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Menangle-based junior harness racing driver Ryan Sanderson is making every post a winner as he prepares to pack his bags and permanently settle in Victoria. The teenager was at his best at the latest Bathurst meeting with an all-the-way victory aboard five-year-old mare Leigha Miller (Art Major-Misty Miller (Fake Left) in the Garrards Horse and Hound Pace. “She goes really well and looks to have a bright future,” he said. “We’ve only had her for two starts—she got knocked down at her first run for us at Menangle late last month which was a bit disappointing.” Leigha Miller has now won six races from 35 starts.  Her latest winning time was a personal best.  Her dam Misty Miller won 16 races for $144,000 in four seasons from 2005. In the next three or four weeks, 17-year-old Ryan along with his parents Shane and Naomi, and younger sister Abbey, 15, will move south to be based at Charlton in Victoria’s north central region. “We’re all excited because there’s about half a dozen tracks located within two hours of the town, so hopefully there are plenty of opportunities to place our horses right.  And hopefully the trainers around there will give me a go again,” Ryan said. The promising reinsman worked for the strong Aiken stable at Avenel during last year and was steadily making a name for himself before a nasty spill at Charlton landed him in a Melbourne hospital. He later returned home to Menangle to rest up. “I was lucky to get out of that without serious injury. I’m fine now and can’t wait to be busy and back into it in Victoria,” he said. Ryan said his latest winner was owned by well-known Bendigo breeder and trainer Gary Donaldson. “Leigha Miller is beautifully bred and zipped home in 26.7 at Bathurst. I didn’t have to use her up too much to cross them from barrier six. I felt she was always travelling like the winner,” he said. The mare scored by eight metres from Join The Que with a further nine metres back to Maudies Delight. The rate for the 1730m trip was 1.56-1. “Dad likes to get down to Bathurst a few times a month, providing there’s a suitable race for us. It’s a three-hour trip, but the road is way better these days,” he said. “It’s a lovely track and the people are very nice. The racing is a high standard because there’s so many strong stables in the area.” The Sanderson team will join former South Australian trainer Greg Norman and promising trainer-driver duo Mick Gadsden and Denbeigh Wade at the impressive Charlton Harness Racing Training Centre. “We’re working 12 at the moment. I think dad is hoping to increase this to somewhere between 15 to 20 when we shift,” Ryan said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

There was more than a touch of serendipity in a sweet victory for long-time harness racing enthusiast Geoff Hood at the Geelong Beckley Park circuit this week. Hood and his wife Sonia Treseder race four-year-old Lutetia, who scored a narrow win in the Yabby Dam Racing Maiden Trot. Not only was Hood on track to cheer Lutetia home, but it was the first time he'd actually laid eyes on the mare, due to covid-19 protocols. Lutetia (Quaker Jet (Fra)-Pepperell Magic (Kadabra US) was driven a patient race by Anne-Maree Conroy and is trained by Anne-Maree's husband Mick Barby. To watch Lutetia win click here. The winning owners Geoff and Sonia owned picturesque Pepperell Farm in the Macedon Ranges for over a decade and bred and owned horses carrying the moniker "Pepperell". "They're great owners. All of us trained quite a few of their horses as well as my late father Bob and there were some other trainers who had them as well," Anne-Maree said. "Mick trained Regal Pepperell, while I was the driver and she won three cups, including the Maoris Idol Country Championship," she said. Anne-Maree said when Geoff and Sonia sold Pepperell Farm they elected to get out of their horses. "But after a while, Geoff wanted to get back into the sport, preferably with one of his own breed," she said. "So we approached Pat Driscoll (of Yabby Dam Farms) and his private trainer Anton Golino to see if there was anything available. "They were terrific in offering Lutetia for lease. She was out of Pepperell Magic, a mare that Geoff and Sonia raced about 10 years ago and then sold to Yabby Dam Farms. "It was lovely because straight after the race Anton was on the phone, ringing Mick to give us all his congratulations," she said. Pepperell Magic, by Kadabra out of Adella Lobell, has had four foals to race including Havana Magic (by Dream Vacation) 11 wins and 24 placings; and All Cashed Up (by Ready Cash), six wins and five placings. Anne-Maree and Mick do a good job with a small team, with another of their stable, Teetreetommy, having scored at Melton a little over a fortnight ago. They train at Daylesford, along with Anne-Maree's two brothers Peter and Glenn, on the family property formerly owned by their dad Bob Conroy, who tragically died in a training incident three years ago. "It's a great set up. It's busy, but we all know our jobs that we've got to do and we all work in together. But there's always a fair bit of fun along the way too," she said. Anne-Maree got the judge's decision at Geelong on Lutetia by a head, to defeat her brother Glenn on Mynamesgraham. "I was pretty sure I'd won. Over the years Glenn and I have filled the quinella quite a few times, but I couldn't say which one of us has the wood on the other - I've just got bragging rights at the moment!" she laughed. "And I was extra pleased because it meant another win for the WomenCan Team Teal pants campaign. "It means a lot because each win is for a good cause and especially being initiated by (Victorian harness racing identity) Duncan McPherson who lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer. I think this is the seventh year and it's just a lovely thing to do." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

