Day At The Track

Rogers' four-year-old on Track to give cup a shake

04:01 PM 05 Apr 2016 NZST
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The 2015 Mildura Pacing Cup
The 2015 Mildura Pacing Cup was Arden Rooney's (pictured), who will steal the spotlight this Saturday?

Every time harness racing trainer Colin Rogers asks his four-year-old– the best horse’s he’s trained – to give a little more, Murranji Track responds.

And so, after three open class wins on the trot, the trainer from Mildura’s outskirts will prepare his gelding for tonight’s Park Douglas Printing Mildura Cup Pacing heat en route to Saturday’s final.

“It’s a bit of a challenge,” Rogers said. “It’s a rise in grade for him, but every time he is asked to step up he does.

“He was a C4 and then a C5 and then he was up to open competition and won his first three starts. He will be there (at the business end). My first intent was to wait until he was a five-year-old (before entering the Mildura cup), but he is the best horse I’ve ever had.”

Murranji Track will have to finish first five in a competitive heat to get a start in Saturday’s cup, but has been aided by being drawn the one among an eight-horse field, which includes Hectorjayjay having his first start in David Aiken’s stable.

“He has seldom drawn the front,” Rogers said. “His first start in the open grade was from the front and he showed good gate sped and at the end ran 56 (seconds).”

That was February 24 when Emma Hamblin drove Murranji Track to a 3m win when $1.80 favourite, with the gelding by Grinfromeartoear out of Jennas Beach Girl showing good gate speed. A similar start should have Murranji Track well placed to either lead or take the sit and have strong claims to qualify for the final, which Rogers said was tonight’s primary objective.

 “We might drive him a bit conservative. He’ll be up there though, and he will be there to win it, but we are also looking to get him into the final,” Rogers said.

While the stakes are high, not much will be foreign to Murranji Track, who was 12 wins from his 25 starts, of which 21 have been at Mildura.

 “The main reason the horse has been racing here is because he has been a bastard of a traveller. He just about kicks the float to bits whenever he travels,” Rogers said. “At least when he runs at Mildura he has only got 10 minutes to knock himself around.”

It’s hoped that as the gelding matures that will ease, sooner rather than later ideally with plans to have him chase the four-year-old Vicbred series. For now the focus remains closer to home.

“It would be nice to win or run a place in the Mildura Cup. I had a runner (Panorama Drive) run third in the heat and fifth in the final a few years back (2011), but this horse is twice as good as he was.”

Michael Howard

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