THE Ardmona team of Donna Castles and Doc Wilson welcomed 2018 with a dazzling double at another bumper New Year’s night meeting at Echuca’s Frank Ryan Raceway on Monday night.
Castles prepares Fatouche, which won the trotters’ handicap with a tough staying performance from a 10m handicap.
She also trains the well supported Emessgee, which broke through for his maiden win in a CO event after his first 11 starts had yielded a frustrating five minor placings.
Both Fatouche, a son of Yankee Spider, who has now won four races, and Emessgee, who is a six-year-old by Artistic Fella, were driven to victory by Doc Wilson.
Other northern Victorian trainers and drivers who had a memorable start to the New Year at the meeting were Echuca’s Wayne Lear, Rochester’s Neville Pangrazio, Elmore’s Keith Cotchin and Tatura north’s Craig Turnbull.
In a top training effort and a home town win, Lear produced the Village Jasper seven-year-old I Hope I Can, who was driven by leading reinsman Greg Sugars, for his first maiden CO class win at his 42nd try.
Pangrazio produced the talented Showgun Thomas to win a C2-4 class race on protest from Tell Nobody, which had been first over the line but who was pretty quickly thereafter found by stewards to have veered out in the straight and impeded the favourite’s finishing burst.
Cotchin produced the fancied Kamwood Caesar, who was driven by Ryan Duffy, to win a C1 Only class event.
Turnbull trained the winner of the opening event, Well Disguised, a two-time winner with 11 placings in Queensland as a two-year-old.
He was one of two winners on the night driven by Chris Alford and was stepping out for the first time in three-year-old company.
Club officials were again delighted with the big crowd — estimated at 2500 — which attended the meeting.
Club president Rob Height said historically the New Year’s Day event would be the best attended of the club’s meetings throughout the year.
‘‘We also made a significant investment in entertaining all our patrons, including the children, and we think that worked pretty well on the day,’’ he said.
‘‘With things such as the Transformers we had big numbers in here more than an hour before racing began and that was pretty impressive.’’