Check out all the trackside action from the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club. Stay up to date with stories and news from the club.
IN THE NEWS
In the news
VHHRC welcomes new secretary/treasurer
January 01, 2020
A NEW face has joined the team behind the state’s leading country harness racing club.
Jacky Matheson joined the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club in March, taking the reins from outgoing secretary/treasurer Ian Simmons.
The Easter Sunday race would have been Jacky’s first introduction to how the club operates on race day, but that will have to wait until the 2020-21 season dates are announced.
“I had been to the trots when I was a kid, but that’s about the only connection I have had with harness racing,” Jacky said.
Despite her limited harness racing background, the Goolwa resident has plans underway to help take the Morgan Park-based club to the next level.
Her background has been in administration and finance for the past 30 years, which will be a boost to the club, as the committee look to implement eftpos facilities, as an addition to the ATM facilities already offered, by its December races.
She is eager to help the club progress into the electronic world.
“The plan is to have an eftpos machine up and running at bar by December. We’ll start with the bar and work out from there,” she said.
“I’m familiar with the secretarial, administration and finance side, it’s what I have done for the past 30 years – this time, it’s just in an industry that I hadn’t been involved in before.”
Jacky said she was drawn to the secretary/treasurer position because it was similar to her previous work experiences. She had previously been on committees for several sporting and social groups so brings a lot of administrative and procedural knowledge with her.
Already a few weeks into her new role, Jacky has discovered plenty of Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club history at the grounds such as old race results and records.
“There’s draws and draws in the club room full of the Club’s history and race day records,” she said.
“The Club has been around a long time and there’s some interesting stuff there, it’s worth preserving.”
Presently, Jacky also works at the Goolwa Community Centre, doing “whatever needs doing”, which ranges from administration to craft classes.
“It’s a really nice positive inclusive atmosphere, catering to all members of the community including those that might be socially isolated or people that want to get out of the house meet new people and try something different,” she said.
Club president Lynton Bishop said the VHHRC was looking forward to utilising Jacky’s administration and accounting background to take the club into the electronic world.
“Jacky has a great extensive background we can use to further progress the club,” Lynton said.
“Country harness racing is the backbone of the harness racing industry. If we can provide a venue with great racing facilities for horses, trainers, and patrons, it will only help the industry thrive.”
Lynton thanked outgoing secretary/treasurer Ian Simmons for his work with the club.
“We thank Ian for his time and service to the club, it was greatly appreciated.”
The club also welcomed Tim Sander, from Lonsdale Sand and Metal, to the organising committee.
The next VHHRC race day will be Sunday, April 12 at Morgan Park.
It will feature the Lonsdale Sand and Metal Easter Cup, kid’s entertainment and the regular attractions including bookies, tab and bar facilities.
Victorian runner takes out Aldebaran Trotters Cup
January 07, 2020
WHEN Austin Mifsud guided his horse into the home straight at Morgan Park, the atmosphere was second to none.
He was driving Victorian trotter, Its Elvis NZ, in the Victor Habor Harness Racing Club's Aldebaran Park Stud Trotters Cup, pulling away with a near five-metre margin to win.
Austin was unsure whether the crowd was behind his horse for its name, or because the short price favourite Kitsilano hung out on the top turn breaking into a gallop and losing more than 20 metres before charging home.
Given the starting price there were some handsome winners on Its Elvis.
“I loved the atmosphere and the racetrack was very nice. All the people were great, they just wanted the horse to win for some reason,” Austin said.
The New Zealand import, by Sundon USA and out of Pleasant Whiz (NZ), lead from the beginning of the race, favouring the standing start.
“The only real danger was Kitsilano, but she put a bit of a gallop in,” Austin said.
Austin, who drove the horse for his wife and trainer, Julie Mifsud, said the decision to travel the horse 10 hours to Adelaide was an easy one.
Its Elvis arrived in Adelaide in time for a start at Globe Derby Park on December 21, before pulling off the trotters cup victory on December 30.
He backed it up with a second-place finish at Globe Derby Park, driven by Austin’s sister Gaita Pullicino on January 6, after a five-year hiatus from racing.
The eight-year-old gelding arrived in the Mifsud’s Kilmore stables in mid 2019, from Kevin Pizzuto’s New South Wales stables.
It took some work for Austin and Julie due to the horse’s “high-strung” nature.
“He had a lot of problems. He used to play up bad at the start. It took me about three months to bring him back into line and toe,” Austin said.
