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Harness racing trainer Brian Brown captured his first Kaltenbach training title in 2018, sending 104 youngsters postward in the 2018 Ohio Sires Stakes (OSS) legs, finals and consolations. Brown’s hefty assortment of 2- and 3-year-old pacers and trotters—which he conditions at Delaware, OH during the spring and summer months and in south Florida during the wintertime—earned $1,075,850 from 18 wins, 20 seconds and ten third-place finishes.  It was fitting for Brown, who was the runner-up to 2017 Kaltenbach winning trainer Chris Beaver. This year, it was New Jersey-based trainer Ronnie Burke who finished second among all OSS conditioners, with $953,150 in earnings from 78 starters with 11 wins, 13 seconds and 12 thirds.  Chris Beaver was third in the OSS training standings, with 65 starters who finished first ten times, along with 9 second-place and 14 third-place finishers who earned $491,250. Urbana, OH-based trainer Kimberly Daily finished fourth with $283,450 earned in OSS events from 38 starters, seven winners, three second-place finishers and seven third-place check getters.  Canadian conditioners Jason McGinnis and Robert McIntosh were fifth and six respectively in the OSS final trainers’ tally. McGinnis sent 25 horses postward with seven wins, four seconds and a trio of thirds for earnings of $259,100, while McIntosh had four wins and one second in five starts for earnings of $207,500. Sixteen trainers had OSS contestants who posted earnings of $100,000 or more with six conditioners training winners who earned $200,000 or higher. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., captured the 2018 Kaltenbach Award for leading driving in OSS competition for the second time in his career, having earned the honor in 2015.  Wrenn, Jr., notched $987,500 in OSS earnings from steering 96 starters to 21 wins, 16 seconds and 12 third-place finishes.  North America’s leading driver and record setter Aaron Merriman finished second with 19 wins, 15 seconds and 16 thirds in 99 starts with earnings of $963,900 for his efforts.  Last year’s Kaltenbach winner, Chris Page, finished third this year with 16 wins, 18 seconds and ten thirds from 93 starters who earned $937,100 in OSS events. Danny Noble picked up fourth place honors in the OSS driver standings, with 15 wins, five seconds and 11 thirds form 67 starters who earned $523,750, while Tony Hall’s mounts earned $437,700 from six wins, three seconds and two thirds in 46 tries.   Ryan Stahl was the only other driver to pilot the winners of more than $400,00 with $433,950 earned from seven wins, eight seconds and eight thirds in 60 starts. Of the 73 drivers who participated in the 2018 OSS events, 60 garnered at least one check with 17 driving the winners of $100,000 or more, while a full 12 drove horses who earned $200,000 or more. In the 30 years the Kaltenbachs have been awarded, David Miller leads all drivers with seven trophies.  In the training ranks, Virgil Morgan, Jr., has captured the title six times.  Only two horsemen have won the Kaltenbachs in both the training and driving categories—Sam “Chip” Noble, III and Dave Rankin. The Jerry Kaltenbach Memorial Trophies were established in 1988—named in honor of one of the Ohio Sires Stakes founding fathers—and are awarded annually to the driver and trainer who have earned the most dollars competing in OSS events.                                       Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. in action                                             Brian Brown   Kaltenbach Memorial Award Winners 1988 -2018           Driver Earnings Year Trainer Earnings Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.     $987,500 2018 Brian Brown $1,075,850   Chris Page     $849,100       2017 Chris Beaver $782,200 Chris Page $1,482,300 2016 Jim Dailey $908,300 Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. $858,350         2015       Martin Wollam      $490,500 Chris Page $743,650 2014 Ron Burke $428,750 Dan Noble 416,500 2013 Jim Dailey 319,850 Kayne Kauffman 204,268 2012 Martin Wollam 205,413 Ryan Stahl 300,532 2011 Martin Wollam 149,997 Ryan Stahl 219,647 2010 Jim Arledge Jr. 160,240 Dan Noble 238,173 2009 Jim Dailey 247,380 Sam Noble III 255,500 2008 Jim Dailey 205,400 Ryan Stahl 383,311 2007 Michael Medors 209,025 Brett Miller 584,800 2006 Virgil Morgan Jr. 332,700 Brett Miller 667,800 2005 Virgil Morgan Jr. 416,600 Brett Miller 629,140 2004 Virgil Morgan Jr. 310,255 David Hawk 399,011 2003 Virgil Morgan Jr. 318,167 Brett Miller 565,802 2002 Michael Medors 315,369 David Hawk 655,600 2001 Michael Medors 283,225 David Hawk 643,650 2000 Virgil Morgan Jr. 266,225 David Hawk 459,100 1999 Virgil Morgan Jr. 213,495 David Miller 543,869 1998 Sam Noble III 174,257 David Miller 463,002 1997 Jeff Cox 138,597 David Miller 401,277 1996 Jim Arledge Jr. 140,437 David Miller 466,335 1995 Tom Brinkerhoff 162,605 David Miller 537,739 1994 Ron Potter 132,431 David Miller 339,179 1993 Sam Noble III 164,139 David Miller 288,852 1992 Doug Hinklin 194,168 Ray Paver Jr. 293,334 1991 Debbie Paver 154,726 Dave Rankin 264,384 1990 Dave Rankin 172,972 Sam Noble III 223,955 1989 Steve Brannan 156,136 Joe Adamsky 185,303 1988 Beth Dailey 135,230   Kimberly Rinker Ohio Sires Stakes

When your Grandfather and Father have won races at Rosecroft, you might as well follow in their footsteps, right? Harness racing driver Jason Green continues to do that, as last night he piloted four winners including the mares feature with KG Rocks in 1:53.4. Sent off as the third choice in the wagering, KG Rocks watched as a ton of activity went on in front of her over the first 5/8ths of a mile. Fearless Chance (John Mackinnon) left hard from the rail before yielding to Arts and Flowers (Roger Plante) through a opening quarter of :27. Iheartquestionmark (Eric Davis) was left parked and pressed on clearing before the half in :55.2. At this point, favored Sweetnfamous and Frank Milby sprung forward to grab the lead while the rest of the outer flow moved up. Green, who started fifth over, eventually brushed three wide with the eventual winner who zipped home for her third win of the fall meet. Arts And Flowers was second while Sweetnfamous was third. Heidi Van Vliet owns and trains the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven who won for the 15th time in her career. While she had rested up over the summer, KG Rocks has now gone 3-1-1 in her last 6 starts at Rosecroft. "She really likes the Winter" said Van Vliet who also teamed with Green for a trotting win with Winston Hall in a lifetime best 1:59. Jason Green's Dad, Clifton, piloted Maryland Sires Stakes trotting champions Old Dan and Bo Jam at Rosecroft and also garnered MSS wins with Tuggit who was trained by his Dad, Clayton. Green won a pair for Michael and Brittany Bounds as the 10-year old trotter Magglio picked up his third win of the fall meet, and Im Done Talking pulled an 8-1 upset. Leading driver Frank Milby won a pair as Luck Of The Deal rallied for a win for owner Marc Tardiff and trainer Eric Davis, while Accokeek Mercury held off favored Believe In Him (Ricky Still) to post a 13-1 upset for owner-trainer Rusty Cox. Milby now leads Russell Foster, 45-42, going into the final night of the meet Sunday. Wednesday night cards are dominated by pacing mares, and last night was dominated by female trainers, Van Vliet and Bounds had doubles, while Megan Tolson, Amanda Malone and meet leading trainer Arlene Cameron all had wins on the 12-race card. Pete Medhurst

