Day At The Track

Legend Lance leaves his mark up north

01:00 PM 07 Nov 2019 NZDT
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Lance Justice with winning mare Miss Victoria,Harness racing
Lance Justice with winning mare Miss Victoria

Melton-based harness racing legend Lance Justice headed north this week-and went home with a training double.

Justice made the four-hour trek to Swan Hill on Tuesday night and, apart from the two victories, also collected two runner-up prizes.

"It was probably only the third time I've ever been up there to race, but each time I've been lucky enough to get a winner. Apart from being a big trip, I really like the track and there's good people on the committee," Justice said.

"I must admit that I do always try and take up a nice horse. I think some of my previous wins have been with Lov

e Ina Chevy and maybe Phil Monty," he said.

While Justice this time took the reins with Miss Victoria (Shadow Play-Waltzing Matilda (Presidential Ball) to win the Toshiba Air Conditioning Pace, he engaged in-form Heathcote reinswoman Tayla French on Justice Served (Rock N Roll Heaven-Keepers Daughter (Ace's N Sevens),and the pair got the money in the Braemar Air Conditioning Pace. Justice now has driven a massive 3432 winners.

Justice said Miss Victoria (5/1), who is expected to be offered for sale soon, was a regular star performer at home.

"If she ever takes her trackwork to the races, she will be something real special. She just shuts off and looks like she's struggling, but, in reality, she has plenty left," he said.

"The racing style at Melton probably doesn't suit her because she has to work hard early, and then later is called on to rally again. The smaller country tracks are right up her alley.

"At Swan Hill, her first half was 59.8 and then her closing quarters were 28 and 29. She will do that any day of the week."

The second leg of the Justice training double was five-year-old gelding Justice Served, who rated just over a second off the track record.

"He certainly gave Tayla a few anxious moments. He's such a free rolling horse, who can get up on the bit and pull very hard," Justice said.

"The horse has done it to me. I told Tayla to let him bowl along and drive him like he's a horse with a bit of credit. He was getting tired towards the end, but got there okay."

French, who gets a concession claim, is driving in sensational form at the moment. She also went home with a driving double, after landing Karlos (Sportswriter-Kept For Pleasure (Safely Kept) for Keith Cotchin at 15/1.

Justice combined with super horse Smoken Up (Tinted Cloud-Carnlough Bay (Mark Lobell) to enthrall harness racing fans around the world during a dominant period of 2007 to 2014.

After teaming up to win their first 10 starts on end, the pair went on to record a further 64 breath-taking victories in Australia and New Zealand for earnings of over $3.6 million. Smoken Up, fondly known as Trigger, had his swansong run at Melton on Sept 6, 2014-he ran 4th to Exciteusinthecity.

Lance Justice and his old mate “Trigger” out for a jog

Justice recently hinted he too might join his mate in retirement, at least from driving, with injuries starting to catch up with him.

"I'm suffering aches and pains from race falls over the years and I have pretty severe arthritis. I've twice broken both legs in smashes-one still has 12 screws in it, while the other has only two screws, but a plate as well," he said.

"My hip plays up badly now and again and I haven't got much feeling in one foot, so I think the signs are there that I haven't got all that much longer in my race driving career. But I'm not complaining because I've had a fantastic time in the sport."

Justice has again had the call up in this Friday coveted night's Invitational Driver's race at Bendigo - finishing second to the race's home-town legend Brian Gath.

"I've only competed in it once before and that was last year. I thought I had it wrapped up for the win and along come B. Gath down the outside and got me! So, yes, I am hoping to go one better this year!"


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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