Tamworth harness racing: Sam Ison has afternoon to savour at Tamworth Paceway

DYNAMIC DUO: Bassey and Sam Ison head to the finish line at Tamworth. Photo: PeterMac Photography
DYNAMIC DUO: Bassey and Sam Ison head to the finish line at Tamworth. Photo: PeterMac Photography

Tamworth reinsman Sam Ison wrapped up the last two events at the Tamworth harness meeting on Thursday afternoon in fine style.

Ison drove Nice One Jon, which secured back-to-back wins for trainer Brendan James, before stepping out in the following event to drive Bassey, whom he trains himself, for a win.

The driving double was a first for Sam Ison.

Nice One Jon settled into the perfect racing position of the one-by-one in the Portable Horse Stables Tamworth Pace after commencing from the five barrier.

“We got in a nice spot. I think his sprint home today was better than in his win last week,” Ison said. “He is still getting better each run.

“The horse has well and truly paid for himself now. I thought he could do it – he has got a good sprint.”

With Qunicy Storm (Paul Grima) leading the field and Sir Cracker (Maddison Simon) racing out in the breeze, Ison waited until the final turn to place in a three-wide run. “Half way around the corner I felt confident,” Ison said.

“Brendan [James] had a couple of years off from training and now he has settled right back into it.”

KILLER BLOW: Shadow Boxing, with Dean Chapple in the gig, powers to victory. Photo: PeterMac Photography

KILLER BLOW: Shadow Boxing, with Dean Chapple in the gig, powers to victory. Photo: PeterMac Photography

James, who races Nice One Jon along with his partner and chief stable worker Emily Wilkin, was trackside to see Ison guide the gelding to a five-metre win over last-start winner Seven Rippin Aces (Jamie Donovan), with Quincy Storm a head away in third.

“I had 12 months off and got straight back into it,” James said after the win. “Sam was pestering me to get another horse and I brought one but I ended up sending her down to Dad and my boss said take this bloke [Good One Jon] and give him a go.”

James is a tiler at Glenn Simpson at Kudos Tiling, with Simpson and his family also having a long and successful connection to harness racing. James has now produced two wins from three starts with Nice One Jon. 

Ison then stepped out in the following race – the 88.9FM Tamworth Pace - with Bassey, who set the task for the field after gaining the lead from the two barrier.

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“I was confident of finding the lead but she [Bassey] can pull so I wasn’t that confident as to how slow we would go out in the lead,” Ison said.

“She is big and tough and can run a bit but my fingers are starting to hurt with all the pulling she does. “That’s my first driving double.” 

Bassey notched her sixth career win – all in this racing season – for owners Rod and Di Hazell.

Meanwhile, Shadow Boxing landed the final punch to his opposition in taking out the Psarakis Accounting Marathon Thursday Next 16th August Pace.

The well-named three-year-old Shadow Play-Eowyn gelding broke through for his first race win, which gave Tamworth trainer Tony Missen a sense of relief.

“I was starting to get a little dismayed,” Missen said. “He has been knocking on the door for so long but he has been his own worst enemy at times. He ran along better today [Thursday].”

Shadow Boxing is raced by Greg McDonell with his wife Judy and close family friend Bob Peterson, and scored the win at race start 18 – although he had been paying his way with three seconds and two thirds before the win.

“It was a most impressive win,” Missen said. “I was worried with the horse down on the track and I thought ‘Here goes a no race’ but they all did a good job – the clerks of the course and the attendants.”

Missen was speaking of Star Of Wonder, who blundered and fell as the barrier pulled away with both pacer and reinsman Cameron Davies hitting the track. They were removed from the paceway with no injuries, as the race continued.

“He pulls really hard,” said Chapple of Shadow Boxing. “This week he settled a bit out in front but when he saw the horse that had fallen he braced a bit and settled even more. That saved us a little bit – but he was always going to win.”

Shadow Boxing had a 5.2m win over Somewhere Special (Sam Ison), with Mary Todd Shannon (Mitch Faulkner) six metres away in third.

Chapple had appeared in the winner’s circle in the opening event – the TAB Maiden Pace – when he piloted Capital Cullect to an all-the-way win for the Peter Shepherdson stables.

It was also the first career win for Capital Cullect at race start 21.

“I was confident when Chris Shepherdson asked me to take the drive. I just couldn’t believe that she has not won a race before,” Chapple of Capital Cullect.

“I have always had an opinion of the mare. I have seen her put in some tremendous trial runs.”

“I was pretty happy to be driving her. She did a few things wrong in the home straight and she only just fell in.

“It was like halfway down the home straight [that] she didn’t want to win. But I balanced her up and that cost us by winning by another half a length.”

After leading all the way, Capital Cullect held on for a neck win over Roll With Tricky (Sam Ison) who was making the most of each stride down the home straight. Saint Breeny (Tony Missen) was a further 2.2m away in third.

“That is my first drive for the Shepherdson stables,” Chapple said.

The first two races gave Chapple a driving double for the day while Shepherdson had a training double when Kid Montana won the Garrard’s Horse and Hound Pace, with Brad Elder in the gig.

Elder then went on to also have a driving double when he drove Dashing Hannah to an 11m win in the Johns Auto Pace for trainer Greg Coney.