31 March 2011 - Bendigo Harness Racing Club will recognise the outstanding career of the Club’s inaugural trotting Maori Mile winner, Acacia Ridge which was humanely put down by his owners just over a week ago.
On Thursday 31 March , the BHRC will race the “Vale Acacia Ridge” Trot at Lord’s Raceway in the memory of the nine-year-old gelding. Acacia Ridge gashed a leg in the Trotters Cup at Bendigo on 26 February and the wound was stitched on track. Despite the best daily care, the leg became infected. Owner Robyn Van Maanen did not want the horse to suffer and chose to have him put down. “Robyn is the most caring person with horses that you could meet, she would have loved to put him on a float and take him home to retire, but the horse was in too much stress and could not be saved,” trainer Gary Hoban said. Acacia Ridge is buried next to his yard where he spent his racing career at Hoban’s stables. Acacia Ridge was one of Victoria’s most brilliant square gaiters, when in peak form. The Anvil Lad NZ – Liberria gelding won more than $304,000 in stakes, racing 66 times for 22 wins and 16 minor placings. Among his victories were the 2005 Group 1 - Victoria Trotters Derby, 2006 Group 1 - Vic Bred 4yo Trotters Final, 2006 Tontine Trotters Final, 2007 Group 3 - Chris Howe Cup, 2009 Group 2 - Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Trophy and the 2010 Group 3 - Aldebaran Park Maori Mile (at Bendigo). Fittingly, the BHRC also erected two special plaques this week to recognise the Club’s Maori Mile winners – Acacia Ridge (2010) and Ronerail (2011). The bronze plaques were placed on the Maori's Idol Memorial Wall at the entry to Lord’s Raceway harness racing track. The winner of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile will have a plaque placed on the wall each year the race is run. - David Aldred
29 March 2011 - Indications are that Sedgwick trained trotter Savannah Way could be in for his best season and the six-year-olds mentor Ross Graham will be out to underline the gelding’s recent good form with a victory in Thursday night’s Vale Acacia Ridge Trot at Bendigo’s Lords Raceway. Graham has had plenty of success with trotters in recent years. Savannah Way has won just four races during his 37 start career and so far this season he has stepped out just five times for a win and two minor placings. After being runner up to top trotters Sassy Pinevale and Backas Cobber at Melton and Geelong respectively, Savannah Way struck pay dirt for the first time this year at Kilmore two weeks ago, coming from an outside draw to beat the smart Chris Lang trained Mundaka in a tight finish. On Thursday Savannah Way is back in the draw and will leave from gate two in the 2150 mobile. His toughest competitor, Mundaka to be driven by Chris Lang Jr. is drawn at gate one. Savannah Way is raced and was bred by South Muckleford’s Graham Old who owns the son of Sundon and Poets Glory with family members. Sedgewick trainer Graham is a popular local horseman who has been training for 15 years. He received his first trotter seven years ago. The 36 year old has taken to the caper like a natural and has had several outstanding performers including the Old’s owned Sunana Asset, Viva La Fever and more recently last season's juvenile trotting champion Rostevarren and this year’s Vic Bred trot winner Sassy Pinevale. Although he comes from a trotting family - his uncles Sedgewick’s Graeme Dalton and Bendigo’s Garry Graham are successful trainers - Graham has had to teach himself the finer points of handling trotters. "My grandfather had a few trotters, but largely I'm from a family who just had pacers," he said. "For some reason my training track, which has a hill, and my methods seem to give my trotters more speed than my pacers." Whatever the reason, it’s certainly working for Graham and Savannah Way could add another ‘ win strike’ to the trainers impressive trotting tally. Bendigo’s eight race, Thursday night card kicks off at 6:30pm. - David Aldred
