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Where there's lights and music, there's always bound to be plenty of action, even in ageing legs! 12-year-old pacer Lights And Music has been turning it on recently and is right in the harness racing spotlight in country Victoria. The bay gelding, trained by dairy farmer Colin Godden with his wife Michelle, at Nanneella, a stone's throw north-east of Rochester, will be lining up for a hat-trick of wins at his next outing. Lights And Music (Jet Laag USA-Computerize NZ (Stand Together USA) is owned by Godden and his son James and landed the money at Echuca last week then followed up with a Maryborough success on Monday afternoon. Despite the impressive style of his Echuca victory in 1.57-5 (after coming three wide late for reinswoman Abbey Turnbull) punters failed to "hear the music at Maryborough", with the old timer again starting as a generous $19.90 chance. "He's actually been doing a pretty good job over the past few months because he hasn't been getting a lot of luck," Godden said. "But the girls have driven him well at his past two and things have gone his way a bit, which you need these days." Turnbull has forged a great association with the horse with four wins, a third and a fifth from six drives, but was unavailable at Maryborough. "Abbey had an exam at university and while she was disappointed she couldn't make it, she was excited for Tayla French to take the drive," Godden said. "Tayla has had a few goes on him for a second and a fourth, so it was fantastic for her to get a win on him. They'll pair up again at Bendigo on September 18 in a race that's restricted to drivers who haven't more than 10 lifetime wins." Besides Turnbull and French, many other Victorian junior drivers have a soft spot for the consistent and reliable "Jimmy" as he's known, who's given many emerging drivers race experience over his long career. Josh Duggan has won six on him and his fiance Monique Burnett, two. There's also been Tiana McMahon, Jack Laugher and Rhys Nicholson, one win each. Other juniors to have taken the reins include Kima Frenning, Ryan Duffy, Brad Chisholm, Lisa Bartley, Zac Phillips and Connor Ronan. Godden said along with a change of luck, a variation of the pacer's training regime perhaps also contributed to his resurgent form. "I used to swim them in a huge dam, but Jimmy would get quite petrified and start to panic," Godden said. "We decided to put a water walker in eight months ago and he loves it, so we don't do too much else with him now. It's taken the pressure off his joints and certainly given him a new lease of life," he said. "Our son James is an engineer, so he designed and constructed it. It's a bit over a metre deep and we have them going about power walking speed, and occasionally spin them around the opposite way. Going back against the 'current' really spikes their heart rate." The Godden family purchased Lights And Music for $1500 after he was sent by South Australian owners to be broken in by friend, veteran Elmore horseman Max Wishart. "He was a weedy, little fellow and the people who had first option decided against a purchase," Godden said. "We heard about it and ended up with him and after he had six months in a paddock, he showed us very early on that he could run. "Max helped us out a great deal. He drove him a lot at home and later we would fast work at his place. We raced him as a 2yo in March, 2010, and I drove him to thirds at Echuca and Charlton. "We put Daryl Douglas on at Maryborough and they won; he then had a spell and I drove him when he came back at Echuca, and happily landed the money." Godden has lived all his life in the Goulburn Valley community of Nanneella-the word thought to be an Aboriginal name for a local creek. The area was first settled as a pastoral run in the late 1800s and is today a mainly dairy-farming community with a population of 400. "We milk about 280 cows but don't have much water and feed is becoming very costly. Michelle always says harness racing is our outlet and our fun, because the dairy industry isn't looking all that flash at present," he said. And Lights And Music has been a reliable distraction for the popular and well-liked family, winning 27 races and 63 placings for over $160,000 in stakes. "He's a bit cranky at times - he'd rather bite you than say hello - but that's about his only vice. He's always been a nice horse and I doubt there's been a year gone past where he hasn't won for us," Godden said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

One of Victorian Harness Racing's success stories, the innovative Maryborough club, has some new faces at the helm. Long standing secretary-manager Les Chapman and track curator Mick Clover both retired at the end of the season after 50 years of dedicated loyalty between them. The club is best-known for its flagship event the Redwood All Trotting Carnival and it will be enthusiastic industry participant Michelle Eastman who takes over stewardship of the iconic event as the Maryborough club secretary-manager. Michelle holds an A Grade trainer's licence and has prepared horses with her husband Dale at nearby Shelbourne, for over 30 years, but most of her working life has been in the banking industry. "I certainly know my way around the Maryborough facility because we've raced and trialled here for a long time," Michelle said. "The people around the club are just fantastic. I'm so lucky to have landed the job and can't wait to get right into it." Already Michelle has several new initiatives and ideas in the pipeline. "The committee is a really positive group and I'm excited about trying to get more bums on seats. We hope to outsource our function centre, develop some innovations around our Cup and big Redwood weekend and do more with social media," she said. "Several people are working as volunteers here three days a week and another calls in a few days and takes care of the gardening. This is just awesome, and it's great to see them enjoy it because they love harness racing." Michelle is well-known as the former trainer of champion trotter Aleppo Midas, a winner of 16 races and $142,000. The mare is the dam of exciting young square-gaiter Alpha Male (5 starts for 3 wins, 2 placings and $64,000) prepared by Emma Stewart. Likable Mick "Pa" Clover is well-known at Maryborough, having a 35-year association at the club, the last two decades as track curator. He has also been the starter at regular trials for nearly nine years. "I've enjoyed it immensely and have worked with a lot of people over that time - but once Les Chapman took over as secretary, we just gone bigger and better," Clover said. "He's been a terrific administrator and the fact that everything runs so smoothly is due largely to him. The club, our race days, our cups and, of course, the Redwood carnival are all a credit to Les and the committee," he said. But Clover should not be selling his own contribution short, with participants across Central Victoria paying tribute to his work, ensuring the track surface is in optimal condition for speed and safety. His curator's role is just one of the many experiences the 80-year-old has crammed into his colorful life, from racehorse trackwork rider and strapper, to successful harness racing trainer-driver in both Queensland and Victoria. "I would have loved to have been a jockey, but I was always too big," Clover said. "I