By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
While at the eleventh-hour Clevedon horseman Scott Phelan was denied from driving at Cambridge Raceway’s meeting on Thursday, he still went home a winner.
Phelan, who trains in partnership with Barry Purdon, secured a winning double early on the card with Be My Rose and Montana Jet.
Harness Racing New Zealand sought clarification with the Department Of Internal Affairs (DIA) around inter-regional travel between Waikato and Auckland, who is currently under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions.
While Phelan, along with a number of other reinsmen, had held travel exemptions to attend race meetings, the DIA ruled that drivers could not travel between the two regions while Auckland was in Level 3.
While Phelan was unable to drive, he was able to float his horses to Cambridge Raceway, where they were cared for by local trainer Arna Donnelly.
“I was set to drive, but Arna was kind enough to gear them all up for us which was great,” Phelan said.
“We took the horses down in the float, gave them to Arna, and away they went.”
Be My Rose was the first on the board for the South Auckland stable, running down Commander Cathy to win by a neck in the Happy Birthday Larry Prior Mobile Pace (2200m).
It was the second start for the daughter of American Ideal, who ran seventh at the Waikato track when on debut last month.
“She improved a lot since her last run, we changed a couple of things, and Fergy (Peter Ferguson, driver) did the job for us,” Phelan said.
It was a similar scenario two races later when stablemate Montana Jet posted a similar margin victory in the Bettor’s Delight – King Of Sales Mobile Pace (2200m).
The Somebeachsomewhere gelding sat midfield before driver David Butcher launched him four-wide at the 400m mark to chase down leader Dynamite Dez, who had pinched several margins on his rivals turning for home. Montana Jet flew home late and was able to nab his rival on the line to win by a neck.
“He gave the leader a bit turning for home, but David got him up in the end, which was good,” Phelan said.
While he was unable to drive on Thursday night, Phelan is pleased he is in the Auckland bubble, which allows him to compete at Alexandra Park’s Premier meeting on Friday night.
“Any win is good, but those big premier nights are a big target for us,” Phelan said. “We have got a few nice chances, so if luck goes our way we will be alright.”
His stable juveniles are particularly exciting Phelan, with Montana DJ and Major Perry tackling the Gr.1 Breckon Farms Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m), while Chantilly and Artisan will contest the Gr.2 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Delightful Lady Classic (1700m).
“We are happy with all our two-year-olds,” Phelan said. “Some have got good draws and some have got pretty average draws, but they are all with a chance in their races.”
Phelan will also line-up Raven Banner in the night’s feature race, the Gr.1 2021 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby (2700m).
The Bettor’s Delight gelding has won two of his last three starts, but Phelan said even from his ace draw he will have his work cut out for him in the hotly contested Classic.
“Raven Banner has got a good draw, but it’s a step up for him. But you never know if he is in the right position,” Phelan said.
The stable will also contest the Listed Magness Benrow NZSS Northern Mares Classic (2200m) with Dixie Reign, and the Gr.2 Auckland Co-op Taxis 300-3000 City Of Auckland FFA (2200m) with Havtime.
“It’s a step up for Dixie Reign, but hopefully she can get handy,” Phelan said. “Havtime has got a good draw (2), so hopefully she can get across and get a good spot.”