Betting on horse races has declined in several years in France, and a cut in purses was expected. The French governing body for harness racing, Le Trot, has announced that purses in races in 2019 will be cut by 11 percent – that is 26 million Euro. Europe’s richest harness race for elder trotters, the Grand Prix d’Amerique, will now have a total purse of 900,000 Euro – down from one million. The winner will get 405,000 Euro – down from 450,000 Euro. Other big races in the Winter Meeting like the Prix de France and Prix de Paris will now each have a total purse of 350.000, down from 400,000 Euro. The world’s richest under saddle race, Prix de Cornulier, will see a decrease from 700,000 Euro to 650,000. Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent

Star reinsman Ryan Warwick has fond memories of his first Group 1 driving success when he brought 8/1 chance Gee Whiz Fizz home with a sizzling late burst to snatch a thrilling last-stride, half-head victory over the 2/1 favourite Precious Dylan in the Golden Nugget championship on December 16, 2005. Gee Whiz Fizz, trained in Bunbury by Steve Burton, started from the No. 1 barrier, but was outgunned in the early stages by Precious Dylan and Warwick had to be content to take the trail behind the pacemaker before Gee Whiz Fizz, veering out wide on the track, stormed to the front in a dramatic finish. Warwick, now 40 and at the peak of his powers as a top-flight reinsman, is quite understandably thrilled that Ana Malak has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier for the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget for four-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The lightly-raced and comparatively inexperienced New Zealand-bred horse, prepared by the State’s leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is in superb form and Warwick will be looking for an all-the-way success over the 2536m trip and hoping for a less traumatic and spine-tingling finish than he experienced with Gee Whiz Fizz. Ana Malak, who has been successful at six of his eight starts, revealed excellent gate speed from barrier one when he comfortably resisted an early challenge from the speedy Golden State in the $125,000 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic over 2130m last Friday week. Ana Malak dashed over the first quarter of the final mile in 28.8sec. before an easy 30.1sec. second section, followed by two final quarters of 28.4sec. He defied a strong late burst from the fast-finishing Ideal Liner to beat that gelding by a half-neck, with the classy Mighty Conqueror, a stablemate of the winner, surging home with a powerful three-wide burst from second-last in the middle stages to be an eye-catching third. Warwick, the Bonds and part-owner Rob Gartrell will be hoping for an Ana Malak victory before Warwick drives Galactic Star, from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the $500,000 Inter Dominion championship final at Melton on Saturday night. Galactic Star has excellent winning prospects. The Bonds hold a powerful hand in the Golden Nugget. Apart from Ana Malak, they will be represented by Bettor Aim, Mighty Conqueror, Fizzing, Thisbeachrighthere and Bright Diamond. The only previous time a trainer had six runners in a Golden Nugget championship was in 2014 when Gary Hall Snr was represented by Waylade, Majorly Foxy Styx, Classic American, Soho Lennon, A Boy Named Rosie and VC Manoeuvre. Waylade, the 11/8 favourite, raced in 11th position and met with interference in the final circuit before finishing with great determination to be a 2m second to Libertybelle Midfrew. Mighty Conqueror, to be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier three, has won at seven of his nine starts and is certainly capable of testing Ana Malak. Colin Brown will drive Bettor Aim, a winner at six of his nine starts, from the No. 2 barrier. He possesses great gate speed and is a brilliant frontrunner, but he is unlikely to muster enough early speed to get past Ana Malak and take up the running. Aiden de Campo has been engaged to handle the consistent and improving Fizzing from barrier four, Nathan Turvey will drive Thisbeachrighthere from the outside (No. 9) on the front line and Chris Lewis will be in the sulky behind Bright Diamond, who looks set to enjoy an ideal passage after starting from the inside of the back line. Lewis has been successful in the Golden Nugget with Vero Prince (1987), Flashing Star (1994), Saab (1998) and Dasher VC (2010). Hall has won the Nugget with Valley Champ (as a driver in 1993), The Gold Ace (2011) and Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and he will need plenty of luck with his three runners, Ideal Liner (Gary Hall Jnr), Think About Me (Stuart McDonald) and Benhope Rulz (Clint Hall), all of whom have drawn poorly. Ideal Liner, the least experienced runner in the race, with two wins and a close second to Ana Malak from three starts, has wonderful potential, but his prospects slumped when he drew out wide at barrier eight. Think About Me will be at long odds from the No. 6 barrier and Benhope Rulz faces a massive task from the outside of the back line. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed has prepared three Nugget winners Tricky Vic (2002), Bonavista Bay (2009) and Libertybelle Midfrew (2014) and he refuses to concede defeat, despite his runner, Golden State, drawing barrier two on the back line, which robs the horse of his greatest asset, his dazzling gate speed. “Golden State can also produce a sparkling sprint,” Reed said. Golden State was shuffled back to ninth at the bell and was 11th at the 250m mark before being hampered for room until the final stages, when he finished full of running to be a splendid fifth behind Ana Malak in the Four-Year-Old Championship. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who has won the Nugget with Saab and Dasher VC, is pinning his faith on Stefsbest, a winner at five of his 20 starts. Stefsbest will start from the No. 5 barrier and will be at liberal odds. The only mare in the race is the Kristian Hawkins trained Dontstopbelievin, who faces a monumental task from barrier seven. This week’s classic has been robbed of considerable interest by the absence of the brilliant Jack Mac, who notched his 16thvictory from 18 starts in Western Australia when he scored a stylish win in a Nugget prelude last Friday night. Jack Mac is suffering from a fractured near fore pedal bone. Ken Casellas

