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Victorian harness racing trainer David Aiken will launch a three-pronged attack on the upcoming Summer of Glory starting with Saturday night’s Shepparton meeting. Aiken has a trio of stable stars resuming, with Lennytheshark first-up in the Group Two Cup, Spidergirl in the Group Three George Gath and Eljaykay Phoenix launching his three-year-old career in the Saddleworld Trot. Lennytheshark famously had Guaranteed’s measure last time in when he proved too good for the Stewart-trained sensation in the Vicbred Super Series Final for four-year-olds last July. “He’s had three trials,” Aiken said. “Last week we stepped him up a bit and he trialled very good with a fast last half. He just needs the racing now. “We would have liked another run or two before the Victoria Cup, but it just didn’t work out that way.” Aiken stated he has no concerns with Lennytheshark making his debut from the tapes. The son of Four Starzzz Shark will begin from three. “He takes things in his stride. He’s a good gaited horse,” Aiken said. He’s been good at the trials from the stand and he’s had some practice at home.” Lennytheshark has won 15 of his 30 starts, including his last seven outings. Spidergirl will resume over 2190 metres, with the five-year-old’s connections hoping she can reach the dizzy heights of her 2014 preparation when she won the Breeders’ Crown and Vicbred Finals. “Her work’s been good and she’ll improve with racing,” Aiken said. “She’s still on the big side, but we’re pretty happy with where she’s at.” Last season’s juvenile trotting champion Eljaykay Phoenix will begin from the pole in his racing return. The winner of eight of his 10 starts, Eljaykay Phoenix is primed for a first-up tilt according to Aiken. “It’s great to have him back,” Aiken declared. “He’s had two trials and won both of them. This looks a suitable race for him and we’ll go into the race pretty confident.” HRV Media

Harness Racing Victoria was thrilled with the industry’s response to today’s Echuca dispersal sale. Industry people from all parts of Victoria heeded the call to ensure numerous standardbred horses – the majority of which were young, unraced and unnamed – were given the opportunity to find a new home. Harness Racing Victoria also took phone calls and emails from people interstate eager to bid for horses. Shepparton Harness Racing Club racing and operations manager Ian McDonald praised the sport’s rank and file members for their extraordinary turnout at the Echuca sale yards. “I’d say there were about 120 genuine harness racing folk there,” he said. “There were floats everywhere. There were far more floats than there were horses. “It was absolutely fantastic; an incredible call to arms from the industry and a very special day.” Harness Racing Victoria’s Raceapacer ownership program purchased two of the unnamed horses, which will now get their chance to race in the Raceapacer colours. “The interaction between our participants was pretty special. To see people giving each other the nod saying “that’s yours” and not bidding against another genuine harness person was just very special,” McDonald said. Harness Racing Victoria CEO John Anderson was thrilled with the response to the sale. “I am absolutely rapt. From what I am told there was a tremendous industry spirit present and I’m very proud of everyone involved,” Mr Anderson said. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The Shepparton Harness Racing Club, in conjunction with Tabcorp Park Melton and Ballarat, will again conduct their annual Young Drivers Challenge over three meetings, kicking off on Thursday May 29. The two races involved on the card will be the C2 to C3 for four-year-old and older as well as the C1 for four-year-old and older horses with drivers to be randomly allocated from the list of outstanding junior talents. Josh Aiken, Josh Duggan, Haydon Gray, Jason Lee and Zac Phillips will be representing their home state while interlopers Aaron Bain (SA), Aiden De Campo (WA), Dylan Ford (Tas), Todd McCarthy (NSW) and Narissa McMullen (QLD) all converge to try and take the title. In an exciting new turn for the competition, the young drivers will not only compete in two penalty free races at Shepparton, they will also take centre stage at Tabcorp Park Melton the following night. That will be followed up by the chance to compete on one of Victoria’s most popular tracks, Bray Raceway Ballarat the very next night. Shepparton Harness Racing Club Secretary/Manager Ian McDonald was thrilled with the opportunity being provided to those driving. “I think we’ve assembled the best young driving talent in Australia and it’s just terrific to see them get the opportunity to compete in the Young Drivers Challenge,” McDonald said. “This year we’ve added races at Melton and Ballarat to spice things up and it will give all the drivers a chance to drive on one of the biggest stages in the sport. “The fact that the winner of each of the races won’t incur a handicapping penalty just gives trainers the best opportunity to race for good prizemoney.” For more information visit the meeting calendar for the Shepparton meeting calendar here, the Melton meeting calendar here and finally for more on the Ballarat leg, click here. by HRV Media

