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Energetic Mildura equine dentist and harness racing trainer Kate Attard is facing months of rehabilitation after a seemingly-innocuous post-race scramble at her home track at Thursday night’s meeting. The skilled horsewoman trains a team of around 10 horses with her father Pat and her teenage daughter Charli at Cardross, near Mildura, and jumps in the race-sulky only rarely these days. But under the COVID-19 regional racing protocols, which prevents drivers from elsewhere in the State travelling to Mildura meetings, Kate elected to get back in the spider. Her horse in the second race, Heza Western, went across the line sixth, but a number of runners spread across the track tightened after the line, and Kate tumbled from the cart. “I was excited to be back driving last night and was just getting back in the swing of it in race two!” Kate laughed. “All I remember is going across the line, then another horse coming at me sideways – I pulled back and across to avoid it and thought I did. But its legs hit my cart and just flipped it fast,” she said. “I hit the ground so hard and then log rolled over and over again. I was awake the whole time. It was hurting, but I didn’t think it was that bad.” Kate suffered three fractures and multiple hairline fractures to her pelvis and injuries to her spine in the incident, which happened in front of the float parking area, and help was on the scene immediately. “(Trainer) Luke Watson was right where I fell – he was the first one there telling me to stay still and that I would be OK, then Charli and Dad and all the track guys and another trainer Andrew Stenhouse were all there,” Kate said. “I thought I was OK, and tried to get up – I even took a few steps!  I really didn’t want to go to the hospital! When they did take me in the ambulance, I really thought it would just be bruising and I didn’t even take my phone with me!” Kate was flown to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne later in the night, where the surgeons from the trauma team are still deciding on her treatment plan, including surgery probably later today. “It’s probably going to be five months before I will be back on my feet again, and it’s hard to think that my hospital stay will be mostly without too many visitors, because of the COVID-19 restrictions,” Kate said. “I’m lucky to have an amazing family and my partner Matt to support me and help me, because I’ll be needing it for a while!” she said. “I also have some lovely owners and they are letting us keep the horses going, which hopefully Dad and Charli will be able to do.” Kate Attard and her daughter Charli Heza Western suffered only a minor cut to the leg in the scrimmage. Kate is known across a wide area of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria for her passionate practice in equine bodywork and dentistry, as well as through her training.  “I’ve had so many messages of support and care – everyone has been amazing, including the HRV Stewards Wayne Smith and Nick Murray, HRV and Michelle McGinty from Mildura Harness Racing Club,” she said. “I’ll be OK, I always pull through and will be back doing the horses and the work I love as soon as I can,” she said. Which, knowing Kate, will be sooner, rather than later! Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Astute Victorian trainer David Miles has sounded an ominous warning with his rising star pacer, Focus Stride. Although the pacer took 12 starts to break through for his first win, he hasn't been beaten since. And Sky Channel host and part-time harness racing driver Brittany Graham was quick to wryly observe, a worthy advertisement for the ultimate gear-change - being gelded! Focus Stride (Art Major-Sparkling Stride (Christian Cullen) turned 25/1 giant-killer at last weekend's rich Bathurst Gold Carnival, sitting in the "death seat" and eventually overpowering odds-on favorite Perfect Stride in the $100,000 G1 Colts and Geldings Gold Chalice Final. But Miles believes there's still more depth to his latest star. "He's still got a tendency to want to runabout about a bit-I reckon there might be more improvement in him when I straighten him up," Miles said. "Without doubt one of our best decisions was to have him gelded. He's won six out of seven races since we did, and while he wasn't out of control or anything like that, he was little bit boyish and just wouldn't listen. "He used to make a lot of mistakes in his races last season as a two-year-old, and they cost him dearly a few times." The maturing three-year-old Focus Stride pulled out plenty in the shadows of the post to grab a narrow and upset win. Miles has a team of 25 in work at Monegeetta, near Victoria's famous natural landmark the Macedon Ranges. He's enjoying a successful season with 24 wins and 40 placings, finishing in the top three in nearly 50 percent of his race starts. And while he is no stranger to winning the big ones with previous success in Crowns, APGs, Derbies and Oaks, Miles admitted that, with Focus Stride, he'd taken on board the sage advice of legendary former gallops trainer the late and great Bart Cummings. "One of Bart's best quotes was: 'Keep yourself in the best company, and your horses in the worst'," Miles said. "So, I really did that. I aimed to bring Focus Stride quietly along through the country classes and the Gold Chalice was the first big one on the radar for him," he said. "He was super-great and I was just so proud of him. After racing in the breeze, he was still sticking to his guns on the home corner. Then when I pulled the earplugs, he really put his head down. "He was as brave as they come. It was a fantastic victory." Focus Stride is raced by enthusiastic Sydney owners Emilio and Mary Rosati who, ironically, also own the vanquished favorite in the Gold Chalice, Perfect Stride, a winner of eight races from 21 starts. Rosati, the driving force behind a highly successful construction company, divides his time between home in Sydney and overseeing massive building projects, mainly in Melbourne. He has been involved in harness racing for over 45 years. The couple owns hundreds of horses under the E and M Stride partnership. Nearly all of their horses carry the "Stride" moniker, after one of the first they raced in the 1970s named Stride High who won nine races. Focus Stride looks set to build on a successful association between Miles and the Rosatis. "The Rosatis are so passionate about the sport and I've previously won a couple of feature races for them with Emerald Stride," Miles said. "They love their horses to death, and they put more money into the sport than anyone else I know, so they certainly deserve all the success that comes their way."