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By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trotting master Phil Williamson has had to pack enough gear for only two horses despite having three chances at the Auckland Interdominions. Williamson headed north earlier this week with New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All fourth-placegetter Majestic Man and Dominion third-placegetter Monty Python. The group race performers will arrive today at Tony Herlihy's Papakura stable, where they will be based alongside the Williamson-owned Kenny's Dream. Kenny's Dream, who moved north to Herlihy's stable from Williamson's barn over winter, is also a confirmed starter in the Interdominions. Majestic Man and Monty Python both headed north feeling refreshed after recovering well after starting on both days of the New Zealand Cup carnival. Majestic Man went a big race for fourth in Tough Monarch's free-for-all, before battling into seventh in the Dominion behind Habibi Inta. The 5yr-old did a power of mid-race work before fighting hard to just miss a top-three spot in the first of his group 1 assignments. Williamson said he thought the effort was what held Majestic Man back from showing his best in the second of the features. ''It was a big effort on Tuesday and I just don't think he backed up on Friday,'' the trainer said. ''But, he seems to have bounced back pretty well from it ahead of the trip up north.'' Williamson may need to be at his masterful best to help Majestic Man back up for three Interdominion heats in the space of eight days, starting next Friday. The trotter has three key factors on his side to help him breeze through the first two of those heats. Racing under mobile conditions, over sprint distances and a right-handed track mean Majestic Man should get perfect circumstances to score maximum qualifying points on nights one and two. Monty Python is in a contrasting position. The 10yr-old is not completely suited to the early sprint racing, but is expected to thrive under the staying conditions of heat 3 and the series final. Monty Python heads north after delighting Williamson with his gritty third placing behind Habibi Inta in the second-fastest running of the Dominion. ''We were rapt with him; he just thrives on that pressure racing,'' the trainer said. ''He should get that if he is able to get through to the final, but obviously he is not as suited to the sprint races.'' Despite his proven record in big staying races, Monty Python is rated the outsider of the three horses with whom Williamson is connected. Majestic Man has been at $21 odds this week to win the trotting series final, Kenny's Dream at $31 and Monty Python at $61 price. Williamson is not expecting miracles during the series from the 5yr-old daughter of his former racemare, One Over Kenny. Instead, the Oamaru trainer said he was confident Kenny’s Dream will acquit herself well. Kenny's Dream will have just her 16th start in next Friday's opening-round heat. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The old phrase a week is a long time in racing rarely applied more painfully than to Miracle Mile winner Spankem. Last week he was favourite for every harness race matters in the next three months. Today he is out of racing for the summer. The outstanding pacer was rolled late in last Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup by stablemate Cruz Bromac and then luckless when forced to sit parked in the NZ Free-For-All, so a Cup week to forget compared with the back end of last season where almost everything went perfectly. But things went from frustrating to far worse this week when the millionaire pacer was diagnosed with a fetlock issue that will see him miss the rest of the summer, starting with the Inter Dominions which begin at Alexandra Park tomorrow week. The long-time favourite for the series, which looked ideal for him with his gate speed and group one winning form on the right-handed track, Spankem won’t only miss that but the Auckland Cup on December 31 and the Australian riches in the New Year, including his Miracle Mile defence. While he was beaten fair and square last week and was no certainty to win the rich races that lie ahead, Spankem’s ability to race handy and the fact he never goes a bad race suggest even moderate luck could have seen him pick up another $500,000 this summer. Sadly for his connections and futures punters he will now spend summer with the sun on his back and a belly full of grass. “It is gutting but we still have a horse and hopefully lots to look forward to,” says part-owner Ken Breckon.  