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Kiwi champion Lazarus looks set to have to sit parked to win Saturday night’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup (2760m) at Melton. That’s because rival trainer-driver Kevin Pizzuto quickly dismissed speculation he may opt for “softer” tactics and ask driver Todd McCarthy to take a sit with Tiger Tara from the pole. “We got outsprinted in the Inters. This time we’re going to try and outstay them. My boy will stay all day. He’s tough,” boomed Pizzuto when asked about tactics. Talk off Tiger Tara potentially taking a sit stemmed from the fact Lazarus sat outside and comfortably beat Tiger Tara in Perth. “Toddy went to slow in that Inters final. It didn’t help our horse,” Pizzuto said. It’s worth noting Tiger Tara did lead and beat Lazarus in the second round of Perth Inter Dominion heats, albeit in a stop-star affair over a shorter 2100m trip. The stretch to 2760m doesn’t faze Pizzuto. “My horse is a great stayer. He showed that again at Goulburn the other day and that was his trial. We’re ready for this.” Despite Pizzuto’s declaration, Tiger Tara has continued to drift ($7.50 to $9) since Tuesday night’s barrier draw, while Lazarus has firmed from $1.40 to $1.35 and now $1.33 on the Aussie TAB. One horse who many thought would be in the early speed burn, but won’t be is Shane and Lauren Tritton’s Yayas Hot Spot from gate six. “There’s too much speed underneath him and we learnt from the Perth trip we can really knock him around if we burn early and don’t get across,” Shane Tritton said. “We just have to go back and drive for luck from that draw. “We can’t risk leaving everything out on the track this week with a Miracle Mile qualifier and hopefully the Miracle Mile itself just around the corner.” The expectation Tiger Tara will lead boosts the chances of ageing Victorian champion Lennytheshark, who is drawn inside the back row (gate eight), will most likely be right on his back and awaiting the sprint lane in the home straight. “That’s my best chance,” Lennytheshark’s driver Chris Alford said. “As good as he’s gone in front and outside the leader, David (Aiken, trainer) and I have always felt he’s lethal with a sit on them. He might the chance to show that this week.” Alford said Lennytheshark felt “like he was absolutely flying” when he won last week’s Casey Classic at Melton. “The official timing didn’t work for the race, but I’ve had some clockers tell me broke the track record Lazarus set winning the Victoria Cup last year for the 2240m,” Alford said. “He’ll definitely be fitter again for the run and if the race is truly run and we get the last shot at them, I’m sure he’ll be hard to hold out.” Lennytheshark has also eased from $7.50 to $9 since Tuesday night’s draw. Lazarus’ stablemate, Heaven Rocks, is the $6 second favourite with the Aussie TAB from two-out on the back row with Natalie Rasmussen aboard. Australia’s top harness racecaller Dan Mielicki, who will call the Hunter Cup, is tipping Heaven Rocks to upset Lazarus. “He’s got so much talent and amazing speed. I thought there was a real arrogance about his Ballarat Cup win and, if Lazarus does plenty of work, Heaven Rocks is good enough to beat him,” he said. Adam Hamilton

Tiger Tara, trained by Kevin Pizzuto and driven by Todd McCarthy, edged out Yayas Hot Spot to win the Goulburn Soldiers Club’s Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup on Sunday afternoon. The race was the feature of an action-packed Carnival of Cups program at the Goulburn Recreation Area Paceway, which was witnessed by a considerable sized crowd. The first three placed horses in the Goulburn feature were all from New Zealand, as was the fifth finisher. In fourth place was Brad Hewitt’s Spare Me Days. Shane and Lauren Tritton had to settle for second and third places in the class field of pacers. Franco Nelson, which won the Walla Walla Stakes in Goulburn on January 14 over the same 2240 metre distance, placed third, 6.6 metres back from the winner. At the presentation by Soldiers Club president Michael Donnelly, members of the Day family gathered beside the winner. The Day family has been synonymous with harness racing in Goulburn, with multi-generation involvement in the sport, inspired by Frank and Edna Day. Many of the family are still actively involved today. In the final race on Sunday the win, was claimed by another New Zealand pacer, Delightful Memphis, trained by Mark Jones and driven by Ashlee Grives. It finished 4.3 metres in front of the Amanda Turnbull-trained and driven Dream to Share, also of New Zealand breeding. In third place was the Neil Day-trained and driven That’s Ideal, which started as a long shot. The Australia Day weekend meeting was a fundraiser for the Goulburn Base Hospital, with several staff from the hospital among the official guests at the luncheon in the Grace-Millsom Function Centre. Also among the guests were officials from Harness Racing NSW, including chairman Rod Smith. The race meeting was one for the visitors, with out-of-town trained pacers taking all the major prize money. In race three the RMS Accountants and TAB Corp pace trainer Bernie Hewitt from Bathurst had success with I’m With Lexy ,driven by Douglas Hewitt. The Brad Hewitt-trained and driven I’m All Courage was second, and David Hewitt’s Spike Robyn was third. Darryl Fernance Reprinted with permission of The Goulburn Post

