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It promised so much….and it delivered. But in so many ways. The Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton was being tipped as the best trotting event this season with an all-star harness racing cast assembled. Firstly, race favourite Tornado Valley was scratched on race day morning owing to lameness issues which forced a major reshape of the market while a false start delayed things a little further. The excitement kept building with tactics reconsidered. When the starter said go in the 2760m mobile event, the New Zealand invaders came out running with Marcoola, Amaretto Sun and Speeding Spur all showing very good speed while Sky Petite raced handy. It was Speeding Spur who would lead the event. The lead time was covered in 83.6 seconds. With Speeding Spur leading Amaretto Sun, race favourite Marcoola landed the perfect one out/one back trail while Sky Petite, Tough Monarch and Save Our Pennys all occupied positions on the inside. The pressure was on as driver Josh Dickie allowed Speeding Spur to run along in the lead, the first half of the final mile was covered in 30.2 and 30.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Amaretto Sun dropped back sharply which forced Marcoola to take off three wide while Red Hot Tooth, Kyvalley Blur, Big Jack Hammer and Pizza Queen had to check. Temporale angled three wide from near last and was immediately tracked up by Dance Craze. The third quarter was posted in 29.2 seconds. Approaching the home turn, Speeding Spur was trying to fend them off with Marcoola under extreme pressure while Temporale and Dance Craze both unleashed big sprints deep off the track. In the straight, Temporale and Dance Craze went together while Sky Petite darted along the sprint lane. Dance Craze ($17.70) would prevail defeating Temporale ($21.40) while Sky Petite ($12.40) was a close-up third. Race favourite Marcoola ($1.70) finished 11th. The final split was covered in 30.1 seconds. The mile rate was 1:58.8 – the track record belongs to Sparkling Success at 1:58.7. “This is a dream come true,” said trainer Anton Golino as he celebrated his biggest victory in the sport before giving praise to owner Pat Driscoll. “Nobody deserves this more than Pat, a wonderful man who loves the trotters more than most.” It was a rare ‘outside’ drive for champion horseman Mark Purdon but yet again, his classy skills were clearly evident. Possessing an outstanding pedigree, Dance Craze only solidified her lineage with this Gr.1 victory. Dance Craze is a daughter of champion stallion Muscle Hill from the multiple Gr.1 winning mare La Coocaracha. Boasting 15 wins from 25 starts, her earnings now exceed $280,000. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $100,000 Seelite Window & Doors Grand Prix at Melton on March 9. Dance Craze joins Marcoola (Dominion) and Tornado Valley (Inter Dominion) as a winner on the Trotting Masters series this season. To watch the replay of this race click on this link. Chris Barsby

As tough as he was brilliant, Muscle Factory led all the way to comprehensively win the harness racing Woodlands Victoria Derby in emphatic fashion, matching the age track record at Tabcorp Park Melton. It was a triumph for husband-and-wife team trainer Shane and reinswoman Lauren Tritton as Muscle Factory reinforced his all-time standing, saluting in the age classic only three weeks after smashing the Australasian three-year-old record when winning in 1:49.6. “I just know this horse is a superstar and that’s how we drove,” said Lauren after they saluted by 4.7m from All Stars entrant Im Anothermasterpiece, with Lochinvar Art the best of the swoopers to claim third. But the Group 1 $200,000 was always in Muscle Factory’s keeping, with Tritton lighting him up out of the gates to lead from barrier six, with Max Delight and then Im Anothermasterpiece sitting outside him before Hurricane Harley advanced to the breeze for the final lap. However, Muscle Factory’s determination to keep the pace on throughout the 2240m meant all would have to advance under strain, with a 44.3 lead time preceding first (29), second (28.7) and third (28.3) quarters that were all sub-29 seconds. “He got a bit keen tonight. We just decided to let him do whatever he wanted to do,” Tritton said. “I had a good hold of him, but those were the sectionals he wanted to run.” They were also the sectionals the Trittons wanted to deliver to give themselves the best chance, confident their Roll With Joe-Malena colt would thrive. “Im Anothermasterpiece, we’ve raced against him a couple of times now and he’s a star too, he doesn’t stop trying. I knew that was the only way that I could beat him tonight. I knew if I was going to beat it I had to break it,” Tritton said. The 28.4 last quarter iced the win in a 1:54 mile rate, matching the track’s age record set by Our Waikiki Beach in the 2016 Breeders Crown and providing a significant highlight for owners Rona and Clive McKay and Dayna Kahlefeldt. “He’s a star and I hope they can just keep winning big races for (the owners),” Tritton said. To watch the video click here. Trots Media - Michael Howard

