A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ...................................................................... Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria
Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria
The form from last weekend's Tabcorp Park Melton Cup heats carried through to the series final last night. Maximan and Exciteusinthecity, both heat winners, finished one-two in the 2240-metre final last night with Kate Gath piloting Andy Gath trained Maximan to a 4.8-metre win in 1:56.8. Maximan led from gate three with Exciteusinthecity straight to the breeze for Tim McLean from four. From the back row Ginger Bliss carved through early to be one-one but then galloped and was retired from the race. The two pacemakers dictated terms before Maximan upped the ante down the back stretch and had Exciteusinthecity being driven along at the home bend. The chasing brigade of swoopers tried valiantly in the home straight but Maximan pulled out plenty, while Exciteusinthecity fended off the late challengers to finish second. Emma Stewart trained pair Metro Mike and The Good Times clocked in third and fourth. David Aiken's My High Expectations took the win in the Group 3 Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free for All over 2240m earlier in the night, the seven-year-old defeating Sunset Invasion by 2.4m in 1:59.1. The Aiken stable had a winning double on the night, with eight-year-old Falcon Seelster horse Smudge Bromac taking out the Homestead Stud Claiming Pace with Josh Aiken in the cart. Meanwhile, Terang star Keayang Cullen continued his winning form by capturing the Blacks A Fake Free for All over 1720m with Jason Lee aboard. The six-year-old son of Christian Cullen has now won five straight races and his winning mile rate of 1:53.8 is the quickest he’s gone since his Inter Dominion heat win at Melton in February. Cody Winnell
Brilliant trotter Eljaykay Phoenix is this year’s Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic champion. The son of Sundon from the all-conquering David Aiken yard made it six wins from seven starts in the $50,505 Group 1 event on Sunday at Maryborough. Runner-up My Arya made a race of it though, the New Zealand two-year-old champ getting within a neck of Eljaykay Phoenix at the end of the 2190m journey. The pair finished 12.5m clear of third placegetter Endsino and will both be leading contenders come Breeders Crown finals time next month. Sunday’s victory was junior driver Josh Aiken’s second Group 1 triumph after he won on Eljaykay Phoenix in the Vicbred Super Series final recently for his first. Eljaykay Phoenix worked to the lead early in the Redwood before coming home in a last half-mile of 58.7secs. My Arya and Mark Purdon used the sprint lane to close on the winner late, while Endsino for Andy and Kate Gath worekd home strongly for third after travelling three back the markers. Fabrication finished fourth and Sheza Amason finished fifth. The well-backed Twice As Much had a day to forget, galloping twice in running to finish tailed off last. Eljaykay Phoenix By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria
Champion New South Wales mare Frith added the Harness Breeders (Vic) Jane Ellen to her list of feature race wins at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The six-time Group 1 winner found the lead comfortably from the 2240m start before controlling the race to score by 2.6m over runner-up The Good Times, with Broadways Best rocketing home for third. Frith, a Bruce Harpley-trained daughter of Four Starzzz Shark, has now won 26 from 35 race starts. Frith’s winning mile rate was 1:56.7. She finished with a last half-mile of 55.7 after splits of 29.8, 30.2, 27.6 and 28.1. Emma Stewart’s The Good Times was given a cushy run by Gavin Lang on the back of the favourite before using the sprint lane to run second. Chris Alford steered in-form Broadways Best into third, powering down the outside late to edge out Beauty Secret, which ran fourth, while Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling wound up fifth. Frith already boasts Group 1 victories in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. She will be looking to add a second Breeders Crown success to her resume next month after taking out the three-year-old fillies’ title last year. Frith Father-son combination Ross and Greg Sugars won the first three races on Friday night’s program. Illawong Magic kicked