Local horses scored most of the wins at the well attended Warragul harness racing meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Longwarry trainer Lee Evison collected two race wins for a host of happy owners - with Expectagrin which scored its first race victory, and the talented pacer Mister Wickham. Fellow Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan was also in the winners' circle on the program with Ymbro Toto, which led throughout in her victory, giving ace reinsman Greg Sugars a driving double. Veteran Croydon horseman Mario Stella has long supported Warragul's meetings, and made the trip across a successful one when he landed a double with Feel The Buzz (driven by Matt Ablett) and Greenough (Zac Phillips). Clyde trainer Jayne Davies was another local to collect a victory with Mister Clooney in race eight when driven by Chris Alford. Melton couple Maree and John Caldow combined to win the Gippsland Business Centre Pace with Art Mistress, defeating locals Sahara Sunrise and Fairest Fella. John Caldow accepted a trophy on behalf of the race sponsors, who held their Christmas break-up at the trots. After the race Caldow claimed the Warragul track as "the best little track around", given the work undertaken to enhance the condition of the track surface and camber in recent times. Veteran Bendigo horseman Brian Gath had his first drive at Warragul for some time, and landed victory with Aitutaki. Gath also praised the quality of the revamped Warragul track after the race, saying that while the track has always been of good quality, the renovation works undertaken 12 months ago have taken the course to another level. Trainer/driver Lisa Miles bought home Tiavons Dream to a narrow victory in the Trotters Handicap - the square gaiters turned in a great exhibition of faultless trotting which was well received by the crowd. Wednesday's raceday introduced plenty of new people to trotting and there was a great atmosphere on track. Strong entries produced nine races with competitors coming from far and wide for a quality program. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials will be hoping to repeat the success at their next raceday on Tuesday afternoon, January 19. Kyle Galley
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury are among the 14 owners of pacer Stone Of Destiny, which bought up its first win at the harness racing meeting at Warragul on Monday afternoon. Although the pair weren't on track for the race, several other members of the Raceapacer Syndicate, along with the group's jovial Manager Mark Hoare, were trackside for the event. Mark has helped operate syndicates successfully for over 20 years in trotting and gallops, introducing many new owners to racing. Stone Of Destiny is trained by die-hard Collingwood fan Jayne Davies, and was driven by Chris Alford. As well as nearly $4000 in prizemoney for Monday's win, a first win bonus of $7000 will also be well received by connections. Chris Alford drove two winners on the card - his first win was with Blacktie Lightning earlier in the day. Trained near Ballarat by Chris Lang Junior, Blacktie Lightning was most impressive in scoring, and the win was timely for Lang and his partner Haley Toulmin, who announced their engagement last weekend. Stoned Again scored a popular win in the Trotters Handicap, and claimed the Warragul Horse of the Year title in the process. Owners of the horse also sponsored the event, giving them the extra thrill of winning their own race. The win also capped off a great season at Warragul for trainer Bill Walker and driver Simone Walker. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double at the meeting - with Tenacious One and Ideal Diamante both scoring impressive wins. Bushrod won race seven for trainer/driver Alison Chisholm, while trainer Ahmed Taiba and driver Greg Sugars combined to win the fourth event with Rock Of America, which flashed home down the outside of the track to win in a close finish. Melton pacer Electric Ollie won the second event - the visitors won most of the races on Monday over the local trainers. Monday's meeting rounded out the racing season at Warragul, with the next raceday now not until November 30 when the first anniversary of the Warragul track reopening takes place. The quality of the Warragul track has improved out of sight with the changes that have taken place over the last 12 months. Stewards at Monday's meeting commented on the quality of the track given the amount of rain received in the lead-up to the meeting. With the improvements to the track has come increased interest from trainers along with better quality and faster racing, justifying the money spent on the project last year. Kyle Galley
