by Duane Ranger
Kyle Marshall has carried on straight from where he left off in the Australasia Young Driving Championships in Perth.
Less than a week after driving two winners across the Tasman and finishing fourth – four points behind winner, Todd McCarthy (NSW), Marshall was back in the winner’s circle at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Palmerston North last night (Tuesday).
The 22-year-old Franklin reinsman was the most successful driver at the nine-race meeting, steering the Arna Donnelly trained $2.40 favourite to win race three, and then two races later he drove the Fred Mitchell trained $13.20 seventh favourite Jack Bates to victory.
Eldolar was having his second start back for Donnelly in the $7,000 Life Members Maiden Pace after an eight month spell.
The Elsu gelding resumed at Cambridge Raceway on December 1 with a close-up second behind Taihape Sunset.
It was his first look at Manawatu Raceway and his first start over the 2000m.
“He’s still a bit green but he won very well. He’s got a lot to learn but should win at least a couple more. He felt real strong,” Marshall said.
Eldolar started from the widest second row draw (12) and Marshall worked the 4-year-old to sit in the lane the second last time.
In the home straight Eldolar left his nine opponents to it winning by an increasing three lengths and pacing the 2000m mobile in 2:34.2 (mile rate 2:04 even). His final 800m and 400m sectionals were 60.8 and 28.9.
It was his first career win in 16 starts and the way he cruised home it won’t be his last.
“I think he will be my best drive on Thursday. He’s got the feeling he will go on with it,” said Marshall.
Jack Bates (2) was also impressive winning the $7,000 Happy 80th Birthday George Mouldey Mobile for the up to R56 rated pacers.
Marshall settled the 8-year-old P Forty Seven gelding in the one-one before looming up three-wide on the turn and then pacing away to win by one-and-quarter lengths.
Jack Bates paced the 2500m mobile in 3:15.9 (mile rate 2:06.1) and home in 62.3 and 30.7.
It was Jack Bates’ third win in 49 starts on the track and his third from 32 attempts over the distance. All up he’s now won six of his 131 starts and just under $50,000 in stakes.
“He’s an honest little horse who is racing well. He got all the favours in the running and obliged. Fred had him spot on,” said Marshall.
Marshall has now driven eight winners from 79 starters this season. This is his first season in the open driving ranks and he’s now driven 81 winners from 952 starters. he’s also placed 165 times and won $571,619 in career stakes.
His best season was last year when he reined home 39 winners from 383 starters ($264,717).
Meanwhile Marshall said that competing in the recent Australasian Young Drivers Championship was the highlight of his career.
“When I first started out as a junior this was my main goal. It was always something I wanted to achieve and I was running out of time.
“I’m just grateful to all the owners and trainers who made it all possible for me on their horses in my last year as a junior (2015-2016),” Marshall said.
“I’m also grateful for all the drives I’m getting in New Zealand as well, and that includes Manawatu,” he added.