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Experienced Victorian harness racing trainer Greg Norman, who does an outstanding job with his team is putting his magic to the test tomorrow night. The former South Australian, now based at Charlton in Central Victoria, trained 26 winners and 42 placings in last season's extended racing season, and this year he has eight wins and five placings so far, for a top three strike rate of 46 percent. But he admits there's likely to be a few nerves when his brilliant newcomer, a Kiwi youngster named Aladdin, steps out in one of the feature events of the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival-the $14,000 Tankard Dental Guineas. Aladdin (Sweet Lou-Pacing Delight (Bettors Delight) is raced by prominent Adelaide owners Adam, Ben and Terry Cormack. They finalised the purchase of the pacer just ahead of his New Year's Eve appearance in New Zealand's richest race for colts and geldings, the inaugural $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million final. Courtesy of a perfectly timed drive by Tim Williams, Aladdin sprinted up the inside to beat his stablemate Shan Noble in an exciting finish to the rich listed race. (At the time, both horses were prepared by champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who then changed the course of their careers by stepping away from the sport). "The boys bought him on the Wednesday and he won on the Saturday, so he's been a good buy already," Norman said. "He had a few runs since then before he came over here, but the pressure is on me now!" Aladdin arrived at Charlton with a record of four wins and seven placings from his 17 New Zealand starts for prize money of $155,789. Before being bought by the Cormacks, the pacer had been raced by prominent Melbourne owners Jean and Bill Feiss, who bought him for $140,000 from the Woodlands Stud draft at the 2019 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. "I've only had him a couple of weeks, but everything he's done so far does indicate that he's a nice little horse, intelligent, well-mannered and keen," Norman said. "He's only a little fellow, but he can obviously run a bit! On paper he looks good, but we still have to win here in Australia, and we still have to win at Mildura," he said. Aladdin comes with a big reputation and is blessed with plenty of early speed, which he may need from his extreme outside draw in barrier six in the Mildura Guineas. Norman said while he was quietly confident in his new charge's ability, there were still question marks over the Guineas. "It's a good money race, a field of handy horses and a tight little track," he said. "He's done all his racing on the big, spacious New Zealand tracks, so getting around Mildura will obviously be the key. "We have been working him on a half-mile track here at Charlton, though, and he seems to handle it alright." Norman, who moved from South Australia to Charlton in 2019, heads to Mildura with a handy team of five for cup night. Apieceoflou has qualified for the $10,000 Euston Club Pace Final, Cee Cee in America is a starter in the $25,000 Tenderprint Australia Cup Final and fast-class performer Zadaka narrowly missed qualifying for the Mildura Pacing Cup final, and will start in the $10,000 Wilkie Building Contractors Free For All. "It's always a fantastic night of racing and we had a good night on Tuesday, so we just hope it continues," he said. View the Mildura fields click here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

When Tom Burdett and his dad Jack decided to give horse training a go, the local Horsham Harness Racing Club, in the Victorian Wimmera, found one of its most loyal volunteers. “That was 42 years ago. We didn’t have any background in training trotters, but I was young and keen, and we decided to give it a try,” Tom said. “Dad was the trainer and I was the owner, and it’s fair to say we didn’t have a lot of success – but I did find that I loved working with horses.  You either love them or hate them, they say, and I came down on the right side!” Tom jumped the fence to hold a horse on the track one day, and someone at the club seized the chance to sign him up as a volunteer track attendant – and Tom was recently presented with an award by the club for his 40 years’ continuous service. “We gave the training away, because we were just finding it was too expensive, and I still wanted to learn more, so I started working for a local trainer here (the late) Clive Rees.  And I’ve also loved being a barrier attendant for the trots and the gallops ever since,” Tom said. “As well as the horses, it’s the people.  I’ve got to know a lot of the trainers and drivers, as well as the stewards and I’ve met a lot of lovely people through the years – they do appreciate the job you do.” When it comes to volunteers, the Horsham Club breeds a loyal bunch.  The president Terry Lewis said Tom was the third club volunteer to be recognised for long service (more than 40 years), along with Kevin Pymer and Kevin and Lesley Lane. “Tom began as a barrier attendant back when our club was racing at the Horsham Showgrounds at night, so his role worked well around his full time job, working for the local council,” Lewis said. “But once we moved to the racing club site, and day meetings, Tom made sure his days off were always rostered around his ‘trots days’, which is a fairly big commitment.  All the drivers love him and I don’t think he’s ever missed a meeting, come rain, hail or shine,” he said. “Like all clubs, we struggle a little bit to attract younger volunteers, so we well and truly value the fact that we have long-serving people who are so dedicated. The volunteers bring a different degree of connection and commitment to the sport.  They have a real affiliation for harness racing, but from a different perspective.” Lewis said the club had been on a strong growth trajectory since making the move to the gallops track and was eagerly awaiting the expected opening of an expanded Tabaret and trackside hospitality facility in August. “We wouldn’t be running $60,000 Pacing Cups, $25,000 Trotters Cups and our big National and NZ Drivers Invitational if it wasn’t for the Tabaret we opened here back in 1996,” he said. “It has given us so much extra discretionary funding and allowed us to do things around the club and with our racing, that wouldn’t have been possible without that revenue.  “So we’re pretty excited about the expansion.  It’s nearly $3 million dollars’ worth of work, but it will make the world of difference to our facilities with a new bistro overlooking the track and bringing a whole new dining and entertainment experience to the area and our meetings.