Day At The Track
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A stress fracture has sidelined brilliant trotter Wobelee from the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown but trainer Alison Alford is confident he will make a full recovery. Having won 14 of his 19 starts, including five Group 1s, Alford’s three-year-old will be gifted a much-deserved rest until after Christmas to mend, with connections grateful the injury was discovered before it developed further. “It’s a stress fracture from wear and tear. Good horses naturally push themselves harder,” Alford said. The injury was discovered after the gelding was sent for a scintigraphy, which highlights hotspots and inflammation. "(Driver) Chris (Alford) had a niggling feeling something wasn't right with him, but we had no idea what," Alford said. "(Wobelee) just wasn't happy and was probably a bit more cantankerous than usual. “The test came up with inflammation in his knees and a couple of other spots. We brought him home and x-rayed him and found there was small movement in his knee. He had a MRI and it showed his knee’s change and we were told that if he didn’t rest it could become more significant.” The stress fracture is a considerable disappointment given Wobelee’s impending tilt at the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby on August 5 and his favouritism in future markets for the three-year-old boys trotting Breeders Crown. But connections are taking considerable comfort that the fan favourite’s injury had been discovered before it worsened. “We’re just so lucky that Chris picked up on it,” Alford said. “He wasn’t lame or racing terribly, but you wonder how much it has annoyed him. “He will have six months off and it should then be onwards and upwards. He will likely come back in just after Christmas and probably have a drawn out prep, but there should be no reason why he can’t be in next year’s big races.” Michael Howard

If there was one box left to tick to reaffirm Wobelee’s status as the finest two-year-old trotter of the season consider it ticked, marked and crossed. The Alison Alford trained, Chris Alford driven and Colin Murphy owned Down Under Muscles two-year-old was in a class of his own in winning the $50,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Redwood Classic, a third Group 1 victory of the harness racing season. Since running second to One Muscle Hill in his first start, coincidentally named the 157 Days To Seelite Redwood handicap, and then third in his second start, Wobelee has reeled off eight consecutive victories including Vicbred and now Redwood acclaim. It’s been enough to surprise even the most seasoned of drivers. “After his first trials we thought at least he’s going to make it to the races and he’s just improved and improved and improved the further the year has gone along,” Chris Alford said. “It’s pretty amazing really." Many considered the Classic – having blemished many a two-year-olds spectacular debut season – a key test of Wobelee’s standing, but the inside back row draw was no barrier. Wobelee burst from the standing start to lead in a matter of meters, capitalising on the polemarker (Whizzbang Dan) leaving a door open. “Pretty lucky really at the start,” Alford said. “In the warm-up Christopher Shinn’s horse, he gave it a practice and as it jumped it did a right-hand turn and went out about three carts and I thought, this couldn’t be true. If this happens and we are moving forward we will just go straight through. “Thankfully it happened and the professional little thing that he is he just trotted away.” And from there it was all she wrote. A 48.2 lead time set an honest pace and no challenger could threaten as Wobelee, as is his custom, used his high cruising speed to churn out 29.9 and 30.9 first and second quarters. “He was just rolling along, when I saw 29.9 I thought I might be going a bit quick here, but he just likes to run.” With 29.6 and 30.5 quarters he closed out a 2:04.4 mile rate, matching Illawong Byron’s race/age/sex record set in last year’s Classic and clearing out by a colossal 32.6m. It was a heck of a statement and connections, in particular owner Colin Murphy, will be hoping the Down Under Muslces gelding can extend his winning ways to Breeders Crown’s super Sunday. “He’s had a long year,” Alford said. “He’s starting to tire a little bit, we will just try and keep him ticking over. “The good thing is he doesn’t do a lot at home, so he’s got two more runs and then he can have a rest, so hopefully he can keep it up.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

