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Kyneton harness racing hobby trainer Greg Leight and his reinsman son Steve are leaving their mark on the track at the moment. The stable has posted recent strong country wins at Ballarat and Maryborough - and now they've decided it's again time to mix it at Melbourne's metro circuit, Melton. Bay gelding square gaiter Arrested (Lawman USA-Scarlett Ribbons (Roydon Boy USA) has certainly earnt that opportunity. He's been in great form with four wins and five placings from 13 starts this season. Arrested and his stablemate Your Nicked (Lawman USA-Arrestin Tess (Red Coach Glory USA) have run the quinella at their past two outings - with the score one-all on the victory spoils. "They have both been going along nicely, but if you can weigh in then everyone is happy," Greg said. "We try and avoid having them clash, but sometimes it's just inevitable because they're both in the same class. It's pretty good to get a couple of quinellas though!" he said. Now retired from his trade as a former butcher and drover in the meat industry, harness racing is Greg's hobby. "Win, lose or draw we tend to make a day of it at the meetings. We'll have a drink and stay around for something to eat with our couple of owners," Greg said. "And it really is nice to be enjoying a purple patch of success. At present we have a good lot of horses and you just hope they keep coming up each season. "We are hopeful these two can work their way into the country cup circuit next season, because they're both excellent standing start horses. That's the plan anyway." Secretary Manager of Maryborough HRC Les Chapman presents the trophy to Steve Leight and part-owner Kevin Walsh  Greg said he'd be thrilled to see Your Nicked continue to improve for part-owner Kevin Walsh and his son and daughter-in-law Tim and Belinda. "Kevin and his brother Frank were farmers at Trentham and breeders for many years and Your Nicked is the last one they bred out of the former top racemare Arrestin Tess (who won 13 with 37 places for $75,000)." Greg, who landed a Group One success with Dalmont Jo in the 2003 VicBred Super Series Final for 2yo fillies, said he enjoyed training trotters. "I've got five in work and three of them are trotters and if you are lucky enough to get some handy ones, it can be heaps of fun," he said. "I probably don't discriminate, though, because a talented pacer is quite okay too!" Apart from Arrested (6 wins $34,000), and Your Nicked (also 6 for $43,000), the Leight stable also has tough trotting campaigner Law Legend (13 wins, 29 placings for $89,000). "We won the $14,500 Warragul Trotters Cup in late April with Law Legend. He's a great beginner and when he's in front, he just pumps up in heart and ability," Greg said. "Apart from those we also have C3 pacer Daddywho (9 wins/$55,000) and an Auckland Reactor-sired 2yo pacer I've got a big opinion of," he said. Greg said he enjoys the training side and is quite happy to leave the driving duties mainly to Steve; with Jack Laugher and Brad Chisholm being called upon when necessary. The Leight team is prepared on a trotting track inside the Kyneton racecourse. "It has been a long-standing setup, probably over 40 years but there's now only a handful of us harness racing guys left. It's used more by the gallops people," Greg said. "But I love it because it's so convenient. I live very close and the facilities are all there." Hoofnote: Arrested has drawn barrier 8 in race 3 at Melton on Saturday night. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Young Armstrong harness racing trainer Leroy O’Brien is the first to admit that a small amount of luck has gone a long way. But whether it’s been good fortune, hard work or perhaps an eye for detail, 27 year old O’Brien and his father and co-trainer Danny have been certainly reaping the rewards. Their latest success was courtesy of super-impressive Im Sir Blake (Alta Christiano NZ-Jupiters Darling (Dream Away) in the $25,000 Mitavite Northern Region Championship at Mildura last Thursday. The pacer, driven by Kerryn Manning (her second success in the feature event) was awesome in winning by 20 metres in 1.58-3. Click here for the race replay of the Northern Region Championship  “It’s a five-hour road trip to Mildura, but we’re not complaining because we’ve gone up there three times and come home with three winners,” O’Brien said. Im Sir Blake was a touch unlucky not to go through the Championship series undefeated. He was awesome in winning his first heat at Swan Hill late last month, and then galloped across the line at the next round of heats at Ouyen, only to be relegated from first to second. O’Brien paid the bargain price of $4000 for Im Sir Blake as a yearling at a Shepparton All-aged mixed sale – the same sale where two years earlier he snapped up a then-unraced Imprincessgemma for a rock-bottom “$900 plus GST”. “The filly caught my eye just in the way she carried herself and Im Sir Blake looked like a well-gaited type,” Leroy said. “We are very lucky to have some horses with so much ability.” Imprincessgemma (Village Jolt-Melody Strike (In The Pocket), raced by Leroy and his mum Sharryn, has won 11 from 25 starts for $107,000. Im Sir Blake, owned by Leroy and his dad Danny, has won seven for $58,000. Their other stable racehorse is Michelle Wonson-owned 2yo trotter Molly’s Purse, a recent winner of the $30,000 Group Two NSW trot final at Menangle. “I have to be honest and say we’ve had some nice offers to buy Im Sir Blake, but it’s sort of a lifetime thing with him,” O’Brien said. “My dad deserves the horse and does most of the work with him. Im Sir Blake waits at the gate for him – they’re really the best of mates,” he said. “I’d probably rate the horse as the best I’ve ever had although a trotter we had, Suave Jay, equalled the Mildura track record a couple of years ago and he went okay. “But Im Sir Blake is super quick and can do a bit of work. He’s a lovely little fella and I think we’ll now aim him at the upcoming Sires.” O’Brien said the horse was named after his sister Kirsty’s oldest child, Blake, while her daughter Gemma comes into play in Imprincessgemma. The father and son training partnership has been “on fire” this season with 15 wins and nine placings from 29 starts, for $106,000 in stakes. It’s a real family affair as Danny, a mental health nurse, and Leroy, a plumber, do as much as possible at the stables before heading off to work. Mum Sharryn, a disability support worker, is, according to Leroy, the backbone. “Mum feeds up and helps out wherever she can, and my fiancée Kristy also does a great job. You just need that massive support to keep ticking along,” he said. Leroy and Kristy recently became engaged and nine weeks ago welcomed son Tommy into their lives. “You could say that it’s all happening,” Leroy said laughing. “I suppose we’ve fallen on our feet with a lot of good luck, but you still have to put in the work for the success to keep coming,” he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

