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AN up-and-coming young trainer-driver combination hasn't wasted any time in getting into the winner's circle after a recent re-location. Trainer Michael Gadsden and his partner, driver Denbeigh Wade have been based at the purpose-built Charlton Training Centre for a few weeks and are almost certain to continue making their presence felt in future. A quick trip down the Calder Highway to Bendigo on Saturday night was rewarding with recent addition to the stable in Markleigh Jill (Shadow Play-Markleigh Princess (Safely Kept) scoring in the Schweppes Pace (1650m) at 10/1. The pair previously prepared their team at Ararat but decided on a move after outgrowing their property. Gadsden said a visit to the Charlton complex was a deal clincher when they looked at the facilities on offer. There's an all-weather 820 metre track, a 2000m straight track, lock-up harness and feed area, and stables and day yards. "We sat down and worked out that there's 11 tracks within a few hours-that's of course when we get back to our normal racing," he said. The pair have six in work with a similar number to resume including an exciting former Kiwi pacer. Former South Australian trainer Greg Norman has been based at the Charlton complex for over 12 months and has produced many winners in that time. *Hoofnote: A competition conducted by the innovative Charlton Club to find the best punter going around at the moment, was taken out by Jayson Frankum, who was cool under pressure over the four weeks of tipping. Greg Norman exploded from the barrier in the first round and although he was eventually pegged back, he held on gallantly to second place. Others of note were Jason McNaulty, Dixie Horig and Marisa Byrne. ________________________________________________________________________________________ THE long-awaited debut of leading reinswoman Lauren Tritton to show her renowned driving skills in the US arrived on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Pennsylvania. Tritton had two drives for her husband Shane-sporting impressive new colors (which had been on order for some time) featuring the pink trident already familiar to Australian fans. The brilliant reinswoman finished eighth on Salty Robyn before taking the reins five races later on one of her all-time favorites in Flaming Flutter. And the old-timer didn't let her down with a nice third placing in 1.51-1. Lauren will team up with My Rona Gold, back at the Pocono circuit, in race 13, due to start at 10am (AEST) today. Asked later if it felt weird leaning so far back to drive in the US-style, Lauren said the new style would take some getting used to, as "the rocks hit you in the face". Meanwhile, Shane has rocketed into the top-25 trainers' table at Meadowlands, and topping the "Who's Hot?" trainers' list at the venue since racing resumed. Shane has a 45 percent winning strike rate as a trainer at Meadowlands. From his 11 starters, he has recorded five winners. Pictured: Lauren Tritton made her driving debut for Team Tritton at the weekend ________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE'S never big numbers of unhoppled pacers getting around, but those who dare to shift from the conventional rule of thumb, just sometimes hit the jackpot. Legendary horseman Jim O'Sullivan, based at Heathcote, near Bendigo, is one having success with bay gelding Neanger Guy (Live or Die-Art Bubble (Art Major). The pacer won his first race while free legged at Ballarat on January 18 and then returned to the same venue last Thursday to repeat the dose. And the victory was a milestone for O'Sullivan's daughter Shannon, 21, one of our young bright lights in the driving ranks. The win was the 50th in her promising career. "To get a win on a horse prepared by dad was special, but to reach 50 made it even more memorable," she said. And it was somewhat of a family affair as Jim's wife Terresa races the pacer, who now has three wins and nine placings from 32 race starts. Pictured: Shannon O'Sullivan after her success with Neanger Guy at Ballarat ________________________________________________________________________________________ KEEN north-west Victorian harness racing competitor Luke Watson had every reason to be wearing a bigger smile than normal after last Friday afternoon's Mildura meeting. Watson landed his first-ever treble as a trainer-and a thoroughly deserved one as he and his wife Kathy put in many hours at their Merbein South property, on the outskirts of Mildura. South Australian-owned four-year-old gelding Timmy Limousine (Sportswriter-Cunning Kate (Armbro Operative) started the ball rolling with a tough effort in the Park Douglas Printing Pace. After doing it hard, the pacer, raced by popular SA vet Toby Ryan, packed too many guns to notch his second win from his past three starts. Bold front-runner Passionate Pursuit (Courage Under Fire-Passionate Embrace (Art Major) always had things under control in the Vale Les Caldwell Pace. The mare was perfectly rated by Watson at the head of affairs. Bargain basement gelding, Stonebridge Star (Stonebridge Regal-Be All Dillinger (D M Dilinger), a $500 purchase by Kathy, who was the winning driver, made it a treble for Luke when the horse posted his fifth lifetime win. But Luke is the first to admit that his wife plays a major role in any success that may come his way. "Kathy just loves getting out on the training track all day with them. After being a late starter in the sport, she now enjoys every minute." Pictured: Luke and Kathy Watson   Terry Gange Consultant   Web: Twitter:

A member of Victoria's legendary Gath family is on the cusp of making a return to harness racing ranks. Accomplished former reinsman Glenn, 47, is a son of champion trainer Neville and grandson of one of the Australian great, the (late) wily George, has had a comeback on his mind for quite a while. "Up until a few months ago, I was working at Lloyd Williams' racehorse-training complex, Macedon Lodge. I was in charge of the feed room, but I'd also get called on to tack on shoes and other day-to-day stuff that came up," Glenn said. "I absolutely loved it. I was there for 10 years and had a ball. If Lloyd and his son Nick didn't decide to 'put the cue in the rack' and put the property on the market, I'd probably still be there," he said. But Glenn wouldn't be a Gath if the lure of harness racing didn't linger. "I honestly did still think about harness racing a fair bit while I was at work," he said. "I think I missed the competitiveness of it. If you're in a big race, or even a little race, it's a pleasure to be there and of course there's the adrenaline rush. I really did enjoy driving." Gath said when the Williams father-and-son team decided to shut down the stable last December, most of the staff were made redundant. "That certainly made the decision for me to return to harness racing. I'd had itchy fingers to make a comeback- now I'm ready to go and looking forward to it," he said. "I'm paid up and just need to pass a medical, which is hard to