enjoyed working for the late Ernie Foster in the Western Districts. He used to look after the horses that were sent over to the war on the boats," he said. "One of the biggest influences in my life was legendary trots horseman Bill Davies. I went there to borrow a float, he offered me a job and I stayed for three years! "I learnt so much with Bill in that time because he was a good trainer, good feeder and taught me how to be a farrier. Another great teacher was Jack Moore, of Maryborough, who was also a very astute horseman. "Later I was talked into shifting up to Queensland by good friend and champion reinsman Keith Addison. He helped me out, along with Rod Belford. I used to go shoeing everywhere up there and then started getting more drives as a freelancer. "We leased a place at Deception Bay, starting with two horses and a year later that had blown out to 30. One of the highlights was representing Queensland twice in invitational drivers races and in the last one at Townsville I was victorious, beating them on a 30/1 shot." After 18 years in the Sunshine State, Clover returned south to Eddington and continued to be successful, particularly in discretionary standing-start races. He then moved to Carisbrook where he has been since with wife Cheryl. "We love caravanning, so we have a big trip over to Perth planned after Christmas. And of course, we enjoy following the career path of grandson James (Herbertson), who is shaping as a reinsman of the future." A favorite son at Maryborough in Tim Mortlock has taken over the role of track curator. Tim has a 40-year association in the sport with his late father Rob and grandfather Jack Hargreaves both successful horseman.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Humbletonian 2019 was a resounding success, with connections of nine first-time winners (all Vicbred eligible today) picking up significant bonuses and prizemoney at Maryborough. The bonuses were supplied by Harness Racing Victoria, Harness Breeders Victoria, the Maryborough Harness Racing Club and the Victorian Square Trotters Association. It's a day for the grassroots horses, and a day for the breeders to shine.  Congratulations to all the winners.  Let's recap how it all played out.   Race 1 – 3YO MAIDEN PACE Winner: Surbiton Hartbreak (Courage Under Fire-Queena Harts Lombo) Trainer: John Douglas Driver: James Herbertson Breeder: Mick Fryar Owners: John Douglas and Peter Ward   There are more wins in store for Surbiton Hartbreak after his Humbo win today. Reinsman James Herbertson was full of praise for the John Douglas-trained son of Courage Under Fire post-race “He’s a nice horse and I’ve always just tried to keep a lid on Johnny and try and not get his hopes up too much,” Herbertson said. “But he’s a pretty nice horse… if that 26.7 first quarter is right then yeah, that says it all.” The quarter was adjusted to 26.9, so close enough to concur with the young gun reinsman’s sentiments given he had to work to get the lead and was able to kick on boldly late.   Surbiton Hartbreak was bred by Mick Fryar, whose previous breeding successes include Courageous Affair (7 wins, $37k), Crown Dream (9 wins, $50k), Dream Mastar (1 win, $37k), Ima Showgirl (5 wins, $37k), Moonlight Dream (11 wins, $154k) and Royal Dream (7 wins, $56k).   Race 2 – 3YO MAIDEN PACE Winner: Carter Mayson (Auckland Reactor-Angel Spirit) Trainer: Philip Chircop Driver: Darby McGuigan Breeder: Susan Wegmann Owner: Susan Wegmann   Funnily enough Carter Mayson hadn’t started since Humbo 2018, but this year he went one better than his runner-up effort of 12 months ago, a tip-top training performance by Philip Chircop. “I’ve been driving him at the trials so I knew he was up to it,” said winning reinsman Darby McGuigan. “His first trial at Bacchus Marsh he hit the line really good and then last time, I led on him and we worked out the hard way that he doesn’t go in front.” McGuigan said winning any race involving a Vicbred bonus was “a great little kicker”, adding “everyone loves winning those”. Carter Mayson was bred by Susan Wegmann, who has previously bred winners including Aleppo Lady (13 wins, $80k), Classic Act (9 wins, $33k), Dreams Of Heaven (13 wins, $150k), Express Drive (6 wins, $24k), Frankincense (8 wins, $64k), Golden Showgirl (10 wins, $53k), Golden Zeus (13 wins, $39k), Iconic Valor (6 wins, $34k), Insulated (5 wins, $15k), Masweet Georgia (4 wins, $19k), Matty Chrimes (13 wins, $90k), Menin Gate (16 wins, $574k), Mighty Jasper (7 wins, $37k), Millah Joy (2 wins, $29k), Mon Soie (7 wins, $55k), My Bros Dreaming (8 wins, $38k), Nikkibadwagon (11 wins, $167k), Panorama Drive (13 wins, $67k), Princess Hayley (8 wins, $25k), Safe Decision (17 wins, $90k), Schouten Island (6 wins, $43k) and Soho Rockefeller (3 wins, $12k).   Race 3 – 2YO MAIDEN TROT Winner: Illawong Stardust (Muscle Hill-Lunar Landing) Trainer: Jodi Quinlan Driver: Craig Demmler Breeder: Martin Hartnett Owners: Martin and Kaye Hartnett   This filly, Illawong Stardust, might just be a little bit special, and she’s on track to potentially be a freakish three-year-old, according to winning driver Craig Demmler. “(She) could be very dangerous,” he said. “One thing I like is she’s got manners. She can relax, whereas (Illawong) Armstrong (the filly’s brother) can get on the bit a bit. “Hopefully she’s an Oaks horse. “I just wish she’d done that (behaved how she did today) on Saturday night … but she’s getting there. Jodi (Quinlan) has been very patient. I gave up after the Sires and said ‘put her out and let her grow’, but Jodi said ‘keep going’ which is the best thing we could have done. “It’s been brilliant for her manners … and the other night, galloping away and giving them a big start like that just kills you but it shows how much ability she’s got.” Breeder Martin Hartnett is well-known for producing the famous Illawong horses.   Race 4 – 4YO+ MAIDEN TROT Winner: Highway Huntsman (Yankee Spider-Coral Grace) Trainer: Chris Svanosio Driver: Chris Svanosio Breeder: Mick Grace Owner: Mick Grace   He’s only lightly raced but Highway Huntsman is making an impression early for trainer-driver Chris Svanosio. The son of Yankee Spider is bred and raced by trotting enthusiast Mick Grace, whose past racing stock include Tender Don (18 wins and $183k in stakes), Spidergrace (8 wins, $66k), Lindy Vale (7 wins, $44k), Maori Vale (eight wins, $35k), Big And Rich (11 wins, $32k), Annies Life (6 wins, $39k) and Bank On Betty (3 wins from 13 starts, $19k). “(I’m) glad he could put it all together today. He’s a pretty big, strong horse,” Svanosio said. “He’s one of those horses who will hopefully keep getting better and better with racing.”   