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Chase Auckland is the outright favourite for the Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup after the barrier draw tonight at the MCG. Punters swarmed on $3.3 and backed the Kiwi five-year-old after he draw gate four. Unlucky in the Ballarat Cup last time out when an eye-catching third to A G’s White Socks, Chase Auckland drew much better than that horse for Saturday night’s $500,000 Hunter Cup.  A G’s White Socks will have to come from gate 11. Four-year-old freak Lochinvar Art, who shocked Australasia with his blistering track-record run of 1:48.6 in the 4YO Bonanza, drew gate seven tonight, while Mach Shard (pictured, by Stuart McCormick) is a live chance from barrier two, one spot outside of Alta Orlando in gate one. Craig Demmler had no luck at the gate draw, pulling barrier 13 with My Kiwi Mate. Despite the alley, Demmler is far from conceding. “On his run the other night I was rapt. I think he was a little bit short of a run. He’s an opportunist, I’ve always said that. But I always go back to 2000 and he just reminds me so much of Breenys Fella and this guy gives me so much joy. I just hope he can help our supporters out and get home. I’m really happy with how he’s working,” Demmler said. The barrier draw was also conducted for the What The Hill Great Southern Star, with full details here.   GoodForm analyst Blake Redden breaks down the Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup chances runner-by-runner immediately post-barrier draw 1. Alta Orlando ($7.5 at TAB) Underrated pacer who was outstanding in the Blacks A Fake over winter. The big question is whether he can hold Mach Shard early, if he doesn’t he’ll likely end up shuffled back and playing for luck. 2. Mach Shard ($4 with TAB) Quick beginner who will hand over to an appropriate rival if he finds the pegs early. The way he is going right now he deserves to be one the second favourite. 3. King Of Swing (Emergency $10 with TAB) – X-factor horse who ripped around Menangle recently and if he gets a run he’ll make his presence felt. 4. Chase Auckland ($3.1 with TAB) Only continues to enhance his reputation after a run of the race performance in the Ballarat Cup. Is tonight the night the All Stars pull the trigger and fire him forward in search of the lead? 5. Cash N Flow ($21 with TAB) Definite question marks about this guy over a staying trip and while he does have some early toe, he may not want to use it here. 6. Triple Eight ($21 with TAB) Progressive pacer who stepped up to be competitive through the Inter Dominion. He will need plenty to go right but he might just be the best of the roughies with the right run. 7. Lochinvar Art ($8.5 with TAB) The excitement horse of the race but he’s been dealt a cruel blow at the draw. Probably looks to slide back early and get a cart in late. 8. Our Uncle Sam ($21 with TAB) This draw will either be a blessing or a curse but this will be a tough ask even if a few things go his way. 9. Code Bailey ($11 with TAB) Follows out a quick beginner. He’s still unlikely to find the front which will make it pretty difficult. 10. Bling It On ($9 with TAB) Versatile pacer who looks to be getting back to his mind-boggling Victoria Cup form from earlier in the season. If there is any chink in his rivals armory, he can expose it. 11. A Gs White Socks ($7 with TAB) Ballarat Cup winner who is by no means a one trick pony. He will drift from what was equal favouritism pre-draw but I’m expecting him to have supporters on the night. 12. San Carlo ($41 with TAB) Gets his chance to be driven ice cold in a big race which has worked for him in the past. Expect to see him driven quietly and rushing home late if there’s speed on. 13. My Kiwi Mate ($51 with TAB) Dynamic sit/sprinter at this level but he’ll need plenty of favours to win here.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

New Zealand rising superstar Oscar Bonavena opened $2.8 favourite immediately after the barrier draw tonight for the What The Hill Great Southern Star despite drawing outside of Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley. The Mark Purdon-trained Oscar Bonavena pulled barrier four at the barrier draw, which was conducted at the MCG, with Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley securing gate three. Purdon said Oscar Bonavena was underdone when he ran eighth first-up in Australia in last weekend's Dullard Cup. “He trained well this morning but going back to the run, when he came over, he’s got a couple of issues. We decided to do a bit of swimming and I don’t think he got enough out of it. He went into Saturday night a little bit short,” Purdon said. But this weekend will be a different story. Purdon was definitive.  “He trained great this morning and I’m sure we’ll see a fitter Oscar Bonavena this week," he said. “We’ll come out well but I don’t think you want to get into a speed duel early. He’ll cross to one off the markers and hopefully one out wide comes out with him and gives him cover, that’d be the best scenario. "But he’ll be back to full fitness by Saturday." Josh Dickie, who has picked up the drive aboard Gath-trained McLovin, said he was thrilled to be driving for such a respected trainer of trotters. “It's great to drive for Andy, I’m sure he’ll have the horse in good order and hopefully we have some luck," he said. “The first time I sat behind McLovin I was very impressed. I’d always seen him go well in Australia but sometimes it’s not until you drive them you think ‘he’s a bit better than I thought’. He gave me a lovely feel. It was a shame what happened to him at Auckland because I dare say Inter Dominion series would have been a bit different if he’d been 100 per cent." But Dickie said he had a lot of respect for Oscar Bonavena and in fact said the Kiwi was "no doubt our top trotter going forward".  “Oscar’s a special horse and with the wrap that’s been on him he’s probably been criticised a lot heavier than others would have been. He’s a four-year-old, so he’s a baby compared to the open-class trotters. From what I’ve seen and I’ve driven against him, his speed is phenomenal." Reigning Great Southern Star champ Dance Craze drew inside the back row in barrier eight, which could suit the powerful sit-sprinter, while noted on-pacer Red Hot Tooth was a big winner, snaring barrier one for trainer Kari Males.  Shortly after markets reopened following the draw Majestic Man was specked, $16 into $14.  Meanwhile, Caduceus Club MC and noted trotting form student Bill Hutchison said this line-up was possibly the "greatest trotting field" assembled in Australian history.  No driver has ever won two Great Southern Stars, but previous winners Kate Gath (who drove 2017 champion Glenferrie Typhoon) and Mark Purdon (who drove Dance Craze last year) look a good chance to break that tradition this year aboard Tornado Valley and Oscar Bonavena.  GoodForm's Blake Redden described Tornado Valley as "the best leader we've seen in the trotting ranks for many a year" and says the local is the "horse to beat". His full comments can be read below.   GoodForm analyst Blake Redden breaks down the What The Hill Great Southern Star chances runner-by-runner immediately post-barrier draw 1: Red Hot Tooth ($7 with TAB) This mare has the speed to kick through early and given she’ll likely sit on one of the favourite for the race, she’s a genuine knockout chance. 2: Massive Metro ($13 with TAB) Had an outstanding Inter Dominion in his homeland and he is pretty tough so he’s hard to discount despite the potentially tricky gate. 3: Tornado Valley ($3 with TAB) Arguably the best leader we’ve seen in the trotting ranks for many a year. He has the gate speed to lead and while he never wins by big margins, he’s the horse to beat. 4: Oscar Bonavena ($2.8 with TAB) Disappointing at his first Australian start but he has a huge boom on him. He should settle handy and clearly one of the horses to beat. 5: Sky Petite ($61 with TAB) Quality mare at her best but even with all her gate speed she’s unlikely to lead which makes it hard to see her winning. 6: Sundons Courage ($101 with TAB) This fella has come back in great form but he’s unlikely to lead from out wide which makes things tricky for him here. 7: Tough Monarch ($35 with TAB) Hard to know exactly how this bloke is going, he’s probably going to have to do work at some stage which is a tough ask in this type of race. 8: Dance Craze ($13 with TAB) The nation’s most exciting trotting mare is unlikely to be any closer than three poles in transit but if the gaps open she’ll be roaring home. 9: Margaret Ruth (EM) ($151 with TAB) Lovely mare who will enjoy the staying trip if she gets a run but this is as strong a race as she’s ever seen. 10: Majestic Man ($14 with TAB) Established himself through the New Zealand Inter Dominion series and in any other year he’d be in this up to his ears. In this edition he will need everything to go right. 11: Mclovin ($16 with TAB) Quality trotter at his best. He’ll need a few things to go his way from out the back and he’s probably stronger than he is quick which may not be suitable the way the draws have fallen. 12: Temporale ($7 with TAB) A good barrier wasn’t required for his stunning win last weekend but he will need some fortune from out here. 13: Wobelee ($31 with TAB) Total excitement machine who measured up at his first crack at this level at Ballarat. He’s out of the draw but if they run along in front he will produce a booming finish.   JASON BONNINGTON AND ADAM HAMILTON ARE JOINED BY MARK PURDON, CRAIG DEMMLER AND JOSH DICKIE: WATCH A REPLAY OF THE HUNTER CUP AND GREAT SOUTHERN STAR BARRIER DRAWS:   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Alabar Farms’ Alan Galloway has been installed as a Caduceus Club Living Legend, honouring a significant contribution to the Australasian breeding industry. Mr Galloway accepted his award via video after being unable to attend the announcement, part of the Del-Re National A. G Hunter Cup barrier draw, owing to the death of his father, Alan Snr. Mr Galloway said he was “honoured” to receive the award and dedicated it to his father. His son, Tom, and Alabar Farms’ Brett Coffey were in attendance to accept the award on his behalf. SEE BELOW A VIDEO ANNOUNCING ALAN GALLOWAY’S INDUCTION     HRV Trots Media    