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness racing superstar Lochinvar Art took his first steps yesterday in a renewed preparation after an injury setback derailed his Miracle Mile campaign. An infected hoof forced trainer-driver David Moran to leave his star at the NSW property of Luke and Belinda McCarthy at Cobbitty when he had to scratch from the Newcastle Mile on February 19 and then forego a “lifeline” berth two weeks later in the Miracle Mile. But yesterday a chipper Moran took “Artie” for his first jog in more than five weeks at the Kialla training complex, near Shepparton. “Gee I’m rapt to have him back home and in work. I’m absolutely over the moon,” Moran said. “Everything seems really good, so fingers crossed the hoof abscess clears up completely,” he said. The ongoing battle with the abscess was eventually treated with an incision into the hoof. “We did that about 10 days ago to release the pressure and it seems to have worked,” Moran said. “I reshod him the other day and now it’s a case of clearing up the rest of the infection and just keeping it clean to let the hoof grow back.” Yesterday’s return to slow, jog work was two months to the day since “Artie’s” last racetrack appearance. On February 6, he claimed his seventh Group One victory with a powerhouse display to win the $500,000 Del-Re National A.G Hunter Cup at TABcorp Park Melton. Moran said that while he was confident his five-year-old was well on the road to recovery, he would be keeping a “close eye on things.” “In a couple of weeks, I’ll take him to our vet and get an MRI scan to be on the safe side,” he said. “He’s in really good condition and bright as ever—-he was looked after a treat up at Luke and Belinda’s property that’s for sure.” A COVID-19 scare forced Moran to make a hasty dash across the border on February 13 to ensure he could target the Newcastle and Miracle Miles, when Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced a five-day border lockdown. Six days later when Lochinvar Art had been set to contest owner Kevin Gordon’s hometown Newcastle Mile, concerns surrounding the hoof injury forced the horse to be scratched. The stable was then hopeful the pacer would be okay for the Miracle Mile a fortnight later—but it wasn’t to be. Moran and Gordon now have a winter trip to Queensland in the back of their minds. “We’ll just have to see how things pan out, but we’d love to be part of the winter carnival and tackle races such as the Sunshine Sprint and The Blacks A Fake championship in July,” Moran said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

All wins are our sport of harness racing are special – but some are more special than others.  And the stellar return from injury of gifted Victorian mare Tangoingwithsierra could scarcely be more meaningful for her passionate owners and trainers the Hoban family of Toolern Vale. The five-year-old mare was sidelined with serious injuries for more than a year before an exciting comeback win at Melton two weeks ago – and she followed it up in even more emphatic fashion with a tough victory again on Saturday night. Watch the race replay click here! But the wins were particularly emotional for trainer Gary Hoban and his son Craig, who is a part owner. Gary has been diagnosed with Lymphoma. “Dad and I have raced and bred a lot of horses together over the years and this one is pretty special. The next couple of weeks are pretty important for Dad, so this is certainly giving all of us something else to focus on,” Craig said. “She is just on top of her game at the moment and it was a terrific win.  Just really tough and so genuine – she’s a lovely mare,” he said. Tangoingwithsierra last won in February 2020 and Craig said getting the mare back to the races since she had to be scratched from the final of the Victorian Oaks had been a long and difficult road. “She had stress fractures in one hock back in 2019 (April) and we got her back from that about nine months later.  She had three starts for three wins, and then she was diagnosed with stress fractures in the other hock,” Craig said. “It was devastating.  But a huge shout out to Dr Ian Fulton, our vet from the Ballarat Veterinary Clinic, who has been with us every step of the way,” he said. “He’s been incredible.  He would have seen her probably 10 times over the course of things, monitoring her progress and then advising us about how to go with her work.  “(Another) six months off, walk for a month, jog for two months, hobble for a month and then give her a month off, and then go through the whole process (again). It’s been a long six months, but it’s worth it when you get back on track.” Craig said it was disappointing to miss some of the good mares’ races over the past month. “But we really just wanted to make sure everything was spot on and that was just the way it went.  We just wanted to be 100 percent sure with her, and the last X-ray Ian did, just before she raced, he said was the best since he has been seeing her,” he said. “But I think we might take the time now to head back there again with her, just to make sure everything is okay and on-track!” Tangoingwithsierra was three wide for the 1720 metre trip on Saturday night, but Craig said he was “rapt” at the drive of Greg Sugars. “Greg’s just so professional.  I used to do her race driving, and I loved driving her, but I’m totally happy with having Greg and Saturday night just showed why,” Craig said. “Things just didn’t pan out early for her, and she ended up getting left wide. I think I probably would have panicked at that point, but Greg is just so cool and calm.  I think she keeps surprising him, but he just pushed the button at the top of the straight and knew he had them covered.” Craig said although he was more hands-on with the training side of the horses at the moment, Gary was still very much focussed on the stable activities. “Dad’s still telling me what to do.  I take most of it on board, but I think I probably still jog them a little slower than he’d like!” Craig said. “With dad still in charge he’s mapping out the programs.  He hasn’t decided where her next start will be, but he’s pretty good at placing the horses to their best advantage.  “He’s a tough customer and very strong-minded and that’s what you need to be, I think, but it’s good to have the horses as a bit of a distraction.” Hoofnote: Tangoingwithsierra (Sierra Tango – Sportswriter (Village Jasper) is the third foal from the Hobans’ handy race mare Sierra Tango (Village Jasper – Twinkletoes (Tip Top Prince).  Her first foal Dancingwithsierra (by Modern Art) won 13 races ($161K), and the second, Waltzingwithsierra won 11.  A full sister to Tangoingwithsierra, four-year-old Rockingwithsierra (3 wins) is also on the injury comeback trail and is due to trial at Melton today.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The powerful harness racing juggernaut, the Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin team rolls into Mildura this week for the only three-day cup carnival in Victoria. The stable, based at Cardigan, near Ballarat, is tackling the country cups circuit with renewed venom this season, with Like a Wildfire capturing the Charlton cup two weeks ago (in fact, Stewart trained the trifecta), and Mach Dan taking our last weekend’s Horsham Cup (the Clayton-Stewart stable trained the first five in the $60,000 event). Stewart and her partner Clayton Tonkin have three of the big guns in the two qualifying heats of the $60,000 Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup tomorrow night, spearheaded by Like a Wildfire and Mach Dan, and backed up by a more than capable third string in Somewhere Secret. “We used to go to the Mildura Cup quite a bit back in the day, and we’ve won it a couple of times.  But we’ve concentrated more on young ones in the past few years, so it’s been a while since we’ve been,” Stewart said. “It’s one of those feature events where you not only have to have the right class of horse, but you have to have horses with some depth – this is probably the first time for a while when we’ve had really suitable horses,” she said. In the first heat (race 6) Stewart has Like A Wildfire, who, despite the awkward number 10 barrier draw, is the $2.20 favorite in early markets. In the second heat, Mach Dan is quoted at a $1.50 favorite (drawn in barrier 8), while Stewart’s other contender, Somewhere Secret comes from barrier 9 ($11). The unique 2600 metre marathon distance and the race format (heats tomorrow into a final on Saturday night), make the Mildura Cup a tough race to win, and Stewart admits barrier draws can be a key to success. “It’s also a race that’s hard to win because the track is so tight (805metres).  