Day At The Track
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A guest appearance from Billy Brownless and a seven-race harness racing card headline a big pre-Christmas trots meeting at Warragul on Wednesday afternoon. The Geelong football great will be in Gippsland on Wednesday to continue his promotion of harness racing as this season's Trots Country Cups ambassador. More than 100 guests will attend a special lunch with the knockabout character, while also trying to find a winner at the last Warragul meeting for 2016. Some of the races appear to be quite open events, despite small fields. With Brownless on course, perhaps the omen bet might be Greenough in race two or Feel The Buzz in race six, both horses to be driven by reinsman Matt Ablett. Several local horses will compete during the day, including the smart pacer Toscas Delight, who returns from a break in race five for trainer Gary Quinlan. Trafalgar trainer Chris Hunter will also have his trotter Slancio returning to the races on Wednesday in the handicap after a spell. The last race looks the best of the day with several winning chances including local horses Awesome Cullect and Fairest Fella, although both will start from the second row of the mobile. Racing commences at the later time of 2:04pm on Wednesday, with free admission for patrons and a large crowd expected on the first day of school holidays. by Kyle Galley

The appearance of Billy Brownless and seven races on the track are harness racing highlights of a big pre-Christmas trots meeting at Warragul this Wednesday afternoon. The former Geelong football great is in Gippsland next Wednesday as part of a promotional arrangement for Victorian harness racing during the current racing season. Over 100 guests will attend a special lunch with the knockabout character, while also trying to find a winner at the last meeting at Warragul for 2016. Some of the races appear to be quite open events, despite small fields. With Brownless on course, perhaps the omen bet might be Greenough in race two or Feel The Buzz in race six, both horses to be driven by reinsman Matt Ablett. Several local horses will compete during the day, including the smart pacer Toscas Delight, who returns from a break in race five for trainer Gary Quinlan. Trafalgar trainer Chris Hunter will also have his trotter Slancio returning to the races on Wednesday after a spell in the Handicap. The last race looks the best of the day with several winning chances including local horses Awesome Cullect and Fairest Fella, although both horses will start from the second row of the mobile. Racing commences at the later time of 2:04pm on Wednesday, with free admission for patrons and a large crowd expected on the first day of school holidays. Kyle Galley

Two graduates of the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre were in the winner's circle at Cranbourne last Saturday night. Local horsewoman Kylee Paull bought up her first training victory with her horse Whiskey Business in the Monte, or ridden trot race. Kylee has been a regular competitor in these under saddle races - she rode a winner at Geelong earlier this year but last weekend was the first time she had partnered her own horse to victory. Whiskey Business had been getting close to a win for some time, doing a good job against strong opposition. The horse has proven quite capable at the saddle events, and the victory will only do his confidence the world of good. He led all the way on Saturday night, and Kylee was delighted with the well deserved win. Steve Austen has recently moved to West Gippsland, having trained at the South Oakleigh circuit for some years. His horse Monterey Jack won the last race of the night on Saturday, the horses first victory for Steve. Steve was one of the early graduates of the GHTC, which celebrates 20 years of operation in January. This year's intake of students at the Centre will attend their presentation awards night at the Warragul harness race track this Saturday evening.

The 2016 Warragul Pacing Cup was declared the best harness racing event of its kind at an awards ceremony at Crown Palladium last Sunday night. Representatives of the Warragul Harness Racing Club were on hand to collect the Best Victorian Country Cup Meeting award, due to their hard work which saw significant increases in attendance and public awareness in the Easter Sunday event. The club was praised for its significant pre-promotion of the event and for offering a range of family activities including free entry and children's rides and live music. Another Warragul win on the night was in the category of Best Traditional Local Media Coverage. Warragul traditionally has enjoyed strong support from the local media to assist in promoting their race meetings, and other newsworthy stories throughout the year. Overall the annual awards night proved a good one for the Eastern region - the Cranbourne and Yarra Valley clubs also picked up awards. Gippsland trotter Cruisin Around claimed another victory - named Victoria's Three-Year-Old Trotter of the year for trainer Michael Hughes and a band of happy owners. Kyle Galley