do at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully in the next month or so l'll get something sorted out." Gath is the youngest in a family line that oozes just so much talent in the harness racing industry. Glenn Gath His brothers Phillip and David were both success stories in training and driving, while Peter showed he had an eye for a nice horse, owning a number of smart ones. And, of course, Andy is one of the current leading Australian trainers, forming a lethal combination with his wife Kate, an extraordinary driver. Both Neville Gath and his brother Brian are Hall of Famers, along with their father George; and Brian's son Matthew, a trainer and driver, completes the remarkable family story. Glenn said while his last winner was back in May of 2012, he'd had only occasional drives since then with two or three "steers" in 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. "I always put Macedon Lodge and Lloyd first. I got along well with him. My job required a 5am start and it was seven days a week with a few afternoons off when it worked out," he said. "I'm sure Lloyd wouldn't mind me telling the story of when I first started there, and I was learning the ropes. I mentioned to him that I was driving a pacer at Melton that night for my brother Andy. He told me he would remind his butler to put the race on and watch it. "Well it didn't turn out all that great and we ran sixth or seventh. The following day I was told that the feed room was my area of work and Lloyd had given me a $20,000 rise. I don't know to this day if he felt sorry for me, but it was a generous gesture! "And from then, each year I got a small rise. But I think Lloyd knew not to get involved with pacers!" Lloyd Williams won four Melbourne Cups with Efficient (2007), Green Moon (2012), Almandin (2016) and Rekindling (2017) and Glenn said being at Macedon Lodge for a number of the wins was a highlight. "Just to see the huge amount of work that went into it and to be associated with a couple of cup winners was something I won't ever forget," he said. The 120-hectare Macedon Lodge ranks as one of the best training establishments in the Southern Hemisphere. It can accommodate up to 100 horses, boasts more than 15 kms of tracks for training as well as a 75 metre horse pool. There's also 75 boxes, 25 grass day yards and 20 spelling paddocks. Gath and his partner Virginia Brosnan, a well-known and respected veterninary surgeon employed by Garrard's Horse and Hound, have been dabbling in the horse breeding side in recent years. "I may try my hand at training one or two, but I'll keep breaking-in the babies which is something I really enjoy," he said. Official statistics show that Gath has driven 297 winners, while as a trainer, he's prepared 79 winners and 159 placegetters for stakes of $395,000. "It will be interesting to see if I've still got it-hopefully I have," he laughed.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura Web: Twitter:

Young Queensland harness racing driver Dannielle McMullen will be politely passing up any celebration drinks this month. Dannielle, of Alberton, 40 minutes from the famous Gold Coast, has joined the challenge to ‘Go Dry this July’ and raise much-needed funds for people affected by cancer. “I’ve always thought about doing it – and I’m now so happy that I’m actually a part of it,” she said. And offering plenty of support is her partner, well known trainer Ryan Veivers, who was one of the first to kick in with a $200 donation. Dannielle describes herself as a social drinker, with the odd cocktail and wine her usual tipples. “I’m certainly not a big drinker, but over the past few months prior to the challenge I probably had a few extras, being stuck at home and not going out during the coronavirus pandemic,” she said. The money raised over the month will go toward making difficult times that little bit easier for cancer patients, their families and carers. This could mean access to an informative voice, specialist nursing services, therapy programs or the provision of a bed close to treatment centres. Dannielle said raising funds for the ‘Go Dry this July’ challenge was something close to her heart. “We lost Ryan’s dad Peter last year through cancer and there’s been quite a few other family members affected by the disease,” she said. “The support I’ve so far received has been enormous, and I just hope it continues.” Dannielle has so far raised nearly $500 for the cause, and said she made a pledge at the beginning of the challenge that if she broke the rules and had a drink, she would match the total of promised donations. “But there’s no way known that will be happening, I can guarantee it. If there’s one thing I like as much as a drink, it’s saving my hard-earnt dollars! I just won’t be slipping up,” she said. Dannielle is one of more than 37,000 people who have agreed to go dry and $5.1M has so far been raised. The harness racing industry has been urged to get behind Dannielle in this important fund-raiser and donate by going to and search for Dannielle McMullen.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

One of Australia's greatest ever harness racing drivers Daryl "Dasher" Douglas could be on track to reignite his career. Douglas, who was only relicensed a few days ago, competed in six of seven official trials at Bendigo on Monday night, finishing with three wins and two placings. The six-times leading Australian driver made his previous appearance at a racetrack on January 28, 2015, when he finished unplaced on Art Of Locksley for trainer John Nissen, at Maryborough, later stepping away from the sport. But being away from it for well over five years didn't present any problems at the trials for Douglas. "I suppose it's a bit like riding a bike. You just hop back on and away you go," Douglas, 47, said yesterday. "To be honest, I haven't set any plans or anything like that. If it all happens and I get back to the races one day, it will have to work in around my day job," he said. "I'm working with roads maintenance crews, which involves a bit of truck driving. I really love it and I get to work all over the State." Douglas said there was no chance whatsoever of returning to the heady days of the 2000s when he would do 18 to 20-hour double-header days at opposite ends of the State. It was nothing for him to compete in some early races at a day meeting at Kilmore and then turn up for the night fixture at Mildura. On another occasion he landed the first four winners at Stawell and then drove a full book at Geelong later that night-but didn't increase on his tally. Douglas was doing over 100,000 kms each year driving to meetings and after a series of speeding tickets (which, if they continued, weren't going to have a happy ending in court) he elected to charter a small plane and pilot to get to-and-from the venues. "When I was in the top half dozen in the State, I was driving more than 2100 horses a year. The others in Chris Alford, John Caldow, Brian Gath and the late Gavin Lang were doing around the 1200 mark, so I was going