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Long-time Bendigo Harness Racing identity Peter Svanosio can deservedly look back on the past four decades with a great deal of pride and achievement. Peter, 74, recently stepped down after 42 years' service as a valued and dedicated committee member. "I certainly have fond memories because the club has made huge in-roads over the years through being progressive and forward thinking," he said. "The members continued to put their faith in me, as I've faced re-election over the years, and I feel privileged. I'm going to miss it, but felt my time was up." Peter vividly recalls the meeting he attended when he decided to stand for a committee position. "It was in 1977 and I'd been approached by the then Club President, Vic Rothacker to consider standing. I didn't know at the time, but Vic told me later he thought I'd be okay on the committee because of my passion for the sport," he said. "I decided I'd like to be elected because I didn't believe the trainers and drivers were getting a fair go in a number of areas, including the track training hours. "There was 15 on the committee and eight had come up for re-election that year for what were two-year terms back then. "About 400 members turned up and there weren't enough chairs, so we had to borrow some from a nearby school. I wasn't a shoo-in and I didn't end up with the most support, but I got enough and then actually wore two hats for between 20 and 25 years. As well as a committee member I was also president of the trainers and drivers' association. "The reason I stayed on the club committee so long was the quality of the people involved, especially the presidents over the years." Peter said one of the exciting improvements at Bendigo was the transformation of the track. "We had a flat track and constantly you would see horses breaking up and causing interference after getting out of rhythm," he said. "After floating an idea on a new concept involving building the track up with banking, we spoke with Graeme Mahar who was renowned for his revolutionary thinking regarding Victorian tracks." (Mahar, who died nearly two years ago, was a key player behind highly successful track maintenance seminars and manufactured a track conditioner. He was also largely responsible for the successful placement of canola oil on tracks.) American track guru Dan Coon, who was a friend of Mahar, was flown out by the Bendigo Club to discuss the new track design. "I still remember Dan telling me to stand on a 44-gallon drum on the outside of the track. That was roughly the height he envisaged building the outside banking up to," Peter said. "After tenders closed, Dan came back to oversee it--some weren't in favor of it, but it went ahead. "The difference was astounding as I found out while driving the mobile barrier. On the flat, you really had to gun the mobile vehicle to speed away from field, but with the track banking, you could nearly let the mobile go around itself. It's like a velodrome." Peter said two of the most successful industry-wide changes in his time were the introduction of sulky wheel discs and the removal of the running rails from tracks around the country. "Taking the rail away was considered a radical step because some people thought the horses wouldn't go around without the rail! And safety-wise, the wheel discs were fantastic for horse and driver safety, because in those days nearly every race someone would hit a spoke in a wheel." Peter, who had a stint running the Bulls Head Pub (now a medical centre) which his father bought in 1954, held a trainers-drivers licence for a while and started driving in the mid-1960s. "I didn't have many horses, mostly two at a time, and they were stabled at the rear of the hotel. It was only really a hobby," he said. "There were actually four stables there, but I would keep two vacant for South Australian people and other visitors when they come and raced. "I was very light and back then had to carry a 32-pound lead weight to get to the minimum 10 stone. I'd borrow the lead off a plumber, and a friend would bring it in a hessian bag and put it on my seat! "Our pub was a popular watering hole for harness racing people and a fair bit of talk and drinking would take place." Peter competed against the greats of past years in Gordon Rothacker, Neville Welsh, Tom Mahar, Ted Demmler and evergreen Brian Gath, who is still driving today. "I drove my first winner in 1966. The horse was Cascade Mac, trained at Strathfieldsaye by Ian Mackay, and we got the money at Kilmore on a wet and sloppy track," Peter said. "Probably the best horse I ever sat behind was Grand Pretender who was trained locally by Frank Power. He had a touch of class. "I haven't driven for about 20 years. I prefer to leave it to the young blokes." Peter is kept busy these days assisting his son Chris, a highly respected trainer-driver, who prepares a big team opposite the Bendigo Lord's Raceway. "I just love the sport-I could be involved seven days a week without a worry," he said. Peter, a life member at Bendigo, hasn't been lost to the club. "I'm still around - it's been a big part of my life and if anything needs doing, I'll help out when I can." Picture: Peter Svanosio hard at work on stablehand duties for his trainer-son Chris   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

American author Earl Nightingale once wrote: Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. It's a well-used quote, but it still rings true - especially for harness racing's Ken Browne who was last week rewarded for his persistence in never giving up on a goal. Browne, of Gruyere, 50 km north east of Melbourne, could well be the oldest driver to land his maiden victory after driving his first-ever winner just a few days short of his 67th birthday. And after 173 attempts, the win carried a touch of polish that's for sure. After being locked away three back the pegs for most of the trip in the $7000 Trotters Handicap at Cranbourne, Browne moved out quick as a flash when a runner on his outside went off-stride. In a winning move, he slid up to the death seat with 600 metres to go with Chrisken Kiosk (Noopy Kiosk-Baby Button (Safely Kept USA) to join leader Just Anything (Gavin Lang) and got the upper hand, albeit narrowly, right on the wire. To watch race replay Click here! "Now that I've got the monkey off my back, I reckon the next winner will come a lot sooner. I've finally done it, so it will be way easier," Browne joked. Browne has harbored an ambition for over 20 years to get what he calls that "elusive quadrella" of breeding, owning, training and driving a winner. "If I could do that, I always thought it would be a rather big achievement. Just something quite special," he said. "I told my son Chris (his name combined with that of his father forms Chrisken) that when I finally got that long-awaited winner, I would give a salute with the whip going across the finish line. "But I didn't do it because, to be honest, I wasn't certain that I'd won and I didn't want to make myself look silly. "The race camera operator followed me around after the finish line which is usually a good indication that he thought I'd won, but it took ages for the numbers to go up. "I honestly can't remember how I felt. I recall thinking wow I just beat the ice man (Gavin Lang)!" Browne said he had a few drinks that night to celebrate after the reality sank in. "I think I may have overdone the Bundaberg Red Rum