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Emma Stewart recorded her 300th training win of 2017-18 today, the most wins an Australian trots trainer has produced in a single season. Only hours after claiming three Group 1s titles at last night’s TAB Breeders Crown it was back to business for the Ballarat trainer at Warragul, where she achieved the unprecedented milestone with Tiger Storm winning the Leonie Collins and Deb Quinlan 2YO Pace. The victory moved Stewart pass the record set by Queensland trainer Bill Dixon in 2010-11, with Stewart amassing the triple century from just 772 starts, a remarkable 39 per cent win rate. The achievement is testimony to Stewart and her great partnership with Clayton Tonkin, who said they had a real “passion for it and I’m sure when success follows you, you want to work hard because it’s something you love”. Last night’s TAB Breeders Crown delivered three Group 1 wins to Stewart’s stable, with Ride High winning the showcase IRT three-year-old colts and geldings final and Lauriston Bloodstock speedsters Speak No Evil and Hurricane Harley claiming their divisions. “(Ride High’s) very special to us, for him to win I'm very excited,” Stewart said. “We just let him mature and he's only had a handful of starts and he just keeps getting better and better." Tiger Storm’s victory that brought up the 300 was fittingly steered by reinsman Chris Alford, boosting his season win tally to 447, a national driving record that by Friday’s season end will be a mark that many think will never be bettered. Michael Howard

A STAR-studded field of three-year-old boys has been assembled to contest tonight’s $195,000 IRT Group 1 Breeders Crown final. And racing, punting and media experts believe it is shaping at the season’s greatest harness race. Eight Group 1s are scheduled,peaking at 8.33pm with the three-year-old colts and geldings final. The voice of Victorian harness racing, Dan Mielicki, said there was a possibility this could be the best race in Victoria this season. “The high-quality depth is obvious,” he said. “It’s the end of the three-year-old season and looking at horses like Ignatius, Ride High, who is possibly still on the up, Poster Boy is such a classy professional and the Derby winner (Colt Thirty One) has drawn gate one and is almost an afterthought. “If people are struggling to put the Derby winner in their top three, that gives a reflection of how strong it is.” The quality is also reflected in the numbers. When compared to the previous four stagings of the race, the winning percentage of this year’s class (47 per cent of all starts) far exceeds any other. The next highest was 41 per cent in 2015-16, when Menin Gate saluted, and the average winning mile rate (1:56.6) was almost two seconds slower than this year’s contenders. The depth is not lost on top New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who will steer South East Derby winner Duplicated, a $35 TAB chance, from gate 12. “The overall quality is high, four or five of the best chances could win any other year,” he said. “James Rattray’s Ignatius heat run was very, very good, as was Poster Boy — they are two real class acts.” Their war in last Saturday night’s Breeders Crown semifinal at Bendigo is burned into the memory of leading bookmaker Tom Hogan. “Poster Boy and Ignatius were the best of the heat runs,” he said. “I’d probably tip Poster Boy from Ignatius, but the depth and quality — I’m sure in 18 months’ these horses are going in Grand Circuit races and I’m sure they will measure up. “I’ve never seen a field like this — it presents as one of the greatest three-year-old races I’ve seen in the last 20 years. “This field is as good as you can get … usually you only get one or two that stand out, this time it’s five or six.” Michael Howard

Victorian trots drivers have revealed some of the most poisionous tweets and messages directed at them in a bid to draw the spotlight on the damage such attacks can have. The message #BeKindToYourDrivers has been reinforced today across Trots Media's digital channels with a video featuring drivers Rebecca Bartley, Greg Sugars, Chris Alford, Alex Ashwood, Ellen Tormey and David Miles, the result of a collaboration between Harness Racing Victoria and the Off And Pacing mobile harness racing game. Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association president Lance Justice said the negative impact of these text attacks was often significant. "As an industry we need to speak up and say abusing drivers on social media is not okay," Justice said. "It happens to all of us and there’s nothing worse than when you out there on the racetrack and things don’t go your way to then see a torrent of abuse, which wrecks your day, your night and your weekend. "Punters want to hear from drivers on social media, but they won’t get too if these drivers are being discouraged to use those channels by abuse. The VTDA is very supportive of the #BeKindToYourDrivers campaign.” Participants are reminded they have free access to the Industry Assistance Program offered by Harness Racing Victoria, which provides support for a range of personal or work-related issues. Watch the video here!   Michael Howard Trots Media

