Day At The Track

Moment of truth for Thereugo

04:50 PM 17 Aug 2017 NZST
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Thereugo
Photo Jodie Hallows

It’s a classic case of tearing out your hair and then curling the mo. That’s the rollercoaster ride of Oldbury horseman Donald Harper with pint-sized gelding Thereugo, the first pacer he has bred.

Four-year-old Thereugo, a handful as a two-year-old, has blossomed recently, revealing dazzling gate speed and winning at five of his past six starts and at Gloucester Park on Friday night he faces a moment of truth when he clashes with the brilliant Nathans Courage in the third qualifying heat of the Schrader Pace.

Thereugo is raced by Harper’s octogenarian grandfather Don Harper, who played 11 league matches for Claremont in 1952 and 1953 as a hard-nut half-forward flanker and rover. He went on to become a successful trainer-reinsman, whose successes included winning the 1959 Country Derby and WA Derby at Gloucester Park with Pauls Gift.

Thereugo, by American-bred sire McArdle, is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Janice Franco, who had 110 starts for eight wins, 19 placings and stakes of $76,782. “I was driving for Tracey Reed about seven or eight years ago and she was training Janice Franco,” Donald Harper said.

“Janice Franco then came up for sale and I bought her for $10,000 and won a couple of races with her. Her first foal was Thereugo, who gave me quite a few problems as a youngster. I was pulling my hair out a bit with him; he was just pulling so hard. He was running good times on the track, but I couldn’t get him to sit up and kick home.”

It was then that Harper decided to give Thereugo to his younger brother Kyle to train in a hope that he could cure the pacer’s problems. “I had a few in work and giving him to Kyle seemed an easy option at the time.

“He’s inherited his speed from McArdle and he’s definitely toughened up as he’s got older. He still doesn’t look like a four-year-old; he looks more like a three-year-old. The whole way through he’s been six months behind; as a two-year-old he was smaller than all the others.

“He has drawn barrier five on Friday night and I think he’ll probably find the front. If he does, I think he can win. I know he can rate around 1.56 over 2130m.”

Thereugo improved his record to ten wins and two thirds from 24 starts for earnings of $55,790 when he started from the outside barrier (No. 9) and raced three and four wide early before bursting to the front after 500m and setting a brisk pace and winning easily from Debt Free Charlie and Abraxas Blues over 2130m last Friday night. That followed all-the-way wins from barriers five and seven at his two previous outings.

The appearance of Nathans Courage, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from barrier seven, will be one of the highlights of the ten-event program. The four-year-old, who has won at 11 of his 25 starts, has not raced since he led from the No. 4 barrier and won the 1730m Nights of Thunder from American Boy and Bettor Offer at a 1.53.4 rate at Gloucester Park on January 13 this year.

He had given a sample of his class and wonderful potential in December when second to Mr Mojito in the Four-Year-Old Championship and second to Soho Tribeca in the Golden Nugget.

Trainer Michael Brennan is looking forward to another exciting and successful campaign from Nathans Courage and he said that he is confident of a strong first-pup performance after the gelding had led and finished a half-head second to Smokey The Bandit in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Sunday week, rating 1.57 after final quarters of 27.3sec. and 28sec.

Gary Hall jun. has given punters a good lead in this event by choosing to drive Overboard Again in preference to stablemates Ideal Justice and Campora, who will be handled by Clint Hall and Lauren Jones, respectively.

Overboard Again, a winner at nine of his 23 starts, will start out wide at barrier eight, but is capable of a bold showing.


Ken Casellas

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