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New Zealand rising superstar Oscar Bonavena opened $2.8 favourite immediately after the barrier draw tonight for the What The Hill Great Southern Star despite drawing outside of Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley. The Mark Purdon-trained Oscar Bonavena pulled barrier four at the barrier draw, which was conducted at the MCG, with Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley securing gate three. Purdon said Oscar Bonavena was underdone when he ran eighth first-up in Australia in last weekend's Dullard Cup. “He trained well this morning but going back to the run, when he came over, he’s got a couple of issues. We decided to do a bit of swimming and I don’t think he got enough out of it. He went into Saturday night a little bit short,” Purdon said. But this weekend will be a different story. Purdon was definitive.  “He trained great this morning and I’m sure we’ll see a fitter Oscar Bonavena this week," he said. “We’ll come out well but I don’t think you want to get into a speed duel early. He’ll cross to one off the markers and hopefully one out wide comes out with him and gives him cover, that’d be the best scenario. "But he’ll be back to full fitness by Saturday." Josh Dickie, who has picked up the drive aboard Gath-trained McLovin, said he was thrilled to be driving for such a respected trainer of trotters. “It's great to drive for Andy, I’m sure he’ll have the horse in good order and hopefully we have some luck," he said. “The first time I sat behind McLovin I was very impressed. I’d always seen him go well in Australia but sometimes it’s not until you drive them you think ‘he’s a bit better than I thought’. He gave me a lovely feel. It was a shame what happened to him at Auckland because I dare say Inter Dominion series would have been a bit different if he’d been 100 per cent." But Dickie said he had a lot of respect for Oscar Bonavena and in fact said the Kiwi was "no doubt our top trotter going forward".  “Oscar’s a special horse and with the wrap that’s been on him he’s probably been criticised a lot heavier than others would have been. He’s a four-year-old, so he’s a baby compared to the open-class trotters. From what I’ve seen and I’ve driven against him, his speed is phenomenal." Reigning Great Southern Star champ Dance Craze drew inside the back row in barrier eight, which could suit the powerful sit-sprinter, while noted on-pacer Red Hot Tooth was a big winner, snaring barrier one for trainer Kari Males.  Shortly after markets reopened following the draw Majestic Man was specked, $16 into $14.  Meanwhile, Caduceus Club MC and noted trotting form student Bill Hutchison said this line-up was possibly the "greatest trotting field" assembled in Australian history.  No driver has ever won two Great Southern Stars, but previous winners Kate Gath (who drove 2017 champion Glenferrie Typhoon) and Mark Purdon (who drove Dance Craze last year) look a good chance to break that tradition this year aboard Tornado Valley and Oscar Bonavena.  GoodForm's Blake Redden described Tornado Valley as "the best leader we've seen in the trotting ranks for many a year" and says the local is the "horse to beat". His full comments can be read below.   GoodForm analyst Blake Redden breaks down the What The Hill Great Southern Star chances runner-by-runner immediately post-barrier draw 1: Red Hot Tooth ($7 with TAB) This mare has the speed to kick through early and given she’ll likely sit on one of the favourite for the race, she’s a genuine knockout chance. 2: Massive Metro ($13 with TAB) Had an outstanding Inter Dominion in his homeland and he is pretty tough so he’s hard to discount despite the potentially tricky gate. 3: Tornado Valley ($3 with TAB) Arguably the best leader we’ve seen in the trotting ranks for many a year. He has the gate speed to lead and while he never wins by big margins, he’s the horse to beat. 4: Oscar Bonavena ($2.8 with TAB) Disappointing at his first Australian start but he has a huge boom on him. He should settle handy and clearly one of the horses to beat. 5: Sky Petite ($61 with TAB) Quality mare at her best but even with all her gate speed she’s unlikely to lead which makes it hard to see her winning. 6: Sundons Courage ($101 with TAB) This fella has come back in great form but he’s unlikely to lead from out wide which makes things tricky for him here. 7: Tough Monarch ($35 with TAB) Hard to know exactly how this bloke is going, he’s probably going to have to do work at some stage which is a tough ask in this type of race. 8: Dance Craze ($13 with TAB) The nation’s most exciting trotting mare is unlikely to be any closer than three poles in transit but if the gaps open she’ll be roaring home. 9: Margaret Ruth (EM) ($151 with TAB) Lovely mare who will enjoy the staying trip if she gets a run but this is as strong a race as she’s ever seen. 10: Majestic Man ($14 with TAB) Established himself through the New Zealand Inter Dominion series and in any other year he’d be in this up to his ears. In this edition he will need everything to go right. 11: Mclovin ($16 with TAB) Quality trotter at his best. He’ll need a few things to go his way from out the back and he’s probably stronger than he is quick which may not be suitable the way the draws have fallen. 12: Temporale ($7 with TAB) A good barrier wasn’t required for his stunning win last weekend but he will need some fortune from out here. 13: Wobelee ($31 with TAB) Total excitement machine who measured up at his first crack at this level at Ballarat. He’s out of the draw but if they run along in front he will produce a booming finish.   JASON BONNINGTON AND ADAM HAMILTON ARE JOINED BY MARK PURDON, CRAIG DEMMLER AND JOSH DICKIE: WATCH A REPLAY OF THE HUNTER CUP AND GREAT SOUTHERN STAR BARRIER DRAWS:   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The Mercury is rising this summer at Tabcorp Park Melton. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has unveiled a five-race sprint series titled the Mercury80, consisting of four $20,000 heats and a $50,000 Group 2 final – all over 1200 metres. The first heat will be held at Melton’s New Year’s Eve race night in front of an expected crowd of about 7000 people. Each Mercury80 race will consist of eight runners, all starting across the front line.  