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An oversight from top trainer Tim Butt has ended his Inter Dominion pacing assault. And cost him A$1000 in the process. Butt had his two pacers Let It Ride and Italian Delight withdrawn from their heats at Ballarat on Tuesday and therefore the remainder of the series after he took blood off them today for a routine blood test.  Harness Racing Victoria rules forbid horses having any form of injection used on them for a clear 24 hours before raceday so stewards had little option but to scratch the pair.  The irony is Butt, who until last year trained with great success in Canterbury, actually told the stewards he had broken the rule.  “They rang me to ask how the horses were and I told them I had just taken a blood to have it tested to make sure they were fine,” said Butt.  “Then the told me I can’t do that and it dawned on me, no injections the day before the races even if it is extracting rather than putting anything into the horses.  “It is totally my mistake. I guess in the back of my mind I knew the rule but I honestly didn’t think about it.  “So I will have to cop that and apologise to the owners.” Stewards accepted their was nothing sinister in Butt’s actions and fined him A$1000.  The pair join local star Shadow Sax in being withdrawn from the series yesterday and leave the Kiwi pacing trio of Cruz Bromac, Spankem and I’m Pats Delight as three of maybe only six serious winning chances left for the A$500,000 final on Saturday week. Michael Guerin

Tim Butt is a man that knows how to train big race winners. For over two decades he has made it his business to not only plunder the riches on offer in the Shaky Isles, he has also targeted the biggest races in Australia. Now however, the tables have turned and the ex-Kiwi horseman now calls Sydney home. It may not be as far to travel but the task is no easier as Let It Ride arrives at this year’s TAB Inter Dominion as, in many ways, the forgotten horse. After a devastating win in the Blacks A Fake through the Queensland winter, he has been taken along slowly as an early season five-year-old. “People maybe forget that a lot of the big guns either weren’t at their best or weren’t in the Blacks A Fake but I was really pleased with him obviously,” Butt said. “He maybe can’t win this weekend from the draw but he should get a nice run and he’ll be finishing off well.” While he hasn’t yet captured the heights of last campaign, which saw him run second in the Chariots Of Fire before claiming the final Grand Circuit race of the season, Butt has been happy with his progress. “It’s very hard at Menangle when you’re drawing 10, so I’ve been happy with his three runs this time in,” he said. “You don’t really know until you do it but I think he’s the kind of horse that will get through the series. It’s made easier if you get a couple of soft runs through the heats but he’s a good leader as well.” Wilmas Mate has landed on Aussie shores for the first time since taking out the Victoria Trotters Derby and a Breeders Crown Final in 2016 and she’s heading to Butt’s Sydney base after ID18. “I’m rapt to get her. I’ve only had her about 10 days but her last run was actually quite good and she just hadn’t been having much go her way in New Zealand. “This series might come up a bit quick for her but she has drawn well for the first heat and after this I’m confident she’s going to do a really good job up at Menangle in the future.” Blake Redden

