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Jocular Bathurst harness racing trainer John Boserio has his team loaded and on the road for the annual pilgrimage to his second home -Queensland's Gold Coast. Boserio, one of the true characters of the industry, packed up for his first extended northern campaign way back in 1983, when the Gold Coast was the country's tourism mecca and harness racing was at its zenith. "I suppose it's become a bit of a ritual ever since. A couple of times I was keen to shift up there and settle permanently, but my family wasn't on the same page," he said. "But we have heaps of fun and we get away from the freezing winter days that we can cop in Bathurst." And he should feel quite "at home". He'll be part of an exodus of Bathurst trainers including Chris Frisby, and at least three others, who are planning northern campaigns for the winter. Last season the group took up about 40 horses between them-and it will be close to that again if they all make it up there. Boserio recently trained the 150th winner of his career and has been in great form landing half a dozen winners in the past month. Also a shrewd reinsman for many years, Boserio gave driving away after an accident about eight years ago. "I smashed up one of my legs pretty badly and I still have screws and plates keeping an ankle intact," he said. "I haven't driven since, although every now and again I think to myself that I could get out there again!" The milestone training win came courtesy of talented youngster Holy Camp Dillon (For A Reason-Holy Camp Girl (Trump Casino) at Bathurst earlier this month. It was the pacer's third consecutive win-and handled nicely each time by Anthony Frisby. Boserio is aiming his rising star at the Queensland Derby during the campaign. "I raced the dam Holy Camp Girl (Trump Casino-Paxton Joy (Panorama) for a while - in fact she was the last winner I drove before giving it away. We led all the way at Dubbo in January of 2012," Boserio said. "One of the breeders, Clive Anderson lives in Holy Camp Road at Grenfell, so all his horses are named using the Holy Camp part. After my crash, I told Clive that if I ever got back to training, I wouldn't mind one of her foals. "I was lucky enough to be offered Holy Camp Dillon. He's improving all the time and should make a very nice horse." Accompanying Holy Camp Dillon will be four two-year-olds, spearheaded by recent winners He's Sweet and The Grogfather. The other pair in Happy Publican and Rock N Roll Times have a few problems, but Boserio hinted they also have ability. "I've been training for 40 years, but I've taken some time off now and again," Boserio said. "I went off bus driving for a bit and when I was having a spell in the early 2000s I went to the Bathurst sales. A horse by Trump Casino, bred by Wayne Lamb, caught my eye and I ended up with it for $4000," he said. "He really looked an outstanding type. The horse later raced as Four Trumps and won 25 races (13 at Harold Park) for $270,000. We sold him to the US and he ended up winning $700,000 over there." For many years, Boserio, and several of his NSW Central West contemporaries made their winter base at the Border Park Paceway, the picturesque home of harness and greyhound racing at Tweed Heads. But when that closed, they were forced to find alternative stabling for the visiting teams. (Border Park was acquired in mid-2016 for $16.5M and cleared 15 months later to make way for a northern NSW economic hub, planned for development over the next eight years) "We wanted to stay down that end of the Gold Coast. After talks with the Tweed Heads Pony Club about two or three years ago, we were able to use their complex, which is great. There's a small track, a few stables, but we all mostly put the horses out in paddocks," Boserio said. It wouldn't be a Northern crusade for Boserio without his longtime friend and harness racing fanatic, Ronnie Jones, who's been there since the beginning. "I was drinking at a pub one night with Ronnie's brother Pat and just happened to say I was taking a team to Queensland," he said. "Pat suggested I should take Ronnie-that was back in 1983! Ronnie's been coming up with me ever since and we're now the best of mates. "Ronnie is a hard worker and pretty much just leaves me to take care of the fast work. He does the feeds, cleans up the manure, trains them on jog days-so I really get it very easy," he laughed. They intend to stay for at least two-and-a-half months in Queensland. "Our accommodation is paid up until the first week of September and then the plan is to get home for the Breeders Crown series," Boserio said. So any harness racing fans living or passing through the Coolangatta area and needing "a dose" of trots talk, the Kirra Hotel could be just the place over coming weeks! Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

Veteran horseman Ray White can't wait to be part of the harness racing action again, but admits that as he's getting that bit older, things are taking that bit longer to mend. The 78-year-old was seriously injured in a race fall at the Riverina Paceway, Wagga Wagga, late last month and spent several days in hospital. "I don't remember much about it-but I can say that I got knocked about a fair bit," a surprisingly chirpy White said. The popular trainer-driver, probably the oldest going around in the area, suffered a punctured lung, broken collarbone, serious shoulder blade injuries, five broken ribs on the same side and bruising. To watch the video race replay click here  "I've been involved in a few little prangs, but nothing like this one. But I suppose a fall I had at Gosford was pretty bad, and then at Harold Park years ago I went over one of Vic Frost's horses," White said. "My theory is that after the drought, the ground got a bit harder. Otherwise I may have not got smashed up so bad," he joked. "You really have to expect these things though. I know I'll be out for at least another couple of months, but I'm already getting itchy to get back and a bit irritable and frustrated. "I'm being well looked-after by family, my daughters came down to see me and the harness racing and local community has been terrific. "I know the industry sticks together and looks out for one another-but I didn't realize it stuck this good." White said local horsemen Shane Hallcroft and Rod Woodhouse had each taken one of his team to keep in training. "They wanted to take them all. The support has been overwhelming," he said. White was driving Run Viv Run when the accident happened, but said remarkably the pacer got out of it pretty well. "He had a bit of skin off here and there, with some minor abrasions to his head and shoulder." The gelding, sired by Caribbean Blaster, is cleverly named with reference to Sir Viv Richards, former West Indies cricketer, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. White grew up with horses, riding them around his parents' dairy farm at Wagga Wagga when just a youngster. "We were always mucking around with them. I was maybe 11 years old when I was putting hopples on them and trying to get them to pace. Our dad Eddie loved his horses and won a few metro races," White