The first two horses in each of the heats will make the Final. The fastest winner in the series will pick up a $20,000 cash bonus – $10,000 to the owner(s) and $5000 each to the trainer and driver – and if a horse breaks 80 seconds in winning during the series an additional $8000 bonus ($4000 to owner(s) and $2000 each to trainer and driver) will be won. Following the New Year’s Eve series opener, Mercury80 heats will be run at Melton on January 4, 10 and 17 before the Final features alongside the Victoria Derby and Victoria Oaks on Saturday night, January 25 – TAB Summer of Glory Night 2. “It’s really significant the prizemoney and those cash bonuses. I’m sure it will make people set horses for the series,” Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association president Lance Justice said. Justice should know – he’s trained more winners of the annual 1200m Stampede at Melton than any other with four (Coastal in 2010 and ‘11, The Smiler 2012 and Toulouse Lautrec in 2014). “Coastal just had sheer high speed and was so strong for 1200 metres that he wouldn’t waver,” Justice said. And Justice, a noted aggressive reinsman, said the key to setting the fastest winning time in a sprint race – and potentially breaking 80 seconds – from a driver’s perspective was “to not think twice”. “You can’t hesitate. As soon as you hesitate for half a second … you’ve lost a length and a half. You have to have a forward mindset.” HRV Racing General Manager Stephen Bell said it was important harness racing moved with the times and found new ways to innovate. “It is no secret faster racing appeals to a range of punters and we’re going to pull out all stops to ensure everyone has a great experience during the Mercury80 series,” Bell said. “People want to have fun while attending a sporting event. Racing needs to be engaging, entertaining and ultra-competitive. The Mercury80 series is exciting and we think it will produce some fireworks.” HRV recently announced a revamped TAB Summer of Glory carnival, which now carries more than $2million in stakemoney with eight Group 1s alongside the Mercury80 Final. Justice said he would have “a couple of fast horses” for the Mercury80. “It’s a great concept and these are the things the industry needs to get behind and try moving forward,” he said. Classes for the the Mercury80 heats will vary, with an NR 80 to 89, NR 70 to 79, No Metro Wins and NR 75 to 84 scheduled.   Media enquiries to or 03 8378 0288. HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

After a thought-provoking opening night of Inter Dominion 2019 heats, the market still believes in a Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen pacing series win. The premier training partnership dominated night one with Ultimate Sniper impressively capturing heat one just ahead of stablemate Chase Auckland, while fellow All-Stars runners Cruz Bromac and Thefixer ran second and third in heat two. A G’s White Socks was the other pacing heat winner, hailing from the stables of Barry Purdon. Victorian-trained pacing hopes San Carlo (fifth), My Kiwi Mate (seventh) and Sicario (seventh) all made fair starts to the series without setting the world alight. Importantly the trio has largely fared well at the barrier draws for round two. CLICK HERE FOR MICHAEL GUERIN'S HEAT-BY-HEAT BREAKDOWN My Kiwi Mate will tonight trail polemarker Chase Auckland in Heat 3, starting from the coveted barrier nine. This gives the Craig Demmler trained and driven star every chance to pocket important points, while San Carlo has barrier one in his heat. Co-trainers Steve O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley will be confident their stable star will be improved for the opening night performance, but he’ll have to be at his best tonight to hold off the lightning-quick Bling It On, who has drawn to trail in barrier nine and series favourite Ultimate Sniper in gate seven.   HOW ARE YOU DOING IN TROTSTARS? CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS Brent Lilley-trained Sicario is drawn gate 10 in the third heat and is an outsider ($81). In the trotting ranks Victorian star Big Jack Hammer would have impressed trainer David Aiken on opening night finishing third, but he faces a stiff test tonight after drawing gate seven in a heat containing series favourite Marcoola from the pole.   Full coverage tonight can be streamed  via Sky Racing Active (download free in the app store) in addition to Sky Racing 1 and Sky Racing 2, as well as on radio RSN (927am). HRV Trots Media social media channels will be covering the night, with a live blog delivering all the action as it happens at Join the conversation using the #ID19 hashtag and tag @TheTrotsComAU on Twitter.   Inter Dominion 2019 Round 2 Heats schedule from Alexandra Park Tonight 6.20pm: Pacing Championships Heat 3, featuring Team Victoria runners My Kiwi Mate and Sicario 6.52pm: Trotting Championship Heat 3. 7:25pm: Pacing Championship Heat 4, featuring Team Victoria runners San Carlo and Cruz Bromac. 7.53pm: Trotting Championship Heat 4, featuring Team Victoria runner Big Jack Hammer.   