New Zealand Cup favourite Tiger Tara won’t have exciting stablemate Majordan as a travelling companion to Christchurch. After talks with US owners Gordon Banks and Marc Hanover, trainer Kevin Pizzuto has opted to leave Majordan at home to focus on mile racing. “We’ve scrapped the NZ idea and he’s out of the Inter Dominion as well,” Pizzuto said. “He’s a dead-set mile horse and that’s what we will focus on towards the Miracle Mile. “Ultimately the plan is to take him across to race in the US next season.” Pizzuto said he thought Tiger Tara was a justified NZ Cup favourite given his history in the race and fantastic form this season. “Don’t forget last year he sat outside Lazarus, galloped and lost a few lengths down the back straight the last time, and still picked himself up and ran third,” he said. “It was a fantastic run last year and I’ve got no doubt he’s a better horse this time around … and, without Lazarus in the race, it’s nowhere near as strong a Cup, either. “I’m sure he’s the one to beat, but he’ll need luck of course. I’d love a good draw and hope he steps away as quickly as he can.” Amazingly, this will be the sixth consecutive year Tiger Tara has raced on NZ Cup Day. It will be his fifth run in the Cup and, back in 2013, he won the Sires’ Stake final for trainer Geoff Dunn on Cup Day. Tiger Tara’s Cup runs have returned sixth placings to Adore Me (2014) and Arden Rooney (2015), a second to Lazarus – albeit beaten 10 lengths – in 2016 and last year’s terrific third to Lazarus. Pizzuto confirmed Tiger Tara would fly to NZ on Monday. “He’s right where I want him now. He didn’t need another race or trial after Cranbourne the other night. He’s spot on for the Cup and it’s the race I’ve set him for,” he said. “He’s amazing horse and I’m sure he’ll run well. I hope people give him credit for what he’s done and I still think the best is yet to come.” ________________________________________________________________________________________ Five of Australia’s top Inter Dominion contenders strut their stuff this weekend. Leading the way is Tim Butt’s emerging star Let It Ride, who is second-up from a break in Saturday night’s $30,000 Group 3 Nick Robin free-for-all (1609m) at Menangle. Let It Ride is the Aussie TAB’s $5 equal favourite with Tiger Tara for the December 15 Inter Dominion final. His rivals this week include one of Team Tritton’s major Inter Dominion players, My Alpha Rock, who is $26 in latest Inter Dom markers. Let It Ride stamped himself as one of the sport’s hottest properties when he blew away a strong field in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park at the end of last campaign. He resumed with a late surging fourth to Majordan in a 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle last Sunday. He was privately-timed to run his last half in 52.7sec. This week’s race is slightly easier without Majordan, but driver Anthony Butt has the same dilemma with the extreme outside draw (gate 10) and quality rivals sure to settle in front of him. My Alpha Rock is also drawn wide in gate 10, while other key runners include: Mach Doro (nine), Joes Star A Mia (eight), a rejuvenated Aztec Bromac (three) and fresh Major Crocker (four). Down at Melton on the same night, three of Victoria’s top four Inter Dominion contenders – Shadow Sax, Wrappers Delight and Menin Gate – clash in the $20,000 Sokyola Sprint (1720m). Shadow Sax, who ran a close third to San Carlo and Tiger Tara in the Cranbourne Cup last week, is drawn to lead from gate three and has been crunched from $2.10 to $1.35 with the Aussie TAB. Wrappers Delight ($4) has gate four, while Menin Gate ($12) faces a huge test from the outside gate seven. Inter Dominion has Shadow Sax $7.50 third favourite, Wrappers Delight at $11 and Menin Gate at $18. Adam Hamilton

Trainer Gary Hall Snr is in firm agreement with the TAB Inter Dominion handicappers. Chicago Bull is No.1. The Peth superstar pacer owns the rare air of being top-ranked horse for Australasia’s premier harness racing series after Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) announced the first round of rankings today. Last season’s Inter Dominion runner-up has won 11 of his last 12 starts and is about to embark on a monster campaign that will take in the $200,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on Saturday night October 13, the $800,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington in November, and ID18 in Victoria, which kicks off on December 1. “He ran second to Lazarus (in the Inter Dominion final) and never got a crack at him; he won two heats and was third in the other. He’s won 11 out of 12 races since … you can’t fault his form,” Hall Snr said. “They keep saying he hasn’t beaten anything but that’s just not true. Lazarus, San Carlo, Tiger Tara … he was racing all those horses over here. I know he was on his home track … but they’re grossly underrating him.” Pressed on where Chicago Bull ranks right now among Hall Snr’s all-time top horses, the trainer was a mix of circumspect and audacious, if it’s possible to be both.  “Right now, he’s the second best horse I’ve ever had,” he said, “But, saying that, he’s also better than Quinny (Im Themightyquinn) was at this stage in his career.” Any suggestion therefore that Chicago Bull requires a coming out party against the best is erroneous; he’s been there and done that in the Inter Dominion. Are travel questions fair? Sure.  “I think he’ll handle that. He’s a pretty laid back fella,” Hall Snr said. “The only thing is you never quite know I suppose. He’s always got a paddock mate, so he needs the right company, that’s all.” The Bulls’ Michael Jordan was always the best, but Scottie Pippen helped. On the New Zealand Cup Hall Snr said it was a race he’d tried to win three times before. “Fourth time lucky hopefully,” he said. “I tried to win it with Quinny but he fibrillated, bled, broke a leg… it just didn’t work out. It’s a great meeting. I went 12 years in a row and would love to win it.” Meanwhile, Tim Butt-trained rising star Let It Ride, who produced a slashing run to win the Grand Circuit Blacks a Fake classic in Queensland, is second on the ID18 pacing rankings, ahead of New South Wales’ Tiger Tara. Kiwi superstar Speeding Spur is top ranked in the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, with Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley number two, ahead of Temporale, Kyvalley Blur and Glenferrie Typhoon.   Cody Winnell

