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Kerryn Manning (pictured) can't help but have a little giggle when she talks about her stable star Duke Of Wellington. In her words, the son of American Ideal is a "big dopey thing". Despite his quirks, the lightly raced four-year-old has undeniable class and looks destined to become a regular performer at the top level. "I'm not sure how much talent he's got, but he shows quite a bit at this stage so hopefully he can keep building on that," the Great Western trainer said. "He's very large, very heavy and very dopey. "He feels like you aren't going very fast, but you are. That's a good thing..." Bought by prominent owners Merv and Meg Butterworth after nine career starts, Duke Of Wellington then claimed the Group 2 Southern Supremacy Final at Ascot Park before heading to our shores. His four Australian runs have returned two placings – including an eye-catching third in the Group 1 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza (1720m) – and wins at his last two starts. And the most recent demolition job in the DNR Logistics Pace Final (2240m) at Tabcorp Park Melton has him a warm favourite to make it three on the trot at the same venue this Saturday night. Manning will be in the sulky for Duke Of Wellington's crack at the Group 2 City of Melton Plate XXX (2240m). "Obviously it's a fairly solid and strong field, so he's going to have to be at his best to beat them, but he certainly has a bit of a draw advantage (barrier four) on some of the better ones in it," Manning said. Looking forward, Manning and the Butterworths have plans to take the horse to some feature races in Tasmania or back home in New Zealand. It won't be an ultra busy night for Manning at headquarters tomorrow, but it could still prove a memorable one. She will drive her father's horse Reciprocity in the Group 3 Allied Express Jodie's Babe (1720m). Manning will also be at the controls of Maree Campbell's Lucinda Mac, which looks a nice chance from the good draw in the Economix Vicbred Trot (1720m). And her night should finish on a high in the last race of the program, the Atherstone Pace Final (2240m). Manning's husband Grant Campbell will drive Yankee Lincoln, which is a red-hot favourite to win the C1 only event. Manning also prepares this son of American Ideal for the Butterworth family. Tim O'Connor

For Jeff Connelly, training standardbreds is an escape from the battles of life on the farm. It's something to look forward to when the times are tough and a distraction from the day-to-day grind. And given that the sport is only a hobby, it's no surprise the 70-year-old has long periods without success. But Connelly was the toast of home club Birchip on Sunday when his gelding Clontarf Guy bolted up in the McLennan Bulk Fuel Pace (2150m). Driver James Herbertson had the son of Union Guy tucked away three-back-the-pegs for much of the race, but found clear air down the back straight the final time and the horse zipped around the field for a dominant victory. The result ended a long time between drinks for the Birchip Harness Racing Club committee member, who last prepared a winner all the way back in November 2000. On that occasion, it was Pop A Top Again that broke through for his one and only career triumph. Since then, Connelly has had more than 140 starters without a win. "I gave it (training) away for five years. I'm a farmer and I just lost a little bit of interest for a while," he said. After that break from the sport, it was essentially Clontarf Guy that encouraged Connelly to go and regain his trainer's licence. "I would have broken Clontarf Guy in and it would have taken me two years to get him running. And I wouldn't have got my licence back until he was ready to go ... so it's been five or six years (I've been back training)," Connelly said. "It's taken until now to win a race with him ... it's been a battle." Clontarf Guy's breakthrough came at his 41st trip to the races and at the age of eight. But given the way he attacked the line to win by more than 12m, there looks to be a few more in store. "I went there not expecting to win the race," Connelly, the breeder and owner, said. "I've changed his training and I changed his blinkers ... he raced at Swan Hill three weeks ago and he was showing a lot there, but they locked wheels and he got flattened. He was put out of the race more or less. "But on Sunday, he was just a different horse. I had a damn good day. I was rapt and I wasn't expecting it - not the way it happened." Connelly, a former president of the Birchip club and past winner of the Mallee Bull Pacing Cup, said he became involved in horse racing around the time he moved to his farm about 40 years ago. "Horses take my mind off the farm. We have some tough times on the farm and if I've got a horse to jog around of a morning, you think of something else instead of the farm," he said. A bumper crowd turned out for Sunday's meeting and watched Dunrobbin take home the 2019 Mallee Bull Pacing Cup. Trained by Mark Thompson and driven by Rodney Petroff, the four-year-old gelding beat Top The Ace (Peter Fitzpatrick/James Herbertson) and John Richard (Rod Carberry/Michael Bellman). Clontarf Guy has drawn barrier four for the Patrick Dwyer Memorial Pace (2250m) at Boort on Sunday. Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Legendary WA reinsman Gary Hall Jnr took out the 2019 edition of the Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday afternoon. It was Hall's second time as competitor but the third occasion he had accepted the Horsham club's invitation to make the long, west to east haul.  "Back in 2009 I was having a few issues with being on aeroplanes and was a late-late scratching," he said. "But it turned out a good result for my replacement Lance Justice, who went on to win the title." Hall made it to Horsham for the 2010 series and finished in the middle of the tally board behind Jim Douglass (NSW) with a first, fifth and eighth from his three drives. "I really enjoyed the visit over here and hoped to be back again sooner, but this is the first time I've been able to slot it in since."  The first heat of the day saw Hall gain valuable points when partnering 50/1 chance Cripparno into fourth spot behind Ardens Winstar for the Chris Alford/David Drury combo. Heat two saw Hall lead all the way with the Michael Stanley debutant Off The Bench to gain maximum points after looking likely to be run down by the 70/1 outsider Crowded Reactor (Rob Morris/Bec East), who galloped in the shadows of the post. It was a popular win on social media, with Off The Bench part-owned by Craig Hutchison and AFL footballer and trots ambassador Josh Jenkins. The horse had been much discussed in the lead-up on the Off The Bench radio program, which airs throughout Victoria on Saturday mornings. Hall then drove a trademark heady race aboard Emma Stewart's very smart four-year-old entire Concealment in the third round of the contest to score by five metres over the $1.50 favourite Crime Writer (Chris Alford/Matt Craven). Heading into the fourth and final heat, Hall needed to beat a few others home with the 70/1 roughie Rocking Tess to secure the championship while Alford, Jason Lee and Michael Bellman had some chance of stealing the title if the cards fell their way.  Courtesy of a soft trip on the pegs, Rocking Tess managed to cross the line in sixth place, some 40 metres behind Major Times (Kerryn Manning/Emma Stewart) and Jean Luc (Chris Alford/Lance Justice) who fought out a very close finish. When accepting the Noel Smith Memorial shield from club president Justin Lane, Hall admitted that the luck had certainly fallen his way, but that it was still a great thrill to come out on top. Hall went on to thank series sponsor Merv Butterworth together with the many other sponsors who made the day so enjoyable, not just for the 10 invitees but all the trainers, drivers and owners  who have supported the meeting. He also thanked the Horsham club for staging what is "such a fun event for us."  While Hall took home the Noel Smith Memorial Shield, a host of trainers, drivers and owners also went home as winners with product and voucher giveaways courtesy of Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Finn Tack, Mustad Australia, Oringi Protection Wear, Tabcorp Park Melton, Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association, Claire Weston Photography, Roma Pocock, Grafx Inc, Norton Estate Wines, Virbac Animal Health, Harness Breeders Victoria and Riverspa Apartments Moama.   Tony Logan

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) advises Brett Day has been appointed Chairman of Stewards (COS) effective 12 of March, 2019 after former COS Nick Murray advised he would step down from the role and will commence in the position of Senior Steward. Mr Day has been acting in the role of COS since Mr Murray took an extended period of leave due to the illness of an immediate family member in June 2018. HRV GM – Integrity Brent Fisher welcomed Mr Day’s appointment and said his “thorough knowledge, leadership and experience on the stewards’ panel meant he was a great fit”. Mr Murray returned to HRV today. “It is great to have Nick back at HRV as he is a great mentor and leader and he is such a quality person and he is well respected by his peers,” Mr Fisher said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to both congratulate Brett on his appointment and welcome Nick back.”    Cody Winnell HRV Media

The Victorian Mallee township of Birchip again came alive with the annual Sharp’s Bakery Mallee Bull Harness Racing Cup on Sunday afternoon - the one and only meeting conducted by the club for the season. And according to official gate-taking figures, the small township’s population doubled for the day with nearly 1200 people in attendance. “It was an absolutely magnificent day, both on and off the track,” club President Max Dillon said. “We race on an 805-metre track, but the crowd is so close to the action, so the atmosphere for the whole eight event meeting was unreal,” Dillon said. It was a day of highlights, with the track record was equalled and on-course tote holdings up by several thousand dollars. According to Dillon, much of the credit for the cup meeting’s success goes to the enthusiastic 24-member committee, more than half of whom are aged under 35 years.  They’re also backed up by a committed band of voluntary helpers, sponsors and supporters. “The whole town actually gets behind the meeting and it’s probably our biggest social event of the calendar,” he said. “We had six marquees with one involving 100 family and friends celebrating the 50th birthday of Darren Cozens, while another was a school reunion group. “The children had plenty to choose from with a giant slide, jumping castle, animal farm, pony rides and face painting.” Sponsors tipped in more than $18,000 and that certainly created a pathway for a wonderful meeting which saw the 32nd running of the Cup. (L-R) Birchip Harness Racing Club secretary Brad Sharp and president Max Dillon present the Mallee Bull trophy to Leon Mulquinney, who accepted on behalf of connections.  This was the third consecutive year the Mallee Bull Cup had been staged at the Birchip paceway after being hosted at neighboring tracks such as Charlton and Swan Hill for the previous decade. Lancefield-based reinsman Rodney Petroff won the cup for the second time since racing resumed at Birchip, with a masterful driving exhibition on Dunrobbin (We Will See USA-Rayanne’s Phoenix (Live Or Die USA). The gelding, prepared by Mark Thompson, was sent out a $6.40 chance. Petroff previously won the feature event in 2017 with Regal Ambition, trained at Bendigo by former Birchip resident, Gary Donaldson. After some quick early splits in Sunday’s Cup, Petroff found himself third-last, but didn’t flinch a muscle until coming to get the bell. He worked out three wide but was quick to slot into the one-one for a breather down the back straight. With 400 metres to go, Petroff released the handbrake and Dunrobbin swept to the front to record a nice win over Top The Ace and John Richard. The mile rate of 2.00-6 was a whisker outside the track record. Driving honors for the day went to Ballarat junior concession driver James Herbertson with a winning treble. Herbertson is enjoying a purple patch at present and horses certainly appear to run for him. Racegoers were asked to contribute a gold-coin donation to the Team Teal fundraiser – the result was a $1600 donation to the Team Teal coffers Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A mighty battle between two very fine fillies may be a lovely taster of things to come this season as Emerald Stride added a second Group 1 win with a last-stride victory. Fremarkspoetry would have lost few admirers in the IRT Need For Speed Princess Final when she overcome missing the start by 15m-plus before circling the field and boxing on bravely for trainer Courtney Slater and reinsman Glen Craven, ultimately beaten only a half-head. Emerald Stride’s trainer-driver David Miles was willing to cede the lead to Fremarkspoetry when she arrived and then made his play in the final stages, drawing on his pacing-bred trotter’s great finish to capture the bulk of the $50,000 purse. “The second filly was enormous. I actually did get a little glimpse of how far back she was and I thought we might have been holding the front there for a while,” Miles told TrotsVision post-race. “This filly’s quite quick.” With a Redwood win and Breeders Crown placing in the bank, Emerald Stride’s carving out quite a career for herself after a few plan changes in her early days. “She came to me as a pacer, obviously, a Bettors Delight (and) the mare’s a half-sister to Well Said, which (owner) Emilio Rosati paid extravagant amount of money for the mother,” Miles said. “The day I rang him and said he had a trotter he wasn’t real happy, but I’m pretty sure he’s happy now.” And it’s hoped those good times will continue with Emerald Stride likely to see a lot of racing for the remainder of her three-year-old season. “We’ll make hay while the sun shines. Next year they all get bigger and stronger and we are not sure if we are going too and they might get better, so while she’s in the top echelon we may as well go in all those races if we can,” Miles said. “At this stage she will go to Bathurst for the Coronet, then I think she’s got the New South Wales sires, because she’s not Vicbred, and then, of course, the Oaks. So she’s got a little bit of a torrid season, but we’ll just play all of those as they come.”   Michael Howard for Trots Media

It will be on for young and old in Sunday’s North East Fasteners Wangaratta Pacing Cup, when a full, even field will battle for line honours in the club’s annual racing pinnacle. A picture-perfect 27-degree is forecast to greet race goers who turn out for Sunday’s twilight cup, with the headliner at 8.17pm on the seven-race twilight card. Looming large over the cup is Bacchus Marsh-trained four-year-old Joe Nien, who has drawn to burst from gate one and lead for trainer Jess Tubbs and reinsman Greg Sugars, the team hoping to build on their gelding’s break-out season that has delivered five wins and two placings from nine starts. A victory on the Trots Country Cups Championship circuit would be a significant notch on the Echuca-bred gelding’s belt, but there will be no shortage of challengers bidding to wrestle the crown from her clutches. Chief among them may well be an old grey mare with 251 more starts in the book in Hollys Miss Molly, who will step out for start 297 and looms as a likely contender for the crown. The fast-finishing mare, a winner of 35 starts and $251,256 in stakes, was fourth and beaten only 3.6m when rated a $26-chance in last year’s track record breaking Wangaratta cup, and has drawn to take advantage of her withering final sprint on Sunday. The nine-year-old mare will emerge from the inside of the second row and can follow Joe Nien through, getting a cushy ride on the pegs over the 2210m cup distance before having a big crack at the win in the final straight. It promises to be a showdown worthy of its headline status for Sunday’s showcase, when club secretary Bernadette Costantino said they were looking forward to building on the success of their January trotting cup.  “(The trotting cup) was excellent, God blessed us with the weather – it was about 28 degrees, fantastic after our two weeks of 40 degrees-plus,” Ms Costantino said. “We had over 1000 people in attendance and everything went off perfectly. The locals are really supportive of us and, definitely, having (the pacing cup on this) long weekend is a huge bonus for us.” There will plenty to lure both race goers and locals to the track, with off-track attractions including the pony trots, a mechanical bucking bull, jumping castle, face painting and DJ Steve Bowen. “We are a very basic club, we are like the old-fashioned country football (clubs), where you have chairs up at the fence and take away food. Everyone’s very relaxed – it’s just a great, family fun-filled evening.” Gates open from 5pm at Avian Park Raceway.   Trots Media

APG Australian Premier Trotting Sale graduate Alpha Male is poised to provide trainer Emma Stewart with her second Group One for squaregaiters. Chasing just her fourth win with a trotter, Stewart is odds-on to capture the Need For Speed Prince Final. Successful with Manwarra Dollamaka more than a decade ago, Stewart’s second win came with Alpha Male in the Group One Home Grown Classic last December. “I won a race at Geelong with Manwarra Dollamaka in 2005, which was the only winner I’d had with a trotter before Alpha Male,” Stewart said. “That said, trotters haven’t been a big part of the stable.” Sent for a spell following this top shelf victory, Alpha Male returned to secure a Need For Speed Prince heat in Maryborough last week. Despite drawing the back row in Saturday night’s $60,000 Final at Tabcorp Park Melton, the three-year-old son of Majestic Son is rated as a $1.40 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds. “He did very well in his heat and will benefit from the run,” Stewart said. “His work has improved and he’s in pretty good shape “The draw makes it tough, but he is going well enough to overcome it.” Although Montpellier is regarded as the biggest threat as the $5.50 second elect from barrier four, Stewart considers Archleo has a major danger. Runner-up to Alpha Male in the qualifier, Archleo is listed at $13 from gate three. “I liked Archleo’s run in the heat and think he will be right in the finish on that effort,” Stewart said. Alpha Male was purchased from 2017 the APG Premier Trotting Sale, with this year’s edition being conducted on Sunday. “We purchased Alpha Male at the Trotting Sale as he looked like a nice type and has certainly turned out that way so far,” Stewart said. “Everything he has done suggests he can develop into a pretty handy trotter.” APG Media

The Angelique Club has welcomed the news Victoria Shaw will call three harness racing meetings for Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) this month. Ms Shaw has had stints calling all racing codes during a long association with the industry, but tomorrow will be the first time she’s called a full Victorian harness meeting. “We’d like to take this opportunity on the week of International Women’s Day (Friday March 8) to publicly support and congratulate Victoria,” Angelique Club President Judy Rothacker. Ms Shaw will also call trots meetings at Warragul on Monday March 18 and Cranbourne on Tuesday March 26. “I think it’s brilliant. I welcome the opportunity for Victoria to demonstrate her skills, which she’s long held in the race calling space,” HRV Board Member, Pearl Kelly Award and Gordon Rothacker Medal recipient Elizabeth Clarke said. “I have been involved in this industry for 50 years and I’m proud to say that not once in that time in harness racing have I ever felt treated any differently because I am a woman. “Victoria is very passionate about her racing and I look forward to her being afforded future opportunities in the broadcasting space.” See below for the Angelique Club’s statement:   Angelique Club welcomes Victoria Shaw to Victorian trots race calling ranks The Angelique Club, an organisation which has honoured and promoted the role of women in harness racing for the past 25 years, welcomes the addition of Victoria Shaw to our state’s harness race calling ranks. Victoria has an extensive background in race calling and racing journalism, and we’re thrilled to see a female represented in the race calling space, an area which, for whatever reason, hasn’t had strong female representation in the past. Our club understands Victoria will call three race meetings for Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) this month, starting with Yarra Valley tomorrow, and we’d like to take this opportunity on the week of International Women’s Day (Friday, March 8) to publicly support and congratulate Victoria. Victoria joins a proud list of prominent women in our sport to have held key industry positions and our club is thrilled that women have been so well represented in all facets of harness racing, including on the track, in the board room, club leadership positions, stewarding panels and many other areas.   Trots Media