off proceedings with a 3.7m win in the Granny Reilly Performance Mix Vicbred Trot. The seven-year-old gelding found the lead early and never looked like losing, pinching a break approaching the home bend before holding off David Van Ryn pair Paris Pepperell and Enjoy A Coldie in the home straight. The Sugars’ team then combined for success with Bettor Rock On in the first heat of the Tabcorp Park Melton Winter Championship. Punters who took the short odds for the son of Bettors Delight were surely sweating with 50m to go, as Bettor Rock On was taking forever to reel in Tandias Bromac. But the $1.10 shot poked his head in front just in time to win by the narrowest of margins. Bettor Rock On posted sectionals of 29.0, 29.9, 28.5 and 28.4, with his mile rate a slick 1:54.9. Mulgrave then made it three from three for Team Sugars, defeating Gotta Go Henry in the Alabar 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. Mulgrave won by 2.8m in a mile rate of 1:58.3. The in-form David Aiken stable absolutely dominated the Granny Reilly Sole Mate Mix Trot over 2240m, Thanesan defeating stable-mate Vics Cheval by 5.1m. Junior driver Josh Aiken, who drove his first Group 1 winner last weekend, steered the winner, while his father David drove the second horse over the line. Amanda Grieve and Chris Alford combined to win the Granny Reilly Perfect Pacer Pace over 2240m with Magical Telf, who scored a half-neck win over Teo Enteo. Long odds-on favourite Almost El Eagle took out heat two of the Winter Championship for Steve Duffy and John Caldow. Ginger Bliss made it a winning double for Josh Aiken with victory in the Granny Reilly Maintain Mix Pace over 1720m, the talented four-year-old clocking 1:55.3 to beat Exciteusinthecity by 1.2m. Ginger Bliss found the lead early and dictated terms before cranking things up in the last half-mile, with third and fourth splits of 27.7 and 27.9 for a 55.6 last half. Exciteusinthecity ran a bottler of a race for Tim McLean, while Washmepockets poked through for third for Haydon Gray. Our Twentyten showed he is right on song for the Trotters Derby with an 8.9m win in the Redwood Day 20 July 3YO Trot, the Brent Lilley-trained son of Muscles Yankee defeating runner-up One Over Da Moon and third placegetter Daenerys Targaryen. The last race on the card, the Book Now For Breeders Crown 2YO Trotters Handicap, saw Greg Sugars snare win number four for the night and gave Lilley a winning double when My Arya got the chocolates. My Arya was the only filly off 10m in the race, the daughter of Angus Hall stepping sweetly early and trotting perfectly throughout to score by 2.3m over debutant Shared Interest (Nathan Jack), who ran a crackerjack race on debut and will be winning soon, while Sheza Amason was about 20m away in third. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)
Allies Mate made it two wins from two starts in impressive style at Shepparton on Tuesday night. The Jason Donohoe trained-and-driven son of Mcardle sat parked throughout in the 2190m second heat of the Congram Livestock Transport Vicbred Platinum Country Series A, dashing clear in the home straight for a 10.4m win. Despite doing the lion’s share of the work Allies Mate was cruising at the home turn, David Farrar-trained Arriens looming up strongly into second but no match for the winner. Donohoe sat quietly on Allies Mate, which was sent out second favourite behind odds-on pop Royal Hustler, and had a sustained look around at the home turn to sum up the situation. Once he flicked the reins, it was lights out for his rivals and Allies Mate broke clear to record a winning mile rate of 2:00.7 (last half in 57.6 and last quarter 27.6). Donohoe said the horse had trained on well after its first-up win and once the favourite was out of play on Tuesday night, he was confident he could get the job done. “He had trained on well after that first win. The favourite was sort of the only one I was really worried about,” the Marong trainer said. Arriens held on for second for junior driver Mark Pitt, while Black Jasmin was third for Haydon Gray. Royal Hustler galloped at the start and missed the kick badly, failing to make up ground and finishing down the track. Allies Mate became punters’ foe on debut at Bendigo last month when he defeated long odds-on favourite Kept Under Wraps at cricket score odds. On the strength of Tuesday night’s triumph, he won’t be starting at huge odds again anytime