SA TROTS - Saturday September 23 Preview
The buildup to South Australia’s new spring feature carnival steps up at Globe Derby Park on Saturday.
As part of a massive 10-race meeting, the highlights will be the time-honoured 2023 SAHRC Minor Derby Free-For-All (2230m) and the 2023 SA Square Trotters Association Gramel Trotters Cup (2645m).
Both features have extra incentives this year. The winner of the Minor Derby FFA will gain automatic entry into the $60,000 2023 South Australian Pacing Cup on October 28, while the Gramel victor will be assured a start in the $40,000 South Australian Trotters Cup on the same night.
The sentimental favourite in the Minor Derby Free-For-All would be Scoob Operator which will come from gate four.
Scoob Operator will be driven by David Smith, grandson of Frank Smith, the trainer of Minor Derby.
The nine-year-old is owned and trained by Mostyn Clinton, 82, from Port Pirie who remembers the Minor Derby start of his career.
“Minor Derby was broken in here by a chap called Lovell Lane,” Clinton said.
“Lovell got crook with rheumatic fever, and he turned the horse out for a break.
“In those days, if you got that illness you were not expected to live, so the owner gave the horse to the Smith family, and the rest is history.
“I have always wanted to have a horse good enough to run in races such as Saturday night, and I’m lucky Scoob Operator can.
“I put him in last week because he needed a run, and we haven’t been able to trial here in Pirie with the track upgrade.”
Clinton was happy with Scoob Operator’s fourth behind Hanging Fire last week.
“He has taken good improvement and worked well this week. I will be disappointed if he can’t run in the first five.”
Realistically, the horse to beat is the in-form Hanging Fire, trained in Naracoorte by Greg Scholefield.
Hanging Fire has brilliant gate speed so leading should be no issue from gate one for regular reinswoman Gaita Pullicino.
The four-year-old has won his last seven starts at Globe Derby Park and eight of nine at the track.
His only defeat was on May 13 when he ran second to the Bronte Giorgio-trained Royal Speech, one of his rivals on Saturday.
On current form, it would surprise of Royal Speech was able to repeat the effort. His last three runs have only been fair.
Conversely, Hanging Fire seems to be improving with every run.
Last Saturday was the gelding’s first in just over a fortnight and Scholefield said the run would have Hanging Fire even better for the Minor Derby FFA.
He has earmarked the SA Cup for Hanging Fire so a win on Saturday to ensure a start would be a perfect result.
Trainers Jill Neilson and Katie Wilson, who formed as training partnership at the start of the month, are looking for their first winner and there would be no better way than having Powderkeg take out the Gramel Trotters Cup.
The step up to 2645 metres from the 2230 metres will suit Powderkeg perfectly.
Reinsman Ryan Hryhorec will not be forced to push the gelding early off his 30-metre handicap.
At his last run, Powderkeg was off the same handicap when fifth to Cyclone S Adams.
The winner was well rated by trainer-driver Dean Girardi and the backmarkers found it too hard to make ground late.
With a small field of eight, Hryhorec will be able to have the strong stayer Powderkeg ready to strike at the finish.
The Hygain Mares Pace final (1800m) is an interesting race with Classy Dancer, an impressive winner last Monday, coming from gate six.
It will be interesting to see if driver Wayne Hill decides to go forward early or opts to go back as was the case on Monday.
Classy Dancer is trained by the state’s leading trainer Aaron Bain who will debut another ex-New Zealander in the final.
The Ladybird, a winner of one race, at Winton, will come from gate four with Samantha Pascoe in the sulky.
Story: HRSA Media
Photo: Walter Bulyga