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

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) issues the following statement regarding today’s media release from Victoria Police, which states that “in relation to alleged harness race fixing in Shepparton … a 49- year-old Kilmore man was charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, and use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes” (read Victoria Police media release here). Quotes attributable to HRV General Manager – Integrity Brent Fisher: “HRV welcomes ongoing cooperation with Victoria Police. “Today’s charges came about following a HRV investigation, which saw the HRV Integrity Unit identify suspicious activity at Shepparton on 17 July, 2018, secure evidence and alert Victoria Police for further investigation. “As charges have been laid HRV will not be commenting any further on this matter.”   Harness Racing Victoria

Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) detectives have charged a man today in relation to alleged harness race fixing in Shepparton. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) contacted police following suspicious activity in a race during a meeting on 17 July, 2018. The HRV Integrity Unit initially identified the need for further investigation into this race on the night, secured evidence and referred the matter to Victoria Police. SIIU investigators subsequently commenced a criminal investigation into the matter. A 49-year-old Kilmore man has been charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, and use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes. He is due to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 24 June, 2019. Victoria Police maintains close relations with HRV and other key industry partners in order to monitor activity, detect irregularities, and collect intelligence. The SIIU was established in 2013 and has focused on the collection, analysis and appropriate sharing of intelligence relating to sporting integrity issues in Victoria. The unit continues to work with racing and sporting bodies to enhance knowledge and awareness of identified sports integrity issues. Any person wishing to report sports corruption within the racing industry or other sports urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au Natalie Webster Media Officer

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

The six-year-old debutant’s priced at $21 in tonight’s Ararat opener and on the ease, but it’s about much more than just winning for The Butcher’s trainer-driver Bernie Poulton, who can’t wait to settle back into the sulky and honour a mate. For the first time since Jollie Jeparit’s fifth placing at a Horsham mid-week meeting on February 21, 2007, Poulton will take the reins in a race tonight when The Butcher steps out from gate eight in the Ararat HRC Members Pace at 6.33pm. “It’s the thrill of racing, I just really like it,” Poulton, 69, said. “I can’t get that out of the system.” From 1994-95 to 2006-07 he had 201 starts as a trainer for 11 wins and 185 starts as a driver for six wins, having “always had a couple going around”. Among the best of them was Miss Rainmaker, a six-time winner who he co-owned with friend Eric Hahne, a local butcher of 50 years. “(Eric) loved his horses. He was always in them with me and never missed a night at the trots.” Mr Hahne sadly passed two years ago and Poulton shares ownership of The Butcher with his late mate’s three daughters, Tanya Hahne, Belinda Lees and Danielle Meenks. Tonight's debutant is by Denver Gift and out of Miss Rainmaker, who was “one of Eric’s favourites”, and Poulton said he “always wanted to get (The Butcher) to the races for Eric”, but that would prove a challenge. “(The Butcher) was pretty bloody cranky early on. Six months ago he was still silly as a wheel, but I changed his feed and a few things and he’s seemed to turned the corner. He still has a way to go, but I just want him to get out there and get around safely.” And the same goes for Poulton himself, who will have his first race drive in 12 years and plans a rails run from gate eight. “I’ve been up in helicopters, crop dusting, done a lot of things, but I still love to sit in a sulky.”   Michael Howard Trots Media

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

Harness racing hobby trainer Wayne Anderson admits he couldn't hide his excitement when he watched his horse win the feature event at Cobram's annual Pink Day for Breast Cancer on Sunday. "It was my biggest win in nearly 40 years in the sport - gee it was a huge thrill and I know I was cheering at the top of my voice all the way down the straight," he said. Four-year-old bay gelding My Magic Merlin (Mach Three-Making Magic (Fake Left) showed great tenacity to take out the Paul Roberts Jewellers Invitation Lady Drivers Pace at bolter's odds of 20/1. "We haven't had him all that long, but he's shown he can do it tough," Anderson, who is based at Barnawartha, a small town in north-east Victoria, said. "Over the years we've had some nice horses that could work the clock down, but his trackwork leading up to Cobram was unbelieveable. "There were a few sheep grazing close to our track one day and he just got all cranky and nearly bolted. But he felt so good! "I spoke with (driver) Kima Frenning before the race and we decided our best chance was to make it into a staying race." And the bold plan paid dividends as My Magic Merlin was able to outstay Vena May (Lisa Miles) who was sent out a hot $1.20 favorite. Vena May took control from early leader Sheer Modern (Bec Bartley) and rolled along at a reasonable clip. Frenning speared through from the back row to be one-out and two-back, but soon pulled out confidently and moved to outside the leader. The top two raced head-and-head over the final stages with My Magic Merlin getting in front 50 metres from the wire to land a huge upset. Race Replay COBRAM Sunday Race 6 Frenning said she loved getting the win for the passionate harness racing family. "The whole Anderson family was very excited - they love their horses and that's what it's all about," she said. "I'd watched a few of the horse's race videos and Wayne was correct because the horse was more tough than speedy. "The win was a bonus because I was just so glad to be part of the special day." Cobram has certainly been a happy hunting ground for the 27-year-old former Monte rider, who originally came to Australia on a three-month backpacking holiday to get away from another cold Swedish winter. Kima Frenning                                   --Cobram HRC photo The popular horsewoman has won the past two previous Cobram Cups with Im The Boss and Buster Brady. "Yes, I do seem to have much success at the track, but I enjoy it, and the people are just great," Frenning said. My Magic Merlin was purchased by the Anderson clan about three months ago from the strong Grant Dixon stable, at Mount Tamborine, in the Hinterland overlooking the famous Gold Coast in Queensland. Dam of the pacer, Making Magic, was a consistent racemare with 15 wins and 22 placings for over $130,000 when prepared by Dixon's father Bill, during the 2008-11 seasons. Macheasy, a full brother to My Magic Merlin, is a C9 class gelding with 14 wins and 19 placings for $75,000, trained by Grant. Anderson said he believed a change in feed and a different workload had helped My Magic Merlin to hit top form. "If he can keep on improving, I might just see a dream come true and aim at a Melton race in Melbourne," he said. "That would be special, and even better if our son Chris could drive him."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

In addition to the sweet taste of victory Saturday night's racing at Tabcorp Park was also an opportunity to fine tune for the forthcoming Vicbred Super Series, with several victors signalling their intention to tackle the sires' stakes. Chief among them was Mirragon, winner of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Home Grown Classic for two-year-old boys, a Group 2 that was snapped up by 3.6m for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. "The horse did a terrific job and I think he's going to have a nice future and (the owners) are going to have a lot of fun with him," Sugars said. Mirragon was able to outpace stablemate and leader Pandering from the breeze to register a third win from four starts, the only blot on his copybook being a fifth in his Australian Pacing Gold heat when he broke while challenging for the early lead. "It's pretty unlucky that the only time things didn't go to plan it was in a pretty important race," Sugars said. "He's certainly got the talent and the ability to say he wouldn't have been out of place in a race like the APG, it just wasn't our day that day and it didn't all go to plan. "Anyway, that's in the past now, but apart from that all his race track performances have been pretty handy." Mirragon will likely be well favoured for the Alabar Vicbred Super Series for two-year-old colts and geldings, which kicks off with the heats at Bendigo on June 18 ahead of the June 29 semi-finals and July 6 finals, both at Tabcorp Park Melton. The three-year-old colts and geldings heats will follow at Kilmore on June 20 and Watch List looms as a likely starter after the Mick Stanley trained and driven colt, whose owners include AFL footballers Josh Jenkins, Tex Walker, Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch and Michael Hurley, added a fifth straight win in Saturday's DNR Logistics Pace Final. "He's just a horse who, as he's matured and got a bit smarter, he keeps stepping up, so rapt with how he's progressing," Stanley told TrotsVision in the wake of Saturday night's victory. "Although (Vicbred) is going to be another step up ... he's shown that he's worthy of a go so we'll probably head there and then give him a spell after that." Saturday night was also a chance for four-year-old mare Parisian Opera to push her claims for the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting title, with heats to be held at Kilmore on June 27 ahead of the July 5 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Parisian Opera won Saturday night's last race, the TAB Multiplier 4YO Trot, for trainer Anton Golino and reinsman Jason Lee, who said the Ready Cash mare had "come a long way". "She was only a T0 when she first kicked off her campaign, now she's a TM1 and she's done a terrific job. The team at home have done a terrific job. "Just had a quick chat to (trainer) Anton (Golino) on the phone earlier and he just wanted to set her for the sires. Get through tonight, she wasn't wound down, she's been pretty kind to since her last run. He just said that she would need tonight's run, but she was obviously just good enough to be able to hang on and he'll set her for the sires."   HRV Trots Media

