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As trainer of over 40 years, John Meade doesn't easily get carried away about the prospects of his harness racing charges - but he can be excused for having a wry smile on his face at the moment. Meade, based at Cudgee which is halfway between Terang and Hamilton in Victoria's Western District, is certainly seeing deserved reward for effort come his way with his team of square gaiters. "I'm having some fun-and getting a bit of my hard earnt back," Meade laughed. "I think a few of them are blessed with good ability. And along with that, they just don't like losing," he said. But Meade has been around long enough to know when his enthusiasm is warranted, and that moment came recently at Terang when he produced a five-year-old trotter on debut. Bay gelding I Stand Alone (Danny Bouchea-Diamond Insitu (Cr Commando USA) is the younger half-brother to Meade's Great Southern Star champion Sparkling Success, and understandably, the debutant created plenty of buzz in the lead-up. "He's a lovely big type of horse and so easy to train. But it has been a long haul with him because he's had some serious issues," Meade said. "There's been many people go over him and I've spent a lot of money with bone scans trying to track down the problem and one vet suggested I turn him out for four months," he said. "I found a muscle man who had a bit of a go and did seem to do some good. He's still not quite right and goes rough now and again, but the muscle issues seem to have been the problem." Sent out as a cautious 5/1 chance in the Cobden AB Trot, I Stand Alone wasn't bustled out of the gate and after taking time to balance up, Meade had no hesitation in driving him to outside the leader Down Under Earl (Jackie Barker). I Stand Alone's more-fancied stablemate Wisp Of Smoke (Jason Lee) worked around at the bell, and when the leader kicked on the home corner, there didn't appear to be any threats-that was until Meade revved up I Stand Alone, who put in big strides to grab an eye-catching victory on the line. "I saw that Wisp Of Smoke wasn't going all that good, so pulled out and gave my bloke a few taps to put pressure on the leader. With a trotter you just don't go 'whack' because it's the easiest way to bust them up," Meade said. "I think there may be a card game where you win by going backwards. But there's only one way to win out on the track in my opinion, and that's by going forward. I believe when you are up there, if you sit quietly the others have to go around. They have to use petrol to do that." I Stand Alone won officially by a head over Down Under Earl, with a similar margin back to Namoscar (Ashley Ainsworth). Watch the replay here. Meade said I Stand Alone was the third foal he'd bred from Diamond Insitu and he was now the third winner-the other two being Sparkling Success ($423,000) and Diamond Wes ($22,700). "It's pretty exciting that they have now all won races. And we have four more from the mare. There's a three-year-old filly and a two-year-old colt, both of which go along nicely. We also have a yearling colt and a foal on her, and she's in foal again," he said. "Not many trotters win first-up. I've perhaps had only one other over the years so, yes, that was a special victory by I Stand Alone." Meade said he was thrilled to receive many congratulatory messages and especially a call from Father Brian Glasheen, known as the Pacing Priest, due to his love of the sport. "He told me he didn't think I was going to get away with them at the start with the horse going a little rough. But he said I'd kept him in his gear and got the win. He was delighted." Meade said his star trotter Sparkling Success (winner of 17 races from 39 starts) would be nominated for a race at Terang in seven days. Sparkling Success has impressed in his two race starts since a 17-month lay-off and is bound to further improve with racing. The gelding, bred by Meade and his wife Mary, was ready to show USA fans his style in October 2018, with a run in the $US 1M Yonkers International Trot in New York being pencilled in. However, on the eve of flying out, the champion suffered a near front suspensory ligament injury and didn't make it. "His legs are fine now, and he seems to be working well. If the standing start Terang race goes on he will be 40 metres behind. He mightn't be 'Mickey mouse', but he won't be far off," Meade said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Easy-going Bendigo harness racing trainer Shaun McNaulty still pinches himself when he recalls the day he received a telephone call "out of the blue". McNaulty said he didn't recognize the number at all, but when the caller started chatting about a horse named Hashtag he immediately took notice. "I used to watch Hashtag probably from when he first of all started racing for (Shepparton trainer) Laura Crossland," McNaulty said. "He'd do a few things wrong, but there was always plenty of bottom to him," he said. Crossland won 10 races with the pacer before he was transferred to the Sydney stables of Craig Cross, who won three. Hashtag then headed to Queensland for a stint with Grant Dixon which produced one victory. Then connections-the Charantoss Racing Syndicate-decided it was time for Hashtag to return to Victoria. "That was my lucky day when I took the call from Charles Merola, who was ringing on behalf of the syndicate made up of 10 mates. The horse is undoubtedly the best I've ever had," McNaulty said. And Hashtag (Shadyshark Hanover-Elvira Bromac (Badlands Hanover) showed just why he's so highly-rated by McNaulty with a brilliant performance at Bendigo on Wednesday night. The brown gelding stopped the clock in winning the $12,000 Garrards Horse and Hound Pace in a time of 1.51-9, equalling the track record set back in February by the Maree Campbell-trained gelding Belittled. "We really had the best run in the race, sitting on the fence behind the two leaders, and they kept the pace on. The track is on fire at the moment, but the front ones didn't back off," McNaulty said. Streitkid (Shannon O'Sullivan) led with Form Analyst (Tayla French) up on the outside. Both horses were stirred up and pulling hard with the first quarter a blistering 26.2secs, followed with splits of 28.0, 28.2 and 29.4. Recent comeback driver Rod Lakey shot Hashtag up the sprint lane to record an easy win over Courageous Saint and Animated, the latter certainly being one to follow after charging home from the clouds. Driver Rod Lakey with Hashtag McNaulty said his pacer had a perfect attitude, with an unbelievable desire to win. "He just tries his heart out every time and loves getting out there. He's an absolute ripper. I'd compare him to one of those blokes that you always want to go to the pub with!" McNaulty laughed. Hashtag joined the Marong stable of McNaulty last August and has since won four races-the others being at Melton (twice) and Mildura. "I had planned on taking him up the highway to Mildura again for the Pacing Cup Carnival. But that got scrubbed with the coronavirus pandemic," he said. "With the regionalisation racing restrictions we haven't any option but to keep racing him at Bendigo, but that's okay because there are going to be some interesting battles ahead with Animated because he's certainly one of the best in the area at the moment." Gifted reinsman Rod Lakey, who recently returned to race driving after an absence of more than a decade, went home with a double. Apart from Hashtag, he was also successful with the Lynne Mercieca prepared pacer Art Finest (Art Official-Finest (D M Dillinger).   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former Canadian 2YO Colt of the Year Warrawee Needy, now based at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Wagga (NSW), was credited with his fifth harness racing winner from his first Australian crop when the two-year-old Menames Needy emerged successful at Wagga on Easter Day. Having only his fourth start, the gelding was second last on the home turn and disappointed for racing room but gained a needle eye opening and finished full of running to claim the thick end of the prize. Tintin In America, a studmate of Warrawee Needy at Yirribee, left a couple of very smart three-year-old winners on either side of the continent last weekend. Wotdidusaaay took full advantage of a perfect trip to outsprint his rivals at Melton in 1:58 over 2240 metres. It was his sixth win and sent his stake tally over the $30,000 mark. He looks a really good youngster. While Middlepage, a three-year-old colt, finished strongly after enjoying a box seat trail to post his first win at Gloucester Park. He rated 1:59.6 over 2130 metres. To complete a successful week Timely Sovereign, a son of Lombo Pocket Watch, notched win No. 9 and increased his earnings to almost $80,000 at Penrith.   By Peter Wharton

