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Chris Svanosio will be hoping ‘Bettor’ times are ahead for his recent stable addition, who went awry despite big expectations on his Australian debut. Fingers will be crossed that Bettor My Dreamz can make amends in tonight’s Oxley Feed Mill Pace, one of two runners Svanosio will take to his home track of Bendigo for its nine-race card that kicks off on Trots Vision at 5.25pm. There were plenty of high expectations when Bettor My Dreamz debuted at Shepparton on August 4, with the four-year-old Bettors Delight gelding out of All My Dreamz, a half-sister to Im Corzin Terror ($513,219). Victorian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, Carol Simpson and the Maclean Family snapped him up in February 2019 with two New Zealand wins to his credit, including a $20,000 win on New Zealand Cup Day. He would add another in August last year amid 13 starts in the hands of first All Stars Racing’s Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and later Ray Green. “He run a few good races in New Zealand,” Svanosio said. “I’ve always been watching him because Elizabeth (Maclean) and her family have been part owners all the time. He ended up on a hard mark pretty quickly, but has obvious ability.” Last starting in New Zealand on November 1, he’d first trial for Svanosio at Kilmore on July 7, running third before first placings at Bendigo (July 19) and Maryborough (July 26), earning a place in Craig Rail's Trial File Blackbook. “He’d had three trials and trialled better each time,” Svanosio said. “I was very happy with his last trial.” And then came his debut. “He was horrible at Shepparton,” Svanosio said of the August 4 run, when the $2.50 favourite advanced to the breeze and was the first horse beaten, eventually finishing last, almost 30 metres shy of the winner. Making it all the more head scratching was that Bettor My Dreamz had no ill affects that would explain the performance. “He pulled up really and has worked well since,” Svanosio said. “We checked him all out, he just seemed so well. “I wouldn’t be racing him again if I thought he would run similarly. Hopefully he can show us a lot more than last time.” Bettor My Dreamz will start from gate nine tonight and is likely to again carry punters’ favour and be a quaddie regular, and Svanosio said he would drive him with confidence. “If I have to get going again I will,” he said. “On trials, he should be right to do whatever I need to do.” Bettor My Dreamz is one of two Svanosio will race tonight, with four-year-old trotter Benji Hall looking well placed to register win number three from his 11th start. “This is a bit easier than our last few starts,” Svanosio said. “He is back to racing horses who have won one or two races, with the horses who had been beating him home having won five or six his last few starts. “I’ve been happy with his runs. He obviously needs to keep out of trouble early (in the standing start), but if negotiates a safe passage early he should be getting pretty close at the finish.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Another pacer looks set to take a step in the right direction for Mick Gadsden, who’s latest reclamation project strides on to the track at Shepparton tonight for her first start, an achievement that's no small feat. Supremely bred Sporting Model makes her debut in the Equine After Care 3YO Maiden Pace tonight, something of a milestone for her owners, including trainer Shaun McNaulty, who snapped her up at the 2018 Australian Pacing Gold sales. The Art Major filly is out of 27-time winning mare All Eyes On Me ($349,926), which makes her a full-sister to Breeders Crown Graduate winner All Eyes On Us ($307,515). However, that royal breeding hasn’t yet shone through. McNaulty recently handed the three-year-old to Gadsden, hoping the latter's extensive experience as a farrier could overcome the prospect’s early difficulties. “She had a few tries with Shaun and was getting on her knee a bit,” Gadsden said. “He decided to send her to me to try and get her sorted out.” Two months on and good progress has been made, including a competitive third placing in a Stawell trial on July 1. Gadsden said being a professional farrier made it much easier for him to continually experiment with different practices to overcome the pacer’s troubles. “I can work with her, make changes and little adjustments, trial and error,” he said. “I think we have got the knee knocking under control and am pleased she is starting to look like a racehorse.” It’s not an unfamiliar situation for the Charlton trainer, who is one half of Mickbeigh Racing, along with partner/driver Denbeigh Wade. “Nearly all the better horses we have had have come with foot issues, including King Denny and Ainthatrightmacca,” he said. “It’s definitely a challenge I enjoy and it can give you an edge to be able to shoe your own horses and fix things there and then.” Having said that, his expectations are modest for Sporting Model in tonight's third race, which streams at 6.23pm on Trots Vision. “She is quite a large horse for a three-year-old, well over six or seven hands, and is a little slow picking things up,” Gadsden said. “She definitely has a race in her, but it may take her four or five races to learn what it takes to be a racehorse. Being the size she is and the issues with her knee knocking she has lost a bit of conficence, but I feel she is improving each time.” Gadsden will also race Markleigh Caz tonight, with the consistent six-year-old mare contesting the Saddleword Shepparton Pace. “She’ll need the run. She lost out a bit when the Maryborough meeting was called off. She needs to race once a week to stay in race shape, so she’ll be a run short,” Gadsden said. “She draws awkward, but she will run an honest sort of race.” Markleigh Caz is a consistent race day presence for the stable, which has recently relocated to Charlton’s training centre and is thriving. “We’re up to working 12 now with another due to come back in,” Gadsden said. “We have had a few wins and King Denny was good first up and will be in at Shepparton on Saturday night. “There is a Charlton meeting next Monday and we are looking to have three or four there, and it will be good to get out on the new home track.