The Travelling Man
A little perfect timing is allowing Gavin Smith to chase victories in two different islands within the space of 12 hours today.
A four-pronged attack on the opening day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club’s two day meeting at Richmond Park would normally be enough to keep a horse trainer tied down for the weekend. Gavin, however, will complete his duties at Nelson this afternoon before making a mad dash to the airport to get on a plane to Auckland to drive at Alexandra Park tonight.
“It works out about perfectly, I’ll get to Alexandra Park about 9pm all going well,” Gavin said.
Smith will take the drive on Sunny Ruby first up in Auckland and then pair up with Gavin Smith Racing Stables 2-year-old trotter, Di’z Luck later in the night.
Well beaten in behind Custodian at last week’s Harness Jewels, Gavin is a little more hopeful this week with Di’z Luck.
“We worked pretty hard early and then got left parked which wasn’t what we wanted.
“I thought we might have been able to slot in, but it didn’t work out.
“She didn’t go bad considering some of the work she did early, but I’m expecting her to go well this week.
“She’s never had a stand start in her life before, but her manners are pretty good. It’s a $12,000 race so it’s worth chasing and while I’m not declaring her the winner, I do think that if things go her way that she could get a decent slice of it anyway.”
Sunny Ruby fits into a similar boat to Di’z Luck.
She was extremely disappointing last week when beaten by Monbet in the 4-year-old Ruby.
“It was about 10 lengths below being anywhere near her best to be honest.
“We got a really good run in front but when I went for her there was nothing there. Sam (trainer Sam Smolenski) has had every test he could done this week and nothing has shown up, but he said she is really well within herself.
“You couldn’t back her with a great deal of confidence on last week’s run though.”
Back down in the Mainland earlier in the day, things looking promising with the stable’s contenders.
Allison Stokke, who incredibly is still a maiden, was a little unlucky last week at Ashburton despite being given every chance by Kim Butt. This week she drops into a field that should see her start a very warm favourite, and be hard to beat.
Things aren’t quite as clear cut for Melanie O’Hara who has drawn horribly out wide in a strong field.
“She’s going to need a lot of luck from out there, she will win a race soon though so she is worth following.”
Gavin had plenty of time for 3-year-old trotter He’s Like The Wind who tackles a small field in the feature trot.
“He’s had a bit of time off after racing twice in one weekend, I think he will be awfully hard to beat.
“We are actually toying with the idea of heading to Australia for the riches over there with him. At the moment it’s looking unlikely, but if we were even thinking about it he would want to be winning this one.”
Second behind Wilma’s Mate in the Sales Series Final for 2-year-old trotters, He’s Like The Wind went to Oamaru the next day to try and snare a Jewels berth on the final day of qualifying but it all went pear-shaped when he galloped on the last bend.
With his usual impeccable manners and just the six opponents, He’s Like The Wind should be on the speed and giving his followers a big show.
The stable’s fourth runner for the day is Chuck Norris, although he wasn’t he headed to Nelson at the start of the week.
“He was supposed to be kicking off in a workout on Wednesday, but they were struggling for numbers so it made sense to chuck him on the truck.
“He will be under done for this, I’ve got no doubt about that, but in saying that his work has been very good and I think he is the sort of horse who could win three of four pretty quickly.”
Gavin has just the two outside drives at Nelson today.
He teams up with former employee, Lawrence McCormick to drive It’s How You Use It who, in her most recent starts, has forgotten how to use her manners in her races. The ability is definitely there though and with a complete performance, a victory isn’t out of the realms of possibility.
Gavin’s other outside drive is Strawb’s Chippie for Paul Scott.
Another up against a good field, the daughter of Stonebridge Regal will be looking for all favours to sneak into the minor placings.