Bargain buy provides a dream result in $100,000 feature

'Ted' Saunders and family at Newcastle last Friday night.

'Ted' Saunders and family at Newcastle last Friday night.

Winning a $100,000 feature in harness racing is a dream many go a lifetime without.

But for first-time owner ‘Ted’ Saunders that magical result has happened with the first and only horse he owns.

The machine operator at Killara Feedlot did not know much about harness racing until his daughter’s partner Brendan Hunt said that he should buy one.

Enter stage left, the unassuming chestnut horse Metallica Man.

Advertised for sale at a low bargain price, Hunt snapped up the pacer on behalf of Ted and the family. Metallica Man has now won four races for his new connections including last Friday night’s $100,000 TAB Regional Championships Hunter Final at Newcastle.

This has now earned the pacer a ticket to the $100,000 TAB Regional Championships State Final at Menangle this Saturday night.

“It’s a very special win . . . this is the first horse I’ve ever owned,” said Saunders.

“My son-in-law asked me and my wife if we wanted to go into this horse and we said yes as he wasn’t too expensive.

“We are very excited with the journey we’ve already been on and the last couple of wins are just starting to sink in.”

Having been based at Caroona, an Aboriginal reserve known as Walhallow, all his life, Saunders will make the rare five-hour car trip to Menangle this weekend to watch his horse race in the lucrative State Final where Metallica Man has drawn barrier one.

This marks a very special moment for Hunt too, despite being involved in harness racing for most of his life, this is only his second starter at Menangle.

“Just to be there and have a runner in at Menangle is surreal,” said the 35-year-old.

“I’ve only raced one horse there before in the Country series and didn’t have much luck, so if we run top four this weekend, we’ll be over the moon.”

Hunt has dabbled with training and driving horses over the years, however, has had to relinquish this aspect due to the growth of his signwriting business.

“I’ve grown up in the sport . . . my pop Ray Oates obtained his licence in the ‘60s and only retired in the last 10 years or so, racing his horses at Harold Park and then moved out to Broken Hill,” said Hunt.

“I started my driving in Broken Hill, then got my trainers’ licence before moving to Tamworth but haven’t trained since last November.

“I’m based in the small town of Quirindi and train on the galloping track and can’t get there until nine or 10am and just became too busy with work.

“I’ve known Tom Ison and his family for a long time, so sent my horses to him.

“He has a great set up and has got a big future in the sport.”

Trainer-driver Tom Ison and Metallica Man.

Metallica Man’s recent victory not only provided Ison with his biggest success as a trainer and driver but also Hunt’s best achievement yet.

“It was great . . . these are the races you dream of and to have all my family there and win in my pop’s colours is something I’ll cherish forever,” said Hunt.

“The Regional Championships are a great initiative by Harness Racing New South Wales putting on big money in the regional towns.

“Metallica Man has been a great horse for us, and we only paid $8,000 for him.

“I’m always looking for horses for sale and I saw this horse advertised as I was clicking online and all the horses I like sell straight away, so I jumped onto this one quickly.

“I’ve been telling my partner’s parents to get a horse with me and told them to come into this horse.

“For Metallica Man to come out and win a $100,000 race is pretty good for them and it’s my biggest win too.

“The more people involved in a horse the more people you get to share the fun with.”

Happy connections following Metallica Man's TAB Regional Championships Hunter Final success.


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