Inter Dominion 2019 Pacing Championship rankings after Round 1 A G’s White Socks: 17 Ultimate Sniper: 17 Chase Auckland: 14 Cruz Bromac: 14 Mach Shard: 12 Thefixer: 12 Solid Gold: 10 Star Galleria: 10 On The Cards: 9 San Carlo: 9 Ashley Locaz: 8 Triple Eight: 8 My Kiwi Mate: 7 Sicario: 7 Classie Brigade: 6 Conviction: 6 Atomic Red: 5 Colt Thirty One: 5 Bling It On: 4 Our Uncle Sam: 4 Check In: 3 Dance Time: 3 Another Masterpiece: 2 The Devils Own: 2 Henry Hubert: 1   Inter Dominion 2019 Trotting Championship rankings after Round 1 Paramount King: 15 Winterfell: 15 Marcoola: 12 Massive Metro: 12 Big Jack Hammer: 10 Majestic Man: 10 Temporale: 8 Valloria: 8 Destiny Jones: 7 Monty Python: 7 Bonnie Highlander: 6 Habibi Inta: 6 C K Spur: 5 Tough Monarch: 5 Didjabringthebeers: 4 Sertorius: 4 Kenny’s Dream: 3 Ronald J: 3 Pres The Belle: 2 Woodstone: 2 Credit Master: 0 McLovin: 0 (scratched)     TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Final (Sat December 14) fixed odds Ultimate Sniper: $2.5 Cruz Bromac: $4.5 Thefixer: $5 Chase Auckland: $5.5 Bling It On: $9 Ashley Locaz: $11 A G’s White Socks: $15 Triple Eight: $16 Colt Thirty One: $17 San Carlo: $17 Atomic Red: $41 Classie Brigade: $41 Mach Shard: $41 Our Uncle Sam: $51 On The Cards: $61 Star Galleria: $61 Henry Hubert: $71 Another Masterpiece: $101 Conviction: $101 Sicario: $101 My Kiwi Mate: $151 Solid Gold: $151 Check In: $201 Dance Time: $201 The Devils Own: $201   TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Final (Sat December 14) fixed odds Marcoola: $3 Winterfell: $3.8 Habibi Inta: $4.5 Massive Metro: $5 Majestic Man: $7 Paramount King: $15 Tough Monarch: $15 Temporale: $17 Big Jack Hammer: $21 Valloria: $35 Bonnie Highlander: $51 Didjabringthebeers: $51 Kenny’s Dream: $51 Monty Python: $71 C K Spur: $151 Destiny Jones: $151 Pres The Belle: $151 Ronald J: $151 Sertorius: $151 Woodstone: $151   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Kate Gath put on a masterclass in the sulky tonight, taking out both feature races at Geelong on cup night. The star driver piloted Phoenix Prince to a last-stride Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup victory after providing him with a brilliantly economical trip in transit, despite starting from the widest barrier on the front line. Earlier in the night Gath drove Andy Gath-trained War Spirit to victory in the Yabby Dam Racing McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup. Both winners started at double-figure odds, further highlighting Gath’s expertise. And Emma Stewart trained the trifecta in the pacing cup, a masterful training performance, with second-placed Code Black (driven by Greg Sugars) and third-placed Tam Major (driven by Chris Alford). “He was looking for a run at the turn and when he got it he just strode through,” Gath said of Phoenix Prince, who was three-back on the fence in the run before exploding through in the straight. “His run in the Maryborough Cup was terrific without luck. He’ll be a threat in all these races going forward. “We decided to come out hard but Jason (Lee, aboard Jilliby Chevy) was able to hold us so I was happy to grab hold straight away. “Three-pegs looked up for grabs and I thought that looked not a bad spot for him over the trip.” There was little between the winner and the fourth-placed Shelby Bromac in one of the most thrilling Geelong Cups in recent memory. Phoenix Prince rated 1:56.5 for the 2570-metre trip and has now won 15 out of 27 starts and almost $160,000 in stakes. Gath also scored a victory aboard Miss Hartley to finish with a driving treble on the night.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Eight-year-old Fake Smile produced a thunderous finish to capture the Evolve Stone Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship Final tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Craig Demmler-trained gelding was lining up for just his third run back from a three-and-a-half-year injury layoff, but he was able to sprint past rising superstar Lumineer at the end of the 1720-metre Group 3 sprint in a slick 1:52.3. “This horse has been an amazing story what he’s come back from. Craig deserves all the credit because it’s been a long road back and a lot of hard work,” winning driver Jackie Barker said. “I think he’s done his tendon three times, so to get him back to the races is an enormous effort. Craig and the team have done an amazing job.”                                                                                    --Photo by Stuart McCormick Barker, who is making a bit of a habit of producing barnstorming-finish wins at HQ, bided her time from the back-row gate 11 draw tonight as others set a brisk tempo at the front. Pick Up Line led from the pole but eventually handed up to Deedenuto after 600m and a lead time of 6.9secs followed by a 27.4 opening split, with Lumineer working around to the breeze for the last lap. They kept moving with a 57secs middle half-mile and Fake Smile was on the move wide from the back. With Barker throwing everything at Fake Smile the son of Grinfromeartoear (out of Fake Left mare Counterfeit Girl) pounced on his rivals in the straight for a 1.3m win over a brave Lumineer, who had to lose no admirers after his tough effort in defeat, with Pick Up Line third just ahead of Brackenreid, Smart Little Shard and Blingittothemax. “When you draw the second row over the sprint it’s never going to be easy but this horse really flew home,” Barker said. “If he can stay sound and keep going I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.” Barker said she was “grateful for the opportunity to drive Fake Smile”, adding “I think you have got to be 100 per cent dedicated if you want to try and make it. And I do want to make it, so I’m grateful for the opportunities and I’ll go anywhere to get them.”   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Trots Clubs Victoria (TCV) will begin searching for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) after the resignation of Toby McKinnon. TCV issued a media release today announcing that McKinnon had resigned after a six-year stint with the organisation at Board and CEO level. "On behalf of all clubs, we wish Toby all the very best. I want to thank Toby for all that he has contributed to clubs and the industry," TCV president Tim Scala said. Read the full media release here McKinnon’s last day as CEO will be Friday, December 20. “I’d like to thank the TVC Executive both past and present and all the wonderful club personnel I have had the pleasure of dealing with throughout my time,” McKinnon said. HRV Marketing General Manager Andrew English said McKinnon had achieved a lot during his time with TCV. “There’s no doubt that Toby has strengthened the collaboration between the clubs and HRV, continuing the work of his predecessor in that role David Brick,” English said. “Toby was always industry-first, innovative and worked tirelessly for the benefit of clubs and the wider industry. We wish him the best for the future and hope he’s not lost to the game.”   