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A young harness racing trainer and driver combination from Albury has delivered a knockout blow in the big smoke-with the help of an ounce of luck. Talented reinsman Thomas Gilligan and his fiancée Brooke McPherson, who is the trainer, made the 10-hour round trip to Menangle with their six-year-old gelding Rusty Crackers last Saturday night and come up trumps at 12/1. "It was unreal and a huge thrill because it was our first metropolitan winner. But it did all pan out beautifully for us," a jubilant Gilligan said. "The horse travelled brilliantly in the run and dug deep when he had to over the final stages. I was so lucky to get off the fence and into the clear." After easing off the gate at the start, Gilligan settled four back on the pegs. He angled off on the home corner and come home four wide with a wet sail to snatch victory right on the line. Watch the replay click here. Rusty Crackers (Dawn Of A New Day-Dilingers Comment (D M Dilinger) got the judge's verdict by a half neck from Air Time (Jack Callaghan) in a PB of 1.51-4. Gilligan said before the victory, Rusty Crackers had raced at Menangle six times, with a second and a third in the past five weeks being the best result. "I can tell you that I was well and truly in the good books on the way home, but Rusty Crackers is definitely the pin up boy at the moment," he said "Brooke has really persevered with the horse and it has taken a lot of starts to get him to hit his straps." Rusty Crackers and proud trainer Brooke McPherson (Photograph Club Menangle) Gilligan is a farrier by trade and a third-generation horseman in the sport, following in the footsteps of his father Shane and his late grandfather Ron. The young couple have a team of three in training at the moment. "We've both got full-time work, so it's impossible to have too many going around," he said. "But it was a pretty exciting night and hopefully we might have another trip to the city on the cards soon." Rusty Crackers has now won 14 races with 18 placings since joining the McPherson stable. Included in those wins was the Temora Pacers Cup and Iron Jack Wagga Pacers Cup earlier this year. The latest win took his earnings over the $100,000 mark. Gilligan has previously tasted success at Menangle - but admits to being a bit "rusty" on some of the finer details. "It has seemed to take a bit to get used to the style of racing at Menangle-in saying that I mean for both horse and driver!" Gilligan laughed. "I competed in a Rising Star series for young drivers about seven or eight years ago and was lucky enough to get the chocolates," he said. "But I still had to ask someone last Saturday where I had to go back to scale after winning. I was getting photographs taken and sort of forgot where I had to circle back to. Anyway, I got there in the end-it was somewhere near the winning post!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A GENUINE half-hour of harness power headlines a massive weekend of racing Australia. In a stroke of genius, NSW officials have scheduled King Of Swing’s race as the opener at Menangle on Saturday night. That’s at 5.47pm and just 15 minutes later, Australia’s most exciting pacer Ride High, chases his 16th win from just 17 starts in the $30,000 Gammalite (1690m) at Terang. Ride High is the lone back row runner (gate eight), but is a class above his rivals and a $1.08 favourite on the Aussie TAB, King Of Swing will have more of a contest, albeit he should work forward and find the lead over 2300m. As usual, his trainer Craig Cross has more than half the field (seven of the 10 runners), but it’s the emerging Balraj who will likely work across from gate 10 and then sit on King Of Swing (gate 11). There will also be plenty of interest in last year’s Victoria Cup winner Bling It On, who resumes from a spell and looked very sharp in a recent Menangle trial. Luke McCarthy is sticking with King Of Swing as his drive. His father, John, will drive Bling It On and Jimmy Rattray again drives Balraj. The other Menangle highlight will see Anthony Butt’s emerging Wolf Stride chase his eighth successive win in he fourth event. Wolf Stride won the Group 1 NSW Regional Metro final before a break and returned with a sharp Menangle win last weekend. It won’t be easy from a wide draw (gate 10), but he’s still a $1.40 Aussie TAB favourite. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ WA superstar Chicago Bull returns from a freshen-up for what shapes as a stirring clash with the gifted Shockwave at Gloucester Park on Friday night. After a hectic but hugely successful winter campaign, Chicago Bull has been away from the track for a month, but still has a fitness edge over his major rival.  Shockwave, a winner of 14 of his 34 starts, is first-up since running second at Gloucester Park back on April 24. Shockwave does have a slight barrier edge from gate six with Chicago Bull on his outside (seven) in the $50,000 Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2536m). But it’s not just a two-horse race with Inter Dominion finalist Galactic Star, albeit he’ll be a distant third favourite having drawn outside the other pair (gate eight). ________________________________________________________________________________________________ QUEENSLAND’S best pacer Colt Thirty One returns from a short break and headlines the Albion Park card on Saturday night. Grant Dixon’s stable star is a class above his rivals, but has the dreaded outside front row draw (gate seven) and may have to do all the work as he’s done in recent minor placings. In other Queensland news, All Stars gun colt One Change stretched his record to three wins from as many runs in Queensland with a slick victory yesterday (Tuesday). The Bettors Delight colt did plenty of work early in a blazing 1min52sec mile rate for 1660m. One Change, now in the care of Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham, now boasts 11 wins and six placings from his 17 starts.   Adam Hamilton