There are few harness racing people more passionate about their sport than Sunraysia trainer Noel "Lucky" Cameron and his wife Midge. In more than 50 years in the sport, only once has the couple from Gol Gol, near Mildura, missed being on track to race their horses. So, you can imagine the tension was high when COVID-19 restrictions meant they had to watch their nine-year-old mare, Bella Cullen (P Forty Seven-Victoria Bound (Christian Cullen) make history at Mildura recently. To watch the video replay click here The durable veteran pacer cracked the $100,000 mark in stakes - but what made the milestone unique is that she's the only pacer ever to have achieved it without venturing outside Victoria's Northern Region. In her 167 starts, Bella Cullen has raced only at Mildura, Ouyen and Swan Hill, winning 13 races and stacking up more than 50 placings. "It wasn't that she was a bad traveller or anything. We just never got around to taking her to race anywhere else," Cameron said. "We just love the horses and love racing and Bella's been a bit special because she's just been so honest and with us so long," he said. "All our horses we just raced ourselves and the only other time we've missed being on track was one night a few years back when I was taken off to hospital! "So I have to say it was absolutely terrible watching at home! We were so thrilled she won but watching on the TV, once it was over, it was all over red rover - we just sat there like stunned mullets!" When Victoria introduced Regional Racing as part of coronavirus management measures, the Camerons were locked out and no longer able to race, because their stable is on their fruit growing property on the NSW side of Sunraysia (less than four kilometres, as the crow flies, from the Mildura track). But with Bella Cullen only $1100 short of $100,000 career earnings her regular driver Dwayne Locke, and his partner Andrew Stenhouse couldn't stand to see "Bella" potentially retire without a chance to reach the milestone. "She's been racing well, her last four or five starts had been good runs without winning, so we were just so happy that Andrew and Dwayne took her on to give her a chance to get to that milestone," Cameron said. "It's not usually her thing, but she was able to lead from barrier two and Dwayne was able to get away with I think the slowest ever lead time at Mildura for the 1720 trip - so she actually broke two records!" he laughed. Cameron said Bella Cullen arrived at their stable as a foal at foot when Midge purchased her dam, Victoria Bound. "She would get around the paddock okay, but she was just a scruffy little club-footed thing when she was weaned and as a yearling. You would never have dreamed she would be anything at all, but she did grow into quite a nice-looking mare in the end," he said. "She was a bit of a hard case to break in. She'd kick pretty viciously and at the races she'd double-barrel the back of the stables and hated being put in the cart. "But after four or five starts she seemed to settle down, and from then on, she has just been a lovely horse to have and to race." Lucky and Midge have been involved in harness racing together for 52 years. Lucky's dad was a gallops jockey, but when Lucky was a teenager, he became more interested in harness racing, working with former Sunraysia trainer, the late Vic Berryman. "But it was Midge who really pushed me over the line into the sport, I suppose. Her dad had pacers, and before we were even married, without telling me, she leased a horse for us," he said. "I think we gave him three starts and he ran last in every one, but we were hooked and it became the thing we loved to do. So since then, we've always had one or two in work, and these days we breed a few as well." Cameron said Bella Cullen was not the most capable horse the couple had raced - naming Kidlin and Grand Hand as their best ability wise, but who had their racing careers cut short by injury. "But Bella's definitely been the most successful and she's the most docile lovely horse you could ever want, so she's probably our favorite," he said. "We've got her booked into Sweet Lou this season, but Dwayne looks after her in her races, and we'll just keep watching from the couch for a bit longer yet, because she's probably, in all honesty, racing as well as she ever has!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Kate Hargreaves and Alex Ashwood will make the trip from Shelbourne to Bendigo confident their second night of region-based racing will bring further success. Having produced a win and a third from two starts when the Central region kicked off last Friday, the stable is optimistic promising two-year-old Lay The Smackdown and trotter Well Defined can put their best feet forward tonight. Hargreaves told Trots Talk her two-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, who will contest the Southern Cross Office Equipment 2YO Pace at 7.21pm on Trots Vision, was well placed to build on his third place on debut at Echuca, where he galloped when leading but recovered to run third. “I’ve got a pretty big opinion of him,” she said. “He’s got his fair share of ability, he can just get a bit rocky in his gate. “At Echuca he did gallop, he actually hit a wheel and just put himself off stride. We are just putting him a bit further out in the cart now so that doesn’t happen. “The bigger track at Bendigo will definitely help him. I’m excited to have him at the races, he’s an exciting horse. I think he’s a really great chance, if he does everything right he will be very hard to beat.” As will Well Defined, says Hargreaves, when the five-year-old trotter steps out at 8.51pm in the Race Services Trot. He returns to a mobile start for the first time since June 1 last year, having run off a standing start penalty in every race since. “I think he’s got a really great chance,” she said. “The field he’s in against, he has been racing a few better ones than what he’s racing against, and he doesn’t have to give them a start, because he’s been in starts and been off 20 and 30 metres. “I think his form doesn’t really show just how well he’s going. He’s another one I’m confident on if he can have a little bit of luck, he always needs a little bit of luck.” Lay The Smackdown is a $1.45 favourite with TAB.com.au, while Well Defined is $6. A big day of racing awaits on Trots Vision, with the eight-race card at Tabcorp Park Melton kicking off at 1.07pm before the focus moves to Ballarat for the first at 6.20pm. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

The Bendigo Harness Racing Club is delighted to announce that Aldebaran Park, Australia’s home of the straightout trotter, will be the new sponsor of the Bendigo Trotters Cup.   The announcement further strengthens Aldebaran Park’s commitment to promoting square-gaiters races in Victoria, particularly at Bendigo where it has sponsored the Club’s signature race for trotting mares, the Group 1 $50,000 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, since its inception in 2010.   The Group 3 Aldebaran Park Bendigo Trotters Cup will be held on Friday, June 26 over 2650 metres from a standing start with discretionary handicapping.   The race carries basic prizemoney of $25,000 with Aldebaran Park providing a service voucher of $2,000 to the winning owner to be used for a service to one of the Aldebaran Park stallion roster in the 2020/21 season.   The Aldebaran Park stud lineup is spearheaded by former champion Skyvalley NZ, the current leading Australian-bred trotting stallion and sire of the mighty Tornado Valley, and the royally-bred, well-performed Muscle Hill horse Aldebaran Eagle, whose first crop are yearlings.   The Bendigo Trotters Cup was inaugurated in 1972 and has been won by many of the greats of the Australian trotting turf including Scotch Notch, True Roman, Knight Pistol, Lenin, Stormy Morn and Just Money.   Aldebaran Park principal Duncan McPherson OAM said: “Aldebaran Park is delighted to extend its relationship with Bendigo HRC and coupled with our existing sponsorship of the Maori Mile it again strengthens our resolve to ensure that we promote trotting in Australia.   “There is little doubt that as an Industry we are internationalising and globalising the trotting gait in the Southern Hemisphere thus ensuring that we are a significant market of interest for Northern Hemisphere investors.”   Eric Hendrix, the general manager of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, said:   “Already being involved at Bendigo with our Group 1 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, I felt this was a great opportunity to once again help grow the exposure and compliment the hard work Duncan McPherson has already done for trotting.   “The BHRC has a fantastic relationship with Aldebaran Park and we look forward to growing both the Trotters Cup and Maori Mile in the years to come.”     Peter Wharton

