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Millionaire pacer Arden Rooney is no stranger to creating history and on Saturday night he achieved another milestone. A winner of 21 races including Group 1s the New Zealand Trotting Cup and A. G. Hunter Cup, the retired racetrack superstar is the first horse to be formally adopted as an ambassador by Horseland’s Bendigo store. Manager Kylie Balazs said Horseland Bendigo had a number of sponsored riders, including Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Retrainer Jason Dins. However, the business has never previously taken an equine ambassador under its wings. “Having a personal background in harness racing, I was already aware of Arden Rooney and his amazing achievements on the track,” Kylie said. “To then see him move into life after racing, where he has been excelling under the training of Steve Cox, has been incredibly heart-warming. “We are proud to support this special horse in his new career and hope that our sponsorship will further raise the profile of retired standardbreds as recreational and pleasure horses, and encourage more people to learn about the breed over the next 12 months.” Arden Rooney is being trained as a liberty horse and made his first public appearance at Elmore Equestrian Centre at the weekend. The appearance coincided with the Elmore EA Equestrian Club’s three-day Inter Schools Qualifier Competition, which drew young riders from throughout the State. The nine-year-old gelding behaved impeccably and won hearts everywhere, completing a demonstration then posing for photographs with a legion of new pony club fans. “I couldn’t have been more proud of Rooney and how well he handled the occasion,” Steve said. “He was a wonderful ambassador for the HERO Program and standardbreds, and did a terrific job in an unfamiliar environment and in front of a crowd. “His race owner, Merv Butterworth, has long said that Rooney enjoys being the centre of attention and that was certainly obvious on Saturday night.” Tanya McDermott for HRV Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Ambassador Smudge Bromac will spearhead a charity fundraiser to benefit Motor Neurone Disease Victoria. The popular pacer wears dual ambassadorial hats, promoting standardbred life-after-racing and campaigning for MND awareness in memory of his part-owner, John Brain, who sadly passed away from the deadly disease. The event will be held at Shepparton's Kialla Paceway on Friday, April 26, to coincide with the running of the 2019 John Brain Memorial Pace and Shepparton Trotters’ Cup. Pictured is Smudge Bromac with caretaker Sue Terry. Picture by Issie Hill Organisers have set a fundraising target of $2500, principally through the sale of double-seater sulky rides with Smudge Bromac, a 209-start veteran who won 36 races and $460,000 in prizemoney and fellow HERO Ambassador Waikare Aristocrat, whose 69 starts as a trotter netted 15 wins and $124,000 in prizemoney. Patrons will also be invited to make a gold-coin donation to MND at the gate in lieu of entry, purchase MND merchandise and support a special effort, offering a hamper of Hygain animal health care products as first prize. In each of the evening’s races, with the permission of connections, the number one horse will carry MND promotional colours to highlight the cause. “The HERO Program is very proud to be co-ordinating and promoting this event,” manager Tanya McDermott said. “In addition to Smudge Bromac and Waikare Aristocrat, we will have the recently adopted HERO ambassador Suave Stuey Lombo on course, and a number of our supporters are donating their time to assist on the night,” she said. “Smudge is a valued member of the HERO team and we take every possible opportunity to highlight his important role as an official MND ambassador in parallel with his life-after-racing work. “The horse is an equine rock star and has enormous drawing power. “I feel sure that people will jump at the opportunity to sit behind him in a double-seater sulky, accompanied by one of our leading drivers.” MND Victoria Fundraising Officer Daniel Woodrow is likewise looking forward to the fundraiser. “We are always keen to explore new opportunities to both raise MND awareness and generate much needed funds," he said. “Our organisation has been working in the field for almost 40 years and we have a proud track record of providing tangible support and assistance where it is most needed. “This race meeting is a step into unchartered territory for MND Victoria and we’re grateful to both the HERO Program and Shepparton Harness Racing Club for their innovation and enthusiasm." MND is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurons) controlling the muscles that enable a human to move, speak, breathe and swallow fail to work normally. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. The patterns of weakness vary from person to person. At any given time in Victoria, MND affects around 400 people. There is no known cure. MND Victoria provides and promotes the best possible care and support for people living with MND and funds MND research. The organisation has two key mottos:  'Until there’s a cure, there’s care' and 'Never give up'. For more information about the April 26 race meeting, or to purchase a double-seater sulky ride for $200 with all proceeds going to MND Victoria, please visit the HRV HERO Facebook page, email or phone 0407 413 156 during business hours.   Tanya McDermott

Harness Racing Victoria's HERO Program is set to welcome its second professional Registered Retrainer. In an exciting development for the trail-blazing standardbred life after racing project, Bendigo horsewoman Elle Moro will join the HERO staff from September 1. Her appointment doubles the program’s resources and follows the recent re-appointment of Warren Cochrane of Cobe Lodge as a full-time HERO Registered Retrainer for a second year. Moro is a state enrolled nurse who has turned her back on the profession to pursue her passion for horses, in particular standardbreds – an interest inherited from her grandfather Garry Jackson. She was an active member of the Riddells Creek Pony Club for 10 years as a youngster and previously worked as a stablehand with Chris and Alison Alford. For the past nine months, she has focused on her long-term goal of establishing an equine business – Moro Equine Services. Moro is a skilled and experienced horsewoman who enjoys trail riding and competition campdrafting, in addition to educating and training her family’s racing stock. She recently completed a special project on behalf of HERO, educating Allawart Dollar under saddle in preparation for a career with the Horsham Branch of Riding for the Disabled, and is a regular instructor with the Northern Standardbred Riding Group. “Elle will be an enormous asset to the program,” HERO Manager Tanya McDermott said. “Her harness racing background, extensive equine networks and commitment to promoting standardbreds in their life after racing make her an ideal fit. “She is a valuable addition to Team HERO as we strive to meet growing industry demand for re-education and rehoming services." Moro, who recently purchased a property at Eppalock, is looking forward to the challenge. “I love working with standardbreds and I’m proud to be a part of the HERO Program,” she enthused. “They’re brilliant horses and it’s a privilege to be given the opportunity to guide their transition into life after racing. “There has been such a change in attitude toward standardbreds as riding and recreational horses in recent years, momentum is definitely at an all-time high." For further information, follow HRV HERO on Facebook and Twitter or visit   Tanya McDermott

Since the inception of Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO) in July, 2015, one constant has been the Victorian trotting industry’s widespread support of the innovative life after harness racing initiative. From owners and trainers to administrators and breeders, country clubs and kindred bodies, standardbred enthusiasts have been united in their endorsement of the program which provides a pathway for retired pacers and trotters to move into productive post-racing homes. The extraordinary level of that backing was demonstrated with the recent purchase of a two-horse float by a generous benefactor to support HERO’s day-to-day operations. Domenic Martello, of DNR Logistics, said he felt compelled to assist the program and hoped his decision would set the lead for others within the industry. “I’m happy to admit I’m not a horse person. My interest in the trots started purely as a punter,” Martello explained. “I’m a city boy but I love horses. I probably have an ownership involvement in about 20 standardbreds presently and it’s important to me that they have somewhere to go at the end of their career. “I feel a responsibility to do everything I can to see that the horses are looked after both during and after their racing careers. “I don’t own a suitable property to take proper care of them when they retire, so it gives me great comfort knowing a program such as HERO exists." Martello said his involvement in harness racing is a great outlet from running his business. “My wife sometimes jokes that the business exists to fund my passion in horses," he said. “I think I’m fortunate that I run a business which is successful and enables me both to enjoy harness racing as an owner, and contribute to the HERO Program.” by Tanya McDermott For more details on HRV HERO visit 

Former Victoria Derby champion Tanabi Bromac will fly the standardbred life-after-harness racing flag at Equitana this week. The 12-year-old winner of 24 races and $465,928 in stakes will be based in the popular Breed Village for the duration of the four-day event as an ambassador for Harness Racing Victoria’s HERO Program. The 107-start veteran will also present several ridden demonstrations, highlighting the durability, willingness and versatility of the standardbred. Owned and trained throughout his racing life by Keith and Shelly Cotchin, Tanabi Bromac (aka Ernie) has made a successful transition to a saddle career under the guidance of HERO registered retrainer Julie Duffy The Live Or Die gelding regularly competes in showing and adult riding competitions, and is an accomplished trail riding mount. The HERO Program will have a major presence at Equitana, with a trade stall (site 373) in the Epsom Pavillion in addition to the Breed Village exhibit. HERO is also naming rights sponsor for the Jump & Drive Challenge, which forms part of a competition hosted by the Australian Carriage Driving Society. Introduced to Australia in 1999, Equitana is acknowledged as the largest equine showcase in the Southern Hemisphere and will be staged at the Melbourne Showgrounds from Thursday, November 17, to Sunday, November 20. It brings together education, competition, entertainment and exhibition under a common umbrella and this year’s program is the most extensive in the event’s proud history. For further information, a schedule of events and/or to purchase tickets to attend Equitana 2016, visit For further information about the HERO Program, visit by Tanya McDermott

