Picture: Nikkita Ross Photography
Perfectly pink: This group of female drivers recently competed in a special lady drivers’ race at the Pink Ribbon fundraiser trots meeting at Cobram. Four of them — Bec Bartley, Donna Castles, Lisa Bartley and Stacey Towers — were in the winners’ circle in a huge night out for female drivers at last Friday night’s Shepparton meeting. The line-up at Cobram was (from left) Tiana McMahon, Lisa Bartley, Allison Short, Brooke McPherson, Monique Burnett, Lisa Miles, Rebecca Bartley, Tania Ward, Michelle (breast care nurse), Bronte Lee, Donna Castles, Laura Crossland, Juanita Breen and Stacey Towers.
The girls certainly had a big night out at the Shepparton trots meeting last Friday.
In an Australian first, seven of the 11 winners on the program were driven by female drivers.
Donna Castles (Maggies First), Guilty Hanover (Tanya Cavallaro), Rebecca Bartley (Innovate) set the mood early by winning the first three races respectively.
These three winners of course are mares or fillies. In fact five of the 11 winners on the night were mares or fillies.
After the first three races Space Junk (Gavin Lang) and Repeat After Me (Brian Gath) struck a blow for the boys by winning the next two races. But it was the girls’ turn again in the next three.
Kate Gath won on Van Mara, Stacey Towers scored in the trot on Chevaux Rainbow, while Bec Bartley completed a driving double at the meeting on San Carlo.
Then Bec’s sister Lisa kept the winners coming for the girls when she reined Royal Capone to victory.
The final two winners, Shestryingtactics and Scotlynn Beach, were driven by Josh Duggan and Nathan Jack, but there was also a female touch to the win of Scotlynn Beach as it is trained by Amanda Turnbull.
What was the reason for the female dominance on the night?
The club’s general manager Ian McDonald has a viable theory.
‘‘GV Nuts and Confectionary donated a box of chocolates to every winning driver on the night, so when you have a think about it and knowing how women love their chocolate, they were naturally even extra-keen to win.’’ Good one Macca. McDonald also said punters also warmed to backing the female drivers after they had won the first three races and many stuck with them for the rest of the meeting, so they had really good night.
Maggie hot to trot
Four-year-old mare Maggies Grin has certainly kicked on in her career during the past six months.
At last Friday night’s Shepparton meeting she won her fourth race this season when she upstaged some talented rivals over the 1690 m trip.
Trained by Max Govers at Invergordon and driven by Donna Castes, Maggies Grin fully utilised her poleline barrier draw to lead from pillar to post, posting a personal best mile rate of 1.56.6.
She dug deep in the home straight to ward off several challengers from the runner-up Hezthebigbopper and Okonlyok with a half neck separating the placegetters.
By Grinfromeartoear, Maggies Grin is from the D M Dillinger mare Princess Niffe, a winner of 10 of her 50 starts and who has left another winner in Bubbas Princess.
Maggies Grin didn’t win a race in four starts as a three-year-old, but has now clocked up four wins, three seconds and a third in 19 outings as a four-year-old.
Perfect Bartley drive
Shepparton trainer Dean Chandler and reinswoman Bec Bartley combined with pacer Innovate to deliver a knockout blow to early quaddie punters at the Shepparton meeting.
Innovate was a 58/1 shot on the tote and accounted for Ridethewildside and Thrilling Jolt in a C1 Only class race courtesy of a perfect Bec Bartley drive.
Innovate is a five-year-old mare by Dawn Ofa New Day out of the lightly raced but winning Panorama mare Cradle Rain.
Innovate had not won a race in 33 starts until he scored at the Cobram meeting on March 22 and his latest win has taken his record to two wins and two minor placings from 38 starts.
Space Junk salutes
Innovate was the first winner of a stirring double at the Shepparton meeting for Empire Stallions Dawn Ofa New Day.
In the following race Space Junk completed back-to-back wins for Merrigum trainer Brett Bunfield and reinsman Gavin Lang.
Space Junk was coming off a win the previous week on the track and has now saluted three times and has been placed twice in only six starts.
The three-year-old gelding was ushered forward at the start by Lang from a second-row draw to eventually work to the front and then comfortably held off all challengers in the run to the judge with a 28.2 last quarter in an impressive effort.
Age certainly isn’t wearying trotting mare Chevaux Rainbow.
The Mark Lee-trained and Stacey Towers-driven eight-year-old daughter of Yankee Paco lined up for her 116th start at Shepparton last Friday night — and delivered the goods again.
