New Zealand 3yo record holder Sir Lincoln has earned himself a trip across the Tasman to compete in the Victorian Derby heats at the end of the month thanks to a gutsy harness racing victory in the Listed $27,500 Dinny Johnstone Waikato Guineas at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Friday).
The Listed 2200m mobile attracted the cream of New Zealand's best 3-year-olds. Only Smiling Shard was absent and even if the South Island gun was in the line-up he would have had difficulty getting past a brave Sir Lincoln, who beat Justa Tiger's New Zealand 2200m mobile record for 3yo pacers by 0.1 of a second. The time of 2:40.1 also obliterated Davey Maguire's class and track record of 2:41.6 set in January 2008.
Sir Lincoln started from wide on the front row and his driver Maurice McKendry was made to work hard for the lead early by eventual runner-up Courage To Rule and Peter Ferguson.
At the bell Sir Lincoln led with favourite Russley Rascal (Blair Orange) breathing down his neck. Courage To Rule trailed. Thecolt was made to work throughout the race and his opposition had every chance to topple. At the finish line Sir Lincoln was simply too tough and too strong.
He had a head and 1-1/4 length to spare over Courage To Rule and Russley Rascal. Sir Lincoln's winning mile rate was 1:57.1 with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 57.6 and 27.6 seconds.
His Kumeu trainer Ray Green rated this sixth win from 14 starts as one of Sir Lincoln's finest.
"As far as wins go I think was one of his best along with his Sires Stakes win. He showed a lot of toughness in both performances. I think he's now shown enough to warrant a start in the Victoria Derby heats. Ideally I would like to arrive in Melbourne a week before the heats start on January 29," Green said.
After bucking like a bronco and earning just one placing from four starts as a 2-year-old, Sir Lincoln has really come of age this season. He's easily in the top couple of 3-year-olds in this country and already this season he's won six of his 10 starts including the Group One $200,000 Sires Stakes Final on November 10.
Asked why he had thought Sir Lincoln had turned the corner, Green replied:
"I knew a long time ago just how talented he was. It was just a matter of training that natural ability and letting it develop. I freshened him a bit for this race and he's the type of horse who doesn't require a lot of work.
"I thought the way he won tonight was spectacular. He had to do all the work and was still good enough to kick on and win. It's exciting times. It's not every day you get a talented racehorse like this fella. If you did it would be a pretty boring job. He makes my job easy," Green said.
Driver McKendry continued his praise of Sir Lincoln.
"When you drive him he feels like a good horse and that's exactly how he felt tonight. He was tough alright. It was a gutsy win," McKendry said.
Meanwhile, Green said after the Victoria Derby Sir Lincoln would target the Great Northern Derby, Noel Taylor Mile and New Zealand Derby before the Jewels Final and then possibly the Breeders Crown back at Tabcorp Park in Victoria on August 22.
Top Driver: Tony Herlihy 3 wins.
Top Trainer: Steven Reid & Graeme Rogerson 2 wins.
Top Sire:2 wins.
Top Junior: No wins.
Results from the Cambridge-Te Awamutu Harness Racing Club's meeting held tonight at Cambridge Raceway in Cambridge were:
Race 1: The Steven Reid & Graeme Rogerson DEAD CALM () David Butcher.
Race 2: The Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan trained ASLAN () Tony Herlihy.
Race 3: The Ray Green trained SIR LINCOLN () Maurice McKendry.
Race 4: The Steven Reid & Graeme Rogerson trained SNO'S BIG BOY () Tony Herlihy.
Race 5: The Jay Abernethy trained and driven HERIK ZETTERBERG ().
Race 6: The Geoff Small trained CHANGEOVER () David Butcher.
Race 7: The John Dickie trained GREAT GETAWAY () Tony Herlihy.
Race 8: The Dave & Clare McGowan trained BELLA ME () Nicole Molander.
Race 9: The Jeff Crouth trained STORMY SIROCCO () Gene Robb.
Race 10: The Brent Mangos trained and driven WILD ISIS ().
Duane RANGER (editor).