Sport

Harris Racing kicks into gear at Benalla

By Benalla Ensign

Kane Harris Racing has kicked into gear this season after fielding just two winners in 2018/19.

And his stable’s performance at last week’s Benalla races lifted him to five wins – and counting – for the current season.

The Somerville-based trainer took only two horses to the meeting, in the first and second on the card, and barely 30 minutes after racing started he was packing up and heading home with a perfect two for two from his beautifully bred Fastnet Rock progeny – both breaking their maidens.

In the first race nothing went to plan, but it didn’t matter as pilot Jarrod Fry got the horse to the lead very quickly in the $35 000 Euroa Cup March 15 maiden plate over 1206m.

Sent out at 10/1, Harris said it was his plan for Heavenly Bodied to get some cover midfield before making a charge in the straight.

Instead the three-year-old filly flew out of the gate and kept right on going.

“I was going to start by saying it’s nice when a plan works out as we had thought, but when Heavenley Bodied pulled herself into the lead not long after jumping the plan of riding her quietly went out the window,” Harris laughed.

“Thankfully Jarrod Fry knew exactly what he was doing and rated the filly to perfection, leading from start to finish,” he said.

“It’s interesting to note she ran an extremely quick time in relation to the other 1200m races on the card, running a second quicker than the next best.”

Harris said it had also been pleasing to see the filly dig in and fight when the second horse came up on her outside over the final furlong.

Celebration: Heavenly Bodied ridden by Jarrod Fry returns to the mounting yard after winning in Benalla.

At that point she found an extra gear for Fry and was pulling away again as she crossed the line for a comfortable one-length victory.

“She still has plenty to learn and will get better as she steps out in trip, so the future looks bright for her and her owners, who have every right to be excited,” Harris added.

Fry said the horse was even a little bit fresh going around to the start.

“She began well and once we were running she wasn’t going to be really happy until got there, so I let her go,” he said.

“In the straight when she had to respond and I asked for an effort she really got it going.

“This is a horse with a lot of ability and once her distances stretch out in the future I think she will show a lot more.”

As happy as he was with the win, it was The Protagonist Harris thought would be his best bet on the day.

An odds-on favourite in the early betting for the $35 000 Living Here Benalla Plate over 1206m Harris made no secret of his opinions of the four-year-old stallion’s chances.

But a throwaway line to racing.com as the horses headed out of the mounting yard about The Protagonist’s knee problems saw his price drift from $1.50 to $2 in the last minutes before the field jumped.

Fine filly: The Protagonist ridden by Daniel Stackhouse.

He said The Protagonist had always shown above-average ability.

"It’s just a shame his legs are a bit of a train wreck,” Harris said.

“We have taken a new approach to training the horse, freshened him up and brought him back 100m in distance.

“And got what was a truly satisfying result.

“Off a moderate tempo Daniel Stackhouse put the big bull into the perfect spot, one out and one back, enabling him to have clear running throughout.

“Once he successfully navigated the home turn The Protagonist always looked the winner in the straight, putting his rivals away quickly and crossing the line for a soft win.

“If we can keep him relatively sound then there are plenty more wins in store for him.”

Stackhouse said The Protagonist was a big horse who “feels his knees a little bit”.

“He jumped well and I put him in a positive position and he felt really nice. But you still have to build him through the gears as he doesn’t have a quick turn of foot,” Stackhouse said.

“When he hit the front he had a little stargaze, but he still won nicely.

“Once he warmed up he felt the goods despite that trouble – and once he got going he gave me a really good run.”