The curtain has come down on the racing career of outstanding Kyabram-trained trotting mare Claudys Princess.
Wear and tear has contributed to ongoing problems to keep the seven-year-old Bacardi Lindy mare racing and the decision was made this week to retire her to the life of a broodmare.
As co-breeder with Josh Pell and owner of Claudys Princess, it has been an unbelievable ride for me personally and the other members of the Catchya Syndicate which has raced the mare throughout her career.
With not even one potential buyer when she was offered for sale as a scrawny yearling with a reserve of only $4000 at a mixed sale run by the Shepparton Harness Racing Club in 2012, Princess has done pretty well for herself.
In fact, 22 wins, 14 seconds and five thirds from 53 starts and stake earnings of more than $400000 which has her sitting in fourth place on the Australian all-time female trotters money earners list.
Only household names such as Scotch Notch, Somethingaboutmaori and La Coocaracha have won more prizemoney.
Three of her five Group One wins were in finals of the Vicbred Super Series at the ages of two, three and four.
The only other female Australian trotter to achieve this feat was the David Aiken-trained super trotter Spidergirl.
Claudys Princess claimed almost every feature event for trotting fillies in her three-year-old season, winning the Victoria and NSW Oaks, the Vicbred final and finishing second to her great rival Illawong Helios in the Victoria Derby.
Top reinsman Gavin Lang partnered her to 21 of her 22 wins with NSW horseman Darren Hancock in the sulky when she won the La Coocaracha trotting mares feature at Menangle in 2015 in personal best career mile rate time of 1:55.5.
But she was credited with a 1:54.7 time when she finished second to Glenferrie Typhoon in the Maori Mile at Bendigo last year.
Shepparton and Kilmore trotters cup triumphs and a mares Breeders Crown title are also on her impressive resume.
Nurtured by Kyabram trainer Graeme Lyon in her two-year-old season, she provided Lyon with his first Group One winner when she won the Vicbred Super Series final in 2013.
Mick Blackmore took the reins as Claudys Princess’ trainer when she was a three-year-old and he went on to guide her to 21 wins.
Blackmore this week described Claudys Princess as a once-in-a-lifetime horse who had enabled him to compete at the elite racing level in the industry for several years.
‘‘She stood out because of her easygoing graceful action, great nature and her iron will to win,’’ Blackmore said.
‘‘Not many horses could come back from a bleeding attack she suffered when a five-year-old and still be competitive at the very top level.
‘‘In her very last race in August this year when she was having niggling injury problems she was still gutsy enough to run second to the champion Keystone Del, a million dollar earner.
‘‘Probably her best career run ever though was in the Victoria Derby when she ran second.
‘‘It’s been a privilege to train her and I just love her for the good times she has given us and the beautiful mare she is.’’
Connections will wait anxiously for her first foal, hopefully by Majestic Son, to continue the dream.
Race on for Inter spot
Shepparton-trained pacer San Carlo is one of seven pacers striving in the third and final round of heats tonight at Perth’s Gloucester Park to book their spot in next week’s Inter Dominion final.
The barrier news was good for San Carlo’s attempt tonight with the Steve O’Donoghue-trained and Bec Bartley-driven pacer coming up with the prize barrier one draw.
‘‘We are one of seven horses looking for the last four spots in the final,’’ O’Donoghue said after Tuesday night’s second round heats in which San Carlo’s third placing has him in 10th spot on the qualifying list.
‘‘If we place ahead of the ones just behind us on the points ranking, we’ll hold our spot in the field of 10 for the final.’’
O’Donoghue said San Carlo had his problems handling the tight Gloucester Park circuit in the first round of heats last Friday night and he would shoe the pacer today after flying to Perth last night in a bid to get him more tractable around the tight circuit.
San Carlo will clash with fellow Victorian star Lennytheshark who has barrier seven tonight for Avenel trainer David Aiken.
Lenny was beaten into third place when a hot a favourite in Tuesday night’s heats, but looks to have enough points after a first round heat win to make the final.
The draw has been unkind to him again and he has to come from barrier seven tonight.
Some experts believe Lennytheshark can’t win the final on Tuesday night’s effort, but it wouldn’t be the first time he has been written off and has bounced back.
It’s getting a bit like a recording, but I’m sure Laura Crossland does not mind.
The Shepparton horsewoman was again in the winner’s circle last week at Shepparton to continue her remarkable season as a trainer driver.
Her latest win was recorded on recent stable addition Scottish Titian who put in a remarkable run to win a C0 Only class over the 2190m trip.
Scottish Titian was second last and 40m from the runaway leader and favourite Royal Capone going into the back straight and was still 20m from that pacer heading for home.