The Shepparton trots will come to life next Wednesday night as the town is flooded by one of the highlights of the social calendar. Thousands of Victorian tennis players will descend on the trotting stronghold for a week of social and sporting activities in the ‘Country Week’ event. One of those activities will be to head out to the race meeting on Wednesday night and the club has stepped in to offer a few incentives for heading out. “We are putting together a fun-filled night with AFL and TV star legend Billy Brownless coming out to spin his famous wheel and give prizes out to the crowd,” Club secretary Ian McDonald said. “There will also be a punters club so we can hopefully turn a profit for those who might not be across the form.” With one of the biggest crowds of the year expected at the event, the locals won’t be missing out either with the huge Shepparton Cup night fresh in the memory bank. For more information on the night you can call the club on (03) 5823 1403. Harness Racing Victoria

In a bygone era – the Shepparton Gold Cup was one of the most sought after prizes in Victorian provincial harness racing. Champions the calibre of Raiarmagh Pool, Bold David, Just Too Good, Royal Gaze, Popular Alm and Quite Famous just to name a few not only contested the race, but etched their name into the record books by winning in front of capacity crowds, while in more recent times horses such as Sokyola, Sting Lika Bee and Mr Feelgood have greeted the judge. The race appeared to lose its identity for a period of time, but is now back to where it once belonged and a terrific field lined up at the Kialla Racing Complex on Saturday January 18 for the 2014 version – a Group 2 event for M0 or better class horses over 2690 metres sponsored by Neatline Homes– the victor being Cranbourne Cup winner Gold Ace for NSW based Belinda and Luke McCarthy. In what was one of the most exciting cups this season, Smudge Bromac one of three David Aiken trained runners handed up to Bitobliss (20 metres) shortly after the start, with The Gold Ace (20 metres) circling to race in the open being followed up by the phenomenal Smoken Up (30 metres) who assumed control mid-race. While all this was going on, Restrepo (10 metres) was enjoying the run of the race just off the speed. The favourite Bendigo Cup winner Im Corzin Terror was slowly away from 10 metres settling closer to last than first, while Scandalman having his first try from the tapes missed away hopelessly and was tailed off. When Luke McCarthy put his foot to the floor with The Gold Ace in an effort to cross Smoken Up in the last lap, the tempo was hectic and it appeared that the likes of Bitobliss and Restrepo could fight out the finish, however it was Smoken Up showing his “never say die” attitude holding a slender margin all the way up the running only to be bloused in the last stride by a game The Gold Ace, with Restrepo third – the sectional times for the last mile being 30, 32, 27.3 and 28.3 seconds – the margins being a head by a half neck in a mile rate of 2-00.6. A prolific winning intact son of Bettors Delight and Hill Of Gold, The Gold Ace has raced only 52 times for 20 wins and 12 placings and in all probability will now go straight into the A.G. Hunter Cup in two weeks time. by Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

A HOT field of in-form pacers will come together for the running of the Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup on Saturday night. The headline act for the stand-start Group 2 feature will be backmarker Smoken Up after his brave second to Caribbean Blaster in last Saturday night's Group 1 SA Cup. Shooting for an unprecedented five SA Cup wins, Smoken Up was beaten a head by Andy Gath-trained Caribbean Blaster but lost no admirers after the run. Justice, originally from South Australia, said Smoken Up was brave in defeat. "The winner got a metre ahead on the home turn when I locked wheels with the one on the inside and Smoken Up fought back to be beaten a head at the end. In his mind he won," Justice said. "The 30m (back-mark handicap) is a bit tough on him but he's been racing really well and if he has to go to this race to get a start in the Hunter Cup, that's what we'll do. With how he begins, he could easily win the Hunter Cup." Justice said Smoken Up's huge fan base cheered him off the track last weekend despite getting beaten. "The committee wanted me to do another couple of laps but I said I couldn't because I didn't win the race. It's for the winner to be out there after the race," he said. Avenel trainer David Aiken will have three runners in the Shepparton Cup, Wartime Sweetheart, Smudge Bromac and Composed. All three will start from the front line. Wartime Sweetheart ran second to Im Corzin Terror in the Bendigo Cup last weekend and Aiken said his seven-year-old could run another big race. "He's flying, we're rapt with how he's going," he said. "Both he and Smudge Bromac can be a bit risky from the stand. I'd probably lean towards Wartime Sweetheart as my best chance though because he's going a bit better at the moment." Trainer-driver Scott Stewart will be hoping Bitobliss's last-start flop in the Bendigo Cup was a mere apparition, with the star pacer dropping out sharply in the straight after looking a chance heading off the back. Alongside Bitobliss behind the 20m tape will be New South Welsh raider The Gold Ace from the powerful Cobbitty stable of Luke and Belinda McCarthy. The Gold Ace, who two starts back won the Cranbourne Cup, ran sixth last time out in the Victoria Cup after leading. Washmepockets, in-form Scandalman, Restrepo and up-and-coming star and last-start Bendigo Cup winner Im Corzin Terror are the other Shepparton Cup combatants. The feature for the trotters on Shepparton Cup night will be the Group 3 George Gath over 2190m, which pits the two horses who finished one-two in the Maori Mile last Saturday, My High Expectations and Kyvalley Blur, back against one another. Cold Sister has drawn three for the event after an unlucky run in transit last week, while veteran Earl Of Mot - a stablemate of Smoken Up - has drawn outside the front row in what will be his 207th and most likely final start. "I just can't get a good draw with him," Justice said. "This will most likely be swansong, I'd say. We'll probably retire him afterwards. He's been a grand old horse." Shepparton Cup night kicks off at 6.25pm. By Cody Winnell [Harness Racing Victoria]  

Long Forest husband and wife Andy & Kate Gath back home after a week in Christchurch with Caribbean Blaster competing at the New Zealand Cup Carnival, took the honours at the Shepparton meeting held on Tuesday November 19 with a stable double – Jeremes Jet/Millpac Maid colt Gowan Brae taking the Elite Horse Transport 3-Y-0 Pace over 2190 metres and 6-Y-0 Yankee Paco/Katie Daley mare Jumeirah Jane the Hunter Home Hardware Trotters Handicap for T0 class over the same journey. Gowan Brae raced by Greg Brodie of Courage Under Fire fame, was first up since April and led throughout from the pole to easily account for the first starter Major Crocker off a three wide trail from near last in the final circuit on the back of the third placegetter Provocatator (one/one) in the last lap. The mile rate 1-59.3. Much improved mare Jumeirah Jane raced by Bullengarook’s Wendy Harrison in partnership with mother Jean Johnstone, was probably the most popular winner on the night when making her 16th appearance at the races. Starting from barrier three, Jumeirah Jane crossed Giacomo inside her shortly after the start and was always travelling boldly under a tight rein. Showing no signs of stopping, Jumeirah Jane scored by 7.7 metres in a rate of 2-06.1 over Thumbs Up Jerry (three back the markers) and the roughie Unsolved Mystery from last. The Goulburn Valley, Bendigo and Echuca areas provided five winners on the program. Moama breeder/owner/trainer/driver Mal Whiteford’s 4-Y-0 Artesian/Kamwood Toy mare Kamwood Dawn snared the Quest Shepparton Pace for C0 class over 1690 metres in a rate of 1-57.8. Given the run of the race from gate three trailing the pacemaker Art De Triumph (gate five), Kamwood Dawn was taken away from the markers on straightening and finished best to score by a half neck from the leader, with Rosemary Lane third after following the pair. Shepparton’s Patrick Ryan combined with Chris Alford to land the Neatline Homes Pace (first division) for C0 class over 1690 metres with 4-Y-0 Rollon Bigred/Chocaholic entire Turnoffate, Raced by Kevin Riseley’s Sheron Park Pty Ltd, Turnoffate despite racing in the open, prevailed by a half head in 1-57.6 in defeating Lets Go Rabbitoh which followed him all of the way. Tuxedo Toff (one/two) finished third after joining the leaders approaching the home turn. Goornong trainer Peter Salathiel joined forces with daughter Katrina to capture the Grenada Park Standardbreds Pacers Handicap for C1 or better class over 2190 metres with 4-Y-0 Courage Under Fire/Be All Dilinger mare Cheval Charette which did her early racing in King Island. Jumping straight to the front from the pole as the tapes released, Cheval Charette was rated to perfection, running out an easy 8 metre victor in 2-02.3 from a death-seating Illawong Bill and Junie Jasper which trailed the winner. Popular local trainer Geoff (Marto) Martin took advantage of a concession for Bolinda’s Josh Duggan to land the Ausure Insurance Brokers Pace for C1 class over 1690 metres with ex-NSW Real Desire/Nepeans Last Bird 5-Y-0 gelding Mister Desirable, leading for the majority of the journey to gain the day in advance of Saint Liliana (one/one) which joined the winner on the home turn, with Tom Grainger third. The mile rate 1-59.8. Kyabram trainer Greg Caldwell’s honest 4-Y-0 Union Guy/Orta Be Ruthless gelding Ortabe Good saluted the judge in the Neatline Homes Pace (second division) with Tooleen reinsman Nigel Milne in the sulky. Given a cosy trip three back in the moving line from gate three with the polemarker Kentucky Sands leading, Ortabe Good ran home strongly off a three wide trail last lap to gain the day by 4 metres in advance of Donated which raced in the open from the bell, with The Muse (one/one) third. The mile rate 1-58.9. Other winners on the nine event card were : Jingling Silver (Paul Davies – Baddaginnie) with Daryl Douglas in the sulky and Our Warwick Lad (David Aiken – Avenel) and Nathan Jack. Len Baker

