Aussie mare primed for Jewels
By Adam Hamilton
KIWI fans will see a seriously talented mare when Major Occasion tackles Saturday week’s Harness Jewels.
Make no mistake, the Bathurst-based mare has improved so much this season she is a massive winning chance – especially with a kind draw – in the 4YO Diamond.
While Elle Mac is very good, Major Occasion’s best Aussie form shows she is at least the equal of the All Stars’ mare who currently dominates betting.
And, most important of all, trainer Chris Frisby assures punters Major Occasion is over a virus which sidelined her after her latest run, a fighting second at Menangle on April 13.
A trial at Bathurst last night looked to back-up Frisby’s confidence.
“Gee she’s trialled well and she’s been jumping out of her skin this morning,” Frisby said. “I won’t lie, I was worried for a while we’d have to cancel the trip because it took her a bit to get over the virus, but I had her blood done last Friday and it was perfect.
“That gave me the confidence to head to the trials and she showed Anthony (Frisby, driver) and I she was right back to her best.”
Major Occasion settle well back from the outside draw in the 1730m trial and stormed home for second in privately-timed closing splits of 54.4 and 27 flat.
“I want her fresh for the Jewels, but she’ll have another couple of strong workouts at home this week before she gets on the plane Saturday,” Frisby said.
“We’ve been excited about going since I first got the indication they’d invite us and it’s great she’s over the setback and will go there at her top.”
Major Occasion has been competitive with the best of her age all the way through, but Frisby said there’s no doubt she’s gone to the next level this season.
“She was underdone, a bit fat, when I took her to Melbourne with Our Uncle Sam when he went for the Inter Dominion late last year, but the hot weather and racing trimmed her down and she got better and better. She hasn’t looked back since,” he said.
Aside from her four wins from 10 starts this season, Major Occasion’s best performance was a second to the now retired Kiwi star Our Dream About Me in the Group 1 Ladyship Mile in 1min50.1sec at Menangle on March 2.
Frisby said the whole idea of being part of Harness Jewels day let alone with a winning chance was beyond exciting.
“I was lucky to have a terrific horse in Dinki Di 15 or so years back and the travel I did and people I met through him were fantastic,” he said. “Now our family has Our Uncle Sam and this mare and they’re taking us back to the big races all over the place again.
“She’s a terrific mare this one. Give her a good draw and she’ll be very hard to beat, but she’s versatile, too. She can do work if she has to and she’s won some nice races driven off the speed as well.”