IT WAS smiles all round as Liberland broke through for his first win from 14 starts at Horsham on Thursday afternoon.
An overdue victory for Junortoun trainer Gary Donaldson and members of the Pacers Bendigo syndicate with the four-year-old gelding came with the added bonus of a $7000 Vicbred bonus.
And with Michael Bellman onboard Liberland, an added beneficiary was the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).
Harness Racing Victoria is donating $500 to the foundation for every winner driven by Bellman and fellow reinsman John Caldow during the month of September.
The running tally was given a nice boost at Horsham, with Bellman steering three-consecutive winners home on the eight-race program, starting with Liberland in race three.
The Pet Rock gelding was backing up after finishing towards the rear of the field at Lord’s Raceway on Tuesday night, but always looked to have Thursday’s race in his keeping after strolling to the front early in the piece.
Donaldson was rapt to snare another winner for the Bendigo Pacers syndicate, managed by Alan Prentice, and with a gelding, who has enjoyed his share of bad luck.
“He copped a pretty torrid run Tuesday night, so I was a little concerned how he would be back up,” he said.
“But I looked at the field and didn’t think it was overly strong and that he was every chance.
“The win was coming – we’ve certainly had our ups and downs with him.
“He’s the younger brother of Live Like A Royal, the horse I had that got hit by a car, who I sold a few years ago.
“He’s run a few seconds this time in, but he’s been a troublesome little fellow. He’s had a few little things go wrong, which has stopped and started his preparation.
“He’s off a pretty low mark, so I am sure we can win another win with him, depending on what the syndicate wants to do with him.”
Adding to the trainer’s frustration, Liberland has had to be scratched three times during the COVID period – once at Melton at the start of the pandemic, again at Charlton not long afterwards and more recently at Mildura, after the area again reverted to a standalone region.
Liberland – named after the micro-European nation with the motto ‘To Live and Let Live’, which correlates closely to the dam’s name Live Your Life – was the Bendigo Pacers syndicates’s first venture into ownership in 2018.
They have since racked up 18 winners, including five to Skyeski, three apiece to Regal Ambition, Rocks Arnt Pets and Leigha Miller, and one to Liberland.,
Donaldson is anticipating a few quieter weeks ahead on the racing front, with Leigha Miller, who was unplaced at Horsham, headed to the spelling paddock, alongside Flaming Fives, while Skyeski, who won seven races and was placed 20 times from 57 starts, has retired to stud.
“The only one I’ll really have racing is Liberland, but Rocks Arnt Pets is back in training, so he will be racing in about eight weeks’ time,” he said.
“It’s a bit quiet for the minute.”
“I do have a few young ones though, so I am sure we will get them up and going.”