THE weather gods turned on the sunshine for the 2017 running of the Elmore Pacing Cup.
More than a thousand people filed into Hunter Park Raceway for the second cup meeting at Elmore since the track was re-opened for racing following a 11-year hiatus.
Local trotting legend and Elmore Racing Club secretary-treasurer Cliff Powell said the event organisers had been blessed with a fine day.
“It was really good to have the cup back here last year – it was taken off us about 10 years before,” he said.
“I remember saying to the chairman of the harness racing board last year that Moonee Valley was on later that night and ‘do you think you will get as many people there as there was at Elmore’, which was 1200 or 1400.
“He said, ‘no, we won’t’, so I said taking our cup away meant taking away the entertainment for our local people and taking away racing from our local horsemen and women.
“We fought hard to get it back last year. It’s well worth it when you see another great crowd.
“We get great support also from the district trainers, who traditionally came here every year previously.
“I’m sure this meeting will just get bigger and bigger.”
Speaking to the Bendigo Advertiser before the second of eight races on the program, Powell – who partnered Derby Royale to victory in the 1978 Inter Dominion Trotter’s final – tipped Nomi Malone to win the day’s feature event.
It proved an astute pick with young driver Zac Phillips guiding the Ellen Tormey Junortoun-trained four-year-old mare to victory in the $3500 Elmore Pacing Cup.
The $1.80 favourite was having just her first start since being unplaced at Kilmore in June, but was an Oaks winner At Globe Derby in March.
It was Tormey’s first Elmore Cup win as a trainer.
A thrilled club president Eddie Mullane paid credit to his small nine-member committee for making the day a success.
“It’s a proud day for us all – everyone has worked real hard to get the track looking good. It’s come up real well,” he said.
Veteran Longlea trainer Brian Gath, who has amassed more than 3000 winners across his more than 40 year career, including the 1978 Inter Dominion with Markovina, said he was only to keen to support the Elmore club.
“It’s a terrific family day, there’s more people here than you often get (to the races) in Melbourne,” he said.
“Everyone likes it, it’s a great atmosphere. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like it.
“I really enjoy coming here, Elmore’s a friendly place.”
The 73-year-old had to settle for a fourth placing in the main race with Winkn Nod.
Remarkably for a trainer-driver who has competed at as many tracks across not only Victoria, but interstate and overseas, it was his first drive in an Elmore Cup.