Sulky Shorts: Fire, grace and great success
There were shades of her famous mother in Tallygaroopna-trained trotter Firengrace’s milestone win at Monday’s Yarra Glen trots meeting.
Firengrace is a daughter of the former brilliant trotter Zesta, the best trotting filly of her time in the early 2000s, who was owned and trained by Tongala pig farmer Peter Hornsby.
The win was all the more special as it marked the 100th win as a driver for Stacey Towers, a mother of two and wife of Firengrace’s trainer Mark Lee.
Among Zesta’s wins were a stellar three-year-old season when she won the Victoria Oaks, the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown. Her brief racing career produced 13 wins from just 17 starts, her last 12 wins in succession.
Zesta has had seven foals to race and all have been winners with Oceania, who won 13 races, the most successful so far.
Form followers wouldn’t have needed much urging to support one of her daughters, Firengrace, at Monday’s Yarra Valley meeting.
The four-year-old daughter of Majestic Son had caught the eye at her previous start in stronger company at the Shepparton meeting on July 21 when she finished fifth to the Group One winner Sheza Pleasure.
Firengrace was beaten 16 metres in that run but had gone off stride early and at one stage was giving the pacesetter Sheza Pleasure nearly 50 metres start. So to get so close was an eye-catching performance by a trotter having just her sixth start.
Driven a quiet race at Yarra Valley by Stacey Towers, Firengrace again gave her rivals a big start after settling at the back of the field. But she got a three-wide tow-up into the race on the back of the Echuca-trained Watch And Act and finished strongly to record her second win in just seven race starts.
David Aiken has been battling health problems but the master trainer received another welcome tonic at last week’s Kilmore meeting .
The respected Avenel horseman produced talented trotting mare Sheza Pleasure for another all-the-way win with his son Josh in the sulky.
The four-year-old daughter of Bicardi Lindy had won at her previous start at Shepparton when having her fourth start for Aiken and has now saluted three times from five starts since joining the Aiken barn.
In her latest win a 28.1 last quarter and 57.7 last half gave her rivals little chance of running her down and she had no trouble cruising home over five metres clear of the second favourite, the Chris Lang-trained-and-driven Queen Invasion.
Sheza Pleasure will attempt a hat-trick of wins at tomorrow night’s Melton meeting.
‘‘Potentially she’s a top mare and we haven’t seen the best of her yet,’’ Aiken said.
Taking it up a notch
Somebeachsomewhere filly Take It Down made an impressive winning debut for Avenel trainer Wayne Potter at last week’s Kilmore meeting.
The three-year-old was given the run of the race by Mark Pitt and surged home from near last with 400m to run to account for the favourite Interpretation and the Danny Thackery-prepared Lochinvar Charm.
Take It Down is one of seven winners left so far by the Badlands Hanover mare Serenity Franco, including Mojo Major (19 wins) and The Talk (nine wins).
Take It Down was the first leg of a driving double at the Kilmore meeting for Pitt who also scored on the speedy Emma Stewart-trained trotter Alpha Male who has now won six of his 11 career starts.
Euroa horseman Cameron Maggs hasn’t wasted any time in getting his promising two-year-old trotter Ess Kay Hollywood into the winner’s circle.
After running second to stablemate Miss Francene on debut at Geelong the previous week, Ess Kay Hollywood went one better at last Friday night’s Ballarat meeting.
Ess Kay Hollywood stepped straight to the front and was never in danger of being run down, rating 2.03.5 for the 1710m trip from the mobile.
Shepparton reinsmen Mark Pitt and Nathan Jack also savoured success at the Ballarat meeting.
Jack won on the Anton Golina-trained trotter Courmayeur and Pitt saluted on the Emma Stewart-trained pacer Sergios Rocket.
Pitt can’t stop winning
There was a touch of irony associated with the wins of pacers Hi Manameisjeff and Petillante at the Bendigo meeting last Saturday night.
Mark Pitt partnered the Russell Jack-trained Hi Mamameisjeff to an impressive win in slick mile-rate time.
But in the following race, Pitt drove the Emma Stewart-trained Petillante to victory, accounting for the Russell Jack-prepared favourite Just Hope in a two-horse war to the wire.
Pitt had another big night in the sulky with four-five winners.
Apart from Hi Manameisjeff and Petillante he piloted two other winners for the Stewart barn — Von Art and Treachery — to savour four wins for the meeting.
Gee, Deesie’s on the way
Last Saturday night’s Bendigo winner Dessie Gee is one of three northern Victorian-trained pacers lining up in a heat-final promotion when metropolitan class racing returns to Melton tomorrow night.