The All Stars stable of Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon knows no boundaries. Their pursuit of excellence continues to defy belief, constantly rewriting the pages of history, producing brilliant talent season after season and across all age groups. The Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final is a time honoured feature that tugs at the heartstrings of both Rasmussen and Purdon. After all, Rasmussen and her mighty champion Blacks A Fake won the event a record four times while Purdon has lifted the trophy on six occasions – 3 pacers and 3 trotters. This will be Rasmussen’s 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final, her previous six coming with Blacks A Fake – 4 wins and 2 seconds. In fact, the last time the Pacing Grand Final was staged in Melbourne (2008 - Moonee Valley), it was Rasmussen and ‘Blackie’ that proved victorious. And now they’re chasing another slice of history this weekend. The All Stars have qualified two runners for the Gr.1 $500,000 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final, the top two point scorers following the three rounds of heats over the past week. Cruz Bromac and Spankem are the two combatants, both striving to provide the stable their third straight Inter Dominion hero. Yet all with different horses after Smolda scored in 2016 while Lazarus took honours last year. And here’s the magic, no stable has won the Inter Dominion three times and with a different champion each time. The famous stables of Bob and Vin Knight fell short back in 1990 after both Our Maestro and Jane Ellen scored in the previous. It was Thorate who scored at Globe Derby while the Knight trained Jane Ellen and Rockleigh Victory were both unplaced and therefore denied the Victorian stable a three peat. Obviously Rockleigh Victory would’ve created history if successful - three different winners in three consecutive years. But now the All Stars can claim this record if either Cruz Bromac or Spankem deliver. And both have undeniable chances, Spankem will start from gate five with Purdon driving after Rasmussen elected to stick solid with Cruz Bromac despite drawing gate nine. Purdon is taking his 9th Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final drive; he has won three finals previously with Mark Hanover, Smolda and Lazarus while he has won 3 Trotting Finals with Pride Of Petite and I Can Doosit (twice). Cruz Bromac is the only runner during the series to win all three qualifying heats. With the series undertaking several changes throughout recent years, the last pacer to clean sweep a series (3 heats & Final) was the champion performer Im Themightyquinn back in 2012 at Gloucester Park in Perth while Elsu also achieved the feat in 2005 at Alexandra Park, Auckland. So, can Cruz Bromac and Rasmussen achieve the sweep? Will it be his stablemate, rising star Spankem? The professional four-year-old has thrived during the series winning two of his three heats and looks like he’ll relish the 2760m distance. Another New Zealand four-year-old I’m Pats Delight is also relishing the hard grind of the series and looms as a serious player for a formidable combination in Cran Dalgety and Gavin Lang. Between them, they have won more features than they care to remember. However, the Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final trophy has proven elusive for both future Hall of Famers but can they etch their names into the record books this weekend? This will be Lang’s 10th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive and second for Dalgety after partnering London Legend back in 2006. I’m Pats Delight will start from gate three. Perth powerhouse Greg and Skye Bond are represented by the ideally drawn Galactic Star (gate one) and the Bettors Delight gelding has been outstanding throughout the series to date with top three finishes in each of his three heats. Last year, Galactic Star finished 5th behind Lazarus. In 2012, the Bond’s also finished 5th with Can Return Fire behind Im Themightyquinn. Ryan Warwick takes his third Inter Dominion Grand Final drive when he reunites with Galactic Star. Interestingly, the only proven Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit winner in the field this year is the tough Sydney trained millionaire Tiger Tara. And his maiden Grand Circuit victory came recently when successful in the Victoria Cup here at TABCORP Park, Melton when leading throughout. Placed third last year behind Lazarus and Chicago Bull, the Kevin Pizzuto trained and Todd McCarthy driven will need to overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line. McCarthy is taking his 4th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. The Bettors Delight entire was placed in all three heats including his victory last weekend at Cranbourne. Local star San Carlo lines up again following his impressive efforts last year in Perth where he won a heat but in the final, he finished 9th behind Lazarus after drawing poorly. Although winless during the heats and starting from gate eight, the inside of the second-line, San Carlo still rates as a winning hope. Prepared by Steve O’Donoghue and handled by Bec Bartley, the Mach Three gelding will carry plenty of local support. Another local which will have plenty cheering is the David Aiken trained and Kima Frenning driven up and comer Wrappers Delight. A winner in the sprint heat at Ballarat on night two, the Bettors Delight gelding needs to overcome gate 11. This opportunity provides Frenning with her first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. One of the surprise packets of the series is the Mattie Craven trained and driven Can’t Refuse, responsible for some eye-catching efforts throughout the heats. The Bettors Delight gelding will start from gate two. Like Frenning, this is Craven’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. Another pacer that has thrived throughout the series is the Bathurst prepared Our Uncle Sam for father/son combination of Chris and Anthony Frisby. Blessed with sharp speed and great determination, the Sportswriter gelding is looking at bringing another Inter Dominion trophy back to the famous region. Memories of Honda Grattan and Smooth Satin come flooding back when assessing the chances of Our Uncle Sam. The five-year-old will start from gate 10 and this is Anthony’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. There’s no doubt rejuvenated pacer Maximan will have the biggest cheer squad, the one-time claimer has thrived under the care of Shane and Lauren Tritton. It will be their 3rd Inter Dominion finalist. Boasting owners from all parts of the country, the veteran performer will start from gate six. And Craig Cross is represented by two runners, just like the All Stars, speedy pacer Mach Doro starts from gate four while Cash N Flow is looking to overcome gate 13, the outside of the second-line. Luke McCarthy partners Mach Doro while John Caldow takes the drive behind Cash N Flow, McCarthy is lining up for his 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive while Caldow is taking his maiden drive in a Pacing Grand Final. McCarthy has finished third four times previously but is still chasing his maiden victory. Interestingly, Cash N Flow is a former member of the All Stars operation before joining Cross earlier this year. Owner Dominic Martello races both Wrappers Delight and Mach Doro. Audi Hare (gate 12) is listed as the emergency runner. Chris Barsby

