1 November 2012 - Matt Dornauf joined a select band of drivers to come up trumps at their first race start when he steered family horse Bad Cat to victory at Shepparton last week. This week, just seven days after his perfect debut the 21 year old goes for glory driving the same pacer in the $10,000 Major In Art Alabar Anniversary Cup at Bendigo’s Lord’s Raceway on Saturday night. At Shepparton Dornauf found the top early and was in cruise control for his first drive in a race coming home with a seven metre advantage over Beaudiene Betta in the Max Sutherland 79th Birthday Pace. Bad Cat is raced by Matt’s mother Cindy and trained by his father Ian so the result couldn’t have been scripted better. Ian attributed Matt’s interest in harness racing to the success of the stable’s star pacer Royal Verdict, a Bendigo bred horse that has won Australian Pacing Gold, Vicbred Super Series and Breeders Crown Finals. “Matty has always been busy playing footy but he started to get interested in harness racing when Royal Verdict came along,” Ian told Harness Racing Weekly. Matt was only licensed to drive 10 days ago. Ian said that he was impressed by his son’s first drive. “I liked the way he didn’t bustle the horse and allowed him to find his feet before working forward to the lead,” he said. Matt has a good connection with Bad Cat, doing most of the work with the horse at the stables. Bad Cat has an impressive record with 25 starts resulting in 8 wins and 11 placings. A rising star as a three-year-old, finishing third to Tanabi Bromac in the Victoria Derby, Bad Cat has suffered a series of setbacks through its career with leg injuries. “His legs are as good as gold now,” Ian said.
On Saturday night in the Cup, Bad Cat has drawn the pole so Matt is on target for two from two aboard the 8yo Falcon Seelster gelding. The win was Bad Cat’s first start after a spell and he enjoyed some cheap splits in the run. There is no doubt Dornauf will try to muster early speed again and if he is unpressured he could take mowing down. His main dangers are going to come from Djibouti , a seven-year-old trained by Ruth Shinn and the Paul Campbell trained Dual Agent Tabman. To be driven by Chris Shinn, Djibout resumed from a month’s break at Kilmore last Sunday where things didn’t go to plan for him but his run previously in the Gammalite at Melton when he finished midfield behind Carribbean Blaster after having no luck puts him right in the mix here. Dual Agent Tabman was a beaten favourite at Bendigo at his last start but Paul Campbell who drove the pacer at his most recent Bendigo win is back in the sulky for the Cup.