THE Indigenous Drivers Series has kicked off - with Albury hosting the first heat as part of NAIDOC Week.
Hunter Valley reinsman Danny Gibson kept his strong standing in the series, taking out the first heat with an all-the-way win behind Madame Annie, who was trained by Robert Walters in the HRNSW & TABCORP Menangle Indigenous Drivers Heat.
Danny Gibson, who won the 2014 Indigenous Drivers Series, was the first to receive his invite to contest the 2019 Final at Menangle on October 27.
Further heats will be conducted at Parkes on August 11, Young on September 13 and Tamworth on October 2.
It was also good to see Bruce O'Brien, who won the inaugural series back in 2011, competing.
EXTERMINATE backed up his win at Tamworth on June 27 with a win at Menangle last Saturday night - producing a mile rate of one minute 55.3 seconds for 1609 metres in the Allied Express Pace.
Exterminate will be contesting the Randall Green Pace, from the five barrier, at Menangle on Saturday night. He will have to match it with the likes of Inter Dominion winner Tiger Tara, The Bus and western districts pacer Ned Pepper - who has three wins on the trot.
"He is in a much harder race on Saturday night, and it is a big step up for him. But he has a big heart and he will be trying," said reinsman Dan Morgan.
Last Saturday, Exterminate shot out of the seven barrier to hold the lead.
"On paper, there was not much gate speed. So we elected to roll forward and it worked out pretty good," Morgan said.
"Although I did think Captain Rockey (Darren Grant) was our main danger speed wise."
Morgan was right, as Exterminate and Captain Rockey matched motors out of the gate - with Captain Rockey taking the run behind Exterminate.
"I was confident going in to the race at Menangle after his win at Tamworth, which was pretty good," said Morgan.
In that Tamworth race, Exterminate beat Narrabri pacer Kid Montana by a head.
"Kid Montana (Chris Shepherdson) is flying at the moment so we felt confident going into Menangle," said Morgan.
"[Trainer] Michael [Osborne] was happy with how the horse went - he has done a good job with him, keeping him up at a good level for so long."
Exterminate is trained at Kitchener by Osborn and is raced by Peter Witcom, with Morgan having three wins behind the seven-year-old gelding at Menangle.
THERE is plenty of harness racing action this weekend, with Queensland having their winter carnival including the $100,000 Group 1 Garrard's Sunshine Sprint on Saturday night.
That race has attracted Our Uncle Sam and Holy Camp Clive, from the Chris Frisby stables at Bathurst, as well as the Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy combination with Alta Orlando, Cullenburn and Cash N Flow.
But the main danger will be Queenslander Colt Thirty One, from the Grant Dixon stables, who will be looking for his sixth win on the trot.
The $100,000 Queensland Oaks will also feature on the big night of racing at Albion Park.
There is also a Newcastle meeting on Saturday night and a Dubbo meeting on Sunday afternoon.
Harness racing will return to the Tamworth Paceway on Thursday, July 25.