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Harness Central

Harness Central is an Australian Harness Racing news website operated by Nathan Brehaut, offering both the latest news and harness racing pictures.

Feel free to view our up to date tips and harness racing picks on one of Friday night’s Harold Park races by clicking HERE.

Harness Central also has three horses to follow from each commentator around Australia posted on our ‘Caller’s Box’ page which can be viewed by clicking HERE.

For breeding information and news please visit our ‘Breeding Corner’ by clicking HERE.

For all links to do with the harness racing and standardbred racing world please click HERE.

Our photo gallery offers several photos and harness racing pictures from feature meetings from all over the Australian harness racing scene, this is updated regularly and can be visited by clicking HERE.

To submit any latest news or interesting photos from around the traps please e-mail Nathan Brehaut.

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SA HARNESS HIGHLIGHTS 23RD JULY

Early Squeeze Leads to Victory

Val Billinger has three Southern Cross trophies displayed proudly at his Globe Derby home. All three are etched with the name of his former star pacer Hes A Corka who became just the second horse - after Thorninmyside - to win all three age categories of the Southern Cross Series.

After Saturday night’s Globe Derby meeting, Billinger can place a fourth award on the mantle when his classy filly Same Action stormed away with the two-year-old fillies Alabar Southern Cross Final.

Same Action, a full sister to Vicbred and Kilmore Cup placegetter Dominator Stride, was bred by David Sharpe and purchased by Val Billinger and James Smith at the 2006 SA Yearling Sale. A $5,000 investment has returned 10-times that much with the Alabar Southern Cross Final cheque taking her stakes surging past the $50,000 mark.

The race was won by driver Mark Billinger when he surged through from the second row to beat David Harding on Go Girlfriend for the spot outside the leader before working to the lead. Billinger controlled the race from the point before Same Action ran away over the final quarter to record a 16-metre victory, the fifth of her 10 start career.

Wouldnt It Be Nice, trained and Gawler River by Greg Norman, and the Kevin Brough-trained Go Girlfriend filled the minor placings.

Mark Billinger partnered Hes A Corka to his three Southern Cross wins for his father Val, however the win of Same Action was his fifth success in the Series after also winning on Law for George Gilbert in 2000.

Mildura Pacer in the ‘Zone’

Just one month ago, Alzona was one of the best maiden two-year-olds in this part of the country. Following a second to Lend Us A Score in an Alabar Southern Cross heat on June 16, Alzona had placed at seven of his eight starts – finishing fourth in the other – but had never been on the winners list.

That all changed a fortnight later when he broke the duck on his home track at Mildura, before proving the form a further two weeks after that with another victory.

Despite being trained in Mildura by Ian Watson, Alzona is South Australian owned. The son of Presidential Ball was bred by the Cormack Family, including Ben, Terry and Adam and is still raced by the trio. The Cormack’s are great supporters of the South Australian industry and an Alabar Southern Cross victory is richly deserved.

Alzona was handled brilliant by Luke Watson, who used his charges early gate speed and the fact his main dangers were drawn on the second line to surge to the lead and control the race in much the same way Mark Billinger would do later in the evening with Same Action.

Watson kept the speed genuine and used a 28.6 second third quarter, when his rivals were chasing hard, to set-up a third straight victory and the biggest of his career.

Lend Us A Score was impressive in second place while Mcgintysgoat showed great tenacity to hold third place after facing the breeze throughout.

Crawford Off The Mark

Some drivers have tasted victory at their first sit in a race sulky. Others have had to wait a few starts to enjoy the thrill of success. Due to opportunity and luck some reinsman toil away for a couple of seasons before that inaugural winner sets them on their way.

One such driver is Penfield’s John Crawford, who up until last Monday had started in over 200 races but was yet to salute the judge.

Crawford, a claiming driver, was engaged by Bolivar trainer Wayne Jacques to partner his third starter, Melpark Sunset, in the opening event on July 16. Despite starting outside the front row, Crawford drove the squaregaiter confidently by working to the breeze shortly after the start.