Race 5 – 2YO VICBRED MAIDEN PACE Winner: Secret Identity (A Rocknroll Dance-Jerulas Shadow) Trainer: David Aiken Driver: David Aiken Breeders: Dot and Edith Schmidt Owners: Dot and Edith Schmidt   On a day where upsets came thick and fast, none were a bigger price than Secret Identity for Avenel’s David Aiken. The juvenile pacing filly by A Rocknroll Dance is out of an unraced Jennas Beach Boy mare named Jerulas Shadow, who has thus far produced four winners from four foals. At over $150 on one of the totes, Secret Identity got home too strong for Techys Angel and Minika. “We locked wheels last week and she’s tender in the mouth … when I grabbed hold she went up in the air, but she felt good after that,” Aiken explained post-race. “She’s a work in progress and she’s always been overgrown, so hopefully she’ll make a better three-year-old.” Secret Identity is raced by Edith and Dot Schmidt, whose previous successes in the breeding barn include Tidal Surge (2 wins, $35k) and Mach Diva (3 wins, $20k)   Race 6 – 2YO VICBRED MAIDEN PACE Winner: Allshookup (A Rocknroll Dance-Ballandella Baby) Trainer: Shayne Eeles Driver: Chris Alford Breeders: Shayne Eeles, Roslyn Eeles, Robert Viney and Jenny Viney Owners: Shayne Eeles, Roslyn Eeles, Robert Viney and Jenny Viney   Chris Alford moved just two wins from yet another career milestone, taking his tally to 6,998 with victory aboard Allshookup for trainer Shayne Eeles. The colt by A Rocknroll Dance enjoyed a beautiful run from the pole draw and got home over the top of first-starter Just Ralph by 3.6m. Allshookup was bred by the Eeles and Viney families.  Eeles hasn’t bred an enormous amount of horses, but has had success already with his breed including Bad Influence (two wins, $8k), Breakntherules (2 wins, $10k), Party Rocka (5 wins, $22k), Pushinupdaisies (7 wins, $42k) and Whosthatchick (7 wins, $44k). “I was a bit worried down the back but once I got the plugs out he got up and was really travelling,” Alford said. “He was nice and relaxed and had that little kick. He only had to come out at the top of the straight.”   Race 7 – 3YO VICBRED MAIDEN PACE Winner: Speed Dating (All Speed Hanover-Chick At The Bar) Trainer: David Miles Driver: Patrick Franklin Breeder: Patrick Franklin Owner: Patrick Franklin   Here’s one of those great harness racing stories of a horse bred, owned and driven by the one fella – Patrick Franklin. Franklin would have been thrilled with today’s windfall for his improving filly, who prior to today had just the one placing to boast from 13 starts. When the David Miles-trained pacer was almost 20m clear approaching the home bend, Franklin must have been grinning. Speed Dating kicked on at the finish to hold on by 3.5m over professional placegetter Jessies Girl, who is more than crying out to win a race.   Race 8 – 4YO+ VICBRED MAIDEN PACE Winner: Missus Matilda (Live Or Die-Andrea Hayley) Trainer: Graeme Dalton Driver: Chris Alford Breeder: Graeme Dalton Owner: Graeme Dalton   Graeme Dalton bred, races and trains black mare Missus Matilda, who was lining up for just her second race start at Humbo 2019. And she didn’t let backers who took the $1.30 down, surviving a scare narrowly from runner-up Clever Cowboy (half-neck margin) in the straight, and then a protest by Josh Duggan in the stewards’ room. In the finish Chris Alford proved the winning reinsman and took his tally within one of career win No. 7000. Some of the horses that Dalton has bred to win include Blended Family (8 wins, $38k), Pop Opera (7 wins, $18k) and Roslei Hilda (11 wins, $25k).   Race 9 – VICBRED MAIDEN 3YO TROT Winner: Dances (Bacardi Lindy-Im Tina Turner) Trainer: Donna Castles Driver: Donna Castles Breeder: Raelene Sweet Owners: Ken and Janice Wills   Dances, trained by Donna Castles, proved simply the best in the last race on the program, fitting given her dam was the memorably named Im Tina Turner. Bred by Raelene Sweet, who has previously had success in the breeding barn with Majestic Melody (six wins, $25k), Dances overhauled Zarem late to score by 1.1m. “She’s a nice little thing,” said winning trainer and driver Donna Castles. “She can get a bit hot but she really moved nicely today.” Franklin has bred four horses to date, three from his broodmare Chick At The Bar, with his other winner being Pick Up Line. Of today’s performance Franklin said:  “She’s a tricky filly to drive, and to train, and she’s tested our patience somewhat, but we found she’s probably better off in front if we could find the front. We’re very happy with her. I want to thank you to everyone involved. It’s a fantastic day.”   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media 

Passionate harness racing horseman Steve Cleave landed only his second-ever training double this week - six months on from his very first one, with remarkably the same pair of horses. "I've had a lot of doubles as a driver, but training doubles have been a bit elusive," Cleave said. "It was exciting and extra satisfying because we bred them and they're actually half-brothers." Cleave, who is based at Nulla Vale, on the edge of the picturesque Victorian town of Lancefield, won with Tre Cool (Village Jasper-Maximum Joy (Our Sir Vancelot) and Mirakuru (Shadow Play-Maximum Joy (Our Sir Vancelot) at Maryborough on Wednesday afternoon. "While Tre Cool should develop into a handy sit-sprinter, I'm hopeful of Mirakuru going a long way. He has a lot of potential," Cleave said. The two previously saluted at Bendigo on February 5 this year - a belated birthday present the day after the astute trainer-driver's 43rd birthday. On or off the track, four-year-old gelding Mirakuru cuts an imposing figure, standing at an impressive 16.3 hands and consequently races in a massive 64-inch hopple. Mirakuru strides to the line an easy winner at Maryborough Cleave said it was always special when either Tre Cool or Mirakuru performed well. "They are out of the broodmare Maximum Joy, which is named after my parents Max and Joy, who I lost in 1995," he said. The couple were tragically killed in a car accident on their way from Bendigo to Melbourne to watch their son compete in a Victorian Young Drivers' Championship. Cleave, with the support of friends, has certainly shown resilience and determination to push on from the tragedy and carve a name for himself in the sport. "Along with my partner Lorraine, we have been steadily working on setting up a new place on 54 acres on top of the Great Dividing Range," he said. "The place was a blank canvas when we purchased it about 12 months ago, so we are slowly getting there," he said. "There's now a 1000 metre track with a 13-metre incline over about 450 metres. That certainly means they do some work when they are jogging, but I'm rapt by the way it toughens them up. "We will have a big barn, but I prefer to have good fencing and have all the horses live outside and be trained from the paddock." Take a look around the newly-developed Cleave property here: The stable has five horses at the moment, but operating under the Cleave Racing banner, they hope to increase this through new owners. Cleave said owners would be welcome to visit the property anytime and watch their horses being put through their paces. "It really is fun and exciting to be involved, even more so when you get the joy of winning."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

