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Balcatherine, after four back-line draws and one from out wide at No. 7 from her past five outings, should appreciate the No. 1 barrier in the random draw for the 2130m $24,000 Pure Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Despite the series of awkward draws, Balcatherine has won twice, finished second twice and third once from her past five starts. She should be seen in an unaccustomed role of pacemaker this week and looks very hard to beat. Trained by Gary Hall Snr and driven by Gary Hall Jnr, Balcatherine is the only mare in the field of 12 and is the least experienced runner, with her 11 starts producing five wins, three seconds and one third placing. She is one of six four-year-olds in the field, with the Aiden de Campo-trained and driven Walsh, from barrier No. 2, one of her main rivals. Walsh caught the eye last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier eight and was ninth at the bell before finishing strongly, out very wide, to be fifth behind Mister Bushido over 2536m. Mister Bushido, who made most of the running and won easily over 2536m last Friday night, gets the chance to complete a winning hat-trick by proving the master of his eight rivals in the Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2130m. He will start from the No. 4 barrier and is sure to meet with plenty of opposition from Dreamy Nights, Our Perkins and Marquisard. Mister Bushido, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall Snr, is a stablemate of exciting four-year-old Wildwest, who will be having his first start for six months when he contests the 2130m Etch Coatings Pace from the awkward draw at No. 7 in a field of eight. Wildwest won at his first eight starts before losing form and finishing eighth and twelfth at his final outings before being sent for a spell in November. His four-year-old stablemate Robbie Easton also will be resuming after a spell in Friday night’s event in which he will start from the No. 5 barrier with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. Robbie Easton has raced 29 times for nine wins and nine placings and he and Wildwest are sure to be tested by another New Zealand-bred four-year-old Taroona Bromac, who will be driven for Greg and Skye Bond by Ryan Warwick from barrier No. 2. Taroona Bromac, a winner at ten of his first 13 starts, has disappointed with unplaced efforts at his past three starts. But, from his ideal barrier he has the class to bounce back to his best form.   Ken Casellas

Redoubtable mare Gotta Go Gabbana has been plagued by bad barriers in recent starts and she should appreciate starting from the No. 2 barrier in the Simmonds Steel Pace for mares over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She possesses good gate speed and Chris Lewis is likely to make a bold bid for the early lead and then dictate terms in front , with in-form runners Delightfulreaction (barrier three) and Parisian Partygirl (No. 1) seemingly best suited when used in a sit-sprint capacity. Gotta Go Gabbana, prepared at Banjup by Annie Belton, gave a stout-hearted performance when a fighting fourth behind Arma Indie, Delightfulreaction and Balcatherine in the 2130m WASBA Breeders Stakes last Friday week. She started from barrier seven and raced three wide early before working hard in the breeze. A week earlier she was far from disgraced when, at $101, she began speedily from barrier six, raced in sixth position in the one-wide line and fought on gamely to finish fifth behind Iceenothink and Chicago Bull. Apart from Delightfulreaction and Parisian Partygirl, Just Rockon Bye should prove to be a formidable opponent for Gotta Go Gabbana. Just Rockon Bye, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in the field of six. She impressed greatly last Friday night at her second appearance after a five-month absence when she started from barrier eight and raced in last position in a field of 11 before surging home powerfully to win from the fast-finishing Our Perkins and Parisian Partygirl at a 1.57.7 rate over 2130m. Parisian Partygirl, from the No. 1 barrier, trailed the pacemaker Sightseeing Anvil and was hampered for clear running in the closing stages before fighting on restricted room. Delightful Reaction is in top form for trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo with two wins and two second from her past four starts. From the No. 3 barrier she raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before finishing strongly with a final quarter in 28.4sec. to win from Queen Shenandoah at a 1.58.5 rate over 2130m.   Ken Casellas

