Day At The Track

Donna Castles hoping Sofala can salute

07:13 PM 01 May 2019 NZST
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Few victories could be sweeter for Donna Castles than slashing to the line behind her pride and joy in colours that carry a cause close to her heart.

That is the scenario about which the trainer-driver barely dares to dream at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night, when she will steer Sofala in the $30,000 Country Clubs Championship final while wearing pink silk pants to take the fight to breast cancer.

Castles – the driving force behind the Community Pink Ladies Day, an annual fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation at Cobram Harness Racing Club on May 26 – said she was thrilled with Sofala’s sprint lane victory in the third heat of the championship at Maryborough on Monday.

“He probably wasn’t entitled to actually catch (odds-on favourite Jilliby Chevy) when they walked and did a nice last half,” Castles said. “But he went super.”

Castles said the final would be “tricky” after Sofala drew the widest front row gate, directly outside Jilliby Chevy.

“We are going to just see where we land and put it all together and see how it all plays out – a bit like (the heat) really, we didn’t think we would be leader’s back,” she said.

“That’s the closest I think he has ever been in the running in his career, apart from the front or the death.”

She said Sofala, who has won nine of his 24 starts, was still learning the racing caper.

“He’s green (and) has gone through his grades really quickly without actually learning how to race,” she said.

“Up in (this) grade it is pretty hard to teach him how to race or be tractable or push him between runners or get on the fence because he never really got to do that.”

Castles said the Safari five-year-old gelding was “like a big kid learning how to run”.

“Every time he goes out he takes another step,” she said.

“(In the heat) he was a bit of a handful but he’s got to learn. He has never been in that position before.”

She said Sofala’s learning curve made it hard to predict where he’d end up.

“The owner (Greg Corbett) has eyes on him going probably to the country cups and things like that, but (the horse will) tell us – he will keep progressing and, as he does, we will just work around him and take him to races that suit where he is at the time,” she said.

It presents as the start of a big month for Castles ahead of the May 26 Community Pink Ladies Day at Cobram, with Castles saying the pink silk pants – which some female drivers will wear throughout May – are a great way to raise to raise awareness of breast cancer and the McGrath Foundation.

Castles, who will don the pants in the opening two races at Echuca tomorrow night, said all reinswomen who do the same would have McGrath Foundation raffle tickets available for people to buy.

“It is quite funny because people in the pubs come up with the comment ‘why are those girls in pink’ and it becomes a talking point,” she said. “It is a great way to get it out there.”


Shaun Campbell

HRV Trots Media

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