SA TROTS -Dancing Finn stars in the Norman Memorial

Trainer Lance Holberton was emotional after star mare Dancing Finn scored a brilliant win in the 2024 Norman Memorial (1800m) on Saturday at Globe Derby Park.

“This is a race I have always wanted to win,” Holberton said.

Dancing Finn ($2.15 fav), confidently driven by Ryan Hryhorec, sat parked in the mares’ feature, then drew clear in the home straight to win by two metres from Kahina ($17) with pacemaker Classy Dancer ($2.60) a short half head away third.

“The Norman family have been so important for South Australian harness racing.

“Not only for the number of horses they have raced, but also from the breeding side, remembering they stood the outstanding stallion Aachen.

“I believe modern day administrators might not be giving enough credit to the Norman Memorial. I think it should be held on a major race day rather than just at a meeting during the year.”

The Norman Memorial actually has had a few adjustments over the years.

At one stage it was run over 1600 metres starting on a turn which proved too dangerous, then it was staged as a time trial before now taking place in its current format.

Dancing Finn rated a smart 1:56.4 in her comprehensive win.

The six-year-old mare has been a star since starting as a two-year-old with the Norman win being her 25th victory from 76 starts and took her stakes to $170,528.

Classy Dancer began smartly from gate four and was able to cross and lead with Dancing Finn going forward from barrier seven to sit parked.

With confidence in the mare, Hryhorec made sure the tempo was quick with Classy Dancer recording quarters of 29.7 and 29.8 seconds for the first two 400 metre sections.

The pace increased for a 29.1 second third quarter before Dancing Finn another burst coming home in 28.7 seconds.

The love of the Holberton family and the ownership group was obvious as they continually hugged and patted the mare post-race.

Holberton said because of her tough assessment mark, there had been talk of retirement later in the year but for the present he would try to select suitable races for Dancing Finn.

Saturday’s meeting also saw the staging of two heats of the SA BOTRA Southern Stars Series which will culminate in a $50,000 Listed final this Saturday.

The race is restricted to horses that were either auctioned for sale at the 2023 SA Southern Stars sale or made eligible by non-sale entry.

Successful South Australian owner-breeder Bruce Cameron made his first trip to Globe Derby Park in a while to see his two-year-old filly Let Her Roll take out the first heat.

Trained in Victoria by Clayton Tonkin, Let Her Roll started $1.40 favourite and went to the lead around the first turn and was never challenged winning by 14-1/2 metres from Fenton ($41) with Art Regal ($5) a short half head away third.

The winner was driven by Gaita Pullicino who also was in the sulky of heat two winner Splash Of Paynt which is trained in Victoria by Peter Manning.

The $1.50 favourite, Splash Of Paynt, purchased by Lui Trotta and part-owned by his wife Dianne, found the front from gate three and dictated winning by 3-1/2 metres from Imposter Boy ($3.50) with Fantasea ($6.50) a long head away third.

Champion trainer-driver Geoff Webster made a trip home to South Australia for the Southern Stars.

Buckland Park Homestead’s David Battye, bred and owns Catherine and Fantasea which Webster, who celebrated his 69th birthday, brought across from Victoria and both qualified for this week’s final.

Trainer-driver Ryan Hryhorec had another big Saturday.

My Ultimate Levi ($2.60 equal fav), which he trains, responded to the driving of Bernadette Page to score a long head win of the Rural & Equine Fencing Pace (1800m) beating Better Brother ($2.60 equal fav) with Told You Twice ($5.50) a half head away third.

Hryhorec then brought up a driving treble winning the Norman Memorial on Dancing Finn, Hezrockinroyalty for trainer Alan Cronin in the Ladbrokes Blackbook Pace (1800m) then Illawong Moonbeam for trainer Lu7ke O’Neill inv the Elite Stride @ Alabar Farms Trotters Handicap (2230m).

Backed from $1.50 into $1.15 favourite, Hezrockinroyalty speared to the front from barrier six and was never headed in a seven-metre win.

Hryhorec said the three-year-old would now be entering his stable with Cronin and wife Ngareta taking a five-week holiday.

Also, star filly Miss Idaho is set to resume this Saturday after a brilliant trial last Sunday.

One of the impressive wins of the meeting was by the Aaron Bain-trained Weona Miss Fortune.

Bringing up a driving double for Bernadette Page, Weona Miss Fortune ($2.70) sprinted from last in the Crestline Meats Pace (2230m) to easily win by nine metres rating a smart 1:58.7.

Victorian Nationaldraft was backed from as much as $81 into $4.40 and led early from barrier four but faded to finish fifth beaten 21 metres.

Story – HRSA Media

Photos – Walter Bulyga