Team Lang are expected to set at least one horse for the inaugural Victorian Monte Championship.
The recent renaissance of saddle trotting appears likely to continue with the inaugural Victorian Monte Championship set to start on November 3 at Bendigo.
A handful of Monte races were staged last season and drew enormous interest from crowds at the Ballarat Cup, Breed For Speed and Redwood Classic meetings throughout the term.
The poster pair for those events was Daylesford driver Anne-Maree Conroy and eight-year-old gelding Optimum who won three of their four Monte starts last season.
They will return for this series which will encompass seven $5,000 heats and and an $8,000 final on March 23 at Melton.
“We’d hoped we’d have even more than one horse to target the series but it’s difficult to find a trotter suited to it; they’re either naturals or they’re not,” Conroy said.
“Having said that if any trainer out there found the right sort of horse you’d only need a couple of weeks to get them ready.
“Thankfully Optimum is that right type. He’s had four starts in the Montes for three wins and a second. He’ll be off 10m but hopefully we’ll contest most of the heats with him moving forward.”
Those participants wanting to join Conroy in contesting the Victorian Monte Championship must be a licensed A, B or C Grade reinsperson or Stablehand licensee with a ridden race endorsement.
All squaregaiters will be handicapped in accordance with their assessment, with T0 to T3 trotters drawn off the front, T4 to T9 horses off 10m and T10 or better off 20m.
Combatants will be penalised an additional 10m handicap for each two career penalty Monte wins and the winner of a heat will only be eligible to contest another heat if there are insufficient acceptors to comprise a full field for that heat.
Heats of the Victorian Monte Championship will be staged on the following dates and at their corresponding location.
· November 3 – Bendigo (1650m)
· December 24 – Maryborough (1690m)
· January 10 – Kilmore (1660m)
· January 25 – Ballarat (1710m)
· February 8 – Stawell @ Tabcorp Park Melton (1720m)
· February 23 – Geelong (1609m)
· March 16 – Shepparton (1690m)
The $8,000 Championship final will be contested on the same programme as the inaugural Great Southern Star at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.