A large crowd of about 1200 took advantage of the perfect weather conditions on Melbourne Cup day, making their way to the Cobram Harness Racing track for the club’s Melbourne Cup Carnival Family Day.
On arrival, patrons were greeted by the picturesque green lawns edged with roses in full bloom on a day supported by the Victorian Government.
Talented Cobram Secondary College student, Freyja Black opened the event, wowing the crowd with her beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Black entertained patrons throughout the afternoon with a variety of popular melodies.
Melbourne Cup Day at Cobram is traditionally ‘ladies day’ and true to form the female harness racing drivers were out in force in the first on the program, Jack and Linda Gale Trotters Handicap.
Donna Castles saluted at good odds with Illawong Red for her daughter Georgia to chalk up just his second win from 82 starts.
The nine-year-old gelding, who shot to the front to lead his rivals a ‘merry dance’, won in an impressive pillar-to-post performance to the delight of his young owner.
Women filled the first three placings to set the tone for the afternoon — Kima Frenning reining Scorching Along who did just that but was unable to run down ‘big red’ with Black Cat Claw, piloted by Rebecca Bartley, inches away third.
Jack Gale, who was celebrating his 80th birthday, and his wife Linda were trackside to present the trophy to Doc Wilson, accepting on behalf of his daughter.
Laura Crossland backed up in the Melbourne Cup Day Carnival Pace with the old warrior, Tally Operator making a comeback after a long spell found ‘fresh legs’ to storm home in an impressive mile rate of 1:57.7.
Bartley made it a clean sweep for the girls in the first three on the program, saluting in style with Western Sonador in 1:56.3, the fastest mile rate for the meeting catapulting the four-year-old Western Terror gelding into the $9000 Barooga Sports Club Pace Final as favourite.
It took the return of Josh Aiken in the cart at Cobram to put an end to the girls’ supremacy.
Storming home in a heart stopper with the Avenel-trained four-year-old mare Lunar Delight, the pair stole the Barooga Sports Club Plate (heat one) in the last stride from the unlucky Congupna-owned Hayjoshandco, reined by Tayla French, who had done all the hard work sitting outside the leader for most of the 2170 m journey.
Nevertheless, the girls fought back in brilliant style in the Barooga Sports Club Pace (heat two).
Bartley in the sulky behind Jang Pel and Ellen Tormey piloting Bettorz Beach battled out a superb spectacle down the home straight as they left the rest of the field in their wake.
Tormey and the four-year-old Bettors Delight gelding claiming the honours and, in doing so, denied Bartley a driving double.
Josh Duggan was determined to make the Cobram Farm Equipment Pace his own and ‘fly the flag’ for the male brigade.
A brilliant drive on the Undera-trained Mister Zhivago saw the eight-year-old gelding storming home ahead of the Kyabram-trained Dallas Nikolay, reined by up and coming young Swedish reinswoman Marika Eriksson, to return to the winner’s circle after 12 months.
Owner/trainer Glenn Freeman and his wife Kathy received a dinner set, sponsored by Cobram Farm Equipment.
The Barooga Sports Club Plate (heat two) saw the state’s leading Concession Driver Frenning snatch the race with seven-year-old mare Lagom for Echuca trainer Mick McMahon by the narrowest of margins over the talented Yanco-trained four-year-old mare Fairy Tinkabell, who was returning to the track in a first up since June.
Although the stars did not align in Duggan’s favour driving Park Life for Glenn Freeman in heat two of the plate, he did take the honours in the final race on the race on the program, Barooga Sports Club Pace (heat three) with Starry Mach to chalk up a driving double and deliver a training double to Glenn Freeman’s Undera stable.
Trackside, Fashions on the Field, compered by Sally Moore proved popular with all age groups.
As always, the Tiny Tots section melted the hearts of race goers with the charming Katie Thomson winning Skadoodle Kidz Wear Miss Tiny Tot and Dillon O’Brien taking home Master Tiny Tot.
Junior Racegoers were Amy Wyatt and Bohdi Lee, who was also a winner on the track in the pony trots with his pony Soul, while Bethany Gramson was the Teenager Racegoer.
Stacey Towers was a stunning picture in her cream outfit catching the judge’s eye for Artavilla Emporium Lady of the Day, while Tiana Tyniec was a popular choice for Young Racegoer.
Mentha’s of Cobram Gent of the Day had the judge deliberating for some time with her final decision going to Wagga visitor Terry Kennewell.
Cobram’s Sue Campbell’s stylish large pink hat proved a winner in the Cobram Hotel Raceday Hat.
Nevertheless it was the harness racing girls who stole the limelight on the catwalk.
In a quick makeover, they were all glammed up in their finest; one would never guess that minutes earlier all were in their stable gear of race track silks.
Bartley, who was also a winner in her race track silks with Western Sonador who she also trains, got the judge’s nod for Harness Racing’s Queen of the Track. Stacey Towers was runner-up.
Face painting, shark obstacle course, Its Party Time House and free icy poles were all popular activities for the younger generation; everyone going home with smiles on their faces after a great family friendly afternoon.
The club thanks the Victorian Government as well the numerous local sponsors for supporting the day.