The Race To Royalty is taking shape during TAB Breeders Crown heats week in Victoria, with local and abroad two and three-year-olds making their play for the age racing riches. All two-year-old Victorian heat contestants at Ballarat on Tuesday and Kilmore on Wednesday booked places in the August 18 semi-finals at Bendigo's Lords Raceway. Fifteen contested the Always B Miki fillies Victorian heats and they will likely be joined by All Stars' Art Major three-year-old Our Princess Tiffany, who is unbeaten in seven starts including in the $150,000 2YO Diamond and on her Australian debut at Menangle on Tuesday. The class is also expected to feature Australian heat winners Miss Streisand (New South Wales), Betamerica (Queensland) and Mandy John (Western Australia). Soho Crucio (South Australia) and Karalta Moondance (Tasmania) may also attend, but Gladamare (New Zealand North Island) will not. The TAB.com.au has listed Princess Tiffany a $1.80 favourite in all-in markets for the two-year-old fillies ahead of Emma Stewart's Kualoa ($3.20) and Mick Stanley's Soho Nolita ($5.50). The 14 contestants of last night's Woodlands Stud two-year-old colts and geldings Victorian heats have also advanced to semi-finals night, where they likely be confronted by four interstate or international visitors. While Kolovos (New Zealand North Island), Leonidas (New South Wales) and Regulus (Queensland) have been ruled out, All Stars colt Im Anothermasterpiece will endeavour to build on his record of seven wins and three placings from 10 starts at the Breeders Crown. Culture King (South Australia), The Embezzler (Western Australia) and Max Delight (Tasmania) are also expected at the Bendigo semi-finals, but it's a Victorian pair who top the TAB.com.au all-in market. Heat winners Hurricane Harley ($2.40) and Centenario ($3.40) are on top, with Im Another Masterpiece ($4.50) and Bernie Hewitt's College Chapel ($5) tipped to be snapping at their heels. Tonight it's the turn of the three-year-old fillies to have their Woodlands Stud heats, and it's likely all 21 contestants will advance to the August 18 semi-finals after the scratchings of Hows The Memory and Fire Safe from tonight. Likely to be waiting for them in the semi-finals are Jarades Delight (New South Wales), Red Charmer (Queensland) and Our Angel Of Harlem (Western Australia). The jury is still out on South Australian heat winner Melodys Daughter, while Western Glory (Tasmania) and New Zealand heat winners Somethingaboutmary and the brilliant Shez All Rock have been ruled out. Punters think with the absence of Shez All Rock, who experienced a leg complaint, the Victorians will deliver the ultimate Race to Royatly winner in this class, with the TAB.com.au listing Emma Stewart's Speak No Evil a $2.50 favourite. Our Angel Of Harlem ($3), the former Kiwi who's now stationed with WA trainer Mike Reed, and Courtney Slater's well-traveled Goodtime Heaven ($3.50) are next in the market. There will be no shortage of excitement around the three-year-old colts and geldings heats, with Ignatius (New South Wales) and VHRSC Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One (Queensland) both set for Breeders Crown campaigns, as is New Zealand qualifier Diamonds N Cash, who will race for Victorian trainer Andy Gath. Today's withdrawal of Ange McDowell's much-loved Lumineer will dampen the Victorian resistance, but Emma Stewart's clan of Ride High, Poster Boy and Konan are all in single figures with the TAB.com.au, which has Ignatius ($2.30) on top. With scratchings excluded, 27 horses will contest Friday night's heats, vying to be among the 21 who will challenge the three raiders in the August 18 semi-finals. The Victorian trotters have their heats at Maryborough next Thursday. New Zealand heats have seen Stress Factor, winner of Sunday's Victorian Trotters Derby, and Show Gait qualify for the respective boys and girls three-year-old finals. The jury is still out on whether two-year-old boys Anditover and Enhance Your Calm will make the trip across the Tasman, but two-year-old fillies Enable Me and On The Mantlepiece aren't expected. Michael Howard

