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Sunday’s Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters Derby Final may have changed complexion in the minds of some after the heats were contested at Maryborough yesterday. The horse many thought series favourite, Elite Stride, had to settle for third in his qualifier behind Matt Craven’s flying filly Pink Galahs (pictured), who made it four straight wins after sprinting a head triumph over Lisa Miles’ brave Powderkeg in the second heat. Elite Stride led and appeared to have every chance before finishing 4.4m third, while Chris Lang’s rising star Red White An Bloom ran on into fourth place from an extreme back-row draw. Pink Galahs, a daughter of Skyvalley, has now won 12 of 18 starts, including a Group 1 double in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint and TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks.  Earlier New South Wales raider Gimondi did all the work and took the chocolates in the first of the heats, the Blake Fitzpatrick-trained sone of Peak NDK 4m too good for Michael Hughes’ Is That A Bid, with Emmanuel Portelli’s underrated Sky Eagle running into third place from the back ahead of Cracker Jet. Highly rated French import Holzarte Vedaquais galloped twice in running and came in last in his heat after initially showing terrific gate speed to lead from the pole. Meanwhile, two-year-old Father Patrick gelding Have No Fear shortened in markets for the Volstead Redwood Classic after extending his unbeaten run to three in the Garry Angus Memorial 2YO Handicap yesterday. Trained and driven by Anthony Butt (pictured above), Have No Fear stepped professionally to lead before drawing clear to score by over 10m in 2:07.1. “He’s been really well mannered the whole way along,” Butt said on Trots Vision post-race. “We’ve given him a couple of standing start trials and he’s always been away beautifully. That won’t worry him next week. “It’s great to be able to give him a run on the track a week out.” Butt won last year’s Redwood Classic aboard Ultimate Stride.   HRV - Cody Winnell

Those who follow our sport know harness racing winners are often raced, trained, bred, and even driven by members of the same family operation. It is a huge selling point. A point of significant difference. A story that needs telling to the masses: The accessibility of the trots; the thrill of involvement, from the initial decision to get a mare in foal, to the foaling itself, to the initial training, then to the trials, to the races, and hopefully to the winners’ stall. At headquarters tonight, in the two juvenile trotting feature races – the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Trotting Finals – the Lee and Craven family from Terang, and husband and wife team Dennis and Shirley Paton from Harston achieved the ultimate final step of the abovementioned journey. Group 1 glory. Keayang Ninja (pictured above with Jason aboard and below with trainer Paddy) prevailed for Paddy and Jason Lee in the Home Grown Colts and Geldings Final.   Paddy takes the training credit, Jason the driving, while mum Marg has a one-third breeding credit in the gelding along with her sons. Dennis and Shirley Paton meanwhile bred Sheza Pleasure (pictured right with Dennis and below with Kerryn Manning in the sulky), winner of the Fillies Home Grown Classic, with Dennis the trainer. Tonight, he engaged Manning to steer the filly to Group 1 success. “He’s a lovely bloke,” Manning said of Paton, whose win tonight broke a 35-year metropolitan training win drought, with his previous metro win coming in 1985 with Anne Of Hanover at Moonee Valley. “He’s had a bit of a headache with this one sometimes. He’s been doing a few different things with her of late. She was naughty last time but added the Murphy Blind for hanging in and she was good tonight. “She’s got ability. Once she starts putting it together, she should win a few nice races.” Jason Lee admitted winning on “a family horse” was a bit special. “Paddy’s put a lot of work into this fella. He’s been a lot of hard work from day dot. He’s been difficult, but he’s got a bit of a motor. All credit to Paddy.” Lee said his confidence spiked when he knew Paddy was attending the races given his brother’s beloved Cats were playing off in a preliminary final. “He generally won’t go to the races if Geelong are playing,” he said. Keayang Ninja is by Wishing Stone out of Keystone Crosby mare Another Clare, who won nine races for the Mahncke family between 2009 and 2014. He rated 1:58.9 over 1720m to defeat Illawong Barmah (Craig Demmler trained and driven) by 4.9m with Utopia (trained by Emma Stewart and driven by Jodi Quinlan) running third. Sheza Pleasure is by Bacardi Lindy out of Sierra Kosmos mare Sheza Comment, who never raced but has so far thrown multiple winners Sheza Amason, Lord Lohki and Millys Magic. She rated 1:59.6 to defeat Keayang Xena (trained by Paddy Lee and driven by Jason Lee) by 2m with Evas Image (trained and driven by Chris Lang) finishing third. So, tell your friends – there are many avenues to getting involved in the trots. There is big money invested at the top end from major players daring to dream; bargain buys at every yearling sale and dotted through claiming races; and family projects whose toil and tears are often immeasurable as they pursue their lifelong passion.   HRV - Cody Winnell

