Day At The Track
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By Garrick Knight You’d forgive Ben Laughton for having one eye on next Tuesday when he steers two horses around at the Rangiora meeting today. The Canterbury junior driver pilots a couple of modest chances at the twilight meeting and it will be quite an upset if either wins. So, it’s understandable that he’s more thinking about making his New Zealand Cup Day debut at Addington next Tuesday. His boss, Dean Taylor, together with the owners, have entrusted him to continue his association with Go Davey in a $25,000 sprint. “I’m pretty excited. “It’s a few days away yet, but the nerves are already starting to kick in. “It’s definitely going to be a real thrill to go out there in front of 20,000 people, as well as all my family and friends. “And the best part is that it’s a couple of races before the Cup so it’s right when the day is at its peak rather than the first or last.” He’s been driving Go Davey in all his recent racing and says he’s immensely grateful to get the opportunity on such a big stage. “Dean left the decision up to the owners and they’ve been really good to me in that sense. When a senior horseman couldn’t drive him earlier in the year, they put me straight on and fortunately I’ve been with him ever since.” The pair have already won two races together and Laughton credits him as being “a consistent horse that always tries his best”. “It’s a bit different to what we’ve had recently, which is standing starts. This week it’s a mobile and he’s drawn to get a drag along. “Being Cup day, the speed should be on all the way and his staying ability should come in to it.” His best chance at Rangiora today is Glory Days in the junior drivers’ race, but her chances have been cruelled by a couple of scratchings, meaning she’s on the inside of the second line. “And the horse in front of her is a sit-sprinter that will be looking for cover, so we are going to be three or four back on the fence. “She’s not the worst in the field and looks a good place chance.” Another of Laughton’s regular drives is the veteran, Flamboyant, who he partners in the days’ feature pace. “He probably hasn’t come back as good from his break but I would forget his last start at Addington; he galloped going up to the gate and cut his quarter. “There was blood everywhere when we returned to the stable and that will explain why I couldn’t steer him in to the passing lane.” “He’s off 15 metres but does step really well, though I will be looking to drive him quietly.” Bookies opened both of his Rangiora drives at $41 and $8 yesterday afternoon. Even though he’s unlikely to record a winner in the next seven days, Laughton, with 17 wins to his name, is just grateful to be extended opportunities. “Every meeting where my name is in the race book is a positive. That’s the way I look at it. “The more times people see my name the better.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Young harness racing trainer Chris Butt rocked punters yesterday (Sunday) when he trained and drove Imran Khan to win the second race at Rangiora as an unwanted outsider on the TAB tote. Imran Khan (Pegasus Spur - Maysoon) was having his fourteenth start as a maiden trotter but never looked like losing when he led shortly after the start and held a clear advantage into the home straight. Chris Butt rated the five year old gelding to perfection in front and only had to keep the horses mind on the job up the lane as he held on well to beat Bright Glow and Ian Cameron by a length at the line. The 2600m journey was trotted in a solid 3-24.7 with a closing 800m in 60.6 seconds.  Imran Khan paid $55.50 for the win and $12.00 for a place and provided a $318.00 quinella with the second placed Bright Glow. Imran Khan winning easily at Rangiora All going well Imran Khan will have his next start on the grass surface at Methven next Sunday. Later in the day junior driver Ben Laughton notched up his first winning drive, when successful behind the Robbie Holmes trained The Golden Boy in a twelve horse maiden field. The Golden Boy powered straight to the front from the mobile and held on easily to beat Airpark Flyer and Dexter Dunn. The time for the 2600m was 3-23.6 with a final 800m in 59.0 seconds. Harnesslink Media    

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