YEAR: 2007


Pompallier & Jack Smolenski win from Some Direction
The late scratching of Play On through injury before he went on to the track and a punctured tyre Allegro Agitato had to pull for 2000 metres may have been factors in the final domination Pompallier had in the Group 1 $75,000 Fred Shaw & Garry Thompson NZ Trotting Championship at Addington.

Then again, the manner in which Pompallier won and ran the mobile 2600m in 3:17.7, could have made an argument for him winning in any event. Certainly he was impressive, as he was winning the Dominion Handicap in 2005 in the hands of Colin De Filippi. Trainer Richard Brosnan came and watched that time, but he didn't last week, sending the horse to Jack Smolenski and checking on his progress and supervising his training every second day. It was possibly a chat of things in general because Smolenski, now 73, has been round a few good horses in his time, and his record in the big-time is more than bedtime reading.

Pompallier was sent south after running second to Braig on Auckland Cup Night. Brosnan thought he was near his best again, and told Smolenski that. "Richard said he was getting back to where he was, and he felt good in the work he did for me," he said.

Smolenski drove him with confidence, sending him on a stayer's run from the 1200m that took him alongside pacemaker Cracker Nova at the 700m. He pressed on, gradually at first, and then with a clear lead as he turned in. The chasers were not chasing well at this stage. Some Direction was holding her place, but Allegro Agitato and Cracker Nova were battling, and Idle Wishes was finding the others out with a stout, late run that would take her into fourth. Pompallier's 3:17.7 and mile rate of 2:02.3 was still well short of Lyell Creek's NZ record of 3:14.3. Pompallier is now back home, another 9-year-old with a feature trot to his credit this season.

He gave Sundon the race trifecta, a result the great sire also achieved two races later in the NZ Trotting Derby.

A champion driver, and still one of the best, Smolenski has driven more top trotters than trained. With Al Mundy, who won his first race for C G Haugh and six for 'Ginger' Bourne, Smolenski won the Ordeal Cup from Mighty Dollar and Black Frost and three other races. He recalled driving Game Paul when he was favourite for the Dominion Handicap, and thought he was unlucky running second to Tussle with Melvander in an Inter-Dominion Grand Final. He did well with Johnny Fling, and finished second in a Dominion Handicap with Rosie O'Grady. His call-up for more of the Easter race specials at Addington will continue this week when he handles Gimme A Break in the Easter Cup. This is a big ask for the young horse, especially when ageless warriors like Sly Flyin show no sign of leaving the front line. Put Jack Smolenski in that category, too.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 4Apr07

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