The barrier draw comes into it a lot and if you draw the front that’s a big advantage I think. But under the race conditions, unfortunately the ones we’re bringing are all drawn out the back!” she said. “We think we’ve got three pretty good chances – they’re all going well. It’ll be tricky, but in saying that, they’re all in good form. “Somewhere Secret is racing as well as he ever has, and Mach Dan never goes bad.  Those two really make their own luck. But Like A Wildfire needs things to go his way a little bit, so it’ll depend a lot on how the race pans out.” The 2021 Mildura Pacing Cup will be conducted on Saturday night.  Mildura will also host an action-packed meeting on Friday featuring the 2021 Niota Bloodstock Mildura Trotters Cup. The high-quality cup heats are the most even in years and Mildura HRC CEO Michelle McGinty is thrilled at the quality of the fields. “After we had to miss our cup last year due to COVID, we’re so excited that we’ve got terrific fields in both heats this year – we really couldn’t have hoped for better,” said McGinty. “It’s been a massive job to get through our COVID compliance arrangements for all three nights, but the stage is set for a fantastic carnival and it’s great to have people back at the track and enjoying our racing. “The Mildura Cup carnival is pretty special and it’s got an atmosphere all of its own.  We’re hoping people will take the chance to get back to the track.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Plans for a Queensland winter campaign with crack square-gaiter Pink Galahs and his talented stablemate pacer Kowalski Analysis are just two of the reasons for Western Victorian harness racing trainer Mattie Craven’s upbeat outlook at the moment. Craven’s team, based on Ecklin South, near Terang, has been ticking along okay, but by the trainer’s own admission, things have been a little quieter than usual. “We put a few out at the start of the year, but it’s all about to start picking up. There’s now 30 in work and we have nearly a dozen unraced two and three-year-olds being put through their paces,” he said. “In addition, there’s probably another 10 youngsters waiting to come in so there’s busy times ahead.” Craven also been on the road visiting a number of top studs in recent weeks, casting an eye over yearlings due to go under the hammer at the coming Nutrien Equine Sales at Oaklands Junction, Melbourne, on April 11 and 12. He’s hoping to attract new owners to the stable by offering small shares in any yearlings purchased at the coming sales. “We’re finding that two and five percent shares in perhaps two or three horses is a great way for new owners to get into the industry,” Craven said. “They normally wouldn’t be able to afford a horse of the quality we’re targeting, but they have a lot of fun and with a bit of luck some of those small owners could one day become a big owner and enjoy the success everyone’s after. “Regardless, though, during the COVID-19 pandemic last year those small shareholders played a big part in getting us through what was an enormously difficult time. They really made it possible for us to keep going, so they’re all an important part of what we do.” On the racing front, for a “quieter than usual” time, things haven’t been too bad. Keeping the flag flying recently have been Itzamajorsurprise (Art Major-Itz Nosurprisesthere) and Helgart (Art Major-Heavenly Bread). Bay mare Helgart won two races in 24 hours when driven by Craven’s partner Sofia Arvidsson. The pair scored at Melton and then repeated the dose at Ballarat. “She is one that’s raced by a big number of our stable clients and she’s now won three races from about a dozen starts,” Craven said. “Itzamajorsurprise also got the money at Ballarat and she is a nice earner with a lot of promise. She raced consistently through the Sires and Breeders Crown and we threw her out for a good spell,” he said. “I think she has the ability to pinch a race at Melton one day. She was bred and is owned by Tony and Pam Coniglio, who love the sport.” Watch the race replay click here! Undoubtedly, though, it’s the update on stable superstar filly Pink Galahs and talented pacer Kowalski Analysis that will warm the hearts of punters. Craven’s major goal with “Pink” last season was the Victoria Trotters Oaks G1 of $60,000, which she won. She also defeated older horses in the G1 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint and the Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters Derby. Kowalski Analysis (Roll With Joe-Dream Away Jo (Dream Away) has been somewhat of a quiet achiever, gaining a berth in the $200,000 G1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle three weeks ago at just his 20th racestart. The gelding, handled by Craven’s partner Arvidsson, ran a PB when third to Expensive Ego, beaten 3.9m in a brilliant 1.48-9. The Craven stable also ended 2020 in sensational style with a blowout win in the VicBred Super Series G1 Final for 2yo Colts and Geldings. Kimble (Western Terror-I’m Wrongly Accused (Bettors Delight) defeated his more fancied rivals at odds of 99/1. “Pink Galahs has just started back jogging, while KA will continue to poke along and have another quiet few weeks,” Craven said. “At this stage the long-term aim for both of them is the Queensland winter campaign.” Pink Galahs (Skyvalley-Sweetasay (Tennotrump) is a winner of 13 of her 25 lifetime starts, along with six placings, for over $227,000.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Talented reinsman Jack Laugher is certainly a young man in a hurry in Victorian harness racing circles. Laugher, 22, who lives at Bendigo, is still a (metropolitan) concession driver, but three months into the new season is the State’s leading reinsperson and sitting third on the national table. “I’m having a bit of luck that’s for sure.  Chris Alford has been off the scene with a serious leg infection, while another of our outstanding drivers in Greg Sugars has been a little quieter than usual,” he said. “But I’ll keep working hard at it and if the trainers keep putting me on, you never know what might happen. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.” Laugher gave another brilliant display of horsemanship at Mildura on Tuesday night with a bag of five winners—equalling his previous best haul which he posted back in January at the same track. “When I did it the first time, I thought well that will probably never happen again. So it was pretty exciting to get five for a second time just two months later,” he said. Laugher landed a treble for trainer Julie Douglas with Hayden Bromac, The High Roller and Starvin Marvin. His others were The Tooth Fairy (Rick Holmes) and Graceful Art (Peter O’Brien). “It was probably about two years ago when I started travelling up to Mildura to drive. I was only getting one or two for a start. Then others began to put me on when they realized I was prepared to go up there regularly,” he said. “The track is about 800 metres and doesn’t have a sprint lane. But the racing can be pretty competitive most of the time.” With more and more opportunities over the past few years, Laugher has honed his skills at a rapid rate and the magical 100 wins for a season certainly now looks well within his reach for the first time. “I’ve definitely improved a fair bit over the