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Kiwi filly Sociable is drawn to strike early. The Andrew Stuart trained three-year-old has drawn ideally in tomorrow night’s (Friday) $20,450 Redcliffe Oaks while main dangers face awkward second-line draws. Sociable will start from gate three (with emergency coming out) and will be handled by ace Victorian reinsman John Caldow in her Queensland debut. Connections are targeting the Gr.2 $75,540 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park on July 14. The Buy Kiwi Made filly went unbeaten in her first two starts in her homeland before crossing the Tasman earlier this year with connections tackling the Victoria Oaks at TABCORP Park, Melton in April. Sociable finished fifth behind the freakish filly Shez All Rock. “We think she’s a pretty good filly and we came to Melbourne hoping to avoid the All Stars and we end up running into a filly that’s even better than what they have so it didn’t quite go to plan but we were more than happy with her efforts.” The Rangiora based Stuart said. In six Victorian starts, Sociable scored an easy victory at Shepparton on April 6 while missing the place only twice, in the Victoria Oaks Final and in her most recent start, the Argent Classic on May 11. Despite being fresh, Stuart is confident his filly is ready to showcase her talent. “We’ve had the filly up in Sydney with Luke McCarthy for the past couple of weeks and her recent fast work has been really pleasing, she’s close to the mark. “Drawing well was always going to be really important on this track and I was thrilled with the front-line draw, even more thrilled when the Dixon fillies landed the second-line. I raced against Aqua Miss in the Victoria Oaks and she looks a pretty handy type but I believe my filly can beat her. “I was happy when John (Caldow) said he would come up and drive her, I think that is a nice confidence booster. He knows the filly well now and I think an all the way victory is our best shot of winning this race.” And punters have reacted; UBET offered as much as $5 when markets opened on Wednesday. Sociable is now the $2.20 favourite. And Stuart has celebrations plans in place. “I enjoy a day at the races and I’ll be heading along to the Stradbroke Day festivities at Doomben the following day, hopefully having some celebratory drinks.” The Redcliffe Oaks is race 3, start time is 7.54pm. Chris Barsby

Harness racing trainer Dean Braun is eyeing another Queensland winter campaign. The experienced and highly regarded horseman has enjoyed tremendous success in previous Brisbane raids and is looking to extend on that record with another richly talented pacer. Just last year, Braun sent the gifted Shartin north and claimed the Queensland Oaks before selling her to North American interests where she has established herself as the best pacing mare in the world following multiple feature race victories. Itz Nosurprisesthere (2013) and Nike Franco (2014) were other Queensland Oaks winners for Braun. While his success with the fairer sex is well documented, he’s also prepared many top flight male pacers and looks to have another special prospect in the shape of former New Zealand three-year-old Duplicated. Purchased recently from the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding is unbeaten in two starts on Australian soil following victories at Bendigo and Ballarat. And now the Queensland Derby is on the radar. “I think he’s a very exciting talent with a lot of scope, he’s very quick but he’s equally strong so the Queensland Derby makes natural appeal. Going to Queensland in the winter is good fun and great for my skin tone.” Braun said. But the Queensland Derby is the hoodoo event for Braun, both Night Of The Stars and Chancellor Cullen was unplaced while Shartin finished a narrow second last year behind The More The Better. Can Duplicated right the wrong? A routine victory at Bendigo in 1:58.6 two weeks ago was followed by a clinical victory in the Colin and Heather Holloway Classic at Ballarat in 1:58.4 on Friday night. In both victories, he finished off in a sub 27 final section. Duplicated boasts six victories and six minor placings from 15 starts to date. “He’s done well in both starts to date and shown he’s got some zip, he led in both races and then just blasted up the lane so they haven’t been hard races by any stretch. I’ve had some early interest from North America with this guy but Queensland is the focus. “He’s headed in the right direction and I’m still sorting him out but the Queensland Derby was in the back of my mind when we purchased him. I know Colt Thirty One is a top colt but I’m prepared to take him on. “I think he’s a very versatile type and he can run over all distances, his form in New Zealand was very consistent and competed against some high quality rivals. The Queensland campaign offers plenty and I’m sorting out a suitable path to take.” Duplicated is raced by Braun’s partner, Pauline McColgan. The Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 21. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | 

Betamerica, a filly with a royal pedigree, opened her account yesterday (Tuesday). Stepping out for the second time in her fledgling career at Albion Park, the American Ideal – Splendid Bet filly scooted the sprint lane and scored a narrow yet decisive victory in the Cammibest @ Burwood Stud 2yo Pace. Betamerica defeated Zaras All Good and Saint Kilda Beach. The Shannon Price and Scott Miller prepared filly rated 1:58.7 rain affected track. Splits of 27, 32.7, 29.5 and 29.7 seconds. Chris Petroff took the winning drive. “It’s a great result for many reasons, the fact she is a proven winner and rating the time she did only adds to her future value. This family just keeps producing all the big name horses and it’s exciting to have this filly,” Miller said. “We have no plans this season with her, maybe a few more runs before having eight weeks off and then coming as a three-year-old. Hopefully her attitude will change during that time; she’s very set in her ways.” He added. Purchased last year at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale in Auckland for a whopping price of $137,500 from Woodlands Stud draft and Charles Roberts, Team Raboki was determined to get their filly despite some spirited bidding from several parties. The brown filly hails from the hottest family in the stud book, the Scuse Me lineage. Betamerica is the second foal from the Bettors Delight mare and is closely related to the likes of Adore Me, Christen Me, Dream About Me, Hands Christian, Maxim, Have Faith In Me, Imagine Me and Abide With Me among many others. Her older full brother Chief Joseph is in work with leading Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety but is currently unraced. Chris Barsby

