ON-TRACK for a career-best season in the sulky, Bendigo's Ellen Tormey has added another milestone to her impressive race-driving resume.
The 30-year-old notched her 700th career driving win with a victory aboard the Terry French-trained Joeys Hangover at Bendigo's Lord's Raceway on Tuesday night.
Her milestone win came on the back of a big week and a half for Tormey, who scored a double at Shepparton last Sunday, with the first aboard the Grant Innes-trained Vincent Kai, before steering home Lara Bay, who is trained by her Charlton-based father John Tormey.
Tormey has been in scintillating form this season and particularly of late.
Nine of her 61 winners for the season have been added this month, including another win for Heathcote trainer French at Shepparton last week with Hard Rock Shannon, and a city-class win aboard the Alex Ashwood-trained Still Hungover at Cranbourne last Saturday night.
With her strong patch of recent form in mind, Tormey said the milestone had come up a little quicker than she had anticipated, after learning she was in sight of the 700-win mark, while browsing the Harness Racing Victoria website during some downtime on a trip to the Mildura races.
"I've had a bit of luck recently, but it's a big accomplishment. I obviously couldn't do it without a lot of support," she said.
"I guess I have been around a little while, so I should be proud of it."
Tormey, who kicked-off her career in the sulky as a 16-year-old back in the 2006-07 season, said she had no inkling back then where the journey would eventually lead to, or even how long she would last in the sport.
"It was pretty quiet for the first few years, it probably wasn't until I was about 20 that I started getting a fair few drives and have been able to keep the ball rolling," she said.
"I was horse mad from about the age of 11, so I was probably always going to have something to do with them.
"I didn't actually know that I would get to this stage, or have as much success as I have had.
"I have been pretty lucky to represent Victoria and things like that; I definitely wouldn't have picked anything like that ever happening when I had that first drive."
Tormey, who grew up in Charlton and cut her teeth in the pony trots, said representing her state at the Australasian Young Drivers Championship in Perth in 2011 and 2012 were the obvious standout highlights of her career.
Still based in Charlton at the time, she won the series in 2012.
Tormey is one of only four female drivers to have represented Victoria in the series and one of only three from this state to have won, following on from world champion Kerryn Manning in 2001 and Michael Bellman in 2002.
"Winning was a huge achievement ... getting to represent my state, I also got to go to New Zealand and Sydney to drive, and from that, I got to meet a lot of great people," Tormey said.
"But driving winners for dad - it might only be at Mildura or Charlton - I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.
"He's been the biggest supporter - we've had a few disagreements along the way, and he probably doesn't want to do the horses as much now, but he always sticks at it because I am here and keen to keep going.
"I couldn't thank him and mum (Alison) enough."
Just as Ellen, who has long since made the move to Junortoun, is enjoying a fabulous season, father John is in the midst of one of the best of his career having already surpassed last season's total of 13 wins, with 15 and 29 placings in 2021.
"He's got a fair few new ones coming through, which has definitely helped. His team is going very well at the moment," she said.
Integral to her success this season has undoubtedly been Tormey's blossoming association with both the Kate Hargreaves-trained trotter Well Defined and the 'King of Mildura' Bernie Winkle.
Well Defined stamped his class with a Victorian record five country trotting cup wins from February through to April, starting at Ararat and ending at Mildura.
The six-year-old gelding also finished second and third twice each in country cups, all with Tormey in the sulky, for an amazing record so far this season of five wins and four placings from 11 starts for $63,370 in earnings for his owners, who include his young trainer.
Her record on Bernie Winkle, who is trained at Strathfieldsaye by Julie Douglas, is an even more impressive 13 wins, two seconds and two thirds from 18 drives for $109,080.
The eight-year-old has raced just once outside of Mildura this season for an eighth at Echuca, when he was driven by Glenn Douglas.
"They are both just lovely horses to get on, I'm just lucky with the success I've had with both," she said.
"Bernie's been a huge contributor to the wins this year, every time I go to Mildura, you can nearly count on him to get you a winner.
"He's got a nice picket fence going at the moment, hopefully, there's a few more there for him.
"He's a ripper of a horse. Well Defined has been extremely good to me too.
"He's won a few Group races this year, but I definitely couldn't do it without the support of people like Kate and Julie.
"They (Well Defined and Bernie Winkle) may not be the top of the top, but it's still great to be able to go to the races and jump on nice horses."
Just as Bernie Winkle has certainly earned his crown as the King of Mildura, Tormey is certainly the Queen following an amazing 38 winners at the City Oval Paceway this season, placing her second on the club's driver's premiership behind only Jack Laugher.
While Tormey refuses to take credit for Well Defined's record-breaking country cups run, Hargreaves praised the sport's newest 700-race winner as crucial to his success.
"She deserves to be on a nice horse and I really hope that Well Defined is going to be that horse for her," she said.
Having steadily increased her output of winners in four of the last five completed seasons, Tormey hopes to reach the 100-mark for the first time in her distinguished career later this year.
It comes after notching a career-best 91 in last year's extended season.
"It would be nice, but you can't worry too much about that stuff," she said.
"I'd just like to keep ticking along well. There's a few new horses coming into the stable that should be able to win races in the next few months.
"It's been a good start to the season; obviously Team Teal month (the harness racing industry's initiative to raise funds and awareness of ovarian cancer) was really good for me. (Tormey finished with a Victorian-leading 21 wins).
"If I can keep going to Mildura and places like that, hopefully, the 100 eventually comes."
Driving winners for dad - it might only be at Mildura or Charlton - I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.Ellen Tormey
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