When the leader Saithoreign dropped out at the 500, Crawford took Melpark Sunset to the front and was never headed, running away and finishing the race off in a very professional manner to beat stablemate Fernudge by 10 metres.

3YO’s Shot at Alabar Southern Cross Dollars

With the two-year-old Alabar Southern Cross finals out of the way, the attention now turns to the older categories when the three-year-olds step onto the track at Globe Derby Park this Saturday night.

After finishing second in his only heat and severely damaging his chances of a finals berth, it now looks likely Oztreos will get a chance to defend his two-year-old crown when Boyzy was withdrawn from the series early last week.

However if he is to gain a place in the final Oztreos will have some serious competition from horses such as his recent conqueror Dumbo Jet, surprise Breeders Crown heat winner Fifty Gorillas plus Brough pair Dontwantano and That’s Our Syd.

Elysees Crest will attempt to become the first juvenile pacer to claim Sires Stakes Series on both sides of the border when she faces the starter in the fillies division. She looked to have one hand on the trophy before she was beaten as a short-priced favourite at Port Pirie last Friday night, her first defeat since a Vicbred Semi-Final in May.

The Troublemaker filly was against the older horses and was parked outside the leader throughout the event so she should relish being back in class in the Final this Saturday night. Nevertheless she will have to overcome some classy opposition in the form of fellow heat winners Saved A Corka, Mixed With A Twist, Military and Chriscott.

Both $50,000 finals look like being sensational affairs with any number of hopes in either category.

Courtesy of Neal Conder, HRSA Ltd

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SA HARNESS HIGHLIGHTS

Winning is Good Medicine for Brown

Some luck in the barrier draw was all the Kapunda-based husband-and-wife team of Terry and Peta Brown were asking for as Gunbarrel Straight searched for a much deserved win. And some luck on the track helped him secure that victory in the Sandra Hutchison 60th Birthday Bash at Globe Derby Park last Saturday night.

The six-year-old gelding won a race shorting after being purchased by a syndicate involving Terry Brown, Andrew and Bruce Dunn, Ralph Berbel and Charlie Caripi but hadn’t been sighted on the winners list since.

Nine placings ensued from Gunbarrel Straight’s 18 starts following his most recent win, including two unlucky efforts at his past two starts which both resulted in fast finishing thirds.

The gelding started from alley six at both of those previous two efforts, but drew a bit closer to the pegs with barrier eight in last weekends event. That fact, combined with the number one horse galloping at the start, allowed stand-in reinsman Ryan Hryhorec guide Gunbarrel Straight through the gaps and into prime position behind the leader.

From that spot Hryhorec stalked the leader and favourite, Nutha Lignum, before working to the outside at the turn and then running past him in the home straight.

The overdue and well-deserved victory, along with the return of Lombo Redback later in the night, will no doubt help Terry Brown’s recuperation from the broken wrist he suffered in the spectacular home-turn fall at Gawler in June.

Oztreos Outgunned by Jet

Oztreos needed to win last Saturday night’s final heat of the Alabar Southern Cross series for three-year-old colts and geldings to secure a spot in the $50,000 final which will be held in a fortnight’s time.

A number of factors looked likely to derail his defence of the title he dominated last year. The step-up in class, his fitness and his first attempt at the 11-furlong trip all threw up questions marks, but the campaign was eventually undone by the man who guided him to eight of his nine two-year-old victories, Ryan Hryhorec.

With Oztreos now in the Buttigieg camp, Hryhorec was subsequently replaced by David Harding in the sulky, but the Globe Derby reinsman picked up the steer on classy little grey Dumbo Jet which is trained at Penfield Gardens by Jayson Adams.

Dumbo Jet, a son of Jet Laag, was driven perfectly by Hryhorec who used the grey gelding from the gate to find the lead before handing up to his more favoured rival. The pair then waited for the sprint lane to present on the final lap, where they sprinted home to record a one-metre win.

