Big Red to be retired after season finale
One of the most extraordinary harness ponies in recent memory will make its final appearance at Vesey Street during this weekend's Champion of Champions races at Vesey Street.
After all is said and done, Colin Mello's nine-year old stud Big Red Machine will retire after three seasons of dominating its respective division.
Big Red Machine is among the six fastest horses that will square off for the coveted title during Driving Horse and Pony Club's (DHPC) 2012-13 season finale.
No horse has run faster than Big Red Machine this season, making Mello's stud a clear favourite to win it all going into the two-day event that will see the eventual winner determined on average fastest time.
But as Mello is quick to point out, being the favourite comes with its share of pressure.
“It's always pressure when you're the favourite because everybody is out to beat you,” he said.
Big Red Machine has virtually been in a class of its own this season, capturing the Boxing Day and New Year's Day Stakes in the Aged Division. Mello's stud also won the Best -of -Three Stakes in the Aged Division and the Cablevision Friday Night Series (Free for All) and also posted the season's fastest time of 1:02.
“We couldn't have asked for a better season than we've had,” Mello said. “I've had three good seasons with him and he doesn't have anything else to prove to anybody.”
Big Red Machine warmed up for this weekend's Champion of Champions by posting two wins in the Free for All during the previous race day.
“I just let him run his own race last week because it's two days of back to back racing (Champion of Champions) so it's a lot of racing,” Mello said. “He's fit and has been racing pretty good all season.
“I would like to win it (Champion of Champions) and hopefully we can. It would be nice to end on a good note even though we've had a good season so far.”
Mello admitted this weekend's races will be emotional for him given it's the last time he will be competing with Big Red Machine, who set the existing track record (1:0¼) at Vesey Street last season.
“It will be emotional because he's been a great horse and they only come once in a lifetime,” he said. “I have enjoyed the ride with him and he doesn't owe me anything. If anything I owe him and that's why he's going to be retired while he's on top and healthy and everything is going good.”
Champion of Champions action gets underway today (12 noon) at Vesey Street with the elimination dash that will see the four fastest ponies in a field of six on average time advance to tomorrow's final.
As well as Big Red Machine, Eddie Roque's GV Crystal Ball and Joe Vieira's Cherokee Kibbitz are also among the pre-race favourites.
“The six (ponies) that are in there are all pretty close in the times so we have some good competition out there,” Mello said. “It should be some good racing and it all comes down to post positions and draws and everything else. I wish everyone a safe race and best of luck.”
Philip Correia's Superman Cherokee is injured and will miss this weekend's season finale. Correia's colt is the half brother of Big Red Machine.