Day At The Track

The Grey Bullet getting set for action

10:34 AM 13 Feb 2008 NZDT
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Yearlings by Lombo Pocket Watch
Yearlings by Lombo Pocket Watch - will be represented at the South Australian Premier Sale.
Gloucester Park

Australia’s highest ever earning juvenile Lombo Pocket Watch is back in work today (Wednesday, February 13) after having a five week spell in Victoria.

The “Grey Bullet” added to his impressive two and three year old statistics with a win in December’s Western Australia Golden Nugget, a Group One for four year olds and after a trip back across the Nullarbor, the four year old is well rested and ready to be set for another list of features according to his trainer Paul Fitzpatrick.

“He has two main aims left this season. We are concentrating on winning the Vicbred Sires, a race he won as a two and three year old. We would be looking at the Chariots of Fire in our own backyard too.”

Fitzpatrick is quick to point out how happy he is with the reports on the horse after his short let-up.

“He has put on forty kilograms now and when he left the farm in Victoria he was weighing in at 460 kilograms that gives us a good starting point for him. Noel Shinn did the pre-training with the horse before he went to Perth and he is going to be doing it again.

"He knows the farm and is happy in those surrounds down there. He gets his own special yard and as soon as I can get him back into New South Wales he will come home.”

Despite reports the horse would be retired after his three year old season by owner Mick Lombardo, the stallion has banked another $200,000 this season and Fitzpatrick is already eyeing off further riches.

“If he measures up the Miracle Mile will be a race we aim at. He will be five by then and will be ready to take on the older horses.”

At Lombo Pocket Watch’s first attempt in Grand Circuit racing he finished fourth behind Vanlo Yorker in the Western Australian Pacing Cup.

The Fitzpatrick stable produced its first two year olds at the trials at Penrith on Tuesday night. Eight youngsters from the team trialled including some impeccably bred stock and are expected to graduate to the races in the coming weeks.

Expect to see the colours of Steve Conroy back at Harold Park in the near future.

With the shut down of racing in Sydney because of equine influenza and the travel restrictions in recent months it has made it impossible for horses west of the Blue Mountains to get to the state’s metropolitan track.

The stable has several horses that will be making the trip east once given the green light.

New South Wales Derby runner up Twelve Paces has had three runs back since the resumption of racing for a win and two seconds.

His two defeats were both respectable runs and quick final sections when back in the field brought about the losses. While

ultiple Harold Park winners Blue Gum Forest and Go Go Bop have both tasted success recently and will relish a return to the Glebe Circuit.

Conroy’s wife Liz is looking forward to getting back to the city too.

“The horses have been going really well at Bathurst recently but it will be nice to get back to town to see where they are all at. Steve is really happy with Twelve Paces, they got home in sub 57 seconds at his last run back on Boxing Day and it’s hard for anything to go past the leader.

"When we get back to Sydney they should run the races more evenly which will give him a better chance to get into them. He has been ticking over nicely.”

Under the current restrictions, horses from the green zone like Conroy’s team, will not be permitted in and out of Sydney until March 15th.

Industry participants have welcomed the prizemoney increases at Harold Park that came into effect at the club’s meeting last Friday night.

All Metropolitan races will now carry a minimum of $14,500 with the club also announcing it will be paying down to last with

unners placed further back than fifth each receiving $100.

The state’s leading trainer Paul Fitzpatrick was happy with the announcement and says it should help owners who have been struggling recently and unable to win prizemoney because of equine influenza.

“The increases are brilliant on a Friday night. At the moment it’s a battle to attract owners to the sport and to do that you need good incentives. To be racing on a par with Victoria is a positive for the industry and I think we are starting to go the right way.

"The $100 for unplaced runners is a good thing too. For owners to know that the driving fees will be covered is great. It takes a bit of pressure off them when they get their bills at the end of the month.”

Harold Park also announced it will be lifting its midweek prizemoney to $5500 from the start of the new financial year, with the $100 payment to unplaced runners continuing.

Fitzpatrick was unsure whether the increases were enough to attract bigger fields to the Glebe Circuit.

“I haven’t seen any statistics on it but my experience tells me that Penrith has always been able to attract a lot of runners despite racing for less money than the midweek Harold Park meetings.

"Harness Racing New South Wales has announced Penrith will go to $5000, so once you take out the unplaced money on a Tuesday at Harold Park, the two clubs will be racing for the same money.

"I am just not sure whether there is a big enough incentive to race at Harold Park on a Tuesday, time will tell if they get enough horses, because in the past its always been tough for Harold Park to get fields midweek.”

The fields are out for the Qualifying Heats of the Inter Dominion and unfortunately for NSW, Karloo Mick and Special Albert will not be there.

Despite being given permission to cross the border and head south, Barry Lew has decided to keep Karloo Mick at home,

oncerned that a lack of recent racing wouldn’t have him at his best for the gruelling series.

Special Albert’s trainer Bill Dawson was very keen to race the best in Australasia but due to travel restrictions was unable to get into Victoria.

The Brian Hancock trained Amorts has drawn barrier seven in heat two and will need to finish in the first four placings to guarantee a spot in the following week’s Semi Finals.

While the Peter Rixon trained pair, Divisive and Just Pretend have drawn the back row in their respective heats. Just Pretend, who has won his last two starts in Victoria, has drawn gate eight in heat three, while Divisive will start from barrier ten in the fourth and final heat.

Amber Lovelock, Harness Racing New South Wales

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