Surprise packet Savannah Jay Jay will be hoping to carve another fairytale chapter tomorrow night when the low-flying eight-year-old trotter zeroes in on Ballarat's trotting cup. The John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup, at 8.40pm at Bray Raceway, is the penultimate race of the Maori's Idol Trotting Championship, in which Shaun McNaulty's Fratellino has an unassailable lead. Savannah Jay Jay can jump to equal third with victory tomorrow night, which would add to his earlier success in November's St Arnaud Cup and, of course, last Saturday's Schweppes Australasian Trotting Championship win, which delivered trainer Stan Cameron and reinsman James Herbertson their maiden Group 1. "I had no idea that he could run the whole journey out," Cameron told RSN 927's program One Out One Back. "I thought, if he got a bit of cover he would have been right, but right up to the end I was right up on my toes I tell you. The horse just kept on fighting and fighting and fighting to the end." Savannah Jay Jay was priced a $2.25 chance at the TAB.com.au for the John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup, a win that would mean the world to Cameron. "I had a fair bit to do with John years ago," he said. "John used to always get a ride down to the start on the side of the cart, he used to always say 'you need to do this, you need to do that'. I picked up a fair few pointers off him over the years. He was a great bloke."   HRV Trots Media

It's full steam ahead for Michael Stanley's Grand Circuit star Soho Tribeca after a successful return to the trials at Tabcorp Park Melton yesterday. Stanley partnered the six-year-old in a modest hit-out alongside stablemate Rackemup Tigerpie, who was driven by Gavin Lang. Soho Tribeca won the trial by a narrow margin, zipping home in a 57.48-second last half. The Burrumbeet-based Stanley said he was pleased with how both horses got through the run. "They both stepped away really clean and went the first lap pretty steady. We just let them find their feet and then just upped the pace gradually," he said. "They both hit the line under a hold and had a really good hit-out without going over the top first-up." Soho Tribeca hasn’t been seen at the races since July 2018 after fracturing a leg in the Sunshine Sprint in Queensland. Successful surgery and a long rehabilitation program has followed to get the star pacer back at the track, which is likely to occur in the Del-Re National Italian Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday, June 15. "Soho Tribeca will have a couple more trials and we will gradually increase the speed we go - just step him up each time," Stanley said. Stanley said it had been a long road to recovery for the one-time Inter Dominion favourite. "He spent three months in Queensland (post surgery) and then spent another three months here (at Burrumbeet) pretty well locked up in a small stable and taken out for a walk," he said. "It's been a long, slow process and now we are back to somewhere where we can start thinking about getting to the races again. "When it first happened you are always fearful they might not race again, so at least we have got to a stage where it looks a real possibility we are going to get back there." Rackemup Tigerpie, who last raced in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire in February, is being aimed at the Alabar Vicbred Super Series, which has heats in Ballarat on June 21. Stanley said he was likely to give the son of Rock N Roll Heaven one lead-up run prior to the start of the series. Arguably the horse's career-best effort came in last year's Group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cup when he finished a narrow second to Thefixer. Stanley sent around four other horses at Tuesday's trial program, including Macey Jayde, Vicstar Sharazzz, Iolanta and Keilah. Macey Jayde is also being sent towards the Vicbred Super Series, while Stanley was full of praise for Iolanta, an unraced two-year-old Bettors Delight filly who looks "above average".     Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

