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The life of a standardbred horse after harness racing commitments will take centre stage at Horsham Harness Racing Club's 2018 Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Nine-time winning pacer Kenny Trickem and former accomplished trotter Waikare Aristocrat have made a seamless transition to a new career under saddle and will appear at The Weekly Advertiser Pacing Cup celebration as ambassadors for Harness Racing Victoria's Harness Education and Rehoming, HERO, program. Cup patrons will have an up-close-and-personal opportunity to meet both horses as part of a new promotion called 'Pat Your HERO'. Waikare Aristocrat, 'Toff', has been involved with HERO since its inception. The 10-year-old trotting-bred gelding notched 15 wins for $124,160 in stakes from 69 race starts and worked his way down to metropolitan class before retiring in July 2015. He now regularly attends country cup and feature race meetings. HERO program manager Tanya McDermott, whose family bred and raced the son of Safely Kept, said the gelding thrived on human attention and demonstrated the renowned standardbred temperament "Toff is a people horse but has a special affinity with children," she said. "He likes nothing better than getting out and about and has travelled to all parts of the state to promote HERO. "He is also an accomplished show performer and enjoys trail and recreational rides. When he's not working for HERO, he is an excellent nanny, babysitting his yearling niece." The other HERO horse in Horsham, Kenny Trickem, was a favourite of trainer Luke Bryant's stable and has recently completed his re-education for riding under the care of Warren Cochrane at Cobe Lodge. Ms McDermott said Kenny Trickem, the son of Stonebridge Regal, last raced in September 2017 and was now available for sale to a loving forever home. She added that the horse had a magnificent nature and was 'very' laid back under saddle. "Kenny is a gem. His racing owners were passionate about finding him the perfect life after racing opportunity and he will be the ultimate trail-riding companion for his new owner," she said. "He is so entirely relaxed and loves to get out in the bush. Not much happens in a rush in Kenny's world, he epitomises the standardbred temperament we all love." Now in its third year, HERO is designed to create positive pathways for standardbred horses exiting racing, catering for horses that had ended their career and others that fail to make it to the track. "HERO works directly with the harness-racing industry, its breeders, owners, trainers and drivers," Ms McDermott said. "The program's focus is the facilitation of opportunities for standardbreds to transition from training to appropriate long-term retirement homes, primarily as ridden or pleasure harness horses. "Since HERO's inception, the support from all sectors of the harness-racing community has been extraordinary, not only those involved with the hands-on care and training of horses, but also sponsors, administrators and the like. "As a result, more standardbreds than ever before are placed into loving life after racing homes, which is a very satisfying outcome. "With the financial support of both HRV and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, we are providing tangible financial and practical support for retrainers and heightening the profile of standardbreds who make amazing pleasure horses after their racing life has concluded." People seeking further information about the HERO program can visit, email or phone 0407 413 156 during business hours.   TANYA McDERMOTT

The Weekly Advertiser has signed on as naming-rights sponsor of Horsham and District Harness Racing Club's April 22nd Horsham Pacing Cup. Pictured celebrating the partnership with the Cup are, from left, The Weekly Advertiser editor Dean Lawson, Horsham Harness Racing Club president Justin Lane, ACE Radio Horsham general manager Brendan O'Loughlin and harness-racing correspondent Tony Logan.        