YOUNG Kiwi trotter Ultimate Stride has another Group 1 at his mercy. Off the back of his dominant Group 1 Redwood win, Phil Williamson’s colt strolled home in his Breeders Crown qualifier at Maryborough last Thursday. And, most significantly, he thrashed Powderkeg, the trotter considered his main threat in next Saturday night’s final at Melton. Ultimate Stride is a $1.65 Aussie TAB favourite from outside the front row (gate seven) in Saturday night's Melton final. In the qualifier, Powderkeg whizzed to the front, but in an obvious show of respect for Ultimate Stride’s talent, trainer-driver Lisa Miles was content to surrender the front to Anthony Butt when he challenged at the 1600m with Ultimate Stride. Instead of it being a contest, Ultimate Stride surged clear without being extended in the run home to win by 11.1m in a slick 2min0.5sec mile rate for the 2190m. The other heat when to emerging local Is That A Bid. Although he won by a big space, his time was a much slower 2min3.8sec mile rate. Is That A Bid has the pole in the final and is $3.20 second elect. Powederkeg is a $8.50 shot from gate three. Williamson’s other raider, Liberty Stride, ran a terrific second in quick time (1min59.9sec for 2190m) in her three-year-old trotting fillies’ heat behind Brent Lilley’s former Kiwi, Sunnys Little Jestic. Despite being out of the draw (so starting from outside the back row), Liberty Stride is still $2.80 Aussie TAB favourite for the final. I Am Pegasus is $3.40 from gate nine, while Emerald Stride is next at $6.50 from barrier 10. The highlight of the trotting heats was a star-studded first heat of the 3YO colts and geldings division. Breathtaking Victoria Trotters’ Derby winner Majestuoso was beaten but still went like a jet when a head second to speedy All Cashed Up, who led throughout for trainer Anton Golino and driver Glen Craven. All Cashed Up zipped home in 57.2 and 28.5sec, while Majestuoso came from near last and clocked to run a 56.1sec last half. But his chances for the final were hurt when he caused a false start in the heat and was placed out of the draw. Kiwi raider Kratos had to do the work outside All Cashed Up, but they didn’t go hard and he disappointed slightly by tiring for an 11.9m fifth. Majestouso starts from outside the back in the final, but has already firmed from $2.50 to $2.20. Xebec drew the pole and is $4 as likely leader, while Kratos' final hopes were boosted by gate eight, meaning he should trail Xebec. He's also $4. _______________________________________________________________________________ THE buzz continues to build around Gary Hall Sr’s latest young Kiwi import Wildwest. He’s raw and green, but boy he’s got some talent. Wildwest toyed with a moderate field and didn’t run much time, but it was more the arrogant way he did it again at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The son of Raging Bull is unbeaten in three runs and ranked right up with stablemate and WA Derby winner Major Trojan as Hall Sr’s best Golden Nugget hope for later this year. It was also great to see potential Grand Circuit player Vampiro returned to form with a win in the August Cup at the Gloucester Park meeting. The five-year-old, having his third run this campaign, did a terrific job to sit outside and snatch victory from favourite and leader Our Corelli in a slick 1min58.8sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. _______________________________________________________________________________ HOW often to touted “match races” unfolded very differently? That was the case at Melton last Friday night in the Minuteman free-for-all where proven topliner Buster Brady and emerging star Born ToRocknroll were tipped to fight it out. Instead, both missed a place and the race was won narrowly but impressively by the underrated Jilliby Bandit in a slick 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2240m. There was plenty to like about the runs of classy Berisari, who was beaten a nose into second spot, and the promising Rackemup Tigerpie, who was another a neck away third. Born To Rocknroll and Buster Brady both burned out of wide gates and set-up a blistering 42.1sec which left them vulnerable late. While Born To Rocknroll held on quite well for a close fifth, Buster Brady was spent before the home bend and dropped right out to be 25m away in last spot. The run was too bad to be true, albeit Buster Brady was first-up, and stewards ordered vet tests be taken.   Adam Hamilton

Haras des Trotteurs and their line of French trotting sires won half the Breeders Crown heats at Maryborough this week. Leading the way was debutant sire Quaker Jet who set the ball rolling with an amazing trifecta in the opening race of the day. Despite a relatively small crop of just 24 2YOs, the son of Love You saw his daughters Im Ready Jet, Imamaorijet and Dizzysjet kick clear of the pack at the 400m mark and finish, one, two, three in the ABC 2YO Trotting Fillies First Heat. To watch this race click here. Two races later Love You’s latest star colt Ultimate Stride, a sale topper in New Zealand last year, carried the colours of Emilio and Mary Rosati to victory in the first of the ABC 2YO Colts and Geldings heat. The Redwood Classic winner made light work of his wide draw, sitting three wide early before taking over down the back straight. Given a breather by Anthony Butt, Ultimate Stride then turned up the wick at the 400m and proved far too strong for his rivals, clearing away for a most impressive win. To watch this race click here. All Cashed Up, by the leading French sire Ready Cash, was back to his best in the Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings first heat. All Cashed Up used his gate speed to lead from the gate, and set a quick tempo, kicking in the straight to hold off a fast finishing Victoria Trotting Derby winner Majestuoso to create a 3YO trotting record and the second fastest ever time (to Tornado Valley the week before), at the Maryborough track. To watch this race click here. His stablemate Xebec, by Orlando Vici, the fourth French sire to record a winner on the day, was then a convincing winner in the second heat, after making his bid 400m from home and staying on strongly to the line to win by 3,3m with 33m back to the third horse. To watch this race click here. Xebec was one of Orlando Vici’s first crop of 11 3YOs which has produced an astounding 9 winners, and which has the stallion placed second on the Australian 3YO Trotting rankings. His 3YO filly Orlando Storm also qualified for the finals with an eye-catching run for second behind Emerald Stride in the first 3YO fillies heat. Dave Sanders

An enormous day awaits for Anton Golino at Maryborough tomorrow, one which offers great hope but the ever-present threat of trotting heartbreak, with his Yabby Dam Racing stable presenting 15 in TAB Breeders Crown heats. While safe progression through to the August 24 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton is the primary aim, Golino is hopeful a few of his well-bred Pat Driscoll-owned trotters will confirm their contender status. And the Ballarat trainer said there was also opportunity for some, like Aldebaran Park two-year-old colts and geldings' contestant Avimore, to finally show their true colours. "To be honest, (Avimore's) probably one of the better ones of mine on ability," Golino told the Inside Word podcast. But owing to manners ability hadn't yet transformed into race performance, having finished seventh or eighth in his four starts when he's either broken gait, started poorly or tailed off. "I think he will be OK," Golino said. "We have changed a few little things on him and I had a look at the gate the other day with him and he seemed to be quite good. Just get him out the gate and after that he should be fine." Avimore is one of three runners Golino has in the class, sharing the second heat with stablemate Gun Slinger, who will start from inside the back row in and "will need luck" but is "a nice colt". "Hopefully we can get no bad luck and he can get through and qualified and draw a bit better in the final," Golino said. Avimore is listed a $41 chance with and Gun Slinger at $6. The other Yabby Dam runner, Quake Proof, is in the first heat, where he's listed a $41 shot in a market dominated by Redwood Classic winner Ultimate Stride. "He was a little bit of a handful there early and we had to drive him (so) he wouldn't get too revvy, a couple of times he showed us that he could get home real good," Golino said. "If he's handy enough, he will be there amongst them. He's a pretty nice horse, that said, I think next season he will be a real good horse."   HRV Trots Media

