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A monster weekend awaits that could reshape the lucrative Trots Country Cups Championship, with Shepparton and Hamilton harness racing clubs taking their moment in the spotlight. While championship leaders Shadow Sax and Messini pursuit Group 1 acclaim across the border in the $100,000 South Australian Cup, quality runners will attempt to score valuable championship in this weekend’s Victorian cups double-header. The Mathews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup has presented an even field with Keayang Kallisto, Keep On Rocking, Bad Billy, Berisari and It Is Billy in single figures with TAB.com.au amid a Sunday race card that also features a keenly contested Porthaul Hamilton Trotters Cup. But before the dust is disturbed at Hamilton some of the summer’s most promising pacers will battle for the $50,000 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, which takes centre stage at 9.20pm on Saturday. Among that number is San Carlo, fresh from his breakthrough Inter Dominion heat win, dual Tasmanian cups winner Major Secret and trainer Sonya Smith’s promising pacer Moonrock. The latter made a bold play for the PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup lead last Saturday, challenging Ideal For Real before driver Anthony Butt had to relent and then struggled for a run in the dying stages. “On paper it looked as though we might get to the front, we had a crack and it wasn’t to be,” Butt told the Trots Talk radio show. “Ideal For Real raced outside his normal pattern and he wanted to hold the front too. That’s racing and we’ll turn the page and get on with it.” Moonrock has drawn gate seven for Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup and Butt said they would use the front line draw to stay ahead of major back row threats. “With the two good ones, San Carlo and Major Secret, drawn the second row, we’ll try and keep ahead of them and go from there,” Butt said. “(San Carlo’s) a great horse, one of the up and comers and raced really well in the Inter Dominion in Perth so he’s obviously the class horse in the race.” It could be a lucrative night for team Smith and Butt, who also team with Hey Yo in Group 3 race The George Gath, the former Kiwi whose been impressive in her first Victorian season. She will start from gate two, inside fellow mare and favourite Red Hot Tooth. “(Hey Yo’s) been fantastic since she come over from New Zealand,” Butt said. “She raced at a pretty good level over there but couldn’t quite compete with the very best ones. “Three starts for two wins and a second, and a big run last week behind Sparkling Success (at Bendigo). (Shepparton’s) probably a little bit easier field, but in saying that Red Hot Tooth’s been in her best form and probably should be hard to beat along with a few of the others.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Elmore was the real winner on Boxing Day when its resurrected harness racing meeting pulled a crowd of more than 1000 for the eight-race card. Which saw the O’Sullivan’s Elmore Pacing Cup over 2180m go to red-hot favourite Nomi Malone, driven by Zac Phillips and trained by Ellen Torney. It finished 2.4m ahead making the most of its inside start on the front row. Club secretary Cliff Powell said the bigger crowd and a couple of track records made it “a great day for everyone involved”. Powell said while final numbers were still being checked he knew they were up several hundred on the 2016 meeting. He said support from some of the state’s leading trainers and drivers also contributed to the success of the day. “Harness Racing Victoria chief executive David Martin, who has been such a help, also made the trip to Elmore for the day, which we really appreciated,” Powell added. “He told us he was very pleased with what was happening at our club, and that backed up what some of the drivers also said, assuring us they would be back again next year,” he said. Powell said the renovations at the track also proved their value. He said the renovated track was in an excellent condition, shown by some of the fast times recorded on the day, and the number of nominations received. “We actually had to knock some people back as we only have 90-odd stalls – I guess that will be next on the agenda,” he said. “If we had enough stalls it would be good to get this up to a 10-race meeting. We have one row with 39 stalls that is very old and we would need to bring them up to speed first.” The track also benefited from the loan of a water truck from Yarra Glen. Powell said it was an “exceptional asset” on the day. “We have had our own truck for years, it’s an old milk tanker, but doesn’t do its job anywhere near as well as this one,” Powell said. “I reckon we might have one like it by this time next year, whoever put this one together has done a fantastic job,” he said. “And we were helped by a local who has a big bore barely 1km down the road that was able to fill the Yarra Glen truck in seven minutes flat so we didn’t miss a beat all day.” by Campaspe News Reprinted with permission of The Riverine Herald

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will start post-race endoscopic horse examinations at Bendigo Harness Racing Club and Tabcorp Park Melton. This initiative will start at Bendigo on 8 February, 2018, and be trialled for 12 months at these two venues.  The program, the only one of its kind in Australian harness racing, will allow veterinarians acting upon the request of stewards to conduct thorough and timely post-race endoscopic examinations of horses that perform below expectations to identify any abnormalities and the need for further treatment. HRV Senior Veterinarian Dr Julia Aspinall said the examinations would allow vets to check horses’ airways and provide immediate feedback to owners and trainers on course while their horses were cooling down. “This service will assist the trainer and owner in identifying potential medical conditions which may be treated as early as possible to enhance horse health and welfare and therefore reduce costs to owners,” Dr Aspinall said. Trainers and owners also have the option, subject to the demands of the on-course veterinarians at Bendigo and Melton, to request endoscopic examinations for their horses. Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards will take precedence over requests from trainers for elective post-race scoping. A charge of $100 will be made for this service and digital images can be provided on request. Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards are free of charge. The examinations’ launch in Bendigo is an acknowledgement of the work of the club’s veterinarian Dr Kath McIntosh, who proposed post-race endoscopic examinations and then helped develop the concept with HRV General Manager-Integrity Brent Fisher. Mr Fisher said stewards would be provided with full details of those endoscopic examinations that were conducted by the veterinarians and these would be included in the stewards’ reports.    Notwithstanding Harness Racing Australia rules that apply to a horse’s nostrils, there will be no action taken on voluntary post–race scoping results unless a substantial trachea problem is evident that may require clearance by the stable veterinarian.  There will be more information provided to the Industry prior to the commencement date, but anyone seeking information can contact the HRV Integrity Department on (03) 8378 0222. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness racing horse breeder Joe Aquilina is proof that persistence pays off. Last week one of his horses won the Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic for Three Year-Old Fillies, the breeder’s first Group 1 win in more than 40 years involved in the sport. Fling About held on to claim the $50,000 race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, with Joe’s close friend Eddie Conroy in the driver’s seat. The Group 1 winner is a third generation trotter, with Joe also breeding and racing her grandma, About Square, and her mum, Squaring About, which is in foal alongside her sister in the paddock at Joe and wife Thelma’s Deniliquin property. The couple moved to the area about a year ago after selling their Melton property and giving away a couple of horses to close friends. One of those was Fling About. ‘‘We sold our property at Melton to a developer and bought a property at Deni (Thelma has a lot of family in the local area),’’ Joe said. ‘‘I gave the horse (Fling About) to Eddie (Conroy) but Eddie had a bad horse accident which almost killed him, so he gave the horse to (trainer) Fred Spiteri on the one condition that he would be the driver. ‘‘You could see how happy Eddie was (with the win) when he punches the air after passing the post. Eddie lost a close family member, Bob Conroy, who’s a legend of the industry, less than a week before the race. ‘‘Eddie and I have been involved in the industry together for close to 20 years, so I was really happy for him. I was pretty happy, too. ‘‘My father was also involved in the industry, even before he came to Australia from Malta.’’ Friday’s win was equally as exciting for Spiteri and Conroy, with Fling About’s thrilling salute their first Metropolitan winner. The Home Grown Classics were created for horses who have won less than $10,000 in their career, and this was Fling About’s third win in six starts and the best of her career to date. ‘‘I thought I’d done enough when we hit the line but I know (race caller) Dan Mielicki is pretty good in a photo, so I had my ears pricked and when I heard him that’s when there was a bit of relief,’’ driver Conroy said. ‘‘You never want to go in cocky, especially with a three year-old, but aside from being a bit on edge during the pre-race circle, she’s just a lovely trotter and I was hoping that professionalism could be the difference. ‘‘It was my first Metropolitan winner so it was the right way to bring it up. I was talking to a mate ... and I just said how surreal it all is.’’ Friday’s race took shape early on with the daughter of Fling It doing just that and spearing across to the fence as the two race favourites made early mistakes. Conroy was able to control the race through the middle stages before he pinched a march off the back and held the late charge of Angels Breath and Shield Maiden. The win again proved that anybody can compete on the biggest stage regardless of what level of the industry you are involved in. ‘‘It’s not just the fact that we’ve won a Group 1 race; I’ve been Fred’s (Spiteri) farrier for a long time and we’ve raced horses with Joe before so it means a lot to everyone,’’ Conroy said. ‘‘We usually have horses where there’s not too much to do, you look for a T0 or a T1 the week after you run but I think Freddy (Spiteri) will sit down with the Harness Racer and map out a plan for her now. I think she’ll go for a little break.’’ It’s the incredible story that almost never was. Conroy was keen to downplay the accident which almost claimed his life just over a year ago. ‘‘I had a horse fall on me when I was riding it and it did some damage to my leg; long story short I ended up with internal bleeding and collapsed,’’ Conroy said. ‘‘I had lost something like eight litres of blood from my body and we only have about nine. ‘‘I ended up in intensive care for three or four days. In one way I was very unlucky and in another way I was incredibly lucky but it’s not something I really dwell on.’’ Conroy made the trip to Deniliquin earlier this week to celebrate the victory with his good mate, and the pair are looking forward to watching their Group 1 winner’s future unfold, and hopefully that of her sibling when it arrives next year. ■ Some of the words provided by Blake Redden from Harness Racing Australia. By Sam Hall Reprinted with permission of The Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Cobram and District Harness Racing Club will celebrate the new year with a $60,000 joint funding package supported by the Victorian Government. Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp recently announced the government would contribute more than $29,000 to support next month’s Cobram Pacing Cup and two infrastructure projects at the Cobram Recreation Reserve. Infrastructure improvements at the Cobram Recreation Reserve include a new head-on camera to improve vision in the home straight for stewards and an upgrade of the owners’ room facilities. Both projects are expected to be completed in the first half of 2018. Harness Racing Victoria is contributing almost $15,000 towards the new camera and the Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club is providing more than $1300 for the owners’ room upgrade. The club is contributing more than $11000 to the race day event, while generous local businesses are providing an additional $3600. The Cobram Pacing Cup is set to offer something for all the family, with entertainment including a live performance by Irish band Killing Time and a Fashions on the Field competition. For the children, there will be face painting, a jumping castle, mobile zoo, pony trots and free icy poles. The first 250 women through the gate will be given a complimentary ticket to the club’s Community Pink Ribbon Ladies Day race meeting on June 3, which helps raise awareness of breast cancer Club secretary Bob Watson said the funding would help maintain the quality club members and visitors were accustomed to. ‘‘We’re very grateful for the Victorian Government’s support for our biggest race day of the year and the delivery of important upgrades to our track facilities,’’ Watson said. ‘‘We invite everyone in the region, young and old, to mark this day of fun country harness racing in their calendar.’’ Gepp said the Cobram Pacing Cup was a great opportunity for the local community and holidaymakers to come together for a day of quality harness racing. ‘‘We’re delighted to support the Cobram and District Harness Racing Club because the country racing industry makes a vital economic contribution to our region,’’ he said. By Courier Cobram Reprinted with permission of The Riverine Herald

Lightning Mile night at Ballarat was billed as a showdown between rising star Moonrock and a most talented field in the night’s harness racing feature but most left the track talking about an entirely different race. It wasn’t the flying mile but the standard sprint trip of 1710 metres where the sparks were flying with progressive gelding Beach Surge smashing the track record in an indomitable display. Rushing the gate in a 27.8sec first quarter, there was no stopping as they ran even fractions for each quarter of the final mile. In a twist of fate the previous track record holder was also owned by Richard Matthews with The Culture holding a benchmark of 1:53.0. That was well and truly bettered by the four-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere as he stopped the clock in 1:51.7. The win had more than a few people singing the praises of Beach Surge on social media with it becoming clear he’s a star on the rise in his own right. Trainer Andy Gath is happy to let his horse do the talking in the short-term at least. “What he did last night was pretty exceptional,” Gath said. “We know he is really well-bred and he does have the right attributes. “He is a big strong horse; he is well gaited and has early speed.” All that and more was on show when he burnt early and still had the plugs in when crossing the line a tear away victor. Being in his last year of age-restricted racing there is the obvious lure of throwing him into the deep-end but that will very much be dependent on just what the landscape looks like in a month or two. “Ultimate Machete and Vincent are at the head of a pretty smart crop of four-year-old’s,” Gath said. “It does make it tough when that’s the level you have to measure up to but we would probably look at a race like the Bonanza because it’s in our backyard.” Any further than that right now may just be pie in the sky. The Long Forrest horseman noting that he can still get excited on raceday and isn’t the best traveler. There is however a lot of water to go under the bridge before a race like the Chariots Of Fire rolls around and plenty can change. For now though, Beach Surge will tackle a $10,000 C2-3 at Kilmore Friday night where he has drawn the front row and looks the horse to beat again. “It’s probably not ideal backing him up quickly after the last win but the race is there and he seems well,” Gath said. Blake Redden

Trots owners will be given the red carpet treatment across Victorian trots racetracks following a renewed push by the State Government and the Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club. Facilities will be upgraded to enhance the race day experience for owners, with the State Government’s Victorian Racing Industry Fund investing $35,207 in funding to upgrade owners’ areas at Ballarat, Cobram, Geelong, Gunbower, St Arnaud and Yarra Valley tracks. The Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club has tipped in a further $25,182 and the clubs will also invest to facilitate $70,414 worth of upgrades. Club president Emmy Mazzetti said the funding would ensure owners had better experiences on track. “Every track will have a designated facility where the owners can go,” Mr Mazzetti said. “It makes a huge difference and clubs appreciate the funding.” Improvements include new carpet at Cobram, new bar stools and tables at St Arnaud, white plastic fencing to create an outdoor owners’ enclosure at Gunbower, new carpet, blinds and renovation of the ceiling at Geelong, the introduction of a bar and air conditioning at Yarra Valley and the Ballarat Draught room will be redeveloped with new carpet, televisions dedicated to race replays and a pizza oven. “Owners are the lifeblood of the sport and have to be looked after,” Mr Mazzetti said. “We want to get more owners involved and we want more owners to join the VHRSC and enjoy the benefits we offer.” HRV ownership manager Tori Glenister congratulated the State Government, VHRSC and country clubs for their continued support of key stakeholders. “The industry is pulling as one to ensure owners get the best race day experience and with the support of these key partners we can make sure participants can own the moment wherever their horse runs,” Ms Glenister said. To get involved in trots ownership visit www.trotsownthemoment.com.au. For more information about the VHRSC log on to www.vhrsc.com.au. Trots Media