said. After leaving school aged 15, White got his licence to drive in races the following year. "I stayed in Wagga Wagga until I was 27 then took three or four horses down to Sydney to give it a try. It all worked out and I stayed there for over 40 years, moving back home about 10 or 12 years ago," he said. White was based at Bankstown and established himself as one of the leading trainer-drivers of the era, regularly preparing big teams of 30 to 40 horses. He finished in the top 10 for a number of seasons and won premierships at nearby local tracks. "I was very fortunate to have some nice pacers over the years. We did well, but we also worked pretty hard at it," White said. The talented Vision Hanover, sired by Menges Hanover USA, swept all before him in the late 1970s, winning a number of features including the renowned Simpson Sprint. The brown stallion established himself as a top three-year-old and at one stage held a race record for his age group. Other successful horses for White included Risky Red, who claimed Derby and Tatlow victories, while Mister Langus and Irish Mint were also prolific winners. "Vision Hanover was the best horse we've ever had. We still have fond memories of him-he was just all class," White said. "These days it's just on a hobby basis. A few of us in the family own a couple of broodmares and we breed a foal now and again. I train out of the showgrounds which is ideal. "I've been reading all the harness racing stories and then spend the rest of the time on the computer checking results and looking up fields. "But harness racing is a bug. Once you catch it, that's the end of you! As soon as I'm feeling right to go, I'll be onto the doctors - I can't wait to get back!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

To quote one of my favorite Australian Football League commentators Brian 'Bristle' Taylor: "Boy Oh Boy...Wow-eee!" And even former harness racing Sydneysiders Shane and Lauren Tritton, now domiciled in North America, admit that they are pinching themselves. The couple is living in Pine Bush, an hour from New York City, and have had two starters for the 100 percent strike rate of two victories. My Ruebe Star got the job done mid Saturday morning Australian time and then stablemate Gods Spirit did likewise the following day. Both won at the famed Meadowlands circuit and were handled by Jordan Stratton. They naturally came in for support on our TAB agencies so there was sure to be plenty of cheering around the country. "We're riding a wave we never want to get off," the Trittons posted. "And a big thank-you goes out to everyone who has helped us along the way. The support we've received has been unbelievable." Shane and Lauren took a team of 12 over with them and have picked up another six horses since arriving in the US in late March. Some of their others yet to be unveiled by Team Tritton include Yayas Hot Spot, Flaming Flutter, Ohoka Johnny, My Rona Gold and Katy Perry, who should all be going around soon. Jordan Stratton has helped Shane and Lauren Tritton to two first up wins ------------ THE superstar of Victorian regionalization racing in the far north west corner of the State, Bernie Winkle is unfortunately taking an enforced break from the action. Bernie Winkle (Rock N Roll Hanover-Dolly McD (Mach Three) recorded six consecutive victories on the Mildura circuit-but it was the authoritative manner he went about business that earnt him a cult following during lockdown racing. The brown gelding, raced by Eric and Heather Anderson, was sent up the Calder Highway by Glenn Douglas, to his long-time mate Geoff Lucas. From April 24 to June 5, Bernie Winkle thoroughly enjoyed his working holiday in the sunshine. Shane Smith guided him to five wins and then stand-in reinsman Andrew Stenhouse (coincidentally both former Broken Hill horsemen), took the horse to a 1.56-4 last start win. Stenhouse, who recently drove his first winner for 10 years, was cool as a cucumber and handled Bernie Winkle with aplomb for an impressive win. Stewards noted after the race the gelding was lame in his off-side foreleg and stood him down until he gets a veterinary clearance, with the problem believed to be a hoof abscess. A relieved Andrew Stenhouse got the job done like a pro on Bernie Winkle at Mildura ------------ THE marvel from Shepparton, nine-year-old pin-up boy San Carlo, is warming up for another campaign. San Carlo (Mach Three-Bridge Player (Classic Garry) performed with plenty of zest in a recent trial and then wasn't all that far away in his first race start for nearly five months. The tough warrior, trained by Stephen O'Donoghue and Bec Bartley, stepped out at a Shepparton meeting last Saturday night. The gelding finished fourth to Courageous Saint, owned by enthusiastic Swan Hill participant Noel Watson, in a handy 1.56-9 for 2190 metres. San Carlo boasts a super-impressive 50 percent win to start strike-rate at the races. He's had 30 victories and 11 minor placings from 60 outings for over $571,000 in stakes. Raced by John Eichhorn, the pacer performed in a tough NZ Inter Dominion campaign last November-December. He later won a fast class event at Mildura on January 24 prior to having a let-up. San Carlo is sure to make his presence felt in feature races on the country circuit. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Stawell Harness Racing Club President Geoff Sanderson received an early birthday present when four-year-old mare Beekaecee broke through for a long overdue win at his home track. Trained by Michelle Wight, Beekaecee (Four Starzzz Shark - Carly Michelle (Albert Albert) squeaked home by a short-half-head in the Sign Online Pace last week to reward Sanderson and co-owner Brett Crouch a VicBred bonus for their patience. The winner was driven by young gun, Jason Lee. To watch the video replay click on this link The consistent mare has had 22 starts and failed to weigh in only five times, but Wight said it had been frustrating to finish so close, so many times. "She's run a heap of seconds and thirds, and I wouldn't know how many fourths, to it's great to finally get there," Wight said. "It's taken a while, but sometimes when they get that first win, that can be a turning point for them. A pacer we raced a few years ago called Pacquiao took nearly 40 starts to win his first one - then went on to win four from six starts! So things can turn around once they get the hang of it!" she laughed. Wight said a large group of interested supporters had a small interest in Beekaecee. "It was a pretty popular win. There are some of Brett's mates, some poker mates and some other friends. And I didn't realise at the time, but being Geoff's birthday the next day, it certainly made it that much sweeter for him." "And it was actually a Great Western First Four in that race! We won the race, dad (Peter Manning) ran second, with Sport Dreamer, Jason Ainsworth, who works for dad ran third, and (Michelle's sister) Kerryn and Grant finished fourth." Beekaecee (inside) scored a narrow breakthrough win at Stawell Geoff Sanderson has enjoyed a long association with the sport, most notably as the owner of superstar square-gaiter Knight Pistol during his early racing in the 1990s. "Geoff's been in the sport a long time, and Brett and Geoff raced Babalaas Jack with me," Wight said. "But he won a few and got on his mark, then he got claimed, so they were looking for something to replace him and ended up buying Beekaecee," Wight said. "She's been a nice little horse who's kept earning, without getting that VicBred bonus, so it's now great to have won that for them." Wight has reduced her usual team of three or four horses in work, to just two racehorses for the time being, over the winter months. "I'm just racing Beekaecee and Outback Feather at the moment, but I've been inspired by the lovely wintery weather to bring another young one in to break in and another to jog up!" she said "Things have been full on at work (Hotondo Homes), so that will keep me busy enough." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former Aussie harness racing team Shane and Lauren Tritton have kicked off a new chapter with the best possible start to their USA move. The couple has a team of 18 in work, and took their first runner to the famed Meadowlands circuit, near New York City, early today Australian time. My Ruebe Star (Falcon Seelster-Zenola Star (New York Motoring) didn't disappoint, scoring a comfortable win for reinsman Jordan Stratton. A relieved Shane Tritton described the win as "pretty surreal" but the couple was thrilled to get "the monkey off their back" in the best possible way. "I'm not sure if its relief or what it is, but it was just unbelievable to get the win," he said. "I think the greater relief was actually to get one to the races - we have been under a lot of pressure being away from home and away from our friends. It was a big move and it is a relief to finally be underway." Shane said he was pleased his dad, trainer Peter who moved to the US 20 years ago, was able to be trackside for the win. "Dad's been showing us the ropes, so it was fantastic to have him there. I think he was relieved as well, because I think he was worried we might blame him if things didn't work out as we hoped!" Shane laughed. "It's just so exciting. We've been talking to family and friends back home and you just have to pinch yourself that it's happened." My Ruebe Star was a winner of 10 races in Australia and was among a dozen horses that relocated to the Northern Hemisphere with Team Tritton. "We're so proud of her. She had to do it a bit tough early and we were wondering if we'd had to use her up a bit much. But Jordan said she felt fantastic right from the start, and first up, we just couldn't have asked for any more. "We always liked her back home but she was coming up against he best mares in NSW towards the end. We always thought she just needed to mature a bit and she would take that next step." The couple will follow up with another ex-pat Aussie, again at the Meadowlands, on Saturday night (Sunday morning Australian time) in eight-times Australian winner Gods Spirit (Tintin in America - Cathar). "Gods Spirit is in a similar type of race but we're definitely not getting ahead of ourselves. As long as he runs up to his ability, we'll be happy." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Brilliant Queensland harness racing driver Shane Graham hasn't wasted any time in hitting his straps again. The 38-year-old from Logan Village is arguably among Australia's top dozen most talented drivers and in his comeback from a two-year absence has landed the money at four out of his first six meetings. He was charged with two counts of match fixing by Queensland Racing Integrity in December, 2017, relating to an Albion Park race run on July 28, of the same year, but returned to the sport last week after a successful battle to clear his name. While on the sidelines, the third-generation horseman Graham worked as a truck driver, carting water to job sites to control dust in new sub-divisions. Graham resumed eight days ago in unassuming fashion, finishing out of the money in his only steer at Redcliffe (Thursday) on La Pistola, but the gifted reinsman has since reignited his career in emphatic fashion. He showed he'd lost none of his brilliance with victories at consecutive Albion Park meetings on Friday and Saturday nights and then a day fixture on Tuesday. He got down to business at Albion Park on Friday, combining with well-known trainer Charlie Cini to take out the Mr Feelgood@Egmont Park Stud pace with Vantori Hanover (Mr Feelgood-Voluptuous (Art Major). To watch the video replay of Vantori Hanover click here. The following night was of special significance, saluting with Glenferrie Hood for his father Wayne. Glenferrie Hood (Christian Cullen-Niftey Franco (Badlands Hanover) won the feature race, the $14,540 AQWA Constructions Open Pace- the pacer's 46th triumph in what has been a sensational career, amassing $536,000 along the way. To watch the video replay of Glenferrie Hood click here A sweet win with Glenferrie Hood for Shane Graham and his father Wayne (Dan Costello Photo) At the Tuesday afternoon "Creek" meeting, Graham scored with Soho Tsunami for Cristina Monte and her husband Charlie Cini. Soho Tsunami (Somebeachsomewhere-Valencay (Bettors Delight) has now won three races from seven lifetime starts. To watch the video replay of Soho Tsunami click here Graham again teamed with his father to go home winners from Redcliffe on Wednesday. Four-year-old bay mare Torque Is My Girl (Sportswriter-Torque In Motion (P B Bullville), bred and owned by Ian Carazzol, scored narrowly in the 3yo and older pace. It was her fifth win. To watch the video replay of Torque Is My Girl click here. Shane Graham has been involved in horses for as long as he can remember and has driven more than 2500 winners. He's landed over 100 winners in a 16-season period and was Australia's leading driver in his best season, with a massive 259 winners in 2015. Over the years he has been a regular Queensland representative in Australian State challenges, but nominates representing Australia in Canada, at the World Championships in 2017, as a highlight of his career. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