An extraordinarily well-bred pacer has scooped one of the most prized trotting titles on the calendar with Emerald Stride claiming the Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic. A delighted trainer-driver David Miles swept past leader Always Ready via the sprint lane to salute in the Redwood Day feature at Maryborough today. “Unbelievable,” Miles told Rob Auber on Trots Vision post-race. “I was having a look on Friday at the honour roll for this race and some great trainers and drivers have won it. To be amongst them now is really special.” Miles said prolific owner Emilio Rosati would be “stoked” with the Group 1 triumph by his two-year-old filly, who’s not only sired by pacing great Bettors Delight but is out of Emilios Stride, a half-sister to US Pacer of the Year Well Said. “We did qualify her as a pacer, she just wasn’t quite fast enough,” Miles said. “The day we switched her over we knew she was something special. “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. 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 run a mile in five, they don’t do that after only have the trotting shoes on a week.” That trotting destiny was fulfilled with victory in today’s $50,000 Classic, when Emerald Stride ripped off the second row to challenge favourite Always Ready for the lead before settling on leader’s back and pouncing late. “To land where she did off the second row was amazing,” Miles said. “When the barrier draw come out I was really shattered because I thought if she drew the front line she was going to be super hard to beat and to win off the back row here is very hard to do. “(Behind) leader was the perfect spot in this sort of race. It was very windy. The leader did a great job, that wind down the back straight really hurt the horses out in the open and I just had the perfect trip.” Michael Howard

The stress factor hit fever pitch in the final strides but Brent Lilley’s recent addition held off fast-finishing Kyvalley Finn to claim the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby. Stress Factor delivered Lilley his fourth victory of the day, following earlier Redwood Day success with El Paco, On Fast Forward and Kyvalley Blur, with the Derby winner holding on by a half-head for driver Chris Alford and new owners John Wilkinson, Fred Crews, Bruce Morrison, Denise Morrison, Gary Dowling and Robert Owen. The syndicate purchased the Majestic Son gelding in June and he went three-from-three with today’s Group 1 triumph at Maryborough. “Victorian Derbys are always something you aspire to win and to pull it off was great,” Lilley told Trots Vision post-race. “He looked like he was holding them off fairly comfortably but (Kyvalley Finn) come late. We were all pleased the line come up when it did.” Alford worked to the lead from gate three, with Andy Gath’s polemarker Reils taking leader’s back and his stablemate Scallywag Sam sitting in the breeze, punching a back-straight head wind that had challenged front runners throughout the day. Despite little pressure on the leader throughout the 2690m long-distance Derby the pace remained honest. “Probably could have gone a bit slower, but he just wanted to keep rolling along pretty strong,” Alford said. “They don’t get a 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 the ones back in the field are in the same boat. “I thought we were holding on pretty good until about the last 50. (Kyvalley Finn) did rush through really quick but I did think we hung on on the line.” For Alford the result will ease some of the pain of having his usual drive for this class, Wobelee, sidelined by injury, and Stress Factor appears well poised to deliver more success for connections. “He was really brave,” Alford said. “He really fought it out well. He did a good job and hopefully he can keep going for the Breeders Crown.” Michael Howard for Trots Media

