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Cranbourne harness racing horseman John McGuinness will this Sunday compete to win his second Traralgon Pacing Cup - 37 years after he won his first. McGuinness, a familiar name in Gippsland racing since the early 1970's, trained and drove pacer John Arthur to win the 1980 edition of the Cup at the Traralgon Racecourse, and this year will compete with Zipping Elmo. Zipping Elmo has to overcome a back row draw from the mobile in Sunday's $7000 event run at Warragul. John had plenty of winners at Traralgon over the years, and was one of a handful of people to drive in races at the first and last meetings on the track in 1975 and 1995. The Traralgon Pacing Cup is now staged each year at Warragul in recognition of the two decades of racing in the Latrobe Valley. Top reinsman Chris Alford will seek his fifth victory in the Traralgon Pacing Cup when he drives Hurricane Stride on Sunday. Seven races will be run at the Warragul Pacing Bowl on Sunday with the first race due at 12:39pm. Gippsland horses will feature prominently among the fields throughout Sunday's card, and Warragul Harness Racing Club officials are looking forward to a good attendance at the meeting. Kyle Galley

Janine Stewart, who last year graduated from the Gippsland Harness Training Centre as Student of the Year, took the next step on her journey in the harness racing industry when she trained her first race winner on Monday afternoon. Glam Rock's win was fittingly at Warragul, where Janine learnt the ropes at the Training Centre as a mature age student, earning her stablehand and trainer's licences along the way. She only had her first runner in a race in February with Glam Rock, and his victory on Monday has kick started her training career in fine style. Monday's race was for prizemoney of only $3500, however the stakes value was the last thing on the mind of the horse's excited trainer after the event. Janine explained that Glam Rock had been struggling in races for higher prizemoney, against stronger opposition, so the drop in class to a race like the one on Monday gave the pacer every chance of winning. Driven by leading reinsman Greg Sugars, who steered four of the eight winners on the day, Glam Rock had been unsuccessful in 33 races before Monday, the four-year-old also recording his first race victory in the process. Janine only trains the one horse, at the South Oakleigh "Southern Speedways" stable complex, where several hobby trainers prepare horses. A fellow past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, Rick Cashman, also provided Greg Sugars with a winner when Danman won the seventh race. Rick and Danman have now won six races from 31 starts. Capping off a great day for Greg Sugars were the wins of Illawong Patrick in the Trotters Handicap and An Alliance in the three-year-old, both horses trained by his father, Ross. Feature race on Monday was the $9500 Ken Miller Memorial Pace Final, from qualifying heats at Warragul on May 22. Cranbourne trainer Jayne Davies won the event with Ravello Rock, driven by Nathan Jack. The event was a keen contest, with Ravello Rock proving too strong after moving to the position outside the leader mid-race. Top reinsman Chris Alford drove two winners on Monday, and an intriguing battle between him and Greg Sugars looms for the Warragul Drivers' Premiership with two race meetings left in the current racing season. Alford drove locally owned and trained two-year-old Rocknroll Pearl to an easy win in the second race. Trained by Gary Quinlan and raced by the Fusinato family, a daughter of their brilliant race mare Jazzam, Rocknroll Pearl raced away from her rivals in the final circuit to score by 23 metres. Alford also drove Shartin to win the last race. The filly looked a very good chance of winning the Warragul race, given that she had won the Tasmanian Oaks at her previous start! Punters were scratching their heads after Lanista won the sixth race, at odds of almost 50/1 on the tote. Red hot favourite Professor Tom was beaten for the second Warragul meeting in a row, but should bounce back for connections soon. Local trots followers won't have to take an annual leave day for the next Warragul meeting - it is a Sunday program, featuring the Traralgon Pacing Cup, on July 23. Kyle Galley