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Newly appointed Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) CEO Dayle Brown (pictured) will hit the ground running from next Wednesday, November 6. Brown will immediately begin meeting with staff to “learn about HRV’s current strategic projects” before embarking on a series of consultation meetings across Victoria. “It is important to get an understanding of the current strategic direction of the HRV executive management team and staff, so I want to hear about those projects and how they’re tracking,” Brown said. “I will then hit the road to visit every centre in Victoria because it is important we give the industry an opportunity to have input into the overall strategic vision for HRV. “It is important to listen to the industry and understand their views. I’m looking forward to meeting passionate industry people right across the state. It will be a busy period before Christmas with plenty to do, but my style is to be collaborative and I am a firm believer in everyone, both inside and outside of HRV, understanding the goals and working together to achieve them.” Brown will address the new-look Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame night at Bendigo on Friday November 8, which will be streamed live across HRV Trots Media channels. Details for Brown’s consultation tour will be released in coming weeks.    HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

An audit commissioned by the Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner has revealed Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) integrity processes to be “industry leading”. The 46-page report titled Audit Report into the End-to-End Management of Investigations – Review of Harness Racing Victoria outlines that HRV has made “significant improvement in integrity since around 2016-17” and declares HRV the racing “industry leader” in the areas of integrity processes and animal welfare framework. The report, which focused on investigations and enquiries – both race day and non-race day – also praised HRV’s establishment of animal welfare training programs and has recommended that the other codes “follow HRV’s lead”. “HRV sample investigations appeared to be comprehensive, conducted in accordance with policy, and fair dealings with licenced persons, including explaining rights to those accused persons,” the report states. “HRV has improved its integrity processes since around 2017 to the point where this audit finds that in terms of the requirements in this audit with respect to investigations, it is the industry leader. “HRV has taken a number of positive steps in recent years in order to promote the importance of welfare and establishment of the HRV Animal Welfare Framework Online Training Program and the Stable Inspections Framework. Requiring licenced participants to pass the online training module in order to maintain accreditation is a commendable step towards protecting animal welfare and we have recommended that the other codes follow HRV’s lead in this regard.”  HRV General Manager of Integrity Brent Fisher (pictured) praised his team and said HRV “had much to be proud of in the integrity space”. “This annual audit shows HRV is on the right track in regards to the manner in which we police the industry and I’m proud of the integrity team for the great results we’ve achieved in the last couple of years,” Mr Fisher said. HRV Interim CEO Luke Spano also praised the work of the integrity team. “This kind of recognition highlights the great improvement HRV has made in this important area in recent years and should give the industry confidence that our processes are conducted fairly and without fear or favour. I congratulate Brent and his team on their ongoing good work,” Mr Spano said.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

All 10 winners at Mildura last night were either trained, driven or trained and driven by women. It has many times been documented that women are at the very least on a level playing field in harness racing and just about gone completely are the days of references to female drivers as “lady drivers”. As one of the industry’s leading drivers Kate Gath said in the Herald Sun last year: “I’m just a driver, I’m not a lady driver, I’m just like anyone else in the industry and that’s how it’s always been for me in my 18 years involved.” At Mildura Jill Neilson, Jackie Barker, Claire Goble and Kate Attard all either trained or drove one winner, Danielle Hill, Michelle Phillips (pictured) and Kate Hargreaves all had two winners and Sandra O’Connor trained three winners. Meanwhile, Kylie Bevington trained a runner-up and Denbeigh Wade and Ellen Tormey both drove horses into second place on the 10-race card. Currently in Victoria Emma Stewart is on top of the Renown Silverware State Trainers Premiership with Jess Tubbs fourth, Kate Gath leads the Schweppes Metropolitan Drivers Premiership, with Kima Frenning third, and Stewart is second on the Taylors Metropolitan Trainers Premiership with Margaret Lee in fifth.  In the Alabar Concession Drivers Premiership five of the top 10 young drivers are women, with Kima leading overall on 35 wins, Michelle Phillips in sixth, Jackie Barker in seventh, Tayla French in eighth and Abbey Turnbull in 10th.    HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Ginger Gleeson epitomises the values of the Gordon Rothacker Medal and as such was the perfect recipient on Sunday night. On an evening of highlights at glittery Crown Palladium in Melbourne’s CBD, a universally admired trots man from Balliang East stole the show. Brimming with humble delight as the medal named after a man he admired and respected in equal portions was placed around his neck, Ginger recounted a story from one of the earliest Gordon Rothacker Medal events. “A lot of years ago when the Gordon Rothacker Medal started … Gordon said to me at one of the awards, ‘I hope one day you can win one of these medals’ and I am so proud. This is beautiful,” he said emotionally. The room was rapturous. And when he spotted his family, stealthily sneaked into the room after weeks of careful and choreographed stage managing by Ginger’s good mate, Steve Warren, Ginger’s glee was palpable. His sons, Jamie and Troy, grandchildren, Keehan and Tynan, and daughter-in-law Jacqui were all on hand along with his wife, Chris. Photo by: Sam D'Agostino, SDP Media  “I am absolutely shocked. My family … I left my boys home, my beautiful grandsons and my son and daughter-in-law, they were looking after Troy tonight for Chris and I … and I had no idea. The shock is amazing. I can’t believe this,” Ginger said. “We have got the most magnificent family of people in harness racing and I consider everyone in harness racing part of my family. “I’ve got a beautiful family and I’ve had a great life right through. I’ve had a wonderful amount of horses to train and drive for fantastic trainers like Kenny Pocock, Noel Taylor and Ron “Jacko” Stillman. “I’ve been very privileged. I drove for Jack Moore as well, and when Gordon (Rothacker) asked me to drive – well I put myself in to drive because the horse’s name was Gingernut – but when he asked me I couldn’t have been happier. It was just a great thrill and an honour to ride for these people and Gordon was just a champion.” Ginger told how he had come to drive for Rothacker. “I was lucky enough to drive a horse, Gingernut. I asked him for the drive because I told him it was named after me and Gordon said, ‘I’ll give you a drive on him one day’. I happened to win a nice race at Kilmore with him.” While Ginger ticked every box on the Rothacker Medal key criteria list, it should never be forgotten the 68-year-old horseman’s ability in the sulky. He’s still driving, but in his heyday he won several Group 1 races including Derbies, Oaks, Galaxy Grand Slams (precursor to the Australasian Breeders Crown), Sires Stakes finals and Country Cups. Ginger teamed with Robert Preneur to win the Victoria Cup Second Preview in 1991, defeating Franco Tiger and Jane Ellen. Unfortunately Robert Preneur copped a severe check on the first corner in the Victoria Cup and missed a place. He ran a helluva race to make up many metres that night, though. The 1982-83 season saw Ginger drive 50 winners. His most notable career racetrack victories were the 1987 Victoria Trotters Oaks and 1988 Sires Stakes Final with Rainbow’s Idol, the 1995 Sires Stakes and Victoria Trotters Oaks with Rainbow Billie – daughter of Rainbow’s Idol, the 1987 Redwood Classic aboard Lady Thor and the 1986 Shepparton Gold Cup with Game Oro. Ginger's plentiful on-track success was more than matched by his enormous contribution in all aspects of harness racing. His mentorship of many is famous. Whether it was a hobbyist, a big-name or a young person making their way through the ranks, Ginger had time for everyone and anyone. Such willingness to serve was clear when 18-year-old Ginger joined the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association in 1969 shortly after it was formed. Some 50 years later he remains on the committee and has rarely missed a meeting. In 1988 Ginger took on the role of VTDA president and held the position for the next 21 years, all the while his loyal secretary was close mate Warren, who drew deep praise from Ginger on Sunday. “I’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic person that is worthy of any of these awards in Steve Warren, who does the most magnificent job for the harness racing industry,” he said. “I was president for 22 years and Steve was my secretary the whole time. He’s still secretary now and I’ve been out of the presidency for over 10 years. He deserves accolades in this industry because he works so hard for the trainers and drivers. He does as much as he possibly can and he goes out of his way to do it.” Ginger has also given up countless hours of his time to promote harness racing to the masses through double-seater sulky races, coordinating horses for TV promotions and even movies and always being available to help HQ promote the sport and never wanting a penny for it. Photo by: Sam D'Agostino, SDP Media  Just two months ago he took renowned basketball star Corey Williams for a spin around the Yarra Valley track for the Trots Country Cups Championship launch. “I just cannot believe how good it is,” Ginger said under the spotlight on Sunday night. “I would dream of something like this … and this is a dream come true.” What a superstar.   Full list of 2018-19 Award Winners from Sunday night’s Gordon Rothacker Medal evening VHRC Owner of the Year: Pat Driscoll Alabar Victorian Concession/Young Driver of the Year: Kima Frenning Schweppes Metropolitan Driver of the Year/Garrards State Driver of the Year: Chris Alford Renown Silverware State Trainer of the Year/Taylors Metropolitan Trainer of the Year: Emma Stewart Woodlands Stud Victorian Breeder of the Year: Bruce and Vicki Edward, Durham Park Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year: Andrea O’Gorman (Charlton) Country Club of the Year: Ballarat and District Trotting Club Trots Clubs Victoria Volunteer Service Award: David Long (Yarra Valley) Angelique Club Pearl Kelly Award: Kath Ford HRV Distinguished Service Award: Rod Osborne Gordon Rothacker Medal: Ginger Gleeson   Horse of the Year awards (vote tally in brackets, 10 voters on panel, voting 4-2-1) 2YO Pacing Fillies: Maajida (40) 1st, Treasure (15) 2nd, Jemstone (10) 3rd. 2YO Pacing C&Gs: Be Happy Mach (38) 1st, Jilliby Nitro (22) 2nd, Yejele Hamer (6) 3rd. 3YO Pacing Fillies: Kualoa (40) 1st, Two Times Bettor (18) 2nd, Tangoingwithsierra (6) 3rd. 3YO Pacing C&Gs: Max Delight (32) 1st, Lochinvar Art (25) 2nd, Out To Play (8) 3rd. 4YO Pacing Mares: Pistol Abbey (40) 1st, Soho Burning Love (15) 2nd, Goodtime Heaven 9 (3rd). 