City test for Taranaki pacer
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Hawera trainer Willie Fleming will make the long trek up to Auckland this week where he is set to line-up a couple of runners at Alexandra Park on Friday.
His charge will be led by in-form pacer Run Mason Run who will have his first start away from Cambridge Raceway when he contests the Lazarus, He’s Coming Home Mobile Pace (2200m).
The four-year-old gelding has had seven career starts, all at the Waikato track, for two wins and three placings, including a last start victory late last month.
He just has the one blemish on his record, finishing 10th over 2700m in May, but Fleming said he was to blame for the result.
“When he failed there in his first start after coming back it was my mistake, I should never have put him in a 2700m first-up,” Fleming said.
“The placing in his next start was a good run, but he was doing a few things wrong, he was pulling a bit. Hopefully we have got him a bit more settled now.”
Fleming is heading to uncharted territory with the gelding on Friday but is hopeful of a solid city debut.
The Hawera horseman cited his stablemate Rory McIlroy as the reason for heading north, with the seven-year-old gelding favouring Alexandra Park’s right-handed way of going.
He will line-up in the Lone Star Alexandra Park Mobile Pace (2200m) after last racing a near nine-month hiatus from racing.
“He has always gone better going right-handed and I tried to make him go left-handed without much success,” Fleming said. “We will stick to right-handed and see how he goes.
“I took him to the workouts and he went okay, so we will press on and give him a look up there and see where he is at, but no doubt he will need the run.”
While Alexandra Park is a fair hike from Hawera, Fleming said he is lucky he can stay at good friend Rhys Fensom’s place in Pukekohe to help break up the journey.
“I will go up on Thursday afternoon and stay with Rhys Fensom. It is just over five hours from here to Pukekohe,” Fleming said.
The Fleming name has long been associated with Taranaki harness racing, and while the sport is facing its struggles in the region, he is proud to continue his family’s legacy in the sport, nearly a century on.
“I have got a photo of my old man driving at Hawera in 1938, so we go back a bit,” Fleming said. “There are plenty of Flemings in the game here (Taranaki).”
While he had previous family involvement in racing, Fleming said he wasn’t involved in the sport in his formative years.
“I kept out of it when I was a young fella,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was 30 until I got into it. I had always followed it but never had any horses, but I slowly got into it in the early nineties.”
Fleming labelled stakes performer Matai Man as one of the best horses to have gone through his barn, while a career highlight was taking six-win gelding Romantic Star to America.
“I sent him to Ray Sharpe and went over and drove him in the warm-up at Meadowlands, that was a bit of a buzz, looking down the straight at the Empire State building in the distance,” he said.
“He won four for me over there and then I sold him.”