Dumbo Jet has now secured his own spot in the $50,000, while the connections of Oztreos will have to wait for nominations during the week. At this point it appears that Oztreos will score the emergency spot, but if others higher up the list fail to prove their health, the star colt may still find himself contesting the final.

Southern Cross Finals

The first two of four $50,000 Alabar Southern Cross Finals will be set for decision next Saturday night at Globe Derby Park. The two-year-olds will face the starter this weekend while their three-year-old counterparts will contest their respective finals the following Saturday night.

Both two-year-old finals look like being even affairs, with a number of top chances in each category.

The fillies event looks particularly open with any number of hopes depending on the barrier draw. Gday Gorgeous, trained at Sheoak Log by Michael Dodd, was the first filly to qualify and has since competed in the Vicbred final. During that event she failed to run up to her known ability and hopefully the return to her home stable and a couple of weeks break will see a fully fit and firing filly.

Mark Billinger had been driving Gday Gorgeous through her South Australian starts but Michael Dodd will have to find a replacement with Billinger set to partner his Same Action which is trained by his father Val. Same Action, a full sister to Kilmore Cup placegetter Dominator Stride, has finished in the first two in all but one of her nine starts and will take some beating in the Alabar Southern Cross decider.

Mr Southern Cross, Kevin Brough, has qualified two fillies for the fillies final in Go Girlfriend and Great Xample. No trainer has won more Southern Cross titles than the Heywood horseman and he looks well placed to add another trophy to the cabinet this year.

Go Girlfriend, one half of the Brough attack, is a daughter of a former Southern Cross winner Notso Cheap. The filly has developed a liking for the Globe Derby circuit with all three of her career wins at the South Australian headquarters.

Brough will also harness Petes Elect in the colts and gelding division. Petes Elect is from a family steeped in Southern Cross history. He was bred by South East breeders Peter and Lesley Medhurst from their mare Roses In Paris, which makes him a half brother to Southern Cross winners Catch A Bouquet and Thorninmyside – the latter a three time winner.

But, unlike last seasons series, the final looks wide open with a number of chances emerging in the past few weeks.

Top chances include Move In Silence, who secured his finals berth with a debut win for Joe Buttigieg and has subsequently been placed in his second start at Terang.

Wunlastchance is an erratic but talented pacer and will also be a winning hope if he arrives on course with his best manners.

Lend Us A Score looked like having a mortage on the final when he easily won the Graduate Pace earlier in the year, but had has shown an unreliable nature in his past two starts, including last week at Globe Derby Park where he broke at barrier dispatch before choking down and being pulled up.

Mcgintysgoat will also be a popular elect if he can return to his form from earlier in the year, while Alzona and Shadows Of A Man will also have their share of support if the barriers are drawn to suit.

Courtesy of Neal Conder, HRSA Ltd

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WARRAGUL HARNESS THIS THURSDAY

There will be eight events at Warragul's harness racing meeting this Thursday afternoon.

First is due at 12:33pm, and two semi-finals of the Eastern Zone Grand Slam series for three-year-old pacers will be conducted.

Both races have attracted strong entries, Dolcezza possibly the favourite for the final, run at Kilmore next week, at this stage.

Dolcezza does have to overcome an awkward barrier draw at Warragul, however.

Both semi-finals boast plenty of up-and-coming talent.

There are several small fields on Thursday but racing should still be keen.

The Trotters Handicap has drawn a near capacity field, with runners handicapped across 40 metres.

Local horse Blue Rock won't be running, after his track record breaking win at the last Warragul meeting.

But his full brother, Imaxfield, who is a pacer, will be making his debut for the Chris Hunter stable in the second race.

And Warragul trainer Jenny Lewis will have her first race drive in the third event with her horse, Garrys Gem.

Courtesy of Warragul Harness Racing Club

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SA HARNESS HIGHLIGHTS

Chances Pay Off

Peter and Amanda Tidswell finally received some reward for the patience they have shown in their two-year-old pacer Wunlastchance.

