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Just hours after this year’s Inter Dominion pacing champion is crowned at Alexandra Park, last year’s winner will return to racing in Australia. Mighty warhorse Tiger Tara steps out in Menangle’s Group 3 Alf Phillis free-for-all (2300m) at 10.58pm NZ time Saturday night. It will be he $2.37 million-earner’s first start since finishing fourth at Menangle on September 20. And, just for good measure, his rivals include another proven superstar, former Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal. Tim Butt’s star hasn’t raced since being retired from this year’s Miracle Mile back on March 2 with cardiac arrythmia. Butt has been open in saying this race will go a long way to deciding whether My Field Marshal heads to Perth for next month’s big Group 1 double – the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups. My Field Marshal won the Fremantle Cup last year then ran a fantastic race for fourth in the WA Pacing Cup. In contrast, Tiger Tara is definitely WA-bound, according to trainer Kevin Pizzuto. The last time Tiger Tara was in Perth was for the 2017 Inter Dominion series where he won a heat, finished second in his other two heats then led and ran third to the amazing Lazarus in the Grand Final. While Tiger Tara (gate 10) and My Field Marshal (gate 11) have class on their rivals this week, lack of racing and their wide draws won’t make life easy against some classy rivals. The emerging Ignatius will be fitter for one run back from a spell and gets gate three, while speedy beginner Alta Orlando may be the leader and take catching from barrier two.   Adam Hamilton

Sending Hail Christian back to Sydney was an easy decision for Paul Court. And it only took one race to see why. The talented son of Christian Cullen blasted his way to a career-best 1min50sec mile win in the free-for-all at Menangle last night (Saturday). “There’s just no point him being in NZ,” Court said. “He had that terrific campaign in Sydney late last year and earlier this year, then came home and couldn’t win a race at home (NZ). “He loves the Menangle track, the tempo of the race and there are so many better opportunities there for him.” Hail Christian’s 10 starts back in NZ after his previous NSW stint earned him just $31,050. He pocketed $15,600 for last night’s win alone. Driver Blake Fitzpatrick settled Hail Christian three back on the inside while favourite Cash N Flow worked across in a quick 26.6sec opening quarter to lead. Things got messy halfway down the straight when Fitzpatrick angled into the clear and appeared to contact the tiring Harjeet, who went roughly. But Hail Christian exploded when clear to win by 3.2m in closing splits of 54.4 and 27.2sec. Another winner of note at Menangle was two-time Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter. The now 10-year-old’s 1min52.2sec mile win was a a another great advertisement for Shane Tritton’s ability to turn around former stars and underlined the opportunities in the NSW handicapping system. It also took Flaming Flutter’s earnings past $800,000. It was a big night for Team Tritton win a treble. The other winners were former Kiwi pair Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star. __________________________________________________________________________________________ POPULAR WA trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan admitted it took a while to start celebrating his latest Group 1 win with Sangue Reale. That’s largely because Sangue Reale wasn’t first past the post and had “win” the $125,000 Group 1 4YO Classic (2130m) in the stewards’ room. But, the stewards’ footage showed enough interference from “winner” Shockwave in the closing stages for the result to be overturned. “I don’t think I have ever felt that strange after winning a big race,” Brennan said. Sangue Reale stormed home and looked like running past a very gallant Shockwave before they came together in the closing stages and the margin was just a nose. And Sangue Reale’s win showed his shock second as $31 shot to $81 outsider Theo Aviator in the first of WA’s major 4YO races a couple of weeks back was no fluke. Sangue Reale was $71 again last night and Theo Aviator finished third at $51. Driver Chris “The Voak Train” Voak deserved huge credit for both his patient drive on Sangue Reale and compelling evidence in the stewards’ room. The race was ferociously contested from the start when plunge runner Bletchley Park led, but buzz pacer Wildwest worked forward and Gran Chico kicked-up in the middle. The lead time was a slick 36.4sec and a fiercely-pulling Bletchley Park then ran a scorching 57.2sec middle half. He weakened to run eighth, while Wildwest was basically eased out of the race after stopping from the 700m. Gran Chico, the recent high-priced Kiwi import, did plenty of early work then sat one-one and battled away fairly into a distant sixth spot. It all makes for a fascinating “grand final” of WA 4YO features in the Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park on December 14. __________________________________________________________________________________________ YOUNG gun trainer-driver Aiden De Campo only had to wait 24 hours to get some consolation for having the Group 1 4YO Championship win taken off him. De Campo’s drive Shockwave was first across the line, but lost on protest to Sangue Reale in the Championship. But De Campo led throughout on the rejuvenated Handsandwheels, who he trains and drives, in the $50,000 Group 2 Bunbury Cup last night (Saturday). The former WA Derby winner has found career-best form heading towards the state’s biggest races, the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, in January. Handsandwheels worked to the front from gate six, dictated through a steady 59.9sec middle half, then zipped home in 56.4 and 28.7sec to easily hold-off Convert Denario, who trailed him. Vultan Tin closed well for third, while favourite Mighty Conqueror sat parked, never really threatened the leader and battled away fairly for fourth. The Bunbury Cup has been a strong form pointer over the years, being won by Im Themightyquinn in 2010 and last year’s winner Rocknroll Lincoln went on to win the WA Pacing Cup. __________________________________________________________________________________________ JOT down Born To Be Watched as a serious Victoria Derby player. Top trainer Emma Stewart already has nominal Derby favourite Be Happy Mach, but Born To Be Watched turn plenty of heads with a stunning debut win at Melton last night (Saturday). The Hes Watching colt did plenty of work, but roared clear to win by 19.4m in a slick 1min54.6sec, including a 27.6sec closing quarter. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S great to see former megastar juvenile trotter Wobelee emerging as a serious open-class player. The now five-year-old has built nicely on the comeback trail from injury. His 10 runs have back have netted five wins and five seconds, including three wins on end. Wobelee’s Melton win last night was his 18th victory from 28 starts and took his earnings to $324,089. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see hugely exciting pacer Ideal Liner resume from injury with a good second at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was always a big ask from out deep in gate seven with favourite Ocean Ridge leading from the pole, but Ideal Liner sat parked and was just 2.3m away in a 56.6sec last half. The betting indicated he needed the run, but time will tell whether he can build and improve quickly enough for the Fremantle and WA Cups in January.   By Adam Hamilton

YOU have to wonder if Jimmy Rattray had second thoughts about pulling the pin on an Auckland Inter Dominion raid. His stable newcomer Harjeet made quite an impression and smashed the clock winning his first run for Rattray at Menangle on Saturday night. Harjeet was Tasmania’s best pacer when trained by Rattray’s brother, Todd, in the Apple Isle before being sent to Jimmy to continue his career a few months back. Late last week, Jimmy scratched Harjeet and stable star Ignatius from the Auckland series. Harjeet did a power of early work and copped pressure in front before powering his way to a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2300m, just 1.1sec outside Clancys Fobwatch’s track record. “He’s settled in well and it was great to be able to get a run in a class below free-for-all for his first try up here,” Rattray said. “It’s exciting to have a horse like him join Ignatius here. “I’ve got no doubt Harjeet will do a terrific job here, but it’ll be interesting to see just how far he goes.” Harjeet draws so many natural comparisons with the mighty Beautide, who won two Inter Dominions at Menangle for the Rattray clan. Both left Tassie as the state’s best pacer at the peak of their careers and with great staying prowess. Meanwhile, Ignatius has his second trial back at Menangle on Monday in preparation for a racetrack return. “I deliberately gave him a soft trial last week, but we’ll be getting a lot more serious this week,” Rattray said. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ LAST year’s Inter Dominion consolation winner Ellmers Image opened his preparation for this year’s Auckland series with a fighting second at Menangle last night (Saturday). Amanda Turnbull’s stable star drew wide, but kept working forward to take the lead from favourite and main danger Alta Orlando after 400m of the 2300m Group 3 free-for-all. Just when it seemed Ellmers Image was doing enough to hold-off Alta Orlando, John McCarthy’s five-year-old Jack Farthing exploded out of the pack to overhaul them both. No doubt Ellmers Image will be fitter for the run and Turnbull will look for another run for him before the Auckland series kicks-off with the first round of heats on November 29 at Alexandra Park. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FANS may have to wait a little longer to see one of Australia’s buzz horses back in the big league. Former superstar juvenile Lumineer, who made it 12 wins from just 13 starts at Melton last night (Saturday), looks set to bypass a clash with Colt Thirty One and another comeback star Ride High next Saturday. It’s the Group 2 4&5YO Championship, a race Grant Dixon is using to sharpen-up Colt Thirty One for his Auckland Inter Dominon assault. And Emma Stewart has the race earmarked for Ride High’s comeback race from a long injury-enforced stint on the sidelines. He smashed the clock at the Ballarat trials recently. Lumineer has the talent to test them both, but trainer Ange McDowall won’t commit to running. “He’ll be nominated, but he’s only had 13 lifetime starts and it would be a quick back-up from this week, so I’m erring on picking something a little easier for now,” she said. Lumineer was stunning last night, seemingly cruising his way to a 9.6m win in a slick 1min52.8sec mile rate for 1730m. Just 0.8sec slower than Phoenix Prince ran in the Sokyola Sprint, the free-for-all, on the same night. “Jason (Lee, driver) said he did it easily too, which is the main thing,” McDowall said. “I’m sure I’ve got the old Lumineer back, but we’ve got some tinkering to do because he’s so goofy at the races. He wants to loaf, wander about and look around.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER All Stars’ pacer Motu Premier emerged as a key player for WA’s biggest races with a superb Gloucester Park win last Friday night. The now seven-year-old has had his issues during a couple of years with trainer Ross Olivieri in Perth, but he’s right back to his best. Motu Premier sustained a long run from back in the field and lifted after looking beaten to edge-out Perth’s buzz pacer Mighty Conqueror in the Parliamentarians Cup. They blazed a 1min54.4sec mile rate for the 2130m. Mighty Conqueror had a good run then moved to the “death” to control the race, he looked home when he pinched a break at the top of the straight, but Motu Premier wouldn’t be denied. Motu Premier won by a half a neck despite covering extra ground from back in the field in closing splits of 55.5 and 27.7sec. The son of Bettor's Delight was sidelined for a year and the win, one of the best of his career, came at his fifth run on the comeback trail. Another impressive winner on the night was former NZ and Queensland pacer Bill Haley, who made it two-from-two for new WA trainer Deb Lewis. The five-year-old showed his now trademark lethal turn of speed to beat a good field, including last season’s glamour three-year-old filly Dracarys. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE brilliant Phoenix Prince lifted off the canvas to win arguably the most important race of his career in last night’s Sokyola Sprint (1720m) at Melton. Emma Stewart’s speedy gelding looked hard to beat when he snared gate two and, even more so, when he led and “pinched” a 30.1sec first quarter. It was game-on from there with splits of 28.1, 26.9 and 27.6sec and Phoenix Prince looked to be headed by Lance Justice’s stable star Rishi in the last 50m before lifting to win by a nose. They went a sharp 1min52sec mile rate. It took Phoenix Prince’s record to an impressive 14 wins from just 26 starts and earnings of almost $125,000.