Queensland harness racing reinsman Pete McMullen added his name to the time honoured “Noel Smith Memorial” honour roll when he narrowly took out the 2018 edition of the Decron Horse Care Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday afternoon. McMullen started the day aboard the Alan Donohoe trained Gunnrneedabigerboat which battled on gamely for sixth place after being posted three wide for the entire journey. Young NSW driver Chris Geary took out the race with the very smart, Emma Stewart trained, 3yo colt Liftntorque ($1.40 fav.) which led all the way over the 1700 metre sprint trip to score by 8 metres in a rate of 1:54.5. The Queenslander gained maximum points in the second leg of the championship with the Jeff Tarbone trained, 4yo gelding Bettor Than That (NZ) which led from go to whoa in C0 class 2200 metre contest. McMullen piled on the points again in round three, when the Barry Finnis trained, 4yo gelding Bee Gees Bandit ($1.70 fav.) led all the way to capture the C1 race by 10 metres in a rate of 1:57.7. As the starters lined up behind the Pryde’s EasiFeed mobile for the last heat of the Invitation, it was a duel in two between McMullen and Victorian veteran Gavin Lang who had finished third, second and second with his three drives, to decide who would take out the Horsham crown. Chris Geary won the C2/3 event as expected with $1.50 fav. Emain Macha for Naracoorte owner-trainer Greg Scholfield but all eyes  eyes were on Yankee C J (Lang) and The Big Show (McMullen) to see who would be first to cross the finish line. Lang looked to have his 5th Horsham title in the bag, until Yankee C J  ducked in badly when the plugs were pulled allowing McMullen and The Big Show to pass them by. It was McMullens second time as a competitor in the “Noel Smith Memorial” - in the three race series of 2010 he notched up a trio of fourth placings to finish in third position behind the NSW winner Jim Douglass. While the glory went to Pete McMullen there were a host of winners on the day, thanks to the generosity of  Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Pryde’s Easifeed, Finn Tack, Hyland Racing Colours, Zilco, Bertocchi Smallgoods, Oringi Protection Wear, Mustad Australia, Fly Veils by Design, GrafxInc., Roma Pocock, Harness Breeders Victoria, Tabcorp Park Melton, Victorian Trainers & Drivers Association, Albenz Park, Claire Weston Photography and Riverspa Apartments Moama. Hoofnote: Western Australian horseman Ryan Warwick who was a last minute withdrawal from the 2017 Horsham Invitation, had one of those days it’s best to forget. Warrick took the dreaded wooden spoon back to Western Australia after his first drive galloped wildly in the scoreup, finished near the tail with a couple of roughies in the second and third rounds, then had to pull out of the contest with broken gear on his best chance of the day. Anthony Logan

The Horsham Harness Racing Club today revealed the star studded line up set to contest the 28th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday March 12th. The ten confirmed invitees for the 2018 edition are Kerryn Manning (Vic), Ryan Warwick (WA), Chris Alford (Vic), Chris Geary (NSW) Greg Sugars (Vic), Ryan Hyrhorec (SA), Kate Gath (Vic), Gareth Rattray (Tas), Gavin Lang (Vic) and Peter McMullen (QLD). "It is another wonderful field," said Horsham Club CEO Jo Cross. "We will have five top Victorians including last year's champion Chris Alford here to take on drivers from all corners of Australia," she added. Chris Alford - 2017 Decron Horsham Champion Merv Butterworth of Decron Horse Care said the company was proud to continue its long time association with the Horsham Club's unique event. "All the drivers hold this contest in very high regard," he said. "That they so readily take up the opportunity to compete and are prepared to give up their time to travel from far and wide speaks volumes for its status." The Club and Butterworth also announced today that the Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship would continue into the year 2020 under the umbrella of Decron Horse Care. "Our partnership of the past seven years is now formally extended to ten," said Cross. "It gives us the opportunity to work with Decron and promote both the Drivers Championship and the race day itself, which recognises the contribution of all our industry participants." Drivers will compete in four, penalty free, $7000 races at Horsham with the winner on points to join the elite Noel Smith Memorial Honour Roll and collect a $1500 Travel Insights Melbourne or Melton Saddlery credit voucher. The ten competitors will each receive a Decron Horse Care show bag containing a Decron Leg Wrap Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Kit, Decron Osmotic Poultice Gel and promotional merchandise items. And of course there's the traditional sting in the tail that every competitor hopes to avoid - the dreaded, Gary Chequer commemorative wooden spoon which was "won" last year by Todd McCarthy (NSW). Nominations for the Labour Day Monday holiday meeting close with HRV at noon on Wednesday March 8th. Further information is available from Tony Logan on 0427 857411.   Anthony Logan