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran has no reservations entering enemy territory tonight ahead of a looming showdown with the Ballarat beast, Ride High. While the latter is resting after a breathtaking win at Bendigo on Saturday, Shepparton’s pacing superstar Lochinvar Art will contest the Flying Horse Takeaway Pace at 8.32pm at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway. This marks the second hit-out of Lochinvar Art’s campaign and an important lead-in to the much-hyped clash with Ride High. “We’ll try and get the job done the best we can and move on from there,” Moran told RSN 927 ahead of tonight’s free-for-all pace. The race presents as a crucial lead-in to a likely showdown between Ride High and Lochinvar Art at Shepparton on August 15, which racing fans have been craving since Clayton Tonkin’s pacer returned from a spell in June. Ride High, who’s trained at Tonkin and Emma Stewart’s Cardigan stables, has gone on a tear, winning all four of his starts, breaking records and improving to 14 career wins from 15 starts, but with the caveat of modest competition. Enter Lochinvar Art, the quickest horse in Victorian history and reigning 4YO Bonanza and Chariots Of Fire champion, who returned to racing with a Shepparton win on July 25 and has the second start of his campaign tonight. “He’s pulled up brilliantly, he’s jumping out of his skin,” Moran said. “It was probably a perfect first-up run really, he got around there pretty cheap, he’ll take a lot of the run. He will probably take a bit more out of (tonight) and I’d imagine after that he’d be pretty close to 100 per cent.” Tonkin had already circled August 15 at Shepparton as Ride High’s next hit-out and this week Moran said “he’d be silly not to” take the chance to face-off against Ride High “right in our backyard”. “As long as he pulls up good (from tonight), we’ll obviously know a bit more Monday how he is, then I’ll nominate him and go from there.” While confident of the talent he has in his hands Moran was also effusive in his praise for Ride High. “He’s a beautiful horse,” he said. “To do what he did and just the way he savages the line, to me I guess that’s the scariest part of taking him on – how he attacks the line.”   HRV - Michael Howard

A first superstar showdown between Ride High and Lochinvar Art appears set for August 15, with both camps bookmarking the Shepparton race night. Ride High’s fortnightly forays on to the racing scene are becoming the stuff of legend as Clayton Tonkin’s Ballarat beast continues to leave rivals in his wake and the clock quivering, most recently with a breathtaking 1:49.0 mile rate at Bendigo last Saturday. The asterix next to claims of him being Australia’s best pacer has been the absence of Grand Circuit rivals, but Lochinvar Art looks set to change that with trainer-driver David Moran orchestrating a heavyweight bout in 10 days. His Shepparton star returned by cruising to a win on his home deck on July 25 and will be second-up at Ballarat this Saturday night. Moran told Sky Racing’s In The Gig he tuned into Ride High’s record-breaking Bendigo run and said he “was awesome”. “It’s a pretty big build up for when they do meet,” Moran said. “We are trying not to plan too far ahead. We will get Ballarat out of the way Saturday night and then possibly go to Shepparton the following week – I think Clayton was pretty keen to do the same (night).” While Moran said there was plenty of water to go under the bridge before fields were finalised next Tuesday, he said “a great clash” between “two great horses” was on the cards. “It’s going to be pretty awesome to watch,” he said. “Shepparton is down for a mile race, it’s going to make it very interesting. “We have got to draw outside of him, we will just see what happens when the time comes, and have a look at the nominations and go from there. And also see how he pulls up from Ballarat, but he seems really good at the moment, so it’s a little bit exciting.” Tonkin has flagged August 15 as Ride High’s next hit-out, with both top-line pacers building towards the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on October 10. Confidence is certainly high in the camp, only further fuelled by the extraordinary Bendigo performance. “(Ride High’s) great for the industry because he is an excitement machine,” Tonkin told In The Gig. “I still think he’s got a little bit more left to season him up a little bit. The times he’s running, it’s crazy to think that he can run them times and do it so easy.” Tonkin said Ride High had “missed a fair bit of racing” and the stable “will definitely make up for it now and get after some good races”. “He’s a beautiful race horse, great speed, he’s everything you want in a great horse. He’s next level.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Isn’t it nice when a plan just works. That’s certainly been the case for Shayne Eeles, who with family invested in a broodmare and two generations on continues to reap rewards. The Rochester trainer’s colt Allshookup continues an eye-catching three-year-old season tonight, when he steps out for the Saddleworld Shepparton 3YO Pace, which streams at 6.04pm on TrotsVision. A winner at consecutive starts before a last-start eighth when he overraced, Allshookup has impressed his trainer in his second campaign. “He seems to have a bit of bottom too him,” Eeles said. “I have a high opinion of what he can do.” It’s an educated opinion that was fostered under the tutelage of Barry Purdon, whose camp Eeles joined as an 18-year-old. He remained there for almost seven years, spending nearly half the year on the road helping Purdon rack up winners with the likes of Holmes D G and Surprise Package, before returning to Victoria and training in his own right from February 2001. A tick over six years later, with wife Roslyn and her parents Robert and Jenny Viney, Eeles purchased broodmare Teen Talk and her one-year-old foal, who would become Ballandella Baby, off breeder Peter Gleeson. “It’s a super family – that Hot Foot-Larrakeyah Lady family,” Eeles said. “The family keeps landing winners.” Teen Talk’s great grand-dam is Hot Foot, dam of Larrakeyah Lady, who has in turn produced rivers of pacing gold. Among her foals are Safe And Sound ($995,606), Massarua ($282,692), Gold Rocket ($393,387) and The Good Times ($201,024) to name a few, while descendants include Rocknroll Magic ($466,183), Major Secret ($464,872), Beauty Secret ($425,921), Lovelist ($222,889) and a five-year-old up and comer they call Ride High ($259,427).    