PROMISING Menangle reinsman Josh Gallagher seems destined for big success in coming years, but he will never score a more important, or special, win than Wednesday’s HRNSW Rewards Series Final with Pacific Cullen, at Gold Crown Paceway. And those privileged to see the win, and the scenes that followed it, are never likely to forget it. The 18-year-old had made the trek up to Bathurst to drive KerryAnn Turner’s four stable runners at the meeting, still reeling from the death of his father Damien, in tragic circumstances, earlier in the week. The usual orange-and-black stable colours stayed in the kit bag on this night, replaced by his Dad’s blue and green diagonal striped livery. A large group of the Gallagher family, and friends, was there to support Josh, and will him on. Earlier in the meeting, semi-finals of the Soldiers Saddle series had provided two outstanding wins, in identical 1:54.7 runs, by Scarlet Babe and Ominous Warning, but for many on track, the real story of the night was going to be the quartet of races, from five through to eight,  featuring Josh in those colours. He began with a couple of thirds. Our Bondi Beach ran on well in the fast-class behind the 1:54.1 flyer Future Stride and Kleened Out NZ chased hard behind The Times A Changing NZ in the sixth, before Text Message finished a well-beaten fifth in a dramatic C1 sprint where Coolie Kid NZ won on protest. So it all came down to Pacific Cullen in the Rewards Series Final. She started a $2.25 favourite on the strength of a dominant win in the previous week’s heat, with Kerryann in the bike, but she was faced with a difficult draw outside the front, against a decidedly stronger field. When Josh made his intentions clear straightaway by spearing across the field to lead at the first corner, he might have been echoing those famous Invictus lines of William Henley: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Heading up the back straight the final time, he laid it all on the line with a flat-out 27.0s quarter, and headed for home with whatever was left in the tank. Fifty metres out, it was clear they weren’t going to be headed. The crowd roared, racecaller Fred Hastings switched to overdrive, and as he hit the line, Josh raised his whip skywards in a gesture with so much meaning it seemed to defy description. To call the post-race scenes “emotion-charged” would be something of an understatement. The young driver was surrounded in the warm embrace of his family, and of his trainer, whose care and concern for him had been evident all night. As he returned to scale, and right through the race presentation, the crowd added their support with spontaneous, generous applause. The winning horse might be a Cullen, but her driver is definitely a Courage Under Fire job, displaying resolution and bravery throughout this week that filled his family with pride and the rest of us with admiration. His final words “ I love you Dad” perfectly captured in words that winning gesture we’d witnessed a few minutes earlier. There are salutes, and then there are salutes. Terry Neil

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 12, 2018 -- Last in the field of six at the half, Kiwi Pres rallied through the lane and scored in Wednesday's Holiday Claiming Series for harness racing $20,000 claiming trotters at The Meadows. Campbellini took the other $15,000 opening-leg division. Kiwi Pres trailed by 7-1/2 lengths when Dave Palone sent him on his trek to the front. The 7-year-old The Pres-Kristalvagen N gelding gobbled up the leader, Royal Surprise, at the top of the lane and held off the late-trotting Nothing But Muscle to defeat him by a length in 1:57.3. Invested In Lindy finished third. Thomas Stamper trains and owns Kiwi Pres, who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $152,190. Campbellini stalked IC Caviar from the pocket, then roared by outside in deep stretch and downed him by a neck in 1:57.4, with Teddy Brosevelt third. Aaron Merriman piloted the 4-year-old Cantab Hall-Victory Jewel gelding for trainer Brewer Adams and owner Adams Racing LLC. Wednesday's card also featured two $8,000 opening-leg splits of a Holiday Claiming Series for $10,000 claiming trotters, with Mutinyonthebounty and Fantasy Rocket taking the honors. Jim Pantaleano collected three wins on the 13-race program. The Meadows this week is kicking off six Holiday Claiming Series that conclude on a special New Year's Eve card that also features the career finale of Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred all time with earnings exceeding $7.5 million. First post Dec. 31 is 5:30 PM. Live racing at The Meadows resumes at 1:05 PM Saturday, when the card includes a $1,436.13 Pick 5 carryover and a $778.50 carried-over jackpot in the final-race Super Hi 5. In addition, the track and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) will host their annual holiday party featuring handicapping contests, giveaways, games and a visit from everyone's favorite reinsman, Santa Claus. For more information or to register for any activities, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

December 9, 2018 - A superb harness racing card was held Sunday at Napoli that included three classic races. The Gr. II G.P. Royal Mares (purse 88,000€, 1600 meters autostart) began the action and Trendy OK (6f Varenne-Annette Hanover-Sierra Kosmos) went first over to gain the lead and draw clear in the lane for the victory timed in a record 1.11.1kr. Alessandro Gocciadoro teamed his trainee to the score that increased Trendy’s life earnings to 294,701€. “Trendy Trendy OK OK” put away second finishing Pantera del Pino (9f Turbo Sund-Desire’ del Pino) with G.P. Minnucci up and third finishing Sonia (7f Donato Hanover-Ele Code-Uronometro) handled by Rene’ Legati. The featured Gr. I G.P. Mipaaft Open (purse 440,000€, 2100 meters autostart) saw the favored Axl Rose (2m Love You-Linda di Casei-Uronometro) rally to win decisively for driver V.P. Dell’Annunziata. This colt is special, and he defeated another fine one Granon Vedaquais (2m Brilliantissime-Sesteire-Cezio Josselyn) with Andrea Guzzinati up, for trainer Philippe Allaire and breeder J.P. Guay. Third was the filly Anita Roc (2f Filipp Roc-CK Roc-Pine Chip). Well regarded Amelie Grif was fourth. Race time was 1.15kr. The G.P. Mipaaft Filly (Gr. II, purse 88,000€, 1600 meters autostart) saw the game All Wise As (2f Varenne-Temple Blue Chip-Cantab Hall), with Bjorn Goop driving, fend off the battling A Sexygirl PAR (2f Varenne-Fight For Lux-Toss Out) handled by V.P. Dell’Annunziata, clocked in 1.13.9kr. A Sexybomb PAR (2f Yankee Slide-Vivarissima PAR-Harvard Yard) was third. Harvard Yard, a stallion rarely seen on today’s programs, is a 1985 son of Speedy Crown-Somolli, a full-brother to the 1975 foaled Speedy Somolli and others from the mare including Mae Jean’s Crown, Seascape Lobell, and Santana Lobell. Somolli had 14 foals. Harvard Yard earned 114,767€ with a 1.13kr record, and bred mares in Italy from 1992-2003, producing only four winners of over 100,000€. The following news was also reported. Retired now are the well-regarded Twister Bi, Rod Stewart and Voltigeur de Myrt. Readly Express is being prepped for the December 30th Prix de Bourgogne and Villiam for the Criterium Continental, both at Vincennes and both carrying possible invitations to the Prix d’Amerique, the top three in Bourgogne and the winner of the Continental. Thomas H. Hicks