Perth Inter Dominion placegetter Tiger Tara is warming-up for another stoush with Lazarus. The $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup (2760m) is Tiger Tara’s next major target and Lazarus is headed the same way after his two Group 1 assignments in Perth this month. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto is weighing-up whether to make a hit-and-run raid on the Hunter Cup or go their via the $100,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 20. “I haven’t decided whether to keep him here until the Hunter for a run or two at Menangle or go down for Ballarat,” Pizzuto said. “I guess any $100,000 race without Lazarus in it is tempting, but I’ll decide over the next few days. “He’s almost set to go. In fact, He could race at Menangle next Saturday night if I go that way. Pizzuto said Tiger Tara had thrived during his let-up after Perth. “He deserved it after a busy couple of months,” he said. “He seems really well and he’s ready to go again now.” Some felt Tiger Tara’s third in the final after leading was slightly below the stellar form he showed during the heats of the Inter Dominion. But Pizzuto laments the fact driver Todd McCarthy tried to “rate” Tiger Tara in front rather than cutting him loose. “I wanted him to just roll along in front, instead I think Todd was too worried about Chicago Bull sitting on his back,” he said. “He turned the race into a sprint home and that played into Lazarus’ hands more so than ours. “Lazarus is a freak, an amazing horse, but Bunbury showed he can be beaten when Toddy let our guy roll along in front and get Lazarus off the bit and chasing. He didn’t do that in the final.” More broadly, Pizzuto confirmed he is still seriously considering a move from NSW to Victoria. “Everyone knows how frustrated I am by the (NSW) handicapping system. My property is on the market here and when it sells, there’s a big chance I could head to Victoria with the team,” he said. Adam Hamilton

They have driven more than 1000 winners between them and now Todd McCarthy and Chris Geary will fly the flag for New South Wales in the Garrards Australasian Young Drivers Championship. The AYDC begins at Redcliffe on Wednesday and wraps up at Albion Park this Saturday where 10 leading young drivers from Australia and New Zealand will compete for the title of being Australasia's top driver. McCarthy is the defending champion of the series having won the AYDC in Western Australia last year and his word of advice for winning such a championship is "consistency". "Consistency certainly pays off and most of all drive each horse as best as you can," McCarthy said. "Sometimes you might not have the best chance in the race but know the horse and try and get the best position possible and you might finish one spot closer . . . it's all about getting as many points as you can." As for Geary, the Group 1 winning reinsman is fresh from competing in the Australian Drivers Championship in Tasmania where he finished third to top Victorian reinsman Chris Alford and leading WA driver Chris Lewis. "It was a great experience and I'm honoured to representing NSW again in this series," Geary said.   Todd McCarthy stats (as of December 11) Started driving: March 2010 Drives: 3799 Wins: 657 Places: 969 Prizemoney: $6,488,193.16   Chris Geary stats (as of December 11) Started driving: November 2013 Drives: 3012 Wins: 404 Places: 729 Prizemoney: $3,369,230.19   AMANDA RANDO  

After crossing the line in third in Friday night’s Inter Dominion grand final, Bathurst product Todd McCarthy was the first to shake the hand of harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon. While McCarthy did all he could to see Tiger Tara win the $1.1 million classic at Gloucester Park, he knew he was beaten by a special horse in Purdon’s Lazarus. Starting as the $1.90 favourite, Lazarus was one out and two back early before making a move to sit in the death outside Tiger Tara ($7.20) with just over two laps to go. McCarthy had pinched a 99.9 seconds lead time in the 2,963 metres contest and had the Kevin Pizzuto trained horse travelling well after securing the lead from barrier one. Tiger Tara had beaten Purdon’s champion five-year-old in the heats of the series and McCarthy was looking to repeat that success. But through the final bend Lazarus drew level with McCarthy’s chance and then ran away from the field down the straight. Clocking 27.4 and 27.2 splits in the run home, Lazarus picked up his 14th Group 1 win. “He is the best horse I have ever trained”, Purdon said post-race.  He finished 4.1m clear of Chicago Bull ($4.60) who was able to get past a tiring Tiger Tara after spending a bulk of the journey in the trail. Tiger Tara did well to hold on for third, a further 1.6m back, to give McCarthy his second top-three finish in the biggest race on the Australasian Harness Racing calendar. He previously Seel N Print to second in 2014. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

