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Ultra-honest 3YO gelding Crime Writer out-toughed the opposition to capture the Alabar Horsham Classic on Thursday afternoon for Ecklin South horseman Matty Craven and Carrum Downs owners Tony and Pam Coniglio. Craven drove the son of Sportswriter and Our Crime Of Passion like he was the best horse in the race and so it proved as the $1.30 favourite bought up his fifth career victory. "He's the sort of horse you wish you had a stable full of," said Craven as he accepted the trophies from Alabar General Manager Brett Coffey. "While a step below the really good ones, he's made both Vicbred Finals for two and three-year-olds and hopefully we can get through to the Breeders Crown Final in a few weeks." Drawn the extreme outside of the second line in the field of 11, Craven was content to drop to the back of the bunch until the leaders sorted themselves out and backed off the tempo. With a mile to go Craven made his move and worked Crime Writer forward to race outside the leader, Luverboy (Kerryn Manning), for the last 1200 metres of the contest. Craven put the pressure on at the 400-metre mark and Crime Writer, with his head down in trademark fashion, dashed home in 27.5 seconds to score by four metres from the gallant Luverboy with Hugo Rocks (Alex Ashwood) finishing the race off nicely to claim third money. Crime Writer's record of five wins, five minor placings and a bank of $76,310 from 22 starts represents a whole lot of joy for his connections - with his biggest paydays being $17,400 when fourth in the 2YO Breeders Crown Final and $10,000 for fourth place in the Group 1 Victoria Derby Final back in January. Coffey also presented Craven with a service certificate to Auckland Reactor to pass on to the winning owners of the inaugural Alabar Horsham Classic. "Pam and Tony have a few nice mares and I'm sure they'll pick one out and make use of this," Craven said. "So it's a big thankyou to Alabar, they put a lot back into all levels of our industry."   Tony Logan

FORMER Kiwi Buster Brady confirmed his tag as Victoria’s Country Cups “King” with a spellbinding win in the $60,000 Group 2 Horsham Cup. The gelding is known for switching off at times in his races, but also for his staggering will to win. He showed plenty of both, but rallied courageously when it mattered to snatch a 1.5m win over talented pair Jilliby Chevy and Cant Refuse. Both had easier runs than him. Today’s Horsham Cup win followed other country cup wins at Maryborough, Echuca, Cobram and Geelong. The gelding has been a revelation for owners the Stokie Group and Kima Frenning, who is trying her hand for the first time as a trainer with Buster Brady. It was a stirring contest today, especially when Cant Refuse’s trainer-driver Matty Craven showed aggression in the middle stages, posted Buster Brady three-wide then eventually worked to the front and Buster Brady outside him. Cant Refuse pinched a break coming to the home turn and Buster Brady looked spent, while Jilliby Chevy surged through along the sprint lane. Just when it seemed Jilliby Chevy had Cant Refuse beaten and was home, Buster Brady lifted remarkably, surged and snatched the an epic win in a 1min58.7sec mile rate for the long 2700m trip. Another former Kiwi, Monty Python, made light of a 10m handicap courtesy of a superb Chris Alford drive to win the $25,000 Group 3 Horsham Trotters’ Cup. Andy Gath’s latest Kiwi import, Il Pirata, was the heavily backed favourite, but did some midrace work, trotted roughly and hung in the last 300m and was just fair in third spot. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE is a real sense of timing about Major Trojan’s WA Derby campaign. In fact, barriers pending, Gary Hall Sr’s latest star has next Friday night’s Group 1 feature at his mercy. That became clear when, after three placings from his only three previous WA runs, Major Trojan finally draw well, led and thrashed his rivals in the Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was an armchair drive for Gary Hall Jr, who dictated through a dawdling 62sec middle half then zipped home in 56.2 and 27.3sec to win by 10.6m in a comfortable 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2130m. “All his runs have been fantastic and we knew he was building fitness. When he drew well this time, we knew he had the speed to use the draw and expected to him to win,” Hall Sr said. “Gaz said he did that easily and he’s right where we want him going into next week.” The main rival looks to be Kyle Harper’s exciting Franco Edward, who actually beat home Major Trojan (third) when second to Eloquent Mach at Gloucester Park two week’s back. Franco Edward stormed home from last and also looks to be building nicely. His owner Rob Watson shocked many recently when he said Franco Edward was potentially the best horse he’d had, remembering Watson also bred and races the outstanding Soho Tribeca. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THIS is shaping as one heck of a juvenile crop in Australia. Jilliby Nitro grab top seeding with his mesmerizing Gold Crown win at Bathurst last Friday. But we’ve been hearing for weeks now Be Happy Mach is the next young star out of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s barn. Be Happy Mach made the most of a lovely run to win his second race from as many starts and beat some exciting youngsters in the process in last night’s $24,000 Shakamaker Classic (1720m) at Melton. After trailing the leader and using the sprint lane, Chris Alford nursed him to a 2.9m win over the eye-catching Sanday for Andy and Kate Gath charging home for second and Kiwi-bred Hes Goneski tiring after leading for third. The only buzz youngster in the race, Soho Hamilton, was far from disgraced in fourth spot after drawing wide, being three and four wide early then doing the work outside the leader. Be Happy Mach and Jilliby Nitro are headed towards an Australian Gold showdown. __________________________________________________________________________________________ LOVEABLE young mare Miss Sangrial gave Team Brennan and stable driver Michael Grantham not only one of their biggest, but most rewarding wins at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Blowing punters away as a $51 shot, Miss Sangrial snatched a half-head win over classy former Kiwi mare Our Alfie Romeo with Lady De La Renta third and hot favourite Eden Franco fourth in the $50,000 Group 2 Empress Stakes (2536m). “This is as good as it gets,” trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan said. “We’ve always had a good opinion of this mare, she’s a stable favourite, and to share the big win with Mickey (Grantham) is fantastic.” Another popular win on the came from Vultan Tin, who returned to form in the free-for-all for trainer Phil Costello and driver Chris Voak. The seven-year-old snatched a half-head win over Brennan’s evergreen The Bucket List with favourite Handsnwheels third in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 2536m. __________________________________________________________________________________________ LAST season’s star three-year-old trotter Stress Factor will need to lift to snare a Harness Jewels invite. The Trotters’ Derby and Breeders Crown winner was moderate at best when fifth to Claudys Prince at Maryborough last Friday. He’s yet to show anything like his best form this term, casting in serious doubt a planned Kiwi raid by trainer Brent Lilley. __________________________________________________________________________________________ AS well as a Melton treble, top trainer Emma Stewart also won the feature race at Globe Derby last night. Stewart’s filly Celebrity Chef did the work outside the leader and dug deep to win the $15,000 Botra Fillies’ Classic with Jaimie-Lee King aboard for her first race start.   Adam Hamilton

