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The Shepparton Gold Cup was abandoned last night as a power outage was responsible for forcing the call from harness racing stewards. The first six races went ahead during the biggest night of the Shepparton Harness Racing Club's year before issues arose prior to the seventh, and main, event. A strong crowd left without seeing local hope San Carlo race in the Gold Cup but the club's general manager Ian McDonald said there was no other option. "It was very disappointing for the club and the spectators but driver safety was paramount in making the decision," he said. The event has been rescheduled for later in the year. Reprinted with permission ofr The Shepparton News

A monster weekend awaits that could reshape the lucrative Trots Country Cups Championship, with Shepparton and Hamilton harness racing clubs taking their moment in the spotlight. While championship leaders Shadow Sax and Messini pursuit Group 1 acclaim across the border in the $100,000 South Australian Cup, quality runners will attempt to score valuable championship in this weekend’s Victorian cups double-header. The Mathews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup has presented an even field with Keayang Kallisto, Keep On Rocking, Bad Billy, Berisari and It Is Billy in single figures with amid a Sunday race card that also features a keenly contested Porthaul Hamilton Trotters Cup. But before the dust is disturbed at Hamilton some of the summer’s most promising pacers will battle for the $50,000 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, which takes centre stage at 9.20pm on Saturday. Among that number is San Carlo, fresh from his breakthrough Inter Dominion heat win, dual Tasmanian cups winner Major Secret and trainer Sonya Smith’s promising pacer Moonrock. The latter made a bold play for the PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup lead last Saturday, challenging Ideal For Real before driver Anthony Butt had to relent and then struggled for a run in the dying stages. “On paper it looked as though we might get to the front, we had a crack and it wasn’t to be,” Butt told the Trots Talk radio show. “Ideal For Real raced outside his normal pattern and he wanted to hold the front too. That’s racing and we’ll turn the page and get on with it.” Moonrock has drawn gate seven for Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup and Butt said they would use the front line draw to stay ahead of major back row threats. “With the two good ones, San Carlo and Major Secret, drawn the second row, we’ll try and keep ahead of them and go from there,” Butt said. “(San Carlo’s) a great horse, one of the up and comers and raced really well in the Inter Dominion in Perth so he’s obviously the class horse in the race.” It could be a lucrative night for team Smith and Butt, who also team with Hey Yo in Group 3 race The George Gath, the former Kiwi whose been impressive in her first Victorian season. She will start from gate two, inside fellow mare and favourite Red Hot Tooth. “(Hey Yo’s) been fantastic since she come over from New Zealand,” Butt said. “She raced at a pretty good level over there but couldn’t quite compete with the very best ones. “Three starts for two wins and a second, and a big run last week behind Sparkling Success (at Bendigo). (Shepparton’s) probably a little bit easier field, but in saying that Red Hot Tooth’s been in her best form and probably should be hard to beat along with a few of the others.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

With the current form Laura Crossland is in, she is almost guaranteed a winner at Shepparton’s Gold Cup night on Saturday. The Kialla horsewoman is in career best form as a harness racing trainer and driver. Having the season of a lifetime, she is ranked one of the top 10 trainers in the state. Crossland grew her standing at the Leeton Cup meeting to start the year where she was involved in three victories. The dedicated horsewoman trained and drove Scotty Titian to first place in the cup, reined Lets Katchmeifucan to victory in the Lady Drivers Invitation for trainer David Eurell and brought up her trifecta when her partner David Moran drove Lochinvar Hugo, a horse she trains, to victory on the card. Crossland is amazed that she is regarded as being one of the best trainers in the state, but said everything was going right for her. ‘‘It’s been awesome actually, I couldn’t have imagined it to go this good so early on,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ve always been consistent, but it’s like this season we can do no wrong. ‘‘It’s a bit surreal, it’s hard to imagine all the blood, sweat and tears over the years have all paid off.’’ Crossland and Moran have shown what can be achieved from a small stable. The duo looks after 14 horses, less than half the size of most of the major stables. But Crossland said that those challenges just made the success even more enjoyable. ‘‘With a big stable they’ve got a lot of support behind them, if a horse wins enough races and they’re not winning any more they can get rid of it and the owner will buy new ones, but we’ve sort of got to keep going,’’ she said. ‘‘With us we get a lot of rejects that we’ve got to run around and that’s more satisfying.’’ Having spent a lot of time focusing on training, Crossland thrives when she moves into the driver’s seat. ‘‘I’ve always driven, but I used to take a back seat to David and then Linton Power from out Tally way (contacted me) and I started driving his and I love driving the trotters, so I drive all the trotters here,’’ she said. As Crossland first found an interest in harness racing because of her parents, it looks like a third generation is about to emerge. Her eldest son Cody is learning the trade at Avenel under master trainer David Aitken. ‘‘Aitks is fantastic with him, you couldn’t get a better person, he comes back and tells us what to do,’’ Crossland said. Twins Ella and Lane also spend their school holidays running around the Crossland-Moran racing stables. But the family’s attention this week will be on a host of runners. Moran will again be behind Lochinvar Hugo in race nine at Shepparton, while Crossland herself drives Starlight Storm and Mangochililime. By Lauren Bordin Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News  

Five-year-old harness racing gelding Benji Mara ran one of the quickest 1690m trips on the track in recent times in winning a C1 Only class race last week at Shepparton. By the Cambest stallion Lis Mara, Benji Mara didn’t get any favours — forced to race outside the pacemaker To The Rescue during the run — but still powered away from his rivals in the home stretch in a 1:54.7 mile rate. The track record for the distance was set by Highview Ruler at 1:53.9 in December last year. Benji Mara, a former New Zealander, trained by Amanda Turnbull and driven by Lisa Bartley, was having his fourth start this campaign in which he had placed at his previous three starts. His win provided Bartley with the first leg of a driving double. She also won on the Isabel Walsh-trained Pow Wow Bromac in a C2 Only class race. Pow Wow Bromac, who led all the way, is becoming something of a Shepparton specialist with his four Australian wins — he had one win on debut at Addington in NZ at his first start in March last year — all achieved on the Shepparton track where he has also been runner-up three times. Walberon wisecrack Trots caller Lachy McIntosh couldn’t resist making a comment when describing a claiming race at Maryborough meeting last Friday. Pointing out to viewers and listeners one of the pacers in the race, Walberon, was a 15-year-old he commented he’ll be able to get his Ls next year. Rising 16-year-old or not Walberon ran a bold race and finished third, 12m from the winner Racer in a 1:55.3 mile rate. Walberon was having his 203rd start which have produced 22 wins and 51 placings for more than $180,000 in prizemoney. Birthday for Tennaya Strong betting support for Tennaya was vindicated when the Donna Castles-trained eight-year-old mare led her rivals a merry dance in a C1 Only class event last week at Shepparton. Tennaya, driven by Castles, firmed into a $2.80 chance on the tote from more than twice that price and once urged to the front by Castles early from barrier four over the 2190m trip was never seriously challenged. While Tennaya’s last win was 34 starts ago in December 2015 at Swan Hill, the daughter of Lombo Mandingo had run three fifths at her previous three starts to indicate another win was beckoning. Punters obviously thought so too. Tennaya was having her 99th start and it was win number 11 with 35 placings which have produced more than $60000 in prizemoney. Model struts his stuff Laura Crossland kept the winning momentum she has enjoyed this year going last week at Shepparton to keep her among the leading Victorian trainers. Crossland produced trotter The Male Model and with a concession claim for reinsman Darby McGuigan notched his seventh win and his fifth for Crossland in 18 starts. The four-year-old son of Muscle Mass has won four of last six starts under Crossland’s guidance. The Male Model is from the Sundon mare Ashley Sunset, who had just one start for one win, and has left another smart trotter Phoebe Sunset who won 12 races in NSW and Queensland. Crossland has her name up there with the top trainers in the state. Joy in the Village Pacing mare Village Encounter put in arguably a career best run to land an early Christmas present for Bunbartha horseman John Newberry and his reinsman son Matthew last week at Shepparton. Despite a quick getaway from a wide front row barrier draw the four-year-old daughter of Village Jolt was forced to park outside the pacemaker Slice Of Life for the entirety of the race and audaciously kicked clear of her rivals in the home stretch for what turned out to be an easy win in the finish. Village Encounter’s mile rate of 1:58.3 included a sharp 56.7 last half and the win was her fourth from 14 starts. A Penny to be had Trial goers at Kyabram the previous Sunday could have easily supported five-year-old mare Gallifrey Penny who opened her winning account in a C0 Only class race last week at Shepparton. Gallifrey Penny led her rivals a merry dance in the Kyabram trial to further confirm she was on the improve after a cheeky effort at Echuca at her previous start. Trained by Swedish horsewoman and now Kyabram-based Kati Gunn, Gallifrey Penny was driven to an all-the-way win from barrier four by Darby McGuigan, providing him with a driving double. He also scored on The Male Model. Although a five-year-old, Gallifrey Penny, who is by Sutter Hanover, was having just her seventh trip to the races since she started racing in October. Gallifrey Penny’s dam, Penny The Pussycat, was an extra-smart mare who won 17 of 32 starts in Queensland and $85000 in prizemoney in the 1990s. Jay Bee Flex wins Veteran Elmore trainer Jimmy Beecroft got an early Christmas present when the trotting mare he prepares Jay Bee Flex won at Maryborough last week to notch her fifth win. Reinswoman Ellen Tormey was able to step the daughter of Federal Flex to the front and then take a sit on the favourite Aldebaran Midnite, a trotter formerly trained by Neville Welsh at Elmore and now in the Andy Gath camp. In the run to the judge Jay Bee Flex, who was a $7 chance had no trouble running down Aldebaran Midnite with Jeter filling the minor placing. Jay Bee Flex had had her previous win four starts ago at Bendigo on November 5 and has prizemoney earnings of more than $35000. Winners far and wide Dual state trainer Amanda Turnbull produced a training treble in NSW and a double in Victoria on Boxing Day as well as driving a winner on her home track at Bathurst. At Ballarat Turnbull struck with The Faithful in the $20000 Lightning Mile feature, upstaging the likes of Moonrock and Tee Cee Bee Macray. She also won a C0 Only class race with Ellmers Hoofing It with both pacers driven to victory by Shepparton horseman David Moran. At Leeton Lisa Bartley drove the Turnbull-trained Benji Mara and Kenrick to wins, while Mark Pitt brought up the hat-trick for Turnbull on Aintnobettor Euroa horseman Cameron Maggs also enjoyed success at Leeton, scoring a well-deserved win with Roll One Over, a 17/1 chance. One El of a time Elmore Harness Racing Club created history on Boxing Day when it staged its first TAB meeting. Club officials headed by president Eddie Mullane and secretary-treasurer Cliff Powell were pleased with the response from trainers with enough nominations for an eight-race card in one the busiest racing periods for the year. Elmore was to have TAB coverage for the first time last year when it staged its first meeting since 2005, but it was withdrawn at the last minute. Powell admitted it wasn’t plain sailing getting harness racing back at Elmore, which has been a harness stronghold down the years. ‘‘Before we held our meeting in 2005 we were told that we would be finished as a club staging meetings due to the rationalisation of Victorian tracks at that time,’’ he said. ‘‘There was a HRV official at that meeting on the day and I said to him we had nearly 1300 people here for the meeting; How many will they have at Melton tonight? He had to agree nowhere near the numbers we had.’’ Like other clubs which also had the death sentence at the time Elmore didn’t take the decision lying down. Some vigorous campaigning led by Powell during the years led to the return of harness racing to town last year. ‘‘This meeting is like a town reunion. A lot people come back for the meeting to get the chance to catch up with family and friends,’’ Powell said. The feature event on the card was the Elmore Pacing Cup which attracted an even field of R1-R2 class pacers. The Ellen Tormey-trained Nomi Malone took out the race, saluting for favourite punters at $1.90. The John O’Reilly Memorial Trotters Cup for TR0 or better class trotters also had plenty of interest with most runners having good recent form, with Scottish Sardius (trained and driven by Peter Sanderson) claiming the win. Coming up Echuca’s biggest night of the year is being held on Monday. Tonight: Kilmore (n). Tomorrow: Cranbourne (n). Sunday: St Arnaud (d), Melton (n), Albury (n). Monday: Echuca (n). Tuesday: Terang (n). Wednesday: Geelong (n). Thursday: Maryborough (d), Mildura (n). By Lauren Bordin Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

It was was a case of ‘play it again’ at last week’s Shepparton trots meeting for Rochester harness racing trainer Mark Thompson. Six days after Thompson produced Ideal Eagle and Weeks End for wins on the Shepparton track, he repeated the feat. Both Ideal Eagle and Weeks End backed up from that meeting two weeks ago to again outclass their rivals at last week’s meeting on the track. And as what happened the first time, both pacers were again driven by Bendigo horseman Todd Matthews. Both Ideal Eagle and Weeks End were both the punters’ elect and paid $2.20 for their wins. Ideal Eagle skipped over the 1690 metres in a 1.56.6 mile rate time, easily the quickest on the event card. Ideal Eagle is a five-year-old American Ideal mare who has now saluted five times for Thompson since coming from New Zealand where she won once in 11 starts. Weeks End was having just her eighth trip to the races for three wins, two seconds and two thirds. She is a three-year-old by Jet Laag out of the Totally Ruthless mare Orta Be Ruthless, a winner 19 races and who has left two other winners. It’s probably a safe bet Thompson is again scanning programs to find suitable races again for the two pacers. No doubt a Shepparton meeting is preferred. While it was a big night again at last week’s meeting at Shepparton, it was even more satisfying for Matthews. Not only did he rein the Thompson-trained pair to victories, he has also trained pacer Marine Parade to a win at the meeting. Making his debut Marine Parade, a four-year-old by top sire Art Major was driven to victory by Haydon Gray and punters were well aware of his ability as he was a $1.50 favourite. Marine Parade is a half brother to Philtra Phella a Life Sign gelding and a winner of 20 races. Both are from the Safely Kept mare, Philtra Girl. by Campaspe News Reprinted with permission of The Riverine Herald  

Harness racing trainer-driver Bill Trembath is rapt to just have a runner in the Race To Royalty, but in Hows The Memory he may have much more than just a competitive starter. Trembath’s two-year-old filly announced herself with an impressive victory in her TAB Breeders Crown heat at Shepparton, upstaging a well-rated rival. “I have been down and watched a few times, but never had a runner there,” he said of the Breeders Crown, but that all changed when Hows The Memory ran down Australian Pacing Gold winner Nostra Beach last Tuesday. “We had one nominated a few years ago but they never lived up to it, this one has. To be in the running is something special.” Making it all the more so, Hows The Memory – owned and bred by Dennis and Joanne Howe – is by Mach Three out of Distant Memory, Trembath’s talented juvenile who won a Vicbred Super Series and a Bathurst Tiara Final as a two-year-old in 2013. They remain the greatest stakes wins of Trembath’s 30 years-plus training career and it makes the new filly’s emergence all the more satisfying. “When you have done it all the way through and had them as a foal and broken them in, then when they race it means so much to you,” Trembath said. Hows The Memory certainly hasn’t been rushed into emulating her mare. “I gave her a trial early on, then put her out for six weeks to help her relax, and she has just kept stepping up each time.” A debut win at Leeton on July 3 preceded a second placing at Shepparton on July 21 and a further victory at Bathurst on July 30, all in country class. Last Tuesday signalled her first step into the metropolitan class spotlight and she was outstanding against a formidable rival, with Nostra Beach’s nine starts having delivered $189,400 in stakes courtesy of four wins and three second placings. “We gave ourselves a bit of a chance because at Bathurst she ran home in 26.7,” Trembath said. From gate one Trembath kicked along early and ensured Nostra Beach’s driver Mark Pitt had to earn the lead, then come the straight it was a race in two and Hows The Memory emerged from leader’s back to pinch the win by a half-neck. The 2:01.1 mile rate was the quickest of the night’s Breeders Crown heats. “It was good. We were lucky we drew well, but to beat one of Emma’s is not easy,” he said. He will now hope to turn a heat win into a semi-final top six placing that will deliver him a shot at the big dance. “Your draw plays a big part, we will just be hoping to get through to the finals,” he said.   Race programme for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 18 August 2017

