Day At The Track
Breeders Crown to November,Harness racing

Breeders Crown moves to November

Bigger crowds, improved fan engagement, increased brand exposure and wagering returns are the major driving forces behind Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) decision to re-position the Breeders Crown to November. The new timeslot – three months after the previous winter-based August Breeders Crown – sees the $2million series positioned on the heels of Melbourne’s famous Spring Racing Carnival. Across three enormous Saturday nights from November 7-21 Tabcorp Park Melton will roar to life with Breeders Crown heats, semi-finals and grand finals. “Fan engagement is everything and you can’t engage with fans if they’re not there,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “This event’s position in winter made it a tough sell. The Breeders Crown is a magnificent series and is deserving of a showcase position on the calendar. Now the party continues after the spring carnival at the trots.” The Breeders Crown will draw the best pacers and trotters aged three and four from Australia and New Zealand with the Graduate races for older horses to also be retained. Full details on the schedule can be found here   HRV Trots Media Media enquiries: cwinnell@hrv.org.au or 03 8378 0288. Photo by Ashlea Brennan

Maximum Demand,Harness racing

13yo marvel still punching above his years

“Age is whatever you think it is.” So said one of the greatest boxers of all time Muhammad Ali. And while Ali stands alone for his record 56 professional bout wins (including 37 knockouts), sprightly Western Australian pacer Maximum Demand has taken to heart the great pugilist’s wisdom – that “you’re only as old as you think you are”. The 13-year-old marvel took the honors again at Perth’s Gloucester Park on Tuesday night and clearly still has a lesson or two of his own to hand out to younger rivals! “He’s probably racing as well as he ever has. He’s been going awesome,” said trainer and part-owner Kevin Egerton-Green, who is based at Harvey. “We thought he was a bit stiff in a few of his recent runs. He is feeling on top of the world and looks so good,” he said. Maximum Demand (Northern Luck-Waranga Scooter (Stoneridge Scooter), raced by Kevin’s youngest son Logan, has now won 18 races with 36 placings for nearly $169,000. His latest triumph was courtesy of a sensational drive by reinswoman Jocelyn Young, who was quick to snag the old fellow off the gate and settle four back on the pegs over the marathon trip of 2536 metres. The pair shifted off the fence at the bell, then moved three wide approaching the final corner. But Young was faced with a wall of horses and quickly switched back to the inside, looking for a run. It proved a winning move, as she spotted a gap, weaved through and dashed clear over the final stages to win nicely by nearly five metres. Trainer Kevin Egerton-Green and driver Jocelyn Young with WA’s old marvel, Maximum Demand Egerton-Green didn’t grow up with horses, but got into the sport about 20 years ago when he purchased a Crouch-sired filly named Dream Dancing with his brother Tim and an old footy mate K.C (Cole) Smith.  The group later followed up with a former Victorian mare Waranga Scooter. “Dream Dancing was prepared for us by Kim and Shane Young and won six with 31 placings. One of her highlights was a third in the $75,000 WA Oaks, which was terrific,” Egerton-Green said. “We also gave Waranga Scooter to Kim to train and drive and she won for us twice in a week at her first two starts —the first at Williams and then she took out the King Coal Cup at Collie. “She won another four, including a $13,000 Fillies and Mares Stakes at Gloucester Park, and then we retired her to stud.” The first foal Dilinger Magic (DM Dilinger) won two before Egerton-Green got his trainer’s licence in early 2008. Soon afterwards they combined to get the money at Harvey and provide Egerton-Green with his first training success. More wins followed at Collie, Gloucester Park, Bunbury and Harvey once more. Maximum Demand was the next foal. He was followed by Fifty Hertz (six wins), Heez Down to Earth (four) and Sheez Edgy (eight). Egerton-Green said when Maximum Demand was broken in, he wouldn’t pace a yard. “All he wanted to do was trot. So young Logan and an old mate use to jog him 13kms up a gravel road. Day after day they’d do this—then finally he clicked into a pace and hasn’t looked back,” he said. “He did a tendon twice in a front leg and Logan and our other son Dylan were in charge of rehab. They got the horse back, which was full credit to the boys. “He does get a little time in the water. Not a great deal because he swims like a rock! I suppose most of his training is done on our soft tracks off the lead, with a few fast gallop sessions.” Egerton-Green said the career of Maximum Demand came close to ending during last season. “We basically retired him because his back legs blew up. He only had three or four runs and we threw him out into an irrigated paddock,” he said. “In just a few months he picked up unbelievably, so it was decided to give him another go—and now he’s had two wins, a handful of placings and a few ‘hard luck stories’. “It’s a 100 percent hobby as our electrical business comes first, but we must love it because it’s nothing unusual to get home from work late and be doing the horses until 9pm. “We operate Harvey Electrical Services and also do a lot of specialized work. Both Dylan and Logan work for our company and a cousin of mine in Bill Jones comes and helps around the stables. “Bill is awesome and there wouldn’t have been a happier person when Maximum Demand won this week. He’s been in the game ‘for 100 years’ and had a bad fall at Collie that put him in hospital for six months, but he’s okay now.” Maximum Demand will face the starter again this Friday night at Gloucester Park. Egerton-Green said the “old boy” would be retired at the end of the season as WA rules don’t permit horses to race as 14-year olds. “He’s going to be hard to replace. He’s a stallion who has just been a beautiful, brilliant horse. We’d love to have a couple more like him in the stable. But he has a home for life with us that’s for sure!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Tasmanian Yearling Sale.JPG

