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When it comes to being patient, Shepparton-based harness racing hobby trainer Tony Barca certainly knows all about that. Barca got the money recently at Swan Hill with eight-year-old mare Hypervigilant. It was her first victory since Echuca on June 30, 2016 - which equates to 55 starts ago and 30 months. "She is owned by our daughter Marianne and this time in she has been so consistent with a second, and two third placings," Barca said. "It's the first time we've ever raced a horse at Swan Hill and it was good to have success because it was a $10,000 Alabar Vicbred Platinum Country Series Final," Barca said. "We always raced at Nyah plenty of times before it was closed and moved to Swan Hill," he said. Barca said he was pleased with Hypervigilant (Badlands Hanover-Fairy Tales (Torado Hanover)when she ran third in a qualifying heat at Gunbower. "We got caught in the death-seat, but she did her best and went down by two metres in a time of 1.58-9. Her two other races after having a short let-up were pleasing with a second and then a third, both at Shepparton." Watch the video click here! Hypervigilant now has three wins and 17 placings for over $36,000. Ace reinswoman Laura Crossland drove the mare to the Swan Hill victory. "Marianne bought her off well-known breeders in Jack and Luke Primmer. She won as a three-year-old and then as a four-year-old, but things went amiss for a bit from there. Hopefully she's now back on track." Tony Barca                     (Cobram HRC photo) Barca, who has been involved in the sport for over 40 years, said he became interested while being a dairy farmer at Undera. "Back in those days, most of the dairy farmers had a horse," he said. "I always had ponies before getting involved in harness racing and since then I've been a breeder, owner, trainer and driver. "I bred my own horses for years and years and enjoyed some success. I gave away the driving part about 10 years ago when I had to have an operation on both shoulders, from years of doing heavy, physical work. "Marianne used to drive as well. She didn't have all that many goes and the closest she got was a third placing. She is still disappointed she didn't get a win. In the end, a back operation put paid to her driving career." Barca has a two-year-old which he is pinning his hopes on. "It's my 79th birthday next week. I reckon I've been saying for several years now that I've been going to give it up," he said. "Anyway, when the two-year-old finishes it's career, that will be the day I do too!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Melton-based harness racing legend Lance Justice headed north this week-and went home with a training double. Justice made the four-hour trek to Swan Hill on Tuesday night and, apart from the two victories, also collected two runner-up prizes. "It was probably only the third time I've ever been up there to race, but each time I've been lucky enough to get a winner. Apart from being a big trip, I really like the track and there's good people on the committee," Justice said. "I must admit that I do always try and take up a nice horse. I think some of my previous wins have been with Lov e Ina Chevy and maybe Phil Monty," he said. While Justice this time took the reins with Miss Victoria (Shadow Play-Waltzing Matilda (Presidential Ball) to win the Toshiba Air Conditioning Pace, he engaged in-form Heathcote reinswoman Tayla French on Justice Served (Rock N Roll Heaven-Keepers Daughter (Ace's N Sevens),and the pair got the money in the Braemar Air Conditioning Pace. Justice now has driven a massive 3432 winners. Justice said Miss Victoria (5/1), who is expected to be offered for sale soon, was a regular star performer at home. "If she ever takes her trackwork to the races, she will be something real special. She just shuts off and looks like she's struggling, but, in reality, she has plenty left," he said. "The racing style at Melton probably doesn't suit her because she has to work hard early, and then later is called on to rally again. The smaller country tracks are right up her alley. "At Swan Hill, her first half was 59.8 and then her closing quarters were 28 and 29. She will do that any day of the week." The second leg of the Justice training double was five-year-old gelding Justice Served, who rated just over a second off the track record. "He certainly gave Tayla a few anxious moments. He's such a free rolling horse, who can get up on the bit and pull very hard," Justice said. "The horse has done it to me. I told Tayla to let him bowl along and drive him like he's a horse with a bit of credit. He was getting tired towards the end, but got there okay." French, who gets a concession claim, is driving in sensational form at the moment. She also went home with a driving double, after landing Karlos (Sportswriter-Kept For Pleasure (Safely Kept) for Keith Cotchin at 15/1. Justice combined with super horse Smoken Up (Tinted Cloud-Carnlough Bay (Mark Lobell) to enthrall harness racing fans around the world during a dominant period of 2007 to 2014. After teaming up to win their first 10 starts on end, the pair went on to record a further 64 breath-taking victories in Australia and New Zealand for earnings of over $3.6 million. Smoken Up, fondly known as Trigger, had his swansong run at Melton on Sept 6, 2014-he ran 4th to Exciteusinthecity. Lance Justice and his old mate “Trigger” out for a jog Justice recently hinted he too might join his mate in retirement, at least from driving, with injuries starting to catch up with him. "I'm suffering aches and pains from race falls over the years and I have pretty severe arthritis. I've twice broken both legs in smashes-one still has 12 screws in it, while the other has only two screws, but a plate as well," he said. "My hip plays up badly now and again and I haven't got much feeling in one foot, so I think the signs are there that I haven't got all that much longer in my race driving career. But I'm not complaining because I've had a fantastic time in the sport." Justice has again had the call up in this Friday coveted night's Invitational Driver's race at Bendigo - finishing second to the race's home-town legend Brian Gath. "I've only competed in it once before and that was last year. I thought I had it wrapped up for the win and along come B. Gath down the outside and got me! So, yes, I am hoping to go one better this year!