Warragul's final race meeting of the 2014/2015 Victorian harness racing season this Monday afternoon will be an intriguing one. The Warragul Harness Racing Club annual premiership awards, presented to the leading trainer, senior and junior driver and most consistent horse, will be decided at Monday's meeting. Some of the awards could go down to the wire with current results the closest they have been heading into the last raceday of the season for some years. Greg Sugars is engaged in an interesting battle with fellow top reinsman Chris Alford in the Driver of the Year Award. Greg leads the award, having driven three winners at last month's race meeting, however Chris is closing, and has been one of the most successful drivers in history at Warragul. Locally owned and trained trotter Stoned Again holds a one point lead in the Horse of the Year Award. With two wins and a second from three starts on the track, and a record winning time at the recent race meeting, Pearcedale's Walker family are looking for their first win in this award with their trotter. Top junior reinsman Josh Duggan holds a one point lead in the Concession Driver of the Year Award, with Zac Phillips and Vin Langdon both chances of claiming the win in this award if results fall their way on Monday. Cranbourne trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander have dominated the Trainer of the Year award since its inception in 1981 - and they go into Monday's meeting with a lead that should be big enough to claim the award again. Under the points scale, race winners receive four points, with two points for a second placing and one point awarded for a third place finish. First of eight races on Monday runs at 12:36pm with free entry for patrons. Harness Racing Victoria
Perfect weather conditions complimented a good day of harness racing at Warragul on Monday. Seven events produced keen racing - importantly winners came from both the front and rear of the field across the day, defying the usual trend of on-pace runners being suited on the smaller Warragul circuit. Again, fast times were recorded during the day, highlighting the quality of Warragul's renovated circuit. One trainer particularly happy to win on Monday was Warragul boy Michael Hughes, who prepared Illawong Libby to win the Warragul Downtowner Pace. Hughes has only had the four-year-old mare in his Cranbourne stable for two starts. He explained after the race that he had set Illawong Libby for the Warragul event some four weeks ago. He felt Illawong Libby would be suited by the Warragul track, and that proved the case. She led from barrier one, holding off a late challenge by Readyforreign to score narrowly in a deceptive finish. The five owners of Illawong Libby were delighted with their victory, the mare's third from 24 starts. Former Gippsland trainer Graeme Lang also claimed a victory on Monday's card with Maybellina in the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap. Lisa Miles donned Lang's famous dark blue silks and drove a well judged race behind Maybellina, which grabbed Slancio close to home to win. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double on the day, courtesy of Lagoon Beach and Qtown Rip Roaring - both horses coming home strongly from off the pace in their victories. Leading combination of trainer Jayne Davies and driver Chris Alford have won more races than most at Warragul over the years, and claimed another victory on the day, this time with Baccarat in the Healers Shack Pace. Hoofnit provided the upset of the day in winning the Don Collins Pace - the longest priced winner of the afternoon at around 10/1. After three racedays in the last six weeks, Warragul now has a break before the traditional Traralgon Pacing Cup program on Monday, June 29.
