Hanara thriving under Herlihy’s guidance

By Garrick Knight

The racing game is all about opportunities for junior drivers and Taitlyn Hanara is not letting hers slip through her fingers.

Hanara drove L L Cool J to victory at Alexandra Park on Friday night, earning the best part of $8,000 for her employers, Tony and Suzanne Herlihy, who train and own the gelding respectively.

It’s Hanara’s fourth win in Herlihy’s famous colours this season and third since December 19 as she continues to develop her skills as a reinswoman.

“I’m getting more and more opportunities and I’m learning a lot working for the Herlihys,” she told HRNZ after the win.

“Really I’ve only been there a short time but the bosses are very good to me.”

Hanara had been hunting a penalty-free win with L L Cool J for a few starts and the combination had been knocking on the door with two minor placings in their recent efforts, at Cambridge and Rotorua.

From a wide draw she managed to slot in one out and two back over the 2700-metre trip and the raced panned out perfectly thereafter as Runcle and M T Pockets went ‘hammer and tongs’ up front.

As the leaders started to tire at the 600-metre mark, Hanara followed Lagertha on to the speed, headed it off and then defied a challenge from both Olivia Rachel and Cowgirls N Angels in a very willing finish.

“I was pretty with how everything went out there.

“The horse has been going super and deserved the win.

“His last couple of starts for me he’s had hard runs but stuck on well. It was really the driver’s fault.

“The race just panned out perfectly tonight.”

Hanara came in to the race optimistic that she would be in the thick of the finish.

“With all his lead-up races I was confident that he’d be in the money no matter what.

“What you see is what you get with the horse; he’s very laid back and just does the job.”

Hanara donned her teal pants for the drive and became the first North Island junior driver to salute in them this year.

“I was really keen to get a win on the board for Team Teal. It’s a great cause and all the juniors up here are behind it.

“Hopefully I can get a few more in the next month.”

L L Cool J was one of two winners on the seven-race card for Herlihy, who also scored a victory with his classy three-year-old trotter, Bolt For Brilliance.

*****

The Butcher name is a regular amongst winning drivers at Alexandra Park but not so much Shane, who won the last aboard two-year-old colt Mr Fantastic for Steven Reid.

Butcher, cousin of Zachary and Benjamin and nephew of David, recently moved to Pukekohe from Cambridge and works full-time as a farrier for the likes of Reid and Steve Telfer.

He’s more than handy in the cart though and looks like getting increased driving opportunities now that he’s based further north.

Mr Fantastic was impressive winning, sitting parked and wearing down the leader, Franco Nandor, driven by David Butcher for Ray Green.

Reid purchased Mr Fantastic, a son of Bettor’s Delight, for $62,500 out of the Woodlands Stud draft at last year’s Karaka yearling sale.

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