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Star Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One sprouted wings over the final stages of the $35,000 Swan Hill Harness Racing Club's Pacing Cup last night to snatch victory - to the delight of drinkers at the bars. Ace trainer-driver Grant Dixon, who was Australia's leading trainer last year, timed his run to perfection in the long Swan Hill straight to nail Shepparton star San Carlo right on the line. It was a thrilling finish, and an enthralling race, despite the Group Three feature attracting only a small field of five. Owned and bred by industry stalwarts Kevin and Kay Seymour, of Solid Earth Pty Ltd, Colt Thirty One (Mach Three-Charm Personified (Perfect Art) was the toast in each of the three on-course bars. The Seymours promised to shout the bar for an hour after the event if their sensational five-year-old took out the Cup. And more than 175 patrons took up the offer at the club bars! Chris Alford made his intention known from the outset in the Cup on the Emma Stewart-trained Tam Major. Alford gave his pacer full steam when the gate released and booted through to hold out the $1.80 favorite San Carlo (Bec Bartley). San Carlo dropped in behind the leader, and when the tempo eased, the five were in single file for a time. Bartley popped out to step up the pressure with a lap and a half to go and Dixon was at the rear of the field seemingly smoking his pipe. Down the back straight for the final time, Tam Major and San Carlo put the pedal to the metal and the race was on in earnest. The pair were locked together around the home corner, and Dixon had positioned himself perfectly, tracking San Carlo. Just when it looked like the leaders had it between them, Colt Thirty One gathered momentum, then hit top gear when Dixon released the ear plugs half way down the home straight. Watch the race click here! The official margin was a head by 3 metres, in a time of 1:57.5 (for the 2790 metre trip) a second outside Menin Gate's track record. The last half was run in a blistering 55.5 sec. The Swan Hill victory did no harm at all to Colt Thirty One's Interdominion credentials - he looks primed and ready to take on the Kiwis in November and December. A winner of 33 of his 48 starts, Dixon plans to give his pacer a couple more runs to keep him "on song" before heading to New Zealand. "It will most likely be at Melton but I'll have to look at the race programs," he said. Colt Thirty One is ranked two for the ID19 Auckland Alexandra Park, with the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen trained Spankem the top seed. Chris Alford was at his finest with four of the seven winners on the Swan Hill program. He won on Valiant Charger ($1.30 favorite); Ramseys Hope ($4.10); Mass Destruction ($3.30 favorite); and The Storm Inside ($1.04 favorite). The latter trained by Emma Stewart, recorded a new track record for the mile of 1:52.3, slicing more than a second off the previous best. Hoofnote: There was a bitter-sweet side note to Colt Thirty One's victory, with the news that his dam Charm Personified passed away on Thursday. The mare was sold by the Seymours to David Boydell two years ago. Charm Personified developed complications after giving birth to an American Ideal Colt at Egmont Park Stud. Charm Personified left Charming Allie, Charms on a Roll and Colt Thirty One, as well as a Mr Feelgood youngster, a yearling American Ideal colt and the latest day-old colt.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

While many eyes on Friday night will be on the horses ranked second (Colt Thirty One) and eighth (San Carlo) in the ID19 rankings, it’s a third horse whose run in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup could prove his Grand Circuit worth. The rise and rise of Tam Major has been a high point of 2019, having won nine times and placed a further five in 15 starts, with his eighth in the Victoria Cup the first time he’s failed to place since January. “The last six months he’s really come of age and been racing great,” reinsman Chris Alford told Trots Talk ahead of Friday night’s cup, when he will again team with trainer Emma Stewart to shoot for silverware. “His run in the Victoria Cup was a pass mark, his first run against the best ones – sitting midfield it was just so hard to make any ground.” Tomorrow night will again expose him to the best, with New Zealand-bound pair San Carlo and Grand Circuit winner Colt Thirty One drawn directly outside Tam Major. Alford said he’d look to press forward in the 2790-metre cup. “The field’s not long been out and I’ve only had a quick look, but I think I’d like to try and keep the advantage and stay in front of the other two big guns if possible." The champion reinsman has a quality line-up of drives throughout the night, including Stallions Australasia Swan Hill Trotters Cup contestant Mass Destruction, who he told Trots Talk was “a really quality trotter when he’s right”. “He may have just had a couple of niggling little issues, which has caused him to break in his last couple, but with just the two horses off the front hopefully he can just ping to the front and lead them a merry dance.” And he’ll then polish the night off with The Storm Inside in the Kiel Tiling Swan Hill Mile, in which he expects they will be “blazing”. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