He might be harness racing's hot property now, but Shepparton horseman David Moran took a little while to find his niche. The 33-year-old trainer-driver's rise to prominence alongside champion pacer Lochinvar Art would perhaps suggest a talent that was nurtured from birth. But conversely, Moran spent stints as a shearer and an explosives worker before a life-changing decision to turn to full time harness racing. "I didn't have any family history at all in the sport, but I did get introduced into it when I was 13. But a few years later I went off doing other things," Moran said. "Like most young kids I didn't know what job I really wanted to do. My dad Nick is a diesel mechanic and at one stage I thought that would be okay, but then changed my mind." He might have turned his back on the mechanics game, but you can bet Moran will have his champion pacer Lochinvar Art "tuned to the minute" for his next assignment-Saturday night's $500,000 Group One Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup at Melton. "His trackwork has been really good. And I've actually been swimming him a lot more. It just keeps him off his legs a little and it's something different," he said. A winner of six Group One races and $1,083,456 in stakemoney, Lochinvar Art (Modern Art-Ponder In Paris (Ponder) goes into the Hunter Cup as a short-priced favorite. His form has been scintillating in recent weeks with victories in the 4yo VicBred final at Melton; the Shepparton Gold Cup and the Petstock Ballarat Cup. Moran and "Artie" have drawn barrier nine, two off the inside of the back row, in the pinnacle event to Victoria's TAB Summer of Glory. “Artie” in motion: Lochinvar Art and David Moran (Stu McCormick Photo) "I haven't made too many race plans. You really have to see how things unfold, but obviously I'd love to settle in front of my main dangers, including King Of Swing," he said. "It's surreal to think that here I am competing with people like Luke McCarthy and Anthony Butt and some of the other great drivers. When you are young and starting out, you don't imagine for a minute that you will ever be up against them, let alone beating them." But now, there is an air of confidence around the way Moran drives Lochinvar Art and he's earnt respect from his peers. "I'm feeling fairly relaxed and looking forward to the next four or five weeks with the really big races coming along. They are the benchmarks. Lochinvar Art is spot on and seems to be getting better and better," Moran said. The talented horseman was introduced to harness racing through his friendship with school mate David Aiken junior, whose father David Snr is one of the leading trainers-drivers in our country. "We lived nearby, and I ended up working on-and-off for the Aiken stable for ages. David Jnr isn't involved in the sport now, but he still lends a hand at the family farm when he's needed," Moran said. "After school finished, I tried some other things. I took off shearing for more than 12 months at one point. I didn't mind that and was taught by one of the best in the district in 'Spud' Sidebottom," he said. "Then later I got a job with an explosives company. We basically blew rock out of open cut mines. There was a lot of travelling and we could only transport the explosives at certain times so we worked big hours." Moran then took the decision to return to harness racing on a full-time basis, initially as a driver. He was Victoria's leading concession reinsman for a number of seasons. "They were great times and two of the toughest junior drivers were Ellen Tormey and Glen Craven, who have both gone on to carve out great careers," he said. Nine years ago, Moran made the Shepparton Harness Racing Club complex his base, preparing half a dozen horses. Moran's fortuitous association with Lake Macquarie businessman and owner Kevin Gordon began in 2014 and it's a relationship clearly based on mutual respect. Gordon, who had a long history in greyhounds, as well as interests in harness racing, said he first met Moran when he approached the young trainer about placing his former Kiwi pacer Smo. "I had the horse with Sydney trainer John Binskin who won a few with him. When the horse developed a few problems, John suggested he may find his form again in country Victoria - he suggested that I get in touch with David," Gordon said. "David did the job and Smo won six races over the next 18 months before I then sold him over to the west." The passion and excitement of Gordon, and the skill and humility of Moran have gradually come to notice since a day in 2017 when, as has been well-documented, Moran selected Lochinvar Art for Gordon at a ready to run. An impressive two-year-old colt, purchased for $29,000, Lochinvar Art has proved to be the bargain we all dream about-with his record standing at 49 starts for 27 wins, 14 runners-up cheques and five third placings. The fresh energy of an emerging team just "enjoying the ride" to the top with their superstar has captured the imagination of not only harness racing followers, but Moran and Gordon are just taking things "one step at a time". Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

An ill-fated mare who won just two races is continuing to make a welcome impact on the lives of enthusiastic Melbourne harness racing brothers Joe and Sam Vassallo. Panorama-sired pacer Stunning Impact was according to Joe a "very lazy racehorse with not a lot of speed". "She also had a terrible attitude and I'm pretty sure that most people would have given up on her," he said. After 31 starts for victories at Cranbourne and Kilmore, plus four places, for $7800, Stunning Impact was retired, but Joe said she fortunately showed far greater talent in the breeding barn. Her first foal Stunning Jasper (by Village Jasper) won 10 races and 22 placings for $71,000. Pacific Fella-sired unraced gelding Stunning Revival was next and then followed current in-form mare Stunning I Am (74 starts: 10 wins and 18 placings for $62,000). Heartbreak struck when Stunning Impact and an unborn Pegasus Spur foal died in the next season, but the tragedy led to a twist of fate for the Vassallo brothers. "I was given a free return service and decided to try and lease a mare," Joe said. He ended up with Ginger Gem (Keystone Salute-Styx (R C's Dee Jay) owned by well-known Shepparton owner-breeder, Peter Hornsby. The resultant foal was brilliant trotting bay mare I Am Pegasus, a winner of 10 of her 19 starts with earnings over $125,000. "She is an exciting horse who is out spelling at the moment, but we've won two Group One races with her," Joe said. I Am Pegasus won the $100,000 Aldebaran Park VicBred Super Series final for 3yo trotting fillies at Melton on July 5, 2019, and then took out the $50,000 Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed for Speed Gold Series final at the same venue on February 29, last year. Champion driver Chris Alford took the reins both times. Meanwhile Stunning Impact's best-performed offspring, the eight year old pacing mare Stunning I Am, is giving Joe and Sam plenty to cheer about with a win and four placings from her last five starts. "She won a few weeks ago at Melton and then fought on gamely last Wednesday with a second there again," Joe said. "We've only got Stunning I Am racing at the moment as a couple of the others are out. We'll probably put her in at Melton again next week." Joe said he's been involved in harness racing for about 30 years. "We haven't got any family background in the sport. I started helping out at some stables and learning as I went. I branched out training myself later and it just went from there. "It's great to have brother Sam helping out and we basically do it together. We work out of stables at Toolern Vale so we both have to travel a bit-I'm 25 minutes away at Caroline Springs, while Sam has probably a 40-minute trip from Sunshine." Both Joe and Sam have full-time jobs which requires some juggling with their harness racing pursuits. "Our employers are both pretty good. I've been an engineer with City West Water since 1979-the only job I've had since leaving school," he said. Joe said in addition to a trainer's licence, he also held a driver's licence for a while. "I drove four winners. While I enjoyed it, I wasn't going around all that often. If I made a mistake, I'd have to wait two weeks to fix that when I raced again! "During the last three or four years I held a licence, I didn't even have one race drive so I let it go. It's a lot easier to use the likes of Alford, Caldow, Sugars, Herbertson and co!