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Burrumbeet professional harness racing trainer-driver Mick Stanley is looking forward to some big Victorian feature events over the next fortnight, with a team that is racing chock full of confidence. The Stanley big guns are being aimed at the $110,000 Group One Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday night and the $100,000 Ladyship Cup at Melton on January 26. “Everything is ticking along okay and with an ounce of luck we should be thereabouts,” Stanley said. Rackemup Tigerpie (Rock N Roll Heaven-Victoria Street) has drawn the nine alley in the prestigious Ballarat Cup, while brilliant mare Soho Burning Love (Auckland Reactor-Soho Bordeaux) is being set for the Ladyship Cup. The Ballarat Cup’s attracted a cracker field, with superstars from the Purdon-Rasmussen stable in Cruz Bromac and Thefixer, but plenty of depth with Delight Me, Buster Brady and NSW representatives in Our Triple Play, Salty Robyn and Our Uncle Sam. “Our fella in Rackemup Tigerpie is lightly raced with just 27 starts, but it will be a great experience for him,” Stanley said. The four-year-old has certainly got into his rhythm over the past eight months racking up 11 wins from 15 runs, including at Melton, Ballarat, Cranbourne, Terang and Gunbower and headlined by several victories with some authority. The gelding is bred and raced by Mick’s father Ian, who’s been involved in breeding, owning and training for many years, and he would have been understandably chuffed at Rackemup Tigerpie’s powerhouse display in winning the Gunbower Cup in race record time. Michael Stanley The recent race form and trackwork at home of awesome mare Soho Burning Love also has Mick eagerly awaiting her next assignments. He has pencilled in the Ladyship Cup and all going well there, the pair will then head to the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 2. “I’m not getting ahead of myself, but the winner of the Melton Ladyship gains an automatic run at Menangle, so that would be ideal,” Mick said. Owned by one of our most successful breeders in Rob Watson, of Perth, Soho Burning Love has impressed with three from three after resuming from a short let-up. “She is right on top of her game at the moment and it will be great to have her racing again in a bit over a week,” Mick said. The mare has faced the starter on 33 occasions for 10 wins and 14 placings for over $185,000 in the bank. The Stanley team, prepared at a picturesque property just outside of Ballarat, has 30 in work. “Things are really good at the moment with a handy team,” he said. “Nearly half of them are two-year-olds and Rob, who is our number one client, is quite excited by the potential ahead.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

AUSTRALIAN Pacing Gold purchases are poised to dominate tomorrow night’s Caduceus Club Cup. Not only are APG stock well represented in numbers, they also dominate betting markets thanks to some stellar form. Six of the nine runners in the $30,000 are APG graduates. Winner of his three starts, Demon Delight will be looking to maintain his perfect record for owners Russell and Pam Hockham. Although drawn the outside of the front row, the Emma Stewart-trained colt is a $1.45 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds. “I’ve got a very big opinion of him,” Stewart said. “He’s only had three starts and is still on the way up, but he’s as good as any of the three-year-olds in the stable!” Demon Delight is followed closely in the market by Soho Thunderstruck, with the son of Art Major fresh from a first-up win at Maryborough last week. Prepared by Michael Stanley, Soho Thunderstruck is expected to be pushed forward in search of the lead from barrier two – the same draw as his Maryborough success. A stablemate of Soho Thunderstruck, Watch List – also a recent first-up winner – will follow his training partner through from the second row. Despite boasting an impressive record of four wins and two placings from six starts, Hudsen is at the juicy odds of $26 from barrier five. Arggghhh from the pole and Zoliver from gate three round out the APG ‘crew’. APG Media

If Sky Petite can head off Fabrication in Tuesday night’s TAB Inter Dominion second-round trotting heat (Race 4) at Ballarat, harness racing young gun reinsman Ryan Duffy will repel any challenge in the run for as long as he possibly can. That’s the word out of Burrumbeet, with Michael Stanley declaring “there’s no decision” to be made. “If we’re able to get to the lead then over the short at Ballarat we’ll be holding it,” Stanley said. Sky Petite finished sixth on opening night. Whilst not the sexiest figure form, Stanley said her run was much better than it may seem on paper. “She came out and couldn’t get across then ended up a lot further back than we’d have liked to be. Some others dropped out in front of her at the 500m and at the 400m she had to go wide around that bend,” Stanley said. “It’s extremely hard to do that at Melton. Not many can make ground against those times. She held her ground really well and she’ll also be better for that run.” Sky Petite picked up seven points for the performance and is $7 into $6 today with fixed odds for Tuesday night. Polemarker Fabrication opened $14 last night post-barrier draws, was $10 this morning and has tumbled into $6, while Maori’s Law has also tightened from inside the second row – $2.8 to $2.4. The drifters are Monty Python and Kyvalley Blur, both drawn extremes in 11 and 12 on the back row. Monty Python is $7.5 to $11 and Kyvalley Blur is $4.5 to $5.5. Kima Frenning has some decisions to make aboard Big Jack Hammer out in gate five. “He is super quick but we’ll have to see,” Frenning said. “I was really pleased with his run last night. He was held up a bit round that last turn.” Once he saw daylight Big Jack Hammer found the line strongly for fourth behind Tornado Valley, beaten 20.7m. Fields for Tuesday night heats at Ballarat Trots Media - Cody Winnell  