Gippsland trotter Cruisin Around has been declared the Australian Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding of the Year on the back of a stellar season of harness racing. The young horse captured the Breeders Crown Final, Vicbred Super Series Final and the Holmfield Classic for local horseman Michael Hughes and a syndicate of owners. All told, the Bacardi Lindy gelding collected eight wins and three placings from 14 starts for stakemoney of $123,310 last season. Australian Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year for the recently completed season is the Gippsland bred, New Zealand trained Our Waikiki Beach. In his second season of racing, Our Waikiki Beach won 11 races with one placing from 12 starts, including the Breeders Crown and New South Wales Derby Finals. The horse was only beaten once during the season - in fact that was his only defeat so far when he took on the older horses in Sydney. Our Waikiki Beach won the Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year title in 2015. Former local Jodi Quinlan trains Illawong Byron, declared Australian Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding of the Year for 2015/2016. Further award success may come for local harness racing over coming weeks, with the Victorian industry awards to be announced in early November. Kyle Galley

Warragul's harness racing season wound up with a well attended program of trotting on Monday afternoon. Despite a wet afternoon, quality racing was the order of the day with strong entries across a nine race card. Local trainers figures prominently among the results throughout the afternoon. Talented young district horseman Matt Cormick produced his handy seven-year-old gelding Mor Laag for a long priced victory. Carrying the silks of his late grandfather Des Kelly, Matt sent Mor Laag to the front in the closing stages to score well. Pearcedale pacer Friends won on debut for Simone Walker and driver Michael Bellman, while Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan landed two winners on the day. Most Happy Cullen lived up to his promised ability in winning his first race for a happy syndicate of local owners. Misty Cullen won an eventful third race, as a short priced favourite. The race started nearly fifteen minutes late, after two horses threw themselves onto the track in the pre-race warm up, and had to be withdrawn by stewards. David Miles claimed two winners during the afternoon, with Twoforsixty and Black Derby both scoring. A small field of six competed in the Trotters Handicap, and Jeter overcame a 50 metre handicap to win narrowly for trainer/driver Lisa Miles. Top Sydney trainer Shane Tritton bought three horses to the meeting, while campaigning a team in Victoria for the Breeders Crown Carnival. His final starter for the day, Idunknow, claimed victory in the eighth race, run in steady rain. Tritton was impressed with the Warragul track and facilities, and indicated he would consider a trip back to the Pacing Bowl, particularly for the Warragul Cup meeting on Easter Sunday. Next race meeting at Warragul is on Wednesday, December 21. Kyle Galley

One of New South Wales' most successful harness racing trainers will make a surprise appearance at the Warragul trots meeting this Monday afternoon. Shane Tritton is among the top trainers north of the border. He trained 198 winners in NSW last season, second only to Steve Turnbull, and has prepared 102 winners nationwide so far this season. Currently campaigning horses in Victoria for the rich Breeders Crown series, Shane has accepted with three horses for Monday's Warragul meeting. His wife Lauren, leading state driver in NSW last season, and in the metropolitan area the season before, is down to drive one of the three starters at the time of writing. The stable runners are first starter Precious Desire in race two, Glenisla in race four and Idunknow in the eighth race. Shane's attention will also be focussed on the Newcastle meeting on Monday afternoon where he has horses engaged. The appearance of the Tritton horses on Monday adds to what is one of the strongest meetings staged at Warragul this year. Well over 100 entries for the day's races have resulted in a nine race program, and capacity fields in many events. The additional race means an earlier start of 12:14pm for the day's proceedings. An added highlight to Monday's card will be the announcement of an exciting new syndication program developed by the Warragul Harness Racing Club. The club will release full details on this affordable ownership initiative to spectators during Monday's raceday. Kyle Galley