NEW Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion markets could be reshaped by a fascinating clash of two Aussie stars in the middle of nowhere. The Swan Hill Cup has attracted just five runners, but they include star Victorian pacer San Carlo and Queensland’s pin-up horse Colt Thirty One. Swan Hill is almost 350kms, or almost a four-hour drive, from Melbourne. San Carlo and Colt Thirty One clashed just a couple of weeks back in the Group 1 Victoria Cup where Colt Thirty One ran a terrific second after a cosy run behind the leader, while San Carlo was the run-of-the-race in fourth spot after sitting parked in record time. It looks certain to be San Carlo’s final lead-up heading to Addington for the NZ Cup on November 12. He then moves to Auckland for the Inter Dominion. Colt Thirty One won’t be at Addington, but connections are super keen on chasing Inter Dominion glory in Auckland. In contrast to the Victoria Cup where Colt Thirty One drew the pole, it’s San Carlo who the barrier draw edge at Swan Hill. He will start from gate four with Colt Thirty One directly on his outside in five. San Carlo certainly has sufficient gate speed to drive through, hold-out Colt Thirty One and lead. The Aussie TAB opened San Carlo at $1.75 and he’s firmed slightly into $1.70 with Colt Thirty One at $3.20. Emma Stewart’s emerging pacer, Tam Major, who won the Breeders Crown 4YO final in August and ran eighth in the Victoria Cup last outing, is right in the market as well at $3.30. He will start from gate three. In another Swan Hill highlight, Stewart’s buzz comeback pacer The Storm Inside should continue his winning way and post a slick time from gate four in the Swan Hill Mile. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER David Aiken will make the final call on a possible Inter Dominion trip for three-time Group 1 winner Big Jack Hammer after he runs at Melton on Saturday night. Big Jack Hammer has gate six in an intriguing Group 3 Chris Howe Trotters’ Cup. Reigning Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley is the one to beat from gate seven, but the likes of Maori Law (three) and Red Hot Tooth (five) also command respect. “He’s 50-50 for Auckland at the moment,” Aiken said. “He’s the only one from our team who could make the trip. “We won’t take Wrappers Delight because he didn’t really handle the four runs in a fortnight during last year’s Melbourne series.” By Adam Hamilton

Ballarat-based harness racing young gun Darby McGuigan has provided a "shot in the arm" for a Sunshine State husband-and-wife team's Victorian campaign. McGuigan, fresh from driving over 100 winners for the first time last season, showed patience personified before timing his run to perfection to land the prize with nine-year-old mare Majestic Whiz at Swan Hill on Tuesday night. Majestic Whiz (Majestic Son-Roydon Whiz (Gee Whiz II), trained by Gavin and Kay Crone, scored by the narrowest of margins in the $7000 Cardigan Boko @ Goodtime Lodge Trotters Handicap. The square-gaiter is one of a handful of horses being campaigned on a "working holiday" down south by the couple. The Crones come from Ebenezer, a small rural township 44 kms from the capital Brisbane with a population of about 300 residents. "It was great because no-one gave us much of a chance, but I can tell you that Gavin and Kay and their friends were very excited," McGuigan said. "The horse was always travelling nicely and had an easy time buried away three back on the pegs. I was able to pop off into the one-out line on the home corner and we just found enough up the home straight to snatch victory," he said. "The race was run at a consistent tempo (of 30.5, 30.9, 29.8 and 29.3) which suited us. But to be honest, I wasn't sure if I had run down the favorite Majestic Devil (Michelle Phillips). It was certainly very close." McGuigan, now into his fourth season of race driving, said he met Gavin at a recent Ballarat meeting and was offered the drive. "I don't mind trotters. I get a few drives on them and I've had a few wins and it's always a good feeling," he said. The victory ended a long streak of being out of the winner's circle for Majestic Whiz. Her previous triumph was at Bankstown (December 22, 2017) and her 57 starts since that success have yielded just 10 placings at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg circuits. The successful Crone clan after their win in the Springboard Series in Queensland in August (photo courtesy Dan Costello) Majestic Whiz is now owned by former Sydney trainer Peter Carson who's a well-known fan of the square-gaiter. The mare started her career in South Australia under the care of the McMillan family, running second on debut at Globe Derby Park in March, 2013, before winning there two weeks later. Five placings followed in the next four months before she found her way to the Melbourne stable of Brent Lilley. After an unplaced effort in the G1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough, Majestic Whiz was produced 18 months later by Carson at Menangle. She had quite a few attempts prior to the Bankstown success. Her next stop was to Ebenezer to the Crone stables, who also share a love for the square-gaiters. The couple had half the field in the Swan Hill event. Apart from winner Majestic Whiz, Kay drove Princess Katerina (3rd) and Gavin piloted Davey's Gift (5th). Also making the Victorian trip is talented three-year-old Armbro Variable-sired gelding Indefensible (Armbro Variable-Mental Power (Its Motor Power). He was an impressive winner back home in the $15,000 Stallions Australasia Springboard 2yo Trotters Final. His three Victorian runs have been good with a third at Maryborough and two fourths at Ballarat. The visitors are hoping Indefensible can breakthrough because he's Vicbred which entitles him to an $7000 bonus in addition to stakemoney. Crone's brother Darryl, who lives in Victoria, owns and bred the horse. McGuigan shared driving honors at Swan Hill with Boris Devcic, of Mildura, both landing doubles. "It was fantastic landing Byalla Boy for dad (Tim). The horse was good recently at Mildura, but disappointed a bit at Yarra Valley, so we were happy to see him bounce back," McGuigan said. "It was his eighth win. Seven of these have been when he's landed in front." And it could have easily been a treble for the youngster who was engaged to drive winner of the opening event Spring Delight for Steven Duffy. "We had a few hiccups on the way and I didn't get to the track on time, so Zac Phillips took my place - and they got the money!" McGuigan said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Resilient Moama harness racing horseman Tony Peacock has never been one to accept defeat. From his wild youthful days of competing in boxing tents at country agriculture shows, to breaking-in a non compos mentos yearling, the veteran is well known to not take a backward step. But without doubt his biggest challenge in his colorful life was 21 months ago when a horrific training track accident at home nearly cost him his life. Peacock was catapulted from the cart and landed vertically on his head. He broke his neck between the C2 and C3 vertebrae—the same spot that stops a person’s nerves and breathing when they are executed by hanging. And now after months and months of hospital care, rehabilitation and support from family and friends, Peacock is back doing what he loves....race driving. The familiar colors of black, gold horseshoes and armbands will be in action Tuesday night at Swan Hill with two stable runners in Majadore (Art Major-Jadore Bromac (McArdle) and Bettor Enforce (Bettors Delight-Their Excuse). “I’m really looking forward to being out on the racetrack again. I had to complete a few drives at the trials, pass medical tests along with a stress test,” Peacock said. “I feel as fit as a fiddle. I’ve actually just finished shoeing Bettor Enforce as I want everything to be spot-on for my return,” he laughed. “She trialed okay against superstar pacer San Carlo at Shepparton recently and I reckon she has a bright future.” Peacock said he had been back in the cart at home for the last six months. He said during his recovery he hadn’t thought much about returning to race driving. “I just ensured I did all the rehab and everything else with the aim of getting my health back to where it was,” Peacock said. “I suppose it was always in the back of my mind to keep my drivers licence if possible. It was probably just in case I find another champion around the corner!” Majadore, a Shepparton winner two starts ago, has drawn barrier 10 in the Ultimate Machete at Alabar Pace (race 4) while last-start Cobram winner Bettor Enforce has come up with the three alley in the Aldebaran Eagle at Aldebaran Park Pace (race 6). After being transferred to the Peacock barn in June, Majadore impressed with a strong second placing at Kilmore and then got the job done at Shepparton. She ran 8th in a fast-run affair at Bendigo last start. Black mare Bettor Enforce, a purchase from New Zealand in May, has two wins (Wagga and Cobram) and a close-up second at Maryborough to her name since crossing the Tasman Sea. Long-time friend and legendary reinsman Brian Gath has been taking care of driving engagements. Despite Peacock hardly being seen in recent years as a driver (he had two drives for one placing in 2015/16 and one unplaced drive in 2016/17), pre-post betting markets have his two horses at Swan Hill among the top fancies. “Yes it’s been awhile. But I’m pretty certain I’ll still know my way around,” he said. For the fields click here. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Several in-form stables are targeting one of country Victoria's richest harness racing series for lowly-assessed pacers. The 2019 Mitavite Northern Region Championship, hosted by far north-west sister clubs Swan Hill, Ouyen and Mildura, gets underway tonight (Wednesday May 22) for C1 to C2 horses. The first round of qualifying heats at Swan Hill boasts representatives from the Shepparton-based stables of Laura Crossland-David Moran and Amanda Turnbull, as well as Glenn Douglas and Chris Svanosio of Bendigo; Leroy and Danny O'Brien of Armstrong; and Melton-based Rob O'Connell. Link: Swan Hill Fields The spotlight then moves to Ouyen on June 2 with a second round of heats, going into a $25,000 final at Mildura on June 6. Douglas, who has won the championship several times in the past, said he always hopes to have an ideal runner up and going for the series each year. "You really don't get these sorts of races for this class of horse - they just don't come along very often," he said. "There's terrific stakemoney up for offer right through the three meetings and the big bonus is the final is worth $25,000 but the winner takes only a country penalty," he said. "The first three heats have attracted some nice horses, who are sure to go onto bigger things. The Swan Hill track is big and spacious so I think there could be some quick times recorded there." Douglas always enjoys heading north from his central Victorian base because he