Tassie Harness Sale preview

More than 75 percent of the dams represented in this year’s Tasmanian Harness Sale to be held on Saturday, February 15 at Carrick Park are race-winning mares or winner-producing mares.   Among the race-winning dams are the Group winners Ark Breeze (Granny Smith Stakes), Cloudy Delight (Evicus Stakes and Tas. Sweepstakes), the feature race winner Lady Elaine (Tas. Sale Classic), the Group placegetter Itz Gemmas Delight ($56,652) and the talented racemares Miss Ruthless 1:58 ($84,053), Danamite Lass 1:55.9 ($60,348), Boutique Art ($47,208) and Sheez Classical ($40,354).   The dams listed in the catalogue have left the Group and feature races winners Modern Ruler (NSW Garrard’s Pace) and Angel Or Demon (Tas. Matron and Mother Of Pearl) and the Group/Listed placegetters Tambros Milly and Class Tells.   The grand-dams of the yearlings have left a host of smart performers such as the multiple Group winner Pachacuti 1:51.7 ($394,731), Sheez Exclusive (Evicus and Bandbox), Strezlecki Lady (Shepparton Gold Cup), Glenwood Jasper (Crystal Stakes), Fortino (Burnie and New Norfolk Cups), Drifting West (Tas. Sires Produce) and Bremusa (Mother Of Pearl). Yearlings are eligible for Tasbred, Vicbred and the NSW Breeders Challenge.   The on-line catalogue, with photos of the yearlings, can be viewed at tasracingcorporate.com.au   By Peter Wharton

Line Up,Harness racing

Butt is buzzing after draws

FORMER champion Kiwi driver Anthony Butt is genuinely buzzing heading towards Melton’s huge meeting on Saturday night. Despite his stellar record in some of Australia’s biggest races, headlined by seven Hunter Cup wins, Butt’s record in the Victoria Derby and Oaks has been bleak. Remarkably, he hasn’t won a Derby and has only jagged the one Oaks title, aboard Geoff Small’s brilliant Pullover Brown way back in 2003. “My one chance of winning the Derby was Lavros Star (1997). I won the heat on him, but got suspended and Ricky May won the final on him,” Butt recalled. The now NSW-based Butt is confident of turning it all around at Melton this week. And the punters have thrown their support behind him. Butt trains and drives heavily-backed Derby favourite, Line Up, who ran blistering time leading throughout in his heat at Ballarat last week and is drawn to lead again from gate three. He’s been $2.40 into $2.25 on the Aussie TAB since drawing gate three. “It’s a fantastic draw, especially being inside Governor Jujon, who looks the main danger,” Butt said. “Line Up really impressed me last week. He only came to us a couple of weeks before the heat, but obviously I’d driven him in those big races over in NZ. “He’d been working well and I was keen to hold the front. He did a terrific job in quick time after having to sprint three times. “He’s a great chance of leading again and has come through the heat win really well.” Butt’s hopes of winning a second Oaks sit with Cran Dalgety’s speedy and improving filly, Dr Susan, who led, then took a trail on Stylish Memphis and got clear too late when second in her heat at Ballarat. “She was only starting to wind-up on the line last week. I was keen to hold the front, but Mark (Purdon, driving Stylish Memphis) had one crack at me and then his filly started to pulling hard, so when he came again I took the trail knowing it was a heat,” Butt said. “There will be no handing-up this week, that’s for sure. We’ve drawn really again (gate five) and can hopefully find the front, while Stylish Memphis is outside the back and will have to work hard to get around the field and outside of us. “Maybe she will just be too good Stylish Memphis, but Dr Susan is one of those fillies who has just absolutely thrived on the trip away. She’s getting better and better.” Dr Susan has been backed from $3 into $2.50 and is now equal favourite with Stylish Memphis on the Aussie TAB.   Adam Hamilton

Louth Park harness racing trainer Melanie Elder hopes a better draw can help Ashark step up in a tougher Golden Guitar Final (1980m) featuring four Hunter chances at Tamworth on Thursday night. Ashark was third in the final last year when it was a $25,000 event at listed level. The race has been elevated to group 2 ($50,000) status. Despite the rise in class, Ashark was a strong heat winner on Sunday. Elder's brother, Brad, gave Ashark a sit behind the leaders on the pegs before the five-year-old produced a winning run from the back straight. The combination are hoping for a repeat in the final after drawing gate seven, the inside of the second line. Last year, Ashark was taken to last from a wide draw and he came three-wide the last lap. "It's probably that bit better of a draw this year," Melanie said. "He can follow the one [Battle Chimes] out and probably get a nice easy run on the pegs. "It's not really his go out wide. He's better with a quiet run so the draw is in our favour this year. He won from seven on Sunday so hopefully it plays out like that again." Ashark was a $26 chance with the TAB and the long-shot of the Hunter-trained quartet. Nulkaba trainer Clayton Harmey has the best chance, Wet My Whistle ($4.40), which has gate four. Wet My Whistle, a full brother to group 1 performer Hug The Wind, took his unbeaten Australian record to five with an all-the-way heat win on Sunday. It was a relief for Harmey, who was concerned about a lack of fitness before the heat. Owner Allan McColl wanted to race Wet My Whistle after it became clear a few weeks earlier that New Zealand-bred horses were eligible to compete. "He's got it against him tomorrow but he's good, I worked him this morning, and I wouldn't swap for him any other horse in it," Harmey said. "He's a hard horse to train. When Allan bought him from New Zealand I thought he was very ordinary, and then he went to Bankstown and won by 60 metres. "But he just shows you nothing, he's a tiny thing, but he's bred to be a champion. "I would have liked to draw one or two but we're there, it's a race I've always wanted to win and if we don't this year, we'll be back again next year trying. "He's got bigger fish to fry. He'll get to metropolitan grade and win, but just the prestige of this race, to win for Allan after what he's done for me in such a short time, that would be great." Harmey believed Roll With Lachlan ($7), from gate three for Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding, was a threat after his second to Wet My Whistle on Sunday. Sawyers Gully trainer Cameron Davies has heat winner Battle Chimes ($18) from one. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of Newcastle Herald

