Birthday cheer in Melton win
HIGHLY-TALENTED Charlton harness racing driver Ryan Sanderson had an extra reason to celebrate his 20th birthday last Saturday (June 24)—thanks to a surprise win at the Tabcorp Park Melton meeting.
Five-year-old gelding Vanquish Stride (Bettors Delight), raced by big Sydney owner Emilio Rosati and his wife Mary, snatched a narrow win at 25/1 in the Waste Sense Blacks A Fake Free For All.
“He was always travelling nicely three back on the pegs and once we got up the sprint lane, I thought he was a big chance,” an elated Ryan said.
“He’s the type of horse who runs up to them, but never really goes on and puts them away. But we got there, and dad (Shane) had him at his best.
“I love driving him because he always puts in. Back a while ago he finished in the top four at each of his 15 starts.”
“It certainly added to the night of my birthday. I met up with a few of the boys later in Ballarat for some celebrations and we had some fun.”
Vanquish Stride has been a great money-spinner since joining the Sanderson stable. That was his second Melton victory, while he has been a prolific winner in the country at tracks including Swan Hill (twice), Horsham, Stawell, Bendigo and Shepparton.
Vanquish Stride is one of half a dozen prepared by the Sanderson stable for the Rosatis.
“The horse has blinding speed and is so quick over a couple of hundred metres,” Shane said.
“It’s really a credit to him that he’s won over $120,000 because he races with a breathing problem and it would restrict his stamina a bit,” he said.
Mildura road trip more memorable than most
VICTORIAN trainer-driver Alex Ashwood has done the four-hour plus road trip from Bendigo to Mildura harness racing meetings more times than he would like to remember over the years – but Friday (Jun 23) was one he’ll never forget.
Ashwood, who from his days as a junior driver has made almost weekly treks to Mildura, took a team of four on Friday and managed wins with three of those. But a couple of catch drives at the meeting allowed the 29-year-old to write his own little bit of history, recording five driving winners for the first time in his career.
Ashwood got the ball rolling with one of his own stable, the favorite in the opening race, Maggacis (Always B Miki) for enthusiastic Mildura owner Ryan Worthington. He then won with $21 chance Highway Writer (Sportswriter) for local trainer Sandra O’Connor and followed up for Bendigo trainer Julie Douglas in the feature race on Rick Reilly (Sportswriter).
His own stablemates Cotchinellie (Hes Watching) and Kailani Lass (Somebeachsomewhere) rounded off the Ashwood “fab five”.
The former Tasmanian and his partner Tayla French have recently made a long-awaited move to their own property at Axedale, south of Bendigo, after being based for several seasons at the Bendigo Harness Racing Centre at Lords Raceway.
As his performance on Friday testifies, Ashwood is a more than capable reinsman, but prefers to leave most of the race driving to French.
Ashwood is better known for his astute conditioning as a trainer, with a runners-to-placings strike rate at better than 50 percent over three seasons of training (his winning strike rate is 24%). His 179 wins (from 731 starters) include six group and listed victories, including a Gr1 3yo Vicbred final with talented trotter Parisian Artiste.
Fond memories of industry figure
THERE would be few harness racing fans without fond memories of larger-than-life industry figure Ian Forsyth, who passed away on Saturday (Jun 24).
A doyen of the trucking industry through his business Hume Highway Trucks, at Craigieburn, Forsyth was a passionate trots man whose love for the equine industry also extended to thoroughbreds in the past decade.
Forsyth was a popular figure when fielding as a bookmaker at the Showgrounds and Moonee Valley over many seasons.
Victorian trainer Tony Peacock enjoyed a long friendship with Forsyth and said he would be sadly missed by many in the harness racing industry.
“Everyone loved him – he was a terrific bloke and respected by everyone who came across him in the sport and in the trucking industry,” Peacock said.
“His first really good horse would have been Doctor Casey, back in the showgrounds days, and we raced a nice horse together Go Right NZ (Gee Whiz II) in the 1990s. But he would have had hundreds of horses over the years, in harness racing and thoroughbreds.”
Forsyth, who was 72, had been diagnosed with Lymph cancer, but had been confident of overcoming the disease.
He is survived by his wife, Alice, an Elder of the Cummergunja area.
New mares series spices up winter season
A NEW series for mid-class pacing mares will give some welcome zip to the quiet regional Victorian winter features calendar.
Echuca Harness Racing Club will host the first of two heats of the Heidi George Classic on July 18, followed by a further heat at Swan Hill on July 26 and the $20,000 final at Bendigo on August 2.
The series offers an opportunity for mid-class pacing mares (NR up to 54) to make their mark across an often-quiet winter racing period.
Initiated by Kyabram standardbred stud Llowalong Farms, winners across the series will not only be competing for increased prizemoney but presentation rugs and free services to one of the stallions on Llowalong’s classy 2023 roster.
The inaugural Heidi George Classic winner will also receive an etched crystal decanter trophy.
“It’s so important for the broader industry to support mare and filly racing as it ensures we have viable commercial markets for fillies and sets up a progression to the breeding barn where all our race stock comes from,” Llowalong Farms principal Dr Kath McIntosh said.
“Llowalong Farms is proud to contribute through our support of this series, and with the addition of a stallion service to each winner, hopefully we can encourage owners to have a go at breeding this season too.”
The series is named after McIntosh’s two daughters, both avid equestriennes and harness racing fans.
Llowalong Farms have just announced their full 2023 roster which includes freshman sire King Of The North for his first season down under, as well as the Australian pacing star with all-American bloodlines, Poster Boy.
An open day where sires will be on parade will be hosted at the farm on Sunday 10 September.
The stud is also continuing their $400,000 Stallion Bonus, which will see state 1] eligible progeny by a select list of Llowalong sires able to add a $100,000 bonus to the state’s major stakes two-year-old races.
by Terry Gange, for Harnesslink