SA TROTS Weekend wrap up with Graham Fischer

January 12, Bunyip harness racing story

Three of last year’s South Australian harness racing award winners combined to win at Globe Derby Park last Thursday.

Whitestarchristian, smashed in betting from $2.30 into $1.75 favourite, led throughout to win the John Rothe Video Pace (1800m) by the narrowest of margins.

The seven-year-old had just a short half head to spare in beating Longtan Cassanova ($5) with Bettor Be Lively ($14), eight metres away third.

Whitestarchristian, with 11 wins in 2022 was named South Australia’s Leading State Horse for 2022 with his 11 wins, one more than stablemate Celestial Daybreak.

He is trained at Two Wells by Shane Loone, who celebrated his first SA Trainer’s Premiership with 79 wins, 16 clear of another Two Wells horseman, Ryan Hryhorec, a previous multiple winner of the title.

In the sulky, was champion reinswoman Danielle Hill who chalked up yet another SA Drivers Premiership, with 143 wins, despite several stints on the sideline during the year.

The victory was Hill’s fifth on Whitestarchristian during his 82-run career.

Loone took special pride in the gelding’s win.

“I bred him, part-own him as well as train him,” Loone said.

“I was always confident he would be a success on the track through his dam, Nowuseemestar. She was a mare I trained when based in Western Australia.

“I like the family and recently bought a filly out of her half-sister by the top sire Sweet Lou.

“Nowuseemestar has another foal ready to race called Nowusee, by Julius Caesar.

She also has had a colt and filly foals by Tinted Cloud to come through as well.”

Loone said he had been confident of victory when Whitestarchristian was able to lead from his gate one barrier.

“He loves leading, and I knew they wouldn’t run him down.

“But he does have a habit of waiting for other runners which happened when the runner-up loomed alongside.

“I always believed he would keep finding, which he did, to win narrowly.”

Hill came away with a double at the meeting winning the final event, the Bianco Reinforcing Pace (1800m) on Our Major Jack for trainer Ryan Hryhorec.

Despite drawing the back row, Hill was able to settle perfectly one-out, one-back before bringing the five-year-old with a perfectly timed run.

Our Major Jack ($2.50 fav) won by six metres from Barney Fella ($10), trained by Shane Loone, with Sutter Man ($7.50), 2-1/2 metres away third.

Hill is expected to be missing from the driving ranks for an extended period within the next few months.

She has a meeting with a surgeon this week about locking in a date for back surgery to cure issues which have resulted from a lifetime in the sulky, including several major falls.

It is expected she will be sidelined for anywhere from six to 12 weeks.

Trainer Ryan Hryhorec, himself an outstanding driver, and runner-up to Hill in the SA Drivers Premiership last year with 91 wins, tasted victory for Kudla trainer Jeremy Seal in the opening event, the Eco-Wise Plumbing Group Mares Pace (1800m) on Atreacherous.

A red hot $1.35 favourite, Atreacherous gave her backers a few concerns, coming late to grab a 1-1/2 metre win.

When the mare was four wide and in fourth spot turning for home, victory seemed questionable, but she finished strongly to win well.

“She’s a winner,” Seal said.

“She just loves to win, and I had faith she would do enough to win.”

Atreacherous has now won 10 of her 25 starts.

Seal said the mare would now head to the $8500 Mares Final (1800m) at Globe Derby Park on Saturday, January 21.

An exciting announcement from Harness Racing South Australia for a Battle of the Best Invitation Challenge to be held at Globe Derby Park on Saturday, January 28.

Five SA female drivers and five SA male drivers (based on 2022 SA premiership results) have accepted invitations to compete in the series, with drivers earning points for their respective teams.

Team Pink: Danielle Hill, Gaita Pullicino, Samantha Pascoe, Tiana McMahon, Lisa Ryan; Reserve: Leah Holman.

Team Blue: Ryan Hryhorec, Wayne Hill, Michael Smith, Corey Johnson, Dean Girardi; Reserve: David Smith.

Six Drivers Invitation races have been programmed for prizemoney of $7000.

HRSA CEO Dean Elliott acknowledged the talent pool of drivers in the SA ranks.

 “This concept is a wonderful way to pay tribute to a number of our leading drivers in SA, with an opportunity for them to compete in a format that should spark some interest,” Elliott said.

“Not only within the driving ranks, but also via trainers and owners given the additional rating exempt prizemoney on offer.

“Racing is one of very few sports where women and men compete on a level playing field, and I’m sure both teams will be keen to secure bragging rights for what we hope to be a permanent annual fixture.”

Drivers will be allocated to a runner by ballot, as per the Australian Drivers Championships format.

Story: Graham Fischer

Photo: Walter Bulyga