A mate of mine complains regularly that the Lighthouse doesn’t give the trots a fair go
“Lighthouse”, Sean grizzles, “In the past 12 months you have inspired me with insights into cane toad racing, jousting and Eurovision, along with your astute thoroughbred observations, and yet you have never once given the trots a run. It’s Australia’s premier after dark activity you know, and not acknowledging it is a disgrace.”
Sean, of course, has skin in the harness game. He is a hobby owner, trainer, breeder and very occasional driver of low budget standardbreds. Like so many in the harness game, it’s a lifestyle and a passion which chews up his spare time and his spare funds.
He had a good one early on called Greater Magellan whose numerous winning photos adorn much of his home. Great memories for those cold winter nights, plus he says the ladies apparently find walls full of trots snaps quite inviting. That news shocked me somewhat, as I’ve never known Mrs. Lighthouse’s blood pressure to rise in a good way when braving my man cave and its collection of winning photos.
BACCHUS MARSH TRIALS
Sean is Secretary of the Bacchus Marsh Harness Racing Club and with the track reopening for official HRV trials recently after some major summer track works, the time was right for the Lighthouse to drop by and gain some greater understanding of this underappreciated sport.
The morning consisted of 7 small field trials conducted under race conditions, with many primarily there to further their racing education in some way. The trials went smoothly, everyone was sociable, and participants were universally positive about how the refurbished track had raced.
I settled with a $5 egg and bacon toastie and a coffee, picked up one of the detailed free form sheets and enjoyed watching everyone go about their business.
Sean had brought an unraced homebred 3yo along called Inshadow. As she wasn’t quite ready to trial yet, Sean aimed to give her a few laps after the last and hopefully some mobile barrier practice.
Inshadow is certainly not the biggest horse to ever peer through a bridle. Seemingly on the wrong side of 15 hands, it struck me that Sean had brought a knife to a gunfight, especially when I checked out the monster in the next stall, who indeed put Sean’s filly “In Shadow”.
Terry Sinclair, like Sean, is a journeyman who also got a smart one early on and been hooked ever since. His horse, who I shall call Goliath, stood at over 17 hands. Terry told a tale of misdiagnosed injuries and hefty expenses about his unraced 5yo colossus, a story familiar to all that have owned horses.
After the last, Inshadow and Goliath joined half a dozen others going out for a spin. After several steady laps, the mobile barrier appeared and the horses lined up behind it. What Sean assumed was barrier practice turned unexpectedly into a 1600m “trial”. Sean unfortunately landed in front from the inside marble, clearly hoping they’d go half a lap and drop anchor. But on they went with Sean looking like a guy on a merry-go-round that wants to get off but can’t. Goliath ended up racing outside Inshadow. I was scared that if Goliath broke wind Sean’s filly would be blown off the track.
When Sean brought Inshadow back he was content with how his pintsized pacer had acquitted herself, feeling she was now ready for an official trial.
Terry seemed equally positive. His boy had shown a nice turn of hoof mid event and handled the occasion well.
They both left the track optimistic about the future and isn’t that what racing is all about!
As Sean led Inshadow back to the float, I pulled his sulky along loaded with all his gear, chatting about the morning and the future of harness racing. While Sean was loading the filly, trots legend Ginger Gleeson appeared holding a safety vest and asked, “Sean, is this yours?”. An important lesson learned. Never pull a loaded sulky. Push the bastard so you can see when something falls off.
And finally I need to mention that Club President Rob Young once built elephant transport vehicles for Princess Stephanie’s Monaco Circus. Well that’s what Rob told me and he looked like an honest bloke.
FOLLOW THESE THOROUGHBREDS
Disappointing track at Caulfield last Saturday and not tremendous at Rosehill either. Although several Caulfield leaders were obvious if you didn’t punt (or tip) early. In particular Streets of Avalon and Pippie were always going to lead.
Follow from last week-
SYDNEY Mustajeer, Eastender (when wet), Master Of Wine, Shadow Hero, Wolfe, Savatiano, North Pacific
MELBOURNE Away Game, Regal Power, Mirage Dancer, Pandemic (topical), Chuck A Luck, Soul Patch
PERTH Cup Night
Sweet Deal and Gytrash are two of Lighthouse’s 2019 stable that came back brilliantly recently. Neither win was a fluke.
Had our first crack at the Melbourne Quaddie last time and we landed it so let’s go again this week.
R5 Morvada($7) becoming chronically underestimated
R6 Fabergino($2.70) flies but hoping for better price
R7 Loved Soul Patch($26) first up. Will be competitive
R9 Taniko($4.60) Melbourne best
QUADDIE – 2,4,6,8//1,4,5//2,3,4,7//1,5,7,10,11
R3 Aim($5) back fixed on Sportsbet money back for place offer
R4 Quackerjack($7.50)/Cascadian($3.80) to fight it out
R5 Sweet Deal($3) Sydney best
R6 Probabeel($5) is race fit
R7 Staying on the Fierce Impact($7.50) train
R6 Stampe($18) charitable price in good race
R8 Spectroscope($12)/Magnufighter($10) both great value chances
R9 Auerbach($9) great record track/distance
R4 Chosen Blonde($12) a likely improver
R9 Flying Pierro($9) drops in grade