Ohoka Utah finds new a home with Formosa

02:46 AM 17 Feb 2010 NZDT
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Ohoka Utah and Lance Justice
Ohoka Utah and Lance Justice - after their Easter Cup win in Tasmania.

New South Wales harness racing trainer Michael Formosa could not believe his luck when Watpac Inter Dominion entrant Ohoka Utah turned up at his Ellalong stables last Friday. Formerly trained by Lance Justice in Victoria and Mark Purdon in New Zealand, the five year old gelding has won 12 races and more than $180,000 in his 39 start career.

The son of Christian Cullen will compete in the first heat of the Inter Dominion at Harold Park on Friday night and Formosa is looking forward to the experience.

"This will be the first time I have been involved in an Inter Dominion series" Formosa said.

"I was the driver of Commander Monty and he was ranked sixth going into the series in Tasmania but he just wasn't a good traveller and it wasn't viable for him to go. It's very exciting to have Ohoka Utah for the Inter Dominion series and to be honest, a little bit of a shock."

Formosa made a phone call to a bloodstock agent last week to report that a new horse from New Zealand had arrived when the call took an unexpected turn.

"Yeah it all started when I rang the bloodstock agent to let her know that a horse I had been expecting from New Zealand had arrived at my place and she asked me if I had room for one more. I said I did and she said she would get back to me later."

"Later on that afternoon she rang back to say the horse was on its way up from Melbourne and told me that its name was Ohoka Utah."

Minutes later Formosa was doing some research finding out as much as he could about his new acquisition.

"I got straight on the computer and had a look at his form and I thought that if I can get him going like he was last year that he would be a super horse for me."

His last 10 starts don't read that well on paper but if you go through his form he has only been getting beaten four or five metres and has been doing a power of work."

It was a tough wait over the weekend for Formosa as it wasn't until early this week that he knew the horse was guaranteed a start in Sydney's Inter Dominion series.

"It didn't look as though he was going to make the top 40 but there were a couple of late scratchings and he scraped in, in fact I think he was the last horse in. The new owners have said that we aren't expecting miracles but it will be nice to have a horse go around in the series."

Ohoka Utah has drawn barrier two on Friday night, directly inside sentimental series favourite Karloo Mick and Formosa thinks the gate is ideal.

"The barrier draw on Friday night is perfect for him because he looks set to get a good run and I will be looking to get to the fence at some stage on Friday so he has an economical trip. I won't be looking to flatten him straight away so we won't be doing much this week."

While Formosa has realistic expectations going into the series he knows he is going to learn more about the gelding every start.

"The horse has had a freshen up since his last start a month ago and as a result he won't be fully wound up this week but I'm sure he will take plenty of benefit out of whatever he does on Friday night."

Hopefully by the last day if he can squeeze into the final or make the consolation he will be ready to run a good race."

DEJA VU FOR HARRIS AS MIXED MEDIA PLAYS THE SAME TUNE

Undefeated Mixed Media is one of the leading chances in this Saturday night's Linden Huntley Little Memorial Final for the two year old fillies and Junee trainer Matthew Harris is hoping she can win a feature race in her first season of racing, just like her mother Clever Tune.

"It's all been a bit of a thrill so far with Mixed Media and I couldn't be happier with her at the moment" Harris said.

"She's out of Clever Tune who won the New South Wales Sires Stakes as a two year old for me back in 2000 and to be honest Mixed Media reminds me a lot of Clever Tune. She can really sprint a quick quarter just like her mum, actually it's been a big couple of weeks for Clever Tune because I think she has had three individual winners in the past 10 days."

While Clever Tune won the Sires Stakes at her sixth start, feature racing has come a bit sooner for Mixed Media. The filly will line up for just her fourth career start on Saturday night and Harris was pleased with the barrier draw after coming up with gate two.

"I'm pretty happy with the draw, she's got really good gate speed to take full advantage of it. I've got no big expectations of her, she'll go well around Bulli because it is a leader's track."

Mixed Media qualified for the final after winning her heat at Bulli on Monday and Harris is confident that the filly will be at the top of her game this Saturday night.

"She pulled up extremely well after the heat on Monday afternoon and I decided to leave her up at Brian Hancock's Albion Park property for the week rather than putting her back on the float and doing the round trip back to Junee."

"She is a really good eater which is important for a filly. We have her nominated for the Bathurst Gold Tiara and that will be where we go next at this stage, depending of course on how she pulls up after her run this weekend."

The Linden Huntley Little Memorial Two Year Old Fillies Final is race five at Bulli on Saturday night and will begin at 8:15pm.

Alison ZAMMIT

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