American trotter Real Babe will make her Australian harness racing debut at Shepparton on Saturday night. Prepared by Jayne Davies, Real Babe will contest the Group Three George Gath, which has attracted a stellar field. The mare has had two trials ahead of her Down Under debut, finishing second at her most recent hit-out at Tabcorp Park Melton on Monday. To be driven by Anthony Butt, who has partnered the daughter of Donato Hanover at both trials, Real Babe’s task has been made tough by drawing gate seven – the outside of the front row. Real Babe is here for the Great Southern Star on March 7, one of two international invitees for the series. Star local Spidergirl will resume after a five-month break for trainer David Aiken. Last season’s dominant squaregaiter, with victories in the Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown Finals, Spidergirl will begin from the inside of the second row. With quick beginner Flying Isa drawn the pole, Spidergirl is likely to enjoy the perfect trip along the pegs. In a terrific coup for the Victorian industry, all trot races at Shepparton will be broadcast live into France for wagering purposes. Harness Racing Victoria will receive a product fee for beaming the action into the world's biggest trotting market. HRV Media
Following last week’s exclusive on leviathan harness racing owner Emilio Rosati, harnesslink can reveal the first two Victorian trainers in line to receive the majority of his team. Just to recap, Rosati has decided to transfer his horses out of New South Wales as a result of his disappointment with the integrity of the local industry. While a few have already been sent south of the Murray River – and also to Queensland – the majority of his stock are yet to be moved interstate. The remainder of Rosati’s team will begin being shipped next week, with trainers Jayne Davies and Andy Gath to receive the bulk of the ‘deliveries’. It is believed South Australia’s David Harding will also have his stable numbers increased within the month. Rosati’s horses carry the ‘Stride’ prefix, with former stars Excel Stride and Idol Stride among his best performers. Rosati’s stock is estimated to be between 30 and 40 horses, with star youngster Allblack Stride headlining the crew. “Although they haven’t raced yet, a lot have moved and the rest will be moved soon,” Rosati said. “I won’t put a number on how many horses I have, but it’s a lot.” Rosati’s decision to vacate New South Wales is based on his ‘principles'. When asked to elaborate, Rosati stated he’d “leave it at that.” “I have no problem with the people running the sport, I just have a problem with the integrity of it,” Rosati said. “I don’t want to harm the industry, I’m just frustrated with the way it is at the moment. I’m not doing this because I want to...I have to, based on my principles. “Ideally I’d prefer to be in New South Wales and hopefully the problem gets fixed and I will return them. “I will still stay on as a sponsor there.” Paul Courts
Charlie Attard, who has had many smart horses over the years, was successful with Major In Art / Golden Navajo colt Im The Boss in The Red Shed Pace for two-year-olds over 1609 metres at Cranbourne on Tuesday night. Driven by Greg Sugars, Im The Boss led throughout from gate four, scoring easily in advance of Major In Arms in a mile rate of 1:58.8. Gaita Pullicino landed the Ultra Signs Claiming Pace over 2080 metres with much-travelled seven-year-old Julius Caesar / Lavra Supreme gelding Caesar Supreme. Spearing straight to the front from gate six, Caesar Supreme ran his rivals ragged to register his 30th victory in 114 outings, defeating Cowboy Cadillac by 1.7 metres in a rate of 2:00.2. Old-timer Dartmoor (one/one – three wide last lap) finished a close-up third. Andrew Farrugia provided the upset of the night when lightly raced four-year-old Grinfromeartoear / My Minnis Folly gelding Sumo Grin ($36.10) greeted the judge in the Aldebaran Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2110 metres in a mile rate of 2:07. Driven by Zac Phillips, Sumo Grin starting from the pole stood flat-footed as the tapes released, settling three back in the moving line with Zoes Dream beginning brilliantly from 20 metres to lead. Sliding forward to be one/one in the last lap after Koko De Ville had eased away from the markers to face the open mid-race before galloping approaching the home turn, Sumo Grin raced to the front on the final bend and held a margin to the wire, winning by 7.5 metres over Ive No Boundaries and Framework Salute who were always handy on the pegs. Hopetoun Park duo Ross and Greg Sugars brought up victory number three with beautifully bred Bettors Delight / Misty Maiden gelding Mulgrave in the Cranbourne Trainers Bonanza 3YO Pace over 2080 metres. Sent forward at the start from gate four to lead, Greg Sugars allowed the well-supported