2nd Feb: Helen Dobson shared in a winner when recently purchased 4yo gelding Hellbound broke his maiden status at start number five by taking the Seelite Windows & Doors Trotters Mobile for TR0 class over 2190 metres at Maryborough. A son of Crazed and Iphigenia trained at Myrniong by Jess Tubbs, Hellbound with husband Greg Sugars aboard began safely from inside the second row to settle mid-field in the moving line as Schippers led from gate four. Going forward to park in the open prior to the bell, Sugars controlled the race to a nicety, cruising to a 3 metre margin over Test Of faith which trailed the weakening leader before following the winner into the straight, with Topgunray (one/two) third. The mile rate 2-02.5.
How good can the season get? That’s the question Kevin Riseley must have been asking as champion 5yo entire Lazarus, a horse he holds a share in snared Victoria’s Premier harness race - the $500,000 (Group 1) A.G. Hunter Cup over 2760 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 3. Already a winner of the past two New Zealand Cups, plus the Inter Dominion a month back, Lazarus treated his rivals with contempt after racing in the open for the last half of the trip. Surging past the pacemaker Tiger Tara on turning, Lazarus scored by a metre from West Australian Soho Tribeca, with Heaven Rocks a stablemate of the winner which Kevin also holds a share in third 2.4 metres away and Lennytheshark another of the Riseley team finished fourth. A son of Bettors Delight and Bethany, Lazarus smashed the track record by a full second, returning a mile rate of 1-54.1.
5th Feb: When your hot your hot and Kevin Riseley (Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Heaven Rocks, Ultimate Machete) snared the feature at Cobram when a highly promising colt by the name of Higherthananeagle, a son of Mach Three and Three Eagles was successful in the $25,000 George Croxford Tribute for Three Year Olds 3C0 to 3C2 class over 2170 metres. Named in honour of the late George Croxford who was President of the Wangaratta HR Club for many years. Coming off an eye catching fifth from last to Poster Boy in a heat of the Victoria Derby at Ballarat on January 20, Higherthananeagle trained and driven by Avenel mentor David Aiken began with a wing on every foot from gate four to cross Cullens Legend inside him and despite being pressured as several of his rivals went forward in the 2170 metre feature, bounded clear approaching the final bend to record an easy 13.7 metre margin ahead of the favourite Shez All Rock (three wide last lap from mid-field), with Cullens Legend 5.3 metres away in third place after using the sprint lane to no avail. In quarters of 29, 30.6, 28.6 and 26.9, Higherthananeagle recorded a new track record mile rate of 1-55.2.
5th Feb: Peter Svanosio’s very smart 5yo Sundon - Big O E mare Aldebaran Ay M resumed with an all of the way victory in the Carbine Chemicals Trotters Mobile for T3 to T5 class over 2240 metres at Melton. Trained and driven by son Chris in Bendigo, Aldebaran Ay M first up since August had little difficulty in leading from the pole and after being rated a treat, had plenty in reserve to register a 1.2 metre margin over Carnera which trailed in a rate of 2-01.7. Courchevel was a metre back in third place after racing exposed.
5th Feb: Carol Bass was also a winner at Melton when Art Major - Courageousnquick gelding Princely Reign scored in the 2018 Melton Plate 3Y0 Pace over 1720 metres with Gavin Lang in the sulky. Trained at Bolinda by Brent Lilley for a multitude of owners, Princely Reign (gate four) raced uncovered outside Betting Man (gate six), proving too strong at the finish for Cocosfella (three wide last lap from last) by 1.4 metres, with Betting Man holding down third a nose away. The mile rate 1-57.6.
6th Feb: Carol was again in the winners list this time at Perth’s Gloucester Park when 4Y0 Mach Three - Braeview Success gelding Machiatto first up for the Gary Hall stable, scored in the Trotsynd Pace for C5 to C9 class over 2130 metres. Driven by Gary Hall (Jnr), Machiatto (gate two) led all of the way to record a 3.8 metre margin over Mighty Mr Sharkey and Overboard Again in 1-57.7.
7th Feb: 4yo Bettors Delight - Mach And Me mare Perfectlyimperfect chalked up another Mildura victory, taking the 2190 metre Park Douglas Printing Pace for C0 class much to the delight of Peter Judd and partners. Driven by in-form South Australian youngster Jayden Brewin for trainer dad Justin, Pertfectlyimperfect led throughout from the pole, defeating Serene Change and Five Fours in a rate of 2-01.7.
8th Feb: Bendigo’s Bruce Morgan provided a long-shot winner at Bendigo when Ideal Moment, a 5yo gelded son of American Ideal - The Warp Legacy raced by wife Val greeted the judge in the Petstock Pace for C2 class over 2150 metres, returning a mile rate of 1-59.1. With John Caldow in the sulky, Ideal Moment ($39.80) enjoyed a cosy passage from gate two trailing the pacemaker Curlimore and when taken into the clear on turning, finished full of running to blouse the heavily supported Sanna Cruza (three wide last lap from the tail) by a half head in a tricky finish. Curlimore held down third 1.4 metres away.
8th Feb: Paul Rowse was also a Bendigo winner when 4yo Rocknroll Hanover - Cultured Lombo entire Small Town snared the Bendigo Party Hire Pace for C0 class over 2150 metres with Jason Lee holding the reins. In a masterly training performance, Small Town who has had numerous problems was making his race debut and led throughout from the pole, accounting for Westvillageemily and Rocknroll Prince in 2-01.
12th Feb: The Warragul meeting was big for Terry Suhan and Len Petch as their 5yo Courage Under Fire - Our Bad Girl mare Courageous Call which they bred, was successful in the Warragul Cup Easter Sunday Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2210 metres. Trained locally by Gary & Debbie Quinlan, Courageous Call driven by Chris Alford finished with a wet sail from three back the markers along the sprint lane to blouse the leader My Golden Grinner by a neck, with Mulgrave 1.1 metres away in third place after trailing the winner and easing to the outside on turning, The mile rate 1-59.4.
13th Feb: John Dorrington had a winner acorss the border at Menangle with his 6yo Gotta Go Cullect - Pareen mare Come Cullect trained by Kerry Ann Turner and driven by partner Robbie Morris scored in the 1609 metre Cordina Chickens Claiming Pace. Enjoying a sweet passage trailing the leader Modern Era after leading out from gate six, Come Cullect when taken into the clear at the straight entrance finished best to prevail by a half neck over the pacemaker in a rate of 1-52.9. Bettor Atom was third 3.9 metres back.
13th Feb: Rod Pollock’s 5yo home bred Framework - Reigle Anne mare Scottish Sardius saluted the judge at Swan Hill in the 2240 metre Swan Hill Ford Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class. Trained and driven by Inglewood’s Peter Sanderson, Scottish Sardius starting from 20 metres stepped cleanly to settle four back along the markers in a strung out field with the tempo being set by equal 20 metre marker Tenno Sho. Coming away from the markers to lead up the outside division for the final circuit, Scottish Sardius ($3.40) showed a great will to win when challenged strongly by favourite Valley Ess Jay in the run to the wire, registering a head margin in a rate of 2-05.3. Tenno Sho weakened to be third 3.9 metres back.
15th Feb: John Hawke and John Yeomans were both winners at the Shepparton meeting. Hawkey’s ex-Kiwi 4yo Bettors Delight - Reklaw gelding Rishi an easy victor of the C4 & C5 class Neatline Homes Pace over 1690 metres, while John & Christine Yeomans’ Art Major - Im Smouldering filly Im Scorching snared the 2190 metre GV Equine 3Y0Pace.
