Day At The Track
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When competitive sportsman Rick Cashman decided the time was right to give away football and cricket, he desperately wanted to focus on something else. "In the end it was probably an easy decision to get involved 'hands on' in harness racing because I'd owned a few horses with well-known personality Rob Auber," Cashman said. "But the idea of training my own stable of horses and perhaps one day driving them really did appeal," he said. "So aged 43 years, I took leave from my public service job and went and did the course offered at Warragul's Gippsland Harness Training Centre." Cashman graduated from the centre 11 months later, and described the course as "absolutely awesome". "I'd attend most days from 7am to 1pm and I just cannot speak highly enough of the thorough way all aspects of harness racing were covered. It's a fantastic opportunity," he said. "When I did it, the co-ordinator was Des Hughes, with the training teacher being Chris Hunter and they were brilliant. There were also others you could turn to, like veteran horseman Gordon Turner." And now Cashman is one of a number of trainers based at the Cranbourne Harness Training Centre complex, which he describes as "a great amenity with everything a horse trainer would want". "I only live 10 minutes from the track, but I'm up at 4.30 most mornings to do the horses and then it's off to my job in the taxation office." Eight-year-old gelding Danman (Village Jasper-Ritzy Emm (Armbro Operative) caused a huge boil over at his home track on Sunday for Cashman, being the 25/1 rank outsider in the SBG Accountants & Business Advisors Pace. "His fast work leading up to the race was quite good. I don't get ahead of myself with him however as he played up at the start in his previous run, and was always off the bit," Cashman said. "But when my driver Shannon O'Sullivan was able to zip across early and grab the one-out and one-back spot, my confidence was up a little," he said. "On the home turn he looked like he was struggling, but he puts his head down over the last 100 metres and kept coming." Hobby trainer Cashman and a group of friends leased Danman as an unraced four-year-old from the horse's owner Trevor Reid. "He ran second on debut then was lucky enough to win and get the bonus for Trevor. He's now won 12 races and has been a great learning horse for me," he said. "I got to know Trevor through his work - he does fencing and did some work at our place. We later purchased Dansbro (Elsu-Ritzy Emm) from Trevor, a half-brother to Danman." Dansbro has gone on to record six wins (all courtesy of reinsman Greg Sugars) and three placings from 20 starts. Cashman was also full of praise for junior driver O'Sullivan, who is based at Heathcote. The youngster, studying a Bachelor of Exercise Science at La Trobe Uni, Bendigo, is daughter of legendary horseman and Gordon Rothacker Medallist, Jim O'Sullivan. "Shannon has now driven 18 winners, three of those on old Danman, and looks to have a bright driving career ahead of her," he said. Cashman is now aiming his pair of talented pacers for a tilt at an upcoming Melton meeting. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The next generation of harness racing participants can now learn from one of the best after Group 1 winner Charlie Machsheen joined Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Manager Jenni Lewis was thrilled to accept the Vicbred Super Series winner, who amassed $324,730 in stakes across a 117-race career that included 19 wins. The 10-year-old Mach Three gelding had his last start for owners Ted and Merryn Demmler and Tineke Lochhead at Menangle on March 27, after which they decided to draw the curtain on his distinguished career. "His owners felt he had done enough and thought he could be of great service to us," Lewis said. "I heard from Ted and Merryn on Wednesday, picked him up on Friday morning and brought him back. He's just perfect. He went out on the track for the first time today and is a real gentleman." Lewis said having a Group-level competitor permanently stationed at the centre's Warragul facility would be invaluable for its students. "This is a chance for the students to feel what a really good horse is like," she said. "It's not often the students get to experience a Group 1 winner, they give you a different feel. "It's hard to explain it, they have a presence the average horse doesn't have. You can't get the smile off your face. It's just great being around him, he's just such a professional." Lewis said time spent with Charlie Machsheen would expose students to what a Group-level horse felt like, potentially helping them when purchasing their own racehorses down the track and also exposing them to a range of high-level experiences. So, while his racing career is over, he will still see plenty of the racecourse. "We will use him for all facets of training, from driving to gearing him up and handling him," she said. "Students will do jogwork, fastwork, standing starts - he's an all-rounder and there's nothing he can't teach them. "He is quite a tall horse, about 17 hands, and so it is a chance for the students to gear up a bigger horse. They can also enjoy watching videos of him winning big races and then experience driving them himself." by Michael Howard, for Harness Racing Victoria  