Veterinary experts are confident the latest setback to the New Zealand racing industry will be temporary. The export of New Zealand racehorses to Australia has been suspended just weeks after returning post-lockdown after a thoroughbred broodmare tested positive for the disease piroplasmosis. Equine Piroplasmosis is a disease which can cause fevers, anemia and swelling in horses and is usually transmitted by ticks or in very rare cases by contaminated medical equipment like needles being used on different horses. The disease is rarely fatal. The mare who tested positive for the disease was imported from Europe last year and tested negative for piroplasmosis before she arrived and has shown no symptoms of the disease since she has been in New Zealand. It was only detected when she had another blood test as required before she was to be flown to Australia to be mated. Because New Zealand does not have the ticks that typically spread the disease it is thought to be very low risk that the mare has transferred it to another horse but because New Zealand cannot be certified as now being free of piroplasmosis Australia has suspended flights of New Zealand horses to Australia. Any long term ban on horses crossing the Tasman for both racing and breeding purposes would be a disaster but that seems extremely unlikely. But until the Ministry of Primary Industries here has investigated the positive and reported back to Australian authorities the flights will remain grounded. “At this stage it is really a trade issue more than a health issue that MPI are trying to get to the bottom of,” Dr Ivan Bridge, chairman of the New Zealand Equine Health Association said. “Australia requires us to have no piroplasmosis in the country for at least three years. “MPI can’t sign off on that at present. “We have not had any clinical piroplasmosis in New Zealand and we don’t believe that the tick that we have in New Zealand is capable of transmitting it.” “So what might look like a problem now because we can’t fly horses right at the moment might be a 2 out of 10 problem next week and not an issue heading forward. “Basically horses get tested for this and a range of other diseases before they fly anyway, which is how this mare was diagnosed. So we can’t and won’t be sending any horses to Australia or anywhere else with any issues because it would show up in those tests. “But that is if it even spread from this one mare which would seem extremely unlikely.” With no major racing carnivals on in Australia at the moment and the breeding season still months from starting it would be surprising if a short-term ban had any great detrimental effect on the racing industry which has been hit hard by racing being shutdown for over two months. Horse racing in New Zealand return, albeit closed to the public, next Friday for harness racing with thoroughbred racing due back on July 3.   Michael Guerin

Superstar pacer Chicago Bull holds the track record of 1.51.6 for 1730m at Gloucester Park, but he must overcome the curse of the No. 3 barrier if he is to win the $20,000 Members Sprint on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old has started from barrier three at his past two appearances in races over 1730m and has finished third at $3.30 behind Bettors Fire ($56) and Soho Tribeca ($1.60) in December 2017 and second at $1.07 to stablemate Whozideawasthis in the Members Sprint 12 months ago. He set the pace and was defeated by a half-length by Whozideawasthis, who finished fast after trailing Chicago Bull throughout. Chicago Bull enjoyed the one-out, one-back passage and finished strongly, out four wide, when a close third behind Bettors Fire and Soho Tribeca at his previous appearance over 1730m. He started from the inside of the back line and raced in the one-out, one-back position when he ran home strongly to get up in the final stride and beat Soho Tribeca in 1.51.6 in the Mount Eden Sprint in October 2017 and he also won at his three previous starts over 1730m with rates of 1.55.9, 1.53.2 and 1.52.6. The first of his seven starts over 1730m was as a three-year-old at Gloucester Park when he made his Australian debut in November 2015. From barrier five he was a $7.30 chance who raced in the one-out, one-back position and finished third behind El Jacko ($3.20) and Franco Rayner ($1.80). El Jacko, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and to be handled by Ryan Warwick, will be one of Chicago Bull’s five rivals on Friday night and the seven-year-old who finished strongly when a head second to Chicago Bull over 2130m three starts ago, cannot be overlooked from barrier four. He is capable of unwinding a powerful finishing burst. However, El Jacko’s evergreen 11-year-old stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone looms large as a strong chance of beating Chicago Bull this week. Our Jimmy Johnstone, who will be driven by Bailey McDonough, will start from the No. 2 barrier. He possesses excellent gate speed, and if he is able to burst past the polemarker Vultan Tin and set the pace he will take plenty of beating. Our Jimmy Johnstone caused an upset last Friday night when he was restrained at the start from barrier five and then raced in sixth (and last) position before charging home, out wide, to snatch a last-stride victory by a half-head from Chicago Bull, who had raced in the breeze before hitting the front 240m from home. Our Jimmy Johnstone will be aiming for his second success in the Members Sprint --- after starting from barrier one and setting the pace before beating Beaudiene Boaz at a 1.54.3 rate in May 2017. He has raced 13 times over 1730m for three wins, three seconds, two thirds, two fourths, two sixths and a ninth.   Ken Casellas

