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It’s quite a mixed bag of specials for Gloucester Park this week from the members of the WA Trotting Media Guild. Only two members – veteran trotting scribe Ken Casellas and TABradio’s Hayden King – have settled on the same best bet. Hall of Fame journalist Casellas, who was recently honoured for his long list of work and awards in harness racing with the introduction of The Ken Casellas Media Excellence Award, is keen on Boom Time. “It’s always a warming feeling leaving Gloucester Park on a Friday night after backing the winner of the final event,” Casellas said. “And therefore I’m making Boom Time my best bet this week – to triumph in the 11th final race. Boom Time burst back to his best last week when he surged home from the rear to score an impressive victory. I’m predicting that the lightly raced seven-year-old will be seen in a different role this week by setting the pace from the No. 1 barrier and holding out the up-and-coming Mirragon.” And King agrees. “Boom Time finally gets the draw in the final race on the program,” King said. “ Chris Voak is going to have Mirragon right where he wants him and can rate Boom Time to win as he does so well.” Radio Great Southern’s form analyst Warren Wishart believes promising two-year-old Rock On Top can frank his heat victory by winning the Gold Bullion Final for colts and geldings. “Rock On Top was without doubt the most impressive winner of the heats,” Wishart said. “He should be too good again in this.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft has made Hampton Banner his best for the meeting. “Hampton Banner took advantage of his best barrier in four local starts to lead and win easily here 10 days ago,” Havercroft said. “I don’t expect Palatino to try and hold the nominal favourite out, and from there he would take catching on his last outing.” TABradio’s Matt Young has opted for a squaregaiter as his star bet. “Tenno Sho has wonderful gate speed and can overcome the wide draw to lead,” Young said. “The speedy squaregaiter has been racing really well and can lead them a merry dance here.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning believes Star Of Diamonds can post an all-the-way victory in the Johnson Fillies & Mares Pace. “Star Of Diamonds displays the consistency that is a trademark of  her trainer Barry Howlett’s team and she has the prized No.1 barrier,” Manning said. The mare’s tally from her last seven starts is four wins and three places. She won last month’s Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra before finishing third in the Empress Stakes. Her Gloucester Park win last Friday night was most impressive.” Longshot guru Pat Harding has landed on Galactic Star as his best bet. “Looks like another tough night at GP – seems to be the pattern of late,” Harding said. “My best bet comes up in race six with No. 6 Galactic Star. He had a great win last week and in this small field of seven he should be able to show his class again.” But Guild president Wayne Currall disagrees with Harding. “I loved the way old Vultan Tin attacked the line last week when the closest of seconds behind Galactic Star,” Currall said. “The rising 10-year-old did all the bullocking work outside of Galactic Star, who led comfortably from the pole. Will be a different story this week and I’m confident Vultan Tin can turn the tables.” VALUE BETS KEN: For value, I suggest Heavens Showgirl in the Group 3 Johnson Final. She has created a big impression at her first three starts in WA by leading from the No. 1 barrier and winning without being extended. She has an extremely bright future. HAYDEN: Rabchenko unwound a sustained burst through the final 800m in quick sectionals to win running away last week. He just needs a modicum of luck to be a sterling winning chance again. WARREN: I have thrown out As Happy As Larry a few times now, but this is the race for him. I’m hoping he is missed by the market. Doesn’t have the numerical form but this is his race. RYAN: On Fast Forward has been racing in consistent form and is safe from the mobile barrier. Likely to be at juicy each-way odds. MATT: Dunamis is a wonderful chance. The indicative price at $12 seems wonderful value from the draw in the Gold Bullion for the colts and geldings. ERNIE: Poisedtopounce is due to hit form for co-trainers Greg and Skye Bond after a five-start losing run. The four-year-old won at 10 of his previous 16 starts. He faced a difficult task from gate eight when unplaced last Friday night. PAT: My value bet comes in race 10 with No. 3 As Happy As Larry. While his recent form isn’t that flash, in this small field where there’s not a great deal of form I think Robbie Williams can guide him home. WAYNE: Anyone who saw Mortician’s run at Pinjarra last Monday would have been impressed. He came off 80m and only went down by a length. He’ll be at liberal odds on Friday night and can run a race at odds. To view all of the Media Guild tips for this week click here. Good Punting.   Wayne Currall

Who will be the next Daryl Douglas, David Miles, Damian Wilson or Zac Phillips? The above quartet are just a few of a long list of leading drivers to have honed their skills at the Harness Racing Industry Training Centre at Bendigo. And, judging by the first intake of HRTIC Pony Trot scholarship students from 2020, there’s a few more that will be looking to make a name for themselves on the Victorian trotting scene. Among the list of 2020 graduates from the Bendigo school are two of the state’s brightest junior driving prospects, Connor Clarke and Jordan Leedham. Clarke, 17, a son of Sebastopol horseman Stephen Clarke, has already driven 36 winners - including several at Melton - with horses the calibre of Cant Top This and the close relatives Miss McGonagall and Monsieur Delacour. Clarke also finished a close second with Miss McGonagall in the Group 1 $200,000 NSW Ladyship Mile at Menangle recently. “I’d love to win a Group 1 race. I’ve had a second and two thirds so far,” said Clarke, who has been ensconced with the Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin stable for the past 13 months. Leedham, who started out as a trainee with Alex Ashwood and Kate Hargreaves and is now with Long Forest horseman Andy Gath, has enjoyed plenty of success since starting out in the 2019/20 season. He has steered home 34 winners to date and they have earned in excess of $200,000 in stakes. Brock Gibson, a HRITC based apprentice and a trainee at Keith Douglas’s Sebastopol stables, is another keen to forge a career in harness racing. “I’ve driven trackwork for Keith and helped break in a few of his horses,” Brock said. “My plan is to become a full-time driver.” Sean O’Sullivan, a brother of promising junior reinswoman Shannon, is a stable-based enrolment working in the Heathcote barn of his father, the Inter Dominion-winning trainer-driver Jim O’Sullivan. Sean, who has been placed twice from only 10 drives, helps work his father’s team in the mornings and serves at Garrard’s Horse and Hound’s Bendigo store in the afternoons. “I want to be a successful driver firstly and, when I lose my concession, I’d like to venture into the training side as well,” Sean said. A trainee with Andy and Kate Gath, Courtney Laker, who was originally with John ‘Bulldog’ Nicholson, comes from strong trotting stock, being a niece of well known horsewoman Rita Burnett. The 16-year-old, who lists Smart Little Shard and trotter Zigzagzoo as her favourite horses, has had a couple of drives in trials for Burnett and Aussie Mifsud. “I’d like to get my driver’s licence and later on become a trainer,” Courtney said. Blake Pace, 16, a stable-based enrolment with his father, New Gisborne horseman Darren Pace, started driving in pony trots when he was six. He helps work his father’s team of five horses. “I’d like to be a driver first and later on train a team of my own,” Blake said. Sam Vagg and Jazzy Fusinato, the HRITC pony trot scholarship winners, are both following their dreams but in different pathways. Sam, who lives in Camperdown and is doing Year 11 at school, has secured a School Based Apprenticeship/Traineeship with leading western districts horseman Matt Craven. “I help work Matt’s team on Tuesdays and Saturdays and other days when I’m required,” Sam said. “I would like to become one of the leading drivers and train a team of my own later on.” A daughter of former Victorian Breeder of the Year Greg Fusinato, Jazzy Fusinato, 18, is doing the third of a four-year course at the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre in Warragul. Her studies include doing trackwork and helping out on race days with GHRTC co-ordinator Jenni Lewis. “My aim is to become a harness racing driver,” Jazzy stated. “I want to work in a stable and pick up a few drives.” HRITC Executive Officer Leigh Graham said: “The Pony Trot Scholarship is a fantastic initiative by Harness Racing Victoria. It gives a clear pathway from the Pony Trots to licensing and helps give each recipient a start.  “There is no doubt that the scholarship will be keenly sought after in years to come. The quality of the recipients for the first two years has been nothing short of outstanding, a testament to all the recipient’s parents and mentors. It really shows that the industry is in good hands with the talent that want to be involved.” For further information on the Harness Racing Industry Training Centre phone Leigh Graham on (03) 5449 3590 or email leigh.graham@hrtcbendigo.com.au   by Peter Wharton

