Day At The Track

Country cup win a first for rising star

01:00 PM 11 Nov 2019 NZDT
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Start in the St Arnaud Pacing Cup,Harness racing
A good crowd watches the field move up to the mobile in the St Arnaud Pacing Cup
St Arnaud Trots photograph

Winning his first-ever country cup yesterday, junior reinsman James "Herbie" Herbertson showed the brilliance that stamps him one of Victorian harness racing's brightest young stars.

The 20-year-old, based at Lexton, near Ballarat, teamed up with well-performed six-year-old gelding Emain Macha (Safari-Machabella (Mach Three) to win the 2019 $14,500 Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup.

Showing a cool head and a touch of class to weave through tight traffic after despatch, Herbertson balanced Emain Macha up then made a race-winning move to ping him to the death-seat with 1000 metres to go.

"He's a real nice horse that's for sure. I asked him to do a bit of work and then he responded on the home corner when I went for him," Herbertson said.

"It's always a great day at St Arnaud, but getting my first country cup win there made it extra special," he said.

Emain Macha showed plenty of grit to hold out the fast-finishing Rupert of Lincoln (Kerryn Manning) and Hashtag (Tayla French).

The victory was another success for his astute Naracoorte-based trainer, Greg Scholefield, who continues to bob up with winners from just a small stable of runners.

Scholefield, a builder by trade, has concentrated solely on horses for the past decade and races Emain Macha in partnership with Gail Davis, Peter Lamond, and father and son John and Sean Penny.

Scholefield had his stable star back to his best after a short let-up and made use of Herbertson's junior claiming status to be eligible for the cup.

"I've been to St Arnaud on three previous occasions-going back quite a few years ago-and was lucky enough to get two wins, while another runner cut himself and was a late scratching," Scholefield said.

"Emain Macha went very well to win the cup and he's pulled up terrific. I got told the time was .9 of a second outside the race record so we're thrilled," he said.

"James certainly deserves credit as he got him through to a lovely spot after starting on the outside of the back row. They had to work early, but the horse finished off well."

Scholefield said he hadn't picked out where he would race next.

"We'll sit down and look at suitable races, but it will most likely be at Melton because with the national ratings system he will be high up with points and it's hard to place him," he said.

Emain Macha has now won 28 races with 12 placings from 48 starts. He has earnt more than $230,000 in stakemoney.

The win continues a satisfying run for Herbertson who has now landed winners at three different tracks in the past three days. He got the money with Im Shadow Boxer at Bendigo on Friday night for his father Ashleigh, and then followed up the next night at Melton with a longshot double-Jodan (33/1) for the Tindall camp, and Are Doubleyou (25/1) for Kevin Wheatley.

He continues a rapid rise in the sport. This season, just his fourth, is shaping well with 27 wins and 49 placings to date. This follows his record-breaking 2018-19 term when he drove more than 100 winners for the first time.

"I copped a two-week suspension a while ago which put a dent in things, but the season is going along nicely with a fair few trainers giving me race opportunities," Herbertson said.

The St Arnaud club was again thrilled with the success of its annual Cup meeting - with a big crowd enjoying perfect weather and great racing at the picturesque Northern Victorian track.

The other feature event on the program, the St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup was taken out by the in-form Chris Svanosio, who trained and drove Kyvalley Finn.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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