Hamilton harness racing officials are hoping the 1660-metre sprint trip mile rate record is obliterated on Sunday as the club hosts the inaugural $14,000 Glenn Miles Memorial Mile. Under sunny skies with a warm lead-in to the action looking guaranteed, the club is confident the track will be cherry ripe for a Miles Memorial Mile runner to smash My Harmony Blue’s 1:52.0 flat record mile rate. “One day, who knows, they might break 1:50.0 here,” club manager Chrissy Hawker said. “What I’m certain of is they’ll all be trying for that, that’s for sure. We’re predicting fans will be treated to a fast and furious race, faster than Hamilton has ever seen.” The club’s newest feature race is expected to draw some of the fastest up-and-coming metro performers to the south-west 1000-metre track to contest a race that pays homage to a passionate local trots man in the late Glenn Miles, who sadly passed away last August. “We’ve been keen to explore a new sprint feature for a while now and I must thank Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) for being so open-minded to the idea and helping us with the programming,” Hamilton HRC Manager Chrissy Hawker said. “We’ve got the fastest track in Victoria and Mick Turner and his team do a fantastic job of turning out a tiptop racing surface every time we race. They’ll have it in great order this Sunday. “Milesy, who we’ve named the race after, was a great bloke. He was very community minded, heavily involved in local sport and he just loved his harness racing.” The inaugural Glenn Miles Memorial Mile is a C5 or better race restricted to horses with a metropolitan assessment no faster than M2. It will be the feature event on the Hamilton card this Sunday and the club is hoping the meeting develops into an annual celebration. “We’re not afraid to try new things and hopefully the community turns out in droves to witness potentially the most exciting race the club’s ever seen,” Hawker said. “What a great opportunity this is for trainers to chase a brilliant lifetime mark next to their horse’s name and the $14k prizemoney on offer. It’ll be great to watch. “We’ve got a hot week ahead but Sunday’s looking perfect at 33 degrees. We’ll have the bar stocked, plenty of activities and food options for families. It’s just a wonderful day out and you won’t be disappointed.”   Cody Winnell for Trots Media

Have you heard the one about the horse at the bar?   The drinkers at the Torrumbarry Hotel, near Echuca, couldn’t believe their eyes last Sunday afternoon when a harness racing horse strolled up to the bar.   “They weren’t too sure whether it was a dare or a bet – they were totally blown away!” said Mark Lee, a trainer-driver based at Tallygaroopna.   “After they all settled down and realized what was going on, there were mobile phones taking photographs everywhere.”   Mark and his wife Stacey took out the Torrumbarry Hotel Motel Trot at the Gunbower meeting with seven-year-old gelding Col Du Galibier (  USA-Styx (R C’s Dee Jay) so they thought it was only fitting to call into the hotel on the trip home.   “The idea of actually taking the horse into the bar was probably hatched at the trots meeting when we were having a few drinks and a chat with a group of people,” Mark said.   “I’m not sure who suggested it, but we all got on board because race sponsors like the Torrumbarry Hotel people are so important these days,” he said.   “There was probably about 20 people in the bar when we walked in with ‘Cadel’ as he’s known at home around the stables.   “He didn’t get bothered one bit – not that we thought he would, because we wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”   Col Du Galibier raced by Jeff, Annette and Andrew Towers, along with Kerrie Lee, was the first leg of a training double for Mark Lee. And it was the first of two winners for owner Kerrie, who is Mark’s mum.   Mark Lee    - Photo Barry Bennett and Cobram Harness Racing Club.   To add to the celebrations, Stacey’s parents and brother are also part-owners in Col Du Galibier, so it was a day to remember.   “The horse has been going nicely and it was fitting that Stacey got the win. She does most of the work with him and he’s actually her stable favorite,” Mark said.   Stacey Towers    - Photo Barry Bennett and Cobram Harness Racing Club.   “I thought when Stacey got cover and landed in the one-one they would be hard to beat.”   Just on half an hour later in the following race, the Egmont Park Stud Pace, Mark was not only in the winner’s circle as trainer again, but this time as driver as well.   A forward move to race in the death- seat proved to be a winning one as Rebellin Ruby (Art Official- Hope To Fly (Jet Laag) dug deep to score well as rank outsider at nearly 60/1.   “I really couldn’t believe she was at those odds as her form wasn’t that bad,” Mark said.   “But the races do have to be run to suit her, I guess. If she can be up the front somewhere, she keeps grinding away and that was why I didn’t hesitate to get to the chair when they slowed up.   “After the first quarter of 33 secs, the race tempo stepped up with even splits of a bit over 29 secs from then on, so I was reasonably happy.”   Mark said he’d previously trained a couple of other winning doubles, but that was his first at Gunbower.   “We hardly ever miss a meeting at that venue – it’s a good club and not all that far for us to travel.   ”Rebellin Ruby is owned by Kerrie along with keen stable supporter Dennis Rebbeck, of Euroa, who enjoys having shares in horses from the stable.   Both Mark and Stacey have been training for 15 years and were originally from Sydney but decided to make the Shepparton area their home.   They have a huge 92-acre property that boasts a 1000 metre track.   “We are doing a team of 12 at present, with seven of those being babies. Apart from the two winners, a few others including Nica MacDonon are being jogged up,” he said.   “Nica missed getting in foal so it’s back to the races for her, but that’s ok.”    Nica MacDonon, a last start Shepparton winner in early December of last year, when driven by Stacey, has been a handy racehorse for breeder-owner Peter Hornsby.   The mare, by Eileen Donon USA, out of Styx (winner of 5 from 17, and a prolific broodmare) has won 13 races with 29 placings for over $122,000 in stakes.   The Gunbower meeting was also successful for Danny Curran, who prepares a small team at Marong.   Curran trained a winning double with Sunrose Master (Vintage Master-Sunrose Mary (Village Jasper), handled by James Herbertson; and Mia From Memphis (Rocknroll Hanover-Armbroosky (Armbro Operative), driven by Ryan Duffy.     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Bendigo-based harness racing farrier John McDermott can still remember the day he borrowed shoeing gear belonging to his father in what would be the pathway to a busy career. “It’s rather funny to look back on it now – I was only about 10 years old and decided I would put shoes on my old pony,” John said. “Dad (Henry) was leaving for a trots meeting and saw what I was up to and said he’d see me when he got home.   I think he had a fair idea that I would be at it for some time,” he said. “He wasn’t wrong – it took me half a day just to put the front shoes on!” Needless-to-say John is far more accomplished and a lot quicker these days.  His expertise sees him travel thousands of kilometres each month to clients near his hometown of Bendigo as well as a vast “shoeing run” that takes him as far afield as Echuca, Shepparton, Sea Lake, Ouyen, Robinvale and Mildura. “I was asked by a few trainers up in north-west Victoria if I would travel that far because one guy quit and another was forced to give it away,” John said. “So, the number of clients just grew by word of mouth and now I have a regular gig.” John said he loved watching horses that he shod perform well. “I get a real kick out of it.  I’m rapt if I can help out because there’s certainly a shortage of people in my profession,” John said. “Dad had a very good reputation as a farrier so that’s why I’ve always wanted to do it,” he said. “Probably my biggest highlight is that I can say I re-shod Sydney superstar Tiger Tara before he triumphed in the recent Inter-Dominion final in Melbourne. And I did it under a fair bit of pressure, I can tell you!” John still has a trainer-driver licence but admits that it wouldn’t be possible to keep his small team going without the invaluable help of his mum Shirley. “I do as much as I can, but mum is an amazing back-up. She’s always there to do the jog work and feeds the horses in the mornings and at night,” he said. The mother-son combination had reward for their efforts with a Shepparton win last week in the C1 only race, with five-year-old gelding Whata Challenge (Falcon Seelster-Scarlett Finn NZ (In The Pocket). To watch the video replay click on this link. Astute reinswoman Lisa Miles zipped the pacer to the front from the wide six alley and cruised to a 13m win over Pushinupdaisies. Blazing Orion was a further 10metres back. “He ran a nice second at his first run back but was off his game a little at his next few,” John said. “It was awesome for Lisa to get the win as back in the day Dad was one of the main drivers for her grandfather, the great Alf Simons. “Alf was also fantastic to me because as a young fellow he gave me many race driving opportunities.  I’ve never forgotten that, so it was nice to repay the favour for Lisa.” The McDermott family, comprising parents Henry and Shirley, and siblings Graham, John and Kerry moved from Parkes, NSW, to Bendigo in the late 1970s to concentrate on full-time horse training. “Dad had been farming and doing the horses as well, so it was a big decision,” John said. However, it didn’t take Henry McDermott long to show his outstanding knowledge and talent with horses and over the next decade there was a steady stream of success. Classy winners that come to mind include Waikare Gold, Quambys Pride, Gosh, Springfield Rajah, Bondi Pride and Thor On.  