Day At The Track

Fairytale continues for Our Uncle Sam

05:07 AM 29 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Our Uncle Sam, harness racing
Our Uncle Sam
Coffee Photography

Bathurst trainer Chris Frisby has had plenty of highs and lows in the sport of harness racing - but he admits a win with Our Uncle Sam in the Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial on Saturday night was more than a little emotional.

"The Shirley Turnbull is the race everyone in Bathurst wants to win because of who the Turnbulls are, and because everyone knew and loved Shirley - it's always a bit of an emotional race and for me this win was a bit of a tear-jerker," Frisby said.

"Shirley was a lovely lady and Tony (legendary Bathurst trainer Anthony Turnbull, who is now 90) was there on Saturday night. I had a bit of a yarn with him before the race - it was just an unforgettable night."

Although Frisby previously won the 2795 metre feature (with Dinki Di 15 years ago) Saturday night's win, courtesy of a super drive by Frisby's son Anthony, was a case of "third time lucky" for Our Uncle Sam (Sportswriter - Rooftop Fairy (Village Jasper).

To watch the video replay click here.

The six-year-old finished a close third in the Shirley Turnbull in 2018 behind Our Triple Play (Brad Hewitt) and came frustratingly close 12 months ago with a 1.6 metre second behind Alta Orlando (Craig Cross).

Frisby's ride with his star pacer Our Uncle Sam has been nothing short of a fairytale.

Chris and Anthony Frisby after their emotional win in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial

The pacer was purchased as a yearling as one of the final two lots at the Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale of 2015 - in Frisby's parlance, "a wormy scrawny, hairy little bastard"!

"But I did like him, the way I do my buying and breeding. I was still there at the end and just threw in a couple of bids, and ended up with him for $3500," he said.

"AD and Shirley's grandson Josh (Turnbull) broke him in, and Josh didn't mind him, and the horse has just kept on improving all the time."

Our Uncle Sam has racked up 22 wins from 94 starts, for a bankroll of $647,000.

"He has been an unbelievable little horse for me - he's been my milking cow!" Frisby joked.

"He's taken me all over the country and to New Zealand and I've met some absolutely brilliant people because of him."

At Group One level, Our Uncle Sam finished runner-up in the 2018 InterDominion and 2019 Hunter Cup behind Tiger Tara, and in 2019 won the Bohemia Crystal free-for-all and Platinum Projex Free For All.

The trophy presentation at the Shirley Turnbull Memorial

The well-travelled pacer, owned by Frisby's wife Judy and Anthony's father-in-law Peter Delaney, is again being set to head south next week.

"It's a lot easier to make some plans now that the authorities are doing the programming again - for a while there I seemed to be easing up on them when I should have been working them and then working them along when there was nothing around," Frisby said.

"But we will head down to Melbourne and stay for a month or so and go to Melton and the Bendigo and Shepparton Cups and see how we go," he said.

"I know the race on Saturday perhaps wasn't quite as strong as it has been in other years, but I'm still pretty happy with where he is at and he's paid for himself to go down now. It's only his third run back this campaign, and he does take a few runs to be at his best.

"I had a lot of trouble with his feet when we went to Queensland earlier in the year. He had a big abscess break out and it's left him missing part of the side of his hoof. I took him to Carl O'Dwyer (Kilmore farrier, trainer and horse-shoe manufacturer) and Carl made him up some special shoes and shod him for me. He's a lovely man and brilliant to watch at work. Sam was okay before I took him to Carl, but he's even better now."

Frisby's southern campaign leaves a team of 17 in work at home, in the capable hands of Anthony and staff Ronnie Jones and Phoebe Betts.

"That will definitely keep them busy because after they finish working ours, they've all got their other jobs to go to. I'm lucky to be able to know they're in good hands, though."

Frisby is also keenly watching the progress of Our Uncle Sam's young full brother, which he purchased at the 2019 yearling sales.

"But we had to pay $30,000 for him! He's a nice sort, though, a hand or so bigger than Sam. He hurt himself and he's just coming back into work now, so we'll wait and see."

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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