POSSIBLE has become probable for Tim Butt’s surprise NZ Cup plans for new stable addition Bettermatch. Butt had been so impressed with the former star juvenile’s trackwork, he dared to telegraph a possible NZ Cup raid before Bettermatch had raced for him. And those who watched the now five-year-old blast home in a flying 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle yesterday (Tuesday) could clearly see why Butt is thinking such lofty thoughts. Bettermatch was the lone back row runner and settled worse than midfield in the running line, but was helped when the leader, Heza Bromac, blazed through a 55.1sec first half. Things got hairy coming to the home bend when driver Chris Geary was dragged back behind a tiring horse and lost a couple of lengths coming three-wide. Bettermatch copped another check and lost momentum at the top of the home straight, but Geary picked him back up and surged past the leaders for a powerhouse win. “It was a big win to overcome a few things in and run, give them such a big start and run that time,” Butt said. Butt immediately turned his thoughts to a path to the NZ Cup. “We’ve got a nice program planned,” he said. “There’s another race for him next Tuesday, then an M0 on October 6 over 2300m, which really suit him and he should be getting to peak fitness by then. “That M0 will let me know if he’s up to an NZ Cup and, if so, we have the Ashburton Flying Stakes on October 22, which is three weeks out from the Cup. “I think it’s a perfect preparation if he’s up to them.” Bettermatch was sidelined for three years with injury after his stellar juvenile season and returned with four wins and a third from five start for Riverina trainer Colin Thomas. Butt then bought the entire and was immediately impressed. Bettermatch’s win headlined a fascinating Menangle mid-week meeting where former top class Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson sparkled in a trial for Shane and Lauren Tritton. Franco Nelson, who hasn’t raced since finishing down the track in the Len Smith Mile, won his trial by 16m in a 1min52.8sec mile and blasted home in 54.0 and 27.0sec. The trial was enough for Team Tritton to put the Victoria Cup back as a genuine possibility. They already have the in-form My Alpha Rock and last week’s sparkling Menangle win winner Gotta Go Ya Hu being set for the Victoria Cup. My Alpha Rock (gate 10) is shooting for his fifth successive Menangle win, but faces another step-up against the likes of proven open-class stars Tiger Tara (gate 11) and Mach Doro (gate seven). They clash in the Health Foundation Cup (1609m) at Menangle on Saturday night.   Adam Hamilton

TIM Butt is planning a trip back home for the NZ Cup and it won’t be just to catch-up with old friends and family. Butt revealed he is seriously thinking about tackling the Cup with new stable addition Bettermatch, who has his first for the trainer in a ho-hum midweek race at Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday). When Bettermatch appeared in NZ Cup nominations a few weeks back, he hardly rated a mention. The former star juvenile won the Leeton Breeders Plate and NSW Saplings Stakes in his freshman season for trainer Colin Thomas before spending three years on the sidelines with injury. He has returned with four impressive wins from five starts this campaign, including his farewell run for Thomas in the Country Series final at Menangle on August 25 where he won in terrific style. “I really like him,” Butt said. “He feels like a very good stayer. We hope to go if he keeps improving like he feels as though he will. “It’s the year to have a go. Chicago Bull is the one to beat and Ultimate Machete if he’s right, but it’s a thin lot that’s for sure. “Put it this way, on what Bettermatch is doing at home, he’s up to those who horses who ran in the main race at Addington last Friday.” Bettermatch is the lone back row runner (gate 11) in the sixth race at Menangle at 7.07pm NZ time tomorrow (Tuesday). In other stable news, Butt has ruled-out the Victoria Cup with his sparkling Blacks A Fake winner Let it Ride. “It was always unlikely. We wanted to give him a good break after Queensland,” he said. “He won’t be ready and the Inter Dominion is his first target.” And Butt’s Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal will return to training at he end of the month, but the Inter Dominion is not on the agenda. “He’s not an Inter Dom horse. We’ll bring up with a view to returning to racing around Christmas time,” Butt said.   Adam Hamilton