Ballarat based harness racing trainer Norm McVitty has enjoyed being a spectator at Maryborough's big Redwood day for a long time - but last weekend's fixture just "took the cake". "I just love the square gaiters and I guess I've been going to the Redwood for about the past 20 years," McVitty said. "I'm still in shock to be honest. About a week before I was going to again be attending as usual as an onlooker. I then I found myself going as a trainer with a horse competing for the first-time ever!" And thanks to a brilliant drive by ace reinswoman Kate Gath, the fairytale had the perfect ending. After getting Magic Owens (Great Success-African Magic (Kadabra) away quickly from the 10 metre tapes in the $9000 Carisbrook Reserve Trustees Handicap Final, Gath weaved in to settle on the back of the leader. The pair saluted at bolter odds of $44.80, courtesy of using the sprint lane and dashing to the line. McVitty, a butcher by trade, only ever trains a few at a time, but is highly regarded as an astute conditioner. "Probably a young friend Connor Clarke deserves much of the credit. He grew up around the sport and he's so keen and enthusiastic," McVitty said. "I told him to find one, something to take to the races so that he could learn on it because he's going for his driver's licence," he said. "He jumped on the phone and rang around looking for a horse to buy and fortunately come up with Magic Owens." The five-year-old trotter was previously trained by Bendigo trainer Alex Ashwood, for a Tasmanian owner. "Magic Owens ran fourth in a heat of this race late last month and qualified for the final so that was pretty exciting," McVitty said. "My family now race the horse in partnership with Connor, so it was a big thrill for all of us to be at the Redwood meeting with a horse and an even bigger one to win a race that's for sure." Norm McVitty at home with Magic Owens McVitty said he fast-worked Magic Owens with his nine-win pacer Our Sir Oliver on the Tuesday and Thursday prior to Sunday afternoon's meeting at Maryborough. "He went super. Of course, we are all kicking ourselves now that we didn't put a lot of money on him," he laughed. "Connor asked me if he could offer the drive to Kate as he's down there helping Kate and Andy any spare moment he gets. Needless-to-say Kate jumped on and I was happy because she's a lightweight and a top driver." McVitty said he had been friends with both Connor's dad Stephen and grandfather Jim for many years. "I started off training about the same time as Jim. Funnily enough the only other trotter I have ever had was named Move On Sparky and I told the owner to give it to someone else like Jim, who loved the square gaiters," McVitty said. "I didn't dislike them; I just wasn't sure how they needed to be shod. Anyway, Jim got the horse going and won eight races with it in the late 80s and early 90s." McVitty said his work as a butcher was usually 4a.m to 11a.m, which allowed him the time to train a few horses in the afternoon. "The other one I'm racing, Our Sir Oliver, was a cheapie but has turned out okay with nine wins and 14 placings. His also won last time at Maryborough (and his two previous to that) on July 15 when Darby McGuigan was the driver," he said. It certainly seems that McVitty and Maryborough go hand-in-hand at the moment!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

If John Caldow can steer Georgias Pride to victory in tomorrow's Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters Derby, expect her trainer Mario Magri to promptly take a look to the heavens. It's been a tough few years for the Melton-based horseman, who has had to farewell four close members of his family. So while success in the $75,000 feature will be a handy little pay day, it will certainly mean a whole lot more than that for a man yet to taste Group 1 glory. "If we do win it, I'll be looking at the skies - at my wife, my mum and dad and my brother - and I'll say 'we've done it at last'," he said. Georgias Pride is named after Magri's late mother, who urged him to end his hiatus from the sport and get back into the game before she passed away in 2016. After training 27 starters in season 2014-15, Magri wouldn’t take another to the track until March 28 of 2018 when Georgias Pride won on debut. From there, the daughter of Bacardi Lindy has won six more races and run placings in five group-level events. Magri has come close, but just can't crack it for that big-race winner. "I've run seconds and thirds but I can't win the Group 1 and I've been in the game since I was around 17 years old," he said. "I turned 60 last week so it's been a long time. We keep trying but you know how hard it is out there. "When my wife (Rosemary) was at the hospital, she said to me: 'whatever you do, be strong with the horses. I'm going to be there helping you train the horses'." Magri said Caldow had high opinions of the horse, which is owned by his son Leigh Magri and nephew Jacob Camilleri. "He's amazed himself she has not won a Group 1 race," Magri said. "If it's not Sunday, there's another time." Magri said Georgias Pride, a last-start runner-up to I Am Pegasus in the Vicbred Super Series Final (3YO Trotting Fillies), had a "good chance" in the Derby (2690m). "The distance is going to suit her because the longer the race is, the better she goes," he said. "If she gets behind the leader or a cosy run, I think she'll be there at the finish." From barrier one, Georgias Pride is rated as one of the key chances in Sunday's race at Maryborough, but will have stiff opposition from a host of rivals, many drawn alongside her off the front row. New Zealander Liberty Stride is likely to start favourite after an impressive last-start win at Shepparton, New South Wales and Victoria Trotters Oaks winner Royal Charlotte is another big danger, as is Vicbred Super Series Final (3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings) champion Kyvalley Clichy, Anton Golino-trained All Cashed Up and Andy Gath's winning machine Majestuoso. The Victoria Trotters Derby is race eight on Sunday's 10-event program and is scheduled for 4.04pm.   Tim O'Connor HRV Trots Media

