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Luck of the Irish

Monday, 19th March, 2012

IN THE STRAIGHT: Lotto Blues, on the outside, fighting it out with St Ives in the feature event. IN THE STRAIGHT: Lotto Blues, on the outside, fighting it out with St Ives in the feature event.

By Kurtis Eichler

St Patrick’s Day was made even more special for Irish-born jockey Tara O’Donnell who rode Lotto Blues to victory in the Races Clubs NSW and Keno Outback Cup at the St Pat’s race meeting on Saturday.

It was the apprentice jockey’s second win in her relatively short career with trainer Kym Healy.

The 10-year-old gelding beat a field of nine other top horses to score from St Ives in a tight finish.

Ms O’Donnell rode Lotto Blues in the Kangaroo Island Cup only three weeks ago and said on that occasion she had to work hard.

“He’s an old horse and he’s cunning,” she said.

“I rode him and he finished second in the cup on the Sunday so I knew I really had to ride hard from the 800.”

She said her instructions from trainer Healy were straightforward.

“My instructions were keep him third or fourth and I just tracked the horse along the rail and the horse in front as well.”

Ms O’Donnell was in Broken Hill last year as a strapper when the meeting was rained out and said she was very pleased to have been able to come back.

“This is my territory here,” said the Tipperary-born hoop.

Mr Healy said Lotto Blues had missed out on several runs recently due to all the wet weather and it was great for the old horse to get a run and a win.

“It was nice to get him up, the poor old bugger,” he said moments after snaring the win.

Lotto Blues, whose career winnings total $122,830, was 16-1 with the local bookmakers but the trainer gave him every chance.

“He’s a pretty tough sort of horse,” he said.

“I know he loves the dirt and he missed out on a run on Wednesday because we had rain and hail at Strathalbyn and he was supposed to go around so he missed that.

“Poor old bugger, he’s missed about eight meetings in the last two years just with rain.

“I know this bloke just loves the dirt and he grows an extra leg and when I seen him sitting fourth I was pretty confident on the turn that he’d finish off well.

“He’s got pretty good form on the dirt.”

Several hours after leaving for the races on Friday morning, Mr Healy was receiving calls from people worried about the amount of water on the track.

He said her was thinking about turning back but was very glad he didn’t.

The trainer’s other hope, Eight Red, ran eighth in the same race, while his Another Emma came sixth in the All Seasons Hotel Maiden Plate.

Mr Healy’s relationship with Ms O’Donnell started when they met at the Melbourne Cup and she was soon racing camels for him before moving onto picnic horses.

“I was bored at Christmas,” she said. “It was like minus ten and I said ‘I’m going to Australia’. Kym at that stage had got his trainer’s licence.”

To celebrate the win, she planned to sink her teeth into a “nice t-bone steak” while she thought of her parents back home in Ireland drinking Guinness at the pub.

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