Mention the name Mark Dennis to New Zealand based harness racing fans and they might vaguely remember a young Purdon / Payne trained runner with a fair bit of ability. Mention the same name to Australian followers of the game and you’ll be quickly made aware that the horse is still winning! That’s right, the now 11 year old ex-kiwi brought up his 45th win just last week at Menangle clocking an impressive 1:52.9 for the mile in the hands of Lauren Tritton.    Mark Dennis started his career in victorious style in late mid October of 2011 at Addington Raceway with a victory over the likes of All Star Man (8 subsequent wins) and the Cran Dalgety trained speed-machine Texican. His last start on New Zealand soil came just three weeks later in the Sires Stakes 3yr Old Final and saw the gelding by Bettor’s Delight produce a fighting 5th behind Texican after having to work around the field mid-race, his late charge up the passing lane peaking a little too soon to see him victorious.   The horse was almost immediately exported to Australia where he’s excelled ever since.   His racing career on the track in Australia has seen it’s fair share of highlights and close calls. A Group 3 victory in the ‘Temprid Insecticide Pace” eradicated any notion that the horse couldn’t compete for Group honors. That effort was quickly followed by a slew of group racing appearances with a 3rd in the Group 1 Cordina Sprint of 2014 behind Suave Stuey Lombo most probably representing the zenith of his career. A long stint in South Australia from 2014-2018 saw consistent results particularly around the Globe Derby track with both Mark Billinger and Ryan Hryhorec enjoying success when partnered with the bay. Mark Dennis The well travelled horse, whose career now spans a total of 249 starts, has won races at tracks throughout Australia with victories at Mildura, Melton, Albion Park, Kapunda and Cranbourne to go alongside his most winning ways around Menangle and the fore-mentioned Globe Derby. His most recent turning-back-the-clock performance a reminder to all that  writing off  Mark Dennis due to his advancing years is a very risky proposition indeed. The racing success of Mark Dennis can, at least partly, be attributed to his impeccable breeding as the son of Bettor’s Delight is out of the proven broodmare Twice As Good. Along with Mark Dennis the Butler B G mare has foaled Fight Fire With Fire (7 wins, $150,000) the Group 1 Queen Of Hearts winner Waitfornoone and the consistent St Barts who ran Monkey King to a nose at Addington in the Winter Cup of 2009.  He’d go on to notch up 14 wins and over $150,000 in earnings across both New Zealand and Australia. A number of yearlings from this strong family are to be offered at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. Two of which both come from the Breckon Farms draft. Lot 118, a brown filly by A Rocknroll Dance, is out of Fellamongstabeauty (1 win from 2 starts) who is a 1/2 sister to the mother of the dominate 4yr old Pacing Mare Of The Year Elle Mac. Elle Mac claimed numerous Group 1 titles including, but not limited to, the Northern Oaks, Sires Stakes 3yr Old Fillies Championship, Caduceus Club 2yr old Fillies and Harness Jewels. The A Rocknroll Dance sire choice makes sense when you consider that the now Australian based Miss Streisand, who placed 4th in the Victorian Oaks, is also by the sire and raced with distinction in New Zealand prior to being exported. Lot 118 - Dancing Desire Lot 121 is another yearling with close ties to Mark Dennis. “In The Spotlight” a Bettor’s Delight filly is out of the early-going Goodlookingbabe who was impressive on the track with 3 wins from just 14 starts when racing out of the Geoff Small stable. “In The Spotlight” is only the second foal out of the mare with her first foal being sold for $35’000 at the 2019 sales. Lot 121 - In The Spotlight Ben McMillan  

The progeny of Always B Miki broke records at the harness racing Brisbane APG sale! Three of his progeny sold for an average of $53,833 with a top price of $77,500. Congratulations to Lindsay and Mary Vagg who sold the top lot and to Goodtime Lodge for making the purchase. Victree Bette colt - $77,500 (record QLD price). Vendor: LJ Vagg & ME Vagg. Oh So Hippie colt - $60,000. Vendor: Wayne Comerford. Rockin Riches colt - $24,000. Vendor: Pinaroo Park. Victree Bette is by Bettors Delight and has already produced the Group 1 winner Pinup Boy. It is tremendous to see such results for a stallion we have a huge amount of faith in. Be sure to check out the Always B Miki yearlings at the upcoming sales across Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks - don't miss out on securing one! ALWAYS B MIKI'S SALE HIGHLIGHTS Leading first season sire at the 2019 US yearling sales (third overall behind only Somebeachsomewhere and Captaintreacherous) Leading sire at the 2020 Brisbane APG yearling sale Second leading sire at the 2019 NZB Auckland All Age Sale behind Art Major (3+ weanlings)   The sale topper!

A very tough Down Under harness racing pacer continues winning races at aged 12. Bettors Fire N, the winner of over $1m, wins again at Yonkers Raceway, in the $20,000 pace in 1:54.1, for trainer Heidi Gibbs and driver Ron Cushing. It was the son of Bettors Delights 57th career victory and holds a lifetime mark of 1:50.2. While racing Down Under, Bettors Fire N was the winner of a staggering 12 Group races and was also placed at Group level on a further 10 occasions. Bettors Fire N is out of top mare Sparks A Flyin 1:52 ($650,000), makes him a ¾ brother to Saturday nights Victorian Oaks winner Dr Susan NZ. This is a family in top form. Bettors Fire N Nice Down Under pacer ticks over a quarter of a million dollars in stakes with latest win. Stars Align A was seen winning the $22,000 pace at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night, clocking a time of 1:54.2 around the half mile (800m) racetrack, for trainer Rene Allard and driver Daniel Dube. It notched the son of Art Major's lifetime earnings past $313,000, while being his 16th career victory. The 7yo Entire holds a lifetime marks of 1:50.8. When racing Down Under, Stars Align was placed at Group level twice while racing at stakes level. Stars Align A   Monday 20th January   Yonkers Raceway NY Bettors Fire N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $20,000 Alberto Contador N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $14,500 Globaldomination N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $16,000   Tuesday 21st January   The Meadows PA The Spinster N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $9,600   Yonkers Raceway NY Motu Moonbeam N – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $14,500   Wednesday 22nd January   Dover Downs DE Bettor Rock On N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $5,000 Firebby A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $7,500 Anytime N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $9,500 Rock N Shard N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $16,000 Delishka N – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $25,000 Flashazz N – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $11,500   Monticello Raceway NY Naughty Maravu N – Time: 1:57.2, Stake: $5,500   Rosecroft Raceway MD Jive Dancing A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $8,500   Thursday 23rd January   Dover Downs DE Bad Boy Brad A – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $15,000   Monticello Raceway NY Fiery Lustre N – Time: 1:59.2, Stake: $2,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Shezallapples A – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $12,500   Friday 24th January   Miami Valley Raceway OH Onspeed N – Time: 1:57.2, Stake: $10,000   The Meadows PA Mister Spot A – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $13,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Northern Assassin A – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $12,500 Milliondollargem A – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $22,000 Sudden Change N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $20,000 Titanium N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $14,500   Woodbine Mohawk Park CA Sly Eleanor N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $20,00   Saturday 25th January   Freehold Raceway NJ Shineonucrazydiamond A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $12,000 Matchu N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $7,700   Meadowlands NJ Lifeonthebeach A – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $11,250   Miami Valley Raceway OH Iam Erik N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $15,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Anythingforlove A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $20,000 Stars Align A – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $22,000 Soho Lennon A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $27,000   Woodbine Mohawk Park CA Sweet N Fast N – Time: 1:57.0, Stake: $12,000 Heza Thrill N – Time: 1:57.4, Stake: $14,000   Sunday 26th January   Pompano Park FL Alluneedisfaith N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $9,500   Carter Dalgety

Lilydale hobby breeder Shane Hawes is probably best known as the breeder-owner of the smart racemare Ark Breeze, the winner of the 2016 Granny Smith and runner-up in the Bandbox.   He will be offering the first offspring of the Stonebridge Regal mare, a lovely colt from the initial crop of the USA Breeders Crown and Adios winner Racing Hill at the Tasmanian Harness Sale at Carrick on Saturday, February 15.   The colt ranks as a half-brother to Frankie Falzoni (11 wins and $81,890) and recent Launceston winner Ark Fury, who were both bred by Hawes. He is Lot 1 in the catalogue.   The other entry from Hawes is a bay colt from the first crop of the dual Vicbred champion and Chariots of Fire and South Australian Pacing Cup winner Guaranteed.   The colt’s dam, Flightofthedragon, is a Shadow Play daughter of the Matron Stakes winner Penny’s Dragon and is a member of the same family as the Tasmanian classics winners Carla Ross, Celtic Ross and Ellie Ross.   He is the first foal of his unraced dam and is listed as Lot 10.   Both colts are being prepared for the sale by Bangor horsemen Michael and Jim Smith, of All Style Sammy fame.   Hawes, a retired smelter worker, has been involved in harness racing since 1996. His other credits include the Belmont winner Our Meadow Lady, the Dandy Patch placegetter Rockandahardplace, Just Lucky (8 wins), Apache River, Barbies Ticket and Dont Blink.     by Peter Wharton