Champion harness racing reinsman Gary Hall Jnr declared that brilliant lightly-raced gelding Jumpingjackmac was on target to perform strongly in the $200,000 Sky WA Derby in a fortnight, and he is looking forward to testing him against several likely Derby rivals when he contests the Worldwide Printing Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Jumpingjackmac, prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr, will not have a stroll in the park when he starts out wide at barrier seven, with several fast beginners and strong frontrunners drawn to his inside. They include polemarker Sugar Street, Powerplay (barrier two) and Be Rock Hard (three), all of whom have excellent gate speed and are strong frontrunners. Jumpingjackmac has had three runs in his latest preparation for an easy first-up victory over The Swiss Maestro, a strong-finishing second to Lavra Joe and a last-start narrow win over the pacemaker Arma Einstein, rating 1.56.2 over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. “I was really happy with his latest run,” said Hall Jnr. “It would have been nice to have drawn a better barrier this week.” Sugar Street, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, showed that he was capable of earning a start in the Derby with a strong first-up victory over Bettors Destroya over 2100m at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park last Saturday night. Reinsman Chris Voak said he was sure that Sugar Street would be much improved after his Bunbury win. “We have the speed to hold up, but I have yet to speak to Barry about tactics,” he said. “Sugar Street is very talented, and we haven’t seen the best of him.” Perhaps the greatest threat to Jumpimngjackmac on Friday night could be Justin Prentice’s Mighty Ronaldo, who will start from the inside of the back line. On Friday night Prentice will be in the sulky, replacing Hall, who has driven Mighty Ronaldo at eleven of his 15 starts, including a head victory over Lavra Joe in the group 2 Sales Classic four starts ago, at Gloucester Park on February 26. Mighty Ronaldo impressed with his excellent third behind Lavra Joe in the Battle of Bunbury last Saturday night when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond hold a strong hand in Friday night’s event, with Be Rock Hard at barrier three and Mufasa from the No. 6 barrier. Ryan Warwick has given punters a good lead by choosing to drive Be Rock Hard in preference to Mufasa, who will be handled for the first time in a race by Dylan Egerton-Green.   Ken Casellas

Rock On Top, who was sold for $18,000 at the 2020 APG Perth yearling sale, has bright prospects of notching his third win from four starts when he contests the $50,000 Group 2 APG WA Gold Bullion final for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He reappeared after an absence of 40 days when he gave an impressive performance to win a qualifying heat from The Wildcard and Seven No Trumps on Tuesday of last week. Rock On Top started from barrier five in the field of six and raced in fourth position, one-out and one-back, before running home strongly with a three-wide burst in which he covered the final 400m in 28sec. Capel trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo said he was pleased with the win, adding: “He did a bit better than I thought he would. He was a bit underdone, first-up for more than a month and he sprinted over the top of them really well. “He overcame barrier five in the heat, and he has definitely got the ability to win from barrier six this week. Although this is a bit stronger race, I reckon he’s up to them. I have been happy with him since his latest win, and his work this morning (Tuesday) was really good.” Rock On Top’s chief rivals appear to be the Ross Olivieri-trained Follow The Music and Shane Quadrio’s The Wildcard. Rock On Top rated 1.59.2 in his heat, and Follow The Music was not extended in setting the pace from the No. 1 barrier and winning his heat by just under two lengths from Rellim, rating 1.58.5. “Follow The Music went well in his heat and he should be better in the final,” said Olivieri. “He was injured in a heat of the Sales Classic (when fourth behind Rock On Top in mid-February) and was unable to run in the final. We were lucky that he didn’t damage a tendon when he was struck on a boot, but we had to give him two weeks off.” Star reinsman Chris Voak said that Follow The Music had trained on well since his heat win. “He is the only runner on the back line, and I’m not quite sure how to drive him. If I get clear running, he can win.” The Wildcard will be driven by Kyle Harper and will start from the No. 3 barrier. He followed an all-the-way win over 1684m at Pinjarra with a well-beaten third behind Griffin Lodge at Gloucester Park and then a good second to Rock On Top in the Gold Bullion heat when he trailed the pacemaker Seven No Trumps.   Ken Casellas

Wonderful To Fly had a tough run in the breeze before scoring an easy victory in a qualifying heat of the APG WA Gold Bullion classic for two-year-old fillies on Tuesday of last week, and Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young is quietly confident she can overcome the outside barrier in the field of five in the $50,000 final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In the heat, Wonderful To Fly started from the No. 5 barrier and she raced without cover before dashing to the front 350m from home and winning by just under two lengths from Taking The Miki, who enjoyed a perfect passage on the back of Wonderful To Fly. “I don’t think that the draw this week is a worry, but I’m not saying that I’m just going to win,” said Young. “The way she went, she looks the testing material. She is still learning to race, and it was good that she didn’t overrace and was able to relax in the heat.” Wonderful To Fly, bred by Kevin and Annette Charles, was passed in at $10,000 at the 2020 APG WA yearling sale before Young purchased her for $20,000 a few months after the sale on behalf of himself, his daughter Alison and several stable clients. The filly now has earned $18,331 from three wins and two placings from six starts. Wonderful To Fly had been broken in and had had two preparations when Young asked Kevin Charles if he had anything for sale. “Kevin said he had some youngsters for sale, so I went and had a look at those horses, and I picked out Wonderful To Fly,” said Young. “Dad (Ron Young) had given the filly a preparation and he said that he liked her. She was quite an athletic type, and I was able to drive her on the track when she felt okay.” Wonderful To Fly is sure to be seriously tested by Extraordinary Mary (barrier two) and Taking The Miki (barrier three). Extraordinary Mary, trained by Jemma Hayman and to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, has won at two of her five starts when Suvaljko took full advantage of her gate speed and drove her to all-the-way victories, including the Western Crown Classic two starts ago when she beat Wonderful To Fly by a neck, with Taking The Miki in third place. Chris Voak, who will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Taking the Miki, said that the filly was still a bit immature, but was certainly capable of figuring in the finish. “She is improving and her trackwork is getting better,” he said. Trainer Michael Brennan is looking for a strong effort from Miss Sassy (barrier four). “She has been awfully unlucky at her past two starts,” he said. “If Extraordinary Mary and Wonderful To Fly go to war, Miss Sassy will play a part.”   Ken Casellas

“He’s now better than he has ever been, even better than when he won the WA Pacing Cup last December,” declared breeder-owner-trainer Phil Costello when assessing his wonderful nine-year-old’s prospects in the 2130m $25,000 TABtouch Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.  Vultan Tin, to be driven by Emily Suvaljko from the outside barrier in the field of seven, gets a good chance to turn the tables on another outstanding evergreen performer in Galactic Star, who will be handled by Ryan Warwick from the No. 6 barrier. Galactic Star, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, set the pace from barrier one and fought on grimly to defeat Vultan Tin by a half-head over 2536m last Friday night. Vultan Tin started out wide at barrier eight and worked in the breeze for most of the way. “Vultan Tin is jumping out of his skin and is loving racing,” said Costello. “I have changed his work this week to suit the race distances. He is dropping back from 2536m to 2130m, and his work has been lighter and he should have more sprint in his legs. “The shorter distance this week shouldn’t affect his chances of turning the tables on Galactic Star when much will depend on what tactics are used on that horse who has the advantage of drawing on the inside of Vultan Tin. “Vultan Tin is strong and doesn’t mind doing some work, but we don’t want to gas him out and bust his guts in the first 200m. The plan will be to just keep working forward. If you don’t bustle him too early, he usually finishes off really well. “His run last week was super, and his win in the Pinjarra Cup (2692m) about seven weeks ago when he led and beat Miracle Moose and Mighty Conqueror by a few lengths, going 1.57.2 in the mud, was outstanding. There probably hasn’t been a Pinjarra Cup win like that for ten years.” Costello said that Vultan Tin, a veteran of 178 starts for 29 wins and 46 placings for stakes of $936,678, would be aimed for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup in the coming summer. “He will keep racing in Free-For-Alls until he shows me that he wants a break,” Costello said. “Then he will have a rest, and after a spell he will be prepared for the big Cups.” Vultan Tin certainly will need to be at his peak to defeat the eight-year-old Galactic Star, who took his earnings to $683,127 from 31 wins and 29 placings from 93 starts when he beat Vultan Tin last Friday night. Adding interest to this week’s race will be the first appearance in Free-For-All ranks for New Zealand-bred five-year-old Valbonne, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from the No. 1 barrier. Valbonne had his first start for Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to win from Rock Me Over and Quick Stride over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. “Valbonne is a really nice horse,” said Brennan. “We decided to step up a grade to enable him to get a good draw. They tell me that he goes really good in front. But I haven’t yet spoken to Albert (owner Albert Walmsley) or Michael (Grantham) about what we will do. “He won’t disgrace himself. His win at Pinjarra was very good and he has come on in leaps and bounds since then.”   Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has been engaged to drive exciting mare Heavens Showgirl in the Group 3 $30,000 The Johnson Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, and the five-year-old looks set to fight out the finish of the 2130m feature event. Trainer Nathan Turvey has driven Heavens Showgirl for effortless victories at her first three appearances in Western Australia and he has decided to concentrate on the training aspects this week. Heavens Showgirl has started from the No. 1 barrier at her three WA starts and has not been extended in setting the pace and winning by an average margin of three lengths. She sizzled over the final 400m in 27sec. at her latest appearance when she easily defeated her smart stablemate Savvy Bromac last Friday week. She rises in class this week when she will start from the No. 6 barrier. But she has the natural speed and strength to overcome her somewhat awkward draw. In an excellent field of mares, Heavens Showgirl is sure to meet spirited opposition from the polemarker Star Of Diamonds and other in-form performers including Somebeachsomeparty, Savvy Bromac, Nikasa, Leap Of Faith and Weewah. While Turvey has two of the main contenders in Heavens Showgirl and Savvy Bromac (who will start from barrier two on the back line and will be handled by Emily Suvaljko), so does Busselton trainer Barry Howlett, who will be represented by Star Of Diamonds and Somebeachsomeparty. Four-year-old Star Of Diamonds will be handled by Chris Voak and will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier. She is racing with refreshing enthusiasm and her past 16 starts have produced six wins and eight placings, including her easy victory last week. “She won with the earplugs still in last week,” said Voak. “She gets her chance to lead this week and should be very hard to beat. The last time she led was four starts ago when she was narrowly beaten by Altamatum (after a final 800m in 55.6sec.). I think she has the edge in fitness over her stablemate Somebeachparty, who is racing first-up.” Somebeachparty, who will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, should enjoy an ideal trip after starting from the inside of the back line, and she should not be underestimated. She boasts a splendid record of 20 starts for eight wins, seven seconds and two thirds. This will be Somebeachsomeparty’s first appearance since she covered a lot of extra ground and finished third behind Waltzingwithsierra and Vivere Damore on January 8. Nikasa, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from the outside of the back line. She is racing keenly and is due for a change of luck after finishing second at five of her past seven starts. The Bonds will also be represented by another Bettors Delight four-year-old Weewah, who notched her 13TH win from 39 starts when she finished strongly to beat Western Arterra and Power And Grace over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. The Luke Edwards-trained Leap Of Faith, the fast-finishing winner over Lawrence and Glenledi Chief in the 2902m Easter Cup last Friday week, faces a stern test from the No. 8 barrier. Maddison Brown will be the new driver for the Jocelyn Young-trained Has No Fear, who will start from the No. 4 barrier. The five-year-old who has earned $259,677 from ten wins and 18 placings from 61 starts, has a losing sequence of 14. She finished strongly when second to Wainui Creek in the 2536m Empress Stakes two starts ago.   Ken Casellas

Former topline West Australian harness racing junior Stuart McDonald is excited by the fresh challenges and opportunities ahead in his new home-State of Victoria. Originally from New Zealand, the talented reinsman has the role of stable foreman working for another former Kiwi trainer Nathan Purdon, who recently set up base at Lara, near Geelong.  Nathan is son of champion trainer-driver Mark. “I got to know Nathan when he was working in WA for Greg and Skye Bond, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Nathan was looking for someone to work for him and to do some driving, so I jumped at it,” McDonald said. “I’ve only been here less than a week, but I see it as a great opportunity – I think Nathan can go a long way in the industry and I definitely want to be hands-on in that,” he said. “But I’m also looking forward to being able to re-establish myself as a driver and make the most of any opportunities that come along for me there.” McDonald arrived in Perth ten years ago, as a 16-year-old. “My dad Malcolm was a jockey and got involved later with some harness racing people, but never as a trainer or driver,” he said. “I began working at the stables of a mate of dad’s after we had the (Christchurch) earthquake. My school was closed, and we were sharing another school and I only had classes in the afternoons.  “I had the mornings free, and I’d go to work in the stables, but I never drove in trials or races.  The trainer I was working for knew (WA trainer) Greg Schofield, and that’s how I came to shift out for the opportunities in Australia. “As soon as I started driving, I knew that was what I wanted to do and I aspired to being the best I could be.” McDonald later worked for Ross Olivieri for three and a half years, during which time he was twice the State’s leading junior driver. He established himself in the State’s top ten overall driver’s rankings while still a junior, then spent a six-month stint in 2017 freelancing in New South Wales. After returning to WA, McDonald started working for Gary Hall Senior, achieving a career highlight in his first Group One victory in the Fremantle Cup on Caviar Star in January last year. “I’d have to say another highlight was to be able to drive Chicago Bull a couple of times – driving such an amazing horse is one thing, but the fact that ‘Senior’ was prepared to entrust me with some of his best horses meant a lot to me,” he said. McDonald said he was looking forward to pursuing the opportunities presented in his move to Victoria. “Nathan and his partner Mikayla (Lewis, also a driver) are setting themselves up for the future and I want to be part of that.  