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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 https://www.harness.org.au/racing/fields/race-fields/?mc=FD220519 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 TAB.com.au’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

More than 50 members of the Swan Hill Football Netball Club will attend the 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup trots this Friday night as part of Harness Racing Victoria’s Grassroots Gold campaign. The local trots club has partnered with the football club, which will gain all returns from Harness Racing Victoria's GoodForm Grassroots Gold $500 Game Plan. “HRV is proud to support the 25 country trots clubs and their partner clubs and associations right across Victoria by providing the vouchers for the Grassroots Gold campaign and raising important revenue for grassroots sports, particularly in our regional communities where the trots clubs provide important social, economic and communal outcomes,” HRV General Manager of Marketing Andrew English said. “Good luck to the Swan Hill Football Netball Club this Friday night and I am sure the big group of footy club members attending the 3SH Swan Hill Cup for this promotion will have a fantastic night at the trots.” Secretary of the Swan Hill Football Club Carl Hufer said ‘the Swans’ were heavily engaged in the local community. READ: Swan Hill Cup bid has Vic Horse of the Year out of the Gate early “Our club has 474 members with players from five footy sides and nine netball sides,” Mr Hufer said. “We run the annual triathlon each year, which involves 120 volunteers and raises funds for the Swan Hill Swimming Pool, we do the clean-up for the Swan Hill Racing Carnival, our members tin-rattle for the Good Friday Appeal and we’re always willing to assist when required for community events and fundraisers. “We’re looking forward to attending on Friday night and have promoted the trots cup heavily to our members. We’ll have over 50 in the Think Big Room and it will be a great way to get together post-season and enjoy each other’s company.” Mr Hufer said the club appreciated being involved with Grassroots Gold and any revenue gained would go to great use. "It takes a lot to put 14 sides and over 160 players out on the court and field each week, so any funds greatly assist," he said. "Our long-term goal is for a new club room facility that can be used not only by our club but the community. "We are also planning to undertake a project to preserve all our history through scanning of photos and other memorabilia." The GoodForm Game Plan will be published at thetrots.com.au tomorrow. The Kilmore Football Netball Club collected $429.90 as the first Grassroots Gold partner club on September 27. For more details on Grassroots Gold click here.   Cody Winnell Trots Media

Menin Gate trainer Michael Stanley is just looking for a competitive hit out from his new star recruit in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. But it wouldn’t surprise him if the horse pulled off a first-up win. The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year is a surprise starter in the race - his first start since being sidelined with a fractured pelvis 16 months ago. Stanley said the plan had always been for Menin Gate - who joined his Burrumbeet stable in August - to make a run at this year’s Victorian Inter Dominion series after arriving in good health after such a long spell. But two impressive trial wins at Maryborough in the past two weeks saw him nominate the seven-year-old ahead of schedule. “To be honest, I didn’t plan on racing him this early,” Stanley said. “He’s had a slow build up, we haven’t rushed him. We’ve had no little niggles with his injury. Everything has gone really well. “His first trial he didn’t do too much, we just sat last and didn’t pull out until the straight and let him run home under his own steam. And when I pulled him out he really attacked the line, he wanted to beat the others. So I was really impressed with that. “I took him to the trials (again) on Sunday and I thought I’m just going to push him out a bit and give him a really good hit out and just see if he is sharp enough to go to Swan Hill. And he was super. The times he run were equivalent to what he’d have to run in a race.” Stanley said while his expectations for Friday were simply for Menin Gate to get through the race and be competitive, he believed the former Group 1 winner was up to the pace for a cup win. “It just looked like an ideal race to step him out in first up,” he said. “Going for the Inter Dominion, we’d like to get our ranking down and be peaking for when that’s on, but he’s definitely forward enough that he’ll run a really good race first up for sure.” Friday night’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup is the second leg of the Trots Country Cups Championship, which kicked off at Kilmore on September 27. The David Aiken-trained Im The Boss, who was a last start sixth in Saturday night’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup, will be out to record a fifth country cup, having won at Shepparton, Mildura and Cobram last season before saluting at Kilmore last month. Stanley said the plan against the country cups champ would be to use the favourable gate three draw to set the pace early. “(Menin Gate’s) a really good front runner and a hard horse to pass, so that’s probably the plan,” he said. “We’ve got Im the Boss on the back line and a couple of handy sprinters in the middle of the front row, so if we can keep them behind us that’s probably the ideal way to tackle it early on. “(But) the expectations (for this one) really are just to get him back to the races and be competitive. Anything above that is a bonus.” Stanley also has the backmarker in the What the Hill Swan Hill Trotters Cup in Sky Petite, who he said would look to build on a first-up fifth in the Maori Miss Trotters Free for All. “Her work had been fantastic since before she went to Melton first up,” he said. “I think she probably just overdid it a little bit early. The lead time was fairly quick, I think the second quickest of the night, even with the pacing races. So first-up from a spell, with that quick lead time, she ran through the middle section a little bit too quick and she got tired. “(But) I think she was beaten by one of the best up and coming trotters we have in Dance Craze, who sat on her back and she fought on well. She only got beat the eight or nine metres. “The country cup races probably suit her better than the 2200m mobiles. With the long 2700m stand she’ll have time to settle and follow them into the race, instead of being the one that does the work. There’s a couple of nice trotters in that race though, so it’s going to be a good race, but I’m sure she’ll race really well.”     It promises to be a ripping night at Swan Hill, with gates to open at 5pm and the course hosting free children’s activities, a punters' club plus a range of different options to take in the night’s racing. While the corporate box and private deck have sold out, patrons can still snap up a dinning ticket or a place in the Pooles Pavilion via www.swanhilltrots.com.au Mark Smith Trots Media