The old saying 'make hay while the sun shines' has never been more applicable to Bendigo region harness racing participants than it was on Wednesday. With the sport in Victoria moving to a new region-based operating model from today, yesterday provided the last opportunity for trainers and drivers to notch up wins at venues outside of their own designated area. Plenty rose to the challenge. At Stawell, young reinsman Jayden Brewin scored a driving double aboard Fowsands and Wingate Guy, while the exciting young training combination of Maddie Ray and Haydon Gray picked up their third victory this year with Rigondeaux. A prolific run continued Wednesday night at Shepparton, where Inglewood trainer Grant Innes struck with the in-form trotter Vincent Kai, and Elmore's Matthew Higgins notched up a victory with the five-year-old mare Lilnova. For the foreseeable future, trainers and drivers from the Bendigo region (encompassing the Greater Bendigo, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Loddon and Mount Alexander local government areas) will be restricted to solely competing at Lord's Raceway, starting this Friday night. In the sulky for Rigondeaux's impressive 3.3m win, co-trainer Maddie Ray said she was glad to see 'the locals' make the most of their last chance to race at tracks outside this region. Race 3 won by number 10 Rigondeaux. Driven and trained by Maddi Ray. Mile rate 2:04.9.    To watch the race click here She felt only time would tell whether it would be any harder or easier for trainers such as themselves to find a winner under the revised format. "If you look at the two trot races this Friday night (the Aldebaran Park Trot and Vale Colin Redwood Trot), there were more nominations than horses that could get a run," she said. "We'll just have to see how the racing and the programming goes. "Hopefully there are a few races where we can get another winner, we will just see what happens. "We've got five horses in work, three two-year-olds and two older trotters, which keeps us plenty busy. "We have got a few in the paddock we are trying to think what we do with, but we are happy to keep the numbers down a little bit." Ray could not hide her delight at the progress of Rigondeaux, a four-year-old, whose three wins, from 15 starts, have all been this year, starting at Kilmore on January 2 and quickly followed by another 14 days later at the same venue. The Majestic Sun/Galleons Bliss gelding had not raced for nearly six months before his breakthrough Kilmore win, but has since developed into a remarkably consistent trotter with seemingly plenty of upside. A steady and productive first three months of the year for Rigondeaux has reaped three wins and four placings from eight starts, his only real blemish a seventh at Charlton in mid-March. "Hayden and I couldn't be happier that he's so consistent, he tries his guts out every time he goes around," Ray said. "I guess the main thing is he is getting more confident with each run. "Charlton was only his bad run, but we can't really hold that against him. He galloped at the start and had a few excuses with a false start, it was just one of those days. "He's pretty sensitive if something goes wrong, but he has been unreal this time in. "Hopefully he keeps it going." By Kieran Iles  Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Bendigo harness racing reinsman Jayden Brewin has been left a little battered and shaken following a car crash on Wednesday but has vowed to be in the sulky on Friday night at Lord's Raceway. The 19-year-old avoided major injury when he swerved to miss a kangaroo on the Avoca-Dunolly Road, en-route to Shepparton from Stawell. Brewin had earlier notched up a winning double aboard the Adam Stephens-trained pair Fowsands and Wingate Guy, but had to forego all drives that night at Shepparton. Despite a harrowing experience, the former South Australian, who relocated to Bendigo last October, conceded the accident could have been a lot worse. Damage to the car Jayden Brewin was driving when he crashed on Wednesday.   Damage to the car Jayden Brewin was driving when he crashed on Wednesday. "I have gone to swing around a skippy and as I have done that I half lost control of the car and veered off the road," Brewin said. "I couldn't quite the steering wheel underneath me and have slid off the road and smashed into a few signs that were protecting a creek. "I must have just hit the edge of the creek, which sent the car flying. I veered off the road trying to stop it and I ended up about 10cm away from smashing into a big gum tree. "The worst thing was I took mum's car because mine needed a service. Cody Winnell@codywinnell   Big relief with reinsman @jayden_brewin lucky to escape serious injury after being involved in a bad car crash today after leaving Stawell. He drove two winners there.   Jayden brewin  · Mar 13, 2020   Replying to @GiddiebK Wow I have had 35 drives in nearly a fortnight I’m on a roll "She was a bit distraught looking at it and thinking about how bad it could have been." With a day in between to recover, Brewin declared himself fit and ready for action on Friday night at Bendigo, where he has been booked for seven drives. "I'm alright, I'm just a bit sore in my back, but that's about it," he said. "I worked a couple of horses this morning (Thursday) and everything was alright. "I was thinking how good is this (driving a double) and I thought the day would only get better, but it didn't end up that way." Race 1 won by number 8 Fowsands. Driven by Jayden Brewin for trainer Adam Stephens. Mile rate 1:59.9. Next race 2.28. Race 1 was sponsored by Premix King in Stawell. @TheTrotsComAu   Stawell Harness RC@StawellHarnessR   Race 2 won by number 6 Wingate Guy thats a double for driver Jayden Brewin and trainer Adam Stephens.@TheTrotsComAu Brewin will have little time to reflect on the accident, with him and his father Justin in the midst of moving their 12 horses from Danny Curran's Marong property to their new training base at Lord's Raceway. "Tomorrow (Friday) is our official move-in day, but we're moving most everything in (Thursday), so we don't interfere with the trots tomorrow night," he said. "We're very thankful to Danny for giving us a place to set up shop. "Making the move, we think Bendigo has got everything we need, especially now that we have got quite a few young ones in the stable." He said he was grateful for the support and well-wishes following news of his accident. Brewin, who has 33 wins and 89 placings this season, nominated the Gary Donaldson-trained Liberland (race one) and the Wayne Gretgrix-trained Manassa Sky in the feature race (race five) as perhaps is best chances on Friday night. The meeting will be the first to be run under Harness Racing Victoria's new region-based model, which restricts trainers and drivers from competing outside their own designated region. "Manassa Sky has been going pretty good and is a good chance if we can zip across to the fence," Brewin said. "It depends on what Glenn Douglas does, if he rolls off the arm (on Vandanta) he will lead on his ear. "He was a bit stiff last start, Manassa Sky, if he had got out any earlier he would he have won. He should be around the mark." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of the Bendigo Advertiser  

Victoria's harness racing scene has been split into six regions to attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus — and Shepparton will be one of nine venues used across the state.  