Mark Purdon has talked about his start in the trots and the champions who have passed through his hands in a must-listen, free wheeling chat with Tooth Be Told podcast host Paul Campbell. The New Zealand trainer-driver, who said he "never had any aspirations to do anything else", spoke about his family's passion for harness racing and a champion called Lazarus. "He was phenomenal, he just had everything," Purdon said. "And just a beautiful horse to work with, very intelligent, nothing smart about him or cocky about him, he's just one of the boys. Just a beautiful horse to work with. He was just a champion, an out and out champion." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN:   HRV Trots Media

The weather pattern became much more settled last Tuesday night with a large number of patrons taking advantage of ideal conditions to enjoy an exciting eight race harness racing program at the Young Paceway. Local driver John Vautin continued his winning form following a narrow victory at Temora last week with the Mike Prest trained Pets Pet Rock, repeating that performance with a polished front running drive behind another Pet Rock progeny in Play Up A Storm ($2.90) in the opening race of the night. Declared a "good thing" by many, the four-year-old gelding recorded a convincing two metre win over outsider Hardliner and the locally trained Bettorbetbig in a mile rating of 2:02.3 for the 2100 metre event. Short priced favourite Uroc Skinny Jeans ($1.95) was unfortunately not on her best behaviour and was retired mid race in the second of the night, the eventual winner Presidentialattack ($14.00) arriving just in time after being fifth at the bell to defeat Funnily Enough for Ray Walker with To Be Feared finishing third in a winners mile rate of 2:01.7. The winner is trained at Cartwrights Hill in Wagga by Brian Smith who bred the seven-year-old gelding that has now greeted the judge on three occasions. Bathurst mentor Ashlee Grives took full advantage of the number one gate draw by taking the short priced favourite Overpowering ($1.35) to the lead soon after the start to hold out the locally trained Isntthatright ($8.00) and surviving a protest before the judges final pat with Bold Western finishing third in an exciting race three. A mile rating of 1:58.4 and a margin of a short half head kept the crowd on their feet until the all clear siren sounded. Race four resulted in another win for favourite backers when the Bathurst trained Ring The Till ($1.55) made amends for his three previous narrow defeats at Bathurst and Parkes to post a slick 1:57.5 mile rating in defeating Topsie Grinner and Arrokeefe driven by Blake Micallef for Crookwell trainer Scott Hewitt. Noted front running driver Ross Druett continued his much rewarded style of driving with an accomplished win behind Kamwood Izzy ($21.00) in race five. Given an ideal draw and a likeable distance, many keen eyed watchers took full advantage of the long price on offer and cheered the Wagga trained pacer all the way down the straight when the six-year-old mare kicked clear to defeat another outsider in Rocknroll Ava ($21.00) and favourite Bettor Jiggle ($1.30) in a creditable mile rating of 2:02.8. A veteran of 91 starts has now notched up 13 wins for her delighted owner. Starting her harness racing career at the age of ten at Penrith with mini trotting, and coming from a strong harness racing family, McKayler Barnes showed her experience with another outstanding drive behind the Peter Bullock trained Shannonsideal ($1.80) in race six in holding out a determined last minute charge from first starter Turbo Tommy with another short half head margin in favour of the winner. Temora reinsman Ray Walker again finished close up in third position with Roll A Dream ($34.00). The all clear siren was held up until the driver of the second horse had the opportunity to view the photo, all was good and placings stood. Emma Turnbull gave Ideal Flash ($2.10) the perfect run in race seven to take home the major end of the prize. Taking the much sought after position behind the leader and minor placegetter Jetset Star ($126.00) driven by Nathan Hoy, Ideal Flash a one metre advantage was enough to keep favourite backers happy, Uroc Baby finishing third ($21.00) after being fourth at the bell. Another slick 1:59.6 and a second win from twenty starts was a rewarding result for trainer Wendy Turnbull. The final race of the night was unfortunately not a pretty sight with a number of drivers intent on searching for the leading spot, some raised voices and daring drives in the early stages nearly causing an unwanted traffic jam. When things finally sorted themselves out, the plan was clear, lead at all cost and go as fast as you can for as long as you can. This unrehearsed plan suited the eventual winner in polemarker Tulhurst Terror ($7.50) who had only won two races from eighty one starts. Joint favourites Arama Reactor ($2.15) and Arty Pharty ($1.90) attacked each other and finished with no fuel left in the tank, only to finish second and third in that order, a head margin separating them with the winner having a two-and-a-half metre, one metre advantage at the finish. Young will race again on Tuesday night, February 18 with the ever popular Carnival Of Cups being held on Friday night, March 13.  By Stuart Maxwell Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness

All you needed was for Kylie Minogue to be in attendance at harness racing's Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday 18 January to complete the picture. Oh, what a night! The race and sectional times recorded at Menangle simply beggared belief. If ever there was a more resounding endorsement of the Australasian standardbred and Tabcorp Park, Menangle as the premier Southern Hemisphere harness racing facility, Saturday night provided that! The results on the night were a ringing endorsement of the professionalism of trackside staff in preparing a blindingly fast service. The prevailing weather conditions were also superb. Race 1 was won by the Craig Cross trained “Pocket Of Terror NZ”, a gelded son of Western Terror in a time of 1.50.5. Watch this race here. Craig followed up in Race 2 with “Little Rascal NZ”, a gelded son of Panspacificflight, winning in a time of 1.50.3. To watch this race click here. Not to be outdone by those achievements, Craig followed up with “Bettor Enforce NZ”, a Bettors Delight mare, winning Race 3 in the spectacular time of 1.48.9!  To watch this race click here. The regular scheduling of guaranteed mare races by Club Menangle and HRNSW have shown their worth time and time again, but Saturday night was actual vindication. A closer evaluation of the race won by Bettor Enforce NZ provides an incredible read. The race times for the first six placegetters in the race were all under 1.50! This almost unbelievable result reads: 1.48.90 Bettor Enforce NZ 1.49.08 Art Series 1.49.09 Hows The Memory 1.49.45 Island Banner 1.49.55 Fame Assured 1.49.77 Redbank Addi The seventh placed horse “Tralee Bromac NZ” was timed in 1.50.11, and the seventh placed horse “Power Surge NZ” was timed at 1.50.60. The fun did not end there as the Craig Cross trained “Wrangler NZ” a gelded son of Bettor Delight, won race 7 in a time of 1.48.8. To watch this race click here. Three other races on the program were won in 1.51 for the mile. The results on Saturday provide a great lead-in to the forthcoming yearling sales on both sides of the ditch. Saturday night was proof positive of the capacity and capability of the Australasian standardbred. The results also point to the forthcoming Sky Carnival of Miracles at Tabcorp Park Menangle being one of the most exciting harness racing events in 2020. Bring it on! Congratulations to the trackside staff at Tabcorp Park, Menangle for providing a superb racing surface. On a night like this…….. Alex Smith Club Menangle  

If the first-up win by Henry Hu at Menangle last week is anything to go by then you’d think the harness racing gelding would be pitching his tent and staying as close to the New South Wales speed-dome as possible. The son of American Ideal, who was fresh off an impressive second behind none other than Auckland Cup winner Self Assured at Alexandra Park on the 14th of December, proved too strong in his Australian debut beating a respectable field of proven pacers. The overall time of 1.52 flat over the mile distance an indication of the early speed and strong mid-race tempo that defined the race. Henry Hu had it all to do from a wide barrier and was off the speed early but benefited from a nice sit in the running line while the Lauren Tritton driven Colossal Stride made sure that the pace was a true staying test. Peeling at the top of the straight Robert Morris managed to find Henry Hu the space he so desires and the 4yr old did enough in the run home to ensure his introduction to Australian racing was a winning one. Henry Hu Henry Hu has always shown ability with his New Zealand racing record a very good one. After going two-for-two to start his career his gait proved his greatest adversary when going for a trifecta of wins galloping late at Alexandra Park on the 20th of September when looking likely behind the likes of the Group 1 placed Line Up. His more recent runs include a tough 4th when parked out on a 2.39 / 2200m mobile behind the Barry Purdon trained Sole Ambition. His forementioned 2nd behind Self Assured coming after an arrogant win from the front of the pack a fortnight prior. There’s every reason to believe that Henry Hu will, in time, mature into his impressive self and become a genuine open class pacer too. His potential is matched by good bloodlines with his dam Dana Maguire having already left the 4 win pacer The C E O. Dana Maguire is herself a 1/2 sister to the mother of both Group 1 Nursery Flying Stakes winner Burnaholeinmypocket (22 wins) and Positano (9 Australian wins). Lot 5 - Itsamoneymaker The next prospect from this family appears in the form of “Itsamoneymaker” Lot 5 at the upcoming 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. Offered by Breckon Farms the colt, also out of Kelly Maguire, is by Somebeachsomewhere. A 2yr old 1/2 brother to Itsamoneymaker, the gun-slinging bank-robbing “Ned Kelly” is currently in the Robert Dunn barn.    Ben Mcmillan  

