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TOP Aussie trainer David Aiken has lots of thinking to do. Aiken boasts one of the strongest barns of open-class horses – pacers and trotters – and no doubt Auckland officials would love him at Alexandra Park late this year for the Inter Dominion. But he’s yet to sit down with key owner, Dom Martello, to nut-out plans for key horses Wrappers Delight and Big Jack Hammer. “The first thing was to see how well both horses came back after their spells and those signs are good,” Aiken said. “Wrappers Delight had no luck first-up, then won really well in fantastic time last run. That Inter Dominion series knocked him around last year, in retrospect he just wasn’t quite ready for it. “I left us wondering if he’d come back as well after a break, but I’m pretty confident now he’s as good if not better than ever.” Big Jack Hammer, who has a breakthrough first season in the big league with three Group 1 wins, has shown encouraging form with six runs this campaign netting two wins and two seconds in good company. “I’m realistic with him. He’s a nice trotter, but not a star. Things went right for him last season, but still did a mighty job to go through the grades and win three Group 1’s,” Aiken said. “He’s going to need luck and the right sorts of draws now in these better races. He can’t make his own luck, at least not at this stage.” Wrappers Delight looks the one to beat again despite a back row (gate 10) in the VHRC Classic (2240m) at Melton on Saturday night. “He’s headed to the Kilmore Cup at the end of this month and then the Victoria Cup on October 12,” Aiken said. “That’s as far as we’ve got in planning so far. We’ve got Auckland to consider and those two big races in Perth in January would be in the mix as well. “The main thing is he’s come back in terrific form and we’ve got plenty of options.” Adam Hamilton

One of Victoria's most experienced harness racing drivers David Aiken is the first to confess he's a "fair weather reinsman" these days! "I just don't handle the cold weather all that well," Aiken, based at Avenel, said. But on a chilly, windy day at Cobram this week, when the thermometer topped just 13 degrees, "Aikey's" rare appearance didn't go unnoticed by sharp-eyed followers of the sport. He produced an exciting prospect in former Kiwi pacer Raptors Flight (Bettors Delight USA-Circus Flyer NZ (Falcon Seelster USA) to take out the $7000 Hygain Pace for 52 to 55 rated pacers. To watch the video replay click on this link. "We hadn't taken him to the trials and I just thought I'd take the reins to see if he was happy in his gear and pacing okay under race conditions," Aiken said. Those who saw the run would have given Aiken a unanimous thumbs up as the gelding scorched through the first quarter in 27.7 and followed up with 30.5, 28.9 and 29.2 for an impressive 1.56-3, easily the fastest time posted on the day. Raptors Flight across the line at Cobram "We go up to Cobram a fair bit because it's a good track and it's an easy drive from our stables," he said. The win took Aiken to the top of the Trainer of the Year premiership table at the track. Raptors Flight, owned by New Zealand interests, was sent over to Victoria by champion Kiwi trainer Barry Purdon, the older brother of Mark, and quite possibly his country's most successful trots trainer ever. Aiken said the horse had a low assessment under the new national rating system. "He's assessed an M1 and three or four runs back raced in the Auckland Cup, but coming out here he was only a C2, so he had a huge drop at Cobram. I really like him and he's only going to improve," he said. Exciting prospect Raptors Flight and trainer-driver David Aiken "Over the concluding stages he felt a little lazy, but I'm still learning about him. He had a six-week break in between his last New Zealand run and making his debut for us. "Barry (Purdon) has a high opinion of the horse so I'm very pleased I was lucky enough to get him." Raptors Flight, who incidentally started his career in sensational fashion with four from four, now has six wins and five placings from 35 appearances. He's earnt $82,000 along the way. "I haven't looked at the program to see where we head next, but he's now still only a 56 rating so there will be an ideal race somewhere," Aiken said. The ever-consistent Aiken stable is ticking along nicely with 85 wins and 121 placings for the current season. "We won some nice ones early, then had a bit of a slow patch, but things are picking up again," he said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former Kiwi pacer Shelby Bromac turned around a disappointing heat run to win the $75,000 Tasmania Cup harness racing final in Hobart on Saturday night. Now trained in Victoria by David Aiken, Shelby Bromac was confidently driven by junior reinswoman Kima Frenning to land a decisive victory over War Dan and Star Chamber. The two favourites, Sicario and Scooterwillrev, both missed the start and took virtually no part in the race while co-backmarker Harjeet faded after a torrid run. Shelby Bromac had been unbeaten in Australia until he missed a place in his Tasmania Cup heat in a performance that Frenning said left connections "scratching our heads." "We made a few gear changes and, because he didn't pace great last week, I drove him aggressively tonight to find the fence," she said. Frenning went forward three wide early to find the death and rolled to the lead with 1-1/2 laps to go. Shelby Bromac looked to control the race from then on but War Dan