American author Earl Nightingale once wrote: Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. It's a well-used quote, but it still rings true - especially for harness racing's Ken Browne who was last week rewarded for his persistence in never giving up on a goal. Browne, of Gruyere, 50 km north east of Melbourne, could well be the oldest driver to land his maiden victory after driving his first-ever winner just a few days short of his 67th birthday. And after 173 attempts, the win carried a touch of polish that's for sure. After being locked away three back the pegs for most of the trip in the $7000 Trotters Handicap at Cranbourne, Browne moved out quick as a flash when a runner on his outside went off-stride. In a winning move, he slid up to the death seat with 600 metres to go with Chrisken Kiosk (Noopy Kiosk-Baby Button (Safely Kept USA) to join leader Just Anything (Gavin Lang) and got the upper hand, albeit narrowly, right on the wire. To watch race replay Click here! "Now that I've got the monkey off my back, I reckon the next winner will come a lot sooner. I've finally done it, so it will be way easier," Browne joked. Browne has harbored an ambition for over 20 years to get what he calls that "elusive quadrella" of breeding, owning, training and driving a winner. "If I could do that, I always thought it would be a rather big achievement. Just something quite special," he said. "I told my son Chris (his name combined with that of his father forms Chrisken) that when I finally got that long-awaited winner, I would give a salute with the whip going across the finish line. "But I didn't do it because, to be honest, I wasn't certain that I'd won and I didn't want to make myself look silly. "The race camera operator followed me around after the finish line which is usually a good indication that he thought I'd won, but it took ages for the numbers to go up. "I honestly can't remember how I felt. I recall thinking wow I just beat the ice man (Gavin Lang)!" Browne said he had a few drinks that night to celebrate after the reality sank in. "I think I may have overdone the Bundaberg Red Rum because I didn't pull up all that well the next day," he laughed. "I'd come close a few times with some second placings, and there's been quite a lot more thirds. My first-ever second was with Gordonsville, a pacer I purchased off Gordon Turner. "We also had a good run with a pacer named High Tech Fury, but reinsman Michael Bellman did the majority of driving with him." While Browne's needed persistence to notch up his first winner as a driver, he bobs up with a winner or two each season as a trainer, with Chrisken Kiosk his 16th career success. Browne's entry into the sport goes back to 1994 when he attended a clearing sale held by respected industry breeder/owner Kevin Riseley, of Sheron Park. "I paid $2000 for a weanling out of the first crop sired by Safely Kept," he said. "That horse was later to become Baby Button, who was dual-gaited. I raced her as a pacer because of her breeding, but I'm now wishing I'd given her a go as a trotter." Baby Button has had four foals, two of which have got to the races, with the obvious star being Chrisken Kiosk with six wins and 27 placings for over $60,000. Browne said he was virtually forced into obtaining a B Grade driver's licence 10 years ago when he was finding it difficult to get drivers at the trials. "The situation was that we'd have one trial of five horses and five drivers would turn up. There were no spares so a few times I ended up fast-working mine by themselves after the trials to get their fastwork done," he said. Browne is hoping that his seven-year-old stable star Chrisken Kiosk has at least another two seasons left in him. "He doesn't win out of turn, but he's so consistent. There's a bit of a trick to him and that's in his feet-he has to be shod a certain way or otherwise he's hopeless," Browne said. "We try and pick out the most suitable races for him and if that means travelling to Terang, Ballarat or even further, then that's what we do. "We are having a heap of fun and I have to thank Peter Goudie for allowing us to be stabled at his place. In addition to the trotter, we have a 2yo pacer by Metropolitan named Bundy Red, which I'm hoping is real good. He has to be with that name!" Browne said while he had nearly worn out the video replay of his winning drive, he was now eagerly awaiting the race photograph which would take pride of place on the lounge room wall.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Several in-form stables are targeting one of country Victoria's richest harness racing series for lowly-assessed pacers. The 2019 Mitavite Northern Region Championship, hosted by far north-west sister clubs Swan Hill, Ouyen and Mildura, gets underway tonight (Wednesday May 22) for C1 to C2 horses. The first round of qualifying heats at Swan Hill boasts representatives from the Shepparton-based stables of Laura Crossland-David Moran and Amanda Turnbull, as well as Glenn Douglas and Chris Svanosio of Bendigo; Leroy and Danny O'Brien of Armstrong; and Melton-based Rob O'Connell. Link: Swan Hill Fields https://www.harness.org.au/racing/fields/race-fields/?mc=FD220519 The spotlight then moves to Ouyen on June 2 with a second round of heats, going into a $25,000 final at Mildura on June 6. Douglas, who has won the championship several times in the past, said he always hopes to have an ideal runner up and going for the series each year. "You really don't get these sorts of races for this class of horse - they just don't come along very often," he said. "There's terrific stakemoney up for offer right through the three meetings and the big bonus is the final is worth $25,000 but the winner takes only a country penalty," he said. "The first three heats have attracted some nice horses, who are sure to go onto bigger things. The Swan Hill track is big and spacious so I think there could be some quick times recorded there." Douglas always enjoys heading north from his central Victorian base because he spent four years in the Northern Region in the late 1990s. His career was kick-started training horses for Eric and Heather Anderson, the parents of his wife Julie, who were at the time based in the Robinvale-Euston district. "We had some good times up there before we all up and moved to our present training complex at Bendigo. It just made sense to come down here because there's less travel and we're much closer to many more tracks," he said. Douglas has former Kiwi pacer Dublin Street in the first heat. He said while the mare was honest, she was going to have to produce her very best as The Brooklyn Brawler (David Moran) and Think About Me (Brad Chisholm) were full of class. "This will be a measuring stick for our horse, that's for sure," Douglas said. His next runner is Artistic Saint in the second qualifying heat, owned by enthusiastic Swan Hill horseman and club vice-President Noel Watson. "I'd love to get the money for Noel because he'd be over the moon with a hometown victory. I'll be wearing Noel's race colors, the colors of his beloved St Kilda Football Club, so that would be another reason for him to get excited," Douglas said. "I've actually got a bit of an opinion about this horse. His first start back after five or six months off when he finished third was enormous. "It was a super run because they went quick. He had a few things go wrong in his previous preparation, but they appear to be behind him now, thankfully." The third heat should see smart youngster Im Sir Blake continue on his winning way. World champion reinswoman Kerryn Manning has big wraps on the O'Brien-trained horse, who was sensational in winning during the recent Mildura Pacing Cup carnival. "He's just below the very best going around in Victoria - he's a lovely little fella and I thoroughly enjoy driving him," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