You’d be hard pressed to find a harness racing filly with more going for her than Darling Me. The full sister to multiple Group 1 winning filly Sweet On Me and daughter of New Zealand Cup winner Adore Me appears to have inherited all of the family ability as her latest trial win at Ashburton on Tuesday would attest. The trial win, while sedate in time clocking a 2.06.6 overall time for the mile journey, did have a touch of class about it with Natalie Rasmussen guiding Darling Me into a forward position initially before taking a sit three back on the markers behind stablemate Bettor Twist, peeling for a wider bid 400m out Darling Me was never fully extended but accounted for her race rivals in an easy enough fashion. This most recent trial win comes off the back of two impressive outings on both the 8th of January and 23rd of December when in the company of stablemates Yea Baby, Bettor Twist and Dream On Me. Yea Baby (out of Harness Jewels winner O Baby) would seem the most logical threat to a Darling Me at this point in time. The filly by Somebeachsomewhere strips a nice type and looks to have the speed to compile a decent last bid if called upon. Her second to Darling Me on the 8th of January saw her lead up and be caught late while Tuesdays effort may point towards her preferred mode of operation with the filly showing a smart turn-of-hoof from late cover to close within a head.     To watch a video of O'Baby winning a $150,000 three-year-old Jewels Final click on this link. Interest in the stablemates and their prospective abilities will be heightened with the two both likely to reach the track for their race day debuts next week. While claiming a beachhead into the famed Scuse Me bloodlines would seem slim at the moment the chance of picking up some “Braeside Star” speed factor looks far more promising with a Bettor’s Delight colt out of O Baby being offered by Breckon Farms at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. Lot 13, “Manchild” is a full sister to Beachbabebeauty who impressed out of the Ken Barron barn winning 3 out of his first 5 starts beating the likes of the Chariots Of Fire placed Hail Christian and Ex Brendon Hill pacer Cullenburn who is now a Group 2 winner in Australia having placed in the Sires Stakes Final as a three year old. Lot 13, Manchild The wider maternal family encompasses the achievements of horses like the Sires Stakes 2yr Old Fillies champion Kayla Marie, the All Stars trained Paddy Brown (5 wins and 4 placings from just 20 starts) and the rugged Australian-based pacer Neighlor (16 wins) To go with those performers you can add a little more spice to the victory dish by adding in the fact that this is the family of Iraklis. Ermis and the horse they called Monkey King.      Ben McMillan 

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice-but try telling that to harness racing trainer Vince Vallelonga! Vallelonga, from Bolinda, 50 kilometres north of Melbourne, is one of the most experienced horsemen going around but is laid up again following his second serious stable accident in 18 months. "You wouldn't believe it-I've broken the same bone in my right leg again, but this time it's in a different spot," a dejected Vallelonga said. "My doctors have told me I'll be out of action for at least six months, so we've decided to shut down our stable operations until I'm up and about again," he said. "It was pointless struggling along doing the job half-hearted." The first occasion Vallelonga was injured was in a freak accident on July 17, 2018. "I'd just washed a horse and was towelling it off when a gust of wind whipped up out of nowhere and blew a bucket over. The horse took fright and knocked me over," he said. "I snapped a femur (thigh bone) and fractured a hip. That still hasn't healed properly and now I'm nursing a break to the same bone, just above the knee. "This time I was putting a rug on a horse and it lashed out and got me." After being rushed by ambulance to hospital, Vallelonga had an 18-inch plate inserted, along with pins and screws and 54 staples. After a fortnight in hospital he is now home and able to use walking aids but spends the majority of his time in a wheelchair. "It's very painful 24/7, but it's also just so frustrating sitting around. There's only so much television you can watch, and I have to rely on my partner Elizabeth or other family to get me outside into the sunshine and take me to appointments," he said. Vallelonga had a team of 12 in work at the time of the accident, but most have now been placed with other trainers. "It's going to be a long road ahead, but I'll get there," he said. Vallelonga said incident had come "out of the blue". "That particular horse has never been like that," he said. "Not that I take any chances with any of them anyway, we all learn that pretty much early days, but it does go to show that something like that only takes a second." "I'll be back, but for the moment I'm just concentrating on recovery."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Change is a constant, in racing as in life, and the time-honoured Tontine Championships have undergone plenty since the lightly raced five-year-old gelding Kiwi Conference and his trainer/driver Peter Rothacker took out the inaugural title at Ararat back in March 1981. Kiwi Conference raced four times in 12 days to earn the Tontine crown in a last-man-standing series of heats, semis and final - the brainchild of John Fladgate, then President of the Hamilton HRC, and staged jointly by the original members of the south-west zone (Ararat, Hamilton, Horsham, Stawell and Ararat). Changes since include a switch for the pacers from standing starts to the mobile, introduction of a handicap series for squaregaiters, a $10,000 clean sweep bonus, brief inclusion of Geelong and Ballarat clubs into the mix, stakemoney parity for both gaits, separate venues for pacers and trotters series, a flirtation final at Melton (Charlie Machsheen, 2013, pictured) and more recently the Tontine as a one-off feature event. Some things haven't changed during the nearly 40-year history of the Tontine - the winning connections collect a decent stakemoney cheque and the race is often a springboard to bigger and better things, for example past winners Kentucky George (33 wins), Noopy Kiosk (34), Lombo Rapida (27), Acacia Ridge (22), Flaming Flutter (24,) Supersonic Miss (17) and Deltasun (17). The 2020 editions of the Tontine pacing and trotting championships will be hosted by the Stawell Harness Racing Club at Laidlaw Park on Monday, January 27. The $25,000 Trackside Bar & Bistro Tontine Championship for Pacers (ms) and Trotters (ss) carry a trophy and inscribed rug for the winning owner(s) and trophies for the winning trainer and driver. Nominations for all events on the holiday Monday program close at noon, Wednesday January 22. Hoofnote: A noted absentee from the 2020 Tontine action will be legendary reinsman Gavin Lang, who with 10 mentions on the championship honour roll is unquestionably its ruling monarch. As Gavin continues his battle with a rare form of lymphoma, the thoughts of harness followers throughout the nation remain firmly with him and his family. Lang first took out the pacing series in 1985 when he saluted with Our Noble Rex NZ at Terang - strangely it's only win from 13 starts in Australia. Further Tontine success came in 1992 with Nunkie at Horsham, at Stawell in 1997 with Black Duke, and his amazing hat-trick in 2009, '10 and '11 aboard Jaccka Sandy at Geelong, Atlas Alliance at Terang and Seeful Pocket at Ararat. Lang's latest victory in the pacing section was in 2018 with Rishi at Geelong. Lang's trio of trotting Tontine titles were in 2004 Master Maori (Ararat), 2016 Tryncatchme (Horsham) and 2018 Deltasun (Geelong). CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE TONTINE CHAMPIONS IN THETROTS.COM.AU'S HONOUR ROLLS   Tony Logan

Astute trainer Joe Petricevich, a leading light in harness racing in Western Australia in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, died last Friday night at the age of 97. Phil Petricevich, the youngest of his ten children, said it was quite moving that his father died just moments before the 12 runners got under way for the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park. It was on January 1, 1962 that Joe Petricevich achieved his most important success as an owner and trainer when Beau Travis, driven by Fred Kersley jnr and six days before his 23rd birthday, finished brilliantly and won by almost three lengths from the pacemaker Peppercorn in the 2450 pound ($4900) WA Trotting Cup over two miles, witnessed by an enthusiastic crowd of 16,000. A great conditioner of pacers and an excellent judge of a young horse, Joe Petricevich purchased Beau Travis as a yearling for 36 pounds ($72) and the gelding earned more than $20,000 in a wonderful career, which included a victory over Gay Society and Copper Chief in the 1958 WA Derby. Petricevich also won the 1964 WA Derby with the brilliant Rising Scott beating Good Grattan and Tugman. The distinctive Petricevich livery of red and gold horseshoes was also carried to victory by top-flight pacers Beau Corse (purchased for 80 pounds), Shagrim and Coneeda. Beau Corse notched his 16th win when Kersley drove him to victory over Defiance and Leuros in the 1961 Winter Cup; Kersley was also in the sulky when Shagrim won the 1967 Navy Cup and when Coneeda won the 1967 Fremantle Cup --- shortly after starting at 33/1 and finishing second to Binshaw in the 1967 Interdominion championship final. Petricevich also enjoyed considerable success in the 1990s with Picture Son (16 wins) and Theresa Franco (seven wins).    Ken Casellas

Just four days after the TABtouch-WA Pacing Cup, attention has now turned towards the WA Derby and WA Oaks in the autumn with some of the key three-year-olds to step out this week. Bettors Delight colt Howard Hughes kept his unbeaten record in Perth intact with a comfortable 4.8m win in the Hygain Recuperate Pace (2185m) at Pinjarra. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained pacer showed a dazzling burst of speed in the home straight to run down race leader Tyron Terranova. Prior to the race, co-trainer Skye Bond told TABradio Howard Hughes was “relatively inexperienced” but hoped to have the colt ready for the WA Derby later this year. Earlier in the day, consistent filly Blockjorg produced a game performance first-up to take out the Fiber Fresh Feeds Equine Stakes 3YO Fillies Pace (2185m), her first career win in nine starts. The Hes Watching filly, who was placed in the Group 1 Diamond Classic last year, led all the way in 1.59.9 and held off Run For Mercy over the concluding stages. Meanwhile, tonight sees a small but select field set to do battle in the Etch Coatings 3YO Pace (2130m). Valentines Brook (barrier one), Awaiting Instructions (two), Gardys Legacy (five) and Alta Engen (six) are all last start winners and will be looking to push their claims for feature races. Matthew Scott trains Awaiting Instructions and said he was confident the gelding could make it four wins in a row against a high quality field. “He’s a pretty exciting type of horse,” he told TABradio. “He obviously went to Busselton to teach him a little bit. “A couple of races we had him in were falling over and the owner Mr Blee, being a country guy down in Manjimup, was pretty keen to run him down there. “This is a really good race for a Tuesday night. “Half of these horses could end up in a Derby without anyone being shocked. “Whether we lead or not, it depends on how much speed Valentines Brook shows.” Elsewhere, Friday night’s three-year-old event is poised to be one of the highlights at Gloucester Park. Double Expresso, Jaspervellabeach, Tiffany Rose, Manning and Howard Hughes are among the 13 nominations for the event.   Tim Walker

At the Hamilton and Alexandra College in Victoria’s Western District, staff encourage students to follow their passions while excelling in their studies. Year 12 student Olivia Biggs has done both since joining the school as a boarder in 2018. The young woman from Bendigo loves retraining harness racing horses, so having the school’s Equestrian Centre on the same site as the boarding house was a huge drawcard. “Working with horses that have been retired from harness racing gives them a second chance and living at the boarding house allows me to ride my horse, Grace, every day,” Olivia said. “During the week it is always busy with different sports and activities and on the weekends, I attend equestrian competitions and enjoy going on trail rides and relaxing with other boarders.” Principal Dr Andrew Hirst said Olivia’s experience was an example of how the school encouraged students to explore personal interests and make connections. “At The Hamilton and Alexandra College, we seek the best for and from every student and we remain determined that every student develops a strong appreciation for the importance of respect, gratitude, compassion, resilience and optimism,” Dr Hirst said. “Learning remains our core focus and centres us on achieving high academic performance while providing boys and girls with connectedness in life. “So, while I celebrate our impressive 2019 VCE results, l also promote our Year 9 China Experience and Year 10 Central Australia expedition. These pilgrimages provide significant rites of passage and enable direct experiences where we put the children into unpredictable situations and challenge them.” Olivia was the recipient of the college’s R.M. Ansett Scholarship. She said attending the school opened up opportunities beyond her equestrian pursuits. “As well as having Grace close by, I also take aviation lessons, sing in the choir and love basketball,” she said. “When I finish school, I hope to become a commercial pilot and I have chosen my VCE subjects with this pathway in mind.” Dr Hirst believes the school’s small enrolment of just 500 students is another one of its advantages. “Every student is known by their name and their interests,” Dr Hirst said. “It also provides an accessible platform for students to try new and different pursuits. “If students feel fulfilled in their areas of interest, they are more focused in the classroom and on their studies.” Applications are open for academic, general excellence, boarding and Old Collegian scholarships. Academic excellence deadline is February 7, with all other scholarships open until March 27. To find out more, visit: hamiltoncollege.vic.edu.au/scholarships. Reprinted with permission of The Weekly Times

