Day At The Track
Search Results
33 to 48 of 4569

It may have taken a few runs for Scoob Operator to hit his straps since crossing the Tasman but – thanks to a bit of hard work – the Kerryn Manning-trained gelding is starting to make up for lost time. Manning, who will pilot the ex-Kiwi in the TAB Multiplier Pace at Tabcorp Melton Park on Saturday night, said the five-year-old had to overcome a few issues during the early stages of his Aussie career. “He wanted to hang and not find the line a little bit,” Manning said. “I said to Merv (Butterworth, owner with wife Meg), ‘I don’t know how we are going to go here because he doesn’t really want to try at the end’ but I have just been working him a little bit harder and he is starting to look really fit.” The five-year-old has won his past two starts, with Manning saying the most recent triumph at Stawell was his best Australian run so far. “He did a little bit of work but ended up getting a bit of cover and having not a bad run, but when I pulled out I wasn’t really expecting him to run past Jilliby Madonna as she has been going really good,” she said. “He showed a bit of toe; I was really happy with the run.” While a less than ideal draw will make things difficult on Saturday night, Manning says she expects Scoob Operative to make his presence felt in time should be draw a good alley in town. Manning also hopes Our Bare Knuckle will be in the mix for her first metropolitan win in the Beraldo Coffee Pace over 1720m. She said the mare – narrowly beaten at her last two starts, the last in a 1:54.2 mile rate over 1690m at Maryborough – had been “certainly knocking on the door”. “She has stripped a lot fitter (but drawing) four is slightly awkward; she has got nice gate speed but she’s not brilliant, so over the short we are probably going to have to work forward and hope to not do too much to get a posse,” Manning said. “It is a nice even field so she’s in with a bit of a chance if the luck goes her way.”   Shaun Campbell for Trots Media

Less than a week after blowing out the candles on his 20th birthday cake reinsman Jack Laugher continued his ascent up the Alabar Concession Drivers' Premiership with a Tabcorp Park win on Saturday night. In the midst of his first full Victorian season since crossing Bass Strait early last year, Laugher was content to sit Glenn Douglas's Wotchawaitingfor in the breeze in the Big Screen Company Pace Final before clearing out at the turn to register a 29th win for 2018-19. Laugher, who sits sixth on the concession drivers' premiership, talked to Rob Auber post-race about how he was starting to find his feet amid Victorian racing. "It's always handy when you are driving nice horses who can do that sort of work like he did tonight, and to drive for good trainers always helps," he told TrotsVision. "A couple of other kids have lost their claim now, so I've started to pick up a few nice drives off them. It's all working out well at the moment. "It took me a little to know the horses, but once you know what you are driving and know the drivers around and the others horses it gets a little bit easier."   Trots Media

A DECISION to send Australian Pacing Gold purchase No Win No Feed to New South Wales has certainly paid dividends. Prepared in Victoria last season by part-owner Jaime Madruga, No Win No Feed was transferred to Craig Cross’ stable for her three-year-old campaign. Making her racing return when second in a Bathurst Gold Bracelet heat last week, the handy filly was back at the venue for tonight’s Final. Driven “a treat” by Todd McCarthy, No Win No Feed upstaged her more fancied rivals to capture the Group One. “I sent her up for a few races with John McCarthy last season and was going to send her there again, but he is going away, so he said to send her to Craig,” Madruga explained. “She did well in the heat in her first run for seven months and was always going to be better for the run. “The boys had her primed perfectly for the Final.” Beginning quickly to lead from barrier five, No Win No Feed was allowed to roll along as the favourite, Brooklyns Best, worked at the pacemaker’s wheel. Striding clear around the home turn, the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance was untouched to score by 12-and-a-half metres from Our Ultimate Julie, with Brooklyns Best three-and-a-half metres away third. “Todd drove a treat,” Madruga said. “He knew the better ones had to come from behind so he made it hard on them. “We felt if she got the front without doing much work and could run her own race she would take a lot of running down.” Rating 1:55.5 over 2260 metres, No Win No Feed took her record to three wins and seven placings from 19 starts for earnings of $76,060. “Andy (Sinclair, part-owner) picked her at the APG Sale and we got her for only $10,000,” Madruga said. “This is Leigh’s (Flanagan) first horse and he’ll be over the moon.” Poised to remain in New South Wales, No Win No Feed will be aimed at the Breeders’ Challenge later in the season.   APG Media