The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year, Menin Gate, is exactly the kind of horse racing fans warm to; a fierce competitor with a will to win and a tenacity that stables him in the hearts of punters. His trainer and driver, Michael Stanley (of Burrumbeet), describes Menin Gate as "a warrior", and now that he's back, all going well, he promises to be a headline act at this year's Victorian TAB Inter Dominion. Last Friday night's courageous 3SH Swan Hill Cup win saw Menin Gate's customary fight in full view, holding off fitter challengers such as Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup winner Im The Boss and rising metro star Magical Marn to win the second leg of the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship at his first run back in almost 18 months. "He'd been in work for quite some time," Stanley told RSN's One Out, One Back this morning. Read the full story here   Cody Winnell Trots Media

THE only thing better than Mick Stanley’s training effort to win the Swan Hill Cup with Menin Gate were the now legendary celebrations by the owners after it. Menin Gate, the dominant three-year-old in Australasia more than three years ago, scored a remarkable first-up win against serious opposition last Friday night. It was the now seven year-old’s first start in 16 months, his first run for trainer-driver Mick Stanley and his first since being diagnosed with a small fracture to his pelvis. Stanley certainly didn’t pick a “soft” option first-up. “He’s back racing earlier than we expected because absolutely everything has gone right,” Stanley said. “Then when he trialled so well at Maryborough last Sunday, I thought we’d give this race a crack.” Over a gruelling 2790m and after being pressured early by a headstrong Gottashopearly, Menin Gate then had to deal with some serious midrace “heat” from favourite and Kilmore Cup winner Im The Boss. Menin Gate looked in strife on the home bend and challenges came from all angles, but he showed all the fighting qualities which made him such a star at three and fended off his rivals to win by a half-head. He broke the track record for good measure with a 1min57.3sec mile rate. “It wasn’t the biggest race we’ve won, but it was a great thrill to be able to get him back to somewhere near his best,” Stanley said. “This is so rewarding. It’s one thing to get a fit and healthy Soho Tribeca, but to bring this guy back from the start of a preparation was so pleasing.” Stanley said he would skip next week’s Cranbourne Cup and give Menin Gate time to recover in the hope his Inter Dominion ranking has improved sharply. Im The Boss lost no admirers with a brave and close second after sitting parked, while Magical Marn made ground from last for third and veteran Flaming Flutter ran an eye-catching fourth at his first run back from a spell. ____________________________________________________________________________________ WITH Chicago Bull out of town, it’s giving WA’s next wave of open-class pacers their chance to shine. And leading the way is Greg and Skye Bond’s Vampiro, who is building nicely towards a Melbourne Inter Dominion raid. The Rocknroll Hanover five-year-old scored arguably his best win yet when he sat parked and snatched a narrow but impressive victory in last Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint (1730m) at Gloucester Park. Driver Ryan Warwick was content to let the classy rival Maczaffair dictate terms in front, backing Vampiro’s speed to get him through. And it did with closing splits of 55.6 and 27.5sec. Vampiro won by a head in a 1min55.2sec mile rate from Maczaffair with another exciting talent, Rocknroll Lincoln, in third spot. Buzz four-year-old King Of Swing drew awkwardly in three with speed on his inside, drifted back in the run and didn’t make any impact in those blistering closing splits. He ran sixth. Vampiro, Galactic Star and rejuvenated former star juvenile Mitch Maguire, who also won well at Gloucester Park last Friday, are the Bonds’ Inter Dominion contenders. ____________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Mike Reed has a serious Golden Nugget contender in Bechers Brook. Reed’s always had a big opinion of the Somebeachsomewhere four-year-old, who scored a remarkable and barnstorming win in the opening race at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Bechers Brook showed his potential with a close second to King Of Swing in the WA Derby in April and has won both runs back from a spell in terrific style. “He’s tough and he keeps getting better,” Reed said. “He’s come back really well after his break.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER David Aiken has been such a huge part of the recent Perth Inter Dominions with Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. He’s sure to be a big force again in Melbourne this year with Wrappers Delight, Im The Boss and even the emerging Audi Hare. Audi Hare continued his rise through the ranks with a narrow, but well-earned win in the fast-class race at Melton last night. Driver David Moran blasted him to the front from the outside draw (gate seven), steadied through the middle stages, then zipped home in 55.3 and 27.3sec to hold-off the in-form Love Ina Chevy and win by a half-head in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2240m. Love Ina Chevy, Lance Justice’s horse who cheated death for days after a snake bite a few years back, also deserves a spot in the Inter Dominion heats on the strength of his excellent recent form. ____________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER star juvenile Kiwi trotter King Denny won his first race three-and-a-half years with a narrow victory in last Friday night’s Swan Hill Trotters’ Cup. His last win came while still in the All Stars’ barn in the Harness Jewels final at Ashburton on May 30, 2015. Since then he’s been plagued by injuries, changed stables a couple of times and also changed ownership. Now trained and owned by Michael Gadsden, King Denny dug deep as a $28 outsider to win by a neck in a 2min2.8sec mile rate for the 2790m stand. ____________________________________________________________________________________ MOST of Emma Stewart’s glamorous young pacer stars went for spells after the Breeders Crown, but not Demon Delight. That’s because he was a late bloomer and only made his debut two days of the two-year-old season remaining. Demon Delight looked terrific winning that debut run and has since added another couple of wins to be unbeaten in three starts. It’s no secret the stable think he’s got the potential to be right alongside his buzz stablemates Hurricane Harley, Centenario and Hardhitter when it comes Derby time later this season. Demon Delight underlined his potential winning by 16m and pacing a blistering 1min52.8sec mile rate for 1720m at Melton last night. Another “must follow” horse from the Melton meeting is Marg Lee’s lightly-raced four-year-old Jilliby Lorenzo. The son of Roll With Joe ran third to Lumineer in the Australian Gold final at two then had a setback and spent 16 months on the sidelines soon after. He’s returned with three wins from as many starts on the comeback trail and looked good overcoming a torrid run to win at Melton last night. ____________________________________________________________________________________ TROTTER Tough Monarch has plenty of tricks, but loads of ability as well. Trainer-driver Rickie Alchin looks to be gradually winning the battle of turning him into a more reliable racehorse. Tough Monarch had no luck in an unsuitably run race when an eye-catching fifth to Tornado Valley in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint at Melton last Saturday week. Alchin took him back home and was rewarded with a tough win after racing deep then sitting parked over 2300m at Menangle last night. It was a big effort in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2300m, which compared well with Tiger Tara’s 1min55.4sec in the 2300m pacing free-for-all. There’s no doubt Tough Monarch can be a serious factor in the upcoming Melbourne Trotters’ Inter Dominion if he keeps doing everything right.   Adam Hamilton