The Shepparton Harness Racing Club is thrilled to announce a new sponsorship agreement with national General Insurance Broker, Ausure Insurance Brokers, and highly respected Goulburn Valley breeder Helen Head. For Ausure Insurance Brokers it is their first foray into Harness racing sponsorship. Ausure Insurance Brokers are the new naming right sponsors for the two-year-old colts and fillies classics to be conducted on Shepparton Cup night Saturday, January 18, 2014. These two events have been included in the program to replace the previous Lombo Series finals. One of the fastest growing insurance brokerage firms in Australia, Ausure Insurance Brokers is a privately owned organisation of motivated, creative insurance experts who collectively have expertise in all areas of business, equine, sporting and personal general insurance. Each Ausure Insurance Broking Office is owned and managed by individually selected authorised representatives who are positioned to provide localised and personal service. These brokers are backed by the financial strength and knowledge of the Ausure Insurance Broking network. Shepparton HRC chairman Chris Hazelman said that the club was indeed fortunate to have such a well-respected company sponsoring these two feature classics as it gave the club the scope to raise the stakes for the two events to $15,000. Each year the two-year-old features create enormous interest and have been an integral part of the Cup program. The club encourages all industry participants to look to Dennis Rebbeck (DPR Insurance Brokers – Euroa) or Lindsay Rankin (Ausure Insurance Brokers – Echuca) of the Ausure Insurance Brokers network for any of their personal or business insurance needs. The sponsorship agreement with Helen Head is inclusive of an open feature event for three-year-olds on Shepparton Cup night that will perpetuate the memory of her late husband, Graham Head. All industry participants will be well aware of the impact that Grenada Park Standardbreds has had within the breeding industry and it is very fitting that the event to be known as the Graham Head Memorial will be conducted at the club’s feature night of the year, Chris Hazelman said. Grenada Park principal Helen Head is thrilled to be sponsoring the Shepparton Harness Racing Club and the feature event for three-year-olds. The sponsorship allows the club to boost the stakes for that event to $15,000. Helen Head said that as a commercial yearling producer, Grenada Park Standardbreds aim to produce quality racing horses by maintaining a select band of quality broodmares, by utilizing the best commercial stallions, and then by carefully raising and conditioning their youngsters.   “The majority of our horses are destined for the yearling sales; however we occasionally have yearlings or broken-in horses available for private sale,” Head said. Manna Lodge Farm, the home of Grenada Park Standardbreds, is in the heart of the Goulburn Valley, five minutes from the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital. Manna Lodge comprises approximately 300 acres, providing both irrigated and dry grazing for mares and foals. Facilities include floodlit foaling paddocks, sheltered sand yards for confinement of wet mares with foals at foot, steel yards and breeding barn with wet lab, stable complex and horse-walker. The Shepparton Harness Racing Club would like all breeders to consider the wonderful facilities and level of expertise available at Grenada Park when breeding or looking for your next superstar. By Peter Wharton  

The two mandatory harness racing meetings were held in Victoria on Thursday July 11, with Shepparton racing during the afternoon and Ballarat at night.

Avenel harness racing trainer Wayne Potter enjoyed a happy night at Shepparton on Saturday, providing a stable double with exciting 4-Y-0 American Ideal/Elegant Falcon gelding Authorized taking the Fords Coach Travel / GV Plumbing Pace Final for C1 class over 1690 metres and American Ideal/Bring Her Back filly Sophies Ideal the Sherbourne Terrace Pacefor non winners over the same journey.

The Shepparton harness racing meeting on Tuesday June 11 was highlighted by the Vicbred Super Series sponsored by Empire Stallions, with the second round heats programmed for 2-Y-0 Colts & Geldings, 2-Y-0 Fillies, 3-Y-0 Filles and 3-Y-0 Colts & Geldings, all over 2190 metres.

The mandatory two meeting Thursday took place on May 16, with Shepparton harness racing in the afternoon and Bendigo at night.

The Shepparton harness racing meeting on Saturday May 11 was huge for the Bolinda/ Monegeetta area, with Lisa and David Miles almost pulling off the quaddie only to be stopped by neighbour Paul Males.

Bolinda harness racing trainer Paul Males was victorious with 7-Y-0 Brioso Hanover/All Fire N Ace mare Dusty Smiles in the True Value Solar Pace for C1 class over 1690 metres at Shepparton on Tuesday April 23.

There were two harness racing meetings held in Victoria on Wednesday April 17 with Shepparton racing during the afternoon and Bendigo at night, the highlight being heats of the 2013 Goulburn Valley & Central Victoria Young Drivers Challenge.

The second division of the Lyn McPherson Breed For Speed Silver and Gold Series were finalized at Shepparton on Saturday March 16, with Avenel harness racing mentor David Aiken taking both races.

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