Jerry Garcia on song at Methven
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Evergreen trotter Jerry Garcia continued to belie his age at Methven on Sunday when winning the Methven Seed Cleaning Trot (2400m).
It was his sixth trotting success after previously posting nine wins as a pacer, and trainer-driver Leo O’Reilly is hoping he can further add to that tally before the 12-year-old gelding his aged out of racing at the end of the year.
“I am really happy, he went really well. He has been a grand old campaigner,” O’Reilly said.
“We were quite happy leading into today with him. He went okay last start, but he was a bit tired after that, so we gave him a week off.
“He won a trial here (Methven) last week and he has trained on well.”
The son of Jereme’s Jet was nearing the end of his racing career as a pacer in 2017, however, O’Reilly elected to try his gelding as a trotter given his propensity towards that gait in training.
His belief in the gelding was vindicated, extending his racing career for another six seasons.
“At the end of his pacing career out on the track he was sort of trotting in his hopples,” O’Reilly said.
“When we were jogging him he could trot quite well so I thought I will have a go and the owners were happy and agreed.
“It took him a while but he got there.
“He can begin really fast now. In the early days he was step and hold your breath kind of horse.
“It was his first win as trotter on the grass today, so it was good to add to his previous win on the grass as a pacer.”
Of his 15 wins to date, O’Reilly highlighted one of his victories as a pacer as his proudest moment.
“I was really thrilled when he won the Kurow Cup as a pacer. That was great,” he said.
Now in the twilight of his career, O’Reilly said he would be selective in the races he targeted with Jerry Garcia.
“When he is 13-years-old I don’t think he can race, so this is his last season and we will try and pick a race that is suitable for him,” he said.
O’Reilly was pleased to be racing back on the grass at Methven and said it remains a vital part of the industry.
“I love racing at Methven and on the grass,” he said. “It suits horses that can’t compete at Addington.”