Star performer Ohoka Punter has a new home. The triple Group One winner has been purchased by leading owners Kevin and Kay Seymour and is set to join the stables of leading trainer Grant Dixon. Following his victory in the 2016 $200,000 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the star performer was sent west to Perth where he joined the stables of Gary Hall. But a series of setbacks and niggling issues prevented him from producing his best efforts and scored only once from 20 starts. An attack of colic, followed by a lung infection, forced Ohoka Punter to miss the 2016 Inter Dominion Championship series but managed to run minor placings in a host of other feature events. A flight from Perth last night (Wednesday) was carrying the million dollar earner. Ohoka Punter has not raced since finishing second behind champion stablemate Chicago Bull in the Listed $50,000 Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on February 23. Boasting a fine record of 25 victories and 30 minor placings from 72 lifetime starts, the Bettors Delight entire has amassed stakes if $1,049,860. His fastest winning mile rate of 1:52.4 was set at Albion Park back in May, 2016. With the 2018 Queensland winter carnival looming, connections could be looking at the riches on offer. A future stud career is also likely. The Seymour’s own Egmont Park Stud on the Darling Downs and currently stand Mr Feelgood, Hurrikane Kingcole and Gotta Go Cullect. Chris Barsby

Rookie pacer Minted Montana stamped himself as a genuine winter carnival contender following his dominant harness racing debut victory at Albion Park today (Tuesday). The Mr Feelgood – Montana Secrets gelding sat without cover in the Cammibest @ Burwood Stud 2yo Pace before racing clear from Ginger Micky and Give Me A Go in a brilliant time of 1:56.0. Sectionals were covered in 27.5, 29.9, 28.5 and 30.3 seconds. It’s the fastest time of the season to date by a juvenile pacer in Queensland. Minted Montana showcased his talent when successful in his qualifying trial at Redcliffe on May 2 when scoring impressively rating 2:00.8 for the 1780m public trial. Raced by his breeder Dean Shannon, Minted Montana was a buy back from last year’s Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sale at a cost of $2500. Montana Secrets, a daughter of super sire Christian Cullen went winless in two career starts at the Gold Coast back in 2012 before being retired to stud. Her first foal is the filly Our Dasher (by Lanercost), an eight start maiden to date. Minted Montana is the second foal from Montana Secrets while the mare has another colt on the ground, also by Lanercost. Montana Secrets is closely related to the likes of My Field Marshal, Foreal, Regal Dash, Askmenow and Delightful Dash among others. Prepared by Donny Smith and handled by Darrel Graham, the big striding gelding will have his next start at Redcliffe in a heat of the Yearling Sale Series next Wednesday (May 23). The Gr.1 $100,450 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Final is scheduled for Friday, June 1. Another likely target is the Gr.1 $100,450 QBRED Triad Final for 2yo Colts and Geldings is programmed for July 21, the final night of the Albion Park carnival. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | 

Queensland Derby hopeful Master Moonlite flexed his muscles for the first time for his new harness racing connections. Stepping out at the Terang trials yesterday (Sunday), the highly regarded for New Zealand three-year-old scored an effortless victory in his 2180m public trial. Purchased recently by clients of the Mattie Craven stable, the Art Major gelding scored in a time of 2:01.3 while covering the final 800m in a slick 56.5 seconds. And now he’s ready to start for his new owners as they build towards a Brisbane winter carnival campaign. “I was really happy with the way he performed and he’s ready to race following that hit-out. I’m looking at a race next week down here and then we’ll keep going from there.” Craven said. Previously prepared by Christchurch based horseman Cran Dalgety, Master Moonlite is no stranger to Australian fans after competing in last year’s Breeders Crown series. At his most recent start on March 9 at Alexandra Park, Auckland, Master Moonlite finished fourth behind Italian Delight. He returned south and was being readied for the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby at Addington before being sold. Craven is no stranger to Brisbane after campaigning here two years ago with the likes of Kimani, Im Wrongly Accused and Roy George. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Brisbane and I’m keen to get back, things didn’t pan out that year but it was a great experience and a great opportunity. “I think this horse is capable of taking the Queensland Derby and we’ll give him his chance, he’s also Vicbred eligible so we’ll target that series before making the trip north at this point. “Obviously Colt Thirty One is pretty smart but I’m keen to take him on.” The Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 21. Craven heads to Europe this week to spend time with leading horseman Timo Nurmos, the trainer of star performer Readly Express. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News

