Day At The Track

Harness racing keeps pressing on

08:15 AM 06 Apr 2020 NZST
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HUGE RUN: Ace In Our Pocket (last horse) came from well back in the field to cause an upset in the first race at Sunday's Wagga harness meeting,Harness racing
HUGE RUN: Ace In Our Pocket (last horse) came from well back in the field to cause an upset in the first race at Sunday's Wagga harness meeting.
Les Smith photo

Leading reinsman Blake Jones says harness racing drivers and trainers are chasing prizemoney wherever they can as the coronavirus pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to the racing scene.

Wagga's Riverina Paceway held its third meeting in the space of six days on Sunday night, with Jones guiding $3.10 favourite Legends Last to an all-the-way win in the Southern Central Engineering Pace (1740m).

With Tasmania racing suspended for a few weeks, Jones said it's important to capitalise on chances in case NSW eventually follows suit.

"It's a bit weird when you go down the street and no one's there, but for racing it's pretty normal at the moment," he said.

"We're working the team and everything's going ahead, but you don't know when it's going to stop. We're just trying to make the most of it while we can.

"It was good this week that we had a fair few meetings, you just don't know when they'll shut us down.

"Tasmania's been shut down for a month and we don't know whether that will happen to us soon."

Legends Last finished second to Roll A Dream at Wagga's Tuesday meeting before going one better six days later.

"He's better suited when he can get to the front and the draw (from gate two) helped us get there," he said.

"We copped some pressure early but got a breather around the second quarter, and I knew after we got that he'd be pretty hard to run down."

Trevor Rutland's Ace In Our Pocket ($45.90) stormed home late from well back in the field to cause an upset in the TAB Odds and Evens Ladyship Pace (1740m).

The race was thrown wide open when raging favourite Uroc Skinny Jeans ($1.30) ended its chances by galloping before the start.

With plenty of speed on early in the opening race of the meeting, Rutland eased Ace In Our Pocket back in the field before coming over the top of the tiring leaders.

"When the favourite galloped I thought about taking a slightly closer position, but when the others out wide attacked I decided to sit back and go to the fence," he said.

"With horses like this you have to try for some luck.

"There was a lot of pace early and they burned up front which opened up the chance for her to come home."

It was Ace In Our Pocket's second win in her last three starts after also prevailing at Wagga in late February.

"I thought she might have been running up to her limit in races after winning that," Rutland said.

"The race suited tonight, she came off the pace and ran home. On these sort of horses you have to ride for luck."

Rutland only keeps a handful of horses in work these days as wife Judith battles cancer.

His grandson Reece is his right-hand man as he keeps involved in the industry "for a hobby".

"I've only got a couple of average horses these days, and my grandson comes and helps me every now and then," he said.

"We just race three or four for fun, to keep our finger in the pie."

By Jon Tuxworth

Reprinted with permission of The Daily Advertiser

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