Win, lose or draw, St Arnaud harness racing legend Frank Evans will still be beaming during the two-day Redwood Carnival at Maryborough, one of the premier events for the season. Eighty-nine-year-old Evans, a gentleman of the sport, will again be part of the electric atmosphere with a runner at today's opening meeting at Carisbrook Raceway and then again on Sunday. The carnival, bookmarked on the calendars of harness racing participants and fans across Australia, promises to be the best ever staged. There will be two days of first-class racing with 21 exciting square-gaiter events, involving 96 horses today and 94 trotters two days later. The eagerly-anticipated carnival is as much about the color and heritage of square-gaiting as it is about the more than quarter of a million dollars in prizemoney on offer. But Frank Evans' daughter Kaye Boyd said for her dad, it's about both! "It's a bit of an annual tradition for dad, and he's been talking about this year's Redwood Carnival for weeks now," she said. "He's always been into trotters and he'd be greatly disappointed if he didn't have a runner in one of the races. "He wouldn't miss it and thinks it's a fantastic concept. But I can honestly say that at first, he didn't think it would take off." It was back in the 1980s when the Victorian Square Trotters Association put the carnival concept to Maryborough Harness Racing Club, a strong supporter of trotters. Needless-to-say the club jumped at the chance and the ever-popular celebration of the trotter was born. The Redwood name is well-known and highly respected throughout the industry, going way back to the early days of harness racing in Victoria. The historic $50,000 race on Sunday is named after Hugh Redwood, a former VSTA president and founding member. Evans, who still trains from his base on the edge of the St Arnaud township where he's been for the past 40 years, will be hoping Our Ivy (Muscles Yankee US-Nandy Noot NZ (Malabar Maple USA) puts her best foot forward. The brown filly will today contest the Garry Angus Memorial 2YO Maiden Trot, with Ararat horseman Michael Bellman taking the reins. Evans purchased the trotter at the sales and named it after his late wife, Margaret Ivy, who passed away two years ago this November. "Dad reckons the Redwood attracts the older fraternity of the industry and I know there is lots of reminiscing and catching up with friends," Kaye said. "We have a laugh because he talks about this 'old guy', and that 'old fella'-but most of the time they're younger than him!" Kaye said. "But they are just great days. Dad is still enjoying good health, not that he's one to complain. He doesn't like that sort of stuff. "He could certainly tell some stories because he's lived a colorful life and been a jack of all trades. Among many jobs he was a drover, then tried his hand as a butcher and trained horses for other people." Evans has trained 140 wins and 194 placings for more than $615,000 over the years. He would be best recognized for his achievements with trotters and one that comes to mind is grey filly Lunar Lass who took out the Victorian Derby and Oaks years ago. She finished with 10 wins and 8 places from 33 starts. The likeable horseman had his last drive at Horsham on February 17, 2014, on a horse he bred named Upandgone (Yankee Paco USA-Misty Gift (Straphanger USA). The chestnut mare was unplaced on that occasion but did finish with 8 wins and 23 places. And although his focus is on the carnival at the moment, Evans is looking eagerly towards future Redwood Carnivals, having a yearling in his stable sired by boom French stallion Love You (Coktail Jet-Guilty Of Love (And Arifant), whose progeny are winning top trotting races all over the world. Kaye, who's been secretary at St Arnaud Harness Racing Club for 15 years, is currently on a family holiday interstate and won't be trackside with her dad. "I'm kicking myself, but I'll be watching it on television."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Len Maher has enjoyed his fair share of success through his nearly 60 years involvement in harness racing. And while has enjoyed plenty of bigger wins than that of Declan Henry's maiden victory at Maryborough on Monday, few have been as special for the now 85-year-old. A nine-year-old trotter with 20 previous starts for just two minor placings, Declan Henry was initially Len's son Graeme's horse. Graeme - a former Bendigo Harness Racing Club track manager and trainer-driver - sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2017, with Declan Henry being leased out the previous year. Len said it was Graeme's wish that his father continued training and hoped that Declan Henry would some day win a race. That break through arrived on Monday. To watch the replay of this race click here. "The horse was special to Graeme, he got him up and going," Maher said. "We had him out on lease, but he didn't win a race. "I got him back and got him going and I thought 'I'll do this for Graeme' and we've won a race with him. "That was our aim, which is what we set out to do .... it was beautiful. "Graeme was desperate for him to win a race and we did." Monday's win ended a run of four-straight fourth place finishes since Maher resumed the training duties with Declan Henry. The veteran trainer praised Chris Svanosio's steer aboard the bay gelding. "Those fourths, he was always a bit slow away and was at the tail of the field trying to get around them, whereas on Monday, he had a good run, got a nice spot in the race and was able to finish it off nicely," Maher said. "He's a nice driver Chris - he looks after the horses and does a great job with them. "I am not going to say if there are more wins in (Declan Henry), our aim was one and we've done it. There are no grand plans with him. If he can win another win it's a bonus." The win culminated a big few days for the Maher family. It followed a posthumous award win for Graeme for meritorious service from the Australian Harness Racing Council. That followed an emotional win earlier this year for reinsman Haydon Gray in the Grame Maher Memorial trot at Lord's Raceway in February. Gray and young trainer Maddie Ray use the Maher's property at Junortoun, next door to Lord's Raceway, as their training base. Another sentimental moment for the Maher family is expected to arrive some time this year, when the affectionately named trotter Graemes Wish, who is currently trialling, makes his race debut. "You can imagine what that (name) means," he said. "It was Graeme's wish that I go on with the horses and that's why we called him that. "He's got a bit of a way to go yet, but he will get there." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Champion Victorian harness racing driver Chris Alford admits he had his fingers crossed when he travelled to Maryborough on Thursday to drive exciting first-starter Kyvalley Chief. The three-year-old colt (Muscle Hill-Love Ya Doosie (Love You), raced by KPC Racing, had shown some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies at the trials – a touch unpredictable, but brilliant on his best behaviour. “There’s no doubting his ability – when he decides to put his best foot forward, he does it effortlessly,” Alford said. Punters sent Kyvalley Chief out as a $3 chance with the Gavin Lang-trained and driven Classy Spirit assuming favouritism at $2.10. With several of the youngsters not bringing their best manners and breaking at the start to cause interference, HRV starter Doug Gretgrix, officiating at his final meeting after 21 years, had no option but to call the first attempt of the race a false start. “I was a bit lucky because Kyvalley Chief was in a cranky mood. He galloped in the score-up, wouldn’t trot properly and was trying to go sideways, so I did have my hands full,” Alford said. “Without doubt, had they gone I’d have been 200 metres behind them. “But fortunately, in the second attempt he went up like a complete gentleman and we trotted to the lead.  He went fantastic.” Kyvalley Chief won by 19 metres from Classy Spirit, with a massive 51 metres back to Zarem in third spot with quarters of 30.8, 31.4, 29.5 and 31.3 for a rate of 2.03. “It was annoying that he played up the first time, but thankfully he made amends time and went similar to his Bendigo trial four days earlier.  