Francy finish gives New South Wales victory in The Pearl

The New South Wales raiders landed the inaugural The Pearl at Melton on Saturday night.

The Pearl winning connections
The Pearl winning connections Picture: HRV

Dun Me Up Francy darted home from three back along the pegs at the corner to snatch victory from City Rockstar and Whos Watching Lily, providing Narrandera trainer Ellen Jones with a huge thrill at Victorian harness racing headquarters.

The result was the first leg of a winning double for driver Mark Pitt, who later partnered The Lost Storm to a dominant first-up success in the City of Melton Plate.

Pitt was full of praise for the four-year-old mare, who he said was unlucky not to finish closer than sixth in a heat of the series at Wangaratta on March 10.

"I thought her last start at Wangaratta in the heat was super, but unfortunately when she got clear and was hitting the line she locked wheels," Pitt said.

"I gave her a big hope tonight.

"It's great for New South Wales trainers to come up (here to Victoria), especially Ellen. We've had a great association with her over the years and let's hope it keeps continuing."

Dun Me Up Francy has now won four of her 16 career starts for earnings up over $30,000.

The Angelique Club, formed in 1994 to promote the role of women in harness racing, marked its 30th anniversary with the inaugural running of The Pearl. The race was named in honour of Pearl Kelly, Australia's first licensed reinswoman in 1916 and who once finished third in the Melbourne drivers' premiership.

The Pearl was for mares with no more than four wins and followed qualifiers at Wangaratta and Birchip.

The other highlight on Saturday night was Just Believe, who claimed his 28th victory in the City of Melton Scotch Notch Memorial.

Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars' megastar squaregaiter is now off to New Zealand for the inaugural TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12.