November 2011 - Kilmore Cup winner Bitobliss scored a mind boggling victory in Friday night’s $50,000 (Group 2) SEW-Eurodrive – The Legends over 1720 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton. Trained and driven by Congupna’s Scott Stewart, Bitobliss (Blissful Hall/Petite Alto) was trapped wide from outside the front line before going forward to park outside the pacemaker Melpark Major at the bell. Joining the leader on straightening, Bitobliss had the audacity to stride clear in the shadows of the post and win unextended in a rate of 1-53.2 from Melpark Major who had no answer at the finish, with Our Malabar third after trailing the leader. Glenn Douglas wore the Race for Fun Club colours into fourth place on Our Hillview Gold. Nagambie’s Chris Lang knocked quaddie punters for a “six” at Melton after winning the $20,000 (Group 3) NAB Scotch Notch Memorial for Trotters TMO or better over 2240 metres with $55.80 outsider Groovey Bromac. Driver Lisa Miles always had Groovey Bromac a 7yo gelded son of Muscles Yankee and Groovey Baby close to the lead then ambled up to the front runners on straightening, proving too strong at the finish for a parked Eisenhower. - With the files of Len Baker
20 November 2011 - Bendigo featured prominently in Saturday night's Gordon Rothacker Medal Awards for Country Clubs at Tabcorp Park, Melton.
The Bendigo Harness Racing Club celebrated a win in the Best Local Media category with the successful Race for Fun Club media voted a winning promotion. Clerk of the Course Keith Pratt received a Distinguished Service medal for his lifetime of service to Bendigo Harness Racing, Bendigo's Barry Quigley also received a Distinguished Service Medal for his services as a Committeeman with the Charlton Harness Racing Club, and Bendigo Advertiser newspaper editor Rod Case won the award for the Best Country Feature Story - "Merv The Entertainer", his story remembering Bendigo's late great Merv Dillon.
Ted Demmler was presented with the year's most prestigious award, the Gordon Rothacker Medal. Demmler joins an elite line up of Victorian harness racing identities that have won the award since it was first presented to Ian McCallum in 2002. Last years winner Arthur Graham was on hand to present Demmler with his medal. Other winners have been 2009 - Les Chapman; 2008 - Bruce & Elizabeth Clarke; 2007 - Peter Manning; 2006 - Matt Donaldson; 2005 - Ron Pocock; 2004 - Jim Barker; 2003 - Geoff Hill; 2002 - Ian McCallum. A true luminary of our sport throughout a career spanning five decades, Demmler accumulated more than 2000 training wins and 3000 triumphs in the sulky, including 15 seasons where he drove at least 100 winners. He was a four-time Australian Driving Champion, first achieving the honour in 1979 before notching a hat-trick of domination from 1982-84. Demmler’s driving career ended with a fall in 2005, but the reinsman was far from lost to the sport, retaining his training and ownership interests. Last season, Demmler celebrated his first Group 1 win as an owner when Charlie Machsheen bolted clear on July 8 in the 2YO Colts & Geldings Final at Tabcorp Park.
17 November 2011 - Records went in all directions at the opening meeting of Bendigo’s Lord’s Raceway 57 years ago. It was a sensational debut for night racing with an on-course attendance record established for a provincial trotting track and a long shot winner racing into the history books.