ULTIMATE Machete’s powerhouse NZ free-for-all looks to have given him stranglehold on the major four-year-old races during the Perth Inter Dominion Carnival. But there are two locals who are showing enough to say they will make the emerging Purdon/Rasmussen superstar really earn the prize. Former Kiwi entire Rocknroll Lincoln, now in the Justin Prentice barn, made it two wins (and a close second) from just three WA runs when he led throughout in slick times to win the Golden Nugget prelude at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The effort of Gary Hall Sr’s Herrick Roosevelt to work early, sit parked and run a close second in a 1min55.8sec mile rate and 55.2sec last half was outstanding. Another eye-catching was former Victorian Wrappers Delight, who had no luck in third spot for new trainer Ross Olivieri. Throw in classy former Kiwi and now Victorian-based Motu Meteor and at least there will be some competition for Ultimate Machete in the three four-year-old features, the first of them this Friday night. _________________________________________________________________________________________ MOST thought Tim Butt would take advantage of Lennytheshark’s time in Perth and grab what he can in Victoria with My Field Marshal. Instead, Butt is thinking longer term and has given his stable star a freshen-up. “He’s having a couple of weeks out and will be back for the sprint at Ballarat on Boxing night,” Butt said. “Perth wasn’t going to suit him, so we decided to keep him hear and target the big races in the New Year. “I think he’s shown in a couple of his recent runs he can really match it with Lenny, but we haven’t had any luck in the barrier draws.” _________________________________________________________________________________________ THE problem child has found winning form again just at the right time. Gifted but headstrong and enigmatic WA pacer Run Oneover broke a long run of outs and looked quite good doing in in a free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Gary Hall Jr worked him to the front and let him roll over the 1730m sprint trip and Run Oneover scored quite well in a 1min54.1sec mile rate. It’s worth noting though he beat the B and C-graders and would need to lift again to be a serious player like he was during last year’s Inter Dominion heats. Remember it was Run Oneover who led, took charge and then choked-down in the back straight of last year’s Inter Dominion final. Another win of note at the Gloucester Park meeting came from exciting three-year-old filly Cott Beach, who won by 30m in a 1min57.1sec mile rate for 2130m. It was the daughter of Advance Attack’s eighth win from just 12 starts. _________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE isn’t much young Queensland trainer-driver Brittany Graham can’t do. Graham, daughter of decorated trainer-driver Darrel, has carved out a successful training and driving career in her own right. She added another credit when she won the Seymour Group Lady Drivers Invitation Series at Albion Park last Saturday night. Graham beat megastar Kerryn Manning in a close finish with SA’s Danielle Hill in third spot. The series included other big names like Amanda Turnbull, Kate Gath and Trista Dixon. In recent times, Graham has also been making waves by dabbling in some media work for Sky Racing. _________________________________________________________________________________________ HOW can you not be in awe of the story around the pacer Love Ina Chevy. Remember back to January, last year and he’s the horse Lance Justice, his staff and friends cared for around the clock, day-after-day just to save him after a suspected snake bite. It was half a miracle he survived because he was so sick. The fact he’s made it back to races was incredible, let alone the success the six-year-old has enjoyed. Love Ina Chevy posted his seventh and by far most important win – albeit in a dead-heat – at Melton last Friday night. The gelding surged along the sprint lane as the $36 outsider of the field to split the prize with leader, It Is Billy, in the Markovina free-for-all. It was a race where Victorian buzz pacer Tee Cee Bee Macray – third to Lennytheshark and My Field Marshal in the Yarra Valley Cup at his previous run – was expected to dominate, but instead flopped back in second-last spot at $1.40. _________________________________________________________________________________________ FRESH back from enjoying NZ Cup Week, top young driver Todd McCarthy snared the feature race at Menangle last Saturday night. McCarthy partnered Tiger Tara to a monster third in the NZ Cup then second to Ultimate Machete in last Friday’s NZ FFA. Back home, he teamed with trainer Mark Callaghan and veteran mare Cullinary Delight to win the Group 3 Sue Kelly Ladyship Stakes in a 1min51.4sec mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ IT might have been a ho-hum Cranbourne meeting, but debutante War Dan’s win provided a real highlight. The Amanda Turnbull-trained gelding carried a buzz into the race being a brother to former Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster and turning heads in some recent trials. And he didn’t disappoint. Sent out a $1.20 favourite, driver Nathan Jack took War Dan to the lead, but he copped plenty of pressure in front and still won as he liked in a 1min58.6sec mile rate for 2080m. Adam Hamilton

Jack's Legend gets the perfect chance to replicate the richest win of his career on an even bigger stage at Addington Raceway in Christchurch today. A driving masterclass from Zachary Butcher helped Jack's Legend cause a huge upset at the Harness Jewels in June when he blasted across to a shock early lead before trailing Ultimate Machete and waiting until late in the straight to surge past him via the passing lane. He meets Ultimate Machete again in the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All today but if Butcher wants to try those lead-then-trail tactics again he will probably end up following a different rival, Australian visitor Tiger Tara. The pair chased home Lazarus, who is absent today as he travels to the Perth Inter Dominions, in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday and while Jack's Legend was impressive in second, Tiger Tara was the run of the race outside Lazarus. He was parked for much of the race before galloping and losing four lengths at the 800m mark when he jumped a mark left on the track by the Seal The Deal/Dream About Me meelee at the start of the race. Tiger Tara has developed high gate speed since being sold to Australia and driver Todd McCarthy says he will be using it today. "He gets off the gate well and loves to lead and run along so that will be the plan," he says. "And I think most of the other drivers would be keen to follow him because he will give whoever is in the trail their chance," says McCarthy. "I was thrilled with him in the Cup and he has come through it really well." For all the talent of Ultimate Machete and Dream About Me, if Tiger Tara leads with Jack's Legend trailing they have a huge advantage. The question of the $260,000 may be whether Jack's Legend has enough change up speed to slingshot Tiger Tara. Ultimate Machete can win but will have to do it the hard way while Dream About Me's nightmare week continues with her wide draw. The draws have been kind to Great Things Happen, though, in the $300,000 Dominion Trot as he secured the front line while key rival Bordeaux will have to start from the second line. There is little between the pair on raw ability but Bordeaux is at his most potent when able to lead and roll even sectionals, which now looks unlikely. Great Things Happen was awesome winning the Trot Free-For-All on Tuesday. Trainer-driver Gavin Smith says he has pulled up perfectly. "I got a blood [sample] done and it is even better than it was going into Tuesday," says Smith. "I have been thinking for a while it is a race in two between us and Bordeaux so to draw in front of him is a big advantage and I'll be keen to get to the front." Smith says punters concerned about Great Things Happen returning to standing start after the hustle and bustle of two recent mobile starts need not worry. "I can't remember the last time he galloped away. "In fact, I'd love the start to be a long one with some waiting around because he will just relax and then perk up when I ask him to go," says Smith. If Smith is right and Great Things Happen is able to lead, it is hard to see him getting beaten. Michael Guerin  

