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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 (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

The inevitable reduction in NSW stake money has the faintest of silver linings for the New Zealand harness industry. Because while nobody wants to see prize money reduced anywhere, the 20 per cent crops announced in NSW this week should at least temper any rush to send quality New Zealand horses there. After maintaining stake levels as long as they could HRNSW announced their 20 per cent reduction across the board last week as part of their Covid-19 cost cutting, including cutting their $300,000 input into the Miracle Mile and its marketing. The industry there was then left wondering what Club Menangle, who conduct racing at the premier track with by far the highest stakes, would do and they answered that question on Monday. CM cut stakes by 20 per cent and reduced the stake for the Miracle Mile from A$1million to A$600,000 for next season. They will still retain a A$30,000 race at every Saturday night meeting because that triggers a higher Race Fields percentage from corporate bookmakers for the whole card, which means CM make more money having that $30,000 race than reducing it by say $10,000 to add $2000 to five other races. The NSW percentages match stake reductions in other key NZ export states like Victoria and West Australia, the latter reducing stakes for all codes by 20 per cent on April 6. The decreases are neither surprising or much fun for anybody and will effect livelihoods as well as potentially the export market and even the yearling sales if there has been no rebound by next February. So there is no real upside apart from the fact it may help New Zealand retain some of our horses whose connections could have been eying a move across the Tasman had stakes in NSW not dropped. That was never going to be a case of 100 of New Zealand’s better horses being thrown in the next plane and heading to NSW to races after our stakes levels were announced last week. But because of its proximity and easy flight access, a strong New Zealand connection to so many trainers and a regular racing, if Menangle had stayed at its traditionally high levels of stakes it would have been very tempting to send good quality New Zealand horses there. With their stakes cuts similar in percentage value to most of New Zealand, apart from Alexandra Park where the drop will be larger because stakes used to be so much higher above the minimum, that temptation is tempered. Menangle boss Bruce Christison was as disappointed as anybody in announcing the cuts to stakes and said while the Miracle Mile deserves to be A$1million his club couldn’t maintain that and then cut lower grade stakes more. “It is a tough time for us like so many other people and our investment returns, which were going so well before all this hit, were going to see us raise stakes again next season,” says Christison. “But we lost a lot of money when the market went down and of course betting turnover and therefore revenue has dropped enormously. “So we waited as long as we could, maybe too long, to make these cuts but we hope we can get back to these levels again in the near future. “But we also wanted to make sure, as much as we want a $1million Miracle Mile, that we weren’t doing that while reducing lower grade stake more.” So while NSW and Club Menangle having now joined all other states in Australia with reduced prize money, Australia will at least not look as tempting an option for our horses and while the export market will undoubtedly continue, with the percentage changes largely the same, we are unlikely to see a sharp boost in exports or transfers.   Michael Guerin

The Board of Club Menangle has carefully considered Friday's announcement by Harness Racing NSW regarding prizemoney reductions and other austerity measures to cope with diminishing revenue from the TAB caused by the impact of COVID-19. Consequently, the Board has determined that "bread and butter" metropolitan prizemoney will be reduced by an average of just under 20% and mid-week prizemoney will be reduced from $9,000 to $7,000 per race. Minimum metropolitan prizemoney reverts to $11,000 and a $30,000 race will be retained on each program. However this race will rotate between the open class, restricted class and mares' events. The retention of the $30,000 race is important as the race meeting is then classified as premium status, which attracts a much higher return through the racefields revenue. The Club did consider removing the $30,000 level however, after seeing how much the industry would lose in funding, it was agreed it must be retained. There will also be a 28% reduction in the club's share of feature-race prizemoney (Group 1 and 2 races). This is in addition to the reduced contribution from HRNSW. Club Menangle Chief Executive, Bruce Christison, said it was disappointing to see prizemoney levels being so adversely affected by the current circumstances: "The Club has worked very hard to establish record levels of