Enthusiastic Ballarat teenager Brent Murphy was probably always going to find his way into harness racing - and recently he got the perfect kick start to his career. Murphy is the son of respected trainer and driver David and his wife Erin and landed his first-ever winner when successful with Madeeba at Maryborough last Thursday afternoon. "It was pretty exciting. I've only had about a dozen drives so it was awesome to get my first winner. I won quite comfortably, but dad told me I may have gone for home a bit early!" Murphy said. The youngster, who celebrated his 18th birthday yesterday, is now full-time in the industry, working for his parents, who prepare a team of about 20 horses at their Dunnstown property, just 15 minutes east of Ballarat. "I finished Year 11 last year with a certificate two in agriculture. But I was always going to be doing the horses because I've been around them for as long as I can remember," Murphy said. "There will be mum, dad and myself doing them, although my younger brother Declan is keen too and recently started trackwork, so it won't be too long before he joins us as well," he said. "We have an older brother in Aidan, but he's not into them much at all." Murphy said while he was pleased to post his first winner, he was elated to get success for John and Maree Caldow, of Melton. "They are just great and whenever I bump into John, we always have a bit of a joke. He's a fantastic fella," Murphy said. After starting two off the inside of the back row with the beautifully-bred Madeeba (Courage Under Fire-Mesmerizing (Our Sir Vancelot), Murphy showed a cool head to bide his time and landed nicely in the one-out line and three back. "The horse felt great in the run and when the tempo picked up in the final half, he was always travelling on the bit," he said. Murphy angled out three wide into the home corner and Madeeba knuckled down nicely. He scored by five metres from Australian Bite with Raptover A Rainbow a further two metres away in third spot. The time was a respectable 1.58-5 on a rain affected track. To watch the video replay click here. "The track attendants were obviously aware it was my first winner and they clapped and cheered me off the track. It was a nice bit of fun and I had a few beers to celebrate later with dad on our way home," he said. "Then there were more celebrations with mum and the rest of the family because we went out that night." Murphy said he decided to give up on tennis a few years ago to make way for the horses. "But I'm hoping to be able to stick with football. My two brothers play, but we'll have to see how it goes. For the moment I've got to just aim at getting another winner at the trots!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A half-brother to the harness racing Breeders Crown champion Hurricane Harley and half-sisters to the APG Final and Breeders Crown winner Follow The Stars and the Victoria Derby and dual Breeders Crown champion Our Little General will spearhead the Northern Rivers Equine draft at the Australian Pacing Gold sale at Oaklands Junction on Sunday, February 2. Northern Rivers Equine, Kyabram, the home of American Ideal, Mel Mara and Yankee Rockstar, will present 13 yearlings – four colts and nine fillies – on behalf of clients Lauriston Bloodstock, Greg Fleming and Phil and Tracey Wade. Bill and Anne Anderson’s Lauriston Bloodstock, the dual Victorian Breeders of the Year and whose stock have won 25 Group 1 races to date, have nominated eight superbly bred yearlings – two colts and six fillies. Their consignment includes a Somebeachsomewhere colt from the APG Final winner Musical Delight (Lot 171); a Bettor’s Delight half-sister to Our Little General and Kasbah Kid (Lot 153); an Art Major half-brother to Hurricane Harley and Mango Stride (1:50.9) as Lot 230; a Captaintreacherous half-sister to Follow The Stars and APG runner-up Stefsbest (Lot 222); an Art Major sister to the Victoria Sapling winner Abouttime and half-sister to the speedy None Bettor (1:48.8) as Lot 158; a Sweet Lou filly out of the Breeders Crown champion Glenferrie Shuffle (Lot 122); a Bettor’s Delight half-sister to three in 1:56 including Rocknroll Icon (Lot 189); and an American Ideal filly from the Group 3 placegetter Artistic Angel (Lot 73). Swan Hill breeder-owner Greg Fleming, who bred and raced the former top racemare Helen’s Bonus, is selling at the APG for the first time. Fleming has nominated two progeny of the champion American juvenile and now leading sire Captaintreacherous. Lot 127 is a colt out of the McArdle mare Glitterazzi, a half-sister to millionaire pacer Bling It On and the Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling, while Lot 68 is a filly from the prolific WA and USA winner Arctic Fire, a half-sister to the NZ 2YO Filly of the Year Classy Filly. Kyabram breeders Phil and Tracey Wade, who bred, raised and sold the Group placegetter Dee Double You at the 2017 APG sale, have a three-prong draft at this year’s sale. They are offering a grand looking filly from the first crop of world champion Always B Miki that is a half-sister to Dee Double You and hails from the family of crack racemares Louvre and Miss Hazel, as Lot 148. The Wade’s other two yearlings are both by A G’s White Socks’ sire, the great Rock N Roll Heaven. Lot 204 is a half-brother to Philtra Phella, a winner of 20 races in Victoria and Tasmania and almost $100,000, while Lot 235 is a daughter of the Somebeachsomewhere mare Somesorta Philtra, a half-sister to Dee Double You. For an inspection of the Northern Rivers Equine draft phone Kath McIntosh on 0427 497 429 or (03) 5852 2845. Peter Wharton  