Pre-race favourite Tornado Valley has been withdrawn from tonight's Woodlands Great Southern Star after a vets examination revealed sorness on the morning of the $250,000 feature. Trainer Andy Gath reported his brilliant gelding, who has won 18 of 22 since crossing to their stable including December's TAB Inter Dominion, had swelling in his near hind-leg to Stewards on Friday. Tornado Valley then underwent a veterinary examination by the stable veterinarian Friday evening, where, in the presence of a HRV Steward, blood samples were taken from the gelding to detect whether infection may be a factor. This morning stewards reported the gelding had been found to be lame and sore upon examination and was subsequently scratched from tonight's feature. Read more here!   Trots Media

With a smile on his face and a small chuckle, Shepparton’s Chris Hazelman says he has a suspicion who may have nominated him for a Medal of the Order of Australia. The former City of Greater Shepparton mayor and current manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District has had an extensive career spanning several community organisations and government roles around Greater Shepparton. With a CV that includes five terms as mayor, treasurer of Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership, board member of Goulburn Valley Health and president of the Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve Committee, it is easy to see why he has been recognised for his service to the community. ‘‘My initial response was, ‘wow, what does it all mean?’ — you get a little bit reflective looking back on your career,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘I felt all the emotions, you feel very humble, proud, appreciative and grateful; it is a fantastic honour to even be considered ... in that reflection time you look back on stuff that you’ve done and the people you have helped.’’ The current City of Greater Shepparton councillor said his stint as mayor from 1998 to 2002 was one of the most rewarding times of his career and one which oversaw significant changes to the municipality. Not long before securing the role, Greater Shepparton City Council was formed after merging the shires of Rodney and Shepparton with the City of Shepparton. This merger brought new structures and processes and was one which involved developing a truly representative group of councillors. ‘‘It was a completely new municipality; there was going to be a lot of capital works infrastructure types of projects ... it was in the time of a new council, it was like a greenfield site merging all of that together,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘It was an amazing experience, I think now, to serve five consecutive terms; I must have been crazy and I would not recommend to anyone to try and do it now.’’ In 2006 Mr Hazelman began working as the manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, a role which he said now filled most of his days. It is evident Mr Hazelman is passionate about his work, speaking highly of the thousands of refugees and migrants he has worked with upon their arrival in Shepparton. ‘‘The challenges there and the people you’re both working with and for is incredibly rewarding,’’ he said. ‘‘Shepparton’s been a destination point for non-traditional migration ever since the irrigation system started here ... In its demographics Shepparton is unique for a conventional regional city, you won’t find another one with the cultural diversity for comparison that we’ve got.’’ With an extensive list of community positions, including president of the Shepparton Harness Racing Club and time spent on the board of Word and Mouth, The Community Fund Goulburn Valley and Fairley Leadership Program, it is evident Mr Hazelman values his time in the community. He said Shepparton’s disadvantage due to a lack of state and federal resources had driven a number of his community projects, and stressed the importance of reducing the imbalance between regional towns. ‘‘Projects and issues that I have been involved in over the years have been driven by the fact that the perception, if not the reality, is Shepparton has not got its fair share of state or federal resources,’’ Mr Hazelman said. ‘‘We’ve been disadvantaged, I think that’s been a motivating factor for a number of things I’ve been involved with — to try and redress that imbalance — sometimes successfully, sometimes not.’’ Receiving life membership at Tallygaroopna Cricket Club in 2005 and a recipient of the Centenary Medal for the City of Greater Shepparton in 2001, Mr Hazelman is passionate about community work and volunteering. He encouraged people to get involved with their local sporting clubs and smaller organisations which continually struggle to find support. While reflecting on his most recent achievement, Mr Hazelman said he could name a number of local leaders who deserved to be recognised, stating the experience had encouraged him to rethink our culture of acknowledgement. ‘‘When I got notified I could think of a dozen people I could name that deserve to be recognised, and you think, ‘oh well, there’s probably the scope there to develop a culture of community recognition’,’’ he said. ‘‘We do it on a local level through the local Citizen of the Year awards, but more broadly we don’t seem to recognise people through the Australian Honours System the way we possibly could.’’ By Liz Mellino Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

