Big shoes to fill for Claude
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Claude will be out to continue his family’s legacy when he makes his debut in the Dunstan Recovery Mash Mobile Pace (2200m) at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday.
He will carry the same colours as his Group One-winning grandam Flight South, who gave Andrew and Lyn Neal their biggest moment in racing when winning the Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at the turn of the century.
Andrew Neal, who also bred and owns the gelding, will take the reins on Thursday and said he has inherited the family talent.
“He is a handy horse,” Neal said. “He has taken a little while to come to it, but I think we are there now.”
Claude has drawn the four marble and Neal expects he will have no problem taking an early lead.
“He is extremely quick off the gate,” he said. “I think he will roll forward, that is what he has been doing (in his workouts).
“I pulled him back in his last workout to put him in behind, but it is a bit of a battle to get him in behind. He does roll off the gate really quick.”
Claude’s dam, Monets Daughter, was initially raced by the Neals before being sold and transferred to Palmerston North trainer Stephen Doody’s barn, for whom she won three races.
While her owners enjoyed racing the mare, they weren’t in favour of entering the breeding game with her and approached Neal about that prospect upon her retirement.
“The mother, Monets Daughter, won three and probably didn’t show her best on the racetrack, she always had a bit more there,” Neal said.
“She was never a front-runner but she usually raced covered and would go well for a short dash. This guy is completely different.
“They (Owens, owners) rang me up and asked if I wanted to breed one because they didn’t want to breed out of the mare. I said I would take the chance.”
Claude remains Monets Daughter’s only foal, and Neal is contemplating utilising her again after the talent shown by Claude.
“I did think about maybe breeding another one, but we have got quite a few. She is sitting there to be bred from,” Neal said.
“We have had a lot of success from that breed.”