As well as being a passionate Perth stud owner, Bob Fowler is also highly regarded as a successful and canny businessman. But a busy life doesn't stop him for a minute from keeping up to speed with news in the harness racing world, even more so if it's close to his heart. Fowler and his wife Marilyn own picturesque Allwood Stud at Bullsbrook, 45 minutes from the WA capital city, and would have been chuffed with news of a recent Bathurst winner. Chestnut filly Dancelikeanangel (Fly Like An Eagle-She Can Dance (Village Jasper USA) went to the line untouched to take out the Rock N Roll Heaven Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2yo fillies heat. After beginning nicely from the gate, trainer-driver of Dancelikeanangel, Brad Hewitt ducked in behind the well-supported leader Didnt I (Amanda Turnbull). The tempo was solid as Turnbull rolled along in splits of 29.8, 30, 28 and 29.3. When the leading pair skipped away from the other runners, the stage looked set for a two-horse war. But when Hewitt popped out turning for home, he packed too many guns and cruised home in impressive fashion. The mile rate for the 'babies' was 1.56-6 for the 1730 metre trip. Dancelikeanangel is from the first crop of Fly Like An Eagle progeny to race in Australia. Three have so far raced, with Dancelikeanangel a winner and the other two placed - Tequila Tequila (Fly Like An Eagle-Little Fib (Village Jasper ) second in a heat of the Bathurst Gold Tiara and Here's Your Bonus (Fly Like An Eagle-Cherry's Angel (Badlands Hanover) a runner-up in a heat of the Leeton Plate. The Bathurst win was only the second start for Dancelikeanangel, who ran sixth at her debut a few weeks earlier. Hewitt went back to the trials at Menangle last week and the pacer impressed track watchers with a 1.58 win, so connections could certainly be excused for being excited about the $50,000 fillies' Group Two final on July 13. Fly Like An Eagle is coming up to his fifth season at Allwood Stud Farm and with his first foals now racing, it appears his exceptional speed as a juvenile is being passed on. As a 2yo Fly Like An Eagle took out the Group One Emerald at Ashburton on Harness Jewels Day and also won the Group One Cardigan Bay Stakes. Crowned as 2YO of the Year in NZ, he set a record over 1700 metres with a mile rate of 1.55-9. He later went onto win two more Group One events and lowered the colors of the likes of Smolda, Christen Me, Sushi Sushi, Caribbean Blaster and Sir Lincoln (aka Lincoln Royal). Fly Like An Eagle also won the New Zealand Derby. And who could forget his sensational victory in the 2012 Breeders Crown Final for 3yo colts and geldings - easily the best of his eight wins on Australian soil. It's no secret the Fowlers were overjoyed to finally secure the stallion after chasing him for years. The winner of over $756,000, Fly Like An Eagle was under the ownership of the Muscara Group of North America. He is arguably the best colonial-based stallion on stud duties here. His sire is the former multimillion-dollar champ Mach Three, who has left his mark around the world by siring a plethora of big race stars. (Mach Three was humanely euthanized in January, 2017, after breaking a hind leg in a freak paddock incident). Fly Like An Eagle is out of a Falcon Seelster mare and brings the blood of Overtrick, Most Happy Fella, Light Brigade, U Scott and Volomite - one of the best NZ maternal families you could find. The Allwood Stud Farm sires are Fly Like An Eagle ($3000 inc GST), Follow The Stars ($3000 inc GST), Rock N'Roll World ($4000 inc GST), Lombo Mandingo ($1100 inc GST) and Tinted Cloud ($1100 inc GST). Bob and Marilyn Fowler Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Three rule the roost at Cranbourne It was hard to get a look in at the Cranbourne harness racing meeting on Monday afternoon – that’s providing your name wasn’t Sugars, McGuigan or Alford. From the seven races conducted, the trio finished in the top three placings on an unbelievable 17 occasions. Simply breaking it down, it reads like this: Greg Sugars-four wins, two seconds and one third placing; Darby McGuigan-two wins, two seconds and three third placings; and Chris Alford-one win and two seconds. Sugars, based at Myrniong, won with Downunder Barkers (Down Under Muscles-La Poeme); Apollo Rock (Pet Rock-Wicker Maker); Dansbro (Elsu-Ritzy Emm) and Ashincharge (Jet Lang-Art Dragon). “I’m having an okay season, but I keep bumping into a guy by the name of Chris Alford!” Sugars said. Alford has been awesome this season.  The latest HRA stats show him with 1317 drives for 312 (47 metro) wins and 375 placings for $2.6M.  Alford’s wins and places to starts ratio is 52.16 percent. Sugars is next, and ticking along okay, with 198 wins and 305 placings at 45 percent.   * * * * * * * * ‘Reactor factor’ coming through in the breeding barn Former Kiwi speedster Auckland Reactor (Mach Three-Atomic Lass (Sokys Atom) thrilled fans with his spine-tingling racetrack feats and is now making a name for himself as a sire. His dominance had him dubbed “The Reactor Factor” in his racing days and Auckland Reactor is siring not only some terrific looking youngsters, but they can also run. One of his latest winners was 3yo chestnut gelding Crowded Reactor (Auckland Reactor-Threes A Crowd (Armbro Operative), who did it tough to score nicely for trainer Rebecca East at Horsham. It was the second consecutive win for Crowded Reactor, who had won a fortnight previously at Terang. Tim McLean was the winning driver both times. The dam Threes A Crowd (Armbro Operative-Blood Sweat And Tear (Power Bunny) was an eight times winner for $33,000 in stakes. Pictured: Rebecca East and Crowded Reactor after their Horsham victory (Courtesy Horsham HRC)   * * * * * * * Sidney strikes for new barn Belgian-born reinsman Sidney Van den Brande was a happy young man at Maryborough this week, posting his first win for new boss Anton Golino. And he went back to his harness racing roots in doing so, by landing 4yo square gaiter Bouttemont (Ready Cash-ShowMeTheMaori (Lindy Lane). Prior to shifting Down Under, Van den Brande had competed only in trotting races, but in a number of countries including Belgium, France and Germany. After arriving in Australia the likeable reinsman spent time with the Aiken and Stewart-Tonkin stables before joining Golino at Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms at Cardigan. The move was essentially to reacquaint himself with trotters – and he will have plenty of opportunities to do that as ace trotting trainer Golino has a plethora of them. Van den Brande has now driven 101 winners with 53 of these being in Australia. Bouttemont was sent out a warm $1.90 favorite and after finding the front in the early stages, punters were on good terms with themselves. The mare won easily from Honey Please and Coco Lombo. The win gave Golino a training double, having scored earlier with Sound Of Terror (Western Terror-Sounds Alive (Live Or Die) driven by Jack MacKinnon. Pictured: Sidney van den Brande    * * * * * * * * Rich rewards from long road trip Champion reinswoman Kate Gath rarely travels to the far north west of Victoria, but she made her presence felt at Mildura recently. The diminutive blonde and her husband, astute horseman Andy, are based at Long Forest, near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne.  