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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   W      

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

Bendigo harness racing horseman Gary Donaldson will never forget a dramatic incident 12 months ago when one of his horses bolted onto a busy highway and was hit by a car. “It might be a year ago, but I can recall every bit of it like it was yesterday, and when I look back on it, I still don’t know how she survived,” Donaldson said. Not only did five-year-old mare Live Like A Royal (Stonebridge Regal USA-Live Your Life (Life Sign USA) survive and get back to racing, but she’s incredibly won four of her past 14 starts. “She is a great little horse who gets out onto the track and tries her heart out. Remarkably she hasn’t put in a bad run since that horrible accident,” Donaldson said. On that fateful day of April 26 last year, Donaldson had been galloping Live Like A Royal at Bendigo’s Lord’s Raceway. “A sulky shaft snapped, and I got tipped out of the cart. The mare took off in fright and headed back to the stables on the McIvor Highway,” Donaldson said. “It was about 8.45am which is peak-hour traffic and she went straight across the highway where a guy hit her travelling at about 70 kilometres an hour. “When I got there, the poor guy driving the car was more concerned about the horse than his vehicle. She flipped up in the air when he hit her and landed on the bonnet. “I can honestly say I expected the worst when I saw the damaged car and the horse lying in the gutter with some of her stomach hanging out. A lot of people had gathered about to try and help, which was nice.” Donaldson said he was surprised when Live Like A Royal “jumped up to her feet after giving her head stall a bit of a tug”. “I was sure she’d have a broken leg or something, but she seemed sound and walked off. She was bleeding heavily, but wasn’t distressed at all,” he said. After a short walk back to his Junortoun stables, Donaldson put the horse in a float and drove to the Bendigo Equine Hospital at nearby White Hills.  The mare was given pain killers immediately and went into surgery within 45 minutes. “The vet said it was critical to carry out the operation as quickly as possible because the longer it’s left, the skin becomes less supple,” he said. “I think they ended up putting in 80 stitches and staples later. They were just awesome at the Equine Hospital. “We then had her home in a stable for six weeks to treat her and keep an eye on her wounds then we let her out to graze in one of our paddocks, before putting her out on agistment.” Donaldson said all the owners checked often on the horse and were elated that she was saved. “They were hoping she still might be a breeding proposition, but all that changed when the lady from the agistment farm rang and told us she was running around in a full gallop with not a worry in the world,” he said. “I told the owners I’d give the horse another chance at the races, but if I wasn’t happy, then that was it and she’d be retired. But Donaldson always had one issue in the back of his mind – would the sight of cars prove the mare’s nemesis? “For a few weeks we tried her out by jogging her around the stables with cars parked everywhere. We even drove them near her and past her to test her out and they just didn’t seem to worry her at all, which was incredible, really,” he said. “From then on we really didn’t take any short cuts and just trained her like one of the others. It amazed me that she just went on like she had previously. There was no lameness, she steered well and was eating up.” On her racetrack return, Live Like A Royal took just four starts to get the winning feeling back – at the Bendigo track where the unfortunate sequence of events unfolded five months prior. She’s since scored another win at Bendigo, and was an impressive Mildura winner on Friday, making it two-on-the-trot in the northern region having scored eight days earlier at Swan Hill. After mustering speed from the pole and holding the lead at Mildura, punters who took the short odds would have been very happy with themselves. Live Like A Royal, sent out a $1.70 favorite, posted splits of 31, 32, 30 and 29.4 to cruise to an easy 7m win in the C1 class event. To watch a video replay of this race click on this link For Donaldson, a trip to Mildura is always somewhat of a “home coming” after doing a 12-month stint working at a bank in the city back in the late 1970s. “I began in Charlton and then got transferred to Mildura. I remember helping the late Fred Peterson with his team of horses when I was in Sunraysia and he had a few that went okay,” he said. Since leaving the bank, Donaldson has operated businesses in Central Victoria in addition to training a team of horses. He currently has nine in work – although that’s likely to be reduced in future, with the pending sale of his property. Donaldson said the Live Like A Royal story was one of the most emotional, but also the most satisfying, in his time in the sport. “It was a long road in nursing her back to good health, but she has certainly repaid us now,” he said. “Since the day of the accident, I have had people coming up to me all the time, in the shopping centre or anywhere, to ask how ‘the horse that got hit by the car’ is going? “It got plenty of media coverage at the time and Live Like A Royal now has her own band of supporters which is great.