If you or someone you know has ever considered an exciting career in the trots, the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo and Gippsland Harness Training Centre can make your dream a reality. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today launched a social media advertising campaign ('Saddle up for a career in the Trots' and 'Want to make a career out of horsing around?' aimed at highlighting the opportunities for secondary school students, and others, to secure a career in the trots. The two industry training centres, Bendigo and Gippsland, are offering a range of industry training programs in 2018. Government funding is available for eligible students and fees may be further reduced for eligible Health Care card holders. Participation in these courses may also enable Youth Allowance or Austudy for eligible students. Certificates I, II and III are suitable for all levels of horse and industry experience and the centres will work with students to determine the best pathway in relation to current skills and knowledge. The Certificate IV courses require some experience with horses and/or racing. Importantly, courses are open to students who are still attending secondary school as either a School Based Apprentice/Trainee (SBAT) or a full fee for service student (no government funding). In either case the course contributes units to the successful completion of a student’s VCE or VCAL. The training programs and qualifications on offer this year are: Harness Racing Victoria Online Licence Course Certificate I in Racing  (Stablehand) Certificate II in Racing (Stablehand) Certificate III in Racing (Advanced Stablehand) Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer) Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver). The certificate courses can be completed in the following ways: Full or part-time student Full or part-time in a harness racing workplace As an apprentice or trainee. For more information, contact Vicki Moro at for Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo queries and Jenni Lewis at for Gippsland Harness Training Centre. The certificate level qualifications have national recognition and may attract Victorian and/or Commonwealth funding for eligible students. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The twenty first graduation dinner for the Gippsland Harness Training Centre was staged in Warragul last Saturday night. Students celebrated a successful year of studies at the Centre, which operates from the Warragul harness race track at Logan Park. Several awards were presented on the night in recognition of the efforts of particular students who excelled in their studies this year. Warragul and District Light Harness Club Student of the Year award was presented to Kaitlyn Payne, and the Ted Demmler Encouragement award was won by Tracey Brooks, who has commenced employment with Yabby Dam Farms, one of Victoria's leading trotting establishments. The Angelique Club award was received by Mary Back, while the Dani Lewis Memorial award was won by Katherine Atkins, and the VETiS (VET in Schools program) award went to Shannon Sutcliffe. Community College Gippsland CEO Sue Geals thanked the Centre staff and volunteers for their efforts in co-ordinating the courses this year on behalf of the college. Sue congratulated the students on their successful year. She said that while the local harness racing industry may not be big on numbers of participants, there is a great level of dedication to the sport in the Gippsland region. Also on the night, past GHTC graduate Montana McStay told the audience of her experiences this year, working with several leading trotting stables as the recipient of the second Victorian harness racing internship. Montana said the past 12 months, travelling the state and learning all aspects of the trotting industry, have bought her out of her comfort zone and have provided her with memories and skills that will last a lifetime. She encouraged the current intake of students to consider the internship when it is offered again soon. The connections Montana has established in the industry, and experiences she has been offered, will shortly see her travel to the United States to one of their leading standardbred establishments. Well known trots Clerk of the Course and former top jumps jockey Kevin Wynne was also presented with a plaque in recognition of almost two decades of service to local harness racing on the night. Kyle Galley