The powerful combination of Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice and champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is looking forward to history repeating itself when Alta Louisa contests the $50,000 Perth Plasterboard Diamond Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Twelve months ago Prentice and Hall combined to win this Group 2 feature event for three-year-old fillies when the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Majorpride started from the No. 1 barrier and led throughout the 2130m journey to win by just under a half-length from $81 outsider Hello Hotshot. This week Prentice and Hall will join forces again with the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Alta Louisa, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier. Prentice also contested the inaugural Diamond Classic in May 2018 when he drove the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Our Major Mama, who started from the No. 6 barrier and at $7.40 when she thundered home with a powerful three-wide burst from tenth at the bell to finish second to the pacemaker and $1.30 favourite Lady De la Renta. Prentice was also represented in that race by $41 chance De La Tourbie, who ran home boldly from twelfth at the bell to finish fifth. Alta Louisa is, by far, the least experienced runner in this week’s classic, with only four starts for two wins at Bunbury followed by two runs at Gloucester Park for a sixth behind Star Fromthepalace after starting from the outside barrier and racing wide for much of the way and a solid third behind Blockjorg and Double Expresso on Tuesday of last week after enjoying an ideal passage in the out-out, one-back position. Hall enjoys a strong connection with Alta Louisa, not only having driven her at all her four starts, but having driven Alta Louisa’s dam, the Mach Three mare Famous Alchemist, for six of her 11 wins in Western Australia when she was trained by Gary Hall snr. Alta Louisa is the first foal out of Famous Alchemist, who earned $322,869 from 16 wins and 16 placings from 51 starts. Alta Louisa has revealed her versatility by setting the pace from barrier five and winning by six lengths at her debut over 2100m at Bunbury on April 4 and then, at Bunbury a week later, breaking at the start and surging home from eighth at the bell to win by one and a half lengths from Farawayeyes, with final quarters of 27.6sec. and 28.4sec. This week’s race will be a major test for Alta Louisa, who is sure to meet with serious opposition from experienced and talented fillies Double Expresso, Star Fromthepalace and Blockjorg. The Ross Olivieri-trained Double Expresso is sure to prove hard to beat, even from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line. She has been most impressive, with her 18 starts producing 12 wins and five placings for earnings of $303,046. She will again be handled by Chris Lewis, who will determine his tactics as the race unfolds. A likely scenario is that Double Expresso will be sent forward, three wide, in the first circuit or a little later in a bid to get to the breeze. Double Expresso has been beaten at odds-on by a head in the final stride at each of her past two starts by Sports Package in the WA Oaks and by Blockjorg in a qualifying heat of the Diamond Classic. Star Fromthepalace, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, is a realistic winning prospect, particularly after drawing favourably at barrier two. She will be handled by the in-form Aldo Cortopassi, who is sure to be tempted to make full use of her good gate speed in a bid to burst past Alta Louisa and set the pace. Star Fromthepalace led from the No. 1 barrier and was untroubled to win a qualifying heat from Weewah and Misstiano after speeding over the final 400m in 27.5sec. That improved her record to six wins and nine placings from 26 starts. She is the most experienced filly in the field on Friday night. Blockjorg, to be driven by Jocelyn Young for Vasse trainer Colin Reeves, is handily drawn on the inside of the back line. Two starts ago, as a $21.40 chance, Blockjorg trailed the pacemaking Double Expresso before finishing powerfully to defeat that filly at a 1.55.5 rate over 2130m. Twelve months ago in the Group 1 Diamond Classic for two-year-old fillies Blockjorg was restrained at the start from out wide at barrier eight and was eleventh at the 1200m mark  where she began a three-wide burst which carried her into second place behind the pacemaker Askmeilltellya. Askmeilltellya was prepared by Katja Warwick, who will be pinning her hopes on Friday night on Rockin The Trend, who will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko from barrier three. Rockin The Trend, a winner at three of her 17 starts, impressed in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when she dashed to the front after 700m and careered away from her rivals to win by almost 12 lengths from Soho Crucio, rating 2.0.2 with a final quarter of 28.2sec. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by Weewah (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Intheskyrocket (Ryan Warwick). Weewah (seven wins) and Intheskyrocket (five wins) are in sound form, but face tough tasks from barriers seven and nine, respectively.   Ken Casellas

Bidding is now avaliable in NZB Standardbred’s largest breeding stock sale, the 2020 All Age Sale on gavelhouse.com.   Featuring 148-catalogued lots, bidding will remain open for registered buyers until Wednesday 27 May, with the first Lot closing at 1pm (NZT). To register click here. Buyers have the opportunity to invest in a wide range of bloodstock with proven bloodlines and residual value, including siblings to Group One winners and progeny from Group One-winning dams.  Adding further appeal, all weanlings offered at the All Age Sale are eligible to be nominated for the NZB Standardbred Harness Million Race Series. For more information, contact Cam Bray (Cam.Bray@nzb.co.nz or call +63 21 737 199) or Haylie Martin (Haylie@gavelhouse.com or call +64 22 637 8127).  For an overview of the All Age Sale from NZB Director and Operations Manager James Jennings click here.   Bidding tips Make sure you're registered and your account is set up properly, well before the auction is set to close.  Each auction will auto-extend by adding extra time on if a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds. This will happen indefinitely until no further bids are placed and will also add more time onto each of the subsequent Lots.  Use auto-bids to take the stress out of the final countdown and use the refresh button to make sure your page is keeping up with the live auction. gavelhouse.com cannot identify loss of online connection or browser issues at the user’s end. Even a slight loss of internet connection that may not be noticeable can interrupt the user’s browser in following the sale in real-time therefore setting up an auto-bid is the best way to ensure your bids are placed. Google Chrome or Safari are the recommended internet browsers. gavelhouse.com staff are able assist in actively supporting both buyers and vendors during the sale, if you need a hand with registrations or bidding, we are available on phone +64 9 296 4436 or email info@gavelhouse.com to help.   gavelhouse.com  