The official start to the TAB Carnival of Cups for the 2017/18 harness racing season gets underway, as it traditionally does, at Eugowra this Monday. The eight-race card is highlighted by the Lexus of Parramatta Canola Cup, which some experts have claimed it to be the strongest edition ever of Group 3 feature. Trainers and drivers from all over the state have qualified for their spot in the $30,000 final including premiership winning reinsman Todd McCarthy who is driving Miss Patriot. The Kevin Pizzuto-trained mare has remained unbeaten in her two Australian starts. Exported from New Zealand on September 15, the American Ideal mare made her Australian debut six days later at Penrith and won. Just three days after this, Miss Patriot won her Canola Cup heat. She produced the fastest of the five qualifiers in the process, leading throughout in a mile rate of 2:00.1. "In the heat I didn't want to push her too hard into the first turn but once she found the top she won comfortably," McCarthy said. "She's a pretty handy mare. "I'll talk to Kevin and go through the race but I'd like her to be up there nice and handy . . . Kevin's horses usually race that way and it's key to be close to the action on these smaller tracks." Miss Patriot will most likely start favourite in the lucrative feature after drawing barrier five but may come out of barrier four with the removal of the first emergency. The only other heat winner drawn on the front row is Im With Lexy (one), who rated 2:00.7 to win her heat. The three other heat winners Eliza Dushku, Pay Me Sam and Inner Light have drawn 10, 11 and 12 respectively. AMANDA RANDO

Bathurst native and one of New South Wales’ leading harness racing drivers Todd McCarthy is risking his premiership lead for an experience of a life time. The defending champion currently holds the lead in the Harness Racing NSW metropolitan drivers’ premiership narrowly over his older brother Luke McCarthy and young gun reinsman Chris Geary. In the overall premiership, he is third behind The Lagoon’s Amanda Turnbull and Geary. However, on Wednesday McCarthy is leaving the country for a couple of weeks. “I’m heading to Canada for a fortnight for the World Drivers Championship,” McCarthy said. “I’m heading over with Shane Graham, who is representing Australia, as his plus one. “Harness Racing Australia have organised a licence for me so I can drive over there. I have also had help from Darren McCall, who has connections there, to help me get a few drives. “I’m planning to drive at Mohawk Racetrack.” Both of McCarthy’s older brothers have experienced driving in North America. Luke spent a stint driving in the United States and drove superstar trotter Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby in 2009 while Andy was amongst the top 50 drivers in the US last season. McCarthy won all drivers’ premierships last season and is happy with what he has achieved this term so far. “I’ve spent a bit of time not driving this season after going on a holiday and then breaking my collarbone so have done well,” he said. Amanda Rando Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A number of New South Wales drivers are rallying their support behind Victorian Mini Trot driver Connor Clarke who is currently undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a condition rare in children. Without even meeting young Connor, his story has touched many hearts and some of this state’s leading reinsmen and women are showing their support. Connor is just 14-years-old and has to spend time away from his family and friends whilst undergoing the 18-week course of treatment. From Ballarat, Connor is having his treatment at the Royal Children’s Hospital, 1.5 hours away from his loved ones. One of the state’s leading drivers Robert Morris is more than happy to donate to the cause. “It’s so sad and I’ve decided to donate my driving fees from Bankstown (tonight) as well as Menangle (Saturday night) to try and help Connor and his family in this time,” Morris said. “To see such a young kid go through something like this just breaks my heart.” The state’s leading driver Amanda Turnbull is also donating all of her driving fees from Bankstown tonight where she had five drives. Meanwhile, leading reinsmen Todd McCarthy and Jack Trainor have agreed to donate their driving fees and percentages from their drives at Menangle on Saturday night which add up to 13 drives collectively. And so too is Inter Dominion winning reinsman James Rattray who has a number of drives at Albion Park this Saturday night. Harness racing participant Maria Furina helped co-ordinate this fundraising after being touched by Connor’s story. “It’s just something that I want to do, I want to help Connor,” the mother of one-year-old Charlie said. “Two years ago I shaved my head and helped raise over $15,000 the Leukaemia Foundation Shave For A Cure. “A lot of people donated and helped with that and hopefully we can help Connor too. “Chris Alford, Greg Sugars, Grant Dixon and Shane Graham are all donating their driving fees from Saturday night too. "Luke McCarthy is giving Connor a service fee to For A Reason so he can breed a horse one day and have something to look forward to. “Garrards Horse and Hound, Zilco International and Finntack are also donating products which will have raffle tickets available for purchase through the Garrards Horse and Hound stores at Menangle and Bendigo. “Connor’s parents Belinda and Steven are just absolutely blown away and extremely humbled by everyone's generosity in this trying time and are so happy to see the industry pull together in their time of need. “They are a lovely family and have four children of their own and still find room in their hearts and home to care for foster children.” There is also a Go Fund Me page set up for Connor called Connor’s Cancer Journey which can be found here.  Amanda Rando