Janine Stewart, who last year graduated from the Gippsland Harness Training Centre as Student of the Year, took the next step on her journey in the harness racing industry when she trained her first race winner on Monday afternoon. Glam Rock's win was fittingly at Warragul, where Janine learnt the ropes at the Training Centre as a mature age student, earning her stablehand and trainer's licences along the way. She only had her first runner in a race in February with Glam Rock, and his victory on Monday has kick started her training career in fine style. Monday's race was for prizemoney of only $3500, however the stakes value was the last thing on the mind of the horse's excited trainer after the event. Janine explained that Glam Rock had been struggling in races for higher prizemoney, against stronger opposition, so the drop in class to a race like the one on Monday gave the pacer every chance of winning. Driven by leading reinsman Greg Sugars, who steered four of the eight winners on the day, Glam Rock had been unsuccessful in 33 races before Monday, the four-year-old also recording his first race victory in the process. Janine only trains the one horse, at the South Oakleigh "Southern Speedways" stable complex, where several hobby trainers prepare horses. A fellow past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, Rick Cashman, also provided Greg Sugars with a winner when Danman won the seventh race. Rick and Danman have now won six races from 31 starts. Capping off a great day for Greg Sugars were the wins of Illawong Patrick in the Trotters Handicap and An Alliance in the three-year-old, both horses trained by his father, Ross. Feature race on Monday was the $9500 Ken Miller Memorial Pace Final, from qualifying heats at Warragul on May 22. Cranbourne trainer Jayne Davies won the event with Ravello Rock, driven by Nathan Jack. The event was a keen contest, with Ravello Rock proving too strong after moving to the position outside the leader mid-race. Top reinsman Chris Alford drove two winners on Monday, and an intriguing battle between him and Greg Sugars looms for the Warragul Drivers' Premiership with two race meetings left in the current racing season. Alford drove locally owned and trained two-year-old Rocknroll Pearl to an easy win in the second race. Trained by Gary Quinlan and raced by the Fusinato family, a daughter of their brilliant race mare Jazzam, Rocknroll Pearl raced away from her rivals in the final circuit to score by 23 metres. Alford also drove Shartin to win the last race. The filly looked a very good chance of winning the Warragul race, given that she had won the Tasmanian Oaks at her previous start! Punters were scratching their heads after Lanista won the sixth race, at odds of almost 50/1 on the tote. Red hot favourite Professor Tom was beaten for the second Warragul meeting in a row, but should bounce back for connections soon. Local trots followers won't have to take an annual leave day for the next Warragul meeting - it is a Sunday program, featuring the Traralgon Pacing Cup, on July 23. Kyle Galley

There are eight races set for the harness racing Warragul meeting this Wednesday, February 15. Entries are strong across the program, with good numbers in most events. A strong contingent of local horses will compete, with about half of the total starters engaged from the region. Last start winner Run Myles Run, for Gippsland Harness Training Centre graduate Alan Ratnasingham, could start the day on a successful note for punters. Despite drawing wide on the mobile barrier, Run Myles Run is a strong chance of making it two victories on end - he is the only horse in the seven runner field to have won a race in their last four starts. Smart local four-year-old Professor Tom returns to the races in the fourth event. Raced by Warragul HRC committeeman Grant Rathjen and trained by Gary Quinlan, Professor Tom will have to overcome a back row draw on the mobile barrier over the short 1790 metre journey. Premier reinsman Chris Alford will have to choose which drive he takes between stablemates Courageous Call and Toscas Delight in the last race. The last is one of the better quality races on the program, boasting several horses in good form. Former Kiwi Our Mcardle Star returns to racing in the seventh event. A winner of two out of three runs in Australia last year, the five-year-old last raced at Shepparton in December for trainer Ahmed Taiba, who usually does well when he brings horses across to Warragul. Earlier, the second event looks a real lottery with no real standout in the eight horse field. Local hopes rest with La Patata, British General and Monterey Jack, all drawn off the front row. With fine and warm weather forecast, racing commences on Wednesday at 1:17pm. Female drivers competing on Wednesday will wear teal coloured driving pants, as part of a nationwide promotion raising awareness, and funds from race winning drives, for ovarian cancer research. Kyle Galley