21 March 2011 - Locally trained Airzone jetted around Lords Raceway for a stunning record mile on Sunday.
The Longlea trained 3yo stopped the clock at 1:54.2 taking a half second off Summanus' previous best mile. Brilliantly driven by gun young pilot Greg Sugars, Dick Howarth’s electric son of Jet Laag was easily better than hiss rivals on the night winning by more than 21 metres. Raced by Raeleene Howarth Airzone was having its second race start this season and only his fourth lifetime race appearance. The record victory in the Boort Railway Hotel 3yo Pace (1609m) was Airzone's first win. - David Aldred
16 March 2011 – Sunday’s $12,000 Loddon Valley Stud Boort Pacing Cup at Lords Raceway Bendigo is shaping up to be an a being an all-star affair. Attracting one of the finest fields in its 33-year history and featuring as the middle leg of the North East Victorian showdown, the Boort Pacing Cup has attracted a super 12 horse line-up which includes, the current Melton Saddlery Victorian Country Cups Championship leader Village Of Dreams – the only horse in the race to start off 30 metres in the 2650 metre handicap. Also engaged are the proven Country Cup winners from the local Glenn Douglas stable, Our Hillview Gold and Stirling Charmer which will step away from a 20 metre mark. The Strathfieldsaye brothers’ Glenn and Daryl’s already have recorded five Boort Cup wins to date. Both Stirling Charmer and Our Hillview Gold have also registered Choice Hotel Country Cup wins this season. The rejuvenated Robert McCartney-trained nine-year-old Star City Roller was brilliantly driven by David Murphy to take out the Wangaratta Pacing Cup at Shepparton last Sunday to leave himself just one win shy of a $1500 bonus available for the first time in 2011. Star City Roller is in the running for the bonus that will be paid to the connections of any pacer that can win two of three Cups – the Wangarrata Cup, Boort Cup and Gunbower Cup, each raced this month. Having drawn to go from gate two after his breakthrough Country Cup victory last start, Star City Roller has a chance to claim the bonus at Lords Raceway. The same $1500 bonus is available to the winner of two of the three Trotters Cups held by the same clubs and despite Wangaratta Cup king Go Ahead Makemyday not nominating for Boort, a dozen very smart square-gaiters will be looking to open their accounts before Gunbower’s marquee meeting in seven days time. Among those set to contest the $12,000 Doyles Boomspraying Boort Trotters Cup are Chris Lang’s super promising square-gaiter Aleppo Sunrise (Ft, 5) and current Maoris Idol Series points leader, the Bendigo trained Lenny Lewis (30m, 13). Hampered by injuries throughout his 88-start career, Lenny Lewis has defied the odds to return to racing this season in peak form and despite starting behind every runner, he appeals as a huge chance to improve upon his fifth place in this race last season. Victory in the 2650-metre stand start staying test would also be welcome reward for his local trainer Alan McIntosh, who has nursed the eight-year-old son of Sundon back to racing to be a dual Country Cup winner already this season. Hosted by Rob Gaylard with support from guest tipster Lisa Justice, Boort’s eight-race card will also feature great dining packages, entertainment from Australia’s Got Talent contestant Alana Conway and plenty of fun and competition where racegoers can win a six day Gold Coast Holiday for two.Kids will be admitted free to Lords Raceway for Boort’s biggest day with all other gate takings to be generously donated to the Charlton Harness Racing Club to aid in their recovery following flood devastation earlier in the year.