Horsham and District Harness Racing Club celebrated a successful year at Horsham Golf Club on Friday night.  The annual dinner was accompanied by a presentation night, with Tony Logan as the emcee and club president Justin Lane presenting the awards.  Harness Racing Victoria chief executive David Martin – formerly of Murtoa – was the event’s guest speaker. Mr Lane said the club had a busy and pleasing year. “From a racing point of view it was very successful,” he said.  “On the night we highlighted a lot of initiatives we had put in place throughout the season.”  Mr Lane said one of those initiatives included an owners’ precinct.  “On Horsham Cup day, the owners had their own area where they would be entertained by the club and it was exclusive to them,” he said.  “We also replaced all of the surface on the track.  “Another highlight when we hosted a come and try information day for the Horsham Pony Club.  “Kids came along and geared up for the trotter and pacer and had a tour of the track and facilities. They learnt what career paths you can take with us as well.”  Mr Lane said every race meeting was a successful one.  “I mentioned on the night we have shifted the month of the Horsham Cup to April, simply because we were finding it hard to draw crowds in January due to the weather,” he said.  “It didn’t matter how we marketed it, we struggled to get a crowd. Trainers were also reluctant to travel their horses in temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees, so we felt the fields were hurting because of it as well. “That is one of the things we are focused on going forward.” Mr Lane said the club has reduced the stake money of the Horsham Cup and has decided to distribute the money across all fields.  “It will be spread across all classes of horses,” he said.  At the presentation night, Terry Lewis was awarded the Matt Craven Trainer of the Year. Big Bruce was named Horse of the Year.  Barry Dunn was awarded the Local Trainer of the Year. Mr Lane said more than 50 people were in attendance. “It was a great night to celebrate the season and to thank all the paid staff and volunteers for their efforts through the year,” he said.  The Horsham and District Harness Club has been nominated for Harness Racing Victoria’s Country Club of the Year award. The winner will be announced in Melbourne in two weeks. “It is an honour to just be nominated,” Mr Lane said.  “I think the nomination shows we have had a pretty big year on and off the track.”  The story Club celebrates busy year first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times. By Elijah Macchia Reprinted with permission of The Ararat Advertiser  

The Horsham & District Harness Racing Club in conjunction with naming rights sponsor of the 2018 Horsham Trotters Club, Woodlands Stud NZ, have today launched their 2017/18 trotting stallion service tender. As part of the Cup sponsorship agreement, Woodlands has made available a service to their proven strike rate stallion, Pegasus Spur CA 1:54.0 $US 1,302,599.   Horsham's tender opportunity gives breeders of the squaregaiter a chance to send their broodmare to a quality entire at a discounted price. Interested breeders are invited to submit their tender on the official form, for the service (imported, fresh, chilled semen) to Pegasus Spur (value $AU3300) by Friday September 8th, 2017. For a copy of the tender form, please email the Club at or text/phone Tony Logan on 0427 857411.      

As he headed out for Monday's final drivers invitational race behind The Sparrow Hawk, who is trained by his neighbour Brent Lilley at Bolinda, Chris Alford looked steeled and determined. The champion reinsman always takes pride in his performance and rates every race as important for the owners and trainers who entrust him with their horses. But on this day he's also right in the mix to take out his third Decron Horse Care Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship. After winning the first heat with Artful Christian for Terang trainer Chris Svanosio, Alford drove 60/1 outsider Farastheeyecansee for Adelaide trainer Toby Ryan in the second heat and managed to beat only one other runner home. Fourth in heat four three Turning Express for Mt Gambier trainer David Drury earned Alford valuable points and a great chance of taking out the title. With co-leader Kerryn Manning piloting a 100/1 chance in the final heat she was virtually out of the contest, but arch-rival Gavin Lang was still alive after victory with Cruz for Werribee trainer Jeff Tarbone in the third heat. On paper it looked a match race between a couple of hardened veterans - Alford with 35,000 career drives under the belt and approaching 6000 winners and Lang with some 30,200 drives and also in sight of the magical 6000 mark. The final event of the day resulted in the best finish of the day with a bunch of seven runners at the wire spread over just three metres of the track. The judge called for the photo and announced that Alford and The Sparrow Hawk had been pipped on the post by Greg Sugars and Blazedale for Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart.  Lang wasn't far away in 5th place aboard a somewhat unlucky Jilliby Shania and Manning tailed the field home, and so it was Alford who claimed the Noel Smith Memorial Shield. Alford also had the honour of handing over the commemorative Wooden Spoon, which he collected in 2016, to first-time NSW visitor Todd McCarthy. Perhaps a good omen for McCarthy for next year's staging. Tony Logan