But with a new trainer at the helm, Its Elvis pulled his weight.
“When he leads, he is very hard to toss. Most of the times when he won in NZ and NSW, he led a lot,” Austin said.
“I find SA are pretty good with their standing starts – (Victor Harbor) suited him very well.”
While numbers were down for the trotters cup, club president Lynton Bishop said it was great to see a Victorian runner challenge the South Australians.
“The Trotters Ranks appear to be somewhat thin at this time, but Its Elvis’ win proved trainers and drivers from interstate can come across and challenge our horses,” Lynton said.
The hot weather impacted the race day with the original start time delayed, and Lynton said it resulted in less patrons.
“But I was really pleased with how it went, we couldn’t expect much more especially given the weather,” he said.
“I’m quite proud of what everyone did. Everyone really chipped in. It was half the crowd we had this time last year, but given the weather conditions it was a fab day.”
He was hopeful the club’s next race day on Australia Day would draw a large crowd, especially with the public holiday on Monday.
“It’s a great chance for people to get away to the coast for the weekend, come to the races and spend the weekend on the Fleurieu,” Lynton said.
“The club apologises for some of the advertised children’s attractions that were cancelled because of the predicted temperatures and high winds. These should return on Australia Day.”
Race times and information for the Australia Day, January 26, races will be updated on the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club’s Facebook page and website.
For more information visit www.vhhrc.com or find VHHRC on Facebook.
VHHRC welcomes Aldebaran Park Stud sponsorship for trotters cup day
December 16, 2019
IF winning the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Trotters Cup isn’t enough, the added bonus of a stallion service is sure to draw entrants this year.
While racing at Morgan Park went on its usual winter hiatus, although delayed, committee members have been working to add more to the upcoming race days.
The winner of this year’s trotters cup in December will also receive a stallion service courtesy of Aldebaran Park, in Victoria.
A $2000 service fee to New Zealand stallion Skyvalley will be added to the winners pay cheque at the December 30 race day.
Club president Lynton Bishop was grateful for the stud’s sponsorship towards the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club.
“For Aldebaran Spark Stud to offer their sponsorship in an industry that is struggling at the moment is truly wonderful,” Mr Bishop said.
“We are very excited to have Aldebaran Park Stud on board as a sponsor for our Trotters Cup race day and look forward to working with them in the future.
“The stud service to Skyvalley NZ will bring the total winner’s cheque to $10,000 for the VHHRC Trotters Cup.”
Skyvalley NZ is the leading colonial-bred trotting sire in Australia and is ranked third on the All Aged sire list.
In Australia, Skyvalley NZ boasts 64 per cent starters-to-win ratio, and in New Zealand a 73 per cent starters-to-win ratio.
Mr Bishop said the Victor Harbor club was continually looking to improve what it could offer to not only patrons on race days, but nominated horses, trainers and owners.
“After this year’s situations with Harness Racing SA and the SA Harness Racing Club, we as a club want to do as much as we can to ensure the longevity of country harness racing,” Mr Bishop said.
“After all, country harness racing is the backbone of our industry, and we are very fortunate to have great facilities and patrons who are eager to spend a day out watching quality racing.
After picking up an extra two race meetings this year, Mr Bishop said the club had come through the season financially stable.
“We had a good season, we are still financially solid, and the club contributes to prize money, which not necessarily all the other clubs do,” he said.
“We have also retained all our sponsors this year, which is fabulous.”
The December 30 race day will be a day-time meeting, with bar, TAB, food and bookies facilities.
Children’s entertainment will also be available.
Entry is $10 for adults, $6 concession and children under 16 free.
“Patrons should consider becoming a member, which only costs $30 for two people for the racing calendar year,” Mr Bishop said.
Smith's sole horse takes cup by a Nip
April 21, 2019
GEORGE Smith has just one horse in work at his Camden Park stable, but that one horse is reaping the rewards.
On Sunday, Smith’s four-year-old gelding Major Carlisle took out the 1660m Lonsdale Sand & Metal Easter Cup at Victor Harbor, in the closest race of the day with a three-horse photo finish.
Paying $19 on the tote, Major Carlisle, known around the stable as Nipper, favoured the wide Morgan Park track, putting in strong performance down the home straight in the 11-horse field.
It was the Major Carlisle’s third win from four starts.
“This has been his best prep, and his run yesterday was his personal best, he ran a good time,” Smith said.
“He’s improving all the time with his racing, he’s naturally getting better.”
