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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

A new bumper night of feature racing will bring to a close the Trots Country Cups Championship with the Shepparton Cup rescheduled to form the season finale. The $50,000 Group 2 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup will be staged on Saturday, April 28, sharing the card with the club’s trotting cup, trotting oaks and two-year-old trotters’ classic in what presents as a brilliant night’s racing. Shepparton Harness Racing Club manager Ian McDonald said it was “going to be a fantastic night”. “Having the Mildura, Horsham and Shepparton cups all in the month of April is a huge boost to harness racing in the regions and a great way to finish off the Trots Country Cups Championship,” he said. The championship, led by Bendigo Cup winner Messini, carries a $25,000 prize for the trainer and owner of the triumphant horse, a monster carrot that will help fuel a worthy edition of the great race. The cup was rescheduled after Saturday night’s meeting had to be postponed, and later abandoned, after race six due to a power outage. “There was a fire in the base of one of the light towers, most likely caused by a burnt-out capacitor that set fire to the wiring in the pole,” Mr McDonald said. “The damage is significant and there was no scope to repair it in time.” Mr McDonald said it was a shattering blow given a crowd of about 1600 people had turned out for the cup meeting, but he said all in attendance were very understanding and he was confident they’d be back on April 28. “We are blessed to have very loyal trots supporters in Shepparton who love their sport and a great night out and we look forward to having them back for the April cup.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A monster weekend awaits that could reshape the lucrative Trots Country Cups Championship, with Shepparton and Hamilton harness racing clubs taking their moment in the spotlight. While championship leaders Shadow Sax and Messini pursuit Group 1 acclaim across the border in the $100,000 South Australian Cup, quality runners will attempt to score valuable championship in this weekend’s Victorian cups double-header. The Mathews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup has presented an even field with Keayang Kallisto, Keep On Rocking, Bad Billy, Berisari and It Is Billy in single figures with TAB.com.au amid a Sunday race card that also features a keenly contested Porthaul Hamilton Trotters Cup. But before the dust is disturbed at Hamilton some of the summer’s most promising pacers will battle for the $50,000 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, which takes centre stage at 9.20pm on Saturday. Among that number is San Carlo, fresh from his breakthrough Inter Dominion heat win, dual Tasmanian cups winner Major Secret and trainer Sonya Smith’s promising pacer Moonrock. The latter made a bold play for the PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup lead last Saturday, challenging Ideal For Real before driver Anthony Butt had to relent and then struggled for a run in the dying stages. “On paper it looked as though we might get to the front, we had a crack and it wasn’t to be,” Butt told the Trots Talk radio show. “Ideal For Real raced outside his normal pattern and he wanted to hold the front too. That’s racing and we’ll turn the page and get on with it.” Moonrock has drawn gate seven for Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup and Butt said they would use the front line draw to stay ahead of major back row threats. “With the two good ones, San Carlo and Major Secret, drawn the second row, we’ll try and keep ahead of them and go from there,” Butt said. “(San Carlo’s) a great horse, one of the up and comers and raced really well in the Inter Dominion in Perth so he’s obviously the class horse in the race.” It could be a lucrative night for team Smith and Butt, who also team with Hey Yo in Group 3 race The George Gath, the former Kiwi whose been impressive in her first Victorian season. She will start from gate two, inside fellow mare and favourite Red Hot Tooth. “(Hey Yo’s) been fantastic since she come over from New Zealand,” Butt said. “She raced at a pretty good level over there but couldn’t quite compete with the very best ones. “Three starts for two wins and a second, and a big run last week behind Sparkling Success (at Bendigo). (Shepparton’s) probably a little bit easier field, but in saying that Red Hot Tooth’s been in her best form and probably should be hard to beat along with a few of the others.