Day At The Track

MacKinnon ready to burn

09:15 AM 25 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Jack MacKinnon

Jack MacKinnon has driven some pretty handy types in his four seasons as a junior driver, but when it comes to race-night the best of them will line up in the feature pace at Alexandra Park on Friday.

The Pukekohe-based 21-year-old will drive his boss Robert Dunn’s Live Or Die gelding, Robbie Burns, from the outside of the front row in the fifth event – the $14,999 Generation Homes R67-R99 Pace.

It will be the first time MacKinnon has driven him. Regular pilot John Dunn is committed to the Addington Raceway meeting, also on Friday night.

Robbie Burns, who is an Auckland Cup nominee, will be attempting to win his third race from four starts this campaign. The 5-year-old bay is the highest assessed pacer lining up tonight with a R99 rating.

“I’ve driven some real nice horses in training but this fella would be my best race-day drive. He’s lot more tractable than what he used to be. He now gives us options when races.

“He has had his fair share of problems though and is still on the way back. He doesn’t hang so much now. I think the owners will line him up in the Auckland Cup if he goes well the next few races,” said MacKinnon who is searching his third winner of 2016-2017, and 27th overall.

“A race like that will suit him down to the ground because he’s such a good stayer. The further they go the better he will like it,” he added.

Trainer Dunn believed Robbie Burns would make next year’s New Zealand Cup field providing he stayed free from illness and injury. MacKinnon agreed.

“He’s going to develop into a very nice racehorse. In six months I think he could be the ‘real deal’. he’s an underrated horse who is yet to show his true potential,” the former Mt Albert Grammar student said.

Five of Robbie Burns’ eight career wins have been at Alexandra Park, including three over tonight’s 2200m mobile. MacKinnon said he was only too aware of the pace inside him.

“It’s quite a tough race to work out. There’s a lot of speed inside me and although I’m confident I am driving the best horse in the race I’m going to have to see what happens when I leave the gate.

“Jo’s dream and Killer Queen can both get away quickly and Jo’s Dream proved that with a nice win last week.

“Even though it’s not an easy race to read, Robbie Burns is a tough stayer, and I’m confident the best horse will be in front when it counts,” said MacKinnon.

The Franklin driver rated Robbie Burns a win chance and his other two drives at the meeting as each-way and place prospects respectively.

“Steve (Telfer) and Chris (Garlick) will have Rocknroll Princess (race one) spot on for this. She’s drawn a bit wide but we got squeezed up on the final bend last start and that cost us. She’s a real good stayer and can get some of it.

“Any Old Way (race six) will start from a 15m handicap and I’m driving him for Paul Nairn. He’s a very good horse when right but you can never be sure which Any Old Way will show up. He’s travelled up well and this will be his last race before he goes to Australia,” MacKinnon said.

“It would be nice to send him on his way with a win but a place looks best for him in this. Five of his seven wins have been at Alexandra Park though, and he did place at odds on (NZ) Cup Day recently,” he added.

The next two Fridays are the ‘Calm before the Group One storm’ at Alexandra Park next month.

December is the Auckland Trotting Club's busiest and biggest month. The big races on offer are:


December 9:

Group Three $30,000 Summer Cup

Group Three $30,000 Caduceus Club Northern Breeders Fillies & Mares Stakes


December 16:

Group Two $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship 3yo Fillies Stakes

Group Two $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes for the open class trotters

Group One $100,000 Rosslands Queen of Hearts Fillies & mares Pace

Group Two $50,000 Alabar 3yo Classic

Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup


December 31:

Group One $150,00 Alabar Sires Stakes 3yo Fillies Final

Group One $80,000 National Trot

Listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 3yo Open



Duane Ranger

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