Port Pirie 2015 Elders Invitation Drivers Series Saturday night 20th June is one of the feature harness racing meetings in South Australia where five of the best drivers from Victoria challenge six drivers from South Australia. The series is run over four races on the night with the driver with the most points winning the title. This series has been going now for forty years and has brought together a good line up of drivers as you can see by their profiles. Ex Port Pirie driver Kate Gath is making a return, while local driver Brad Sims will be aiming to again win the series as he did in 2006 Victorians Lance Justice: Driven 2865 winners, started his career here in SA and was great supporter of Northern harness racing when he was here. Has had lots of success over the years here and in Victoria with many good horses with the best being Sokyola and Smokem up. Always loves coming back here, won this series back in the ninety’s, won the trainers and drivers premiership here in 2000 the year the new track was opened, loves talking with the locals. Anthony Butt: Formerly from New Zealand where he drove 1609 winners and now situated in Victoria where he has driven another 694 winners while coming to and fro. This is Anthony’s first time at Port Pirie and he would really like to increase on his winning tally. Will be a good draw card having someone very approachable from NZ come here Michael Bellman: Has driven 952 winners in his career, participated in this series in 2011 where he was runner up to Lisa Miles. Is currently having a great year, being fifth on the Victorian State driver’s premiership having driven ninety winners. Is prepared to travel all over the state, having had over 1000 drives in Victoria this season, and we welcome him back Kate Gath: Has driven 942 winners so far in her career, Born and raised here in Port Pirie where she won the Port Pirie Drivers Premiership in 2004. Currently having a very good season, driving 83 winners so far and sits sixth on the Victorian State Drivers Premiership. Has been a regular competitor in this series over the last ten years where she tied in first place in 2013. Family and friends are sure to cheer on Kate help increase the crowd. Lisa Miles: Has driven 498 winners in her career always puts her hand up to come here for the series where she has had good success winning in 2011where she came at a days notice and 2013. Does really well training her small team of horses but is a great who competitor and would really love win her third series going back to back. SA Drivers Ryan Hryhorec: Has currently driven 1380 winners, is a regular here at Port Pirie having won the Drivers Premiership in 2008, 2011, 2014 and currently well in front this season in the drivers premiership. Tied in first in this series in 2012 and 2013 and has driven 130 winners in SA and Victoria this coming season. Tough competitor and is sure to account himself well Mark Billinger: One of the state’s top drivers has had 1014 career driving wins has had 62 wins this season and is currently fourth on the states leading driving premiership table. Always gives his horses a great run and has a good strike rate in the sulky. Wayne Hill: He is another regular driver here at Port Pirie has had 768 career wins, is currently fifth on the state driving premiership having driven 52 winners for the season. Wayne has come through the junior ranks and is a good competitor who has been in the series before and will account himself well. Leah Harvey: Has had 666 career wins, now getting towards the veteran stage having won this series in 2002 and 2010. Was the leading driver here at Port Pirie in 2001 and 2012 so she well and truly knows her way around the track here. She has represented the region well over the years on and off the track and it would not surprise if Leah won her third series. Scott Ewen: Has driven has 660 winners throughout his career and has been a regular here at nearly every meeting over the past five years, winning the Port Pirie driving premiership in 2013. Is currently having a good season having driven 45 winners, has competed in the series for the last three years without much luck but this could be his year. Brad Sims: Has driven 86 winners in his career, was the leading young driver in 2005 here at Port Pirie and had good success in winning this Drivers Series in 2006. Has also driven many placing throughout his career, has taken a trainers licence out this season and has had success with that. With limited opportunity he has always given his drives every chance. Good luck to all the drivers competing and also to David Harding who would have been here if it was not for nasty fall that he had at Globe Derby on 8th June. by Neville Thomson, Port Pirie Harness Racing Club Related Links Fields for Port Pirie, Saturday 20 June 2015 Form guide for Port Pirie, Saturday 20 June 2015
Perfect weather conditions complimented a good day of harness racing at Warragul on Monday. Seven events produced keen racing - importantly winners came from both the front and rear of the field across the day, defying the usual trend of on-pace runners being suited on the smaller Warragul circuit. Again, fast times were recorded during the day, highlighting the quality of Warragul's renovated circuit. One trainer particularly happy to win on Monday was Warragul boy Michael Hughes, who prepared Illawong Libby to win the Warragul Downtowner Pace. Hughes has only had the four-year-old mare in his Cranbourne stable for two starts. He explained after the race that he had set Illawong Libby for the Warragul event some four weeks ago. He felt Illawong Libby would be suited by the Warragul track, and that proved the case. She led from barrier one, holding off a late challenge by Readyforreign to score narrowly in a deceptive finish. The five owners of Illawong Libby were delighted with their victory, the mare's third from 24 starts. Former Gippsland trainer Graeme Lang also claimed a victory on Monday's card with Maybellina in the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap. Lisa Miles donned Lang's famous dark blue silks and drove a well judged race behind Maybellina, which grabbed Slancio close to home to win. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double on the day, courtesy of Lagoon Beach and Qtown Rip Roaring - both horses coming home strongly from off the pace in their victories. Leading combination of trainer Jayne Davies and driver Chris Alford have won more races than most at Warragul over the years, and claimed another victory on the day, this time with Baccarat in the Healers Shack Pace. Hoofnit provided the upset of the day in winning the Don Collins Pace - the longest priced winner of the afternoon at around 10/1. After three racedays in the last six weeks, Warragul now has a break before the traditional Traralgon Pacing Cup program on Monday, June 29.
Lennytheshark looks to have a stranglehold on the harness racing Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires and geldings’ series after a commanding semi-final win. The David Aiken-trained rising superstar produced a stunning performance on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton to obliterate his rivals in his semi, beating the second horse over the line, Valley Of Diamonds, by 13.7m. Reinsman Chris Alford took the son of Four Starzzz Shark to the lead midrace after initially easing to midfield early from his gate-six draw. Once in front, Lennytheshark was eyeballed by Smart Major until the home turn when Alford and the favourite broke the Forbes-trained pacer’s resistance. In the straight, Lennytheshark let down like a champion, putting daylight on a handy batch of four-year-olds for a memorable win in a mile rate of 1:58.5. While he has shown a tendency to lay out in the home straight in recent starts, Lennytheshark hasn’t had many horses to keep him company in the latter part of his races as they simply can’t keep up. The other 4YO boys’ semi-final was taken out by Lennytheshark’s arch enemy Guaranteed – considered by most punters to be the only horse capable of landing the knockout blow to the favourite in next Saturday night’s grand final. The Emma Stewart-trained son of Artsplace overhauled Ginger Bliss in the home straight for a 9.9m win in a mile rate of 1:58.2. Gavin Lang produced another typically masterful drive aboard the winner, extricating it from a four-back-the-pegs position early after the horse was shuffled back with no speed from its pole draw. From there, Lang got cover out three-wide before making a sharp run towards pacy Ginger Bliss on turning for home. Guaranteed packed too big a punch in the stretch, Ginger Bliss battling on strongly for second, with Three Pints snaring third. The eye-catcher from the race was Boyz Torque, which made up enormous ground along the inside in the