News

Southern mare goes back-to-back in north

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Canterbury mare Valor Lustre made it two North Island wins in eight days when winning at Alexandra Park last night (Friday).

The daughter of McArdle bested a quality field to win the night’s most tightly-assessed pace, the $17,000 NRM Handicap.

Steve Telfer officially took over the training before Friday night’s win, but he had been looking after the mare for Rolleston owner Ivan Court since he sent her north in June.

Her first couple of starts in Auckland were lacklustre efforts - running eighth both times – though Telfer says she had excuses.

“She got a virus a few months ago and she had been struggling with the effects of that when she first got up here.“Her work had been just fair and she raced accordingly.

“But with a bit of time and care she came right and her work the last two or three weeks has been really good.”

Valor Lustre won after sitting parked at Cambridge last Thursday in the hands of Andre Poutama for what was his first win as a driver in over two months, This was despite accruing a personal best season last term with 33 winners.

The pair backed that up again on Friday night, coming from off the speed to down the very well-backed favourite Max Phactor in a stirring finish.

Telfer says Court, a potato and onion farmer, planned to breed the seven-year-old mare this Spring, a natural progression given she was Group 1-placed at Addington in 2016.

It’s not the first time the pair has combined for success, either.

“Ivan is a friend of the family and my sister, Mandy, stays with him when she takes our runners down south.

“He has sent a few horses up to us over the past couple of years and this one and Ardent Lustre are the latest.

“It was a good start to the night for Telfer, who won the first race, too, with pint-sized three-year-old Parker.

He was against a field of older horses but managed to get over the top of them late thanks to a charmed David Butcher drive.

“I didn’t think he’d win tonight, to be honest,” said Telfer.“He can switch on and off a bit in his races and still has a lot to learn.

“But they went hard enough up front that he never had time to lose focus.”