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Two drivers are recovering in hospital after a sickening fall in the main event at the Inverell harness racing meeting on Sunday afternoon. The field in the 2020 Inverell Cup had travelled only a short distance when the pole horse stumbled and fell, with the incident causing a chain reaction that brought down several other runners and completely disrupted the field. Reinswomen Elly Chapple and Sarah Rushbrook were seriously injured and were airlifted by helicopter to hospital. Both are reported to be in a stable condition with multiple fractures as well as other injuries. Fellow reinsman Brad Elder, of Maitland, who was also involved in the fall, but escaped unharmed, said it was alarming to see it all unraveling. "I was on the back row drawn beside Sarah. I saw her get catapulted out when the one in front of her went down. It looked like she was thrown about five metres up into the air," Elder said. "I fell out, but I was a bit lucky and didn't even get a mark. I got up and ran to the number one horse who was the first to go because it was still down on the track. I just sat on his head waiting to get help," he said. "His driver was okay. I think he landed on the horse beside him, which was being driven by Elly, who got caught up in it all. It was nasty. Let's just hope both the girls get better quickly." Elly Chapple Local ambulance paramedics stabilised the pair at the track before transporting them to Inverell airport where the Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter was waiting with a doctor on board. They were further treated by the Critical Care Medical team before flying to Lismore Base Hospital. Sarah Rushbrook's older sister Rebecca, posted yesterday afternoon that after being thrown from the sulky, Sarah went into the railing. "Her right femur is broken upper midway and she has a broken tailbone and a bunch of cracked ribs. She hit her head, but the helmet did its job," Rebecca's post said. "After surgery we'll know if the broken vertebra is pressing on her spine. If this is the case, Sarah will be transferred to the Gold Coast which will be awkward as she will be there on her own with the border closures. "She is in good spirits and already talking about when she can get back in the gig." Rebecca said one of the doctors who'd examined Sarah had English as a second language, referring to the sport as "chariot racing". "Watching how tough she is I think it's fair enough to call her a Gladiator!" Rebecca posted. Sarah Rushbrook Inverell Harness Racing Club shared a message on behalf of Julie and Dean Chapple, parents of Elly, expressing thanks to the community for the unbelievable support. "We received so much help on the track and later travelling to Lismore. Thanks goes out to the clerks of the course Dwayne Dixon and Col Mathers along with club secretary Kerry Miller-who is a nurse in her working life away from harness racing." Elly Chapple was still undergoing scans yesterday but is believed to have a broken elbow. All horses escaped serious injuries. The incident forced the final two races on the Inverell program to be abandoned. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Three Victorian harness racing trainer-drivers who travelled interstate to contest the prestigious Gold Series finals at Bathurst, NSW, have been the first caught up in changed Victorian quarantine arrangements, announced Sunday. The three were racing in the rich finals of the Bathurst Gold Crown juvenile race series but have subsequently been caught up in the ever-changing and necessary requirements for racing under COVID-19 restrictions. Permissions were granted by both NSW and Victorian authorities on Friday for David Miles, David Moran and David Farrar to travel to Bathurst to drive and race their qualifiers for the Group One Gold feature events for two and three-year-olds. It's believed the trio was advised on Saturday afternoon, after they had already got on the road, that a change in the interpretation of the requirements meant they would need to go into isolation after their return to Victoria. They were further told that they would be permitted to complete their NSW engagements, but on their return, they would be stood down for a period of 14 days and would not be permitted to enter any Victorian racetrack for that period. They initially thought their stables would be shut down for the same period, but they've now been advised they will be permitted to continue preparing their teams, but cannot attend any race track for a period of 14 days and must receive a medical certificate before resuming. The David Miles-trained Focus Stride (Art Major-Sparkling Stride (Christian Cullen) was a boilover winner in the $100,000 Colts and Geldings Gold Chalice Final for three-year-olds. Focus Stride, an impressive winner of the $100,000 Gold Chalice David Moran's Lochinvar Chief was beaten a head, finishing second to Tasty Delight (Bettors Delight-Gentle Audrey (Artsplace) in the $100,000 Group One Gold Crown Final for two year old colts and geldings; and Dave Farrar had made the journey north with The Kew Legend to contest the Gold Crown Consolation, finishing sixth. Although disappointed, the affected trainer-drivers are philosophical about their predicament. "If that's what it takes to do for us to continue racing, I'm more than happy with the decision," Miles said. David Miles after his Bathurst win HRV yesterday released a statement advising that licensees who fail to comply with the requirements face significant penalties, including disqualification. HRV Stewards advised all industry stakeholders, effective immediately: All Licensed persons whom have competed interstate must not attend race or trial meetings in Victoria for a period of 14 days from the date of competition, and must provide a medical clearance to HRV within that 14-day period; Trainers, who are subject to the above restriction, will not be permitted to present a horse to start in a race or trial during this 14-day period; All persons are advised that should they fail to comply with these requirements significant penalties, including periods of disqualification, may be imposed under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR). AHRR 238 states: A person shall not fail to comply with any order, direction or requirement of the Controlling Body or the Stewards relating to harness racing or to the harness racing industry.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Central Victorian community of Avenel is perhaps best known as the hometown of one of our most famous bush rangers - but the town's pin up boy of harness racing is also as "game as Ned Kelly". The town's famous bushranger terrorised country Victoria in the late 1800s, and the Avenel-based gelding Reactor Now (Auckland Reactor-Who's Sorry Now (Western Ideal) now seems to be following the same path, but with his eye on even greater deeds. Father-and-son combination David Aiken and his reinsman son Josh have produced the gelding for three eye-catching wins from four outings. At his most recent race start at Kilmore, the four-year-old sat parked outside the leader and then ran away from his rivals to win by 22 metres-setting a new track record along the way of 1.53-4. The time shaved .01 of a second off the previous best performance, set back in October of 2014, by former Scott Stewart-trained champion Bitobliss, a winner of 24 races and nearly $500k. Click here to watch the race. And at his two starts prior to venturing to Kilmore, Reactor Now set tongues wagging at Shepparton. On the first occasion he spread-eagled the field with a 33.3 metre win on February 27, following up