Day At The Track

Belated celebration for unforgettable double

10:00 AM 16 Apr 2019 NZST
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Michelle Phillips,Harness racing
Michelle Phillips
Ashlea Brennan photo
Young Bendigo harness racing reinswoman Michelle Phillips landed her maiden double at the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival last week -but had to wait two nights to celebrate.
 
Phillips and her partner, talented horseman Shaun McNaulty, got home from Mildura to their stables at Marong at 3am after the second night of the carnival on Thursday, and, not surprisingly, weren’t in the mood to put their party pants on!
 
“It sounds crazy, but I suggested to Michelle that we could head back to Mildura for the Cup final on the Saturday night and do some celebrating then!” McNaulty said.
 
“Michelle decided it was a perfect idea so that’s what we did – and it was a huge night, combined with a few drinks, of course, and the karaoke at the track after the last,” he said.
 
“We have already booked our accommodation and stabling for the three-night carnival next year!”
 
The stable double was also momentous for McNaulty, as it was the first time he’d brought his own team to race at Mildura.
 
“I’d been to the trots there years ago with my brother, and I’d always had an ambition to race during the carnival,” he said.
 
The McNaulty-Phillips combination landed their winning double in consecutive races, with Gobsmacked (Auckland Reactor-Respected (Art Major) and It’s All Business (Sportswriter USA-In The White House NZ (Presidential Ball USA).
 
They also ran third in the Mildura Trotters Cup with their consistent square gaiter Fratellino (Monarchy USA-Solar Fire NZ (Yankee Reb USA), the winner being Endsin A Party, driven by Phillips’ boss Chris Svanosio for trainer Brad Stevens.
 
McNaulty said three-year-old gelding Gobsmacked always had ability, but just wasn’t putting it together.
 
“He may have just turned the corner now because that’s two wins in his past three starts,” he said.
 
“I thought the drive was brilliant by Michelle - I’m very proud.”
 
Phillips comes from a family background with horses, with her grandfather, Max, a Clerk of the Course in Gippsland for many years.
 
She is a graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul and was awarded the inaugural HRV-Community College Gippsland Trots Internship in 2016. The internship gave Phillips 12 months of experience across the industry and in leading stables, which she is now putting into practice.
 
The runaway win by Its All Business in the 3YO Pace was reward for patience for McNaulty.
 
“We’ve had our share of problems with him lately, but I have to admit that I’ve got a lot of time for the colt,” he said.
 
“He showed exceptional ability from day one when he got beaten last season at Bendigo in a 2YO race running a tick over 1.54.
 
“I would have loved to have contested the Sydney derby with the horse, simply to gain some experience. In hindsight he probably would have been lucky to qualify, but it would have done him the world of good.
 
“Anyway the timing wasn’t right as he had a bit of a bunged-up knee and I’ve really only just got the swelling down.”
 
McNaulty has his pair of in-form runners competing at Kilmore on Thursday, while trotter Fratellino will contest the $14,500 Eddie Edison Memorial Trotters Cup at Warragul on Sunday.
 
“Fratellino is the leader by eight points on the Country Cup Trotters Championship so that’s a big bonus if he could hang and grab that,” McNaulty said.
 
“We’ll be out there trying our best, that’s for sure!” he said.
 
But if Fratellino does get the job done, hopefully the pair can find somewhere a little closer to home to celebrate!
 
 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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