Lang plots celebration

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Every Seelite Windows & Doors Redwood Classic is special, but Sunday’s 2010 edition at Maryborough is particularly significant given it will be the 25th running of the iconic event.

And no driver rises to the occasion better when the famed race for two-year-old trotters reaches a milestone than Gavin Lang.

The champion Melton horseman won the inaugural Redwood in 1986 aboard Young Trouper and saluted again with Andandon when it celebrated its 15th edition.

Lang will be out to keep the trend going when he partners Chateau De Ville in Sunday’s $50,000 Group 1.

The Group 1 specialist this week recalled how far the Redwood has come since that first edition, which was worth $3500, and expressed his desire to again play a key role in the feature of the weekend’s all-trotting extravaganza.

“Anyone who knows anything about harness racing knows that people with the trotters, more so than the pacers, are pretty passionate about their horses,” Lang said.

“It’s no surprise to me that the Redwood has gone to the level it’s gone to. It’s a special race and it would be great to win it again.”

Lang has given himself every chance to do so, teaming up with Alex Douglas-trained favourite Chateau De Ville in the 2180-metre standing start test.

The son of Conch Deville has been the standout juvenile trotter of the season, counting the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series and Group 2 Tatlow Stakes among four wins from six starts.

Lang, who had his first drive on Chateau De Ville at the gelding’s last-start Vicbred win, will be relying on his charge’s professionalism when he squares up to the inside-back-row draw.

“A front line draw would have been better because then you control your own destiny, but now we’ve just got to stand up and trot away and try and avoid the trouble,” Lang said.

“But he seems a very foolproof horse and in a standing start race, especially for the two-year-old trotters, it’s prudent that they are able to stand and jump and his connections tell me that poses no problem for him.”

Compounding Chateau De Ville’s alley is that the other top hopes for the 2.25pm event all the drew the front line.

Vicbred placegetters Djasker and I See Icy Earl have gates one and five respectively, five-time winner Moyabamba has barrier two with last week’s Maori Legend victor, the Peter Manning-trained, Rheola Gold in four.


Western Australian trainer Greg Bond has turned to the right man in his search for a stand-in driver for Millwood Meg in Friday night’s $A75,000 Group 1 Nevele R Stud Australian Oaks at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.

Bond gifted the drive to John Caldow, the equal most successful driver in the race’s history, when regular driver Colin Brown surrendered the drive in order to stick with Ima Rocket Star in the Hondo Grattan Sprint at Menangle.

Caldow, an Australian Oaks winner aboard Newbold Penny (1995), Mother Courage (1999) and Cherry Cheer (2001), is thrilled to be given his chance aboard the former Kiwi who has won eight of nine starts in Australia.

“This race and the Victoria Oaks, they’ve both been pretty good races to me,” said Caldow, who shares the record for Australian Oaks wins with Gavin Lang.

“While I haven’t driven this filly before, on her record she’s pretty well-placed alongside the others. But she’s going to have to be from where she’s drawn.”

The scratching of Ima Happy Girl deprived Millwood Meg of an edge she appeared to have over the other drawcard, Kiwi superstar De Lovely, in the 2240-metre mobile.

The daughter of Mach Three was allocated gate nine – one off the pegs on the back row – at Tuesday’s barrier draw, but moves in one position to the tricky inside-back-row spot following Ima Happy Girl’s withdrawal.

The Geoff Small-trained, David Butcher-driven De Lovely, who originally drew 10, now assumes the prime trailing draw behind speedy beginner Mes Cullen.

“We were very happy after the draw but things have changed a bit,” Caldow said. “It was all good when we were one-off and we looked like being in front of her (De Lovely) but things are different now.

“I’ve got a few things to think about and probably won’t work out what I’m going to do until we get rolling.”

TAB Sportsbet reacted to the barrier shuffling by installing De Lovely, a winner of the New Zealand Oaks and Harness Jewels Diamond at two of her past three, a raging $1.60 favourite.

Millwood Meg is rated a $3.50 chance as she strives to add the Australian Oaks to the Western Australian and Queensland Classics she counts among her victories since joining the Bond camp in March.

Local star Rocknrolla ($6.50, barrier 13) is the only other runner under double figures, ahead of Miss Trickin Lombo ($15, 12) and Queensland raider Torque In Motion (seven), who has met with good early support ($31 into $21).

Courtesy of Brad Bishop, HRV Media Manager