close to two to their one," he said. "And I can say that in the past five years since I've been away from harness racing, I've had just one speeding ticket!" Douglas enjoyed a meteoric rise in the sport, which started gathering swift momentum from the late 1990s. "When I was growing up, I was never going to be a driver. I started jogging horses when I was a 12-year-old at my parents (Keith and Judy Douglas) Sebastopol property," he said. "Then when I couldn't get a job after turning 16, I stayed with the horses. It wasn't until I was 18 that I thought I may as well get my licence-so I guess had I been real keen I would have jumped at it earlier when I could have." It took Douglas only a short time to land himself in the winner's circle, breaking through at St Arnaud on a horse named Bad Land in 1991. Trainers began noticing his uncanny ability and after picking up more and more drives, he posted 80 wins in 1997/98. He then smashed the century mark the following season with 149 (fifth on the national premiership). From there until 2014/15, Douglas was in the top two drivers most seasons. In the 2008/09 season, he drove his best ever tally of 388 winners. Along the way he posted the quickest century of wins (now held jointly with Chris Alford), taking two months and 26 days. He followed up with the quickest double century (five months, 15 days) and one of his quickest triple centuries, recorded in nine months and 19 days. He shaved two weeks off this remarkable feat in the 2010/11 season. Daryl later joined his younger brother Glenn as one of the sport's most formidable partnerships. Glenn concentrated on training, preparing big numbers for his father-in-law and owner Eric Anderson. It was then left to Daryl to consistently put the stable runners in the winner's circle, carrying the familiar Anderson letter A royal blue and white racing colors. And come they did, in the form of superstar Franco Tiger, Make Mine Cullen, Bold Cruiser, Hanover Zip, Saint Flash, Brigalow Bush, Bold Stefan, Our Pocket Liner and others. "For now I'll just keep coasting along and see where it all takes me," a laid back Douglas said. "I loved having a catch-up with B. Gath and a few others at the trials. I enjoy the really nice people in the sport."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Exceptionally talented pacer Pat Stanley, who claimed this year’s South Australian Pacing Cup in brilliant fashion, is off to the US. The five-year-old gelding, sired by Western Ideal, out of Jaz Tanner (Artiscape), will join the in-form barn of ex-Aussies Shane and Lauren Tritton, at Pine Bush, 130 kms from New York City. Accompanying Pat Stanley will be brown gelding War Dan (Bettors Delight-Kalypso (Safely Kept), formerly prepared at Lara by Amanda Grieve. “We’re pretty excited - Pat Stanley is a terrific horse with so much ability. The other one, War Dan, is extremely honest. They will both be suited to the racing over here—we’ve got no doubts that they’ll fit in the classes nicely,” Tritton said. “We’ve known Danny (Zavitsanos) and Warren (Viney), who own War Dan, for a long time, but this’ll be the first horse they have raced in the States,” he said. “This will take us up to 17 or 18 horses in work. The two latest ones coming over are quality and as long as we keep the ball rolling, all is good.” Team Tritton continues to tick along with regular winners. Early last week they broke new ground when USA-bred trotter La Dolfina was successful at Yonkers, driven by regular reinsman Jordan Stratton. “We trained a few trotters over the years when back in New South Wales but this was something a bit different.  We really didn’t expect to pick up one that was bred and owned in the US,” Shane said. “He’s owned by the three Betts brothers.  Scott Betts, the trainer, is based and races The Meadows, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and they thought La Dolfina would be suited to Yonkers. “They actually sent another three down to us as well. They’re hoping they may be better placed down our way.” The husband and wife team travelled to The Downs, Pocono, yesterday to compete at that venue for the very first time. “It was a special day for the country being Independence Day. They are so patriotic over here—they are proud to be Americans with flags outside their homes and buildings. All those things are a new experience for us and we’re just loving it.” The Tritton’s took three runners to the Pocono meeting and got the money with Letspendanitetogetha (1.50-4). It was the pacer’s second victory since making the US his home. Jordan Stratton again took the lines. Elsewhere in the US, former Kevin Pizzuto-trained speedster Majordan (Art Major-Benelise (Vintner) won his first North American start in 1.49-3 over the Scioto Downs 5/8ths mile track at Columbus, Ohio. Part-owner Gordon Banks posted that the pacer, who this year won the $100,000 Newcastle G1 Mile when handled by Todd McCarthy, was in front before the quarter in a zippy 26.2. “He then cut the half in 54.4, pulling away to win by two and a half widening lengths,” Banks added. “Thanks to Virgil Morgan Jnr for a great training job and to Brett Miller for a nice wire-to-wire drive. Also congratulations to our new co-owners in Ned Hodkinson and Milton Leeman.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Huge harness racing fan Stevie Blacker has shown an expert eye when it comes to buying former Kiwi pacers and now he's successfully branched off - as a driver. The likeable Blacker, who hails from Mortlake in Victoria's western district, had his first-ever official race drive at Mildura yesterday afternoon and came up trumps. He handled four-year-old gelding Kolovos (Bettors Delight-Queen Camille (Christian Cullen), a horse he owns, for his good mate, Horsham trainer Aaron Dunn. "The COVID-19 has played a bit of role because normally I'm right into football during the winter months and I'm usually umpiring," Blacker said. "But it was probably Aaron's father Barry who got me into it, because he was saying that there were very few trials drivers at Horsham, so why didn't I give it a go?" he said. So Blacker took his advice and got his licence to drive in trials. "After three drives I wasn't fussed either way, then I drove one of the horses I own, which I think was Cool and Calculated and he went super! That was the turning point. I thought: 'Wow! How long's this been going on?! "I started thinking about maybe driving in races, so I went to a lot of trials and there were heaps of people like Geoff Senior and others who were terrific in putting me on." Blacker said he had only recently been licenced to drive. "I sort of picked out the Mildura meeting for my first race drive. It did work out well when Aaron put Kolovos in with my five-point concession claim," he said. And Blacker did the rest...with all the poise of a veteran. Pushing Kolovos out of the gate, Blacker was unable to cross Tracer Bullet to get to the lead, but he didn't get flustered by having to race in the death-seat. When Tracer Bullet kicked to a narrow advantage on the home corner and appeared the winner, Blacker got to work urging Kolovos, who found plenty over the final stages to post a memorable and popular win. Watch the race replay here. Kolovos and Stevie Blacker after their memorable win Blacker grew up around horses. Some of his family was involved in thoroughbreds, but others were caught up by the legendary deeds of the mighty trotter of the 1970s, Maoris Idol (40 wins from 46 starts), trained by Ric Healy at Marnoo. "My brother and I spent hours when we were young playing around with an old cart, built like a sulky, that was made specially for us," Blacker said. "I suppose I did have in the back of my mind that one day I would like to have go at driving - but I really did think I'd missed my chance!" the 47 year old said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

