2 November 2012 - Reigning State Monte champions, rider Annie-Maree Conroy and 8-year-old trotter Optimum will start their journey to defend their ridden trot title in Saturday’s night’s first heat of the Travel Centre Bendigo – Victorian Monte Championships at Lord’s Raceway, Bendigo.
Conroy and Optimum won the first Victorian Monte Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton in March this year after graduating through a Bendigo heat. But the champions won’t have it all their own way with the inclusion of South Australian raider Likeaplayboy in this year’s line-up. The Lance Holberton trained Likeaplayboy has been given a 20 metre handicap in the standing start mile saddle race. Under the conditions of the race the mark is allocated to T10 or better performers. Optimum, a T5 class trotter has a 10 metre handicap. Mary Crosby will ride Likeaplayboy. This combination won the Monte race at Globe Derby Park, Adelaide in May. Seven starters will go the line in the Bendigo Monte heat sponsored by Travel Centre Bendigo. Optimum and Likeaplayboy are the only two not going off the scratch mark. It’s interesting to note that only one male rider, Eddie Conroy (Cost Me A Quid) will contest the race with the trainers electing to using the lighter weighted female riders on the bulk of the competitors. The riders weights for the race are: Maree Campbell - 52kg, Kymberlie Hobby - 60kg, Haley Toulmin - 56kg, Sammy Kilgour - 60kg, Eddie Conroy - 70kg, Anne-Maree Conroy - 62kg, Mary Crosby - 55kg. Bendigo’s Maree Campbell will have her first Monte race ride on the Jim O’Sullivan trained maiden mare Shea Keystone. The duo will start from the pole mark position. The winner of the Monte will earn a place in the Championship Final to be raced at the Great Southern Star night at Melton on 23 March, 2013.