Day At The Track
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Warragul Harness Racing and Greyhound Clubs will run five race meetings in one week later in January.   Harness racing will be staged at Warragul on Tuesday afternoon, January 19 from 1pm for a school holiday meeting. Local horses will have their final runs before the next Warragul meet at Cranbourne this Tuesday night (12th), where a strong contingent of Gippsland horses will be looking to keep the prize money at home. District pacers dominate the entries in the first race on Tuesday night - veteran Melton Little Max (trainer Allan Preston) comes up with the ideal draw of barrier one, while Trafalgar pacer Bettor Biaggi (trained by Tamie Frith) was not far away last time and draws barrier two. Drouin West horse Most Happy Cullen returns from a spell in the second event for a local syndicate - the Gary Quinlan trained pacer has won two recent barrier trials on his home track at Warragul. Gary Quinlan has three other horses racing on the night - Omy Son, Toscas Delight and Queen of Pop. Yarragon pacer Into You (trainer Rob Evans) gave a good sight in front at its most recent run, however the horse galloped and finished fifth. Driver Neil McCallum reported he felt the horse had clipped the sulky wheel which caused it to gallop, so that excuse and a good barrier draw on Tuesday give the mare a definite chance again. Sammy Seelster, for Trafalgar trainer Glenn Hunter, is also a value chance from a good barrier draw in the last event.   Kyle Galley

Local horses scored most of the wins at the well attended Warragul harness racing meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Longwarry trainer Lee Evison collected two race wins for a host of happy owners - with Expectagrin which scored its first race victory, and the talented pacer Mister Wickham. Fellow Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan was also in the winners' circle on the program with Ymbro Toto, which led throughout in her victory, giving ace reinsman Greg Sugars a driving double. Veteran Croydon horseman Mario Stella has long supported Warragul's meetings, and made the trip across a successful one when he landed a double with Feel The Buzz (driven by Matt Ablett) and Greenough (Zac Phillips). Clyde trainer Jayne Davies was another local to collect a victory with Mister Clooney in race eight when driven by Chris Alford. Melton couple Maree and John Caldow combined to win the Gippsland Business Centre Pace with Art Mistress, defeating locals Sahara Sunrise and Fairest Fella. John Caldow accepted a trophy on behalf of the race sponsors, who held their Christmas break-up at the trots. After the race Caldow claimed the Warragul track as "the best little track around", given the work undertaken to enhance the condition of the track surface and camber in recent times. Veteran Bendigo horseman Brian Gath had his first drive at Warragul for some time, and landed victory with Aitutaki. Gath also praised the quality of the revamped Warragul track after the race, saying that while the track has always been of good quality, the renovation works undertaken 12 months ago have taken the course to another level. Trainer/driver Lisa Miles bought home Tiavons Dream to a narrow victory in the Trotters Handicap - the square gaiters turned in a great exhibition of faultless trotting which was well received by the crowd. Wednesday's raceday introduced plenty of new people to trotting and there was a great atmosphere on track. Strong entries produced nine races with competitors coming from far and wide for a quality program. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials will be hoping to repeat the success at their next raceday on Tuesday afternoon, January 19.   Kyle Galley

A big day of harness racing is planned for Warragul this coming Wednesday. There were enough entries for nine races, with the first to run at 1:14pm, and the last due just after 6pm. A number of local businesses are taking advantage of the meeting to hold their Christmas break-up functions, and the Warragul Harness Racing Club expects a big attendance given the forecast fine weather conditions. Star local pacer Mister Wickham is drawn to compete during the day, depending on the outcome of his race tomorrow night (Saturday) at Melton. Drouin West trainer Gary Quinlan will be well represented on the day with four starters, including Ymbro Toto, a mare which has had her issues but is expected to turn in a good performance this time around. Races look fairly even throughout the day, particularly the third event, where the winner could be well hidden. Veteran local pacer Melton Little Max, lining up for race start 247, could be a chance of victory if things go his way from an awkward barrier draw. Local horseman Rob Evans has his first starter on his home track for many years when Into You contests race one, at just her second race start. There is free entry to all patrons at Wednesday's raceday. Kyle Galley