A good quality harness racing field will line up in the $9500 Ken Miller Memorial Pace Final at Warragul trots on Monday afternoon. Runners qualified in heats run on the track on May 22. Four locals have qualified for the rich feature, but only one of them has landed a good barrier draw. Cocos Delight for Longwarry horseman Lee Evison has drawn the coveted one barrier, while the other three district runners all drew the outside barriers on the second row of the mobile. Diamond Jasper and All My Savings, winners of the two qualifying heats, have also drawn fairly well in the Final, giving themselves a chance of another victory. The race will be run at 2:22pm, as the fifth event on an eight race card. All trainers in the Final receive one ticket into a draw for a Dooza racing sulky, which will be drawn before Monday's event. Elsewhere, good quality entries appear throughout the day. The trotters open the day at the unusually early time of 11:54am - Melton horseman Ross Sugars is the only non local in the eight horse field with Illawong Patrick. Innocent Fling ran a bold race at the last Warragul meeting for Iona trainer Trevor Gully, and he has a chance of landing his first ever race winner with a little luck again on Monday. Warragul's first two-year-old race for 2017 also boasts good local entries among an eight horse field. If Trafalgar pacer Feel The Rhythm manages to gain a start in the fourth race, it might be a good betting chance on an impressive run at Melton last Monday. Feel The Rhythm is the emergency for the race and needs to rely on scratchings to get into the event. Kyle Galley

Several of the races run at Warragul on Monday could lay claim to being the most exciting harness racing contest of the afternoon. Capacity fields in most races, and even contests produced strong racing all day. Local start Professor Tom's six in a row winning streak came to an end in the fourth race, courtesy of a brilliant front-running drive by Zac Phillips with Franco Jameson. Well rated in the lead, Franco Jameson kept on fighting, and defeated his four rivals in track record time, slicing just over half a second off the time standard previously shared by Grins Rendition and Ymbro Toto. Franco Jameson had been unlucky in strong recent races, and has now collected nine wins from just 26 starts for trainer Adam Kelly. A capacity field of twelve contested the Trotters' Handicap, and not one runner galloped for the entire 2210 metre distance. Uetliberg, from a back mark of 40 metres behind, produced a strong finish to defeat local Innocent Fling right on the line, with Ghent placing third in a race where only two metres separated the first six horses. Pearcedale's Simone Walker collected a popular training double, with Redand Blue Fella and Little Bit Sassy both successful. Redand Blue Fella is raced on lease from the Kucks family by Andrew Walker, while Little Bit Sassy is owned by a large group of Cranbourne based harness fans. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial Pace saw runners competing for a place in the rich Final at Warragul on June 5. Young trainer Charlene Gusman produced All My Savings to win the first heat, courtesy of a well judged drive by Lisa Miles. All My Savings now has two wins on the board from 25 starts. Diamond Jasper also won her second race in winning the other heat, for trainer Paul Grech and driver Nathan Jack. Mario Azzopardi and Charlie Borg combined with Irish Player, which gained a start after scratchings, to win race two, while short priced favourite Beau Reve won her second race in as many Warragul meetings for trainer Jayne Davies and driver Greg Sugars in race seven. Kyle Galley

A strong eight event card of harness racing will be held at Warragul this Monday afternoon from 12:17pm. All eyes will be on the exciting local pacer Professor Tom, aiming for seven wins in succession in race four. Professor Tom won the rich Eastern Challenge race recently, and is up against six rivals on Monday. Gary Quinlan trains the four-year-old at Drouin West for breeder/owner, local harness stalwart Grant Rathjen. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial series have drawn together capacity fields on Monday. There is strong local representation in each of the heats, with the first five runners across the line in each division qualifying for the $9500 Final to be held at Warragul on Monday, June 5. Also on Monday, the Peter Eustace Appreciation Trotters Handicap has attracted a capacity field, and honours the Gippsland based race caller who is retiring this weekend. Kyle Galley