Major Carlisle was bred by Smith, by Art Major USA and out of Smith’s mare Carlisle Queen, who won the two-year-old and three-year-old Southern Cross Series in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
The horses’s triumph at the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club falls on the back of a win at Mildura earlier this month, and at Globe Derby Park last month, with driver Ken Rogers at the helm.
Smith said Major Carlisle favoured wider tracks and believed the gelding set a new personal best on Sunday.
“The track at victor is a beautiful track,” he said.
“I think that’s why he did so well yesterday, he appreciates the wide spaces.”
Described as a lazy track-worker, but a big eater, Smith said the horse developed its name after it was born on pageant day.
“It was either Nipper or Nimble,” Smith said.
“And he is a Nipper - we’ve always said we named this horse right.”
Smith has his eyes on racing Major Carlisle again at Victor Harbor next month if there is an appropriate race for the horse.
Easter race preparation in full swing
April 17, 2019
IF THERE is one event to attend this Easter, it’s the trots at Morgan Park.
Off the back of an unexpected race day earlier this week, the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club is in full swing for its traditional Easter Sunday race day.
VHHRC president Lynton Bishop said the Easter Sunday race day was traditionally a well-supported event.
Last year, the club documented record patron numbers through the gates.
“Given the public holiday on Monday, it makes for a great day out at the races,” Bishop said.
The race day will include all the regular attractions, including bar, TAB, food, drinks and children’s entertainment.
Bishop said the mini trots, driven by the next generation of harness racing drivers, had indicated they would race on Sunday.
The highlight of the day will be the Lonsdale Sand and Metal Pace for maiden horses.
Bishop said the $10,000 race should attract plenty of good-quality horses for the event.
“Our track is in superb condition, which should result in some fast times set by the horses,” he said.
“The committee has been working hard to ensure we put on a great race day not only for the horses, trainers and connections but the visitors as well.”
The Easter Sunday race day will fall on the back of an additional race day, held on Monday, after a dispute between Harness Racing SA (governing body) SA Harness Racing Club (Globe Derby Park) and the country clubs.
Despite a short turn around, Bishop said strong fields supported the extra race day.
“We were fortunate to pick up two of the Alabar Golden Nursery heats, which brought some strong horses to Victor Harbor,” he said.
“The club was very appreciative to the trainers, drivers and owners for the support and they made it in to a good day.”
Regular Morgan Park driver Ken Rogers proved he is in good shape claiming four wins from the seven-race card while return trainer Les Harding picked up two winners.
Gates will open about 11.30.
Club gains extra race day
April 07, 2019
RACING will resume at Morgan Park earlier than expected, with the harness racing club gaining an additional race day this month.
On Monday, April 15, the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club will host a race day, which was previously scheduled for Globe Derby Park.
The extra day at Morgan Park comes after a dispute between SA Harness Racing Club, which operates GDP, the governing body Harness Racing SA and the remaining country clubs.
More than five race meetings have been transferred to other clubs across the state.
VHHRC president Lynton Bishop said the club was happy to help HRSA to ensure the survival and continuation of the harness racing industry.
“Although we haven’t been given much time to prepare, it’s important the remaining clubs chip in and help out,” he said.
“We’re in support of HRSA and have allowed them to use our facility for racing on the 15th.”
On April 15, entry to the races will be free, however there will be limited attractions and services available.
Mr Bishop said services to patrons would include bar, food and TAB facilities.
“It would be the bare minimum.”
But with the club’s popular Easter Sunday meeting around the corner, he encouraged the community to get behind the club.
“Racing at Victor Harbor is the true backbone of country harness racing,” he said.
“Our committee work very hard throughout the year to ensure we put on a great day for our patrons.”
In a statement released by HRSA, chief executive officer Ross Neal said while the measures taken would be disruptive to racing in SA, the situation had to change.
For up-to-date details, check the club's Facebook page.
Robin Joy tribute race
January 09, 2019
THE Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club will pay tribute to committee member Robin Joy at its next race meeting in January.
Late last year, Mr Joy passed away, surrounded by friends and family.
He had been a volunteer at the club for a number of years and for the past three years he was on the committee and kept the track in top condition for a high-standard of racing.
Club president Lynton Bishop said the 2019 Trotters Cup would be named after Mr Joy, following his love of square-gaited horses.
“He was very meticulous, he would spend hours and hours on the track,” Mr Bishop said.
“He said to me at one stage, he used to walk around as a kid picking stones off the old track.”