because I didn't pull up all that well the next day," he laughed. "I'd come close a few times with some second placings, and there's been quite a lot more thirds. My first-ever second was with Gordonsville, a pacer I purchased off Gordon Turner. "We also had a good run with a pacer named High Tech Fury, but reinsman Michael Bellman did the majority of driving with him." While Browne's needed persistence to notch up his first winner as a driver, he bobs up with a winner or two each season as a trainer, with Chrisken Kiosk his 16th career success. Browne's entry into the sport goes back to 1994 when he attended a clearing sale held by respected industry breeder/owner Kevin Riseley, of Sheron Park. "I paid $2000 for a weanling out of the first crop sired by Safely Kept," he said. "That horse was later to become Baby Button, who was dual-gaited. I raced her as a pacer because of her breeding, but I'm now wishing I'd given her a go as a trotter." Baby Button has had four foals, two of which have got to the races, with the obvious star being Chrisken Kiosk with six wins and 27 placings for over $60,000. Browne said he was virtually forced into obtaining a B Grade driver's licence 10 years ago when he was finding it difficult to get drivers at the trials. "The situation was that we'd have one trial of five horses and five drivers would turn up. There were no spares so a few times I ended up fast-working mine by themselves after the trials to get their fastwork done," he said. Browne is hoping that his seven-year-old stable star Chrisken Kiosk has at least another two seasons left in him. "He doesn't win out of turn, but he's so consistent. There's a bit of a trick to him and that's in his feet-he has to be shod a certain way or otherwise he's hopeless," Browne said. "We try and pick out the most suitable races for him and if that means travelling to Terang, Ballarat or even further, then that's what we do. "We are having a heap of fun and I have to thank Peter Goudie for allowing us to be stabled at his place. In addition to the trotter, we have a 2yo pacer by Metropolitan named Bundy Red, which I'm hoping is real good. He has to be with that name!" Browne said while he had nearly worn out the video replay of his winning drive, he was now eagerly awaiting the race photograph which would take pride of place on the lounge room wall.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Several in-form stables are targeting one of country Victoria's richest harness racing series for lowly-assessed pacers. The 2019 Mitavite Northern Region Championship, hosted by far north-west sister clubs Swan Hill, Ouyen and Mildura, gets underway tonight (Wednesday May 22) for C1 to C2 horses. The first round of qualifying heats at Swan Hill boasts representatives from the Shepparton-based stables of Laura Crossland-David Moran and Amanda Turnbull, as well as Glenn Douglas and Chris Svanosio of Bendigo; Leroy and Danny O'Brien of Armstrong; and Melton-based Rob O'Connell. Link: Swan Hill Fields https://www.harness.org.au/racing/fields/race-fields/?mc=FD220519 The spotlight then moves to Ouyen on June 2 with a second round of heats, going into a $25,000 final at Mildura on June 6. Douglas, who has won the championship several times in the past, said he always hopes to have an ideal runner up and going for the series each year. "You really don't get these sorts of races for this class of horse - they just don't come along very often," he said. "There's terrific stakemoney up for offer right through the three meetings and the big bonus is the final is worth $25,000 but the winner takes only a country penalty," he said. "The first three heats have attracted some nice horses, who are sure to go onto bigger things. The Swan Hill track is big and spacious so I think there could be some quick times recorded there." Douglas always enjoys heading north from his central Victorian base because he spent four years in the Northern Region in the late 1990s. His career was kick-started training horses for Eric and Heather Anderson, the parents of his wife Julie, who were at the time based in the Robinvale-Euston district. "We had some good times up there before we all up and moved to our present training complex at Bendigo. It just made sense to come down here because there's less travel and we're much closer to many more tracks," he said. Douglas has former Kiwi pacer Dublin Street in the first heat. He said while the mare was honest, she was going to have to produce her very best as The Brooklyn Brawler (David Moran) and Think About Me (Brad Chisholm) were full of class. "This will be a measuring stick for our horse, that's for sure," Douglas said. His next runner is Artistic Saint in the second qualifying heat, owned by enthusiastic Swan Hill horseman and club vice-President Noel Watson. "I'd love to get the money for Noel because he'd be over the moon with a hometown victory. I'll be wearing Noel's race colors, the colors of his beloved St Kilda Football Club, so that would be another reason for him to get excited," Douglas said. "I've actually got a bit of an opinion about this horse. His first start back after five or six months off when he finished third was enormous. "It was a super run because they went quick. He had a few things go wrong in his previous preparation, but they appear to be behind him now, thankfully." The third heat should see smart youngster Im Sir Blake continue on his winning way. World champion reinswoman Kerryn Manning has big wraps on the O'Brien-trained horse, who was sensational in winning during the recent Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. "He's just below the very best going around in Victoria - he's a lovely little fella and I thoroughly enjoy driving him," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

When the surrounds of the Cobram harness racing track are a sea of pink this Sunday, no one will be happier than one of the dynamos driving the success of this now-iconic day. She doesn't look for accolades or pats on the back - as with all things she tackles, Donna Castles just jumps in and gets things done! But the annual Cobram Pink Day has now raised more than $130,000 for the Jane McGrath Foundation and you have to wonder where Donna gets her passion and energy. "I originally jumped on board as a driver in 2016 and I also gave the Cobram guys a bit of a hand with things - but it was actually while we were working on that race day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself," Donna said. "I was lucky to be diagnosed when I was, but like everyone when it happens, I really didn't have time for it. I had a 13-year-old daughter, I had 20 horses in work. It wasn't that convenient!" she remembers. "I didn't tell too many people and I just got on with getting the chemotherapy and radiation treatment and doing my best. "I got pretty sick at times, but I couldn't let myself just sit around, so as much as I could, I kept things together, going to the trots - wearing hats!" Donna Castles     - HRV photo Now in its ninth year, Donna's experience was one of the catalysts that's pushed the Cobram Pink Day to the next level. It raised $12,000 in 2016, $18,000 in 2017 and, last year, $27,000 for the McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurses. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life, and McGrath Foundation nurses help individuals and their families with free physical, psychological and emotional support. The energetic Cobram Harness Racing Club administrators Marg and Bob Watson are the backbone of the Pink Day success, along with the enthusiasm of the invited drivers and Nikita Ross at HRV. Donna said as difficult as the diagnosis and treatment were, it gave her a new perspective on life - and on the Pink Day. "The thing is, it happens, you can't do anything about it, you just have to soldier on. But when it happens, it does change you and I don't think a lot of people realise how precious life is until that moment," she said. "I think it's really just one of those things that, in some way, breast cancer seems to touch everyone. If you're lucky enough not to have had to deal with it yourself, you know someone close to you who has. It's just amazing how much support people are prepared to give for that reason." Coming up to three years cancer-free, Donna is more energised than ever about Cobram Pink Day. Invited reinswomen (Ellen Bartley, Rebecca Bartley, Juanita Breen, Monique Burnett, Rita Burnett, Donna Castles, Laura Crossland, Kima Frenning, Lisa Miles, Ellen Tormey, Abbey Turnbull and Tania Ward) will contest the $10,000 Paul Roberts Jewellers Jane McGrath Foundation Invitational on Sunday. Monique Burnett and Ellen Tormey have been two of the invited drivers wearing the pink pants throughout May --photo courtesy Cobram HRC   With the support of HRV, they've been wearing the eye-catching pink pants throughout the month of May to promote the fundraiser. "It creates a bit of interest, a bit of discussion about why they're wearing pink, and the girls have been amazing in selling raffle tickets and promoting the cause," Donna said. This year the raffle prize is a $3000 holiday voucher plus luggage for first (2nd a $1000 Visa voucher, 3rd $500 Visa voucher, 4th-7th $100 Visa vouchers), but the club has previously raffled a car, a sulky and a "roomful" of donated items. Each year the energetic team draws new supporters into the fold and this year has assembled a massive list of more than 20 major sponsors. "We decided to go with something this year that everyone could use - a travel voucher is fantastic because it doesn't matter whether you want to go to Queensland or overseas, it's a great prize," Donna said. The festival atmosphere of the Cobram Pink Day (this year with a mechanical bull, kids entertainment and a lucky gate prize of a five-day holiday at Ashmore Village in Queensland) has established the event as a favorite with trainers, owners and the community. "The thing with harness racing is that when something goes wrong for someone in the sport, and we've seen it time and time again, people embrace it and offer support them and give a hand when they need it," Donna said. "It's the same with this - we've barely had anyone turn us down for support because everyone feels that connection. "In harness racing, we're all in the same house but we live in different rooms. We're competitors, but harness racing people pull together and that's the fabulous thing about Pink Day and being involved with it. I love it." Six trainers in every race at Cobram on Sunday will receive Carbine Chemicals Products or Hygain products and in the ladies' invitational every trainer will receive Carbine Chemical product and a Hygain showbag. A lucky trainer's draw with a set of Hyland colors is also on offer, along with a trainers' encouragement award for 14 days at Harkaway horse water walker.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Popular Mildura harness racing trainer Allan "Pud" Macdonald is a firm believer there was influence from above in his stable's long shot home-track win on Friday. And no-one is begrudging the breakthrough by She Said Yes (Well Said USA-Our Pocket Princes NZ (In The Pocket), with Macdonald having just seven days earlier lost his mother (and biggest supporter), 87-year-old Pat. "You really have to think someone was looking down on us because you just don't get 100/1 winners very often. But it was a nice little pick-me-up, just what we needed," Macdonald said. "Mum always gave me $5 to put on my horses - what a pity she missed this one." Pat Macdonald was a much-loved figure in Sunraysia sporting circles, including harness racing, netball, basketball and football, as well as a respected teacher. She Said Yes defeated her stablemate Pretty Pud ($13.80 chance) to make it a memorable quinella for the Macdonald stable, with Frank Cavallaro-trained We Will Sound ($4) back in third spot. And while She Said Yes was at long odds, the all-the-way win in the C0 Tenderprint Pace didn't completely surprise Macdonald and his part-owner Gavin Peters. "We decided we had to try something different and added more galloping to her routine. It didn't take long to see her fitness levels go up and she was as keen as ever. We thought she was a place chance," Macdonald said. Race replay To View the race replay click here! Macdonald said his mum was not only a big supporter of his stable but had also been an owner-breeder over the years. "She'd always make sure the harness was clean and the gear was packed and she'd be the first to get into the car when we were racing at Nyah and Charlton, and more recently Swan Hill," he said. "Then if we were away we could always rely on her to check waters and feeds, and anything else that needed doing." The late Pat Macdonald Macdonald said he could remember many years ago when his mum would lend a hand and jog some of the horses. "Another trainer who was at our place, Sandra O'Connor, would lift mum in and out of the jog cart because mum had plastic knees and she was a bit restricted," he said. "So one day mum had just finished training and walked past another horse that kicked out and broke her leg. "Mum told Sandra to go and get a wheelbarrow and take her up to the house so she could call someone to take her to hospital. Sandra grabbed a green towel to put in the wheelbarrow before she loaded mum in - but mum told her to put that one back because it was for racedays only, and to grab the blue one!" Macdonald, who has enjoyed a fair share of success over the years, said he got into the sport after talking about it with his brother Murray and close friend Craig Hartley. "I guess it was probably in my blood looking back on it as my grandfather (mum's dad) was a farrier and mucked around with a few horses," he said. "So we started buying a few between us and then later my other brother Brendan conducted a small stud for a while." Macdonald said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the sport, having made a lot of friends along the way. And for any more coming longshot winners? Macdonald chose to keep his cards close to his chest but did say She Said Yes had trained on well after her recent victory.