years. In my first season it took me quite a few goes to land my first winner and then I only ended up with three wins from about 100 drives,” he laughed. “But in fairness, I wasn’t picking up the plum drives. I remember dad (Michael) was going through a rough time and wasn’t training anything real special. “Last season was pretty good, but I had a lot of stopping and starting. I’d just get going and I’d be out on the sidelines through suspension. I reckon I probably missed at least three months, so I was pretty happy to get the wins on the board that I did (89 for the extended season).” Laugher said that while growing up in Tasmania, he wasn’t really interested in horses. “Dad was driving a bit and always trained a small team. I actually hated the horses when I was a kid. I was more into football and cricket,” he said. “When I was about 15 years old, my mum Toni persuaded me to clean out the horse boxes and do the waters during school holidays. I guess it was then that things changed. “I got through Year 12 and did all the certificates to get an apprenticeship as a mechanic, but when I got offered an apprenticeship, I then chose to stick with the horses. “I’m not sure why I had the change of heart—I suppose they say that once you are in the sport, you never get out of it!” Laugher has 52 wins so far to head the Victorian drivers’ premiership table. Next is James Herbertson with 48. Greg Sugars has 47 with Kate Gath, who is enjoying another fine season, next best with 46. Looking at the National table, WA gun reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is leading the way with 61 wins. He has a four-win break on gifted Queenslander Pete McMullen, with Laugher holding down third spot. Laugher, who recently outdrove his junior concessional claim (country), said he hadn’t noticed a drop-off in driving engagements. “Toward the end of it, I was being put on horses and trainers weren’t really using my three point claim. Thankfully I’ve found that most have still stayed pretty loyal,” he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Concession reinsman Tom Downey registered a number of memorable "firsts" when he tasted success at Melbourne's harness racing headquarters, TABcorp Park Melton. Downey had his first-ever drive at the city track recently and had never previously handled a square-gaiter. But it was ticks all round when he partnered bay trotting gelding Our Thunder Buddy (Gotta Go Collect-Letsdanceupastorm (Western Terror). "I guess I could say that Melton is definitely my favorite track at the moment," a jubilant Downey said. "My mum and dad (Lisa and Mark) were joking that now would be the perfect time for me to retire, with a 100 percent record of one drive at the track for one victory," he said. But getting the job done on Our Thunder Buddy was probably no laughing matter for a junior driver. The gelding previously won last July and had been causing a fair share of headaches for his trainer Brent Lilley, based at Bolinda, 50km north of Melbourne. In three races in December-January, the trotter was sent back to the trials by stewards for breaking up in running and galloping. But Downey showed the coolness of a more experienced driver by allowing Our Thunder Buddy plenty of time to warm to the task in the early stages and when the leaders eased up, he trotted up to occupy the position outside the leader. With 400 metres to go, the pair raced to the lead and with Downey sitting as quiet as a church mouse, the seven-year-old didn't miss a beat to open up for a big 17m win over his stablemate Fields Of Kyvalley (Ross Payne). Watch the race replay click here! "I thoroughly enjoyed driving at Melton-it's a lovely track with nice turns and very well cambered. I've driven at Menangle but competed a lot of the time at Penrith and Canberra which are both half mile circuits," Downey said. "In the six weeks I've been in Victoria, I've also driven at Kilmore (a second placing) and Maryborough. They are both terrific tracks." Downey, who grew up at West Wyalong, in the NSW Central West, was a panel beater for six years during which time he also got "bitten by the harness racing bug". "I got to know a local trainer in Michael Souden. He was pretty good at it and would let me give him a hand. I ended up getting a driver's licence, but didn't go on with it," he said. But a few years down the track, Downey, itching to do something different, found himself working at the Menangle stables of astute horseman Rickie Alchin, who also grew up in the Riverina being from nearby Temora. "I enjoyed my time with Rickie and we still keep in touch, talking at least once a week," he said. "The Lilley camp have been awesome and really welcoming. I live on the property which is ideal and hopefully with my five-point claim I can pick up some race drives on a regular basis." But Downey is unlikely to fully qualify for Victorian citizenship just yet. "I know AFL is all the go down here, but I doubt that I'll be a convert. I'm a rugby league fan and staunch supporter of the Sydney Roosters!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Trotting continues to re-emerge as a vibrant sector in Victorian harness racing, with an impressive suite of nominations for the Victorian Square Trotters Association awards on Saturday night. The awards night coincides with the final of the inaugural Colin Redwood Memorial Trot at Melton, and will bring together a growing community of professionals and hobbyists passionate about the “traditional” harness racing gait. The sport was considered “dead in the water” a decade ago, but trotters now account for nearly a third of Victorian harness racing horse registrations (851 in 2020), and VSTA secretary Vicki Moro said she was unsure of the reasons. “More countries have trotting than pacing, so it’s the global gait, and I think there’s a romance to it, and a purity to it that appeals to people,” she said. “But whatever it is, we’ve got a really exciting number of nominations for our awards this year, and I think a good part of the reason is simply the growing profile of square trotting. “We’ve gone from having a base that was largely made up of dedicated hobbyists, to a lot of the major stables now having at least a couple of trotters, and some stables really concentrating on trotting. “People like Chris Svanosio, Andy and Kate Gath, Alison and Chris Alford, the Cravens and the Lees have stepped back into square trotting and look like they will stay there, which is great.” But it’s the hobbyists who kept the sport alive through the dark years, and Moro’s own story reflects the enduring and enigmatic appeal of the square-gaiter. Her dad, Garry Jackson was a “dedicated square-trotters” man, who was a driver until he was 76 and trained a couple of young ones up until two years ago. Garry Jackson before his last race drive five years ago on Mosquito Spur “His best horse was called Lavender Storm who raced in the early 1990s.  He came from a broodmare dad bought for $40 off the late Kevin Muir and then dad won the service for her at a Moonee Valley members’ raffle. The ticket cost him a dollar, so he always said his best horse cost him $41 – and went on and won 15 races!” Vicki said. “Dad grew up at Kyneton and he actually wanted to be a jockey. He used to hang around the stables and tracks when he was young, and he had an opportunity to be apprenticed – but his father wasn’t keen on him going to Melbourne.  “So eventually, as a young adult, dad found his way into harness racing and has been in it ever since.” Vicki and her husband Charlie live next door to Garry at Sebastian, north of Bendigo, and Garry’s lifelong interest in square-gaiters nurtured the family tradition.  