Day At The Track

Saveapatrol ready to win

05:29 AM 26 Jun 2015 NZST
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Saveapatrol and Blair Orange return to the birdcage as winners of the 2014 Invercargill Cup.
Saveapatrol and Blair Orange return to the birdcage as winners of the 2014 Invercargill Cup.
Nicole Gourley Photo

A decision to operate on an unknown injury has given harness racing star Saveapatrol a second chance.

In early 2014, Saveapatrol, was one of the most promising pacers in the country but that ground to a halt when he pulled up sore after running third in the 2014 Auckland Cup behind Terror To Love and Adore Me.

Initial scans on the Mark Jones trained gelding could not pin-point the problem but Jones and owner Grant Hatton elected to open up his leg in an attempt to find what was troubling the son of Christian Cullen.

Surgery found a slight tear in his tendon that was too small to show up on the scans.

"We're lucky we did operate otherwise we could have ended up doing much more damage," Jones said.

Getting his star pacer back to the track is a huge relief for Jones.

"When they go a miss like that you're never sure if you will get them back."

The Canterbury trainer is especially pleased for Hatton who has been patient throughout the injury layoff.

"We're lucky to have an owner like Grant who has given him the time to get him back to where he needs to be," Jones said.

Fifteen months of patience will come to fruition at Alexandra Park on Friday night when the now five-year-old contests the Auckland Trotting Club's $20,000 Winter Cup.

Saveapatrol has had two workouts at Rangiora and a trial at Addington in the lead up to Friday's assignment.

"He seems 100 per cent sound now so we are very happy with with where he is at," Jones said.

In the hands of Blair Orange, Saveapatrol will start off the 20m mark and despite the long lay off, Jones is confident of a bold showing.

"I'd like to think he should be winning really, he comes in pretty good on the handicaps so he should be pretty hard to beat," Jones said.

Saveapatrol is booked to board a plane for Brisbane on Monday for the the Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival.

Jones said Saveapatrol would have to fail badly on Friday night to change those plans.

Saveapatrol is ear-marked for four feature races worth a combined total of around $300,000 during the carnival.

"When he is right with a bit of racing under his belt I think he can be a grand circuit horse," Jones said.

The Queensland campaign will provide an ideal opportunity to get some quality racing under his belt before he comes back and prepares for a tilt at the New Zealand Trotting Cup.

Saveapatrol's last win came in January 2014 when he beat home Terror To Love, Arden Rooney and Franco Ledger to win the Group III Invercargill Cup.

Lightly raced, Saveapatrol won his first three starts and currently holds a record of ten wins and two placings from 16 starts for more than $130,000 in stakes.

Saveapatrol is out of the tough mare Rondel Franco who won 37 races from 153 starts for more than $650,000 in stakes across New Zealand, Australian and America.

There were plans to defend the Invercargill Cup this year but Jones pulled the pin when Saveapatrol was not quite ready.

By Mat Kermeen

Reprinted with permission of the Christchurch Press

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