Of the top 10 Australian stakes-earning two-year-old harness racing fillies, three will line up tomorrow night at Shepparton in Breeders Crown heats. Emma Stewart-trained Nostra Beach (ranked 1 nationally with $187,800), Molly Kelly (#2, $187,600) and unbeaten Nostra Villa (#4, $118,890) headline the heats, which also feature Cran Dalgety-trained Our Bettor Joy from New Zealand, which would slot in at No.9 nationally with earnings of $68,730. The Breeders Crown heats are Races 2, 3 and 7 on the 10-event card, which gets under way at 5.27pm and is scheduled to finish at 10pm. This week’s Race to Royalty heats Today Globe Derby (South Australia) 2YO pacing colts and geldings 2YO pacing fillies 3YO pacing fillies 3YO pacing colts and geldings Tomorrow Shepparton (Victoria) 2YO pacing fillies Albion Park (Queensland) 3YO pacing colts and geldings Wednesday August 9 Kilmore (Victoria) 2YO pacing colts and geldings Thursday August 10 Ballarat (Victoria) 3YO pacing fillies Friday August 11 Bendigo (Victoria) 3YO pacing colts and geldings Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Shepparton, Tuesday 08 August 2017 Form guide for Shepparton, Tuesday 08 August 2017

You can lock in a win for harness racing trainer Don Bootle at Shepparton on Saturday night, despite analysts not giving his runner much chance of scoring in her maiden pace. A race start for the trainer ’s five-year-old mare Winlock will be a victory for the Bootle family, having been the offspring of their unraced stallion Uturnbay and out of their mare Ankles. “Winlock is one of our own breeds, I’ve had her since she was a foal,” Bootle said. “She’s just a tiny little mare, she’s no bigger than a pony, but she’s got that bulldog attitude and never gives up. “I’m not sure how she will go first up, she’s a five-year-old and for some reason (Uturnbay’s) horses go better when they are older.” Bootle has recently relocated to Melbourne’s east from New South Wales, docking at Croydon Light Harness Club’s track and stables. It’s a long way from Euroma Stud, the family’s Narromine free-range paddock where Uturnbay stands for Bootle’s father, stud and horse owner Terry Bootle. “He was a very quick horse who would have won races for us,” Bootle said of Uturnbay. “As a young horse Donald Cole in Dubbo had him and we put him out in a paddock. “It was a wet day and he was running up and down the paddock and slipped over and broke his neck. He’s actually pretty lucky to be around walking.” Having a staunch dedication to ensuring his horses have a life after racing, Bootle has embraced the potential he saw in Uturnbay, who shares a grandsire, Smooth Fella, with champion trotter Lyell Creek. “The stallion stays in the paddock in season time and we just keep the mares in,” Bootle said. “Only one has missed foal in the last six seasons.” “Eight or nine mares” share a paddock with Uturnbay, and when they are not in season he’s taken to Molong, New South Wales, where he occasionally works as a stockhorse. Of the foals, several have made it to the track and Bootle is optimistic wins and placings will come, but each horse is broken in for saddle as well as sulky. “You’ve got to look at horses for their after-racing life,” he said. “If a horse is broken into saddle you can sell it as a riding horse.” For now the family’s focus is on Winlock, who ran fifth of five in her July 9 trial at Yarra Valley and will start from the pole in Saturday’s Bohbron Park Pace (C0) at Shepparton. “She’s like a little pet to me,” Bootle said. “I broke her in, got her going and then got sick. I gave her to other trainers but they couldn’t get her going. Now I have taken her back and she is going great for me,” he said. “She put a big effort in (the trial) but tired over the longer distance, but I was happy with how she ran. I’m just looking for her to go around, it doesn’t worry me where she comes. I’ll just be happy to see her on the track and trying her best. “Some say she can’t run out of sight, but I like to prove people wrong and show what I can do with a horse. I like horses who are a bit temperamental. I like mad horses so you can be challenged and work them out.” The reins will be handed over to concession reinswoman Monique Barnett tonight – “Winlock prefers lady drivers – she doesn’t like the guys” – and Bootle will hope to begin his Victorian training with an honest effort. “Being her first start I don’t really expect much, but as long as she gets around nicely and gives me her true race I’ll be happy.” Listen in to our chat with trainer Don Bootle on the TrotLine: Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Shepparton, Saturday 29 July 2017 Form guide for Shepparton, Saturday 29 July 2017