Three Victorian harness racing trainer-drivers who travelled interstate to contest the prestigious Gold Series finals at Bathurst, NSW, have been the first caught up in changed Victorian quarantine arrangements, announced Sunday. The three were racing in the rich finals of the Bathurst Gold Crown juvenile race series but have subsequently been caught up in the ever-changing and necessary requirements for racing under COVID-19 restrictions. Permissions were granted by both NSW and Victorian authorities on Friday for David Miles, David Moran and David Farrar to travel to Bathurst to drive and race their qualifiers for the Group One Gold feature events for two and three-year-olds. It's believed the trio was advised on Saturday afternoon, after they had already got on the road, that a change in the interpretation of the requirements meant they would need to go into isolation after their return to Victoria. They were further told that they would be permitted to complete their NSW engagements, but on their return, they would be stood down for a period of 14 days and would not be permitted to enter any Victorian racetrack for that period. They initially thought their stables would be shut down for the same period, but they've now been advised they will be permitted to continue preparing their teams, but cannot attend any race track for a period of 14 days and must receive a medical certificate before resuming. The David Miles-trained Focus Stride (Art Major-Sparkling Stride (Christian Cullen) was a boilover winner in the $100,000 Colts and Geldings Gold Chalice Final for three-year-olds. Focus Stride, an impressive winner of the $100,000 Gold Chalice David Moran's Lochinvar Chief was beaten a head, finishing second to Tasty Delight (Bettors Delight-Gentle Audrey (Artsplace) in the $100,000 Group One Gold Crown Final for two year old colts and geldings; and Dave Farrar had made the journey north with The Kew Legend to contest the Gold Crown Consolation, finishing sixth. Although disappointed, the affected trainer-drivers are philosophical about their predicament. "If that's what it takes to do for us to continue racing, I'm more than happy with the decision," Miles said. David Miles after his Bathurst win HRV yesterday released a statement advising that licensees who fail to comply with the requirements face significant penalties, including disqualification. HRV Stewards advised all industry stakeholders, effective immediately: All Licensed persons whom have competed interstate must not attend race or trial meetings in Victoria for a period of 14 days from the date of competition, and must provide a medical clearance to HRV within that 14-day period; Trainers, who are subject to the above restriction, will not be permitted to present a horse to start in a race or trial during this 14-day period; All persons are advised that should they fail to comply with these requirements significant penalties, including periods of disqualification, may be imposed under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR). AHRR 238 states: A person shall not fail to comply with any order, direction or requirement of the Controlling Body or the Stewards relating to harness racing or to the harness racing industry.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Racing’s welcomed return at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight not only brings short-term relief but may also provide a platform for the long-term if Chris Alford’s book of drives are any gauge. The Schweppes Metropolitan Drivers Premiership leader has enjoyed two Group 1 wins with both Kualoa and I Am Pegasus, and tonight the once star three-year-olds continue their evolution as they progress to the open-age ranks. This is particularly the case for Kualoa, the Emma Stewart-trained mare who has won 13 of her 19 starts to date and more than $300,000 in stakes, and steps out in the Alabar Pace at 9.05pm an even money favourite with the TAB.com.au. The short price is despite a couple of question marks, with Kualoa first up since July 6 and taking her first steps in a transition that will define her future. “It is always hard when they come up from three-year-old into open age,” Alford said. “It’s the toughness of it. In their age group when they are better than the others you can give them a breather here and there. When you are up against the best open age horses the pressure is on from the get go.” Alford thinks that may well be the case for Kualoa tonight, with the mare drawn gate one, so well positioned to push for the lead but also susceptible to early pressure. “I’m not sure if she will hold the front,” Alford said. “Vandanta could be the problem, but she does get out pretty good.  “She’s a quality mare. She had one trial six weeks or so ago and felt really good. I’m sure she’s the best horse in the race, but she is first up in a long time and am sure she will improve for the run.” Courtesy of victory in the Group 1 Breed For Speed final in February, I Am Pegasus has had a more substantial into tonight’s test, the Group 3 VHRC Carlottas Pride Trotters Free For All. But the Joe Vassallo-trained trotter also comes in with question marks, having been pulled up last start after being squeezed early in running and racing roughly. Alford said it was the result of a wider concern. “She seems to have a lot of trouble off the second row,” he said, a fate she’ll have to deal with again tonight, being drawn in gate nine as a result of her out of the draw status. “Last run at Melton she was out control when they got away and she got squeezed up. “We have done a bit of work and hopefully that settles her down a bit. If she settles she is just as good with a sit as she is out in front, we just haven’t seen it yet.” Alford’s remaining drives include Vouchers for trainer Jess Tubbs in the Allied Express 3YO Classic, who he said was “pretty good at Cranbourne running a mile in 1:55 and did it easy”. But Alford said Tubbs’ husband, Greg Sugars, “would know her better than me” and he’s chosen to keep the steer on brilliant filly Maajida. Alford will also steer Stewart’s Born To Rocknroll in the Hygain Captain Sandy Free For All, noting “his first run was plan when he was second, but his Charlton Cup run was really good and he is getting back on track”. And finally Freddy Funk in the first, the DNR Logistics Pace, who he said was a “bit out of his grade”.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

Racing will resume in Victoria tomorrow night after Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) confirmed the steward tested for COVID-19 earlier this week had returned a negative result. HRNSW previously reported a club official working at Penrith trots on Thursday March 19 had tested positive to COVID-19. That official had come into contact with a steward, who then worked the following night at Bathurst where Victorian participants were racing. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and HRNSW worked together to identify the participants who had contact with the steward and alerted those people during the week. None of those participants have reported any symptoms. “We are comfortable with the processes employed by HRNSW to investigate this situation and we’re pleased the steward has tested negative to COVID-19,” HRV CEO Dayle Brown said. “I am sure the news is a significant relief to that steward and the steward’s family, as well as the entire harness racing industry. “The strict race night protocols previously announced by HRV will remain in place to ensure we continue to reduce our footprint at race meetings, with only essential personnel able to attend. “The health and wellbeing of our people is paramount, and this is why we took the precautionary measures this week to suspend racing while we investigated the NSW reports. “We are continuing to explore all options that would allow our participants the opportunity to continue earning an income through racing. “We are also committed to ensuring full compliance with government health edicts and will continue working closely with our stakeholders and staff to protect their health and wellbeing.” With racing resuming as of tomorrow night, the schedule will proceed as planned. HRV will continue to monitor and respond to government protocols put in place to control the spread of COVID-19.   Media enquiries: cwinnell@hrv.org.au

