Day At The Track

Webster's gun APG 2yr brings delight owner

08:46 PM 04 Apr 2016 NZST
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Wrappers Delight
Geoff Webster steers Wrappers Delight to success in the first APG heat at Melton.

The nation’s most talented harness racing two-year-olds are showing early zeal in pursuit of Australian Pacing Gold, which carries a $322,000 purse that will be prized open at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 22.

Wrappers Delight, trained and driven by Bannockburn’s Geoff Webster, was among those to salute when four Victorian heats of the series were held at Melton last Friday night, reward for owners Domenic Martello and Doug Webster who invested in the yearling at the 2015 APG sales.

“We went along Friday night and cheered him on,” Martello said. “I took my wife and the kids and had a ball. As long as it is a healthy and happy horse we find they will run well, and when they win that’s a bonus.”

The APG heats for colts and geldings at Melton last Friday also saw Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s short-priced favourites, Our Little General and The Storm Inside, live up to their top billing, while trainer-driver and part-owner Allison Chisholm claimed the other heat with Whats The Catch.

DON'T MISS THE APG REPLAYS OF HEAT ONEHEAT TWOHEAT THREE AND HEAT FOUR

The four winners will be guaranteed starts in the series’ semi-finals on April 16, which precede the April 22 final. The APG heats for fillies get underway at Melton on Friday, April 8, leading up to the semi-final (April 23) and final (April 30) at Menangle.

For Geoff Webster, Wrappers Delight’s impressive win – his second from as many starts – came as little surprise.

“He is quite a nice horse and we went in confident,” Webster said. “I was most concerned about coming out of barrier seven, but he got away reasonably well and showed good gate speed.

“He cruised to the front without any real effort and was comfortably parked outside the leader.”

When it came time to call on Wrappers Delight in the straight Webster required only a gentle urging to draw past second-placed Jilliby Kung Fu, who showed plenty for Terang trainer Marg Lee.

“He got to the line very well,” Webster said, and the seasoned trainer was confident Wrappers Delight would challenge Stewart’s much lauded pair were they to meet in a semi-final or final. “I think he’s up there with them. I respect them, but I don’t think they are any better than he is.”

The win was great early reward for owner Martello, who has turned many yearlings into Webster’s care in the past three years.

“I didn’t go in thinking we’re going to win,” Martello said. “I’m a bit superstitious and didn’t want to mozz the horse. But he raced well and I feel blessed.”

Martello’s passion for all things trots has quickly snowballed since crossing from gallops ownership.

“I’ve had horses in the gallops and felt it was a bit impersonal,” he said. “In the trots I can never win the Melbourne Cup, but it is not just about that. I know the drivers, the trainers and feel involved. I reckon it’s great value. I feel valued as a trots owner, I feel significant and not just a stat. The horses run all year and they can earn big bucks.”

Misterfreeze is another under Martello’s ownership, and he run a brave fourth in a photo finish of heat number three. It is a stable that also includes Big Jack Hammer, a Group 1 winner in December’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Plaitnum Hom Grown Classic.

“I look at (ownership) as an intellectual challenge,” Martello said. “I’m a guy who hasn’t got a history in horses, but go to the yearling sales and buy horses that other people who have experience have also seen.

“I look it as a challenge to plan to get a horse, to look at the breeding and to then buy the yearling. When they race, like was the case on Friday night, I feel like you have succeeded just by being there and being competitive.”

 He said it was a joy only magnified by being able to share it with those around you. “Harness is down-to-earth big time. It’s a very friendly industry. They are normal people who value the owners and I love it.”

by Michael Howard

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