Tim O'Brien hasn't ruled out running Perspective in all three of the remaining features on the Trots Country Cups Championship calendar. The in-form son of Art Major is second on the series leaderboard and could move to the top if he can upstage some of the big guns in this Sunday's The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup (2700m). O'Brien's charge has accumulated 17 points from his seven country cup starts, five less than Kima Frenning's star Buster Brady, who will also race in this weekend's Group 2 event. Simply starting in a cup earns a championship point, meaning even if Perspective misses a place at Horsham he’ll improve to 18 points. Victories in the season’s last two events – Mildura and Warragul – could still see O’Brien hoist the title. The Trots Country Cups Championship carries a $25,000 bonus for the winner, with $15,000 given to the successful owner and $10,000 to the horse's trainer. Given O'Brien trains on a "half stakes" arrangement with owner Kevin Murray, it could be a nice pay day if the gelding can get the job done. "I always go to Mildura every year, so he'll go there. But Warragul is a long way away," O'Brien said. "The only way I'll go to Warragul is if he's half a chance in the series, which I really doubt we are. "I'm rapt with what he's done this year, let alone winning anything else." Perspective's only victory in the series came when he took out the Boort Pacing Cup with a barnstorming finish on March 17. Last Sunday he backed it up with a second placing in the Ouyen Pacing Cup behind Brallos Pass. O'Brien said he'd recently changed the six-year-old's work, a move that appears to be paying dividends. "I used to work him pretty hard. I've done all that and he's gone through his classes. I've sort of backed off his work, just raced him once a week and not done a lot at home," the Ararat trainer said. "It seems to have helped him. It must be because as he's getting older he's getting sick of the hard work. "He seems to be thriving on what I've been doing with him." Perspective has drawn barrier four for Sunday's Horsham Pacing Cup, where he will be driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Matthew Craven-trained-and-driven Cant Refuse - who is third on the overall leaderboard - will be there, while Jilliby Chevy (Margaret Lee/Jason Lee) and Flaming Flutter (Geoff Webster/Greg Sugars) form part of a quality field. The Group 3 Pegasus Spur Horsham Trotters Cup (2700m) is the other feature on Sunday's card.   Tim O'Connor

Adelaide was handed defeat in round one of the AFL season, but a number of the beaten brigade still had reason to smile on Saturday night after Watch List's impressive victory in the Group 3 VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Crows forward and passionate harness racing fan Josh Jenkins is part of the horse's ownership alongside teammates Brad and Matt Crouch and Tex Walker. Essendon defender Michael Hurley is also in the group that races the Michael Stanley-trained pacer. The Burrumbeet-based three-year-old colt produced a fighting display to land victory in the $40,000 event, running down Matthew Craven-trained-and-driven favourite Crime Writer in the home straight to score by a tick over 2m. Jenkins said the horse's win helped improve the mood after the Crows' disappointing loss to Hawthorn. "I got home about 8.45pm Adelaide time and he raced at 9pm. So I just got home in time to have a little each-way flutter on him and watch the race," Jenkins said. "He certainly lifted our spirits a little bit anyway." Jenkins said Stanley targeted the Victoria Sires Classic after he decided not to take part in the re-run of the South Australian Pacing Derby. The first edition of that feature race was abandoned following a multi-horse fall. "Mick said we would go and win this race and I sort of scoffed at him a little bit because it was worth $40,000 and (I thought) one of those three-year-olds from the Derby (would) still be floating around. But he said we would be right," he said. "It doesn't always happen, but