Macfarlane reaches special milestone

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Todd Macfarlane has achieved a number of highlights in Dave McGowan’s silks, and now he can add his 500th driving win to the list.

The South Auckland reinsman achieved the milestone behind Heston Hall in the Book Now for Mid-Winter Christmas At Alex Park Trot (2700m) for McGowan and his wife and training partner Clare McGowan at Alexandra Park on Friday night, and adding more sentiment to the win was the fact the gelding is part-owned by his parents.

“It was good to get the win for Mum and Dad, and also Dave has been a big part of my life and career,” Macfarlane said.

“I worked for him for a long time, and I have had some good opportunities and times with him throughout.”

Their association has spanned more than two decades and is highlighted by the deeds of globetrotting square-gaiter, Special Force.

“We went to Australia and won the Dullard Cup, which was my first Group One win,” Macfarlane said. “He then came back to New Zealand and won the Inter Dominion Final, that was a really special time.”

After summiting Australasia’s most revered trotting race, Special Force received an invitation to compete in the Elitloppet in Sweden, taking both McGowan and McFarlane on a trip of a lifetime.

While they only managed to finish seventh in their heat, Macfarlane said it was an unforgettable experience.

“I was able to go over there and drive him in a heat of the Elitloppet, that was pretty special,” Macfarlane said. “The way they hold trotting in such high esteem over there, it was great to experience.”

While Special Force stands out ahead of the pack, Macfarlane said he has been lucky enough to have driven and trained several other topliners.

“I was pretty lucky all the way through,” he said. “Every few years I had a nice horse I was associated with, so I was very fortunate.

“Mac De Stroyer was a pretty special horse coming through. I was lucky to be on Ideal Scott, he won a Great Northern Derby and I got to go to Australia with him and drive over there.

“Cyclone U Bolt won a Jewels for us and a few years ago we had Splendour as well. We went over to Australia and won the Gold Coast Oaks and ran second in the Queensland Oaks with her.”

Macfarlane has achieved plenty in harness racing to date and he owes it all to riding his ponies past trainer Murray Edmonds’ property when he was a kid.

“I was a Christchurch boy and around that era everyone you knew was associated with racing,” he said.

“I was riding past Murray Edmonds’ place on my ponies and he said, ‘you better come in and have a drive’, and I was pretty much hooked after that.

“I started helping out at Murray’s when I was 12 or 13. I worked for him over the school holidays and when I left school I went up to the Purdon’s.

“It was a bit overwhelming at the time (heading to Auckland away from home), but they were great people to work for and they looked after me really well.”

Being associated with New Zealand’s leading stable, Macfarlane has fond memories of handling some of the best horseflesh to grace New Zealand’s tracks.

“Luxury Liner won his first two Cups when I first started working there and then along came Christopher Vance and Chokin,” he said.

“I got a lot of opportunities to drive horses there and they set me up pretty well in the junior drivers ranks when I was there.

“I then did a short stint with Brian Notman and then started working for Dave McGowan.”

Like any horseman involved in racing, Macfarlane said he is driven by finding his next star, and he may just have found them in the form of two-year-old filly Kaching Kaching.

“She is quite a nice little filly,” he said. “She ran fourth in the Jewels. She is a progressive type, but she has got to take the next step up. From what she has shown so far, I don’t think she is too far off the better ones.”

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