Sarah O'Reilly and Walkinonsunshine star at Ascot Park
By Jonny Turner
Walkinonsunshine showed why she’s the best three-year-old trotting filly in New Zealand with her victory in the Southland Trotting Oaks.
Driver Blair Orange took control of the feature event, utilising his charge’s gate speed to set up a front-running victory at Ascot Park.
After bagging her second Oaks title, following her Northern Oaks win earlier this year, Walkinonsunshine is on track for another tilt against the boys for trainer Tom Bagrie.
The runner-up in the Group One Northern Trotting Derby will head to the Hambletonian at Ashburton to continue what is set to be a big spring and summer campaign.
“We are going to take on the boys next in the Hambletonian,” Bagrie said.
“Then we will probably leave Cup Week alone, the main target is the New Zealand Trotting Oaks.”
Walkinonsunshine showed all the tactical speed needed to win the feature.
Bagrie describes his filly as one that has all the attributes needed for top-level racing.
“She has got all the things you want in a nice horse.”
“She just makes it too easy – she is easy to train.”
“She eats up and tries her heart out.”
“She is not real flash, she doesn’t have high speed or anything but she is just really genuine.”
Walkinonsunshine isn’t flash on the breeding front, considering her dam is by the pacing sire Falcon Seelster.
Despite her pacing breeding, Blackjacky was a handy mare trotting mare, trained by Bagrie’s father Peter.
And she has left a classy filly in Walkinonsunshine for owners Reg and Bella Storer.
“It is great for Reg to have a nice horse because he has put so much into the industry,” Bagrie said.
Sarah O’Reilly put herself in prime position to win her fourth New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship title with a winning double at Ascot Park.
The championship came to Invercargill for the first time and O’Reilly took out two of three heats.
O’Reilly piloted Ellz Angel and With A Bang to victory to end the second day of the three-day competition in first place.
O’Reilly leads with 60 points ahead of Zev Merideth on 54 points and Carter Dalgety on 47 points.
Gemma Thornley took out the third Invercargill heat with Gift Card, taking her to fifth in the competition’s standings.
The championships now head to the final day at Methven on Sunday.