it's pretty cool when a plan like that comes off. "Mick gets all the credit for that, although I've already seen a photo of the trophy and I've already told him to make sure he sends it over to my place." Jenkins was with Stanley when he purchased the horse - for $31,000 - and was able to twist the arm of some fellow high-profile footballers to join the fun. And what a great ride they've all had. "AFL guys get paid pretty well, but it's just a really affordable sport," Jenkins said. "It's a real bit of fun and a bit of a conversation starter for us. The other boys are pretty jealous, particularly after the other night." Stanley, who drove the horse to victory on Saturday night, said Watch List was probably just a fraction below the top-line three-year-olds, but hoped for more improvement from the six-time winner. "Sometimes horses can mature in their older years and he's a brother to Wrappers Delight, whose progressively got better as he's got older," Stanley said. "We're hoping this little fellow can do the same."   Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Ryley Major cashed in on his undoubted talent and crashed through his metropolitan maiden status at Tabcorp Park Melton on Monday night, rewarding his patient Tasmanian connections. A winner of 12 of his 17 starts and now $100,307 in stakes, the six-year-old Art Major gelding had his second start at Melton and on the mainland Saturday when he was comfortable throughout, finding the front from gate five and careering away to a 5.6m win in a 27-second final quarter. Victory in the $20,000 DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace was great reward for trainer-driver Rohan Hillier, who's nursed Ryley Major back from a tendon injury. "As a three-year-old he was unbeaten, I think, in 10 starts," Hillier told Trots Vision. "Then he went amiss, it's been a long road back. He's been off the scene for three years. Fingers crossed he can stay sound." Having not raced since the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series bronze pace at Melton on July 7 2016, Ryley Major won a pair of trials in February and March this year before making his long-awaited return at Launceston on March 17, when he won by 4.6m. That prompted Hillier to jump Bass Strait and make hay while the sun shined. "He's got a tendon, it's not perfect, but at the moment he's going quite well," he said. "He was really good last week first-up from the long break, so we thought while he's sound and racing well we'll come and try and steal some Victorian money." Trots Media 

Exciting Duke Of Wellington won tonight’s 30th renewal of the City of Melton Plate at Tabcorp Park and secured Great Western trainer-driver Kerryn Manning her second Plate success. Fifteen years had passed since Manning’s first Plate win, aboard Run Albert Run in 2004, and she declared tonight’s triumph “a big thrill” before adding she felt her four-year-old son of American Ideal was destined for big things. See bottom of article for Manning's list of $50k+ feature race wins “It’s a very nice honour roll (for the Melton Plate) and to join it is a big thrill. I think this horse can be the same as them (top-line past winners), he’s certainly got the talent but he’s still got a bit of learning to do,” she said. Perusing the honour roll of Plate champions reveals names such as Hectorjayjay, Make Mine Cullen, Melpark Major, Shakamaker, Sokyola and Tailamade Lombo just to name a few. Punters put their faith in the Duke and Manning, sending the pair out as a commanding $1.4 favourite. They rolled forward out of the gate, but War Dan ($10.70) and James Rattray found the pegs first and wouldn’t relent to the favourite. “I always thought War Dan may try to hold the front,” Manning said. “I was prepared for that.” The ensuing fight was enthralling, with first and second splits of 29.9 and 29.5 followed by a 28 third sectional and a 28.9 run home. War Dan wouldn’t lie down, but Duke Of Wellington was too classy – despite covering more ground – and held a 1.5m buffer at the wire to record a 1:54.6 mile rate. “He got a bit wobbly at the start … he over-raced quite a bit during the first lap, too. Eventually he settled at the 1200m and I was just hoping too much damage wasn’t done by then,” Manning said. Rishi ran third, with Jilliby Chevy and Somebeachshadow rounding out the top five Plate finishers. Duke Of Wellington is raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth. He has had five runs for three wins with Manning since moving to Australia after a successful New Zealand three-year-old campaign. “He’s had a little time between runs this time in, so he’s still on the way up I think,” Manning said. “His fitness is pretty good. That’ll top him off nicely.” Meanwhile, trainer Stephen Telfer combined with local reinsman John Caldow to win the Allied Express Jodi’s Babe with five-year-old Art Major mare Our Step Up, who led throughout from gate two in 1:54.0 over 1720m. Our Step Up finished 1.5m clear of Reciprocity, who was charging home for Manning in second place, with Share The Road third and Juice Brogdon fourth.  