Upset win adds to Shirley’s Forbury legacy

By Jonny Turner

Invercargill trotter Mr Olympus added to the mark the Shirley family has made at Forbury Park when he won at massive $122 odds at the Dunedin track on Thursday night.

Trainers Mark and Debbie Shirley produced a massive upset when the five-year-old scored in just his third start from the husband and wife’s stable, with Mark in the sulky

With the curtain coming down on Forbury Park’s time as a racing venue, Mark was keen to get back to the track where he drove his first winner in January of 1985.

After Mr Olympus produced two solid outings in his first two starts from his new stable, the trotter was ready to make an impact at the track Shirley and his late father Gil have enjoyed plenty of success at over the past seven decades.

“I was keen to get back to Forbury Park before it shut, my father won the first race here under lights in 1961,” Shirley said.

“He had a lot of success here.”

“When I used to drive a lot more I had a lot of luck here, when I started out.”

“I drove my first winner here with a horse called Rigger, who beat a horse called Scurry.”

“My dad’s cousin Leo Shirley was president of the club for about 10 to 15 years, too.”

Mr Olympus delivered Shirley a quick return after he was taken on by the trainer-driver as something on a winter project.

“I have had him three or four months, I grabbed him when we retired Rydgemont Milly,” Shirley said.

“We had her racing for five years, so I was looking for something to fill the gap.”

Though My Olympus has finished back in the field in his two starts for the Shirley barn, his trainers have been pleased with the horse’s efforts.

“He has been a project, but it has paid off.”

“I have got a good farrier, Phillip Devery, who has changed his shoeing around.”

“Tommy Beckett (equine chiropractor) had a look at him the other day and gave him a bit of a touch-up, and it all counts.”

Mr Olympus’ $122 winning dividend eclipsed Shirley’s previous biggest price and that has earned him a spot on the trainer’s wall at home.

“My brother Grant and I raced a mare called Leyland Rose and she won at Winton and paid $75.”

“I think that is our biggest win.”

“I’ve got the photo on the wall at home with the divvie written in there and I might have to do that with this win.”

There were no dividends like Mr Olympus’ big winning price among the four winners trainer Michael House’s produced on Thursday night.

House continued a hot run of form with his winning quartet which included Beta Than Love (race 2), Don’t Quote Me (race 3), Santanna Mach (race 7) and Zoned Scarlett (race 9).


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