ANDY Gath openly admits this is by far Tornado Valley’s biggest test. There’s no question the line-up Tornado Valley faces in Saturday night’s $250,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star is significantly strongly than the rivals he beat to snare the Inter Dominion crown last month at Melton. And that’s largely because of the presence of NZ’s best trotters, Marcoola. “Marcoola may simply be a better horse than Tornado Valley, at the very least I’d have to say he’s on par on what I’ve seen him do in NZ,” a frank Gath admitted. “He’s a seriously good trotter and when you throw in Temporale along with Speeding Spur, Tough Monarch and others, this is certainly the biggest test Tornado Valley’s had. “But we’re looking forward to it, especially now he’s drawn well. “I think he’ll lead, but we’re expecting pressure and I think he’s up to it. “We think he’s clearly better than Glenferrie Typhoon, who copped pressure all the way and still won a Great Southern Star. Tornado Valley is stronger and a much better racehorse.” But Gath admits to being surprised at how short Tornado Valley is in Aussie TAB markets at $1.50. “It’s hard to see why he should be shorter than the Inter Dominion when he’s only won his past two starts by a metre and this is such a stronger field,” he said. “If the best Marcoola turns up, I’m sure the fans are in for a fantastic contest and there’s certainly enough other really good horses in the race to come and beat us both if the race is run to suit them.” Gath sharpened-up Tornado Valley with a Melton trial on Tuesday. “We skipped the race at Ballarat last week and decided to go to the trial instead. He hit the line well and it’s right where we want him,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

This is it….this is what we’ve been waiting for! The two best  trotters from either side of the ditch are coming head to head for the first time this season. Tornado Valley vs Marcoola. And the battle ground is TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night. Its leg three of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and as it stands, they sit equal at the top of the leaderboard following their respective victories in the Inter Dominion Grand Final and the Dominion. Both have collected 100 points to date. So the winner walks away with more than bragging rights. Who will take the Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star? Will it be Tornado Valley and his relentless hard running or will the sublime speed of Marcoola be on full display? And they will have a great view of each other early after drawing ideally off the front-line; they will start side by side in the 2760m mobile start event. The Andy and Kate Gath prepared Tornado Valley has landed gate two while the Ken and Clint Ford conditioned Marcoola starts to his immediate outside in gate three. The Gath’s combined with Glenferrie Typhoon who proved triumphant in 2017. Speedy Sydney prepared performer Tough Monarch has landed the coveted inside gate and looms as the knockout runner following his effortless last start victory at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Inter Dominion runner-up Sky Petite will start from gate four for trainer Mick Stanley and young driver Ryan Duffy; the speedy mare will carry plenty of support yet again. Outstanding young horseman Anton Golino prepares both Pizza Queen (gate 5) and Dance Craze (gate 13) and both will also have plenty of support owing to their consistent form. New Zealand stars Speeding Spur (gate 7) and Temporale (gate 12) are no strangers to success on Australian soil and both return with brilliant recent form, while the barrier draws aren’t kind they will certainly make their presence felt. Speeding Spur won the Great Southern Star back in 2016. Last start E B Cochran Cup winner Save Our Pennys (gate 8) represents father/son combination of Graeme and Gavin Lang and commands respects given his ultra-consistent form surge of late. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 9), a last start winner of the George Gath at Shepparton can only improve on effort from last season when finishing at the rear of the field, the Kari Males prepared mare is more seasoned and mature commodity and appeals as a knockout hope. Veteran performer Kyvalley Blur (gate 10) is also looking to improve on last year’s effort (10th behind Sparkling Success) and is drawn to follow out behind Marcoola, the Brent Lilley prepared gelding performed well at his most recent start in the George Gath behind Red Hot Tooth. Emerging talent Big Jack Hammer (gate 11) continues to thrive on racing in the elite company this season and although the draw is unkind, the David Aiken prepared gelding can’t be completely overlooked. With defending champion Sparkling Success absent owing to injury, the depth in the field this year is outstanding with total class spread across the field. Since conditions changed in 2017, Australian trained trotters have proved victorious but will that trend continue this year? What a contest…what a race! The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time.   Chris Barsby  