But they elected for Kate to make the six-hour road trip to Mildura and she was rewarded with a winning treble. The first two victors were for Andy – Miss Hartley (Bettors Delight-Motu Racy Girl (In The Pocket) and Kerford Road (Somebeachsomewhere-Just Delight (Bettors Delight). Kerford Road, $1.20 favorite, was awesome in winning by 35 metres and stopping the clock at an impressive 1.57-6 for the longer 2190m trip. Kate picked up the catch drive on consistent locally-trained mare Penny Snatcher (Artscape-Bona Fide Lass (Catch A Flight) for in-form trainer Scott Garraway. The six-year-old led and was never going to be run down with a solid tempo of 31, 30.4, 28 and 29.5 for a rate of 1.57-5. Penny Snatcher, a speedy customer, has since been put on the market. Pictured: Kate Gath (Courtesy TasRacing)   * * * * * * * * Charlton calls for track name nominations Charlton Harness Racing Club has sent out an SOS in regard to an appropriate name for their redeveloped racetrack. The building of a $4.2 million multi-purpose sport and recreation facility at the town’s trotting headquarters has been eagerly awaited — and the reopening is on schedule for September 29. The facility has been long overdue with the community working towards it for the past 13 years. The completed hub will also be home to other sport and recreation clubs with shared administration rooms. Harness Club President Joey Thompson said all suggestions for a track name would be considered and the new name would be unveiled on the opening day. The early money is on much-loved local trainer-driver Ian McCallum to be recognised.  And it’s certainly hard to go past “Macca”, who passed away in June 2013, aged 82.  He was a gentleman and legend of the sport and a true professional both on and off the track. Ian McCallum drives his last winner in 2008 – Beleva, at the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival (Courtesy Sunraysia Daily)   by Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Loveable larrakin harness racing trainer-driver Tim Mortlock is sure to be wearing his trademark huge smile for weeks to come. Mortlock, of Maryborough, combined with young gun reinsman James Herbertson to land longshot winner Seemepearlywhites (Grinfromeartoear-Numismatic (Elsu) at his home track on Thursday afternoon. "It was a nice surprise because we've only had the horse for a short time," Mortlock said. "I actually took her to the trials four days before the races and she pulled her brains out. We ran fourth in a five-horse trial, so I decided to change her bit and hope for the best," he said. "I wasn't all that concerned because I thought with the race being over the short trip of 1609m that they'd keep rolling along up front and she wouldn't have a chance to pull." And with Mortlock's hunch playing out perfectly, and aided by another polished driving display by Herbertson, it all unfolded for the best with Seemepearlywhites scoring comfortably by nearly seven metres at 30/1. "When 'Herbie' landed in the one-one sweet seat and sat patiently until the 350m mark, I was hoping she'd run on - I actually said to my mum Helen before the race that I thought the horse would go real good or real bad with the gear change," Mortlock said. RACE REPLAY: "At home she just jogs around on a loose rein, but I knew I was in trouble at the trials from the moment I turned her around to score up - she was off and going," he said. Mortlock said he ended up with Seemepearlywhites when she was purchased by former Queenslander Greg Eeles, now based at Maryborough. "Greg didn't really have room for her and fortunately I did," he said. "As a youngster, Greg helped out my Pop (Jack Hargreaves) at Korong Vale before he headed off to Queensland." (The late Jack Hargreaves was an icon of the sport-probably his greatest moment in a 34-year career was winning the 1969 Miracle Mile with Adaptor, later sold to USA for $250,000.) Mortlock said he's been involved in the sport "forever". "When I was growing up, I really didn't have a choice because I was carted off to the trots with dad (Robert) and mum. But I really didn't complain - I looked at it as a day off from school!" he said. "My involvement would be well over 40 years. But it's been lots of fun and days like the Maryborough win are special." Apart from Seemepearlywhites, Mortlock has two youngsters in his stable. "My work can sometimes take me away from home, so it's getting harder to do them all with the shorter daylight hours, but one thing's for certain, I'll make sure I get to train Seemepearlywhites," he laughed.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Accomplished NSW Central Tablelands harness racing trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt has been riding high of more ways than one! Hewitt, who is based at Georges Plains, a small town just 15kms south of Bathurst, is enjoying his most successful season ever. "We recently chalked up our 107th winner. We've been getting a few doubles here and there so everything is going along nicely," he said. "There's still a few months of the season remaining so hopefully we can keep adding to the tally. Our previous best was last season, when we had 101 winners." Hewitt, who has been driving for 40 years, showed his horsemanship talents recently at a Young meeting. "Yes I reckon I got lucky," he said laughing. "I did end up with a nice burn mark and bruise on my lower back. But it certainly could have been a lot worse." Hewitt was driving five-year-old mare Ima Black Beauty (Always A Virgin-Jungle Talk (Die Laughing) in the Telstra Shop Young Pace. After moving three wide early and racing in the death seat, Hewitt launched an attack at race leader About The Attitude (Melissa Hawke) with 500 metres to go. The pair raced stride-for-stride until Ima Black Beauty got a half to three-quarters length clear into the home corner. Hewitt said his horse hung in a bit onto the leader. "As a result, I got shot out of my sulky seat and landed on the edge of the shaft with one leg out the side," he said. "I was probably lucky that the newer gigs are a bit more balanced because otherwise I don't think I I would've been able to scramble back in. "I've certainly had my share of spills over the years, and I did think for a moment 'here we go again!'" But Hewitt's experience showed through. After losing the lead in the scramble, he regained his composure and rallied to get up and win by the barest of margins, a short half head. View the video replay! CLICK HERE! One of Bernie's sons, his stable foreman Douglas, also landed a winner at the meeting, but without any acrobatics. He was successful on Theagenes (Art Major-Willing Greek (Golden Greek) in the 2yo Pace. And there's never going to be a shortage of drivers at the Hewitt stable, which is working 35 horses at the moment, with Douglas' brother Jason back home after spending time away through work commitments. Jason, who was heavily involved years ago, has been refreshing his skills at the trials and is happy to be third string driver. It's a real family affair with Bernie's wife, Cathy also hands-on around the stables, while their daughter Gemma, married to Mat Rue, prepare a big team just down the road.