A FRUITFUL and long-standing partnership between Lockwood South freelance driver Neil McCallum and Mildura's Prothero family continues to reap rewards.
McCallum teamed with rising young trainer Lachlan Prothero to land a double at Wednesday night's meeting at City Oval Paceway.
The pair struck early in the program with the Auckland Reactor gelding Ian Raymond before scoring later in the program with Baby Ginnie.
Both horses are only relatively new acquisitions to Prothero's Birdwoodton stable and were able to improve on last start placings at Mildura at the club's previous meeting on January 12.
A double for McCallum contributed to a spectacular night for the visiting Bendigo region contingent of trainers and drivers.
Shelbourne trainer Kate Hargreaves landed a treble with wins to Beat City, Maestro Bellini and Elita, while Strathfieldsaye's Julie Douglas scored a win with Pembrook Charlie and a second with Mildura track specialist Bernie Winkle behind Maestro Bellini.
Among the driving ranks, talented young concession driver Jack Laugher, who has recently settled in the Bendigo region, starred with five wins, including with Pembrook Charlie and Maestro Bellini, while Alex Ashwood, Jordan Leedham and Rod Lakey each notched one.
Lakey was the first to strike, winning the opening race on the 12-event program on the Allan MacDonald-trained Calgary Bay.
A double for McCallum continued the experienced driver's bright start to the new year, boosting his early season win total to four.
The first two of those wins came aboard the Keith Douglas-trained Hanging On A Dream, including their victory in the Group 3 Central Victorian Trotting Championship Final at Boort on January 3.
McCallum was confident Ian Raymond and Baby Ginnie could quickly knock over another win on their home track and help aid the ongoing development of their trainer.
"He just needs to get a few more new horses in - they had a great run over COVID when Mildura when was in its own little bubble - but when the regions opened up again some of his horses were on a pretty stiff mark," he said.
"Most of them were for the one big owner in Melbourne and a few of them have been sent over to Tassie.
"The plan is for them to send a few more up (to Mildura).
"(Ian Raymond and Baby Ginnie) are no stars, but I can see them winning more races up at Mildura.
"(Lachlan's father) Andy only just bought Ian Raymond and that was only his third run for two seconds and a win. He's actually paid for himself.
"And the other has done a better job than we'd thought. She won two straight away, which surprised us, but then she started to draw a bit awkwardly and was up two grades, and then she got crook.
"She's recovered now and her last two runs have been good."
Originally trained by Tony Bond at Ararat, Baby Ginnie has had nine starts for the Prothero family for three wins and the one placing.
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