Tim O'Brien hasn't ruled out running Perspective in all three of the remaining features on the Trots Country Cups Championship calendar. The in-form son of Art Major is second on the series leaderboard and could move to the top if he can upstage some of the big guns in this Sunday's The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup (2700m). O'Brien's charge has accumulated 17 points from his seven country cup starts, five less than Kima Frenning's star Buster Brady, who will also race in this weekend's Group 2 event. Simply starting in a cup earns a championship point, meaning even if Perspective misses a place at Horsham he’ll improve to 18 points. Victories in the season’s last two events – Mildura and Warragul – could still see O’Brien hoist the title. The Trots Country Cups Championship carries a $25,000 bonus for the winner, with $15,000 given to the successful owner and $10,000 to the horse's trainer. Given O'Brien trains on a "half stakes" arrangement with owner Kevin Murray, it could be a nice pay day if the gelding can get the job done. "I always go to Mildura every year, so he'll go there. But Warragul is a long way away," O'Brien said. "The only way I'll go to Warragul is if he's half a chance in the series, which I really doubt we are. "I'm rapt with what he's done this year, let alone winning anything else." Perspective's only victory in the series came when he took out the Boort Pacing Cup with a barnstorming finish on March 17. Last Sunday he backed it up with a second placing in the Ouyen Pacing Cup behind Brallos Pass. O'Brien said he'd recently changed the six-year-old's work, a move that appears to be paying dividends. "I used to work him pretty hard. I've done all that and he's gone through his classes. I've sort of backed off his work, just raced him once a week and not done a lot at home," the Ararat trainer said. "It seems to have helped him. It must be because as he's getting older he's getting sick of the hard work. "He seems to be thriving on what I've been doing with him." Perspective has drawn barrier four for Sunday's Horsham Pacing Cup, where he will be driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Matthew Craven-trained-and-driven Cant Refuse - who is third on the overall leaderboard - will be there, while Jilliby Chevy (Margaret Lee/Jason Lee) and Flaming Flutter (Geoff Webster/Greg Sugars) form part of a quality field. The Group 3 Pegasus Spur Horsham Trotters Cup (2700m) is the other feature on Sunday's card.   Tim O'Connor

Everyone involved in the ownership of a horse dares to dream: to make the track, win a race or two in the bush and, who knows, maybe even rise through the ranks to open company, the classic events, the Cups? Barry, Yvonne and Aaron Dunn have been in the racing game for more than 40 years and have been lucky enough to experience one such ride of a lifetime with their stable star, Dee Dees Dream. It kicked off in January 2002 when Dee Dees Dream debuted in a $1000 restricted event for 2YO pacers at Warrnambool. The youngster made short work of three rivals, leading from barrier to post to score by 13 metres in the leisurely mile rate of 2.09.3 over the sprint trip. A moderate assignment by any measure but it was the start of a racing career that spanned more than six years until 'Deedees' retirement in August 2008. His record of 117 starts, 38 wins, 21 minor placings and stakes of $412,971 included success in a Vicbred Super Series Final (2YO colts and geldings), Victoria Sires Classic, Tasmanian Pacers Derby, 11 victories at Moonee Valley and many wins in Tasmania and South Australia. Dee Dees Dream contested the 2005 and 2008 editions of the Horsham Pacing Cup but finished out of the money on both occasions. "It's hard to win a race anytime anywhere," said Barry. "But even more so with the country cups in Victoria." More than consolation for finishing close in feature events at Hamilton, Nyah, Maryborough, Bendigo and Globe Derby are Dee Dees Dream's trio of City Of Launceston Pacing Cups, earned after starting from the extreme outside of the second row on each occasion. So the Dunn family continue to live the dream and every year bring a number of new youngsters into the stable. "We'll enter Shady Azz and Sporty Azz in the 2YO race here on Sunday," said Barry. "They probably won't be good enough to beat the better bred ones going around but they need the experience and it will stand them in good stead for when we find something more suitable." So, like the Dunns, the Horsham club encourages family and friends to pack the picnic rug, hamper and Esky and enjoy a great community event on the spacious lawns of the Horsham Racing Centre. "For the first time on Cup Day the gates will be open with free entry and you'll be greeted by tin rattlers for the Naked Farmer's nominated charity, Royal Flying Doctor Service Mental Health Unit," club president Justin Lane said. "Apart from all the action out on the track you'll enjoy a vibrant atmosphere with live music, sweeps, giveaways and prizes, including a chance to win $4000 in the Dunn Ezy Seed Cleaning Owner-For-A-Day competition. "There's plenty of free activities to keep the kids entertained. The jumping castle, gladiator ring, giant slide and basketball throw cater for all ages and one lucky youngster will win an iPad mini." So getyabackside trackside and seeya Sunday!   Tony Logan

The sight of wide open gates and the sound of rattling collection tins will welcome patrons to The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday March 31. "We decided to make our biggest day of the year a free event in support of our very special guest, The Naked Farmer - Ben Brooksby," explained Club President Justin Lane.  "It will be a great opportunity for our community to come together, enjoy the racing and off-track entertainment and toss in their gold coins for Ben's nominated charity, the RFDS mental health unit." What started as a bit of fun with a tasteful nude photo of Ben in "the buff" laying back in a truck load of lentils in order to educate consumers about the work that goes into putting food on their plate, has grown into a cheeky but powerful platform for raising awareness of mental health issues in the bush and providing support for the many sufferers.  Ben directs The Naked Farmer's fundraising efforts towards the RFDS mental health unit.  “I chose them because their professionals visit our remote towns and properties, providing treatment, support and mental health education for our rural communities,” he explained. Factors such as social isolation, lack of community connection and limited mental health services along with severe economic hardship caused by drought, fire and flood all contribute to the agricultural sector's over representation in Australia's (shocking) suicide rate. "Having dealt with mental health first hand, seeing others struggle with it and having family and friends take their own lives has encouraged me to stand up and help in any way I can," said Ben.  All the profits from sales of The Naked Farmer 2019 Calendar went to the RFDS together with $1 from each pair of TNF undies and hats sold. "We raised a staggering $17,228 last year and looking to build on that in 2019," Ben said. Ben will be out and about on the spacious lawns at the Horsham Racing Centre, enjoying his day out at the Cup. No doubt he'll be in for a chat and a photo or two, so make sure you get your backside trackside with your family and friends on Sunday, March 31, and chip in a couple of bucks for the RFDS and be a part of this great community event.  You never know just what might happen and what the outcome may be!   Tony Logan and Helen Friend