It was cool and it was very calculated. That’s the best summation of Speeding Spur following his harness racing victory in tonight’s (Friday) Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the 100th edition. The father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie timed their run at the North Island trotting feature with pinpoint accuracy with their much lauded six-year-old entire. Already a winner of six Gr.1 events prior to tonight, this is the race that the Clevedon based duo desperately cherished and he delivered a comfortable victory defeating Monty Python and Temporale in the 3200m stand-start feature. Stepping safely and swiftly, young Josh Dickie applied immediate pressure to Monty Python and gained an easy lead soon after the start although outsider The Almighty Johnson briefly challenged within the first 600m of the event. Race favourite Enghien also began safely but drifted back before settling in the second half of the big field. The lead time was covered in 2:00.8. As the field worked inside the final mile, Speeding Spur led the way from Monty Python in the trail but the moves from back in the field were coming with Destiny Jones peeling three-wide which was followed by last week’s Anzac Cup winner Lemond. The first quarter of the final mile was covered in 32 seconds. Entering the home straight to reach the bell lap, Ricky May set Enghien alight three-wide while defending champion Temporale tracked up behind him. Passing the winning post with a circuit left to run, Dickie made the call to allow Enghien to stride clear in front which left Temporale providing cover for Lemond while Monty Python was pushed a spot further back against the pegs. The second quarter was covered in 29.2 seconds. With the major players occupying the key front-end positions, the pressure only intensified. Enghien led the way down the back straight and traveled strongly but his rivals were starting to close the gap. The third quarter was posted in 29.1 seconds. Approaching the home straight, Enghien drifted slightly up the track which presented a great passage for Speeding Spur. With Dickie driving aggressively, Speeding Spur raced clear from a game Temporale who gave strong chase while Monty Python and Lemond started to wind up. At the finish, Speeding Spur scored by a margin of ¾ length from Monty Python with a further 2 lengths back to Temporale in third placing. Enghien finished 7th. The final section was covered in 29.8 seconds. The overall time was 4:08.2 with the winning mile rate covered in 2:04.8 – well outside of the race record set by Stent three years ago at 4:03.6 (2:02.4). “This victory is very special and deeply satisfying given what this horse has gone through over the past couple of seasons. He’s incredibly talented and possesses a deep desire to win every time he starts, this is a team effort and many have played a huge role to achieve this dream.” Winning driver Josh Dickie said. Overall, Speeding Spur has won 20 of his 40 starts with earning close to $800,000. The victory catapulted Speeding Spur into second place on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters leaderboard with 108 points while the Victorian trained Sparkling Success gripped to victory with 160 points. Chris Barsby

If the crown fits. But who will wear it? The Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup is the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and the race to be crowned the harness racing premier square gaiter in the southern hemisphere is very much alive. And the 3200m stand start feature looks loaded with chances. Heading into this weekend, the Victorian trained Sparkling Success holds a narrow lead with 160 points but he’s far from across the line with the John Meade trained gelding not starting. Instead, he’s relying on luck. Sparkling Success scored in the Great Southern Star while being the runner-up in the Grand Prix. Both events staged at TABCORP Park, Melton. Other Trotting Masters winners this season include Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Tornado Valley (Grand Prix). But those that can snatch victory include last week’s Anzac Cup hero Lemond (100 points) and Temporale (64 points) while Enghien (60 points) can split the title if triumphant. Here’s another scenario; if Enghien wins and Lemond runs second, a reversal of last week’s Anzac Cup, it could be a three-way tie which has never happened before. In fact, the only split decision came back in 2007 when A Touch Of Flair and One Over Kenny shared the spoils. The Trotting Masters Grand Circuit commenced in the 1999/2000 season. But the Rowe Cup, the major trotting event of the North Island of New Zealand has a long and rich history after first being staged back in 1918 when Whisht proved successful. And the great names on the Roll of Honour includes Native King, Mutu, Kempton, Ordeal, Single Cash, Sir Castleton, Idle Scott, David Moss, Wagon Apollo, Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, One Over Kenny, Sundons Gift, I Can Doosit and Monbet among many other great champions. Last year’s hero was Temporale who again lines up this year is looking to become the 11th dual winner of the great race, if successful, he will join Waikaha, Raima, Nell Volo, Great Admiral, Fantom, Recruit, Pohutukawa, Single Cash, One Over Kenny and I Can Doosit. The incomparable Lyell Creek won it three times (2000/01 & 04). Temporale will be handled by his trainer Tony Herlihy who is aiming for his sixth Rowe Cup victory and will wear saddlecloth number 9. The Almighty Johnson (saddlecloth 13) will also represent the Herlihy stable. Anzac Cup winner Lemond was decisive last week under the mobile start conditions but has a tricky draw to contend with this week (saddlecloth 14) but again has the services of four times Rowe Cup winning driver Maurice McKendry. And the only trotters to claim the Anzac/Rowe Cups double are I Can Doosit and Monbet. Boom trotter Enghien will command respect; the quality four-year-old owns a fantastic record at the track and is part of a combination (Hopes & May) that has tasted victory previously with Monbet (2016). The last four-year-old to win the Rowe Cup was last season – Temporale. Enghien will carry saddlecloth 8. Star northern based performer Speeding Spur is chasing his 7th Gr.1 victory and draws ideally (saddlecloth 4) which should have him much closer to the action unlike last week in the Anzac Cup. Both Phil Williamson and Paul Nairn are chasing further success in the Rowe Cup with Williamson preparing One Over Kenny (2007) while Nairn has won it twice with Inspire (2006) and Stig (2013). Williamson prepares Monty Python (saddlecloth 2) and Alderbeck (saddlecloth 3) while Nairn is represented by One Over Da Moon (saddlecloth 15). Flashy performer Bordeaux (saddlecloth 6) was placed behind Temporale and Habibti Ivy in the Rowe Cup last year but needs to lift after running up the track last week in the Anzac Cup when leading. Talented mares Yagunnakissmeornot (saddlecloth 1), Harriet Of Mot (saddlecloth 7) and Destiny Jones (saddlecloth 11) all back-up following their efforts last week in the Anzac Cup. Harriet Of Mot produced an outstanding effort to finish third behind Lemond and Enghien. Another mare in Princess Mackendon (saddlecloth 12) takes on the Rowe Cup after missing a place last week in easier grade. Southern visitor War Machine (saddlecloth 16) comes north chasing the big prize but the draw has severely dampened his chances but has the services of four times winner Anthony Butt. The emergencies are Realmein (saddlecloth 10) and Charlemagne (saddlecloth 5). The Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and listed to start at 9.20pm local time. Suddenly, it all comes down to one race - the Rowe Cup! Chris Barsby

A year is a long time in harness racing. Just ask Cambridge horseman Ross Paynter. His richly talented trotter Lemond stood tall to claim his maiden Gr.1 success when successful in the $102,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland tonight (Friday). In the corresponding event last year, Lemond went agonisingly close to claiming the feature before going down by a half-head margin to star mare Habibti Ivy. It was an ecstasy to agony moment for connections. But upon reflection, it has only made the Love You gelding stronger. In his next 15 starts, Lemond has won 5 times including taking his first piece of major silverware and now joins the honour roll that includes I Can Doosit, Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy. Lemond now becomes the first North Island trained trotter to claim the feature which was first staged back in 2012. Handled by regular reinsman Maurice McKendry, Lemond charged the gate and quickly led the 2200m mobile start feature while race favourite Enghien drifted back from gate two. As the field headed down the back straight on the first occasion, Lemond handed the lead over to Bordeaux which left him poised in a striking position. The lead time was covered in 43.1 seconds. Bordeaux was allowed to cruise in the lead role and strolled through the first quarter of the final mile in 32.3 seconds. Enghien was pulled three-wide entering the bell lap and quickly raced alongside of Bordeaux with 1000m remaining. The second quarter was covered in a leisurely 31.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Bordeaux led the way from Enghien with Lemond perfectly positioned in the trail while the strongly fancied Temporale and Speeding Spur sat off the pace. Passing the 600m marker, Bordeaux rolled off the inside which presented a dream run for Lemond while Enghien was forced to cover extra ground. Temporale followed Enghien while Speeding Spur was wide and a long way back in the pack. The third quarter was covered in 28.5 seconds. In the home straight, Lemond fought tenaciously from Enghien who refused to quit with Harriet Of Mot making a spirited bid deeper off the track. At the finish, Lemond scored by 1 length from a brave Enghien with a further 1.75 lengths back to Harriet Of Mot in third. The final quarter was covered in 29.1 seconds. The race time was 2:44.8 with a winning mile rate of 2:00.5 – well outside of the race record set last year by Habibti Ivy. “He trotted great tonight and really deserved the victory after coming so close last season.” McKendry said. Lemond joins Amaretto Sun, Sparkling Success and Tornado Valley as winners of Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters events for the 2017/18 season. Next week, the Gr.1 $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will complete the season. Again, the 3200m stand-start feature will be staged at Alexandra Park, Auckland. And the race to be crowned the ‘Trotting Master’ is still very much alive. It's going right down to the wire! Chris Barsby

The field is entering the home stretch. And it’s still hard to pinpoint the winner. The race to be crowned 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master is anyone’s guess with just two legs remaining. The focus swings to Alexandra Park, Auckland with the running of this week’s $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup followed by the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup next week. Both events carry Gr.1 status Winners of Trotting Masters features thus far this season include Amaretto Sun (Dominion), Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) and Tornado Valley (Grand Prix). None of the above mentioned will contest the Auckland classics which leaves the door slightly ajar for a late dive-bombing closer to claim the title. A scenario that unfolded last season with Habibti Ivy snatching the crown following the Auckland features. As it stands, Sparkling Success leads the race with 160 points but is that enough to secure the title? Can local star Temporale (currently with 60 points) produce the goods over the next week to claim a dramatic victory? The dual Gr.1 winner boasts an excellent record at the track with 8 wins and 7 minor placings from 17 starts. Suddenly, Temporale is thrust into the limelight in more ways than one. The Anzac Cup was introduced to the Grand Circuit calendar back in 2012 when champion performer I Can Doosit prevailed for trainer/driver Mark Purdon. Winners since include Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy. There is a common thread that links the six previous winners; they were all prepared in the South Island. Can Temporale become the first North Island trained winner of the Anzac Cup? Will master horseman Tony Herlihy weave some magic in front of his local fans? Also representing the north are quality performers Speeding Spur (gate 13), Lemond (gate 4), Yagunnakissmeornot (gate 11), Realmein (gate 10) and Charlemagne (gate 6). Speeding Spur, prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, is a six times Gr.1 winner including his latest effort at Addington in the Fred Shaw Memorial New Zealand Trotting Championship on April 6. His record at his home track is exemplary with 8 wins and 8 minor placings from 16 starts. Again, the south is well represented with boom four-year-old Enghien (gate 2) looking to maintain his unbeaten record at the clockwise track. Prepared by Greg and Nina Hope, the Woodend Beach couple is chasing their second triumph after scoring with Monbet two years ago. The dual Gr.1 winner will again be handled by Ricky May. Quality performers Bordeaux (gate 7) and Harriet Of Mot (gate 12) will gain strong support while Destiny Jones (gate 9) is looking for some luck from its tricky draw. Phil Williamson and Paul Nairn, both highly skilled horsemen, are represented by Monty Python (gate 1) and Alderbeck (gate 3) while One Over Da Moon (gate 5) must be respected. The first three placed runners are guaranteed a start in the 2018 Rowe Cup next week. The Anzac Cup is a 2200m mobile start event while the Rowe Cup will be staged under standing start conditions and run over 3200m. Chris Barsby

Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley signaled his class with a stunning all-the-way harness racing victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday). Aided by a brilliant front-running drive from Kate Gath, the richly talented Skyvalley gelding defied race favourite Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in the 2240 mobile start feature. Having his third local start, Tornado Valley went one better than his effort last week when a runner-up behind Red Hot Tooth in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne. Showing good gate speed to lead from his handy draw, Tornado Valley controlled the tempo of the event while Sparkling Success was forced to work hard without cover. The lead time was covered in 45.2 seconds. Tornado Valley traveled strongly throughout; the first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.9 and 30.7 seconds. The first move in the race came via Vincennes who eased three-deep passing the 1000m mark. Entering the back straight, Gath allowed Tornado Valley to stride boldly while Sparkling Success chased gamely on his outside. The third quarter was covered in 28.7 seconds. At the top of the straight, Tornado Valley and Sparkling Success were set for an epic stretch battle but Tornado Valley failed to yield while Sparkling Success tried valiantly. Tornado Valley held Sparkling Success by 1.9m while Sky Petite was further 11.3m away in third after sitting one out/one back throughout. The final split was covered in a very slick 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate was 1:57.2 – well outside of the track and race record of 1:56 held by Keystone Del when successful in 2016. Tornado Valley is raced by Queensland based owner Norm Jenkin (of Flashing Red fame). It is the second time Andy Gath has prepared the winner of the Grand Prix after scoring with inaugural winner, former star trotting mare La Coocaracha back in 2001. An obvious long term target will be the recently re-introduced Inter Dominion series which will be staged in Victoria later this year. Tornado Valley joins Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) as winners of an Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters event this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month. And the race to be crowned the 2017/18 APG Trotting Master is very much alive. The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 20 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events held at Alexandra Park. 7 9:30pm SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS AUSTRALIAN TROTTING GRAND PRIX (GROUP 1) 2240M $100,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr4 4 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 12.20   GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): Jenkscraft Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Fr6 7 John Meade Chris Svanosio 1.9m $ 1.50 fav  PRU 3WE OLM 2 3 SKY PETITE      Fr5 6 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 13.2m $ 23.80   PRS GS 4 4 SAVANNAH JAY JAY      Fr3 3 Stan Cameron Neil McCallum 14.3m $ 60.20   PRS GS 3 5 REGAL PEPPERELL      Fr1 1 Michael Barby Anne-Maree Conroy 15.0m $ 36.10   PRS BB ODM 5 PH RR HUE USL 6 VINCENNES      Sr2 9 Anton Golino Jason Lee 16.6m $ 18.80   8 3WL 7 MAORI TIME      Sr1 8 Brent Lilley Gavin Lang 19.9m $ 12.60   PRS 12 3WLT 8 MY TRIBECA ITA      Fr2 2 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 21.7m $ 9.30   6 9 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Sr3 10 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 22.6m $ 10.30   10 3WLT Scratchings   THE BOSS MAN 5 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:43:2 Mile Rate: 1:57:2 Lead Time: 45.2 First Quarter: 30.9 Second Quarter: 30.7 Third Quarter: 28.7 Fourth Quarter: 27.7 Margins: 1.9m x 11.3m   Chris Barsby

There is so much at stake for harness racing star Victorian trotter Sparkling Success this weekend. The John Meade prepared six-year-old lines up in the third leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Obviously the rich prizemoney is a key focus but an outright lead in the Trotting Masters is another attraction, Sparkling Success shares the lead with New Zealand trotter Amaretto Sun following his longshot triumph in the opening leg of the series, the Dominion at Addington back in November. The Grand Prix was first staged back in 2001 and won by La Coocaracha, it features a great honour roll including former champion Sundons Gift who won the event four years in succession (2007-10). Other great names include Take A Moment, Sumthingaboutmaori, Vulcan, Stent and last year’s winner On Thunder Road. The five leg Trotting Masters takes in the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. And with Amaretto Sun remaining in Christchurch, Sparkling Success has the perfect opportunity to add to his Great Southern Star triumph. Regarded as the best trotter in Australia, Sparkling Success must overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line, in Saturday’s 2240m mobile start feature. Last week, in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne, he finished a gallant third behind Red Hot Tooth and Tornado Valley after making an early break. Despite the wide draw, punters will rally around their star performer. And with a possible trip to New York for the $1.3 million International Trot at the end of the year looming, victory will only enhance his burgeoning reputation. But rivals will come thick and fast. New Australasian record holder Maori Time looms as a legitimate threat despite her tricky draw, the inside of the second-line. Maori Time rated 1:51.5 when successful in the Gr.1 $50,000 Trotters Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on February 24. Prepared by master conditioner Brent Lilley, the former New Zealand horseman shoots for his second victory in the Grand Prix following his triumph two years ago with millionaire performer Keystone Del. Courageous performer Kyvalley Blur also represents the Lilley stable, the veteran gelding continues to race in excellent form highlighted by his victory three starts ago in the Dullard Cup. Kyvalley Blur has drawn the outside of the second-line, gate 10. Gun young trainer Anton Golino is represented by both My Tribeca and Vincennes, both unplaced behind Maori Time in Sydney last start. My Tribeca has drawn ideally in gate two while Vincennes draws directly behind his stable in gate nine. Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley showcased his immense talent last week when finishing gamely behind Red Hot Tooth at Cranbourne after proving costly in his Australian debut on February 23. Prepared by Andy and Kate Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has drawn nicely in gate four. In-form mare Regal Pepperell tackles her biggest challenge to date but boasts outstanding recent winning form. A winner at 5 of her past 6 starts, the Michael Barby trained mare has claimed both the Hamilton and Wedderburn Cups during her recent form burst. Regal Pepperel will start from the coveted inside gate. Another classy mare in Sky Petite will prove competitive despite drawing awkwardly in gate 6 for trainer Dean Pattison. Unplaced last week at Cranbourne behind Red Hot Tooth, the Skyvalley mare scored three starts ago in the Crystal Bucket at Echuca. Savannah Jay Jay aims for his biggest victory and draws handily in gate three for trainer Stan Cameron, but the Armbro Invasion gelding is winless this season in eight starts. The Boss Man (gate 5) is an early scratching. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The two remaining legs of the APG Trotting Masters will be staged at Alexandra Park in Auckland next month. Chris Barsby