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Hinch family in Victoria's western district just love their harness racing-but it's their pocket-sized gelding that's in the spotlight and grabbing all the attention. Eleven-year-old Poppin Pepe is a miniature pony standing at just seven hands high and the undisputed family favorite, according to harness racing trainer and mum Emily Hinch. "He's a little handful at times with his biting and kicking, but our kids absolutely love him. He's been just great for them to learn on in the pony trots," she said. Little Pepe has become something of a social media sensation, after a spirited (if somewhat agonising) recent second at Stawell pony trots. https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/1125907161172675 The Hinch family lives at Portland, on the far south-west coast of Victoria, and bought "Pepe" in October 2019 from Lisa Glynn at Mount Gambier. "Her father trains and races pacers, and her three girls were all successful in the pony trots, so Pepe had a good grounding," Emily said. "Our eldest daughter Molly, who is nine, was the first to compete with Pepe and they won five races together at Mt Gambier," she said. Its a family sport.  Molly and Angus Hinch "Molly now has another pony, Rockin Rex and our son Angus, who is seven, couldn't wait to get involved. He's now in his first year and won at Mount Gambier, with multiple seconds, after taking over the reins behind Pepe. Then there's Mitchell, who is four, and he's already wanting to start driving." Angus and Molly bring Poppin Pepe and Rockin Rex after another competitive race Emily has been involved in harness racing for a long time but took a break when she and husband Matthew decided to start a family. "The last horse I trained before giving it away was Manwarra Logic and he won at Maryborough with Caleb Lewis doing the driving," Emily said. "Then nearly 10 years later to the day, I trained El Banco to win first-up last October at Ballarat with Matt Craven the driver. He's since won again for us at Horsham." Emily said El Banco was a nice horse, if somewhat quirky, but was probably well aware of where he ranked in the Hinch equine hierarchy. "We take Molly and Angus to Mt Gambier every fortnight when the pony trot races are held. It's only about an hour's drive and they also race at Hamilton, Ararat, Stawell and Horsham," Emily said. Pacer El Banco with his two mini stablemates Poppin Pepe and Rockin Rex at Mt Gambier "Angus and Pepe raced at Stawell last week and finished second to Pride of Petite, driven by Reagan Clarke, of Ballarat. They then had two fourths at Mt Gambier last Friday, while Molly had two wins on Rockin Rex." (Clarke, younger sister of talented youngster Conor, grabbed one of her best wins on Saturday night, with success in the pony trot cup at Saturday night's Hygain Summer of Glory Melton meeting, collecting a trophy and rug). The Hinch children now have February 12 circled on their calendar-Ararat Cup night where they will be competing, and Emily said both Molly and Angus would be keeping up the work with their ponies. "We've got a small track at a 10-acre property we are developing. The kids put in the work, particularly leading up to an event. I think Pepe goes best when he's kept a bit fresh because the last 50 metres usually finds him out!" she said. "Some days he's right on top of his game, and then other times he's just not with it and wants to do his own thing. The pony trots go over 600 metres and little Pepe usually gets a huge handicap lift and only has to do 280 metres. But that's probably far enough for his little legs!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness racing reinswomen - and for the first time one reinsman - will be driving home an important message as they compete over the next six weeks. The industry across Australia and New Zealand is again rallying its support behind the WomenCan Team Teal campaign raising research funds and awareness about women's cancers. Harness Racing Victoria chairman Dale Monteith announced the Victorian Team Teal ambassadors at the inaugural VHRC gala dinner at Crown Paladium last night. The Victorian ambassadors are Jodie Quinlan, Kate Gath, Kerryn Manning and Jackie Barker. Throughout the campaign, more than 260 female drivers across Australia and New Zealand will wear teal-colored driving pants, with industry bodies contributing through sponsorship for each "Teal Pants" victory. The campaign last year raised a total of $165,000 in support of the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group's (ANZGOG). In addition, 20 Team Teal ambassadors will wear Teal silks, attracting additional sponsorship contributions - and for the first time, Team Teal has a male "stand-in" ambassador, in NSW reinsman Robbie Morris. Morris is only too pleased to be donning the teal silks as a substitute for his wife KerryAnn and doing his bit to help try to reach the HRNSW fundraising target of $50,000. "KerryAnn's been involved pretty much every year in some way, shape or form since Team Teal started six years ago but this year, we're expecting a baby and so obviously she's not able to drive," Morris said. "She definitely didn't want to let the Team Teal campaign slide though, so I was only too happy to pull on the pants for the cause," he said. In NSW, KerryAnn (Robbie) Morris, Amanda Turnbull and Ellen Bartley are training and driving ambassadors, and Ashley Hart and Jemma Coney are driving ambassadors. In Western Australia, Racing and Wagering Western Australia's (RWWA) Community TAB program is the main sponsor of the WA team and will donate $200 each time a race is won by a WA Team Teal driver over the six-week period. The WA team is made up of eight reinswomen: Deni Roberts, Emily Suvaljko, Aimee-Lee Wood, Jocelyn Young, Lauren Jones, Madeleine Young, Maddison Brown, and Tonia Stampalia. Deni Roberts and Emily Suvaljko are the 2021 Ambassadors proudly representing the WA team for the campaign. WA Ambassador Emily Suvaljko Emily said the Team Teal campaign each year gave WA reinswomen a great sense of camaraderie. "There's a bit of friendly rivalry but you get a