Students of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre celebrated a year of achievement at their Graduation Dinner held in Warragul last weekend. Around 70 people attended the night at Danny's the Venue, with several awards presented to some of the graduate students from the Certificate and VCAL programs. Award winners on the night were: Mariah Lakeman (Warragul and District Light Harness Club Student of the Year), Paul Alsberg (Warragul Harness Racing Club Achiever Award), Tayla Wells (Angelique Club Award), Judy Smith (Pakenham Produce Award), Montana McStay and Rhiana Mumford (Community College Gippsland Awards). For the first time, organisers have introduced an award in memory of the late Dani Lewis, the popular local trainer/driver who was a past graduate of the Centre.   The Dani Lewis Memorial medal was presented by Dani's mother, Donna, and was won by Abby Orchard. The year just completed has been a most successful one for the Centre, with record enrolment numbers and support from within the industry, and the highlight on track being a winning double at Cranbourne, which has enabled the Centre to purchase a state-of-the-art Dooza racing sulky. GHTC co-ordinator Jenni Lewis announced at the Graduation Dinner that a Scholarship will be awarded in 2016, to allow one graduate from the Centre an opportunity to turn their skills and knowledge into a career in the trotting industry. The Scholarship comes together courtesy of the generous support of Harness Racing Victoria, and Community College Gippsland, the Centre's educational provider. Kyle Galley

The first anniversary of harness racing on the revamped Warragul Pacing Bowl saw two track records broken at a well attended meeting on Monday afternoon. The Chris Alford trained and driven Tabanan recorded a blistering rate of 1:54.8 for 1790 metres in the fifth event, an almost unheard of performance on a half-mile circuit such as Warragul.   Earlier, Montu broke the 2210 metre time record, rating 1:57.8 in a rough race for trainer Ross Sugars and his reinswoman daughter Kylie Sugars. Race times were fast all day, in part due to the dry and warm weather conditions, but also due to the quality of the new racing surface, which keeps improving all the time. In the final race of the day, Trafalgar pacer Live In Doubt swept down the outside to score a narrow, last stride win for trainer driver Glenn Hunter. Live In Doubt was equal winner of the most consistent Horse of the Year at Warragul two years ago, and has begun this racing season at the Warragul Pacing Bowl in fine style. Highlight of the afternoon was the four race winning haul to driver Chris Alford - Gonski, Miracle, Tabanan and Bay Tint, which places Alford at an early advantage in the battle for this season's drivers premiership at Warragul. Local horseman Michael Hughes also landed a win, with Rocknroll Gold collecting his first victory for a big syndicate of local owners. This victory was the first leg of a driving double for reinsman Nathan Jack. During the afternoon the most consistent performers for the last season of racing at Warragul were honoured with awards, including leading trainer Jayne Davies, reinsman Greg Sugars and junior reinsman Josh Duggan. Locally owned and trained trotter Stoned Again was the most successful Horse of the Year for last season, with delighted connections enjoying the club's hospitality during the afternoon. Popular club Manager Alison McDougal was also farewelled during the afternoon, having chosen a change in direction after 18 months with the trotting sport. Racing returns to Warragul just before Christmas on Wednesday, December 23, with the hospitality area on-course almost fully booked already for end-of-year celebrations. Kyle Galley

An eight race program signals the return of harness racing to Warragul after a couple of months this Monday afternoon.   As usual, entry is free for patrons and the first race will commence at 1:18pm. In conjunction with the program, winners of last season's Warragul racing awards will be honoured. Driver of the Year (Greg Sugars), Junior Driver of the Year (Josh Duggan) and Trainer of the Year (Jayne Davies) will be in attendance, along with connections of the most successful Horse of the Year, trotter Stoned Again. The horse will also compete on the day, in a race named in his honour. Monday's card features several locally trained horses, and caps off a busy few days for local trotting followers - the Gippsland Harness Training Centre holds their 2015 graduation dinner this Saturday night.   Kyle Galley

