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Harness Racing Victoria’s May and June $1500 breeding vouchers are helping keep breeders in the game. To date, 26 fillies and mares’ races have been run since HRV announced on March 28 that for a two-month period all 177 fillies and mares’ races would carry a $1500 breeding voucher bonus – $1000 to the breeder and $500 to the owner. This is a stimulus of $115,500 to the breeding industry. Ian Kitchin and Stephen Clarke are two of 25 individual breeders who have so far picked up a $1000 breeding voucher in May. Kitchin bred Larajay Macray, who he races with trainer Jess Tubbs, while Clarke bred, races and trains Miss McGonagall. Because Kitchin and Clarke not only bred their fillies but also race them, they will each pick up the full $1500 worth of vouchers. “I shelled out $35,000 two years ago and $25,000 last year, anything coming back the other way certainly makes things much more palatable and this will certainly help keep people in the breeding game,” Kitchin said. “Absolutely I welcome this initiative. It will help lessen the burden on the breeders and that’s really important.” Clarke, who calls himself a “small breeder”, said the $1500 incentive would probably be the difference between breeding next season and not. “Hell yeah,” he declared. “It certainly does help. Perhaps at this stage to be honest I hadn’t been thinking about breeding at all, but this helps out a lot and is probably not good news for my wife because she reckons I’ve got too many horses as it is. “The more we can get back the better. The more incentive, especially for the smaller breeders, perhaps this can help also get our mares served by the more upmarket stallions.” Breeding vouchers bonuses will continue to be attached to all Victorian fillies and mares’ races until the end of June, and HRV also announced this week that all 12 Vicbred Super Series winners would receive a $1500 breeding voucher this year.   Cody Winnell Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has announced a crackdown on trainers presenting horses to race with an elevated TC02 (total carbon dioxide) level. HRV Integrity will implement a new policy on June 1 designed to reduce the number of horses presenting with elevated TC02 levels and disrupt/prevent the likelihood of illegal raceday treatment. For there to be a breach of the prohibited substance rules in regard to the elevated TC02 in a blood sample taken from a horse, the level needs to exceed 37mmol/L (36mmol/L +/-1mmol/L). From June 1, where a blood sample collected from a horse returns a TC02 level of greater than 35.1mmol/L, HRV stewards will implement one of the following options for that horse’s next three race starts. Option A 1. The trainer of the relevant horse shall ensure it is present on course no less than four hours prior to the scheduled start time in which the horse is entered at a Victorian harness racing meeting. 2. Should a trainer fail to present the horse by the required time the horse shall be withdrawn from the race and the trainer may be subject to penalty. 3. Should the horse be transferred to another trainer within the period of 3 starts the new trainer can make application for the restrictions to be lifted by HRV stewards. 4. HRV will publish a list on its website of all horses required to be presented under this policy. Option B 1. The trainer of the horse which returned an elevated TC02 level shall be retained on course for a minimum of three hours after the horse has completed its scheduled race at a Victorian harness racing meeting. 2. Should a trainer fail to abide by this requirement the trainer may be subject to a penalty. 3. Should the horse be transferred to another trainer within the period of three starts the new trainer can make application for the restrictions to be lifted by HRV stewards. 4. HRV will publish a list on its website of all horses required to be presented under this policy.   Option C 1. The Stewards shall attend the registered training address of the trainer of the horse which returned the elevated TC02 level for as long as is deemed reasonably necessary on the day of the race to supervise the pre-race preparation of the subject horse(s) when engaged at a Victorian race meeting. The intention of this action is to disrupt and prevent the likelihood of any race day treatment occurring. 2. Should a trainer fail to abide or hinder this requirement the trainer may be subject to penalty. 3. Should the horse be transferred to another trainer within the period of 3 starts the new trainer can make application for the restrictions to be lifted by HRV Stewards. 4. HRV will publish a list on its website of all horses required to be presented under this policy. One of the above options will be chosen at the discretion of stewards, with consideration given to factors which include – but are not limited to – current intelligence, venue of the race meeting, and other options that may have been utilised in respect of that horse and/or licenced trainer. Trainers may seek to spell the horse while these obligations are in place and stewards shall enforce these options irrespective of the time taken for the three starts to elapse. Trainers may also seek to race the subject horse in quick succession in order for their obligation to be completed as soon as possible. At this stage there will be no minimum time period allocated for such obligations to be completed by the trainer, however stewards will review this policy within six months and if deemed necessary make changes after further consultation with the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association.   Harness Racing Victoria Cody Winnell