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

While competent Daylesford harness racing reinswoman Anne-Maree Conroy showed fine touch to land a recent winning double, she was more than happy to shift the spotlight to her husband Michael Barby. Conroy had just two drives at Ballarat on Wednesday and returned home with a 100 percent strike rate, thanks to square-gaiting pair Teetreetommy (Julius Caesar-Blooming Marvellous (Umbrella Fella) and Argyle Melody (Life Sign-Dalmont Vivienne (What’s Next). Conroy trains Argyle Melody, but she was quick to heap praise on Michael, who defied conventional wisdom in changing pacing bred gelding Teetreetommy into a trotter. “Teetreetommy was a big stroppy type of fella when he was being broken-in and tried as a pacer,” Conroy said. “Then one day Mick figured out that perhaps the horse wanted to be a trotter, so we decided to give him a try.” It wasn’t necessarily a smooth transition for Teetreetommy, though. “I wasn’t actually that sure about the decision when early on he refused to turn in a run-around before the trials,” Conroy said. “But Mick persevered, and the horse kept improving. After a while he made his race debut at Kilmore and we were pretty excited with a third placing. “He was going to be right in it at his next start, but broke and ran sixth, and then had a third and won at Melton leading up to this latest win.” Anne-Maree said the Ballarat success was virtually a carbon copy of Teetreetommy’s Melton victory. “We drifted back to near the rear, and then worked into it going down the back straight before finishing it off in the run to the line,” she said. “He is certainly starting to develop so we are going to have some fun with him.” To watch the video replay of this race click here. Teetreetommy, owned by Gerard and Brendan White, was named in honor of their brother Tommy, who passed away four years ago this month. Tommy formerly lived in Ti Tree Road, Dunnstown. The White clan was out in force at Ballarat, being trackside for the first time to cheer home their winner. Argyle Melody provided Anne-Maree with her second winner of the night, showing in the T C Bricklaying Trotters Handicap that age is no barrier. And in doing so, the 10-year-old mare may have delayed a booking in the broodmare barn. “Her previous run was a fifth at Geelong and it was a bit below par so some of the owners were suggesting perhaps she’d go to stud next season,” Conroy said. “I put the blame on myself because she didn’t feel keen at all; she was really flat and performed pretty ordinary,” she said. Anne-Maree is the daughter of central Victorian trotting legend Bob Conroy, a true gentleman of the sport, who died in a training accident 18 months ago. Anne-Maree’s parents, Pat and the late Bob Conroy “I asked myself what dad would have done in that situation. I decided he would have given her more galloping, long heat workouts, swimming or cut back her feed,” she said. “I thought about it for a bit and then decided to opt for the diet idea. “When we went out onto the track at Ballarat, I soon knew I’d done the right thing because she was up on her toes and felt far more lively than the previous week. “The speed was strong from the start and that suited her. It turned into a slog up the final straight, but she was very fit and that got her there. “I must admit that I did give her a few of her favorite treats afterwards, but only for a little while!” To watch the video replay of this race click here Argyle Melody is raced by Colin Beveridge, his partner Mary-Lou Raybould, Pat Conroy (mum of Anne-Maree), Sam Justin and Leanne Taylor. The mare has now had 15 wins and 43 placings for over $105,000. Anne-Maree and her two brothers Glenn and Peter work a team together of around 17 horses. “We’ll probably reduce that number when the wet, cold weather arrives,” she said. While the Conroy family is renowned for their outstanding results with square-gaiters, Anne-Maree said they didn’t have a preference between either gait. “I agree we have a good reputation with trotters, but it’s a huge thrill to drive a good pacer as well. We’re not fussy, we just love getting the best out of our horses.” Hoofnote: the late Bob Conroy won the ‘78 Bendigo Pacing Cup and Italian Cup with pacing superstar Lincoln Star, but on the flipside had brilliant trotters in Mary Beverley, Amazon, Mister Everest and others. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

