'One of the best I've driven' - Gavin Lang

12:29 AM 26 Jan 2009 NZDT
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Pay Me Christian Gavin Lang
Pay Me Christian
Courtesy Of Race Images, Christchurch, New Zealand
Gavin Lang
File Photo

2005 Sires Stakes winner and 2006 New Zealand Derby champion Pay Me Christian will get serious at the Kilmore trials tomorrow, almost a year after last racing.

The former Paul Kerr trained son of Christian Cullen was exported to Gavin Lang's Melton stable on March 18, 2008. He won a $10,000 race at Moonee Valley 10 days later before breaking down with two bowed tendons.

"It's taken a while but his legs are fine now. He is physically fit and I can't fault him. I've given him two light workouts so far but I'm going to get a bit more serious with him at Kilmore tomorrow (Tuesday). Then I'll look to place him in a race somewhere in Victoria," Lang said.

The gifted entire, who is now six, left New Zealand having won 11 of his 22 starts and placed in three others for $339,550. He was also campaigned in Australia by Kerr and won two of his five starts there in 2006, including the $60,000 Newcastle Mile on November 11 of that year.

"He's a class act alright. I just knew when I hoppled him for the first time back this campaign he was a special racehorse. He has the potential to be the best I have driven and I've steered a few good ones over the years.

"I have one of Australia's best mares in my stable named Deanna Troy and I rate him better than her," Lang said.

He even rated him above another stablemate Sammy Maguire, the winner of nine of his 15 starts, including seven of his last eight.

"He just has a different feel to him. Real strong," said Lang who works about 15 standardbreds.

And Lang is not writing off an Interdominion campaign at Parklands Raceway in March providing Pay me Christian can return to form quickly and lift his rankings.

"We were all set to take part in last year's Melbourne Interdoms when the injury struck. I'm hopeful we will be there this time but I wouldn't count on it. They are looming quickly and he is going to have to lift his ranking quickly," Lang said.

When the first rankings were released by Harness Racing Queensland a fortnight ago Pay Me Christian was seeded number 41 - 25 places behind stablemate Deanna Troy.

"Because of his ability he'll probably have to start in metropolitan races rather than in rural Victoria. However if there is a Country Cups race available I wouldn't mind starting him in one of those. He should line up within a fortnight," Lang said.

"I'm just delighted that he's a very healthy horse again, because I know, and you Kiwis know just how good he really is. I'm just hoping he makes the Interdominion cut," he added.

And on the subject of good horses, sensational Australian 3-year-old, Captain Joy is expected to arrive at Lang's property on Thursday. Lang drove him in two of his 2-year-old starts last season and was looking forward to teaming up with the brilliant son of Mach Three again.

Asked if he would like to campaign Captain Joy in New Zealand for our Derbies, Lang replied:

"It's not up to me but the stake is worth coming over for. I will be talking to the owners about that proposition. They are a bit conservative when it comes to travelling long distances and you can't blame them with all the races like Derbies and Breeders Crowns that are available here when you big races are on. They also don't over-race their horses. They look after them well.

"I drove True Roman into about fifth in your Rowe Cup back in the late 1980s and I've also driven Sumthingaboutmaori there as well. I'd love to come over but the horse's welfare must come first. He's one of the best 3-year-olds I've ever driven and because he has an enormous future he has to be looked after. In saying that though, I'd love to come to New Zealand and drive," Lang said.

As at last week trainer Michael Doltoff was lukewarm on the proposal saying Captain Joy was a 50-50 chance of making the trek across the Tasman.

"It will depend how he comes through the Victoria Derby (February 7)," Doltoff said.

Duane RANGER (editor)

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