The big race draw curse has struck Shepparton-trained pacer San Carlo again with the nine-year-old warhorse coming up with a second row draw for tomorrow night’s $750 000 Inter Dominion final in Auckland.
But co-trainer Steve O’Donoghue is not greatly concerned and said he would be rapt in a top five finish.
‘‘The plan is to only use him up once in the run and hopefully he can get into a position early to do this. From that draw he could get a good run through and won’t have to do a lot of work early,’’ O’Donoghue said.
But O’Donoghue said expecting to win might be being a bit hopeful.
‘‘Ultimate Sniper is going to be hard to beat going on his heat wins.
But the most he (San Carlo) has been beaten in a heat is 4 m, so he hasn’t been far away,’’ O’Donoghue said.
San Carlo will be making his third successive appearance in an Inter Dominion final, only the third pacer to achieve this feat in the last decade.
San Carlo’s close-up seventh placing in the final round of heats last Friday night was enough to get him through to the final, which has always been the target of co-trainers O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley, who drives the son of Mach Three.
After making the pace for most of the trip San Carlo finished just 3.3 m from the heat winner and final favourite Ultimate Sniper who completed a clean sweep of heats with his win.
In tomorrow night’s final San Carlo, who is quoted $35 in early markets, will come from barrier 10, two off the second row.
San Carlo is not the only pacer with Goulburn Valley connections who has qualified for the final.
Echuca’s Rob Owen and former Seymourites Gary Dowling and John Wilkinson are in the syndicate that races the Brent Lilley-trained pacer Sicario who can a run a cheeky race at odds from barrier two off the front row. San Carlo and Sicario aren’t the only Goulburn Valley connected horses chasing ultimate Inter Dominion glory at the meeting.
The David Aiken-trained trotter Big Jack Hammer has qualified for the trotters final where he is drawn to run a cheeky race from barrier one.
Lincoln licks Zest
Tough stayer Rupert Of Lincoln thwarted a bid by Michael Stanley to train successive Gunbower Hotel Gunbower Pacing Cups with a dogged effort on Sunday.
Trapped three wide early and sitting for most of the challenging 2630 m trip outside the pacemaker, the Stanley-trained and driven second favourite American Zest, the Kerryn Manning-trained and driven Rupert Of Lincoln proved too tough in the end for his rivals.
The favoured pair had a two-horse battle to the wire with Rupert Of Lincoln out-toughing American Zest.
American Zest was attempting to give Stanley his second Gunbower in as many years after he had won the race last year with Rakemup Tigerpie who set a 1:56.4 track record in winning.
Elmore pacer Brackenreid ran his usual honest race for trainer Keith Cotchin to finish third, 11.4 m from the winner.
Rupert Of Lincoln has been one of Victoria’s most consistent pacers and in 18 starts for Manning since arriving from New Zealand has had 16 top three finishes, including eight wins.
A four-year-old by Lincoln Royal, Rupert Of Lincoln’s mile rate for the gruelling trip was a creditable 1:57.9.
Manning drove a double at the meeting, also winning a 46-120 class trotters race on the Greg Normantrained grey Blue Coman.
Despite a narrow loss in the cup on American Zest, Stanley also didn’t leave the course empty handed, claiming a 52-61 class pacers race with the hot favourite Single Tree Road.
And in another twist for the better Shepparton horsewoman Laura Crossland, who had to be content with Celerina finishing second to Single Tree Road, was still able to sample major success at the meeting with Mamas New Dude, who downed the second favourite Cee Cee In America, for his fifth win in 17 starts.
Making Right Moves
Arcadia trainer Patrick Ryan produced two winners in two days earlier this week.
He rolled out the talented threeyear-old Hesty for a first-up win at Gunbower on Sunday and then drew blood again on Monday at Melton with promising trotter Right Moves, also a three-year-old.
Hesty, who is raced by a syndicate of Ryan’s family, was most impressive disposing of his rivals by nearly 18 m in his first hit-out since September.
He was having just his fourth start and has now won three of those outings, producing a slick PB 1:56.5 mile rate for the 2030 m trip in his latest win.
Right Moves was also impressive in taking a heat of the Aldebaran Vicbred Home Grown Classic for three-year-old trotting fillies at Melton.
The daughter of French sire, The Best Madrik, was having only her third trip to the races, having won on debut at Shepparton on November 1.
Driven by Chris Alford, Right Moves rated a slick 58.3 last half in getting the better of the other well fancied runner Naked Ambition in the run to the finishing line.
Barney salutes in cup
The Cohuna Car Sales and Bill Poxon Memorial Gunbower Trotters Cup was won by the Brent Lilleytrained and Josh Duggan-driven Kyvalley Barney for Kyvalley ownerbreeder Jim Connelly.
In winning the eight-year-old broke a streak of three successive fifth placings and claimed his first win in 25 starts.
Kyvalley Barney singled out with Godofthunder to fight out the finish and was able to keep his neck in front at the finishing line.
All-American bred by Credit Winner out of the Cantal Hall mare Amberfire Hanover, Kyvalley Barney has 10 wins and 22 placings and more than $114 000 in stake earnings.
Ole it’s Nikolay
Echuca trainer Mick McMahon produced a quaddie crushing win with pacer Dallas Nikolay at Gunbower.
Despite sitting parked outside the pacemaker La Player, Dallas Nikolay, driven by top reinswoman Kima Frenning, was too strong for his rivals in the 56-71 class race to bring up his 10th win at his 102nd start.
Dallas Nikolay was a 31/1 shot and was responsible for knocking out most punters in the quaddie which paid a whopping $26 894.
Rockin in Kilmore
Goulburn Valley trainers got their share of the spoils at Kilmore on Thursday of last week.
Undera horseman Glenn Freeman pulled off a top training feat by producing Rockin In Memphis for a win at his first outing in nearly a year.
Driven by Josh Duggan Rockin In Memphis made a mess of his rivals, careering away in the home straight to win by nearly 12 m.
In winning the son of Rocknroll Hanover rated a slick PB of 1:56.5 for the 1690 m trip.
At the same meeting Shepparton horseman Clive Dalton produced trotter Allwoods Sunbeam for her second win.
Dalton partnered the four-yearold daughter of Majestic Son to a runaway win, with nearly 20 m to spare at the finishing line over the runner-up Allens Delight.
Elmore trainer Matthew Higgins also enjoyed a win at the meeting with Calaquendi who won at nice odds with top reinsman Chris Alford in the sulky.
Brown bobs up
Goulburn Valley trainers and drivers enjoyed success last Friday at Wagga.
Trainer Amanda Turnbull produced Joonior Brown to claim a heat of the Kevin and Kay Seymour Evolution Series for three-year-olds.
Joonior Brown was driven to a commanding victory by David Moran.
While the favourite in the race, the Daniel Jack-trained La La Bron never gave his backers any hope, Jack was still a winner at the meeting, partnering the Phillip Bryce-trained Rory McLory to victory.
A sweet Tweet
Ask Bunbartha trainer John Newberry what his favourite track is at the moment and it’s a good bet he’d declare Bendigo.
Newberry had a recent training double on the track and struck again at last week’s meeting.
A tough staying effort by Tweet About It provided the win for Newberry who also drove the Always A Virgin mare.
The win was popular with punters as well as she started a $3 favourite.
Tweet About It’s win came a week after she and stablemate Shez Elite had provided Newberry with a training and driving double at the track.