people including Raboki (Shannon Price & Scott Miller), they really helped me along among others.” Sanderson said. Based in Queensland since the 2011/12 season, the proud Kiwi has obtained strong results each and every year since while firmly entrenching himself in the top bracket of a competitive drivers colony. His season tallies sit at 14, 87, 87, 92, 99, 79 and now 100. Since arriving in the Sunshine State, Sanderson, 29, has been based with astute stable of Darrel Graham at Fernvale and pounced on his opportunities including victory in the 2013 Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace 3yo Fillies Final at Albion Park with Montana Marie. He landed back to back Redcliffe Gold Cups (2016/17) with now United States based pair Five Card Draw and Kept Under Wraps. During the previous season, he triumphed with the classy mare Bettorthanspecial to land the Forever Gold Mares FFA at Albion Park in a time of 1:52.3. Sanderson also prepared 18 winners in his own right as a trainer with My Mastercraftsman, Daenerys Stormborn and Long Road To Fame all contributing to his tally. Leading owner and Christchurch based Trevor Casey is a great supporter of Sanderson and races a number of horses from his stable. “I think the fact that I reached triple figures is the highlight rather than any individual performance; there were many times throughout the season where I didn’t think I was going to make it again. I thought my strike rate was solid too. “Driving a mare like Bettorthanspecial is always a thrill; she’s a good mare and a pleasure to drive so I’ll cherish the memories I have with her now that she is retired. Hopefully, she’ll leave some really handy types. “Looking ahead, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; I try not to overthink things and focus on the basics. I would like to keep improving on the training aspect because I’ve really enjoyed the past season, it’s a challenging caper but very rewarding at the same time and hopefully I can attract some new stock.” Maybe he takes that psyche from his favourite sports team, the New England Patriots in the NFL. Sanderson is hoping to head back to North America to take in more action with the Patriots after watching them live last year at the Meadowlands when they played the New York Jets. “How can you not like the Pats, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? They set the standard…Go Pats!” he quipped. He has five drives this Saturday night at Albion Park. Sanderson has driven 3 winners so far this season. Chris Barsby

Gloucester Park will play host to its first New Year’s Eve meeting in a decade later this year. As well as the action on track, racegoers will be treated to live entertainment on the night highlighted by successful Australian dance group The Potbelleez. Having performed at some of the biggest festival stages around the world The Potbelleez are best known for their hit Don’t Hold Back, which has featured on Jeep television advertisements. The night will climax with one of Perth’s most New Year’s Eve spectacular fireworks displays. Gloucester Park president John Burt said he was looking forward to racing returning to New Year’s Eve. “It’s wonderful to have New Year’s Eve back at Gloucester Park,” he said. “It’s been a decade since we have had one and the whole organisation is excited to have it back. “There will be no better place to welcome in 2019.” Tickets are on sale now for the New Year’s Eve meeting.   Tim Walker

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