I want to get back to just enjoying the sport – I’ve probably lost the passion a little bit for it recently, but I’m definitely inspired by the change and to get back into my best form,” he said. “Obviously that requires opportunities, so the challenge for me is to find those and make the most of them when they are given to me.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It’s been won by harness racing champions, Gammarlite and Smoken Up, four times each, holding the record, but names like Minor Derby, Aachen, Minutenman and Pure Steel have all won Adelaide’s feature race.  It was first run as the Handicap Pace 1939 to 1946, then became the Christmas Cup 1947 to 1958, The South Australian Trotting Cup from 1959 to 1983, Winfield Cup 1984 to 1988 then the Smoke Free Cup and the Foundation SA Cup the Bet Easy Cup. But we all know it as simply the SA Cup and it’s on this Saturday at Globe Derby Park.  The SA Cup was an Australian Grand Circuit race from 1978 until 2012. It has been run over different distances in recent years, had date changes from Christmas to January, then last year February, and now due to the racing season change, it is run in April. The prize pool has had as many changes as race names. $100,000 for the Group 1 feature was first offered in 1987 for the race won by Paleface Bubble and slumped to $67,600 for Westburn Grant's 1992 victory. It gained ground to be worth $100,000 in 1996, then when Betezy was naming rights sponsor in 2013 went to $125,000 until 2015. Inter-dominion winners who have taken out the SA Cup include Thorate, Our Sir Vancelot, Shakamaker, Avian Derby, Young Pedro, Gammalite, Westburn Grant, Golden Reign, Young Mister Charles, Weona Warrior and the most recent Smolda the list goes on right back to Bandbox in 1947. Smoulda and Mark Purdon Bandbox of course, the 1947 winner, is the granddam of Champion Pure Steel who took out the SA Cup in 1979. So what has become of our premier race and what future does it hold in the land scape of South Australian Harness racing? In my opinion, and only mine, The Cup, while the powers to be may have dropped prizemoney because they see the race as an open invitation to ‘interstaters’ to come over and take the cash, needs a boost, maybe not necessarily back to Group 1 status, although that would be nice, but some sort of boost. In the past we had a two meeting carnival, with the Sires Produce leading into the Derby and the Free For All the week prior for the open class, this year, and not a bad idea, the Gawler and Pirie Cups were made mobiles with the winner exempt from a ballot in the SA Cup. Heres a thought! We have just seen Mildura pull off a successful carnival and anyone who has been over the ditch to the New Zealand Cup week, why not package a carnival like them? Imagine having the SA Cup Saturday and the Free For All on the Tuesday night. The Gramel on the Saturday and SA Trotters Cup on Tuesday like the Dominion in NZ. Throw in the Derby, the Kindergarten and maybe one of the Graduation race series on the Tuesday. Food for thought!!! Anyway, best of luck to everyone, both local and interstate. The public can enjoy free admission to Globe Derby Park this Saturday with face painting, on course TAB, food vans and the drivers foot race. The night should be loads of fun.   View the fields for Globe Derby Park Cup night click here!   Gary Newton SA BOTRA Magazine

Ladbrokes Easter Cup winner Scooterwillrev was in the winner’s circle again in Launceston on Sunday. The win was the 1,400th Australian driving win for Gareth Rattray. Rattray also won the weekend’s feature race, the $12,000 Neil Cameron Patrons Marathon in Devonport aboard the Ben Yole- trained Earl Jujon. At Menangle in Sydney on Saturday night, Ignatius continued his winning way with an 11.1-metre win in 1m 50.9s for the mile trip. The pacer will race again on Saturday week before connections decide if they send the pacer to North America. Tuesday saw the Office Of Racing Integrity conduct the much-awaited Ladbrokes Tasmania Cup inquiry. Stewards on the night considered a protest from the second and third placegetters (The Shallows and Lip Reader), against the winner (Bullys Delight). The grounds of the protest were for improper driving, whip use against the rules of racing and interference, which was subsequently dismissed. Stewards informed parties involved in the protest hearing on the night that they would consider AHRR 174(1), which can only be invoked after a driver has been found guilty of an offence. Tuesday’s inquiry was headed by Ray Murrihy, who was appointed to chair the inquiry by the Acting Director Of Racing Tony Latham on 15 March. The inquiry was adjourned to allow stewards to consider their decision. Murrihy has held many senior roles in racing integrity positions, including 21-years as chairman of stewards for Racing New South Wales, and he was also chairman of stewards for Tasmanian harness racing between 1975 to 1978. This week we have harness racing in Hobart on Friday evening and in Launceston on Sunday night. The Stars Gareth Rattray – notched up his 1,400th Australian driving win when Scooterwillrev scored in the final race of the night in Launceston. Rattray was the third Tasmanian to achieve the driving feat. He has also driven winners in New Zealand and Norway, which are not included in the tally. Rocknovertime – notched up his first win of the season with a dominant win in Launceston. Trainer-driver Paul Hill took the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding straight to the lead and was untroubled to score in a 55.9s last-half mile. Connections are considering a Victorian campaign. Troy McDonald – has a 10-win lead at the top of the state drivers premiership after driving five winners over the weekend, with a double in Devonport on Friday and a treble in Launceston on Sunday night, where his drive on Brighton Prince demonstrated why he is at the top of the table. Lavaughn – is a Conor Crook-trained mare that is in-form, she recorded her third win of the season with a decisive win in a race restricted to fillies and mares with no more than three lifetime wins. Earl Jujon – claimed the weekend’s feature race, the Patrons Marathon in Devonport on Friday night, where he came from last after being slowly away from the tapes to score in the 2645-metre feature. Multiple Winners Devonport – Friday evening Ben Yole – training quintuple; Wave The Hat, My Celebrity, Oneofthelads, Earl Jujon and Yellow Taxi, Troy McDonald – driving double; Wave The Hat and Oneofthelads, Hannah Van Dongen – driving double; Chris Be Quick and Ol Titch. Launceston – Sunday evening Ben Yole – training treble; Deadly Assassin, Good Feelings and Ranieri, Troy McDonald – driving treble; Brighton Prince, Good Feelings and Ranieri. Tasracing Calculated Sectionals Devonport – Friday evening Aunty Bessy 58.70s, Wave The Hat 58.80s, Earl Jujon 59.01s, Gauci 59.08s and Taurisi 59.229. Launceston – Sunday evening Christian Jaz 55.77s, Rocknovertime 55.90s, Hez Razor Sharp 56.14s, Starofrembrance 56.21s and El Jays Blu 56.44s. View all available Tasmanian Sectional Data by clicking here. Tasracing Official Price Devonport – Friday evening Hit’s: Wave The Hat $2.90 into $2.30, Chris Be Quick $5.00 into $3.60, Oneofthelads $5.00 into $3.20, Earl Jujon $2.25 into $1.95 and Ol Titch $41 into $21. Defied The Drift: My Celebrity $4.80 out to $6.50 and Yellow Taxi $9.00 out to $11. Missed: Rockowsroad $5.00 into $4.20, Guys Bettor Bet $6.50 into $4.00, Perfect Mach $11 into $8.50, Denstown $7.00 into $4.80, Mach Charm $5.00 into $2.50 and Got The Goods $21 into $9.00. Launceston – Sunday evening Hit’s: Lavaughn $2.20 into $1.60, Rockandahardplace $10 into $6.00, Brighton Prince $9.00 into $8.50, Rambleon $17 into $13, Good Feelings $5.50 into $4.00, Ranieri $19 into $9.00 and scoterwillrec $1.55 into $1.40. Defied The Drift: Deadly Assassin $4.20 out to $6.00. Missed: Karalta Courage $10 into $8.00, Pur Dan $6.00 into $3.80, Rowley $21 into $11, Guys Bettor Bet $7.00 into $4.20, Coveffe Hustler $10 into $4.80, Rockinfeelgood $5.00 into $4.10 and Izaha $8.00 into $6.00. Trial File Carrick Park – Saturday morning Five trials were held where four-year-old entire Kohannah was first seen in public since winning the Group 2 Globe Derby in Launceston last November when scoring in a standing start trial. The pacer stepped away safely off his 10-metre handicap to settle three back the pegs before gaining one-out one-back cover at the bell. Trainer-driver Todd Rattray made his move at the top of the home straight where he hit the line nicely to score by seven metres in the 2150-metre trial. There was no official time given for the trial. Other winners included; Gueneveres Madonna (2m 9.0s), Radiant Red (2m 4.5s), A Good Red (2m 2.3s) and Bonacci (2m 2.0s). Hobart – Monday evening Five trials were staged on Monday night where the rating 38-50 pacers recorded the fastest mile rate of the session of 2m 3.9s. Abs Boy recorded it for trainer Greg Scott and Jacob Duggan, he is one of many drivers in the state at present trying to obtain their race day license. Abs Boy settled three-back the marker pegs before working into the trial out three-wide around the home bend to go on and score by 5.4 metres over Galaxy Dancer and Mister Eagle. Other winners were; Im Jaks Teller (2m 4.4s), Hivoltage Glenwood (2m 5.5s), Spanski (2m 8.6s) and Christian Major (2m 5.4s). Week Ahead Friday: Hobart host Friday night racing where heats of the Light Harness Tasmania Cup headline the card, the $12,000 Final will be held on 25 April. Sunday: Another Tier 1 meeting will be held in Launceston with only a seven-race card to be held from 17:52. Trials are scheduled prior to Sunday’s race meeting.