In the case of Eeles’ purchase, Teen Talk’s produced eight winners, with Ballandella Baby the second most prolific for wins (11) and stakes ($84,000) before being retired for a broodmare career. “She did a good job, was a good mare for us,” Eeles said. “Getting her up and going, winning a few nice races and breeding a good one out of her, I enjoy that sort of thing – educating horses, giving them time, watching them develop. I get a kick out of it.” Ballandella Baby was pared with A Rocknroll Dance for her second foal, Allshookup, who has his 12th start today. His second campaign has delivered much of the $15,010 stakes his banked, having chased Vicbred Super Series success as a two-year-old but with a win on Humbletonian Day at Maryborough the only time he finished better than eighth in his initial six starts. “I probably made a blue and threw him in the deep end as a two-year-old,” Eeles said. “It probably didn’t help him, but he had qualified well and trialled well. “I only do a handful of horses and he hadn’t worked with other horses much. It was a little too much too early and he was chasing his tail a little. I battled with him last year, I always thought a lot of him, but he was never 100 per cent.” Allshookup had a tick over eight months on the sidelines before returning at Shepparton on June 19 with a fourth placing, which was followed by a second (June 29), two victories (July 6 and 19) and a last start eighth. “He had a really good break, I brought him up slow this time and got a proper preparation into him. He is not a big horse, but he is a strong little bloke, a good pacing horse and does his work well. “Doing a fair bit of work doesn’t bother him too much.” He led all-the-way to comfortably produce his two victories this time in, before overracing last start which he paid for late. “The occasion got to him a little too much the other night and he fired up and that cost him in the finish,” Eeles said. “I have changed gear a little bit, taken the block blinds off to get him to relax, switch off and do what (driver) Chris (Alford) wants him too.” Tonight Allshookup is drawn outside lead rivals Monterei Heaven and Hesty but still likely to advance to a forward post. “There is a little bit of depth there, a couple who go good enough. I think this little bloke, if he is on his game and relaxes, he will be right in it. “He will probably go forward. I don’t give Chris too many instructions, I wouldn’t worry if he relaxed him off the gate, but he will probably go forward.” And a good performance and continual maturation could have Eeles against chasing Vicbred Super Series success come year’s end. “He probably won’t have a lot of time off between now and the end of the year,” he said. “The sires stakes are the plan. He probably needs to get a bit more seasoned. I won’t overrace him and he might need a freshen up, but I would like to give him three to four more runs, get him more seasoned and build his confidence. “If he measures up to the better ones I will press on. I think he is pretty capable of doing a job. I like him, hopefully he keeps stepping up.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Ride High's record-breaking rout of Victorian circuits reached ridiculous new heights at Bendigo tonight with Clayton Tonkin's pacer ripping 2.7 seconds off the track record, winning in an audacious 1:49 mile rate. Built off a 26-second third quarter the five-year-old notched a 14th win in his 15th start and in doing so became only the second horse to win in Victoria in a sub-1:50 mile rate, having been only 0.4 of a second outside lead rival Lochinvar Art's spectacular 4YO Bonanza time. The performance only further whets the appetite of a mooted clash between David Moran's Lochinar Art and Tonkin's Ride High, with the star pacers so far landing blows in successive Saturday nights. For now the spotlight returned to reinswoman Kima Frenning and her pacer affectionately known as 'Chainsaw'. "There's been a bit of talk about how he hasn't beaten a lot and he's got to prove that he's really good and I think he just did that," Frenning told Trots Vision post-race. "Plugs still in and he does it so easy, it's just crazy." An aggressive Josh Aiken drive on Sirletic brought the best out of Ride High, with the former leading from gate four and running 27.6 and 27.8 first and second quarters as the trailing $1.04 favourite advanced from the back row to the running line and then the breeze. The pair then exploded through a 26.1-second third quarter that dropped the remainder of the eight-horse field, with Ride High surging ahead from the running line with an extraordinary burst of pace into the final term and becoming a conclusive 21.4-metre winner come the finishing line. Unchallenged and with plugs still in down the final straight he got home in 27.5 seconds to complete the record mile rate, almost three seconds quicker than the time Aiken set with Leonidas at Bendigo on June 6. "We fired him off the gate all his starts prior to this one and then to be able to come off the back row and relax, be off their backs and then take off and do what he did ..." Frenning said. "I mean, he doesn't spend any more energy than what he has to. I think that makes him a really, really good racehorse. "He never carries on, he never pulls. I drove him in a trial a couple of years ago now and I sat him up, he dropped the bit and as soon as I pulled out he just went. He's got the whole package. I have still never pulled the plugs on him." It's a fourth successive victory for Frenning and Ride High this campaign and another stunning 53.6-second last half, completing an extraordinary sequence of last 800-metre records having previously gone 52.7 seconds (Melton), 53.6 seconds (Melton) and 53.4 seconds (Ballarat). Tonight at Bendigo his 26.1-second third quarter was the quickest ever recorded at the track, toppling Sir Briggen's 26.7-second quarter set in a concession drivers pace, as well as being the quickest ever last half, having been some 1.9 seconds superior to Leonidas' mark. "I"m just so grateful that I get to be the littlest part of this horse's journey and it's super special," Frenning said. And the exciting part is there is no doubt more to come, with King Of Swing and Cash N Flow outstanding in Sydney, Chicago Bull back to his best in Perth, several front line Kiwis returning and a battle with Lochinvar Art looming. "There are more of the better ones coming through - Self Assured raced (Friday) - it's going to be really exciting when they all come together," Frenning said. "I wouldn't swap mine for anyone." CLICK BELOW TO RELIVE RIDE HIGH'S RECORD-BREAKING WIN: HRV - Michael Howard

Like a number one draft pick in the AFL, the title of ‘sales topper’ follows a horse throughout its career, with high expectations to match the considerable excitement about its progress. Muscle Hill colt Aldebaran Knox, out of Skyvalley’s half-sister Aldebaran Kyvalley, carries that crown, having lured a winning $90,000 bid at the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale from trainer-driver Matt Craven. Tonight at Ballarat the now three-year-old colt continues his mission of transforming potential into prizemoney when he steps out in the Decoglaze 3YO Trotters Handicap, which streams on Trots Vision at 5.58pm. “He stood out when I saw him (as a yearling) at the farm and I knew he would attract a lot of interest,” Craven recalls. “Muscle Hill’s were pretty hard to come by at that stage. I thought he was worth a decent crack and was lucky enough to secure him. “He has probably taken a little longer than I’d like, but I have been pretty patient. He is a big horse and is still growing.” His four starts to date have produced a debut win and a second placing early in his three-year-old season, before returning for a second campaign last week at Ballarat when fifth while struggling for a run in the dying stages. “You put the pressure on yourself because people trusted your judgment to invest in a horse like him and you want to get them a return,” Craven said. “He has terrific owners who have all been super patient, super supportive. “He shows some nice ability. Last week didn’t go to plan, this week will be a new scenario from the standing start. This campaign is all about racing craft and to season him for the better races coming up.” While Craven said he expected Aldebaran Knox would “start to come into his own” as a late four-year-old “because he is such a big horse”, he was already “more than capable of mixing it with the best horses” and so Derbys, Vicbred Super Series and Breeders Crown were all “on the radar”. But first there is tonight, which is not without its challenges, being Aldebaran Knox’s first standing start. “He has been OK at trials,” Craven said. “At home he has shown he can handle it, but with a full field it could be a different situation. As a rule he is a sensible horse. “I just want to see him get away safely and relax in the field and, unlike last week, have the opportunity to win.” Craven said his biggest threat would likely come from Emmett and Richard Brosnan’s last start winner Homonym, who’s “improved a lot and is very nicely bred”, being by Majestic Son and out of A Touch Of Sun, a half-sister to Sundon and mare of King Denny ($298,914). Craven will also take a trio of two-year-olds to Ballarat for the PETstock 2YO Pace, with October Reign, Vin Dan and Magic Masterpiece making up half the field. Notably, October Reign and Vin Dan ran third and fourth respectively in yesterday’s Sign Online 2YO Maiden Pace. Of October Reign, Craven said the “big, strong” Sportswriter colt “just needs racing” and had no concerns running him in consecutive days. “His racing’s been OK, nothing outstanding but OK,” he said. “He didn’t have a lot of luck (yesterday), but I expect him to back up and go well.” And of Vin Dan, he said the Captaintreacherous colt “is limited at this stage and needs favors in the run, but he will improve”. “The main aim is probably South Australia’s Southern Cross sires series.” And then there’s debutant Magic Masterpiece, an Artspeak colt out of Lady Blanchett. “He is an interesting little horse. He has got a lot of nice owners from around the district and he’s a top little coot, there’s something about him,” Craven said. “If he gets a bit of luck he will be running on.” Rating his three two-year-olds, he had October Reign on top for tonight's clash due to his “racing experience and then Magic Masterpiece, who could just be one out of the box”. TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden serve up Talking Trots on Track from 11am-1pm on SENTrack on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app. The good oil from the Vic trials circuit Ballarat, R4 N6, Fightnfury Settled three back on the markers, moved away from the inside with 300m remaining and came out three horses wide on the home turn when he sprinted home too well. REPORT Ballarat, R5 N11, Machstique Undefeated in two starts and hasn’t raced since March. He took out the second trial from CROWN ROYALE. REPORT   HRV - Michael Howard  

The township’s more famed for its gold deposits than its orchards but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in Allendale. The Stephens have long called the central Victorian town home and they build on that family tradition tonight at Bendigo, with trainer Adam Stephens having connection to four runners, three bred by his dad, Allan, from mare Alberts Belle, three he trains and three who carry the family’s maternal name, Wingate. “It’s just something nice to build upon,” Adam said of the family’s traditions. “I wanted to keep the generation of Wingates going on, it’s a symbolic thing of who and what we are.” Adam’s trained in his own right since 2014 but, along with his brothers Jon and Jamie, helped his dad and trainer Allan long before that. Tonight’s sibling connections also extend to their horses. Mare Village Safari is something of a stable star but the odd one out, with two-year-old Ruby Wingate, four-year-old Wingate Guy and seven-year-old Iamawingate all lightly raced, all out of Alberts Belle and all bred from the family’s Allendale property. The farm was purchased by Allan 40 years ago, but the family had been ensconced at Allendale since long before. James Wingate departed Scotland in the 1880s and settled in the township, and the seamen’s chest he brought over on the ship now houses his great-great grandson Adam’s rugs. The harness racing involvement began almost 60 years ago with Adam’s father Allan, who was in turn well supported by his mum, Ruby. And it’s Ruby Wingate whose surname inspired the ‘Wingate’ brand that has been prominent since Wingate Boy, who was foaled in 1977 and winner of three of his 51 starts. The tradition continues tonight with three Wingate runners, including two-year-old Ruby Wingate, who will race for trainer-driver David Barbetti. “She’s a lovely little filly,” Adam said. “She’s been a little bit underrated. At Stawell she was checked three times in running and still ran on for fifth. I think she can go quite well (tonight).” Ruby Wingate (pictured) contests the Alabar Bloodstock 2YO Maiden Pace, to stream at 6.30pm on Trots Vision, building her racing education ahead of a tilt at the Vicbred Super Series at year’s end. The fact she carries the full name of Adam’s grandmother shows the regard the stable holds her in. “My grandmother was a very big-hearted woman,” he said. “She worked with dad and the horses into her 80s. “That was why I named her after my grandmother – for Dad. She is a very big-hearted filly and I thought she carried the heart of my grandmother, to be truthful.” Ruby Wingate is by Union Guy out of Alberts Belle, with the dam purchased in 2010 from John Campbell along with a foal at her foot. That foal would become Union Belle, winner of $76,835. Alberts Belle has produced three more foals since, all of whom race tonight. The oldest is seven-year-old Iamawingate, who is by the Stephens’ own stallion I Am The Way, a winner of 12 starts who marked Adam’s first big training assignment and helped the family through a tough time. “(I Am The Way's) potential is more than he showed on paper,” Adam said. “He is the first horse I trained. It was the bad part of the drought when I raced him. Our farm was nothing but dirt and his winnings kept us going.” Iamawingate steps out in the last tonight, the J L King & Co Pace, for his seventh start amid his first season of racing. The delay in debuting the seven-year-old has merely been a matter of time limitations, with Adam a shift worker, meaning when he is on shift training is performed by himself, Allan and brother Jamie from 4am. “He was always going to be raced,” Adam said of Iamawingate, “I just had to retire a few to create time, which is why he and Wingate Guy have started later.” In six starts from April 2 to June 11 Iamawingate placed twice and then he returned from a freshen up at Terang last start with a fast finishing third. “He has ability this horse, we’ve just nursed him. The break has helped him. He’ll just settle in the field and use his speed. “Everything will just have to fall into place and he’ll have to get a bit of luck. He has pulled up well and worked on well since Terang.” His little half-brother Wingate Guy returns from a spell for his second campaign, having made a winning debut in April. Adam predicts more success is in his path. “He is a magnificent little horse, I think he can go on and do great things,” he said. “I really like this horse. “I have been lucky enough to have Union Belle and Village Safari and you get the idea of a horse and what it’s going to become. I just feel with where he’s at he’s got the potential to go further. He’s very tough and a nice sit-sprint horse.” Wingate Guy will start from gate three of the Schweppes Pace at 8.45pm, while Village Safari will contest the Bendigo Ski Boat Central Pace from gate eight at 7.38pm. A winner of 13 starts and $128,600, Adam said “she’s been a lovely mare”. “I only paid $1000 for her. She’s no superstar, but has run superbly for me. Before we tipped her out last prep she got a touch of laminitis, but she has come back really well. “She didn’t get fully opened up (first up), but I thought she got home really strong.” She’s the only horse off the back row tonight and he said it was “the perfect draw” for the “nice sit-sprint mare”.   HRV - Michael Howard

Lochinvar Art didn't miss a beat at Shepparton tonight as a little more pepper's sprinkled on the steak of a potential showdown with Ride High. Well fancied pacers San Carlo and Sirletic couldn't trouble Lochinvar Art as the 4YO Bonanza and Chariots Of Fire winner returned from a seven-week absence with a nine-metre victory, getting home in 28.4 and 27.1-second third and fourth quarters in a hit-out that thrilled his trainer-driver. "He was really good tonight. He's done what he had to do. He keeps surprising me all of the time," Moran told Trots Vision co-host Daniel Hibberd. "He was a bit underdone and he always takes that run or two, always has a trial before his first start, but he was really good tonight. Bit scary really." Moran said he scrapped his initial plan to trial on Thursday and race next week, which would have pitted Lochinvar Art first-up against a race fit Ride High at Bendigo, deciding instead to race tonight against his local fast-class rivals, because any trial "probably wouldn't be worthwhile". There would have been no regrets after Lochinver Art's convincing win in the TAB Long May We Play Pace, which headlined tonight's Shepparton card. "He felt super. That's the best he's ever felt first up. He generally feels a little bit doughy first-up, but tonight he was unbelievable really," he said. "He was cruising pretty much. You've always got to keep him concentrating. He's just doing it very easy. I know the times weren't too quick tonight and the lead time and first half were only moderate, and he did get around their pretty cheap. I think the best part about it is whatever he did tonight he will be five metres better next week." Amid present pandemic restrictions there remains a fair bit of uncertainty around Lochinver Art's path, including any match-up against Clayton Tonkin's brilliant Ride High, against whom a Match Race had been mooted. "Victoria Cup's the main one, Kilmore Cup before that," Moran said. "We'll just let him tell us how he's feeling, and if he's all good we will find another metropolitan race in a fortnight and just go from there." Which means the spotlight will likely return to Ride High next week, with Tonkin commiting his pacer to competing at Bendigo on August 1.   HRV - Michael Howard

While much of the racing world’s in a fervour for an impending clash of two pacing firebrands, a high-class trotting duel has broken out with another chapter to be written at Shepparton tonight. All the elements are there as the electrifying but sometimes enigmatic Wobelee prepares for round three against his powerful foe McLovin in the Your Sold Real Estate Trot, which streams on Trots Vision at 8.35pm. Round one at Melton on July 4 saw Wobelee advance from the one-one to the breeze in the final lap to park McLovin three-wide, with the latter powering to the line to win while Wobelee paid for previous effort. Round two followed at Ballarat on Saturday when Wobelee, seemingly stronger for his two runs this campaign, was made to bide his time in Chris Alford’s hands, with McLovin parking outside Sundons Courage for the trip. Alford waited for the final 600 metres before exposing Wobelee, who grabbed the half-length he needed to win.   On both occasions Nephew Of Sonoko has been brilliant and tonight Magicool, My Skypocket and Scallywag Sam will also have their supporters, but the Group 1 stars remain the headliners. McLovin’s reinswoman Kate Gath is certainly well aware of the capabilities of her lead rival. “I obviously rate Wobelee very highly, he could end up a bit of a thorn in our side, especially as he’s going to draw better than us for a little while yet,” she told Trots Talk. Tonight Magicool separates Wobelee in gate five and McLovin in gate seven, giving Alford the initial advantage over the middle distance trip. However, in their previous two meetings it’s been the horse saved for the last run who’s succeeded. “At Ballarat last week I was planning on going back on McLovin, but then I saw Wobelee didn’t go forward I thought I would chance my arm and have a look for the front,” Gath said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t there. I was still happy with his run. “It will be a great showdown, but it’s probably going to be a lot of the time whichever horse gets the easier run, we will have to wait and see.” And trainer Andy Gath and reinswoman Kate may soon have another competitor snapping at the heels of the leading trotters, with C K Spur attempting to go two from two in Australia in tonight’s Saddleworld Shepparton Trot (rating 67-79). “He’s raced a lot of the best horses in New Zealand, he’s quite seasoned,” Kate said. “I was pretty happy with him at Bendigo, I thought he got to the line pretty good and did a good job to beat the leader in that race. “Hopefully he can get the job done again this week. He has got a bit of a tricky draw again, but he is good enough to make his own luck and still win.” The camp also has Morgan Mylee in the Cottrell Electrical Trot, Miss Hartley in the Barastoc Pace and Scallywag Sam in the feature trot, but will be an absentee from the headline TAB Long May We Play Pace after the scratching of Eureka. Lochinvar Art, who Gath labelled “a great horse” and “there might not be any better”, steps out at 8.05pm and will be a short price despite the presence or Sirletic and San Carlo.   HRV - Michael Howard