The Tidswells, who train at Roseworthy, have given the colt plenty of chances after his manners cost him early career success, but his ability finally outweighed his behaviour at Port Pirie last Friday night when he qualified for the Alabar Southern Cross Final with a one and a half metre victory.

Wunlastchance, a son of Hunter Cup winning sire Safe And Sound, was placed out of the draw at his first start and has struggled with the score-up since. Despite this he looked at winning hope at his previous start before breaking gate at the 600 metre mark and ruining his chances.

Even in Friday nights success, Wunlastchance ran himself up the track rounding the home turn before unleashing an impressive finishing burst and beating home the Ryan Hryhorec-trained pair of Lorden and Wide Load.

Peter and Amanda Tidswell bred Wunlastchance along with Kevin Checker, Paul Arnup, Andrew Kuliwaba and Stephen Badman, but now own him themselves. The pair have resisted the temptation to have their charge gelded in the hope they can harness his talent and transfer it into racetrack accomplishments.

Wunlastchance will now take his place in the $50,000 Alabar Southern Cross Final at Globe Derby Park on July 21, where he will figure as a big chance if he can do everything right.

Stars Back In Style

At Globe Derby Park last Saturday night, through wet and windy weather, South Australian harness racing fans welcomed back two of last season’s stars.

Anvils A Christian, a winner at 12 of his 17 attempts in 2006, and Oztreos, the reigning SA Horse of the Year and Two-year-old of the Year both made their returns to racing last weekend in similar style.

Both horses are trained by South East fisherman Joe Buttigieg, with Anvils Just Christian joining the stable direct from New Zealand early last year and Oztreos being transferred from the Jonathon Kingston-Mayne establishment later in the year.

The former had not raced since September last year but made his way back to the winners list last week as if he had never left despite being faced with a formidable and fit opponent in Badboy Nitro.

Driver David Harding moved around the field at the 1200 when Wayne Hill made a similar move on Badboy Nitro and the two staged a two-horse duel over the final circuit. But in the home straight Badboy Nitro, who is notoriously hard to get past, could not match it with Anvils A Christian as he cruised home to register win number 14.

Later in the night, Harding was back in the Buttigieg silks to partner boom colt Oztreos. The three-year-old son of ill-fated sire Astreos had dominated the two-year-old ranks in 2006 and his return to racing was highly anticipated.

Buttigieg had selected a restricted race for his comeback, ahead of an Alabar Southern Cross heat this week, and he easily dispatched of his rivals by coasting home to record a seven-metre victory in a comfortable 2:02.1 milerate.

Oztreos has never been one to run away a win by big margins and the racetrack return served as an impressive warm-up before the serious chase for a second Southern Cross title begins this week.

Harding Watch

David Harding, chasing his second straight 150-plus season, picked up eight winners in the past week to move within four victories of the target.

A treble at Globe Derby Park last Monday was followed by a double at Port Pirie Friday night and then another treble at headquarters on Saturday night – his third such achievement in three successive metropolitan meetings – has taken his season total to 146.

The mark of 170 Harding set last season now looks in real danger of being surpassed.

Harding has also picked up quality drives on the likes of Elysees Crest and Oztreos as they march towards Southern Cross Finals later in July.

The 29-year-old reinsman could create history by becoming the first driver to claim three juvenile Southern Cross titles in the same season. It is likely Elysees Crest and Oztreos will start favourites in the three-year-old categories, while Lend Us A Score will be a main factor in the two-year-old colts and geldings.

While Harding doesn’t appear to have a top-line drive for the two-year-old fillies division, his relationship with the Kevin Brough stable could open up an opportunity after Brough qualified Great Xample last Saturday night to join stalemate Go Girlfriend on the heat winners list.

An unprecedented clean-sweep of the Southern Cross finals seems improbable, but the way Harding has dominated the local driving ranks over the past two seasons it is far from impossible.

