Ellie Gets Two

Ellie Gets Two

Mac Henry

Ellie Barron admitted to being close to tears after her back to back wins on Saturday.

Barron is a grand-daughter of the late Owens Crooks, a prominent owner, trainer and studmaster whose funeral was held in Invercargill on Friday.

“He was a great supporter of mine,” said Barron who on Saturday scored her 16th and 17th wins aboard the trotter Nottingham K Two in 1:59.7 and pacer Paduka in 1:56.9. In 2017, her second and third wins had come on Mass Invasion, bred and owned by Crooks.

“How many owners would have given a first-season junior the opportunities he gave me,” she asked, “I learned so much from that horse.”

Ellie Barron and Mass Invasion at Ascot Park after Ellie’s second career win – Photo Bruce Stewart

Nottingham K Two, trained at Gore by George Orr, trailed the leader early before being shuffled three-back at the 1000. The winner of three looked destined to be unlucky until a gap appeared between the two leaders.

“Luckily he is very tractable, I got the gap late,” said Barron, who had considered him the best of her drives and certainly ahead of Paduka. But that changed in the lead-up.

Barron’s uncle Ken had previously trained Paduka. On Saturday he was racing from the stable of her father Clark for the first time.

“He only arrived about two weeks ago, I’d driven him in work but got a different feeling in the preliminaries. I just thought that in this field he could be a chance. I had hoped to lead, we were left parked but he was settled. Then when Nathan (Williamson, Bettors Highlight) came up he got keen and started sprinting. I thought he might have used all his sprint but he pricked his ears and I knew he had plenty left.”

Sheree Tomlinson didn’t know she was driving Fire Bug on Saturday until she saw the fields but didn’t waste the opportunity, winning in 1:55.3.

Drawn just one spot in from the outside of the second line, they went back at the start but then found a passage up the poles to soon be three back on the inner. Off the poles near the turn, the three-year-old on debut took time to work clear before finishing hard late.

“I didn’t want to push her forward in her first start so went back, I was lucky to get up the inside,” Tomlinson said of the Mach Three filly, “everything was stopping on the turn so I got her out, she did it really easily.”

Fire Bug, from the stable of Mark Jones, was the first of three Canterbury visitors on the day.

Second of the Cantabrians was Classy Kid whose 2:00.3 was the fastest of the winning stand-start times. The striking grey six-year-old, driven by Amber Lethaby – who in partnership with husband Jason also trains the son of Klondike Kid – led out but soon trailed Kiwi Bloke who held the advantage until late in the race.

“He’s never been far away and I would have led but the right horse to follow came round,”Amber Lethaby said. “I could have taken the lane but he hasn’t sprinted so well in there in previous races so I chose to come off.”

Lethaby named the good stake and shortage of stand-start races in Canterbury as reasons for making the trip south.

Arden Lustre made it three wins for the visitors when winning the final event in 2:01.9. In the hands of Blair Orange, the winner of seven flew out when the stand-start tapes were released and was never headed from then.