27 January 2012 - It certainly seems to be the weekend for horses looking to increase their winning streaks. The two most notable are champion thoroughbred Black Caviar and outstanding standardbred pacer Sushi Sushi which are each on track for 17 straight unbeaten performances. At Charlton on Sunday two horses won’t get the press of the other two star equine headline makers but they will race for handsome prizemoney cheques at the major country meeting. The St Arnaud Club host the finals of the Warehouse Sales Central Victorian Pacing & Trotting Championships and both finals have brought together outstanding fields with two horses, Rejuvenation and Galleons Prospect standing out with winning streaks. The South Australian trained trotter Rejuvenation shoots for 8 wins in a row in the $30,000 Group 2 Trotting Final and former New Zealander Galleons Prospect is out to keep its unbeaten six win streak in Australia in place. There is no doubt that the Central Victorian Trotting Championship Final is Rejuvenation’s toughest assignment. Trainer Ray Goble brought the Wind Cries Maori gelding to Charlton for the Boort Club heat earlier this month and with talented Adelaide reinsman Ryan Hryhorec steering he got the cash with Rejuvenation downing Enjoy A Coldie and Living Bonus. Elsu gelding Galleons Prospect hasn’t put a foot wrong for the Stewart stable and Chris Alford will drive the impressive pacer in the $30,000 Group 3 Pacing Championship. From the number two gate on the front row he will be highly fancied to continue on his winning way. The Central Victorian Pacing Championship program starts at 4:42PM on Sunday at the Charlton track. The Club has plenty of family activities planned with lucky draw prizes including a big screen TV and an IPOD for the kid’s competition.
23 January 2012 - Victoria’s ever evolving Choice Hotels Country Cup carnival is leading a remarkable resurgence in on-course attendance and wagering throughout the state.
Comprising 25 regional features over six months, Victoria’s Country Cup circuit continues to grow in status and is now at the forefront of a trend suggesting crowds are returning to the track. One of harness racing’s genuine heartlands in Bendigo spearheaded the renaissance with a bumper crowd resulting in a 38% increase in on-course turnover for their marquee meeting on January 14. Hamilton’s third Cup meeting since its refurbishment fortified the trend with a 12% rise in on-course wagering before Shepparton confirmed the revival with an almost capacity crowd and 26% lift in the key wagering statistic on Saturday night. North-east Victorian equine enthusiasts also came out in their droves for Ouyen’s first harness card in almost seven years yesterday afternoon. Hosting a crowd greater than the Mallee Township’s population, the Ouyen Pacing Cup programme also welcomed Victorian Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine to its Blackburn Park course. This followed the Minister’s sojourn to Hamilton one week prior and further exemplified the Coalition government’s unwavering commitment to harness racing in this state. Harness Racing Victoria CEO John Anderson attended the Shepparton and Ouyen Cups and was thrilled by the support of local communities in those regions and right around Victoria. “It has been great to witness such tremendous crowds in recent weeks,” he said.“The Clubs have done a great job promoting their Cups and I also thank the local media in each area for their contribution.” On Saturday night, Ballarat will stage their much anticipated Pacing Cup along with second round heats of the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship and The Pure Steel. Hosting some of southern hemisphere harness racing’s finest performers, Bray Raceway will also continue their rich association with the Sky Racing Nights of Glory carnival. Ten more Choice Hotels Country Cups will follow, with Wangaratta and Boort also set to stage their first hometown features since 2005 this March. - Jason Bonnington
16 January 2012 - The immediate racing future of star Bendigo trotter Will Trapper will be decided this morning. The 10-year-old was a late scratching from Saturday night’s Maori Mile at Bendigo because of swelling in his near-side hind leg.Trainer John Noonan will jog the horse this morning before deciding if his stable star will contest next Saturday night’s heats of the Inter-Dominion trotting series at Shepparton. If the horse is not 100 per cent, Noonan will not risk him in the the prestigious series. A winner of the Group One Bill Collins Mile three starts ago, Will Trapper was third favourite for the series before Saturday’s injury concern. In a surprise development, Harness Racing Victoria have announced the addition of an extra heat for this year’s Seelite Windows and Doors Inter Dominion Trotting Championship. The shock revelation coincides with the release of third and final rankings for the iconic series and will mean three preliminaries are run and won at Shepparton this Saturday night rather than two. The move is a genuine gesture of goodwill from the sport’s governing body in this state and will ensure 36 squaregaiters rather than 24 will get their chance at ID glory on February 4 at Melton. Reigning Inter Dominion king I Can Doosit heads final rankings for the trans Tasman Championship ahead of four-time Australian Grand Prix champion Sundons Gift.
