Day At The Track

Jack lays down the "law" for new season

10:00 AM 22 Jan 2021 NZDT
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And that’s five! Jack Laugher marks a career highlight with the Peter O’Brien-trained Harry McKinnis at Mildura, Harness racing
And that’s five! Jack Laugher marks a career highlight with the Peter O’Brien-trained Harry McKinnis at Mildura
Charli Masotti Photography

After adding a "bag of five" to his expanding harness racing CV at this week's Mildura meeting, you'd think talented young Victorian reinsman Jack Laugher would be content to just enjoy the moment.

But after an 800-kilometre round-trip from Bendigo and a 4.30 am finish to his Mildura mission, the single-minded Laugher was back feeding up and doing jog work early the next morning...and setting his sights on the next challenge, tomorrow night's Group One Ballarat Pacing Cup.

"Yes, it was a pretty good night on Wednesday (at Mildura). You have your good runs and your bad runs in this game, and at the moment I'm having a good run, so I'm definitely enjoying that," Laugher said.

"I knew I had a reasonable book of drives and three of my winners opened up at two dollars or less, I think, so I was just glad to be able to get the job done for them," he said.

Laugher opened up his winning account at Mildura on White Star Village (Village Jolt - Priscilla Presley (Village Jasper) for young Mildura trainer Reece Moore. He then scored with Pembrook Charlie (Sportswriter - Pembrook Belle (Art Major) for Julie Douglas. He followed up with Maestro Bellini (Bettors Delight - Santuzza (Safely Kept) for the Kate Hargreaves stable, then continued his fine touch with Laser Major (Art Major - Virgin Goddess (Albert Albert) for Mildura trainer Rick Holmes in race 10. Laugher rounded off the "fab five" in the final race on the big 12-race fixture with Harry McKinnis (Shadyshark Hanover - Haryda Hanover (Armbro Operative) for another local trainer in Peter O'Brien.


Jack Laugher back in the winner’s circle again (Photograph: Charli Masotti photography)

It was a fitting high-point for Laugher who's launched impressively into the new season. Prior to his Mildura success, Laugher recorded seven wins (including three metropolitan victories), and 9 placings from 44 starters.

He got 2021 off to a flier on January 2 winning with Better Be The Bomb at Melton (for Basil Dooley) then followed up the next day with a Group three win in the Central Victoria Championship with Krafty Bart (Emma Stewart). On January 4 he won at Maryborough (Fighting Fury for Emma Stewart); January 6 (Ferocious Son for Basil Dooley); January 8 (Rockasaki at Melton, Emma Stewart); January 9 (Torrid Saint at Bendigo for Julie Douglas; and January 15 (Execution Oro at Maryborough for Emma Stewart).

In another career highlight, Laugher makes no secret he is thrilled to be partnering Better Be The Bomb in the Ballarat Cup. He's had four drives on the pacer for two wins and a second.

"He's the best I've driven no doubt. He's a lovely horse and to get an opportunity to drive in a Group One race while I'm still a junior is a pretty special thing to me," he said.

"It'll be a great just to be there and I think the horse will do his best. The race has changed complexion a little bit, with Hurricane Harley scratched. We will definitely need some luck somewhere, but we'll be doing our best."

Laugher has already moved away from family in Tasmania to pursue his career, after following his dad Michael and his grandparents into the sport.

"I wasn't really that interested until I was about 16. I was always going to be a mechanic, but about the same time I got offered an apprenticeship I'd already started with the horses and getting my trials licence so I was always going to go this way," he said.

"Mum and Dad actually moved to Victoria when I was only little, then moved back home to look after my grandma, but dad still used to bring a team over to Victoria to campaign for a couple of months each year.

"The last trip he did I came over with him and I just decided Victoria had more opportunities for me. Tassie is great, but you can usually only race twice a week there - here you can race twice a day sometimes. So I just thought if I wanted to make a living out of it, I had to move."

Laugher demonstrates on a weekly basis he's willing to go almost anywhere for a drive in an effort to make the successful transition from concession to senior driving ranks.

"I'm not really sure how long I have left on my claim, but it's not long, so I need to be getting those regular drives, and driving without a lift, otherwise when my claim runs out, it's going to be hard," he said.

"It's nice that a lot of the ones I'm driving don't need a claim, so hopefully now that I've got a bit of a run going, I can keep it rolling."

In the past COVID-extended season the youngster had 89 wins.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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