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The first bricks along the road to the VHRSC Victoria Derby will be paved this weekend when some of Victoria’s leading lights begin their pursuit of the harness racing three-year-old crown. Ange McDowell’s unbeaten Sportswriter colt Lumineer will contest Friday night’s $20,000 VHRSC 3Y0 Classic and then, less than 23 hours later, Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series winner Poster Boy kick starts his summer campaign at Bendigo in the Alabar 3YO Pace. The two are yet to cross swords and almost certainly won’t until their Victoria Derby campaigns, which begin with semi-finals on Ballarat Pacing Cup night (January 20). A favourite of trainer Emma Stewart, Poster Boy has won seven of his 10 starts and pipped Lumineer for the Victorian two-year-old pacing colt and gelding of the year, a statehood Stewart is confident her colt can reinforce in the January 27 $200,000 Derby final. “I think he’s come back terrific and I’m itching to take on Lumineer,” Stewart told RSN 927. “He’s probably the benchmark, but I think we’ve pegged him back a bit and (Poster Boy) will run a terrific race on Saturday night.” She said Poster Boy’s “up and going, he’s ready to fire”, and when asked directly whether she could knock off Australian Pacing Gold winner Lumineer she was typically confident.  “Of course with Poster Boy and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our other ones (beat Lumineer) too,” Stewart said. “I’m definitely not worried.” LISTEN: EMMA STEWART JOINED RSN 927 TO TALK ABOUT HER RUNNERS The “other one” she referred to is Maraetai, her lightly raced Somebeachsomewhere colt who has won both his starts, the last on November 10 at Bendigo. Stewart also signalled that Konan, who will contest Saturday night’s Strath Village IGA Pace at Bendigo, was also Derby bound, being “a good strong fella” and “a lovely horse, he just has to learn to settle in his races”. And so it’s over to Lumineer, who will attempt to produce a seventh win from as many starts at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night against a field of combatants that includes Stewart’s Art Major gelding Amendment Thirteen. Reinsman Jason Lee, who has guided Lumineer to each of his victories, is looking forward to being back in the sulky behind trainer Ange McDowell’s superstar. “He’s obviously just a horse with untapped ability,” Lee said. “He’s shown that right through. He’s still learning his craft. He’s got plenty of upside. The sheer speed and how long he can maintain that speed is probably what sets him apart from most horses. “It doesn’t sort of matter what you do from here into the future, what he’s already done for Ange and the family in winning (the APG final), he’s probably already the horse of a lifetime. “Obviously you want him to go on and be a really good horse for a long time, but we will just take what comes and be grateful with that.” LISTEN: JASON LEE JOINED THE TROT LINE TO TALK LUMINEER, BAD BILLY AND VINCENNES The VHRSC Victoria Derby features as part of night one of the Summer Of Glory, which is headlined by the $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star. Details: www.summerofglory.com.au Trots Media - Michael Howard

Nominations close at noon tomorrow for the February 3 Del Re National A G Hunter Cup and already the bulk of trots harness racing's top tier have issued their intent to capture the crown. Victoria's premier pacing Group 1 has lured nominations from All Stars’ Lazarus and Heaven Rocks, 2017 champion Bling It On and placegetter Lennytheshark as well as top-line challengers Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara. Horses will be jostling in the upcoming Trots Country Cups, with six cups featuring across the next three weeks, to earn favour with the HRV handicapping panel and secure a start in the field. The likes of Shadow Sax, Ideal For Real, Ameretto, San Carlo, Stars Align, Cruz Bromac, Messini and Major Crocker are but a few of the many nominees whose connections will be hoping to see them showcased in the $500,000 Grand Circuit feature. A final reminder that nominations for the great race close at noon tomorrow. To nominate on HarnessWeb use race code MXM03021801. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will start post-race endoscopic horse examinations at Bendigo Harness Racing Club and Tabcorp Park Melton. This initiative will start at Bendigo on 8 February, 2018, and be trialled for 12 months at these two venues.  