“IT’S Grand Final night and we have to hold” were the words of Tamworth horseman Tom Ison before the start of the $100,000 TAB Regional Championship Final – Hunter.
And hold with Metallica Man is just what Ison did on his way to victory at the Newcastle Paceway last Friday night.
“I thought we were a big chance,” Ison said. “The race played out really well for us especially with the barrier draw.”
After leading from barrier three, Metallica Man received some midrace pressure from Man From Braavos but proved up to the task, scoring by a head from Man From Braavos.
In a close finish, Jasper Styles was a half neck away third
“Man From Braavos was my main danger and he had to do a lot of work in the race,” Ison said. “We made him work to get outside of us.
“We got going at the 500-metre mark and the back markers couldn’t get into the race.
“The draw sorted the field out and when I drew better than the rest of them, I thought it was our chance.”
Rating 1:57.5 over 2030 metres, the son of Tintin In America took his record to 10 wins and five placings from 33 starts for earnings of $105,258 for owners by Brendan Hunt and partner Lyndal Saunders.
“I was unsure if we had won so I turned to Luke (McCarthy) and he said ‘you got it’” Ison said. “I was pretty relieved – it’s been a long two weeks just waiting for the Final.
“I think it is a pretty special win – it just proves that Tamworth horses can do it.”
Heats were contested with a mixture of North West and Hunter-based pacers.
“It was a great Final,” Ison said. “There were four horses from Tamworth which contested the heats – two made the Consolation and two were in the Final.”
With the series being contested for the past three years, 2023 was the first time a north west representative has claimed victory.
“It’s a great race and country horses are given a chance to chase that sort of prizemoney,” Ison said. “Brendan had the whole family there and they just loved it.
“Everyone wants to win a race like that and it was congratulations everywhere.”
Taking out his trainer’s licence in 2021, Ison has notched 22 win and 22 placings from 87 starts…that’s an 87 per cent strike rate!
With 20 horses in work Ison is also looking to the future
“I will just keep on keeping on – it is back to Newcastle to race again on Monday,” Ison said.
Metallica Man will now contest the $100,000 TAB Regional Championship State Final at Menangle on Saturday night, where the gelding will compete against others from Finals contested at Wagga, Bathurst and Menangle.
- JULIE MAUGHAN