Herlihy chasing elusive pacing final
By Jonny Turner
The chance to capture the race that has got away awaits champion reinsman Tony Herlihy when he drives Sicario in Saturday night’s Interdominion Pacing Championship final.
New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman winning the race on a $101 outsider in his 15th attempt is just one of the fairy tale endings this year’s Alexandra Park Championship can bring.
Herlihy is approaching the opportunity with the calmness that has seen him known as “The Ice Man” for the past four decades, as well as with his signature sharp wit.
“Its a great race to be a part of, you get a good view when you’re out there – its harder when you’re in the crowd, you can’t get a look in,” Herlihy quipped.
Herlihy has got the best of views of the three horses that have denied him victory in Australasian pacing’s greatest test of stamina.
The reinsman was runner up with Christopher Vance in 1991, Sly Flyin in 2006 and a promoted second with Chokin in 1995.
“We have gone some great races, but we just haven’t been able to win it.”
“There have been a couple there that have gone really good.”
“Sly Flying went great behind Elsu and Christopher Vance went great behind Mark Hanover – he just nutted him out of it.”
Sicario’s $101 odds suggest he is not the horse to help Herlihy win his elusive pacing final
However, the Brent Lilley trained pacer in to Saturday night’s 2700m mobile feature with one claim that the five other horses paying $101 do not.
The Victorian pacer reeled off the fastest last 800m of the entire Interdominon series when reeling off a 52.8sec sectional when running fourth behind Cruz Bromac on night three.
The strong performance, when coming from well back in the field, gives Herlihy hope he could land another pacing final placing.
“He is a first five chance, we just need that little bit of luck in the running with him.”
“He was ordinary the first night, but he has improved since then.”
“He went super the second night, I was pretty sure he would have run in the money the second night.”
“But, I just couldn’t get him out in the straight to get a clear crack at them.”
Sicario may need all of the skill that has won Herlihy 3,514 races in New Zealand to find him a perfect spot in the running.
The gate speed the horse showed on night one, the only time Herlihy has asked him to leave quickly, does not suggest he could be first to the markers after Saturday night’s start.
“He would have been able to put a neck or half a length on them if I really hunted him on the first night.”
“But I didn’t worry about that, because they weren’t going to let me cross.”
My Kiwi Mate looks to have first option on the lead from barrier 1, with fast beginner Chase Auckland likely to be able to keep pace with him from barrier 1 on the second row.
Sicario has On The Cards, who beat him out of the gate on night one, drawn outside him in barrier 4.
Herlihy has had contrasting fortune in Interdominion Trotting Finals and will be out to extend his record as its all-time leading driver with Temporale on Saturday night.
The reinsman goes in to the 2700m mobile feature with wins to his name behind Diamond Field (1994), Pride Of Petite (1997), Buster Hanover (1998) and Delft (2006).
All Temporale needs is some Ice Man magic to work him in to the race from his second row draw and he will be right amongst the finish.
“Hopefully he can get a good run, there are four or five there that are going really good, so hopefully we can have a bit of luck with him,” Herlihy said.