Donnelly hoping Christmas comes early at Cambridge

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Local trainer Arna Donnelly is hoping Christmas comes early when she lines-up 10 runners at Cambridge Raceway on Friday.

The Christmas Eve meeting is a staple of the racing calendar and Donnelly is excited about her stable’s chances, including a three-pronged attack in the Garrards Horse & Hound Cambridge Xmas Cup Handicap Pace (2700m).

Rough And Ready, Taipo and Kango are all fresh-up off the back of their southern campaigns, which included tilts at the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) and Gr.1 New Zealand Pacing Free-For-All for the latter Donnelly runner.

Donnelly has been pleased with the way all three have returned but warned they may be a bit vulnerable fresh up off their big marks.

“They are off big handicaps,” Donnelly said.

“It is their first run back, they haven’t had a trial, so it will be a little bit tricky for them, but as long as they are running on at the end we will be really happy.”

With Taipo and Kango both off the 30m mark, Donnelly has highlighted Rough and Ready (20m) as her stable’s best chance, with the gelding being slightly more forward than his stablemates.

“I’m leaning towards Rough and Ready, he is probably the fittest of the lot. If he gets a good beginning he won’t be too far away,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly is also looking forward to lining up in-form gelding Bad Medicine in the Merry Christmas From Cambridge Raceway Mobile Pace (2200m).

“It’s a drop back in grade to what he has been racing,” Donnelly said.

“He got beaten by a seven-win and five-win horse last week. It is a bit of a tricky draw (7) but he is still learning how to race. I am sure when the penny drops he won’t be too bad a horse.”

Donnelly also looks to have a strong chance in the Check Out the CR Hire Equipment For Your Party Mobile Pace (2200m) with last start winner Glenthorne and Northview Peg.

Stable junior driver Alicia Harrison will take the reins behind Northview Peg in a bid to gain a penalty free win.

“Northview Peg has only had the two starts for us but we are looking for a penalty free win, that is why we are swapping drivers this week,” Donnelly said.

“Glenthorne obviously got his penalty free last week.

“He is probably going to be quite hard to roll from that draw (4), or make it tricky for her (Northview Peg, 6) anyway. They are both nice horses.

“Glenthorne has only been here for a couple of weeks. Full credit to Kevin Chapman, he has done a super job with the horse before he came.

“He arrived in good nick so you can’t ask for too much more.”

Three-year-old filly Waitforever is another who is exciting Donnelly ahead of The Clubhouse Hole In 1 Challenge Every Sunday Mobile Pace (1700m) on Friday.

“She is racing really well,” she said.

“There are a couple of nice ones in there but the way she got home the other night I was really impressed with her.

“She just needs a half an ounce of luck and she won’t be too far away.”

Meanwhile, Donnelly has welcomed the recent announcement of ‘The Race’, New Zealand’s first slot race, which will be held at Cambridge Raceway on April 14 for a purse of $900,000.

“It is good for Cambridge and Dave Branch (Cambridge Raceway chief executive) has done a super job getting this off the ground,” Donnelly said.

“Harness Racing needs something like this.”

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