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Barnawartha horseman Wayne Anderson had mixed feelings when he landed the money at the Shepparton harness racing meeting this week with a 25/1 longshot - and who could blame him? Wayne decided to take the reins himself with bay gelding Postal Express (Flightpath-Bye Focals (Harmony Heaven), giving his 21-year-old son Chris, an up-and-coming junior driver, the night off. "Chris works in the scaffolding business and just lately he's been doing a fair bit of travelling," Wayne said. "As well as all the miles, he's also been working hard because he just recently bought himself a house. So, I said to him that I didn't want him pushing himself to get back and drive at the trots. "And of course, everything worked out perfectly in the race for Postal Express and we landed the money, but only just!" Postal Express won by a neck from Monash (Ros Rolfe) with four metres back to Waterboy (Ryan Duffy). The mile rate was a brisk 1.57-5. View the video here! It was Wayne's first race drive on the eight-year-old, and while he was delighted with the success, he intends to stay "second fiddle" to Chris whenever he can. "Chris has had a couple of wins and my wife Margy, myself and all the other family members are keen to see him get established and do well in the sport," Wayne said. "Whenever he's home and not away working, you'll find him at our place helping out with the team, which is up to five at present. "Chris was a late-starter into trotting as he used to do very well at football and cricket. I think he can make a go of it, because he's keen and will take on any advice. Guys like David Jack, Cameron Maggs and Peter Romero have been fantastic." The Anderson farm, nestled on the outskirts of town, has been in the family since 1956. Wayne said a 700-metre granite track on the property cost "24 dozen bottles of beer and some fuel, back in the day"! "Uncle Bob, who always had horses on the place, now looks after the cattle, while my brother Steve does the cropping and our dad David keeps an eye on things to ensure everything's ticking along okay. We have 60 cattle and 350 sheep as well as the horses," Wayne said. "It's a real family affair and while two of our other sons, Mitch and Isaac, aren't hands-on with the horses, they support us. "We got Postal Express off a mate in Robbie Walters, who thought he would be just perfect for Chris to learn the ropes. "And he is a nice horse-just a gentleman to do anything with. He's improved lately since we changed his feed on the recommendation of a nutritionalist and got his teeth done. "The horse has always shown high speed, but now he's starting to find the line." Wayne said he'd been in and out of the industry for nearly 40 years. "I was trying a heap of horses there for a while but dropped off a bit when I wasn't getting any to the races," he said. "Then in December 2015, we had a wild bushfire go through. We lost 300 sheep, 400 bales and five kilometres of fencing. It also destroyed our wooden horse yards, but fortunately two colts that I was breaking-in weren't injured. "The bushfire destroyed 6000 hectares in nine hours, being fanned by 100kph winds. We saved a few lambs as well as things around the house." Wayne said while Postal Express could be one to follow from the stable, he was excited with former Queensland pacer My Magic Merlin. "Chris got beaten a head at Kilmore with him last month which was his first run for us. He's a nice type by Mach Three and still only a C1," he said. And there's a fair chance that Wayne will be among the loudest supporters for Chris at Albury on Saturday night when the junior driver competes with Miss Rixon in the opening event, followed by My Magic Merlin in race two.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Jovial Bill Milner of Kilmore is strictly a trainer only of square-gaiters these days - and loves every minute of it. "I'll have to be honest and say that a fair amount of patience is required with them at times, but I just keep poking along and mostly they are enjoyable," Milner said. And Bill's certainly enjoying a pleasant time in harness racing at the moment, with four-year-old Dellsun (Majestic Son-Auravale (Malhana Gindin USA) getting the job done in fine style. The gelding, nicely driven by master Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, didn't put a foot wrong to take out the JDC Contractors Trotters Handicap at Shepparton last Tuesday night. Milner said the Shepparton circuit was quickly becoming one of his favorite tracks. "I seem to have a fair bit of success up there. Dellsun is an example because his previous victory was also at Shepparton a month ago," he said. "It's a nice easy drive from home so I'll keep racing there while our luck is in." Milner is hands-on with pretty much every aspect of the sport and does a great job with a small team. Not only does he breed all his