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TWO things firmly stamped Tiger Tara as the horse to beat in next Saturday night’s $250,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park.  First was his ultra-impressive winning return at Menangle last night (Saturday).  And second was the upset win of veteran Ohoka Punter in last night’s (Saturday) Group 1 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park.  No disrespect to Ohoka Punter, but the fact he beat boom stablemate Colt Thirty One and others will surely have put a spring in the step of Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto.  Colt Thirty One was crunched into $1.45 favourite, but had to blaze a 26sec opening quarter to hold the front from Alta Orlando and was always some query after that for a horse who hasn’t be used off the gate much.  Trainer-driver Grant Dixon slowed a dawdling 32sec second split, but it was evident at the top of the straight Colt Thirty One had a battle on his hands and the four-year-old was unable to hold-out his rising 10-year-old stablemate along the sprint lane.  It was a Dixon and owner Kevin Seymour quinella, but not in the order punters wanted.  Ohoka Punter snatched a 1.3m win with young driver Paul Diebert aboard in a cosy 1min53.2sec mile rate, well outside Im Themightyquinn’s 1min50.4sec race and track record.  It was by the far the biggest win for Diebert, who moved from NSW to work for Dixon just before last Christmas.  “It’s unbelievable. Kevin (Seymour) was at me all week saying this old horse would run a great race,” Diebert said.  The much-travelled Ohoka Punter will be chasing his second Blacks A Fake win next week, having won it when trained and driven by Nathan Purdon.  But Tiger Tara looms ominously after pacing a 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m first-up at Menangle.  “He ran home in 54.8 and 27.1 and Todd (McCarthy, driver) was stoked,” Pizzuto said. “He did it so well and now it’s off to Queensland.  “I’m not sure exactly when I’ll take him up, but his last workout will be here so it’ll be later in the week.”  It was Tiger Tara’s first run since finishing fifth in the Miracle Mile more than four months ago.   Adam Hamilton

CONNECTIONS of Australian Pacing Gold purchase Black Silhouette are thrilled she decided to break her Group One pattern at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. Racing against the best of her crop since her debut season, Black Silhouette had contested three top shelf events leading up to the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge Final. On each of those occasions the Sam Dimarco-trained pacer finished seventh! Black Silhouette was also seventh in last term’s Group Two Bathurst Gold Bracelet. Thanks to performance in the $100,000 decider, the daughter of Shadow Play has “finally” become a ‘black type’ mare. “She finally broke through for us,” Dimarco said. “She has been very consistent all her career and made her way into a few Finals but hasn’t had much luck once there. “This time she got a good trip off the speed and stuck her head out at the right time. “She was only grabbed on the line in her semi and now this time she’s grabbed the win on the line.” Driven masterfully by Todd McCarthy, Black Silhouette was pushed forward to find the lead from barrier eight before being eased to take a trail behind the favourite, Goodtime Heaven. Gaining an opening halfway along the home straight, the four-year-old reclaimed the front in the last stride to score by a half-neck from Goodtime Heaven. Rocknroll Pearl completed an APG trifecta when four metres away third in 1:51. “She had been very bright within herself since her last run two weeks ago and I knew she was ready to run a good race,” Dimarco said. “I expected her to be in the finish with the right run and that’s just what she got. “This morning she is running around with tail in the air, has been eating, and seems pretty good within herself. “I will see how she is over the next few days before making a decision, but if she comes through the run well enough I will keep her going and give her a few runs at Menangle before she has a break.” Cranky around the stable can bite you and has an attitude – upsets everyone around the stable – when race as good as her you don’t care Ricki bought her and was getting her going and we liked her so bought him from her as Marissa likes the Shadow Plays   APG Media

