Perseverance pays divvies for winning trotter

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Many times it seemed that Downtown Orlando was not going to cut it as a race horse.

And many times trainer Amber Lethaby felt tempted to "pull the pin".

But now she, and the rest of the horse's connections, have been rewarded - the four-year-old trotter is a race winner, after prevailing at Timaru over the weekend.

"It was good result, good for dad and good for the owners," says Lethaby.

Lethaby's father Ray Jenkins has driven the horse in all 13 career starts, the win coming just before he heads off for his annual "winter" in sunny Australia.

Sunday represented a major turnaround for the horse, who Lethaby bought for $2500.

"It was clear the horse was a baby who needed time."

"We got him as a two-year-old and put a lot of miles into him over 18 months ...and I came really close to finishing with him a couple of times."

"He was just weak-minded and would give up for no reason at all."

But persevere they did and he gradually started improving.

"In his first half dozen starts he was just a case of getting around safe."

In contrast the starts before his maiden win at the weekend were very encouraging, with two fast finishing fourths at Rangiora. A win looked imminent, and Downtown Orlando went into Sunday as the $2.50 favourite.

He stepped away safely enough with Jenkins happy to go up and sit parked before going to win by a length.

Some of the syndicate were on course to celebrate the maiden success.

"Many of them are new to racing so to get a win is awesome for them," says Lethaby.

"There are heaps of people involved , from Australia, the North Island, even a group of West Coasters who play golf together."

After having 12 starts, and winning $11,355 in 2023, Downtown Orlando is now in the spelling paddock.

"He'll get turned out for 2-3 months and then we'll see how he goes around the end of August."

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