McCaffrey in festive mood
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Christmas has already come early this year for Tamahere trainer Sean McCaffrey, but he is hoping for more pre-Christmas joy when he heads to Cambridge Raceway on Saturday.
McCaffrey’s exciting filly Con Grazia Love delivered an early Christmas present when she won the Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Oaks (1980m) at Addington Raceway last month, giving him his first elite-level success in several years.
“She is the highlight (this season),” McCaffrey said.
“She has already been to the top of the mountain and seen the view and we hope we can get back there in other stages of her life.”
The daughter of Love You backed up her Group One success with a brave fourth placing against the boys in the Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Derby (2600m) and McCaffrey was thrilled with her performance after getting revved up early in the race.
“Maurice (McKendry, driver) said we were undone a bit by the false starts,” McCaffrey said.
“By the time we were leaving the gate the third time, the lights were on and they weren’t going to come off. She never does that, she has always been very good.
“I think it was just one of those things where she said she would give them a race and was towing them most of the way. He (McKendry) thought it was a very good effort to hold on for fourth because he thought she would stop along time before then by the way she pulled.
“We were very happy with fourth after the way the race went.”
McCaffrey is now looking forward to next season with the rising four-year-old, although he is wary of the strong open-class trotting scene at present.
“We have just given her a spell and every time we have given her a spell she has come back way better,” he said.
“We will race again in the autumn and looking to flex a bit of muscle against some of the better horses.
“It is tough for any of them. We have got a great bunch of trotters running around the top grade at the moment. It is pretty hard to see her beating them, but even if we run close to them you would be happy.”
While he is looking forward to next season with Con Grazia Love, McCaffrey’s attention is currently set on his local meeting this weekend where he has three potential runners.
Betterzippit is currently under offer and may not take his place in the Garrards Horse & Hound Cambridge Christmas Cup Handicap Pace (2700m), however, McCaffrey is excited about the prospects of stablemate Swimintheriver in the Hire A Venue @ Cambridge Raceway Mobile Pace (2200m).
The three-year-old gelding ran third first-up at Cambridge last week and her trainer believes he can improve on that result on Saturday.
“I think he was probably a bit short for the race last week. He led and they burnt early. He had a bit of a siesta in the middle and just got run over by a couple of good horses,” McCaffrey said.
“He will be fitter and better for it and I think he will be hard to beat on Saturday.”
He is more hopeful than confident with his other runner, Chelsea Hotel in the Tote Burger Now Open For The Summer Trot (2200m).
“She is a bit of a conundrum. When she puts her best foot forward, she goes a lot better right-handed,” McCaffrey said.
“We are back at the experimental stage this week and we are trying her out with a bit of different gear left-handed.
“She does seem to have more of a mental than physical block going left-handed, so we are hopeful.”
McCaffrey will also take the reins behind his former stable runner Bun In The Oven, who will have her first start for new trainers Jason and Megan Teaz in the Thanks For Supporting Cambridge Community House Trot (2700m).
“Jason has got her now and he said part of the deal was for me to keep driving her,” McCaffrey said.
“She is reasonably consistent, and she is in the right race for her. If she gets away quick, she will be in the fray.”