Spankem’s withdrawal from the Interdoms saw markets closed and when they re-opened New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac is the new favourite in one of the most open series in years. He will be one of the six pacing reps in the series for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, joined by Ultimate Sniper, Chase Auckland, Another Masterpiece, Ashley Locaz and Thefixer. They dominate the market but they don’t have the fear factor of All Stars champions like Lazarus and the Australian visitors for the series will be growing in confidence. The Aussie pacing team has grown to eight with Sicario now confirmed and it is looking increasingly like their will only be two pacing heats of potentially 12 runners on all three nights to decide the dozen who qualify for the $500,000 final on December 14. Futures punters should also note Spankem isn’t the only group one star from the Purdon-Rasmussen stable to miss the carnival, with Princess Tiffany not coming north for the Queen Of Hearts. “She has only been back in work for three weeks after racing at the Breeders Crown and was never going to be ready for that,” says Rasmussen. That suggests Barry Purdon holds a mortgage on that group one, also on December 14, as he now has both favourites Belle Of Montana and Wainui Creek. While the pacing series has lost its favourite the news is better for the trotting series, with both Marcoola and McLovin getting the green light. Marcoola has passed an endoscopic examination to prove he has taken no harm from his Dominion failure last Friday and he will fly north on Monday and join the Barry Purdon stable. McLovin suffered an attack of the thumps in the same race but pleased trainer Andy Gath in his work yesterday morning and is on track for the series. The final payments for the Inter Dominion are at 11am on Friday and will determine whether it consists of four heats per night (two pacing and two trotting) or whether either gait can stretch to three heats per night.   Michael Guerin

The latest Rankings for the IRT Inter Dominion are now available from here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

CHAMPION Aussie horseman Luke McCarthy didn’t see anything to be scared of at Addington this week. In fact, if anything, his confidence of giving the Auckland Inter Dominion a huge shake with comeback star Bling It On has grown after watching the NZ Cup and NZ free-for-all. “There’s no standout. It’s certainly not as tough a school as it was when the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Smolda were around,” McCarthy said. “I watched the Cup and felt Bling It On was certainly as good as any of them and the free-for-all didn’t change anything.” Bling It On has deliberately been kept away from the races since his stunning Group 1 Victoria Cup win at Melton on October 12. It came at just his second run on the comeback trail. But McCarthy has him screwed right down and ready for Auckland. “He had a couple of quiet weeks after the Victoria Cup because he’d been in work for six months in his comeback, but he’s very fit again now,” he said. “He’s had plenty of work at home and two trips into Menangle where I’ve worked him the Auckland direction with a galloping pacemaker. “He zipped home a 26sec quarter in a race cart this week (Thursday) and I’ll get even more serious with him to top him right off when we go back again next Thursday.” Bling It On is booked on a flight Monday week from Sydney to Auckland. “As I’ve said all along, I really do think he’s come back better than ever,” McCarthy said. “People have him down as just this sit-sprint horse, but he’s more than that, especially now. He’s versatile and can do some work. Put it this way, if I drew to lead, I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to hold it. “People forget when he won that Hunter Cup he was out wide for a while and did a fair bit of work before I took a trail and he still finished the race of really well. “And I’m sure he’s come back an even better horse this time in.”   By Adam Hamilton

An old-fashioned workload produced a new best version of Habibi Inta in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington yesterday. And after his graphic demolition job in our richest trot the big stallion has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals in the Inter Dominion Trotting series which starts at Alexandra Park in 13 days.  Habibi Inta made the most of a perfect Blair Orange drive and the early gallop of favourite Oscar Bonavena to bolt away with the group one, giving Orange the dream double of Cup week after his New Zealand Cup on Tuesday.  Already a group one winner at the Harness Jewels two seasons ago, Habibi Inta went to a whole new level yesterday and that was after some tough love from trainer extraordinaire Paul Nairn.  “After he won at Kaikoura last week I kept the work right up to him,” explains Nairn.  “I knew he would have to be fit, really fit for the 3200m and he handled the work beautifully.  “I thought he could win because he was so fit but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he could do that.”
