Day At The Track

A tiger in his tank

07:27 AM 31 Jan 2019 NZDT
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The Tiger Army
REMARKABLE WIN: The Tiger Army overcome a horror start to take out the MIA Breeders Plate in brilliant fashion at Leeton on Tuesday night.
Courtney Rees Photo

A plan hatched over a month ago to target a rich New South Wales Riverina race saw one of the most spine-tingling harness racing performances seen at Leeton by a two-year-old, on Tuesday night.

Young successful harness racing duo David Moran and Laura Crossland headed from their Shepparton base to travel nearly four hours up the highway to Leeton for the $30,000 Breeders Plate Group 3 this week with their unbeaten youngster The Tiger Army (Sportswriter-Scottish Glamour (Elsu).

And the colt didn’t let them down with a phenomenal display of his ability.

“My heart was racing when we got tangled up with a few of the other horses just after the start and lost valuable ground, but he’s such a lovely horse he just wanted to win,” driver Crossland said.

Settling near the rear of the field after the skirmish and at least 50 metres off the lead, Crossland gradually made up her ground to move three wide approaching the bell.

“I wasn’t really concerned because he still felt full of running,” she said.

Crossland simply changed gears down the back straight and in the blink of an eye The Tiger Army launched wide and dashed to the front to score an unbelievable win.

“We actually sat down with the owners after winning the first two-year-old event of the season at Maryborough on December 21 and it was tossed around that we might target the Breeders Plate,” she said.

“Then when we won at Kilmore about a fortnight later it was unanimous that we head to Leeton for the series.”

After a heat win of the rich series on January 11, it was a confident “army” of followers who travelled to watch the final.

The Tiger Army (known as Frank the Tank) has a perfect record of four starts for four wins for over $29,000. And there’s an opportunity to purchase his Captaintreacherous half-brother at the Melbourne APG sale on Sunday (lot 115).

Crossland, Moran and some stable owners ventured to last year’s sale after looking over the catalogue.

“The ones we picked out were going for too much money,” Crossland said.

“One of our owners, Peter Lawlor, and David were looking out the back where some were waiting to be paraded into the sale ring, and thankfully, spotted a Sportswriter colt (The Tiger Army) bred by Lauriston Bloodstock.

“Then when he came out into the ring, he looked amazing, so we ended up with him for about $16,000.”

Crossland said The Tiger Army was like a seasoned horse from day one and was broken in by experienced horseman Doc Wilson, of Ardmona.

“He’s just perfect.  He doesn’t wear a headcheck, he’s in an open bridle and no knee boots,” she said.

“In the early days he wanted to get up and go a bit too much, but when he settled down, we knew he would make an early two-year-old.”

The rising star is now taking a well-earnt spell before his next campaign is mapped out.

“It’s really exciting. He’s eligible for all the feature series and with some natural improvement, we are sure there’s fun times ahead,” Crossland said.

His race name seemed reasonably obvious, but just to clarify...

Sure enough, the majority of the owners are Richmond Football Club supporters in the Australian Football League competition.

But in a strange twist, David and Peter - the two who picked out the pacer- barrack for Essendon (known as the Bombers).

So surely, in recognition of their uncanny ability to select a good one, it could have carried the name of an Essendon star like Daniher, Fantasia, Saad or Heppell.

“That was never going to happen. It just had to have something to do with the Tigers and a few of us are now wishing we had opted for ‘Dusty’ in honor of our superstar player Dusty Martin,” Crossland, a staunch Richmond fan, said.

The Crossland-Moran team has 12 in work, with several more to come back in the next few weeks. Last season they prepared 61 winners, while this season is also ticking along okay with 17 wins, 15 placings from 40 starters.

They use an 800metre track, nearby to the Shepparton Paceway, to prepare their team.

Speedy three-year-old Lochinvar Art, who ran a brave third to Muscle Factory in the Victorian Derby Final at Melton last Saturday, is likely to contest the NSW Derby in February-March.

*Hoofnote: 3yo filly Vena May (Art Major-Tara Royale (Live Or Die) and 5yo mare Share The Road (TinTin In America-High Tops Hanover (Western Hanover) gave Crossland a training double at Bendigo last night.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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