Trackside cheers are something of a distant memory due to closed racecourses but there have still been plenty of ownership thrills for trainer Gary Donaldson’s many connections. Pacers Bendigo has rattled off four wins since the April 2 transition to region-based racing, with the diligent work of syndicate members helping cut through social isolation. “Alan Prentice has done a great job,” trainer Gary Donaldson said. “He keeps in contact with all the members and sends emails every second day following their progress. “We chat about two days before they race and I give my ideas about what I think their chances are. Thank God the horses are going good and we have had four wins since region-based racing started, including two in one night, which was a lot of fun. "It’s a shame they can’t be on track, but they are all used to now watching the races on thetrots.com.au. It would be a bit like living in Siberia if the team was not going so good.” The winners have included Rockz Arnt Pets, who along with Leigha Miller won on the first night (April 3) of the Central region's racing. For the first time since that win the gelding races tonight for Donaldson and Pacers Bendigo in the Helloworld Travel Golden Square Pace, the seventh race on the program that streams at 8.21pm on Trots Vision. “He has drawn awkwardly and is first up from a little break,” Donaldson said. “He’s a chance, because he’s a good, little, honest horse and has done a good job, but he probably needs the run. Whatever he does (tonight) he will improve on.” What’s also certain is that there will be plenty of eyes on the four-year-old Pet Rock gelding, with both Pacers Bendigo 1 and 2 among the ownership throng. “Alan and I started Pacers Bendigo in ’92 or ’93 – I used to buy a lot from New Zealand and had success with some smart horses,” Donaldson said. “That ran through to ’96-’97, we had a break and then HRV circulated to clubs that they’d like each of them to kick off a syndicate. “Noel Ridge reeled in Alan Prentice and all the trainers at Bendigo were asked to submit horses they could offer up with the possibility of syndication. I popped a couple of offers in and fortunately they were picked up.” While the “well-bred horse” first offered didn’t reach the lofty heights hoped of it, Donaldson soon made amends for the syndicate with Regal Ambition, “who did a good job” and got the ball rolling. Now the syndicate has a share of six horses. “It’s about a third of the stable. It is not about money for me, but it’s about bringing new people into harness racing," Donaldson said. “Pacers Bendigo has brought in between 25 to 30 people who have never owned a horse before, probably half have never been to harness racing before. And they are absolutely loving it.” TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden have another big line-up for today's Talking Trots on SENTrack, which runs weekdays from 11am-1pm on 1377AM in Melbourne, 657AM in Perth and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.   The good oil from the Vic trials circuit BLACKBOOKER: Mildura, R8 N5, GOVINNI Hasn’t raced in Victoria since December 2016 and has been in Queensland for the past few seasons. He was very impressive at his trial victory where he settled down last early, came out three horses wide at the 600m mark and rushed straight past his rivals, scoring by an ever increasing 40m. REPORT & REPLAY   HRV - Michael Howard  

All three favourites in last night’s two-year-old Diamond Classic heats have safely progressed through to next Friday’s final at Gloucester Park. Unconditional, Minor Catastrophe and Always An Angel were favoured to progress to next Friday’s $100,000 final and each scored contrasting wins. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained Unconditional was able to comfortably find the front from barrier two in the first heat and rated 2.00.6 in the 14.6m win. Minor Catastrophe maintained her unbeaten record in the second heat of the evening but it did have a much more interesting plot than the opener. Chris Lewis looked to find the lead from barrier two with the David Young-trained filly but was held out by the well fancied Letsdancetonight. Lewis was able to slot three pairs back on the pegs and the filly was able to gradually wear down Foxy Rose when she got clear running on the turn for home. Always An Angel was made to work for her win in the third heat of the night, where she rated 1.59.3 sitting outside Benesari Lane in the breeze throughout. The Justin Prentice-trained filly will now take a four race winning streak into the final next week and her only defeat came at her first start in March. Star For Me, Secret Reaction, Star Of The Bay, Foxy Rose, Shes A Bright Star, Letsdancetonight, Bettor Beach Belle, Just For Love and Yellowroseoftexas will join the three heat winners in the Group 1 final. Meanwhile, Prentice looks well placed to complete the three-year-old Diamond Classic-Pearl Classic double with Alta Louisa drawing barrier one for this Friday’s Perth Plasterboard Centre Diamond Classic (2130m). Alta Louisa was an eye-catching third to Blockjorg and Double Expresso in the second heat of the Diamond on May 12 and looks to get her chance to lead in the $50,000 final. Blockjorg will start from barrier 10 and looks poised to get a similar run to what she got when winning the heat. Double Expresso looms as another key player in the race from barrier 12. Star Fromthepalace, who won the other heat of the Diamond Classic, will start from barrier two. A field of six will contest the Members Sprint (1730m) for the Free-For-All pacers. Chicago Bull has drawn barrier three with Vultan Tin and Our Jimmy Johnstone drawn to his inside. El Jacko, Golden State and Iceenothink round out the field.   Tim Walker

