Day At The Track

Lisa now making her mark as a trainer

03:29 PM 05 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Lisa Justice, who recently made a successful trip to Shepparton,Harness racing
Lisa Justice, who recently made a successful trip to Shepparton

As one of the most successful harness racing reinswomen of all time, Lisa Justice seems quite content these days to be turning her interests simply to training.

And if a recent lightning visit to Shepparton in Victoria is any indication, more success is just around the corner for the accomplished horsewoman.

Justice competed with distinction as a trailblazer for women for nearly three decades from the 1980s. She is now based at Cobbitty 60 kms south-west of Sydney with her partner Michael Doltoff, who is private trainer for the highly successful Sloys Racing empire.

The pair showed their expertise with a one-two result in their hit and run visit to Shepparton, with four-year-old horse Fanning (Shadyshark Hanover-Wholelota Rosie (Classic Garry), trained by Justice, posting a runaway victory in the first race, the $7000 Guardline Security Pace. They then followed up with a second by Doltoff's Major Crisis (Art Major-Operative Ways (Presidential Ball) in race two.

Justice said while she would dearly love to return to race driving, "I think the bird may have flown".

A car accident in January 2013 left her with serious injuries including to her neck, left hand and right shoulder and she's endured a long road to recovery, with three lots of surgery to her hand alone.

"I would really like to say I'm not finished. But with all the injuries, I think my driving career is pretty much over," she said.

"It's a bit of a shame because I've driven 996 winners and it would be awesome to get to the 1000 mark. But it is what it is."

There is very little that Justice didn't achieve as one of Australia's top reinswomen, mixing it with the best in Inter Dominions, Hunter Cups and Miracle Miles, countless country cups and as a regular at metropolitan tracks in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, as well as across the Tasman.

"I think I may have been the first woman to win a Group race in New Zealand," Justice said.

"I enjoyed the Kiwi style of racing and one of my favorite memories is driving square-gaiter Lenin to a Inter heat win before running third in the final," she said.

"Racing in the Inter Dominion Trotting series was just great. I was lucky to be part of a few. Lenin also took me to a Melbourne Mile win and the prestigious Gramel in South Australia.

"Rainbow Knight was a brilliant pacer I loved driving. Thinking about his APC Championship win in Brisbane still gives me goose bumps, while Tip Top Prince was another champion horse."

While the Doltoff-Justice team came up short of the dream "double" result at Shepparton from their road trip, Major Crisis was far from disgraced, running into a smart one in Iolanta from the Mick Stanley barn.

"It was an eight-hour road trip down, but both horses travelled well and did their best," Justice said.

"One of the main reasons was to chase the Vicbred bonus with Fanning, so we got that and now I'll be able to pay for some of my surgery," she said.

"We've left Fanning with Rodney and he should be competitive for him in Victoria."

Rodney Petroff, of Lancefield, was the winning driver of Fanning

Doltoff, who is regarded as a fine judge when it comes to breeding, has been selling off some of his strong 35-member team as a fresh bunch of youngsters come through.

"We've been educating a heap and there are some nice ones among them," Doltoff said.

"While we're busy spending time educating them, it's a good practice to only race a small team," he said.

The Doltoff stable is most excited with smart filly Keep Rockin, while Let's Go To Brazil is another with big wraps.

Justice cut her teeth as a driver at Adelaide's Globe Derby Park, and in her SA hometown Inter Dominion in 1997, I'll never forget how close she was to snatching victory with Rainbow Knight at huge odds. Brian Hancock sent Our Sir Vancelot to the front in a rush early and dashed away with a big advantage turning for home. Justice had all kinds of bother trying to get in the clear and perhaps had an opening appeared a bit earlier, the record books may have shown a different result.

For the past 10 years, she has been working with Ranvet, concentrating on horse nutrition in both harness racing and thoroughbred circles.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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