The Storm Inside versus Sofala, a quality crop of three-year-olds and the progression of returning contender Philadelphia Man will be among the feature moments in Saturday night’s racing at Tabcorp Park Melton. Good Form analyst Blake Redden has drawn a big circle around race two, the Garrards Horse and Hound Pace Final, featuring Donna Castles’ winner of four straight (Sofala) against Emma Stewart’s The Storm Inside, who’s unbeaten at 10 attempts. “The Storm Inside made it 10 straight when stomping clear at Ballarat last time and we’re yet to see anything like the bottom of him in his career to date, so if he zips across them early it will take a mighty performance to run him down,” Redden said. “Sofala may well be able to stake claim to being that giant-killer. He is incredibly raw but ultra-talented and if he was able to put it all together, he would have an outside shot of knocking off the likely favourite.” GET ALL THE GOOD FORM FOR SATURDAY NIGHT There will also be plenty of interest in the Always B Miki Graduate, with Kerryn Manning trained Yankee Lincoln, unbeaten in two starts, to test that form against the likes of Tam Major. That race follows the big dance, the Blacks A Fake Free For All at 7.33pm, when Berisari is marked favourite despite a tricky second line draw in an even race that features plenty of front line talent. Berisari’s stablemate Philadelphia Man (pictured) will likely also draw much interest, with the veteran second up after an encouraging return on July 21, which broke almost three years on the sidelines. Reinsman Chris Alford said “he felt pretty good” on return in the Hygain Our Maestro Free For All. “If you look at the sectionals he went 1:52 in the last mile and probably would have run fourth but was checked in the straight,” he said. “I think he’s still got it, otherwise they wouldn’t be sending him around. The more racing he has the better he will get.” His second row draw will likely ensure he’s driven quietly again on Saturday night as he builds up to full race fitness. “I will probably drive him for one run,” Alford said. “Hopefully there will be a bit more tempo than last time so we can get him up there late. “He’s always been driven as the enforcer and makes his own luck, but when he is first up in three years you have to drive him a bit soft. If he can put three or four runs together we will try and put in the race so he can use his strength like he used to.” Michael Howard for Trots Media

A quick learner has delivered Ellen Tormey and her gelding’s connections a dream place in a long coveted race. Quick Andover’s unfavourable draw in today’s Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of his Bendigo trainer-driver Tormey and owner-breeders John Tormey, Kevin Clark and Ian Patterson.  “The owners are mad trotting fans and are stoked to be in it,” Tormey said ahead of her debut Redwood Classic. “I’m rapt to get a chance this year.” While the Classic had been a goal of connections it didn’t always appear likely. “Dad (John) did all the early work with him and I got him a month before the Vicbred Platinum (in May),” Tormey said. “Dad always had a pretty good opinion of him, but when I got him, to be honest, I thought the horse had no idea. He probably hadn’t worked with a lot of other horses and he didn’t do a lot at his trials.” Therefore Quick Andover’s third placing on debut in his heat of the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic “surprised”, preceding a fourth placing in the $50,000 final “and he has just kept improving”. “He’s pretty easy to get along with,” Tormey said. “His family has a history of being a bit crazy, so I let him do his own thing and his last two starts he has been perfect. It is a pleasure to do anything with him.” Quick Andover’s career now stretches eight starts that have yielded two wins and three third placings, including a last start win at Maryborough on July 26 when he made his standing start debut in preparation for Sunday’s discipline. The start will be all important today. Four of the 12 combatants are yet to begin from a standing start but will have earned their starting tickets through trials. Drawing gate 13, the widest gate on the back row, means Tormey and Quick Andover will be able to watch the early drama unfold. “With two lines of six across at the start there is not a lot of room for error,” Tormey said. “It will be a new experience for them, but most will hopefully handle the occasion. “Starting from 13 is not ideal, but we will be out of the way of the really bad traffic and following through two good ones. “He’s going to need a bit of luck in this class. He’ll need a sit, but if he gets up close I think he can run in the top five. “I know whatever he does this season he will improve on after a break, because he looks more like a three-year-old, but to have a horse good enough to go in the Redwood is an honour.” Michael Howard for Trots Media

