Day At The Track

Demmler hoping for something to Smile about

02:00 PM 03 Jul 2020 NZST
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Smile Lyle,Harness racing
Smile Lyle
Stuart McCormick photo

Craig Demmler and Jodi Quinlan will unleash team naughty and nice at Ballarat tonight hopeful a testing trio can bring some success.

Demmler will steer Quinlan-trained horse Sportzscribe and Quinlan will steer Demmler-trained pair Fleetwood Rock and Smile Lyle, a somewhat unusual double act that Demmler said had a simple explanation.

“I just drive the ones that are a bit naughty and the ones that aren’t naughty she drives,” he said. “With the injuries she’s had over time they start to catch up with you a little bit. Sportzscribe has always been one of those horses – he can pull a bit.”

Otherwise they take advantage of Quinlan’s lighter weight in the sulky, a sometimes challenged assertion but not for Demmler.

“No doubt it is massive,” he said. “Some agree and some disagree, but I know it’s a big plus.

“I’m a big believer in the affect of weight in the cart now. All these young people coming through are light and I know Gav (Lang) was always big on his weight and watching what he ate.”

They’ll be hopeful of finding the winning formula at Bray Raceway tonight.

Of the trio Demmler's associated with he says Sportzscribe is the most likely winning chance ahead of Smile Lyle and Fleetwood Rock, so let’s tackle them in that order.

Sportzscribe steps out of gate five in the Nextra Wendouree Pace, the lightly-raced Sportswriter four-year-old gelding has only competed twice in the past 11 months, a win at Melton on April 22 and then a fifth placing on June 20.

“I got told by the trainer (Quinlan) I got lost last start, I probably went a bit earlier than I wanted too,” Demmler said.

He said the four-time winner was at his best as a sit-sprinter, “but he can get off the gate”.

“I will come out forward and make a decision,” he said. “He is pretty quick away when you want him to be, but you have to be careful because he can get pulling.”

Marked a $4.50 chance by Good Form analyst Blake Redden, Sportzscribe is out of Bettor Abs, a three-time winner and half-sister to Our Awesome Armbro ($849,309). Demmler’s optimistic he’s a metropolitan class horse.

“I thought that he would get to Melton, he’s had a few little setbacks and bad manners have let him down a little,” he said. “I think he should be able to go to town and win a M0 for sure.”

Smile Lyle steps out in the last of the night – the TAB Long May We Play Pace – fresh from a short spell dating back to May 4.

Demmler believes the time away has been beneficial.

“The freshen up has worked pretty good, because his attitude has changed a bit since he’s been back,” Demmler said. “He trialled all right the other day and his work has been good since. A couple can go all right in it (the race), but they will know he’s there.”

And finally there’s Fleetwood Rock, perhaps the one who’s given Demmler most consternation because he’s so invested, not only being the trainer but also the owner.

“I paid a lot for him at the sales, probably overs, but I really liked him,” he said. “I didn’t pick him out in the book, but just kept walking past him and really liked him. He is a half to Concealment, a beautiful horse.

“He unfortunately got his leg caught in a fence and did a bit of damage and we are lucky to still have him.”

A three-year-old, Fleetwood Rock won on debut and has since placed twice in his following 10 starts, most recently being luckless at Melton and before that struggling for a run at tonight’s venue.

“He was a bit unlucky at Ballarat, Jodi thought if she had have got through he could have won.

“Drawn seven is difficult (tonight). I don’t mind him, but he’s no star. He’s got to improve to take on the good horses.”

Demmler will then return to Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow with a hand in four starters including My Kiwi Mate in the Melton City Council Sprint, a race certain to draw plenty of eyes for the presence of Ride High.

“It’s been a long time since (My Kiwi Mate) last won. He had the Inter Dominion, then a spell, then his first couple of runs back were not too bad,” Demmler said.

“He was disappointing last start,” when he finished third but 30 metres in arrears of Ride High. “It had been a month between runs and the more racing he has the better he is. I expect him to go better than last start.”

Having said that, threatening Ride High was another matter altogether.

“He’s freakish. For Clayton (Tonkin) to say he’s the best horse he’s trained … he’s had some really good horses.

“When Kima didn’t move and for him to beat the caliber of horses like that, no doubt he is freakish.

“It didn’t give me a thrill driving against him but watching it back it does – it reminds me of the old Poppy days.”


HRV - Michael Howard

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