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Down Under trainer, driver and horses have fantastic harness racing day of winning. Kelvin Harrison and Andrew McCarthy who are both ex-pat down under horse trainer and driver respectively had a big day at the office on Friday at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Trainer Kelvin Harrison won four races and driver Andrew McCarthy won five races. It was a large day for the pair and to top it off all four of Harrisons winners were with down under racehorses all driven by McCarthy. Starting of the successful day came Big On Personality N who lead throughout and hung on to win in 1:51.4 for American Owner and big time supporter of down under horses Richard Poillucci. Next was well bred mare Bettor Trix N who found her way back into the winners circle in North America after a successful Canadian racing campaign. She got up to win in 1:52.1. Big On Personality N winning at Harrah’s Philadelphia Persimmon A then backed straight up in the following race and smashed fellow race competitors to clock 1:51.4. Finally making it three races in a row Claytons Bettor N made a mess of rivals when leading up in the running and shooting clear to cruise past the wire in 1:52.4. Bettor Trix N, Persimmon A and Claytons Bettor N are all owned by Curtin ANZ Stables who also has a large down under connection. Overall it was an outstanding effort by all down under horse people and races horses involved.   Monday 5th April Miami Valley Raceway OH Ideal Legacy A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $4,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Leonidas A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $40,000   Tuesday 6th April Yonkers Raceway NY Galante A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $15,000 Speed Man N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $15,000   Wednesday 7th April Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Jenora A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $5,600 Real Lucky N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $6,800 Trojan Banner N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $6,800 American Boy N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $8,800   Saratoga Harness NY Rckaroundtheclock N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $5,100 Gina Grace N – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $4,825 Misty Memory N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $7,200 Pasultimatedelite N – Time: 1:57.1, Stake: $3,600   Thursday 8th April Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Thebuckeyebullet N – Time: 1:50.3, Stake: $8,500 Imshortandsweet N – Time: 1:53.3 Stake: $9,000   The Meadows PA Dream Out Loud N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $7,200   Yonkers Raceway NY Motu Moonbeam N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $12,000   Friday 9th April Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Bigonpersonality N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $6,800 Bettor Trix N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $8,800 Persimmon N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $6,800 Claytons Bettor N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $5,600 Steel The Deal N – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $10,000   Meadowlands NJ Bettor Not Bitter A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $11,250   The Meadows PA Dream Out Loud N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $7,200   Yonkers Raceway NY Im Benicio A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $12,000 Wardan Express A – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $10,500   Saturday 10th April Freehold Raceway NJ Solid Asa Rock A – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $6,300 Sporty Spook A – Time: 1:57.0, Stake: $4,200   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Callmequeenbee N – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $8,500   Meadowlands NJ Ana Afreet N – Time: 1:49.4, Stake: $30,000 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Colossal Stride A, 3rd Vettel N   Miami Valley Raceway OH Lucifers Legend A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $6,500   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA   Blow A Cloud N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $8,800   Sunday 11th April Bangor Raceway ME Media Queen N – Time: 1:58.1, Stake: $3,300   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Robbie Burns N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $10,000 Tango Dancer N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $10,00   Northfield Park OH Rub Of The Green N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $10,500 He Can Fly N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $7,200   Click here for previous weeks articles   by Carter Dalgety

Victory at Beckley Park in Geelong on Saturday night won’t go down as one of Tornado Valley’s biggest racetrack triumphs, but it would certainly be one of his most significant. The Andy Gath-trained champion is set to become the ninth Australasian-bred squaregaiter to reach the $1 million prizemoney mark, with success in the Jack Rabbit Winery Sundons Gift Trotters Free For All enough to tip his earnings into seven figures. If triumphant, Tornado Valley would join fellow greats Lyell Creek, I Can Doosit, Sundons Gift, Speeding Spur, Take A Moment, Stent, Keystone Del and One Over Kenny as those from this part of the world to achieve the feat. Only Sundons Gift and Keystone Del were trained here in Australia. As it stands, Gath’s charge is a winner of 38 races – 31 of which have been since arriving from New Zealand in 2018 – and $990,297 in cash, a figure that could have been significantly higher had he not had such a dislike for travelling. “I think he came over with about $60,000 in the bank when he came from New Zealand, so he’s won a lot of it here but he’s never left Victoria since he’s been here,” Gath told Trots Talk. “A lot of those (other million dollar earners) travelled far and wide. Lyell Creek (went) overseas and a lot of those other horses have gone all around the country and around Australasia to pick up the money. “He’s such a bad traveller so we sort of have to leave him here. It’s probably been a little bit harder for him to accumulate that type of money. “It’s a great band of horses to be with, but we have still got to get there yet.” Tornado Valley made the trip across the Tasman for new owner Norm Jenkin after seven wins in New Zealand, and didn’t take long to make his presence felt here in Australia. He won the Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at just his third start for Gath, a victory which kick-started a stunning run of success throughout the next 12 months. During that period, Tornado Valley won 19 of 21 starts – including the 2018 Inter Dominion Grand Final – to stamp himself as one of the true stars of the sport. While he has won this country’s biggest trotting race – the Great Southern Star – on two occasions, it was that success in the Inter Dominion that sits above all others for Gath. This is particularly for the fact the horse won the three heats in the space of a week before taking out the $150,000 Group 1. “You are challenged as a driver, the horse is challenged as well and you are challenged as a trainer to have the horse cherry ripe for all of those races, so that was definitely the highlight for me,” he said. Gath’s wife Kate drove the horse in that Inter Dominion Grand Final to become the first reinswoman to win the great race. And like she has for all of Tornado Valley’s Australian runs, Kate will again be at the controls this Saturday night. “I’ve been very happy with him and his work at home has been top notch. Sometimes it’s never that great - sometimes he just sort of goes through the motions - but he seems really at the top of his game at home so you expect him to go pretty well there on Saturday night,” Andy said. SQUAREGAITING STARS (Highest earning Aus-NZ bred trotters) LISTEN TO ANDY GATH ON THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF TROTS TALK:   HRV - Tim O'Connor