Swan Hill trots club is embracing the huge role women play in the industry with the women-drivers-only Kiel Tiling Blue Pearl Classic to be held next Wednesday, January 18. The Kiel Tiling Blue Pearl Classic is sponsored by Tony Kiel of Kiel Tiling, who is also the driving force behind the idea. He wants it to grow each year. "It would be great to eventually have a female driver from every state to compete together," Kiel said. Calling the Classic will be Victoria Shaw, a pioneer for women behind the microphone in the caller's box. "We're very keen to support the diversity of the trots industry," Marnya Watson, Swan Hill club manager, said. Additional prizemoney and a horse rug will go to winning connections in the Classic, while a blue pearl necklace valued at $1000 will be awarded to the winning driver. Visit Swan Hill trots for more details and TrotsCountry.com.au for more #trots news.   CODY WINNELL

Swan Hill harness racing club manager Marnya Watson was pleased with the attendance and the atmosphere at Saturday night’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup meeting. Ms Watson said the dining room attendance was “up about 300 per cent” on the most recent cup meetings and the crowd overall was larger than last year. “The atmosphere was great on the lawns trackside and in the dining room. Very relaxed and everyone had a good time. “We have got quite a vast track, so it’s quite spread out but there were lots of people in the beer garden and the marquees near the front straight. There were also lots of people outside and upstairs was totally booked out.” Ms Watson said the club had approached local marketing differently this year and it paid dividends. Rather than focus all of its spend on traditional forms of advertising the Swan Hill club committee offered a $10,000 carrot to key local service groups and charities and encouraged them to engage with their members and networks. “We had four groups, Riding for the Disabled (RDA), the Swan Hill Hospice, Rotary Swan Hill and the CFA Volunteers, and we colour coded all the tickets so that we could tell which group secured the most patrons on-course,” Ms Watson said. “The first group got $5000, second $2500, third $1500 and fourth $1000. These clubs are so well connected in the community and the promotional material they were able to distribute to their audiences ensured we got an excellent crowd.” The CFA secured the most patrons and thus scored a valuable $5000 boost for its coffers. “It worked very well and the key was to reach new markets,” Ms Watson said. “We can easily reach harness racing people, but these community groups can reach many other people who previously haven’t been involved in the trots. “Already we’ve had a lot of community groups keen to do it next year, so that will be great.” The club’s local media coverage was strong this year with a radio live site set up on the Friday before the cup meeting featuring interviews and the new Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Trots Interactive virtual reality experience. “The local paper (The Guardian) this morning had a three-quarter page spread on the cup the second page in, plus more in sport. We definitely got more in the paper this year,” Ms Watson said. “The Guardian is really appreciating it too, because we’re having regular conversations and engaging with them.” Ms Watson said feedback on the new Trots Interactive experience was “well received”. “Anyone who did it was really happy with it,” she said. “It was taken upstairs to the dining room, which was a really good move because everyone in there loved it.” Ms Watson said all who saw star pacer Hectorjayjay mercilessly slay his rivals in the cup would appreciate the memory, but added she received feedback from punters bemoaning “too many short-priced favourites”. “I definitely received more feedback on that issue on the night, but unfortunately that’s something that’s not within my scope,” she said. Ambassadors Billy Brownless and Larni Salathiel were also on course at Swan Hill to entertain and mingle with the crowd. Association of Country Clubs CEO David Brick said he was pleased Swan Hill's crowd was up on last year. "The crowd was up and the pre-promotion in town the day before really hit the mark," he said. "While Hectorjayjay was a short-priced favourite, in terms of quality to get the Inter Dominion favourite to the venue was a drawcard. "It's on to Maryborough now (on Sunday) for the traditional Kilmore Cup timeslot and they're hoping to build on a successful Redwood Day, which saw an increase in patronage and wagering." Exciting first-starter Phoenix Prince and rising star Hickstead were among favourites to salute at long odds-on, while punters got it wrong with Our Star Dust, sent out $1.10 and finishing second to Johns Grin at $10. The Swan Hill Cup was the first of 25 Trots Country Cups that form the Trots Country Cups Championship. This Sunday the action rolls into Maryborough. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Tonight’s Swan Hill trots cup meet proved a harness racing red letter occasion for Graham McDermott’s Myola operation. The horseman scored a winning double by picking up both the $13,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Jim Roberts Swan Hill Trotters Cup with Majestic Ess Jay (Majestic Son-Steffi Jay) and the $10,000 Swan Hill Automotive Swan Hill Mile with five-year-old Lucky Lombo (Major In Art-Isabella Lombo). Majestic Ess Jay, a six-year-old gelding, was sent forward by reinsman Chris Svanosio early after stepping professionally from the 20-metre handicap tape at the 2790-metre standing start point. Once in front Majestic Ess Jay saw off challenges from Glorious Finale (Jackie Barker, in the breeze), Heza Boy Star (Matthew Craven, leader’s back after initially leading) and race favourite Aleppo Sunrise, who made a sweeping late run around the field first-up for Haydon Gray after starting off 30m to get beaten a short half-head in a 2:02.8 mile rate. Majestic Ess Jay, who ran sixth beaten 15.2m behind star Monbet in the Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship in January, started a $3.60 second elect with punters, Aleppo Sunrise a $2.80 shot despite not having raced since December 2015 and not having won since January 2013. On the strength of his run tonight however, the runner-up's drought breaks very soon. Heza Boy Star finished third and Leannes Boy ran fourth in the Trotters Cup. Majestic Ess Jay's stake earnings are now over the $110,000 mark. Ultra-talented pacer Lucky Lombo showed he may have a role to play this Trots Country Cups season with a cracking return to the track in the flying mile race. Driven by Gavin Lang, Lucky Lombo – as is his way – was given time to balance up before coming with a strong run at the finish to defeat Gollahman (Michael Bellman) by a head in 1:55.1, with class mare Miss Dreamin (Grant Campbell) third and 5.3m from the winner. Lang took driving honours at Swan Hill with a winning treble, the Lucky Lombo success added to victories in Race 1 aboard Ample Power (Mach Three-Modern Life) and Race 3 behind Phoenix Prince (Somebeachsomewhere-Classic Cathy), both hailing from the Emma Stewart stable to also give that trainer a winning double. Svanosio steered Johns Grin (Grinfromeartoear-Vinnies Dreams) to a 1.9m win over long odds-on pop Our Star Dust in Race 4 to deliver the Matthew Craven stable a victory, the Trotters’ Cup triumph giving Svanosio a double. Other winners were smart four-year-old Hickstead (Mach Three-Il Informed) for trainer/driver John Justice in Race 2 and Glenn Douglas-trained Give Me The Night (Santanna  Blue Chip-Alright On The Night), given a perfect guide by Monique Burnett, in Race 8 to deliver local clubman Noel Watson a victory as owner. RELATED: HECTORJAYJAY ULTRA-IMPRESSIVE WINNING SWAN HILL CUP Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The Swan Hill Trotting Club has 11 stallions for tender - four trotting and seven pacing - with the opportunity open until Friday.  Harness racing club president Gerard Moloney said the tender gave breeders "the opportunity to pick up service fees at a nice discount". “These stallions represent a great selection of stallions to suit most budgets,” Mr Moloney said. Trotting stallions are Trixton from Stallions Australasia, Pegasus Spur from Woodlands Stud, Used To Me from Haras des Trotteurs and Amore Stride from Alabar. Pacing stallions available are Sweet Lou form Woodlands Stud, Heston Blue Chip from Empire Stallions, Shadow Play from Alabar, Modern Art from Empire Stallions, Highview Tommy from Woodlands Stud, Auckland Reactor from Alabar and Major Bronski from Morley Park Studs. "This wouldn’t be possible without our support from the studs and we sincerely thank Alabar, Empire Stallions, Haras des Trotteurs, Morley Park, Stallions Australasia and Woodlands Stud,” Mr Moloney said. The tender closes at 5pm on Friday, September 23. For more information regarding the tender click the HRV banner advertisement or call Gerard Moloney on 0427 329 504.  

Look out, New Zealand – one of your own is about to return to where his career began with eyes on your greatest prize. Arden Rooney’s New Zealand Trotting Cup prospects climbed big time on Saturday night as the Kerryn Manning-trained six-year-old 2015 Hunter Cup winner smashed the track record on his way to winning the Tooleybuc Sporting Club Swan Hill Pacing Cup (Group 3) over 2790 metres. Stepping well from his 30-metre handicap, Arden Rooney was quickly sent forward by trainer/driver Manning who had no issues urging the son of Bettors Delight to the lead. Arden Rooney paced his final mile in splits of 30, 29.4, 27.1 and 29.1 seconds for a 1:57.3 mile rate, beating home runner-up Savesomtimetodream by 3.6m, with Lets Elope third beaten 7.6m. Flaming Flutter, second in last season’s Inter Dominion, was beaten 9.8m after starting 20m ahead of Arden Rooney. Franco Ledger, who flashed home in the Hunter Cup earlier this year to run second to Arden Rooney, was beaten 12.6m on this occasion in sixth place. The way Arden Rooney won he’d have strong claims in any race he was to head towards. The NZ Trotting Cup conditions will suit. And his bid at back-to-back Kaikoura Cup wins looks right on song. Cody Winnell

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