Sport

Sulky Shorts with Gus Underwood

By Shepparton News

‘‘Perfect’’ is how Shepparton trainer Steve O’Donoghue summed up star pacer San Carlo’s barrier six draw in tomorrow night’s Group One $250,000 Victoria Cup.

‘‘I wouldn’t have cared if he had drawn the outside (barrier seven), but we are happy with that draw,’’ O’Donoghue said.

O’Donoghue said on Wednesday he had not discussed driving tactics with co-trainer and San Carlo’s driver Bec Bartley, but expected their first option would be to go forward and try to slot in somewhere in the running line not too far back.

‘‘But if that doesn’t happen we’ll have to go back. There is a lot of speed inside us and I don’t think we can lead, so hopefully we can in get in somewhere in the running line,’’ O’Donoghue said.

San Carlo is coming off a stunning Kilmore Cup win on September 26 at his previous start when returning to racing after a six-month break.

‘‘We gave him three days off after that win which, with his schedule, could be the biggest rest he’ll get for a long time and he has done well since that win,’’ O’Donoghue said.

But he said the Victoria Cup was a classy field where every runner had a chance of winning.

Buster Brady and Wrappers Delight are the other Goulburn Valley pacers contesting the prestigious race.

The Kima Frenning-trained Buster Brady has drawn barrier four and the David Aiken-prepared Wrappers Delight, to be driven by his son Josh, has drawn the outside of the front row.

Likely leader from barrier two, Sydney gun Cash N Flow, is likely to start favourite after a dashing win last week.

Locke it in

Reinsman Josh Aiken made a successful reunion with smart trotter Jimmy Locke at Bendigo on Tuesday night.

Aiken drove the pacer, trained by his father David, when he started his racing career and experienced success on the son Rock N Roll Heaven.

But on Tuesday night Josh was having his first drive on Jimmy Locke since May - 13 starts previously - and he certainly made the most of it.

With the Ben Yole-trained Somedan setting a breakneck pace over the 1650m trip, Aiken took the sit with Jimmy Locke and forged to the front straightening up.

Somedan battled on well for second, but it was the winner’s time that was the talking point after the race.

Jimmy Locke’s scorching mile rate of 1:52.3 was just 0.3 outside Konan's track record of 1.52.0 set in November 2017.

Jimmy Locke’s effort was even more meritorious because the cold night was not conducive to quick times.

Initiative pays off

Ardmona horsewoman Donna Castles produced arguably the drive of the night at Bendigo on Tuesday night, pinching a race on the smart trotter Fatouche.

Castles set Fatouche alight from near the rear of the field with a lap to go, wrestling the front running position, which proved the winning move.

It was the seven-year-old Yankee Spider mare’s eighth win from 62 starts.

Yole lot of success

The Yole training team is starting to make its mark on the Victorian trots scene.

Ben Yole has won the past four Tasmanian trainers premierships and decided a few weeks ago to test the waters in Victoria with some of his team.

He has entrusted his brother Tim to run the Victorian operation out of Paul and Rosie Weidenbach’s property at Wahring.

‘‘We have 16 horses currently in work in Victoria under Tim and we have won eight races, including a double at Cranbourne last Sunday,’’ Ben said this week.

Ben said the Victorian venture was more or less to test the waters to see if he will make a permanent Victorian training base in the future.

‘‘It’s at the experimental stage at the moment,’’ he said.

Ben is still training near Launceston and has a team of 40 horses in work.

Wilson double blow

Byrneside horseman Damian Wilson had a good night at Echuca last week with a long shot training double.

Wilson struck first with Caesars Falcon, a pacer he drove to win a 46-50 class race at the nice tote odds of 10-1.

He struck again two races later when concession reinsman James McPherson piloted the Winkn Nod, who paid a handsome $39.50, to victory in a 51-54 class event.

Wilson has had the well-travelled Caesars Falcon for only three starts and prior to joining his stable, the Falcon Seelster six-year-old had won just once in 41 trips to the races.

Smelling like Rose

Rochester horseman Mark Thompson did not take long to get four-year-old mare Ajay Breezy Rose into the winners circle.

Thompson lined up Ajay Breezy Rose for the first time in a 46-55 class race at Echuca and the McArdle mare duly saluted, beating the Mick McMahon-trained Lagom and the Donna Castles-trained and driven Tennaya.

Aja Breezy Rose had been beaten collectively by 215m at her only three career starts, but punters were well aware of her ability and she started a $3 favourite in the race.

Gunning for revenge

It took just one race for smart trotter Gunning to atone for a defeat at his previous start.

The Russell Jack-prepared Majestic Son five-year-old was flattened at his previous outing at Shepparton when well fancied in betting and finished a long last.

But at Echuca last week Gunning, given the run of the race by reinsman Zac Phillips, sprinted over the pacemaker Scottish Sardius and Antiope, to notch his fourth career win from 14 starts.

Had Wood on rivals

The Ken Covington-Gary Pekin team struck again with trotter Bacardi Wood at Echuca last week.

Coming off his second career win at Shepparton the previous week, the Covington-trained and Pekin-driven Bacardi Wood prevailed in a crowded finish, with a head to spare over the Russ Thomson-trained runner-up Prettylilangus, with the Michael Watt-trained Hettivale filling the minor placing a neck away.

Bacardi Wood’s mile rate for the 2160m trip was an impressive 2:03.5.

A six-year-old son of Bacardi Lindy, Bicardi Wood has been sparingly raced 15 times, which have produced three wins and one minor placing.

Good to be back

Moama trainer Tony Peacock is back doing what he does well – training winners.

Peacock, who was sidelined for more than a year after a horrific training mishap, was again in the winners circle at Echuca.

Peacock produced the Shannon O’Sullivan-driven mare Majadore to claim the honours in a 55-65 pacers race.

Peacock has had Majadore for only six starts for two wins and a minor placing after the Art Major mare had clocked up five wins from 27 outings when racing in NSW.

Russ Thomson had the runner-up in the race in Letsrockletsroll, with the Steve O’Donoghue-Bec Bartley team filling the minor placing with She Keeps Coming.

Brave after break

Talented pacer Shoshone Brave burst back onto the winners list at Echuca after three consecutive second placings.

The Isabel Walsh-trained and Kima Frenning-driven four-year-old Bettors Delight gelding had to overcome a break at barrier rise that relegated him to the tail, but still proved too classy for his rivals.

Pacemaker in the race, Top The Ace, made a bold bid to lead throughout and finished second, with the Craig Turnbull-trained and Abbey Turnbull-driven Spunkyola filling the minor placing after enjoying the run of the race.

Shoshone Brave had run seconds at two Shepparton meetings and also at Melton in tougher assignments going into the race and was a $1.50 favourite.

Shoshone Brave has won seven races and been placed six times in his 16 starts.

Frenning lands double

Shoshone Brave provided Kima Frenning with the first of a driving double at Echuca.

In the following race, she partnered former Tasmanian Miracle Marcus to win a 55-65 pacers race in another busy finish.

A five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding, Miracle Marcus got home by the shortest possible margin - a short half head - from the Neville Pangrazio-trained Return Soldier, with the favourite Millah Joy a close-up third.

Miracle Marcus, who rated a 1:56.8 PB in winning, was having his first start for the Aiken stable and had won at his previous start at Launceston on September 11 when prepared by Paul Ashford.

Miracle Marcus won eight races with 17 placings in 51 starts in the Apple Isle for Ashwood.

Mongiana too tough

Life Sign six-year-old Mongiana put up a tough run to score in a 66-81 class race at Echuca.

Co-trainer Bec Bartley had to bustle Mongiana in the early stages to take up the front running, but he proved up to the challenge to account for roughie Duke Jujon and Manassa Sky.

It was the gelding’s seventh career win from 23 starts, which have also produced nine minor placings.

Happy hunting ground

Four-year-old Bettors Delight gelding Revolt is making a strong bid to win the Shepparton Harness Racing Club’s 2019-2020 Horse of the Year award.

The Isabel Walsh-trained and Kima Frenning-driven pacer won his fourth successive race at the track on Wednesday night.

And as he did in his previous three triumphs, he led all the way in beating stablemate Shoshone Brave.

In an extra bonus, Revolt rated a 1:55.6 PB mile rate for the 1690m trip.

It was not a big night for Goulburn Valley trainers at the meeting and apart from Isabel Walsh, only two other winners on the 10-event card are trained in the area.

Veteran Avenel trainer Col Duncan notched another win with the Chris Alford-driven Dearest and Kyabram mentor Mark Watson scored a well deserved win with Prosecco Boy.

Jess Tubbs took the training honours, winning with Millah Joy and trotter Doug, who her star reinsman husband Greg Sugars drove.

Coming up

Today: Mildura (n).

Tomorrow: Melton (t).

Sunday: Stawell (d).

Monday: Yarra Valley (d).

Tuesday: Bendigo (n).

Wednesday: Shepparton (n).

Thursday: Kilmore (n).

Friday: Geelong (n).