Harness Racing Victoria’s HERO Program has made an exciting addition to its ambassador ranks, welcoming widely travelled square-gaiter Ridgehead Cahore. The 12-year-old Swedish-bred gelding joins multiple Group 1 winner Villagem and former smart pacer Franco Heir as official life after racing ambassadors. Ridgehead Cahore made headlines in 2013 when he travelled from Europe to contest the inaugural Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton under the guidance of Norwegian trainer Terje Melnas. The Scandinavian trail blazer ran a creditable third in his elimination heat before finishing fifth in the $250,000 Group 1 final behind Vulcan. The son of Buvetier D’Aunou was subsequently purchased by clients of the Chris Lang stable and continued his racing career in Australia, notching a Tabcorp Park Menangle victory and contesting several monte (ridden trot) events before retiring due to injury. He enjoyed a pampered retirement in a trail riding home prior to being offered to HERO and is a deserving addition to the program, having secured 24 trotting wins, 20 placings and $246,455 in stake earnings in four countries over 108 race starts and taken a best mark of 1:58.6. Melnas was delighted to learn that the horse known as “Ridgy” had joined the HERO Program, fulfilling a personal promise that his much-loved star would enjoy nothing but the best in his life beyond the track. “That is just fantastic, it makes me so happy to hear,” he said. “A big thank you to all who created this opportunity for my mate.” Ridgehead Cahore has been out of ridden work for the past six months but it is hoped he will step out as a HERO Ambassador early in the New Year. “Although he looks a little like a broodmare at present, it shouldn’t take long to get him back into shape and prepare him for the next stage in his life,” HERO manager Tanya McDermott said. “We are delighted to have a high-profile trotter joining two star pacers in the Ambassador Program and it will be an obvious aim to have him at Melton for the running of the 2017 edition of The Prydes Great Southern Star on February 4.” For further information about the HERO Program, visit or follow HRV HERO on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. by Tanya McDermott

Have you ever considered re-educating a retired standardbred? Are you interested in learning more about the breed and its ability to successfully transition to a life under saddle? Do you own a pleasure standardbred and think you would benefit from training skills specific to retired trotters and pacers? Harness Racing Victoria’s HERO (Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities) Program is hosting an information and training day at Elmore Equestrian and Events Centre on Saturday, June 18. Titled Understanding Off The Track Standardbreds, the clinic will be led by Fiona Dearing, a dressage coach who specialises in instructing adult amateurs, in particular those with confidence issues. Dearing is well known by her business name 'Remote Coach' and has a special interest and vast experience in working with retired standardbreds. Over the course of the day she will work through a variety of topics including suppling and balance techniques and ground manners, with the aim of upskilling participants to work with their own horses. Erin White, of Erin’s Equine Services, will discuss how best to help a retired standardbred physically and mentally transition from racing to pleasure riding, while Registered HERO Retrainers Warren and Bronwyn Cochrane of Cobe Lodge will share some of their vast knowledge across both racing and retired standardbreds. Understanding Off The Track Standardbreds is a free event presented by HERO thanks to the financial support of Harness Racing Victoria and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund. It will be from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday, June 19, at the Elmore Equestrian and Events Centre (Elmore Field Days site), 48 Rosaia Rd, Burnewang. Everyone is welcome, but those attending are asked to RSVP via email to to assist with planning. Alternately for further information, please phone 0407 413 156. Tanya McDermott

A new partnership between Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO) Program and the Victorian Agricultural Shows Limited will deliver unprecedented showing opportunities for retired Standardbred racehorses. For the first time, VAS Ltd will run a dedicated Standardbred showcase in 2016, culminating with a rich final to be held in conjunction with the acclaimed Victorian Saddle Horse Championships. The format for the competition mirrors the very successful Thoroughbred Off The Track Series and provides qualifying heats at Agricultural Shows throughout the State, leading into a $1000 at Bendigo in January, 2017. HERO Program Manager Tanya McDermott commended VAS Ltd for its commitment to Standardbreds in their life outside racing, and described the new series as enormously important. “To be able to present ridden Standardbreds on such an auspicious stage is incredibly exciting,” she said. “So many dedicated people have campaigned for acceptance of the Standardbred as a legitimate pleasure and performance horse and VAS Ltd’s endorsement through the introduction of the HERO Series is just reward for their faith. “The number and quality of retired trotters and pacers transitioning into new homes at the conclusion of their racing career is at an all-time high. “Likewise, the showing opportunities which are available, now headlined by the HERO Series, mean there has never been a better time to educate and campaign a retired Standardbred under saddle in Victoria. “We have quite deliberately come out all guns blazing and set prizemoney levels for the new Series at a very lucrative level, in the hope that some of the show scene’s better known names might consider adding a Standardbred to their stable, further heightening and enhancing the breed’s profile.” VAS Ltd Executive Officer Rod Bowles also welcomed the announcement. “The Committee has been following the progress of the recreational Standardbred movement and feels the time is right to introduce a Series which acknowledges the breed’s development and refinement for riding. “Following the introduction of HERO in July last year, we considered it opportune to partner with the Program and further demonstrate our support for retired racehorses, following on from the fantastic success of Racing Victoria’s Thoroughbred OTT Series,” he said. The Alabar HERO Series has been made possible by the financial support of HRV and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund. Australasia’s leading Standardbred breeding operation, Alabar Bloodstock, has secured naming rights sponsorship of the event, further cementing its outstanding commitment to life after racing. Stud principal Alan Galloway and his staff have a proud history of supporting organisations and events which provide an outlet for pleasure Standardbreds, making Alabar the perfect HERO Series associate in its first year. The eligibility criteria, and a full schedule of events, will be available on the VAS Ltd For further information about the Alabar HERO Series, Harness Racing Victoria’s life after racing program, or to inquire about educating or rehoming a retired Standardbred, please email Tanya McDermott (HERO Manager) t: 0407 413 156 | e: | tw: @hrvhero

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