Day At The Track

Black turns to leading junior

07:40 PM 07 May 2016 NZST
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Harnesslink - Invercargill Harness Racing Club

Alister Black is enjoying his best ever season and has engaged the country's top junior driver Brad Williamson to make it even better for him at Invercargill Harness Racing Clubs meeting on Sunday.

Black's two representatives, Pulling the Strings and The Jinja Ninja are contesting races which will be penalty free to the winner if driven by a junior and won by a runner four years or older who hasn't previously won an exempt drivers race.

“H's been chasing one of these for a while,” Black said of Pulling the Strings who will start from the ace in the Level One Restaurant & Bar 2200 Mobile. “It's only the second time he's drawn one and he won the other time.”

A winner at Gore in October at his second start, Pulling The Strings by Shadow Play was one of three purchases by his Branxholme owners Lindsay and Ian Thomson at the 2013 premier sale. Of the others, Ossessione won a C0 pace on debut, and Abraham Jones a C0-C1 trot at his fifth start. Pulling The Strings was the least expensive, acquired for $10,000 after failing to meet the reserve.

When he won at Gore, Pulling The Strings was driven by Allan Beck, led from the outset and only had to be shaken up to hold his advantage. Three starts back, the four year old and Williamson clocked 2:41.0 when third in a 2200 mobile for junior drivers at Forbury Park, after starting from seven. Next time out he drew four in a small field on Diamonds Day and again finished third, this time in a spread out field behind the All-Stars winner Anychance.

Pulling The Strings was back at Gore a week later for his latest run. From two on the second line, he settled beyond midfield, got a cart up from the 1300 and sat parked for the last lap. After putting his nose in front before the turn, Pulling The Strings looked all over the winner until Happy Lou emerged from his cosy trip in the trail to grab victory.

From one, Black is hoping his charge can lead all the way.

“He's eating well, training well, I'm happy with him, I'd expect a bold showing.”

Son Of Brahma, Glenburn Joy and Erin Jaccka look likely to complete the first four

Early in December, The Jinja Ninja was a last-start winner, trained in Canterbury by Brent White. For her following start, she travelled to Invercargill and was driven by Williamson.

“She came down and spent two days here, and ran second to Grey Power,” Black said, “she'd been sold to Australia but the money didn't turn up. She was great mannered and I liked her speed, she had a bit of go.”

A week after her Invercargill start, The Jinja Ninja raced at Forbury Park for White. She finished second again, this time to Rowe Cup placegetter Queen Kenny. There was no grey area when Black contacted White and asked was she still for sale. The answer was yes and all Black required was enough time to confirm new connections. Pulling The Strings' owners, the Thomson brothers - on whose property Black trains – stepped up, so did Black's wife Sherree, along with Craig Milne and Peter Duggan.

The Jinja Ninja has had seven starts for the new team and won two of them, both in the past month. In the More FM Handicap Trot on Sunday The Jinja Ninja goes from 20 metres behind. That means the talented Sun's Invasion has a 10 metre advantage. However, The Jinja Ninja always requires time to settle and Black doesn't expect the the extra 10 at on its own, will worry his charge.

“She's well and her training is good,”he said.

In addition to Suns Invasion, Way To Go and Mass Invasion are the 'Ninja's' quality opponents.

By Mac Henry

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