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People interested in starting careers in the harness industry or seeing how a racing training stable runs on a trial race day can attend a 'Come and Try Day' at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre (GHTC). The centre, which operates a fully operational stable with racing horses, will be open on Saturday January 28 from 8am to 12.30 to showcase staff, students and horses as they participate in trial races at the Warragul Pacing Bowl barrier trials. GHTC Trainer, Des Hughes, said a highlight will be an opportunity for visitors to experience a drive in a double sulky - the cart the driver rides behind the horse. "Visitors will also be able to see gearing up, grooming, and washing of horses." He said the Gippsland Harness Training Centre prepares people for careers working with horses as stablehands, trainers and drivers as well as horse owners who want to increase their knowledge and skills to handle and care for horses. "The 'Come and Try Day' is a great way to see this unique facility in Victoria where people learn and train with horses everyday. People can talk to staff and students about courses, qualifications, career pathways and the support available locally for people to get into the industry", he said. Community College Gippsland manages the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Logan Park race track at Warragul and provides a fully operational stable with race horses for students to learn hands-on with horses and perform real track work. For further information on the Gippsland Harness Training Centre phone Community College Gippsland on (03) 5622 6000 or email info@ccg.asn.au    

Great Western gelding Wheatsheaf Avaball will greet the harness racing starter for the 200th time in the APG Sale Pace on Monday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. It will be the popular 11-year-old’s last time at the races. Trainer-driver Michelle Wight said “Charlie”, as he’s known in the stables, would spend his retirement years on the family property. “He’s here for life,” she said. “He has been preparing for his retirement. He has been broken to saddle and he even made an appearance at the Ararat show this year, finishing third in his lead class before backing up at Horsham races the next day sporting curls from being plaited up!” Wight and husband Craig first leased Wheatsheaf Avaball in 2010 from Darren Cole, Terang horse trainer and Wheatsheaf Hotel proprietor. The couple purchased him three years later when their lease expired. Now, in the words of Wight, “Charlie is so much part of the family that we bought his mum from the Alabar sale a few years ago. We now also have Charlie’s three-year-old sister by Grinfromeartoear and a yearling three-quarter brother by Mafioso”. RE-LIVE WHEATSHEAF AVABALL'S TERANG WIN FROM MARCH LAST YEAR Although he’s never won a metropolitan race, Wheatsheaf Avaball has been a rock-solid competitor every time he’s stepped on to a racetrack, earning over $111,000 with 17 wins and a further 60 minor placings. “He is such a tough and honest horse that I have often gotten Facebook messages from random people asking after him or congratulating us after a win,” Wight said. “We were going to retire him last year when he got to $100,000 (in stakes) but he was still going so well that we decided to aim for the 200 starts. “He loves local tracks and has an amazing record at Horsham. He hasn’t won many races there but produced some huge runs. “It’s funny when you go back through his race replays, so many times the caller says as they go over the line, ‘big run by Wheatsheaf’ or something along those lines.” Wheatsheaf Avaball has drawn barrier five in the third race on Monday night at Melton.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Monday 09 January 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Monday 09 January 2017