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Barnawartha horseman Wayne Anderson had mixed feelings when he landed the money at the Shepparton harness racing meeting this week with a 25/1 longshot - and who could blame him? Wayne decided to take the reins himself with bay gelding Postal Express (Flightpath-Bye Focals (Harmony Heaven), giving his 21-year-old son Chris, an up-and-coming junior driver, the night off. "Chris works in the scaffolding business and just lately he's been doing a fair bit of travelling," Wayne said. "As well as all the miles, he's also been working hard because he just recently bought himself a house. So, I said to him that I didn't want him pushing himself to get back and drive at the trots. "And of course, everything worked out perfectly in the race for Postal Express and we landed the money, but only just!" Postal Express won by a neck from Monash (Ros Rolfe) with four metres back to Waterboy (Ryan Duffy). The mile rate was a brisk 1.57-5. View the video here! It was Wayne's first race drive on the eight-year-old, and while he was delighted with the success, he intends to stay "second fiddle" to Chris whenever he can. "Chris has had a couple of wins and my wife Margy, myself and all the other family members are keen to see him get established and do well in the sport," Wayne said. "Whenever he's home and not away working, you'll find him at our place helping out with the team, which is up to five at present. "Chris was a late-starter into trotting as he used to do very well at football and cricket. I think he can make a go of it, because he's keen and will take on any advice. Guys like David Jack, Cameron Maggs and Peter Romero have been fantastic." The Anderson farm, nestled on the outskirts of town, has been in the family since 1956. Wayne said a 700-metre granite track on the property cost "24 dozen bottles of beer and some fuel, back in the day"! "Uncle Bob, who always had horses on the place, now looks after the cattle, while my brother Steve does the cropping and our dad David keeps an eye on things to ensure everything's ticking along okay. We have 60 cattle and 350 sheep as well as the horses," Wayne said. "It's a real family affair and while two of our other sons, Mitch and Isaac, aren't hands-on with the horses, they support us. "We got Postal Express off a mate in Robbie Walters, who thought he would be just perfect for Chris to learn the ropes. "And he is a nice horse-just a gentleman to do anything with. He's improved lately since we changed his feed on the recommendation of a nutritionalist and got his teeth done. "The horse has always shown high speed, but now he's starting to find the line." Wayne said he'd been in and out of the industry for nearly 40 years. "I was trying a heap of horses there for a while but dropped off a bit when I wasn't getting any to the races," he said. "Then in December 2015, we had a wild bushfire go through. We lost 300 sheep, 400 bales and five kilometres of fencing. It also destroyed our wooden horse yards, but fortunately two colts that I was breaking-in weren't injured. "The bushfire destroyed 6000 hectares in nine hours, being fanned by 100kph winds. We saved a few lambs as well as things around the house." Wayne said while Postal Express could be one to follow from the stable, he was excited with former Queensland pacer My Magic Merlin. "Chris got beaten a head at Kilmore with him last month which was his first run for us. He's a nice type by Mach Three and still only a C1," he said. And there's a fair chance that Wayne will be among the loudest supporters for Chris at Albury on Saturday night when the junior driver competes with Miss Rixon in the opening event, followed by My Magic Merlin in race two.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Belgian-born reinsman Sidney Van den Brande will soon feel like he's back home. After two years working with the powerful Ballarat harness racing stable of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, the 30-year-old is about to change scenery. He's accepted a job with prolific trotting trainer Anton Golino at Pat Driscoll's Yabby Dam Farms, at Cardigan - a move that will return Van den Brande to his harness racing roots. "Before coming out to Australia, I had only competed in trotting races in Belgium, France, Germany and Holland - I didn't drive pacers until I came to Australia. I'm excited at the opportunity to be back working again with them and Anton has an outstanding bunch," he said. "It probably sounds a little crazy, but I really have been missing the trotters. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time, firstly with David Aiken, of Avenel, and then more recently with Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. "I knew nothing about pacers, but they were great and taught me a lot. And I drove some very good (pacing) horses with Emma and Clayton." Van den Brande has worked with leading trainers in the northern hemisphere but is quick to rate Australia as the best of the sport. He recently drove the 100th winner of his career - 52 of those being out here. Van den Brande said his interest in harness racing began when his older brother Nicky started helping out at a stable near the family home in Belgium. "Nicky seemed to spend a lot of time over there and the interest rubbed off onto me," Van den Brande said. "I remember the first time I was given the chance to drive a horse, I was very afraid. I was wearing shorts and the stones were flicking up onto my legs. It hurt a lot! "I was happy to just clean out the boxes and do other jobs. I had never considered wanting to be a race driver." The enthusiastic Belgian said that after spending "quite a while" honing his driving skills, he competed in an event in Holland in 2006 for concession drivers only. "The trotter I was allocated was a winner of only one of his 105 starts and I remember my opposing drivers were laughing very loudly about my unlucky draw," he said. "I was 27/1 and the only one above 10/1. So away we went, and I had the last laugh by winning - officially by 25 metres. "Another memorable time was driving in Paris. It is every young kid's dream to drive there and win. I wasn't that lucky, but it was a thrill to compete there." Van den Brande said the experience of working and driving in Europe was invaluable. "I also worked in America, but never drove in a race. In a strange twist, when I was based in the States, so was Anton. I later moved to Sweden to gain more experience, and Anton did likewise at the same time. We never did meet up but now I'm working for him!" Van den Brande has scored 19 victories this season, likely to comfortably pass his 21 of last season and the 12 he scored in a sensational start to his Australian race driving career in 2016-17. "After joining Emma and Clayton, they gave me a chance and I drove eight consecutive winners in my first eight drives. I then had a second, and then another win. That was unbelievable. "My best win so far has been with Perfect Look. We won the SA Southern Cross 3yo fillies final in Adelaide in July 2017 - that was my first Group race success. "Later the same year I won the $50,000 Tasmania Cup with Major Secret. I guess that was special as well." He rates Melton and Bendigo as two of his favorite tracks. "It's very hard to win at Melton. But I have won three races there and it was in three weeks. I thought how easy is this? Then later reality kicked in! "Bendigo has a nice shape and a good vibe." Van den Brande said naming his favorite driver was easy because Chris Alford is such a champion of the sport. "I also admire the way Gavin Lang is so cool and gets a lot from the horses, while Luke McCarthy always seems to come out of nowhere and be there at the finish," he said. "The racing here is different to back home, but the biggest difference is the longer carts. I just find myself sitting a long way back, but I'm slowly adjusting. "My parents are elderly now and weren't ever interested in horses, but they seem to be enjoying what I do. They ring me all the time so I think they must like it." Van den Brande said that with his time spent with trotters, he hoped he could sometimes offer some positive