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The Gordon Rothacker Medal has become the trots night of nights and this year was no different as the sport recognised one of the true champions of the game. Graeme Lang, affectionately known as the doyen of harness racing, was presented with the 2013 Gordon Rothacker Medal on a memorable night at Tabcorp Park Melton. It was no surprise to most involved in the trots when Lang was announced as the winner given his long and illustrious career in the sport. A champion trainer and driver, Lang was accomplished in all facets securing award after award through the late 1960’s and 1970’s into the 1980’s. The five time leading Victorian state trainer and two time leading Victorian state driver was crowned the leading Australian driver in 1979/80. Lang will always be remembered for his topline squaregaiter Scotch Notch who was not only an Inter Dominion Trotting Champion, but also campaigned successfully throughout North America. Lang has had a massive influence on the sport for many years and that includes his family history which has gone from strength to strength with his sons Chris and Gavin dominating their chosen areas. Chris, as a squaregaiting trainer and driver is unparalleled while Gavin has proven superior to any driver before him in the cart. Graeme Lang still remains an active participant in the sport and he proved he still has his eye in as a trainer when he produced Save A Sixpence to win the Group 3 Holmfield last season defeating boom Kiwi filly Habibti. Harness Racing Victoria and the entire trotting fraternity have been lucky to see Graeme in full flight and he is a deserved winner of the 2013 Gordon Rothacker Medal. There were plenty of other winners on the night amongst the Country Clubs and representatives who have worked so tirelessly in the past 12 months. The best Choice Hotels Country Cup meeting went to the Nyah club for their return to racing at the Swan Hill circuit and a hugely successful night which saw a mammoth crowd attend the first Country Cup of the season. Paul Rowse, from the Ballarat club, took out the full-time secretary of the year while at the same time Ballarat were afforded the honour of being the club of the year for those who had conducted over 16 meetings. Bernadette Costantino was the part-time secretary of the year for her diligent work at the Wangaratta track. Kyabram secured the Graduation club of the year for the second time running. Despite having just two meetings per season, the club puts on trials for participants every Sunday morning with their training centre accommodating for up to 50 horses at any one time. Yarra Valley continues to go from strength to strength and the innovative club have been regarded as the club of the year for those who had less than 16 meetings in the past season. Thanks in part to their massive Melbourne Cup Day extravaganza, this year their Oaks day meeting continued the Cup week theme with an excited crowd out at the trots. And that’s where the next award went with Yarra Valley taking out best on-course promotion for their Oaks Day. The club doubled its event attendance in 2012 with an appetizing array of on-course activities, including fashions on the field and free ladies and kids enclosures. Promoting the event with an exhibition at Eastland Shopping Centre over 4 days, the Yarra Valley club is quickly consolidating their Oaks Day meeting as one of the highlights of the local social calendar. The award for the best local media – traditional went to Mildura for their coverage across the Sunraysia Daily, WIN TV and ABC Radio to name a few. Bendigo took out the category for best local media – digital thanks to the advent of their social media platforms and up-to-date website. The Shepparton Club were acknowledged as the best presented in the state thanks to the on-track experience which patrons receive when heading to Quest raceway. Stawell legend Reg Cooper was the winner of the Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs Volunteer Service Award and rightly so after another year of helping the Western Victorian track. Cooper has full-filled many roles including the Club president for 13 years, track supervisor and swabbing attendant. The night couldn’t have been complete without a special commendation to the Horsham club who have had another terrific 12 months and was acknowledged for its high level of professionalism and consistency across all categories. The Pearl Kelly award this season went to Lisa Miles following another terrific year as both trainer and driver. A winner of the 2007 Young Achiever of the Year award, Miles has gone on to win the Vin Knight Medal in 2009 and train a string of Group 1 horses including Villagem. Special mention must also go to distinguish service medal winners in Gus Underwood and Rob Merola. Underwood has been a terrific advocate of the sport in the state’s north as a journalist for a raft of newspapers including the Shepparton News while Merola is most well-known as the managing director of SEW-Eurodrive and as the owner of star pacer Caribbean Blaster. Harness Racing Australia also distributed awards on the night with Mindarie Priddy winning the National Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year and Chris Alford taking out the JD Watts national driver’s award following a brilliant season. Alford was also recognised for his 5000 career wins which came with a flourish at the end of October. Art Major made a thorough clean-sweep of the HRA Stallion awards by taking each and every single category up for offer; that being the Leading Sire of 2YO’s by stakemoney, Leading Sire of 3YO’s by stakemoney, Leading Sire of 2YO’s by Winners, Leading Sire of 3YO’s by Winners and Leading Sire of Winners. The Harness Racing Victoria Media Awards were also presented to the deserving winners. The Best Country Feature went to Raelee Tuckerman – Bendigo Advertiser for her story on retired standardbreds. Best Radio Feature went to Len Baker and the Harness Review team for their interview with Neville Welsh following his Gordon Rothacker Medal win last year. The Best Feature (Print or Internet) went to John Peck for his story on Gavin Lang and his 5000 career victories. Best News Story (Print or Internet) was again taken out by the Bendigo Advertiser, this time Nicole Ferrie for the emotional ‘Tears Flow After Courageous Win’. The full list of award winners is below: Gordon Rothacker Medal Graeme Lang A.V.C.H.R.C Volunteer Service Award Reg Cooper VHRSC Owner of the Year Heather Anderson 2 year old Filly of the Year Mindarie Priddy Sire of the Year Art Major USA JD Watts Award Chris Alford 5000 Winners Presentation Chris Alford HRV Media Award – Best Country Feature Raelee Tuckerman – Bendigo Advertiser HRV Media Award – Best Radio Feature Len Baker HRV Media Award – Best Feature (Print or Internet) John Peck HRV Media Award – Best News Story (Print or Internet) Nicole Ferrie – Bendigo Advertiser Best Local Media Coverage – Traditional Mildura Best Local Media Coverage - Digital Bendigo Special Commendation – local media Horsham Graduation Club & Secretary of the Year Kyabram Best on Course Promotion Yarra Valley Best Presented Track / Venue Shepparton Most Successful Country Cup Meeting Nyah @ Swan Hill Secretary of the Year – 16 Meetings or Less Bernadette Costantino Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year Paul Rowse Country Club of the Year – 16 Meetings or Less Yarra Valley Country Club of the Year – More than 16 Meetings Ballarat Pearl Kelly Award Lisa Miles Distinguished Service Medal Rob Merola Gus Underwood   Harness Racing Victoria

Three Choice Hotel Country Cups have been run and won in the new season and champion reinsman Chris Alford made it two in a row for trainer Dean Braun, this time with Im Corzin Terror. The trainer/driver combination went down narrowly in the Nyah Cup before making amends with Chancellor Cullen in the Kilmore Cup but it was his talented stablemate that found the front, and led them a merry dance in today’s Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Gold Cup. Starting from barrier four in the stand-start 2690-metre race, Im Corzin Terror stepped cleanly to work his way to the top in the early stages before Alford was at his brilliant best rating the race to perfection. A first quarter of 30.1 was followed by a 33.9 second quarter before he ripped home in 28.2 and 28.1. Cut For An Ace got clear and rallied late but was over four metres away in second with American Muscle rushing down the outside for third. The mile rate for the race was 2:02.5. Im Corzin Terror was first-up from a break but was well backed with TAB.com.au during the week from $4 into $2.90 in the initial stages of betting. The six-year-old Western Terror gelding has now won 13 times from his 40 starts and broke the $100,000 prizemoney barrier today. The Bendigo Bank Maryborough Trotters Cup went to Michael Thomas for Lisa Miles. Driven confidently in front, the lightly races seven-year-old relished the extended trip and cruised home by almost seven metres at the winning post. Finishing off in 28.6 and 30.6, the 10 time winner mile rated 2:06.7 for the 2690 metres as he defeated Paparazzi Snapshot and Lightning Joy. Blake Redden

There were plenty of celebrations at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday October 11, when much improved 6-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Giveitawhirlgirl mare Bettor Give It registered her biggest victory by taking the $20,000 Harness Breeders (Vic) Blossom Lady for Mares M0 to M3 class over 2240 metres. Raced by Bacchus Marsh residents Shannon and Megan Nixon, Bettor Give It trained at Smythes Creek by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin with John Caldow in the sulky was sent forward from gate five to assume control in the back straight on the first occasion and after being rated to perfection, kicked away on the final bend to score by 3.1 metres in a rate of 1-58.7 (last half mile 56 - quarter 27.7) over Stylish Jasper along the sprint lane from three back the markers, with Shake It Mama a stablemate of the winner third off a three wide trail at the bell. Bought a few months ago as a breeding proposition, Bettor Give It has never raced better and may now make a trip to Perth for the big mares classic races to be held in the next month or so. Lisa Miles was in the winners stall at Tabcorp Park, when 7-Y-0 Malabar Maple/Krysta gelding Michael Thomas greeted the judge in the Yield Boko Trotters Mobile for TM0 class over 2240 metres. Settling a long way back in the field after starting from gate four on the second row, Michael Thomas came with a late finish out wide on straightening to blouse the pacemaker Gluteus Major in the shadows of the post, with Knapdale Girl running on late from the rear to finish third. The mile rate 2-02.6. On what's been a huge week for the Bolinda area, Kari and Paul Males snared the Woodlands Stud Trotters Mobile for TM1 to TM3 class over 1720 metres with much improved 9-Y-0 Sundon/Tender Annie gelding Tender Don. With Chris Alford in the sulky, Tender Don (gate six) moved three wide at the bell before crossing to lead the outside division for the final circuit, just lasting to defeat a game Prettylilangeleyes (three wide last lap) by a nose in 1-58.7. Brief Glance used the sprint lane from near last to finish third. Len Baker  

Leading Victorian reinsman Chris Alford showed why he is considered one of the best Australia has to offer, with a brilliant display aboard 5-Y-0 Sundon/Geena Hest mare Maidstone Miss (winner of the 2011 Redwood Classic) in the Lilydale Instant Lawn Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2150 metres at Yarra Valley on Monday September 9. Trained at Clyde (Cranbourne) by owner Jayne Davies with whom Alford has had a long association winning many feature events over the years including the 1995 (Christchurch) Inter Dominion with Golden Reign, it was a classic Alford exhibition to greet the judge. Adopting “catch me if you can” tactics after beginning brilliantly to pounce in front from outside the front line, Alford summed the race up to a nicety, setting his rivals the task of chasing Maidstone Miss all through the race. Showing no signs of stopping, Maidstone Miss scored by 24.1 metres in advance of the hot favourite El Paco off a 40 metre backmark, with My Name Is Earl a further 15 metres away in third place. The mile rate 2-06. Cranbourne trainer Hugh Cathels’ 6-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Star Chaser gelding Astronaut was a tough winner of the De Bortoli Pace for C5 & C6 class over 2150 metres in 2-00.1. Driven on this occasion by Lisa Miles, Astronaut was trapped four wide from outside the front row, before being restrained to the rear of the field, with Franco Jackson retaining the lead from the pole. When Vinni Gambino ahead of him made a mid-race forward move, Astronaut immediately latched to his back, before parking outside the pacemaker for the final half of the journey. Under a tight rein approaching the final bend, Astronaut gained the upper hand on turning and raced clear to register a most impressive 5.6 metre victory over Franco Jackson, with Vinni Gambino third after switching down to the sprint lane on turning. Raced by Hugh and Lorraine Cathels, Astronaut a half brother to multiple winners Our Maid Marianne and Safari, has fronted the starter on 77 occasions, winning 14 times. by Len Baker  

Forbes harness racing trainer Phillip Thurston is preparing for an exciting weekend after his talented two year old filly Freedom Is qualified for Sunday's Breeders Crown Final. Thurston is enjoying his post work life after retiring nine months ago and is relishing the opportunity to travel with the daughter of Courage Under Fire. "In the past I have had to transfer my horses to professional trainers because I had a full time job as a school principal but when I retired at the start of the year it allowed me to stay involved a lot more and I've had a good time while travelling with Freedom Is," Thurston said. "I took her to Queensland and she qualified for the Nursery Final, finishing second in the final and although she might still be a maiden after having twelve starts she has earned a cheque every start." Freedom Is has drawn barrier one on Sunday afternoon and Thurston couldn't have been happier. "She has tremendous gate speed and the sprint lane at Melton is a bonus for her as well, as a racehorse she is faultless, she is relaxed when she arrives at the track, she has an old head on young shoulders and in my opinion is the full package." "When we got back from Queensland I actually put her in the paddock for five days thinking that she had done enough this season but she was bucking her brand off so I put her straight back into work for the Breeders Crown." The filly's dam is Alegria which makes Freedom Is a full sister to the well performed Glenferrie Alexis. "I flew to the New Zealand sales with a long term plan of building up a small but strong band of broodmares, I bought two well bred fillies, Freedom Is was one of them, the other one was by Elsu and is half sister to Terrorway but she hasn't made it as a two year old because of her size but I really like her as well." "I'm staying in Victoria with David and Lisa Miles and they have made us feel very welcome."   Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales  

Following her commanding win the NSW Trotters Oaks top class square gaiter Habibti is all the rage heading into Saturday night's NSW Derby but harness racing trainer Lisa Miles is quietly confident about her chances with Victorian Roy Hobbs.

The Shepparton harness racing meeting on Saturday May 11 was huge for the Bolinda/ Monegeetta area, with Lisa and David Miles almost pulling off the quaddie only to be stopped by neighbour Paul Males.

Harness racing co-trainers Lisa and David Miles enjoyed a super Saturday, with 3-Y-0 Art Major/Lee Almahurst filly Thunder Fee and 4-Y-0 Badlands Hanover/Kellyarmbro mare Ourbellabro the 4th Heat of the E K Bray Country Cup at Bendigo for Lisa, while David snared both Semi-Finals of the rich Australian Pacing Gold Two Year Old Fillies at Albion Park Brisbane with Mindarie Priddy (Artistic Fella/Kellyarmbro) and Manellira (Art Major/Amarillen).

Most Victorians wouldn't have considered Dean and Nicole Molander a major threat a month ago when it comes to the Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star.

Saturday night's feature harness racing meeting might be all about the Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star but there will be a showdown between two of the most promising trotters in Australia that may steal the focus.

Two harness racing meeting were held in Victoria on Thursday February 14 - Cranbourne racing in the afternoon and Bendigo at night.

The Monegeetta based Lisa and David Miles stable enjoyed a profitable evening at the Kilmore harness racing fixture on Wednesday November 21, chalking up an impressive double with Thunder Fee and Jasmine Sheffield winning their respective races.

Monday (August 6) harness racing was held at Yarra Valley - one of Victoria's premier wine growing districts, which featured a compact eight event card.

Harness racing was conducted at Charlton in Central Victoria on Monday June 18, with most winners well supported, however the result of the Bayswater Jayco 2-Y-0 Pace over 2100 metres left punters scratching their heads in disbelief, when $81.60 chance Gee Mae greeted the judge.

Four year old Bettors Delight/Makin Faces gelding Feelin Bettor made a long awaited return to the racetrack a successful one after taking the Neatline Homes Pace for C0 class over 2190 metres at the Shepparton harness racing meeting on Saturday May 26.

Monegeetta husband and wife harness racg (training) team Lisa and David Miles and Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart have half the runners in tonight's (Friday April 20) Group 1 Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks final at Melton's Tabcorp Park.

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