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Top trainer Emma Stewart took over the mantle for the most number of wins prepared in a season in Australia when Tiger Storm won the fourth race at Warragul trots on Sunday afternoon. It was only the second horse Stewart had raced at the Warragul Pacing Bowl during 2018, but Tiger Storm's victory goes down in the record books with the success bringing up 300 victories for the season for the stable, passing the previous mark of 299 wins set by Queensland horseman Bill Dixon in 2010/2011. Tiger Storm ran a a short-priced favourite on Sunday, and went straight to the front at the start of the race for driver Chris Alford, one of four wins on the day for the master horseman who himself has set a national record for winners driven this season. Alford's quartet of victories enabled him to secure the Warragul Driver of the Year title for the fifteenth time. Three of those victories came for Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan, who was once again crowned Trainer of the Year at Warragul. His winners on Sunday were Scruffy Marshall, Starofsahara and Emiliana. Feature race on Sunday was the Women in Trotting Tribute, to acknowledge the involvement of females past and present in harness racing. The race, for female drivers only, attracted seven starters, and, fittingly, local reinswoman Casey Parker drove the winner, Rocknroll Gold. It was Parker's biggest racetrack success so far, having been a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Competitors in Sunday's Women in Trotting Tribute staged at Warragul -photo Matt Walker Fellow local Simone Walker drove Montenero to produce a local Quinella. The winner is trained by Michael Hughes, who produced a double on the day, after Express Yourself won the Trotters Handicap. Hughes has recently settled into a new property at Iona, and Sunday's victory by Express Yourself was the first winner from the new facility. It was also the first race success for Michelle Seamons, another past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, who owns the talented five-year-old mare. Gippsland trainer Steve Austen was a proud man after his horse Priddy Easy won the first race of the day. Four months ago Priddy Easy suffered a nasty chest injury after a paddock accident at Austen's Labertouche property. He and his wife Karen have nursed the horse back to health, and Sunday's victory was the third for the pacer, which has also run nine minor placings. Greg Sugars drove Priddy Easy on Sunday - his wife Jess trained Fong Nien to win the sixth event to bring up a double for the top reinsman.   Kyle Galley

The significant contribution from women to the sport of trotting will be recognised at the first Ladies Day race meeting staged at Warragul Harness Racing Club on Sunday afternoon, August 26. Forty years ago the rules were changed in Victoria allowing women to drive in races against men. Although a small number of women had been competitors in races decades earlier before being banned, it wasn't until the early 1970s that women were issued with drivers licences after a lengthy campaign, enabling them to compete in organized Lady Drivers events, usually non-betting affairs staged between races at professional trots meetings. In April 1978, Boort Trotting Club in Central Victoria conducted the first professional women's race with betting, once the rules were changed to allow open competition. In August of that year, local horsewoman Debbie Turner (now Debbie Quinlan) drove Ranj Beau to defeat the men for the first time at a meeting at Terang. Since the floodgates were opened during the late 1970s hundreds of women have achieved great success in trotting, either as drivers, trainers or officials, and have won races across the country, right through to the elite events such as the Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion Championship. To pay tribute to 40 years of success on the racetrack by women, a special Ladies' Drivers race has also been programmed for the Warragul meeting. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials have invited Australia's only female race caller, Victoria Shaw, to commentate the event for on and off track viewers. Guest speaker at a Ladies Day luncheon held in conjunction with the raceday is Dianne McGrath, one of seven Australians short listed as a candidate for the Mars 100 mission, which seeks to establish permanent human settlement on Mars in 2032. The proposed journey to Mars is a one-way trip - so McGrath's story is expected to be a fascinating one. Her sense of adventure, determination and fitness has seen her sail a tall ship in the Southern Ocean, cycle extreme distances, jump from a plane, and run multiple marathons and an ultra-marathon. Live music and giveaways will also feature around the local race meeting on the day for luncheon guests. Tickets cost $65 per head and include a two-course meal and reserved indoor seating overlooking the racetrack. From every ticket sold, $10 will be donated to the West Gippsland Healthcare Group. Ticket bookings can be made by phoning the Warragul Harness Racing Club on (03) 5622 2008. Kyle Galley