Mario Attard has long been a builder but it’s the trots that have arguably given him his most challenging, but ultimately rewarding, project. After a few testing years, Dont Hold Back is showing some of the ominous signs that served up his Group 1 Vicbred and Group 2 Breeders Crown triumphs, with consecutive wins bringing great satisfaction to his owner-trainer-driver. “It’s really good to see that you can get a horse to perform well,” Attard said. “It tells you you are able to get the best out of a horse and certifies what I’m doing right.” Dont Hold Back will hunt a third successive victory at Tabcorp Park Melton when he fronts for tonight’s Allied Express Pace, which streams on Trots Vision at 8.30pm. It’s been a satisfying uptick after his preceding 19 starts since his 2017 Breeders Crown win had delivered just the one victory. According to Attard, the improvement this campaign has a simple explanation. “Because of the issues he has had he has always been hard to train in that you couldn’t put the work into him, it was always in the back of your mind and you were always walking on eggshells,” Attard said. “He is seven now, I have thrown a bit of caution to the wind and put the work back into him. When you train a horse you can tell if the horse is feeling well. He recovers fine and is well within himself, and you can only go by what the horse is feeling.” Having managed to “get over” Dont Hold Back's past issues with leg sorness and heart fibrillation, Attard said he could now “work him as you would a normal horse” and potentially add to the $256,895 in stake winnings. “He’s been a nice horse,” he said. “There are things I probably would have done differently, but it is what it is. The beauty of it was that he’s my horse. “You have trainers who get good horses and owners’ expectations that are really high. Every trainer, I don’t care who it is, puts their heart and soul into it. You do your best and when it’s your horse you don’t have the pressure of someone taking the horse off you.” And so for the 45th time as horse and driver the pair will step out tonight and hope the good times continue to roll. “You never know what’s around the corner,” Attard said. “You can’t get too confident. Just take it one race at a time. “He’s had a couple of nice races, gotten good runs. The barrier draw (tonight) makes things hard. He will have to snag back and come from the rear of the field.” Dont Hold Back is one of three Attard runners fronting tonight, with three-year-old Art Major gelding Wow You Can Dance to debut in the Woodlands Stud 3YO Pace at 6.34pm and Power Of Faith to contest the TAB Long May We Play Pace at 9pm. Attard said he bought Wow You Can Dance as a yearling but only “had him three weeks and then he hurt himself in the paddock”. A fetlock injury lingered for a year and a half, and then “about 12 weeks ago I went to the paddock and thought I might as well jog him up and he is not sore any more”. “He trialled on Saturday and was star gazing, but hopefully he might develop into a nice horse,” Attard said. “He is a sensible horse and on Friday night we should know what he can do, but he will definitely be better for it.” Power Of Faith has been racing well, winning two of her past three outings and placing in the other, but Attard said tonight’s gate six draw and an unsuitable distance would make things difficult. “She tries really hard,” he said. “The barrier draw isn’t going to do her any favours and she prefers long distances. You can’t get her out of the gate and she doesn’t have high speed, but will keep running all day.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Expectations will be kept in check but hearts will be in mouths and fingers crossed in Ken Tippet and Gary Hoban’s camps, with the experienced trainers among those to have two-year-old debutants tonight. At 6.01pm Alakazam (pictured leading his trial) will look to burst forward in the Blue Hills Rise 2YO Pace, with the Well Said gelding having shown plenty of early zip in trials for trainer Hoban, who shares owner-breeder status of the two-year-old with Kevin Clark. And then in the following race at 6.28pm on Trots Vision, the Aldebaran Park 2YO & 3YO Trotters Handicap, Right Of Reply takes his first steps towards victory for owner-trainer-driver Tippet. Both are hopeful their years of dedication to their respective first starters will be rewarded with safe and promising passages to the finish line. Hoban said Alakazam was “still learning” and “hadn’t really learned to let down”, as was evident in his most recent two trials, when he ripped to the front early but tended to switch off in front and ultimately be beaten by Royal Hart (June 30) and Rock Nien (July 13). “He’s hasn’t switched on yet to know what it’s all about. He is probably a bit slow on the uptake,” Hoban said. “He’s a nice pacer and has good gate speed. I hope that he can use it (tonight), take a sit and then finish the race off nicely.” Tonight’s task got a little easier with the scratching of John Nicholson’s Sebs Choice, a last start winner who was impressive when streeting clear of Something Bettor, tonight’s pole marker. “It’s probably quite a handy field for a two-year-old first up,” Hoban said. “(Alakazam) has got to start somewhere and I’ll be happy if he can work home well. “With a couple of runs under his belt he will be a nice bread and butter horse going forward. I don’t think he will be any star, but he should pay his way.” That would mean plenty to Hoban, with Alakazam one of eight horses he has in work at present, all of which were bred at his Toolern Vale property. As for Right Of Reply, while the trotter was bred by Brooklyn Lodge’s Doug Moore, the two-year-old has long been in Tippet's hands. “He got down here as a yearling, I broke him in and have had him all the way through,” Tippet said. “He hasn’t been an easy horse to get going. He is a slow learner and if you correct something he over-corrects himself.” And with that in mind, Tippet said “whatever he does tomorrow he will just get better and better”, but that “it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes around and does everything right”. “I hope he can put two or three runs together (this campaign),” he said. “I’m pretty impressed by John Caldow’s two-year-old (Tipsy Turvy) and the three-year-old of Justin Livingstone’s (Roi Du Soleil) also goes well.” The hybrid two and three-year-old trotters handicap presents an unusual challenge for Tippet’s first starter, but he remains optimistic about his chances. “He’s going to win races, no doubt, whether that is as a two-year-old or three-year-old we will see.” TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join hosts Blake Redden and Michael Howard as they ride through tonight's Ballarat from 5.30pm-9.30pm on SENTrack on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.   