It's Hot To Trot @ Horsham on Monday afternoon for the 27th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship & the harness racing Industry Participants Recognition Raceday. Ten of Australasia's best are set to weave their magic with the reins in a four race contest, with the leading points scorer joining the Club's elite honour roll. Reining champion Ricky Duggan returns to defend his 2016 Crown. Duggan also enjoyed a great 2015/16 season home in the Apple Isle, finishing second to Mark Yole on the State tally board and with a fine winning strike rate of 21%. Honorary "BigV" Anthony Butt will compete at Horsham for the first time after finishing in 4th place on the 2015/16 Metropolitan Drivers Premiership table. The highly decorated Kiwi horseman started driving in 1983 and quickly made his mark as the NZ Junior Champion in both 1985 & 1988. Butt is just one of nine drivers inducted into the Inter Dominion Hall of Fame and is a four time, Inter Dominion Championship winning driver with Lyell Creek (2000), Take A Moment (2001 & 2003) and Mr Feelgood in 2009. His mighty tally of 49 Grand Circuit driving victories is miles ahead of the rest with Mark Purdon second on 27 and he is currently edging towards his 2000th career winner (1609 NZ, 381 AU). Leading Kiwi reinsman Blair Orange and last season's NSW premier driver Todd McCarthy are also headed to Horsham for the first time. Orange started driving in 1996 and by 1999 was NZ Champion Junior Driver. He's driven a century plus tally in 2014, 15 & 16 to be three times runner up behind Dexter Dunn and has already passed the century mark this season. While the Invitees may hold the spotlight, the meeting also recognises the contribution made by all our Industry Participants with $$$$ galore in products, goods, services & merchandise distributed to trainers, drivers and owners during the afternoon. Decron Horse Care, Carbine Chemicals, Finn Tack, Pryde's Easifeed, Bertocchi Smallgoods, Cordina Farms, Flair Equine Nasal Strips, Oringi Protection Wear, Hyland Racing Colours, Fly Veils By Design, Harness Breeders Victoria, Grafx Inc, Western District Horse Transport, Mustad Australia & Roma Pocock have thrown their support behind the meeting to ensure that everyone's a winner. Trainers, drivers, stablehands, owners & breeders will enjoy a designated hospitality area sponsored by the Victorian Trainers & Drivers Association. The Club will throw the gates open at 1.00pm with FREE entry for all to encourage families to pack their picnic basket, esky, blanket & chair and lounge on the lawns to enjoy a great day's racing. Racegoers & participants also have the chance to win a short break courtesy of View Hotels St Kilda Rd, Raglan Motor Inn Warrnambool, Tabcorp Park - Choice Hotels Melton & Deluxe Riverspa Moama. Tony Logan    

