Day At The Track

Bush battler a bargain buy

09:30 AM 12 Nov 2020 NZDT
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olin and Michelle Godden with their “bush battler” Viking Cruz, Harness racing
Olin and Michelle Godden with their “bush battler” Viking Cruz
Swan Hill HRC photo

A central Victorian family with a harness racing passion that's second-to-none hit paydirt when a "real cheapie" stole the limelight in a $10,000 country feature event.

The Goddens, of Nanneella, a small rural township in the Campaspe region near Rochester, won the Laser Electrical "Battlers in the Bush Pace" at Swan Hill on Tuesday night-a race restricted to horses four year old and older without a win to their name.

"Our son James spotted Viking Cruz being advertised for sale a while ago and thought he would be worth a try. I probably wasn't too sure, but the owner wasn't looking for much money so we decided we'd give him a try," Colin said.

And after five starts, which included a handy third and fourth at Shepparton, Viking Cruz (Shadow Play-Scentiment (Artiscape) broke his 40-start maiden status in style with an easy win in the Battlers event.

Colin, who trains and part-owns the pacer with James, said they were delighted with the win, particularly with the extra stakemoney on offer for the feature.

"Viking Cruz is best when he's smothered up and saved for one last dash at them. If he gets out into the clear too early he can switch off-but save him up for the last 100 metres and he's pretty brave," he said.

The victory was the first leg of a training double for Godden and driving double for Josh Duggan with the pair teaming up again to win the final race on the program with Have No Choice (Four Starzzz Shark-Rock Melody (Pacific Rocket).

The meeting marked a return to racing at Swan Hill after a six-month COVID-19 induced hiatus.

"Swan Hill has actually been a good hunting ground for us over the years. It's a lovely track and the club goes out of its way to look after you. We were treated like kings the other night," Colin said.

"Both my wife Michelle and I, along with everyone else, got sandwiches, drinks and a racebook which was appreciated."

Godden has been training Have No Choice for Duggan and his partner Monique (Burnett) who recently had a baby boy.

"I told them I'd take him for a while because I thought they would enjoy having an extra little bit of baby time," Colin said.

The Godden family combine training a team of six or seven horses as well as milking about 300 cows, while James, an engineer, also operates a growing metal fabrication business from the family property, building a line of popular horse stables, shelters and other infrastructure.

"We all seem to have our jobs that we need to do. Michelle is up early each morning putting water onto our track and dragging the harrows around, while we're doing the cows and then the horses," Colin said.

"One of the best things I've done is putting in a water walker for the horses. James designed and constructed it nearly two years ago and it's been terrific for us.

"The horses normally do four days in the water and then three on the training track. The walker takes out any little niggles of pain they might get from pounding around the track-it just relieves their joints and it's great for their fitness.

"We have them in there for about 40 minutes and the water level is a bit over a metre. They go at more than power walking speed and we spin them around the opposite direction about eight times.

"They have to work hard against the whirlpool effect and that first 10 or 20 metres after they turn and go the other way really spikes their heart rates."

Colin said Viking Cruz was now on the market because he had a few bright prospects still to come back into work, including a two and a three-year-old currently in the paddock spelling.

"The only problem there is that every time I get a spare space, James goes and buys another one that's in full work and racing!" he laughed.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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