Day At The Track
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When Regal Pepperell began badly in today’s Porthaul Hamilton Trotters Cup the mare’s supporters wouldn’t have known how much a blessing it would end up. “It’s very lucky she bungled the start, which put me three-back,” harness racing winning driver Anne-Maree Conroy said. “I was thinking I’d be behind the leader, and if I’d been behind the leader I think the leader would have stopped and I wouldn’t have got out in time. I just got out in time because of the luck of being three-back, so it worked out well.” Regal Pepperell rated 2:03.7 in winning today’s squaregaiting feature event at Hamilton on Cup Day, defeating Crown Dream (Neil McCallum) by 3.7 metres after the pair engaged in a stirring duel.  Last year’s Trotters Cup winner El Paco finished third beaten 28.4m for Taleah McMullen. Trained by Conroy’s husband, Michael Barby, today’s win meant plenty for the tightknit team. Conroy’s father, trots legend Bob Conroy, passed away tragically last month. “This was special,” Anne-Maree said post-race today. “I’m very thrilled. Sometimes I think Dad’s giving me a bit of a push.” Bred by Geoff Hood, Regal Pepperell is one of six winners out of mare Special Code from seven at the races. “She’s the last one out of Special Code for Geoff,” Anne-Maree said. “She’s always had a rocky gait, which has seen her lose races and lose races on protest because she trots rough, but Mick’s been trying lots of different things. “The last start (a win at Geelong) was the best she’s ever trotted. She’s gone one better today and won a big race. Hopefully fingers crossed he might have sorted her out.” Race favourite My Skypocket finished in fourth place after losing about 50m at the start. The first four over the line spaced the remainder, with Super Zeck fifth (107.9m behind the winner) winning what basically became a race within the race, beating home Mister Oz, Mister Gunsen and the resuming local Irish Whisper.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

A monster weekend awaits that could reshape the lucrative Trots Country Cups Championship, with Shepparton and Hamilton harness racing clubs taking their moment in the spotlight. While championship leaders Shadow Sax and Messini pursuit Group 1 acclaim across the border in the $100,000 South Australian Cup, quality runners will attempt to score valuable championship in this weekend’s Victorian cups double-header. The Mathews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup has presented an even field with Keayang Kallisto, Keep On Rocking, Bad Billy, Berisari and It Is Billy in single figures with TAB.com.au amid a Sunday race card that also features a keenly contested Porthaul Hamilton Trotters Cup. But before the dust is disturbed at Hamilton some of the summer’s most promising pacers will battle for the $50,000 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, which takes centre stage at 9.20pm on Saturday. Among that number is San Carlo, fresh from his breakthrough Inter Dominion heat win, dual Tasmanian cups winner Major Secret and trainer Sonya Smith’s promising pacer Moonrock. The latter made a bold play for the PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup lead last Saturday, challenging Ideal For Real before driver Anthony Butt had to relent and then struggled for a run in the dying stages. “On paper it looked as though we might get to the front, we had a crack and it wasn’t to be,” Butt told the Trots Talk radio show. “Ideal For Real raced outside his normal pattern and he wanted to hold the front too. That’s racing and we’ll turn the page and get on with it.” Moonrock has drawn gate seven for Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup and Butt said they would use the front line draw to stay ahead of major back row threats. “With the two good ones, San Carlo and Major Secret, drawn the second row, we’ll try and keep ahead of them and go from there,” Butt said. “(San Carlo’s) a great horse, one of the up and comers and raced really well in the Inter Dominion in Perth so he’s obviously the class horse in the race.” It could be a lucrative night for team Smith and Butt, who also team with Hey Yo in Group 3 race The George Gath, the former Kiwi whose been impressive in her first Victorian season. She will start from gate two, inside fellow mare and favourite Red Hot Tooth. “(Hey Yo’s) been fantastic since she come over from New Zealand,” Butt said. “She raced at a pretty good level over there but couldn’t quite compete with the very best ones. “Three starts for two wins and a second, and a big run last week behind Sparkling Success (at Bendigo). (Shepparton’s) probably a little bit easier field, but in saying that Red Hot Tooth’s been in her best form and probably should be hard to beat along with a few of the others.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Pitted against the biggest metropolitan and country harness racing clubs in the state, Hamilton Harness Racing Club pipped them all at Sunday’s Harness Racing Victoria industry awards night, named the 2017 Best Presented Track/Venue of the Year. It was just reward for the thousands of tireless hours the local club’s small committee and volunteers put in to ensure quality is reached at all levels. Hamilton Harness Racing Club chief executive Chrissy Hawker was on hand to accept the major award held at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne. In her fourth year as the country club’s CEO, Hawker was ecstatic for the hard working team and said it was a pleasant surprise to be recognised. By Spectator-Observer Partnership Reprinted with permission of The Spectator

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