Training Triumph for Grantham
Talented young horseman Michael Grantham lives a very busy life, but he is still seeking to conquer fresh challenges. He took a gamble recently and backed his judgment when he purchased veteran pacer Maras Ace Man, considered by many as a hopeless proposition.
He was rewarded at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park last Saturday night when he produced the seven-year-old Maras Ace Man in fine fettle and drove him to a decisive all-the-way victory, giving him his first success as a trainer.
Backed from $11 to $3.90 on the fixed market and paying $5.80 on the tote, Maras Ace Man romped to victory, beating the $3.30 favourite Newsletter by just over six lengths after speeding over the final quarters in 28.8sec. and 27.6sec. and rating 1.57.8 over the 2100m journey.
This was a remarkable performance by a pacer who had managed just one win and eight placings from 95 starts. It ended a losing sequence of 39 and showed that none of us should give up hope. His only victory was at Gloucester Park in August 2017 when he was a rank outsider at $83.60, with Robbie Williams in the sulky
The gelding had been beaten by a combined total of 2886.8 metres (or 962.3 lengths) in his previous 94 unsuccessful starts and that represents an average losing margin of 10.2 lengths or 30.7 metres.
He had been unplaced at his 13 previous starts before appearing at Bunbury last Saturday and his form in those outings made miserable reading: a sixth, two sevenths, two ninths, five tenths and three elevenths. In those races he started at the following long odds: $58.80, $59.70, $108.20, $64.80, $160.50, $130.30, $104.40, $26, $165.70, $160, $126, $101 and $91.
And how and why did the 23-year-old Grantham buy Maras Ace Man?
“I had driven him just once, and that was at Gloucester Park last December when he finished tenth (beaten by a margin of 64.9m),” Grantham explained. “I liked him and when I saw that he was offered for sale for $1500 in February, I bought him with the idea of rejuvenating him.”
Grantham offered a share in Maras Ace Man to his good friend, Kurt Pellington, a painter from Byford who had never owned a share in a horse.
“I thought that a change of scenery would benefit Maras Ace Man and I give him no hopple work,” said Grantham, a former brilliant apprentice jockey and now a highly successful reinsman who has already driven 63 winners this season.
Maras Ace Man is stabled at Neville Parnham’s pre-training establishment in Banjup, a plush property managed by Grantham’s uncle Paul.
“Becoming a trainer gives me something different to do,” Grantham said. “I have a lot to do; I drive full-time for my Dad (who runs a horse transport business) and I do trackwork on Wednesdays and Saturdays for Mouse (Michael Brennan). I ride Maras Ace Man at 3.30 every morning and also gallop him down at the beach.” For good measure, he also drives at two, three or four meetings every week.
Grantham started his training career late last year when he leased Heez Chivalrous but after three disappointing unplaced runs on country tracks, Grantham relinquished his lease and Maras Ace Man gave him his first training success at his fourth attempt. There is little doubt that the modest stake of $2562 for winning at Bunbury will be just the tip of the iceberg.
Grantham retains an interest in thoroughbred racing and is a member of a syndicate which owns handy three-year-old galloper Apparition, a winner at York recently. He is a young man with fierce ambitions, a great work ethic and the ability to be a leading light in the harness racing industry for many years.