Have you heard the one about the horse at the bar?
“Cadel”, with owner Kerrie Lee, sidles up to the bar to meet a fan
Photo courtesy Kerrie Lee
The drinkers at the Torrumbarry Hotel, near Echuca, couldn’t believe their eyes last Sunday afternoon when a harness racing horse strolled up to the bar.
“They weren’t too sure whether it was a dare or a bet – they were totally blown away!” said Mark Lee, a trainer-driver based at Tallygaroopna.
“After they all settled down and realized what was going on, there were mobile phones taking photographs everywhere.”
Mark and his wife Stacey took out the Torrumbarry Hotel Motel Trot at the Gunbower meeting with seven-year-old gelding Col Du Galibier ( USA-Styx (R C’s Dee Jay) so they thought it was only fitting to call into the hotel on the trip home.
“The idea of actually taking the horse into the bar was probably hatched at the trots meeting when we were having a few drinks and a chat with a group of people,” Mark said.
“I’m not sure who suggested it, but we all got on board because race sponsors like the Torrumbarry Hotel people are so important these days,” he said.
“There was probably about 20 people in the bar when we walked in with ‘Cadel’ as he’s known at home around the stables.
“He didn’t get bothered one bit – not that we thought he would, because we wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”
Col Du Galibier raced by Jeff, Annette and Andrew Towers, along with Kerrie Lee, was the first leg of a training double for Mark Lee. And it was the first of two winners for owner Kerrie, who is Mark’s mum.
Mark Lee - Photo Barry Bennett and Cobram Harness Racing Club.
To add to the celebrations, Stacey’s parents and brother are also part-owners in Col Du Galibier, so it was a day to remember.
“The horse has been going nicely and it was fitting that Stacey got the win. She does most of the work with him and he’s actually her stable favorite,” Mark said.
Stacey Towers - Photo Barry Bennett and Cobram Harness Racing Club.
“I thought when Stacey got cover and landed in the one-one they would be hard to beat.”
Just on half an hour later in the following race, the Egmont Park Stud Pace, Mark was not only in the winner’s circle as trainer again, but this time as driver as well.
A forward move to race in the death- seat proved to be a winning one as Rebellin Ruby (Art Official- Hope To Fly (Jet Laag) dug deep to score well as rank outsider at nearly 60/1.
“I really couldn’t believe she was at those odds as her form wasn’t that bad,” Mark said.
“But the races do have to be run to suit her, I guess. If she can be up the front somewhere, she keeps grinding away and that was why I didn’t hesitate to get to the chair when they slowed up.
“After the first quarter of 33 secs, the race tempo stepped up with even splits of a bit over 29 secs from then on, so I was reasonably happy.”
Mark said he’d previously trained a couple of other winning doubles, but that was his first at Gunbower.
“We hardly ever miss a meeting at that venue – it’s a good club and not all that far for us to travel.
”Rebellin Ruby is owned by Kerrie along with keen stable supporter Dennis Rebbeck, of Euroa, who enjoys having shares in horses from the stable.
Both Mark and Stacey have been training for 15 years and were originally from Sydney but decided to make the Shepparton area their home.
They have a huge 92-acre property that boasts a 1000 metre track.
“We are doing a team of 12 at present, with seven of those being babies. Apart from the two winners, a few others including Nica MacDonon are being jogged up,” he said.
“Nica missed getting in foal so it’s back to the races for her, but that’s ok.”
Nica MacDonon, a last start Shepparton winner in early December of last year, when driven by Stacey, has been a handy racehorse for breeder-owner Peter Hornsby.
The mare, by Eileen Donon USA, out of Styx (winner of 5 from 17, and a prolific broodmare) has won 13 races with 29 placings for over $122,000 in stakes.
The Gunbower meeting was also successful for Danny Curran, who prepares a small team at Marong.
Curran trained a winning double with Sunrose Master (Vintage Master-Sunrose Mary (Village Jasper), handled by James Herbertson; and Mia From Memphis (Rocknroll Hanover-Armbroosky (Armbro Operative), driven by Ryan Duffy.
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