By Duane Ranger
“Alan is a 74-year-old retired radiologist who has been given a new lease of life by the horses. Anyone would think he’s 18 the way he bounces around. I’m so pleased for him. This is what racing is all about.”
Those were the words from North MacLean horseman, Graham Dwyer, after he trained and drove the Alan Self-owned, Sports Story, to win the inaugural Marburg Oaks Country Classic at the Marburg Showgrounds yesterday.
“This is heart and soul harness racing, This is where the battlers get to have their day. It’s the complete opposite to Albion Park on a Saturday night. I’m so pleased for Alan. He’s loved the trots forever, but has only really started to get into them as an owner since he’s retired.
“He’s like a young kid who’s just been let loose in a playground. He’s having such fun. His blood is boiling and I can not keep up with him. I don’t think anyone can,” Dwyer said.
“Alan has also got two other horses with us – Goalkicker and Greg The Great, but potentially this girl is the best of the 12 I’ve got in work. I’m rapt for him,” added Dwyer, who runs the family-based Kings Lodge Pacing Stables in Greenbank.
Sports Story and Dwyer drew five (of seven) in Sunday’s 2,200m mobile. They crossed from the widest front row draw at the start and from that point dictated all the pace to hold on and win by a neck.
The 3-year-old Sportswriter filly stopped the clock in 2:46.8 (mile rate 2:02). Her sectionals were 31.4, 32 even, 29.2, and 30.1. It was the talented bay’s sixth win in 20 starts. She’s also placed nine times and now banked $31,131.
“I was over the moon with the win. I’ve placed in Group and Listed races before, but this is my first Oaks. Sure it’s only a $7,500 race, but it’s an Oaks and I’m delighted.
“It’s capped off a season-best for us. We’ve now had a record 45 winners and just as many seconds and thirds from 330 starters.
“I’m 45 now and have been training since I was 18, so it’s been a great way to end the 2018-2019 season. I won’t forget this in a hurry, because of what it means to Alan as well. He’s just having so much fun,” Dwyer said.
He was also delighted that Sports Story was starting to come of age and put her past feet problems behind her.
“She’s done lots of swimming and now appears to be on top of her problems. She’s a fast filly who can run some nice sectionals. The good thing with her is that she’s only three and has time to develop into a real nice race mare next season and when she is five,” Dwyer said.
Sports Story held on to beat the fast-finishing Shesfeelinprecious and Peter McMullen.
It was a good day for the driver nicknamed ‘Leader Peter’. The talented 27-year-old also drove the Bill Crosby owned and trained Major Slip Up to win the inaugural $7,500 Marburg Derby Country Classic.
Like Sports Story, this 3-year-old son of Art Major was the favourite and the gelding also had a neck to spare at the line.
He paced the 2,200m mobile in 2:43.7 (mile rate 1:59.7) and his sectionals were 30.2, 30.6, 28.8, and 30.9. It was Major Slip Up’s third win in 17 starts.
McMullen also drove the Chantal Turpin (his wife) trained Torque Feels Good to win the seventh event – the Rosewood All Class Pace.
Every starter at Marburg was allocated a free bag of Barastoc feed. That company was a major race sponsor throughout the day.