Day At The Track

A new era in harness racing at Swan Hill

05:20 AM 21 Oct 2012 NZDT
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The Swan Hill galloping track
The Swan Hill galloping track

A new era began for harness racing in the northern part of the state, with the grand opening of the all new harness racing track situated inside the Swan Hill Racecourse on Saturday October 20, 2012.

A crowd estimated to be in excess of 5000 people were in attendance on a glorious balmy evening to witness the racing which featured the $30,000 Tooleybuc Sporting Club Nyah Pacing Cup, the $12,000 Jim Roberts Nyah Trotters Cup and the $15,000 Ian Ray Betta Home Living Swan Hill Mile and they were not disappointed.

Local Woorinen co-trainers Vice and Don Costa along with Ararat based reinsman Michael Bellman etched their name into the record books, when 4-Y-0 Blissful Hall/Shawna Hart gelding Blissful Hart greeted the judge in the first event on the program – the 3SH/Mixx FM Pace for C0 class over 1609 metres.

Starting from the extreme draw, Blissful Hart first up since June and first up for the stable, ran home strongly off a double three wide trail from last to score by 1.2 metres in a rate of 1-58.2 from Off The Chain which led on straightening after racing wide in the last lap, with Leighmont trained by Noel Watson who’s night was going to get better 1.5 metres away in third place after following the runner up throughout.

Noel Watson’s bred and raced 5-Y-0 Grinfromeartoear/Torridon gelding Saint Flash was a brilliant winner of the (Group 3) Nyah Pacing Cup for M0 or better class over 2790 metres in a mile rate of 2-02.5, recording his 19th victory in 68 race appearances.

Trained at Strathfieldsaye by Glenn Douglas and driven by brother Daryl, Saint Flash was knowhere near the tapes as the starter released the field, but quickly hit his straps only to be trapped wide, with Thats Mister Ali pinging straight to the front from barrier three and Pembrook Henry moving outside him, while Arber settled on the back of the leader.

Douglas immediately sent Saint Flash forward in an effort to park outside the leader, however Ahmed Taiba had other ideas and wouldn’t give the “death-seat” away, resulting in Saint Flash being able to drop into the prime one/one spot.

When Chris Lang Jnr elected to go forward with Jack In Flight mid-field within a lap, Douglas again asked Saint Flash for an effort and he moved forward ahead of him to eventually take over, but not without exhausting plenty of energy to do so.

The favourite Bitobliss from a 20 metre backmark was slightly slow to begin, settling at the rear before moving forward three wide to park in the open for the final circuit.

It was a two horse battle approaching the final bend as the two favoured runners raced clear, with Bluecolla Tigerpie three wide trying to make ground.

In an exciting battle to the wire, Saint Flash showing a “never say die” attitude prevailed by a half head in a sizzling final half mile of 55.4 – quarter 27.4, with Thats Mister Ali using the sprint lane for third 3.5 metres away.

Noel Watson is a former President of the Nyah Club and was highly emotional at the presentation following the race, no doubt receiving his biggest thrill on the racetrack.

Another former President of the club Jim Roberts was thrilled to present the trophy for his race – the Trotters Cup to the connections of Star Gun.

Raced and trained by Echuca’s Peter Lindberg assisted by wife Phyllis and reinsman son Steven, Star Gun a 8-Y-0 gelded son of Wagon Apollo and Reba Supreme stepped cleanly from outside the front row to assume control, a role he is rarely seen in.

Rated to perfection, Star Gun had to pull out all stops to defy a strong challenge from Our Dolly Would along the sprint lane which trailed after beginning fast to lead from barrier three, the margin a head only with Keys To The Ute (three back the markers) third. The mile rate 2-04.4.

Five year old Christian Cullen/Inasafeplace gelding Keayang Cullen was a tough winner of the Swan Hill Mile in 1-55.2.

Trained at Terang by Marg Lee and driven by nephew Glen Craven, Keayang Cullen possied mid-field in the moving line from gate two on the second line, with the local Uncle Wingnut leading easily from the pole.

Easing three wide at the bell, Keayang Cullen raced wide for the remainder of the journey, surging clear on the home turn to score by 1.6 metres in advance of the fast finishing Savesomtimetodream from last, with Because I Can using the sprint lane for third after trailing the weakening leader.

Steven Lindberg, Stephen O’Donoghue and Luke Watson took the driving and training honours for the night, each landing a double - Lindberg with Bon Jovi and Star Gun, while the O’Donoghue trained pair Twindet and Heather Castleton scored in their respective races, as did Luke Watson’s Caulonia Babe and Shegoeswhooshka.

Five year old Christian Cullen/Times On My Side gelding Bon Jovi raced and trained by Steve ran his rivals ragged in the Swan Hill Stockfeeds Pace for C1 & C2 class over 2240 metres, leading throughout from the pole in defeating They Call Me Chaos and Our Walden Bury in 1-56.9.

Twindet a 4-Y-0 Our Sir Vancelot/Two Teds mare driven by Bec Bartley led throughout to snare the $10,000 Carbine Chemicals Vicbred Platinum Country Series D Final for C0 class over 2240 metres from Longtan Liberator and Majorflex in 2-01.3, with stablemate Heather Castleton (Sundon/Anna Castleton) driven by Nathan Jack taking the Bertocchi Hams Trotters Handicap for T0 to T4 class over 2240 metres.

Stepping safely from a 30 metre mark, Heather Castleton enjoyed a sweet one/one passage for the last half of the journey before easing three wide on the home turn.

Finishing best, Heather Castleton defeated the fast finishing Earl Of Charity and Idle Suntime in a rate of 2-04.8.

Caulonia Babe (Live Or Die/Bold As Brass) led throughout in the Choice Hotels Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship (1st Heat) for C1 & C2 class over 1609 metres to score from Vee Jay Jazz and Torque Attraction in 1-58.2, while Shegoeswhooshka (Jet Laag/Last Sharon) sprint laned to nose out Union Fame and Maharaja Lombo in the Peter & Lois Coady 3-Y-0 Pace, returning a rate of 2-00.4.

On a memorable night of racing, other winners were : Island Rumba (John Ryan – Romsey) in the Laser Electrical Pace and Radiant River (Trevor Monk – Junortoun) the Tooleybuc Sporting Club Pace.

by Len BAKER

Keayang Cullen recording the fastest winning mile rate of 1:55.2 at Swan Hill:

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