The barriers draws have been staged for Saturday night's harness racing four BIG Group 1s at Tabcorp Park Melton, night two of the TAB Summer Of Glory, headlined by the Woodlands Stud NZ Great Southern Star and Victoria Derby. Get yourself trackside at Tabcorp Park for one of the great trots nights. Details: www.summerofglory.com.au Woodlands Great Southern Star Woodlands Stud Victoria Derby Ladyship Cup 4YO Bonanza Trots Media

Hurricane Harley is the harness racing favourite pre-draw with TAB for next Saturday night’s Group 1 Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby following the heats tonight at Ballarat. Trainer Emma Stewart’s reigning Breeders Crown champ was completely untroubled around Bray Raceway, his 2.6-metre win not a wholly accurate depiction of his dominance. Driver Amanda Turnbull didn’t need to move aboard the powerful son of Bettors Delight in the home straight, Hurricane Harley striding out with the swagger and authority of a champion wrestler inside the final furlong. Hurricane Harley rated 1:56.8 and covered his last 800m in 56.5 (27.1 last split). Stablemate Hardhitter ran second, with Malcolms Rhythm third. It was a familiar tale in the second Derby heat as the All Stars’ team of Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon produced Im Another Masterpiece for victory (pictured right, by Stuart McCormick). Rasmussen’s drive was worthy of a headline. It was a masterclass performance aboard the son of Bettors Delight. After handing up early to Lauren Tritton aboard Muscle Factory, Rasmussen camped behind the leader until the bell when she shimmied into the clear to breeze the last lap. The move posted a key rival Centenario, advancing three-wide, on a limb for the final kilometre and secured Lochinvar Art one-one cover. “You don’t come all this way to be unlucky,” Rasmussen said. “You have to run top-three and I wasn’t going to run a nice hard-held fourth on the fence. “(It was a) Nice win for him and the run should tighten him up a little bit more.” Im Another Masterpiece finished 2.9m clear of Muscle Factory in 1:55.9. David Aiken trained and driven Max Delight (pictured right, by Stuart McCormick) made it a Bettors Delight Derby heats clean sweep, taking out the final qualifier courtesy of a controlled front-running steer. “He’s a nice horse on the way up and he’s got great speed. It’ll be a different story next week, but we really like him and wouldn’t swap him for a few in the race,” Aiken said. “He’s fast. His A to B speed is really quick but he doesn’t have to lead, he can come off cover and sprint really well.” Max Delight’s winning mile rate was the slowest of the night at 2:00.4, but his last 400m (26.5) was electric. The top four finishers in each Derby heat qualify for the final, with Demon Delight (fastest fifth) the emergency.   Results Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (1st Heat) 1st: Hurricane Harley by Bettor's Delight         Emma Stewart     Amanda Turnbull 2nd: Hardhitter by Mach Three                         Emma Stewart     Chris Alford 3rd: Malcolms Rhythm by Art Major                 David Aiken          Kima Frenning 4th: Arggghhh by Rock N Roll Heaven            Craig Demmler     Craig Demmler 5th: Our Millionaire by Million Dollar Cam        Emma Stewart     Sidney Van Den Brande MR: 1:56.8 To watch the video of Hurricane Harley click on this link. Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (2nd Heat) 1st: Im Another Masterpiece by Bettor's Delight        Mark Purdon, Natalie Rasmussen   Natalie Rasmussen 2nd: Muscle Factory by Roll With Joe                       Shane Tritton, Lauren Tritton          Lauren Tritton 3rd: Lochinvar Art by Modern Art                               Laura Crossland                                 David Moran 4th: Crime Writer by Sportswriter                               Matthew Craven                               Matthew Craven 5th: Demon Delight by Bettor's Delight                      Emma Stewart                                   Gavin Lang MR: 1:55.9 To watch the video of Im Another Masterpiece click on this link. Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (3rd Heat) 1st: Max Delight by Bettor's Delight                   David Aiken                                   David Aiken 2nd: Perfect Major by Art Major                         Emma Stewart                               Amanda Turnbull 3rd: Petes Big Jim by Big Jim                            Shane Tritton, Lauren Tritton         Lauren Tritton 4th: War Dan Delight by Bettor's Delight            Dean Braun                                   Greg Sugars 5th: Supreme Dominator  by Bettor's Delight     Barry Purdon                                 Mark Purdon MR: 2:00.4 To watch the video of Max Delight click on this link. Trots Media - Cody Winnell ID18