A Yield Boko filly out of Ushaka Bromac named Aldebaran Ursula set Menangle ablaze yesterday and the upcoming Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series now beckon. The KerryAnn Morris-trained two-year-old, a graduate of the 2019 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale, rated 1:56.8 to defeat older horses in the two- and three-year-old trot over 1609m from the mobile start. Driven by Josh Gallagher, Aldebaran Ursula stretched out like she’d been trotting for seasons at the top of the Menangle straight, ripping home against a slick 28.7 last quarter to upstage three-year-old Sunny Gee in the run to the wire. Robbie Morris, partner of KerryAnn Turner, said Aldebaran Ursula had been a consummate professional since day one. “She’s always been very natural and her gait is terrific,” he told Paul Campbell on Campbell’s Comments yesterday. “From the word go we thought she could be something, but you never like to get too excited. The faster she’s got the more she’s trotted out. She’s just gotten stronger and stronger as it goes on.” Morris broke the news that Aldebaran Ursula would now transfer to the Andy Gath stable for a Victorian campaign. “She’ll go there at the start of next week. With COVID-19 and the way everything is right now, we could go with her but if things don’t change getting back could be a hassle,” he said. With four wins from six starts, Aldebaran Ursula – a graduate of the 2018 APTS sale – has quickly put herself and the quality of young Australian trotters on the map. Duncan McPherson, principal of Aldebaran Park, congratulated the filly on her performance.  "Aldebaran Park bred and raised - and Australasian Premier Trotting Sale graduate 2yo filly Aldebaran Ursula (Yield Boko Se - Ushaka Bromac Nz) T2 - 1.56.8 - today broke her own race record for 2yo Trotters at Menangle Park Raceway - New South Wales - Australia 13th October 2020," he wrote.  "Congratulations to our Stud and Farm managers Melinda and Danny Thackeray and all our team on farm. "Congratulations to her owners for having faith in Aldebaran Park yearlings and to her trainer KerryAnn Morris and driver Joshua Gallagher."   HRV - Cody Winnell

The fanfare as Courage Under Fire made his way to the track in January 2000 at Moonee Valley for a heat of the Inter Dominion was like nothing else in recent time at that time. The “Mighty Mouse”, having won 24 straight races to kick-start his career. He was seemingly perfection, surrounded by his human entourage as the powerful pint-sized pacer arrogantly strode on to the big stage. If a racehorse was ever unconquerable, this seemed that. Enter Kyema Kid. No slouch, no Courage Under Fire either, but courage of a different nature that night. Striding by the champ in front of a huge crowd. We’d all just survived “Y2K”. But as Dan Mielicki famously declared, “The world must be ending!”   Fast-forward 20 years. Last night at Tabcorp Park Melton all eyes were on the TAB Smoken Up Sprint. Not just harness fans, but newbies from all codes, all sports, wanting to “find out more about this Ride High”. It propelled the Ride High discussion to No.14 on the Melbourne Twitter trends map during a heightened AFL finals period. No mean feat. The drama began as the horses were in the Parade Ring before the Smoken Up Sprint. Several lights unexpectedly went out along the front straight, resulting in a lengthy delay and an electrical technician summoned to explore the situation. Ride High and his rivals went back to the stables.  The race was rescheduled. The horses were then back in the parade ring, but the lighting issue rose again, and this time required a complete shutdown of the system to keep the remainder of the night on track. A further delay ensued. Third time lucky, and with the lights back in action, the horses completed their preliminary warm-ups and Ride High was sent out a $1.10 favourite. Unbackable and seemingly unbeatable. The Clayton Tonkin-trained pacing powerhouse was forced to motor hard mid-race to overcome his extreme back-row draw, eventually getting to the chair. And when he glided by the race leader Cruz approaching the home corner it appeared a case of ‘how far?’ as predicted by most punters. Normalcy had returned after a peculiar night. Or so it seemed. For as quickly as Ride High hit full tilt, he appeared to tire. The calvary arrived, sprinted past the favourite, and Rishi at odds of $120 produced a famous victory in the race named in honour of his trainer Lance Justice’s best-ever pacer, Smoken Up. And as was the case 20 years prior, Mielicki delivered a line sure to become almost as famous: “The lights have gone out in a different way – this is a massive upset!” All honours to popular Ararat reinsman Michael Bellman, who drove Rishi, Justice, and the hard-working technical crew at Tabcorp Park Melton for ensuring the race eventually went ahead in trying circumstances. To the victor goes the spoils.  The quaddie paid over $25,000. I wonder if Rishi’s owner, long-time industry supporter, John Hawke, had a live ticket. Most punters were flabbergasted. And that’s racing. Now, the next 24-48 hours will be as intriguing as last night and as next Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, because fans will be glued to the channels to find out how Ride High pulled up and whether the superstar will take his place in the $300,000 Grand Circuit classic at Melton next Saturday night. Will we have to wait longer after all for the long-awaited and much hyped clash between Ride High and Lochinvar Art? Perhaps we’ll have to turn to the 2021 TAB Summer of Glory for that score to finally be settled? What is certain is that we’ll learn a fair bit more today/tomorrow, then on Tuesday morning when the barriers are drawn for the Vic Cup. And we’ll learn a stack more next Saturday night. And it’ll be a magnificent show. But the biggest learnings of all may come in February 2020, because if “the clash” doesn’t occur beforehand, the A.G. Hunter Cup would surely become the most anticipated in modern history.   HRV - Cody Winnell