Bendigo trainer-driver Chris Svanosio's whirlwind season could ascend to an even greater tier when the talented horseman brings a strong hand to Maryborough for Sunday's trotting showcase. The two-day Redwood Carnival peaks with Sunday's Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at 3.47pm, when Svanosio will present two genuine chances in the $75,000 age classic. He will take the reins of well-drawn Kyvalley Finn and also trains Anywhere Hugo, the fancied and well-bred three-year-old who last month gifted Svanosio his first Group 1 as a trainer when winning the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series final. "Anywhere Hugo won a Group 1 a little while ago, so it's good to have him back and up again in the Derby on Sunday," Svanosio told Gait Speed today. The gelding by Majestic Son has won five of his 18 starts and been in the top three on 11 occasions, including when he placed third in last Saturday's SBG Accountants 3YO Trot at Tabcorp Park Melton. On that occasion Anywhere Hugo was slow away and has paid the price, with stewards placing the gelding out of the draw, which will have him start from gate 13. "I was very happy with his run," Svanosio said. "Being drawn out the back doesn't matter too much, it's a long trip, so (driver) Gavin (Lang) can keep out of trouble early and I'm sure he will be running home hard at the finish. "When you look at his sectional times (last start), Anywhere Hugo has run the quickest last mile and just kept running home the last 400 out three wide. He pulled up terrific, so I'm sure he will be fitter on Sunday." As mentioned, Svanosio will also field Kyvalley Finn in the Derby. "Anywhere Hugo's got a little bit more ability than Kyvalley Finn, but Kyvalley Finn just tries his hardest every time and he hasn't had a lot of luck in the bigger races with the draw," Svanosio said, before Kyvalley Finn was blessed with gate two for Saturday's Derby. "(From a good draw) he can get a nice trip up near them and I'm sure he will be finishing off pretty good. He's always pretty honest." It could be a big day for the 36-year-old, who will also take the reins of Group 1 winning trotter Sparkling Success. He is first up from a spell on Sunday in the Peter Egan Bi-Rite Electrical Trotters Free For All. It's an important outing for his Warrnambool trainer-owner-breeder John Meade, with Sparkling Success bound for a ground-breaking trip to the US to contest the International Trot at New York's Yonkers Raceway. "With going to the US in mind, (John Meade's) happy with how he's come up," Svanosio said. "He's had a few trials and will kick off on Sunday in the free for all. All going good he will have a couple of runs and is due to head to America mid-September." Michael Howard for Trots Media

A largely stress-free victory on Saturday night has set Brent Lilley’s latest purchase on a smooth path towards Sunday’s Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby. Stress Factor found the front in Saturday night’s SBG Accountants 3YO Trot for reinsman Chris Alford and held off fast-finishing Majestic Player to salute ahead of a number of likely Derby opponents, including third-placed Anywhere Hugo and fourth-placed Kyvalley Finn. “He was really good,” Alford told Trots Vision post-race. “He raced in all the good races in New Zealand and then has been purchased by Brent and his clients. He’s done a good job and was really strong tonight.” The hit-out at Tabcorp Park was Stress Factor’s Australian debut, having previously raced in New Zealand for co-trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, for whom he produced three wins in eight starts and ran fourth in the 3YO Ruby on Harness Jewels day, finishing 1.4m behind Alford’s third-placed Wobelee. “He seemed to wait for them a little bit, I’m pretty sure that’s just because he hasn’t had a run for a little bit,” Alford said. “Brent said his work at home, he feels like a nice horse. He’s got the Derby next weekend and then hopefully on to the Breeders Crown, he should just keep getting better.” Michael Howard

More records and milestones appear in the path of Victoria's dynamic duo, with Chris Alford set to become the first Australian driver to notch 400 wins in a season and Emma Stewart zeroing in on a record of her own. Having eclipsed Daryl Douglas' 388 wins last week to set a new mark, Alford has continued on his winning ways and looks likely to cross the 400 barier at Ballarat tomorrow night.The Bolinda reinsman steered On Fast Forward to victory for Brent Lilley today at Maryborough, which was the first taste in the build up to the August 3 and 5 Redwood Carnival. Alford sits on 398 wins for the season prior to racing at Bray Raceway tomorrow night, when he has two favourites among six drives, those being Stewart's first starter Swimsuit Edition and brilliant four-year-old The Storm Inside. Victories to those pacers in races three and four would also draw Stewart closer to the record for most wins in a season by an Australian trainer. Stewart has amassed 265 wins, breaking the stable's previous mark (216 set in 2016-17) and also seeing her notch the most training wins in a season by a Victorian on record, eclipsing Andy Gath's 240 in 2002-03. That has Stewart within eyesight of Bill Dixon's record for most wins in a season by an Australian trainer, which stands at 299 set in 2010-11. Remarkably, Dixon and his son, Grant, fill the top 10 places on that list with the exception of Stewart's current season. Grant is also compiling a historic season, having produced 273 wins in 2017-18, eight more than Stewart and 26 shy of his dad's record with a little over a month to go. Making Stewart and training parter Clayton Tonkin's achievements all the more stunning is that she's achieved those 265 wins from only 667 starts, a 39.7% winning strike rate. By comparison, Grant Dixon has this season had 1793 starters for his 273 wins and Bill Dixon's all-time record was created from 1436 starts. With the TAB Breeders Crown still on the horizon for Stewart in the 2017-18 season and her slew of two, three and four-year-old contenders the window is open for her to build on a historic season with Alford.    Most Australian wins in a season by a trainer - Top 20 No. Name Season Starts Wins 1 Bill Dixon 2010-11 1436 299 2 Grant Dixon 2016-17 1739 286 3 Grant Dixon 2014-15 1766 282 4 Grant Dixon 2017-18 1793 273 5 Emma Stewart 2017-18 667 265 6 Grant Dixon 2011-12 1630 265 7 Bill Dixon 2009-10 1319 264 8 Grant Dixon 2013-14 1594 260 9 Grant Dixon 2015-16 1706 245 10 Bill Dixon 2007-08 1146 243 11 Bill Dixon 2008-09 1199 242 12 Andy Gath 2002-03 791 240 13 Grant Dixon 2012-13 1537 226 14 Greg & Skye Bond 2015-16 1010 221 15 Greg & Skye Bond 2014-15 881 221 16 Shane Tritton 2014-15 1037 220 17 Peter Manning 1999-00 724 218 18 Amanda Turnbull 2013-14 1250 217 19 Luke McCarthy 2011-12 683 217 20 Emma Stewart 2016-17 594 216   Michael Howard Trots Media

