Reconstruction of Goulburn and Grafton green-lighted
The newly reconstituted Greyhound Racing NSW Board came together for the first time on Tuesday night.
The upcoming TAB Million Dollar Chase would have been one topic of discussion but there were two, strategic big ticket items on the agenda - the imminent redevelopment of Grafton and Goulburn racetracks.
The multi-million dollar projects have been long on the drawing board and after protracted delays, the wheels of industry are about to turn.
Grafton elected to conclude their popular July Carnival before works started and Grafton may get the facelift started in September.
The new Grafton track will be 600 metres in circumference and will have three distance of approximately 360m, 450m and 620m.
The project may take up to 16 weeks with a return to racing in the first quarter of 2020.
At Goulburn, not only will a new 'one-track' be installed, a straight track (one of three new sites in the state) will attain 26 dates per annum, each attaining TAB coverage.
And Goulburn will not be the only venue for straight track racing. Richmond has long been seen as a viable additional straight track facility and another is being considered in the Northern Rivers - potentially at Tweed Heads.
Goulburn has been allocated more than $700,000 for the installation of high-end lighting which will bring night racing to the city for the first time.
Like Grafton, capital works will commence in coming weeks yet unlike their Northern Rivers cousins, the kennel facility needs no attention - it is state of the art.
Racing dates are to be determined yet both precincts will be looking to maximise racing dates (twice weekly?) as well as commercial opportunities.
Emma's rivals face a real dilemma
Emma Stewart has more horses in work than any other harness racing trainer in the country and her domination of Victorian racing has gazumped all in the history of the code - Bob and Vinnie Knight, Ron and Andrew Peace included.
Stewart, based at Smythes Creek, south west of Ballarat.
Incredibly only last month, Stewart's horses filled 16 of of the 18 possible placings in the six final of the Alabar Farm Vicbred Super Series Finals and her attack on feature races continues on Saturday.
She will dominate one of Victoria's biggest racing days - the Breeders' Crown Finals at Melton with star colt Be Happy Mach the headline act in the two year-old colts and gelding series.
Aside from Be Happy Mach, Stewart's heat winner Amelia Rose and Maajida in the two year old fillies final (2240 metres). Having drawn gate three, Maajida is the standout pick in the 12-strong line-up.
In the three year-old colts and geldings final, Stewart's outstanding heat winner Demon Delight has come up with a back row draw. He is likely to take a trail early and Kate Gath will have Max Delight in her sights from gate rise.
Both four year-old series are within grasp too. Of Stewart's colts and geldings aspirants. Major Times (gate four), Tam Major and Maraetai has drawn back row slots but hold the ace hand class-wise.
Nostravilla is her live chance (of three) in the four year-old mares decider.
Stewart has been Victora's leading trainer since 2014 and, this year, has trained 273 winners for over $3m in stakes. Her nearest rival is Andy Gath on 133 winners.
That's girl power!
National Titles set for decision at Cannington
Though out of the National Sprint Championship at Cannington on Saturday, the now retired Orson Allen has added the Victorian Greyhound of the Year title to his polished resume at Friday night at GRV's gala awards ceremony held at Crown.
The fawn dog - a son of in remand yet deceased American sire KC And All - finished with 31 wins from 61 starts, lining up in an incredible 17 Group events over the course of 2018/19.
Orson Allen was victorious twice at Group 1 level, winning the Perth Cup, trainer Correy Grenfell's first at racing's highest level, and then the Harrison-Dawson, while he was runner-up in both the Temlee and Maturity Classic.
His other feature victories came in the Group 2 Cranbourne and Horsham Cups, Group 3 Sandown Shootout and Listed Australian Sprint.
Orson Allen's gong represented the Wheeler breeding operation with their fourth successive Victorian GOTY, with champion Fanta Bale having been awarded the accolade in 2017/18 and 2016/17, while Fernando Bale, a Hall of Fame inductee at Friday night's function, claimed the crown in 2015/16.
In Perth on Friday night, Orson Allen will likely battle Tornado Tears to the Australian Greyhound of the Year crown.