 It was a career statement win from Habibi Inta as he sat off the hot speed set by Marcola and jogged past him at the top of the straight.  It was a dramatic reversal of their previous clash at Ashburton when Marcoola thrashed him by 13 lengths, showing how the right horse on the day wins the group ones this season. Nairn will now bring the big, muscular six-year-old to Auckland for an Inter Dominion where some of his key rivals have question marks hanging over their heads.  Aussie raider Tough Monarch was a brave second yesterday capping a great week while veteran Monty Python surged into third while Marcoola was out of gas at the top of the straight. Another Australian visitor in McLovin suffered a case of the thumps but should be good to go for the Inters, a series Oscar Bonavena will miss.  The latter was slightly checked into a gallop after 400m when horses galloped both inside and outside, leaving trainer-driver Mark Purdon enormously disappointed as he tailed off. Punters didn’t enjoy it much either.  But Purdon bounced back two races later when Chase Auckland made the most of the trail-passing lane run to win the $200,000 NZ Free-For-All. A brave and luckless fourth in the NZ Cup three days earlier, Chase Auckland got all the luck this time as he was destined to be three back on the inside but Cruz Bromac galloped when heading to the lead, which left Classie Brigade in front and Chase Auckland in the luxury spot.  All the main players from the F-F-A will head to the Inter Dominions where they will be met by a fresh wave of Australians.   Michael Guerin

Powerhouse Aussie veteran San Carlo is primed for his first Kiwi raid. San Carlo shares a flight with emerging trotter McLovin to Christchurch, via Auckland, next Wednesday. “It’s not ideal going through Auckland, but they have the chance to get out and spend a bit of time there before the flight down to Christchurch,” co-trainer and driver Bec Bartley said. “They get to Christchurch Friday morning, so it’s still plenty of time to settle in before the big one.” Bartley is adamant Kiwis will get to see the very best of San Carlo. “I truly believe he’s never been better,” she beamed. “It’s like he’s gone to another level this campaign. It’s so exciting.” San Carlo won the Kilmore Cup sitting parked first-up and has since produced runs of the race for fourth in the Victoria Cup and second in the Swan Hill Cup after doing all the work in quick times. “Colt Thirty One had the perfect sit on him and it took the whole straight for him to nose us out. And Colt Thirty One is a really, reallt nice horse,” Bartley said. This will be Bartley’s first drive in an NZ Cup, but she’s got great memories of the race. “I’ve been twice. The first time I went, I was lucky enough it was year Kerryn (Manning) won with Arden Rooney. We joined the victory celebrations afterwards and it was fantastic to see Kerryn treated like a celebrity,” she said.  “I’ve had such a great time both trips over and never thought for a moment I’d get to compete in it myself. I can’t wait.”  San Carlo looms as such an important horse in all the NZ races he contests because he so often makes moves in his races and connections aren’t afraid to go and sit parked. He’s sure to make the races genuine contests.  And the way he’s racing, he’s good enough to win a big one with the right sort of luck.   by Adam Hamilton

CHAMPION driver Anthony Butt has landed the plum drive on star Aussie trotter Tough Monarch through NZ Cup Week and the Auckland Inter Dominion. Trainer Rickie Alchin, who arrived in NZ with Tough Monarch yesterday (Wednesday), said he was thrilled to have Butt aboard.  “I wanted a top Kiwi driver, one who has the score on the board in big races over here,” he said. “Anthony might be based in Sydney now, but his record in the big NZ races is outstanding. It’s great to have him driving for us.”  Butt now has drives in at least three major races during Cup Week, having already been confirmed for the Aussie-owned Line Up in the 3YO Sires Stake final.  “It was exciting to get the call-up to drive Line Up for Emilio (Rosati, owner) and now for Rickie and owners to give me the drive on Tough Monarch is terrific,” Butt said. “I’d originally planned to take Emilio’s trotter Lily Stride across, but she didn’t go well enough last Sunday at Menangle. “I’ll stay the week for the Cup, I’ve already picked up another drive during the week as well. "As far as the Inter Dominion goes, I guess I’ll stay that first week for the heats and take it from there.”  Alchin said Tough Monarch had settled well in NZ  “He handled he trip well and it’s good to get across nice an early,” he said. “As planned, he’ll go the Cup trials next week to top him off for the free-for-all on Cup Day,” he said.   by Adam Hamilton