While Quambys Pride was huge in defeating Gammalite in the 1980 Queensland Derby, Gosh was a superstar in the same era winning 36 races and over $320,000. But a horrific fall at Moonee Valley in the late 1980s changed Henry’s life forever. Henry suffered a cracked skull and broke nearly every bone on the left-hand side of his body. He was in a coma for a week and doctors doubted he would drive again. Unbelievably he did return to the racetrack and at Shepparton on August 1, 1990, saluted with Waikare Royal at his first drive back. He died in early 2007 after battling a long illness. Henry was known far and wide for his work ethic, selfless attitude, love for horses and a cold beer. And perhaps fittingly, his last win at Bendigo was on the appropriately named trotter Frosty Vee Bee! Hoofnote: Local reinswoman Ellen Tormey took out the Henry McDermott Memorial 3yo pace at Bendigo last Sunday when successful with Prosecco Boy (Betterthancheddar-Rosalee Hanover (Walton Hanover) trained by Mark Watson. The pacer was impressive in winning in 1.58 for the 1650m trip. To watch the video replay click on this link. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Two more names were added to the growing list of Auckland Reactor-sired rising stars at the Swan Hill harness racing meeting this week. Thermal Reactor (Auckland Reactor - Ballygeana - Presidential Ball) trained by Zac Steenhuis and driven by Ryan Duffy gave a dominant front-running display to score by 18 metres in the Steven and Kyra Valentines pace.  To watch the replay click here. The win was followed up by another impressive performance in Quamby Reactor (Auckland Reactor - Lady Lunchalot - Armbro Operative) trained and driven by Chris Svanosio. To watch this video replay click here Both are four year olds and both amply demonstrated the depth in maturity that’s emerging in the Auckland Reactor progeny. “Quamby Reactor took a little while to put it all together as a young horse, but he has improved massively with each preparation,” an elated Svanosio said. “He’s a very big fellow and I think that was part of the problem in his first prep - he was gangly and took a while to get it all together. But once he worked things out he won his three year old and his Vicbred bonus and we gave him another break,” he said. “This time as a four year old he’s come back really strong and he won well at Swan Hill. I think he’ll have a few more wins in him yet.” Quamby Reactor posted a 1:55.8 mile rate thrilling the big crowd of owners and supporters at the Swan Hill meeting. The ownership group is made up largely of farmers from the nearby Kerang-Quambatook area, and who raced Quamby Reactor’s mother Lady Lunchalot.  “They’ve been a fantastic group to work with. When the horse was taking longer than I’d thought I asked them if they would like to try another trainer, but they were happy to wait for him to click,” Svanosio said. “They never miss his races and even his trials so it’s great to see him rewarding their loyalty.” The Svanosio stable itself is also “putting it all together” of late,  also notching up three second placings at Swan Hill and Chris getting another second as a driver. Based at Junortoun, Bendigo, Svanosio has a “essentially a full team” of 20 horses in work with the help of Michelle Phillips, Tara Youngson and Taylor French. The stable has had four winners and a swag of placings over the past two weeks. “Im lucky to have a fantastic team of staff and they do a great job.  The last few weeks things have been going nicely, which is great - it gives everyone a kick along,” he said. “We just need to keep things going and build from there.”  Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Popular Pearcedale trainer Bill Walker passed away at the weekend after battling serious health issues over the past few years. A talented horseman, Bill produced a string of top performers over many years including Lombo Sykrider, Stoned At Midnight, Charley’s Dream and Stoned I Am and is credited with putting the early polish on Hectorjayjay. He was also an active member of the local harness racing community and, fittingly, a funeral service celebrating Bill’s life will be held this Thursday February 14 commencing at 1.30pm on the first floor of the Cranbourne Racing Centre. Cranbourne Vice-President David Scott said "Bill was the consummate professional". "He was a quietly spoken man and was never one to get carried away even when his team got on a roll," Mr Scott said. “He always seemed to have a nice horse in his team and did so without ever having a barn full of expensive blue-blood types. I think that speaks volumes about his horsemanship. “Bill was also a wonderful supporter of our club and could always be relied on to throw in a late nom if we were struggling for fields or help out with a horse or two for a dual-seater sulky race when the need arose. “I’m sure that those who remember Bill fondly will join us at the track on Thursday to farewell one of harness racing’s gentlemen." The Cranbourne Harness Racing Club and Harness Racing Victoria extend their condolences to Bill’s wife Nell, his daughters Simone and Trudy, and all family and friends.   Trots Media  

