CONTRIBUTION: Ross Gigg died from a heart attack last month aged 58 after spending 22 years as the Hunter’s leading pacing administrator.THE Harness Racing NSW clubs committee has named Rising Star series races in honour of Ross Gigg to recognise the former Newcastle chief executive’s invaluable contribution to the industry.
Gigg died from a heart attack last month at age 58 after spending 22 years as the Hunter’s leading pacing administrator.
Heats of the Rising Star driving series will be held at Newcastle on June 28.
The Newcastle club is still weighing up the best way to recognise Gigg amid calls to name the track’s grandstand in his honour.
■ Louth Park trainer-driver Darren Elder believes luck from the standing start appears the only challenge for Shane Tritton’s Yayas Hot Spot in the Hawkesbury to Hunter Standing Start Championship (2550 metres) final tonight at Newcastle.
Elder has Shannonsablast and Mister Eye Bolt in the $8000 race, which also offers the winning trainer a new double horse float.
Shannonsablast, which will come off 10m, was a heat winner two weeks ago and backed up with a third at Menangle last week. Mister Eye Bolt, driven by Elder’s son, Brad, ran third and fourth in the heats.
Tritton also has Her Ex And I and Just Julia in the decider but all eyes will be on Yayas Hot Spot, which will come off 20m.
Tritton is using the series to prepare Yayas Hot Spot for the Queensland Derby.
The Victorian Derby placegetter blitzed his heat rivals by 26m off a 20m handicap in torrential rain and will be expected to dominate again.
Elder said the challenge of getting through the 13-horse field off the backmarker was there for Yayas Hot Spot but he was a class above his rivals.
‘‘Everyone’s got to get away when you are back there and there can be traffic if they stop in front, but Yayas will be hard to beat, that’s for sure,’’ Elder said.
■ Suave Stuey Lombo upstaged stablemate Mach Beauty with a top run at Menangle on Tuesday, showing he will be a serious contender for the Albion Park features next month.
The Tritton-trained pair warmed up for the winter campaign in Queensland over the mile with what turned out to be a match race down the home straight.
Mach Beauty set a cracking pace out front before Suave Stuey Lombo reeled him in close to the finishing line to win by 2.9m in a time of one minute, 49.6 seconds.
It was just 1.1s off Smoken Up’s Australasian mile record and possibly the fastest time run at a midweek meeting in this country.
Last year Suave Stuey Lombo upstaged Mach Beauty to win the group2 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park, and the race will again be a target for the star pair when Tritton takes at least 10 pacers north next month.
■ Hunter trainers Shane Tritton, Michael Formosa and Aaron Garaty will race for group1 NSW Breeders Challenge finals places tomorrow night at Menangle.
Formosa has Miss Art Ranger (three-year-old fillies) and Ultimate Art (four-year-old colts and geldings) in semi-finals. Tritton has Mother Kym (three-year-old fillies) in semis, while Garaty will race The Puritan (three-year-old colts and geldings).
■ Teenage reinsman Jackson McDonald continued a proud family tradition last week when he broke through for his first winner.
McDonald drove Ablissfullgift, which is trained by his mother, Lisa McDonald, to win at Newcastle last Thursday.
Jackson is the grandson of Robyn and Neil Thompson and great grandson of Linda and Bill Reynolds, who were all prominent in Hunter harness racing.
The McDonalds will chase back-to-back wins with Ablissfullgift tonight at Newcastle in race eight.
■ Kearsley trainer Josh Carroll has been cleared to return to racing after Harness Racing NSW dropped its case against him regarding a positive swab for cobalt taken from Tiny Tinker at Newcastle in February.
Carroll had his licence suspended due to an A sample showing levels of cobalt above the allowed threshold.
However, the suspension was lifted and the case dropped on Wednesday after stewards heard evidence and received the B sample showing levels below the threshold.
The inquiry involving Sawyers Gully trainer-driver Rod Pike and a cobalt positive was adjourned on Wednesday.