BENDIGO'S Harness Racing Club's cup meeting at Lord's Raceway this Friday sees the eleventh running of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, a Group 1 sprint race for trotters worth $50,000.
Not only will the winner receive the major part of the prize money and a gold cup, there will be the possibility of an invitation to one of the two most prestigious trotting events in the world, Sweden's Elitloppet, or The Yonkers International Trot in New York.
Trotters and their owners, trainers and drivers from the USA, Canada, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia have been invited to both events in the past.
Two of the past winners of the Maori Mile at Lord's Raceway in Bendigo received international invitations.
The 2015 winner Maori Time - the fastest trotting mare bred in Australasia - travelled to Sweden in 2018 to compete in the Swedish Elitloppet, run at the famous Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm, but was unplaced.
The 2018 winner Sparkling Success, driven by Bendigo reinsman Chris Svanosio, was invited to the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, conducted at Yonkers Raceway in New York.
Unfortunately, Sparkling Success was unable to make the trip due to injury, but his connections were able to travel to New York to be part of the event.
Duncan McPherson and Aldebaran Park lent their support formalising arrangements for Maori Time's Elitloppet campaign, and the cancelled trip to the US by Sparkling Success.
Along with Harness Racing Australia, they combined to subsidise and assist the connections of the horses with the provision of transport, training, preparation and some travel expenses.
The Aldebaran Park Maori Mile commenced as a Group 3 event of $20,000, when won in 2010 by Acacia Ridge.
In the 10 years since, it has grown into a Group 1 event of $50,000.
Remarkably, the winning time for the mile race has been slashed by over five seconds from 1:59.1 by Acacia Ridge, to the scorching mile in 1:53.9 by Sparkling Success.
In addition to the international pathway, the Maori Mile winner will have the opportunity to advance to the Great Southern Star, Australia's richest race for trotters at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 1, with prize money of $250,000.
"The Aldebaran Park Maori Mile is Australia's premier Sprint Mile for Southern Hemisphere trotters, and is internationally recognised as the Invitation Race for our trotters to advance to the world stage," said Aldebaran Park's principal Duncan McPherson.
"This race again represents Aldebaran Park's vision of the internationalisation and globalisation of our sport here in Australia".
With the $70,000 Garrard's Horse and Hound Bendigo Pacing Cup and a great card of supporting races, BHRC chief executive officer Erik Hendrix said a great night out for the family is assured.
"We have an amazing night installed catering for all age groups with kids zone activities, including a water slide, face painting, live music, food trucks and dining packages with reserved seating available," he said.
"The BHRC has a fantastic grass area so we encourage families to bring a blanket and enjoy a great night of family fun and racing."
This year entry is only a gold coin donation with all money raised going to support a fantastic local charity in the Community Kitchen.
With much of the community currently experiencing drought conditions and financial hardship, the Community Kitchen is bringing volunteers, farmers and isolated people together.
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