16 January 2012 - Even the connections of Bendigo Pacing Cup winner Decorated Jasper couldn’t match the smile of Cameron Wilson. The 24-year-old from Bendigo was the winner of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club’s trip to Paris competition at Lord’s Raceway on Saturday night. Cameron punched the air in delight as his name was drawn out of a box containing thousands of coupons cut out from the Bendigo Advertiser. “This is unbelievable,’’ he said. “As soon as I heard the first name was Cameron, I knew it was me. “I’ve never been overseas before, so I better get a passport organised.” Cameron and girlfriend Rachel Waight won a trip for two to Paris, including flights, accommodation and tours. “I was reading the Bendigo Advertiser at work one day and saw the coupon and thought I’d have a go at it,’’ Cameron said. He entered 19 coupons in the competition. “On Friday I paid my sister one dollar for every coupon she could find for me. “It was worth it.” The Paris competition was a resounding success for the BHRC. Saturday night’s Bendigo Cup meeting attracted the biggest crowd in modern times, thanks largely to the fact Paris competition entrants had to be on course to collect the prize. “We couldn’t be happier with the crowd we’ve attracted,’’ BHRC general manager David Aldred said. “Even though the weather was a bit cooler the crowd was fantastic. “There’s lots of families, lots of young faces and lots of new faces enjoying harness racing. “The number of people telling us that they were coming to the Cup for the Paris competition has been enormous. “It’s worked for us and it shows if you promote something the right way, the people will come. “I’ve spoken to people tonight who have never been to harness racing before. That alone makes this a resounding success.”
16 January 2012 – Veteran Bendigo harness racing trainer and breeder Ron Pocock passed away yesterday, aged 84 years.
Pocock, the 2005 Harness Racing Victoria Gordon Rothacker Medallist, was actively participating in racing at Lords Raceway last year but a recent illness prevented him from continuing in the sport that was his life. A champion in racing and proud to call Bendigo home, Pocock was fourth recipient of Harness Racing’s highest award following Ian McCallum (2002), Geoff Hill (2003) and Jim Barker (2004) on the honour roll. Pocock provided exemplary service to the harness racing industry for more than 60 years. The astute and highly respected horseman fulfilled many roles during his career, but was best recognised for his breeding and training achievements. For more than half a century, Pocock nurtured and developed one of the State’s most successful standardbred families. The progeny of his foundation broodmares boast collective stake earnings in excess of $1.4 million. They delivered him a host of feature race wins, particularly with juvenile pacers which became his trade mark. Jasmarilla, True Roman, Jack Brandon, Ima Orphan, El Pablo, Gold Share, Six Oclock Rock, Next Bonus and Star Bonus are just some of the many quality horses Pocock has either bred, educated and/or trained. He was a member of the Bendigo Owners’, Trainers’ and Drivers’ Association for 30 years since being elected its inaugural President in 1975. In his younger years, he also played a significant role in developing the fledgling harness racing industry in the State’s north and was among a handful of volunteers who worked to develop tracks in this region. Before his recent illness prevent him from continuing his participation in racing, Pocock committed his energy and passion to training one or two pacers and breeding from a small band of broodmares. - David Aldred
16 January 2012 - Ballarat trainer Paul Rowse celebrated the biggest win of his career when Decorated Jasper led from start to finish to win the $50,000 Group Two PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup. Driven by the in-form Jodi Quinlan, Decorated Jasper ($3.10 favourite) held off Villagem ($6.50) by two metres, with Captain Joy ($10.90) flying home to be third. The win was Decorated Jasper’s first Group win and took his career prizemoney to just less than $350,000. “I was saying to Jodi (Quinlan, driver) after the race, I can’t believe he has won nearly $350,000 in stakes just winning $20,000 races,” said Rowse. “So to get a race like that is very special for us. “We know he is not as good as some of the elite Grand Circuit horses like Smoken Up, so we are thrilled to get a race like this.” It was a special win for Quinlan. She had already won the Maryborough, Yarra Valley and Horsham cups this season, but Saturday night’s win was the most special of the quartet. “Jasper is a favourite of mine,’’ she said. “It really hurt me to get off him in the Horsham Cup and drive Glenferrie Alexis. “He’s a wonderful horse. He