last 100m to finish fourth. Diamond Castle – raced by Harness Racing Victoria ownership program Raceapacer – scored a 1.8m win over Missed By Red in a rate of 2:02.2 in the second semi-final for 2YO fillies. Trained and driven by David Miles, Diamond Castle was having just her second start after a debut second at Ballarat first-up. The daughter of Art Major settled well back in the field with $1.20 favourite Lovelist finding the lead comfortably. But at the business end the roles were reversed, with Diamond Castle finishing too well to get the win. Lovelist ran third. Talented Kari Males-trained Niki No No captured the other 2YO fillies’ semi-final, Greg Sugars steering the daughter of Sportswriter to victory. Niki No No did plenty of work early and recorded a winning mile rate of 1:59.8, with Yankee Showgirl second and Our Star Dust third. Courageousnquick scored an impressive start-to-finish win in the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, holding off Mcrita, Union Belle and the fast-finishing Pressplay in the home straight. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Kyle Marshall, Courageousnquick held out Earth Angel to find the lead at the start before seeing off all challengers in the home straight at the finish for a neck win in a rate of 2:00.4. The other 4YO mares’ semi went to Im Smouldering for Doreen trainer John Yeomans, who teamed with Gavin Lang. Im Smouldering’s winning margin was 2m and his mile rate 1:56.7. The 2YO colts and geldings’ semi-finals were taken out by Virgil Hilts at big odds for trainer-driver Lisa Miles and Major Invictus for trainer/driver Michael Stanley. Hectorjayjay (for the in-form Bill and Simone Walker team) and Messini (Brent Lilley and Chris Alford) took out the 3YO colts’ and geldings’ semis, while Berisari (Emma Stewart and Nathan Jack) and Tasmanian star Barynya (Dick Eaves and Rohan Hillier) won the 3YO fillies’ races. Friday night's races were held in windy conditions. Videos of all races are attached above. The Super Series grand final nights will be held this Friday (for the trotters) and Saturday (pacers). Twelve Group 1 races will be contested across the two-day carnival of meetings. by Cody Winnell
Superb trotting filly Claudys Princess edged out Illawong Helios in the first heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for 3YO trotting fillies today at Maryborough. The Mick Blackmore-trained star, who last start won the Group 1 Glenferrie Farm Trotters Oaks, went 2:02.4 with a last half of 61.5 to defeat the Ross Sugars-trained runner-up by a half-neck. Gavin Lang didn’t bustle Claudys Princess early and allowed her to balance up three back on the pegs, following Illawong Helios, which had the back of race leader Illawong Moonshine. Turning for home Illawong Moonshine had run her race and was quickly gathered up by Illawong Helios, but once the sprint lane opened up Claudys Princess darted through with a successful late winning bid. Sister Of Sonoko ran third for Ross Graham, while Kapitan Claire from the Sugars yard with Kylie Sugars in the sulky ran fourth. Claudys Princess has now won 11 races from 14 starts. Later on the card top three-year-old trotter Asdenro won the boys’ Vicbred heat by 3.9m over Guiltless. Haydon Gray took the David Van Ryn-trained son of Armbro Variable to the front early from gate five, holding off all challengers late to score over David Abrahams-trained Guiltless, with Alan Tubbs-trained Drunken Maniac finishing on for third. Savannah Jay Jay put some value into first fours with Neil McCallum guiding the Stan Cameron-trained gelding into fourth place despite a scratchy beginning. Favourite Holdonsu made it seven wins from 16 starts with victory in the Vicbred 3YO males’ pacers heat at Maryborough, the Jayne Davies-trained, Rodney Petroff-driven son of Elsu scoring a head win over Jedi Mind from the David Aiken stable, with Time Capsule coming in third. My Bella Starr captured the 3YO pacing fillies’ Vicbred heat for trainer Adam Kelly and Gavin Lang in Race 8. The daughter of Art Major/Badlands Legend went 1:59.8 and prevailed by 1.6m over runner-up Distant Memory, who had made the trip south from New South Wales for trainer-driver Kerry-Ann Turner, with Phil Chircop-trained The System Black getting third-place prize money for driver Petroff. Lang capped off a winning treble in the last race on the program, the Vicbred seventh heat of the 3YO colts and geldings, aboard Presidentialsecret for Emma Stewart. The Presidential Ball gelding prevailed by 4.4m over Young Modern for Michael Stanley, while Lisa Miles guided Su You Too into third place. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)