Sunday’s Aldebaran Park Starlet 3YO Trot at Cranbourne has attracted a classy line-up of trotting fillies. The $10,000 race carries an additional $1500 service voucher courtesy of Aldebaran Park to the winner, which can be claimed to offset a service to Aldebaran Park’s resident stallion Skyvalley or Aldebaran Eagle, whose semen is available through Aldebaran Park for the 2020 or 2021 seasons. This year’s Aldebaran Park Starlet will prove a key guide to the upcoming Group 1 TAB Victoria Trotters Oaks, to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on October 17. The stellar Aldebaran Park Starlet field consists of the following runners:  2. Araignee Flair (by Yankee Spider out of Petite Flair) Has won two races from 10 starts, including a last-start Ballarat triumph in 2:02.5. The filly is out of Petite Flair, making her a half-sister to The Girls Gotflair and Mister Pepe. Petite Flair was a full-sister to A Touch Of Flair (1:52.6, $569k), and a half-sister to Mighty Maori (1:55.2, $256k) and Son Of Flair (1:56.2, $257k). Yabby Dam Farms races Araignee Flair and she was bred by Yirribee Pacing Stud. 3: Imamaorijet (by Quaker Jet out of Sumthingaboutmaori) Broke her maiden status last start at Kilmore with a 2:04.3 victory over 2180m. In addition to that she has placed five times. Bred and raced by Yabby Dam Farms, Imamaorijet is from 31-time winning mare and Inter Dominion winner Sumthingaboutmaori. 4: Homonym (by Majestic out of A Touch Of Sun) Winner of two of four starts. A filly trained by Emmett and Richard Brosnan, Homonym is a full-sister to smart squaregaiter King Denny. Her only two defeats so far have come when she has broken in running. Bred by Jordash Breeding Trust. 5: Aldebaran Tess (by Muscle Hill out of Solar Powered) Bred and raced by event sponsor Aldebaran Park, Aldebaran Tess looks a star on the rise for Terang trainer Matthew Craven. The daughter of Muscle Hill is out of unraced daughter of Sundon Solar Powered, who has also produced the smart Aldebaran Willo (five wins from 13 starts to date). Aldebaran Tess has won three of her six starts and looks a serious feature race player this season. 6: Illawong Stardust (by Muscle Hill out of Lunar Landing) A four-time winner from 14 starts to date, Illawong Stardust is a well-bred daughter of gun producer Lunar Landing, making her a half-sister to Spidergirl (42 starts, 20 wins, $317k, 1:56.8), Illawong Moonshine (40 starts, 10 wins, $63k, 1:58.1) and Illawong Armstrong (84 starts, 18 wins, 1:56.0, $230k). Illawong Stardust was bred by prolific breeder Dr Martin Hartnett, who passed away earlier this year. She is raced by Hartnett’s loving wife, Kaye. 7: Naked Ambition (by Andover Hall out of Starcus) A daughter of Andover Hall and Starcus (a mare who has produced 13-time winner Zhenya, nine-time winner Naked Majesty, 18-time winner War Dan Destroyer and three-time winner Birthday Suit) Naked Ambition has won four races from 12 starts to date for trainer Dylan Stratford. The talented trotting filly is raced by the Cranbourne Club 21 Syndicate and is coming off a last-start Melton win. She was bred by Gerard Moloney. 8: Im Ready Jet (by Quaker Jet out of Im Ready Set) Breeders Crown champion at two and IRT Australia Need for Speed Princess Final winner earlier this year at three, Im Ready Jet has won six races from 11 starts to date and resumes from a spell here for trainer Anton Golino. Im Ready Jet is out of Im Ready Set, who has also produced talented fast-class trotting mare Imsettogo. Bred and raced by Yabby Dam Farms and looks set for a big next few months on the feature race scene. 9: Tailored Elegance (by Muscle Hill out of Classic Armbro) The real Tailored Elegance stepped out last time out at Bendigo and won by over 20m in 1:58.7 – a new career-best mark for this filly. Tailored Elegance has won five races from 14 starts for stakemoney of $77,926. She is bred and raced by Breckon Farms and was successful in New Zealand before crossing the ditch recently.  10: Queen of Crime (by Sportswriter out of Our Crime Of Passion) The second of Matt Craven’s fillies in this year’s Aldebaran Starlet, this daughter of Our Crime Of Passion is pacing bred and has made mistakes at both of her trotting runs to date when favourite. Bred and raced by Tony and Pam Coniglio. 11: Hopeful Beauty (by Brillantissime out of Beauty Life) French-bred trotter owned by Yabby Dam Farms and trained by Anton Golino, Hopeful Beauty has one win from four starts to date. That success came at Charlton in August. 12: Quality Sunset (by Quality Cam out of Troys Sunset) Trainer and owner Peter Fiscalini also drives this daughter of Troys Sunset, who has shown plenty of brilliance in winning two races from 10 starts to date. Quality Sunset possesses a powerful finishing burst and looms as a smoky in the good three-year-old races in coming months.  Sunday's Aldebaran Park Starlet is Race 4 at Cranbourne and is scheduled to be run at 7.25pm.   Meanwhile, Australasian Premier Trotting Sale graduates Whose Me Mum, Captain McCraw, Fend Off and Scootin Around will all compete at Cranbourne in Race 6 on Sunday.  Check out the full list of APTS graduates and explore the 2021 APTS catalogue at the new and improved APTS website today.  Picture: Smart trotting filly Im Ready Jet cruises to victory. By Stuart McCormick.  APTS graduates in action in coming days are:   Friday October 02 FEAR NOT @ BALLARAT (Race 6) KYVALLEY SHAUNIE @ BALLARAT (Race 6) RIGONDEAUX @ BALLARAT (Race 6) Saturday October 03 GREG THE GREAT @ ALBION PARK (Race 10) MY LITTLE COMET @ GLOBE DERBY PARK (Race 6) CRUISIN AROUND @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 7) ALDEBARAN CRESCENT @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 10) ZAREM @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 10) KYVALLEY CLICHY @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 10) HOTJANE BLING @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 7) Sunday October 04 WHOSE ME MUM @ CRANBOURNE (Race 6) CAPTAIN MCCRAW @ CRANBOURNE (Race 6) FEND OFF @ CRANBOURNE (Race 6) SCOOTIN AROUND @ CRANBOURNE (Race 6) Monday October 05 ALDEBARAN GWEN (First Starter) @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 2) KYVALLEY HIPHOP @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 3) EVAS IMAGE @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 3) LOVE TO DASH (First Starter) @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 3) QUEEN INVASION @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 4) AMOUR MATERNAL (First Starter) @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 4) ALDEBARAN YAHTZEE @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 4) BULLION HARRY (First Starter) @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 5) BROMWICH @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 5) UTOPIA @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 5) DREAM INCEPTION @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 5) MAESTRO @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 5) DONT CARE @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 6) TENNERSON @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 6) ALDEBARAN ZEUS @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 6) SUNSUP @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 6) ALDEBARAN ROCKY @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 7) DICKO DIXON @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 7) BIRTHDAY SUIT @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 7) BALL PARK @ MARYBOROUGH (Race 7) HAMMERS LAW @ PINJARRA (Race 9) Tuesday October 06 SHADOW HALL @ ALBION PARK (Race 1) MELPARK MAGIC @ ALBION PARK (Race 3) GREG THE GREAT @ ALBION PARK (Race 3) COME AT ME @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 1) AGENT MAORI @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 2) DO BALL @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 3) Wednesday October 07 GLENGARRIFF @ BENDIGO (Race 1) BACARDI JESS @ BENDIGO (Race 7) ALDEBARAN SUNDOWN @ HORSHAM (Race 1)   HRV - Cody Winnell

