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Meeska Mooska has his connections smiling again 3 Nov 2017

   There was a huge sigh of relief from the connections of Meeska Mooska, including Waipukurau couple Iain and Eva Gollan, when the seven-year-old returned to the winner’s stall with an emphatic fresh up win at Ellerslie last Saturday.

   The El Hermano gelding was the rank outsider in a six horse field for the $35,000 J&R Contracting Open (1400m) but proved a class above his rivals, scoring by 2-1/2 lengths.

   It was Meeska Mooska’s seventh win from only 23 starts but his first since he chalked up four wins in a row between April and August last year. It was soon after the fourth of those victories, in an Open 1600m race at Hastings, that the horse was found to be suffering from an eye ulcer that threatened to end his racing career.

   Iain Gollan, who is a part-owner in the horse along with his wife Eva, said this week it was a fungal infection which was causing a gradual deterioration of the eye.

   “He had to have a major eye operation and we were so relieved that he didn’t lose his eye,” Gollan said.

   Meeska Mooska was back racing in March of this year but, after three well beaten performances, it was decided to give him another good spell.

   “He just wasn’t right and was probably still feeling the effects of the operation,” Gollan said.

   The horse resumed work again at the beginning of this season and finished third in an 1150-metre Te Awamutu trial on October 19 as a lead up to his successful return last Saturday.

   “The 1400 metres of last Saturday’s race has never really been his go but the track deteriorated a bit and that obviously helped him as it slowed some of the others down,” Gollan said.

   Last Saturday’s win was also a significant one for Meeska Mooska’s Cambridge trainers Graham Thomas and Mathew Gillies as it was their first success together. Thomas had formerly trained in partnership with Nick Smith while Gillies is a former top hurdle jockey.

   The pair joined forces several months ago and Gillies has played a hand in many of the stable’s wins since then, including the $50,000 Interprovincial Challenge with the stakes-winning mare Mangaroa Flo Jo. But last Saturday’s win was his first as an officially licensed trainer.

   “We’ve had a few winners over the last few months, but it just took a little while for my training licence to come through,” he said. “It’s nice to pick up our first winner as an official partnership.

   “It’s good for the horse as well – he’s a talented horse with a lot to look forward to. On how he was looking I thought he was a chance, and he’d been working well. But he’d never won over 1400 metres, so the stats were against him.”

   The Gollans race Meeska Mooska in partnership with their Cambridge-based son Robert and his wife Kirsten as well as Auckland couple Vaughan and Kate Mace and the horse’s Waikato breeder Leigh Phillips.

   The horse’s eye problem is not the only setback the horse has had to overcome. He is out of the Vyner’s Orb mare Kirkebi, who died just minutes after foaling him and Robert and Kirsten Gollan had to bottle feed the colt for a week, to keep it alive until a foster mother could be found.

   Meeska Mooska was nicknamed “Mickey” from an early age and gets his name from the Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse, whose club house is called Meeska Mooska.


Pissaro carries HB hopes in Derby

   There will be strong Hawke’s Bay interest in tomorrow’s Group 1 $A1.5million AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington with Pissaro, bred and part-owned by Waipukurau’s Mick Ormond, among the contenders.

   The three-year-old Pierro colt is a $23.00 outsider for the 2500-metre event but is certainly not without a chance of getting some of the money after a fourth placing in last Saturday’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m).

   That was the colt’s eighth start and followed a maiden win over 1600m at Adelaide’s Morphettville track on September 30 and then a luckless sixth over 1800m on the same track on October 14.

   Pissaro is trained at Cranbourne by Robbie Laing and will be ridden by experienced jockey Noel Callow. He is certainly bred to be a good stayer as he is out of the Galileo mare Sirani and his grandam was Sneetch, who finished third in a Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).

   Ormond raced Sirani from the stable of John Sargent, when he was based in New Zealand, and she won three races from only 11 starts. Her three victories were at 2100m, 2200m and 2400m.

   Ormond was at the Moonee Valley track to watch Pissaro finish fourth behind Aloisha, Cliff’s Edge and Salsamor last Saturday and will be on a flight back to Melbourne today to cheer the horse home again in tomorrow’s big race.


Ellerslie race for Wait A Sec

   New Zealand Cup plans for star Hastings galloper Wait A Sec have been scrapped and the horse will instead contest next Tuesday’s Group 3 $70,000 OMF Stakes at Auckland before having a well deserved break.

   The 2000m Ellerslie race is run under weight-for-age conditions and will give the horse valuable experience racing on the right-handed track with plans to aim him for the Group 1 $500,000 Auckland Cup (3200m) there in March next year.

   The Postponed seven-year-old has thrived since his outstanding win in the Group 1 $250,000 Livamol Classic at Hastings on October 22 but that victory meant that he would now get too much weight in the New Zealand Cup (3200m) whereas he will carry the same weight next Tuesday as he had when winning the Livamol.

   Wait A Sec is trained by Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and is the winner of 11 races, seven of those victories coming from his last nine starts. He has amassed more than $330,000 in stake earnings for his Hastings owner-breeder Ian Henderson and his Perth-based son Paul.

   There will still be Hawke’s Bay interest in the $250,000 New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on November 18 with Locally Sauced, part-owned by Hastings woman Irene Downey and her son Josh, expected to take his place in the Group 3 event.

    Locally Sauced is trained by the Waiuku husband and wife team of Grant and Tana Shaw and they have had the New Zealand Cup in mind for the horse since the beginning of this year. The six-year-old Iffraaj gelding confirmed those Cup plans with a game last start win over 2100m at Ashburton on October 21.

   The Shaws have had Locally Sauced based in the South Island for several months and he has recorded three wins and two thirds from his last five starts. He is expected to contest the $75,000 Metropolitan Trophy Handicap (2500m) at Riccarton tomorrow week as a final lead up to the New Zealand Cup.


Next HB races

   Hawke’s Bay racegoers will be able to enjoy another family day of racing at the Hastings recourse on Sunday, November 12.

   An eight-race programme is scheduled for what will be the first “Christmas at the Races” meeting in the district this year.

   The first race is timed for 1.25pm and the last at 5.30pm.

   There will be a $10 gate charge with free admission for anyone under 18 years old and tickets to the members stand can be purchased at a cost of $30 each.


Jon Snow the Kiwi hope

   The wide open spaces of the Flemington track will be a major plus for New Zealand hope Jon Snow in next Tuesday’s A$6.2 million Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).

   “The main thing for him is getting away from Caulfield and on to a bigger track will really suit him,” said Andrew Forsman, who trains the four-year-old with Murray Baker.

   Jon Snow finished third two runs back in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) before he suffered interference when unplaced in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

   “He’s doing well and he had a good gallop this week and his rider Stephen Baster is happy that the horse is on target,” Forsman said.

   Meanwhile Jon Snow’s stablemates Bonneval and Lizzie L’Amour were flown back to New Zealand on Wednesday and both horses are expected to be given a break now before being aimed at races in the autumn of next year.

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