Day At The Track

Warragul boy does good in Pacing Cup

12:16 AM 28 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Trotters Cup field heading out of the straight in front of the big Cup day crowd Family of the late Eddie Evison with Trotters Cup winning driver Greg Sugars Nike Franco (outside) wins the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup Gavin Lang after winning the Cup with course MC Rob Auber Warragul Cup presentation
Trotters Cup field heading out of the straight in front of the big Cup day crowd
Family of the late Eddie Evison with Trotters Cup winning driver Greg Sugars
Nike Franco (outside) wins the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup
Gavin Lang after winning the Cup with course MC Rob Auber
Cup presentation with Amanda Grieve (representing winning trainer Dean Braun, HRV Chairman Dale Monteith, Warragul HRC Chairman Doug Cameron and Warragul Sporting and Social Club's Jenny Smith
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Warragul born harness racing reinsman Gavin Lang broke a 27-year drought when he won the $30,325 Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup on Easter Sunday.

In front of the biggest trots crowd seen at Logan Park for almost a decade, Lang collected his third Warragul Cup, steering Nike Bromac to a memorable victory for Lara trainer Dean Braun.

Lang previously won the Warragul Cup with Copper Leopard for local trainer Noel Alexander in 1982, while he also trained and drove top mare Our Navy Lady to win the first daytime Cup run in 1989.

In typical fashion, Lang drove a cool race, guiding Nike Franco between horses in the final circuit, and gaining the verdict narrowly with a well timed run down the outside of the track.

He didn't panic when hemmed up between horses with a lap to go, knowing full well his horses ability would see it through despite having to come from behind on the small track.

"There is a place still for these (smaller) tracks, and there's no doubt they promote competitive racing," Lang said.

While having been born in Warragul, Lang has been based at Melton for over 40 years, but still competes at most Warragul meetings, and drove his five thousandth winner on the track in 2012, so the venue hold special memories for him.

"Being a Warragul boy, born and bred, I'm always happy to come home here and win a race of this ilk," Lang said.

Nike Franco had won over $300,000 in stakes before Sunday's Cup victory, at only her thirtieth race start.

A large group of owners share in the horse, which has also won two Oaks classics in Queensland, along with feature mares' events in Melbourne and Sydney.

Nike Franco appreciated a drop in grade after finishing at the rear of the field in the Kilmore Pacing Cup a week earlier.

The other feature of the afternoon was the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which attracted a strong field and was won by Illawong Helios for trainer Ross Sugars and his driver son Greg.

Illawong Helios is another lightly raced horse which should continue to win good races, having collected 16 wins from only 27 starts.

The win of Illawong Helios bought up three winners for the afternoon for owners Martin and Kaye Hartnett - the first time the owners had collected a treble at a race meeting.

Unfortunately the Hartnett's missed their successful day owing to a family function.

Top horsewoman Jodi Quinlan trained two of the Hartnett's winners, and her further success with Christian Major in the Warragul Guineas saw her collect a $1000 bonus for driving three winners on the program.

Christian Major flashed home at the finish to deny local pacer Courageous Call a win in the event.

Melton horseman Lance Justice produced a nice looking horse in Crockets Cullen to win the last race - Justice confidently predicting the New Zealand bred horse will win good quality races after he easily defeated his rivals.

Good weather conditions drew a big crowd to the Warragul Pacing Bowl, with the car park and dining areas at capacity 40 minutes before the first race.

A variety of activities kept patrons entertained throughout the day.

Visitors to the course praised Warragul Harness Racing Club Manager Mark Johnson and his staff and committee for the amount of work put in to run the successful event.

New Harness Racing Victoria Chairman, Dale Monteith, was also in attendance at his first race meeting since being elected to the post the previous Tuesday.

Kyle Galley

 

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