ideas at his new stable. "But maybe not as Anton is most experienced and very talented! I just want to keep finding my way and don't expect to have too many drives because there's a few above me, but that's fine." Outside of harness racing, Van den Brande admits he has become an avid fan of Formula One racing. "I went down to Albert Park, Melbourne to watch it and got hooked," he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Jovial Bill Milner of Kilmore is strictly a trainer only of square-gaiters these days - and loves every minute of it. "I'll have to be honest and say that a fair amount of patience is required with them at times, but I just keep poking along and mostly they are enjoyable," Milner said. And Bill's certainly enjoying a pleasant time in harness racing at the moment, with four-year-old Dellsun (Majestic Son-Auravale (Malhana Gindin USA) getting the job done in fine style. The gelding, nicely driven by master Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, didn't put a foot wrong to take out the JDC Contractors Trotters Handicap at Shepparton last Tuesday night. Milner said the Shepparton circuit was quickly becoming one of his favorite tracks. "I seem to have a fair bit of success up there. Dellsun is an example because his previous victory was also at Shepparton a month ago," he said. "It's a nice easy drive from home so I'll keep racing there while our luck is in." Milner is hands-on with pretty much every aspect of the sport and does a great job with a small team. Not only does he breed all his stock, but breaks them in, does the farrier work and trains them. That virtually leaves only the driving side of it, but he says he's quite happy to watch from the other side of the fence. "I do enjoy the breaking-in part probably the most. There's a heap of satisfaction comes out of that and yes I suppose I do nearly everything myself," he said. "Over the many years I've been involved, I've learnt a hell of a lot from a great number of people. "I got started with Carl O'Dwyer when I was a teenager doing a farrier apprenticeship. Then later on when I was shoeing for greats like Vin Knight, Gordon Rothacker, Kevin Murray, Kevin Dixon and others, I would pick up more knowledge. "Early days another influential person was Frank Shinn. I remember we went off buying a horse each and mine was named Fair Baron. I was learning how to drive fastwork one day and nearly put Frank over the fence, which didn't go down all that well. "Fair Baron never won a race, but I'm certain the one Frank purchased turned out okay!" Milner now owns the property that belonged to Shinn. It's on nearly four acres and has a 400-metre track. He said he trained pacers years ago before changing his alliances to square gaiters. "Without doubt the best pacer I had would have been Vice Regal, who raced in the early 1990s," Milner said. Vice Regal (Vance Hanover USA-Pat Hanover NZ (Emory Hanover USA) finished his career with 14 wins and 24 placings for more than $74,000. After becoming a fully qualified farrier, Milner was employed by the Victoria Racing Club and worked at Seymour and Kilmore gallops meetings as well as some in Melbourne. "I used to help out with barrier duties as well and I'm still at it, nearly 50 years later," he said. Most of the Milner team go back to a daughter of Welcome Advice, Star Advice, a moderately performed race mare. However, in the breeding barn, she had six foals, including Auravale and Auravalley. Auravale, a five-race winner, had six foals with all winners, except one. Auravalley has produced three foals with the best being My Archie Way (4 wins) and Tetra (2 wins). Milner paid tribute to his success with his small team to supporter Kevin Dixon, "92 years young", who has held a licence for 76 years. "Kevin would only train two at a time back in the day, but he was very good at it. When the old Melbourne Showgrounds closed, he moved to Kilmore on a small acreage and he lives about five minutes from me," Milner said. "He has taught me a lot. He calls into my stables regularly and still attends all the meetings with me - he's a great mate."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Electrifying two-year-old harness racing filly Pelosi, who has set tongues wagging with some astonishing performances in recent weeks, has pulled up as bright as a button from her first Group One success. Owner-breeder Wayne Honan said the horse would now be aimed at the New South Wales Breeders' Challenge series, which culminates with a $125,000 final at Menangle on June 30. "There's heats at Newcastle and then semi-finals leading into the big one. So, all going well, there's exciting times ahead. After that she will head for a spell," Honan said. "We always thought she would be something special because she looked the goods from day one, being well-gaited and unlike a few others in that breeding, didn't brush her knee. "Anna (Woodmansey) has done an exceptional job in training Pelosi. She only has two in work (the other being Photozen), but she is so thorough and spends every spare minute with them. And I have to say that both horses can be a bit 'different' at times." Owner-breeder of Pelosi Wayne Honan with trainer Anna Woodmansey --Dan Costello photo The impeccably bred Pelosi (American Ideal USA-For Dear Life (Life Sign USA) is now the fastest filly Queensland has ever produced. She scored the biggest win of her short career when successful in last Saturday night's $150,000 APG 2YO final at Albion Park. Prepared at Chambers Flat by hobby trainer Anna Woodmansey, who works in a high school administration office, Pelosi has now won four of her five lifetime starts. While the win provided Woodmansey and popular reinsman John Cremin with their first ever Group One victories, Honan has been one of Australia's most successful trainer-drivers over the years. In the heady days of the 1970s and 80s, Honan and his late legendary father Jack, of Killarney Stud, Canowindra, were a formidable team, preparing big teams of up to 35 horses. "One of our first decent horses I can recall was a mare named Fine Jade. She won the Queensland Oaks and then went onto be the dam of Prince Jade ($114,921), Genesee ($58,211), Glens Fine Jade ($25,110) as well as some others," Honan said. "As well as the Canowindra stables, we also had a property near the late and great Ron Peace at Donnybrook, near Melbourne. "The recent Brisbane wins brought back some fond memories because we made many trips north with our horses to the annual Winter Carnival over the years. We'd be based at Albion Park, but would also compete at Redcliffe and even down to Tweed Heads on the Queensland/New South Wales border. "We made a lot of friends and won some nice races during those campaigns." Pelosi comes from a successful family line boasting outstanding Group race victories, but gets her name from American congresswoman, the energetic and determined Nancy Pelosi. The 79-year-old was first elected in 2007 and is now in her third term as the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Honan said the name seemed a fitting one for the feisty daughter of American Ideal. "From what I can see, Nancy gives President Trump heaps - she goes hard and wants to be the best. So there's a bit of meaning there," he said. For Dear Life, dam of Pelosi, was a brilliant racehorse, winning 14 races from 28 starts for over $322,000. And grand dam, the Stature mare Express Post, was exceptionally fast. "When I won the