Saturday night’s Tabcorp Park Melton program shapes as a tantalising prelude to the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup to be run Saturday week. The Group 2 TAB Smoken Up Sprint, a race named in honour of the mighty Lance Justice-trained champion, will feature the modern-day pin-up pacer in Ride High who, despite drawing the extreme gate 11 over the 1720m, opened prohibitively short with TAB at $1.25 before easing to $1.33. Ride High (pictured), aka 'Chainsaw', has only tasted defeat once in his 17-start career to date. And since that gutsy third in the Vicbred Super Series three-year-old final of July 7, 2018, the brilliant son of Art Major has built a picket-fence of 11 straight successes.  And if he can overcome the alley and take his winning run to a dozen with victory on Saturday night, Ride High will only strengthen his hold on market top billing for the $300,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. PODCAST: CODY WINNELL AND ANDREW BENSLEY DISCUSS THE FIELDS Among his rivals on Saturday night, New South Wales visitor Cruz, a winner of 27 of his 77 starts, shapes as an interesting contender. The speedster boasts a career-best 1:49.9 mark at Menangle and is drawn to take full advantage of his early gate speed in barrier two. With four wins from his last five starts, including twice upstaging Queensland wonder horse Colt Thirty One, the six-year-old son of American Ideal from the Craig Cross camp has never raced better. South-west Victoria's latest star pacer, Code Bailey, has drawn gate seven for his return, the Marg Lee-trained Bendigo and Terang Cup winner first-up since finishing sixth in the Miracle Mile.                   Another highlight on Saturday night will be the Allied Express Jane Ellen Pace over 2240m, which has attracted a sterling line-up of mares. Group 1 winners Kualoa, Dr Susan, Goodtime Heaven and No Win No Feed will all contest the $30,000 event.                And the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free for All brings together a star-studded line-up of trotters, with Tornado Valley, Sparkling Success, Dance Craze and Sammy Showdown among the key contestants.                     HRV - Cody Winnell

