28 May 2013 - A horse named in memory of a little girl with big blue eyes and pretty ringlets created tears of joy at Bendigo’s Lords Raceway on Saturday night.
Four-year-old trotting mare Sophie Gorgeous was named after Sophie Goss who passed away in her sleep at the age of seven on June 2, 2009. “Sophie Gorgeous” was there in spirit as her namesake sprinted from the middle of the field to snatch a surprise victory in race nine at odds of $13. Sophie’s family stood at the finish line to cheer Sophie Gorgeous home to her first win. Sophie’s mother Rachel said she was a “special little girl from day one’’. “We used to say she was gorgeous with her big blue eyes and ringlets,’’ she said. “She called herself Sophie Gorgeous.’’ And that was how she would introduce herself to others. Bendigo horse breeders Denise and Brian Gath heard about Sophie at the same time one of their mares had a little filly. “I got to know Rachel when I went to the deli at Coles,’’ Denise said. “Sophie would come up and say: ‘Hello, I’m Sophie Gorgeous’. She was the cutest little thing.’’ “When Sophie passed away in her sleep, I told Rachel I was going to name the filly Sophie. “She asked me if we could call it Sophie Gorgeous.’’ Harness Racing Victoria granted the Gath family special permission to submit one name instead of the traditional six. Sophie Gorgeous has started eight times for Ballarat trainer Brian Kiesey but Saturday night’s win was her first. “It was an overwhelming sense of emotion – everyone was in tears,’’ Rachel said. “You could hear the crowd screaming, and that was us. “We didn’t think she would go close to winning, then Brian (who was driving) came home for us. “She just came from the middle and took off.’’ Bendigo Harness Racing Club general manager David Aldred said Sophie’s friends and family were excited by the win. “They let out a big cheer, her mum was extremely happy,’’ he said. “It’s the type of win you like to see in racing. There wasn’t a lot of money in it but it meant everything to a lot of people there. “It was very emotional – to those people it meant the world.’’ Rachel said Sophie Gorgeous the horse was beautiful and calm, just as her daughter was. “It’s nice to say the horse’s name has meaning behind it and somebody thought of us when thinking of that,’’ she said. “We’ve never been a family that had anything to do with horses – it’s a really warm and fuzzy feeling to know a family we didn’t know that well would do something like that for us.’’
19 May 2013 - Bendigo Harness Racing Club treasurer Paul Best celebrated a feature win at Melton on Friday night with the David Aiken trained Real Bonus giving a dashing front running display to win the Harness Breeders Vic. Cinderella Stakes.The 4yo Art Major mare was bred locally by the Winzar and Pocock families and is raced by Best in partnership with Ian and Reece Carmichael and P W Ryan. Real Bonus rated 1:56.3 to beat Tara Toplady and Classic Bliss in the 2240 metre event. Real Bonus has now won 10 of its 36 race starts.
8 May 2013 - New Zealander Katherine Hagan celebrated her first Australian race win in the first race of the 2013 Harness Racing Training Centre Rising Stars Young Drivers Series at Bendigo's Lord's Raceway last night. Hagan (23) showed good skills with a patient drive to win the race on the Burrumbeet-trained mare Metrofromelle. From gate one Hagan was able to lead the early charge but surrendered the top spot mid-race before using the sprint lane to grab a 1.5 metre victory. A former thoroughbred track rider in Pukekohe near Auckland, Hagan switched to harness racing and notched her first and only other winner in her home country in her first season of racing. In two years of driving in races, Hagan has had limited opportunities both here and in New Zealand. A sales representative for a promotional company, the Melton based Hagan was working for leading trainer/driver Lance Justice for some time but more recently has been driving work for John Justice. “I have only had about 10 race drives in Australia and I am trying to mix working as a sales rep with my driving,” Hagan said. “I started my career in thoroughbreds but riding track work isn’t the same as trying to win races so I decided on the change to harness racing. A four-year-old by Metropolitan, Metrofromelle defeated Damascus Road, driven by Mitchell Shrimpton with Pensicola (Sammy Kilgour) charging through on the inside late in the race for third place. Metrofromelle is trained by Ashleigh Herbertson has now won three races.
3 May 2013 - Young Goornong driver Katrina Salathiel posted her first winning double and her first interstate win at Penrith NSW last night.
On a three month stay with trainer Ian Wilson, the victories were Katrina's first from just a handful of drives in NSW. Her father, local trainer/driver Peter Salathiel said last night the Penrith drives were Katrina's first real opportunity for her to get some runs on the board in Sydney. "She drove Giggling Girl to a second there and I said to her before she drove last night that she had a real chance of winning a couple of races at Penrith," he said. Both of Katrina's winners last night were for the Wilson stable. Stephanie Major was the fourth favourite at odds of $5.70 in the Carmen Vella Ladyship Pace and Katrina's gave the mare a perfect run to flash down the outide late and win by almost 3 metres from the favourite, Poster Girl with Stephanie Major's stablemate and second favourite Mrs Devine, a similar distance back in third. The second leg of Katrina's double was Western Destroyer ($7.30) in the Vicki Vella Pace. Again the Wilson trained pacer was given a perfect run, one out and one back by Katrina but the driver was pocketed on the turn and she had to work hard to get clear. The 5yo gelding sprinted quickly late and won in a close finish defeating the more fancied stablemate Cullens Impact, the favourite for the race, by a head. "I wasn't worried as my horse was going forward and going well," Katrina said.
Katrina, 22, has been driving for less than two years and has driven about a dozen winners from limited opportunities. "I am enjoying driving here and right now my plans are to stay here for a year and drive as many winners and get as much experience as I can," Katrina said. - David Aldred
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