Day At The Track

Fairy tale ending

09:30 AM 08 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Sean McCaffrey salutes
HRNZ photo

Sean McCaffrey described his last drive at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Tuesday) as one of his most satisfying.

The 57-year-old, who leaves for Australia this month to work at Yabby Dam Farms in Ballarat, won the $6,000 Sean McCaffrey Farewell Mobile for the R50 to R57 pacers behind the Ross Paynter trained Lambros.

McCaffrey and Paynter were training partners up until this month. It was Lambros's third win in 20 starts and his second on the track. He was the $19.60 sixth favourite.

“This feels pretty special. One of my more satisfying wins you could say. It’s a great way to bow out all right. I’ve lived in Cambridge for 50 years and this is a special way to say goodbye,” McCaffrey said in the winner’s circle immediately after the race.

“The horse went super. I’m delighted for Ross,” he added.

McCaffrey and Lambros led from gate two and stayed there throughout. As they crossed the finishing the line, McCaffrey gave the small crowd a big assertive army-like salute.

“Did you like that? That was the last salute,” he joked.

The R52-rated Lambros paced the 2200m mobile in 2:43.3 (mile rate 1:59.4) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 60.8 and 29.5.

The brown Bettor's Delight 3-year-old gelding had two-and-a-half lengths and half a head to spare over Are You Ready Girl (David Butcher) and Tact Ollie (Peter Ferguson).

“He’s been unlucky in his last few races and if I ever wanted to win behind him, it was today. He felt real good and hopefully it won’t be his last for Ross,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey has lived in Cambridge for 50 years and will be farm manager at Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms.

“I went to the Sales with Pat last September and built up a good rapport with him. Then not long ago he asked me if I wanted to relocate to his magnificent farm and after some thought my wife, Joanne, and I agreed to move,” said McCaffrey.

Meanwhile, Thames trainer Paul Springall believed one-on-one training was the secret behind The Last Gamble’s sudden form reversal following the 4-year-old mare’s third consecutive win in his colours at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Tuesday).

The trotter than finished 100 lengths last at the Thames meeting on January 21 has now won at Cambridge Raceway twice (also February 16), and New Plymouth (March 2)

“Jay (Abernethy) knew I was on the lookout for a trotter and he gave her to me at our Thames meeting. I haven’t even had her for two months and already she’s developing into one of the best horses I have trained,” Springall said.

“Tender loving care, the big Thames track and good tucker I think are some of the reasons why she has thrived,” he added.

The Last Gamble simply out-stayed her seven opponents in yesterday’s $7,000 Garrard's Horse & Hound Handicap for the $9 and faster trot.

Driven by Arna Donnelly for the first time, the Great Success mare trotted the 2700m stand in 3:32.9 (mile rate 2:06.8) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.9 and 30.8. She was the $8.20 fourth favourite.

"I think she appreciates working on a big track compared to say amongst other horses in a big team. She really enjoys her work and can do eight rounds of the Thames track at good speed.

“That’s why I thought she might out-stay them today. She has quite a bit of stamina and can grind her opposition down if she gets her own way,” Springall said.

Donnelly agreed.

“That was a great pick-up drive. All I had to do was just sit there and steer really. She did the rest. A real armchair drive,” the modest Cambridge horsewoman said.

The Last Gamble was disqualified from her first three starts last October because of branding issues when racing under a different name.

But Abernethy said he was now delighted for Springall.

“We had trouble getting her to go away and we did a few saddle trots with her. I always liked her and I thought she might thrive on a change of scenery. Good on Paul. I hope he gets a few more wins out of her too,” Abernethy said.

Duane Ranger

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