with a more "sedate" 2.9 metre victory a fortnight later. Click here to watch the 27th February race. Click here to watch the 13th March race. Reactor Now has five wins from eight lifetime starts for earnings of $21,450. He's without doubt a magnificent looking horse destined for bigger things. He was fortuitously purchased after the APG Gold 2016 sale by Graeme and Liz Old, their nephew Frank and his wife Robyn, and their daughter Narelle Hall and husband Steve. The deal was sealed when the group decided to go looking at what had been passed in at the end of the day. Reactor Now was purchased with the input of Craig Wight, husband of well-known Great Western trainer-driver Michelle, who is a keen student on breeding, and Frank who prides himself on picking them on looks. The gelding made his debut in February of last year and after giving Wight's brother-in-law, reinsman Grant Campbell a tough time through being over excited, got around, albeit unplaced and 27 metres from the winner. Reactor Now was back at the track a month later and showed his better qualities with a strong win at Ballarat after being "a mile" off them in the first lap. He then continued on his winning way 13 days later at Terang with a sub-two-minute mile rate. The pacer was far from disgraced when fifth (beaten 11m) in the VHRSC Vic Sires Classic at Melton in 1.55-7 and was then sent for a spell. Reactor Now is undoubtedly destined to be one of the smart ones from a fine crop of Auckland Reactor progeny of his season. Auckland Reactor now has 149 individual winners with more than $4 million in earnings in Australia and New Zealand combined. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ararat hobby trainer Wayne Ferguson has been thoroughly enjoying his comeback to harness racing even more so now after a recent Maryborough meeting. Ferguson made the 120km drive with his stable team of two horses, hoping that his first runner could win "if everything went right". And to his delight, the popular horseman landed his first-ever training double when it all worked out fine. "Both Ghanasuya and Gottahaveahobbie have been racing well, but I was really pinning my hopes on the first one," Ferguson said. "It certainly was a thrill and when I got home, I went out for tea with my partner Rosemary Preston and had a couple of drinks to celebrate," he said. Ghanasuya (Mr Feelgood-The Princess Poet (Christian Cullen) was driven a treat by one of Victoria's leading freelance drivers in Michael Bellman. After beginning well, they took the sit behind Sassys A Terror (Greg Sugars). With an easy first half of 62.2 secs in a sprint race, the tempo was always going to hot up and Ghanasuya was looking the goods a long way out. The gelding worked home nicely, and courtesy of the sprint lane, got the chocolates by a few metres. "He hasn't been far away in his races this season with four placings prior to the Maryborough victory. I thought his Charlton and Swan Hill efforts last month when he ran third both times were good," Ferguson said. In the very next race, four-year-old Gottahaveahobbie (Well Said-Ay Tee Em (Mach Three) posted one of the eye-catching runs of the meeting with an impressive victory in the Bendigo HRTC Concession Drivers Pace, for those who haven't had 25 winners. Reinsman Jason Ainsworth, handling the pacer for the first time, scored top marks for his exhibition. After settling midfield, he sat quietly until the 450m mark before whipping around in the blink of an eye. The pair powered away to win easily in 1.57-4. Ferguson said Gottahaveahobbie, known around the stables as Louie, just loved the Maryborough circuit. "He's probably had four trials there and won them all. And now I've raced him at the track on three occasions for two wins and a third," he said. Ferguson, who owns both horses in partnership with his brother-in-law Bill Campbell, said they were lucky to end up with Gottahaveahobbie after deciding to bid for him at a Ready To Run sale in Sydney. "We pulled out at $15k, and another bloke ended up going to $20k. We were on our way home and got a telephone call to say the horse had just been left there and the winning bidder was nowhere to be found," he said. "So we agreed to pay $15k which was our last bid. He ran 4th at Geelong at his first start and then 2nd at Mt Gambier before doing a suspensory in his back leg. He was off the scene for over 12 months, but now has four wins and nine placings for over $25k. "He's going to be a nice horse because he has such a powerful sprint." Ferguson followed his father Stan into harness racing and the pair enjoyed a reasonable amount of success more than 25 years ago with such horses as tough campaigner Derricks First, who held a track record at Mt Gambier at one stage, and the talented Reneko. "Dad was the trainer and I did the driving. It worked out really well. I probably drove for about four years and then gave it away when dad was having health problems," he said. "I've been back for 18 months and I was lucky to again race the horses in dad's old racing colors of purple with a green V. My partner Rosemary isn't from a harness racing background, but she is now hooked and enjoying the horses." Ferguson said he was loving the training aspect, and really had no plans to go back to race driving. "I'll leave that to the experts, although it would be convenient so that I could drive at the trials."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Exciting junior harness racing driver Shannon O'Sullivan is resting at home after being flipped out of the cart in spectacular fashion at Ouyen last Sunday. "I'm counting my lucky stars as I did get out of the whole incident pretty well - I'll be back as soon as I can get medical clearances," O'Sullivan said. The 20-year-old from Heathcote suffered severe facial lacerations and bruising to her back and neck after being thrown high in the air near the finish line in the final event on the program. O'Sullivan was driving bay gelding Better B Nice for MIldura trainer Scott Garraway when she clipped the wheel of another runner while desperately searching for a gap. "The horse was travelling enormous and I remember spotting a bit of a run. It then closed a split second later, but the horse was just wanting to go," she said. "When I saw what might unfold I knew I was in trouble. I got tossed into the air when we fell and then the cart crashed down onto me, although the horse sort of took the brunt of that. I was unconscious on the track for about 40 seconds. "My chin was hurting pretty bad, as well as a few spots in my neck and back, but I've been told that I was more concerned about the horse. Anyway, he's having a few days off, but is okay according to Scott." Shannon O’Sullivan in her dad Jim’s racing colors The youngster was transferred from Ouyen to Mildura Base Hospital and said she was overwhelmed by the support, along with messages and telephone calls from well-wishers. "I was fortunate that Scott looked after me, along with Maddy Tormey (a younger sister of fellow reinswoman Ellen Tormey). Maddy is a Mildura nurse and came to the hospital on her day off-I was pretty scared, but she calmed me down, looked after my welfare and explained