Our Spitfire might be lightyears away from some of the best trotters Frank “Snow” Weaver has been associated with, but her win over 2200m at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday was nonetheless satisfying for her owner.
The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett-trained mare broke badly in her previous outing at the Waikato track and a change of gear has worked wonders for the daughter of Majestic Son.
“Two weeks ago when she broke, Bernie couldn’t hang on to her she was galloping that bad,” Weaver said.
“It was her first time to the races (on Thursday) with half-hopples on.
“She improved out of sight at the trials with the half-hopples and I thought she was a great chance on Thursday, and I told a few people to put a couple of dollars on her.
“If she goes away and trots she is a hard horse to beat.”
Our Spitfire is a half-sister to Weaver’s Group One performing trotter Mum’s Pride, who won the Gr.3 Greenlane Cup (2700m).
Weaver was hoping Mum’s Pride would become his third world-class trotter after Petite Evander and Pride Of Petite.
“I was looking for the third one and thought it could be Mum’s Pride, but it wasn’t,” Weaver said.
Lightning rarely strikes twice in racing and Weaver is just thankful it happened to him with his two star mares.
He remembers being inspired by the success of a couple of Kiwi trainers in the United States, which triggered his desire to campaign top-class trotter Petite Evander in the United States in the 1970’s.
“I remember when I was living in the Waitakere’s and I said to Dad that I would like to go to America with her (Petite Evander) seeming as Charlie Hunter was doing so well and she was doing so well over here.
“He said to go and he sent my brother with me to look after me and we went there for six months.
“We met Eddie Dunnigan (trainer) and Jack Hughes, he is the man that everyone forgets but he is the one that jacked it all up for me.
“He met me on the plane and took me to Eddie Dunnigan in California and I left the horse with Eddie instead of going on to another place where I was supposed to go.
“It was the greatest experience of my life to travel to America. We went all over with that horse and then we went to Europe. We had a great time in Europe and even my Dad flew over there.”
The pinnacle for Weaver was winning the Elitloppet Consolation in Sweden with Petite Evander.
“They have stopped doing the consolation class races in Europe, but she went the same time (when winning the consolation) as the Elitloppet Final.”
Weaver’s association with arguably the world’s biggest trotting race was not over, returning to Solvalla in 1996 with Petite Evander’s daughter Pride Of Petite, who acquitted herself well when qualifying for the final and finishing sixth.
“We got a chance to go back again with Pride of Petite and (trainer-driver) Mark Purdon, that was great,” Weaver said.
“When I look back on it I had a great time and the people in America and Europe were terrific.”
While still on the search for his next top trotter, it won’t be one that he has bred, with Weaver stepping back from breeding, but he is looking forward to watching the family he developed live on through his stepson.
“I have stopped breeding,” he said. “I sold two of my broodmares to Woodlands Stud. Peter, my step son, has formed a syndicate with one of the mares I had here, Our Petite Lady.
“The syndicate decided to send her to Muscle Mass, but we lost the foal about a week ago.
“Her mother (Petite Sunshine) is by Sundon, out of Pride Of Petite.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk