Northern tradesman gets deserved win
By Garrick Knight
If you asked most pundits with half an idea which horse they thought epitomised the term ‘tradesman’ in the north, many would surely say Check In.
You never get anything flashy, there’s no brilliance about him and he’s not that pretty.
But he turns up every other week, from the stand, or the mobile, from a mile to 2700 metres, at Auckland and Cambridge, or even the South Island, and he gives it his all.
He’s raced every month of this season and never disgraced himself, but his win in the $25,000 feature at Alexandra Park on Friday night was his first of the term.
But that’s not to say he’d been disappointing – on the contrary he had earned over $35,000 this season before the win and had even managed a last-start Group 2 second in the Cambridge Flying Mile.
And the best part? His now 10 wins, 22 placings and nearly $180,000 in earnings were never expected.
“He’s been a real surprise package,” says his trainer, Steve Telfer.
“He was just ok at two, better at three and better again at four.
“It’s just been a case of him continuing to improve and stepping up as time has gone on.”
Check In lacks any real high speed, but he follows it just so well, and that’s part of the reason he has continued to earn – the better class of races are run at higher speeds and that plays in to his hands.
“He doesn’t look that flash, but he continues to front up in these races.
“He lacks a bit of real dash but if they go hard he’s always going to be in it.
“At the end of last season, he ran 2.38 one night.”
Telfer is building a large stable in Ardmore, with more than 70 horses on the books and a swag of yearlings to be added to that again next week, so it’s easy to think an unremarkable horse like Check In could get lost in the shuffle.
“Actually, he is Triple Eight’s best mate.
“It means he gets to come in to the barn every night – having friends in high places helps,” Telfer joked.
Telfer says Check In has a bit of personality to him, as well.
“A bit of a grump; he’ll bite you if you give him the chance, but nothing too aggressive.
“He wouldn’t have lasted this long with us if he had a bad attitude.”
So how do you keep a six-year-old homebred veteran of 71 starts fresh in mind and body?
“We don’t actually have to very his work too much.
“He doesn’t hopple a hell of a lot, most of his work is cantering and he seems to thrive on that.”
The inevitable question of selling a horse like home overseas has come up in the past, but “probably not for two years”.
“The phone used to ring quite a bit, but not for a long time.”
Check In is raced by Stonewall Stud’s Steve Stockman and Jill Stockman, long-time stable client Scott Plant and Brian Cameron.
Plant and Stonewall bred the son of Mach Three out of their Group 1-winning Sands A Flyin mare, Time To Fly, making him a half-brother to stablemate Dance Time.
Andre Poutama did the driving and Telfer was quick to pay tribute to the Pukekohe horseman for another heady drive.
“Andre has been driving him for the past few months and doing a great job with it.
“It was a top drive tonight; he rated him perfectly in front.”
Telfer’s good friend Robert Dunn also had a great night out at ‘the Park’, preparing three winners, including the ultra-impressive two-year-old filly, Passion And Power.
She streeted her fellow juveniles by six lengths in the hands of Peter Ferguson, who also won earlier in the night with the Dunn-trained Resonate.
Ferguson’s son, Dylan, completed the Dunn treble behind Pretty Majestic.