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They say nothing really pays off as much as patience does. It's something Maiden Gully trainer Maree Campbell, husband Paul and daughter Holi have learned twice early in the 2021 harness racing season. Three weeks after scoring an emotional win with Sonofatrump at Melton, in the trotter's first start in two-and-a-half years, the devout harness racing family was able to enjoy more success with another of their horses returning from a layoff in Lucinda Mac. Having her first start since July last year due to an assortment of issues, the six-year-old trotting mare returned to racing in style with a win at Bendigo last Thursday. A big night for the Campbells was capped by a double, after the five-year-old pacer Belittled notched up his sixth career win earlier in the night. Dual wins gave the stable the amazing early strike-rate of three wins from six starters in the new year. For Maree Campbell, a successful return for Lucinda Mac brought with it equal does of joy and relief after plans for an earlier return to the track were thwarted. "She had a trial a few weeks ago and we were really happy with that," she said. "But over the winter months she actually stopped drinking there for a while. Lucinda Mac "After her trial, we nominated her and actually had to scratch because she got this respiratory infection, which has been going around a few stables. "Obviously, we would have liked to give her another trial to see actually where she was at, but at the same time, she had been working well with Belittled and Sonofatrump, who have been going well. "We were somewhat confident she would run a decent race, but my biggest concern was she had never won over that distance (1650m) before. "But she finished strong on the line, which has convinced us all's well." The win automatically qualified Lucinda Mac for the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship Final, to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday, February 5. The mare has previously been placed at Group 1 level as a four-year-old behind Moonlight Dream in the Vicbred Super Series. Belittled's win extended the Western Terror gelding's record this season to one win and one placing from three starts, including a third at Melton to start the year. Campbell described Belittled as an opportunist and was thrilled to see him break through on the back of a pair of handy runs at harness racing headquarters. "He's never been that lucky with his draws, but at Bendigo he didn't have to go back to last," she said. "Quite often he'll draw five or six and you'll have to snag him back to last and make a move at the end of the race. Belittled "But Chris' (Chris Alford) drive was 10 out of 10 - he put him into the race at the right time and he could dictate what he wanted to happen. "2021 has been a very good year for us so far. We had Sonofatrump win first-up and Lucinda's won first-up and Belittled has been really consistent. "Hopefully things can continue." Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Co-trainers Anthony Butt and Sonya Smith took giant strides into the new Trots Country Cups Championship season with a picture perfect weekend, sweeping the Bendigo and Cobram double-header that signalled the launch to the great race series. Wolf Stride burst past an even field to claim the Garrards Horse & Hound Bendigo Pacing Cup on Saturday night and then, on Sunday, Perfect Stride won an eventful Jim Phillips Memorial Pacing Cup, with Butt emerging from the fray at the bend to win by a head. The Melton driver’s success was also a memorable double for key backer, owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, who swept the respectively $70,000 and $35,000 cups, with more riches to come as the season continues with this weekend’s Shepparton-Hamilton double-header. “(Bendigo’s) a great race,” Butt told Trots Vision on Saturday night. “I’ve been coming here for quite a few years, especially when I was back in New Zealand, trying to win it. I think I’ve run second a few times. It’s taken a while, but I finally got there.” He had to be patient to get his hands on the cup, with Wolf Stride’s sitting at the rear or the field from his poor draw while leader Forty Thieves and second-favourite Our Uncle Sam dictated terms at the front of affairs. When Greg Sugars began three-wide on Im Anothermasterpiece before the bell it provided Butt the perfect arm chair ride into the race, and then he advanced four-wide at the final turn off a 28sec third quarter. While Emma Stewart’s pair Fourbigmen (second) and Somewhere Secret (fourth) boxed on and Sirletic (third) flashed home, Wolf Stride was quickest to the line in the 28sec final quarter to register his 1.5-metre win. “Good fields, very even, and when he drew out the back like that he was always going to need a bit of luck, but he’s progressing really well,” Butt said. “He’s going to have to keep improving to take on the big boys, but he’s heading in the right direction at the moment.” Butt outlined an ambitious path for the five-year-old, who will now be directed towards the January 23 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, a $110,000 classic that’s likely to lure some of Australia’s leading pacers. “This year won’t be easy for him, he will probably go to the Ballarat Cup now and the Hunter Cup, if he’s good enough for them I wouldn’t mind taking him up to Sydney for the Miracle Mile carnival,” Butt said. “I think this year will stand him in good stead for next season – it’s always good to have a year on the Grand Circuit against the big boys. It toughens them up and if they’re good enough they step up and put in a really good year next year. “It’s going to be a step up to Lochinvar Art, King Of Swing and those sorts of horses. He’s at that grade now where you’ve got to take them on and he’ll let us know if he’s good enough.” There are also lofty aims for Perfect Stride, who reminded of his class with victory in Sunday’s Cobram Pacing Cup, the 11th of the just-turned four-year-old’s career. Like his stablemate, he wouldn’t find the front until the closing strides of what was a terrifically run Group 3 race, which was turned on its head when $1.60 favourite Western Sonador broke in the score up. That left