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Four-year-old pacer Perfect Stride produced a track record breaking performance in winning Easter Sunday's $35,000 The Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup. Driven by talented young reinsman Zac Phillips for Melton trainers Anthony Butt and Sonya Smith, Perfect Stride was patiently driven, settling at the rear of the nine-horse field from the start of the 2627-metre event. Phillips moved his horse three wide on the track heading into the final lap, before a sweeping run up to the lead horses on the home turn. Perfect Stride overhauled the race leader Fourbigmen in the closing stages to score a three-metre victory. Majestic Cruiser also made good late ground to run second with Fourbigmen holding third spot at the finish. The winning mile rate took half a second off the track record set in the 2016 Cup courtesy of a solid tempo set throughout. Perfect Stride won the Cobram Pacing Cup earlier this year and now boasts a record of 13 wins and 14 minor placings from only 38 starts for owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, and looks set to continue his rich vein of form in coming starts. Not long after their Warragul win, Perfect Stride's trainers landed a second feature race win, when Wolf Stride won the $100,000 Riverina Championship Final at Wagga to cap a big day for all concerned. Elsewhere on the Cup program there were small fields in most events but still some entertaining racing. The Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup drew plenty of attention, with Stress Factor taking out the handicap race for trainer Brent Lilley and driver Daryl Douglas, in his return visit to Logan Park since making a comeback to race driving. Douglas has now driven the winner of the Gippsland trotting feature three times, with his other pair of winners, Homer Hawk and Our First Jewel, being among the top trotters of their time. Stress Factor collected the feature trot at Echuca at its previous run, and may continue to work towards being compared to those other two trotters - the six-year-old has now won 13 times from only 43 starts. Douglas wore the club's colours of white with the blue W, normally a bad omen for the wearer if you believe the old racetrack talk. However this set of silks were also sported by the winner of the first race of the day, Bonnie Belle, for driver Greg Sugars and trainer Alan McDonough. Eleven-year-old gelding Wonderforce won race two for trainer Julie Mifsud and driver Monique Burnett the veteran pacers latest victory coming almost a year after his last triumph. Young local reinsman Kyal Costello steered the Ahmed Taiba trained pacer Major Mal to a nice win in the third event, while Cranbourne horseman Scott Ewen won the Trotters Handicap with Trouble Giero. Reinswoman Taylor Ford landed her first winner at Logan Park with The Chancer in the sixth event for trainer Jodi Quinlan. The victory was also the 100th of Ford's career. One lucky punter left the course with a broad grin after Croydon trained pacer Lotakevi scored an upset win in the last race of the day. Lotakevi gave reinsman Daryl Douglas a winning double and the lucky punter, who had his name drawn out of the barrel for a $10 TAB betting ticket, managed to turn his free flutter "on the nose" on Lotakevi into a return of just over $1000. The nine-year-old pacer scored at triple-figure odds and for the sake of the punter in question the horse picked the right day to record just his third career win at start 85. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials were pleased to welcome back a crowd to the racetrack for the first time in more than 12 months. Though numbers are down on traditional crowd sizes as the racing industry eases its way back to how things used to be, there was a still a good atmosphere trackside on Sunday. Patrons were impressed with upgraded spectator facilities at Logan Park, which now sees Warragul offer one of the most comfortable places to watch the racing action, certainly as far as the smaller trotting tracks in Victoria are concerned. Racing returns to Warragul on Monday afternoon, May 24th.     by Kyle Galley

Triple Eight's raid on the Apple Isle never went according to plan, with the former Kiwi's failure in the Tasmania Cup blamed on a viral infection. But after a short rest, the exciting import is ready to rock and roll once again and will line-up in a quality renewal of The Downtowner Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup this Sunday. The six-year-old has raced just four times for Myrniong trainer Jess Tubbs, with a more than respectable sixth in the Del Re National A.G. Hunter Cup behind Lochinvar Art followed by a solid fourth in the Terang Co-Op Pacing Cup two weeks later. The trip across Bass Strait started well with a dominant victory in a heat of the Tasmania Cup on March 7, but ended badly in the final six days later when he dropped out to run second last. "He obviously had a hard run as well, which was going to make life hard to win as it was, but I knew well and truly probably a lap out that the horse was a spent force and wasn't himself," Tubbs’ husband and leading driver Greg Sugars told Trots Talk. "Thankfully, he pulled up with a problem that wasn't too serious that we couldn't get on top of and rectify, so that was the positive out of it." Sugars said the gelding’s health had been monitored by regular blood tests and was confident Triple Eight would acquit himself well in this weekend’s $35,000 feature despite a tough back row draw. "We were pretty lucky that nature just took its course and got on top of it, and he didn't have to have too much down time before he bounced back," Sugars said. "I'm pretty happy with him. He's had that little bit of time off before he was back in action and hasn't had a trial or a run since Tassie obviously, so he may just be slightly short of 100 per cent. He's probably going to need the run a little bit, but I see it's only a small field. I think there is only nine starters in it. "Being drawn out the back over 2600m is probably not as bad as what it possibly could have been around Warragul. "It looked a reasonable quality sort of field with no standouts from what I could see from the initial nominations, so I think if the horse runs close to his best, he's going to run a very competitive race, but we do expect the run to improve him as well.” Triple Eight, who is now part-owned by an Australian group that includes the ‘Pacing Priest’ Father Brian Glasheen, won 12 races in New Zealand before being transferred to the care of Tubbs and Sugars. The son of American Ideal will come up against a quality field of rivals on Sunday, including the horse that Sugars drove to victory in the 2017 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, Mister Wickham. "The Candyman" also won the race back in 2011 with Johnorama. Earlier on Sunday’s card, Well Defined chases a fifth win in the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship when he lines up in the Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup. Kate Hargreaves’ stable favourite will battle the likes of recent Crystal Bucket winner Stress Factor (Brent Lilley), Mallee Bull Trotters Cup champion Mass Destruction (Brent Lilley) and last-start runner-up Daquiri (Thomas Parnell) in the $14,500 standing start feature over the 2627m trip. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL WARRAGUL FIELDS   HRV - Tim O'Connor

Young Gippsland trainer Brad Walters has had very few starters in recent years, but he's a more than familiar face around harness racing circles in the region. The 28-year-old Warragul track curator and raceday staffer is the sort of guy that most country clubs rely on. Put simply: if there's something that needs doing or a role to fill, he's the go-to man. But last Sunday at Cranbourne, he also showed his training prowess when he landed his first winner in Petite Love (Repeat Love (Fra)-Micro Chip NZ (Pine Chip US). The brown mare, bred and owned by Yabby Dam Farms, near Ballarat, and raced on lease by Walters, took out the Aldebaran Park Trot. "We thought she would be a good chance going on her previous run at Melton. She was inconvenienced, but did well to run sixth at huge odds," he said. "I'd had Lance (Justice) on for the first time there and I was happy to have him again at Cranbourne-and it all turned out nicely." Lance Justice crosses the line with Petite Love – the first win for trainer Brad Walters Walters said it was just his fourth start with the square gaiter, who was previously prepared by his close friend Mick Hughes. "I train at Mick's place, which is out Garfield way and he's been a great help. I'm so lucky, because he's an outstanding horseman and always has a handy one in his team," he said. Walters has had just two other horses prior to Petite Love. "I mucked around a bit with them. I think they probably only had 10 starts between them, but I couldn't find the secret, so they got moved on," he said. Walters said while attending school, he always had it in his mind that he wanted to be a motor mechanic. "I did work experience, but the boss of the place sort of hinted that perhaps I may have been better suited to another trade. So I didn't pursue that career," he said. "Then I heard about the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. I liked horses so I decided to give that a go. I completed that probably 10 years ago and then got my trainer's licence about five years ago. "Jenny Lewis is in charge and I'm sometimes back at the centre whenever they need a helping hand. I'd fully recommend the training course to anyone interested in getting involved in harness racing-it's just perfect to get a good grounding." Walters later worked in north east Victoria's Strathbogie Ranges for Bill and Anne Anderson at Lauriston Bloodstock, one of Victoria's leading yearling sale vendors. "That was a great experience. I worked with their horses and also did a lot of ground maintenance and that sort of thing. In other words, whatever needed doing!" he said. Since returning to his home region, Walters has been a huge part of the local harness racing scene at the Warragul club, as well as helping out at nearby Cranbourne. Walters said he had a crack at race driving and enjoyed it. "I drive now and again at the trials, but I learnt pretty quickly that on race day it's just for the professionals," he laughed.