Save Our Pennys got a well-deserved first taste of sweet success this campaign with a comprehensive all-the-way win in the harness racing E B Cochran Trotters Cup. With driver Gavin Lang’s trotter having been valiant in Tornado Valley’s shadow, finishing second in five of his previous six starts, Save Our Pennys enjoyed the freedom of his main foe’s absence to dominate the $30,000 Group 2 on PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup night. It was the perfect tune-up for next Saturday night’s showcase Woodlands Great Southern Star, the $250,000 Group 1 that's Australia’s richest trotting race. “He’s an old marvel really,” said Lang. “Dad (Graeme) always said he’d win a good race, but he’s won three or four now. “His behaviour before the race tonight was a bit like a two-year-old, not like an eight-year-old who’s had 50-odd starts. He’s a great horse, just trots, as you can see no gear on him, no head check, no nothing. He’s just a great horse to have around.” Save Our Pennys won by 5.2m from Dance Craze who boxed on well to finish ahead of Yabby Dam stablemate Pizza Queen, with the winner holding all at bay with his 56-second last 800m amid a 1:59.8 mile rate. “Once Tornado Valley didn’t turn up it opened the race up a bit and then we were fortunate to come up with the right barrier. Made our own luck tonight, because he’s been a bit of a bridesmaid lately behind Tornado Valley, but that’s OK, I’ll cop that. “He deserved that win. Dad and mum will be very happy and I will be back in the will now that I have got a win on board.” The focus quickly turns to night two of the TAB Summer Of Glory, when Kiwis Marcoola and Speeding Spur travel to Tabcorp Park to take on TAB Inter Dominion winner Tornado Valley and a host of challengers hoping to flip the trotting landscape. “Tornado Valley has got the record on the board,” Lang said. “The opposition is always hopeful (that they can turn the tables) one day. He’s a great horse from the front of the field or the back of the field. “Horses like (Save Our Pennys) can never be discounted. He’s got great manners and a great will to win. There’s three or four Kiwis coming over for the Great Southern Star. It will be a Trans-Tasman race for sure, Tornado Valley’s probably not going to get it all his own way. It will be a great event.” To watch the video click on this link. Trots Media - Michael Howard ID18 5 8:30pm E B COCHRAN TROTTERS CUP (GROUP 2) 2200M $30,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SAVE OUR PENNYS      Fr4 4 Graeme Lang Gavin Lang   $ 1.80 fav  GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 7 by SAFELY KEPT USA out of TUPENNY BIT (SUNDON USA)  Owner(s): G A Lang, R J Sleep, Estate of G Lucas, J Glavas  Breeder(s): Bromfield Park Pty Ltd 2 DANCE CRAZE      Fr5 5 Anton Golino Rodney Petroff 5.20 $ 4.30   PRS 3WE OLM 2 SCT 3 PIZZA QUEEN USA      Fr3 3 Anton Golino Mark Purdon 8.10 $ 9.20   PRS GS 4 4 BIG JACK HAMMER      Sr1 8 David Aiken Kima Frenning 8.30 $ 17.70   PRS 5 HUE CTS D/F$ 5 SAVANNAH JAY JAY      Fr1 1 Stan Cameron Neil McCallum 9.20 $ 36.10   GS L SLE 3 6 SKY PETITE      Fr7 7 Michael Stanley Ryan Duffy 9.40 $ 8.00   RAS 10 3WL 7 DELTASUN      Fr2 2 Terry Young Kerryn Manning 13.70 $ 17.40   PRS 6 8 FABRICATION      Fr6 6 David Abrahams John Caldow 15.50 $ 53.90   RAS 8 Scratchings All started Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 2:43:8 Mile Rate: 1:59:8 Lead Time: 44.1 First Quarter: 32.1 Second Quarter: 31 Third Quarter: 28.7 Fourth Quarter: 27.9 Margins: 5.2m x 2.9m    