driver/co-trainer Rebecca Bartley playing catch-up from the back of the field, but with a mid-race moved she advanced to the lead ahead of Alpine Stride (leader) and tiring A Fair Ol Dance (breeze). Butt had camped on Greg Sugars (Malcolms Rhythm) back in the running line and when an opening emerged at the final bend he pounced, grabbing lengths in the 28sec last quarter to win in a blanket finish. Second-placed Malcolms Rhythm and third-placed Western Sonador finished within a half-neck while Always Fast flashed home for fourth and continues to look on the cusp of something special. “I was keen to get on (Malcolms Rhythm)’s back early and just play it by ear, we ended up getting a really good run through sitting pretty close,” Butt told Trots Vision post-race. “(Perfect Stride)’s one of those horses who can follow speed, he’s always raced well in good races. When he gets a better class of opposition it doesn’t worry him, he’s still got that fast quarter. “He’s a bit of an opportunist, needs things to go his way. First step up to this grade this year and he did a great job.”   HRV - Michael Howard

The wins have flowed thick and fast for Bendigo region harness racing trainers over the past week. A magnificent seven days rolled on at Horsham on Thursday, where the team of Kate Hargreaves and Alex Ashwood notched a double with Good Cop and Beau Garcon, and later in the evening at Echuca, where the John Tormey-trained and Jordan Leedham-driven Hancocks Hero made it back-to-back wins. Ten individual trainers have accounted for 12 winners in total since Saturday night's meeting at Lord's Raceway, with the Hargreaves stable the most prolific with three.   The foundations for a successful period were laid at Bendigo last weekend. On a night dominated by the scintillating performance of pacing superstar Lochinvar Art, Bendigo region horses claimed wins in four of the nine races contested. A first metropolitan race success for Heathcote trainer Terry French with Form Analyst - driven by Tayla French - kicked-off a run of three-straight winners to start the meeting for the local brigade. Carla Innes-Goodridge was next to strike with her emerging four-year-old Zarem, driven by 2020 Bendigo Pacing Cup-winning reinsman Jason Lee, before the Hargreaves-trained Streitkid completed a clean sweep of the first three events by notching his 13th career win. A productive night was capped by a tough win to the Julie Douglas-trained Rocknroll Eyes in a keenly-contested NR 70 to 79 pace. It was career win number for 17 after 88 starts for the six-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, who last won at Mildura in July. There would be no letting up when racing returned to Lord's Raceway on Wednesday night, with the locals adding a further four wins. Maryborough's Ray Cross got the ball rolling, combining with Bendigo reinsman Rod Lakey, for an impressive win with the three-year-old filly Countess Chiron. Next up was Bendigo trainer Brad Stevens, who broke through for a maiden win with the three-year-old trotting filly Everybodylovesme, making it back-to-back wins for the progeny of Imperial Count following the earlier success of Countess Chiron. Everbodylovesme was brilliantly driven out in front by Ellen Tormey and was able to notch her first win at career start number seven. A win for Lockwood trainer Ron Wicks with Ambro Hugh made it three for the night, before the local win haul again hit four courtesy of Goornong's Nigel Milne and Our Doreen Days. Originally trained by legendary trotting identity, the late Colin Redwood, Ambro Hugh has had six starts for one win and a placing for Wicks following a brief stint with the Justin Brewin stable. A double at Horsham on Thursday for the Hargreaves stable lifted the young team to equal sixth on the state trainers' premiership with 57 winners, easily a career-best. The stable will have three runners at Ballarat on Saturday night, with Streitkid looking to back-up after his win last weekend, along with Well Defined and three three-year-old Beat City. Bendigo region winners since Saturday Bendigo (Saturday): Form Analyst (Terry French); Zarem (Carla Innes-Goodridge), Streitkid (Kate Hargreaves); Rocknroll Eyes (Julie Douglas). Maryborough (Monday): Rules Don't Apply (Anthony Crossland). Bendigo (Wednesday night): Countess Chiron (Ray Cross); Everybodylovesme (Brad Stevens); Ambro Hugh (Ron Wicks); Our Doreen Days (Nigel Milne). Horsham (Thursday): Good Cop, Beau Garcon (Kate Hargreaves). Echuca (Thursday night): Hancocks Hero (John Tormey). By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser  

EX-PAT Aussie Shane Tritton said Ride High reminds him of the great Christian Cullen and he’s sure he would hold his own anything in the world. Tritton, who is making a real splash in the US after making it home earlier this year, said Ride High’s track record-smashing 1min49sec flat for 1650m at Bendigo last night would equate to at least 1min47sec in the US. “That’s as close to Christian Cullen’s Miracle Mile run I’ve ever seen,” Tritton said. “I have no doubt in my mind the tracks and carts are two seconds quicker over here. One of the best (US) pacers went 1min47.2sec over the mile on a 1000m track the other day (here) and broke the track record. “Ride High would’ve matched that on what I saw tonight and he looks like he isn’t flat out. And he sat outside them. “From what I’ve seen, they need to put a plan in place to get him to The Meadowlands (New Jersey) in the next 12 months. “We might see something the world has never seen before.” Ride High’s 14th win from just 15 starts was his most mind-blowing yet. He drew the back row, came three wide around to sit parked at the 1200m, crushed the leader Sirletic and was nursed to the line for the 100m or so to win by 21.4sec. Watch the race here click here. His 1min49sec mile rate for 1650m (not a mile) was a staggering 2.7sec inside the precious track record. And he appeared to have plenty of petrol left in the tank. Trainer Clayton Tonkin and driver Kima Frenning have been telling us after each win this campaign that Ride High is just warming-up and the best is yet to come. They were right. “There’s been a bit of talk about ‘he hasn’t beaten a lot’ and ‘he still has a lot to prove’ … I think he just did