Goulburn Valley administrators, owners, breeders, trainers, drivers and horses were well to the fore at the Gordon Rothacker Medal night at Melbourne’s Crown Casino last Sunday night when Harness Racing Victoria honoured its high achievers for the 2017-18 season.
Picture: Emmanuel MbalaStarring role: Ian Purdey shows off his award with his wife Julie on Sunday at the Gordon Rothacker Medal night.
In individual accolades, Cobram Harness Racing Club’s Bob Watson claimed the Secretary of The Year award, while former Kyabramite Ian Purdey was named the Trots Clubs Victoria Volunteer Service Award winner.
Watson said ‘‘it was a real shock to win it really’’ and paid tribute to his wife Margaret for her support in sharing his workload and also the club’s hard working committee.
The man affectionately known as ‘‘Purd’’, who was a foundation member of Kyabram Trotting Club in 1969 and gave the club continuous service since in a variety of roles including secretary, treasurer and course commentator until stepping down recently after a retirement move to Melbourne, said he was ‘‘overwhelmed’’ with his honour.
‘‘We started in 1969 at Kyabram with a big clay patch and built a track the size of the Old Showgrounds and built some barns,’’ he said.
‘‘Today we’ve got a very proud club that has done wonderful things for trotting in the Kyabram area.
‘‘But this award is for the club. The late Bill Shellie did most of the ground work to get the club up and running and a lot of people have supported it and have ensured its continued success over the years.
‘‘There are over 30 trainers who use the Kyabram track today and there are 60 permanent horses at the complex being trained there, so it’s a facility the town and industry should be proud of,’’ Purdey told the 500-strong crowd.
District-bred, owned and trained pacers and trotters claimed some of the top awards on the night.
Blanche and Dean Poole of Rhiannon Park stud Congupna bred the star pacer Jilliby Kung Fu who was named Victorian Horse of the Year.
The now retired David Aikentrained pacing great Lennytheshark got the Aged Pacing Entires-Gelding gong, while the former Mark Pitttrained and driven Shez All Rock was named Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year.
Lennytheshark won an Inter Dominion heat and finished second in the Group One Ballarat Cup and fourth in the Group One Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup.
Shez All Rock also finished third in the Victorian Horse of the Year category.
Shez All Rock was judged on her performances when trained in Victoria by Emma Stewart and then Mark Pitt and the Victoria and New South Wales Oaks were among her achievements.
‘‘I’m sure she’ll do well over in America. There’s been plenty of super fillies out there, but I think this one is right up there with them,’’ Pitt said.
Euroa breeders Bill and Anne Anderson won the Three-Year-Old Colt-Gelding of the Year with their talented youngster Poster Boy, while Rochester owner Neville Pangrazio won the Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year award with the NSW Oaks winner Moonshine Linda.
The Andersons also claimed the Breeder of the Year title.
Brilliant youngster Always Ready, who has Kyabram owners, won the Victorian Two-Year-Old Male Trotter of the Year award.
The Anton Golino-trained Always Ready had eight starts for four wins, three seconds and a third in his first season of racing and the Vicbred Super Series final and Tatlow Stakes features were among his wins.
Out to beat the Tiger
The Goulburn Valley has two key players in tomorrow night’s $50 000 Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup.
The David Aiken-trained Audi Hare and star Steve O’Donoghue-trained pacer San Carlo are in the eight-horse field contesting the 2555 m marathon.
Both are last start winners with Audi Hare, who will be driven by David Moran, coming up with the best draw in barrier three, while San Carlo has gate six.
Audi Hare continued his rise through the ranks for Aiken to win at Melton last Saturday night and is set to run another bold race tomorrow night from his suitable draw.
San Carlo returned to racing from a long break two weeks ago to win the Italian Cup at Mildura and will have benefited from that run and is also expected to make a bold victory bid with Bec Bartley in the sulky.
The recent Victoria Cup winner, the NSW pacer Tiger Tara, is in the star-studded field and is the sole runner off the second row, but is still the one to beat.
Lohki strikes blow
Harston horseman Dennis Paton delivered the death knell to most quaddie punters at Bendigo on Monday night when he produced Lord Lohki for a boilover win.
The six-year-old, driven a patient race by Damian Wilson, got up in a blanket finish at tote odds of $65 which was generous given he had run a creditable third at his previous start at Yarra Valley last week.
Lord Lohki, who made it four wins with the victory, certainly put some value into the quaddie which paid more than $45 000.
Laura to the double
Shepparton trainer Laura Crossland struck twice with former NSWtrained pacers at the Swan Hill Cup meeting last Friday night.
Pacers Reincarnate and Golden Year were having their first start for Crossland and were driven confidently by David Moran.
After running second at Shepparton at his previous start when trained by Wagga horseman Colin McLachlan, Reincarnate gave a dashing display after working to the front early.
He spreadeagled his rivals to win by nearly 23 m in the softest win on the night.
Reincarnate is a four-year-old Four Starzzz Shark gelding out of the winning Panorama mare Wish An Order and was having his seventh trip to the races.
Golden Year prevailed in a C0 Only class race in career best 1:56.6 mile rate time over the 1750 m trip.
