Favourites to win? No, Never Mind

Shadow Minister wins the Waikouaiti Cup at Oamaru yesterday for trainer-driver Leo O’Reilly....
Shadow Minister wins the Waikouaiti Cup at Oamaru yesterday for trainer-driver Leo O’Reilly. PHOTO: JONNY TURNER
Ohoka trotter Never Mind left a quality line-up in his wake when bolting away with the feature trot on Waikouaiti Cup day at Oamaru yesterday.

Driver Matthew Williamson had the 6yr-old in front soon after the start of the 2000m event, and the further Never Mind went, the further he got in front of his key rivals.

The Muscle Mass squaregaiter came in to yesterday’s race after running a good premier night race at Addington earlier this month.

Though Never Mind ran on strongly into third in that race, trainer Trent Yesberg was disappointed with his horse’s effort behind One Apollo after Williamson found a nice run in the one-one for him.

“I just thought he wasn’t quite ready for that last race at Addington on premier night,” Yesberg said.

“I don’t think the race the week before brought him on like it would.”

Never Mind’s training since his Addington placing left no doubt about his condition heading into yesterday’s feature event.

So Yesberg gave Williamson licence to use the tactics he is known best for.

“With the way he worked during the week, I said to Matty ‘if you get to the front and anything gets to your wheel just quicken up again’,” the trainer said.

Never Mind did not just quicken when challenged in the lead — he left his rivals breathless, going on to win race 10 by three and three-quarter lengths.

Outsiders Playboy’s Brother and BK Dawn filled second and third placings, respectively.

Gil Favour did the best of the favoured runners.

Kiwi Crusher, Humble Ladd and Lotamuscle each produced disappointing performances in the event.

Beating a smart line-up has earned Never Mind another shot at premier racing at Addington.

“We will probably give him a bit of a freshen-up now and look at the premier meetings coming up at Addington,” Yesberg said.

“That was a bit of a statement today — so we will target wherever the good stakes are.

“I think he will go through to the top grade.

“He might not be up with the best ones when he gets there, but I definitely think he will get there.”

Yesterday’s victory completed a successful week for Yesberg, who prepared, sold and purchased yearlings at the national yearling sales in Auckland and Christchurch.

Shadow Minister blew away any doubts his co-owners had about their 5yr-old handling a grass track staying test when winning the Waikouaiti Cup.

The pacer outmuscled runner-up Rocknroll Max after a brief home straight battle, meaning Rakaia horseman Leo O’Reilly had trained, driven and co-owned the winner of the 3000m feature pace.

Angela O’Reilly, who co-owns Shadow Minister with her husband, admitted she and Leo had their reservations about how their horse would handle the Waikouaiti Cup distance.

“We were a bit worried about how he was going to handle 3000m on the grass,” she said.

Half-sisters helped Woodend Beach trainer Regan Todd set a personal best at Oamaru yesterday.

Todd went in to Waikouaiti Cup day with 27 wins to his name for the current season.

That tally was equal with the previous best tally he reached for a season when Champers won at Oamaru in late July.

Art Major pacer Duastar helped the trainer go to a new season’s best of 28 wins when winning race 3 yesterday, with stable reinsman Robbie Close in the sulky.

Duastar’s older Bettor’s Delight-half-sister Canstar took Todd to 29 wins by race 8 for junior driver Korbyn Newman.

Duastar and Canstar are both bred and raced by Alan Rose and John Howe from their Jereme’s Jet mare Starlet Lavra.

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