that,” Frenning told Trots Vision after the win. Tonkin added: “We knew he had that in him. For all the great horses we’ve had, this guy is out of the box. Something very special. “If I didn’t have Ride High and know what he was capable of, I didn’t think I’d ever see a horse run that time at Bendigo and be eased down the last bit.” Ride High’s cruised to four wins from as many runs on the comeback trail from a throat operation and now boasts nine wins on end. Tonkin plans to stick his model of racing Ride High every fortnight, meaning his next run will be at Shepparton on August 15. That’s Lochinvar Art’s home track. Lochinvar Art is likely to chase second wins from as many runs back from a spell at Ballarat next Saturday night. Would his trainer-driver David Moran back him up a week later against Ride High at Shepparton? With talk of a match-race subsiding, let’s hope they meet in a race very soon, maybe even Shepparton on August 15. “Peter (Gleeson, Ride High’s owner-breeder) isn’t keen on a match-race, certainly not unless they put up some really serious money, so we’ll just stick to racing him every second week,” Tonkin said. “The problem is I don’t think they’ll run the Victoria Cup on October 10 with the way things are in Victoria, so there’s nothing big to set him for in the next couple of months at least.”   By Adam Hamilton

While all eyes have been on the harness racing return of crack reinsman Daryl "Dasher" Douglas, his younger brother Glenn has bobbed up with a career highlight to steal the march on Dasher's comeback victory. Glenn, based at the Bendigo suburb of Strathfieldsaye, landed his 2000th training victory at his home track on Sunday night. "I really had no idea that I was getting near that number. I guess I'd never really thought seriously about it," the laid-back trainer said. "I suppose in years to come I might look back on it and think it was a bit of an achievement - it's a bit like footballers who kick a winning goal. You don't think much about it at the time, but it's brought up by fans years and years later." The multiple Victorian premiership trainer said while he wasn't aware of the significance of the win, members of his family were. "I think (longtime family friend) Steve Warren might have tipped off our eldest daughter Laura that I wasn't far away from reaching 2000. And of course, I'm happy to have achieved it. "Steve got to know us after he was left to baby-sit us at Bathurst years ago. We were quite young, but he's watched us grow up and taken a personal interest. He's a great mate, who is just passionate about harness racing." Glenn reached the magical 2000-win milestone with stable newcomer You Ninety Two (Auckland Reactor-Numismatic (Elsu). He later made it a double when successful with Van Niekerk (Net Ten Eom-Rosie Lindenny) which took him to 54 wins and 127 placings for the season. But not to be outdone, two nights later again at Bendigo, brother Daryl posted his first comeback victory after stepping away from the sport more than five years ago. Daryl has over 4000 wins to his credit and is one of our country's most successful reinsmen - and got the money with six-year-old trotting mare Bacardi Jess prepared by Glenn. It was only a matter of time before Daryl got back into the winner's circle. He drove at Shepparton last Saturday night and then had one engagement at Bendigo the following night, prior to competing at that venue again on Tuesday. He had posted a third, two fourths and a fifth from 10 attempts, but in fairness they ranged in double figure starting price from 12/1 to 50/1. "We were giving Daryl heaps of ribbing about not being able to get a winner," Glenn laughed. "Someone even suggested he should try and apply for a five-point concessional claim! He took it all on the chin, and he got there in the end. He's never someone who's full-on with emotion, but he was entitled to feel that it was some sort of achievement," Glenn said. Glenn said former training great Peter Tonkin, father of Clayton, would have been one pleased to see Dasher's success. "He's always been a great support to Daryl and was another one who did a lot behind the scenes to get him back driving." Bacardi Jess (Bacardi Lindy USA-Strapon (Straphanger) led all the way to win the $7000 TLC Carpentry Trot for owners Margaret Cameron and Roma Pocock, who helps out at the Douglas stables. Glenn said he was elated to see Bacardi Jess, not only win for his brother, but also for the connections. "They both love the sport and Roma in particular has been involved in a number of roles over many years. She is an absolute gem to have around our stables. We have between 25 and 30 in work and without her help and support, we'd be lost," he said. "Roma comes and gives us a hand for three hours on most days and keeps things rolling along."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Junortoun harness racing trainer Dylan Marshall has July 4 circled on his calendar. It's the date he hopes to take his in-form mare Barbie Mattgregor to Melton to contest her first race at harness racing headquarters. Marshall believes the much-improved - in behaviour as much as form - seven-year-old has certainly earned the right with a string of consistent performances during the regional racing period. Following another well-deserved win at Lord's Raceway on Wednesday, Barbie Mattgregor's record under the revised racing format reads three wins and a second for six starts. That formline is no fluke, according to Marshall. "She has just kept on improving and we have been able to get her sound and keep her sound and she's repaying the favour," he said. "Her previous 10 starts leading into it (regional racing) had been good anyway, she just hadn't had a lot of luck. "Probably the smaller field sizes have helped her a little bit a couple of times, while a few other things have gone her way at different times. "She's not the easiest horse to drive, she can get a little bit worked up. "But sound and happy are the two key words with her." Wednesday night's win, with in-form reinsman Josh Aiken in the sulky, boosted Barbie Mattgregor's overall record to six wins and 16 placings from 69 starts. All six of those wins have been achieved since her arrival from up north, where the mare had her first 29 starts on either Queensland or New South Wales tracks. With two wins and a second from her last three starts, Marshall felt Barbie Mattgregor had earned her crack at a metropolitan race.  