The trots will be taking part in the 3AW Very Special Kids 24-Hour Treadmill Challenge. This Friday (May 24) Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) General Manager – Marketing Andrew English (pictured preparing at the gym) will pound the treadmill from 8.30am on the Neil Mitchell show and he’s encouraging the industry to dig deep to support a wonderful cause. “You simply can’t put into words the importance of the work performed by the Very Special Kids organisation,” Mr English said. “This vital service, looking after children with life-threatening conditions and their families, costs more than $8.5million every year to provide, so the organisation relies on the generosity of Victorians and corporate sponsorship. “I’m encouraging everyone today, all trots fans and industry participants especially, to dig deep and contribute what you can so that families and children receive the support they deserve at such a traumatic time in their lives.” Very Special Kids cares for children with life-threatening conditions by providing a children’s hospice and professional family support services.  3AW‘s studio treadmills will be in continuous motion for 24 hours and the station is hoping it can help contribute at least $20,000 to the overall goal of $1 million. Mr English has been getting into shape for the Challenge at the Racing Victoria on-site gym and says he feels ready to perform on the big stage. “I’m looking forward to doing my part although I would say to anyone who thinks time flies, try getting on a treadmill for half an hour! I’ll just be concentrating on staying upright for my slot,” he said. Various trots programs, HRV HERO, Trots Vision at thetrots.com.au, Own the Moment and GoodForm have kicked off the harness donations with $250 each adding to the industry’s early fundraising tally of $1000. To donate to the cause visit the website: https://vsktreadmill2019.everydayhero.com/au/andrew-9   Cody Winnell Trots Media

Vicbred horses raced for $9.13million more stakemoney than other horses in Victoria during season 2017-18. Last season, Vicbred horses picked up $4.6m in Vicbred win bonuses, while a further $4.5m of stakemoney was paid out on Vicbred-only races. This week Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) launched its 2019 Vicbred Super Series campaign, with the key message “Why wouldn’t you be Vicbred”? HRV CEO David Martin said it was important for a fresh approach to the Vicbred Super Series, one which focuses on the breeders and industry participants. “A vibrant local breeding industry is crucial to the overall wellbeing of our industry as a whole and the Vicbred program is a critical component,” Mr Martin said. “Vicbred eligible horses race for extra stakemoney through races and bonuses, so it certainly makes sense to think locally and think Vicbred during breeding season. “HRV and Harness Breeders Victoria are working hard and in regular consultation to look at ways to stimulate the breeding industry and the Vicbred program as we confront the historical challenge of a worldwide downturn in harness foal numbers.” Imamenace, who caused a boilover winning the 2014 Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotting Final   --Stuart McCormick photo A new naming rights partner has been signed for the pacing Vicbred Super Series this year, Alabar coming on board to join Aldebaran Park which sponsors the trotting races. “Alabar and Aldebaran Park have a deep appreciation and understanding of the breeding industry and the Vicbred program and we’re rapt they’re both on board with HRV to support this important race series,” HRV General Manager – Marketing Andrew English said. HRV today announced it will for the first time attach a $1500 breeding voucher to all 12 of this year’s Group 1 Vicbred Super Series finals. “When we announced the $1500 breeding vouchers for all fillies and mares’ races in May and June we said there would be more announcements on the way and this was one of those,” HRV General Manager – Racing Stephen Bell said. “Today’s announcement means a further $18,000 worth of breeding vouchers will be made available for Vicbred Super Series winning owners and breeders to reinvest in the local industry. “These vouchers are in addition to the $115,500 we committed to be reinvested to the industry through the May/June fillies and mares’ races.” This year’s VSS marketing campaign is centred on the Vicbred horse’s journey from foaling to racehorse to Vicbred champion. Explaining the concept, Mr English said: “Winning a Group 1 race is the dream and over the years the Vicbred Super Series has allowed stables big and small to taste top-level success. These are inspirational stories to tell; stories like Betty Hall and Immanence in recent years. This is what Vicbred is all about.” Flojos Gold, from Mildura, who won the 2015 2YO Vicbred Super Series Final   -Stuart McCormick photo July 5 and 6 will see two enormous nights of Vicbred Super Series action at Tabcorp Park Melton.  The Friday night will be all about the trotter as the finalists in the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series battle it out for supremacy.  The following Saturday night is all about the pacers as the Alabar Vicbred Super Series draws to an exciting climax with a cocktail function in the Legends Room on-course. Importantly, connections (including breeders) of Vicbred finalists will be treated to an evening of entertainment unlike any other as the “corporate” function becomes a colourful Vicbred celebration in the Legends Dining Room.   HRV Trots Media Cody Winnell

