Day At The Track

Teaching taking a backseat this week

01:44 PM 24 Jun 2015 NZST
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Katrina and Andrew Doherty are the proud owners of Fountain Lakes.
Katrina and Andrew Doherty are the proud owners of Fountain Lakes.

Harness racing names like Fitzpatrick and McCarthy dominate the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge honour roll.

It is no surprise to see the bigger stables starring on the feature days with the leading trainers targeting the rich juvenile races.

However what makes harness racing so accessible and the Breeders Challenge so inviting for participants is the chance for the smaller trainers to mix it with the stars of the sport.

Hobby trainer Andrew Doherty is looking forward to Sunday when his three year old filly Fountain Lakes will compete in the $125,000 Breeders Challenge.

The science and biology high school teacher will be pitted against the likes of multiple Gr. 1 winning trainers Mark Purdon and Steve Turnbull and while he is proud of his filly after she qualified last Saturday night, he is playing down her chances.

"Fountain Lakes is no chance of beating Mark Purdon's filly Supersonic Miss but we have drawn well (barrier one) and she got home very well in her semi final last week," Doherty said.

"I juggle two young kids, a fulltime job and my wife Jo tells me I have too many hobbies but I grew up with the horses and even though I left the industry while I travelled and worked overseas I always thought that I would return to harness racing at some stage."

Fountain Lakes is raced by Doherty and his sister Katrina and the 41-year old is no stranger to driving in feature races.

He drove Justabitofmagic for his father John in the 2000 NSW Sires Stakes Final for three year old fillies, finishing seventh behind Pelicanrama.

"I grew up at The Rock in the Riverina and was always around horses with Dad and my brother Tim.

"Dad trained some nice horses and I was lucky enough to get the drive in the Sires final in 2002.

"I kept on driving until 2001 and then went to London and taught there for 18 months before travelling for another six and coming back to Australia."

Doherty's wife Jo was from Scone so they settled in Newcastle and it wasn't long before he was interested in rekindling his interest in the sport.

"I put an ad on the Trading Ring on the national website just seeing if there was anyone who needed a hand and I ended up getting in contact with Brett Bunfield and got back into it that way."

"I went to the APG sales and bought Fountain Lake's mother Second Best Friend, she was pretty well bred and is related to Lennytheshark and Blissfull Boy."

Second Best Friend went onto win four races and placed in a further twenty.

"I trained her up until Jo and I had our first child Sam, then I gave the horse to Aaron Garaty to train and when she finished racing, my sister and I put her in foal to Armbro Operative and Fountain Lakes was her first foal.

"Normally I like to get the horses up and going and then look to sell them and that was the case with Fountain Lakes, Katrina and I had $30,000 on her at the start of the season but couldn't get the right money so we decided to keep her and we are glad now that we did."

Doherty's two children Sam aged eight and five-year old Adelaide will be in attendance on Sunday afternoon and will be cheering loudly for their Dad and their favourite horse.

"She is pretty quiet and she is really good with the kids, they are going to come down to the races on Sunday afternoon.

"I'm not going to be doing anything extraordinary, I'm just going to follow the paint and hopefully run into a place that would be a great result for me."

Greg Hayes

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