Ben Woodsford is wasting no time in showing Victorian trots fans he is a promising reinsman.
The young Kiwi landed two winners in the first couple of weeks of relocating from the Shane Tritton stables at Menangle to the Amanda Turnbull-Nathan Jack training establishment at Shepparton a month ago and at last Sunday’s Cobram Cup meeting he produced a double dose of fine reinsmanship.
He got the chocolates on the Turnbull-trained Big Mach and also on the Russell Jack-prepared Joezac.
Woodsford brought Big Mach with a perfectly timed run to blitz his rivals in the $10000 Peter Ennals Cobram Caravans Pace for C2-C3 class pacers and in another daring drive on Joezac landed that pacer a clear winner a C1 Only event.
Last at the 600m Big Mach swept around the field with a withering burst in the back straight and careered away to beat the Stuart Govers-trained and Tania Ward-driven outsider Ramblenroller by more than 20m with the Jeff and Ben Gledhill team filling the minor placing with Slice Of Life.
In a contrasting drive in a C1 Only event Woodsford turned the handle bars down on Joezac at the start to take up the front running and was never in danger of being run down.
He beat the Wayne Potter-trained and Nathan Jack-driven favourite All In Your Hands by nearly 7m with a long gap to the third placegetter Recork.
Woodsford actually owns Joezac who had a 1:53.3 PB during a four-race winning spree early last year.
One of those wins was at Shepparton when he was owned and trained by Albury horseman Tim Doherty.
A five-year-old gelded son of Dawn Ofa New Day, Joezac has now won five races and been placed six times in 26 starts.
After winning at Cranbourne on November 26, Big Mach was certainly working up to another win with two seconds and a third at his previous three outings. His winning mile rate of 1:56.3 for the 2170m trip was a PB.
A four-year-old son of Mach Three out of the Elsu mare Outback Girl, Big Mach is building an impressive record with eight wins and 10 placings from 32 starts.
Woodsford is a concession reinsman open to outside drives.
Never ending Dream
Another chapter has been added to the A Special Dream storyline.
Hot on the heels of his win at the New Year’s eve Albury meeting, the Shepparton-trained pacer entered new territory last Friday night, winning his first M0 class race at Melton.
Driven a treat by concession reinsman Darby McGuigan, the Steve Duffy-trained six-year-old was able to hold the back of the favourite and pacemaker Firenglow and run that pacer down in the home straight for an effortless win.
And besides paying more than $9 for the win which no doubt pleased his growing band of admirers A Special Dream sliced seconds off his PB mile rate, clocking a sizzling 1:52.2 for the 1720m trip which was easily the quickest on the 10-race program.
A Special Dream’s latest win — his 12th — has boosted his stake earnings to more than $80000 and he’ll be trying to boost that tomorrow night when he tackles the John Brain Memorial at the Shepparton Gold Cup meeting.
Talented trotting mare Sky Majesty made a winning return to racing at Maryborough last week.
The five-year-old daughter of Skyvalley outclassed hers rivals from a 20m backmark over the 2190m trip for an effortless win to continue the remarkable run of success her Shepparton trainer Laura Crossland has been enjoying this season.
Since taking over the training of Sky Majesty Crossland has produced the mare for six wins, six seconds a third and a fourth from 14 starts.
Maggs is on a Roll
Euroa horseman Cameron Maggs has been making his mark around his old stomping ground in the Riverina with his four-year-old pacer Roll One Over.
After winning a C0 heat and final at the Leeton carnival on Boxing Day and New Year’s night, Roll One Over completed the hat-trick of wins in the Riverina when he won at Temora last Friday night.
While he was at generous figure odds in his Leeton wins punters were wised up at Temora and he was sent out a $3.50 favourite.
Echuca trots stalwart Rob Owen has been battling ill health for some time, but he got a nice tonic last Saturday night when the pacer he part owns Messini cleaned up in the $60000 Petstock Bendigo Pacing Cup.
Driven a patient race by Chris Alford, the Brent Lilley-trained Messini powered over his more fancied rivals at the finish of the 2650m marathon to notch his 24th win and boost his prizemoney earnings to more than $650000.
Owen is one of the partners in the syndicate along with former Seymourites Gary Dowling and John Wilkinson who race the seven-year-old by Art Major.
This trio was in the syndicate which hit the jackpot with the first pacer it owned and raced, Newsbreaker, who won 30 races under the guidance of then Avenel trainer and now Harness Racing Victoria starter Graeme Morgan.