One of world harness racing’s all-time greatest drivers Chris Alford will join RSN’s Matt Stewart for a one-hour special edition of Open Mic tomorrow from 9am. Alford is approaching 7000 career winners and is at the peak of his powers, over 100 winners clear this season on the national premiership with 268 victories from 1121 starts. The champion reinsman has driven 99 Group 1 winners and looks a huge chance to crack the century when Tell Me Tales lines up in Saturday night’s $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific at Tabcorp Park Melton. Tune into RSN (927am or streamed at rsn.net.au) from 9am tomorrow as Stewart takes a trip down memory lane with the man they call “the Puppet”.   Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell today reaffirmed HRV's commitment to being "upfront and transparent with participants" regarding the national ratings based handicapping system, which the industry nationally has committed to from July 1. Mr Bell told HRV's Trots Media, "We need to get as much information out as possible about this exciting initiative that's going to hit Australia wide. It's really important for the trainers, owners and all the participants out there to know exactly what's happening with the new system when it comes out to play on the first of July."  HRV today released a document (view it here) explaining in detail the rationale behind the current ratings, which have been visible since May 1.   Cody Winnell  Trots Media

Vin McConnell, a Victorian harness racing trainer, driver, breeder and owner who had the sport "in his blood", has passed age 67. The Euroa farmer was the brother of the late Bernie McConnell and son of Hugh McConnell, a family who shared a rich passion for the trots according to Vin's wife of almost 29 years, Tracy. "It started out as a hobby for him," Mrs McConnell said. "He just loved it all. It was something that continued through his family's bloodlines." Mr McConnell shared the success of Another Season, who won 11 races, with his father and brother, the latter a trainer-driver who sadly passed at age 37 at Yarra Glen. Vin McConnell began to train and drive in his own right from 1984-85 and continued until 2000-2001, training 33 winners from 384 starts and driving 15 winners from 240 starts. He achieved a career highlight on June 27 1983 at Moonee Valley when Ted Demmler steered his trotter, Wanganui Wizard, to victory in the Victoria Harness Racing Club Trotters Derby. Mrs McConnell said more recently he had helped Euroa trainers David Jack and Cameron Maggs prepare their horses, where he would attend "five mornings a week, which kept him occupied". A service for Mr McConnell will be held at St John's Catholic Church, Kirkland Avenue, Euroa on Tuesday May 7 from 11am. The cortege will proceed at the conclusion of prayers to the Euroa Lawn Cemetery. All are welcome. Harness Racing Victoria extends its condolences to Vin McConnell's family and friends.   Harness Racing Victoria