The good oil from the Vic trials circuit BLACKBOOKER: Cranbourne, R4 N5, Alice Kay Was fifth on the markers early, rolled through to be third on the markers before moving to the outside at the quarter pole. She switched onto the back of MIRAKURU in the home straight and went to the line with something in reserve. REPORT   HRV - Michael Howard

The battle lines are being drawn for a Ride High versus Lochinvar Art showdown as the Victorian speed machines ready to lock horns in a highly anticipated showdown. The prospect of a match-race and future showdowns were tossed around this morning when Ride High’s trainer Clayton Tonkin and Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran joined RSN Racing Pulse. Tonkin was particularly ready to lock horns, with his stable star having impressed in all three of his hit-outs this winter, when Ride High has continually produced blistering last-half times. “I reckon it would be cool,” Tonkin said of a match-race between Ride High and Lochinvar Art. “I reckon everyone would love to see it. “If they went head-to-head, then you know yourself there are no ifs and buts with barrier draws and all that sort of stuff. I reckon it would be exciting for the public.” While Ride High has three runs under his belt this campaign, Lochinvar Art is yet to kick off a new campaign but has been nominated for Saturday night’s free-for-all at Shepparton. Tonkin said Ride High would next race at Bendigo on August 1, so it may take a few weeks for the cobwebs to be cleared and a showdown declared. Regardless, Moran today signaled support for a match-race. “I think it would be good,” Moran said. “It would be great for the public. As much as they can’t be on track and see it in person, I think it would be a great thing for the public and harness racing in general. “(A match race) is something the sport hasn’t seen for a long time. It’s something that’s going to put us back in the spotlight and give everyone something to look forward too.” That’s certainly already the case with the rise and rise of Tonkin’s pacer over recent weeks, including spreads on Ride High in leading daily newspapers and considerable radio coverage. “Everyone’s getting on the bandwagon with him at the minute, he’s an exciting horse and it’s one of those things where it’s a thrill to have him,” Tonkin said. “I think he’s got everything to get people drawn into it. He is an excitement machine with his blistering speed and he’s got the looks and all that sort of stuff. I think the horse has got the x-factor.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Saturday's chill took no heat out of the rise and rise of Ride High at Bray Raceway tonight, with Clayton Tonkin's pacer setting a new last 800-metre track record with cruise control locked on. Kima Frenning and her five-year-old freak, who’s now won 13 of his 14 starts, covered the third and final quarters in 26.9 and 26.5 seconds respectively, breaking the track record for quickest last 800 metres and quickest third quarter over 1710 metres. And, according to Tonkin, he did it easy, with the trainer explaining to Trots Vision post-race why the Art Major entire didn’t go faster. “He’s pulled up terrific,” Tonkin said. “It wasn’t a real hard night out for him, but it’s quite cold here tonight and the track seems like it has got a bit of sand on it.” While the 1:53.6 mile rate is ‘only’ the equal 10th quickest mile rate at Ballarat over the 1710, he again proved himself a master of the last half, having gone 0.4 seconds quicker than the previous best – Wrappers Delight in an Inter Dominion pacing heat. And he had plenty left in the tank. “You get a cold night, the track’s pretty deep – it wasn’t a night to really open him up and go anything crazy,” Tonkin said. “It is one of those races, it was a bit of a procession for him, but I think once we get better races and the weather gets a bit better that’s more time to really cut him loose.” Ride High has won by 28.9, 12.8 and 13.5 metres in his three runs this season and Tonkin said he was “quite an intelligent horse” who needed to be kept on a tight rein at home due to his want to “dig in”. “We work him by himself a fair bit,” he said. “Three days out (from a start) we always work him with a pacemaker, and he knows when one is going in front of him he’s on and you think, ‘hang on a minute’. You don’t want to go too crazy with him. He gets a run and he wants to be off. “He’s a great track worker and a big strong colt, so he cops plenty of work. Biggest thing is you just don’t want to let him overwork because everything you ask of him he’s got a little bit more. We just don’t want him breaking down. The times he can run at home are pretty crazy.” While Victoria has returned to region-based racing to help combat covid-19 and protect participants and essential staff, trots fans will continue to be able to enjoy Ride High, who was raced every fortnight since his June 20 return. “We’ll give him a race every couple of weeks,” Tonkin said. “I really want to take him up to Menangle for a trip away, but with the borders closed and having to go into isolation for two weeks if you go across, it’s just going to be a big ordeal to get him there. We will just have to sit and see what happens with the way everything goes.” CLICK BELOW TO SEE RIDE HIGH'S WIN AND HERE FROM KIMA FRENNING:   HRV - Michael Howard