Storm Cloud steps out at Shepparton on Saturday night and the exciting five-year-old will be out to maintain a higher than 50 per cent winning record. The son of power producer Cloud Chaser has won six from 11 starts thus far with a 2:00.1 best mile rate to date. Purchased for $36,000 as ‘lucky for some’ Lot 13 in the 2016 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale (APTS), the son of Majestic Son has already pocketed connections $32,514 in stakemoney. Should Storm Cloud and young reinsman Brad Chisholm trot to victory in the Your Sold Real Estate Trot (Race 9) on Saturday, the $5700 first prize cheque will push the trotter into the black. Since joining the powerful Brent Lilley stable Storm Cloud has only tasted defeat once in five starts – that loss coming last time out at Ballarat when fresh-up off a month’s break. Storm Cloud has dominated some talented squaregaiters along the way, too, including Is That A Bid, Royal Charlotte, Powderkeg, Barhoon and Kyvalley Kyrie who have all been left in his wake during recent months. Storm Cloud is the third foal of eight-time winning mare Cloud Chaser, who threw dual Group 1 winner Cruisin Around in 2011. To win on Saturday night Storm Cloud will have to outpunch phenom Cracker Jet, a winner of four out of seven to date, and a small but select filed of flair, which also features Zarem – a graduate of the 2017 APTS. Zarem fetched a bargain $9000 as Lot 63 but has won $54,180 in stakes. Meanwhile, Saturday night’s win of Hotjane Bling at Menangle took the Eilean Donon mare to No.10 on the overall APTS graduates’ earning chart. Trained and driven by Brian Portelli, Hotjane Bling’s career tally stands at $112,970 with 13 wins from 60 starts. Hotjane Bling was purchased for a meagre $9000 at the 2015 APTS. The most recent victory sets the scene for a cracking contest this Saturday night at Menangle where the new No.10 APTS earner will take on the trotter immediately above her on the earners’ list, Agent Maori.   APTS graduates in action in coming days are:   Wednesday August 12 TIP TOP EURASIAN @ STAWELL (Race 3) KYVALLEY CATWALK @ STAWELL (Race 3) ALDEBARAN ROCKY @ STAWELL (Race 3) BACARDI CHARDY @ STAWELL (Race 3) DICKO DIXON @ STAWELL (Race 3) Thursday August 13 RULES DONT APPLY @ BALLARAT (Race 1) KEAYANG LIVANA @ BALLARAT (Race 2) FEAR NOT @ BALLARAT (Race 2) GUS AN MAORI @ BALLARAT (Race 2) THE GIRLS GOTFLAIR @ BALLARAT (Race 7) Friday August 14 JADE NIEN @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 1) CAPTAIN MCCRAW @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 1) ALDEBARAN STEVIE @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 1) Saturday August 15 GREG THE GREAT @ ALBION PARK (Race 10) AGENT MAORI @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 7) HOTJANE BLING @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 7) MARVELLOUS MAX @ SHEPPARTON (Race 6) STORM CLOUD @ SHEPPARTON (Race 9) ZAREM @ SHEPPARTON (Race 9)     Visit the new-look APTS website for more information on the annual APTS sale, including Harness Racing Victoria's special 'sales day special', which sees yearlings purchased eligible for the industry leading Vicbred program, the Need for Speed series and the Breeders Crown for just $1000 – a saving of over $500. Earlier this year the Victorian Harness Racing Club announced it had signed a partnership with the APTS and Australian Pacing Gold which will deliver up to $900,000 in financial benefits shared between owners and trainers of APTS purchases.   HRV - Cody Winnell

Australasian Premier Trotting Sale 2013 graduate Agent Maori will line up for start No.148 at Menangle today. The eight-year-old gelding by Federal Flex out of Windsongs Maori has enjoyed a terrific career, which kicked off as a two-year-old. He is now ninth on the all-time list of APTS graduate earners. The juvenile quickly made an impact for trainer Ross Graham, winning his first two starts in 2014 before taking out a heat of the Foundation series at Menangle as a three-year-old, going on to run second in the $16,000 Final behind Fiery Mountain Girl. Agent Maori finished in the top-five money at 11 of his first 12 starts, winning five of those races and finishing fifth in the Group 1 New South Wales Trotters Derby. From July 31 to September 11 in 2018, Agent Maori won five races from seven starts – including a career-best 1:55.8 victory over The Male Model. In more recent times Agent Maori has placed at eight of his last 10 starts and is knocking on the door after a last-start second behind Major Thomas on Saturday night. Agent Maori’s record stands at 147 starts for 13 wins and 36 minor placings – for prizemoney of over $121,000. One of the secrets of trots ownership is the durability of the standardbred. You simply get more fun for your buck as most trotters when fit and in work can back up far more often than thoroughbreds. The best example of this in the business is mighty mare Fear Not – the fifth highest-earning APTS graduate. Fear Not (pictured below by Stuart McCormick) was purchased early at APTS 2014 – Lot 1 in fact – and she went for a song to Glenn Conroy for just $4000. The daughter of Skyvalley-Aldebaran Maori has gone on to earn $161,935 from 192 starts. On Thursday she lines up at Ballarat in Race 6. Fear Not is the queen of consistency. She has won seven races, placed second or third on 60 occasions and placed either fourth or fifth a further 73 times. So, 140 times out of 192 Fear Not has finished top-five. Bonny as. All the best to this week’s APTS graduates, a list of which you can view below this article. Note, this list updates daily and will continue to update as more fields are drawn. APTS graduates in action in coming days are:   Tuesday July 28 MELPARK MAGIC @ ALBION PARK (Race 2) ALDEBARAN LEROY @ BENDIGO (Race 2) KYVALLEY KYRIE @ BENDIGO (Race 2) KYVALLEY CATWALK @ BENDIGO (Race 4) ALDEBARAN CRESCENT @ BENDIGO (Race 6) GAP YEAR @ GLOUCESTER PARK (Race 6) HAMMERS LAW @ GLOUCESTER PARK (Race 6) JADE NIEN @ KILMORE (Race 1) QUICK WITTED @ KILMORE (Race 5) HEY LISTEN @ KILMORE (Race 6) COME AT ME @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 1) DO BALL @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 1) AGENT MAORI @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 3) Wednesday July 29 BLACK CAT CLAW @ SHEPPARTON (Race 6) MISS TIPSY @ SHEPPARTON (Race 6) ALDEBARAN ROCKY @ STAWELL (Race 5) DICKO DIXON @ STAWELL (Race 5) Thursday July 30 GLENGARRIFF @ BALLARAT (Race 2) CALEDONIAN SPIRIT @ BALLARAT (Race 2) ALDEBARAN KNOX @ BALLARAT (Race 2) THE GIRLS GOTFLAIR @ BALLARAT (Race 6) THE SUMMER CAT @ BALLARAT (Race 6) FEAR NOT @ BALLARAT (Race 6) Friday July 31 HATCHBACK @ TABCORP PARK MELTON (Race 8) Saturday August 01 BALL PARK @ BENDIGO (Race 2) MARVELLOUS MAX @ BENDIGO (Race 7) MAR PACIFICO @ BENDIGO (Race 7) HOTJANE BLING @ TABCORP PARK MENANGLE (Race 8) Visit the new-look APTS website for more information on the annual APTS sale, including Harness Racing Victoria's special 'sales day special', which sees yearlings purchased eligible for the industry leading Vicbred program, the Need for Speed series and the Breeders Crown for just $1000 – a saving of over $500. Earlier this year the Victorian Harness Racing Club announced it had signed a partnership with the APTS and Australian Pacing Gold which will deliver up to $900,000 in financial benefits shared between owners and trainers of APTS purchases.   HRV - Cody Winnell

