Miss Impact races clear of the field to win race 4 at the Grafton track yesterday.
Miss Impact races clear of the field to win race 4 at the Grafton track yesterday. ADAM HOURIGAN

Fern ticks all the boxes

AS a tender month-old foal, yesterday’s Grafton winner Tree Fern was fighting for her life, literally struck down by a paralysis tick.

At the time thoughts of a future racing career were the last thing on owner-breeder Veronica Scott-Mason’s mind.

“She was crook, real crook, “ the South African-born, Dorrigo-based owner recalled. “She didn’t get up for week. It was touch and go whether she would survive.

“The vets had treated her but it didn’t look like she would ever get up. Luckily she kept drinking; I used to give her milk in a saucepan and water with electrolytes.

“One night after we went out for dinner we came home and lo and behold she came back to life.”

By Dubleo out of the Scenic mare Scenic Twig, the mare purchased by Scott Mason at the Magic Millions broodmare sales for $6000 and related to Golden Slipper winner Ha Ha, Tree Fern, trained by Sue Grills at Tamworth, broke through at her third race start winning the Boral ‘Building Something Great’ Maiden (1200m).

“She’s a well bred filly. After all she’s been through it’s nice to see her win,” Scott-Mason added.

Scott-Mason is the owner of Grills reigning Country Racehorse of the Year, Border Rebel, who is having a two-week break before being readied for the big sprint races during the Brisbane winter carnival.

“At her first preparation Tree Fern showed a lot of speed, led and was just beaten first up at Coonamble,” Grills said. “This time in she missed the jump at Walcha

but today, with a bit of sting out of the ground, she showed her true colours.

“She’s got ability.”

Tree Fern was ridden by Grills’ star apprentice Timothy Bell, the pair combining with debutante Johanesburg three-year-old filly Meerlust to score a highly impressive win in the CSR PGH ‘Blue Steel Flash’ Maiden (1000m).

Meerlust had shown great promise early in her career but wasn’t produced until yesterday.

Grills believes the filly is an ideal Grafton Guineas contender.

The filly was purchased for $22,000 on Grills recommendation at the Scone yearling sales.

Meerlust is part-owned by Sydney-based financial consultants Matthew Irwin and Peter Harris.

“The raps we had on her early are coming true,” Bell told the owners on dismounting. “She’ll run a mile (1600m) on her ear and win some more races believe me.”

Meerlust, who slipped leaving the barriers, settled near last but unwound a powerful finish out wide to overhaul Heavenly View and Trust In Me to score by a half length.

Miss Impact (Matthew Paget), trained by John Shelton, provided the local trainer with the first leg of a winning double leading throughout in the Blanchard Bricks & Pavers ‘Days Of Autumn’ Class 3 Hcp (1100m).

“She’s a big gross doing animal who has just taken a while to come right this time up,” Shelton said. “I guess some would say she was a bit unlucky last start but she was beaten by a better horse (Cyclone Brad). Today things went her way.

“She’s mare with a few issues, a high maintenance type. Miss Impact is raced by good owners.

“We’ll just keep ticking along, try and win a few more.”

Four-year-old Darshan Joh (Paget) provided the double, with a gutsy win over stablemate Ibalance and fast finishing Sam’s Gift to win the CSR Monier ‘Horizon’ Hcp (1200m).

It was the four-year-old’s sixth win, all coming on his home track.

Paddy Cunningham and Samantha Munro kept the local flag flying high scoring a winning double with Hotact (Boral Clay & Concrete Class 3 Hcp – 1600m) and Getyourown (Blanchard Haulage ‘End Of Summer’ Hcp – 1000m).

“All roads now lead to Armidale,” Cunningham said. “Getyourown will tackle the Newmarket and Hotact a minor race.

“It was nice to see Hotact win. She’s a mare that hasn’t had a lot of luck, always thereabouts and should be in the paddock – she’s been up for a long while.

“But while she’s racing well and striving to win she can keep going around.”

Getyourown won her ninth race from 39 starts and made up for a last start disaster when she threw rider Ben Hull after leaving the barriers at Grafton on February 5. The six-year-old mare is by Waterford Way.

“When she’s good she’s real good, when she’s bad she’s real bad,” Cunningham added. “She can be fractious in the barriers. Until last start she hadn’t put a foot wrong.”

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