But Royal Capone was out on his feet and Scottish Titian kept coming to run him down in an impressive PB 1:55.9 mile rate, easily the quickest on the 10-race card.
Crossland has produced Scottish Titian for three starts for two wins after the Four Starzzz Shark four-year-old gelding joined her stable after two wins from six starts in NSW.
The latest win has taken Crossland’s number of winners for the season to 20 from 55 starters which gives her the best strike rate by a trainer in Victoria.
Clive does a little jive
It’s been a big week for Shepparton horseman Clive Dalton.
Dalton savoured one of his biggest career wins when injury-prone, but highly talented, John Of Arc lowered the colours of some top pacers in the $20000 Sokyola Sprint last Saturday night at Melton.
Driven by Nathan Jack, John Of Arc came from last straightening up to mow down the small field of rivals with Messini, who had made the pace, hanging on for second ahead of the short-priced favourite Tee Cee Bee Macray.
Not only did John Of Arc win, but he posted a PB 1:53.4 mile rate in winning his 19th race from 40 starts.
It was only the fourth start in Victoria for John Of Arc who made last year’s Perth Inter Dominion final.
After nearly five years training in Western Australia Dalton returned to Victoria and Shepparton earlier this year and John Of Arc was one of a team he brought back with him.
Dalton is now eyeing off some more lucrative races with the eight-year-old son of Courage Under Fire.
John Of Arc’s win came two days after Dalton had produced another former Western Australian pacer, Michael Joseph, to win at Shepparton.
The four-year-old son of Bettors Delight had won three races before coming east and has now won four of his 14 starts in Victoria for Dalton.
Driven by Jack, Michael Joseph zipped home in 56.2 and was one of two winners on the program for Jack.
Jack also won on the Wayne Potter-trained I’m Joe Louis in a C0 Only class race in a night of doubles.
Potter also produced the David Moran-driven Itsadanceoff to beat the Russell Jack-trained and Mark Pitt-driven outsider Rockon Angel to record a training double.
Pitt didn’t go home empty handed from the meeting though, winning on the Chris Chant-trained Strong Sensation at odds of nearly 20/1 in a C1 Only class event.
Josh raking in dosh
Avenel horseman Josh Aiken is a trainer-driver on a roll at the moment and he also enjoyed dual success last week at Shepparton.
Aiken was successful on the promising trotter Skyflyer, trained by his father David, and also won on Sluggem for trainer Brent Lilley.
A five-year-old son of Skyvalley, Skyflyer was too good for some handy trotters in notching his sixth win in 28 starts.
There have also been 11 placings, including seven seconds.
Skyflyer’s dam, Jauriol, was a familiar name to Goulburn Valley trots fans winning 22 of her 64 starts and just on $250000 in prizemoney.
Skyflyer is only the third foal of Jauriol’s to race and win; the other two being the talented Endsino and Joekenn who were multiple winners.
Aiken drove seven winners last week and figures prominently on the drivers’ premiership lists at the moment.
He is sitting third on the state drivers’ premiership with 32 wins from 107 drives, he leads the concession drivers’ premiership and is in fourth place in the metropolitan drivers’ award.
It’s all Lohki dokey
Honest trotter Lord Lohki doesn’t win out of turn, but a race last week at Shepparton looked likely to be one he could salute in ... and it turned out that way.
Harston trainer-driver Dennis Paton worked Lord Lohki to the front early in the 2190m race and dictated terms from then on at the front of the field.
The five-year-old son of The Pres and the Lancaster-trained Levina, the $2.80 favourite, singled out down the straight to fight out the finish and Lord Lohki dug deep to record his third win.
Lord Lohki was coming off a third and a fourth at his previous two starts, but was still nice tote odds of more than 6/1.
The Carmel Belot-trained mare Levina is crying out to break her maiden status with three second placings now at her last three starts.
Set to shake islands
Kyvalley breeder Jim Connelly is sending veteran star trotter Kyvalley Blur back to New Zealand this month to contest feature events in the December-January period.
Connelly enjoyed success with the 10-year-old last year in New Zealand and believes he is going well enough again to be competitive against the best in Kiwiland.
The Lyell Creek Stakes on December 15 at Alexander Park will be where the Brent Lilley-trained gelding will kick off his NZ campaign and the National Trot on Christmas Eve is another of his targets.
Today: Melton (n).
Tomorrow: Cranbourne (n).
Sunday: Stawell (d).
Monday: Melton (n).
Tuesday: Mildura (n).
Wednesday: Shepparton (n).
Thursday: Charlton (d), Melton (n).