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Two of the season’s greater trots tales added further chapters to their unlikely stories with feature victories at Echuca on Friday night. Gavin Lang’s average pacer turned top-line trotter Pantzup continues to take everything in her path, with the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket a seventh straight and ninth career victory after the mare showed her might against open class types. And Kima Frenning’s rapid rise in Victoria’s ranks continued unabated with her debut training project, Buster Brady, launched to the top of the Trots Country Cups Championship with victory in the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. “It’s crazy,” Frenning said post-race after her former Kiwi produced a fifth win and third country cup in his ninth Australian start. “To train a horse like him, to come here and win a race like this, it’s very exciting and I can’t thank everyone around me enough. “He was really good tonight. He’s a really nice horse and he does it pretty easy when he wants too.” Off the second row Frenning advanced three-wide for much of the first lap before taking the front, from where Buster Brady was too strong in the straight, saluting by seven metres from Shadow Reign and Gottashopearly. The victory would have brought more delight for Luke Stokie and his fellow owners, with Buster Brady now a point clear of San Carlo in the Trots Country Cups Championship, which carries a $25,000 cash prize. Only an hour earlier Pantzup entered the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship race when he scooped up the Crystal Bucket, a winning streak that has surprised even the most experienced and successful of trainer-drivers. “She’s amazing really,” Lang said “It’s well documented that we bought her cheaply as a pacer to win a couple of races and then probably flick her on, but she showed she had a propensity to trot from day one that she entered the stable. “I’d like to be able to say I did this and did that, but I haven’t done nothing – I’ve just trained her and fed her and she’s done the rest. “I’ve been in the game for a long long time, my Dad’s had plenty of trotters, I’ve had a couple of nice ones in the past, but every time I drive home from the races with this one I just shake my head because I can’t believe what she does. It’s a great story.” Drawn off 10m in the standing start, Pantzup advanced to the breeze with a lap and a half to go and found the front when leader Als Law dropped out about 500m from home. A 29-second final quarter was enough to keep all challengers at bay and salute by 5.4 from Fratellino, who picked up valuable points to leapfrog King Denny and take the lead in the $10,000 Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship.   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Tiffany Murray, a young, brave mother who lost a short battle with illness in October, 2011, was a fighter to the end. A harness racing event named in Tiffany’s memory will be hotly contested by six determined female drivers when it’s again staged during the Echuca Cup meeting this Friday night. “This is a race that is very close to my heart and I would give anything to win it,” Stacey Towers, of Shepparton, said. “Tiffany was a lovely person and became a real friend,” she said. “She was down to earth and full of life.” The Tiffany Murray Memorial race was first staged in 2012, and Towers said it was a race that carried significance for all of the invited contestants. Towers will be joined in the feature by Bec Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Monique Burnett, Donna Castles and Tania Ward – all of whom were great friends of Tiffany, a concession driver before being tragically struck down by cancer. “I’ve had absolutely no joy in this race over the past few years. I even drew my own horse on one occasion, and thought I had some chance, but he dropped out and went terrible,” Towers said. “While I’m desperate to do well, I know all the other girls are just as keen and want to win. So there’s going to be plenty of fireworks.” Tiffany Murray’s battle with cancer captured the support of not only the harness racing industry, but anyone who learnt of her battle. She was initially flown to Melbourne after collapsing with a migraine and doctors discovered a blood clot and tumor on her brain. It was her third time encounter with life-threatening illness – first as a one-year-old when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, only to have it removed and to return seven years later. When Tiffany was just 17, her mother died from cancer. But despite the diagnosis and with her fiancé Leigh Sutton, and daughter Milla, by her side, Tiffany refused to remain anything else but positive, because “there’s no point in being negative”. In her final weeks of life, she said “she had to be determined, otherwise there is no point – I think if you’re not going to have a crack, then why bother?”. The attitude and determination of a remarkable young lady inspired those who knew her, others who had followed her career – but just as many who didn’t know her at all. Sutton, who is now based at Menangle, will also be centre stage at the Echuca meeting, driving Tamworth trained pacer Gottashopearly in the $35,000 Cup. The pair combined to finish a close-up sixth in the recent Goulburn Cup. Prior to that, Gottashopearly gave trainer Richard Williams victory in his hometown cup worth $12,000. Sutton will also take the reins for Williams in the c3 to c5 event with Midnight Montana. In the co race, Sutton will drive Cozza Grin for young trainer Jake Mitchell. While Tiffany Murray will be remembered fondly by all at the meeting, emotions are sure to be running high. “I think there’s going to be a big number of family members of both Leigh and Tiffany attending – we’ve heard it’s going to be one big family catch-up,” Stacey Towers said. “There’s always a bit of sadness, but it will be fun and plenty of laughs; just the way Tiffany would have wanted!” Terry Gange