Long serving Gippsland harness racing caller Peter Eustace will retire this weekend, after more than half a century behind the microphone. Peter will call greyhound racing at Warragul on Thursday afternoon before his farewell shift at Sale greyhounds on Sunday night. He began calling races in 1966 in the state's south west, before moving to Gippsland in the early 1970's. Peter called all three codes across Gippsland in the decades that followed, including the opening and closing races at various tracks as time went on. He is also one of the few people to have called a triple dead heat, that achievement coming at Stony Creek races in January 1987. Course broadcaster at Warragul and Traralgon trotting, and at Traralgon and Sale greyhounds for many years, he was also heard regularly at other venues from Cranbourne through to Buchan. Peter's calls were relayed to Melbourne radio stations, however he also worked for a long time as a caller and announcer with 3TR, and as a breakfast announcer with the ABC in Sale. He wrote regular newspaper columns to promote Gippsland racing, and also dabbled in training greyhounds as a hobby. Once retired he looks forward to some overseas travel, and not so much driving along Gippsland's highways. Kyle Galley

On what was a great day for local trotting trainers, Gippsland pacer Mister Wickham won the harness racing Easter Sunday's $30,000 Warragul Downtowner Pacing Bowl Cup. The third of three winners for ace reinsman Greg Sugars, Mister Wickham's very was a popular one enjoyed by the biggest crowd to witness a trots meeting at Warragul for many years. A happy syndicate of owners share in the success of Mister Wickham, trained at Longwarry by Lee Evison, who has tried for many years to win his major hometown race. Only six horses faced the starter after the race morning scratching of leading chance Im Corzin Terror. Well rated by Sugars, Mister Wickham (by Julius Caesar) scored his seventeenth victory from only 38 starts, and has earned connections close to $180,000 in stakes. Sugars also drove Beau Reve to win the opening race of the day, before later winning the other feature race of the afternoon, the $20,000 Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup with Great Things Happen. Amazingly, Sugars has driven four of the last six Warragul Trotters Cup winners. He also trains Great Things Happen, owned in New Zealand, and a winner of eleven races from only 24 starts. Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan had a large number of runners at the Cup day meeting, and enjoyed a fair deal of success, collecting three wins. Scruffy Marshall emulated his older brother Scruffy Major by winning the Warragul Guineas, while Courageous Call and Emiliana also won on the day. Those three horses were driven by Chris Alford, who himself collected a fourth race win with Stone Of Destiny. Rockbank horse Brandons Price won the Trotters Handicap , for trainer Glen Davies and driver Craig Demmler. Patrons enjoyed a variety of activities which complimented the racing action, and fine weather conditions helped draw such a big attendance. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials appear as though they will rewarded with more Sunday race dates in the new financial year, in order to increase awareness of the sport in Gippsland on the back of the success of the Easter Sunday event. Kyle Galley

The traditional Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup harness racing meeting is again being staged at Logan Park this Easter Sunday afternoon. With record stakemoney on offer across the afternoon's racing events, Warragul Harness Racing Club officials are expecting first class entries from the local area, and from visiting trainers. Last year's event saw a significant increase in attendance numbers and, once again, patrons heading to Logan Park on Sunday will find plenty of attractions to enjoy throughout the afternoon. A revamped Fashions on the Field Contest has attracted great support from local businesses, with prizes on offer in Adults and Children's categories. Other prizes will be given away throughout the afternoon through a lucky racebook draw and monster raffle, while one lucky punter could stand to win big in a new "Hole In One" sweep run in conjunction with the Drouin Country Club on one of the support races. Live music will be provided on the lawns by DJ Nige and Kombi, and patrons can enjoy a variety of food options in the undercover area, or while relaxing on the lawns with a picnic. The Downtowner Tavern Bar will operate in the betting ring, where TAB and bookmaker facilities will be close by for those wishing to invest on the outcome of the races. Inside the main dining room, full bistro and bar facilities will operate, with table seating giving an overall view of the course. Children will also be well looked after on Sunday - there will be free fairy floss and craft activities, a reptile display and animal petting yard, plus a jumping castle, merry-go-round and other rides. And of course there will be a giant Easter Egg giveaway and the traditional Harness Racing Victoria Pony Trots. The first 500 children on course aged under 12 years will also receive a free meal coupon with compliments of the Warragul Harness Racing Club. Admission to Sunday's race meeting is free, and there is plenty of off street parking. No BYO alcohol is allowed through the turnstiles. Action commences at Noon, and more details can be obtained from the Warragul Harness Racing Club on (03) 5622 2008 or by visiting the Warragul Trots page on Facebook. Kyle Galley

