Day At The Track

Brilliant start to reinswoman's career

03:17 PM 04 May 2018 NZST
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Michelle driving her first race win at Ballarat on Sunday night
Michelle driving her first race win at Ballarat on Sunday night

Gippsland born horsewoman Michelle Phillips is making an impact in Victorian harness racing after only a handful of race drives. 20-year-old Michelle drove her first race winner, Our Sir Oliver, at Ballarat on Sunday night.

And she didn't have to wait long to add to her tally, winning with Fratellino at Maryborough on Monday afternoon before further victories at Cobram and Ballarat (again with Our Sir Oliver) yesterday.

From Neerim in Gippsland, Michelle has grown up around horses (her grandfather Max was a Clerk of the Course at local trots meetings for many years).

Upon finishing Year 12 Michelle enrolled at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul, and her dedicated study and natural flair with horses led her to being selected as the inaugural Harness Racing Victoria/Community College Gippsland trots intern in 2016.

The internship's 12 month exposure to all aspects of the trotting industry, and leading stables in Australia and New Zealand, gave Michelle the perfect grounding to establish herself in the racing industry.

Now a licenced reinswoman in her own right, on Sunday night Michelle took Our Sir Oliver to the front at the start of the 2200 metre event at Ballarat, and was able to control the tempo of the race to suit.

Shooting clear of his rivals upon straightening. Our Sir Oliver raced away to win by almost nine metres for trainer Norm McVitty.

Two drives later at Maryborough, however, it was a different story, with Fratellino coming from 20 metres behind at the start under the handicap conditions.

Michelle sat behind the other favourite, Armchair Drive, racing up alongside her rival approaching the home turn as the two trotters dashed away from the rest of the field.

In a slogging finish, Fratellino scored by a short half head, with the race time very close to the track record.

Fratellino is a six-year-old gelding owned and trained by Michelle's partner, talented horseman Shaun McNaulty.

The pair are presently establishing a stable of horses near Bendigo.

Michelle in fact at her first race drive on March 23 almost claimed a debut driving win, when Fratellino finished second.

A natural with horses, Michelle looks sets for a very successful career in race driving and continues a proud tradition of females from the Gippsland region having enjoyed success in the trotting sport.

Kyle Galley

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