The chance to again have his stable’s name etched on the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup is well worth the across-state haul for Gary Barton, harness racing trainer and owner of cup hopeful Mustang Bart. The Warrnambool resident will hit the road tomorrow to venture to the riverside trots town, where the $30,000 Group 3 classic has attracted a cracking field amid a 10-race card. “It would be five hours on a good day in a truck but we will have a crack at it,” Barton said. “I won it many, many years ago with Another Bart but I haven’t been back there since.” That cup win came in 1990 and Barton said he’d been waiting to get a horse good enough to have another tilt and, in Mustang Bart, he believes he may have just the ticket. The Gotta Go Cullect four-year-old is a winner of nine of his 35 starts, with Echuca’s cup to be his sixth race at Group level, attempts that have thus far produced two placings and an eye-catching fifth in the January 27 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza. “He went super (in the 4YO Bonanza) and I think he’s got a really good chance in the race if you have a look at the sectionals the other night, he ran his last mile in 1:52 and he got home in 53.7 – they don’t go much better than that,” Barton said. “At the 400m he was 25m off the lead and he’s been beaten nine, so he’s got a big chance in the cup if he has a bit of luck.” Fellow Echuca combatant and favourite for the cup Motu Meteor was also impressive when third in the 4YO Bonanza, while Code Black and Shakahari are also among a class field. All bodes for a cracking cup, which shares the program with the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket, a $12,000 trot that carries important points in the Maori’s Idol Trophy. Saturday night combatants Quillabamba, Sky Petite and My Skypocket, all trotting cup winners this season, are among the leaders for the trophy, which for the first time carries a $10,000 prize for connections. Racing at Echuca starts at 6.32pm, with the cup to take centre stage at 9.30pm.   Trots Media - Michael Howard

The harness racing Country Cups Championships heads to Frank Ryan Raceway this Saturday night for the running of the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. The $30,450 Group 3 race shapes as an even affair, in which Im Alex will be looking to take advantage of his plum draw. VIDEO: KEEP YOUR QUADDIE WIDE AT ECHUCA, JASON BONNINGTON TELLS PUNTERS The seven-year-old gelding has been racing consistently well of recent times without winning and trainer Isabel Walsh is hopeful that will change this week. “He is a nice horse and hopefully from the good draw he can have some luck on Saturday night and run well,” Walsh said. I’m Alex has only had the one stand start and that was when he was a youngster in his homeland, New Zealand, but Walsh wasn’t too concerned about him behind the tapes “It isn’t any problem for him as he has stepped well in New Zealand before. He is a quiet, well-mannered horse so I don’t think the stand will be an issue,” she said. “We also have Brian Gath and he is an excellent driver.” Echuca being a tight, turning track would also play to Im Alex's favour, Walsh said. “He loves the small tracks. He was a horse-of-the-year at Penrith, which is small just like Echuca, so it’s perfect for him.” Walsh didn’t single out any rival as her main danger believing all challengers capable of winning, but she was excited about the opportunities come Saturday night. It is going to be a bumper night of racing, which features the resumption of outstanding five-year-old San Carlo in race eight. There will be a host of on-track entertainment, with the first of 10 races beginning at 5.57pm. Matt Jackson

Smudge Bromac scored a superb triumph in tonight’s harness racing Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. Driven by Nathan Jack and trained by David Aiken, Smudge Bromac (a nine-year-old entire by Falcon Seelster out of Sabrina Bromac) sat parked for the last lap but still had 1.1 metres on runner-up Smo (Laura Crossland, $59.50) at the finish, with Road To Rock (John Caldow, $4.20) third. Smudge Bromac, who started from behind the 20m tape in the 2530m race, rated 1:58.6. The victory was one of two for Jack on the night, his other driving success coming aboard unbeaten Wingara in Race 3. by Cody Winnell