stock, but breaks them in, does the farrier work and trains them. That virtually leaves only the driving side of it, but he says he's quite happy to watch from the other side of the fence. "I do enjoy the breaking-in part probably the most. There's a heap of satisfaction comes out of that and yes I suppose I do nearly everything myself," he said. "Over the many years I've been involved, I've learnt a hell of a lot from a great number of people. "I got started with Carl O'Dwyer when I was a teenager doing a farrier apprenticeship. Then later on when I was shoeing for greats like Vin Knight, Gordon Rothacker, Kevin Murray, Kevin Dixon and others, I would pick up more knowledge. "Early days another influential person was Frank Shinn. I remember we went off buying a horse each and mine was named Fair Baron. I was learning how to drive fastwork one day and nearly put Frank over the fence, which didn't go down all that well. "Fair Baron never won a race, but I'm certain the one Frank purchased turned out okay!" Milner now owns the property that belonged to Shinn. It's on nearly four acres and has a 400-metre track. He said he trained pacers years ago before changing his alliances to square gaiters. "Without doubt the best pacer I had would have been Vice Regal, who raced in the early 1990s," Milner said. Vice Regal (Vance Hanover USA-Pat Hanover NZ (Emory Hanover USA) finished his career with 14 wins and 24 placings for more than $74,000. After becoming a fully qualified farrier, Milner was employed by the Victoria Racing Club and worked at Seymour and Kilmore gallops meetings as well as some in Melbourne. "I used to help out with barrier duties as well and I'm still at it, nearly 50 years later," he said. Most of the Milner team go back to a daughter of Welcome Advice, Star Advice, a moderately performed race mare. However, in the breeding barn, she had six foals, including Auravale and Auravalley. Auravale, a five-race winner, had six foals with all winners, except one. Auravalley has produced three foals with the best being My Archie Way (4 wins) and Tetra (2 wins). Milner paid tribute to his success with his small team to supporter Kevin Dixon, "92 years young", who has held a licence for 76 years. "Kevin would only train two at a time back in the day, but he was very good at it. When the old Melbourne Showgrounds closed, he moved to Kilmore on a small acreage and he lives about five minutes from me," Milner said. "He has taught me a lot. He calls into my stables regularly and still attends all the meetings with me - he's a great mate."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When star Victorian harness racing reinsman John Caldow set off up the highway to the Shepparton meeting on Friday night, he was entitled to believe he had a few nice drives. “I must admit that on paper I really did think I could do okay - but I have to be honest and say I wasn’t counting on landing five winners!” a jubilant Caldow said. “It was just one of those nights where you think this might happen, or that could be the case, and then it just all goes to plan and falls into place,” he said. “Absolutely amazing, but hell it was heaps of fun.” The quintet of wins was a first for the freelance reinsman, who, with wife Maree, has a training complex at Melton. “I did get five in total once before, but I couldn’t count it as such – one winner at Maryborough in the afternoon and then four that night at a Melton fixture,” he said. “I have actually had four a fair few times. But the prospect of five at one meeting has probably never entered my head.” The popular reinsman said Shepparton had been something of a happy hunting ground for him in recent seasons. “I’ve been getting heaps of support from trainers up that way and I really enjoy driving on the track. Besides I have lots of friends in the area so it’s great to get up there and see them as well.” The Caldow winning run started with Keith Cotchin four-year-old Karlos (Sportwriter-Kept For Pleasure (Safely Kept). To watch the video replay of Karlos click here. Then it was an all-the-way win with Sheer Modern (Shadyshark Hanover-Modern Society (Modern Art) for Brent Thomson. To watch the video replay of Sheer Modern click here. After being runner-up in the next, Caldow bounced back for wife Maree when successful with Meziah (Bettors Delight-Mesmerizing (Our Sir Vancelot). To watch the video replay of Meziah click here. He then scored a surprise win with $28 long shot Jackson Square (Bacardi Lindy-Front And Square (Yentls Image) in the Trotters Cup, landing the prize for Mick Blackmore. To watch the video replay of Jackson Square click here. Caldow’s fifth winner kept it an enjoyable family night, providing Maree with a training double courtesy of impressive 2YO colt Andover Sun (Andover Hall-Solar Flash (Sundon USA) in the Abrahams Trotters Classic. To watch the video replay of Andover Sun click here. And for Caldow followers wondering the outcome for a $10 all up bet on Caldow’s five winners?  