DANNY Scanlan qualified for today's KARI J.C. Caffyn Indigenous Drivers Plate final by the barest possible margin, .1 of a point, after a competitive series of harness races all around the state.   But there was no such tiny margin in today's feature as lightly-raced gelding Ziggy Rocks put paid to a quality field to take the race . . . and etch Scanlan's name into the history books.   It was an emotional Scanlan that took to the podium to thanks "his girls" and a small army of supporters after Ziggy Rocks came with a withering burst to beat My Major Rocket (Hayden Green) and Mach Le More (Jinaya Niass) by 5.5m in a 1:55.6 mile rate (last half in 56.5s).   "It's been a long, long time since I last won a race here at Menangle," said Scanlan.   "Of course it hasn't been helped when I've contested this series and most of the horses have been 100-1 in past years.   "This horse, trained by Gemma Rue and owned by Menangle committeeman Dan Cordina, is probably the best horse I have been able to steer in the half a dozen times I've competed in this series.   "It sure helps, I can tell you."   Scanlan did drive the son of Pet Rock to perfection, landing an ideal one-one trail before peeling wide on the home turn and quickly rounding up his rivals for a strong win.   It was a deserved victory for one of the men who has become a mainstay of this Indigenous Drivers series.   Scanlan contested heats at Albury, Young and even Tamworth, meaning he covered many kilometres from his Cessnock base just to qualify for the final day. In the end, the .1 of as point didn't matter as he added his name to some quality horsemen and women who have won this series since it was first inaugurated in 2011.   "It's a pretty special race to win and we all want to win it," said Scanlan.   "It's taken me a while, which makes this win even more special."     Sean Vella  

EXPERIENCED harness racing identity Robert Marshall is the new chairman of Australia’s biggest harness racing centre, Club Menangle. Marshall was elected to the position unanimously by the new board following the club’s Annual General Meeting. He replaces long-serving chairman Ray Sharman, who steps down after serving a maximum six-year term as chairman. Michael Brown has been elected deputy chairman with former harness journalist Bill Ellis retaining the role of executive director. Marshall boasts an extensive background in harness racing as well as club administration. He first joined this club’s board in 1991 before vacating the role in 1999 to take up a position on the board of Harness Racing NSW. He also took a position on the Harness Racing Regulatory Authority before returning to the Club Menangle board in 2013. Marshall has previously been NSW delegate to Harness Racing Australia and chairman of the Inter Dominion Council. “It is an absolute honour to be chairman of the principal club,” said Marshall. “This club has made outstanding progress in recent years and I look forward to working with my fellow directors to ensure that we make the most of the opportunities which lie ahead. “The entire racing industry faces a number of challenges and it is important that our club takes on a leadership role.”    Outgoing chairman, Ray Sharman said it had been a privilege to serve as the chairman for the past 6 years. “During that time the board has continued the momentum we received from the sale of Harold Park and laid the foundation for the future of our club and the harness racing industry,” he said. 

FOR the majority of the harness racing industry, it’s the ‘bread and butter’ races that really matter.   So owners and trainers will be thrilled to hear Club Menangle has announced quite substantial increases to those regular races by adding to the levels of metropolitan prizemoney.   The changes, which commence from 1 November 2019, include: • Minimum prizemoney on a metropolitan program rising from $11,000 to $14,000; • Tier-3 prizemoney going up from $16,000 to $18,000; • Tier-2 prizemoney races will increase from $22,000 to $24,000; • The premier club will also introduce a second $20,000 division of the M0 each month.   But wait, there’s more!   There will also be some changes to the “Where Horses Fly” Country Series.   The finals of that popular series will now be run on alternate weeks and an additional race will be added to each of these programs.   This ensures that country participants still get the opportunity to race at Tabcorp Park Menangle while not reducing the racing opportunities for the pool of metropolitan horses.   Through the cooperation of Club Menangle and Harness Racing NSW, these changes will add $750,000 to the metropolitan prizemoney distribution over the course of a full year.   Club Menangle has already worked with HRNSW to increase midweek prizemoney from $7,500 per race to $9,000.   At the other end of the racing scale, the Club has again combined forces with HRNSW to run the Ainsworth Miracle Mile for $1 million.   According to Club Menangle CEO Bruce Christison:   “While it is vital that we offer incentives to race at the elite level, it is just as important that we improve stakes for the horses that are racing week-in and week- out at the metropolitan level.   “The Club continues to work closely with both the participants and HRNSW as evidenced by the agreed need to increase opportunities for mares, which has been facilitated by the recent introduction of additional open-class mares’ racing.   “Whilst it is always a priority to maximise prizemoney, our Club also has a responsibility to its members to ensure that these levels are affordable and sustainable.   “This year we saw prizemoney return to the levels of two years ago and the increases announced today will take prizemoney to record highs.   “Since the sale of Harold Park we have experienced changes in financial markets never seen before, which have resulted in record low interest-rate levels.   “I am pleased to say that decisions made by the board and management over the past two years have seen strong investment performances over that time, despite the challenging environment.”   Christison explained that the Club would continue to monitor the performance of its investment fund.   “With the ongoing pressure on wagering-related revenue the Club will continue to look at ways of diversifying revenue streams with the latest example the introduction of the seven-day a week club, due to open in January,” he said.   “The prizemoney increases announced today, combined with the introduction by HRNSW of the $1m TAB Pace in May next year, reinforces the position of NSW as the premier harness racing state.”   Mandy Madern Social Media & Trot Guide Co Ordinator Club Menangle

Champion former Kiwi harness racing trainer-driver Anthony Butt and his partner Sonya Smith are looking forward enthusiastically to their next chapter in the industry. The pair this week took over the role of preparing a big team owned by passionate and big spending entrepreneur Emilio Rosati and his wife Mary, at Menangle, Sydney. Rosati is a driving force behind Form 700, one of Australia's leading construction companies. "It was an opportunity which really come out of the blue. But it was too good to pass up and we are so excited," Inter Dominion Hall of Famer Anthony Butt said. The door opened for Butt and Smith when renowned North American horseman Noel "Oz" Daley decided to return to the United States. Daley is an Australian and took up the private trainer role for the Rosatis in February after returning home. He's decided to head back to the US, but not without amassing an impressive strike rate in his short time at the helm, preparing 13 winners (three in the metro) and 28 placings from 67 starters for $128,000. Butt said after being approached by Rosati, they took time to think over the offer. "Sonya and I thought it over for two days, and in the end decided it was a wonderful opening. It was an absolute pleasure to be walking into a barn full of horses in such brilliant condition," Butt said. "Noel is a master at conditioning horses. His outstanding US record speaks for itself," he said. "We've started off with 20 horses, with another 10 to soon come in. The stock includes so many that are well bred and we just can't wait to get into them." Butt, since starting out as a 17 year old in 1983, has won close to every major race across Australasia - more than 2160 wins including well over 100 Group One successes. He and Smith had a four-year stint in Victoria after crossing the Tasman in 2014, then decided 12 months ago to move to Sydney where brother Tim was well set up at Menangle. "We had a team of eight in work so some of these have gone to Tim and a few others down to Melbourne," Butt said. "I've known Emilio for many years. He always travelled over to New Zealand when the sales were on. I had a successful run for him earlier this year when I drove three Group One winners for him over the Winter months. "We are keeping the same staff members that were here with Noel. So it was virtually a case of Noel going out and us coming in. "Working with big numbers of horses is nothing new for us because when I was with Tim he always loved having plenty about." The first runners for the Butt-Rosati combination will appear at Menangle next Tuesday in the form of Moonshine Stride, Crystal Stride, Typhoon Stride, Always A Stride and Kiwi Stride. In the late 1970s, one of the first horses to be owned by Emilio and Mary was a more than useful pacer in Stride High. He had leg issues but still managed 11 or 12 wins under their ownership. It's a result of this that the couple apply the "Stride" suffix to their horses' names.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

That was one heck of a return. Bling It On didn’t just win his comeback race at Menangle last night, he blew his rivals away and made quite the statement. First-up after injury and stints at stud sidelined him for 16 months, the former superstar pacer scorched a personal best 1min50.2sec mile and won seemingly without fuss by 7.5m. The win didn’t surprise co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy, who gave him a superb run behind the leader Loorim Creek, but only after buzzing off the gate from barrier five. Bling It On saw daylight at the top of the straight and quickly put the race beyond doubt, cruising to the line in closing splits of 54.6 and 27.3sec. “It’s great to have him come out and do that, but he was ready. We had him very fit,” McCarthy said. “He’s been in work six months and, as I said before the race, he’d had a couple of private trials before that Menangle trial the other day. “We’ve been so happy with him. There’s no way we’d have gone this far unless we felt he was as good as ever. We think too much of him.” McCarthy confirmed Bling It On would now go straight into the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton next Saturday week (October 12). “We’re not worried about going straight into the deep end because we have him so fit and this win just reinforced that,” he said. “We’re sure he’ll be very competitive in all those big races the way he’s come back.”  As McCarthy said before the stunning return win, Bling It On is set to head to Auckland for the Inter Dominion, starting on November 29.  “We’ll probably freshen him up a little after the Victoria Cup, then have him peaking again for the start of the Inters,” he said.  Bling It On’s comeback win was his first victory since scoring at Menangle on December 16, 2017.   Adam Hamilton

The strong Sydney-based "Lucky Lodge" stable of KerryAnn and Robert Morris could be making more frequent trips to the north in the future. "If we have the right team to suit the racing in Queensland we will definitely pack up and head there again," Robert said. "Over the past few years we've just gone up there once each season, but we're now thinking we might try and do it perhaps two or three times annually. Just whenever it suits," he said. The Menangle-based husband-and-wife team combined to win more than a dozen races during their recent Sunshine State campaign, earning well over $70,000 in just under three weeks. "I took up a team of nine, which is a few more than we normally take. Previously it's been more like four to six," Robert said. "We were so lucky to be based at Grant Dixon's stables at Tamborine, which is a lovely setting," he said. "While we have probably won bigger races during our previous trips, the horses were at the top of their game and we were able to be fairly consistent in the first four. Considering we had a bit of a dry start to the new season, it was certainly enjoyable and successful." Robert last month drove the 1300th winner of his career and was at his very best at Albion Park. In a consistent run of success, he picked up stable winning trebles and doubles and some handy driving engagements for other teams. The campaigning team included Fat Prophet, Squire, Prophesy, Pembrooks Passion, Aztec Bromac, Stormont Star, Our Sequel and former Kiwi Cruzy Dude who won at three consecutive meetings at "the creek." The stable sold one horse and also left a few others up there. "When we looked at some of the events coming up over the next month, we thought it was best to leave them in Queensland," he said. And Robert didn't waste any time in continuing his fine touch after arriving back home. He scored with six-year-old gelding I Am Serengeti (Art Major-Gotta Go Hype (Christian Cullen) at Menangle on Tuesday and stablehand Joe Moka also got into the act by scoring with Fat Prophet (American Ideal-Andaman (Sokys Atom) in the claimer. Both are trained by KerryAnn.