Pink Bonnet with her at Harold Park, she lowered the previous race record by three seconds. She was awesome and ended up with 11 wins from 18 starts," Honan said. In the breeding barn, Express Post was a sensation. Petousa (by Western Hanover) won $180,000 in stakes, stallion Flightpath (Artsplace) won nearly $290,000 before retiring to stand at stud and For Dear Life (Life Sign) won $322,000. Honan retains Petousa, while Moama horseman Tony Peacock has For Dear Life at his St Fort property. For Dear Life has an Always B Miki weanling colt and will be served by American Ideal this coming season. Pelosi, driver John Cremin, Anna Woodmansey and Wayne Honan --Dan Costello photo  For John Cremin, recognized as one of the Sunshine State's favorite sons, the APG Group One win was much deserved. "Cremmo", as he's known, who turns 56 next Sunday (coincidentally the same day wife Tanya celebrates her birthday) got an early present he won't forget for a long time. "I've probably been driving for nearly 40 years, so I was overdue for a win in a Group One. I guess Pelosi is proof that you're never too old as far as a driver goes!" he said. "Perhaps some might say that my years of experience are now paying off. But as a young fella I wouldn't have handled horses with little idiosyncrasies like her. With a little bit of age and experience it's finally come to me!" Cremin was quick to label Pelosi as the best of her age that's he's ever driven. "She's definitely by far the best - the complete package. She relaxes beautifully and is so versatile. My only worry is to keep her out of trouble," he said. Cremin, who trains a team of six as well as being a respected farrier, is looking forward to the coming NSW campaign for Pelosi with the memory of a Newcastle win under his belt with Home of Jack in the Cup in December 2005. Watch the Pelosi win video replay here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Bendigo harness racing hobby trainer Dylan Marshall is far from convinced he's found the secret to his mare Barbie Mattgregor - despite her winning two of her past four starts. "You would probably confidently think 'yes' I have got her to turn the corner; but the honest answer is more like a 'no'!" Marshall said. "The horse can be a lovely little thing, but she has attitude and is very moody. She also has a few other issues, mainly involving muscles. But don't get me wrong, she can be fast when her head is in the game." Marshall said Barbie Mattgregor (Rob Roy Mattgregor-My Barbie Doll (In The Pocket) had been tried by a handful of other trainers in Queensland and New South Wales, before coming to Victoria. "She's had about 30 starts and been sent out favorite in probably 10 of those, so I'm perhaps at the end of the queue," he said. But the mare was on song last week that's for sure, with an impressive win at Maryborough (her second there in a little over a month). And just maybe Marshall is under-selling the work he's doing! "It was just another perfect drive by Greg Sugars because if the horse lands in a good spot and does little work, she can sprint hard for about 400 metres," Marshall said. When the well-supported Whata Challenge ($6.50 into $2.10 favorite on fixed odds) zipped to the lead, Sugars was quick to jump on its back. With a steady pace, Barbie Mattgregor was in second gear awaiting her chance. That came on the home corner when Sugars pulled out and worked home best to the wire. The win made it a quartet for the crack young reinsman from Larajay Farm, Myrniong. Barbie Mattgregor, who was ignored in betting, starting at 25/1, is one of five horses trained by Marshall and his partner Tayla Fellows. The pair are based at a property opposite Lord's Raceway, Bendigo. Marshall was born into harness racing, growing up in Tasmania. "My (late) dad Peter was a trainer-driver, so I was always going to follow in his footsteps. I trained horses and drove back home and that's continued on since I crossed to the mainland," he said. "We just keep ticking along and I suppose we've had a fair bit of success, mainly through 'second-handers', which we don't mind. "Steve Clements (of Brisbane Pastoral Company) has been great in sending us a few over the years. We've now got some young ones along with a half-sister to Carl Mattgregor, who has won six races for us." Marshall, who works as a diesel mechanic, said he was unable to take time off from his job to attend meetings held during the day. "That's the way it goes. But everything is working out great with Tayla being in charge at the past two Maryborough meetings where Barbie Mattgregor has been successful," he said. "Tayla does fast work with me and other stables chores, so it's working out nice for us."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Some harness racing fans were calling it divine intervention, but a young lady with a bright future certainly also helped with the outcome. While Craig Turnbull is recuperating in a Melbourne hospital from serious injuries, his 20-year-old daughter Abbey provided the best medicine with a driving double at Shepparton on Wednesday night. "I rang dad as soon as I could, and he was pretty proud. I was told he may have had a little tear in his eye with my news, but he probably won't admit to that!" a jubilant Abbey said. "It was my first-ever double so it was an exciting night. And to make it even more special was that the first winner was actually one of the horses trained by dad." Abbey opened her winning account with Kissing Game (Santana Blue Chip USA - Kiss And Fly (Pacific Rocket USA) in the Shepparton BMW Pace. Then just one hour later, she landed the money with Lights And Music (Jet Laag USA - Computerize NZ (Stand Together USA) in the Hunter Rural Pace. Kissing Game, sent out a warm favorite at $1.60, was driven forward early by Abbey and despite doing the work outside the leader, looked the goods a long way from home. "I was really pleased with her and the even tempo of the race suited her nicely," Abbey said. The first leg of a winning double for Abbey Turnbull, with (from left) by Aunty Cindy Rixon; part-owner of Kissing Game, Geoff Baker; stable helper Sue Terry and Bendigo reinswoman Tayla French Eleven-year-old gelding Lights And Music continued with his consistent form for Abbey, with the pair seemingly having a real affinity. Abbey has now tasted success with the old-timer in three of his past five starts. "He's enjoying racing and I was probably a bit stiff in not winning another on him when we were an unlucky third," she said. Craig Turnbull, a son of the legendary A.D. (Tony) Turnbull, of Bathurst, is in hospital after being seriously injured in a stable accident at his Tatura training property recently. A young horse at a tie-up rail swung around and kicked into Craig who had just returned from working another of his team. His wife Rebecca Cartwright ran to his aid and the injured horseman was taken to Shepparton Hospital before being air-lifted to the Alfred in Melbourne. Craig has had surgery on a lacerated spleen and has four broken ribs, with 17 breaks in total. "Dad is obviously in a fair bit of pain, but today had his first walk on his own," Abbey said. "He's been told that when he's allowed to return home, he won't be doing anything for at least three months," she said. "We have received lots of offers of help and Aunty Cindy (Craig's sister) has thankfully come down to lend us a hand from Pheasant's Nest, near Sydney." As well as being number one "caretaker" trainer for her injured dad, Abbey is busy studying osteopathy at university. Osteopathy is best described as a hands-on form of treatment for the whole-body including muscles, bones, joints and all other tissues including organs and the nervous system. Abbey spends one day each week at Bundoora in Melbourne. "Fortunately, I can do the rest on-line at home. I'm in my second year of a five-year course and I love it," she said. "So, with my university studies and a team of 14 horses at the moment, I don't have a lot of free time. But it will be all good when dad is well enough to come home." Abbey said the family had been overwhelmed by well-wishers and thanked everyone for their kind thoughts.