Day At The Track

Decades of hard work

12:52 PM 11 Jul 2017 NZST
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Gintaras
HRNZ photo

Richard Brosnan’s love of horses and his relentless appetite for hard work paid dividends at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

The 69-year-old Hall-of-Famer had six starters to the races for two firsts and a second. He drove Gintaras to win the seventh event and then two races later Todd Mitchell steered Red Castleton to victory.

Stablemates Grenado (Dylan Ferguson) ran second, Stow (Brosnan) fifth, and Ginger Bertha (Jay Abernethy) sixth in that ninth race. The Brosnan trained quinella was $21.

In a career spanning five decades Brosnan has now racked up his 811th ($5.7m) and 625th ($4.4m) driving and training successes.

“It’s always rewarding to win any race, but two on a night is very satisfying. I still enjoy training after all these years. If I didn’t enjoy being with the horses I wouldn’t be doing it.

“I get a lot of satisfaction fixing horses problems and then watching them perform well on the race-course. I love the challenge of trying to work them out. It takes time but then again I don’t play golf like a lot of the others.

“I pride myself on that fact that 90 per cent of my horses always step. It takes a lot of one-on-one attention but the time and patience eventually pays off. On nights like this it makes it all worth while,” the Ardmore trainer/driver said.

It’s been more than 15 years since Brosnan last trained two trotters to win at a single meeting.

The last time was at Alexandra Park on April 5, 2002 when Champagnat and Pompallier were victorious. He also nailed the training and driving hatrick that night with pacer Heez Ruthless.

Brosnan has trained a pacer and a trotter to win on a single night on several occasions. The last time he achieved that was at Alexandra Park on May 31, 2013 when Peter Ferguson drove pacer Leica Rose to win a Maiden Pace and then two races later he steered Kip Keino to win a C1/2 Trot.

Brosnan also repeated the dose at the same venue on June 26, 2009, when he trained and drove pacer Baltic warrior and trotter, Sunny's Bar to win.

Brosnan half expected Gintaras to go close on Friday but was somewhat surprised by Red Castleton’s first win in two career starts.

“Gintaras has been going some nice races lately even though he did break in sympathy when another horse galloped and I thought he was knocking on the door.

“Red Castleton goes pretty good but I’m not sure he will go that far because he has a few issues. He tries hard and that’s all I can ask of my team. Win or lose my aim is to bring the best out of them,” Brosnan said.

Brosnan has learnt more than a few things about the intricacies of harness racing over the years both as horseman and administrator.

His career highlights came when he trained and drove Bonnie's Chance to Armalight by seven lengths in the 1982 New Zealand Cup; and his 'drive-of-the-70s' when he weaved No Response through the field to nail the 1979 Interdominion Trotters Final at Addington.

"I've been lucky. There have been a lot more horsemen than me who never got lucky and never got the four horses have been lucky enough to stumble on.

"A lot of trainers never get a No Response, Bonnie’s Chance, 2005 Dominion Handicap Pompallier, and Baltic Eagle, whom we sold. I know what it's like to lose and that makes me realise just how lucky i have been over the years," Brosnan said.

"My two winners on Friday are no stars but they have overcome issues and won. I have worked them out and their own little idiosyncrasies they bring - and to me that is very satisfying and rewarding," said Brosnan who is the Auckland Trotting Owners Chairman.

Brosnan works a team of 18 at his South Auckland stable. His wife Lithuanian-born wife Julija was delighted that his hard work resulted in a happy Friday night for the family.

Their son Son Emmett drove the Geoff Webster trained Rift Valley into third in the Group One $80,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series at Melton's Tabcorp Park.

“I’m just so happy for them both. It is so great Richard get some reward for all his hard work. He's been at the workouts this morning and has only had three-and-a-half hours sleep.

“I think he's like one of those everlasting batteries they advertise on TV” she joked..

Brosnan only needs $293 to equal year’s driving stake earnings of $63,227. His five winners in the sulky are his best since 2008-2009 when he won 10 races and $117,360.

Brosnan’s $117,035 in training earnings (seven wins) this season are the best since 2008/2009 when Brosnan won 10 races and $119,530.

For the record Gintaras is a Lithuanian male (masculine) name.


Duane Ranger

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