Cash N Flow’s quest for a remarkable 11th successive Menangle free-for-all win headlines another big weekend of Aussie action. The former Kiwi pacer faces much the some company he’s beaten in recent wins, headed by stablemate Replaced Eye and classy Bathurst stayer Atomic Red, and dominates betting as a $1.25 Aussie TAB favourite. Despite the outside draw, Luke McCarthy likely follow the same winning formula from most recent wins and work forward at the start to take the lead from Replaced Eye. It’s another stablemate, the emerging Zahven Banner, who adds to more interest to this week’s $30,600 Group 3 Lazarus @ Yirribee Stud Pace (1609m). But Cash N Flow would have to dip below his recent breathtaking form and/or have plenty of bad luck not to continue on his winning way. The other key race of interest at Menangle is the fourth event where Anthony Butt’s NSW Metropolitan Region Championship winner Wolf Stride returns from a break. The rising star has gate two in a handy field, but only needs to return in his best form to make the most of the gun draw and seven wins on end. _________________________________________________________________________________ As we continue to wait for the first Ride High and Lochinvar Art stoush, we have to settle for another workout between races this weekend. Last week it was Ride High and this time Lochinvar Art will work with a galloping pacemaker between the fourth and fifth races at Shepparton. Trainer-driver David Moran will wait for the workout before locking in where Lochinvar Art will race next. While there is some chance it could be against Ride High at Terang on Saturday week, it is a lot more likely to be at Bendigo on September 19. On the race front, the two highlights at Shepparton are races four and fifth. In the fourth, gifted trotter Wobelee headlines a small seven-horse field and will dominate betting despite the outside draw. His key rivals look to be classy and speedy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate five), former Kiwi C K Spur (two) and multiple Group 1 winner Big Jack Hammer (six). The fifth event is the fast-class race of the night and David Aiken’s untapped Reactor Now faces by his biggest test, but has the advantage of gate one. The son of Auckland Reactor boasts 10 wins from just 14 starts and has already blazed a 1min 52.2sec mile rate, but he’s never faced this calibre of opposition. Major rivals include Auckland Inter Dominion finalists Sicario (gate 10) and My Kiwi Mate (eight) and Emma Stewart’s brilliant Hurricane Harley (nine). _________________________________________________________________________________ Former Kiwi pacer Wildwest, the horse Gary Hall Sr hopes will fill the shoes of Chicago Bull in time, is the star attraction at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. Wildwest made it nine wins from just 11 starts when he resumed with a terrific run, but he jumps straight into free-for-all grade second-up, albeit with the huge help of barrier one. Stablemate Fake News, arguably the best mare in WA right now, looks a threat from gate five, while proven topliner Galactic Star is the class act, but he has outside the back row (gate 12) to overcome in the 2130m race. There will also be plenty of interest in Galactic Star’s exciting three-year-old stablemate, Howard Hughes, who will chase his 10th win from just 13 runs from gate seven in race six. _________________________________________________________________________________ Another week and some more strong All Stars’ flavour at Albion Park on Saturday night. Ashley Locaz will be out to improve on his strong first-up third for trainer Vicki Rasmussen when he starts from gate five in a similar race to last week. He’s sure to be improved by last week’s run when close-up despite sitting parked and being first-up since last December’s Auckland Inter Dominion final. Amazing Dream, who has a win and a second from her two Queensland runs for trainer Darren Weeks, steps out again in the fourth race. While she’s easily the best pacer in the race, Amazing Dream has drawn inside the back row (gate eight) and much will depend on where she settles and luck in running over 2138m trip.   by Adam Hamilton

A FITTER and sharper King Of Swing will headline Aussie racing this week. The Miracle Mile winner will have his second run back from a spell, this time taking on top class stablemate Alta Orlando, in a mile free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainers Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy have been juggling their stable stars to keep them apart in recent weeks, but the sheer glut of talent meant King Of Swing and Alta Orlando had to lock horns this week. “We’ve also got Balraj, Cash N Flow and Bling It On to race in the next few weeks as well,” McCarthy said. “Balraj will run Saturday week (August 29) then Cash N Flow will continue his routine of three week gaps and go around on the 5th (of September). “Bling It On is very close, too. He’ll trial next Wednesday we’ll see how he comes through that before picking out a race.” Back to King Of Swing and he’ll start from the outside draw in a race where McCarthy and Cross have a staggering eight of the 10 runners. Alta Orlando, likely to be driven by Todd McCarthy, will start directly inside King Of Swing. Asked about the hype around Ride High and a clash with him at some stage, McCarthy said: “Ride High is a machine and a gorgeous horse. It’ll be awesome when they all come together.” Cross and McCarthy also hold the key to Saturday night’s Group 3 Ladyship Pace (1609m) at Menangle. The one to beat is Bettor Enforce, who has two wins and a top second from three runs this campaign, despite the outside draw. Kiwi-owned former WA mare Dracarys steps up in grade for an arrogant win at just her second run for Cross and McCarthy and looks the main threat. On the same card, Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan returns from a spell for trainer Sonya Smith, but has the outside draw (gate six) against the boys. Jack Trainor takes the drive on Dr Susan because Anthony Butt is committed to Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter Perfect Stride from gate five. The other key runner is another former Kiwi, Mach Da Vinci, from gate four.   Adam Hamilton

