Day At The Track

Steven's trotter reaching lofty heights

02:07 PM 26 Aug 2020 NZST
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My Mate Yankee,Harness racing
HRV

He may have gotten off to a tough couple of starts but things have otherwise started beautifully for Steven Loftus’ first trotting project, My Mate Yankee.

The Angus Hall colt will be hunting a third victory from his fourth start in today’s Santons Of Bendigo 2YO Trot, which will stream on Trots Vision at 7pm.

The Australian Premier Trotting Sale purchase has “done everything I’ve asked of him” says Loftus, including overcoming breaking gate at the start of his first and second races by recovering to run second and first.

”He’s done a good job and I hope he keeps doing it,” he said, well aware “two-year-old trotters can be iffy at times”.

Bred by Darren Aitken, My Mate Yankee was the last of the yearling’s to go under the hammer at the 2019 trotting sale, with Loftus and his family, wife Tracy and son Daniel, snapping him up for $10,000 under their business name Downunder Sulky Company.

He’s by Angus Hall out of Yankee Stella, with Loftus saying “he’s got some nice horses in his dam side, so I thought I’d have a go”.

Yankee Stella is a half-sister to Majestic Ess Jay ($173,994) and Valley Ess Jay ($111,288), and Loftus said her first foal, My Mate Yankee, was “a lovely trotter to do anything with”.

“I try to buy one or two from the yearling sales, and if it doesn’t work out I might be out of action for a couple of years,” he said.

“I had Alpha Male here for pre-training for Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) and he spelled a couple of times at my house. Tracey loves the trotters and he was such a lovely horse to have around. We decided to give a trotter a try. We didn’t know what to expect from the start, but what we have done seems to have worked.”

The only blip has been those starts, which occurred at his first two starts when fronting the mobile, but no such problems last start when off the back row. Tonight he starts from the widest gate of the six-horse field, which includes fellow winners Keayang Ninja, Whos The Man and Illawong Moonbeam.

“He’s not really an excitable horse, but he gets to races and gets a little nervous,” Loftus said.

“He hasn’t trialled against a lot. He’s probably a bit inexperienced around other horses. Once he settles down he should be a nice racehorse. He just trots along on a loose rein, if we can just get the starts out of his system and get him used to that he should be fine.”

They’re encouraging signs given he’s already impressive stat line and suggests the Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series windows are well and truly open.

“I think I’ll keep poking him along, space his runs and see if he can last till the end of the year,” Loftus said. “He’s a good doer, likes his work, so hopefully I will keep improving him and see if he can’t be competitive in the bigger series.

“We are just happy he has been more than competitive at the moment. Everyone is racing about 2:03, and basically whoever does everything right and with a bit more of a step up in time will set the running.”

It’s an exciting thought for Loftus, a long-time trots lover whose career high stakes win to date was Bettor Downunder’s win in the 2014 3YO Argent Classic.

Training is perhaps the most modest part of his trots involvement, being the track curator at Ballarat and District Trotting Club and owning Downunder Sulky Company.

“I generally work seven days week. It keeps me busy,” he said, adding the sulky business was “my passion”.

“I’ve been interested in harness racing all my life through family. I was lucky enough to go to America, see how they made their sulkies. I started out making a couple of jog karts and have gone from there.

“We’ve been in operation for seven years. Things are going really good, I believe the product is competitive with anything on the world market, and they are made locally, so if anything goes wrong we can repair it. Our business has been flat out this year, which says we must be doing something right.”

 

HRV - Michael Howard

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