Two more go in to the Blackbook as Bendigo, Maryborough, Tabcorp Park Melton and Ballarat trials get the Trial File treatment. Scroll to the bottom for Craig Rail's updated Blackbook, including engagements. BENDIGO 22/03/20 Trial 1: - FRATELLINO settled three back on the markers and obtained an inside run before the home turn before coming to the outside of the leader in the straight when he got home best to score. JAY BEE FLEX was able to jump to the lead at the start and kicked on well but was grabbed right on the line. GOOROC GAMBLER trailed the leader for most of the journey before coming to the outside approaching the home turn. He tried hard in the straight but couldn’t match the leading duo. TRUMPIT LIL was slowly into stride and ended up being four back on the markers approximately 25m behind the leader. She finished fourth ahead of the juvenile trotter WATCH AND ACT (Skyvalley – Misty Elle), which settled about 15m behind her. Mile Rate: - 2.5.6            Final Half: - 58.5               Margins: - Head, 12m Trial 2: - VALKYRIE was a good winner after she settled four back on the markers before getting inconvenienced on the home turn and dashing home out wide on the track in the latter stages. TREACHEROUS SAINT (Captaintreacherous – Saint Theory 2.1.8, $14,104) tried to lead throughout and was run down in the final 30m. BEACH COMBER (Somebeachsomewhere – Dream A Rainbow) trailed the leader and broke stride before the home turn but recovered to finish third. OZZIE DAYBREAK (Dawn Ofa New Day – Miss Laura Jane 1.56.8, $146,545) settled three back on the inside before moving up without cover at the 600m. He was inconvenienced by BEACH COMBER on the turn but finished fourth in front of ABBIE LINCOLN (Art Major – Jaz Equity 1.57.5, $54,023), which was last throughout. Mile Rate: - 2.2.4            Final Half: - 59.0               Margins: - 2m, 1m Trial 3: - TIGER FOR LIFE dashed to the front in the early stages and was able to lead throughout to defeat LOLA DEVEREAUX, which moved into the death seat from three back on the markers at the 500m mark. FLAMING FIVES settled down last and followed LOLA DEVEREAUX all of the way. She never peeled to the outside at any stage and could have finished closer. JAYBEEOHDEE (Angus Hall – Maori Vale 1.59.5, $35,615) galloped in the score up, ended up behind the leader but yielded ground to finish last of the four runners. Mile Rate: - 2.6.0            Final Half: - 60.0               Margins: - 4m, 4m Trial 4: - ORBIE began very quickly from a wide draw and was able to angle in behind the leader POLLY PEACHUM around the first corner. She sprinted home nicely off a good trail and proved too strong in the run to the finish with POLLY PEACHUM holding down second. CALYPSO MISTRESS settled four back on the markers and finished third ahead of RINELLA (Village Jasper – Sharnica), which settled one position ahead of her. SIMPLY HEAVENLY raced five back on the markers and finished fifth ahead of CROCROCK (6 back markers) and ORION BLASTER (Caribbean Blaster – Starlit Orion), which broke at the start and was tailed off early before tacking on mid-race. He then yielded ground from the 500m mark and came in at the tail of the field. Mile Rate: - 2.3.2            Final Half: - 57.9               Margins: - 2m, 10m Trial 5: - LOTTA FUSS led throughout and won the trial by a comfortable margin. WHOS THE MAN (Angus Hall – Oh Yes Indeed 2.5.2, $57,750) is out of the outstanding producer Oh Yes Indeed and is related to six winners including My Mate Mal, The Boss Man and Anywhere Hugo. He trailed the leader and finished second in front of WILL PATRICK, which led but broke stride on the first corner, losing fifteen metres and settling three back on the markers before galloping again on the home turn. Mile Rate: - 2.10.2          Final Half: - 63.0               Margins: - 30m, 3m Trial 6: - LEIGHA MILLER settled five back on the markers, shifted around VILLAGE FLING mid-race to be fourth, then moved into the one out and one back trail in the back straight on the final occasion. She produced a good finish and got up to defeat VON PONDER, which trailed the leader and used the sprint lane. LONGASULOVEME (Pet Rock – Aniteattheopera 2.1.6, $13,300) settled three back on the markers and moved into the death seat at the 500m mark and tried hard for third. FOUR LONELY NIGHTS raced without cover early before moving to the lead at the 1700m mark. She tired into fourth with VILLAGE FLING (Fling It – Bonnie Cheval) finishing at the tail of the field. Mile Rate: - 2.3.5            Final Half: - 59.6               Margins: - Head, 2m Trial 7: - FORM ANALYST settled four back on the markers and moved into the breeze at the 650m mark when a strong winner over VALENTINA BRAVE, which was on her best behaviour at the start and tried to lead all of the way. DELIGHTFUL MIA settled three back on the markers and finished in third position ahead of DANMAN, which trailed the leader, and HONEY CULLEN was last throughout. Mile Rate: - 1.58.4          Final Half: - 56.2               Margins: - 3m, 5m MARYBOROUGH 22/03/20 Trial 1: - SAVANNAH JAY JAY settled at the rear of the field but pushed forward without cover and eventually found the lead with 1200m remaining. He was always in control and scored by a comfortable margin. CLEM MCARDLE led momentarily before taking a trail and ended up being three back on the markers. He came to the outside on the home turn and finished off fairly well in the latter stages. GOZO COURAGE got to the front at the 1800m mark before taking a trail behind SAVANNAH JAY JAY. He galloped momentarily several times in the trial and never appeared to be comfortable but he boxed on well for third. MAJOR BANKS settled five back on the markers and finished fourth ahead of ARISTOCRAT CHESTER (4 back markers) and JILLIBY ROY, which ended up being tailed out after being without cover early, easing to last then running right off the track coming up to the bell. Mile Rate: - 2.2.5            Final Half: - 58.5               Margins: - 8m, 16m Trial 2: - CLASSICMAJOR (Art Major – Lierre Noir 1.54.4, $131,629) trailed the leader and finished off too well for the two years old filly IM LADY EVELYN (Shadow Play – Tia Franco), which tried to lead all of the way. DANCEFORME (A Rocknroll Dance – Shake It Up Baby) was inconvenienced at the start when RAGNA THOR galloped then settled three back on the inside. She finished on reasonably well for third and wasn’t too far away from IM LADY EVELYN at the end. RAGNA THOR broke at the start and lost valuable ground but was able to chase to tack on at the half mile marker as the pace was very slow. She moved up without cover shortly afterwards but the early effort took a toll and she faded in the latter stages. Mile Rate: - 2.6.0            Final Half: - 60.1               Margins: - 4m, 1m Trial 3: - ADAM CROCKER began quickly and led throughout to win comfortably. He has been trialling very well and he dashed home in a handy final half of 57.8 seconds. ROCKARIA (Pet Rock – Classic Amy 2.1.6, $33,760) trailed the leader throughout and tried hard in the straight when second. DEALERS KNOCK settled three back on the markers and moved away from the inside to race without cover when a game third. It was a good effort for a trotter taking on the pacers and importantly, he didn’t over-race in the middle stages of the event, which he can do occasionally. IM LADY MADELEINE settled five back on the markers and came away from the inside at the 700m. She battled on fairly well for fourth with REEKO REACTOR (4 back markers) in fifth. COAL PARK (Roll With Joe – Simply Explosive) settled at the tail of the field, moved into the one out and one back trail at the 700m mark and ended up finishing at the tail of the field. Mile Rate: - 2.4.7            Final Half: - 57.8               Margins: - 7m, 2m Trial 4: - KING DENNY hasn’t raced since finishing unplaced in the Crystal Bucket at Echuca in 2019. He is a very smart trotter when racing at his best form and he was able to beat his only rival SURBITON ARMISTICE very comfortably by leading throughout. Mile Rate: - 2.11.5          Final Half: - 60.2               Margin: - 8m TABCORP PARK, MELTON 24/04/20 Trial 1: - SIX NATIONS (Yankee Spider – Eagles Image 2.3.8, $43,288) settled three back on the markers and moved into the death seat at the 600m mark. He was able to hit the lead with 100m remaining and began to edge clear in the run to the finish. HOTEL