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former star pacer Bling It On is launching a comeback. The Hunter Cup winner and one-time juvenile pin-up takes his first official step in a Menangle trial tomorrow (Monday). It comes after a couple of seasons at stud where he has been well-supported by breeders, serving over 200 mares. "I've driven him in fast work and in a couple of private trials around Menangle and he feels as good as he ever has," driver and co-trainer Luke McCarthy told harness.org.au. "I'm pretty confident he will make a strong return based on the way his work has been." The now nine-year-old has not raced since finishing ninth at Menangle on June 9, last year. His biggest win came in the 2017 Hunter Cup, which followed a desperately unlucky fourth in the Perth Inter Dominion final two months earlier. McCarthy said the comeback was sparked because Bling It On was "doing too well" during a winter spell and they decided to start jogging him. "He was sound and felt so good, they decided to press on with him and now he is trialling," he said. "If connections thought he couldn't get back to racing at the top level they wouldn't entertain the idea of bringing him back in work but his work has been so strong. "He will keep doing stud work and if we are happy with him on Monday we'll keep going with him." Bling It On's record stands at 86 starts for 45 wins, 20 placings and $1,656,656 in earnings. _______________________________________________________________________________ BUSTER Brady is building nicely. The star former Kiwi stayer had no luck in two runs back from a spell then turned it around with a trademark fighting win in the VHRC Classic at Melton last night. He paced a slick 1min54.3sec for 2240m. Trainer-driver Kima Frenning won the race with an early move around the field from the back row to take the lead from eventual runner-up Cant Refuse. Buster Brady steps back into Victoria's country cup circuit, which he dominated last year, when he runs next in the $70,000 Kilmore Cup on September 27. Then comes the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 12. Another key Melton winner was the regally-bred Soho Hamilton - a brother to Soho Tribeca - who snared his biggest win so far in the $50,000 Group 2 Home Grown Vicbred final. He's won three of five runs and oozes potential for trainer-driver Mick Stanley. _______________________________________________________________________________ IT'S a long way back to the top for former juvenile star Lumineer, but the early signs are good. The son of Sportswriter won his first eight starts for hobby trainer Ange McDowall, including the Group 1 Australian Gold 2YO final, then went amiss after tasting defeat for the first time when sixth in the 2018 Victoria Derby final. He retuned for his first run in almost 20 months with a runaway Terang win last Wednesday night. Lumineer won by 24m in a cosy 2min0.4sec mile rate for 2180m, including closing splits of 56.7 and 28 flat. "It was such a relief he did it with such ease," McDowall said. "And the next morning he was floating around Lady Bay (a beach in Warrnambool) like the race never happened." _______________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN former Kiwi pacer Our Jimmy Johnstone wound back the clock at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The 11-year-old used a gun draw in the pole to lead throughout and easily beat some of WA's best open-class pacers in the $50,0000 Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2536m). It was one of the most rewarding wins for co trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who has nursed the gelding through a fantastic WA career and deep into his twilight. And it was a career-best win for driver Bailey McDonough. "I was pretty nervous before the race and pretty excited after it," McDonough said. "He felt super in the run and at about the 800m I started to get very confident." And the old boy ran some time too, a 1min55.9sec mile rate for the staying trip, closing in 55.6 and 28.1sec. It was Our Jimmy Johnstone's first victory since scoring at Gloucester Park on June 1, last year. It took his record to 118 starts for 28 wins, 43 placings and almost $670,000 in earnings. _______________________________________________________________________________ TEAM Tritton has found another good one. The improving gelding Cocosfella snared the win of the night at Menangle last night. In a hotly contested mile, Cocosfella did most of the work outside the leader and just kept coming in a 1min50.8sec mile in the $30,600 Group 3 Lazarus New Season Gift final.   By Adam Hamilton

Grand Circuit pacer Bling It On is making a racetrack return. Having stood at stud and served close to 200 mares, the nine-year-old stallion will trial at Menangle on Monday. Bling It On feels well enough for a racing return according to regular driver Luke McCarthy. “Yank is back,” said McCarthy. “I’ve driven him in fast work and in a couple of private trials around Menangle and he feels as good as he ever has. “I’m pretty confident he will make a strong return based on the way his work has been.” Bling It On had his last race start on June 9, 2018, in the Group 3 J.D. Watts Memorial and the decision was made to pull the pin on his racing career after he finished ninth. He then spent nine months in the paddock but $1.6million earner had other ideas on paddock life. “He was running around and looked really sound,” said McCarthy. “He is a type that does a little too well in the paddock and was getting a bit on the heavier side so the decision was made to jog him over the winter. “He was sound and felt so good, they decided to press on with him and now he is trialling. “If connections thought he couldn’t get back to racing at the top level they wouldn’t entertain the idea of bringing him back in work but his work has been so strong. “He will keep doing stud work and if we are happy with him on Monday we’ll keep going with him.” Bling It On won the 2017 A.G. Hunter Cup in Victoria and three starts later was involved in a race fall at Albion Park and sustained injuries that was then thought to be career ending. After extensive rehabilitation, the son of American Ideal returned to the races five months later and won his first three starts back, including his 1:50.8 career best performance at Menangle. He placed in his three starts after that, however, finished out of the money in his last three starts. In his time away from the racetrack he has sustained a stud career with his oldest progeny now yearlings.