Day At The Track

Back to back wins for Phelan

01:25 PM 03 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Scott Phelan,harness racing
Scott Phelan

Scott Phelan won his second consecutive Taranaki Cup on the New Plymouth grass yesterday (Thursday) thanks largely to Canadian-based Kiwi trainer, Mark Herlihy.

Herlihy, who turned 33 today (Friday) got married to Casie Coleman in Florida last week and his father Tony Herlihy (MNZM) wasn’t expected back from the wedding until today. He will drive at Alexandra Park tonight.

Phelan was the replacement driver and nailed the $11,000 Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup for the up to R90 pacers behind the Herlihy trained and R81 ranked Walkinshaw.

The Mach Three entire, who started from four on the second row, was the $2.20 favourite.

Phelan won last year’s Taranaki Cup behind the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Prince Of Pops.

Thirty-four-year-old Phelan, who works for Steve Telfer at Chris Garlick at Ardmore, was delighted with his first drive behind the tough 4-year-old.

“He’s a nice horse and felt extra good today. He went into the race in good condition. I hope the Herlihys are happy with the drive because I was rapt to get him home.

“I can see why he has won a lot of money in stakes. He just had a nice fell about him. I thought he would be hard to beat going into the race,” said on his long road trip back to Auckland.

“It’s always nice driving winners, but New Plymouth has been kind to me. I enjoy driving there,” he added..

The last time Herlihy won the Cup was in 2011 when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory. That was the same margin as Walkinshaw’s sixth career win yesterday.

He held out $8.70 (place) outsider Fleeting Grin and Peter Ferguson pacing the 2600m mobile in 3:21 even (mile rate 2:04.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.2 and 30.1.

The victory also took Walkinshaw’s earnings past the $100,000 mark. It was his first start in the 2017 North Island Country Cup Series and first on grass.

Walkinshaw hadn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve.

That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent.

Walkinshaw went into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters.

Herlihy also won the second event with the Tony Cameron driven first starter, Powder Chief. The 3-year-old was the $8.50 fourth favourite in the 6,000 Taranaki Associated Cleaners Fillies and Mares Maiden.

The Bettor's Delight brown filly qualified 6.1 seconds under time when sixth of six at the Cambridge Raceway trials on May 20 last year.

She then hinted a win was imminent when winning her 2050m workout at Pukekohe on February 11.

Hawera trainer Fred Mitchell also had a good day winning two races and finishing fourth twice from his four starters.

He won with the Sailesh Abernethy driven Hold All bets in race four and then repeated the dose a race later with the Kyle Marshall reined Jack Bates. They were the $7.10 third and $8.10 fourth favourites respectively.

Mitchell looks poised to record his best season in 13 seasons of training. Last year he conditioned six winners and did the same in 2013-2015. With just under five months of 2016-2017 remaining he has already been victorious five times.

Waiau Pa reinsman, Kyle Marshall won the TAB’s Driver Challenge with two wins behind Jack Bates (race 5) and Joemaro (race 7); and three seconds with Bouton (race 2) and Saint Michel (race 3), and Alta Roulette (race 4).

Duane Ranger

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