Barbie Mattgregor (inside) wins at Lord's Raceway on May 14.  CLAIRE WESTON PHOTOGRAPHY   "That's the next step for her. She hasn't been there before, but I think she can give it a bit of a shake," he said. "She has been running good times and seems to be able to sit on the speed good. That's what you need to be able to do down there." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Brett Shipway is the first to acknowledge his harness racing mare Di Li doesn't win out of turn.  But the Craisbrook trainer-driver was able to leave Lord's Raceway on Wednesday night a happy man after the five-year-old trotter notched up her fifth career win at start number 63. It was Di Li's second victory at Bendigo in two months. She previously won the Vale Colin Redwood Trot on April 3, but had been unable to add to that tally in her next five runs, despite a pair of placings. Shipway, who was in the sulky as Di Li eased past a tiring Regal Assassin in the final stages of the race, was delighted the mare had shown plenty of pluck in running down the race leader. "Everything went her way, she had the run of the race," he said. "She's an average horse, but if she gets the right circumstances, she can get her way. "We were always driving for luck, but our mare did run on and she did lift when she got told to her." Di Li, whose five victories have been complemented by 17 minor placings, has paid an average dividend of $23.78 at her wins. "She had a few injuries as a baby, but she's battled on and done a good job," Shipway said. "She's out of our own stallion (Louey Louey Louey), who we bred and owned. "She'll probably be back at Bendigo when there's another race for her, not the next meeting, but the meeting after. "She will probably struggle going up to the next grade, but you have got to have a crack. The only way to find out is to try." With coronavirus restrictions slowly easing in Victoria, Shipway was looking forward to the possible return to racing at nearby Maryborough in July. "I'll have to drive around the block a few times because I've gotten used to travelling," he said. "The horses won't know what's hit them when they just have to go up the road." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of the Bendigo Advertiser

There's an old Chinese proverb that says, 'good things come in pairs', and for harness racing driver Shane Organ, it has proved true. Just weeks after scoring a drought-breaking training win with his only horse Tiza Nightmare, the 23-year-old buttered up by landing his first win as a driver aboard the Glenn Sharp-trained Mystic Chip at Lord's Raceway, Bendigo on Monday night. Organ, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was still on cloud nine the morning after his first driving win, while busy at work at trainer Gary Donaldson's Junortoun stables. "The last couple of months I have been getting a couple more of drives and it's starting to get better and better," he said. "He only won by half a head, but a win's a win, it doesn't matter how you get there. "I have had heaps of placings on Glenn's horses. I drove Goodtime Rusty (for Terry French) a few times and got a third on him last week, so things have been good. "It's been an amazing time, hopefully it leads into a good career in harness racing." Organ's first driving win did not go unnoticed by his peers, who were only to happy to remind him of his success. "Everyone at the track was pretty happy," he said. Among the first of the well-wishers was trainer Sharp. "Shane was more than happy, he couldn't stop talking," he said. "To drive his first winner after getting that training winner the other week, it's great for a young bloke." Mystic Chip, a seven-year-old mare, broke a six-month drought in recording her fifth career win from 74 starts. With nearly a month in between starts, Sharp, who has been training trotters for about 17 years, said Mystic Chip was arguably a little underdone, but he would gladly take the win. "It's been hard the way racing has been programmed, you don't get a run every week. It depends on the race and the number of horses," he said.     Shane Organ gets his first driving win aboard the Glenn Sharp-trained Mystic Chip   "She is probably underdone because she hasn't had enough racing, but she goes well fresh. "That's the positive we got out of it." Mystic Chip will back-up at Bendigo on Thursday night in a standing-start event. "She's usually a pretty good beginner, so if she can get away good and get to the pegs, she can get an earn again," said Sharp. "Whether she can win, I don't know." The Longlea trainer also has Bellmac Bambi knocking on the door of a win, with the filly producing three placings from her last five starts. "She's a nice little horse, touchwood, she hasn't done anything wrong up to this point," he said. "She's close to winning one. "After this she will go out for a bit of break, but once she comes back in the spring she will be a better horse next season."  Shane Organ with his only horse Tiza Nightmare. Picture: DARREN HOWE   Meanwhile, Strathfieldsaye trainer Glen Douglas extended his lead at the top of the Central region trainers' standings with a treble. Meanwhile, Strathfieldsaye trainer Glen Douglas extended his lead at the top of the Central region trainers' standings with a treble. Douglas bookended the meeting with wins with Ozzie Sunshine (driven by Ellen Tormey) and Motu Cullen (Alex Ashwood), and also picked up a victory with Diesel Don, who was having his first start for the stable. Other winners on the card included the Donaldson-trained Flaming Fives, who blitzed the field in the NR 46 to 51 trot, to win by 19.2 metres, Edwin Bromac (Greg Norman), Streitkid (Kate Hargreaves) and Rigondeaux (Maddie Ray and Haydon Gray). Rigondeaux has now won three of his five past starts since April 1, starting with a victory at Stawell before the move to regional racing. By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of THe Bendigo Advertiser

A 10-year-old that's been off the harness racing scene for nearly six years has notched up a victory that must surely rank as one of the greatest comebacks since Lazarus! All-but-forgotten bay gelding Von Ponder (Ponder-Heide Von Beltz (Bistro Lobell) apparently showed only modest capacity as a youngster, and was last despatched to the paddock as a four-year-old - where he remained until a little over four months ago. But he's certainly flourished under the careful attention of Bendigo trainer Shaun McNaulty, and his assistant Ben Pell. And after three handy performances, the big fellow scored a tidy win at his home track recently. "I think he was one of those horses that gets put out in a big paddock and sort of forgotten about," McNaulty said. "There may have been a few minor niggling problems, but the horse was pretty much retired," he said. "He was at a Marong property just down the road from me. Ben, who's one of the part-owners, helps me out and he was working another horse that got injured back in November. He wanted something else to work and he remembered Von Ponder was out running around in a paddock." After seven starts in Queensland as a three-year-old at his first race campaign (way back in 2012) Von Ponder was off the scene for nearly 18 months. He reappeared at a Victorian meeting at Maryborough in 2014 where he was unplaced-and was then banished for nearly six years before reappearing. To be precise, Von Ponder had a break of 2169 days or three weeks short of six years! "Ben owns the horse with a mate in Drew Gray," McNaulty explained. "They purchased him from Queensland back in late 2012," he said. After four months of jogging up, it was off to the trials and Von Ponder showed he hadn't forgotten what the racing caper was all about. "He went well at his first trial, and then we thought he went extra good at his next hit out," McNaulty said. "At his return race start on April 3, he finished down the track, as we expected, because of being away from racing for so long," he said. "He pulled up a little lame and we were all a bit disappointed, but it only proved to be a hoof abscess." A fortnight later Von Ponder ran a nice second placing at Bendigo and repeated the dose seven days later in a sub two-minute mile rate. Then a victory last Thursday repaid connections for their enduring patience and perseverance. After being eased off the gate by reinsman Rod Lakey, Von Ponder was caught three wide and then worked to the death seat. Shaken up on the home corner, the big lump of a horse responded nicely to post his unlikely comeback win in 1.57-2. To watch the video replay click here. And McNaulty has no doubts the old-timer can make his presence felt for some time to come. "He works nicely at home and he's been steadily getting better at each of his race outings. He hasn't got any issues, so I reckon the boys are going to have a bit of fun, that's for sure," he said. Prior to his latest success, Von Ponder was previously in the winner's circle at Brisbane's Albion Park on October 22, 2012. His lifetime summary now stands at 12 starts for two wins and three runner-up cheques for $8400 in stakes. Central Region (Bendigo) Trainer Statistics Trainer                   Starts      First       Placings       Average win S/P Glenn Douglas          82           16               20                  $5.35 Kate Hargreaves       45             7               13                  $7.38 Shaun McNaulty        19             5                5                 $13.26 Justin Brewin             17             5                1                   $5.72 Keith Cotchin              20            4                 5                  $2.50 Gary Donaldson          15            4                 3                  $7.53 Trevor Patching            7             3                 3                  $5.07 Anthony Crossland        5            3                 1                  $1.73 Ross Graham              26            2                 13                 $5.85 Ray Cross                   18            2                    4               $16.50 Terry Gange

There's been plenty of win droughts broken since the move to regional-based harness racing in Victoria in early April. You can now add Frank Barac to the list. The Elmore hobby trainer notched his first winner since Anzac Day 2016, when Madam Reactor won the three-year-old maiden pace at Lord's Raceway on Thursday night. The filly's first win came at career start number 12 and followed a pair of previous placings, including a third at Bendigo the previous week. Barac said once back at home he celebrated with a glass of Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Shiraz. "It's been a long time (between wins), a couple of years," he said. "This filly has always had ability, but it's taken a long time to get her where she is. "She's a bit immature. I gave her a long break (after her eighth start) and gave her four months off and brought her back in slowly and suddenly she's turned the corner for me." Despite putting win number one on board, Barac said there was no rush to get Madam Reactor back to the track, albeit a crack at another three-year-old fillies pace next Thursday will surely prove tempting. "It helps when there is no long travelling involved, she's not the best traveller. Short trips to Bendigo probably suit her." he said.  Frank Barac and daughter Yvette with Madam Reactor and winning driver Rod Lakey.  CLAIRE WESTON PHOTOGRAPHY   Madam Reactor, by Auckland Reactor out of Madam Altissimo, is owned and bred by Barac and his wife Laura, with daughter Yvette charged with the strapping duties. She was driven to victory by comeback driver Rod Lakey. "He's come back with a vengeance, he's driving winners from the left and the right," Barac said. "The bloke who was stabled next to me last night said I reckon if we could put Rod on a broomstick we could win with that. "He did very well out in front, I was very happy with his drive."   To watch Madam Reactor win at Lord's Raceway click here   Before Thursday, Barac's last race win was with Shebetterwin in the Ray Woods Memorial Pace at the Kyabram Harness Racing Club meeting at Echuca on April 25, 2016. Night eight of regional racing was highlighted by a training double to Glenn Douglas with Ozzie Playboy and Torrid Saint, driving doubles to Lakey (including Nikita Adele) and Alex Ashwood (Keilah and Surbiton Pretender), and a second win on the trot for the trainer/driver combination of Darryl Pearce and Shannon O'Sullivan with Paying Your Way.   By Kieran Iles   Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Easy-going Bendigo harness racing trainer Shaun McNaulty still pinches himself when he recalls the day he received a telephone call "out of the blue". McNaulty said he didn't recognize the number at all, but when the caller started chatting about a horse named Hashtag he immediately took notice. "I used to watch Hashtag probably from when he first of all started racing for (Shepparton trainer) Laura Crossland," McNaulty said. "He'd do a few things wrong, but there was always plenty of bottom to him," he said. Crossland won 10 races with the pacer before he was transferred to the Sydney stables of Craig Cross, who won three. Hashtag then headed to Queensland for a stint with Grant Dixon which produced one victory. Then connections-the Charantoss Racing Syndicate-decided it was time for Hashtag to return to Victoria. "That was my lucky day when I took the call from Charles Merola, who was ringing on behalf of the syndicate made up of 10 mates. The horse is undoubtedly the best I've ever had," McNaulty said. And Hashtag (Shadyshark Hanover-Elvira Bromac (Badlands Hanover) showed just why he's so highly-rated by McNaulty with a brilliant performance at Bendigo on Wednesday night. The brown gelding stopped the clock in winning the $12,000 Garrards Horse and Hound Pace in a time of 1.51-9, equalling the track record set back in February by the Maree Campbell-trained gelding Belittled. "We really had the best run in the race, sitting on the fence behind the two leaders, and they kept the pace on. The track is on fire at the moment, but the front ones didn't back off," McNaulty said. Streitkid (Shannon O'Sullivan) led with Form Analyst (Tayla French) up on the outside. Both horses were stirred up and pulling hard with the first quarter a blistering 26.2secs, followed with splits of 28.0, 28.2 and 29.4. Recent comeback driver Rod Lakey shot Hashtag up the sprint lane to record an easy win over Courageous Saint and Animated, the latter certainly being one to follow after charging home from the clouds. Driver Rod Lakey with Hashtag McNaulty said his pacer had a perfect attitude, with an unbelievable desire to win. "He just tries his heart out every time and loves getting out there. He's an absolute ripper. I'd compare him to one of those blokes that you always want to go to the pub with!" McNaulty laughed. Hashtag joined the Marong stable of McNaulty last August and has since won four races-the others being at Melton (twice) and Mildura. "I had planned on taking him up the highway to Mildura again for the Pacing Cup Carnival. But that got scrubbed with the coronavirus pandemic," he said. "With the regionalisation racing restrictions we haven't any option but to keep racing him at Bendigo, but that's okay because there are going to be some interesting battles ahead with Animated because he's certainly one of the best in the area at the moment." Gifted reinsman Rod Lakey, who recently returned to race driving after an absence of more than a decade, went home with a double. Apart from Hashtag, he was also successful with the Lynne Mercieca prepared pacer Art Finest (Art Official-Finest (D M Dillinger).   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Bendigo Harness Racing Club is delighted to announce that Aldebaran Park, Australia’s home of the straightout trotter, will be the new sponsor of the Bendigo Trotters Cup.   The announcement further strengthens Aldebaran Park’s commitment to promoting square-gaiters races in Victoria, particularly at Bendigo where it has sponsored the Club’s signature race for trotting mares, the Group 1 $50,000 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, since its inception in 2010.   The Group 3 Aldebaran Park Bendigo Trotters Cup will be held on Friday, June 26 over 2650 metres from a standing start with discretionary handicapping.   The race carries basic prizemoney of $25,000 with Aldebaran Park providing a service voucher of $2,000 to the winning owner to be used for a service to one of the Aldebaran Park stallion roster in the 2020/21 season.   The Aldebaran Park stud lineup is spearheaded by former champion Skyvalley NZ, the current leading Australian-bred trotting stallion and sire of the mighty Tornado Valley, and the royally-bred, well-performed Muscle Hill horse Aldebaran Eagle, whose first crop are yearlings.   The Bendigo Trotters Cup was inaugurated in 1972 and has been won by many of the greats of the Australian trotting turf including Scotch Notch, True Roman, Knight Pistol, Lenin, Stormy Morn and Just Money.   Aldebaran Park principal Duncan McPherson OAM said: “Aldebaran Park is delighted to extend its relationship with Bendigo HRC and coupled with our existing sponsorship of the Maori Mile it again strengthens our resolve to ensure that we promote trotting in Australia.   “There is little doubt that as an Industry we are internationalising and globalising the trotting gait in the Southern Hemisphere thus ensuring that we are a significant market of interest for Northern Hemisphere investors.”   Eric Hendrix, the general manager of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, said:   “Already being involved at Bendigo with our Group 1 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, I felt this was a great opportunity to once again help grow the exposure and compliment the hard work Duncan McPherson has already done for trotting.   “The BHRC has a fantastic relationship with Aldebaran Park and we look forward to growing both the Trotters Cup and Maori Mile in the years to come.”     Peter Wharton

