By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Andrew Neal has had a bit of luck with trotters he has selected from the yearling sales, and he is hoping that will continue at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday.
The local horseman has had success with previous sale buys including Group Two performer Credit Master and eight-win trotter Lucky Fortune, and $10,000 NZB Standardbred Yearling Sale purchase Winners Time will also don Neal’s light blue, gold and black chequered sash silks.
Neal’s original colours, most prevalent through the deeds of Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Flight South, have made a comeback in recent times on his sales purchases, with the remainder of the stable carrying the Neals familiar black and gold silks.
“They are my original colours that I had when I first started training back in the eighties,” Neal said.
“When Lyn (Neal, wife) and I went into partnership we came up with a new set of colours and I have just retained the other ones and use them on the horses I own myself.
“They have got to have an airing now and then, so they can go on a couple of the trotters.”
While he has a fondness for square-gaiters, Neal said his tendency to buy them at the yearling sales also comes down to price.
“They are affordable,” he said. “You can buy a well-bred trotter for reasonable money. The pacers are getting more expensive every year and the big players, if they want them they get them.
“There is some unreal money for the pacers, but with the trotters, the stake money hasn’t been as good for them, therefore people are not paying as much for them in the sales ring. But that is changing a bit now.”
Winners Time has had three trials leading into his debut in the Garrards Horse & Hound Pukekohe Trot (2200m) on Thursday, but Neal is realistic about his chances first-up.
“He is a handy enough horse. We have waited a while on him,” Neal said.
“He has reasonably good manners, but it is first-up and sometimes they take two or three starts to really settle into race conditions. He is a work in progress, he will just keep improving.”
Winners Time will be joined in the race by stablemate Trifolium who will be driven by Neal’s training partner and wife, Lyn.
The four-year-old gelding has made breaks in his first two starts this preparation and his trainers are hoping for improved manners this week.
“He made a break last week at the start, and two weeks ago he was over-racing in the trail fresh-up and he broke turning for home, but he is usually fairly good,” Neal said.
“I think they will both be reasonably close, especially Trifolium. Having his third start I think he will be a lot better for it.
“Winners Time we will just take on trust. Going into it he looks good, but I know from experience that first-up with trotters they can get a bit of stage fright.”
Neal will also have three other drives on the night, having answered the call of locked down South Auckland trainers Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson.
“It will be the most drives I have had in a meeting for many years,” Neal said.
“Logan rang me asking if I could drive one to start with and then he came back asking if I would drive all three.”
Neal is set to drive Drum Withers in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Mobile Pace (2200m), Four Kisses in the Sweet Lou @ Woodlands Tender By 29 Oct Mobile Pace (2200m), and last start winner Mach’s Back in the Breckon Farms Mobile Pace (2200m).
“Mach’s Back is a nice horse,” Neal said. “The other two don’t have favourable draws but I will speak with Logan and see how he wants them driven.
“They are handy enough horses but it will all depend on how the races pan out for them.”