soon. Meanwhile, trainer-driver Donna Castles finally broke through for win number three with her four-year-old Lombo Mandingo mare Tennaya. Tennaya, $1.80 on Tuesday night, had endured a frustrating run of second-place finishes, coming in runner-up at six of its past seven starts. But she finally broke through, proving 2.6m too strong for nearest rival Liams Lass (Jim O’Sullivan) despite punching the breeze throughout. Tennaya ran 2:01.4 for the mile rate with a last half of 58.4. The Truth took out the Finley Bowling Club and Finley RSC Trotters Handicap at his first run back from a spell for Kari Males and Paul Males, narrowly edging out race favourite Kains Boy in the first race. Chris Lang trained and drove the winner of the second, the Kelly Grain Trot, with Aldebaran Eastwood, which started $3.10. David Aiken and son Josh Aiken combined to win the McNaughts Transport Pace over 1690m with polemarker Wounded, which led all the way to score by 1.3m over Royal Deviate. Maree Caldow and John Caldow had success in the Tuppal Hotel 3YO Pace with Lost In Bangkok, the gelding saluting by 5.9m in a rate of 1:58.3 over Arrokeefe. And Raylan Gibbins gave driver Nathan Jack victory in the Euroa Excavation Pace for trainer Melinda Thackeray. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria
Josh Aiken celebrated his 21st birthday last month and received the ultimate belated present at the trots on Friday night. The rising-star young reinsman drove Eljaykay Phoenix to victory in the two-year-old trotting males’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final at Tabcorp Park (pictured below). It was Aiken’s first Group 1 winner and it gave him the ultimate buzz. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn. That’s just unreal. I can’t explain how good it feels,” he said immediately after the race. Aiken’s father David trains Eljaykay Phoenix at his Avenel property, where Josh plays an integral role. There’s no doubting young Aiken’s future in the cart should he elect to make a long-term career out of harness racing. He’s cool under pressure and his style in the sulky is reminiscent of a professional reinsman many years his senior. Aiken is studying equine science at Charles Sturt University but has deferred after a semester to focus on his driving during a busy period for the stable. “It’s something I’m definitely going to be getting back into but I deferred after the first semester to focus on the Breeders and the Sires. It’s a pretty busy time,” he said. After completing his Year 12 studies Aiken spent some time working at the family stables before travelling for 18 months. “I’ve been back working full time at the stables for just over 12 months now,” he said. “I did a little bit when I’d finished Year 12 but then spent some time on a travelling holiday.” Aiken said the stable’s focus had quickly turned to the Breeders Crown after the weekend’s Vicbred finals, stable-star Lennytheshark, who took out the four-year-old pacing males' final on Saturday night, one of the key competitors for the August features. “Dad still doesn’t think he’s got him 100 per cent fit, so it’s scary to think he still might have improvement on what he’s already done,” he said. Eljaykay Phoenix will head towards the Redwood Carnival at Maryborough on July 20. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)
Harness racing Junior driver Josh Aiken has joined the Group 1 club. The 21-year-old produced the sort of drive you’d expect from someone many years his senior to land the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotting Colts and Geldings final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Eljaykay Phoenix, trained by Josh's dad David, who looks set for a big two nights of Super Series racing, started $1.35 and worked to the front early before handing up to Jodi Quinlan aboard Illawong Armstrong at the bell. Illawong Armstrong, a clear second favourite in the race, then slowed the pace and his backers would have had their fingers crossed that he could stay in his gait throughout – because he’s developed a nasty little habit of breaking stride in the run. But tonight it wasn’t his manners that cost Illawong Armstrong victory; it was that Eljaykay Phoenix was too strong, winning by 5.4m in a mile rate of 2:03.8. Aiken took Eljaykay Phoenix to the front early in the home stretch and, while Illawong Armstrong battled on valiantly for second, all honours were with the winner. Aiken gave a victory salute as he crossed the line, clearly a moment he won’t forget. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn,” he said. “That’s just unreal. I can explain how good it feels.” Eljaykay Phoenix has now won five of his six starts. Ever-consistent Black Valley was third for Rebecca Bartley, beaten 9.9m, and they came well away from the fourth placed runner Majestic Jess. by Cody Winnell