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Top harness racing drivers Chris Alford and Greg Sugars again dominated at Warragul trots on Monday afternoon, winning six of the seven races staged between them.   Alford produced another four winner haul at the meeting, including the drive behind Amazing Daisy which won one of the feature events, the Rodney Demmler Memorial Pace, in a three-way photo finish that had many patrons guessing.   Alford also drove Sahara Sirocco (stablemate of Amazing Daisy), Freedom Writer and Shesa Tricky Bridge to victory.   Sugars meanwhile steered Forever And A Day to success in race five, and won the last race with Bao Nien, trained by his wife Jess.   Lisa Miles produced trotter Tam Oshanter to win the Gordon and June Turner Memorial Handicap event.   Family of the late Gordon and June Turner with race winning driver Lisa Miles   Despite small fields and icy conditions on Monday, a good day of racing was witnessed by spectators.   After a break of several weeks, the major trots meeting on the season takes place at Warragul on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 12 with the staging of the annual Warragul Cup events for pacers and trotters.   Kyle Galley

When Bushi raced away to win the Quirk Real Estate Pace (1790m) at Warragul on December 22, he broke a 21-year win drought for Tyers harness racing trainer Wayne Evans. The 11-year-old stormed home to take out the race by two lengths. It was Bushi's 12th career win from 129 starts and it came 366 days after his previous win at Shepparton. The run was the gelding's second since Evans took him in after finishing fifth at Yarra Valley at $52 odds on December 13. Evans is only a recent addition to the Latrobe Valley's harness racing scene having renewed his trainers licence 18 months ago. Evans got back in the game after a 15-year layoff, he was previously worked out of Echuca with his last winner coming in Mildura in 1998. His move to the region came about when Evans' parents passed away and he wanted to move closer to his daughter Stephanie and her husband Michael Walton. Evans said Stephanie, who is in the process of attaining a trial driver's licence, was instrumental in getting him back into the sport, so much so that they developed a training track on his Tyers property. "After being out of the game for 15 years, she talked me into getting my licence back," Evans explained. "She caught the (harness racing) bug which makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning and we put together a training track in the hills which is fantastic and is great for working in the horses. "All credit has to go to Stephanie, she fell in love with (Bushi) and she put most of the work in (to getting Bushi prepared)," Evans explained. "It was fantastic to have my daughter, my son-in-law and their daughter there to see the win." The Evans' stable includes two other mares in Casino Cat and Valonte Swan. The latter is a chance of racing at the Warragul meeting on January 13 and her name is an anagram of Evans and Walton. According to harness racing devotee Kyle Galley, Bushi scored the first win by a Latrobe Valley-trained standardbred since Brunei Achilles won the Traralgon Cup on November 7, 1995, the last trots meeting staged at the venue. Evans said he hoped his recent success a generate a little bit of buzz in the sport. "It's a shame Traralgon harnesses closed down," he said. "I am a great advocate for country trots, there are only a few trainers in this region but it is out of our hands. "Hopefully this win can put Tyers on the maps, it shows you don't always have to be the best, you just have to show some perseverance. "It's good to get a few pats on the back. Hopefully it gets a bit more interest in the sport." By Dylan Arvela Reprinted with permission of Latrobe Valley Express

The win of eleven-year-old pacer Bushi at Sunday's Warragul trots meeting was a drought breaker in more ways than one.   Significantly it was the first time a horse trained in the Latrobe Valley has recorded a victory in at least two decades.   The region once boasted its own racing club, racetrack and group of grassroots participants, however only a few have continued to dabble in training horses there since the Traralgon club closed down in 1995.   Wayne Evans is a relatively recent addition to local training ranks, having returned home to train from a property at Tyers, north of Traralgon, after some years away in the north east of the state.   His family has a lengthy involvement in trotting, and Wayne and his daughter Stephanie prepare Bushi, which scored its first win in exactly 366 days on Sunday.   It was also Wayne's first training win since 1998, though he has had only a handful of horses to the races in that time.   Stephanie assists at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and Christmas came early for the family with Bushi's twelfth win coming at start 129.   Another local, Michelle Phillips, now based away from Gippsland, returned home to drive her first winner at Warragul with Run Myles Run in the first race on Sunday.   Greg Sugars drove four winners on the day, including Doug which won the feature $10,000 Trotters Cup.   The consistent four-year-old is trained by Greg and his wife Jess and beat Trafalgar trotter Sovereign Minx.   Top horseman Chris Alford recorded winning drive 100 less than fourth months into the season when Rocktagonal won the fourth race on Sunday.   The race meeting saw fast times recorded in all events, and officials were pleased with the attendance despite clashes from Sale races and Big Bash cricket in Moe.     Kyle Galley

