Day At The Track

War Admiral scores a deserving win

02:56 PM 07 Jan 2019 NZDT
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War Admiral,Harness racing
War Admiral winning for Sheree Tomlinson
Photo Wayne Huddleston Wild Range Photography

Skyvalley gelding War Admiral scored a deserving win in testing conditions in the main trot today(Sunday) at the Wyndham Harness Club’s meeting on the grass at Cromwell.

Driver Sheree Tomlinson settled the gelding at the rear of the field and with 800 metres to run War Admiral was still six lengths off the lead. From that point Tomlinson elected to stick to the inside running line and on straightening she was right behind the leader Gorilla Playboy giving her rights to the passing lane. From that point Tomlinson held War Admiral together and he trotted up the inside to beat Playboy’s Brother by two and a quarter lengths.

“The plan was to not let him go. To be honest I thought that at some part he’d make a mistake. She’s a good wee driver. She said he trotted really well and she hung on and made sure he kept trotting,” said Gore trainer Tony Stratford.

The heavy track was a major concern for a lot of trainers and at his last start War Admiral had broken when looking likely.

“I was pretty confident he would have won at Roxburgh if he hadn’t made a mistake so it was nice to see him get a win today.”

The win - War Admirals second this season, elevates him to third on the Four Year Old Ruby for the end of season Harness Jewels at Addington.

“We’ll plan round that. I’ll be surprised if you don’t see him at the Jewels in June.”

As a three year old War Admiral showed immense ability, winning three of his seven starts and Stratford says he’s more consistent this season.   

“He’s a bit of a rattle head and a hard horse to work with but when you get him in the cart and get him out on the track he’s certainly a lot more mature than last season. Clearly he’s trotting a lot better.”

And he says he may start at the Wyndham meeting in a fortnight.

“We’re better off just ticking away. I’ve learnt that when a trotter’s in form you’re better off keeping them going. He won’t be turned out but he’ll have a few easy days.”

When asked if he’d consider travelling, Stratford pointed out that he may not have to.

“We’re racing for such good money down here. Today’s raceswas worth $14,999 which was the same as the main pacing race. Most races he lines up for in Southland he’ll be racing for $10,000 or more. Providing we are not too far back in the handicaps there’s nothing wrong with racing down here.”   

And on the conditions at Cromwell today?

“The horses were coming back caked in mud. That’s as bad as I’ve ever seen (track conditions).”

Meanwhile Canterbury visitor Zadaka proved his toughness when he won the Havtime Breeding/M&S Little Cromwell Cup.

Due to the heavy track conditions his time of 3-42.6 was the slowest recorded in the twelve year history of the race. Devil May Care’s 3-37.4 in 2014 was the previous slowest (recorded on a Dead track). The race and track record of 3-20.8 is held by Glencoe VC.

This was the third time Robert Dunn has won the race. He also won it in 2009 with Luckisaladytonight and in 2010 with Niraadi.

The day was full of twists and turns and the Stewards had their busiest day of the season:

--Because of a programmed TAB Website change and the introduction of their new App at 12 midnight tonight the Cromwell meeting started early at 10:38am.

--Persistent rain starting falling from 8.00am in Cromwell and the track conditions were down-graded during the day to Dead after Race Three then to Heavy after Race Six.

--There were ten late scratchings due to track conditions.

--The mobile vehicle lost traction after the dispatch of Race Four and the later mobile starts programmed for Races Seven and Nine became moving starts.

--The Clerk Of Course’s horse bolted leading to some scary moments. Both horse and rider were replaced with Otago trainer Amber Hoffman taking over the role.

--During the day a variety of winning running lines were chosen by the drivers. Sheree Tomlinson chose the inside path in Race Eleven to win easily while in Race Twelve Mark Hurrell came  hard against the outside fence to gets Raksbets home by a half a length.

--Winners were often hard to find with only four favourites winning during the twelve race programme. Many horses failed to handle the conditions.


Bruce Stewart

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