Outstanding Sydney harness racing driver Robbie Morris has again reached some significant milestones - but there's one lingering in the back of his mind that he really wants. Morris, who forms a formidable team with his wife KerryAnn at their 'Lucky Lodge' Menangle property, recently posted his 100th State driving success, which also took him to a career total of 1400 wins. He'd earlier reached a century tally in May, which included Qld and NSW victories. And KerryAnn is again showing fine touch this season, reaching more than 100 winners as a trainer - a milestone she has recorded in the past seven seasons. "It makes you proud to reach those little milestones, because it means you're getting the results you are after," Robbie said. "We have a few stars but a lot of consistent bread and butter horses which are important," he said. "I think it was 2009 when I started, and I got 80 winners. Every season since I've been fortunate to drive over the century mark." Robbie Morris is currently among the country's top 20 drivers, and KerryAnn is sitting number five on the national trainers' table. And while there have been many highlights in their relatively short careers, Morris said there was one major goal still to be ticked off. "For me, I've got a burning desire for one of the real top Group events-the Miracle Mile is the one I really want," he said. "I was runner-up in 2011 with a great horse in Karloo Mick, trained by Barry Lew. We were big odds and went down by a metre to a champion in Smoken Up. "When you ask me to name a memorable win or horse, I nearly always come back to that race - despite the fact we got beaten! "It was an awesome day. I was so fortunate to be part of it. And it has sort of remained with me ever since." Morris and the admired warhorse Karloo Mick formed an outstanding duo in the latter stages of the pacer's career. Leading up to the 'Mile', they won the Brian Hancock Cup, of $25k, in October, at Menangle and then finished third two weeks later in the $70,000 Newcastle Mile to Raglan (Anthony Butt) in 1.54-9. In fact, in 12 starts during a period of a little over a two-years from October, 2011, Morris guided the gelding to four wins and three placings, finishing no further back than fifth, barring one eighth, against some of the stars of the time. The wins included the 2012 $10k Don Tildsley Memorial at Eugowra on October 1; the 2013 $10k Tamworth Gold Nugget, January 16; and the $25,000 Group Three Australia Day Cup at Menangle, which was to be the grand old pacer's final race. Karloo Mick went out a winner, at age 12, with 64 wins, 59 placings for nearly $1.5M. Morris says that after getting through Year 10, all he wanted to do was to be home with his father Peter and the horses. "School just wasn't for me-dad realized, but mum wasn't so understanding," he said. "We used to be at Fairfield and ever since we've been at our 20-acre property, which is a stone's throw from the Menangle track. The facilities are first-class and you wouldn't want to be anywhere else." Morris said he met his now wife KerryAnn (nee Turner) when he was travelling far and wide as a junior driver, trying to get as many drives as possible. "I found myself doing trips down into the NSW Riverina district. KerryAnn and her parents Ray and Helen lived at Ganmain, about 40 minutes from Wagga. They raced small teams, and they still do. "I met KerryAnn at one of the meetings and then kept seeing her around. It just went from there. Now we're married, doing what we love and have a great young son in Archie." Morris said his parents Peter and Margaret were vital to the Lucky Lodge operation. "Mum does all the books and she's often called in to baby-sit, while dad does the jog trips and other chores," he said. "Our team is usually between 40 to 45 and I do most of the driving with our stablehand Josh Gallagher, who has always been with us. He's like family. "KerryAnn drives occasionally and she's good at it. But she seems to enjoy the training side more of the sport." KerryAnn Morris   The NSW premiership tables, as of earlier this week: NSW drivers’ premiership Luke McCarthy                  446 races             136 wins              114 places Todd McCarthy                 681                       129                        180 Amanda Turnbull              409                       111                       112 Robbie Morris                    734                       103                        174 Metropolitan Luke McCarthy                  239 races            71 wins                65 places Todd McCarthy                 230                       31                          71 Anthony Butt                     101                       24                          15 Robbie Morris                   226                       23                          45   NSW Trainers’ premiership Craig Cross                         667 races             170 wins              158 places Clayton Harmey                511                       114                       144 KerryAnn Morris               940                       111                       225 Bernie Hewitt                    484                       76                          127 Metropolitan     Craig Cross                         420 races            98 wins                 103 places KerryAnn Morris               331                       19.5                      67.5 Tim Butt                             79                         16                          14 Team Tritton                     214                       14                          39.5     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Champion European trotting sire Love You, whose semen is available ‘down under’ through Haras Des Trotteurs, Ballarat (Vic.), has unearthed another potential topliner in the two-year-old Sweet On You. Having only his second start, the chestnut gelding led from the outset and annihilated his opposition in the Yabby Dam Racing 2YO Trot at Bendigo on Monday (July 13). The winning margin was an astonishing 95 metres and the mile rate for the 2150 metres stand was 2:04.1 with the last mile in 2:01.4. Illawong Moonbeam, a Love You filly, finished second. On the same card the Yabby Dam Farm bred four-year-old Mataderos notched his second success, carving out his last 800 in 58.5 in scoring by 14 metres. Other recent Yabby Dam Farm bred winners have been Xebec, a four-year-old gelding by resident sire Orlando Vici who overcame a 30 metre handicap to win at Cambridge Raceway, New Zealand, and Cash Lover (by Ready Cash), who made it four wins from her last five outings at Ballarat. Ready Cash, a dual Prix d’Amerique winner, was also represented by the winner of the $44,650 Reynolds Memorial at The Meadowlands, New Jersey in the three-year-old colt Back Of The Neck (1:52). To complete a great week, Right Moves, a three-year-old filly by the French-bred Haras Des Trotteurs stallion The Best Madrik and a half-sister to Sweet On You, hoisted a new lifetime mark of 1:59.5 winning for the third time at Menangle.   Peter Wharton

Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing will resume at Menangle on August 1. Driver and stable spokesman Luke McCarthy said the much-travelled star had thrived during his break.  “What he did last campaign, which was really rushed at times when you look back on it, was amazing,” he said. “He’s had a good break, although he didn’t have that much time out as such, we kept some fitness with the water walker, etc.  “He could’ve raced a couple weeks back if we’d wanted, but there’s no rush with the Victoria Cup (October 10) his first big target.  “We’re all looking forward to getting him back. There’s every reason to think he can keep getting better. He’s the pick of our open-class horses and we’re lucky to have some pretty good ones.”  McCarthy and head trainer Craig Cross are continuing to plot how to keep their stable stars, headed by King Of Swing, Alta Orlando and Cash N Flow, from clashing as much as possible.  Alta Orlando resumed with an eye-catching second to stablemate Replaced Eye in the free-for-all at Menangle last Saturday night. He smashed the clock storming home from near last.  “He’s going to back-up again this weekend because the 2300m will suit him,” McCarthy said. “His run the other night was enormous.  “Cash N Flow likes his races spaced, a bit like a thoroughbred, and we keep him to the mile racing so he’ll go around the following Saturday.  “Then it’s King Of Swing the week after so he won’t have to race the other two first-up.” All three could target the Victoria Cup. “Providing we can get into Victoria by then with all the COVID issues, King Of Swing and Alta Orlando will definitely go and Cash N Flow could as well, if he’s still going as well as he is now.”  Cash N Flow has won his past eight runs at Menangle, all over the mile.  “The Victoria Cup is 2240m and we’d stretch him out to that for a big race. He’s gone well over that trip at Melton before,” McCarthy said.   Adam Hamilton

Former Kiwi champion Changeover, who stands at Burwood Stud in Queensland, sired important winners in both hemispheres last week. Our Friend NZ led the charge on the home front, winning his sixth race at Albion Park at a 1:54.5 rate, while Aqua Cruiser (1:58.1) and Chang both rung up number one at Redcliffe. Changeover was also represented by a pair of Addington winners in Wee Ring The Changes (1:59.2) and the talented Adam Patron, while, in North America, Sudden Change NZ (1:54) and Bronze Over NZ (1:54.4) both saluted at Yonkers, New York. Adam Patron winning at Addington Changeover has left 95 individual winners to date this season in Australia and NZ and progeny earnings of almost $1.8 million.   By Peter Wharton

THE Frisby clan love a Queensland raid. And there latest trip north with a team has quickly gathered momentum with Jenden Strike’s fighting win in last night’s Group 2 South-East Oaks (2138m) at Albion Park. Anthony Frisby, driving for his father Chris, snared the one-one early on the Bathurst filly and must have been giggling as star local Pelosi drifted back to last from a wide draw and effectively took no part. Jenden Strike fought-off challenges from all angles in the last 100m to win by a neck and get a deserved big race win after being so competitive in the Victoria and NSW Oaks series’ earlier this season. Given they ran home in 57.2 and 28.6sec, Pelosi’s effort to come five and six-wide around the field and get within 4.4m in fifth spot was monstrous. Jenden Strike and Pelosi could back-up against the boys in the South-East Derby next Saturday night. ___________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a marvellous horse Replaced Eye has been for Craig Cross and his team. The rising eight-year-old looked to have a done a good job making his way through to open-class, but since getting there he’s just kept improving. His gate speed is a weapon and it won him another free-for-all, this time beating star stablemate Alta Orlando, at Menangle last night. While Replaced Eye led and dictated through a 56.2sec first half, Alta Orlando drifted back to a second-last from an outside draw and had an impossible task. Todd McCarthy dashed away around the home bend and Replaced Eye ran his last half in 54.5sec to win by 9.3m over Alta Orlando, who must have broken 53sec for his last half to snare second spot. Alta Orlando was first-up since his Miracle Mile placing in early March and connections would’ve been thrilled with his racetrack return. Back to Replaced Eye and a great trivia question would be who trained him at his first start? It was Victoria’s Peter Manning, but he had just the one run before going a miss and having more than two years off the track. Cross is his third trainer since then and he’s now won 19 of his 81 starts and gone past $200,000 in earnings. ___________________________________________________________________________________ CHAMPION driver Gary Hall Jr pulled a surprise to help star pacer Chicago Bull return to winning form at Gloucester Park on Friday. Few expected it, but Hall Jr unleashed Chicago Bull from the outside draw (gate seven) at the start and rushed across to take the lead in the free-for-all. The race was effectively over when he found the pegs. Chicago Bull cruised around and dashed home in 54.5sec to make it six wins, four seconds and a third from his 11 starts on the comeback trail. The other class runner, Handsandwheels, settled back and made some late ground without even being a factor to finish fifth. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ALMOST weekly we get reminders what a tragedy the premature death of Alta Christiano has been. Cut short in his prime on the racetrack with 13 wins from just 18 starts and almost $310,000 in earnings, the Kiwi-bred WA Derby winner was just starting to make his mark at stud when he died of a colic attack in late March.  Alta Christiano only has three crops racing and landed another major win when Mighty Ronaldo (Alta Christiano-Millwoods Delight) won WA’s biggest juvenile race, the $100,000 Group 1 Golden Slipper, at Gloucester Park Friday night. Trained and driven by Justin Prentice, Mighty Ronaldo enjoyed the hotly-contested affair and caused a major upset as a $26 shot in beating Give Us A Wave by 4.4m in a slick 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. Prentice doesn’t drive too often these days, but he was at his best, escaping a four pegs pocket to gradually to work to the outside then storm around them on the home bend to win easily. Team Bond’s Give Us A Wave was brave in second spot after working to lead and carving out slick fractions through the middle stages. Alta Christiano sired a double on the night with four-year-old While They Pray running a slick 1min54.7sec for 2130m to win the third event. ___________________________________________________________________________________ COULD C K Spur be the next great “find” out of NZ for the Norm Jenkin/Team Gath combination? Jenkin has an imposing list of trotting success with Kiwi purchases and the immediate signs were most encouraging with C K Spur winning his first run for Andy and Kate Gath at Bendigo last night. The Pegasus Spur gelding, who contested the Auckland Inter Dominion late last year for trainer Arna Donnelly, was first-up since a fifth at Cambridge on January 11. And he did it the hard way at Bendigo, making a midrace move to park outside main danger Emerald Stride and proving too strong and classy in a brisk 1min59.3sec mile rate for 2150m. “He won nine races over there, but got in really in the handicapping system here. In saying that, it was actually a strong first-up test for him the way the field came together,” Andy Gath said. The six-year-old pulled clear late to win by 3.4m and should quickly march through the grades. In the fast-class trot of the night, exciting three-year-old filly Pink Galahs underlined her potential by whizzing home along the sprint lane to beat favourite and classy former Kiwi Robbie Royale. ___________________________________________________________________________________ HE is still a work in progress, but Whereyabinboppin oozes potential. The big-striding gelding made it 11 wins from just 16 starts when he scorched a 53.5sec closing half at the end of a 1min50.5sec mile and won by as far as he liked in the Group 3 Farmer Joes Outlet final at Menangle last night. In contrast to recent runs when he’s had to sit parked or work hard in the early and middle stages, this time he waltzed to the front and always looked in control. It was an armchair drive for Cameron Hart as Whereyabinboppin coasted to a 10.1m win. Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter Perfect Stride only beat two home, but he covered ground off the pegs and tried to make ground in that scorching last half  Anthony Butt is still expected to push ahead with a Queensland trip for the Group 2 South-East Derby against One Change and some classy locals next Saturday night at Albion Park. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ONE-TIME buzz pacer Ignatius kick-started a campaign Jimmy Rattray hopes will take him back to the top with a win at Menangle last night. The former star two, three and early four-year-old is yet to make his mark in open-class, but he’s still just five.  Rattray drove a gem of a race to land the one-one trail from a wide draw, hit the front at the top of the straight and just staved-off a late lunge from Our Wall Street Wolf to win in a 1min51sec mile.It was only Ignatius’ two win from 10 runs this season, but took his career record to 20 wins from 37 starts and almost $440,000 in earnings.   Adam Hamilton

JUST days after the flying Cash N Flow made it a staggering eight successive Menangle wins, his stable is about to unleash one they say is better. Former Kiwi pacer Alta Orlando made quite a splash last campaign, culminating with a luckless third in the Miracle Mile, and returns from a break in the mile free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night. Driver Luke McCarthy doesn’t hide the fact he rates Alta Orlando above Cash N Flow despite the stunning autumn/winter form of the latter. “Cashy is a lovely horse and we’ve really found the key to him, but he’s that notch below our absolute best and Alta Orlando is one of them,” McCarthy said. “Alta Orlando was actually ready to run last week, but it looked a good race for Cashy and we weren’t keen for them to clash when Alta was first-up. “It was pretty awesome what Alta Orlando did last time in work and gee he’s come back well. He won that Miracle Mile qualifier so well and would’ve gone close in the Mile itself if everything had gone his way. “It’s great to have him back and we think he’ll be a big player in all the top races.” Alta Orlando is one of six runners trainer Craig Cross has in Saturday’s free-for-all, but he’s sure to be a warm favourite despite the outside draw. His major rivals look to be Steve Turnbull’s star stayer Atomic Red, who is also resuming from a wide draw, along with the classy The Black Prince. The best of Cross’ other runners are the ultra-consistent Replayed Eye and talented former WA pacer Zennart. Like most of Australia’s top pacers, Alta Orlando is being primed for the $300,000 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10. And he is Cross and McCarthy’s anointed one for a Perth raid to tackle the Group 1 double – Fremantle and WA Cups – in November/December. “Remember we had him booked to go to those races this year, but we couldn’t get flights across,” McCarthy said.  “We thought a lot of him back then, but he hasn’t really proved it. He has now and we think the best is still to come.” Alta Orlando’s return headlines a ripper Menangle card. In the third race, one-time buzz pacer Ignatius returns from a spell and should be too classy. Jimmy Rattray’s stable star grabbed the eye when hard-held behind Perfect Stride in a recent Menangle trial where they zipped home in 26.6sec at the end of a 1min53.1sec mile. Perfect Stride then resumed with a Menangle win last week and backs up in a hot final of that race – the fifth event this Saturday night. It’ll be a serious test for Perfect Stride from gate nine with major danger Whereyabinboppin (gate five) drawn inside him  If he comes through this run well, Perfect Stride will head north for what shapes as a cracking South-East Derby at Albion Park.   Adam Hamilton

THE real McLovin is back. The jury has been out on the former Kiwi trotter since his roller-coaster NZ raid late last year, which culminated in him being scratched from the Auckland Inter Dominion with a viral infection. He’s won a few races since returning home, but largely not quite looked the same horse. But all that changed last night with his epic, off-the-canvas win in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk Trotters’ free-for-all. Yes he may have lost a little of his brilliance, but strength and will are as good, if not better, than ever. McLovin looked beaten a dozen times, especially when shoved four-wide for much of the last lap, but just kept coming and savaged the line to win by a half-neck. They went a brisk 1min55.9sec mile rate for 1720m. It rekindled memories of his mighty win in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint back on Victoria Cup night last October. McLovin’s raced 11 times this term for six wins, two seconds, a third and almost $120,000. He’s now won 15 races and pocketed almost $260,000 since joining Gath’s stable. McLovin was the first of two huge wins for Team Gath on the night, the second coming when the emerging Kiwi-bred gelding Eureka copped plenty of pressure in front, overraced badly and still scorched a 1min52.1sec mile rate for 1720m to score. Eureka, a Washington VC four-year-old, is raced by Norm Jenkin, who also owns McLovin. Eureka’s 10 Aussie runs have netted seven wins, a second and a third. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CASH N Flow’s eighth successive Menangle mile free-for-all win sent onlookers scrambling for the record books. Race caller Fred Hastings confirmed the former Kiwi gelding had broken two records on his way to a soft 4.3m win over stablemate Replaced Eye. Cash N Flow’s last half and quarter were the quickest officially clocked race splits at Menangle. The son of Mach Three blazed home in 53.2 and 25.3sec. It came off a very cosy 27.6 opening quarter and 57.4sec first half, so the mile itself was comfortable for Cash N Flow at 1min50.6sec. The previous fastest winning split by a leader was the 53.6sec Spankem clocked winning last year’s Miracle Mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt will get his wish with classy former Kiwi three-year-old Perfect Stride. Butt wants some strong racing for the colt before he heads to the South-East Derby at Albion Park later this month. Perfect Stride had to dig deep for his first-up win at Menangle last night, despite running to the front and strolling through a 59.2sec first half over a mile. It was really just a 400m sprint home and Perfect Stride just held-off his main danger, Seeuinnashville, to win by a half-head in a 26sec final quarter over a 1min53.7sec mile. The win qualified Perfect Stride for next week’s TAB Long May We Play final, which will draw together a strong line-up. Hardest to beat will be buzz four-year-old Whereyabinboppin, who did things wrong, raced erratically at times and still won his heat sitting parked much of the trip in a 1min51.5sec mile. The other heat winners were Paul Fitzpatrick’s improving Bracken Storm in a 1min51.4sec mile and Craig Cross’ Royal Aurora in 1min51.8sec. _________________________________________________________________________________________ FANS now can’t wait to see Queensland’s buzz pacer Speech Is Silver take on the big boys. The former All Stars’ five-year-old seemed to win with something in reserve despite doing plenty of work in a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 1660m at Albion Park last night. It was his seventh win on end, his 11th win from just 13 runs this season and his 14th win from just 18 lifetime starts. Queensland’s top pacer Colt Thirty One survived a late scare to win the free-for-all last night. The five-year-old led from the pole, copped a little midrace pressure, and held-off Justalittle Torque by a half-neck in a 26.6sec last quarter and 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2138m. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CHRIS Voak has become one of the best front-running drivers in Australia. And he showed why with a superbly-rated drive in front on hardy veteran Vultan Tin to upset Chicago Bull in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Voak put the foot down with a 28.4sec second quarter, then went 27.7sec down the back before a 28 flat closing split. That’s 1min24.1sec for the last 1200m! It was only Vultan Tin’s third win from 21 starts this season, but took his career record to 160 starts for 26 wins, 41 placings and almost $570,000. Vultan Tin’s been a player at WA’s top level for a number of years and most notably ran fourth to Lazarus in the 2017 Perth Inter Dominion final. In the other Gloucester Park features Friday, Mach Three filly Just For Love led throughout for driver Jocelyn Young to easily win the 2YO Fillies’ Gold Bracelet. _________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA’S dominant Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable continue to make a splash with their select team of trotters. Just a day after buzz two-year-old trotter Utopia won his first start by almost 90m at Shepparton, their three-year-old Cover Of Darkness stretched his unbeaten run to three wins at Ballarat. It came after a scare for driver Jodi Quinlan when Cover Of Darkness, a Majestic Son colt, galloped for a few strides at the start, but quickly settled. Quinlan let him balance-up, but when he started to pull hard, she unleashed him around to take the front. Cover of Darkness was headed rounding the final bend, but just kept finding to win by 3.9m in a 2min1.9sec mile rate for 2200m. Sitting at home about to resume is Tonkin and Stewart’s untapped four-year-old trotter Alpha Male, who won the Group 1 Need for Speed on March 9 last year, but hasn’t raced since because of injury. Alpha Male, described by Tonkin as a “monster of a horse,” has raced just five times for three wins and two placings. Both placings came after costly gallops.   Adam Hamilton

PART-OWNER Rob Gartrell has strongly hinted at a Menangle stint for exciting WA pacer Ocean Ridge. Speaking on Perth’s TAB Radio this morning (Thursday), Gartrell said it was an attractive option to send the Kiwi-bred Ocean Ridge to race at Menangle in future. “It’s something we’ve talked about, to give him the chance to see what sort of time he could run there. We also think the style of racing there would suit him.” More immediately, Ocean Ridge (gate two) will try and beat Chicago Bull (five) for the third time in six starts when they clash in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. It’s certainly not a two-horse race with in-form veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone in gate three and Motu Premier resuming from the pole. The Aussie TAB has Chicago Bull, who was just nosed-out by Ocean Ridge, the $1.85 favourite to atone. Ocean Ridge is $3.50, Motu Premier $4.40 and Our Jimmy Johnstone $4.60. Gartrell also revealed a couple of the other open-class stars he races, Vampiro and Galactic Star, were also progressing well after spells. “They’re coming up well together,” he said. “Vampiro really took the next step last campaign and that’s despite his owner drawing some bad barriers for him.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler looks the one to beat in Saturday night’s Redcliffe Gold Cup. The Alistair Barnes-trained pacer returned with a terrific second to Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One, last Saturday night at Albion Park. He will need some luck and to step well from inside the runners off a 10m handicap., but looks the class factor. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ BUDDING star The Black Prince gets his chance to snag a Menangle free-for-all with Cash N Flow staying at home this week. The Roy Roots Jr-trained pacer won two in a row at Newcastle during NSW’s strictest regional racing then did all the work when a fighting second to Cash N Flow in a 1min50.2sec Menangle Mile last Saturday week. He packs early speed, should be suited by the stretch to 2300m and is a $1.85 Aussie TAB favourite. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE time is gone where training trotters in Victoria means you can escape the dominance of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. They won their first Group 1 trotting race with the monstrous and very talented Alpha Male in late, 2018. He’s very close to a comeback from injury. And, according to Clayton Tonkin, he’s ready to pick-up where he left off. More recently, they’ve unveiled the nicely-bred Majestic Son three-year-old colt Cover Of Darkness to win both runs, the most recent by a big pace at Terang on June 18. But the best could be yet to come and soon. Those allowed trackside for the Melton trials last Tuesday had a glimpse of why the stable thinks so much of two-year-old trotter Utopia. The colt, by Trixton out of former talented racemare Gluteus Maximus, won his first trial by 52.5m and trotted faultlessly throughout for driver Jodi Quinlan. Utopia trotted a 2min3.5sec mile rate for 2240m, but it was the ease with which he buzzed home in 28.5sec which most impressed. Gluteus Maximus won 14 races and $104,855 and Utopia is only her third foal, the best of the others being Derrie Aire (seven wins and $68,730). _________________________________________________________________________________________________ AS Lauren Tritton gets ready to launch her North American driving career, her little sister Grace landed her first win at Menangle this week Grace Panella teamed with trainer Darren Binskin and veteran trotter Scenic Sky for an upset win in the second race on Monday. “Everyone at Team Tritton is super proud of Lauren’s sister Grace at her first win today in the sulky,” Team Tritton tweeted after the victory. Meanwhile, Team Tritton stretched it’s awesome US start to six wins from just eight starters when old-timer Yayas Hot Spot won easily at Yonkers on Wednesday morning (NZ time).   by Adam Hamilton

Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan will look to Menangle specialist Royal Gamble to lead the way for his team when regional harness racing trainers and drivers return to the city track on Saturday night. The meeting is the first at Menangle since regional restrictions in place since March for COVID-19 were lifted. Callaghan has Royal Gamble, Laceys Lad and Glenn Ford in heats for a $30,000 final the following week. Callaghan's son, Jack, will drive the trio. Royal Gamble has gate four in heat six and looks one of the top hopes after three runner-up efforts at Newcastle behind Roy Roots jnr-trained The Black Prince and Pitch Perfect. Royal Gamble has five victories and nine placings across 20 starts at Menangle. "He's a good chance," Callaghan said. "He's been racing terrific and he always seems to go better at Menangle than at Newcastle." Laceys Lad has gate two in heat seven. He had two wins at Newcastle in April before three luckless runs. "The only time Pitch Perfect has been beaten its last five starts was by him," Callaghan said. "He's got good gate speed and he'll be up there, but obviously Pitch Perfect is the one to beat." The trainer said he was "testing the waters" with Glenn Ford in heat eight. "I probably wouldn't be taking him down if I wasn't taking the other two, but there were no suitable races at Newcastle, so I thought I'd test the waters with him," he said. "He hasn't raced down there in a while and he's definitely improved since he did." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

HRNSW has confirmed the 2020 Breeders Challenge Finals will be conducted from Tuesday 15th September with the four Group One Finals on Saturday night 24th October at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Heats will be conducted at Gold Crown Paceway Bathurst, Riverina Paceway Wagga, Newcastle International Paceway and Tabcorp Park Menangle in line with the original schedule. Traditionally held on the last Sunday in June the Major Finals consisting of four Group One events for two and three year old pacers were disrupted by regionalisation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Breeders Challenge Blue will follow the Major Series on Saturday 7th November whilst the Regional Series will potentially commence on Tuesday 17th November. The format however for the Regional Series may convert into a regional concept similar to the highly successful TAB Championships. The Finals night of the Major Breeders Challenge Series will be complimented by the last heat of the NSW Rising Stars Championships as well as the JC Caffyn Plate for indigenous drivers.   Click here for dates For further information on this matter contact: HRNSW Industry Development Manager Shaun Snudden ssnudden@hrnsw.com.au (02) 9722 6600

NSW trainer Craig Cross is plotting a Queensland Winter Carnival raid, but the flying Cash N Flow won’t be part of it. Despite the Queensland Carnival being stripped right back because of COVID-19, Cross has picked out a batch from his in-form team to head north at different times. But who will drive them is the burning question. That’s because Queensland’s borders remain closed, meaning any people who enter the state are required to complete 14 days or quarantine. “Unless the borders open, I won’t be able to pop up and drive them,” stable driver Luke McCarthy said. “It’ll be a month before any of ours start racing there, but there’s talk it could be September before the Queensland government opens the borders. Hopefully it’s much sooner. “We’ll deal with the driver issue when we get closer to it, but we’ll send one of staff up soon to do the quarantine and be ready for when the horses start heading up in a few weeks.” Cash N Flow won his six successive Menangle mile free-for-all last Saturday night and that’s why he won’t be going anywhere. “He’s in the zone. He’s a miler, who loves the Menangle and prefers his races spaced a couple of weeks, more like a thoroughbred does,” McCarthy said. “He’ll be staying here. There’s usually a mile free-for-all for him every couple of weeks and for good money. He just keeps earning here.” Cash N Flow’s enjoyed a terrific season with 15 starts netting eight wins, four seconds and $159,550 in stakemoney. He’s now won 24 of his 58 career runs and pocketed $425,141. McCarthy quickly added Cross’s two other stable big guns, Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing and Alta Orlando, certainly wouldn’t be Queensland-bound either. “They had good breaks after the Miracle Mile and won’t be back racing until late July,” he said. “The plan is to have a few Menangle runs in August and September before heading to Melbourne is they still run the Victoria Cup in mid-October.”   by Adam Hamilton

ANTHONY Butt thinks one-time “nutcase” Wolf Stride is a Grand Circuit horse in the making. But will that be enough to win a super-strong $100,000 Group 1 NSW Metropolitan Region final (2300m) at Menangle on Saturday night? “I really like him, like him a lot. My opinion’s really soared over the past eight weeks or so when we’ve asked more of him and he’s really stepped-up,” he said. “He just did it so easily in the heat, running quick overall time, but finishing it off in 25.9sec without me asking him to do much at all. “But he’ll need to be good. This is a strong race. Craig Cross’s team is in such great form and they’ve got five through the final.” The Emilio Rosati-owned and bred Wolf Stride went through a few stables before landing with Butt and arrived with “luggage.” “They said he’d been a real handful. He’d run out he gate one night and refused to circle around at the start a few times as well,” Butt said. “Despite all that, everyone said he had plenty of ability so we took just decided to take it really slowly with him and see what was there. “He came back from about six months out and ran a terrific third at his first run for us when he sat parked at Menangle. “Then he won a couple, but did so without setting the world alight, but then when we backed him up quickly he really started to thrive and improve. “Even since his won his heat of this series (May 5), his work seems to have got better again. He works like a Grand Circuit horse.” Wolf Stride heads into Saturday night’s final on a five-race winning streak and is $2.60 favourite from gate six. “It’s a good draw without being great because he’s got some good ones inside him, but the way he’s going I’m sure he’ll run a mighty race,” Butt said. Butt also has $61 outsider Always A Stride in the final from a wide draw in gate nine. Of Cross’s five finalists, heat winners Culture King (gate eight, $3.20) and First String (three, $5.50) are the major hopes. Luke McCarthy has opted to drive Culture King with his brother, Todd, aboard the likely early leader First String. In other stable news, Butt said his buzz three-year-old trotter Elite Stride was “having two to three weeks out” before deciding how the rest of his season looked. “We’re really waiting on HRV to say when or if they’ll run the Victoria Trotters’ Derby,” Butt said. “It’s not a given we’ll go there, but it’s a key to working out whether do chase it or wait for the Breeders Crown, which sounds like it’ll be in November.” Butt and fiancé Sonya Smith expects to have “eight or 10” targeting the Breeders Crown in Victoria. Leading the way will be star three-year-old pacing pair Line Up and Perfect Stride. “They’ve both just come back in and will start to hopple-up again soon. They’re really just in limbo a bit until we get closer to the Breeders Crown,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

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