If determination is the key to success, teenage harness racing reinsman Jayden Brewin is well and truly headed in the right direction. The 18-year-old packed his bags late last year and headed from his home state of South Australia to try his luck in Victoria. And now it is all starting to fall in place for the enthusiastic youngster with two driving doubles in the space of five days. “I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to turn around for me,” a relieved Brewin said. “But I was determined to keep doing my best and wait for a bit of luck to come my way,” he said. Lady Luck certainly looked down on Brewin last week, but then it was up to the talented driver to grab the opportunities by the scruff of the neck and deliver. And deliver he did! “I had a drive for John Murphy at the Geelong meeting last Wednesday and then got a late call-up from trainer Chris Romanidis to drive one for him. He had engaged Brad Chisholm, who was unavailable due to sickness,” Brewin said. Romanidis, of Wurdiboluc, a rural town with a population of 560 in the Surf Coast Shire, 30 kms south west of Geelong, combined with Brewin to land $64 long shot Fire Up Franco (Courage Under Fire-Tishafly Franco (Falcon Seelster) in the Brays Country Clubs Pace, second heat. Jayden Brewin, Chris Rominidis and Fire Up Franco Two races later, Brewin scored nicely on $2.70 favorite Oscar Bravo (Village Jasper-Margaret Eden (Digger Almahurst) for Ballarat-based Murphy. Brewin said while he had driven Oscar Bravo a number of times previously, including a Ballarat win in November, it was his first go on Fire Up Franco. “I noticed after doing my homework that the gelding could be a handful leading up to his races,” Brewin said. “And sure enough he tried out his bad habits (not wanting to do pre-race circling or scoring up when the mobile barrier moved off) on me, but gee he has some ability,” he said. “Once he hits his straps and decides to get going, he’s not a problem.” Jayden Brewin with John Murphy and Oscar Bravo Fire Up Franco scored by just a head over Matty Craven’s runner My Harmony Blue in a brisk 1.57-3. Brewin’s second leg of his double, Oscar Bravo had a little more breathing space on the line, winning by nearly two metres over Crafty Old Fox (Darby McGuigan). Brewin, who works for up-and-coming trainer Jess Tubbs, said he was thoroughly enjoying his time in Victoria. “I shifted to improve my driving skills and just by competing against the elite like Gavin Lang, Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and others, you pick up things all the time,” he said. “I’m just loving it - although the temperatures are starting to get a little cool down here so I’m going to have to rug up!” Brewin ventured to Cranbourne four days after his double at Geelong, this time to drive the Romanidis pair of Fire Up Franco and The Loustar (Passmaster Hanover-Lombo La Jazz (Panorama). Fire Up Franco, despite displaying his old tricks, again proved too good at the juicy odds of 10/1, to take out the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace. And once again he didn’t dawdle, posting a mile rate of a tick over 1.58. The Loustar rated a similar time in taking out his qualifying heat of the Bray Country Clubs Pace, at 12/1. Brewin now has an unblemished record for Romanidis of three drives for three wins. “It would be great for that to continue a bit longer because Chris does a really good job with them,” Brewin said. “I’m thrilled to get drives from trainers like John (Murphy) and Chris (Romanidis) and others, as well as my boss Jess Tubbs - although I haven’t got a winner yet for Jess.” Brewin said his Victorian stint didn’t get off on the right foot when he copped “a few holidays early on”. “No-one knew much of me and here I was sitting on the sidelines. That just wasn’t an ideal start,” he said. “But hopefully a few doors might open for me in the near future because some of the top concession drivers have already, or are very close, to driving out their claims.” The youngster, who was forced to give away a potentially bright Australian rules football career through knee injuries, looks certain to be a most successful reinsman. He landed his first winner shortly after being licensed at aged 16 and has since gone on to record an impressive 161 winners. And he may be calling Victoria home for some time to come. “My parents (Justine and Yvette) are keen to come across from South Australia - and they are serious about it, because they’ve just recently put their newly-developed harness racing property up for sale back home,” Brewin said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

