Todd (Rattray) and I played football together this year so I just gave him a cheeky smile as I went on by.Reinsman Adrian Collins
Carrick reinsman Adrian Collins is one of the real characters of Tasmanian harness racing.
So it was no surprise when he had an exaggerated look to his left as he was cruising to victory on Courageous Katee at Mowbray on Sunday night.
The focus of his attention was his mate Todd Rattray who, up until Collins appeared on the scene, had been leading the race on favourite Zhukov Leis.
"Todd and I played football together this year so I just gave him a cheeky smile as I went on by," Collins explained.
Collins had driven a copybook race on Courageous Katee, prompting racecalled Matty Robertson to say "someone buy him a beer" as he crossed the line.
"Like a lot of things in harness racing, I'm still waiting for that to happen," the driver said.
Courageous Katee has now won 10 races since her Victorian owners sent her to Karoola trainer Dick Eaves in March 2017.
Collins has driven her to six of those victories.
"She's a very good horse - definitely the best I've sat behind for a long time," he said.
"I don't get many opportunities to drive really nice horses these days so I'm grateful to Dick for sticking by me.
"I know it's a cliche but all credit to him.
"He's a genius with mares."
Eaves was also full of praise for Collins as he explained Courageous Katee could get too keen in her races and was not easy to drive.
"He is a strong boy, Adrian, and you need to be with her," the trainer said.
"If somebody drives her that has a bit of trouble holding her, they tend to go before acceptances.
"Adrian seems to sit there that bit longer."
Collins said that he would take being called a "boy" as a compliment.
"I might pass if I keep my hat on," he laughed.
"But I've actually hit 42 now."
Collins is confident that connections can keep raising the bar with Courageous Katee who will be the Launceston Pacing Club's mare of the year for this season.
"She loves Mowbray and she showed on Sunday, and also when she won in the fog three starts ago, that she has an amazing turn of foot" he said.
"She has proven now that she can do a bit of work in her races and also win driven with a sit."
WILLBY LOOKING FOR BETTER LUCK
Whitemore trainer Nigel Schuuring is lamenting another poor barrier draw for Willby Rules at Sandown on Wednesday but still expects the horse to run well.
Willby Rules will start from the outside gate in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1500m) where he has 62kg before the claim for apprentice Chelsea MacFarlane.
"He also drew badly last start at Moonee Valley when he got caught wide and ran out of steam the last bit," Schuuring said.
"But we were happy with the run.
"Hopefully, they will string out a bit more on the bigger track and he'll be able to get in."
Schuuring left Willby Rules at the stables of Flemington trainer Saab Hasan after his last run.
"They've done an excellent job looking after him - he looks bright and happy," the trainer said.
"We'll see what happens (on Wednesday) before deciding how long he stays (in Victoria).
"There haven't been any races for him over suitable distances at Devonport but there is one in a fortnight which is an option."
Willby Rules has won eight races and they've all been on the Spreyton synthetic surface.
HAVE HORSE ... WILL TRAVEL
Scott Brunton is casting his net far and wide in search of suitable races for his horses while his home track at Elwick is closed.
Brunton has had winners at Sandown, Flemington and Spreyton in the past 10 days and also had a runner at Wagga.
This Saturday he has horses entered for Caulfield, Spreyton, Wangaratta and Narrandera (in southern NSW).
His lone Caulfield entry is last-start Sandown winner Shot Of Irish who will step up in class to tackle the $125,000 Benchmark 84 Handicap (1400m).
Shot Or Irish's rivals may include promising Tasmanian-bred four-year-old Kemalpasa who has won four of his past six starts in Adelaide for Richard Jolly.
BOOKIES TAKING NO CHANCES
Mystic Journey is odds-on with all the major corporate bookmakers for Saturday's P B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield.
Ladbrokes, Sportsbet and tab.com.au are all quoting the mare at $1.80 in their all-in markets prior to Wednesday's acceptances.
Meanwhile Chris Waller has named the Metropolitan Handicap as the first spring target for Eastender.
In his weekly column for the Racenet web site, Waller says: The Tasmanian horse has a cult following down there from winning some big races. (He was only) narrowly beaten in the Andrew Ramsden and can certainly stay so he is on a path to The Metropolitan.
The group 1 $750,000 Metropolitan will be run over 2400m at Randwick on October 5.
Eastender is at $34 in Ladbrokes' early market which has his stablemate Verry Ellleegant as $8 favourite.
He also gets a mention in Melbourne Cup markets at $81 but managing owner Denise Martin has suggested the 2020 Sydney Cup may be his best chance of winning a big race on the mainland.