WEDNESDAY: June 28, 2023: THERE have been very few opportunities for Steve O’Halloran to claim another city breakthrough in the two years since having to re-establish himself and set up shop to train at a provincial track.
But the talented horseman is looking to stable addition Boomsong (Chad Lever) to take him a step closer to that goal when he resumes at his home track at Hawkesbury tomorrow.
The lightly-raced four-year-old has his first start for him in the Richmond Club Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m), and is currently a $4.40 second favorite with TAB.com.au behind fellow Hawkesbury representative, Jason and Lucy Attard’s Stars and Bars ($4).
Boomsong hasn’t raced since January 11 when prepared by now Hong Kong-based Mark Newnham, but is no stranger to his new trainer.
“I had him here before when I did some pre-training for Mark and his owners, the Hannon family, so I know the horse well,” O’Halloran said this morning.
“I’m really pleased to now have the opportunity to train him, and believe he can measure up to at least midweek city grade and perhaps even a Saturday race.
“If he can go close tomorrow, we’ll look for a suitable midweek assignment in town.”
O’Halloran, who spent 17 years at Tulloch Lodge after coming to Australia from his native Ireland and was closely involved with five Golden Slipper winners, launched his training career in early 2020 when approached by Waratah Thoroughbreds’ Paul Fudge to operate out of his magnificent Southern Highlands property (now owned by RacingNSW).
Her prepared his first city winner when Prince Of Arragon (Tim Clark) landed a Benchmark 72 Handicap (2200m) at Warwick Farm in September that year.
However, O’Halloran was forced to seek a new training base and settled on Hawkesbury, after Fudge decided to put his property on the market because of illness.
O’Halloran broke through at Newcastle on August 6 last year with Martini Crusader (beating fancied runners from the Michael Freedman and Chris Waller yards), and has since had a further four winners – the latest Determined Mink at Newcastle on June 10 in the Boomsong colours – so far this season.
“I’ve had Boomsong for 10 or 11 weeks, and started with a clean slate,” O’Halloran said.
“He is a big, strong horse who can be a little bit aggressive, and the plan has been to keep him happy.
“I’ve taken blinkers off and replaced them with ear muffs pre-race, and he’ll also have a barrier blanket on when he goes into the stalls tomorrow.
“I wanted an experienced strong rider for Boomsong when I trialled him at home last Monday week, and that’s why I sought out Chad (Lever).
“Chad won the 800m trial on him, and it made sense to keep him on for his resumption.
“Boomsong is going into the race with only the one trial, but has had a few jumpouts and I’m very happy with him. I’m sure he will run well.”
Hawkesbury had some rain overnight, and O’Halloran won’t mind in the slightest if there is more leading up to the race.
Not only is Boomsong a son of accomplished wet tracker Your Song (two wins from three starts on heavy ground, including a five lengths’ romp in the Group 1 1200m BTC Cup at Eagle Farm in 2013), but he also is building an excellent heavy track profile, winning once and being placed twice from three starts on that surface.
Boomsong is the seventh foal of the Anabaa mare Mabkhara, and is a half-brother to the stakes performers Wandabaa (by Wandjina), Malkovich (Choisir), and the very promising Olentia (Zoustar), who between them have tallied 20 wins.
Boomsong’s rider Lever also partners three-year-old Luai ($5.50) for his trainer wife Claire in the Blakes Marine Midway Maiden Plate (1300m).
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft has withdrawn Gallic Fox from that race to instead contest the Godolphin Family Funday 9 July 3YO Maiden Handicap (1400m), but it’s the opposite with Brooke Somers’ dual acceptor I’m Scarlett, who takes on Luai and odds-on favorite Lara’s Laulet ($1.55); the latter coming off a first-up midweek Kensington close fourth at her third start and first for Kembla Grange trainer Ben Smith.
. Hawkesbury racecourse manager Kyle Cassim this morning posted a “Soft 6” rating (5.31 penetrometer reading) for tomorrow’s meeting, where the rail is 2m out from the 1100m to 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit.