One of the genuine stayers in Goulburn Valley harness racing circles is about to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Mick Cormican reaches that magical milestone tomorrow and will celebrate the occasion with family and friends at the Shepparton RSL Club on Sunday.
Cormican spent 35 years as a judge for Shepparton Harness Racing Club and the judge’s tower has been named in his honour.
A dairy and mixed farmer at Invergordon all his life, Cormican has passed on his passion for harness racing to his son Laurie and a grandson Mark who helps with the track management at Shepparton on race days.
Mick and Laurie are life members of Shepparton Harness Racing Club.
Mick also received a Volunteer of the Year award from Harness Racing Victoria for his services to the industry.
Mick raced harness horses with his best being the trotter Royal Dress who won the NSW and Victoria trotters derbies.
Grey Sovereign and Jinda were other smart pacers he raced.
Three on deck for Bec
Star Shepparton reinswoman Bec Bartley was the star of the show on Sunday night at the Wangaratta Cup meeting.
Bartley was at her brilliant best driving a winning treble and training her first winner in the process.
The night started with a bang for Bartley when she teamed with her boss Steve O’Donoghue to capture the Wangaratta Cup with Shakahari.
Thanks to a great drive from Bartley, Shakahari, the $3 favourite, stormed home down the stretch to defeat Rockabella Starz, who was driven by Tania Ward, by a neck with the Laura Crossland-trained and driven Hashtag in third place.
Two races later Bartley and O’Donoghue struck again with promising mare She Keeps Coming to bring up their double.
Bartley settled the Art Major four-year-old in the one-out two-back position, before she unleashed a powerful sprint down the home straight to defeat Major League by more than 6m in the George Croxford Memorial Pace for C1 class pacers.
To cap her night Bartley trained her first winner when she steered six-year-old gelding Black Valley to victory in the final race of the night, a T0 or better stand start trot.
After galloping away from his 30m handicap Bartley quickly got Black Valley back down and trotting and he quickly tacked on to the field before taking over the front running with a lap and a half to run.
From there on it looked as though it was all going to be plain sailing for Black Valley, but after kicking away from the chasing pack when straightening up he decided he would have a bit of a gallop and was headed by the favourite and 70m back marker, Forestspider, before Bartley was able to get back down and then fight back to win.
Black Valley has always shown plenty of ability and, now he is back in form, can be followed with some confidence.
Bartley and O’Donoghue weren’t the only driver-trainer combination to have a double at the meeting, with Shepparton reinsman Mark Pitt teaming up with Undera trainer Glenn Freeman to rack up two wins.
Pitt and Freeman opened their account with Rockin In Memphis in a C1 event with the $1.40 favourite sitting parked for the entire journey and then proving too tough in the run home to win by a neck from Stuart, who was driven by gun young Shepparton concession driver Ryan Duffy.
The combination then brought up their double four races later when Pitt steered Mister Zhivago $3.60 favourite to a strong victory after he also sat parked before going on to win by more than 3m against Platinum Power, who was driven by Shepparton reinsman Nathan Jack.
Leading Avenel trainer David Aiken didn’t leave the meeting empty handed either when he teamed up with Zac Phillips to win the first heat of the Vicbred Platinum Country Series K event for maiden three-year-olds with Angel Of Arts.
Other Goulburn Valley drivers to enjoy success on the night were Donna Castles who won on $77.70 bolter Chaos Confusion in the opening event, and Nathan Jack who won the second last race on the Steve Zammit-trained Major Powers.
A Frere night for Jack
Shepparton horseman Nathan Jack continued his recent hot run in feature races last weekend with two winners at last Saturday night’s all-trotters meeting at Melton.
Jack partnered the Dream Vacation gelding Fabrication to win the Woodlands Free For All for Tatura trainer David Abrahams and he also took one of the features on the program, the $60000 Need For Speed Princess final, on Amour De Frere for trainer Anton Golino and Yabby Dam Farms.
Both trotters led throughout to win their respective races and Fabrication’s win, took his prize money earnings to more than $150000.
Jack ushered Fabrication across the face of the field from barrier seven at the start to take up the front running and was never headed.
He was also able to persuade Amour De Frere from barrier six to take up the front running in her race which also proved a winning move.
The previous week 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.
And at Maryborough late last week Jack produced Without You, a pacer he also trains, to win the $12000 Leo Crameri feature at tote odds of more than 28/1.
More money in Bank
It was a good night at Melton for district horsemen last Saturday with Lancaster trainer Russ Thomson taking the Breed For Speed Bronze series with Bank On Betty.
A four-year-old daughter of Shepparton-based bargain sire Bacardi Lindy, Bank On Betty was having her second start after winning her heat at Maryborough on March 1.
Josh Aiken drove Bank On Betty, a four-year-old mare, to her heat and final wins.
While not in the winner’s circle at the mega meeting at Melton, district-trained trotters filled minor placings in feature events.
The promising David Jack-trained and driven Princess Milo finished third to Amour De Frere in the Princess final and the Laura Crossland-trained and driven Sky Majesty, an 80/1 shot, ran out of her skin to finish second behind arguably Australia’s best female trotter Red Hot Tooth in the Breed For Speed Gold series final.
However, Crossland had kept her fantastic strike rate up at Maryborough during the week when she produced former New Zealander Share The Road for her second Australian win from three starts.
She ran second at Swan Hill at her Aussie debut on February 13 and then atoned with a win at Shepparton on February 28.
Shepparton horseman Mark Pitt was also a winner at Maryborough, partnering the exciting Emma Stewart-trained Mach Three three-year-old Konan to his sixth win in eight starts.
Diamonds for Lisa
Shepparton reinswoman Lisa Bartley made the most of her long trip to Young for its cup meeting last Saturday night.
Bartley drove the Nathan Jack-trained Eye See Diamonds to an all-the-way victory in a C3-C5 race and in her only other drive for the night was runner-up on the Steve Turnbull-trained Pump The Brakes in a C2 Only class race.
Bartley accompanied some other Jack-trained pacers to the meeting while he was busy driving a double at Melton the same night.
Two other Jack runners — War Dan Bad Girl and Majordan — ran second and third respectively in the Young Oaks and Young Cup when driven by Amanda Turnbull.
In Cruza control
Ultra consistent pacer Sanna Cruza completed a hat-trick of wins when she outclassed her rivals last week at Yarra Valley.
Trained by Avenel horseman David Aiken and driven by his son Josh, Sanna Cruza was coming off wins at Shepparton and Melton and again proved too classy for her rivals in a C2-C3 class affair.
Sanna Cruza has now won 10 of 40 starts with 12 seconds and four thirds and her last seven starts have produced four wins and three seconds.
Sanna Cruza wasn’t the only district winner at the meeting with Nathan Jack driving Are You With Me for trainer Bill Polidano.
Today: Melton (n).
Tomorrow: Kilmore Cup (n).
Sunday: Boort Cup (d).
Monday: Melton (d).
Tuesday: Cranbourne (n).
Wednesday: Echuca (n).
Thursday: Stawell (d), Bendigo (n).