4YO Pacing E&Gs: Poster Boy (40) 1st, Tam Major (19) 2nd, Rackemup Tigerpie (10) 3rd. 5YO+ Pacing Mares: Tell Me Tales (32) 1st, Carlas Pixel (28) 2nd, Makes Every Scents (6) 3rd. 5YO+ Pacing E&Gs: San Carlo (40) 1st, Buster Brady (18) 2nd, Wrappers Delight (11) 3rd. 2YO Trotting Fillies: Jaxnme (36) 1st, Im Ready Jet (24) 2nd, Pink Galahs (7) 3rd. 2YO Trotting C&Gs: Is That A Bid (36) 1st, Powderkeg (24) 2nd, Andover Sun (9) 3rd. 3YO Trotting Fillies: Royal Charlotte (33) 1st, Emerald Stride (22) 2nd, I Am Pegasus (15) 3rd. 3YO Trotting C&Gs: Majestuoso (40) 1st, Alpha Male (12) 2nd, All Cashed Up (9) 3rd. 4YO Trotting Mares: Moonlight Dream (36) 1st, Moonshine Linda (20) 2nd, Aleppo Jewel (12) 3rd. 4YO Trotting E&Gs: Majestic Player (36) 1st, Kyvalley Finn (24) 2nd, Chief Runningcloud (6) 3rd. 5YO+ Trotting Mares: Dance Craze (40) 1st, Pantzup (14) 2nd, Red Hot Tooth (10) 3rd. 5YO+ Trotting E&Gs: Tornado Valley (40) 1st, Big Jack Hammer (20) 2nd, McLovin (6) 3rd. Overall Horse of the Year: Tornado Valley (40) 1st, Poster Boy (12) 2nd, San Carlo and Be Happy Mach (8) eq-3rd.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Growing the “younger demographic” will help to fortify the Victorian breeding industry’s future, says newly sworn-in Harness Breeders Victoria (HBV) president Nick Hooper. Hooper takes the HBV reins from outgoing president Terry Lewis, who will stay on as vice-president, alongside fellow committee members Elizabeth MacLean, Dr Kath McIntosh, Steve Dickson, Brett Coffey, Jess Tubbs, Mark Hughes, John Campbell and Les Joslin. “We are pleased to have a number of younger breeders on the committee and I would like to see this demographic increase amongst our membership and on the committee over time,” Hooper said. “All of our younger participants should have a broodmare or two, as without the efforts of everyone in the industry we risk further decline in the foal crop.” Hooper’s involvement in the harness breeding scene dates back to the 1990s and a mare he raced in partnership with friends, Faraday Gold. She was retired and threw a couple of winners in Wisemans Ferry and To Nova Scotia, “It wasn’t until Gluteus Maximus (pictured below, driven by Amy Tubbs) retired that I was able to revisit the breeding world and over the last 7-8 years it has grown from one broodmare to now 10 and associated young stock,” Hooper said. “I now have eight trotting broodmares in partnership with Paul Graydon and two pacing broodmares that I own outright.” Hooper’s enthusiasm for the game is tangible, absolutely genuine. “I love the very personal aspects of breeding,” he says. “Forming a relationship with the mare, meeting the new foal, they are somewhat like your children. The thrill of seeing them hit the track and have some success gives me great pride, whether you continue to race them or not. This is what motivates me to breed.” Hooper said HBV would continue the important ground made under Lewis' guidance in working with Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) to secure the breeding industry “targeted government funding”. “The key aims for the HBV committee are to improve the financial returns to breeders so that not only current and former breeders extend their operations, but also so new breeders are enticed into the game,” he said. Meanwhile, HBV also held its annual awards function, the IRT Victorian Breeders Awards, at the weekend with the following winners announced: Niota Bloodstock Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year: Insulated (Wayne Schulze and Dale Eastman). Benstud Victorian Pacing Broodmare of the Year: Aston Villa (Lauriston Bloodstock). Ian Daff Memorial for tenured service and contribution to the Victorian breeding industry: The Judd family. Ultimate Machete @ Alabar 2YO Sire of the Year: Somebeachsomewhere (Empire Stallions) Ultimate Machete @ Alabar 3YO Sire of the Year: Art Major (Alabar) Australasian Standardbred Guide 2YO Trotting Sire of the Year: Angus Hall (Global Stallion Management). Australasian Standardbred Guide 3YO Trotting Sire of the Year: Skyvalley (Aldebaran Park). Age Group Championship Trophies: Jaxnme (Graeme Love), Is That A Bid (David Scott), Royal Charlotte (Gerard Moloney), Alpha Male (Wayne Schulze and Dale Eastman), Pantzup (Dr Alison Miles), Moonlight Dream (Michael Fryar and Dennis Foley), Big Jack Hammer (Terry Forster and Heather Lyttleton), Maajida (Les Johnson), Jaspervellabeach (Aldebaran Lodge), Kualoa (Bruce and Vicki Edward), Lochinvar Art (Dan Cordina), Carlas Pixel (Robert Watson) and Poster Boy (Lauriston Bloodstock). APTS High Earner Trophy: Chris Lang Jr and Haley Lang. APG Melbourne Sales High Earner Trophy: Durham Park.   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

New Zealand officials were McLovin the run of Andy Gath’s Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint winner at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. They subsequently propelled McLovin into fourth on the $300k Dominion Trot rankings, which were unveiled this morning. HRNZ media wrote, “McLovin’s win in the Bill Collins Sprint has seen him lock in his Dominion place by leaping from the fringe (#15) to fourth in the rankings. The brave win against fellow Dominion nominee, Tough Monarch, and other leading Australian trotters really threw down a marker as one of the premier trotting performances of the season to date.” Winning driver Kate Gath (ranked No.12 on the Australian Drivers’ Championship) was also impressed, comparing McLovin to Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley post-race. “At home, the feel he gives me, he’s very similar to Tornado (Valley),” she said. Saturday night was exceptional as McLovin toiled three-wide with no helmet to chase for the final lap. “The first quarter came up, and then the second quarter and I thought, ‘I’ve got to go now… because if I don’t go now I’m not going to get in the race,” Gath said. Gath’s quick thinking and faith in McLovin paid off, the seven-year-old trotter covering the most ground the last lap but still good enough to fend off a sprint-laning four-time Group 1 winner (Big Jack Hammer) in a photo. It was McLovin’s first Group 1 win, but it would be safe to say based on the way he won – and what he beat – it won’t be his last. His rivals had won 12 prior Group 1s between them. Marcoola, Sundees Son and Oscar Bonavena head McLovin in the Dominion Trot standings. The New Zealand Trotting Cup rankings were also updated with Thefixer, Classie Brigade, Chase Auckland, Spankem and Henry Hubert all remaining firm in slots 1-5. Victorians Cruz Bromac and San Carlo are numbers five and six respectively after third and fourth-place finishes in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, while Our Uncle Sam dropped one spot to No.8 ahead of Ashley Locaz (11 up to 9) and Ultimate Sniper (9 back to 10). Smokin By jumped from 26 to 16 after placing in the Methven Cup. Buster Brady, Ellmers Image and Sicario have all cancelled their NZ Cup ambitions.   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