In arguably his best career win, the Laura Crossland-trained-and-driven Dessie Gee crossed his rivals at the start and then ran them ragged with a scorching PB 1.53.0 mile for the 1650m trip to record his ninth career win.
Tomorrow night at Melton Dessie Gee contests the second heat of the City Council Pace from barrier four over the 2240m trip.
In the first heat the classy Steve O’Donoghue-Bec Bartley-trained Western Sonador makes his return to racing but has drawn the outside of the front row while another Shepparton-trained pacer, the Russell Jack-prepared Spring In His Step makes his return to Victorian racing from the inside back row draw. His last two unplaced were at Queensland’s winter carnival at Albion Park so this will be a drop in class.
Last start Wagga winner Heritage Lady is also seeking a big pay cheque for Tatura north trainer Craig Turnbull and his reinsman daughter Abbey at tomorrow night’s Melton meeting in the Group Three $40,000 Platinum Mares Championship.
Heritage Lady has drawn barrier five over the short trip of 1720m.
Waiting pays off
Underrated Shepparton trainer Darryn Rowney got a well-deserved win when his pacer Waitingnoruns broke his maiden status at his 25th try at Tuesday night’s Shepparton meeting.
The four-year-old Caeser Augustus gelding driven by James Herbertson put in a sustained three-wide run over the final 800 metres to round up his rivals in a tough effort.
No-one could begrudge Waitingnoruns of the win as four of his last five starts had produced second placings.
Waitingnoruns put up some time for the 1690m trip with a 1.57.6 mile rate.
Plenty to Love
Another well-deserved win at the Shepparton meeting was achieved by smart trotter Yankee Lover for Kyabram trainer Mick Blackmore.
The Love You four-year-old gelding had put in eye-catching runs at his previous two starts for second placings and was bursting to score another win.
With some of his more fancied rivals breaking or being inconvenienced in the early stages of the race Yankee Lover, driven by James Herbertson, worked to the front early off a 10 metre handicap and was always going to be hard to beat with a 28 seconds final split putting paid to his rivals.
Second home, the Wayne Potter-trained and Mark Pitt-driven Alluring Tyrone put up the run of the race after messing up the standing start to finish second.
Yankee Lover is bred in the purple with second dam Maori Princess, the dam of seven winners including Inter Dominion winner Sumthingaboutmaori.
Bred by the Shaws and raced by Blackmore partner Pam Patten, Yankee Lover is building a good resume with four wins and 10 placings from just 17 race starts.
The Turnbulls were well to the fore at Tuesday night’s Shepparton meeting.
Tatura’s Craig Turnbull and his daughter Abbey savoured wins along with Merrigum trainer Simon Turnbull who is no relation.
Craig produced Smooth Debate for his second win on the track in as many starts with Brad Chisholm again in the sulky.
Chisholm sent the six-year-old Well Said mare straight to the front from barrier three and comfortably held the favourite Nineteenth Man at bay in what turned out to be a two-horse war in the concluding stages.
Smooth Debate was having just her fourth start for Craig Turnbull after joining his stable with six wins and 10 minor placings from 54 career starts.
Craig’s daughter Abbey also produced a winning front-running drive on the Simon Turnbull-trained High Flux, who notched his fourth career win.
While Abbey was having just her second race drive on High Flux, she was familiar with the five-year-old Auckland Reactor gelding who spent time in her father’s barn after Simon was recovering from a fall on the pacer who chocked down in a race on the Shepparton track in June.
High Flux’s 34 career starts have now produced four wins and 12 placings
Kyabram racing into town
Kyabram Trots Club holds its cup meeting at Shepparton on Sunday night.
Feature events are the Techies Tyres Kyabram Pacing Cup and the Kevin Abrahams Memorial Trotters Cup.
Graham Lyon will he attempting a hometown triumph in the pacers’ cup with Jets Art, who is returning to racing after a spell.
The Juanita Breen-trained-and-driven Lottie Moon and the in-form Alex Ashwood-prepared Rockntommy Rulz will also have plenty of admirers.
Main hopes in the trotters’ cup look to be Savvy Kyvalley, Hateitwhenyourrite and Whatwillbeewillbee
The nine-event card kicks off 5.07pm with the final event at 9.15pm.
Today: Mildura (d), Bendigo (n)
Saturday: Melton (n)
Sunday: Kyabram Cup meeting at Shepparton (n)
Monday: Charlton (d)
Tuesday: Cranbourne (n)
Wednesday: Kilmore (n)
Thursday: Hamilton (d) Echuca (n)
Friday: Mildura (d), Ballarat (n)