Day At The Track

Len Maher scores special trotting win

03:47 AM 17 Jul 2019 NZST
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Len Maher and Chris Svanosio
Junortoun trainer Len Maher and Chris Svanosio with Declan Henry following the eight-year-old trotter's 'special' win at Maryborough on Monday.

Len Maher has enjoyed his fair share of success through his nearly 60 years involvement in harness racing.

And while has enjoyed plenty of bigger wins than that of Declan Henry's maiden victory at Maryborough on Monday, few have been as special for the now 85-year-old.

A nine-year-old trotter with 20 previous starts for just two minor placings, Declan Henry was initially Len's son Graeme's horse.

Graeme - a former Bendigo Harness Racing Club track manager and trainer-driver - sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2017, with Declan Henry being leased out the previous year.

Len said it was Graeme's wish that his father continued training and hoped that Declan Henry would some day win a race.

That break through arrived on Monday.

To watch the replay of this race click here.

"The horse was special to Graeme, he got him up and going," Maher said.

"We had him out on lease, but he didn't win a race.

"I got him back and got him going and I thought 'I'll do this for Graeme' and we've won a race with him.

"That was our aim, which is what we set out to do .... it was beautiful.

"Graeme was desperate for him to win a race and we did."

Monday's win ended a run of four-straight fourth place finishes since Maher resumed the training duties with Declan Henry.

The veteran trainer praised Chris Svanosio's steer aboard the bay gelding.

"Those fourths, he was always a bit slow away and was at the tail of the field trying to get around them, whereas on Monday, he had a good run, got a nice spot in the race and was able to finish it off nicely," Maher said.

"He's a nice driver Chris - he looks after the horses and does a great job with them.

"I am not going to say if there are more wins in (Declan Henry), our aim was one and we've done it. There are no grand plans with him. If he can win another win it's a bonus."

The win culminated a big few days for the Maher family.

It followed a posthumous award win for Graeme for meritorious service from the Australian Harness Racing Council.

That followed an emotional win earlier this year for reinsman Haydon Gray in the Grame Maher Memorial trot at Lord's Raceway in February.

Gray and young trainer Maddie Ray use the Maher's property at Junortoun, next door to Lord's Raceway, as their training base.

Another sentimental moment for the Maher family is expected to arrive some time this year, when the affectionately named trotter Graemes Wish, who is currently trialling, makes his race debut.

"You can imagine what that (name) means," he said.

"It was Graeme's wish that I go on with the horses and that's why we called him that.

"He's got a bit of a way to go yet, but he will get there."

By Kieran Iles

Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

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