bit more eager and just that little extra satisfaction when you do get across the line first," she said. "The girls are ultra-competitive all the time, so this just adds a little bit more to it - but you definitely always make sure you congratulate any of the other girls if they've beaten the boys! "Last year the WA girls got 37 wins - we're definitely aiming to do even better this year and each win puts another $200 in for the cause." The Team Teal campaign was created by well-known and popular Victorian harness racing identity Duncan McPherson OAM who lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer in 2010. Victorian reinswomen set a cracking pace from the start of the campaign last year, and notched up 128 Team Teal victories, raising a total of $48,000 over the six weeks. This year trainers and stable staff are getting in on the act too, signing up for fundraising Team Teal Shirts to wear throughout February, and jumping in with opportunities to sponsor Team Teal members. But women's cancer groups say while funding research is important, the awareness side is even more important this year. They say cancer screening rates having fallen noticeably during 2020, due to COVID-19, making it even more important for women to be aware of common symptoms, to get back on track with their screening, and to visit their doctor if they notice changes. Teal is the international color of ovarian cancer awareness and the Team Teal challenge runs from February 1 to March 14. To get involved visit this site here. To find out more about gynaecological cancers visit here.  Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

As a harness racing "newbie" starting out in the 1990s, Stawell Harness Racing CEO Lisa McIlvride certainly didn't ever envisage herself at the helm of the country Victorian club. And even much less that she would be celebrating her 25th work anniversary alongside a colleague who started with her that same year, Manager Kim Mornane. But this week the two marked the career milestone, in cohort with the 25th anniversary of the club's Trackside Bistro and Gaming facility, the opening of which lured them on-board with the club. But, not surprisingly, the popular administrator says it's "the people along the way" who have been the highlight. "Kim and I went to Melbourne and trained together because back in those days, that's where you had to go to do your gaming machine training. Kim was a casual and I was one of two full-time staff who started when Trackside opened," Lisa said. "I really didn't know what I was walking into - at the time I'd been married a year, and the job got my interest. Now I've got two adult children and for a lot of that time I've been able to work full time helping to run a harness racing club. I am proud of that, but it also says a lot about the flexibility of the role and the people around us." Although Lisa began working on the gaming side of the Stawell HRC operation, she made the transition to the sports administration in 2000, when the club lost its long-serving manager Kaye Matthews. "I guess that is one of the things I have really valued about doing this job, the really beautiful people you meet and work with every day. People like Stan Anyon, who helped establish the club in 1956 and was on the committee for so long, and Reg Cooper and Geoff Sanderson. Colleagues like Les Chapman and Elizabeth Clark and Paul Rowse have all helped me learn in the industry," she said. "The foundations those people put in place and the support they have given me have helped us build the club into the success it is now. We now have a 45-machine facility, and a 200-seat bistro and have gone from just a handful of staff, to between 32 and 40 on the team, a lot of whom are also coming up to mark 20-year milestones with us," she said. The Stawell Harness Racing Club runs nine race meetings a year, but Lisa said the bistro and gaming business provided it with support and resources that other clubs don't have. "Harness racing certainly takes up a lot of my time - you're advocating for the club, working on programming, structuring your feature races and building on each race meeting. There's all the advertising and marketing that goes with that, applying for grants and so on," she said. "And of course, you're pretty much working on your cup day all year. Running a club means you are always working on harness racing and in a lot of the clubs with part-time administrators, they end up doing a lot of work out of hours or it falls back on volunteers. "Having a full-time person means that you can dedicate that time and it also means you have resources for trophies, for additional prize money and try things like our Maori Legend feature race." Lisa's respect in the industry earned her the sport's highest honor for women in Victoria, the Pearl Kelly Award, in 2014. "That was the same year that (Great Western horsewoman) Kerryn Manning won the Gordon Rothacker Medal," she said. "Along the way Kerryn and I seem to have shared some milestones, so it was lovely that it was here when she got her 4000th winner and the next day Lisa and I celebrated 25 years at the club. Kerryn Manning celebrated her own milestone at the Stawell HRC meeting – her 4000th win as a driver "That's what it's all about - the people. I've loved horses since I was a little girl and I can't ride now because of an injury, but I still enjoy very much being around them. "It's a buzz to see the excitement on racedays from people who just absolutely love their sport and their horses. People like Katrina Fitzpatrick are just hilarious when they get so excited - it's just beautiful and you can't really get that in any other job. That's what it's all about!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ex-pat Aussie harness racing couple Shane and Lauren Tritton hadn't seen a lot of snow before a life-changing move to the USA last year - but that's all changed now! "Both of us went on the usual school trips to the snowfields-and that was about it!" Shane said. But it's winter in America and that can mean extremely cold weather and big snowfalls. The Tritton duo is based at a training centre about one hour and 45 minutes from New York City, at Pine Bush, an area where the average is about 45 inches of snow per year - and this week saw a nice "dump". "It can present some challenges with training the horses, but no way do we dread getting out in it. We look at it as more of an experience," Shane said. "Halfway through this morning it started snowing and didn't stop. I think we got four inches, but it was a cold day with the top temperature being minus four. It was down to minus 15 at one stage. "It's definitely different. We've found you have to get rugged up and just be patient. The work crew at the training centre clear the snow from the tracks so we can keep going." Shane said the colder months presented