spent four years in the Northern Region in the late 1990s. His career was kick-started training horses for Eric and Heather Anderson, the parents of his wife Julie, who were at the time based in the Robinvale-Euston district. "We had some good times up there before we all up and moved to our present training complex at Bendigo. It just made sense to come down here because there's less travel and we're much closer to many more tracks," he said. Douglas has former Kiwi pacer Dublin Street in the first heat. He said while the mare was honest, she was going to have to produce her very best as The Brooklyn Brawler (David Moran) and Think About Me (Brad Chisholm) were full of class. "This will be a measuring stick for our horse, that's for sure," Douglas said. His next runner is Artistic Saint in the second qualifying heat, owned by enthusiastic Swan Hill horseman and club vice-President Noel Watson. "I'd love to get the money for Noel because he'd be over the moon with a hometown victory. I'll be wearing Noel's race colors, the colors of his beloved St Kilda Football Club, so that would be another reason for him to get excited," Douglas said. "I've actually got a bit of an opinion about this horse. His first start back after five or six months off when he finished third was enormous. "It was a super run because they went quick. He had a few things go wrong in his previous preparation, but they appear to be behind him now, thankfully." The third heat should see smart youngster Im Sir Blake continue on his winning way. World champion reinswoman Kerryn Manning has big wraps on the O'Brien-trained horse, who was sensational in winning during the recent Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. "He's just below the very best going around in Victoria - he's a lovely little fella and I thoroughly enjoy driving him," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Astute South Australian harness racing trainer Greg Scholefield had every reason to show some emotion when cheering home his star pacer Emain Macha in Thursday’s feature race at Swan Hill. Scholefield, who is based at Naracoorte in the south east, spent two years as an Australian soldier nearly 50 years ago as part of the National Service Scheme - compulsory military service for the nation’s young men. Scholefield started his Army training in 1969 at Victoria’s Puckapunyal training facility and later spent time at Singleton Army base, in NSW. So it was a moving win by Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three)  in the Swan Hill RSL Anzac Day Cup. “Every Anzac Day is special. It means something to anyone with a sense of respect and loyalty to our country. I think it’s important to pay tribute to our forebears for the life we are all enjoying,” Scholefield said. It was Scholfield’s first trip to race at the Swan Hill circuit. “I don’t worry too much about travelling because I really enjoy getting around to the different places,” he said. “But Swan Hill is a super track. It’s a credit to the two codes of horse racing that they can share the one complex.” Driven forward from the wide six alley, gun Melbourne reinsman Greg Sugars rated the five-year-old to perfection at ahead of affairs, with an opening half of 59.5 secs, clicking the gelding up a gear in the latter stages with splits of 27.4 and 27.8. Emain Macha’s run equalled the track record and Sugars, who made the three-and-a-half-hour drive for just one engagement for his long-time friend Scholefield, was impressed by the win. “Schoey had the horse spot on and it showed in the times we ran.  I probably could have let him slide a bit more midrace, but it’s all about winning not breaking race records,” Sugars said. “I don’t drive very often at Swan Hill, but I wasn’t going to miss it because Emain Macha has been a good horse to me.” Scholefield races the pacer in partnership with Gail Davis, Peter Lamond and father and son John and Sean Penny. Trainer Greg Scholefield (right) with Swan Hill Trotting Club Gerry Maloney, Swan Hill RSL President Barry Townley and Vice Pres Peter Ritchie The likeable trainer purchased Emain Macha privately from Shepparton breeder and horse breaker Heath Redwood. “I didn’t hesitate to buy him because I’ve tried to stay with the same family. I’ve had lots of success with horses purchased from the Redwoods and Emain Macha is related to two of them,” Scholefield. “This family stems from Unique Icon (The Unicorn-Tender Reign (The Contender) who was a star in the early 2000s with 21 wins and 11 placings for $230,000,” he said. “Every horse I’ve tried from Heath has been good.” Scholefield, a former full-time builder, has been training horses on-and-off for the past 30 to 35 years. “When I retired from my trade about 10 years ago, it’s just been horses ever since.” But Scholefield has made the most of his opportunities, and despite training only a small team at any one time, his results are super impressive. “I aim to place them in the most suitable races, and I reckon we’ve had some success with doing that – if it means hitting the road then that’s what we do.” Scholefield said he was unsure where that road would take him next. “I won’t be doing anything for at least a fortnight, but I guess it’s about time to look at Melton again for Emain Macha and (stablemate) Kingofthestars.