Day At The Track

Journeyman pacer takes Cup in record time

01:54 PM 14 Jan 2019 NZDT
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Craven Stable
Left to right, Craven Stable foreman Craig McKinnis, his granddaughters Eva and Tyra, Matty Craven, his “right-hand girl” and girlfriend Sofia Arvidsson and Hamilton Club President Zeb Lewis

Journeyman gelding Wardan Express gave a bold front-running exhibition to score an impressive harness racing win in the $35,000 Group 3 Hamilton Pacing Cup.

Trainer-driver Matt Craven speared the five-year-old (Art Major-Benelise (Vintner) to the head of affairs and he showed his rivals a clean pair of heels, setting a new track record along the way.

“He’s been going really well with consistent performances against some pretty handy ones,” a jubilant Craven said.

“I guess the longer 2660m trip was somewhat of a question mark, but I wasn’t really concerned when I checked back on some of his races in the past.

“A few of his runs were over a bit of distance in the Breeders Crown, Sires Stakes and Derby feature events and against top company.”

Craven certainly wasn’t waiting for anyone in the cup, allowing Wardan Express to slide along at a steady clip. The sectional times of 28.5, 29.3, 27.9 and 28 tell the tale, eclipsing the previous track record held by superstar Cruz Bromac.

Wardan Express is raced by AD Investments Pty Ltd, along with Warren Viney, of Tasmania. The combination races many horses and Wargan Express carried the Viney race colors to victory yesterday.

After starting his career with the Tindale stable at Melton, the gelding then had stints with Amanda Turnbull, Russell and Nathan Jack, Kevin Pizzuto and Gary Hall snr before finding his way to the Craven stable at south Ecklin, near Terang.

Craven hasn’t mapped out a race program for the exciting pacer, who has now won eight races for him, but he did hint a trip to Menangle could be on the cards.

After the cup win, the popular horseman paid tribute to his many stable helpers, including girlfriend Sofia, foreman Craig McKinnis, and his parents Helen and Peter.

“It’s impossible to do it properly without help when you have a big team,” Craven said.

“Mum does the lunches each day for everyone, while dad does the joggers and he’s even having a race drive for me on a 2yo on Wednesday. They are both huge supporters of the stable.”

And while the Hamilton Cup win was a first for Craven, he admitted there were no big celebrations when they drove one and a half hours back home.

“We had to be up early and on the road to Shepparton to look at some yearlings that are entered for the coming sales,” he said.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura


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