After well over a decade of being mentored and working with some of the best, Kelly Stuart-Mitchell is about to launch her own harness racing career. The 31-year-old former Kiwi was granted a Victorian trainer's licence about five weeks ago. And she is wasting no time jumping in the deep end with her first starter going around at Cranbourne this Sunday night. Three-year-old bay gelding Hey Listen (Crazed-Catchya Maya (Yankee Spider) will make his debut in the $7000 Aldebaran Park Trot at 7.30 pm. The enthusiastic horsewoman has the pedigree for success, with her father Robert a former outstanding trainer, and her brother Todd a highly respected trainer-driver. "I grew up in a 'horsey' town, Cambridge, on the North Island," Kelly said. "There were always horses around when I was growing up because Dad had big teams in work and mum did the yearling preparations. I can clearly recall the first horse I ever got-it was given to me for my fifth birthday!" she said. "Dad enjoyed the square-gaiters and that may be rubbing off onto me a little because three of mine are trotters." Kelly has worked for some of the best along her journey, having had stints with legendary NZ Hall of Famer Barry Purdon for seven years and the formidable Victorian team, Andy and Kate Gath for five years. She also spent nine months with the highly-successful WA combination of Greg and Skye Bond. "They have all been a massive influence on me, not only as mentors, but as friends. As well I'm so grateful for all the help that Joe Pace is giving me. I'm working my horses out of his place at Melton and I just love it there," Kelly said. "I'm pretty excited to have my own starter after all this time. A win of course would be a fairytale, but I'm really just hoping that he does everything right," she said. "He didn't put a foot wrong in a recent trial and we were happy with the way he handled himself. There's quite a few owners in the horse, including my partner Darren Aitken, who along with my parents and family, is my greatest supporter." And while she's starting quietly, Kelly expects soon to build the stable to four, and eventually to get a good team together. "We have one in New Zealand that Todd is keeping ticking along while we're waiting for transportation to get it over here," she said. "I thoroughly love training them. I did drive in trials many years ago, but I'll leave that side of things to the experts!" Hoofnote: Robert Mitchell enjoyed success with Just An Excuse (Live Or Die-My Excuse (Smooth Fella) winner of two NZ Cups, the 2004 $75k Ballarat Pacing Cup and several other feature events. The gelding retired with 16 wins and eight placings from 27 starts for $877,000. Todd drove the superstar for his dad. Robert is now retired on a huge farm at Raglan, a small beachside town on the North Island of NZ, where he prepares yearlings for sale.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Stawell harness racing hobby trainer Ray Harvey makes no secret that he was ready to give up on many occasions with a young square-gaiter that had only one gear-and that was reverse! "It didn't matter what I tried, all he wanted to do was go backwards. He would barely take one step forward," Harvey said. "I've broken in quite a few over the years and never have I come across one like it before. But bless his little soul, that's all in the past and he's now the best horse I've ever had in my stables!" he said. And the aptly-named The Penny Drops (Danny Bouchea-Chilly Pepperell (Classic Adam) is certainly a bright prospect among Victorian trotting ranks, posting his eighth career win at Terang on Tuesday night. The four-year-old was bred and now raced by Harvey, his partner Moira Hateley, and friends Jim and Val Pickering. Harvey said one of the first times "Ronny" (The Penny Drops' stable name) got the idea of moving forward, was when their dog walked past. "The horse just set off following the dog. Another time Moira walked by and he followed her. So Moira then walked around our track, with the horse coming along behind her," he said. "So with this in mind, we got old Baltimore Boy (7 wins & 23 placings) who we retired five years ago, and tied him to the jog cart next to Ronny. That worked perfectly, and providing Ronny could hear the other horse, he was happily trotting-and in a forward direction! "After that day there hasn't been a problem and we could leave Baltimore Boy at home. But the two horses are now the best of mates. "We leased the dam Chilly Pepperell and bred from her. The Penny Drops has so far provided us with a great deal of enjoyment." Harvey, who is from a thoroughbred background, was a late arrival to the trotting game and came to train standardbreds by chance. "I was a jockey as a kid and later in Adelaide I rode over the jumps. I've worked for some top trainers, including the Cummings stable," he said. "I got a job at the Stawell racecourse, but because of the hours I was required to work, it was impossible to train gallopers. So I went into doing standardbreds about 10 to 15 years ago-and here I am still going and loving it." Now a truckdriver, Harvey said training standardbreds worked better around the couple's lifestyle. "You can train them at home whenever it suits and when I'm doing an early shift with truck driving, Moira takes care of the feeding duties before she heads off," he said. "Moira has also been involved in the thoroughbred side of things in the past. She has some show hacks at home and is right into it." The Penny Drops showed exceptional ability last season as a three-year-old with five wins and two placings from 14 starts. This season he has also been consistent with three wins and four placings from 11 outings. "We finished second, beaten a half neck in the 2020 TAB South Australian G1 $30,000 Trotters Cup, in February. I usually only give them two or three weeks off, but we went away, and he ended up having six weeks in the paddock," Harvey said. "He came back in with a bigger girth than me! It's has taken so long to get the weight off him. His first two starts back on May 30 and then June 18 sharpened him up and he looks okay now. "He's a nice, honest horse, but I'm sure there's improvement in him because he's so laid back and doesn't always go his hardest. "I put blinkers on him quite a while ago and that got his head in the game. I really believe he likes just being a type of social horse." Harvey is hoping for a start at Melton on Saturday week in a Winter Championship. "The mobile barrier start isn't really his go because he's not real quick, but hopefully we will be thereabouts," he said. Harvey has just finished breaking in two babies that are now out for a spell-both trotters. "I prefer them to pacers, but they can be more heart-breaking!" he admitted.