When the surrounds of the Cobram harness racing track are a sea of pink this Sunday, no one will be happier than one of the dynamos driving the success of this now-iconic day. She doesn't look for accolades or pats on the back - as with all things she tackles, Donna Castles just jumps in and gets things done! But the annual Cobram Pink Day has now raised more than $130,000 for the Jane McGrath Foundation and you have to wonder where Donna gets her passion and energy. "I originally jumped on board as a driver in 2016 and I also gave the Cobram guys a bit of a hand with things - but it was actually while we were working on that race day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself," Donna said. "I was lucky to be diagnosed when I was, but like everyone when it happens, I really didn't have time for it. I had a 13-year-old daughter, I had 20 horses in work. It wasn't that convenient!" she remembers. "I didn't tell too many people and I just got on with getting the chemotherapy and radiation treatment and doing my best. "I got pretty sick at times, but I couldn't let myself just sit around, so as much as I could, I kept things together, going to the trots - wearing hats!" Donna Castles     - HRV photo Now in its ninth year, Donna's experience was one of the catalysts that's pushed the Cobram Pink Day to the next level. It raised $12,000 in 2016, $18,000 in 2017 and, last year, $27,000 for the McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurses. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life, and McGrath Foundation nurses help individuals and their families with free physical, psychological and emotional support. The energetic Cobram Harness Racing Club administrators Marg and Bob Watson are the backbone of the Pink Day success, along with the enthusiasm of the invited drivers and Nikita Ross at HRV. Donna said as difficult as the diagnosis and treatment were, it gave her a new perspective on life - and on the Pink Day. "The thing is, it happens, you can't do anything about it, you just have to soldier on. But when it happens, it does change you and I don't think a lot of people realise how precious life is until that moment," she said. "I think it's really just one of those things that, in some way, breast cancer seems to touch everyone. If you're lucky enough not to have had to deal with it yourself, you know someone close to you who has. It's just amazing how much support people are prepared to give for that reason." Coming up to three years cancer-free, Donna is more energised than ever about Cobram Pink Day. Invited reinswomen (Ellen Bartley, Rebecca Bartley, Juanita Breen, Monique Burnett, Rita Burnett, Donna Castles, Laura Crossland, Kima Frenning, Lisa Miles, Ellen Tormey, Abbey Turnbull and Tania Ward) will contest the $10,000 Paul Roberts Jewellers Jane McGrath Foundation Invitational on Sunday. Monique Burnett and Ellen Tormey have been two of the invited drivers wearing the pink pants throughout May --photo courtesy Cobram HRC   With the support of HRV, they've been wearing the eye-catching pink pants throughout the month of May to promote the fundraiser. "It creates a bit of interest, a bit of discussion about why they're wearing pink, and the girls have been amazing in selling raffle tickets and promoting the cause," Donna said. This year the raffle prize is a $3000 holiday voucher plus luggage for first (2nd a $1000 Visa voucher, 3rd $500 Visa voucher, 4th-7th $100 Visa vouchers), but the club has previously raffled a car, a sulky and a "roomful" of donated items. Each year the energetic team draws new supporters into the fold and this year has assembled a massive list of more than 20 major sponsors. "We decided to go with something this year that everyone could use - a travel voucher is fantastic because it doesn't matter whether you want to go to Queensland or overseas, it's a great prize," Donna said. The festival atmosphere of the Cobram Pink Day (this year with a mechanical bull, kids entertainment and a lucky gate prize of a five-day holiday at Ashmore Village in Queensland) has established the event as a favorite with trainers, owners and the community. "The thing with harness racing is that when something goes wrong for someone in the sport, and we've seen it time and time again, people embrace it and offer support them and give a hand when they need it," Donna said. "It's the same with this - we've barely had anyone turn us down for support because everyone feels that connection. "In harness racing, we're all in the same house but we live in different rooms. We're competitors, but harness racing people pull together and that's the fabulous thing about Pink Day and being involved with it. I love it." Six trainers in every race at Cobram on Sunday will receive Carbine Chemicals Products or Hygain products and in the ladies' invitational every trainer will receive Carbine Chemical product and a Hygain showbag. A lucky trainer's draw with a set of Hyland colors is also on offer, along with a trainers' encouragement award for 14 days at Harkaway horse water walker.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The winners will be many at Cobram this Sunday when the spoils of the fundraising day will benefit a great cause but also reward those putting on the show. Cobram Harness Racing Club's annual Pink Day, which raises money for and awareness of the McGrath Foundation, will have plenty of prizes to help race goers, the charity minded and participants to get into the Pink Day spirit. This year’s major fundraiser is once again a raffle, with tickets sold to win the major prize of a $3000 travel toucher thanks to Flightcentre Marketplace Shepparton as well as luggage valued at $1000. Minor prizes of $1000, $500 and $100 Visa Gift Cards will also be drawn. There will be a lucky entry draw with all on-course patrons having the chance to win a Gold Coast accommodation package valued at $1600 donated by Ashmore Palms Holiday Village, as well as $200 holiday package vouchers. Trainers will have plenty of reasons to nominate their horses for the meeting with six trainers in each race being drawn throughout the day to take home products thanks to Carbine Chemicals and Hygain, as well as a lucky trainers draw for the chance to win a set of Hyland Colours. The feature race on the card is the Paul Roberts Jewellers Invitation Lady Drivers Pace. The $10,000 C1 class event will see horses randomly allocated to the following drivers: Ellen Bartley, Rebecca Bartley, Juanita Breen, Monique Burnett, Rita Burnett, Donna Castles, Laura Crossland, Kima Frenning, Lisa Miles, Ellen Tormey, Abbey Turnbull and Tania Ward. All trainers with a starter in this race will receive a Carbine Chemicals product and a Hygain-Mitavite showbag, with the winning trainer also taking home a new set of hopples donated by Trot Pace, as well as further prizes for the runners up.   Last year’s fundraising efforts raised more than $27,000 for the McGrath Foundation, which assists in placing breast care nurses in country areas, with organisers hoping to raise a similar amount for the charity once again. Raffle tickets can be purchased from any of the female drivers competing in the race or by contacting the club on 0409 401 189. Nominations for the race day close at noon tomorrow. For race day details click here.   Trots Media

PUNTERS think champion driver Chris Alford’s 51st birthday will be extra special at Melton on Saturday night. Alford is perched on 99 Group 1 career wins after missing out reaching the ton with minor placings in the two Australian Gold finals at Albion Park last Saturday night. But his drive in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton – Tell Me Tales – has been smashed in from $2.60 to $1.85 favourite despite a back row draw (gate 11). And it just happens to coincide with the day Alford turns 51. “It all looks good, doesn’t it … home track, a mare I love, my birthday … I think she’s going to be very hard to beat,” Alford said. “The longer distance (2760m) will really suit her. She won so well a couple of weeks back and I watched her run last week and it was huge given the run she had. “I’m sure she’s the best mare in the race and she can make her own luck, which gives you so much confidence.” Tell Me Tales sat parked to brilliantly win the first leg of Victoria’s mares’ “triple crown” the 1720m Make Mine Cullen on May 4, then did a power of work when a fantastic third to stablemate Berisari in last week’s 2240m Angelique Club Pace at Melton. “The draw gives us a great chance of staying in front of Berisari and working forward from there. She drew well and controlled the race in front last week, the draws makes it a lot harder for her this time,” Alford said. In an astonishing example of trainer Emma Stewart’s dominance, she has five of the 12 runners, including three of the first four in betting. Her runners are: Tell Me Tales (gate 11, $1.85), Berisari (13, $5), Delight Me (three, $8.50), Pistol Abbey (four, $34) and Frankincense (two, $41). Alford actually has an outside chance of bringing up his 100th Group 1 win earlier in the night with veteran trotter Kyvalley Blur, who is a $10 shot of a 10m handicap in the $50,000 Australian Trotting Championship. Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter McLovin (barrier one, $2.80) is favourite from the rejuvenated Savannah Jay Jay (two, $3.20).   Adam Hamilton

