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Popular Pearcedale trainer Bill Walker passed away at the weekend after battling serious health issues over the past few years. A talented horseman, Bill produced a string of top performers over many years including Lombo Sykrider, Stoned At Midnight, Charley’s Dream and Stoned I Am and is credited with putting the early polish on Hectorjayjay. He was also an active member of the local harness racing community and, fittingly, a funeral service celebrating Bill’s life will be held this Thursday February 14 commencing at 1.30pm on the first floor of the Cranbourne Racing Centre. Cranbourne Vice-President David Scott said "Bill was the consummate professional". "He was a quietly spoken man and was never one to get carried away even when his team got on a roll," Mr Scott said. “He always seemed to have a nice horse in his team and did so without ever having a barn full of expensive blue-blood types. I think that speaks volumes about his horsemanship. “Bill was also a wonderful supporter of our club and could always be relied on to throw in a late nom if we were struggling for fields or help out with a horse or two for a dual-seater sulky race when the need arose. “I’m sure that those who remember Bill fondly will join us at the track on Thursday to farewell one of harness racing’s gentlemen." The Cranbourne Harness Racing Club and Harness Racing Victoria extend their condolences to Bill’s wife Nell, his daughters Simone and Trudy, and all family and friends.   Trots Media  

As good as Pats Delight has been during this Inter Dominion series trainer Cran Dalgety admits he is probably running for second tonight. And that will be fine by him as the heats of the series draw to a conclusion at Cranbourne. All five heats, two for the trotters and three for the pacers, have red hot favourites and it is hard to make much of a case for any of them to get beaten. Tornado Valley (first trotting heat) and Speeding Spur (second) look set to lead and win, with more interest in which one draws inside the other for next Saturday's final when the draws are made on Monday morning. The pacing heats also have three hotpots, two of them Kiwi-trained in Spankem (first of tonight's pacing heats) and Cruz Bromac (last) while Tiger Tara looks like leading and winning the middle heat. But while Cruz Bromac is expected to do the same, he at least has a quality fellow Kiwi opponent in Im Pats Delight (Aust name), who has been one of the surprise packages of this series and has emerged as one of maybe only five winning chances in next Saturday's A$500,000 final. "He has been super and is thriving over here," says Dalgety about the Canterbury four-year-old. "I'm glad we made the choice to come, it was very up in the air at one stage, because he is loving the racing style here and I think the trip will make him." After smashing his opponents, and the clock, winning his heat at Ballarat on Tuesday it is impossible to completely dismiss Pats Delight even from his second line draw over the 2555m mobile but Dalgety is realistic about the task ahead. "Cruz Bromac looks the leader and to be honest the winner," he says. "And the way he is racing and knowing Natalie (Rasmussen) won't hand up there is no point us taking off and sticking it to him mid race. "So we might end up parked and if we did then second would probably be a good result." Cruz Bromac is looking to go through the heats unbeaten and his already high chances improved when veteran Franco Nelson, who looked his only rival for the lead, was scratched out of the series yesterday. While four of tonight's hotpots should lead and win the most interesting heat tonight should be watching how Spankem overcomes his second line draw. He has at least some genuine competition in fellow heat winners Wrappers Delight and Galactic Star but if he races up to his two huge performances in the series so far he should win and could even be close to favourite for the final should he draw well on Monday.   Michael Guerin

The door is slightly ajar. Queensland pacer Mattgregor still has a chance of qualifying for the Gr.1 $500,000 TAB Inter Dominion Grand Final at Melton next Saturday. He sits right on the precipice. But the Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen trained gelding needs a top three finish in the final round of heats at Cranbourne tomorrow night (Saturday) to stamp his ticket to the big dance next week. And then rely on other results. “I suppose we’re still in the mix to sneak into the final but he needs to race well this weekend to show he deserves his place in the final, a top three finish would propel our chances of qualifying. We’re in the final heat so at least we should know what’s required to get us into the final by that stage.” Turpin said. Mattgregor sits 16th, currently ranked on 14 points. On the opening night last weekend, Mattgregor was responsible for a tidy 7th after starting from a nasty second-line draw and covering ground over the concluding stages before finishing 5th on Tuesday night after having his chance on the speed. Mattgregor will start gate two in the 2555m event tomorrow night but