Day At The Track

Reinswomen dominate in Mildura Cup heats

01:12 AM 10 Apr 2019 NZST
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Bec Bartley and San Carlo,Harness racing
Bec Bartley
Sky Racing

It’s Mildura Cup week. The racing is fierce, the atmosphere is electric, the whole town's buzzing, and did I mention the racing is fierce?

Going into night one of the annual three-meeting carnival, many thought San Carlo wasn’t just over the line in his heat of the Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup, they thought he was unbackable for Saturday night's final, too.

As it went, he did win tonight, but by only a head after a scintillating contest befitting a picture-perfect Mildura Cup Carnival evening.

San Carlo, better known to those closest to him as “Murray”, was sent to the breeze position (outside the leader) in his heat once reinswoman Ellen Tormey pushed her charge, Brallos Pass, to the front ahead of early pacesetter Lucky Lombo. 

Bartley would have known Tormey had signalled her intentions aboard the leader pre-race – “I respect San Carlo a lot but on these tight tracks you have to do that sometimes," she said – and during the event when Brallos kicked up.

Tormey's unwillingness to relinquish top billing made the race.

She also allowed Brallos Pass to stride along freely in the middle stages, the heat a significantly quicker affair than the other cup qualifier won earlier by Reciprocity.

Just over a furlong from the finish, approaching the final bend in the gruelling 2600m heat, Brallos Pass and San Carlo had cleared out from a valiant Emain Macha and Lucky Lombo in third and fourth.  Yes this was a heat, but you couldn’t tell.

Neither horse, neither driver would yield in a stride-for-stride slog. But in the finish there can only be one winner and tonight San Carlo landed the decision on points.

His winning mile rate was 1:58.5.

“I was a little bit worried on the turn,” Bartley admitted post-race.

“He came off the bit and I thought 'oh gee, maybe he’s not as fit as I thought', but he really tried hard and I know I’ll have a better horse on Saturday.”

Bartley paid tribute to her steed, but also to the runner-up’s driver Tormey for making it a stoush for the ages. And this is just the entrée.

Of her boy Murray, Bartley remarked he’d developed into the all-round racehorse under the tutelage of trainer Stephen O’Donoghue.

“He’s so seasoned now. He’s a seasoned traveller who just takes trips away all in his stride. He’ll probably have an easy day tomorrow then a bit of jog work the next few days," she said.

Earlier, star mare Reciprocity (pictured winning below) won her heat courtesy of a typically perfectly timed Kerryn Manning drive.

The five-year-old, trained by Kerryn’s dad, the legendary Peter Manning, produced a mile rate of 2:00.4 to upstage Perspective by 7.9m.

Hitting the road home for the long trip back to her Great Western property after the win, Manning said Reciprocity was every bit “worth the trip”.

“She’s worth coming to drive and we’ll do it all again on Saturday,” she said before saying she had the chance tonight to make it home not too long after midnight, which "wasn't too bad!"

“It panned out well. We trailed through nicely and lobbed handy enough. She settled really well and we got a nice cart up. They went pretty hard up the back, which helped me a lot.”

Manning is already a two-time winner of the Mildura Cup, and she’s hopeful Reciprocity can upstage San Carlo and co in the big dance on Saturday to deliver a third helping of Sunraysia silverware to sit alongside Go Charles’ trophy of 2001 and Arden Rooney’s of 2015.

“She handled the track pretty good. She’s been to Melton most of the time lately, so the littler track and the distance was a bit of a query, but she’s tough and very versatile. She’s showed the last few runs she can do a bit of work or sit back and sprint,” Manning said.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Herbertson and John Caldow snared winning doubles on the card.

Herbertson could hardly believe the ride he got aboard Our Little Actress, who cruised to a 25.8m win in the DNR Logistics Pace Final for trainer Frank Mercieca after securing the perfect trip in transit.

Herbertson backed it up in Race 4, the first of the Tenderprint Australia Cup heats with victory aboard Sunrose Master for trainer Danny Curran, who defeated Willem.

Caldow, who is driving in sublime form right now, steered Stephen Telfer pair Our Dance Time and Our Step Up to wins in the Mildura Working Man’s Club Pace (Second Heat) and Tenderprint Australia Cup (Second Heat) respectively.

Other winners tonight were Starzzz Princess for Peta Brown and Darby McGuigan in the Tankard Dental Pace Final at big odds, and Geronimo Dan for Sandra O’Connor and Alex Ashwood in the first heat of the Working Man’s Club Pace.

The action continues on Thursday night with the Seelite Windows and Doors Mildura Trotters Cup before Saturday night's Cup Final meeting. 

 

Cody Winnell

Trots Media

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