The pressure is on. And that can be expected given your colt is favourite to claim his second blue riband harness racing classic, the Gr.1 $200,000 APG New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow night (Saturday). Fresh from his brilliant victory in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby last month, Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One is looking to become the first three-year-old since Captain Joy (2009) to win both features in the same season. No Queensland trained pacer has ever collected both features in the same season. “It’s very exciting and he keeps improving each and every time he steps out, we thought he was very good last week. We’ve booked our flights this time; we’ll definitely be trackside cheering the team on.” Owner/breeder Kevin Seymour said. Surprisingly, both Kevin and Kay Seymour were absent when their star colt took glory in Melbourne on January 27. The New South Wales Derby feature would hold mixed feelings for the leviathan couple, back in 2013 their star pacer Majestic Mach tasted defeat for the first time in his career when a runner-up behind Lennytheshark. Majestic Mach won his first 12 starts including three Gr.1 features. But the similarities between the past and the present are like chalk and cheese. Colt Thirty One oozes class and his mannerisms are far superior to his former stablemate. And that was evident last week when the Grant Dixon trained and driven colt scored comfortably when leading throughout in his qualifier, his time of 1:56.3 was significantly quicker than fellow heat winners Poster Boy and Maraetai. Colt Thirty One has drawn the coveted inside gate tomorrow night. In the Victoria Derby, Colt Thirty One came from behind Poster Boy to win the 2240m feature. “I think Colt Thirty One is actually better than Majestic Mach and will go much further in his career, winning the New South Wales Derby would be a magnificent achievement but it certainly won’t come easy because it’s a very good field with quality rivals. “I’m hoping he can win all three east coast Derby classics, I’m anticipating he could become a great sire in time because he’s a beautifully bred being a son of a champion sire, the ill-fated Mach Three while his maternal pedigree is very strong. “Like all owners, we’re dreamers but you must aim for the stars. It would be wonderful to see Queensland back up in bright lights again and producing quality performers, a triple Derby winner would be a great step forward.” If successful in all three Derbies, Colt Thirty One would join the incomparable Courage Under Fire who achieved the feat back in 1999. Dixon is aiming for his second triumph in the New South Wales Derby after scoring back in 1994 with Jeremy Lee. Colt Thirty One is quoted at $2 with UBET for the 2400m event. The Seymour/Dixon combination is also chasing success in the Gr.1 $200,000 John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks with classy filly Fame Assured looming as a solid chance following her qualifying victory last week. Like Colt Thirty One, Fame Assured (1:54.8) rated a much quicker time in comparison to fellow heat winners in Shez All Rock and Imprincessgemma. “All credit belongs to Grant, to win a heat of the Derby and the Oaks is a special achievement, he just keeps creating records. We’ve always held this filly in high regard and she has continued to improve which is particularly exciting,” Seymour stated. “At the start of the season, I thought this filly could do as big a job as the colt and she’s got an excellent chance of claiming her first feature. It would be an unbelievable feeling to win both classics.” Fame Assured is rated a $4.20 chance with UBET and will carry saddlecloth number four in the 2400m fillies feature. Queensland trained fillies that have won the New South Wales Oaks include Courageous Annie (2011), Don’t Fall For Me (2008) and Armada Miss (1991). Chris Barsby

