Day At The Track

"Major" ends a five-year drought

11:00 AM 04 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Rick Holmes and Laser Major
Rick Holmes and Laser Major – the rejuvenated pacer has scored his first win since 2016

Harness racing journeyman Rick Holmes knew that it had been a long time between drinks for his recent stable addition Laser Major - but he was more than happy to team up with the old-timer to try to break the drought.

"I was aware that he'd been racing in the Bathurst region and that's pretty strong, but he was struggling a bit to find any form. I wasn't overly concerned by that because I did like the horse," Holmes said.

"But the length of time away from the winner's circle did catch me by surprise."

However, after some promising placings, 10-year-old Laser Major (Art Major-Virgin Goddess (Albert Albert) landed the money at his Victorian home track with an impressive 1.58-3 over the 1709m trip.

To watch the video replay click here.

Laser Major and Michael Stanley combined to win at Mildura

His prior victory was 1727 days previous (or four years, eight months, three weeks and one day) at Newcastle in February, 2016. And he needed another 51 starts to again taste victory-this time at Mildura.

Holmes, who is now based at Red Cliffs, near Mildura, said a friend from Adelaide had told him Laser Major was on the market.

"He's a pretty good judge and besides the horse was a real cheapie. So Mick Andreadis, who has horses racing in most States, thought he could be okay for the Mildura region and bought him," he said.

"Laser Major was unlucky at his first start. He was going to run a place before copping severe interference on the home corner. He then ran third and second."

Holmes said the pacer finished down the track at his next few, but a foot abscess was found to be the problem.

"When I saw that Mick Stanley was coming up from Ballarat to drive, I didn't hesitate to put him on and he got the job done for us," he said.

Laser Major downed Selaphobia, who has since posted a victory, and consistent Bendigo trained horse Goodjet.

"We used to joke that we'd never bought a 10-year-old before. And then when we realized he hadn't won for nearly five years, we probably did start to question ourselves," Holmes laughed.

Laser Major has had 85 starts for four wins and 11 placings for $25,900.

Holmes grew up in the Millewa farming region, between Mildura and the South Australian border.

"We were in the Werrimull area and I used to watch Paleface Adios and other horses of that era. They would show the trots on TV back then and we'd also go to the Mildura meetings as much as we could," he said.

"I remember when the grandstand would be packed and there'd be about 25 bookies operating. I used to walk around the grandstand picking up empty coke bottles and getting 10 cents for each one.

"My sister started going out with a young trotting trainer and eventually I decided to have a go. I still remember thinking 'how good is this?' at my few first goes!

"Later on, another local well-known horseman in Frank Cavallaro was a big influence. It was 32 years ago and Frank wrote a reference to help me get my B Grade trainer's licence."

Two years on and Holmes moved to Melbourne and got a job with John "Bulldog" Nicholson.

"I've probably had seven or eight stints with him. One of the biggest things I learnt there was that every horse is an individual and the importance of feeding them correctly," he said.

"I also worked for the Lance Justice and Tonkin stables. As well I spent eight years in Queensland and was an A Grade trainer and driver. I also had a short stint as a stablehand in SA."

Holmes said he took a break from harness racing for a seven-year period during which time he "saw a fair bit of the country".

"There were all sorts of jobs - I worked on a cotton farm and ran a pub for a bit," he said.

"My harness racing driver's licence ran out, but I'm back at the trials so I can be re-licenced. I've got to do 30 trial drives.

"I only ever drove in about 20 races back in 1993 and got a couple of placings-I'd just love to get a winner."

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura


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