faces series favourite Cruz Bromac  from the stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Cruz Bromac has drawn gate four and is listed at $1.09. “It was a pass mark for his opening heat but probably a shade disappointing on Tuesday night given the trip he got, Pete’s drive was extremely good and deserved a better result. “This is his best draw this weekend and hopefully we can sit handy on the pace again, an ideal scenario would be to lead and then hand over to Cruz Bromac which would give us every opportunity for a top three finish. “He’s handling the series quite well, we’ve always looked after him since he first arrived and we were a little unsure how he would cope but all signs are good right now. Three runs in a week at this level is intense. “If we qualify, well that’s great and a super proud moment for the family but if we don’t, the consolation will be the focus and hopefully we can take that home.” The last Queensland trained pacer to qualify for an Inter Dominion Grand Final was Avonnova; the triple Queensland Horse of the Year finished an unlucky 4th behind Lennytheshark at Gloucester Park back in 2015. The only Queensland trained Inter Dominion winner is four times champion Blacks A Fake, the greatest pacer of all time! Chris Barsby

Cranbourne hobby trainer Rick Cashman doesn’t have a TAB Inter Dominion runner tomorrow night, but if he wins the metro maiden (Race 1) with his gelding Dansbro, it’ll feel as good as a Group 1. “It’d be a huge thrill for three reasons,” Cashman said. “Firstly it’s at my home track. Secondly the fact that it’s an M0, that’d be an absolute dream. Thirdly, it’s Inter Dominion night and will be in front of a crowd.” Cashman is based at Cranbourne Training Centre, where harness trainers are based on-course with access to state of the art facilities and a knowledgeable training community. “It’s great, everyone there helps each other out,” Cashman said. Re-live Rick Cashman's winning salute from last month  Cashman has trained 15 winners and driven three in his career to date. In the sulky aboard Rosanna Raider, his most recent winner, Cashman gave one of the great salutes as he crossed the finishing line. “If you’re going to do it you have to do it properly,” he said. Cody Winnell Trots Media

NIGHT THREE - CRANBOURNE The heavy three nights of racing could have a vital effect on many of those horses wishing to make the Grand Finals on Saturday week December 15. Whilst a certain number have already earned enough points to make the cut, there are fringe liners who will be desperate to gain entry and MUST perform well on Saturday. PACERS:  HEAT ONE Judging on what has been seen on the first two nights, Spankem (9) looks head and shoulders above his rivals. His run at Ballarat on Tuesday was outstanding when a 2.4 metre third from mid-field to Wrappers Delight. This horse just keeps on improving. Galactic Star (10) was also a great effort when third to Cruz Bromac after going forward from last racing for the bell to park outside the leader Audi Hare entering the straight with a lap to travel, before taking a sit on Cruz Bromac. This tough WA stayer is certainly in the mix. Maximan (5) has been the surprise packet of the series and only needs to finish close up to make the final. He appears to be the leader from the nice gate and should be there at the finish. Joes Star Of Mia (1) will be given every opportunity to place from the pole and is in the mix for trifecta takers. Wrappers Delight (8) was an all the way winner on Tuesday and from his inside second line draw, should receive a sweet passage and is a distinctive place proposition. Magical Marn (5) had every chance to place on Tuesday after a cosy trip, finishing 18.2 metres in arrears of Wrappers Delight and is probably better suited over a shorter trip. HEAT TWO Two of the big guns are likely to fight out the finish of this heat, with ever reliable Tiger Tara (4) going forward to take the lead away from Audi Hare (2) which may have trouble with the journey. San Carlo (11) has had no luck whatsoever with the barrier draws and unfortunately has to contend with the extreme draw on this occasion. Bec Bartley will have no option but to circle the field at some stage and put him in the race. Avoiding bad luck, he looks likely to qualify. Cant Refuse (1) finished his race off well from three back the markers when a 3.7 metre second to Im Pats Delight after getting clear late. He too should receive a cosy passage on the markers and could easily make the final. Other rough place chances to Our Uncle Sam (8) which raced wide in the last lap on Tuesday and Mach Doro (9) who is usually close up in most races he contests. HEAT THREE Likely series favourite  Cruz Bromac (4) looks head and shoulders above his rivals in this heat. A most impressive victor in the two heats run so far, Natalie Rasmussen in all probability will aim for the front and should be able to get it with fast beginners Mattgregor (2) and Franco Nelson (3) inside him certain to take a trail. Im Pats Delight (8) should gain a soft trip along the markers and be running home strongly at the finish, looking the logical quinella