South Auckland horseman Tony Herlihy took three horses south to Cambridge Raceway’s Wednesday meeting and he nearly came away with the perfect result.
Promising juvenile trotter I See Fire kicked the evening off in style, taking out the Black Dog Furniture Mobile Trot (1700m) comfortably by 16-1/4 lengths.
The son of Muscle Hill began well from his outside barrier and Herlihy elected to push forward for an early lead where he was able to dictate terms throughout.
I See Fire and his debut vanquisher Wanna Snuggle kicked clear of their rivals at the 500m mark, however, the pace told on Wanna Snuggle who broke when turning for home, while I See Fire kept his composure and ran away to an easy victory.
“I was very pleased, he has kept improving which is good with those young ones and I feel he is on the way up still,” Herlihy said.
“He trotted well and it is all experience for him at this stage. He shows a bit of natural ability, so hopefully he can just keep on improving a little bit more to be good enough to be competitive in those bigger races later on.”
Herlihy purchased I See Fire out of Breckon Farms’ 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred Yearling Sale draft for $60,000 and he said his breeding was a major drawcard.
“The Muscle Hill factor helped a lot,” Herlihy said. “He wasn’t a standout colt, but I liked him and he has grown into a really nice horse.
“He has never stopped improving with his physique since we have had him, he is still growing into a nice enough type and he is a lovely clean-gaited trotter.”
Two races later Herlihy was once again back in the winner’s circle after steering home The Situation to win the Chanelle Lawson Photography Mobile Pace (2200m).
The Sportswriter gelding was given an economical trip three back on the fence and the pair were able to navigate their way into clear racing room down the straight to win by a head over New York Minute and Doc Holiday.
“He was stopped at the 500m with nowhere to go for a while, but once he got clear he really rattled home well,” Herlihy said.
While Herlihy was pleased to record a winning double at Cambridge, he has now set his sights towards Alexandra Park on Friday night where he will have a number of stakes chances.
Group One performer Dina Brown has hardly put a foot wrong this preparation, recording two wins and four placings, including a last start runner-up performance behind Kendra at Alexandra Park last week.
The daughter of Bettor’s Delight will return to the Auckland track on Friday to compete in the Listed Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes Northern Mares Classic (2200m) and Herlihy is confident of a good showing from the mare.
“She has come back nice and strong this time in and she is better for that run last week, so hopefully she will be competitive again on Friday,” he said.
Herlihy is also looking forward to lining up last start Gr.3 The Founders Cup (2200m) placegetter Gambit in the Auckland Co-op Taxis 300-3000 City Of Auckland FFA Mobile Pace (2200m).
“He is another one who has done a really good job,” Herlihy said. “He’s kept stepping up from where he was last year. He shows a bit of promise and stamina.
“I quite like him, so hopefully he can get up. It’s a big ask in free-for-all conditions against these guys when he has only won five races, but he has handled himself well so far.”
Juvenile filly Platinum will represent Strike Won Racing Stables in the Gr.2 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) and Herlihy believes she will improve on her last start third-placing over 1700m at Alexandra Park.
“She has drawn (3) a bit better this week,” he said. “Robert Dunn’s filly (Passion and Power) is obviously very smart and very strong, so that will take a lot of beating again.
“I am pleased with the way she has come through it and she has kept stepping up too. Just a little bit more and we will be right in amongst it hopefully.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk