Day At The Track

King's whim pays dividends with Leda McNally

10:44 AM 01 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Leda McNally.png
The winning connections of Leda McNally.

A spur of the moment decision by part-time Pinjarra trainer Chris King to telephone Victorian Greg Stubbs almost four years ago, simply on a whim, seeking to lease veteran pacer Flamin Tact, has had far-reaching repercussions.

They had never met, but Stubbs agreed to lease Flamin Tact and they thoroughly enjoyed their first association, with Flamin Tact winning eight races for King and running 16 minor placings for stakes of $113,565.

"I didn't know Greg from a bar of soap, so it has been a great decision," said King.

The liaison led to Stubbs sending Leda McNally to King early last year when Stubbs and trainer Tony Peacock were disappointed with the form of Leda McNally, who had managed just one win (at Cobram in January 2012) and three placings from 15 starts in Victoria and New South Wales for $7818 in prizemoney.

There were no high hopes when Leda McNally arrived at King's stables. However, the mare, now a five-year-old, has exceeded all expectations and she hit the high spot of a Fabulous career when she outclassed her rivals in the $100,000 Make Smoking History Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night to boost her record to 44 starts for 17 wins and eight placings for earnings of $257,308.

Her victory by two and a half lengths over the fast-finishing Famous Alchemist gave the 41-year-old King and 25-year-old reinsman Chris Voak their first success in a group 1 event.

Now King is keenly looking forward to Leda McNally challenging the best mares in the country in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 2 next year.

Stubbs, who travelled to Perth to watch Friday night's race, praised the efforts of King and his partner Barbra Gray, particularly for nursing the mare back to health after she had received serious leg and hoof injuries when she bolted in a paddock after taking fright during an electrical storm earlier this year.

"We sent her over here a couple of years ago as a three-year-old filly who had won one race and now she has won well over $200,000," he said. "Tony Peacock and I bought her as a two-year-old with the intention of selling her. But she couldn't win enough races, so we sent her to Perth, and now the rest is history."

Leda McNally, winner of the $40,000 Norms Daughter Classic the previous week, started from the No. 5 barrier on the front line on Friday night and was favourite at evens. Shannon Suvaljko sent the polemarker Loving You (8/1) straight to the front, but was happy to relinquish the lead when challenged strongly by Leda McNally, who burst to the front after only 250m.

Voak then was able to get Leda McNally to relax and the mare strolled through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.3sec. and the next quarter in 29.3sec. before covering the next two quarters in 28.8sec. and 29.3sec. Leda McNally rated 1.57.6 over the 2130m journey and Voak produced a triumphant salute over the final 25m.

Famous Alchemist (22/1) surged home from tenth at the bell to be second, with 12/1 chance Sensational Gabby, last in the middle stages, sustaining a strong burst to finish third, a head in front of 5/2 second fancy Bettor Cover Lover, who raced in the breeze over the final 1050m and fought on gamely.

Voak said that he did not expect to find the lead so easily. "There were a lot of rumours going around earlier in the week that Loving You was going to lead from the pole," he said. "I had done a lot of track work for Tilley (Loving You's trainer Peter Tilbrook) a year or so ago and I knew deep down in my heart that he is not that sort of operator. He knows the class of his horse, so I think that the talk of Loving You holding the lead was just a bit of bluff."

RED SALUTE SHINES AND GIVES OLIVIERI A TREBLE

Noted frontrunner Red Salute made the most of the prized No. 1 barrier when he bounced back to top form and ended a losing sequence of nine with a bold frontrunning display to win the $25,000 The Kersley final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This completed a treble for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who had been successful earlier in the program with Imtheguy and Lord Coburn. It was also the first leg of a driving double for Chris Voak, who was successful in the following event with Leda McNally.

Red Salute had started from the back line in four of his six starts since resuming from a spell and had drawn out wide in the other two starts. His prospects on Friday night soared after he drew the No. 1 barrier. He was a 5/1 chance and Voak sent him straight to the front and was able dawdle through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.2sec. before dashing over the next quarters in 29.5sec., 28.8sec. and 28.5sec.

He went on to win at a 1.57.4 rate by a half-length from 27/1 chance Code Red, who sustained a powerful finishing burst from eighth in the middle stages. El Machine, favourite at 5/4, raced in the one-out, two-back position before starting a three-wide move with 1100m to travel. He fought on doggedly to be third, a half-length behind Code Red.

"He's now had the ks (kilometres) in his legs and his two previous starts (for two thirds) were an improvement," Voak said. "He was probably found wanting over the final 50m at his previous start, but Ross has now got him back to somewhere where he needs to be.