Gippsland born horsewoman Michelle Phillips is making an impact in Victorian harness racing after only a handful of race drives. 20-year-old Michelle drove her first race winner, Our Sir Oliver, at Ballarat on Sunday night. And she didn't have to wait long to add to her tally, winning with Fratellino at Maryborough on Monday afternoon before further victories at Cobram and Ballarat (again with Our Sir Oliver) yesterday. From Neerim in Gippsland, Michelle has grown up around horses (her grandfather Max was a Clerk of the Course at local trots meetings for many years). Upon finishing Year 12 Michelle enrolled at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul, and her dedicated study and natural flair with horses led her to being selected as the inaugural Harness Racing Victoria/Community College Gippsland trots intern in 2016. The internship's 12 month exposure to all aspects of the trotting industry, and leading stables in Australia and New Zealand, gave Michelle the perfect grounding to establish herself in the racing industry. Now a licenced reinswoman in her own right, on Sunday night Michelle took Our Sir Oliver to the front at the start of the 2200 metre event at Ballarat, and was able to control the tempo of the race to suit. Shooting clear of his rivals upon straightening. Our Sir Oliver raced away to win by almost nine metres for trainer Norm McVitty. Two drives later at Maryborough, however, it was a different story, with Fratellino coming from 20 metres behind at the start under the handicap conditions. Michelle sat behind the other favourite, Armchair Drive, racing up alongside her rival approaching the home turn as the two trotters dashed away from the rest of the field. In a slogging finish, Fratellino scored by a short half head, with the race time very close to the track record. Fratellino is a six-year-old gelding owned and trained by Michelle's partner, talented horseman Shaun McNaulty. The pair are presently establishing a stable of horses near Bendigo. Michelle in fact at her first race drive on March 23 almost claimed a debut driving win, when Fratellino finished second. A natural with horses, Michelle looks sets for a very successful career in race driving and continues a proud tradition of females from the Gippsland region having enjoyed success in the trotting sport. Kyle Galley

Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup winning reinsman Nathan Jack had little time to celebrate his harness racing victory on Easter Sunday. Soon after accepting trophies for the race victory with pacer Cruz Bromac, Jack made a rapid dash to Tooradin airfield, to board a light aircraft for the journey to the night race meeting at Echuca, where he had four race drives later in the program. It's doubtful a winning reinsman has soaked up a Warragul feature success in such a way before in the 60 stagings of the event. Jack had driven at the Bathurst Gold Crown meeting in regional New South Wales the night before, adding to a long, but successful weekend of racing and travel. Cruz Bromac bought up Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup win number two for trainer Dean Braun, who prepared Nike Franco to victory in 2016. Braun becomes only the fourth trainer in the long history of the race to have prepared multiple Cup winners, joining Bob Knight, Ted Demmler and Noel Alexander in an exclusive club. The exciting Falcon Seelster six-year-old Cruz Bromac has only had 25 starts, collecting 14 wins and five minor placings. Jack took Cruz Bromac to sit outside leader Rockstar Angel early in the race, and the front runners dominated the $30,000 race, with Cruz Bromac running a last half mile in 55 seconds to win by one and-a-half metres. Local Mister Wickham managed fourth spot after over racing, while Clancys Fobwatch finished behind that pacer. Across the five support races on Sunday, there were some popular local victories. My Forgotten Hero rewarded patient owner/breeder Georgie Coram and trainer/driver Simone Walker with a maiden win at start 21. The victory was the two-hundredth success for the Cranbourne Racecourse stabling complex. Yarra Glen horseman Ken Browne, a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, won the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Handicap with Chrisken Kiosk. Misty Cullen proved too strong in the Warragul Toyota Pace for owner/breeders Gordon and June Turner and trainer Gary Quinlan. There was even local success in the two pony events on Sunday. Gippsland's sole pony trotting driver, Jasmyn Fusinato, landed her first home town victory with Lily The Shark in the Pony Cup Prelude. The teenager then scored a victory in the later Warragul Pony Cup, which proved popular with the local crowd. Fusinato has now won three races in the pony trots, where youngsters from all across Victoria compete on a regular basis. Good weather conditions drew another large crowd to Logan Park for Sunday's meeting, and although horse numbers were down in races, a good day was had by those in attendance. Kyle Galley