Vicki is a registered stablehand, their daughter Elle is a C-grade trainer and registered HERO retrainer and Charlie is a B-grade trainer, who took up an interest in horses only late in life. “Charlie had literally barely put a hand on a horse until he retired 10 years ago.  Elle and I used to have riding horses and once Garry finished up work, he decided he wanted to get involved,” Vicki said. “We bred our first foal in 2000 and she won the Redwood Consolation in 2002 – my younger brother trained and drove her and now it’s her line we are breeding from.  We breed a trotter every couple of years and Garry does work with our young ones, getting them in the cart and getting them going. “Dad’s still a great source of information and ideas for us.  Whenever we have an issue, he’ll have an idea or suggest a bit of gear we can use.” Vicki is newly appointed to the secretarial role at VSTA, replacing the long-serving Les Chapman, and was formerly the Executive Officer of the Bendigo Harness Racing Training School.  She said it was exciting to be involved in the industry body at a time of rebounding interest. “In Saturday night’s awards, the Bob Conroy Excellence Award received 10 nominations, the Dick Lee Rising Star had six people nominated, and the Redwood Encouragement Award has attracted 13 nominations – all to be awarded on the night when the inaugural Colin Redwood Memorial Trot Final will be run,” she said. “It’s safe to say that was well beyond our expectations – but it reflects the growing interest.  So hopefully we will keep seeing more equity within the sport that reflects that. “At the moment, from a business point of view, you wouldn’t be investing in trotters, but people are doing it for whatever reason.  We have some great supporters who are doing their bit to equalise stakes in cups and feature races, and we hope that direction continues.” Tickets are available from Tabcorp Park Melton for Saturday night’s VSTA Awards.  The ticket cost of $39 includes a two course meal drinks at bar prices.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Former South Australian harness racing trainer Scott Ewen was hoping his stable star Bulletproof Boy could creditably carry the flag in Melton metropolitan classes, after the stable’s move to Victoria 18 months ago. But even Ewen couldn’t have hoped Bulletproof Boy (Art Official – My Riviera Girl (Red River Hanover) would eventually step up in the way he has – winning six races, including a Group Three, and developing into a model of consistency in the past six months. Ewen and his partner Kylie are now preparing for a homecoming, of sorts – a 2000-kilometre road trip for “Bullet” to target the South Australian Pacing Cup (April 17) via Mildura, where the $60,000 Mildura Pacing Cup heats start on April 6. “I always liked the horse and felt that he eventually had the potential to be a nice country cups horse,” Ewen said. “But I think stepping up to race against the class of horse he’s been up against in Victoria has been the making of him,” he said. “He took a little while to get used to it. When we first moved over, I was putting him into some really hard races because I thought he had to learn to race against those better horses. “This time last year we were hoping to win a metro with him – last Saturday night’s Melton win was his fourth since September. He’s been terrific.” Ewen trains a team of 10 from the Cranbourne Training Centre and says the facilities for the eight trainers at the complex are ideal. “One of the big things for Bulletproof Boy has been being able to use the walker. I have a slightly different training regime to a lot of other trainers, in that I work them hard only once a week and their fastwork is pretty much at race speed,” Ewen said. “I find that they recover well on the walker, so that’s been a big benefit, I think,” he said. “But I’ve also been working with a new farrier on making some changes to his shoeing and I’m really pleased about how that seems to be helping him as well – I’m hoping there might be a little more improvement yet.” Ewen said Bulletproof Boy has always had problems with hitting his hind bumpers (the back-side of the fetlock joint can hit the ground during high acceleration as the horse’s foot hits the track).  “But my new farrier has been using ‘flip flops’ (polyflex horse shoes) which seem to be doing the trick.  His win at Melton was the first time we’ve raced him without him hitting his bumpers and he just felt great.  I think it’s helping his confidence and should help with his gate speed.” Ewen said he’d planned to make a trip for the South Australian Pacing Cup last year, but was prevented from doing so by the COVID-19 restrictions.  Similarly, the Mildura Pacing Cup was cancelled last April due to COVID. Joining the road trip will be another cups contender in Assassinator, and consistent trotter Trouble Giero. “We had Bulletproof Boy in the Mildura Cup two years ago, but then he’d really only just started to race in open company,” Ewen said. “He is a different horse now.  He has a lot more bottom to him and he’s not pulling as much. He’s always been quick, but I think he has got faster, and he can run a slick 600 or 700 metres, rather than just two or three hundred,” he said. “He’s won races at Mildura and he handles the track, so it’ll be good to see how he goes.” Ewen said he was also looking forward to getting home to South Australia – but had no doubts the move to Victoria was the right one. “We had our own property in Adelaide, but it was a constant battle with overheads and costs.  The combination of the better stake money and driver’s fees in Victoria, more meetings to place your horses and the fact that all of the facilities are here and maintained at the Cranbourne complex, we couldn’t be happier,” he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Astute South Australian harness racing trainer Paul Cavallaro isn't letting a sparkling run in a track-record trial tempt him into rushing a comeback from serious illness for his stable star Culture King. The pacer returned to South Australia earlier this year after recovering from a life-threatening bout of enteritis, but Cavallaro is content to proceed slowly in getting him back to the track. "He looks a million dollars and although he got narrowly beaten in his trial at Gawler on Sunday, he was terrific. But I'm a bit cautious with him because I just love him and want everything to be right," Cavallaro said. "We'll trial him again this weekend and take it from there," he said. Culture King (Art Major - Tessace (Aces N Sevens) is a winner of 17 races from 37 starts and in excess of $92,000 in stakes. After winning 11 races for Cavallaro, the pacer was transferred to Craig Cross early in 2020 and campaigned successfully winning six races in New South Wales and Queensland. He was brought back south to Victoria to contest the rich VicBred Super Series, before becoming ill. "The enteritis (infection of the stomach and intestine) was the reason he was scratched from the VicBred Super Series in December and he ended up having four or five days in the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital," Cavallaro said. "Thankfully they saved him, and they didn't have to operate, which was good. But he lost a lot of weight and the whole thing knocked him around. So we've just taken things very slowly since he got back here in January." Culture King is raced by a 10-member Ready To Run