KYVALLEY (Father Patrick – Lindys Two Step USA) stepped away nicely to find the front and tried to lead throughout. He finished second in front of HERE COMES KYVALLEY (Muscle Mass – Nice One Kenny), which trailed him throughout. KYVALLEY HEIST (Muscle Mass – U Dream) was four back on the markers throughout and finished fourth. The only horse to make a mistake in the trial was TIPSY TURVEY (Bacardi Lindy – Titillate 1.59.7, $36,675) and she ended up finishing a tailed off last. She stepped away okay but galloped 50m after the start. Mile Rate: - 2.14.4          Final Half: - 61.75    Margins: - 3m, 5m Trial 2: - CRUISIN AROUND commenced from the handicap of 20m and settled last of the four runners. He moved into the one out and one back trail with 500m remaining and came to the outside in the home straight. He was able to claim victory in the last stride. SHADOW JUSTICE trailed the leader ROSANNA LINDY before moving into the death seat leaving the back straight on the final occasion. He hit the lead in the straight but was nabbed on the line. JUST BELIEVE settled three back on the markers and moved through to trail behind ROSANNA LINDY when SHADOW JUSTICE made his move. He never left the back of ROSANNA LINDY all of the way down the home straight and went to the line jogging in last position. Mile Rate: - 2.10.8          Final Half: - 59.64    Margins: - Short ½ Head, 2.5m Trial 3: - REDWOOD INVASION is a former New South Wales trained trotter, which has recently joined trainer Chris Lang. He recorded a slow mile rate at his trial victory where he set the speed but he appeared to be impressive as he had plenty in reserve in the run to the finish. AVIMORE seemed to have every chance in finishing second but was well clear from ZINGARA LASS, which was last of the three runners throughout. Mile Rate: - 2.12.6          Final Half: - 60.31    Margins: - 8m, 57.5m Trial 4: - MASTER REMI (Somebeachsomewhere – Our Little Artist 1.58.1, $57,040) settled four back on the markers and started to move with 300m to travel. He finished off nicely and was able to get up and win in shadows of the post. TREBEK (Falcon Seelster – Melita Bromac 1.56.8, $46,813) was three back on the markers and was the first to make a move. He hit the lead in the straight but couldn’t repel the challenge of MASTER REMI over the latter stages. CAPTAIN MAASTRICHT (Captaintreacherous – Maastricht 1.55.3, $89,989) trailed the leader throughout and finished in third position. The early leader MISO MISO (Art Major – Rocknrollsal) finished in fourth position and WHY NOT DREAM (Shadow Play – Why Comment) was always at the tail of the field, dropping off the bunch in the back straight on the final occasion. Mile Rate: - 2.0.9            Final Half: - 59.96    Margins: - 1.5m, 5m Trial 5: - ILLAWONG MOONBEAM is a promising young trotter and scored in record time at Kilmore at her last outing. She led throughout and held off a determined challenge from WAR DAN STRIKES, which trailed her throughout and got very close on the line. LIFEINTHEBALANCE (Grinfromeartoear – Artistic Wings) did everything right but couldn’t go with the leading duo and finished a distant last of the three. Mile Rate: - 2.4.0            Final Half: - 62.11    Margins: - Short ½ Head, 62.5m Trial 6: - SEBS CHOICE (Bettors Delight – Alta Calypso 1.59.4, $79,478) trailed the leader and came to the outside with 500m remaining. He drew to the lead in the straight and won with plenty in reserve, looking very impressive in the process. CAPTAIN BELLASARIO (Captaintreacherous – Bellasario 1.55.5, $71,704) settled down last of the five runners, moved into the death seat at the 900m mark then gained cover behind SEBS CHOICE in the back straight. He held his ground nicely in fast final sectionals. LET GO MARSHALL (Hurrikane Kingcole – Sokysatin) finished a distant third after setting the speed. LE BELLE BIJOUX (Art Major – Bellas Delight 1.54.3, $442,523) is out of the great mare Bella’s Delight and finished fourth after settling three back on the markers shortly after the start. DOUBLE HAPPINESS (Rock N Roll Heaven – Our Waltzing Mathilda 1.57.7, $12,131) came in at the tail of the field after settling fourth in the field of five runners. Mile Rate: - 2.2.8            Final Half: - 56.48    Margins: - 9.5m, 36m BLACKBOOKER: - Sebs Choice Trial 7: - IS THAT A BID pushed forward to find the lead and took cover with 1200m remaining but not without making the new leader MAJESTIC MANNEQUIN work for that position. He was approximately fifteen metres behind MAJESTIC MANNEQUIN turning for home but that trotter galloped and left him in front to get the prize. HALLABOUTME showed good gate speed to lead early then was shuffled back on the markers to be third mid-race. She worked into the clear on the home turn and picked up ground albeit trotting very roughly at the end. MYRNIONG RAINBOW raced four back on the markers for the majority of the trip and finished third ahead of ROI DU SOLEIL (Danny Bouchea – Rockin Wilma 2.2.9, $59,390), which settled down last and moved into the one out and one back trail. GREAT INVASION (Great Success – Marama’s Invasion 2.5.5, $28,351) raced without cover for most of the trip and finished fifth in front of MAJESTIC MANNEQUIN. MAJESTIC MANNEQUIN is a former New Zealander and would have won impressively had she not made the error on the home turn so she is obviously worth following. GOOBER settled down third last early and was always in a rearward position before galloping with 800m remaining. He finished in front of MY LINDY ANGELS, which also settled near the back of the field and made an error at the 500m mark. Mile Rate: - 2.4.5            Final Half: - 61.12    Margins: - 1.5m, 24m BLACKBOOKER: - Majestic Mannequin Trial 8: - THEULTIMATE hasn’t raced since winning the Breeders Crown Silver event in August but won her trial nicely. She eased back to last early, quickly moved around the field to find the front at the 1200m mark and was able to hold her rivals safely at bay. FLEETWOOD ROCK finished second after showing gate speed to lead, taking cover and using the sprint lane over the final stages. POWER OF FAITH was three back on the markers and moved up without cover from the 600m mark. She finished third and SNAZOLA (Tell All – Jackieola) (four back markers from the 1200m) finished at the tail of the field. Mile Rate: - 2.5.1            Final Half: - 59.03    Margins: - 2m, 3m Trial 9: - ROLLONBY (Roll With Joe – Beach Melody 1.54.7, $101,825) was extremely impressive after he raced three back on the markers and made a strong surge from the 500m mark. He dashed well clear in the run to the finish to win by a large margin. STARLIGHT SAFARI began quickly to lead and set up a genuine tempo throughout. He couldn’t match ROLLONBY in the straight but he held down second in front of SPORTZSCRIBE, which trailed him throughout. GRESHAR settled down last of the six runners but came to the outside with a half mile remaining and started to pick up some ground. He beat home the trotter IMPERIAL WHIZ (4 back markers) and also COBBITY COVE (5 back markers). Mile Rate: - 1.58.1          Final Half: - 57.80    Margins: - 19.5m, 1.5m BLACKBOOKER: - Rollonby Trial 10: - BETTA BOPPER showed good gate speed to lead and backed off the tempo mid-race. He was headed by STAR OF MEMPHIS on the home turn but rallied strongly and was able to kick back and get the prize. STAR OF MEMPHIS settled at the tail of the field before making his move at the 800m mark. He progressed forward and eventually hit the front on the home turn but peaked on his run late. APOLLO ROCK settled four back on the markers and moved into the one out and one back trail in the back straight. He couldn’t go with STAR OF MEMPHIS approaching the home turn but he rallied in the run to the finish and ended up in third position. DANCE TO THE STARS finished fourth after being three back on the markers and ARTS DASH was the last one to greet the judge after trailing the leader throughout. Mile Rate: - 2.4.7            Final Half: - 57.31    Margins: - Neck, 3m BALLARAT 24/03/20 Trial 1: - SOHO ALMASI was able to scoot to the lead around the first corner and always appeared to be in control, winning the trial by a comfortable margin. TOUGH TILLY (Captaintreacherous – Beninjurd) paced roughly at the start and dropped out to be last of the four runners. She was the widest runner around the final corner and ran