Top harness racing driver Greg Sugars drove two of the six winners at Monday's Warragul trots meeting. The impressive three-year-old pacer Joe Nien, and Bright Shadow were driven to victory by Sugars, who has narrowed the gap between himself and Chris Alford in the race for the Warragul drivers' premiership. Alford was also in the winners' circle on Monday, when Gippsland pacer Courageous Call scored a narrow victory in a finish where less than three metres separated the first five horses across the line. The victory was a consolation for the top reinsman, who was lucky to escape injury when Sentimental Life struck trouble in the third event. The mare choked down and dropped out of the race with a circuit to travel, and crashed to the track as Alford steered the horse to the outside fence. Connections had a few anxious moments as track officials worked to remove the sulky and gear from Sentimental Life, however the eight-year-old slowly got back up and was taken from the track. Alford became the first reinsperson to crash during a race at Warragul since the refurbished track was reopened just over three years ago, a good indication of how safe the Pacing Bowl is. Visiting trainers were in the money on Monday, with Bright Shadow (Allan McDonough), The Loustar (Phillip Walters) and Joelissa (Richard Caruana) all successful. Monday's meeting was a quiet one on course, however Warragul trots officials anticipate a much larger attendance for the next race meeting, the 60th running of the Warragul Pacing Cup, on Easter Sunday, April 1st. Kyle Galley  

Star four-year-old Mach Three pacer Our Little General almost claimed the Warragul harness racing club track record when winning the $25,000 Eastern Challenge at Logan Park today. First up since winning the three-year-old division of the Breeders' Crown in August, connections used Thursday's race as a stepping stone to the upcoming Chariots Of Fire event in Sydney. Driver Chris Alford dictated terms to suit in front with Our Little General, who went within two one hundredths of a second of breaking the 2210 metre track record in defeating Beach Surge and Waimac Attack. Our Little General went past the $500,000 in stakes earnings mark with victory on Thursday, and is trained at Cardigan by Emma Stewart for a large group of owners, some of which were trackside to witness the victory. Both Alford and Stewart have now won the Eastern Challenge race twice. It was the first race win at Warragul for Stewart, despite her stables dominant success over a number of seasons. Elsewhere on the day there were mainly small fields, in particular the opening race which was reduced from six runners to four after scratchings, and became a two horse race as the field was well strung out after some mid race interference. Weight of punters support was with local Penny Bobbins, however All Major ran straight past that pacer once the two settled down to fight out the finish. All Major scored by over six metres, and is trained at Cranbourne by Michael Hughes. Oakleigh trainer Janine Stewart and her horse Glam Rock love the Warragul Pacing Bowl. Both horse and trainer have only won two races in their careers, both at Warragul. Glam Rock, driven by Greg Sugars, proved too strong for Melchoir and Rapacious. Stewart was the 2016 Graduate of the Year from the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Eight-year-old gelding Uetliberg is another horse which likes Warragul, having recorded two wins and three placings on the circuit from eight starts. The Frank Offer trained horse overcame a 40 metre handicap to win the Windra Gidgea Memorial Trotters event, beating locals Omy Son and Just Hold On. Swedish born horsewoman Kima Frenning had her first drive at Warragul in the fourth event, and led throughout with gelding Sir Briggen. The underrated Frenning drove a perfect race behind Sir Briggen, which denied locals Mygoldengrinner and Courageous Desire victory. Warragul harness racing returns on Monday, February 11. Kyle Galley

