By Jonny Turner
Trainer Brent Shirley heads to his home track happy with his horses and happy with the drivers he has drawn in Wednesday’s drivers’ series at Ascot Park.
Shirley starts both Onesmartfella and Lala Land in the five-race competition dubbed a ‘Battle Of The Sexes’, which pits a team of leading male and female drivers against each other.
In race 7, the fifth heat of the competition, Lala Land randomly drew Shirley’s number 1 stable reinsman Nathan Williamson.
The four-year-old comes into the 2200m event after running second to Major Punter earlier this month.
Shirley hopes the addition of sliding blinds to Lala Land’s gear can help him go one better.
“He is looking really well and training really well.”
“He is up on the bit and I think he has improved a bit since I gave him a bit of a let-up.”
“It was a good run last time and he has got Nathan on, which is a big bonus.”
“I have put the sliding blinds on him, so hopefully that will help a bit, too.”
Onesmartfella comes into race 5 without being tested in his last start at Winton, when held up throughout the run home.
With the success Shirley has had with Ricky May in the past, the trainer is hoping for a chance of luck on Wednesday.
“I have had a great strike rate with Ricky over the years, he drove quite a few winners for my father.”
“The horse has got a good draw and he has got pull down blinds on, so he should get every chance.”
“He was very unlucky last time, the start before that he was disappointing, but I think he got away on us.”
“He seems a lot sharper now.”
Shirley will start Tac Mac in race 8, an event outside Wednesday’s drivers’ series, with Blair Orange in the sulky.
The three-year-old comes into the Nugget graduation final after running down the track in a hotly contested race on Show Day at Addington.
Tac Mac clashes with Ragazzo Mach, who has turned heads in his two career starts.
Shirley knows what kind of challenge that is, but he is hopeful his filly can be competitive.
“The trip to Christchurch did her the world of good, she seems really good since she got home.”
“I have been really happy with her work.”
“She probably can’t beat Ragazzo Mach, but if Blair can bit of respite during the run there is no reason she can’t go a good race.”
Orange, May and Williamson are part of the ever-evolving Ascot Park drivers’ series that now pits a team of male drivers against a team of reinswomen.
The trio will compete alongside John Morrison, Mark Hurrell and Brent Barclay.
The women’s team is made up of Samantha Ottley, Sheree Tomlinson, Sarah O’Reilly, Kirstin Barclay, Ellie Barron and Kerryn Tomlinson.