The program, the only one of its kind in Australian harness racing, will allow veterinarians acting upon the request of stewards to conduct thorough and timely post-race endoscopic examinations of horses that perform below expectations to identify any abnormalities and the need for further treatment. HRV Senior Veterinarian Dr Julia Aspinall said the examinations would allow vets to check horses’ airways and provide immediate feedback to owners and trainers on course while their horses were cooling down. “This service will assist the trainer and owner in identifying potential medical conditions which may be treated as early as possible to enhance horse health and welfare and therefore reduce costs to owners,” Dr Aspinall said. Trainers and owners also have the option, subject to the demands of the on-course veterinarians at Bendigo and Melton, to request endoscopic examinations for their horses. Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards will take precedence over requests from trainers for elective post-race scoping. A charge of $100 will be made for this service and digital images can be provided on request. Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards are free of charge. The examinations’ launch in Bendigo is an acknowledgement of the work of the club’s veterinarian Dr Kath McIntosh, who proposed post-race endoscopic examinations and then helped develop the concept with HRV General Manager-Integrity Brent Fisher. Mr Fisher said stewards would be provided with full details of those endoscopic examinations that were conducted by the veterinarians and these would be included in the stewards’ reports.    Notwithstanding Harness Racing Australia rules that apply to a horse’s nostrils, there will be no action taken on voluntary post–race scoping results unless a substantial trachea problem is evident that may require clearance by the stable veterinarian.  There will be more information provided to the Industry prior to the commencement date, but anyone seeking information can contact the HRV Integrity Department on (03) 8378 0222. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A Melbourne artist has had a close brush with harness racing royalty and loved every minute of it. Janet Hammill’s artworks include pieces on Pure Steel, Maoris Idol and Paleface Adios, having expanded her thoroughbred range at the request of a standardbred fan. The dabbling has given the UK-born artist a renewed angle for her lifelong passion.  “I used to ride horses all the time when I was a kid and always loved it and built it up from there,” Hammill said. With a client list that includes painting for jockey Joao Moreira, Hammill jumped at the chance to immortalise trots legends for a fan of the sport. “I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot about harness horses, particularly some of the real stars,” she said.  “The person I painted them for saw all those horses race and loved them. “I really enjoyed painting the harness horses and it’s an area I’d like to expand on in the future.” Hammill’s pieces can be viewed at http://www.janethammill.com Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

With two harness racing country cup wins in six days Shadow Sax has launched himself to the head of the Trots Country Cups Championship, and Emma Stewart’s lightly-raced favourite may be only just getting warmed up. A winner of 16 of his 24 starts who hasn’t missed a placing since start three, Shadow Sax has made up for lost time this season when the once terrific juvenile has overcome the niggles that burdened his four-year-old campaign. He was a class above when dominant in the December 3 Choices Flooring By Westside Stawell Pacing Cup, but it was perhaps his rugged win six days later in the Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup that reaffirmed his status. That was the view of veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who was in the sulky for both. “It was a step up again when he got to the Geelong Cup,” Lang said. “He had to withstand the pressure as John Of Arc started strong and continued to over race outside of him.” A 69.7-second lead time, almost a second faster than the lead time when It Is Billy set the track record in the 2016 cup, set the foundation before some respite with 30.5 and 30.6 first and second quarters. Love Ina Chevy loomed during a 27.3 third quarter when Shadow Sax saw off Lance Justice’s threat, and a 28.7 final quarter was required to keep leader’s back Cant Refuse (second) and quality swoopers Messini, It Is Billy, Tee Cee Bee Macray, Lets Elope and Mister Wickham at bay. “(Shadow Sax) has a laidback character and reserves himself until I give him a tap on the backside to wake him up and he