Women in pink stole the show on Community Pink Ladies day — Cobram Harness Racing’s annual charity event supporting the McGrath Foundation.
More than $28000 was raised, smashing last year’s total which organisers said was thanks to the dedication and hard work by the harness racing girls, generosity of major sponsors and the community, including the business sector together with service clubs and women’s groups in Cobram, Barooga and Strathmerton.
Brittany Graham, based on the Gold Coast, performed duties for major sponsor SKY, taking the event to the wider community, helping to put Cobram on the map.
A moving candle lighting ceremony — supporting those with breast cancer and remembering those who had lost the battle — was led by Glenys McCurdy, wife of the Victorian Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy.
Mrs McCurdy lit a candle on behalf of the people of Ovens Valley, followed by Mack Mustica lighting a candle on behalf of Moira Shire residents.
Representatives from service clubs and women’s groups were joined by the McGrath Foundation breast care nurse and Cobram Secondary College students, as well as harness racing industry representatives, with Linda Gale lighting a candle on behalf of the Cobram Harness Racing Club members, took part.
The ceremony finished with Barooga resident Rae Koch lighting the candle of hope giving those struggling a signal of courage to keep fighting.
The national anthem was performed by Cobram Secondary College student Freyja Black, backed by the College Stage Band, kept everyone spellbound as did the release of 50 helium-filled pink balloons soaring high above the race track.
The feature track event had a magic awe about it when Kima Frenning stole the $10000 Paul Roberts Jewellers Invitation Lady Drivers Pace on My Magic Merlin for ecstatic Indigo Valley trainer Wayne Anderson.
Frenning won from a brave red-hot favourite Vena May and Lisa Miles to salute in a boilover in a mile rate of 1:58.7 for the 2170m.
Craig Turnbull’s Giant Jackson with Laura Crossland in the sulky put in a commendable performance coming in third.
Frenning’s brilliant drive delivered her the coveted Paul Roberts Jewellers Award, while trainer Wayne Anderson was the recipient of pink hopples from Trot Pace and a trophy donated by Adele Watson.
The girls in pink were up and about early in the day in the Soroptimist International Cobram-Barooga Pace.
In a tight finish, Rockon Locksley, reined by Rebecca Bartley, got the judges nod ahead of gallant mare Corsini, was reined by Tan Ward, piloting the field for the tough 2170m journey.
The powerful performance by John Nissan’s six-year-old gelding proved just a little too much in the dying stages snatching the chocolates by the narrowest of margins.
The race proved to be a victory for the women in pink with Donna Castles storming home third on $101 longshot Penitente.
Rebecca Bartley’s brilliant drive delivered her the Crawfords Earthworks and Civil Construction Top Female Drive of the Day.
Special thanks to Soroptimist International Cobram-Barooga for the trophy and continued support of the event.
Monique Burnett and Abbey Turnbull fought out another thriller in the Barooga Lions Club Pace with the favourite, Chinook Winds NZ snatching the trophy, donated by the Barooga Lions, for Strathfieldsaye trainer Glenn Douglas.
Both drivers were in brilliant form; Burnett’s drive saw her whip into the sprint lane to run down the leaders as she headed to the judge, while Turnbull was a class act on her father’s six-year-old gelding Asta Leugo, storming home wide out on the track from last to just fall short.
Donna Castles’ magical winning pillar to post drive on Castafoire in the Cobram Lions Club Pace saw her salute in the McGrath Foundation colours for owner Greg Corbett as the pair ran the rest of the field ragged in the run to the judge.
A fitting result, which put the icing on the cake for Castles, a cancer survivor herself, and the driving force for not only the harness racing girls fundraising efforts but also behind the day itself.
The upset win at the great odds ahead of Miss Rixon and the favourite The Last Chance certainly added to the woes of punters.
A steal by young Coleambally reinsman Jackson Painting in the Cobram Sit ‘n’ Sew Pace made sure the day was not only about the girls.
With the red-hot favourite Dynamic Bromac NZ in front setting the pace to his own liking, the Yarrawonga-trained longshot Untythehood was happy to trail the field for a large part of the 2170m journey.
Making his move late in the back straight being carted up behind Tom Gilligan on Rusty Crackers, it became a battle of three turning into the home straight with Untythehood unleashing a withering run to storm home ahead of the favourite.
The brilliant drive by Jackson saw him take home Top Male Drive of the Day and deliver a magnificent Royal Albert new country roses teapot/sugar/creamer set to the winning owners.
One of the state’s top experienced reinsmen John Caldow also snatched a win for the boys in the Cobram Spinners and Weavers Trotters Handicap saluting with Rory McHinson for Kyabram trainer Mick Blackmore.
It was also a big day for the Duffy family from Arcadia. Steven and Ryan took the honours on the track, chalking up training and driving doubles with the aptly named Winkanditsover, who did just that in the 1670m Breast Care Nurses Pace, and Tryna Portray, owned by Julie Duffy in the Cobram-Barooga Apex Vicbred Platinum Country Series.
Later, Steven and Ryan teamed together in the Cobram Lions Pace to run third with Rothko, earning valuable points to put Steven in an unbeatable position to claim the Babcon Plant Hire Trainer of the Day.
A consistent day on the track saw Laura Crossland take out the Xerri Evans Pink Ribbon Lady Drivers Aggregate Award for 2019, four points ahead of closest rivals Rebecca Bartley and Kima Frenning with Donna Castles hot on their heels just one point behind.
The win went down to the wire in the final race, Strathmerton Lions Pace, with Crossland snatching the prize for the second consecutive year when she greeted the judge in second place on Threepeat.
Thanks to Xerri Evans Accountants, loyal supporters of Community Pink Ladies Day, having sponsored the award since the event started.
Trackside, Noelene Ackerly was named Lady of the Day and Rhonda Elzinga took home hat of the day fashions on the field. All contestants looking amazing and no doubt causing judge Sally Moore a few headaches.
Rae Koch was drawn as lucky lady patron, while Marilynne Cleveland was the winner of sweep on the Invitation Lady Drivers Pace, Tracey Noonan second and Beverly Gayle third.
The winners in the harness racing girls major raffle in support of the McGrath Foundation were drawn by the McGrath Foundation breast care nurse Michelle Parish.
Winners: Glenys Jones, Cobram, 1 ($3000 Flight Centre (Market Place Shepparton) voucher and luggage); Jimmy Brown, Young, 2 ($1000 Visa gift card); Malcolm Evans, Numurkah, 3 ($500 Visa gift card); Noel Pattison, Kialla; Wayne Anderson, Indigo Valley; Tan Ward, Invergordon; and Tracy Stewart, Mulwala ($100 Visa gift card each).
Tocumwal resident Denis Casey won the lucky patrons draw (five nights at Ashmore Palms Holiday Village, Queensland).
The club thanked the Victorian Government and in particular Racing Minister Martin Pakula for supporting the event.