LAUREN Tritton sat behind the fastest three-year-old pacer to ever grace a track in Australasia just recently. And now the top reinswoman is excited to see what Muscle Factory can produce against some of the nation’s best at Ballarat on Saturday night. Muscle Factory set a southern hemisphere record when clocking 1:49.6 in the Simpson Memorial at Menangle a fortnight ago. And on Saturday night south of the border the colt faces his next challenge in a heat of the Victoria Derby. “I’m really excited to see what Muscle can do against the best of them,” said Tritton. “It’s hard not to declare a horse that just won in 1:49. “I’m not worried about the smaller track either as we saw what he did at Albion Park.” However, there is an element Tritton is concerned about. “It is the hardest heat but we’ve drawn accordingly,” said Tritton. “It’s still going to be tough facing the locals on their home turf . . . some of those horses have been raised on that track their whole life so they have that advantage.” Some of those dangers include Lochinvar Art and Australian Pacing Gold winner Centenario. Meanwhile, the $1.65 TAB Fixed Odds favourite is the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Im Another Masterpiece. Tritton does not have to face the powerful Purdon/Rasmussen combination in her other Victoria Derby heat with Petes Big Jim. The gelding is a $15 chance behind the $2.50 elect Max Delight and the Menangle Park horsewoman is full of praise of her drive’s latest effort at his local track. Petes Big Jim finished fourth to Muscle Factory in the scintillating Simpson Memorial. “He went into that race 50/50 after being sore and tender on his feet and he is only a little horse but has a heart of gold to push through and go as well as he did,” said Tritton. “He went 1:50 himself and I’ll drive him conservative now as he steps up with the big boys.” ‘Team Tritton’ will be represented on home soil at Menangle on Saturday night as well with seven runners nominated. This includes Tritton’s two recent Inter Dominion campaigners My Alpha Rock and Maximan. “Maximan and Alpha are super since the trip to Victoria,” said Tritton. “We private trialled them around Menangle and they worked the mile in 1:51. “It’s not easy for them coming back to racing in that grade but we are happy with how they have come back after their campaign.” Tritton trains her team of horses with her husband Shane Tritton and they have trained 264 winners since starting their partnership in the 2016/17 season.   Some fun facts: Mile Records – Australasian: http://www.harness.org.au/hra/annual/public/records/ausn_milep.pdf HRA’s Milestones – Pacers http://www.harness.org.au/hra/annual/public/records/mstonesp.pdf   Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