There was a bittersweet irony to former Bendigo harness racing trainer-driver Chris Svanosio's wins aboard Surbiton Hartbreak and Pinevale Victoria at Lord's Raceway on Tuesday night. Svanosio, who moved his training base from Bendigo to Romsey late last year, does not know when he will next get the chance to compete at the venue he still regards as his hometrack. With Harness Racing Victoria moving to a region-based model from today (Thursday) in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Svanosio finds himself away from the Bendigo-based central region and zoned in the east, which has racing bases at Kilmore and Cranbourne. As he does with most things, Svanosio is taking the new regulations in his stride and is fully supportive of the move. "I'm just happy to be racing - none of us have anything to complain about, it could be a lot worse," he said. "We don't know what will happen the next few months, so it was good to go back home and get a couple of winners. "Any winner from here on in is a bonus, I just hope we can keep on racing as long as we can." Svanosio, who is enjoying another productive season with 31 training wins and a similar number of driving wins, said he was rapt to get a win for veteran Eddington-based trainer and long-time friend John Douglas on Surbiton Hartbreak. To watch the race click here "He was one of the first people, who ever gave me drives, when I first started years ago," he said. "I've known John now for a long time. "I don't drive much for him these days, but we have always been good mates, so it was good to get a winner for him."  Surbiton Hartbreak is pictured during an earlier win at Maryborough.   The Courage Under Fire four-year-old has now won two races in his eight career starts for Douglas, who oversees just a small team of horses. Svanosio was similarly chuffed to notch a victory with one of his own horses, the improving three-year-old Pinevale Victoria. "That's her third win for the season, she's not a champion, but she's a real honest little trotter," he said. "She ran in a Group 1 race a little while ago, it was good to get a win on the board. "She was bred by Terry Forster and Helen Lyttleton, who used to have the Sandhurst Road milk bar, and have leased her out to a group of Bendigo people, which was exciting for them." To watch this race click here Meanwhile, Svanosio said Norquay and Repeat After Me would be spelled after productive campaigns, which yielded multiple metropolitan wins. Two of his stable's stars Magicool and Anywhere Hugo will continue to race and are entered at Kilmore on Friday. "We have a lot of young ones who have just qualified the last few weeks - some there will be races for and some there won't," Svanosio said. "We'll just play it by ear. "We'll leave it up to the owners a bit, if they want to give them a spell they can, or if they're happy to have them keep trying to win a race or two, we're happy with that too." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Bendigo harness racing reinsman Jayden Brewin has been left a little battered and shaken following a car crash on Wednesday but has vowed to be in the sulky on Friday night at Lord's Raceway. The 19-year-old avoided major injury when he swerved to miss a kangaroo on the Avoca-Dunolly Road, en-route to Shepparton from Stawell. Brewin had earlier notched up a winning double aboard the Adam Stephens-trained pair Fowsands and Wingate Guy, but had to forego all drives that night at Shepparton. Despite a harrowing experience, the former South Australian, who relocated to Bendigo last October, conceded the accident could have been a lot worse. Damage to the car Jayden Brewin was driving when he crashed on Wednesday.   Damage to the car Jayden Brewin was driving when he crashed on Wednesday. "I have gone to swing around a skippy and as I have done that I half lost control of the car and veered off the road," Brewin said. "I couldn't quite the steering wheel underneath me and have slid off the road and smashed into a few signs that were protecting a creek. "I must have just hit the edge of the creek, which sent the car flying. I veered off the road trying to stop it and I ended up about 10cm away from smashing into a big gum tree. "The worst thing was I took mum's car because mine needed a service. Cody Winnell@codywinnell   Big relief with reinsman @jayden_brewin lucky to escape serious injury after being involved in a bad car crash today after leaving Stawell. He drove two winners there.   Jayden brewin  · Mar 13, 2020   Replying to @GiddiebK Wow I have had 35 drives in nearly a fortnight I’m on a roll "She was a bit distraught looking at it and thinking about how bad it could have been." With a day in between to recover, Brewin declared himself fit and ready for action on Friday night at Bendigo, where he has been booked for seven drives. "I'm alright, I'm just a bit sore in my back, but that's about it," he said. "I worked a couple of horses this morning (Thursday) and everything was alright. "I was thinking how good is this (driving a double) and I thought the day would only get better, but it didn't end up that way." Race 1 won by number 8 Fowsands. Driven by Jayden Brewin for trainer Adam Stephens. Mile rate 1:59.9. Next race 2.28. Race 1 was sponsored by Premix King in Stawell. @TheTrotsComAu   Stawell Harness RC@StawellHarnessR   Race 2 won by number 6 Wingate Guy thats a double for driver Jayden Brewin and trainer Adam Stephens.@TheTrotsComAu Brewin will have little time to reflect on the accident, with him and his father Justin in the midst of moving their 12 horses from Danny Curran's Marong property to their new training base at Lord's Raceway. "Tomorrow (Friday) is our official move-in day, but we're moving most everything in (Thursday), so we don't interfere with the trots tomorrow night," he said. "We're very thankful to Danny for giving us a place to set up shop. "Making the move, we think Bendigo has got everything we need, especially now that we have got quite a few young ones in the stable." He said he was grateful for the support and well-wishes following news of his accident. Brewin, who has 33 wins and 89 placings this season, nominated the Gary Donaldson-trained Liberland (race one) and the Wayne Gretgrix-trained Manassa Sky in the feature race (race five) as perhaps is best chances on Friday night. The meeting will be the first to be run under Harness Racing Victoria's new region-based model, which restricts trainers and drivers from competing outside their own designated region. "Manassa Sky has been going pretty good and is a good chance if we can zip across to the fence," Brewin said. "It depends on what Glenn Douglas does, if he rolls off the arm (on Vandanta) he will lead on his ear. "He was a bit stiff last start, Manassa Sky, if he had got out any earlier he would he have won. He should be around the mark." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of the Bendigo Advertiser  