closed strongly late to get within 1.7m on the line, with Star Chamber 6m further back after another gallant run. ............................................................. VICTORIAN favourite Enchanted Stride sat in the death to win the $30,000 Tasmanian Oaks - but only just. The David Miles-trained and driven filly took until the last stride to run down local Spoilt Sport whose driver Alex Ashwood tried to pinch the race coming off the back straight. "The second horse went super but my filly was great because the race wasn't run to suit her style," Miles said. "It's not her go not to have a helmet in front of her." ...................................................... OATLANDS trainer-driver Matthew Cooper was overjoyed after his class mare Call Her Julie outstayed her rivals in the $20,000 George Johnson. "This is my biggest thrill in harness racing," said Cooper who also owns the seven-year-old. Call Her Julie settled near the rear but sustained a strong three wide run over the last lap to score by 4m. .................................................... DEVONPORT-owned Max Delight gave trainer David Aiken a feature double when he made a one-act affair of the $30,000 Tasmanian Derby as $1.04 favourite. By Greg Mansfield Reprinted with permission of The Examiner  

If anyone needed more convincing to chase their dreams at tomorrow’s Australian Premier Trotting Sale they could get no better advert than in the headliner at Tabcorp Park’s all-trotting card. The ultimate opportunist, Big Jack Hammer, again showed his winning flair to capture a third straight Group 1 and become the sale’s greatest earner, with the $57,000 prize from tonight’s Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix boosting his stakes won to almost $265,000. “Always been a nice horse,” said trainer David Aiken. “(Previous trainer) Geoffrey (Webster) won a Group 1 with him as a three-year-old. Geoff looked after him and I’m sort of reaping the benefits of that, he just seems to be getting better. He’s a nice horse, he’s good gaited and he’s an opportunist.” He showed that again in tonight’s open trot which had its share of ebbs and flows, with many of the perceived favourites inconvenienced, making mistakes or short of their best. Dance Craze galloped early to seemingly put paid to her hopes as Tough Monarch found the front and was joined with a lap remaining by Tornado Valley in search of a 10th straight win. But this wouldn’t be Andy and Kate Gath’s all-conquering trotter’s day and his challenge faded at the final turn as Dance Craze re-emerged three-wide to run down Tough Monarch, looking for all the world a brilliant winner until Big Jack Hammer delivered his final kick. A now trademark withering final burst would secure the third consecutive Group 1, rewarding devotees with a $25.60 starting price with the TAB.com.au. It brought a smile to the face of Josh Aiken, with the reinsman saluting in a welcome return to the family’s silks.   “It’s fantastic, it’s always good to come back to Melbourne,” Josh said. “I was just enjoying the night and to win is really special. “Credit to Dad (David Aiken), Marika (Eriksson) and the team at home, I got here half-an-hour ago and they have been doing the work for the last few months. It’s a credit to them, his last three starts have been unbelievable. “Once I was following Dance Craze down the back I thought if I can follow Jason (Lee) to the home straight I’m at least going to earn some money. Credit to the horse, he was in a position to win and he finished off. He had his chance and he took it.” Josh has returned from a European sabbatical, having left Australia’s shores after out-driving his junior concession claim before returning to drive in Sydney for Shane and Lauren Tritton. “Back in Melbourne now and I’m just going to try and do some driving for Dad on a few of the ones that we own ourselves and see what happens from there,” he told TrotsVision. For details on tomorrow's Australasian Premier Trotting sale head to www.austrottingsale.com.au   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Can Tornado Valley go back to back in the Grand Prix? The Gr.1 $100,000 Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix takes place this weekend at TABCORP Park, Melton and the reigning Inter Dominion champion is the horse to beat despite a second-line draw in the 2240m mobile start feature. It’s the 4th leg of the six race 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series. And the race to be crowned the Trotting Masters champion is very much alive; Marcoola (101 points) leads from Tornado Valley, Dance Craze and Sky Petite (all with 100 points). Both Tornado Valley and Dance Craze start this weekend in the Grand Prix. The Andy and Kate Gath prepared Tornado Valley is unbeaten in nine starts this season while boasting an overall record of 19 wins from 23 starts since crossing the ditch last year and joining their Long Forest stables. His haul of feature race victories is as impressive as his current win streak which includes a clean sweep of the Inter Dominion series back in December. Interestingly, his first victory on Australian soil came via this event last year, the Skyvalley gelding proved too slick for Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in solid time which announced his arrival as a major force in the trotting ranks. Following his triumph in the Grand Prix last season, Tornado Valley would win another six races in succession before tasting defeat again. At his most recent start two weeks