Williamlee outside him to assume control, giving Mulgrave the run of the race. Using the sprint lane, Mulgrave was too slick at the finish for Fifty Shades (one/one – three wide home turn) and Williamlee, winning by 4.4 metres in a rate of 2:01.6. Melton trainer/driver Rod Petroff’s ultra-consistent mare McRita was a strong winner of the Dooza Sulky Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2080 metres in 2:00.6. A four-year-old daughter of McArdle and Jarita, who has now recorded six wins and 19 placings from 36 outings, McRita again showed her great gate speed to lead from barrier three and despite being pressured at various stages, dashed away on the home turn to score by 2.3 metres from Jeans Mattjesty. Daylesford husband and wife – Mick Barby & Anne-Maree Conroy – snared the ADE Turf Equipment Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2080 metres with ever-reliable six-year-old Blissful Hall / Go Bush gelding Sir Jaybe Hall, who chalked up his seventh victory in 38 outings. Given every opportunity one/one from gate four, Sir Jaybe Hall ran home nicely to gain the day by a head over Mister Clooney along the sprint lane after trailing the pacemaker Im Living The Dream which finished third. The mile rate 2:01.3. Jayne Davies kept the home flag flying when Mach Three / Atworthy Maid gelding Macworthy led throughout in the Condo’s Horse Transport Pace for C0 class over 2080 metres, defeating Wingofwaves and Miss Metro Glen in a rate of 2:02.9 with Chris Alford in the sulky. Veteran Whittlesea trainer Charlie Farrugia has enjoyed plenty of unheralded success over the years with a number of well-placed horses and he captured the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace for C1 class over 2080 metres with Courage Under Fire / Terrabeauty five-year-old gelding Terra Beau. Driven by nephew Darren Zahra, Terra Beau – first-up since January – led from the pole before surrendering to the sensationally backed Public Persuasion ($8 into about $3.50) racing for the bell. When Mor Laag moved to race in the open for the last lap after being mid-field and applied plenty of pressure to the leader, Terra Beau was able to ease off the marker pegs approaching the home turn and sprinted home stylishly on turning to score by 3.9 metres from a game Mor Laag and WillsSon (three back the markers) in a rate of 2:01.3. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria
Harness racing fans have a soft spot for Master Kiesey – and why wouldn’t you? The 13-year-old won his 19th race on Saturday at Maryborough’s non-TAB meeting, defeating Ballan Road by 3.4m in a rate of 2:08.9 over 2190m. Driven by Grant Campbell, Master Kiesey stepped superbly and led from start to finish at start number 310. “He’s been a great horse for us,” trainer Brian Kiesey said. “He’s as sound as a bell and he’s enjoying life and enjoying his races. He still gets around all the yearlings at home and gives them hell,” he quipped. Kiesey said Master Kiesey would race on next season as a 14-year-old. “We don’t knock him about. You never see him get hit with the whip. He eats well and he loves his racing,” he said. Kiesey said his philosophy was to give horses plenty of time to find their feet before taking them to the racetrack. He pointed to a trotter he is working with at the moment who has been in work for three years but is yet to race. “She’s never been to the track. When I first got her she was a lunatic. But now she’s easy to drive and she’s going to be pretty good when we get her to the racetrack.” He also mentioned Apple Beach, which he acquired from the Jayne Davies stable before turning her into a trotter. “I’ve just had to teach her to trot,” he said. “That’s what this season is all about. Next season will be about her winning races. “It took 18 months to get Apple Beach going, but now she’s leading and getting away nicely in races.” Despite her poor strike rate (one win from 50 starts), optimistic Kiesey says punters should keep following the daughter of Life Sign. “She’s the best horse I’ve had in 35 years. Next year it’ll be about her winning races.” By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria
An entertaining card of racing was staged by the Warragul Harness Racing Club on Monday afternoon. Alan Ryan was awarded Life Membership of the Warragul club at a special presntation. Alan has been involved with the club for around 40 years - he served 15 years as club Treasurer, and has recently retired after 26 years manning the "main gate" at race meetings. He recalled a period when the club raced at night and had eight gatekeepers on the payroll to cope with admitting big crowds and parking dozens of vehicles. Local horses had some success on Monday, with veteran Iona trainer Des Kelly back in the winners list when Mor Laag led all the way. The horse had performed well in barrier trials at Logan Park recently for driver Vincent Langdon, and some smart bets were landed at the odds of 12/1. Trafalgar trotter Slancio came from a handicap mark to win the Alf Martin Memorial Trotters Handicap for driver Glenn Hunter and his trainer father Chris. Melton horseman Lance Justice was back in Victoria after a quick visit to Sydney over the weekend. He landed a double at Warragul with Lots More Art and V C Devil. Reinsman Chris Alford drove Gonski to victory for owner John McLeish and Clyde trainer Jayne Davies. With a little more luck, Alford could have had a red letter day, as he also drove four minor placegetters on the seven race card. Gippsland Harness Training Centre graduate Dani Lewis drove the talented Bangholme filly Kiss Kenny to a comfortable victory in the opening race. Special guests of the club at the meeting on Monday were the National Servicemen's Association for their annual day at the trots. Racing returns to Warragul on Monday, August 11. By Kylie Galley
Mister Douglas is a modern day marvel. The rising 15-year-old registered his 33rd career win on Monday, victorious at Warragul in the Warragul Country Club Claiming Pace over 2205m. Raced by Joanne Justice and Ron Taylor, Mister Douglas – trained by Joanne at the property of reinsman brother John in Toolern Vale – tried valiantly to lead from pole before having to hand up to heavily supported favourite Jetshawjoe. Given a cosy passage, Mister Douglas was eased away from the markers approaching the home turn to lead on straightening. Although shifting ground late, the 14-year-old scored by a half-neck over Flyin Interstate, with Cowboy Cadillac in third in a mile rate of 2:00.4. Corey Bell, who drove Cowboy Cadillac, protested against the winner but this was quickly dismissed. Chris Alford and Greg Sugars shared driving honours for the meeting, each with a double. Alford won aboard self-trained Louisiana Spring and Now And Forever for trainer Jayne Davies. Sugars partnered both Dreamtime Spirit and Bettor Rock On, which took out the feature – the Traralgon Pacing Cup – for father Ross.
Superb trotting filly Claudys Princess edged out Illawong Helios in the first heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for 3YO trotting fillies today at Maryborough. The Mick Blackmore-trained star, who last start won the Group 1 Glenferrie Farm Trotters Oaks, went 2:02.4 with a last half of 61.5 to defeat the Ross Sugars-trained runner-up by a half-neck. Gavin Lang didn’t bustle Claudys Princess early and allowed her to balance up three back on the pegs, following Illawong Helios, which had the back of race leader Illawong Moonshine. Turning for home Illawong Moonshine had run her race and was quickly gathered up by Illawong Helios, but once the sprint lane opened up Claudys Princess darted through with a successful late winning bid. Sister Of Sonoko ran third for Ross Graham, while Kapitan Claire from the Sugars yard with Kylie Sugars in the sulky ran fourth. Claudys Princess has now won 11 races from 14 starts. Later on the card top three-year-old trotter Asdenro won the boys’ Vicbred heat by 3.9m over Guiltless. Haydon Gray took the David Van Ryn-trained son of Armbro Variable to the front early from gate five, holding off all challengers late to score over David Abrahams-trained Guiltless, with Alan Tubbs-trained Drunken Maniac finishing on for third. Savannah Jay Jay put some value into first fours with Neil McCallum guiding the Stan Cameron-trained gelding into fourth place despite a scratchy beginning. Favourite Holdonsu made it seven wins from 16 starts with victory in the Vicbred 3YO males’ pacers heat at Maryborough, the Jayne Davies-trained, Rodney Petroff-driven son of Elsu scoring a head win over Jedi Mind from the David Aiken stable, with Time Capsule coming in third. My Bella Starr captured the 3YO pacing fillies’ Vicbred heat for trainer Adam Kelly and Gavin Lang in Race 8. The daughter of Art Major/Badlands Legend went 1:59.8 and prevailed by 1.6m over runner-up Distant Memory, who had made the trip south from New South Wales for trainer-driver Kerry-Ann Turner, with Phil Chircop-trained The System Black getting third-place prize money for driver Petroff. Lang capped off a winning treble in the last race on the program, the Vicbred seventh heat of the 3YO colts and geldings, aboard Presidentialsecret for Emma Stewart. The Presidential Ball gelding prevailed by 4.4m over Young Modern for Michael Stanley, while Lisa Miles guided Su You Too into third place. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)