December 12, 2018 - A good harness racing program today at Paris-Vincennes included several upper level contests, a groupe monte test and the Q+ race pf the day. The Quinte+ event was the Prix Poitou-Charentes (purse 88,000€, 2850 meters, 16 starters). 16/1 Baraka de Bougy (7f Honginio-Piccata de Bougy) scored for Frank Nivard timed in 1.14.4kr for trainer Ch. Ecalard and owner Ecurie Brindor. This one recorded her sixth career win in 84 starts, now for 282,750€ earned. 6/1 Blooma d’Heripre (7f Rolling d’Heripre) was a rallying second with Eric Raffin up for trainer Gregory Thorel, ahead of the 34/1 Aribo Mix (8g Reve des Vallees), the 1.6/1 favorite Bacchos d’Ela and 32/1 Aero de Bossens. The exact order Q+ payoff was 19,768.80€ for a 2€play. The afternoon Paris-Vincennes feature was the Prix Auguste Francois (Gr. III monte, purse 110,000€, 2175 meters, 11 starters). 6.5/1 Boss du Meleuc (7g Lucky Blue-Rafales du Meleuc) scored easily timed in a quick 1.10.7kr for jockey Alexandre Abrivard. The Boss recorded career victory 16 in 58 outings for owner/trainer Yannick Alain Briand, to increase his life earnings to 569,100€. 9/1 Une Serenade (10f Gazouillis-Moonlight Serenade) was second for Eric Raffin and 13/1 Alpha Saltor (8m Paris Haufor) took third money with Matthieu Abrivard in the irons. Six-year olds battled in the Prix du Villers (purse 55,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 16 European starters) and the 1.11.4kr timed victory went easily to the 1.4/1 favorite Trinity Lux (6m Love You-Eternidad) in rein to trainer Jean Michel Bazire. Ecurie Connie owns this winner, his first in FR, and now a career winner of 199,595€. 9/1 Mellby Drake (6g Viking Kronos) was second with Matthieu Abrivard driving for Mellby Gard AB and trainer Robert Bergh. The 62/1 Aileron (6g Scarlet Knight) was third, trained by Bergh for In The Zone AB and piloted by Yoann Lebourgeois. The Prix de Blanquefort (purse 58,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 15 European starters) brought out a solid group of aged performers and the 3.9/1 odds winner was Romi Mms (8f Turbo Sund-Goldy LB), reined by Franck Nivard for owner Mitja Slavic and trainer Philippe Billard. The victory was the fifth in FR for the now winner of 255,516€, a mare that began her career in eastern Europe. Race time was 1.12.6kr as Romi Mms sprinted clear in the stretch after a third over trip in the second tier. 12/1 Alexis du Cherisay (8f Le Big Boss-Precious Thing) was second for Eric Raffin, ahead of 2.2/1 favorite Bise du Coglais (7f Prince Gede) with trainer Jean Michel Bazire at the lines. Thomas H. Hicks  

Trainer John Dickie is full of honesty and hope heading into the A$150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final with Speeding Spur. Because while the Kiwi trainer is honest enough to admit his millionaire trotter may have lost his sheer speed, he is also hopeful his stamina may snare him one of the most important races of Dickie's career. Dickie trains the now seven-year-old with his son Josh and after two wins in his three heats of the series Speeding Spur is the clear second favourite for the 2760m mobile at Melton on Saturday night. He has the advantage of the ace and at his peak of two or three years ago would be a dominant favourite but that honour instead lies with Tornado Valley, who was unbeaten in his heats. Dickie admits that is fair. "On their form in this series Tornado Valley has looked the best horse. "But that doesn't mean we can't beat him," says Dickie. "He is faster than us, which is how he beat us in the sprint heat at Ballarat last week. "Our fella doesn't have that sub-27 second quarter (400m) in him like he used to and that makes it hard to beat Tornado Valley. "But the distance and the draw helps us. "If we can hold the lead Josh (driver) will have options." The most logical of those would be making Tornado Valley work to get the lead and hope he gets fired up and leaves himself vulnerable at the end of a hard 2760m for Speeding Spur to grab him. He used those tactics against another speedier rival in Enghien in the Rowe Cup last April, handing up in the middle stages when many would have expected Speeding Spur to stay in front. After a long, brave career punctuated by at least two serious injuries Speeding Spur may simply not be as sharp as he used to be but he looks certain to get his shot on Saturday night if he is good enough. "But to do that we have to hold the lead early, so that will be Josh's first job." The Dickie family has been involved with elite level trotters for decades so the reinstatement of the trotting Inter Dominion after a six year hiatus is a huge deal for them. "To me the two biggest races in Australasia are the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominions. "Sure I would like it to be worth more money but if we win on Saturday night that won't bother us because I have wanted to win the Inter since I started training." Speeding Spur is the $3.30 second favourite behind Tornado Valley while in Saturday night's A$500,000 pacing final the money has come for Cruz Bromac, who has been the shortener on both sides of the Tasman, slightly pushing out the prices of fellow Kiwi favourites Spankem and Im Pats Delight. Michael Guerin

Akron, NY --- With the Batavia Downs harness racing meet coming to a close this Saturday (Dec. 15) the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced their horses of the meet. Horse of the Meet-In Runaway Bay N In Runaway Bay N (Mach Three-Pullover Brown) raced in the top pacing class at Batavia Downs 13 times in 2018, more than any other horse at the meet. From 17 total starts he won five, finished second twice and third five more times and earned $39,455. That total surpassed any other male pacer this season. He also defeated the legendary Foiled Again on Saturday (Sept. 21) in that great horse's last career appearance at the Downs. In Runaway Bay N is owned by Mark Jakubik, trained by Angelo Nappo and driven primarily by Kevin Cummings. Mare of the Meet-Sportsmuffler Sportsmuffler (Sportsmaster-Whatifthere'smore) competed in 14 Mares Open paces at Batavia Downs this year and won six of them. And when she won she did it with an exclamation point. In her 16 total starts this meet she also had three seconds and three thirds giving her an earnings total of $42,363 collected at the Downs. Sportsmuffler is owned by Rose Campbell, trained by Steve Kiblin and driven primarily by Billy Davis Jr. Trotter of the Meet-Lougazi Lougazi (Lou's Legacy-Winning Blade) had a rough start to the meet, making breaks with frequency. But in mid-September everything seemed to click and he turned into a monster. Making his way up through the classes, he hit the Open I and looked unbeatable there for a month. He won three in a row and four out of six and took a lifetime mark of 1:56.3 in the process. When the dust settled he had 14 starts with six wins, three seconds and one third and earned $38,231. Lougazi is owned by Mary Warriner, trained by Ryan Swift and driven by Ray Fisher Jr. Iron horse of the Meet-Empire Earl N Empire Earl N (Earl-Santa Nita) is a 10-year-old trotter who came to North America from the New Zealand in 2016. In the little over two years he's been racing here he has more than doubled his previous lifetime bank and almost tripled his wins as well. His steady work continued at Batavia Downs this meet where he raced 19 times, won four times, finished second six times and third four more. These efforts earned him $43,736 in purses. Empire Earl N is owned by Kim Asher, trained by the 2018 Rising Star Award winner Riley Asher-Stalbaum and driven primarily by Drew Monti. The connections of all four horses will receive their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14). By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

