Draws have dimmed, but not dented the chances of northern Victoriantrained hopefuls in tomorrow night’s Group One $200 000 Victoria Derby at Melton. Shepparton-trained Lochinvar Art has drawn barrier 10 — three off the second row — while the David Aiken-trained Max Delight and Malcolms Rhythm have also come up with challenging draws in barrier seven and 12, respectively. Most favourably drawn of the heat winners is the New Zealander Im Another Masterpiece, who has drawn barrier five, but will come into barrier four with the emergency Demon Delight drawn in barrier one. Lochinvar Art, Max Delight and Malcolms Rhythm all put in solid heat runs last Saturday night to book their spots in the lucrative final. The Laura Crossland-trained and David Moran-driven Lochinvar Art was put into the action early from a horror draw and was a solid third in his heat to the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen prepared Im Another Masterpiece. Max Delight led throughout to win his heat in the slowest time of the three heats, while stablemate Malcolms Rhythm put in an eyecatching finish to run third to one of the top fancies for the final Hurricane Harley. Hurricane Harley also has to contend with a second row barrier tomorrow night, so the draw has opened up the race considerably, although Im Another Masterpiece looks the benchmark. David Aiken has a big night in front of him at Melton tomorrow night with runners in most of the features. He will be represented by Makes Every Scents in the Group One $100 000 Ladyship Cup, but again has to contend with a second row draw in barrier eight. Another of the Aiken runners, Big Jack Hammer, has also come up with a second row draw in the trotters $250 000 Group One Great Southern Star, a race the Shepparton-owned Sky Petite will also contest from barrier four. An outside front row draw with Aldebaran Crescent in the $30 000 Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship also was not the news Aiken wanted to hear. Euroa-trained Princess Mila also fared badly in the draw for this feature with barrier nine. But there was some better news draw-wise for Aiken with his stable star Wrappers Delight drawn to run a big race from barrier two in the Group Two $50 000 Casey Classic. Another of the Aiken team, Higher than an eagle, has also bucked the stable trend to draw well, also in barrier two, in a $20 000 heat of the Rising Stars Pace. Trots fans are in for an enthralling night at Melton with four Group One features and several Group Two and Three support races on a superstar loaded 10-race card.
Ferris makes big call
When Danny Ferris makes an assessment of a horse, there is a lot of experience and thought behind it. With hand-on ties to the industry dating back 46 years, the Congupna horseman made a significant statement after four-year-old mare Dayseedee won a C0 only class race at Cobram on Monday. Ferris has declared Dayseedee as the quickest horse he has trained. Ferris has been associated with some smart horses in his time, so it is a statement that carries considerable weight. Dayseedee paid more than 50-1 on the tote, but that generous price is probably explained by the fact Ferris does not bet. He admits to having one bet in his career that was a winner, but he is of the opinion he works too hard to risk punting his hard-earned on horses. Dayseedee, who led all the way for an arrogant win, was resuming from a lengthy spell, designed to give her every chance to mature because she has been a mare with some tricks. Ferris admitted he did not know what to think when she failed to fire in a trial when preparing for her return to racing. ‘‘I took her home and worked her there before taking to Cobram and she was a different horse,’’ Ferris said. Ferris has been in the industry long enough to know making predictions can often come back to haunt you, but admits he would be disappointed if Dayseedee did not go on and win some nice races. She certainly has the ability too. Ferris also pointed out Dayseedee was also closely related to the Keith Cotchin-trained Exciter, the winner of the Joe Memorial at the Cobram meeting.
After Leeton riches
Plenty of interest for Goulburn Valley harness fans on Tuesday at Leeton with the Laura Crossland-trained and driven The Tiger Army trying to keep his unbeaten record intact when he steps out in the timehonoured Breeders Plate final. The meeting was switched from tonight to Tuesday due to the heat. The son of Sportswriter has drawn barrier nine — three off the second row — with the other heat winner Realnspectacular coming from barrier eight in the $30 000 feature. The Tiger Army has won at his only three starts, while every other runner in the race is lining up for their second race start. Other Goulburn Valley horsemen in Dave Farrar and Cameron Maggs also have runners at the meeting. Maggs is chasing a hat-trick of wins with Ideal Suspect, who has won at Temora at his past two outings this month.
Jack purple patch
Euroa trainer David Jack’s recent good run has continued this week. At Cobram on Monday he produced talented trotting mare Princess Mila for another win. In a three-way finish, Princess Mila was able to get the better of the other top fancy and favourite Regal Assassin and Majestic Time in a district trifecta in the John Brooks Memorial Trotters Handicap. Jack was able to slot Princess Mila into a forward position early off her 20 m handicap in what was the key to the win. A four-year-old daughter of Majestic Son, Princess Mila was successful in her return to racing at the recent Shepparton Gold Cup meeting and has won six of her 27 starts with 10 placings. She tackles a feature race at Melton tomorrow night from a second row draw. Jack also had another winner Major Kiss at Kilmore on Wednesday night.
