Henry Hubert clinches Hannon title
By Jonny Turner
Henry Hubert left himself with an important work-on as he sprinted to a front-running victory in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday.
Reinsman Tim Williams took charge of the Group 3 feature by producing its only mid-race move to help the Robert and Jenna Dunn trained six-year-old recover from a slow start to win.
Christchurch owners Ross and Angela Gordon were taken on something of a roller-coaster ride by Henry Hubert’s early break and Williams’ key mid-race move, but their journey ended exactly where they wanted.
“It was great, Tim handled the horse really well,” Ross Gordon said.
“He went pretty well last week and Tim said he had a handful of horse when he finished fourth in behind them.”
“He has just got to work on those starts now.”
A lack of mid-race pressure saw Henry Hubert register the slowest Hannon Memorial win since Bailey’s Dream took out the feature event on a wet Oamaru track in 2007.
Though it played into his camp’s hands on Sunday, with the six-year-old unleashing a 54.5sec final 800m to win, that kind of tempo is generally not what the six-year-old prefers.
“He can follow speed good, he is better if he is out bowling along,” Gordon said.
“They ran home in 54sec today but that is really not his go that sprint, he likes to be up and going all of the time.”
Ross Gordon wasn’t able to make it to Oamaru on Sunday with the impacts of the country’s COVID situation keeping him busy with his business, Telfers Electrical.
But it’s extremely unlikely the owner will miss his pacer’s third New Zealand Cup tilt following his sixth in 2019 and fourth placing in 2020.
“You never know, racing is a funny game but all things being equal if he is there on Cup day he will acquit himself pretty well.”
Robyns Playboy charged out of the pack to run another second in the Hannon Memorial after being runner-up to Classie Brigade in the race last year.
The Ross and Chris Wilson trained pacer got within a neck of Henry Hubert in an outstanding first effort of the season.
Classie Brigade, who was responsible for much of the race’s slow early tempo, fought on well for third in his quest for back-to-back Hannon titles.
Pembrook Playboy ran to the line hard on the back of Henry Hubert without having seen clear racing room at all in the home straight.
The Nathan Williamson trained and driven four-year-old was in a perfect spot in the trail early before being shuffled to three back on the markers when Henry Hubert took the lead with a lap to go.
Sunday’s feature trot was taken out by the hot favourite Majestic Lavros and driver Samantha Ottley.
The Mark Jones trained six-year-old prevailed in a tight finish over runner up B D Yasothon.