In warm weather Ascot racing was highlighted by Shaun O’Donnell showcasing his unquestionable skills with a winning treble.
O’Donnell was successful in the fifth, sixth and last race with Back To A Walk, I’m Feeling Lucky and Night Prowler, respectively.
O’Donnell is an exciting rider to watch and his immaculate timing was evident with his first two winners who both came from near the rear to snatch victory.
Although Back To A Walk had not won for 525 days his recent form has been good, with three seconds from his last four starts and he always finishes his races strongly.
With a clear run down the outside O’Donnell commented post-race, “I thought I had it won at the 200m mark.” The Gino Poletti trained galloper scored by a neck from Vacallo (William Pike) and Zester (Jerry Noske).
“It is the best I have had him for some time and he has had long breaks between his campaigns,” Poletti said of his lightly raced galloper.
“Shaun is loyal and loves this horse,” the trainer said.
Northam trainer Cliff Smith was equally delighted with the jockey’s performance in the next race over 2150m on I’m Feeling Lucky.
“I thought she would win again today after her success on January 31 and good barrier draws do make a difference. Shaun positioned her nicely and he followed the ultimate second placed horse, (Andi’s Boy), all the way. She has strong final 600m and I will continue to step her up through the grades,” Smith said.
True enough. O’Donnell scythed his way through the field with seemingly effortless ease and when Andi’s Boy sprinted, for home, I’m Feeling Lucky was sent in pursuit.
O’Donnell’s duel with another strong rider, Peter Hall, was a great finish to the day, and his charge, Night Prowler, lifted when challenged, to defeat Highly Secret.
The man nick-named Donga rode Night Prowler to his only other win, on July 31 last year at Northam, when the horse was prepared by veteran trainer Wally Mitchell.
Yesterday’s win gave another trainer called Mitchell a winning association with the galloper. Long time strapper, but novice trainer, Julie Mitchell, won her first race as a trainer, since gaining her license a month ago.
She is the daughter of former trainer, Aub Mitchell who fathered her aged 50, the age she is now.
Although Mitchell has led in many winners for other stables, and was also an integral part of her former husband Ken Williamson’s stable, the new trainer clearly savoured the special moment that the last race on Ascot, on March 7, provided her.
HOOFNOTE: Shaun O’Donnell Jr added to a great family day for the O’Donnell clan when he won the last race at Albany on Elite Flight ($31.10).
Who do the O’Donnell’s think they are- the Turners?
Think about it.
Shelby Bowtell combined with Inok to win in an absolute thriller against Strictly Boardroom (Mitchell Pateman) in the Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Handicap (1200m).
“Mitchell declared he had won as we were easing up, and I thought I had lost too,” Bowtell said. However the photo showed Inok had lasted long enough.
Bowtell’s 3kg claim on the top weight and the fact Pateman dropped his whip were all factors in the nine year old galloper winning his 14th race from 61 starts.
Inok and Bowtell have now combined to win twice for trainer Neville Parnham in the last three outings together.
Stable foreman, Mark Sestich, said, “Shelby has done a lot of work for the stable and is now reaping rewards. She was asked to lead and then ease back if possible and she carried those instructions out after doing a bit off work early,” Sestich said.
Bowtell said she loved Inok “to bits.”