Eagle loves Cobram
Higher than an eagle remains unbeaten — on the Cobram track. On Monday, the David Aiken-trained and Kima Frenning-driven fouryear-old Mach Three gelding was deprived of leading by second elect Gone Too Far, but sprinted home hard along the sprint lane to beat the Keith Cotchin-trained Gone Too Far for an easy win. A track record holder on the course, Higher than an eagle completed a hat trick with his win after scoring a this two previous outings on Cobram Cup day and at the Shepparton Gold Cup meeting. Higher than an eagle has had four starts at Cobram for an unblemished record and will be seeking richer spoils in a race at Melton tomorrow night. Hoofnote: Frenning took ill after Higher than an eagle’ s win and did not drive again at the meeting. She was treated for dehydration.
Thermo heats up
Mark Watson has ended a mini drought for Kyabram trainers with a winner at Cobram on Monday. Watson produced the Art Major fouryear-old pacer Thermo for an easy first career win at his fifth start in a race. Ellen Tormey was in the sulky for the win on Thermo, who is owned in the same interests as Watson’s stable star Brallos Pass.
Trainers sweep card
What did northern Victorian trainers have in common with Numurkah cricketer Tim Arnel at Cobram on Monday? They both got the lot. Arnel took an amazing 10 wickers in an innings against Euroa in last Saturday’s round of Haisman Shield cricket games. On Monday, every race at Cobram was won by a trainer from the northern Victoria area. Apart from the wins of Thermo, Higher than an eagle, Day see dee, Exciter, and Princess Mila, other trainers to savour success at the meeting were Stuart Govers, Laura Crossland and Noel Turnbull. Govers was successful with Bensonfire, who had his first win in 17 outings, Crossland made it two from two since taking over the training of Kellys Ideal, while Tyndall again defied a set on the consistent Crocodile Kid to get another win at nice odds.
They are virtually neighbours and they had something else in common last Sunday. The produced winners at the Wedderburn Cup meeting. Coomboona horseman Mark Gledhill was successful with Isobel Winifred, while Undera trainer Justin Torney saluted with Soulmaker. For Isobel Winifred, a four-year-old Life Sign mare, it was her maiden win at her sixth race start. From barrier two, Chris Alford speared her straight to the front and she cruised to an easy win, beating the runner-up Andrew Jay by nearly 7 m in a 1:58.9 mile rate time for the 1720 m dash. Although she had not raced since October, punters sorted her out as the winner and she started a $2.10 favourite. Also a lightly raced pacer, Soulmaker notched her second win from just seven tries courtesy of an aggressive Greg Sugars drive. Sugars made a sharp move to the front two laps out and the daughter of Sportswriter successfully fended off all challengers in the run to the judge.
70th Echuca Cup
Echuca Harness Racing Club is gearing up for a special meeting on February 8. It will feature the 70th anniversary of the Echuca Pacing Cup. Other features on the program are the JA Connelly Crystal Bucket and the Tiffany Murray Memorial. But the program is loaded with other interesting events, including a $10 000 Vicbred Platinum mares heat for C1-C2 class pacing mares. Echuca reverted back to an earlier date in the year for its cup meeting, hoping to lure lingering holidaymakers in the area to attend while the weather is warm. Before last year the cup was in the March-April period.
Kima Frenning and pacer Goonly seem to get on fine. The Nagambie reinswoman has driven the Emma Stewart trained Mach Three six-year-old three times for three wins. The latest was at Melton on Friday night and in winning broke a run of four starts away from the winners circle when she did not drive the pacer. Goonly also posted a PB 1:53.4 mile rate in winning over the 1720 m trip. At her previous two and only other drives on Goonly, Frenning had been successful at Ballarat and Bendigo in the October-December period. Goonly is lightly raced, having had just 15 outings for an impressive record of eight wins and four minor placings. Goonly was one of two winners Frenning drove at Melton for Emma Stewart. She also guided the $1.10 favourite Victoria Brew to victory in a C2-C3 class mares race on her second drive on the pacer. Frenning had another big week last week partnering another of the Aiken stable Shelby Bromac to victory at Geelong and also driving the Dean Braun-trained Mister Ohanzee to a win a C2-C3 class race at Cranbourne.
Not shaded this time
The David Aiken-trained Heavenly Shades franked her Shepparton Cup meeting effort by going two better last Thursday at Maryborough. Driven a well judged race by Marika Eriksson, Heavenly Shades accounted for Art Prevails and Chief Safari in a solid performance. A six-year-old Shadow Play mare, Heavenly Shades put the writing on the wall for a coming win with a third placing behind Father Judge on Shepparton Cup night. Eriksson has driven the mare at her past seven starts for two placings and with encouraging efforts leading into the Maryborough assignment looked hard to beat, although she started at generous odds of nearly 8-1 on the tote.
We meet again
Sunday’s placegetters in the Wedderburn Trotters Cup will lock horns again on Sunday in the Wangaratta Trotters Cup. Jerichos Trumpet, Fratellino and Jackson Square filled the trifecta placings in that order at Wedderburn and should be in the finish again. Forestspider also looks to be an each-way chance on his Cobram effort last Monday off a big handicap. The eight-race card at Wangaratta starts at 6.15 pm.