Day At The Track
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The $25,000 Eastern Challenge race will be the headline act at the next Warragul harness racing meeting on Thursday, January 11. Warragul Harness Racing Club is promoting the school holiday fixture as a Family Day, and, combined with what should be a strong racing card, an entertaining day is assured for spectators. Attractions for children on the day include face painting, a kids disco and jumping castle. Mum and Dad can relax on the lawns or in the air-conditioned club rooms, with TAB betting, food and drink close at hand. The Eastern Challenge event is staged once every four years at Logan Park, and has been won by some quality horses since it was first staged in 1991. The race is staged on rotation between the Cranbourne, Kilmore, Warragul and Yarra Valley courses. Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan is chasing his fourth win in the race, with Misty Cullen expected to compete after a strong win at the recent Christmas Eve program at Logan Park. Stablemate Magical Delight, which also won at Warragul on Christmas Eve, may also appear in the event depending on the strength of other entries. Gary Quinlan's other winners in the Eastern Challenge were Brave Salute (1992), Scruffy Major (2013) and Professor Tom (2017). Good quality fields of both local and visiting horses are expected across the support events during the day. Entry for adults is $10 on Thursday, with children admitted free of charge. Gates open at Noon. Kyle Galley

Warragul Harness Racing Club officials were pleased with the attendance at their first Christmas Eve race meeting, staged Sunday afternoon. The race meeting featured the club's first Lend A Hand lunch. Over 150 patrons young and old attended, after the club sought nominations from local charities recommending those in the community who have been doing it tough and otherwise may not have been able to join in the Christmas spirit. The lunch went ahead with the support of numerous volunteers and local charity groups, along with funding from the State Government's Victorian Racing Industry Fund. Patrons were also treated to live music, carriage rides and a visit from Santa. Club Manager Tara Kiker praised the Warragul Harness Racing Club committee, sponsors and volunteers who worked hard behind the scenes to make the lunch a success. It is the first of a number of new initiatives the WHRC committee is looking to implement in an effort to increase awareness of the trotting sport across the community. Racing highlight on Sunday was the four win haul to premier driver Chris Alford, who had also driven four winners at the Bendigo trots meeting the previous night. Alford's winners were Mach Cruiser, Courageous Desire, Misty Cullen and Magical Delight, the latter three trained by Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan. Brandons Price turned in the most courageous win of the day in the Trotters Handicap. Driver Derby McGuigan was inconvenienced with a circuit to travel when the sulky tyre came off the rim. Brandons Price dragged the loose wheel for the last lap of the Warragul Pacing Bowl, but still came away from his rivals to score. Lenard Ess gave young trainer Jess Tubbs her first Warragul winner when the gelding won his first race in the fourth event. Jess' husband Greg Sugars drove the three-year-old, which sprinted home sharply out wide on the track to win. Warragul harness racing returns on Thursday, January 11 for the $25,000 Eastern Challenge race. Kyle Galley  

Warragul harness racing trainer Jenni Lewis landed an early Christmas present with two wins at the Geelong trots last night. Jenni trained and drove promising young trotter Miss Intense to an easy victory, while Greg Sugars steered pacer Celestial Trekker to a win in the following race. That horse has now won two races on end. Jenni trains her horses from the Warragul Harness Racing Club track, while also co-ordinating the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Meanwhile, there are eight races at the Warragul trots meeting being staged this Sunday afternoon. The first event starts at 1:39pm, with the last race due to run at 5:43pm. Around 180 people will be guests of the WHRC on Sunday for the first Lend A Hand lunch, reaching out to disadvantaged members of the community in an effort to spread some Christmas cheer. The luncheon is being supported by the local club in conjunction with Victorian Racing Industry Fund and Harness Racing Victoria. Of course Santa Claus will make a flying visit to the track for the children throughout the day. Kyle Galley

