Day At The Track

'Mares Triple Crown' begins Friday night

01:31 AM 08 May 2015 NZST
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Chris Shinn and Steam Washed
Chris Shinn and Steam Washed are hoping to find the lead in the Make Mine Cullen at Melton

The last pacer to win the Victorian “Mares Triple Crown” was the harness racing star whose name adorns the sprint feature at Tabcorp Park Friday night.

Make Mine Cullen, a daughter of the mighty Christian Cullen, achieved the feat in 2012, winning the Cinderella Stakes, the Ladyship Cup and the Queen of the Pacific off 20 metres.

The Mares Triple Crown these days, bearing in mind it is an unofficial term, consists of the Harness Breeders (Vic) Make Mine Cullen, a $25,275 1720-metre random barrier draw sprint, the Angelique Club Cup next Friday, a preferential barrier draw race worth $25,275 over 2240m, and the jewel – the $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific, a stand start 2760m race on Saturday, May 23.

Before Make Mine Cullen, the last mare to achieve the Triple Crown was Golden Flyin for David Aiken in 2005.

Tomorrow night’s Make Mine Cullen looks a tantalising contest on paper with proven five-year-old Frith the benchmark from barrier six up against rising star four-year-old Just Cala from the pole, and stalwart top-line mares Gumdrops (barrier three), Steam Washed (barrier five) and The Good Times (barrier eight) all capable of landing the knockout blow with the right run.

Frith, by Four Starzzz Shark out of Jackie Kelly, boasts an extraordinary strike rate, having won 32 of her 44 career starts for $866,572 in prizemoney.

Tomorrow night Frith lines up under the tutelage of Belinda and Luke McCarthy for the first time after transferring from the stables of Bruce Harpley.

“She has settled in really well,” reinsman Luke McCarthy said of tomorrow night’s $1.35 TAB fixed odds favourite.

“She’s been a champion at two, three and as a four-year-old and earned over $800,000 so she’s got a great record.”

Just Cala is bound for the Harness Jewels in New Zealand after securing a coveted invite, the four-year-old by Art Major out of Lilsistar a winner of two of her past three assignments.

She took out the HBV Ian Daff Memorial over Steam Washed by 2.2m over 1720m in 1:55.4, using the sprint lane from behind the leader to win with a 56.5secss last half and followed that up with a 1.4m win over Lierra Noir in an M0-M1 race over 2240m in a rate of 1:58 (last half 57.5secs), coming with a strong run late.

Last start in the HBV Silver Chalice Just Cala sat outside the leader throughout before going down fighting by 3.1m against rising star mare Berisari, who nominated for tomorrow night’s race but didn’t accept.

Asked where he thought Frith was compared to Just Cala, McCarthy said the fact his mare was a five-year-old probably tipped the ledger in her favour.

“Just that year older, she’s a bit more seasoned I’d say.”

Meanwhile, Chris Shinn is going in confident about Steam Washed from gate five.

The tough mare has had a superb preparation this time in with wins in the HBV Jodies Babe over Goodtime Marjie and Beauty Secret in 1:53.5 at Melton and seconds in the Terang Cup behind Arden Rooney, the Ladyship Cup behind Majorly Foxy Styx and a third behind Guaranteed and Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter in the SA Cup.

“I think she’d be up there with the top ones in Victoria,” Shinn said modestly of Steam Washed.

“She’s got that form around the colts too, not just the mares.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with her. She always earns a cheque.”

Shinn had a word of warning race favourite Frith, who would love to find the lead unchallenged.

“I think mine’s going real good, she gets out of the gate good so I think if we landed the front and Frith was parked, I’d give us a good chance (of upstaging Frith),” he said.

“Unless there’s been a heap of pressure on I think we’d be hard to beat if we were in front at the corner.”

by Cody Winnell

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