Day At The Track
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John Morris, who has his harness racing stables based at Barham, on the Victorian/New South Wales border downstream from Echuca, had bragging rights last Thursday – for just four hours that is! Morris, a successful real estate agent, and an astute horse breeder-trainer took out the opening Echuca event with three-year-old Heir To Zanzibar (Auckland Reactor NZ - Miss Midnight (Northern Lights USA). But then not to be outdone, long-time close friend and stable co-habitant Dennis Stevens got into the act in the final race of the night, with long shot winner Village Art (Village Jasper USA - Haytime (Exotic Earl USA). “It was certainly a night we’ll remember for a while. Both the horses had been working well at home, but we haven’t been able to trial them much,” Morris said. “I felt a bit sorry for Dennis who was at home resting after some minor surgery on one of his legs -- but to tell the truth I do nearly all the work with his mare,” he joked. It is obvious their friendship of over 45 years has involved plenty of fun, laughs and jokes with heaps of friendly banter. Morris said he expected Heir To Zanzibar, a half-brother to his former star performer in Showdown at Midnight (14 wins $108,000) to further improve. “He blew up big time after the race and will harden up with consistent racing,” he said. “He was the nicest horse I’ve broken in over 40 years. He mouthed very well and had quite a lot of speed. I think he is sure to develop into a handy one. “We used to try and trial regularly at Echuca but they’ve had to cut back to one morning of trials each month so that makes it difficult,” he said. To watch a video replay of this race click here. Morris has a 1070 metre track on his 70-acre property, which is usually planted to pasture and running a few broodmares and cattle. “They get reasonably fit at home and Dennis and I do fastwork against each other so that helps,” he said. It was the nine-year-old mare’s Village Art’s second race win – her first being as a three-year-old at Charlton. Stevens said he believed his first-up success with the $17 chance was due to working the mare with other horses. “A friend, Ruth Arthur, bred Village Art, but Ruth isn’t able to do one-on-one work at home,” he said. “The horse was reasonably fit, and I knew that because I drive a few for Ruth now and again. When she asked me if I was interested in giving Village Art a try, I didn’t hesitate. “Ruth has been fantastic as she gave me the hopples with the horse and then when I was laid up at home, floated it to Echuca for me. “I think much of the credit for both of the wins should go to our reinsman Michael Bellman (of Ararat) who does a fantastic job. He’s one of the best going around at the moment.” Michael Bellman Stevens said he agreed that Morris did some work with his charge Village Art and was happy to admit that.  But there’s always two sides to a story… “The reason being that I offered to drive one of his horses in Pirate of Zanzibar, because John just doesn’t get on with it at all!” Stevens admitted to having a quiet celebration at home after his horse got the chocolates. “I don’t mind a glass of red now and again. I probably spoilt myself and had an extra one or two that night,” he said. Morris said he had been “extremely lucky” during his time in the sport, adding that all his horses over the years had stemmed from some foundation broodmare lines. Del’s Doll (Adios Delmer - Hanover Bands (Ribands) was bred by legendary Noel Simpson, with the other foundation mares being full sisters in Annbank and Steda Money (Gaviland - Ardeer (Danny Hanover). “We got Del’s Doll from a clearing sale held by a well-known horseman back in the ‘80s in Greg Major, who was giving the game away,” Morris said. “She had some nice foals with the standout racetrack performer being Police Wagon, who got down to the fast class with 13 wins and 15 placings for about $40,000. Another fella that went okay was Nullabooma Lane (12 wins 7places for $20,000). “Then there was Nicotina Dauphine, who did her best work as a broodmare being the dam of Outer Limits, by Limited Partner, who had 27 wins and 25 placings for $139,000.” Steda Money was a mare all breeding buffs dream of owning! The mare was a full sister to the champion Steel Jaw, who quickly raced through the classes for Norm Lang, of NSW, claiming several Cups on his way. Steel Jaw Consecutive matings to Tarzan Blue Chip in 1985 and ‘86 saw Lord Greystoke (46 wins, 51 placings $243,000) and Heir To Greystoke (17 wins, 12 placings $83,250). Annbank produced Bank on a Touch Down (23 wins 14 places $96,000), Hue and Cry (11 wins 15 places $23,000) and Tour De Force (12 wins 12 places $17,000). And still highlighting the deeds of an absolute breeding gem in Steda Money, there was Validator (20 wins, 23 placings $69,700), The Cherokee (17 wins, 29 placings $57,000), and Star Silhouette (4 wins, 14 placings $17,000). Then in the breeding barn, Star Silhouette thrived with five foals to race, all being winners with the best possibly Mile High Heat (4 wins, 33 placings $31,000). Morris again showed a Midas touch when he retired moderate performer Miss Midnight (Northern Lights - Star Silhouette (The Contender) and sent her to stud. All five progeny to race have been winners. Heading the list is Showdown at Midnight (14 wins $108,000). Then there was Prince of Zanzibar (14 wins $60,000), The Love Child (2 wins $16,000), Princess of Zanzibar (1 win $8800) and now latest Echuca winner Heir of Zanzibar (2 wins $9800). However, it is an Auckland Reactor yearling colt, a full brother to Heir of Zanzibar, that has the Morris stable bubbling with excitement. “He’s just doing everything so nicely. We broke him in with little trouble and he’s a lovely pacer,” Morris said. Auckland Reactor “We actually haven’t had any issues with the Auckland Reactor breed at all. I’m super impressed and I honestly believe we are getting a better type of horse from that particular sire.” So, while the two mates are always quick to congratulate each other on success, the friendly crossfire looks sure to continue at the stable complex in the years ahead. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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