Well known trots fan Steve "Pogga" Salter has jumped on board as a sponsor of the Warragul Harness Racing Club for their new harness racing season which commences on Monday afternoon, November 30. Steve's popular poggaharness.com tipping website has a legion of followers, and he is sponsoring the new Lucky Longshot Award to be decided across Warragul's nine meetings. The trainer of the longest priced winner for the season at Warragul, based on the SuperTAB starting price, will receive $250 cash courtesy of poggaharness.com The racebook at each Warragul meeting will contain the name and starting price of the contest leader, and those interested will be able to keep track of the outcome of the contest throughout the season on Warragul's award-winning social media outlets. Poggaharness.com became involved in trots sponsorship when they purchased naming rights to Warragul's feature Traralgon Pacing Cup two years ago, and since then, Steve and his website have become well known throughout the industry. Warragul Harness Racing Club is pleased to have Steve and his website back involved where it all began, and is looking forward to seeing which horse and trainer take out the Lucky Longshot title this season.   Kyle Galley

Three major trotting awards were secured by locals at the annual Victorian Harness Racing Industry awards ceremony held at Melton last Sunday night. Warragul Harness Racing Club won Club of the Year from venues which conduct less than 16 race meetings annually. And long standing Gippsland stalwart Vera Miller received the Victorian Country Clubs Association Volunteer Achiever Award, in recognition of her two decades of service to the sport at Warragul. Pearcedale pacer Hectorjayjay, winner of the Warragul Cup at Easter, was voted Victorian Four-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. Adding to the haul of awards, Warragul Harness Racing Club last Friday won a national Merit Award for their efforts in promoting local trotting on social media. This worthy success is a great boost to the local trotting industry as the opening race meeting of the 2015/2016 Warragul trots season approaches on November 30. Kyle Galley    

Two well known names in Gippsland trotting were among those honoured at last night's harness racing industry Hall of Fame gala event. Talented harness racing horseman Keith Raw, a name largely forgotten in recent years, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. A great supporter of trotting at Warragul, Keith prepared his horses from his Opal Lodge property off Stud Road in Scoresby, well before the area became part of outer suburbia. He drove the 1960 Warragul Cup winner, Pacific Beauty, for trainer Ron Whee, before collecting a second Cup with his own smart horse, Alipes, in 1974. Keith was considered a master horseman in his time - he prepared champion juvenile pacer Opal Chief in the early 1960s, and trained more two-year-old race winners in Melbourne during the 1960s than any other horseman. He won three Warragul driver's premierships, and his horse Corrinne Jay won the first Warragul Horse of the Year award in the late 1970s. Bernie Blackshaw, a member of the famous Gippsland racing family, was honoured with a Certificate of Merit for his extended service to the trotting sport. Bernie, now based in Wangaratta, and his family have enjoyed great success as trainers and breeder of horses over more than 30 years. Among the other award winners on the night with a connection to Warragul were: the Shinn family, who have competed at Warragul meetings since Hubert Shinn won the main race at the opening Warragul meeting in 1939, Lance Justice (2002 Warragul Cup winner) and Vin Knight (1985 Warragul Cup winner). The Hall of Fame is administered yearly by the Victorian Harness Racing Media Association.   Kyle Galley

The hard working staff and students of the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre were rewarded for their efforts with not one, but two winners at last Sunday night's Cranbourne meeting. Mystic Castle, driven by Jodi Quinlan, appreciated a good barrier draw in winning the third race. Just over half an hour later, the celebrations went into overdrive when Break A Wrist, with Lisa Miles in the sulky, claimed a narrow victory in the fourth event. Mystic Castle and Break A Wrist both collected their first wins in the process, and it was the first double for the Centre, and for horse trainer and Centre co-ordinator Jenni Lewis. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre is administered by Community College Gippsland and the Warragul and District Light Harness Club, and operates from facilities at the Warragul harness race track. Established in 1997, the Centre is currently overseeing a record enrolment of students who learn all aspects of the training and education of horses in a racing stable environment.   Longwarry pacer Ymbro Toto was another local winner on the program for trainer Lee Evison.   The horse was also driven by Jodi Quinlan, one of four winning drives for Jodi at the meeting.   Kyle Galley