The latest Rankings for the IRT Inter Dominion are now available from here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Garrick Knight Inters sustaining payments made Club officials are optimistic that the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship will still be contested over rounds of three heats in Auckland next month. After the $450 sustaining payment was due on Tuesday, 33 horses remain in the reckoning, including 11 from Australia. Should the final number dip below 30, the Auckland Trotting Club would have to consider reverting to two heats of 12. “Three heats of ten will be ok; but that’s about the minimum,” says Racing Manager, Regan Cotter. “The fact they’ve all paid $450 means they’re all fairly serious about coming so I’d be surprised if many more drop out. “We always knew this first round of payments was going to see quite a few withdrawals because it cost nothing to nominate.” All major players remain nominated for the series, including eight from the dominant Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable. Of the 21 withdrawn this week, the highest ranked were Australian pacers Wrappers Delight (14), Buster Brady (15) and Ignatius (18) while Gran Chico (25), sold last week to Perth interests, was the highest-ranked New Zealand defection. The trotting series had its numbers virtually halved from 66 to 35 with a $300 payment due. It did manage to hold on to its top eight ranked horses though lost arguably the biggest name with Oscar Bonavena’s withdrawal. The retirements of Monbet and Kyvalley Blur hurt, as did the loss of five other Australians – Lily Stride, Save Our Pennys, Maori Law, Fratellino and Sassy Pants. Of most interest was that Aussie star McLovin was paid up despite a belief his connections would not do so. According to Cotter, trainer Andy Gath was unable to contact owner Norm Jenkin over the past week so made the last-minute call to play it safe and make the sustaining payment. Two other Australian trotters, Big Jack Hammer and Tough Monarch, are still in contention, the latter already in New Zealand and on his way to Christchurch for Cup Week.   First training win for Sailesh Abernethy South Auckland horseman Sailesh Abernethy is now officially a race-winning trainer. He piloted his own horse, Benjamin Button, to win a maiden in Palmerston North on Tuesday just a couple of months after taking out a training license. The five-year-old Art Official gelding has battled back from a tendon injury suffered as a three-year-old and, plainly, a general lack of ability. “He’s never shown me too much,” Abernethy told HRNZ. “Just enough to keep going with. He’s gone some handy races this time and I always thought he had a win in him.” Abernethy wasn’t getting too carried away with the achievement. Much like Marcoola with Clint and Ken Ford, he has always done most of the work with veteran trotter Majestic One, a 14-race winner despite it being in his brother, Jay’s name. Both horses were trained Jay until Sailesh got his license at the start of this season. Majestic One has been served by boom sire, Father Patrick. “She’s not quite retired. “I’m trying to get her in foal and then she’ll have a few more starts. “I would like to get to 15 wins with her.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