Menin Gate trainer Michael Stanley is just looking for a competitive hit out from his new star recruit in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. But it wouldn’t surprise him if the horse pulled off a first-up win. The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year is a surprise starter in the race - his first start since being sidelined with a fractured pelvis 16 months ago. Stanley said the plan had always been for Menin Gate - who joined his Burrumbeet stable in August - to make a run at this year’s Victorian Inter Dominion series after arriving in good health after such a long spell. But two impressive trial wins at Maryborough in the past two weeks saw him nominate the seven-year-old ahead of schedule. “To be honest, I didn’t plan on racing him this early,” Stanley said. “He’s had a slow build up, we haven’t rushed him. We’ve had no little niggles with his injury. Everything has gone really well. “His first trial he didn’t do too much, we just sat last and didn’t pull out until the straight and let him run home under his own steam. And when I pulled him out he really attacked the line, he wanted to beat the others. So I was really impressed with that. “I took him to the trials (again) on Sunday and I thought I’m just going to push him out a bit and give him a really good hit out and just see if he is sharp enough to go to Swan Hill. And he was super. The times he run were equivalent to what he’d have to run in a race.” Stanley said while his expectations for Friday were simply for Menin Gate to get through the race and be competitive, he believed the former Group 1 winner was up to the pace for a cup win. “It just looked like an ideal race to step him out in first up,” he said. “Going for the Inter Dominion, we’d like to get our ranking down and be peaking for when that’s on, but he’s definitely forward enough that he’ll run a really good race first up for sure.” Friday night’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup is the second leg of the Trots Country Cups Championship, which kicked off at Kilmore on September 27. The David Aiken-trained Im The Boss, who was a last start sixth in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, will be out to record a fifth country cup, having won at Shepparton, Mildura and Cobram last season before saluting at Kilmore last month. Stanley said the plan against the country cups champ would be to use the favourable gate three draw to set the pace early. “(Menin Gate’s) a really good front runner and a hard horse to pass, so that’s probably the plan,” he said. “We’ve got Im the Boss on the back line and a couple of handy sprinters in the middle of the front row, so if we can keep them behind us that’s probably the ideal way to tackle it early on. “(But) the expectations (for this one) really are just to get him back to the races and be competitive. Anything above that is a bonus.” Stanley also has the backmarker in the What the Hill Swan Hill Trotters Cup in Sky Petite, who he said would look to build on a first-up fifth in the Maori Miss Trotters Free for All. “Her work had been fantastic since before she went to Melton first up,” he said. “I think she probably just overdid it a little bit early. The lead time was fairly quick, I think the second quickest of the night, even with the pacing races. So first-up from a spell, with that quick lead time, she ran through the middle section a little bit too quick and she got tired. “(But) I think she was beaten by one of the best up and coming trotters we have in Dance Craze, who sat on her back and she fought on well. She only got beat the eight or nine metres. “The country cup races probably suit her better than the 2200m mobiles. With the long 2700m stand she’ll have time to settle and follow them into the race, instead of being the one that does the work. There’s a couple of nice trotters in that race though, so it’s going to be a good race, but I’m sure she’ll race really well.”     It promises to be a ripping night at Swan Hill, with gates to open at 5pm and the course hosting free children’s activities, a punters' club plus a range of different options to take in the night’s racing. While the corporate box and private deck have sold out, patrons can still snap up a dinning ticket or a place in the Pooles Pavilion via Mark Smith Trots Media