Messini will try to build on his impressive resume this Saturday night when he tackles the $100000 South Australian Pacing Cup.
Seeing light with Moth
Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson would have to be popular with Victoria’s leading trainer Emma Stewart.
Wilson has driven four times for Stewart for three wins.
He made it two wins on Flying Moth at Cobram on cup day when the four-year-old Art Major mare took a division of the Benstud Pace for C1 Only pacers.
Wilson said he had driven another winner for Stewart ‘‘a long time ago at a Mildura meeting’’ and it with the three recent drives on Flying Moth were the only other times he had driven for the premier trainer.
‘‘The only reason I’m driving Flying Moth is that the owners want me to,’’ he said.
Flying Moth was another pacer to establish a PB mile rate at Cobram with her 1:54.4 effort, which included a sizzling 55.4 last half, the quickest on the nine-event card.
No hiding talent
While top young reinsman Mark Pitt missed by a head in the big one — the pacing cup — at Cobram on Sunday all wasn’t lost.
Earlier in the program he had steered the Emma Stewart-trained talented three-year-old Concealment to victory in a heat of the Cec Berger Memorial three-year-old pace.
A son of Art Major, Concealment was having his first trip to the races since August when he took the Silver division of the Breeders Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings final at Geelong.
At Cobram Concealment was backed into a $1.20 favourite for the 1670m trip and led throughout to win comfortably in 1:55.3 PB mile rate.
Pitt has been in the sulky for three of Concealment’s five wins.
Star bobs up again
Die Laughing gelding Shelleys Star is a pacer who doesn’t win out of turn — and it was his turn again last Sunday.
Winless since scoring at Shepparton in August Shelleys Star had not saluted in 18 starts before claiming the Katunga Lucerne Mill C0-C1 class pace at Cobram.
With Kevin Weidenbach Jr in the sulky for his Wahring trainer mother Rosie, Shelleys Star got the job done — at the juicy tote odds of nearly 28/1.
Shelleys Star just made it to the finishing line ahead of another rank outsider, the Greg Lewis-trained and Ben Gledhill-driven Grinlikeastar, with a short half-head separating the pair.
Lewis also had the third placegetter Advanced Warfare who was driven by Greg Sugars.
It was Shelleys Star’s third win from 52 tries.
Thankful for help
Harston horseman Dennis Paton says he has been ‘‘overwhelmed’’ by the support of the trots industry following a fire in the lead-up to Christmas that destroyed his main shed and all of his harness racing equipment.
‘‘I just want to say that the response has been absolutely unbelievable,’’ Paton said.
‘‘We’ve had people helping us out from all over Australia and on behalf of my wife, Shirley, and my daughter, Kaylene, I want to say how thankful we are. We’re definitely overwhelmed by it.’’
Thankfully none of Paton’s horses or family were injured.
Shepparton reinsman Nathan Jack had a good night at Melton on Monday with a winning double aboard trotters.
He partnered the Wayne Potter-trained Miss Invasion to an all-the-way win and also was in the sulky of former NSW-trained Parisian Chic who scored in his first start for new trainer Anton Golino.
Now a five-year-old by super trotting sire Love You, Parisian Chic won the NSW Breeders Challenge two-year-old final and has now won seven of her 15 starts with four minor placings.
She had had one previous start in Victoria, running second to Missandie in a heat of the Breeders Crown for two-year-old trotting fillies.
Elmore horseman Keith Cotchin also savoured a win at the meeting, scoring with Brackenreid, a three-year-old by Western Terror who was having his sixth start. He is the first foal from Astreos mare Bebop, a winner of 11 races.
A winning Encounter
The Newberrys struck again with Village Encounter at Kilmore on Tuesday night.
Coming off a win at Shepparton on December 21 two starts previously the four-year-old daughter of Village Jolt, driven by Matthew Newberry, upset the favourite Rocknroll Dude in a C1 Only event at the juicy odds of nearly 18/1.
Trained at Bunbartha by Matthew’s father John, Village Encounter, who only started racing mid last year, has now chalked up five wins and two placings from 16 starts.
Village Encounter is out of Shez Madam Jasper, a Village Jasper mare, who has left five winners.
Tonight: Melton (n).
Tomorrow: Shepparton (n).
Sunday: Hamilton (d).
Monday: Boort (d), Melton (n).
Tuesday: Bendigo (n).
Wednesday: Mildura (n).
Thursday: Cobram (d), Cranbourne (n).