A prominent harness racing figure in the mid north region of South Australia has decided it's time to take a change and pursue other interests. Lyndon Hall, who is based at the popular coastal tourist city of Port Pirie, 225 kms from Adelaide, has been training horses for more than 40 years, with an imposing strike-rate. "We've met a lot of lovely people, made a lot of friends and had heaps of fun during our long involvement, but we are now looking to take a different direction," Hall said. "My wife Jacqui and I have two married daughters in Tammi and Jo-Ann, and there's six grand-daughters. So when sporting activities are allowed to start again, there will be lots of netball and basketball on Saturday afternoons," he said. "And of course, I still enjoy my fishing. We plan on getting back into the camping and fishing scene." Hall said he got the harness racing bug as a teenager through the late Bob Clarke, who was a well-known outstanding conditioner of horses in the area. "I learned a great deal from Bob, not only in the training aspects, but also driving. Bob actually let me to drive one of his star pacers in Already to get my driver's licence. I had to do a few satisfactory drives in front of the stewards," he said. "Already was a class horse and I remember him winning a heat and final of the Mildura Pacing Cup in good style. Bob's son Andrew is still training horses at Mt Gambier." Hall said as a youngster he was an apprentice butcher. "Dad owned two shops and asked me which one I would like to take over. I told him that I didn't want either because I was going fishing," he said. "I ended up being a professional fisherman for 14 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I had a go at the hotel business and owned a few over a period of 24 years and we've still got one at Port Broughton." Hall established his training complex on a "couple of hundred acres" near Port Pirie, with a 900metre training track, stables and large paddocks. "We were big supporters of trotting around the area, always racing big teams at our home track as well as others like Whyalla. Jacqui also had three years as Port Pirie President," he said. "I remember taking a record 18 horses one night to Port Pirie, while the most we ever raced at Whyalla was 14. There were plenty of other times when we'd load up the truck and head off to race at other tracks, including Broken Hill and Mildura which were long hauls. "A favorite memory from Broken Hill was one night throwing seven on the truck and getting five winners and two second placing cheques. That was a fun night." Hall was the leading trainer at Port Pirie on five occasions. His career record stands at around 3200 starters for 280 victories, 400 second placings and 480 thirds. He regards a win in a heat and final of the Sunraysia Cup years ago with talented pacer Fifty Gorillas (D M Dilinger-Roxy Bay (Whata Baron) as among his best. "We had Ryan Hryhorec drive the horse in the heat, and the late Gavin Lang in the final. It was the only time we ever had Gavin drive for us," Hall said. "Fifty Gorillas won 20 races for us and then John Heath won a few more when they sent the horse up to him at Menangle. He was first emergency in an Inter Dominion final at Sydney and narrowly missed getting a start because there was a scratching at 9.10 am-10 minutes too late to get a start! "I think Fifty Gorillas was the fastest horse bred by D M Dillinger for a while-he could still even hold that mantle." Hall said he also admired a pacer who is still at his place recovering from a hoof injury in Mymatethomo. "He is one of the nicest horses I've ever had. He had a strong will to win and possessed sheer speed when he was right. One of his greatest wins was as a C1 assessed pacer up against FFA horses and he come out and took the Whyalla Cup," he said. So while it's a safe bet to say that fish, crabs and other seafood delicacies will be on the dinner plate if you visit the Halls in the future, there's a chance you may even be challenged to a game of darts. Hall has a sharp eye and still harbors a love for the sport. But a word of warning: he was the state champion in the 90s and won several championships. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