On Sunday, December 22 Warragul Harness Racing Club celebrates 80 years since the first race meeting staged by the club, then known as Warragul and District Trotting Club, which took place at the Warragul Showgrounds on Saturday, November 18, 1939.   A souvenir programme and an 80th Anniversary Cup race will be highlights of the upcoming race meeting.   Over 2000 people made their way to Warragul to witness the inaugural meeting, run in ideal weather conditions.   The meeting was conducted under the rules of the Victorian Trotting and Racing Association, the body established by John Wren of "Power Without Glory" fame, as the government controlled Trotting Control Board would not be established until after the War.   Many trotting enthusiasts made the journey from Melbourne by way of a special race train, which departed Warragul at 6.50 p.m. Those bringing horses by train could take advantage of a special carriage capable of carrying horses and sulkies.   The grandstand was a hive of activity, with the publicans booth and afternoon teas located underneath the building, along with the secretaries and telegraph and telephone offices.   Prizemoney was set at 17 pounds to the winner, two pounds to second and one pound to third, while the feature event carried 30 pounds prizemoney for first, seven for second and three for third.   Nineteen bookmakers fielded on local events and the Melbourne gallops meeting at Williamstown.   The day's racing commenced with the Hylsbroke Handicap, run over a distance of one mile and three furlongs. Fifteen acceptors faced the starter including the aged gelding Marvin Chief, a clear backmarker on 60 yards.   The afternoon's highlight was the 40 pounds Warragul and District Handicap for 2.20 and better pacers, over a distance of one and a half miles.   The result was what many expected, with a thrilling finish, in which Main Derby, from 72 yards behind, dead heated with Burly Vin, from 36 yards behind. The pair cleared away from the field approaching the home turn, and battled neck and neck for the length of the straight.   The owners tossed a coin for the trophy of a canteen of cutlery, with Hubert Shinn keeping the prize.   Most of the committee were newcomers to trotting, and their enthusiasm carried through. The grass track was closely mowed, and the large crowd attending the meeting were satisfied with the facilities. The track held up well after recent rain, with only one part of the course heavy. Fast times were the order of the day.   All who attended were very impressed with the way the meeting was conducted. They saw no reason why trotting could not be conducted successfully in Warragul for many years to come. As one patron put it "Warragul Trotting Club is here to stay".   The opening meeting was an outstanding success, and drew interest from right across the country. As Warragul was one of the few country trotting venues in Victoria, there was a great deal of interest in the club's activities. The success of the first meeting carried over to the two other meetings conducted in the remainder of the season.   Kyle Galley

When Adam Shaw got a job about 15 years ago working on a farm near Melton, just outside of Melbourne, his promising harness racing career took a back seat. "My dad and grandfather had a farm when I was a kid and I always thought I wanted to do the same. I still kept involved with horses, but it was through rodeo competitions," Shaw said. "It was kind of always in the back of my mind to one day return to harness racing because I did enjoy it," he said. And that opportunity first gathered momentum last year when Shaw successfully completed 10 trial drives and regained his driver's licence. Fast forward to a recent Warragul meeting, at only his fifth race drive back, and Shaw showed he hadn't lost touch with an impressive victory with four-year-old Smart Little Shard (Smiling Shard-Jules Hanover (Holmes Hanover) in the $7000 Toyota Pace. To watch the video replay click here. The driving engagement came through helping out trainer John "Bulldog" Nicholson, who prepares his team at a property neighboring the farm where Shaw works. "I've known 'Bulldog' for many years, and I was doing trackwork, just to keep my hand in, as well as a heap of shoeing and some breaking-in," Shaw said. "I was keen to do well. I just didn't want any dramas because I'd fallen out twice