Travel to pay off for O’Reilly
By Jonny Turner
Doing the hard yards can pay off for Sarah O’Reilly at Ascot Park on Friday.
While most of her fellow Canterbury drivers will be competing close to home at Addington, the junior driver will head south to combine with a full book of drives on a shortened six-race card in Invercargill.
O’Reilly drives several big hopes from the Michael House stable, including Franco Hoffman in race 5.
The pacer is part of a powerful House team which includes Mogul, Santanna Mach and Proviseur.
Franco Hoffman worked and fought strongly for fourth in his latest outing at Winton, chasing home race rival Who’s Daddy, who clearly looks the hardest horse for the House runners to beat.
“He did a bit of work in his last start and he fought on quite good,” O’Reilly said.
“He should be right there in the finish on Friday.”
Rockin Va Va looks another key drive for O’Reilly in race 5.
The pacer unwound strongly to run third in his latest outing at Winton, only seeing clear air late.
“He got home quite good at Winton and she has got a good draw (1), so hopefully he can use it to his advantage and be handy for the whole race and run home good again.”
O’Reilly also combines with the House trained Doctor Lavros in race 3.
Another who produced a good effort at Winton, the trotter fought on strongly for fourth behind the impressive Hidden Talent.
“That was his first start back in Southland and he ran pretty well, hopefully he can improve on that and be in the finish on Friday.”
O’Reilly combines with three runners from Brian Norman’s stable on Friday, including Harleen Quinzel in race 1.
The trotter has shown she clearly has the ability to win a race at short notice, but she has made mistakes in her recent outings.
“She started off doing everything right, but she has been a bit of a trick the last couple of starts, pacing away,” O’Reilly said.
“I saw she had a trial and trotted the whole way and that is basically all she needs to do to fill a placing.”
Foxfire Easton steps up in grade after his win for Norman and O’Reilly at Winton last week.
From barrier 3 in an even line up, the pacer looks a winning hope again.
“He won in a lower-rated race last week, it is a tiny bit of a raise in grade.”
“He can still be competitive, he can go back and if it is a genuine speed he can usually sprint home well.”
“He does have a bit of gate speed, so I will just decide what I am doing behind the gate.”
O’Reilly and Norman also combine with The Waterboy in race 2.
The four-year-old produced a creditable debut when fighting hard for fourth at Wyndham last month.
The pacer looks a genuine threat, but he must overcome drawing barrier 8.