PROP-forwards in football teams are expected to “do the hard yards” up front, and that’s exactly how 21-year-old Jed Betts performs for the Bathurst Panthers first grade league side week in and week out during the season. After snatching victory in the dying seconds of last weekend’s sudden-death semi-final, Jed’s team is now just two matches away from making it to their second successive grand-final in the western districts competition. In what might well be an omen for the coming weeks, Jed steered Limbo Larry to a smart win at last night’s (Wednesday) Gold Crown Paceway meeting. Despite being just the fourth career win for this five-year-old son of the family’s  resident stallion Abercrombie Dexter (by Panorama), it took his earnings past $60,000 in a remarkably consistent  career of 148 starts which have included 37 placings. Now that’s “doing the hard yards “ in anyone’s language, and explains why Jed has a real fondness for “ATM”, his only horse which he also trains and drives. He led early in the C1 2260 metres event before handing up to Barkway Arnold which maintained a consistent tempo, and rather than wait for the sprint lane, he came to the outside to draw level with the leader halfway down the running before asserting himself close to the finish. It was a cool, calm performance - much like his team-mate’s winning field-goal out on the paddock a few days previously - and earned the laid-back, popular figure racecaller Craig Easey’s Drive of the Night award. There was much anticipation leading in to the HRNSW Guaranteed Two-Year-Old Pace, one of three races for juveniles on this final meeting of the Bathurst racing season. Obi One NZ had created an enormous impression in winning over the longer 2260 metres trip a week earlier, but was drawn on the outside over the sprint trip this time, with very strong opposition expected from Izzy Dagg NZ, a recent Addington winner which was a fine second in brilliant time at his Menangle debut last Saturday. As expected, Izzy Dagg led out of the gate, while Obi One did some work early to get around to the death seat. Chris Geary threw in a blistering 27.5s third quarter which gave him a little clear air turning in, and although Amanda Turnbull’s youngster didn’t shirk his task at all, he couldn’t quite match strides and finished five metres astern of the leader, whose winning mile rate of 1:55.6 was close to track record time. The name of the winner will be very familiar to football followers everywhere. Israel Dagg made his debut as an All Black in 2010, was part of the winning Rugby World Cup team the following year, and played a near-record number of games as full-back for the Silver Ferns, before switching to the wing in the last couple of seasons. He is revered in NZ rugby, as one of the finest players in recent years. He was a part-owner of the two-year-old named after himself, but now that he has signed to continue his career in Japan, he’s relinquished his ownership in the A Rocknroll Dance son. Both youngsters will now spell, with the classic races early in the New Year the targets for their respective trainers Tim Butt -himself a fine Rugby player, who spent time in Australia playing for the Western Reds - and Amanda Turnbull. The other 2YO events gave maiden wins to Kyle Shannon (Peter Bullock/Mackayler Barnes) and Kelli Frost (Blake Fitzpatrick/ Jack Trainor). Mackayler’s win was special because the horse was named for her father who passed away last year following a lengthy battle with cancer; Jack came back to scale declaring it was so cold out on the track that he couldn’t feel his hands, before admitting “I’m a bit ashamed to say that, because I’m a Kiwi!” If sympathy was owing to anyone on Wednesday night, it should have gone to the race stewards and the club officials, who contended with two lengthy delays - a nasty fall in the second race, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder for Cowra reinsman Darryl Davis who was transported to hospital, and then a generator failure which necessitated a 20 minute cooling-down period before the track lights could be switched on again. Everyone pitched in, particularly the trainers who managed to have their horses readied with the shortened gaps between races, and it was a commendable team effort. Just another way of “doing the hard yards.”   TERRY NEIL

Tim Butt is about to unleash the X-factor of the Breeders Crown. Butt and his stable clients recently bought a 60 per cent share in buzz Riverina juvenile Whereyabinboppin which led to a switch from trainer-driver Steve Harris to Butt’s barn. Whereyabinboppin is unbeaten three runs and, importantly, easily beat the very exciting Victorian youngster Lochinvar Art on debut at Wagga on May 8. The strongly-built gelding has won his three starts by a thumping aggregate margin of 68.5m. He dives straight into the big league at Kilmore next Wednesday night in a heat of the Breeders Crown against Australia’s best youngster, Centenario, and elite support talent like Nostra Ideal, Fourbigmen and College Chapel. “He’s a beautiful horse. He’s big and strong, he looks a like a thoroughbred and he’s really doing a lot of it on raw ability at the moment,” Butt said. “It’s exciting to have a horse of his talent join the team even if it’s a big ask throwing him into such a strong Breeders Crown at this stage. “I’m sure he’s got the talent, but has he got the strength and the experience if things don’t go his way in a race against these sort of horses?” Whereyabinboppin has shown plenty of gate speed, but has gate five with Centenario in gate one. “I’m looking forward to the race just see where he sits at this early stage of his career against the best,” Butt said. In other stable news, last-start Group 1 Blacks A Fake winner Let it Ride is “most unlikely” to contest the Victoria Cup enroute to the Inter Dominion. “He’s still got another couple of weeks spelling so the Victoria Cup will come up a bit too soon I think,” Butt said. Adam Hamilton

Tim Butt isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Fresh from his Grand Circuit triumph last weekend at Albion Park with Let It Ride stamping himself as a genuine star of the future following his easy victory in the Gr.1 $200,540, UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the champion trainer is already plotting his next move. And it could mean a return trip to Brisbane next year. Butt and stable clients have negotiated a deal to secure unbeaten Riverina two-year-old Whereyabinboppin from the stables of Steven Harris for a six figure sum. Whereyabinboppin is a son of first season sire A Rocknroll Dance from the Modern Art mare Whereyawheeliebin, a winner of 5 races. He is the first foal to race from the mare. The speedy gelding has looked ultra-impressive in both victories at Wagga with the latest coming on July 17 when scoring by over 34m in a time of 1:56.5 for the 1755m. The current track record at Wagga belongs to Untitled at 1:55.6 set back in May this year. Whereyabinboppin will start this Sunday at Bathurst in the consolation of the Alabar NSW Regional Breeders Challenge. He will start from the outside of the second-line, gate 11 in the 1730m event. With Butt heading to Victoria next week with his talented three-year-old trotter Majestic Courtney who will tackle the Gr.1 $75,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Victoria Derby at Maryborough (August 5), he will pick-up his latest acquisition on the way south. And Butt is already looking at the Derby classics next season. Who knows, he might be aiming at claiming the Blacks A Fake and Queensland Derby double next year. And given how good his Group One record is, it’s hard to doubt him.   Chris Barsby

The 2018 Albion Park winter carnival came to dramatic finale last night (Saturday). With great fields of racing, solid prizemoney and cash bonuses up for grabs, rival connections were keen to get amongst the action. And it paved the way for a sensational night of harness racing. The Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship was the main event, the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season, a classy field of competitors were chasing the riches on offer. Champion trainer Tim Butt claimed the event with rising star Let It Ride who scored easily defeating Atomic Red and Alleluia in the 2680m feature. Aided by a gun drive by star reinsman Dexter Dunn, Let It Ride gained a perfect trail before unleashing a powerful finishing burst to score by a widening margin. The winning mile rate of 1:54.8 established a new track record, slicing .2 seconds of the previous mark of 1:55.0 held by Our Hi Jinx. In the Gr.1 $100,540 QBRED Triad 2yo Finals, First String ran down favourite Regulus in the colts and geldings feature rating 1:56.4. Prepared by Craig Cross, the Roll With Joe colt was handled perfectly by Luke McCarthy. Smart As Camm Be defeated southern raider For All We Know to claim the fillies feature in a thrilling home stretch battle. Trained and driven by Kylie Rasmussen, the Cammibest filly has firmly established herself as the best juvenile in the state with a pair of feature race victories. Victorian horseman Mattie Craven landed the Gr.2 $75,540 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby when former New Zealand pacer Master Moonlite nailed local star Colt Thirty One right on the line while filly Fame Assured finished a creditable third in the blue riband classic. Raced by a large team of owners, Master Moonlite rated 1:57.3 for the 2680m event. In winning the event, Craven landed himself a $20,000 trainer’s cash bonus after scoring a victory in the Gr.2 Queensland Trotters Cup a week earlier. The Gr.3 $30,540 Ted and Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship was taken out by race favourite Our Triple Play who led throughout defeating Conviction and Our Uncle Sam in a time of 1:54.5 for the 2138m. Prepared by Brad Hewitt, the Shadow Play gelding gave his astute young mentor his second victory in the event after scoring with Sweet Molly Oshea two years ago. Local trotter Spud proved too classy taking the Gr.3 $20,630 Haras De Trotteurs Marathon when running down Gee Up Neddy and Our Dreamlover. Spud rated 2:04.7 for the 3157m event. Trained by John Edmunds and handled by Nathan Dawson, the Tennotrump gelding recorded his 13th career victory. The APHRC would like to extend their heartiest congratulations to all of the winners during the three week carnival and thank all of the interstate trainers who made their way to the Sunshine State to be part of another successful carnival.   Racing Queensland    

Tim Butt knows a thing or two about preparing a Grand Circuit winner. The champion horseman has prepared more Grand Circuit winners than any other trainer in this part of the world….and by a good margin! His tally now stands at 52 (17 pacing & 35 trotting events). And his latest winner came via the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season, the Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). Rising star Let It Ride ($4.30) confirmed his status as a genuine star of the future with a brilliant and resounding victory in the 2680m feature event when easily defeating Atomic Red ($3.90 fav) and Alleluia ($32.60) in a track record time of 1:54.8 (Our Hi Jinx held previous mark at 1:55.0). Handled by star reinsman Dexter Dunn who overcame an illness the night prior, the recent Gr.1 Breeders Challenge winner was given a perfect run in behind the pace setting Atomic Red before racing clear soon after straightening. With Glenferrie Hood and Tact Tate both leaving the gate with urgency, Dunn bided his time before charging forward quickly to take the lead away from Glenferrie Hood at the 2000m mark. The winning move came shortly after when Dunn elected to take cover behind the hard-running Atomic Red. The lead time was covered in 74.9 seconds. Atomic Red led the way from Ultimate Art who improved his position quickly while Let It Ride sat perfectly in the trail. The first half of the final mile was covered in 29.2 and 29.4 seconds. Entering the back straight, Atomic Red led from Ultimate Art and Let It Ride while Cruz Bromac improved three-wide solo with My Field Marshal catching his cover. Cruz Bromac raced roughly mid-way down the back straight and checked My Field Marshal while Carlas Pixel and Ohoka Punter also copped interference. The third quarter was covered in 28.9 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Atomic Red attempted to kick away but Let It Ride quickly loomed to his outside and the put the result beyond doubt very quickly. The winning margin was a widening 13.5m over Atomic Red while there was a further 4.5m back to Alleluia in third. The final quarter was timed in 28.7 seconds. “We got a perfect trip and got lucky to follow the right horse throughout, he took us right to the home straight and I knew my guy was feeling great in the pocket and he quickened nicely over the latter part.” Dunn said. For Dunn, it was his 7th Grand Circuit victory. Again, the management of Butt was pinpoint accurate following his decision earlier this week to bypass the original target of the 4yo Championship (support feature) and concentrate on the main event coupled with flying Dunn in from New Zealand to partner the gelding. At the time, it was a big gamble but one that has paid handsome dividends. It was first test against genuine open class rivals. Let It Ride has now won 15 of his 27 starts. Connections will now switch their focus towards the Inter Dominion series in Melbourne later this year. The 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season is now complete with global superstar Lazarus set to be crowned champion after amassing 304 points throughout the term. Lazarus finished well clear of Soho Tribeca (205) and Tiger Tara (145). Chris Barsby

The final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit takes place this weekend. And the destination is Brisbane. The Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship will conclude the eight leg series and global superstar Lazarus will be crowned Grand Circuit champion following a shocking injury to Soho Tribeca last weekend. Heading into the final leg, Lazarus held a 99 point lead over Soho Tribeca but victory for the latter would’ve secured a thrilling victory but, unfortunately, a leg fracture sustained in the Sunshine Sprint has wiped out any chance of securing the title. So, with Lazarus guaranteed the title of Grand Circuit champion for the second straight year, the door has been left open for others to improve their position on the leaderboard or even perhaps, get on the leaderboard for the first time this season. The Sunshine State feature named after the greatest champion of all-time is staged over the 2680m and features some very richly talented pacers including last week’s feature race winner Tact Tate. The Amanda Turnbull trained and driven gelding scorched around the Breakfast Creek oval in a time of 1:53.0 taking the sprint feature and now looks to complete the Brisbane feature race double. In recent times, Hectorjayjay (2017) and Im Themightyquinn (2014) have completed the Queensland double and Tact Tate has a terrific chance of joining that exclusive club. Possessing blinding gate speed, Tact Tate will start from gate 6 and looks a great chance of finding the pegs early again. A major threat for Tact Tate could come from within with Atomic Red, prepared by Amanda’s father Steve; the ultra-talented four-year-old produced an eye-catching effort last week behind Tact Tate when fifth after starting from a nasty second-line draw. The rise in distance will suit Atomic Red and the ideal front-line draw (4) is another major plus. With the Turnbull name synonymous in harness racing, the father/daughter combination have filled a top two finish on many occasion but are yet to achieve the feat in a Grand Circuit event. Can they etch their names into the record books this weekend? Champion trainer Tim Butt is no stranger to Grand Circuit glory and is represented by a pair of outstanding chances with My Field Marshal and Let It Ride. My Field Marshal (1:46.9), the fastest pacer in Australasia, is looking to bounce back following a flop performance last week in the Sunshine Sprint when finishing at the rear of the field after racing three-wide throughout. A runner-up in this event last year, My Field Marshal will start from gate 11 with Anthony Butt taking the drive. Let It Ride, a proven Gr.1 winner, will start from gate 3 with Dexter Dunn booked to drive. A winner of his past five starts, Let It Ride makes his debut at the Grand Circuit level but looks ready following his victory at the track last week. Victorian trainer Dean Braun is chasing his maiden Grand Circuit victory with classy mare Carlas Pixel, the Gr.1 Ladyship Mile winner must overcome gate 13 – the outside of the second-line. The regally bred mare will again have the services of star reinsman Luke McCarthy. Cruz Bromac, a winner of the Gr.1 Len Smith Mile two starts ago makes his Albion Park debut and faces a second-line draw after landing gate 10. The Kevin Pizzuto trained gelding disappointed last start at Menangle when finishing 7th. Perennial Albion Park performer Ultimate Art returns to Brisbane and tackles the staying feature following some strong efforts of late at Menangle. Under the care of Queensland born but Sydney based Shane Sanderson while regular trainer Michael Formosa holidays in Malta, Ultimate Art will start from gate 9. Ultimate Art finished third in this race back in 2016 behind Ohoka Punter and Hectorjayjay. Young Cameron Hart takes the drive. Another Sydney trained runner is Celestial Arden for Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris, the talented gelding has drawn poorly in gate 7 – the outside of the front-line. Celestial Arden was a runner-up last week behind Tact Tate in the Sunshine Sprint. Leading trainer Grant Dixon is duly represented by Alleluia (gate 1) and 2016 winner Ohoka Punter (gate 12). Both pacers are racing in excellent form. Proven Albion Park feature race winner Glenferrie Hood starts in his second Blacks A Fake (9th in 2016) and will start from gate 5. Pete McMullen takes the drive for trainer Wayne Graham. Bodhi Tree tackles his biggest challenge to date the injury prone pacer continues to defy the odds and boasts outstanding recent form. Prepared by Peter Greig and Patrice Madden, the Blissfull Hall gelding will start from gate 2. Giant former New Zealand gelding Hughie Green is listed as the emergency (gate 8). In total, the 13 runners have won 265 races while amassing more than $5.48 million in stakes. The UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship is scheduled as race 8 and listed to start at 8.40pm local time.   Chris Barsby

IT has been a while between drinks, but Dexter Dunn will be out to an extend his unbeaten run aboard Let It Ride in Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park. Dunn drove the Tim Butt-trained pacer to win his first four starts – all at Addington – but hasn’t taken the reins since. The most recent of those wins was on March 31, last year. But Dunn was more than happy when told Anthony Butt had opted to stick with My Field Marshal as his drive in the Blacks A Fake, meaning Dunn would be aboard Let It Ride. “I’d have been happy to drive either horse. It was great to get the call-up from Tim,” Dunn said. “I actually went across this time last year to Brisbane and finished second on My Field Marshal in the Sunshine Sprint. “But Let It Ride is an exciting horse. I know Tim’s always had a big opinion of him and he’s taking him along really well. “He’s been racing well, has the good draw and Tim obviously thinks he’s ready to step-up to a race like this.” Dunn said this would be “about my seventh or eight trip to Albion Park” and his most recent major win came aboard Terry Chmiel’s filly Nek Time in the 2016 Queensland Oaks.   Adam Hamilton

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

IT sounds strange to be a tad disappointed when you run second in a Group 1 race, but that’s how Tim Butt felt after My Field Marshal’s Len Smith run last start. But he’s promising fans will see the best of his Miracle Mile-winning star in Saturday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Sunshine Sprint (1660m) at Albion Park. “I thought he should’ve won or at least got a lot closer to Cruz Bromac in the Len Smith given the run he had, even though they did really fly home that last 200m,” Butt said. “Ants (driver Anthony Butt) said he felt a bit flat, that he didn’t his usual zip. He tried hard, but couldn’t ping when he needed him to.” Butt said although My Field Marshal seemed well going into the Len Smith, he may still have been slightly impacted by a “bug” he contracted a couple weeks before the feature. “We thought he was right, but he just have been a fraction off his best,” he said. So Butt made the decision to take My Field Marshal and emerging stablemate Let It Ride to Queensland as early as possible, just a couple of days after the Len Smith. “We’ve been here a week-and-a-half and I’m glad we have. The warmer weather has seen both of them thrive, especially My Field Marshal, who loves it,” he said. “With My Field Marshal’s history of breathing issues, he’s better in the warmer weather. “I just can’t fault him up here. Everything says he’s going into this race better than the Len Smith and very, very close to his absolute top.” So does that mean he can upset Soho Tribeca, the $1.65 Aussie TAB favourite? “I don’t think there’s anything between them, especially with them both drawn the back row,” Butt said. “Maybe Soho Tribeca’s draw is a bit better because he’s two-out and could trail through well, but we’re right next to him. “Luck in the run and how the race is run will play a huge part in the result, but I can only have my horse as well as possible going into it and I’m confident I have.” My Field Marshal holds a 2-0 record against Soho Tribeca. The first clash was the Miracle Mile back on February 24 when Soho Tribeca sat outside the leader and produced one of the runs the season for a close third in that record-breaking 1min46.9sec mile. My Field Marshal came off a cold sit to win the race. Then, in the Len Smith last time, My Field Marshal ran second, but Soho Tribeca galloped at the start and was tailed-out. Soho Tribeca’s trainer-driver Mick Stanley said his stable had also thrived in Queensland. “He’s right where I want him and I think I’ve got the better of the barriers over My Field Marshal this week,” he said. “I should settle in front of him, then I’m launching early … going looking for the lead or at least to control the race from outside the leader. I’ve got a horse tough enough to do that.” Adam Hamilton

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

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