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A popular square-gaiter double at Melton by Kerryn Manning had harness racing enthusiasts reliving memories of more than 20 years ago this week. The 42-year-old world champion horsewoman, based with her husband Grant Campbell in Victoria's Great Western region, was at her superb best in capturing a pair of Group Two scalps. Manning was successful with Aleppo Jewel (Angus Hall-Insulated (Safely Kept) in the IRT Australia Matriarch Trot for four and five-year-old trotting mares, and then with Dublin Chubb (Lawman-Pocket Fantasy (In The Pocket) in the Rewards Hospitality Tatlow Stakes for 2yo trotters. Aleppo Jewel is prepared by Manning, while her father, legendary horseman Peter, is the trainer of Dublin Chubb. Both races carried stakemoney of $30,000. Aleppo Jewel has been in great form since returning to the racetrack in March after six months off the scene, with three wins and four placings from 11 starts. Her dam Insulated won five from 23, with Kerryn Manning successful on three occasions as a driver when the mare was prepared by Andy Gath. Manning plans to target the coming rich Vicbred Super Series with Aleppo Jewel. Kerryn Manning aboard Aleppo Jewel winning the Group Two Matriach Trot (Courtesy Stuart McCormick) Meanwhile Dublin Chubb, who started at the luxury odds of 10/1, is going about his business in good style. The gelding has nice gate speed and Peter Manning has him trotting in faultless fashion, with his four wins from seven starts record that speaks for itself. It was way back in 1997 (that's not a misprint!) when a young and quietly spoken Manning took all before her with Knight Pistol (The Contender USA-Pacealong (Lopez Hanover), the trotting freak of his era. Knight Pistol shot Manning to international harness racing stardom in what was then a headline-making trip to Europe. The venture culminated in arguably Manning's greatest win when she became only the second female to drive a Group One winner in Europe, at Norway. Knight Pistol began his career in the early 1990s, winning the hearts of harness racing fans with sensational home-country victories before being tested in Europe. He wound up with 55 wins and 39 placings from 181 starts for over $600,000 in stakes. Manning left school after Year 10 to work on her father's property and drove her first winner at aged 16. At that same time, she had instant success in her own right, with the first horse she trained Allbenz (bought for $500) going on to win 24 races. In addition to her success, Manning has been a great ambassador for her sport, both on and off the track and she was earlier this year recognised by being the first woman inducted as a Caduceus Club of Victoria Living Legend. The club, named after a horse that was a superstar of the 1950s and 60s, established the awards to acknowledge those in the sport who contributed at the highest levels. Peter was inducted as a Living Legend in 2006 and the pair became the first father-and-daughter to be admitted to the club. Kerryn Manning said at the awards night that harness racing was something she always loved doing and was lucky enough to be "pretty good at it". Her performance record speaks volume of her distinguished career - more than 3800 winners in the sulky and a training career amassing over 920 victories.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Experienced South Australian harness racing trainer-driver Greg Norman has decided the time is right to border hop and try his luck in Victoria. Norman, 54, will soon set up base at Charlton, about an hour north of Bendigo, with a team of at least six pacers. The successful horseman, who is private trainer at the Two Wells property of prominent owners Terry Cormack and his sons Adam and Paul, said the plan was to “test the waters” during a three-month trial period. “We all talked it over and come to the decision to give it a go,” Norman said. “The game is not travelling all that well in South Australia, so that was probably the main reason for the shift,” he said. “Over the years we’ve had a few short campaigns in Victoria to chase Vicbred and Breeders Crown bonuses – and we’ve done quite well.” Norman will be based at the Charlton harness racing training complex, located on 12 hectares at the edge of town. There are 11 tracks within 120 kilometres of the centre, and Norman said he was excited at the prospect of having nearly 150 meetings each season within easy reach. “It’s just a perfect spot. I’ve spent virtually my whole life living in country towns and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen here,” he said. “At the training complex we’ll have unrestricted use of a 820 metre training track and there’s also a 2000 metre straight track and a swimming dam.” Tenants at Charlton have their own 60 x 30 shed with electricity, access to town water, lock-up harness and feed areas, a wash bay, harness-up area and two boxes. “But one of the aspects I really love is the eight adjoining huge day yards because I train all of our horses out of the paddock at home.” Norman has been around horses all his life, coming from a strong harness racing pedigree. His late grandfather Reg Norman and late father Rex prepared a string of quality pacers during the halcyon days of the 1950s through to the end of racing at Adelaide’s tight, 502 metre (two-and-a-half-furlong track) Wayville track in 1973. The Norman stable-stars list reads like a who’s who in South Australian golden era of harness racing: Machine Again; Bylaw; Chief Spring; Blue Proof; Pewter; Aladdin’s Lamp; Merchant; Peter Adios; The Judge; and, of course, Aachen, the 1960 SA Cup winner (famous for creating what was, at the time, a record winning sequence of 20) and later going on to become a champion sire. Greg Norman has been successful in his own right, winning at least 13 country cups and a group three Victorian Cup at Melton for the Cormack family. “There will be mares and foals, and a host of yearlings back at the Two Wells property, and these will be under the care of two great workers in Jamie Williams and Paul Butterworth,” Norman said. “What has stood out for me here is the passion shown by the harness racing people at Charlton.  They are trying to attract more horsemen to the area and people bring people. They are a very pro-active and progressive club.” Norman is hoping a foray into Victoria to race at Ouyen last weekend will be the beginning of good things to come. Bay gelding Cee Cee In America (American Ideal-Ultimate CC (Christian Cullen) was impressive in taking out the first heat of the Ray and Grace Hepworth Memorial 3yo Pace. The pacer, a warm $2 favorite, was driven a treat by Kerryn Manning. “I’m not really officially counting that win as the start of the Victorian venture, but I do hope it’s a good sign,” Norman said. Although he’s had two previous stints in Victoria, at harness racing stables in Healesville and Avenel, Norman is keeping his powder dry about any shift in his footy allegiances. With the move east, he’s instead planning a few Melbourne trips on his days off. “I’m an enthusiastic Port Adelaide follower so I’d love to get down to the city and cheer on the boys,” he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