The big day has finally arrived for ex-pat Aussie harness racing team Shane and Lauren Tritton when they make their first trip to the races. It's now down to business, after 10 weeks of preparation at their new North American base, with the couple having their first two starters at Meadowlands on Friday and Saturday. My Ruebe Star (Falcon Seelster-Zenola Star (New York Motoring), a winner of 10 races in Australia, will get the ball rolling on Friday night (race 6), followed by eight-times Australian winner Gods Spirit (Tintin in America - Cathar) on Saturday night (race 5). Lauren said although the COVID-19 shutdown was somewhat of a blessing, allowing the family to settle into their new lives at Pine Bush, an hour from NYC, they were now itching to go. "We're so excited to have our first starters, but we're taking it slow," Lauren said. "We're not rushing into things because we want this to be a long-term success. We'll let the horses build into their preparations and we expect that they'll then improve every start they have moving forward." Lauren Tritton in action at Menangle – next step competing in the US   Their much-anticipated racetrack debut is the highlight of a big fortnight for the couple. Ten of the team they took with them to the US went around successfully in the qualifiers last weekend, where Lauren also made her debut in the bike, landing two wins from two drives. To watch the videos click here "Having my first drive in the qualifying was exciting," Lauren said. "I'll admit, though, it was a little like jumping into the unknown when I jumped in the cart! But once we hit the track, Flame (Flaming Flutter) reminded me that this is just another track, and it's time to get on with the job," she said. "After that, I was really comfortable with an all-time favorite in My Rona Gold. They both scored nice wins and I have to admit, I did really enjoy that!" To watch the videos click here. But both the race starters this weekend will be handled by accomplished North American reinsman Jordan Stratton, a winner of nearly 4000 races. Stratton already has a formidable partnership with Shane's father Peter Tritton, who's been training in the USA for 20 years. Lauren said while she definitely has her eye on regular race driving, she's not rushing that next step. "I really enjoyed driving in the qualifiers, but I'm not going to jump straight onto all the horses," she said. "I want them to get used to the racing here and Jordan has really helped us get them ready, so I'm happy to let him get them sorted. "I'll pick my time to start driving in races, but I'm sure it won't be long. I'm ready to rock 'n' roll when the time feels right, but right now, I'm just enjoying working the horses with Shane. "I know women don't drive as often here especially at the higher level - and that was the case in Australia, too, at one point. "But we proved we are more than capable in Australia and I've got no doubt in time the same will happen here. "If I can be a part of that movement, I would be very proud." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Passionate Kilmore harness racing figure Rita Burnett still gets as big a kick out of driving winners as anyone - and that's after 40 years in the sport. Still with the zest of someone half her age, Rita's never been afraid to follow a hunch - and a recent Cranbourne win with comeback pacer Taleggio is confirmation the wily horsewoman's instincts are still sound. Five-year-old Taleggio (Betterthancheddar-My Minnis Folly (Tuapeka Knight) was banished from a racing career, which had yielded two wins and three placings, after pulling up with a roaring noise following a trial last year. "We thought that was it, and because he was only a little fellow he'd be okay to do the pony trots with my sister's grand-daughter Courtney Laker," Rita said. "She's very good when it comes to horses and plans to get into harness racing next month when she turns 16. But after my daughter Monique broke Taleggio into the saddle, Courtney then went off competing in shows with him. They did really well and won a few ribbons." But something about Taleggio kept Rita interested, and she thought he was worth another shot at the track. "I always liked the horse and in the end spoke with his Tassie owner Jamie Cockshutt about having a throat operation done and giving him another go," Rita said. "Jamie's had many very good pacers and he was fantastic. He told me if I was willing to pay for the surgery, he'd sign over the horse and give him to us. So, he had five months away and the operation worked a treat." At Cranbourne on Sunday, Rita showed patience to the final corner before storming home to post a 10-metre victory with Taleggio, a $11 chance in the Mark Gurry and Associates pace. "He's usually a bit rattle-headed at the start, but he may have finally grown a brain! His three runs back have been okay, particularly when he ran fifth in quick time and made up ground," Rita said. "His nerves can get the better of him, but I reckon he can win two or three more with the way he's going." To watch the video replay of Taleggio winning click here. Rita and her partner Jim Maragos work out of the family complex, Grand Lodge, established years ago by Rita's parents, the late Leli and Mary Mifsud. Rita's brother Aussie and his wife Julie are also based there, as well as Rita's daughter Monique and her partner Josh Duggan. And there's more than a bit of excitement at the complex, with Monique recently announcing she and Josh are expecting a baby. Rita had her first race drive when she was 16 and was one of the trail blazers for women in harness racing. The likeable dual-coded trainer has a team of four or five pacers in work at the moment along with one thoroughbred and over the years has built an outstanding reputation for her ability to break-in and educate youngsters. "I get a lot of pleasure working with the babies, even when they give me a hard time! What I love most is when they make it to the races and run well for the owners," Rita said. "But getting a winner now and again...I still just really enjoy it, because we all work hard and put a lot into it," she said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura    

A 133/1 shot win by Western District cult-horse Australian Bite might have surprised punters at Terang - but for his trainer Gloria Council it's exactly the magic that keeps her in love with harness racing. It takes a special sort of commitment to get out and train a team on an icy, blustery, wet Portland day, but Gloria laughs that she bounced out of bed the day after the 12-year old pacer's blowout win last week. "When it's bitter wind, rain and hail, you don't enjoy that one bit, but when you get a win that's the thrill of it, and the pleasure of the sport, it's what keeps you going. It's not about the money, it's about the love of it and the people, and I think everyone on track congratulated us that 'Ruddy' had won," Gloria said. "The horse just kept giving and giving and young Jason (reinsman Jason Ainsworth) did a brilliant job from pretty much an unwinnable position. It was a terrific drive, but the ducks really did just line up for 'Ruddy' the other night! "It was a really good feeling and that's what it's all about." To watch the video replay of Australian Bite winning click here Gloria was born into harness racing, with her dad (the late) Tim Bourke, and her brother (the late) Barry Bourke both long-term trainers in the region. "I used to go down to the beach with dad when I was a kid and ride them in the water for him," Gloria said. "He trained from the time he was about 14 with friends down here, Teddy and George Jennings, then my brother Barry got involved. "I went off to teacher's college, so I stopped with the hands-on involvement for probably 30 years. But my niece Donna has also been a trainer and my nephew Heath is a driver so I always stayed interested, and eventually I found my way back into it. "Now, my sister (Coral Muldoon), who's 79, is my sidekick at the trots and although she can't be there at the moment (with COVID-19) she just loves it. My cousin Neil trains them with me and he's my strapper." Gloria and her cousin/strapper Neil