A Victorian harness-racing trainer has been arrested by police as part of a criminal investigation. The Herald Sun has been told the inquiry is looking into allegations of race fixing from several years ago. Detectives from the Victoria Police sporting integrity intelligence unit executed two warrants in central Victoria on Tuesday. The searches were made on properties in the Bendigo area. A Victoria Police spokesman said a 60-year-old man was arrested and interviewed and has been released pending summons. That man has been a harness-racing trainer for decades. “The investigation remains ongoing,” the police spokesman said. A harness-racing figure connected to the properties declined to comment when contacted by the Herald Sun. “I’ve got no comment at all,” he said. Victoria Police set up the sporting integrity intelligence unit in 2013 amid heightened corruption concerns. It has previously run significant investigations into fixing in harness-racing. By Leo Schlink and Mark Buttler, Herald Sun Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun  

Former Kiwi pacer Stroke Of Luck is the Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup champ for 2017 after an all-the-way win in today’s harness racing feature for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old son of Major In Art/Bonton Lady was heavily backed into $1.6 and held off second-placegetter Keep On Rocking at the completion of the 2150-metre race, with Coldplay Road up from three-back-the-pegs for third. Manning rated the Merv and Meg Butterworth-owned winner of seven races in New Zealand a treat, guiding him through a 62.3secs first half after copping some early heat to hold the front. Stroke Of Luck upped the ante down the back straight as Spiritwriter challenged strongly (28.7secs third quarter) and got home in 27.9secs to rate 1:58.3. Keep On Rocking was given the perfect trip by Nathan Jack and the Geoff Webster-trained five-year-old comfortably held second place, while Julie Mifsud-trained Coldplay Road continued his super form with a third placing for reinsman Phillip Walters. Animated finished fourth and Spiritwriter was fifth. Stroke Of Luck’s win means the Trots Country Championship is now a five-way tie with Lennytheshark, San Carlo, Messini and My Field Marshal all alongside today’s victor on four points in the race for the $25,000 end-of-season bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Pocket rocket secures Caldows third St Arnaud Trotters Cup John Caldow won his third St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup today aboard six-year-old gelding My Skypocket. Backed into $1.80 favourite, My Skypocket stepped safely from behind the tapes at the 2520-metre start before powering to the lead early. The son of Skyvalley out of Pocket Fantasy ran quarters of 31.6 and 31.4 to open the last mile on the 800m St Arnaud track and Caldow was looking around for his challengers after a 29.2secs third split. Video: Re-live My Skypocket's St Arnaud Trotters Cup win Ainthatrightmacca boldly emerged wide out and powered into second place, but My Skypocket had plenty in reserve and kicked on through a 29.7secs last quarter for a 2.2m win in a mile rate of 2:06.0.   It was My Skypocket’s eighth career triumph, his career stake earnings edging towards $50,000 as a result of the victory. It was also the trotter’s first start for the Caldow operation, having done all his prior racing for the Mick Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy stable. Today’s win was the third time Maree and John Caldow have captured the St Arnaud squaregaiting feature, having previously won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with Posimistic. My Skypocket moves to equal first on the Maori's Idol Points Tally alongside Sparkling Success, Vincennes and Cyclone Lucky Seven. The Maori's Idol Points Tally at season's end receives a $10,000 bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Yarra Valley Racing will celebrate 70 years of harness racing at its ‘Trots Tradition’ race day next Tuesday, 7 November, thanks to a $78,000 boost supported by the Andrews Labor Government. The Labor Government is contributing more than $30,000 from the Victorian Racing Industry Fund for the event and Yarra Valley Racing is providing more than $48,000. The Trots Tradition is an annual family-friendly race day which includes rides, supervised games and activities for kids, musical entertainment and giveaways. Racegoers will be entertained with live music throughout the day by several groups including the Hurricane Duo. The Fashions on the Field competition, with almost $10,000 of prizes on offer, will be popular with fashionistas. A big screen will broadcast all the Melbourne Cup action from Flemington. Complimentary return buses will transport racegoers safely to the track from Lilydale Station. The Healesville Trotting Club held its first race meeting at Healesville Racecourse on 17 January 1948. To celebrate the occasion, a collection of historical memorabilia from past race meetings will be on display at this year’s event. Since 2014, the Labor Government has provided more than $180,000 to support harness racing at Yarra Valley, including $50,000 for two infrastructure projects and $130,000 for four RAP events. The racing industry in the outer Melbourne region generates more than $375 million for the Victorian economy annually and helps sustain more than 13,590 full-time equivalent jobs locally. Quotes attributable to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula “Melbourne Cup Day is an iconic event on Victoria’s racing and social calendar, and the Yarra Valley provides a scenic backdrop for people wanting to enjoy a great day at the trots.” “We’re proud to get behind this family-friendly event as part of ongoing efforts to support racing at Yarra Glen.” Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes “This is a fantastic event which will draw thousands to the Yarra Valley and deliver a welcome boost to the local economy.” Quotes attributable to Yarra Valley Racing CEO Brett Shambrook “We thank the Victorian Government for its contribution to an amazing day spent with family, friends, a picnic rug, entertainment and a great atmosphere.” “We encourage people across Melbourne and Yarra Valley to come down for a great day at the trots on the most iconic day in Victoria’s racing calendar.” Holly Little 0437 381 620 | Holly.Little@minstaff.vic.gov.au

He Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club (VHRSC) is thrilled to announce that 81 $1,500 VHRSC Bonus Races will be on offer this season. This represents an additional $120,000+ bonus prizemoney on offer to Owners. The bonus races will be run at 22 different racetracks across Victoria and the VHRSC greatly appreciates the ongoing support of the Country Clubs who support the scheme. In addition to the $1,500 bonuses this year, VHRSC will also be offering 29 additional $500 “Mini” bonuses throughout the season.  We strongly encourage all owners to be Members of VHRSC to qualify for these bonuses. To ensure your horse is eligible to win a bonus, if your horse has 2 or more owners listed, you just need two of the owners to be Full Members of VHRSC. There is no limit to how many bonuses your individual horses can win throughout the season. The VHRSC continues to be extremely proud to be able to continue to support Harness Racing Ownership in providing these bonuses for Owners throughout the state each year.  CLICK HERE FOR BONUS RACE DATES In addition to the fabulous bonus offering, VHRSC embarks on some exciting plans this season which will include our continued involvement and hospitality for Members at Tabcorp Park Melton, our premier metropolitan harness racing track. The new season will also see us have more involvement with our Country Clubs, providing capital funding for enhancement of on course owner/member facilities and the introduction of additional hospitality/networking opportunities throughout the state for our Members. To view the membership packages please go to http://www.vhrsc.com.au/membership-packages Full Membership with VHRSC is available at the fabulous rate of only $121. Check the following page for details of all Bonus Races for Season 2017/18. (Please note – dates for the $500 “Mini” bonuses will be released on our website in the coming weeks.) The Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club

Who could forget the night Caribbean Blaster came from widest on the second row to cause a harness racing boilover in the Victoria Cup? It was 15 December, 2012, at Tabcorp Park Melton, and driver Kate Gath delivered Caribbean Blaster connections and husband trainer Andy Gath an early Christmas present with an absolute jewel of a steer. And her salute at the post was priceless. “… Kate put him in exactly the right spot and his finishing burst was special,” Andy Gath beamed post-race. “Obviously I was initially disappointed with the barrier draw (13) but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, his speed is sensational and he follows pace so well. “I thought he would win at the home turn, when he made his run with Im Themightyquinn I was confident he could get over the top of him, it was a very gratifying victory.” West Australian star Im Themightyquinn shot away from the mobile to lead for Gary Hall Jr, confirming the natter pre-race. Pressure came in the form of The Gold Ace and Tony Herlihy into the first bend but ‘Quinny’ held the front. Initially Terrorway for Andy McCarthy had landed one-by-one, but as soon as ‘Quinny’ signalled his intention to hold out the Ace, McCarthy went whoosh three-wide and shimmied to the lead unchallenged. When the lead time was semaphored at 41.9, Andy Gath must have been smiling. That’s smoking! Speaking of, the superstar from Lance Justice’s camp, Smoken Up, then made his run three-wide with over a lap and a quarter to go. Justice urged tough ‘Trigger’ up outside of Terrorway and Washakie, the latter booting up in the chair at the thousand for driver John McCarthy. It was fair dinkum on. An interesting sidenote, John McCarthy had three runners in this race, the leader Terrorway, the breeze horse Washakie and Franco Jamar back in the field. Meanwhile, Caribbean Blaster was three horses back in the three-wide train, and, you’d have to say, well placed given the hot fractions. A 30secs first split and a 28.7secs second meant Caribbean’s pre-race $30.40 odds had surely been blasted into single digits. Off the back in 29.2secs and Smoken Up was under pressure to chase down the leader. Washakie was basically in reverse. Gonzo. ‘Quinny’ angled away from the inside and pushed three-wide into the clear, while Caribbean Blaster loomed like a thunderstorm for punters who’d taken the shorts about the favourite (‘Quinny’ was $1.6). The WA pacer did hit the front, but only fleetingly. Kate said go and her son of Bettor's Delight put ‘Quinny’ to the sword, resulting in the Gaths adding a Victoria Cup to their trophy cabinet alongside the A.G. Hunter Cup won by About To Rock six years prior. Mah Sish poked through along the inside late to snare second place ahead of Im Themightyquinn; the final quarter covered in 28.5secs. Caribbean Blaster recorded a mile rate of 1:53.7. “He was just a lovely horse to work with. You get to spend so much time with them one-on-one. Every time they step on to the track they go to war for you. They’re the sorts of horses that actually make me look good,” Andy Gath said years later of Caribbean Blaster. Caribbean Blaster is nowadays establishing himself in the breeding barn. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Shepparton horseman Mark Pitt has had some good days and nights in the sulky during the past two or three years and last Friday night’s Melton harness racing meeting was right up there with the best of them. Pitt landed a driving treble — his first metropolitan hat-trick — which included the $50000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown final for three-year-old fillies with a pacer close to his heart, Shez All Rock. The Emma Stewart-trained Shez All Rock is owned by Pitt’s parents Ian and Leanne. A Rock N Roll Heaven filly, Shez All Rock had trots fans in awe when she won her heat on debut at Bendigo in scorching 1:53.7 mile rate time. She was too good again for her rivals in the final last Friday night, rating 1:55 and beating Soho Burning Love, Seattle Trace with the local hope, the Brent Thomson-trained, Sheer Modern filling fourth placing. Signs were promising early that Pitt could be in for a good night when he drove the Amanda Turnbull-trained Carter Bromac to victory in the opening event. After completing the driving double on Shez All Rock in the feature he then completed the hat-trick on the Dean Braun-trained Carlas Pixel. The win of Carlas Pixel also completed a hat-trick for the Courage Under Fire mare who had won at her previous two starts at Geelong and Melton when also driven by Pitt. “I’ve had a treble at Bendigo and I have driven four winners at meetings at Albury and Wagga, but this is the first treble I’ve had at Melton,’’ Pitt said. Pitt’s partner Lisa Bartley also enjoyed a win at the meeting, reining the extra-smart Majordan to victory which completed a training double for Turnbull. Majordan has now won five of his last eight starts with Bartley in the sulky for two of these wins. Pitt and Bartley are now preparing a team of 11 horses at Ross Pyke’s training establishment at Lemnos near Shepparton. Back on top of game Star pacer San Carlo did not take long to return to doing what he does best — winning. The Steve O’Donoghue-trained and Bec Bartley-driven seven-year-old, who lost no admirers when he finished third at his previous start to the well-performed Ameretto and Tee Cee Bee Macray at Melton, had an effortless win at Bendigo last Saturday night in a C6 or better class race, taking his record to 18 wins in 21 starts. Bartley gradually worked San Carlo to the front and he was never threatened after that, rating 1:56.2 for the 2150m trip. O’Donoghue is aiming the exciting pacer at the $200000 Victoria Cup on October 14 at Melton, but will look for a suitable race to top off his preparation in the build up to that feature. Perth Inter Dominion plans are also still on San Carlo’s agenda, all going well, O’Donoghue said. ‘‘He is down a bit in the noms (order of preference to get a run) at the moment, but we’ll just have to see what happens.’’ Kima’s on a roll There is an old Aussie saying that goes ‘‘you can’t keep a good woman down’’. It may not be as fashionable in Sweden as it is here, but it’s certainly applicable to one of its own at the moment. Swedish horsewoman Kima Frenning has been making her presence felt since adding driving to her monte riding in the past few months and continues to chalk up the winners. Frenning reined Epaulette to victory for trainer David Aiken with a patient drive in an M1-M2 class event at Melton last Friday night and then partnered another Aiken-trained pacer, Ima Rocknroll Diva, to victory the following night at Bendigo. A seven-year-old Four Starzz Shark gelding Epaulette has been around a bit with 60 starts in Queensland and NSW before coming south to join the Aiken barn. Epaulette was having just the fourth outing for Aiken but had 17 wins before coming south. Frenning had Epaulette locked away four back on the pegs and he stormed home along the sprint lane to claim victory. Epaulette’s dam French Flair is by the former great pacer Preux Chevalier. Ima Rocknroll Diva was having her fifth outing and has now won successive races after winning at her previous start at Shepparton on August 31. Well worth the miss Kyabram trainers have had another good week. Mark Watson even gave up watching his beloved Kyabram Bombers reserves and thirds football teams book their spot in Sunday’s GVL grand finals to take two pacers to Swan Hill. It ended up being a big day with one of his pacers, Recork, saluting and his other runner, Fleeting Grin running third. Both were driven by Watson’s brother Luke. Another mad Kyabram footy fan and trots trainer Graham Lyon was in the winners’ circle at Kilmore on Monday with five-year-old pacer Mana Master notching his third win from 19 tries. Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson had Mana Master take the sit on the pacemaker before sprint laning to victory. Places has the paces Pacer Hes Going Places certainly went places — and fast — at Bendigo last Saturday night. Trained at Lancaster by Rod Woods Sr and raced by family members Hes Going Places ran his rivals off their legs in an 1150m dash for RO Only class pacers. Driver Chris Alford utilised Hes Going Places’ barrier one draw over the extra short trip and sent him straight to the front where he dictated terms in 1:54.7 mile rate time with a 57.2 last half. Although a seven-year-old entire Hes Going Places, who is by Totally Ruthless, was having just his ninth race start. Prior to breaking his duck at Bendigo he had run four minor placings, including two of these at his last three starts, which convinced punters he was overdue for a win and they sent him out a $2.30 favourite. Dream run continues Shepparton pacer A Special Dream can’t do much wrong at the moment. The seven-year-old warrior of 121 starts is racing in career best form and has not missed a top three placing in his last nine starts with three wins included in this formline. A Special Dream’s latest win was achieved at Monday’s Kilmore meeting when he was driven to victory in a C1 Only class race for concession drivers by Ryan Duffy. Duffy drove a patient race in the six-horse field, settling three back on the pegs before pushing through gaps which opened up turning for home to get into clear running. A Special Dream did the rest, running all over his rivals in the concluding stages. Ryan Duffy has now driven A Special Dream to his last three wins and has been on the pacer for five of his six placings. It’s a real family affair with Ryan’s father Steve training the pacer which was bred by Sharon Britten and is owned by her and her mother Lorraine Duffy and Bryan Johnstone. Rocking along nicely The David Aiken-trained pacer Hot To Rock reached a monetary milestone with his win at Monday’s Kilmore meeting. The Rocknroll Hanover five-year-old took his prizemoney earnings to more than $50000 with the win, the seventh of his 41 starts. There have also been 16 minor placings. Hot To Rock was reined to an all-the-way victory by Josh Aiken who has driven the pacer to six of his wins. Lisa Bartley was aboard for the other win. Hot To Rock had his previous win several starts previously when he scored at Shepparton in early July. A Radical decision Congupna horseman Shane Gilligan’s decision to make the trip to Leeton last Friday with handy pacer Radical Art proved a wise one. Clearing her rivals from barrier five at the start Radical Art led throughout to win at odds of nearly 20/1 despite having finished third at his previous start at Shepparton on September 6. The win was achieved at the daughter of Art Major’s 50th start and broke a run of 16 starts away from the winners’ circle. Her previous win was achieved at an Albury meeting in February. Owned by Marianne Barca it was Radical Art’s fourth win, but there have also been 14 minor placings. Certainly no spoil Those punters who backed Spoilt Dillinger on the Ubet tote to win at Northam in Western Australia last Saturday night would have been gutted after the race. Spoilt Dillinger duly got the spoils and on Ubet paid just more than $11 for the win. But on the TAB he paid $99 and on the NSW tote $106. But those Ubet punters who took the fixed odds would have been content as he paid 100/1. Who will be best? David Aiken-trained superstars Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark are among finalists in this year’s prestigious Harness Racing Victoria Horse of the Year awards. The pair has been nominated in the aged pacers section in the awards with the winners to be revealed at the Gordon Rothacker Medal Night on Sunday October 22. Aiken also has a nomination, Maorisfavouritesun, in the aged trotters entires and geldings section, while Seymour horseman Bill Morgan’s star trotter Maori Law is in the field for the four-year-old trotting entires and geldings gong. Horse of the Year contenders are judged on their performances anywhere while trained in Victoria. This year’s Victorian Horse of the Year finalists are: 2YO pacing colts and geldings: Lumineer, Poster Boy, Tam Major. 2YO pacing fillies: Molly Kelly, Nostra Beach, Nostra Villa. 3YO pacing colts and geldings: Jilliby Kung Fu, Our Little General, Stars Align. 3YO pacing fillies: Miss Graceland, Petacular, Tell Me Tales. 4YO pacing entires and geldings: Dont Hold Back, Mr Mojito, Rock Of America. 4YO pacing mares: Heavens Trend, Rocknroll Magic, Whirily School. Aged pacing entires and geldings: Hectorjayjay, Lennytheshark, Major Crocker. Aged pacing mares: Ameretto, Bettor Downunder, Milly Perez. 2YO trotting colts and geldings: La Grange, Smashthemcalder, Wobelee. 2YO trotting fillies: Aleppo Jewel, Moonlight Dream, Moonshine Linda. 3YO trotting colts and geldings: Deltasun, Magicool, War Spirit. 3YO trotting fillies: Dance Craze, Kinvara Sue, Une Belle Allure. 4YO trotting entires and geldings: Conon Bridge, Enrolled, Maori Law. 4YO trotting mares: Aldebaran Eve, Into The Unknown, Red Hot Tooth. Aged trotting entires and geldings: Glenferrie Typhoon, Maorisfavouritesun, The Boss Man. Aged trotting mares: Heavenly Sister, Maori Time, Sunny Ruby. Coming up Tomorrow: Cranbourne (n). Sunday: Mildura (t). Monday: Hamilton (d). Tuesday: Ballarat (n). Wednesday: Bendigo (n). Thursday: Melton (n). Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

The charitable trots and Ballarat communities have again come out in force with dining all but selling out and auction items aplenty for tomorrow night’s Connor Clarke harness racing Fundraiser. In aid of Connor, a pony trots driver battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and his family, the Ballarat and District Trotting Club has been thrilled with the response to its function, according to club business development and marketing manager Belinda Eden. “The night will hopefully raise funding to help with the costs of his travel, medical and other on-going costs,” Ms Eden said. “We’ve been inundated with support, it’s been fantastic.” In addition to about “99 per cent” of dining packages being sold, with $10 of the $35 adult ticket benefitting the Clarke family, the club will host an auction of more than 35 items. “Everyone has been amazed about the amount of people who have thrown their support behind the night, both people locally and from as far away as Queensland. The trots community has really rallied together.” The night runs from 6-10pm, with all racegoers welcome to attend and to bid on the auction items, including items that are being live on the club’s Facebook page. It will also feature four pony trots races and a donation from Harness Racing Victoria and the pony trots community to the Clarke family. CLICK HERE FOR EVENT AND AUCTION DETAILS Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Ballarat, Saturday 09 September 2017 Form guide for Ballarat, Saturday 09 September 2017