This is the time of the season for Vicbred horses to shine. Over the next few weeks you will see many heats for Vicbred eligible horses leading into a fantastic weekend of Group 1 Finals on July 4 & 5. Our appreciation to sponsor Empire Stallions who do a great job in promoting themselves during this series. Growth of 2YO Trotters The growth in trotting ranks has been highlighted by the number of two-year-olds who have presented at the races so far this season. By the end of May, 55 two-year-old trotters had raced (of which 50 are Vicbred). At the same time last year 33 two-year-old trotters had raced. A 67% increase in the number of starters can in part be credited to the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown series which recently boasted separate $50,000 finals for both colts and fillies. Those two finals included five graduates from the inaugural Australasian Premier Trotting Sale (APTS) in March 2013. The first winner purchased from the APTS was Dream Vacation gelding Livin The Life which won at Kilmore on June 10. Well done to all involved at the Cranbourne Club. Fastest Last Half Ever David Lewis trained Amajorjo may not have won a major race yet, but he does now lay claim to the fastest last half mile in Australian history. At Maryborough on May 16, Amajorjo won The Leo Crameri, finishing off in a last half mile of 53.3 seconds, the quickest on record. Victorian tracks hold the first five places on the national speed chart with Chilli Palmer, Ideal Scott, Macha and Bling It On all recording sub 54 second last halves at Tabcorp Park Melton. Harness Racing worth $422m in Victoria During May the Premier and Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine released a Size and Scope Study into the Victorian Racing Industry - conducted by experts IER. The report concluded that harness racing in Victoria generates $422m for the Victorian economy - a 63% increase since the previous study eight years ago. Some of the other highlights specific to harness racing in the study included: 4,000 full time equivalent jobs; 19,000 people involved as employees, participants or volunteers; 8,000 owners and syndicate members; 3,000 breeders; Highest Regional Contribution comes from the Goulburn Valley ($58m) followed by Loddon ($50m). A full copy of the 96 page study is available by clicking here. Ballarat Stakes Reduction The Ballarat & District Trotting Club is the first Club to announce a reduction in its contribution to stakes due to the impost of a new State Government gaming tax. The new tax will cost the Ballarat Club an extra $200,000 per year so the Club has decided to cut approximately $100,000 from its contribution to stakes. Most affected will be the Ballarat Pacing Cup, which reduces from $175,000 to $100,000. Admirably, the Ballarat Club will continue to invest heavily in its community and charity work, neither of which will be impacted by the new gaming tax. For the full statement from Ballarat click here. Incidentally, the new tax will have a $400,000 impact on HRV. Management is currently working through next year's budget in order to minimise the impact on overall stakes. Queen's Birthday Honours A pair of harness racing identities were awarded Queen's Birthday Honours earlier this week. Keith McGowan OAM Keith received an OAM for services to the media, however the honour also recognised his "ownership of Harness horses for in excess of 25 years and his support for the industry over many years". Despite Keith's passing late last year we are all proud of Keith's award, and in particular for his family, including son Nathan. John Ballestrino OAM John received an OAM for services to the community, particularly sporting organisations. One of the sports John is associated with is harness racing, in his role as Vice President of the Geelong Harness Racing Club. Congratulations to John and the McGowan family on being recognised in such a way. Vale HRV was saddened to learn of the passing of two industry stalwarts. Norm Fear Norm was a trainer back in the 60's