Day At The Track

Champ gears up to rekindle his spark

01:00 PM 20 Mar 2020 NZDT
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John Meade with his recent Horsham winner Wisp Of Smoke. Meade is off to Melton this weekend with his comeback horse, Sparkling Success,Harness racing
John Meade with his recent Horsham winner Wisp Of Smoke. Meade is off to Melton this weekend with his comeback horse, Sparkling Success
Horsham HRC photo

Experienced country Victorian harness racing trainer John Meade knows he faces a huge test tomorrow night with his stable champion Sparkling Success, but he's just happy to have the square gaiter back racing.

Now an eight-year-old, Sparkling Success (Great Success-Diamond Insitu (Cr Commando USA) is one of eight starters in the prestigious $24,000 Group Three Economix Scotch Notch Memorial at Melton.

The brilliant gelding is having just his second start since September 2018, but after an arduous recovery from injury, Meade and his wife Mary are understandably over the moon with having their horse once again competing.

"His first run back at Charlton last weekend was pretty good. He finished fifth, but the margin from the winner was just 12 metres," said Meade, of Cudgee, nestled halfway between Terang and Hamilton.

"But yes, we were quite happy-he only went into the race with three easy trials under his belt so there's room for improvement," he said.

"He's eaten up well all week and more importantly his leg looks good. But this weekend he's up against the likes of Tornado Valley, Big Jack Hammer and Magicool and they're going to take some beating.

"We've certainly run into some classy horses that's for sure. Hopefully we can stay in touch. The bottom line is that he needs racing, so we'll see how we go,"

Sparkling Success stamped himself as a star in August and September of 2018, with two authoritative victories at Melbourne headquarters in the $35,000 Crown Graduate FFA Trot and $20,000 Garrards Maori's Idol FFA.

His next assignment was to be to contest the Yonkers International Trot in the USA, but connections were devastated when a serious front leg injury forced them to call off the plans.

"He had a slight tear in the suspensory ligament of his near side front leg. At the same time, we'd also decided to get out of dairying and had sold our 300 cows, so we were at a bit of a loose end," Meade said.

"But so much planning had gone into the trip, and on the positive side, I decided with Chris Svanosio, who was our driver at the time, to go anyway, because we'd paid for our tickets and such.

"We had a wonderful time with lots of pleasant memories. It was great, particularly going to the Red Mile track at Lexington in Kentucky."

Meade said Sparkling Success's recovery and rehabilitation involved the first six months being confined to a box.

"He had a lot of walking-and he's a shocking horse to take for a walk! I eventually used to put him in a cart and we just walked about. Then after this there was five minutes walking and five minutes of trotting," he said.

"We started building him up using a heavy cart to jog and try to get him as fit as possible. A vet told me that it's speed that breaks them down but even now he has 25 minutes jogging and still puffs a bit at the end, but we'll get there.

"I still have him stabled in the same box, but he does have a little paddock of his own now, and providing the leg stands up we should be okay. He's an eight-year-old who has only had 38 starts."

Meade, who has been training horses for about 40 years, has a team of 12 in work-all square gaiters.

"I obviously like them. I've been trying to sell a couple off because there's a few three-year-olds I want to get into work, and then there's four yearlings who need something doing with them," he said.

The stable has certainly had its share of success over the years, with Crescent Glory (Safely Kept-Glory Girl (Red Coach Glory) one that comes to mind. The gelding was a revelation for probably six seasons from 2007, winning 14 races and 30 placings for $150k. There were a number of InterDominion appearances, but a highlight was a win in the $25,000 group three Holmefield.

While Meade enjoys the shoeing aspect, he is quick to hand over race driving duties.

"I'll do the ones who are hard to handle, but the youngsters these days are so much better at it. They slot into holes where there doesn't seem room, and they're just as quick to get out of pockets when they need to."

But the veteran may just be cutting himself short as he recently didn't put a foot wrong to land 20/1 longshot Wisp Of Smoke (Dejarmbro-Fire Chase (Keystone Salute) at Horsham.

"That fella has a heap of ability. He can get up on the bit, but he's one I've got to sell because I have too many," Meade said.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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