The darling of Victorian harness racing, Bec Bartley, couldn’t hide her excitement after scoring an all-the-way victory in the Kiel Tiling 2019 Blue Pearl Classic. Bartley, 27, took out the prestigious, female-drivers-only event at Swan Hill on Wednesday night with classy four-year-old Three Summas, prepared by astute horseman Russell Jack. “I’m over the moon with the win – just being invited to take part was a huge honor as it’s a bit special, but I’m stoked to be successful,” Bartley said. The annual Blue Pearl Classic, now in its third year, is aimed at highlighting the contributions of reinswomen in the sport. The $8000 race also carried a $1000 blue pearl necklace for the winning driver and an inscribed rug for the victorious owner. And keeping with the “girls’ night out” theme, talented race caller Victoria Shaw took centre stage and called the event with aplomb. Bartley, who drove in the feature event last year, said she was reasonably confident after finding the top soon after the start with Three Summas (Somebeachsomewhere - Summa of Dreams). “I drove him recently at the trials and he is certainly a horse with a bright future ahead of him,” she said. “When I was able to get away with some easy quarters, he was always going to be hard to run down.” Three Summas had a two-metre advantage at the wire over Arden Voyager (Kate Gath, with a short head back to in-form Ouyen 3yo Mallee Reactor (Ellen Tormey). The first quarter was in a leisurely 32 seconds, but then things hotted up with 29.8, 28.7 and a super slick 26.6 for the final split. Three Summas now has eight wins and five placings from 16 starts for over $80,000. The Blue Pearl Classic contenders, (L-R) Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Monique Burnett, Abbey Turnbull, Shannon O’Sullivan and Kate Gath with race sponsor Tony Kiel Bartley said it was a pleasure to get the win for trainer Russell Jack and owners Todd and Wendy Rivett. “Russell lives just around the corner from us and I’ve known him a long time, while the Rivetts are from Swan Hill and just love the sport,” she said. Bartley has been catapulted into the limelight over the past few years through her deeds with brilliant gelding San Carlo. After dropping out of high school at the end of Year 10, pint-sized Bartley, who could have easily been a jockey, was always going to be involved with horses. “It’s in the family blood and I think it was within three weeks that I had a job with Stephen and Anne O’Donoghue, at Morley Park near Shepparton,” Bartley said. “I’ve now been with them for 11 years and I can say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “It’s hard to keep at it, as anyone in the industry would agree, but there’s always challenges and that’s the part I enjoy. “Whether it’s getting a problem horse sorted out and then to the track, or handling and educating a champion like San Carlo, there’s that satisfaction at the end.” Bartley is quick to want to talk more about San Carlo...and who could possibly blame her?! The powerhouse has been on a rampage in country cups, taking the Maryborough, Yarra Glen, Cranbourne and Bendigo feature events in his stride. But perhaps a little surprising, Bartley names an Interdominion heat win in Perth as her highlight. “Yes, that does stand out because it was a big experience traveling to Perth, and there was the expectations, the pressure and all that stuff and I still remember the absolute relief when we took out a qualifying heat,” she said. With a big team of 25 horses in work, Bartley’s career is testament to the old adage that hard work brings success. “Some days are harder than others, but I love it and I don’t really know anything else but horses.” Hoofnote: Bartley will drive San Carlo in the rich $60,000 Shepparton Cup on Saturday, January 12. To watch the video (R5) click on this link. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

AUSTRALIAN Pacing Gold purchase Malcolms Rhythm will have to beat older more experienced rivals to maintain his perfect start to the season. Set to contest a C2 in Kilmore, the son of Art Major purchase is chasing his sixth win of the term. Trainer David Aiken is using the 2180-metre event as “tune up” for next week’s Victoria Derby heats. Qualifiers of Australia’s oldest classic will be conducted as part of the strong Ballarat Pacing Cup program. To be driven by Kima Frenning, Malcolms Rhythm will begin from gate five in the six-horse field. “This should be a nice tune up for next week’s Derby heats,” Aiken said. “He is ticking along nicely and will be hard to beat despite the draw. “It will be nice if he can keep his winning run going before we head to Ballarat. “Hopefully he will do well in the Derby series, but it is hard to know where he sits among the three-year-olds at this stage.” Citing Blackenreid as the one to beat, Aiken also rates Imapest as a threat. Successful at two of his last three starts, Blackenreid has drawn gate six, with Imapest to come from four. “Blackenreid will definitely be the hardest to beat for Cotchy (trainer Keith Cotchin),” Aiken said. “Imapest is also in good form and can’t be taken lightly.”   APG Media