Only three legs remain in the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And the race is on to be crowned champion harness racing pacer of Australasia. On Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, the Gr.1 $500,000 Del-Re National A G Hunter Cup will take place and it will be a brutal staying contest over the distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions. It will be relentless, energy sapping and survival of the fittest type stuff. History proves that. The A G Hunter Cup is the premier staying contest on the Australian calendar. First staged in 1949, the iconic event has undergone several changes but there has always been one constant, a great name alwys sits on the roll of honour and the 2018 version will be no different. As it stands, champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus leads the way with 200 points following victories in both the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominion while the Sydney trained Tiger Tara sits equal second with Chicago Bull on 120 points while Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark sit close by with 105 and 104 points respectively. And all will start in the A G Hunter Cup with the exception of Chicago Bull. So, victory is crucial. Lazarus, prepared by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, is the horse to beat owing to his fabulous record and his unbelievable appetite of staying contests. The further they go, the better he performs. His victories in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion solidify this point while his last start effort in the Gr.1 $300,000 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park only underlines his tag of Australasia’s premier stayer. The Bettors Delight entire sat three-wide throughout in the 2536m contest before going down by a head margin to millionaire pacer My Hard Copy who sat on his back with perfect cover. Everybody witnessed it but most couldn’t believe it. It drew comparisons with some of the greatest staying efforts of all-time and deservedly so, coincidentally, the most common reference made was that of Elsu when successful in the 2005 A G Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley. And here it is where Lazarus may have to reproduce another supreme staying effort, or something similar to Elsu to win this weekend. The triple millionaire will start from gate 3. Lazarus has not raced since January 12 owing to a minor setback but is looking to keep his unbeaten Melton record in perfect order. Enigmatic pacer Heaven Rocks also represents the All Stars stable and comes into the event fresh off a brilliant performance in the now traditional lead-up race, the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup two weeks ago. Natalie Rasmussen, a winner of the 2008 A G Hunter Cup aboard Blacks A Fake, will again take the drive behind Heaven Rocks. The big striding gelding has drawn gate 9, two off the second-line. Defending Hunter Cup champion Bling It On completes an unbelievable comeback when he lines-up this weekend, most thought he would not race again after sustaining horrific injuries in a race fall at Albion Park last June. But the millionaire pacer has returned in excellent order and caught the eye last week with an eye-catching second behind Lennytheshark in the Casey Classic. Bling It On will start from gate 2 and has the services of star reinsman Luke McCarthy. Highly decorated pacer and fan favourite Lennytheshark is hoping to snare his first victory in the A G Hunter Cup this weekend following his third placing last year behind Bling It On and Yayas Hot Spot. The David Aiken trained and Chris Alford driven star has won most majors in his home state yet the Hunter Cup silverware has proven elusive to date. Lennytheshark will from gate 8, the inside of the second-line. A top-two finish will push his career earning past the $3 million mark. Tiger Tara has drawn the coveted inside gate and most expect the Kevin Pizzuto trained entire to lead, and for a long way. A winner over Lazarus during a heat of the Inter Dominion series in Perth when leading at fast pace, the Bettors Delight seven-year-old was overpowered by Lazarus in the final after setting a moderate mid-race speed. Tiger Tara will play a major role from his inside draw. Last start Gr.1 $450,000 WA Pacing Cup winner Soho Tribeca must overcome the shocking draw of gate 13, the outside of the second-line for new combination of Michael Stanley and Greg Sugars. Soho Tribeca was transferred to his new base after winning the Perth feature for Bryan Cousins and Kim Prentice. The last mare to win the A G Hunter Cup was the mighty New Zealander Blossom Lady who claimed back to back victories in 1994/95 and pint-sized performer Ameretto is hoping join the exclusive club. Prepared by 2015 Hunter Cup winner Kerryn Manning, Ameretto will start from gate 10. Manning will sport the “Team Teal” silks as a part of the sport’s leading ladies to raise valuable funds and crucial awareness for ANZGOG – Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group. Last year’s runner-up Yayas Hot Spot returns for Shane and Lauren Tritton, the talented gelding has drawn gate 6 and will be handled by Jack Trainor. Yayas Hot Spot finished second behind Tiger Tara last week at Goulburn in the Frank and Edna Day Memorial. Durable gelding Messini, trained by Brent Lilley and driven by legendary horseman Tony Herlihy lines up in his third A G Hunter Cup after contesting the previous two editions. Messini has drawn gate 4. Herlihy partnered 1997 winner Surprise Package. Emerging talent Shadow Sax starts this weekend for trainer Emma Stewart, a winner of the Gr.1 $100,000 South Australian Cup at Globe Derby two starts ago before finishing a gallant third in the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup behind Heaven Rocks and Lennytheshark at his most recent start. Amazingly, ace reinsman Gavin Lang is yet to win the A G Hunter Cup. Shadow Sax will start from gate 5. Kialla pacer San Carlo represents the combination of trainer Stephen O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley but must overcome an awkward draw of gate 11. The Mach Three gelding finished third last week behind Lennytheshark and Bling It On in the Casey Classic. In-form pacer Moonrock, from the stables of Sonya Smith, has also drawn the second-line and runs from gate 12 but has the services of the most successful reinsman in Hunter Cup history in Anthony Butt. Butt has won 7 Hunter Cups – Blossom Lady (1994/95), Mister D G (2004), Mr Feelgood (2009), Stunin Cullen (2011), Choise Achiever (2012) and Mah Sish (2013). Mister Wickham is the listed emergency and has drawn gate 7 for trainer Lee Evison and US Hall of Famer driver David Miller. In total, the 13 runners have won 316 races while amassing more than $13.1 million in stakes. The A G Hunter Cup is scheduled as race 7 and listed to start at 9.02pm local time. Chris Barsby