everything," O'Sullivan said. "To be honest, I have never been to hospital before, so it was a bit overwhelming without mum and dad there." O'Sullivan, daughter of legendary horseman Jim and his wife Terresa, has been in sensational form this season with a career-best 19 wins, including an enjoyable Elmore Cup victory, as well as 32 placings. In her three seasons as a driver, she has improved immensely. Starting in 2017/18, O'Sullivan had four wins and 32 placings, and followed this up in the next season with 17 wins and 32 placings (footnote: the 32 placings aren't a misprint, something of a coincidence!). "I've formed an awesome association with Greg and Jess Sugars with five wins from not many more drives and I've had a few more for Susan Gloury, who's been using me on her horse Monash and other trainers, including my dad, have also been giving me opportunities," she said. After spending Sunday night at Mildura Base Hospital, O'Sullivan was flow to Melbourne the following day and is now recovering at home. "The concern was that I'd maybe cut a nerve on my chin. The laceration was through to the bone, and while there's bruising and damage, fortunately the nerve didn't get cut," she said. "I got plastic surgery done to the bottom of my chin and the doctors are confident it'll all heal up without any noticeable marks. I was really worried that I would end up with something permanent. "I have to go to Melbourne next Monday for a check-up on the stitches and in the meantime, I just have to keep it all nice and clean. I'm only able to eat soft foods, but thankfully it's nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Young Mildura harness racing trainer Cassandra O'Brien has got her career off to a flying start after having a licence for only a short time. O'Brien took two pacers to the Ouyen Cup meeting last Sunday. She landed her very first winner when Tell Us We Dream was victorious-and then made it a memorable double an hour later with Graceful Art getting the money. The 24-year-old has been registered as a trainer since October, taking the reins for her veteran horseman uncle Peter O'Brien, when he suffered a stroke - just months after the passing of both Peter's father Jim and brother Gary. Cassandra had been Peter's strapper for about five years. But when Peter was sidelined, she was never going to let the horses slip out of her uncle's life. "He'd been at me and at me to get my trainer's licence, then when he had his stroke, I just had to jump in the deep end - there wasn't anyone else to do it, and the horses are Pete's life," Cassandra said. "I was so lucky that we had a terrific owner in Alan Cordy who just said to me he wasn't going to take his horse somewhere else...he knew I could do it. He had faith in me when others didn't and I appreciated that and it gave me confidence." But nonetheless, Cassandra said it was a steep learning curve, moving "from the passenger seat to behind the wheel". "I always thought I could do it, and Pete had taught me so much that I was confident, but it was still a bit of a whack in the face to be suddenly in charge!" Cassandra said. "I'd never even towed a float before and I'd just learnt to drive a manual car, so I was pretty nervous taking the horses to the track the first time - I think I was driving about 40 kmh!" she laughed. "Then I had to get another trainer to back the float out after we raced that night, but we got there and home safely and that was the main thing." Since then, Cassandra has had 35 starters, and eight placegetters, before Tell Us We Dream (Real Desire - Lils Dream (Badlands Hanover) broke through to record her maiden win as a trainer in the Brow and Body Maryborough Pace at the Ouyen Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Two races later, the first success became a winning double, with veteran 10-year-old Graceful Art (Artesian - Denver Grace (Armbro Operative) scoring comfortably in the Nutrien Ag Solutions Pace. "I was so nervous the night before the race, just thinking 'what if I get my first winner?', because I thought Graceful Art was a good chance," she said. "But never in a million years did I think about a double! Tell Us We Dream is a capable enough horse, but you just never know which Tell Us We Dream is going to turn up! "It was an absolutely awesome day. I couldn't stop crying after the first winner and I couldn't stop smiling after the second. It was unbelievable." The O'Briens are now stabled at Merbein South with well-known trainer Ian Watson, and Cassandra said the change had done the horses a world of good. "They've blossomed out there -- we have to put them in the cart every day to work them, and we've changed the way we feed them, and they're a lot happier. The environment out there is terrific as well. It's quiet, and Ian is fantastic. He's happy to answer any questions or give me a bit of advice when I need a hand," she said. Cassandra, who is in the final stages of training as a registered nurse, said Peter was lucky to survive the stroke and, as anticipated, the lure of getting back to the horses was a big motivator in his recovery. Peter O'Brien has spent his entire life around horses, first as a youngster on the show circuit, including at the Royal Melbourne, then in later years as a jumps jockey, before injury forced him to change direction into harness racing. "When we got the horses to the races the first few times he really didn't know much about it, but as he got better, all he wanted to do was get back to the horses. He wouldn't have got anywhere near where he is now if it hadn't been for them." Cassandra said, as well as being a tonic for Peter, the horses had provided a welcome distraction for both herself and her mum Kerri. "We had a shocking year last year with losing Pop and Uncle Gary, then Pete having his stroke - hopefully this is a sign of better things ahead," she said. "We're all still here, we've just changed roles a bit. I used to get angry at Pete for being a grumpy trainer, now it's me that's the grumpy one - but I couldn't do it without either Pete or mum. And the horses kept us all sane through all of it, I think."