Local trotter to the fore at Cambridge

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

As Free As Air finally found some luck at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night and took advantage of it.

The Ross Paynter-trained mare has had a bad run of things of late, highlighted by losing driver Andre Poutama in the Trotters Gold Cup at Cambridge last Saturday.

Poutama was back in the bike on Thursday and the pair had no such trouble this time, taking a front-running role and holding on for a three-quarter length victory over The Last Gamble, with Our Gracie a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third.

Paynter was happy with the win and relieved some luck finally went his mare’s way.

“It was a good run, she just doesn’t get a lot of luck at the start sometimes,” Paynter said. “She doesn’t help herself, but a couple of times horses get in her way too and cause a bit of bad luck.

“She has had some real bad luck lately and last start was a disaster.

“When she does behave and gets a free run at them off certain handicaps, she can be quite potent.

“She hasn’t been racing that bad, but she is a bit patchy at times. It just depends what horses she is racing and what handicap she gets. When she won her last race she went back and struggled a little bit with the handicap, but she got back in a bit better tonight.

“As soon as she gets back into where she is capable of doing it, she normally provides you with a pretty good run.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, Paynter is looking forward to donning his vendors cap at New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbreds Yearling Sale at Karaka on Sunday.

He will offer lot 22, the Father Patrick filly out of Sagan, a half-sister to Group One winner Lemond, Group Three winners Il Pirata and Anquetil, and Harness Jewels winner Merckx.

“She is a really well bred and well put together filly,” Paynter said. “Ross McKay is preparing her for the sale under Leanach Lodge.

“Father Patrick is a very good stallion and she is out of a Monarchy mare, so it gives you the same cross as the one of Barry Purdon’s, Son Of Patrick, that has been winning the races down here.”

Paynter has sold a number of high performing trotters through the yearling sales over the years, and he is hoping that will continue on Sunday.

“We sold Lemond, Contador, Anquetil, and Merckx. It’s a good family,” he said.

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