Lockdown déjà vu for O’Meara
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
A theme seems to be developing for Brian O’Meara and COVID-19 lockdowns, and he isn’t particularly pleased with it.
Last year’s lockdown put a halt to his open-class pacer Di Caprio’s preparation after a sensational run when winning at Waimate following a year hiatus from racing, and this year’s lockdown the Rangiora trainer is in a similar situation with the six-year-old.
Di Caprio resumed with a solid second placing in the Kurow Cup (2600m) earlier this month, having not raced since November last year, and just two days later New Zealand entered its second nation-wide lockdown.
“He was out for a year with his broken sesamoid and I gave him one start at Waimate last year and he broke the track record and won very easily,” O’Meara said.
“Shortly after that is when the lockdown happened, so we lost all the benefit of that run.
“We have sort of lost the benefit again with this run, it is just bad luck.”
Despite the hindrance of lockdown, O’Meara was pleased with Di Caprio’s run in the Kurow Cup and believes he has returned a better horse this year.
“I was happy enough with the run, I thought he fought really hard,” O’Meara said.
“The horse that led (I’m Tough), Blair (Orange) is such a good driver that he slowed them up to a walk and then sprinted hard. It is hard to come around them when they come home in 55.
“He was a good three lengths off the leader at the half, so he probably ran sub-55 to get where he got, so I am quite happy with that first-up.
“That run has really helped him.”
If the Government eases COVID-19 alert levels on Friday, racing is set to take place at Addington Raceway on Sunday where Di Caprio will line-up in a delayed Group Three Allied Security Maurice Holmes Vase Free-For-all (2600m).
It’s a step-up in grade from last start, but O’Meara believes his entire will acquit himself well this weekend.
“He raced in that company last year and I was happy with him. Hopefully he is a wee bit better horse this year, we will just have to see,” he said.
“The draw (4) is not bad, but it looks like it is ready-made for Classie Brigade.
“If he gets a nice run it will be interesting.”
Di Caprio finished fifth in the Group One New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) last year, delighting O’Meara, who said the two-mile feature will once again be his main aim of the spring.
“I was so rapt last year,” he said. “I have raced a lot of great horses, but they didn’t run their last half like he did. The crying shame of it was the start, with it being a mobile on the outside and a stand on the inside.
“I would have loved for him to get away in those first few and get a quiet run in behind. It would have taken a hell of a horse to hold him out coming home in 1:52 (for the last mile).
“He will follow a similar path to last year, I am just hoping we can get a couple of wins this time.”