There would have been celebrations galore for Bolinda’s Alford family at Cranbourne on Tuesday, when Alison Alford (wife of Chris) trained her first winner after obtaining her harness racing licence only a few weeks back - the horse in question being American Ideal/Karamea Mietta gelding Spinners Boy in the Decron Horse Care Pace for Three Year Olds 3C0 & 3C1 class over 2080 metres. Given a lovely trip one/one from gate six by Chris with Awesome Cullect inside him leading, Spinners Boy was eased three wide approaching the home turn and finished his race off well to register a 1.6 metre margin on the wire  ahead of Yackandandah which followed the winner throughout, with Abetta Tiny Dancer holding down third after racing in the open. The mile rate 2-02.4. It was a joyous occasion for the family as apart from Chris driving the winner, Spinners Boy is raced by daughter Katie and son Sam. Frankston trainer George Batsakis who prepares his team out of Bill Galea’s Rockbank stable, brought up victory number five from nineteen outings with reliable three year old Art Major/Run To Live gelding Captain Bronzie by taking the Hygain Feeds Pace for C1 class over 2080 metres at Cranbourne on Wednesday. Driven by the most travelled reinsman in the state – Ararat’s Michael Bellman, Captain Bronzie (gate four) strode past Melton Little Max inside him shortly after the start and after a relatively easy time ay the head of affairs, kicked away on the finalbend with the race safely in his keeping, scoring by 8.1 metres in advance of Melton Little Max and Richly Deserved (one/one – three wide last lap) in a mile rate of 2-02.1. Long Forest husband and wife – Andy & Kate Gath were successful with exceptional Bettor’s Delight/Le Tricky colt Padrisimo, a prohibitive $1.10 favourite  in the Condo’s Horse Transport Pace for C0 class over 1609 metres, but not before giving his supporters a scare. Leading out from gate two, Kate surprisingly elected to hand over the running to $12.80 chance Just For Laughs (gate five), giving Padrisimo the run of the race. Not perturbed at any stage, Kate drove Padrisimo through along the sprint lane to record a runaway 2.9 metre victory over the pacemaker in a rate of 2-02, with Sahara Bedouin third after racing in the open. Raced by Sydneysider Rob Nalder a strong supporter of the Gath stable, Padrisimo has faced the starter on 15 occasions for eight wins and 3 placings. Melton’s Beau Tindale combined with in-form Melton based reinsman Anthony Butt to land the poggaharness.com Claiming Pace over 2080 metres with much travelled eight year old Courage Under Fire/Brahma Gold gelding Shanhai Knight in a rate of 2-00.7. Starting from the pole, Shanghai Knight who’s last win had been at Hobart in August last year, led throughout to defy all challengers, defeating Mister Manhattan (one/two) and a death-seating Liston. All three placegetters have had various trainers since first gracing the track. Four year old Yankee Spider/Apollo Ann mare Celtic Rose was an impressive victor of the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2110 metres for Bolinda trainer/driver Chris Alford. First up from a short break (her last outing being April 18), Celtic Rose was able to overcome a 30 metre backmark and in doing so, brought up four wins in succession. Settling at the tail of the field, with the hot favourite Jimbo Johnson beginning safely to possie one/one as the polemarker Soh Filthy Rich leading for Michael Langdon,  Alford caught Anthony Butt napping in the last lap as he sooled Celtic Rose forward to put the favourite in a pocket. Finishing best, Celtic Rose scored by 4.1 metres over Soh Filthy Rich which gave plenty of cheek, with Alabamas Invasion holding down third after racing in the open. Jimbo Johnson galloped approaching the home turn when being extricated into the clear. Metropolitan/Armbro Sunshine four year old mare Lucky Metro has found a new lease of life, bringing up three wins in a row when successful in the Blue Hills Rise Pace for C2 class over 2080 metres in a mile rate of 2-01.4. Trained at the Melton property of Ken Tippet by Doug Adams, Lucky Metro driven once again by Charlie Borg was given a sweet passage one/one from gate four after lobbing outside the speedy pole line leader Blacks A Beauty. Gaining cover at the expense of the favourite C C Chevron at the bell which had made a forward move from last, Lucky Metro pounced on straightening to gain the day by 1.2 metres from Somedreamsomewhere (gate two) which followed her throughout. C C Chevron first up since February was a neck away in third place. Andy and Kate Gath finished the night with a stable double after Gowan Brae, a four year old Jeremes Jet/Millpac Maid entire raced by millionaire developer Greg Brodie, greeted the judge in the ADE Turf Equipment Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2080 metres. Given an easy time from gate three trailing the pacemaker Jean Baptiste (gate four) one of two runners from the Lance Justice camp, Gown Brae finished bast along the sprint lane to prevail by two metres over Clancys Fobwatch (four wide home turn from five back the markers at the bell), with Aloha Don Ho third after racing in the open from the bell. The mile rate 2-02. The highlight of the night was heat three of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Sires Series for 2-Y-0 Colts & Geldings over 2080 metres which saw NSW colt Born To Rocknroll (Rocknroll Hanover/Aston Villa) victorious in a pedestrian 2-02.7 for Belinda McCarthy and Nathan Jack. Read more about Born To Rocknroll's win Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

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