hit the line really well,” Lang said. A 1.8m win captured the bulk of the $30,000 prizemoney for owner-breeders Russell and Pamela Hockham. “I don’t take any of (his opposition) horses for granted, they have all earned their spot,” Lang said. “Not every horse can step up into that grade, where the good ones just keep coming at you. He’s the new kid on the block. He’s always acquitted himself well, but he spent a long time out. I think whatever he does this campaign will auger well for the future.” His next chapter could well come in the January 6 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup, a $60,000 Group 2 pace that is the first of six country cups across three weeks. Michael Howard

Who will pull the trigger and when? That is but two of the many questions looming large ahead of Friday night’s Perth Inter Dominion, with harness racing pundits pondering what will happen in the first 800m and how that will affect the last 100m. Mark Purdon, Kim Prentice and Chris Alford joined RSN 927AM program Gait Speed today when hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden prodded for answers to the biggest questions. Their hopes have all drawn the front line outside pole marker Tiger Tara, but Purdon and Prentice intimated Lazarus and Soho Tribeca wouldn’t be running the gate. That would potentially open the door for Lennytheshark, the eight-year-old Victorian with genuine gate speed and strength, and Alford declared the fan favourite had the ability to lead, it was just a matter of whether they wanted to over the 2936m journey. “I’m pretty sure that if we pressed the button early (Lennytheshark) can cross Tiger Tara, but whether that’s going to be in the best interests of the horses later in the race is another thing,” Alford said. “We will go through all the scenarios and come Friday we will know where we are at.” Prentice, having suggested Soho Tribeca wouldn’t be in an early dogfight, instead urged Purdon to do the bulk of the work by advancing his favourite to the breeze and pressuring the likely leader. “If they go hard enough early, I wouldn’t mind popping around to the breeze,” Prentice said. “I don’t think the lead time will be that quick … but I really think Mark has to drive Lazarus (so that he) is eyeballing Tiger Tara at the mile.” For his part, Purdon said he expected Lazarus would be placed one out-one back or two back in the running, and he would then decide when to make his move. “You want it to be a staying test. It will just depend how it’s run when you make a move,” he said. “In the event if they do back off I’ll be making a move, if they don’t I’ll be waiting a little longer.” LISTEN: PURDON, PRENTICE AND ALFORD JOIN GAIT SPEED Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The sun will resurface on Sunday, the experts say, when Stawell will host its biggest day of harness racing in the wake of the big wet. Stawell Harness Racing Club has been preparing manfully throughout the course of the week amid the threat of 50-100mm of rain forecasted to fall up to Saturday. To make matters a little more challenging for the club, fire threatened on Thursday after nearby lightning strikes earlier today, but was soon brought under control by emergency services. Club CEO Lisa McIlvride said they had sealed the race track on Tuesday and again today to do their utmost to ensure a great day’s racing centred around the trotters and pacing cups. “We’re all prepared and have everything in place,” Ms McIlvride said. “We’ve got extra material and a spreader on standby. We can only do what we can do and hope for the best.” Talented pacers Shadow Sax and Bad Billy are among the Choices Flooring By Westside Stawell Pacing Cup, while My Skypocket will try to shoot clear of the pack in the Maori’s Idol Trophy Points Table in the Ecks Electrical Stawell Trotters Cup. “We have got good bookings for the bistro, kids’ activities and a big shed if it’s wet so all the fun can be had underneath cover,” Ms McIlvride said. “A lot of farmers are getting their crops off as we speak and have been hard at it for a few days now, so hopefully Sunday can help them and be a support.” Michael Howard