Sunday’s broodmare and mixed stock sale promises to be the best Shepparton Harness Racing Club has held, with 91 lots on offer. Club manager Ian McDonald said the line-up of stock was “unbelievable, we expect a huge crowd”. “This is the best list of horses we’ve had in the sale since we have been holding them,” he said. Among the lots are 45 mares including Cornsilk (dam of Delight Me), Pelicanrama and Kyvalley Kyrie’s dam Maori Lindy. Three mares have a foal at foot, which are by Art Major, Life Sign and Pet Rock, and many others have positive tests and are nearing birth. “The timing of the sale is key, because many of the mares are in foal and going to drop within four to six weeks and buyers will get instant return on their investment,” McDonald said. “There are three mares that are in foal to Somebeach Somewhere, whose book is full and closed. “If you take home a horse like Cornsilk or Peclicanrama you get the opportunity to invest in what could be a gold mine going forward.” In addition to the broodmares the sale will offer weanlings and yearlings, and raced and unraced horses aged two and over. A trial will be held, timed and captured on video at 8.30am featuring 11 horses on offer for sale. Mr McDonald said the club’s sales had a proven record, having previously offered pacing superstar Hectorjayjay, leading trotter Claudys Princess and Group 2 winning Im Princess Gemma, who was snapped up for $990. The sale, to start at noon at Quest Racing Complex, will be live streamed via, where you can also find more details. Click here to view the sale catalogue.   Michael Howard

Division remains within Greater Shepparton City Council around the merits of a masterplan for land in Kialla, a week before submissions are heard on the matter at an independent planning panel. Some councillors continued to harbour concerns about the Valley Harness and Greyhound Racing Precinct feasibility study and masterplan at this week’s council meeting. Others stressed Tuesday night’s meeting was not the time and place to debate the merits of the plan, just to note council’s position on the matter heading into the panel. The motion to note the council’s position provoked further disagreement around whether the council’s resolution made any difference at all. Councillors Les Oroszvary, Shelley Sutton and Fern Summer voted against noting the position, with remaining councillors voting for the position and Cr Chris Hazelman declaring a conflict of interest, opting out of discussion. With regard to submissions received for an amendment to the planning scheme, councillors ultimately voted to note officers’ response for referral and presentation to the panel and to note officers may exercise discretion to best achieve the general position council adopted. At this week’s meeting, Cr Dennis Patterson hoped the panel’s findings would give the council ‘‘good direction’’. Speaking against the motion, Cr Summer said she had ‘‘lost a lot of confidence in this project’’, while Cr Oroszvary stressed the panel only made recommendations, not the final decision on the matter. Mayor Dinny Adem described the motion being considered as irrelevant, before chief executive Peter Harriott clarified. ‘‘It is relevant to the point that the independent panel will wonder where officers are coming from.’’ Wrapping up, Cr Patterson said the motion being considered was to ‘‘note the officers’ response’’. ‘‘We’ve gone from noting their response to full stage war,’’ he said. A September resolution had directed officers to prepare and exhibit a planning scheme amendment, seeking to implement findings of the master plan. Fifteen of 21 submissions received had objected or requested changes to the proposed amendment and remain unresolved, some relating to flood modelling and concerns around land use. ‘‘As such, all submissions have been referred to an Independent Planning Panel appointed by the Minister for Planning for consideration,’’ the report read. Council officers’ position at the panel hearing argues the proposal is consistent with council’s adopted policies and strategies and no changes to the flood controls or flood mapping are proposed as part of the planning scheme amendment. The officers’ report estimates the cost of the independent planning panel for this amendment at about $10000. ‘‘Additional costs will be incurred if legal representation and/or expert witnesses are required. This may cost approximately $30000,’’ the report said. By Thomas Moir Reprinted with permission of the Shepparton News

He had gone agonisingly close at times, but Shepparton harness racing reinsman Ryan Duffy finally made it to the winners circle for the first time last weekend. Duffy partnered the Amanda Turnbull-trained Benji Mara to an all-the-way win at Bendigo on Sunday, which greatly pleased ‘‘get out’’ punters who had supported the pacer into a hot $1.50 favourite. Having just his fourth Australian start and only his 22nd lifetime outing, Benji Mara posted a blistering 1:55.9 mile rate over the 1650m trip, which was a good reason why his rivals could not run him down. ‘‘I was pretty confident through the run and on the home turn I was pretty sure he’d win,’’ Duffy said. Duffy has worked for the highly successful Turnbull-Nathan Jack team for the past six months, but has been driving in races for only the past two months. He had driven three second placegetters up to breaking his duck at Bendigo. Duffy has plenty of harness racing blood coursing through his veins. He comes from a strong trotting family with his father, Steve, a prominent Shepparton harness trainer. His late grandfather Bill was also involved heavily in the sport as a trainer and driver. Ryan’s older brother Jake is a successful jockey. ‘‘I did an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker with Liberty Kitchens, who were very good to me, but I was always going to head this way (into harness racing),’’ Duffy said. ‘‘I’m in a good stable and if I can keep getting support, I hope to be able to keep moving forward.’’ In Scorching form John Hallam was another Shepparton trainer to enjoy success at Bendigo, producing his talented mare Scorching Along to roll the favourite Hedge Your Bets in a TR1-2 class trot. It is the fourth time the five-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur has saluted in 27 starts and she will be striving to improve that record when she tackles the Mooroopna Trotters Cup at Shepparton on Sunday night. Nathan Jack also enjoyed a driving double at Bendigo, winning again on the Ross Graham-trained trotter Son Of Sonoko and also the Phillip Walters-trained three-year-old gelding Themightythor. Jack also drove the Jayne Davies-trained Ravello Rock to win the $9500 Ken Miller Memorial race final at Warragul on Monday. Big guns are back Team Aiken big guns are back in action this weekend. Hectorjayjay tackles the $20000 Young Pedro Free-For-All at Melton tonight, while Lennytheshark steps out in the $31000 Golden Mile at Menangle tomorrow night. Both will come from barrier six. Both trialled impressively at Shepparton last week, with Hector narrowly downing Lenny in a slick last half. Aiken also lines up Beltane from barrier two in the $20000 Youthful Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies at Melton tonight, while Craig Turnbull has Major Occasion coming from barrier six in the colts and geldings version of this race. The $30000 VHRSC Holmfield for three-year-old trotters will see the promising Doc Wilson-trained Dark Secret drawn to run a big race from barrier three, while Colbinabbin horseman Graham McDermott has Clarkes Hill coming from barrier two in the same race. In the $20000 Bendigo Trotters Cup tomorrow night, hopes of a district win rest with the Aiken-trained Maorisfavouritesun, Dean Pattison’s mare Sky Petite and the new kid on the blocks Fabrication for Tatura’s David Abrahams. Making mark in area Successful horseman Craig Turnbull celebrated his first win since joining the ranks of Goulburn Valley trainers at the Frank Ryan Raceway at Echuca last week. Turnbull produced Safari Rose to win a C0 only class race with a bold front-running display. Safari Rose was tested early in a battle for the lead, but held her ground and was never in danger of being beaten in the 1755m trip after that. The four-year-old Safari mare, bred by Rochester harness stalwart Denis Pangrazio, posted a PB best mile rate of 1:58.3 in recording her third career win from 30 starts. There have also been nine minor placings. Turnbull is working a team of a dozen horses at Russ Thomson’s property at Gillieston while he develops his own training complex on a property he has bought on the Midland Hwy near Tatura. He is hoping to build a team of 15 to 20 horses and is prepared to take on horses to train. Majestic manners Manners is vital in harness racing, particularly with young trotters, which was clearly evident at Maryborough last week. Shepparton horseman Steve Boyington lined up two-year-old trotter Majestic Action for his third start and the son of Majestic Son worked to the front in the first lap and went on to win the race by more than 20m. But Boyington conceded Majestic Action probably would have run second if the favourite Fend Off had not been knocked off his feet on the home turn when challenging for the lead. ‘‘He (Fend Off) probably would have won, but I would have run second, I’m sure,’’ Boyington said. Boyington said Majestic Action was a young trotter who had come a long way in a short time. ‘‘It was only five or six weeks ago we were deciding to turn him out or keep him going and he has just kept on improving. We are giving him a short break and then we’ll stoke him up again for the Vicbred series,’’ Boyington said. Majestic Action is owned and was bred by Yarrawonga trots enthusiasts Jack and Linda Gale, who have been holidaying in America and are yet to see the horse trial or race. Carlo’s winning habit Shepparton trainer Steve O’Donoghue will attempt to make it 14 wins from 16 starts with his stable star San Carlos at Bendigo tomorrow night. San Carlo, with Bec Bartley in the sulky, made it 13 wins from 15 starts with another emphatic win in a C5 or better class race at Kilmore last Friday night. The six-year-old gelding again won with his head on his chest, clearing out turning for home and working to the front with a lap to go. He cruised to the line nearly 17m clear of the runner-up, rating 1:57.1 for the 2180m trip including a 57.1 last half. In a tough race tomorrow night, San Carlo has drawn barrier seven with what could be his main danger Brallos Pass drawn inside him. San Carlo was not the only GV pacer to win at Kilmore. Marungi trainer Linton Power produced Ok Mara for his third win since joining his stables from New Zealand, while Avenel horseman Ian Montgomery notched a win with Kissmelvis. Ok Mara, driven by Laura Crossland, has had seven starts for Power for three wins, two seconds, a fourth and a seventh and was coming off a last start win at Cobram. Kissmelvis had three minor placings from just the eight starts before breaking through for his first win. Quite the recovery Talk about going from boiled lollies to chocolates. Punters who had supported the Kyabram-trained Mana Master had virtually thrown in the towel when the lightly-raced pacer galloped on the first bend in a C0 only race at Echuca last week. It did not look too good either when Mana Master got back pacing and chased the pack, tacked on and then headed off three wide in the last lap. But Mana Master, driven by Damien Wilson, was more than up to the challenge and outstayed Hidden Rose in a stirring two-horse duel down the home straight. Mana Master was having only his 10th race start and with some promising performances heading into the Echuca assignment showed he had his hoof firmly on the till and punters agreed with some solid support. Mana Master is trained by Graham Lyon, who owns the pacer in partnership with Bob Souter, a Tongala Football Club stalwart and father of former Blues star Mick and grandfather of Jordan. The four-year-old is by Passmaster, who is a son of Cam’s Card Shark and was bred by Kyabramites Peter Hall, Rob Whitford and John Lilford. He is a half-brother of Hall’s smart pacer Winkanditsover, who is on the comeback trail and a winner of two races from just six starts. Quaddie killer Four-year-old pacer Our Bushwacker knocked out a lot of quaddie punters when he upstaged a field of talented rivals at Echuca last week. Despite having a top five finish in his previous six starts since winning at Yarra Valley in December, punters shied away from the son of Art Official, who started at the luxury odds of nearly 22-1 on the tote from a second row draw. Bec Bartley drove a patient race on the Glenn Freeman-trained Our Bushwacker, catching a ride on the three-deep line in the last lap and mowing down his rivals wide out with a strong finishing burst. The Rochester-trained Ruthless Armbro ran the quinella in the race. Our Bushwacker rated a PB 1:56.1 for the 1710m sprint in what was his fifth race win with seven placings from 26 starts. Shepp suits them Consistent pacers Space Junk, Lead Singer and Carter Bromac were all locally trained pacers who added to their impressive form at Shepparton on Tuesday night. Space Junk completed a hat-trick of wins on the Shepparton track for Merrigum trainer Brett Bunfield and Lead Singer made it two straight for the Amanda Turnbull-Nathan Jack team, which also produced Carter Bromac for his fourth successive win. Bunbartha trainer John Newberry also enjoyed a win with trotter The Majestic, who was driven by his son Matt, while trainer Laura Crossland and driver David Moran continued their fairytale with the once rogue pacer Fiery Achiever. Mountainous effort Pacer Alpe De Huez used his poleline barrier draw to lead throughout and notch his fifth win in his past 10 outings at Echuca last week. The Scott Stewart-trained and driven four-year-old son of Changeover stepped straight to the front and warded off all challengers in the home straight with a slick 27.2 last quarter. Alpe De Huez, who just went under to Carter Bromac at Shepparton on Tuesday night, is building an impressive resume with seven wins and two minor placings from 21 trips to the races. Crystal clear Wayne Lear struck a winning blow for the local trainers at Echuca last week when Crystal Colony proved too good for his rivals in a C0 only class race, which rounded off the 10-event card. It was an Echuca quinella with the Rob Caldwell-trained and Todd Matthews-driven I Its Me running second and the Benalla pacer Justcallmechief filling the minor placing. Crystal Colony, who found the lead early, is a four-year-old mare by Art Colony who deserved her maiden win as she had run five seconds and four thirds going into the race. Listen to vision District harness fans will get a chance to hear HRV’s strategy during a road trip to Shepparton on Monday night, June 19. HRV’s chief executive David Martin will give the presentation with those attending able to present feedback. All club managers and secretaries are urged to get their committees together to attend along with trainers, drivers, owns and participants. Coming up It’s a full house for Mooroopna Harness Racing Club’s cup meeting on Sunday evening at Shepparton with a 10-event card to be decided. First event is at the early time of 4.43pm, with the final event at 9.17pm. The Mooroopna Pacing Cup should be a keenly contested affair with Zhukov, Glen Eyre, That Chill Divine, Here For The Goodtimes, Our Bushwacker, Provocation and Takachanceonharry district pacers who are contesting the race. Shepparton Harness Racing Club has a busy week as it hosts a night meeting next Thursday. Today: Mildura (d), Melton (n) Tomorrow: Bendigo (n) Sunday: Mooroopna at Shepparton (t) Monday: Hamilton (d) Tuesday: Cranbourne (n) Wednesday: Melton (d), Kilmore (n) Thursday: Maryborough (d), Shepparton (n) Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