Chesapeake City, MD — Courtly Choice’s ownership group has decided that top harness racing three-year-old will race at age four. He was a fun horse to race and we are looking forward to racing him in 2019,” said Joe Thomson, Courtly Choice’s co-owner. “There are several stakes that we will be aiming for in the upcoming season. Courtly Choice’s trainer, Blake MacIntosh, had mixed feelings about standing him at stud. He discussed Courtly Choice’s future with each of the owners and they decided racing would be the better option. We decided to take the initiative to support Jeff Gural with the increase in Meadowlands purses,” said MacIntosh. The group believes that the work Gural has done to save the Meadowlands deserves their full support. We are also deciding to race him at four because we are unsupportive of the New York semen transport rule,” said Thomson. Thomson believes that mares shouldn’t have to be shipped in state to be bred. Several of the mares being booked to Courtly Choice were from outside the state of New York. The ownership group collectively apologizes to breeders who have already booked their mares. For more information, please contact Winbak Farm of New York at 845.778.5421. by Elizabeth Cheesman, Winbak Farm public relations

Friday night at Alexandra Park kicks off the two-year-old harness racing season with a strong field of ten starters in the $25,000 Breckon Farms Young Gun Series (Heat one). Three sons of champion stallion Bettor's Delight are entered, two by super stallion Art Major are entered and one by Sir Lincoln.Then three new stallions are represented for the first time, two by Sweet Lou, one by He's Watching and one by the local stallion, the three times New Zealand Cup winner, Terror To Love. All eyes will be on the progeny of the new stallions Sweet Lou, He's Watching and Terror To Love to see how their first starters perform. But the sponsor of the series Breckon Farms will have their eyes firmly fixed on number three in the race a colt called Prince Of Pleasure that they bred and sold at last year's Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000. Tony Herlihy was the buyer and he is the trainer of this promising colt that has already performed very well at two recent trials to date.  Prince Of Pleasure - 24th of November trials Prince Of Pleasure - 7th of December trials Prince Of Pleasure prior to last years sale as a yearling Prince Of Pleasure is by Bettor's Delight from the race winning Christian Cullen mare Holly Madison, herself a two-year-old winner. Holly Madison won five races in total and ran fourth to the Champion mare Adore Me in the $125,000 Great Northern Oaks in 2013. Prince Of Pleasure is the second foal from Holly Madison who traces back to the famed Black Watch family that is stoked with many many winners. Holly Madison is a sister or half-sister to seven winners and is from the good race winner and producer Tarena Jay, dam of seven winners. As sponsors of the Young Gun Series and breeders of first starter Prince Of Pleasure in the series, Breckon Farms have much to look forward too and much to anticipate as they also have a half-sister by Art Major to Prince Of Pleasure called Settle Petal that is entered as Lot 30 in the Inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka on the 18th of February 2019. The first three dams of Settle Petal are all winners and good producers. Her sire, the stallion Art Major needs no introduction. He has sired the winners of over $122 million in North America alone. In New Zealand he has sired the winners of over $13 million and in Australia he has sired the winners of over $51 million. Straight after The Young Guns Series on Friday night is another Breckon Farms sponsored race, the running of the $65,000 Peter Breckon Memorial Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the raging hot favourite in this race is the Art Major filly Princess Tiffany the unbeaten two-year-old from last season and the winner of nine of ten starts to date with $386,329 in the bank. And here is another feather in the cap for Breckon Farms as Princess Tiffany was born at Breckon Farms. This Friday night is promising to be a big night for Breckon Farms all round! For a full catalogue reference for Settle Petal click on this link. Harnesslink Media   Here is the full field for the Breckon Farms Young Gun Series (Heat One) BRECKON FARMS YOUNG GUNS SERIES (HEAT 1) MOBILE PACE  $25,000, 2YO, 1700m    Racebook    TabForm    Gear    Preferential Grid      For 2-year-old pacers. Preferential Barrier Draw Based on: Sex (fillies drawn inside colts and geldings) using the track grid. Refer series conditions. Book Form Age Sex     Name   Rating Draw Hdcp Driver Trainer   1   2 c     Perfect Stride   MR50 1 Front   R W Green   2   2 c     Art Christian   MR50 2 Front Logan Hollis L G Hollis & S M Robertson   3   2 c     Prince Of Pleasure   MR50 3 Front Tony Herlihy A G Herlihy MNZM   4   2 g     Double Or Nothing   MR50 4 Front   R W Green   5   2 g     Jeremy Wells     5 Front Tim Williams J D Harrington   6   2 c     Stavros The Terror   MR50 6 Front John Dunn P T Court   7   2 c     Sir Tiger   MR50 7 Front   R W Green   8   2 c     Smooth Deal   MR50 8 Front Mark Purdon M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen   ---------------------------- Second Line ---------------------------- 9   2 c     Mach Da Vinci   MR50 9 Front Joshua Dickie P T Court   10   2 c     Eagle Watch   MR50 10 Front Todd Mitchell M G Berger               Race 4 [7:25pm] BRECKON FARMS YOUNG GUNS SERIES (HEAT 1) MOBILE PACE  $25,000, 2YO, 1700m    Preferential Grid   For 2-year-old pacers. Preferential Barrier Draw Based on: Sex (fillies drawn inside colts and geldings) using the track grid. Refer series conditions.   1   Perfect Stride   MR50 Draw: 1 Hdcp: Front Driver: Ray Green, Pukekohe       Colours: Green, Cream Collar & Cuffs Comment: Strong Bettor's Delight trialist on debut. Brother to Chicago Bull. Key player. Breeding: 2 b c    Bettor's Delight-Chicago Blues(by Christian Cullen) [Chicago Bull 6g(Bettor's Delight), Rockabilly Blues 4m(Rock N Roll Heaven)] Breeder: F J Price, Mrs K V Price, F R Price, Mrs H L Price Owner: E & M Stride Corp.   Statistics: First Start     2   Art Christian   MR50 Draw: 2 Hdcp: Front Driver: Logan Hollis Logan Hollis & Shane Robertson, Pukekohe       Colours: Blue, Blue & Gold Striped Sleeves, Gold Cuffs Comment: Art Major newcomer. Third in a trial last Saturday night. Odds will be enticing. Breeding: 2 b c    Art Major-Ask Me Christian(by Christian Cullen) [Ask Me Santanna 8h(Santanna Blue Chip), Ask Me Art 7g(Art Official), Ideal Cullen 6g(American Ideal), Bettor Ask Me 5m(Bettor's Delight), Mainland Reactor 4m(Auckland Reactor)] Breeder: J P Rennie Owner: S M Robertson   Statistics: First Start     3   Prince Of Pleasure   MR50 Draw: 3 Hdcp: Front Driver: Tony Herlihy Tony Herlihy, Papakura       Colours: Black, White Outlined Star & Collar Comment: Bettor's Delight debutant that's trialled soundly. Cover on all combos tickets. Breeding: 2 br c    Bettor's Delight-Holly Madison(by Christian Cullen) Breeder: Breckon Farms Ltd Owners: J P Green, M Sullivan, G Taylor, Mrs I Taylor   Statistics: First Start     4   Double Or Nothing   MR50 Draw: 4 Hdcp: Front Driver: Ray Green, Pukekohe       Colours: Green, Cream Collar & Cuffs Comment: Sweet Lou newcomer that's shown potential at the trials and workouts. Each way. Breeding: 2 b g    Sweet Lou-Love A Gamble(by Bettor's Delight) [Let It Ride 5g(Rock N Roll Heaven)] Breeder: Ms A Van Der Beek Owners: Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd, R G Fleming, Mrs S B Fleming, N McAlister, R S Best   Statistics: First Start     5   Jeremy Wells   Draw: 5 Hdcp: Front Driver: Tim Williams Jack Harrington, Swannanoa       Movement: Domiciled at Pukekohe with Steven Reid Colours: Maroon, Gold Star & Armbands Comment: First starter by Sweet Lou. Fair attempts in last couple of trials. Rough hope. Breeding: 2 b g    Sweet Lou-Tricky Girl(by Bettor's Delight) Breeder: C J Roberts Owners: Jeremy Wells Gold Star Ladies Syndicate, Jeremy Wells, J A Cruickshank, Miss A V McKay, MSA Drinkers Syndicate, G Haley, Mrs K Haley   Statistics: First Start     6   Stavros The Terror   MR50 Draw: 6 Hdcp: Front Driver: John Dunn Paul Court, West Melton       Movement: Domiciled at Clevedon with John & Joshua Dickie Colours: Black, Red Braces & White Sleeves Comment: Terror To Love colt debuting. Trial form suggests a bold showing. Don't dismiss. Breeding: 2 br c    Terror To Love-Have A Look(by McArdle) [Eye Candy 4m(Stunin Cullen)] Breeder: T McDonald Owners: Georgian Bay Limited, B Rosie, A D Aitchison, B Rodger, M Pitman   Statistics: First Start     7   Sir Tiger   MR50 Draw: 7 Hdcp: Front Driver: Ray Green, Pukekohe       Colours: Green, Cream Collar & Cuffs Comment: Sir Lincoln debutant. Good 2nd to Perfect Stride in latest trial. Keep safe. Breeding: 2 b c    Sir Lincoln-Tigers Delight(by Bettor's Delight) [Shansdelight 7h(Mach Three), Ideal Tiger 4g(American Ideal)] Breeder: L A Turner, Mrs P L Turner Owners: Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd, K J Miller, S Beckett, K J Bell, M J Brereton, D James, Margaret Rabbitt, Excell Syndicate, Athenry Syndicate   Statistics: First Start     8   Smooth Deal   MR50 Draw: 8 Hdcp: Front Driver: Mark Purdon Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen, Rolleston       Movement: Domiciled at Clevedon with Barry Purdon Colours: Blue, Silver Grey Stars Comment: Bettor's Delight newcomer. Has shown enough in trials to consider despite draw. Breeding: 2 b c    Bettor's Delight-Linda Grace(by In The Pocket) [Linda Lovegrace 7m(Bettor's Delight), Gina Grace 6m(Bettor's Delight), Bettor Step Aside 4g(Bettor's Delight)] Breeder: Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Owner: Mrs J L Feiss   Statistics: First Start     9   Mach Da Vinci   MR50 Draw: 9 (2nd row) Hdcp: Front Driver: Joshua Dickie Paul Court, West Melton       Movement: Domiciled at Clevedon with John & Joshua Dickie Colours: Black, Red Braces & White Sleeves Comment: Art Major colt on debut that's unbeaten in 2 trials. Will garner heavy support. Breeding: 2 b c    Art Major-Mach's Love(by Mach Three) [Stun Gun 3c(Stunin Cullen)] Breeder: T McDonald Owner: S McDonald   Statistics: First Start     10   Eagle Watch   MR50 Draw: 10 (2nd row) Hdcp: Front Driver: Todd Mitchell Mike Berger, Cambridge       Colours: Light Blue, Yellow Hoop & Red Sleeves Comment: He's Watching debutant. Trial and workout form okay. He'll be at generous money. Breeding: 2 b c    He's Watching-Eagletons Girl(by Mach Three) [Eagle Dancer 3f(A Rocknroll Dance)] Breeder: S L Taylor, M G Berger Owners: S L Taylor, W L Wilson, M G Berger, Miss A Simpson, J A S Lancaster   Statistics: First Start      

