Veteran pacer just keeps winning for Fleming
By Garrick Knight
Like a fine wine, Mister Harris is seemingly just getting better with age.
The 10-year-old veteran pacer, a winner at Manawatu on Thursday evening, is in career-best form for his Hawera trainer, Willie Fleming.
He’s won three of four starts this season and now sits on nine for his career.
“I’m bloody rapt with how he’s going,” said Fleming.
“I haven’t done anything different with him, the only thing I can see is that I’ve changed my feed.
“Whether that’s it, I don’t know, but Scott Dickson made a point of telling me today when the horse was warming up that he looked bloody well.”
Fleming took over training Mister Harris at the start of last year, when his breeder and then owner/trainer, Dave Cambie got injured.
“Dave had cut the end off his thumb and didn’t want it getting infected, so he sent me the horse to look after for a while.
“I actually had him when he got his last win in Dave’s name and he then retired from training and got out of the game.”
He offered Fleming the horse on lease and it was an easy proposal to accept.
“Dave was made a life member at the Taranaki club before he retired but has now backed right away from it all.
“He’s trying to get a bit more golf in, I think.
“But he still watches the horse and was the first one to ring me after the race today.”
Fleming reckoned he knew Mister Harris was on song for his five-horse race yesterday in the tie-ups before going out on the track.
“He gave me a couple of nips and flicked his foot at me.
“When he’s grumpy like that, I know he’s going to race well.
“He’s a really neat old horse with a bit of character about him.”
Fleming actually expected his near-perfect start to the season (four wins and a placing from five starters) to continue a few races later when Sonny Reactor lined up in one of the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship (AYDC) heats.
“The other fella, I thought he was a real chance. The better chance of the two.
“But he just over-raced which was disappointing. Ben Butcher said I just had him too well.”
Where to now is the big question for Fleming with Mister Harris, who now finds himself an R67.
“You tell me because I don’t know. We were lucky that the first win this season was penalty-free, which gave us a lifeline, but he’s getting up there now.
“He seems to love racing at Manawatu so I’d like to keep him here if I can.
“Last season I tried to pick up a couple of country cups with him on the grass, but he seems better on the hard surface.
“The days of him winning from in front are gone, I think, but he’s still got one hell of a sprint when saved up for one run at them.”
Another three heats of the AYDC were held and it was series leader Sarah O’Reilly again holding court with two seconds and a fourth to maintain her lead heading in to tonight’s final heat at Alexandra Park.
Cam Hart, from Sydney, is the only one that can beat her for the title, but will need a minor miracle as he drives the rank outsider, Johnny Mac.