home well for second. BEACH MUSIC (Somebeachsomewhere – Musical Delight 1.53.1, $248,910) finished third after trailing the leader and LADIES IN RED (Mach Three – Kabbalah Karen B 1.52.4, $285,098) (3 back markers) came in last but she went to the line under a strong hold and was capable of doing a lot more. Mile Rate: - 2.2.4            Final Half: - 57.4               Margins: - 4m, 1.5m Trial 2: - BEYOND DELIGHT (Bettors Delight – Whattahottie 1.54.3, $30,618) was able to work to the lead shortly after the start and won with something in reserve. He did get a fright and race greenly when the bell sounded but apart from that minor indiscretion, his performance was very good. SAYITAINTSO JOE (Roll With Joe – Beach Shack 1.53.2, $148,702) galloped shortly after the start and lost approximately twenty metres. He tacked onto the group, settled last of the four and moved into the one out and one back trail before trying to chase down the leader. SEACHANGE (A Rocknroll Dance – Seaside Beauty 1.55.7, $27,900) finished in third after being three back on the markers early before moving through to trail the leader at the 900m mark. GHOST OF TIME (A Rocknroll Dance – Margot Macray 1.59.2, $3,375) trailed the leader and came to the outside from the 900m mark. He was in second position until breaking stride just after the quarter pole and dropped out to finish at the rear of the field. Mile Rate: - 2.0.5            Final Half: - 57.9               Margins: - 1m, 6m Trial 3: - MONSIEUR DELACOUR held the inside advantage early but was quick to take cover behind CAN’T TOP THIS on the first bend. He came to the outside approaching the home corner and finished off solidly to get the prize. CAN’T TOP THIS did go to the line with plenty in reserve however and was only beaten on the post. MATTS DELIGHT (Betterthancheddar – Miss Mach Kana 1.59.2, $13,311) settled three back on the inside and finished third ahead of FLOAT ON BY, which picked up some ground from five back on the markers. AMMICCHI dropped back to fifth after being ahead of FLOAT ON BY in the run and CARRAMAR CEE SMITH was last throughout after being slow in the score up and missing the start by fifteen metres. Mile Rate: - 1.57.8          Final Half: - 57.2               Margins: - Head, 15m Trial 4: - JILLIBY GALWAYGIRL hasn’t raced since winning a semi-final of the Breeders Challenge in June 2017 but she won her trial nicely after she led out then took a trail behind PUFFA MAN and proved too strong for that pacer in the run to the finish. PUFFA MAN progressed forward early and found the lead at the 1700m mark. He raced keenly in the leading role but kicked on strongly in the run to the finish. ERNIESON took cover from barrier one and ended up being three back on the markers. He finished third ahead of the trotter SHOWEMYOURMUSCLES, which settled down last, made a move to get up into second from the death seat at the 1200m but began to yield ground from the quarter pole. Mile Rate: - 2.1.1            Final Half: - 59.2               Margins: - 3m, 40m Trial 5: - TWO TIMES BETTOR settled down three back on the markers and moved to the outside with 700m remaining. She quickly got alongside the early leader BUNDY PLAYBOY and proved to be superior in the run to the judge. SINGLE TREE ROAD settled down four back on the markers and followed TWO TIMES BETTOR into the race. She was able to work into second position without being pushed over the final stages. BUNDY PLAYBOY was able to hold down third after setting the pace and MISS MCGONAGALL was fourth after trailing. MORNINGS remained last of the five runners throughout. Mile Rate: - 2.0.7            Final Half: - 56.7               Margins: - 4m, 1m Trial 6: - The star pacer POSTER BOY is on the comeback trail after winning at his latest appearance in May. He won the 2019 Chariots of Fire (1.49.1) and was placed in the Miracle Mile of that year so he rates as one of Australia’s best pacers. He led throughout and cruised to victory, finishing the trial off in a sizzling final quarter of 26.6 seconds. EGODAN settled last of the three runners and came to the outside at the quarter pole. He did well to pick up ground over the latter stages and BREVITY was last of the three after trailing the leader throughout and gaining an inside run. Mile Rate: - 2.1.7            Final Half: - 55.9               Margins: - 3m, 5m Trial 7: - KEAYANG XENA (Father Patrick – Keayang Yankee 1.55.4, $51,240) stepped away very quickly from the standing start and led clearly. She enjoyed a nice run in front and was unchallenged throughout. SELLUNE (Skyvalley – Sunelle 2.6.2, $12,356) stepped away slowly but safely and settled last of the three runners. He was able to run into second when KEAYANG NINJA (Wishing Stone – Another Clare 2.2.0, $48,902) broke stride at the quarter pole. KEAYANG NINJA stepped away reasonably well and was able to work onto the back of KEAYANG XENA coming up to the bell. He was sticking with KEAYANG XENA before his untimely error. Mile Rate: - 2.8.2            Final Half: - 59.5               Margins: - 50m, 30m   HRV Trots Media - Craig Rail

Ararat hobby trainer Wayne Ferguson has been thoroughly enjoying his comeback to harness racing even more so now after a recent Maryborough meeting. Ferguson made the 120km drive with his stable team of two horses, hoping that his first runner could win "if everything went right". And to his delight, the popular horseman landed his first-ever training double when it all worked out fine. "Both Ghanasuya and Gottahaveahobbie have been racing well, but I was really pinning my hopes on the first one," Ferguson said. "It certainly was a thrill and when I got home, I went out for tea with my partner Rosemary Preston and had a couple of drinks to celebrate," he said. Ghanasuya (Mr Feelgood-The Princess Poet (Christian Cullen) was driven a treat by one of Victoria's leading freelance drivers in Michael Bellman. After beginning well, they took the sit behind Sassys A Terror (Greg Sugars). With an easy first half of 62.2 secs in a sprint race, the tempo was always going to hot up and Ghanasuya was looking the goods a long way out. The gelding worked home nicely, and courtesy of the sprint lane, got the chocolates by a few metres. "He hasn't been far away in his races this season with four placings prior to the Maryborough victory. I thought his Charlton and Swan Hill efforts last month when he ran third both times were good," Ferguson said. In the very next race, four-year-old Gottahaveahobbie (Well Said-Ay Tee Em (Mach Three) posted one of the eye-catching runs of the meeting with an impressive victory in the Bendigo HRTC Concession Drivers Pace, for those who haven't had 25 winners. Reinsman Jason Ainsworth, handling the pacer for the first time, scored top marks for his exhibition. After settling midfield, he sat quietly until the 450m mark before whipping around in the blink of an eye. The pair powered away to win easily in 1.57-4. Ferguson said Gottahaveahobbie, known around the stables as Louie, just loved the Maryborough circuit. "He's probably had four trials there and won them all. And now I've raced him at the track on three occasions for two wins and a third," he said. Ferguson, who owns both horses in partnership with his brother-in-law Bill Campbell, said they were lucky to end up with Gottahaveahobbie after deciding to bid for him at a Ready To Run sale in Sydney. "We pulled out at $15k, and another bloke ended up going to $20k. We were on our way home and got a telephone call to say the horse had just been left there and the winning bidder was nowhere to be found," he said. "So we agreed to pay $15k which was our last bid. He ran 4th at Geelong at his first start and then 2nd at Mt Gambier before doing a suspensory in his back leg. He was off the scene for over 12 months, but now has four wins and nine placings for over $25k. "He's going to be a nice horse because he has such a powerful sprint." Ferguson followed his father Stan into harness racing and the pair enjoyed a reasonable amount of success more than 25 years ago with such horses as tough campaigner Derricks First, who held a track record at Mt Gambier at one stage, and the talented Reneko. "Dad was the trainer and I did the driving. It worked out really well. I probably drove for about four years and then gave it away when dad was having health problems," he said. "I've been back for 18 months and I was lucky to again race the horses in dad's old racing colors of purple with a green V. My partner Rosemary isn't from a harness racing background, but she is now hooked and enjoying the horses." Ferguson said he was loving the training aspect, and really had no plans to go back to race driving. "I'll leave that to the experts, although it would be convenient so that I could drive at the trials."