"He is going to improve, no problem, and can reach the potential that everyone involved with the horse thinks he can get to. His real ability lies in the 250m kick he's got."

Red Salute, winner of the group 2 Binshaw Classic last February, is raced by his breeder Jeanine Diederich, Denise Trobe, Adrian Staltari and Tony Jones and has earned $122,189 from 12 wins and nine placings from 40 starts. By Life Sign, he is the fourth foal out of the New South Wales-bred mare Gold Stature, who had 74 starts for 14 wins, 28 placings and $61,562.

LIVINGONTHEINTEREST LEVELS THE SCORE WITH HOKONUI BEN

Lightly-raced six-year-old Livingontheinterest, beaten into fifth place behind Hokonui Ben last Friday week, turned the tables on his stablemate when he enjoyed a perfect passage, one-out and one-back, and sprinted home strongly to win by 4m from Hokonui Ben in the Quitline Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This levelled the score between the geldings, who are trained by Gary Hall sen. They have met 12 times, with each winning three times and each finishing ahead of the other three times in the other six events.

Hokonui Ben, favourite at 2/1 on and driven by Clint Hall, bowled along in front, but was found wanting in the closing stages over the 2536m journey. Kim Prentice got Livingontheinterest, second favourite at 8/1, away smartly from barrier three and the gelding raced without cover for the first 300m before Shardons Rocket moved to the breeze.

Prentice bided his time before bringing Livingontheinterest home with a well-timed burst, which saw the New Zealand-bred gelding hit the front 100m from the post. The final 400m was covered in a moderate 29.2sec. after the two previous quarters had whizzed by in 28.8sec. and 28.7sec. Shardons Rocket held on well to be third, with Dasher VC (12/1) running home solidly, three wide, from tenth at the bell.

Livingontheinterest, a winner at seven of his 15 starts in New Zealand, won at first seven starts in WA and now his 20 starts in the State have produced 11 wins and two placings to take his earnings to $198,465.

"He has been going good, but just hasn't had the right draw," Prentice said. "They ran really good time tonight and he had a beautiful sit just in behind them. He found the line really well. Last week (when fifth behind Hokonui Ben) he didn't pace as well as he did tonight. But Gary has put the polish on him during the week and he has come up trumps."

NORTHERN ASSASSIN EARNS A START IN THE GOLDEN NUGGET

Busselton trainer Peter Bell will have a runner in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship next Friday night after Northern Assassin set the pace and scored a narrow victory over Northview Punter in the Smoke Free Nugget Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Punters declared Northern Assassin a good thing after he had drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and the stallion was sent out hot favourite at 6/4 on. Matt White sent Northern Assassin straight to the front and after easy first quarters of the final mile in 31.4sec. and 30.7sec., he gave the opposition something to chase after a third quarter in 29.2sec. and a sizzling final 400m in 27.4sec.

Northview Punter (13/2) moved to the breeze 650m after the start and got on terms with the pacemaker 450m from home. He fought on grandly and was beaten only by a metre. Erskine Range (8/1) sat behind the leader and fought on to be two lengths farther back in third place.

Northern Assassin, making only his fourth appearance at Gloucester Park, rated 1.58.2 and took his record to 16 starts for six wins, six placings and $43,833 in stakes. He is the first foal out of the unraced Parsons Den mare Let It Rock and is related on the dam's side to former top-flight performer Buck the Odds (121 starts for 31 wins, 29 placings and $307,547).

"It was a bit of a worry early, not knowing how much gate speed he had," said White. "But we were able to hold the top and he got it pretty easy early and he kicked home good. Pete's done a great job with him and I think he's got a bit of bottom to him. He keeps giving and he's a high cruising sort of horse."

PUNTERS DISREGARD KHUN RATHA AFTER NARROW FIRST-UP DEFEAT

Promising three-year-old Khun Ratha resumed after a spell at Harvey last Tuesday week and was a warm 6/4 favourite who set the pace and was beaten a nose in the final stride by Live Life Fast. However, punters abandoned him and he was a 24/1 outsider in the 1730m Thank You For Not Smoking Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Most punters pinned their faith in last-start winners and stablemates Black Mr Mach (evens) and Offtocullect (10/9).

But Khun Ratha, trained at Capel by Andrew De Campo and driven by his son Aiden, enjoyed the perfect one-out, one-back trail before sprinting home on the rain-soaked track to burst to the front in the final 30m and beat the pacemaker Black Mr Mach by a half-length, with Modigliani (15/1) a fast0-finishing third.

