Day At The Track
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A tireless dedication to preserving harness racing history has landed Bendigo's Noel Ridge industry acclaim. Ridge, the curator of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club's history and memorabilia collection at Lord's Raceway, was bestowed with a Harness Racing Australian Meritorious Service Award. The award was presented at a function on night two of the Summer of the Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Ridge said the award came as 'a total shock'. "I am still shocked, I had no idea this was coming," he said. "Judy Rothacker, from the Harness Racing Victoria board presented it, and it was to do with my researching harness racing industry, particularly in central Victoria and the other bits and pieces I do, like writing. "I was there under the guise of being invited to the official function and low and behold this happened."  Noel Ridge at Lord's Raceway in 2016.   The award is the third industry honour for Ridge in the past five months. In September, he was appointed to the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame (VHRHOF) selection committee. He also picked up the Graham Goffin Memorial Award for best historical feature for an article he penned on the late former horse owner, breeder, trainer and driver John Phyland. For Ridge, his passion and dedication for racing history is a labour of love. "If we haven't got a history, we haven't got an industry," he said. "I'm thrilled (by the award win), particularly from a club point of view. "What the Bendigo Harness Racing Club has established with the collection is a pretty unique point of difference." The meritorious service award was the only one presented on Saturday night. Bendigo Harness Racing Club committee member Paul Campbell said there could be no more worthier winner than Ridge. "I'd hate to think how many hours he puts in behind the scenes trying to capture history, and to store it and display it," he said. "It's a real labour of love for him. "Even the other night when the award was being presented he was still chasing history while were there (at Melton). "He doesn't stop. He's tireless and he is infectious as well. "Because of him, I and a lot of others, have a greater awareness of the history of our sport and the fact we need to store it and display it because once it's gone it's gone for good." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Star harness racing pacer Menin Gate, trained at Shelbourne by Larry Eastman for a group of owners from Birchip in the Mallee, will take on a field of 3yo male pacers in Heat 10 of the IRT Breeders Crown for 3yo colts and geldings at Lord’s Raceway on Thursday night. Menin Gate has been Australasia’s dominant 3yo this season, winning the Sires Classic at Ballarat, the Vicbred Super Series Final, a heat and the final of the Victoria Derby, then in Queensland, the  Gold Coast Derby, and the Queensland Derby.  Menin Gate has amassed $377,548 in winning 10 of his 15 starts. He has drawn barrier 5 of 10 starters in race three, due to start at 7:30 PM. Chris Alford will pilot Menin Gate, who is likely to start a short-priced favourite. Eastman, who hadn’t trained a Group 1 winner prior to this season but now has four of them, said he was “stoked” with Menin Gate’s win at Albion Park 10 days ago in 1:55.1 (54.7). “He’s really come on,” the trainer said, pointing out a patient, carefully planned preparation was paying dividends. Menin Gate’s Birchip owners are rejoicing in the success of the “Birchip Bull”, as he is also known. In fact the whole town is. Local priest Father Eugene even halted a recent service temporarily to inform the congregation: “Menin Gate just won”. The people erupted in applause. “He is the people’s horse, I suppose,” Eastman acknowledged. “He’s got that ring about him now and it’s good for him and it’s good for the sport.” Noel Ridge

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