He was a huge drawcard on the racetrack...and now Auckland Reactor continues to leave his mark at stud with his maturing progeny now attracting the eye of astute harness racing horsemen. Bred by Dr Tony and Anne Parker, Auckland Reactor (Mach Three-Atomic Lass (Sokys Atom) was the quickest horse ever to get to the one-million-dollar mark in earnings. Bursting onto the scene and winning his first 17 straight got the powerful pacer's bank roll looking healthy and he finished his astonishing racing career with 32 wins and four placings from just 53 starts. Auckland Reactor's oldest progeny are now four-year olds, and from his 385 Australian foals old enough to race he has has recorded 120 starters and 54 individual winners for just under $1.3 million. One of Auckland Reactor's impressive recent winners was well-bred bay filly Torque With Esteem (Auckland Reactor-Effective Torque (Jennas Beach Boy), which saluted at Queensland's Redcliffe in successive weeks. Trained by Chantal Turpin and her husband Pete McMullen at their property at Patrick Estate (population just 200), about an hour from Brisbane, the pacer has certainly shown a liking for the bayside track. "She has now won four races this year at Redcliffe and I think with more experience, she should develop into a nice horse," McMullen said. "They do need to have a bit of ability these days, and thankfully she's not missing in that department," he said. "Our stable worker Reece Maguire won with her the first two times, then Chantal was successful, and I got the money on her at the most recent win." The only chink in the armor for Torque With Esteem is a tendency to race a little greenly at times. "Her manners are not all that good, but she's getting better," McMullen said. "It's nothing too serious, she just tends to run around a little. But I'm sure with more race experience that will improve." The pacer is raced by enthusiastic breeder-owner Ian Corazzol. "Ian has four or five horses with us at the moment. He just loves watching all his horses. It doesn't matter if it's at a country meeting at Marburg, or a metro fixture at Albion Park, Ian will be watching them go around," McMullen said. To watch Torque With Esteem win on the 22nd of May click here. To watch Torque With Esteem win on the 29th of May click here. Another son of Auckland Reactor, exciting Queensland youngster Hipstar (Auckland Reactor-Oh So Hippe (Life Sign USA) has been raising eyebrows in recent months. Trained by respected horseman Graham Dwyer, the three-year-old has now won four of his past seven outings. His winning purple patch kicked off at Albion Park, Brisbane, on March 8. He then showed that wasn't a fluke with further victories at that venue on April 2 and May 10. His latest win at Redcliffe showed he's as "tough as old boots" with in-form reinsman John Cremin the winning driver. Hipstar is destined for bigger things that's for sure! His career at the moment stands at 26 starts for six wins and nine placings with a PB of 1.56 posted at "the creek". To watch Hipstar win on the 29th of May click on this link. And the Auckland Reactor juggernaut rolled along at Ballarat, and then down the highway to the Melbourne metropolitan meeting at Melton. Trainer Jeremy Quinlan and junior Bendigo reinswoman Tayla French delivered a knockout blow to punters at Ballarat when they combined with four-year-old You Ninety Two (Auckland Reactor-Numismatic (Elsu NZ) to score at odds of 20/1 in the Best Western Plus Ballarat Suites Pace. French, who works part-time for successful Bendigo trainer-driver Chris Svanosio, did an exceptional job as the horse raced strong on the bit and she found herself in a pocket approaching the home corner. But when You Ninety Two (bred and owned by Peter and Beatrice Salathiel, of Goornong) saw daylight, he knuckled down to the task, out four and five wide, to find the line nicely. It was the first time French had driven the pacer. And to explain his name? U92 is the chemical symbol and atomic number of Uranium on the periodic table of elements. And to add more intrigue, the grandmother of the horse is Atomic Fusion, while the dam of Auckland Reactor is Atomic Lass. To watch You Ninety Two win on the 24th of May click on this link. A nice Emma Stewart mare coming through the ranks in Shining Oro (Auckland Reactor-Totally Oro (Totally Ruthless) also recently won well at Melton. Raced by Sam Stewart, brother of the trainer, the four-year-old was rated to perfection by master city reinsman Chris Alford. Splits of 28.9, 30.2, 28 and 27.9 saw a handy rate of 1.54 to the winner. Shining Oro now has four wins from her seven outings this preparation. To watch Shining Oro win on the 25th of May click on this link. In-form country Victorian trainer Rebecca East continued on her winning way at Terang on Tuesday night with a winning double. Lightly raced three-year-old gelding Crowded Reactor (Auckland Reactor-Threes A Crowd (Armbro Operative) scored a narrow win in 1.59-6. Tim McLean was the victorious driver. The pacer started his career with Kevin Brough and was transferred to East late last year. The gelding has now won two and certainly looks an improving type. To watch Crowded Reactor win on the 4th of June click on this link. The second leg of the East double came in the form of Girls In Charge (Lincoln Royal-Proud Trick (Falcon Seelster). Popular reinsman Michael Bellman, who is closing in on a century of wins for the season, landed the money.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Passionate St Kilda AFL football club fan Noel Watson, of Swan Hill, is hoping his four-year-old harness racing pacer Artistic Saint will kick a winning goal in the $25,000 Northern Region Championship final at Mildura on Thursday. And Artistic Saint (Art Official-Anna Rachelle NZ (In The Pocket USA) is sure to be prominent following impressive qualifying heat wins recently at Swan Hill and Ouyen. "I have never had a horse good enough to be in this feature event over the years so it's quite a thrill," Watson said. "Artistic Saint was a replacement horse from Alabar Farms. When one of my foals died they offered to help us out which was nice," he said. "I got a list to choose from and I can't remember what I paid, but it wasn't much. I opted for him because the dam had left some speedy types, rather than strength. "But the funny part is that Artistic Saint races totally different to that as he showed at Ouyen on Sunday. It was a grinding, never-say-die victory so it was really pleasing." Watson is well-known in the far north-west region of Victoria. He is a keen harness racing breeder-owner-trainer and joint vice-president of the Swan Hill Trotting Club as well as dabbling in thoroughbred training. In addition, he takes on many media duties, with perhaps his most recognized being a local football broadcaster, a job he's done now for 33 years. And somewhere in between all of that, Watson conducts a successful business in his hometown, Watson Real Estate. As well as those eye-catching colors, resplendent with Saints logo, many of Watson's horses over the years have also carried the 'Saint' prefix with notable performers including Saint Flash (27 