A stress fracture has sidelined brilliant trotter Wobelee from the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown but trainer Alison Alford is confident he will make a full recovery. Having won 14 of his 19 starts, including five Group 1s, Alford’s three-year-old will be gifted a much-deserved rest until after Christmas to mend, with connections grateful the injury was discovered before it developed further. “It’s a stress fracture from wear and tear. Good horses naturally push themselves harder,” Alford said. The injury was discovered after the gelding was sent for a scintigraphy, which highlights hotspots and inflammation. "(Driver) Chris (Alford) had a niggling feeling something wasn't right with him, but we had no idea what," Alford said. "(Wobelee) just wasn't happy and was probably a bit more cantankerous than usual. “The test came up with inflammation in his knees and a couple of other spots. We brought him home and x-rayed him and found there was small movement in his knee. He had a MRI and it showed his knee’s change and we were told that if he didn’t rest it could become more significant.” The stress fracture is a considerable disappointment given Wobelee’s impending tilt at the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby on August 5 and his favouritism in future markets for the three-year-old boys trotting Breeders Crown. But connections are taking considerable comfort that the fan favourite’s injury had been discovered before it worsened. “We’re just so lucky that Chris picked up on it,” Alford said. “He wasn’t lame or racing terribly, but you wonder how much it has annoyed him. “He will have six months off and it should then be onwards and upwards. He will likely come back in just after Christmas and probably have a drawn out prep, but there should be no reason why he can’t be in next year’s big races.” Michael Howard

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

The next generation of harness racing participants can now learn from one of the best after Group 1 winner Charlie Machsheen joined Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Manager Jenni Lewis was thrilled to accept the Vicbred Super Series winner, who amassed $324,730 in stakes across a 117-race career that included 19 wins. The 10-year-old Mach Three gelding had his last start for owners Ted and Merryn Demmler and Tineke Lochhead at Menangle on March 27, after which they decided to draw the curtain on his distinguished career. "His owners felt he had done enough and thought he could be of great service to us," Lewis said. "I heard from Ted and Merryn on Wednesday, picked him up on Friday morning and brought him back. He's just perfect. He went out on the track for the first time today and is a real gentleman." Lewis said having a Group-level competitor permanently stationed at the centre's Warragul facility would be invaluable for its students. "This is a chance for the students to feel what a really good horse is like," she said. "It's not often the students get to experience a Group 1 winner, they give you a different feel. "It's hard to explain it, they have a presence the average horse doesn't have. You can't get the smile off your face. It's just great being around him, he's just such a professional." Lewis said time spent with Charlie Machsheen would expose students to what a Group-level horse felt like, potentially helping them when purchasing their own racehorses down the track and also exposing them to a range of high-level experiences. So, while his racing career is over, he will still see plenty of the racecourse. "We will use him for all facets of training, from driving to gearing him up and handling him," she said. "Students will do jogwork, fastwork, standing starts - he's an all-rounder and there's nothing he can't teach them. "He is quite a tall horse, about 17 hands, and so it is a chance for the students to gear up a bigger horse. They can also enjoy watching videos of him winning big races and then experience driving them himself." by Michael Howard, for Harness Racing Victoria  