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

It was Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup night at Frank Ryan Raceway situated on the banks of the Campaspe River on Friday March 21, with a large crowd in attendance to witness harness racing on the tight 804 metre circuit. A massive ten event card was programmed keeping those on track active all throughout the evening in anticipation of the feature event scheduled as race number eight. The Cup itself, a $25,390 standing start race (Discretionary Handicapped) for M0 or better class horses over 2530 metres was taken out by the in-form Philip Nott bred and raced seven year old Village Jasper / Any Danger gelding Arber. Trained at Anakie by Tim Bolitho who should take plenty of accolades for the marvellous job he has done with the horse since joining the stable, Arber driven by Greg Sugars was quickly away from a lone 10 metre handicap, with Sugars wasting no time in sending him forward to park outside the favourite Jadahson which crossed the old timer Baltic Eagle after travelling a couple of hundred metres. Gavin Lang urged Riverboat Jasper (one/three) forward mid-race to shadow the leader giving Arber the cover he was looking for and nothing changed until the bell when Kerryn Manning angled Narra Operative three wide from near last to commence a run. Arber was eased three wide in the back straight on the final occasion and quickly joined Jadahson prior to the home turn. Finishing brilliantly, Arber had 1.2 metres to spare on the wire to defeat Jadahson in a rate of 2-02.2 (last half 58.9 – quarter 29.9), with the Riverina visitor Itcan Happen using the sprint lane from five back the markers after a slow beginning third. It was Arber’s third country cup for the season, having already captured both the Stawell and Wangaratta features. Seven year old Sierra Kosmos / Panbrake gelding Tsonga was a tough victor of the $12,390 J A Connelly Crystal Bucket for T5 or better class trotters (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2530 metres. Trained at Bolinda by Paul Males and driven by Shepparton based David Moran, Tsonga stepped cleanly from a 30 metre backmark on this occasion to tack on to the field, with Gazoline showing his customary slick beginning tolead from barrier four. With the speed nothing to write home about, Nathan Jack sent the favourite Theywannacallmesue forward through the middle stages to join the leader, with Tsonga also being sent forward with a lap and a half to travel. Trapped on a limb three wide for the remainder of the journey, Tsonga showed tremendous courage to join the leaders on straightening a forge clear to score by 5.4 metres in a mile rate of 2-06 over Wildenstein (three back the markers – one/one home turn), with Gazoline holding down third. A former smart juvenile, Tsonga had recorded 14 wins and 24 placings from 76 race appearances. Narrandera trainer/driver Blake Jones a regular visitor to the Victorian scene, took the honours for the night with a stable double – Rustys Reject taking the Kevin Phillips Pace for C4 to C6 class and Bryce Cooper the 3rd Heat of the George Croxford Tribute for Three Year Olds. Videos are attached Len Baker Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Moama breeder/owner/trainer/driver Mal Whiteford was successful at his home track Frank Ryan Raceway Echuca on Tuesday December 3, when more than handy four year old Artesian/Kamwood Toy mare Kamwood Dawn scored in the Christies Welding Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 1755 metres. Settling mid-field in the moving line from gate four on the second line, Kamwood Dawn was set alight three wide approaching the bell and with a sharp turn of speed, crossed the pacemaker Billy Branach to lead for the final circuit. Holding a slender margin at the straight entrance, Kamwood Dawn defied all challengers to register a 1.2 metre victory over the heavily supported Final Flutter which moved outside her on the final bend after an easy time, with Billy Branach battling away gamely for third. The mile rate 1-59.4. It was Kamwood Girl's 3rd victory in 28 outings. Kilmore's Bruce Kennedy always sends his horses out looking a picture and four year old Four Starzzz Shark/Krisney mare Krisney Girl rewarded him by taking the Add Print Pace for C0 class over 1755 metres in a rate of 2-01.4 with Chris Alford in the sulky. Starting from gate two on the second line, Krisney Girl had most of the field ahead of her for the first lap, before gaining a lovely three wide trail home in the last lap on the back of the Riverina visitor Donated which was backed for plenty, with