Harness racing returns to Warragul on Monday afternoon for an eight-race program starting at 12:21pm. Highlight is the Poggaharness.com Traralgon Pacing Cup over 2205 metres. Top reinsman Chris Alford will be out to win the Cup for the fourth time. He won the race once when harness racing was held at Traralgon, and has won three of the eight editions of the Cup held at Warragul since 2006, including last year with Inky Cullen. Alford drives Baccarat, one of two horses in the event for Clyde trainer Jayne Davies. Gippsland trainers have a strong hand in Monday's seven horse field, with Apollo Thirteen (Michael Hughes) and Stuck In Second (Glenn Hunter) also competing. The first two races on Monday boast some of the oldest and most competitive horses in Victoria. Fourteen-year-old Mister Douglas will be lining up for start 267 in race one, while in the second event, 13-year-old trotter Master Kiesey will be having race number 302. His stablemate Candy Digger also competes, having start 253. Local pacers are also set to compete across the events on Monday, and patrons will be admitted free to the meeting. Kyle Galley
A win aboard Baccarat (Bettors Delight -Tyalla) for Jayne Davies at Tabcorp Park Melton last night has won the 2014 Harness Racing Training Centre Rising Stars Young Drivers Series for Stawell’s Kate Hargreaves. Coming from three back on the markers Hargreaves used the sprint lane to steer home Baccarat to win in a MR: 2:00.1. "Hargreaves thanked the BHRC, and HRTC for giving her and the other young drivers the opportunity to compete and especially drive at Tabcorp Park. "I've only driven one race here before and to win here is fantastic," Kate said. Hargreaves had her Melton win and two third placings at Bendigo and Maryborough to top the leader board in the three races series with 27 points. Zeb Lewis was the series runner up with 25 points and Toby Ainsworth in third with 21 points. The BHRC, HRTC and Tabcorp Park congratulate all of the drivers who competed in the Rising Stars Series. We hope to see the competitors in action at our tracks many times in the years ahead. Jayne Davies won the $1000 HRTC Trainers random Draw and in a big night for the stable Baccarat's owners won the $1000 HRTC Owners random draw. by David Aldred
Divas Delight secured a berth in the Eric Reece Memorial final by leading all-the-way win in a heat over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. The Barrie Rattray-trained gelding has been a model of consistency without winning this season notching consecutive placings from his four outings this time in. But driver Todd Rattray used the four-year-old gelding's speed from the mobile to cross from gate five and from there on he led his rivals a merry chase. Divas Delight (Bettors Delight-Draw Card) cruised to the line to score by over six metres from Cardinal Dreamer that trained the leader throughout with Saloon In Sight almost three metres away third. "He got to the front tonight and that's made all the difference," said trainer Barrie Rattray. "You can't say he hasn't been consistent this time in but he has always been a very honest little fella," he said. The Eric Reece Memorial wasn't specifically targeted by the trainer. "This race just came along at the right time for him but it is definitely a race that every trainer and owner wants to win because it is named after a politician who was described as a person for the battlers." "It is definitely one race that everyone wants to win," Rattray said. Driver Todd Rattray said his charge was always travelling like a winner. "Once we led it was probably always going to be a matter of how far," the driver said. "He has been racing well and deserved to win," he said. The second heat was won by the Rod Burgess-trained Notimetothink that was resuming from a lengthy spell. The gelding was partnered by Rohan Hillier who allowed him to face the breeze throughout and he defied the tough run top hold on and score by metre from Reallyimaterminata with Podarkes a nose away third. It was a tough effort by the Rod Burgess-trained gelding that was having his first start since April. The third heat was taken out by Mighty Boy Coconut that also resuming from a lengthy spell. It was the Nathan Ford-trained five-year-old's first outing since June but he made the most of the inside draw (1) to lead and when Ford released the brakes at the top of the home straight he sped clear and hit the line about 20 metres clear of Gothic rage that trailed the winner throughout with Angkristy third just in advance of interstate invader me Mate Les that is prepared at Clyde by Jayne Davies. The final heat was won by Mes Elsu (Elsu-One For Me) that also led all the way although the margin was nowhere near as convincing at Mighty Boy Coconut's. Mes Elsu had a battle for the early lead with Little Miss Feral but when that mare broke stride it left Ricky Duggan's charge to stroll to the lead. Mes Elsu set a solid tempo and when challenged strongly in the home straight the Juanita McKenzie-trained six-year-old gelding found enough to hold out Rorybeebellows and Gun Filly. The Eric Reece Memorial final will be held in a fortnight at Tattersall's Park.