Chevaux Rainbow was second last at the bell, but was up to the challenge of running down some quality opponents despite being forced to race three-wide and fourwide over the last 800 m.
Kyabram-trained Black Valley surged to the front down the home stretch, but was pegged back by Chevaux Rainbow over the concluding stages.
Chevaux Rainbow has now won 12 races and close to $75 000, so has been a good horse to connections.
Carlo bounces back
Exciting Shepparton-trained pacer San Carlo didn’t take long to get back into the winning habit.
Beaten but far from disgraced at his previous start at Melton in a hot field, the six-year-old son of Mach Three was just classy for some talented rivals in a C6 or better class race at the Shepparton meeting.
The Steve O’Donoghue-trained and Bec Bartley-driven pacer who was ‘‘hopeless as a younger pacer’’ — his trainer’s words — has now won 12 of his 14 starts with one third placing and has won almost $75 000 in stake earnings.
The Bartley girls had a good night at the Shepparton meeting with Bec’s sister Lisa reining Royal Capone to a win for Mernda trainer, Ian Dornauf, in a C1 class race.
Second career win
Not many 1690 m races at Shepparton are won in 2.05.3 mile rate time but Shestryingtactics did at last Friday night’s meeting.
Driver Josh Duggan sat at the rear of the field on the Jeff Gledhilltrained five-year-old Sportswriter mare, but she was up to the challenge of rounding up her rivals over the concluding stages in a crowded finish in a CO-2 class race.
Shestryingtactics got up to beat Taypastime and Shot To Stardom to claim her second career win from just the 14 starts. Her other win on April 7 this year was also on the Shepparton track.
Reason for the slow mile was cheap sectionals, which the leader Advanced Warfare was able to get away with early in the race.
Life’s a beach
Scotlynn Beach completed a big week for the Amanda TurnbullNathan Jack team with a win in a restricted class race at the Shepparton meeting last week.
The three-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere was having just his fifth race start and his fourth in Australia after one start in New Zealand.
Jack urged Scottlyn Beach to the front early in the race and he fended off a challenge from the Isabel Walsh-trained Tabatha Bromac with Sunrose Master a distant third.
The Turnbull-Jack team had had a big week with a treble at the Kilmore meeting on the Wednesday and a win with top young trotter Custodian at Bendigo on the Thursday night.
Custodian tackles the NSW Derby tomorrow night in which fellow Victorian Deltasun looks the obvious danger in a $50 000 race, which has attracted a disappointing six starters.
Avenel-based reinswoman Kima Frenning landed her first driving double in Australia last week at the Bendigo meeting.
Frenning scored on the Lance Justice-trained Art Keeper who upset the odds-on favourite Platinum Power and then reined home Marylebone for a well-deserved win for her boss David Aiken in a CO Only mares event.
Marylebone had chalked four successive third placings going into the race, so certainly deserved her win, the third of her 20-start career.
A three-year-old daughter of Modern Art and the smart racemare Dazed And Confused, Marylebone sat parked outside the leader Santa Madre for the trip, but proved too strong for the pacer in a two-horse war to the finishing line.
Elmore-trained Calaquendi notched her second career win with a start-to-finish performance at last week’s Charlton meeting.
Trained and driven by Matt Higgins, Calaquendi was able to hold the lead from barrier one over the 2100 m trip and comfortably held off all challengers in the straight to account for Playing The Ace and Tarleton Joe with a 58.9 last half.
The four-year-old daughter of Lis Mara out of the multi-winning mare Panslilsweetheart was having only her 14th trip to the races and chalked up her first win at a Cobram meeting on March 22.
Another district winner at last week’s Charlton meeting was the Rochester-trained Artikulate Miss.
The Mark Thompson-trained four-year-old Art Major mare who was driven by Todd Matthews has now won three of his last six starts after been placed only three times in his first 21 outings
Meetings coming up
The Jack Hunter Memorial Trotters race will be a feature at next Wednesday night’s meeting at Echuca.
A long serving stalwart of the club Hunter was also a successful hobby trainer who trained some smart horses in the 1960s though to the 1980s including Blue Atom who won 33 races and Adios Spring. Friday: Ballarat (n) Saturday: Melton (n) Sunday: Cranbourne (d) Monday: Melton (d) Tuesday: Bendigo (n) Wednesday: Horsham (d), Echuca (n) Thursday: Maryborough (d), Geelong (n