wins 43 placings $285,000), Saint Stormy (11 wins 45 placings $88,000) and Saint Babe (9 wins 17 placings $38,000. There's also been Saints Blaze, Bee, Grace, Breeny, Belle, Lisa, Zeus, Win, Tiny, Phoebe and Theory. "I think I've been a mad St Kilda footy fan for as long as I can remember. Even back at Primary School when I was the captain, I was fanatical about the Saints," Watson said. "No-one in my family was football-orientated, but you have got to stick with them. I try and get down to Melbourne to watch them early in the season before my football-calling duties begin at home." Watson said one of his favorite memories footy-wise was being allowed into the St Kilda footy rooms on match day. "My daughter Alexandra was at Uni studying myotherapy and doing some work for the club, so I was able to get in and that was exciting. She later did nursing and has gone on to be a doctor," he said. Artistic Saint has now had just three starts back from a long spell, and the let-up appears to be paying dividends thanks to the patience of trainer Glenn Douglas, of Bendigo. "The horse developed a nasty habit of galloping, sometimes sadly when he was in a position to win! He got stood down by stewards for his behavior in November and I suggested to Glenn that we give him a short spell," he said. "Glenn was admanant that we should give him a bit of extra time off and he's come back flying with a third and two wins. There's no doubt we will need an ounce of luck in the final coming from the back row, but you've got to be in it to win it!" Watson will also be cheering for Torrid Saint (Shadow Play-Torridon (Safely Kept) who has drawn the five alley in the Ray and Grace Hepworth Memorial 3YO Pace Final. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

Former champion Kiwi harness racing driver Anthony Butt, now based in Sydney, was bubbling with confidence earlier this week when he got off to a flyer at Tuesday's Menangle meeting, with a Group Two victory. It was the perfect start and Butt went on to snare three winners - but his day could have been one better. "If I hadn't pulled the wrong rein later, I could have finished with four winners, but that's the way it goes - I had the choice of drives and went the wrong way," a philosophical Butt said. The Group Two win was for the Danny and Leroy O'Brien training combination, hailing from a small town near Ararat. The father and son combination got the chocoloates in the $30,000 NSW Trot 2YO Final with Mollys Purse (Eileen Donon USA-Golly Kosmos (Sierra Kosmos USA) for owner-breeder, Michelle Wonson. The win was courtesy of Anthony Butt's familiar, well-judged, front-running style driving. "The first quarter of a tick over 30 secs was okay, and then I was able to back right off with 33.2 and 32.3 splits which set it up nicely for us. She stretched out in 29.3 to the finish line and was quite comfortable," he said. "We were out there to get the Group win on the board, not to break records, and we achieved that without too many worries." Starting on the third level of betting at 7/1 behind the more fancied Artzen ($1.95 fav) and Sunny Gee ($2.15), Butt was able to rate Mollys Purse to his liking. "That was the first time I've driven for them, so it was a bit special and she's a nice little filly who did the job pretty easy," he said. "They are going to have a lot of fun because she was a little green and she has some growing to do. "I don't know what the plans are, but perhaps after a few runs, and then a break, she will certainly come back bigger and better." Anthony Butt's brother, highly respected trainer, Tim, also showed a Midas touch on the day with a treble, preparing the winners of races two, three and six. Anthony was the driver on two of the Butt stable winners but jumped the wrong way with the third. The Golden Lion (Peak DNK-Young Monkey), despite not displaying his best manners in the score up, got his act together for James Rattray and won by 11 metres over stablemate Running Free. Mile rate for the 3yo and older trotters' event was 2.01-4. "It's not much use complaining because I could have driven either, but James is a good friend and as the second stringer, he got the winning drive, so that was nice." The Butt boys combined in the T2 to T4 Trotters mobile to score on $1.45 fav. Majestic Courtney (Majestic Son-Courtneyrae (Armbro Invasion). "They are all capable square gaiters and should continue racing well for a while," trainer Tim said. "I like them a lot so hopefully they keep getting the job done." Four-year-old mare Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Changeover-Back In The USSR (Presidential Ball) was one of the outsiders at 14/1 in the Christmas In July at Club Menangle Pace, but looked impressive. Well handled by Anthony for brother Tim, she downed the $2.30 favorite by three metres in 1.56. The brothers are both based at the Menangle Training Centre with Tim, being a more familiar face having been there over 18 months. "I've cut back to 25 after getting rid of a few off the bottom rung and recently moved into a new barn," Tim said. "We had another treble a few weeks ago and I've now trained over fifty for the season so it's shaping up well." Anthony, who trains with partner Sonya Smith, prepares a relatively smaller team of six or seven to allow him time to take outside driving commitments. The Inter Dominion Hall of Famer moved to Menangle in October and describes the Menangle track as "very fair". "By this I mean every horse gets its chance," he said. "And there's plenty of racing here. There's racing at Menangle twice a week and other country meetings like Penrith if you want to go there. "We've got a few going around at present, one of the best is Reign On Me, who's a winner of three of his last five." Anthony has won nearly every major race across Australasia in almost four decades in the sport and first crossed the Tasman in 2014 for a four-year stint in Victoria. But there's every appearance he's most content these days as a Sydneysider! "We are finding it far less hectic than Victoria where we were always on the go," he said. "There was a fair bit of travelling back and forwards and we decided to stay in Sydney because of the racing and lifestyle. "It's a lot quieter and while you are competing in less races, the stakemoney is just so good." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Good natured Ararat harness racing owner-trainer Ross Healy says he's the best of friends again with his racemare Tarara Jill. The five-year-old square gaiter, who Healy describes as a horse with "not much patience", recently put him in hospital overnight after they got tangled up prior to a race at Bendigo. But six days later at Stawell, Tarara Jill (Allawart Ray-Hickory Trick (Yankee Reb USA) got the money, courtesy of a super Michael Bellman drive. "I'm pretty sure it was her way of saying sorry," Healy joked. The Bendigo accident happened as Healy was leading Tarara Jill from the stabling area to the marshalling yard. As he let the horse go, she spun sideways and stood on his foot. "Then the shaft got me a ripper causing me to lose my balance and I stumbled backwards, landing flat on my back," he said. "She is one of those types which you have to be very careful with all the time, and I am, but in saying that, she's still bowled me over a few times. "I'm starting to think I'm like accident-prone Frank Spencer in the TV sit-com 'Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em' - I just seem to be in the wrong place all the time!" Healy said he wasn't allowed to move after the accident until the ambulance arrived at the track. "So it was a bit embarrassing, but thankfully I had a Wilson Medical Group member monitoring me and keeping me calm before I went off to hospital," he said. "A lot of good people helped out. I've always said harness racing is a big 'Neighborhood Watch' at its best! We're out there competing against each other, but when people get into strife, support comes from everywhere." Tarara Jill ran a creditable fifth at Bendigo, her first run back from a short spell. "Our daughter Cherelle drove home with the horse and float that night, while my wife Sue was at the hospital with me," Healy said. "On our way home the next day, we talked about backing Tarara Jill up quickly at Stawell as an experiment." And the hunch paid off. After beginning brilliantly from the 10-metre handicap, driver Michael Bellman was in front a short time later. Appearing under siege with 400 metres to go, Tarara Jill dug deep to fight off all challengers and score a strong win. The Tarara in the mare's name comes from Ararat spelt backwards and the mare is raced by Ross, Sue, their daughter and "number one strapper" Cherelle, and son Dale. Healy, who is track curator at Ararat, got involved in the sport over 35 years ago when working on the railways with Neville Bellman, father of trainer-driver Michael. "I used to go out to Neville's and clean the boxes and do other jobs around the stables. Then later on he stuck a form under my nose and told me to sign it - it was a lease agreement for a horse," he said. "I told him I couldn't afford it because we were putting kids through school at the time. Neville wouldn't listen and just said 'you keep doing what you've been doing for me and you have a share'. "To say that we got spoilt would be a big understatement as the horse was Good Lookin Byrd, which went onto win 15 races and 28 placings for about $140,000. "So, of course, we then got the bug and went in some others and had fun. It was around 2002 when (Daylesford horsewoman) Anne Maree Conroy urged me to get my own trainer's licence-so I've been doing it ever since." Healy said it was a real family affair with wife Sue in charge of breeding bloodlines, daughter Cherelle doing jog work and stable-hand duties, while son Dale helps out when work permits. "We have two other girls who aren't into it, but are doing well in their own careers," he said. Healy will be sidelined for between eight and 12 weeks, having a knee replacement next Monday. "And before you ask, it was nothing to do with Tarara Jill - I've been waiting two years for this operation!"   Terry gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Cobram might be just another small Victorian town perched on the banks of the Murray River, but when it comes to harness racing, particularly with a special cause attached, it stands mighty tall. And this is particularly so in regard to the annual Pink Day for Breast Cancer. Thanks again to enthusiastic club administrators Marg and Bob Watson and a band of hard and willing workers and supporters, last Sunday's meeting was perhaps the most successful ever held. One of the biggest crowds attended for the ninth Pink Day, while money raised to go toward the McGrath Foundation Breast Care nurses is expected to be an all-time record. The Watsons are passionate beyond belief for the cause and Marg said they were thrilled this year's tally was slightly above last year's $27,000 with donations continuing to come in. Along the journey, the annual Pink Day has now raised more than $158,000. From the owners, trainers and drivers of the more than 100 horses engaged at the meeting, to the hundreds of community-members who attended, Marg said everyone came in the right spirit. "People made a special effort to wear pink," she said. "One woman told me that pink just wasn't one of her favorite colors, but she was wearing it right or wrong for the day. "Pam Wilson's a pretty well-known trotting person from around here, and she had nothing pink in her wardrobe, so she went out and bought something. "And then there was a group of our civic leaders who all had pink ties and bought pink ribbons as well. The fund-raising hoodies that we sold in the leadup to the meeting were also on display." A ceremony which involved the lighting of candles and releasing of 60 pink balloons raised awareness and gave people a moment to reflect on the Cobram Pink Day theme. More than 20 sponsors got behind the Cobram special meeting with prizes including a five-day Gold Coast holiday, a $3000 holiday voucher and $1400 worth of Visa vouchers. Harness racing people didn't miss out either with Carbine Chemicals and Hygain products presented to trainers in each of the 10-race program. There was also a lucky trainer's draw for two sets of Hyland colors and an encouragement award for 14 days at Harkaway horse water walker. Special sulky dust-sheets, with the Pink Day theme, were also handed out to many trainers. "It's quite possible that no-one went home empty handed," quipped Marg. "But even if they did, they would have had a great day. It was just fantastic and had such a great feeling." And on somewhat of a humorous side, winning trainer of the Invitation Ladies Drivers' Race, Wayne Anderson (My Magic Merlin, driven by Kima Frenning) left his trophy behind as well as a $100 voucher he won in a raffle draw! "Wayne was just over the moon with his success," Marg said. "It was so beautiful to see him with so much passion and excitement. "Another popular win was Donna Castles who took out the Cobram Lions Club Pace with six-year-old mare Castafiore." After showing gate speed, Castafiore (Tintin In America-Our Girl Claire (Jeremy Lovell), a 25/1 chance completely ignored in betting, was impressive with an easy win over the short 1670m trip. Sky Racing Presenter Britney Graham presented the Cobram Lions Club trophy to winning driver Donna Castles Donna is coming up to three years cancer-free after undergoing treatment and is one of the most dedicated workers behind the scenes for Cobram Pink Day. There was talent galore in the $10,000 Invitation Lady Drivers Race   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ace Brisbane harness racing driver John Cremin usually tends to keep it all low key...but at the moment he's, understandably, quite upbeat. Cremin, a former Albion Park metropolitan premiership-winning reinsman, has formed an awesome partnership with boom two-year-old filly Pelosi (American Ideal USA-For Dear Life (Life Sign USA). Pelosi continued on her winning way at Newcastle on Saturday night with a sparkling victory in the Rock N Roll Heaven Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2yo fillies heat. Starting a short priced $1.04 favorite, the Wayne Honan-bred and owned youngster, took control soon after the start and made it five wins (the last