SHANE Young is heading from Pinjarra to Menangle to chase a dream with the best pacer he’s trained.
Young, who turns 60 next month, is hoping his mighty mare Wonderful To Fly will give him a belated but fairytale birthday present in the world’s richest harness race, the $2.1mil TAB Eureka at Menangle on September 2.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” he said. “Just the thought of being part of such a race, especially the first running of it, it’s amazing.”
“I’m putting a bit on the line to try and live the dream. We’ll miss a $50,000 mares’ race here (Perth) and there’s no guarantee we’ll get a flight home, we may have to road trip her back.”
“But I’ve been in the game a long time, as a driver, then pre-trainer and now trainer and I think I know a good horse when I see one. And she’s good, very good.”
“I’ve had some nice horses along the way, but she amazes me because she’s so much better than anything I’ve had before.”
What makes Young’s trip so daring is that Wonderful To Fly is far from guaranteed a TAB Eureka berth.
So, he’s coming early to try and catch the eye of colourful entrepreneur John Singleton, who has one of the few remaining slots in the TAB Eureka.
Singleton, in his trademark quicky way, has worked with Club Menangle to create a race called “The Singo” which he will use to select his TAB Eureka slot runner. And it won’t necessarily be the winner.
“When they first announced the TAB Eureka I thought about it with my mare, but now we’re close and considering how many slots are gone, my only hope of getting in looks to be through the ‘Singo’, so we’re heading across to give it a crack. She deserves that chance,” Young said.
Wonderful To Fly, who boasts 27 wins from just 43 placings and $541,915 in earnings, will have her final lead-up race at Gloucester Park next Friday night (August 4).
“There are plenty of flights from Perth to Melbourne, so I think she’ll fly over on Wednesday (August 9) or Thursday (August 10),” he said.
“She’ll be very close to full wound-up for next week’s race, so when you include the travel, she won’t need to do a whole lot ahead of The Singo.
“I’ve known Chris Alford a long time so I’m going to stay at his place in Victoria and then head-up to Menangle a day or two before the race.
“I’m a bit apprehensive because I’ve never travelled a horse before, but I’m sure Chris will be a great help.”
Young expects Wonderful To Fly to be extremely competitive if she produces her best form in The Singo.
“I wouldn’t be going otherwise. If I think she deserves a chance in the Eureka, then she’s got to give The Singo a big shake,” he said.
“If she wins or runs really in The Singo, she’d be an attractive option for John Singleton to take because she follows speed so well and she’ll get a preferential draw as, most likely, the only mare in the Eureka.”
If all else fails, part of the Singleton “package” around the TAB Eureka is a $100,000 consolation race which Wonderful To Fly would be eligible for on Eureka night.
“It’s good to know that’s there as a back-up, but we’re obviously hoping to get into the big one. That’s why we’re going over,” Young said.
After the TAB Eureka, it’s back home to Perth where Young said there was a plethora of feature races for Wonderful To Fly before the end of the year.
“There sure is. Races like the Norms Daughter and Mares’ Classic as well as the Golden Nugget and 4YO Classic,” he said.
“We wouldn’t go into the WA Pacing Cup (November), but could look at a race like the Nullarbor early next year.”