TIME has beaten Sydney trainer Jimmy Rattray’s quest for more Inter Dominion glory. Rattray, who won two pacing finals with the mighty stayer Beautide, will today (Tuesday) scratch his two contenders for Auckland – Ignatius and Harjeet. “It was always a bit of a longshot, but I’m pulling the pin now,” he said. “Harjeet’s had the one trial for me and will have his first start for me this Saturday, while Ignatius only had his first trial back, and it was a soft one, at Menangle yesterday (Monday). “I’ve run out of time to have them both really primed for a trip away and a tough series like that.” Rattray said both were being set for Sydney’s Carnival of Miracles in February/March. “There’s a chance one or both could pop down for a big race or two in Melbourne during their Carnival, but I’ll play that as it comes … see how they are at the time,” he said. Harjeet is a fascinating addition to Rattray’s barn, having recently moved from his brother Todd’s Tasmanian stable to Sydney. Like Beautide before him, he was Tasmania’s standout pacer before making the move. “He’s such a big horse and will definitely get better with racing, especially the mile races, up here,” he said. “The signs are he’ll do a really good job here, but just how far he’ll go is hard to say at this stage. “Ignatius will have another trial or two before he goes back to the races, but he seems to come back well and it’ll great to get him back to the track.”   Adam Hamilton

Gun Queensland horseman Grant Dixon has never been to the far north-west Victorian tourist hot spot of Swan Hill - but he's excited to be there for the town's harness racing night-of-nights this Friday. Dixon will making the long trip for the $35,000 Group Three Swan Hill Pacing Cup as he starts to crank up his superstar pacer Colt Thirty One for the prestigious 2019 NZ Inter Dominion series in Auckland. "I'm really looking forward to competing in the Cup. It's a race that carries nice stakemoney and while there's only five runners in it, we're going to get a good gauge as to just where we are at for late November and December," he said. "The plan is to keep him ticking over and I hope to squeeze in probably another three runs if possible before the big Inter series." Colt Thirty One (Mach Three-Charm Personified (Perfect Art) has stamped himself as one of Australasia's greatest current pacers with 32 wins and 11 placings from 48 starts for nearly $755,000. The five-year-old bay horse is bred and owned by industry powerhouse couple Kevin and Kay Seymour, of Solid Earth Pty Ltd, and showed just what he is capable of when he took out the $250,000 Group One Blacks a Fake in Brisbane earlier this year. While he's recently had his colors lowered, but far from being disgraced, Dixon is confident of a solid showing in the cup. "He's only had two race starts and one trial since the Blacks A Fake win back in mid-July. With more runs he's going to get harder and stronger," Dixon said. "We thought his second placing to Bling It On in the Victoria Cup at Melton nearly a fortnight ago was a game effort," he said. In that event, Colt Thirty One recorded a sensational time of 1.51-6 for the 2240m trip - the second time he has run a sub 1.52. The other was a PB of 1.51-2 in winning at Albion Park over 1660m on June 29 this year. "His work since the Victoria Cup has been pleasing. We haven't gone to any trials because he does enough on the jog track when he's asked to click up," Dixon said. Colt Thirty One and Grant Dixon storm to victory in the Blacks A Fake in Brisbane earlier this year (Dan Costello Photograph) "The Swan Hill feature race should be exciting because Tam Major (Chris Alford) and San Carlo (Rebecca Bartley) are quality pacers. They are most likely going to land in front of me from the start and are going to be awfully hard to beat. But we'll have to work it out from there." Dixon said he realized early days that Colt Thirty One was something special. "I still remember the day I drove out to where he was being broken-in and sat behind him. I actually went up there to drive a few youngsters, but he was certainly the one that stood out," he said. Dixon, who is based at the picturesque town of Tamborine, in the Gold Coast hinterland, prepares a team of around 60-70 horses with his wife Trista and a staff of 12. The 46-year-old had a standout 2018-19 season in the sulky, with 237 winners ($1.9M in