Local Echuca trainer Faye McEwan was eager to give Verhaasten a run at Echuca Harness Racing Club’s New Year Day meeting this Sunday. But first she had to qualify at Elmore Harness Racing Club’s Boxing Day meeting with the heats determining the final pacers at Echuca’s twilight race event. It would be the horse’s third start in a race and McEwan said Verhaasten was still learning the ropes. ‘‘She’s still very new to racing,’’ she said. ‘‘We have a driver from Tasmania, Josh Duggan, who is almost permanent for us and he will be driving her at Echuca.’’ Having been a trainer for a long time McEwan said she knew a lot when it came to the sport, having trained around 527 winners and being involved in harness racing all her life. Her stable has dwindled in recent years to its current four horses in work, including Verhaasten, Cuban Fizz and two other young trotters. ‘‘At one stage my father, brother and I were working around 25 horses,’’ McEwan said. ‘‘I’ve scaled down a lot in the past years to not work very many these days.’’ She only placed horses in meetings where the classes would best suit her horse and said upgrades to tracks had made for a lot faster times in recent years. ‘‘There aren’t any easy races any more and most of the tracks being built are designed for speed,’’ she said. ‘‘In the past 12-18 months Echuca has spent a lot of money upgrading its track to make it much faster.’’ McEwan said the latest tracks made it difficult for many horses to compete against the top level trotters, which has restricted the places where those horses can race. ‘‘A lot of the time trainers simply have to move horses on to areas which are closer to the tracks most suited to them,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s financially not possible for trainers in this area to continue to travel interstate to places like Wagga and Albury for races, especially with the stake money being so low.’’ McEwan said the turnout for the meeting at Echuca would depend on the weather, but hoped for a large crowd. ‘‘The club goes to a lot of trouble to make it a special night and it would be great for people to bring along picnic tea and watch the racing up close,’’ she said. By JESSICA GLEDHILL Reprinted with permission of the www.riverineherald.com.au/ site

Streamers, Santa and the pitter-patter of some proud pony hooves will engulf Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday, when the trots celebrate the harness racing season with the Kids Christmas Race Night. The much-loved Christmas pony trots race and parade will again steal the show, while children can also enjoy a special night out via the jumping castle, fairy floss, face painting and a visit from Santa. Among those embracing the Christmas family flavour will be the Alfords, with trainer and mum Alison, dad and famed driver Chris and children Katie, 9, and Sam, 6, set for a jolly night. And Dad, reigning Victorian state and metropolitan driver of the year, is going to have to share the limelight with Sam, whose enjoying his debut season as a pony trots driver. “Pony trots are such a great way to start in the sport,” Alison said. “Sam grew up looking through the fence at the big boys and now he feels like a big boy himself. “He goes to every meeting I can get to. He works his pony at home and dresses in Lennytheshark colours, because he wants to replicate his dad and David Aiken, who are his heroes.” Sam’s loyal steed is Sir Bai, or Bailey when the 23-year-old doesn’t have his race face on, a veteran who has guided many to the pony trots finishing post. Alison said he had helped provide a great education to her six-year-old. “(Sam) knows the drill,” she said. “Our rule is if you don’t work him, you don’t race him. He works him a few times each week, rugging him up before and after school. (Bailey’s) great for him. I’ve never seen a kid so happy to run last.” But it doesn’t come without its challenges, one of which is presented by Saturday night’s seasonal celebration. “We are agonizing over the outfit for the Christmas parade,” she said. It’s a problem they’ll potentially tackle as a family, with nine-year-old Katie, a show jumper and part-time pony trots stablehand, among those helping her brother in the “big family involvement”. The family activities start from 6pm on Saturday, December 17, with entry free to all. The night will also feature some great racing, including the $30,000 Popular Alm Free For All Group 3 and the $20,000 Group 3 Aldebaran Park R C Freestone Trotters Cup. And there will be two big Group 1s, with the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic three-year-old trotting colts and geldings and fillies finals, each worth $50,000. For more details about the Kids Christmas Race Night see the flier. For more details about the pony trots click here. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 17 December 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 17 December 2016

