29 November 2012 - Maiden Bendigo trotting mare Shea Keystone and her rider Maiden Gully trainer/driver Maree Campbell will be Victoria’s sole representative in Saturday night’s $15,000 Allied Express Le Trot Monte over 1740 metres at the Bankstown track in New South Wales..
Saturday night is one of the NSW Harness Racing industry’s biggest race nights with the running of the time-honoured $100,000 Treuer Memorial (Group 1) over 2540 metres and the Jim O’Sullivan trained Shea Keystone will be competing on the ‘big stage’ for the first time. O’Sullivan decided to target the Le Monte Trot after Shea Keystone made her Monte debut at Bendigo on 3 November. The Lezis Boy mare finished second, beaten in a photo finish by Victoria’s Monte star Optimum. It was also Campbell’s first Monte ride and she rode the mare “jockey style”, even managing to pull the whip in the home straight. “I enjoyed it a lot and this mare seems to like to race under saddle,” Campbell said. “She may have improved a little too with the extra training since the Bendigo race, so it’s good that the Jim (O’Sullivan) is taking the trip to Sydney to give her a shot at this saddle race.” Shea Keystone has drawn six on the front line in the handicap event. Although usually reliable in her trotting gait, Shea Keystone has been to the races 34 times and the only time she has come close to success was in the Bendigo Monte. O’Sullivan will leave for Sydney, float in tow, on Friday morning allowing time for Shea Keystone to settle into the Sydney hustle and bustle before her race. The Le Monte at Bankstown will not be an easy assignment for her and one new Monte contender in the nine horse field is the Bendigo owned Sassy Pinevale, now trained in Sydney by Blake Fitzpatrick. The CR Commando mare will start from the 20 metre back mark and in what could be a race winning tactic, Fitzpatrick has enlisted the services of the ‘dual-gaited', Brian Wood. Now a harness racing convert, Wood enjoyed plenty of success as a jockey, including guiding the brilliant speedster, Show County to many a big race win. Still riding, Wood recently drove his first pacer to victory. Sassy Pinevale has won more than $166,000 but is a maiden under saddle. Another locally bred trotter in the Le Monte is the five-year-old mare Teasing, now trained at Newcastle by Adam Francis. Rod Atkins will ride the Conch De Ville mare. Former Victorian Topnotch Dream has Monte experience finishing fourth on Redwood Day at Maryborough in the Monte won by Aleppo Sunrise. The six-year-old mare is now trained at Nowra and Seryn Adams will take the ride.
Two of NSW’s best known female reins persons Emma Turnbull and Lauren Panella are expected to have a big following in the Le Monte betting. Turnbull rides reliable trotter Modern Mistake and Panella rides King Kong Cooma. South Australia will be represented by Likeaplayboy to be ridden by Mary Crosby.