He was on his best behaviour there and won in a jog and in a pretty handy time.” Alford said Kyvalley Chief, despite having a handful of trials and heaps of education, was probably still “a big immature boy”. “He’s certainly a work in progress, but he’s got heaps of raw ability so hopefully it will all come together for him soon.” To watch a video replay click here. Kyvalley Chief was bred by Breckon Farms, who have a full brother to Kyvalley Chief at this year's inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka, Auckland, on the 18th of February. He is Lot 53, Doosie Do by Muscle Hill from Love Ya Doosie. For the catalogue pedigree click here. Doosie Do From the race winning Love You mare Love Ya Doosie (T, 2.7.5, 2 wins, $12,375) who is a half-sister to champion trotter, 9-time Group 1 winner and 4YO Trotter of the Year, Trotter of the Year (twice), Harness Horse of the Year and Australian Trotter of the Year I Can Doosit (T, 1.55.5; 36 wins, $1,445,774,), Group 3 winner and Group 2 placed Sno's Big Boy (T, 1.58.4, 15 wins, $215,309), Heezadoo Early (T, 2.06.9, 5 wins, $46,866) and Yankeedoosie (T.3, 2.05.2, 4 wins, $43,999). Second dam is the broodmare gem and dual Broodmare of the Year sheezadoosie (T, 2.04.2, 7 wins, $48,632) who is the dam of 6 foals to race, 6 winners and the granddam of the promising Forget The Price Tag (T, 2.04.9, 2700m, 2 wins & 2 placings from just 6 starts, $21,703). From the family of Golden Blend (T, 1.55, 33 wins, $294,630), Group 2 winner Aldebaran Ay M (T, 1.58.8, 9 wins, $72,419), Group 1 placed Aldebaran Southland (T, 2.00.1, 12 wins $67,332), Breena Almahurst, Brighton Lobell, Noble Hustle, American Hustle, Hardesty, Noble Traveller etc Kyvalley Chief was the first leg of a winning treble for master reinsman Alford at the Maryborough meeting. He followed with victories in the 4yo and older trot with Flash Kyvalley (Skyvalley-Cashel Dagha (Pine Chip) and a heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series with Bettor Be Sorry (Bettors Delight-Whos Sorry Now (Western Ideal). Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The 2018 Seelite Windows and Doors Maryborough Trotters Cup brings together converging formlines from right across the state. While horses like Father Christmas, King Denny and Fabrication are returning from tackling the TAB Inter Dominion, there are others that haven’t been through the rigors of that series. One of those is the Brad Stevens-prepared Endsin A Party. A Yabby Dam Racing McNamara Memorial Geelong Trotters Cup winner two starts back, he thrived over the staying trip when able to lead all the way to defeat Inter Dominion contender Save Our Pennys. “I’m sure Save Our Pennys wasn’t fully wound up but it was nice to see him go so well through the Inter Dominion,” Stevens said. “I’d love to see him in one of these longer races be able to sit back and use his speed when they are running along. He definitely doesn’t need to lead; it’s all tempo dependent.” The story of how the gelding came to be with Stevens is one of sheer luck. For all intents and purposes the horse was ready to move interstate before a late change. “He was up for sale and someone from Sydney was buying him but the sale fell through so we were lucky enough to get him in the end,” Stevens said. “I’m pretty good mates with Matty Gath so I knew the horse had ability and he told me it had ability so it was just a matter of trying to convert it into winning races.” With a bright future ahead, the son of Pegasus Spur won’t be aggressively targeting the $10,000 Maori's Idol Trotting Championship - awarded to the leading trotter across the season's country cups - despite sitting prominently on the leaderboard. Instead his trainer plans to race him sparingly over the summer to get the most out of his steed. “We might look at the Cobram Trotters Cup after this and then maybe a break, I think he probably races his best when we keep him fresh,” Stevens said. Father Christmas is currently the $4.60 TAB Fixed Odds favourite for the Maryborough Trotters Cup with a wide array of chances in the market including Fratellino ($5), The Boss Man ($6), Destinee Jenilou ($6), Fabrication ($7.50) and Egee Money ($10). Endsin A Party has firmed from his opening price to be a $19 chance.   Blake Redden

Maryborough’s final straight presents as a field of dreams for Thursday’s Humbletonian, when 10 of the 95 contestants will break their maiden status. The combatants have collectively contested 679 races without success, but that could all change with the Harness Breeders Victoria-sponsored day and the wait will make the work all the more worthwhile. None have been there and not done that more times than Rebecca Wardlaw’s much-loved mare Sucralose, the Village Jolt four-year-old who’s gone oh-so-close with 10 placings in her 42 starts. “She’s been knocking on the door,” trainer Wardlaw said. “She was a real puller, she would just over race all the time and it has taken a lot to get her to settle. “She would always throw in a gallop right when you need her not too. She’s so close to winning it’s not funny. She loves to run, she just can’t quite get everything right on the day. But she’s just an awesome little horse.” The mare has been in Wardlaw’s keeping for all her starts, having been snapped up after Rebecca’s husband, Stephen, and Wallace Van Niekerk, his workmate at Pyrenees Hay Co-Operative in Avoca, hatched the plan amid their long and varied chats during late-night shifts. It’s a plan that seems certain to soon reap significant dividends, with Sucralose finishing top four in his last six starts including a second placing in the hands of Chris Alford at Kilmore on July 25. “At Kilmore I thought that one was going to be ours,” Wardlaw said. “We were so close.” The trainer’s optimism extends into Thursday’s Humbletonian, when Sucralose will contest race eight – the Harness Breeders Victoria Vicbred Pace – with Mark Hayes to take the reins from gate nine. “I think she’s got a pretty good chance on Thursday,” Wardlaw said. “I prefer her on the outside, hopefully she will run through behind Chris Alford and be somewhere close when it counts at the end.” For those who do salute the rewards will be many. All are Vicbred eligible, so victory for those aged two, three and four would secure their full $7000 bonuses, and in addition Harness Breeders Victoria will gift a $250 bonus to each winner’s breeder and the Victorian Square Trotting Association a further $250 to its successful members who are on course. “I think it’s fantastic,” Wardlaw said. “We’ve got one more crack at it and are hoping to break through. It’s a great initiative at a great track that gives everyone a good opportunity.” In addition to breaking her horse’s maiden the second last day of the season also gives Wardlaw a final chance to break a maiden of her own, having been winless in her 111 starts in 2017-18. “I have had a tough year. If I was to break through I’d be ecstatic,” she said. While success hasn’t been forthcoming it hasn’t dulled her families’ passion for the sport. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as a Clerk of the Course and husband, Stephen, has for 30 years been a track attendant at Maryborough. “We run our own farm, cut our own chaff and grow our own hay and then harness racing is what we do as a family. Some days it’s hard, but we wouldn’t do anything else.” Michael Howard