This Melbourne Cup Day at Yarra Valley harness racing is going green. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) in conjunction with Yarra Valley and the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA) last night revealed that, for the first time in over 16 years, the trots will be racing on the grass gallops track. HRV Racing General Manager Steve Bell appeared exclusively on Sky Racing’s In the Gig to break the news. Two trotting races will be conducted in front of a predicted 5000-strong crowd, both standing start events bringing the action closer to the fans than ever before. “This is what Melbourne Cup Day at Yarra Valley is all about – exciting harness racing for families and fans, showcasing our great sport to the masses,” Bell said. “Harness racing has to constantly evolve. We’ve had grass track racing before, but we’ve identified an opportunity for a new, improved version of it on one of the sport’s premier days in terms of entertaining a big crowd. The throwback to a favourite of times past has struck a positive chord with industry participants and VTDA president Lance Justice lauded the announcement. “We’ve worked closely on this one with HRV and Yarra Valley and we think it’s a wonderful idea,” Justice said. “We’re confident it will be a great spectacle. They run these races all the time in New Zealand and we used to have them here. “Ultimately what the Trainers and Drivers Association would like to see would be a harness race on the grass at Flemington on Cup Day. Anything that can promote like this we’re right behind.” Local trainer Peter Goudie agreed. “I support this initiative 100 per cent. We loved it years ago and we’re so happy to see it back again. It will be a marvellous spectacle,” he said. For trivia buffs, the last grass track race to be conducted in Victoria was the Fox Plate at Moonee Valley in February 2003. It was won by Trappers Salute for trainer Gary Bailey and driver Jodi Quinlan (pictured). Yarra Valley Racing Chairman David Long is excited about the move and said the club had long been eager to see grass track racing conducted at its venue. “It’s a wonderful thing for Yarra Valley and our local harness racing community with two races on our grass track allowing customers to cheer up close and personal for the first time in Yarra Valley history,” he said. The progressive Yarra Valley club already boasts over $4000 worth of Fashions on the Field prizes, prestigious hospitality featuring local food and wine and for the first time ever, with support from the Victorian State Government, the club will introduce the ‘Family Fun Zone’. The carnival-inspired lawn enclosure will be free for all, with child-friendly rides, lawn games and carnival-favourite foods such as fairy floss and the like. The HRV HERO horses will also be on track for fans to ‘Pat Their HERO’ horse.  Bell said HRV would “pull out all stops” to help ensure full fields for Yarra Valley’s two-day Melbourne Cup week carnival. “There’s no doubt it’s a busy racing period, but we’ll do everything we can to assist the club in drawing full fields,” Bell said. The two grass track races will be standing-start trot events over 1950m, an NR40 to NR55 $7000 handicap and a four-year-old and older Trotters Discretionary Handicap for horses with a minimum NR of 55. For further information, owners’ privileges and ticket sales, contact the club on 9730 1332, or visit Yarra Valley online   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

Get set for the biggest TAB Summer of Glory yet. With eight Group 1 races and almost $2 million in prizemoney across three superb nights of harness racing, Victorian trots will be in the spotlight during the 2020 carnival. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has revealed a new-look TAB Summer of Glory schedule, which will include for the first time the Victoria Oaks heats and final. The change aligns both Victorian three-year-old pacing classics, the Derby and the Oaks, with the TAB Summer of Glory carnival. HRV has also increased the distance for both series, with the Derby and Oaks finals to be run over 2760m on night two and the heats over 2710m at Ballarat on night one. Australasia’s richest trotting race, the $250,000 Great Southern Star, will now be on the third and final night of the TAB Summer of Glory carnival alongside the $500,000 Grand Circuit pacing classic, the A.G. Hunter Cup. “Overall it’s an amazing line-up of racing right across the three nights, kicking off with Ballarat Cup Night, featuring the Derby and Oaks heats, as well as the Cochran Trotters Cup and of course the $110,000 Ballarat Cup,” HRV General Manager of Racing Steve Bell said. “Night two becomes ‘finals’ night with the $200,000 Victoria Derby and the $150,000 Victoria Oaks finals over the longer trip, plus we have the $100,000 Four-Year-Old Bonanza, the $50,000 Dullard Trotters Cup and the $50,000 Casey Classic. “The third and final night will feature of course the $500,000 A.G. Hunter Cup, the $250,000 Great Southern Star and now the $100,000 Ladyship Cup for pacing mares. “It will mean the Australasian trots spotlight will be on Victoria for this world-class carnival and we’re really excited by it. “We’ve thrashed these changes out at length before moving the levers and feel they’re in the best interests of the TAB Summer of Glory. “If you’re not innovating you’re going backwards. We’re keen to shake the product up a bit with some other big announcements in the not-too-distant future.” Following the third and final night of racing the party will continue at the Inglis Complex, Oaklands Junction, on Sunday February 2 when the Australian Pacing Gold and Australasian Premier Trotting sales are conducted. Check out the Victorian feature race list    Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

