Day At The Track

Former footballer lands first winner on new track

07:00 AM 02 Dec 2014 NZDT
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Ricky McLean and Broadways Classic after winning the first race The official opening Horses racing on the new upgraded Warragul track Don Collins and Warragul HRC president Doug Cameron cutting the ribbon
Ricky McLean and Broadways Classic after winning the first race
WHRC CEO Alison McDougal, WHRC Vice President Rex McLeish, WHRC President Doug Cameron, HRV Chairman Ken Latta, WHRC life member Don Collins and Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood at the official opening
Horses racing on the new upgraded Warragul track
Don Collins and Warragul HRC president Doug Cameron cutting the ribbon
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Former VFL footballer Ricky McLean and his family took the harness racing honours when Broadway Classic won the first race on the new Warragul Pacing Bowl last Monday afternoon.

A well known figure in harness racing over many years, McLean and his family own the seven-year-old gelding which led throughout in a fast mile rate of 1:58.9 one second outside the horse's previous best time on the much larger 1400 metre track at Menangle in Sydney, which indicates the quality of Warragul's refurbished course.

Ricky, who played football for Carlton and Richmond in the 1970's, trained horses for some years but now his son Shannon prepares the family stable from their Gisborne property.

Warragul property developer John Castle presented Ricky with a commemorative trophy after the event.

Most races on the day were won by leaders, though this may be a reflection of the smaller fields and style of racing rather than the track itself. Most leaders were allowed to race along unchallenged in front in their events.

Top reinsman Chris Alford showed what the new Warragul track is capable of in the last event, however, when he bought Balletto home with a fast finishing run to claim Stoned Again, which had led and stolen a break on the field turning for home.

Balletto defied the trend of leaders and proved that if a horse is put into the race at the right time, they still can come from back in the field on the smaller track.

Grande Anse and Jodis Choice were two impressive winners earlier in the day. Both horses showed improvement on their recent runs and should win further races.

Local pacer Melton Little Max scored his eleventh win at start 211 for trainer Allan Preston and driver Tony Mallia in the sixth event.

A much larger crowd than usual attended the meeting and witnessed Warragul Harness Racing Club life member Don Collins cut the ribbon to open the track before race one.

Collins, in his 90's, part owned the brilliant Inter Dominion winning pacer Golden Reign in the 1990's.
Important guests included the engineers and track design team responsible for the upgraded facility, along with re-elected Narracan MP Gary Blackwood, and Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Ken Latta and CEO John Anderson.

Drivers praised the rebuild works and new surface, which was turned out in excellent condition by the track maintenance staff.

Warragul races again on Monday afternoon, January 12.
 
Kyle Galley
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