Day At The Track

Star signals new era

10:00 PM 05 Apr 2020 NZST
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Star Of Memphis,Harness racing
Star Of Memphis
Stuart McCormick photo

The script may have been thrown out at Tabcorp Park Melton but a new one was written and it may be a window into things to come in the trots.

Andy Gath’s (Long Forrest) Star Of Memphis and Fred Taiba’s (Sunbury) Our Road To Mecca both enhanced their reputations in the night’s headline races, cutting through the chill and wet to produce wins at big odds.

They came as a new landscape swept across harness racing in Victoria amid attempts to contain covid-19. The industry transitioned to regional racing from last Thursday, dividing the state into six parts to restrict trainers and drivers to their regions of residence and limit the need for travel.

Saturday marked the second Inner West meeting and the first at Melton under the new structure, and trots fans were greeted to an unusual night’s racing in which front runners were often mown down.

That was the case in the TAB Multiplier Pace, when the top three in betting markets Forty Thieves, Born To Rocknroll and Fake Smile were at the front of affairs at the bell only to have the backmarkers sweep past in the final stages.

Best of those was reinswoman Kate Gath and Star Of Memphis, the $18 chance who pipped second-placed War Dan by a head.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Kate Gath said of Star Of Memphis. “He’s had a fair few injuries throughout his career. He’s been in work a while, he just needed a run or two to hit his fitness.

“He’s still not at his peak fitness. He’s such a nice horse that he’s still able to get the job done and his improvement from last week to this week is tenfold.”

The Gath stable is hopeful of regular racing after a “little bump on his tendon”, “a little hairline fracture of his pastern” and “another little something in between” have restricted the six-year-old’s previous campaigns.

“He’s always has had that little bit of x-factor about him,” Gath said. “We’ve never been able to see if it’s really there because he’s always injured or something tends to go wrong.

“His best is pretty brilliant and he’s certainly a horse I would have thought early on definitely could have made it to our fast free-for-all horses.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, he can stay sound, we can get a bit more work into him and with a couple of runs under his belt he’s just getting better and better all the time. It’s looking good going forward.”

The future is also bright for Our Road To Mecca, who produced one of the few successful front-running wins of the night for trainer Fred Taiba and reinsman Ryan Duffy.

The latter backed up his three wins at Melton last week with another double on Saturday night, capped with a super steer on Our Road To Mecca when he set off three-wide mid-race to apply pressure to the favourite, leader Two Times Bettor.

While Duffy failed in a brief bid to pinch the front, the resultant pressure on the first-up leader took its toll and come the final 200 metres Two Times Bettor was running on empty and Our Road To Mecca swept clear for a 10-metre win.

“She was really good to her credit tonight,” Duffy said. “With Two Times Bettor being first up, (trainer Freddy Taiba) was confident if we could make it work and make it into a staying race he thought his horse was pretty strong.

“She showed really good acceleration, so when I got three quarters (in front) I thought I may as well have a bit of a play here (for the lead). It probably worked out a good move in the end because it made it a lot harder run for Two Times Bettor.”

Throughout the night it was rough going for favourite backers, with Richie Caruana's Off The Radar ($21), Amana Grieve's Kotare York ($15) and Jodi Quinlan's Error ($9) winning the first three races, before favourite Majestic Cruiser ($1.10) narrowly broke the succession for trainer Geoff Webster to lead and win the fourth. The Early Quaddie paid $3295.30.

There also weren't many sharing in the Quaddie, which paid $6715 after Star Of Memphis and Our Road To Mecca knocked out many, with Emma Stewart's Somewhere Secret ($3.70) and Andy Gath's Moonlight Dream ($5.50) providing the bookends.  

Racing continues in the Inner West with meeting Tabcorp Park at Melton on Thursday and Saturday, which can be enjoyed live and free via Trots Vision at thetrots.com.au.

 

HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

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