BENDIGO trainer-driver Ellen Tormey says she would like nothing better than to replicate last year's stunning success of 21 Team Teal winners over the next month and a half.
From today (February 1), harness racing drivers from across Australia and New Zealand will take the lead in helping women with ovarian cancer.
For every winner driven by a female driver from now until March 15, an amount of money will be donated by the sport's controlling bodies and betting partners towards ovarian cancer research, education and awareness.
In Victoria, that amount is $400 per win courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria and the TAB.
Tormey was the state's shining light last year with a Victorian-high 21 winners, placing her ahead of Kate Gath (17), with the Kerryn Manning next best on 12.
The 31-year-old said Team Teal was something she always looked forward to and hoped to do well in.
"All the girls look forward to it - and it's a month of good racing," Tormey said.
"We have the Great Southern Star coming up, some country cups; it's just a good time of the year and with good weather.
"Everyone enjoys it."
Matching last season's tally of 24, which followed a previous-career best of 11 in 2020, will be a tough ask, according to Tormey, who finds herself in super form with 13 winners through the first month of the year.
But that has only steeled her resolve to do well.
"I hope I'm wrong, but I can't see myself going as well this month, but I'll be doing my best," she said.
"You just have those really good runs and when you are on a bit of a roll, like last year, you seem to find yourself on good horses and you just seem to have all the luck, or you make some luck and the horse is good enough to capitalise on the luck.
"Then you have runs when you might be driving well and you're hopping on horses that are not good enough to take advantage of the drive.
"It's a fine line and every driver has a run like it. Mine was lucky enough to be last February."
Key contributors to her dream teal run last year were the Kate Hargreaves-trained trotter Well Defined and the cult pacer Bernie Winkle, trained by Julie and Glenn Douglas at Strathfieldsaye, who accounted for four and two wins respectively.
Well entrenched as their driver, Tormey is hoping both might jag a win or two this time around.
"This year is a bit different, now that the horses have settled into the second year of a calendar season, a lot of horses are going or have gone for spells now," she said.
"Everyone's routine has changed a bit. I feel it may get a little bit quieter for me over the next month, I know a lot of my horses have gone for a spell as well.
"Well Defined will obviously be in the (country) cups again and Bernie's still punching around. Hopefully those two will get me a few wins.
"But there's no other horse that stands out as one that will get a bunch of wins at this stage."
After a record-breaking five cup wins last year and multiple placings, Tormey believed Well Defined was getting back to a handicap that would allow him to be not just competitive, but a threat, in the months ahead.
"He's still off 10m, so he's not going to get the runs he was getting early on, but his second in the Cobram Cup was his best in a long while," she said.
"With the right handicap, he can put himself into the right position.
"He won't be far away - I don't know if he can win five (cups) again but he's capable of winning one soon."
A bright Team Teal period would build on the momentum Tormey has built up early in the season.
It's followed a career-best 120 wins last year.
After starting her career as a teenager in 2006-07, passing the 100-mark for the first time was a moment to savour for the former Charlton driver.
Particularly after coming close to the ton in 2019-20 with 96 wins.
The aim for 2022 is to continue to enhance herself and hopefully tick off a Group 1 win.
Read more: Ellen Tormey surges to 700 driving wins
Tormey's pursuit of Team Teal success will launch at Kilmore on Thursday night with six drives, including three for her father John, including Miss Broomfield, Glens Of Tekoa and Mister Artikulate.
Similarly in-form and a chance to figure prominently over the next six week's, fellow Bendigo region driver Tayla French is entering February on six wins.
Also coming off a career-best season (69 wins) and with a swag of upcoming drives for the Alex Ashwood stable, the 24-year-old is all but certain to eclipse her three 2021 Team Teal wins early in the month.
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