Meeting goes ahead

Emain Macha is a six-year-old gelding, by Safari out of Machabella. He has had 33 starts for 21 wins, four seconds and three thirds. Not too shabby a record, is it! He has won almost $161,000 and his fastest mile rate has been 1.55.2. And why am I talking about Emain Macha, when he is a horse from Mount Gambier? Well, the best part is that he is owned partly by J. Penny and S. Penny. Isn’t that a coincidence! Years ago a man rocked up at our front door and introduced himself as John Penny from Port Lincoln, on Sunday I received a request on Facebook from a John Penny at Mount Gambier. Different John Pennys of course, but none the less interesting. I did explain to him our little interest in Emain Macha and I guess he had a little chuckle behind the scenes – like we wish!

But back to the job at hand. As you know it was a difficult one to get enough nominations up to hold this meeting after changing it to the Friday night so as not to clash with the pageant and then Globe Derby hosting the Saturday night’s racing. But, all is well that ends well. A double race was held, the second and the last on the programme. This entailed horses nominated in the first of the races to have a run in the last race also, different barrier draw and both races over 1100 metres. A vets examination was held on each of the horses before the start of the second round to make sure that they were fit and capable of the run.

As the race was just 1100 metres long the times were always bound to be of a faster nature. The mile rate of the first, the Hopkins Saddlery Pace, had been 1.52.7 and the second of the round, 1.52.6. Although the time sounds phenomenal, one must remember the distance. The Dale Afford, Canelliesparkle had started favourite in both events and even though it had lost a shoe in the first round, had still been able to gain third place. Canelliesparkle had gone on to win the second round. Nykea Courage had swapped position with  Canelliesparkle, having won the first round and finishing third in the second bout.

Trainer, Michael Dennis would have had a smile from ear to ear having won the first bout with Nykea Courage and having run second and third with Glacier Heights and Nykea Courage later in the evening round. Apart from allowing the meeting to hold up, it did have an added attraction, plus an added bonus for the horse gaining the most points. The first event of the evening the Henry Osborne Fodder Store Pace had seen tiny little Pat The Pony sneak in with a very nice win. And would you look at that, Pat The Pony is by the same sire as Emain Macha, Safari. It’s a small world. He had started at a very generous $6.30 with Leah Harvey’s Look at the Stars starting favourite and running in second place. Danielle Hill had driven the first of her double in this race, completing the double on Nate Braxton (pictured) in the third event. Nate Braxton is a six year old gelding, by Julius Caesar and trained by Todd Mumford. He has won four out of his last five starts and had just completed his last win on the Monday night before at Globe Derby. His fastest mile rate up until the end of the last season had been 2.01.7 and already this season he has run a 1.57.5. Track or horse, who cares if he is running that time. He had beaten Batman Bart to the line by two and a half metres with Bien Hoa five and a half metres further down the track.

Race four, the Elders Insurance Pace for 3 year olds and older, RO only and The Quick Shadow – what can you say. The four year old gelding started a short favourite at $1.50 and really, no-one would have given it a thought of being beaten. Back from a spell the four year old looked magnificent in the parade-ring, Tyson Linke certainly had him in fine form. The drive had rounded off a double for Wayne Hill. Someone had said, the Commentator I believe, that it was the Hill Show, I relied to someone, “and what is new”. And how true is that, between the two of them they certainly rack up some wins and places during the season. From driving Nykea Courage in the first event on the programme and then a third on the same horse to scoring on The Quick Shadow, not a bad evenings work. Dani had scored the same, two wins and a third, her third coming on Riverina Ava in the fifth race. The Allwaood Stud Pace over 1609 metres had seen Brodie Webster steer Outa Control to a good win. Despite having a win, Webster had been reprimanded by the stewards for talking  while racing. I guess they really mean yelling but have been politically correct calling it ‘talking’. Glider, driven by David Smith, had finished in second place, had raced strongly, having been three wide without cover at the bell. A restrained Riverina Ava made a mighty run to the line coming from a rear position, she had given her heart and soul into that run. There are good things to come for this little mare, she is only a three year old, so watch this space. Willie Hays, another little favourite of mine had raced roughly and had a warning issued against him by the stewards. Edwina’s Express had been checked and broke after the start and again with a lap to go. This horse has been stood down for one trial.

Despite the uncertainty of this meeting going ahead last week, it was a good meeting, not a great one, but a good one. For anyone that is interested in what is going on in the industry of harness racing in South Australia it would be worth looking at the Facebook page of Port Pirie Harness Racing. I have posted on there a statement by Ross Neal, CEO of Harness Racing SA. He explains why the meetings have been as they have with changes to dates etc. He has also produced charts that show the decline of the industry in general, as is the case with a lot of sports. Golf, for instance. With so much for people to be doing these days, there are some sports that are suffering. Holidays, videos, phones, video games, electronics, yes, so much else to do. Mum and Dad both working to meet the mortgage payments and school fees. But that is the way of the world and so we just need to ride with it. We need to make our product interesting to the public eye, as interesting as we possibly can and go on from there.

Next meeting is Saturday, December 15. There is a raffle for a barrow of booze with great second and third prizes. There is a new competition running where if you are able to pick the last four winners of the programme you have the chance to win $200. Each week it jackpots another $25. You gotta be in it, to win it.

- SUE PENNY