Bendigo harness racing hobby trainer Dylan Marshall is far from convinced he's found the secret to his mare Barbie Mattgregor - despite her winning two of her past four starts. "You would probably confidently think 'yes' I have got her to turn the corner; but the honest answer is more like a 'no'!" Marshall said. "The horse can be a lovely little thing, but she has attitude and is very moody. She also has a few other issues, mainly involving muscles. But don't get me wrong, she can be fast when her head is in the game." Marshall said Barbie Mattgregor (Rob Roy Mattgregor-My Barbie Doll (In The Pocket) had been tried by a handful of other trainers in Queensland and New South Wales, before coming to Victoria. "She's had about 30 starts and been sent out favorite in probably 10 of those, so I'm perhaps at the end of the queue," he said. But the mare was on song last week that's for sure, with an impressive win at Maryborough (her second there in a little over a month). And just maybe Marshall is under-selling the work he's doing! "It was just another perfect drive by Greg Sugars because if the horse lands in a good spot and does little work, she can sprint hard for about 400 metres," Marshall said. When the well-supported Whata Challenge ($6.50 into $2.10 favorite on fixed odds) zipped to the lead, Sugars was quick to jump on its back. With a steady pace, Barbie Mattgregor was in second gear awaiting her chance. That came on the home corner when Sugars pulled out and worked home best to the wire. The win made it a quartet for the crack young reinsman from Larajay Farm, Myrniong. Barbie Mattgregor, who was ignored in betting, starting at 25/1, is one of five horses trained by Marshall and his partner Tayla Fellows. The pair are based at a property opposite Lord's Raceway, Bendigo. Marshall was born into harness racing, growing up in Tasmania. "My (late) dad Peter was a trainer-driver, so I was always going to follow in his footsteps. I trained horses and drove back home and that's continued on since I crossed to the mainland," he said. "We just keep ticking along and I suppose we've had a fair bit of success, mainly through 'second-handers', which we don't mind. "Steve Clements (of Brisbane Pastoral Company) has been great in sending us a few over the years. We've now got some young ones along with a half-sister to Carl Mattgregor, who has won six races for us." Marshall, who works as a diesel mechanic, said he was unable to take time off from his job to attend meetings held during the day. "That's the way it goes. But everything is working out great with Tayla being in charge at the past two Maryborough meetings where Barbie Mattgregor has been successful," he said. "Tayla does fast work with me and other stables chores, so it's working out nice for us."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

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