The $25,000 Eastern Challenge race will be the headline act at the next Warragul harness racing meeting on Thursday, January 11. Warragul Harness Racing Club is promoting the school holiday fixture as a Family Day, and, combined with what should be a strong racing card, an entertaining day is assured for spectators. Attractions for children on the day include face painting, a kids disco and jumping castle. Mum and Dad can relax on the lawns or in the air-conditioned club rooms, with TAB betting, food and drink close at hand. The Eastern Challenge event is staged once every four years at Logan Park, and has been won by some quality horses since it was first staged in 1991. The race is staged on rotation between the Cranbourne, Kilmore, Warragul and Yarra Valley courses. Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan is chasing his fourth win in the race, with Misty Cullen expected to compete after a strong win at the recent Christmas Eve program at Logan Park. Stablemate Magical Delight, which also won at Warragul on Christmas Eve, may also appear in the event depending on the strength of other entries. Gary Quinlan's other winners in the Eastern Challenge were Brave Salute (1992), Scruffy Major (2013) and Professor Tom (2017). Good quality fields of both local and visiting horses are expected across the support events during the day. Entry for adults is $10 on Thursday, with children admitted free of charge. Gates open at Noon. Kyle Galley

Warragul Harness Racing Club officials were pleased with the attendance at their first Christmas Eve race meeting, staged Sunday afternoon. The race meeting featured the club's first Lend A Hand lunch. Over 150 patrons young and old attended, after the club sought nominations from local charities recommending those in the community who have been doing it tough and otherwise may not have been able to join in the Christmas spirit. The lunch went ahead with the support of numerous volunteers and local charity groups, along with funding from the State Government's Victorian Racing Industry Fund. Patrons were also treated to live music, carriage rides and a visit from Santa. Club Manager Tara Kiker praised the Warragul Harness Racing Club committee, sponsors and volunteers who worked hard behind the scenes to make the lunch a success. It is the first of a number of new initiatives the WHRC committee is looking to implement in an effort to increase awareness of the trotting sport across the community. Racing highlight on Sunday was the four win haul to premier driver Chris Alford, who had also driven four winners at the Bendigo trots meeting the previous night. Alford's winners were Mach Cruiser, Courageous Desire, Misty Cullen and Magical Delight, the latter three trained by Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan. Brandons Price turned in the most courageous win of the day in the Trotters Handicap. Driver Derby McGuigan was inconvenienced with a circuit to travel when the sulky tyre came off the rim. Brandons Price dragged the loose wheel for the last lap of the Warragul Pacing Bowl, but still came away from his rivals to score. Lenard Ess gave young trainer Jess Tubbs her first Warragul winner when the gelding won his first race in the fourth event. Jess' husband Greg Sugars drove the three-year-old, which sprinted home sharply out wide on the track to win. Warragul harness racing returns on Thursday, January 11 for the $25,000 Eastern Challenge race. Kyle Galley  

Warragul harness racing trainer Jenni Lewis landed an early Christmas present with two wins at the Geelong trots last night. Jenni trained and drove promising young trotter Miss Intense to an easy victory, while Greg Sugars steered pacer Celestial Trekker to a win in the following race. That horse has now won two races on end. Jenni trains her horses from the Warragul Harness Racing Club track, while also co-ordinating the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Meanwhile, there are eight races at the Warragul trots meeting being staged this Sunday afternoon. The first event starts at 1:39pm, with the last race due to run at 5:43pm. Around 180 people will be guests of the WHRC on Sunday for the first Lend A Hand lunch, reaching out to disadvantaged members of the community in an effort to spread some Christmas cheer. The luncheon is being supported by the local club in conjunction with Victorian Racing Industry Fund and Harness Racing Victoria. Of course Santa Claus will make a flying visit to the track for the children throughout the day. Kyle Galley