really deserved to win a good race like this. “He travelled really well out in front and was always going to be hard to beat.” The first furlong was always going to be crucial in Saturday night’s race. Once Decorated Jasper held the lead from Our Malabar he was going to be the hardest to beat. Star Bendigo mare Make Mine Cullen worked to the death seat and gave Villagem a perfect sit in the one-one position. Quinlan gave Decorated Jasper an easy time in front, running the first half of the mile in 59.8 seconds. They unleashed a 28.4 third quarter, which saw off Make Mine Cullen, before sprinting home the final 400m in 27.5 seconds. Villagem was gallant in defeat, while Captain Joy produced a slashing final sectional to make good ground from the back of the field. Decorated Jasper and Rowse will now chase a win in their hometown Cup on January 28. A Ballarat Cup win would be extra special for Rowse as he is the chief executive of the Ballarat Harness Racing Club. - Adam Bourke (Bendigo Advertiser)
16 January 2012 - Melton’s Merv Williamson reaffirmed why he’s regarded as one of Victoria’s premier trotting trainers when My Mon Star scored an upset win in Saturday night’s Maori Mile at Lord’s Raceway. In just his third run for Williamson, My Mon Star won its first race in more than a year when he flashed home late to defeat odds-on favourite Miss Warbucks by more than a metre, with Bendigo mare Sassy Pinevale running a good race to finish third. My Mon Star was one of New Zealand’s best trotters in 2010, but lost its way in 2011. The owners gave the horse to Williamson in a last ditch bid to regain some form. He ran third at Globe Derby in his first start for Williamson, before running a luckless 10th at Melton on New Year’s Eve. “When he arrived he had plenty of problems,’’ Williamson said. “We’ve worked on him and each week he’s got better. “We had to take him to Adelaide for his first run because he kept getting balloted out of races here. “He ran OK there, then at Melton he never got a crack at them and went over the line hard held. “The horse has got his confidence back and we’re starting to get the rewards.” My Mon Star wouldn’t have won had it not been for a masterly drive from Gavin Lang. My Mon Star settled back in the field on the pegs before gaining a split at the top of the straight and storming home to run down Miss Warbucks.
14 January 2012 - Harness racing reinsman Leigh Sutton always thought he’d share the thrill of his first drive in his hometown cup with fiancee Tiffany Murray.That dream was taken away from him in October when 22-year-old Tiffany passed away after losing a brave battle with cancer.
Tonight, Leigh achieves his ambition of driving in the Bendigo Cup when he partners the David Aiken-trained Smudge Bromac in the $50,000 event at Lord’s Raceway. Tiffany won’t be trackside to share the thrill, but Sutton knows she will be with him in spirit. “Everything I do is dedicated to Tiffany," Leigh said yesterday. "I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without her... she was a superstar. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from her.
“I’ve always wanted to win a Bendigo Cup and winning a Bendigo Cup for her would be extra special.”
With the help of family, friends and the harness racing industry, Sutton and his one-year-old daughter Milla are getting on with their lives. Sutton continues to build his driving reputation, while Milla has taken her first steps.“Milla’s flat out at the moment,} Leigh said proudly. “She’s running around now and talking. She doesn’t understand the situation and she probably won’t until she goes to school.
“She’s enjoying life, which is great." In Leigh and Tiffany’s time of need the harness racing industry raised more than $100,000 to assist with medical bills and that assistance hasn’t stopped since Tiffany’s passing. “The harness racing industry continues to amaze me with the support they’ve shown," Sutton said. “Even in the past few months the harness racing community has continued to support the trusts. Milla and I owe them a lot.” Smudge Bromac is one of the outsiders in tonight’s Cup, but Leigh gives it a chance of knocking off its more fancied rivals. “My job will be to give him a nice run just in behind the speed and hope we can sprint over the top of them late,’’ Leigh said. “It’s a good race, but if we get a bit of luck you never know.” If anyone deserves a touch of luck tonight it’s Leigh Sutton - Adam Bourke (Bendigo Advertiser)
13 January 2012 - Lisa Miles is confident Villagem can reproduce his best form in tomorrow night’s PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup at Lord’s Raceway. Villagem stamped itself as one of Australia’s best pacers in 2010, winning the Group One Chariots Of Fire in Sydney and the Group One 4YO Breeders Crown Final.