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ballarat horseman Tim McGuigan won’t be forgetting his first trip to race at Swan Hill, in Victoria’s north west region, for quite a while. Harness racing trainer Tim and his reinsman son Darby landed a memorable double — the first winner blowing punters out of the water at 16/1. “I’ve been up there a few times with Darby, but solely as a spectator,” Tim said. “When I was glancing over the program, I thought the fast class event for C5 or better horses suited our bloke Solarsonic, who is hard to place because of his tight mark (C13-M3),” he said. “So two others made the trip up in the float as well – and it turned out they landed the money! Team McGuigan’s first Swan Hill winner was in the Gallipoli 3YO Pace, and fittingly Darby wore special Anzac Day Appeal commemorative silks on He’s An Artist (Art Major USA-Espeshlimade Lombo (Troublemaker USA). The Anzac Day program silks were worn by all the drivers starting from gate one at Swan Hill, highlighting the appeal which raises funds for the RSL to provide support for servicemen, women and their families. After being headed at the start by Gottahaveahobbie, Darby was content to sit on the leader’s back and wait for his opportunity. “They rolled along at a consistent speed and that certainly suited our horse,” Tim said. On the home corner, He’s An Artist was angled for a wide run, rather than wait for the sprint lane, and when Darby got him into daylight, the gelding stormed home with a wet sail. The quarters of 29.4, 28.8, 28.2 and 29.6 equated to a smart mile rate of 1.54-9. Darby McGuigan with He’s An Artist The starting odds of 16/1 certainly seemed generous, with He’s An Artist a winner at Melton two starts prior and his most recent outing a runner-up performance at the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. “He’s a beautifully-bred horse.  His dam Espeshlimade Lombo was an outstanding racehorse with 16 victories and 14 placings, including a Group Two race, for nearly $300,000,” Tim said. “And she’s been a prolific broodmare and has thrown some very nice horses.” To watch a video replay of He’s An Artist winning click here on this link. The second leg of the McGuigan double didn’t get under the guard of punters, with Sunrainbow (Safari-Sunrain (Perfect Art USA, being sent out a short-priced $1.20 hot pot in the Battle of Tobruk Pace. Sunrainbow gave his supporters no anxious moments and led all the way after pinging out quickly from the mobile barrier. The double brought up 70 wins for the season for concession driver Darby and puts him on track to eclipse his previous best of 73 in season 2017-18. To watch a video replay of Sunrainbow winning click on this link The other McGuigan runner in Solarsonic didn’t weigh in, but he was only 14 metres off the winner Emain Macha, in a fast-run race that equalled the track record of 1.53-5. Tim has been involved in the sport for about 30 years as a hobby trainer. Tim McGuigan “I’m a qualified electrician, but now do a bit of part-time truck driving to work in around the horse stable duties,” he said. “I was winding down and thinking of getting out at one stage, but then Darby started showing a bit of interest, and now I’ve got more horses than I’ve ever had! “I have to be honest and say that Darby does most of the work, but I’m never far away to help him on fast work days.” The stable has 16 in work, including a lot of youngsters. Tim said the three hour plus drive to compete at Swan Hill didn’t faze him. “It’s okay when the horses are on an easy mark, but it becomes difficult after that and these days the key is to try and place them in suitable races,” he said. “I set a goal of somewhere around 20 winners for the season and we’ve now passed that with 23, so the travel’s all good, because it looks like being our best-ever season.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Two more names were added to the growing list of Auckland Reactor-sired rising stars at the Swan Hill harness racing meeting this week. Thermal Reactor (Auckland Reactor - Ballygeana - Presidential Ball) trained by Zac Steenhuis and driven by Ryan Duffy gave a dominant front-running display to score by 18 metres in the Steven and Kyra Valentines pace.  To watch the replay click here. The win was followed up by another impressive performance in Quamby Reactor (Auckland Reactor - Lady Lunchalot - Armbro Operative) trained and driven by Chris Svanosio. To watch this video replay click here Both are four year olds and both amply demonstrated the depth in maturity that’s emerging in the Auckland Reactor progeny. “Quamby Reactor took a little while to put it all together as a young horse, but he has improved massively with each preparation,” an elated Svanosio said. “He’s a very big fellow and I think that was part of the problem in his first prep - he was gangly and took a while to get it all together. But once he worked things out he won his three year old and his Vicbred bonus and we gave him another break,” he said. “This time as a four year old he’s come back really strong and he won well at Swan Hill. I think he’ll have a few more wins in him yet.” Quamby Reactor posted a 1:55.8 mile rate thrilling the big crowd of owners and supporters at the Swan Hill meeting. The ownership group is made up largely of farmers from the nearby Kerang-Quambatook area, and who raced Quamby Reactor’s mother Lady Lunchalot.  “They’ve been a fantastic group to work with. When the horse was taking longer than I’d thought I asked them if they would like to try another trainer, but they were happy to wait for him to click,” Svanosio said. “They never miss his races and even his trials so it’s great to see him rewarding their loyalty.” The Svanosio stable itself is also “putting it all together” of late,  also notching up three second placings at Swan Hill and Chris getting another second as a driver. Based at Junortoun, Bendigo, Svanosio has a “essentially a full team” of 20 horses in work with the help of Michelle Phillips, Tara Youngson and Taylor French. The stable has had four winners and a swag of placings over the past two weeks. “Im lucky to have a fantastic team of staff and they do a great job.  