Star pacer Hectorjayjay’s return race itself was hassle-free, but the days leading-up to caused connections angst. The six-year-old made a winning return to race when he led throughout and scored by 8.3m in the $60,000 Group 2 Shepparton Cup (2690m) last Saturday night. It was his first run since the brave second to Smolda in the Perth Inter Dominion final on January 9. But it was a race he almost didn’t start in. Driver Josh Aiken said Hectorjayjay sent a scare through the camp when he “wasn’t quite himself” during the week. “That’s why we got his blood tested and it came back about 80 per cent right,” he said. “We then waited and had our vet (Simon Robinson) check him again on the morning (of the Cup) before making the final decision on running him. “I went into the race confident. I saw him bouncing all around his paddock in the morning (Saturday) and that was enough to tell me he was ready to go.” Aiken said Hectorjayjay felt his old self once he speared to the front at Shepparton. “He won well and wasn’t fully extended, but he felt like he just needed the run a bit in the final stages,” he said. “It’s good to get that run into him.” Aiken said connections were considering running Hectorjayjay again in the sprint – the support race to the Ballarat Cup – at Ballarat next Saturday night. Maybe it’s a long shot, but there is some chance Lazarus could also head to that race. If they don’t meet at Ballarat, the megastar pair will clash for the first time in the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on Saturday week. In other stable news, Lennytheshark will definitely resume in the Ballarat Cup against Smolda and others. “Dad was really, really happy with his work (over the weekend) and he’s set to go. His foot is fine,” he said. “We’re actually taking him to the (Melton) trials on Tuesday so Chris (Alford) can hop on and have a drive of him before Ballarat.” Adam Hamilton