Mr Joy always had a love for horses, which stemmed from his father’s horse training background and involvement with the club for more than 50 years.
During his involvement with racing, Mr Joy had a number of racehorses including Doctor Puckeridge, who was named after a surgeon who saved his life and won at the Return to Wayville last year.
Mr Bishop said Mr Joy’s hard-working and dedicated work ethos would be missed at the club, making the Trotters Cup a perfect opportunity to race in his honour.
“Robin had a passion for horses, and it was evident in any horse-related task he undertook,” Mr Bishop said.
The race meeting on Monday, January 14, will be the second of the harness racing season for the club, following its successful race day last month.
The Monday race day will feature the regular attractions, including bookies, punters club, food, drinks and children’s entertainment.
While official times are yet to be confirmed, gates to the track are expected to open at 11.30pm with the first race at about 1.30pm.
Mr Bishop said it would be a great day of racing and hoped people holidaying on the Fleurieu would enjoy a day at the races.
Finalised times will be posted on www.vhhrc.comand on the club’s Facebook page once confirmed.
Club records smashed
December 31, 2018
MULTIPLE records were set at the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club on Sunday, but this time it was the patrons instead of the horses.
The club recorded its highest taking at the gate, bar, TAB and punters club with more than 900 people attending the race meeting.
Leading up to the event, club president Lynton Bishop feared the race day would be cancelled due to extreme weather conditions forecasted.
But a change in temperature resulted in perfect racing conditions and a day out for patrons.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Bishop said.
“We were extremely impressed with the patron numbers along with the quality of horses that came to Morgan Park.”
Horses and trainers travelled from as far as Naracoorte and Mount Gambier in the state’s south east.
The race meeting included the Victor Harbor Pacing Cup, which was won by Naracoorte-trained Emain Macha for Greg Schoefield, and driven by Wayne Hill.
The five-year-old race-favourite started the 2660m standing-start race with a 10m handicap to win by nearly six metres.
The horse broke the track record by two tenths of a second, which was originally set on March 20, 2011, by Sound System with a time of 2.01.9.
It wasn’t Schoefield’s only win of the day, also teaming up with Hill for victories in races one and seven.
“Schoefield is a very astute trainer, he has always had a nice horse,” Bishop said.
“Emain Macha could ultimately dominate the fast class races in SA.”
Previously, Harness Racing SA made the decision to move all cup races back to standing starts to give all horses an equal opportunity.
Bishop said often one or two horses would dominate the cup races across the state.
“By having a standing start, it brings the field closer together,” he said.
“It gives the front markers an even chance because you’re handicapping the better-quality horses.”
The next race meeting at Victor Harbor will be on Monday, January 14, and will include the Trotters Cup.
Gates will open at about 11.30am with the first race expected to start at about 1pm.
Correct times will be advised on the club’s Facebook page and website.
VALE Robin Joy
December 02, 2018
THE Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club will pay tribute to committee member Robin Keith Joy, who passed away surrounded by friends and family last week.
Robin had a passion for horses and it was evident in any horse-related task he undertook.
For the past three years, he held the title as track curator, ensuring the Morgan Park track was maintained to a high-standard for race day.
Club president Lynton Bishop expressed his sympathies for the Joy family, and said the larger-than-life volunteer who had a heart of gold, and would be missed.
“Three years ago, I was worried about the track and concerned about who would take the job on,” Lynton said.
“As president I delegated jobs, and Robin put his hand up to take care of the track and we’ve had no complaints about the track in the past two years.”
Lynton recalled one race meet where at 5pm the night prior, Robin was still out grading the track for the following day.
However, come race day, the horses produced exceptional times, and Lynton knew he had the right man for the job.
“He was very meticulous, he would spend hours and hours on the track,” Lynton said.
“He said to me at one stage, he used to walk around as a kid picking stones off the old track.”
Robin was born on August 8, 1956, and was raised in Victor Harbor.
He was partner to Robyn, father to Tash and Shannon, was father-in-law to Dave and Steevie and poppy to Darcy, Jed and Freya.
His love for horses and harness racing began when Robin was working and training horses while his dad worked away as a shearer.
Robin’s favourite horse throughout his career was his father’s pacer Waitpinga Lass.
Robin has trained numerous horses in his life time but having a particular love for square gaters, his horse Alleged Interest held the track record at VHHRC for many years.
Robin, along with friend and driver Terry Hayes, trained Shade of Sport throughout Robin’s first bout of illness.