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Over the years, Melbourne harness racing trainer-driver Mario Attard has tried his hand successfully at a number of business pursuits, but horses have always been in the background. Attard, based at Rockbank, just minutes away from Tabcorp Park, Melton, now admits that he's fully focused on his small team of pacers-and the results are certainly coming. Two of his three horses in Don't Hold Back (Courage Under Fire-Braeview Express (Badlands Hanover) and Power Of Faith (Art Major-Golden Showgirl (Armbro Operative) recently scored longshot wins at his home track. Three-year-old filly Power Of Faith started the ball rolling with a narrow victory on June 22 at bolter's odds of 40/1 and stablemate, seven-year-old stallion Dont Hold Back, joined the party with a win last Saturday night at 15/1. "I've been licensed for nearly 40 years, but during most of that time I was trying to run businesses and do the horses at the same time. To be honest, the horses probably weren't getting the care they needed," Attard said. "So I decided not all that long ago to give it my best shot. I'm a happy sort of guy, but I'm really enjoying it at the moment," he said. "I've nursed Dont Hold Back along for a number of years and now I'm going for broke with him. He ran a good fourth first up at Melton after a little break and then his last start win in 1.55-5 was solid." Dont Hold Back has been a marvellous performer for Attard with 14 wins and 11 placings from 52 starts for nearly $250,000. After starting out as an electronics technician, which involved making specialized gauges for refineries, Attard was lured to the automotive industry in the late 1980s. "I was one of the first in Melbourne to be qualified to convert motor vehicles to run on gas. I put in a huge amount of hours for probably 12 or 13 years," he said. "Then I went into curtains and drapes for a bit before running a big building business called New Look Homes Pty Ltd. I was in that with one of my sons, Ian, and we had four supervisors and a team of office staff. "It was successful, but one day I just thought to myself that I'd had enough. So I went and told Ian of my decision-he was okay with it because he'd had the same feelings. "There were a few other ventures. It was all fun and it certainly taught me how to deal with a lot in life, particularly learning how to read people. "We dabble in a bit of development now. But the boys take care of me. 'Leave it to us', they tell me! Our other son Darren has Dream Design Build in Melbourne, while the oldest, Karen, runs Que One Homes with her husband. "My wife Anna is my biggest supporter in harness racing, while our children and 10 grandchildren are in it for the fun." Attard was always going to be involved in the sport with his father Charlie being a successful trainer-driver for many years, while his late grandfather Tony was also a keen participant. Charlie, who still attends meetings with Mario, was associated with many great horses when training at nearby Sydenham. He was involved with such smart pacers as Lombo Limmo (23 wins including the 2008 Devonport Cup), Bells and Whistles (Moonee Valley 2yo recordholder, 12 wins, $99k), Oh Lord (21 wins, $40k, before continuing a successful career in the US), and Gold Glen (4 wins from just a handful of starts). "Dad had a great eye for a nice horse. He could pick them out and he never paid a lot. He was also very good with young ones and got them going, just by understanding them," Mario said. And the Attard father-and-son team will be back at Melton tonight with Power Of Faith, one of the top fancies in the IRT Australia 3yo Pace.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A Queensland harness racing trainer is being rewarded for his kindness after stepping in and saving a horse more than 1500 kilometres away. Respected horseman Alistair Barnes said a six-year-old pacer "caught his eye" as he was browsing over an Echuca saleyards catalogue obtained by his partner Cassie Saunders. "There was a well-bred thoroughbred mare being offered for sale and Cassie was interested in it," Barnes said. "But I just liked everything I saw about a pacer that was listed, a horse which was named Somebeachsomegift (Somebeachsomewhere - Ulanart (Perfect Art) -he'd only been to the races on 11 occasions and won the Southern Cross 3YO final in Adelaide and also won at Mildura, although admittedly, it was back in 2017!" Barnes said. "After making a few phone calls I was told the horse had broken down and had been virtually retired, but a girl I spoke to, who had a fair bit to do with him, was quite upset that he was at the saleyards," he said. "She was in the middle of moving house though and had nowhere to put him, and I promised her I'd rescue the horse and get him up to our place. It was in my mind I might be able to get him back to the races because over the years we've done pretty well at patching up horses with bad legs." Alistair and Cassie are based at Tallegalla, near Marburg, 60 kms from Brisbane, where they prepare a small team of pacers, including brilliant last start Redcliffe Gold Cup runner-up Northview Hustler. Barnes said after navigating the logistics of purchasing Somebeachsomegift and having him transported north to Queensland, he found him to have a bad tendon as well as stifle issues. "But I was confident with time and patience I could patch him up and told the girl that when I was finished racing him, she could have him back," he said. "It turned out that he was one of the easiest horses to fix up that I've ever had!" But when the pacer was ready to go to the races, Barnes encountered another hurdle with Somebeachsomegift having been deregistered. "That took ages to sort out. I had Harness Racing Victoria helping me and the stewards were terrific, along with the Harness Racing Authority. My parents Geoff and Lorraine, along with a close family friend, played a big role in sorting it all out. Their work behind the scenes was awesome," he said. Somebeachsomegift finally made it back to the races in May, nearly three years after he last raced. But, after scoring an emphatic sprint-lane victory at Albion Park (1:57.9) last week, the pacer is now repaying Alistair and Cassie's persistence. To watch the video replay click here "We got there in the end and he's rewarded us, with the win and three placings from eight starts in a pretty short time. He's sound as a bell, now, and should keep racing consistently. I'm just elated because later the horse will end up having a nice home." And Cassie and her thoroughbred from the saleyards? Well she was also a successful purchaser and is now the owner of a well-bred broodmare by High Chaparral, a former Irish champion racehorse who won 10 of his 13 race starts. "We've booked her into Tassort, a first-season sire who had just two starts for a five-length debut win in the Golden Gift followed by a second in the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes," Cassie said. "Al got lucky-so hopefully I do as well," she laughed. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Good luck and good fortune go hand in hand with harness racing - and horseshoes have been a symbol of good luck for centuries. And perhaps there was more than a slice of good fortune at Albion Park on Friday night when a horseshoe became a flying missile - and fortunately caused no harm. Several harness racing drivers could be excused for counting their lucky stars after the shoe dislodged from one of the starters in the first 60 metres of race six in Brisbane. It's invisible to the naked eye and on replay, but ace racetrack photographer Dan Costello was right on the spot to capture several brilliant shots that show how close the "lucky horseshoe" came to a number of runners. Experienced reinsman Darren Weeks, who was driving 40/1 chance Newmerella Ladykay, said he saw "something flash past" out the corner of his eye. "I gathered it was a shoe. There was probably a few of us a bit lucky-you certainly wouldn't have wanted it to hit you that's for sure," he said. For the race replay click here  The video of the race replay shows Grant Dixon in black and white checks, on Good As It Gets (no 3) and Shane Graham, wearing blue and white colors, on Vienna Boy (4), both running the gate and seemingly oblivious to the flying shoe as they concentrate on getting forward positions. Weeks (number two: Gold with purple diamond yokes) eased out of the speed battle at the start, but glances quickly across to his right side, and then looks back toward the racetrack as the shoe hits the surface. Stewards reported the shoe was cast from Notorious, driven by Dannielle McMullen (8), wearing bright red and purple colors. They started on the inside of the back row, directly behind Couldntbetold, Chloe Butler (1). Happily no harm done. This photo shows how lucky the drivers were not to be hit in the face just after the horseshoe starts its trajectory But what's the story behind the "luck" associated with horseshoes? Over the ages, people have hung them over their doorways to bring good fortune, rubbed them to ward off spirits, and used them on their racing colors in an attempt to bring good karma. Iron has long been believed to ward off evil spirits, and the shoes were traditionally held in place by seven nails - seven being considered the luckiest number. Myth has it that the tradition of hanging a horseshoe at the front door dates back to the tenth century, and a blacksmith named Dunstan. It is said that a man Dunstan recognised as the devil asked him to put horseshoes his hooves. The devil was in agony, and Dunstan chained him up, releasing him only after he promised never to enter a place that had a horseshoe hung over the door. Therefore, any house with a horseshoe was guaranteed to be lucky. But be careful with how you display your horseshoe-it's only good luck if the ends point upward so that the horseshoe can fill with luck. Well, it's a nice thought anyway!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

One of Dr Albert Schweitzer's most notable quotes was: "If you love what you are doing, you will be successful". And the German-born philosopher, if he was still alive, would certainly have a compelling example in passionate Ballarat region harness racing trainer Katrina Fitzpatrick. Perhaps Katrina's nickname in the industry, "Smiley", is also a bit of a giveaway! "I just love the horses. I could honestly spend all day mucking around with them," the livewire Ross Creek horsewoman said. "I've been in the sport for a long time. There's always been at least one horse around probably every day of my life," she laughed. Katrina's patience with four-year-old Dream Over paid dividends on Wednesday afternoon when he scored a well-deserved win in the Hillcroft Stables Trotters Handicap at Stawell. To watch the video replay click here. Driven perfectly in front by leading Ararat freelance reinsman Michael Bellman, Dream Over (Andover Hall-My Dreamweaver (Lindy Lane) won well from Show Me The Moola and Allawart Bob. "He had been placed in seven of his past nine runs and I'm pretty certain his previous win was at Stawell, so it's becoming a favorite track of mine!" Katrina said. "There's some big improvement in him yet because he's still learning. What we love about him is the way he knuckles down when the others come at him," she said. Katrina and Darren Fitzpatrick with reinsman Michael Bellman after Dream Over’s win at Stawell Katrina most definitely has a soft spot for the square gaiters, and obtained Dream Over through helping out Pat Driscoll, of Yabby Dam Farms. "When we got him, Pat did tell us that he was very immature and would take a while. In the early days, he was naughty as well, but we've really looked after him," she said. "Time is so important and sometimes you just have to be so patient with them. Pat actually gave us the horse because I'd been looking after some that needed care like changing bandages and that sort of thing." Katrina said she was happy with training only a small team of two these days, which is a far cry from the dozen she would prepare years ago, along with jogging up horses for trainers including the late Graeme Lang. "When we started a family, I think that was the right time to cut back. We have two lovely children in Jason and Kylie, and my husband Darren, is really supportive," she said. "We've just finished building a brand-new walk-in, walk-out shed for the horses!" Katrina admits she has had her share of luck with trotters over the years, having been involved with such smart performers as Irish Rhapsody, Hurricane Truscott, Reasons To Rule and Beau Bradie, But she's also enjoyed being associated with some handy pacers in Reasons, Chasing Chelsea and Docile Joe. And while she known mostly as a trainer, Katrina's driving career had some highlights as well, including getting off "to a flyer" when she tasted success at her very first drive. "It was at Kilmore on August 13, 1979, on a pacer named Michaels Joy trained by my late brother-that was such a special win and now means just so much," she said. Katrina went on to drive another five winners, but still rates a fifth placing at a night meeting at Moonee Valley as a big highlight. "I represented Victoria in the first-ever male and female invitational challenge. This included Deb Quinlan and Roma Pocock. That was a big privilege," she said. A race fall at Ballarat, which hospitalized her for a fortnight with a broken pelvis and other injuries, put a halt to her driving career. "I also got both my hands smashed up badly six years ago when a horse suddenly pulled back out of the float. That meant having plates and a lot of therapy. I'm now just sticking to the training part which I really love," she said. "Apart from Dream Over, who is our little champ at the moment, we have a well-bred yearling trotter that we're very happy with. "My love is for the trotter-but I do have hopples hanging up in the gear shed!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