TIGER Tara continues his NZ Cup build-up at Menangle on Saturday night. And, in exciting news for Addington officials, trainer Kevin Pizzuto confirmed his other open-class star, Majordan, would accompany Tiger Tara to Christchurch. “Majordan’s target will be the (NZ) free-for-all on the Friday,” Pizzuto said. Majordan will clash with Tiger Tara for the third consecutive week in Saturday night’s 2300m Kevin Newman Cup. Majordan led throughout to beat an eye-catching Tiger Tara (second) over a mile at Menangle two week’s ago. Tiger Tara then led throughout to brilliantly win last week’s Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton with Majordan having little luck from a back row draw and finishing seventh. This time the 2300m distance suits Tiger Tara (gate 11), but Majordan’s blazing gate speed means he’s almost certain to find the lead despite gate 10. The early money has been for Tiger Tara ($2.80 into $2) on the Aussie TAB with Majordan out from $2.25 to $2.80. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ JUST over three years ago, Menin Gate looked the next big thing in harness racing. In 2015, the then Larry Eastman-trained star had finished a season with wins in the Victoria and Queensland Derbys, Vicbred final and Breeders Crown final. It’s been a rocky road since. Now, after 16 months away from the track, Menin Gate returns in Friday night’s Swan Hill Cup for new trainer-driver Michael Stanley. “He was found to have had a small fracture in his pelvis,” Stanley said. “So far so good on the comeback trail. He seems really sound and I’m happy with how he’s shaping to this point.” Menin Gate looked sharp winning a Maryborough trial by 20m in a 1min57.4sec mile rate for 2190m, sprinting home in 55.8 and 27.6sec. It’s a good test first-up at Swan Hill where last week’s Victoria Cup sixth placegetter Im The Boss is $2.20 favourite from gate nine. Menin Gate is $5 second elect from barrier three. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ JUST before Gary Hall Jr heads to NZ with Chicago Bull as caretaker trainer, he’s popped back home for Friday night’s Gloucester Park meeting. And he had a big decision to make with his drive in the feature race, the $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint. Hall Jr had to choose between King Of Swing for his father, Gary Hall Sr, and the exciting Rocknroll Lincoln for trainer Justin Prentice. To the surprise of many, Hall Jr went with the barrier draw an opted for Rocknroll Lincoln from gate two. King Of Swing is right next door in gate three. Hall Jr then heads back to Auckland to prepare Chicago Bull for his race at Alexandra Park on Friday week.   Adam Hamilton

Saturday nights Globe Derby winner Soho Crucio is proving to be a shrewd purchase for her new connections. After hearing a ‘whisper’ the daughter of Art Major could be bought for the right price, South Australian horseman Chris Neilson quickly made the move to have Soho Crucio at his stable. Since the transfer the filly has won her two starts in impressive fashion, including the Two-Year-Old Classic. “I think she will be a fair bit of fun to be involved with,” Neilson said. “She is pretty mature for her age and should hopefully continue to get better. “She has won both her starts for us and you can’t ask for anymore than that.” With popular reinsman Wayne Hill in the cart, Soho Crucio showed good gate speed to lead from barrier three, with the remainder of the 1800-metre trip a formality. Never seriously challenged, the two-year-old scored by four metres from Martys Party, with Eye See Double three metres away third in 1:58.2. “I was very confident with her as I knew she was going to be a big improver since her first run just under two weeks earlier,” Neilson said. “Between her last run for Michael Stanley and her first run for me she had two weeks off and was only in work for about 10 days before I raced her in the Breeders’ Crown heat. “She had an unorthodox build up to the heat, but a much better routine before this.” Predicting the youngster will develop into a handy three-year-old, Neilson plans to give Soho Crucio one more start before sending her for a break. “I will head over to Mildura if the race holds up try to win her Vicbred bonus,” Neilson said. “After that I will give her a long spell. “There is no reason why she won’t come back better again after a break and more time to mature, so that’s the way I will go with her.”   HRSA Media

