By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Hey Bartender has been a test in patience for trainer James Stormont and his group of owners, but they were rewarded for their perseverance at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday.
The four-year-old gelding was making his debut in The Clubhouse Hole In 1 Challenge Sundays Mobile Pace (2200m) and made the perfect start to his career, winning by 3-1/4 lengths.
He didn’t have it all his own way. He was stuck in an early speed duel with Major Thomas before Stormont elected to take the trail behind the Ray Green and Andrew Drake-trained runner.
Stormont elected to challenge Major Thomas again and was able to grab the lead at the bell. Rounding the final bend Hey Bartender opened several lengths on his opposition and won like the horse Stormont knew he was.
“I have put a lot of work into him and the owners have been very patient. It is nice to see some of his potential,” Stormont said.
“He has always shown me a lot of ability, but he has had a few niggly things go wrong here and there.
“He is just one of those horses that is out in the paddock who bucks and kicks and plays, and bangs his legs and gets hurt.”
While Stormont said Hey Bartender has still got a bit to learn, he believes there are a few wins in the son of Sweet Lou.
“When he was well clear he pulled up and was looking at things. That is all part of learning too,” Stormont said.
“He has got a bright future and I believe in him. He sprinted three times in the race and still had a little bit left.”
Stormont’s night got even better when stablemate Kelvinz Luck posted a seven-length win in the Ike Unsworth Bayleys Trotters Gold Cup Heat 3 (2200m) to secure a stable double.
“I didn’t know that (winning margin) until I got back to the stabling area,” he said.
“It will be good to have some McDonald’s when I get home and have a look at the race on my phone.”
Stormont said the son of Peak will likely return to Cambridge in the hope of continuing is solid form line.
“It was just a matter of him going away, he is getting better and better. He is getting his confidence back,” Stormont said.
“We can go back to Auckland now if we want to, but there are another couple of nice races at Cambridge so we will stay down there.”