Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Great Southern Star set to shine

The birth of the Great Southern Star took another step forward yesterday.

HANNAH DRISCOLL December 5, 2012 4:10am

HRV chief executive John Anderson, Prydes Easifeed state manager David Owen and leading trainer-driver Chris Lang, with Let Me Thru, were present at the announcement regarding the Great Southern Star at Nagambie’s Aldebaran Park yesterday.

The birth of the Great Southern Star took another step forward yesterday.

Harness Racing Victoria announced yesterday Prydes Easifeed was the inaugural naming-rights sponsor for the race.

HRV chief executive John Anderson said it was an important step for the new undertaking, which replaces the abandoned Inter Dominion for trotters.

‘‘HRV was running the Inter Dominion trot virtually every year, so we were not happy with that decision to take the Inter Dominion away,’’ Anderson said.

‘‘We decided to replace it with something bigger and better and try and grow an event all in its own right.’’

The Great Southern Star will be held on March 23 at Tabcorp Park, Melton, with the two Group One heats and final on the same race card.

The concept was modelled on Sweden’s Elitlopp and Anderson said it was to help ‘‘internationalisation of the product’’.

‘‘This concept of two heats into a final on the same night on one program is something that’s unique to a couple of major international race meetings where trotting is prominent,’’ Anderson said.

‘‘We figure this is a way to start a new culture with this type of race and, with the attraction of the stakes money, to attract the best trotters.’’

The Great Southern Star heats are worth $50000 each and the final will be worth $250000 and the hope is for the stakes to grow in coming years.

Several qualifying races for the heats have already been held in Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand and the next is the Group One Bill Collins Trotters Mile at Cranbourne on Saturday.

Anderson said HRV was trying to attract some Scandinavian and US-based entries along the way and was hopeful of gaining one or two for the inaugural race.

‘‘If we are going to internationalise the racing here, the trotting gait is the way to do it because there’s more of them overseas,’’ he said.

‘‘Similarly we’d like some of our horses to go over there and compete in the big races there.’’

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