The progression to grand circuit racing looked a formality for the the son of Village Jasper. However, 2011 was a year of frustration for the Miles stable, with Villagem running one placing from 11 starts in the calendar year after battling a series of allergies. "He’s only the second or third horse we’ve had that had this kind of problem, so it was pretty frustrating," Miles said. "It took us a while to work out that it was an allergy issue. We had to keep giving him blood tests to try and work out what the problem was. "Once we got the answer it was a case of managing the problem. "With the medication we needed to treat him we couldn’t race him.We put racing on hold, treated him properly and then waited for the medication to get out of his system.
"It’s the trials and tribulations of having a good horse... everyone has to go through these problems at times." Villagem showed he’s lost no speed by winning two recent trials in impressive style at Melton and Shepparton. "Even though we couldn’t race him, we kept him ticking over at home so he maintained his fitness," Miles said. "His two trial wins were a relief more than anything. It was a relief to see him somewhere near his best and that we’re back on track. It’s such a high level that he has to race in these days and you can’t afford to be five per cent off your game. "The horse has showed us that he is healthy again and ready to race." Tomorrow night’s $50,000 Bendigo Pacing Cup will give Miles a better indication of where Villagem stands. Polemarker Decorated Jasper and standout mare Make Mine Cullen will be the testing material in an even race. "It’s nice to see the horse has drawn barrier five and not the back row," Miles said. "It gives us the option of going forward at the start.
"You really can’t disregard any horse in the field, they’ve all earned their spot. "Decorated Jasper from the draw is a threat. Captain Joy is going well and Sammy Maguire must be going well for Mark Purdon to bring him over from New Zealand. "Make Mine Cullen has got her form on the board. Hopefully, we’re thereabouts at the finish." - Adam Bourke (Bendigo Advertiser)
11 January 2012 - The top fancies will start on the front row in Saturday night’s $50,000 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup.Horsham Cup placegetter Decorated Jasper should feature strongly in the Group Two race after drawing barrier one, while star Bendigo mare Make Mine Cullen faces a tougher task from barrier seven.
New Zealand bred gelding Our Malabar will start from barrier three with the Lisa and David Miles-trained 2010 Chariots Of Fire winner Villagem in barrier five.
The 2009 Bendigo Cup-winner Sammy Maguire has drawn barrier six for his New Zealand trainer/driver Mark Purdon..Bendigo Harness Racing Club general manager David Aldred said yesterday Decorated Jasper – second in Sunday’s Horsham Cup – looms as the frontrunner. “He’s racing extremely well, from that draw he’s going to be very hard to beat,” Aldred said. "The pacer is likely to get the run of the race behind the speed and have the last shot in the straight via the sprint lane." But Aldred said the Bendigo Cup would be a good betting race with many horses in with a live chance. “Our Malabar has also drawn very, very well, while Make Mine Cullen and Sammy Maguire are two very classy horses,’’ he said. “The outside line is not going to affect Make Mine Cullen." “Sammy Maguire is probably a bit of a dark horse, we haven’t seen him racing over here for a while. “I think it’s going to be a brilliant betting race, with the horses that we’ve got here it’s a really open field. “At Lord’s Raceway the draw isn’t so important as some of the other tracks because it’s a wider track. There’s plenty of racing room with well banked turns.” Make Mine Cullen enters the race in fine form after winning three of its past four starts, but the Glenn Douglas-trained mare will have history against her on Saturday night. No central Victorian-trained horse has won the Cup since Robric Jonboy in 2004, while the last mare to win was Mother Courage in 2002. Make Mine Cullen finished an unlucky ninth in last year’s Bendigo Cup. Meanwhile, the highly-fancied I Didn’t Do It has not accepted for Saturday night’s other feature race - the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile. Sedgwick trotter Will Trapper will be a the favourite despite drawing barrier seven. The John Noonan-trained gelding has two wins and a third place in its last three starts, but should be challenged by Good Thanks and New Zealand horse Miss Warbucks.“The rest of these horses are capable of winning it as well. “(Will Trapper’s wide draw) makes his job a little more difficult, but John Noonan has got him going sensationally,” Aldred said. “It’s a good betting race, Will Trapper being drawn wide opens up the betting.” Aldred is hoping for a bumper crowd of more than 3000 people at Lord’s Raceway in Junortoun on Saturday night. A trip to Paris is up for grabs for one lucky racegoer. Mr Aldred said people needed to collect a coupon from the Bendigo Advertiser and place it in the barrel on course to be in the running for the Paris holiday. “I reckon we’ll get a sensational crowd to see some of the year’s best racing in Bendigo - I just hope the weather is good,” he said. First of nine races on Bendigo Pacing Cup night is at 6.30pm when the Mitavite F