Looking good for racing at Edenhope

AGE IS NO DETERRENT: Fourteen year old trotter Glorious Finale is racing in career peak form, and made it a hat trick of wins with a narrow victory at the Greenwald Paceway last Sunday night. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

By David Gilbert

IS it third time lucky for the Apsley Racing Club this Sunday in its endeavours to return to racing at its home base of Edenhope?

For over 50 years the Apsley club has raced at Edenhope since the closure of the Apsley racecourse in the late 1960’s.

Until 2014, the Apsley meeting was held at the end of March, but it was then moved to the Sunday during the June long weekend.

While that is a prime date, the weather is not near as reliable in June as it is in March.

The three-day break enables former Apsley residents to come home for the weekend for family get-togethers and general socialising.

However, there have been major hiccups with racing at Edenhope in June in the past decade for the Apsley club, with its annual meeting transferred on four occasions.

In 2017, Hamilton racecourse hosted the Apsley cup meeting when the Edenhope track was deemed unsuitable to race on in the final few days prior to the meeting.

In 2020, 2022 and 2023 the Casterton racecourse was called upon at the last moment to conduct the Apsley cup meeting, all because the Edenhope track was unavailable due to either track improvements or the track being too wet.

With fine weather this week, it is full steam ahead for a return to Edenhope this Sunday for the Apsley cup meeting.

Although most people desperately need more rain – and plenty of it – the Apsley committee wants the dry spell to continue until at least Sunday night.

All the fun and frivolity for country Victoria’s oldest racing club starts tomorrow with the annual Tour De Frances cycling event from Apsley to Frances, organised by the Apsley Racing Club and Apsley primary school.

Tomorrow night is the cabaret evening at the Apsley town hall, the traditional lead-up to the races the following day at Edenhope.

Apsley Racing Club president Laurie Close said the club is thrilled to welcome racing enthusiasts, cyclists and revellers alike to the town for the weekend.

“With a thrilling lineup of events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and places to camp and stay in the region, and we look forward to delivering an unforgettable experience for all attendees,” Close said.

Apsley cup day is the final cup meeting in this region for the 2023/24 racing season and it has become more popular than the Edenhope cup meeting held in early March.

It will be the last race meeting in both the western district of Victoria and the South East of South Australia for a decent crowd and lively atmosphere until cup meetings in mid September at Mindarie-Halidon (SA) and Coleraine (Vic).

When  nominations closed earlier this week, 385 entries were received for the eight-race program.

Last year, the Apsley cup was won by the Belinda O’Loughlin trained Muntham Missile, ridden by Dominic Tourneur, but neither the horse or jockey will be at Edenhope  on Sunday.

Muntham Missile has been retired and Tourneur is expected to be riding at Swan Hill where he has been tentatively booked to ride Hasta La Fiorente for Naracoorte trainer Sue Murphy in a 2400-metre BM 78 race. 

Judging by the nominations for the $50,000 Apsley cup, it is shaping as an excellent race, with recent winners Picaroon (Casterton cup) and Red Patrol (Millicent cup) among the 44 entries.

An interesting entry is the locally owned Thrill Kill, who has not raced for over two months since his win in the Mount Gambier cup and subsequent third in the Onkaparinga cup at Oakbank on Easter Saturday.

Although currently out of form, the Sue Murphy trained Farooq is due to improve and his only Edenhope start resulted in an easy victory in the 2021 Edenhope cup.


LIKE a good bottle of red, Hamilton harness trainer Jim Barker (in his 90’s) and his 14-year-old trotter Glorious Finale continue to produce the goods.

Glorious Finale started off the 70-metre mark in the trotters handicap at the Greenwald Paceway last Sunday night and put up a big performance to make it a hat-trick of wins with a narrow victory.

That gave Barker his ninth winner this year on the local scene to easily lead the 2024 trainer’s premiership as the club goes into its annual mid-year recess.

The win gave his grand daughter Jackie Barker the middle pin of a winning treble for the night and she again leads the driver’s premiership table, six wins clear of fellow Victorian Lochie Cook 

It was a good night for Cook, also with a double, including the opening race with the hot favourite Rockabilly Ringo from the Terang stable of Matthew Horsnell.

Victorian drivers made a clean sweep of the program, with Rod Barker driving the other winner, Martin Magic ($10) for local trainer Malcolm Whitehead.

Barker has a good strike rate with Martin Magic at the Greenwald Paceway, especially if the five-year-old pacer is able to dictate terms in front, as was the case on Sunday night.

Ken Dihm was the only other local trainer to have a winner, that being his 10-year-old pacer Hilldale Sunrise ($16) in the NR 40 pace with Cook in the sulky.

Hilldale Sunrise has the habit of winning at good odds, as seen by his two other wins here in 2024 at $51 and $11, and he rallied strongly to beat the $1.40 favourite Our Ultimate Bonny.

Naracoorte trainer Greg Scholefield is a regular in the winner’s stall in Adelaide and was there again last Saturday night.

His four-year-old pacer Mikicool ($1.80 fav.) returned from a six-week break with a simple 12-metre win in the NR 61-72 pace with stable driver Gaita Pullicino in the cart.

Mikicool returned a quick mile rate of 1.56.5 in winning his sixth race in 2024, four of those at Globe Derby Park.  


CLOSE finishes were the order of the day at the final race meeting of the season for the Penola Racing Club last Sunday, with winners shared evenly among jockeys and trainers on the seven-race program.

Victorian trainers won three races and the Mount Gambier pair of Wayne Walters and daughter Kate combined to provide the only winner for South East stables.

That was with Melissa Kate at double-figure odds in the 1400-metre BM 58 handicap, when the mare dashed away with what turned out to be a winning lead at the top of the straight.

The Walters combination were denied a double in the following event when Innocent Pegg flashed home for third in what was almost a triple dead heat.

With only three meetings left to complete the Limestone Coast racing season, Wayne Walters is assured of winning successive local titles, with 14 winners thus far, double that of his nearest rivals Peter Hardacre, Andrew Bobbin and Sue Murphy.

Jacob Opperman maintains his very slender lead at the top of the local jockey’s premiership table after winning the opening race on the heavily backed Kaeslerkruzen ($3.30-$1.80 fav.) for Murray Bridge trainer Matthew Seyers.

The ride of the day went to Penola-born jockey Caitlin Jones, who found herself in the winner’s stall following a patient ride on Bruno Stars for Horsham trainer Paul Prteusker in the 2100-metre BM 58 handicap.

With a solid tempo up front, Jones quietly bided her time and steered Bruno Stars ($19) through the field from second last at the 400 metres.

An eight-hour float trip across Victoria from Wangaratta proved worthwhile for trainer Andrew Dale when Mescaminto took out the 1300-metre 0-54 handicap at the gelding’s second run this preparation. 

Racing returns to Mount Gambier for a mid-week meeting next Wednesday (June 12), where everything for the public will be upstairs in the member’s lounge.