Not much drives sports headlines in the media, social media engagements or bums on seats like charismatic stars.  Thus the last week has certainly been a blessing in Victorian harness racing. Tonight in the south-west we saw a virtuoso stamp his authority at Terang with five-year-old Lumineer equalling the Dalvui Raceway track record for 2180 metres with a 1:56.5 mile rate. Lumineer is a rising trots luminary and he’s destined to be anything. The Ange McDowall-trained son of Sportswriter has only ever been beaten once in 12 goes (in the Victoria Derby of 2018) and he hasn’t looked like losing in three runs at age five. His performance tonight came just days after we saw San Carlo’s enormous Jet Roofing Kilmore Cup win, which shocked many, including some within the horse’s camp who probably thought their beloved champ a few runs away from producing that. Also last Thursday we had Cruz Bromac utterly monster his rivals – there’s no other way to put it – absorbing all the pressure first-up from a spell before careering away with an arrogant victory. And on the same night at the same track we had a six-year-old named The Storm Inside score win No.12 at start No.13 to further put his name in lights, triggering his owners to declare they ain’t scared of anybody. In fact, the Miracle Mile was mentioned as a long-term aim, and if they had their way they’d be pushing for the wunderkind to line up in Saturday week’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup at HQ. This kind of passionate approach is gold. It’s good for the narrative, which drives the discussion and the content producers love it. I guarantee that to be true.  Of course we also had Bling It On make a killer return at Menangle last week, Buster Brady and Wrappers Delight will continue to make Kima Frenning guess just which of those jets is going to be more supersonic, Emma Stewart has a big stable of potential fast-class top-liners coming through the ranks – and there are of course plenty more, and I apologise if I’m leaving a horse or three out now because of course I am. I can’t let this article go on much longer so I’m just drawing a line... now! Strap yourselves in for the next six months because the Trots Country Cups Championship, the road to the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion, the TAB Summer of Glory and the big New South Wales features are going to tell us a lot about the up-and-comers and just where they stand in the Grand Circuit scheme of things.   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media 

A larger than expected contingent of Australian horses has nominated for the 2019 Inter Dominion in New Zealand. Harness Racing New Zealand today released the nominations for the IRT ID19 and 25 Australian horses are among the 55 pacing nominations, while nine AU trotters have thrown their hat in the ring. All eyes will be on the social media channels on Wednesday when the first round of rankings are released.  Currently, the below are listed in alphabetical order. TAB is updating futures markets and those will be reopened later. Victorian superstar San Carlo looks set for a monster campaign, which will is also expected take in the New Zealand Trotting Cup, and he'll be right in the ID19 market mix following a superb first-up win in the Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup last Thursday night.   IRT Inter Dominion Nominations - Pacers IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER RATINGS/RANKINGS TO BE RELEASED WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 2 2019 1 A Bettor Act 2 A G’s White Socks 3 Another Masterpiece 4 Ashley Locaz 5 Atomic Red (AUS) 6 Audi Hare (AUS) 7 Ball Of Art 8 Be Mine Tonight 9 Bettorstartdreaming 10 Bling It On (AUS) 11 Buster Brady (AUS) 12 Can’t Refuse (AUS) 13 Chase Auckland 14 Check In 15 Classie Brigade 16 Colt Thirty One (AUS) 17 Conviction (AUS) 18 Courtsinsession (AUS) 19 Crime Writer (AUS) 20 Cruz Bromac (AUS) 21 Dance Time 22 Ellmers Image (AUS) 23 Fame Assured (AUS) 24 Franco Landry (AUS) 25 Gran Chico 26 Harjeet (AUS) 27 Henry Hubert 28 Ignatius (AUS) 29 Jack Farthing (AUS) 30 Joes Star Of Mia (AUS) 31 Mach Shard 32 Millwood Maizie (AUS) 33 My Kiwi Mate (AUS) 34 Nandolo 35 On The Cards 36 Our Uncle Sam (AUS) 37 Revolver 38 Sagwitch 39 San Carlo (AUS) 40 Self Assured 41 Sheriff 42 Sicario 43 Smokin By 44 Solid Gold 45 Somebeachshadow (AUS) 46 Spankem 47 Star Galleria 48 Tennyson Bromac (AUS) 49 The Bus (AUS) 50 The Devils Own 51 The Moonshadow 52 Thefixer 53 Triple Eight 54 Ultimate Sniper 55 Wrappers Delight (AUS) Total - 55 IRT Inter Dominion Nominations - Trotting IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER RATINGS/RANKINGS TO BE RELEASED WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 2 2019 1. Amaretto Sun 2. BD Love 3. Big Jack Hammer (AUS) 4. Bonnie Highlander 5. Bordeaux 6. C K Spur 7. Charlemagne 8. Credit Master 9. Dark Horse 10. Destiny Jones 11. Didjabringthebeers 12. Enghien 13. Forget The Price Tag 14. Fratellino (AUS) 15. Galleons Victory 16. Gershwin 17. Great Things Happen 18. Habibi Inta 19. Harriet Of Mot 20. Heavyweight Hero 21. Hey Yo 22. Kenny's Dream 23. King Cassidy 24. Kyvalley Blur (AUS) 25. Le Lievre's Gift 26. Lemond 27. Lily Stride (AUS) 28. Lone Star Lad 29. Lovey Dovey Moment 30. Luby Lou 31. Majestic Hurricane 32. Majestic Man 33. Maori Law (AUS) 34. Marcoola 35. Massive Metro 36. Matua Tana 37. McLovin (AUS) 38. Monbet 39. Monty Python 40. Mr Good And Evil 41. Oscar Bonavena 42. Paramount King 43. Phoebe Imperial 44. Pres The Belle 45. Ronald J 46. Ruthless Kayla 47. Sassy Pants (AUS) 48. Save Our Pennys (AUS) 49. Sertorius 50. Sugar Cane 51. Sundees Son 52. Sundons Wish 53. Sunny Glenis 54. Temporale 55. The Dominator 56. The Hulk 57. Theodosia 58. Tickle Me Pink 59. Tough Monarch (AUS) 60. Valloria 61. Valmagne 62. War Machine 63. Westy Boyz 64. Winterfell 65. Woodstone 66. Zsa Zoe Total - 66   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

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