and 70's and later a HRV Board member from 1984 to 1988. He loved harness racing and was always positive about the sport. The most appropriate comment I have read is from Russell Edwards on Facebook. Quote "Norm was a true gentleman who volunteered countless hours to the game he loved....I never heard anyone utter a bad word about him". And as the Shepparton Club said on their Facebook page "Norm was simply the best". Edo Bettiol Edo had a long term interest in harness racing and previously owned several horses. He was also an esteemed member of the Caduceus Club. His son Greg is equally passionate about the sport and is a member of HRV's Pegasus Club. Our condolences to Greg and Edo's family. First Winners Harness racing in Victoria continues to be the breeding ground for young participants becoming involved in the sport. During the month of May a couple of young drivers experienced the thrill of driving their first winners: Robert Caton (19) drove his first winner on Lombo Mini Lamouch at Bendigo on May 8; and Zac Steenhuis (16) drove his first two winners, Village Spirit and Tallulah Bay, at Terang on May 18. Not so young, but still enjoying his first win was Darren Manton on Prettyboytoby at Ballarat on May 10. Josh Aiken Josh is quickly becoming a young star of the industry. Son of David, Josh has had a roller coaster ride over the past two weeks. Here is a summary: Drove his first Metropolitan winner at Tabcorp Park on May 30 on Composed; Became the youngest person (at 20 years of age) to drive a treble at Tabcorp Park on June 6; Celebrated his 21st birthday on June 10; Appeal against a three week suspension dismissed by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on June 10. Milestones Amanda Turnbull With her win on Tezz Khora at Charlton on June 12 Amanda, now residing in Victoria, has driven 999 winners. If she makes it to 1,000 in the next couple of days, she will become the youngest ever to achieve the feat in Australia. Brian Kiesey Brian trained the first two winners at Charlton on June 12, his first double since Elmore in 2001. The first of the double was Candy Digger, which hadn't won since March 2012 at Warragul. Since then she had 132 starts without success. Second placegetter in the same race Master Kiesey, also trained by Brian, achieved the milestone of 300 starts in a race. Geoff Kay Dr Napthine has advised that Board member Geoff Kay's term has been extended for a three year period - until May 2017.
The success story of this year's Young Drivers Challenge was undoubtedly the rise and rise of Rebecca Bartley. Over the space of three days the Congupna reinswoman, 22, became a household name in Victorian harness racing, winning the first four races in the five-race invitational series. And they weren't aboard odds-on favourites, in fact far from it. Bartley piloted two longshots to victory at Shepparton on Thursday night (Riviera Kiss $26.60 and Boom Boom Hall $18.80) before striking at enormous odds at Melton's Tabcorp Park on Friday night (Smiling Spirit winning at $54.30). To cap it off Bartley won the fourth race of the series at Ballarat on Saturday night (aboard Kankkunen at $10.70) before having to settle for fifth with Belvoirama in the last race to finish with a series points score of 46 - just four points shy of an unprecedented 50 points (the maximum a driver can accrue in the 10-points-per-win series). "She was the story of the series, that's for sure," said Ballarat and District Trotting Club CEO Paul Rowse. "By the time the series finished everyone knew who Rebecca Bartley was." Rowse described the Young Drivers Challenge as a great series and praised the Shepparton Harness Racing Club for developing the concept. "I'd encourage other clubs to follow Shepparton's lead and look at holding similar series in the future," Rowse said. "It certainly added interest to our meeting as we were the lucky beneficiary of the series' final." Rowse said any notion that harness racing was a sport dominated by males had long been debunked, with Victoria's driving ranks filled with top-line women's talent. "It wouldn't surprise me at all now if Rebecca can go on to achieve similar to what Kerryn (Manning), Jodi (Quinlan), Amy (Tubbs) etcetera have been able to do," he said. "It's a good news story for everyone that the girls are going so well in Victoria." Bartley thanked series organisers and her fellow young drivers in her victory speech at Ballarat. New South Wales based driver Todd McCarthy finished second in the series, 14 points behind Bartley, while Narissa McMullen (Queensland), Josh Duggan and Jason Lee all tied for third on 31 points. YOUNG DRIVERS CHALLENGE FINAL STANDINGS 1: Rebecca Bartley 46 2: Todd McCarthy 32 3: Narissa McMullen 31 3: Josh Duggan 31 3: Jason Lee 31 6: Dylan Ford 25 7: Aaron Bain 24 8: Josh Aiken 23 9: Aiden De Campo 22 10: Zac Phillips 18 By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)
