DRIVERS from Charlton and Bendigo dominated Friday night's harness racing meeting at Mildura.
Alex Ashwood, Ryan Sanderson, Jack Laugher and Ellen Tormey each finished with doubles as the region's drivers had a hand in nine of the 12 winners on the program.
A strong haul included a single win for Jayden Brewin and a training double for Strathfieldsaye's Julie Douglas with Ozzie Battler and Van Niekirk.
Ozzie Battler, driven out in front by Laugher, gave his rivals plenty to chase and proved too strong in winning by nearly six-metres from his stable-mate Bernie Winkle (Tormey), with Velos Equss back in third.
It was the gelded son of Sunshine Beach's 14th win in 118 starts and his first since scoring at Mildura in early April.
He has been placed a further 47 times.
It was the first leg of a driving double for Laugher, who added the second later in the night aboard Hereshecomessassy for Liparoo trainer Reece Moore.
The second win for the night for Douglas came with Van Niekirk, driven by Sanderson, in the NR 55 to 63 pace.
The five-year-old gelding won for the second time this season from just six starts and 10th time overall from 66 starts.
His win gave in-form Charton youngster Sanderson his double after his success earlier in the night aboard Tact Tory for Mildura trainer Andrew Vozlic.
Van Niekirk has shown a definite liking for Mildura.
He has raced three times at the City Oval Paceway during his career for two wins and a placing, albeit Friday night's run was his first start up north since early in his career in February 2020.
Tormey continued her great season with a double for Irymple trainer Scott Garraway aboard This Is Bill and Springfield Shadow, while Ashwood's two wins came for different trainers.
The 28-year-old Bendigo trainer-driver notched up wins on the Frank Cavallaro-trained A Rocknroll Jet and Cemetey Bay for Ian Campbell.
Brewin's win on the six-year-old gelding Heza Western in the second last race on the program completed a treble for Red Cliffs trainer Kate Attard.
Her earlier wins came with Lilbitahenrytee and Hanover Jack.
Going into Saturday night's meeting at Melton, Douglas leads the state trainer's premiership standings on 80 wins, two ahead of Emma Stewart.
Laugher is fifth in the driver's premiership on 75 wins, one behind Chris Alford, with Tormey sixth on 69 wins.
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