four in a row) from six starts. Cruising through the first few quarters in 29.4 and 31 seconds, Cremin slipped the pacer into another gear over the final half, which was run in a brisk 56.1. "She was entitled to dash home in good time as she did the first part of the event well within herself," Cremin said. "I only let her quicken up at the 400-metre mark but didn't fully extend her and she just felt super. Credit must go to the runner up Shezlikeroyalty who popped off my back and was brave, although she was eight metres back." Race Replay Cremin was full of praise for trainer Anna Woodmansey, who is enjoying the ride of her life in the sport. "Anna is doing a terrific job and the filly has been in peak condition ever since I first sat behind her in a few trials back in February," he said. "I've been friends with her for a long time - probably since our teenage years. "Over the years I've driven for Anna on and off, although I was pretty much her number one driver for about 12 months at one stage." Pelosi will now head to the $25,000 semi-finals at Menangle next month with the big $125,000 final at that track on June 30. Cremin, who flew down from Brisbane with his wife Tanya to drive at the Newcastle meeting, had two reasons to celebrate. Their pacer Psychedelic (Rock N Roll Heaven-Pretty Inpink (Statute) won the Qualifying Pace at Albion Park - the 18th win of the six-year-old's career. "We pulled over and watched it on our phone. The horse is owned by Tanya, so she was pretty excited. He's now won nearly $140,000," Cremin said. The win saw what could perhaps be described as "musical chairs" between Cremin and well-known trainer, albeit sometimes-driver, Graham Dwyer. Cremin is number one driver for Dwyer who prepares a big team. "Graham decided to concentrate mainly on the training side of things and sort of only drives when he has to," Cremin said. "When we were heading to Newcastle and looking for a driver for Psychedelic he got the first call, and jumped at it. "I told him after the race that the drive didn't rate all that highly! But it was actually very good - we do have that sort of working-friendship relationship." Cremin, who has been the senior farrier at the strong Grant Dixon stable for the past 15 years, said his success was due to help he was getting around him. "My wife Tanya has been the mainstay for a long time, and just recently we had some Victorian friends in Nigel and Kim Ingram lending a hand. You always need that help going on in the background and it appreciatively lightens the load," he said. After flying back home from Sydney on Sunday, Cremin managed to put his "backside on a chair for an hour or two" before heading off to a Redcliffe meeting where he had a big book of drives - including snagging a winner in the first in Gotta Moment (Gotta Go Cullect NZ-Fleeting Moment(Falcon Seelster) for, you guessed it, his mate Graham Dwyer   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Skillful harness racing reinsman David Moran, is hot property at the moment. Moran, based at Kialla, near Shepparton, landed a winning treble at his home track on Monday and four days later was at his very best with a bag of four winners at Wagga Wagga. "To be honest they all did look to be strong chances on paper at Wagga, but we've probably all learnt not to get ahead of ourselves in this caper!" Moran said. "It all worked out okay this time and I think I have been lucky enough to get four previously at Wagga, Leeton and Shepparton," he said. Moran's Shepparton meeting got off to a flying start with the boom youngster Lochinvar Art (Modern Art USA-Ponder In Paris (Ponder USA), trained by Moran with partner Laura Crossland, cruising to victory in a tick over 1.57 for 2190m. A relative newcomer to their stable, Mamas New Dude (Western Terror USA-Shake It Mama (Mach Three), looked good in bringing up Moran's second winner, taking out the Alabar 3YO Pace. To complete the trio of winners, Moran then piloted the Patrick Ryan-prepared Starsbythebeach (Somebeachsomewhere USA-Maid For You Lombo (Sportswriter USA) to take out the BMW 2yo Pace. (Bendigo conditioner Glenn Douglas, who has his team absolutely up-and-about at the moment, shared the honors with Moran at Shepparton-also landing a treble.) Moran said he was pleased the way Lochinvar Art went about his business. "He had a bit up his sleeve and it was his first start back after taking out the Gold Chalice Final at Bathurst about seven weeks ago," he said. "We're aiming him for the Breeders Challenge semi-finals and final at Menangle next month, so we are on target. "We chose the Breeders Challenge rather than the prestigious IRT Harness Jewels in Addington, NZ, next Saturday because over there we would have come up against a 'handy horseman' by the name of Mark Purdon!" Moran was the punter's pal in his trip over the border to Wagga Wagga on Thursday, duly getting the prize on three favorites and a second-favorite. It was again none other than the Kevin Gordon-owned flying machine Lochinvar Art, getting the ball rolling, zipping over the 1740m trip in 1.53-8. Moran then landed a double for the powerful Stewart/Tonkin team at Ballarat with Victoria Brew (Sportswriter USA-Charlotte Brew NZ (Mach Three) and Hardhitter (Mach Three-Grace Robinson (Perfect Art). His fourth for the day was for Victorian Gippsland co-trainers Gary and Deb Quinlan, of Drouin, in Rocknroll Pearl (Rock N Roll Heaven-Jazzam (Christian Cullen NZ). "It's nice to pick up a few drives for Emma and Clayton and it's good to do okay for them and stay in the mix because they have a lot of horses going around," Moran said. Moran's four-win efforts are not his best, though - he joined a select group of drivers in March, 2015, when he bagged five winners at a meeting. "That was exciting, and I remember it well because it was the Albury Pacing Cup meeting and I won five of the eight races on the card," he said. The in-form driver is also enjoying a great season as a trainer, with his partner and co-trainer Laura Crossland. The training partnership was formalised recently and has 11 wins, 16 placings from 44 starts. "Laura is a bit under-rated as a driver, because the horses do run for her," Moran said. "I'm always happy to watch her take the reins and I do think it's a bit surprising that more trainers don't use her services," he said. Demonstrating the commitment required of today's professional reinsmen, after driving at Wagga, Moran caught a plane to Shepparton and then drove his car to the Ballarat meeting that night. "The fairytale unfortunately didn't continue - I had one drive and didn't do any good as the horse jumped a shadow and ended up back in fifth spot in the 3yo Classic," he said. Moran, who has been at Kialla for eight or nine years, got involved in harness racing through well-known and highly successful trainer-driver David Aiken, of Avenel. "I grew up with his son David junior. We were best mates as kids," he said. "It was a natural transition to start with the Aiken stable once I finished school."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura      

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

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