A son of Art Major, Golden Year had won three races and placed five times in 18 previous starts in NSW when prepared by John McCarthy.
He out-toughed his rivals after being left in the death seat early from a wide draw.
In a fruitful couple of days Moran followed up his driving double at Swan Hill by partnering the classy David Aiken-trained Audi Hare to victory at Melton the following night .
Might of Joe
Shepparton-trained pacer Allmighty joe louis completed successive wins and three wins at his last four outings when he saluted at Swan Hill.
The Clive Dalton-trained Roll With Joe five-year-old was a $1.70 favourite and got the job done in a C2-C3 class race with Greg Sugars driving.
All mighty joe louis won four races in Western Australia before coming east to be trained by Dalton who has produced the gelding six times for three wins, two seconds and a third which have swelled his prizemoney earnings to more $106 000.
Boss shut out by Gate
The David Aiken-trained Im The Boss got within an agonising halfhead of another country cup triumph at Swan Hill last Friday night.
In a top training performance Michael Stanley produced the somewhat forgotten Menin Gate to deprive Im The Boss of victory in the $30 000 feature.
Menin Gate, a star juvenile and now a seven-year-old who had not raced since early last year, had trialled well for his return to racing under his new trainer.
But Im The Boss, who raced in the death seat for most of the 2790 m marathon, certainly lost no admirers with his gallant effort.
The Swan Hill Trotters Cup produced a blowout result with the exKiwi King Denny, a $27 chance, upstaging the more fancied runners to win his first Australian race at his 13th try.
Making good Interest
When talking consistency trotter Shared Interest is a good starting point.
Since returning from an injuryenforced almost two years break on the sidelines in 2016, the Russell Jack-trained son of Angus Hall has faced the starter 28 times for 25 top three finishes which have included eight wins.
The latest win was achieved last week at Kilmore when Shared Interest came off a back mark of 30 m to comfortably account for his rivals with Brad Chisholm in the sulky.
Chisholm was able to get the seven-year-old into a winning position early in the race and he was never going to lose.
It was the trotter’s ninth win and with his 17 minor placings he has accumulated more than $87 000 in stakemoney earnings.
Shared Interest displayed his talent from an early age and was second to Eljaykay Phoenix in the Breeders Crown final as a two-year-old.
It proved a fruitful couple of days for Jack as he also had a winner, Rockon Angel, at Wagga the following day.
Rockon Angel, driven by Mitch Turnbull and a $17 chance, beat the former Damian Wilson-trained pacer Leakys Smokin, now with David Kennedy in the Riverina.
Wilson drove the Dave Farrartrained Heres A Real Go into fourth place in the same race.
Shepparton reinsman Nathan Jack was also a winner at Wagga, partnering the Amanda Turnbull-trained Our Positana to victory at long oddson.
Making right Moves
Talented trotter All the moves returned from a two-month break in winning style last week at Cobram.
The four-year-old Muscles Yankee mare and Col Du Galibier were sorted out as the top fancies by punters in the 2170 m T0 or better trotters handicap and they were spot on.
The Patrick Ryan-trained and David Moran-driven Allthemoves fought out the finish with the Mark Lee-trained and Stacey Towers-driven Col Du Galibier nearly 18 m clear of their nearest rivals.
It was Allthemoves’ second win in 22 tries, but she has been a consistent performer with 11 minor placings as well.
It’s fact not fiction
Five-year-old gelding Mystery Writer broke through for his first win when he scored in a C0 Only class race at Cobram last week.
Kevin Weidenbach Jr can take a lot of credit for the win with his drive on the pacer trained by his mother Rosie.
Weidenbach Jr worked Mystery Writer to outside the leader, Gallifrey Penny, with a lap to go and his initiative was rewarded when he got a sit for the final lap on the back of Just Dad who had tracked him to the death seat.
Under Weidenbach’s urging in the straight Mystery Writer dashed clear and comfortably held all challengers at bay in an impressive effort.
Bred by Neville Cranston Mystery Writer is owned by colourful Numurkah identity Bill Gread and was having his eight start for the Weidenbachs.
That’s the way Nikolay
Echuca’s Mick McMahon was another district trainer to be rewarded with a win at Cobram with a pacer who has been crying out to salute again.
McMahon puts the polish on Dallas Nikolay who had chalked up six minor placings in nine starts leading into Cobram.
Ellen Torney drove a patient race on Dallas Nikolay near the trail of the field and didn’t wind him up until the home bend. But he charged home to nab Manonthemoon and the pacemaker and favourite Lighting Colony in a busy finish.
It was the six-year-old son of Art Official’s fifth win.
A winning encounter
Bunbartha horseman John Newberry upset the two fancied runners when Village Encounter sprint laned to victory in a C2-C3 class race at Cobram.
After holding the lead early on the Village Jolt mare, from barrier one, Newberry handed up the front to the well fancied Random Task before taking the short way home in the straight to beat Random Task and Some Change, who had raced in the death seat.
Punters who found Village Encounter were on good terms with themselves at the finishing post as she was a 16/1 shot.
It was the five-year-old mare’s fifth win.