Piff a snowball, get your boogie on and soak up the spectacle of more than 100 horses taking to the track. That’s what is on offer Sunday when Mooroopna Harness Racing Club hosts its pacing and trotters cups at Shepparton, where it will stage a twilight meeting amid the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. “To me and the committee, our cup meeting is the pinnacle of our club,” president Jeff Gledhill said. “We’re hoping people enjoy a good night’s racing. We have a snow machine for the kids to celebrate the start of the snow season, and there will be music and dancing with Callum Gleeson performing. It is a chance to see what grass roots harness racing is all about.” Entertainment was boosted after the club secured a $10,800 grant from the State Government’s VRIF program, while further support has enabled the club to provide almost $14,000 in raffle prizes to participating trainers. “This year we got a Tuza horse float at a discounted price and sponsor support that has meant we can offer this prize to trainers without costing the club,” Mr Gledhill said. That showing of support to participants goes to the very core of the club, characteristics that it is keen to showcase on its cup day. “Now that we no longer host racing at Mooroopna we have become more of an education club, and about 10 to 12 trainers use the all-weather track to educate their horses in preparation for racing,” Mr Gledhill said. “To host a 10-race program at Shepparton of more than 100 horses just proves that the club can still support the industry.” The 10-race program starts at 4.45pm, with race six featuring the Lift ‘N’ Shift Mooroopna Pacing Cup at 7.30pm and race seven the Eljaykay Phoenix Syndicate Mooroopna Trotters Cup at 8.02pm. Entry is free and there is a $5 discount dining voucher to Mooroopna residents and visitors to the town’s caravan parks. Michael Howard

The stakes will be considerable for harness racing trainers who enter a runner at Shepparton on June 12, when all things Mooroopna will be celebrated. The Lift ‘N’ Shift Mooroopna Pacing Cup will feature at Quest Racing Complex on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, when the Mooroopna club will build on more than 100 years of supporting trainers and owners by offering $14,000 worth of prizes, including a horse float. Mooroopna Harness Racing Club secretary Shane Martin said the prize pool reiterated the club’s support for participants. “We are a grass roots club and are eager to support drivers and trainers,” Martin said. “It’s a successful meeting and we want to get people out there. We are only a little country club, but we are still going strong.” To win the float trainers will need to have a race starter at the meeting, with each trainer getting a ticket into the draw. Other trainers’ draws will include a set of hopples and a $500 John Deere voucher. Throw in retired pacing superstar Smoken Up leading out the cup field and a snow machine to keep children entertained and a night full of winners appears assured. Trots Media

An ambitious and targeted approach saw three-year-old Blackbird Power show great improvement and capture a prized purse. Harness racing trainer Ross Sugars’ gelding, which is by Mach Three out of Power Play, won the George Croxford Tribute Final at Shepparton on Tuesday, when Greg Sugars placed him in front and the $2.40 favourite held off fast-finishing Showgun Thomas and Code Black. The victory delivered Blackbird Power’s connections the bulk share of the $25,575 purse, just reward for owner Gavin Kelly who Ross Sugars said “picked the race out a couple of months ago and we set him for it”. “We weren’t expecting it to be an easy shot, but this horse has been getter better, has good manners and improved a lot from when it was a two-year-old,” Sugars said. Blackbird Power was a maiden when he resumed racing as a three-year-old on Christmas Eve and placed at Maryborough, and was then fourth at the VHRSC 3YO Cup at Melton and seventh in his VHRSC Victoria Derby heat. “He never looked a contender, but got a good education,” Sugars said. “He had a month away from any racing after that and we just kept working him and he blossomed as we worked out a bit of a training routine that suited this guy.” Blackbird Power returned to run second in the first International All Star Series race at Melton on March 7, having been beaten 1m by Spiritwriter, who went on to break a track record at Hamilton. Next up for Blackbird Power was the third heat of the George Croxford Tribute at Wangaratta on March 13. “He drew well at Wangaratta, although we were a little worried about Code Black who come across from New South Wales,” Sugars said. Code Black started the heat a $1.90 favourite, but Blackbird Power led and Code Black was trapped three-wide for much of the early running before finding the breeze. In the straight it was Blackbird Power who had more in the tank. “He went pretty good at Wangaratta, and we thought if he gets a good draw in the final then it could work out well. If he gets that nice run he is capable of running a very quick last quarter. For once it unfolded well.” From gate two Blackbird Power led well from the mobile start to take the lead and soon enough Code Black swept three-wide and took the breeze, mirroring their heat. Come the straight it was a race in three, with Greg Sugars managing to drive Blackbird Power to the line, holding off second-placed Showgun Thomas, who used the sprint lane, by 1.8m with Code Black a further head back in third. Sugars said Blackbird Power would now be considered for the $40,000 VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 1, with a likely tilt at Breeders Crown to follow. Michael Howard

Catalogues for the 2016 Shepparton Yearling Sale, to be conducted by Shepparton Harness Racing Club at their Kialla complex on Sunday, April 3, are now available. The sale has attracted 57 yearlings representing 21 different stallions . They include many of Australia’s leading sires such as Art Major, American Ideal, Four Starzzz Shark, Courage Under Fire, Grinfromeartoear, Modern Art, Sportswriter and Shadow Play. There’s also stock being offered by the up-and-coming sires Artistic Fella, Changeover, Shadyshark Hanover, Major In Art, Always A Virgin and Village Jolt. The first Australian crop of dual world champion Betterthancheddar and the outstanding New Zealand pacers New Zealand Auckland Reactor and Lincoln Royal will add interest to the sale. Many of the yearlings nominated for the sale are eligible for the Australian Pacing Gold sales-race series with $322,000 finals for two-year-old colts and fillies to be run in April/May 2017. They are also eligible for the Breeders Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown, Vicbred, Vicbred Platinum and NSW Breeders Challenge. For a copy of the catalogue send an email to or phone (03) 5823 1403 or 0428 231 403. Catalogues are also available from Australian Pacing Gold, Alabar Bloodstock, Melton and Victorian country tracks. Pedigrees are available on the website  Click on the Yearling Sale link here. Peter Wharton

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