Pat Carey eyeing the Mornington Cup after impressive victory
Progressive stayer Angola scored the biggest victory of his career taking out today's $100,000 Rain Lover Handicap (2500m) at Flemington for trainer Pat Carey.By the ill-fated Helenus, sire of Carey's 2012 ATC Derby winner Ethiopia, Carey said it was a real shame the stallion was no longer around.
"The progeny of Helenus have been outstanding horses and it's a crying shame for everyone concerned with him that he's not with us anymore because he leaves a fine type of horse," Carey said.
The five-year-old's first success since winning at Bendigo in March last year, Carey said the $350,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on February 12 could be a possible target.
"He has been threatening to win a race like this for a while and he's a lovely beautiful big staying type of horse and he might now be coming into his own," he said.
"He had a beautiful charmed run and it was timed to perfection. I can't see why he can't keep improving."
After setting in fourth position one-off the fence, Symons sat patiently before bringing Angola to the centre of the track at the top of the home straight.
Just as Reigning had sprinted to the lead on the fence at the 400m mark, Symons got to work on Angola who proved too strong over the concluding stages to record a one-length victory over top weight Gottino ($8), with Reigning ($12) just under half-a-length further back in third.
Symons said the race worked out perfectly for Angola, who he said wasn't always the easiest horse to handle.
"Gee he's a hard going bloke," Symons said. "He was pulling his head off in the mounting yard before the race and he still was when I came back in.
It just goes to show how fit you've got to be to ride in these distance races and he really made me work for it.
"Having ridden him last start he pulled even harder being exposed so Pat was adamant that he had to have cover which he got today and that definitely helped him to switch off and he finished off the race as well as he could."
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Keayang Steamer showed too much pace for Smoken Up in Horsham Cup.
The younger legs of Keayang Steamer proved too slick for millionaire warhorse Smoken Up in Sunday night's $60,000 Horsham Cup.
The five-year-old did the near unthinkable by sitting parked outside Smoken Up for much of the 2700m mobile event before simply beating him for speed on the home bend.
Keayang Steamer pinched a one-and-a-half-length break turning for home and while Smoken Up, who paced roughly on that bend, fought back the win heralded Keayang Steamer's arrival as a genuine player on pacing's biggest stage.
A talented three-year-old who improved to being in the top echelon of his age at four last term, Keayang Steamer has clearly developed further, with yesterday's win his second in as many starts this season.
Trained by Margaret Lee and driven by her nephew Glen Craven, Keayang Steamer is certain to shorten in markets for the Inter Dominion in Sydney on March 2 after last night's win.
But if he is to tackle Victoria's equal richest pacing race in a few weeks he will need to first qualify.
The $400,000 Hunter Cup at Melton on February 1 is a standing start race and to be eligible horses need to have competed satisfactorily in a standing start race in the last 12 months, with Keayang Steamer yet to attempt that form of racing.
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Although she is just as happy training winners, horsewoman shows her driving skills.
The Queen of the Track is adamant she would be just as happy watching the huge-money races she was winning at Alexandra Park yesterday.
That is the honest view of Natalie Rasmussen, who partnered Willow and Isaiah to win $410,000 worth of races in 40 minutes yesterday, doubling as the co-trainer of the pair with her partner Mark Purdon.
The drives were polar opposites; Rasmussen patience personified with Willow in the $160,000 Sires' Stakes Championship, while she was brutally aggressive with Isaiah, blasting to the lead and never looking back in the $250,000 Sales Series Pace.
While the double is unparalleled for a female driver in the history of New Zealand harness racing, Rasmussen says she would be just as happy gearing up the winners back in the stable.
"As long as everything is done right back here [in the stables], I don't care who drives them," the 36-year-old said.
"Mark and Blair [Orange] are great drivers and it has just been a case of me being on these horses earlier in the season and sticking with them.
"But I am a perfectionist and the work around the stables with the horses means just as much to me."
It helps that Rasmussen has been in a position no female driver, or jockey for that matter, would have been in before, as the regular raceday partner of a true racing legend.
She trained and drove Blacks A Fake, arguably Australia's greatest-ever pacer and the winner of four Inter Dominion Finals and unlucky not to win another.
"After the highs of driving Blackie, you realise you will never get to quite that level again.
"So now I am matter-of-fact about driving. What gives me the buzz is winning a good race for the owners."
Willow looks certain to head to Rasmussen's native Australia later in the season after remaining unbeaten in four starts when divebombing a brave Raksdeal in a Sires' Stakes that saw most of the favourites off the bit a long way from home.
Willow is owned in Victoria so will probably head there for the classics later in the season as part of a smorgasbord of 3-year-old fillies' riches.
One of her owners, Jean Feiss, had an unusual reason for not seeing Willow's win - she was driving a team of Huskies in the snow somewhere in Scandinavia.
But the story of John Magness, a part owner of Isaiah, was just as unusual and even more fun.
The long-time harness racing sponsor was so busy at his well-known appliance store in Greenlane he couldn't get away to the races, so watched the Sales Series Pace at the television at work.
"When he won I couldn't believe it. I jumped in the car and still made it here for the presentation," said Magness, resplendent in shorts and sandals in the winners' circle.
Isaiah won the race at the start, getting the drop on hot favourite Locharburn, who was then forced to come from the one-one for a gutsy second, but the winner's relentless style left few excuses for his rivals.
It now leaves Purdon and Rasmussen needing to sit down with a large piece of paper in the next few weeks and plan where their army of stars goes.
While Willow can contest the Northern Oaks in March, she or one of her stablemates could easily head to the A$200,000 ($217,000) NSW Oaks a week later.
The same goes for Isaiah and Alleluia, or any of this strong crop of 3-year-old male pacers.
They could pop over to Victoria for the Derby at Melton on February 1 and then come home for the Victoria Derby, a double Ohoka Punter completed last season, or head to Menangle for the NSW Derby.
It is a nice problem to have and in Purdon's case, at least he knows he has a champion trainer and ace driver as a partner to send along for the trip.
Natalie's dream double
Natalie Rasmussen drives Willow and Isaiah to a huge Alexandra Park double. She completed the richest double ever by a female driver in New Zealand.back to top
Dr David Marlin, one of the UK's leading equine physiologists talks about FLAIRback to top
Copyright ©Brian McMath
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