Millions of Australians will pause on Anzac Day to remember the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, including many from Victoria’s trotting fraternity. Among them will be David Miles, whose father Marty served with the 1st Australian Civil Affairs Unit in Vietnam. The Monegeetta horseman said Anzac Day was a “very important day on the calendar”. “It is significant for the country; hopefully it never gets lost – I think we should respect what a lot of those men and women did for us,” Miles said. “We go to the Dawn Service most years. There are a lot of families the same way.” The Anzac Day Appeal raises funds to allow the RSL to tailor specialist services to the needs of servicemen and women and their families. To mark the appeal, special commemorative silks will be worn by the driver starting from gate one in the Anzac Day racing at Swan Hill tomorrow night. Miles supported the event by trying on the silks at Melton this month. “It’s a great initiative to make people aware, even the younger kids who maybe don’t get taught it in schools like we did at our age,” he said. “I think any funds that can be raised for charities like (the Anzac Day Appeal) is well deserved.” On the weekend Miles’ attention will turn to the $150,000 Lazarus Victoria Oaks, where he will pilot Enchanted Stride from outside the front row. He said the Tasmanian Oaks winner, who finished strongly behind Smart As Camm Be in her heat, would acquit herself well on Saturday night but needed the dice to roll her way. “She is going great; she’s a real honest little filly and she’s been real competitive in Group 1 class but from that barrier draw she’s going to find it really hard unfortunately,” he said. “She circled the field and ran on very well (in the heat but) the way the marbles have fallen we are going to need a lot of luck to go our way this week. But if that happens she’ll take advantage of it; she’s a real opportunist.”   Shaun Campbell for Trots Media

Thetrots.com.au's Trial File has returned from a hiatus with former Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) race caller and form expert Craig Rail now posting his extensive weekly trials' summary to deliver punters an edge! View the first edition of Craig Rail's Trial File here and check back each Friday morning for the latest edition. You can also follow Craig's Blackbookers, mentioned at the bottom of each Trial File article.   Cody Winnell Trots Media

A ticket to the big dance won't come easy for the fine crop of fillies who will step out in Saturday night's third Lazarus Victoria Oaks heat. The random draw has coupled Victorian two-year-old filly of the year Kualoa with fancied Arabella Star and Tangoingwithsierra, who drew gates one and two respectively and opened $4.40 with TAB.com.au. Lob in a multitude of pacers with winning form lines, in particular Soho Nolita, Mach Jodenkrist, Wellsaidlucy and Rise Above This, and a top four finish will be a mighty achievement in itself. That prospect is front of mind for reinsman Greg Sugars, who will steer trainer Jess Tubbs' three-year-old Betamerica from gate five in the 8.30pm feature. "I'm very happy with her," Sugars told RSN 927's Gait Speed today. "She showed as a two-year-old she wasn't too far off the best of her age group. "She's progressed nicely through this preparation. We decided to leave her home from Sydney (NSW Oaks), just didn't think she was quite ready to compete in a race like that. "This was always in the background, we wanted to try and have her the best we can for the Vic Oaks and we are very happy with her leading into it." But Sugars admitted the task at hand was a tough one given the strength of the heat. "She's going to have to be on top of her game just to even qualify because it's a pretty tough heat she's drawn," he said. "The (barrier) draw is probably not a great help either, but I think she's ready to stand up and be counted against these ones for sure."   HRV Trots Media

