Should San Carlo secure the TAB Inter Dominion silverware in December, he’d become the first pacer since one of harness racing’s all-time greats, Gammalite, in 1983, to complete the Cranbourne Cup/Interdom double.
Rated a treat by driver Bec Bartley on Saturday night, eight-year-old San Carlo held the lead from gate six in the Decron Cranbourne Gold Cup and then held a roaring Victoria Cup champ in Tiger Tara at bay late for a memorable half-neck win.
Reigning Trots Country Cups champion Shadow Sax – whose ownership includes Carlton women’s footy star and boxer Tayla Harris, Essendon champ Mick Hurley, Channel 7’s Hamish McLachlan, SEN’s Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, Peter Lyon, Crocmedia's Dr Turf, Craig Hutchison and Liam Pickering, 3AW's Ross Stevenson, legendary trainer Peter Tonkin, and trots media stars Brittany Graham and Ashlea Brennan as part of the Stable of Stars charity syndicate – finished well for third.
But all honours were with the winner, who at just his second run back from a spell displayed the fight required of an Interdom contender.
And San Carlo is sure to improve further for trainer Steve O’Donoghue, a horseman who has been around the game long enough to know how to set one for a Grand Final.
Following his recent Mildura Italian Cup success first-up, Bartley remarked “he’s probably about 90 per cent at the moment and needed the run tonight”.
San Carlo is safely among the ‘locked’ runners for ID18, ranked 13 at last update. The top 36 pacers secure a ticket to the first round of heats at Melton on December 1.
The second round of ID18 heats is conducted at Bray Raceway Ballarat on Tuesday night December 4, before the series rolls into Cranbourne on Saturday night December 8 for the all-important final qualification round. Already the local club has booked over 1000 in for its ID18 heat night, which coincides with Christmas party season.
By winning Saturday night’s Cranny Cup San Carlo’s name is etched aboard an honour roll boasting trots luminaries such as Paleface Adios (1980), Koala King (1981), Gammalite (1983), Golden Reign (1994 and 1997 – he won the ’95 Inter Dom at Addington in between), Tailamade Lombo (2000) and Im Themightyquinn (2010 – who went on to win three Interdoms in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13).
By Cody Winnell
Photo: Stuart MCCormick