Top Gippsland trainer Jayne Davies is on the verge of achieving a significant milestone at the final Warragul trots meeting for the current harness racing season on Monday, August 22. Davies and training partner Noel Alexander look set to collect the Warragul Trainers' Premiership for the twentieth time since the award was first presented in 1981. They hold a 19 point lead over Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan going into Monday's raceday, with a strong team of runners expected to compete. The Davies and Alexander all green silks have been carried by the winners of hundreds of races at Warragul over four decades, many driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, who is leading the Warragul Drivers' Premiership, an award he has won on 12 occasions. Alford is well clear on the points table from last season's winner, Greg Sugars. Young driver Zac Phillips has a handy lead in the Concession Drivers' Premiership, having won four races at the Pacing Bowl during the season. The Horse of the Year Award could be one the comes down to the wire on Monday, with two local horses vying for the honour of most consistent at the track over the nine meeting season. Drouin West pacer Modern Ville trails local trotter Fiftyshadesofbrown by two points leading into the final meeting. Fellow local trotter Soho Ledger is only one point further back in third place. Should all three horses compete on the day, it will add extra interest to the meeting. Monday's race card is the Warragul Harness Racing Club's annual "Nasho's Day", featuring a gathering of members from the National Servicemen's Association. After Monday's meeting, the next program at Warragul will be a special pre-Christmas event on Wednesday, December 21. Kyle Galley        

It was fitting that a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre should win a race at Warragul's trots meeting on Monday afternoon, on a day when the Centre's importance to the Victorian harness racing industry was recognised. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre has operated at the Warragul Pacing Bowl for almost 20 years, enhancing the life skills of and creating employment opportunities for hundreds of graduates over the past two decades. One such graduate, Yarra Valley horseman Ken Browne, landed a well deserved win in the third race on Monday with Hi Tech Fury. Browne has been a long standing participant in the Gippsland area, and is currently based at the Gruyere property of veteran horseman Peter Goudie, after recently leaving the position of track curator at the Cranbourne harness venue. Browne is also a regular among the raceday staff at Warragul. Driver Michael Bellman took Hi Tech Fury to the front in Monday's race, and despite the pace of the race quickening sharply heading into the last circuit, the nine-year-old gelding kept on finding in the home straight, to score his eleventh win at start 139. Champion reinsman Chris Alford landed two of the seven winners on the day. Soho Ledger gave Alford and trainer Jayne Davies few concerns when winning the Trotters Handicap as a red hot favourite. The horse made it wins at successive Warragul meetings after a victory on the track a fortnight earlier. Alford also steered the Allan McDonough trained Tiz A Jamane to victory in the final event. Mornington Peninsula horseman Trevor Reid landed the opening race of the day with Elteearr, the five-year-old mare's first race victory at start five. Young driver Zac Phillips also showed his talent with race wins in successive events. Phillips drove Starzzz Of Icon to win the fifth event for Melton horseman Adam Kelly, while Gozo Lighting showed a welcome return to form for trainer George Batsakis in the sixth. Fellow junior reinsman Patrick Franklin steered Glenhuggard to victory in the fourth race for trainer Paul Green. Glenhuggard was another veteran winner on the day - the nine-year-old having raced 124 times previously for nine wins and 21 placings. Warragul hosts its final meeting of the 2015/2016 Victorian racing season on Monday, August 20. Kyle Galley

Gippsland harness racing horseman Michael Hughes captured another feature race when Cruisin Around scored a narrow win in The Holmfield at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night. Cruisin Around led throughout and held off a determined challenge from Sundons Courage in the closing stages to win the $30,325 race by a head. A winner of eight races from 18 starts, Cruisin Around is likely to be aimed at further feature events over Winter. Stablemate Mygoldengrinner led throughout to win at Kilmore on Tuesday night. Michael Hughes is also the owner of the two-year-old gelding out of his former smart mare Life Of Gold. Former top local mare Jazzam was represented by her first race winning progeny in New South Wales last week. Dison, starting a red hot favourite, sat in the death seat throughout and held on for a narrow win at Penrith. Jazzam enjoyed a stellar racing career. Dison is her first foal to reach the racetrack, and should go on to win further races on the strength of it's debut effort. Bad Boy Cullen scored an upset win at Yarra Valley last Wednesday, as a 15/1 chance. Raced by a Gippsland syndicate and prepared by Gary Quinlan, Bad Boy Cullen came from centre field courtesy of a well judged drive by Chris Alford. Celestial Daybreak gave the Gippsland Harness Training Centre students their first taste of success for the year when a winner at Cranbourne on June 2. Rated well by driver Glenn Hunter, Celestial Daybreak led all the way for Warragul trainer Jenni Lewis. Talented local pacer Mister Wickham showed he has returned to the racetrack on good style with a win on the same program for Longwarry horseman Lee Evison. Local racing returns to Warragul next Monday, June 20, for what should be a strong eight race program. Local trainers will be hoping their success continues on their home track. Kyle Galley

