Best Western gets the Northern Oaks
NZ HARNESS NEWS
Two of the game’s quiet achievers recorded their first Group 1 winners when Best Western took out the $125,000 Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The bonny filly trailed throughout and capitalised on a passing lane run to win the time-honoured feature in New Zealand Record time at bolter’s odds of $38.
It gave her Pukekohe trainer, Jeremy Young, and driver, Sailesh Abernethy, memorable first wins at the highest level.
For Young, who was once Auckland Reactor’s strapper and caretaker in America, it made all the hard work he’s putting in since he started training in 2013 worth it.
“It’s a massive career highlight – it still hasn’t sunk in,” he said post-race.
“It’s been a bit of hard work to get horses like that but, finally, I’ve got one.”
The filly is owned by Andrew Grierson, head of Woodlands Stud, and Young only got her to train after building up the courage to ask Grierson out of the blue if he would place one in his stable.
Grierson ended up giving him two, and their relationship has blossomed from there.
“When he said that I could have one, then said I had another one, it was a big help.
“Not only is it getting me horses it’s helping keep me going.
“Without guys like Andrew, and even Ivan Bridge pushing me, I may not be here.”
With the two hot favourites, Wainui Creek and Belle Of Montana, leading and in the one-one respectively, it looked like they might fight out the finish.
But Young had other ideas.
“I was definitely thinking we could win it before the race because she’s probably not a short distance horse but she likes the longer trip.
“American Empress was a bit the same. She’s probably lacking the high speed of Barry’s horse (Belle Of Montana) but over a longer distance she can just keep maintaining it and just keeps going.
“I gave it a massive yell half way down the straight I was so excited.”
Plans for the horse aren’t set in stone yet, but the trainer knows what the immediate future holds for him.
“It’s all about looking after the horse first.
“I haven’t even thought about what to do or where to go with her.
“I’ll have a couple of quiet beers tomorrow and celebrate and work out where we are going after that.”
Young also paid tribute to Abernethy, the pair having formed a strong combination for a number of seasons now.
“He’s a hidden talent, I think.
“A light weight and they do run for him.
“He’s been around the game long enough now to work things out on the track and know what he has to do.
“I owe a lot of this to him, as well.”
Abernethy has always been rather media-shy but made an exception after tonight’s big win.
He acknowledged the support he’s had from Young for a number of seasons.
“It was good to repay the faith that Zinny (Young) has shown in me. He’s always good to drive for.”
Abernethy didn’t quite have Young’s confidence pre-race, but said the strong tempo and Best Western’s sheer gutsiness came out on top.
“It was great when Wainui Creek held the front; I always knew we’d be a chance when that happened.
“She’s a good little stayer and really dug in tonight.
“When Zac’s horse (Belle Of Montana) got out, I thought she might have had too much speed for us, but the New Zealand record worked in our favour.
“I probably thought she could run in three if we trailed, so to win was a real bonus.”
Belle Of Montana was a close second while Wainui Creek was another short margin away in third.
Earlier in the night, Jack’s Legend continued his rich vein of form with a strong all-the-way win in the $30,000 The Founders Pace, holding off stablemate Mach Shard.
Bonnie Highlander landed some betting plunges when comfortably winning the $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes for trotting fillies and mares.
Mossdale Rose, in foal and nearing retirement, won the $20,000 Charles Roberts NISBA Stakes while the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen won both juvenile races with hot favourites, Sweet On Me and Smooth Deal.