ago, Tornado Valley scored a tradesman like victory in the Knight Pistol which followed a setback and ultimately ruled him out of the recent Great Southern Star. The last trotter to go back to back in the Grand Prix was the great New Zealander Stent (2014/15) while champion trotter Sundons Gift holds the record with four consecutive victories in the event (2007/08/09 & 10). Tornado Valley starts from gate 11. The Gath stable is also represented by another former Kiwi performer in McLovin, unbeaten in three local starts against easier opposition. While rising in grade he must also overcome a nasty front-line draw, he starts from the outside in gate 7 with young Zac Phillips booked to take the drive. Great Southern Star winner Dance Craze will carry plenty of support, the last start Bendigo winner is prepared by Anton Golino and will again be handled by Glen Craven. Dance Craze, a daughter of inaugural winner La Coocaracha (2001) is looking to become the fourth mare to win the Grand Prix following on from Allegro Agitato (2005) and Sumthingaboutmaori (2003). The regally bred mare is the only representative of the fairer sex this year and will start from gate 5. Last start Gr.1 $50,000 Menangle Mile winner Big Jack Hammer is chasing his third straight feature race success following his victories in the Dullard Cup and Menangle Mile last weekend. Prepared by David Aiken, the in-form trotter will be handled by Josh Aiken. Big Jack Hammer starts from gate 10. Sydney trained trotters Blazing Under Fire (Blake Fitzpatrick/Jack Trainor) and Tough Monarch (Rickie Alchin/Chris Svanosio) are chasing feature race success and both land handy front-line draws. Blazing Under Fire will start from gate 4 while Tough Monarch starts from gate 6. Both trotters come out of last week’s Menangle Mile where they chased home Big Jack Hammer. The last Sydney trained winner of the Grand Prix was On Thunder Road two years ago (2017). Leading trainer Brent Lilley is no stranger to success in the Grand Prix after scoring with Keystone Del in race record time (1:56.0) back in 2016. This year, the former Kiwi horseman is represented by both Monty Python (Greg Sugars) and Rock Tonight (Brad Chisholm). Sugars scored back in 2013 with Vulcan while Chisholm is taking his maiden drive in the feature. Monty Python will start from gate 3 while Rock Tonight starts from gate 12. In-form locally trained trotters Savannah Jay Jay (Stan Cameron/Neil McCallum), Kheiron (Peter Lane/Chris Alford), Fabrication (David Abrahams/Jason Lee) and Deltasun (Terry Young/Gavin Lang) all boast winning claims. And the quartet all land good draws; Savannah Jay Jay (gate 1), Kheiron (gate 2), Fabrication (gate 8) and Deltasun (gate 9). Gavin Lang is chasing his second victory in the Grand Prix after partnering Sumthingaboutmaori (2003) while McCallum, Alford and Lee are all chasing their maiden success. 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 during April/May.   Chris Barsby

A LIGHTNING mile left several favourites gasping for breath as 50-1 outsider Max Delight scored a shock win in tonight's APG-sponsored NSW Derby at Menangle. Starting at $71, Max Delight came out hard early before settling three back on the pegs as favoured runners Centenario ($2.50 favourite) and Victorian Derby winner Muscle Factory ($3.10) along with surprise early leader Lochinvar Art tussle for the early lead. It was another master stroke by Menangle's leading reinsman Todd McCarthy to sit and wait before springing into action as the field wheeled in the home straight. Surprisingly Centenario (Chris Alford) was among the first beaten and Muscle Factory followed soon afterwards as the record-breaking speed began to take its toll. The David Aiken trained Max Delight surged to the front in the home straight while stablemate Malcolms Rhythm (Luke McCarthy) found a gap up on the pegs and grabbed second place, 1.4m behind the winner, who rated 1:51.5 to take an incredible 1.2s of Smolda and Demon Delight's previous record for the journey. Lochinvar Art (Luke McCarthy) finished third. Aiken was naturally ecstatic after the win, his second group one of the night. "Derbys are the hardest races to win and I have been trying to win this race for a long time, so this is particularly satisfying," said Aiken. Reinsman Todd McCarthy, gunning for the Miracle Mile later in the night with Tiger Tara, was also over the moon with his success. "I have to thank David for the support he has shown me and I am just glad I was able to reward them with this win," he said. While Aiken landed the quinella in the big race, the McCarthy brothers, Todd and Luke also finished first and third in the $200,000 feature. Max Delight was certainly bred to be good, besides being by champion sire Bettors Delight, he is out of a former NSW Oaks winner in Lady Euthenia, who won the fillies' classic in 2010. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au    

CHAMPION trainer David Aiken might not have had a runner in this year's Miracle Mile, but that didn't stop the former premier NSW trainer from making an impact. Aiken took out the first of the big Group Ones at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight with promising trotter Big Jack Hammer. Now based in Victoria, but operating a satellite stable from Menangle, Big Jack Hammer came with a withering burst to score a neck win over second favourite Tough Monarch ($3.70) with War Dan Destroyer ($3.40 favourite) a further one metre back in third place in the Aquagait Trotters Mile. Ace reinsman Anthony Butt, filling in for Kima Frenning, had Big Jack Hammer perfectly poised one-out and one-back during the run before making his move well into the straight. While Tough Monarch's trainer-driver Rickie Alchin was nervously looking left and right for dangers from back in the field as he moved up to challenge turning for home, Alchin just knew there would be something coming from behind and no sooner had he found the front than Big Jack Hammer gathered him in and went on to score a comfortable victory in a 1:54.7 mile rate. Butt later explained: "We were off the bit and chasing at about the 800m mark but once I got the chance to get him in behind Rickie [Alchin, Tough Monarch] he picked up the bit again and I knew I had them covered." Earlier in the evening All Stars team co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen set the ball rolling for a big night for the stable when she scored an all-the-way win on four-year-old stallion The Bus. Trained by fellow New Zealand trainer Mark Jones, The Bus ($3.60) found the lead quickly from gate four and Rasmussen was able to dictate terms to suit herself with a 56s first half of the mile (splits of 28.7 and 27.3). The champion former Queensland reinswoman was then able to up the ante in the second half with quarters of 28.1s before running home in a slick 26.9s for a 1.7m win over The Wrangler (Kima Frenning) with Redbank Addi (Kate Gath) a further 1.2m back. The winner rated 1.51 and with three wins from his last four, the son of Art Major looks destined for better things. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au

A perfectly timed swoop delivered Team Teal its first Victorian Group 1 when Kima Frenning guided Big Jack Hammer to the Hygain V L Dullard Cup. A plan paid off perfectly for trainer David Aiken, Frenning and owner Domenic Martello with the popular victory reward for an outstanding campaign by the six-year-old gelding.  “It’s crazy,” Frenning said. “He’s been racing so well during the Inter Dominion campaign, I think his best runs have definitely been off the speed and he proved that tonight. He’s a super quick horse and really consistent.” Frenning was able to implement plan A, ceding the lead to Gavin Lang and Save Our Pennys and then biding her time while others boxed on. Outside the leader Temporale and then Red Hot Tooth punched the breeze, but come the final straight none could muster the speed of Big Jack Hammer, who emerged down the sprint lane to score by 1.8m. “Now that he’s up in class a bit he’s probably best driven off the speed,” Frenning said. “He’s a super consistent horse, Aiks has done a really good job with him, Domenic’s given me so many opportunities. This is crazy.”   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Owner Matt McLellan has just one wish for 2019. He wants to return for the Brisbane winter Carnival in July at Albion Park. Naturally, he wants to be part of the action again with his millionaire pacer Hectorjayjay. His memories are so joyous and so vivid, he’s often reliving the glory days when his brilliant pacer took the state’s biggest events. Back in 2016, Hectorjayjay produced one of the greatest performances of all time when he came from a near impossible position to win the Sunshine Sprint before going down as favourite a week later in the Blacks A Fake on a rain sodden track. He returned the following year and won both features, sublime efforts of both occasions. “There’s no doubt Brisbane holds a lot of special memories for me and the guys that race Hector, we’ve been lucky enough to win so many good races but his Brisbane efforts just stand out for me. It’s a great track nestled amongst a fascinating backdrop and the people are so great up there, I really look forward to getting there as much as possible.” McLellan said. As fate would have it, things have turned sour with Hectorjayjay developing some major injury setbacks which ultimately cost him a chance of returning to Brisbane last year. After enjoying so much success with star trainer David Aiken, he was transferred to Gavin Lang where he left with a perfect record after winning his only start for the master horseman when triumphant in the Popular Alm Sprint at Kilmore last June before going amiss again. Nowadays, Hectorjayjay is based with Ecklin South horseman Mattie Craven who makes full use of the nearby Warnambool beaches. And the signs of improvement are looking better each and every day. “His latest scan, which occurred days prior to Christmas, was really encouraging and it’s given us a lot of confidence moving forward with him. “We can now increase his workload but we’re not going to overdo it with him, rather than pushing him for a race like the Miracle Mile, I’d rather wait and be ready for Brisbane and make sure he’s proper ready. “If we can return to Brisbane and win those two big races again, that would just be absolutely amazing, a dream come true for me personally and hopefully we can get that opportunity.” The Brisbane winter carnival takes place at Albion Park throughout the month of July and the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship is the final leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit. Racing Queensland has recently announced some cash bonuses for horses aiming at the staying feature. Last year, Mattie Craven enjoyed tremendous results throughout the carnival after claiming both the Queensland Derby (Master Moonlite) and Queensland Trotters Cup (Our Dreamlover). Chris Barsby

AUSTRALIAN Pacing Gold purchase Malcolms Rhythm will have to beat older more experienced rivals to maintain his perfect start to the season. Set to contest a C2 in Kilmore, the son of Art Major purchase is chasing his sixth win of the term. Trainer David Aiken is using the 2180-metre event as “tune up” for next week’s Victoria Derby heats. Qualifiers of Australia’s oldest classic will be conducted as part of the strong Ballarat Pacing Cup program. To be driven by Kima Frenning, Malcolms Rhythm will begin from gate five in the six-horse field. “This should be a nice tune up for next week’s Derby heats,” Aiken said. “He is ticking along nicely and will be hard to beat despite the draw. “It will be nice if he can keep his winning run going before we head to Ballarat. “Hopefully he will do well in the Derby series, but it is hard to know where he sits among the three-year-olds at this stage.” Citing Blackenreid as the one to beat, Aiken also rates Imapest as a threat. Successful at two of his last three starts, Blackenreid has drawn gate six, with Imapest to come from four. “Blackenreid will definitely be the hardest to beat for Cotchy (trainer Keith Cotchin),” Aiken said. “Imapest is also in good form and can’t be taken lightly.”   APG Media

TWO of the major Inter Dominion players – trotter Tornado Valley and pacer Shadow Sax - had easy warm-up wins at Melton last Friday night. The first was Inter Dominion trotting favourite Tornado Valley, who effortlessly made it 13 wins from his past 15 starts. He’s the $3 favourite on the Aussie TAB for the trotting final from Kiwi star Speeding Spur at $3.80. Kate Gath took Tornado Valley straight to the front from gate three, cruised through a 62sec middle half and really just sprinted a 28.2sec to win hard-held by four metres in the Group 3 Lenin Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m). The fact Kyvalley Blur performed so well in his two NZ Cup Week runs last week speaks volumes for Tornado Valley’s form given he’s been easily beating that horse in Victoria of late. Shadow Sax and San Carlo clashed in the Group 3 Popular Alm free-for-all (2240m), but it proved a fizzer. Shadow Sax cruised to the lead, while San Carlo was three pegs and that was the race. Driver Chris Alford dictated terms in front and ripped home in 54.7 and 26.9sec to win easily on Shadow Sax, while San Carlo only saw daylight late and charged home for second. The Emma Stewart-trained Shadow Sax has won his past two on end from good draws and boasts 23 wins from just 37 career wins. _________________________________________________________________________________________ TOP WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond will make a final decision this week on a Melbourne Inter Dominion raid. The Bonds have set last year’s finalists Galactic Star and the emerging Vampiro for the series, but have travel concerns. “If they stick with this requirement to be in Melbourne five days before the first round of heats, then we won’t go,” Greg Bond said. Galactic Star, who finished fifth to Lazarus in last year’s final, has returned with wins at his two starts after a let-up. The latest win came in strong style at Gloucester Park last Friday night where Ryan Warwick gave him a lovely one-one trail and he scored by 3.4m in a 1min54.2sec mile rate for 1730m. It was part of a big night for Team Bond, who also won the $50,000 4YO Championship with the exciting former Kiwi, Mighty Conqueror. The son of American Ideal won three of his four NZ runs before heading to Team Bond where’s easily won all four starts. But it was last Friday’s win which stamped him as a major Golden Nugget player. Mighty Conqueror won a blazing 200m sprint for the lead at the start then copped plenty of midrace heat from Golden State – who finished a distant last – and still held-off the classy Bechors Brook to win easily by 7.7m. His 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2130m was just 1.0sec outside Beaudiene Boaz’s track record. “We thought he could make a Nugget horse and he keeps stepping-up,” Bond said. Team Bond already has a major Nugget hopeful in buzz Kiwi import Ana Malak, who makes his debut for the stable at Pinjarra tomorrow (Monday). Another winner of note last Friday night’s Gloucester Park meeting was former star Kiwi filly Our Angel Of Harlem, who overcame a wide draw to score easily for father/son Mike and Mark Reed. It will be interesting to see if they throw the now fiur-year-old mare in against the “boys” in the Nugget. _________________________________________________________________________________________ LET It Ride looks right on target for the Inter Dominion despite being beaten at Menangle last night. Anthony Butt drove the Group 1 Blacks A Fake winner more aggressively from the outside draw at his third run from a spell and Let It Ride ran a mighty race in slick time. He did all the work outside the leader and was in front until the emerging Ellmers Image nabbed him in the last 50m. They went a 1min49.9sec mile. Ellmers Image’s win gives Amanda Turnbull two good Inter Dominion heat drives, the other being Joes Star Of Mia, trained by her father Steve. The other feature race at Menangle, the Group 3 Sue Kelly Stakes for mares’, went to the flying Village Witch in a 1min50.9sec mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ THE rise and rise of young Swede Kima Frenning continues to build momentum. Frenning has enjoyed a stellar 2018 through her relationship with open-class pacing stars Wrappers Delight and Im The Boss. And Wrappers Delight gives her a serious chance of winning the Inter Dominion final. Frenning scored another career first when former classy Kiwi pacer Buster Brady won easily at Cranbourne last night. It was Frenning’s first win as a trainer in her own right. _________________________________________________________________________________________ DAVID Aiken thinks his recent stable addition Big Jack Hammer won’t be out of his depth in the Inter Dominion trotting series. The six-year-old, raced in the same interests as Aiken’s leading Inter Dominion pacing hope Wrappers Delight, looked sharp winning at Melton last Friday night. It was just his second run for Aiken. Big Jack Hammer was backed for plenty on debut for Aiken in the Yarra Valley Trotters’ Cup, but made a mess of the start and caught the eye making up loads of ground afterwards. His manners were much better from the mobile start last Friday, pushing forward from gate five to find the front and never looking in danger. The eye-catching run came from runner-up Aleppo Murphy, who galloped at the start, lost at least 30-40m, but flew home to get within 3.3m of the winner. The flop was Inter Dominion hopeful Magicool, who went into the race with nine wins and two seconds from 11 starts, but weakened after sitting parked to finish almost 30m away in seventh spot.   Adam Hamilton

HAVING enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 season, Australian Pacing Gold purchases are ready for the new round of majors. Lead by Shez All Rock, APG stars captured an incredible 21 Group Ones last term. Making her debut at the beginning of the season, Shez All Rock became the southern hemisphere’s premier three-year-old filly by annexing four Group Ones. An $11,000 Melbourne buy, Shez All Rock boasts an impeccable record of 10 wins and a second from 11 starts for earnings of $426,350. Along with the top shelf wins, APG graduates secured 17 Group Twos. With the first pair of Group Twos of 2018/19 scheduled to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, APG stock are again among the contenders. Successful in their heats, Malcolms Rhythm and Zoliver will be joined in the colts’ and geldings’ division of the Home Grown Classic by Catch A Moment and Explicit Castle, Malcolms Rhythm is the $2 favourite for trainer David Aiken from barrier four. In the fillies’ Final APG buys Divine Diva, Posh Accent, Siedra Caleb, Tiger Storm and Tina Calls will battle for bragging rights. Winner of her heat, Tiger Storm is the leading candidate of the quintet despite drawing the second row.   APG Media

The intrigue ahead of the three-year-old IRT Breeders Crown Grand Final was akin to the goings on in Canberra this week, but there can only be one winner in any power struggle. And tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton rising superstar Ride High produced a lethal mix of ridiculous speed, ironclad strength and versatility to blow away his rivals in the race touted by many in the lead-up as “the best Crown contest in years”. “He’s done it with ease,” beamed winning reinsman Mark Pitt (pictured winning tonight on Hurricane Harley) aboard the Emma Stewart-trained colt affectionately known by stable name ‘Chainsaw’ and a son of megastar Alabar stallion Art Major. “He’s only lightly raced and every time he goes out there he just keeps getting better and better.” If a good drive is “a peach” then Pitt produced punnets – making a lighting move seven furlongs out to arrest control from Queenslander Grant Dixon aboard polemarker Colt Thirty One. Once Dixon relented, and Poster Boy and Ignatius – two of the race’s big guns – lagged back and didn’t pour on the mustard, Pitt was riding high. “I was a little bit surprised there weren’t a lot of challenges but the tempo was very genuine and I suppose it made it hard for the backmarkers,” Pitt said. Ride High notched a mile rate of 1:55.2. Colt Thirty One held on for second, with Poster Boy third. Earlier, another Art Major young star Our Princess Tiffany made it nine wins from nine career starts for New Zealand champion trainer Mark Purdon. Our Princess Tiffany twinkled under the Melton lights, parking outside boom filly Kualoa and finding gears at the finish when the others had simply nothing in reserve to take the Always B Miki at Alabar two-year-old fillies’ final. “She was very courageous and full credit to her. She took quite a bit out of herself over-racing, which surprised me a bit. Down the back I just let her roll so we got down the back pretty good. We were off the bit at the quarter, but it just survival of the fittest,” Purdon said. Our Princess Tiffany went 1:55.3, with Kualoa a brave second and Enchanted Stride third. Wrappers Delight continued marching towards an Inter Dominion 2018 campaign, blowing away a strong line-up in the Hygain four-year-old Crown final. Driven by Kima Frenning – the former Swedish monte rider who now boasts a huge Australian fan base – Wrappers Delight dominated to score by almost 10m. “I just have got absolutely no words,” Frenning said. “I’m just shaking my head. I’m so grateful that I get to drive him and Aiks (trainer David Aiken) has done an amazing job with this horse to get him where he is today. It’s been such a cool ride to be on.” To kick off the night – in glorious winter sunshine – Kiwi Stress Factor remained unbeaten on Australian soil with victory in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown for in-form trainer Brent Lilley and champion driver Chris Alford. Stress Factor dictated in front to beat Anywhere Hugo and Kyvalley Finn in 