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Formidable young Riverina harness racing team Blake Jones and Ellen Bartley are already setting their sights higher-despite taking home a swag of seasonal trophies for 2018-19. "We probably did okay and there were a few memorable nice milestones along the way," Jones said. "Ellen trained her 100th winner in her career and we had a few city winners, including So Kool Master who won at Menangle at 30/1," he said. The bay gelding So Kool Master (Passmaster Hanover-Set To Shine (Fake Left) proved too good for his rivals at Menangle's final meeting for the season on August 31 with victory in the $20,400 Australume Pace. And while 2018-19 was undoubtedly a successful year, Jones and Bartley have wasted no time in kicking off the new season with a double at Wagga Wagga's Riverina Paceway. Hunza Valley (Betterthancheddar-Havana Franco (Christian Cullen) and Mammals Prince (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mammals Rocket (Pacific Rocket) both scored impressive wins at the opening meeting. The young couple is based at Coleambally, and although there's no local track, there's a strong program of Riverina racing at Wagga Wagga, Leeton, Young and Albury. "Where we live is terrific for being able to race in both States. If we happen to come across a horse that's good enough, we can race at either Menangle or Melton because it's around a six-hour drive to either one," Jones said. Jones scored a back-to-back win in the leading driver premiership at Albury. He was also the top driver at Wagga and these two titles helped him in taking the Riverina Reinsmen's Crown, judged on performances at tracks across the affiliated clubs. "I finished with 86 wins, which was a bit down on the previous season when I drove 108 winners in the Riverina and another eleven in Victoria," Jones said (his 2017-18 tally was a district record). "I try and compete at most of the meetings around here. It's a two-and-a-half hour trip to Wagga, but I didn't miss too many. It's awesome with the new 1000 metre track," he said. "Apart from our own team, which is always near eight to 10, I get drives from a lot of other stables. You certainly appreciate and need this support." Jones has been driving for 12 years after honing his skills with the help of his grandfather Joe Painting. "When I was still at High School I would be around at his place nearly every night. He only trained a few as a hobby, but I learnt so much," Jones said. Bartley, who has been training for only five seasons, combines stable duties with an Equine Sports Therapist business. She is often seen in the Riverina as well as surrounding areas such as the Victorian Goulburn Valley working as a massage therapist. Other Albury seasonal awards were announced at a special presentation night recently. Premier trainer was Hellen Scott, a former leading Melbourne basketballer in the 80s, who enjoyed another stellar season at the racetrack. Equal runners-up were Ellen Bartley and Lyn Hancock. Hellen Scott, Trainer of the Year                                    (photo courtesy Cobram HRC) Horse of the Year was Bater House, a grand campaigner for the McPherson family. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

THE spotlight is suddenly on superstar pacer Tiger Tara for the wrong reason. After the most magnificent of seasons last term, the mighty horse’s past two Menangle runs have been well below his best. You could make some arguments for his second Islandspecialmajor last week, albeit he did have a good run and the whole home straight to run that vastly inferior horse down. But he looked a shadow of himself beating just one rival home in last night’s Group 3 Vic Frost Cup over a mile at Menangle. Tiger Tara was ninth, almost 17m behind the impressive winner The Blacks Prince in a 1min51sec mile. Sure it’s just turned Spring and the big races a long way off, but now Tiger Tara has turned nine years old, every defeat will spark scrutiny. One thing for sure, trainer Kevin Pizzuto will have issues finding suitable races because just about every Menangle free-for-all is a preferential draw and most are over a mile. Both those factors really hurt Tiger Tara. You should never write-off a champion, but there will be plenty watching and wondering when he steps out next time. And he will need to improve enormously to justify a trip to NZ for the Cup and/or Auckland Inter Dominion. The winner, The Black Prince, certainly deserves a mention after posting some explosive sectional times without winning of late. And the story around him was even better given his driver, Tom Ison, only posted his first Menangle win 90 minutes earlier aboard The Black Prince’s stablemate, Pitch Perfect. ___________________________________________________________________________________ TOUGH Monarch has been threatening to this. And last night he did do it, blow away a good field and smash the clock. Just a week after a powerhouse win in a 2760m standing-start race, Tough Monarch showed fantastic gate speed to lead and win the Group 3 Maori’s Idol Trotters’ free-for-all at Melton. He ran splits of the last mile in 28 flat, 29.4, 28.3 and 29.7sec. His 1min54.4sec mile rate was just 0.7sec outside the track record. The record is held  by former great Keystone Del, set back on March 12, 2016. Reigning Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley had to do the work outside Tough Monarch in those blazing times and wilted to finish 25m from the winner in sixth spot. Trainer Rickie Alchin took on last year’s Melbourne Inter Dominion with high hopes for Tough Monarch, but he was still a work in progress. Now he looks close to the complete package. Given his form this season, especially those past two wins, he will surely tackle the Auckland Inter Dominion and make his presence felt. ______________________________________________________________________________________ STABLE star Tornado Valley ran well below his best at Melton last night, but Andy and Kate Gath still jagged a feature with Star Of Memphis in The Gammalite. In a race of cat-and-mouse tactics from back in the field, Kate Gath showed great poise to wait and swoop late with the Norm Jenkin-owned gelding. He snatched a head win over Franco Tristan in a 1min56sec mile rate for 2240m. Gath made it a double when she teamed with her father, trainer Peter Thompson, to win the seventh race with big and improving trotter Ymbro Wasted. “He’s gone to another level this time in work. He won that really well after coming three-wide without cover after the leaders didn’t go very hard,” Gath said. Another female to star on the night was Kima Frenning, who spoke highly of Kiwi import Raptors Delight after he won yet again. The gelding won just five of 34 Kiwi runs, but is now unbeaten in six starts since crossing the Tasman to join David Aiken’s stable. “He’s a lovely horse. He had to burn early and was crossed, but then relaxed well behind the leader and really sprinted quickly