By Geoff Newling
Stephen Gleeson’s luck could change in not one, but two, fell swoops at Quirindi on Friday. The Muswellbrook trainer chases a feature double when Don’t Tease Me and Pippi’s Pride run in the $30,000 Quirindi RSL Club Lightning Handicap (1100m) and $40,000 Akubra Quirindi Cup (1600m).
Five-year-old gelding Don’t Tease Me has drawn an outside gate (14) while six-year-old gelding, Pippi’s Pride, has drawn ideally in barrier four. Both are sons of Beautiful Crown and both will be ridden by regular jockey Leanne Henry, who rode them at their last starts at Walcha here Don’t Tease Me was a gallant second to Hot Hit in the inaugural Walcha Lightning while Pippi’s Pride was unplaced in the Walcha Cup behind Hunter Jack.
Don’t Tease Me is drawn well in 14, Stephen Gleeson said: “It’s a bit tricky for him,” Stephen said of the barrier draws. He doesn’t like to be cluttered away and likes to get going out wide where he can get across quickly. He’s an on-pace horse and raced well at Walcha, couldn’t have asked for much more.
"He never does a lot first up normally and always takes a run or two but needed that run at Walcha and done a lot better for it. But this is a real tough race. Watching it last year there were only two or three real chances. This year it’s a big field with a lot of depth and a lot of speed. It’s going to be very competitive. And it’s going to be a great race to watch.”
Earlier this week Gleeson was at track work and impressed when he watched “one fly” before asking Leanne Henry which horse it was.
“Alart” was her reply of a Pat Farrell mare, who is topweight for Friday’s Lightning. “Gee she will be hard to beat if she brings that to Quirindi,” Stephen said of the mare’s trackwork gallop.
Any one of the 14 can win in one of the most open and even sprint races seen in the HNWRA for a long while: “It’s going to be a great race to watch,” Stephen Gleeson added.
If Don’t Tease Me does win the Lightning then it will make the Akubra Quirindi Cup even more special for Gleeson. Pippi’s Pride has been a wonderful little horse to him, wife Erin, Newcastle Mater Hospital nurses Brad Roach and Ann Waters (retired) and local electrician Brad Yager.
“We’ve had him since day one,” Stephen Gleeson said. “He’s a first horse for Brad (Roach) and Ann. And been so honest. Hasn’t won a race for two years though but always tries.”
Pippi’s Pride has won seven of his 41 starts with 11 placings and $116,800 in prizemoney. He was third to Egyptian Ruler and Kurtley in last year’s Quirindi Cup and like most of Steve’s horses has been racing with no luck of late.
“He’s racing well but just can’t convert them into a win. He’s got a good win in him too but I made the mistake of telling Leanne to have a bit closer than normal at Walcha. He got caught wide and then got flushed out earlier than we hoped.”
While he hasn’t won since Leanne Henry’s masterful ride at Dubbo on December 14, 2015 he has come close finishing second to Pro Consul in last year’s Walcha Cup, just missing when a narrow second in the Gilgandra Cup and also running a third in the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook.