Memorable night for Donnelly

Fira brought up win number four for Arna Donnelly at The Raceway on Thursday night - Fokus Photography
Fira brought up win number four for Arna Donnelly at The Raceway on Thursday night

Fokus Photography

Local trainer Arna Donnelly had one of her most memorable nights in racing on Thursday after winning almost half of the nine race card at Cambridge Raceway.

Her blue and white colours graced the winners circle on four occasions, with Donnelly also recording a further placing on the night.

Amateur driver Rodney Frampton kicked off proceedings in the opening race, reining home Liberal Arden before stable junior driver Alicia Harrison notched the stable’s second win of the night when driving Westburn Yield to her fourth victory in the McMillian Equine Feeds Mobile Pace (1700m).

Regular stable driver Scott Phelan finished off the night in style, securing the last two races on the card with Patanjali and Fira.

Donnelly said she was confident with her team heading into Thursday, but the four victories exceeded her expectations.

“I thought the last two horses were really good chances of winning and then the other two won beforehand, so it was fantastic,” Donnelly said. “I think three (wins in a meeting) has been our previous best.

“We also got a third (with debutant Wildestdreams) and T C Business was just a little bit unlucky. To still run fifth, he went quite well. We qualified two as well, so it was even better.

“It would have to be one of the highlights (of my training career), there have been a few others, but it was definitely right up there.

“We had some good draws and all the horses had been racing really well, probably without that much luck.

“I didn’t think we would pull off that many, but I did think the last two were really good chances. They got the right runs and everything worked out well.”

Donnelly has already equaled her winning tally from last season of 21 wins and she now looks set to surpass her previous best of 25 wins, recorded in 2017.

“It looks that way, but we won’t count our chickens before they hatch,” she said. “Hopefully things keep rolling like they have been.

“It is a team effort. Without my staff and all my helpers and family I just couldn’t do it, so I have to take my hat off to them.”

A number of Donnelly’s victors from Thursday night will head to Palmerston North next week and she is hoping both T C Business and Wildestdreams can record their first victories for the stable at the Manawatu track.

T C Business has been a recent acquisition by Harrison and Donnelly said he will need a bit of luck on Wednesday after drawing the outside of the front row.

“We did think he would need the run (at Cambridge on Thursday),” Donnelly said. “We haven’t had him that long.

“I think if he had half a gap he might have been a really good place chance. He has got a bad draw on Wednesday, but he is definitely one to follow.”

Wildestdreams pleased Donnelly with her debut performance on Thursday and she said the daughter of Mach Three is a chance of breaking her maiden next week.

“She was super on Thursday night,” Donnelly said. “It’s hard going from learners heats and qualifying into race day.

“She had a couple of maiden heats and they didn’t run super times, so it is a big step up for them. But she handled herself well and she looks a good chance on paper. There are a couple in there on Wednesday that go well, but she should be thereabouts.”

Meanwhile, Donnelly’s season could get even better, with promising three-year-old Double Rocket set on a path towards the Gr.1 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Pacing Derby (2600m) at Addington on April 5.

Purchased as a yearling for $26,000 by Donnelly, the son of American Ideal has won four of his seven career starts to date, including a last-start victory at Alexandra Park.

“Double Rocket, he is off to Christchurch this week,” Donnelly said. “He’s going to go down there for the Derby the following week. He might race on Friday at Addington, that’s the plan at this stage.” – Cambridge Raceway


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