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EMMA Stewart’s dominance of the rich Vicbred finals night reached new levels last night (Saturday). Stewart and co-trainer Clayton Tonkin took a thumping 23 pacers to Melton to contest the six Group 1 finals. Not only did they win five of the six finals (and ran second and third in the other), but they also snared the trifecta in four of the finals and the quinella in five of them. Their greatest dominance came in the 3YO colts and geldings final where they trained the first four home: Out To Play beating Demon Delight, Fourbigmen and Hurricane Harley. Although Chris Alford does the bulk of the stable driving, he only landed two of their Group 1 winners last night with drive of the night aboard Tam Major in the 4YO entires and geldings and Kualoa in the 3YO fillies. Greg Sugars drove Maajida to a powerhouse 2YO fillies win over stablemates Amelia Rose and Jemstone. David Moran teamed with pint-sized 4YO mare Pistol Abbey to add to her wonderful season. And Gavin Lang, long-time No.1 driver for the stable, was back in the fold to win on Out To Play. It took a lovely drive and monster upset for Yejele Hammer to deny Stewart and Tonkin and cleansweep of the final in the 2YO colts and geldings. Trained and driven by Mick Stanley, Yejele Hammer had the gun run behind Stewart’s leader Pandering with favourite and another Stewart runner, Mirragon, on the outside. Just when it seemed Mirragon was set to win, Yejele Hammer found daylight and powered home to win at $55 with Mirragon second and Pandering third. Most of the stars of Vicbred finals night now plot a course towards the Breeders Crown. _______________________________________________________________________________________ A TRIP to Queensland is still a goer for Majordan despite his surprise defeat at Menangle last night (Saturday). Kevin Pizzuto’s star speedster found the task of backing-up just six days after his blazing Group 1 Len Smith Mile win beyond him. It wasn’t helped when he had to run a sizzling 25.9sec lead quarter from the extreme outside draw. Majordan was under pressure at the top of the home straight and weakened for third to Courtsinsession and Loorim Creek in a 1min50.0sec mile. _______________________________________________________________________________________ AUSTRALIA is getting a new $1million harness racing and it will be in NSW, but that’s about all we know at the moment. The exciting news broke last week when the Aussie TAB released a new bet type and it was confirmed revenue from it would fund a string of stakemoney hikes and/or new races in NSW thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds. It is understood the new $1mil race will be a final of a series where horses qualify through heats run across NSW. More details are expected later this month, but it’s clear the race won’t be for open-class horses. _______________________________________________________________________________________ INSIDERS will tell you Gary Hall Sr thinks Ideal Liner is his next Chicago Bull. The champion trainer has loved Ideal Liner since he first joined his stable last year, but he’s really starting to show everyone how good he is this campaign. The son of American Ideal made it seven wins on end, and eight from nine runs this campaign, when he scored at Gloucester Park last Friday night. “He has all the makings of a really, really nice horse and he’ll get his chance to show that next season. He’s doing everything we ask of him now and doing it well,” Hall Sr said. _______________________________________________________________________________________ THE more you see of trotter McLovin, the more you think he can win a really big races. At first the Andy Gath-trained gelding looked fast, but now he’s developed the strength to compliment it. McLovin had to dig deep, but was to the challenge when he sustained a long three-wide run in a sprint race to beat the classy Save Our Pennys in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk free-for-all (1720m) at Melton last Friday night. Since coming to Australia at the start of the year, McLovin has won nine of his 14 starts with another two seconds and two thirds. ___________________________________________________________________________________ POPULAR husband-and-wife team Gary and Debbie Quinlan were left wondering what might have been after their exciting pacer Professor Tom won the free-for-all at Melton last night. The Quinlan’s had pushed and hoped for the gelding to get a run in last week’s Len Smith Mile, but were told he didn’t make the cut. “It was disappointing because he’d gone to another level and this is his window, but we’re thrilled to pick up another win this week,” Debbie Quinlan said.   Adam Hamilton

Millionaire pacer Arden Rooney will make his life after racing debut this weekend. Re-trainer Steve Cox has earmarked the nine-year-old gelding to step into the spotlight as part of a liberty demonstration at the Elmore Equestrian Centre. The demonstration coincides with a three-day qualifying competition for the Equestrian Australia 2020 Inter School Championships. A former New Zealand Cup and Hunter Cup winner who retired prematurely from racing due to injury, ‘Rooney’ commenced his liberty education in February this year. The son of leading sire Bettors Delight has excelled in the new vocation under Cox’s guidance, showing a high level of intelligence and train-ability. He is building an impressive resume of new skills, including bowing, standing on a pedestal, gesturing yes and no and smiling on command. “We have taken Rooney along to a number of