Day At The Track
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Winning his first-ever country cup yesterday, junior reinsman James "Herbie" Herbertson showed the brilliance that stamps him one of Victorian harness racing's brightest young stars. The 20-year-old, based at Lexton, near Ballarat, teamed up with well-performed six-year-old gelding Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three) to win the 2019 $14,500 Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup. Showing a cool head and a touch of class to weave through tight traffic after despatch, Herbertson balanced Emain Macha up then made a race-winning move to ping him to the death-seat with 1000 metres to go. "He's a real nice horse that's for sure. I asked him to do a bit of work and then he responded on the home corner when I went for him," Herbertson said. "It's always a great day at St Arnaud, but getting my first country cup win there made it extra special," he said. Emain Macha showed plenty of grit to hold out the fast-finishing Rupert of Lincoln (Kerryn Manning) and Hashtag (Tayla French). The victory was another success for his astute Naracoorte-based trainer, Greg Scholefield, who continues to bob up with winners from just a small stable of runners. Scholefield, a builder by trade, has concentrated solely on horses for the past decade and races Emain Macha in partnership with Gail Davis, Peter Lamond, and father and son John and Sean Penny. Scholefield had his stable star back to his best after a short let-up and made use of Herbertson's junior claiming status to be eligible for the cup. "I've been to St Arnaud on three previous occasions-going back quite a few years ago-and was lucky enough to get two wins, while another runner cut himself and was a late scratching," Scholefield said. "Emain Macha went very well to win the cup and he's pulled up terrific. I got told the time was .9 of a second outside the race record so we're thrilled," he said. "James certainly deserves credit as he got him through to a lovely spot after starting on the outside of the back row. They had to work early, but the horse finished off well." Scholefield said he hadn't picked out where he would race next. "We'll sit down and look at suitable races, but it will most likely be at Melton because with the national ratings system he will be high up with points and it's hard to place him," he said. Emain Macha has now won 28 races with 12 placings from 48 starts. He has earnt more than $230,000 in stakemoney. The win continues a satisfying run for Herbertson who has now landed winners at three different tracks in the past three days. He got the money with Im Shadow Boxer at Bendigo on Friday night for his father Ashleigh, and then followed up the next night at Melton with a longshot double-Jodan (33/1) for the Tindall camp, and Are Doubleyou (25/1) for Kevin Wheatley. He continues a rapid rise in the sport. This season, just his fourth, is shaping well with 27 wins and 49 placings to date. This follows his record-breaking 2018-19 term when he drove more than 100 winners for the first time. "I copped a two-week suspension a while ago which put a dent in things, but the season is going along nicely with a fair few trainers giving me race opportunities," Herbertson said. The St Arnaud club was again thrilled with the success of its annual Cup meeting - with a big crowd enjoying perfect weather and great racing at the picturesque Northern Victorian track. https://www.facebook.com/StArnaudTrots/videos/970013270029256/ The other feature event on the program, the St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup was taken out by the in-form Chris Svanosio, who trained and drove Kyvalley Finn.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Shaun McNaulty fondly remembers sneaking out of school to get to St Arnaud's track and take in the trots and will return to the scene on Sunday for a "dream" tilt at the BSL/St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup. The 27-year-old Marong trainer, who grew up just a stone’s throw from St Arnaud at Logan, has fond memories of the track at which he was first exposed to the sport. “I remember wagging school one day, at the last ever meet (before the track closed for a while),” he said. “Me and my best mate wagged school so we could go watch it. We blamed the school for not being able to go to the trots. We got in trouble too. They knew we should have been in school.” McNaulty spent his early years in the industry at St Arnaud, acting as a board member for the club on his way to becoming a valued stablehand for some of the industry’s top trainers. In February he started his own stable, believing the time right to go out on his own. “I had worked for a couple of stables (including All Stars’ Mark Purdon) and I just thought if I’m going to be working I might as well be working for myself and putting in the hours into my own horses,” he said. “I sort of had three or four horses and I wasn’t spending time on them. I thought here’s my chance. I might as well go out on my own and have a crack.” He admitted running his own stable had been “bloody tough” but hoped it could all come together at the place it began on Sunday when Fratellino lines up in the BSL/St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup. “It would be a dream come true to win the cup, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s been my aim for the last 12 months.” McNaulty hoped to put a disappointing seventh in the Swan Hill Trotters Cup, of which he said he had worked the gelding too hard, behind him and outstay “a very even field”. “I think he’s chance (to win) but I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t run top three,” he said. McNaulty’s other starter, Rift Valley, had been scratched due to a “couple of little issues”, he said. He also hoped the return of St Arnaud’s Fabian Bigmore - in his first drive since March 19, 2005 - could give Fratellino the hometown edge.    “It would be great to see him get the chocolates.” McNaulty said a family connection to Bigmore’s grandfather, St Arnaud trainer Frank Evans, had prompted a call to the former driver, who only regained his licence this week. “When I was in St Arnaud I had a bit to do with Frank. We had our horses at his place and he taught me a lot. (Fabian) is the grandson of Frank, so I thought I reckon Frank will enjoy seeing him driving in the St Arnaud cup. “I rang him a week or so ago about the possibility and he said ‘if my licence comes through’. Thankfully it did, so we put him on.” It will be the first time Fratellino has contested a leg of this year’s $10,000 Maori’s Idol Trophy Series, which is led by Father Christmas and King Denny who scored maximum points when saluting at Kilmore and Swan Hill respectively. King Denny will start off 10m in Sunday’s cup and have a chance to not only take a significant stranglehold on the trotting championship but strengthen his hold on a starting place in December’s Inter Dominion. He is presently ranked 25th, having jumped from 68th place courtesy of a Swan Hill win. The $25,000 Trots Country Cups Pacing Championship is headed by San Carlo (10 points), Im The Boss (10 points) and Menin Gate (five points). None feature in Sunday’s Weir’s Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup but it bodes as a very competitive race, headlined by Kerryn Manning’s Motu Meteor and Kima Frenning’s New Zealand newcomer Buster Brady, who book end the field in gates 11 and one respectively. There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities on the day, with children able to enter for free and enjoy farm yard animals, a balloon sculptor, face painting and Pat Your HERO. More details: http://www.trotscountry.com.au/meeting/st-arnaud/   Mark Smith Trots Media