chance. Multiple cups winner Im The Boss was a strong third to Im Pats Delight after breezing on Tuesday and may have to do the same here. Cash N Flow has been close up in both runs since a third in the Geelong Cup and shouldn’t be far away at the finish. Polemarker Hickstead can at times fly the gate and should he do so, is in with a rough place chance. TROTTERS: HEAT  ONE Unbeaten Tornado Valley (4) a flyer from the gate looks like leading once again and will take no end of running down. Maori Law (3) had no luck at all on Tuesday after being snookered four back the markers before breaking in the home straight when hampered. He must be forgiven for that outing and from the nice draw looks one of the main place chances. Polmarker Save Our Pennys now trained by veteran Graeme Lang  has performed well in both heats with two seconds and is again in the mix for quinella backers. He should receive the run of the race. Tough Monarch (9) will need luck to go his way after drawing behind a slow beginner, however his form through the series has been very good. Sky Petite (11) has drawn horribly, but this sharp sprinting mare could easily place after coming off a cold sit. Red Hot Tooth (6) was disappointing on Tuesday after a soft passage three back the markers when a 9.2 metre fifth to Tornado Valley. Alderbeck (8) is a rough trifecta hope. HEAT TWO Kiwi Speeding Spur (2) who will be at very short odds gets his chance to atone for a game 2.6 metre third to Tornado Valley on Tuesday after racing exposed following an all of the way victory on opening night. Old timer Kyvalley Blur (5) turned his dismal opening night performance around when a stylish winner at Ballarat, storming down the outside to prevail in a track record 1-55.6. Head strong Illawong Armstrong should receive a cosy trip from the pole, however the distance could tell over the concluding stages. Enrolled (3) battled on strongly when fourth beaten 3.6 metres by Kyvalley Blur after racing exposed. He can easily place here. The same could be said for Rompers Monarch (4), Kingdom Come (7), Big Jack Hammer (8), Fabrication (9) and Monty Python (11).   Harness Racing Australia

CRUZ Bromac will be raging hot favourite to complete a cleansweep of the Inter Dominion heats after drawing superbly for the third night at Cranbourne on Saturday. The All Stars’ runner led throughout on night one, made a midrace move to sit parked and win easily last night and should lead throughout again from gate four at Cranbourne. Another Kiwi, Im Pats Delight, looks the only real danger, but he will need plenty of luck from an inside back row draw (gate eight). Cran Dalgety’s four-year-old has looked terrific with a second on night one and fastest-of-the-night win at Ballarat last night. Cruz Bromac’s stablemate, Spankem, is flying, but faces another tricky draw (gate nine) in his Cranbourne heat. It’s a fascinating heat with the three class runners all drawing the back row. Wrappers Delight (gate eight) and Galactic Star (10) the others. Long-time Grand Final favourite Tiger Tara has finally drawn well in a heat and looks a standout in his Cranbourne heat from gate four. Audi Hare looks the early leader from gate two and would happily trail Tiger Tara, who will relish the draw and the 2555m trip. Major rival San Carlo drew awfully outside the back row (gate 11) and now needs a top four finish to be certain of making the final. In the trotting series, big guns Tornado Valley and Speeding Spur will dominate betting in their final round heats. Speeding Spur, who sat parked and ran a brave third to Tornado Valley at Ballarat last night, drew superbly in gate two over the longer 2555m trip and Cranbourne in a heat lacking depth. He looks set to either lead or work to the front with Kyvalley Blur (gate five) and the emerging, Big Jack Hammer (eight), the others with winning chances. The other Kiwi, Monty Python, drew awfully in gate 11. Tornado Valley should complete a cleansweep of the heats after drawing gate four in the second of Saturday night’s heats. Save Our Pennys, who has finished second to Tornado Valley in both heats so far, has the pole and should trail Tornado Valley again and the only real danger. The other key player in the heat is Maori Law, who ran a slashing second to Speeding Spur on night one then galloped and finished last on night two. Kiwi outsiders Alderbeck (gate eight) and Wilmas Mate (10) will struggle. Adam Hamilton Click here for the third night ID18 fields

KIWI trainers can breath a little easier with Australia’s top trotter Tornado Valley staying home instead of raiding Cup Week in Christchurch. Trainer Andy Gath and owner Norm Jenkin tossed the decision around for two days after Tornado Valley’s stunning Cranbourne win last Saturday night. “In the end, we’ve decided to stay home,” Gath said. “The two major reasons are he’s not a good traveller and it’s a big trip from Melbourne to Sydney by road then fly to Christchurch. And we’ve also got an Inter Dominion and the Great Southern Star still to come in our own backyard. “He travelled a better to Cranbourne (about two hours from Gath’s Long Forest stable last weekend), but it’s a lot bigger ask getting him across Christchurch. “You know me, I love to tackle the best races anywhere when we’ve got the right horse, but this time we’re better staying home and focusing on the Inter Dominion given it’s just around the corner.” Tornado Valley made it 12 wins from just 16 Aussie starts for Gath when he produced a career-best performance in the Group 3 Chris Howe Trotters’ Cup (2555m) at Cranbourne last Saturday night. Best known as a front-of-the-field horse, the gelding showed his versatility by sitting back and coming with a big, sustained run in the last lap to blow away many of Victoria’s best trotters. His speed blitz including a privately-time 26.9sec split from the 800-400m and powered clear to win by 13.5m over talented mare Sky Petite and top class veteran Kyvalley Blur. “We were thrilled with him. He’s come back really well. He had to do plenty of work in the last lap, but he ran away from them in the end. And that’s saying something given how well Kyvalley Blur has been going,” Gath said. Kyvalley Blur ran another solid race for third and his Christchurch raid remains on target. Adam Hamilton

Tiger Tara’s NZ Cup raid is bang on target despite a narrow defeat in last night’s $50,000 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup. The recent Victoria Cup winner did all the work outside the leader – the emerging San Carlo – and went down by a just half a neck in a blazing 54.8sec last half around a notoriously slow track. It was a mighty effort given it was Tiger Tara’s fourth start in as many weeks, including his second round trip from Sydney to Melbourne. And it came the same night he was crowned NSW Horse of the Year. Now it’s full-stream ahead to the NZ Cup. While most eyes were on Tiger Tara, the top prize went to emerging Victoria pacer San Carlo, who has been specifically set for the Inter Dominion by co-trainers Steve O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley. San Carlo won a heat of the Perth Inter Dominion last year and despite being an eight-year-old, has been sparingly raced, essentially because he’s been such a slow maturer. He’s won both runs back from a long spell and 23 of his 35 career runs. Bartley took the reins on San Carlo and showed intent from the start when she pushed forward to take the lead from speedster Audi Hare then steady the tempo, forcing Todd McCarthy to circle the field to sit parked on Tiger Tara. They scorched down the back straight in 27sec flat, but as hard as Tiger Tara tried, San Carlo kept answering and staved him off. Another emerging star, Shadow Sax, charged home from near the rear to finish a close third. It was a fantastic content and showed all three will be major Melbourne Inter Dominion players. ____________________________________________________________________________________ GOOD to hear powerful WA stable “Team Bond” is planning a two-horse raid on the Melbourne Inter Dominion. Greg and Skye Bond have been major players in the past three home state Gloucester Park Inter Dominions and have never been afraid to travel. Stable rep Ryan Warwick said proven open-class player Galactic Star and the emerging Vampiro had been set for Melbourne. Galactic Star, who won a heat of last year’s Inter Dominon and ran fifth to Lazarus in the final, is about to return from a short break. “He’ll be back in a week or so and, given he’s more experienced, he’s probably our main hope for Melbourne,” Warwick said. “Vampiro went through the grades really quickly and now, after a few runs at open-class, he’s settling into it. His last win was terrific.” The only issue for the Team Bond – and any other WA trainers – is the availability of suitable flights back to Perth after the Melbourne series given the December 15. Cargo space is at a premium with so much Christmas “luggage.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ A BRILLIANT Shannon Suvaljko drive helped Tommy Be Good to a big upset win in the feature race at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Suvaljko, renowned for his marker peg genius around the tight track, extricated Tommy Be Good from three pegs in a solidly-run Parliamentarians Cup to finish over the top of them and win as a $29.90 outsider. Heavily-backed favourite King Of Swing was in trouble soon after the start when unable to lead, then dragged back to last behind another horse trapped three-wide. Driver Stuey McDonald made a three-wide charge with a lap to go, but King Of Swing was spent before the home bend and dropped out sharply to run last. The other buzz runner, Mitch Maguire, was stuck in traffic, had no luck at all and charged home when the race was over for sixth spot. ____________________________________________________________________________________ TEAM Tritton’s fantastic strike rate with Kiwi imports continued at Menangle last week. Recent import Bridget Blue Chip looked fantastic winning at third run for the stable in slick time after sitting parked. She ran a 1min51.7sec mile. “She’s got better with each run and went super the other day. Not many can go that time sitting parked,” co-trainer Shane Tritton said. “She’s another one the owners just rang us and asked if they could send her across.” Team Tritton was also prominent at the NSW Horse of the Year awards in Sydney last night. They were the leading metro stable and picked up two of the horse categories: Muscle Factory 2YO colt/gelding of the year and My Rona Gold the Aged pacing mare.   Adam Hamilton

Jayne Davies has held aloft many cups on the trotting track during her hugely successful training career. This weekend, the massive Collingwood fan is hoping her beloved Magpies will do the same on the MCG. The Clyde horsewoman, a long-time Collingwood cheer squad member, said she would be at the ground cheering on the Pies in Saturday’s AFL decider after watching the team’s preliminary final win against Richmond on Friday night. “At half-time we were all just looking at each other – we were in shock, we couldn’t believe what we were doing to them, the reigning premiers, you know,” Davies said. “It was a big thrill, that’s for sure. But (this week) isn’t going to be easy (as West Coast) are a great side, it is going to take a mighty effort.” Davies’ connection to Collingwood is made even stronger by the fact she has trained several horses part-owned by former champion player and present coach Nathan Buckley. She said the pair, who have raced the likes of All I Can Be, Hurricane Jett (named after Buckley’s son Jett) and Stone of Destiny (with captain Scott Pendlebury), connected through an unlikely phone call – which meant Davies took some convincing she was actually talking to him. “One of my owners was playing in a charity game at (Crown) casino, we’re going back 20 years ago or so, and I had always been a Collingwood supporter and he rang me and said ‘I’m sitting next to one of your idols, Nathan Buckley’,” she said. “I said ‘oh yeah’ and he put him on. I thought it was a joke. So Bucks was talking away and I said ‘it’s not really Bucks is it’ and he was saying ‘yes it is’. “He was asking about the horses and said ‘I wouldn’t mind getting a share in one, I will give you a call tomorrow’. “I thought it was one big joke. The next morning he did ring me, we got talking, I realised it was him and I met him. I said I have a little two-year-old here (Hurricane Jett) that I owned and he was rapt to (buy) into him.” Davies said she had been a cheer squad member for “a long time” and often travelled with the group interstate. “I have made a lot of friends; there’s a group of us, we went to Perth and we sit behind old Joffa,” she said. “He is a nice guy who does a lot for charity that people don’t realise. He is very passionate. Bucks calls Eddie ‘Joffa in a suit’.” Regardless of the Grand Final result, Davies will be looking to make the weekend a winning one at Cranbourne trots, where she is racing four horses – Baccarat and Melchoir in the Hyland Harness Colours, British General (Seelite Windows & Doors Pace) and Magical Times (Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup Sat 27 October Pace). She said last start winner Melchoir was her best hope. “He is going really well; I couldn’t believe his odds last start, he was $34 in the paper, as he was always going to be in the trail and so was going to be every chance,” she said. “He won quite easily in the end, so he is probably our best chance.”   Shaun Campbell

The Queensland Derby plan remains in place.   Former New Zealand three-year-old Duplicated kept his unbeaten Australian record intact following a breathtaking victory at Cranbourne in the Woodlands Stud Heat Pace last week (Thursday).   The Dean Braun trained gelding obliterated the all aged track record when rating 1:55.8 for the 2080m event.   He posted sectionals of 30.4, 30.2, 28.2 and 28 seconds. With the winning margin posted officially at 34.5 metres, it could’ve easily been further if driver Nathan Jack chased him along or even pulled the ear plugs.   Duplicated will start this Saturday night at TABCORP Park, Melton in the $10,000 Nicola Pace Final and will again start a clear favourite after landing gate two in the 2240m event.   “That was pretty awesome last week because it wasn’t a good night weather wise and he definitely wasn’t full tilt given his plugs didn’t get popped. He’s got amazing speed and he’s very strong, the trip to Brisbane for the Queensland Derby next month is looking good.” Braun said.   Following three starts for Braun after being purchased from the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in Christchurch, Duplicated is shaping as one of the finds of the season with many features still to come.   The Queensland winter carnival is the obvious target followed by the Australasian Breeders Crown in August.   And given his heightening powers still rising, a trip west at the end of the year for the rich Perth four-year-old features at Gloucester Park is another possibility.   Braun is no stranger to success in Perth with feature race victories including the Gr.1 $125,000 McInerney Classic with Chancellor Cullen (2012) and Chilli Palmer (2013) plus the Gr.1 $125,000 Westral Mares Classic in 2015 with Nike Franco.   “He was purchased with the Queensland Derby as a primary target and things are progressing well, we’ll reassess things after he starts again this weekend.   “I’m happy, Nathan is happy and most importantly, the horse is happy so here’s hoping for a strong winter campaign. There’s no doubt that local star Colt Thirty One is the horse to beat in Brisbane.”   At this stage, Duplicated won’t start again after this weekend before heading north.   Interestingly, Nike Franco and Shartin, both graduates of the Braun stable will clash this weekend at Mohawk in Canada in the $370,000 Rose Are Red.   The mares feature is part of the undercard of the North America Cup program.   Both Nike Franco and Shartin enjoyed tremendous success with Braun and both previously won the Queensland Oaks.   Chris Barsby

Great camaraderie and access to first-class facilities make Cranbourne's trots training centre a terrific place to toil, Mick Hughes told Beyond The Gates. The leading Cranbourne trainer, who spoke to Jason Bonnington for Trots Media's program that takes viewers into trainers' stables, has spent four years at Cranbourne Harness Racing Club's facility and said "things are just building". "It has been really good," Hughes said. "We've got a good group. If you ever get stuck or need a hand or you want to work two or three together there is always a Simone or Terry or Casey or Rick to help out and jump in and drive one for you. If you are home alone, you often think gee I wish I had a couple more here to work with." WATCH: EPISODE FOUR OF BEYOND THE GATES FEATURING MICK HUGHES Hughes said since he arrived at the Cranbourne facility, which sits in the south-west corner of the tri-code racecourse, his stable had increased from 10 horses to 18 and he had benefitted from accessing the club's shared facilities. "They've got the swimming pool, walker and the treadmill, which (Cruisin Around) spends a bit of time on when he's jogging, otherwise you jog him in the cart he doesn't really relax as much. That's where having those things is very handy." Cruisin Around returned on Saturday night and ran a stoic sixth from his back row draw in his Tabcorp Park Melton trot, when he was returning from an almost seven months spell. Hughes spoke fondly of the five-year-old in Beyond The Gates. "Apart from the first week, he was just A1," he said. "As much as he can be a real pain in trying to gear him up ... as soon as you get him in the cart he is just a totally different horse. "Every time you wanted to do some work he just did it with ease. He gave you a really good feel and has gone on with the job." Previous episodes of Beyond The Gates: Episode one: Kari Males Episode two: Brent Lilley Episode three: Steve Cleave Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Due to a major electrical fire at Cranbourne, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today advised Sunday’s trots meeting has been transferred to Tabcorp Park Melton. “Unfortunately the magnitude of the electrical fire at the club means we are not able to run Sunday’s meeting, so we appreciate the co-operation of Tabcorp Park Melton who have agreed to host the meeting in the interests of the industry,” Cranbourne Club CEO Neil Bainbridge said. Click here to view the alterations to race distances due to the transfer Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Australia's harness racing spotlight moves to an historic Cranbourne Cup meeting tomorrow (Friday) night. After the $150,000 Cranbourne Cup for thoroughbreds was postponed because of crazy winds back in Spring, the club opted to reschedule it for a bumper dual-codes Cup meeting this week. So the galloping Cup will share the limelight with the $70,000 Group 1 Cranbourne Gold Cup of harness. It’s a truly exciting smorgasboard for fans of both codes. On the harness front, the Gold Cup has attracted a strong field headed by in-form recent country cup winners Flaming Flutter and My Kiwi Mate. They clash for the third time in as many meetings with Flaming Flutter overpowering My Kiwi Mate in the Terang Cup on February 11 then My Kiwi Marte turning the tables and relegating Flaming Flutter to second spot in the Bendigo Cup six days later. Flaming Flutter has the best of the draws in gate three and is a $2.40 favourite on the Aussie TAB, while My Kiwi Mate is $4.20 from gate 11. The other key player is noted frontrunner Maximan, who upstaged Have Faith In Me at Melton last month. He’s a $4 shot and big threat if he can lead from gate four. The other highlight of the harness card is the Group 1 Knight Pistol where Kiwi trotting mare Sunny Ruby is $2.30 favourite to win again despite drawing the outside (gate seven). Sunny Ruby, in the care of Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt, has thrived during her Aussie campaign which has netted three wins and a third from just four starts along with $98,400 in stakemoney. Another big watch runner at Cranbourne is David Aiken’s two-year-old first starter Higherthananeagle in the Sapling Stakes (race four). The colt is a brother to Fly Like An Eagle (19 wins, $699,419), Mach Doro (14 wins, $146,086) and Three Squared (two wins, $62,045), who looked exciting before having to be put down. Higherthananeagle blazed a 1min56.8sec mile rate, including a 56.2sec half, winning a Shepparton trial by a big space last Thursday. “He’s a real natural and exciting. He went a lot quicker than we planned in the trial, but it doesn’t seemed to have taken anything out of him,” Aiken said. “We’ve got Beltane in the race as well and we think he’ll develop nicely as the season goes on, but Higherthananeagle is the pick of them at the moment. We think he’ll be very hard to beat.” Adam Hamilton

Cranbourne is the 2016 Victorian Country Club of the Year. Announced during the Country Clubs section of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV’s) annual Gordon Rothacker Medal awards last night at Crown Palladium, Cranbourne’s committee was on hand to accept the gong. “We’ve got a marvellous group of volunteers and a fabulous committee to help us run the club and we’ve also got a very professional CEO in Neil Bainbridge,” Cranbourne president Duncan McPherson said. “We’re lucky we benefit with the multi-use of the venue with two other racing codes.” Mr McPherson said working alongside such passionate people was great fun. “These guys are a very good crew. They’re very professional, great fun, super fellowship and for all of us we just really enjoy it,” he said. Cranbourne was awarded the Club of the Year trophy for its efforts to bolster engagement and participation in the region through a strategic direction. The club’s training centre is also stronger than ever, while the club has thrown its weight behind the important area of ownership promotion by making syndication as easy and affordable as possible. Cranbourne also hosted a variety of race nights to introduce new people to the trots, including an 'aging positively' night and a 'girls’ night out'. The club also undertook a brand transformation to become known as Trots Cranbourne. Warragul picked up two awards, Best Country Cup Meeting and Best Local Traditional Media. The Warragul Cup meeting in 2015-16 saw attendance doubled on the season prior, while on-course wagering was also up. The club was praised for its significant pre-promotion of the event and for offering a range of family activities including free children’s rides and live music. Warragul’s efforts to engage with local media were driven by Kyle Galley, whose passion for the trots is unwavering. Galley’s perseverance saw thousands of words celebrating the Warragul trots spread throughout eastern Victoria, including publication in the Warragul and Drouin Gazette, Pakenham Gazette, West Gippsland Trader and Latrobe Valley Express, as well as the Melbourne Observer and Harness Racing Weekly. “I’m very proud to be able to accept this award,” Mr Galley said. “It is still a buzz to open the local paper and see my work after many years.” The Geelong club picked up the Best Local Media Digital award for its performance on social media and its website, promoting its offerings and the industry to Geelong and surrounding communities. Outgoing Mildura boss Mark Kemp picked up the Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year honour for the fourth time. Mr Kemp has overseen the growth of the Mildura Cup carnival, which continues to go from strength to strength each year. The 2016 Mildura Cup saw wagering up 23 per cent and attendance up 27 per cent. Mr Kemp will end his 22-year association with Mildura this December. The trophy for Club of the Year (16 meetings or less) went to Stawell, which, under the guidance of Lisa McIlvride and Peter Sanderson, continues to progress. The club continued to grow its newest race-day event, Australia day, in 2016 and undertook major upgrades to its trackside venue, including the bistro and dining room to help increase revenue on both race-days and non-racing days. “It was a huge year for us at Stawell … I’d like to thank our president and committee, my husband for putting up with me, and all the volunteers,” Ms McIlvride said. “I’d also like to thank all those backing up tomorrow and racing at Stawell.” Horsham took the honours in Secretary of the Year (16 meetings or less) with Jo Cross acknowledged for her tireless and ongoing commitment. The Yarra Valley club captured the award for Best Presented Track/Venue, while Shepparton’s Super Heroes Day Out won Best On-Course Promotion for the season and Kyabram was named Graduation Club & Secretary of the Year. Meanwhile, Mavis Collison was acknowledged for years of voluntary service to the Bendigo club, presented with the AVCHRC Volunteer Service Award.  For over 25 years Mrs Collison has volunteered at Bendigo and is known as the face of the club to many owners, trainers and drivers. Overseeing management of the supper room, Mrs Collison said she was driven by her passion for the industry. "I don’t do it for thanks or anything else, I do it because I love it," she said. “Making people happy to have sandwiches, cake and a cup of tea, that's the main thing." The Collison family is well-known among Bendigo trots with Mavis's husband, Ivan, also a volunteer trial steward. And Mildura's Barry Bottams was awarded the Distiguished Service Medal for a long involvement in the industry across various roles. “This is very exciting and unexpected," Mr Bottams said. "Thanks very much to the selectors." Mr Bottams has been involved hands-on with the horses and also behind the scenes working for the club. He said he enjoyed all roles in the industry. "I think both working horses and flying the flag for club have been a thrill. I get a thrill for winning but also from the club being successful," he said.  