11 March 2011 – Nagambie trainer Chris Lang’s main trotting focus is in New Zealand this month with his two top boys, stable stars Sundon’s Gift and Let Me Thru the favoured duo for the $250,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship in Auckland, but on Saturday night at Bendigo Lang has three of his mares attempting to earn a place in the Final of the Lyn McPherson Breed For Speed Trotting “Gold” Sprint Series. Two heats of the Gold & Silver Breed for Speed are being raced at Lords Raceway with the finals next Friday at Tabcorp Park Melton. The trotting series is very close to Lang’s heart with the Breed for Speed named after close family friend Lyn McPherson, the wife of prominent standardbred owner and breeder Duncan McPherson. Lyn succumbed to ovarian cancer last year. It is the second running of Sprint Series for trotting mares promoted by Harness Racing Victoria and Nagambie’s Aldebaran Park Stud. In memory of Lyn the event is proudly supporting the Women’s Cancer Foundation. “Harness Racing Victoria approached me and suggested that the “Breed for Speed” Series Final be named in honour of Lyn. I was overwhelmed by their thoughts and in addition to this Harness Racing Victoria, in particular Chief Executive Officer John Anderson, determined that the series and its concept be in support of the Women’s Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute,” Duncan McPherson said. “With this in mind, and noting that a large portion of industry participants are women, the thought of supporting the Women’s Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute allows all industry and allied participants to help create awareness of this disease and financially assist the Women’s Cancer Foundation- Ovarian Cancer Institute in their research efforts.” At Lords Raceway racegoers are asked to support the fundraising and join in the race meeting festivities. Included in the promotions is the inaugural Bouncy Pony Stakes featuring some of Victoria’s top drivers competing for the Women’s Cancer charity. The BHRC will donate $100 to the charity in the Bouncy Pony Race winner’s name. Likely starters riding the inflatable horses imported from North America include: Inter Dominion contenders Lisa Miles and Chris Alford as well as Bendigo stars Daryl Douglas and Leigh Sutton. The Bouncy Pony Stakes is scheduled to take place after the third race (approximately 7:40pm). The Breed For Speed trotting heats have attracted quality fields in both the $7,000 Gold and Silver divisions with the mares competing for a place the $20,000 Gold Bred for Speed Final and $8,000 Silver Breed for Speed Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. In addition to the stakes on offer at Bendigo, Saturday night, the Bendigo Harness Racing Club has two $500 bonuses on offer for a mare that can better a 2:00 mile rate in the Silver T0 – T3 Final and 1:57 mile rate in the T4 or Better Final. Fittingly Duncan McPherson is represented in the Gold Series Breed for Speed heat by Aldebaran Maori which is going for its fifth victory from eight starts this season for trainer Chris Lang. Aldebaran Maori is one of three horse trained by Lang in the race. Greg Sugars will partner Aldebaran Maori with Chris Lang Jr. flying back from NZ to drive Miss Warbucks and Ben Gledhill driving Happy Maori, the two other Lang stable representatives in the heat. In the Silver Series Heat Carisbrook trainer Brett Shipway has a strong representation with three starters. Shipway has the choice of partnering Earls Gold or Ships Choice with Mark Hayes partnering Kan Yu.
8 March 2011 - Inter Dominion aspirant Villagem sizzled at Lords Raceway Bendigo on Monday night, trialling anti-clockwise in preparation for this month's Championship in New Zealand. Driven by trainer Lisa Miles Villagem trialled with a galloping pacemaker driven by her husband David and cornered like a greyhound around the 1000 metre Bendigo track. David Miles clocked the Chariots Of Fire champion to pace his last half mile of a 2400 metre trip in under 55 seconds. "He actually went better than you think," a smiling Miles said after the trial. "He came home the last half in 54.9." Veteran track clockers had the 5yo pacing the last quarter in a sizzling 26 and change. "Lisa said he cornered super which is great news because we were unsure before this trial and his one at Melton whether he would go the reverse way,he has done it well twice now, " Miles said. Villagem will have another trial going the reverse way at Kilmore next Tuesday before heading to Auckland on Saturday week.
Photo: Daryl and Glenn Douglas
4 March 2011 - Five-year-old gelding Live In Reality went over a year without winning race but the Glenn Douglas trained pacer has quickly atoned for his long run of outs with back to back victories in successive days at Tabcorp Park Melton and Lords Raceway Bendigo. Before Thursday, Live In Reality hadn’t won a race since January 2010 then the Strathfieldsaye trainer got him back into the winners list with his brother Daryl guiding Live In Reality to a short half head win at Melton. On Friday, not to be outdone, Glenn took the reins for an all the way victory in the Schweppes Pace (2150 metres) at Lords Raceway. Starting the $1.90 favourite in the 2150 metrerpace, Live In Reality was rated perfectly by Douglas, who slipped the New Zealand bred son of Live Or Die into top gear on the final bend, establishing a winning break. Although Live In Reality tired in the race to the post he still had three metres to spare on Storm Territory ($3.70 - Brian Gath) with 4.6 metres to Tarleton Matt (Nigel Milne) rounding out the top three. Live In Reality is raced by a syndicate of owners headed by Tanya Mielicki, the wife on ace Melbourne racecaller Dan Mielicki. - David Aldred