Race favourite Berisari failed to beat a runner home. Highly rated Andy Gath-trained trotter McLovin won the 2Contstruct Scotch Notch Memorial over 2240m in 2:01.0 with Kate Gath in the gig. The last-start Charlton Cup winner made it back-to-back successes by finishing 4.7m clear of stablemate Kingdom Come, with polemarker Jerichos Trumpet third and consistent Savannah Jay Jay fourth. Michael Stanley trained and drove Watch List to win the Group 3 VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic in 1:55.7 over 2240m, the $5.9 second-favourite out-sprinting the $2.1 punters’ elect Crime Writer by 2.1m. Stanley sent Watch List to the front from barrier three early before handing up and using the sprint lane late. Titan Bromac finished third, 3m from the winner, with Perfect Major fourth. Driver Kima Frenning combined with trainer David Aiken to win the night’s sprint feature, the 1200m Quest for Success Stampede, with four-year-old Mach Three gelding Higherthananeagle. Predicted fireworks didn’t eventuate as Frenning found the lead easily from gate two before thoroughly dictating terms in a gross time of 1:22.2 to jog home by 8.7m over Benicio and Vinny Chase, who both followed the peg line, with Vee Rock fourth. If the sparks had flown horses in this race might have broken 80seconds. Check out the full results from tonight’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting   Kerryn Manning’s $50,000+ Feature Race Wins  1997 Australasian Trotting Championship Final $125k – Knight Pistol  1999 El Dorado Final (3YO C&G) $150k – Sky Strike  2000 Vicbred Super Series (4YO Mares) Final $100k – Jilliby Magic 2000 Chariots of Fire $200k – Lombo Rapida 2000 Vicbred Super Series (3YO Fillies) Final $100k – Jilliby Melody 2001 Vicbred Super Series (4YO Trotters) Final $50k – La Coocaracha  2001 Bill Collins Trotters Mile $50k – La Coocaracha  2001 Australian Trotting Grand Prix $100k – La Coocaracha 2002 SA Trotters Cup $50k – La Coocaracha 2002 Australasian Trotters Championship $100k – La Coocaracha  2002 Rowe Memorial Cup, NZ $100k – La Coocaracha 2002 Legends Mile $50k – Hearts Legend 2003 Australian Pacing Gold Final (2YO C&G) $288k – Kathryn Dancer 2003 Vicbred Super Series (2YO C&G) Final $100k – Blatant Lie  2003 Australian Pacing Gold 3YO C&G $100k – Blatant Lie 2003 Australian Pacing Gold 3YO Fillies $100k – Yada Yada Yada 2004 Australian Pacing Gold 2YO C&G Final $300k – Emmas Only 2004 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Broke As Usual  2004 Vicbred Super Series (2YO Fillies) Final $100k – Kinda Arty Lombo 2004 Breeders Crown (2YO C&G) Final $190k – Emmas Only 2004 Kilmore Cup $100k – True Cam 2004 Bill Collins Trotters Mile $50k – Sammy Do Good  2005 Victoria Derby $150k – Emmas Only 2005 Vicbred Super Series (4YO E&G) Final $100k – Blatant Lie 2005 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Tennotrump  2005 Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotters Final $50k – Split Image 2007 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Donttellmehetrots 2007 George Johnson $50k – No More Trouble  2008 Tatlow Stakes 2YO Fillies Final $50k – Ananz 2008 Victoria Trotters Oaks $50k – Mystic Hush 2008 NSW Sires Stakes 2YO Fillies Final $100k – Ananz 2010 Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies Final $300k – Leilani Lombo 2010 Vicbred Super Series (3YO Trotters) Final $50k – Mister Castleton 2015 A.G. Hunter Cup $400k – Arden Rooney  2015 Mildura Pacing Cup $50k – Arden Rooney 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup $765k – Arden Rooney  2017 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final $50k – Imprincessgemma 2017 Breeders Crown Graduate Free for All $60k – Ameretto 2017 Norm’s Daughter $50k – Ameretto 2018 Ladyship Cup $100k – Our Golden Goddess 2018 Queen of the Pacific $100k – Ameretto 2019 City of Melton Plate $50k – Duke Of Wellington     Cody Winnell for Trots Media

