Day At The Track

Aussie News 31st July

10:35 AM 31 Jul 2017 NZST
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San Carlo,Harness racing
San Carlo
Stuart McCormack photo

On Melbourne radio station RSN a few weeks back, a discussion was raised around the possibility, that unbeaten juvenile thoroughbred Royal Symphony, might tackle this October’s Cox Plate. 

That’s right, expert commentators openly toyed with the idea of an untried, untested baby racing against Winx, and perhaps even winning the Southern Hemisphere’s most revered WFA affair. 

We don’t hear those conversations in Harness Racing. In fact, if a horse is anointed before their rightful time, both scribe and horse are in dire danger of being pilloried to within an inch of their lives. 

That is why the San Carlo case confounds as much as it excites. Granted, San Carlo is no greenhorn; indeed he’s a somewhat seasoned, if incredibly lightly raced six-year-old, with the extraordinary record of 15 wins from just 17 race starts.

But the fact media impresarios, and the general harness public are on the same page, in thinking this metropolitan maiden will inevitably stamp his imprimatur on Grand Circuit racing is unusual indeed. 

Steve O’Donoghue and Beck Bartley’s gifted son, of the late Mach Three made his latest statement to those he means to face in coming months, easily winning on Saturday night at Shepparton. 

Now it would seem he’ll finally look to bust his metro maiden status, via the Vicbred Championship series at Tabcorp Park both this week and next. 

A crack at the Breeders Crown Graduate FFA potentially tackling Grand Circuit winner Hectorjayjay, then beckons before the new-look Vic Cup also looms large on the horizon. 

So after an eternity of waiting we may know as soon as mid-October whether San Carlo, the horse that has united an industry of cynics, can actually match motors with the best Australia-wide. 



For the second consecutive weekend Melton hosted a slew of semi-features on Friday night, one of those being the Group Three Melton Cup Final won by Ameretto. 

Always a gifted commodity for owner and original trainer Ashley Grives, Ameretto was a three-time Group One placegetter in her formative years but has gone to a whole new level on Victorian soil. 

Superbly trained and steered by the world’s most decorated horsewoman, Kerryn Manning, the headstrong mare led as expected from her polemarking draw and only got weary once the race was won.

“She (Ameretto) has been in terrific form but there were plenty that wanted to come around and have a look at her mid-race, which led to the quick mid-race sectionals,” Manning said. 

“I was really proud of her effort to hold on, given she was running up the track slightly and was rightfully getting a bit tired late. 

“While she’s going well there are races for her here, and she will probably stay down here a little bit longer. 

“I know she’s one of Ash’s favourite horses and she’s always calling after her, so it’s nice that she’s really racing well down here right now. 

With most of Australia’s major mares’ races done for 2017, Manning refused to rule out a trip to Perth for their female features over the Inter-Dominion carnival. 

Though Manning and her father Peter have had enormous success on Victoria’s Country Cup circuit, and there’s little reason to believe Ameretto, if she settles a little better, wouldn’t be suited to those kinds of races as well. 


 

It's probably fair to say, the last 72 hours haven’t boosted New Zealand’s chances of winning Sunday afternoon’s Victoria Trotters Derby, during Redwood Day at Maryborough.

As we all now know, NZ’s best 3YO squaregaiter Enghien officially folded his cards for the Derby on Sunday, but the rot set in for the Kiwis two days earlier at Melton.

That, of course was when President Roydon, the former All-Star alumni recently transferred to Kerryn Manning was beaten at red-figure odds in a key Derby lead-up event.

Having finished second to Enghien at four of his previous five outings, President Roydon was expected to dominate a gifted if not quite elite group of adversaries at Vic Harness HQ.

Despite comfortably leading that wasn’t to be however as underrated Vicbred Super Series runner-up, Garshaway easily out-sprinted him in the closing stages.

The news was slightly better but still somewhat surprising from the juvenile brigade, with ex-Kiwi More Shades Of Gold outgunning Jewels runner-up, One Muscle Hill in Melton’s final event.

Unfortunately if gun reinsman Nathan Jack is right, that won’t help the Kiwi or ex-Kiwi brigade from making their mark, on the Redwood Classis as More Shades Than Gold is unlikely to go there.

“He’s obviously come over with some pretty good wraps, and his best New Zealand form was right around some of their better two-year-old trotters,” Jack said.

“This just didn’t suit him first-up; he was behind the leader at Stawell and they went pretty slowly, but tonight everything just worked out well for him.

“He probably won’t go to the Redwood Classic, because I don’t think he gets away too well from the stand, so his main goal will likely be the Breeders Crown which is obviously coming up pretty quickly.”


 

While there were plenty of equine heroes at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, the best story of the night was a human one. Roughly three years ago, a Swedish Monte rider of Middle Eastern heritage named, Kima Frenning moved to Australia, soon after joining Team Aiken in the hope of furthering her experience with horses. 

At the time ridden-trots were gaining a foothold in Victoria and predictably Frenning has been the pre-eminent exponent of Monte riding in this part of the world. 

Despite that success, the young horsewoman, who has also been in a long-term relationship with young gun Josh Aiken, decided she wanted to drive and not just ride her standardbred friends. 

After an understandably slow start to her career in the cart, Frenning has improved out of sight in recent months and on Friday night she drove her first metropolitan winner. 

Without any additional details that would be an incredible achievement, but the fact she recorded the milestone success on a catch drive for Emma Stewart made it even sweeter again. 



Another former All Star pacer, Motu Premier further confirmed what a wonderful job he’ll do on Western Australian soil by winning the Chandon Final on Friday night at Gloucester Park. 

Now with Ross Olivieri, the Merv Butterworth-trained four-year-old parked out and outclassed his adversaries at WA headquarters to bring his record to seven successes from nine starts on Aussie soil. 

While he’s fast headed into some high quality company the way Motu Premier saluted on the weekend would suggest there’s still serious scope for improvement into the future.   


 

As has been become standard transmission in recent years, Emma Stewart made the Southern Cross Finals at Globe Derby her own on Saturday night winning two of the four Group Two deciders. 

Teaming with long-time stable owner Bruce Cameron who has made a committed effort to target South Australia’s richest futurity series, Stewart claimed wins with That’s Perfect and Perfect Look in the 2YO boys and 3YO girls’ finals respectively.

Victoria pillaged even more folding from the SA coffers when the Nicole Molander-trained Saphirique won the freshman fillies final courtesy of a superb Gavin Lang drive.

The locals were not left completely bereft however, as the Megan Gee owned-and driven Somebeachgift went spectacularly well to win the 3YO colts and geldings decider.

The night was also notable for Belgian reinsman Sidney Van Den Brande collecting his biggest win on Aussie soil partnering the aforementioned Perfect Look for bosses Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.


Adam Hamilton

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