Warragul Harness Racing Club will spread early Christmas cheer to some local disadvantaged families next weekend. The club's Lend A Hand Christmas Lunch is being staged at the trots meeting on Sunday afternoon, December 24, with nominations currently being taken from members of the community who may know someone who has been doing it tough during 2017. Those nominations, which can be made through the Warragul Trots website, will be offered a three-course meal and complimentary soft drink at the Christmas Eve race meeting. The initiative, a first for the local trotting club, is being supported by the Victorian State Government's Victorian Racing Industry Fund, and Harness Racing Victoria. WHRC Manager Tara Kiker confirmed that there are already over 60 people expected to participate in the lunch, with more names expected to be added to the list before the day. The lunch will be held in the club's Dannys The Venue rooms, which will be decorated in a festive theme. Several local charities are also working with the trots club to nominate locals that they know are in need, so as many as possible can enjoy the best Christmas they can. All members of the public are welcome to attend the raceday itself, which will be a relaxed lead-in to the big Christmas occasion itself. It is the first Christmas Eve trots meeting run at Warragul, and Santa will of course make an appearance, while he will also attend in a horse and cart and patrons will be able to have rides during the day. A strong local race meeting will be conducted, and is expected to contain eight races. Full TAB and bookmaker betting will be available on all local and interstate races, which will be telecast on the club's big screen. The air-conditioned facilities also boast a full bistro restaurant and take away food for hungry punters. Racing is expected to get underway at around 1:00pm.          

Free-legged Trafalgar pacer Feel The Rhythm burst back into winning form in one of the harness racing highlights at Warragul last Monday afternoon. Racing in warm Spring conditions, Feel The Rhythm led all the way in the fifth race. The seven-year-old black mare is a pacing rarity - she competes without the hopples that nearly all pacers were around their legs in some form, which enable the horse to pace at speed in competition. Feel The Rhythm won at Yarra Valley without the hopples in June, and, despite having only won two races from 58 starts, she has still paid her way with another eleven minor placings, three of those coming since the hopples were removed. Veteran trainer Chris Hunter prepares Feel The Rhythm, raced by his son Brett and long time stable client Graham Tonkin, while Glenn Hunter drove the horse for his dad. The mare produced a mile rate of 1:57.4 for the victory on Monday - it would be interesting to find out where that time sits as far as the quickest times recorded by unhoppled pacers in Australia. Cranbourne horses provided the Quinella in the Trotters Handicap, leading home the twelve horse field which was spread out over plenty of ground after several runners made early errors. Ghent led most of the way for trainer/driver Simone Walker, courtesy of a brilliant beginning from the standing start. Express Yourself ran second, with Omy Son completing a Gippsland Trifecta by finishing third. Fast race times were the order of the day on Monday, and Clyde pacer Coldplay Road broke the track record for the 2210 metres distance in winning the appropriately named Full Steam Ahead Pace. Coldplay Road produced a mile rate of 1 minute 56.4 seconds, wiping two one-hundredths of a second off the previous mark. Visiting trainers won several of the races on Monday, despite numbers of visitors being down on previous meetings. Wemen Sporty won the opening race for trainer Leigh Miles and driver Greg Sugars in fast time. Budding Caesar broke a frustrating run of minor placings with a win in the second event for trainer Beau Tindale and driver Lisa Miles. Tindale also teamed up with driver Darby McGuigan to win the last with Bongiorno Boys, helping produce a Quadrella dividend of over $23,000. Jodi Quinlan drove the Philip Chircop trained Delightful System to win the third event. Racing returns to Warragul on Christmas Eve. Kyle Galley

Two well known Gippsland horse groups are joining forces for a major fundraiser in October. The West Gippsland Australian Stock Horse Branch and the Warragul Harness Racing Club are conducting a trivia night and monster auction, on Friday night, October 13. Bookings are currently being taken for what promises to be a very popular night of entertainment, staged at the Warragul Harness Racing Club's "Danny's the Venue" function room from 7pm. Tickets are just $10 per person, with drinks available at bar prices (no BYO), and those coming are welcome to bring their own nibbles. Table bookings of eight, ten or twelve are also available and have already been selling well. The West Gippsland Australian Stock Horse Branch have conducted several successful trivia nights in the past, though this is the first one to be staged at Warragul. The spacious function facility at the home of harness racing in Warragul will allow for extra tickets to be sold. Already, a number of great prizes have been donated by businesses for the monster auction, and further donations from businesses or individuals are presently being sought. Warragul Harness Racing Club is looking forward to hosting members of the Stock Horse Branch at their club rooms, and this is the first major fundraiser for the club since their current volunteer committee was appointed in May. Tickets will sell fast for this event, and can be booked by phoning Narelle Witty on 0412 232 520.   Kyle Galley