in the early days of my career at Warragul. I didn't tell anyone before the race because I didn't want to be a jinx," he said. "On the positive side, I had driven a winner there though, back in the day. "Hopefully with the win I might've been promoted to second string stable driver, because there's a few others above me! Winners are grinners! Adam Shaw didn’t waste much time notching up a first win back. "But, seriously, I've got the attitude that I'm about if I'm needed. It's early days, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it this time around." Shaw said he initially got into harness racing through his parents being friends with well-known studmaster, trainer-driver Bill Le Sueur and his wife Merrilee, who run Pine Lodge Stud at Oaklands Junction. "I left school when I was 16 and my dad told me I'd better go and help Bill. I learnt a lot and went from training to race driving. I won at my first two drives at Echuca and Geelong with the same horse in Current Assets. "I thought how easy is this caper?! Of course, I found out that it wasn't always that easy. But I did go on and drive probably about 20 winners. It was a great grounding under Bill and I later worked with Stephen Dove at the Knight stables at Kilmore and his legendary father, Don. "There were good times with all of them and I actually drove my first and only double when I was working for Don Dove." Over the past 20 years, Shaw has been involved with rodeo events, including bull riding, barrel racing and team roping. "I've been tangled up with that on most weekends. I've always loved the rodeo, probably going back to my early 20s," he said. "I still do the team roping now whenever I can." Team roping is also known as "heading" or "heeling" a steer with two mounted riders - the header has the job of roping the steer to allow the heeler to rope the animal's back legs. Shaw said his farm job involved running a property of 1000 acres all under irrigation, through a recycled system, growing lucerne, running sheep and cattle, as well as agistment. "I thought it would be okay when I took it on. It was only part-time, but I'm still here and enjoying it," he said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Warragul Harness Racing Club committeeman Steve Austen had one of the happiest faces on course at Sunday's Warragul trots meeting.   His five-year-old pacer Rockntingira scored an upset win in the fifth race of the day, the pacers ninth victory from 40 starts.   Steve and his wife Karen prepare Rockntingira from their Labertouche property.   Driven by Rod Petroff, Rockntingira stormed home in the closing stages to grab a narrow victory over Raptover A Rainbow and Hes An Artist.   Rock On Playboy, trained a few kilometres away at Longwarry North by Geoff Walker, scored an easy win in the fourth event when driven by Greg Sugars.   Leading throughout as a well supported favourite, Rick On Playboy proved far too good for his rivals, the three-year-old breaking through for his first victory at start 14.   Completing a treble for horses trained in the immediate area was Drouin West horse Glenledi Boy, which looked extremely well graded in the other division of the three-year-old, and produced a winning result.   It was another Warragul winner for trainers Gary and Debbie Quinlan and driver Chris Alford.   Clyde trotter Mascott led throughout to provide Alford with a double. Trainer Jayne Davies hasn't prepared a great number of trotters over the years, but the ones that have passed through the stable have been of good quality, meaning Mascott should be one to follow in future.   The first four horses over the line in the trot are trained locally.   Stazzz Princess and Smart Little Shard were the day's other winners.   The current racing season at Warragul concludes on Monday, August 5.   Kyle Galley

Back in 1971, a single was written and recorded by American musician and actor Jerry Reed that’s been a well-worn catchphrase ever since.   That song was “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”. It provided Reed (1937-2008) with a Grammy in 1972 and it’s become a maxim for card-sharks, punters and athletes.   So our usage of the lyrics won’t come as a surprise in relation to Shepparton superstar pacer San Carlo (Mach Three-Bridge Player (Classic Gary), known around the stables as “Murray”.   The eight-year-old is ultra-hot at the moment, and connections have indicated they are now headed to the Group Three $35,000 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup next Sunday afternoon.   San Carlo is described by his reinswoman Bec Bartley as “a once in a lifetime horse”.   He already has a host of cups to his name this season. Last week it was a heat and final of the Mildura Pacing Cup after earlier picking up the Bendigo, Yarra Valley and the Cranbourne Gold Cups during the season.   Long-time Mildura trainer Noel “Lucky” Cameron hosted the San Carlo team during their carnival stay – and got the pre-race “warm up” duties on the cup contender! Bartley said trainer Stephen O’Donoghue, was keen to head to Warragul.   “But the decision hinged on how well the horse pulled up after the Mildura carnival,” she said.   “He didn’t leave a crumb from Sunday night’s tea and the following day was zipping around his paddock full of beans, so the final decision was really pretty easy.”   Bartley said San Carlo was impressive in Saturday’s Mildura Cup, and once he found the lead he relaxed in the race and didn’t knock himself around.   “It was quite the contrary to Tuesday in the qualifying heat when he over-raced and got all wound up,” she said.   That particular event is still being talked about and will be for some time to come. A proud Bartley later described that effort as “probably close to his best performance”.   “If you take the sections into account of 29.3, 29.7, 28.7 and 30.4 for a mile rate of 1.58-5 for 2600 metres on a track just 805m in circumference, it was a monster effort,” she said.   Bec Bartley (Courtesy Cobram Harness Racing Club) San Carlo and Brallos Pass went head and head in a gruelling battle for the final 250 metres with neither “giving an inch”.   San Carlo got the honors after a late dive right on the post.   When you’re hot, you’re hot!   Play it again San Carlo...   Hoofnote: And just for the music buffs who crave a bit of history and context, a little bit more trivia on that 1970s Grammy hit. The song describes an illegal game of craps, in a back alley. The protagonist is on an uncanny winning streak, which ends when a cop arrests all the players and takes the money as evidence. Undeterred, our hero believes his lucky streak will continue and tells the cop: “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”. The third verse describes the court case. The singer is delighted to see the judge is an old fishing buddy, to whom he owes money. But a bribe to pay back the money for a lighter sentence backfires. The judge grins and does the opposite: giving the others small fines, and a 90-day jail sentence for the singer…accompanied by an ironic summation by the Judge: “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”!     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Eight races will be staged at the first trots meeting at Warragul for 2019 on Wednesday afternoon.   It will be an early start for the card with the first race at 11:41am and the last event run by 4pm.   A Morning Melodies concert, staged for the first time by the Warragul Harness Racing Club, has attracted good bookings and will be staged before the racing begins. There are some smaller fields throughout the day but the meeting has attracted support from locals, and even trainers from the state's Western District will head across to compete.   Top horseman Gavin Lang got away to a flying start in the Warragul driver's premiership with five winners at the meeting on December 23, and has a strong hand again with four drives on Wednesday.   Lang is bringing some of his own horses to compete at the meeting, and will also drive the impressive last start Warragul winner Just Anything in the Trotters Handicap for local trainer Michael Hughes.   Veteran 11-year-old pacer Astronaut, who first raced at Warragul in June 2010, is running in the last race on Wednesday.   Wednesday's meeting is part of a busy week of racing locally - there will also be greyhound racing at Logan Park on Thursday afternoon followed by the big Warragul Cup card at the dogs on Saturday night, January 12.     Kyle Galley

Top harness racing driver Gavin Lang equalled the record for the most number of wins at a Warragul trots meeting when he drove five winners there yesterday afternoon.   Lang joins fellow top drivers Ted Demmler, Chris Alford, Jodi Quinlan and Craig Demmler as those to have landed five race wins on a single program at Warragul.   His haul came courtesy of Alpha Charlie and Harpagus (which he also trains), Just Anything and Rocknroll Gold (prepared by local horseman Michael Hughes) and Sahara Tiger.   Sahara Tiger is trained by Gary and Debbie Quinlan, who also produced So Much Bettor to win the fourth event.   That gelding was the second of two winning drives for reinsman Chris Alford, who had driven the Jayne Davies trained 12-year-old All I Can Be to win the third race.   Greg Sugars was the only other driver to win a race on the afternoon, courtesy of Wattabout Rioli, trained by his wife Jess.   For all his success during over four decades in harness racing driving, the Warragul born Lang has not won a drivers premiership on the Gippsland track.   Sunday's meeting was the first of the racing season at Warragul, so Lang certainly has got away to a flying start in a bid for his first driving title.   Warragul's track raced in fast order on Sunday afternoon, and field sizes and on-course turnover were excellent.   The next meeting at the Warragul Pacing Bowl will be staged on Wednesday, January 9.   Kyle Galley