Former Kiwi pacer Stroke Of Luck is the Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup champ for 2017 after an all-the-way win in today’s harness racing feature for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old son of Major In Art/Bonton Lady was heavily backed into $1.6 and held off second-placegetter Keep On Rocking at the completion of the 2150-metre race, with Coldplay Road up from three-back-the-pegs for third. Manning rated the Merv and Meg Butterworth-owned winner of seven races in New Zealand a treat, guiding him through a 62.3secs first half after copping some early heat to hold the front. Stroke Of Luck upped the ante down the back straight as Spiritwriter challenged strongly (28.7secs third quarter) and got home in 27.9secs to rate 1:58.3. Keep On Rocking was given the perfect trip by Nathan Jack and the Geoff Webster-trained five-year-old comfortably held second place, while Julie Mifsud-trained Coldplay Road continued his super form with a third placing for reinsman Phillip Walters. Animated finished fourth and Spiritwriter was fifth. Stroke Of Luck’s win means the Trots Country Championship is now a five-way tie with Lennytheshark, San Carlo, Messini and My Field Marshal all alongside today’s victor on four points in the race for the $25,000 end-of-season bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Pocket rocket secures Caldows third St Arnaud Trotters Cup John Caldow won his third St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup today aboard six-year-old gelding My Skypocket. Backed into $1.80 favourite, My Skypocket stepped safely from behind the tapes at the 2520-metre start before powering to the lead early. The son of Skyvalley out of Pocket Fantasy ran quarters of 31.6 and 31.4 to open the last mile on the 800m St Arnaud track and Caldow was looking around for his challengers after a 29.2secs third split. Video: Re-live My Skypocket's St Arnaud Trotters Cup win Ainthatrightmacca boldly emerged wide out and powered into second place, but My Skypocket had plenty in reserve and kicked on through a 29.7secs last quarter for a 2.2m win in a mile rate of 2:06.0.   It was My Skypocket’s eighth career triumph, his career stake earnings edging towards $50,000 as a result of the victory. It was also the trotter’s first start for the Caldow operation, having done all his prior racing for the Mick Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy stable. Today’s win was the third time Maree and John Caldow have captured the St Arnaud squaregaiting feature, having previously won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with Posimistic. My Skypocket moves to equal first on the Maori's Idol Points Tally alongside Sparkling Success, Vincennes and Cyclone Lucky Seven. The Maori's Idol Points Tally at season's end receives a $10,000 bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

St Arnaud’s annual cup meeting will be run on Sunday, March 5, after Harness Racing Victoria (HRV), the Swan Hill club and St Arnaud successfully negotiated the date swap. Swan Hill was initially down to race that Sunday but its committee agreed to move to an earlier date, freeing up the March 5 timeslot for St Arnaud, whose cup program was washed out at the weekend. “It’s a great result,” St Arnaud secretary Kaye Boyd said. “We are very keen to have another go. I’m calling it Take 2! Everybody around town is asking about it. I’ve had umpteen people asking whether we’re getting another go, so I’m really pleased we are.” Ms Boyd said the community was “100 per cent” behind St Arnaud’s cup meeting and she expects a big crowd will be on hand come March 5. The disappointment of losing Sunday’s meeting following an overnight downpour of rain was obvious on the faces of the club’s hard-working committee and volunteers, Ms Boyd said. “I wasn’t the only one disappointed. You could see it on everybody’s face when we all went out for a meal on the Sunday night. But these things happen and we’re very thankful to all those who helped us get that second chance, especially HRV and the Swan Hill Club for allowing us that date.” HRV Interim General Manager of Operations Shane Gloury said he was pleased St Arnaud was able to have another crack at running a successful cup day. “The whole team at St Arnaud put a lot of effort into promoting and organising cup day and it really was bad luck that they weren’t able to race,” Mr Gloury said. “I must thank the Swan Hill Club for working proactively with HRV to ensure this date was available. Our clubs are always only too willing to help each other in these circumstances and we hope the whole community gets behind St Arnaud in March.” Mr Gloury also reiterated HRV’s commitment to pay to pay all drivers’ fees from Sunday and make a ‘meeting abandonment payment’ to each trainer who had a runner engaged. “Trainers and drivers work hard and to lose their earning opportunity due to the weather is horrible luck. We feel it is the right thing to do to compensate our participants in these circumstances.” Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Harness Racing Victoria

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