Change of pace and venue for Donnelly
By Michael Guerin
Just because trainer Arna Donnelly has arrived in harness racing’s big time doesn’t mean she is turning her back on the smaller fare on offer at Cambridge tonight.
The first half of the pacing open class season reached its zenith with the Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park last Friday and that meant a new career high for Donnelly as Kango stormed into third in the $400,000 feature.
It capped a great campaign for the big pacer and gives Donnelly a serious open class player for the second half of the season and races like the New Zealand Cup.
That is a far cry from just a few years ago when she was battling around often with rejects from bigger stables, with her hard work and talent making her one of the most respected trainers in the north and a punter’s favourite.
“Last week was awesome and to see him take that step up throughout the campaign to become a real open class horse is very satisfying,” says Donnelly.
“But I still really get a thrill from winning any race because each horse is different and they come with different challenges so I look forward to Friday night here too.”
Donnelly has reason to as she could dominate the main handicap on her home track tonight even after having to scratch potential favourite Outlaw Man.
“He has got a bit sick, nothing serious, so he will miss this week but New York Minute and Wild Card will both be hard to beat,” says Donnelly.
New York Minute was an easy winner in a far tougher race at Alexandra Park last start but that has earned him a 35m handicap tonight and Wild Card, while not as good as his stablemate, may be the better each way value.
“It depends on how they run the race but if Wild Card gets a good trail for most of the race he will be hard to beat,” says Donnelly.
“We have given him a bit of standing start practice because he galloped away last start and I think he should be okay this week.”
While many trainers start to power down their stables for winter and concentrate on bringing their younger horses through Donnelly expects to have a good racing team and with 24 wins for the season, sitting seventh on the premiership, she is now firmly established in the top 10.