Huge night for the Messengers at Cambridge
By Barry Lichter
Elderly Taranaki owners Alan and Lyn Messenger will surely set a record when they trek north to Cambridge on Friday.
Alan, 86, and Lyn, 75, have five horses they bred racing from the White Star barn of Nicky Chilcott, all related and all bar one uncannily drawn five.
And, appropriately, all five trace back to their talented mare Attsa Nice (six wins) one of the first pacers they bought after approaching Chilcott out of the blue two decades ago because they wanted to switch codes and have a woman trainer.
Messenger Buoy (race four) is Attsa Nice’s last foal, and the other four are out of daughters of Attsa Nice - Lyn's Delight the dam of Village Rebel (race six) and Sheza Mermaid (race two) and Princess Kate, the mother of Katies Princess (race seven) and Vincents Girl (race five).
For the Messengers, who celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary earlier this year, the night will rank as one of their best achievements in nearly 24 years with Chilcott - regardless of the results.
“I never thought we’d have five racing in one night - hopefully we can get a few into the money,” Lyn Messenger said.
Finishing in the money has been a trademark of the Messenger-Chilcott combination since the initial horse they bought as a yearling, Devine Temptation, won the first of his six races in 2002.
The Messengers have now cheered home 43 winners in the orange and white silks and become a mainstay of the White Star operation.
“They’re the kind of loyal owners that trainers dream about,” Chilcott said.
“They’ve had good runs and bad like everyone, had a few that have been average and been sacked.
“It’s fantastic for them to have five racing on one night, not many owners even from the big stables can say they’ve done that.”
Ironically, the two horses Chilcott rates her best chances on Friday night are both Messenger favourites - Katies Princess and Village Rebel.
“Katie is my favourite, Lyn Messenger said. “She’s a lovely mare and could end up our best.
“Sam (Village Rebel) is Alan’s horse. He was a bit of a rebel when we had him at home and used to bully Katie.”
Chilcott knows Katies Princess has the job ahead of her beating Wicked Wanda but says her high gate speed and manners will stand by her.
“I couldn’t be happier with her, she’s jumping out of her skin. Leah (Hibell) will go forward on her and she’s versatile, she can follow good speed or run home off a slow pace.”
Village Rebel, on the other hand, is more a one-trick pony, albeit a very good one, who needs a solid tempo.
A huge surprise packet last season, when he won three on end and ran third behind Copy That and Hot And Treacherous in a New Zealand record-run race at Cambridge, Village Rebel has found it tougher this time in.
“I told the Messengers this year would be difficult for him.
“He came back quite highly rated, yet he’s very inexperienced and mentally so weak it’s not funny.”
That said, Chilcott says Village Rebel has had no luck this campaign, ending up parked for driver Sailesh Abernethy in his latest two runs at Auckland.
“You can’t do that every start so we’ll be looking for a softer run this time to get his confidence back.”
Chilcott can’t tell you whether Village Rebel is ready to win.
“It’s hard to get a line on him. He’s a terrible trackworker, always has been.
“Can he win? Absolutely, but he needs the race to be run hard.”
Of the Messenger’s other runners, Chilcott had the following tips:
Vincents Girl: “I’ve been disappointed with her last couple of starts - I thought she’d find more. Everything suggests she’s on top of her game - I can’t fault her work - but she’s been up for a while and if she races below par I might freshen her up.”
Messenger Buoy: “He didn’t seem himself last start - he was quite naughty - but I’ve given him a freshen-up and he seems really well. His workout on Saturday was good - he ran to the line nicely - and he’s a definite top three chance.”
Sheza Mermaid: “She lacks a bit of speed. I’ll press forward from the draw and hope for a bit of luck but she’ll need to show some improvement.”
The Messenger’s tally - 43 and counting
Devine Temptation 6
Attsa Nice 6
Love Life 1
Diamond Smile 4
Lyn's Delight 2
Princess Kate 8
Lindennys Star 2
Ally Mae 4
Village Rebel 4
Katies Princess 5
Vincents Girl 1