Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing
Taking six-year-old pacer Valbonne to the beach at Naval Base every day for a swim and a gallop along the shore is paying dividends for Oldbury hobby trainer Lisa Walton.
Valbonne, the $2.20 favourite, was driven to a smart all-the-way victory by Michael Grantham in the $18,500 Rob Bovell Hall Of Fame Inductee Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to give Walton her first metropolitan-class success and her fifth success as a trainer.
Walton, who works full-time for her husband Brad’s earthmoving business, was delighted that her daughters Lucy (nine) and Estelle (six) were on course on Friday night to cheer for Valbonne as he crossed the line a clear winner over Rupert Of Lincoln ($7.50) and Fanci A Dance ($6.50).
Walton’s father, and biggest supporter, Anthony Iddon, joined in with the family celebrations on Friday night, and Valbonne’s win rekindled memories of his first success as a trainer and driver with 100/1 outsider Van Action, at Gloucester Park in 1969, when he was having his fourth drive in a race.
Not to be outdone, Walton also chalked up her first training success with an outsider when Michael Tenardi guided nine-year-old gelding Crave to an all-the-way win at tote odds of $87.80 at Northam in a 2560m strand on November 11, 2014.
Walton was offered Valbonne by prominent owner Albert Walmsley late last year, and the New Zealand-bred gelding has been prepared by Walton for 20 races for two wins and ten placings for stakes of $33,389.
“Albert offered me the lease of Valbonne with an option to purchase,” said Walton. “And I bought him a couple of months ago, and he won a week later (in a $4,750 midweek event at Gloucester Park).
“Valbonne had a few soundness issues when I first took him, and I have been able to get on top of them, with a change of work and taking him to the beach every day. He has no hoppled runs between races. He is a lovely horse and a delight to train.”
Valbonne, named after a beautiful old town just north of the famous French riviera cities of Nice and Cannes, will make his 100TH appearance in a race at his next outing.
A son of Mach Three, Valbonne has earned $164,826 from 15 wins and 25 placings. He is the second foal out of the unraced Live Or Die mare Sayang, whose first foal Cavalryman has had 81 starts for ten wins, 20 placings and stakes of $55,951.