Two of the season’s greater trots tales added further chapters to their unlikely stories with feature victories at Echuca on Friday night. Gavin Lang’s average pacer turned top-line trotter Pantzup continues to take everything in her path, with the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket a seventh straight and ninth career victory after the mare showed her might against open class types. And Kima Frenning’s rapid rise in Victoria’s ranks continued unabated with her debut training project, Buster Brady, launched to the top of the Trots Country Cups Championship with victory in the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup. “It’s crazy,” Frenning said post-race after her former Kiwi produced a fifth win and third country cup in his ninth Australian start. “To train a horse like him, to come here and win a race like this, it’s very exciting and I can’t thank everyone around me enough. “He was really good tonight. He’s a really nice horse and he does it pretty easy when he wants too.” Off the second row Frenning advanced three-wide for much of the first lap before taking the front, from where Buster Brady was too strong in the straight, saluting by seven metres from Shadow Reign and Gottashopearly. The victory would have brought more delight for Luke Stokie and his fellow owners, with Buster Brady now a point clear of San Carlo in the Trots Country Cups Championship, which carries a $25,000 cash prize. Only an hour earlier Pantzup entered the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship race when he scooped up the Crystal Bucket, a winning streak that has surprised even the most experienced and successful of trainer-drivers. “She’s amazing really,” Lang said “It’s well documented that we bought her cheaply as a pacer to win a couple of races and then probably flick her on, but she showed she had a propensity to trot from day one that she entered the stable. “I’d like to be able to say I did this and did that, but I haven’t done nothing – I’ve just trained her and fed her and she’s done the rest. “I’ve been in the game for a long long time, my Dad’s had plenty of trotters, I’ve had a couple of nice ones in the past, but every time I drive home from the races with this one I just shake my head because I can’t believe what she does. It’s a great story.” Drawn off 10m in the standing start, Pantzup advanced to the breeze with a lap and a half to go and found the front when leader Als Law dropped out about 500m from home. A 29-second final quarter was enough to keep all challengers at bay and salute by 5.4 from Fratellino, who picked up valuable points to leapfrog King Denny and take the lead in the $10,000 Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship.   Michael Howard for Trots Media

A fairy-tale season could etch another chapter in tonight’s J A Connelly Crystal Bucket at Echuca, where pacing mare Pantzup will hunt a seventh consecutive victory. By Always A Virgin, sire of the world’s fastest pacer Always B Miki, and out of pacing mare Evasive Moves, an APG Final placegetter, Pantzup has defied her heritage this season for trainer-driver Gavin Lang. She is one of the many stories that will play out at Echuca tonight, where Buster Brady is favoured to win the Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup and shoot to the top of the Trots Country Cups Championship, a remarkable feat for first-horse trainer Kima Frenning. The night’s $35,000 feature at 9.20pm comes an hour after the J A Connelly Crystal Bucket, Echuca’s trotters’ cup, which presents Pantzup’s greatest test to her now six-race winning streak. “King Denny, Kheiron, both went round through the recent Inter Dominion trotting section, so they are good quality horses,” Lang said. “Another runner off 10m (Endsin A Party) was the winner of the Geelong Cup this preparation as well. “Not an easy race by any means, combined with the fact that it’s a stand, on the Echuca track, it will be an interesting race, but she is going very well and you can’t beat winning form.” Her six wins in a row are the tail-end of eight wins from 11 starts since joining Lang’s Bacchus Marsh stable. “We purchased her as a late three-year-old as a 14-start maiden who was a pacer,” Lang said. “We thought we might be able to win a few races as a pacer and then move her on, but from the time she entered our stables she did nothing but show she may have been a trotter. Eleven starts later and eight wins later, it’s staggering really. “She started this campaign as a T1 assessed horse, in other words she’d basically won one race as a trotter, and now leading into the Echuca trotters’ cup she’s now assessed T7.” With each victory comes greater tests, but as she showed with her metropolitan win on Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup night last Saturday Pantzup keeps rising to every challenge. “Each time you win it progressively gets harder,” Lang said. “Every time she goes to the track now she just keeps stepping up. It gets harder each win and this race is no exception, but you can’t do any more than win. “I wish I could put my hand up and say what a job we have done but not really at all, we just took her on board and trained her and, as I said, she showed a propensity just to trot from day one – no special shoeing, no special gear, no anything. She’s bred to be a good pacer, she’s turned out a great trotter.” Michael Howard for Trots Media

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