Day At The Track
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Twenty-six-year-old Rebecca Bartley is the youngest harness racing driver in the $1.1 million TABtouch Inter Dominion championship final at Gloucester Park on Friday night and she will be handling San Carlo, the least-experienced runner in the Group 1 feature over 2936m. San Carlo gave a powerful frontrunning display to win a 2536m qualifying heat last Friday night and Bartley is confident the Victorian-bred seven-year-old by Mach Three will be strongly competitive in the biggest test of his short career. San Carlo was considered almost a hopeless case as a young pacer and he did not race as a two and three-year-old before making his debut as a late four-year-old with an easy victory in a $3000 R0 event in Bendigo in June 2015. He has blossomed since then for Steve O’Donoghue, a trainer from Kialla in the Goulburn Valley, and he goes into this week’s final with an impressive record of 21 wins and three placings from just 27 starts, all of which has seen Bartley in the sulky. His winning record of 78 per cent is bettered by only one of the other nine finalists --- the champion New Zealander Lararus, who has an 82 per cent winning record. Bartley and O’Donoghue never lost faith in San Carlo despite his wayward behaviour as a young horse. “He was really immature as a youngster and we couldn’t work him out,” said Bartley. “He kept galloping in his trials, at the start and in running. Finally, we just chucked him out with the broodmares. We didn’t really think much of him. “He came back into training as a four-year-old and his work became better. He’s pretty quiet, but is still a bit of a funny horse and every now and then has a brain fade. He’s probably more like a thoroughbred than a standardbred. “Small tracks are still a bit of an issue, getting him around the bends. But he was a lot better last Friday and he hit the line really well. The distance of the final will really suit him.” Bartley was born and bred into harness racing. Her father David used to train a small team and her parents encouraged her through pony trot ranks until she gained her A grade licence to drive at 18. She has driven 298 winners and will become only the second female to drive in an Inter Dominion championship final at Gloucester Park. The previous female to drive in an Inters final in Perth was Kellie Kersley, who drove Norms Daughter into fifth place behind the winner Young Mister Charles in 1996. O’Donoghue is thrilled to have a runner in the final, saying: “We’re stoked. We were excited to be just part of the series. San Carlo was at No. 43 in the early rankings and when he got to 30 to gain a start we weren’t thinking about making the final. It’s just a bonus.” Ken Casellas

Shepparton’s rising superstar pacer San Carlo has never failed to rise to the occasion throughout his harness racing career and he faces another giant step-up tomorrow night when he tackles the $200000 Victoria Cup at Melton. The seven-year-old son of Mach Three has come up with barrier seven — the extreme outside of the front row — in the 2240m Group One event. San Carlo’s trainer Steve O’Donoghue admits the horror draw is going to make San Carlo’s chances of landing his biggest win that much tougher. O’Donoghue said he was happy to be in the race, but conceded the barrier had made winning an unlikely prospect. ‘‘It’s like an under-18 footballer going up into the senior side for the first time; it’s going to be really tough. I’ll be happy to beat one home for a start,’’ O’Donoghue said. ‘‘You would like any of the horses in that field, wouldn’t you?’’ While Lennytheshark is favourite to win the feature, fireworks are expected at the start with the trainers of Major Crocker and NSW visitors Code Black (barrier three) and Tiger Tara (barrier five) declaring they won’t be taking any prisoners early. Lennytheshark’s reinsman Chris Alford has declared he “couldn’t be happier” with Lenny’s barrier one draw. Rivals are Shark bait He might be eight years of age now but you wouldn’t have thought it as Lennytheshark made a stunning return to racing at Melton last Friday night. The David Aiken-trained warrior humbled some smart pacers in winning the $50000 Smoken Up Sprint over the 1720m trip in his first race since finishing fourth to his illustrious stablemate Hectorjayjay in the Blacks A Fake feature at Albion Park in July. Driven by Chris Alford, Lenny did it at both ends, spearing from barrier seven across the face of the field at the start to take up the pacemaking role and then audaciously pulling away from his rivals in the dash home in a blistering 1:51.9 mile rate. He had more than 8m to spare over runner-up My Field Marshall at the finish, with Tee Cee Bee Macray a whisker away third. Lenny is Inter Dominion-bound to defend his crown in December, but he has another huge challenge tomorrow night when he tackles the $200000 Victoria Cup at Melton. He has drawn barrier one and it would take a brave person to say he couldn’t win it given what he did last Friday night. It’s McCool for Junior Wahring horseman Kevin Weidenbach Jr is certainly getting results with Lucy McCool. In only six starts for Weidenbach Lucy McCool has won two races and been placed second once. The six-year-old Miles McCool mare notched her latest win in a C1 Only event last week at Yarra Valley after a perfect Weidenbach drive. Lucy McCool is from the former smart Caprock racemare Play The Dice and her latest win, the third of her 29 starts, produced a PB mile rate of 1:58.6. From pillar to post Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson made full use of pacer Cobie Hall’s draw to win on debut last week at Echuca. Trained and driven by Wilson, the four-year-old son of Blissfull Hall came from barrier three to take over the early front running and led throughout over the 2160m trip for a comfortable win over NSW visitor Kamwood Izzy, with the locally-trained Our Dandy filling the minor placing. Cobie Hall is the first foal of the unraced Safely Kept mare Annie Angel to race and peeled off some slick final sectionals and a respectable mile rate of 1:59.2 to suggest there could me more wins in store. The Nod of approval Echuca trots stalwarts Norm and Joan Visca enjoyed a win on their home track last week with consistent performer Winkn Nod. Trained and driven by legendary Bendigo horseman Brian Gath for the Viscas, Winkn Nod was another pacer to utilise his barrier two draw and was another pillar-to-post winner at the meeting in a C1 Only class race. Pulling out a 28.7 final split, Winkn Nod proved too good for Oldseadog and the Brent Thomson-trained Arty Guy with a winning margin of 4m and a short half-head separating the minor placegetters. Winkn Nod, a six-year-old gelding by Grinfromeartoear, deserved the win as he ran second at his previous two starts at Shepparton and Echuca. It was his third win with seven placings from 23 starts. Winning scent to Rose A mid-race move by reinsman Daniel Rose proved a winner for smart Kyabram-trained pacer Scout Hall Road at Echuca. Rose took the six-year-old Village Jasper gelding around the field from last to the front at the 1100m and staved off challengers from top two chances Sir Briggen and A Special Dream in the run to the finishing line in the 2160m event. Despite an encouraging third to the smart Scotlyn Jack at his previous start at Shepparton on September 29, Scout Hall Road was a 16-1 shot on the tote. Trained by Rose’s father Bruce, Scout Hall Road has been a consistent performer for connections with 10 wins and 19 placings from his 70 starts. A Special Dream’s third placing in the race continued a string of top-three finishes for the Steve Duffy-trained and Ryan Duffy-driven seven-year-old son of Live Or Die. The pacer has not missed a top-three placing in his past 11 starts, which include three wins with four seconds and four thirds. Ellen’s skills on show The Shepparton-based Bartley sisters — Bec and Lisa — have been enjoying their share of success of late in the sulky and it was another sister’s turn to show her wares in Victoria last week. Coleambally (Riverina)-based trainer Ellen Bartley produced Begoodorbegoodatit for a win in restricted class at Echuca. Driven by leading Riverina reinsman Blake Jones and an odds-on chance, Begoodorbegoodatit went straight to the front from barrier two over the 1750m trip and had no worries holding off main challengers Megiddo and the Kyabram-trained Beyond A Shadow. Begoodorbegoodatit was coming off a second at her previous start at Shepparton on September 21 in fast time in a race won by Our Lady Madonna, so punters took note of that formline in supporting her into an odds-on chance. Begoodorbegoodatit is only the third foal of the Art Major mare Lose The Blues to race and the only winner so far with her 19 starts producing three wins and five placings. Sweet for Candyman Top reinsman Greg Sugars was the star at Echuca with a driving treble. Two of the winners, Fong Nien and Mar Nien, were for his trainer-father Ross, while the Allan McDonough-trained Bright Shadow was middle pin of the trifecta. Fong Nien is a half-sister of four winners from the winning Miles McCool mare Jane McCool, including the multiple winner Smooth Grin. Mar Nien is a five-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Armbro Operative mare Champagnesheffield, who was a winner of five races and has left two other winners. As swift as a Hare The Josh Aiken-trained and driven Audi Hare kept his perfect Australian record intact with another dominant win last Friday night at Melton. Joining the Aiken stable after 20 starts for two wins in New Zealand, the five-year-old gelded son of Mach Three had scored at Bendigo on his Australian debut on September 16 and followed up that win with another success at Shepparton on September 29. He completed the hat-trick with his Melton win in which he accounted for the Laura Crossland-trained and driven Charming Major and Time Keepa Lombo in 1:56.2 mile rate time for the 1720m. Aiken summed up the race perfectly when the pace slackened a lap out, working Audi Hare around the field to the front and from then on was never going to be beaten. Duke rules at Hill Four-year-old gelding Manbar Duke made a winning return to the racetrack in a family finish