The twenty first graduation dinner for the Gippsland Harness Training Centre was staged in Warragul last Saturday night. Students celebrated a successful year of studies at the Centre, which operates from the Warragul harness race track at Logan Park. Several awards were presented on the night in recognition of the efforts of particular students who excelled in their studies this year. Warragul and District Light Harness Club Student of the Year award was presented to Kaitlyn Payne, and the Ted Demmler Encouragement award was won by Tracey Brooks, who has commenced employment with Yabby Dam Farms, one of Victoria's leading trotting establishments. The Angelique Club award was received by Mary Back, while the Dani Lewis Memorial award was won by Katherine Atkins, and the VETiS (VET in Schools program) award went to Shannon Sutcliffe. Community College Gippsland CEO Sue Geals thanked the Centre staff and volunteers for their efforts in co-ordinating the courses this year on behalf of the college. Sue congratulated the students on their successful year. She said that while the local harness racing industry may not be big on numbers of participants, there is a great level of dedication to the sport in the Gippsland region. Also on the night, past GHTC graduate Montana McStay told the audience of her experiences this year, working with several leading trotting stables as the recipient of the second Victorian harness racing internship. Montana said the past 12 months, travelling the state and learning all aspects of the trotting industry, have bought her out of her comfort zone and have provided her with memories and skills that will last a lifetime. She encouraged the current intake of students to consider the internship when it is offered again soon. The connections Montana has established in the industry, and experiences she has been offered, will shortly see her travel to the United States to one of their leading standardbred establishments. Well known trots Clerk of the Course and former top jumps jockey Kevin Wynne was also presented with a plaque in recognition of almost two decades of service to local harness racing on the night. Kyle Galley

Gippsland trots stalwart Roly Thompson died last Monday after a battle with illness, a fortnight short of his 91st birthday. Roly was a friend to all in local harness racing and had an active involvement in the sport in Gippsland for many years. I last saw Roly about four weeks ago when I visited him to find out more about his interest and involvement in trotting - that day he told me that "harness racing saved his life", as it gave him something to focus on after his wife passed away in the early 1980s. Roly became involved in the Latrobe Valley (Traralgon) Trotting Club when introduced to the sport by club committeeman Max McMahon. Roly later served as a committeeman at the club, trained as a club steward, and also worked as timekeeper at the Traralgon gallops meetings. As an active volunteer with Traralgon, he spent many hours assisting with track preparation and attending state meetings with then President Stan Bonighton in an effort to improve the fortunes of trotting in the Latrobe Valley, and experienced many frustrations as the eastern outpost battled for survival. Roly also related that Bonighton used to get him "to find the bloke who had travelled the furthest with a horse, and bring him upstairs for a cup of tea and a sandwich" as a small token of appreciation for those who often travelled hundreds of kilometres to compete at Traralgon. After Traralgon did fold in the mid 1990s Roly continued to work as a Club Steward at local trots meetings and trials - his support of Warragul saw him awarded a Life Membership of the Warragul and District Light Harness Club over a decade ago. He also arranged, without the desire for recognition, that the Traralgon Pacing Cup trophy be paid for each year to keep the memory of that chapter of harness racing alive. Roly later moved from Morwell to Carrum Downs with his partner Bev, but continued to attend trots meetings at Warragul and Cranbourne, and also travelled the state for many years catching up with friends at the trots, particularly in the members' at Moonee Valley and at the Mildura Cup Carnival. He was particularly proud of the fact that he and Bev once attended every Victorian Country Cup meeting in a single season, such was their interest in harness racing. Kyle Galley