Syndicate, which has members from Perth, Sydney, Victoria and South Australia. The entire was purchased from the Menangle Ready to Run Sale after Cavallaro felt there was "something special" about him. Culture King and the Jonathan Kingston-Mayne-trained Captain Mannering went head-to-head in the weekend's trial, with the winner stopping the clock at 1:56.3, and a last half of 56 seconds. Cavallaro admitted the $60,000 South Australian Pacing Cup on April 17 was Culture King's main mission - the race hasn't been won by a local horse for more than 20 years. But a border hop to Victoria for the $60,000 Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival (April 6 -10) also isn't out of the question. "After the trial I would say he's close to the mark, but I just want to make sure I don't flatten him," Cavallaro said. "We had his bloods done, and they're all spot on, he's put on all his weight again and super, but I'm just being very cautious." Culture King's more than handy younger brother Artillery (a winner of six races from 10 starts) is also set to resume soon, after winning a trial in handy time at Gawler on Sunday. "We're aiming him for the South Australian Derby, but if we do go to Mildura, he would probably go over for the Mildura Guineas three-year-old race as well," Cavallaro said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

An involuntary move to full-time harness racing training would seem to be serving Ballarat region trainer Adam Stephens very well. The Stephens team is on fire, and he’s attributing his success to now being able to focus on his stable full time – although it wasn’t by choice. “I was one of about 130 put off at Rural Press late last year,” Stephens said. “It was tough – I’d been there for 20 years and worked my way up to be the number one printer. We were doing nearly 90 different papers including the Melbourne Age and the Geelong and Ballarat newspapers, so it was a busy job,” he said. “But looking at it from a horse training perspective, it (the redundancy) was the best thing that could have happened. Up until now, I’ve worked the horses around my job, but with this, I decided to get serious with the horses and give them the chance to perform at their best,” he said. Stephens admits he’s probably from the old school when it comes to some of his work ethics and techniques, but his consistent strike rate (currently his runners are finishing in the top three more than 55 percent of the time) tells the story. “I do all their training in the cart and I’m huge on recovery whether it’s after fastwork or following the races. I think that’s the key to having them back-up and perform consistently. “I’m also a big fan of heart rates and what they can tell you about a horse – but I suppose when it all boils down, a major part is that I’ve been brought up with the motto that if you put in the hard yards, it’s going to pay off.” Stephens, based at Allendale, 20 minutes north of Ballarat, has prepared three winners, nine runners-up and five third-placegetters from 30 starters, with earnings of $28K this season. He recently landed a double at Maryborough, the second of his career, with half-brothers Iamawingate (I Am The Way-Alberts Belle (Albert Albert) and Wingate Guy (Union Guy (Alberts Belle (Albert Albert). “They were both bred by my dad Allan, who has been mucking around with horses for over 55 years. Dad originally kicked off the Wingate breed back when he started racing at the old Ballarat Showgrounds track in the north of the city,” Stephens said. “The maiden name of his mum Ruby was Wingate, and the original family heritage was from England and perhaps Scotland.” Stephens said his dad was the lynchpin to his operation. “Dad’s great. He’s in his 70s and turns up at the stables every day, along with one of my brothers Jamie.  I had another brother John, who was involved in the sport for a while as a driver and trainer. “John works at Tip Top at Pakenham and has done so for the past 20 years, but he was in the first crop at the Bendigo Training Centre with the likes of Daryl Douglas and Ross Graham. He also had stints with some great horsemen like Ted Demmler, Bruce Morgan and Ray Mathews. “John’s been a great mentor. I probably wouldn’t be doing it, but for what he taught me when he came back to the farm for about six years. “It really is a team thing because my partner Rebecca does as much as she can, and my mum follows them very closely too. Then there’s my main driver Michael Bellman who has been with me through all of it—he’s not just a driver, but a friend.” Stephens said he was lucky to have such horses as Ruby Wingate, who he rates as one with a big future. “The others in Silver Domino, Iamawingate, Wingate Guy and Fowsands are in nice grades so I’ll try and pick out suitable races for them,” he said. Stephens said he had no hesitation in naming Village Safari, a horse that cost him $1000 and won 12 races for $130K, as the best he’s owned. “I just have a feeling that Ruby Wingate could take the mantle off him, judging by his death seat Melton win in 1.54—I’m hoping so anyway!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Retirement from the harness racing industry could not be further from the minds of Bill and Anne Anderson, despite planning the sale of their showpiece breeding property in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges. The stunning 250 acre American-style estate was the foundation for the couple’s mega-successful boutique breeding operation Lauriston Bloodstock and is on the market for a figure in excess of $4 million. Bill said the decision to move on from the picturesque Euroa property wasn’t an easy one.  “It was originally established by (US-based) Vinery Thoroughbreds for their Victorian operations. They brought out an American architect to design it in that beautiful Kentucky style,” Bill said. “It came on the market 15 years ago, which was the right time for us.  We’d sold the first place we developed at Bannockburn to (former SA trainer) Geoff Webster when he moved here and both Anne and I loved this place. “We came here wanting to develop what was here, but it was a big undertaking, and we did it in two stages. Originally, there was a big 60 square granite stone American Barn with a Welsh slate roof that was also Vinery’s office as well.  We removed the office and converted that into a three-bedroom house first, then in the second stage, we took away the stallion boxes and that became a garage and office area. The property that has nurtured Lauriston Bloodstock for 15 years is on the market “We have poured a lot of ourselves into this place, but the time is right and we’re selling the farm so that we can get a lifestyle change we’re both looking for.” Bill said the next phase would involve something of a change in direction for the Andersons. “All of the research on the breeding is done by Anne – my part has been developing the property.  But the racehorses involve both of us sitting down and deciding what we want to do.  We’ve been married 40 years, so we obviously get on pretty well and this has been something we’ve shared and loved,” he said. “We are absolutely passionate about our horses, both breeding and racing, and that won’t change – we’ll still keep the Lauriston name, and we’ll keep doing what we love, but we’ll just be doing it differently.” Bill and Anne Anderson’s American-style breeding property in the Strathbogie Ranges Bill said the breeding operation would continue in the hands of Doctor Kath McIntosh, at Northern Rivers Equine, and the new challenge for the couple would likely be racing some of their horses in America, with expat Australian trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton, now based at Pine Bush, New York. The move is a natural extension of the couple’s long-held passion for developing American bloodlines in Australia, which has reset the standardbred breeding business “down under”. “When we started, we wanted to get access to the best bloodlines that we could.  