Experts praised the new venue and rated the racetrack and floodlights as better than any other in Melbourne. “The lighting of the track is par excellence, and the paddock, car park, layout of the bookmakers stands and the lighting of the same, are far superior to any in Melbourne,” Trotting scribe ‘Rastus’ wrote in the Footscray Trotting Round Up. Another trotting writer, the then voice of trotting Bruce Skeggs described Lord's Raceway, the first half-mile circuit in Victoria to be lit, as a "dream". On Sunday the Bendigo Harness Racing Club celebrates the anniversary of the historical inaugural race night with the first official running of the Anniversary Trophy on the Club's state-of-the-art track at a twilight race meeting commencing at 5:51pm. A good crowd is expected for the evening’s racing which will feature the main trophy race and a special track workout between races one and two by the yet to be named charity 2yo filly “Addy” raced by the Bendigo Advertiser’s 550 Race for Fun Club members. But even the year’s best attendance for the Harness Club could not go anywhere near matching the 14,000 people that were on track on Wednesday night, 17 November 1954 at Lord’s Raceway. The Bendigo Advertiser newspaper reported that Whittlesea mare New Boreen won the first race under lights and landed a big betting plunge from 5-1 into 7-4 favourite but it was James Dillon that grabbed the headlines, establishing a record that may never be broken when he won the feature Galvin Handicap. James Dillon, the backmarker on a 48 yard handicap, paid a dividend of 412/1. Only two five shilling (50c) winning tote tickets were placed on James Dillon, a former Western Australian pacer who was posted at odds of 33/1 in the bookmakers betting ring. It was reported that from 6:00pm onwards cars streamed out of Bendigo to the raceway, a seven kilometre distance, and policemen on duty had a busy time directing traffic before and after the event. There was a traffic jam for almost the entire trip. At 9:15pm, almost an hour and a half after the first race was run cars were still entering the track bumper to bumper. Lord’s Raceway filled to capacity and people were turned away. Some of Victoria’s best stables were represented on Bendigo harness racing’s opening night which featured a seven race program with field numbers of up to 24 starters in a single race. Local trainer/driver Ted Zimmer was just a young tacker then and he drove in three races. Just 24 years old then, Ted likened the opening night to a big night at the Melbourne Showgrounds. “The people came from everywhere, don’t know how many actually paid to get into the races but they were lined deep around the entire track, it was a terrific atmosphere,” Zimmer said. Another young driver competing was Des Rothacker, who still attends the races as a BHRC member most weeks at Bendigo. “I had four drives (on opening night) and didn’t do any good on any of them,” Rothacker said. “The track was like driving at a colosseum with the crowd giving you plenty of advice as they lined the fences around the track.”The driver’s list in the race book read like a who’s who of trotting with Gordon, Albert and Des Rothacker, Ken Pocock, Albert and Neville Gath, Hugh and Colin Redwood, Bob Knight, Alf Simons, Lou Welsh, Clarrie Long, Phonse Hickey, Des Ritchie, Dal Fitzpatrick, Norm Mannix, Bob Parker, Des Mann, Ted Zimmer and Hec Dunbar among those who drove at the Bendigo meeting. Sunday’s Anniversary Trophy will become a feature race in Bendigo with the Club’s marketing chairman Darren McPhail explaining that the Club intends to develop the race into a major Cup race in years to come. “We are proud of our heritage and we want to celebrate our Anniversary each year,” McPhail said. “Our General Manager is seeking a major sponsor for the race so that we can elevate the status of this important Cup in the future. It’s a really good opportunity for the Club to develop another feature race day and increase our profile.” - David Aldred
17 November 2011 - Champion Nagambie trained trotter Let Me Thru will miss the entire summer carnival, the 2012 Inter Dominion and planned international races, Chris Lang Jr. announced today. The trainer/driver said that Let Me Thru "has been diagnosed as a "roarer". "He will need an operation and three months off and he will not contest any of the summer carnival, compete in the Inter Dominion or represent Australia in next year's Elitloppet," Lang Jr said. The stable has their fingers crossed that Let Me Thru will come back from this set back. "Everyone here is pretty disappointed with this, but I guess now that we've found the problem we can take action and move past it. The only positive to come out of having this issue as opposed to a muscle/ligament injury is that it doesn't affect his ability. He will either come back 100% or not at all. So I hope for all connected with the horses sake, he comes back fresh and firing early next year." Lang Jr. said. - David Aldred
6 November 2011 - Kilmore trainer and driver Pat Carrafa steered 5yo gelding Shnappy to victory in the feature Ken Pocock Memorial Pace at Bendigo on Saturday night, completing a double on the seven race card.
Carrafa also scored with 4yo Village Jasper mare Tess Finnegan in the 3BO FM Pace for C0 class (mares) over 1650 metres. In the Ken Pocock, Shnappy, baking up from an eye catching third to Flash of Freed at Kilmore last week, was given a good run in transit and swept up three wide on the swing into the straight. After hitting the top the mare defied the swoopers Longtan Luke, posted six wide on the bend, and Hall of Fame which overcasme a tardy start. Shnappy a son of Totally Western and So Stunning, posted a winning mile rate of 1:56.1 in the 1650 metre event. Tess Finnegan led throughout from the pole to break her maiden status at start number 12. She defeated Karim Vale which trailed from inside the second line, having every opportunity to run her down, with Dejayangel (one/two – three wide last lap) rounding ou the top three. The mile rate 1-58.3.
Ken Pocock's career in harness racing spanned more than 40 years and the highly skilled local horseman accumulated over 1400 winners during that time with names such as Royal Gaze (50 wins) Fosmar (50 wins) Roma Hanover, Saunders Arthur and Game Oro gracing his stables. Pocock won numerous Cups including the A G Hunter Cup, the Shepparton Cup (5 times) Ouyen Cup (4 times) Mildura Cup (twice), the Italian Cup and the Moomba Cup. He also drove in eight Inter Dominions, finishing third on Game Oro in Preux Chevalier's 1985 Final in Melbourne. - David Aldred