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Experienced country Victorian harness racing trainer John Meade knows he faces a huge test tomorrow night with his stable champion Sparkling Success, but he's just happy to have the square gaiter back racing. Now an eight-year-old, Sparkling Success (Great Success-Diamond Insitu (Cr Commando USA) is one of eight starters in the prestigious $24,000 Group Three Economix Scotch Notch Memorial at Melton. The brilliant gelding is having just his second start since September 2018, but after an arduous recovery from injury, Meade and his wife Mary are understandably over the moon with having their horse once again competing. "His first run back at Charlton last weekend was pretty good. He finished fifth, but the margin from the winner was just 12 metres," said Meade, of Cudgee, nestled halfway between Terang and Hamilton. "But yes, we were quite happy-he only went into the race with three easy trials under his belt so there's room for improvement," he said. "He's eaten up well all week and more importantly his leg looks good. But this weekend he's up against the likes of Tornado Valley, Big Jack Hammer and Magicool and they're going to take some beating. "We've certainly run into some classy horses that's for sure. Hopefully we can stay in touch. The bottom line is that he needs racing, so we'll see how we go," Sparkling Success stamped himself as a star in August and September of 2018, with two authoritative victories at Melbourne headquarters in the $35,000 Crown Graduate FFA Trot and $20,000 Garrards Maori's Idol FFA. His next assignment was to be to contest the Yonkers International Trot in the USA, but connections were devastated when a serious front leg injury forced them to call off the plans. "He had a slight tear in the suspensory ligament of his near side front leg. At the same time, we'd also decided to get out of dairying and had sold our 300 cows, so we were at a bit of a loose end," Meade said. "But so much planning had gone into the trip, and on the positive side, I decided with Chris Svanosio, who was our driver at the time, to go anyway, because we'd paid for our tickets and such. "We had a wonderful time with lots of pleasant memories. It was great, particularly going to the Red Mile track at Lexington in Kentucky." Meade said Sparkling Success's recovery and rehabilitation involved the first six months being confined to a box. "He had a lot of walking-and he's a shocking horse to take for a walk! I eventually used to put him in a cart and we just walked about. Then after this there was five minutes walking and five minutes of trotting," he said. "We started building him up using a heavy cart to jog and try to get him as fit as possible. A vet told me that it's speed that breaks them down but even now he has 25 minutes jogging and still puffs a bit at the end, but we'll get there. "I still have him stabled in the same box, but he does have a little paddock of his own now, and providing the leg stands up we should be okay. He's an eight-year-old who has only had 38 starts." Meade, who has been training horses for about 40 years, has a team of 12 in work-all square gaiters. "I obviously like them. I've been trying to sell a couple off because there's a few three-year-olds I want to get into work, and then there's four yearlings who need something doing with them," he said. The stable has certainly had its share of success over the years, with Crescent Glory (Safely Kept-Glory Girl (Red Coach Glory) one that comes to mind. The gelding was a revelation for probably six seasons from 2007, winning 14 races and 30 placings for $150k. There were a number of InterDominion appearances, but a highlight was a win in the $25,000 group three Holmefield. While Meade enjoys the shoeing aspect, he is quick to hand over race driving duties. "I'll do the ones who are hard to handle, but the youngsters these days are so much better at it. They slot into holes where there doesn't seem room, and they're just as quick to get out of pockets when they need to." But the veteran may just be cutting himself short as he recently didn't put a foot wrong to land 20/1 longshot Wisp Of Smoke (Dejarmbro-Fire Chase (Keystone Salute) at Horsham. "That fella has a heap of ability. He can get up on the bit, but he's one I've got to sell because I have too many," Meade said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

High achieving Tasmanian trainer Ben Yole says a love for the sport of harness racing is the driving force behind his success. It's not unusual for the Yole stable to have well over 40 horses competing at a single meeting all around the Apple Isle, with occasionally eight or nine in the one event! But despite the physical and logistical demands (of which there are plenty!) there's no waning in Ben Yole's enthusiasm, or his efforts to find that next "handy one". "It's a hard gig at times. You do have to keep pushing, but I can say that the thrill and satisfaction of getting winners is always a big help," Yole said. "I'm lucky to have hard-working staff, loyal owners and a good bunch of drivers. Otherwise it just wouldn't be happening," he said. Apart from the predictable routine of jogging, washing, rugging, mixing up feeds, mucking out manure, checking for loose shoes and keeping an eye on the general welfare of 60-plus equine athletes, there are also the dozens of add-on tasks (and unexpected challenges) that can easily throw a day off. Then there's also the chore most try to avoid - cleaning harness before fast work days and race meetings. Ben Yole hard at work on the job no-one wants – sorting out harness for up to 40 runners at a Tasmanian meeting "I haven't come across too many people who enjoy getting the harness and gear ready. It's time consuming and something that seems to land in my lap fairly often. But that's okay," Yole said. The stable uses four horse trucks as well as four floats to transport their runners to compete at meetings. The Team Yole fleet – four trucks and four floats, ready for the races But once on-course, things are like a well-oiled machine with each stable member carrying out set tasks. "We race everywhere. It's only 30 to 40 minutes to Launceston, but then there are meetings at Hobart which is three hours away. We also do Devonport and Burnie," Yole said. Yole gained a wealth of experience when living on the mainland. He spent time working for such astute horsemen as Jim Barker and Kevin Brough, at Hamilton in south west Victoria, but has made his own mark since shifting to Tasmania nearly 10 years ago. The Yole family consists of Ben and Catherine; Ben's brothers Tim and Mark and Mark's wife Dani; and their parents Wayne and Louise. The stable is based at Sidmouth, a small rural community in the Western Tamar Valley region. Apart from family, Ben Yole attributes his success to a good string of drivers including Rohan Hadley, Troy McDonald, Kyle Pratten, Gareth Rattray and Samantha Gangell. A bag of four winners at Devonport last weekend took Yole past the century mark again-something he's achieved ever since the 2015-16 season. This season's magical 100 winners reached in record time so it's well on the cards that the stable could topple its all-time benchmark of 181 winners in 2018-19. And as if the demands are not enough in Tasmania, Team Yole is not ruling out an interstate mission again this year. The stable got the perfect kick-start to the season with a Victorian campaign that netted 15 wins and 33 placings for over $100,000 in stakes. And a similar trip, perhaps in late July, is likely to come into calculations. "We are working about 60 at the moment, but we do seem to have a better quality this season which helps a lot, so everything's on the table," Yole said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