Young Warragul harness racing trainer Brad Walters will prepare his first race starter on his home track next Wednesday afternoon. Brad trains the six-year-old trotting mare Miss Intense, who lines up for her debut race in the opening event at the twilight meeting at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. On breeding, Miss Intense could make the grade - she is a half-sister to the former outstanding local trotter Billy Royle, trained by Jenni Lewis, who owns Miss Intense. Miss Intense is trained on the track, and Brad will know exactly how the course will race on Wednesday, given that he is in charge of preparing the Pacing Bowl for racing. He is a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and will be looking forward to seeing his horse compete on Wednesday. Wednesday's race is a real local affair - as well as Miss Intense five other local trainers are represented in the nine horse field, the largest number of district trained horses in a Trotters Handicap at Warragul for some time. Hardest of the locals to beat will be Omy Son, an impressive winner on the track last month, who has also won again since. Trafalgar trotter Slancio is experienced, and ran a nice second to Omy Son at his first run from a spell last time out. Last start local winners Sammy Seelster and Zipping Elmo have come up with good barrier draws in an attempt to repeat the dose on Wednesday. Entry is free to the six race card which kicks off at 2:33pm, with a host of children's activities planned for the school holiday event. Kyle Galley

People interested in starting careers in the harness industry or seeing how a racing training stable runs on a trial race day can attend a 'Come and Try Day' at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre (GHTC). The centre, which operates a fully operational stable with racing horses, will be open on Saturday January 28 from 8am to 12.30 to showcase staff, students and horses as they participate in trial races at the Warragul Pacing Bowl barrier trials. GHTC Trainer, Des Hughes, said a highlight will be an opportunity for visitors to experience a drive in a double sulky - the cart the driver rides behind the horse. "Visitors will also be able to see gearing up, grooming, and washing of horses." He said the Gippsland Harness Training Centre prepares people for careers working with horses as stablehands, trainers and drivers as well as horse owners who want to increase their knowledge and skills to handle and care for horses. "The 'Come and Try Day' is a great way to see this unique facility in Victoria where people learn and train with horses everyday. People can talk to staff and students about courses, qualifications, career pathways and the support available locally for people to get into the industry", he said. Community College Gippsland manages the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Logan Park race track at Warragul and provides a fully operational stable with race horses for students to learn hands-on with horses and perform real track work. For further information on the Gippsland Harness Training Centre phone Community College Gippsland on (03) 5622 6000 or email    

Two graduates of the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre were in the winner's circle at Cranbourne last Saturday night. Local horsewoman Kylee Paull bought up her first training victory with her horse Whiskey Business in the Monte, or ridden trot race. Kylee has been a regular competitor in these under saddle races - she rode a winner at Geelong earlier this year but last weekend was the first time she had partnered her own horse to victory. Whiskey Business had been getting close to a win for some time, doing a good job against strong opposition. The horse has proven quite capable at the saddle events, and the victory will only do his confidence the world of good. He led all the way on Saturday night, and Kylee was delighted with the well deserved win. Steve Austen has recently moved to West Gippsland, having trained at the South Oakleigh circuit for some years. His horse Monterey Jack won the last race of the night on Saturday, the horses first victory for Steve. Steve was one of the early graduates of the GHTC, which celebrates 20 years of operation in January. This year's intake of students at the Centre will attend their presentation awards night at the Warragul harness race track this Saturday evening.