After two-and-a-half years at the helm of Mildura Harness Racing Club, popular chief executive Tim Scala has handed over the reins. When Scala arrived from Perth, he brought a host of new ideas with him and this vision has further cemented the far north west Victorian club as one of the best around. Scala has put his stamp on one of Victoria’s most progressive clubs, and the wider industry during his time.  But there’s every reason to expect the club will continue on its innovative pathway, with his former understudy Michelle McGinty-Wilson stepping up to the CEO’s post. McGinty-Wilson, an experienced administrator and passionate harness racing participant, describes the role, without hesitation, as her “dream job”. “I am just so excited – it feels like the perfect fit because I’ve been on the other side of the fence, as an owner, a trainer, a stablehand, and it’s a lot different to being in here in the administrative side,” she said. “I’m in the lucky position of having a life-time involvement in the sport, but also having spent 22 years in the insurance industry, which has given me the administrative skills I need for this role.” McGinty-Wilson’s family has strong connection to the Sunraysia area.  Her father Tom McGinty was a trainer in Mildura in the 1960s, before moving across the State to Shepparton, then the Yarra Valley to pursue cattle farming. Tom’s brothers Brian, Gary and Bob McGinty followed him into the sport, and Brian’s son Jason, who Michelle describes as “like a brother”, is a well-known Mildura trainer. “I always loved the horses and I worked part-time as a vet nurse while I was still at school,” McGinty Wilson said. “Even when Dad wasn’t training horses, we would still go to Moonee Valley most weekends to watch the horses. Then 15 or 16 years ago Uncle Brian and I bought a handful of New Zealand horses and raced them together,” she said. “I had wanted to be a vet nurse, but there weren’t too many job opportunities, and I found myself in insurance, first in reception, then working my way up,” she said. From then on it was insurance for 22 years in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, with Michelle eventually reaching the position of Senior Account Executive and Risk Manager.  “But mum and dad moved back up to Mildura three years ago, and the time was right for Ian and I and our children and we followed,” she said. Her “apprenticeship” as the club’s promotions and marketing manager has seen her working alongside Scala for the past two years, and Scala says that will have provided his successor with a clear insight into the demands of the job. “I thoroughly enjoyed the job – and it is a big job - but Michelle has all the skills she needs and great insight into the big picture,” Scala said. “For me, it’s been a fantastic experience, and we’ve achieved a lot, but I had the backing of a very good committee,” Scala said. “Without that support and of course the valued assistance from a willing band of volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere near what we have done. “The club is in a great position where people want to join and importantly, want to be involved. And that all means a healthy environment for a club and a sport to prosper.” Scala, himself, had returned to his home-region to take up the role at Mildura.  His wife, Isabel, grew up in Murrayville and met Tim, a Swan Hill lad who was working in the local bank and playing football for Murrayville (including in two Murrayville Premiership sides). A promotion in Isabel’s work resulted in the couple again relocating, this time to Melbourne, immediately after completion of the recent annual three-night Mildura Pacing Cup. The continued success of the carnival is understandably a highlight for Scala, but it’s the innovations the club has introduced in the past two years that give him most satisfaction. “The double-seated sulky racing was one of our committee’s ideas.  It had been around as a concept, but involving members of the public under actual race conditions, has been just so successful and a great experience and talking point for people,” he said. “It gives people a first-hand chance to feel what it’s like to sit behind a pacer – it’s a ‘tick off the bucket list’.  They go behind the mobile, there are three other horses in the race and they get a video to remember. “We were the founder of what is probably a unique novelty event, but now South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania are also right into it. We also loan the carts to our sister clubs at Swan Hill and Ouyen to conduct the races. “The driver’s invitational series where they drive and then dress up in a Fashions on the Field contest for an overseas holiday, was a great innovation. The crowd really get into it. “Then there’s the State of Origin night, involving past greats from the AFL, which looks certain to be an annual event, and the Italian night was another success story.” Scala said he believed changing the trials from a weeknight to Sunday mornings had brought racing people together and participants back to the club. “It’s a social get-together and more and more new faces have turned up. They watch the trials and enjoy a cooked breakfast and it’s turned what was a bit of a drag for people into a social event,” he said. Scala, along with club president Alan Lister, took part in a fight Motor Neurone Disease event last October, a charity drive for Neale Daniher, something that was close to Scala’s heart. “I lost my father to that horrible disease. It was also a bit personal because I went to Trinity College with Neale,” Scala said. “The charity drive, which we did in the club mobile barrier vehicle, was an inspirational few days for everyone involved.” The former Mildura trots boss labelled the Ian Watson-trained pacer Flo Jos Gold as his favorite local horse, while SA reinsman Wayne Hill is his most admired driver. “Wayne is always prepared.  You never see him when he’s not studying the form guide or reading over a racebook.” Asked if there was one thing he could change, what would it be? Scala didn’t hesitate and said a perfect world would be Mildura programming its own races with greater input from trainers. While Scala has moved on from his Mildura post, he won’t be lost to harness racing, retaining his executive role at Country Trots Victoria, where he’s treasurer. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When star Victorian harness racing reinsman John Caldow set off up the highway to the Shepparton meeting on Friday night, he was entitled to believe he had a few nice drives. “I must admit that on paper I really did think I could do okay - but I have to be honest and say I wasn’t counting on landing five winners!” a jubilant Caldow said. “It was just one of those nights where you think this might happen, or that could be the case, and then it just all goes to plan and falls into place,” he said. “Absolutely amazing, but hell it was heaps of fun.” The quintet of wins was a first for the freelance reinsman, who, with wife Maree, has a training complex at Melton. “I did get five in total once before, but I couldn’t count it as such – one winner at Maryborough in the afternoon and then four that night at a Melton fixture,” he said. “I have actually had four a fair few times. But the prospect of five at one meeting has probably never entered my head.” The popular reinsman said Shepparton had been something of a happy hunting ground for him in recent seasons. “I’ve been getting heaps of support from trainers up that way and I really enjoy driving on the track. Besides I have lots of friends in the area so it’s great to get up there and see them as well.” The Caldow winning run started with Keith Cotchin four-year-old Karlos (Sportwriter-Kept For Pleasure (Safely Kept). To watch the video replay of Karlos click here. Then it was an all-the-way win with Sheer Modern (Shadyshark Hanover-Modern Society (Modern Art) for Brent Thomson. To watch the video replay of Sheer Modern click here. After being runner-up in the next, Caldow bounced back for wife Maree when successful with Meziah (Bettors Delight-Mesmerizing (Our Sir Vancelot). To watch the video replay of Meziah click here. He then scored a surprise win with $28 long shot Jackson Square (Bacardi Lindy-Front And Square (Yentls Image) in the Trotters Cup, landing the prize for Mick Blackmore. To watch the video replay of Jackson Square click here. Caldow’s fifth winner kept it an enjoyable family night, providing Maree with a training double courtesy of impressive 2YO colt Andover Sun (Andover Hall-Solar Flash (Sundon USA) in the Abrahams Trotters Classic. To watch the video replay of Andover Sun click here. And for Caldow followers wondering the outcome for a $10 all up bet on Caldow’s five winners?  