2:00.4. Alford went back-to-back in the second race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies’ Final, courtesy of Sleepee – trained and owned by wife Alison. “Colin was kind enough to give us the opportunity to lease (Sleepee) and mum jumped in and took a share with me. It’s a little surreal, I never thought I’d own one, I always wanted to own one, and I said to Chris on Thursday I’m starting to get a bit nervous. He said I could have told you that on Monday.” Our Show Gait captured the three-year-old trotting fillies’ final for NZ trainer Regan Todd and Purdon, rating 2:01.2 to defeat Moonshine Linda. The two-year-old pacing final lived up to the hype, with Emma Stewart training the quinella as Hurricane Harley finished like a whirlwind to defeat Centenario to deliver driver Pitt the crown. “… He really dug deep and deserved to win,” Stewart said of the performance. Speak No Evil extended her winning streak to six in the Woodlands three-year-old fillies’ final – another win for Stewart/Alford – holding off Angel Of Arts in second and My Harmony Blue in third. “She’s had an amazing season really, winning this and winning Vicbred and an unlucky second in the Oaks as well,” Alford told Trots Vision. “You can’t ask much more.” Kyvalley Clichy secured Alford his fourth crown for the evening but in controversial circumstances, having to withstand a protest from runner-up Kate Gath aboard Dream Mastar after the winner broke stride in the run to the post. “I’m extremely happy. This is a race I’ve been very fortunate in over the last 18 years. I’m just very lucky and hope the luck continues,” said winning owner Jim Connelly. Dean Braun-trained Carlas Pixel showed she had classes on her rivals in the Nevele R Stud Breeders Crown four-year-old mares’ final, thoroughly dominating. Driven by Pitt – who won three crowns tonight – Carlas Pixel had to work to find the front early but had plenty left at the finish to score by almost 7m over runner-up Cherry Stride in 1:54.2. “She’s a fantastic mare. Every time we have taken her out she’s just got better and better,” Braun told Trots Vision. “She’s just got an amazing constitution, she never really gets sick. She’s just one of those horses; she’s a pleasure to train and the owners are really, really good people. She’s a star. She’s got a motor as big as herself.” Cody Winnell

The hopples will come off Lennytheshark for the last time Saturday night in a final on-track farewell to the two-time Victorian Horse of the Year, who is bound for stud duties at Empire Stallions. The champion son of Four Starzzz Shark will parade before race three at Tabcorp Park Melton on Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series pacing finals night. It will be a fitting send-off for Lennytheshark, who placed in the Vicbred Super Series as a two and three-year-old and won as a four-year-old. The latter triumph was the second of his seven career Group 1s, which would also include the 2016 Inter Dominion, 2017 Miracle Mile and 2016 and 2017 Victoria Cups. Co-owner Martin Riseley said “he would have loved him to keep racing, but the time was right” for a stud career. “He didn’t have to prove anything more to us and now I’m looking forward to little Lennys running around,” Mr Riseley said. “If he can leave some quality little progeny that will be great and I look forward to seeing them on the track.” Having won 39 of his 82 starts, Lennytheshark was only the sixth Australasian pacer to top $3 million in earnings and won a lot of hearts along the way for his will to win and unique racing style. Fans have been invited to soak up his final trot up the Tabcorp Park Melton straight on Saturday night, which will precede a presentation. “It will be an enormous time, because he’s been such a good horse to so many people and it will be great to see him farewelled like that,” Riseley said. “He raced through age racing as a two, three and four-year-old before reaching the pinnacle and there will be a lot of horses there Saturday night who will be hoping to emulate him.” Riseley said Lennytheshark had already attracted significant interest from breeders. “The initial inquiries have been really good and (Empire Stallions principal) David James is excited about having the horse there,” he said. “He looks like he might have a good opportunity to prove himself.” He said Lennytheshark had long been linked to Empire, which stands Lennytheshark’s sire and leased part of Riseley’s farm when Mr James and Donna Egan established the stud in Australia. “It is also nice to have him not too far from home (Shepparton), and for (trainer) David (Aiken) to be nearby as well and able to visit Lenny.” Mr James said Empire was “very excited to be standing Lennytheshark this season”. “We have followed his career with great enthusiasm and cheered him on every step of the way. His credentials are second to none and we believe that he will have wide appeal to breeders.” CLICK HERE FOR EMPIRE STALLIONS ANNOUNCEMENT   Michael Howard

