By Gus Underwood
Goulburn Valley trainers and drivers were well to the fore on the opening day of the all-trotters Redwood Carnival last Friday.
Shepparton horseman Nathan Jack was the star of the day with four winners.
He drove three winners for mega trots trainer Anton Golino and one for Tatura trainer David Abrahams.
For the Golino stable Jack steered Cadenas Damour to win the Dot Redwood Memorial Trot for three-year-old trotters and then partnered Parisian Opera to claim the Aldebaran Gold Bracelet for three-year-old fillies and Egee Money in the last race of the day.
He then completed the quartet on the Abrahams-trained five-year-old gelding Menewa.
A son of Muscle Hill, the Yabby Dam-bred Menewa was having his fifth start for Abrahams and it was his third win from 18 tries.
Jack followers would have had a nice clean-up on his wins — Cadenas Damour was a $2.70 chance, Parisian Opera a $12.30 shot, Egee Money started at $9.40, while Menewa paid $9.50.
Wilson-Castles holding fort
The Doc Wilson-Donna Castles team struck early — twice — at meetings last Friday.
Not only did they have the honour of winning the first race at the annual Redwood Carnival, but repeated their first race win feat again at Shepparton that night.
Wilson drove the talented, but sometimes unreliable, Castles-trained mare Fatouche to a commanding all-the- way win at Maryborough.
The Yankee Spider five-year-old gave a flawless display over the short trip, clearing her rivals early from barrier five off the front row and then running them ragged.
In a local quinella the Mark Lee-trained and driven Col Du Galibier chased Fatouche all the way to the finishing line without ever looking a winning chance.
Fatouche put up two huge runs for placings recently at Shepparton, but broke at her two runs prior to stepping out at Maryborough, so punters were a little wary although she started the $2.50 favourite.
At Shepparton, veteran mare Eliska kicked off the 10-event program with a win in the opening event for the Castles-Wilson team.
Trained and driven by Castles, Eliska enjoyed a suck along on the pace and got home along the sprint lane to beat the David Moran-driven roughie Harrys Flight and the favourite Artoripace.
An eight-year-old daughter of Our Sir Vancelot, Eliska was having her 143rd start and now has 11 wins and 27 top three finishes for more than $61000 in stakemoney earnings.
The mare’s previous win was recorded eight starts earlier at Albury in April.
Kyvalley not just dot on map
Kyvalley breeder and owner Jim Connolly had a big Redwood Carnival last weekend with a winner and six minor placegetters from eight starters across the two days.
Connolly’s flagship trotter, Kyvalley Blur, was his winner, claiming the free-of-all on Redwood Day when the 10-year-old upstaged the USA-bound Sparkling Success who was resuming from a spell.
Connolly also just missed out on winning the Victoria Trotters Derby with Kyvalley Finn who went down by a half-head to the favourite Stress Factor.
Another of his placegetters, Kyvalley Clichy, ran third in the other feature race on Sunday, the Redwood Classic for two-year-old trotters. Runner-up in the Redwood Classic, Always Ready has a Kyabram group of owners in the syndicate which races the talented young trotter.
They include former Western Bulldogs footballer Jeff Berry, Phil and Trudi Plumb, Stuart Laidlaw and Owen Gregory.
Coping with Derby Stress
There was a strong Echuca flavour to Stress Factor’s win in the $75000 Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough last Sunday.
Echuca trots stalwart Rob Owen is a part owner of the Brent Lilley-trained three-year-old who was having only his third start for the stable.
Driven by record-breaking reinsman Chris Alford, Stress Factor was a $2 favourite in the time-honoured event and led for the 2690m marathon trip.
Owen said he bought into the syndicate which purchased Stress Factor in New Zealand where he had been racing in top company in his age group.
‘‘He had one start over there for us before coming over here and won at his first start at Melton,’’ Owen said.
Owen has been battling cancer, so it was a good tonic.
Former Seymourites Gary Dowling and John Wilkinson are also in the syndicate which races the son of Majestic Son who now has the lucrative Breeders Crown series firmly in his sights.
Purd, Purd, Purd is the word
Kyabram Trotting Club is putting on a sausage sizzle and drinks at bar prices after its trials this Sunday morning to acknowledge the marathon service the man they call ‘‘Purd’’ has given to the club and the harness racing industry during the past half-century.
Ian Purdey has been the club’s treasurer since its formation in 1969 and has also held the role as the club’s secretary for the past 25 years.
He has also called the weekly Sunday trials for the past 25 years and the clubrooms have been named in his honour.
This Sunday morning will give the chance to everyone in harness racing to catch up with Purd before he leaves town.
But anyone can attend even if they have not been involved in harness racing, outgoing club president John Roberts said.
Pekin clocks in on time
Everything good comes to those who wait so the saying goes.
And connections of Like Clockwork got their just deserts when the pacer saluted last week at Shepparton.
The Shadow Play four-year-old had had 26 starts for four minor placings prior to the Shepparton race.
But with two of these placings recorded at his previous two outings Like Clockwork looked up to his nostrils in the Shepparton race for C0 Only class pacers.
Pekin perched Like Clockwork on the back of the pacemaker Concorde Dawn and got the run in the home straight to beat the Eddie Walsh-trained pacer and the well-supported De Belin for Donna Castles in a local trifecta.
Like Clockwork is a family pacer as he is owned by Pekin’s son Jack.
Enjoying life right now
There aren’t too many Shepparton meetings these days or nights that Laura Crossland doesn’t make her mark and last week’s meeting was no exception.
The Shepparton trainer produced recent stable additions Elianna Franco and Lifeonthebeach at the meeting.
Both won impressively and were driven by Crossland’s partner David Moran.
A winner in New Zealand at her previous start before crossing the Tasman, Elianna Franco was having her third start for Crossland.
Elianna Franco led from pillar-to-post in a runaway win in a C0 Only class race by more than 16m, while Lifeonthebeach was equally impressive disposing of C2-C3 class field by more than 12m to keep his perfect Victorian record in place.
Lifeonthebeach had six NSW wins to his credit before stepping out for the first time for Crossland and winning at Cobram on July 29.
The three-year-old pulled himself to the front in the home straight with a lap to run and settled more comfortably in front before going on to an easy win.
He tackles a hot field tonight in a Breeders Crown heat at Bendigo.
Quicker than Jake the Peg
Talented pacer Crookwell Jake notched his sixth win for the season for Shepparton trainer Ross McKellar when he saluted last week at Shepparton.
Driver Damian Wilson brought the four-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven with a well timed run to account for the favourite, the Isabel Walsh-trained and Nathan Jack-driven Better Ops and the pacemaker Lombo Idle Belief who ran a bold race at big odds for John Newberry.
Crookwell Jake obviously likes the Shepparton circuit with his past three wins being recorded on the track.
Shoshone has polish
While Shepparton trainer Isabel Walsh had to be content with second place with Better Ops she still left the meeting a winner.
The Walsh-trained and Chris Alford-driven Shoshone Brave made a winning race debut, claiming the honours in the two-year-old event.
Shoshone Brave is certainly bred in the purple being by top sire Bettors Delight out of the Armbro Operative mare Little Red Cloud, a winner of 18 races and more than $170000 in prizemoney.
Nathalia horseman Noel Tyndall bred and raced Little Red Cloud and still owns the mare as well as Shoshone Brave.
Another local win at the Shepparton meeting was achieved by Merrigum mentor Brad Aylett, who scored his second win in his last four starts with Arty Guy who was driven to victory by concession reinsman Jack Laugher in a C1 Only class race.
Elmore trainer Mathew Higgins also produced three-year-old Mister Big filly Lilnova for a win at her 11th trip to the races.
Mama Mio here we go again
Before winning at Cobram on July 29 Mio Chistisimo had won two races from 32 tries.
Tomorrow night at Melton she attempts to pull off a hat-trick of wins and her fifth success after winning her heat for her Wahring trainer and driver Daniel Jack at Monday’s Melton meeting.
Jack used the beautifully bred Rocknroll Hanover four-year-old daughter’s barrier one draw to lead from start to finish, warding off a host of challengers in the home straight and clocking a PB mile rate of 1:57.9 for the 1710m trip.
Mio Christisimo has the plum poleline barrier draw again tomorrow night so should be in it for a long way.
Today: Mildura (d), Bendigo (n).
Tomorrow: Melton (n).
Sunday: Ballarat (t).
Monday: Yarra Valley (d).
Tuesday: Shepparton (n).
Wednesday: Kilmore (d), Ararat (n).
Thursday: Maryborough (d), Swan Hill (n).