trainers with a little uncertainty in that "you don't know exactly how the horses are feeling". "It's way more difficult than any other times. By the way the horses act and behave in the warmer months you can get a handle very easily on where they are at," he said. "Horses that haven't grown up with snow find it a bit unusual. You can tell which ones have - they're the ones that want to roll in it and play around." Don’t even venture out without the right gear! Tritton stablehand Herman is rugged up for the elements for trackwork at Pine Bush Official weather records show that Pine Bush can have an early start to the snow season in late October. Snow usually continues for the next four months. The wintry weather can persist with light flurries and snow showers in March - with even mid-spring snowfalls recorded, occasionally as late as May. The Tritton team has got off to a flying start in the new year with former South Australian Cup winner Pat Stanley posting two wins. Their never-say-die veteran Flaming Flutter and former New Zealander Happy Dryden also have one win apiece. "The form of Flaming Flutter is unbelievable. He's got such a good attitude, he's happy and healthy and we certainly look after him. He's 12 years old and can keep racing over here until he's 14 so he's got a few years left in him yet," Shane said. The couple spent many successful seasons based in NSW before arriving in the USA last March. They finished 2020 one shy of a magical 100-win season across two hemispheres. "We recorded 99 winners - 36 in Australia and the other 63 over here in the US," Shane said. Coincidentially their numbers put the Trittons in fifth place on both the Yonkers and Menangle training premiership tables! With Canada shutting down racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tritton barn will soon expand to 30. "We are aiming to still stick around that number and no higher. There's eight of us doing them and trainers over here are only allowed to have one horse in a race. So when you put seven in, there's no double ups, and you're obviously contesting seven races which is a big night," he said. "Strict COVID protocols are in place at the meetings with a limit on the numbers that can attend from each stable, and wearing masks is compulsory. But we feel very lucky that we are living in a small rural area." Two of the stable big guns will return to racing this week-My Ruby Star, who won seven of her first eight starts, will race at Yonkers, while Lady De La Renta is off to Meadowlands. Tritton, who admits to keeping a close eye on the racing scene back home, said the form of superstar Lochinvar Art (David Moran) was exciting. "The horse would match it with them over here if they decided to do the trip after the Newcastle and Miracle Miles. But I think if they asked any other down under trainer who's now based here, I think any of us would suggest a six-month transition period," he said. "It's a huge change. There's so much to take into account like acclimatization, and all of the transition. But also just adjusting to the practicalities of a big move and things like the style of racing and the different bikes. "When we arrived here there was restricted racing due to COVID virtually from day one and it was frustrating, but in hindsight it gave us a chance to ease in. "I've no doubts that Lochinvar Art would be very good here." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When it comes to combining their harness racing pursuits around their employment, Melton's Borg brothers Charlie Borg and Joe Borg have it down to a fine art. Charlie and his older brother Joe have reined in their harness racing commitments, now preparing a small team of three - a far cry from years gone by when they would prepare up to 30 horses. "It's more of a hobby these days and I reckon we are both enjoying it a lot more," Charlie said. "It would have been probably 15 years ago when we were doing the big numbers and then up until three years back, we still had 10 or 12 in work, but we've continued to cut it back," he said. The brothers are still passionate about their horses but with working full time, nowadays they are for fun and relaxation. "I'm in the spray-painting business and work during the day, while Joe is a traffic controller on night shift," Charlie said. "We both more or less have set tasks at the stables-but it's working well. We are having fun especially when we bob up with a winner. We work in together really well and enjoy our catch-ups at weekends-that's when we mostly see each other." The brothers are following in the footsteps of their father Tony, an astute trainer who enjoyed success with Eyes Are Looney, Gozo Boy, Borg Stein, Borgs Choice, Miss Kellie and others. "When we were little kids growing up at Rockbank, we'd always be mucking around with horses," Charlie said. "I've been driving for over 30 years but I mainly just drive our own these days. I've still got the passion, I love it." Charlie showed a fine touch at Yarra Valley recently to land Seize Power (Real Desire-Jayne Tee (American Ideal), who shot his rivals out of the water in the Toyota Pace at the bolter odds of 66/1. To watch the video replay click here. Settling second last, Borg made his move three wide with 850 metres to go. He joined the leaders on the home corner and Seize Power stuck to his guns nicely. "I really didn't think he should have been those odds because his previous run at Melton was good and he had no luck at all in a 56 second last half," he said. Charlie Borg and Seize Power salute at bolter’s odds at Yarra Valley "Joe claimed him off Lance Justice in late 2018 and got a win with him at Bendigo. He was going well early, then we couldn't get him right and the vets found that he had a cracked bone in a back leg. "So he had time off and then when he came back in, he still didn't seem right. We found an abscess then and treated him up and thought he was ready to go until another one burst out. So he's had a few stops and starts. "But he's fine at the moment and should keep improving with more racing. He's our stable star that's for sure. When you haven't the big numbers in work, you can concentrate on them pretty well." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Loveable grey Hollys Miss Molly is certainly one standout harness racing standardbred - both on and off the racetrack. As a determined and capable racehorse her beautiful coloring ensured her a loyal cult following over a long career - but her gentle nature and a "volunteer job" as an aged care visiting horse made "Molly" something special. But with 37 victories and 81 placings for more than $274,000 to her name as a pacer from 330 race starts, and at 11 years old, this one in a million mare is now embarking on a new career - as a square gaiter. "She could always trot a bit at home. We'd never put a head check on her and she would just go along very clean. Not once has she ever galloped," trainer Robbie Walters said. "This time in, we haven't put the hopples on her and we just thought let's give her a shot at being a trotter," he said. "But it's all well and good to work safely at home so we've trialled her at Bendigo and Cranbourne in the past week just to be sure she's okay. She had two good hit-outs and we were more than happy with her. Watch Hollys Miss Molly trial at Bendigo here.  "When she didn't get in foal, my wife Caroline, who owns her, was the one who was keen to try her as a trotter. "It's going to be hard as she will be on a tough mark and against the fast class mares, but if it doesn't work out, we own her, so it won't matter much." Hollys Miss Molly (Jet Laag-Lombo Luvbird (Panorama) isn't without trotting blood in her pedigree. "There's two half-sisters that raced as trotters and one of them in Death Defying, who was by Life Sign, won 10 races about six or seven years ago, so you never know," Walters said. "Molly" has been an outstanding racehorse over the years, winning pacing races in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania for the Walters stable. She last raced at Cranbourne on April 19. Caroline acknowledged "Molly" was near the end of her career, but she wanted to see how the family favorite would handle this new challenge. "We all love her. We bought her at the Alabar Blue Ribbon sale in 2010 and our daughter Holly played a big role there," she said. "She cried and refused to leave 'Molly's' side until we bought her! And she is certainly a horse that is out of the ordinary. She's a special and kind girl, that's for sure." Off the track, Hollys Miss Molly is a star visitor at a number of centres that care for the sick and elderly. Caroline is charge nurse at Kilmore District Health, and said "Molly" had made regular appearances at aged care facilities during the past five years. "She is just so gentle, and we can tell she is happy to go there. It doesn't matter if we take her to see hospital patients or in aged low or high care, she just seems to know they are sick. "She treads very carefully when she moves about. She gives out the kisses, but one of her favorite things is eating cake! "She's also made 'guest' appearances for functions like Melbourne Cup events and Christmas parties. She really is amazing." Molly makes a special Christmas appearance in her volunteer visiting role Robbie Walters said he had previously trained square-gaiters, but most of them had proved to be "fairly slow ones". "We're excited to see how 'Molly' goes at the races. We plan to nominate her for next Saturday night or maybe the following week," he said. "It's funny but I've had so many people ask why we haven't trotted her before this. She has been terrific over the years and while she was earning about $40,000 each season, to be honest, we weren't keen to change a thing!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Talented Riverina harness racing duo Ellen Bartley and Blake Jones have every reason to be upbeat about their recent addition to the stable. Six-year-old gelding Nowhere Creek (Metropolitan-McArdle Lassie (McArdle) has hit his straps in sensational fashion with four wins and a second from half a dozen starts since joining their Leeton barn. "He's just a nice little horse who is on the up. Everything we ask of him, he just goes out there and does it," Bartley said. And tonight, at the Junee meeting, Nowhere Creek will be chasing his biggest scalp yet for the young couple when he lines up in the $16,300 Phoenix Accounting & Business Services Junee Pacers Cup. "When the fields were released and I saw we'd drawn inside the back row, I wasn't all that happy. But after having a look it mightn't be that bad because the pole horse we're drawn behind could hold up," she said. "Anyway, Blake will sort it out. There will be a number of options. We'll just have to see how the race pans out." Without giving too much away, Jones will be relying on lady luck to get away from the pegs. "I intend to punch through at the start and then hopefully be able to get out at the right time," he said. "Our horse has got a good turn of speed, but there's a few nice ones in the Cup." Nowhere Creek was super impressive in winning a qualifying heat last week-on the heels of success in a heat and final at the recent Leeton carnival. To watch the video replay of Nowhere Creek winning a qualifying heat click here. "He got sent down to us from Menangle, so we were very lucky to pick him up," Bartley said. "The new season has started okay for us. We haven't got a lot of horses going around at the moment. There's a few to come in at the end of the month when it cools down a bit." Blake Jones will also be looking to defend his title in the annual grudge meeting between regional and metropolitan-based drivers. Jones will team up with Bruce Harpley, Pete McRae, Adam Richardson and James McPherson for the annual Country versus City invitational challenge series. The City representative side includes David Morris, Josh Gallagher, Ash Hart, Will Rixon and Leonard Cain. They will compete in three penalty exempt races worth $10,710 each. Other features of the night include the Alan Harpley and Phyllis Harpley Memorial events along with the $11,730 Milbrae Quarries Final. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

After adding a "bag of five" to his expanding harness racing CV at this week's Mildura meeting, you'd think talented young Victorian reinsman Jack Laugher would be content to just enjoy the moment. But after an 800-kilometre round-trip from Bendigo and a 4.30 am finish to his Mildura mission, the single-minded Laugher was back feeding up and doing jog work early the next morning...and setting his sights on the next challenge, tomorrow night's Group One Ballarat Pacing Cup. "Yes, it was a pretty good night on Wednesday (at Mildura). You have your good runs and your bad runs in this game, and at the moment I'm having a good run, so I'm definitely enjoying that," Laugher said. "I knew I had a reasonable book of drives and three of my winners opened up at two dollars or less, I think, so I was just glad to be able to get the job done for them," he said. Laugher opened up his winning account at Mildura on White Star Village (Village Jolt - Priscilla Presley (Village Jasper) for young Mildura trainer Reece Moore. He then scored with Pembrook Charlie (Sportswriter - Pembrook Belle (Art Major) for Julie Douglas. He followed up with Maestro Bellini (Bettors Delight - Santuzza (Safely Kept) for the Kate Hargreaves stable, then continued his fine touch with Laser Major (Art Major - Virgin Goddess (Albert Albert) for Mildura trainer Rick Holmes in race 10. Laugher rounded off the "fab five" in the final race on the big 12-race fixture with Harry McKinnis (Shadyshark Hanover - Haryda Hanover (Armbro