Three harness racing reinsman drove two race winners apiece at Monday's Warragul trots meeting. Chris Alford, Nathan Jack and Rod Petroff all landed doubles on a nine race program full of exciting racing. Alford teamed up with local trainer Gary Quinlan for the impressive victory of Most Happy Cullen in race six, and the earlier winner Omy Son - both horses are raced by large Gippsland syndicates. Nathan Jack drove Illawong Mary and Ravello Rock to victory, while Rod Petroff won with Come On Bonnie (which he also trains) and Priddy Easy. Bongiorno Boys scored a narrow win in the first race, in an exciting three way finish for trainer Beau Tindale and driver Brad Chisholm. Bendigo horseman Scott Dyer made the long trip to Warragul a successful one when What A Flight, driven by Josh Duggan, won the third race. Father and son Graeme and Gavin Lang teamed up to win the eighth race on the card with Warminster, in another close finish. Despite rain on Monday the Warragul track raced in excellent condition. The next trots meeting at Warragul will be staged on Monday, October 16. Kyle Galley  

Several of the races run at Warragul on Monday could lay claim to being the most exciting harness racing contest of the afternoon. Capacity fields in most races, and even contests produced strong racing all day. Local start Professor Tom's six in a row winning streak came to an end in the fourth race, courtesy of a brilliant front-running drive by Zac Phillips with Franco Jameson. Well rated in the lead, Franco Jameson kept on fighting, and defeated his four rivals in track record time, slicing just over half a second off the time standard previously shared by Grins Rendition and Ymbro Toto. Franco Jameson had been unlucky in strong recent races, and has now collected nine wins from just 26 starts for trainer Adam Kelly. A capacity field of twelve contested the Trotters' Handicap, and not one runner galloped for the entire 2210 metre distance. Uetliberg, from a back mark of 40 metres behind, produced a strong finish to defeat local Innocent Fling right on the line, with Ghent placing third in a race where only two metres separated the first six horses. Pearcedale's Simone Walker collected a popular training double, with Redand Blue Fella and Little Bit Sassy both successful. Redand Blue Fella is raced on lease from the Kucks family by Andrew Walker, while Little Bit Sassy is owned by a large group of Cranbourne based harness fans. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial Pace saw runners competing for a place in the rich Final at Warragul on June 5. Young trainer Charlene Gusman produced All My Savings to win the first heat, courtesy of a well judged drive by Lisa Miles. All My Savings now has two wins on the board from 25 starts. Diamond Jasper also won her second race in winning the other heat, for trainer Paul Grech and driver Nathan Jack. Mario Azzopardi and Charlie Borg combined with Irish Player, which gained a start after scratchings, to win race two, while short priced favourite Beau Reve won her second race in as many Warragul meetings for trainer Jayne Davies and driver Greg Sugars in race seven. Kyle Galley

A strong eight event card of harness racing will be held at Warragul this Monday afternoon from 12:17pm. All eyes will be on the exciting local pacer Professor Tom, aiming for seven wins in succession in race four. Professor Tom won the rich Eastern Challenge race recently, and is up against six rivals on Monday. Gary Quinlan trains the four-year-old at Drouin West for breeder/owner, local harness stalwart Grant Rathjen. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial series have drawn together capacity fields on Monday. There is strong local representation in each of the heats, with the first five runners across the line in each division qualifying for the $9500 Final to be held at Warragul on Monday, June 5. Also on Monday, the Peter Eustace Appreciation Trotters Handicap has attracted a capacity field, and honours the Gippsland based race caller who is retiring this weekend. Kyle Galley

The traditional Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup harness racing meeting is again being staged at Logan Park this Easter Sunday afternoon. With record stakemoney on offer across the afternoon's racing events, Warragul Harness Racing Club officials are expecting first class entries from the local area, and from visiting trainers. Last year's event saw a significant increase in attendance numbers and, once again, patrons heading to Logan Park on Sunday will find plenty of attractions to enjoy throughout the afternoon. A revamped Fashions on the Field Contest has attracted great support from local businesses, with prizes on offer in Adults and Children's categories. Other prizes will be given away throughout the afternoon through a lucky racebook draw and monster raffle, while one lucky punter could stand to win big in a new "Hole In One" sweep run in conjunction with the Drouin Country Club on one of the support races. Live music will be provided on the lawns by DJ Nige and Kombi, and patrons can enjoy a variety of food options in the undercover area, or while relaxing on the lawns with a picnic. The Downtowner Tavern Bar will operate in the betting ring, where TAB and bookmaker facilities will be close by for those wishing to invest on the outcome of the races. Inside the main dining room, full bistro and bar facilities will operate, with table seating giving an overall view of the course. Children will also be well looked after on Sunday - there will be free fairy floss and craft activities, a reptile display and animal petting yard, plus a jumping castle, merry-go-round and other rides. And of course there will be a giant Easter Egg giveaway and the traditional Harness Racing Victoria Pony Trots. The first 500 children on course aged under 12 years will also receive a free meal coupon with compliments of the Warragul Harness Racing Club. Admission to Sunday's race meeting is free, and there is plenty of off street parking. No BYO alcohol is allowed through the turnstiles. Action commences at Noon, and more details can be obtained from the Warragul Harness Racing Club on (03) 5622 2008 or by visiting the Warragul Trots page on Facebook. Kyle Galley

