The stars could well align Sunday and deliver Neil McCallum not only a third Ouyen crown but a career 1500th victory.
McCallum will steer Egodan in the Greggs Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup, which is the headliner on a terrific 11-race card for the club and one of five drives on the day for the reinsman, who’s amassed 1498 career wins.
The 56-year-old’s been driving since age 19 and has had 15,442 starts to be on the cusp of the magical milestone.
“It would be a point of pride for anybody, it takes a bit of doing,” he said. “I’ve had Group 1 wins in four different states of Australia. If you couple that with 1500 wins, it’s a couple of things not many people have done.”
And what do those numbers signify to him?
“A lot of kilometres,” McCallum said. “I could do 100,000 a year, a couple of years 120,000. It’s part of the grind. You’ve got to like being on the road.
“It catches up with you a bit, there is not a lot of time for yourself, but that’s horses I suppose. There are ups and down.”
Among the biggest ups have been the aforementioned Group 1s, which include Jerichos Trumpet winning the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic in 2017 (pictured). He’ll partner the trotter at Echuca tonight, who he considers “an each-way chance”. “He seems to be on his way back.”
Two of his other Group 1 wins come with Imprimartar, winner of the 1990 NSW Derby and 1991 Fremantle Cup.
“We took on nearly the cream of the crop when he was racing,” McCallum said. “I was with him from day one.”
Imprimartur also delivered the first of two Ouyen Cups in McCallum’s kitty, having won in 1992 before he followed up with a second in 2000 with Demiliner.
On Sunday he hopes to add a third with Egodan who, like four of McCallum’s five drives at Ouyen, is trained by Lachlan Prothero. He’ll start from outside the back row and the reinsman labelled him “just a great old horse”.
“When he was second last start he cracked $350,000,” McCallum said.
They will have to overcome the likes of Beat City and Pembrook Charlie tonight if they are add to their winnings in the 2423m feature.
“The distance doesn’t worry him, it just depends what trip you get around that track,” McCallum said. “If he gets a nice enough run they will know he’s there.”
McCallum shared his thoughts on his other Ouyen hopefuls:
R3 N7 Reeko Reactor (Munro Bros. Pace)
“He was disappointing the other night. We changed his work around and he had a bad race at Swan Hill, but he is drawn good and is a chance in that field. It suits him on the fence."
R5 N4 Baby Ginnie (Poole & Jackson Speed/Walpeup Pace)
“She’s going all right. She’s getting more comfortable on tight tracks, has had a couple of weeks off and is working good enough."
R7 N6 Ian Raymond (Les Patching Memorial Pace)
“Went great at Swan Hill and it took a handy one to run him down. He looked like he was going to win until he got swamped. (Gate) six at Ouyen is not a nice fish. If I go back I could be in trouble, if I go forward I could be in trouble. Will just have to judge it off the gate.”
R9 N3 Hes The Judge (Nutrien AG Solutions Pace Final)
“He goes all right. He’s one we bought from Adelaide and hangs when he corners, but went around Swan Hill good. He’ll be up forward somewhere and a chance. His attitude has improved since they put blinkers on him.”
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