A ROARING first six months of the 2022 harness racing season for Strathfieldsaye's Douglas stable rolled on at Melton on Saturday night.
Fresh from a double at Mildura on Friday night with Ozzie Battler and Van Niekirk, trainer Julie Douglas followed up with another with Magic Mike and Rick Reilly.
It was the stable's first Saturday night metropolitan double since Shortys Mate and Captain Confetti won at Melton on April 16.
Dual success for Julie and Glenn Douglas added to three wins on the program for Bendigo participants, with the ever-improving trotter Nephew Of Sonoko making it back-to-back wins on consecutive Saturday nights for Sutton Grange trainer Ross Graham.
Superbly driven by James Herbertson, the in-form six-year-old was able to outperform Majestuoso and fellow Group 1 star Sundons Courage to land a feature race win in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk Trotters Free For All (1720m).
It was the son of the underrated Wedderburn district sire Danny Bouchea's 15th win in 108 career starts and took his career earnings past the $200,000 mark.
Bendigo region trainers bookended the meeting, kick-started by Jack Laugher steering Magic Mike to victory in the opening event on the 11-race program.
The double for the Douglases arrived four races later when Rick Reilly, who is owned by their daughter Hayley, broke through for his first win of the season after six placings in his previous 21 starts.
The five-year-old was driven by Ellen Tormey, who insisted the gelded son of Sportswriter had raced without any luck in recent outings.
"I can't thank Glenn and Julie enough; they trust me with these horses and it's good that they are performing," she said on TrotsVision.
"Rick Reilly has been so unlucky in recent weeks, so I'm rapt he got the win.
"He probably hit a little flat spot. I think he had the perfect run maybe five starts ago and probably only finished fourth and just didn't show a huge amount of speed.
"And then we sat behind Yankee Gold and he actually peeled ground off him in a slowly run race.
"Since then he's been climbing over their backs. I don't think I've even pulled the plugs the last two or three runs.
"I've been saying this horse has been dying for a draw and we finally got it.
"He's very up and about at the moment and he's racing really well."
Rick Reilly has been so unlucky in recent weeks, so I'm rapt he got the win.- Ellen Tormey
It was the first win for Rick Reilly since his victory in the Gunbower Pacing Cup last December.
His Gunbower victory was the third in a sequence of three straight wins before he rounded out the year solidly with back-to-back placings in the Stawell and Cranbourne cups and a fourth in the Sokyola Sprint at Ballarat on Boxing Day.
Magic Mike, a five-year-old by A Rocknroll Dance out of the mare Cafe Dance, won for the ninth time in 60 starts and the third time this season.
His owners include Heathcote District Football Netball League chairman Peter Cole and City of Greater Bendigo CEO Craig Niemann and his son Dooley.
Saturday night's double has given Douglas 82 winners for the season.
Melton wins for Tormey and Laugher also followed respective doubles on Friday night at Mildura.
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