The Australasian Premier Trotting Sale continues to deliver quality trotting yearlings. APTS graduates are racing throughout Australia pretty much every day, showcasing the standardbred's durability, and the mile rates for trotters are getting faster and faster. This week's graduates in action include Aldebaran Knox at Ballarat tomorrow night, a striking and muscular son of Muscle Hill out of Sundon mare Kyvalley Aldebaran, who topped the 2018 sale price ladder with $90,000 shelled out to purchase the good-looker.  Aldebaran Knox impressed at his first preparation for trainer-driver Matthew Craven, scoring a powerful victory on debut at Maryborough when he swept clear of his rivals late for a 10.8-metre win.  The colt finished second in his Aldebaran Park Home Grown Classic heat before not bringing his best manners to the final, galloping twice but still managing to finish in fifth place before heading for a spell.  Another headline act will be Fox Force Five tonight at Terang, who resumes from over a year off for trainer-driver David Murphy. Fox Force Five is a daughter of Yankee Spider out of Yankee Paco mare Motu Vee.   As a two- and three-year-old Fox Force Five collected over $36,500 in stake money and showed plenty of x-factor in among some occasional patchy manners. It will be interesting to see how forward she is tonight.  APTS graduates in action in coming days are:  Wednesday 22 July Aldebaran Rocky @ Terang Black Cat Claw @ Shepparton Caledonian Spirit @ Terang Fox Force Five @ Terang Gus An Maori @ Terang (pictured right by Stuart McCormick) Keayang Livana @ Terang Thursday 23 July Aldebaran Knox @ Ballarat (pictured above by Stuart McCormick in the APTS 2018 sales ring) The Girlsgotflair @ Ballarat Van Sank @ Ballarat Victree Hill @ Ballarat Friday 24 July Hatchback @ Tabcorp Park Melton Saturday 25 July Agent Maori @ Menangle Ball Park @ Shepparton Greg The Great @ Albion Park Hotjane Bling @ Menangle Kyvalley Clichy @ Shepparton (pictured right by Stuart McCormick) Mar Pacifico @ Shepparton Melpark Major @ Albion Park Morgan Mylee @ Shepparton Needabacardi @ Shepparton Tam Oshanter @ Shepparton Sunday 26 July Irene Rose @ Bendigo My Mate Yankee @ Bendigo   Visit the new-look APTS website for more information on the annual APTS sale, including Harness Racing Victoria's special 'sales day special', which sees yearlings purchased eligible for the industry leading Vicbred program, the Need for Speed series and the Breeders Crown for just $1000 – a saving of over $500. Earlier this year the Victorian Harness Racing Club announced it had signed a partnership with the APTS and Australian Pacing Gold which will deliver up to $900,000 in financial benefits shared between owners and trainers of APTS purchases.   HRV - Cody Winnell

