Day At The Track

Fobwatch ticking over for Pacing Bowl Cup

08:32 PM 26 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Clancys Fobwatch, harness racing
Clancys Fobwatch winning at Melton earlier this year
Stuart McCormick Photo

Locally owned and bred pacer Clancys Fobwatch is expected to be among the leading harness racing fancies in Easter Sunday's sixtieth staging of the $30,000 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup.

Raced by local dairy farm manager Kylee Paull and her father John, Clancys Fobwatch has been racing in a rich vein of form in recent starts, giving connections the exciting prospect of raising their home Cup trophy aloft in front of a big crowd on the weekend.

Kylee and John have enjoyed feature race success in the past with trotter I See Icy Earl, however Clancys Fobwatch is the best pacer they have bred.

The flashy grey comes into Sunday's race fresh from a fourth placing in the Kilmore Pacing Cup, which followed an excellent second in the Cranbourne Gold Cup.

Clancys Fobwatch also won the Charlton Pacing Cup earlier this year, along with the Pure Steel race at Melton.

From 113 starts, the evergreen veteran has recorded 24 wins and 20 placings, and over $226,000 in stakes.

He has won races in Melbourne and Sydney, and is trained at Melton by Adam Kelly, with top young junior driver Zac Phillips the horse's regular reinsman.

Longwarry pacer Mister Wickham has to overcome a hoodoo dating back to the 1950's in order to win his second Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup on Easter Sunday.

No horse has captured the event twice, and 11 previous winners have finished in the minor placings while attempting to win a second Cup. The first of those was Blue Robert, who finished third in the 1956 event, a year after winning the inaugural Pacing Cup staged at Logan Park.

Mister Wickham missed an important lead-up run in the Cranbourne Gold Cup recently, however trainer Lee Evison expects the horse to take his place in Sunday's event.

Smart mare Glenferrie Blade is another likely starter in Easter Sunday's race, with connections having earmarked the Warragul event after a narrow second at Melton on March 17.

Reinswoman Jodi Quinlan has driven one previous Cup winner, while trainer Craig Demmler will be eager to have his name placed on the Cup honour roll alongside his father Ted, a three-time Cup winner during his illustrious career.

Only six horses went around in last year's Cup, and Warragul officials will be hoping for a much bigger field this year.

The Warragul Sporting and Social Club are again sponsoring Easter Sunday's event, the sixtieth such race staged at Logan Park, which makes it one of Victoria's oldest Country Cup races.

Support races on Sunday include the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which always proves an exciting spectacle.

Cranbourne horseman Michael Hughes has set his smart trotter Cruisin Around for the event, and a local victory would be a popular one.

Greg Sugars, regular race driver for Mister Wickham, also drives Cruisin Around and is expected to be in the sulky on Sunday.

The Warragul Toyota Guineas is the target for smart local three-year-old Roll With Rocky, who trialled well on the Warragul track on March 17 in preparation for the event.

The pacers owner/breeder, Grant Rathjen, has had a long association with trotting locally, and will be eagerly awaiting the return to racing of his horse.

Gates open at Noon on Easter Sunday for what is expected to be an eight race program.

In an effort to showcase the best possible racing action for the local audience, total stakemoney of $30,000 for the Pacing Bowl Cup has been retained, while major sponsor the Warragul Sporting and Social Club renewed their arrangements with the club in a vote of confidence for the local sport.

Several new sponsors are also on board to support a new era of harness racing in Gippsland.

A major change for the Pacing Bowl Cup is that WHRC officials are expecting the feature race to be run earlier in the afternoon, as the fifth event of the day. For many years the Cup race has been run as race seven.

With gates opening at Noon, and the first race expected at around 1pm, an earlier Cup event may prove more appealing to patrons than a longer day when the race is staged after 4:30pm.

In some years the crowd has begun to thin out by the time of the Cup, so an earlier start should see the event watched by a much bigger audience.

The Cup race will be flanked by the Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup and Warragul Toyota Guineas events, and five other support races, which should attract strong entries.

Traditional favourites such as pony trot races, jumping castle, animal farm and pony rides, and face painting will be on track on Easter Sunday, along with the Punters Club and betting facilities for the adults.

In an interesting addition to the Cup day program, the Leongatha Medieval Society will present a display of jousting during the afternoon, and there will also be a medieval swordcraft display and market stalls.

With many of the WHRC committee actively involved in organising their first Cup meeting, they are excited by the prospect of a good day of racing and entertainment, and are hopeful of a big attendance of locals to support their endeavours to build harness racing up again in Warragul.

by Kyle Galley

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