Kaikoura target for Baileys Knight


Jack Harrington is well aware that the New Zealand Cup will be a bridge too far for Baileys Knight this year but he was nevertheless rapt to get the smart Christian Cullen gelding back on track at Addington on Thursday night.

The five-year-old had made mistakes in varying degrees in each of his three races prior this season, but he was faultless this time and proved a class above Franco Texas and Kingmaker.

Harrington drove Baileys Knight himself and settled three-wide from the outside gate while Kingmaker and Franco Texas sorted out the lead before breezing to the front a lap out and from there they were never threatened.

Baileys Knight rolled home in sectionals of 57 and 28 for a 1.56.8-mile rate.

Dexter Dunn had been the regular driver of Baileys Knight last season but his departure for a working holiday in America opened the door for Sam Ottley when he resumed in the National Handicap at Addington in August.

Baileys Knight botched the standing start completely that night and also made a mistake behind the mobile a week later, although he recovered to finish a game third behind Saying Grace and Wrangler.

“I’d offered the drive to Sam at Methven last Sunday, but her mother (Denise) had Rocki Warrior engaged and she’s also been driving (legitimate Cup contender) Forgotten Highway lately,” said Harrington.

“I wasn’t too sure earlier in the week about backing up at Addington last night so I said to Sam to go ahead and take another drive if you can.”

Harrington is a more than capable junior driver and while he’s already focussing on the training side of things, he’s a pretty handy Plan B when required and knows Baileys Knight’s foibles better than anyone.

Methven proved a disaster when Baileys Knight, the favourite from a handicap of 30m, broke without warning when parked at the 500m and wiped out several other runners.

“He’s a daisy-cutter and just stumbled for no real reason and we had nowhere to go.”

Baileys Knight has had a bit of a habit of making such mistakes, but he’s always had a touch of class as well, and Addington was his sixth win while taking his stakes to $58,000.

“I’ve always thought that next year’s New Zealand Cup was a more realistic ambition, but when I looked at the noms this year, they were pretty spread around so we chucked him in just in case.

“We’ll just plot our own course with him and see what happens – if he makes the field, well and good, and if not the Junior FFA will be a nice race for him.

“His Grand Final for the moment is really the Sales race for aged horses at Kaikoura.”

Baileys Knight was bought for $12,500 from the Premier Sale by Paul Court for Lin Lang and qualified as an early two-year-old for them before Harrington became aware he was on the market again.

“Paul had Mongolian Hero and Storm shaping as good two-year-old prospects and Baileys Knight looked like he needed more time.

“I’d broken in at least 40 yearlings for Paul and you could say we were in the right place at the right time to secure him.”

Harrington and his father Dave took a share in Baileys Knight, but outside of the colourful Peter Baken, the rest of the owners could be said to be novices in the game and would be honoured to have a New Zealand Cup starter.

They include Jeff Lewis, the father of junior driver Mikayla, while Francis Renner has horses with Gavin Smith and “roped in” his friend Brent Fechney.

Meanwhile, Harrington is happy with the progress of Hey Yo ahead of racing at Oamaru on Sunday although he concedes she is taking longer to get race fit than anticipated and is still only at about 80 per cent.

“I’m setting her for the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup on Sunday week and we really need to get another race into her this weekend.”

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