Lucky Artist won’t be the best horse Michael Formosa drives on Saturday night at Newcastle but he looks his best winning chance.
The Ellalong reinsman has only two race drives at the meeting but his biggest thrill could come between the second and third events when he takes 2016 Inter Dominion champion Smolda for a trip around the track with Santa aboard a dual sulky.
The nine-time group 1 winner, which had 32 victories in 68 starts and $2,558,544 in stakes, has retired to the Singleton property of part-owner Marcus Kirkwood, who has since penned a book about the champion called Our Mate Smolda.
Formosa had Smolda, trained by Kiwi champion Mark Purdon, in his stables in 2012 during his Australian derby campaign. He won the NSW Derby and was then second, with Formosa in the gig, in the Newcastle Derby in his only start at that track.
Formosa said it was good to have Smolda back.
“He’s been here all week,” Formosa said. “He’s been getting a bit of work under his belt just to take Santa onto the track. He’s enjoying being back into the swing of things for a few days. Horses like that, once they’re retired they get a bit bored, so he seems to be happy doing it.”
The appearance is part of a Christmas family night featuring mini-trot races and free entry for kids.
On the track, Formosa will drive Lucky Artist in race seven for Shane Sanderson and Lexy Can Wait in the third for Jarred Hetherington.
“Lucky Artist will be hard to beat and the other has drawn one as well, so it should be thereabouts with a bit of luck,” he said.
At Cranbourne, former Hunter-based team Shane and Lauren Tritton have Maximan 11th in the Inter Dominion standings heading into the last round of heats for a spot in the 12-horse grand final next week. Maximan has barrier five in heat one. They also have Yayas Hot Spot and Franco Nelson equal 15th in the list but Franco Nelson has been scratched.