FREEDOM Is made the seven- hour trip to Tamworth from Forbes look easy when she cruised to victory in yesterday’s re-constituted $7500 TAB Rewards North West Oaks (1980m).
Tamworth Harness Racing Club had not raced an Oaks for some 20 years until yesterday and club chairman Terry Browne had the delight of handing over the winner’s trophy to Forbes trainer Phil Thurston.
Hunter Valley trainer-driver Michael Formosa, who had won the previous race with Lifesa Ranger, drove the three-year-old filly, sitting in the death and then surging to a 3.5m win from Gerard Osborn’s Gee Tee Wage.
“She’s a beautiful little filly,” said Thurston, a retired primary school teacher and head master.
“We bought her in New Zealand as a yearling and broke her in.
“She didn’t win in her first 12 or 13 starts but was running places against some good Group 1 two-year-olds.
“She also had to travel up here seven hours today. You never know how that’s going to affect them either.”
While he and his wife are headed north for a Queensland holiday, Freedom Is will be racing.
Last year she almost won the Seymour 2YO, a feature race at Albion Park.
That paid their way.
This year the Thurstons are going back to try to win the three-year-old version of the Seymour.
That race is May 13.
While Freedom Is won the NW Oaks, Bathurst gelding Haka Shannon raced away with the $7500 Johns Auto Service North West Derby (1980m).
While the filly had run a mile rate of 2:03, Haka Shannon went considerably quicker, rating 2:00.7 in registering his 10th career win for Bathurst trainer Peter Bullock.
The former Tamworth trainer had plenty to celebrate too, as he also prepared the runner-up, Smack Dab Shannon.
Haka Shannon had sat in the death seat outside leader Kemira Cause too.
“That’s the way he likes to race,” Bullock said.
“He can do it tough and felt good tonight.”
While he quinellaed the race, Queensland trainers Lola and Julie Weidemann finished with a winning double at the meeting, victorious with Dancing Cam and then Well Caught Marsh, which paid a huge $45 on the NSW TAB.