Tornado Tears will start at Winx-like odds in the National Distance Championship but the result has no bearing on the 2018/19 award.
Also on the night, the Greyhound Clubs' Australia award for Run of the Year will be announced and it will be a complete surprise if Zipping Bailey's stunning Golden Easter Egg win at Wentworth Park on March does not reign supreme.
After suffering an injury at Wentworth Park on July 13, the daughter of Barcia Bale was retired with 21 wins from 42 starts and $371,605 in stakes. Her arch rival in the ROTY award Poke The Bear is also resting comfortably after his retirement in April.
The handsome white dog banked just over $500,000 for owners Darren and Michael Puleio, winning 37 of 69 starts including the 2018 Top Gun at The Meadows.
Unfortunately for connections, Poke The Bear had no descended testicles and is unavailable for stud duties.
Rauchenberger's remarkable night at 'The Creek'
Talented New South Wales driver, Codi Rauchenberger, described Saturday's meeting at Albion Park as one of the best nights of her brief career.
The 20-year-old only had two drives at 'The Creek' and won both of them behind the Dennis Picker trained duo of Melanna Beach in race one, and Elle Yeah in race four.
Rauchenberger, who works for Picker at Bigga, said it was the third time she had reined two winners at a meeting, but it was her first metropolitan double.
She has also driven five winners since arriving in Queensland at the start of June. Rauchenberger will head home in a couple of weeks.
"That was a great night on Saturday. Right up there with my Junee Cup win behind Smooth Sailor in January. I actually lease Melanna Beach off Tim Neven.
"Elle Yeah went super. She's a very classy mare having won a Group One before, and although 'Melanna' also won well, she can be a bit of a handful sometimes.
"They both pulled a little bit. 'Elle' was more of an arm chair drive. She was on a mission last night, and it would have taken a very nice horse to beat her," Rauchenberger said.
The talented reinswoman has only been driving for two seasons and has bagged about a dozen winners. Her first race-day victory came behind the Daniel Rowell trained Boobalaga Road at Canberra on May 22, 2017.
Rauchenberger, who hails from Boorowa, left Boorowa Central School, to work polo horses, before transferring to Amy Day's harness racing stable. She then relocated to Amanda Turnbull and then James Rattray's barn before Picker employed her 10 months ago.
"This is not the first time I've been to Albion Park but this is the first time I've driven up here. I remember coming up for a few days when I worked for James. He had Arts Treasure up here for all the big races in the winter of 2017.
"We've stayed up here a bit longer this time to stay away from the cold back home. It's been a pretty good holiday," she added.
Rauchenberger paid a tribute to both Rattray and Picker.
"James did a lot for me early on. He helped me get my license and early drives, while Dennis and his father Grant, have also been giving me a lot of opportunities.
"I have driven all around the bush tracks and the Pickers have given me a lot of nice horses to drive in some nicer races. I am very grateful," Rauchenberger said.
Meanwhile, the major race of the evening - the Group Two $50,000 APG 2yo Championship was won by another New South Wales visitor, the Jarrod Alchin trained My Ultimate Star.
The Bettor's Delight colt also provided Queensland's Matt Elkins with his first Group winner.
The 22-year-old, who notched up a century of drives for the first time in a season at Redcliffe last Sunday, predicted he would go close when talking to Racing Queenslandlate last week.
"He felt real good tonight and we got a nice trip. His sprint was just too powerful at the end. This has been a week to remember. I just want to thank all the owners and trainers who have put me on their horses this season.
"This is a great way to cap off the 2018-2019. It's been a dream of mine for a while now to get a Group win on the board. My next aim is to drive a Group One winner and more than 100 again next season," Elkins said.
"I just want to keep improving," he stressed.
It was also a memorable night for Tallegalla horseman, Alistair Barnes who had a rare win behind the 16-win pacer he trains, Vasari.
"I thought I'd have one last drive on him before he goes to America. I don't know when the last time I steered home a winner. It must have been 18 months or so ago.
"I'll leave the driving to the professionals now. It's going to be sad to see the horse go, but he's done a good job here and I will look forward to watching him tear around Yonkers.
"I think American racing will suit him down to the ground," Barnes said.