the pair joining the pacemaker Direct Art on the home turn. Given full rein on turning, Krisney Girl prevailed by 1.9 metres from Donated and Direct Art which led for the final circuit after racing outside Miss Wong Sue for the first half of the journey. Kyneton part-owner/trainer Tony Trimboli's Earl/Arnees Sensation six year old gelding Arctic Wolf snared his 6th victory in 89 race appearances, when successful in the Wandana Standardbreds Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2530 metres. With regular reinsman Tony Xiriha handling the ribbons, Arctic Wolf from the 10 metre mark was unable to cross Featherfoot Sun shortly after the start, being restrained for a perfect trail. Easing into the open approaching the bell, Xiriha put the foot to the floor to lead for the final circuit and in a punishing finish, just held on from Doctor Sam which failed by a nose and Featherfoot Sun in a mile rate of 2-07.8. Speedy Kilmore mare Modern Mary chalked up her 8th victory when greeting the judge in the $5,500 Echuca Moama Storage Moama Pacing Cup for C4 & C5 class over 2160 metres. Trained by Julie Mifsud and driven by sister-in-law Rita Burnett, Modern Mary a five year old daughter of Modern Art and Marys Girl first up since August, began like a rocket from outside the front line to lead running into the first turn and after being rated a treat, held too many guns at the finish for the hot favourite Gangster Boy which trailed, moving outside her on the final bend, with Fergus McCool (threeback the markers) third. The mile rate 1-59.4. Melton trainer "Honest" Robbie O'Connell combined with stable apprentice Zac Phillips to land the Moama Bowling Club Pace for C1 class over 2160 metres with eight year old E Dees Cam/Universal Alice gelding Juke Kartel. Given a beaut passage three back along the markers from gate two on the second line, Juke Kartel was eased to be one/one approaching the final bend and when taken three wide on turning, ran home strongly to score by 6.3 metres in a rate of 2-00.7 from Brother Rabbit which trailed the weakening leader and third placed Transaction. Juke Kartel was also a winner at the previous Echuca meeting on October 1. Ever reliable nine year old Peace of Art/Bubblegum mare Bubble Art always races well at this time of year, bringing up her 13th victory by taking the Choicehotels.com.au Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1755 metres much to the delight of Wallaloo East (Stawell) trainer/driver Troy Raven and the Raven family. Using a mares concession, Bubble Art starting from the pole was given a sweet trip on the back of the leader and favourite Lookatime Philo next to her, which crossed after racing roughly at the start. Easing wide on straightening, Bubble Art despite shifting out, gained the day by a half neck over Goldiedomic along the sprint lane off her back, with Scottish Glamour (one/one - three wide last lap) third. The mile rate 1-59.9. Marong trainer Trevor Patching has been a regular competitor at Echuca over the years and snared the Bendigo Bank Vicbred Pace for C0 class over 2160 metres with lightly raced 8-Y-0 Safely Kept/Westmoor Elegance gelding Sherpa Star in a rate of 2-03.2. Given the run of the race from the pole following Foyer (gate five), Sherpa Star making his 11th race appearance was eased away from the markers by Nathan Jack on the home turn and finished best to gain the day by 2.5 metres in advance of Foyer and Thelove Child (three back the markers). Serpentine trainer Robert Rothacker joined forces with Daryl Douglas to capture the Echuca Cup 21 March Pace for C0 class over 2160 metres with five year old Art Major/Rachelanne mare Policious. Having her 9th outing and second for the season, Policious from gate three on the second line settled well back in the field, making ground at the bell trailing the well backed Thankbonnie three wide. Dropping in for a breather in the final circuit as Thankbonnie applied pressure to the pacemaker Pascarma, striding clear approaching the home turn, Policious issued an immediate challenge on turning and raced clear over the concluding stages to score from Pascarma which came again, with Miss Tanami running on late to cut Thankbonnie out of third. The mile rate 2-02.6. Robert gained all the spoils as he is the breeder/owner/trainer. Benalla trainer Jason Ross combined with Nathan Jack aboard 4-Y-0 Blissful Hall/Flighty Lisa mare The Hen House to land the New Years Night Hot To Trot Vicbred Pace for C0 class over 2160 metres, leading virtually throughout from gate four in defeating Brown Rice and Katie Lively in a rate of 2-01.7. By Len Baker  

