Change of luck with pair

April 21, 2017

Harness Racing. Photo for Gus Underwood's column. Peter Hornsby and his horse Nica Macdonan, who won a Group Two race at Melton on Friday night.

It has been a challenging journey, but Tatura trainer David Abrahams is hoping he is winning the battle with talented trotters Guiltless and Fabrication.

Having his third start after being off the racing scene since April 2015, Guiltless, a former well-credentialed juvenile performer, claimed the VSTA Trotters Cup at Echuca last Sunday night.

Guiltless returned to racing on March 23 when he ran third at Maryborough and at his next race on April 1 he finished second at Echuca to a trotter called Crown Dream.

That turned out to be good form to recommend Guiltless for his Echuca mission as Crown Dream won the Ararat Trotters Cup the previous night, his fifth successive win.

Punters were obviously aware of these facts and with Nathan Jack doing the driving, Guiltless was sent out a $2.10 favourite and won like the good thing he looked, cruising home nearly 14m clear of the runner-up Aldebaran Midnite, with Just Call Me Earl filling the minor placing.

Guiltless has had just 28 career starts for six wins and 13 placings and is sure to improve on this record if he stays sound.

Fabrication, another of the Abrahams team, which has also been dogged by injury and is on the comeback trail, ran a huge race at Melton last Thursday night, finishing third to classy performers Fiery Mountain Girl and Big Jack Hammer.

He is top class when he is at the top of his game, so let’s hope he remains sound enough to fulfil his potential.

Fabrication and Guiltless are engaged at Melton tomorrow night.

Travelling pretty well

The Scott Stewart-trained Travelnpastyou completed the heat-final double of a C1 only promotion when he stormed home at Echuca last Thursday night.

The four-year-old Blissfull Hall gelding had won his heat impressively at the recent Kyabram meeting at Shepparton and franked that form in his Echuca win.

Congupna trainer-driver Stewart had to bring the pacer five-wide in the home straight to get into clear running, but Travelnpastyou was up to the challenge in the crowded finish, beating the favourite Im The Boss and the Doc Wilson-trained and driven Eliska.

Travelnpastyou was having just his ninth start, for four wins, but Stewart is still making up his mind how far the pacer may go.

‘‘He’s got the ability, but not the brain yet, but hopefully that will come,’’ a typically honest Stewart said.

Took 17 starts to fire

It took 17 starts to break through, but Bensonfire got his deserved debut win for Invergordon trainer-driver Stuart Govers at Echuca last Sunday night.

The four-year-old son of Courage Under Fire had racked up six seconds and three thirds, but a win had eluded him until he stepped out at Echuca.

But it was his time and he made the most of it, beating the Juanita Breen-trained and driven Castor Oil and the odds-on favourite and Amanda Turnbull-trained debutant Rocknroll Noah.

Bensonfire put up a slick mile rate of 1:58.4, coming home his last half in 57.9, for the 1755m trip.

While Bensonfire had not won a race, a second at his previous start to the impressive Steve O’Donoghue-trained Glenferrie Bazaar at Shepparton on April 9 put the writing on the wall for a maiden win and punters were on the ball, backing him into a $2.90 second favourite.

Far too good for them

Well-named Elmore pacer Gone Too Far notched her second win in her past three starts when she prevailed in the Fillies Showcase for three-year-old fillies at Echuca on Sunday night.

By the Western Ideal stallion Big Jim USA out of the Art Major mare Cross The Line, the Keith Cotchin-trained and Anthony Butt-driven Gone Too Far upstaged more fancied runners in the 1755m event, beating Erico and the favourite Elizah Dushku.

Punters generally neglected Gone Too Far, who was a $13 chance on the tote, despite winning in good time at Shepparton two starts earlier on March 27.

Rockstar lights up stage

While Amanda Turnbull had two beaten short priced favourites at Echuca last Sunday night, the promising Parisian Rockstar did not let the Turnbull-Jack team down.

Parisian Rockstar was shooting for his fourth straight win and, with Nathan Jack in the sulky, achieved this honour in dashing style against the older pacers in a C1 only class race over the 1755m trip.

Jack sent Parisian Rockstar to the front a lap out and the three-year-old ran his younger rivals ragged over the final lap, with more than 8m to spare on the finishing line in front of second favourite Madam Meellande, with the Shane Gilligan-trained and driven Radical Art filling the minor placing.

His mile rate of 1:56.6 was the quickest on the 10-event card.

Out of the former smart Life Sign mare, Left In Paris, a winner of 12 races, Parisian Rockstar had won at Boort, Melton and Charlton in her previous three starts before stepping out at a $2 favourite at Echuca.

Impressive winning Return

Thirteen certainly was not an unlucky number when talented Rochester trained pacer Return Soldier made a successful return to racing, claiming the honours in a CO-C1 class race at Echuca.

The Neville Pangrazio-trained and driven Bettors Delight four-year-old was making his first appearance since July last year and was too good for his rivals.

Return Soldier has always shown above-average ability with three wins and three placings from 12 starts prior to stepping out at Echuca, where he started the even money favourite.

