Bathurst kid wins Hambo
By Adam Hamilton
HONDO Grattan, the Turnbull clan and the iconic Gold Crown series are just part of the rich harness heartland that is Bathurst.
Now you can add Hambletonian winner.
The Bathurst-born Andy McCarthy won America’s biggest trotting race the $US1mil Hambletonian – the Kentucky Derby of trotting – on megastar filly Ramona Hill this morning (Saturday) morning our time.
McCarthy is the son of decorated trainer John McCarthy and brother top drivers Luke and Todd.
He fought back emotions after Ramona Hill became just the 15th filly to beat the boys in the 95-year history of the Hambletonian for three-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands track in New Jersey.
“Speechless, this is just so incredible,” McCarthy said. “She’s just absolutely amazing this horse. She did work early, but I felt like I had a lot of horse at the half … I just urged her on that last bit, making sure she was OK.”
McCarthy, 34, grew-up Bathurst and later Queensland before moving to the US to try his luck in world’s strongest harness racing domain in 2007. This was just his second Hambletonian drive after finishing seventh on Pilot Discretion last year.
“Growing-up you dream of driving in a race like this because it’s such an iconic race. Winning it is something else,” he said.
Luke McCarthy, fresh from driving four winners at Menangle on Saturday night, got up early to watch his younger brother win a staggering five races on Hambletonian day, including the big one.
“It’s awesome. He’s worked so hard over there. That was quite the day for him,” Luke said. “Mum and Dad got up at 2.30am. They were that excited for the big day and watched them all.”
John McCarthy said: “We’re so incredibly proud. Andy’s so hard at it over there. It’s amazing.”
The Aussie flavour continued when leviathan NSW owners Emilio and Mary Rosati scored a huge upset with $81 outsider Zenith Stride winning the $US319,000 Group 1 Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old trotters.
Kiwi Dexter Dunn joined the party as well, winning the feature fast-class race of the day, the $US229,060 Sam McKee Memorial free-for-all, aboard Bettor’s Wish in a 1min47.6sec mile.