24 May 2011 - The future of the time-honoured Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships looks very bright with the organising committee announcing a new six-year agreement with its major sponsor Warehouse Sales and a significant increase in prizemoney for the Series.
In 2012, both the Trotting and Pacing Championship Finals will be staked at $30,000 each, the highest in the Championship history. The secondary sponsor Loddon Valley Stud has also increased its contribution to the series. Charlton, Boort, Maryborough, St Arnaud, Wedderburn and Bendigo each conduct pacing and trotting heats of the Championships with the 2012 Finals scheduled to be conducted in January by the St Arnaud Harness Racing Club at the Charlton track. Central Victorian Championship Committee chairman John Campbell said the sponsorship increases and the decision by the committee to increase the Trotting Final Stakes to $30,000 was the most significant boost that the Series has had in its 52 year history. “I cannot emphasise enough the thanks for the support we have had for the series, in particular from our long term sponsor Warehouse Sales and their executives Vic Fenech and Bendigo’s Darren McPhail,” Campbell said. “My own business ‘Loddon Valley Stud’, has also increased the value of its contribution with services to our best stallions.” The Central Victorian Pacing Championship is one of the most sought after prizes on the Victorian Country harness racing calendar. First conducted in 1960 for a stake of 400 pounds, when former Trotting Control Board steward Rod Osborne scored aboard Miracle Echo at Echuca, the status of the race has grown over the years, with many of Victoria’s finest horsemen successful in winning the event which has been held annually throughout Central Victoria. Great horses from the past including Charles Armagh (1962 - Ken Pocock), You Crovottie 1964 – Bill Davies), Lord Setay (1966 – Dick Benger) and Honest Reward (1968 – Ralph Ford) have had their name etched into the history books by winning the race, with noted reins persons Ted Demmler, Noel Shinn, Clinton Welsh, Max Wishart, Brian Gath, John Caldow, Lance Justice, Kerryn Manning, Chris Alford, Gavin Lang, Bruce Clarke all piloting winners as the race progressed through the ages. It was decided to include the Central Victorian Trotting Championships into the mix in 1984, with Admiral Aaron (John Koek) being the inaugural victor. The stature of this race will continue to be part and parcel of the Victorian Country Harness Racing scene for many years to come. This year, the Central Victorian Championship Finals were held for the first time under lights at Bendigo’s Lord’s Raceway, adding another special chapter to the history of the Championships. The 2011 Pacing Champion winner, Bitobliss also underlined the quality of the Series winning two subsequent races and finishing runner up in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle in New South Wales. - David Aldred