On 23 December 2019, licensed trainer-driver Ellen Tormey and licensed trainer-driver Glenn Douglas both applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the findings and penalties imposed on each of them by the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals & Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 19 December 2019. The details of the HRV RAD Board matter in respect of both Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas can be viewed here, while the further HRV RAD Board Media Release regarding Ms Tormey can be found here. On 19 May 2020, VCAT handed down a decision in relation to the applications of Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas.  VCAT Senior Member Dea found that VCAT has no jurisdiction in the proceeding and that it was appropriate that the application be dismissed under section 75(1)(a) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Senior Member Dea also found that it was appropriate for the stay orders made on 23 December 2019 to be set aside. The full decision of 19 May 2020 can be viewed here. On 20 May 2020, Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas both applied to VCAT to have the operation of the tribunal’s orders of 19 May 2020 stayed pursuant to section 149(1) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Subsequently, VCAT Senior Member Dea ordered that the tribunal's orders of 19 May 2020 be stayed until the determination of the appeal or further order of the Tribunal or the Court on condition that the applicants file and serve any appeal by 4pm on 17 June 2020.

Pacific Rocket US was humanely euthanised today at owner Dr Andrew & Suzanne Daniels property near Oberon in NSW after a sustained bout of colic.  “Rocket” as he was affectionately known, joined the stallion ranks at Dr Daniels’  Calderwood Farm, in Albion Park NSW in 2008, having already started a successful stud career in both the US and New Zealand. He was a lovely black horse standing just over 16hh and was always a pleasure to handle and be around, which made stud duties a dream, as long you were quiet. Word has it that Rocket liked quiet time when it was his turn to be collected, so all mobile phone were turned off and his handlers also had to be gentle and quiet or the deed just would not get done.  His last foals in Australia were born in the 2013/2014 season. He had a respectable record in Australia with 140 starters for 89 winners at an average of $21k in stakes.  Pacific Rocket, himself was a star on the track, with a race time of 1:50  and a career of 64 starts for 30 wins & 22 placings plus prizemoney earnings of over $2.3m.  During his career,  he set and equalled world records on half and five-eighths mile tracks and held a string of track records. As a three-year-old he won $1.4million racing against top horses such as Cam’s Card Shark, Magical Mike, Armbro Macintosh, Falcon’s Future & Hi Ho Silverheels amongst others.  As a sire in the US, Pacific Rockets sired progeny with massive earnings of over $29 million. These included the dual Breeders Crown Champion, Boulder Creek 1.48.2  $2.3 million in prizemoney.  Notable performers sired by Pacific Rocket in Australasia include Shardon’s Rocket 1.54 45 wins and $626K, Rocket Reign 1.56.2 24 wins $424K, Pacific Warrior 1.54.8 28 wins $343K & Mister Skye Rocket 1.56.1 44 wins $268K amongst many others.  He also left his mark as a broodmare sire, being the broodmare sire of exceptional mare Don’t Think Twice 1.51.2 $445K 22 wins, Dynamite Denn Nee 1.52.9 $292K 22 wins  & Our Els Dream 1.51.2 $411K 38 wins.  Rest easy “Rocket” and let your progeny take the reins.    Joanne Anderson

By Dave Di Somma -Harness News Desk The father-son combo of Tim and Riley Butt continues to kick goals. Last night Tact Tama, trained by Tim and driven by his son, was untroubled to make it four wins from four starts. Starting a $1.50 favourite the son of Christian Cullen speared to lead from barrier five in race six at Menangle in Sydney and from there the result was never in doubt. The four year old cruised to the line to win by over seven lengths. The winning time for the 1609 metres was 1:51.9. Tim Butt moved to Australia permanently around three years ago after a highly successful career on this side of the Tasman guiding such stars as Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, Mr Feelgood and Flashing Red.