Just days after being installed one of the favourites for the NZ Cup, Aussie superstar Soho Tribeca will undergo surgery for a broken leg. In a horrible aftermath to last night’s messy Group 2 Sunshine Sprint won by Tact Tate, owner-breeder Rob Watson confirmed the severity of the injury sustained when trainer-driver Mick Stanley was looking for a clear run rounding the last bend. “That’s where it happened, when Mick was desperately trying to get into the clear after being stuck in a pocket the whole race,” Watson said. “Messy is the right word for the race and it ended very badly for us. His leg was badly swollen straight after it, he was rushed to the vet and they confirmed the break. “They say the break is in a ‘good’ spot if you know what I mean. They say if the surgery goes as planned he’ll need six months off then can start his rehab.” Watson said he had already been contacted by stud farms asking about Soho Tribeca standing as a stallion, but the plan is to focus on a racetrack return. “I feel like there is unfinished business. He’s just now getting to his prime and those last two races aren’t the way we want hi to go out,” he said. Soho Tribeca galloped at the start of last month’s Group 1 Len Smith Mile and took no part in the race as a $1.40 favourite. He was $1.60 favourite in last night’s Sunshine Sprint. Soho Tribeca’s injury and a mystifying flop by Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal has thrown next Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Ubet Blacks A Fake at Albion Park wide open. My Field Marshal was trapped wide and worked hard, but failed to beat a runner home and left trainer Tim Butt shaking his head. “We don’t know what to make of it,” he said. “Sure he had a hard run, but he still should’ve finished fourth or fifth in a race like that. “He can do that, throw in a bad one, but we thought we had him spot on. “He seemed good after the race and is fine today, but I’ll get him scoped tomorrow (Monday) just to be sure before we press on to the Blacks A Fake.” The drama of the Sunshine Sprint has left Butt contemplating a change of plans with his exciting four-year-old Let It Ride, who sparkled winning a support race at Albion Park last night. “He was headed to the 4YO feature next Saturday, but, yes, we are weighing-up things up now. It’s a $200,000 race the Blacks A Fake and not as deep as we first thought,” he said. “We’ll make a decision tonight (Sunday), but there’s a real chance he could run in the big one.” Amanda Turnbull’s comeback pacer Tact Tate won the Sunshine Sprint by bursting to the lead from a wide draw, taking a trail, then out-sprinting them late to beat Celestial Arden and 2016 Blacks A Fake winner Ohoka Punter. The final field and barrier draw for the Blacks A Fake is decided at 5pm tomorrow (Monday). Adam Hamilton

Kyler Harper believes a favourable barrier draw has dramatically improved Soho Thunderstruck's prospects in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Harper says Soho Thunderstruck has raced without luck in his two Perth starts, but is confident from barrier one the former Victorian will exert a major presence in the $125,000 feature. “Without sounding too confident I think the barrier has set up the race for him,” says Harper. “He hasn’t had much luck punching the breeze against some handy horses in Perth. “He is drawn to lead and I think he is going to take some beating.” Soho Thunderstruck, previously handled in Victoria by Michael Stanley, has recorded one win and seven placings from his 10 career starts. The son of Art Major ran third to Bletchley Park at his Perth debut and fourth to the same horse in a Slipper prelude at Gloucester Park last week. Soho Thunderstruck shed his maiden status at Bathurst in a heat of the Bathurst Gold Crown last March, rating 1.55.9 over 1730m. In a mixed draw for Harper, Franco Edward, one of his two starters in the Golden Slipper and a winner of the Pearl Classic (2130m), will step from barrier 11. The Pearl Classic capped a winning hatrick for Franco Edward, who had his colours lowered in last week’s Slipper Prelude when runner-up to Bletchley Park. “I am going to have to play it by ear from that position,” Harper said. “There looks like there will be a bit of speed early. “He might have to settle and work into the race. “You have to take what you’re given, but it could have been worse. “Bletchley Park could have drawn barrier one.” 1-Soho Thunderstruck 2-Soho Interceptor 3-Dracarys 4-Bettor Be Oscar 5-The Lightning Strike 6-To Fast To Serious 7-Shockwave 8-Babyface Adda 9-Valbonne 10-Bletchley Park 11-Franco Edward 12-Its Rock And Roll 13-Robbie Easton.   Julio Santarelli

The big boppers are in town! Grand Circuit stars My Field Marshal and Soho Tribeca have settled into their new Brisbane surroundings in preparation for the open class features at Albion Park over the next fortnight. The Gr.2 $50,540 Garrards Sunshine Sprint takes place this Saturday night at Albion Park followed by the Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship the following week. The Blacks A Fake, is the jewel in the crown on the Queensland harness racing calendar, it also doubles as the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And Soho Tribeca has a chance to be crowned Grand Circuit champion if successful. But the focus this week is the Sunshine Sprint, the signature speed test in the Sunshine State. “We’re here and we’re ready to go, we’re looking forward to the challenge that is in front of us.” Trainer/driver Michael Stanley said. Soho Tribeca took no competitive part in his most recent start when finishing a distant last in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on July 1. It was established he got his head under the arm of the starting gate which caused an unexpected gate break. The striking American Ideal entire is yet to race at Albion Park. But bookmakers are taking no chances and have listed him as the horse to beat in both Queensland features with their fixed odds markets. “It was just one of those freak things that happened last start, fortunately, he’s taken no harm from the incident and he remains in great shape. “Obviously both races will be difficult because the opposition will be strong, Tim (Butt – Trainer) has a great record in big races and deserves plenty of respect and I won’t be selling him short in either event. “The sprint race this weekend will be hard and fast and then the challenge the following week will be equally tough because Kevin (Pizzuto – trainer) has both Cruz Bromac and Tiger Tara heading up. But the mission is to win both races and I believe he can achieve it.” Tim Butt, now based in Sydney, arrived last week with both My Field Marshal and Let It Ride and is happy with the way both horses are coming along. Let It Ride is a last start winner of the Gr.1 NSW Breeders Challenge 4yo Final in 1:49.4 – the fastest time of the day on the Len Smith Mile program. But he won’t start in the Sunshine Sprint. “The trip north is all about the experience, he will start in a support event while My Field Marshal starts in the Sunshine Sprint,” Butt explained. “The main target for Let It Ride is the 4yo Championship the following week, while he’s good enough to start in both open features I don’t think he needs that right now, he’ll get his chance in time to come. “My Field Marshal will start in both open races just like he did last year, he had a setback before the Len Smith Mile but he’s loving it here in Brisbane. He’s ready to show his best.” The Gr.3 $30,540 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship takes place on July 21, the same night as the Blacks A Fake.   Chris Barsby