Almost $100,000 in prizemoney will be given away on races at the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup harness racing meeting on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 16. While the 2017 Pacing Bowl Cup remains at prizemoney of $30,000, increases in stakes for other races on the day have helped push the money on offer to record levels. Headlining the stakes increases will be the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which be will run for $20,000 in prizemoney - the richest race for trotters ever staged at Logan Park. It is a fitting increase in prizemoney for the event which has produced a number of exciting contests in recent years. This year celebrates 20 years since the first staging of the event. The Warragul Guineas will carry record prizemoney of $10,000. A feature race for three-year-olds such as the Guineas is steeped in tradition, having been run at Warragul since 1940. Four support races on the card are worth $7000 while the traditional Vicbred Mares Sprint Championship race carries $10,000 in stakes, adding up to $98,000 on offer throughout the afternoon. The last Cup program for the racing season, Warragul's feature day rounds out a successful statewide series of events that has seen increased attendances at venues across Victoria. The Pacing Bowl Cup was first run in 1955, and once again this year will be sponsored by the Warragul Sporting and Social Club. Increased prizemoney is certain to attract plenty of interest from Victoria's leading trotting stables, even those that don't normally race their horses in Gippsland. The winner of the Wangaratta Pacing Cup, run this Sunday night, can earn a $5000 bonus if horse and trainer also claim the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup. Preparations for the day are underway and with a greatly increased attendance last year Warragul Harness Racing Club officials will be going all out to ensure even more patrons venture to Logan Park for the 2017 meeting. An outdoor dining marquee, free children's activities and Fashions on the Field are among the highlights already pencilled in for patrons.

There are eight races set for the harness racing Warragul meeting this Wednesday, February 15. Entries are strong across the program, with good numbers in most events. A strong contingent of local horses will compete, with about half of the total starters engaged from the region. Last start winner Run Myles Run, for Gippsland Harness Training Centre graduate Alan Ratnasingham, could start the day on a successful note for punters. Despite drawing wide on the mobile barrier, Run Myles Run is a strong chance of making it two victories on end - he is the only horse in the seven runner field to have won a race in their last four starts. Smart local four-year-old Professor Tom returns to the races in the fourth event. Raced by Warragul HRC committeeman Grant Rathjen and trained by Gary Quinlan, Professor Tom will have to overcome a back row draw on the mobile barrier over the short 1790 metre journey. Premier reinsman Chris Alford will have to choose which drive he takes between stablemates Courageous Call and Toscas Delight in the last race. The last is one of the better quality races on the program, boasting several horses in good form. Former Kiwi Our Mcardle Star returns to racing in the seventh event. A winner of two out of three runs in Australia last year, the five-year-old last raced at Shepparton in December for trainer Ahmed Taiba, who usually does well when he brings horses across to Warragul. Earlier, the second event looks a real lottery with no real standout in the eight horse field. Local hopes rest with La Patata, British General and Monterey Jack, all drawn off the front row. With fine and warm weather forecast, racing commences on Wednesday at 1:17pm. Female drivers competing on Wednesday will wear teal coloured driving pants, as part of a nationwide promotion raising awareness, and funds from race winning drives, for ovarian cancer research. Kyle Galley

Two Victorian country harness racing clubs are teaming up for an exciting prizemoney bonus on their feature races. Wangaratta and Warragul Harness Racing Clubs have initiated the $5000 Big W Bonus - A $5K bonus is being offered to the trainer of any horse that can win both the Wangaratta Pacing Cup and Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup in 2017. The same horse must win both races, and be in the name of the same trainer for both events, to receive the $5000 prize. First of the two races will be the Wangaratta Pacing Cup on Sunday, March 12, boasting a stake of $14,000. The Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup will be run on Sunday, April 16 with a total prize of $30,000. Warragul HRC CEO Mark Johnson explained that both clubs are contributing to the bonus prize pool. "we are delighted to have struck up this partnership with the Wangaratta Harness Racing Club and our Committee are looking forward to attending what is recognised as one of the best Country Cup meetings," Johnson said. Wangaratta HRC Secretary Bernadette Costantino said her committee are excited to be linking up with the Warragul club, and is confident the Big W Bonus will provide added interest to both meetings. Both the Wangaratta and Warragul Cup meetings produced excellent on-course attendances last season, and the addition of the Big W Bonus will only enhance the racing side of both of these popular events. Kyle Galley  

