Underrated Bairnsdale jumper Marlo Man made an unplanned trip to Ballarat worthwhile for young trainer Jackson Pallot and jockey Lee Horner last Sunday, impressively taking out the $30,000 E-Cycle Solutions BM120 Steeplechase (3200m).
The free running Marlo Man ($11) confirmed his affinity for the Sportsbet-Ballarat steeplechase course (three wins from four attempts), leading clearly from start to finish and having five lengths to spare at race’s end over the Eric Musgrove-trained Transcript ($4.80) and Robert Smerdon- trained favourite Western Kingdom ($2.70).
Pallot was delighted with his stable star’s season return to the jumps.
“He’s one-dimensional on the flat,” he said. “He’s a dour stayer that boasts an impressive leap and races particularly well on these types of circuits.
“He needs the jumps in the straight (as at Pakenham and Ballarat). He’s a bit of a slug on the flat, so it makes it into a contest.
“Fitness-wise, I didn’t think he was far off, but I thought he might have been a bit rusty going in today.”
Sunday’s race wasn’t always on the radar, Pallot explained.
“It was our intention to trial over the fences at Sale on Wednesday but there were only three in it so we threw a nomination in here and we thought we’d be mad not to have a throw at the stumps.”
The eight-year-old son of Elvstroem will now be set for the $125,000 Australian Steeplechase (3400m) on May 27 at Ladbrokes Park.
Marlo Man’s main target in 2017 will be the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) on August 20 at Ballarat.
Last call for a legend
The voice of Gippsland racing, Peter Eustace, will retire on Sunday after an impressive career spanning 51 years behind the microphone. Eustace, who has called more than 50,000 races, will finish with greyhound meetings at Warragul (Thursday afternoon) and Sale (Sunday night), venues synonymous with his name.
The veteran caller began his career as a race caller in 1966, calling greyhound racing at Broadway Park in Ballarat.
Since moving to Gippsland in the early 1970s, Eustace has called all three racing codes at every race track in Gippsland on countless occasions. However, greyhound racing is undoubtedly his code of choice and passion.
Eustace was inducted into Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Hall of Fame in 2015, a fitting reward for his service to the industry as a race caller breeder/owner/trainer, secretary/grader, committeeman and promoter of everything good about the sport he loves.
He said at the time: “I love calling greyhounds because it keeps you on your toes.
With horse racing you can get into a pattern and call a good race, but with greyhounds — particularly short races — you have 18 seconds to call a race and it is really challenging.”
Eustace has his place in racing history, as only one of two callers to have called a triple dead head for first in Victoria since the installation of the photo finish camera.
That famous day at Stony Creek on January 23, 1987, when Chesterfield (Peter Clarke), Fast Seal (Graham McLeish) and Mr Spectre (Michael Barlow) crossed the line in unison, Eustace let out the cry, “Any one of the three!”
(The other triple dead heat was on Victoria Derby day 1956, when Fighting Force (Jack Purtell), Ark Royal (Reg Heather) and Pandie Sun (Bill Williamson) deadheaded in the Hotham Handicap.)
Eustace has also worked in local radio (at Sale’s 3TR — his reason for coming to the district), including stints as the breakfast host on ABC Gippsland and segments promoting local racing, chasing and pacing.
He has also written regular newspaper columns to promote Gippsland racing.
Fittingly, Eustace will put down his binoculars for the final time at his favourite track, Sale, where he counts more than Sale Cups among the highlights of an extensive career that has stood the greatest test, time!
Enjoy retirement, Pete.