After failing to secure a winner owning thoroughbreds and greyhounds, Spreyton owner Warren Viney turned his attention to harness racing and to his delight he struck gold. Viney is paying up for three pacers of which two, Lake Eyre and Soho Wonder, are based in Victoria with Melton-based mentor Beau Tindale but went around in Launceston last night. Lake Eyre scored an emphatic win in a 3YO and older pace over 2200 metres. With top Victorian driver Lisa Miles in the cart, Lake Eyre faced the breeze for much of the race before powering clear in the home straight and went on to defeat Robyn Scherbotsky by almost 16 metres with Lady Elaine four metres away third. It was Viney's second winner in the space of a week as his Tasmanian-based 3YO Wasonic Snake successful in Launceston last week. The other horse in Tindale's care, Soho Wonder, raced in Launceston last night and finished a game second to quality Tasmania three-year-old Rusty Red Comet. Given the ease with which Lake Eyre dispensed with his rivals he would be more than competitive in next Sunday night's Tasmanian Derby but it will be touch and go as to whether he gains a start in what promises to be one of the best Tasmanian Derbies in ages. Peter Staples
Harness racing's Echuca Cup night is quickly closing in and a race which holds much prestigious on March 21 is the Tiffany Murray Memorial. The race run in honour of one of the trots true heroes, remembers the tragic loss of Tiffany at the all too young age of 22. As such, the C1 event will involve an all-star list of female drivers including Rebecca Bartley, Juanita Breen, Monique Burnett, Rita Burnett, Donna Castles, Kate Gath, Joanne Justice, Lisa Justice, Lisa Miles and Ellen Tormey. Connections are reminded that horses entered in the race will be randomly allocated a lady driver when acceptances are announced. Harness Racing Victoria
Betezy Park Globe Derby became a sea of PINK on Saturday night when the harness racing Lady Drivers Challenge came to town. Their were four heats on the program with the locals taking first blood when Gina Bell steered Veddy Veddy Good home in the first heat with another South Australian Danielle Hill the runner up with Lighting Shark, but from then on it became the Lisa Miles show. The talented Victorian won the next two heats with Mount Gambier pacer Flaming Hero and Apocalypse Dream. They were two of the best drives one would ever see. Flaming Hero unleashed a powerful finishing burst while Apocalypse Dream Miles sat up one out and one back coming with a well a timed run to claim Star Brutus by three meters. Taking an unassailable lead into the final heat Miles managed to claim third spot with Weaponry behind the Ellen Tormey driven Maywyns Zephyr. With two of the first three finalist in the inaugural Leigh Plunkett Scholarship competing in the event BOTRA and HRSA made presentations to Ellen Tormey the winner from Victoria, runner up local junior driver Aaron Bain, who has also been selected to represent South Australia in the upcoming Australasian Junior Drivers Championship in NSW over the Inter-dominion carnival, and Narissa McMullen who was third place getter in the scholarship. Despite the extreme heat a good crowd witnessed some brilliant racing and some very talented lady drivers who got to travel back to their motel in style in a Pink Hummer. Gary Newton
The 2014 Reinswomens Challenge will be the feature at Betezy Park Globe Derby next Saturday with some of Australia's best talent named to represent their state. Amy Day, who will represent NSW, drove 48 last season, while exciting young 19-year-old Queenslander Narissa McMullen, who drove 96 winners, and Lola Weidemann (81 Wins in 2012/13) will don the Queensalnd colours. Victoria is represented by Jodi Quinlan 86 wins, Ellen Tormey 75 winners, Rebbecca Bartley 47 wins, and Lisa Miles 46 wins. The local talent includes top driver Danielle Hill, 94 wins last season, Leah Harvey 22 wins, and Gina Bell 15 wins, while Kerry Green is the reserve. There is three races planned for the Invitation Reinswomens Challenge with the winner decided by points. Also scheduled on the program is the running of the Nevele R Stud South Australian Oaks and the SA Heroine Stakes for mares. Entry is by gold coin donation to Cancer Council of SA Pink Ribbon Appeal. By Gary Newton