Local trots followers are eagerly awaiting the opening meeting of the 2018/2019 Warragul harness racing season, which takes place this Sunday afternoon, December 23.   It is the first meeting staged at Logan Park since late August, and the first of several Sunday afternoon programs to be staged by the Warragul Harness Racing Club over coming months.   Numbers of local horses competing on Sunday are expected to be strong.   Last Saturday morning 17 horses competed in barrier trials at Warragul, and many of them are expected to back up this weekend for race assignments.   Local trainers Gary and Debbie Quinlan and Michael Hughes also expect to have strong representation in the events on Sunday from their stables.   Sunday's race meeting celebrates 30 years of racing on what is known as the Warragul Pacing Bowl, the racetrack of just over 800 metres in circumference which opened for competition in December 1988.   The track replaced a much smaller circuit which had hosted regular trots meetings since the late 1940s.   Warragul's current track was upgraded with an improved track surface and better camber on the corners in late 2014, and has produced faster race times since.   There will be free entry for patrons attending Sunday's race meeting, with the first race expected to start around 1pm.   A lucky racegoer raffle, giveaways and a visit from Santa Claus will keep patrons young and old amused between races.   Kyle Galley  

Leading reinsmen Chris Alford and Greg Sugars will stage an exciting battle for the Warragul drivers' premiership at the club's next race meeting on August 26. Alford drove a treble at the latest race meeting at Warragul yesterday (Sunday), while Sugars drove one winner and three minor placings, with both horsemen sitting at the top of the premiership table heading into the final race meeting of the season. Both Alford and Sugars could have several drives at the August meeting, so an enthralling battle may take place. Alford's treble were trained by local horseman Gary Quinlan - courtesy of pacers Roll With Rocky and Heavens Showgirl, and trotter Omy Son, while Sugars drove Illawong Maestro to win the fourth race for his father, Ross. Top young horseman Darby McGuigan also drove two winners at the Sunday meeting, courtesy of Undaliner and Into You. The performance of Into You in particular was one of the better wins of the day. The Rob Evans trained mare came with a strong finishing burst in the home straight, claiming leader Mystic Castle in the shadows of the post. Locally trained, Into You has won at the last two Warragul meetings, and is towards the top of the table for the Warragul "Horse of the Year" award for season 2017/2018, heading into August's season close. A further win at the August meeting would sew up victory in the award for connections. Surprisingly, Into You went around as a $14.90 chance on the TAB on Sunday, despite having won last month at Warragul in close to track record time. Four-year-old mare Yourgottabelucky made it two wins in succession with victory in the second race on Sunday for trainer/driver Richard Caruana.   Kyle Galley

Top horseman Nathan Jack drove his third Traralgon Pacing Cup winner at Sunday afternoon's Warragul meeting. Jack drove Dream To Share, a well travelled pacer he also trains. Dream To Share had been racing in New South Wales and was first up for trainer Jack on Sunday. He beat last year's Pacing Cup winner, Hurricane Stride, in Sunday's race, narrowly denying that the horse the opportunity of becoming the first to win the Pacing Cup twice. Jack drove Equity Jeb and Nuclear Bunny to win his first two Cups. The co-feature, the Ken Miller Memorial Pace, was won by short priced favourite Always Flashing. The four-year-old set down to a stirring finish with The Cobblers Piece, the pair racing away from their rivals before the home turn, and the favourite gaining a narrow winning margin right on the finish liner. Family and friends of the late Ken Miller with race winning driver Greg Sugars after the Ken Miller Memorial Pace Photo - Matt Walker Local trainers missed out in the two feature races, but still enjoyed good success on Sunday afternoon. Trainer Rob Evans, now at Koo Wee Rup, won his second race with his mare Into You, which ran a time only just outside the track record. A large syndicate of locals, including some first time owners, celebrated the maiden win of two-year-old pacer Blazin Cracker. The youngster should only get better with more racing and maturity for trainer Gary Quinlan. Clyde trainer Jayne Davies produced Redason to win the Trotters Handicap, the first of a driving double for Nathan Jack. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre celebrated a home track success in the opening race of the day with Mystic Castle, trained by Jenni Lewis and driven by Greg Sugars. The Adam Kelly trained Cullen Reign won the fourth race, driven by Chris Alford, who collected a winning double after earlier steering Blazin Cracker to victory. Kilmore horsewoman Rita Burnett had her name drawn out as the lucky winner of a new Dooza racing sulky donated by Warragul Light Harness Club. Her daughter Monique was overcome with excitement as she opened an envelope revealing her mother's name as the winner. Trotting returns to Warragul on Sunday, July 15.   Kyle Galley    