Slippery Omen

If the wet conditions were to suit any horse at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night, you would have thought I’m Slippery When Wet to be the obvious choice.

The Kiwi-bred three-year-old, still chasing her first career win, was having her 13th start since arriving at Cavallaro’s Angle Vale stable earlier in the year.

But unfortunately for omen punters the maiden win will have to wait for another occasion as I’m Slippery When Wet could not catch the leader, Assert, and had to settle for second place.

However the filly did finish the race off well and a breakthrough win is certainly just around the corner.

Courtesy of Neal Conder, HRSA Ltd

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GLOUCESTER PARK REVIEW

BIG NIGHT FOR STEPHEN REED

Talented young reinsman Stephen Reed landed his biggest winner in harness racing when he drove Silver Tail Adda to a runaway victory in the $100,000 DBC Tender Ridge State Sires Series final for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And that superb victory was the highlight of his most successful night in the sport. He also won with Chilli Dawn and finished second with Our Mac Attack, Shellstar and Troublescene.

“It was a surreal feeling coming down the straight having a $100,000 race in the bag,” an elated Reed said after Silver Tail Adda had triumphed by 17m over Adda Vincente, with another outsider Parsons Class another length away, third.

The Sires final was a notable triumph for Albany businessman Harry Capararo, who landed the long-priced quinella and collected $75,000 in prizemoney.

Capararo, who bred Silver Tail Adda, includes the word Adda in the name of most of his pacers. Capararo is proud of his Italian heritage and Adda is the name of the river that flows through the northern Italian city of Sondrio.

Silver Tail Adda is trained at Bunbury by Frank Bonnett, who has met Capararo only once. Capararo was not at Gloucester Park to watch his smart two-year-olds land the quinella.

Bonnett’s regular stable driver, Aaron Beckett, was not in the sulky behind Silver Tail Adda because he has retired from driving, at least temporarily, to concentrate on his football career in the South-West.

The 23-year-old Reed, who had driven Silver Tail Adda only once before, for a win at Bunbury five weeks ago, did not bustle the gelding early from his wide barrier at No. 7.

Silver Tail Adda, a 9/1 chance who paid $13.60 on the tote, settled down in seventh position before Reed started a three-wide move approaching the bell where the 5/2 favourite On All Fours was leading from the 11/4 second favourite Mon Gee.

“Going into the back the last time I had a handful of horse,” Reed said. Callan (Suvaljko) was niggling at On All Fours and I thought I had him covered.

“I was a bit worried about something with a soft trip back on the fence getting out. But my horse just kept on running.”

Silver Tail Adda hit the front 300m from home and raced simply careered away from his rivals to win at a 2.1.4 rate. On All Fours, who went very fast early to get to the front from Cosmo Comet, faded to finish sixth and Mon Gee stopped to a walk and was a distant last.

Mon Gee, who had responded well to treatment for a lung infection, has been stood down to complete a satisfactory trial. The course veterinary surgeon was unable to find anything amiss with the colt. Trainer Neil Lloyd will get his vet. to further examine the colt.

Appladay, third favourite at 13/4, was trapped wide early before being restrained to the rear. When he moved forward at the bell he was forced four wide and did not threaten danger at any stage, finishing seventh.

Silver Tail Adda and Adda Vincente are by former star pacer Rich And Spoilt. Silver Tail Adda is the third foal, and the first winner, out of the Walton Hanover mare Walton Matilda, who was retired after eight starts that produced two seconds at Albany in March 1999.

Reed again played a waiting game to complete his double with 10/1 chance Chilli Dawn in the DBC junior drivers’ Stakes.

After bringing Chilli Dawn with a well-timed run from tenth at the bell, Reed said that trainer Ross Olivieri had given him great confidence before the event.

“Ross told me three weeks ago that he had a horse who would go really well in the junior drivers’ race,” Reed said. “Obviously he set Chilli Dawn for this race and she’s done the job.”