The Bendigo trotting fixture held on Thursday November 28 belonged to the Goulburn Valley and Bendigo area who provided five of the eight winners on program, with Bunbartha horseman John Newberry taking the honours after providing a stable double. First to come along was talented Earl/Shine On Alisha six year old gelding Just Call Me Earl in the CV Batteries Strath Village Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2150 metres. Starting from a 20 metre equal backmark, Just Call Me Earl bided his time mid-field with Man Of The World (barrier four) working to the front after travelling a couple of hundred metres. Easing three wide in the final circuit, Newberry in what was “the drive of the night” switched Just Call Me Earl down to the sprint lane, before finishing strongly to defeat Man Of The World and Jusamirel which raced rough on more than one occasion. The mile rate 2-05.1. Raced by the Newberry family, Just Call Me Earl has fronted the starter on 63 occasions for nine wins. Leg two came about when lightly raced four year old Monarchy/Shine On Alisha gelding The Majestic scored in the Freedom Tanks Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 1650 metres in a mile rate 2-02.2. A surprisingly short priced even money favourite, The Majestic (gate two) settled three back in the moving line and driven with the patience of Jobe, was taken four wide on the final bend before putting the race away with ease, defeating Brother Of Sonoko and Ballan Road which led. Echuca/Moama trainer Shane Gilligan four year old Northern Luck/Soap Box mare Mary Mon returned to form when successful in the Bendigo Cup Eve Cocktail Party 10 January Pace for C2 class over 1650 metres. Taking a concession, Mary Mon driven by son Tom was restrained to the rear of the field from gate six prior to gaining a three wide trail in the last lap on the back of both Johnny Tee and Flyin Indi Air. Despite making the home turn very wide, Mary Mon a half sister to the smart juvenile Lady Belladonna finished all over the top of her rivals to score from Flying Indi Air and Johnny Tee in a rate of 1-57. Charlton’s Mark Boyle has Blissful Hall/Lensmare six year old gelding Xbolt racing at the top of his game, landing the Christmas @ Lord’s Raceway 12 December Pace for C0 class over 1650 metres. With Neil McCallumin the sulky, Xbolt began swiftly from gate five to lead throughout in a rate of 1-58.6, defeating The Muse which raced outside him, with the hot favourite Heathbern Star running on late when extricated clear of a pocket three back the markers to finish third. Shelbourne trainer Larry Eastman’s above average Northern Luck/Decethree Lombo five year old mare Lombo Cloud Nine treated her rivals with contempt in the N.Y.E Party @ Lord’s Raceway 31 December Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2150 metres with Chris Alford in the sulky. Sent forward from outside the front row to settle three back in the moving line, Alford was off and running in the back straight on the first occasion to be surprisingly handed the lead on a platter from the last start Ballarat winner Tere T. Travelling under double wraps for the rest of the journey, Lombo Cloud Nine coasted to the wire 6 metres in advance of Tere T and Nimble Jack (three back the markers) in a rate of 2-00.2 to record her 10th victory in 42 starts. Astute Avenel trainer/driver Ian Mongomery provided a smart first starter by the name of Captain Under Fire to blitz his rivals in the Bendigo Bank 3-Y-0 Pace over 2150 metres, leading throughout from the pole in accounting for Notjustanothalombo (three back the markers) by 22.7 metres in a rate of 2-00.9. Braeview Bomber finished third after racing in the open. Bolinda trainer/driver Lisa Miles also provided a winner on debut when four year old Four Starzzz Shark/Sassy Stoneridge mare Denim Npearls greeted the judge in the Victorian Equine Group Pace for C0 class over 1650 metres. Taken back from gate two as the start was effected, Denim Npearls possied three back in the moving line, before unleashing a powerful burst out wide on straightening to impressively gain the day over Majestic Swan which led and Imsosweetaboucha which followed the winner home in the final circuit. The mile rate 1-58.7. By Len Baker
