Day At The Track
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Victoria’s training ranks will be bolstered by a welcome addition to the Cranbourne Training Centre, with experienced South Australian trainer Scott Ewen kicking off a new chapter from September. A chance meeting with vigilant Cranbourne club officials at the Mildura Cup Carnival in April this year planted the seed and it took only a few more conversations to seal the deal. “It was actually on the river cruise on the Friday night,” Ewen said. “We had a bit of a chat and went from there.” He is no stranger to Victoria, having only 10 years ago returned with his family to South Australia after a stint as stable foreman for trainer Lance Justice. “I just started having too many horses myself and the kids were getting homesick (for South Australia), so we went back,” Ewen said. “But one of my daughters is 19 and pretty advanced in her dancing career, so she probably needed to move to Melbourne or Sydney.” The advantages of the Cranbourne Training Centre made the decision an easy one. “The club made me an offer that was too good to refuse,” Ewen said. “There’s a treadmill, a bungee pool, fantastic walking machine, everything’s state of the art." He said the main track was available seven days a week for fast work, "which is great", and there are two other tracks to work on. "If you couldn’t train winners there there’s something wrong.” Only two horses will make the trip with the Scott and wife, Kylie, including stable star Bulletproof Boy. “He’s won 20 races; he’s our champion,” Ewen said. “He might have had to come here for the faster class races anyway.” The Cranbourne club will provide additional support, potentially giving the stable some of its Club 21 horses to train. “I think they have some babies I might be able to train,” Ewen said. “I’ve got a few other mates who are keen to race down here – we’re only likely to train about a dozen, then we can be more hands-on, so it won’t take long for the stable to fill up. “When you’re out there performing and the horses are doing well that’s all the advertising you need. We’re looking forward to the adventure.” Club president Bill Hutchison said it was “with great pleasure" they welcome Ewen to the Cranbourne Harness Training Centre. "Scott and his family are steeped in harness racing tradition and he has already made a significant impact in the training ranks in South Australia," Mr Hutchison said. "Our club wish them success with their new venture.”   Lucy McCormick HRV Trots Media

Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup night draws ever closer and with it brings a plethora of trots action to suit every enthusiast. Three trot races are on the card, and, as is customary, trotting royalty in the form of the Chris Lang stables is well represented. The Group 1 Chiko Australasian Trotting Championship has developed into a fascinating race in the past couple of weeks with boom Dean Braun colt Blitzthemcalder having his colours lowered by a short-half-head in the first heat of the race at Ballarat by the Chris Lang trained I See Icy Earl. “That was arguably the best run of his career so far; we were really happy with him.” Lang said. “The distance (of Saturday night’s race – 2760m) really suits him.  He couldn’t be drawn better; he’s not that quick off the gates.” Regular driver Greg Sugars will again take the reins. When queried about why Lang no longer drives the horse, he produces a surprisingly generous response. “Greg drove him when I was sick and knocked back a lot of other drives for him so I think it’s only fair that he keeps the drive now,” he said. Despite I See Icy Earl’s current excellent form, Chris sees the David Aiken trained My High Expectations as the horse to beat. He’s in a better position to know than most; My High Expectations faced the Lang trained Kyvalley Blur in the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile (Group 2) at Bendigo recently with the two American bred trotters fighting out a thrilling finish in which the former prevailed by a neck. The lightly raced Kyvalley Blur will sidestep the Trotting Championship in favour of the Glenferrie Farm Trotters Cup (Group 3) over 2240m from a mobile start. “I just didn’t want to start him two weeks in a row over that distance,” the Nagambie-based trainer explains. “He’s only young really, and he’s bred to Northern Hemisphere time so he’s younger still. We’re saving him for the Great Southern Star (at Melton on March 22nd).” Lang goes on to say that Kyvalley Blur will first travel to Tabcorp Park Menangle to compete in the Chambers Challenge trotting event to be held on Inter Dominion Day on March 2. Taking her place in the same event is three time Group One winning mare Shes An Image, who is first up from August 2013 and will “need the run” according to her trainer, but perhaps her class and the good draw will see her run into a place. Shes An Image will instead be set for the Breed For Speed Gold Series Final over 1720m on Great Southern Star day. Rounding out the quartet of Lang runners for the day will be the lightly raced Pegasus Spur mare Maori Time. “She’s a big filly so we’ve taken our time with her but she’s above average.  I think she’s a winning chance even though this is a step up in class for her.” And when a superstar trotting trainer like Chris Lang is talking about trotting horses in trotting races, it pays to sit up and take notice. by Lucy McCormick (Harness Racing AU)