A handsome $42,077 would have been the result . Landing winners is certainly nothing new for Caldow, who is up there with the best of them. He has driven more than 100 winners in a season on 20 occasions. And no-one would begrudge him his success (despite perhaps the one flaw in his make-up, some may say, of being a fanatical Collingwood supporter in the AFL!). After a horrific road accident in the 1980s claimed the life of his older brother Peter and severely injured his father Jack at Boundary Bend in Victoria’s far north west, John was given the task of running the stables, then located at Echuca. “I was only 13 years old at the time and I now sometimes look back on it and wonder how I did it,” he said. “Mum had to get special leave from the Education Department so I could quit school and takeover the stable duties of preparing a team of 12 horses. “But I couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people.  Probably the one who stood out was Russ Thomson, who had a set-up near Moama at the time, but many others gave us a hand. “I can remember having a team of 20 in work when I was 16 years old as that’s when I applied to get a trots driver’s licence.” The Caldow family relocated to Melton in early 2000 and John has continued to cement himself as one of the true success stories of the industry. Caldow said he was certain to remember his quintet of winners in years to come. “It was actually a huge two days as I went to the football the previous night at the MCG with Glenn Douglas, Mick Stanley and some other diehard Collingwood fans and we got a win over the Bombers,” he said. “You could say I’m on a bit of a roll…!” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Astute South Australian harness racing trainer Greg Scholefield had every reason to show some emotion when cheering home his star pacer Emain Macha in Thursday’s feature race at Swan Hill. Scholefield, who is based at Naracoorte in the south east, spent two years as an Australian soldier nearly 50 years ago as part of the National Service Scheme - compulsory military service for the nation’s young men. Scholefield started his Army training in 1969 at Victoria’s Puckapunyal training facility and later spent time at Singleton Army base, in NSW. So it was a moving win by Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three)  in the Swan Hill RSL Anzac Day Cup. “Every Anzac Day is special. It means something to anyone with a sense of respect and loyalty to our country. I think it’s important to pay tribute to our forebears for the life we are all enjoying,” Scholefield said. It was Scholfield’s first trip to race at the Swan Hill circuit. “I don’t worry too much about travelling because I really enjoy getting around to the different places,” he said. “But Swan Hill is a super track. It’s a credit to the two codes of horse racing that they can share the one complex.” Driven forward from the wide six alley, gun Melbourne reinsman Greg Sugars rated the five-year-old to perfection at ahead of affairs, with an opening half of 59.5 secs, clicking the gelding up a gear in the latter stages with splits of 27.4 and 27.8. Emain Macha’s run equalled the track record and Sugars, who made the three-and-a-half-hour drive for just one engagement for his long-time friend Scholefield, was impressed by the win. “Schoey had the horse spot on and it showed in the times we ran.  I probably could have let him slide a bit more midrace, but it’s all about winning not breaking race records,” Sugars said. “I don’t drive very often at Swan Hill, but I wasn’t going to miss it because Emain Macha has been a good horse to me.” Scholefield races the pacer in partnership with Gail Davis, Peter Lamond and father and son John and Sean Penny. Trainer Greg Scholefield (right) with Swan Hill Trotting Club Gerry Maloney, Swan Hill RSL President Barry Townley and Vice Pres Peter Ritchie The likeable trainer purchased Emain Macha privately from Shepparton breeder and horse breaker Heath Redwood. “I didn’t hesitate to buy him because I’ve tried to stay with the same family. I’ve had lots of success with horses purchased from the Redwoods and Emain Macha is related to two of them,” Scholefield. “This family stems from Unique Icon (The Unicorn-Tender Reign (The Contender) who was a star in the early 2000s with 21 wins and 11 placings for $230,000,” he said. “Every horse I’ve tried from Heath has been good.” Scholefield, a former full-time builder, has been training horses on-and-off for the past 30 to 35 years. “When I retired from my trade about 10 years ago, it’s just been horses ever since.” But Scholefield has made the most of his opportunities, and despite training only a small team at any one time, his results are super impressive. “I aim to place them in the most suitable races, and I reckon we’ve had some success with doing that – if it means hitting the road then that’s what we do.” Scholefield said he was unsure where that road would take him next. “I won’t be doing anything for at least a fortnight, but I guess it’s about time to look at Melton again for Emain Macha and (stablemate) Kingofthestars.