A handsome $42,077 would have been the result . Landing winners is certainly nothing new for Caldow, who is up there with the best of them. He has driven more than 100 winners in a season on 20 occasions. And no-one would begrudge him his success (despite perhaps the one flaw in his make-up, some may say, of being a fanatical Collingwood supporter in the AFL!). After a horrific road accident in the 1980s claimed the life of his older brother Peter and severely injured his father Jack at Boundary Bend in Victoria’s far north west, John was given the task of running the stables, then located at Echuca. “I was only 13 years old at the time and I now sometimes look back on it and wonder how I did it,” he said. “Mum had to get special leave from the Education Department so I could quit school and takeover the stable duties of preparing a team of 12 horses. “But I couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people.  Probably the one who stood out was Russ Thomson, who had a set-up near Moama at the time, but many others gave us a hand. “I can remember having a team of 20 in work when I was 16 years old as that’s when I applied to get a trots driver’s licence.” The Caldow family relocated to Melton in early 2000 and John has continued to cement himself as one of the true success stories of the industry. Caldow said he was certain to remember his quintet of winners in years to come. “It was actually a huge two days as I went to the football the previous night at the MCG with Glenn Douglas, Mick Stanley and some other diehard Collingwood fans and we got a win over the Bombers,” he said. “You could say I’m on a bit of a roll…!” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Shepparton harness racing trainer-driver Damian “Damo” Wilson was in two minds this week whether to make the demanding road trip to Yarra Valley – but he was glad he did in the end.   “It’s not a big or long trip, probably about 170 Kms, but a major part of it is winding roads and that sort of stuff, so you have to keep your eyes open,” Wilson said.   But Wilson had the last laugh when bay gelding Winkn Nod (Grinfromeartoear-Mull of Kintire (Chandon) impressively took out the Hargreaves Hill Brewery Pace.   Winkn Nod was ignored in betting starting a 20/1 chance. He scored from the Jayne Davies-trained pair Betterman Stride ($2 fav) and British General ($49 chance). The mile rate posted by the winner of 1.55-5 was just 1.4 seconds outside the track record.   “He has turned out to be a good money-spinner for the owners, who are Norm and Joan Visca from Moama,” Wilson said.   Norm Visca       Cobram Harness Racing Club photos   “I reckon I’ve given him 11 starts for two wins and eight placings – the other start he was unplaced after having absolutely no luck at all one day at Cobram,” he said.   “It would be great to have a few more like Winkn Nod because he just gets out there and tries his heart out.”   Wilson said the enthusiastic Viscas were “good people with an unbelievable love for harness racing”.   “They never miss a meeting when I’m racing a horse they own, which is great. And the way they support the industry is really good,” he said.   “Norm has been around horses for years. He usually breeds a few, but, also, if he sees a horse he likes he’ll buy it.   “You would go a long way to find people with more passion than the Viscas, that’s for sure.”   Starting from the outside of the front row, Wilson eased Winkn Nod back at the start. He popped into the one-out, two-back spot, but after a few forward moves by some of his rivals, he was again near last at the bell.   “I wasn’t overly-concerned because they’d set a solid pace up front (quarters of 29.9 and 29.5 for a first half of 57.4) and that suited me. I thought I would have something left in the tank because we hadn’t done much in the run,” Wilson said.   And his assessment was spot on as Winkn Nod worked stylishly around the field down the back straight. The gelding joined Betterman Stride on straightening and the two settled down to a ding- dong battle.   Winkn Nod did best, by a narrow margin, to the cheers of lucky punters who collected $20.90 for a win ticket on the TAB.   View the race replay here   Wilson, who trains on a 50-acre property at Byrneside, near Shepparton, has a team of 10 horses in work.   “I’ve got another racehorse in Miss McManus, who’s also owned by Norm and Joan. She was pretty consistent late last year and early this year,” he said.   “We had two wins and seven placings, but her last few have been a bit below par. They also have a three-year-old and a trotter so hopefully there will be a lot more trips to the races for them.”   Wilson said his trip to Yarra Valley was a rare occurrence.   “I haven’t taken a horse there ever since I’ve had my place at Byrneside, and that’s over two-and-a- half years,” he said.   “I probably shouldn’t leave it that long until my next visit, because the hard drive home didn’t worry me one bit after the win!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Members of the Shepparton Harness Racing Club were among the large contingent of harness racing devotees who attended the Nic Dewar Memorial meeting at the Young Paceway last Wednesday night. Victorian driver Brad Chisholm catapulted to the top of the pointscore ladder to claim this year's crown, winning the final two races with Abitmorebliss and Twentyeightblack. Boorowa's Codi Rauchenberger and Young's Blake Micallef finished second and third respectively after leading the series following wins in the opening two races at Shepparton. Following race five an emotional presentation was made to all drivers involved in the Nic Dewar Memorial. This was the first of what is expected to be an annual event that will be shared by both the Young and Shepparton clubs. The nine race program opened with the running of the Glen Mia Saddlery Pace over 2100m, the well supported Canberra gelding About The Attitude ($2.00) for Will Rixon was able to secure the leading position and was able to lead throughout in an impressive winning mile rate of 1:59.2. Race two was the Nic Dewar Memorial race of the night won by Abitmorebliss trained by Ellen Bartley from Coleambally. Junee postman Bruce Harpley secured a last minute start when his five year old mare Rubbies For Tash ($14) who set a new track record for the distance of 1:54.8, that win will see Bruce head for Menangle on April 13 for the very lucrative final. Attention then turned to the second heat of the Nic Dewar Memorial and local plasterer Glen Wilmot produced a very striking black Courage Under Fire gelding in the shape of Twentyeightblack ($4) to start favourite and take out the race by a convincing margin in a mile rating of 1:58.4 for the 1720m race. Long time supporter of the Young club, Peter Bullock had another welcome win with the evergreen pacer Smack Dab Shannon ($23) driven by Amy Rees in race five. Nic Dewar Memorial drivers, Dewar family members and Young Harness Racing and Harness Racing NSW officials following Wednesday night's presentation. Race six was the Club Menangle Where Horses Fly Heat over the sprint 1720 meters with Rock Bottom ($1.35) sent out a short priced favourite. Stablemate Young Cambo ($5.50) decided he was the better horse on the night by defeating Rock Bottom. The seventh race was another highlight of the night with Freddy Funk ($2.80) trained and driven by Nathan Turnbull, making a fast forward move mid-race to skip away at the bell. In race eight Miss Fifi and driver Ananda Turnbull were joined mid race by second favourite Bustling Barney ($4) who sat outside leader before applying the pressure at the 400m, eventually coming away to secure victory. The final race of the night accommodated the three year old pacers with the well supported Junee pacer Western Secret ($4.80) who firmed dramatically from $14 early fixed odds to run away in the straight capping off another top night of quality racing at the Young Paceway.  The club to conduct another meeting next Tuesday night, March 26. By Stewart Maxwell Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness

With a smile on his face and a small chuckle, Shepparton’s Chris Hazelman says he has a suspicion who may have nominated him for a Medal of the Order of Australia. The former City of Greater Shepparton mayor and current manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District has had an extensive career spanning several community organisations and government roles around Greater Shepparton. With a CV that includes five terms as mayor, treasurer of Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership, board member of Goulburn Valley Health and president of the Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve Committee, it is easy to see why he has been recognised for his service to the community. ‘‘My initial response was, ‘wow, what does it all mean?’ — you get a little bit reflective looking back on your career,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘I felt all the emotions, you feel very humble, proud, appreciative and grateful; it is a fantastic honour to even be considered ... in that reflection time you look back on stuff that you’ve done and the people you have helped.’’ The current City of Greater Shepparton councillor said his stint as mayor from 1998 to 2002 was one of the most rewarding times of his career and one which oversaw significant changes to the municipality. Not long before securing the role, Greater Shepparton City Council was formed after merging the shires of Rodney and Shepparton with the City of Shepparton. This merger brought new structures and processes and was one which involved developing a truly representative group of councillors. ‘‘It was a completely new municipality; there was going to be a lot of capital works infrastructure types of projects ... it was in the time of a new council, it was like a greenfield site merging all of that together,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘It was an amazing experience, I think now, to serve five consecutive terms; I must have been crazy and I would not recommend to anyone to try and do it now.’’ In 2006 Mr Hazelman began working as the manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, a role which he said now filled most of his days. It is evident Mr Hazelman is passionate about his work, speaking highly of the thousands of refugees and migrants he has worked with upon their arrival in Shepparton. ‘‘The challenges there and the people you’re both working with and for is incredibly rewarding,’’ he said. ‘‘Shepparton’s been a destination point for non-traditional migration ever since the irrigation system started here ... In its demographics Shepparton is unique for a conventional regional city, you won’t find another one with the cultural diversity for comparison that we’ve got.’’ With an extensive list of community positions, including president of the Shepparton Harness Racing Club and time spent on the board of Word and Mouth, The Community Fund Goulburn Valley and Fairley Leadership Program, it is evident Mr Hazelman values his time in the community. He said Shepparton’s disadvantage due to a lack of state and federal resources had driven a number of his community projects, and stressed the importance of reducing the imbalance between regional towns. ‘‘Projects and issues that I have been involved in over the years have been driven by the fact that the perception, if not the reality, is Shepparton has not got its fair share of state or federal resources,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘We’ve been disadvantaged, I think that’s been a motivating factor for a number of things I’ve been involved with — to try and redress that imbalance — sometimes successfully, sometimes not.’’ Receiving life membership at Tallygaroopna Cricket Club in 2005 and a recipient of the Centenary Medal for the City of Greater Shepparton in 2001, Mr Hazelman is passionate about community work and volunteering. He encouraged people to get involved with their local sporting clubs and smaller organisations which continually struggle to find support. While reflecting on his most recent achievement, Mr Hazelman said he could name a number of local leaders who deserved to be recognised, stating the experience had encouraged him to rethink our culture of acknowledgement. ‘‘When I got notified I could think of a dozen people I could name that deserve to be recognised, and you think, ‘oh well, there’s probably the scope there to develop a culture of community recognition’,’’ he said. ‘‘We do it on a local level through the local Citizen of the Year awards, but more broadly we don’t seem to recognise people through the Australian Honours System the way we possibly could.’’ By Liz Mellino Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

Despite coming off second best more times than he’d like to remember, Shepparton harness racing trainer-driver Danny Ferris has the utmost respect for pacer Dayseedee. “She has kicked me out of the cart, smashed me up, knocked me down and probably done all she can, but when I look at my stopwatch after a track workout, all is forgiven,” Ferris says. Dayseedee (Artistic Fella-Pebbles Stride (Somebeachsomewhere) gave a glimpse of her potential with a sparkling win first-up from a spell at Cobram on Monday in the De Maria Mitsubishi C0 Pace. The four-year-old mare was completely ignored in betting starting at over 50/1, but was sent forward by Ferris at the start.  From that point, she was never going to lose. Dayseedee rated a tick over 1.57 for the short 1670m trip, with splits of 27.8, 31.3, 29.3 and down to the wire in 29. Ferris, who has been dabbling with horses on-and-off for the past 45 years, predicts a bright future for Dayseedee. “She has got so much high speed, but on the other side of the coin she’s a horse with a hot temper!” Ferris said. “We started racing her as a 3yo in December 2017.  