The champ's raring to go but the spotlight remains on McLovin in Andy Gath's camp after the stable's latest star added another Tabcorp Park Melton win. Kate Gath told Trots Vision that TAB Inter Dominion winner Tornado Valley was raring to get back into work but the reigning Victorian trotter of the year would continue to rest his heels while stablemate McLovin goes from strength-to-strength. "He was just out in front by himself and pretty laid back the big fella," Gath said of McLovin's win in Saturday night's Niota Bloodstock Sundons Gift Trotters Free For All. "He probably just needs one up there really pushing him to see what he can do. He's pretty nice and these races each week have been kind to him." Gath was pleased with McLovin's ability to easily shoot to the front from gate three, which could prove a valuable weapon down the track. "His gate speed was really good. He's getting faster and faster out of the gate. It's going to be a big bonus. "When (Tornado Valley and McLovin) clash it will be interesting if they are both going as good as they can at the same time. "Tornado Valley is still out in the paddock, but every time we go there he wants to come home. He can stay out there a little bit longer, he's a bit of a workhorse Tornado Valley and he doesn't like not doing much. We will give him a good spell, six weeks or something, and he will come back soon."   HRV Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) late last week circulated the final 2019-20 racing calendar to clubs. HRV General Manager – Racing Stephen Bell thanked clubs for their “proactive approach, willingness to change and their understanding when some wishes were just not feasible to deliver”. “During the process we received approximately 100 requests from the clubs with 85 per cent of those granted,” Mr Bell said. Key changes to the racing calendar for 2019-20 include:  Cranbourne – 14 Sunday race meetings to encourage participants to travel without the obstruction of midweek traffic issues (up from seven Sunday race meetings in 2018-19).  Geelong – 12 Wednesday night race meetings as the club’s preferred racing night (up from nine Wednesday night race meetings in 2018-19).  Kilmore – 15 Thursday night race meetings as the club’s preferred racing night (up from eight Thursday night race meetings in 2018-19).  Mildura – 13 Friday day race meetings to provide additional racing product during the late afternoon to early evening period on selected Fridays from mid-April to August.  Maryborough Gold Cup returns to a Sunday race meeting on October 20, 2019.  Cranbourne Gold Cup returns to a Christmas function race meeting on Saturday December 7, 2019.  Gunbower Pacing Cup moves to a Christmas function race meeting on Sunday December 8, 2019. “We believe we have constructed a fair and balanced calendar that will maximise wagering opportunities for the 2019-20 racing season. The introduction of the new handicapping system in the near future should assist in ensuring full fields and exciting racing throughout the season. There is a lot to look forward to,” Mr Bell said. “I would also like to thank Gary Bennetts for the amount of time and effort he puts into preparing the calendar. There are many variables that he must take into account, not just within our own industry but external factors out of his control such as other racing codes and Sky Racing requirements. “Gary’s attention to detail and determination for perfection is to be applauded.” Click here to view the 2019-20 Race Dates Calendar   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER Harness Racing Victoria

Luke Humphreys will join the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) race calling team.   Humphreys, 18, fills the position vacated by Craig Rail, who will move to New Zealand to start a new chapter in his life after 14 years with HRV.   HRV Media and Communications Manager Cody Winnell thanked Rail for his service and welcomed Humphreys to the organisation.   “Craig has made a magnificent contribution to HRV and Victorian harness racing during his 14 years with the organisation,” Mr Winnell said.   “It has been an absolute pleasure having Craig on the team and his professional approach and enthusiasm will be missed by his legion of fans and his colleagues.   “I’m pleased to say that Craig will not be lost to Victorian trots fans as he will perform a variety of roles in the media and form space as an independent contractor.   “It’s great to be able to welcome Luke Humphreys to the team. Luke is a passionate and talented young race caller, who we have worked closely with in recent years. He’s looking forward to developing his craft alongside two of the very best in the business in Dan Mielicki and Lachlan McIntosh.”   Rail’s final race meeting with HRV will be the Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup Final night on Saturday, April 13.   “The first country cup I called in Victoria was Sokyola’s third Mildura Cup victory, which was a record at the time. It was a massive crowd and when Sokyola hit the lead at the home bend the whole crowd erupted and it was something I’d never felt before as a broadcaster. I was hooked on Mildura racing after that,” Rail said.   “It’s fitting that my last country cup will be back where it all began.   “I’ve had a great time in Victoria and met some terrific people along the way. I’m saddened to be leaving my position but my family’s my top priority. I look forward to continuing to work with HRV in a new capacity.”   Humphreys said it was “an honour and a privilege” to join HRV. “I have wanted to be a race caller since I was 10 or 11 years old. For years I practiced in the grandstand at Melton and was willing to travel anywhere for an opportunity to develop my calling,” Humphreys said.   “I love all of the three racing codes, but being brought up in harness racing it is my favourite.   “I’m looking forward to working closely with people who I’ve always looked up to in Dan and Lachie.”     Cody Winnell   MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA

Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Ambassador Smudge Bromac will spearhead a charity fundraiser to benefit Motor Neurone Disease Victoria. The popular pacer wears dual ambassadorial hats, promoting standardbred life-after-racing and campaigning for MND awareness in memory of his part-owner, John Brain, who sadly passed away from the deadly disease. The event will be held at Shepparton's Kialla Paceway on Friday, April 26, to coincide with the running of the 2019 John Brain Memorial Pace and Shepparton Trotters’ Cup. Pictured is Smudge Bromac with caretaker Sue Terry. Picture by Issie Hill Organisers have set a fundraising target of $2500, principally through the sale of double-seater sulky rides with Smudge Bromac, a 209-start veteran who won 36 races and $460,000 in prizemoney and fellow HERO Ambassador Waikare Aristocrat, whose 69 starts as a trotter netted 15 wins and $124,000 in prizemoney. Patrons will also be invited to make a gold-coin donation to MND at the gate in lieu of entry, purchase MND merchandise and support a special effort, offering a hamper of Hygain animal health care products as first prize. In each of the evening’s races, with the permission of connections, the number one horse will carry MND promotional colours to highlight the cause. “The HERO Program is very proud to be co-ordinating and promoting this event,” manager Tanya McDermott said. “In addition to Smudge Bromac and Waikare Aristocrat, we will have the recently adopted HERO ambassador Suave Stuey Lombo on course, and a number of our supporters are donating their time to assist on the night,” she said. “Smudge is a valued member of the HERO team and we take every possible opportunity to highlight his important role as an official MND ambassador in parallel with his life-after-racing work. “The horse is an equine rock star and has enormous drawing power. “I feel sure that people will jump at the opportunity to sit behind him in a double-seater sulky, accompanied by one of our leading drivers.” MND Victoria Fundraising Officer Daniel Woodrow is likewise looking forward to the fundraiser. “We are always keen to explore new opportunities to both raise MND awareness and generate much needed funds," he said. “Our organisation has been working in the field for almost 40 years and we have a proud track record of providing tangible support and assistance where it is most needed. “This race meeting is a step into unchartered territory for MND Victoria and we’re grateful to both the HERO Program and Shepparton Harness Racing Club for their innovation and enthusiasm." MND is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurons) controlling the muscles that enable a human to move, speak, breathe and swallow fail to work normally. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. The patterns of weakness vary from person to person. At any given time in Victoria, MND affects around 400 people. There is no known cure. MND Victoria provides and promotes the best possible care and support for people living with MND and funds MND research. The organisation has two key mottos:  'Until there’s a cure, there’s care' and 'Never give up'. For more information about the April 26 race meeting, or to purchase a double-seater sulky ride for $200 with all proceeds going to MND Victoria, please visit the HRV HERO Facebook page, email hero@hrv.org.au or phone 0407 413 156 during business hours.   Tanya McDermott

