Day At The Track

Darby gives visitors something to smile about

04:00 PM 20 Sep 2019 NZST
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Darby McGuigan,Harness racing
Darby McGuigan
Cobram Harness Racing Club photo

Ballarat-based harness racing young gun Darby McGuigan has provided a "shot in the arm" for a Sunshine State husband-and-wife team's Victorian campaign.

McGuigan, fresh from driving over 100 winners for the first time last season, showed patience personified before timing his run to perfection to land the prize with nine-year-old mare Majestic Whiz at Swan Hill on Tuesday night.

Majestic Whiz (Majestic Son-Roydon Whiz (Gee Whiz II), trained by Gavin and Kay Crone, scored by the narrowest of margins in the $7000 Cardigan Boko @ Goodtime Lodge Trotters Handicap.

The square-gaiter is one of a handful of horses being campaigned on a "working holiday" down south by the couple. The Crones come from Ebenezer, a small rural township 44 kms from the capital Brisbane with a population of about 300 residents.

"It was great because no-one gave us much of a chance, but I can tell you that Gavin and Kay and their friends were very excited," McGuigan said.

"The horse was always travelling nicely and had an easy time buried away three back on the pegs. I was able to pop off into the one-out line on the home corner and we just found enough up the home straight to snatch victory," he said.

"The race was run at a consistent tempo (of 30.5, 30.9, 29.8 and 29.3) which suited us. But to be honest, I wasn't sure if I had run down the favorite Majestic Devil (Michelle Phillips). It was certainly very close."

McGuigan, now into his fourth season of race driving, said he met Gavin at a recent Ballarat meeting and was offered the drive.

"I don't mind trotters. I get a few drives on them and I've had a few wins and it's always a good feeling," he said.

The victory ended a long streak of being out of the winner's circle for Majestic Whiz. Her previous triumph was at Bankstown (December 22, 2017) and her 57 starts since that success have yielded just 10 placings at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg circuits.


The successful Crone clan after their win in the Springboard Series in Queensland in August (photo courtesy Dan Costello)

Majestic Whiz is now owned by former Sydney trainer Peter Carson who's a well-known fan of the square-gaiter. The mare started her career in South Australia under the care of the McMillan family, running second on debut at Globe Derby Park in March, 2013, before winning there two weeks later.

Five placings followed in the next four months before she found her way to the Melbourne stable of Brent Lilley. After an unplaced effort in the G1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough, Majestic Whiz was produced 18 months later by Carson at Menangle. She had quite a few attempts prior to the Bankstown success.

Her next stop was to Ebenezer to the Crone stables, who also share a love for the square-gaiters. The couple had half the field in the Swan Hill event. Apart from winner Majestic Whiz, Kay drove Princess Katerina (3rd) and Gavin piloted Davey's Gift (5th).

Also making the Victorian trip is talented three-year-old Armbro Variable-sired gelding Indefensible (Armbro Variable-Mental Power (Its Motor Power). He was an impressive winner back home in the $15,000 Stallions Australasia Springboard 2yo Trotters Final. His three Victorian runs have been good with a third at Maryborough and two fourths at Ballarat.

The visitors are hoping Indefensible can breakthrough because he's Vicbred which entitles him to an $7000 bonus in addition to stakemoney. Crone's brother Darryl, who lives in Victoria, owns and bred the horse.

McGuigan shared driving honors at Swan Hill with Boris Devcic, of Mildura, both landing doubles.

"It was fantastic landing Byalla Boy for dad (Tim). The horse was good recently at Mildura, but disappointed a bit at Yarra Valley, so we were happy to see him bounce back," McGuigan said.

"It was his eighth win. Seven of these have been when he's landed in front."

And it could have easily been a treble for the youngster who was engaged to drive winner of the opening event Spring Delight for Steven Duffy.

"We had a few hiccups on the way and I didn't get to the track on time, so Zac Phillips took my place - and they got the money!" McGuigan said.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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