Classy four-year-old pacing mare Bettor Joy has been sold for a substantial sum and will do her future harness racing in North America.  Bloodstock agent John Curtin confirmed Bettor Joy had been purchased and had in fact left New Zealand this last week to further her career in the USA. Curtin has recently sold a number of other high profile mares to North America through his company JC International including Shartin, Nike Franco and Seaswift Joy and he also negotiated the sale of champion stallion Lazarus earlier this year. Bettor Joy was purchased by Richard Poillucci and is to be trained by Jim King. This is the same combination that own and train Champion mare Shartin N 1:48.2 ($1,174,155) who is sure to be "Mare Of The Year" in North America and is a definite shot at making "Horse Of The Year" with a stunning record of 19 wins from just the 24 starts throughout 2018. Formerly trained in Canterbury by Cran Dalgety, Bettor Joy won 10 of her 28 starts and won several group and listed races while racing the best fillies and mares in New Zealand and Australia. Her best performance was in a recent start against the best horses in New Zealand when she ran fourth by two and a half lengths to Thefixer, Dream About Me who just a week later finish first and second in the $800,000 New Zealand Cup. The impeccably bred mare out of the eight race winner Joyfulbelle and by Bettor's Delight took a 1:54.6 mile rate when winning a heat of the Sire Stakes Fillies series but looks set to eclipse that time once she gets to the faster tracks in North America. When speaking to Cran Dalgety about the sale he said "A sad day has arrived that I have had to release my services of caring for this classic filly. Bettor Joy would have very restricted racing opportunities here in New Zealand as a four-year-old mare. Her racing life will now flourish in North America and she will make a huge splash up there on the race track." Bettor Joy - $80,000 Two-year-old Group 2 Delightful Lady Classic Bettor Joy - Sire Stakes Heat Bettor Joy - $81,000 Caduceus Club Ladyship Classic Bettor Joy - $160,000 Classic Ex-New Zealand horses are doing a great job in North America this year with a long list of winners and with Shartin in the running for "Horse Of The Year" honours, the export market will continue to thrive. Recent winners in North America sold by JC International can be viewed here. Harnesslink Media