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ballarat horseman Tim McGuigan won’t be forgetting his first trip to race at Swan Hill, in Victoria’s north west region, for quite a while. Harness racing trainer Tim and his reinsman son Darby landed a memorable double — the first winner blowing punters out of the water at 16/1. “I’ve been up there a few times with Darby, but solely as a spectator,” Tim said. “When I was glancing over the program, I thought the fast class event for C5 or better horses suited our bloke Solarsonic, who is hard to place because of his tight mark (C13-M3),” he said. “So two others made the trip up in the float as well – and it turned out they landed the money! Team McGuigan’s first Swan Hill winner was in the Gallipoli 3YO Pace, and fittingly Darby wore special Anzac Day Appeal commemorative silks on He’s An Artist (Art Major USA-Espeshlimade Lombo (Troublemaker USA). The Anzac Day program silks were worn by all the drivers starting from gate one at Swan Hill, highlighting the appeal which raises funds for the RSL to provide support for servicemen, women and their families. After being headed at the start by Gottahaveahobbie, Darby was content to sit on the leader’s back and wait for his opportunity. “They rolled along at a consistent speed and that certainly suited our horse,” Tim said. On the home corner, He’s An Artist was angled for a wide run, rather than wait for the sprint lane, and when Darby got him into daylight, the gelding stormed home with a wet sail. The quarters of 29.4, 28.8, 28.2 and 29.6 equated to a smart mile rate of 1.54-9. Darby McGuigan with He’s An Artist The starting odds of 16/1 certainly seemed generous, with He’s An Artist a winner at Melton two starts prior and his most recent outing a runner-up performance at the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. “He’s a beautifully-bred horse.  His dam Espeshlimade Lombo was an outstanding racehorse with 16 victories and 14 placings, including a Group Two race, for nearly $300,000,” Tim said. “And she’s been a prolific broodmare and has thrown some very nice horses.” To watch a video replay of He’s An Artist winning click here on this link. The second leg of the McGuigan double didn’t get under the guard of punters, with Sunrainbow (Safari-Sunrain (Perfect Art USA, being sent out a short-priced $1.20 hot pot in the Battle of Tobruk Pace. Sunrainbow gave his supporters no anxious moments and led all the way after pinging out quickly from the mobile barrier. The double brought up 70 wins for the season for concession driver Darby and puts him on track to eclipse his previous best of 73 in season 2017-18. To watch a video replay of Sunrainbow winning click on this link The other McGuigan runner in Solarsonic didn’t weigh in, but he was only 14 metres off the winner Emain Macha, in a fast-run race that equalled the track record of 1.53-5. Tim has been involved in the sport for about 30 years as a hobby trainer. Tim McGuigan “I’m a qualified electrician, but now do a bit of part-time truck driving to work in around the horse stable duties,” he said. “I was winding down and thinking of getting out at one stage, but then Darby started showing a bit of interest, and now I’ve got more horses than I’ve ever had! “I have to be honest and say that Darby does most of the work, but I’m never far away to help him on fast work days.” The stable has 16 in work, including a lot of youngsters. Tim said the three hour plus drive to compete at Swan Hill didn’t faze him. “It’s okay when the horses are on an easy mark, but it becomes difficult after that and these days the key is to try and place them in suitable races,” he said. “I set a goal of somewhere around 20 winners for the season and we’ve now passed that with 23, so the travel’s all good, because it looks like being our best-ever season.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former Riverina young gun Cameron Hart is happy to call Sydney home at the moment – and it appears city life is agreeing with him.   The junior driver posted the 200th winner of his relatively short harness racing career at Brisbane’s Albion Park last Saturday and he’s a model of consistency in the sulky, with his win-place ratio running at more than 50 percent.   And the 20-year-old showed particularly fine touch over the past week.    An enviable winning streak kicked off at Penrith on Thursday when Hart landed the win with eight- year-old gelding Raffaella (Mach Three-Slipinn (Holmes Hanover) for his boss Shane Sanderson.   He then got the money in Brisbane on Saturday, again for Sanderson, with Castalong Shadow (Shadow Play-Leslie Jay (Grinfromeartoear) and followed up at Sunday’s Wagga Cup meeting with a win on Beetson (Art Major-Erin Jean (Classic Garry) in the feature event.   “I’ve been clocking up a few airline frequent flyer points with the travel I’m doing, but I’m not complaining because travel is a big part of the industry and we all have to do it in one way or another,” Hart said.   “It was a bit of a pain when there were no suitable flights to get back to Wagga for the cup, and I had to do a four-and-a-half hour road trip after getting back from Brisbane,” Hart said.   “But it’s worth it when you get the win.”   Hart is hitting the road again today (Thursday) for another Carnival of Cups meeting, hosted this time by Coolamon. He is booked to drive Brobenah Boy for Guy Retallick in the $10,200 Cup and Flaneur for Gary Lang in a C1 event.   “It will be a huge day. It always is at Coolamon and I’m going to enjoy being there, that’s for sure,” Hart said.   The trip to Coolamon will be almost back on home turf. The rising star reinsman grew up at Junee, just 30 kilometres down the road and it seems a career in harness racing was almost inevitable.   Hart’s mother Michelle is a niece of the late Alan Harpley who steered the mighty Welcome Advice to a 1972 Inter-Dominion grand final win. And it also didn’t hurt Hart’s prospects that Junee and the wider Riverina is home to some of Australia’s best horsemen and horses.   “There’s certainly a good bit of pedigree there and in addition, Bruce Harpley, a well-known trainer- driver, is my second cousin,” Hart said.   “So, I guess it was pretty much a sure thing that I was going to head into the sport,” he said.   The pathway to a harness racing career began at the age of five when his parents purchased a pony and the youngster got heavily involved in the mini trotters.   “That was a great learning ground and all of us had heaps of fun,” he said.   Later on, Kim Hillier loaned Hart a pony called Energizer and the pair took all before them.   “We won all the big ones. The Inter-Dominion, Miracle Mile and State Championships for the ponies. I can still remember the first time I competed at Menangle with Energizer and it seemed like a huge circuit,” Hart said.   Flashback to 2014 – young Riverina pony trots competitors Tegan Judd, Jordan Seary (who is also a promising young driver) and Cameron.   As he got older, every spare minute at home would be spent off helping his uncle, Michelle’s brother, Trevor White, a household name in harness racing circles in the Riverina.   “I would help Uncle Trev with trackwork when I was only 12, and three years later mum and dad agreed to let me go there and work full-time,” he said.   “It was an awesome time and I learnt so much about training, care and feeding.   “Uncle Trev also showed faith in me as a driver as well, and he gave me my first race drive on a horse called Ideal Investment at Albury in April, 2016.”   The horse won, two days later, at his second drive, Hart tasted more success at Canberra with Ravishing Girl for Sloys Company and trainer Noel Morris.   “I suppose I could say that it went downhill from there!” he laughed.    It obviously wasn’t the case, but the popular young reinsman’s good humor, along with his natural ability, provided him with plenty of opportunities.   He showed rapid improvement and a cool head beyond his years racking up an eye-catching tally of 60 wins in his first season of driving . “While I enjoyed driving at country meetings, it was always on my mind to get to the city when the time was right,” Hart said.   It was a matter of waiting for a break and it came when Cameron’s sister Ashley, 21, also a driver (now in Victoria with Andy and Kate Gath) approached Menangle-based Shane (Sanderson) regarding job vacancies.   “That was my lucky day because I couldn’t have wished for a better place to work – Shane and his wife Naomi have been awesome,” Hart said.   Hart is now the stable driver for the Sanderson team, and says the timing for him was fortunate.   Shane Sanderson and Cameron Hart (Courtesy Ash Brennan Photography)   “Shane and Naomi have kept building the team and getting stronger horses, so that’s been fantastic for me. It’s not only driving good horses that helps you to be a better driver, but also driving against the best as well.   “While Shane provides me with the most driving opportunities, David Waite is also good and several other outside stables.   “The recent Wagga win was my third Group 3 success, with the other couple at Menangle. I’m just so glad I made the move.   “Sydney is a fantastic city and I’m really enjoying the racing side of it. And in my leisure time I’m finding my golfing is improving!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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