A six event card of harness racing will be staged at Warragul this Wednesday afternoon from just after 2pm. Three last start winners are engaged in the fifth race of the day, which should prove one of the most interesting contests. Lemon Shark, Tejays Candyman and the local Emiliana all have strong chances, along with Decorated Lady and Allys Comment in an even event. Seven local horses will contest the Trotters Handicap, as part of a capacity field of 12 starters. The event is a particularly open one, with no real standout. An interesting starter is locally trained Handy That, returning to the races for the first time since last August. Handy That has won two races from 26 starts for Cranbourne trainer Casey Parker, but, strangely enough has never raced at Warragul before. Elsewhere on the day Gippsland trainers are well represented - almost half of the horses racing on Wednesday are from the local region. Wednesday's meeting is the last at Warragul before the annual Pacing Bowl Cup meeting on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 16. Kyle Galley

There are eight races set for the harness racing Warragul meeting this Wednesday, February 15. Entries are strong across the program, with good numbers in most events. A strong contingent of local horses will compete, with about half of the total starters engaged from the region. Last start winner Run Myles Run, for Gippsland Harness Training Centre graduate Alan Ratnasingham, could start the day on a successful note for punters. Despite drawing wide on the mobile barrier, Run Myles Run is a strong chance of making it two victories on end - he is the only horse in the seven runner field to have won a race in their last four starts. Smart local four-year-old Professor Tom returns to the races in the fourth event. Raced by Warragul HRC committeeman Grant Rathjen and trained by Gary Quinlan, Professor Tom will have to overcome a back row draw on the mobile barrier over the short 1790 metre journey. Premier reinsman Chris Alford will have to choose which drive he takes between stablemates Courageous Call and Toscas Delight in the last race. The last is one of the better quality races on the program, boasting several horses in good form. Former Kiwi Our Mcardle Star returns to racing in the seventh event. A winner of two out of three runs in Australia last year, the five-year-old last raced at Shepparton in December for trainer Ahmed Taiba, who usually does well when he brings horses across to Warragul. Earlier, the second event looks a real lottery with no real standout in the eight horse field. Local hopes rest with La Patata, British General and Monterey Jack, all drawn off the front row. With fine and warm weather forecast, racing commences on Wednesday at 1:17pm. Female drivers competing on Wednesday will wear teal coloured driving pants, as part of a nationwide promotion raising awareness, and funds from race winning drives, for ovarian cancer research. Kyle Galley

Two Victorian country harness racing clubs are teaming up for an exciting prizemoney bonus on their feature races. Wangaratta and Warragul Harness Racing Clubs have initiated the $5000 Big W Bonus - A $5K bonus is being offered to the trainer of any horse that can win both the Wangaratta Pacing Cup and Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup in 2017. The same horse must win both races, and be in the name of the same trainer for both events, to receive the $5000 prize. First of the two races will be the Wangaratta Pacing Cup on Sunday, March 12, boasting a stake of $14,000. The Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup will be run on Sunday, April 16 with a total prize of $30,000. Warragul HRC CEO Mark Johnson explained that both clubs are contributing to the bonus prize pool. "we are delighted to have struck up this partnership with the Wangaratta Harness Racing Club and our Committee are looking forward to attending what is recognised as one of the best Country Cup meetings," Johnson said. Wangaratta HRC Secretary Bernadette Costantino said her committee are excited to be linking up with the Warragul club, and is confident the Big W Bonus will provide added interest to both meetings. Both the Wangaratta and Warragul Cup meetings produced excellent on-course attendances last season, and the addition of the Big W Bonus will only enhance the racing side of both of these popular events. Kyle Galley  

Veteran Gippsland harness racing horseman Gordon Turner has been successfully racing horses at Warragul for decades, and has unearthed another smart horse in Scruffy Marshall. The three-year-old turned in an impressive debut victory at Warragul last Wednesday, streaking clear of the opposition in the closing stages to win by 16 metres. Gordon bred the son of Art Major, out of his former handy race mare Magic Music, who has left three race winners from only three foals. Curiously, the mare has produced two race winning pacers and a race winning trotter. Scruffy Marshall is trained by Gordon's son-in-law Gary Quinlan. Gordon expects Scruffy Marshall to win better races, as he has always had a high opinion of the horse. After Wednesday's win, he said he has always thought of Scruffy Marshall as his "Derby horse." While he might not contest the upcoming Victoria Derby series after just one start, the other three-year-old feature races later in the season could be a suitable prospect. Scruffy Marshall's victory bought up two wins in a row for the Quinlan stable, after their horse Omy Son continued his good recent form with a win in the Trotters Handicap. Omy Son has won three of his last four starts. Gippsland trainers dominated the six race program last Wednesday. As well as a win for the Michael Hughes trained Narreeva, Hurricane Stride and Our Eduardo Denario were both trained by fellow Cranbourne trainer Jayne Davies. Captain Bronzie was the only visitor to salute in the third event. Former top horseman Glen Tippet was spotted in the crowd on Wednesday, catching up with family and friends. Tippet trained the 1996 Warragul Cup winner Kildonnan, and was impressed with the facilities at the Pacing Bowl at his first visit back for many years. Racing returns to Warragul on Wednesday, February 15. Kyle Galley

Young Warragul harness racing trainer Brad Walters will prepare his first race starter on his home track next Wednesday afternoon. Brad trains the six-year-old trotting mare Miss Intense, who lines up for her debut race in the opening event at the twilight meeting at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. On breeding, Miss Intense could make the grade - she is a half-sister to the former outstanding local trotter Billy Royle, trained by Jenni Lewis, who owns Miss Intense. Miss Intense is trained on the track, and Brad will know exactly how the course will race on Wednesday, given that he is in charge of preparing the Pacing Bowl for racing. He is a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and will be looking forward to seeing his horse compete on Wednesday. Wednesday's race is a real local affair - as well as Miss Intense five other local trainers are represented in the nine horse field, the largest number of district trained horses in a Trotters Handicap at Warragul for some time. Hardest of the locals to beat will be Omy Son, an impressive winner on the track last month, who has also won again since. Trafalgar trotter Slancio is experienced, and ran a nice second to Omy Son at his first run from a spell last time out. Last start local winners Sammy Seelster and Zipping Elmo have come up with good barrier draws in an attempt to repeat the dose on Wednesday. Entry is free to the six race card which kicks off at 2:33pm, with a host of children's activities planned for the school holiday event. Kyle Galley

It was a case of thirtieth time lucky for Koo Wee Rup pacer Zipping Elmo at the Cranbourne harness racing meeting last Saturday night. The four-year-old gelding by Julius Caesar finally found the winning post first after 29 previous races without a win for trainer Neil "Bluey" Preston. Driver John McGuinness was able to slot Zipping Elmo in behind the leader in the early stages of the race. Appreciating the tempo set in front, Zipping Elmo gained an inside advantage in the home straight and came clear to Beat Tizeh Lucky Lady and Blue Chip Madam. In an event containing several horses that had not won for a while, Zipping Elmo started at the enormous odds of $61.80, making the four-year-old the rank outsider of the 10 horse field. Zipping Elmo's dam, Lotaliberty, has left three foals which have raced, having had 140 starts between them for just three victories, proving trotting people are a patient lot! Preston and McGuinness are two veteran horsemen on the Gippsland racing circuit, and will no doubt race Zipping Elmo locally again at Warragul on Wednesday week, January 18. Local trainer Michael Hughes also had a victory at the meeting on Saturday night, when Rocknroll Gold won the opening race. Kyle Galley

