San Carlo getting the hang of right-handed racing
By Garrick Knight
A right-handed workout at Pukekohe on Saturday furthered San Carlo’s preparation for the Inter Dominion series, which starts in Auckland on Friday.
The nine-year-old Victorian pacer, who had never raced or trialed right-handed before put in his best effort yet going ‘the other way’, according to connections.
Co-trainer Stephen O’Donoghue, back in Australia this week, said his training partner – and San Carlo’s driver - Bec Bartley, had offered a positive report from the outing.
“She’s gradually getting happier and happier with him,” he told HRNZ.
“He’s struggled going the ‘wrong way’, he really has.
“But with every run he’s gotten a little better and with each workout at Barry Purdon’s property he’s getting more tractable.”
There was only one obvious incidence of San Carlo losing his compass in the workout – when extracted off leader Sicario’s back going down the back straight the last time.
But he soon corrected it and finished a close-up second on a fast-run 55.5-second last half.
“He’s just a big dumb bugger,” says O’Donoghue.
“All his life, nothing has come naturally to him.
“So, to spin him around and ask him to go quick the other way was always going to be a challenge.
“He runs in a bit, but the way we go he runs out; he’s hung all his life in every race or workout he’s ever had.”
Aside from the direction, the other concern for O’Donoghue and Bartley had been San Carlo’s career-worst performance in the New Zealand Cup at his last start.
But they’ve put that behind them and head in to Auckland with high hopes.
“Bec said he felt good and felt really strong so at least what happened in Christchurch is behind him.
“We can’t put our finger on anything other than he was gassed up.
“His heart rate was high and he was passing wind like he’s never done before. Just a wee bit crook on the day
“His blood work since has been all good so we will allow him one bad run from 52 starts.”
Watching Our Uncle Sam bounce back from his disastrous Canterbury campaign with a brilliant win at Auckland on Friday night gave O’Donoghue and Bartley a boost, too.
The draws were due out at the time of writing but O’Donoghue wasn’t overly engrossed in what might happen.
“I don’t worry about draws with him; I gave up worrying about them long ago.
“He’ll just do what he has to no matter where he draws.
“I’m just happy that he’s pulled up well from the trial and is handling the other way a lot better now.”
Sicario was driven by Tony Herlihy in the workout and he will take the reins behind the Brent Lilley-trained former Kiwi in the series.
In other pacing series news out over the weekend, A G’s White Socks has joined master horseman Barry Purdon’s stable, usual trainers Greg and Nina Hope opting to focus on their team at home.
Purdon withdrew Ball Of Art on Monday morning, leaving 25 pacers in the Series.