Growth of 2YO Trotters
The growth in trotting ranks has been highlighted by the number of two-year-olds who have presented at the races so far this season.
By the end of May, 55 two-year-old trotters had raced (of which 50 are Vicbred). At the same time last year 33 two-year-old trotters had raced.
A 67% increase in the number of starters can in part be credited to the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown series which recently boasted separate $50,000 finals for both colts and fillies.
Those two finals included five graduates from the inaugural Australasian Premier Trotting Sale (APTS) in March 2013. The first winner purchased from the APTS was gelding Livin The Life which won at Kilmore on June 10. Well done to all involved at the Cranbourne Club.
Fastest Last Half Ever
trained Amajorjo may not have won a major race yet, but he does now lay claim to the fastest last half mile in Australian history.
At Maryborough on May 16, Amajorjo won The Leo Crameri, finishing off in a last half mile of 53.3 seconds, the quickest on record.
Victorian tracks hold the first five places on the national speed chart with Chilli Palmer, Ideal Scott, Macha and Bling It On all recording sub 54 second last halves at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Harness Racing worth $422m in Victoria
During May the Premier and Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine released a Size and Scope Study into the Victorian Racing Industry - conducted by experts IER.
The report concluded that harness racing in Victoria generates $422m for the Victorian economy - a 63% increase since the previous study eight years ago.
Some of the other highlights specific to harness racing in the study included: 4,000 full time equivalent jobs; 19,000 people involved as employees, participants or volunteers; 8,000 owners and syndicate members; 3,000 breeders; Highest Regional Contribution comes from the Goulburn Valley ($58m) followed by Loddon ($50m). A full copy of the 96 page study is available by clicking here.
Ballarat Stakes Reduction
The Ballarat & District Trotting Club is the first Club to announce a reduction in its contribution to stakes due to the impost of a new State Government gaming tax.
The new tax will cost the Ballarat Club an extra $200,000 per year so the Club has decided to cut approximately $100,000 from its contribution to stakes. Most affected will be the Ballarat Pacing Cup, which reduces from $175,000 to $100,000.
Admirably, the Ballarat Club will continue to invest heavily in its community and charity work, neither of which will be impacted by the new gaming tax. For the full statement from Ballarat click here.
Incidentally, the new tax will have a $400,000 impact on HRV. Management is currently working through next year's budget in order to minimise the impact on overall stakes.
Queen's Birthday Honours
A pair of harness racing identities were awarded Queen's Birthday Honours earlier this week.
Keith McGowan OAM
Keith received an OAM for services to the media, however the honour also recognised his "ownership of Harness horses for in excess of 25 years and his support for the industry over many years".
Despite Keith's passing late last year we are all proud of Keith's award, and in particular for his family, including son Nathan.
John Ballestrino OAM
John received an OAM for services to the community, particularly sporting organisations. One of the sports John is associated with is harness racing, in his role as Vice President of the Geelong Harness Racing Club. Congratulations to John and the McGowan family on being recognised in such a way.
HRV was saddened to learn of the passing of two industry stalwarts.
Norm was a trainer back in the 60's and 70's and later a HRV Board member from 1984 to 1988. He loved harness racing and was always positive about the sport. The most appropriate comment I have read is from Russell Edwards on Facebook. Quote "Norm was a true gentleman who volunteered countless hours to the game he loved....I never heard anyone utter a bad word about him". And as the Shepparton Club said on their Facebook page "Norm was simply the best".
Edo had a long term interest in harness racing and previously owned several horses. He was also an esteemed member of the Caduceus Club. His son Greg is equally passionate about the sport and is a member of HRV's Pegasus Club. Our condolences to Greg and Edo's family.
Harness racing in Victoria continues to be the breeding ground for young participants becoming involved in the sport. During the month of May a couple of young drivers experienced the thrill of driving their first winners:
Robert Caton (19) drove his first winner on Lombo Mini Lamouch at Bendigo on May 8; and Zac Steenhuis (16) drove his first two winners, Village Spirit and Tallulah Bay, at Terang on May 18.
Not so young, but still enjoying his first win was Darren Manton on Prettyboytoby at Ballarat on May 10.
Josh is quickly becoming a young star of the industry. Son of David, Josh has had a roller coaster ride over the past two weeks. Here is a summary: Drove his first winner at Tabcorp Park on May 30 on Composed; Became the youngest person (at 20 years of age) to drive a treble at Tabcorp Park on June 6; Celebrated his 21st birthday on June 10; Appeal against a three week suspension dismissed by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on June 10.
With her win on Tezz Khora at Charlton on June 12 Amanda, now residing in Victoria, has driven 999 winners. If she makes it to 1,000 in the next couple of days, she will become the youngest ever to achieve the feat in Australia.
Brian trained the first two winners at Charlton on June 12, his first double since Elmore in 2001.
The first of the double was Candy Digger, which hadn't won since March 2012 at Warragul. Since then she had 132 starts without success. Second placegetter in the same race Master Kiesey, also trained by Brian, achieved the milestone of 300 starts in a race. Geoff Kay
Dr Napthine has advised that Board member Geoff Kay's term has been extended for a three year period - until May 2017.