The Team Tritton harness racing juggernaut rolled into Yonkers Raceway just before midday yesterday (AEST) - and a sentimental favorite brought home the chocolates at the Aussie stable's first look at the famed New York Raceway. Shane and Lauren Tritton have now won six of their eight starts since hitting the American tracks for the first time a little over a fortnight ago. Yesterday it was a stable favorite, the consistent Yayas Hot Spot (Jeremes Jet-Star Of Heaven (In The Pocket) posting a first-up US win and taking his career victories to 27. "He went super because he was up a bit in grade. Our driver Jordan (Stratton) thought the horse was day-dreaming and could have gone a little faster," Shane said. "We were very pleased with it. He went into the race a bit fat, so hopefully there's some improvement to come with more racing," he said. Yayas Hot Spot has been a great old horse for the Trittons, winning more than $620,000 so far in his career. "He won his first 10 starts with Lauren driving in seven of them, then he's been in two Miracle Miles and won the ($100,000 G1) Newcastle Mile early last year, so he's a pretty special horse for us," Shane said. "The half mile tracks just suit him down to the ground. When we were back home, we were always wanting to send him across to see how he'd go, but it just never worked in, so it's terrific to now be over here with him ourselves." The former Sydneysiders headed off in March this year with a team of a dozen horses to try their luck in the US. And while all the preparation work had been done, the couple is no doubt pinching themselves at how well their relocation is playing out so far. Yayas Hot Spot was their sixth winner, adding his name to a list of Meadowlands successes in Gods Spirit (1.50-1); My Ruebe Star (two wins - 1.50-1 & 1.50.3); Flaming Flutter (1.49-1); and Letspendanitetogtha (1.51). They have had another two starters. Ohoka Johnny ran third in 1.49-3, while Im A Director lost any chance when checked with 800 metres to go and suffering a flat tyre. "We've had an unbelievable start but we realize that it's going to get tougher from here," Shane said. "There's a few bad barrier draws coming up in our next couple of meetings and one of our starters in Foo Fighter is nearly in the open class," he said. "But we have to just aim on being consistent. All we can do is build on what we've learnt so far, putting in the work and doing our best." Tritton said they had received some enquiries from potential owners in recent weeks. "There's been a few reaching out to us and we'll have to sit down and weigh things up at some stage but our first priority is always to our loyal owners," he said. "We arrived here with a stable of 12 and then we've picked up another six since. We've got a few staff with us now and after knowing nothing about horses, they've come a long way!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

He was a favorite of Victorian harness racing circles for years, and now he's the idol of some possible future stars of the sport. Eight-year-old gelding Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder-Wya Wya Macray (Pacific Fella) is enjoying retirement at Larajay Farms, at Myrniong, the home of Greg Sugars and his wife Jess. A winner of 17 races and with earnings totaling $250,000 in an awesome career, Tee Cee Bee Macray, nick-named "Mason" around the stables, now has the role of nanny. "We had him next door to his baby sister and a few weanlings, then one day when we were shifting the weanlings, he carried on as if to say he wanted to be out with them," Jess said. "So we thought okay, we'll give it a try. And it's worked out absolutely perfectly because they know he's the boss. It's just terrific the way he keeps them in line. "Mason's always got a home here because he was a family favorite, particularly with my dad (the late Alan Tubbs), but this is really special. To be a babysitter, a horse has to have a unique personality and I probably don't know of too many others it would really suit." Jess said they had tossed around the idea of converting the family favorite into a riding horse. "But he suffered from a sore back towards the end and we really thought that might prevent him from going on and being suitable to ride," she said. Tee Cee Bee Macray was trained by Alan Tubbs and came to notice in his first run at Maryborough in December 2014, when after racing outside the leader, he ran a gallant fourth. He was driven in those early days by Jess's sister Amy Tubbs, who has since turned her talents to equestrian contests and is a regular competitor in the Level One events. Over the next 20 months, the pacer won 12 races (including a Vicbred Platinum final) and had five placings from 18 starts. Alan Tubbs battled kidney-related ill-health for many years, and when he passed away in October 2017, Jess took over the training of Tee Cee Bee Macray. "I don't think Greg and I have ever put so much into a horse to get it back into the winner's circle than what we did with Mason," Jess said. "It took us two years and 20 days to do it - that was the period since his previous win-but what a memorable and emotional night it was." And Tee Cee Bee Macray couldn't have picked a better night to return to peak form! It was at Melton's hugely popular Breeders Crown night and even the usually relaxed Sugars couldn't contain his emotions, saluting his whip in jubilation as they went over the line. To watch the video replay of this race click here "That was such a special victory. It was one for dad," Jess said. A trip down memory lane…Amy and the late Alan Tubbs after one of Tee Cee Bee Macray’s early wins The pacer thrilled harness racing fans over many years with fine wins. Even several of his performances behind the "best of the best" were outstanding. He finished third at Melton in late 2017 in the Smoken Up Sprint behind two stars in Lennytheshark and My Field Marshall in 1.51-9. Prior to that, he chased super mare Ameretto home in the $60,000 Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers FFA, beating San Carlo, My Kiwi Mate and Flaming Flutter, who are still going around today - certainly more than enough credentials to demand some respect from his young charges in the "nanny paddock"! "He's a special boy to us and to see him out in the paddock standing over six or seven weanlings while they are all lying down in the sun is lovely. It just warms my heart," Jess said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

