Day At The Track

No holding back for Mario!

10:00 AM 01 Jul 2020 NZST
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Mario Attard with Don't Hold Back,Harness racing
Mario Attard with Don't Hold Back after his win at Melton last Saturday night
Stuart McCormick photo

Over the years, Melbourne harness racing trainer-driver Mario Attard has tried his hand successfully at a number of business pursuits, but horses have always been in the background.

Attard, based at Rockbank, just minutes away from Tabcorp Park, Melton, now admits that he's fully focused on his small team of pacers-and the results are certainly coming.

Two of his three horses in Don't Hold Back (Courage Under Fire-Braeview Express (Badlands Hanover) and Power Of Faith (Art Major-Golden Showgirl (Armbro Operative) recently scored longshot wins at his home track.

Three-year-old filly Power Of Faith started the ball rolling with a narrow victory on June 22 at bolter's odds of 40/1 and stablemate, seven-year-old stallion Dont Hold Back, joined the party with a win last Saturday night at 15/1.

"I've been licensed for nearly 40 years, but during most of that time I was trying to run businesses and do the horses at the same time. To be honest, the horses probably weren't getting the care they needed," Attard said.

"So I decided not all that long ago to give it my best shot. I'm a happy sort of guy, but I'm really enjoying it at the moment," he said.

"I've nursed Dont Hold Back along for a number of years and now I'm going for broke with him. He ran a good fourth first up at Melton after a little break and then his last start win in 1.55-5 was solid."

Dont Hold Back has been a marvellous performer for Attard with 14 wins and 11 placings from 52 starts for nearly $250,000.

After starting out as an electronics technician, which involved making specialized gauges for refineries, Attard was lured to the automotive industry in the late 1980s.

"I was one of the first in Melbourne to be qualified to convert motor vehicles to run on gas. I put in a huge amount of hours for probably 12 or 13 years," he said.

"Then I went into curtains and drapes for a bit before running a big building business called New Look Homes Pty Ltd. I was in that with one of my sons, Ian, and we had four supervisors and a team of office staff.

"It was successful, but one day I just thought to myself that I'd had enough. So I went and told Ian of my decision-he was okay with it because he'd had the same feelings.

"There were a few other ventures. It was all fun and it certainly taught me how to deal with a lot in life, particularly learning how to read people.

"We dabble in a bit of development now. But the boys take care of me. 'Leave it to us', they tell me! Our other son Darren has Dream Design Build in Melbourne, while the oldest, Karen, runs Que One Homes with her husband.

"My wife Anna is my biggest supporter in harness racing, while our children and 10 grandchildren are in it for the fun."

Attard was always going to be involved in the sport with his father Charlie being a successful trainer-driver for many years, while his late grandfather Tony was also a keen participant.

Charlie, who still attends meetings with Mario, was associated with many great horses when training at nearby Sydenham. He was involved with such smart pacers as Lombo Limmo (23 wins including the 2008 Devonport Cup), Bells and Whistles (Moonee Valley 2yo recordholder, 12 wins, $99k), Oh Lord (21 wins, $40k, before continuing a successful career in the US), and Gold Glen (4 wins from just a handful of starts).

"Dad had a great eye for a nice horse. He could pick them out and he never paid a lot. He was also very good with young ones and got them going, just by understanding them," Mario said.

And the Attard father-and-son team will be back at Melton tonight with Power Of Faith, one of the top fancies in the IRT Australia 3yo Pace.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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