stakes), just a handful short of his personal best of 242 in 2009-10. It was way back in 1994-95 when he reached the magical century for the first time - and in the 20 seasons since 1999-2000 he has topped 100, bettering the double century on nine occasions. While Dixon says Colt Thirty One could be the best horse he's had, it's a close call because he still has great admiration for Majestic Mach (Mach Three-Midnight Lace (Fake Left), a pacer he raced for five seasons from 2012. Majestic Mach won at his first 12 starts, then finished second, before reeling off another consecutive dozen victories. "He finished with 35 wins, including four Group One events, for nearly $800,000 and it was a big blow went he went amiss in late 2017," Dixon said. Other outstanding horses that come to mind to race in the familiar Dixon stable black and white checks include I Am Sam, Atomic Art, Jeremy Lee, Majestic Major, Get In The Groove, Cherish The Moment and a whole lot more! Dixon, who admits he was "pretty much hopeless at school", was born into harness racing, being the son of Hall of Famer, Bill Dixon. Prior to relocating his family to south-east Queensland in the early 80s, Bill Dixon, was a household name in the north of the state. Training out of Townsville, he was the leading trainer-driver for a number of seasons. Bill is now retired and a resident of an aged care facility. The father-and-son hold a unique record on the Gold Coast. Bill won the last race at the old Owen Park track (Queen Street, Southport) and then when racing shifted to the now-defunct Parklands complex (at the corner of Smith St and Parklands Drive), Grant won the final race conducted at that venue, in 2013. Parklands was closed when the site was formally designated as the athletes' village for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

DUAL Inter Dominion winner Jimmy Rattray is warming to the thought of being part of this year’s Auckland series. But it will be another couple of weeks before he makes the final call. The possibility of taking a couple of his former Tasmanian stars across to Auckland gained momentum when stable newcomer Harjeet won a Menangle trial yesterday (Monday). Stable star Ignatius returns to the trials at Menangle next Monday. “Both seem well, but I want to get a trial or two into them then make the decision on Auckland,” Rattray said. Harjeet, now six, raced 31 times for 17 wins and nine placings in Tasmania for Rattray’s brother, Todd, before being sent to NSW a couple of months back. His record is quite similar back in Tasmania to the mighty Beautide, who went to another level after being moved to Sydney where he won two Inter Dominion titles. “The family has always had a big opinion of this horse and he’s come-up well. It was good to get that trial into him,” Rattray said. Harjeet won the mile trial by 4.5m in 1min53.8sec and closed in splits of 55.3 and 27.4sec. “Ignatius is ready to trial as well, but I’ll wait until next week for him,” Rattray said. The Auckland Inter Dominion flavour stretched to yesterday’s (Monday) Bathurst trials where three contenders, Steve Turnbull’s Atomic Red and Courtsinsession as well as Amanda Turnbull’s Ellmers Image, clashed in the opening trial. It was another local, Misterfreeze, who won the 1730m trial in blazing 1min53.4sec mile rate by whisker over Ellmers Image with Courtsinession another head away third. Atomic Red was beaten just 4.7m in fourth spot. The mile rate was just one-second outside Mista Lombo’s track record. Steve Turnbull’s pair, Courtsinsession (gate 10) and Atomic Red (11), both returns from spells in the free-for-all at Menangle on Sunday.   By Adam Hamilton