The art of being a harness racing trainer is undoubtedly a test of patience, and Victorian horseman John McGillivray passes that test with flying colors on any measure! The distinctive McGillivray silks of green, yellow strips and orange sleeves bobbed up on Warragul Cup Day behind the only horse the 71-year-old trains, that being nine-year-old Lotakevi (Stonebridge Regal – Lotasilkari (Iraklis). And while the 100-1 shot winner caught punters off guard, it was no great surprise to McGillivray, and provided a happy reunion for a winning combination. Watch the race replay click here! “Dasha (reinsman Daryl Douglas) hasn’t driven for us for 11 or 12 years, and the last horse he won on for us was Lotakevi’s mother, Lotasilkari,” McGillivray said. “When I saw he was down to drive a couple at Warragul, and I needed a driver, my wife Rhonda and I were rapt to have him on – and he got the job done!  Dash’s our pinup boy alright!” he joked. “Dasha” Douglas and John McGillivray renewed acquaintances in the best possible way at Warragul McGilivray has been in the sport for 30 years, and in that time has raced only eight horses as a trainer. “Actually, in addition to Lotakevi and Lotasilkari, we raced Lotakevi’s grandmother, too, Lotaliberty,” he said. “My 60th birthday present was a service for Lotasilkari, and I was a bit keen to go to Diggers Idol.  Rhonda had picked up a picture at the Ballarat trots one night of Stonebridge Regal though and she loved the look of him. So while I was still thinking about it, Rhonda just booked ‘Emily” in to Stonebridge Regal!” he said. “We lost her first foal, but exactly 12 months later to the day, on November 14, 2011, along came Kevi.” That was only the beginning, however. “Kevi was all ready to go to the races when he did a suspensory, and he did a good job of it, too.  The vet Hugh Cathels described it as a ‘horrible suspensory’ and he used pretty strong language, which he doesn’t normally do, but it is a terrible looking leg,” McGillivray said. “We did all the right things, gave him the time he needed and put in the TLC and we finally got him to the races (in July 2018). Since then he’s won three for us, which doesn’t sound brain snapping, but he’s run 21 placings as well from his 85 starts. It’s around 25 percent, which isn’t too bad. “We’ve had a great time with him – both Rhonda and I love being in the sport, and Kevi’s won $35,000 and half a VicBred bonus, which we never thought we’d see.  He’s part of the family, dead set!” Stewards queried the improved performance of Lotakevi after the Warragul win, but McGillivray said although the victory was a little unexpected, he wasn’t totally surprised. “They (stewards) have got to and that’s fair enough, but it’s the old story – he’s actually been racing all right. I have been training him a little differently though, and I think that’s made a difference with his issues,” McGillivray said. “Since we bought a jogger in November, Kevi hasn’t been trained in the cart at all – he goes on the jogger every day, and really his only fastwork is at the races.  I think it’s agreeing with him because since November he’s had a personal best time, and second personal best time, and at Warragul, everything just fell into place.” McGillivray is based at the Croydon Light Harness Club, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. “It’s a fantastic little setup with a few hobby trainers – they tried to close us down a few years back, but we survived.  There’s around eight horses here that are currently racing and everyone is a hobby trainer, so we all work in together and help each other out,” he said. “Just being in the sport is great for both of us.  Rhonda had to have a stay in hospital just before Easter, so she couldn’t get to Warragul, but the win has given her a huge lift.  We always buy a photo, and every time you walk past that, you smile again. “For both of us, it’s probably just the people, here at the track, and in the sport in general. When we got the win, it was the last race and there still would have been 30 people who came up and congratulated me and the phone ran hot! “It keeps you active and it keeps you thinking, and you never stop learning. I very rarely sit in the cart these days, but just sitting behind your horse, and contemplating life, it’s magic.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Hearts are full with optimism and hope that future stars and potentially sires are in new hands and ready to embark on harness racing careers following the weekend’s first Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale. More than $6.3 million passed hands across 203 lot sales at Oaklands Junction, of which 77 per cent were pacers and 23 per cent trotters, achieving a 75.46 per cent clearance rate and a $31,355 sales average. It was a satisfying result for Nutrien Equine’s Mark Barton, who caught up with Gareth Hall and Adam Hamilton for a post sale analysis (video below). “A lot of money changed hands, it’s a busy couple of days, but we’re really pleased with the way we’ve been received by the market and the industry as a whole,” Barton said. “Some really good highlights and a solid day.” The headlines belonged to lot 107, which was offered by Benstud Standardbreds, Peter and Zillla O’Shea and John McGeechan, who earlier purchased Our Golden Goddess off Merv Butterworth at the end of a brilliant racing career that produced 17 wins from 29 starts and almost $450,000 in stakes. Their investment quickly paid off, with her first colt – by Bettors Delight – fetching a sales topping $180,000, having been snapped up by renowned Melbourne owner Jean Feiss. The colt will race for Hayden Cullen, now the trainer of what was previously Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Star Stables, who had long raced Feiss’ talented brood. “When I got the book he was a lovely pedigree. Yesterday was the first time I had seen him and I liked him,” Feiss said. She said a big draw was that the colt was also eligible for New Zealand’s sires stakes. Leigh and Alison Miles produced the top priced filly, with their lot by Captain Treacherous out of You Ask Ally attracting a bid of $115,000. You Ask Ally is an unraced Sportswriter mare whose dam was Amarillen, making her a half-sister to Villagem ($626,585), Miss Graceland ($244,658), Nostra Beach ($266,190) and the brilliant broodmare Pixel Perfect, who in turn has produced the likes Soho Tribeca ($1,103,854) and Carlas Pixel ($480,128). While the pacing sales topper looks set to head across the Tasman, the trotting sales topper may well be enjoyed for generations to come in Victoria, with plans for not only a racing but sire career. Alabar shelled out $170,000 for lot 177, who was a Father Patrick colt out of Une Belle Allure. Raced and bred from by Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms, Une Belle Allure amassed $176,810 across her 25-start career, including a dynamic three-year-old season that captured four Group 1s. Alabar General Manager Brett Coffey said the colt cost “a lot of money, but we loved him”. Coffey said he viewed the yearling with Andy Gath, who will train him, “and he was a standout to us”. “Looked over him a couple of times since, a few times here, and (Alabar owner) Alan (Galloway) looked at him yesterday, and he’s just got a lot of presence about him. His looks match his page and that was important to us. “Not many fillies win Derbies and (Une Belle Allure) won a Derby, she won numerous other races, (she's) by Angus Hall out of a French family – a lot of nice things there, a lot of boxes being ticked. “All credit to Pat and his team. They’ve done a terrific job with their horses. This guy we thought was the best, so we went pretty hard on him and ended up getting him. “Hopefully Andy can win some Group 1s with him and then he can retire to Alabar and stand at stud. That’s the plan anyway.” CLICK HERE FOR THE SALES RESULTS CLICK BELOW TO WATCH NUTRIEN EQUINE'S SALES WRAP   Harness Racing Victoria