Great camaraderie and access to first-class facilities make Cranbourne's trots training centre a terrific place to toil, Mick Hughes told Beyond The Gates. The leading Cranbourne trainer, who spoke to Jason Bonnington for Trots Media's program that takes viewers into trainers' stables, has spent four years at Cranbourne Harness Racing Club's facility and said "things are just building". "It has been really good," Hughes said. "We've got a good group. If you ever get stuck or need a hand or you want to work two or three together there is always a Simone or Terry or Casey or Rick to help out and jump in and drive one for you. If you are home alone, you often think gee I wish I had a couple more here to work with." WATCH: EPISODE FOUR OF BEYOND THE GATES FEATURING MICK HUGHES Hughes said since he arrived at the Cranbourne facility, which sits in the south-west corner of the tri-code racecourse, his stable had increased from 10 horses to 18 and he had benefitted from accessing the club's shared facilities. "They've got the swimming pool, walker and the treadmill, which (Cruisin Around) spends a bit of time on when he's jogging, otherwise you jog him in the cart he doesn't really relax as much. That's where having those things is very handy." Cruisin Around returned on Saturday night and ran a stoic sixth from his back row draw in his Tabcorp Park Melton trot, when he was returning from an almost seven months spell. Hughes spoke fondly of the five-year-old in Beyond The Gates. "Apart from the first week, he was just A1," he said. "As much as he can be a real pain in trying to gear him up ... as soon as you get him in the cart he is just a totally different horse. "Every time you wanted to do some work he just did it with ease. He gave you a really good feel and has gone on with the job." Previous episodes of Beyond The Gates: Episode one: Kari Males Episode two: Brent Lilley Episode three: Steve Cleave Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Some of the greatest racehorses in the world will be celebrated amid some of the finest drops of champagne and nibbles as the annual racing celebration engulfs the Yarra Valley. The two-day delights moulds the Spring Racing Carnival's Melbourne Cup and Victoria Oaks with some fantastic trots racing, which peaks with Thursday’s Yarra Valley pacing and trotting cups. And not only will horse racing fans be able to savour the deeds of gallops favourites Marmelo and Aloisia on the big screen, but they will be able to see first-hand the two-time Victorian Horse Of The Year. Lennytheshark has been nominated amid a field of nine, which also includes talented topline pacers My Field Marshall and Tee Cee Bee Macray, for the pacing cup, a welcome addition for Yarra Valley club chief executive Brett Shambrook. “Lennytheshark is the trots equivalent of Winx, so hopefully he will attract more people to come along and enjoy him before he goes to Perth,” Mr Shambrook said. “He’s a great attraction.” Thursday’s Yarra Valley cups will cap a huge week that will begin with the club’s eight-race meeting on Melbourne Cup Day, when thousands will pour into the Yarra Glen racecourse to soak up the race that stops the nation away from the Flemington fervour. “It’s shaping up really well,” Mr Shambrook said. “Our pre-bookings are more than we have ever had before. We have 80 mini-marquees and the dining room is almost sold out. A few thousand people have booked and paid. “There are a lot of families who come year after year. It’s a nice family crowd. We’ve got eight races and the racing department – Gary Bennetts and his team – have done a fantastic job putting that together.” Two days after the public holiday the race track will be buzzing again for its dual cups on Oaks day. “We’ve found a home for our cup, which had been moved around. The dining room is booked, we will have a dozen marquees, the lounge is booked out with 150 people come and we will have a huge fashions on the field. “This year we are celebrating 70 years of harness racing in the Yarra Valley. Racing commenced in Healesville 70 years ago before coming across to Yarra Glen after it merged with the racing club. “We will have memorabilia from the old racecourse on track and the racebook will be a souvenir edition with historical stories.”  Trots Media - Michael Howard

An outstanding field will amass at the gates for Sunday’s flagship Maryborough trots race, with all but three of the harness racing combatants having won an elite Group race. Group 1 winners My Field Marshall, Milly Perez and Burnaholeinmypocket headline a stunning line-up for the Avoca-Maryborough Community Bank Branches Maryborough Gold Cup, which is flush with talent. Veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who will steer Thereal Usain Colt from the pole mark, said it was “an amazing field”. “There is some great depth in that race,” said Lang, who is only the second driver in the Southern Hemisphere to have steered more than 6000 winners. “In years gone by the honour roll (of Maryborough Cup winners) shows some very good horses have won that