Day At The Track
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Sean McCaffrey described his last drive at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Tuesday) as one of his most satisfying. The 57-year-old, who leaves for Australia this month to work at Yabby Dam Farms in Ballarat, won the $6,000 Sean McCaffrey Farewell Mobile for the R50 to R57 pacers behind the Ross Paynter trained Lambros. McCaffrey and Paynter were training partners up until this month. It was Lambros's third win in 20 starts and his second on the track. He was the $19.60 sixth favourite. “This feels pretty special. One of my more satisfying wins you could say. It’s a great way to bow out all right. I’ve lived in Cambridge for 50 years and this is a special way to say goodbye,” McCaffrey said in the winner’s circle immediately after the race. “The horse went super. I’m delighted for Ross,” he added. McCaffrey and Lambros led from gate two and stayed there throughout. As they crossed the finishing the line, McCaffrey gave the small crowd a big assertive army-like salute. “Did you like that? That was the last salute,” he joked. The R52-rated Lambros paced the 2200m mobile in 2:43.3 (mile rate 1:59.4) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 60.8 and 29.5. The brown Bettor's Delight 3-year-old gelding had two-and-a-half lengths and half a head to spare over Are You Ready Girl (David Butcher) and Tact Ollie (Peter Ferguson). “He’s been unlucky in his last few races and if I ever wanted to win behind him, it was today. He felt real good and hopefully it won’t be his last for Ross,” McCaffrey said. McCaffrey has lived in Cambridge for 50 years and will be farm manager at Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms. “I went to the Sales with Pat last September and built up a good rapport with him. Then not long ago he asked me if I wanted to relocate to his magnificent farm and after some thought my wife, Joanne, and I agreed to move,” said McCaffrey. Meanwhile, Thames trainer Paul Springall believed one-on-one training was the secret behind The Last Gamble’s sudden form reversal following the 4-year-old mare’s third consecutive win in his colours at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Tuesday). The trotter than finished 100 lengths last at the Thames meeting on January 21 has now won at Cambridge Raceway twice (also February 16), and New Plymouth (March 2) “Jay (Abernethy) knew I was on the lookout for a trotter and he gave her to me at our Thames meeting. I haven’t even had her for two months and already she’s developing into one of the best horses I have trained,” Springall said. “Tender loving care, the big Thames track and good tucker I think are some of the reasons why she has thrived,” he added. The Last Gamble simply out-stayed her seven opponents in yesterday’s $7,000 Garrard's Horse & Hound Handicap for the $9 and faster trot. Driven by Arna Donnelly for the first time, the Great Success mare trotted the 2700m stand in 3:32.9 (mile rate 2:06.8) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.9 and 30.8. She was the $8.20 fourth favourite. "I think she appreciates working on a big track compared to say amongst other horses in a big team. She really enjoys her work and can do eight rounds of the Thames track at good speed. “That’s why I thought she might out-stay them today. She has quite a bit of stamina and can grind her opposition down if she gets her own way,” Springall said. Donnelly agreed. “That was a great pick-up drive. All I had to do was just sit there and steer really. She did the rest. A real armchair drive,” the modest Cambridge horsewoman said. The Last Gamble was disqualified from her first three starts last October because of branding issues when racing under a different name. But Abernethy said he was now delighted for Springall. “We had trouble getting her to go away and we did a few saddle trots with her. I always liked her and I thought she might thrive on a change of scenery. Good on Paul. I hope he gets a few more wins out of her too,” Abernethy said. Duane Ranger

An emerging trotting powerhouse fired its first shot in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series, with Aldebaran Eve winning the three-year-old fillies’ final at Tabcorp Park Melton Friday night for harness racing trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll. Having established Yabby Dam Farms at Cardigan, near Ballarat, Driscoll and Golino won with the filly by Skyvalley out of Aldebaran Dream, who Greg Sugars put into the box seat from barrier one and had the most tickets left in the straight. “It’s a real thrill for Pat and Anton to score a winner in the Vicbred series, their first since setting up and moving down to Victoria,” Sugars said. “They are a terrific outfit and great group of people, not only those two but all the workers around them. It’s a privilege to be associated with them.” Golino said he “appreciated” the win “a lot”, lauding “all my staff and Greg for such a great drive”. Aldebaran Eve was steered to the leader’s back from barrier one, with favourite Into The Unknown taking the breeze outside the leader, second favourite Princess Phoenix. Come the final straight and Into The Unknown found the challenge too much, enabling Aldebaran Eve to peel off the leader’s back and run a 29.8 final quarter to win by 1.7m in a 2:00.6 mile rate. “She’s a nice little filly, she’s getting better with every start and we said after the heat we just need a good draw, one would be nice and that’s what she got and that’s what won us the race.” The win came as something of a surprise for the stable, with Sugars admitting this one had “probably been at the bottom of the list” of the Yabby Dams crew. For owner Driscoll, it made victory all the sweeter. “It’s quite a thrill,” he said. “A bit unexpected, because she was probably the least of the runners we have here tonight. It was a great drive by Greg and a wonderful training performance by Anton.” Michael Howard Harnes Racing Victora

