So close to 500 wins for Stephen McNally

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Stephen McNally reckons it's only time before he drives his elusive 500th winner, though he's far from bullish that today at Addington will be that day.

The Motukarara-based trainer-driver will drive A Reason To Fight for his "good mate" Michael Howard in Race 2, the Colin Steele Memorial Mobile Trot (5.42pm).

The Father Patrick three-year-old's been to the races twice, finishing ninth and sixth, with McNally rating him a place rather than winning chance this evening.

"This is his first mobile, after the trials of course, and he lacks a bit of ringcraft but if he trots all the way, and with some natural improvement he can get a little bit of it," says McNally.

He faces a field that includes $3.50 favourite Lotus Franco as well as the Dunn-trained Frazzled ($5.50), who's galloped in both his starts so far, won by stablemate Ya Right Darl.

McNally's already chalked up 50 training successes, but has been stuck on 499 career driving wins since Kahntdoitalone, also trained by Michael Howard, won at Motukarara in December 2022.

"It's been a while," he says dryly.

"I'm not bothered about it at all but a few people joke about it."

These days he drives sparingly compared to the "old days". His first win was a quarter of a century ago - Fasta La Vista at Kaikoura in 1999.

His busiest year was the 418 drives he had back in 2009 with his most successful wins wise being the 38 he had in 2006.

In 2011 he was sixth with the Brendon Hill-trained Power of Tara in the New Zealand Cup won by Terror To Love - the first of his third victories.

Since then McNally's priorities have changed. With a young family he decided to focus on them and his day job rather than chasing drives.

"I'm a farrier and that frees me up to do stuff with the kids and partner and to be able to organise things better."

Up early McNally works his own team. He has two in training, seven start maiden Howie Robyn and Luna Falcon, an Always B Miki two-year-old filly.

"Then I go shoeing for the rest of the day."

So does he miss the cut and thrust of race day?

"I enjoy it when I do drive but I don't miss it."

As for getting to 500, McNally says it's a case of when not if.

"A Reason To Fight or my one - one of the two will get me over the line."

"It will happen," he laughs.

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