There may have been a delay to the harness racing at Omakau yesterday, but there was no loitering for Steven McRae's team at the meeting.
The meeting was put back two races because of a power outage just outside the racecourse, but once underway, McRae went about putting his stamp on the Central Otago Trotting Club's programme.
One McRae runner, Franco Tiago, might have earned himself a breather after a win on debut in the third race.
The 3-year-old son of Live Or Die took over the lead inside the mile and pulled away from his opposition to win by 4 lengths.
McRae said the sixth foal of the Falcon Seelster mare Tantara Franco had been keeping fit at the trials and workouts after qualifying at Rangiora on November 26. He was pleased with the way Franco Tiago stretched out to win the 2600m event in 3:28.4.
"It's always good to win first up but it's going to be hard from here. It's a big jump from maidens to C1 [one-win class], so, hopefully, he can handle it."
McRae is likely to take the gelding back to his Halswell base, rather than continuing him on the southern holiday circuit.
"I just don't know if there's much there at Cromwell for him. We might take him home again," he said.
McRae added to his good day in the fifth race on the card, a non-winners mobile pace, when the Steven McRae-trained Lucca Franco came off the back of Sunset Franco to edge his stablemate by a quarter of a length. The pair were 17 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
Phil Williamson is in no hurry to take on the country's best trotters with Springbank Sam and Murcielargo.
The Williamson-trained pair ran the quinella in the feature trot at Omakau yesterday on a slushy track. The time of 3:28.9 was not quick, but a tactical drive from Nathan Williamson behind Springbank Sam proved the difference.
Nathan Williamson sent Springbank Sam forward with 1800m to go and saw off the late bid from stablemate Murcielargo by 2 lengths.
The group three trotters' championship at Addington in late March appeals to Williamson now that the race, formerly the domain of 4-year-olds, has been opened up to 5-year-olds as well in line with the changes to the Harness Jewels.
"He's in great form at the moment - if we can keep him right, he's a pretty good horse in any grade away from I Can Doosit and Stig," Williamson said.
"They're great horses - he's a nice horse, but they are stars."ODTBy Matt Smith