The Laura Crossland juggernaut hit the Leeton Cup meeting in the Riverina by storm on New Year’s night in what was a memorable start to the year for Goulburn Valley trainers and drivers.
The Shepparton horsewoman, who has had a remarkable run of success this season, claimed the Leeton Cup, the Lady Drivers Invitation event and a three-year-old race on the nine-event card.
Crossland drove Scotty Titian, a horse she trains, to an all-the-way win in the $10200 Leeton Cup in which she also produced the third placegetter Lochinvar Delight who was driven by her partner David Moran.
In the $14000 Lady Drivers Invitation, Crossland partnered the David Eurell-trained Lets Katchmeifucan to another pillar-to-post victory in which the Amanda Turnbull-trained and Madi Young-driven Ellmers Hoofing It was runner-up.
Turnbull also tasted major success at the meeting, claiming the $14280 C1-C2 final on Kenrick who was driven to victory by Shepparton reinswoman Lisa Bartley.
Crossland’s third success at the meeting was with Lochinvar Hugo, another pacer she trains, who was driven by Moran to another all-the-way win in a three-year-old event.
Crossland said it was one of the best meetings she had experienced as a trainer-driver.
‘‘It’s up there with the best for sure. There was a big crowd there.’’
Crossland has now trained 26 winners for the season with her 24 triumphs in Victoria having her sitting in seventh place on the state trainers’ list.
In what was a big night for border hoppers and in particular GV trainers and drivers at Leeton Euroa horseman Cameron Maggs claimed the $14280 C0 Only final with Roll One Over, who stormed over the Mark Pitt-driven favourite Untythehood in the concluding stages to complete the heat-final double.
The four-year-old by Rocknroll Hanover who was bred and is owned by Maggs and fellow Euroa horseman David Jack was a 17/1 shot in his heat run at the track on December 26 and a 13/1 shot in the final.
Shepparton’s Pitt also shared in the winners’ spoils at the meeting, scoring in a C1-C2 class race on the Walter Kefford-trained Im Not Crazy who was another all-the-way winner.
Donna, Doc double up
While it was the Laura Crossland show at Leeton, Ardmona’s Donna Castles and Doc Wilson welcomed in the new year with a double at Echuca .
Castles prepares Fatouche who won the trotters handicap with a tough staying performance from a 10m handicap and also the well-supported Emessgee, who broke through for his maiden win in a C0 event after his first 11 starts had yielded five minor placings.
Fatouche, a son of Yankee Spider, who has now won four races, and Emessgee, who is a six-year-old by Artistic Fella, were driven to victory by Doc Wilson.
Other GV trainers and drivers who had a memorable start to the new year were Tatura’s Craig Turnbull, Echuca’s Wayne Lear, Rochester’s Neville Pangrazio and Elmore’s Keith Cotchin.
Turnbull trains Well Disguised, a two times winner with 11 placings in Queensland as a two-year-old, who was driven to victory by Chris Alford and was stepping out for the first time in three-year-old company.
In a top training effort Lear produced the Village Jasper seven-year-old I Hope I Can, who was driven by Greg Sugars, for his first win at his 42nd try in a C0 Only class race.
Pangrazio produced the talented Showgun Thomas to win a C2-C4 class race on protest from Tell Nobody who veered out in the straight when leading and impeding the favourite, while Cotchin produced Kamwood Caeser, who was driven by emerging star reinsman Ryan Duffy, to win a C1 Only class.
Dream is a reality
For a pacer who went winless for 31 starts from April 2016 to August last year, Shepparton-trained pacer A Special Dream has done very well for himself — not to mention his connections.
Since breaking back on to the winning list after that lengthy run of outs when he saluted at Shepparton on August 8 last year, A Special Dream has chalked up six wins, three seconds and four thirds from his last 18 starts.
Before that his previous 114 starts had produced just five wins.
Five of his latest triumphs have been when Ryan Duffy has been in the sulky for his trainer father Steve, the latest last Sunday night when he claimed the $9180 New Year’s Cup feature at a standing-room-only meeting at Albury.
Drawn the pole in the 2170m event for C2 or better class pacers A Special Dream withstood several challenges in transit and was still able to dig deep enough in the run to the judge to win a two-horse war against the second favourite Jay Dee Zed.
A Special Dream prevailed by a head to notch his 11th win from 132 starts which have also produced 34 minor placings.
A Special Dream is a real family horse.
The seven-year-old was bred by Sharyn Britten who races the Live Or Die gelding in partnership with her mother Lorraine Duffy and Bryan Johnstone who are getting a big thrill from the pacer’s ultra consistent form.
He is the one of 10 winners the Shadow Star broodmare Shadow Bay has produced, including the extra-smart Julies Equity who won 22 races and the speedster We Dare To Dream who won 11 races.
Tiana ticks the boxes
Youthful Kyabram trainer-driver Tiana McMahon clocked up a few firsts when she saluted on the Rosie Weidenbach-trained pacer Stuart at the history-making Elmore meeting on Boxing Day.
McMahon was having her first drive for Weidenbach and her first drive in a race at Elmore, a town she was also visiting for the first time.
McMahon was able to hold the lead on Stuart from a poleline draw and led from pillar to post to record the nine-year-old D M Dillinger gelding’s ninth win.
Enjoying the Moment
Northern Victorian trainers enjoyed their share of success at Elmore which was covered for the first time by the TAB and Sky Channel.
Nanneella horseman Col Godden produced In The Moment for a first-up win since recently joining his stables.
Brian Gath had sacked the four-year-old Four Starzzz Shark mare after the recent Gunbower Cup meeting, but at Elmore she proved too good for her rivals in a C0 Only class race with Josh Duggan in the sulky.
‘‘She’s got some bad habits, but she has some genuine speed as well,’’ was how Godden summed up the win.
Another Nanneella-trained pacer to salute was Master Mach Manus for trainer-driver Greg Albert and owners Norm and Joan Visca.
Master Mach Manus sprinted over his rivals and his 2:01.7 mile rate wasn’t far off the track record.
Getting to Noah Ben
The name Ben Woodsford has bobbed up in trots results in recent times, which begs the question: who is Ben Woodsford?
Well, Woodsford is a young, hard-working Kiwi horseman who has joined the Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack stable in Shepparton after formerly working for prominent NSW trainer Shane Tritton.
Only 19, he has been in the Goulburn Valley for only three weeks.
But he has made his mark in that short time in the sulky.
He drove his first Victorian winner, Rocknroll Noah, for Turnbull at Bendigo on December 14.
In that race he ironically beat the Turnbull-trained and driven Benji Mara who has gone on since to win two races in runaway style.
Woodsford’s next Victorian winner came when he won on the Russell Jack-trained Rockon Angel at Elmore on Boxing Day.
The five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding claimed the honours in a stirring tussle with another Shepparton-trained pacer, the Dave Farrar-trained Hayjoshandco.
Rockon Angel had scored in runaway fashion at his previous start at Swan Hill on December 19 and on the strength of that impressive win was a $1.90 favourite for his Elmore engagement.
Elmore officials were happy with the 1000-plus crowd which attended the meeting and at which Harness Racing Victoria’s chief executive David Martin made an appearance and was impressed with the club’s endeavour to make it a memorable day.
Blur in finish vision
Class trotter Kyvalley Blur flew the Australian flag bravely at the New Year’s Eve meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.
After winning the $50000 Cambridge Flying Mile at his previous start on Christmas Eve, Kyvalley Blur got no favours in the $100000 National Trot over the 2700m in the Auckland feature and was forced to race outside the favourite Speeding Spur for the entire trip.
But just when he looked a spent force in the home straight he rallied determinedly to go down narrowly to Temporate and Speeding Spur.
Kyvalley owner-breeder Jim Connelly was on track at Alexandra Park to watch the Brent Lilley-trained and Tim Williams-driven gelding’s courageous performance.
Amanda Turnbull holds the hopes of a Goulburn Valley win in tomorrow night’s $60000 Bendigo Pacing Cup.
Turnbull has The Faithful seeking a third successive win after wins at Melton and in the $20000 Ballarat Lightning Mile at his last two starts.
He has drawn the pole in the 2650m seven-horse field in which the well-drawn rising star Ideal For Real looks the testing material with Moonrock and Messini also expected to make bold bids.
The other feature at Bendigo, the $50000 Maori Mile has drawn a top field with two of the main hopes, previous winner Glenferrie Typhoon drawn the pole and Sparkling Success barrier two.
Ruthless not toothless
Rochester horseman Mark Thompson’s run of success continued with a winner on the last day of 2017 at St Arnaud last Sunday.
Thompson produced Armbro Operative four-year-old Ruthless Armbro from a poleline draw for an all-the-way win in a C1 Only event.
Concession driver James Herbertson drove Ruthless Armbro who in five runs from a spell has now won two races and been placed twice.
Ruthless Armbro is out of the Totally Ruthless mare, Orta Be Ruthless, and is a half brother to the promising Weeks End (by Jet Laag) who is also prepared by Thompson.
Today: Melton (n).
Tomorrow: Bendigo (n).
Sunday: Cobram (d).
Monday: Melton (n).
Tuesday: Kilmore (d).
Wednesday: Ballarat (n).
Thursday: Swan Hill (n).