AN EXCEPTIONAL end to January has transformed into a strong start to February for Ellen Tormey.
The Bendigo trainer-driver has notched up five winners in the sulky through the first 11 days of the month, resulting in a windfall for the harness racing industry's Team Teal campaign.
For six weeks through February and March, all female drivers in Victoria will race in teal pants to raise awareness and much-needed funds for ovarian cancer research.
Harness Racing Victoria and the TAB are teaming to donate $400 for every female driving win, with Tormey certainly doing her bit to give the campaign a kick-a-long.
"I usually don't have much luck during this month for some reason. I always want to get a few winners, but I never do," she said.
"So, it's been good to have a good run this time."
Tormey's five winners for the month have been achieved with five different horses and at five different tracks.
They include Aztec Inti, who is trained by her father John Tormey, at Charlton on Monday, Miss Artemis at Echuca last Friday, Safari Rose (Mildura last Thursday), Mar Pacifico (Bendigo, February 4)and Casting Shadow (Shepparton, February 3).
Those successes followed a treble at Mildura on the final day of January with Safari Rose, Pat the Pony and Sheer Modern, giving her seven wins in total for the opening month of the year.
Especially pleasing for Tormey is that two of her wins since January 31 have come with horses she trains herself, Sheer Modern, who has won two straight, and Mar Pacifico.
"Sheer Modern I have only had about three weeks - I got her about five days before her first win (at Mildura on January 24)," she said.
"They sent her to me to help her with her gate speed and just thought it might be easier at Mildura.
"She's taken it in her stride and is in again (tonight). She has drawn one and should be a good chance again.
"I'm not sure if she's just enjoying the change of environment or if she finds the racing a bit easier, but she's done a good job so far.
"She's well and truly paying for herself."
Mar Pacifico has continued to gather momentum since returning to racing in November following a four-month break.
The five-year-old mare has won three of her last five starts and been placed in all but one of her 10 starts since resuming.
"She's always been a nice mare, but I've always raced her during the winter because that's when all the big races for her are," Tormey said.
"But she never seems to be one hundred per cent, she always gets bugs and her joints are sore.
"This time in we thought we'd turn her out during winter and bring her back during summer and she has been amazing.
"It was kind of only bad luck that got her beat in her first four starts back, but she really hasn't put a bad run in this time."
Mar Pacifico is entered at Kilmore this Friday, but Tormey hinted a trip to Tabcorp Park Melton was on the cards.
"She is kind of city grade now, so she will start heading down to Melton," she said.
"I think it will suit her, she likes when they run along. She's got a bit of speed and can reel off a nice quarter at the end if she sits on the back of speed.
"I think getting done there and getting driven a little quieter will suit her."
Tormey has five drives tonight at Mildura.
Among her best chances is the Alfio Grasso-trained Safari Rose, with the trainer-driver combination seeking their fourth-straight win with the seven-year-old mare.
All three of the pacer's previous victories have come on her home track.
Mildura has been a happy hunting ground for Bendigo drivers in recent times, with Tormey, Alex Ashwood (two), Jayden Brewin (one) and Glenn Douglas (one) combining to win seven of the nine races run at City Oval Paceway on January 31.
Douglas followed up with a training-driving double at last Thursday's Mildura meeting with Van Niekirk and Elegant Jewel, while Tormey and Ashwood both added a win in the sulky.
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