Rochester's Mark Thompson has enjoyed a great run with his pacers, especially over the past decade or so and snared a stable double at his local track Echuca on Tuesday July 2, with Lies and Drunken Desire winning their respective races, both handled to perfection by stable reinsperson Ellen Tormey.

Two harness racing meetings were held in Victoria on Wednesday June 5 - Horsham in the afternoon and Echuca at night.

It was Alabar Echuca Pacing Cup Night at the Murray River town of Echuca on Friday March 22, with the $25,000 harness racing feature event going the way of Great Western trainer/driver Kerryn Manning's Kiwi bred 5-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Starling gelding Our Blackbird in a rate of 2-02.6.

Smart four year old Dawn Ofa New Day/Our Madame gelding Daylight Dan resumed with an impressive victory in the Campaspe Valley Motors Pace for C0 class over 1755 metres at the Gunbower Harness Racing Club fixture held at Echuca on Tuesday December 18.

Wahring (Shepparton) trainer Daniel Jack snared the quinella in the GTS Farm Supplies Tongala Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2160 metres at the Echuca harness racing meeting held on Tuesday November 27, with four year old mares Chloe Vargarita and Charm Alarm - Chloe Vargarita being the victor.

Echuca's Thursday harness racing meeting was a mixed one for punters, with both favoured and long shot runners saluting the judge.

Popular Elmore harness racing trainer Frank Barac knocked quaddie punters for a six after winning the final leg - the Jack Hunter Memorial Pace for C4 to C6 class over 2160 metres at Frank Ryan Raceway Echuca on Tuesday May 15 with $26.10 chance Madam Altissimo who turned in a best ever performance.

The traditional New Year's night Echuca harness racing fixture attracted a large crowd at Frank Ryan Raceway to witness exciting racing all through the evening, with most winners coming from the outlying areas.

Echuca played host to the Gunbower HRC meeting held at Frank Ryan Raceway on Tuesday December 13, with keen harness racing the order of the night.

Harness racing returned to Echuca on Wednesday November 30, when a neat seven event program was held featuring the $5,000 Echuca Harness Ladies Committee Moama Trotters Cup and the $5,000 Echuca Moama Storage Moama Pacing Cup.

Glenn Douglas might have his maiden Metropolitan Trainers' Premiership all parcelled up, but the prolific Bendigo horseman is keen to gear up at least one winner at tomorrow night's (Thursday August 26) final city-class meeting of the harness racing season at Melton's Tabcorp Park.

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