prizemoney and the last thing we want to be doing is moving backwards," said Christison. "We have held off as long as possible, hoping we would see some positive signs. "However, the latest projections show wagering revenue will be down by more than 25%." The Club's investment holdings, which the Club relies upon to top-up prizemoney, have also suffered significantly as a result of COVID-19. This is particularly disappointing as the investment portfolio, up until January, had been tracking well above budgeted levels. "Given the impact on our two major revenue streams and the other areas of business, the Club had no choice but to react. The most recent analysis shows the Club's revenue will be down by as much as 40%, these prizemoney reductions equate to an overall reduction of 20%." All areas of society have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Club Menangle is no different. After a highly successful opening of the newly-constructed Menangle Country Club, just six weeks later the venue was forced to close its doors due to the government restrictions on licensed venues. With the closure of the hospitality operations at the racetrack and the Menangle Country Club, more than 120 staff have been stood down, with others on reduced hours. The introduction of the JobKeeper payment has allowed for the reintroduction of some staff, however many of the casual staff did not qualify for the scheme. "While there have been plenty of challenges, we must also be thankful that we have continued to race through the crisis and that we were fortunate enough to complete our Carnival of Miracles before the restrictions were implemented," said Christison. "These changes will begin from the race meeting on Tuesday, May 12 and at this stage will be in place for the next financial year. "The Club is hoping this will allow time for life to return to normal and, along with it, the revenue we rely upon. "Participants can be assured that the Club will be looking to get prizemoney heading in the right direction as soon as revenue levels can be sustained."   Club Menangle

COMEBACK star Poster Boy has Melton’s fast-class races at his mercy, at least until his stablemate Ride High steps out for his own comeback in the next few weeks. With Australia’s most exciting pacer Lochinvar Art in the spelling paddock, Poster Boy is by far the best horse left racing in Victoria right now. The 2019 Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter made it two sparkling wins from as many runs on the comeback trail at Melton last night. In contrast to his swooping first-up win, this time Poster Boy worked to the front, controlled the tempo and won as he liked. The son of Somebeachsomewhere ran home in 54.8 and 27sec flat without being asked for much at all by driver Greg Sugars. It was Poster Boy’s 21st win from just 29 starts and edged him very close to $800,000 in earnings. Ride High, who boasts 10 wins from 11 starts, is very close to a racetrack return after being sidelined since last December and having a throat operation. The other class winner at Melton last was Kylie Sugars’ four-year-old trotter Sammy Showdown, who toyed with his rivals. Sugars changed her tactics from the previous week when Sammy Showdown weakened late. This time she settled him early then went to the breeze and scored well in a 1min59.7sec mile rate for 2240m. He’s won six of nine this season and is one of the most exciting trotters in Victoria. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER superstar Hectorjayjay didn’t win his comeback race at Albion Park last night, but connections considered it a win. In a tactical affair, the nine-year-old sat last with main danger, Glenferrie Hood, dictating terms in front. Brendan Barnes had no option but to launch three-wide with Hectorjayjay at the 550m when those in front of him started to wilt, but the task was just beyond him. Hectorjayjay ran last half in 55.1sec off the track and finished third, just 1.5m from leader and winner Glenferrie Hood with Clintal Do splitting them. “We were thrilled with the run. We knew it was always going to be tricky given the main danger would be in front and we’d be last,” trainer Jack Butler said. “A win would’ve been great, but it’s a win for us to get him back to the track, and hopefully, through that run well.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________ THIS has certainly been a breakthrough season for talented young WA driver Dylan Egerton-Green. Winning the Group 1 WA Cup was big enough, but he’s since added the WA Derby and now last Friday night’s WA Oaks. He’s won four Group 1’s for the season. The history books show Egerton-Green is the first driver to win the WA Cup/Derby and Oaks in the same season. And he completed a treble by causing an upset on Terry Ferguson’s Sportswriter filly Sports Package, who camped on $1.30 favourite Double Expresso and ran her down in the Oaks. Double Expresso did some work to find the front, but looked to have her chance. The win was extra special to 70-year-old Ferguson, who bred Sports Package. He raced her mother, Ultimate Package and her grand-dam, Saabrina. “There’s no doubt to me it’s extra special to breed them, watch them develop and then go on to win big races like this,” Ferguson said. Interestingly, Ferguson sent his best horses to Ross Olivieri to train for a long time and Olivieri trains Double Expresso. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ BACKING-UP a third week in a row on the comeback trail might have been a tad too much for Chicago Bull. After a fantastic comeback win and then fighting third second-up, Gary Hall Sr’s star suffered a shock defeat in moderate company at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was never going to be easy from the outside draw and having to sit parked, but Chicago Bull hit the lead rounding the bend and was swamped by Ross Olivieri’s handy pacer Iceenothink. It’s hard to get your head around Iceenothink beating Chicago Bull. That said, the times were solid, a 1min55.7sec mile rate for 2130m and the last three quarters in 28.6, 28.4 and 27.8sec. Hall Sr and Gary Hall Jr snared the last race when recent Kiwi three-year-old import Raksjameson made it two-from-two in WA by leading throughout to beat stablemate Copy N Pace. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ TIM Butt showed why he is one of the great trainers of trotters when primed gifted but enigmatic mare Sassy Pants to win the Group 2 La Coocaracha Trotters’ Cup for mares’ at Menangle last night. Butt’s always had a good opinion of the mare, but she was first-up and hadn’t flattered in the last four runs of her previous campaign. Sassy Pants had just the one trial, a second at Menangle, in preparation for the return. Anthony Butt pushed her out to lead from gate five, steadied through a 30.7sec second split over the mile then ran home in 57sec and 28sec to win strongly. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ CASH N FLOW continued his dominance of the Menangle free-for-alls with a four successive win last night. He had to work harder than expected to find the front – they went a blazing 53.6sec first half - but still left them standing at the top of the straight and won easily. He just missed a fourth successive sub-1min50sec mile when he ran smack-on 1min50sec. His previous three wins had been in 1min49.8sec, 1min49.6sec and 1min49.7sec. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA Derby runner-up Governor Jujon warmed-up for his home state Queensland Winter Carnival with a sparkling first-up Albion Park win last Friday. Fresh from running second to Hectorjayjay in an Albion Park trial, Governor Jujon made light work of a back row draw (gate 10) over 1660m to win by 7.3m in a brisk 1min53.9sec mile rate. Grant Dixon’s colt boasts 10 wins and three seconds from his 15 starts.   Adam Hamilton

The Aldebaran Park bred and reared Aldebaran Ursula is Australia’s top two-year-old trotting filly to date this harness racing season. The Yield Boko filly led most of the way to capture the NSW Trotters Foundation heat at Tabcorp Park Menangle in 2:00.5 at only her second appearance. To watch the replay of Aldebaran Ursula click here With Aldebaran Zeus firmly cementing his position as the leading juvenile trotting colt, Aldebaran Park can claim the distinction of breeding both the top male and female trotters in their division in the same year. Another pair of Aldebaran Park bred young trotters, Aldebaran Dianna and Aldebaran Sundown, were very impressive trial winners at Melton and Maryborough respectively and both should be entering the winning lists in the near future. The Aldebaran Park sired Scenic Sky (by Skyvalley) and Hotjane Bling (by Eilean Donon) both joined the exclusive ‘$100,000 Club’ recently, Scenic Sky winning at Menangle and Hotjane Bling placing at the same track. Skyvalley has been represented by 12 individual $100,000 winners so far. Other stud sired winners recently have been Classy Spirit (by Eilean Donon), Forever Kronos (by Yield Boko) and the Aldebaran Yankee sired Farbio and Tip Top Grandpa. Yield Boko boasts the amazing score of siring seven winners and a placegetter from 10 starters from 22 foals of racing age! Chezmac, an Aldebaran Park bred pacer, notched her seventh success at Menangle in April in a career-best 1:55.7. Regal Pepperell, the winner of the 2019 Maori’s Idol Trophy and a string of country cups, has joined the impressive broodmare band at Aldebaran Park. During her career Regal Pepperell won 11 races with 10 placings, earned $102,188 and took a mile mark of 1:58.9. A particularly well bred mare, she is closely related to the dual Vicbred champion and 2YO Trotter of the Year Our First Jewel and the Dullard Cup and Interdom heat winner Viva La Fever. Peter Wharton

Tasmanian owned and bred pacer Zhukov Leis will be out to register his first Menangle win when he lines up in the Takeaways at Menangle Country Club Pace, for horses with a national rating of no higher than 75 at Menangle tonight. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere won seven of his 29 starts in the Apple Isle when in the care of Longford trainer Todd Rattray but in 12 New South Wales starts in the care of James Rattray the pacer has been among the placegetters on seven occasions. The pacer is reminding his trainer of his half-brother Rykov Leis who struggled to find the winners circle when arriving in New South Wales despite racking up a number of placings. “It’s exactly the same story as Rykov Leis when he first came up, he never won in his first 30-starts but he always placed and paid his way, when he finally broke through then he went on his way,” said trainer James Rattray. The six-year-old gelding has been placed in three of his last five outings including his most recent effort on 4 April where he led before being run down by 1.3 metres in 1m 52.8s. “He is not going bad, he has just found one a bit better or things haven’t worked out for him,” explained Rattray. Zhukov Leis gets into tonight’s race with the five-point concession claim for Hannah Rixon, with Rattray electing to accept for tonight’s event over another race at the same venue tomorrow night. “He is in with a good chance I think, he has drawn a bit wide, I put him in tonight instead of Saturday night as he is better suited over the mile,” said Rattray. “He has good gate speed to put him into the race, whether he can lead or not I’m not sure, but if he can get a handy spot early, he shouldn’t be too far away,” added the trainer. Zhukov Leis is owned and bred by Trevor and Marjorie Leis from Smithton on Tasmania’s north-west coast. In other news from the Rattray stable, talented Tassie pacer Harjeet is getting closer to a race-track return. “He has started pace working again, I had a little bit of trouble with his feet but he seems good now, he is at least six weeks away from the race-track,” said Rattray. As for Ignatius, it will be a while before we see him again. “He is in the paddock now the Group 1 Wagga series got called off, we were getting him ready for that, so he will have a few weeks off before we get him ready for the major races over the summer,” explained his trainer. Rattray has plenty of options going forward with the Inter Dominion to be held in New South Wales in November. The Group 1 five-year-old Wagga Breeders Challenge series was called off due to the regional racing program in that state which Rattray believes has worked well to ensure racing has continued in NSW.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

JUST a week after winning the Miracle Mile, Luke McCarthy and Craig Cross were back dominating again at Menangle. They blitzed the middle of the card, winning five successive races with: Sociable, Better Enforce, Cash N Flow, Flingandwingit and Molly Kelly. McCarthy then made it a staggering six wins on the nine race card when he teamed with trainer Peter Russo to win the last race with No Apachemee. The major win of the night for McCarthy and Cross came with Cash N Flow in the appropriately-named Group 3 King Of Swing free-for-all. The former All Stars’ pacer enjoyed a drop back in grade from the Miracle Mile qualifiers and thrashed a handy field, running the mile in 1min49.8sec and powering away after finding the lead after 400m to win by 12m. “It looked a good race for him, even though he had the wide draw,” McCarthy said. “He’s just that bit below our best open-class horses, but when he’s in the right sort of race, he’s just too good for them.” Despite a 26.3sec opening quarter and slick 54.6sec first half, Cash N Flow still packed a 26.8sec closing quarter to win as he liked. Former classy Kiwi mare Sociable, having just her second run for the stable, looked good leading throughout to win in a 1min52.3sec mile. While Ladyship Mile runner-up Better Enforce did it easily to win the fourth race by 5.6m in a 1min51.2sec mile. Promising trotter Flingandwingit enjoyed a gun run before easily winning the Group 3 4YO Trotters Foundation final in a 1min59.9sec mile rate for 2300m. Former top juvenile filly Molly Kelly made it three wins from as many runs for Cross and McCarthy when she led throughout to win the seventh race in a 1min52.9sec mile. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ LOCAL pin-up pacer Ryley Major won Tasmania’s biggest race, the $75,000 Group 2 Tasmania Cup in Hobart last night. There’s no doubting he was the best horse in the race, but a 30m backmark in the 2579m feature saw him start an easing $3 favourite. Victorian raider Im Sir Blake beat Ryley Major in the qualifying heat two week’s earlier and was heavily-backed to do it again, but he ruined his hopes by galloping out of contention at the start. Ryley Major began well, settled just worse than midfield and Hillier launched with a big run around the field to eventually find the lead in the middle stages. He never really looked in danger and won from another Victorian, Its Back In The Day, who sat behind Ryley Major, and veteran Star Chamber, who won the Tasmania Cup way back in 2014, finishing well for third. Ryley Major’s won 28 of his 39 starts and will now surely get his chance in some better races on the mainland. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ CLASSY NSW stayer Atomic Red is just one of the many Aussies to make a lie of his poor Auckland Inter Dominion form since returning home. The six-year-old only knows one way and he was at his trademark best in front, bowling along for driver Amanda Turnbull and simply running his rivals ragged in the Group 3 Young Cup on Friday night. Atomic Red ran the 2480m trip in a 1min57.2sec mile rate and beat stablemate Conviction by 13.7m with favourite Our Uncle Sam tiring for third after doing the work outside the leader. Jimmy Rattray trained and drove Jimartee to an all-the-way Young Derby win, while the Oaks went to Chris Frisby’s exciting filly Jenden Strike. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE and Lauren Tritton “farewelled” Menangle when old-stager Maximan ran second in the final race at Menangle last night. The Trittons now head to North America to continue their careers. “We’ll be based with my Dad (Peter Tritton) and race horses at Yonkers and the Meadowlands,” Shane Tritton said. “We hope to have our first runners in late April or early May. “You certainly leave here with mixed emotions, but it’s time for us to try something different.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ IT is a shame a minor setback derailed a Sydney raid for WA’s most exciting pacer Shockwave. Luckless through the big WA and Fremantle Cups in January, Ryan Bell’s four-year-old returned to racing with a soft win in the $50,000 Group 2 4&5YO Championship (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night. There’s no doubt he would have been competitive in a Chariots Of Fire and/or Miracle Mile. Driver Aiden De Campo used gate one to lead and dictated terms in front before ripping home in 55.5 and 27.3sec. “His point to point speed is outstanding. He can sustain for a long way,” De Campo said. Bell is keen to tackle some big races, including the Sydney Inter Dominion later this year and De Campo wants to be part of it. “I’ll go anywhere to drive him, he’s so exciting,” he said. Another WA horse worthy of Inter Dominion consideration is Greg and Skye Bond’s Vampiro. The speedy gelding exploded from the outside draw to lead the 2536m free-for-all and never looked in danger. The Bonds contemplated a crack at the Miracle Mile qualifiers with Vampiro, but opted to keep him at home with a view to an easter states raid later this year. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE early signs say the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn is set for another big juvenile season. Although their babies have been a little later to hit the track this season, the impact has been immediate. Nicely-bred filly Treachery (Captaintreacherous-Lovelist) has looked fantastic winning both her runs in a heat and final of The Allwood series at Globe Derby. After winning her heat by 24.8 metres, Kima Frenning parrnered Treachery to a staggering 37.2m win in the final at Globe Derby last night. Making the win so good was the fact Treachery copped an early check, galloped, lost about 15-20m and recovered to whiz around and take the lead before powering clear over the last 400m.   Adam Hamilton

IT was a rare Miracle Mile night without much All Stars “flavour”, but they still found a way to snare a win. The emerging Im Anothermasterpiece, who had no luck in a Miracle Mile qualifier the week before, did a power of work and was simply too strong and classy in a free-for-all. And the time was brilliant, a 1min53.3sec mile rate for the long 2400m trip. “It was a really good effort because I had to make my run a long way from home and the leader was going quick, but his owners are over here and it’s great to win for them on a night like this,” co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon said. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ BARRY Purdon won the feature mares’ race on Miracle Mile night, but just not with the mare most expected. Havtime, regarded as a stable second-stringer to glamour mare Belle Of Montana, produced a career-best 1min50sec flat mile to upstage a crack field. It was a confident front-running drive from Robbie Morris, copping pressure through a 54.2sec first half, but pinching a break on his key rivals around the home bend. Our Princess Tiffany, who did some early and mid-race work, ran on strongly along with Belle Of Montana, but they never looked like catching the leader. Havtime won by 4.4.m over Our Princess Tiffany with Belle Of Montana another metre away in third spor. “I wanted to hold the front provided they didn’t go crazy. She’s been going so well and it’s great to get this win for Barry,” Morris said. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S amazing to think Our Uncle Sam cost just $3000 at the Bathurst yearling sales. The Frisby family’s pride and joy surged passed $600,000 in career earnings when he successfully defended the Group 1 free-for-all title he won last year at Menangle on Saturday night. It was a fitting reward after an NZ campaign last year which was littered with bad luck, poor draws and a dislike for the reverse way of going in Auckland. Driver and co-trainer Anthony Frisby won the race when he attacked successfully for the lead from Galactic Star mid-race then dictated terms with splits of 29.2 (1200-800m) and 29.1 (800-400m). Our Uncle Sam ripped home in 26.1sec and fought-off a challenge from The Black Prince by 1.4m with Kiwi pacer Mach Shard making late ground from three pegs for third. “We never have much luck with draws, but we did this time and made the most of it,” Frisby said. “We were a bit lucky because we got things our own way once we got to the front, but he still sprinted home really well.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________ BIG Jack Hammer joined Our Uncle Sam as a back-to-back winner with his victory in the Group 1 Aquagait Trotters’ Mile at Menangle. It was a fantastic trainer performance from David Aiken to rebuild Big Jack Hammer’s confidence and target the race after an Auckland Inter Dominion campaign where he was never comfortable the other direction of racing. And Josh Aiken, David’s son, kept it in the family with a superb drive, summing it up well early by dropping in behind the leader, Tough Monarch, “Gee I was confident in the run. It was the perfect trip for him and he felt so good,” Josh said. “It’s extra special to win this one tonight because it’s Dad’s birthday too.” Big Jack Hammer headed a Victorian trifecta, holding-off the late swooping Red Hot Tooth to win by half a neck with the emerging Sammy Showdown getting in third spot in a 1min54.7sec mile. The two Kiwi runners, Temporale and Massive Metro, were below their best in eighth and sixth spots respectively. Hot favourite Dance Craze, lethal with a sit, had to sit parked and never look comfortable before tiring late for ninth. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ BRIAN Portelli had a Miracle Mile night to remember. His Bettors Delight gelding Tasty Delight won the Group 2 Sapling Stakes in upset style. “That’s my first Group win as a trainer or driver,” Portelli beamed. Tasty Delight had the last sit on stablemates and favourites Lochinvar Chief and Patsbeachstorm and finished over the top of them in a 1min52.4sec mile. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ THE powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn is starting to unleash their latest juvenile crop. The pair snared the quinella in the Sapling Stakes at Melton on Saturday night with Ideal Dan, raced and bred by Danny Zavitsanos, beating stablemate Idyllic in a 1min55.1sec mile rate for 1720m. Mick Stanley’s highly-rated Drain The Swamp was a good third after doing the work outside the leader. Over in Adelaide, he Stewart-trained Treachery thrashed her rivals by a thumping 24.8m winning a heat of the Allwood series with Kima Frenning in the sulky. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE is something exciting about watching breakaway leaders, whether it’s in the gallops or harness. And that’s what Perth has now with Talktomeurmattjesty. The headstrong former Kiwi gelding ran his rivals ragged again, in stunning at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Driver Kyle Harper let him stride in front, opening up a huge lead on the bulk of the field with only his main danger, Chiaroscuro sticking on his back. Talktomeurmattjesty broke their hearts with splits over the last mile of the 2130m of 27.6, 28.2, 28.7 and 29.9sec. Chairoscuro couldn’t stay in touch from the 400m, dropping away to finish 24.5m away in second spot. The 1min52.9sec mile rate equalled Beaudiene Boaz’s track record. On the same card, exciting three-year-olds Double Expresso and Major Martini won their respective $50,000 Sales Series’ finals. Double Expresso, who may tackle the boys in the WA Derby on April, cruised to an all-the-way win in a 1 min56.1sec mile rate for 2130m. Major Martini was stunning, sitting parked and roaring away to win by 15.3m in a 1min56.6sec mile rate, capped by closing splits of 27 flat and 27.7sec. Another WA Derby hopeful, Franco Ecuador, made it three wins from just four starts in the last race on the card.   By Adam Hamilton

YOU could hardly call it a hoodoo . . .not when you are renowned as one of the champions of your sport. Yet star reinsman Luke McCarthy certainly got a monkey off his back with a magnificent victory in tonight's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. West Australian pacer King Of Swing defied all the efforts of star four-year-old Lochinvar Art to run him down as he scored a stirring two-and-a-half metre win over the Chariots Of Fire winner with the winner's stablemate Alta Orlando a head back in third place. The winner ran a stunning 1:48.0 mile to join an elite list of pacers to have won the Hunter Cup and the Miracle Mile in the same season. King Of Swing also joined champions such as Mount Eden, Royal Force, Pure Steel, Preux Chevalier, Village Kid and Norms Daughter who have made the long journey from Western Australia to win Australasia's greatest sprint race. McCarthy was always excited to be driving a horse he described as a "machine" . . . and a versatile one at that. The race threw up the first surprise when Majordan tore across from the outside draw to take up the running. No sooner had he settled there when McCarthy took on his brother with King Of Swing and found the front in a slick 28.8s first quarter of the mile. He didn't get much peace in front though as Lochinvar Art (David Moran) kept at him for most of the race. "We always knew he had ability when he won a Derby in WA," explained part-owner Glen Moore. "Trainer Gary Hall senior recommended we send him over to Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy and we had confidence in their ability to run him around as we felt it could be an attitude problem. "We thought the cross and McCarthy team could rejuvenate him and they have certainly done the job. "We're pinching ourselves as to what this horse has done in winning three groups one races in recent weeks and the things this horse has not only done but may go on to do." McCarthy looked slightly stunned by his win: "Thanks for trusting me with the drive and Gary Hall senior for sending us the horse. He knew how good this horse was and he wasn't putting his best foot forward [in WA]," he said. "To give us a crack with him and to win the Hunter Cup and now the Miracle Mile, well it's a dream come true. "I've been trying for a long time to win this race so it is a special thrill to win it - at last."   Club Menangle

LEADING Kiwi trainer-driver Anthony Butt put himself right in the spotlight when he agreed to prepare a massive team of horses for Australia's biggest owners Emilio and Mary Rosati. Anthony had moved from New Zealand and settled into the Victorian harness racing scene before following his elder brother Tim to Sydney to drive a lot of his horses. But when trainer Noel Daley decided to return to the US, Rosati asked Anthony Butt to take over his big team and Butt has tackled the task with relish and capped it off by preparing the quinella for the Rosatis in tonight's $200,000 APG NSW Derby at Menangle. Anthony steered the Victoria Derby winner Line Up, who worked hard to find the front then defied anything to run him down before scoring a powerful four-metre win over stablemate Perfect Stride (Cameron Hart), with outsider Zeuss Bromac (Gavin Fitzptrick) a head back in third place in a 1:52.8 mile rate. Pacifico Dream and Mach Dan were just behind the placegetters. Rosati was naturally ecstatic with the effort of his team. "We finished first and third in the Victoria Derby in Melbourne and they said to me 'you've got to be happy with that'." said Rosati. "I said 'no, I'd prefer to run first and second'. "Well, tonight we've done that - and yes, it's as good as it gets." Rosati paid special tribute to his wife Mary: "She always says buy, buy, buy, so I have to thank her for that - because I do just that," joked Rosati. "And as for Anthony (Butt) he is doing a phenomenal job - even though we have a long way to go." Butt was just as delighted as he headed off to prepare My Field Marshal with brother Tim for the Miracle Mile. "This is a world-class facility here at Menangle and we are fortunate to be training here," said Butt. "It's a privilege to be training so many quality horses and I'm rapt to be getting the results. "My partner Sonya is an important part of this partnership and I have to thank her, as well as the rest of the staff - this is certainly no one-man band, that's for sure. "And we'll all be celebrating well tonight."   Club Menangle

Two of harness racing’s greatest rivals will join forces for the first time to try and win Saturday’s $1million Miracle Mile.  In a surprise move that turns back the clock Kiwi driver Mark Purdon will drive Alta Orlando in the great race at Menangle, even though he is trained by one of his fiercest rivals in Cross.  Cross and quasi training partner Luke McCarthy are riding the crest of a wave, having won the Hunter Cup last month and both Miracle Mile preludes last Saturday.  They are undoubtedly the strongest open class stable in Australia whereas Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen have the strongest stable in Australasia, filled with open class stars.  But after a horror run with injuries, including having two Miracle Mile contenders ruled out of the carnival last Thursday, Purdon who won the race last year driving Spankem thought he would be watching it from the stables this season.  Until he got the call up to drive the heavily-backed Alta Orlando through an unusual set of circumstances.  Todd McCarthy drove Alta Orlando to beat My Field Marshal in their $100,000 Prelude last Saturday but is committed to Newcastle Mile winner Majordan, trained by Kevin Pizzuto who he does so much driving for.  Luke McCarthy chose to drive Alta Orlando’s stablemate King Of Swing because he has the better draw and John Dunn, who used to drive Alta Orlando in NZ, was offered the drive.  But he has opted to stick with Bettor’s Heart, trained by his uncle Peter Bagrie so the Alta Orlando drive was up for grabs again.  Remarkably Purdon was the first trainer of Alta Orlando and as a three-year-old he finished third in the prestigious NZ Sires Stakes Final to stablemate Have Faith In Me way back in 2014, who went on to win a Miracle Mile.  Alta Orlando broke down soon after and it was thought he was finished as a racing proposition until he resumed his career two years later trained by Dunn’s father Robert.  He then ended up with Cross and has risen to new heights at Menangle where the relentless racing style suits him. Ironically the last time Purdon drove Alta Orlando was nearly six years ago when he finished last in a minor race, won by a horse driven by John Dunn. “We are thrilled to have Mark on, everybody knows what a good driver he is,” said McCarthy.  “He has driven the winner of every big race you can think of and while I think King Of Swing is Craig’s best chance of winning on Saturday night if Alta Orlando is sitting in the one-one or handy he can beat us.” Michael Guerin

He ran his rivals ragged in winning tonight's $100,000 Allied Express Sprint at Menangle. Now the Craig Cross-trained King Of Swing is ready to assume favouritism for next week's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. To be driven by champion reinsman Luke McCarthy, King Of Swing drew the ideal gate four and may come into three when second emergency Sicario is withdrawn before the big race. King Of Swing has shown stunning gate speed at his recent starts and the former West Australian has thrived since linking with the Cross stable and looks likely to chase an all-the-way win. Former winner My Field Marshall and his trainer Tim Butt will also be feeling on top of the world after the 2018 winner draw gate two, giving his reinsman Anthony Butt plenty of options and likely to take a trail after he attempted to lead all the way and was edged out by Craig Cross's other hope, Alta Orlando in the Schweppes Sprint. The final field, in barrier order is: 1. A Gs WHITE SOX  2. MY FIELD MARSHAL  3. SICARIO (2ND em)  4. KING OF SWING  5. CODE BAILEY 6. BETTORS HEART 7. THE BLACK PRINCE (1ST em) 8. ALTA ORLANDO 9. LOCHINVAR ART 10. MAJORDAN Earlier slick times were the order of the night and earlier the Allied Express and Schweppes Sprints did not disappoint with fantastic wins by two of Craig Cross' Miracle Mile hopes in King Of Swing and Alta Orlando. The McCarthy brothers, Luke and Todd, did their jobs as they surged into serious Miracle Mile calculation with impressive wins. King Of Swing was taken straight to the front by Luke and ran his rivals off their legs, rating a slashing 1:49.6 in beating Code Bailey and A Gs White Sox by two metre in the $100,000 Allied Express Sprint. The first two home joined Newcastle Mile winner Majordan and Chariots Of Fire star Lochinvar Art in securing invitations to the "Big Dance", the $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile next Saturday night. The Black Prince also caught the eye, making up many lengths in the straight to finish fourth after settling back near last. That was enough to earn him a reserve spot for the big race. The $100,000 Schweppes Sprint was run a bit differently, with former MM winner My Field Marshal taking advantage of his ideal draw in one to hold the lead for Anthony Butt, despite an early challenge from Alta Orlando from gate five. The race worked out perfectly for Todd McCarthy and Alta Orlando as he was able to duck in behind My Field Marshal and secure a great run into the race. Turning for home Our Uncle Sam, who raced without cover, was tending to drop out of contention, giving Alta Orlando the perfect opportunity to jump off the pegs and score an easy 4.2m win over My Field Marshal with the surprise of the race, Sicario, looming into third, one and a half metres further back, just ahead of the perennially unlucky Hail Christian. The winner rated an even 1:50, although runner-up Anthony Butt would have been quite content in the knowledge he had qualified for another crack at a Miracle Mile with the fastest horse ever to win the race, the 2018 winner My Field Marshal. The $200,000 Boden Projects Ladyship Mile was another highlight of the big night when Kiwi mare Bettors Heart (John Dunn) dived on the line to score the narrowest of wins over Bettor Enforce, robbing Luke McCarthy of his second Group One of the night. Our Princess Tiffany came from well back to grab third, just in front of Belle Of Montana. A scintillating mile rate of 1:49.7 hurtled Bettors Heart into contention for the Miracle Mile and gave Kiwi reinsman John Dunn, the brother of another champion reinsman, Dexter Dunn, his biggest win outside of New Zealand. Trainer Peter Bagrie has been stabled with Shane and Lauren Tritton for the past week and gave the champion pair much of the credit for their mighty win. "Shane has been a terrific help to me this week in getting this mare ready to run the race of her life. We weren't certain she had got there but she has done a great job for us both in New Zealand and here and she didn't let us down," said Bagrie.   Club Menangle

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