By Duane Ranger
Former Perth horseman, Michael Tenardi, has driven a Group Two winner and won Botra Cup back in his home province of Western Australia.
Tomorrow at the Marburg Showgrounds, the 38-year-old will be looking to land his first Listed winner when he lines up the two favourites in the nine-strong $25,550 Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Pacing Final.
The Tenardi trained Top Flight Cruize (4) and Aqua Cruiser (9) will this time start from the 20m and 30m handicaps respectively in the 2200m stand.
Top Flight Cruize is the loose $4 favourite, while Aqua Cruiser opened up a $5.50 equal second favourite.
“They are the only two horses I’ve got in work,” Tenardi said.
“I’d love to get my name out there a bit more, and get a few more drives but I’ve been keeping pretty quiet because I’ve got a main labouring job.
“I’ve driven in some big races back home and I’m really looking forward to Sunday’s race.
“It would be great to have a Listed winner at Marburg, it’s where I work both of them - it’s my adopted home track I guess you could say.
“I like racing at Marburg, Dean Jones makes the race exciting and I like driving when he’s calling.
“He always gives me a good shout-out so here’s one for him.”
He estimates he’s driven about 110 career winners and trained about 50 horses since starting out in 2002.
His only Group victory came behind the Debbie Padberg trained El Machine in the Group Two $50,000 RWW Cup at Gloucester Park.
Tenard’s other major highlight came when he steered the Padberg trained Salliwood to win the 2014 Botra Cup, also at Gloucester Park.
Tenardi re-located to Queensland in May 2017, where he now trains and co-owns Aqua Cruiser and Top Flight Cruize with his partner, Kristy McAuley.
Tenardi will drive the former, while Pal Diebert gets his second drive behind Top Flight Cruize after steering him to a nose victory over his stablemate at Albion Park on March 17.
Both he and Aqua Cruiser started 50m behind that day.
Tenardi took back the reins to drive him to a 3.7 win over tomorrow’s rival, Shazam Shannon (5) – starting as the $2.70 that race.
That was also the day (April 2) that Aqua Cruiser was beaten by a head from gate three in the fourth heat by Our Delight.
“There’s not much between them, they are both peaking at the right time and both can win,” Tenardi said.
“I just hope they step away cleanly and then don’t get interfered with at the start.
“To be honest I’d like to drive them both, but stuck with Aqua Cruiser.
“I’ve been educating him all the way through and I want to stick by him because he’s not totally foolproof yet.
“Like I said, he’s in peak condition, and if it becomes a staying test he can get over the top of them, whereas the other one is more versatile.”
He’s had Mr Aviator gelding the in Top Flight Cruize since day one, and picked up Changeover gelding Aqua Cruiser from Newcastle trainer, Dennis Reay, in June last year.
They are both seven-year-olds who have had 76 (nine wins) and 63 starts (seven wins) respectively.
The Lola Weidemann trained and Lachie Manzelmann driven, Ghost Gum, should prove the hardest for the Tenardi stablemates to beat from his ace draw.
Ghost Gum opened the $5.50 equal third favourite, while his stablemate Ima Regal Jet is the $6 fourth favourite.
The third and final Weidemann trained finalist is the 2019 Ekka champion, Shazam Shannon, who opened up at $7, and will be driven by Hayden Barnes.
The only other pacer quoted at single figure odds was the Chantal Turpin trained and Peter McMullen driven, Our Delight (7) $8.50.