Shepparton Harness Racing Club’s reigning Trainer of the Year Laura Crossland has again come off second best with her star youngster Lochinvar Art in the draw for the Victoria Derby heats at Ballarat tomorrow night.
Picture: Shepparton Harness Racing ClubLots of delight: Danny Frawley along with the connections of Im Pats Delight and reinsman Gavin Lang take it all in after winning the Shepparton Gold Cup.
NSW visitor Muscle Factory has again trumped Lochinvar Art in the draw for their much-anticipated return clash in the second heat of the blue riband feature.
The Trittons have drawn perfectly in barrier three with Muscle Factory, while Lochinvar Art has to come from barrier seven, the outside of the front row.
Muscle Factory drew the pole and led throughout to beat Lochinvar Art by just more than 6 m in the Simpson Memorial at Menangle on January 5.
With the race run in record Australasian sub 1:50 mile rate time Lochinvar Art, who came from an extreme outside front row barrier draw, lost no admirers with his brave performance.
He is likely to have to race outside Muscle Factory again which will make his task that much harder.
Crossland is happy with her horse, which will be driven by his regular reinsman David Moran, but admits he has got a tough task from his barrier.
Lochinvar Art won’t be the only northern Victorian-trained runner seeking Derby glory in the series.
Avenel training maestro David Aiken is represented in two heats, while in-form Elmore trainer Keith Cotchin also has a genuine chance of qualifying a finalist.
The Aiken-trained Malcolms Rhythm and the Cotchin-prepared Betternbetter clash in the first heat, but both have to overcome second row draws and some talented rivals.
Aiken has a serious contender with a good draw in the third heat in Max Delight who will come from barrier three and has the services of top NSW reinsman Todd McCarthy.
Reinswoman Kima Frenning has a big night in store at Ballarat, not only driving the Aiken-trained Malcolms Rhythm, but also the pacer she trains, Buster Brady, in the $110 000 Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup.
Buster Brady will come from barrier five and will take on a hot field including New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer, recent Inter Dominion placegetters Cruz Bromac and Our Uncle Sam and also last week’s Shepparton Cup runner-up Our Triple Play.
Jack’s literally flying
It’s been a big week for Euroa horseman David Jack with winners at Swan Hill, Shepparton, Melton and Mildura.
Comeback pacer Deeceeten got the ball rolling for Jack in a C0 Only heat last week at Swan Hill.
Sidelined for more than two years the Jack-trained and driven son of Rocknroll Hanover scored his first win for nearly two-and-a-half years.
He then followed up that win on Tuesday night, taking the final with another all-the-way win at Mildura.
Deeceeten showed he had his share of ability at an early age when he saluted at Globe Derby in his first two starts as a two-year-old.
But Jack said after his two-yearold appearances he kept jarring up when he was in work and in the end he put him in the spelling paddock for a long rest to see what happened.
‘‘He was virtually on his last chance when he came into work this time, but so far it’s been good,’’ Jack said.
Jack was in the winner’s circle at the Shepparton Gold Cup meeting with smart four-year-old trotting mare Princess Milo.
Making her return to racing after being competitive at the highest level in her sex and age group as a three-year-old, Princess Mila showed her rivals a clean pair of plates at the start from barrier seven and was never headed in a heat of the Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship.
Princess Mila, who was having her first start since July, was sent out the $1.60 favourite in the 1690 m dash and returned a respectable mile rate of 2:02.6 which included a 59.4 last half.
Jack was back again in the winner’s circle on Monday night, producing another of his promising trotters to win after a long spell.
This time it was Moreton Bay who was too slick for his rivals in a three-year-old trot at Melton.
Again it was a pillar-to-post effort by the son of Majestic Son who has now been produced nine times for five wins and four minor placings.
Summas a pearler
The Jacks were well to the fore last week at Swan Hill.
Apart from David Jack winning with Deeceeten, his Sheppartonbased brother, Russell, produced the extra-smart Three Summas to win the main feature, The Blue Pearl Classic, a race restricted to female drivers.
Shepparton reinswoman Bec Bartley partnered Three Summas to his fifth successive win, achieved with another dashing front-running display.
Bartley had Three Summas on the pegs leading early and the fouryear-old son of Somebeachsomewhere comfortably held off the Andy Gath-trained Arden Voyager with the previously unbeaten Sunraysia-trained pacer Mallee Reactor a close up third in his first loss in six starts.
It’s the second straight female drivers’ race Three Summas has won.
He also won the Lady Drivers’ Invitational at Leeton on January 1.
Three Summas continues to build an impressive record with the latest win his eighth from 16 starts with five minor placings and more than $84 000 in prizemoney.
An Ideal bonus
Western Ideal gelding Kellys Ideal didn’t take long to pick up the bonus for his first Victorian win.
Shepparton trainer Laura Crossland said the four-year-old gelding had been in her barn only two weeks when he stepped out to make his Victorian debut at Shepparton on Saturday night.
While Crossland encountered a torrid drive with Kellys Ideal pulling hard outside the pacesetter and favourite Roll Along Styx, Kellys Ideal out-toughed his rivals to get the win.
The winner and runner-up were out on their hooves getting down the home straight in a leisurely 33.8 final split.
Bred and owned by prominent Wagga breeder Dianne Kelly, Kellys Ideal was having his 11th trip to the races which have now produced three wins.
And he probably earned an extended stay at the Crossland stables into the bargain.
Taking it to the Max
Max Delight. It’s a name — all going well — we should hear a lot more of.
At Shepparton on Saturday night the Bettors Delight three-year-old put all his rivals contesting the Victoria Derby heats at Ballarat tomorrow night on notice with an emphatic win.
The David Aiken-trained and driven Max Delight made it five wins from 11 starts in outclassing his rivals, cruising to the line more than 20 m clear of runner-up Vena May with another sizeable gap to the third placegetter Luckie.
It was the Bettor Delight colt’s third run as a three-year-old and completed successive wins at Shepparton.
It will be a lot tougher in his derby heat tomorrow night, but he is ideally drawn in barrier three and ready to give some serious cheek on his current form.
The big surprise about Crocodile Kid’s win at Shepparton on Saturday night was his price.
On form the Armbro Operative gelding looked one of the main players, but rather surprisingly was sent out a $5.60 chance, the fourth favourite in the six-horse field.
Punters plumped for the Stuart Govers-trained Ramblenroller to win the race on the strength of an eye-catching third to Higherthananeagle at Cobram, although beaten by 17 m.
With the David Aiken-trained and Kim Frenning-driven Higherthananeagle franking that form with another runaway win earlier in the Shepparton program, punters came for Ramblenroller as their get-out bet.
But a well-judged drive by trainer Noel Tyndall landed Crocodile Kid an easy winner in the R1 or better class race, beating Jules Peach with Ramblenroller third.
Crocodile Kid posted a PB 1:57 mile rate in chalking up his fourth win for the season and his seventh career win.
No ifs or Butts
Anthony Butt, driver of Let It Ride, the well-fancied f lop in the Shepparton Gold Cup, was questioned by stewards regarding the performance of the gelding.
Tiring badly from 500 m and finishing last, 100 m from the winner, Im Pats Delight, Butt explained he made the decision to hold the front running as he felt it was his best chance of beating the local hope San Carlo who was pressuring him for the lead.
Butt said in hindsight, and given what transpired, Let It Ride NZ may be better driven in this class of race in future in a more conservative manner.
Butt also said Let It Ride NZ overraced which in his opinion contributed significantly to the poor performance.
A post-race veterinary examination of Let It Ride NZ failed to reveal any obvious abnormalities.
Gone not forgotten
Elmore trainer Keith Cotchin’s recent hot run has continued with more winners during the past week.
Cotchin produced five-year-old mare Gone Too Far for a win in a C3-C4 class event last week at Kilmore and the exciting Betternbetter for another impressive triumph at Melton last Friday night.
Gone Too Far notched her eighth win from 32 outings in claiming the honours.
The mare’s reinsman Ryan Duffy won the race at the start by getting the Big Jim mare to take up the front running and from that position she dictated the terms.
A winner two starts previously at Echuca in mid-December, Gone Too Far cruised to the line with more than 7 m to spare over the runner-up, Shawami Lass, with Art Prevails filling the minor placing.
Rochester-owned Betternbetter, a dashing winner on his return to racing at Kilmore, followed that win with another effortless victory at Melton in a hit-out for his Victoria Derby heat appearance at Ballarat tomorrow night.
In a good Rhythm
Reinswoman Kima Frenning and pacer Malcolms Rhythm get along just fine.
So good in fact that whenever they have tackled a race together they have never been beaten.
Last week at Kilmore the pair combined for their fifth successive win, all achieved since September.
Malcolms Rhythm had five winless starts for trainer David Aiken before Frenning took the reins of the Art Major three-year-old and the pair has never looked back.
In their latest win Frenning sent Malcolms Image straight to the front and he zipped home in 56.1 which left his rivals in his wake.
He had 14 m to spare over his nearest rival, the Keith Cotchintrained Brackenreid at the finishing line.
Malcolms Rhythm lines up in a heat of the Victoria Derby at Ballarat tomorrow night.
Jumping Jack flash
Talented Amanda Turnbulltrained pacer Augustus Jack won his third race in his past five starts when he scored at Swan Hill last week.
The four-year-old Art Major gelding upstaged the Kerryn Manningtrained and driven favourite Queen Shenandoah to claim the win in a C2 Only class race.
Young reinsman Brad Chisholm settled Augustus Jack three back on the pegs and was able to run down the favourite with a blistering final burst.
He has now saluted four times with six placings in 14 starts.
Among his owners are Shepparton Harness Racing Club stalwart Laurie Cormican and a former Kyabram Football Club coach Rob Egan.