There will be a hell of a party up Stawell way on Saturday night if harness racing trainer Owen Martin’s pacer takes line honours in the Harness Breeders Victoria Jane Ellen. Victory in the $30,575 Group 3 mares race would deliver Martin, 63, the trots trainer’s first victory at Group level and in Hellovaway he has a genuine hope. “It would be a dream come true if she won,” Martin said. “I just hope she runs a good race and whatever happens will happen.” A winner in three of her last five starts, Hellovaway has twice tasted success at Tabcorp Park Melton across her 37 starts, most recently in the Gippsland Racing Training Centre Pace on November 20. The six-year-old has raced twice at Group level, running a competitive seventh in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series four-year-old mares final at her fifth career start, and then sixth in the Mark Gurry and Associates Cup at Mildura on April 9. Participation alone is notable, given the mare by Dream Away out of Jilliby Jasmine began in modest terms. “(Me and a mate) went to Mount Gambier to look at another horse and then on the way back went to the Cravens (in Terang), who had her advertised,” Martin said. “She was only a small thing and they couldn’t get her going. We bought her, it wasn’t much money, about $1000.” It wasn’t until deep into age four that she made it to the track.  “She grew, but it was a hell of a lot of trouble to get her to pace around corners,” Martin said. “I gradually got her confidence up and she started to find her feet. “She never showed anything brilliant, I thought she might win one or two races, but once she started racing she just got better. She is headstrong, she did her own thing sometimes and that made her look average. Now she has put it together.” She first stepped on to a race track on May 31 at Ballarat and from barrier four found the front and cleared away to win by 13.7m. “She was a one-paced sort of horse, then we went to Ballarat for her first start and she won in a 1:56.7 mile rate in a C0,” Martin said. “She showed that much speed that night we almost fell over. I think she’s a true racehorse, her work at home is OK without being spectacular, but once she gets to the race track she turns it on.” She is now, at age six, 37 starts in which have produced nine victories and a further nine placings for $57,367 in stakes. That includes three wins amid four placings in her last five starts, and Martin said his stable was in good order owing to more than a drop of rain. “We had it very dry out here for a long time and a lot of the horses get sick of being fed dry hay and having no green grass for them,” Martin said. “I was carrying bore water for them and that was a bit of factor too. “(This year's rain) is one of the best years we’re had for 10 or 12 years. The paddocks are just starting to get a bit wet. It can keep raining as far as I’m concerned.” The grass may only get greener on Saturday night, though Hellovaway will have to see off some nice types to claim the night’s feature, with David Aiken’s Quick Draft and Beach Shack among participants.  “(Hellovaway) will be very competitive in that run,” Martin said. “She has terrific gate speed and I don’t think they will want to hold her out, because she could sit out in the death seat and poor pressure on. “David Aiken got’s two nice types in the race, but I think she will definitely make it a true race.” Michael Howard

It was fitting that a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre should win a race at Warragul's trots meeting on Monday afternoon, on a day when the Centre's importance to the Victorian harness racing industry was recognised. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre has operated at the Warragul Pacing Bowl for almost 20 years, enhancing the life skills of and creating employment opportunities for hundreds of graduates over the past two decades. One such graduate, Yarra Valley horseman Ken Browne, landed a well deserved win in the third race on Monday with Hi Tech Fury. Browne has been a long standing participant in the Gippsland area, and is currently based at the Gruyere property of veteran horseman Peter Goudie, after recently leaving the position of track curator at the Cranbourne harness venue. Browne is also a regular among the raceday staff at Warragul. Driver Michael Bellman took Hi Tech Fury to the front in Monday's race, and despite the pace of the race quickening sharply heading into the last circuit, the nine-year-old gelding kept on finding in the home straight, to score his eleventh win at start 139. Champion reinsman Chris Alford landed two of the seven winners on the day. Soho Ledger gave Alford and trainer Jayne Davies few concerns when winning the Trotters Handicap as a red hot favourite. The horse made it wins at successive Warragul meetings after a victory on the track a fortnight earlier. Alford also steered the Allan McDonough trained Tiz A Jamane to victory in the final event. Mornington Peninsula horseman Trevor Reid landed the opening race of the day with Elteearr, the five-year-old mare's first race victory at start five. Young driver Zac Phillips also showed his talent with race wins in successive events. Phillips drove Starzzz Of Icon to win the fifth event for Melton horseman Adam Kelly, while Gozo Lighting showed a welcome return to form for trainer George Batsakis in the sixth. Fellow junior reinsman Patrick Franklin steered Glenhuggard to victory in the fourth race for trainer Paul Green. Glenhuggard was another veteran winner on the day - the nine-year-old having raced 124 times previously for nine wins and 21 placings. Warragul hosts its final meeting of the 2015/2016 Victorian racing season on Monday, August 20. Kyle Galley

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