by Adam Hamilton
FRESH from capping a truly remarkable comeback, Jodi Quinlan will happily watch the Auckland Inter Dominion pacing final from the sidelines.
Quinlan said her hardest decision was whether to fly from Melbourne to Auckland to watch My Kiwi Mate in the race, not whether to take the reins herself.
“There was a bit of talk between Craig (Demmler) and I at times about who’d drive him in the final, but there’s no way I am,” Quinlan laughed. “I might have won about 10 races on him, but he’s Craig’s pet. He can do no wrong in Craig’s eyes, so I’d be on a hiding to nothing.”
Quinlan said she’d been overwhelmed by texts, calls and well-wishers after her pick-up drive win aboard Phoenix Prince for trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin in last night’s (Saturday) Group 2 Cranbourne Cup.
“I’ve got Craig to thank for that one,” she revealed. “Clayton couldn’t find me and rang Craig asking if I’d drive the horse. Craig accepted the drive for me.
“I wasn’t that keen to be honest, just because I’m not really as fit as I’d like. It’s taking a while for my body to come around again after the injuries.”
Quinlan was kicked in the side by a horse on Christmas Eve, last year, leaving her with spinal fractures and a lacerated kidney.
It’s been a long and still ongoing road to recovery.
“It certainly made last night extra special, especially all the people who’ve contacted me since. And the reception I came back to straight after the race was amazing,” she said.
Quinlan said she will “probably” head to Auckland to watch the final: “I need to sit down and have a look at what horses we have racing where and if I can make it happen. I should.”
Like Quinlan, My Kiwi Mate has overcome extreme adversity to make it back.
“He’s broken down twice, the last time he fractured his pastern and got three screws in it,” she said. “With all that in mind, it was a big call for Craig to take him across, but he’s made the final and now drawn well, too.
“I hope he can land three pegs. I thought he paced as rough as guts on the second night and was worried about him, but then his run last Friday was about as good as he’s ever gone I reckon.”
For Demmler, this will be his fourth drive in an Inter Dominion final. He went mighty close when Breenys Fella stormed home for second to Shakamaker in 2000.
His other two drives were eighth on Breenys Fella in Auckland in 1999 and ninth on In Monaco in 2009.
Demmler’s champion father, Ted, drove in 12 finals with thirds on pacer Pure Steel (1980) and trotter Highly Likely (1990) being his best results.