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Young Mildura harness racing trainer Cassandra O'Brien has got her career off to a flying start after having a licence for only a short time. O'Brien took two pacers to the Ouyen Cup meeting last Sunday. She landed her very first winner when Tell Us We Dream was victorious-and then made it a memorable double an hour later with Graceful Art getting the money. The 24-year-old has been registered as a trainer since October, taking the reins for her veteran horseman uncle Peter O'Brien, when he suffered a stroke - just months after the passing of both Peter's father Jim and brother Gary. Cassandra had been Peter's strapper for about five years. But when Peter was sidelined, she was never going to let the horses slip out of her uncle's life. "He'd been at me and at me to get my trainer's licence, then when he had his stroke, I just had to jump in the deep end - there wasn't anyone else to do it, and the horses are Pete's life," Cassandra said. "I was so lucky that we had a terrific owner in Alan Cordy who just said to me he wasn't going to take his horse somewhere else...he knew I could do it. He had faith in me when others didn't and I appreciated that and it gave me confidence." But nonetheless, Cassandra said it was a steep learning curve, moving "from the passenger seat to behind the wheel". "I always thought I could do it, and Pete had taught me so much that I was confident, but it was still a bit of a whack in the face to be suddenly in charge!" Cassandra said. "I'd never even towed a float before and I'd just learnt to drive a manual car, so I was pretty nervous taking the horses to the track the first time - I think I was driving about 40 kmh!" she laughed. "Then I had to get another trainer to back the float out after we raced that night, but we got there and home safely and that was the main thing." Since then, Cassandra has had 35 starters, and eight placegetters, before Tell Us We Dream (Real Desire - Lils Dream (Badlands Hanover) broke through to record her maiden win as a trainer in the Brow and Body Maryborough Pace at the Ouyen Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Two races later, the first success became a winning double, with veteran 10-year-old Graceful Art (Artesian - Denver Grace (Armbro Operative) scoring comfortably in the Nutrien Ag Solutions Pace. "I was so nervous the night before the race, just thinking 'what if I get my first winner?', because I thought Graceful Art was a good chance," she said. "But never in a million years did I think about a double! Tell Us We Dream is a capable enough horse, but you just never know which Tell Us We Dream is going to turn up! "It was an absolutely awesome day. I couldn't stop crying after the first winner and I couldn't stop smiling after the second. It was unbelievable." The O'Briens are now stabled at Merbein South with well-known trainer Ian Watson, and Cassandra said the change had done the horses a world of good. "They've blossomed out there -- we have to put them in the cart every day to work them, and we've changed the way we feed them, and they're a lot happier. The environment out there is terrific as well. It's quiet, and Ian is fantastic. He's happy to answer any questions or give me a bit of advice when I need a hand," she said. Cassandra, who is in the final stages of training as a registered nurse, said Peter was lucky to survive the stroke and, as anticipated, the lure of getting back to the horses was a big motivator in his recovery. Peter O'Brien has spent his entire life around horses, first as a youngster on the show circuit, including at the Royal Melbourne, then in later years as a jumps jockey, before injury forced him to change direction into harness racing. "When we got the horses to the races the first few times he really didn't know much about it, but as he got better, all he wanted to do was get back to the horses. He wouldn't have got anywhere near where he is now if it hadn't been for them." Cassandra said, as well as being a tonic for Peter, the horses had provided a welcome distraction for both herself and her mum Kerri. "We had a shocking year last year with losing Pop and Uncle Gary, then Pete having his stroke - hopefully this is a sign of better things ahead," she said. "We're all still here, we've just changed roles a bit. I used to get angry at Pete for being a grumpy trainer, now it's me that's the grumpy one - but I couldn't do it without either Pete or mum. And the horses kept us all sane through all of it, I think."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It was the Kate Gath show on Saturday night as the state’s top reinswoman scored three memorable Group race triumphs at Tabcorp Park Melton. Gath guided the country’s premier trotter Tornado Valley to his 19th victory at Victorian headquarters to bring up the winning three-peat, which had earlier been set up by Emma Stewart-trained pair Pacifico Dream and Demon Delight. The success with Tornado Valley, who is trained by Gath’s husband at the pair’s Long Forest base, was the horse’s 35th in a career spanning 95 starts. The evergreen squaregaiter had to fight to win Saturday night’s Group 3 Economix Scotch Notch Memorial (2240m, NR 80-120). He sat parked outside Maori Law for much of the journey before getting the better of him in a battle down the home straight. “He just does what he has to… he was holding him (Maori Law) a little bit better than he normally has been lately,” Gath said. “He just got the job done and he’s just been a great horse for us.” Earlier, Gath partnered Pacifico Dream in his demolition of the Group 3 VHRC Victoria Sires Classic (2240m, 3YO) field. After leading from barrier one, Gath copped some pressure through the middle stages but then let the Mach Three colt sprint home and score by close to 20 metres in a rate of 1:55.1. The result followed a fourth placing in the NSW Derby and was the horse’s fifth win from 10 career starts. “I’m not surprised. I’ve loved this horse from when he was a two-year-old,” Gath said. “He hasn’t drawn good in any of the big races and it’s probably stopped him winning one. But he’s still on the way up and as we saw tonight, he just played with them.” Gath made it a race-to-race double when she drove stablemate Demon Delight to a head success in the Group 2 City of Melton Plate XXXI (2240m, 4&5YO). After returning from a consistent but unsuccessful Sydney campaign - which included a fourth placing in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire - Demon Delight was able to land his first win since August last year in the $50,000 feature. Gath took the horse from three back the running line to a spot outside the leader at the bell and it proved a great move as the four-year-old then surged to the lead at the home turn and held off a wall of chasing rivals. Clayton Tonkin’s Out To Play darted home along the sprint lane to grab second. “This horse has been knocking on the door to win a big race and he never gets the draw. Tonight it turned out a little bit better for him and he got the job done,” Gath said. “He’s such a quality horse but every start he goes around against the best horses of his age group and every start he nearly doesn’t get a good draw. His record, as good as it is, could probably be even better.” Demon Delight has now won 11 of 25 starts for close to $200,000 in prizemoney. The night’s other feature was the Group 3 Allied Express Jodie’s Babe (1720m, mares NR 70-120) and it was taken out by Delightful Tara for Kialla trainer Isabel Walsh and driver Josh Aiken. The meeting kicked off on a sour note when top driver Kima Frenning was tipped out of the sulky before the running of race one. It’s understood she has sustained a broken wrist in the ugly fall and is set to be sidelined for some time. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FROM THE WINNING DRIVERS IN ALL CLEAR:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

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