With a wealth of experience behind her working for top harness racing stables in Australia and New Zealand, Amanda Grieve was always going to step up to the plate with the right opportunity. And that came eight months ago when her former boss, astute Lara horseman Dean Braun decided to move away from full-time training and concentrate on a few business ventures-exporting horses to the US and assisting his partner Pauline at her Melton Saddlery business. Needless-to-say, in her role as head trainer, Grieve has taken a similar approach to Braun. Put simply, concentrating on quality of horse flesh, rather than quantity. "I'm actually only training a small team of four at the moment. There are a few others out spelling such as Holy Basil, but I seem to be spending all day at the farm doing them. I don't know if I could do too many more," Grieve said. "We've been getting a fair bit of rain being near the coast. That tends to slow things down because I try to bring them inside if it starts getting too heavy." Grieve's latest success was at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night when talented youngster Pur Dan (Art Major-Collectable NZ (Mach Three) took out the TAB Long May We Play Pace. He was handled by star lightweight driver Kima Frenning. To watch the video replay of Pur Dan winning click here The win took Grieve to a tally so far this season of 11 wins, 15 second placings and 7 thirds for $122,000 in stakes. Her win/place percentage to race starters sits at an impressive 56 percent. Pur Dan, raced by well-known and successful owners in Danny Zavitsanos, of Geelong, and Warren Viney, of Tasmania, started his career in New Zealand under the care of Mark Purdon (hence the play on his surname in naming the horse: Pur Dan). "He won first up as a 2yo at Addington, and then had a second and a fourth. He's got a few issues and had a wind operation after those first three starts. Despite being quite lazy in getting him to do anything, he's a nice type and is an honest horse," Grieve said. "Kima was actually rapt with the win and told me later that he's still green and should keep showing a lot of improvement with more race experience." Grieve said that under the national ratings system, Pur Dan kept missing out on racing in his age group. "He always had a few too many points and was racing in the next grade. He was sent out a red hot favorite a few times, but he was far from disgraced being runner-up four times and had a third and a fourth," she said. Kima Frenning after her Melton success with Pur Dan Others in the Grieve stable are StaggerLee, War Dan and rising nine-year-old superstar Cruz Bromac. Grieve couldn't hide her excitement at again having Cruz Bromac back in her care. "Yes, he's my favorite. Horses like him don't come along all that often. We've had him back for a couple of weeks now," Grieve said. "He ran fifth in the Auckland Cup on New Year's Eve. He later had a problem in his leg or hoof. I don't think they could pin-point it, although most thought it was in his fetlock. "But there's no problems at all now. It's quite exciting because he's a brilliant horse. He will just be brought up nice and easy. It would be great to go back over later this year and defend his NZ Cup." Cruz Bromac ran third for Braun/Grieve in the Victoria Cup and then headed across to NZ for the Addington FFA (third) and the Inter Dominion series (a win, two placings prior to fourth in the final to All Stars' barn stablemate Ultimate Sniper). Over the years, Christchurch-born Grieve has had stints in NSW with greats in Paul Fitzpatrick and (uncle) Dennis Wilson, while in New Zealand, she worked for two of the best in Tony Herlihy and Cran Dalgety. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

Young Terang harness racing driver Matthew Horsnell is thoroughly enjoying life in Victoria's Western District - so much so that he reckons he's there to stay. Horsnell, 24, has been part of the powerful Marg Lee stable on a full-time basis for the past two years. "It does get pretty hectic at times when we're doing big numbers, but we get there in the end," he said. And while Horsnell doesn't mind one bit that he's down the pecking order when it comes to stable driving engagements, he's been making the most of his opportunities. "Jason (Lee) and Glen (Craven) are both excellent drivers and they are our main boys, but I'm more than happy to poke along and pick up a drive now and again," he said. Horsnell showed at the lastest Terang meeting that he's more than competent with a blowout victory on 25/1 chance Keayang Kreuzer (Somebeachsomewhere-Inasafeplace (Safely Kept). After briefly being wide early, Horsnell sent the three-year-old to the head of affairs and with steady splits of 31.1, 29.6, 28.9 and 28.8, they packed too many guns for warm favorite Gee Smith (Greg Sugars). "He deserved to win because he's just been so consistent with five placings from eight runs in a bit over two months of racing," Horsnell said. "I think the plan is to geld him and put him out for a while. He's going to do a nice job when he comes back in," he said. "In the past he's never shown a lot of gate speed because he's a very laid-back type. But we got across the field okay the other night. And I loved how he kept kicking when they got to his girth over the final stages." Horsnell, who is a grandson of Norm Armsden, a winner of the SA trainers' premiership when he was based over there, has had a great grounding since leaving school after Year 10 when he decided harness racing was his career path. "Pop was helping Danny and Jill Norris, of Little River, and training a few of his own there when I was growing up. I was always with him at weekends and later I spent time with the late Alan Tubbs. I now reckon I was a bit young when I was with Alan and didn't listen like I should have-looking back, he was such a smart trainer," Horsnell said. He then worked for Maree and John Caldow for two or three years and gained further experience. "The biggest reason for shifting to Terang was to learn from Marg. I'd been part-time for a bit and getting a full-time job at the stable was one of the best things I've ever done," he said. "We all get our work done, but the atmosphere is unreal. There's plenty of joking and a fair bit of ribbing goes on, but I just really enjoy it. They also let me train a few of my own at the place too, which is great. I'm in for the long haul and I'll still be here for years to come." Horsnell said his parents David and Kim were keen supporters. "Dad owned a few horses with his father Harry and some of them were pretty good, including one in Hail Claudia." The pacer, by Jefs Emperor out of Star Courier (Royal Derby), won 12 races and 18 placings for $55,000 in the late 1990s. Horsnell is enjoying a steady season with nine wins and 24 placings. "I haven't been doing that much driving as I had a knee reconstruction, courtesy of football. I've still got some metal screws inserted. I should retire, but I love the game. I probably should just stick with the horses."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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