The latest Cranbourne meeting on Thursday provided something of a red-letter day for the club’s Training Centre with locally trained horses winning the final three races on the six-event card.
One of the Centre’s longest-serving equine residents, Danman set the ball rolling for the home team with a tough win after sitting parked throughout in the Decron Horse Care Pace.
A veteran of 68 starts, Danman was relatively unwanted in betting despite some consistent form in good company in recent starts. That clearly didn’t perturb the durable eight-year-old who simply outstayed his rivals with promising junior reinswoman Shannon O’Sullivan in the gig.
Danman has now won ten races and been placed on a further sixteen occasions for stake earnings of around $60,000. While the son of Village Jasper might be coming to the end of the road, trainer Rick Cashman says the horse has been a great competitor throughout this career.
“The funny thing is he has always run well for the lady drivers. And he did the same again tonight for Shannon. She handled him really well - I don’t think Dan even knew he had Shannon on board."
Young trainer Dylan Stratford celebrated his first win on his new home track in the next race on the program when Flyin Around took out the Yabby Dam Racing Trot.
The four-year-old mare was first up on Thursday night after a six month lay-off but showed a good deal of promise winning three races last season when prepared by Glenn and Anne-Maree Conroy.
Transferred to Stratford at the start of this preparation, Flyin Around jumped straight to the front from the mobile and gave nothing else a chance in a solidly run race and scored by ten metres on the line from Dellsun and Hurricane Ed in a slick 2:02:3 mile rate.
The win provided a particular boost for club stalwart and part-owner Daryl Martin who has had a difficult time after complications from heart surgery in May left him with severely impaired mobility.
“I just love this game, I’ve been involved for almost 50 years and I still get a great thrill out of winning a race, especially here at Cranbourne,” Martin said. “I think there might be a bit of depth to this mare and the young bloke has done a good job with her so far. It’s not easy to get a horse to win first up after a fair time off. She’s no champion but I think she’s good enough to win a few races.”
Redand Blue Fella rounded off a great night for the locals when he convincingly won the last race of the night, the Hygain Pace.
Resuming from an injury-enforced lay-off of nearly 12 months, the son of Artistic Fella and Hearts Beat True sat outside the leaders for much of the 2,080 metre trip before hanging on to beat the fast-finishing Thermal Reactor by a head on the line.
The win provided a welcome change of fortune for hobby trainer Bill Kucks who only has a team of two or three in work at the Training Centre. On the strength of last night’s win Redand Blue Fella should be competitive in the lower country grades providing he stays sound and Kucks also has high hopes for a juvenile trotting filly purchased at last year’s Australasian Premier Trotting Sale.
The filly is already showing promise on the track and Kucks hopes to trial the daughter of Angus Hall in the latter part of February.
Cranbourne HRC Chief Executive Neil Bainbridge stopped just short of claiming a fourth winner for the program when trainer Bill Milner’s gelding Opia won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap earlier in the evening.
Opia spent the latter part of the afternoon and early evening in the Training Centre and only walked across the float park with the other local combatants before the meeting got underway.
“Bill called me on Wednesday afternoon to explain that he wanted to beat the traffic and then give his two horses a few hours ask rest at the Centre before racing,” Bainbridge explained. “Of course we were happy to oblige.”
By David Scott
Photo: Claire Weston Photography