in a C0 Only class race at Swan Hill on Tuesday night. Trained by Kyabram horseman Brent Thomson and driven by Nathan Jack, Manbar Duke led throughout to beat Letsrockletsroll, trained by Thomson’s father Russell and driven by Craig Turnbull. Manbar Duke was a $2.10 favourite while Letsrockletsroll was a $5.30 chance. Taken straight to the front by Jack from barrier three, Manbar Duke ran his rivals ragged, particularly over the concluding stages with splits 28.7 and 27.4 for a last half in 56.1. Letsrockletsroll’s effort to come from last at the bell and get within 4m of the winner was also noteworthy given the third horse home and second favourite Tillys Desire was more than 20m astern. Manbar Duke was having his first start since March and was coming off successive wins at Yarra Vallley and Cobram. A son of Santa Blue Chip, Manbar Duke has had just the seven starts for three wins and three seconds. His dam Korobeit Princess, who is by little known sire Armbro Kojak, was a four-times winner and was out of the good racemare Korobeit Angel, a daughter of Denver Gift, who was bred by veteran Kyabram horseman Darky Meloury. Colbinabbin horseman Graham McDermott was also a winner at Swan Hill, scoring in a T0 or better trotters race with Justtentrumps who notched his fourth win from 19 starts. Building future The new trots track at Wagga is under way with the first sod turned at the new site last week. NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole was alongside Harness Racing NSW chairman Chris Edwards and his fellow board members for the significant milestone. “The journey has been a lengthy one from when we first called for expressions of interest in a Riverina Super Centre back in 2006,” Edwards said. “But now that we are finally at this stage, it is pleasing to know that in a year’s time we will have completed a strategy to install 1000m tracks in all the region’s Hunter, Western and Southern districts. “What is really positive for Wagga is that what we have learned from the other projects has been enhanced, corrected or improved with this last instalment.” The long-awaited project will have a 1070m track constructed with a width of 20m to accommodate 10 horses starting off the front row, if required. There will be a camber of 10° on the 110m radius turns to assist with equine welfare, driver safety and to enhance the speed performance of the horses, as well as a sprint lane to provide all horses a competitive opportunity. Alongside the track, public facilities similar to those at Bathurst will be constructed as well as race stalls that can accommodate 140 horses, including a designated area for mini trot participants. Harness Racing NSW’s long-term vision for the property is to also include a training centre. Coming up Today: Kilmore (n). Tomorrow: Melton (n). Sunday: Stawell (d). Monday: Warragul (d). Tuesday: Shepparton (n). Wednesday: Geelong (n). Thursday: Bendigo (n). The Shepparton News Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

Boom pacer San Carlo is on trial for the Queensland harness racing winter carnival. The outstanding Victorian gelding, fresh from his success last weekend at Bendigo, is being considered for the final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season – the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake on July 15. It’s the biggest event staged in Queensland, the 2680m mobile start feature takes place at Albion Park. And co-trainers Steve O’Donoghue and Rebecca Bartley are very interested in dipping their toe in the water with their rising star. A winner of 14 races from 16 starts, the Mach Three six-year-old gelding made a massive statement when he demoralised his rivals last Saturday night at Lords Paceway after sitting wide throughout before racing clear over the concluding stages. San Carlo scored easily by 5m while rating 1:55.4 for the 2150m. “That was a big step forward into making Brisbane a reality, he performed in such a great manner and Steve thinks the Blacks A Fake is a good target for him but he’s got to prove himself once more before any decision is made.” Bartley said. And that next assignment comes up next Thursday (June 22). San Carlo will start in the Leo Crameri at Maryborough, a race that has historically produced plenty of high quality performers. The event will be staged over 2190m. “That’s his next target and it’s likely he will meet plenty of classy rivals but it will also tell us if Brisbane is one or off. A victory will go a long way in making the northern trip a reality, Brisbane will be tough but it looks a good opportunity for him. “I don’t think he shocked us in anyway last week because we’ve known for some time how good he really is but to do it in the manner in which he did was the best part. He was really strong. “And that’s his best asset; he’s a very strong horse.” O’Donoghue, the boss of Morley Park (of Classic Garry fame), believes San Carlo is the best horse he has worked with and rates him higher than Barclay Court (23 wins – $99k) and Triple Vance (20 wins - $182k). San Carlo is raced by John Eichhorn. Chris Barsby

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