Day At The Track

Record numbers enter for Painted Mile Race Day

01:24 AM 25 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Painted Mile poster 2016.jpg Cinderella Man, harness racing
Cinderella Man and trainer/driver Alan Wallace at Portmarnock Raceway
Nadina Ironia photo

From its humble beginnings in 2014, the Painted Mile race day at Portmarnock has just exploded in popularity and this year’s renewal will have a record 25 coloured (pinto) pacers going to post over 4 separate one mile contests on Sunday, June 19.

There are 18 different sires represented and it clearly demonstrates that coloured breeding of Standardbreds is on the increase in double digit percentages year on year.

The highlight of the meeting as always is the Senior Free For All and 6 of the best skewbald’s and piebald’s in the British Isles have been entered to do battle in their best efforts to emerge as overall supreme coloured pacing champion.

Cinderella Man, the winner back in 2014 looks poised to come back for more and even at this early stage Derek Boylan’s popular colt is a warm favourite to land the spoils. A multiple winner at Portmarnock and UK venue Aberystwyth in 2014, the five year old has already won in 2:00.9, a time that remains a world record on a half mile track to this day. Although clearly not as his best in 2015, his owners have confirmed he is back as good as ever this season and they are looking forward to reaffirming Cinderella Man as top dog in 2016 with a sub 2 minute mile the ultimate aim in this campaign.   

Despite the absence of great rival and last year’s overall painted mile winner, Keltic Panda, Cinderella Man still won’t get it all his own way, however as two top UK challengers have been entered.

TJB has the distinction of beating the standard bay pacers around Tir Prince and York tracks, where he is immensely popular among racegoers appreciating something out of the ordinary. By coloured sire Lexies Rocky out of Miss Izzy (Churchill King), he’s demonstrated great heart in his races and his average mile times are on a par with Cinderella Man.

Equally as impressive in his races at English tracks has been Big Bucks, who is by Australian import Out Of Nowhere out of a Master Scoot mare Scoots Girl, and he is many peoples idea as the new king-in-waiting.   

The ill-fated Rorshach was a legend the world over amongst coloured pacing enthusiasts and his presence is still as strong today as when he was alive. Cleverly named after a psychological ink blotting test to match his striking black and white colouring, Rorshach will be represented in the 2016 Painted Mile by his final foal of racing age Dangerous Shock, who is out of the mare Handsome Sum mare Dangerous.

Dangerous Shock has proven to be a great servant by his English owner Matty Quinn and all puns aside he will be fancied by connections to cause a shock upset to both Cinderella Man, Big Bucks and TJB. The line-up in the senior free for all is completed by Kauto Star and Get Rockin and perhaps the most interesting of these is the latter, being out of Lyons Pandering a Ponderosa mare bred by the all-conquering Mound family from North Wales.     

Complementing this year’s senior free for all is a junior free for all event and seven horses have been entered from Ireland and the UK. Hawthorns Setanta (Painted Tiger/Magical Pleasure) is a most interesting runner in this as he hails back to the great 1980’s superstar race mare, Saunders Pleasure, on the dam’s side.

Saunders Pleasure, of course, bred Miladies Pleasure which is the dam of Porterstown Chris, the current record holder for 1.5 miles at Portmarnock, who was steered to this feat by crack US reinsman George Brennan in August of last year.

Another link to the Dunne family who race under the Porterstown prefix is an unraced runner called Applegarth Henry T, whose dam is Porterstown Sameos, an Astreos mare, that was imported by the Dunnes into Ireland in the late 1990’s. Lyons Vivienne (by Direct Current) was a top race mare in her day around Annaghmore for Billy Roche and her coloured offspring by Indian (Who Who Gives A Toss/Meadowbranch Chi Chi) named Flying Eagle completes the line-up for the junior free for all alongside Irish Squaw, Sootys Girl, Raging Storm and UK raider Phantom.   

Its testament to just how big the Painted Mile Race day has now become in the British Isles that there is now a 3 year olds only contest and eight have been entered by connections to take their chances.

A lot of eyes will be the brace of runners by up-and-coming sire White Fire who was imported to Ireland from Australia nearly a decade ago. Straboe Firecracker by White Fire is out of Golden Knight (by Golden Glover out of Navigator) who harks back to the 1970’s breeding dynasty of Racing Knight and foundation broodmare Mooreland P whilst the other White Fire named Man O’Fire is out of Petit Coat Lane, a Fantastic Western mare out of Renate who was bred by Willy Flanagan of the mighty Meadowbranch Stud.

The UK’s John Howard has traditionally kept a top pinto performer in his stable over the years and none more so than Howards Colormein. An English champion who took on all-comers and beat them hands-down at Corbie Wood he has now become a sire in his own right and Howards Little Mix out of Millenium Star (by Nat King Cole) becomes his first ever runner on a track.

Arguably the fastest sire in the line-up for the 3 year olds contest is Hes For Real with a 1:49 record and The Real Deal is by him out of City Shock who goes right back to Velvet Harmony on the dams side.

In a remarkable twist both a father and son will be in action on the day. Kauto Star has been entered in the Senior Free For All whilst his son Robbie Star is an entry in the 2 year old. The dam of Robbie Star is of course Castlewood Bridget, who was bred by Irelands leading harness racing bookmaker Dan Carlin out of his top class race mare Briget The Midget.  

Theres also a Scottish connection this year as the unusually named Bingo is by Red Ross out of Burnside Angelears. Red Ross the sire of Bingo was a regular campaigner around hard track Corbie Wood in Stirling and all the local grass venues, demonstrating both ability and speed in equal measure.    

If all 25 pinto pacers make it to race day, Portmarnock really will be the place to be on June 19th and it will surely be a world record to have this number of strikingly coloured Standardbreds all in the same place at the same time to contest in races.

By Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

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