Warragul trotting Steward Maurie Andrews has retired after 37 years of service to the harness racing game. Maurie officiated as Steward at his final Warragul barrier trials session today (June 4), ending a lengthy association with the trotting sport. Raised in Melbourne's southern suburbs, Maurie began attending Saturday night trots meetings at the Melbourne Showgrounds as a child. In those days his local area had a strong trotting presence, with famous names such as Wilson, Dove and Demmler all operating stables in the region, along with the well known Southern Speedways track in Oakleigh. Maurie became friendly with the Frost family, local market gardeners who also raced numerous horses in that era including the veteran trotter Garden Star.   His interest in trotting developed, and, upon moving to Gippsland with his wife, Bev, he took the opportunity to join the newly formed Warragul and District Light Harness Club.   Since becoming involved at Warragul, Maurie has held several roles within the club, including stints as Vice-President and committeeman, while also serving 37 years as a Steward at local barrier trials.   He also handled judging and timekeeping of trials events at the Warragul Pacing Bowl.   Maurie learnt the ropes of becoming a Steward from fellow local Laurie Porter, and took over as head Steward from Laurie upon his retirement well over 20 years ago. He has always taken his role seriously at the trials, being eager to learn and to take particular notice of horses and their traits, while keeping up with rule changes in the industry. "I've been in constant touch with (senior steward) Barry Delaney over the years, and I've learnt a lot from Barry," Maurie said. Although he has dabbled in thoroughbred ownership on a small scale, he has long enjoyed the challenge of finding a good quality pacer, and has been involved in ownership of several smart horses through the years. During his time on the Warragul and District Light Harness Club committee, he played a key role in two successful syndicates run by the club. Tact Laughter and King Lear both introduced many new faces to trotting, with the pair winning at Moonee Valley. King Lear also won a number of feature races in Victoria during the late 1990's. Maurie part-owned several other handy horses, many with the Noel Alexander and Jayne Davies stable. He said he particularly enjoyed attending the annual yearling sales with Noel and Jayne, and casting his eye over the groups of horses for sale. Looking back over his time in local trotting, Maurie feels the sport lost a significant amount of interest in Gippsland when night racing ceased at Warragul. While he believes the sport is still capable of increasing its popularity in the Eastern region, he feels the Training Centre facilities at Warragul could be enhanced with access to surplus land behind the Warragul Showgrounds complex. "We could probably do a bit more here with paddocks and shelters, as a lot of horses like that," Maurie said. Maurie and his wife Bev are looking forward to hitting the open road in their retirement. Keen travellers, they will soon start up their motorhome and head for nowhere in particular, discovering the countryside and making new friends in the many towns they will visit along the way. No doubt, quite a few of those towns will conveniently be home to a trotting track. "When I was up at West Wyalong, they had trials on one of the mornings we were there," Maurie explained. "We went over and had breakfast with them and had a chat. Some of the stories they were telling, they can go back years some of those fellows." Maurie said he has thoroughly enjoyed his hands on association with trotting over so many years. "I've enjoyed my time," Maurie said. "I've made a lot of good friends and met some really good people in the industry." "Wherever we go, I'll keep an eye on things and keep an interest."   Kyle Galley