When owner Mark Gurry and harness racing trainer-driver John Justice purchased Hickstead from New Zealand the Australian cups scene was front of mind. On Sunday at Wedderburn the four-year-old son of Mach Three showed his class with a tough win in the Travel Managers Wedderburn Pacing Cup over 2555 metres. Despite travelling wide for the final 900m, the Justice-trained gelding – a grandson of Il Vicolo, who sired Hickstead’s mother Il Informed – had too much potency for Lucky Lombo and Uroc Mman in a mile rate of 2:00.9. Justice said Hickstead was originally purchased because of his standing start manners, but his mobile gate form is also impressive, and he has won seven races since crossing the ditch despite Victoria's decision to cease stand-start pacing races – including a Mildura Guineas and Sunday’s Wedderburn Cup. “He’s a really good distance horse. I think he could develop into a very nice open class horse hopefully,” Justice said. “He seems very suited to Australian racing conditions and so far so good. He appreciated the extra trip on Sunday.” Justice has earmarked Hickstead for South Australia Cup night at Globe Derby on January 7, where he could contest either the Justice Family Plate – a race sponsored by Justice’s family – or the Group 1 South Australian Cup. “It’s always a special night for the whole family. We all get together and hopefully we can continue to be involved and keep it going,” Justice said. Hickstead picked up four points in the $25,000 Own the Moment Trots Country Cups Championship as a result of his success. Hectorjayjay leads the ladder on six points, one point clear of Major Secret, whose Geelong Cup success on Saturday took him into second placing on the ladder.  Earlier on the card Brent Lilley combined with Rod Petroff to win the Richmond and Associates Wedderburn Trotters Cup off a 10-metre mark with seven-year-old Sundon-Niamey gelding Sun Of Anarchy, defeating Coimadai Lodge and Herecomes The Cat in the 2555m race in a mile rate of 2:05.0. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Midnightatpinevale, Aballofmuscle, Truscott Hall and Garston Girl all won their way through to $50,000 harness racing finals of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic series at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. The four three-year-old trotters won their $10,000 heats, with all four heats broadcast live into France where punters wagered on the races via the French tote (PMU). The $50,000 finals, separate races for fillies and colts/geldings, will be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, December 17. The Monday night Melton meetings broadcast into France are an important part of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) efforts to showcase the industry to overseas markets with the industry receiving vital revenue via wagering. In addition to winning the $5000 first place prizemoney last night the connections of two of the four heat winners, Midnightatpinevale (by Lawman out of Midnight Rush) and Garston Girl (by Lawman out of Pocket Fantasy), received $7000 Vicbred first win bonuses. Midnightatpinevale, driven and trained by Amy Tubbs, led all the way in a mile rate of 2:00.5 to win the first heat of the fillies’ Classic over 1720m by 2m over fast-finishing Star In Sight (Chris Svanosio) with Breezin Around (Greg Sugars) third. Peter Manning trained Garston Girl (Sugars) to win the second fillies’ heat, rating 2:00.4 to score by 3.6m over Rosanna Lindy in second (Rodney Petroff), with Margaret Ruth (Anne-Maree Conroy) running on well for third. Aballofmuscle (Muscle Mass-Baileys Model) and Truscott Hall (Angus Hall-Truscott Photo) won the colts’ and geldings heats, both driven by Chris Alford. Aballofmuscle defeated runner-up Goodtime Pe Rabbit (Glen Craven) and Garshaway (Jodi Quinlan) in a mile rate of 2:02.8, while Truscott Hall rated 2:00.7 and was 2.1m too strong for Magicool (Matthew Craven) with All Muscle (Sugars) third. Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic heats are restricted to Vicbred eligible horses, who have not won total stakes in excess of $10,000 at acceptance time for the heats. “Vicbred is the most important futurity series we have,” trainer Larry Eastman says. The Vicbred Platinum program is backed by the Victorian Daniel Andrews Government, which reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to the scheme in May. HRV’s Vicbred program is worth over $9 million each year in bonuses and stake money and provides incentives for people to “think Vicbred” and “industry first” when breeding and purchasing standardbreds. Find out more about Vicbred at www.vicbred.com.au Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The