Rishi (Gavin Lang) for trainer Lance Justice was given a sweet trip from the pole trailing the pacemaker Its Just Kenny (gate four), prior to using the sprint lane to register a 3.6 metre margin over the leader in 1-56.9. Lombo Idle Belief was a nose away third after following the winner.
Im Scorching trained and driven by Avenel’s Josh Aiken also led throughout, accounting for Saving Major Percy (one/one) and Prince Potter which faced the open. The mile rate 2-00.4.
16th Feb: Kevin Riseley’s ever reliable 4yo Art Major - Nosotros entire Stars Align now in the care of Alison Alford at Bolinda, led all of the way to land the 1720 metre Melton Plate 2018 Pace for M1 & M2 class at Tabcorp Park Melton. With husband Chris in the sulky, Stars Align was too strong for Mah Nien (one/one) in 1-53.6. Hickstead ran home from a “mile” back to finish third. The margins being 4.5 by 3.5 metres.
18th Feb: Peter Watkinson’s 4yo Four Starzzz Shark - Sahara Miss gelding Starofsahara was victorious in the C2 & C3 class yarra Valley Toyota Pace over 1650 metres at Yarra Valley. Trained at Drouin by Gary and Debbie Quinlan, Starofsahara driven by Chris Alford led throughout from the pole to easily account for Mister Zhivago (three wide last lap) by 7.4 metres, returning a mile rate of 1-58.5. The Heat Is On was a head away third after racing in the breeze.
19th Feb: John Dorrington’s 7yo Courage Under Fire - Pareen gelding Smokey Quartz recorded his 17th victory from 72 outings when taking the C91.3 FM Pace over 1609 metres at Menangle. Trained on track by KerryAnn Turner, Smokey Quartz driven by partner Robbie Morris exploded away from outside the front line to lead, before toying with his rivals to score by 3 metres in advance of My Guy Mac and Mind The Wire in 1-53.8.
22nd Feb: Helen Dobson’s Hellbound a Crazed - Iphigenia gelding which she races with a large group of owners was successful at Cranbourne in taking the 2080 metre Yabby Dam Racing Trotters Mobile for T0 & T1 class in a rate of 2-05. Crossing polemarker Augustine shortly after the start, Hellbound (gate three) trained by Myrniong husband and wife Greg Sugars and Jess Tubbs was given an easy time from Greg with the result never looking in doubt, scoring by 3 metres from the most consistent Greg The Great which raced outside him, with Whattalottafray 10.4 metres away in third place after running home late from well back.
24th Feb: Another winner for John Hawke’s ex-Kiwi 4yo gelding Rishi (Bettors Delight-Reklaw) was a tough victor of the $25,000 Flying Brick Cider Co Tontine Pacers Championship for C2 to C4 class over 2100 metres at Geelong. Trained at Melton by Lance Justice and driven to perfection by Gavin Lang, Rishi starting from gate three on the second line possied mid-field as Cruz led from gate two, Easing three wide to race exposed for the final circuit, it was vintage Lang who never at any stage seemed perturbed, allowing Rishi to stride at his own speed without any pressure being applied. Despite racing a little roughly on the final bend, Rishi when asked for a supreme effort on straightening was too tough, defeating a death-seating Our Little General by a head in a thrilling finish, returning a mile rate of 1-58.7. Rank outsider Islandspecialmajor was a neck away in third place.
28th Feb: The very consistent 5yo Sundon - Big O E mare Aldebaran Ay M greeted the judge in the 2nd Heat of the Lyn McPherson Breed For Speed Gold Series for Trotters T4 or better at Shepparton. Trained and driven by Bendigo’s Chris Svanosio for CC club member father Peter, Aldenbaran Ay M (gate three) settled three back along the markers as Nieta led from the pole. Moving to race exposed at the bell,Aldebaran Ay M exploded to the front prior to the home turn, holding a margin of a 6.3 metres on the wire in advance of Glenferrie Burn which ran on all too late from near last, with Nieta holding down third a half head away. The mile rate 2-03.1.