By Tony Megahey
Unprecedented strife and stress for Joe Cleary delayed the TAB Highway introduction of flying mare Katie Did It who continues the long and profitable association for the Queanbeyan trainer and entrepreneur Gerry Harvey at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Of course the Harvey bred four-year–old is named after Gerry’s partner Katie Page, another corporate prime mover, and the massive incentive for punters is James McDonald originally committed to the power players.
However when McDonald couldn’t make an unexpected 53kg for Katie Did It into a $75,000 Class 3, 1500m, Joe’s stable rider Jess Taylor was retained.
When Katie Did It, formerly trained by John Sargent, won successive races by a combined 12 lengths at Queanbeyan, Joe couldn’t get to a Highway quick enough.
“We had some dramas, had to scratch her previously because of the fires and road closures,'' Cleary said.
"No telling when we could have got home even if we got through to Sydney because all the roads south closed that afternoon. It was just too risky.
“She was also trapped for four days at Moruya through the fires with a team of Matty Dale’s when those meetings on the south coast had to be abandoned.
“Eventually we managed to get through with a four truck convoy and bring them home. But real scary I can tell you.
“Never experienced conditions like it, the heat and smoke haze. A load of horses on the road in those conditions. The heat haze and some fires still visible.
“Country racing people have never experienced anything like it on top of the drought.”
When meetings at Moruya, Sapphire Coast, Nowra and in the Riverina were abandoned, Racing NSW put together vital compensation packages.
“Thing is we’re blessed not to have lost any horses or property when people have lost everything,” he said.
Joe is relieved to finally get the mare to Sydney in spectacular form and weighted to win.
“I didn’t anticipate she’d get in on the limit when we booked JMac but he can’t ride that light. But no negative. Jess relates to the mare, has won on her and rides regular work,'' he said.
“And never been sweeter with the boss. From the last six I’ve sent around for Gerry, five have won and this mare is racing out of her skin.
“The margins she’s put on them unextended, you’d even be thinking Country Championships.”
Katie Did It has thrived in the country after performing moderately for Sargent and she took it to the next level with a spectacular double at Queanbeyan.
“We’ll know a lot more Saturday, up in grade,” Joe adds.
Katie Did It wins at Queanbeyan on December 12
“But she came here from ‘Sarge’ in good order, I think the new environment saw the penny drop and the way she’s been winning is telling us better races.”
The 53kg is a luxury considering she carried 59kg and 57kg before a claim, winning at home.
Those wide margins and sectionals combined with the limit weight has Katie appealing for punters. She’d have been a shorter with McDonald, but likely hasn’t lost any admirers through the proven combination with Taylor.
“The way she’s put them away at 1600m and 1400m I doubt on the limit anything can give her weight and be stronger at 1500m,'' he said.
“We’d accepted for that 1300m previously so the timing is ideal out in distance off an easily kill.”
Completing a compelling form balance Katie Did It races on pace.
Last start she rolled in the lead and accelerated brilliantly to win by six lengths over 1460m carrying 56kg for rising Irish apprentice Ellen Hennessy.
She won just as spectacularly on pace with 57kg for Taylor. She shares favouritism in an open betting market and capacity field.