Racing returns to Ouyen for the 2014 Greggs Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup this Sunday and, with great weather, racing, entertainment and prizes to be won looks set to be a fantastic day out. The eight-race twilight card kicks off at 5:07pm and includes the eleventh heat of the Landmark Ouyen Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship, as well as the Mildura Rural City Council Vicbred Platinum Country Series J Final. Mildura trainer Boris Devcic has two runners engaged in the main race, with in form pacer Timeless Era one of the main chances after putting together a string of victories, before contesting the S.A. Cup at Betezy Park Globe Derby and being beaten less than five metres by such racing luminaries as Smoken Up and Caribbean Blaster.  The powerful Emma Stewart stable makes the trip from Smythes Creek with talented entire Johnny Quid, and Mildura trainer Shayne Cramp will team up with driver Nathan Jack hoping to add to Copthewrath’s recent string of victories. Off the track, the Ouyen Harness Racing Club has planned a huge range of fun and games for patrons of all ages. Once again, Choice Hotels have sponsored a $1000 cash giveaway draw to be won by one lucky patron. Just fill in the entry form attainable at entry to be eligible. The Club will conduct members’ draws throughout the day with loads of prizes to be won, and, in a special Ouyen initiative, a draw to win ‘Ouyen Traders Dollars’ – money that can be traded at any business in the Ouyen Township. There will also be a Fashions on the Field competition, and popular Melbourne band Kartoon will perform after the last race. Children will also be well catered for with a free jumping castle, merry go round and climbing wall to explore. There is no BYO, but the track will have plenty of refreshments available on course so bring the family to enjoy a night of great entertainment with the locals at Ouyen Pacing Cup. by Lucy McCormick Harness Racing Victoria

Talented Dean Braun trained gelding I’m Corzin Terror NZ showed that the only thing he has been lacking in recent runs was his share of luck; he got just that in the Petstock Bendigo Pacing Cup on Saturday night and used it to full advantage. Having been narrowly beaten in both the Yarra Valley and Tasmania Cups before more recently running an unlucky fourth in the Horsham Cup, the emphatic fifteen-metre victory in the $50,000 Group Two event was well deserved. Stable mate Mustang Mach NZ, brilliant out of the gates, led early but shortly after the start Im Corzin Terror challenged for the lead and Mustang Mach NZ, with Ellen Tormey in the sulky, was happy to take the trail behind the leader.  Kiwi star Mah Sish NZ worked up to sit outside the leader.  With the tempo of the race being beautifully dictated in front by Chris Alford, with a lap to travel favourite Bitobliss made a move to speed the race to his advantage.  But this was Im Corzin Terror’s night; on the home turn he was given free rein and he sprinted impressively to win easily in a mile rate of 1:57.7, two seconds outside champion Safari’s record of 1:55.7.  Warhorse Wartime Sweetheart NZ extricated himself too late from three back on the pegs to chase him home and run second for David Aiken, with Uncle Wingnut NZ flashing home for third. $2.50 favourite Bitobliss faded to run tenth. Earlier in the night, the two American bred favourites fought out the finish of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, with the David Aiken trained My High Expectations USA scoring a well deserved win over Kyvalley Blur USA in a quick mile rate. The Monte race was won by the dynamic combination of Motu Young Jacob NZ and rider Daryl Douglas, who went to the front shortly after the start and was never headed from there.  Kyvalley Rap ran second for French rider Yoann Lagarde, and jumps jockey Paul Hamblin had mixed fortunes with an indifferent start but ran on well for fourth. by Lucy McCormick

The second leg of the harness racing quaddie at Melton on Friday night is the Lenin Trotters Free For All (Group 3).  In a cracking field, the Tim Butt trained trotter Vulcan headlines the race.  The 2013 Australian Trotting Grand Prix and Great Southern Star winner has had three runs in Australia this season after running fourth in the Dominion Trot at Addington in New Zealand to Mister Lavros on the 15th of November. He’ll have plenty of opposition, starting with the Andy Gath trained Elegant Image.  To be driven by Kate Gath, the six-year-old son of S J’s Photo has been in sparkling recent form and the two will have a close up view of each other, starting from gates nine and ten off the second row. Hoping to give the more established trotters a run for their money is the lightly raced Sundon mare Aleppo Midas.  The winner of over $60,000 in prize money is trained at Marong by Michelle Eastman.  “She’s pretty green; she is a Sundon,” says Eastman.  “She has a real mind of her own, a real free spirit.  She won her MO at Melton earlier this year and the plan is to race her every week at Melton if we can so she can learn the job.” Aleppo Midas will have plenty of opportunity to learn from some experienced campaigners on Friday night from barrier one.  “It’ll be good for her; she’ll be surrounded by horses and will have to do what they do.  She can’t just do her own thing.”  Aleppo Midas is “a real personality” at home on the small block the Eastmans share in between Marong and Newbridge.  “She likes to go her own pace at track work and thinks when she’s ready to go, that’s when we go,” chuckles Eastman. “She has heaps of ability but she has to learn not to do what she wants all the time.”  When she learns her trade, the Eastmans have big plans for Aleppo Midas.  ' “We’d love one day to race her in the Great Southern Star.” by Lucy McCormick