JOSH Dickie’s Melbourne holiday just got a more exciting. Dickie came to Melbourne with partner, Sammy Kilgour, to watch her star pacer Bling It On chase the Hunter Cup. But now Dickie has picked-up a Group 1 drive himself, aboard the Andy and Kate Gath-trained McLovin in Saturday night’s $250,000 Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton. Kate Gath was expected to wait until tomorrow night’s (Tuesday) barrier draw to choose her drive, but has already committed to former Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley. “Kate’s definitely driving Tornado so we offered Josh (Dickie) the drive on McLovin,” Andy Gath said. “Josh helped look after McLovin for us when he was in NZ and the Dickie’s also gave Kate a drive on Speeding Spur during one of his trips to Melbourne.” McLovin led and was rundown late when third to Temporale in the Group 1 Dullard Cup at Melton last Saturday night. “We expected him to go a little better, but the lead time was quick and he had to really sprint-up down the back when Oscar Bonavena made his run at us,” Andy Gath said. “Maybe we’d also been a bit kind on him going into it, so hopefully he’ll be better for the run. I’m sure he’s right up to the best ones if he’s right at his top.”  Tornado Valley skipped the Dullard Cup after galloping the in the score-up, losing valuable ground and finishing second in the Cochran Cup behind Dance Craze on Ballarat Cup tonight. That gallop in the score-up caused more of a headache that just the Ballarat defeat for the Gaths with Tornado Valley placed out of the draw and requiring two trials to be re-included. “He’s had the first trial and will have the second at Melton tomorrow (Tuesday),” Andy Gath said. “Providing he does everything right in the trial, he’ll be back in the draw for this week, which is obviously crucial to his chances.” A front row draw is vital for Tornado Valley, who is unbeaten in Australia when leading since he moved here two years ago. The draws for the Great Southern Star and Hunter Cup are later than usual, being held as part of a Caduceus Club function at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow (Tuesday night).   By Adam Hamilton

An estimated crowd of more than 400 people enjoyed a true country style picnic harness racing meeting at Morgan Park, Victor Harbor on Australia Day, Sunday, January 26. The twilight harness race meeting was held in ideal weather conditions and race goers enjoyed the family day complete with children's entertainment, full betting and TAB facilities along with a barbecue cooked by Encounter Bay Football Club members. A feature of the day's racing was the 'TAB Victor Harbor Pacing Cup' which was won by 'Assassinator' trained by Christopher Nicol and driven by Ryan Hryhorec. Assassinator broke the track record for the Morgan Park venue during this race. At the end of the day's racing program, a short ceremony, saw the naming of the main pavilion as the 'Lew Parker Pavilion' in honour of former president of the Victor Harbor Harness Racing club Lew Parker, who is a well known racing identity in Victor Harbor.  President Lynton Bishop presents the Victor Harbor Pacers Cup to the Nicol brothers.    Wendy Brealey, Shaun Stacey and Sue Cook enjoy a glass of wine and a picnic lunch at the races.   The next harness race meeting will be held on Easter Sunday at Morgan Park. Lynton Bishop congratulated Lew Parker at the naming of the pavilion ceremony at Morgan Park, which was a highlight of the meeting. Face painter Julia Thomas showed off her work during the race meeting on Australia Day, entertaining many children. Ryan Hryhorec, driver of Assassinator, was ecstatic at winning the Victor Harbor Pacing Cup and breaking the track record.    Victor Harbor residents Julie and Robert Thorning enjoyed a day at the races.   Face painter Julia Thomas shows off her work on Evie Winkworth of Hallet Cove at the races on Australia Day. By Michael Simmons Reprinted with permission of The Victor Harbor Times

A tireless dedication to preserving harness racing history has landed Bendigo's Noel Ridge industry acclaim. Ridge, the curator of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club's history and memorabilia collection at Lord's Raceway, was bestowed with a Harness Racing Australian Meritorious Service Award. The award was presented at a function on night two of the Summer of the Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Ridge said the award came as 'a total shock'. "I am still shocked, I had no idea this was coming," he said. "Judy Rothacker, from the Harness Racing Victoria board presented it, and it was to do with my researching harness racing industry, particularly in central Victoria and the other bits and pieces I do, like writing. "I was there under the guise of being invited to the official function and low and behold this happened."  Noel Ridge at Lord's Raceway in 2016.   The award is the third industry honour for Ridge in the past five months. In September, he was appointed to the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame (VHRHOF) selection committee. He also picked up the Graham Goffin Memorial Award for best historical feature for an article he penned on the late former horse owner, breeder, trainer and driver John Phyland. For Ridge, his passion and dedication for racing history is a labour of love. "If we haven't got a history, we haven't got an industry," he said. "I'm thrilled (by the award win), particularly from a club point of view. "What the Bendigo Harness Racing Club has established with the collection is a pretty unique point of difference." The meritorious service award was the only one presented on Saturday night. Bendigo Harness Racing Club committee member Paul Campbell said there could be no more worthier winner than Ridge. "I'd hate to think how many hours he puts in behind the scenes trying to capture history, and to store it and display it," he said. "It's a real labour of love for him. "Even the other night when the award was being presented he was still chasing history while were there (at Melton). "He doesn't stop. He's tireless and he is infectious as well. "Because of him, I and a lot of others, have a greater awareness of the history of our sport and the fact we need to store it and display it because once it's gone it's gone for good." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