Always Ready rewrote Maryborough's record books with a blistering run in the final Breeders Crown heat, setting the stage for a ripping finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Thursday's heats at Maryborough narrowed the Breeders Crown contenders for the prized finals on August 25, with $90,000 up for grabs in the two-year-old classes and $75,000 in the three-year-olds. None were more impressive than Yabby Dam Farms trotter Always Ready, with the Vicbred and Tatlow Stakes winner and Redwood Classic runner-up stopping the clock at a 2:00.8 mile rate, cutting a second off Wobelee's two-year-old track record. That was the eighth of the days heats and provided a clearer picture of who would contest the Crown finals, though final fields will not be declared until the commencement of tomorrow night's meeting at Bendigo in line with the pacing finals. Below are the fields as they stand ahead of the barrier draws, which will feature as part of the festivities for tomorrow's pacing semi-finals at Lords Raceway. The draws will be streamed live at in a special barrier draw telecast hosted by Rob Auber and Craig Rail. Tune in from 5pm. For more details click here. Yabby Dam Racing Breeders Crown 3YO trottting fillies final: Drawn on Trots Live after race 3 (6.02pm) on Saturday night at Bendigo. CADENAS DAMOUR NZ DI LI HADES SKY MAR PACIFICO MEADOW VALLEY SKY MOONLIGHT DREAM MOONSHINE LINDA OUR SHOW GAIT NZ PARISIAN OPERA PRETTY MAJESTIC THE GREAT REDEEMER NZ WILKES BARRE ALEPPO JEWEL (1st Em) Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO trotting fillies final: Drawn on Trots Live after race 4 (6.34pm) on Saturday night at Bendigo. COMMAND ME DENEUVE STAR EMERALD STRIDE GATESYS ALLEY GEORGIAS PRIDE IMSETTOGO MY LITTLE COMET ORLANDO STORM SLEEPEE SO TICKLE ME PINK NZ STARLIGHT RED WALKABOUT SUNRISE DELAROSE (1st Em) Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO trottings colts and geldings final: Drawn on Trots Live after race 5 (7.02pm) on Saturday night at Bendigo. ALDEBARAN PETE ALDEBARAN WILLO NZ ANYWHERE HUGO FIELDS OF KYVALLEY IMPERIAL WHIZ NZ KYVALLEY FINN LA GRANGE MAJESTIC COURTNEY NZ MAJESTIC PLAYER NEXTA NUNN STRESS FACTOR NZ WHIZZBANG DAN DELLSUN (1st Em) Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting fillies final: Drawn on Trots Live after race 6 (7.30pm) on Saturday night at Bendigo. ALDEBARAN ROCKY ALWAYS READY ARCHLEO CALIGULA NZ DREAM MASTAR JILLIBY BULLDOG KYVALLEY CLICHY MAJESTUOSO NZ MONTPELLIER ONEOFTHECLAN ORLANDO JOLT NZ XEBEC GLAD ALL OVER CRITICAL ADVANTAGE (1st Em) Michael Howard Trots Media

A pair of former Kiwis combined with Australia’s greatest to win the $75,000 Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Derby at Maryborough. Brent Lilley, who has trained more than 700 winners since calling Australia home, and his recent Kiwi import Stress Factor joined forces with champion driver Chris Alford. It was a huge and immediate reward for the syndicate who just recently bought Stress Factor from the All Stars’ barn to move to Lilley’s barn in Victoria. The syndicate includes Fred Crews of Maori Time fame along with John Wilkinson, Bruce and Denise Morrison, Gary Dowling and Robert Owen. Just as he did winning his first Aussie start eight days earlier, Stress Factor showed good gate speed and found the lead, but this time he was hard for Alford to rate in front. “I’d like to have gone slower, but he was keen and wanted to keep rolling,” Alford told Trots Vision after the win. “They don’t get the chance to race much over 2600m if ever – just today – it’s hard to know if they’re going to finish it off and all of those ones back in the field are in the same boat. “I thought we were holding on pretty good until about the last 50 (metres). Kyvalley Finn did rush though really quickly, but I did thing we hung on on the line.” Only a few weeks back Alford was in the box seat to win the Derby with his own stable star Wobelee before injury hit. “Luckily this horse came along and I was able to continue my good record with Lil (Lilley),” Alford said. Next stop for Stress Factor is the Breeders Crown. Alford/Lilley also combined for an easy win with rejuvenated veteran Kyvalley Blur in the free-for-all. As usual, Alford summed the race up superbly on the rising 11-year-old when he blast around the field midrace to take the lead and went on to easily beat the very classy Sparkling Eyes by 10.2m in a 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2190m. Kyvalley Blur, a US-bred who started his career with Chris Lang Sr, has now won 26 races and more than $475,000 from his 110 starts. Lilley finished Australia’s biggest all-trotting meeting with four wins after El Paco won the opening event and On Fast Forward won race five. _______________________________________________________________________ TOP Aussie trotter Sparkling Success didn’t win first-up at Maryborough, but he left the track a winner. This season’s Great Southern Star winner has officially been invited and accepted the challenge to tackle the $US1 million Yonkers International Trot in the US on October 13. Victorian farmer and hobby trainer John Meade and his wife Mary gleefully accepted the invite. “We’ve got everything in place. We’re doing this,” Mary said. “We’ll head across in mid-September.” _______________________________________________________________________ WHEN Emilio and Mary Rosati bred Emerald Stride they had every reason to be optimistic the filly would win a seriously big race. After all, Emerald Stride is by Bettors Delight out of Emilios Stride, who is a half-sister to Well Said, a former US Pacer of the Year. But although Emerald Stride did qualify as a pacer he wasn’t quick slick enough according to trainer-driver David Miles and, after a nudge driver Rod Petroff after driving her in a trial, Miles opted to switch her to trotting. Just a few months later she snared Australia’s most prized juvenile trotting race, the Group 1 Redwood Classic. “I always thought she was a trotter, but she was paid-up for the APG and it’s a lot of money to pay up for those series, so we tried to get her to that series,” Miles told Trots Vision. “She trialled as a pacer at Bendigo one morning and Rod Petroff drove her and said ‘I think she’s a trotter.’ “A week later she went to Melton and ran a mile in five, they don’t that after only having the trotting shoes on for a week.” The win was a huge buzz for Rosati. “Winning any big race is great, but Mary loves the trotters so winning this race is extra special,” he said. _______________________________________________________________________ TIM and Anthony Butt were left wondering what might have been after their emerging three-year-old trotter Majestic Courtney completed a hattrick of wins and strolled home in the fourth race at Maryborough. Majestic Courtney hadn’t quite done in his only three starts to make the Victoria Trotters’ Derby field and was first emergency, but didn’t gain a start. Instead he tackled a virtual “consolation” and won as he liked by 11.9m in a 2min1sec mile rate for 2190m. In windy conditions, Majestic Courtney’s mile rate stacked-up well against the 2min3.3sec Stress Factor went over the longer 2690m of the Derby.   Adam Hamilton

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