Gippsland horse Professor Tom won a consolation of the rich Breeders Crown series at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night. Bred and owned by long serving Warragul Harness Racing Club committeeman Grant Rathjen, Professor Tom finished strongly to win. The two-year-old is trained by Drouin West's Gary and Debbie Quinlan and was driven by Gavin Lang. Professor Tom is out of the Rathjen family's former brilliant race mare Petes Dream. On Sunday afternoon another Gippsland bred, Our Waikiki Beach, extended its winning sequence to 12 in capturing the Colts and Geldings Final. Bred locally by the Fusinato family, and trained and owned in New Zealand, Our Waikiki Beach heads home undefeated in his first season of racing. Our Waikiki Beach is from the Fusinato's top mare Cyclone Betty. Pearcedale pacer Hectorjayjay, winner of the Warragul Cup earlier this year, won the Entires and Geldings feature, while Cranbourne horse Cruisin Around ran third in the trotting Colts and Geldings Final. These and other horses trained in the region look set to produce an exciting future for Gippsland harness racing.   Kyle Galley

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury are among the 14 owners of pacer Stone Of Destiny, which bought up its first win at the harness racing meeting at Warragul on Monday afternoon. Although the pair weren't on track for the race, several other members of the Raceapacer Syndicate, along with the group's jovial Manager Mark Hoare, were trackside for the event.   Mark has helped operate syndicates successfully for over 20 years in trotting and gallops, introducing many new owners to racing. Stone Of Destiny is trained by die-hard Collingwood fan Jayne Davies, and was driven by Chris Alford. As well as nearly $4000 in prizemoney for Monday's win, a first win bonus of $7000 will also be well received by connections. Chris Alford drove two winners on the card - his first win was with Blacktie Lightning earlier in the day. Trained near Ballarat by Chris Lang Junior, Blacktie Lightning was most impressive in scoring, and the win was timely for Lang and his partner Haley Toulmin, who announced their engagement last weekend. Stoned Again scored a popular win in the Trotters Handicap, and claimed the Warragul Horse of the Year title in the process. Owners of the horse also sponsored the event, giving them the extra thrill of winning their own race. The win also capped off a great season at Warragul for trainer Bill Walker and driver Simone Walker. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double at the meeting - with Tenacious One and Ideal Diamante both scoring impressive wins. Bushrod won race seven for trainer/driver Alison Chisholm, while trainer Ahmed Taiba and driver Greg Sugars combined to win the fourth event with Rock Of America, which flashed home down the outside of the track to win in a close finish. Melton pacer Electric Ollie won the second event - the visitors won most of the races on Monday over the local trainers. Monday's meeting rounded out the racing season at Warragul, with the next raceday now not until November 30 when the first anniversary of the Warragul track reopening takes place. The quality of the Warragul track has improved out of sight with the changes that have taken place over the last 12 months. Stewards at Monday's meeting commented on the quality of the track given the amount of rain received in the lead-up to the meeting. With the improvements to the track has come increased interest from trainers along with better quality and faster racing, justifying the money spent on the project last year.   Kyle Galley

Wintry conditions kept many spectators away from Monday's Warragul trots meeting, but races were still keenly contested despite the chill.   Warragul's new racing circuit passed its first wet day of racing since last year's rebuild with flying colours - despite plenty of rain over the previous couple of days the surface was turned out in excellent condition. In the second race, the KC Racing Trotters Handicap, Pearcedale horse Stoned Again lowered the track record for 2210 metres, taking one-and-a-half seconds off the previous mark set in December last year. Stoned Again, for father-daughter combination Bill and Simone Walker, has moved to the lead in the Warragul Horse of the Year award with one race meeting remaining in the current racing season. Rick Cashman, a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, won a race on the day with Danman. At just its second race start, Danman led throughout - the horse will derive great benefit from the victory and should win more races. Danman's win was one of three on the afternoon for top reinsman Greg Sugars, who also won with first starter Ravello Rock in race one for Jayne Davies, and Almihata in the third event for Ahmed Taiba. Ahmed himself collected two winners on the day, when Admiral Joy rattled home to win the final event when driven by junior reinsman Troy McDonald. Jodi Quinlan produced a popular victory with Decorated Lady in race four, for a big syndicate of owners.   Several of them were trackside, loudly cheering the horse every step of the way down the home straight. Another popular win was that of Jean Baptiste in the seventh event for Melton trainer Lance Justice, and driver Jason Hackett. Jean Baptiste is raced by a nine-member syndicate, and was well supported in betting. Trotting returns to Warragul on Monday, August 17.   Kyle Galley  

