Son Of Mac upsets Merlin at Cambridge

By Michael Guerin

The biggest decision of Kyle Marshall’s career has been followed by a very mature decision about his best horse.

And it paid instant dividends in a high-class three-year-old race at Cambridge on Thursday night.

The Marshall-trained Son Of Mac led throughout to win the 1700m pace in a 1:54.3 mile rate, holding out the late charge of Merlin who struggled to get into the race from his wide draw.

While he was back and then wide, Son Of Mac was under a nice rein from new driver Tony Herlihy in front, the Iceman in the sulky as Marshall thinks he isn’t driving enough at the moment to pilot his stable star in next week’s $200,000 Harness Million back at Cambridge.

“I am not driving enough to do the best by a horse like him in a race that big and a driver like Tony shouldn’t be watching races that big from the drivers' room so we were lucky enough to get him.”

Son Of Mac now heads to the Harness Million on Friday on the front foot and with the gate speed to be a huge chance of his home track if he can draw well.

“We always thought and hoped he would come back better as a three-year-old and he has so it is exciting,” says Marshall.

Safely through the Harness Million, Son Of Mac will be aimed at the Northern Derby at Alexandra Park on March 24 but then he could be lost to New Zealand racing along with his trainer.

Marshall has accepted an offer of assistance from the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club to move to Victoria and train from there.

He and his partner Sophie Jefferies will move there in April and are likely to take six horses including Son Of Mac as well as getting ownership support from the Cranbourne club at the yearling sales.

“It is a great opportunity and David Scott (chief executive) and the Cranbourne club have been wonderful to deal with,” says Marshall.

“They have really good training facilities there and the handicapping system should really work for us as does having lots of racing opportunities so we are going to make a real go of it.”

Marshall says he is keen to hear from New Zealand owners who think their horses would be better suited in Victoria as well as head to the yearling sales there looking for Vicbred horses.

“I have spoken to Son Of Mac’s owners and they seem keen to see him race in Australia where there should be a decent three-year-old race for him most weeks.

“We will decide later whether he stays here for the Sires’ Stakes in May or comes to Victoria with us and gets aimed at the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown.

“So it is an exciting time for Sophie and I, to have a really good horse and such a great opportunity in Victoria.”

While beaten hot favourite Merlin lost few fans for the Harness Million next Friday with his booming late run while there was merit in the runs of Alta Meteor and Charlie Brown.

Other highlights of the night included Double Delight overcoming a 30m handicap to win the main trot while one of the new teams in northern harness, the Telfer/Cullen stable and newly-employed driver James Stormont tasted instant success with Chimichurri in the intermediate pace.

Stormont now works for Steve Telfer in the northern barn and has brought four of his own horses across so will be the stable’s No.1 driver in the north.

“I am very excited to be part of such a successful operation with some lovely horses,” says Stormont.

That means Stormont’s classy pacer Hey Bartender will now be part of the Telfer/Cullen barn when he returns from a spell, with a slight leg issue forcing hm to the paddock.

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