Chilli Dawn sustained a spirited burst to overhaul the pacemaker Jasper County with only 50m to travel. It was Reed’s first drive behind the mare, who now has won ten races and has been placed 18 times from 55 starts.

McRAES MATE BACK TO HIS BEST

Exciting four-year-old McRaes Mate bounced back to his best form with a stylish all-the-way victory in the DBC Ever Tender Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night and reinsman Gary Hall jun. predicted the gelding would go on to become a good winner in top-class company.

McRaes Mate’s easy win over the consistent Twice The Pleasure and Trial By Jury gave Hall and his father Gary the second leg of a driving and training treble.

They also combined to win with Roseworthy Lad and Vintage Concerto.

After starting from barrier one, McRaes Mate was never in any danger as he bowled along after a slick lead time of 36.2sec.

“I’d say he’d be better off in stronger company, sitting up” said Hall jun. who was driving the gelding for the first time in a race. “Hopefully, his best form will come when he gets up in top class and can sit up.

“He went good tonight. He’s such a genuine racehorse that he backs right off when he knows you want him to settle. He’s a pretty good little package. He drops the bit when you want him to and he fires up when you need him to.”

McRaes Mate now has won at five of his eight WA starts and he now boasts a record of 16 wins and eight placings from 31 starts for earnings of $252,539.

He was an outstanding juvenile in Victoria and New South Wales. As a three-year-old he won the $100,000 Vicbred Super Series for colts and geldings at Moonee Valley and the $35,000 Bathurst Gold Chalice as well as finishing second to Divisive in the NSW Derby at Harold Park.

Roseworthy Lad (9/4) produced a fighting effort to win the Easy For Me With DBC Stakes by a nose from Evening All.

Blackansweet led until the final 35m before he was overhauled by Roseworthy Lad, who then just held on to win from Evening All, who flew home along the pegs.

“He’s a funny horse and he’s got some lurks and perks,” Hall jun. said. Roseworthy Lad settled in ninth place before Hall dashed him forward after a lap and then had him in third place, three wide, at the bell. But he took almost the entire final lap to get up and win.

“Coming to the bell when he passed the post, he thought that was enough and I had to rate him up again,” Hall said. “And every time we hit a straight he runs out. He’s just an old horse with some tricks.”

Roseworthy Lad, a five-year-old is raced by South Australian harness racing racecaller John Jacques.

Vintage Concerto completed the Hall treble when he dashed to the front after 600m, set a solid pace and held on to beat Shellstar, who led early and then trailed the pacemaker.

The five-year-old who won the WATA Pacer of the Year award last season, has the wonderful record of 29 starts for 13 wins and 12 placings and gives every indication of developing into a Fremantle Cup prospect next season.

This was only his second start after a five-month absence during which time he underwent surgery on his nearside foreleg.

He had a bad wind gall when he came back in from the paddock and he had to have an operation on the annular ligament in the fetlock joint. It was similar operation that was performed on the Hall camp’s former champion The Falcon Strike.

MELLSOP LANDS TROTTING TRIFECTA

Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop performed the outstanding feat of preparing the first three placegetters in the DBC Family Favourites Trotters Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He drove the 2/1 favourite to victory over newcomer and 9/1 chance Drop of Gin (driven by his son Adam) and 7/1 chance Sundotcom (Colin Brown).

And for the first time in his past eight starts Mellsop had to use the whip on Sun of Zola, who fought on grandly to hold out the fast-finishing Drop of Gin by a half-length.

Mellsop was concerned when Sun of Zola, the backmarker off 30m, was in ninth place with just over 1200m to travel, with newcomer Melpark Sundown careering along in front with a 12-length lead over his nearest rival, Paparazzo.

Sun of Zola then surged forward to be third at the bell as Melpark Sundown was beginning to tire. Paparazzo got to the front at the 700m mark and Sun of Zola assumed control 530m from home.

Sundotcom loomed as a major danger on the home turn, but he broke into a gallop in the closing stages and dropped back to third behind Drop of Gin, who sustained a solid burst from eighth at the bell.