The Trots Country Cups Championship has a new harness racing frontrunner after Major Secret added the Horsham Crown to his Geelong cup win with a rollicking romp on Sunday. A dominant performance from the lead saw the six-year-old Art Major entire spring to the top of the $25,000 country cups championship, having amassed nine points after nine of the 25 cups. The championship gifts four points to a win, two to second and one to third, with Major Secret holding a three-point lead over stablemate Young Modern and Hectorjayjay, who could reclaim the ascendancy in Saturday night’s Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup. For now the sun shines on Stewart’s camp after Major Secret and Young Modern ran the quinella in Sunday’s Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup. “They are both going terrific, I couldn’t ask for more,” Stewart said. “Major Secret has always been a good horse but has had leg problems, which he has overcome now. We are still testing the waters with Young Modern, but he is getting better and better.” Driver Mark Pitt found the lead from gate two and controlled the 2700m Group 2, with Ideal Success, Tee Cee Bee Macray and then Young Modern shuffling through the breeze seat but with none putting pressure on the leader. “He had the draw over the better horses in the race and once he found the front he was always going to be hard to beat,” Pitt said. “I was able to control it. Once he found the front I wanted to back off a bit, but he was wanting to roll along at his own pace and is a very strong horse." After a 78.4-second lead time Major Secret produced moderate 29.2 first and 30.8 second quarters, which would ensure he’d have plenty in the tank for the final surge. “Once the second quarter was over 30 (seconds) he was always going to be really hard to beat,” Pitt said. A 28.2 third quarter preceded a 27.5 final 400m dash that would see Major Secret unchallenged for the win, stopping the clock in a 1:55.7 track record mile rate some 8m clear of Young Modern and 9m clear of third-placed Ideal Success. “He was really strong to the line and will only benefit from that run,” Pitt said. “He has improved with every start, which is no surprise. I’m sure he’ll take the next step.” Major Secret, a winner of 20 of his 45 starts, won a Vicbred Super Series Group 1 as a two-year-old and New South Wales Oaks as a three-year-old, and will attempt to reunite with Group 1 glory in this year’s Summer Of Glory. Both Young Modern and Major Secret have been geared towards the January 28 Eynesbury Victoria Cup and/or February 4 Del-Re National Hunter Cup. “They just have to get the barrier draw against the better horses, but they are definitely in it,” Stewart said. “Major Secret is a proven Group performer and if Young Modern gets the right draw he will come into it.” It presents an exciting opportunity for Pitt. “(Major Secret’s) nominated for the Victoria and Hunter cups, and at the bigger cups like Ballarat he wouldn’t be out of place,” he said. “I’m sure he will be competitive. If he gets a good draw and has a good run he won’t be too far away.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Veteran McKenzie Creek (Horsham District) harness racing horseman Ken Exell passed away peacefully last week. Ken's time in harness spanned more than 60 years. He drove his first winner under the lights at the Horsham Showgrounds in February 1954, with his father Arthur's pacer, Just Andy. The Exell family lived in the Goroke district at Karnak and campaigned their small team throughout the Wimmera and Western District. They enjoyed success with Captain Flare, Flash Durenda and General Flare in what is now regarded as the halcyon era of "the trots." Ken won Horsham Trainer of the Year Awards in both 1965 and 1970 - a period somewhat dominated by the legendary Hughie Jardine. In all Exell drove 26 winners on the tight showground circuit, a tally shared with his friendly rivals Graeme Lang, Trevor Martin and the late Stan Anyon. In later years when the family moved closer to Horsham, Ken also trained thoroughbreds and acted as a barrier attendant for both the Horsham Racing & Harness Racing Clubs. In more recent times the quietly spoken Exell gained enormous satisfaction with the trotter Allawart Ugo which debuted as a 6yo gelding at Charlton in January 2012. Under the patient trainer's guidance, "Ugo" slowly learned to be a racehorse. After ten starts the trotter recorded four consecutive minor placings then scored a well deserved home track victory in the Moore Bulk Haulage Trotters Handicap on July 2012. Exell's one horse team earned the Horsham Horse of the Year Award in 2013 and also gave his proud owner, consecutive Local Trainer Strike Rate Awards. Six of Allawart Ugo's eight career victories came on the spacious Horsham circuit and the trotter was to be Ken's final runner when unplaced at Mt Gambier recently. Our sincere sympathies are extended to the Exell family. Anthony Logan  

Breeders are reminded that bids for the Horsham Harness Racing Club’s trotting tender close with the Club on Friday September 30th. The tender is for a service to the Woodlands Stud NZ stallion Pegasus Spur CA and represents a great opportunity for the lovers of the trotting gait to breed yet another Group 1 winner from this outstanding strike-rate entire. Interested breeders are invited to tender for a service (imported, fresh, chilled semen) to Pegasus Spur (value $AU3300). Tender forms and further information may be obtained by email from  or by phone on 0427 857411.  Tony Logan

The Horsham & District Harness Racing Club is conducting its annual, trotting stallion service tender in conjunction with sponsor Woodlands Stud NZ. Interested Australian breeders are invited to tender for a service (imported, fresh, chilled semen) to Pegasus Spur (value $AU3300) It represents a great opportunity for the lovers of the trotting gait to breed another Group 1 winner from this outstanding strike-rate entire. Pegasus Spur CA is the sire of this year's 3YO Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Champion Wilmas Mate, along with the sensational Victoria Trotting Derby, Breeders Crown & Great Southern Star winner Speeding Spur and high quality trotters such as Maori Time, Paramount Gee Gee, and Flying Isa. Further information regarding Pegasus Spur may be obtained at For a copy of the tender form, please email or text/phone Tony Logan on 0427 857 411.      

