Sport

San-tastic thrill regardless

by
December 08, 2017

Shepparton trained San Carlo will race in Australasia's most prestigious harness race, the Inter Dominion final, in Perth tonight.

Regardless of the result of tonight’s $1.1million Inter Dominion final at Gloucester Park in Perth, Shepparton trainer Steve O’Donoghue will not be disappointed.

O’Donoghue’s attitude is having a runner, San Carlo, in the most prestigious harness race in Australasia is an honour to treasure no matter what happens.

In O’Donoghue’s thinking a top-five placing would be a bonus, an upset win a godsend.

But always the realist, O’Donoghue knew when barrier seven came out for San Carlo in the final he went from a genuine place chance to an outsider.

He is a $41 shot on the tote.

This is not because San Carlo is not good enough, but rather the luck of the draw.

San Carlo again proved conclusively he is not out of his depth in the elite company he mingles with tonight with a gusty final round heat win last Friday night, which followed a third placing in the second round of heats at Bunbury on Tuesday last week.

But with most of the main hopes in Tiger Tara (barrier one), Lazarus (three), Soho Tribeca (four) and the other Goulburn Valley hope Lennytheshark (six) all drawn inside him, San Carlo’s chances have become that much tougher again.

Nine times out of 10 O’Donoghue leaves the decision making in race tactics to his driver, Bec Bartley, and that will again be the case tonight.

‘‘Realistically from that draw we probably have to ease at the start, hope they go mad in front and we can get a crack at them at the finish,’’ he said.

Not too many things have fallen in favour of San Carlo for the most significant assignment of his relatively brief career, but there is one glimmer of hope that could bring him into calculations — the distance of the race.

At 2936m it will be a true staying test and San Carlo is a true stayer — just ask Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark, who tried to run him down and failed in the final round of heats over the same distance as tonight’s final.

The David Aiken-trained Lennytheshark, chasing his second Inter Dominion triumph after saluting in 2015, will also be in his element over the testing trip and where he settles in the run will be a key to his chances, but he is a champion and champions can never be discounted.

With Tiger Tara expected to lead from the poleline draw and other main hopes in Lazarus, Soho Tribeca, Lennytheshark and second rower Chicago Bull sure to be in the early action in the battle for positions, it will make for absorbing viewing.

The Inter Dominion final is scheduled for 11pm (AEDT).

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