HARNESS RACING has been the life of Bronte Giorgio for nearly 50 years.
Yet it took the quaintly-named Bubbles And Cheese to finally deliver a Group win.
Bred and owned by Bob and Zita Maloney from Glencoe in the south-east of South Australia, Bubbles And Cheese ($4.90) led throughout to win the Group 3 Alabar Two-Year-Old Golden Nursery (1800m) at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night, scoring by a metre from Strongnbold ($3.60) with Disclosure ($25.30), three metres away third.
The drama didn’t end when the field passed the line because Jake Webster, who drove Strongnbold, asked the look at the video of the finish, then lodged a protest alleging interference over the final stages that the winner came out and hindered his chance of victory.
After a thorough steward’s hearing, the objection was dismissed.
Giorgio, 65, has been a Globe Derby Park stalwart since the track opened in the 1970s. He has been a successful trainer-driver and also spent some time on the SA Harness Racing Club committee.
“I’ve had more than 20,000 drives and driven 1200 winners, but Bubbles And Cheese is my first group winner,” Giorgio said.
Giorgio’s decision early this year to basically stand down from driving provided an opportunity for talented young reinsman Michael Smith to also score his biggest win in the sport.
Smith is from a family steeped in harness racing.
His great grandfather Frank trained and drove the legendary Minor Derby, his grandfather Alan had great success and is the equal oldest driver to win at a TAB meeting having won two races while aged 81 while his father David has been a successful trainer-driver for many years.
Michael Smith is currently forging his own path in the sport, basically as a driver, and currently sits sixth on the SA Drivers premiership with 29 winners.
He started driving about 10 years ago and figured on the Young Drivers table in his early days but has made the state’s top 10 for the past four seasons with a career-best tally of 45 winners in a season.
“I was a bit nervous before the start because I felt Bubbles And Cheese had a great chance,” Smith said.
“Last week in the no-race, she was a bit rough in her gear in the score-up but still was able to lead. This week, she was a lot better and was able to lead comfortably.
“Strongnbold sat outside her and Jake (Webster) kept the pressure on but my filly was one-paced and was always going to be hard to beat.”
Early in her career, Bubbles And Cheese was trained by Bob Maloney but with the Golden Nursery as her goal, he decided to leave her with Bronte Giorgio rather than keep floating her from the South-East.
However, he took the filly home after Saturday to give her a bit of a break at home before putting her back into work with the Southern Cross as a target.
While the winner takes the prize, runner-up Strongnbold, also trained in the South-East by Desmond Glynn, was courageous in defeat.
Strongnbold sat parked throughout in a rating of 1:58.8 and fought on strongly with an excellent run.
Glynn said the gelding would be given a week off before also being prepared for the Southern Cross.
There were a number of good runs from the beaten brigade, but nothing could be taken away from the winner.