Free-legged Trafalgar pacer Feel The Rhythm burst back into winning form in one of the harness racing highlights at Warragul last Monday afternoon. Racing in warm Spring conditions, Feel The Rhythm led all the way in the fifth race. The seven-year-old black mare is a pacing rarity - she competes without the hopples that nearly all pacers were around their legs in some form, which enable the horse to pace at speed in competition. Feel The Rhythm won at Yarra Valley without the hopples in June, and, despite having only won two races from 58 starts, she has still paid her way with another eleven minor placings, three of those coming since the hopples were removed. Veteran trainer Chris Hunter prepares Feel The Rhythm, raced by his son Brett and long time stable client Graham Tonkin, while Glenn Hunter drove the horse for his dad. The mare produced a mile rate of 1:57.4 for the victory on Monday - it would be interesting to find out where that time sits as far as the quickest times recorded by unhoppled pacers in Australia. Cranbourne horses provided the Quinella in the Trotters Handicap, leading home the twelve horse field which was spread out over plenty of ground after several runners made early errors. Ghent led most of the way for trainer/driver Simone Walker, courtesy of a brilliant beginning from the standing start. Express Yourself ran second, with Omy Son completing a Gippsland Trifecta by finishing third. Fast race times were the order of the day on Monday, and Clyde pacer Coldplay Road broke the track record for the 2210 metres distance in winning the appropriately named Full Steam Ahead Pace. Coldplay Road produced a mile rate of 1 minute 56.4 seconds, wiping two one-hundredths of a second off the previous mark. Visiting trainers won several of the races on Monday, despite numbers of visitors being down on previous meetings. Wemen Sporty won the opening race for trainer Leigh Miles and driver Greg Sugars in fast time. Budding Caesar broke a frustrating run of minor placings with a win in the second event for trainer Beau Tindale and driver Lisa Miles. Tindale also teamed up with driver Darby McGuigan to win the last with Bongiorno Boys, helping produce a Quadrella dividend of over $23,000. Jodi Quinlan drove the Philip Chircop trained Delightful System to win the third event. Racing returns to Warragul on Christmas Eve. Kyle Galley

Two well known Gippsland horse groups are joining forces for a major fundraiser in October. The West Gippsland Australian Stock Horse Branch and the Warragul Harness Racing Club are conducting a trivia night and monster auction, on Friday night, October 13. Bookings are currently being taken for what promises to be a very popular night of entertainment, staged at the Warragul Harness Racing Club's "Danny's the Venue" function room from 7pm. Tickets are just $10 per person, with drinks available at bar prices (no BYO), and those coming are welcome to bring their own nibbles. Table bookings of eight, ten or twelve are also available and have already been selling well. The West Gippsland Australian Stock Horse Branch have conducted several successful trivia nights in the past, though this is the first one to be staged at Warragul. The spacious function facility at the home of harness racing in Warragul will allow for extra tickets to be sold. Already, a number of great prizes have been donated by businesses for the monster auction, and further donations from businesses or individuals are presently being sought. Warragul Harness Racing Club is looking forward to hosting members of the Stock Horse Branch at their club rooms, and this is the first major fundraiser for the club since their current volunteer committee was appointed in May. Tickets will sell fast for this event, and can be booked by phoning Narelle Witty on 0412 232 520.   Kyle Galley

Top harness racing driver Chris Alford has won the Warragul Driver of the Year award for the fourteenth time, after the final meeting of the 2016/17 racing season was held recently. Alford drove 17 winners for the season at Warragul, seven more than runner-up Greg Sugars. He only missed a place 10 times from 41 drives on the track across Warragul's nine meetings. He first won the award in 1992/93, but still has a way to go to pass the most successful reinsman to compete at Warragul, Ted Demmler, who won the premiership 20 times. Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan was leading trainer across the season at Warragul, the first time his stable has won the award since 2005. Gary's stable has now collected the award six times. He prepared 13 winners and 11 placegetters for the season, from 38 starters. Runner-up was Jayne Davies, who had won the award 11 times in the past 12 seasons. Consistent young reinsman Darby McGuigan won the Concession Driver of the Year award, landing five winners and seven minor placings from 33 starts at Warragul during the season. Most consistent horse of the year at Warragul was Hurricane Stride, from the Jayne Davies stable at Clyde. Three wins and one second from five starts at Warragul earned Hurricane Stride the award narrowly from stablemate Ravello Rock, and trotter Omy Son, which both tied for second on 12 points. Hurricane Stride won the Traralgon Pacing Cup at the Warragul club's July race meeting. The Victorian harness racing season is conducted from September 1 to August 31 each year, and the Warragul award winners will be honoured at the club's first meeting of the 2017/18 racing season on Monday, October 16. Kyle Galley    

Three harness racing reinsman drove two race winners apiece at Monday's Warragul trots meeting. Chris Alford, Nathan Jack and Rod Petroff all landed doubles on a nine race program full of exciting racing. Alford teamed up with local trainer Gary Quinlan for the impressive victory of Most Happy Cullen in race six, and the earlier winner Omy Son - both horses are raced by large Gippsland syndicates. Nathan Jack drove Illawong Mary and Ravello Rock to victory, while Rod Petroff won with Come On Bonnie (which he also trains) and Priddy Easy. Bongiorno Boys scored a narrow win in the first race, in an exciting three way finish for trainer Beau Tindale and driver Brad Chisholm. Bendigo horseman Scott Dyer made the long trip to Warragul a successful one when What A Flight, driven by Josh Duggan, won the third race. Father and son Graeme and Gavin Lang teamed up to win the eighth race on the card with Warminster, in another close finish. Despite rain on Monday the Warragul track raced in excellent condition. The next trots meeting at Warragul will be staged on Monday, October 16. Kyle Galley  

At first glance, Sovereign Minx might not have enough experience on the board to gain a start in next Sunday's (August 6) $50,000 Redwood Classic for harness racing two-year-old trotters at Maryborough in central Victoria. But if her stable's past history in the race, and two impressive recent placings have any influence on the field selection, then the Trafalgar trotter is in with a live chance should she start in this weekend's feature. Despite having to float his horse hundreds of kilometres just to be able to compete, Trafalgar horseman Chris Hunter more often than not has a young trotter in the stables. This season it is Sovereign Minx, a filly which has produced two eye-catching placings in recent weeks from only three starts to date.   The first was at Melton on July 19, while last week at Ballarat, Sovereign Minx dwelt at the standing start, but made up plenty of ground from back in the field to finish second. The Ballarat race was over a longer distance, and Sovereign Minx handled that, and the travel, well in her recent start. It's a long way to any race for a two-year-old trotter trained in Gippsland, given that there are no events for those horses run in the district. The closest races are usually at Melton or Ballarat, or perhaps at Kilmore or Geelong. It will be a 600 kilometre round trip for the Hunter's on Sunday just to get to the track if Sovereign Minx gains a start in the Redwood. This travel does not deter Chris Hunter or his son Glenn - in fact, the pair have won the Redwood Classic twice between them, overcoming the odds and defeating the more fancied stables with Blue Rock in 2003 and I See Icy Earl in 2010. Sovereign Minx has a way to go to reach the heights of those two feature race winners, but, on what she has shown so far, her trainer is confident the filly will "make the grade." Sovereign Minx's dam, Golden Teardops, won six races for the Hunter's as a pacer, however, as a broodmare, four of her five foals have been trotters. Best performed so far has been Dawn Tears, a winner of six races. The Redwood Classic is the race all trotting purists want to win - for the Hunter's to have won it twice despite their isolation from the main trotting action in Victoria is testament to their dedication. Their stable is in good form at present, and the Redwood Classic isn't always won by the best backed horse, but usually the best mannered on the day. Should Sovereign Minx make the field, and trot as safely as she has in recent weeks, you wouldn't mind having a few dollars on her if she is within sight of the lead coming around the home turn at Maryborough.   Kyle Galley

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