Day At The Track

Brallos Pass leaves his mark in Ouyen Cup

05:29 AM 25 Mar 2019 NZDT
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Trainer Mark Watson and reinswoman Ellen Tormey after the Ouyen Pacing Cup
Trainer Mark Watson and reinswoman Ellen Tormey after the Ouyen Pacing Cup

Astute Kyabram harness racing trainer Mark Watson could have been excused for having an air of confidence going into Sunday’s Ouyen Pacing Cup.

“He didn’t have any luck whatsoever at his previous run when he was eighth at the Charlton Pacing Cup at Melton eight days before,” Watson said.

And Brallos Pass (Major in Art-Miss Athens (Bettors Delight) didn’t disappoint Watson and his followers, running his rivals ragged to score an impressive 20-metre victory, after death-seating most of the way.

The cup win over 2430 metres served only to underline the toughness of the six-year-old, but also his versatility.  In the previous 14 days he’d scored a blistering come-from-behind win over 1740 metres at the opening of the new Wagga track, before the luckless 8th over 2760 metres at Melton and then the Ouyen win.

“He’s a special little horse and I’ve got no hesitation in saying the best we’ve ever had by a long way,” an elated Watson said.

“We were lucky to get the run through that we did from the second row, but Ellen (reinswoman Ellen Tormey) did a great job in summing up the situation,” he said. 

“When you get to his class, you need a bit of luck, so it was nice that it panned out okay.”

Brallos Pass recorded the most impressive Ouyen Cup win seen for many years, finishing well clear of Perspective and the early leader Manganello, scorching over the 2430 metres in 1:58.4.

Tormey said Brallos Pass cruised to the line.

“The plan was to get to the death seat at some stage, so when we got there very easily, I felt pretty confident from that stage,” she said.

To watch the video replay of the race click here.

Watson and his wife Michelle prepare a team of 10 horses at their Kyabram property, with the assistance of their sons Luke and Mason.

Brallos Pass was purchased at the APG sales in 2013 by Mal and Neil Lennie who had horses for many years with Mark’s father, Mildura trainer, Ian Watson.

“The Lennies bought three yearlings that year and dad was cutting down on his numbers, and they asked me if I could take Brallos Pass,” Watson said.

“I’m pretty glad I did!  They’ve been terrific owners and although Brallos Pass has been good to them, they’ve put a lot back into the industry since, because they’ve been back to the yearling sales every year,” he said.

“Brallos Pass has taken us to Sydney, Adelaide and Queensland, and all over Victoria and we’re just enjoying what he’s been able to do for us.

“He is a stallion so sometimes his mind can wander, but when he’s right, he’s a terrific little horse and very versatile.”

The Watsons are originally from Broken Hill and moved to Shepparton when “out of the blue” in 2002, Mark was asked by the late Kevin Abrahams to take on the role as private trainer at Meadowbrook Stud.

Three years later, Mark and Michelle went out on their own, moving their operation and young family to Kyabram.

“It was a fantastic opportunity but the decision to go out on our own was really about balance.  We felt family life was missing out a bit, so we decided to have a go, mainly concentrating on breaking in horses initially,” Mark said.

“We still had a few racehorses, but it was really just once a week to the races, which was a much better balance for us.

“Gavin Lang, who’d been doing our driving at the time, was fantastic and sent us a truckload of breakers, and that’s how we got started.”

The Watsons concentrate these days less on breaking in and more on preparing a racing team for a small number of owners, but Brallos Pass has been the standout success.

“He really didn’t show his ability immediately when I broke him in,” Mark said.

“Michelle asked me what I thought of him early days and I told her he was a ‘paddler’, which doesn’t sound like much of a wrap now! 

“But he absolutely loved his work – you couldn’t work him too hard – and I think it was his third prep where he started to show his depth and that he was going to be something above average.”

As a juvenile, Brallos Pass went on to win the South Australian Derby and a heat of the NSW Derby, as well as a heat of the VicBred Super Series (3YO) and third in the final.  As a four-year-old, he ran fourth in the Group One APG 2yo final in Sydney and finished second only to Lazarus in the Group One Bonanza at Melton.

The Ouyen win is the high point in an impressive run of form before Brallos Pass’s next assignment, the $60,000 Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival in April.

“We were tossing up between Ouyen and the Horsham Cup, but Ouyen being that bit earlier we decided to go that way,” Watson said.

“Had we gone to Horsham, it would have been three runs over 2600 metres or more in the space of two weeks, so we decided Ouyen was the better lead up,” he said.

The Mildura Cup is unique on the Victorian country cups circuit in that it is run over heat and final conditions on a Tuesday and Saturday. But Watson has good reason to be confident of Brallos Pass’s capacity in the format.

“We’ve been to the Mildura Cup with him in 2017 (3rd in the heat, 3rd in the final) and 2018 (3rd  in the heat and 4th in the final) and he’s handled it really well,” he said.

“So we’ll give him another shot and see how he goes.”

Watson said although Brallos Pass was the undoubted star of the Watson barn at this stage, his half-sister was also a promising prospect.

“Miss Artemis (Art Major-Miss Athens (Bettors Delight) will have her first start this week at Bendigo.  It’s a very strong field of two-year-olds she is coming up against and she might need some more time, but I do like her a fair bit,” he said.

“We’ve also just tipped out a two-year-old we bought at the sales for the same owners, Esterna (Art Major-Marissima (Christian Cullen) who we think will also do a good job for us.”

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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