The last few weeks things have been going nicely, which is great - it gives everyone a kick along,” he said. “We just need to keep things going and build from there.”  Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The darling of Victorian harness racing, Bec Bartley, couldn’t hide her excitement after scoring an all-the-way victory in the Kiel Tiling 2019 Blue Pearl Classic. Bartley, 27, took out the prestigious, female-drivers-only event at Swan Hill on Wednesday night with classy four-year-old Three Summas, prepared by astute horseman Russell Jack. “I’m over the moon with the win – just being invited to take part was a huge honor as it’s a bit special, but I’m stoked to be successful,” Bartley said. The annual Blue Pearl Classic, now in its third year, is aimed at highlighting the contributions of reinswomen in the sport. The $8000 race also carried a $1000 blue pearl necklace for the winning driver and an inscribed rug for the victorious owner. And keeping with the “girls’ night out” theme, talented race caller Victoria Shaw took centre stage and called the event with aplomb. Bartley, who drove in the feature event last year, said she was reasonably confident after finding the top soon after the start with Three Summas (Somebeachsomewhere - Summa of Dreams). “I drove him recently at the trials and he is certainly a horse with a bright future ahead of him,” she said. “When I was able to get away with some easy quarters, he was always going to be hard to run down.” Three Summas had a two-metre advantage at the wire over Arden Voyager (Kate Gath, with a short head back to in-form Ouyen 3yo Mallee Reactor (Ellen Tormey). The first quarter was in a leisurely 32 seconds, but then things hotted up with 29.8, 28.7 and a super slick 26.6 for the final split. Three Summas now has eight wins and five placings from 16 starts for over $80,000. The Blue Pearl Classic contenders, (L-R) Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Monique Burnett, Abbey Turnbull, Shannon O’Sullivan and Kate Gath with race sponsor Tony Kiel Bartley said it was a pleasure to get the win for trainer Russell Jack and owners Todd and Wendy Rivett. “Russell lives just around the corner from us and I’ve known him a long time, while the Rivetts are from Swan Hill and just love the sport,” she said. Bartley has been catapulted into the limelight over the past few years through her deeds with brilliant gelding San Carlo. After dropping out of high school at the end of Year 10, pint-sized Bartley, who could have easily been a jockey, was always going to be involved with horses. “It’s in the family blood and I think it was within three weeks that I had a job with Stephen and Anne O’Donoghue, at Morley Park near Shepparton,” Bartley said. “I’ve now been with them for 11 years and I can say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “It’s hard to keep at it, as anyone in the industry would agree, but there’s always challenges and that’s the part I enjoy. “Whether it’s getting a problem horse sorted out and then to the track, or handling and educating a champion like San Carlo, there’s that satisfaction at the end.” Bartley is quick to want to talk more about San Carlo...and who could possibly blame her?! The powerhouse has been on a rampage in country cups, taking the Maryborough, Yarra Glen, Cranbourne and Bendigo feature events in his stride. But perhaps a little surprising, Bartley names an Interdominion heat win in Perth as her highlight. “Yes, that does stand out because it was a big experience traveling to Perth, and there was the expectations, the pressure and all that stuff and I still remember the absolute relief when we took out a qualifying heat,” she said. With a big team of 25 horses in work, Bartley’s career is testament to the old adage that hard work brings success. “Some days are harder than others, but I love it and I don’t really know anything else but horses.” Hoofnote: Bartley will drive San Carlo in the rich $60,000 Shepparton Cup on Saturday, January 12. To watch the video (R5) click on this link. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The pin-up boy of Victoria’s Northern Region, the exciting Ouyen-based pacer Mallee Reactor, faces his biggest test when he lines up at the harness racing meeting at Swan Hill on Wednesday night. The three-year-old, who is undefeated in five runs for unassuming trainer Murray Jardine, has drawn barrier four in the prestigious feature event, the $9000 2019 Pearl Blue Classic. “We are all looking forward to it because there’s some nice horses in the race – it will be a good guide to find out just where we are at,” Jardine said. “The spacious Swan Hill track should suit Mallee Reactor, but in saying that he’ll still be driven quietly early and hopefully work home hard when it counts.” Jardine is a cool customer renowned for keeping his feet on the ground but is thrilled by the raw ability shown by the son of the emerging star sire Auckland Reactor. “Some of his closing sectionals in his races have been pretty good,” he said. Jardine never races a big team, preferring the breaking and educating side, has another handy Auckland Reactor at home in Ian Raymond. “He’s a four-year-old who has three wins from six starts and goes along quite nice.” After combining farming and successfully preparing horses for many years, Jardine and his wife Barbara made the decision nearly 30 years ago to concentrate on harness racing. The couple established a picturesque complex on the edge of town, featuring an impressive 900metre track and open, shady paddocks. “It was more a lifestyle thing for our children, but it has worked out well