Doing the tough yards can pay off for Sarah O’Reilly at Ascot Park on Friday. While most of her fellow harness racing drivers from Canterbury will be competing near their home in Addington, the junior driver will be heading south to combine with a full log of driving on a shortened six-race map at Invercargill.
O’Reilly is coaching several big hopefuls from the Michael House stable, including Franco Hoffman (A rock’n’roll dance) in race 5.
The pacer is part of a powerful house team that includes Mogul (American ideal) , Santana Mach (Santana Blue Chip) and Principal (Auckland Reactor).
Franco Hoffman worked and fought hard for fourth place on his last outing at Winton, chasing home rival Who’s Daddy (mach three), which clearly seems to be the most difficult horse for the house riders to beat.
“He did a bit of work in his last start and he fought well,” O’Reilly said.
“He should be there on arrival on Friday.”
Rockin Go Go (A rock’n’roll dance) looks at another key drive for O’Reilly in Race 5.
The pacer raced strongly to finish third on its last outing at Winton, only seeing clear air late.
“He came in quite well at Winton and she got a good draw (1) so hopefully he can use that to his advantage and be practical the whole race and come home well.”
O’Reilly also partners with the House-trained Doctor Lavros (I like you) in race 3.
Another who produced a good effort in Winton, the trotter fought hard for fourth place behind the impressive Hidden Talent.
“It was his first start at Southland and he rode pretty well, hopefully he can improve and be at the finish on Friday.”
O’Reilly combines with three riders from Brian Norman’s stable on Friday, including Harleen Quinzel (majestic son) in race 1.
The second hand showed she clearly had the ability to win a race in the short term, but she made mistakes in her last outings.
“She started out doing everything right, but she was a little tricky the last two starts, pacing,” O’Reilly said.
“I saw she had a try and trotted all the way through and that’s basically all she needs to do to fill a spot.”
Foxfire Easton (Washington V.C.) rises in rank after his win for Norman and O’Reilly at Winton last week.
From barrier 3 in an even line, the pacer again looks like a winning prospect.
“He won in a lower rated race last week, that’s a very small rating increase.”
“He can still be competitive, he can come back and if it’s real speed he can usually sprint well at home.”
“He’s got a bit of gate speed, so I’ll just decide what I do behind the gate.”
O’Reilly and Norman also combine with The Waterboy (Washington V.C.) in race 2.
The four-year-old made a creditable debut as he battled hard for fourth place at Wyndham last month.
The stimulator seems like a real threat, but he has to overcome drawing barrier 8.
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by Jonny Turner, for Harness Racing New Zealand