Shepparton News

Momma Smash gets the cash for Shilleagh at Leeton

- By John Thompson

Like many, COVID-19 has been a rough ride for Shilleagh MeyerVale, but the Berrigan-based horse trainer of eight years is making the most of the sport and enjoying the small, but significan­t freedoms horse racing has been granted in NSW.

‘‘I’m so grateful that things have still been going ahead — more or less — during COVID,’’ MeyerVale said.

‘‘And it’s important that it does. ‘‘Racing is a massive boost to the economy and if it’s not happening that affects everyone from the farmers producing feed to bridle makers.’’

MeyerVale, who has earned 19 wins across her career, said lockdowns in urban NSW had led to rural TAB meetings being inundated with bigger trainers, who don’t typically attend such meets because the prizemoney is lower.

Between less opportunit­y in central NSW for trainers and a recent increase in prizemoney, regional club meetings have become a magnet for desperate urban talent.

‘‘We’ve seen more horses at these meets and a tougher level of competitio­n from the bigger trainers,’’ she said.

‘‘Before they’d probably think it wasn’t worth their time, but now they’ll come out because circumstan­ces have changed.’’

Though fierce, the new competitio­n hasn’t impeded MeyerVale, who got her start at Adelaide’s Morphettvi­lle and who has 390 starters under her belt.

Her biggest win to date was with bay gelding Esprit Warrior, who beat Revel In The Chaos in a $17,500 Maiden Plate at Geelong Synthetic on April 26, 2013.

More recently, MeyerVale gained ground with unlikely ticket Momma Smash.

Owned by M. R. Smith, Momma Smash won the Class 2 Handicap (1150m) in a close finish at Leeton last month.

The September 27 TAB 2 Leeton race was the highest level Momma Smash had competed at.

The five-year-old mare is by

Statue of Liberty out of the dam She Commands.

‘‘When we first got her she looked nothing like a racehorse,’’ MeyerVale said.

‘‘I must admit when we first had her jumping barriers we had a bit of a giggle because she was quite heavy.’’

But “bit by bit” Momma Smash improved.

‘‘Once she was a lot more educated and had matured, she ended up mastering the art of the jump,’’ MeyerVale said.

MeyerVale made the decision to step Momma Smash up to a full TAB meeting “just to see if she could do it’”

Jockey Bradley Vale —

MeyerVale’s husband of 19 years — rode her to take home the $12,280 in the Class 2 Handicap with a sectional 600m time of 34.06s, and a race time of 1:07.35.

Second place went to three-yearold chestnut gelding Sir Finn.

‘‘I knew if we took it slowly, let her mature a little bit and put her in the right places then she’d get results,’’ MeyerVale said.

‘‘And in the end she stuck her nose out just that little bit more and took home the race.’’

Momma Smash has won three races, including a Narrandera maiden in August.

She also won on September 11 at Griffith in Benchmark BM50 Handicap.

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