  DOUBLE-HEADER COUNTRY CUPS WEEKEND This weekend features a  TAB.com.au Trots Country Cups Carnival double-header with Echuca on Saturday night followed by Ouyen's big day on Sunday. The weekend action kicks off tonight though at Tabcorp Park Melton with a nine-race program getting under way at 6.30pm and featuring the running of the Harness Breeders Vic Jodies Babe and the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace Final (Group 3).  Don't miss your shot at a $20,000 quaddie pool jackpot offer from the TAB tonight at Melton, with the quaddie on Races 5,6,7 and 8 and kicking off at 8.33pm.   - FEATURE OF THE WEEK - Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup 2530m standing start 1: SMO Trainer: Laura Crossland Driver: Laura Crossland Form comment: Drawn well and if he can step cleanly and hold a forward position then he could sneak a place at odds.   2: ROAD TO ROCK Trainer: Keith Cotchin Driver: John Caldow Form comment: In really good form, loves the stand-start conditions. Back to the front line should be able to step and press forward. If finds the front is a great each-way chance.   3: JUKEBOX MUSIC Trainer: Julie Douglas Driver: Glenn Douglas Form comment: Been competing in claiming grade but has a really good turn of foot when right. If he enjoys a soft peg-line run he could well be finishing off into a placing.     4: KOTARE ROLAND Trainer: Roly Wilson Driver: Neil McCallum Form comment: Enjoyed a nice run of form a few months back, but struggling to recapture that right now. This does look a little drop in class.   5: SKIPPY RASCAL Trainer: Julie Douglas Driver: Greg Sugars Form comment: Could well be the best roughie in the race. Defeated Macho Comacho three starts back when leading and handing up. If he's able to step cleanly here he could perform a similar role and finish off along the sprint lane.     6: CAM BEFORE THE STORM Trainer: Nicole Molander Driver: Chris Alford Form comment: Led and was run down in the Boort Pacing Cup last week but was only second-up. If he takes benefit from that run he'll be in the mix. Stable's in fine form.   7: MACHO COMACHO Trainer: Amanda Grieve Driver: Alex Ashwood Form comment: Super first-up after missing the start. He should be able to step more cleanly here and if that's the case you only have to go back to his form of a previous lifetime where he ran third in the Stawell and St Arnaud Cups and won the Wedderburn feature.    8: WASHMEPOCKETS Trainer: Vivian Tomren Driver: Emmett Brosnan Form comment: Honest little fella who tries his heart out every time. Another who needs a soft run to be a winning chance but if the pace is on he should be hitting the line.   9: NARRA OPERATIVE Trainer: Peter Manning Driver: Matthew Craven Form comment: Back to 10m here and didn't have a lot of luck in the Boort Cup last week. He's just the type of horse who can bob up at odds and he did win back to back cups at Wedderburn and Stawell earlier this season.   10: ARBER Trainer: Tim Bolitho Driver: Michael Bellman Form comment: Shooting for back to back wins in this race. He was last year's country cups champion who wasn't far away at Boort. But he will need to improve to make it two in a row here.   11: SMUDGE BROMAC Trainer: David Aiken Driver: Nathan Jack Form comment: Has come off a little break since contesting the Victorian Inter Dominion heat. All his form, including a fifth in the Hunter and Shepparton Cups, and a second in the Pure Steel, is a strong pointer to the sort of form he is in at the moment. Genuine winning chance.   12: WARTIME SWEETHEART Trainer: David Aiken Driver: David Aiken Form comment: If David Aiken can perform a miracle and he can sneak through along the pegs, he could possibly be the blowout chance. But he's probably not suited to coming wide in such a strong field. (Comments by Blake Redden)   $20,000 Quaddie Jackpot Have a crack at the quaddie at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight for your chance at a slice of the $20,000 jackpot thanks to the TAB. Bet at the track, online at tab.com.au, via your smart phone app or at your local TAB outlet.     WIN A $50 TAB VOUCHER Here’s your chance to win a $50 TAB Voucher. To enter, tell us who you think will win the Echuca Pacing Cup on Saturday night. All entrants that pick the winner will go into a random draw and whichever lucky entrant is drawn, wins the $50 TAB Voucher! Entries must be in by no later than 8:30pm on Saturday night March 21. One entry per person. Must be over 18 years of age to enter. Emailcompetitions@hrv.org.au with the subject WIN.  The winner will be notified via email.  

Reinsman Nathan Jack will honour the late Tiffany Murray by wearing her driving pants at Echuca Harness Racing Club’s annual Pacing Cup meeting on Saturday night. Tiffany, a popular local harness racing figure, died in 2011 after a brave battle with cancer. Jack knew Tiffany well through his good mate and Tiffany’s partner, Leigh Sutton. Sutton is also a harness racing driver and he and Tiffany have a daughter, Milla. Jack will also donate $100 per winning drive to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation – and $200 should he win the Echuca Cup – and Sutton will match it dollar for dollar. It means the organisation set up by Tiffany's neurosurgeon, Charlie Teo, will benefit $200 per winner and $400 if Jack’s horse, Smudge Bromac, can win the main event. “I knew her quite well. I was good mates with Leigh,” Jack said. “It’s definitely a cause close to my heart.” The club will also run the Tiffany Murray Memorial Pace (Race 4 at 8.03pm), with only female drivers invited to contest the event. The association between Jack and Smudge Bromac will hold him in good stead aboard the David Aiken trained entire on Saturday night. The nine-year-old pacer is in a rich vein of form, having recently contested the $400,000 Hunter Cup, finishing fifth beaten only 8.3 metres by Arden Rooney. “He’s a great little horse, you’d love to own him,” Jack said of the 31-time winner. “He’s in great form. His Yarra Glen Cup win was terrific, in the Pure Steel he sat outside Uncle Wingnut and beat him by over a metre, and in the Shepparton Cup he turned for home level with For A Reason and beat him a length. “He’ll find it a bit hard off the 20-metre (handicap) on the tight track but he’s racing really well.” The huge 10-race program at Echuca kicks off at 6.20pm with the cup to be run at 9.33pm. Loads of giveaways and entertainment will be provided, with one lucky patron winning $1000 thanks to the TAB simply by uploading their Trot Selfie to facebook.com/trotselfies. The Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup meeting is a leg of the TAB Trots Country Cups Carnival. by Cody Winnell Related Links Fields for Echuca, Saturday 21 March 2015 Form guide for Echuca, Saturday 21 March 2015

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