San Carlo, the horse that was no good, isn’t doing too badly.
He lined up at Cranbourne last Saturday in his return to racing and proceeded to make it eight wins from nine starts — and again in effortless fashion.
And his near flawless record has Shepparton trainer Steve O’Donoghue still scratching his head.
Although a six-year-old, just why has a talented pacer like San Carlo been so lightly raced?
It’s a simple answer — he just wasn’t good enough to race up to his four-year-old season.
‘‘He was just no good early. He’d keep breaking and was a difficult horse to train, so I threw him out with broodmares and forgot about him for a long time,’’ O’Donoghue said.
O’Donoghue doesn’t know how far San Carlo will go but is somewhat stunned with his improvement as he has got older.
‘‘I never thought he’d even be this good. I’ll just keep picking suitable races because he still is a C6 class horse,’’ he said.
The only time San Carlo has been beaten in a race was his sixth to Hectorjayjay in a hot Group Two Breeders Crown Championship as a four-year-old.
San Carlo had been trialling well for his return and unleashed a 55.5 last half, which included a sizzling 26.8 third quarter, to leave his rivals standing in the home stretch.
It was a big night for O’Donoghue and reinswoman Bec Bartley at Cranbourne.
Bartley completed a driving double for the stable, also winning on the promising Herehecomes in a C2-C3 class race.
Herehecomes, resuming after a two-month break, settled three back on the pegs but in a master move Bartley was able to extricate him on the home turn and he rounded up his rivals down the home stretch with a powerful finishing burst.
An Art Major four-year-old, Herehecomes competed at the elite level in his age group as a younger horse.
‘‘He’s a lovely horse, the perfect racehorse really,’’ O’Donoghue said.
Herehecomes is putting together an impressive resume with seven wins and seven placings from 32 starts which have netted more than $73000 in prizemoney.
He is going around tomorrow night at Melton while San Carlo is likely to step out tonight week at Bendigo.
Team takes out two
The Newberry team at Bunbartha was also doing things on the double this week with dual success on Tuesday night at Bendigo.
The John Newberry-trained and Matt Newberry-driven Lombo Idle Belief and trotter Just Call Me Earl won their respective races.
Lombo Idle Belief claimed the honours and his fifth win in 34 starts in a C4-C5 class race with a front-of-the-field performance and a dogged finish in which he fought back to win after being headed in the home straight.
The Always A Virgin five-year-old’s 1:57.1 mile rate for the 2150m trip was a career best effort.
Just Call Me Earl prevailed in a T1 or better class trot.
It looked Just Call Me Earl’s race for the taking and the nine-year-old, courtesy of a good getaway from the 10m strand and a strong finishing burst along the sprint lane, delivered.
It was the 154th time Just Call Me Earl has faced the starter and although the mile rate was a leisurely 2:08.8 — which doesn’t win many trotting races these days — a 58.8 final put paid to his rivals.
Six-year-old Modern Art gelding Zermanion claimed a heat of the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship at Melton last Friday night for Merrigum trainer Brett Bunfield.
With three scratchings inside him after drawing outside the front row, Zermanion came into barrier four which his driver Gavin Lang fully capitalised on to take up the front running early.
Lang then dictated terms to outclass his rivals as Zermanion turned in a career best 1:54.1 mile rate for the 1720m trip.
This was only Zermanion’s third run in his current campaign with a first up win at Swan Hill followed by a third at Bendigo to Keep On Rocking leading into last Saturday night’s race.
Keep On Rocking started favourite in Zermanion’s heat on Saturday night, but was never a winning factor.
Zermanion has drawn favourably in barrier four for tomorrow night’s $30000 final at Melton.
The David Aiken-trained and Josh Aiken-driven Roll With It again showed he is a pacer going places and he completed a hat-trick of wins when successful at Friday night’s Melton meeting.
