By Duane Ranger
Gifted Penrith reinsman, Chris Geary, has been living and working out of Queensland for eight months, and for now he is happy to keep on driving more winners in Queensland.
The 21-year-old, who is employed by Jack Butler at Logan Village, said he was enjoying the “more aggressive” style of driving up here, but still travelled home regularly to see his sick father, John.
“Dad hasn’t been too well of late, and he’s one of my main priorities. He could be better, but his health at this stage is manageable.
“I like it up here. The aggressive driving is a bit different to back home. Up here you have to be near, or on the pace, whereas at a track like Menangle you can’t really burn out of the gate.
“It’s a big track and you have to be a bit more tactical,” the New South Welshman said.
Geary, who last October became the youngest ever New South Wales-based driver to notch up 500-career wins, transferred from Tim Butt’s NSW stable to Butler in March.
“I’d driven plenty of times up here before I relocated. About four years ago I used to work for Shane Graham and Vicky Rasmussen. I love it in Queensland. The weather is good and the racing is great,” Geary said.
When he notched up his 500th career victory he also became the second youngest driver to achieve the feat in Australia - with Queensland’s Pete McMullen beating him by seven months. Geary did it aged 20 and 11 months, while McMullen was 20 years and four months old.
Geary has driven Group winners and won some of Australasia’s biggest races since he began driving in November 2013, including the Gold Tiara and the Len Smith Mile.
It took him five drives to land his first winner and that was Western Gailes at Bankstown on December 7, 2013.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been associated with some nice horses like My Sweetchilliphilly, Cruz Bromac, The Black Prince, Miss Streisand and many others,” he said.
“I also want to thank the Queensland owners, horsemen, and women who have been so supportive of me,” he added.
Geary has five drives at Albion Park tomorrow night (Saturday).
He rated the former Craig Cross (Cobbitty) trained duo – Zahven Banner (R1) and Seeuinnashville (R9) has his best two winning chances.
“It’s hard to separate them and they are both going well. They are now with Jack and he’s doing a real good job with them. I’m not sure how long they will be up here, but they both have draws that they can win from,” Geary said.
Geary then commented on all of five of his drives. Here’s what he had to say (with trainer, draw, form, and opening odds):
Race 1: The Jack Butler trained ZAHVEN BANNER (9) 21314 - $2.50 favourite. “Bettors Delight gelding who follows out Studleigh Stride ($26). He’s quite a nice little race horse. He paced a 1:50.8 mile rate two starts back on this track when having his first start in Queensland. That was a super run and then he had no luck at Redcliffe last time when he was three-wide on the tight turning track. He’s a fast, little horse and battled on well for fourth that night. I’m hoping for a good run through this time, and at worst we should end up three-back and two out. I’m just pleased that our toughest rival Secret Agent Tycoon ($2.80) has drawn outside us on the second row. He’s a quality pacer too. If he can get close enough to the pace, I think this fella is a real good chance. He’s an above average pacer, who has trained on well.”
Race 4: The Ian Gurney trained CLARKEY (9) 2-767 - $12 – “He’s also drawn two on the second line and had a similar tough run to Zahven Banner at Redcliffe last week. That race didn’t suit him at all, because they went a real fast lead-time and then he got dragged back before running on well. I was happy with the way he rounded off that race. I thought there was a lot of merit in that run. He’s a bit of an opportunist, who needs things to go his way. Regardless he will be finishing on.”
Race 8: The Doug Lee trained JUSTABITNOISEY (7) 4-923 (20m) - $14 – “My only drive behind him was last week and he led up and stuck on well behind the very classy, Our Overanova. He’s a little trotter who gives 110 per cent. It might be a little bit tough from 20 metres behind, but if it’s a genuine pace, he will be running on well at the business end. He’s genuine.”
Race 9: The Jack Butler trained SEEUUINNASHVILLE (3) -2611 - $3 favourite. “Even though he’s drawn okay this race could be a little bit tricky for him, because it’s a step up in grade. I’ll have to see what happens when the mobile arm releases. I’ll just have to see how quick the one (Makoa, $4) and two horses (Big Bang, Leonard $21) come out. Three is quite a tricky spot for him, but his two runs up here have been hard to fault. He’s high in confidence at the moment, and whether I can get to the front or not, he should be close-up at the finish.”
Race 10: The Brian McCall trained CUPCAKESNWHIPCREAM (2) 3514 - $6 fourth favourite. “Four-year-old mare, who has also come north to race. I used to drive a lot for her former trainer, who is Brian’s brother, Darren, back home. Brian has done a great job with her, and she has improved quite a bit since the last time I drove her here in her last two starts (July 24). She was luckless last week. She got dragged back at a vital stage, and her run for fourth had a lot of merit, because she had to pick herself up before she got going again. Again, I’ll see how the race pans out early. I may push forward or I could hold up. She’s improving all the time, and I think she’s a solid chance in this, especially the way she has been going. If not Saturday, she will win a mares’ race very shortly.”