internationalisation of Victorian harness racing entered a new phase at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday when renowned French reinsman and trainer, Jean-Etienne Dubois, guided the horse he bred and owns to victory. A winner of famous French race the Prix d’Amerique and Sweden’s Elitloppet, Dubois made his Australian debut driving My Tribeca to victory in Saturday night’s Benstud Standardbreds Trot. It was the Italian bred five-year-old’s first open-age metropolitan win and she did it with ease, doing plenty of work in the run but still cruising to a 12m win. “It’s always easy when you get the better horse,” Dubois said post-race. “She was perfect. Pulling a bit hard, but she’s very good, you can’t do much better than that.” SEE JEAN-ETIENNE DUBOIS' POST-RACE INTERVIEW Throwing the keys to Dubois also gifted great joy to My Tribeca’s trainer, Anton Golino. “That was probably, to this day, one of the biggest highlights of my career,” Golino said. “He’s an idol to me. I worked for his father (Jean-Pierre Dubois) and he is probably regarded as the greatest horseman in the world, and Jean-Etienne is about his equal. "It was more than I could dream of. We’ve become great friends and it was a privilege for me. I really enjoyed it.” Dubois, now based at Mittagong in New South Wales, said he felt at home on the track. “It’s always good when you win,” he said. “It’s a nice track. It looks very much like the track we have in Sweden or up in Europe, bit different to our track in France, but it’s a good track.” Plenty more joy appears in their path, with My Tribeca developing nicely. “She is just learning to be a better racehorse,” Golino said. “She’s only four by actual breeding age, having been Northern Hemisphere bred, and has only had 13 starts so she is still a baby. “We know she’s very good, but are still wary about how far we push her. They are racehorses, they have got to race, but we don’t want to over race her.” The temptation could be great to point My Tribeca towards summer’s headline trots races, including the Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star. With Kiwis Speeding Spur and Monbet ruled out and Keystone Del having challenges this campaign, the Group 1 $300,000 prize is calling. “There is a window with a few having dropped off, but once you get to that level it’s hard, they are all good horses,” Golino said. The French connection continues at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, when the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic trotting heats will be broadcast into France. The greater exposure will continue on Monday nights up until February 13, and then further select nights will follow with 80 races to be broadcast into France in 2017. WATCH MY TRIBECA'S WIN IN FULL VIEW Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Monday 05 December 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Monday 05 December 2016

There was no stepping on Blue Suede Hooves on Saturday night, despite the Steve Cleave trained and driven harness racing gelding bumping into a $1.04 shot in the form of Cant Refuse at Tabcorp Park Melton. Punters sent Cant Refuse out at the seemingly unbackable odds of $1.04 in the Cogs Services Pace Final, but a win for that pacer never looked likely as pacemaker Four Starzzz Forsa ran hard throughout and Cleave and Blue Suede Hooves enjoyed cover on the back of the leader before sprinting to victory in the $10,000 event. “Once John (Justice) got to the front and kept rolling I knew we were in with a big chance,” Cleave, who trains in Chintin, said. “Once the $1.06 pop was out there doing a bit of work it was open for us to come through.” HEAR FROM THE WINNING DRIVERS AT MELTON Blue Suede Hooves is a well-named son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of Presidential Ball mare Presidential Night. Cleave has enjoyed four wins from 20 starts with the pacer. With only a small team in work, Cleave is enjoying a prosperous period having also enjoyed success aboard Springfield Tattoo last month. “We’ve had a great month this last month and now we’ve got a win to star this month, so hopefully it can continue on,” Cleave said. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The return of Tee Cee Bee Macray highlights Saturday night’s Tabcorp Park Melton harness racing program. The Alan Tubbs-trained five-year-old contests the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month Pace over 2240 metres, first-up since an unlucky second to arch rival Ideal For Real in the Breckon Farms Breeders Crown Final. The Aldebaran Park Trot features K D Muscles, who is in terrific form but will face a stiff test against The Boss Man, who was terrific in defeat last weekend. But the most enthralling news story on the card could be the booking of Jean-Etienne Dubois to pilot Italian bred My Tribeca in the Benstud Standardbreds Trot. Dubois bred the five-year-old Goetmals Wood-Image mare and races her in the stables of Cardigan’s Anton Golino. The Frenchman has won 1500 races as a trainer and has more than 1200 victories in the cart and in saddle in mounted events. His biggest success came in 1996 when he trained and drove Coktail Jet to win the world’s biggest race, the Prix d’Amérique for legendary French thoroughbred and trotting owner Daniel Wildenstein. “It’s pretty exciting,” Golino said. “He is a great driver who has won an Elitloppet, a Prix d’Amérique, his won just about every major race in Europe and has trained multiple champions including Coktail Jet but also had Quaker Jet and The Best Madrik, who stand at Haras des Trotteurs. “I’ve asked him a couple of times if he would come down and drive and he was never really interested and recently he said I’ll come down and we’ll see how it goes. I’m not sure if he’ll continue to drive her (My Tribeca) after this but we’ll see what happens … it’s a privilege to have him drive her.” It will be Dubois’s first Australian drive. Golino’s association with the Dubois family is well documented. During his stint in France he worked for Dubois’ father, Jean-Pierre Dubois. “Pat (Driscoll) and Jean-Étienne Dubois are great friends and through the stallions such as Love You and the horse we had out here last year, Used To Me, we’ve become good friends and it’s been a great opportunity, and also for breeding in this country,” Golino said. My Tribeca goes into Saturday night’s contest off a down-the-track result after galloping last week. “She was a bit stirred up and a bit fresh and drawing on the inside didn’t help her. It’s better if she has horses either side of her.” The first of nine races on Saturday kicks off at 6:30pm. by Luke Humphreys Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 December 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 03 December 2016

Lightly raced seven-year-old gelding Allies Mate delivered a Group 3 harness racing triumph to his connections, trainer Alan Donohoe and reinsman Chris Alford at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. The son of McArdle out of Fake Left mare Mon Repos scored a neck victory in the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship Final with a 1:54.2 run. There were great scenes trackside as Allies Mate's connections celebrated the win enthusiastically.  From gate five in the 1720-metre dash Alford had Allies Mate one-by-one at the 1200m mark after Zermanion ran by early leader Bazzas Art to get the top and Egodan whipped to the chair  from his back-row draw. When Im Lonely took off three-wide down the back stretch Alford stayed in and held the back of Egodan, who hit the front for Rod Petroff at the quarter pole, allowing Alford room to swing three-deep on the home corner. Once Egodan and Allies Mate hit top gear for the final fight to the wire it was Allies Mate who out-sprinted his rival, the last quarter 27.3 and last half 55.7 as Allies Mate notched his seventh career win and took his stake earnings in excess of $50,000. Egodan was game in second, with Im Lonely third for Greg Sugars and consistent Hollys Miss Molly fourth for Robbie Walters. Earlier on the card Metro Mike (Metropolitan-Tuscan Skies) took out the Pridemore Electrics Sokyola Sprint over 1720m in 1:53.9 courtesy of a 26.5 last quarter (55.1 last half). Major Secret initially led from barrier three, but Metro Mike and driver Jason Lee came around early and dashed to the front from his back-row draw, giving the Emma Stewart-trained stablemates the lead and box-seat positions. Once in front, Metro Mike dictated and ripped up the lane to hold off an audacious  Im Corzin Terror, whose run was super in second, and Major Secret, who couldn’t come on to challenge the leader once he’d surrendered the front. Veteran Smudge Bromac was fourth. Metro Mike’s win gave Lee a double in the cart, as he also drove Desdon Murruffy (Mordern Art-Spellmaker) to an all-the-way win in the Cogs Services Pace for trainer Matthew Craven, which also gave Craven a winning double after he trained and drove El Paco (Yankee Paco-Kellybrooke) to take out