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Bigger crowds, improved fan engagement, increased brand exposure and wagering returns are the major driving forces behind Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) decision to re-position the Breeders Crown to November. The new timeslot – three months after the previous winter-based August Breeders Crown – sees the $2million series positioned on the heels of Melbourne’s famous Spring Racing Carnival. Across three enormous Saturday nights from November 7-21 Tabcorp Park Melton will roar to life with Breeders Crown heats, semi-finals and grand finals. “Fan engagement is everything and you can’t engage with fans if they’re not there,” HRV General Manager of Racing Stephen Bell said. “This event’s position in winter made it a tough sell. The Breeders Crown is a magnificent series and is deserving of a showcase position on the calendar. Now the party continues after the spring carnival at the trots.” The Breeders Crown will draw the best pacers and trotters aged three and four from Australia and New Zealand with the Graduate races for older horses to also be retained. Full details on the schedule can be found here   HRV Trots Media Media enquiries: cwinnell@hrv.org.au or 03 8378 0288. Photo by Ashlea Brennan
“Age is whatever you think it is.” So said one of the greatest boxers of all time Muhammad Ali. And while Ali stands alone for his record 56 professional bout wins (including 37 knockouts), sprightly Western Australian pacer Maximum Demand has taken to heart the great pugilist’s wisdom – that “you’re only as old as you think you are”. The 13-year-old marvel took the honors again at Perth’s Gloucester Park on Tuesday night and clearly still has a lesson or two of his own to hand out to younger rivals! “He’s probably racing as well as he ever has. He’s been going awesome,” said trainer and part-owner Kevin Egerton-Green, who is based at Harvey. “We thought he was a bit stiff in a few of his recent runs. He is feeling on top of the world and looks so good,” he said. Maximum Demand (Northern Luck-Waranga Scooter (Stoneridge Scooter), raced by Kevin’s youngest son Logan, has now won 18 races with 36 placings for nearly $169,000. His latest triumph was courtesy of a sensational drive by reinswoman Jocelyn Young, who was quick to snag the old fellow off the gate and settle four back on the pegs over the marathon trip of 2536 metres. The pair shifted off the fence at the bell, then moved three wide approaching the final corner. But Young was faced with a wall of horses and quickly switched back to the inside, looking for a run. It proved a winning move, as she spotted a gap, weaved through and dashed clear over the final stages to win nicely by nearly five metres. Trainer Kevin Egerton-Green and driver Jocelyn Young with WA’s old marvel, Maximum Demand Egerton-Green didn’t grow up with horses, but got into the sport about 20 years ago when he purchased a Crouch-sired filly named Dream Dancing with his brother Tim and an old footy mate K.C (Cole) Smith.  The group later followed up with a former Victorian mare Waranga Scooter. “Dream Dancing was prepared for us by Kim and Shane Young and won six with 31 placings. One of her highlights was a third in the $75,000 WA Oaks, which was terrific,” Egerton-Green said. “We also gave Waranga Scooter to Kim to train and drive and she won for us twice in a week at her first two starts —the first at Williams and then she took out the King Coal Cup at Collie. “She won another four, including a $13,000 Fillies and Mares Stakes at Gloucester Park, and then we retired her to stud.” The first foal Dilinger Magic (DM Dilinger) won two before Egerton-Green got his trainer’s licence in early 2008. Soon afterwards they combined to get the money at Harvey and provide Egerton-Green with his first training success. More wins followed at Collie, Gloucester Park, Bunbury and Harvey once more. Maximum Demand was the next foal. He was followed by Fifty Hertz (six wins), Heez Down to Earth (four) and Sheez Edgy (eight). Egerton-Green said when Maximum Demand was broken in, he wouldn’t pace a yard. “All he wanted to do was trot. So young Logan and an old mate use to jog him 13kms up a gravel road. Day after day they’d do this—then finally he clicked into a pace and hasn’t looked back,” he said. “He did a tendon twice in a front leg and Logan and our other son Dylan were in charge of rehab. They got the horse back, which was full credit to the boys. “He does get a little time in the water. Not a great deal because he swims like a rock! I suppose most of his training is done on our soft tracks off the lead, with a few fast gallop sessions.” Egerton-Green said the career of Maximum Demand came close to ending during last season. “We basically retired him because his back legs blew up. He only had three or four runs and we threw him out into an irrigated paddock,” he said. “In just a few months he picked up unbelievably, so it was decided to give him another go—and now he’s had two wins, a handful of placings and a few ‘hard luck stories’. “It’s a 100 percent hobby as our electrical business comes first, but we must love it because it’s nothing unusual to get home from work late and be doing the horses until 9pm. “We operate Harvey Electrical Services and also do a lot of specialized work. Both Dylan and Logan work for our company and a cousin of mine in Bill Jones comes and helps around the stables. “Bill is awesome and there wouldn’t have been a happier person when Maximum Demand won this week. He’s been in the game ‘for 100 years’ and had a bad fall at Collie that put him in hospital for six months, but he’s okay now.” Maximum Demand will face the starter again this Friday night at Gloucester Park. Egerton-Green said the “old boy” would be retired at the end of the season as WA rules don’t permit horses to race as 14-year olds. “He’s going to be hard to replace. He’s a stallion who has just been a beautiful, brilliant horse. We’d love to have a couple more like him in the stable. But he has a home for life with us that’s for sure!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura
More than 75 percent of the dams represented in this year’s Tasmanian Harness Sale to be held on Saturday, February 15 at Carrick Park are race-winning mares or winner-producing mares.   Among the race-winning dams are the Group winners Ark Breeze (Granny Smith Stakes), Cloudy Delight (Evicus Stakes and Tas. Sweepstakes), the feature race winner Lady Elaine (Tas. Sale Classic), the Group placegetter Itz Gemmas Delight ($56,652) and the talented racemares Miss Ruthless 1:58 ($84,053), Danamite Lass 1:55.9 ($60,348), Boutique Art ($47,208) and Sheez Classical ($40,354).   The dams listed in the catalogue have left the Group and feature races winners Modern Ruler (NSW Garrard’s Pace) and Angel Or Demon (Tas. Matron and Mother Of Pearl) and the Group/Listed placegetters Tambros Milly and Class Tells.   The grand-dams of the yearlings have left a host of smart performers such as the multiple Group winner Pachacuti 1:51.7 ($394,731), Sheez Exclusive (Evicus and Bandbox), Strezlecki Lady (Shepparton Gold Cup), Glenwood Jasper (Crystal Stakes), Fortino (Burnie and New Norfolk Cups), Drifting West (Tas. Sires Produce) and Bremusa (Mother Of Pearl). Yearlings are eligible for Tasbred, Vicbred and the NSW Breeders Challenge.   The on-line catalogue, with photos of the yearlings, can be viewed at tasracingcorporate.com.au   By Peter Wharton
FORMER champion Kiwi driver Anthony Butt is genuinely buzzing heading towards Melton’s huge meeting on Saturday night. Despite his stellar record in some of Australia’s biggest races, headlined by seven Hunter Cup wins, Butt’s record in the Victoria Derby and Oaks has been bleak. Remarkably, he hasn’t won a Derby and has only jagged the one Oaks title, aboard Geoff Small’s brilliant Pullover Brown way back in 2003. “My one chance of winning the Derby was Lavros Star (1997). I won the heat on him, but got suspended and Ricky May won the final on him,” Butt recalled. The now NSW-based Butt is confident of turning it all around at Melton this week. And the punters have thrown their support behind him. Butt trains and drives heavily-backed Derby favourite, Line Up, who ran blistering time leading throughout in his heat at Ballarat last week and is drawn to lead again from gate three. He’s been $2.40 into $2.25 on the Aussie TAB since drawing gate three. “It’s a fantastic draw, especially being inside Governor Jujon, who looks the main danger,” Butt said. “Line Up really impressed me last week. He only came to us a couple of weeks before the heat, but obviously I’d driven him in those big races over in NZ. “He’d been working well and I was keen to hold the front. He did a terrific job in quick time after having to sprint three times. “He’s a great chance of leading again and has come through the heat win really well.” Butt’s hopes of winning a second Oaks sit with Cran Dalgety’s speedy and improving filly, Dr Susan, who led, then took a trail on Stylish Memphis and got clear too late when second in her heat at Ballarat. “She was only starting to wind-up on the line last week. I was keen to hold the front, but Mark (Purdon, driving Stylish Memphis) had one crack at me and then his filly started to pulling hard, so when he came again I took the trail knowing it was a heat,” Butt said. “There will be no handing-up this week, that’s for sure. We’ve drawn really again (gate five) and can hopefully find the front, while Stylish Memphis is outside the back and will have to work hard to get around the field and outside of us. “Maybe she will just be too good Stylish Memphis, but Dr Susan is one of those fillies who has just absolutely thrived on the trip away. She’s getting better and better.” Dr Susan has been backed from $3 into $2.50 and is now equal favourite with Stylish Memphis on the Aussie TAB.   Adam Hamilton
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