race and this year’s will be a great addition.” Fuelling the extraordinary field is not only the race’s prestige, its $30,000 prize and Group 3 status but also the fact it’s come on the back of the Allied Express Victoria, which year this was transferred from January’s Summer Of Glory to October 14. Five Victoria Cup combatants will step out in Sunday’s Gold Cup, including rising star San Carlo who will start from gate two and was a listed a $2.40 favourite for the Maryborough feature in TAB.com.au early betting. San Carlo has drawn directly outside Lang’s hope, Thereal Usain Colt who only on Saturday night ran third in the Swan Hill Pacing Cup and is expected to take great improvement from that outing. Swan Hill, the first of the Trots Country Cups Championship season’s 25 crowns, was Thereal Usain Colt’s first hit-out on Australian soil and in David Aiken’s camp, the latter the trainer of the two-time Victorian Horse of the Year Lennytheshark. First up since making the trip across the Tasman, Lang said his third placing at Swan Hill – where he led before fading late – was a promising performance. “His run was OK, he got a bit tired in the last 100m, which I glean from the camp was to be expected,” Lang said. “He has been with the team for not even a month and had no trial, so I’m expecting a fair bit of improvement.” The nine-race card also features the Seelite Windows & Doors Maryborough Trotters Cup, with a handicapped second line that boasts a particularly strong trio in My Tribeca, Sparking Success and Clover Mac. My Tribeca is Anton Golino’s mercurial mare and her trainer is hopeful this season may just be her coming out party. “When right she is really good, she just seems to find some new tricks,” Golino said. “She is very talented, it is just whether she puts it all together. “She’s six months behind in age and that’s why I haven’t really wound her right up. This year she’s starting to grow up physically and seems in a good spot.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Lennytheshark’s place as a giant of the trots was reaffirmed Sunday night when David Aiken’s superstar harness racing pacer was installed as Victorian Horse of the Year for the second successive year. A breathtaking Miracle Mile win separated the “people’s champion” from stablemate Hectorjayjay in a decision that divided judges, thrusting Lennytheshark into the status of dual winner, an honour only Shakamaker, Sokyola, Smoken Up and Caribbean Blaster have achieved before him. “He’s just an amazing animal,” Aiken said. “He’s got the best attitude and that’s why he goes good at Menangle, it’s a long straight and when others are getting tired he’s the one fighting on. He’s a tiger.” He was a popular winner at the industry’s gala night at the Palladium at Crown, which hosted a big crowd for a polished celebration behind hosts Michael Guerin and Adam Hamilton. They welcomed Lennytheshark’s proud connections on stage, fresh from celebrating the Four Starzzz Shark eight-year-old’s victory in this month’s Allied Express Victoria Cup. With his second favouritism in the upcoming Perth Inter Dominion an unprecedented third Victorian Horse Of The Year triumph is not out of the question for Lennytheshark. “I’m so happy with Lenny this time in,” Aiken said. “He’s sharp and I can’t fault where I’ve got him at the moment. He likes Perth and I think he gets a little bit excited with the crowd near him. He’s pretty laid back but he’s a good half-mile track horse.” He’s also formed a special partnership with driver Chris Alford, who was presented with state and metropolitan titles on Sunday night after an extraordinary season. Alford was a key fixture throughout the night, having also been in the sulky for horse of the year category winners Nostra Villa, Poster Boy and Wobelee’s finest moments. The latter was particularly special, having been trained by Alford’s wife, Alison, and winning not only the two-year-old trophy but being named the overall trotter of the year. It brought great delight to owner Colin Murphy. “He just kept finding and finding and finding. This horse is really good,” Murphy said. “He ran about three or four track records. I’ve been in the sport for 20 years and this is the best horse I’ve had.” It was also a remarkable night of achievement for Emma Stewart, having had three horse of the year category winners in addition to being named state and metropolitan trainer of the year. But it was perhaps her being gifted the Pearl Kelly Award that would have carried most weight, having honoured outstanding contribution to the sport by a woman. “I’m accepting the award but everyone who works for me and is involved – family, owners – it’s their award as well,” Stewart said. “I’m so humbled to get this award, it’s something I never thought would happen.” Of course, the night reached its climax with the announcement that Jim O'Sullivan had won the Gordon Rothacker Medal, honouring a brilliant career on and off the track. Click here for a feature story on Jim's win.  CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS Gordon Rothacker Medal winner: Jim O’Sullivan Pearl Kelly Award winner: Emma Stewart Harness Racing Victoria’s Distinguished Services Medal winner: Doug Gretgrix HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS Victorian Horse Of The Year: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Nostra Villa, Wobelee, Petacular) Two-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner: Poster Boy (finalists Lumineer, Tam Major) Two-year-old pacing fillies winner: Nostra Villa (finalists Molly Kelly, Nostra Beach) Three-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner Our Little General (finalists Jilliby Kung Fu, Stars Align) Three-year-old pacing fillies winner: Petacular (finalists Miss Graceland, Tell Me Tales) Four-year-old pacing entires and geldings winner: Dont Hold Back (finalists Rock Of America, Mr Mojito) Four-year-old pacing mares winner: Heavens Trend (finalists Whirily School, Rocknroll Magic) Aged pacing entires and geldings winner: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Major Crocker) Aged pacing mares winner: Amaretto (finalists Milly Perez, Bettor Downunder) Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Wobelee (finalists Smashthemcalder, La Grange) Two-year-old trotting fillies winner: Moonshine Linda (finalists Aleppo Jewel, Moonlight Dream) Three-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Magicool (finalists War Spirit, Deltasun) Three-year-old trotting fillies winner Une Belle Allure (finalists Dance Craze, Kinvara Sue) Four-year-old trotting entires and geldings winner: Maori Law (finalists Enrolled, Conon Bridge) Four-year-old trotting mares winner Red Hot Tooth (finalists Aldebaran Eve, Into The Unknown) Aged trotting entires and geldings winner Glenferrie Typhoon (finalists The Boss Man, Maorisfavouritesun) Aged trotting mares winner Sunny Ruby (finalists Maori Time, Heavenly Sister) COUNTRY CLUB AWARDS Country Club Of The Year winner: Ballarat (finalists Cobram, Horsham) Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary Of The Year winner: Marnya Watson, Swan Hill (finalists Brad Sharp, Birchip; Chrissie Hawker, Hamilton; Paul Prout, Geelong) Country Club with Best Media winner: Bendigo (finalists Ballarat, Swan Hill) Country Club Event of the Year winner: Birchip Mallee Bull Pacing Cup (finalists Bubbles In The Bush, Charlton; Dual Code Cup Night, Cranbourne) Country Club with Best Presented Track/Venue winner: Hamilton (finalists Charlton, Cobram) PREMIERSHIP AWARDS Melton Saddlery State Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford Renown Silverware State Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart SBG Accountants Metropolitan Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford Taylors Metropolitan Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart Alabar Concession Drivers Premiership winner: Jason Lee Aldebaran Park Leading Monte Rider winner: Kima Frenning VHRSC Owner Of The Year winner: Danny Zavitsanos BREEDERS AWARDS Woodlands Stud Victorian Breeder of the Year winners: Peter Gleeson, Craig Cameron and Bruce Cameron Niota Bloodstock Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Sundonna (Fred Crews) Benstud Standardbreds Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Amarillen (Naomi and the late Rick Hinds) Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Owners' grand moments are being thrust into the harness racing spotlight with tonight's launch of OTM TV, a Trots Media production hosted by Larni Salathiel. The program, which is backed by Trots Media's digital sponsor Alabar, celebrates all things ownership and began with a special TAB Breeders Crown feature. Larni was trackside to get the first word from owners, including following two-year-old trotting star Wobelee, his owner Colin Murphy and the Alford family as Wobelee attempted to cap his brilliant season with a 10th consecutive win. The pre-race nerves and post-race ecstasy were captured throughout the day as eight Group 1s were decided at Tabcorp Park Melton. Relive the magic through episode one of OTM TV:   Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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