The final night of the 2017 Brisbane winter carnival takes place this weekend. And the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will play host to a sensational ten race program this Saturday night. Feature events include the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo Finals and the Gr.2 $75,000 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby while the support program also boasts strong depth. But the focus will be squarely on the Blacks A Fake, the final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season and it features an outstanding line-up. Former New Zealand star Tiger Tara is the punters elect after drawing favourably while the David Aiken duo of Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay will have plenty of support plus the likes of My Field Marshal, Major Crocker, Mr Mojito and Mach Doro among others will also create plenty of focus. The Blacks A Fake is listed as Race 8 on the program and carries a $10,000 First 4 jackpot. Gambling giant UBET are offering several jackpots throughout the program including a guaranteed $50,000 First 4 pool on the opening race plus a $10,000 jackpot. Sydney visitor Match Point faces a difficult draw (gate 7) but comes north with excellent recent form, leading reinsman Todd McCarthy will need to plot a course to overcome the draw but he will command plenty of focus from punters. The Bettors Delight gelding was resuming since March 17 when an excellent third behind his stablemate Tiger Tara at Menangle last week and natural improvement is expected. The $15,540 Kevin & Kay Seymour Rising Stars Championship also looks an extremely open affair following the barrier draw. Heat winners on Tuesday were Outlaw Fella and Chapter One while others to be considered include Sweet As Candy, regal Nightshade, Subtle Advice, Summertime Lizzie, The Charging Moa and Sicilian Slumber. The Rising Stars Finals is listed as race 2 on the card. A guaranteed Quadrella of $75,000 is also slated with a $20,000 jackpot component; the quaddie will be staged on races 2, 3, 4 & 5. UBET have also slated $1000 jackpot trifecta pools on races 3 through to 10.

This is going to be an epic Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park next Saturday night. For many weeks the hype has been around superstar stablemates Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay, but the depth goes way beyond them now. Whether that glamour pair has come back to the pack or others have improved, we now have at least four, maybe even five serious winning chances in next week’s $200,540 feature over the gruelling 2680m trip. Rejuvenated Kiwi pacer My Field Marshal is firmly in the A-team now as is former Kiwi stayer Tiger Tara, who is the “fresh blood” in the race having skipped last night’s Sunshine Sprint to stay home and thrash a weaker field at Menangle. Then there is the much-improved and speedy Mach Doro, who, if given the right trip, has the speed to test any horse. We hoped last night’s Group 2 Sunshine Sprint would shed more light on who might win th Blacks A Fake, but, instead, it further muddied the waters. Hectorjayjay, unfairly criticised for his tiring fourth in the Len Smith Mile, bounced-back to win last night, but didn’t prove a lot in doing so. Young driver Josh Aiken put for the race for the lead with Lennytheshark quickly beyond doubt when he used Hector’s early brilliant to “ping” to the front. Then Aiken slammed on the breaks and dawdled through the first three splits in 29.4, 30.0 and 29.2sec. Hectorjayjay was always going to win in that scenario. He ripped home in 25.7sec, but only had a half-neck to spare from My Field Marshall with Lennytheshark struggling with the electric dash down the home straight to finish 6.7m away in third spot. Mach Doro was a close-up fourth. After the race, Aiken said: “We did what we needed to do to win tonight, but next week is a different race and the tactics will be very different.” Dexter Dunn’s pick-up drive on My Field Marshal was sublime and matched only by how well the horse himself went. To circle the field early, sit parked and finish so close to Hectorjayjay in a race he dictated was simply outstanding. If anyone thought My Field Marshal’s upset Len Smith Mile win was a fluke, they need to think again now. Meanwhile, around the same time the Sunshine Sprint was being run, Tiger Tara was capping his Blacks A Fake preparation with another crushing Menangle win. Driver Todd McCarthy balanced him up early from a wide draw and drifted back, then launched in the middle stages with a 27.3sec third split to blast around the field take the front. Tiger Tara then powered to a 6.8m win in a slick 1min51.5sec mile. Make no mistake, he’s absolutely primed to run a monster race in the Blacks A Fake. Yes, the draw will be important, but the long 2680m trip and mix of strength and speed amongst the key players set the scene for what should be a race for the ages at Albion Park next Saturday night. Adam Hamilton

Next stop is Queensland for star former Kiwi pacer Tiger Tara.  Trainer Kevin Pizzuto moved-on quickly from a totally luckless Len Smith Mile run to back-up Tiger Tara for a dominant win, albeit against easier class, in the Group Three Coca Cola Pace (1609m) at Menangle last Saturday night.  In the Len Smith, Tiger Tara found himself back last in a top-start affair and was clocked to run a 52.5 last half off the track when finishing only eighth.  Driver Todd McCarthy was mindful of not getting too far off the pace this time.  Main danger Allblack Stride worked forward to find the lead from gate eight, but McCarthy quickly moved around the field to sit parked after settling near the rear.  McCarthy stepped-up the heat on Allblack Stride rounding the final bend, quickly hit the front, then Tiger Tara seemed to do just what he had to do for a 4.1m win in a 1.52.7 mile.  It will now be interesting whether Pizzuto heads to Brisbane for next Saturday night’s Group One Sunshine Sprint, or sticks to his original plan of bypassing it, and waits for the longer Group One Blacks A Fake the following week.  Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and My Field Marshal head the list of stars awaiting Tiger Tara in Queensland.  We’re in for a couple of great weeks of racing.      Still on Queensland and the Allstars barn quickly put their stamp on this year’s Winter Carnival.  Despite being small on numbers with just the two raiders, both of them won with authority.  First-up was The More The Better, who capped his preparation for the Queensland Derby with an effortless win in the $30,000 Group Three Premiers Cup with Natalie Rasmussen aboard.  Rasmussen also took the reins on star filly Partyon, who showed a return to her sparkling early season form, to win a very strong Provincial Oaks.  Another Kiwi filly, Delighful Memphis, was sent out a hot favourite and led as expected, but Partyon was too strong and classy in a 1.56.8 mile rate for 2138m, capped by closing splits of 55.9 and 26.9.  Former Kiwi filly Shartin, who has been grabbing the eye in easier races for Victorian train Dean Braun, ran a slashing second. My Casino Belle was third and Delightful Memphis fourth.  Another impressive winner on the night was Grant Dixon’s four-year-old Leos Best, who used gate three lead and was simply too fast for the promising stayer Mattgregor in the Group Three 4YO Championship. They flew home in 56.3 last half and 27.8 closing quarter for a 1.55.1 mile rate.  NSW raider Spare Me Days won the Mr Feelgood pace for open-class pacers narrowly but impressively.  Maybe one-time budding superstar Beaudiene Boaz can still be a Perth Inter-Dominion contender.  The Gary Hall snr-trained pacer looked a bit special last season, but his form has been indifferent since.  He posted just his fourth win in almost 18 months when he led throughout at Gloucester Park in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) last Friday night.  It was a real line in the sand race and the five-year-old delivered. He came from gate five, sat parked early, worked to the front and won strongly by 1.8m in a slick 1.54.8 mile rate from Vulcan Tin and stablemate Run Oneover.  It was the second leg of a double for Hall Jr in the sulky, having taken advantage of a scorching early pacer to blow his rivals away on promising four-year-old Zach Maguire in a flying 1.52.6.    Advance Attack filly Cott Beach built on her impressive record with a dominant Westbred 2YO Fillies’ final win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey, Cott Beach posted her sixth win from just eight starts when she led throughout to win the Group One $100,000 feature by a whopping 21.5m.  Cott Beach posted a 1.58.8 mile rate, while Highroller Joe (Roll With Joe-Illeagle) ran only marginally quicker at 1.58.6 in the colts and geldings final. It was a big night for Highroller Joe’s trainer-driver Justin Prentice, who also won the 3YO Fillies’ final with Allamerican Queen.  Handsandwheels capped a big season where he won the WA Derby and then added last Friday night’s $100,000 Westbred final for father-son team Andrew and Aiden De Campo.    Lance Justice has won bigger races, not many would have meant as much as last Saturday night’s $20,000 Popular Alm Sprint (1690m) at Kilmore.  That’s because he trained Love Ina Chevy to a fighting win, and he’s the gelding who narrowly cheated death so many times, when gravely ill at the start of last year. Incredibly, the five-year-old lost none of his fighting qualities as shown by his biggest career win in the Popular Alm.  Love Ina Chevy led and took a trail then used the sprint lane to snatch victory from Four Ex Dan by a half-head in a 1.55.9 mile rate.    Star former Kiwi mare Cyclone Kate was the first benefactor of Menangle’s trial of a new handicapping system.  The system allows horses to drop back in grades pending from over their past five starts and Cyclone Kate did just that and then used gate four to lead and win impressively in a 1.53.1 mile.  Another winner of note on the night was Shane Tritton’s Eh Ef El, who blazed a 1.52.1 mile in race nine.  Tritton has been singing Eh Ef El’s praises for much of this year, but he’s shown as many “tricks” as he has sparkling displays.  If he keeps doing it all right like last Saturday, Eh Ef El will roar through the grades.    No wonder former Kiwi youngster Jack Mac is prepost favourite to win WA’s biggest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper.  The son of Mach Three stretched his unbeaten Aussie record to five wins when he cruised around at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Jack Mac was unplaced in five Kiwi runs before moving to Barry Howlett’s barn when he looked top shelf.  Another winner from last Saturday’s Gloucester Park meeting well known to Kiwis was recent All Stars’ export Motu Premier, who emphatically won his second run for trainer Ross Olivieri.  The Merv Butterworth-owned four-year-old has enjoyed a bumper season, first in NZ then with two wins and a close second from three Menangle runs (still with the All Stars) and now with Olivieri.  This season he’s raced 13 times for eight wins, two seconds and earned over $80,000. Adam Hamilton

Fans have been dished-up an unexpected treat at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto telegraphed early his plans to back-up Tiger Tara, but the twist in the race came when David Aiken opted to run Hectorjayjay as well. So, just eight days before the Group 1 Len Smith Mile, we get a mini preview with two of Australia’s best pacers locking horns in the Family Dun Day Sunday Pace (2300m). As impressive as Tiger Tara was storming home off a slow pace to beat Lennytheshark and others in last week’s Golden Mile, all the early money is for Hectorjayjay to beat him on Saturday. Amazingly, Hectorjayjay was smashed from $1.60 into $1.45 and then again in $1.35 within minutes of the Aussie TAB opening its fixed odds market. Tiger Tara has eased from $2.60 to $3. Both will start from the back row, but Hectorjayjay looks to be drawn better starting from two-out on the back as he can potentially through better and settle in front of Tiger Tara. Tiger Tara has the inside back row (gate 11) and follows out rank outsider Demolition Dave, meaning driver Todd McCarthy will surely snag and look to get straight away from the inside into the running line. It means he will settle near last. Against that, Tiger Tara’s great strength is his stamina and the stretch from last week’s 1609m to 2300m plays to his favour. The glamour pair are classes above their rivals and it promises to be a fascinating race of tactics and an ideal “teaser” to the best Len Smith Mile in recent memory. Saturday night’s Menangle card also features semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge for three and four-year-olds. By far the biggest name stepping-out in them is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who is a $1.04 favourite from gate four in the second of the three-year-old colts and geldings division. Luke McCarthy is down to take the drive. Another highlight of the card is the Group 3 Frith Stakes (1609m) where the key players are Cyclone Kate (gate 14), Rocker Band (12) and Miss Riviera Belle (five). Kiwi mare Rocker Band has moved from Craig Demmler’s Victorian stable to Mark Jones’ Menangle satellite stable and Ashlee Grives is down for the drive on Saturday night. Rocker Band and Cyclone Kate share $3.40 favourite in the Aussie TAB’s early fixed odds market. Adam Hamilton

The McCarthy name is synonymous in Queensland harness racing circles. A decade of dominance in the Sunshine State will leave an effect. It must. And it has. From John being the leading trainer and producing plenty of star performers following moving his young family from Bathurst, his three boys all commenced their race driving careers in Queensland and the rest is history. And now the youngest member of the famous clan will return and looks set to play a leading hand in the state’s biggest event, the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Fresh from success with outstanding pacer Tiger Tara in the Gr.3 $31,800 Garrards Golden Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle last Saturday, Todd McCarthy and trainer Kevin Pizzuto are eyeing the Brisbane riches. “He was absolutely super on Saturday night and felt like the old Tiger Tara, I was thrilled with the way he performed and now Brisbane is on the radar. I know Kev has mentioned it previously and following that performance, it must be seriously considered because he’s right in the mix.” McCarthy said. Starting from a second-line draw, Tiger Tara nosed out Mach Doro while race favourite Lennytheshark weakened to third after leading in a time of 1:52.6. It was first start since finishing 7th in the Bulli Cup at Menangle behind Lennytheshark in 1:49.6 back on April 29. Prior to that start, the Bettors Delight six-year-old won his previous five starts. “He was really sharp the other night and gave me a great feel in the warm-up and I thought he raced super, Mach Doro is a much underrated type while Lenny is a champion so that underlines the effort. “He’s got the Len Smith Mile before Brisbane and that should be another great race too because there’s plenty of nice types chasing that race but I wouldn’t be swapping right now. I would say he’s one of the best horses I’ve driven in my time, that’s for sure. “I think the main race will suit him up there and I’m looking forward to driving at Albion Park again, it’s a great track with special memories.” Tiger Tara has now won 20 of his 65 starts while banking more than $880,000. With Tiger Tara a ‘likely’ Queensland winter carnival contender; it will see Todd pitted against his older brother Luke once again who has a commitment to millionaire pacer Bling It On who is already based in Brisbane. And just like they’ve done numerous times prior, they could end up with a one/two result. Just like in the Golden Mile. Chris Barsby

FORMER star Kiwi stayer Tiger Tara is ready and waiting for Lennytheshark. Tiger Tara arrogantly posted his fifth successive win when he strolled home in the Group 3 Sydney Cup (2140m) at Bankstown last Friday night. In contrast to recent wins where he’s done all the work, this time driver Todd McCarthy found the front and Tiger Tara won as he liked in a 1min57.5sec mile rate for 2140m. He zipped home in 56.3 and 27.7sec. “He’s thriving on the hard racing and I can’t wait to get a crack at Lennytheshark next weekend,” trainer Kevin Pizzuto said. “I know he hasn’t been beating the absolute best in his recent runs, but the way he’s been going means I’m not afraid of taking any horse on.” Miracle Mile winner Lennytheshark hasn’t raced since winning the Cranbourne Cup on March 18, but sharpened-up with a slashing second in a Menangle trial last Tuesday. Lennytheshark and Tiger Tara are set to clash in next Saturday night’s Group 2 Bulli Cup at Menangle. FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Hughie Green was always going to enjoy life in Queensland. It’s started as most expected with two easy wins from as many starts in his new home state for trainer-driver John Cremin. He won first Queensland outing in all-the-way style at Albion Park on April 7, then did exactly the same, but looked even better doing it last Saturday night. The five-year-old cruised through a 62.6sec middle half then ripped home in 55.5 and 27.0sec to win by 11.7m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2138m. Hughie Green is going to have a good grounding at Albion Park ahead of the Winter Carnival up there when the likes of Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and Tiger Tara are expected to spice things up. CLASSY Victorian mare Rockstar Angel remains a “big hope” of contesting the Harness Jewels if the invite comes her way. Trainer David Aiken set the four-year-old for the $40,000 Platinum Mares’ Championship three months ago and snared the final with a tough and dominant win last Saturday night. It was a huge effort to come from outside the back row, do the work outside the leader and win in a blazing 1min53sec mile rate for 1720m. Given the lack of Our Dream About Me and probably Golden Goddess, the Jewels’ 4YO Mares’ division looks a good target for Rockstar Angel if Aiken and owner Brendan James opt to give it a crack. Also at Melton, Major Crocker made a one-act affair of the Westburn Grant free-for-all (2240m) by leading throughout in a 1min54.3sec mile rate. And rejuvenated trotter Vincennes caused a minor upset winning the Group 3 Uncle Petrika Trotters’ free-for-all (1720m) in a 1min56.3sec mile rate. The other eye-catching winner on the night was one-time Harness Jewels contestant, Burnaholeinmypocket, who looks to be regaining the sort of form he showed as a three and early four-year-old for Andy and Kate Gath. He sat parked and dug deep for a blisterining 1min53.1sec win over 1720m. ONE of the most stirring battles of last weekend came at Gloucester Park. It was an epic stoush between brothers Clint and Gary Hall Jr and a couple of exciting three-year-old pacers Runrunjimmydunn and El Barcelona. The pair cleared out from the rest of the field with El Barcelona in front and looking the winner on the home bend, but Runrunjimmydunn just kept coming and snatched victory by a nose on the line in a slick 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2130m. Runrunjimmydunn brilliantly won his first Aussie run for trainer Gary Hall Sr then had little go right in the WA Derby before bouncing back last Friday night. At the same meeting, another exciting three-year-old Maczaffair appreciated dropping back from racing the boys when 11th in the WA Derby to thrashing her rivals in a WA Oaks Prelude. Trained by Mike Reed and driven by Shannon Suvaljko, Maczaffair led throughout from the pole to win by 13.2m in a 1min56sec mile rate for 2140m, including closing splits of 56.4 and 27.9. The other highlight of the Gloucester Park card came when Bill Horn – of Village Kid fame – produced his injury-plagued pacer Heez On Fire for a first-up win in the fast-class race. It was the gelding’s first run since a failed tilt at the Perth Inter Dominion late last year. STILL in WA and leading trainer Greg Bond has been charged with behaviour detrimental to the industry from a race held during the Perth Inter Dominion series late last year. After an exhaustive probe, Perth West Australian newspaper reported RWWA had charged Bond in relation a former Kiwi pacer Fifth Edition at Gloucester Park in December. An iquiry was opened straight after the pacer drifted alarmingly in betting, hung badly and wilted to finish last. The inquiry focused on Bond’s comments in Perth radio on the morning of the race and his betting activity on race night. RWWA’s general manager of integrity, Denis Borovica, said Bond initially told RWWA’s former chief steward, Carl Coady, he included Fifth Edition in a “first four bet” on the race, but subsequence evidence showed none his bets did include Fifth Edition. Additionally, Borovica said Bond said on local radio on race morning that Fifth Edition was his “best prospect” that night, neglecting to mention information he had been given by stable foreman Ryan Warwick about the pacer hanging and cross-firing in trackwork the prior Tuesday. The charges are serious and the inquiry has been adjourned to a date to be set. Bond and his wife, Skye, are backbones of the WA industry with a huge stable – mostly Kiwi imports – and have trained almost 150 winners so far this season. LATE last year there was plenty of prepost money around for San Carlo to win the Victoria and/or Hunter Cups. San who may of you might ask? San Carlo is a six-year-old gelding, who, if he could stay sound, would be a Grand Circuit horse. Not long after the money came for him late last year, he had yet another setback and was put out for a spell by trainer Steve O’Donoghue. San Carlo returned to the races with a sparkling win at Kilmore last Friday night. It was his 10th win from just 11 starts. Despite being three-wide and outside the leader, driver Bec Bartley had an armchair ride as he coasted to a 9.8m win in a brisk 1min57.6sec mile rate for 2180m. KIWI pacer Motu Premier gives Mark Purdon another major feature race player at Menangle next Saturday night. The four-year-old made it two wins from as many runs during this NSW raid when he finished strongly to win a heat of the Carousel series at Bankstown last Friday night. Motu Premier looks one of the major players along with the likes of Anything For Love and Lord Zin Zan in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel final next Saturday night. Lord Zin Zan won an epic battle with Anything For Love in a scorching 1min49.6sec mile at Menangle last Tuesday then backed-up last Saturday night for an easy all-the-way win at the same track in 1min52.1sec. HARNESS Racing Victoria continues to tinker with its pacing races after abolishing standing-start races for pacers at the start of this season. The move came under the microscope most on the country cup circuit where so many of the former standing-start races became mobiles and had short-priced favourites. Overall, HRV revealed betting turnover across all country cups was up 3.9 per cent on last season, but they conceded some races – most notably the Shepparton Cup which was down 24.7 per cent – suffered as a result. Hectorjayjay started $1.20 and dominated at Shepparton. In a quest to combat this, HRV’s CEO David Martin confirmed the country cups of Group 2 and 3 status would switch from free-for-alls to preferential draw races next season. It’s a fair compromise with a marquee Cup, like the Group 1 Ballarat Cup, remaining a random draw. The upside to scrapping stands has been more of stars like Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay in the country cups and the preferential draws should at least make some of those Group 2 and 3 races more competitive. MATTY Craven showed why he is regarded as one of the emerging training forces in Australia with an “on-the-road” treble at Menangle last Saturday night. Craven, who is building a name for rejuvenating trotters, won with two trotters at Menangle – El Paco and Our Dreamlover – who have been both regained form since being switched to his stable. Craven’s other win came with tough pacer Desdon Murruffy, who led throughout in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m.   Adam Hamilton

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