It takes a special horse to win a Breeders Challenge final. And it takes a harness racing superstar to win three in successive years. Not that anyone would argue that former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius is anything but a superstar after the son of Roll With Joe won the NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO colts and geldings final at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Ignatius has now won well over $400,000 in prizemoney since the Rattray stable moved the horse to be stabled with James Rattray in the NSW Southern Highlands. And the lion's share of that has been won through the prestigious Breeders Challenge series. Amazingly, Ignatius will now be eligible to make an even-more historic move by chasing a five-year-olds Breeders Challenge feature, also worth $100,000 and due to be run in the Riverina next season. "It's been a tough week, so this is a nice way to end it," said Ignatius trainer-driver James Rattray after the four-year-old 'out-toughed' his rivals to wear down Bright Energy, with Sicario third in a slick 1:51.6. "The semi-final was a tough run for him (Ignatius finished third to Summit Special and Bright Energy which was enough to make the final). "But he came through it OK and it's on to Qld now - and we're looking forward to that." The race looked to be between the 'big three' a long way from home after Bright Energy led, Sicario raced up to take the death chair, before handing up that position to Ignatius. It then became a war of attrition as Ignatius and Bright Energy cut at each other for most of the race and turning for home the might 'Iggy' stuck his big head out and refused to buckle, scoring by a head with six and a quarter metres to Sicario, who just couldn't get into the finish.     Ignatius Meanwhile the $100,000 four-year-old mares Breeders Challenge final was taken out by the Sam Dimarco-trained Black Silhouette after another masterly drive by Len Smith Mile winner Todd McCarthy. Fired up out of the gate, Black Silhouette found the front before McCarthy elected to take a trail on Goodtime Heaven (Glen Craven). Turning for home Todd got busy and extricated Black Silhouette from behind the leader to wear down Goodtime Heaven in the straight to score by a half neck in a fast 1:51 mile. Rocknroll Pearl was third a further three and three-quarter metres back. Owned by former HRNSW director Marissa Dimarco, Black Silhouette took her earnings past the $150,000 mark in scoring her 12th win from just 46 starts.     Black Silhouette Sean Vella

Harness racing ace reinsman Brad Hewitt scored one of the biggest wins of his career when outsider Rockin Marty stunned the favourites with success in this afternoon's $150,000 Breeders Challenge for 3YO colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of American sire Pet Rock rated a slashing 1:50.8 to hold off the desperately unlucky Lochinvar Art (David Moran) by a head with Hardhitter (Luke McCarthy) three-metres back in third place. While Lochinvar Art may have been the hard-luck story of the race, it was a welcome change of fortunes for Rockin Marty, who has been running strong races without being able to break through during the heats and semis of this elite series. It was an emotional moment for Hewitt as he accepted the trophy: "Mum and Dad have been in this industry their whole lives and to qualify two horses for this final and then to go out and win it was truly something special," he said. "This is just unbelievable. "To win a race like this is a dream come true."   Rockin Marty The earlier fillies' final was also an exciting finale to that division of the Breeders Challenge. Indeed if you mention Breeders Challenge, the name Luke McCarthy usually rates a mention. The former Bathurst reinsman has an amazing record in these feature races, and he was at it again today when he scored his second Group 1 win of the afternoon, scoring with No Win No Feed in the $150,000 3YO fillies Breeders Challenge final. No Win No Feed, a Group I winner at Bathurst earlier this season, put the writing on the wall that she was returning to her best form with a slick third to Keayang Liberty at Menangle last week in the semi-finals. And No Win No Feed's trainer Craig Cross was quietly confident he had the filly back to her best for the $150,000 final at Menangle today. Taken back out of the mobile, McCarthy gave the A Rock N Roll Dance filly plenty of time to find her feet and then gained a saloon passage into the action with a three-wide trail up before working to the death seat outside of leader and race favourite Keayang Liberty. With a slick third split of 27.2s, No Win No Feed put paid to the favourite turning for home before holding off a late-charge from Road To Mecca with the plucky little filly Myra Dawn a strong third.   No Win No Feed "You never get tired of winning Breeders Challenge races," grinned Luke's wife Belinda McCarthy as Luke rushed to drive in the next feature while trainer Craig Cross was busy in the car park changing a flat tyre on their float.   Sean Vella    