Local harness racing trainer Michael Hughes prepared five-year-old mare Narreeva to win the Ken Miller Memorial race at Warragul's trotting meeting on Monday afternoon. In a keen contest Narreeva stormed home out wide to grab victory from Comigal and Temporal Join. The mare is bred and raced by veteran Narre Warren horseman Arthur Fullwood and is a recent addition to the Hughes stable. Narreeva bought up three winning drives for the afternoon for top horseman Greg Sugars, who won earlier in the day with Manly Mach and Betterman Stride. Melton trainer Brett Cargill had his name selected as the winner of a new Dooza Engineering racing sulky, from trainers who had a starter in the Miller Memorial event. Cargill was lucky enough to win the same lucky draw two years ago. Co-feature at Monday's meeting was the Traralgon Pacing Cup, where another exciting contest saw Pressplay grab victory in a keen finish. Trained at Doreen by Rebecca Cartwright and driven by Craig Turnbull, Pressplay has recorded 12 wins from 55 starts. Locally owned and trained filly Courageous Call scored an easy win in the fourth race. Coming off a sixth placing in the recent Victoria Oaks, Courageous Call appreciated a significant drop in class, and led all the way for trainer Gary Quinlan and driver Anthony Butt. She has won connections almost $29,000 in stakes with three wins and five minor placings from only 11 starts. Two other popular winners on the day were Mister Gunsen for trainer-driver Paul Grech in an eventful Trotters Handicap, and Change Of Address, which recorded a third win in succession when taking out the last race. Despite cold, windy conditions, a good crowd was on hand for the eight race program at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. Kyle Galley

The Traralgon Pacing Cup is one of the highlights of an eight-race harness racing meeting at Warragul this Monday afternoon. Run each year by Warragul Harness Racing Club to recognise two decades of racing in the Latrobe Valley (1975 to 1995), the pacing cup has attracted eight starters. Champion reinsman Chris Alford drives Mister Manhattan in Monday's race in an effort to win his fifth Traralgon Pacing Cup. He won the event at Traralgon in 1990 and has won three of the cup races run at Warragul since it was reintroduced in 2006. Alford also drove the last race winner on the old Traralgon circuit. The Traralgon Pacing Cup runs at 3:33pm. The main race on Monday's card is the Ken Miller Memorial, constructed from qualifying heats at Warragul on April 18. Sir Liberty looks particularly hard to beat from barrier two, however a strong contingent of local horses have qualified for the event and they are all keen to win the race named in honour of a Warragul trots stalwart. Lara trainer Dean Braun has half the field engaged in the main two-year-old event, with three of the six starters from his stable. Although the field is small, it will be an interesting race to kick off proceedings on Monday at 12:35pm. The last race of the day could be a good betting contest, with a number of in-form, up and coming horses set to do battle. Over the sprint journey on the tight Pacing Bowl, luck in running will play a part in the result of this race. Kyle Galley Fields for Warragul, Monday 02 May 2016 Form guide for Warragul, Monday 02 May 2016

Gippsland pacing fillies Magical Delight and Courageous Call will compete in the $150,000 Harness Racing Victoria Oaks at Melton this Saturday night. The Gary Quinlan-trained pair qualified for the event after excellent performances in their heats last week. Raced by large syndicates of local trots followers, Magical Delight and Courageous Call will both start at good odds in Saturday night's race, which has drawn together an outstanding field of young horses. No doubt connections are thrilled just to be represented in such a prestigious event, regardless of the result. At the Yarra Valley meeting on Monday, Gippsland was well represented throughout the day. Gary Quinlan scored another winner, with Professor Tom scoring for owner, Warragul Harness Racing Club stalwart Grant Rathjen. Trafalgar horseman Chris Hunter produced the quinella in the trotters' race. Lazy Sunday won after an eye-catching run at Warragul on Cup day, narrowly defeating stablemate Slancio. Hunter's son Glenn drove the winner, and both horses will compete against each other again this Saturday night in the Victorian Square Trotters Association Cup Final at Melton, where Glenn will have the pick of the drives. Local horseman Matt Cormick produced Mor Laag to win the feature event on the program at odds of over $51. Cormick trains his horse at Carrum Downs but his family have been involved in trotting locally for many years. Mor Laag has a habit of winning at big odds on occasion, although his last victory at Warragul in January was less of a shock for punters, as he started an $8 chance. Meanwhile the trots return to Warragul this Monday, ahead of a further meeting on May 2. Heats of the Ken Miller Memorial event will be staged. Local trainers will be strongly represented in Monday's heats, all keen to qualify their horses for the final of the race run in honour of a great local trotting supporter. Monday's meeting kicks off just after Noon. Kyle Galley

Warragul born harness racing reinsman Gavin Lang broke a 27-year drought when he won the $30,325 Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup on Easter Sunday. In front of the biggest trots crowd seen at Logan Park for almost a decade, Lang collected his third Warragul Cup, steering Nike Bromac to a memorable victory for Lara trainer Dean Braun. Lang previously won the Warragul Cup with Copper Leopard for local trainer Noel Alexander in 1982, while he also trained and drove top mare Our Navy Lady to win the first daytime Cup run in 1989. In typical fashion, Lang drove a cool race, guiding Nike Franco between horses in the final circuit, and gaining the verdict narrowly with a well timed run down the outside of the track. He didn't panic when hemmed up between horses with a lap to go, knowing full well his horses ability would see it through despite having to come from behind on the small track. "There is a place still for these (smaller) tracks, and there's no doubt they promote competitive racing," Lang said. While having been born in Warragul, Lang has been based at Melton for over 40 years, but still competes at most Warragul meetings, and drove his five thousandth winner on the track in 2012, so the venue hold special memories for him. "Being a Warragul boy, born and bred, I'm always happy to come home here and win a race of this ilk," Lang said. Nike Franco had won over $300,000 in stakes before Sunday's Cup victory, at only her thirtieth race start. A large group of owners share in the horse, which has also won two Oaks classics in Queensland, along with feature mares' events in Melbourne and Sydney. Nike Franco appreciated a drop in grade after finishing at the rear of the field in the Kilmore Pacing Cup a week earlier. The other feature of the afternoon was the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which attracted a strong field and was won by Illawong Helios for trainer Ross Sugars and his driver son Greg. Illawong Helios is another lightly raced horse which should continue to win good races, having collected 16 wins from only 27 starts. The win of Illawong Helios bought up three winners for the afternoon for owners Martin and Kaye Hartnett - the first time the owners had collected a treble at a race meeting. Unfortunately the Hartnett's missed their successful day owing to a family function. Top horsewoman Jodi Quinlan trained two of the Hartnett's winners, and her further success with Christian Major in the Warragul Guineas saw her collect a $1000 bonus for driving three winners on the program. Christian Major flashed home at the finish to deny local pacer Courageous Call a win in the event. Melton horseman Lance Justice produced a nice looking horse in Crockets Cullen to win the last race - Justice confidently predicting the New Zealand bred horse will win good quality races after he easily defeated his rivals. Good weather conditions drew a big crowd to the Warragul Pacing Bowl, with the car park and dining areas at capacity 40 minutes before the first race. A variety of activities kept patrons entertained throughout the day. Visitors to the course praised Warragul Harness Racing Club Manager Mark Johnson and his staff and committee for the amount of work put in to run the successful event. New Harness Racing Victoria Chairman, Dale Monteith, was also in attendance at his first race meeting since being elected to the post the previous Tuesday. Kyle Galley  

Eight races highlight the feature Warragul Cup harness racing meeting on Easter Sunday afternoon. First event kicks off at 1:10pm, with gates open from Noon, and a big crowd expected. An even field will line up in the day's feature, The Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, run at 4:54pm. The prizemoney will head outside the local area, with visiting horses making up the field this year. Closest horse to Gippsland is Kotare Roland, trained at Yarra Glen, who won last week's Boort Pacing Cup and has run several good races in Cup events this season. The evergreen pacer has also competed on the Warragul track in the past in barrier trials, and will know his way around. Co-feature on Sunday is the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup which has drawn a near capacity field, and should again prove an exciting contest. Pearcedale trotter Stoned I Am will be out to give the Walker stable another big Easter Sunday at Warragul, after they won the Pacing Cup last year. Numerous local horses will compete across the support events throughout the afternoon. Entry for patrons to this years event is free, with a host of activities and attractions planned for the day in addition to the racing action.   Kyle Galley

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