The Kilmore track is always going to hold a special place in the heart of long-time harness racing owner-trainer-breeder Ken Ward. Ward, who is based at Chintin, near Romsey, an hour north of Melbourne, landed a winning double at the Kilmore meeting – his first in over 50 years in the sport. “It’s certainly been a long time coming, but I don’t prepare big numbers, so I’ve probably been a little restricted,” Ward said. “I really regard harness racing as a bit like riding a ferris wheel though, and you’ve got enjoy the high-points!” Ward took out the Jet Roofing Pace with six-year-old gelding Village Skipper (Village Jasper USA-Skipper Patricia (Cam’s Trickster USA) then scored later in the program in the Kilmore Art Expo Pace Final with four-year-old gelding Jamieson Steele (Million Dollar Cam USA-Lady Jade Skipper (Safe and Sound). Both winners were handled in expert fashion by David Miles, who is in brilliant form at the moment. “It’s probably a little different than most people, but we’ve never raced a horse which we haven’t bred ourselves,” Ward explained. “I guess it’s a bit special when you go the whole journey with them, starting off with the breeding part, then watching them grow in the paddock, sorting out names, education and then getting to the track,” he said. Jamieson Steele “All of our horses originate from one mare, Bye Bye Jade (Adios Green-Pleasing (Dancer Hanover) that I got many years ago from my grandfather the late Jack McKay.” “Minyip Jack”, as he was known, was an owner and trainer, who partnered with the famous Melbourne Showgrounds trainer, Jack McKay, who ironically shared the same name, but was no relation. Despite his family involvement, Ward said his interest in the sport probably went back to when he was a young schoolboy and spent many hours watching Gisborne trainer Bernie Robinson prepare his team, headed by the smart pacer, Heroic Action. “I pretty much had the bug back then and have always loved horses,” he said. “We’re lucky because for us it’s a real family affair.  My wife Pat and I breed them, and we race them in partnership with one of our daughters Carissa, who is our eldest, and who works in payroll administration in Melbourne. Our other daughter Hailey also loves getting involved.” Village Skipper is now a four times winner, posting three of his victories this season. The gelding was responsible for a huge run at Kilmore. After settling at least 10 lengths off the lead after being caught wide early, he later went three and four wide down the back for the last time. In a war of attrition, Village Skipper got the upper hand to score. “He can hit a knee a little and there’s some maintenance needed with him, but he does put in,” Ward said. “I actually told young Jayden Barker, who works for our driver David Miles, that he could take the horse home win, lose or draw. At my age, my word is my bond so despite winning the race, Jayden now has him for 12 months. “Jayden gets a junior claim so he should have some fun with him.” Ken Ward The second leg of the memorable Ward double was recorded by Jamieson Steele, in a strong performance from a back-row draw. “It took him 18 starts to break his maiden status because he was a big, slow learner,” Ward said. “To be honest I really didn’t like the horse much at all in the early days. Then one day I took the block winkers off and put a shadow roll on and he settled down greatly,” he said. “Now he’s putting it together and learning how to follow helmets and I think he has a bright future.  This season has been quite good with two wins and three placings from seven outings.” Ward is pinning his hopes on a trio of two-year-olds, sired by Roll With Joe, Grinfromeartoear and Julius Caesar. “I also have an Auckland Reactor weanling filly out of a lovely mare in Skip On Broadway.  She looks the goods and is without doubt the best-looking horse I’ve had in 11 or 12 years,” he said. The Ward stable has produced a few handy performers over the years including Skipper Carissa, a winner of 15 races (eight of these at Moonee Valley) and 20 placings; and Haileys Skipper, who recorded 13 wins (one metropolitan) and 24 placings. “We have a 70-acre property and all of us are involved. I recently retired after working as a Lands Inspector and in the Quarantine service, so I’m full-time with the horses now,” he said. “I may have a team of four in training soon, although with winter approaching, perhaps three is the ideal number.” Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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

33 to 48 of 4569