the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Cup over 2240m in 1:58.2. Long odds-on favourite Maori Time dropped out sharply to only beat the ill-behaved My Tribeca over the line and the vet will check the Brent Lilley star mare to ensure all is well moving forward. The Boss Man finished second for Scott Dyer and Ellen Tormey in the Trotters Cup, producing a brave performance to only just get pipped at the post, with Hinault – a stablemate of the winner – finishing third. Metro Mike’s win also gave trainer Emma Stewart a winning double at Melton because her five-year-old Mach Three-Star Chaser mare Our Star Dust won the DNR Logistics Pace for Chris Alford. That win was the first leg of a winning double for Alford, too, given his later success with Allies Mate. Another driver in great form is Greg Sugars, who also walked away with a winning double courtesy of six-year-old Modern Art-Bella Aurora gelding Heza Modern Guy winning the HERO Life After Racing Pace for trainer Kari Males, and Fairest Fella (Artistic Fella-Mirra Mirra) winning the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series E Final for trainer Michael Hughes from barrier 13. Other winners were five-year-old Elsu-Fluffy Handcuffs gelding Feel The Buzz for Maro Stella and Brad Chisholm in the TAB.com.au Pace Final, flying mare Zibibbo (Shadow Play-Karamea Dreaming) in the Allied Express Transport 4YO Pace for Kerryn Manning, and unbeaten three-year-old Star Of Memphis (Rock N Roll Heaven-Star Of Venus) for Andy and Kate Gath in the SBG Accountants Pace to finish the night. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Two graduates of the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre were in the winner's circle at Cranbourne last Saturday night. Local horsewoman Kylee Paull bought up her first training victory with her horse Whiskey Business in the Monte, or ridden trot race. Kylee has been a regular competitor in these under saddle races - she rode a winner at Geelong earlier this year but last weekend was the first time she had partnered her own horse to victory. Whiskey Business had been getting close to a win for some time, doing a good job against strong opposition. The horse has proven quite capable at the saddle events, and the victory will only do his confidence the world of good. He led all the way on Saturday night, and Kylee was delighted with the well deserved win. Steve Austen has recently moved to West Gippsland, having trained at the South Oakleigh circuit for some years. His horse Monterey Jack won the last race of the night on Saturday, the horses first victory for Steve. Steve was one of the early graduates of the GHTC, which celebrates 20 years of operation in January. This year's intake of students at the Centre will attend their presentation awards night at the Warragul harness race track this Saturday evening.

K D Muscles proved her toughness yesterday at Gunbower when she scooped up a second harness racing win in three days, having won at Melton on Friday and then Sunday’s Cohuna Car Sales Bill Poxon Memorial Gunbower Trotters Cup over 2630m. The Muscle Mass six-year-old mare, who lead throughout in Friday night’s Haras Des Trotteurs Trot, received a penalty from her Melton win and in the Cup started outside of the 20m mark, instead of the inside. After stepping safely, she worked forward into the box seat before Kate Gath came three-wide at the bell. After pressuring 2015 winner Dead Cat Bounce at the 1200m, K D Muscles found the lead but copped pressure from Aleppo Sunrise and Tenno Dance. In Gath’s hands she found some breathing space with a 28.2 third quarter, holding off second-placed  Aleppo Sunrise in the straight to win by 6.1m in a 2:03.4 mile rate. Trainer Andy Gath heaped praise on his “really nice mare”. “She has a good turn of speed with a really good gait about her,” Gath said. “(She) has come a long way in a short space of time since we’ve had her, and just about every run she has had has been pretty good. “She’s a really strongly built mare with a really good constitution and recovers well all the time, so she’s a perfect racehorse really”. New Zealand born K D Muscles, who was bred by Grant Beckett, joined the Gath stable in February this year. “She came on the market, took a lot of persuading for my owner, Norm Jenkin, to buy as she only had the one win in New Zealand and he was put off by that a bit, but she was up against nice horses,” Gath said. “We were able to purchase her for a pretty reasonable price and she’s