dressage competitions since he joined our stable, just to show him that he can go on a float without having to race,” Cox explained. “But this weekend will be the first time we have asked him to reproduce his liberty training away from home. “It’s a good opportunity to introduce him to a different venue and a live audience on a small scale. It will be a huge learning curve for him but we’re looking forward to flying the HERO flag." Saturday night’s show is open to members of the public as well as inter-school competitors, their parents and friends. Arden Rooney’s retraining has been supported by the Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program and his racing owners Merv and Meg Butterworth of Decron Horse Care. Saturday night’s show will commence at 6.30pm. Dinner is available prior at a cost of $25 but bookings are essential. Contact Elmore Equestrian Club via email for more details.   Tanya McDermott

South Australian harness racing horseman Greg Norman, who is on a sojourn in Victoria for the next few months, has taken no time to hit his straps.  Norman, based at the Charlton harness training centre, got the spoils at Horsham last weekend with four-year-old bay gelding Edwin Bromac. “It was the first meeting I’d raced at since moving a few weeks ago, so I guess it was the perfect way to kick off,” a jubilant Norman said. Nothing much went right for the $1.40 favorite Edwin Bromac (Mister Big USA-Elly Bromac (Badlands Hanover USA) in taking out the $7000 Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association Pace but he couldn’t have been more impressive. After starting from the wide seven alley, reinswoman Kerryn Manning decided to push forward, getting an early three wide trail behind ToTheMoonAndBack (Jayson Finnis). However, when Finnis decided to restrain and head back to the tail of the field, Edwin Bromac was forced to drag back as well, having favorite punters with their hearts in their mouths. With a lap to go, Manning was second last and decided the back straight was the time to hit the “go” button. On the home corner, Edwin Bromac loomed up three wide and packed too many guns for his rivals in the run home. Edwin Bromac, raced by Cormack Racing Pty Ltd, comprising father Terry and sons Adam and Paul, scored by seven metres from Girls In Charge (Michael Bellman). “I certainly was happy with the effort because things didn’t really pan out all that ideally,” Norman said. “But Kerryn summed it up nicely and got the job done.” Norman said he had settled in well at Charlton and was looking forward to the rest of his stay. “The plan is for a three-month trial period, but if things work out the right way and we’re all happy, you never know how long I might stay,” he said. “The Charlton people have been tremendous and the club, headed by President Joey Thompson, have been tremendous in assisting us in every possible way. “We really love the town and the training centre facilities are brilliant – and it’s great to see the centre’s on fire at the moment, because Joey landed a Maryborough winner (on Wednesday) with Gollahgold, driven by Peter Sanderson.” Norman has his team competing at Kilmore and Ballarat over the next two nights. He said Edwina Express and Cee Cee In America would compete in 3yo Vicbred heats at Kilmore, while The Deal, Edwin Bromac and Gozo would go around the next night in the 4yo Vicbred heats at Ballarat. “I’m probably making up numbers a bit because the Emma Stewart-Clayton Tonkin team has runners at both fixtures, and they’re just setting the bar at present,” he said. “Full marks to them. They do a great job and present their horses in magnificent condition – but we’ll be there doing our best.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When enthusiastic Cranbourne harness racing trainer Matthew Martin needs some expert advice, it's never far away. "I've got a nice network of family and friends to lean on when I need a bit of help or guidance regarding horses, so I'm very lucky," he said. And Martin, 32, was thrilled to see his one-and-only stable representative in Final Chapter (Art Major USA-Nyanjee (Classic Garry) get the money at Sunday's Mooroopna at Shepparton twilight meeting. "The race did look ideal for her and I thought if she could lead over the short trip, we'd be hard to beat," Martin said. "I've since read that a punter had $30,000 on at $1.65 - and I can guarantee that it wasn't anyone that I know!" he laughed. Driven perfectly by Kima Frenning (who also showed awesome touch with three winners for the Emma Stewart stable the previous night in Adelaide) Final Chapter was always going to be the one to beat. A first quarter of 29.9 was followed by a casual 33, then 29.1 and 27.9. "When Kima got that easy second quarter, I did think she had pinched the race," Martin said. Matt Martin and Kima Frenning are all smiles after the Shepparton win (Courtesy Shepparton HRC) Final Chapter, raced by Martin, his wife Kym, and successful gallops trainer Luke Oliver, had been placed at Melton, Warragul and Shepparton before her maiden victory. Martin, who's based at the Cranbourne Harness Training Centre, said he learnt a lot as a teenager when working horses with his father Alan. "I realise now that probably I should have listened a bit more, because if I can't get one to pace properly or it needs sorting out, I send it straight up to dad at Marong," he said. "But the other trainers based at the centre are awesome too - if it wasn't for them I would have been in the deep end and struggling along. I've definitely learnt so much and we all help each other out." But Martin also has some impressive