after Australian Bite’s boilover win at Terang Incredibly, when Gloria took the decision to get her trainer's licence about 10 years ago, Australian Bite was one of the first horses she trained. "I was training a couple of two-year-olds and one had to be turned out. At the time, my nephew Tim owned Australian Bite and my niece was training him," Gloria said. "He wasn't going much chop, and my niece decided not to continue with him, so Tim offered him to me, to work with my young one. "He wasn't too flash there for a while, but he was quirky little fellow (he's named Australian Bite for a reason) who did always show a little bit of something and we did get him to run second in the Mt Gambier Battler's Cup!" But Gloria said she clearly remembered the day that she discovered, almost by accident, that Australian Bite didn't appreciate the whip. "We'd taken him to the track for fast work and we were running quarters in about 40 and not looking like going much faster. In frustration I hit the whip on the dust-sheet and he just took off! Literally," she said. "We tried again the next week and we clocked him doing 27 quarters. So we just went from there. That was the key to him." Soon after, Australian Bite (Jet Laag-Ella Jane (Golden Reign) won a heat and final of the VicBred Platinum four-year-old series, and has gone on to win more than $57,000 in stakes. "You just have to hit the dust sheet - it's the only way he'll go. And he does have to have races run to suit him. But if they run along early and he can get out, he will be there at the finish - that's been the case right through his career. "And it just goes to show you can never give up on them, because he's probably running as well now as he was when he was four." Gloria, who retired about six years ago after 26 years as principal of Portland's All Saints School, said getting back into the horses provided both a routine and an outlet. "It's been fantastic to come back into them. The first day back in the cart was a bit hairy, but once you've done a few laps of the track it comes back to you. The first day doing fastwork, I'll admit I was petrified," she said. "I'm training three at the moment, and I've had up to six. We still take them to Bridgewater Beach, although I drive them in the sulky rather than ride them these days! "I just get a thrill out of being involved and I've never regretted it for a minute. Even when I had an accident about four years ago, when a dog appeared on the track and tipped me out, it was the horses that got me back. "I had a bleed on the brain, a fractured pelvis and shoulder and it was a lot of surgery and rehab, but if it hadn't been for the horses and wanting to get out there and train and drive them, I would never have got back to being as fit and agile as I am now." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura    

There's no doubt that Charlton Harness Racing Club has had more than its share of "false starts", but the innovative club just keeps rebounding with new ideas. The Central Victorian club has weathered setbacks from Mother Nature, in the form of record rains and floods in 2011, then at the other end of the pendulum, extreme heat waves forcing the rescheduling of one of the club's most important meetings in is history. In between, they've endured shutdowns for a track redesign, then again managed to hold the interest of supporters during their massive multipurpose sports centre redevelopment. And, now, just as they were up and going again, COVID-19 is testing their powers of ingenuity by again leaving the club for months without a meeting. But led by enthusiastic president Joey Thompson, Charlton HRC is again finding a new way to bounce back and generate new interest. "Yes it does get a bit frustrating at times. The floodwaters that inundated our racetrack and complex in 2011 certainly caused a great deal of damage to some of the old buildings," Thompson said. "Then when we were all set late last year to unveil our new $4.2M multi-function centre, grandstand and upgraded track, a heatwave caused us to reschedule the opening by a few days," he said. More than 800 people attended the December 22 meeting-the first to be staged at Charlton in 18 months. And since then, the club has managed only four home meetings at the new complex before the COVID shutdown, with local trainers zoned to Bendigo under the original regional zone model, now expanded to include Shepparton, Kilmore and Cranbourne tracks. But an new tipping competition is the latest innovation to bring local industry participants together and build networks in the sport. Joey Thompson’s “Bushy Lodge” is the “virtual tally room” for the lockdown tipping comp And President Thompson says it's had some unexpected - and positive - spinoffs. "Our lucky lockdown number one tipping comp we ran at the start of COVID generated plenty of interest. It was all about the fun of having a social punt, but it's actually increased our membership base through guest participation," Thompson said. "It's introduced our club profile to a new audience and what's surprised us is that it's been a bit of an education tool. We think ultimately it's probably going to lead to some new owners in the sport. "When you've been in trots a long time, you take the finer details for granted - but for some of the new tipsters it's been a real learning curve to find out about things like the meaning of sr1 (barrier one off second row) and even what a mobile barrier start is. "But it's fantastic that there's people out there getting to learn more about harness racing. Then in the long term when they come along to our trots meetings, they'll have some idea about the caper." The club has now launched its second round lockdown tipping competition. "We've tagged it 'bring a friend' round. It kicks off at the Bendigo meeting on Wednesday and costs $10 registration per player." The competition will be conducted over four meetings, with contestants to bet to the value of $15 on the final four races of each meeting, with only win and place permitted. The leaderboard and results will be available the following day and posted on the Charlton HRC Facebook page. Registrations are to be paid direct to the club account CHRC BSB 633000 Account 120810015. Players should text names to 0499701322 as well as their selections. Anyone forgetting to lodge bets will be allocated the race favorites. Prizes will be announced at the close of registration, while random betting vouchers will be awarded, which can be used at the Charlton Cup day meeting.