Congupna horseman Scott Stewart is enjoying a hot run with promising pacer Alpe De Huez.
A midrace move to the front proved a winner in a heat of the C1 series at Wangaratta last week, with Alpe De Huez holding off a late surge from the Daryl Hill-trained and Donna Castles-driven Die Tryin.
Alpe De Huez then followed up his Wangaratta win with victory in Wednesday night’s final at Shepparton.
An early move to the front again proved a winning tactic on the pacer, who accounted for the long odds on favourite Eye See Diamonds, who was given the run of the race on Alpe De Huez’s back, but could not run pacesetter down.
The four-year-old Changeover gelding had won at the Shepparton Cup meeting when resuming from a spell last month.
Alpe De Huez was not the only win Stewart enjoyed on the night.
He also won on Travelpastyou in a CO only class race.
The four-year-old Blissfull Hall gelding was having just his fourth start and was making his first appearance since June last year. He also had a win in June last year at Yarra Valley as a three-year-old, so obviously has his share of talent.
Shepparton horsewoman Laura Crossland’s recent run of success continued this week with a driving double at Shepparton on Wednesday night.
After recent successes at Swan Hill and Cobram, at Shepparton Crossland landed the winner of the trotters handicap, Yankee Mara, for Marungi horseman Linton Power and then drove the pacer she trains Lighthorse to an all-the-way win in a CO only class race.
Yankee Mara put the writing on the wall for a win with a second at Wangaratta last week behind Its Not Dark Yet and was always going to be the one to run down once she took up the front running.
A seven-year-old mare by Yankee Paco, Yankee Mara cruised home with more than 8m to spare over the Brian King-trained and Donna Castles-driven veteran Kains Boy, who outlasted Tella Tall Tale to claim second place in a photo.
Yankee Mara certainly has not won out of turn with her last win her third from 35 starts, but she was off the scene for nearly two years and has had just three starts since resuming her track career in promising style.
Lighthorse, a four-year-old by Grinfromeartoear who campaigned in NSW to start his career, led throughout and certainly deserved his win.
He was coming off three successive thirds and a first up fourth since he came south to Crossland’s stable.
Win didn’t take Long
Stanhope horseman Gary Pekin has not taken long to retrieve most of the outlay for pacer Long Ago.
The recent buy, having just his second start for Pekin, prevailed in a Concession Drivers Championship race at Boort last Friday.
Reinsman Mitchell Frost landed the win on the six-year-old Life Sign gelding, who prevailed in a busy finish in which there was less than 2.5m between the first four pacers across the finishing line.
Pekin said although he had not been happy with Long Ago’s efforts at the trials, the pacer had pleased him in his first race for him and the win at Boort had not surprised him.
‘‘It wasn’t a strong field, so he got his chance,’’ Pekin said.
Frost, who works for Avenel trainer Wayne Potter, looks to have a future as a reinsman.
Rhythm in tune
There is nothing new about David Aiken-trained horses winning.
But it is not often they are 20-1 chances as Jiggy Rhythm was when he took the three-year-old pacers race at Boort last Friday.
The presence of the $1.60 chance Prince Mcardle in the race was the reason for the generous odds on offer about Jiggy Rhythm, but the favourite galloped when leading with a lap to go and was never a factor from then on.
Jiggy Rhythm surged to the front when Prince Mcardle went off stride and then held off Soho Leviathan in a two-horse battle down the home straight.
A filly by Sportwriter, Jiggy Rhythm has won three times with five minor placings from just 16 starts.
Team Aiken had a good day at the well-attended Boort meeting as another stable member, Glenferrie Captain, made a winning debut in a CO only class race.
The two $25000 features at Boort were taken out by Nikkibadwagon and Princess Fearless.
Nikkibadwagon, a 12-1 shot driven by John Caldow for Horsham trainer Barry Dunn, prevailed in the Central Victorian Pacing Championship final, while the Mark Purdon-trained and driven Prince Fearless, a $1.70 favourite, led throughout to win the trotters championship.
The Steve O’Donoghue-trained Herehecomes, reined by Bec Bartley, ran a top race in the pacing championship, finishing second at big odds.
David Aiken has certainly turned around the fortunes of former Queensland pacer Magic Oats.
Magic Oats had not won at his previous 16 starts before joining the Aiken stable and has scored two wins and a second from three outings for the Avenel horseman.
Magic Oats won on debut on Shepparton Cup night, then ran second at Ballarat Cup night and was back in the winners circle again in an MO only heat of the Rising Stars series at last Saturday night’s Victoria Cup meeting.
Magic Oats was locked up three back on the pegs in the running, but got into the clear in the home stretch and swamped his rivals.
The six-year-old son of Mcardle had 70 starts for 15 wins before joining the Aiken stable and looks set to improve on that record in his current form.
Stuart little ripper
Consistent pacer Stuart was rewarded with another win for Wahring trainer Rosie Weidenbach at Cranbourne last week.
Rosie’s reinsman husband Paul gave Stuart the run of the race on the back of the pacemaker and the eight-year-old D M Dillinger gelding sprint-laned to an easy win.
It was also a milestone victory with Stuart’s mile rate of 1:58.1 over the 1609m trip the quickest of his six wins.
Stuart is certainly racing in career best form with his past seven starts producing two wins, four seconds and a third.
It was a good night for northern Victorian trainers at last week’s Wangaratta Trotters Cup meeting, with locals figuring in wins in four of the seven races.
Tatura trainer Walter Turco and reinsman Josh Aiken set the mood for district wins when they took the opening event with Del Rosario.
After sitting without cover for the last two laps, the seven-year-old Sealed And Delivered gelding got the verdict in a photo finish in a heat of C1 only four-year-old and older race that had its final at Shepparton on Wednesday night.
Rochester horseman Shayne Eeles produced Terror Man for one of the easiest wins of the night in a C2-C3 event at Wangaratta.
The six-year-old son of Courage Under Fire blitzed his rivals by nearly 15m in a runaway win over the Daryl Hill-trained and Donna Castles-driven Brother Rabbit.
Eeles also enjoyed another win at Shepparton on Wednesday night with Pushinupdaisies in a C2-C3 series heat that has its $10000 final at Melton in a week. It was the seventh career win for the six-year-old Live Or Die mare.
A huge crowd was on hand at the meeting, which augurs well for its upcoming pacing cup meeting in March.
Today: Ballarat (n), Albury (n).
Saturday: Melton (n).
Monday: Charlton (d), Kilmore (n).
Tuesday: Echuca (n).
Wednesday: Mildura (n).
Thursday: Yarra Valley (d), Bendigo (n).
- Gus Underwood