The trophy cabinet is filling and yet it’s only whetting the appetite for more success in the San Carlo camp, with the gelding a tearaway leader of the Trots Country Cups Championship. His tough PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup victory on Saturday was a satisfying fillip for trainer Stephen O’Donoghue and reinswoman Rebecca Bartley after a promising TAB Inter Dominion campaign faded in the final moments. While the camp remains determined to scratch that Group 1 itch, the fact their boy was back and in top health last Saturday was the most pleasing factor for owner John Eichhorn. “We were nervous, but we broke the track record and we were really happy,” Mr Eichhorn said after San Carlo registered a third Group 2 victory of his career. “We aimed for the Inter Dominion and didn’t have luck with the draws in any of the heats. We got into the final and thought that he’d go all right, but he got into the death and just stopped in the back straight. “We thought something was wrong and the vet scoped him and found he had a lung infection. We had no idea that was the case before the race.” A course of anti-biotics cleared the illness, though there was still some apprehension heading into Bendigo, when Bartley used some petrol to roll to the front and survived challenges from Let It Ride and Stroke Of Luck to score a third country cup of the season. “With the barrier draw he had to work hard to get to the lead, but he didn’t let up,” Mr Eichhorn said. “When he was attacked after the final turn I was a little concerned but then he started to get away again. It was really exciting, he’s just a non-stop trier.” He will be well-conditioned to improve on that performance in Saturday’s Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, and will need to be given the presence of fellow Inter Dominion finalists Our Uncle Sam and Im Pats Delight, as well as a rematch against Grand Circuit winner Let It Ride. Mr Eichhorn said “I think he can win, for sure”, but added “it’s probably a bit of a harder race than Bendigo”. “We will have our work cut out, but we will be a bit tougher than Bendigo, where he couldn’t work as much as we would have liked in the lead-up due to the infection.” Mr Eichhorn said Saturday night would likely be San Carlo’s final hit-out before the February 2 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, a chance to add a Group 1 at his seventh attempt to couple with three Group 2 and three Group 3 trophies. “It’s the big aim. It is going to be a very hard to win because there will be a lot of good horses. We will keep aiming for the big race win. You just hope you get a bit of luck and if all goes well he is going to go very close.”   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Harness racing trainers have their eyes fixed firmly on the prize for the annual Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, one of the most exciting country cup races in regional Victoria. Running on Saturday night, January 12 at the Shepparton Harness Racing Club, the first race commences at 6:30pm with gates opening from around 4:30pm onwards. Shepparton Harness Racing Club manager, Ian McDonald said, “This year there is lots of off-the-track entertainment, with live music, jumping castles, fashions on the field and free giveaways for both kids and adults. “Only the best horses can win a Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup and many of our previous winners have gone on to win the Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup or Interdominion. “Courtesy buses will run from most hotels in Mooroopna or Shepparton, which is a great added bonus for those looking for a good time.” The cup will run at Kialla Raceway, Melbourne Road, Kialla. You can contact the club on 0488 231 403 or visit www.sheppartonhrc.com.au for more details. By Ash Beks Reprinted with permission of The Adviser

Paddy Lee snapped up maximum points as the concession drivers kicked off their series at Boort on Monday. He steered Keayang Goddess to victory for trainer Marg Lee in the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo Concession Drivers Pace, winning by a neck from reinswoman Michelle Phillips steering Cranky Franky.  The result has given us the following series standings: Paddy Lee 12 Michelle Phillips 10 Shannon O’Sullivan 9 Tommy Hill 8 Maddie Ray 7 Tayla French 6 Abbey Turnbull 5. There are three more heats in the series, with the next at Maryborough on January 17 followed by Wedderburn on January 20 and Charlton on January 31. The concession driver accumulating the most points across the five-race series will win the Central Victorian Concession Drivers Championship Trophy, as well as a $500 cash prize from the series sponsor, the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo.  There will also be $1500 random cash prize available to all trainers who provided horses for the concession races across the five-race series, again courtesy of the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo. Paul Campbell spoke with some of the participants and looked ahead to Team Teal, which begins in February and raises money for the Women's Cancer Foundation. Video link click here! The Trots

During February/March 2019, Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner (Commissioner), Sal Perna, will be conducting his annual roadshows in regional and metropolitan locations throughout Victoria.   In 2019, the roadshow sessions will be in the form of a “Q&A” approach, in a less formal presentation format used in previous years and will be conducted at race clubs on race days. This new approach is in response to feedback received from previous roadshow attendees.   The sessions are aimed at building on those undertaken in the previous seven years to create a greater understanding and awareness of the role and responsibilities of the Commissioner, the work the office has undertaken and an overview of what is in place to ensure that the Victorian Racing Industry operates free from the influence of crime and corruption.   The Commissioner’s attendance will provide anyone attending the race meeting an opportunity to raise questions and hear first-hand of the Commissioner’s perspectives on integrity in the racing industry.   For details of the Commissioner’s attendances click here!         Linda Tomassi

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