Once Roll With It rolled to the front early in the Platinum Country Series D final it was all over with punters who took the long odd-on never having any cause to be nervous.
Roll With It cruised home with more than 20m to spare over the runner-up Wemen Sporty and the John Hallam-trained Modern Lebron finishing third at big odds.
The four-year-old entire had won at Shepparton on October 27 and saluted again at his next outing at Cobram and now boasts six wins from his past eight starts.
In his latest win he posted a career best mile rate of 1:54.4 for the 1720m trip.
Muscles flexed in cup
In-form horses prevailed in the two main features at the Gunbower Cup meeting last Sunday.
The smart Andy Gath-trained mare K D Muscles made it two wins in three days when she outclassed her rivals in the $12000 Gunbower Trotters Cup.
K D Muscles won at Melton last Friday night, but took no harm from that run when she buttered up at Gunbower even though she was rehandicapped to 20m.
A quick getaway and move to the front two laps out when the pace was dawdling proved a winning move by Kate Gath on K D Muscles who had no trouble in holding off all challenges comfortably in the home straight to make it four wins from six starts this season
The Gaths also had the favourite, Star Of Dionysis, in the $14000 Gunbower Pacing Cup, but after leading he was one of the first horses beaten.
A patient Lance Justice drive on the Dianne Giles-trained Bad Boy Brad proved a winner with the pacer coming from second last at the bell and rounding up his rivals one by one.
The John Newberry-trained and driven Diamond Ace who was last a lap out also benefited from a quiet drive and finished well for third with the Isobel Walsh-trained Pepe Bromac running a bold race to finish second.
At the top of game
Finley-owned trotter Eljaykay Phoenix has had his share of problems but when he is on song, as he was on Monday night at Melton, he is a pretty smart customer.
So barring something unexpected and a clear run, he was always going to be tough to beat.
Punters agreed and he let no-one down.
Backed into a cramped $1.20 he was the anchor bet in quaddies for punters.
Driven by his regular reinsman Josh Aiken for his father David, the five-year-old son of Sundon never missed a beat in a runaway win in two-minute mile rate time.
The trotter had been missing from the winners’ list at his past 11 starts, but still boasts an impressive record of 15 wins, nine seconds and two thirds from 34 starts.
President put on hold
Shepparton Harness Racing Club’s new president won’t be elected until Monday night.
He was to be elected last Monday night but due to the unavailability of some board members the meeting was put forward to this coming Monday.
Club general manager Ian McDonald also reminded breeders this week the club is holding a yearling and mixed sale on March 26 with entries closing on December 20.
He’s just like pop
Anyone who had the pleasure of witnessing the great Maoris Idol in action may be remotely reminded of him by a trotter called Daquiri.
Not that Daquiri will ever be a Maoris Idol.
But there are some familiar traits with both trotters — and there should be.
Daquiri’s dam Zhari Bell is in fact by the great Maoris Idol.
Maoris Idol had a presence about him and so has Daquiri who won his third race from 12 starts when he saluted on Wednesday at Kilmore.
Last with 400m to go the David Jack-trained and driven Daquiri stormed home along the sprint lane to edge out Girls Go First by the narrowest of margins.
Like Maoris Idol, Daquiri races with a similar upstanding style and easy action and should go on and win more races.
District trainers enjoyed three wins at Kilmore.
Apart from Daquiri’s win, the John Hallam-trained and Maddie Ray-driven Indiana Angel produced the most dominant victory on the program, scoring by nearly 13m in a C1 Only class race.
Shepparton horsewoman Laura Crossland also continued her run of recent successes, winning on Heza Warhorse who also took a C1 Only class race in effortless fashion.
Today: Ballarat (n).
Tomorrow: Melton (n).
Sunday: Terang (d).
Monday: Melton (n).
Tuesday: Kilmore (n).
Wednesday: Shepparton (d), Mildura (n).
Thursday: Maryborough (d), Cranbourne (n).
- Gus Underwood