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 11, 2018 -- Strawb's Chippie N zipped to the point and held tough in the lane to score in Tuesday's harness racing opening leg of a Holiday Claiming Series for $20,000 claiming filly and mare pacers at The Meadows. My Kind Of Dance captured the other $15,000 opening-leg split. The Meadows this week is kicking off six Holiday Claiming Series that conclude on a special New Year's Eve card that also features the career finale of Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred all time with earnings exceeding $7.5 million. First post Dec. 31 is 5:30 PM. Strawb's Chippie N had won two of her three previous starts on the front end, and her victory Tuesday for Aaron Merriman, trainer Mark Goldberg and owner Rags To Riches Of PA was much the same. She shrugged off the Lightning Lane challenge of Always A Z Tam and defeated her by 3/4 lengths in a sharp 1:53.2, with the first-over Ellasen third. The 7-year-old daughter of Stonebridge Regal-Strawb's Last Chip now has banked $115,385. It was one of four wins for Merriman on the 13-race program. Tuesday's card also included the opening leg of a series for $10,000 claiming filly and mare pacers. Deprived, Love Love Me Do and Spoxys Girl took the $8,000 divisions. Elsewhere on the program, Fox Valley Charm shook off the rust from a 2-1/2-month layoff and shot the Lightning Lane to win the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace, downing Camera Lady by 1/2 length in 1:54. Jewels Forreal completed the ticket. Brett Miller piloted the 6-year-old daughter of Yankee Skyscaper-Fox Valley Cherub, who lifted her lifetime earnings to $366,960, for trainer Dirk Simpson and owner Peter Karras. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The last time an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final was staged, it was 2012. It was staged in Melbourne at TABCORP Park, Melton. And the Kiwi’s got ‘Lucky” when brilliant squaregaiter I Can Doosit proved triumphant for champion horseman Mark Purdon. In fact, it was New Zealand domination with the first four placegetters all hailing from the Shaky Isles. Now, the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final returns to the feature race calendar and again, it will be staged in the garden state. The Gr.1 $150,000 TAB Inter Dominion Trotters Grand Final is the second leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and takes place this Saturday night. While the Kiwi’s are well represented, the locals hold the whip hand through the Andy and Kate Gath prepared Tornado Valley. Bred in New Zealand and raced by Queensland based Norm Jenkin, the Skyvalley gelding has been a revelation since being under the tutelage of the Gath couple. A clean sweep of his three heats has him listed as the punters elect and he’s hoping to join I Can Doosit who swept the 2012 series. But back in 2012, there was only two heats and a final. Throughout this year’s series, Tornado Valley has looked as safe as a bank with the only concern coming last weekend in his final heat after his hind leg bandage starting to unravel with 300m left to run. As it turned out, the star trotter never missed a beat. A winner of 16 of his 20 starts on Australian soil, Tornado Valley will start from gate six in the 2760m mobile start feature while his main danger, New Zealand star Speeding Spur has drawn the ace. Having met in the second round at Ballarat, Tornado Valley took glory with his all the way victory over his Kiwi rival. Interestingly, Tornado Valley led Speeding Spur in that event despite drawing on his outside. But Speeding Spur is a high quality performer, a trotter that is no stranger to the big stage. And his record at Melton underlines his class, with four wins from eight starts including features and excellent form throughout the series, it shapes as a classic Trans-Tasman battle. The stunning looking entire won two of his three heats while placed behind Tornado Valley in the other and the John and Josh Dickie prepared gun is looking to crack the million dollar mark if successful this weekend. While Tornado Valley and Speeding Spur have hogged the limelight throughout the series, several others are looking to take centre stage including several locally trained performers. And most have strong Inter Dominion connections. Legendary father/son combination of Graeme and Gavin Lang will combine with in-form trotter Save Our Pennys, a runner-up in all three heats throughout the series. Both Graeme and Gavin know what’s required to score an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final, they have five trophies combined. Back in 2012, they combined with Save A Sixpence who finshed 6th behind I Can Doosit. Save Our Pennys will start from gate three. Over the past 45 years, the name Lang has been synonomous with Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Finals. Astute horseman David Aiken is looking for success with the talented Big Jack Hammer, a runner-up in his past two heats. Again, the rising star will be handled by Kima Frenning and will start from gate five. While Aiken has lofted an Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final trophy, his best finish in a Trotting Grand Final is 5th (twice) with Twebby Twotter (2002) and Im Dejazzman (2012). Richly talented young horsemen Mick Stanley and Ryan Duffy are looking for their piece of history with the talented Sky Petite, but the mare will need to overcome gate seven. Former New Zealand horseman Brent Lilley is chasing his second Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final after scoring back in 2002 at Harold Park with Game Bid. Representing his stable is the North American bred evergreen Kyvalley Blur, the 11-year-old gelding will start from gate eleven. Kyvalley Blur scored a stylish heat victory in the second round of heats at Ballarat and will again be handled by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Speedy mare Red Hot Tooth is looking to provide Kari Males and Zac Phillips with their biggest triumph but face a massive challenge after landing gate thirteen. The Yankee Paco mare was placed behind Tornado Valley and Save Our Pennys in her final heat last week at Cranbourne. Andy Gath is duly represented in the final with Kingdom Come lining-up from gate ten, young Alex Ashwood will take the drive. The state of New South Wales will have a triple threat through the deeds of Rompers Monarchy (gate four), Tough Monarch (gate nine) and Wilmas Mate (gate twelve). Husband and wife combination of Joe and Mary Rando along with driver David Morris are hoping for their biggest success through Rompers Monarchy while Rickie Alchin is also chasing the ultimate prize with his talented performer Tough Monarch for the first time. Champion trainer Tim Butt, now based at Menangle, is chasing his fourth Inter Dominion Grand Final trophy after scoring previously with Lyell Creek and Take A Moment (twice). Back in 2012, he finished second with Vulcan behind I Can Doosit. Butt is preparing the talented mare for Christchurch trainer Paul Nairn, a winner of the 1995 Inter Dominion Grand Final with Call Me Now. And New Zealand horseman Phil Williamson is hoping it’s five times a charmwhen he sends out Monty Python, the talented gelding will start from gate two. Williamson has previously qualified Allegro Agitato (2005 – 12th), One Over Kenny (2008 – 7th) and Springbank Richard (2011/12 – 8th & 7th). The locally trained Illawong Armstrong is listed as the emergency runner, he will start from gate eight if he secures a start. The Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final is steeped in great history and and now another chapter is about to be written this weekend. Chris Barsby

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