Saturday, December 10, 2016
Portland owner-trainer Robert Halliday will hold a strong hand in Sunday week’s Rock’s Retreat Christmas Challenge final after kennelmates Homer and Odd Boots were successful in the heats of the 600 metre feature at Tara Raceway on Friday afternoon.
By Fear Zafonic x Flawless Tears, Homer is a half-brother to Halliday’s former Tara Raceway 512 metre record holder Half Way home and has come a fair way since his debut 12 months ago when running a 10 length third in a maiden 512 metre event won by Lektra Goose.
The white and black dog, who had won on six occasions going into Friday’s race, looked well placed from box one in the first heat of the grade five feature but at the half-way stage still had plenty of work to do as Shannah’s Might was travelling well out in front.
Off the back, though, Homer started to put in the big strides and finished too strongly for Shannah’s Might, running out a four length winner in 35.54 seconds, while the 24 kilogram Fascinated, dwarfed by the first two placegetters, worked home well to finish third and qualify for the final along with Lektra Lucy.
Odd Boots, who won his maiden over the middle-distance journey late last month, was successful in similar style to that of Homer when finishing strongly in the home straight to defeat King Obama by 1½ lengths in 35.64 seconds while Ari and Lektra Ash will make up the final eight.
By Kinloch Brae x Obama’s Girl, King Obama, owned and trained at Woolsthorpe by Nifty Lenehan, gave plenty of cheek when attempting to lead all the way at his first attempt over the 600 metre journey.
But Lenehan, whose brother Phil was successful with Lektra Hutch in a heat of the Fashion D’Or Ladies Bracelet, also ended the day well when King Obama’s litter sister Herbilly scored a brilliant win in the Trackside Meats Open Stake (400 m).
A well supported $3.30 favourite, Herbilly was expected to lead from box one but when noted speedster Slipper’s Chance quickly took up the running Glenroy trainer Richard Clayfield looked odds-on to land a treble after Slipper’s Shadow and Glenville Jester had won earlier in the day.
However, Lenehan’s brindle bitch finished over the top of Slipper’s Chance, winning by a length in a best of day 23.17 seconds.
Halliday, after winning the two Christmas Challenge heats, wasn’t finished either after Yella stormed home to defeat Moth Attack, another one of Lenehan’s Kinloch Brae x Obama’s Girl litter, in the Metal Worx Stake (400 m).
And as far as the long-time trainer was concerned it was a Tara Raceway treble that had been a long time coming.
“The past couple of years have been pretty quiet although things have picked up a bit over the past few months,” he said.
“Look, I’ve had trebles at Tara Raceway, Horsham, Warrnambool and Sandown Park but don’t ask me when. All I know is that it’s been a long time since I trained three winners on one day.”