So our original direction was to get access to American semen, to bring the more thoroughbred-style traits from the US to what were the more raw-boned New Zealand and Australian mares,” he said. “Then we began to import American mares, so that meant we could inject those qualities into our bloodlines here more quickly, basically meaning we could leapfrog 30 years of breeding.” For the Andersons, the passion for breeding is anything but a numbers game – but the numbers do say it all. Lauriston presented its first draft of yearlings in February 2007 and, with a broodmare base of 12 to 14 mares, over the following 13 years to June 2020, 84 Lauriston-bred horses have won $9.8 million in stakes, with average earnings of $117K. Lauriston successes include more than 25 Group Ones, including Poster Boy (5 for $803K); Maffioso (5 for $606K); Our Little General (3 for $686K); Follow The Stars (3 $707K) and Speak No Evil (2 $280K).  The Lauriston top earning mares are Aston Villa USA (5 Progeny $1.5mill); Lindsey Leigh USA (5 Progeny $1.4mill); Top Tempo NZ (8 Progeny $1.1mill); Smyrna Duruisseau USA (5 Progeny $903K); and Kabbalah Karen B USA (3 Progeny $856K). “Anne’s passion is for her fillies and mares and her highlight is Speak No Evil – but mine is Poster Boy, who finished only once out of a place in 30 lifetime starts before he was retired because of pneumonia,” Bill said. Bill said the couple was excited by the new challenge of racing horses in America. “That’s the cutting-edge new thing for us – Beach Music is most likely to be the first, and she is still a strong possibility to be in America later this year, depending on how things pan out,” Bill said. “The gap has closed that much.  The North Americans have realised they can source horses in Australia that are as good as their horses, and they come in with a good mark under their handicapping system. “We wouldn’t entertain sales, certainly on the mares side, because we want to bring them back home to breed, and the Trittons have accepted that.  Anne and I will be on the next flight to Kentucky once things open up again post-COVID!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Victorian reinswoman Michelle Phillips reckons she’s “thrived from a spell” from harness racing and has come back to the job she loves with all guns blazing. Phillips was given a “holiday” by stewards in December, but instead of lamenting her spell on the sidelines, the young driver saw it as an opportunity to refresh and reset – and it’s clearly done her the world of good. At her first drive back on Thursday, Phillips was successful for Tim Bolitho on The Big End of Town (Heston Blue Chip – Apple of my Eye) at Maryborough.  Then on Sunday, she went one better with a double at Ouyen. “No one wants to get a holiday, but you should enjoy what you do.  I’d got to the point where it had soured and didn’t even really think about it or enjoy it, I just did it,” Phillips said. “A lot of us feel we can’t take time off unless we’re forced to – so like a lot of others, I just kept going.  When I got the suspension, I actually saw it as a chance to get right away from the horses and look after myself for a bit,” she said. “I threw the swag into the ute and headed off to the high country for two weeks, then spent a week down at the beach.” Phillips said the constant demands from working as well as race driving is often underestimated – not least by the drivers themselves. “Most of us work in the morning, either our own horses, or for someone else, then it’s off to the races in the afternoon or at night.  Often, you’re not getting home until the early hours of the morning, before it starts all over again,” she said. “I’m definitely not complaining, it is what it is, and you need to keep doing the job to keep getting the drives, but it can get to you mentally.  I’m so glad to be back, because I’d had enough of sitting on the sidelines, but I honestly can’t believe how much better I feel. “Other people have noticed it too –  someone came up to me and told me the break had obviously done me the world of good because they could see the toll it was taking before, physically and mentally. “I feel happier and clearer, and that I’m not making rash decisions out on the track, which is obviously good for everyone!” It was certainly good for Mildura region trainer Frank Merceica and his partner Sue Doherty, who engaged Phillips to driver their horses Minika (Art Major – Awesome Powers (Walton Hanover) and Redbank Rockabear (Rock N Roll Heaven – Queen of Courage (Courage Under Fire) at Sunday’s Ouyen Cup meeting. “I was stoked to get the drive on Minika, especially, because he was in the Les Patching Memorial race, which I’d won the previous two years,” Phillips said. “I don’t think Frank and Sue were too confident about how she would go, but when we were able to get up the sprint lane she really ran for me – it was unreal to win that race again. “The previous twice I’ve won it, I got pushed three wide and ended up getting suspended – I did it a bit differently this year!” Michelle Phillips and trainer Frank Merceica with Minika The late Les Patching died about five years ago in his mid-50s and was a popular figure well known by most industry people in the area. Les came from a large family (his siblings were the late Ron, Billy, Kevin, Trevor, Margaret (Carroll) and Kathy (Loxton), many of whom continue to be involved in the sport. Trevor said the Ouyen Cup and the race that Phillips has made her own (Kerryn Manning is the only other driver to have won it at its inaugural running) is “like a reunion for us”. “Les lived with Down Syndrome, and he just loved his trots.  He loved to poke around at the stables at home, and he loved a bet,” he said. “But it was really the people – everyone was his mate, and especially people like the late Ian McCallum and Merv Dillon, who’d always make a fuss of him.  The memorial race is a tribute to Les that he would have been very proud of…and for Michelle to have won it three out of the four times it’s been run is unbelievable.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The proud grandparents of one of harness racing’s most promising junior drivers got a ringside seat to a display of his talents at the Ouyen Pacing Cup, in far north west Victoria yesterday. Tom and Desley Sanderson were at meeting, all the way from Redcliffe in Queensland, to cheer on grandson Ryan, who duly landed his biggest ever win. The 17-year-old showed maturity well beyond his years to score narrowly with Blaster Ranger (Caribbean Blaster – Jennas Ranger (Jennas Beach Boy) in the $14,500 Greggs Electrical Cup. The winner was prepared by his father Shane, who last week relocated his family and 15-horse stable from Menangle to Charlton, northwest of Bendigo. “It was awesome for my Nanna and Pop to be here to watch me drive. The cup win was easily my best and Nanna is a part-owner,” Ryan said. “They got down here on Friday and plan to stay for at least a week. They’ve never been to Charlton before, but absolutely love the town and the training centre where we’re based,” he said. “There’s a heap of other owners in the horse, but they’re scattered everywhere. Some live in Queensland and there’s others in Sydney.” The Sanderson family shifted from Menangle to better place their horses and also help Ryan and his younger sister Abbey establish themselves in the sport. Desley, with a firm hold on the gold cup at the official presentation, admitted she wasn’t the most relaxed of spectators where her grandson was involved. Queenslander Desley Sanderson was trackside for her grandson Ryan’s first Country Cup at Ouyen, in the Victorian Mallee “I find it difficult to watch sometimes – but it was so exciting to be here and lovely that they were able to win the cup.  