Day At The Track

Bold gamble leaves Terang on a high

10:00 AM 09 Sep 2020 NZST
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Terang vice president Clare Payne,Harness racing
Terang vice president Clare Payne

A longshot idea pitched by a small country Victorian harness racing club has hit paydirt.

When speculation was rife about a much-anticipated clash of Victorian superstar pacers Ride High (Clayton Tonkin) and Lochinvar Art (David Moran), the go-ahead Terang Harness Racing Club in the Western District chanced its arm on a bid to bring the clash to fruition.

The typically, close-knit and friendly rural township of about 2000 people, set the stage for the harness heavyweight contest, upping the ante at their first-ever Metropolitan class meeting by adding some home-grown sweeteners to the kitty.

Local support and donations pushed up the stakes on offer from $20,000 to $30,000, but while both superstars were nominated for the Christians Bus Gammalite Pace at Terang on Saturday night, when fields were released yesterday, only Ride High was among the eight runners.

But far from being disappointed, Terang Vice President Clare Payne is ecstatic at having the superstar at Terang.

"We are very happy and quite content with the outcome. It's awesome that the feature event is going on--so it's full steam ahead," Payne said.

"It would have been ideal if both the horses had contested, but the appearance of Ride High is a huge attraction on its own," she said.

Speculation is already mounting. Will Ride High be set loose to eclipse the 1680m track record of 1.53-6 (held jointly by Tam Major and Im Sir Blake) or will connections just look conservatively toward posting an 11th consecutive win with the speed machine?

He's drawn awkwardly as the only horse on the back row - but that only adds to the intrigue surrounding the race tactics Team Tonkin will adopt on the champ. And who will dash the superstar pacer around, with no driver yet confirmed.

If the track record is broken, the winning owners will receive a free service to Jilliby Kung Fu, thanks to Marg Lee and Goodtime Lodge.

"The same applies in the fast class square gaiters with Yabby Dam Farms in Cardigan, putting up a free service to European G1 winning stallion Volstead. This is worth $5000 and has been donated by Pat Driscoll," Payne said.

Victree Hill holds the Trotters track record at Terang for the 2180m race journey of 2.01-4 - but I don't think he will for much longer, with a superb field assembled for the Haras de Trotteurs.

The naming of the feature race The Gammalite, recognises the region's most famed harness racing horse.


Leo O'Connor, who owned and trained the striking chestnut stallion Gammalite often told the story of how the champion horse was the real provider for his wife Maureen and their eight children.

Leo O’Connor – owner-trainer of Gammalite

"The horse paid for the education of our children and enabled the whole family to tour Australia, New Zealand and further afield. I paid $450 for his dam High Valley, which was a lot of money for a bloke who didn't have any," he would say.

"But in the end, that decision turned an old battler into a comfortable old farmer."

Gammalite (by Thor Hanover) had 179 starts for 94 wins and 53 placings for $1,386,480. His regular driver Bruce Clarke partnered the champ to 65 of those wins


High Valley (Intangible-High Pilade) had 13 foals-12 were winners with nine on them winning at three years of age. She was voted the Australian Broodmare of the Year in 1982 and 1983.

And while the crowds will be missing from the big Terang meeting, the progressive club has found a way to keep fans close to the action, with a "Virtual Ticket" initiative. The free Virtual Tickets provide a "trackside" experience - so bust out the drinks and nibbles, download your free ticket and enjoy the show!


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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