She didn’t have a lot of luck with barrier draws or in her races, but we did score an all-the-way win at Echuca in March last year,” he said. “After two more unplaced runs we decided to tip her out. She had become sour and she was far from happy, so we gave her a good six- or seven-month spell.” Ferris said the break “did her the world of good” and her work had been awesome leading up to her racetrack return. “Her first run back was supposed to be at Kilmore on January 10, but after breaking free from me at the course, she bolted and ended up stuck over a rail,” he said. “There were moments where I thought we were going to have a horse with a broken back leg as it was somehow wrapped around an upright pipe. “Thankfully (leading Victorian driver) Greg Sugars came to our aid, wriggled in under her and got the leg free using a lead rope. “I have no doubts that had she lashed out, we were in big trouble. But the horsemanship shown by Greg is something we’ll never forget.” Ferris, of Congupna, near Shepparton, races Dayseedee with his wife Dianne. “I work as a farmhand on a huge 10,000-acre property, doing sheep and cropping but fortunately I find enough time to train a few pacers,” he said. “Over the years there have been times when I haven’t raced that many, but I’ve always had a horse or two around the place.” The likeable hobby trainer obtained his trainer-driver license as a teenager and did a stint with the legendary Gordon Rothacker at his Doreen property. Ferris said he learnt much from the master horseman during his nine years with Rothacker. “Over the years I’ve also worked out never to rely on horses to make a living, so I’ve had that many other jobs I’ve lost count! There was dairy farming, looking after cattle, working at a horse stud, casual milking, I was employed at a car yard, and probably quite a few other jobs,” he said. However, Ferris did say harness racing had been good to him as he enjoyed success with Victory Joe who won seven races as a youngster in the 1980s, and in later years, Barefoot Sally, who raced through her classes. “Barefoot Sally was extraordinary going from a maiden to a M4 in 34 starts, winning 12 races for us a couple of seasons back,” he said. “I suppose I’ve drifted out of the sport a bit when I found my heart wasn’t in it, but my enthusiasm is sky high at the moment!” Ferris said a lot of hard work goes into training horses and he’s learnt to “really appreciate it when a win comes along”. “Hopefully Dayseedee can give us heaps more appreciation over the next few months!” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness racing trainers have their eyes fixed firmly on the prize for the annual Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, one of the most exciting country cup races in regional Victoria. Running on Saturday night, January 12 at the Shepparton Harness Racing Club, the first race commences at 6:30pm with gates opening from around 4:30pm onwards. Shepparton Harness Racing Club manager, Ian McDonald said, “This year there is lots of off-the-track entertainment, with live music, jumping castles, fashions on the field and free giveaways for both kids and adults. “Only the best horses can win a Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup and many of our previous winners have gone on to win the Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup or Interdominion. “Courtesy buses will run from most hotels in Mooroopna or Shepparton, which is a great added bonus for those looking for a good time.” The cup will run at Kialla Raceway, Melbourne Road, Kialla. You can contact the club on 0488 231 403 or visit www.sheppartonhrc.com.au for more details. By Ash Beks Reprinted with permission of The Adviser

Shepparton Harness Racing Club has paid tribute to Ben O'Donoghue, who passed on Monday. Mr O'Donoghue served as President of Shepparton Harness Racing club from 1996 until 1999. He remained on the committee until 2002 and is a life member of the Shepparton club. Mr O'Donoghue was heavily involved in the redevelopment of the Shepparton harness racing complex. Upon arriving in Victoria, he and his family set up Morley Park, which is now a harness racing stud run by his son, Stephen. Mr O'Donoghue is survived by his wife Anne, eight children, their partners and grandchildren. HRV sends its condolences to Mr O'Donoghue's family and friends.   Harness Racing Victoria

Breeders Crown champion Nostra Villa won’t be back to defend her title later this month. Trainer Emma Stewart said last season’s juvenile pacing filly final winner was feeling the effects of a hard season so has gone for a spell. "She has done a lot of hard racing and it was time for her to have a break,” said Stewart. That still leaves Stewart with four fillies in the three-year-old series as she charges toward the culminaton of her record-breaking season, with the Victorian heats for the three-year-old fillies at Shepparton on Thursday night. Even without Nostra Villa the stable has the warm favourite for the series in Speak No Evil, who is rated the stable’s best chance of the whole Breeders Crown, even after drawing the outside of the front line in her heat on Thursday. “She has gone from strength to strength,” says Stewart. “She trialed really well last week and has come on from the Vicbred win so she is clearly the best of our chances in her division and probably in the overall two and three-year-old series.” The Victorian fillies heats kick off with the juveniles at Ballarat tonight and Stewart has Vicbred quinellamates Kualoa and Two Times Bettor in the same heat. “They seem to be doing that a lot these days, putting the two good stablemates in the same heat and I think they should be split. “But they are both ready to go good races. Kualoa is the one to beat this week and, and this stage, the best of our chances in the final.” The glamour boys of the freshman division have their turn at Kilmore on Wednesday night with Vicbred winner Centanario up against his runner-up on that occasion in Nostra Ideal and Bathurst Gold Crown winner College Chapel. An interesting Victorian debutant is Whereyabinboppin, who has joined the in-form Tim Butt stable after being unbeaten in three starts. Stewart dominates the other heat with Hurricane Harley and Hardhitter going head to head. Michael Guerin

