Day At The Track

Champion reinswoman continues to flourish

03:30 PM 16 Jun 2020 NZST
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Illawong Armstrong,Harness racing
Stuart McCormick photo

Plenty of talent will pass through Jodi Quinlan’s hands at Ballarat tonight, as the champion reinswoman continues to flourish amid challenging times.

For Quinlan, the covid-19 restrictions have come with their own silver lining as greater opportunities have presented under region-based racing, first in the Inner West region and now West.

Major Times, Mirragon, Error and Rocknroll Ronnie are but a few of the talented types Quinlan has piloted to victories since April 2, but she has begun to pull the reins on her hectic workflow as her body still battles the fall-out of being kicked by a horse on Christmas Eve in 2018.

“I started off fairly slowly,” Quinlan said of her return to racing in November after almost 12 months out recovering from a lacerated kidney and spine fractures. “I was only driving a couple of horses and at a couple of meetings, but covid threw me into the deep and I was driving way more than I expected. It probably did get a little too much for the body – the doctor still hasn’t cleared me to go full-time.”

Some 111 of Quinlan’s 197 drives this season have come since region-based racing started a shade over 10 weeks ago, in which time she has produced 21 of her season’s 29 winners.

“It has really tested me regional racing, I started driving three times a week and it’s a little too much,” she said. “You have to make hay while the sun shines, but I have started to take a step back.

“I have post-concussion syndrome and a bit of pain in the back. I have struggled getting into the American karts and at home have to have a sulky that’s been modified for me. I went to a specialist three weeks ago and they said it could be two years to get back to where I was, but I could never get back there too.”

Having said that, the trainer-driver is merely treading warily as opposed to relinquishing the reins, as evidenced by tonight’s attack on Bray Raceway.

She has trained three and will drive four starters tonight, her numbers slightly reduced after Illawong Barmah was scratched from the Elements Mind & Body 2YO Trotters Handicap.

“He was not 100 per cent so I have pulled him out and he’ll go to the paddock,” Quinlan said of the Muscle Mass gelding, who had won his last two starts.

She had been eying Maryborough’s Redwood Classic, but that’s since been delayed until November 1 and so he’ll be freshened for that 2YO trot and the Vicbred Super Series to follow in December.

Asked if she sees him as a contender for the forthcoming Group 1s, Quinlan responded “I do, definitely”.

“I always thought he was the better of the two, Craig has a different opinion.”

The other half of the two is Illawong Moonbeam, who with Illawong Barmah’s scratching will be the stable’s only representative in tonight’s fourth race, which streams on Trots Vision at 6.32pm.

Illawong Moonbeam, a Love You filly, will be first up from a spell tonight, with Quinlan taking the reins.

“She’s a funny horse Moonbeam. She’s not as mannered as (Illawong Barmah), she doesn’t give you a hell of a lot at home, but when you take her away she takes the next step,” Quinlan said.

“Her last win at Kilmore surprised me, she showed good bottom and is more of a dour horse than a speed horse. Being first up tomorrow I would like to think that she can win. Whatever she does she will improve on, hopefully her ability carries her a fair way.”

Four of Quinlan’s five involvements tonight are for Martin and Kaye Hartnett’s Illawong clan, with Quinlan to also steer Illawong Kismet in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (7pm) and stable star Illawong Stardust in the Ballarat Tree Works Trotters Handicap (8.42pm).

“(Illawong Kismet’s) last run was terrific. I had a little trouble getting her going (this campaign), but her last run hopefully showed she is back on track, because last season she was competing against the better ones.”

Priced as a $12 chance by Craig Rail, with Emma Stewart’s American Alli dominant in the market, Quinlan said it looked “good" value.

“She probably can’t beat Emma’s but she can probably run a place,” Quinlan offered.

Illawong Stardust on the other hand may well start in the red with, with the prodigiously talented Muscle Hill filly out of mare Lunar Landing showing similar characteristics her half-brother, Quinlan’s enigmatic trotter Illawong Armstrong ($230,652, pictured above).

“She is probably the best horse I train. She is a very good horse, her manners let her down, but she is getting better.

“She gives me a lot of headaches, but when she does it right she is pretty good. Obviously her mother was a bit hot-headed, because they all have their quirks but they also go good.”

Tonight’s the first time Quinlan will drive her from a standing start, a race type she hasn’t contested since her second career start and fingers will be crossed, with the three-year-old “taking a little bit to get into rhythm”.


Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden have another big line-up for today's Talking Trots on SENTrack, which runs weekdays from 11am-1pm on 1377AM in Melbourne, 657AM in Perth and 1575AM in Wollongong.

Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.

The good oil from the Vic trials circuit

BLACKBOOKER: Ballarat, R4 N3, Euryphaessa

May 8: The pleasing part about the performance of EURYPHAESSA was she concentrated throughout the entire trip after having several indiscretions when being a long way in front over the past few weeks. REPORT

May 1: Is an extremely talented filly but she has done a bit wrong at her past two trial attempts. She wanted to pull up and head back to the stables turning out of the front straight when a long way clear. She may concentrate better when there are horses around her. At her past two trials she has stepped quickly and established a big lead before making errors mid-race. REPORT & REPLAY

February 14: Jumped in front but galloped one hundred metres after the start and lost approximately 40m. She did a lot of chasing and finished a game third. REPORT & REPLAY


HRV - Michael Howard

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