Tomlinson ready to go
By Garrick Knight
It’s no surprise that Sheree Tomlinson isn’t bothered by nerves ahead of the Inter Dominion Trotters series, which starts in Auckland tonight.
The Christchurch 21-year-old is the only junior driver taking part in the time-honoured series and she ‘s driving the $3.20 series favourite, Marcoola so you could forgive her for being overawed.
But Tomlinson isn’t your ordinary junior driver.
She’s already an Australasian champion amongst her junior peers and she won arguably the country’s biggest trotting race, the Dominion, aged just 19, two years ago.
So, despite having taking on the country’s elite drivers like Tony Herlihy, Blair Orange, David Butcher, Anthony Butt and Mark Purdon tonight, she’s pretty chill.
In fact, when HRNZ spoke to her, she was tired after driving all the way to Dunedin on Thursday afternoon and was more focused on her two drives at Forbury Park last night.
“The nerves are pretty good actually; not too bad at all. It might be different on the night before I go out there though.”
Don’t confuse that approach with apathy though – Tomlinson is acutely aware of the occasion and the privileged position she is in.
“You can’t take drives like this for granted.
“Most drivers dream their whole lives about driving in open class races and for many it doesn’t happen.
“I’m so fortunate to have been given this opportunity.”
It’s been an interesting partnership between Tomlinson and Marcoola so far.
They first combined at Addington when running a close second to Oscar Bonavena at Addington in early October before smashing Marcoola’s own New Zealand mile record with a demolition job in the Ashburton Flying Stakes.
Next it was the Dominion where both horse and driver sought their second race win, but first together.
Marcoola went out second favourite behind Oscar Bonavena but ended up running fourth after setting up the second-fastest time in history.
Tomlinson defends the drive, quite rightly pointing out that to beat the favourite, they would have had to go that quick.
“I feel like if Oscar Bonavena hadn’t galloped, we would have run that time anyway. But I didn’t know he was out of the race
“I didn’t want to move as early as I did, but I was at risk of getting stuck behind horses that were well beaten on the Tuesday.
“The last thing I wanted was to be buried five or six back on the fence.”
Marcoola got a bit excited in front and at the end of two miles, his racing keenly caught up with him.
“He probably over-raced a bit in front. I didn’t really want to be there over two miles but that’s how it worked out.
“I think if you reversed the two runs of him and the winner, the result would have gone the other way.”
That race is behind them and now the Inter Dominion has dawned for a fresh start.
Marcoola has joined Barry Purdon and all reports are that he has settled in well.
“Barry has been keeping mum updated and says he’s quite happy with him.
“He’s not being too much of a stallion and is behaving himself.
“Barry drove him in fast work Wednesday and was really happy.”
Marcoola has drawn gate 1 and the main speed threat on the front line in Credit Master has been scratched, so he looks certain to get an uncontested lead.
Bookies have him at $1.70 and most judges rate that as good shopping.
“I’ll just play it by ear out of the gate. He’ll let me know because he likes to do his own thing.
“Over the shorter distance he can tough it out in front but I also wouldn’t be afraid to trail a horse like Tough Monarch.
“If I have to take a trail, I won’t be stressing.”
No surprises there, either.