again when the sprint lane run came. He did it so well,” Frenning said. The mile rate was a sharp 1min53.7sec for 1720m. ______________________________________________________________________________________ IT took a few runs, but the class of former North American mare Blue Moon Stride is starting to shine through. The Emilio Rosati-owned mare won over $1.2 million in the US before being flown across to join Noel Daley’s barn in Sydney. She’s been posting some eye-catching sectional times and broke through for her first Down Under win in fine style and a quick 1min52.3sec mile last night (Saturday). ______________________________________________________________________________________ THE rise and rise of WA’s most-improved pacer Our Corelli continues. For the second time in as many weeks, the Debbie Lewis-trained gelding toyed with his rivals to win the free-for-all, albeit after using the pole draw to lead and dictate. Our Corelli has won seven of his 10 starts since switching to Lewis’ stable. With the future of Chicago Bull in limbo and Soho Tribeca under such a cloud, the door is open for an emerging horse like Our Corelli to be a major player in the Fremantle and WA Cups in January. ______________________________________________________________________________________ NSW husband-and-wife Robbie and KerryAnn Morris are lethal when they raid Queensland. And the strike rate continued when they won the first three races at Albion Park last night with Squire, Pembrooks Passion and Prophesy. Morris made it a quartet of wins with pick-up drive Mister Hart for trainer Melissa Kendall in the last race. “We usually pop-up here with a team during the Carnivals, but had a batch of horses better suited to this time of year,” Robbie Morris said.   by Adam Hamilton

HAVING ended her debut season on a high, La La Bron will attempt to begin the new term the same way. Breaking her maiden status in Saturday night’s Australian Pacing Gold Championship at Tabcorp Park Menangle, La La Bron will return to the same venue tomorrow. With the filly sent across the Murray River for the Group Two, trainer Sonya Mahar figured the programming was ripe for La La Bron to “stay a few extra days”. “Her main aim was the APG, but there was a suitable race for her on Tuesday so I figured she may as well stay a few extra days for that,” Mahar said. “She waited until the last minute to get her win as a two-year-old, but hopefully she can get her three-year-old win straight away. “Plus she is eligible for the New South Wales bonus at three as well, which will make it a very nice trip. “The APG Championship was a good time to break her maiden.” Driven by Luke McCarthy, La La Bron began quickly from the pole but was unable to hold out Tingringi and Operative Anna which crossed to the pegs, with the latter finding the lead. Enjoying a favourable trail two-back along the pegs, La La Bron gained a saloon passage along the inside to score by a metre from Tingringi, with Operative Anna a metre-and-a-half away third. Scoring at her 11th start, having run four seconds and a third, the daughter of Art Major covered the mile in 1:55.6. As for her pending assignment, La La Bron has drawn barrier five which has seen her installed a $2.75 favourite. “She kept getting better as the season went on and hopefully can take that into her next run,” Mahar said. “After that she will come home and have a spell. From what she has shown she should get better with experience and maturity.”   APG Media

CHAMPION driver Chris Alford just keeps racking-up the milestones. The latest came last Friday night when No City Chick’s Bendigo win taking him to a mind-blowing 7000 career wins. “I'm having a great run. It doesn’t seem that long ago I reached 6000 wins,” he said. “I’ve got so much great support from owners and trainers.” Alford, 51, now surely ranks up with all the greatest drivers we’ve had in this part of the world. “It’s been another big season and I’ve got some nice horses to look forward to in the new season as well, especially Be Happy Mach, who is the equal of any two-year-old I’ve driven.” ** ** ** ** TIGER Tara was beaten at his own game in a massive upset at Menangle last night. In a rare sight, the Inter Dominion champion was simply outstayed by the much-improved Islandspecialmajor, a $26 outsider for trainer-driver Jason Grimson. Tiger Tara burned early with main danger Joes Star Of Mia, then sat behind that horse, while the former Victorian pacer Islandspecialmajor sat parked and dug deep to fend-off the favourite, who had the whole straight to run him down. They went a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2300m. No doubt Tiger Tara isn’t fully wound-up with his major targets still a long way off, but he has just turned nine and any defeats like last night will raise queries over whether he is still as good. ** ** ** ** THE winning streak is now seven. Buzz former Kiwi pacer Balraj thrashed his rivals again at Menangle last Tuesday, just days after it was reported connections had turned down a $500,000 offer. Balraj won races at Forbury on February 21 and March 7 and was then sold to Australia where he’s won five on end. His past four Aussie wins have been by an aggregate of 128.4 metres. Last Tuesday he was led and was driven more conservatively by Robbie Morris, but still roared clear to win by 24.4m in a 1min51.9sec mile. He ran home in 54.2sec, but it was the 25.6sec last quarter which set tongues wagging this time. “You’ve got to have more string to your bow, so I wanted to drive him more conservatively and just let him sprint home. I was really pleased with the way he settled for, then he was electric when I said go and just took off,” Morris said. “He’s learning with every run and looks exceptional. “He’s having a let-up now, maybe a month off, and then it’s back to target the Chariots Of Fire.” ** ** ** ** A TRIP down to Melbourne paid dividends with one of Australia’s best trotters last night. Rickie Alchin’s classy stayer Tough Monarch was simply too good for his rivals despite a 10m handicap and doing most of the work in the Group 3 Coulter Crown (2760m). The son of former star Kiwi mare Tussle enjoyed another strong season, mostly racing against the best company, for six wins and five placings from 20 starts. He’s now earned almost $180,000 and looks to still be on the improve. ** ** ** ** IT was a winning reunion for Kima Frenning and one of her favourite pacers at Melton last night. Frenning was back aboard Wrappers Delight for the first time this campaign and then duly saluted despite a back row draw in the My Lightning Blue free-for-all. “He’s been such a great horse to me and I’d love to drive him all the time, but it’s hard now I train Buster Brady and they clash a bit,” Frenning said. Wrappers Delight