Day At The Track

Im Sir Blake has eye on the cup

12:30 PM 13 Mar 2020 NZDT
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Im Sir Blake with co-trainer Leroy O’Brien and his fiancée Kristy,Harness racing
Im Sir Blake with co-trainer Leroy O’Brien and his fiancée Kristy
Stacey Lear photo

Crack Victorian pacer Im Sir Blake is primed to run the race of his life in the rich Group Two Ladbrokes Tasmania Harness Racing Cup this weekend.

Known around the stables as "whiskers", Im Sir Blake (Alta Christiano-Jupiters Darling (Dream Away) was super impressive in winning a qualifying heat in Hobart a fortnight ago and has since thrived in the Apple Isle.

"He hasn't been taken to a public trial. We've had him at the stables of Bianca Heenan and he's just done all his work there," co-trainer Danny O'Brien said.

"I can say that his fast work hit outs have been pleasing and he's all set to go. Our driver Christian Salter has been going over and driving him on hopple-up days," he said.

"We got to know Christian through a horse we previously trained in Soho Senna, who ended up in Tassie. Besides we decided to go for a local who knows the Hobart track and most of the other horses."

“Whiskers”, aka Im Sir Blake after his heat win in Tasmania – now for the final (Photograph Stacey Lear)

O'Brien, based at Armstrong near Ararat, prepares a small team of horses in partnership with his son Leroy.

"This is the first time we've campaigned in Tasmania. It's a $75,000 race so there's obviously some classy opposition, but with a clean getaway from the stand, we're hoping to be up near the leaders," O'Brien said.

"He was very good in his heat. They were running quick sectionals over the last half and our bloke was out three wide, but he stuck at it."

After winning at Ballarat in early December, "whiskers" finished 8th (beaten 5.6m) and 11th (beaten 21m) at Melton. The O'Brien boys decided to give their little speedster an easy time of it and a month later he bounced back into form with an all-the-way victory in the $20,000 Empire Stallions Pace at Melbourne headquarters.

"We obviously did the right thing because he's certainly clicked up at his past two," O'Brien said.

Danny and his wife Sharryn will fly over today to Tasmania to join Leroy, his fiancée Kristy and their 11-month-old son Tommy.

Another Victorian visitor in Its Back In The Day (Washington VC-Bragato (Ermis) looks a main danger along with local champion Ryley Major, while runners-up in the heats Goggo Gee Gee and The Announcer will have admirers.

Its Back In The Day is prepared at Mt Cottrell, near Melton, by one of Victoria's finest conditioners in John "Bulldog" Nicholson. The six-year-old, a winner of eight of his 15 lifetime starts, will be driven by the trainer's son, Rhys.

The pacer was handled a treat to win his qualifying heat, and when let down over the final stages, he burst clear of his rivals to score a runaway victory.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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