Weekend wrap by Graham Fischer

For nearly four years, Tony Pullicino had to watch as his mother and father, Gaita and Frank, rebuilt their lives in the sport they love, harness racing.

About four months ago, the door opened, and he was able to rush through and join them, with the granting of a stablehand’s licence, then a driver’s permit.

At Globe Derby Park on Saturday, Tony Pullicino capped his return with his first driving winner in more than a decade.

It didn’t matter that Soho Tsunami was a $51 outsider, he was glad to be backed.

Trained by Mario Borg, Soho Tsunami swept through along the inside to grab a three-metre win from Martys Party ($23) with Whata Optimist ($3.10), driven by Gaita Pullicino, two metres away third.

Despite an absence from the sulky for 10 years, Pullicino remembered the quickest way home was along the inside and rocketed through near last on the home turn to win.

Pullicino, who turned 40 in July, was swamped by well wishers post-race on the return to the stalls but was quick to acknowledge his return.

“I want to thank everyone at Harness Racing South Australia for giving me this second chance,” Pullicino said.

“I think when you are young and immature it is easy not to appreciate what you have got and do silly things, but when it is taken away it hits you hard.”

Perhaps the most salient point about how much Tony Pullicino missed the sport was when asked what his last winner was, he answered with no hesitation.

“Lovable Larrikin at Shepparton on August 17, 2013.

“He was a wonderful horse for our family.

“Times were really tough when he came into our stable, but he helped set up the stable.

“I remember coming across to win the Victor Harbor Cup on him in 2013.

“He lives with us on our property at Mallala. He’s 16 now and will have a home as long as he lives, he is a special horse.”

Pullicino said the first time he thought he could win on Soho Tsunami was turning for home.

“He started to really travel, and I thought those up front looked be struggling a bit, it just a case of getting a run through.

“Fortunately, I was able to come along the sprint lane and he sprinted through strongly.”

Borg trained a double with Eastbro Adele taking out the Bianco Reinforcing Pace (1800m), driven by Gaita Pullicino.

A $2.30 chance, Eastbro Adele had a two-horse ‘war’ with Whoee Johnson ($2.15 fav) over the last 800 metres but drew clear to win by two metres.

Leading concession reinsman Corey Johnson notched his 200th career win when Winsome Ruby scored an impressive victory in the King Of The North @ Llowalong Farm Trotters Handicap (2230m).

Trained by Suzanne Grace, the seven-year-old mare made it two wins in a week having scored on Monday, when also driven by Johnson.

Winsome Ruby is normally driven by Grace’s husband Stephen, but a mix up with his medical, meant he had not been able to renew his licence, so Johnson was the lucky beneficiary.

The mare ($4.60) sprinted strongly down the back straight from near the rear of the field to take the lead past Norman’s Gate and hold on to win by two metres from Piesridingshotgun ($13) with Willis Graham ($17), 14-1/2 metres away third.

Suzanne Grace, 72, has had back issues recently, but is on the improve, and Winsome Ruby’s recent form had her feeling on top of the world.

Story: HRSA Media

Photo: Walter Bulyga