for Murray because he’s done well over the years with the horses,” Barbara said. Jardine certainly had one of the best mentors when he spent two years with legendary horseman Alf Simons as a teenager. “I wish I’d stayed with Alf longer, but I was a farm boy and came back home,” Murray said. The eight owners of Mallee Reactor must be pinching themselves as his half-brother Carload has already provided them with many thrills in recent years. The group was offered Carload’s dam, the unraced broodmare Our Angel Flight, who was in foal at the time – the result being none other than Mallee Reactor. According to Jardine, who broke in both racehorses, they showed ability from day one, with Mallee Reactor being more relaxed. And it seems there just could be another bright prospect on the horizon with a beautifully-conformed two-year-old full sister to Carload (by Village Jasper). When asked future plans for Mallee Reactor, Jardine said he would use a well-worn cliché and say “we’ll take it one run at a time”. “There’s a heats and final series coming up at Mildura in a few weeks and then we’ll have to sit down and go from there. He may be looking for a break because he’s still growing, but we’ll wait and see.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Swan Hill Trotting Club is counting down to the Kiel Tiling Blue Pearl Classic at its January 9 meeting, a celebration of the sport's talented reinswoman. Club Manager Marnya Watson said “the all-female drivers race is getting bigger and bigger each year". "If last year’s result is anything to go by it will once again be an outstanding spectacle,” Ms Watson said. The beautiful Blue Pearl necklace is awarded to the winning driver on the night, which is entirely sponsored by local business Kiel Tiling, a great supporter of the club. Ms Watson said a huge crowd had booked out the upstairs dining room with visitors coming from all over the globe. As was the case last year, female race caller Victoria Shaw has been confirmed to call the race and those who took the opportunity to listen in last year will have picked up on Victoria’s absolute enthusiasm throughout the running of the race. The Blue Pearl Classic coincides with Swan Hill Trotting Club's family fun meeting, when the club provides extra activities for all the family members to enjoy. This has the added benefit to highlight the trots diversity to a younger generation. Swan Hill will also be giving trainers a $50 fuel vouchers for any fourth to last placegetters. For further information with regard to this or other race sponsorships contact Swan Hill Trotting Club Manager Marnya Watson on 0417 344 802.   Swan Hill

The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year, Menin Gate, is exactly the kind of horse racing fans warm to; a fierce competitor with a will to win and a tenacity that stables him in the hearts of punters. His trainer and driver, Michael Stanley (of Burrumbeet), describes Menin Gate as "a warrior", and now that he's back, all going well, he promises to be a headline act at this year's Victorian TAB Inter Dominion. Last Friday night's courageous 3SH Swan Hill Cup win saw Menin Gate's customary fight in full view, holding off fitter challengers such as Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup winner Im The Boss and rising metro star Magical Marn to win the second leg of the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship at his first run back in almost 18 months. "He'd been in work for quite some time," Stanley told RSN's One Out, One Back this morning. Read the full story here   Cody Winnell Trots Media

If Gottashopearly can produce a minor miracle and qualify for December’s TAB Inter Dominion series, he’ll be positioned to become the pride of Tamworth. For the duration of the three-week ID18 series at least, the Country Music Festival preparations will take backseat as the Richard Williams-prepared steed takes on the best in Australasia’s premier harness racing series. Heck, if Gottashopearly wins they’ll have to replace the Golden Guitar with the bronzed pacer. “We’ve definitely thrown him in the deep end of the pool,” acknowledged trainer Williams on RSN’s One Out, One Back this morning. “He won our feature at Tamworth over 2700m and rated a 2:01 mile rate on a 750m track. As far as the Inter Dominion nomination is concerned it wasn’t really on the radar until we sort of thought, everything ticks the boxes for him. He loves the quick back-up and he’s a genuine stayer. "We’ve taken him to Brisbane and Menangle to step him up and see what he’s got. He wouldn’t disgrace himself, so we thought we’d throw him in and have a stab. And if it’s not this year, who knows, maybe next year.” Gottashopearly has already jumped 11 spots in the TAB ID18 rankings since the initial positions were released earlier this month, but he’s still got a long way to go. He’s up to 92 (from 103), starting out second-lowest ranked of the 104 entrants. A forward showing in tomorrow night’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup would see him thunder up the charts. And there’s money in the market to suggest he just might – backed from $31 to $14 with’s fixed odds market for the Swan Hill Trots Country Cups Championship feature. “We haven’t driven 12 hours for nothing,” Williams said when asked about the pacer’s chances at Swan Hill. Similar to fellow Swan Hill Cup and ID18 contender Im The Boss, Gottashopearly is a former claimer. “Basically I was nagging the owners to claim the horse about four months ago and they weren’t real keen on him … they ended up claiming him to keep me quiet. Now they’re pretty big fans of him,” Williams said. Cody Winnell

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