A sharp trial has confirmed plans for a shot at the Queensland Derby. Victorian three-year-old Code Bailey produced a resounding performance to win a public trial last night (Thursday) at Shepparton as he readies himself for the Blue Riband classic at Albion Park on July 21. The Christian Cullen colt led throughout in the 2190m workout and rated 1:57.9 while covering his final half in 55.2 seconds. “It was a nice effort given where he’s at with his fitness and he went through his gears nicely, I’m looking at starting him down here next week before heading north.” Pike said. Code Bailey has not raced since winning at Shepparton on May 16. A winner of 8 of his 14 starts this season, trainer Ross Pike is eyeing the Sunshine State winter carnival features in the coming weeks. Targets will include the Gr.3 $30,540 South East Derby on July 14 before tackling the Gr.2 $75,540 Queensland Derby the following week. Chris Barsby

Since being claimed for just $11,000, Im The Boss has secured harness racing connections in excess of $111,000 in seven months. The six-year-old’s remarkable rise continued at Shepparton last night in the $50,000 Group 11 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup as the curtain came down on a successful 2017-18 Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship. Im The Boss set a new Shepparton record for the 2690m trip, the David Aiken-trained pacer overhauling champion stablemate Lennytheshark in the shadows of the post for a 1.5m win in a blistering mile rate of 1:56.1. An elated Swedish monte rider turned reinswoman Kima Frenning couldn’t speak higher of her champ post-race. “I just don’t know what to say,” she said. “To be able to run down a horse like Lennytheshark on a horse we claimed for $11,000 … he’s just the biggest fighter of all time. I’ve never driven a horse who tries as hard as him. It’s ridiculous.” Expected by many to be in front shortly after the start, Frenning’s plan A was thrown out of the cart when Nathan Jack and Cruz Bromac crossed from gate seven. Im The Boss trailed Cruz Bromac in the box seat until just inside the 400m when Lennytheshark, who had been punching the breeze for the previous mile, was driven to the front by David Aiken. Im The Boss got off the pegs and tracked his more celebrated stablemate – who literally had a huge tent full of supporters cheering him on – until the home straight when Frenning peeled to the outside. To use a cliché, Lennytheshark was as brave as Lennytheshark, fighting on like Lennytheshark right to the wire. But in the last 50m his death-seating efforts took effect and Im The Boss capitalised. The last quarter was in fact the slowest section of the race at 30.8secs, a rip-roaring 27.1secs down the back ensuring it game-on a fair way out. “I’m shaking my head. Even from Mildura, I was very edgy coming on to the track tonight – it’s always very nerve-racking against the good horses. You just hope you’re good enough and this horse does not stop trying,” Frenning said. And so the Inter Dominion discussion begins. With Victoria hosting the big dance for the first time in 10 years, it’s expected Im The Boss will target the riches. Since joining the Aiken camp in September last year, the six-year-old by Major In Art (out of Golden Navajo) has shown he’s adept at backing up. He won the Cobram Cup two days after his previous start, and followed a track record-breaking Mildura Cup heat win with a brutal victory in the Group 2 Final four days later. Meanwhile, Lennytheshark lost no admirers whatsoever. In fact, the superstar reached another career milestone, taking his career earnings past the $3 million mark by finishing second. Brallos Pass ran a super race for third, with Ellen Tormey in the sulky, narrowly defeating Cruz Bromac. Earlier Rickie Alchin trained and drove Tough Monarch to win the Alabar Shepparton Trotters Cup by 12.3m over runner-up Regal Pepperell, with Father Christmas third in 2:02.9. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

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 TAB.com.au 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

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