Sun of Zola has been an outstanding trotter since entering Mellsop’s stables last year. He has had 19 starts for Mellsop for 11 wins, five placings and earnings of $75,005 for owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, of Melbourne, and Murray and Sally Butterworth, of Mandurah.

The Butterworth brothers and their wives have raced only three horses (all trotters) with Mellsop.

For the Butterworths, Mellsop gave Punters Revenge 13 starts for three wins, five placings and $15,400, and Dave Star 27 starts for 12 wins, five placings and $88,040.

Mellsop is the undisputed king of trotters in WA, and his return for the Butterworths is nothing short of remarkable --- 26 wins for stakes of $178,445.

HYPOTHERMIA GIVES ELLIOTT FIRST CITY WIN

Meckering trainer Garry Elliott was rewarded for his perseverance when his five-year-old gelding Hypothermia led all the way and scored a decisive victory over outsider Our Mac Attack and smart mare Precious Maiden in the DBC Conditioned Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This gave Elliott his first city training success. And reinsman Mark Reed said that there would be further city wins in store for Hypothermia.

“Elliott has had him for a couple of years,” Reed said. “The horse has always had ability, but he’s been a bit erratic. The penny is starting to drop and he’s starting to reap the rewards.

“Hypothermia was always going to win if he led tonight. He really deserved to win last week. He did all the work and got crunched the whole race and only got beaten a head on the line. Now he’s got a few more wins in store.”

Hypothermia is out of Richfield Lady, who won at her fifth start and at her first appearance at Gloucester Park when Scott Eyre guided her to victory on May 1, 1992.

Richfield Lady had 65 starts for five wins, 13 placings and stakes of $21,486 and her first five foals ---- A Girl Named Sue, Orange Pip, I Am Colisimo, Marcelis Wallace and Hypothermia --- have all been winners.

DE CAMPO LOOKS AT THE GOLDEN NUGGET

Consistent three-year-old Captain Bluff will continue to improve, according to Andrew De Campo after he had driven the gelding to a narrow win over Walkaway Loaded in the DBC Timber Hill Pork Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“I hate making plans, but we’ll be aiming for the Golden Nugget next season,” he said.

“He’s a big, skinny, lightly-framed horse and I expect him to develop into a nice four-year-old. In the past ten weeks or so he has learnt what racing’s all about.”

After a succession of minor placings, Captain Bluff has blossomed and has won at four of his past six starts.

De Campo wound Captain Bluff up from barrier eight and sent him past Walkaway Loaded and into the lead 550m after the start.

Captain Bluff (5/1) dashed away to a two-length lead on the home turn and held on to beat the fast-finishing Walkaway Loaded by a head, covering the final 400m in a slick 28.6sec.

Chooks Reward, who started from the back line, sustained a strong three-wide run from ninth at the bell to finish a sound third, just ahead of Star of Dalvey.

RED HOT DATE CONTINUES TO SPARKLE

Brilliant four-year-old Red Hot Date took her stake-earnings to $89,010 when she gave a powerful frontrunning performance to win the DBC Talk About Taste Stakes for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trainer Aiden Warwick dashed her forward from barrier eight and she assumed control after 600m before she set a brisk pace and rated 1.57.8 in winning by a nose from Jessica Jasper over 1730m.

Warwick said that the mare was still on target to contest the $100,000 Ladyship Mile at Sydney’s Harold Park on November 23.

“The plans are to aim high, and if you fall short, so be it,” Warwick said. “We’ve pencilled in the Ladyship Mile and I think she’s got the class to go there.

“She is going along in leaps and bounds. I was really happy with her win last week, but tonight’s run was even better.

“If she can keep going the way she’s going, who knows where she will go.”

Red Hot Date has all the necessary attributes to be a class pacer. She possesses sparkling speed, she is versatile and is extremely tough.

Courtesy of Ken Casellas, WATA

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