Shepparton horseman Nathan Jack claimed two of the feature events in a big night last Saturday night at the Cranbourne Cup meeting.
Jack produced War Dan to win the $30000 Three Year Old Cup and also debutant Abouttime to claim the time-honoured $20000 Sapling Stakes.
Jack, who prepares both pacers, drove War Dan to victory, while Mark Pitt was in the sulky for Abouttime’s win.
War Dan was forced to race outside the hot favourite Smart Little Shard throughout the Group Three Caduceus Three-Year-Old Cup and got the better of that pacer on the line to score a courageous third win from seven starts.
A son of top sire Bettors Delight, War Dan had no luck in recent Victoria and NSW Derby heats, but has always shown well above average ability.
Abouttime, a son of Art Major, led throughout after making a swift getaway from barrier four off the mobile to account for Soho Thunderstruck and the Cameron Maggs-trained Art Major debutant Salvador Mundi.
Filly is no sham
Euroa horseman David Jack has produced another promising young trotter and possibly the early measuring stick in the two-year-old trotters’ ranks.
Last week at Maryborough Jack unveiled Sciamachy who had the honour of winning the first race for the season for the freshmen trotters.
Giving a flawless display, the daughter of Lucky Chucky had no problems accounting for her rivals in the 1690m event from the standing start with an impressive mile rate of 2:08.4 which included a 59.6 last half and a 29.3 final split.
Jack knows all about preparing young trotters, having trained the all-conquering juvenile Im Stately a few years back.
He wouldn’t be drawn into comparisons of both youngsters at the same age, but described Sciamachy as a big strong filly with a lot of ability, but who was a work in progress.
Sciamachy’s sire Lucky Chucky, a son of Windsongs Legacy, was a racetrack star whose 23 starts produced 14 wins and more than $2 million in prizemoney.
Plenty of district success last week at Shepparton with Nathan Jack taking the driving honours with a double and women drivers and trainers leaving their mark.
Jack reined the impressive two-year-old debutant, the curiously named, Animal to victory and also steered Hakuna, who is trained by his father Russell, to victory.
Animal, who was a $1.30 chance, never gave his rivals a chance in an impressive debut leading throughout to account for Rosarito Beach by 12m with Bettenbetter a distant third.
A son of Art Major out of the prolific winning Pacific Fella racemare Ima Spicey Lombo, Animal peeled off a 57.9 last half and a 28.2 last quarter to leave his rivals in his wake.
In the three-year-old race, Jack had Hakuna parked on the back of the Laura Crossland-trained debutant, pacesetter and favourite Elianna Franco and she finished strongly to beat the Josh Aiken-trained and driven Im Scorching with Elianna Franco holding down third place.
A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere Hakuna has been a consistent money earner for connections with three wins and 10 placings from 17 starts.
It’s on Ward for Kenny
Congupna horseman Scott Stewart produced Its Just Kenny for a win in a C2 Only class race at Shepparton which was one of three wins on the program to benefit the Teal cancer fundraiser.
Its Just Kenny was driven to victory by Tania Ward, who was having her first drive on the pacer who broke a run of 15 starts without a win in claiming the honours.
In all of Its Just Kennys previous 39 starts Stewart had driven the pacer.
Ward worked the six-year-old son of Kenneth J to the front early in the race and he was never headed, beating the Russell Jack-trained and Ben Woodsford-driven roughie Joezac by nearly 9m.
It was win 10 for Its Just Kenny whose previous win was achieved almost a year ago at Melton.
But a second and a third at Shepparton at his previous two starts had suggested Its Just Kenny was about to return to the winners’ list and punters supported him into a $2.70 favourite.
Operator powers up
A woman’s touch also did the trick for the Linton Power-trained Tally Operator at Shepparton.
Avenel reinswoman Kima Frenning drove Tally Operator to his eighth win from 54 tries and his first in 15 starts.
Frenning had Tally Operator sitting on the back of the pacemaker Alp De Huez in the 2190m event for C3-C4 class pacers and he was up to the challenge in the home straight via the sprint lane.
It was the fifth time Frenning had driven Tally Operator and it was her first win on the Armbro Operative six-year-old.
Road rage on track
Shepparton horsewoman Laura Crossland also struck a blow at Shepparton for the female drivers — and the Teal cancer appeal — winning with Share The Road at only the mare’s second Australian start.