Racing is today mourning the sudden passing of an industry doyen in Rob Gaylard at age 70. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Chairman Dale Monteith paid tribute to “a close friend”. “I’ve known Rob for the best part of 30 years and have had the pleasure of working with him at Flemington and in harness racing. Before that I knew him at Caulfield as well. I enjoyed his company. We enjoyed talking about horses and racing and life in general,” Monteith said. “He’s just a wonderful person to be involved with and we’re so blessed to have had him in harness racing with Channel 31 and the promotion of the sport he provided.” Gaylard’s genuine love of horses shone through in his various media work. His intimate equine knowledge and passion transcended racing. “He loved all horse breeds. He and his wife Karen had carriage horses and he’d help prepare them and look after them. In more recent times of course he looked after Chautauqua at his property. He was very passionate about life after racing. He was extremely proud of his daughter (Casey) being involved too and her work in the media,” Monteith said. CEO Dayle Brown also had a long association with Gaylard dating back to 1996 and his first stint at HRV. Brown would go on to work closely with Gaylard at Racing Victoria and witnessed firsthand the esteem in which Gaylard was held with young participants. “Rob and I go back to 1996 when I first started at Harness Racing Victoria. I remember fondly him anchoring the Channel 31 coverage alongside Rob Auber, Bill Hutchison and others. Those are great memories of Rob’s media work. “I worked more closely with him at RVL when he was there performing media training for the apprentice jockeys,” Brown said. “He was extremely passionate about that role and the apprentices would hang off every word. For young participants making their way through the industry, Rob was their go-to man. “He will be very, very sorely missed.” Gaylard has also conducted media training for HRV participants. Both Monteith and Brown highlighted Gaylard’s “unassuming” personality. “He knew everyone in racing by name and always greeted them with a big smile and a handshake. He knew both codes and the people within the codes so well. He didn’t use people. He gave as good as he got in terms of interaction and it was always a pleasure to have a chat with him,” Monteith said. “We’d often talk in the mounting yard at Flemington. We always had time for one another.” Just last year Gaylard hosted the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame night and this year’s TAB Summer of Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton. Tabcorp Park General Manager Gayle Harvey also paid tribute to Gaylard. “Rob was a lovely man. He often hosted major events here for us and was just a wonderful person to deal with. This is a very sad day and my thoughts are with his family,” Harvey said. HRV and Tabcorp Park extend deepest sympathies to Gaylard’s wife, Karen, his daughter, Casey, and their family.   HRV - Cody Winnell

The Tip Top Grandpa story encapsulates so much we love about this great game, harness racing. The 10-year-old trotter today won his third race, taking out the Niota Bloodstock Trot at Tabcorp Park Melton.  While 10-year-olds winning races in the trots is not a rarity, this fella didn’t debut until he turned 10 last September. Trained, bred and owned by veteran horseman Charlie Farrugia, 80, Tip Top Grandpa has been a revelation since the team decided to give him another shot at making the track. Previously they had tried at him as a much younger horse, at age 3 and 4, but it wasn't to be. Until it was. Winning driver Darren Zahra explained on Trots Vision that Tip Top Grandpa had just been living life on the property and enjoying himself as one of Farrugia’s several pet horses. “They’re all his pets,” Zahra told hosts Dan Mielicki and Rob Auber today. “If you told him he had a slow one he wouldn’t believe you. They’re all good horses to him.” Such love for the standardbred is also not a rarity in the game, but to be reminded of it again in such a way as today’s win at Tabcorp Park Melton is something to capture. Tip Top Grandpa is out of a mare by Tip Top Prince who never raced, and Grandpa is her first and only foal. Hear more from Zahra post-race below.    HRV - Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today announced two of Victoria’s premier harness races, the 2020 Victoria Cup and 2021 Great Southern Star, will carry more prizemoney.   HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said the additional prizemoney for the races would be funded without change to HRV’s current stakemoney budget following New South Wales’ decision to postpone its Inter Dominion hosting until 2021. Bell also announced Australia’s premier trotting event, the Great Southern Star, would revert to its original format of two heats into a final (all over 1720 metres) on the one night and would be hosted on an all-trotting Friday night card during the 2021 Summer of Glory. “We are pleased to announce prizemoney increases to two of our major events and for the Great Southern Star to be returning to its original exciting format,” Bell said. “On the Great Southern Star changes, it is important we recognise that trotting is a huge part of HRV’s international strategy. In time, the hope is we will regularly secure international participation in the Great Southern Star as part of a series of Victorian trotting features during summer. “The Victoria Cup is a prestigious Grand Circuit pacing event. Traditionally it has been seen as our Cox Plate. We’re pleased to be able to honour the event with prizemoney more befitting its status.” It was announced last week that the Victoria Cup would remain in its October timeslot, Saturday night October 10, the night of the Caulfield Guineas meeting. The Great Southern Star will be held on a new all-trotting card at Tabcorp Park Melton on the Friday night before the A.G. Hunter Cup during the 2021 Summer of Glory. The Victoria Cup will carry $300,000 worth of prizemoney, while the Great Southern Star will be made up of two $50,000 heats into a $300,000 final.   HRV - Cody Winnell

On today's edition of SENTrack's Talking Trots on Track host Jason Bonnington put a question to Victoria’s leading trainer: “At his best is Ride High the best horse in the country?” Emma Stewart, partner of Ride High’s trainer Clayton Tonkin, simply responded “yes”. And that’s the news we wanted to hear ahead of the star five-year-old’s return in the $20,000 Vale Rod Osborne Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Stewart was full of praise for the son of Art Major, who boasts 10 wins from his 11 starts to date with a 1:55.2 best mark at Melton over 2240m, a 53.7sec last 800m at Melton over 2240m in the 4&5yo Championship, and a 25.7sec last 400m explosion in the three-year-old Breeders Crown Final of 2018. “It’s really exciting to have him back,” Stewart said. Listen to the full podcast of the interview below. Watch Ride High's recent Ballarat trial win below.   HRV - Cody Winnell

