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Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr admits that he is nervous as he prepares to watch his superstar pacer Chicago Bull make his much-anticipated comeback in the $25,000 Gannon’s Harness Racing Colours Free-For-All over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “Yeah, I’m apprehensive,” Hall said. “But only because I want him to do well.” Six-year-old Chicago Bull has made a full recovery from a freak stable accident in New Zealand last October when he flipped over backwards and fractured eight bones in his wither region. “There’s no problems with the injuries and he is not worried about them,” Hall said. “Recent cross-firing problems have been cured. We have trimmed his feet a bit. He had a size five shoe and we’ve now dropped down to a size four. “He’s underdone, but I’m really happy with him. He worked well this morning (Wednesday) when he and Ideal Liner finished together. We didn’t put him to the sword. He’s drawn two on Friday night and we don’t want to burn him out in a bid for the early lead. “He will have a few starts during the winter before getting ready to contest the Interdominion championship series in Auckland in November. And, all going well, he will return to Perth for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup.” Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr will handle Chicago Bull on Friday night and he is expected to get the little gelding away smartly from the No. 2 barrier before making a bid for the lead. Polemarker Tact Major, a stablemate of Chicago Bull, is a speedy beginner. But Lauren Jones appears certain to take a sit when challenged by Chicago Bull. That would be in Tact Major’s best interests. Bunbury trainer Stephen Reed’s comeback pacer Kiwi Legend possesses sparkling early speed and much interest surrounds the tactics employed by reinsman Mark Reed. The Hall stable dominates the event, with five of the ten runners Chicago Bull, Tact Major, Whozideawasthis, Herrick Roosevelt and Campora. Herrick Roosevelt (Stuart McDonald) is in tremendous form and Whozideawasthis (Micheal Ferguson) is also racing with great spirit. But neither has the class to seriously challenge Chicago Bull, who has earned $1,693,747 from 40 wins and 16 placings from 61 starts. Chicago Bull boasts an amazing record at Gloucester Park where he has been unbeaten at his past 12 starts on the track where he has raced 46 times for 35 wins, four seconds, six thirds and one fourth placing.   Ken Casellas

Brilliant filly Typhoon Tiff has not raced for seven weeks, but ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown is quick to warn punters not to disregard her as a major chance in the $150,000 Gannon’s WA Oaks at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Brown has revealed that her absence was caused by an illness, which she has now overcome. “She’s ready for a strong performance and you can’t overlook her prospects,” he said. “Just have a look at her record.” Typhoon Tiff, who boasts an impressive record of six wins and two placings from nine starts, is awkwardly drawn at barrier eight. “Unfortunately, the draw is no help and I’m not making any plans,” Brown said. “But the 2536m journey and the draws of other fancied runners makes the Oaks anybody’s race.” Typhoon Tiff last appeared when she finished fifth behind Eloquent Mach and Major Trojan in a WA Derby prelude on March 15 when, from the No. 7 barrier, she raced three wide early and then in the breeze before she raced roughly in the final circuit, but still finished fifth in a field of 12. At her previous start, three weeks earlier, she raced wide early and then in the breeze and won by a head from Dracarys, who finished strongly from sixth at the bell. Two weeks before that, Typhoon Tiff started from barrier five, took the lead after 270m and won the Dainty’s Daughter Classic by more than two lengths from Arma Indie, and at her previous outing she led and won by 7.9m from Dracarys over 1684m at Pinjarra. It is, indeed, interesting to note that the only defeats suffered by Dracarys at her past seven starts has been at the hands of Typhoon Tiff.       “In the Derby prelude, in which the winner rated 1.55.5, Typhoon Tiff paced roughly down the back when I pulled the earplugs out,” Brown said. Soon after that, Typhoon Tiff was badly affected by a cold and Brown decided to treat the ailment and not to race the filly in preparation for the Oaks. “While I was treating her, I kept the workload up,” Brown said. “If I had raced her, it would have meant that, with the clearance times (for treatment) I would have had to give her X number of days off treatment before starting the treatment all over again. “Last Saturday we scoped her and she came up crystal clear. So, she’s ready to rock’nroll. She’s done plenty of work and has been working against Eden Franco, and at her latest workout --- two one-mile heats --- she ran home in 27.6sec., swinging, and Franco Eden couldn’t get past her.             “We’re looking forward to the Oaks, and after that there’s a $50,000 race and the $100,000 Westbred Classic. We’ve made a couple of slight gear changes for this week, without going to extremes. The changes include racing her without the ear plugs.” Dracarys is sure to start a warm favourite on Friday night, despite drawing the inside of the back line. She is in dazzling form and is aiming to stretch her winning sequence to five and her career record to 12 wins from 17 starts. Hall of Fame reinsman Gary Hall Jnr will handle the New Zealand-bred Dracarys for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice, who caused a major upset in the Oaks 12 months ago when he prepared and drove Our Major Mama to victory over Detroit Lily and Cott Beach. Our Major Mama, a rank outsider at $139.80, began out wide at barrier eight and stormed home from tenth at the bell. Hall has driven the winner of the Oaks twice. He was successful behind Miss Holmes (trained by his father Gary Hall Snr) in 2004 and won in 2015 with the Prentice-trained 9/1 chance Major Reality, who beat her stablemate Quite A Delight (driven by Prentice) by a half-head. Prentice also trained and drove The Parade when she finished second to Libertybelle Midfrew in 2014. In the 2013 Oaks Prentice drove 33/1 chance Bettor Dreams into second place behind Frith; he trained Southern Legacy when she finished second to Sensational Gabby in 2012 and in 2017 he trained Im Stylish, who was driven by Tom Buchanan into third place behind Maczaffair and Sarah Goody. Dracarys completed her Oaks preparation in superb fashion when she outclassed the opposition in a prelude on Easter Thursday. She started from the outside of the back line and settled in sixth position before Hall sent her forward, three wide, after 600m to surge to the front 150m later. She was not extended in speeding over the final 400m sections in 28.1sec. and 28.5sec. and beat Soho Interceptor by two lengths, with a neck to the early leader Fake News. Fake News, trained by Hall snr, goes into this week’s classic with sound credentials, seven wins and four placings from 18 starts. She will be driven by Micheal Ferguson from the outside of the back line. She finished strongly, three wide, from last at the bell to finish an excellent second to stablemate Balcatherine in a prelude last week. Balcatherine (Stuart McDonald) will start from barrier six on Friday night and is capable of a bold showing. Apart from Dracarys, Prentice will be represented in the classic by Has No Fear, a winner of six races who will be handled by Jocelyn Young from the outside barrier on the front line (No. 9), and Majorpride, a winner at three of her 17 starts. She will be driven by Michael Grantham from barrier two on the back line. The Barry Howlett-trained My Prayer (Chris Lewis) and the David Thompson-prepared Mandy Joan (Dylan Egerton-Green) are racing keenly and will have admirers after drawing favourably, at barriers one and two, respectively. Annie Belton’s promising filly La Roue De Lamour will be driven by Kim Prentice from the No. 3 barrier, and though she has managed only one win (at Bunbury four starts ago) she is on the upward path and is capable of a bold showing. She was most unlucky in a prelude last Friday night when she trailed the pacemaker Arma Indie before being shuffled back at the 500m mark when the leader began to tire badly. La Roue De Lamour recovered and flashed home to be an eye-catching fourth behind Balcatherine.   Ken Casellas

No mare has won the Laurie Kennedy Race For Roses more than once. But ace Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown firmly believes that six-year-old Eden Franco has the ability to create history by winning the $30,000 2503m standing-start feature event for the second time. Eden Franco is the lone backmarker off 50m in Friday night’s Race For Roses at Gloucester Park when her clash with brilliant four-year-olds Our Angel of Harlem and Miss Sangrial should provide one of the highlights on a highly attractive ten-event program. Brown admits that the 50m handicap represents a serious challenge to Eden Franco, a big and powerful Christian Cullen mare who has raced only 36 times for 14 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds. But he believes she has the class to overcome that disadvantage. “Starting off 50 metres provides a big task,” Brown said. “However, I’m sure she will go very well. Without a doubt, she is the fittest I’ve ever had her and on occasions she has shown that she can absolutely fly the stand. “We stood her up on the track the other day and she belted out. She’s got the hood on for the first time. I thought she’d been becoming complacent and had been having a lend of me lately. With the hood, she’s a different animal. “I put her in this race because I thought it would be a better lead-up for her for the $50,000 Breeders Stakes the following week, rather than go in the Free-For-All against the boys and have them dictate to me, whereas over the 2503m of the Race For Roses I can run the race that I want to run.” Twelve months ago, Eden Franco started off the 10m mark in the Race For Roses and was a 9/2 chance. She began speedily and burst to the front after 550m. She gave her rivals little chance when she sped over the final quarters in 28.4sec. and 28.1sec. to win by two and a half lengths from Sarah Goody. Miss Sangrial (20m) and Our Angel of Harlem (30m) are racing in grand style and look set to fight out the finish, while other good four-year-olds Rosies Ideal (10m), Veiled Secret (10m), Our Major Mama (front) and Purest Silk (front) cannot be underestimated. The Michael Brennan-trained Miss Sangrial (Michel Grantham) warmed up for Friday night’s race in marvellous fashion when she started from the 30m mark and sustained a powerful finishing burst to win a 2631m stand from Major Pocket at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Three starts before that she was a $59.60 outsider when she ran home strongly from fifth at the bell to win the 2536m Empress Stakes from Our Alfie Romeo and Lady De La Renta. “She loves racing and I consider that she is one of the top three mares in the State,” said Brennan. Miss Sangrial has already earned $198,119 from 16 wins and 124 placings from 47 starts. Our Angel of Harlem, trained by Mike Reed, has won at 11 of her 32 starts and was most impressive last Friday night when she started out wide at barrier eight and finished powerfully from last at the bell to be third behind Herrick Roosevelt and Overboard Again. Our Angel of Harlem won at each of her three previous starts and has bright prospects of giving reinsman Mark Reed his second victory in the Race For Roses. He trained and drove Regina Mia when she was successful in 2000. Ross Olivieri boasts the best record as a trainer in the Race For Roses which was first run in 1997. He has been successful with Yippy Yi Yo (1998), Arctic Fire (2011), Selkie (2014) and Sheer Rocknroll (2017). He will be represented this year by Veiled Secret (10m) frontmarker Halle Rage. Veiled Secret, to be driven by Chris Voak, ran an excellent trial for Friday night’s race when she set the pace and dashed over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 28.7sec. to win the group 2 Johnson final for mares over 2130m last Friday night. Halle Rage will be handled by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who notched his 100th winner in WA this season when Jilliby Jake led and easily beat Allwood Peacemaker in a 2536m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Halle Rage, unplaced at her four starts since winning a 1730m mobile event two months ago, faces a tough task. Lewis has the best record as a driver in the Race For Roses, having won the event behind Lady De Beau (2007), Arctic Fire, Selkie and Sheer Rocknroll. Justin Prentice trains and drives Our Major Mama, whose recent form has been only fair. Prentice was successful as a trainer and driver with The Parade (2015) and Digital Art (2016).   Ken Casellas

BARRIER draws will force reinsman Robert Morris to utilise all the driving skills he has at Penrith tonight. Having sat behind more than 1200 winners in his career, Morris admits luck will play a big role in any results he does achieve however believes he has the horsepower to help him. “It’s going to be a difficult night and I’m going to have to think through each drive,” Morris said. The Menangle Park reinsman’s first drive is with Stormont Star in race two. Trained by Morris’ wife KerryAnn Morris, Stormont Star has drawn inside the second row. “Barrier seven doesn’t look great on paper but if the barrier one horse [Rockn Brushgrove] comes out well, we should end up in a good position,” Morris said. “He will run a good race either way on what his work has been like. “His form does look a bit patchy of late but his work at home has been great. “We’ve freshened him up and changed his work around.” In the following race, Morris will sit behind last start winner Prophesy. The mare will have to overcome barrier nine to make it back-to-back wins at that track. “We’ve certainly found our groove with her now and she is probably my best chance of the night,” Morris said. “Her last couple of runs have been super and even though she has some missed placings next to her name, they have still been good runs.” Morris’ final drive for his wife on the night is behind the pacer Squire in race five. The gelding has drawn outside the front row in barrier six. “Squire is a really nice horse but it is going to be tough where he is drawn,” Morris said. “Benicio has drawn underneath him so I will most likely have to go back at the start and hope they are running hard in front to bring me into the race. “He is good enough to be there at the end.” Morris will also be competing at Newcastle’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting tomorrow night before preparing for a number of drives at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The 27-year-old has been driving across the state in recent weeks as well as interstate and is looking forward to having a rest this Sunday. “I’ve been travelling all over the place and even somehow ended up in Queensland last week for the Australian Pacing Gold and this Sunday will be my first day off in while so I’m looking forward to sleeping in,” Morris said. The hard work has paid off, however, with Morris already steering 62 winners this season, extending his overall total to 1245.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

He might have stepped down from the Bendigo Harness Racing Club Committee, but Peter Svanosio is not walking away from the sport he loves. Anything but. The Bendigo and indeed Australian harness racing stalwart and former trainer was honoured for 42-years of service at a gathering of past and present committee members on Tuesday night. It officially marked the end his time on the committee. But the BHRC life member has no plans on exiting the harness racing scene. "I just felt my time was up on the committee, but I will still be helping around the club," he said. "I'll still drive the mobile for them and I'll still have my horses. "I'll help out when I can. (Son and trainer/driver) Chris and I have got plenty of horses and I'm busy at the trials. "We have got a mobile driver, who I trained up. I drove it for a while last year when they didn't have anyone. If he goes away or has a week off, I won't let them down and I'll step in. "If there's something else that needs to be done, I'll do it. "I had probably been trying to give it away the last three or four years, hoping someone would come along and take my spot, so the president was well aware that if there was something wanting to fill a spot it was there." Svanosio officially tendered his resignation the day after the 2019 Bendigo Pacing Cup meeting. He said he looked back with great pride on his involvement with both the committee and a progressive club. Svanosio felt privileged the club's members had continued to show faith in him throughout his more than four decades on the committee. "When I came onto the committee, you had to be elected and face an election every two years - I was in people's hands," he said. "It's not like these days when clubs and organisations struggle to get people on to committees. "I take some pride in the fact that members of my club continued to re-elect me. "That is why I was still there all those years and then went off on my own volition." Svanosio said the horses he raced with son Chris would continue to take up plenty of his time. One of those, Artful Christian will line up on Bendigo Powder Coating 2019 Anniversary Cup night at Lord's Raceway on Friday. The six-year-old gelding, who was breed by former BHRC executive Dennis Bice, will contest a C2 to C3 event, and will be driven by emerging driver Tayla French. A high-calibre field for the Anniversary Cup (C6 or better) is headed by the Emma Stewart-trained Somerocksomeroll and Idealsomemagic, who is chasing a fourth-straight win for the Tindale stable. BHRC general manager Erik Hendrix praise 42 years of 'wonderful' service from Svanosio. "Introduced to the club as a young boy, Peter has truly seen this club built from the ground up," he said. "I have never seen anyone serve such a long time on any type committee. "It's a testament to Peters character and shows how well loved he was around the club to be continually voted on as a committee member. "Peter will now have time to concentrate on helping trainer, driver and son Chris Svanosio with his growing stable. "As a life member you will still see Peter around the club and at most meetings." Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.  By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Few victories could be sweeter for Donna Castles than slashing to the line behind her pride and joy in colours that carry a cause close to her heart. That is the scenario about which the trainer-driver barely dares to dream at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night, when she will steer Sofala in the $30,000 Country Clubs Championship final while wearing pink silk pants to take the fight to breast cancer. Castles – the driving force behind the Community Pink Ladies Day, an annual fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation at Cobram Harness Racing Club on May 26 – said she was thrilled with Sofala’s sprint lane victory in the third heat of the championship at Maryborough on Monday. “He probably wasn’t entitled to actually catch (odds-on favourite Jilliby Chevy) when they walked and did a nice last half,” Castles said. “But he went super.” Castles said the final would be “tricky” after Sofala drew the widest front row gate, directly outside Jilliby Chevy. “We are going to just see where we land and put it all together and see how it all plays out – a bit like (the heat) really, we didn’t think we would be leader’s back,” she said. “That’s the closest I think he has ever been in the running in his career, apart from the front or the death.” She said Sofala, who has won nine of his 24 starts, was still learning the racing caper. “He’s green (and) has gone through his grades really quickly without actually learning how to race,” she said. “Up in (this) grade it is pretty hard to teach him how to race or be tractable or push him between runners or get on the fence because he never really got to do that.” Castles said the Safari five-year-old gelding was “like a big kid learning how to run”. “Every time he goes out he takes another step,” she said. “(In the heat) he was a bit of a handful but he’s got to learn. He has never been in that position before.” She said Sofala’s learning curve made it hard to predict where he’d end up. “The owner (Greg Corbett) has eyes on him going probably to the country cups and things like that, but (the horse will) tell us – he will keep progressing and, as he does, we will just work around him and take him to races that suit where he is at the time,” she said. It presents as the start of a big month for Castles ahead of the May 26 Community Pink Ladies Day at Cobram, with Castles saying the pink silk pants – which some female drivers will wear throughout May – are a great way to raise to raise awareness of breast cancer and the McGrath Foundation. Castles, who will don the pants in the opening two races at Echuca tomorrow night, said all reinswomen who do the same would have McGrath Foundation raffle tickets available for people to buy. “It is quite funny because people in the pubs come up with the comment ‘why are those girls in pink’ and it becomes a talking point,” she said. “It is a great way to get it out there.”   Shaun Campbell HRV Trots Media

Vin McConnell, a Victorian harness racing trainer, driver, breeder and owner who had the sport "in his blood", has passed age 67. The Euroa farmer was the brother of the late Bernie McConnell and son of Hugh McConnell, a family who shared a rich passion for the trots according to Vin's wife of almost 29 years, Tracy. "It started out as a hobby for him," Mrs McConnell said. "He just loved it all. It was something that continued through his family's bloodlines." Mr McConnell shared the success of Another Season, who won 11 races, with his father and brother, the latter a trainer-driver who sadly passed at age 37 at Yarra Glen. Vin McConnell began to train and drive in his own right from 1984-85 and continued until 2000-2001, training 33 winners from 384 starts and driving 15 winners from 240 starts. He achieved a career highlight on June 27 1983 at Moonee Valley when Ted Demmler steered his trotter, Wanganui Wizard, to victory in the Victoria Harness Racing Club Trotters Derby. Mrs McConnell said more recently he had helped Euroa trainers David Jack and Cameron Maggs prepare their horses, where he would attend "five mornings a week, which kept him occupied". A service for Mr McConnell will be held at St John's Catholic Church, Kirkland Avenue, Euroa on Tuesday May 7 from 11am. The cortege will proceed at the conclusion of prayers to the Euroa Lawn Cemetery. All are welcome. Harness Racing Victoria extends its condolences to Vin McConnell's family and friends.   Harness Racing Victoria

IT WAS ‘crunch time’ in more ways than one at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. With heats of the rich Australian Pacing Gold series being conducted, only the winners are guaranteed a berth in the Group One Final. The $350,000 decider is scheduled to be conducted at Albion Park on May 11. To trainer Rickie Alchin’s delight his representative - Crunch Time – was triumphant in his qualifier. “He went well…I’m very happy with him,” Alchin said. “I’ve always had a bit of an opinion of him, but he just hasn’t been performing as he should. “He’s been working like nice horse, but at Bathurst he didn’t race to his work. “I gave him a couple weeks off and changed work a bit and he put the right foot forward yesterday.” Driven by Alchin, Crunch Tim began quickly to lead from barrier four before being eased to take a trail behind the previously unbeaten Star Hunter during the middle stages. Gaining an opening along the pegs at the top of the home straight, the son of Somebeachsomewhere reclaimed the front in the shadows of the post to score by a neck from Star Hunter. Smooth Bath was two-and-a-half metres away third. Causing a major upset at $51 to register his second win from six starts, Crunch Time covered the mile in 1:53.3 with his time almost five seconds quicker than Spy Major in the following qualifier. Trained by John McCarthy and driven by his son Todd, Spy Major also registered a narrow victory over Ilikemebettor and Fifteen Aces.   APG Media

EXCEPTIONALLY-BRED filly Keep Rockin is well placed to join her famous mum on a Group One honour roll next month. Thanks to her victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon Keep Rockin has earned a berth in the Australian Pacing Gold Final. The $350,000 decider is scheduled to be conducted at Albion Park on May 11. By Rock N Roll Heaven, Keep Rockin is from former outstanding filly Kept For Pleasure, which was retired with 19 wins and 10 seconds from 37 starts for earnings of $542,343. Kept For Pleasure, which has become a prolific producing broodmare, captured four Group Ones, including the 2007 APG Final at Albion Park. Keep Rockin is prepared by Michael Doltoff who trained Kept For Pleasure to secure the Final. “Her mum won the APG in Queensland so hopefully this filly can do it too,” Doltoff said. “She’s got her share of ability, but has a long way to go before she can be compared to her mother. “A win in the Final will certainly move her closer.” Driven by Michael Towers, Keep Rockin was eased away from barrier five to settle mid field as Michelle Lee Mac led and the five runners travelled in ‘Indian file’. Gaining the one-one trip along the back straight as Gee Gee Blinxs was taken to the ‘death seat’, Keep Rockin was angled three-wide at the top of the home straight before sprinting to a five-and-a-half metre win from the pacemaker. Gee Gee Blinxs fought on to be 18 metres away third. “She’s run second at her last three starts so has been building up to that,” Doltoff said. “After getting the kind of run she did she was always going to be hard to hold out.” Breaking her maiden at her sixth start, the two-year-old covered the mile in 1:56.4, with her time six-tenths of a second slower than Roscommon Rose in the following heat. Trained and driven by David Hewitt, the daughter of Art Major was two-back along the pegs from barrier four before gaining an opening halfway along the home straight. Unleashing a strong sprint Roscommon Rose grabbed the lead in the last stride to score by a head from Smooth Style, with Sheza Mamacita a half-neck away third. Unplaced upon debut, Roscommon Rose caused an upset as an $18 shot.   APG Media

If determination is the key to success, teenage harness racing reinsman Jayden Brewin is well and truly headed in the right direction. The 18-year-old packed his bags late last year and headed from his home state of South Australia to try his luck in Victoria. And now it is all starting to fall in place for the enthusiastic youngster with two driving doubles in the space of five days. “I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to turn around for me,” a relieved Brewin said. “But I was determined to keep doing my best and wait for a bit of luck to come my way,” he said. Lady Luck certainly looked down on Brewin last week, but then it was up to the talented driver to grab the opportunities by the scruff of the neck and deliver. And deliver he did! “I had a drive for John Murphy at the Geelong meeting last Wednesday and then got a late call-up from trainer Chris Romanidis to drive one for him. He had engaged Brad Chisholm, who was unavailable due to sickness,” Brewin said. Romanidis, of Wurdiboluc, a rural town with a population of 560 in the Surf Coast Shire, 30 kms south west of Geelong, combined with Brewin to land $64 long shot Fire Up Franco (Courage Under Fire-Tishafly Franco (Falcon Seelster) in the Brays Country Clubs Pace, second heat. Jayden Brewin, Chris Rominidis and Fire Up Franco Two races later, Brewin scored nicely on $2.70 favorite Oscar Bravo (Village Jasper-Margaret Eden (Digger Almahurst) for Ballarat-based Murphy. Brewin said while he had driven Oscar Bravo a number of times previously, including a Ballarat win in November, it was his first go on Fire Up Franco. “I noticed after doing my homework that the gelding could be a handful leading up to his races,” Brewin said. “And sure enough he tried out his bad habits (not wanting to do pre-race circling or scoring up when the mobile barrier moved off) on me, but gee he has some ability,” he said. “Once he hits his straps and decides to get going, he’s not a problem.” Jayden Brewin with John Murphy and Oscar Bravo Fire Up Franco scored by just a head over Matty Craven’s runner My Harmony Blue in a brisk 1.57-3. Brewin’s second leg of his double, Oscar Bravo had a little more breathing space on the line, winning by nearly two metres over Crafty Old Fox (Darby McGuigan). Brewin, who works for up-and-coming trainer Jess Tubbs, said he was thoroughly enjoying his time in Victoria. “I shifted to improve my driving skills and just by competing against the elite like Gavin Lang, Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and others, you pick up things all the time,” he said. “I’m just loving it - although the temperatures are starting to get a little cool down here so I’m going to have to rug up!” Brewin ventured to Cranbourne four days after his double at Geelong, this time to drive the Romanidis pair of Fire Up Franco and The Loustar (Passmaster Hanover-Lombo La Jazz (Panorama). Fire Up Franco, despite displaying his old tricks, again proved too good at the juicy odds of 10/1, to take out the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace. And once again he didn’t dawdle, posting a mile rate of a tick over 1.58. The Loustar rated a similar time in taking out his qualifying heat of the Bray Country Clubs Pace, at 12/1. Brewin now has an unblemished record for Romanidis of three drives for three wins. “It would be great for that to continue a bit longer because Chris does a really good job with them,” Brewin said. “I’m thrilled to get drives from trainers like John (Murphy) and Chris (Romanidis) and others, as well as my boss Jess Tubbs - although I haven’t got a winner yet for Jess.” Brewin said his Victorian stint didn’t get off on the right foot when he copped “a few holidays early on”. “No-one knew much of me and here I was sitting on the sidelines. That just wasn’t an ideal start,” he said. “But hopefully a few doors might open for me in the near future because some of the top concession drivers have already, or are very close, to driving out their claims.” The youngster, who was forced to give away a potentially bright Australian rules football career through knee injuries, looks certain to be a most successful reinsman. He landed his first winner shortly after being licensed at aged 16 and has since gone on to record an impressive 161 winners. And he may be calling Victoria home for some time to come. “My parents (Justine and Yvette) are keen to come across from South Australia - and they are serious about it, because they’ve just recently put their newly-developed harness racing property up for sale back home,” Brewin said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A much needed sprinkle of Stardust could be just what the doctor ordered for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan, whose long road back from injury could be met with a timely pick-me-up. Illawong Stardust, the half-sister to Quinlan’s prodigiously talented but trying trotter Illawong Armstrong, produced an eye-catching 17-metre victory in today’s Tabcorp Park Melton trials, reaffirming the filly’s talent that it’s hoped will soon translate to the race track. “She seems to be pretty faultless, but she has to prove it on race day,” Quinlan said of Illawong Stardust, who has broken at both her starts, belying the good temperament she has shown at home to Quinlan and partner Craig Demmler. “Craig did all the work early days because I was hurt and liked her from day dot,” Quinlan said. “Being from that family, they all seem to do things wrong. At home she seems fairly faultless but at the track she has galloped both times.” She hasn’t raced since her April 3 sixth placing after a paddock fall led to a cut knee “and so we had to back off her”. Today’s Tabcorp Park trial of seven two-year-old trotters marked her track return and she couldn’t have been more impressive in cruising to the lead and dictating throughout, crossing the line 17 metres ahead of Brent Lilley’s Magical. The latter has had two starts, breaking on debut and then running second in her second start on April 3, the same race Illawong Stardust started favourite and broke. “For her trial she was only about 75 per cent but she went quite well,” Quinlan said. “She’s probably not trotting 100 per cent, but she is pretty good. Ability wise her performance (in the trial) didn’t surprise. If she has half the ability of her brother and more brains it will take her a long way.” If she pulls up well Quinlan will direct her to the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic for two-year-old trotting fillies at Maryborough next Thursday (May 9), which feeds into a $50,000 final at Melton on May 18. Strong performances would be a timely fillip for Quinlan, who’s still on the comeback trail from a horrific injury suffered when she was kicked in the side by a horse on Christmas Eve. Quinlan was left with a lacerated kidney, spine fractures and a long road to recovery. “I’ve been back to the doctor’s yesterday and am into hospital for a day on the 9th of May with a few pain-related issues,” she said. “I’m at the four months mark, I was hoping to be back, but because my internal organs have had so much trauma they are relating to me as a car crash victim. They’ve just said I’ve got to be patient. “I’m quite stiff and scratchy from the spinal challenges, but am getting around a hell of a lot better than what I was.” She has purposefully scaled back her operation from 23 horses to 10 and praised her owners, “who have all been so supportive. I’ve been very lucky”. And she has left the door open to returning to the sulky, driven mostly by the want to again guide her trotters to glory. “I like to think someday I will (drive again), especially to drive my trotters. At some stage I’d like to, but I’ve got to look at the big picture.” In the meantime she will continue to ride the bumps from the sidelines with owner Dr Martin Hartnett as both Illawong Stardust and her big troublesome brother Illawong Armstrong try to transform their potential into prize winnings. Quinlan said Illawong Armstrong, who hasn’t raced since December 29, would trial next week ahead of what looms as the seven-year-old’s final campaign. “It will be his last hurrah,” she said. “He’s getting to the end of his tether, but he is up and going and his next month will tell me what he has left. He has had fantastic ability, but not the brain span unfortunately.”   Michael Howard  for Trots Media

THERE is a great tradition of racing in all three codes on Anzac Day. It is a day to remember and appreciate all those who gave their lives and in many cases their innocence and youth so that we can enjoy a life that we sometimes take for granted. There are many fantastic race meetings throughout the Australia and New Zealand and arguably the most significant race was the Forbes Diggers Cup won by the three-year-old Peter Bullock-trained and Amy Rees-driven Neville Shannon. The Forbes Diggers Trotting Club was formed on Monday July 6, 1953, by the Forbes sub branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia in a bid to help raise money for the building of the Forbes RSL club. Since then the Forbes RSL has been the major sponsor of the Club and the Forbes Diggers Cup, even if not the most valuable race on the Club’s program, is still by far the most significant. Prior to the running of the Diggers Cup a most moving Anzac ceremony was conducted on the track. Mounted horsemen and women carrying the flags from all three armed services accompanied by members of the Forbes Pony Club and a carriage paraded. The Ode was recited by Brian Jones from the Forbes RSL. The Last Post, surely the most moving music you will ever hear was played, before 12-year-old Forbes schoolgirl Sienna Carver sang the national anthem. The moment was certainly not lost on the good crowd on course. The spirit of the Anzacs was felt by all. The significance of the race was not lost by winning trainer Peter Bullock who said in his acceptance speech that the Forbes Diggers Cup is a race he has long wanted to win because of the history and aura around it. Club president Lex Crosby said it is the ambition of the Forbes Club to work hard to raise the profile and prizemoney of the Diggers Cup, eventually making it one of the most sought after races on the country calendar. We surely owe it to the Diggers.   Forbes HRC

Following extensive consultation, Ratings Handicapping will commence in Harness Racing in Australia from a transitionary date of 1 May 2019 and will take full effect on 1 July 2019. Western Australia’s conditioned win dollars system will continue as usual. The final Ratings Guidelines document may be found here. From midnight, 1 May, the rating of each horse will appear on the ‘Horse Details’ tab on HarnessWeb, as highlighted in red below in the Horse Class field: The initial rating on May 1 will be based on page four of the guideline document. Following the initial rating, horses will continue racing under the current class system, where they will not only move between classes, but also gain and lose points in the background as per the Ratings System matrix up to and including 30 June. From 1 July they will take their points into the new system of programmed ratings races. Further updates will be provided in due course in relation to upcoming HarnessWeb upgrades. Any questions about ratings programming should be directed to the relevant State Controlling Body.   Harness Racing Australia

HRSA is pleased to announce the introduction of a new race series to be conducted in South Australia. The TAB Graduation Championship is a restricted races series open to 4YO’s and older which, at the time they first accept for a race in the series, have not won more than three races (lifetime). Horses will compete in qualifying races commencing Saturday 15th June 2019 culminating in a final to be held on Saturday 20th July 2019 All qualifying races will be conducted for a stake of $4,000 and run over distances between 1609 metres and 1800 metres. The barrier draw for all races in the series, including the final will be preferential draw on lifetime wins. The final will be conducted for a stake $17,000 and restricted to a field limit of 11 runners plus 1 emergency. Horses which start in any of the qualifying races will receive points on the following basis.  1st – 9 points, 2nd – 7 points, 3rd – 5 points, 4th – 3 points, 5th 2 points, every other runner 1 point. Importantly this series is restricted to horses trained solely in South Australia. To be eligible to compete in the series a stable return must have been lodged with HRSA by 6th May 2019 and the horse must remain SA trained for the entirety of the series.  Horses are not required to run in all of the qualifying races. If at the time of acceptances for the Final the number of horses remaining is in excess of the starting limit, preference will be given to those horses which have accumulated the greatest number of points in the qualifying races. Therefore, the greater number of races competed in, then the greater the opportunity there is to gain points. There is no limit to how many qualifiers a horse may contest. In the event of a tie for the final position(s) in the field the total monies earned during the series will determine such position(s). Should horses remain tied after this calculation is applied then the final position(s) will be determined by ballot. There will be no Concession driver or mares’ claims permitted. The dates of the qualifying races are: Saturday 15th June 2019 Monday 17th June 2019 Saturday 22nd June 2019 Monday 24th June 2019 Saturday 29th June 2019 Monday 1st July 2019 Saturday 6th July 2019 Monday 8th July 2019 Saturday 13th July 2019 Monday 15th July 2019   The final will be held on: Saturday 20th July 2019 Note:     A horse which, subsequent to the first time they accept for a race in the series, wins any race will remain eligible for the series notwithstanding it having won more than 3 races. An example being that if a horse has won 2 races at the time of accepting for the qualifying race on 15th June and it then wins both a qualifier and another non-TAB Graduation Championship qualifier, giving the horse 4 lifetime wins, it remains eligible for the remaining qualifiers and the final. Trainers Bonus The trainer of the individual horse with the most points accumulated in the qualifying races will, provided the horse starts in the final, receive a bonus of $1,000.00  For more information on the TAB Graduation Championship please contact David Thuen, Racing Operations Manager Harness Racing SA at dthuen@saharness.org.au or on (08) 8285 0731.   HRSA

After two-and-a-half years at the helm of Mildura Harness Racing Club, popular chief executive Tim Scala has handed over the reins. When Scala arrived from Perth, he brought a host of new ideas with him and this vision has further cemented the far north west Victorian club as one of the best around. Scala has put his stamp on one of Victoria’s most progressive clubs, and the wider industry during his time.  But there’s every reason to expect the club will continue on its innovative pathway, with his former understudy Michelle McGinty-Wilson stepping up to the CEO’s post. McGinty-Wilson, an experienced administrator and passionate harness racing participant, describes the role, without hesitation, as her “dream job”. “I am just so excited – it feels like the perfect fit because I’ve been on the other side of the fence, as an owner, a trainer, a stablehand, and it’s a lot different to being in here in the administrative side,” she said. “I’m in the lucky position of having a life-time involvement in the sport, but also having spent 22 years in the insurance industry, which has given me the administrative skills I need for this role.” McGinty-Wilson’s family has strong connection to the Sunraysia area.  Her father Tom McGinty was a trainer in Mildura in the 1960s, before moving across the State to Shepparton, then the Yarra Valley to pursue cattle farming. Tom’s brothers Brian, Gary and Bob McGinty followed him into the sport, and Brian’s son Jason, who Michelle describes as “like a brother”, is a well-known Mildura trainer. “I always loved the horses and I worked part-time as a vet nurse while I was still at school,” McGinty Wilson said. “Even when Dad wasn’t training horses, we would still go to Moonee Valley most weekends to watch the horses. Then 15 or 16 years ago Uncle Brian and I bought a handful of New Zealand horses and raced them together,” she said. “I had wanted to be a vet nurse, but there weren’t too many job opportunities, and I found myself in insurance, first in reception, then working my way up,” she said. From then on it was insurance for 22 years in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, with Michelle eventually reaching the position of Senior Account Executive and Risk Manager.  “But mum and dad moved back up to Mildura three years ago, and the time was right for Ian and I and our children and we followed,” she said. Her “apprenticeship” as the club’s promotions and marketing manager has seen her working alongside Scala for the past two years, and Scala says that will have provided his successor with a clear insight into the demands of the job. “I thoroughly enjoyed the job – and it is a big job - but Michelle has all the skills she needs and great insight into the big picture,” Scala said. “For me, it’s been a fantastic experience, and we’ve achieved a lot, but I had the backing of a very good committee,” Scala said. “Without that support and of course the valued assistance from a willing band of volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere near what we have done. “The club is in a great position where people want to join and importantly, want to be involved. And that all means a healthy environment for a club and a sport to prosper.” Scala, himself, had returned to his home-region to take up the role at Mildura.  His wife, Isabel, grew up in Murrayville and met Tim, a Swan Hill lad who was working in the local bank and playing football for Murrayville (including in two Murrayville Premiership sides). A promotion in Isabel’s work resulted in the couple again relocating, this time to Melbourne, immediately after completion of the recent annual three-night Mildura Pacing Cup. The continued success of the carnival is understandably a highlight for Scala, but it’s the innovations the club has introduced in the past two years that give him most satisfaction. “The double-seated sulky racing was one of our committee’s ideas.  It had been around as a concept, but involving members of the public under actual race conditions, has been just so successful and a great experience and talking point for people,” he said. “It gives people a first-hand chance to feel what it’s like to sit behind a pacer – it’s a ‘tick off the bucket list’.  They go behind the mobile, there are three other horses in the race and they get a video to remember. “We were the founder of what is probably a unique novelty event, but now South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania are also right into it. We also loan the carts to our sister clubs at Swan Hill and Ouyen to conduct the races. “The driver’s invitational series where they drive and then dress up in a Fashions on the Field contest for an overseas holiday, was a great innovation. The crowd really get into it. “Then there’s the State of Origin night, involving past greats from the AFL, which looks certain to be an annual event, and the Italian night was another success story.” Scala said he believed changing the trials from a weeknight to Sunday mornings had brought racing people together and participants back to the club. “It’s a social get-together and more and more new faces have turned up. They watch the trials and enjoy a cooked breakfast and it’s turned what was a bit of a drag for people into a social event,” he said. Scala, along with club president Alan Lister, took part in a fight Motor Neurone Disease event last October, a charity drive for Neale Daniher, something that was close to Scala’s heart. “I lost my father to that horrible disease. It was also a bit personal because I went to Trinity College with Neale,” Scala said. “The charity drive, which we did in the club mobile barrier vehicle, was an inspirational few days for everyone involved.” The former Mildura trots boss labelled the Ian Watson-trained pacer Flo Jos Gold as his favorite local horse, while SA reinsman Wayne Hill is his most admired driver. “Wayne is always prepared.  You never see him when he’s not studying the form guide or reading over a racebook.” Asked if there was one thing he could change, what would it be? Scala didn’t hesitate and said a perfect world would be Mildura programming its own races with greater input from trainers. While Scala has moved on from his Mildura post, he won’t be lost to harness racing, retaining his executive role at Country Trots Victoria, where he’s treasurer. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The first two Australian representatives for the 2019 IRT Harness Jewels have today been confirmed.   Lulu Le Mans (2YO Diamond) and Major Occasion (4YO Diamond) have been invited to wear the Australian Jewels colours and compete in this year’s edition of the IRT Harness Jewels, to be held at Addington Raceway in Christchurch on Saturday 1 June.   A Kiwi bred daughter of Bettors Delight and Elusive Chick, Lulu Le Mans came to compete in New Zealand with two wins to her name and also group placings in the Group Two Sapling Stakes and Group Two Pink Bonnet.   Lulu Le Mans is trained by Aaron Goadsby and Mark Jones and is currently in New Zealand racing in the two-year-old fillies’ features.   She will compete again this week at Alexandra Park in the Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes Two-Year-Old Fillies Championship.   Major Occasion will fly the flag for Australia in the Four-Year-Old Diamond, and brings with her an impressive array of achievements in her homeland.   Major Occasion is trained by Chris Frisby and has recorded four wins from just ten starts alone this season, including the Group Two Sebelia Stakes over one mile in 1.50.4. She was also a game second in the Ladyship behind Dream About Me in March.   She also competed at the highest level as a three-year-old, finishing second in the Queeland Oaks to Sociable.   Interest from Australian connections this year has been extremely high, hot off the back of the strong showing from Australian horses in the Harness Jewels in 2018.   Although Shez All Rock became the first Australian Jewels winner last year at Cambridge, she was under the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. So we are yet to have an Australian trained Jewels victor.   More Australian invites will be announced in the near future.   To hear an interview with Aaron Goadsby (co-trainer of Lulu Le Mans) and Peter Ward (owner of Major Occasion) please follow this link:      Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

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