Addington bosses are on the hunt for Australia’s best pacers as the local open class stocks hit an all-time low for this year’s New Zealand Cup. And a series of factors appear set to play into their hands, with at least one of Australia’s biggest stars all but confirmed to be crossing the Tasman for the Cup and others set to follow. The Cup may be four months away on November 13 but it is already more attractive to Australia’s leading trainers for two very obvious reasons. Firstly with the new Inter Dominion series to have only a A$500,000 final, the $800,000 New Zealand Cup sits alongside the Miracle Mile in February as Australasia’s richest harness race. Add in the $200,000 NZ Free-For-All three days later and the elite pacers can race for $1million, making it the richest pay week in Southern Hemisphere harness racing. And perhaps just as important is who won’t be there, namely two-time NZ Cup hero Lazarus, who has been exported to North America along with Heaven Rocks and Waikiki Beach while Auckland Cup winner Vincent and champion mare The Orange Agent have been retired.  That leaves the New Zealand open class stocks looking the weakest they have been in a decade and while horses like Ultimate Machete won’t be pushovers, Addington racing manager Brian Rabbit admits some Aussie star power will be crucial. “The Cup is always a special race and a special occasion but we do look to have a bit of a shortage of big name locals at the moment,” says Rabbit. “So we will be very keen to get some of the leading Australians across and the early indications are we will. “We had Tiger Tara last season and would love to get him back while Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull are two others we would really like and Soho Tribeca sounds likely. “With the stakes we have now it has become the richest carnival anywhere in Australasia.” While Aussie speedsters like Field Marshal, Jilliby Kung Fu and Hectorjayjay and almost certainly better suited at home, Rabbit looks set to get his wish with Soho Tribeca, who already has the Cup as his main aim for the remainder of the year, even though the Inter Dominion is in his home state of Victoria a few weeks later. “Everything we are doing at the moment is geared toward the New Zealand Cup,” trainer Michael Stanley told the Herald. “I qualified him from a stand a few weeks ago so we can start in the race and we intend coming for the week and racing in the free-for-all too. “And we will probably have a lead-up race over there as well, maybe somewhere like Ashburton. “We would be mad not to target it. The owner is very keen and its $1million in a week rather than four races in two weeks for a A$500,000 final at the Inters. “We might do both but we don’t have to decide that until after the NZ Cup.” With Tiger Tara a luckless third to Lazarus last season and second the year before he would seem a likely returnee and if you add those to locals like Ultimate Machete, last season’s runner-up Jack’s Legend, Star Galleria, former Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me and Jewels winner Eamon Maguire a potentially intriguing but far more open Cup than recent seasons comes into focus. Nominations for our greatest harness race close on August 29. Meanwhile, Addington could have a new distance in play for Cup week and more importantly for the Harness Jewels pending the outcomes of a trial this month. Starting from this Thursday the premier track will change 1950m mobile races to 1980m for a month-long trial at the behest of the horseman’s association. “It will give them a slightly longer run to the first bend and we are happy to trial it and listen to their feedback,” said Rabbit. “And we will then discuss if the 1950m races we usually hold now become 1980m races and if they do permanently then that will be the distance for the Jewels here next season too.” Michael Guerin

YOUNG trainer force Mick Stanley takes a different approach to many when it comes to the staggering Vicbred dominance of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. It inspires Stanley to do better and adds greater value to any wins against them he can land. Last night was an example when Stanley’s classy three-year-old filly Soho Burning Love defied a bad draw and gun Stewart/Tonkin rival in Nostra Villa to win her Vicbred semi. It justified Stanley’s “can do” attitude despite having his butt kicked with a number of his stable stars, all by Stewart/Tonkin runners, in the Vicbred qualifying heats. “We can’t beat ‘em staying home and thankfully we’ve still got the semis and finals to come,” he said back then. Although Soho Burning Love had some luck with a softer trip than Nostra Villa – who was attacked in front – in the semi, most will always say you need some luck in big races. Stanley’s luck with Soho Burning Love carried through the night when the Rob Watson-owned filly drew to lead from gate two in next Saturday night’s Group 1 final at Melton. She will now tussle for favouritism with Nostra Villa, who will likely have to sit parked from gate five. Stewart also has the depth with Speak No Evil (four) another key runner. Marg Lee is another trainer set to make an influence on what will otherwise be a Stewar/Tonkin dominance in the Vicbred finals. Lee has gun four-year-olds Jilliby Kung Fu (gate 13) and Jilliby Chevy (five) in their final. Jilliby Kung Fu may not even start favourite from a horror draw. Wrappers Delight, who has been so good for new trainer David Aiken this campaign, is another major player from gate six. Stewart’s best hope in that final is Rocknroll Icon, who need luck from gate nine, while Gavin Lang’s improving Sirletic is an upset hope from gate three. Kiwi mare Our Step Up has impressed in her Aussie raid and a perfect pole draw for the 4YO Mares’ final brings her into the mix with big guns Tell Me Tales (six) and Carlas Pixel (12) not drawing as well. Other Vicbred pacing final draws: 2YO PACING COLTS/GELDINGS Stewart dominates with Hurricane Harley favourite from the pole and Centenario next pick in gate two. Trittons’ Petes Big Jim is in gate five. 2YO PACING FILLIES Can’t go past Stewart’s imposing filly Kualoa from gate five. Superb winning heat and semi. Stanley’s Aussie Gold winner Soho Nolita has the class and speed with luck from gate nine. Stewart’s Two Times Bettor still a hope even from gate 12 3YO PACING COLTS/GELDINGS Stewart has a mortgage on it, but which of her amazing five finalists wins it? For mine, it’s the X-factor Ride High even from gate 12. Fast, tough and untapped. Poster Boy gets his chance from two, while Liftntorque (three), Major Times (nine) and former Kiwi Master Moonlite (nine) have place claims. Adam Hamilton

