AN earlier smattering of rain brought the Stony Creek track back to a soft 5, but more than anything the rain served to cleanse away the heat and dust of Christmas Day.
Crowds were down at the Stony Creek Racing Club’s Family Day races on Boxing Day but the rain held off for all six races and the horses enjoyed a strong tail wind finish.
The six race card attracted families for a relaxing Boxing Day round-up to the festivities.
Children were entertained with sporting activities and jumping castles and face painting, while special guest Alison Lester signed books and posed for photos with her many fans at the Noni the Pony paddock.
At the other end of the paddock – the stables and mounting yards, a strong contingent of international horses made an appearance, with two taking home some prize-money – Lake Como (New Zealand) on debut, and Sommernachtstraum (Germany).
Racing resumes at Stony Creek for the Girl’s Day Out on Tuesday, January 5.
Future track riders
The international stables were an exciting area to be for five young women involved in the Speed to Safety Program championship.
The zone championship events require riders to ride the track to an optimum time set in accordance with their pony club grading.
Grade 1 and 2 riders must complete 1000m in 109 seconds, and Grade 3 and 4 in 120 seconds.
The Speed to Safety Program is an initiative of Racing Victoria – the Boxing Day event was the second time the zone championships were held at Stony Creek.
“The Speed to Safety Program is a way to develop partnerships between young people, pony clubs and the wider industry,” Racing Victoria Workforce Development Officer Lisa Coffey said.
“It is an opportunity to see how their skills and interests can be used towards a career.”
The Speed to Safety Program, of which the winner receives a fully funded place in Racing Victoria’s Track Rider Program, is focused towards developing track riders who work with trainers to prepare horses for races.
“Pony club members already have many of the skills the industry is looking for,” Ms Coffey continued.
“There is a critical shortage of track riders.
“It’s seen as a less desirable job because of its unsociable hours (very early mornings), and it’s perceived to be dangerous – which it can be if you haven’t had training.
“The Track Rider Program is a key way Racing Victoria is working on robust and safe training environment.”
Georgia Filippi, a 16 year-old Wonthaggi Secondary College student, won the first Speed to Safety event and again placed well on the weekend.
“I won it last year and was offered a job to ride for Shea Eden (trainer based in Corinella),” Georgia said.
“But mum wouldn’t let me do it until I had done the Track Rider Program.”
Now, Georgia’s mum couldn’t be prouder.
Georgia has gone on to participate in the program, connecting with equestrian specialists and developing her riding to be a safe track rider.
“Now I do track riding on weekends and holidays,” Georgia said.
“I’m doing Year 11 this year and I’ll still do track riding on the weekends, but school comes first, and the Eden family’s been really good – they understand that.”
Race 1: Victorian State Government 3 year-old fillies Maiden Plate (1100m) 1st Lake Como (NZ), Pat Hyland (trainer), Brandon Stockdale (jockey); 2nd Sugar Free, Kane Harris; 3rd Amansara, Shane Nichols, Jack Martin.
Race 2: GROB Graphic Design Maiden Plate (1100m) 1st Miss Eeyore, John Price, Brian Werner; 2nd England Dan, John Leek, Brandon Stockdale; 3rd Hands Up, Colin and Cindy Alderson, Beau Mertens.
Race 3: Malabar Mile 0-58 Handicap (1700m): 1st Outback Grande, Mark Webb, Arron Lynch; 2nd Sommernachtstraum (Ger) Robert Kingston, Beau Mertens; 3rd Whistleonby, John Leek, Brian Werner.
Race 4: Carman’s F&M BM64 Handicap (1100m): 1st Charnzel, Ricky Maund, Jade Darose; 2nd Az Given (NZ), Colin and Cindy Alderson, Ibrahim Gundogdu; 3rd Annah Haze, Rebecca Waymouth, Beau Mertens.
Race 5: Noni the Pony 0-58 Handicap (2100m): 1st Celestial Sky, Mick Bell, Beau Mertens; 2nd Trevor, Sharyn Trolove, Ibrahim Gundogdo; 3rd Woodcutter Girl, Bob Beercroft, Jack Martin.
Race 6: Meeniyan Hotel 0-58 Handicap (1000m): 1st The Onceler, Shane Nichols, Jack Martin; 2nd Rokeby, Tabitha Cunningham, Rose Pearson; 3rd Rich Tycoon, Brendan Woodman, Jarrod Todd.