Offtocullect, who started from the outside barrier in the field of seven, raced greenly at the rear and did not threaten danger before finishing in fifth place. A fierce downpour flooded the track and Khun Ratha did well to sprint over the final 800m in 57.6sec. He rated 1.59.7 and boosted his earnings to $17,513 from two wins and two placings from six starts.

Khun Ratha, bred by his owner Paul Poli, is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Calafia, who won at seven of her 21 WA starts and was retired after racing 43 times for eight wins and ten placings for $43,303 in prizemoney.

JOHNS TARGETS THE TROTTERS CUP WITH Earl HARBOUR

Waroona trainer-reinsman Nigel Johns is setting Earl Harbour for the $30,000 Trotters Cup in January after the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old scored a stylish win in the Breathe Easier Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

After praising the gelding for having perfect manners, Johns said that Earl Harbour was on track to win more races in Western Australia. "He will be set for the Trotters Cup and if he lobs handy he's a chance in any race here," he said. Johns won the 2009 Trotters Cup with Compressor.

Earl Harbour ended a losing sequence of 14 (including eight minor placings) when he started at 16/1 and enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before dashing to the front on the home turn and winning by just under two lengths from 61/1 chance Keepyaguardup, with a further 8m to 5/4 on favourite Prince Eddie.

Owned by Christine Germain, tote manager at Pinjarra Paceway and a sister of Johns' partner Deb Woodley, Earl Harbour was a consistent performer in Victoria and now has had 94 starts for nine wins, 30 placings and $90,027 in prizemoney.

Earl Harbour has impressed at his four WA starts which have produced a win and two placings. "He is by Canadian sire Earl, like his stablemate All Flair," Johns said. "And he has got good manners, which are a bit better than the trotters by Sundon, even though I love the trotters by Sundon because they're brilliant horses, but are a bit fizzy.

"Tonight's race was set up for Earl Harbour. He lobbed handy and there was a fair bit of speed, and I was just sitting there. He always performed well in Victoria against the good trotters and I think he will go a fair way here. I didn't even pull the plugs."

OHOKA COURAGE GIVES HARPER PLENTY OF REASON TO SMILE

Young reinsman Kyle Harper seized the opportunity to drive Ohoka Courage for the first time when he brought the seven-year-old home with a powerful burst to score an easy victory in the Quit Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Harper was delighted when Forrestdale trainer Jarrad Humphries offered him the drive. He had taken special notice of the gelding at his previous start, at Northam last Tuesday week, when he surged past his pacer Springsteen to win a 2560m stand in fine style.

"I have plenty of respect for Springsteen and I sat up and took notice of Ohoka Courage when he went past us at Northam," Harper said. "I was confident of winning tonight when the pace went on early. I was just sitting back and having a giggle. Ohoka Courage had plenty in reserve at the finish; he only does what he has to."

Ohoka Courage started at 8/1 from barrier three on the back line in the 2130m event and raced in sixth position in the one-wide line while Herbies Dream set the early pace, with Captain Proud overracing in the breeze.

Captain Proud pulled his way to the front 1300m from home and the second quarter of the final mile was covered in a slick 28.6sec. Mister Roberto, who raced in the one-out, one-back position, dashed to the front leaving the back straight in the final circuit while the 7/4 favourite Jay Bees Grin was badly blocked for a clear passage in the ruck.

Harper timed Ohoka Courage's finishing burst to perfection and the gelding swept to the front in the final 100m to win convincingly at a 1.57.7 rate. Jay Bees Grin, who had been eased off the pegs by Colin Brown about 600m from home, got into a bad traffic jam and did not obtain a clear run until late --- when he rattled home to be a most unlucky third.

Ohoka Courage has had 49 starts for 11 wins, 15 placings and stakes of $63,745. It was his third win from eight WA starts after winning four races in New Zealand and another four in Victoria. Ohoka Courage is a half-brother to Ohoka Dallas, who has earned $350,661 from 15 wins and 20 placings from 102 starts.

IMTHEGUY RELISHES THE No. 1 BARRIER TO END LOSING RUN OF 11

Victorian-bred and Adelaide-owned pacer Imtheguy made the most of drawing the prized No. 1 barrier when Chris Lewis drove the five-year-old to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Make Smoking History Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Imtheguy, a heavily-supported 5/4 on favourite gave Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri the first leg of a treble and Lewis the first leg of a double when he dashed over the final 400m in 28.9sec. and held on to beat the 7/2 second favourite Heez Orl Black by a metre at a 1.56.6 rate.

Imtheguy, owned by Mary Harding and Richard Noble, had put the writing on the wall with a very close second to Rakatup at his previous start, ended a losing sequence of 11 and looks capable of further city successes.

Imtheguy won at four of his five starts in South Australia and at three of his nine appearances in Victoria before being sent to Western Australia where he has had 17 starts for two wins and five placings. He has earned $46,534 from nine wins and nine placings from 31 starts. He is out of the unraced Village Jasper mare Its All About Rose and is related on his dam's side to former star mare Jasmarilla, who had 213 starts in the 1980s for 50 wins, 68 placings and $503,000 in prizemoney.

SANJAYA IS CLAIMED BEFORE LEADING AND WINNING

There was plenty of activity before the Mick's Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when eight claims, all of $10,000, were lodged.

Serpentine trainer-reinsman Chris Brew claimed Sanjaya, who started favourite at 6/4 on from the No. 1 barrier and set a brisk pace before winning by a length from stablemate This Time Dylan (7/2), with Marooned (11/2) finishing third after trailing the pacemaker throughout.

Sanjaya, trained by Gary Hall sen., was driven aggressively by his son Clint and he gave his rivals little chance by speeding over the final four 400m sections of the final mile in 29.5sec., 28.9sec., 28.9sec. and 28.3sec. He rated 1.55 over the 1730m and took his record to 68 starts for 13 wins and 20 placings for stakes of $90,799.

Sanjaya ended a losing sequence of seven and improved his WA record to 18 starts for three wins and four placings. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old won four times in New South Wales and another four times in Queensland before arriving in WA.

Arnoux, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old trained by Hall sen., was claimed by Adam Jones of Treendale and there were six claims lodged for Marooned, a seven-year-old trained by Michael Brennan. The successful claimant was Gary Scott.

LORD COBURN WINS EASILY AFTER AN EARLY SCARE

Victorian-bred six-year-old Lord Coburn, the heavily-supported 6/4 on favourite, gave his backers a scare when he galloped for a couple of strides at the start of the Fresh Air Handicap, a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

But Chris Lewis quickly got him into his pacing gait and after a spirited battle with the polemarker To Transcend, Lord Coburn forged to the front after 300m and gave a strong frontrunning display before winning by two lengths from outsider Anvils Big Punt, with a nose to To Transcend in third place.

"I was happy once he got to the front," said Lewis. "We had done a bit of work, but I was still feeling confident. He finished the race off well."

Lord Coburn, who is owned by a group of Mildura folk, Christopher Clohesy, Louise Tarrant, Richard and Daniel Tankard, William Robinson and Ian Watson, has had seven starts in WA for trainer Ross Olivieri for two wins and three placings. He has now earned $78,780 from 12 wins and 13 placings from 45 starts. By American stallion Grinfromeartoear, Lord Coburn is out of former outstanding New Zealand-bred mare Posh Jaccka, who had 132 starts for 29 wins and 43 placings for stakes of $331,155.

STEWARDS SUSPEND VOAK FOR 11 DAYS

Outstanding young reinsman Chris Voak has been suspended from driving for 11 days for causing interference in a race at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing severe interference to Aldebaran Swannee at the winning post, just after the start of the European Prestige Handicap, a 2503m stand. He was driving Art In Your Face, who began speedily from the outside of the front line and burst to the front on the first turn before setting the pace and finishing second to Cometao.

The stewards took into account Voak's guilty plea and his excellent driving record and they reduced a 19-day penalty to 11 days. Voak had driven in 910 races and had not been suspended since his previous suspension last January.

Clint Hall started serving a 35-day suspension at midnight on Friday night. He was suspended for 21 days for his incorrect whip action when driving Famous Alchemist into second place behind Leda McNally in the $100,000 Mares Classic. This suspension was added to a 14-day penalty for an incorrect whip action when driving Waylade in a race at Bunbury the previous Saturday night.

Brett Smith was suspended for 17 days for causing interference in the Kersley final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He drove Menelaus of Sparta, who checked The Feather Foot soon after the start.

Nathan Turvey was suspended on Friday night for ten days for causing interference with Sonic Classic in the Quit Pathway Pace. Luke Edwards received a 16-day suspension for causing interference in a race at Northam last Tuesday and Stuart McDonald was suspended for four weeks for an unacceptable drive behind Celtic Crusader in a race at Narrogin on November 21. Celtic Crusader finished second to Pure Empathy.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing severe interference to Sachin Arden (Shannon Suvaljko) at the winning post, just after the start of the European Prestige Handicap, a 2503m stand. He was driving Art In Your Face, who began speedily from the outside of the front line and burst to the front on the first turn before setting the pace and finishing second to Cometao.

by Ken Casellas

 

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