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‘Big Leonard’ to go bang again?

By Duane Ranger

Linda Graham was questioned why she would let her daughter, Brittany, buy a standardbred that couldn’t even pace properly.

But the proud Mum said she went with the judgement of her daughter and husband Darrel.

That was in early November. Fast forward to just over two months and Big Bang Leonard will be vying for his sixth win in a row shortly after 7.20pm at Albion Park tomorrow (Saturday) night.

“Brittany saw him advertised on the Internet along with another horse called Return Ace for $7,500 each. They were both owned by the same person and were racing at Tamworth on November 7.

“Brittany spoke to her Dad and they looked at both horses past form. Brittany decided that she liked Big Bang Leonard and made an offer which the owners accepted. Both horses were racing in Tamworth on the Thursday, so she purchased him before that and said that he would be collected there.

“A road trip was then planned for Darrel and I to drive to Tamworth to pick him up. He won that day, but never looked comfortable and we even had people ask us why she would be buying him as he couldn’t pace properly.

“Her theory was, if he could win while pacing so badly, and if there was any sort of improvement, he would certainly be worth the $5,000 she ended up paying for him as a claimer. She then asked Stephanie to train him for her,” Mrs Graham (Linda) said.

Lachie Manzelmann will drive Big Bang Leonard for the first time tomorrow because of his claim.

“The girls are taking advantage of Lachie’s claim because he is a good young driver. He should give the horse every chance,” Mrs Graham said.

She said she was proud of both of her daughters – Brittany (24) and Stephanie (20).

“Stephanie couldn’t talk to you today because she is busy in her day-job as a sales consultant for Telstra.

“Steph gets a bit nervous talking in these sort of situations. I have to ring and make appointments for her. She hates blowing her own trumpet. Brittany on the other hand is the media (Sky Racing, Sydney). Unlike her sister, Steph does not want a driving licence,” Graham said.

Last Thursday on the same track Big Bang Leonard won easily thanks to a patient steer from his owner and driver.

They drew a 12 that night and Graham settled ‘Leonard’ second last before hooking on to the three-wide train down the back straight the last time.

They paced the 1609m mobile in 1:56.9 (mile rate 1:53.4). Their sectionals were 27.3, 28.9, 28.8, and 28.5. ‘Leonard’ won by an increasing two lengths thanks to his late sprint wide out.

“If the race is run to suit tomorrow, he is in very confident form so I’m sure he will go very well. He does have issues which prevent him from pacing perfectly, so there is always a risk with him, but he certainly doesn’t owe Brittany anything, and Steph and I will certainly be there to cheer him on. Brittany will be watching from Ballarat and crossing her fingers,” Mum said.

The Art Major 9-year-old gelding went a personal best 1:51 mile rate three starts back when dead-heating with the Space Invader from gate four.

Tomorrow he has drawn one on the second line over the 1,660m mobile, and follows out $8 fifth favourite, Change Of Mind. Big Bang Leonard opened up at $6 equal third favourite in an even field.

He has now won 19 of his 139 starts and placed in 40 others for $147,207 in purses. This season he has won six from 16, placed in four and banked $33,884.

“We are very proud of the horse and both girls – and not only just their work ethic, but they are both young ladies who have great respect for not only others, but themselves.

“Steph currently has four in work and Leonard is the fastest horse she is training but the best potentially is Tiz A Sizzler,” said Graham, who has been based in Fernvale for the past 24 years.

“I have nothing to do with the hands on work with any of the horses - just paperwork and organisation is my role,” Graham added.