In the spring of 2011 a young Jake McGeechan confidently announced to his father Michael that the newly born Artistic Fella and Kahlea Mac colt was the best of their 2011 foals.
With a likely future in the sport, Jake never came to realise the progress of the colt born on family’s property ‘Highland Pride’ as he was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision outside Crookwell in the early hours of Friday morning 30th November, 2012.
For Michael McGeechan, his involvement in harness racing and Standardbred breeding began in the late 1990’s, and it was only natural that Jake would follow. McGeechan’s first purchase was Smooth Jes who he owned with his brother John.
Following a successful racing career, the mare produced a number of winners including the Miracle Mile champion Divisive and also the unraced Khalea Mac. Michael also purchased in-foal mares Maputo that produced the Pacing Gold winner Burling Game in 2000 and Blanc De Noir who foaled the sub 1:50 horse Highland Pride who went on to win in excess of $400,000 in the US.
McGeechan mostly sells the foals he breeds, but out of those retained for racing he claims the best to date as being Susie Oneill. Michael is now hoping the 2011 selection by Jake can take over the mantel. “I don’t know how he did it, but Jake could pick them the moment they were born” said Michael. In 2005, the then 9 year old had chosen Shes All Lady as their best and she went on to win more than $65,000 in prize money, and in the process recorded a personal best time of 1:53.8.
“He wasn’t born into the horses but he had a way with them” explained Michael. “We ended up keeping all of the 2011 foals and they have been named after Jake” added Michael. At Jakes funeral the Adam Brand hit Hell Of A Ride was played; it symbolised the McGeechans’ year and became a natural choice for the Kahlea Mac colt.
Trained by Ian Wilson at Menangle, One Hell Of A Ride has drawn behind the 9 gate in the first of the $20,505 heats of the VHRSC Victoria Derby. Whilst he may be on the second row, One Hell Of A Ride comes out behind fellow New South Welshman Aztec Bromac who possess good early speed. “It’s the weakest of the three heats, so we have a chance” said McGeechan who is hoping the colt Jake selected as the best can continue the ride they are experiencing.
Also heading south this week is Crookwell born Brad Hewitt. The young gun trainer now based at Goulburn will be campaigning with the talented Spare Me Days. A last start winner at Goulburn on the 19th January, Spare Me Days was bred by Hewitt and is the first foal of Tolnikie, a Nikalong Shadow mare who was bred and originally owned and raced by Brad’s grandfather, the late Tom Hewitt of Wheeo.
With the colt carrying Tom’s favourite exclamation as his racing name, Spare Me Days has drawn barrier 3 in what is doubtless the hardest of the three heats being decided Saturday night. Lining up alongside the Hewitt runner is last season’s champion two year old and Breeders Crown final winner Follow The Stars, the Simpson Memorial winner My Field Marshall and the Cran Dalgety trained Art Union who last start defeated the star open class pacer Border Control.
“It’s the hardest heat of all but we have drawn the 3 gate so it gives us a chance” said Hewitt who is enjoying his best season ever as a trainer and driver. “I’ve only ever had one or two in training before but we have kicked off this season really well” said Hewitt who has recently scored feature race wins with Sweet Molly O’Shea and Im Jay Tee who snatched a last stride win in Monday’s $18,600 Goulburn Soldiers Club Goulburn Rose.
“He (Im Jay Tee) went really good at Goulburn, it was his first run in a month and just got there”. Positioned perfectly in the one by one, Hewitt came with a well-timed run to claim victory on the line from the Belinda McCarthy trained pair of Mister Bling and Epaulette.
Im Jay Tee will accompany Spare Me Days to Melbourne and is lining up in race 5 at Ballarat on Friday evening which is a heat of the Country Clubs Championships.