Another eight event trotting program will be staged at the harness racing meeting at Warragul this Monday afternoon. Among those attending will be members of the National Servicemen's Association - this is the eleventh year that the Nasho's have had their day at the trots. Guests will enjoy the Warragul Harness Racing Club's hospitality while the Alf Martin Memorial is named in honour of a past Nasho. Alf was a Warragul member and co-ordinated bookings for the Nasho's Day since it began. He had an active involvement in trotting as a barrier attendant at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds race meetings. Monday's program contains several even races. Past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, Rick Cashman, might be able to land the fifth race winner with Danman, which ran second at its only start to date. First race on Monday is at 12:31pm and course entry is free for all patrons. Kyle Galley

Drouin West harness racing trainer Gary Quinlan has a big team of horses engaged across the rich Vicbred Super Series finals staged at Tabcorp Park Melton this Friday and Saturday night. Charlie Runkle will compete in the two year old trotting final on Friday night, while stablemates Courageous Call, Magical Delight, Professor Tom and Emiliana are all drawn to compete on Saturday. Longwarry trainer Lee Evison has Mister Wickham qualified for a three year old final, and local Michael Hughes also harnesses up Cruisin Around. Warragul Cup winner Hectorjayjay also starts in one of the finals. Meanwhile, Melton horseman Lance Justice won the Traralgon Cup at Warragul on Monday with Phil Monty. Phil Monty scored in a three way photo finish at the well attended meeting.   Kyle Galley

Although Bart Lightning is having his first race start in the Glenview Park Trotters Handicap at Warragul on Monday, the harness racing seven-year-old is already well and truly familiar with the racetrack surroundings. For the last 18 months, Bart Lightning by the SJ's Photo horse Zooma has served his apprenticeship as a teaching horse for the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Between sixty and seventy students have gained their initial experience at driving behind Bart Lightning, either on their own, or in the Centre's double seater sulky. A perfect, placid teaching horse, Bart Lightning is the first point of contact for new students, as they learn about the sport of trotting, including unfamiliar subjects such as gearing up of horses, training methods and trackwork. "He's always been for everyone, for their first contact," GHTC trainer Jenni Lewis said. "He's not the bravest horse around, but he is the most trustworthy and versatile." Since arriving at the Centre via part-owner/breeder Trevor Brown in July 2013, Bart Lightning has done countless laps of the Warragul Pacing Bowl. But it is only now that Jenni has the confidence to place the horse in a race. Bart Lightning made a mistake in a barrier trial at Warragul last Saturday, but did win a trial on the track the previous week. Local horseman Gary Quinlan has been steering Bart Lightning in his recent trials, helping the horse build his confidence. Jenni would have sought the services of Gary for the race drive on Monday, however he gave away race driving some years ago. Top horseman Chris Alford will take the reins on Monday. Ironically, Bart Lightning's stablemate, Golden Phaeton, also aged seven, will too make his race debut in Monday's event. Although she is not going into the race overwhelmed with confidence about the chances of the two horses, Jenni is pleased that the Centre has trotters at the races again, as it has been a couple of years since a squaregaiting horse has sported the stable's silks. Over the last decade, horses such as Selsdon and Drop Of Paradise (both winners of Horse of the Year at Warragul), have been among the best trotters produced by the Centre. An influx of student enrolments in recent times has seen the numbers of horses at the Centre increase. Recent additions to the barn include fast class pacer Mediation, and youngster Mystic Castle. Currently there are 20 full-time students enrolled at the Warragul facility, with a further 15 secondary school students participating in the once-a-week VET in Schools program. Many students past and present will be on track on Monday to see the pair of trotters compete. Meanwhile, the Traralgon Pacing Cup is the highlight on a bumper nine-event card on Monday. The race recognises the twenty-year history of the trotting sport at Traralgon, and runs at 3:02pm. Longwarry pacer McNiven looks well placed in the event, after a solid effort in winning a barrier trial at Warragul in fast time last Saturday. Champion reinsman Chris Alford trains and drives Stormed Out, and Chris is in pursuit of his fifth winning drive in a Traralgon Pacing Cup. Chris drove the last race winner on the old Traralgon track. Such has been the response from trainers to Monday's card, the first race will run at the early time of 11:42am to accommodate the big program. Strong entries have been received for all races on the day with 93 horses drawn across the nine events. Picture attached of Bart Lightning in training mode at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul.   Kyle Galley

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