We’re very proud of them all,” she said. Ryan’s composed drive was the key to the race for the Sanderson Team.  He shot Blaster Ranger from barrier three to get to the front on the tight Ouyen circuit, and then held out strong pressure from leading reinsmen Alex Ashwood (Beat City) and Glenn Douglas (Pembrook Charlie).  The five-year-old pacer then dug deep in the straight to narrowly hold out a fast-finishing Egodan (Neil McCallum) and the Sanderson stablemate Dikerry (Connor Clarke). Watch the race replay click here! “It was very willing early, they really attacked him at the start but the plan was always to lead because he loves to be in front and we stuck with that,” Ryan said. “I was getting a little bit worried there, but it was just a credit to the horse that he really toughed it out. I’ll always remember Ouyen and we’ll be back next year I think, if we can. “We’re having a good run and it’s kind of surreal.  We definitely didn’t expect to be getting this many winners so close to our move.” Tom and Desley Sanderson with daughter-in-law Naomi; grandson Ryan; Barry Gregg, of Greggs Electrical; Ryan’s sister Abbey; and Blaster Ranger’s trainer Shane Sanderson     --Charli Masotti Photo Ryan had his first drives since relocating at his adopted home track on Charlton Cup Day last weekend, and from 10 drives in the week, he’s captured five winners. Shane Sanderson said he would be looking towards the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival in early April as a potential future assignment for Blaster Ranger and he’s not alone.   Rising star Malcolms Rhythm took out the $35,000 Group Three Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup on Friday night and trainer David Aiken also has the Mildura Cup firmly in his sights.  Nominations close tomorrow for next Sunday’s $60,000 The Weekly Advertiser Group Two Horsham Pacing Cup and the $35,000 Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup will be on the following Sunday (April 4), before the only heat-and-final fixtured cup at Mildura starts on the following Tuesday. Trots Clubs Victoria CEO Carl Coady said the sport in regional Victoria was emerging strongly from the COVID-interrupted 2020. “There was a great crowd here at Ouyen today, and we’re seeing that harness racing in regional Victoria is incredibly healthy – it’s great to see the community involvement at our smaller clubs, like Ouyen.  It’s a credit to them.   “COVID has been incredibly difficult for every one of our country clubs in trying to plan their cups events.  For a while there, it was changing day-to-day, hour-to-hour, but the clubs have just kept working away and moved with the times and we are slowly getting back to something like normal.  Let’s hope that by the Mildura carnival, we are getting back to something like harness racing was before COVID times.” View the full results for Ouyen click here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Victorian trainer Gary Lawlor is the first to admit that over the years, horses have been very good to him – and not just those in his current harness racing stable. Lawlor, who hails from Camperdown, has shown a Midas touch over the years training both standardbreds and thoroughbreds. “I worked hard in my late teens and then when I was 20, I had 12 months at Meadowbrook (Standardbred) Stud, run by Kevin and Patsy Abrahams, when it was at Riddells Creek,” Lawlor said. “It was reasonably full-on because I was involved with the breeding side. When I left, I had enough to pay cash for my very first home.” Lawlor got his first city winner at the old Melbourne Showgrounds harness racing track when he was an 18-year-old with Abbe Peak and has since won a couple at both the Moonee Valley and TABcorp Park Melton venues. “I’m certainly proud of that achievement. It’s pretty special and I reckon I would have been one of, if not the youngest, to get a Showgrounds winner,” Lawlor said. “Around that time, my dad Joe had a champion in Heytesbury Meadow, who was sired by Meadow Vance.” Joe was a passionate industry participant and bred many horses with the Heytesbury prefix in their race name. “He was one of the first to bring stallions from the USA. I think he got three or four out here and bred some top-liners,” Lawlor said. Doing a favour for a friend saw Lawlor shift into the thoroughbred ranks for a three-year stint. “I was asked to break-in a galloper and then ended up buying it when the owner got into a tight financial spot. I think I paid $1500,” he said. “The horse raced as Opposing Miracle and won 10 races and over $80,000 in stakes.  I took it to the city on two occasions and each time Paddy Payne beat us by a short half head. “In the gallops game, I had 33 winners and won a couple of cups including the Avoca Cup. I got a double at Stawell one day and landed another horse I had, Stylish Miracle at 50/1 at Geelong.” Lawlor said training thoroughbreds worked well while his children were teenagers. “Then when they grew up and got married, I gradually moved back to the trots. But while I was still involved in both codes, I did get a unique double—one at the gallops during the day and then a trots winner at night!” he said. “I shifted away from the gallops because it was difficult to get jockeys. Any of them that showed ability were lured to the city. My sons Brian and Darryl rode trackwork. “Brian is now a gallops trainer in Ballarat and going along okay with five wins. He’s also an A Grade farrier so he’s pretty busy. “Darryl does shift work and helps me at home with the pacers. Lawlor decided to retire from full time work 18 months ago after spending the previous decade on shift work as a pasteurizer operator at Camperdown Dairy. “I’m loving working with the horses full-time.  We’ve got three in work and Darryl does most of the race driving for me – so far our strike rate’s been pretty good.” The stable chalked up a Melton double recently when Reactor Factor (Auckland Reactor-Chloes Courage (Courage Under Fire) and Notnegotiable (Badlands Hanover-Total Credits (Courage Under Fire) both scored impressively. Notnegotiable is a full brother to a smart pacer prepared by the Lawlor team in Bad Billy. He retired with 19 wins and $220,000 in stakes and is now being broken-in to saddle to eventually become a pony for Gary Lawlor’s grandchildren. The third member of the stable, bay mare Shady Credit (Shadyshark Hanover-Total Credits (Courage Under Fire) scored at Terang on Wednesday night. “My dad was a genius when it came to pedigrees and Darryl has inherited that. When it comes to studying breeding and pedigree matching, it just comes natural for him. “Reactor Factor was passed in at a Sydney yearling sale after not getting a bid. Darryl was all over it and we ended up paying just $5000. He was a bargain because he’s now won four races,” Lawlor said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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