Day At The Track

Trainer hoping for a lightning strike

04:02 PM 25 Jun 2015 NZST
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Bart Lightning
Bart Lightning
Although Bart Lightning is having his first race start in the Glenview Park Trotters Handicap at Warragul on Monday, the harness racing seven-year-old is already well and truly familiar with the racetrack surroundings.

For the last 18 months, Bart Lightning by the SJ's Photo horse Zooma has served his apprenticeship as a teaching horse for the Gippsland Harness Training Centre.

Between sixty and seventy students have gained their initial experience at driving behind Bart Lightning, either on their own, or in the Centre's double seater sulky.

A perfect, placid teaching horse, Bart Lightning is the first point of contact for new students, as they learn about the sport of trotting, including unfamiliar subjects such as gearing up of horses, training methods and trackwork.

"He's always been for everyone, for their first contact," GHTC trainer Jenni Lewis said.

"He's not the bravest horse around, but he is the most trustworthy and versatile."

Since arriving at the Centre via part-owner/breeder Trevor Brown in July 2013, Bart Lightning has done countless laps of the Warragul Pacing Bowl.

But it is only now that Jenni has the confidence to place the horse in a race.

Bart Lightning made a mistake in a barrier trial at Warragul last Saturday, but did win a trial on the track the previous week.

Local horseman Gary Quinlan has been steering Bart Lightning in his recent trials, helping the horse build his confidence.

Jenni would have sought the services of Gary for the race drive on Monday, however he gave away race driving some years ago.

Top horseman Chris Alford will take the reins on Monday.

Ironically, Bart Lightning's stablemate, Golden Phaeton, also aged seven, will too make his race debut in Monday's event.

Although she is not going into the race overwhelmed with confidence about the chances of the two horses, Jenni is pleased that the Centre has trotters at the races again, as it has been a couple of years since a squaregaiting horse has sported the stable's silks.

Over the last decade, horses such as Selsdon and Drop Of Paradise (both winners of Horse of the Year at Warragul), have been among the best trotters produced by the Centre.

An influx of student enrolments in recent times has seen the numbers of horses at the Centre increase.

Recent additions to the barn include fast class pacer Mediation, and youngster Mystic Castle.

Currently there are 20 full-time students enrolled at the Warragul facility, with a further 15 secondary school students participating in the once-a-week VET in Schools program.

Many students past and present will be on track on Monday to see the pair of trotters compete.

Meanwhile, the Traralgon Pacing Cup is the highlight on a bumper nine-event card on Monday.

The race recognises the twenty-year history of the trotting sport at Traralgon, and runs at 3:02pm.

Longwarry pacer McNiven looks well placed in the event, after a solid effort in winning a barrier trial at Warragul in fast time last Saturday.

Champion reinsman Chris Alford trains and drives Stormed Out, and Chris is in pursuit of his fifth winning drive in a Traralgon Pacing Cup. Chris drove the last race winner on the old Traralgon track.

Such has been the response from trainers to Monday's card, the first race will run at the early time of 11:42am to accommodate the big program.

Strong entries have been received for all races on the day with 93 horses drawn across the nine events.

Picture attached of Bart Lightning in training mode at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul.
Kyle Galley
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