earned some nice money since and she has more to offer.” Gath mentioned her next run is likely to come at Melton on Saturday week in a TM1-M3 mobile in favour of the The Weekly Advertiser Stawell Trotters Cup the following day. Gath’s other runners  at Gunbower were Star Of Dionysis in the Gunbower Family Hotel Gunbower Pacing Cup, who finished last as an odds-on favourite, and Yackandandah, who finished third in the Easy Ride Sulky Gunbower Club Pace. “At this stage Star Of Dionysis has pulled up all right, there are no alarm bells going off to say there’s something wrong, but maybe the hot weather got to him,” Gath said. “Yackandandah had to come quite wide and I was happy with him, he’s a good honest horse.”  Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Those in Victoria’s north will be powerless to quell the urge to step outside on Sunday and get their backsides trackside to the much-loved Gunbower Pacing Cup. Powercor maintenance work to perform fire prevention measures and maintenance will affect the area, but Gunbower Harness Racing Club secretary Peter O’Shea said the club would be fully functional and a timely escape. “We’ve had a few problems with Powercor turning the power off in the area, but they have come to the party and given us generators, so everything has come together,” Mr O’Shea said. “With the power out at home there’s even more reason for everyone to get to the track. They can’t do much else, maybe pull the weeds out of the garden or something, so they might as well come to the trots.” Mr O’Shea said Sunday’s race day was a much-needed opportunity for the Gunbower township and those in its surrounds to enjoy a day out. “It’s a dairy industry up around here. We get a lot of people in a radius of 30 to 40km all the way up to Echuca, which is half an hour away,” he said. “It’s only a small community and it is great that we can have the trots and come together and have a day off. “Parents are under a fair bit of the pressure running the kids in all different directions to various sporting events, which they know they need to do to keep the sports alive in the area, and then they don’t get a lot of chance to enjoy themselves. On Sunday they can sit back, relax, have a few drinks and chill out a bit.” And there is plenty to enjoy at the unique event, not least of all the games. There will be the gumboot competition, “the bloke that won it last year threw it 45-50m”, the Spit The Dummy Comp and the 4x100m mixed relay race, with all carrying first, second and third-placed cash prizes, plus vouchers. The ever-popular umbrella area will also provide an escape and has already attracted “70-odd” attendees. “We have the big square bales of hay as our fence and will have a bar area and TAB, so people can put a bet on without having to leave the area,” Mr O’Shea said. Those in attendance will also be able to enjoy some first-class racing, with an eight-race card including several quality affairs, no less than the Gunbower Family Hotel Gunbower Pacing Cup, which will be contested by Star Of Dionysis, Bad Boy Brad, Diamond Ace and Beachstar among a quality field. “We put a new surface on the track this week, which is looking really good and has come up well, so we are very pleased with the participants getting behind our meeting. We’ve got 87 or 88 horses, a capacity field in the cup and 11 in the trotters’ cup.” by Michael Howard Fields for Gunbower, Sunday 20 November 2016 Form guide for Gunbower, Sunday 20 November 2016

St Arnaud’s annual cup meeting will be run on Sunday, March 5, after Harness Racing Victoria (HRV), the Swan Hill club and St Arnaud successfully negotiated the date swap. Swan Hill was initially down to race that Sunday but its committee agreed to move to an earlier date, freeing up the March 5 timeslot for St Arnaud, whose cup program was washed out at the weekend. “It’s a great result,” St Arnaud secretary Kaye Boyd said. “We are very keen to have another go. I’m calling it Take 2! Everybody around town is asking about it. I’ve had umpteen people asking whether we’re getting another go, so I’m really pleased we are.” Ms Boyd said the community was “100 per cent” behind St Arnaud’s cup meeting and she expects a big crowd will be on hand come March 5. The disappointment of losing Sunday’s meeting following an overnight downpour of rain was obvious on the faces of the club’s hard-working committee and volunteers, Ms Boyd said. “I wasn’t the only one disappointed. You could see it on everybody’s face when we all went out for