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A highly-regarded pacer from north west Victoria's remote Mallee region will face the toughest assignment of his short harness racing career when he steps out at Kilmore this Friday night. Youngster Mallee Reactor (Auckland Reactor-Our Angel Flight (In The Pocket) has established quite a reputation in a short time and is one of eight runners in a star-studded field assembled for the $25,000 Reg Withers Three Year Old Classic. Mallee Reactor, raced by a group of harness racing enthusiasts from around the Ouyen district, has developed a huge and loyal following through the deeds of father-son trainer-driver combination, Murray and Simon Jardine. Now the baton has been passed to Toolern Vale trainer Adam Kelly who's recently taken over the training of the gelding. Under the care of the Jardines, Mallee Reactor had a sensational form line of eight wins and two placings from 10 starts. The Withers Classic, the feature event on the big 11-race program at Kilmore, sees some of our brightest stars of the future, including a quartet from the all-conquering Emma Stewart-Clayton Tonkin stable. And how surreal would it be to have the likes of one of these in your barn: Centenario, Hurricane Harley, Fourbigmen or Demon Delight? The big four in the race have faced the starter on 57 occasions for 31 wins and 13 placings for a staggering combined purse of $725,570. Assuming ace Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford had first pick and has jumped on Centenario, that would have to be some sort of heads-up for punters. He's drawn the coveted pole position and prior to his uncharacteristic ninth in the NSW Derby last start, when something was obviously amiss, he has an entrancing form line. Mallee Reactor has drawn fortuitously with the eight marble and will start directly behind the exciting colt. Members of the ownership syndicate have enjoyed some good times through the deeds of a half-brother to Mallee Reactor in consistent racehorse Carload. A C4 and M1 pacer, Carload has 10 wins and 20 placings for over $88,000 and is now with Jarrod Alchin, of Glen Alphine, a suburb of Sydney. In somewhat of a fairytale, they were offered Carload's dam, the unraced broodmare Our Angel Flight, who was in foal at the time - the result being none other than Mallee Reactor. It would be a fair bet to say that most of the Ouyen boys and their family members will be trackside cheering on Mallee Reactor. They have been having an unbelievable ride so far and this would certainly be the icing on the cake if there was an upset result. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Teenage young gun harness racing driver Leonard Cain admits he loves nothing better than being busy and tackling a new challenge head-on. "I'm just so much happier when there's a lot going on, preferably getting more race drives from trainers and ultimately more winners!" Cain said. The 19-year-old started his Sydney career off in a blaze of glory, combining with his boss Noel Daley, to post wins with their first four starters. "We couldn't have got off to a much better start than that. It was unbelievable," Cain said. "You just dream of things like that, but you don't expect them to happen." Former superstar North American horseman Daley, with enough USA achievements to his credit to choke a bull, is private trainer for leviathan owner Emilio Rosati and his wife Mary. Daley recruited former Queenslander Cain to be the stable number one driver a few months ago. "I was having a good run back home, but the offer to join the Rosati-Daley team was such a huge opportunity," Cain said. "I've learnt such much from Noel - it's invaluable. He's so easy to adapt to and probably the perfect boss," he said. "He's happy for me to travel, and I'm now starting to pick up outside drives from well-known trainers like Ian Wilson, Darren Binskin, Team Tritton, Mark Lefoe and others." In recent times, Cain has been seen competing at Wagga, Newcastle, Goulburn, Bathurst, Penrith and Menangle. "The travel is just part of being in the industry and I haven't got a problem with it - you have to do it if you want to succeed," Cain said. The enthusiastic youngster landed the longest-priced winner of his short, but exciting, career last Saturday night - and he didn't have to travel far to do it! Cain took out the $20,400 M1 event at NSW headquarters, Menangle, with Uncle Jay for Mark Lefoe. Uncle Jay - Ashlea Brennan Photo Uncle Jay (Art Major USA-Kays My Gem (Presidential Ball USA) shot most punters out of the water with starting odds of $126. Uncle Jay "It was the first time I'd driven the horse, but he felt terrific during the run and got to the line strongly," an elated Cain said. "I enjoy driving at Menangle. However, it surprised me being so flat. It's only my opinion, but I think there'd be sensational times recorded if it was banked more." Cain, born and raised in Queensland, drove 55 winners in his first season in 2017. The following season he was successful on 48 occasions and is now enjoying his best season ever, with a tally of 66. "I've settled in well and quite enjoy Sydney. My girlfriend Bethany Manga is with me and she now helps around the stables as well as doing nursing studies at TAFE," he said. "We met when we were both doing the mini trotters." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ever-reliable Mildura Harness Racing Club committeeman Andrew Stenhouse ensured he was free of voluntary commitments early last Friday afternoon. And he had every reason to take a break and cheer home his gelding Classic Reactor (Auckland Reactor-Bella Caballo (Safely Kept), who scored an impressive win in the opening event, the DNR Logistics 3YO Pace. "We were hoping he would do well, but there were probably two others that looked hard to beat on paper," Stenhouse, who is based on the city outskirts at Merbein South, said. Driven a well-judged race drive by Dwayne Locke, the flashy gelding made it two wins from his previous four runs and certainly looks destined for a bright future. Auckland Reactor now has 52 winners in Australia for $1,142,365 in stakes and the momentum continues to build. In NZ he has 38 winners for $1,078,610. The intimidation factor of the former champion racehorse in elite company gave him the nickname The Reactor Factor, finishing his career with 26 wins and two placings from 35 starts. Stenhouse said that Classic Reactor was gaining in confidence with each run. "We decided to make a few gear changes about five weeks ago and he's just kept improving from then," he said. "Dwayne told me after the race that he wasn't concerned about having to make a move with around 900 metres to go because the horse felt a million dollars!" The field was content to run in single file with second-favorite Major Mucha (Wayne Hill) leading the way. Classic Reactor was three back the pegs with the race favorite Razs Vision (Kerryn Manning) hard up on his back. Classic Reactor, who popped out into the death seat approaching the bell, joined Major Mucha on the home corner and asserted his dominance. Razs Vision ran on late to grab the runner-up prize from Major Mucha. "It's a bit of a change in luck for us and we are enjoying it," Stenhouse said. "We haven't been in the winner's circle as much as we would have liked in recent times, but hopefully Classic Reactor can keep up the good work for a while yet." Dwayne Locke The Stenhouse-Locke team will continue to race their in-form pacer at Mildura, while trips to Swan Hill and Ouyen may also be on the cards. And in the meantime, the pair are hoping another Auckland Reactor-sired pacer in Power House Rock will find form this preparation. The four-year-old (Auckland Reactor-Diva La Diva (Holmes Hanover USA) had two starts last season but didn't enjoy much luck.