It's full-steam ahead for Auckland with comeback hero Bling It On. All that’s changed is how trainers Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy plan to prepare for the Kiwi raid. In a surprise switch, McCarthy confirmed Bling It On would not race again before the opening round of Inter Dominion heats at Alexandra Park on November 29. That will mean seven weeks between races, given his last run was that record-smashing Victoria Cup win on October 12 at Melton. “Don’t worry, he’ll be fit enough for that opening night for sure,” McCarthy said. “He won’t be racing, but we’ll be working him two or three times at almost race speed, going the Auckland direction, at Menangle.” And the depth in Cross and McCarthy’s open-class stocks mean they certainly have the horses to ensure Bling It On has serious partners in those Menangle workouts. “We weighed everything up in those few days after the Victoria Cup and think this is the best option,” McCarthy said. “If he runs at Menangle, he’ll have to start from the outside, will probably get parked and have a gut-buster. Instead, we can do as much as need to with him in those workouts at Menangle and give him experience the Auckland direction at the same time.” McCarthy said Bling It On would return to work this week after “an easy 10 days” following his Victoria Cup win. “It was always the plan to give him a little freshen-up after the Victoria Cup because he’s been in work for six months for his comeback,” he said. “The freshen-up is ideal and then we’ll start getting serious with him again. “It’s so exciting to have him back and racing like this. He’s at least as good as he’s ever been, maybe even a little better.” McCarthy was thrilled to hear the numbers of Aussies slated to tackle the Auckland pacing series looked strong. “Isn’t it great Steve Turnbull’s taking three and Amanda’s taking one as well. That’s fantastic for the series,” he said. “It looks like we’ll have some good numbers and quality flying the flag over there.”   Adam Hamilton

HALF of Bathurst is headed to the Auckland Inter Dominion. Well that’s a slight exaggeration, but the country NSW town best known for its annual car race will certainly be punching above its weight at Alexandra Park with a probable five representatives in the series starting on November 29. Steve Turnbull, already an Inter Dominion winner with Smooth Satin, has three of his stable stars booked on a flight to NZ next month. “Conviction, Atomic Red and Courtsinsession are all on that flight at this stage,” Turnbull said. “Maybe they are a step below the very best ones, but I’m really happy with them all and they deserve a crack at it.” Turnbull’s daughter, Amanda, is adding to the family raid with her classy pacer Ellmers Image making the trip across as well. But it could be a non-Turnbull who represents Bathurst’s best hope in the series through Chris and Anthony Frisby’s Our Uncle Sam, runner-up to Tiger Tara in last year’s Melbourne Inter Dominion final. Our Uncle Sam returned from a spell at Bathurst last night (Wednesday) and won’t race again before crossing the Tasman to chase the NZ Cup ahead of the Inter Dominion. But Ellmers Image, Conviction, Atomic Red and Courtsinsession will only target Auckland. “Conviction won well in quick time first-up at Eugowra and runs at Menangle Saturday night, while Atomic Red and Courtsinsession have come up really well,” Steve Turnbull said from Bathurst trots last night. “Atomic Red would be the best of ours, but he has this condition where he’s been continually growing bone chips and needing them removed. About five months ago we were told he’d stabilised, so we’ve brought him back and he seems great through the trials.” Amanda Turnbull said Ellmers Image would trial Monday. “He won the consolation in last year’s Melbourne series and I think it was the making of him, he won some nice races really well afterwards,” she said. “After this trial, I’ll find a race for him then get him ready for the trip across,” she said. by Adam Hamilton

EMERGING Aussie star Colt Thirty One moved a step closer to the Auckland Inter Dominion with his big showing in the Victoria Cup. The five-year-old got a big tick from connections for his late-closing and slightly unlucky second to Bling It On in last Saturday night’s record-smashing Cup. Colt Thirty One, the best horse Queensland has produced since the mighty Blacks A Fake, had a lovely run behind leader, Cash N Flow, but had to wait for the sprint lane run while Bling It On was in the clear, hitting full speed and away and gone at the top of the Melton straight. “He ran well on the night and showed he can measure-up, but was beaten by a better horse on the night,” a humble owner-breeder Kevin Seymour said. “I think, as you do, Colt Thirty One will measure-up to the standard of the Inter Dominion. “At this stage he’s going to Auckland and, if Tennyson Bromac works up the rankings, he will go as well.” Tennyson Bromac brilliantly won five on end at Albion Park before being checked early and storming home in between horses late for an eye-catching fifth in the Preux Chevalier free-for-all, effectively the Victoria Cup Consolation, at Melton last Saturday night.