finished strongly to win in a scorching 1min51.sec mile rate for 1720m, just 0.4sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record. ** ** ** ** TRAINER Debbie Lewis has certainly unlocked the key to Our Corelli. The Bettor's Delight gelding built a solid record in Justin Prentice’s stable, but has gone to a whole new level since switching to Lewis’ care in June. Nine runs for Lewis have netted six wins, a second and a tag as one of WA’s most exciting open-class pacers. The buzz grew last Friday at Gloucester Park when Chris Lewis used gate one to lead and gave nothing else a chance in blistering times to win the free-for-all. The 1720m mile rate was a scorching 1min52.7sec, just 1.1sec outside of Chicago Bull’s track record. ** ** ** ** BREEDERS Crown champ Be Happy Mach is a look in for Aussie 2YO of the Year. But the depth behind him paves the way for some mouth-watering Derby clashes in this new season. Jilliby Nitro is a star and hopefully recovers from injury in time for races like the Victoria and NSW Derbys. And there’s the late juvenile season find, NSW-trained Expensive Ego. The son of Rocknroll Heaven stretched his unbeaten record to six races for trainer David Thorn when he easily won another feature, the Group 2 Australian Gold NSW final, at Menangle last night. It followed a pair of Group 1 wins in Queensland. Expensive Ego matched his Menangle mile personal best with a 1min52.9sec dash last night.   Adam Hamilton

Much-loved Sydney harness racing icon Harry Martin will celebrate his 79th birthday shortly, but he has the drive and energy of a man half his years. "Yes I can say that I'm still as enthusiastic as ever. I'm still up and about between 5 and 5.30am - a routine I've had forever," Harry said with a laugh. Martin, who's trained out of Menangle Park for over 60 years has a team of four in his stable at the moment. And two of these have certainly hit a purple patch of form in recent weeks. Half-brothers in Double Encounter and Double Bliss are both in line for a hat-trick of wins following two victories apiece this month, with in-form reinsman David Morris at the helm. Double Encounter (Village Jasper-Lombo La Shelly (Pacific Fella) took out the $22,400 Seppelt One Mile Drive Pace on August 3, then a fortnight later claimed the Group Three $30,600 Campbelltown Catholic Club Pace, both at Menangle. "He is a very nice horse who can sprint quickly," Martin said. "He's now a winner of 15 races, 10 of these at Menangle, and is nearing $150,000 in stakemoney so he has been very good for his owners." Double Bliss (Blissfull Hall-Lombo La Shelly (Pacific Fella) is a lightly raced chestnut gelding with six wins and 12 placings from only 27 career starts. The pacer has been successful at his latest outings at Bankstown on August 9 and then six days later at Penrith. Martin said while he preferred to race at Menangle, he also enjoyed competing at other tracks near Sydney. And while he's currently enjoying another nice run of success, it would be unforgivable to write a story and not wind back the clock to the spine-tingling days of the champion pacer that made Harry Martin a household name. Double Identity (Embrace Me-Mercy Lyn (Southern Gentleman), who raced from August, 1999 to October 2006, had a rockstar-like cult following in that era, with fans embracing the gelding for his dogmatic will-to-win. "Gee I'd love to have one like him again-it probably won't ever happen, but I'll keep looking and hoping. I won't ever give up," he said. Double Identity had his first two dozen starts for trainer Colin Grimson, who won nine races with him. When Grimson decided to move to the country, the owners offered the gelding to Martin. The pacer took Martin on the ride of a lifetime during one particular campaign when he won eight of 10, culminating in the rich Group Two Winter Cup at Brisbane's Albion Park. But the gifted, gritty pacer wasn't without his challenges. "He was a chronic knee-knocker. I was never able to get him off his knee completely, and the old plastic-type knee boots that were around back then would be totally destroyed in about two or three weeks - he would just put a hole in them," Martin said. "But by using spreaders, and I would pull them up really tight, I was able to reduce the impact and get it as good as I could." The astute horseman, who remarkably still shoes all his horses to this day, found a square-toed aluminum shoe the best for Double Identity. The inimitable Double Identity driven by Harry Martin in his heyday   --Gary Wild photo With scalps in the Gold Coast Cup and the Queensland Pacing Championship, along with a close second in the Newcastle Mile, the target then became the 2002 Miracle Mile at Harold Park. In a brilliant display and aged 62 years, Martin would, at the time, become the oldest driver to win the feature race. He lobbed in the one-one from the wide six alley, pulled three wide on the home turn and held off a late run by Smooth Satin to win by half a head. Further wins came in the SA Cup at Globe Derby, a second Queensland Pacing Championship and a comfortable Truer Memorial victory. Then came success in the Victoria Cup - a win Martin believes was the finest ever recorded by Double Identity during his sensational career. "I remember I'd given up going down the back for the last time. They kept the speed on and I was struggling," he said. But the mighty horse dug deep from the 600metre mark and overhauled some classy rivals to post a winning time of 1.58-2 for the 2570m trip. The combination won another nine races to take his lifetime record to an amazing 51 wins and 39 placings from 146 starts and more than $1.2 million in stakes. Martin said after being retired, the life of Double Identity came to a sad end. "He was 10 years old and hit a corner post in a paddock. He wasn't in a good way and suffered a heart attack later," Martin said. Although Double Identity was clearly Martin's best-ever horse, he is rarely without a handy conveyance or two in the stable. "Double Event has been one of the nicer ones lately. He's just recently retired (after 17 wins and $188,000 in stakes) and he's landed on his feet. He's taken to riding under saddle really well, so that's always good to see," Martin said, with obvious pleasure. But the search goes on for another Double Identity, and if there's one within reach of wily veteran trainer Harry Martin, he'll unearth it. And he's got some faith in a rising two-year-old by Heston Blue Chip, purchased at the sales this year. "We keep looking! While you are keen and willing, you never think about stopping. That's the way I look at it anyway. Besides I don't know anything else - horses have been my life."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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