Wagga Wagga is dealing with the worst flood the township has experienced in nearly than 30 years and despite more than 9,000 residents being evacuated from their homes Wagga Harness Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Graeme White is confident the club and track will get through unscathed.
The club is scheduled to race to Friday afternoon and White believes that the meeting will go ahead as long as roads remain open for the participants.
“The town itself is like a ghost town with everyone getting out and my thoughts are for those people that have suffered damage as a result of the flood but as long as the trainers and drivers can get here then I can’t see any reason why Friday’s meeting won’t be on,” White said.
“I have been in contact with a lot of people and by the sounds of it there are a number of harness racing people that have been hit including the well known Yirribee Stud which is actually on the river so they have had to move a lot of mares and foals to higher ground and well known thoroughbred trainer Trevor Sutherland who also has a few pacers has had to move some horses because of the rising river.”
This Friday the club will host three heats of the Tabcorp Park Menangle Series with finalists getting the chance to race for $25,000 on March 17.
White was extremely pleased with the club’s meeting last Friday night when it raced in conjunction with the Inter Dominion meeting at Gloucester Park in Western Australia.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the meeting overall, we had good strong fields, the turnover was solid, the local people supported us with a good crowd and we saw two very impressive performances on the track.”
“Hirising was very impressive winning a very competitive Wagga Oaks for trainer Steve Harris and later on in the night Macca Kelly came out and smashed his rivals by more than 40 metres in his event and will now be aimed at the heats of the Australian Pacing Gold.”
DAY DRAWS PERFECTLY AT WAGGA
Goulburn trainer Neil Day could not have been happier after learning the two horses he will take to Wagga on Friday afternoon both drew barrier one. Both of his runners will compete in heats of the Tabcorp Park Menangle Series with Beach Boy Adios lining up in the C1 event while Papa Camelot will race against C2/C3 opposition.
“That is great news that both of the horses have drawn one especially in those heats because it gives them a better chance of qualifying for the $25,000 finals at Menangle the following week,” Day said.
“It is a really good idea to run these events for the country horses and any concept that puts more money into the owners’ pockets is one that everyone should get behind and support.”
Beach Boy Adios won a heat during the first series of the Tabcorp Park Menangle Country Finals and finished third in the final behind Toolijooa Dawn earning $6,500 for his heat and final performances.
Day has his fingers crossed the meeting will go ahead with the town fighting off rising flood waters from the Murrumbidgee river.
“I hope that Wagga gets through the current flood problems without too many issues and everyone remain safe because it was very worrying here at Goulburn in the last week when there was some flooding, luckily enough we weren’t too badly knocked around and while none of the horses missed any work we were forced to change things slightly to make sure they kept on ticking over.”
Wagga will not be the only track that Day travels to this week with Menangle his destination on Saturday night for stable runners Magic Operative and Itaintover.
“Magic Operative is working back into some nice form, he has had a few niggles but all horses his age do so he will continue to race at the metropolitan meetings while Itaintover is the perfect horse for any owner because he is such a good earner, you throw him into any race and he tries his heart out every chance he gets.”
SCANDALMAN DRAWS POORLY IN DERBY
The Victoria Derby winner Scandalman is going to need his fair of share luck to overcome the inside of the back row in Friday night’s Northern Derby in New Zealand. The Ian Wilson trained three year old led throughout when he won the Victorian Gr. 1 and driver Jimmy Douglass acknowledges gate nine will make it very tough.
“Scandalman will need to produce something special to win from where he has drawn and while the horse directly in front of him (Lets Elope) has good speed from what I hear they normally look for cover so if we don’t get off the fence early we could get buried three of four back,” Douglass said.
“On the plus side Scandalman has bloomed according to Ian (Wilson trainer) since Friday night’s heat and he actually commented that he felt really strong and worked well earlier in the week which was a surprise to both of us because he is normally a very lazy trackworker.”
Scandalman arrived in New Zealand only a day before finishing third in his heat, however has settled in a lot better to his new surroundings.
“It was the first time that he had raced in a clockwise direction and Ian mentioned that the horse seemed a little flat in the hours leading up to his heat run but it has been great to hear that he has settled in a lot better and has really bloomed since last Friday.”
“Ideally Lets Elope would blast off the inside gate and be two lengths clear of the rest of the field coming to the first turn and I would be able to get off the inside and find the front myself but that’s unlikely to happen so we will just see how it all unfolds.
Douglass missed the drive in last week’s derby heat because he was at Gloucester Park driving Hesa Buzzin in the Inter Dominion Consolation and admits it has been a rude shock since arriving back in Sydney.
“In Perth I was looking after one horse, the weather was beautiful and everything was great but since I have arrived back in Sydney it hasn’t stopped raining and with Ian in New Zealand I have been very busy looking after the rest of the team.”