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Local hopes Spankem and Sundees Son have topped New Zealand's ID19 rankings, with Cruz Bromac (five) and Big Jack Hammer (two) ranked Victoria's best hopes in today's first release. All Stars entrant Spankem, who ran fourth in Melbourne's December pacing TAB Inter Dominion final after winning two of his heats, has only added to his reputation with victories in the Miracle Mile and a further two Group 1 victories at Auckland this season. Of the Australian raiders, Queenslander Colt Thirty One has been ranked second in large part for his Blacks A Fake victory, with New South Wales' entrant Our Uncle Sam - who placed second in the ID18 final, won the Bohemia Crystal and was second in the Len Smith Mile - ranked fourth. Cruz Bromac heads the Victorians with Kilmore Cup winner San Carlo ranked ninth, Trots Country Cups champ Buster Brady 11th, Wrappers Delight 17th, Cant Refuse 22nd and Craig Demmler's pair My Kiwi Mate (31) and Somebeachshadow (33) also within a likely cut-off at 36, as is Audi Hare (34). Of the trotters, Big Jack Hammer's triple crown in February and March of winning Group 1s the V. L. Dullard Cup, Aquagait Mile and Australian Trotting Grand Prix was reflected in his second-placed ranking, behind only Robert Dunn's Sundees Son, who's won his past five starts including three Group 1s. New South Wales entrant Tough Monarch (5) and Victorians McLovin (8) and Kyvalley Blur (9) were also in the trotting top 10, while Save Our Pennys (21) is the only other Vic nominee listed within the 24-horse cut-off at this stage. IRT Inter Dominion Rankings - Pacers Spankem 1 Colt Thirty One 2 Thefixer 3 Our Uncle Sam 4 Cruz Bromac 5 Chase Auckland 6 A G’ White Socks 7 Ashley Locaz 8 San Carlo 9 Ellmers Image 10 Buster Bady 11 Star Galleria 12 Ultimate Sniper 13 Henry Hubert 14 Classie Brigade 15 Bling It On 16 Wrappers Delight 17 Ignatius 18 Sicario 19 Courtsinsession 20 On The Cards 21 Can’t Refuse 22 Conviction 23 Triple Eight 24 Harjeet 25 Mach Shard 26 Sheriff 27 Self Assured 28 Atomic Red 29 Joes Star Of Mia 30 My Kiwi Mate 31 Nandolo 32 Somebeachshadow 33 Audi Hare 34 Gran Chico 35 Check In 36 Solid Gold 37 Another Masterpiece 38 Fame Assured 39 Dance Time 40 Tennyson Bromac 41 The Devils Own 42 Bettorstartdreaming 43 Jack Farthing 44 The Bus 45 Millwood Maizie 46 Crime Writer 47 Smokin By 48 Sagwitch 49 A Bettor Act 50 Franco Landry 51 The Moonshadow 52 Revolver 53 Ball Of Art 54 Be Mine Tonight 55 IRT Inter Dominion Rankings - Trotters Sundees Son 1 Big Jack Hammer 2 Marcoola 3 Massive Metro 4 Tough Monarch 5 Lemond 6 Majestic Man 7 McLovin 8 Kyvalley Blur 9 Temporale 10 Habibi Inta 11 Great Things Happen 12 Monbet 13 Lily Stride 14 Amaretto Sun 15 Destiny Jones 16 Woodstone 17 Le Lievre's Gift 18 Winterfell 19 Harriet Of Mot 20 Save Our Pennys 21 Monty Python 22 Bordeaux 23 Enghien 24 Ronald J 25 Valloria 26 Pres The Belle 27 Maori Law 28 C K Spur 29 Sertorius 30 Credit Master 31 The Dominator 32 Bonnie Highlander 33 Hey Yo 34 Dark Horse 35 Oscar Bonavena 36 Sassy Pants 37 Tickle Me Pink 38 Didjabringthebeers 39 Ruthless Kayla 40 Kenny's Dream 41 Theodosia 42 Luby Lou 43 Fratellino 44 Heavyweight Hero 45 Forget The Price Tag 46 Majestic Hurricane 47 Matua Tana 48 Sundons Wish 49 War Machine 50 Sunny Glenis 51 BD Love 52 Gershwin 53 Paramount King 54 King Cassidy 55 Valmagne 56 Galleons Victory 57 The Hulk 58 Mr Good And Evil 59 Lovey Dovey Moment 60 Westy Boyz 61 Zsa Zoe 62 Lone Star Lad 63 Phoebe Imperial 64 Charlemagne 65 Sugar Cane 66   HRV Trots Media

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