One of the real pin-up pacers of our harness racing scene at the moment in Lochinvar Art is right on song for his next assignment—in country New South Wales. “I sat down with owner Kevin Gordon and we looked over the options. We eventually decided on a heat and group one final series at Wagga next month,” Victorian trainer-driver David Moran said. “Last season we pushed the horse to this and that race, but we’re determined to now aim at what’s the most suitable and not just keep sending him around,” he said. Lochinvar Art (Modern Art USA-Ponder In Paris (Ponder) will compete at Riverina Paceway during the Wagga Wagga club’s Group One Carnival. He will front up in a $10,000 qualifying 1740m heat for 4yo entires and geldings on Tuesday, April 7, with the $100,000 final over 2270m to be run five days later. Moran said his rising star would then go for a break in a lush paddock before heading to Queensland for the rich Winter Carnival in July. The astute young horseman is understandably still up in the clouds with the efforts of his horse this preparation— and so he should be! After returning to the racing scene early this year, “Arty” has swept all before him, winning a massive $344,000 in six starts. He took out the Cobram Cup on January 5 and then was luckless six days later in the Shepparton Cup when fifth to Phoenix Prince. Next was a victory in the $100k G1 Alabar 4yo Bonanza and then an unplaced run in the Hunter Cup to King Of Swing when nothing went his way. Lochinvar Art then dispelled any doubt about him being a genuine Group One performer with a tough win in the $200k Chariots of Fire at Menangle. And to cap it off, his “game as Ned Kelly” effort when runner-up in the $1M Miracle Mile was sensational. “I knew that he had come back from a few months’ spell late last year in fine order. His work was first class, but he did keep surprising me each day when we were up in Sydney for the Chariots and Miracle Mile,” Moran said. “There were times when I was doing fast work and I was honestly in disbelief. I was thinking that he couldn’t do what he was doing—it was all a bit unbelievable,” he said. “The run in the Miracle Mile was awesome. We had to work when I scooted around them at the 1000m mark, but then to hold off some of the smart ones behind me and hang onto second was huge. “I’m enjoying the ride with ‘Arty’ that’s for sure because horses like this don’t come along all that often.” Moran selected Lochinvar Art at a ready-to-run sale in Sydney. “Kevin and his wife Leonie gave me a free rein to pick one out for them. I just liked the way Lochinvar Art went. He was a good mover and covered the ground nicely,” he said. “He looked like he was doing a 32 second split when they dashed him up. But it was more like a tick over 27. We ended up paying $29,000 for him. “I have been very lucky. Ever since that day, the Gordons have taken me to the yearling sales to buy another horse for them.” Kevin and Leonie Gordon Moran has a team of 12 horses in work at his base at Kialla, near Shepparton. This includes a number of young ones and Moran is being helped out by his stepson Cody, 15, who is doing a traineeship. And don’t be surprised to see the teenager in action on the racetrack later this year as he’s keen to get his licence.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness racing administrators are scrambling to re-invent and reorganise a plethora of events and meetings as the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) dramatically alters the racing landscape across Australia and the world. Victoria became the first state to declare a State of Emergency around the pandemic on Monday, enacting powers to restrict movement, gatherings and events - but the declaration was not before Harness Racing Victoria had already implemented a ban on patrons on Saturday, limiting on-track attendance to essential staff and licenced participants with a horse engaged. South Australia has since implemented similar bans and other States are expected to follow suit. "Ghost meetings" are now the norm, with Charlton's biggest annual racing meeting, the Charlton Pacing Cup, being run and won in front of a non-existent crowd, closed bars and empty stands. The club's marketing manager Andrea O'Gorman said Sunday's cup was definitely unlike any previous, but the decision was an easy one. "We were on the front foot in consultation with HRV. It was an easy decision because it was the only one that could be made - as disappointing as it was, there's a bigger picture than our pacing cup meeting," Ms O'Gorman said. The bare marquees in front of the impressive new Charlton Park Community Hub on Sunday were a stark illustration of the impact the virus is having across Australian communities large and small. The first Pacing Cup in the new facility was to have been a major celebration of the community's achievements in reaching a long-term goal to build a new multipurpose sporting complex. But Ms O'Gorman said the club was very comfortable with the decision. "It was the responsible action and these things happen. In the context of things, lets be honest we are just a little club. We live in an ageing town, so we have to think of not just sporting interest but also the community," she said. "Looking at the bigger picture we don't want to jeopardise people who are involved in the sport, because they need this - it's their employment." Harness Racing Victoria has advised race meetings across the State will, until further notice, be restricted only to staff and licenced participants who have a horse engaged. Next Sunday Mallee town of Ouyen's Pacing Cup, will go ahead without spectators. A major annual community event, the cup provides an important economic boost for the remote town. But it's also a major social fixture, bringing the community and former residents from across the State together for family and school reunions - underpinning the reasons for the patron ban. And no one would envy the task of Mildura Harness Racing Club secretary manager Michelle McGinty, who is the final stages of organising Victoria's only three-day Pacing Cup Carnival. With most of the logistical work already done, McGinty is again working overtime, now cancelling, scaling back and rebooking all the resources, accommodation, entertainment and service providers required for a five-day program of events. "It's very disappointing for all of us, but at the end of the day, the health and wellbeing of everyone involved has to take priority," McGinty said. "Rest assured, we will be back bigger and better than ever for next year's carnival, though, and we hope industry and racing fans will still support our event this year, off course, and in any way they can," she said. "There will obviously be a lot of disappointment, but it's the proper cause of action and hopefully people will understand." HRV CEO Dayle Brown said the announcement of crowd restrictions followed the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer declaring a ban on public gatherings of 500 or more people. "We acknowledge our decision is a significant one, but we must protect the health and wellbeing of our people in the industry," Brown said. "In the future we will be listening to advice from medical experts and act accordingly to mitigate risk to health," he said. "We have limited staff numbers working at tracks and in the HRV office, with a business continuity plan in place to allow staff to operate remotely. "This will ensure our harness racing continues to go ahead as usual, but I urge those contacting HRV to be patient as some adjustments are necessary."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Tomorrow night's planned special Gavin Lang fundraiser and sportsman's gala event at Tabcorp Park Melton has been postponed in light of the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation - but organizers are determined to come up with an exciting alternative. The event coordinator Steve Cleave said it was disappointing the pandemic had disrupted the plans, but organisers are working towards the key fundraiser event going ahead in an altered format. "The bottom line was there would have been over 350 people in one area for the fundraiser. That was a huge concern, in keeping with the Government guidelines we decided not to go ahead," Cleave said. "We are still raising money through the mega raffle and on-line silent auction and a few ideas have been tossed about such as a televised live auction, but we will be making an announcement soon." Cleave, who is also a trainer and driver, said a number of new items had been added to the silent auction which was still receiving bids. "The support people are throwing at the fundraiser has been terrific. There's harness racing items, stallion services and some brilliant football memorabilia that would have to appeal to those types of punters," he said. "We're urging everyone to have a look at what's been listed for auction, and anyone interested in a particular item can have a crack. "People can still buy raffle tickets, and there is a fantastic list of prizes there." Legendary reinsman Gavin Lang has faced many battles on the racetrack but is now facing his greatest challenge with a rare type of lymphoma. Industry participants and supporters have rallied over the past few months to raise more than $100,000 to assist Lang to obtain expensive treatment from USA. Lang has so far endured a series of intense chemotherapy but is said to be in good spirits. The 60-year-old is an icon of the sport, and followed in the footsteps of his famous father Graeme. (Daddy Lang, as Graeme was often referred, was recently dealt a cruel hand himself, suffering a severe stroke).   "Yes I got into the game through family involvement. My father was a trainer-driver, while his dad owned horses back in the day," Gavin Lang said in one of his many media interviews. He was quick to heap praise on his dad who he credits as being the main influence in "helping get me to where I am". And not many of the harness racing diehards would possibly remember, but Gavin prepared his first winner as a trainer when just an 18-year-old. He has since mainly been a driver, although in the past decade has enjoyed the role of trainer again. Lang has never been drawn into nominating the best horse he's driven over the years. In his well-known pleasant and precise manner, he said: "That's a tough question. I've driven a lot of very good ones at various stages of their careers. I won a 3yo race at Stawell one day on My Lightning Blue, who went on and won an InterDominion. "I could say that one of the best for me personally was Floreat who I paid $14k for at the yearling sales. She won 7 of her first 10 starts and over $210,000. "That was about 28 years ago and the money I earnt, set me up no doubt." Floreat, sired by Sokys Atom, out of the dam Shu Fly, won $150,000 when taking out the Fosters Australian Gold Series 2 Fillies Final at Albion Park on April 25, 1992. "Another one I have high regard for was Persistency. I trained him and he had a lot of injuries, but managed to win two Group One events as a nine-year-old," Lang said. Lang remarked that it was fantastic to see more and more young people who don't have family involvement getting into harness racing. "The Gippsland Harness Training Centre, and another at Bendigo, have played a big part in opening up an opportunity for these youngsters," he said. "People in the industry just love the animals like they are one of the family. I had many girls work for me over the years because they are so caring and patient with horses. "Sky channel and social media has also played big roles. When I travelled far and wide with my race driving engagements, people would come up to chat because they had seen me doing interviews and thought because of this they knew me!" Raffle tickets and silent auction bidding is available now at https://app.galabid.com/gav/items   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Crack Victorian pacer Im Sir Blake is primed to run the race of his life in the rich Group Two Ladbrokes Tasmania Harness Racing Cup this weekend. Known around the stables as "whiskers", Im Sir Blake (Alta Christiano-Jupiters Darling (Dream Away) was super impressive in winning a qualifying heat in Hobart a fortnight ago and has since thrived in the Apple Isle. "He hasn't been taken to a public trial. We've had him at the stables of Bianca Heenan and he's just done all his work there," co-trainer Danny O'Brien said. "I can say that his fast work hit outs have been pleasing and he's all set to go. Our driver Christian Salter has been going over and driving him on hopple-up days," he said. "We got to know Christian through a horse we previously trained in Soho Senna, who ended up in Tassie. Besides we decided to go for a local who knows the Hobart track and most of the other horses." “Whiskers”, aka Im Sir Blake after his heat win in Tasmania – now for the final (Photograph Stacey Lear) O'Brien, based at Armstrong near Ararat, prepares a small team of horses in partnership with his son Leroy. "This is the first time we've campaigned in Tasmania. It's a $75,000 race so there's obviously some classy opposition, but with a clean getaway from the stand, we're hoping to be up near the leaders," O'Brien said. "He was very good in his heat. They were running quick sectionals over the last half and our bloke was out three wide, but he stuck at it." After winning at Ballarat in early December, "whiskers" finished 8th (beaten 5.6m) and 11th (beaten 21m) at Melton. The O'Brien boys decided to give their little speedster an easy time of it and a month later he bounced back into form with an all-the-way victory in the $20,000 Empire Stallions Pace at Melbourne headquarters. "We obviously did the right thing because he's certainly clicked up at his past two," O'Brien said. Danny and his wife Sharryn will fly over today to Tasmania to join Leroy, his fiancée Kristy and their 11-month-old son Tommy. Another Victorian visitor in Its Back In The Day (Washington VC-Bragato (Ermis) looks a main danger along with local champion Ryley Major, while runners-up in the heats Goggo Gee Gee and The Announcer will have admirers. Its Back In The Day is prepared at Mt Cottrell, near Melton, by one of Victoria's finest conditioners in John "Bulldog" Nicholson. The six-year-old, a winner of eight of his 15 lifetime starts, will be driven by the trainer's son, Rhys. The pacer was handled a treat to win his qualifying heat, and when let down over the final stages, he burst clear of his rivals to score a runaway victory.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