Kyle Harper says he will be taking a patient approach with his outstanding juvenile Franco Edward. The gun two-year-old underlined his class with an all the way win in the $100,000 Pearl Classic (2130m) on Friday, the bay colt’s third win from four starts. Harper, who trains and drives Franco Edward, has ruled out a trip east and says his budding star will round out his campaign in Perth to target a second Group 1 victory. “He will go into one of the heats of the Slipper and then into the Slipper (Final) and that will probably see him out,” Harper told Tabradio. “We will probably look after him and tip him out to the paddock. “I will talk to Robert (Watson) about it, but that seems to be the plan. “Two more starts into the paddock, so hopefully we can make them a couple of good ones. “He is a little bit immature and it’s amazing what he is doing. “He is not a 110 per cent the horse and as most two-year-olds are he has a few little niggles. “He needs to grow and mature into himself a little. “He seems faultless, but is not quite. “What he is doing is quite amazing. “We want to look after him and make sure we don’t push the envelope too far with him too soon.” While Franco Edward is Harper’s two-year-old flag bearer and nominal favourite for the Group 1 Golden Slipper on July 13, he believes Soho Thunderstruck presents his team with a strong two-pronged attack. The former Victorian, previously under the care of Michael Stanley, caught the eye in a Byford trial before running third to the Mike Reed-trained Bletchley Park in his Perth debut at Gloucester Park on June 8. “He is working on really well and coming in leaps and bounds,” Harper said. “Franco Edward has that specialness about him, but this bloke is not that far behind. “He is going to be a very nice horse and is on the same plan to the Golden Slipper.  “We should have two very nice horse heading into the Slipper. “I’m pretty happy with him at this stage. “I think if he jumped to the front at Gloucester Park he will be very hard to run down.”   Julio Santarelli 

