Leningrad scores maiden victory
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Kevin Chapman is contemplating adding mental skills coach to his resume after nursing Leningrad to his maiden win at Addington Raceway on Friday night.
The Master Glide gelding has been a handful for his owner-breeder-trainer over the last few years, with his anxiety getting the better of him.
But Chapman took a patient approach with his gelding and has slowly worked on trying to improve his mental game, and that paid dividends when he led nearly all the way in the hands of driver Tim Williams to win the IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion. Mobile Trot (1980m).
Chapman was philosophical about the time it has taken to get the gelding right and he was rapt with Friday’s result.
“All trotters take a wee while to get it sorted, he has just taken five years,” Chapman quipped.
“He is quite a hard horse to train. He just gets anxiety and is a bit funny about his space. You just have to go with the flow and wait on him.
“He can trot alright. If he can sort it mentally, he has got more wins in him. Being a trotter, you have to get it right mentally.
“He has got a nice, easy, fluid way of trotting, he has just got to get his head around it, that is all.”
Chapman was full of praise for Williams’ front-running drive behind the gelding.
“Tim has been good to him all the way through with helping him along,” Chapman said.
“He could easily have got things wrong with him. He is one of those horses where if things go wrong, he doesn’t know how to cope.
“He has kept him on an even keel, and we haven’t been in a huge rush.”
Leningrad has been a huge time investment, but fiscally, not so much.
Chapman purchased his dam, American-bred Donerail mare Taieri Spirit, carrying Leningrad for $300.
“I had an earlier foal out of her called Majestic Spirit,” Chapman said. “He had quite a lot of ability too, but he just couldn’t go left-handed so I sent him to John Dickie (in Auckland), and John won a race with him.
“Because I had him, I spotted her in the broodmare sale and I bought her for $300.
“She was by Donerail out of a Garland Lobell mare, out of a mare by Sir Taurus. There wasn’t much close-up in the pedigree, but back in the pedigree there were some quite nice horses.”
Meanwhile, Chapman is hoping his former dual Group One winner Locharburn gets more support at stud this breeding season.
The Christian Cullen 11-year-old is standing his fourth season at Phoebe Stud for a competitive service fee of $1,000+GST, with an early bird special of $800+GST if paid by September 30.
“It is really hard for local horses to get patronage,” Chapman said.
“His oldest now are yearlings, rising two-year-olds, and everyone who has had one or broken one in has been happy.
“I have got three here that have broken-in really easily and go really nice.
“He deserves a chance because people don’t realise how good he really was. He was phenomenally good and tough. There is no reason why he wouldn’t leave a good horse.”