A city double decades in the making

Barry Harper had a night to remember at Sandown Park on Thursday night by jagging a city winner for the first time in over two decades.

Harper’s last Sandown winner was Omega Lucy in January 2018 so it was fitting that one of her sons, Omega Gringo, would break that drought by winning on his Sandown debut. His second runner, Omega Tyson, rounded out a memorable night by coming from last to win the final race on the card.

“I haven’t had a double here for years,” said the delighted septuagenarian.

“It’ll be a bloody good drive home to Seaspray!”

July 1998 was the last time the 50 year veteran of the sport had trained a winning double at Sandown Park. The double was made all the more rewarding, given Barry and his wife Heather did all of the work to get them to the track after breeding the now city winners.

“Heather rears a lot of dogs for Ray Borda (one of the sport’s most prominent owners), he’s a very good man to deal with.

“I normally train for other people, but I had 12 months out of the dogs and bred three litters so had to wait for these fellas to grow up. Hopefully now we’re reaping the benefits.”

Harper was introduced to the sport at Warragul in the 1970s, and in 1994 came within inches of climbing the sport’s highest peak.
“We’d go to the Warragul dogs and just watch them. I was a slaughterman then, and I said to the wife, ‘we should get one of these.’ A chap gave me a giveaway pup, and the rest is history.

“In 1994 Zippity Magic ran second in the Melbourne Cup, Light Of Fire got her by about four inches. I still remember it clearly.”

And while his emerging team has some way to go to reach those heights, Harper is keen to ensure he doesn’t have to wait another two years for his next win in the city.

“We’ll see how they pull up, but we’ll probably be back next week,” he said, smiling.

Earlier in the night, the country’s premier sprinter Simon Told Helen made it five wins in a row when he slashed two lengths of his previous best time, winning the Free For All in a stunning 29.105.

Click here for full results and replays.

Omega Gringo (2) provides Barry Harper the first leg of his first Sandown double in more than two decades