Weedons harness racing horseman Mark Smolenski is on a roll right now and he believes the key ingredient is the man in the sulky. That man at Rangiora was veteran reinsman Jim Curtin who pulled off a double for Smolenski with two superlative drives behind Machtavish and Deadly Serious.
A week later at the Reefton Trotting Club's meeting it was the country's leading reinsman Dexter Dunn that guided Awesome Prospect and Tip Your Hat Loi into the winners circle. The son of the legendary Jack Smolenski believes Dexter Dunn possesses a mixture of lethal ingredients that make him the number one reinsman in the country.
"I believe weight is a factor and with Dexter being so light Im quite sure it is an advantage," Smolenski Jnr said. "He's oozes so much confidence right now and it shows, he sits very very still in the cart, his body doesn't move and he just seems to be able to read a race so well. Where some drivers become tense and uptight in the cart, Dexter is the opposite, the horse just seem to run for him," Smolenski added.
The well respected educator of harness racing youngsters isn't about to change tact and take on more racehorses, even given his recent success " You need a back-up plan, we just have a small number of racehorses usually around half a dozen. It gives us something to do during the quiet times, but our main focus is still on the breaking-in and educating and we have about twenty at the moment."
Rangiora winner Machtavish is a horse Smolenski believes is capable of going on with the job. The son ofwas purchased at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales for $27,000, and is raced by Clemence Drilling Ltd. "Everyone that drives him likes him, he's a speed horse and can dash a nice quarter. We'll probably chase a penalty free race with him and just see where he's at then. As a colt he wouldn't put any condition on, but since we've gelded him he's a much better and well-rounded horse."
While Machtavish is looking good to fulfill his promise,gelding Deadly Serious has been rather disappointing throughout his career according to Mark Smolenski. "He works super and probably won his first race too soon, he doesn't possess alot of speed and needs to race close to the pace, and as of yet he really hasn't been able to put the work he does at home onto the racetrack," he said. Raced by Jack Smolenski the win by Deadly Serious was a tonic of good fortune after the former training great was dealt a severe blow with the loss of a quality broodmare and a potential high priced sale filly.
"Our Princess Royal developed a hock infection and had to be put down, while a half sister to Lancome by Bettor's Delight shattered a shoulder and went the same way," Mark Smolenski said. On a brighter note Awesome Prospect appears to be right on top of his game, the son ofwon with a leg in the air for Dexter Dunn at Reefton after going close two days earlier at Westport. "He was a bad gaited horse early on in his career but we discovered he had sore hocks, Dexter thinks he's a pretty smart horse but we haven't been able to sell him yet, he is on the market still and I think he's at least a 30k horse."
While Smolenski doesn't see a massive future fortrotter Tip Your Hat Loi, recent trial winning two year old Kotare Roland is expected to excel. "He got trialled by Jim Curtin on Wednesday (March 16) and it looks as if he's sold for a six figure sum. He's a little more versatile than Kotare Mach was and really lifts off the place. He looks alot like Themightyquinn, he's a very plain leggy horse but has a similar frame. He knows how to find the line, he's got a terrific heart on him this horse."
The sonwas in dazzling form yesterday winning a two year old trial by seven and a half lengths, pacing the 2000m mobile in 2.29.9, the last 800 in 57.7.