Day At The Track

‘Damo’ pulls the right rein with Yarra Valley visit

06:30 AM 13 Apr 2019 NZST
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Damian Wilson,Harness racing
Damian Wilson
Cobram Harness Racing Club photo
Shepparton harness racing trainer-driver Damian “Damo” Wilson was in two minds this week whether to make the demanding road trip to Yarra Valley – but he was glad he did in the end.
 
“It’s not a big or long trip, probably about 170 Kms, but a major part of it is winding roads and that sort of stuff, so you have to keep your eyes open,” Wilson said.
 
But Wilson had the last laugh when bay gelding Winkn Nod (Grinfromeartoear-Mull of Kintire (Chandon) impressively took out the Hargreaves Hill Brewery Pace.
 
Winkn Nod was ignored in betting starting a 20/1 chance. He scored from the Jayne Davies-trained pair Betterman Stride ($2 fav) and British General ($49 chance). The mile rate posted by the winner of 1.55-5 was just 1.4 seconds outside the track record.
 
“He has turned out to be a good money-spinner for the owners, who are Norm and Joan Visca from Moama,” Wilson said.
 

Norm Visca       Cobram Harness Racing Club photos
 
“I reckon I’ve given him 11 starts for two wins and eight placings – the other start he was unplaced after having absolutely no luck at all one day at Cobram,” he said.
 
“It would be great to have a few more like Winkn Nod because he just gets out there and tries his heart out.”
 
Wilson said the enthusiastic Viscas were “good people with an unbelievable love for harness racing”.
 
“They never miss a meeting when I’m racing a horse they own, which is great. And the way they support the industry is really good,” he said.
 
“Norm has been around horses for years. He usually breeds a few, but, also, if he sees a horse he likes he’ll buy it.
 
“You would go a long way to find people with more passion than the Viscas, that’s for sure.”
 
Starting from the outside of the front row, Wilson eased Winkn Nod back at the start. He popped into the one-out, two-back spot, but after a few forward moves by some of his rivals, he was again near last at the bell.
 
“I wasn’t overly-concerned because they’d set a solid pace up front (quarters of 29.9 and 29.5 for a first half of 57.4) and that suited me. I thought I would have something left in the tank because we hadn’t done much in the run,” Wilson said.
 
And his assessment was spot on as Winkn Nod worked stylishly around the field down the back straight. The gelding joined Betterman Stride on straightening and the two settled down to a ding- dong battle.
 
Winkn Nod did best, by a narrow margin, to the cheers of lucky punters who collected $20.90 for a win ticket on the TAB.
 
 
Wilson, who trains on a 50-acre property at Byrneside, near Shepparton, has a team of 10 horses in work.
 
“I’ve got another racehorse in Miss McManus, who’s also owned by Norm and Joan. She was pretty consistent late last year and early this year,” he said.
 
“We had two wins and seven placings, but her last few have been a bit below par. They also have a three-year-old and a trotter so hopefully there will be a lot more trips to the races for them.”
 
Wilson said his trip to Yarra Valley was a rare occurrence.
 
“I haven’t taken a horse there ever since I’ve had my place at Byrneside, and that’s over two-and-a- half years,” he said.
 
“I probably shouldn’t leave it that long until my next visit, because the hard drive home didn’t worry me one bit after the win!”

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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