Day At The Track

Mare presses pause on retirement plans

10:40 PM 04 May 2016 NZST
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Pressplay brought her stables its first Group 1 when she claimed the 2014 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series.

A family favourite put retirement talks on the backburner with a barnstorming run in the harness racing Traralgon Pacing Cup at Warragul.

Pressplay has long been held in special regard at Daisy Hill Racing, a Doreen farm that Rebecca Cartwright oversees with her husband, Craig Turnbull, for trots and gallops owners Kevin and Colleen Bamford, whose success includes the 2010 Melbourne Cup with Americain.

Owned and bred by Cartwright, the six-year-old has mustered almost $140,000 in stakes across her 55 starts, which have yielded 31 placings including 12 wins. Most prominent among them was the Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for four-year-olds in 2014, which garnered $66,550 for the stable.

“She’s been a good little mare,” Cartwright said. “She was our first Group 1 winner when she won the Super Series.”

It was the career that almost never happened after a freak injury struck the previous year.

“She pierced her pedal bone when she was a three-year-old. She had lost a shoe in the paddock and stood on a nail,” Cartwright said. “She has had problems with her feet ever since and has had to be managed.”

This has long been viewed as the pacer’s final season before she is sent to the breeding barn, a decision that was almost fast-tracked when Pressplay ran poorly when beaten by 54m at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 1.

“She pulled up really distressed. Her action was really different on the night and we were not sure why,” Cartwright said. “It was back to the drawing board. We thought it may have been her last run and that it was time to retire her, but her track work was sensational, so we thought we would take her to trial and test her.”

In the trial Pressplay ran third behind Hokonui Ben and Show Heeza Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 26. “She got through the trial pretty good and so we found a decent run for her in the Traralgon Cup.”

Raced at Warragul Harness Racing Club, Turnbull eased Pressplay to the rear of the cup field from barrier five while Shifty Shivas and Show Heza Classic poured on the pace at the front. Turnbull showed patience, waiting until the approach to the final bend before setting Pressplay three-wide to try and run down the leader.

“The speed was on in front and that’s how she needs it. She’s a real sit-sprinter,” Cartwright said. “She come with a big run and was really strong on the line. She doesn’t really have a chance to win at the turn, and if she had have run into fourth or even sixth I would have been so excited. But she just kept coming.

“When she won it we were very excited. She is only a little mare but has a big burst of speed.”

Cartwright said she “pulled up as well as she ever had” and they planned a “couple more races” for her, including at Shepparton on Wednesday.

Michael Howard

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