Legendary WA reinsman Gary Hall Jnr took out the 2019 edition of the Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday afternoon. It was Hall's second time as competitor but the third occasion he had accepted the Horsham club's invitation to make the long, west to east haul.  "Back in 2009 I was having a few issues with being on aeroplanes and was a late-late scratching," he said. "But it turned out a good result for my replacement Lance Justice, who went on to win the title." Hall made it to Horsham for the 2010 series and finished in the middle of the tally board behind Jim Douglass (NSW) with a first, fifth and eighth from his three drives. "I really enjoyed the visit over here and hoped to be back again sooner, but this is the first time I've been able to slot it in since."  The first heat of the day saw Hall gain valuable points when partnering 50/1 chance Cripparno into fourth spot behind Ardens Winstar for the Chris Alford/David Drury combo. Heat two saw Hall lead all the way with the Michael Stanley debutant Off The Bench to gain maximum points after looking likely to be run down by the 70/1 outsider Crowded Reactor (Rob Morris/Bec East), who galloped in the shadows of the post. It was a popular win on social media, with Off The Bench part-owned by Craig Hutchison and AFL footballer and trots ambassador Josh Jenkins. The horse had been much discussed in the lead-up on the Off The Bench radio program, which airs throughout Victoria on Saturday mornings. Hall then drove a trademark heady race aboard Emma Stewart's very smart four-year-old entire Concealment in the third round of the contest to score by five metres over the $1.50 favourite Crime Writer (Chris Alford/Matt Craven). Heading into the fourth and final heat, Hall needed to beat a few others home with the 70/1 roughie Rocking Tess to secure the championship while Alford, Jason Lee and Michael Bellman had some chance of stealing the title if the cards fell their way.  Courtesy of a soft trip on the pegs, Rocking Tess managed to cross the line in sixth place, some 40 metres behind Major Times (Kerryn Manning/Emma Stewart) and Jean Luc (Chris Alford/Lance Justice) who fought out a very close finish. When accepting the Noel Smith Memorial shield from club president Justin Lane, Hall admitted that the luck had certainly fallen his way, but that it was still a great thrill to come out on top. Hall went on to thank series sponsor Merv Butterworth together with the many other sponsors who made the day so enjoyable, not just for the 10 invitees but all the trainers, drivers and owners  who have supported the meeting. He also thanked the Horsham club for staging what is "such a fun event for us."  While Hall took home the Noel Smith Memorial Shield, a host of trainers, drivers and owners also went home as winners with product and voucher giveaways courtesy of Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Finn Tack, Mustad Australia, Oringi Protection Wear, Tabcorp Park Melton, Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association, Claire Weston Photography, Roma Pocock, Grafx Inc, Norton Estate Wines, Virbac Animal Health, Harness Breeders Victoria and Riverspa Apartments Moama.   Tony Logan

The life of a standardbred horse after harness racing commitments will take centre stage at Horsham Harness Racing Club's 2018 Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Nine-time winning pacer Kenny Trickem and former accomplished trotter Waikare Aristocrat have made a seamless transition to a new career under saddle and will appear at The Weekly Advertiser Pacing Cup celebration as ambassadors for Harness Racing Victoria's Harness Education and Rehoming, HERO, program. Cup patrons will have an up-close-and-personal opportunity to meet both horses as part of a new promotion called 'Pat Your HERO'. Waikare Aristocrat, 'Toff', has been involved with HERO since its inception. The 10-year-old trotting-bred gelding notched 15 wins for $124,160 in stakes from 69 race starts and worked his way down to metropolitan class before retiring in July 2015. He now regularly attends country cup and feature race meetings. HERO program manager Tanya McDermott, whose family bred and raced the son of Safely Kept, said the gelding thrived on human attention and demonstrated the renowned standardbred temperament "Toff is a people horse but has a special affinity with children," she said. "He likes nothing better than getting out and about and has travelled to all parts of the state to promote HERO. "He is also an accomplished show performer and enjoys trail and recreational rides. When he's not working for HERO, he is an excellent nanny, babysitting his yearling niece." The other HERO horse in Horsham, Kenny Trickem, was a favourite of trainer Luke Bryant's stable and has recently completed his re-education for riding under the care of Warren Cochrane at Cobe Lodge. Ms McDermott said Kenny Trickem, the son of Stonebridge Regal, last raced in September 2017 and was now available for sale to a loving forever home. She added that the horse had a magnificent nature and was 'very' laid back under saddle. "Kenny is a gem. His racing owners were passionate about finding him the perfect life after racing opportunity and he will be the ultimate trail-riding companion for his new owner," she said. "He is so entirely relaxed and loves to get out in the bush. Not much happens in a rush in Kenny's world, he epitomises the standardbred temperament we all love." Now in its third year, HERO is designed to create positive pathways for standardbred horses exiting racing, catering for horses that had ended their career and others that fail to make it to the track. "HERO works directly with the harness-racing industry, its breeders, owners, trainers and drivers," Ms McDermott said. "The program's focus is the facilitation of opportunities for standardbreds to transition from training to appropriate long-term retirement homes, primarily as ridden or pleasure harness horses. "Since HERO's inception, the support from all sectors of the harness-racing community has been extraordinary, not only those involved with the hands-on care and training of horses, but also sponsors, administrators and the like. "As a result, more standardbreds than ever before are placed into loving life after racing homes, which is a very satisfying outcome. "With the financial support of both HRV and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, we are providing tangible financial and practical support for retrainers and heightening the profile of standardbreds who make amazing pleasure horses after their racing life has concluded." People seeking further information about the HERO program can visit www.hrvhero.com.au, email hrvhero@hrv.org.au or phone 0407 413 156 during business hours.   TANYA McDERMOTT

The Weekly Advertiser has signed on as naming-rights sponsor of Horsham and District Harness Racing Club's April 22nd Horsham Pacing Cup. Pictured celebrating the partnership with the Cup are, from left, The Weekly Advertiser editor Dean Lawson, Horsham Harness Racing Club president Justin Lane, ACE Radio Horsham general manager Brendan O'Loughlin and harness-racing correspondent Tony Logan.        

Queensland harness racing reinsman Pete McMullen added his name to the time honoured “Noel Smith Memorial” honour roll when he narrowly took out the 2018 edition of the Decron Horse Care Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday afternoon. McMullen started the day aboard the Alan Donohoe trained Gunnrneedabigerboat which battled on gamely for sixth place after being posted three wide for the entire journey. Young NSW driver Chris Geary took out the race with the very smart, Emma Stewart trained, 3yo colt Liftntorque ($1.40 fav.) which led all the way over the 1700 metre sprint trip to score by 8 metres in a rate of 1:54.5. The Queenslander gained maximum points in the second leg of the championship with the Jeff Tarbone trained, 4yo gelding Bettor Than That (NZ) which led from go to whoa in C0 class 2200 metre contest. McMullen piled on the points again in round three, when the Barry Finnis trained, 4yo gelding Bee Gees Bandit ($1.70 fav.) led all the way to capture the C1 race by 10 metres in a rate of 1:57.7. As the starters lined up behind the Pryde’s EasiFeed mobile for the last heat of the Invitation, it was a duel in two between McMullen and Victorian veteran Gavin Lang who had finished third, second and second with his three drives, to decide who would take out the Horsham crown. Chris Geary won the C2/3 event as expected with $1.50 fav. Emain Macha for Naracoorte owner-trainer Greg Scholfield but all eyes  eyes were on Yankee C J (Lang) and The Big Show (McMullen) to see who would be first to cross the finish line. Lang looked to have his 5th Horsham title in the bag, until Yankee C J  ducked in badly when the plugs were pulled allowing McMullen and The Big Show to pass them by. It was McMullens second time as a competitor in the “Noel Smith Memorial” - in the three race series of 2010 he notched up a trio of fourth placings to finish in third position behind the NSW winner Jim Douglass. While the glory went to Pete McMullen there were a host of winners on the day, thanks to the generosity of  Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Pryde’s Easifeed, Finn Tack, Hyland Racing Colours, Zilco, Bertocchi Smallgoods, Oringi Protection Wear, Mustad Australia, Fly Veils by Design, GrafxInc., Roma Pocock, Harness Breeders Victoria, Tabcorp Park Melton, Victorian Trainers & Drivers Association, Albenz Park, Claire Weston Photography and Riverspa Apartments Moama. Hoofnote: Western Australian horseman Ryan Warwick who was a last minute withdrawal from the 2017 Horsham Invitation, had one of those days it’s best to forget. Warrick took the dreaded wooden spoon back to Western Australia after his first drive galloped wildly in the scoreup, finished near the tail with a couple of roughies in the second and third rounds, then had to pull out of the contest with broken gear on his best chance of the day. Anthony Logan

The Horsham Harness Racing Club today revealed the star studded line up set to contest the 28th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday March 12th. The ten confirmed invitees for the 2018 edition are Kerryn Manning (Vic), Ryan Warwick (WA), Chris Alford (Vic), Chris Geary (NSW) Greg Sugars (Vic), Ryan Hyrhorec (SA), Kate Gath (Vic), Gareth Rattray (Tas), Gavin Lang (Vic) and Peter McMullen (QLD). "It is another wonderful field," said Horsham Club CEO Jo Cross. "We will have five top Victorians including last year's champion Chris Alford here to take on drivers from all corners of Australia," she added. Chris Alford - 2017 Decron Horsham Champion Merv Butterworth of Decron Horse Care said the company was proud to continue its long time association with the Horsham Club's unique event. "All the drivers hold this contest in very high regard," he said. "That they so readily take up the opportunity to compete and are prepared to give up their time to travel from far and wide speaks volumes for its status." The Club and Butterworth also announced today that the Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship would continue into the year 2020 under the umbrella of Decron Horse Care. "Our partnership of the past seven years is now formally extended to ten," said Cross. "It gives us the opportunity to work with Decron and promote both the Drivers Championship and the race day itself, which recognises the contribution of all our industry participants." Drivers will compete in four, penalty free, $7000 races at Horsham with the winner on points to join the elite Noel Smith Memorial Honour Roll and collect a $1500 Travel Insights Melbourne or Melton Saddlery credit voucher. The ten competitors will each receive a Decron Horse Care show bag containing a Decron Leg Wrap Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Kit, Decron Osmotic Poultice Gel and promotional merchandise items. And of course there's the traditional sting in the tail that every competitor hopes to avoid - the dreaded, Gary Chequer commemorative wooden spoon which was "won" last year by Todd McCarthy (NSW). Nominations for the Labour Day Monday holiday meeting close with HRV at noon on Wednesday March 8th. Further information is available from Tony Logan on 0427 857411.   Anthony Logan

Horsham and District Harness Racing Club celebrated a successful year at Horsham Golf Club on Friday night.  The annual dinner was accompanied by a presentation night, with Tony Logan as the emcee and club president Justin Lane presenting the awards.  Harness Racing Victoria chief executive David Martin – formerly of Murtoa – was the event’s guest speaker. Mr Lane said the club had a busy and pleasing year. “From a racing point of view it was very successful,” he said.  “On the night we highlighted a lot of initiatives we had put in place throughout the season.”  Mr Lane said one of those initiatives included an owners’ precinct.  “On Horsham Cup day, the owners had their own area where they would be entertained by the club and it was exclusive to them,” he said.  “We also replaced all of the surface on the track.  “Another highlight when we hosted a come and try information day for the Horsham Pony Club.  “Kids came along and geared up for the trotter and pacer and had a tour of the track and facilities. They learnt what career paths you can take with us as well.”  Mr Lane said every race meeting was a successful one.  “I mentioned on the night we have shifted the month of the Horsham Cup to April, simply because we were finding it hard to draw crowds in January due to the weather,” he said.  “It didn’t matter how we marketed it, we struggled to get a crowd. Trainers were also reluctant to travel their horses in temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees, so we felt the fields were hurting because of it as well. “That is one of the things we are focused on going forward.” Mr Lane said the club has reduced the stake money of the Horsham Cup and has decided to distribute the money across all fields.  “It will be spread across all classes of horses,” he said.  At the presentation night, Terry Lewis was awarded the Matt Craven Trainer of the Year. Big Bruce was named Horse of the Year.  Barry Dunn was awarded the Local Trainer of the Year. Mr Lane said more than 50 people were in attendance. “It was a great night to celebrate the season and to thank all the paid staff and volunteers for their efforts through the year,” he said.  The Horsham and District Harness Club has been nominated for Harness Racing Victoria’s Country Club of the Year award. The winner will be announced in Melbourne in two weeks. “It is an honour to just be nominated,” Mr Lane said.  “I think the nomination shows we have had a pretty big year on and off the track.”  The story Club celebrates busy year first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times. By Elijah Macchia Reprinted with permission of The Ararat Advertiser  

The Horsham & District Harness Racing Club in conjunction with naming rights sponsor of the 2018 Horsham Trotters Club, Woodlands Stud NZ, have today launched their 2017/18 trotting stallion service tender. As part of the Cup sponsorship agreement, Woodlands has made available a service to their proven strike rate stallion, Pegasus Spur CA 1:54.0 $US 1,302,599.   Horsham's tender opportunity gives breeders of the squaregaiter a chance to send their broodmare to a quality entire at a discounted price. Interested breeders are invited to submit their tender on the official form, for the service (imported, fresh, chilled semen) to Pegasus Spur (value $AU3300) by Friday September 8th, 2017. For a copy of the tender form, please email the Club at horsham.harness@bigpond.com or text/phone Tony Logan on 0427 857411.      

As he headed out for Monday's final drivers invitational race behind The Sparrow Hawk, who is trained by his neighbour Brent Lilley at Bolinda, Chris Alford looked steeled and determined. The champion reinsman always takes pride in his performance and rates every race as important for the owners and trainers who entrust him with their horses. But on this day he's also right in the mix to take out his third Decron Horse Care Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship. After winning the first heat with Artful Christian for Terang trainer Chris Svanosio, Alford drove 60/1 outsider Farastheeyecansee for Adelaide trainer Toby Ryan in the second heat and managed to beat only one other runner home. Fourth in heat four three Turning Express for Mt Gambier trainer David Drury earned Alford valuable points and a great chance of taking out the title. With co-leader Kerryn Manning piloting a 100/1 chance in the final heat she was virtually out of the contest, but arch-rival Gavin Lang was still alive after victory with Cruz for Werribee trainer Jeff Tarbone in the third heat. On paper it looked a match race between a couple of hardened veterans - Alford with 35,000 career drives under the belt and approaching 6000 winners and Lang with some 30,200 drives and also in sight of the magical 6000 mark. The final event of the day resulted in the best finish of the day with a bunch of seven runners at the wire spread over just three metres of the track. The judge called for the photo and announced that Alford and The Sparrow Hawk had been pipped on the post by Greg Sugars and Blazedale for Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart.  Lang wasn't far away in 5th place aboard a somewhat unlucky Jilliby Shania and Manning tailed the field home, and so it was Alford who claimed the Noel Smith Memorial Shield. Alford also had the honour of handing over the commemorative Wooden Spoon, which he collected in 2016, to first-time NSW visitor Todd McCarthy. Perhaps a good omen for McCarthy for next year's staging. Tony Logan

It's Hot To Trot @ Horsham on Monday afternoon for the 27th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship & the harness racing Industry Participants Recognition Raceday. Ten of Australasia's best are set to weave their magic with the reins in a four race contest, with the leading points scorer joining the Club's elite honour roll. Reining champion Ricky Duggan returns to defend his 2016 Crown. Duggan also enjoyed a great 2015/16 season home in the Apple Isle, finishing second to Mark Yole on the State tally board and with a fine winning strike rate of 21%. Honorary "BigV" Anthony Butt will compete at Horsham for the first time after finishing in 4th place on the 2015/16 Metropolitan Drivers Premiership table. The highly decorated Kiwi horseman started driving in 1983 and quickly made his mark as the NZ Junior Champion in both 1985 & 1988. Butt is just one of nine drivers inducted into the Inter Dominion Hall of Fame and is a four time, Inter Dominion Championship winning driver with Lyell Creek (2000), Take A Moment (2001 & 2003) and Mr Feelgood in 2009. His mighty tally of 49 Grand Circuit driving victories is miles ahead of the rest with Mark Purdon second on 27 and he is currently edging towards his 2000th career winner (1609 NZ, 381 AU). Leading Kiwi reinsman Blair Orange and last season's NSW premier driver Todd McCarthy are also headed to Horsham for the first time. Orange started driving in 1996 and by 1999 was NZ Champion Junior Driver. He's driven a century plus tally in 2014, 15 & 16 to be three times runner up behind Dexter Dunn and has already passed the century mark this season. While the Invitees may hold the spotlight, the meeting also recognises the contribution made by all our Industry Participants with $$$$ galore in products, goods, services & merchandise distributed to trainers, drivers and owners during the afternoon. Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Finn Tack, Pryde's Easifeed, Bertocchi Smallgoods, Cordina Farms, Flair Equine Nasal Strips, Oringi Protection Wear, Hyland Racing Colours, Fly Veils By Design, Harness Breeders Victoria, Grafx Inc, Western District Horse Transport, Mustad Australia & Roma Pocock have thrown their support behind the meeting to ensure that everyone's a winner. Trainers, drivers, stablehands, owners & breeders will enjoy a designated hospitality area sponsored by the Victorian Trainers & Drivers Association. The Club will throw the gates open at 1.00pm with FREE entry for all to encourage families to pack their picnic basket, esky, blanket & chair and lounge on the lawns to enjoy a great day's racing. Racegoers & participants also have the chance to win a short break courtesy of View Hotels St Kilda Rd, Raglan Motor Inn Warrnambool, Tabcorp Park - Choice Hotels Melton & Deluxe Riverspa Moama. Tony Logan    

