What a difference a week can make. Just ask Waikato harness racing driver Peter Ferguson. The Cambridge-based reinsman couldn't believe how much the Sires Stakes-bound Gold Ace had improved in just six days.
Sure the Bettor's Delight colt finished an eye-catching third behind Our Boy Su in his first race for four months at Alexandra Park last Friday night, but tonight (Thursday September 30) Ferguson believed he had improved several lengths when winning the $18,000 NRM Sires Stakes first heat for 3-year-old pacers.
"Peter told me was a whole new racehorse tonight and that's pleasing because he has had a lot of feet issues in his brief career to date and we have worked hard treating his feet extensively not only this past week - but for quite a while now," said trainer Steven Reid.
"We never saw the best of him last season and I always believed in him when I trained him at Graeme Rogerson's. I knew he had talent - it was just a matter of developing it," he added.
Reid trained first and third in tonight's $18,000 qualifier for the Group One $200,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day - November 9. His other colt, Charge Forward (Simon McMullan) surged home late to finish a length behind race favourite Delight Brigade (Andrew Neal).
Gold Ace sat in the one-one for most of the way behind the pace-making Delight Brigade, who is also by Bettor's Delight. However the Reid pacer got the better of him half way down the straight winning the 1609m (mile) mobile in 1:58.7 - a more than worthy performance considering the weather was awful and the track was slushy.
Gold Ace, who paid $13.70 and $3.10, sprinted his final 1200m in 1:30.2, his final 800m in 58 even and final 400m in 27.
Reid was obviously delighted with the performance considering it was Gold Ace's second win in nine starts.
"When we went south with him earlier this year (March) he was a sore horse who laboured with foot pain. We never saw the best of him and it's just so pleasing to see all the hard we have put into him is now paying dividends," the Pukekohe horseman said.
Reid has about half a dozen other 3-year-olds, who are still about four to six months away from racing, but Gold Ace and Charge Forward (by) were by far the most forward.
"There's not much between them. Gold Ace got the run tonight but I was pleased with Charge Forward who followed him throughout. I think they are both definitely Classic horses," Reid said.
The second favourite in the race, the Tony Herlihy trained and Todd Mitchell driven Statesman, broke after 200 metres and finished seventh of nine.
The first two pacers home qualified for the big race on Cup Day. Reid said he would more than likely be travelling to Christchurch with Gold Ace a few days before the Sires Stakes Final.
"I would like to get one more race into him up here. If I can't then the travel plans might change," he said.
CAMBRIDGE RACEWAY HIGHLIGHTS:
Top Trainer: Derek Balle and Owen Gillies 3 wins.
Top Driver: Maurice McKendry and David Butcher 2 wins each.
Top Sire:2 wins.
Top Junior Driver: Simon McMullan 1 win.
Results from the Cambridge-Te Awamutu Harness Racing Club's meeting held at Cambridge Raceway in Cambridge tonight (Thursday September 30) were:
Race 1: The Dave and Clare McGowan trained PURE POWER () Todd Macfarlane.
Race 2: The Derek Balle and Owen Gillies trained SUNNY'S BAR () David Butcher.
Race 3: The Jay Abernethy trained and driven HERE'S JOHNNY ().
Race 4: The Derek Balle and Owen Gillies trained LORD PATROL () Scott Phelan.
Race 5: The Steven Reid trained MO CULLEN () Simon McMullan.
Race 6: The Steven Reid trained GOLD ACE (Bettor's Delight) Peter Ferguson.
Race 7: The Scott Dickson trained ALL THE WAY () Maurice McKendry.
Race 8: The Graeme Rogerson trained FREESTYLER () David Butcher.
Race 9: The Warren Taylor trained CRYSTAL CASTLETON () James Stormont.
Race 10: The The Derek Balle and Owen Gillies trained VALEO () Maurice McKendry.
by Duane RANGER (editor)