UP, UP and away (hopefully to the winners’ circle) is the best way to describe the results of yesterday’s Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Brisbane. With a tremendous depth in quality yearlings on offer, the sale’s average increased, gross turnover is up and interstate interest was at a level never seen before! On top of that, local interest was at an all-time high as records plummeted. The lots averaged $29,250 – almost $11,000 more than last season’s average. In what is a positive sign for the breeding industry 12 months ago, 2019’s sale saw an eight per cent increase on 2018! Mirroring the averages, gross turnover has once again skyrocketed. Pleased with the four per cent increase 2019 delivered, APG is “absolutely thrilled” the 2020 edition has seen an extra $300,000 spent, leading to $819,000 in turnover. Then there is the pacing clearance rate, with sits at 76 per cent – a remarkable 13 per cent higher than last year. Of the prices, five lots sold for more than $50,000, including a record $77,500 for Lot 31. Prominent Victorian breeder Ian Slater purchased the colt by Always B Miki from Victree Bette. On the topic of Always B Miki, he is off to sensational start in Australia, with his stock averaging more than $53,000. A list of results, including those passed in and their reserves is available on the APG website at HOOFNOTE: Four Lots were sold this morning, leaving just a few remaining to achieve a 100 per cent clearance.   APG Media

An extraordinary night for harness racing reinsman Anthony Butt, who claimed both the three-year-old Group 1 features, and a ground-breaking performance by Lochinvar Art, highlighted a stunning Night 2 of the TAB Summer of Glory. Butt doubled-down on a sublime Saturday evening at Tabcorp Park Melton when he added the Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby to an earlier Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Oaks triumph, with Line Up carrying his favouritism status with aplomb in the $200,000 feature. Butt, a former Melton resident who’s recently moved to Sydney, led from the outset with Line Up, spacing the chasing bunch with a 26.8-second third quarter before closing with a 27.8-second final 400 metres, which was enough to win by 1.6 metres from Grant Dixon’s Governor Jujon. “He’s a lovely horse, very relaxed,” Butt said. “He just went to sleep in front, that’s what he likes. When I pulled the plugs around the bend he really zipped away. It was a big effort.” It capped a big night for Butt, who earlier won the $150,000 Victoria Oaks with Dr Susan for New Zealand co-trainers Nathan Purdon and Cran Dalgety. Dr Susan actually broke her gait in a false start, but second time around would break the hearts of her rivals with a 26.3-second third quarter to set up victory in the Group 1. The all-the-way win was scored by 4.4 metres from favourite Stylish Memphis, a satisfying win for co-trainer Dalgety that he dedicated to Bacchus Marsh reinsman Gavin Lang, who is battling ill-health. “I just saw my good friend Gavin Lang today,” Dalgety said post-race. “Gavin’s having a wee bit of an off time, if I can dedicate a race I’m going to dedicate it to that good man Gavin Lang. It seems a bit hollow tonight not having him win one of these big races.” The three-year-old classics were almost overshadowed by Lochinvar Art’s extraordinary performance in the Group 1 Alabar 4YO Bonanza, where he not only beat highly touted Self Assured but won in a 1:48.6 mile rate, the first time a horse has broken the magical 1:50 barrier in Victoria.“He’s just a legend really,” Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said. “I’m chuffed and lost for words. He’s just a champion.” There was also plenty of fun on track when Always Fast won the Mercury80 for Kima Frenning and Emma Stewart, capping the terrific 1200-metre series that began in front of thousands at Melton on New Year’s Eve. But it’s perhaps the Allied Express Casey Classic and DNR Logistics V L Dullard Trotters Cup that will create most conversation this week. Those two features are likely to be key lead-ins to this Saturday’s headliners on Night 3 of the TAB Summer of Glory back at Tabcorp Park Melton – the $500,000 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup and the $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star. Those two crowns form Victoria’s richest pacing race and Australia’s richest trotting race respectively and will draw Australasia’s most talented harness racing combatants to battle for a place in equine immortality. Kiwi Mach Shard reaffirmed he’ll be a contender in the Hunter Cup with Saturday night’s bold win in the Casey Classic. By Tim O’Connor Reprinted with permission of The Star Weekly