Maori Time is the fifth entrant into Sweden’s famed Elitloppet as Australia bursts back on to harness racing’s European stage. The much-anticipated invitation was received overnight, which will see Maori Time leave Australia’s shores on May 9 to contest the May 27 Elitloppet at Stockholm’s famed Solvalla race track. Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the invitation was a great result for connections and the Victorian trotting gait. “It is a terrific feather in the cap for all to have a horse considered good enough to make that trip,” Mr Kelly said. “This is not a small adventure to be undertaken by connections and by Maori Time herself.” Owner and breeder Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley have both long awaited the invitation, which was pursued soon after Maori Time produced an Australian record smashing 1:51.5 mile rate when saluting at Menangle on February 24. She will be the first Australian-trained horse to make the trip since Sundons Gift ran sixth in his heat in the 2009 Elitloppet. “It’s a very short and elite list,” Mr Kelly said of Australia’s Elitloppet entrants. “It’s the most famous race in Scandinavia if not Europe. “Fans from all over attend the day, they paint their faces and dress in their traditional grab to make the most of the day. The horses are very well known in that part of the world and have their own fan clubs.” Maori Time is only the fifth horse to have been invited for the May 27 race day, which features two heats into a final. The eight-year-old by Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna joins other invitees Readly Express (Sweden), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland), Bold Eagle (France) and Propulsion (Sweden). Her exposure on the world stage further reinforces Australia’s trotting wealth and strengthens European bonds. “It’s important not only to be sharing our racing product to Europe but that people realise the bloodstock talent that exists in Australia and that Europeans may want to invest in Australia as well,” Mr Kelly said. “It is a great opportunity to showcase some of our bloodlines. The wagering on our racing is bubbling along really well in Europe and those in Sweden are really interested in our product.” Trots Media - Michael Howard READ: ELITLOPPET A TRIP OF A LIFETIME, FRED CREWS TOLD THETROTS.COM.AU

The chance to again have his stable’s name etched on the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup is well worth the across-state haul for Gary Barton, harness racing trainer and owner of cup hopeful Mustang Bart. The Warrnambool resident will hit the road tomorrow to venture to the riverside trots town, where the $30,000 Group 3 classic has attracted a cracking field amid a 10-race card. “It would be five hours on a good day in a truck but we will have a crack at it,” Barton said. “I won it many, many years ago with Another Bart but I haven’t been back there since.” That cup win came in 1990 and Barton said he’d been waiting to get a horse good enough to have another tilt and, in Mustang Bart, he believes he may have just the ticket. The Gotta Go Cullect four-year-old is a winner of nine of his 35 starts, with Echuca’s cup to be his sixth race at Group level, attempts that have thus far produced two placings and an eye-catching fifth in the January 27 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza. “He went super (in the 4YO Bonanza) and I think he’s got a really good chance in the race if you have a look at the sectionals the other night, he ran his last mile in 1:52 and he got home in 53.7 – they don’t go much better than that,” Barton said. “At the 400m he was 25m off the lead and he’s been beaten nine, so he’s got a big chance in the cup if he has a bit of luck.” Fellow Echuca combatant and favourite for the cup Motu Meteor was also impressive when third in the 4YO Bonanza, while Code Black and Shakahari are also among a class field. All bodes for a cracking cup, which shares the program with the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket, a $12,000 trot that carries important points in the Maori’s Idol Trophy. Saturday night combatants Quillabamba, Sky Petite and My Skypocket, all trotting cup winners this season, are among the leaders for the trophy, which for the first time carries a $10,000 prize for connections. Racing at Echuca starts at 6.32pm, with the cup to take centre stage at 9.30pm.   Trots Media - Michael Howard

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