Operative) for another local trainer in Peter O'Brien. Jack Laugher back in the winner’s circle again (Photograph: Charli Masotti photography) It was a fitting high-point for Laugher who's launched impressively into the new season. Prior to his Mildura success, Laugher recorded seven wins (including three metropolitan victories), and 9 placings from 44 starters. He got 2021 off to a flier on January 2 winning with Better Be The Bomb at Melton (for Basil Dooley) then followed up the next day with a Group three win in the Central Victoria Championship with Krafty Bart (Emma Stewart). On January 4 he won at Maryborough (Fighting Fury for Emma Stewart); January 6 (Ferocious Son for Basil Dooley); January 8 (Rockasaki at Melton, Emma Stewart); January 9 (Torrid Saint at Bendigo for Julie Douglas; and January 15 (Execution Oro at Maryborough for Emma Stewart). In another career highlight, Laugher makes no secret he is thrilled to be partnering Better Be The Bomb in the Ballarat Cup. He's had four drives on the pacer for two wins and a second. "He's the best I've driven no doubt. He's a lovely horse and to get an opportunity to drive in a Group One race while I'm still a junior is a pretty special thing to me," he said. "It'll be a great just to be there and I think the horse will do his best. The race has changed complexion a little bit, with Hurricane Harley scratched. We will definitely need some luck somewhere, but we'll be doing our best." Laugher has already moved away from family in Tasmania to pursue his career, after following his dad Michael and his grandparents into the sport. "I wasn't really that interested until I was about 16. I was always going to be a mechanic, but about the same time I got offered an apprenticeship I'd already started with the horses and getting my trials licence so I was always going to go this way," he said. "Mum and Dad actually moved to Victoria when I was only little, then moved back home to look after my grandma, but dad still used to bring a team over to Victoria to campaign for a couple of months each year. "The last trip he did I came over with him and I just decided Victoria had more opportunities for me. Tassie is great, but you can usually only race twice a week there - here you can race twice a day sometimes. So I just thought if I wanted to make a living out of it, I had to move." Laugher demonstrates on a weekly basis he's willing to go almost anywhere for a drive in an effort to make the successful transition from concession to senior driving ranks. "I'm not really sure how long I have left on my claim, but it's not long, so I need to be getting those regular drives, and driving without a lift, otherwise when my claim runs out, it's going to be hard," he said. "It's nice that a lot of the ones I'm driving don't need a claim, so hopefully now that I've got a bit of a run going, I can keep it rolling." In the past COVID-extended season the youngster had 89 wins.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

In-form harness racing trainer-driver Lisa Miles has had her share of doubles during her career-but none quite like her most recent one. Miles, based in Victoria at Darraweit Guim, near Bolinda, got the first leg of a training double at Maryborough - but she wrapped it up with the second leg 140 kms away at TABcorp Park Melton. It was something of a rare feat, but further spiced up by the fact that both winners were in the very first event of their respective venues. "I suppose it was a bit different-perhaps we could say it was a stretched out double," Miles laughed. "Back a few years ago I would do double-header meetings all the time, competing at a day meeting first, then bolting off to a night fixture. But nowadays I'm trying to make life a bit easier! "And I was flat out on the day, so I actually didn't take the first one to Maryborough myself - but I really did think she would go close. I was pretty confident." Junior reinswoman Jordan Chibnall, who works for Miles, took six-year-old mare Whata Glimpse (We Will See-Vera Mac (Pacific Fella) to the Maryborough meeting with her brother-in-law Mitchell Frost. After starting well from the pole, Chibnall elected to take the sit behind race favorite Good Guy Mack (Mick Bellman). On the home corner it looked a race between the two-the question being would Whata Glimpse prove too strong when utilizing the sprint lane. Chibnall urged her charge up the home straight and they got to the line with a three-metre advantage. A little over six hours later, Miles tasted success when victorious with Highclere (Art Major-Rhodium Castle (Western Terror) in the DNR Logistics Pace at Melton. "It was blowing a gale and I decided to go forward with a little bit of trepidation. He'd been racing in stronger company and I gave him a big chance," Miles said. Highclere, after leading, was challenged in the first lap by Trembita, who then in turn handed up to Silver Domino at the bell. In a slick piece of driving, Miles worked her way clear from the pegs and grabbed the one-one down the back. Highclere zoomed to the front on the home corner and comfortably held on to beat Major Mal, who caught the eye and should be one for the blackbook. "I was so happy for Jordan because her win on Whata Glimpse was her first for me. She is a hard worker, reliable and sensible, and she will continue to do well in the sport," Miles said. "Jordan listens and learns quickly. Recently she has been picking up more outside drives as trainers are taking notice of her." Miles, who has 16 in work, proudly dons the race colors of her late and great grandfather Alf Simons, who was a legend of the sport in his day. "My mum Betty still comes out regularly to the stables a couple of times a week. I would be lost without her because she cleans the harness and takes on any other jobs that need doing," Miles said. Betty Lewis, who trained and drove successfully, was an inspiration and role model for women in harness racing. "She's still a big part of our operations-and brings morning tea which we love!" Miles said. "We've been going along nicely in recent weeks and providing I'm weighing in and our runners are racing consistently, I'm as happy as can be." Jordan Chibnall gets up the sprint lane to win with Whata Glimpse at Maryborough Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A member of one of Victoria's most notable harness racing families is recovering in hospital after a training accident this morning. Glenn Gath was fast working horses at a Long Forest property, west of Melbourne, owned by his brother Andy when he was tipped from the sulky and thrown into a pine fence post. Gath was taken to nearby Bacchus Marsh hospital and after being medically assessed was transported to Royal Melbourne Hospital. Glenn's partner, Garrards Horse and Hound veterinary consultant Dr Virginia Brosnan, said he had fractures to his