The Tabcorp Park Melton track is getting a “once in a decade” makeover, with staff using a two-week window to perform a “significant track restoration”. They were the words of Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) development and infrastructure manager Rob Pongho, who told SENTrack’s Trots Life today the works would restore common damage caused by racing. “We undergo regular resurfacing each year, but the wear and tear created by horse traffic, particularly on the peg line but also by the second line of horses, gradually impacts on the base,” Pongho said. “(It) causes something like a cow track, which is inevitable, particularly with our modern day bases that are designed with a bit of give to assist the welfare of the horse. “It’s definitely not uncommon to have some sort of base impact. Jordan Robinson and his team at Tabcorp Park have got the expertise probably to mask these inconsistencies exceptionally well with plenty of water and compaction across the track surface’s top layer. “It’s been agreed that now is the time to do a complete renovation of the base of the inside section of the track, which cops all that traffic.” Pongho said the track staff grated the track on Sunday, had cut out a three-metre wide section the circumference of the track and were “at this very moment filling the track with the new base”. “The original base consisted of 85 per cent basalt, or bluestone crusher dust, and it had a 15 per cent component of the clay gravel, which gives it some plasticity or a binding effect,” Pongho said. “And that original base recipe has been replicated here, so we have something as close as we could possibly get … to the (original) base so there’s no inconsistency.” CLICK BELOW TO HEAR ROB PONGO ON TODAY'S SENTRACK TROTS LIFE:   Harness Racing Victoria

Craig Hayes is the dairy farmer and harness trainer from Stowport, which is a place not many people have heard of who was put on the map recently when he reached a career high when his star pacer Scooterwillrev was able to deliver his finest achievement as a trainer by winning the Ladbrokes Easter Cup. The early days In his younger years Craig had no interest at all in horses as his family ran their dairy farm and it was hard back in the day, as Craig would be working alongside his late father daily but the love they had together was sport. Craig was a very accomplished footballer in his younger years playing over 160 senior games for his beloved Burnie Football Club and that would never have happened if it wasn’t for his family’s support. “It would never have happened if it wasn’t for dad being there to run me around to all of my training nights and games as a teenager as you could imagine back in the late 1970’s it wasn’t easy to get around when living up in the bush and that’s something I will forever be grateful for,” recalled Craig Hayes. “My father taught me what work ethic was all about and the saying goes the harder you work the more successful you are in life and I’ve always had those words in my mind as that set the blueprint for myself and Tania’s successes in business and life,” added Craig referencing his wife Tania. Craig’s mother is still around at the age of 93 and she was independent in life and active up until last year when she had to be moved into a lovely nursing home close by. Craig’s mother’s one request was to make sure she had Sky Channel in her room so she could watch the horse racing as she has a passion for the horses that Craig trains and when Scooterwillrev won the Cup I’m sure all the residents heard her cheering him home. The first horse Craig ever trained was named after his mother and she was a little beauty called Marjy Mary who won nine races including a brave third in the Tasmanian Oaks in 2007. Gallavance Heading back to where it all began it was a mare called Gallavance that Craig acquired from the trotting weekly with close friends Cushy Summers and Grant Dunham. She was a 3YO filly but never got to the races despite showing plenty of ability. “Just before we were going to trial her, she did a tendon which was devastating for us, I was the only one that had any land, so the boys decided to let me buy them out as they didn’t know what to do with her,” said Craig Hayes on the filly who was foaled in September 1997. Cushy Summers was the one that pushed Craig to start training on his own back in the late 1990’s as his football career was coming to an end. Craig thought he needed something to keep busy so with the urgings from a few mates, fellow trainers, and Tania he decided to give it a shot. Gallavance turned out to be a broodmare gem for Craig and his wife Tania as from the seven foals that she has gotten to the races all of them have won multiple races. No Third Party was the first of those who won eight races and placed on 10 occasions from 35 starts. Mister Tehaych was the best of them winning over $113,000 in prizemoney. He was a good youngster winning a couple of feature races early including the Golden Slipper before returning as a 3YO to take out the Prince of Pace. He was driven by champion reinsman Gareth Rattray in 14 of his 18 wins with his last win coming in February 2012 with Craig in the gig beating a horse close to my heart in Our Sir Jeckyl. Mister Tehaych was a favourite of Craig, named after his late father Trevor Herbert Hayes. Mister Sumna was next to come along and he was as gifted as any pacer Craig put a bridle on, but injuries and manners stopped him from getting to the heights he should have although he still was able win to win 11 out of his 36 starts. Sumna won six out of eight starts between April 2013 and January 2014 so that showed the ability he had but he was becoming a very frustrating horse for Craig, so he decided to lease him to some close mates and send him interstate where he was able to win two races at Melton under the care of Dean Braun before returning back to Tasmania where he had a handful of starts before being retired. The next on the list will end up being the best of all, a mare named after his wife, Tania Maree. Tania Maree never finished further back than fifth in her brief career that netted over $44,000 in prizemoney winning nine of her 16 starts. “We decided to retire her and breed some foals as she was getting on a tough mark with her good record,” said Craig about the mare who last raced in June 2014. Tania Maree has produced two horses to the races, the first being Mister Gently who has won six from 12 starts and gave Craig and Tania a huge thrill when he recently won their hometown Burnie Cup and there would have been plenty of beverages drank on track that night. Then came along a Heston Blue Chip filly called Melnrowley who is named after Craig’s daughter Mel and raced with a longtime family friend in Mark Semmens. She had her first start in Devonport in February 2020 and showed above average ability winning easily with Craig taking the reins. Craig then decided to put her out and set her for the feature 2YO fillies race later in the season. She was beaten first-up in the Blue Bonnet but wasn’t disappointed as she made up plenty of ground. But the next six weeks saw her putting her hand up as one of the better two-year-old fillies Tasmania have produced by making it a clean sweep of the two feature juvenile races by winning the heat and final of the Sweepstakes and then going onto claim the big one, the $50,000 Evicus Final where she put up a huge performance rating a slick 1:57.6 to run her rivals off their legs. Jeanette Barry was named after Craig’s sister and her husband and though she never got to the heights Craig thought she would, she still has won three races from 12 starts. Brookwillrock has won two from nine but did run second in the Sweepstakes Final as a 2YO and is named after Craig and Tania’s daughter. The Will Rev connection Craig’s local veggie man Mick Filleul ask him to train a horse who he bought from New Zealand. “It was a big bloody thing, but I decided to give him a go and as time went, he showed enough ability that would win a few races,” explained Craig about the horse named Mick Armalive who first raced in Launceston in 2010 but a tendon injury brought him unstuck and he was eventually retired after just two career starts. Mick loved the horse and wasn’t afraid to put his hand in his pocket if the right horse came along. Mick and a couple of mates Andy Williams (Will) and Anthony Cocks (Rev) asked Melbourne horseman David Miles to pick a youngster out for them at the Yearling Sales, he was broken in by Leigh Miles then sent across to Tasmania. “Mick said he need a favour which was to give this youngster a couple of weeks work and tell him what I thought,” explained Craig who had such an opinion of the youngster than he and a mate bought into the horse that would become Mickwillrev winning 13 out of his 27 starts. It was after the success with Mickwillrev that Craig and his mates all decided to go to the sales and buy a yearling and that’s were the Scooter story starts. Scooterwillrev was purchased at the Melbourne Yearling Sales back in 2014 for $40,000. “I was lucky enough to be with the