A tireless dedication to preserving harness racing history has landed Bendigo's Noel Ridge industry acclaim. Ridge, the curator of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club's history and memorabilia collection at Lord's Raceway, was bestowed with a Harness Racing Australian Meritorious Service Award. The award was presented at a function on night two of the Summer of the Glory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Ridge said the award came as 'a total shock'. "I am still shocked, I had no idea this was coming," he said. "Judy Rothacker, from the Harness Racing Victoria board presented it, and it was to do with my researching harness racing industry, particularly in central Victoria and the other bits and pieces I do, like writing. "I was there under the guise of being invited to the official function and low and behold this happened."  Noel Ridge at Lord's Raceway in 2016.   The award is the third industry honour for Ridge in the past five months. In September, he was appointed to the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame (VHRHOF) selection committee. He also picked up the Graham Goffin Memorial Award for best historical feature for an article he penned on the late former horse owner, breeder, trainer and driver John Phyland. For Ridge, his passion and dedication for racing history is a labour of love. "If we haven't got a history, we haven't got an industry," he said. "I'm thrilled (by the award win), particularly from a club point of view. "What the Bendigo Harness Racing Club has established with the collection is a pretty unique point of difference." The meritorious service award was the only one presented on Saturday night. Bendigo Harness Racing Club committee member Paul Campbell said there could be no more worthier winner than Ridge. "I'd hate to think how many hours he puts in behind the scenes trying to capture history, and to store it and display it," he said. "It's a real labour of love for him. "Even the other night when the award was being presented he was still chasing history while were there (at Melton). "He doesn't stop. He's tireless and he is infectious as well. "Because of him, I and a lot of others, have a greater awareness of the history of our sport and the fact we need to store it and display it because once it's gone it's gone for good." By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Bendigo's Harness Racing Club's cup meeting at Lord's Raceway this Friday sees the eleventh running of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, a Group 1 sprint race for trotters worth $50,000. Not only will the winner receive the major part of the prize money and a gold cup, there will be the possibility of an invitation to one of the two most prestigious trotting events in the world, Sweden's Elitloppet, or The Yonkers International Trot in New York. Trotters and their owners, trainers and drivers from the USA, Canada, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia have been invited to both events in the past. Two of the past winners of the Maori Mile at Lord's Raceway in Bendigo received international invitations. The 2015 winner Maori Time - the fastest trotting mare bred in Australasia - travelled to Sweden in 2018 to compete in the Swedish Elitloppet, run at the famous Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm, but was unplaced. The 2018 winner Sparkling Success, driven by Bendigo reinsman Chris Svanosio, was invited to the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, conducted at Yonkers Raceway in New York. Unfortunately, Sparkling Success was unable to make the trip due to injury, but his connections were able to travel to New York to be part of the event. Duncan McPherson and Aldebaran Park lent their support formalising arrangements for Maori Time's Elitloppet campaign, and the cancelled trip to the US by Sparkling Success. Along with Harness Racing Australia, they combined to subsidise and assist the connections of the horses with the provision of transport, training, preparation and some travel expenses. The Aldebaran Park Maori Mile commenced as a Group 3 event of $20,000, when won in 2010 by Acacia Ridge. In the 10 years since, it has grown into a Group 1 event of $50,000. Remarkably, the winning time for the mile race has been slashed by over five seconds from 1:59.1 by Acacia Ridge, to the scorching mile in 1:53.9 by Sparkling Success. In addition to the international pathway, the Maori Mile winner will have the opportunity to advance to the Great Southern Star, Australia's richest race for trotters at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 1, with prize money of $250,000. The Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley was the 2019 winner of the Maori Mile at Lord's Raceway "The Aldebaran Park Maori Mile is Australia's premier Sprint Mile for Southern Hemisphere trotters, and is internationally recognised as the Invitation Race for our trotters to advance to the world stage," said Aldebaran Park's principal Duncan McPherson. "This race again represents Aldebaran Park's vision of the internationalisation and globalisation of our sport here in Australia". With the $70,000 Garrard's Horse and Hound Bendigo Pacing Cup and a great card of supporting races, BHRC chief executive officer Erik Hendrix said a great night out for the family is assured. "We have an amazing night installed catering for all age groups with kids zone activities, including a water slide, face painting, live music, food trucks and dinning packages with reserved seating available," he said. "The BHRC has a fantastic grass area so we encourage families to bring a blanket and enjoy a great night of family fun and racing." This year entry is only a gold coin donation with all money raised going to support a fantastic local charity in the Community Kitchen. With much of the community currently experiencing drought conditions and financial hardship, the Community Kitchen is bringing volunteers, farmers and isolated people together. Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

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