cross-code expertise he can call on - in the form of Black Caviar trainer, Peter Moody. "I got to know Peter through my horse farrier business and, even though he was doing gallopers, I did pick up a lot about training and conditioning horses in general," Martin said. "Peter's ethic was to work them hard with lots of swimming, and his horses would go to the races so fit first-up, and that's rubbed off onto me, which I've tried to replicate." Martin said the Cranbourne centre was a "fantastic venue", boasting A1 facilities. "We have the use of a racetrack, 1200m jog track and a 600m heavy track and all of those are prepared daily. There's also a swimming pool, eight horse walking machine and a treadmill - we are spoilt rotten that's for sure," he said. Martin completed a four-year farrier apprenticeship in 2008 and has since built up a big clientele, including three days a week at Caulfield racecourse and the other two at the Romsey stables of Luke Oliver. His work days start when the alarm clock goes off between 4 and 4.30am and in a juggling act, he then gets back to Cranbourne in the early afternoon to train his pacer Final Chapter. "I recently decided to retire Mulgrave, a horse I got out of the claimers which actually gave me my first winner - Kima also drove him, but he was struggling towards the end," Martin said. "I've trained two others which didn't make it. So, all in all, I've only ever had just the four horses. I've held a trainer's licence for four years and now have six wins from probably not many more than 50 starters. "But it's an enjoyable sport and my only other hobby is supporting the mighty Collingwood AFL team." And it's not hard to miss the Martin stable--a race sulky in the Pies black and white colors, drivers colors likewise, while Matthew and Kym's two-year-old son George has his own set, which he wears with pride at the meetings.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Young Armstrong harness racing trainer Leroy O’Brien is the first to admit that a small amount of luck has gone a long way. But whether it’s been good fortune, hard work or perhaps an eye for detail, 27 year old O’Brien and his father and co-trainer Danny have been certainly reaping the rewards. Their latest success was courtesy of super-impressive Im Sir Blake (Alta Christiano NZ-Jupiters Darling (Dream Away) in the $25,000 Mitavite Northern Region Championship at Mildura last Thursday. The pacer, driven by Kerryn Manning (her second success in the feature event) was awesome in winning by 20 metres in 1.58-3. Click here for the race replay of the Northern Region Championship  “It’s a five-hour road trip to Mildura, but we’re not complaining because we’ve gone up there three times and come home with three winners,” O’Brien said. Im Sir Blake was a touch unlucky not to go through the Championship series undefeated. He was awesome in winning his first heat at Swan Hill late last month, and then galloped across the line at the next round of heats at Ouyen, only to be relegated from first to second. O’Brien paid the bargain price of $4000 for Im Sir Blake as a yearling at a Shepparton All-aged mixed sale – the same sale where two years earlier he snapped up a then-unraced Imprincessgemma for a rock-bottom “$900 plus GST”. “The filly caught my eye just in the way she carried herself and Im Sir Blake looked like a well-gaited type,” Leroy said. “We are very lucky to have some horses with so much ability.” Imprincessgemma (Village Jolt-Melody Strike (In The Pocket), raced by Leroy and his mum Sharryn, has won 11 from 25 starts for $107,000. Im Sir Blake, owned by Leroy and his dad Danny, has won seven for $58,000. Their other stable racehorse is Michelle Wonson-owned 2yo trotter Molly’s Purse, a recent winner of the $30,000 Group Two NSW trot final at Menangle. “I have to be honest and say we’ve had some nice offers to buy Im Sir Blake, but it’s sort of a lifetime thing with him,” O’Brien said. “My dad deserves the horse and does most of the work with him. Im Sir Blake waits at the gate for him – they’re really the best of mates,” he said. “I’d probably rate the horse as the best I’ve ever had although a trotter we had, Suave Jay, equalled the Mildura track record a couple of years ago and he went okay. “But Im Sir Blake is super quick and can do a bit of work. He’s a lovely little fella and I think we’ll now aim him at the upcoming Sires.” O’Brien said the horse was named after his sister Kirsty’s oldest child, Blake, while her daughter Gemma comes into play in Imprincessgemma. The father and son training partnership has been “on fire” this season with 15 wins and nine placings from 29 starts, for $106,000 in stakes. It’s a real family affair as Danny, a mental health nurse, and Leroy, a plumber, do as much as possible at the stables before heading off to work. Mum Sharryn, a disability support worker, is, according to Leroy, the backbone. “Mum feeds up and helps out wherever she can, and my fiancée Kristy also does a great job. You just need that massive support to keep ticking along,” he said. Leroy and Kristy recently became engaged and nine weeks ago welcomed son Tommy into their lives. “You could say that it’s all happening,” Leroy said laughing. “I suppose we’ve fallen on our feet with a lot of good luck, but you still have to put in the work for the success to keep coming,” he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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 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 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

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