Day At The Track
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The Lang name will forever be etched in the memory of those who attend race meetings at Beckley Park in the future. The Geelong Harness Racing Club has named its revamped Drivers’ amenities ‘The Lang Drivers Rooms’ in honour of the legendary father-son combination Graeme and his son Gavin, who both passed away earlier this year. Graeme is already in the annals at Beckley Park as the man who drove the first winner on the track in 1978 when he steered Supreme Power to victory in the opening event. Both he and Gavin combined to take out the club’s feature when Bal Harbor saluted in the 1992 Geelong Pacing Cup, while Gavin partnered Shadow Sax to victory in the 2017 edition. Gavin was a regular participant when  racing relocated  from the Eastern Gardens to Beckley Park and drove hundreds of winners on the Geelong track including the George McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup victors Exemplify (1992), Sparkling Eyes (1997) and Andandon (2002). Harness racing returns to Beckley Park for the first time since March when the club hosts a mammoth 11-race program on Friday afternoon.   Geelong HRC - John Dunne

With her right arm extended in a victory salute, Michelle Phillips looked to the heavens as she crossed the line aboard the Tim Bolitho-trained pacer The Big End Oftown at Stawell yesterday. The winner was raced by prominent harness racing breeder, owner and club official Philip Nott who died the previous night. “As soon as we roared out of the gates I knew I had a horse and when I pulled the plugs at the top of the straight he just kept on motoring and they weren’t going to catch us," Phillips said. “The horse looked at me in the parade ring before the race as if he knew what was at stake,” she said. A bookmaker for more than 45 years, there is a fair chance Philip would have looked down from above with a wry smile as his horse knocked punters for a six saluting at the lucrative odds of $34. Philip enjoyed plenty of success racing horses linked back to bookmaking and racing terms with Off The Old’s upset win as a 90-1 chance in the 1999 Geelong Pacing Cup his biggest win. Among his better performed runners was the metropolitan winner Doyouwantitagain, while multiple winners Round Of Drinks and Copyarightwhack were always a topic of conversation along with The Early Crow. In more recent years Philip’s close friend Bolitho has been in charge of the team and the Anakie based horseman admitted the day produced a gamut of emotions. “What an amazing thing to happen, I was a mess after the race,” Bolitho said. “That he was able to win didn’t surprise me all that much because he is a good horse and I told Michelle to go forward at the start,” he said. Bolitho and Philip combined to make frequent visits to the winner’s stall during the past five or six years with the four-time country cups winner Arber and Rule Of Thumb. “Phil would come out to the stables once of week until his health wouldn’t allow him and while he wasn’t a hands-on horseman, he enjoyed the involvement and our trips to the races,” he said. “He will be sorely missed not only by me but also by the industry and his many friends in harness racing.” Philip was a fine contributor to the Geelong Harness Racing Club serving as president from 2005 to 2008 and was bestowed with Life Membership to the club in 2017. Geelong Harness Racing Club president John Ballestrino acknowledged Philip’s service to the club. “I had the fortune of having worked alongside Phil as his Vice-President during his years as President and he never wavered in his passion to see the club succeed and become a force in the industry,” Ballestrino said. “Phil was a friend and mentor to all of us at Geelong, in later years volunteering at trial nights and race days while his health still allowed him to do so. “It will be very hard to replace Phil, his friendship, his leadership and his passion for a good joke will be greatly missed by all of us at the club. “Our thoughts are with his wife Linda and son Craig at this sad time.” Harness Racing Victoria extends sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time.   HRV - John Dunne

Emerging harness racing star Mister Mundaka will be out to maintain his stunning unbeaten record as a front runner when he lines up in the Group 2 $70,000 Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup on Sunday. The six- year -old Bettor's Delight gelding has not been beaten in 10 starts while leading since arriving at trainer Andy Gath’s stable from New Zealand 12 months ago. But he will face his toughest test at the head of affairs holding out the gun Margaret Lee trained pacer Keayang Steamer down the long Horsham home straight. Gath has opted to bypass the SA Pacing Cup in preference for the trip up the Western Highway to Horsham. “The horse didn’t really handle Globe Derby 100 percent in the Italian Cup and we thought he would be better suited around the big track at Horsham,” Gath said. “So far it’s worked out having drawn the pole, because he has shown he is very hard to get past when he has led, ” he said. Mister Mundaka has made the transition to open class in seamless fashion taking out the Popular Alm Free For All before finishing a gallant second behind Keayang Cullen at Ballarat in 1:53 after sitting parked. Keayang Steamer has returned to the race track in good style following a lengthy injury enforced lay off and driver Glen Craven expects the lightly raced seven-year-old to improve on his last start fourth behind Bling It On at Bathurst on Boxing Day. “He felt the long float trip and was a bit flat on the night but he should be back to his best at Horsham,” Craven said. The pair look set to dominate the race from their front row draws while the Dean Braun trained Im Corzin Terror appeals as the most likely to ‘spoil the party’ on the back of his gallant placing behind It Is Billy in last week’s Geelong Cup. by John Dunne

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