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Northern Victorian harness racing is mourning the loss of one of its most dedicated and popular administrators and supporters, with the passing of Bob Watson at the weekend. The popular former Cobram club secretary manager lost his battle with cancer and died on Saturday, aged 80 - 12 months after stepping down from his role. Bob and his wife Marg were the lynchpins of the energetic little club. Bob, who was "local born and bred" and a life member of the club through his previous involvement as a local studmaster, clerk of course and owner, took up the role as secretary manager "when the club was going through a rough patch". He attended the very first Cobram trots meeting in the 1950s with his dad and spent a lifetime around horses. Always "horse mad", over the years Bob was involved in showing and playing polo cross. He was also a harness racing owner, a thoroughbred owner-breeder and held various equine management roles. Bob was stud master at Denison Farm (later Eliza Park Stud) for 28 years and he and his wife Margaret set up a thoroughbred agistment property, Rosewood Park at Tocumwal, which they sold only due to Bob's health concerns. When Bob took on the Cobram secretary's role he was ably supported by Marg, the "administrative powerhouse" of the team. It was a difficult time for the industry and the Cobram club had only a small member base, limited sponsors and some compelling financial challenges. The couple put their considerable energy to work, committing many volunteer hours themselves, cutting unnecessary expenses and finding new members and community sponsors. Bob always credited a dedicated committee for turning around the club's fortunes, getting support and grants to build a four-box trainer's facility on-course, upgrade water and power supplies, improve the drivers' and members' rooms and upgrade the amenities. He was twice recognised at HRV's Premier awards night for his expertise in managing the club - in 2011 as Secretary of the Year (part time) and in 2017-18 as Secretary of the Year. But more than that, Bob and Margaret are known throughout Victoria and southern New South Wales for their passionate support of the sport and its people, well beyond their Cobram harness racing community. The couple's proudest accomplishment, the iconic Cobram Pink Day (a hugely successful breast cancer fundraiser), is held each May, but has been rescheduled for Shepparton in June this year, due to COVID-19. Along the journey, the annual Pink Day has raised more than $158,000 for the McGrath Foundation, and one of its biggest supporters, trainer and reinswoman Donna Castles says this year's 10th anniversary will now take on even more poignancy. "We're all so sad about losing Bob. He was a wonderful man and wonderful for the sport. Nothing was too much trouble, whatever was needed, he and Marg would find a way to get it done," Donna said. "Pink Day was Bob's baby - it was his idea and his and Marg's energy turned it into the event it became. Pink Day was special for every one of the girls involved over the 10 years, and it'll be bigger and better than ever this year because we'll also be doing it for Bob. Bob Watson at 2019 Cobram Pink Day "He'll still be watching us, telling us what we're doing wrong! But we loved him so much and we'll all certainly be missing him." Harnesslink sends it’s condolences to Marg and the Watson family.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

WITH the green flag dropped to signal the resumption of harness racing in the US, Team Tritton is in the starting blocks and ready to go. "Over the next few days, we'll have some of our runners competing in qualifiers at two tracks. It's pretty exciting - we can't wait," Shane Tritton said. Shane, his wife Lauren and son Levi packed their bags in March and left Sydney to try their luck in North America. They are based at a state-of-the-art training centre at Pine Bush, about one hour north of New York. The team will transport My Ruebe Star and Foo Fighter to the Goshen historic track in New York for qualifiers. The Goshen half mile track, in the beautiful Hudson Valley, was founded in 1838 and is the world's oldest harness racing track. Then it will be off to Meadowlands, New Jersey, for Team Tritton, with Im A Director, Gods Spirit and Aftrdinnrspeaker. The final appointment is back to Goshen where "big guns" in Yayas Hot Spot, Ohoka Johnny, Flaming Flutter, Shezlimitless and My Rona Gold will strut their stuff in the qualifiers. Tritton's father Peter has trained successfully in the US after moving over there about 20 years ago. Gun reinsman Jordan Stratton, with well over 3000 wins and $US52M, will take the reins for Tritton Jnr at the qualifiers. Lauren Tritton (Ashlea Brennan Photography) ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ TALK about a formidable combination! News of gifted reinswoman Kima Frenning joining forces with the powerful training team of Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart, near Ballarat, was enough to send shivers down the spine of even the most stubborn competitor. And they kicked off at Tabcorp Park, Melton, on Monday in the best possible way with a winning double, which also took Frenning past another personal milestone-her 100th victory for the season. It has been somewhat of a stop-start season for the former champion Swedish Monte rider as she has just returned to driving following a horrific fall nearly two months ago. Her Melton winners were Jobells Image (Always A Virgin-Arts Image (Art Major) and Minuscule (Bettors Delight-Our Petite Soeur (Grinfromeartoear). Jodi Quinlan also chimed in with a Stewart winner - Celebrity Chef (Heston Blue Chip-Celebrity Lass (Art Major) - as well as getting another for herself in Illawong Barmah (Muscle Mass-Illawong Blush (S J's Photo). Emma Stewart and Kima Frenning ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ TEENAGE reinswoman Miranda McLaughlin couldn't have scripted it any better! McLaughlin landed an emotional winner at her last race drive before heading off in a new career with the Royal Australian Navy. Driving three-year-old filly Ab Fab (Bettors Delight-Speights Girl (Mach Three) for her Junee boss Trevor White, concession driver McLaughlin showed all the poise of a veteran to storm home with a wet sail to score at Wagga last Friday. The quietly-spoken 19-year-old couldn't contain her excitement with a whip salute as she crossed the finish line. "It was certainly a very good way to go out-I was a bit emotional, but it's only for a year, not forever. Of course, I'm going to miss all of it. I just love the game and the horses. You have your good days and your bad, but it's great," she said. McLaughlin will spend the next 12 months in the Navy, something that she has wanted to do during a gap year for a while. She said it was the ideal way to see more of Australia and she was looking forward to the change in direction. "I always wanted to travel while I'm young and the Navy is the perfect way. You can do horses for a lifetime and I'll be back with them again one day. It's been a great experience and a great adventure," McLaughlin said. Miranda McLaughlin salutes as she crosses the finish line ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE candyman Greg Sugars has done it again! The former South Australian, who has been based at Larajay Farms, Myrniong with wife Jess Tubbs for a number of years now, recently posted another double century of wins in a season. And it's becoming something of a regular occurrence - it's the ninth straight season he's achieved the feat. Looking at Victorian driving statistics, as of late last week, it's no surprise to see champion Chris Alford out in front with 219 victories, 275 placings for $1.78M. Sugars is next with 200 wins, 288 placings for a similar bankroll. Alford has been writing the record books for ages. Since 1993/94, he has posted over 100 winners each season-being the joint holder with WA's Chris Lewis for having the most successive victories of 26 seasons. In the 2017/18 season, Alford took just two months and 26 days to land 100. He joined former great driver Darryl Douglas in equalling the quickest century on record. In that same season, Alford was the first ever to get over 400, finishing with 456. He did it again in 2018/19.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