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has made $115,500 in breeding bonus certificates available for Victorian breeders and owners during May and June. Every fillies and mares’ race worth more than $5000 (77 races programmed) in Victoria during May and June will carry breeding certificates worth $1000 to breeder(s) and $500 to owner(s) of the winning horse. These certificates can be redeemed for a service to any stallion for a Victorian based broodmare. “The certificates are part of a broader strategy to instil significantly more confidence in Victoria’s breeding industry,” Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) General Manager – Racing Stephen Bell said. “Today’s announcement will provide stimulus for local breeders and owners to reinvest next season. “As an industry it’s imperative we do what we can to reverse the worldwide season-to-season decline in foal numbers. For this to occur we need to think laterally, strategically and genuinely understand the problems our breeders face day to day.” HBV President Terry Lewis welcomed today’s news and expressed confidence that increased collaboration between his organisation and HRV was resulting in positive progress. “The breeding certificates will be the difference between some Victorian mares being served or not. Our breeders have a finite breeding budget each year, so often they will make the decision to have only some mares served. I'm confident this initiative will make a genuine difference and result in additional mares being bred,” Mr Lewis said. “The collaboration between HBV and HRV has significantly improved in the last 12 months or so and we are working on a number of new breeding stimulus initiatives and I'm certain we'll have more good news for breeders in the not-too-distant future.” HRV Trots Media

Record stakemoney will be just one of the highlights of the Warragul Downtowner Pacing Bowl Cup meeting which is approaching quickly.   The traditional Easter Sunday fixture, this year on April 21, will be headlined by record prizemoney for both pacing and trotting Cup races, and exciting trainer giveaways to increase interest in the event from horsepeople.   Warragul Sporting and Social Club have again thrown generous financial sponsorship behind Warragul's flagship harness race, and with additional statewide stakemoney increases previously announced by Harness Racing Victoria, this year's Cup will be staged for a record $35,000.   The time honoured Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup will be run for $14,500, and is again sponsored by the Evison and Sherar families. Support races are also expected to draw strong entries.   In an effort to significantly increase industry participation in this year's event, three $500 cash giveaways are on offer for trainers who race on the day at Warragul.   Each trainer/training partnership which races on the day will receive one ticket into the lucky draw, regardless of how many starters they have, which means that all participants will have an equal chance of sharing in the cash, whether they win a race or not.   Local finance broker Rob Lee (Liberty Financial) is a harness racing enthusiast, and his company are generously backing Warragul Harness Racing Club with support of this trainer's incentive.   Winning Formula product will also be given away to trainers of all placegetters on the day, courtesy of Origin Powders and Liquids.   Warragul Harness Racing Club Operations Co-Ordinator, Des Hughes, said that his focus for the club's premier racing event is to foster the support of the industry people who put on the show day in, day out.   "We needed to get the focus back on the participants, particularly for the Cup meeting, and keep Warragul as an attractive racing alternative for locals and visitors," Hughes said.   "If you look after those who put on the show with good facilities, a few giveaways, that sort of thing, hopefully people go away with a positive impression of our club even if their horse doesn't win."   "The same applies for those who follow the sport...we need the die hard industry fans to come out and support us and make Warragul a go to destination on the Easter weekend, as this meeting is one of a number of great country events that every harness fan should have on their bucket list."   Warragul's close location to Melbourne with direct freeway and train access lends itself to a leisurely drive on a Sunday afternoon for a top day of racing.   Legendary harness form analyst Bill Glover will be trackside to run Warragul's Punters Club, and local officials are hoping Bill's reputation as an astute student of form will lead to record ticket sales.   The first class facilities at Warragul are available for dining package bookings, which are already selling well.   A bistro and barbecue will also be on offer during the day, along with the usual fare of lucky racegoer giveaways (including $2000 in holiday vouchers), pony trots and kids activities.   Punters are spoiled at Warragul with a giant indoor screen for race viewing, excellent tote facilities, and bookmaker Tom Hogan also represented, while all facilities are indoors, overlooking the track which is one of the best in Victoria for viewing harness racing.   So far this season horse numbers at Warragul are well up on last season, and club officials are quietly confident that trend will continue for their main event.     Kyle Galley  

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