For the first time in over two decades, a horse trained from outside the Gippsland region has won the Warragul Horse of the Year award. Based on performances during the 2012/2013 racing season, which ran from September to August, Lara pacer Inky Cullen was declared the winner. One member of a team that provided trainer Dean Braun with an outstanding season of success, Inky Cullen won three out of three at the Logan Park circuit, including the Traralgon Pacing Cup in June. The last time a non-Gippsland trained horse won the title was in season 1991/1992, when trotter Green Cape was successful. Trainer of the year was Cranbourne horsewoman Jayne Davies. Jayne and partner Noel Alexander have between them dominated this award since it was introduced in 1980/1981, with more than 15 wins. Leading driver for the season was again Chris Alford, who enjoyed a stellar season statewide. Chris drove Inky Cullen in the Traralgon Cup victory, and has won the Warragul Driver of the Year award over 10 times, and is second only to Ted Demmler who won the award on 20 occasions. Joshua Duggan scored his first win in the Concession Driver of the Year award, which recognises the talent of relative newcomers to the driving ranks. Awards presentations will take place at the next Warragul meeting on Monday, December 2.
Leading Victorian reinsman Chris Alford showed why he is considered one of the best Australia has to offer, with a brilliant display aboard 5-Y-0 Sundon/Geena Hest mare Maidstone Miss (winner of the 2011 Redwood Classic) in the Lilydale Instant Lawn Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2150 metres at Yarra Valley on Monday September 9. Trained at Clyde (Cranbourne) by owner Jayne Davies with whom Alford has had a long association winning many feature events over the years including the 1995 (Christchurch) Inter Dominion with Golden Reign, it was a classic Alford exhibition to greet the judge. Adopting “catch me if you can” tactics after beginning brilliantly to pounce in front from outside the front line, Alford summed the race up to a nicety, setting his rivals the task of chasing Maidstone Miss all through the race. Showing no signs of stopping, Maidstone Miss scored by 24.1 metres in advance of the hot favourite El Paco off a 40 metre backmark, with My Name Is Earl a further 15 metres away in third place. The mile rate 2-06. Cranbourne trainer Hugh Cathels’ 6-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Star Chaser gelding Astronaut was a tough winner of the De Bortoli Pace for C5 & C6 class over 2150 metres in 2-00.1. Driven on this occasion by Lisa Miles, Astronaut was trapped four wide from outside the front row, before being restrained to the rear of the field, with Franco Jackson retaining the lead from the pole. When Vinni Gambino ahead of him made a mid-race forward move, Astronaut immediately latched to his back, before parking outside the pacemaker for the final half of the journey. Under a tight rein approaching the final bend, Astronaut gained the upper hand on turning and raced clear to register a most impressive 5.6 metre victory over Franco Jackson, with Vinni Gambino third after switching down to the sprint lane on turning. Raced by Hugh and Lorraine Cathels, Astronaut a half brother to multiple winners Our Maid Marianne and Safari, has fronted the starter on 77 occasions, winning 14 times. by Len Baker