In an industry where optimism and confidence in the future can be in short supply, young harness racing couple Michael Gadsden and Denbeigh Wade are a breath of fresh air. The hard-working Ararat-based pair have already forged a name for themselves for their work ethic and their success with square-gaiters, but they'll give themselves every chance to get on when they up stumps and move later this month. Gadsden, who is also a farrier, said the decision to relocate to the impressive purpose-built Charlton harness racing training centre had not been difficult. "We've got our own place at Ararat near the track, but the way things have gone, we needed something a little bigger," Gadsden said. "We're lucky to have been able to get together a fairly handy team, but we'd had a few offers for new horses that we had to knock back because we were full up," he said. "At the same time a couple of good (farrier) clients had gone out of the game, so we reassessed and started thinking about what we should do. We started thinking about Charlton and once we'd spoken to a few people and had a look at it, the decision was made." In the past decade, the go-ahead Charlton club has managed to negotiate a track upgrade as well as spearhead the Charlton Park multi-purpose facility redevelopment of its club facilities, as well as successfully establishing the nearby community training complex. "It's a fantastic facility, an awesome set up. And when we got the map out and worked out that there are 11 or 12 tracks within a couple of hours, as well as only being close enough to Melton we realised it suited us perfectly," Gadsden said. "We spoke to (former South Australian trainer) Greg Norman, who moved there about 12 months ago, then we spoke to the president Joey Thompson and they have all just been fantastic - they can't do enough to help us and encourage us," he said. Michael with three of his team – King Denny NZ, Dontshowyouraces and En Ay Jay The complex is available as a base for local trainers, or those wanting to relocate to the area with tenants having access to individual stabling complexes. Each has a fully serviced 60 x 30 shed, lock-up harness and feed area, internal yoke up and wash areas, two internal boxes and eight adjoining day yards. They also have unrestricted use of the 820 metre Training Track, a 2,000-metre straight track and a swimming dam on site. "In an industry that in many areas has become quite stagnant, the club is forward-thinking - they have a lot of members and what they have done in the past 18 months (with facilities at the track) is a real credit to them," Gadsden said. "The training complex is a great opportunity for younger trainers, like us, who don't have the financial backing, but want to try to make it as a professional trainer. "The facilities would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop on your own property, and it's so close to tracks like Bendigo, Maryborough and Ballarat, and more accessible to Mildura as well - if you can't find a race for your horse from here, you're not trying hard enough!" And the cards seem to be falling into place for the couple as well. Although they've made their name with square-gaiters (Maoris Shadow, King Denny, Ainthatrightmacca), they've also picked up a few handy pacers recently -- The Interceptor (Mach Three-Knapdale Lady) from New Zealand, an unraced three year old, and a yearling filly (Pet Rock-Cyclone Dora (Safely Kept) purchased at the March Allwood Sale and successfully syndicated. King Denny fastworking at the Ararat track "We're working five at the moment, and we have another four to come back in, as well as the new ones," Gadsden said. "We love the trotters, but we're getting back to our roots a bit and moving more into the pacers as well," he said. "We're racing at Terang and Ballarat later this week, then we'll race again the following week. After that I'll relocate to Charlton. "Denbeigh will stay working for Kerryn (Manning) for the short term, while I get things settled in Charlton, then it will be full steam ahead with both of us from later in the year."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Five-year-old pacer Saucy Dreams is sure to hold a special place for a long time in the heart of young harness racing driver Joe Druitt. The consistent bay mare, who has been knocking on the door for the past one and a half months, provided 19-year-old Druitt with his first success as a reinsman. "We came close to getting a win a few times with three consecutive second placings-and on one of those occasions the margin was only a half head," Druitt, of Wagga Wagga, said. Saucy Dreams (McArdle USA-Karamea Dreamin (Dream Away USA), bred by Ross Simpson, is raced by Druitt's father David, and made her debut as a two-year-old, back in December 2016. Her latest win in the R H Blake and Co Pace last Friday night at Wagga was her 10th with 35 placings from 99 starts. David Druitt has won six, while his eldest son Ross recorded one as well. Jordan Seary, of Junee, and Glenn Douglas, of Bendigo have also won on the mare, and now Joe Druitt has added his name to the list And judging by the way in which they got the money, it won't be their last. After easing out of the early action, Druitt settled at the rear of the field. He moved three wide with 400metres to go, and swept to the front in the blink of an eye. "I was feeling pretty confident down the home straight because I was holding them okay. I did take a quick look at one stage and there was nothing coming at us," Druitt said. Saucy Dreams won by over eight metres from $2.40 fav Rhianna Reigns (Peter McRae) in a sharp rate of 1.57-4, the final two splits in 28.6 and 28. Druitt has only had a small number of drives since getting his driver's licence earlier this season. "I was always destined to get involved in the sport because I've been around horses for as long as I can remember. I played cricket up until I was 16, but I guess it's always been on the books to follow dad and my older brothers Ross and Jordan (now in the Navy) into harness racing," he said. "Whenever I'm needed, I go and help dad out with the horses. Although he's going along okay at the moment with only seven in work." Druitt is in his fourth year as an apprentice welder with Truck Art of Wagga. "I'm really enjoying it. We do a heap of repair work on trucks," he said. And while Druitt said he was pretty excited to land his first-ever race win, he didn't do any celebrating. "I was going out motorbike riding with a few mates the next morning, so I didn't even bother having a beer at all." *Hoofnote: And in another first, Alanah Pitt, based at Leeton, prepared her maiden winner as a trainer when Nevaevabend (Blissful Hall-Nevabend Lombo (Troublemaker) narrowly won the Rusty Crackers Pace. The six-year-old was driven by her partner Adam Richardson. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A bold experiment by Victorian harness racing on Saturday morning race fixtures looks to have paid off - although the peak body is not yet releasing the full wagering details of the trial. Harness Racing Victoria jumped at the chance to schedule three Saturday morning fixtures in May - an initiative it's been actively considering for some time - with the goal of building a profile and wedging a toehold in lucrative North American markets. HRV CEO Dayle Brown said the Melton meetings (which began around 8.30 am Eastern Standard Time) were primarily timed to maximise Friday night coverage in America, taking advantage of the shutdown of US racing due to COVID-19. "The Saturday morning Melton meetings were an important first step in really reinvigorating our international approach and were beamed into North America during prime time on Friday nights," Brown said. "Wagering turnover in the US on week one was enormous - it just surpassed all our expectations," he said. "We will confirm the figures and release them in due course, but I can say that on the first Saturday it was more than six times the average USA turnover on an Victorian harness racing meeting. It was extraordinary." Brown said on the HRV Podcast this week the experiment was now the subject of a full review before any decisions would be made on the future of Saturday morning fixtures. "Weeks two and three were a little softer, as we knew. There was a resumption of racing in America, so we started to compete with thoroughbreds and some other harness products," he said. "We did this trial to get our footprint into the US market in this period when there was minimal racing and no sport. We wanted to demonstrate that we could gain traction in this market by Amercanising our product as well and building that relationship with the US." HRV CEO Dayle Brown Brown said the HRV would continue to work with industry and wagering bodies in the US, as well as prominent owners and breeders such as Gordon Banks and Duncan McPherson, who are passionate for globalisation of the sport. "It will be in cooperation with harness jurisdictions not just in the US, but also in Europe, across Norway, Sweden and France with the ATG (Swedish Wagering Company) and PMU (French Wagering Company). When PMU come back online we will certainly be talking to them about heading into France," he said. Work would also continue with Sky Racing and TABCorp, to ensure opportunities could be maximised. "We want to ensure they understand fully this globalisation strategy we are undertaking and (that we are) finding the right slots internationally that complement the domestic slots here so they both have that lovely cross-fertilisation to get upside on both ends," Brown said. "It's an exciting opportunity for us for growth in the new markets." Brown said the Victorian industry would continue to take a forward-thinking approach to its challenges. "I have said through this period and I will say it again - when you go through a very, very difficult period and there are challenges, the people who rise to the challenge and then look for the opportunity will come out much better and stronger," he said. "That goes for all industries not just sport, not just racing, but across the board." Brown paid tribute to industry personnel who had got on board to make the experiment work. "I really thank our kindred bodies for their cooperation and input and also the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association, because without them coming together as one these opportunities would be missed. "It is a real reflection on how the industry is one now, that we are working together collaboratively and coming up with the best answers, the best outcomes that are possible and I look forward to that continuing well into the future." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

A harness racing movement that began six years ago with a simple goal to raise awareness about women's cancer has raised a record $210,000 this year. Since 2014, for six weeks through February and March the Team Teal campaign has promoted awareness about ovarian cancer and raised much-needed funds for research and support by reinswomen racing in teal driving pants. Each time a Team Teal member crosses the line first, industry bodies and their wagering partner Tabcorp each commit $200 for the campaign period. The deal delivers $400 towards programs such as the ANZGOG Research Nurse Grant Program and the Survivors Teaching Students Program for every victory. During the 2020 campaign, female drivers won 453 times (Vic 128 wins, NSW 94, Qld 75, NZ 72, WA 37, SA 32 and Tas 15). The Australian total was $136,200, and New Zealand $28,800, for a Team Teal total of $165,000. Associated fundraisers and contributions added another $55,000 to the tally. Founded by Duncan McPherson in 2014 after the loss of his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer, the campaign has grown from a modest Victorian crusade to a fundraising Australia-wide juggernaut each February and March. And for the past three years, the campaign has involved New Zealand drivers as well. For all the participants, the campaign is personal, but for inaugural Team Teal participant Jodi Quinlan, it has an added dimension. "It's no secret that my mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 10 years ago, and touch wood, she's one of the lucky ones and a survivor so far," Quinlan said. "But it's a killer disease and it creeps up on people before they realise it, so it's important to raise the awareness and raise the funds," she said. "It's been an absolute privilege to be involved. I was one of the fortunate ones initially, when we started off with a set of colors, then we went to the pants and the sulkies. To see how far it's come and what it's achieving now, with all the girls driving in teal pants, and now going global, it's really rewarding." HRV Board Member and campaign supporter Judy Rothacker paid tribute to Mr McPherson's enduring commitment to the campaign. "He is to be commended for all his work behind the scenes. It's significant money that will directly help provide care to those with cancer," she said. "Everyone has someone who has been touched by cancer and this is a cancer that has confounded experts, so it's important to find a cure." And while the campaign is all about the cause, make no mistake there is intense rivalry between the 287 Team Teal members. Long Forest reinswoman Kate Gath led the charge with 23 winners for the campaign and her Victorian counterpart Kima Frenning recorded 14 individual victories. Kate Gath "To drive a winner is always exciting, but when you're driving in the teal pants, it's just that bit extra special when you get a winner," Frenning said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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