a meal on the Sunday night. But these things happen and we’re very thankful to all those who helped us get that second chance, especially HRV and the Swan Hill Club for allowing us that date.” HRV Interim General Manager of Operations Shane Gloury said he was pleased St Arnaud was able to have another crack at running a successful cup day. “The whole team at St Arnaud put a lot of effort into promoting and organising cup day and it really was bad luck that they weren’t able to race,” Mr Gloury said. “I must thank the Swan Hill Club for working proactively with HRV to ensure this date was available. Our clubs are always only too willing to help each other in these circumstances and we hope the whole community gets behind St Arnaud in March.” Mr Gloury also reiterated HRV’s commitment to pay to pay all drivers’ fees from Sunday and make a ‘meeting abandonment payment’ to each trainer who had a runner engaged. “Trainers and drivers work hard and to lose their earning opportunity due to the weather is horrible luck. We feel it is the right thing to do to compensate our participants in these circumstances.” Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Harness Racing Victoria

Tabcorp Park Melton hosted the eighth annual Victorian Harness Racing Media Association Hall of Fame gala presentation dinner last night. In addition to the Hall of Fame inductees and the elevation of Popular Alm to ‘Legend status’, the night featured the Harness Racing Australia Media Awards, the VRHMA Certificates of Merit and the Trainers and Drivers Association Certificates of Merit. Presented by the VHRMA in conjunction with Tabcorp Park, the Trainers and Drivers Association, SEW Eurodrive and Harness Racing Victoria,  six inductees to the Hall of Fame were honoured plus one legend of the sport. Hall of Fame inductees: Don Dove Jack (JP) McKay Ben Coram Jack & John Campbell Adaptor Carlotta’s Pride Legend status Popular Alm Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association Meritorious Awards Graeme Prosser Jim Matthews (Posthumous) VHRMA Certificates of Merit Ron Anderson (Former HRV Board member) Stan Rutland (Former Bendigo HRC President) Neil Keamy (Long time press photographer) Dr Peter Ellis (Kilmore Veterinary Surgeon) Neil Richmond (Former HRV Board member) Kyle Galley (Long Time Media Participant) Len Baker

It was a case of the meeting of the generations at the Bendigo Harness Racing on Friday, November 11, with many of Victoria’s legendary drivers of the past uniting with the future stars of the sport to highlight the night’s racing. The Veteran Drivers Trot attracted a stellar list of Victoria’s most decorated drivers, with the line-up reading like a ‘Who’s Who’ of major race wins. Six Inter Dominion victories as well as Hunter Cups, Breeders Crowns, Oaks, Derbies, Country Cups and just about every other major race feature were listed on the career records of the drivers involved. The combined total of winners driven by the eleven competitors was over 11,000, with Brian Gath heading the group with over 3,300 wins. Other drivers involved included Graeme Lang, Jim O’Sullivan, Neville Welsh, Ginger Gleeson, Cliff Powell, Keith Pratt, Graeme Whittle, Peter Manning, Noel Shinn and Bill Spiteri. The crowd gathered in numbers around the Presentation Dias for both the pre-race introduction of the Veteran Drivers and the race itself, and were treated to a thrilling finish, with Brian Gath securing a narrow victory on the Christine Douglas owned and Jennifer Douglas trained Hanging On A Dream. Also on the same program was a heat and final of the Ted Manton Memorial Pony Trot for aspiring junior drivers. A massive field of 19 Pony Trotters took to the track, with the youngest competitor just six years old. And just to reinforce the links between the past and future of our sport, both the owner and trainer of Hanging On A Dream had children competing in the Pony Trot series. They were all very excited to greet Brian and Hanging On A Dream for a photo at the completion of the race. To round out the eventful night of racing, the favourite for the upcoming Perth Inter Dominion Hector Jay Jay, scorched around the Lord’s Raceway track in a near-record time to win the Markovina Free For All, convincingly recording a 1:55.2 mile rate. This race had been re-scheduled from Melton on the following night to accommodate  the participating Inter Dominion horses that were Perth -bound on a Sunday flight. by Bendigo Trots Club

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