Locally owned and bred pacer Clancys Fobwatch is expected to be among the leading harness racing fancies in Easter Sunday's sixtieth staging of the $30,000 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup. Raced by local dairy farm manager Kylee Paull and her father John, Clancys Fobwatch has been racing in a rich vein of form in recent starts, giving connections the exciting prospect of raising their home Cup trophy aloft in front of a big crowd on the weekend. Kylee and John have enjoyed feature race success in the past with trotter I See Icy Earl, however Clancys Fobwatch is the best pacer they have bred. The flashy grey comes into Sunday's race fresh from a fourth placing in the Kilmore Pacing Cup, which followed an excellent second in the Cranbourne Gold Cup. Clancys Fobwatch also won the Charlton Pacing Cup earlier this year, along with the Pure Steel race at Melton. From 113 starts, the evergreen veteran has recorded 24 wins and 20 placings, and over $226,000 in stakes. He has won races in Melbourne and Sydney, and is trained at Melton by Adam Kelly, with top young junior driver Zac Phillips the horse's regular reinsman. Longwarry pacer Mister Wickham has to overcome a hoodoo dating back to the 1950's in order to win his second Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup on Easter Sunday. No horse has captured the event twice, and 11 previous winners have finished in the minor placings while attempting to win a second Cup. The first of those was Blue Robert, who finished third in the 1956 event, a year after winning the inaugural Pacing Cup staged at Logan Park. Mister Wickham missed an important lead-up run in the Cranbourne Gold Cup recently, however trainer Lee Evison expects the horse to take his place in Sunday's event. Smart mare Glenferrie Blade is another likely starter in Easter Sunday's race, with connections having earmarked the Warragul event after a narrow second at Melton on March 17. Reinswoman Jodi Quinlan has driven one previous Cup winner, while trainer Craig Demmler will be eager to have his name placed on the Cup honour roll alongside his father Ted, a three-time Cup winner during his illustrious career. Only six horses went around in last year's Cup, and Warragul officials will be hoping for a much bigger field this year. The Warragul Sporting and Social Club are again sponsoring Easter Sunday's event, the sixtieth such race staged at Logan Park, which makes it one of Victoria's oldest Country Cup races. Support races on Sunday include the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, which always proves an exciting spectacle. Cranbourne horseman Michael Hughes has set his smart trotter Cruisin Around for the event, and a local victory would be a popular one. Greg Sugars, regular race driver for Mister Wickham, also drives Cruisin Around and is expected to be in the sulky on Sunday. The Warragul Toyota Guineas is the target for smart local three-year-old Roll With Rocky, who trialled well on the Warragul track on March 17 in preparation for the event. The pacers owner/breeder, Grant Rathjen, has had a long association with trotting locally, and will be eagerly awaiting the return to racing of his horse. Gates open at Noon on Easter Sunday for what is expected to be an eight race program. In an effort to showcase the best possible racing action for the local audience, total stakemoney of $30,000 for the Pacing Bowl Cup has been retained, while major sponsor the Warragul Sporting and Social Club renewed their arrangements with the club in a vote of confidence for the local sport. Several new sponsors are also on board to support a new era of harness racing in Gippsland. A major change for the Pacing Bowl Cup is that WHRC officials are expecting the feature race to be run earlier in the afternoon, as the fifth event of the day. For many years the Cup race has been run as race seven. With gates opening at Noon, and the first race expected at around 1pm, an earlier Cup event may prove more appealing to patrons than a longer day when the race is staged after 4:30pm. In some years the crowd has begun to thin out by the time of the Cup, so an earlier start should see the event watched by a much bigger audience. The Cup race will be flanked by the Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup and Warragul Toyota Guineas events, and five other support races, which should attract strong entries. Traditional favourites such as pony trot races, jumping castle, animal farm and pony rides, and face painting will be on track on Easter Sunday, along with the Punters Club and betting facilities for the adults. In an interesting addition to the Cup day program, the Leongatha Medieval Society will present a display of jousting during the afternoon, and there will also be a medieval swordcraft display and market stalls. With many of the WHRC committee actively involved in organising their first Cup meeting, they are excited by the prospect of a good day of racing and entertainment, and are hopeful of a big attendance of locals to support their endeavours to build harness racing up again in Warragul. by Kyle Galley

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