Day At The Track

Memorable feature double for Dean

04:00 PM 18 Jul 2019 NZST
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Noah Braun
Recent Kilmore winner The Charging Moa has a big fan in nine-year-old Noah Braun

While highly regarded harness racing trainer Dean Braun is closing in on a sensational milestone of 850 winners (and career earnings topping $7.6M), it was two recent wins that he will always hold close to his heart.

Braun, based at the small town of Lara, 18 kms north east of Geelong, scooped the two feature events at Kilmore - the $14,000 Vin Knight Memorial Pace and then the $24,000 Popular Alm Sprint.

"I was only a kid, but Vin Knight was a freak horseman during his time. There probably hasn't been any better than him since," Braun said.

"Everyone in the sport just had to watch him in action; he was flamboyant, a huge drawcard. But most of us maybe didn't really appreciate just how good he was. Vin was a man before his time."

(The inimitable Vin Knight drove his first winner at Kilmore on July 6, 1970, two months after his 16th birthday. During the following two decades he landed an amazing 721 metro winners as well as hundreds of country victories and drove in 10 consecutive Interdominion grand finals. But tragically, at the height of his career, Knight took his own life in April 1991, aged just 36.)

Braun said it was a great honor to win the Vin Knight Memorial Pace with bay mare The Charging Moa (Changeover-Special Ops (Armbro Operative) driven by Kate Gath.

To watch the replay of this race click on this link.

"The mare caught my eye when I was up in Queensland about eight months ago and my partner Pauline McColgan bought her. The horse got travel sickness coming down here, so we were forced to give her break," he said.

"It might have been a blessing though, because she returned to racing in brilliant form. She won first-up at Melton in mid-April then had no luck whatsoever in some of her recent races, so I was quite surprised that she was $29 when she won the Vin Knight feature."

Braun said while he was a huge admirer of Knight, he was also in awe of former pacing great Popular Alm (1976-2000), and equally proud to capture the feature named in his honor with Ana Malak (Bettors Delight-Anna Livia).

"I have been lucky to have won the Popular Alm Sprint previously, but it means a lot because we all marvelled over his racetrack performances," he said.

Popular Alm, or "Poppy" as he was affectionately known, won 49 races from 62 starts. He was part owned by a group of Mildura friends including Don Carrazza, John Green, Ken Grivec, Maurice Kasses and Greg Pardo.

While punters let The Charging Moa slip under their guard, there were no such oversights regarding Ana Malak. The brown horse, sent out a $1.50 favorite, was driven by Greg Sugars.

"Greg and Skye Bond initially sent Ana Malak over because the WA handicapping system wasn't all that suitable," Braun said.

"The horse was getting better and better through racing consistently against the stronger ones here, but I always knew he would go back home at some stage," he said.

"That was his last run for me this campaign. I would have loved to have held onto him because he was a like a motorcar when he was at the front end."

To watch the video replay of this race click on this link.

Braun has raced boutique teams since he started training over 20 years ago and has found a handy niche in continually turning over his stable representatives.

"We buy horses, race them and when the time is right, move them onto the States," Braun said.

"I'm always on the lookout for horses in Australia and New Zealand. The sport in North America is flourishing at the moment, and I'm only too happy to be part of that," he said.

"We had Shartin (TinTin In America-Bagdarin) for 13 starts (7 wins) and she has won $1.8M in USA, and recently became the first pacing mare to earn $1M in a season."

Braun is also kept busy helping Pauline at their Melton Saddlery business.

"She works hard, so I do whatever I can there. Besides we are in a perfect position of having a fantastic stable foreman in Amanda Grieve," he said.

"I was actually in Sydney for the Breeders series around the time of our that Kilmore double, so much of the credit must go to Amanda. She really does a top job."

Braun only has a small team at present, but continues to stamp his authority with 29 wins and 23 placings from 88 starters this season.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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