Seldom does a sixth placing mean so much. Yet a well-beaten sixth at Menangle today was just enough points to secure the 2019 Harness Racing New South Wales Rising Stars Series for Menangle-based reinsman Josh Gallagher. Gallagher's sixth with Muscle Mach was just enough to hold off Maitland reinsman Jake Hughes and take the series. The race was taken out by Thatswhatisaid (Jack Callaghan), beating Santannas Rocket and Rocking in a race marred by a three-horse fall that ended any hopes three drivers, Sean Grayling, McKayler Barnes and Jordan Seary had of ending the series on a winning note. Gallagher knows Tabcorp Park Menangle better than anyone as he works fulltime for the KerryAnn and Robert Morris stable, just outside the front gates of the track, so seldom does a day go by when he's not spotted working a horse there. "Winning this series was really something special," said Gallagher. "I've watched the drivers in other series and something like this can really help your career. "I drove a handy horse today in Argyle Beach, who went 1:52 and raced really well to win the first of today's two heats. "Hopefully I'll get a few more offers of some good drives out of this. "Long-term I'd like to train a couple myself but I have met a lot of good people this week and gone to some areas I've never visited before. "I landed three winners this week so that can only help my career in the long-term. "But it has been a week I'll always remember and I have made a lot of new friends of out of it as well." Going into the final two races today, the series was well and truly up for grabs and after Gallagher scored in the opening race, it came down to a race in two between he and Jake Hughes. But the best Hughes could manage in the final race of the series was fifth, while Gallagher was right behind him in sixth, to take the title. Sean Vella

Passionate and successful harness racing owner Kevin Gordon is enjoying the ride of his life at the moment - a journey that started many years ago with a $200 outlay! Gordon, of Warners Bay, a suburb of Newcastle, will be chasing Group One honors on Sunday at Menangle with his talented youngster Lochinvar Art (Modern Art USA-Ponder In Paris (Ponder USA) in the $150,000 Vincent Alabar NSW Breeders Championship Final for colts and geldings. "He's a nice little horse, with a touch of class. And he doesn't have any vices which is a good thing," Gordon said. "We've drawn the number one alley for the first time in his career, so we'll be prominent. But it will be exciting because there are some outstanding horses in the event." At a purchase price of $29,000 at the yearling sales, Lochinvar Art is proving to be a dream buy. His incredible record now stands at 22 starts for 12 wins and 10 minor placings for a staggering $253,580 in stakemoney. Prepared at Kialla, near Shepparton by up-and-coming young trainers Laura Crossland and her partner David Moran, the three-year-old colt has never been unplaced in his two seasons of racing. "I'm enjoying every minute of having horses with them. They are hard workers and do a really good job. We buy a yearling every year from the sales and I just leave it to David to make the call on which one," Gordon said. "We have a two-year-old in Lochinvar Fire that looks a likely type with two starts for one placing and a Captaintreacherous yearling we have high hopes for." Prior to his Breeders Championship campaign, Lochinvar Art put together four consecutive wins, including a heat and final of the $104,000 Bathurst Gold Chalice, giving the popular owner his first Group One success in the sport. Lochinvar Art finished runner-up in his Breeders semi last Saturday - but was so brave he lost no admirers. After pressing forward from barrier seven, Moran angled into the one-out and two-back slot, albeit third last. At the halfway mark he made a three-wide move to put his charge into the race, whizzing around to be outside the leader, Hardhitter (Luke McCarthy), the eventual winner. The mile rate was a brisk 1.51-4 with a scorching 26.6 up the home straight. Gordon owns Multicam Routing Systems, a national business he founded 32 years ago and still laughs about how he got into harness racing in the late 1970s. "My wife-to-be Leonie was at a boarding school at Lochinvar, about half an hour out of Newcastle," he said. "A foal was born across the road from the school and later on, the two of us decided to buy it. We paid $200! "It was our first-ever pacer and raced as Lochinvar Girl. She went on to be a top mare and won 15 races at Harold Park including the Australia Day Cup. And that was the start of the Lochinvar prefix in our horses and greyhounds." Over the years, apart from Lochinvar Art, Gordon has also raced Lochinvar Fille (10 wins, 15 places), Lochinvar Delight (8 wins, 8 places), Lochinvar Hugo (now racing in SA: 15 wins, 6 places) and Lochinvar Sun (2 wins, 3 places). Gordon said he had received some decent offers to buy Lochinvar Art. "I had to knock them back because I'm at the stage of my life now where we get the most excitement out of seeing him race. "We'd rather have him because our four daughters in Emma, Heather, Clare and Karla and their extended families are big supporters of harness racing, so it's a lot of fun. "I bought them a filly for Christmas. She's named Gordon Girl and has had one win and three placings. She ran fourth last start and is also prepared by Laura." Gordon said his association with the Crossland-Moran team kicked off a few years ago after he was advised to send former Kiwi pacer Smo to them. "We had the horse with Sydney trainer John Binskin and won a couple of races with him. But he developed a few problems and John suggested he may recapture his form on country Victorian tracks. "I was quite impressed with Laura and David, and I think they won six races with Smo before we moved him over to the west. I know Smo became