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Healesville, Mansfield and Balnarring Reports

by Brad Best

Far from the spotlight of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington, the cast and crew of the picnic racing community reassembled at Healesville on Derby Day for a carnival of their own. For the first time in three years, Healesville Amateur Racing Club hosted the opening meeting for the season and, as always, they put on a tremendous show. Under sunny skies, spectators witnessed a competitive day of racing, culminating in three consecutive photo finishes.

Riding honours went to Shirley Maher who rode a double for husband Paul in races two and three aboard the regal duo of Royal Gaze ($3.80) and Royal Express ($2). In the first of the day, Stephanie Dorning continued her good form from last season with a gutsy win on Chosen Place while in race five Dani Walker saluted on $6.50 chance Demozi.

The boys also got a look in with Grant Seccombe on Fontaines holding off a fast-finishing Dizzy Belle in race four and Clayton Douglas, in the final race of the day, driving Jive Music to the line after being headed in the straight. In a tough day for punters, not a single favourite saluted with a combined total of two thirds, one fourth, two lasts and a late scratching at the barrier (Borsari in the fifth) leaving many experts dazed and confused.
Visit the photo gallery and see the race results.

Demozi wins the maiden.


On the first Tuesday of November, the picnic racing carnival headed north to Mansfield for the traditional Cup Day Meeting. In near faultless conditions, a huge crowd witnessed the exciting debut of jockey Jo Stevens who, with her first ever ride, won the opening race of the day on board Lightning Brom for Gerald Egan. Remarkably, she made it two from two in the second on favourite Blue Angel to bring up a very early double. A tremendous future looks assured for this talented young jockey.

In races three and four, it was business as usual for the Kirkpatrick boys with Rob saluting on Second Storm (giving wife Shelley her first training win) and then brother Craig, swooping home late on Supreme Athena, catching everyone by surprise to take out the fourth.

In race five, Razor Ray Douglas showed all his experience on board Hemingway Royale, guiding the equally-experienced nine-year-old gelding along the fence to hold off a late challenge from Club Zero. In the last, Royal Gaze made it two wins from two starts, backing up after Saturday to give the husband and wife combination of Paul and Shiralee Maher their third winner for the season.

Congratulations to the Mansfield District Racing Club who staged a fantastic meeting, bringing together fashions on the field (hosted by Greg Evans along with special guest judge Tom Hawkins from the Geelong Football Club), music and a live band to keep the crowd entertained between and after the races.

Visit the photo gallery and see the day's race results.

The Blue Angel wins the two horse race, congrats to Al and Lyndal
On Saturday, Balnarring hosted their first meeting of the season in much less welcoming conditions than experienced earlier in the week. Thankfully, the rain stayed away and, despite the inclement weather, a solid crowd of enthusiastic racegoers attended the traditional Stakes Day meeting. Without a winner this season, Adam Bodey set about rectifying this glitch with an early double, comprehensively taking out the first two races of the day on Bertoglio and Once. On behalf of all the jockeys looking to take out this season’s premiership, it’s great to see Adam back for another season in the saddle.

Apprentice Matthew Brown also rode a double on the day, saluting in the third on board favourite Fiftyfourknots and in the fifth on Runs To Rule. Courtney Pace picked up a late ride on Note Shredder in the fourth and made the most of it, dominating the race from the front to score by two-and-a-half lengths. The final race of the day saw an even more dominant performance by Demozi, ridden by Michael Kent, who stormed home by four lengths two make it two-from-two at the picnics.

Visit the photo gallery and see the race results.

Fiftyfourknots win the Trophy 2
After another successful Cup Week Carnival, the picnic racing jamboree heads to Yea next Saturday (November 16) for more thrilling action. Bring along your friends, family and even the in-laws. It promises to be another great day of racing!


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