Melton trainer/driver Lance Justice’s 7-Y-0 Christian Cullen/Flying Flo gelding Alchemy showed vast improvement to land the Graeme Lang Free For All for C7 or better class over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Thursday November 21. One of four runners from the Justice stable – the others being Dominus Vobiscum, The Smiler and Because I Can, Alchemy which had been racing in much weaker grade over the past few weeks was sent forward to cross the pole marker Giveusagrim shortly after the start. With a number of more fancied runners making forward moves including Jaccka Clive, Youranut, Mustang Mach and Broadways Best prior to the bell with Youranut first up since July occupying the breeze for the final circuit, leaving Mustang Mach on a limb three wide with Broadways Best on his back and Jaccka Clive one/one after surprisingly handing over the death-seat. Tackled strongly by Youranut on straightening, Alchemy ($16.80) fought back like a caged tiger to gain the day by a head after being momentarily headed in a rate of 1-57 (last half 56.2 – quarter 27.2), with Broadways Best third after peeling wide halfway up the running. Brother John Justice was also a winner on the program, snaring the Reg Cooper Claiming Pace over 2240 metres with $56.80 chance Whodareswins, a 7-Y-0 daughter of Presidential Ball and Mumtaz Mahal who registered her first success since July 2012 when successful at Spreyton (Tasmania). Given a sweet passage from the pole trailing the pacemaker Astral Flight after leading out, Whodareswins in a punishing finish prevailed by half head in 1-58.8 after using the sprint lane to defeat Astral Flight trained by sister Joanne Justice with Brian Gath in the sulky, with Run Forrest close up in third place after racing in the open from the bell. Bendigo’s Matt Gath was in the winners stall when promising Yankee Spider/Kingsford Ado 4-Y-0 mare Ifu Seek Flight greeted the judge in the Gus Underwood Trotters Mobile for T1 & T2 class over 1720 metres in a rate of 2-03.2. Enjoying an easy trip from the pole following the pacemaker Marios Dream, Gath angled Ifu Seek Flight away from the inside on straightening and she finished best to score by 2 metres in advance of Mallee Trapper which raced wide from the bell. Drop Us A Line ran her usual honest race to finish third after trailing the winner and using the sprint lane. Raced by Michael Taranto of Seelite Windows & Doors fame, Ifu Seek Flight has raced 12 times for 4 wins. Rochester trainer Mark Thompson has an impeccable record when taking a horse to the races and landed the Rob Merola 3-Y-0 Pace over 2240 metres with Total Truth/Karamea Toastime filly Lies. With stable reinsperson Ellen Tormey in the sulky, Lies raced by Mark and wife Sue having her first outing since July, led throughout from the pole, defeating Geoff Webster’s Tuscan Breeze which shadowed her and Phoebe Jack (three back the markers) in a rate of 2-01.5. Parwan part-owner/trainer Jaime Madruga combined with Gavin Lang to snare the Gunbower Cup Sunday Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2240 metres with 5-Y-0 D M Dilinger/Jaja gelding Amazing Kano who can put a run in every so often. Despite racing in the open from gate five outside Discrimination, Amazing Kano surged clear on turning to win by 6.4 metres in 2-00 even over Nimble Jack off a three wide trail last lap on the back of the third placegetter Jasmine Sheffield. Gisborne’s Brendan Said provided a shock winner in 6-Y-0 Jaguar Cam/Meadow Glory mare Dainty Cloud who took out the Lisa Miles Pace for C2 class over 1720 metres in a rate of 1-57.4. Taking advantage of a mares concession, Dainty Cloud was given every opportunity one/one from gate two, with Lance Justice’s Medonc crossing This Is Your Life shortly after the start leaving Our Miss Vivienne in the breeze. Taken into the clear halfway up the running, Dainty Cloud ($42.80) finished too well for a game Our Miss Vivienne, scoring by 1.1 metres, with Medonc third. Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan combined to land the Harness Breeders (Vic) Pace for C1 class over 1720 metres with ultra consistent 4-Y-0 Bettors Delight/Big Time Babe mare Bit Of A Babe, leading all of the way from gate four in accounting for Union Belle (one/two) and Lady Suffragette which raced in the open from the bell. The mile rate 1-57.5. By Len Baker
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.