NT trainer Chris Pollard takes 5 horses down to Katherine Cup Day

Sure he might enjoy the social environment and the relaxing Darwin lifestyle that exists in the Top End, but Chris Pollard is definitely an accomplished trainer in his own right in the Northern Territory.

There are plenty of colourful characters in the world of horse racing in the Northern Territory.

When it comes to the jockeys, you’ve got loveable Darwin-based jockey Wayne Davis.

Quick with the one-liners, Davis celebrates victory in a maiden as if he has just won the Melbourne Cup and he just ends up hugging everybody.

Constantly reminds those within ear shot that he’s the only Group 1 winning jockey in the NT too, but is one of the first to shake the hand of a rival jockey, trainer and owner should they have success.

In the training ranks, you wouldn’t get a bigger personality than Top End trainer Chris Pollard.

He has resided in Darwin for some 20 years and during his tenure at Fannie Bay he has experienced his fair share of ups and downs as much as any other trainer.

Pollard’s stable is located behind the track at the end of the back straight with Darwin racecaller Craig Sant affectionately referring to that particularly corner at the 700m mark as “Pollard’s Palace”.

He enjoys the social aspect of life as much as anyone else and you wouldn’t have to ask him twice when it comes to spending a day fishing or crabbing.

However, come race day Pollard is in the zone and is all business, and with 23 horses currently in his stable he certainly has plenty on his plate.

Like every other trainer during the recent Darwin Cup Carnival, Pollard has spent the past two weeks recovering from what is always a hectic period.

“It’s a pretty busy time of year, keeps you on your toes that’s for sure,” he said.

It’s no easy task to land a winner during the Cup Carnival, which comprises eight race meetings starting on the first Saturday in July before ending on the first Monday in August, but Pollard managed to achieve an element of success.

On the opening day on July 2, Brimarvi Rooboy got home by a nostril in a $20,000 race at 0-58 level over 1300m with former Darwin jockey Phil Crich, who now resides in South Australia, in the saddle after he headed north on a working holiday to ride for Pollard.

On the penultimate day of the Carnival, Palmerston Sprint Day on July 30, Pollard had a winning double.

Dream Weaver won a $21,000 race at 0-58 level over 1300m with top Perth-based jockey Brad Rawiller as the pilot before Illustrating Law won a $21,000 race at Class 2 level over 1100m with Stan Tsaikos, the Darwin-based jockey who has won the past two Alice Springs premierships, pulling the strings.

Illustrating Law was an impressive four length winner on his Fannie Bay debut and Pollard has a high opinion of the horse adding that currently the four-year-old gelding is arguably the best at his disposal.

Before arriving at “Pollard’s Palace”, the Showcasing gelding had made an impact in NSW at Newcastle, Hawkesbury, Gosford and Goulburn.

“He comes from Sydney and we were looking for a horse like him,” Pollard said.
“He’s just a nice horse, mate – he’s a young horse.

“He’d only had eight starts for two wins, two seconds, a third and a fourth in NSW before I got him, so he’s got a fair bit of ability.

“He will probably have a couple more races up here before it gets too hot and the track gets too hard
and then head down south and have a spell.”

Pollard trained nine winners during the 2020/21 Top End and Country season, but he ended last season with 11 wins, nine seconds and 19 thirds from 157 starts.

He finished sixth in the trainer’s premiership behind Gary Clarke (55), Phil Cole (30.5), Tayarn Halter (21.5), Garry Lefoe (19) and Nicole Irwin (14).

Having had the opportunity to put his feet up since Darwin Cup Day on August 1, Pollard is heading down the Stuart Highway on Saturday for the annual Katherine Cup Day.

When asked what the appealing factor was about making the trip to Katherine once a year, Pollard said: “We’re not racing here.

“It’s a trip away from home, yeah, and I enjoy going.

“I normally go down most years, unless I’m somewhere else.”

Pollard, who has also taken horses to Broome in Western Australia in the past, will be making the three hour trip to Katherine (317km) with five horses.

Red’s Mate lines up at a 0-54 level over 1300m and Threepoint Missile will start against 0-58 opposition over 1100m, while Antonio, Watch The Duck and Chestnut Park will feature in a 1000m maiden.

“Red’s Mate is probably the best of them, mate,” Pollard said.

Pollard stressed that he still enjoys training and continues to enjoy the Top End lifestyle.

“I’ve currently got some nice horses together now – a few younger ones,” he said.

“With Darwin, it’s a good place to live.

“You can go and do whatever you want really in Darwin.

“No plans to leave, not really mate.”

In relation to the $25,000 Katherine Cup (1700m) on Saturday, the Gary Clarke-trained Vallabar (Jarrod Todd) – third in the 2022 Darwin Cup (2050m) – was a $3.10 favourite with Palmerbet late Friday afternoon.

Phil Cole’s Saccharo (Wayne Davis), a last start winner at Fannie Bay, was next best at $3.50.

Kerry Petrick’s Boom Boom Sweet (Paul Denton) was $4.20, Angela Forster’s Starouz (Paul Shiers) was $4.40 and Nicole Irwin’s Cowley’s Creek (Sonja Wiseman) was $7, while Barry Cooke’s Just Hang Up (Casey Hunter) from Alice Springs was the $26 outsider with the top Australian betting sites.

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