ANTHONY Butt thinks one-time “nutcase” Wolf Stride is a Grand Circuit horse in the making. But will that be enough to win a super-strong $100,000 Group 1 NSW Metropolitan Region final (2300m) at Menangle on Saturday night? “I really like him, like him a lot. My opinion’s really soared over the past eight weeks or so when we’ve asked more of him and he’s really stepped-up,” he said. “He just did it so easily in the heat, running quick overall time, but finishing it off in 25.9sec without me asking him to do much at all. “But he’ll need to be good. This is a strong race. Craig Cross’s team is in such great form and they’ve got five through the final.” The Emilio Rosati-owned and bred Wolf Stride went through a few stables before landing with Butt and arrived with “luggage.” “They said he’d been a real handful. He’d run out he gate one night and refused to circle around at the start a few times as well,” Butt said. “Despite all that, everyone said he had plenty of ability so we took just decided to take it really slowly with him and see what was there. “He came back from about six months out and ran a terrific third at his first run for us when he sat parked at Menangle. “Then he won a couple, but did so without setting the world alight, but then when we backed him up quickly he really started to thrive and improve. “Even since his won his heat of this series (May 5), his work seems to have got better again. He works like a Grand Circuit horse.” Wolf Stride heads into Saturday night’s final on a five-race winning streak and is $2.60 favourite from gate six. “It’s a good draw without being great because he’s got some good ones inside him, but the way he’s going I’m sure he’ll run a mighty race,” Butt said. Butt also has $61 outsider Always A Stride in the final from a wide draw in gate nine. Of Cross’s five finalists, heat winners Culture King (gate eight, $3.20) and First String (three, $5.50) are the major hopes. Luke McCarthy has opted to drive Culture King with his brother, Todd, aboard the likely early leader First String. In other stable news, Butt said his buzz three-year-old trotter Elite Stride was “having two to three weeks out” before deciding how the rest of his season looked. “We’re really waiting on HRV to say when or if they’ll run the Victoria Trotters’ Derby,” Butt said. “It’s not a given we’ll go there, but it’s a key to working out whether do chase it or wait for the Breeders Crown, which sounds like it’ll be in November.” Butt and fiancé Sonya Smith expects to have “eight or 10” targeting the Breeders Crown in Victoria. Leading the way will be star three-year-old pacing pair Line Up and Perfect Stride. “They’ve both just come back in and will start to hopple-up again soon. They’re really just in limbo a bit until we get closer to the Breeders Crown,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

Talented young Melton harness racing trainer-driver Kylie Sugars was always aware her trotter Sammy Showdown had a bit of class, but his rapid rise to prominence has even given her a pleasant surprise. Sugars is doing her best to keep her feet firmly on the ground, but she has every reason to be proud of her careful management of the four-year-old. "He's the best horse I've ever had by far. He's a fantastic miler and the 1720m trips are his forte. But I suppose he's also quite respectable over the longer races as he showed two starts ago at Melton," Sugars said. "As a three-year-old he looked to be able to run a bit. I was aiming at the Holmfield and I think it was a week before that race he injured a hind tendon. So he was out last year for six months, resuming in November," she said. "It's hard to believe that he had a 54 rating not all that long ago and now he's against the fast class horses and has competed in two Group Ones. It really has been phenomenal." In the past six months, Sammy Showdown (Bacardi Lindy-Alabama Showdown (Yankee Paco) has undoubtedly established himself as one of our most exciting square-gaiting prospects. He went out a winner before his injury on May 16 last year, returned to racing (and the winner's circle) on November 30, and has continued to build a nice-looking "picket fence" since, a winner of eight of his past 11. At his most recent win at Melton last Saturday night, Sammy Showdown was nursed quietly out of the gate by Sugars to land in the one-one position. Imperial Whiz, who had good support, lobbed in front, while another with admirers in Savannah Jay Jay went to the rear after being caught wide. Sugars moved three deep on the home corner. They joined in strongly and quickly raced away to bolt in by 17 metres in a time of 1.57-6. To watch the video replay click here "Sammy" is also providing his breeder, successful real estate agent Graeme Rayner, with plenty of fun. Rayner races the horse in partnership with Sugars and is thoroughly enjoying the ride after a long involvement in the sport. Sammy Showdown and Kylie Sugars made it six in a row in the Vulcan Trotters Free for All in February.  Owner Graeme Rayner is with his partner Dot Sugars said a trip to Menangle on Miracle Mile day with Sammy Showdown in early March was a memorable experience. "I'd never taken a horse away before and to be part of such an awesome meeting was huge. I think 'Sammy' probably handled the whole thing better than his trainer-driver!" The pair competed in the Aquagait $50,000 Trotters' G1 Mile and ran a slashing third (beaten 1.1m) to Big Jack Hammer and Red Hot Tooth in a mile rate of 1.54-7. Sugars is a sister of Victoria's champion reinsman Greg Sugars, and, apart from Sammy Showdown, has two others in her team. One is, of course, a trotter, two-year-old filly Euryphaessa, a daughter of Majestic Son, who debuted at Ballarat last week for a second placing. "I like having a little team to mess around with," she said. "I really enjoy the training side of the industry, but I'll keep driving 'Sammy' because I like to handle the ones I train. And I'm probably spoilt with him because he's super easy to drive." Sugars said she planned to keep Sammy Showdown "ticking over" until it's clear when the Vicbred and other good races will be conducted following the disruption due to COVID-19. "He's also great to train with a lovely personality. He can be a sook because he likes being at home and in his usual routine," she said. "I'm sort of thinking perhaps one more run and then a short three-week break. I'll get a better guide soon when the dates for the features are released." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

