Mark Callaghan and Michael FormosaMark Callaghan can’t remember ever being in the hunt for a Newcastle premiership and says he will might never be in one again.
So with a 44-43lead over young gun Brad Elder going into Saturday night’s final meeting of the season, the 45-year-old is pulling out all the stops.
And getting a little help from his friends.
The Morisset reinsman has nine drives on the 11-race program and Elder has six.
Callaghan’s book includes two pacers from fellow trainer-driver Michael Formosa and another pair from the Sydney stables of KerryAnn Turner and Robbie Morris.
“Mick Formosa and I have been really good mates for 30 years,” Callaghan said. “We went to school together and we learnt the harness racing game from Ross Chisholm together when we left school, so he was happy to put me on a couple this week.”
Despite the numerical advantage, Callaghan was not expecting an easy time in the premiership finale, where Elder has quality chances withAshkii, First Fleeter, Justarumour, Bright And Sonny, Threepennyopera and Moneytintin.
“It doesn’t matter how many drives you’ve got, it’s how many winners you’ve got,” Callaghan said.“It’s good that I could manage to get a winner on Monday with Highview Freddy. I’d rather be going in one in front.
“It’s been back and forth and I don’t think either of us have been more than two ahead.It’s been chopping and changing for six weeks so Idon’t think tomorrow will be any different.”
Callaghan was glad, though, to be part of an exciting finish with Elder, who is also chasing a maiden title.
“I can’t remember a drivers’ premiership coming down to the last night, he said. “It’s usually done and dusted well before the last meeting.”
Callaghan will drive Three Chances, which was trained by Turner, and Somemondosomewhere from Formosa’s stable. Callaghan has the sit onDashing Hannah and Dance For Glory from the Turner/Morris team, who are helping him at Menangle on Saturday night. Morris will drive Highview Freddy and Lovin Miss Daisyin Menangle Country Series finals for Callaghan, who also has Lethal Star qualified.
Callaghanalso has Rave Moonraker and Just Pit Boss from his own team at Newcastle, as well as Carole Sikyr’s Two Tatz Patz, Andrew Doherty’s Euston Flyer and Paul Morgan’s Tahminda.
“I’ve got some good chances there,” he said.
“KerryAnn Turner and Robbie Morris’s horses are always competitive.
“Two Tatz Patz is going well but needs some luck from the inside back.I’ve got one for Andrew Doherty but I’ve never driven it before so I don’t know much about it.
“The two-year-old in last, Tahminda, it was competitive last start, so it must be some chance.”
Nulkaba trainer Clayton Harmey has the trainers’ premiership wrapped up with47 winners, 16 clear of nearest rivalCraig Cross.
At Menangle, Callaghan said his eldest son, Jack, would take care of his in-form finalists, which he expectedto be competitive.