Bolinda trainer Kari Males is hoping it's third-time lucky for stable star Red Hot Tooth in Saturday night's What The Hill Great Southern Star. The classy mare, who was a luckless favourite for the lucrative feature in 2018 and finished fourth at big odds 12 months ago, heads to the $250,000 event on the back of a second placing in the DNR Logistics V L Dullard Trotters Cup. Males was over the moon with the horse's effort behind Temporale on Saturday night, when sitting behind the leader and getting home along the inside to be beaten eight metres. "I think running second in that field was like a win for us. We were pretty happy with it," Males said. "She beat a lot of good horses home. We were rapt - we were as happy as had we won really." Males is after a change of luck at Tuesday night's barrier draw, with Red Hot Tooth having not started from inside gate five during her last six runs. It has been a somewhat frustrating campaign for the daughter of Yankee Paco, who has broken under pressure in feature races at Bendigo and Cranbourne and been unable to win any of her seven starts this preparation. "I've been pretty happy with her. She's sort of galloped when we haven't really known why," Males said. "She's had a new driver (Kerryn Manning) on the last few starts, so maybe it's just a little bit of a combination of someone new getting used to her and things like that. "We've just played around with her feet a tiny bit and she seems to be right now. "She's probably a lot stronger looking this time in... she's probably finally matured that bit more and has had that hard racing in the fast class to sort of strengthen her up. I think she is going as good as she ever has." The What The Hill Great Southern Star, for the open class squaregaiters over the staying trip of 2760m, is a major highlight of the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup program, Night 3 of the TAB Summer Of Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton. The barrier draw for the headline races will be conducted at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow night. For details about snapping up a ticket for the barrier draw click here.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Connections of history-making Victorian speed machine Lochinvar Art now have an enjoyable decision to make for their harness racing superstar-where to next? Lochinvar Art (Modern Art-Ponder in Paris (Ponder) stopped the clock in 1.48-6 in winning the $100,000 G1 Alabar 4yo Bonanza at Melton on Saturday night. It was the first time the magical 1.50 mile rate had been smashed in the State. Watch the race replay here!  "We'll sit down with David (trainer-driver David Moran) and talk it over in the next few days. We have a few options, but there's certainly exciting times ahead," jubilant owner Kevin Gordon, said yesterday. "In winning the Bonanza, we now have a gold ticket straight into the $200,000 Chariots of Fire in Sydney in just under four weeks' time. David is very keen to give him a start between now and then," he said. "There's the AG Hunter Cup as well as the $35,000 Echuca Pacing Cup coming up, so there's plenty to think about." Gordon and his wife Leonie are best-known for their association with greyhound racing, having claimed many of the major features, including the Paws of Thunder, the Sydney Cup and Christmas Cup. But they rate the recent victory by pacer Lochinvar Art as the biggest thrill in racing. "Apart from the Bonanza being such a prestigious event, being the first Victorian to break a 1.50 mile rate just takes it to another level," Gordon said. "He went absolutely super. A lot of horses don't progress from their 3yo days, but we are thrilled Lochinvar Art has taken that next step. He has developed physically and is bigger across the back and he's shown this time in he's a lot stronger too. "The win was a credit to David and he's surely now cemented himself as a top trainer. He works hard and deserves all the success he gets." Moran worked forward in the Bonanza, waiting until the leading brigade found their positions before taking up the role as pilot. The talented horseman had a pre-race plan to cover as little ground as possible, but he was hoping his main rival (Mark Purdon's $1.10 fav Self Assured) would be called upon to do "that little extra" at some stages. "I needed him to do a bit more work because it was the only way I was ever going to beat Mark - his horse is so talented," Moran said. "It did fall into place for us. While we were one-off and then in front, he was working out three wide to get to being one-off, then I was happy to keep the speed on and have them running." Self Assured tried his heart out and got to within 4.7m of the winner, but final splits of 27.3 and 26.4 in a race run in record time, made the task most difficult. "When I opened up just before the final turn and pinched a break, I thought and hoped it just might be mathematically impossible for Mark to get to me." Moran said he had "a few troubles" with Lochinvar Art in the leadup to the Bonanza. "He's just been so full of himself this preparation. He's been a handful and actually tried to kick me out of the cart in the Shepparton Cup. While it's good he's feeling so well, he can be a bit of a ratbag," he said. "I've altered a few things with him, and we should now be fine. I suppose it's just being a colt coming out in him every now and again." Lochinvar Art's connections are naturally aiming at the season's big races, but Moran said they were mapping out a careful campaign. "We won't be over racing him like last season, when I think we ran in the first Classic 3yo event and then continued until the last as well. In between he had a trip to Qld. That was a huge year for him," he said. "We've made a conscious decision not to give him an over taxing campaign, but in saying that, he has pulled up terrific. He was pig rooting and charging about this morning while I was trying to change his rugs, so he's feeling pretty good."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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