It could well be a female finish in tomorrow night’s $30000 Moama Bowling Club Echuca Pacing Cup at the Frank Ryan Raceway, Echuca.
The Kerryn Manning-trained and driven Motu Meteor looks the testing material in the 2560m marathon and one of his main threats Shakahari, who is the only mare in the race, will also have the services of a female driver — Bec Bartley.
Motu Meteor campaigned admirably in feature events at the recent Perth Inter Dominion carnival and showed he is primed for tomorrow night’s assignment with an eye-catching close-up third to Jilliby Kung Fu in the $100000 Four-Year-Old Bonanza at Melton last Saturday night.
Jilliby Kung Fu is contesting the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle tomorrow night.
Motu Meteor and Shakahari have the benefit of good draws — barriers two and one, respectively — which is vital around the tight Frank Ryan Raceway.
The Keith Cotchin-prepared Nonno Stride is drawn next to Shakahari and Motu Meteor, while another Shepparton pacer, A Special Dream, comes from barrier five for trainer Steve Duffy and reinsman Darby McGuigan.
In between them from barrier four is the consistent Mustang Bart, to be driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, so it could be helter skelter in the early jostle for positions.
A Special Dream is racing in rare form this season, but this is his biggest test although his early speed should secure him a position to be in it for a long way.
The Brent Lilley-trained Lets Elope is the tightest assessed pacer in the race and is meeting many of his rivals on really favourable terms in regards to career and metropolitan wins.
But along with another well-credentialed pacer Code Black, he has to overcome an outside second row draw.
Hopes of a local win rest with Cotchin who not only has the in-form Nonno Stride in the race, but also last Saturday night’s long shot Melton winner Hes Okey Dokey from a second row draw.
●Tomorrow night’s 10-race program also features the $12000 J A Connelly Crystal Bucket for T5 or better class trotters and the Tiffany Murray Memorial Pace for C1 only class pacers.
The Crystal Bucket has drawn a good field including last start Wangaratta Trotters Cup winner Forestspider, the recent Cobram Trotters Cup winner, former NSW performer Quillabamba, now in the Nicole Molander stable, and also the flying Shepparton mare Sky Petite who is in the race up to her ears, despite a backmark 40m handicap.
Apart from the two main features and the Tiffany Murray Memorial, a $10000 heat of the Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint and the Bendigo Bank Echuca Pace for C3-C5 class pacers, also worth $10000, have drawn top fields in what should be a memorable night’s racing.
Opening race is at 6.23pm with the final event at 11pm.
Wilson smokes them
Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson took the driving honours with a double on Monday at Cobram’s meeting that honoured former presidents and club stalwarts.
Wilson won on a recent stable addition Leakys Smokin, a 10-year-old who prevailed in the Terry Daniel Pace for C4-C6 class pacers and then partnered the Ron Calleja-trained free-legged pacer Ismaha to complete a hat-trick of wins on the track in a C2-C3 class race.
Ismaha had won at the past two Cobram meetings on January 7 and 18.
Ben burns punters
Punters did not make a good start to the day at Cobram with the Invergordon-trained pacer Bensonfire taking the honours in the opening event for trainer-driver Stuart Govers.
Bensonfire was a 38-1 shot on the tote and rolled the two fancied runners Runfortheroses and Willbe Doc in the Jim Cox Memorial Pace for C1 class pacers.
A five-year-old son of Courage Under Fire, Bensonfire broke a run of 23 starts without a win with his second victory from 39 starts with his previous win recorded at Echuca in April.
It was all a Blur
Trotter Kyvalley Blur and pacer Hes Okey Dokey were northern Victorian owned or trained winners on Hunter Cup night at Melton last Saturday in a meeting where several other northern Victorian trainers produced placegetters.
Kyvalley Blur, bred and owned by Kyvalley’s Jim Connelly, caused a minor upset when he prevailed in the Group One $40000 V L Dullard Trotters Cup for trainer Brent Lilley and star reinsman Chris Alford.
Neglected by punters after some sound New Zealand form last year, Kyvalley Blur ran down the well fancied Kiwi Temporale in the concluding stages of the 2240m mobile event to register his 24th win and take his prize money earnings to more than $440000.
Third in the race was another Shepparton-trained horse Sky Petite for trainer Dean Pattison and his father Noel.
It was a successful weekend for Connelly, who bred and owns Kyvalley Finn, who scored at Ballarat last Friday night for Bendigo trainer Chris Svanosio.
Elmore trainer Keith Cotchin struck the first blow for northern Victorian trainers on Hunter Cup night when he produced Hes Okey Dokey for an upset win in a M1-M2 class race early in the program.
A 25-1 shot, Hes Okey Dokey was driven to a sprint lane win by legendary American horseman David Miller.
Second placings at the meeting were chalked up by the Kyabram-trained Brallos Pass and Shepparton-trained pacers Shakahari and The Faithful.
Lennytheshark lost no admirers in the $500000 Hunter Cup with his fourth placing, only 3.8m from the winner, the mighty Kiwi Lazarus.
The $25000 he got for running fourth took his prize money earnings to more than $2million.
Lenny has the Miracle Mile at Menangle on his radar, as does Lazarus.
Dad that’s not bad
Stanhope-trained pacer Ima Dad obviously likes the Albury track.
Before last Friday one of his two wins from 33 starts was on the Albury circuit 24 starts previously in February last year.
There have been a lot of placings in between for the Gary Pekin-trained six-year-old son of Real Desire, but it was back to the winning habits again at Albury.
Pekin had Ima Dad on the marker pegs three back for most of the trip, but was able to push a passage through a wall of horses contesting the lead in the final stages to grab victory.
Also tasting success at Albury was Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson, who partnered the Leeton pacer Medal Of Honour to an effortless win for trainer Shane Hillier.
Princess regains tiara
Euroa trained three-year-old trotter Princess Mila took only three days to atone for a narrow loss when she saluted on Monday night at Melton.
The David Jack-trained and driven daughter of Majestic Son was cut down late by Kyvalley Finn after leading last Friday night at Ballarat.
But at Melton Princess Mila got the job done, leading early and then running down her rivals from three back on the pegs after getting clear around the home turn.
The lightly-raced Princess Mila is from the Maoris Idol mare Zhari Belle who has left a smart one in Daquari, this year’s South Australian Cup winner, and other winners Zharis Idol and Sundons Promise.
Today: Melton (n).
Tomorrow: Echuca (n).
Sunday: Kilmore (t).
Monday: Warragul (d), Melton (n).
Tuesday: Swan Hill (n).
Wednesday: Bendigo (n).
Thursday: Shepparton (d), Ballarat (n).