fellas on the day, but I can remember vividly one of the ownership group saying we have to pay GST on this horse so that’s another $4,000 and he wasn’t happy about that but looking back I’m sure he hasn’t worried about that again,” laughed Craig about the original purchase of Scooterwillrev. One lucky owner in Scooterwillrev was Scott Stagg who has been around the harness racing industry longer than most and he was asked if he would he be interested in taking a share and that’s where the Scooter name came from as that is Scott’s nickname. Scooter was a star from day one winning his first six starts before Craig decided to have a crack at the 2YO Breeders Crown Series as he wasn’t eligible for the Tasbred Series back home. He qualified for the final by finishing eighth, but it was a good experience and Craig brought him back and gave him a good spell before setting him for the Tasmanian Derby. He resumed with a first-up win in Burnie and went on to win another four in succession with the Derby being his next assignment so after the master Gavin Lang jumped on board for his latest win it was an easy decision to leave him on for the big one. Of course, Lang did what ‘Group One Gav’ always does by winning big races and it was by far and away Craig’s biggest success as a trainer but what was more special was having the master reinsman in the gig which is something that Craig will always cherish. That was the start of a great relationship as Craig set Scooter for the 3YO Vicbred Series where he ran second in the heat before finishing seventh in the final won by Jilliby Kung Fu. Scooter has won plenty of races since then but has also had plenty of issues, so Craig decided to send him up to Sydney. “Nothing went right in Sydney, so we brought him back home to set him for the 2020 Easter Cup to try to go one better than the previous year,” said Craig referring to Scooterwillrev’s 2019 Easter Cup where he ran second to Franco Tristan which was trained and driven by Gavin Lang. Unfortunately for Craig the 2020 Easter Cup was never run in Tasmania due to the shutdown of racing on 1 April 2020 due to COVID-19. But fast forward 12 months to the 2021 Easter Cup and Scooter was first-up in the heat just six days earlier but Craig knew he had his star back to his top, so he was more than happy to go into the series off a break. Scooter showed that he was going to be a player in the final with a game second in his heat and Craig knew he would come on from that outing. He drew perfectly in the Final as he always steps safely and when he lobbed on top and the favourite Willie Go West missed away, driver Gareth Rattray decided to hold the lead and that was the winning move as he dictated the tempo of the race and kept his main danger in the run to his outside knowing that Scooter can dash a very quick half and that’s what he did coming home in 56 seconds to hold of a gallant Ryley Major who came off the 20m handicap with the outsider Isaac running third. The win was an emotional one for Craig who had always dreamed of winning the Easter Cup since he first started training horses. “He’s just a beautiful natured animal who has always been a pleasure to work with and is much more than a horse he is my mate,” Craig said who added that to win with Gareth in the sulky and such a great group of owners made it even more special. “I set him for this race, and I knew that he would not let me down but to see all the stars align on Easter Saturday is something that I will never forget, and it will go down as my greatest sporting achievement of all time.” Craig’s training operation is a boutique setup with family and a group of close personal friends that he trains and races horses with. He has had a lot of success over many years in doing that which also includes breeding his own horses and buying a few from the yearling sales in Melbourne for his loyal client base. Family Craig loved his football career at Burnie but never got to reach the pinnacle as the closest he got to winning a premiership was being runners up with East Devonport back in the eighties. “In more recent times I have enjoyed watching my son Brayden playing football and I don’t like to say it, but he does have a bit more ability than myself back in the day,” laughed Craig referring to his son’s football ability. “It’s good to see Brayden back living up at Burnie after spending time down south where he was doing his apprenticeship to become an electrician. He has showed interest in the harness racing game so im hoping he will follow in my tracks and give it a crack when his sporting commitments are over as he does hold a stablehands licence and he loves coming to the races and helping out when he has time,” added Craig. Brayden Hayes created a bit of infamy for himself when he tweeted during a Big Bash match that he would run from Hobart to Burnie in his undies for charity if the Melbourne Renegades lost a match, they were playing in. That was back in early 2017 and when Brayden said that he will be honouring what he said he would do Craig was thinking there is no way he could run the 325 kilometres in eight days. But he had lots of support from family and friends and raised money for a family in need which was an amazing effort by him, and Craig admired his courage and mental toughness to not let anyone down. Craig and Tania have two daughters, Brooke and Melanie, who both also live locally with Melanie having two sons Jaxon and Eli. “I must say nan and pop love having them around the farm and the horses as it’s a great environment to be around as you never know one day in the future they may takeover the farm,” said the proud grandfather Craig. Brooke is the eldest and is a radiographer and has a great fiancé by her side which is great to see and let’s hope the mare Brookwillrock can throw a nice foal in coming years. Craig says he was lucky 36 years ago when he met a lovely young woman named Tania who later became his wife and biggest supporter. “She has always been by my side and always backed me in everything I have wanted to do from farming with the cattle and vegies, through my football and later in life as a harness racing trainer so without Tania I have no doubt I would have never achieved what I have in life to date,” said Craig. Tania on the other hand is quick to deflect some of the credit to her husband for his success. “He has always given his all to everything he has done in his life, we have worked hard to get to where we are now and raising our three children. His dedication to everything he has pursued and the success he has achieved is something that I admire so much about him and why I love him so much,” Tania Hayes said. “He also has a lot more patience with his horses than what he has with the human race,” laughed Tania. It was only fitting to get a few words from Hall of Fame reinsman Gareth Rattray about his association with Craig. “I’ve driven for Hayesy for many years and the few things that standout about him is his ability to have his horses ready to win when they go to the races which makes my job a lot easier. “He is as good as any conditioner of horses that I have seen, and he is great to drive for as he never has too much to say about tactics. “Mister Tehaych was a good horse early for us and I have driven many nice horses for Craig and now its come full circle with Scooterwillrev winning the Easter Cup,” said the reinsman who recently drove his 1,400 winner in Australia. The final word For Craig Hayes, he doesn’t see too much changing in the short term, it will be the same as it is now running over 500 head of cattle each day and training his small team of horses. It shows what a competitor Craig is that he decided to take out his driver’s licence at the ripe old age of 50, but he was quick to show that he could match it with his peers as he drove plenty of winners with the two highlights being the Novice Drivers Title in his first year of driving and taking out his hometown Cup on the Geoff Smith-trained Truly Blissful. Craig’s first winning drive was on a horse named On the Deuce in December 2010 in Burnie. Craig has shown over his time in harness racing that he is a trainer that always has to be respected and I have no doubt he is one of the best conditioners of a Standardbred in the state and that shone through with Scooterwillrev winning the 2021 Easter Cup. He has the knowledge to place his horses where they are capable no matter what class they are and that is why his strike rate is second to none. He will only take horses to the races if he knows they’re ready to fire, so with breeding a few more foals in coming seasons he is sure to have a smart youngster on his hands for many years to come.   Jamie Cockshutt for Tasracing

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