IT WAS a day like no other for the Maldon father-son training team of Brian and Ash McKnight at Donald last weekend.
Never before had the Oakford Thoroughbred Farm team saddled up a treble of winners on a day until Oak Bridge, San Marino and Logo Logic came up trumps in consecutive races on Saturday's eight-race program.
Together as an official training partnership since 2016, it marked a new high.
Ash McKnight can only remember once before coming close to a treble.
That was at Echuca on September 15, 2018, when Lone Soldier and Yarrayne Lass won and Hot Seat was beaten by just inches.
A fourth McKnight horse Exceder finished equal third that day.
On Saturday, the return was even better, with the treble complemented by a placing with the three-year-old gelding Dashing Rebel.
All in all, a handy day's work by any measure.
"We've had a few doubles, but they don't come along very often," a thrilled McKnight said.
"The horses were placed really well and were ready to go. We were pretty confident with a couple of them."
It was a big day all around the stable, which took an unparalleled eight horses to Donald.
McKnight said it was a case of many hands making light work, praising the efforts of all involved with the winning haul, including strappers Victoria Talbot (Oak Bridge), Tara Simpson (San Marino) and Belle Harrington (Logo Logic).
"That's probably the most horses I've ever taken to a meeting and sometimes it doesn't all go your way," he said.
"Sometimes you take a heap of horses to a meeting and you go home with your tail between your legs, but they all went pretty well.
"It was a full day - races three to race eight - two runners in two races.
"The girls who work for us did a great job keeping it all organised. I just had to get the saddles there and get them saddled up, they did the rest and did a great job."
In a tight contest, McKnight nominated Logo Logic, who won for the third time in 17 career starts and was the third of the three winners on the day, as 'definitely' the most impressive.
"He's a pretty talented horse, but with some soundness issues. I thought his first two runs (this preparation) on the synthetic were really good, he just didn't have a lot of luck," he said.
"Back on the turf with just a little bit of the sting out of it for him, he got a really good ride from Sheridan Clarke.
'When she put the afterburners on at the 200m, he just blew them away. He was very impressive.
"We might back him up at Ballarat this Sunday because he handles the wet. The soft tracks are his go - he's not bad on synthetic either.
"But he needs to get a bit of sting out of it with his issues. A heavy track would not bother me one bit, he'd plow through that."
The lightly-raced, but still developing five-year-old gelding previously won the final start of his last preparation at Kyneton in November last year.
McKnight hopes San Marino can kick on after notching up his second win in nine starts over 1000m, first-up into his preparation.
The obviously talented, but with a few quirks four-year-old is a bit of a project horse for the McKnights after starting his career with Danny O'Brien for whom he won at debut at Werribee in late 2020.
"I thought we were a bit stiff not to win a race last preparation, he was placed in town third-up, but we've learned a bit about him," he said.
"He's a bit quirky. He's trialled really impressively every time and we went to Donald with a heap of confidence that he could get the job done.
"He was back into a 58 grade and he hadn't raced much back there at all, except for the end of his last prep.
"He still doesn't know how to quite pin the ears back and run straight through the line, he waits for the other horses a little bit.
"He's a horse that will be better at 1200m and he's a horse I think can win a race in a town - a mid-weeker, Adelaide, or something like that."
Oak Bridge, who kicked off the treble with his 1620m benchmark 0-58 victory, won for the second time in 14 starts.
Often and mistakenly, according to his trainer, regarded as a stayer in the making, McKnight is convinced the four-year-old gelding's preferred trip is over the mile.
"He's high cruising and pretty tough and he sort of runs them into the ground a bit over the 1600m, whereas when you go to 2000m, they have to be a little bit more dynamic," he said.
"So I'm not totally convinced he'll go much more than the mile-1800m.
"We'll see as time goes on. That was only his second run this time in.
"He has a good owner; he's from Newcastle and has only one horse. He loves Night Of Thunders and he rang me up to buy that horse that was the only one in the sale.
"He has this passion for bloodlines and that was the one he wanted. He's starting to repay him now."
McKnight said Oak Bridge would likely be set for a 1600m event at Warracknabeal on July 4.
He was one of two winners ridden by Sheridan Clarke, who was also aboard Logo Logic, while Christine Puls rode San Marino.
McKnight paid Puls, who generally does the bulk of the stable's riding, a compliment of the highest order.
"No one rides Wimmera tracks better than Christine Puls," he said.
The girls who work for us did a great job keeping it all organised. I just had to get the saddles there and get them saddled up, they did the rest and did a great job.- Ash McKnight
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