Eyre career best success

They just keep coming — another winner off the Kyabram Harness Racing Club complex last week with Glen Eyre saluting at Kilmore.

Trained by Gary Payne and driven by Anthony Butt, Glen Eyre sat parked in the death seat for the 1690m trip and ran away from his rivals in the home stretch to beat the favourite Royal Deviate by more than 13m, setting a personal best mile rate of 1:56.3 in the process.

The former Tasmanian pacer was having just his 13th race start — his ninth under Payne’s guidance — and has won four races with five minor placings.

By the Christian Cullen stallion Ohoka Arizona, Glen Eyre had run third at his previous starts, including his heat, but was mainly neglected by punters, paying more than $13 for the win.

Avenel trainer Wayne Potter and reinsman Nathan Jack also were in the winners stall at Kilmore, winning with Courage Under Fire four-year-old Warfare.

Jack used Warfare’s barrier two draw to lead throughout in his 1609m dash.

Warfare is starting to build a serious resume with his 30 starts producing 10 wins and eight placings and more than $49000 in prize money earnings.

Clean start crucial

A flying getaway from the strands paved the way for a win for the Mark Lee-Stacey Towers team with smart trotting mare Nica Macdonon at Maryborough last week.

Towers speared the six-year-old mare to the front early from a 10m handicap and she then defied all efforts to be run down by the hot favourite Sundons Courage, with the Rob Shellie-trained Black Valley making a good return to racing to finish third.

Nica Macdonon was a smart mare through junior age groups when prepared by her breeder and owner Peter Hornsby, before entrusting Mark Lee with the training of the mare when he scaled down his training operations last year.

Lee has won four races with the mare, who has chalked up nine career wins and 14 placings from 54 career starts.

Pitt perfect for mare

Avenel horseman Mark Pitt maintained his perfect driving record on four-year-old pacing mare Somerocksomeroll at Maryborough last week.

Pitt has driven the son of Somebeachsomewhere five times in his eight-race career for five wins.

While her mile rate of 1:58.5 was not blistering by today’s standards, a scorching 55.3 last half left Somerocksomeroll’s rivals with windburn in another impressive performance.

Bazaar on the road again

Shepparton pacer Glenferrie Bazaar will contest a C0-C1 final at West Wyalong after a heat win on the track last weekend.

The win followed Glenferrie Bazaar’s win the previous week at Shepparton when the five-year-old saluted in his first since April 2014.

Driven by top Riverina reinsman Blake Jones, Glenferrie Bazaar sat parked for the final two laps, but was still a bit too strong for his rivals in the C0-C1 only for four-year-olds and older class pacers.

Glenferrie Bazaar has drawn barrier three in the $9000 final at Sunday’s West Wyalong Cup meeting.

Gunbower meeting moved

The Gunbower Harness Racing Club’s meeting to be run on Sunday at Gunbower has been transferred to Echuca.

The move was made after the Campaspe Shire Council slapped a weight limit on the bridge leading into Gunbower Island where the track is situated.

This would rule out any trucks getting to the track, so the decision was made to transfer the meeting to the Frank Ryan Paceway.

Chasing city features

Some district horses will be chasing some feature events this weekend with Avenel trainer David Aiken in the spotlight with runners at Melton and Menangle tomorrow night.

Aiken has Rockstar Angel contesting the $40000 Platinum Mares Sprint Championship at Melton and will have two starters in the Australian Gold semi-finals at Menangle.

To be driven by Michael Belllman, Rockstar Angel has to contend with an extreme outside (barrier 11) draw and a host of in-form mares, so will need her share of luck to finish among the placings.

Avenel reinsman Mark Pitt will be driving one of the more fancied runners Somerocksomeroll in this event and he will be trying to make it six wins from six drives on the four-year-old.

Jimmy Locke has drawn barrier seven in his semi-final of the Australian Pacing Gold and Higherthaneagle has come up with a poleline draw in his semi-final.

Beltane is another Aiken runner at Melton tomorrow night, contesting the $20000 Shakamaker Classic from barrier one with top reinsman Chris Alford to take the drive.

Aiken also has veteran mare Vics Cheval contesting the $20000 Uncle Petrika Group Three Trotters Free-For-All in which Kyabram mare Claudys Princess is also engaged.

Another race at Melton that has a lot of district interest is the VSTA Trotters Cup final in which heat winners, Guiltless and Nica Macdonon, are engaged along with the Kyabram-trained Black Valley.

And tonight at Kilmore the Steve O’Donoghue-trained speedster San Carlo resumes and will be chasing his fifth successive win and his 10th win from 11 starts when he steps out in a C5 or better class race, where has a testing draw from outside the front row.

Coming up

Today: Horsham (d), Kilmore (n).

Tomorrow: Melton (n).

Sunday: Gunbower at Echuca (n).

Monday: Yarra Valley (d).

Tuesday: Swan Hill (n).

Wednesday: Melton (d), Bendigo (n).

Thursday: Maryborough (d), Ballarat (n).

- Gus Underwood

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