Day At The Track

School bus driver on a winning roll

09:45 AM 22 Oct 2020 NZDT
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Steve Maguire with Major Roll,Harness racing
Steve Maguire with Major Roll
Wagga Wagga Harness Racing Club

Driving a school bus means Stephen Maguire's life is as regular as clockwork - but his harness racing driving, on the other hand, is providing plenty of excitement this year.

Maguire, who lives at Mirrool, 50kms south of West Wyalong, in the fertile Riverina district of NSW, is riding the crest of a wave with talented four-year-old pacer Major Roll (Roll With Joe-Courlivia (Art Major).

The gelding, with seven wins to his name this year, has certainly developed into somewhat of a "cups king".

Major Roll's most recent victory was last weekend in the 2020 West Wyalong Services and Citizens Club Pacers Cup, worth $17,850.

"It was certainly a great day for me and the other part-owner Dave Hargrave. West Wyalong always puts on a fantastic Cup day," Maguire said.

"I go into there to trial and some of the guys were talking about the cup ages ago. I thought: 'gee I'd better remember when that's coming up'," he said.

"The race has been a very good one for me over the years because I reckon I've probably been fortunate enough to win it either five or six times."

On this occasion, Maguire got a nice run through from the back row after the field was released, and landed in the one-one.

"I had to go early because the favorite made his move, so I went to the top with him on my outside," he said.

"The 2540m trip suited us and the horse responded really well, because there was a bit of pressure there.

"Only part-owner Dave was able to attend due to the COVID restrictions. My wife Robyn was at home watching it on the television. She's just got a new knee, but she said she was yelling and screaming at the end!"

Major Roll was tough in winning by two metres from Kanena Provlima (Justin Reynolds) with the luckless Firestorm Red (Mitch Turnbull) a neck away in third place. The warm favorite Golden Year ($1.75) was close-up in fourth spot.


Major Roll in full flight           (Photo: Meg Maguire)

The West Wyalong win provided Major Roll with his third country cup for the year-he took out the $14,790 Junee Pacers Cup in late January after winning a qualifying heat the previous week and then claimed the $10,200 Coolamon Pacers Cup in March.

"The horse has been terrific, without being a superstar. I think he's won at least 50 percent of the time we've taken him to the races, so I may be playing him down a little," Maguire said.

He is indeed! Major Roll has faced the starter on 37 occasions for an amazing strike rate of 19 wins and eight places for over $145,000.

As a two-year-old, the pacer won a heat of the Breeders Plate at Leeton before recording a runaway win in the $40,000 final. Six months later he took out the $30,000 Group Three Breeders Challenge at Bathurst.

"We travelled to Menangle in June for a heat of the Cordina Chickens and he won that. We've been there a few other times and I remember finishing second on one of the trips," Maguire said.

"I'm working five at the moment, but Major Roll is the best one. There's only one other that's racing so we'll just keep poking along."

Over the years, the stable has also taken out the Wagga Cup with former talented pacer Ras Destra.

They've also won the Leeton Cup a few times as well as the Cootamundra Cup.

In the late 1990s, Maguire had some " big guns" in Albibby Boy (Happy Bobby-Popular Trick (Overtricks) and Big Wal (Big Band Sound-Winter March (Winterlight).

Albibby Boy finished with 14 wins and six placings from only 29 starts for $78,000 while Big Wal was awesome with 29 wins and 20 placings from 82 starts for over $150,000.

Maguire said he enjoyed doing the morning and afternoon school bus run.

"We've been at it for 21 years, so we know our way around," he laughed.

"I sometimes get a few of the horses done before the morning shift because I do get busy. We also have a small farm of about 300 acres. Apart from cropping enough for ourselves, we run about 100 cross-bred ewes so there's always something to do.

"We also breed a few each year. Dave and I have a some broodmares, and we really enjoy the breeding side."

For the moment, though, it's fair to expect their pin-up boy Major Roll will still have more than a few memorable moments to deliver yet for the pair.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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