Day At The Track

Another popular win for Hoban family

09:00 AM 06 Apr 2021 NZST
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Classy mare Tangoingwithsierra, part-owner Craig Hoban and driver Greg Sugars at Melton, Harness racing
Classy mare Tangoingwithsierra, part-owner Craig Hoban and driver Greg Sugars at Melton
Stuart McCormick Photo

All wins are our sport of harness racing are special – but some are more special than others. 

And the stellar return from injury of gifted Victorian mare Tangoingwithsierra could scarcely be more meaningful for her passionate owners and trainers the Hoban family of Toolern Vale.

The five-year-old mare was sidelined with serious injuries for more than a year before an exciting comeback win at Melton two weeks ago – and she followed it up in even more emphatic fashion with a tough victory again on Saturday night.

Watch the race replay click here!

But the wins were particularly emotional for trainer Gary Hoban and his son Craig, who is a part owner. Gary has been diagnosed with Lymphoma.

“Dad and I have raced and bred a lot of horses together over the years and this one is pretty special. The next couple of weeks are pretty important for Dad, so this is certainly giving all of us something else to focus on,” Craig said.

“She is just on top of her game at the moment and it was a terrific win.  Just really tough and so genuine – she’s a lovely mare,” he said.

Tangoingwithsierra last won in February 2020 and Craig said getting the mare back to the races since she had to be scratched from the final of the Victorian Oaks had been a long and difficult road.

“She had stress fractures in one hock back in 2019 (April) and we got her back from that about nine months later.  She had three starts for three wins, and then she was diagnosed with stress fractures in the other hock,” Craig said.

“It was devastating.  But a huge shout out to Dr Ian Fulton, our vet from the Ballarat Veterinary Clinic, who has been with us every step of the way,” he said.

“He’s been incredible.  He would have seen her probably 10 times over the course of things, monitoring her progress and then advising us about how to go with her work. 

“(Another) six months off, walk for a month, jog for two months, hobble for a month and then give her a month off, and then go through the whole process (again). It’s been a long six months, but it’s worth it when you get back on track.”

Craig said it was disappointing to miss some of the good mares’ races over the past month.

“But we really just wanted to make sure everything was spot on and that was just the way it went.  We just wanted to be 100 percent sure with her, and the last X-ray Ian did, just before she raced, he said was the best since he has been seeing her,” he said.

“But I think we might take the time now to head back there again with her, just to make sure everything is okay and on-track!”

Tangoingwithsierra was three wide for the 1720 metre trip on Saturday night, but Craig said he was “rapt” at the drive of Greg Sugars.

“Greg’s just so professional.  I used to do her race driving, and I loved driving her, but I’m totally happy with having Greg and Saturday night just showed why,” Craig said.

“Things just didn’t pan out early for her, and she ended up getting left wide. I think I probably would have panicked at that point, but Greg is just so cool and calm.  I think she keeps surprising him, but he just pushed the button at the top of the straight and knew he had them covered.”

Craig said although he was more hands-on with the training side of the horses at the moment, Gary was still very much focussed on the stable activities.

“Dad’s still telling me what to do.  I take most of it on board, but I think I probably still jog them a little slower than he’d like!” Craig said.

“With dad still in charge he’s mapping out the programs.  He hasn’t decided where her next start will be, but he’s pretty good at placing the horses to their best advantage. 

“He’s a tough customer and very strong-minded and that’s what you need to be, I think, but it’s good to have the horses as a bit of a distraction.”

Hoofnote: Tangoingwithsierra (Sierra Tango – Sportswriter (Village Jasper) is the third foal from the Hobans’ handy race mare Sierra Tango (Village Jasper – Twinkletoes (Tip Top Prince).  Her first foal Dancingwithsierra (by Modern Art) won 13 races ($161K), and the second, Waltzingwithsierra won 11.  A full sister to Tangoingwithsierra, four-year-old Rockingwithsierra (3 wins) is also on the injury comeback trail and is due to trial at Melton today.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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