Morsels of trivia by their very definition are trivial. So it matters very little that no horse has won a Del-Re National Italian Cup and an Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final in the same year, because if Soho Tribeca proves ID18 king of Victoria this coming December he’ll obviously have created all kinds of history. That said, I did find it interesting that My Lightning Blue, somewhat relatively similar to Soho Tribeca in that he was famous in the mid to late 1980s for his toughness, won the ’86 Italian Cup and went on to win the ’87 Interdom. Tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton, Michael Stanley produced a racehorse perfectly placed to grab command of the Grand Circuit spotlight in coming months and seasons, Soho Tribeca, to take out this year’s Del-Re National Italian Cup. The talented Burrumbeet trainer/driver in fact, for just the first time ever, had the reins behind the authoritative five-year-old son of American Ideal in a race situation. He’s driven the horse to countless laps of his training track, but this was something else. Despite being only “about 80 per cent” according to Stanley post-race, Soho Tribeca thoroughly thrashed his rivals in the 2240-metre fast-class feature from the extreme second-row draw, cruising home in a 1:54.5 mile rate and in a style that made it crystal clear he could have significantly lowered that mark if required.                                                                                               -Stuart McCormack photo Stanley spoke of the “privilege” of being involved with a horse like Soho Tribeca post-race. “That’s the first time I’ve had the privilege of sitting behind him in a race and that was something special,” he said. “I’ve never felt that before. We’re really excited to see what’s in store for the rest of the preparation.” It’s a preparation that will take in New South Wales and Queensland in coming weeks, and the superstar pacer’s race-fitness levels will only improve each time he steps out until his Queensland Grand Final in the Blacks A Fake. “He’s 80 per cent, I’d say. We’ll press on to the Len Smith (Mile) in two weeks then we’ll go to Queensland for the Blacks A Fake. The whole preparation is aimed at that last run in Queensland,” he said. Soho Tribeca and Stanley wasted no time getting into the action tonight from barrier 11, working around the field for the first 600m or so before taking up the running. The Kilmore Cup winner and Hunter Cup runner-up then produced a final half-mile of 56.1 and cruised home by 5.2m ahead of a gutsy Sams The Master in second for Greg Sugars, with a further 9.4m back to Magical Marn in third place. Stanley acknowledged all his training as a “team effort”, making special mention of wife Gen and the stable’s gun rising star reinsman Ryan Duffy, and he lauded Soho Tribeca’s maturation in the previous 12 months. “This time last year he won the four-year-old Vicbred, and what he has done since then has been amazing,” he said. “I’m just very grateful from Robert and Annette Watson to have the opportunity with Soho Tribeca and hopefully he’s the one to step up and take that place (at the top of the Grand Circuit ladder).” Tonight’s trotting feature, the Wagon Apollo Trotters Free for All, went to another rising open-age star in Tornado Valley for trainer Andy Gath and reinswoman wife Kate Gath. The six-year-old son of Skyvalley led from gate seven in the 2240m race and held off a flashy Kyvalley Blur by 2.5m in a rate of 1:59.5. Driver Kate Gath dictated terms perfectly from the front in full knowledge her major danger, Tough Monarch, was following her helmet. Approaching the final bend Gath saw Alford and Kyvalley Blur coming out wide and upped the ante aboard Tornado Valley, the gun squaregaiter responding to make it nine wins from his past 10 starts (and nine wins out of 12 since joining the Gath stable from New Zealand). “I saw Puppet (Alford) coming so I thought ‘I have to ask him now’,” Gath said. “When you got a little bit slower like that it does bring other ones in, so you do have to be careful but it worked out well tonight. “He’s just done such a good job. He’s been up a long time but he’s relishing where he is and he just knows how to find the line.” Gath said the Trotters Inter Dominion later this year was the major aim for Tornado Valley. Earlier tonight Lance Justice produced Rishi for a narrow win in the M0 Allied Express Pace over 2240m from gate two. The four-year-old gelding by Bettors Delight held the front early, which proved invaluable, and then held off an audacious Artful Christian for Chris Svanosio to win by a half-head in 1:58.0. Punters who took the $1.5 about the favourite may have been nervous as the margin got shorter and shorter in the home stretch, but Justice said he always felt confident. “It felt like he was always going to do the job. That’s the sort of horse he is, he just does what he has to do. There are plenty of races left him, that’s for sure,” Justice said, going on to nominate the Breeders Crown as the target after a freshen-up. And trainer Dean Braun told Trots Vision that Duplicated, his three-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, would head to Queensland for a Derby tilt after an effortless win in the Nicola Pace Final over 2240m with Nathan Jack in the gig. Duplicated has a four-out-of-four win record since crossing the ditch and did it very comfortably tonight in 2:01.7. Other winners were Solarsonic for Chris Svanosio in the DNR Logistics Pace, Kinvara Sue for Anton Golino and Jason Lee in the TAB Multiplier Trot, Deltasun for Terry Young and Gavin Lang in the Alabar 4YO Trot, Classy Western for trainer/driver Allan McDonough in the Pasticceria Padova Claiming Pace, Eleniark for Qld’s Grant Dixon and reinsman John Caldow in the DRN Gold Vicbred Pace, Hot Breakfast for Malcolm Phillips and James Herbertson in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series O Final and Flyin Around for Anne-Maree and Glenn Conroy in the Bertocchi 3YO Trot.   Cody Winnell

The mantle is up for grabs and Mick Stanley is doing his best to claim it with Soho Tribeca. Lazarus was Australasia’s undisputed top pacing seed and now the door is open. Right now you’d say My Field Marshal just holds the tag, but Soho Tribeca is right there with him and the next few weeks could change everything. Fittingly, both pacers are in action this weekend: Soho Tribeca resumes from a spell as a $1.50 Aussie TAB in the Italian Cup (2240m) at Melton at 8.57pm NZ time on Saturday night. Little more than an hour later, My Field Marshal is a $1.70 favourite despite drawing out in gate 10 in the $30,000 Golden Mile at Menangle. It two weeks they come together in the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle. The last time they clashed at Menangle, My Field Marshal finished over the top of Soho Tribeca in an Australasian record 1min46.9sec. Soho Tribeca was, however, the run of the race after sitting parked, doing all the work and finishing less than a neck from My Field Marshal. Trainer Mick Stanley says Soho Tribeca is primed for his return this week and can’t wait to get to Sydney, then onto the Queensland Winter Carnival for the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake. “He’s ready to race for sure. He has been working up super. Sure he will better for the hitout, but it will have him spot-on for Sydney,” he said. “He’s so ready, he’ll just need this one lead-up run. “From Sydney, he’ll head to the Sunshine Sprint (July 14) and Blacks A Fake (July 21).” If there is an X-factor in this quest for Australasian’s top pacing seed it is surely Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu. Sadly he missed the Harness Jewels after a minor setback, but the gun four-year-old resumes in a race he should win for fun at Shepparton tomorrow night. If he wins well, the focus will turn to whether trainer Marg Lee sends him straight to Sydney for the Len Smith Mile second-up from a break. Adam Hamilton

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