Time-honoured three-year-old features the Morley Park Princess of the Wimmera and Alabar Horsham Guineas will be run and won at Horsham Harness Racing Club tomorrow. Terang trained filly Jilliby Jitterbug looks the likely favourite in the $8075 Morley Park Princess of the Wimmera, a chance to add to her six wins from 15 starts and bank of $208,110. Marg Lee's Rock N Roll Heaven filly looks extremely well graded and heads to Horsham after three sound performances in last month's Breeders Challenge at Menangle. Jilliby Jitterbug has plenty of early toe and while her record over the short trip is outstanding, the 2200m at Horsham may well prove to be her Achilles heel with a bunch of talented rivals to contend with. Horsham owners Robbie Connelly and Shannon Hoffman both have great chances of a  hometown victory with the much improved, Rod Carberry-trained filly Bou Chard and beautifully bred New Zealander Champagne Taste from Brad Hunt's stable. Both fillies contested the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series and were far from disgraced in that prestigious affair. Bou Chard scored an impressive victory at Tabcorp Park Melton in the $25,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Silver Pace while Champagne Taste has since led all the way for a tradesmanlike win at Stawell on July 20. Burrumbeet horseman Michael Stanley returns to Horsham with the smart filly Alessa, hoping for a repeat result of his victory with Soho Berlin in the 2015 Princess Of The Wimmera. Alessa performed admirably through the Vicbred Super Series, having proven she could do it tough when sixth in the series final, beaten just 12m by Rocknroll Magic (in a 1:56.9 mile rate) after doing plenty of work. She tuned up for tomorrow’s assignment with an effortless 18m victory at Maryborough last week. Studmaster Stephen O’Donoghue will present a free service to Morley Park’s colonial bred entire Major Bronski, in addition to an inscribed rug and trophies, for the winning owner, trainer and driver. Major Bronski served 93 mares in his first commercial season at Morley Park and the impressive son of Art Major has really left his stamp through his progeny. The Alabar Horsham Guineas lineup also contains a host of winning chances headed by trainer Dean Braun's New Zealand import Stuover. The bay has impressed in all three starts since crossing the Tasman, notching up two victories at Cranbourne before taking on a classy bunch at Melton in the $20,500 VHRSC’s The Graduate. The gelded son of Changeover NZ finished second that night, beaten just a neck by Spiritwriter in a performance that served notice of a bright future.   Driver Greg Sugars is looking for back-to-back victories in the Alabar Horsham Guineas, having saluted last year with the Tim Bolitho-trained gelding Rule Of Thumb, and is certain to make the most of Stuover’s ideal draw in gate two. However, the in-form combo won’t get things their own way, with Franco Jameson, Willem, Truth And Courage, Livingston Bay and Longtan Cassanova all having the form and ability to take out the race. Former Kiwi pacer Franco Jameson finished close behind Stuover at Cranbourne on July 19 and was an easy winner just five days later at Swan Hill for trainer Adam Kelly and driver Michael Bellman.   Willem is the least experienced runner in the Guineas with just three starts under the belt, but the Shepparton trained son of Lombo Pocket Watch impressed plenty when scoring at Cobram and then finishing a close fourth behind Ideal Eagle at Charlton. Alabar Bloodstock is a longtime sponsor of the Horsham Guineas and its representative Brett Coffey will present a free service to Alabar’s outstanding Group 1 winning son of Christian Cullen, Alta Christiano, to the winning connections, together with an inscribed rug and trophies for the victorious owner, trainer and driver. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Horsham, Wednesday 03 August 2016 Form guide for Horsham, Wednesday 03 August 2016