Not everything's run to script since Scott Ewen shipped from South Australia to Cranbourne, but the trainer-driver’s ridden the bumps and is optimistic that opportunity knocks at Tabcorp Park tonight. Ewen’s two strongest performers, Bulletproof Boy and Penny Bobbins, are well placed to add to his win total, which stands at four since he moved east at the start of the 2019-20 season. Based at Cranbourne’s flagship training centre, he said he appreciated that Victoria has continued racing amid the challenges of covid-19. “We live off it and we have got to hope things keep going for us, because I don’t have another job to go too,” he said. “We have been soldiering on and finding our feet. I’ve had four winners since I have been here, but there have also been enough placings and driver’s fees that I am still better off than I probably would have been at home.” Region-based racing has brought both challenges and opportunities. “The first time time it was probably lucky that Bulletproof Boy was ready for a break,” he said. “For Penny Bobbins and co is wasn’t too bad, but because we were locked in with Kilmore we had some really good horses in our area, who would otherwise be racing at Melton. “This (latest) time is a little bit better because a lot of quality horses are in other areas and we can race at Melton as well as at home.” Ewen has had 61 starts this season, four of which have come from his two-year-old brigade that are from Cranbourne’s Club 21. The “four babies” consist of unraced trotter Copacabana, who’s having a short let-up after a knock on her hind leg, pacing pair Classy Countess and The Falcon Prince who have each had two starts, and a further as yet unnamed filly, who’s by Somebeachsomewhere out of Illawong Sister Styx. “The good thing about babies you get to see them progress,” he said. “The two that had starts have got experience out of it, hopefully they will be better for it and come back better.” But there’s no doubt the bulk of the heavylifting this season has been done by Penny Bobbins (21 starts for one win and eight placings) and Bulletproof Boy (20 starts for three wins and two placings). The former is well fancied in tonight’s Woodlands Stud Pace, which streams at 6.32pm on Trots Vision, and should be able to get into a competitive position early, being the only starter on the back row. “There are only seven in it, she can come one-off and work things out, I give her a big chance,” Ewen said. “She has to be up in the first four or five, it makes life a lot easier for her. At Melton you don’t have to pull out too early, it’s such a long straight. I am rapt with her. She’s consistent, but she’s not one you can confidently say will win.” While GoodForm analyst Blake Redden’s marked Penny Bobbins a $2.60 favourite, he has Bulletproof Boy a $10 chance in the race to follow, an extremely even Allied Express Pace. A winner at Melton only two starts back, Bulletproof Boy struggled for a run last start. “He was bolting last week,” Ewen said. “I give him a big hope tomorrow night, if leading or if he doesn’t. He is suited either way. “I love the horse, he is one of the best I have had in my life. He’s very quick and can rattle home.” And, most pleasing for Ewen, his prized pacer’s kryptonite – that “he was getting too fierce and wanting to pull” – seems to have been overcome. “I put a nose veil on him, which I have never been a big believer in, but he is a changed horse. He sits beautifully now. It is a big bonus for him,” he said. “He’s good off the speed and if he gets in front and doesn’t get too much pressure he can lead as well. “He’s getting better and better and once we get out of the lockdown I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.” TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden and their many guests as they talk trots from 11am-1pm weekdays on SENTrack on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app. The good oil from the Vic trials circuit BLACKBOOKER: Mildura, R7 N11, Gotta Go Josie Was a big winner of the third trial. She began quickly to lead, and was pressured hard by KILLER DRAGON during the middle stages. She shook off KILLER DRAGON at the 400m and was strong at the finish to win in fast time. REPORT & REPLAY Tabcorp Park Melton, R4 N5, Forty Thieves Only two horses contested the open class trial with BLISSFULLL STRIDE trailing FORTY THIEVES before coming to the outside at the quarter pole. It was a slowly run trial and a sprint home with BLISSFULL STRIDE being a little too quick in the final stages. REPORT   HRV - Michael Howard

We've seen him stamp his name all over the Melton record books, can Ride High repeat the dose at Bray Raceway on Saturday night? That's the question that'll be on many lips when he steps out in the TAB Long May We Play Pace at 6.30pm for trainer Clayton Tonkin and reinswoman Kima Frenning. Paul Campbell, who will share hosting Trots Vision duties on Saturday night with Dan Mielicki and Dave Brehaut, said Ride High was "a rock star" and "could probably do whatever he likes". "He just got something about him, he's just got a presence," Campbell told Trots Talk. "Emma (Stewart) and Clayton, they present their horses immaculately, but this horse - he's the next step up. I can't wait to see him in the Parade Ring at Ballarat on Saturday night, that's for sure." Saturday marks Ride High's debut at the stable's home track, Bray Raceway, and he'll need to be brisk to stamp his name in more top 10 times over the 1710-metre distance. The mile rate belongs to former stablemate The Storm Inside, who stopped the clock at 1:50.7, lowering Beach Surge's (1:51.8) benchmark by more than a second in his aptly named Lightning Sprint win on Boxing Day. Rackemup Tigerpie (1:52.1) and Im Pats Delight (1:52.2) are next quickest. Of those who set fire to Ballarat's final straight, none were quicker than Tact Tate, who hit the line in a 25.8-second final quarter on the back of a succession of 30-second quarters. Set on January 21 2017, the last quarter record survived 2018's short-course Inter Dominion heats, when Wrappers Delight (26.1 seconds) and Cruz Bromac (26.3) both ripped home. Duke Of Albany (26.1 seconds) and Jazz King (26.2) complete the top five. Wrappers Delight's express last quarter was part of the quickest last half (800 metres) run at Bray Raceway, a domain Ride High has made his own at Tabcorp Park Melton. Can he join this list on Saturday night? TOP 10 LAST HALVES RECORDED BY WINNERS AT BALLARAT OVER 1710M:   WINNER RACE NAME DATE LAST 800 Q3 Q4 MR WRAPPERS DELIGHT TAB INTER DOMINION (HEAT) 4/12/18 53.9 27.8 26.1 1:53.6 JOE NIEN DREVER SIGNS PACE 26/12/18 54.2 27.5 26.7 1:54.2 AMERICAN ALLI FLYING HORSE PACE 4/6/20 54.5 27.3 27.2 1:56.2 THE STORM INSIDE LIGHTNING SPRINT 26/12/19 54.6 27.3 27.3 1:50.7 CENTENARIO C&H HOLLOWAY 3YO CLASSIC 24/5/19 54.6 28.2 26.4 1:53.4 CYRUS MY LIGHTNING BLUE FFA 13/12/14 54.6 27.8 26.8 1:54.0 SOMEBEACHSHADOW HEWITT & WHITTY PACE 19/2/19 54.8 27.8 27 1:57.6 RACKEMUP TIGERPIE VHRSC LIGHTNING SPRINT 26/12/18 54.9 28.2 26.7 1:52.1 ROY GEORGE PETSTOCK PACE 21/1/17 54.9 28.5 26.4 1:54.1 BETTORS PACKAGE VICBRED PLAT CTRY SERIES 26/12/14 54.9 28.6 26.3 1:55.0     HRV - Michael Howard

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