Day At The Track

Downey takes over Lincoln Farms driving

09:13 AM 29 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Roydon Downey
Roydon Downey
Duane Ranger photo

One of the north’s leading stables has made a radical departure from their normal personnel leading into the summer.

Lincoln Farms will have employee Roydon Downey on all three of their starters at Alexandra Park tonight, including future Cups contender Besotted.

That sees Downey replace Lincoln Farm’s long-time regular driver Maurice McKendry as the Hall Of Famer closes in on becoming just our second horseman to 3000 domestic wins.

McKendry, who is just 11 wins from the milestone, has been replaced by Downey on Besotted, class filly Lincolns Megastar and the talented Medley Moose for tonight, with Lincoln Farms trainer Ray Green saying how long Downey will remain the operation’s driver of choice is unsure.

“Roydon doesn’t get to drive good winning chances all that often and it is hard for young guys like him to get a decent go,” says Green.

So Green, in association with majority owner John Street, has decided he is their man for now.

That puts Downey in the hot seat over the next month as Besotted will not only be a hot favourite tonight but is a serious contender for the summer cups dotted over the next month.

He had a disappointing Cup week at Addington, missing the main race, being pushed back in the junior free-for-all and having his Show Day target abandoned.

But Besotted looked ready for tonight when he trialled well at Alexandra Park on Saturday, beating a race rival in Five Card Draw.

While small fields can be tricky he should have the fitness edge to win.

“He is well and I was happy with his trial last week so we are confident,” said Green.

Lincolns Megastar is a member of an exciting three-year-old filly crop and like many of her rivals tonight is warming up for the fillies riches ahead next month.

So that, coupled with a wide draw, could see her driven conservatively tonight and promote the likes of God Forbid, Pricilla’s Girl and the exciting Ideal Belle as better winning chances tonight.

An interesting newcomer to Alexandra Park tonight is unbeaten Canterbury three-year-old Locharburn in race nine, with his trainer Kevin Chapman also bringing NZ Cup runner Four Starzzz Flash north to clash with Besotted.

Locharburn has won five from five when trained by Cran Dalgety but has since returned to owner Chapman for this campaign.

He looks to have a class edge on his rivals tonight but could still be a risk fresh-up right-handed as so many southerners before him have shown.

With the summer riches looming, tonight’s meeting sees some other high class horses return, including Harness Jewels placegetter Hot Chocolate Tart in race 10 and Irish Whisper in race eight.

The latter faces a daunting task fresh-up though off a 35m handicap over 2200m so punters may be better to wait on him.

** Get tomorrow’s Weekend Herald for a full preview of the Kiwi chances in the A$750,000 Miracle Mile in Sydney.

Courtesy of Michael Guerin and HRNZ

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