Day At The Track

Djokovic serves up a victory

03:00 PM 20 Jun 2016 NZST
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Harness Racing Trainer and Driver Dr Luk Chin wasn’t joking when he thought Djokovic could mature into a Rowe Cup horse next season.

“I’ve always believed in him but he’s taken a long time to come to it mentally. I had to do a lot of convincing to the stipes early on. He was a hopeless breaker and I don’t think they ever believed he would make a nice trotter, but I never lost faith in him,” Chin said.

The stipes had no need for concern at Alexandra Park last Friday night when Djokovic notched up his eighth victory when easily winning the $14,000 Kevin Wehipehana Memorial for C3 to C6 trotters. He was the second favourite of seven and paid $5.60 to win.

“He felt as good as he ever has. I don’t think a Rowe Cup start is out of the question so long as he keeps improving. He’s a completely different horse now that he’s five. He used to be a nutter and break all the time.

“But he’s been off the unruly mark for a couple of seasons now and he’s finally got his mind around trotting and what it’s all about. Sundons seem to always take a while to get settled and this fella was certainly know exception,” said Chin, who owns, bred and drove the bay gelding.

Unlike years gone by Chin had Djokovic flying from his two draw and they led for the remainder of the 2700m stand stopping the clock in 3:30.8 (mile rate 2:05.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.8 and 30 even.

They won by three quarters of a length and one-and-a-half lengths to spare over place-getters Gintaras (Richard Brosnan) and Princess Mackendon (Michelle Wallis).

“He used to beat himself because his brain wasn’t in tune with racing, but he travelled super on Friday. He was always travelling well in front. I hardly moved the stick. He cruised it and seems to be getting stronger with each race,” Chin said,

The Tamahere horseman said he only had Djokovic and Tereskova racing at present.

“I’ll keep on racing Djokovic until late July or early August and then I’ll spell him and bring him back for Christmas racing.

“I’ve got a couple of yearlings in work so when they are ready I’ll probably retire or on-sell him. I haven’t got a lot of spare time to work too many, so when the youngsters come through I’ll concentrate on them,” he said.

The 72-year-old is a workaholic.
“I've had 40-plus years of 18-hour days, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my job and have always been very passionate about horses,” he said.
Chin is an anaesthetist, pain management specialist, managing director Anglesea Procedure Centre, and medical director at Anglesea Medical Properties in Hamilton.

He works his horses at 5am and is usually cleaned up by 7.30am.

“Then after work I feed up and shoe them. My wife Robyn says I’m a bit of a workaholic but I’ve always loved harness racing from a very early age. It has played a big part in my life,” he said.

“Friday’s win was especially satisfying after Djokovic showed nothing early on,” he added.

So Is Djokovic right up there with the best horses he has had?

“No I don’t think so. Fayanni was a special horse and probably my best. She was so honest. She won 10 races and more than $200,000.

“She has left a Muscles Yankee filly named Annaskova. That was her first foal and I’m hopeful she can do a good job,” Chin said.

By Duane Ranger

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