Veteran Gippsland harness racing horseman Gordon Turner has been successfully racing horses at Warragul for decades, and has unearthed another smart horse in Scruffy Marshall. The three-year-old turned in an impressive debut victory at Warragul last Wednesday, streaking clear of the opposition in the closing stages to win by 16 metres. Gordon bred the son of Art Major, out of his former handy race mare Magic Music, who has left three race winners from only three foals. Curiously, the mare has produced two race winning pacers and a race winning trotter. Scruffy Marshall is trained by Gordon's son-in-law Gary Quinlan. Gordon expects Scruffy Marshall to win better races, as he has always had a high opinion of the horse. After Wednesday's win, he said he has always thought of Scruffy Marshall as his "Derby horse." While he might not contest the upcoming Victoria Derby series after just one start, the other three-year-old feature races later in the season could be a suitable prospect. Scruffy Marshall's victory bought up two wins in a row for the Quinlan stable, after their horse Omy Son continued his good recent form with a win in the Trotters Handicap. Omy Son has won three of his last four starts. Gippsland trainers dominated the six race program last Wednesday. As well as a win for the Michael Hughes trained Narreeva, Hurricane Stride and Our Eduardo Denario were both trained by fellow Cranbourne trainer Jayne Davies. Captain Bronzie was the only visitor to salute in the third event. Former top horseman Glen Tippet was spotted in the crowd on Wednesday, catching up with family and friends. Tippet trained the 1996 Warragul Cup winner Kildonnan, and was impressed with the facilities at the Pacing Bowl at his first visit back for many years. Racing returns to Warragul on Wednesday, February 15. Kyle Galley

Young Warragul harness racing trainer Brad Walters will prepare his first race starter on his home track next Wednesday afternoon. Brad trains the six-year-old trotting mare Miss Intense, who lines up for her debut race in the opening event at the twilight meeting at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. On breeding, Miss Intense could make the grade - she is a half-sister to the former outstanding local trotter Billy Royle, trained by Jenni Lewis, who owns Miss Intense. Miss Intense is trained on the track, and Brad will know exactly how the course will race on Wednesday, given that he is in charge of preparing the Pacing Bowl for racing. He is a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and will be looking forward to seeing his horse compete on Wednesday. Wednesday's race is a real local affair - as well as Miss Intense five other local trainers are represented in the nine horse field, the largest number of district trained horses in a Trotters Handicap at Warragul for some time. Hardest of the locals to beat will be Omy Son, an impressive winner on the track last month, who has also won again since. Trafalgar trotter Slancio is experienced, and ran a nice second to Omy Son at his first run from a spell last time out. Last start local winners Sammy Seelster and Zipping Elmo have come up with good barrier draws in an attempt to repeat the dose on Wednesday. Entry is free to the six race card which kicks off at 2:33pm, with a host of children's activities planned for the school holiday event. Kyle Galley

The appearance of Billy Brownless and seven races on the track are harness racing highlights of a big pre-Christmas trots meeting at Warragul this Wednesday afternoon. The former Geelong football great is in Gippsland next Wednesday as part of a promotional arrangement for Victorian harness racing during the current racing season. Over 100 guests will attend a special lunch with the knockabout character, while also trying to find a winner at the last meeting at Warragul for 2016. Some of the races appear to be quite open events, despite small fields. With Brownless on course, perhaps the omen bet might be Greenough in race two or Feel The Buzz in race six, both horses to be driven by reinsman Matt Ablett. Several local horses will compete during the day, including the smart pacer Toscas Delight, who returns from a break in race five for trainer Gary Quinlan. Trafalgar trainer Chris Hunter will also have his trotter Slancio returning to the races on Wednesday after a spell in the Handicap. The last race looks the best of the day with several winning chances including local horses Awesome Cullect and Fairest Fella, although both horses will start from the second row of the mobile. Racing commences at the later time of 2:04pm on Wednesday, with free admission for patrons and a large crowd expected on the first day of school holidays. Kyle Galley

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