ALL female harness racing drivers in Australia and over the Tasman Sea in New Zealand should take a bow on a magnificent past six weeks. The girls, wearing teal pants to promote women's health (predominantly ovarian cancer), have officially smashed all figures recorded last season. Organizers announced yesterday that a staggering 398 wins had been posted, totaling $152,400. "Team Teal fundraising may only have one week left, but the legacy created by the reinswomen will last a long time-we couldn't be more proud of the overall efforts, passion and determination shown throughout the 2020 campaign," they added. It was created by well-known industry figure Duncan McPherson, who lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer in 2010. While battling failing health, Lyn and her family began fundraising for ovarian cancer research and for nurses supporting women in research units. McPherson co-founded Team Teal with two mates, Michael Taranto and Jim Connolly, both passionate harness racing identities. The campaign expanded from Victoria to NSW and then within a few years to all other states. NZ jumped onboard in 2018. Apart from Team Teal, there's been a host of other marvellous groups and individuals raising funds. More than 40 women gathered at the Horsham trots on Monday for their Team Teal Ladies Day luncheon, highlighted by an inspiring guest speaker, ovarian cancer advocate Karen Livingstone AM. A total $2300 was raised for WomenCan Team Teal. And Jo Lane, who attended, couldn't have summed it up better when she wrote: "If I was to take away one thing from today it is to be an advocate for myself". __________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER South Australian trainer Greg Norman is heading back to Broken Hill to defend the cup title that he collected last season. Norman, now based at Charlton in central Victoria, has drawn on the inside of the back row with his tough campaigner The Deal in tomorrow night's $14,000 Rocky Baker Memorial Pacing Cup. It's a six-and-a-half hour drive, but The Deal (American Ideal-Tamara Hall (Real Desire) will take a power of beating-coming fresh off a recent Echuca victory. Top Mildura reinsman Luke Watson has been engaged by the Norman camp to handle the five-year-old pacer, owned by the Cormack boys and Watson will be right at home, because he learnt to drive fast work on the tight 602m circuit while growing up in the Silver City mining township. Three other Victorian visitors in Frankntank (Kate Attard), Larwood (Brendan Tune) and Headmaster (Andrew Vozlic) will be against a trio of locals in the cup. Elect to Rock (Tony Camilleri) and Bettatobelucky (Don Pimm) are recent winners at the track, while Serene Change (Darren McInnes) is an under-rated horse. Broken Hill has a very strong six-race card programmed for its Cup fixture and features alongside the Young Pacers' Cup and the Young Derby (also on Friday night) as the latest events on the rich NSW Carnival of Cups. Greg Norman chasing back to back wins in the Broken Hill Cup with The Deal __________________________________________________________________________________________________ WHILE a familiar face in Chris Alford was again to the fore at Cranbourne on Tuesday night-he collected four wins-there was a popular winner in the final event. Evergreen Rita Burnett, based at Kilmore, a pioneer in the ranks of female drivers, coaxed four-year-old bay horse Pickles Magee to a win in the $7000 Aldebaran Park trot. Pickles Magee (Majestic Son-Our Flash Girl (Yankee Paco), prepared at Kilmore by hobby trainer Trevor Rout, was making his race debut and should benefit greatly from the experience. Burnett was happy to be camped behind race favorite Gus Or Bust (Michelle Phillips) for most of the trip. When Phillips, who is in the best form of her career, cleared off down the back, it looked like she had pinched a winning break. But Hes Themightyspin (Chris Alford) and Pickles Magee worked into the equation over the final stages with the latter getting the upper hand. Burnett, sitting quiet as a church mouse, posted her second race winner for the season. The win robbed Alford of going home with the last five winners on the card. He was successful with Luke Tabone-trained pair Rocks Roy and Torea Lane, and then Sahara Sirocco and Sahara Tiger for Gary and Deb Quinlan. Pickles Magee wins on debut in the experienced hands of Rita Burnett   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Energetic young Victorian harness racing reinsman James Herbertson sent records and personal milestones tumbling in all directions at the weekend. The rising star of our driving ranks travelled to the Wangaratta club's feature meeting of the season, the $14,500 Pacing Cup on Sunday, and it proved a memorable night of firsts. It was his first-ever visit to the track, so it was, needless to say, his first win in the popular Wangaratta Cup, and, in addition, the one and only time he's driven for much-travelled trainer Amanda Turnbull. And, into the bargain, the outstanding cup win was in record time. Herbertson is based at Lexton, 48kms from Ballarat but he's certainly a well-travelled teenager. "I've been to a lot of meetings, but never to Wangaratta," Herbertson said. "But it turned out to be great, although it was a long four-hour road trip to get there. The horse I drove jumped to the front and was always travelling well. He's certainly a nice type," he said. Think About Me (Christian Cullen-Our Imagine Me (Dream Away) had a seven-metre break on the line from runner-up Abitmorebliss (Ryan Sanderson) with a further three metres back to Brallo's Pass (Abbey Turnbull). "Amanda had the horse in tip-top condition, and the mile rate of 1.58-3 was a track record," Herbertson said. "Think About Me is racing in town next weekend and should do well." The victory was the third country cup for the youngster this season, having already won the St Arnaud and Stawell Cups with strong-staying pacer Emain Macha, trained near Naracoorte by Greg Scholefield. And at Melton last Saturday night, Herbertson also notched-up a special personal milestone when he was successful with Kasbah Kid - it was his 300th winner. "I'm not a goal-setter at all, but that was the number of wins I was hoping to get before I turned 20. It did put a big smile on my face," he said. And the young man, who has certainly been in a hurry since bursting onto the scene four years ago, had nearly a fortnight to spare, celebrating his 20th birthday on Saturday week, March 21. Kasbah Kid (Art Major-Kebbalah Karen B (Western Terror), trained by Geoff Webster, scored easily in the "Donald's Winners" on Facebook Pace. And wrapping up a successful three days, Herbertson landed Im Shadow Boxer (Shadow Play-Soho Diaz (Mach Three) at Horsham on Monday for his dad Ashleigh, who returned home with a training double as Foolish Pleasure (A Rocknroll Dance-Vouvray (Life Sign) won a heat of the Invitational Drivers series. Herbertson plans to soon take a break to Queensland for a few days after receiving a seven-day holiday, courtesy of stewards. "I'm suspended as of tomorrow so a trip up north sounds ideal. It's my second home because that's where I was born and Mum and Dad still have family and friends up there," he said. "A visit to Albion Park will be a must-but I'll only be a spectator." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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