Day At The Track
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Gareth Hughes must know how Aramis feels. The pair are only just starting their careers but have both done so with impressive strike rates, which they hope to continue in the first, and best, race at Alexandra Park tonight. Hughes has joined his father Brian, one of the most astute trainers in New Zealand for three decades, in partnership this season and won with his very first horse to the races before Aramis has gone on a winning run. “Its been a super start and I feel very lucky to have the chance to train with Dad after everything he has already taught me,” says the likable 31-year-old. The stable’s superstar The Orange Agent has been back jogging for five weeks and is being aimed at the Auckland Cup meeting, which could set up a stunning mares clash with Dream About Me and Better B Amazed in the Queen Of Hearts. But while she has been recovering from injury, Amaris has emerged as one of the more promising three-year-olds in the country, having already beaten subsequent Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing. Three-year-olds taking on mid-class older pacers at this stage of the season are rare but the Hughes men want to keep Aramis ticking over before the upcoming Sires’ Stakes heats so he has little option but tonight’s opening race. His ace draw will ensure he starts favourite although punters could find it a mixed blessing as Aramis was crossed from the same position last start at Cambridge, being pushed back to last before unleashing a blistering sprint to beat a weaker field than what he meets tonight. But Gareth Hughes says he is not concerned about a repeat of those early worries. “I think the problem at Cambridge was he was new to the track and gawking around a little bit,” he explains. “I think he should be fine back at Alexandra Park and if he can lead I think he would be comfortable there. “He will be hard to beat but horses like Valor Lustre have been racing well so it won’t be an easy race to win.” Valor Lustre has made enormous improvement for in-form trainer Steve Telfer and is the free-going mare does get in front of Aramis should could take catching while Raptors Flight is worth taking note of as he looked sharp at the recent workouts and should be in for a good campaign. The Hughes stable also has talented maiden Miss Keasha in race four tonight and while she won’t be a maiden for long Hughes is not bursting with confidence. “These maiden races at Alexandra Park can be really hard to win from wide draws so she will need some luck at some stage.” Michael Guerin

Hughies Sister is nothing like her big brother – the 2015 Auckland Cup runner-up, Hughie Green, but it appears they do possess one thing in common - their mother’s ability to pace. That’s the opinion of her new co-trainer Gareth Hughes. As of August 1, the 31-year-old officially joined forces with his father Brian (Bunty) at Ardmore. He has, however, been working alongside him for much of his life. The Bunty Hughes trained Alta Serena was a multiple Group One winning mare, who won 21 races and $593,618. Hughie Green is her third and most successful foal with 11 wins here and four in Australia (A$227,438). His full Art Major sister, Hughies Sister (foal number five), won effortlessly the right-handed way around at the Pukekohe Workouts yesterday (Tuesday). The Hughes’ trained filly was having her first start as a three-year-old. Hughes (Gareth) liked his first sniff of victory with his father – albeit a low key winter workout.  “She couldn’t be more different to her older brother. For one, she’s not as big, and two she also has a completely different nature. She’s kinder. “The filly is a real work in progress. Every time she has stepped off the track she has gone better. She has a lot of stamina and tries hard, which is encouraging. That’s all we can ask for,” Hughes said. Driver, Josh Dickie, trailed with Hughies Sister and they were then three-deep before going to sit parked at the 800m. They then cruised home to win the maiden 2050m mobile by a length stopping the clock in 2:41.7 (mile rate 2:06.9) and came home in 60.6 and 28.2. Hughies Sister qualified 1.3 seconds under time (left handed) at Pukekohe on November 26. Hughes said she would finally make her race-night debut at Alexandra Park on August 25. He hopes by then he will have officially trained his first winner. Hughes and his father have two horses nominated for Friday’s first meeting of 2017-2018 at Alexandra Park, and he thought either of them could break his duck. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will drive Marcy Runkle from gate five in race four, while Todd Macfarlane will steer Kaitlyn from barrier three in the last of the nine races. “I think they are both good each-way chances. It would be a great way to kick off our training career together if either, or both of them won. “It’s a bit of an honour to be training with Dad. He’s taught me a lot over the years and given me a lot of confidence with the horses. He’s also put a fair bit of trust in me. Not many people get to work with their fathers. It’s a privilege,” Hughes said. The well-bred Marcy Runkle (Mach Three - Pullover Brown) should start one of the favourites after finishing fourth and then second (both from gate one) at Alexandra Park on July 14 and 21. Both of those starts were over the 1700m mobile and the step up to 2200m should suit her nicely. Kaitlyn can also go close in the $14,500 NISBA Winter Bonus Fillies & Mares Pace. Her only win came on the track and over Friday’s distance back in November - when she also drew the ace. Her most recent form-line of 2-2-4 says it all really in what looks a match-race with the Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson trained Pakipaki (Philip Butcher), who has drawn three spots wider at six (of seven). Duane Ranger

Youshallnotpass has been a beaten favourite in all three of her starts, and even the quietly spoken and ever-humble Gareth Hughes believes she is due a winning turn at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Friday). The 3-year-old American Ideal filly looks one of the ‘bets of the night’ at the seven-race (71 nominations) Harness Racing Waikato meeting. Her natural progression and her ace draw should see her near or on the pace – and then win. “She’s trained on well since resuming from a couple of months away from the races. That night she finished an encouraging second and earlier on she has done a bit of work in her races so that will put her in good stead here. She’s been freshened well for this and Dad thinks she should go close,” Hughes said. The ‘Dad’ he was referring to is South Auckland trainer Brian (Bunty) Hughes. His son is the ‘silent training partner’ who does a lot of the hard yards at their Ardmore stable. Youshallnotpass will line up in the sixth event – the James' Waikato TAB Maiden Pace. All three of her starts have been at Cambridge Raceway. “She’s the only one we are taking to Cambridge and hopefully she will make the trip worth our while. She’s a big filly who still has quite a bit of developing to do. She’s starting to learn what racing is all about and will win one soon,” Hughes (Gareth) said, Youshallnotpass qualified 4.1 seconds under time at Pukekohe on January 30 last year and was then put aside before making her race debut with a second behind Opoutama on September 8. A fortnight later she finished third behind Lady Madonna and Brookes Rose, before resuming with a second behind Rocknroll Lincoln on December 30. Tonight’s she will have Todd Macfarlane in the bike for the first time after Maurice McKendry drove her in her previous three starts. McKendry is committed to the pacer he trains – Shanocon, who has drawn four on the second line. All three of Youshallnotpass’s races have been over tonight’s 2200m mobile distance. Her times have been and 2:45 flat, 2:49.1 and 2:44 even last start. “She’s got the ability to take the next step up. She is just a work in progress and even though we both like her a lot we are not thinking any further ahead than once race at a time with her. “To say she is a Jewels horse at this early stage of her career would be silly because we all know that racehorses can let you down and surprise you at the same time. All we can say is that she is a very nice pacer in the making,” said Hughes. “I think she will just keep improving because she needed those first couple of runs,” he added. Youshallnotpass also drew the ace last start and was beaten for speed early. She trailed fifth favourite Hezaluckygrinner and by the time she wound up in the straight Rocknroll Lincoln and David Butcher had stolen a march. “She unwound real nice that night and we were pleased with the way she sprinted her last 100 metres. She has the breeding to go on with it,” Hughes said. She was bred by Hughes (Bunty) and co-owner John Green. The bay filly is fourth of six foals out of the Artiscape mare, Twice As Great, who in turn was out of the five-win Butler B G mare, Twice As Great. Duane Ranger

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