Group One-winning trotter Lemond is set to head south to Canterbury this week to join Paul Nairn’s Leeston barn.
It’s a big loss for the northern trotting ranks and former trainer Ross Paynter’s stable, but he was philosophical about the move.
Lemond has been recovering from a stress fracture to his tibia he sustained late last year and Paynter said it is pragmatic to send Lemond south ahead of his major target of the year, the Gr.1 Dominion Trot (3200m) at Addington in November.
“His rehab has been coming along really well. He has just been out in a paddock, but we x-rayed him a couple of months ago and everything looked perfect,” Paynter said.
“He is well and truly ready to start doing a little bit of work down there. He goes down this week.
“Charlie (Hunter, owner) is going to send him down to Paul Nairn to train, just so he’s not off too big of a handicap like he is up here.
“It probably fits in a lot better down there the way he can come up for the Cup meeting with the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup and the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile.
“It’s a bit of a shame to lose him, but it is probably the best thing for the horse.”
Paynter has a close association with Lemond, having bred the son of Love You. Hunter purchased him as a yearling and entrusted him to the care of Paynter, who trained with Sean McCaffrey at the time.
He had 56 starts for Paynter for 15 wins and 15 placings, the highlight being his victory in the Gr.1 ANZAC Cup at Alexandra Park (2200m).
While Lemond is a big loss to the stable, Paynter is glad to be back training at Cambridge Raceway after a five week hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions.
“It’s good to get some of the horses back in and going again,” Paynter said. “We are working about 14, the numbers are down a bit.
“We had about 20-odd in work prior to the lockdown. We have got a few that will stay out and see how we go. It’s not going to be easy going forward. The owners are probably going to find it a little bit tough.
“We are doing a lot of work with our yearling trotters at the moment. We have got a nice Muscle Hill filly that we haven’t done too much with, but she is pretty well bred being out of Iwi Alex. She has got a bit of promise.”
Paynter has earmarked July as a realistic timeframe to get his first runners back to the races and he is particularly looking forward to the return of lightly-raced trotter Molly Bones.
“I’m look at about July roughly,” Paynter said. “They have had the five weeks out now. We fast worked them (our racing team) the day before lockdown so they shouldn’t take too long to get back racing.
“Molly Bones was racing really well before Lockdown. We will just press on with her and see what happens.
“Majestic Sunrise won just before lockdown. We have him under offer at the moment to the States, so we will just see what eventuates there.”
While not ideal, Paynter said he enjoyed the break from racing over the lockdown period as he was able to spend quality time with his young family.
“It was pretty easy going in lockdown, you couldn’t do much,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time with the kids, which has been quite nice because I don’t get to spend a lot of time with them when you are racing all the time.” – Cambridge Raceway