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A member of the famous Turnbull harness racing clan has been hospitalized after a nasty accident at his Tatura property. Craig Turnbull, who has been enjoying recent success with his team on country Victorian tracks, was seriously hurt after being kicked several times by a young horse. It is believed he had just finished working one of his stable team and was coming off the track toward a youngster that was tied up at a rail. After getting out of the sulky, the nearby horse started bucking and kicking out. Turnbull was rushed to Shepparton Hospital before being transferred to Melbourne where he remains in intensive care with a ruptured spleen, broken ribs and several fractures. His recovery is expected to include several weeks of treatment and rehab in hospital, before several months of rest and ongoing medical care. Turnbull, his wife Rebecca Cartwright and daughter Abbey have been enjoying a successful season. Black gelding La Player (Shadow Play USA - La Pucelle (Village Jasper USA) has had a purple patch in recent months with four wins and two runner-up prizes in his past six starts. His victories were at Gunbower, Boort, Cobram and Echuca. Concession junior driver Abbey, who landed her first winner at Shepparton in September 2017, has shown fine touch this season with 11 wins so far. All harness racing participants wish Craig well in his recovery process, while thoughts are with Rebecca, Abbey and other family members. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

A Queensland couple with a true love for the traditional harness racing square-gaiters has decided on a sea change. After spending time in Victoria with a team of horses during the past two years on “working holidays”, Ray and Janelle Cross are now in the process of making a permanent shift down south. “It basically come down to a lot more opportunities for trotters and we are really excited at what’s on offer,” said Ray Cross, who is about to celebrate his 80th birthday. “We can race our horses every week and try and place them a bit,” he said. “Back home it was becoming difficult to select suitable events because there was virtually nothing for young, up-and-coming trotters. Most of the time you would find yourself against seasoned, open campaigners.” The Cross stable these days comprises virtually all square-gaiters. “Maryborough is our base at the moment, while we search around and find a suitable property,” Cross said. “There’s five down in Victoria with us and we left another two racehorses behind as well as four well-bred broodmares until we get settled in a new place. “We are both really looking forward to a new challenge and it will be a slightly different lifestyle. But we were both ready to move on. It’s been on our minds for 12 months.” And they are not daunted by the cooler winter temperatures that Victoria will serve up. “I think the second year we come down to campaign, the locals were saying it was one of the worst winters ever.  We handled it okay, so we’ll be right,” Cross said. The veteran trainer, who is somewhat of an icon in the Sunshine State, has always been around horses. As a four-year-old he would ride a horse from the family home in Ellesmere to a school near Kingaroy each day – a distance of over 10 kilometres. “That was the only way I could get there. Then as I got older, I competed in the show rings and any other pony competitions that were going around,” he said. Cross said horse riding was in his family’s blood because his grandfather once rode from Victoria to Queensland. “I’ve been told by others that he was just 17 years old at the time,” he said. In was inevitable that Cross would find his way into the ranks of professional trainers, and apart from stints in his younger years as a roustabout and in the sugar cane fields, it’s been his life’s work. The Cross stable raced at Dalby and then later, when based at Toowoomba, raced on the home track as well as trips to Brisbane’s Albion Park. “We were then at Mount Marrow for a bit before re-locating to Calvert, a small town located near the city of Ipswich. We’d been there for the past 18 years,” he said. Over the years, Cross has been associated with some star performers. Horses that come to mind include ex Kiwi The Emcee and Daphnia as well as the brilliant son of Able Bye Bye, Keen Edge. Prepared predominantly through his career by Cross, Keen Edge won 27 races from 91 starts for more than $135,000 in the late 1980s. Some of his biggest wins were in the 1988 3YO Challenge Final and the 4YO Invitation Pace. The horse, who is believed to have held two world records at some stage, was involved in some memorable battles with Speed King and Butch’s Mate. The Emcee, winner of 58 races and 55 placings, was claimed by Cross for $5000 for stable clients. Cross resurrected his form and in the next 12 months he won $100,000. Square-gaiting historians still talk about the time Cross campaigned speedy Queensland-bred trotter Scottish Larry to win three races at Harold Park many years ago – at a time when Sunshine State wins at Glebe were far and few between. But while Cross says Keen Edge was probably his fastest horse, the title of his best goes to Kate Au Penny (Ringleader-Southern Banner (Mark Lobell), a trotting mare who finished with 24 wins and 43 placings for $80,000 from 2004 onwards. “We bred her, and she won her way to an Adelaide Inter-Dominion Final in 2007,” Cross said. While the couple will be pinning their hopes on Honey Please (Yankee Spider USA-Kumbya NZ (Sundon USA), there are a few others ready to step up going by their early Victorian form. Maiden trotter Ima Calvert Rose caught the eye when third at Ballarat last week and likewise 2yo Countess Chiron, fourth at the same meeting.  Lady Haha ran an improved fourth at Kilmore yesterday. “Honey Please has the form on the board down here, winning at Ballarat (2017) and then at Maryborough and Bendigo last year, during our visits,” Cross said. “Her most recent wins have been at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg, so she’s been pretty handy for us.” And there’s nothing more certain than Ray Cross, who is still as keen as mustard, making his mark in Victoria. “You’ve got to keep working while you can, and we’ll be doing our best!” said the veteran. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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