The Shepparton Harness Racing Club, in conjunction with Tabcorp Park Melton and Ballarat, will again conduct their annual Young Drivers Challenge over three meetings, kicking off on Thursday May 29. The two races involved on the card will be the C2 to C3 for four-year-old and older as well as the C1 for four-year-old and older horses with drivers to be randomly allocated from the list of outstanding junior talents. Josh Aiken, Josh Duggan, Haydon Gray, Jason Lee and Zac Phillips will be representing their home state while interlopers Aaron Bain (SA), Aiden De Campo (WA), Dylan Ford (Tas), Todd McCarthy (NSW) and Narissa McMullen (QLD) all converge to try and take the title. In an exciting new turn for the competition, the young drivers will not only compete in two penalty free races at Shepparton, they will also take centre stage at Tabcorp Park Melton the following night. That will be followed up by the chance to compete on one of Victoria’s most popular tracks, Bray Raceway Ballarat the very next night. Shepparton Harness Racing Club Secretary/Manager Ian McDonald was thrilled with the opportunity being provided to those driving. “I think we’ve assembled the best young driving talent in Australia and it’s just terrific to see them get the opportunity to compete in the Young Drivers Challenge,” McDonald said. “This year we’ve added races at Melton and Ballarat to spice things up and it will give all the drivers a chance to drive on one of the biggest stages in the sport. “The fact that the winner of each of the races won’t incur a handicapping penalty just gives trainers the best opportunity to race for good prizemoney.” For more information visit the meeting calendar for the Shepparton meeting calendar here, the Melton meeting calendar here and finally for more on the Ballarat leg, click here. by HRV Media
A night of competitive racing was held at Kilmore on Tuesday November 26, with the Avenel area taking the honours. Former Kilmore trainer Wayne Potter now based at Avenel, snared the Jet Roofing Pace for C4 & C5 class over 1690 metres with sit/sprint specialist Tombstone Eden in a mile rate of 1-58.8. Driven by Nathan Jack, Tombstone Eden from gate two on the second line settled four back in the moving line, before gaining a beaut three wide trail home in the last lap on the back of Gangster Boy ahead of him. Despite making the final bend four wide, Tombstone Eden sprinted home brilliantly to defeat Post It Away (one/one – outside the leader Whosgunnagetit from the bell) and Easy Lighting who was never better than three wide the trip. A five year old daughter of Armbro Operative and Eve Of Eden, Tombstone Eden has recorded nine wins from 37 race appearances. Other Avenel winners on the program were five year old Art Major/Vangold entire Cold Major for David and Josh Aiken who was successful in the Goulburn Murray Credit Union Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2180 metres following a gigantic performance at Shepparton a week earlier and promising mare Vics Cheval who was first up since June in A Harness Christmas At Kilmore 11 December Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2150 metres. Taking a concession, Cold Major bred by Queensland millionaire Clive Palmer had little luck from gate four being trapped wide,before being sent forward to park outside the pacemaker Fifth And Broadway (gate two) who was the favourite. Gaining cover mid-race after Amazing Kano moved to face the breeze, Cold Major when eased wide on turning, finished his race off well to score from Big Zee (mid-field) using inside runs prior to the home turn before easing wide on straightening and Major Deed in a mile rate of 1-59.7. David was to finish the night on a high note when extremely talented Yankee Boy/Vics Lady four year old mare Vics Cheval recorded her 4th victory in 16 outings. Starting from the pole, Vics Cheval raced very roughly as the starter released the field, being given plenty of time to find her