Victorian harness racing is tonight mourning a dear industry friend after the passing of Rod Osborne. Mr Osborne died peacefully today aged 86 after a lengthy battle with illness. He is survived by wife Helen, daughters Catherine and Marilyn and son Craig. During his first role at HRV, now CEO Dayle Brown worked closely with Mr Osborne on a number of integrity matters. “Rod was a great mentor and support to many stewards. I personally had the opportunity to work alongside Rod on many occasions and he will be very sadly missed,” Mr Brown said. “On behalf of HRV sincere condolences are extended to Rod’s wife, Helen, daughters Catherine and Marilyn, and son, Craig during this difficult time.” Last year Mr Osborne was bestowed with HRV’s Distinguished Services Award for his long and valuable contribution to the industry. HRV General Manager of Integrity, Brent Fisher, knew Mr Osborne well and paid tribute to a dear friend and valued colleague. “Rod was such a proud man and someone of the highest integrity,” Mr Fisher said. “He provided exemplary service on the former HRV Racing and Appeals Disciplinary Board for nearly 10 years. He also went out of his way to be supportive and to encourage stewards in their duties. Rod was very obliging with his time and an extremely knowledgeable man. He could quote rules in the rule book verbatim like some people could sing pop songs.” Mr Osborne was also a former successful driver in his own right and won many races. That knowledge and experience no doubt assisted him enormously in his transition to steward. “Receiving the HRV Distinguished Service Award last year was such a proud moment for Rod and the joy on his face when presented that award with his wife of 63 years Helen was a magic moment,” Mr Fisher said. Click here to read Brent Fisher's January Integrity Matters Q&A with Rod Osborne   HRV - Cody Winnell

As Victorian harness racing prepares for the return of metropolitan and feature racing from July 1, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will increase stakemoney at Friday and Saturday meetings on June 19-20 and 26-27. The idea is designed to thank participants for their support of the regional setup, which has been in place since early April, and prepare punters for a return to metro racing. “At the Shepparton meetings on Friday June 19 and 26 and the Melton meetings on Saturday June 20 and 27 we’ll have a ‘metro style’ card,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “We’ll have over $100,000 in stakemoney up for grabs at each of those four meetings – so $400,000 in stakemoney across the four programs. “We will be programming three $20,000 races on each of those cards, which will help to stimulate the active horse population as we look to roll out of the regions on July 1.” Meanwhile, Victoria’s time-honoured Mares’ Triple Crown will this year be recognised officially with HRV naming the series in honour of a long-time industry stalwart. The Elizabeth Clarke Mares’ Triple Crown will launch with the Make Mine Cullen Pace on August 22, before continuing with the Angelique Club Pace on August 29, and culminating with the $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific on September 5. And should a mare this year complete the Elizabeth Clarke Mares’ Triple Crown by winning all three races, as The Orange Agent did in 2017, a bonus of $20,000 will be paid to winning connections. A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the mare which accumulates the most points throughout the three-race series. The announcement comes as HRV today unveiled its feature race program for July and August. “We’re pleased to be able to announce the features for July and August and within the next fortnight we’ll unveil the remainder of the Victorian feature race calendar,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “I’m aware there are questions regarding the popular Redwood Classic day. I can confirm that event will be rescheduled to a later date this year, but all will be revealed in coming days.” HRV Chairman Dale Monteith acknowledged the “outstanding” contribution Elizabeth Clarke (pictured) has made to harness racing in Victoria. “Elizabeth has given a lifetime of service to this industry and we’re pleased to unveil the Elizabeth Clarke Mares’ Triple Crown,” Mr Monteith said. “Elizabeth was a fantastic HRV Board member with a strong focus on corporate governance principles, financial management and integrity functions. As I have stated previously her empathy for the participants and business acumen was second to none.” Among other roles, Clarke has served on the HRV Integrity Council, the Harness Racing Advisory Council, the Racing and Appeals Disciplinary Board and the Terang Harness Racing Club.   HRV - Cody Winnell

'The maestro of Melton' Dan Mielicki produced another virtuoso performance as Harness Racing Victoria's morning trots trial roared to life at Tabcorp Park today. Mielicki, the voice of harness racing in Victoria, delivered one of the more memorable calls as the rain fell at Melton – referencing a classic Seinfeld racing line in Race 3. Rather than tell you what was said, check it out for yourself below in the video! The morning trots are being beamed around Australia via Sky Racing and into the United States for wagering and viewing on Saturday mornings for a three-week trial period. The US folk would undoubtedly have appreciated the Seinfeld line and will be looking forward to the next two Saturday morning Aus time (Friday night US) programs. Michael “King” Cole and Greg “The Candyman” Sugars took driving honours on the seven-race card with winning doubles.   HRV - Cody Winnell

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