cheekbone, an eye laceration and bad bruising. "Glenn told me that he and Andy were just finishing a galloping session, when he got tightened up and basically ran out of room. He was thrown face-first into the fence post," Dr Brosnan said. "He was able to get up and walk after the mishap. The eye laceration needs stitches, but doctors have told us that his eye is quite okay, which was a great relief," she said. "He's pretty bruised and a bit beaten up, but he's awake and very, very lucky. It could have been far worse. Glenn Gath made his comeback to harness racing last year "He was wearing a helmet and vest at the time. He also had glasses on, and we think they might have saved him from more serious injuries." Gath returned to harness racing last year. He had spent 10 years in thoroughbred racing at Lloyd Williams' Macedon Lodge, but returned to the standardbreds after the Williams family shut down their stable. Gath is the youngest son of former champion trainer Neville, and grandson of the Australian great, the late George Gath. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A standout season for young Tasmanian harness racing trainer-driver Taylor Ford wasn't enough to stop her from snapping up her dream job on the mainland. The 22-year-old recently joined the stable staff of Parwan horsewoman Jodi Quinlan, north west of Melbourne, and wasted no time in getting into the winner's circle. "I didn't have to think over the job offer all that much-and it has certainly proved to be the right decision because I'm absolutely loving it," she said. Ford was successful for her new boss at the recent Geelong meeting with brown gelding The Chancer (Bettors Delight-Fairest One Youare (Life Sign) raced by Geoff Walker along with Garry Rogers, who bred him. "I met Jodi when she ran third with Star Chamber in the Tasmania Cup at Hobart last year. We kept in regular contact after that and have become very good friends. I couldn't believe it when she offered me a full-time job at her stables," she said. Ford was forced to death-seat with The Chancer at Geelong, but didn't panic and got the most out of the horse to win a thriller by half a head from Gee Smith (Greg Sugars). Midnight Whisper (Kerryn Manning) was a head away in third place. "I wasn't sure that I'd won. It was very close, but I was excited to get my first win over here. I've had only a few drives and hopefully other trainers will give me a go with my five-point claim," she said. To watch the video replay of The Chancer click here. "It's great working for Jodi because she has quite a few trotters, which is something different for me. I'm learning so much and enjoying every minute. Hopefully I can keep driving some winners." Taylor comes from a passionate harness racing family based at Brighton, a small town with a population of just over 4000 people, situated 25 kms north of Hobart. "Last season was the best I've had back home. I had my own team going which was always around the 15 mark and (leading Tasmanian trainer) Ben Yole was really good to me by putting me on regularly to drive as well," she said. "I drove nearly 30 winners and took out the junior drivers' championship which was a big thrill, and I also got about 20 as a trainer along with a heap of placings. "It's a family involvement and it kept us busy, but we all did our bit. My mum Tammy has taken over training duties and that's working out pretty well." Ford said the move to Victoria also provided a change of pace with raceday engagements. "We probably only went to one or two meetings a week back home - since I've been here, I've never been to so many meetings in a week in my life!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Victorian harness racing driver Tony Calabria can't remember the previous time he landed a winner in the sulky, but he won't be so quick to forget a recent Melton trip. "I really can't recall which horse I last got the money on. It would have to be a good few years ago though!" he said. Records show that his last win was in 2008 at Globe Derby in Adelaide, behind Mustang Harry, a pacer he part-owned and trained. But despite the long absence from the winner's circle, Calabria hasn't lost the fine touch that held him in high regard in South Australia. Now living in the outer western Melbourne suburb of Fraser Rise, near Caroline Springs he drove a well-timed race on Arocknatthepark (A Rocknroll Dance -Toppathepark) to take out the Allied Express Pace at TABcorp Park Melton last Friday night. The five-year-old gelding's victory was Calabria's first at the Melton track. To watch the video replay of Arocknatthepark click here. "We thought he had a good chance because his previous run at Tabcorp Park was better than it looked on paper. He's a nice horse and should win his way down through the classes," Calabria said. Arocknatthepark had won three races at Addington prior to crossing "the ditch" from New Zealand last year, and now has a record of seven wins and six placings from just 29 starts for $42k. He is trained by Calabria's good mate Tony Romeo, who races the horse with Angelo Cammaroto and Gary Furina. "Tony was in harness racing for a long time before switching to have a go with gallopers. I actually got him back into the trots," Calabria said. "I've known him for years. He's got a place at Diggers Rest which is just 10 minutes away from me and we've got a great working partnership now doing five horses," he said. Calabria works with the railways as a safety supervisor overseeing work on railway sleeper and track replacement projects. "I do night shift so that gives me time in the mornings to muck around with the horses," he said. "Both Tony and I get plenty of enjoyment in doing the horses, but we have a bit of fun as well." Calabria said he initially got involved in the sport while living in South Australia. "When I was young, I'd go for holidays and work at a property with Joe Carbone and Peter Sergi, who were big trainers at Golden Grove at the time," he said. "A few years on I was lucky to drive some winners for them. Conte De Cristo was a brilliant pacer, and the square-gaiter The Upper Crust was pretty good. Probably taking out the Gramel series with Main Artery was one of my biggest wins." Since moving to Melbourne eight years ago, Calabria has kept his hand in, spending off-and-on stints training and driving as his commitments allowed, but in recent years has concentrated more on the training side. "I had a bit of luck with a few handy horses. Brookfield Ruler was good on his night and won a couple with Nathan Jack and Brian Gath taking the reins," he said. "I got itchy fingers quite often especially when I had a few years break from 2014. I realized I was missing being a driver. I'm rapt to be back and I'm just loving it." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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