Day At The Track

Cranbourne bring up their century

07:48 PM 17 May 2016 NZST
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The 24 metre equine bungee pool
The 24 metre equine bungee pool - at Cranbourne’s state-of-the-art training centre.

Less than four years since its launch a plan to fill trots fields has ticked every box and produced a ton of winners. Narreeva’s victory in the Dani Lewis Memorial Pace marked the 100th time a horse in work at Cranbourne Harness Racing Club’s training centre had won a race since the centre was launched in September 2012.

“It has exceeded our expectations in terms of the results the centre is producing,” said David Scott, the club’s vice-president who was its CEO when the centre opened. “I didn’t think we’d get to 100 wins so quickly.”

Harness Racing Victoria CEO John Anderson said reaching the 100th win was "a remarkable achievement" by the centre. "This rewards the Cranbourne club for its initiative to establish the training centre," Mr Anderson said. "It's a valuable asset and a model for increasing future participation in our industry. Congratulations to all involved."

Mr Scott said it was very satisfying to have the centre meet its objectives.

“We as a club recognised our horse population on the southern side of the Yarra was disappearing quite remarkably and we had issues with race fields producing the sort of racing we wanted to produce,” Mr Scott said. “At the time we recognised that if we initiated a training centre it would introduce a local horse population and give individuals a start in the sport.”

In the club’s first season it had 20 to 25 horses in work and Mr Scott said it had “progressively taken us three years to get near capacity”, with 43 horses now in work across its 50 stables.

“Last week the centre had 19 runners across the week, eight of whom raced at Cranbourne,” he said. “That is a full-race field and can make a seven-race program into eight races, which can make a significant difference, including to wagering.

“From an industry perspective, there are four people training now at the centre that didn’t have trainers’ licences when the centre opened. They are hobbyists who without this wouldn’t have the facility to train horses.”

The centre’s most prolific winner, trainer Michael Hughes, also fittingly produced its 100th win when Narreeva tipped out Yackandandah in Saturday night’s sixth race at Cranbourne.

Hughes had stints with Garry Rogers and Lance Justice before starting in his own right at the Cranbourne centre.

“(The centre) played a big role in my decision. Everything’s here, you have three tracks, a swimming pool, treadmill and a walker,” Hughes said.

“To get this set up in a private capacity would take a lot of money. When everything’s here it makes training quite affordable.”

And, with a bottle of scotch an added bonus that awaited the trainer who cracked the ton, Narreeva’s win brought great joy to his trainer.

“He had a smart horse on his tail, but Narreeva pulled out all the guns and was too good for them,” Hughes said. “To win that was a bit special.”

Cranbourne Training Complex honour roll: Michael Hughes 39 wins, Vivian Tomren 19, Charlie Wootton 15, Ken Browne 7, Alan Dunsmuir 6, Brian Duthie 4, Rick Cashman, Michael Langdon 3, Terry Howard 2 wins, Bill Kucks 1, Tony Mallia 1.

Michael Howard

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