First solo victory


Victory has rarely tasted as sweet for trainer Simon McMullan than when Tonique De Feu won at Orari on Saturday.

The win was McMullen’s first in his own right and first since moving to the South Island early last year after enjoying a successful stint training with Steven Reid in Pukekohe.

Saturday’s victory was McMullan’s 74th career training win, with 73 of them coming during his four-season partnership with Reid.

McMullan said Tonique De Feu’s win ranked right up with any his previous 73.

“It was a massive thrill, it was a bigger thrill than winning my first race driving – it was pretty unreal.”

Going by McMullan’s assessment of Tonique De Feu, he will be racking up more training victories soon.

“I have got a bit of an opinion of him.

“He is very immature and has taken a lot to come to it.”

The three-year-old had been building towards a win after running in to smart types Kings Landing and Majestic Hurricane this season.

The horse is paid up for the three-year-old trotters’ Sires Stakes series and McMullan plans to aim him at it and other top races later this season.

Though, how he will get Tonique De Feu there had not been decided.

“I really would like to give him a let up and set him for a race like the Hambletonian, which is in February.

“But, it seems like at the moment he is still on the way up and I don’t really want to turn him out while he is still flying.

“He will tell me when has had enough.”

Landing a big race title, like the Hambletonian, would be the perfect advertisement for McMullan.

He, like many young trainers, is looking to build his team.

McMullan has three trotters that are all raced by Tonique De Feu’s part-owner, Todd Halliday.

The trainer also has a promising filly by Bettors Delight, who is raced by one of the Woodlands Stud syndicates.

McMullan also has Belmont’s Greatest in work and the trotter ran fourth to Young Stranger at Orari on Saturday.

Wet weather saw the Orari track downgraded from slow to heavy as Saturday’s meeting progressed.

Muddy conditions saw the scratching of key runners, Forgotten Highway and Alta Maestro, from the Geraldine Cup.

The resulting market reshuffle saw Funatthebeach start a $2.70 favourite in the 2850m feature.

The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained four-year-old was in front throughout for driver Tim Williams and he held out a line up of his rivals, whose drivers had them fanned across the track seeking the best going.

Funatthebeach's stablemate, Anthem, was scratched from the race after he was sold to North American interests.

Belles Son broke a two-year win-less streak when winning the Geraldine Cup meeting’s feature trot

The Regan Todd-trained trotter’s previous victory came in the corresponding race in 2016.

His stablemate, Missandei, finished fourth.

She and driver Samantha Ottley emerged looking more than a little mud-splattered after the event.


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