The Trots Country Cups Championship has a new harness racing frontrunner after Major Secret added the Horsham Crown to his Geelong cup win with a rollicking romp on Sunday. A dominant performance from the lead saw the six-year-old Art Major entire spring to the top of the $25,000 country cups championship, having amassed nine points after nine of the 25 cups. The championship gifts four points to a win, two to second and one to third, with Major Secret holding a three-point lead over stablemate Young Modern and Hectorjayjay, who could reclaim the ascendancy in Saturday night’s Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup. For now the sun shines on Stewart’s camp after Major Secret and Young Modern ran the quinella in Sunday’s Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup. “They are both going terrific, I couldn’t ask for more,” Stewart said. “Major Secret has always been a good horse but has had leg problems, which he has overcome now. We are still testing the waters with Young Modern, but he is getting better and better.” Driver Mark Pitt found the lead from gate two and controlled the 2700m Group 2, with Ideal Success, Tee Cee Bee Macray and then Young Modern shuffling through the breeze seat but with none putting pressure on the leader. “He had the draw over the better horses in the race and once he found the front he was always going to be hard to beat,” Pitt said. “I was able to control it. Once he found the front I wanted to back off a bit, but he was wanting to roll along at his own pace and is a very strong horse." After a 78.4-second lead time Major Secret produced moderate 29.2 first and 30.8 second quarters, which would ensure he’d have plenty in the tank for the final surge. “Once the second quarter was over 30 (seconds) he was always going to be really hard to beat,” Pitt said. A 28.2 third quarter preceded a 27.5 final 400m dash that would see Major Secret unchallenged for the win, stopping the clock in a 1:55.7 track record mile rate some 8m clear of Young Modern and 9m clear of third-placed Ideal Success. “He was really strong to the line and will only benefit from that run,” Pitt said. “He has improved with every start, which is no surprise. I’m sure he’ll take the next step.” Major Secret, a winner of 20 of his 45 starts, won a Vicbred Super Series Group 1 as a two-year-old and New South Wales Oaks as a three-year-old, and will attempt to reunite with Group 1 glory in this year’s Summer Of Glory. Both Young Modern and Major Secret have been geared towards the January 28 Eynesbury Victoria Cup and/or February 4 Del-Re National Hunter Cup. “They just have to get the barrier draw against the better horses, but they are definitely in it,” Stewart said. “Major Secret is a proven Group performer and if Young Modern gets the right draw he will come into it.” It presents an exciting opportunity for Pitt. “(Major Secret’s) nominated for the Victoria and Hunter cups, and at the bigger cups like Ballarat he wouldn’t be out of place,” he said. “I’m sure he will be competitive. If he gets a good draw and has a good run he won’t be too far away.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Veteran McKenzie Creek (Horsham District) harness racing horseman Ken Exell passed away peacefully last week. Ken's time in harness spanned more than 60 years. He drove his first winner under the lights at the Horsham Showgrounds in February 1954, with his father Arthur's pacer, Just Andy. The Exell family lived in the Goroke district at Karnak and campaigned their small team throughout the Wimmera and Western District. They enjoyed success with Captain Flare, Flash Durenda and General Flare in what is now regarded as the halcyon era of "the trots." Ken won Horsham Trainer of the Year Awards in both 1965 and 1970 - a period somewhat dominated by the legendary Hughie Jardine. In all Exell drove 26 winners on the tight showground circuit, a tally shared with his friendly rivals Graeme Lang, Trevor Martin and the late Stan Anyon. In later years when the family moved closer to Horsham, Ken also trained thoroughbreds and acted as a barrier attendant for both the Horsham Racing & Harness Racing Clubs. In more recent times the quietly spoken Exell gained enormous satisfaction with the trotter Allawart Ugo which debuted as a 6yo gelding at Charlton in January 2012. Under the patient trainer's guidance, "Ugo" slowly learned to be a racehorse. After ten starts the trotter recorded four consecutive minor placings then scored a well deserved home track victory in the Moore Bulk Haulage Trotters Handicap on July 2012. Exell's one horse team earned the Horsham Horse of the Year Award in 2013 and also gave his proud owner, consecutive Local Trainer Strike Rate Awards. Six of Allawart Ugo's eight career victories came on the spacious Horsham circuit and the trotter was to be Ken's final runner when unplaced at Mt Gambier recently. Our sincere sympathies are extended to the Exell family. Anthony Logan  

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