Paynter hoping to serve up a trotting feast

As Free as Air winning at the Cambridge Raceway earlier this year. - Photo: Chanelle Lawson
As Free as Air winning at the Cambridge Raceway earlier this year.

Photo: Chanelle Lawson

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Cambridge trainer Ross Paynter has an exciting couple of days ahead of him.

The appetiser will come at his home track on Thursday when he lines-up As Free As Air in the IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion Handicap Trot (2700m), with the main course coming a day later at Alexandra Park when Anditover competes in the Gr.1 Rowe Cup (3200m).

As a trotting enthusiast, the Rowe Cup has always been held in high regard by Paynter who previously finished fourth in the staying feature with Group One winner Lemond.

“It is the one race I would like to win,” he said.

“You need a pretty classy horse to do it. I had Lemond and he was right up to winning it but didn’t get a lot of luck in the run a couple of times, but still went good races.”

While Anditover isn’t in the same class as his former stablemate, Paynter is hopeful of a bold run from the son of Andover Hall after he returned to winning form a fortnight ago at Alexandra Park.

“He is a nice horse, he just lacks a bit of real speed,” Paynter said.

“The two miles will suit him. There are five or six there that are a lot classier than him, but the rest of them he can handle.

“But you just never know. You only need one of those good ones to have an off day.

“He is feeling really well and racing really well at the moment.”

While he is holding out hope of ticking a major bucket list item off on Friday, Paynter is looking forward to Cambridge Raceway’s Thursday meeting with As Free As Air.

The six-year-old mare returned to form when placing at Alexandra Park last week and Paynter said she will appreciate a return to Cambridge.

“She hasn’t done a lot of racing at Auckland, but she just cost herself around the last bend,” he said. “She should have really finished second, but it was a good run.

“She will be better going back left-handed this week.”

As Free As Air has won one and placed in three of her last five starts, with her only blemish coming at Cambridge two starts back when breaking at the start.

But Paynter has taken plenty of confidence from her last start and has entrusted her to the care of junior driver Luke Whittaker on Thursday.

“He has been ringing up for a while to drive her,” Paynter said. “She is not really a junior drivers horse but she is in really good form and she always behaves better over the 2700m.

“He is going to have a go on her this week to see if we can get a penalty free win.”


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