The premier country two-year-old trotting race in Australia is without doubt the Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic and it is that time of the year again. Held at Maryborough each year, the Redwood Classic is an iconic race steeped in prestige. It attracts a big crowd and this Sunday's renewal promises to deliver. Harness Racing Victoria, the Maryborough club and the AVCHRC have once again combined to run the TAB.com.au Redwood Rattler, a chartered 'train to the trots' experience now in its second year. Last year the Rattler was a huge success with 161 people booked aboard. This year's train will carry 220 passengers, a percentage increase of 36.64%. The Rattler will also carry an extra lounge carriage and revellers are sure to be well catered for both to and from the Redwood. Past winners of the Group 1 Redwood Classic, sponsored by long-time trotting aficionado Michael Taranto of Seelite Windows and Doors, include inaugural champion Young Trouper, driven by Gavin Lang in 1986, prolific winner Dark Edge for Barry Alford in 1988, Ghia in 1991, the mighty Wagon Apollo in 1993 for Graeme Lang, Lacey Truscott in 1997 for Chris Angove, Andandon in 2000 to net Gavin Lang a second Redwood Classic trophy, Kyvalley Road for Chris Lang in 2002 – this horse won 20 out of 27 all up including two Breeders Crown trophies, Jauriol in 2004 for Chris Lang, Lord of the Gym in 2007 for John and Maree Caldow, Eljaykay Phoenix in 2014 for Team Aiken and Illawong Byron last year for Jodi Quinlan. The event is a standing-start race but is not a handicap, with starting positions drawn at random. Some fast facts to consider when you are trying to pick the winner on Sunday include: The last 5 winners are filly/gelding/filly/gelding/filly/gelding... Black Cat Claw ($71) & Our Renezmae ($9) are fillies.   Gavin Lang (One Muscle Hill $5) & Chris Alford (Wobelee $1.65) are the only multiple Redwood winning drivers in Sunday's field. Sundon has sired 4 of last 20 winners. He is the grandsire of Fend Off ($10), Tomahawk Phoenix ($61) & Wobelee ($1.65). Safely Kept has sired 2 of the last 20 winners. He is the grandsire of La Grange ($10) & Black Cat Claw ($71) on Sunday. Illawong Byron holds the Redwood race record mile rate of 2:04.4. He is a stablemate of Fend Off ($10) for @JodiQRacing Trial form from behind the tapes can give a pointer to how these juveniles might handle Sunday's standing start. Click here to view some of the key standing-start trials. TAB.com.au has fixed odds markets open for both the Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic and the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby, which is also run on Sunday at Maryborough. Race 1 at Maryborough will be 11.40am Sunday morning and the 10-race program will finish with the Alf Simons Memorial Trot at 5.07pm.  Racetrack address is 106 Chaplins Rd, Carisbrook. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Maryborough, Sunday 06 August 2017 Form guide for Maryborough, Sunday 06 August 2017

Promotions, cup programs and ownership were top of the agenda when representatives of Victoria’s harness racing country clubs attended Tabcorp Park Melton today for the 2017 Club Marketing Seminar. More than 30 attendees represented the majority of the country clubs at the seminar, which featured a range of guest speakers. Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs CEO David Brick said the forum was a chance for the clubs and Harness Racing Victoria to discuss marketing and promotions strategies for cups, feature events, industry branding and strategic initiatives. “Forums such as these are vital to developing the relationship between clubs and HRV as well as developing the knowledge of club managers and secretaries,” Mr Brick said. “Importantly the forum provides an opportunity for clubs to network and discuss and share initiatives such as syndicates, race night video promotion and social and digital media advertising.” HRV CEO David Martin, who outlined his strategy as part of the seminar, said it was fantastic to be a part of forum that “encouraged proactive discussion between our dedicated country club administrators and HRV”. “It is important as an industry we are all working together and our marketing messages are on brand, closely aligned to our strategic goals and communicated openly to our country clubs,” Mr Martin said. The seminar began with a presentation by HRV marketing staff members Ryan Stanaway and Courtney Thompson, followed by a branding and advertising presentation by Matthew Kelly of Collaborate Communications. Opportunities via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund were detailed by Mark Brett from the Office Of Racing before Tori Glenister, HRV ownership manager, discussed club syndications. Mr Martin then closed the seminar with his presentation. Ms Thompson said the seminar had been an opportunity for HRV to help ensure the clubs had the tools to succeed in their marketing and media endeavours. “HRV has an important role to play in helping the clubs enact a modern, effective and consistent marketing strategy,” Ms Thompson said. “It was great to be able to get everyone in a room and to collectively set the foundations for another successful season.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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