Hagar's horrible draw makes it tough

01:27 AM 06 May 2009 NZST
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Moonee Valley
Moonee Valley - 2nd March 2004

New South Wales trainer Mark Hagar was on cloud nine after the effort of his four year old mare And May I Say when she finished third behind Staccato in the semi finals of the Vicbred Super Series last Friday night at Moonee Valley but barrier eleven in the group one final has brought the Old Junee horseman crashing back to earth.

The daughter of Troublemaker has only failed to finish in the top three once this season and despite plans to head to the paddock immediately after Friday night's run, Hagar is hoping she can continue to show her fighting qualities.

"She's had a really good season and I was having a look at her record the other night, she has had twenty one starts and hasn't really had a long break in between any of those runs" Hagar said.

"Win, lose or draw she will be in the paddock on Saturday afternoon."

And May I Say was only beaten five metres in her semi and Hagar was pleased with the mare's performance.

"I watched the video of the other night a few times and she had to do some hard work early and other horses behind her never made much ground and she didn't lose any ground on the leaders either."

"She hummed the gate really well and I didn't have any hesitation in putting her into the race."

As the mares turned for home, Hagar thought And May I Say might spring an upset as she loomed up to race past race favourite and leader Sophie Pass and the eventual winner Staccato.

"I gave myself a hope of running the leaders down for fifty or sixty yards, I thought Staccato would be the one to beat because she had the soft run behind the leader."

"Halfway up the straight I thought we might get second but the last fifty metres she had peaked on her run, probably because I used her up so early."

Hagar started And May I Say for the first time in June last year and in the space of eleven months the mare has won eleven races and won more than $36,000.

"As a late two year old she had a fair bit of speed and she was a big tall filly."

"I have had a few by Troublemaker in the past and they've gone amiss because we have raced them too early, so keeping that in mind we just stuck her in the paddock and waited until the last three weeks of her three year old season before we took her to the races."

Hagar's patience has been rewarded with results and the mare's biggest win came at Dubbo when she won the Furney's Town and Country Pacing Cup for C1-C3 pacers on Easter Saturday. And May I Say demolished her rivals revelling in the wet conditions.

"The win at Dubbo was a good one and it didn't affect her at all on the sloppy track."

"Once she was in front that night, even though the track was slushy on top it was reasonably solid underneath and she did it pretty easily and I wasn't forced to bust her or anything so she pulled up pretty well after that."

Another talented mare that Hagar raced was Stylishprincess. She retired in 2006 having won twenty six races and more than $100,000.

"Stylishprincess was a good mare and my current mare has more high speed than she did but I wouldn't say she's better than Stylishprincess at this stage although she's right there with her."

Will history repeat for the king?

Sydney's pin-up juvenile Chariot King is attempting to become the fourth horse to carry saddlecloth number five to victory in the two year old colts and geldings Australian Pacing Gold Final at Albion Park. While the series has been running since 1991, Queensland's premier harness racing venue has only hosted the final on six occasions with winners Masked Crusader, Burling Game and Lombo Pocket Watch all carrying the same number.

Chariot King became Australia's fastest two year old this season when he scorched around the Albion Park circuit in a mile rate of 1:55.0 last week and trainer John Tapp believes his youngster has come through the race very well.

"He was as bright as a button on Sunday after the race, he had a light jog, trotted out freely and looked super" Tapp said.

"At dawn on Monday morning he was pig-rooting in his yard so the run didn't do him any harm."

"I have to be honest, I didn't think he had a 1:55.0 win in him, mind you Albion Park is a speedway and it was obvious all night long that the track had been prepared for the occasion and they did go quickly right throughout the night."

Saturday night will be the third time that Chariot King has competed in a group race this year and while Tapp understands it is a heavy workload for the gelding, the riches on offer are very enticing.

"Prizemoney for juvenile racing in harness racing is so lucrative that if you have a nice two year old you really have to aim them at those races but the secret with Chariot King has been the short little breaks right throughout the season that he has had."

Chariot King has won more than $87,000 and can add another $150,000 to the tally should he be victorious on Saturday night. Owner Peter Welsh has already made a handy profit after purchasing the son of Badlands Hanover at the yearling sales.

"Peter went to the Australian Pacing Gold Sales and he purchased a lovely colt out of a mare called Queen Xena, who is the representative of a very good Australian family and that's how Peter came to buy Chariot King and he only paid $27,000 for him."

The other NSW representative in the field also fared well at the barrier draw with the Felicity Gallagher trained Cuttheattitude drawing barrier two. The son of Modern Art won a heat in Sydney before running a gallant third to Jorg Is Best in the second round of heats last Saturday. Cuttheattitude finished second behind Chariot King in the Bathurst Gold Crown two months ago.

The Australian Pacing Gold Final will start at 7:40pm and is race five on the Albion Park programme.

Amber LOVELOCK

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