Talent is no Fabrication

June 16, 2017

Former Goulburn Valley hobby harness trainer Melville ‘‘Mav’’ McKinnis (front row, second from left) died this week aged 93. He is pictured at a 2015 Shepparton Harness Racing Club reunion with some fellow past prominent industry participants.

Injury-plagued but highly talented trotter Fabrication notched his most significant win since claiming the Vicbred Super Series final as a three-year-old when he prevailed in the $20000 Bendigo Trotters Cup last Saturday night.

In a quinella for Goulburn Valley trainers, David Aiken’s Maorisfavouritesun, driven by Mark Pitt, finished second after setting the pace in the 2650m marathon.

Driven by his regular reinsman Nathan Jack, Fabrication settled on the back of fellow front rower Maorisfavouritesun once the field settled down and ran that trotter down in the home straight. The favourite Clover Mac finished third.

Fabrication went close to breaking the 10-year-old race and track record with his mile rate of 2:01.3, just 0.3 outside the record set by the Russ Thomson-trained A Touch Of Flair in winning the same race in March 2007.

Trained at Tatura by David Abrahams, Fabrication was a talented juvenile before leg problems constantly put his career on hold, but as a five-year-old he is fulfilling his potential.

He has only had 32 starts and has won 13 of these with seven placings for more than $124000 in prize money.

Stable on fire

It was a big few days for the Shepparton stable of Steve O’Donoghue last week.

Four-year-old Willem made a successful return to racing in a R1-R0 assignment at Charlton, while stable star San Carlo put in another remarkable run to win at Bendigo last Friday night. Bec Bartley drove the pair to victory.

Willem was having his first start since winning at Cobram in August last year and only his sixth race start, which have produced three wins.

A son of the former champion juvenile Lombo Pocket Watch out of the winning Our Sire Vancelot mare Cobbella, Willem worked to the front early from a wide draw and was never seriously challenged, cruising home with metres to spare over the runner-up Farrahfowler.

San Carlo got no favours winning his 14th race in 16 starts in a hot field.

The six-year-old did his share of work in the run, but outclassed his rivals.

Close to cups double

Kialla horseman John Hallam went within a head of pulling off the Mooroopna pacing and trotters cups double at at Shepparton last Sunday evening.

The Hallam-trained Scorching Along won the trotters cup and Zhukov led to within the shadows of the post to be denied victory by the Peter Romero-trained and Cameron Maggs-driven Red River Hanover in the pacers cup. Rod Petroff drove the Hallam pair.

Scorching Along, coming off a win at her previous start at Bendigo on June 4, proved up to the challenge of overcoming a 30m handicap to take the trotters cup.

In what was a local quinella, Scorching Along beat the Doc Wilson-trained Antiope and the pacemaker Spud in the 2190m standing start event.

Scorching Along has won five times with six seconds and a third from 28 outings.

It was a good night for the locals at the meeting.

Shepparton trainer Isabel Walsh produced Tabatha Bromac to win the three-year-old race and the John Newberry-Matt Newberry team struck with Blue Chip Madam in an R0-R1 event.

Reinswoman Kima Frenning made it back-to-back wins on the David Aiken-trained Glenferrie Captain in a C0 only heat after they had scored at Echuca the previous start.

David Moran also had a win at the meeting, partnering the Albury-trained Fireball Pup to win the R0 four-year-old and older pace.

Mav a true stayer

One of harness racing’s true and most popular characters Melville ‘‘Mav’’ McKinnis died this week at the grand old age of 93.

In racing parlance, Mav was an outstanding stayer.

He was a hobby trainer for most of his adult life after moving originally from Ararat to Picola and then to Shepparton in the 1950s.

Noted Goulburn Valley trainers in the late Ray Long and Ian Hay were among his training colleagues in those early years.

One of the first winners he trained was Popular Son, who was driven to three wins by master reinsman Kevin Murray.

In the 1960s he took a horse called Yokel Yield to campaign in Queensland and he drove and won three races with the pacer on the Gold Coast track within three weeks.

Other pacers he won races with were Tahitian Sails and Sir Gem.

Mav enjoyed a beer or two and loved his trotting. I recall him getting a Melbourne Cup reception when he won a race at Shepparton one night.

Mav was a bit intrigued when the push out rule was introduced into harness racing in the 1980s.

‘‘Don’t know what all this fuss is about, I’ve been doing that all my life,’’ Mav told me with that cheeky grin.

His funeral service will be at 1.30pm today at Owen Mohan Funerals, 111 Corio St, Shepparton.

Rose blossoms

Versatile Euroa horseman Cameron Maggs deserved his win with Hidden Rose at Charlton last week.

The four-year-old daughter of Art Major had not won a race in 15 starts prior to stepping out at Charlton, but had run four seconds and two thirds in those outings.

One of the second placings was at her previous start when she lost a two-horse war down the straight with the Graham Lyon-trained Mana Master at Echuca.

From a good draw at Charlton, Hidden Rose was the likely leader and it panned out that way and she was able to stave off the fast finishing Prince Of Dawn to win by a head in sub two-minute mile rate time.

While Maggs owns Hidden Rose he does not train her, with experienced horseman Vin McConnell having that gig.

Turnbull off the mark

Up to two weeks ago trainer Craig Turnbull was looking for his first winner since moving to the Goulburn Valley to train more than 10 weeks ago.

Safari Rose, a four-year-old brown mare by Safari, provided Turnbull with that win when she saluted at Echuca on May 31.

‘‘Rosey’’ repeated the dose at Charlton last week with another all-the-way win.

Despite drawing barrier six she had sufficient hoof to clear her rivals when the mobile arms folded and in the run to the judge she was able to ward off the favourite Jaccka Wilco to win by a head.

Turnbull is working his team from Russell Thomson’s Gillieston stables while he develops his own training complex on a property he has bought on the Midland Hwy near Tatura.

In right family

In time Moremi Miss, who won for Team Aiken at Melton last week, will probably be best known for her ancestry rather than her racetrack ability.

Moremi Miss was having just her 11th start and with Josh Aiken in the sulky and led from start to finish.

She is a half sister of Lennytheshark, who is by Four Starzzz Shark, while Moremi Miss is by Blissfull Hall.

Moremi Miss has had two wins and although she is no Lennytheshark she has her share of ability.

She is the fourth winner out of the Kevin Newbound mare Botswana, who has also produced Blissfull Boy (20 wins), Led Suitcase (11 wins) and Gaborone (two wins).

Team Aiken missed out in the Golden Mile at Menangle on Saturday night when Lennytheshark led and was run down in the concluding stages to finish third to Tiger Tara, but the stable’s other star act Hectorjayjay cruised to an easy win in his return to race the previous night at Melton when driven by Josh Aiken.

New Phoenix rises

Another ‘‘Phoenix’’ has hit the winners’ circle.

Two-year-old trotter Tomahawk Phoenix gave a flawless display when driven by Mark Pitt for David Aiken at Bendigo at his fourth start last Saturday night.

A son of Angus Hall, Tomahawk Phoenix is owned and was bred by Finley harness racing enthusiasts Ashley Haynes and Chris Shaw, who have had a wonderful run in recent years with Eljaykay Phoenix and Princess Phoenix.

Tomahawk Phoenix is out of the winning Sundon mare Justa Phoenix, who won four of her 21 starts. This is her first foal to race.

A $3.10 chance, Tomahawk beat the favourite Chissy.

Pitt drove a double at Bendigo, also winning on the Emma Stewart-trained three-year-old Our Little General.

Girl power

They did not quite equal their recent Shepparton feat when they drove an Australian first of seven winners on the one program, but the fairer sex still had their share of success at Echuca recently.

Apart from Bec Bartley’s win on Our Bushwacker, the David Aiken-trained pair Hot To Rock and Glenferrie Captain were winners at the meeting who were driven by lady drivers.

Lisa Bartley drove Hot To Rock and workmate Kima Frenning guided Glenferrie Captain.

And Amanda Turnbull chalked up another training success with Lead Singer, who was driven by Nathan Jack.

Long overdue win

Four-year-old pacer Ridethewildside does not win out of turn, but it was his turn again at Echuca recently.

The Nanneella pacer was taken to the lead early by reinsman Josh Duggan and once he settled he proceeded to run his rivals ragged for his fourth career win with 11 placings from 48 starts.

Trained by Col Godden, Ridethewildside had not won since scoring at Swan Hill 11 starts previously on March 1, but had nine top five finishes in seven of those starts, so he was overdue for the win.

Wobelee on his feet

Recent two-year-old trotters Tatlow Stakes winner Wobelee has a strong district connection.

He is by the former star juvenile trotter Down Under Muscles, who is by Muscles Yankee out of the Entrepreneur mare Fionas Flair.

Fionas Flair was trained in her early career by the late John Anderson of Merrigum and was a winner of 15 races with 27 minor placings and just on $80000 in prize money.

Wobelee, who led throughout from barrier one to win the Tatlow, has had just the six starts for four wins, a second and a third and has emerged as the top early two-year-old trotter in Victoria.

Wobelee’s dam is Tupenny Bit, a Sundon mare who did not have a win in five starts, but has left two other winners in Save Our Pennys and Pound Foolish.

Have industry say

District harness fans are reminded of Harness Racing Victoria chief executive David Martin’s visit to Shepparton this Monday night to discuss the industry body’s strategy.

Those attending at the Shepparton Harness Racing Club will get the chance to present feedback at the meeting, which starts at 7.30pm.

All club managers and secretaries are urged to get their committees together to attend along with trainers, drivers, owners and participants.

Shepparton Harness Racing Club general manager Ian McDonald said those who had questions they would like answered about the industry should make it their business to be there.

‘‘It’s their big chance to have their say,’’ McDonald said.

Coming up

Friday: Ballarat (n).

Saturday: Melton (n).

Sunday: Ouyen (d).

Monday: Yarra Valley (d).

Tuesday: Bendigo (n).

Wednesday: Shepparton (d), Ararat (n).

Thursday: Maryborough (d), Kilmore (n).

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