feet, settling four back along the markers with the roughie Ifu Seek The Luck leading from barrier three. When Jumeirah Jane ahead of her was eased away from the inside to face the open for the run along the back straight on the final occasion, Vics Cheval immediately latched to her back for a nice ride home. Issuing a strong challenge to Jumeirah Jane on the home turn, Vics Cheval gained the upper hand shortly after and coasted to the wire 17.6 metres in advance of the 60 metre backmarker Miss Southern Land, with Jumeirah Jane a head away in third place. The mile rate 2-07.7. Both Cold Major and Vics Cheval were bred by Queensland millionaire Clive Palmer and are raced by David Aiken. Melton trainer Sue Hunter combined with Gavin Lang to land the Kilmore H.R.C Trotters Mobile for T2 & T3 class over 2180 metres with smart pacing bred 6-Y-0 Elsu/Amanda Woodward gelding Mister Elwood. Having his first outing since May, Mister Elwood starting inside the second line was soon travelling just of the speed in the running line, with Conchs Critter leading from the pole. His task was made a lot easier as two of the main fancies Chevals Racer (gate two) and Star Style (gate five) galloped away. Send forward three wide gradually in the final circuit, Mister Elwood raced clear over the concluding stages to defeat the honest mare Sultry Lady which moved to face the open at the bell from three back the markers after an unsuccessful bid for the front running from gate four, with Tawonga South third off a three wide trail last lap from last on the back of the winner. The mile rate 2-02.4. Glen Park’s Sebastian Steenhuis has a wonderful strike rate and was successful Safari/Truly Sue gelding Bobby Fabulous in the Kilmore HRC 3-Y-0 Pace over 2180 metres with Michael Stanley in the sulky. Leading out from gate two, Bobby Fabulous ran his rivals ragged, accounting for Ruato Bay off a three wide trail from six back in the running line at the bell and Christian Torado (one/two) returning a mile rate of 1-59.8. Dunnstown based Nathan Cahir was also a winner on the night when five year old Metropolitan/Cornelia Lombo gelding No Bettertime greeted the judge in the Ashley’s Kids Rides Pace for C1 class over 2180 metres. Driven by Nathan, No Bettertime was given a sweet passage from gate four trailing the well supported Pass It To Billy which flew the gate from barrier five and was always travelling beautifully. Using the sprint lane, No Bettertime dashed clear halfway up the running to score by 1.7 metres over the flying Dont Wanadie (four back the markers), with Packedtotherafters coming from near last to finish third. The mile rate 2-00.1. Len Baker
SOME of Australia’s most promising indigenous reinsmen and women will head for Sydney in two weeks in a bid to get their name on a trophy that is already becoming hotly-contested . . . the third annual Indigenous Drivers Invitation Stakes at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Sponsored by Michael Brown Planning Strategies the race will deliver the victor the National title. In a race that seems to gain momentum each year, Victorian pair Josh Aiken and Sammy Kilgour are the latest to join the select field. Also in the field are young Queenslander Hayden Green, veteran Forbes driver Jeff Brown and promising young Newcastle driver Kylie Barnes. Experienced Sydney reinsmen Jimmy Brown and David Caffyn have indicated their desperation to get their hands on the title of Indigenous Driving Champion, while defending champion Royce Gregory-Jack from Albury was delighted to be invited back to chase a rare double. Bruce O’Brien, the veteran of the field at 56, won the first Indigenous Drivers race and is also keen for a repeat effort in 2013. Other races are programmed for the annual Fishers’ Ghost meeting on Sunday afternoon, October 27 are races for short, tall, local and travelling horses as well as for drivers, trainers and horses which have not won a race at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The field for the Indigenous Drivers Invitation Stakes is: Driver Age No. of winners Josh Aiken 20 5 Kylie Barnes 22 35 Jimmy Brown 40 319 Jeff Brown 48 69 David Caffyn 39 132 Royce Gregory-Jack 25 35 Hayden Green 21 49 Sammy Kilgour 21 3 Bruce O’Brien 56 15 The final position in the field is still open with the club seeking interest from indigenous drivers. For further information telephone NSWHRC racing manager David Wonson on (02) 4645 2200.