Harness racing driver Ricky Duggan proved the pride of Tassie at Horsham on Monday in the annual Noel Smith Memorial Drivers Invitation Championship.   Duggan drove two winners in the four-race series to capture 30 points and the title, three points ahead of runner-up Robert Morris (New South Wales) on 27, with Greg Sugars third on 25. "It was a really good day. It's great to catch up with all those guys and drive against them," Duggan said. "I know Gavin and Chris pretty well. My son Josh works with Chris and loves it there. They're fantastic people. "The Horsham club also does a great job on the day. To get a driver from every state and New Zealand is a real credit to them." Duggan drove Hit Maka and Glenferrie Bunter to victory, both talented four-year-olds trained by Ryan Hryhorec. Final points tally for the 2016 Noel Smith Memorial invitation Drivers Championship Ricky Duggan (Tasmania) 30 Robert Morris (New South Wales) 27 Greg Sugars (Victoria) 25 Chris Alford (Victoria) 24 Nathan Jack (Victoria) 24 Ricky May (New Zealand) 23 Chris Voak (Western Australia) 21 Gavin Lang (Victoria) 21 Shane Graham (Queensland) 19   Ryan Hyrhorec 14points & the Gary Chequer Commemorative Wooden Spoon by Cody Winnell

Charlton’s showcase race could give a trotting family an unforgettable win with an old harness racing favourite. National Service has returned from the brink of retirement to flash home and win in his last two starts, giving his Horsham owners the confidence to steer it to Sunday’s Charlton and District Community Bank 2016 Charlton Pacing Cup. WATCH NATIONAL SERVICE FLASH HOME TO WIN AT SWAN HILL Justin Lane shares ownership of National Service with wife Jo and parents Kevin and Lesley, who have been there from the start having bred and raised the horse. It was with a heavy heart that they contemplated retirement about this time last year for the then nine-year-old after National Service tore his hind suspensory. “Being the age that he is we intended to retire him,” Justin said. “But dad said jog him up and give him one more go, because you are a long time retired.” Lane oversaw a patient recovery of jogging and resting before he returned National Service on January 16 in the Shepparton BMW Pace, where he loomed up to the leaders from three wide only to tire in the straight and finish 17m last. The fade didn’t deter the loyal owners and they returned the gelding to Grant Campbell and Kerryn Manning’s stable, where he again showed plenty of cheek. “He is a bit of a funny horse, not many at the stable at Kerryn and Grant’s get along with him all that well, he has a few quirky habits, but it’s good to see him come back.” Justin, president at Horsham Harness Racing Club, has a particularly close affinity with National Service, winner of the 2014 Hamilton Pacing Cup. Not only did he breed the horse, but he trained it to nine wins from its debut in December 2008 until December 2012 before handing the reins to Campbell and Manning to “see how they can improve him and get the best out of him”. Though age 10 and off a lengthy lay-off the best may yet be to come for the gelding out of Legacy Of Power and Muckinbar Miss given his last start performance at Swan Hill. “He’s had three runs back after 12 months off and his last two races have been very good, particularly at Swan Hill where he shouldn’t have won from where he was,” Justin said. On that occasion National Service came from five-wide and well back to mow down the leaders at Swan Hill, which featured a 27.1 final quarter. National Service’s last 400m was likely not much more than 26 seconds despite curling wide. That has boosted confidence in the camp ahead of Charlton. “He’s been good at the country cups in the past and, going on those two runs, we thought we’d give him a shot at another cup," Lane said. "The Swan Hill sectionals were scintillating. With the right run he’s as good as any other horse in the field. “It will be up to Grant, but we won’t be planning anything too silly on the day. He will drive him for a bit of luck. It’s a bit of a buzz to have a horse good enough to run in any cup.” And the family fun will continue on the race day, with National Service’s half-brother Polar Opposite, trained by Lane, to run in race three. “He’s had three wins and a place from his last five starts, so there are promising signs.” Charlton Pacing Cup Honour Roll 1982    $2,000    Brahms Lullaby (Rex Kerr) FT    2250m    SS    2:07.1     1983    $3,000    Bank Buster (Daryl Nioa) 10m    2250m    SS    2:06.2     1988    $9,000    Scamp Racer (Gavin Lang) FT    2250m    SS    2:05.3     1989    $9,000    Tuned In (Ted Demmler) FT    2250m    SS    2:05.7     1990    $6,000    Rufus Young Blood (Dick Lee) FT    2240m    MS    2:01.6     1990    $6,000    Lord Greystoke (Joe Borg) 10m    2250m    SS    2:05.0     1991    $6,000    Franco Gold NZ (Jim O'Sullivan) FT    2240m    MS    2:07.0     1992    $3,500    Imprimartar (Neil McCallum) 30m    2250m    SS    2:04.5     1993    $4,500    Our Brenray (Jim O'Sullivan) FT    2240m    MS    2:01.5     1994    $5,000    Its Nero's Fiddle NZ (Stephen Dove) 10m    2680m    SS    2:06.0     1995    $6,000    Mister McKinzie (Gavin Lang) FT    2250m    MS    2:04.3     1996    $7,000    Coco's Dream NZ (Lou Austin) 30m    2680m    SS    2:04.7     1997    $10,000    Ryans Day NZ (Ahmed Taiba) FT    2680m    MS    2:03.6     1998    $10,000    Low Bronze (Julian Jobe) FT    2645m    MS    2:05.2     1999    $10,000    Rosco Robust (Graeme Morgan) FT    2645m    MS    2:03.5     2000    $12,000    Show Of Hands (John F Ryan) FT    2625m    MS    2:04.6     2001    $8,000    Loaded Hog NZ (Andrew Vozlic) FT    2625m    MS    2:02.3     2002    $8,000    Jilliby Magic (Kerryn Manning) 10m    2650m    SS    2:02.5     2003    $15,000    The Good Guy (Grant Campbell) FT    2650m    SS    2:02.6     2004    $15,000    Sir Romulus (Matthew Craven) 10m    2650m    SS    2:03.2     2005    $15,000    Cool Chip NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    SS    2:04.0     2006    $20,000    Poppys Boy (Stuart Govers) FT    2570m    SS    2:03.2     2007    $20,000    Blakey (John Justice) FT    2570m    SS    2:02.2     2008    $20,000    Road To Rainbow (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    SS    2:02.1     2009    $20,000    Ohoka Utah NZ (Lance Justice) FT    2570m    SS    2:03.9     2010    $25,000    Just Wal (Damian Wilson) FT    2570m    SS    2:01.0     2011    $25,000    Our Hillview Gold NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT    2570m    MS    2:01.5     2012    $25,000    Abettorpunt (Caleb Lewis) FT    2570m    MS    1:59.8     2013    $25,000    Uncle Wingnut NZ (Michael Bellman) FT    2570m    MS    1:59.8     2014    $25,000    Five Star Anvil NZ (Gavin Lang) FT    2570m    MS    2:00.7     2015    $25,505    Barynya (John Caldow) FT    2570m    MS    1:56.5 Michael Howard

