The Vet's 55 km Christmas Handicap 2017 sponsored by Perrow Paints turned out to be a ripper.
A big field spread over a huge 42 minutes took off in beautiful conditions this morning, with just a light breeze and not too much heat setting up a very quick race. The three off limit worked magnificently to hang on to a five minute lead with just 12 kilometers to go, while behind them the seven minute bunch had rounded up the 11s before Laanecoorie and the 15s through the esses. This big bunch driven by Ricky Lovell, Ian Stringer and Brett Williams and some willing workers from the 11s held a 1 1/2 minute lead over second scratch with a further minute back to scratch as they turned on to Woodstock Road. They gathered up second limit with five kilometers to go, and although running down the three limit markers looked like a hopeless task they kept at it and had them in their sights coming over the last hill. Daniel Johnson (42 min), returning after a long lay-off, sensed the danger and took off from his bunch to beat the pack home by just a few seconds with Ian Stringer (7 min) sprinting for second ahead of Ricky Lovell (7 min) and Terry Schintler (11 min). Steven Bright (42 min) hung on gallantly to run 5th in front of Andrew Berry (7 min) Gino Abbisogni (11 min), Shane Delavedova (11 min), John Weir (7 min) and Pam Robertson (11 min). Hudson Crothers led scratch home two minutes later to record fastest time of 1 hr 18 min 44 sec at 42.2 km/hr. After president Ricky Mitchell thanked the hard working club officials, Brett Williams announced the winners of the JT Aggregate trophies sponsored by club legends Jean Trickey and Jack Trickey. Pam Robertson took out the women's and Ricky Lovell the men's, both deserving winners. The Harry's Handicap trophy for Most Improved went to Andrew Berry. After Wednesday evening's crit at the Brickworks, the club takes a break for a few weeks. Keep an eye on the website, and don't forget to register for 2018.