COUNTRY CLUB AWARDS 2016 Graduation Club & Secretary of the Year: Kyabram Best On-Course Promotion: Shepparton’s Super Heroes Day Out Best Presented Track/Venue: Yarra Valley Best Local Media Traditional: Warragul Best Local Media Digital: Geelong Secretary of the Year (16 meetings or less): Jo Cross (Horsham) Club of the Year (16 meetings or less): Stawell Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year: Mark Kemp (Mildura) Club of the Year: Cranbourne Best Country Cup Meeting: Warragul Distinguished Service Award: Barry Bottams AVCHRC Volunteer Award: Mavis Collison Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness racing trainer Emma Stewart picked up another feature race trophy tonight at Cranbourne as Yankee Rockstar took out the Group 1 Decron Cranbourne Gold Cup. With Gavin Lang in the sulky, five-year-old Yankee Rockstar (Rocknroll Hanover/Aston Villa) held off a fast-finishing Im Corzin Terror and a bold Messini in a thrilling finish to the 2555m race. From the extreme draw on the back row Yankee Rockstar worked around three-wide mid-race to park outside Messini, who had to work to get around initial leader Im Corzin Terror. Once they found their formation the big three (that trio clear favourites in betting) dictated the race through early splits of 31 and 32.2. It was on down the back though, Gavin Lang aboard Yankee Rockstar declaring it ‘go time’ and setting out after Messini (Chris Alford), while Im Corzin Terror (Nathan Jack) awaited his chance behind them. Im Corzin Terror paced roughly at one stage, which would prove costly as he stormed along the sprint lane making up many lengths in the stretch. Messini led into the lane but Yankee Rockstar steadily wore him down, Im Corzin Terror poking through late to grab second, with Young Modern fourth and not far away. Yankee Rockstar’s win was his 21st from 30 career starts. This season he has won a Stawell Pacing Cup in record time, two races at Melton, finished fourth in the Hunter Cup, third in the Shepparton Cup and now taken out the Cranbourne Cup. After the race the owners of Yankee Rockstar mentioned the Kilmore Pacing Cup (March 19) as a potential next target race. It was another great night for the Stewart stable, finishing with four winners: Goodtime Mike, Presidentialsecret, Yankee Rockstar and Our Little General.  by Cody Winnell

If you have ever thought about owning a racehorse but shied away fearing exorbitant costs, here’s an affordable opportunity to delve into the excitement of harness racing ownership. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) through its Raceapacer ownership program and the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club have introduced an exciting new syndicate to race a well-bred pacer to be trained by up-and-coming trainer Michael Hughes at the acclaimed Cranbourne Training Centre. A 5% share in the syndicate will cost just $425, and you don’t have to take up the 5% on your own, you could elect to split it among friends or colleagues to make it even more affordable. The syndicate will race a beautifully All-American bred filly, by Mister Big out of Out Of Sight. The striking brown filly is a half-sister to five winners, including supremely talented Vista Bella, who won the 2007 Youthful Stakes at Moonee Valley and the 2008 Group 3 Bathurst Gold Bracelet, and placed second in the Group 1 Victoria Oaks in 2008, third in the Group 1 Bathurst Gold Tiara in 2007 and fourth in the 2008 Group 1 New South Wales Oaks. “Thanks everybody for the wishes, this is what horse ownership in the trots is all about, fun with great people #LivingTheDream” tweeted Darren Carroll after one of his horses won at the weekend. Another who owns the moment at the trots is AFL star Josh Jenkins. The Adelaide Crows gun has a share in several horses with trainer Michael Stanley and is a regular at trots meets in Victoria. “It’s great fun owning horses with mates. We have a group text and following the horse’s races keeps us all close,” Jenkins said. “The sport endears itself to me because of the workmanlike nature of the people involved. It is grassroots racing and I love seeing country towns hosting trots meetings.” If you’re interested in finding out more about the new Cranbourne syndicate get along to Decron Cranbourne Cup Night. If you register your interest via details below, you will even get into Cup Night for free! A Q&A with HRV Ownership Manager Tori Glenister and HRV General Manager – Operations Vaughn Lynch will be held on Cranbourne Cup Night. A product disclosure statement will also be available for all. Register your interest in the Cranbourne Raceapacer syndicate and secure a free ticket to Decron Cranbourne Cup Night by phoning 03 5996 1300.  Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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