Laura's favorite horse at the time." On the greyhound scene, among the standouts have been Lochinvar Marlow, who provided Gordon with a Group One Paws of Thunder triumph. The dog finished with three Group wins, $300,000 in stakes and later proved a sensation at stud. "We probably breed between 50 and 60 greyhounds each year," he said. Gordon is also well-known through high-profile roles in greyhound racing. His contributions have included in 2016 being a vocal and pro-active representative on a steering committee that fought successfully to overturn a decision by then-Premier Mike Baird to ban the sport. But Gordon's attention this weekend will be squarely on Menangle, for the Breeders Championship Final. "We'll all be there, the girls and all of the extended family - we wouldn't miss it. Lochinvar Art's given us some fantastic memories already, and we're excited to be there and see what he can do," he said. "After that, if he's still going as well as he is now, we'll probably be looking at the Queensland Derby."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Talented four-year-old Summit Special, who was bred, raised and sold by Yirribee Pacing Stud, hoisted the fastest time of the night - 1:50.7 - when he overwhelmed his harness racing rivals in a $25,000 semi-final of the NSW Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Saturday night (June 22). Starting from the No. 5 gate, the gelding was third last at the end of the opening 800 in 54.3. Following a 28.3 third stanza Summit Special was tipped three deep and closed with a 28.1 final fraction to down the highly fancied Ignatius by 3.7 metres. The win sent his stake earnings over the $50,000 mark. Summit Special will contest the Group 1 $100,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Menangle on Sunday afternoon (June 30). Summit Special is the fifth foal and third winner of Classic Counsel NZ (by In The Pocket), who is also the dam of the prolific Menangle and Albion Park victor Floyd Mayweather 1:53 ($326,492). Since producing Summit Special in 2014, Classic Counsel has left the three-year-old Im Rock Solid (6 placings) and a weanling filly by Warrawee Needy and is carrying a positive test to him. Meanwhile, another Yirribee sired and bred, Untythehood (Robin Hood-Aunty Jean), saluted for the eighth time overall and fifth time this season at Wagga on Friday (June 21). The five-year-old gelding rated a career-best 1:58.9 over 2270 metres. Yirribee Pacing Stud will this season offer an imposing roster of stallions in the Kiwi superstar Lazarus, former world record holder Warrawee Needy, Tintin In America, sire of the America's No. ranked racemare Shartin NZ, and the North America Cup and Adios winner Fear The Dragon.   Peter Wharton

Brandy Hill harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco believes a class-based draw will help put Black Silhouette in the mix for the group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final after her close second in semi-finals at Menangle on Saturday night. Black Silhouette led from gate eight in a 26.7-second first quarter before Goodtime Heaven pipped her on the post by a head in 1:52. They will clash again in the June 30 decider at Menangle. "She looked like she was going to hold off the other horse all the away down the straight but she got her on the line," Dimarco said. "But we were very happy with the run. She ran 1:52 neat and the horse that beat her, she's a good horse. The other heat winner, Art Series, goes well as well, but she's going to be in it." Black Silhouette will start inside the 4YO mares heat winners in the class-based final draw. She was seventh in the three- and two-year-old Breeders Challenge deciders.  Sam Dimarco   Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby's Mister Finnigan was sixth in the two-year-old male semi-finals to be an emergency for the final. Maitland's Mitch and Guy Chapple were last with Roclea Star in his semi-final. Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan had back-to-back wins at Menangle with Vega Star, which clocked 1:51:1 in the first. On Friday night at Newcastle, Robert Morris drove a winning treble with Plain Baby, Balraj and Awayovernight. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

AS EXPECTED Australian Pacing Gold freshmen dominated tonight's New South Wales Breeders' Challenge semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Short-priced favourites in their qualifiers, Be Happy Mach and Jilliby Nitro completed impressive wins to set up an enthralling Final. The $125,000 decider is scheduled to be conducted in Menangle on June 30. Be Happy Mach issued an ominous warning early when he registered a strong victory for trainer Emma Stewart. Driven by Luke McCarthy, the son of Mach Three was pushed forward to settle in the 'death seat' from barrier eight as Crunch Time raced clear of the pack after finding the lead from gate 10. With the front runner opening a 15-metre gap around the home bend, Be Happy Mach was forced to dig deep on his way to a metre-and-a-half win from Rockin With Elvis, with Major Lester a head away third. "That was a very nice run from him," Stewart said. "The leader got away from them down the back but he just knuckled down to it and kept coming. "I was very impressed with the way he chased and got to the line strongly." Boasting five wins and a third from six starts, Be Happy Mach covered the mile in 1:52.7 to lead home an Australian Pacing Gold trifecta. Also an APG Sales graduate, Jilliby Nitro stopped the clock in 1:52.3 when he was untouched to score by 15 metres from Rock Fisherman, with Spy Major five metres away third. Trained by Marg Lee and driven by her nephew Glen Craven, Jilliby Nitro extended his record to six wins and a second from seven starts for earnings of $244,095. "I'm very happy with the way he went," Lee said. "Once he got to the front he was always going to be hard to beat and he did it quite easily. "It's going to be tougher in the Final but hopefully he will draw well which will make him hard to beat."   APG Media

Could a shoeing alteration improve Jilliby Nitro again? The classy black colt is the shortest-priced favourite at Menangle this Saturday night at $1.05 with TAB Fixed Odds for his Alabar Breeders Challenge Semi-Final (1609m). He has already collected two Group 1 victories and a personal best winning mile rate of 1:52.6, how much more improvement can there be? After winning his Breeders Challenge heat at Menangle last Tuesday week, trainer Margret Lee investigated the fluency of his gait and made some changes. “He went around really well in his heat at Menangle but he went rough at a couple of stages so we made a few changes to his shoeing so hopefully this time he will pace a bit better,” said Lee. “He’s had this in all his races and talking to his breeder, he seems to think that when he is a three-year-old he won’t have this issue with his gait . . . it’s a bit of a maturity thing.” Despite this niggling issue, Jilliby Nitro won his qualifier by more than 12m. It was his fifth win in six starts. The son of Bettors Delight has stayed at the Menangle Park Training Centre since the victory. “He’s really good, he settles in wherever he goes and has eaten up well,” said Lee. “He fast worked on Wednesday and we’re really happy with him.” Drawn barrier two Saturday night there is only one plan for driver Glen Craven. “He’ll be going forward from that alley, he has the early speed to make the most of it,” said Lee. It will be a busy night for the Victorian stable with three starters in consecutive races. In race six Lee has Keayang Jackie in the Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies Semi-Final drawn 10. “It certainly makes it a lot harder when you’re drawn wider,” said Lee. “I was super happy with her in her heat, I had a little bit of trouble with her tying up so I was really happy with how she did it. “Whether she goes forward or not I’m not sure but she has done well in all her races and ran a quick last quarter last start which was very pleasing.” Keayang Jackie finished second in her heat to Didn’t I when they clocked the last quarter in 26.3 seconds. Lee’s final starter for the night is Jilliby Bandit in the Group 3 Golden Mile. “He’s been a travelling buddy for Nitro and it’s really worked out well so far, he won at Bathurst and he won in Brisbane and he has certainly helped Nitro settle in,” said Lee. “He’s been a bonus and improved the last six weeks after changing his feed.”   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding will give Roll With Lachlan another taste of top-class harness racing at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday ahead of his push for a place in the $150,000 Breeders Challenge final. The Newcastle Derby champion qualified for June 22 semi-finals in the three-year-old colts and geldings series with second to Leonidas at Newcastle on May 31. Although safely through, Roll With Lachlan will take on NSW and Tasmanian Derby winner Max Delight in another heat on Tuesday. "We thought we'd give him another run for the fitness and to get him running the quick times at Menangle that he's not used to," Harding said. "He needs the run, but he's been going all right." Cessnock trainer Clayton Harmey's Stephens Spirit will also contest the heat. Harmey has Straddie in the second heat and Tralee Rocks in the fillies qualifier. Keinbah trainer Roy Roots jnr will look to get My Anna Rani into the semis of the 3YO fillies series. Harding hopes Roll With Lachlan's brother, Rocknlachlan, can qualify for the four-year-old Breeders Challenge decider through the semis on June 22. He was second at Peak Hill on Sunday. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Millers Forest harness racing trainer Chris Bourke will chase a first group race success when Que Sera competes in the Go Girlfriend Series Final at Menangle Park on Saturday night. Que Sera has won three of 22 starts for Bourke since coming to his stable last December. The four-year-old will start from gate nine of 10 in the $30,000 group 3 mares race on Saturday night after securing a place with second to Love My Sister in a heat at Newcastle on May 31. Que Sera (Auckland Reactor), with Blake Fitzpatrick to drive, was $41 with TAB on Friday and Bourke was not discounting her chances. "It's good to make the final in any group race," Bourke said. "They are all an even bunch and lightly assessed. "There's a couple of good ones, of courses. [Luke] McCarthy's got one out of the good mare Fleur De Lil, Love My Sister, that won the Newcastle heat ours came second in. She's a handy type. "Ours has pulled up good, and it just all depends how the race is run. "She's drawn bad but she's got no gate speed anyway.  "All the better ones are in the same boat except the good one from Queensland, [Rocknroll Pearl], it's got a bit of gate speed." Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan and his son Jack have a busy night across the Menangle and Newcastle meetings on Saturday night. The stable has genuine chances with Vega Star in the first and Downunder Stride in the fifth at Menangle. Jack will drive strong hopes Repartee in race eight and Glenn Ford in the fourth at Newcastle for his dad. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Former champion Kiwi harness racing driver Anthony Butt, now based in Sydney, was bubbling with confidence earlier this week when he got off to a flyer at Tuesday's Menangle meeting, with a Group Two victory. It was the perfect start and Butt went on to snare three winners - but his day could have been one better. "If I hadn't pulled the wrong rein later, I could have finished with four winners, but that's the way it goes - I had the choice of drives and went the wrong way," a philosophical Butt said. The Group Two win was for the Danny and Leroy O'Brien training combination, hailing from a small town near Ararat. The father and son combination got the chocoloates in the $30,000 NSW Trot 2YO Final with Mollys Purse (Eileen Donon USA-Golly Kosmos (Sierra Kosmos USA) for owner-breeder, Michelle Wonson. The win was courtesy of Anthony Butt's familiar, well-judged, front-running style driving. "The first quarter of a tick over 30 secs was okay, and then I was able to back right off with 33.2 and 32.3 splits which set it up nicely for us. She stretched out in 29.3 to the finish line and was quite comfortable," he said. "We were out there to get the Group win on the board, not to break records, and we achieved that without too many worries." Starting on the third level of betting at 7/1 behind the more fancied Artzen ($1.95 fav) and Sunny Gee ($2.15), Butt was able to rate Mollys Purse to his liking. "That was the first time I've driven for them, so it was a bit special and she's a nice little filly who did the job pretty easy," he said. "They are going to have a lot of fun because she was a little green and she has some growing to do. "I don't know what the plans are, but perhaps after a few runs, and then a break, she will certainly come back bigger and better." Anthony Butt's brother, highly respected trainer, Tim, also showed a Midas touch on the day with a treble, preparing the winners of races two, three and six. Anthony was the driver on two of the Butt stable winners but jumped the wrong way with the third. The Golden Lion (Peak DNK-Young Monkey), despite not displaying his best manners in the score up, got his act together for James Rattray and won by 11 metres over stablemate Running Free. Mile rate for the 3yo and older trotters' event was 2.01-4. "It's not much use complaining because I could have driven either, but James is a good friend and as the second stringer, he got the winning drive, so that was nice." The Butt boys combined in the T2 to T4 Trotters mobile to score on $1.45 fav. Majestic Courtney (Majestic Son-Courtneyrae (Armbro Invasion). "They are all capable square gaiters and should continue racing well for a while," trainer Tim said. "I like them a lot so hopefully they keep getting the job done." Four-year-old mare Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Changeover-Back In The USSR (Presidential Ball) was one of the outsiders at 14/1 in the Christmas In July at Club Menangle Pace, but looked impressive. Well handled by Anthony for brother Tim, she downed the $2.30 favorite by three metres in 1.56. The brothers are both based at the Menangle Training Centre with Tim, being a more familiar face having been there over 18 months. "I've cut back to 25 after getting rid of a few off the bottom rung and recently moved into a new barn," Tim said. "We had another treble a few weeks ago and I've now trained over fifty for the season so it's shaping up well." Anthony, who trains with partner Sonya Smith, prepares a relatively smaller team of six or seven to allow him time to take outside driving commitments. The Inter Dominion Hall of Famer moved to Menangle in October and describes the Menangle track as "very fair". "By this I mean every horse gets its chance," he said. "And there's plenty of racing here. There's racing at Menangle twice a week and other country meetings like Penrith if you want to go there. "We've got a few going around at present, one of the best is Reign On Me, who's a winner of three of his last five." Anthony has won nearly every major race across Australasia in almost four decades in the sport and first crossed the Tasman in 2014 for a four-year stint in Victoria. But there's every appearance he's most content these days as a Sydneysider! "We are finding it far less hectic than Victoria where we were always on the go," he said. "There was a fair bit of travelling back and forwards and we decided to stay in Sydney because of the racing and lifestyle. "It's a lot quieter and while you are competing in less races, the stakemoney is just so good." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ben Aubron is an integral part of the powerful Yabby Dam Racing operation in Cardigan, where the Frenchman plays a key role in the education of the yard's "babies" at the state-of-the-art stable and stud complex. And the 27-year-old was able to celebrate an extra special success on Saturday night when the one horse trained under his name saluted in the Club Menangle NSW Trotters Derby (2400m), when Xebec captured Group 2 glory at just his seventh run for Aubron. "To win a race like that ... we worked so hard to do this. We wake up in the morning dreaming about this, to win some big race like this," he said. "I think I've got a really nice horse." Picture: Ben Aubron salutes as Xebec claims Group 2 glory. Picture: Ashlea Brennan Photography. A far-reaching combination of nationalities helped achieve the triumph, with New Zealander Jack MacKinnon at the controls for the French trainer. MacKinnon settled Xebec back in the field for much of the trip and then capitalised on the early speed to run down front-runner and Yabby Dam rival All Cashed Up. In the end, Xebec raced clear to score by more than seven metres, with the Orlando Vici gelding rocketing home to pip All Cashed Up for second.  The win - at the bolter's price of $31 - came on the back of his maiden victory at Maryborough just a fortnight earlier. Xebec has now won two and placed in another two of his 10 career outings, the first three of which were for Yabby Dam's head trainer Anton Golino. Aubron said the plan was to now send the horse back to Menangle on May 25 for another Group 2, the Trots NSW 3YO Final. It's a further sign of doors opening for Aubron, who arrived in Australia close to five years ago primarily as a monte rider and joined Yabby Dam Racing after an initial stint with Craig Demmler. "It's really different from back home, the racing, but it's a really good country and good people," he said.   Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Electrifying two-year-old harness racing filly Pelosi, who has set tongues wagging with some astonishing performances in recent weeks, has pulled up as bright as a button from her first Group One success. Owner-breeder Wayne Honan said the horse would now be aimed at the New South Wales Breeders' Challenge series, which culminates with a $125,000 final at Menangle on June 30. "There's heats at Newcastle and then semi-finals leading into the big one. So, all going well, there's exciting times ahead. After that she will head for a spell," Honan said. "We always thought she would be something special because she looked the goods from day one, being well-gaited and unlike a few others in that breeding, didn't brush her knee. "Anna (Woodmansey) has done an exceptional job in training Pelosi. She only has two in work (the other being Photozen), but she is so thorough and spends every spare minute with them. And I have to say that both horses can be a bit 'different' at times." Owner-breeder of Pelosi Wayne Honan with trainer Anna Woodmansey --Dan Costello photo The impeccably bred Pelosi (American Ideal USA-For Dear Life (Life Sign USA) is now the fastest filly Queensland has ever produced. She scored the biggest win of her short career when successful in last Saturday night's $150,000 APG 2YO final at Albion Park. Prepared at Chambers Flat by hobby trainer Anna Woodmansey, who works in a high school administration office, Pelosi has now won four of her five lifetime starts. While the win provided Woodmansey and popular reinsman John Cremin with their first ever Group One victories, Honan has been one of Australia's most successful trainer-drivers over the years. In the heady days of the 1970s and 80s, Honan and his late legendary father Jack, of Killarney Stud, Canowindra, were a formidable team, preparing big teams of up to 35 horses. "One of our first decent horses I can recall was a mare named Fine Jade. She won the Queensland Oaks and then went onto be the dam of Prince Jade ($114,921), Genesee ($58,211), Glens Fine Jade ($25,110) as well as some others," Honan said. "As well as the Canowindra stables, we also had a property near the late and great Ron Peace at Donnybrook, near Melbourne. "The recent Brisbane wins brought back some fond memories because we made many trips north with our horses to the annual Winter Carnival over the years. We'd be based at Albion Park, but would also compete at Redcliffe and even down to Tweed Heads on the Queensland/New South Wales border. "We made a lot of friends and won some nice races during those campaigns." Pelosi comes from a successful family line boasting outstanding Group race victories, but gets her name from American congresswoman, the energetic and determined Nancy Pelosi. The 79-year-old was first elected in 2007 and is now in her third term as the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Honan said the name seemed a fitting one for the feisty daughter of American Ideal. "From what I can see, Nancy gives President Trump heaps - she goes hard and wants to be the best. So there's a bit of meaning there," he said. For Dear Life, dam of Pelosi, was a brilliant racehorse, winning 14 races from 28 starts for over $322,000. And grand dam, the Stature mare Express Post, was exceptionally fast. "When I won the Pink Bonnet with her at Harold Park, she lowered the previous race record by three seconds. She was awesome and ended up with 11 wins from 18 starts," Honan said. In the breeding barn, Express Post was a sensation. Petousa (by Western Hanover) won $180,000 in stakes, stallion Flightpath (Artsplace) won nearly $290,000 before retiring to stand at stud and For Dear Life (Life Sign) won $322,000. Honan retains Petousa, while Moama horseman Tony Peacock has For Dear Life at his St Fort property. For Dear Life has an Always B Miki weanling colt and will be served by American Ideal this coming season. Pelosi, driver John Cremin, Anna Woodmansey and Wayne Honan --Dan Costello photo  For John Cremin, recognized as one of the Sunshine State's favorite sons, the APG Group One win was much deserved. "Cremmo", as he's known, who turns 56 next Sunday (coincidentally the same day wife Tanya celebrates her birthday) got an early present he won't forget for a long time. "I've probably been driving for nearly 40 years, so I was overdue for a win in a Group One. I guess Pelosi is proof that you're never too old as far as a driver goes!" he said. "Perhaps some might say that my years of experience are now paying off. But as a young fella I wouldn't have handled horses with little idiosyncrasies like her. With a little bit of age and experience it's finally come to me!" Cremin was quick to label Pelosi as the best of her age that's he's ever driven. "She's definitely by far the best - the complete package. She relaxes beautifully and is so versatile. My only worry is to keep her out of trouble," he said. Cremin, who trains a team of six as well as being a respected farrier, is looking forward to the coming NSW campaign for Pelosi with the memory of a Newcastle win under his belt with Home of Jack in the Cup in December 2005. Watch the Pelosi win video replay here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Pacing great Lazarus is going to stand at stud in New South Wales in one of the most radical deals in the history of harness racing. But while he will be based in Australia for his Southern Hemisphere breeding career, New Zealand breeders will still have the cheapest access in the world to the recently-retired pacing hero. Lazarus was the dominant pacer in Australasia until sold to United States thoroughbred breeding giant Taylor Made Stallions last year and he went on to become the second best free-for-all pacer in North America during a short campaign there. He is serving a full book (140 mares) in the United States at US$10,000 and after negotiations with several leading Down Under stud farms he will stand at Yerribee Stud in Wagga, New South Wales. But that isn't the radical part of the Lazarus deal as his Southern Hemisphere breeding rights haven't been purchased by a stud or individual but by Club Menangle, who run the Menangle harness racing track. The deal sees Club Menangle buy Lazarus's Australasian breeding rights for life which would see them keep profits until their initial investment is paid back and then any service fees after that will be split with Taylor Made. The move will stun harness racing insiders, who often shy away from thinking outside the square, but looks smart business on two fronts. Not only should Lazarus be popular at stud and looks certain to end up making Club Menangle money but his presence in NSW will give them a glamour stallion prospect at a time when state bosses there are trying to reinvigorate the local breeding industry. That will also boost the depth of all NSW racing series and Club Menangle are certain to give the champion Lazarus huge exposure. He will stand there at an initial fee of A$10,000 plus GST but be available to New Zealand breeders at the slightly cheaper fee of $10,000 plus GST. Just as importantly, Lazarus will be paid up for the New Zealand Sires' Stakes stallion eligibility scheme so his New Zealand foals will have the same local opportunities as foals sired by stallions based in New Zealand. Club Menangle chief executive Bruce Christison says he was thrilled to get the deal signed. "The Club sees this as both an investment for ourselves but also in the breeding industry in NSW," said Christison. "And we believe the breeding incentives already put in place by HRNSW combined with the Lazarus name will ensure this is an outstanding success." Lazarus is expected to arrive in Australia in August.   Michael Guerin

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