Herlihy tickled pink by Oaks win
By Garrick Knight
It’s next stop Addington for resurgent trotting filly Tickle Me Pink after her easy win in the Northern Trotting Oaks at Alexandra Park.
The Tony Herlihy-trained daughter of Muscle Hill maintained her unbeaten record as a three-year-old when downing Lady B Good and Swiss Miss in the second running of the Group 3 $30,000 feature.
The $125,000 3YO Ruby beckons, where she will meet a stellar cast on June 1, though the heavily-favoured Oscar Bonavena seems unlikely to make the field.
“We were going anyway, even if he did make it,” said Herlihy.
“But obviously he’s a very good horse and if he’s not there, it will make her job a bit easier.”
Tickle Me Pink’s well-documented ill health during and after a trip to Victoria last Winter have made her comeback all the more surprising to Herlihy.
“She’s probably gone better than what we hoped she would.
“But she’s so adaptable and never worries about anything, so it’s no surprise she races like she does.
“She’s really come solid this time and I just can’t fault her.
“Her behavior pattern tells me she’s just so mentally mature for a trotter her age.”
The win was half of a twin success for longtime supporters of Herlihy’s barn, Ken and Karen Breckon, who also won the Sires Stakes 2YO Trotting Championship at Addington with Tailored Elegance.
Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen train her and it was back when Purdon trained in Auckland, with the assistance of Herlihy in the mid-90s, that Ken and the late Peter Breckon entered the industry.
“It started off with that first horse, Megaera,” said Herlihy.
“And thank god she was a good horse because it made Ken stay in the game and he and Karen have been big supporters of ours ever since.”
The wins of both fillies underline how important trotting bloodlines have become to the Breckon Farms operation.
They now have an elite band of trotting broodmares which are routinely sent to the best available sires, in this case, Muscle Hill.
“They’ve spent a bit of money getting some nice mares around such as Sheezadoosie, who was a nice racemare that became a top broodmare,” said Herlihy.
“Then they bought two mares from Jean Feiss in Aussie, Regal Volo and Luby Ann, who have both left more than one stakes winner each.”
Tailored Elegance is out of Classic Armbro, a daughter of former top racemare Merinai, who died last month aged 27.
Tickle Me Pink will be one of a four-strong team Herlihy takes to the Harness Jewels, the others being Forget The Price Tag, Dina Bolt and Bolt For Brilliance.
Another promising Breckon-owned trotter, the juvenile filly Cheeky Babe, has returned north after suffering her first defeat at Addington last week after four wins on end.
“She’s come home.
“While I was happy enough with her run the other night, she couldn’t trot the bends properly.
“We’ve decided to bring her home and get the vet to go over her and check her out.
“It could be growing pains because she’s not noddy or anything, but she’s just not happy in her gait.
“And she’s too good to risk.”
Also on Friday night, Herlihy record a win with hot favourite Gambit in a $14,999 maiden pace.
He had placed on premier night at his last start when racing out of his grade against winners, and the drop back saw him the ‘hotpot’ this time around.
“He has a bit of ability and is a good staying sort of horse.
“It was probably good that he didn’t win in those first few starts because he had few things to learn.
“A bit of racing has done him good and we’ll race him on through the winter now.”