17 February 2012 - Young Warragul based trainer/reinswoman Casey Parker has hit the top of the leaderboard after the second race of the three race Harness Racing Training Centre Rising Stars Young Driver Series.
Parker a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre prepares her own small team and has shown her driving skills off in the first two races of this series finishing runner up at Bendigo on 4 February and winning the second heat today at Maryborough. Prior to this series she had driven one winner and two minor placings. At Maryborough, driving the aptly named four-year-old mare Tara Toplady, Parker exercised patience and kept the $4.00 second favourite back early before finishing the 1690 metres off nicely to score by 1.5 metres in a 1:57.9 mile rate. Little Red Cloud (Timothy McLean) finished second with Evil Trickster driven by Denbeigh Wade third. For winning Parker earned 12 points to put her at the top of the driver table with 22 pts. Below the frontrunner the leader board is condensed with three drivers, Leroy O'Brien, Denbeigh Wade and Corey Bell each on 17 points. Timothy McLean has 12 and Emma Bowles 10; Aaron Woodhouse Ashby 9; Jacob Kerridge 8 and Ashley Manton 6. Charlie Martin and Mitchell Shrimpton did not drive today and will have their points for today averaged after Sunday's final race of the series at Bendigo. On Sunday, Parker will drive the James Nottage trained Lezza Wild Child ($31.00) at Bendigo. Lezza Wild Child has not won since 2008. Of the front runners, the youngest and least experienced driver Corey Bell and Bendigo heat winner Leroy O'Brien look to be the firming favourites for the series. Bell will drive the Ballarat trained Im The Main Man ($1.60 fav) in the Final while O'Brien is aboard Nica Lady ($19.00), a last start Cobram winner. Albury trainer John Scott who prepared track record maker Franco Noriega at Bendigo in Race 1 of the Series will harness up Rollon Red Rocket ($2.30). Bendigo local Ashley Manton has the drive. The Series is restricted to young drivers who have not had a lot of opportunities in their fledgling careers. To be eligible the drivers must have beeen under the age of 25 years at the commencement of the current racing season last September and had less than 100-career-drives at acceptance time for the first race of the Series. - David Aldred