8th January: The “Pacing Priest” now retired Father Brian Glasheen was victorious at Tabcorp Park Melton when his home bred Courage Under Fire - Bit Of A Gem mare Be Not Afraid gained a last stride decision in the TAB Multiplier Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton. In what was a brilliant drive by Craig Demmler, Be Not Afraid starting from inside the second line settled three back along the markers as At West Point led from gate three. Coming off the inside approaching the home turn to be poised on the back of First And Erst which had raced in the open, Be Not Afraid sprouted wings when extricated into the clear to register a half head victory, with Chiasso third 5.4 metres away after trailing the winner. The mile rate 1-59.4.
11th January: Member John Hawke who most are aware supplies the majority of trophies for harness racing’s premier events
has spent many thousands of dollars looking for that one special horse and former Kiwi gelding Rishi could be the answer. A 5Y0 son of Bettors Delight -Reklaw trained and driven by Lance Justice, Rishi was victorious in the Melton Toyota Pace for M1 to M3 class over 1720 metres at TP Melton. Surprisingly beaten for speed from gate two by Bernie Winkle outside him, Rishi pressed forward to assume control racing for the bell. Rated to perfection, Rishi did only what he had to, hitting the wire 3.2 metres in advance of Bernie Winkle along the sprint lane in a mile rate of 1-54.1. Vee Rock battled on gamely for third a half head away after racing exposed.
14th January: Greg Bettiol’s home bred Courage Under Fire - Dundee Hanover 5Y0 gelding Deadly Assassin trained and driven by Great Western’s Grant Campbell made it two wins in succession when greeting the judge in the New Charlton Harness Complex Pace for C2 class over 2190 metres at Maryborough. Going forward from outside the front line to head off Forever And A Day (gate three) shortly after the start, Deadly Assassin after being rated to perfection, just lasted to score by a half head only on the wire from Forever And A Day which used the sprint lane to just fail, with Inaugurate (three back the markers) 7.7 metres away in third place after also using the sprint lane. The mile rate 1-58.4.
17th January: Peter Watkinson, Dale Monteith and Peter Hornsby tasted success at Cranbourne when Art Major - Sahara Miss gelding Sahara Tiger brought up two wins in a row by taking the 2080 metre Seelite Windows & Doors 3Y0 Pace. Trained by Gary and Debbie Quinlan at nearby Drouin, Saraha Tiger with Gavin Lang in the sulky was given a sweet passage from gate five three back along the markers as Hector Macray led from the pole. Coming away from the inside in the final circuit to possie one/one on the back of Mota Mate, Saraha Tiger when eased three wide in the straight finished full of running to defeat Famous Three along the sprint lane off the back of the leader by 3.2 metres in a mile rate of 2-02.1. Hector Macray battled on gamely to be third a head away.
19th January: Greg Bettiol was again in the winners stall at Ballarat when another home bred by the name of Major Assassin scored a big victory in the $10,000 Caribu Pace Final for C0 class over 1710 metres. Driven by Kerryn Manning for husband Grant Campbell, Major Assassin a gelded 4Y0 son of Art Major - Princess Cassi settled well back in the field from gate three on the second line before going forward three wide solo in the last lap. Sustaining a long run, Major Assassin surged to the front on straightening to register an impressive 6.2 metre margin over Nikitaris which followed him home, with Jamieson Steele a tough third 4.8 metres back after moving to race exposed at the bell. The mile rate 1-55.1.
21st January: Trotting stalwart Duncan McPherson and partners landed the Cogs Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 1720 metres at TP Melton with Aldebaran Willo, a Majestic Son-Solar Powered 4Y0 gelding who produced an outstanding performance to win. Bred by Aldebaran Lodge Pty Ltd, Aldebaran Willo trained by Amanda Turnbull and driven by Gavin Lang galloped wildly in the score up from inside the second line appearing to lose all chance as Chief Running Cloud led from gate five. After giving away what should have been an impossible task, Aldebaran Willo caught the field in the last lap with Lang sticking to the inside to save valuable ground and when extricated wide on the final bend, ran home stylishly to gain the day by a neck from Coco Lombo via the sprint lane after trailing the weakening leader, with Morgan Mylee (first up since June) coming from last of the main group to be third a half head away after racing wide in the last lap. The mile rate of 2-03.3 was nothing special, but the victory certainly was.
24th January: Ian Kitchin and Myrniong part-owner/trainer Jess Tubbs were victorious with Shadow Play - Schonbrunn gelding Hector Macray in the Macks Fashion & Street Wear 3Y0 Pace over 2190 metres at Maryborough. Trained at Myrniong by Jess Tubbs who also holds a share, Hector Macray was given a beaut passage by Greg Sugars from gate four trailing the pacemaker Major Comment (gate three) and when extricated to be three wide on the home turn, finished best to gain the day by a metre from hot favourite Balenciago which raced exposed from the bell, with Rosarito Beach 7.3 metres away in third place after following the runner-up throughout. The mile rate 1-57.5.
24th January: Rob Molloy shared in a winner at Cranbourne when 4Y0 Yield Boko - Aldebaran Queenie mare Flyin Around was successful in the Yabby Dam Racing Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2080 metres. Trained by former New Zealander Dylan Stratford at the Cranbourne Training Complex, Flyin Around raced by a large syndicate of Cranbourne HRC enthusiasts headed by David Scott was driven by Chris Alford and after beginning swiftly from gate six virtually led throughout to easily account for Dellsun which trailed by 10.8 metres in a rate of 2-02.3, with Hurricane Ed 1.3 metres back in third place after following the pair.
24th Cranbourne: Another Cranbourne winner was 7Y0 Art Major - Of Course I Can entire Major In Arms for John and Christine Yeomans in the 2080 metre Woodlands Stud Pace for C2 class. Trained by John, Major In Arms with Chris Alford in the sulky led all of the way from gate two, scoring by 2.2 metres in advance of Artoripace which trailed from the pole using the sprint lane to no avail. Six Elements (three back the markers) was third 1.2 metres away. The mile rate 1-58.8.
25th January: Shane Gallagher was in the winners stall at Geelong following the victory of 6Y0 Armbro Invasion - Whatta Tussle mare Whattalottafrey in the T0-T1 class Yabby Dam Racing Trotters Mobile over 2100 metres. Raced by partner Rachael Benns, Whattalottafrey driven by Gavin Lang led throughout from gate three to register a 6.5 metre margin over the favourite Youneedabitofmuscle from last which broke in the shadows of the post when issuing a late challenge. The Spanyen was third 15 metres away after always being handy. The mile rate 2-02.5.
27th Janaury: John & Christine Yeomans were winners at Wangaratta following the victory of 4Y0 Art Major - Arivee mare Im Very Willing in the C0 class Empire Stallions Vicbred Country Series I over 1800 metres. Trained by John, Im Very Willing with John Caldow in the sulky led all of the way from gate two, accounting for Cmon Pretty Mama which raced in the open by 11.3 metres in a rate of 1-59. Despondent (one/one) was third 9.8 metres away.
31st January: The biggest star on the day at Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championship Day at the Charlton fixture held at Maryborough was 4Y0 Majestic Son - Solar Powered gelding Aldebaran Willo ($27.40) who captured the $25,000 (Group 3) Central Victorian Trotting Championship for T1 or better class over 2690 metres much to the delight of Duncan McPherson’s Aldebaran Lodge Pty. Ltd. and partners. Trained by Amanda Turnbull and driven by Gavin Lang, Aldebaran Willo began swiftly from outside the front line to challenge Amour De Frere inside him for the lead which was unsuccessful. Gaining cover when the hot favourite Stress Factor (20m) went forward from mid-field to race exposed Aldebaran Willo received a cosy trip before dropping to trail Amour De Frere racing for the bell. Despite racing a little fierce, Lang had him travelling and when the leader galloped prior to the home turn as Stress Factor went for home and Aldebaran Kiri (one/one) galloped under pressure. Easing away from the inside on the final bend, Aldebaran Willo ran home nicely to prevail over the ever reliable Kyvalley Finn first up since August, with Stress Factor (also first up since August) giving ground over the latter stages to come in third. The margins being 1 metre by 8.3 metres in a mile rate of 2-03.5.