Harness racing in the Wimmera will receive an enormous boost thanks to a $470,000 track upgrade funded by the Andrews State Government, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and the Horsham and District Harness Racing Club. Minister for Racing Martin Pakula joined Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Ken Latta at the club on Monday to kick off the major upgrade, which will see a sprint lane introduced, increased camber around the turns to reduce the risk of leg injuries to horses, and a track resurface with finer grade materials for improved cushioning underfoot for the horses. HRV CEO John Anderson acknowledged the State Government funding for the upgrade and said the Horsham club would benefit greatly. “Harness racing at Horsham will be safer for the horses and better for the punters thanks to the upgrade, which includes the addition of a sprint lane,” Mr Anderson said. “The Horsham club and HRV would like to publicly acknowledge the important funding from the Andrews Labor Government courtesy of the Victorian Racing Industry Fund. “Improvements such as the track upgrade at Horsham are vital for not only the local areas, but also for the Victorian industry in general.” In announcing the funding Mr Pakula said on Monday: “Today represents the first step towards creating a cutting edge track for Horsham and helping secure the future of harness racing in the Wimmera for many years to come.” Mr Pakula added: “Not only will these upgrades bring the track in line with other top harness tracks in the state it also reflects our commitment to animal welfare by improving the track to help reduce risks of leg injuries.” Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs CEO David Brick said upgrades such as this ensured Victoria remained at the forefront of the national harness racing industry. “Our club network prides itself on the quality of racetracks produced to ensure safe, fair and fast racing,” Mr Brick said. “The Horsham upgrade, like Mildura before it, ensures that Victorian harness racing collectively offers the best harness racing in Australia. Harness Racing Victoria

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