Share The Road didn’t get any favours in the run, but powered away from her rivals at the business end of the C0 Only 2190m race to win impressively from San Domino by more than 10m with daylight to the rest of the field.
A four-year-old daughter of Tintin In America, Share The Road had three starts for a win, a second and a third in New Zealand before joining the Crossland barn and on her latest effort should be a regular in the winner’s stall.
The Secret is out
Extra smart trotter Dark Secret made it back-to-back wins for Ardmona trainer Donna Castles and reinsman Doc Wilson to send punters home on a winning note from Shepparton.
Dark Secret, who had won at his previous start at Maryborough on February 19 in his first outing as a four-year-old, had to work hard for his Shepparton success to just hold out the Mark Lee-trained and Stacey Towers-driven Col Du Galibier with the improving Brian Bourke-trained roughie Starlight Storm running a bold race to fill the minor placing.
A four-year-old son of Bad Boy Truscott, Dark Secret is building an impressive resume with three wins and four placings from 12 starts.
Money in the bank
Lancaster horseman Russell Thomson has handled some top trotters down the years and he could have another smart one on his hands in Bank On Betty, an impressive winner last week at Maryborough.
Thomson entrusted top concession reinsman Josh Aiken with the drive on Bank On Betty, who was making her debut in the bronze division of the Lyn McPherson Breed for Speed series.
Aiken led early, handed up to Betty Hall and when he got space turning for home was able to get the better of the hot favourite Star In Sight with a strong finishing burst.
Bank On Betty, who is by Bacardi Lindy out of the Sundon mare Sunshine Annie, who has had just the two foals, rated a respectable 2:00.5 for the 1609m trip, with a slick 58.4 last half.
In the final tomorrow night at Melton, Bank On Betty has drawn barrier three in the final.
Going for speed
It’s Breed For Speed finals time at Melton tomorrow night and one final with a lot of district interest is the Group One Princess final for three-year-old trotting fillies.
In this $60000 feature David Jack has Princess Mila coming from a poleline draw, David Abrahams will be represented by Theresastormcoming from gate five and the Patrick Ryan-prepared Allthemoves has drawn barrier nine, two off the second row.
Echuca trainer Fay McEwan has Majestic Time contesting the $60000 Need for Speed Prince final for three-year-old colts and geldings, while Laura Crossland has Sky Majesty in the $50000 Gold Series for mares.
In the Bronze series, Russ Thomson lines up Bank On Betty from barrier three.
In the $100000 Australasian Grand Prix feature Sky Petite and Kyvalley Blur hold the hopes of a district win.
One interesting runner at the meeting is Custodian, who is contesting the $14000 Monte for trainer Nathan Jack.
Custodian is returning from an injury-enforced break of 10 months, but is extra smart and won the Breeders Crown final and the NSW Trotters Derby as a three-year-old and has prizemoney of more than $157000 from seven wins, five seconds and a third from 15 starts.
Winkn gets nod in
Echuca Harness Racing Club stalwarts Norm Visca and wife Joan enjoyed a win at Gunbower last Sunday as legendary veteran horseman Brian Gath gave a reminder of his ability to still be able to train and drive a winner.
Gath prepares and drives Winkn Nod who got home by a head from the Donna Castles-trained and driven Tennaya, who was massive in defeat, in a C1 Only class race for four-year-olds and older.
In the run Gath took the lead early before handing up to Acropolis Lass and once in the open in the run to judge was able to nab Tennaya, who had audaciously taken the lead despite being three wide for most of the trip, right on the finishing line.
Winkn Nod doesn’t win out of turn, but is an honest pacer who had not finished further back than fifth in his previous 17 starts which included six second placings.
Your head’s on camera
Ninety-five per cent of Victorian trots meetings will be covered by head-on camera footage following a Harness Racing Victoria initiative jointly funded by the Victorian Government’s Racing Infrastructure Fund.
Twelve country trots venues have already or will have head-on cameras installed as part of the $200809 project.
The government will contribute $100405 to the project.
HRV chairman of stewards Nick Murray said head-on cameras were an important tool to enhance the integrity of harness racing.
Works have been completed at Shepparton, Maryborough, Echuca, Horsham and Geelong.
Today: Maryborough (d), Geelong (n).
Tomorrow: Melton (n).
Sunday: Wangaratta Cup (t), Birchip (d).
Monday: Horsham (d).
Tuesday: Bendigo (n), Albury (n).
Wednesday: Mildura (n).
Thursday: Shepparton (d), Ballarat (n).