One of his highlights was seeing the mare get her first win at Gawler only a few short weeks after returning home from hospital.
She Knows How was a special mare for Robin who claimed the time trail prize in a series of exhibition nights at the Royal Adelaide show several years ago.
She then went on to foal one of Robin’s most loved horses, that being Doctor Puckridge.
Half brother to another gelding by the name of Young Nick Faser (owned with long-time friend Dave Philps), the two horses were named in honour of doctors who were imperative in saving Robins life after numerous complicated surgeries and a long hospital stay in 2012.
Both horses going on to be reputable contenders on the track with Doctor Puckridge winning a race at the Return to Wayville Retro Night in Oct last year.
Robin loved his horses and as just as much, his friends within the industry. He was a man who was alwayswilling to lend a hand and always up for a good long chat.
A celebration of life will be held for Robin at the Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club grounds on Friday, December 7 at 2pm.
VHHRC secures two more race days
August 20, 2018
AN additional two race meets have put on the calendar for Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club, backing on to its traditional New Year's meeting.
VHHRC president Lynton Bishop said the club secured two extra race meetings in 2019 on January 14 and April 21.
"Originally we were offered three meetings either Sunday or Mondays and we agreed to take the Sunday timeslots," Bishop said.
When the draft came back from Harness Racing SA, the three meetings were all on Mondays, including Australia Day and Easter Monday.
Bishop said the club was unanimous in rejecting the recommendations, and agreed not to race unless the proposed timeslots were changed.
With negotiations, VHHRC was awarded Monday, January 14 and Sunday, April 21, which falls on Easter Sunday.
"HRSA, like us, also wants to maximise its investment and that includes having Sky 1 telecast their meetings at every opportunity," Bishop said.
"At this time the first two meetings will be on Sky 1."
This season, the Victor Harbor Cup will be moved from the traditional Easter Sunday meet to December 31 to coincide with the Country Cups circuit.
Bishop said these dates should be put in the calendar for families to plan a great day out.
"We provide entertainment for the younger children including a jumping castle, also our drinks and beverages are not over priced as we a conscious of not wanting people to believe they are being excessively charged," he said.
Race Day Announced
August 10, 2018
The Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club has announced its first race day for the next season.
Be sure to mark Monday, December 31, 2018, in your calendar for a great day at the races.
Stay tuned for more information
Easter Races draw large crowds
January 01, 2018
LES Harding-trained Our Jericho NZ, proved too strong for its rivals in the UBET Victor Harbor Pacing Cup, pulling away around the final bend for a 6.30 metre lead victory, on Easter Sunday.
The eight-year-old bay gelding, driven by Australian Female Drivers Champion Danielle Hill, lead throughout the race, setting a new track record mile rate of 1.56.1.
Not only was it a new track record for Our Jericho, which surpassed the 2017 record set by stable-mate Bettor Party in 2017 (who also ran second this year), but it was also Hill’s 100th win for the season.
Our Jericho is no stranger to cup victories, also claiming the Port Pirie Pacing Cup on March 24, the Mount Gambier Cup on March 3 along with the Gawler Cup on February 10.
Hill claimed three victories for the day, with Truscott Law for Luke O’Neill in race four - Rob’s Rural Services Victor Harbor Trotters Cup, and in race one with Saab Magic for trainer David Harding.
The South Coast Hospital Auxiliary Victor Harbor Guineas was won by Torque tothe Starz for driver/trainer Ryan Hryhorec.
Hryhorec had a second win of the day with Bobbies Delight for trainer Jeremy Seal in the Pat O’Loughlin Memorial, race 3.
An exceptional crowd turned out to the races with an estimated 850 patrons through the gate.
Victor Harbor Harness Racing Club president Lynton Bishop was impressed with the turnout, saying it was one of the biggest crowds the club had seen.
He believed the “beautiful weather” and solid advertising, both in print, social media and on radio contributed to the high patron numbers, along with crowd entertainment.
“We were absolutely delighted with the race meeting - everyone had a good time and our figures were all up on corresponding meetings,” Bishop said.
“The only disappointment for us was the low horse numbers considering the prize money and trophies on offer.”
Bishop said the next race day was likely to be in late December and early January, but the club would advise patrons as soon as they knew more.
“Normal procedure is HRSA drafts a racing proposal and forwards it to each club for approval,” he said.
“The VHHRC thanks all participants, patrons and officials for their continued support, we intend to continue with our plans to both promote and present the wonderful product that is harness racing in the south.”