Syndicate honours fallen member
By Jonny Turner
The Dunedin based Ambie’s Army Syndicate honoured the late Jonny Keen soon after he lost his battle with cancer through the win of Aveross Spitfire at Oamaru yesterday.
Driver Jonny Cox wore a black armband in memory of syndicate member Keen, who died earlier this month after a short and sudden illness.
Aveross Spitfire defied his previous winless streak of 59 starts and powered away for an emphatic maiden win in race 5.
Manager Aaron Johnston was sure Keen, who was a member of the syndicate alongside his fiancé Kirstin Burt, was willing the pacer on from above.
“It was very special, I think he was getting driven home by Jonny [Keen],” Johnston said.
The Ambies Army syndicate is largely made up of members of the Forbury Park harness racing fraternity but it is has members stretched across the South Island.
With owners allowed on course under the country’s level 2 COVID19 restrictions, many of the group were on course to enjoy yesterday’s emotional victory.
Johnston credited trainer Amber Hoffman for helping Aveross Spitfire break his winless streak.
“The syndicate has stuck by Amber, he is actually not a bad horse, even though it has taken him 60 starts to win one.”
“He has been a bit erratic, but he has settled down now.”
“Amber has done a magnificent job and she has been patient.”
Cox took charge of race 5, shooting Aveross Spitfire around to the lead in the middle stages before the pacer powered away for his stylish win.
“It was a beautiful drive from Jonny,” Johnston said.
The Ambies Army syndicate also enjoyed a second placing in To Ri Caitlin, who went down by just a neck to outsider Betstar Blue Jeans.
Hoffman also went on to produce the quinella in race 12 with Dodgethebullet and Trinity Star.
Cox enjoyed a brilliant day in the sulky yesterday, producing a winning treble.
The Canterbury reinsman drove Mickey Fitz to a tough victory in race 3.
After sitting parked the Jamie Campbell trained pacer fought off all challengers to continue his excellent form on grass track.
Cox also took out the Waikouaiti Cup after handing She’s Tough a perfect run in the trail.
The Brad Mowbray trained mare came with a late run to down runner-up American Lightning by a head at the finish.
The win gave She’s Tough back to back cup race wins following her last start victory in the Hororata Cup.
The Waikouaiti Trotters’ Cup was taken out by The Player, trained by Robert Dunn and driven by John Dunn.