Harness Racing Trainer Anton Golino and owner Pat Driscoll combined to win Saturday night’s NSW Trotters Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle with talented filly Pizza Queen.  The daughter of Credit Winner was purchased from the 2014 Harrisburg Sale for $100,000 and produced a big upset as she ran down short priced favourite High Gait in the shadows of the winning post. Golino had three runners in the NSW Oaks and Pizza Queen was the longest priced filly of his trio. “I thought she would need a good trip to win but in saying that she has always had ability and she did run second and third behind High Gait in the heats of the Need For Speed,” Golino said. “I wasn’t overly confident or anything but I thought she’d be in the finish with the right run.  Her work in the lead up to the Oaks was great and she had come on a fair bit in the last fortnight.” Pizza Queen is out of top race mare Armbro Domino.  She won $275,000 during her career on the track and was sold for $260,000 after the birth of her first foal in 2008. “Pizza Queen is beautifully bred, she’s by Credit Winner, he is a great sire in America and he stands in New York.  Her mother performed very well on the track.” “Noel Daley picked her out for us from Harrisburg, he did all the research and he got it right so we’re very happy.” While Golino has decided to keep fourth-placed finisher Courchevel in Sydney for next Saturday night’s NSW Trotters Derby, Pizza Queen and Dream Island will return to Victoria. “They’ll both come home for the Victorian Oaks, they left Sydney on Monday.  Courchevel’s run was really good on Saturday night, she got a little bit too far back but she got home well and hit the line strongly. “Courchevel is awkwardly gaited, she’s got a lot of ability when she does everything right.  She’s had a few little niggling issues, we’re starting to get on top of them but I think she’ll develop into a very nice mare next season.” Golino confirmed he has enjoyed the transition from New South Wales to Victoria. “Yes I’m loving it, there are plenty of racetracks to pick from.  The farm is coming along very well and full credit must go to Pat Driscoll because he has worked his butt off to get this place up and going. “We’re getting there slowly, it’s been a good time here so far but winter’s coming up and I’m definitely not looking forward to that.” Greg Hayes

Trainer Anton Golino will hold a strong hand when the gates open for the $50,000 Group 1 trotting final for two-year-old fillies. The Cardigan trainer’s fillies Nieta and Sval Queen won their Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic heats at Shepparton last Wednesday, booking qualification for the May 21 final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both were debutants for Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dam Farms, whose investment in trots racing continues to garner great dividends. Golino, who trains exclusively for Driscoll, said Wednesday night’s results were pleasing after the fillies met their first race-day test. “You can never be overly confident with two-year-old trotters,” Golino said. That included Nieta, who started the first heat a short-price and he said while she had “definitely shown she can go a little bit, she is obviously still learning the caper”. “I thought it pretty brave taking the $1.70 for a two-year-old trotter at her first start.” But in Greg Sugars’ calm hands Nieta never missed a beat, finding the front from barrier one and finding separation when the moment arrived. “(Greg) let her come out of the gate on her own, she had an easy middle half and she ran it out on her own stead,” Golino said. “She won it fairly handy. It was a good way to start.” The task was greater for Sval Queen in heat two, with Anthony Butt having to punch the breeze for much of the running. “Sval Queen did it tough. She had to sit in the death seat the trip and the fact that she could do that made me real happy with her.” From cover, favourite Illawong Shimmer loomed up late but Sval Queen had the answers to win by 2.2m and reward her trainer’s faith. “Nieta’s probably a little bit more talented, but Sval Queen has better manners,” he said. “She’s a readymade racehorse and has been from day one. I am probably more confident with Sval Queen if anything. She was impressive, it was very workmanlike.” The promising fillies will only enhance owner Driscoll’s dominance in the category. “Pat’s very passionate, hard working and does a lot of research on pedigrees,” Golino said. “He’s choosing the right stallions, having gone down the path of French stallions, and is seeing a lot of benefit from that. He deserves all the success he gets.” Michael Howard

HRNZ have made significant moves today to confirm several more Australian Harness Jewels invites. The latest runner to be officially invited is 4yo Armbro Invasion trotting mare Reina Danzante, trained by Nicole Molander. Owner Pat Driscoll is said to be delighted to have received an invite, and quickly snapped up his chance to come over and compete. Nicole Molander is very keen to have a jewels starter and is looking forward to the trip with her handy mare. Reina Danzante becomes the 5th invite, joining Arms Of An Angel, Heza Bromac, My Kiwi Mate and Illawong Byron as the other Australians set to cross the ditch and do battle. Owners of Eljaykay Phoenix and Princess Phoenix, along with their trainer David Aiken appreciated the interest shown in their two stars, but declined invites today with both set to focus on home features. HRNZ are not finished and are working on several other options for the remaining invites. Andrew Fitzgerald

The outstanding trotting race mare Kincaslough has had the plug pulled on her racing career after she pulled up a touch lame after Cup week. Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds was philosophical about the decision. " She was a touch lame after Cup week and we had her knees xrayed early last week." "The arthritis in her knees had got worse even though we had been treating her and the decision was made on Thursday last week to retire her." " She was too good to take any risks with," Aimee said. The daughter of Love You burst onto the national trotting scene early last season when she put a string of outstanding performances together, cumulating in her great run for third behind Jaccka Justy in the $255,000 Dominion Handicap. Troubled by those arthritic knees, Kincaslough has struggled to reproduce that sparkling form this spring and goes to the broodmare paddock the winner of ten races and over $133,000. Owned by Pat O'Driscoll of Yabby Dam Farms Ltd in Australia and Aimee Edmonds, Kincaslough is headed to Australia. " She is going to Pat's property at Ballarat and will be served once she has arrived." " The two stallions we are looking at are Ready Cash and Andover Hall and it just depends on sorting out the availability of the semen before a decision is made, Aimee said. While very disappointed to lose the services of the top line trotting mare on the track, Aimee says that is compensated by what is in store in the future. " Some of the progeny will make it back here for us to try so that will be very exciting when it happens," Aimee said. It is never easy to call time on a top race horse's career  but the owners here are to be applauded for putting Kincaslough's interests first and they should reap the rewards down the line with her progeny. Harnesslink Media

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