Legendary Showgrounds horseman Les Turner, the last harness racing man to train a horse at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, passed away early on Sunday morning. An accomplished horseman, and an Australian rodeo riding champion, Turner was based in the Ascot Vale area all of his life. His working life association with the suburb, home to night trotting for almost 30 years, began when he started as a cattle drover at the nearby Newmarket Saleyards. Here Turner met Jim Matthews - the pair would race several horses together over the years. Ironically, Matthews passed away fairly recently. Turner is perhaps best remembered for horses the calibre of Adios Bear (1968 NSW and Victorian Trotters Derby and 1969 Australasian Trotters Championship), and Never Say Die (1969 Victorian Sapling Stakes and Leeton Breeders Plate and 1970 South Australian Sires Produce Stakes). Other multiple winners included Rusty Thor, Memento (raced by champion footballer Des Tuddenham) and his last horse, Im The Navigator among countless others. Turner briefly shifted his training operation to his daughter's property at Sunbury when they took out the trotting track at the Showgrounds as part of a redevelopment of the main arena a decade ago. His last involvement with horses was swimming gallopers from the Lloyd Williams stable at Altona Beach, when well into his 70's. A respected conditioner of horses who also broke in many exceptional types, and took great pride in the appearance of his team, Turner is survived by wife Val (nee Patten, another famous Melbourne trotting family) and daughters Gayle and Jo. Kyle Galley

Croydon horse trainer Mario Stella is already counting down the days to December 2017. For the last two years, his pacers Greenough and Feel The Buzz have collected wins at the December Warragul harness racing meeting. The pair's victories again at the successful Christmas meeting held at the track last Wednesday gave reinsman Matt Ablett his first driving double in the process. Ablett has been involved with horses for many years as a hobby, juggling driving commitments with a night shift job. He drives several horses for trainers at the Croydon community stable facility, and rated both winners on Wednesday extremely well. Gippsland horses were to the fore on Wednesday - Drouin West trainer Gary Quinlan landed two wins for the afternoon with locally owned trotter Omy Son, and pacer Toscas Delight. Clyde pacer Hurricane Stride won the final event, the third leg of a driving treble for premier reinsman Chris Alford, who also drove the pair of Quinlan winners. Steve Austen is a fairly recent addition to local training ranks, now preparing a small team from a property at Labertouche. He is a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and he produced the winner of the day's first race, Sammy Seelster. Well handed by young reinsman Darby McGuigan, Sammy Seelster swept to the lead approaching the home turn and scored an easy win. Austen revealed after the race however that the win almost didn't happen - he had great difficulty loading Sammy Seelster onto the float for the trip to the races, and was just about set to scratch the horse. He rang McGuigan, on his way to the course, and the reinsman detoured via Labertouche, providing an extra pair of hands to guide the horse onto the float safely in time for the race. Kilmore reinsman Aussie Mifsud returned to the winners list in the fourth event, driving The Loustar to a long priced victory for trainer Phillip Walters. Football legend Bill Brownless was the headline act off the track on Wednesday, mingling with a big weekday crowd and handling duties on the microphone in his usual larrikin manner. Brownless has been engaged to promote various harness racing events in Victoria over the 2016/2017 racing season, and his appearance at Warragul certainly boosted the success of the event. Racing returns to Warragul on Wednesday, January 18. Kyle Galley  

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