Smart juvenile Carabao has stamped himself as a live player in upcoming two-year-old feature races by taking out the Rockingham Ram 2YO Pace (2185m) at Pinjarra this afternoon. Carabao showed he had plenty of ability in his last start second at Bunbury last Saturday and was sent out a well-supported $1.28 favourite today. The American Ideal gelding led comfortably from barrier one and clocked a modest lead time and first half in 44.4 and 63.2 respectively. When driver Kim Prentice asked the Bryan Cousins-trained pacer for an effort he responded terrifically to score by 13.8m to Arma Einstein and Otis and ran home in 56.8 in doing so. Prentice said Carabao made a strong statement this afternoon and was bullish he could measure up to the best two-year-olds in the state. “He ran home in 27.1 and felt really good in doing it,” Prentice told RWWA Harness. “The more racing he’s doing the better he’s getting. “It’s the first time we’ve used him out of the gate and it’s good to know he can go quick as well. “He’s been a late nomination for Friday night and it looks like three or four of the best two-year-olds are in that too. “Bryan didn’t want him to have a fortnight off before the Pearl Classic heats, so by running Friday night it will be a week and a half into the heats.” Carabao is also expected to tackle the Westbred colts and geldings Classic and Golden Slipper in June and July respectively. Meanwhile, 11-year-old Disco Spirit caused a major boilover in the Murray Veterinary Services Pace (2631m). The gelding scored his 11th win at his 151st start and upstaged fancied pair Divinia Bellezza and Kiwi Bloke. Elsewhere, Alta Cinderella made it two wins in a row to start her career as she led home a Gary Hall Snr-trained quinella in the Medic Aid Pace (1684m) for the fillies and mares. Alta Cinderella scored by 5.5m to stablemate Princess Christiano.   Tim Walker

Australian harness racing has lost one of the sport's most successful trainers and influential figures, Graeme Lang. 87-year-old Lang had struggled with health issues since late last year, and passed away this morning, less than a month after his son Gavin lost a battle with cancer. Gavin Lang's death brought to an end one of the most successful harness racing father-and-son combinations in the sport, as both had been inducted as Legends of the sport's exclusive Caduceaus Club. In more than 60 years in the sport, Graeme Lang trained 12,395 starters, had 1822 career wins for $10.5 million in stakes. The Wimmera-born son of a farmer and hobby trainer, Graeme Lang was the complete horseman. Preparing his first winner in the 1950s, Graeme Lang went on to become a five-time leading Victorian state trainer and two-time leading Victorian state driver. He was crowned the leading Australian driver in 1979/80 and secured a swag of major awards in the sport through the late 1960s, 70s and 80s. A wily trainer, a skilful driver and an astute farrier, Lang's affinity with the equine cleared the way for an unforgettable ride with talented but erratic square-gaiter Scotch Notch (Scottish Bret-Ada Glenfern (Tarport Kid) in harness racing's golden era in the 1980s. Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch Lang, trained and drove Scotch Notch for most of her career, but it was his fastidious preparation that put the polish on the trotter, who went on to become a Hall-of-Famer. Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang – an unforgettable ride He rated her as "the best squaregaiter produced in Australasia" and few would argue. The dual Inter Dominion champion won 43 races in Australia, four in New Zealand, and a further 18 in a much-anticipated United States campaign. Her resume included five Group Ones for earnings of $670,000. Graeme Lang's love of the sport was passed on to his sons, Gavin and Chris - Chris, as a squaregaiting trainer and driver is unparalleled while the late Gavin Lang was superior to any driver before him in the cart. Known in the sport as "Daddy" Lang, Graeme observed last year that his sons' talents didn't come as a surprise. "Gavin and Chris drive extremely well because they are extremely good horsemen, and why shouldn't they be?" Graeme said. "I remember my mother going crook at me because I would let them drive fast work at home when they were seven or eight years old. Both of them had a lot of experience early on. It is very rare that horses don't do their best for them. They drive the race to suit the horse to start with, and they know when a horse is doing his best and when he's not." The grand-master of harness racing was presented with the Gordon Rothacker Medal on a memorable night at Tabcorp Park Melton in 2013. Lang had a massive influence on the sport for many years and still held a trainer's licence, and competed up until September last year. His last win was, appropriately, a Group race, with square gaiter Save Our Pennys in the E B Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat in January last year. E B Cochran Trotters Cup Save Our Pennys had finished fourth in the Inter Dominion trotting final at Melton, only a few months earlier. Farewell to one of the true champions of Harness Racing Graeme Lang. Harnesslink extends its condolences to the Lang family. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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