Oakbank’s newest Easter carnival race, the Whoflungdung Battler’s Bolt, fits perfectly within the meeting’s “something for everyone” ethos.
That’s the opinion of both local trainer Kirsten Mooney, who bought a horse especially for Saturday’s inaugural running of the 1400m maiden race, and Oakbank Racing Club CEO Shane Collins.
“We thought it was a really good concept and we always support the idea of having something different at Oakbank,” said Mooney, who will saddle up stable newcomer Gimme A Reason, a veteran of 10 starts in Victoria.
“This give those sort of horses that are probably struggling to win a maiden a bit of a chance and it also gives country trainers a race to target on a city day.
“Once maidens have had a handful of starts, some of the bigger stables might move them on… so this race gives those horses a chance to run for a city stake.”
The race is Collins’ brainchild, and follows the success of a similar pop-up race hosted by the Ballarat Racing Club each spring, known as The Hotham.
Collins has a long-held affection for the Oakbank Easter carnival and believes the Battler’s Bolt is a logical addition to the program.
“The great thing about Oakbank is there’s a race for everyone and the uniqueness of the Oakbank carnival is that it has always brought horses from all over the state,” he said.
“People would bring a hurdler from the country, and they’d throw another horse in the float to run in the country cup, or the Onkaparinga Cup.
“So I thought ‘Let’s give the battlers an opportunity to be part of our big day’.”
Opposite to regular maidens, horses with the most starts top the ballot for the Battler’s Bolt, which has a purse of $37,250. Collins said the feature maiden complements the existing program.
“Rather than have a normal benchmark 58, why not put on something different?” he said.
“The feedback I’ve had has been really positive. I had people emailing me saying they had a horse for the Battler’s Bolt and they’re really excited that they’re going to have a runner at the carnival on the Saturday.”
Mooney is among those enthused by the concept, hence the purchase of Gimme A Reason, which has drawn gate one and will be ridden by Jason Holder.
“It’s our home track, but we didn’t have a horse that was suitable for the race…” she said.
“So we thought why not buy one, for probably not much money, and have a bit of fun.
“And it turns out we’re really happy with our purchase.
“We were looking for a horse that had about 10 starts, one that had won not too much prizemoney, but had some ability, and a horse that had run a couple of placings around that 1400m mark.
“So we had some really strict criteria to meet and he ticked all the boxes.”
Mooney and Collins both say the race is likely to help attract more owners to the industry, via a chance to be involved in an inexpensive horse. Mooney said she was planning to syndicate Gimme A Reason, “but then we liked him too much”.
The Battler’s Bolt is race two on Saturday’s carnival-ending nine-race card at Oakbank.
IMAGE: Oakbank trainer Kirsten Mooney aboard stable newcomer Gimme A Reason, who will contest the inaugural Battler’s Bolt at Oakbank on Saturday.