Sparkling Success has arrived. He’s well and truly announced himself. And he did it on the biggest stage possible, dominating his harness racing rivals in the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday) – the second leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. In the biggest and richest square gaiting event staged in the country, the John Meade trained and Chris Svanosio driven trotter proved too classy for his rivals in the 2760m mobile start feature defeating New Zealand raider Temporale and Hey Yo in track record time. The six-year-old Great Success gelding proved his greatness with a hard fought victory in a time of 1:58.7, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:58.8 set by last year’s victor Glenferrie Typhoon. Boasting outstanding credentials, punters kept the local star safe in the market before an aggressive Svanosio drive landed the prize. Vincennes was able to spear to the lead from a wide draw and dictated terms while race favourite Red Hot Tooth was left without cover in the early stages. Sydney trotter On Thunder Road worked forward and took up the role on the outside of the leader while Sky Petite and Sparkling Success quickly made their moves. The lead time was covered in 84.2 seconds. With Vincennes leading, Sparkling Success eventually parked outside with 1400m approximately left to run. The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.5 and 30.2 seconds. Entering the back straight, Vincennes led Sparkling Success while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo gained economical trips against the pylons. Red Hot Tooth made a solo three-wide move with Daryl Boko tracking the move, both Speeding Spur and My Tribeca sat well back in the field as the tempo quickened. The third quarter was covered in 28.8 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Sparkling Success raced clear of Vincennes while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo all found room to move and loomed as legitimate threats. But Sparkling Success wouldn’t be denied and held Temporale by 1.2 metres with another 1.7 metres back to Hey Yo in third position. The final quarter was covered in 29.9 seconds. Race favourite Red Hot Tooth wilted to finish at the rear of the field. “This is unbelievable, he won the Maori Mile two starts ago but this race easily tops that, this is the biggest race on the calendar in Australia for trotters.” A jubilant John Meade declared, a dairy farmer from Cudgee in the state’s south-west. Sparkling Success boasts an outstanding record of 15 wins from 30 starts while his earnings now exceed $360,000. The next leg of the APG Trotting Masters takes place at Melton with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix on March 10. Sparkling Success now joins Dominion winner Amaretto Sun as the leg winners of the 2017/18 APG Trotting Masters to date. 6 9:00pm PRYDE'S EASIFEED GREAT SOUTHERN STAR (GROUP 1) 2760M $300,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Sr3 10 John Meade Chris Svanosio   $ 4.10   PRS PRU 3WM 2 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by GREAT SUCCESS USA out of DIAMOND INSITU (CR COMMANDO USA)  Owner(s): J F Meade, M B Meade  Breeder(s): J F Meade, M B Meade 2 TEMPORALE NZ      Sr1 8 Tony Herlihy Tony Herlihy 1.2m $ 5.70   PRS PRU 5 D/F$ 3 HEY YO NZ      Fr5 5 Sonya Smith Greg Sugars 2.9m $ 48.30   PRS 3WE RES 7 SWAB 4 THE BOSS MAN      Fr1 1 Ellen Tormey Ellen Tormey 7.3m $ 47.90   PRS PRU GS 3 5 MY TRIBECA ITA      Sr4 12 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 10.2m $ 35.20   PRS 8 HO HUE 6 VINCENNES      Fr7 7 Anton Golino Jason Lee 15.3m $ 79.30   PRS GS L 1 7 DARYL BOKO FIN      Fr2 2 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 17.6m $ 25.10   PRS W2 3WLT LW 8 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Sr5 13 John Dickie Josh Dickie 24.6m $ 6.30   PRS W3 3WLT LW 9 SKY PETITE      Sr2 9 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 27.8m $ 56.70   PRS 3WM 4 10 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr6 6 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 30.2m $ 11.60   PRS RAS INC W4 3WLT 11 ON THUNDER ROAD NZ      Fr4 4 Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 57.3m $ 17.70   PRS 3WE 6 BUP SD1T 12 RED HOT TOOTH      Fr3 3 Kari Males Zac Phillips 77.2m $ 3.10 fav  PRS GS W1 3WL TIRE QUER VXAR SWAB WI Scratchings   FABRICATION 11 Track Rating: Gross Time: 3:23:6 Mile Rate: 1:58:7 Lead Time: 84.2 First Quarter: 30.5 Second Quarter: 30.2 Third Quarter: 28.8 Fourth Quarter: 29.9 Margins: 1.2m x 1.7m   Chris Barsby

Talk about neighbourly rivalry. The Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, the biggest and richest harness racing event on the Australian trotting calendar, takes places this weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton and it will stir emotions. A Trans-Tasman clash between the best trotters currently available will take place over the staying distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions, it’s the second leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. And both sides of the ditch are well represented. The host nation possess are strong team loaded with great weaponry while the Kiwis are tried and true at the elite level, plus, they have the runs on the board. First staged in 2013, all winners have originated from the Shaky Isles while three of the winners were also prepared there but an Australian trained trotter proved victorious last year. Glenferrie Typhoon, prepared by the husband and wife team of Andy and Kate Gath, defied Auckland based performer Speeding Spur of back to back triumphs when he led throughout in track record time of 1:58.8. Initially modelled on Sweden’s universally revered Elitlopp, the Great Southern Star originally featured two Group 1 heats with a final all run on the same card before being drastically altered last year with the event becoming a straight out contest. Millionaire performer Keystone Del is the other Australian trained winner of the event when prepared by Nicole Molander while Vulcan, Stent and Speeding Spur have all tasted success for New Zealand based trainers. But the locals are ready for a title defence. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 3) will command plenty of respect following her last start romp in the George Gath at Shepparton two weeks ago while My Tribeca (gate 12) and Sparkling Success (gate 10) bounce out of last week’s E B Cochran Cup from Ballarat after their one/two finish. The Boss Man (gate 1), Hey Yo (gate 5), Vincennes (gate 7) and Sky Petite (gate 9) also represent the state of Victoria while quality Sydney trained trotter On Thunder Road (gate 4) will also have plenty of support. Both Daryl Boko (Finland) and Kyvalley Blur (North America) add that cosmopolitan flavour and both have excellent claims. Daryl Boko has drawn gate 2 while Kyvalley Blur has drawn gate 6. New Zealand trained performers are both from the north island with Temporale (gate 8) and Speeding Spur (gate 13) flying the Kiwi flag, both are well known to Australians fans owing to successful previous campaigns. Fabrication (gate 11) is the listed emergency for the event. The opening leg of the APG Trotting Masters was staged back in November during Cup week in Christchurch at Addington with the running of the Gr.1 $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion which was won by outsider Amaretto Sun. Only Daryl Boko and Hey Yo will contest the Great Southern Star after starting in the Dominion. The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time. Chris Barsby

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