ON Monday 30 April 2018, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards commenced an Inquiry into reports received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that O-desmethylvenlafaxine had been detected in the post-race urine samples taken from the following horses: MAORISFAVOURITESUN following its win in Race 7 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday 7 October 2017; MAORISFAVOURITESUN following its win in Race 9 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday 11 November 2017; CHARLIE MACHSHEEN following its win in Race 8 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday 14 November 2017 The ‘B’ samples were confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. O-desmethylvenlafaxine was not detected in the control samples. Mr Aiken appeared at the Inquiry and presented evidence in relation to his registered training establishment. Mrs Colleen Aiken, a licensed stablehand, was also present and provided evidence as a representative of Mr Aiken’s stable and as an owner of the horse MAORISFAVOURITESUN. In addition, licensed stablehand Mr Malcolm Locke was present and provided evidence to the Inquiry. A number of documents were entered into evidence at the Inquiry including the Certificates of Analysis in relation to each of the post-race urine samples and a number of exhibits obtained by HRNSW Stewards, including the analytical results for recycled water samples obtained from the paddock utilised by Mr Aiken within the Menangle Park Training Centre. HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian, Dr Martin Wainscott, was also present and provided evidence to the Inquiry that the presence of O-desmethylvenlafaxine detected in the urine samples had resulted from contamination within the stable environment. HRNSW Stewards issued three (3) charges against Mr Aiken and Mr Locke pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 190 (1), (2), (3) & (4) as follows: AHRR 190.  (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (3)  If a person is left in charge of a horse and the horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1), the trainer of the horse and the person left in charge is each guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. Mr Aiken and Mr Locke were each found guilty of those charges and provided submissions in relation to the matter of penalty. The Inquiry was adjourned for Stewards to determine the matter of penalty. On 21 May 2018, Mr Aiken was informed by written decision that HRNSW Stewards had imposed a period of disqualification of four (4) months for each offence. The circumstances of this matter including evidence of Dr Wainscott in relation to contamination; Class 2 Prohibited Substance; Mr Aiken’s licence history, offence record, training record during a 42-year involvement in the harness racing industry; Mr Aiken’s personal subjective facts; Mr Aiken’s prior prohibited substance offence in 2000; Mr Aiken’s not guilty plea. On that date, Mr Locke was also informed by written decision that HRNSW Stewards had imposed a period of disqualification of six (6) months for each offence. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; The circumstances of this matter including evidence of Dr Wainscott in relation to contamination; Class 2 Prohibited Substance; Mr Locke’s licence history and offence record; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Locke’s personal subjective facts; Mr Locke’s not guilty plea. Due to the fact that Mr Aiken and Mr Locke were informed of the first sample irregularity following the date of the second sample having been obtained and on the same day that the third sample was obtained, Stewards ordered that the three (3) periods of disqualification be served concurrently. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, MAORISFAVOURITESUN and CHARLIE MACHSHEEN were disqualified from the abovementioned races. Mr Aiken and Mr Locke have lodged appeals against these decisions. Mr Aiken has been granted a Stay of Proceedings by the NSW Racing Appeals Tribunal.   MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

A shock first-up defeat has only fuelled Chris Alford’s desire to not only tackle the Harness Jewels, but win it with his superstar young trotter Wobelee. Wobelee’s 12-race winning streak came to an end when he found the lead early, but could not hold-off the winning sprint lane burst of former Kiwi trotter Scallywag Sam at Kilmore last Friday night. It wasn’t the lead-up fans expected going to Sydney for Saturday night’s $40,000 Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Derby at Menangle. “We’re confident he’ll be right this week. We’d been a bit behind with him going into Kilmore and he needed the run. It’ll bring him along nicely for Menangle,” Alford said. Wobelee is the Aussie TAB’s $1.80 favourite from gate six against a field lacking any real star power at Menangle. “There’s a group of locals, who don’t usually measure up, and Wobelee has had the measure of the other Victorians headed by One Muscle Hill,” Alford said. Speculation emerged after Wobelee’s first-up defeat that the Jewels trip could be in jeopardy, but Alford quickly dismissed it. “Nothing has changed. He’s going across. We’ve got everything in place,” Alford said. “He’s got the race in Sydney this week, comes home and then the plan goes to Auckland the Thursday before the Jewels.” Alford’s commitment with Wobelee at Menangle means he will again miss driving one of his favourites, champion old-timer Lennytheshark, at Cranbourne on Saturday night. Lennytheshark returned from a break with an epic second after doing all the work behind much-improved stablemate Im The Boss in the Shepparton Cup on April 28. David Aiken drove him at Shepparton and is expected to take the reins again from gate seven against a moderate bunch at Cranbourne. The race is sure to help shape Aiken’s mind around a possible Sydney trip for next month’s Len Smith Mile and even a Queensland Winter Carnival raid. Adam Hamilton

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