Metropolitan harness racing is at Melton on Friday night this week and The Sew-Eurodrive Free For All is the final leg of the Quaddie. Yarra Valley Cup winner Mustang Mach is a scratching but the field boasts some serious horseflesh nevertheless. Congupna hero Bitobliss will take his place in the field as will Sew-Eurodrive Victoria Cup victor and winner of over $930,000 in prizemoney, Caribbean Blaster. An interesting runner is Keayang Cullen, trained by Marg Lee at Terang.  The Christian Cullen gelding boasts an impressive strike rate of 17 wins from 33 starts and his trainer is ‘very happy’ with how he has performed in his two starts back from a spell.  “He just had a few little problems, a few niggles after the Inter Dominion so I decided to give him a good rest,” Lee says.  “There’s a lot of speed off the front row tonight but Keayang Cullen has good gate speed himself. “He’ll just have to follow something through.  Drawing off the front would have been better but you take the draws you are given.”  Keayang Cullen is likely to contest the Bendigo and Hamilton Cups, and connections will make a decision on which races he contests after that.  The Lee family has a little more to worry about right now than fast horses – about an hour before Keayang Cullen’s recent third at Ballarat Lee received the news that son Jack Lee had sustained burns to his legs in a sprint car fire at Avalon raceway.  Lee made a late night dash to his side but Jack is progressing well, and according to Lee will make a full recovery. Perhaps Keayang Cullen can speed that recovery with another good performance this Friday night. by Lucy McCormick

Horsham Cup day is this Sunday and it looks set to be a sensational afternoon of harness racing action and entertainment.  With a temperature of 23 degrees forecast, an outstanding racing program, along with plenty of on course entertainment provided by the club, there is something for everyone. The Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup (Group 2) will be the highlight of a fantastic program, with Australian pacing superstar and three-time millionaire Smoken Up taking his place in the field.  Coming off an incredible last start victory in the Laser Electrical Lightning Mile (Group 3), in which he earned a $10,000 bonus for breaking the track record in a mile rate of 1:53.1. ‘Trigger’ will be primed and ready for action and trainer/driver Lance Justice certainly won’t die wondering when he lays his cards on the table. His rivals will not be making it easy for the champ however, with the Tim Butt trained 2013 Del Re National Food Group A G Hunter Cup (Group 1) hero Mah Sish taking his place from pole position. Mah Sish showed he was back to his best with a great effort behind Smoken Up at Ballarat on Boxing night. Driver Anthony Butt certainly won’t be handing things to Smoken Up & Lance Justice on a platter – the wily Kiwi’s know they too have a gun racehorse and have their eyes  firmly planted on the hefty winner’s cheque and glittering gold Cup. Apart from last season’s Hunter Cup victory, Mah Sish won a heat of the Inter in Sydney, finished 2nd behind Im Themightyquinn in the Final, downed Sushi Sushi in the Ballarat Pacing Cup and got within a length of Caribbean Blaster in the Victoria Cup – enough said. Our main local hope, Abettorpunt, was bred by the Lewis family - Terry is Vice President and Life Member of the Horsham Club. “Our draw could have been kinder but you take what you get” Terry explained.  “We’re hoping for some fireworks early from Mah Sish, Smoken Up and maybe Keayang Steamer. Punter’s work this week has been as good as its ever been and we’re expecting him to run a big race.” Abettorpunt is ready to take the next step into the big time. A quick look at the form guide shows his outstanding record of 21 wins, 19 minors & $306,000 from just 51 starts. Punter’s recent form of a 2nd to Beautide in the Newcastle Mile, 3rd behind Smoken Up in the Cordina Sprint, 2nd to The Gold Ace at Menangle and a victory at Melton prior to Xmas are credentials enough to win on Sunday. The all-conquering Dean Braun – Chris Alford team could well have the Cup wildcard on Sunday with the former Kiwi pacer Im Corzin Terror. Solid recent performances in the Cranbourne Cup, Yarra Valley Cup and Tasmania Cup entitle the 6yo gelding to our utmost respect. HORSHAM IS HOT TO TROT SUNDAY ! By Lucy McCormick (HRV) & Tony Logan  

New Years Day racing at The Trots is set to rock at the Echuca Harness Racing Club night meeting. The night features an exciting seven race card including the Echuca Workers & Services Club 4YO Pace over 1755m, the Moama Bowling Club New Years Cup, and the Frank Ryan Memorial Pace. Off the track, the club has a huge night of entertainment planned for its lucky patrons. There will be plenty of activities for the children, with pony rides and a jumping castle.  Entry is free for patrons under the age of 18. Roving magician Mister Mike will amaze the crowd throughout the evening, and something special in terms of musical entertainment with 2013 X-Factor contestant Tyler Hudson performing during the meeting. A full bar is available, and the first race is scheduled to start at 6:27pm. If you’re in the Echuca area and looking for some first class racing action in a relaxed country atmosphere, then the Echuca Harness Racing Club waiting to meet your every need. by Lucy McCormick Harness Racing Victoria

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