Racing: Luck of the Irish for Herlihy

By Michael Guerin

Irish Whisper should be too strong at Alexandra Park tonight.Picture / ODT
Irish Whisper should be too strong at Alexandra Park tonight.Picture / ODT

Champion horseman Tony Herlihy has got his wish - now punters could get theirs by following him at Alexandra Park tonight.

New Zealand's only 3000-win reinsman was surprised to keep exciting trotter Irish Whisper in his stable after initially thinking he had been sold to Canada.

Herlihy had been given the 4-year-old to train for just two races, the latest resulting in an effortless win on this track, but will now be the trotter's fulltime trainer.

"Phil and Bev Williamson sold him and he was supposed to go to Canada, but now he has been bought locally by Murray Notman so he will be staying here," said Herlihy. "I am thrilled to have him because I am sure he can go all the way to the top.

"He still has a lot to learn and we won't see the best of him until next year at least but he has some x-factor."

Irish Whisper was one of the plunge horses at the Jewels last month but galloped away then was run down late when short of peak fitness on his debut for Herlihy.

But he jogged to victory two weeks ago against similar opposition to what he meets tonight and should win race two, even against classy types Murcielargo and Ray, who is back from injury for new trainer Michelle Wallis.

Irish Whisper isn't the only favourite Herlihy will partner as he drives Kiwi Ideal, who should win race five and Ohoka Kentucky in race three.

Kiwi Ideal was purchased for serious money by clients of trainer Steven Reid two months ago and looked worth every cent when bolting in by over five lengths last start.

"He is a smart young horse and I don't think he has finished winning yet," said Herlihy.

Ohoka Kentucky arrived in the north with a huge reputation after a big Ashburton trials win but has taken time to get his head around the more push and shove nature of northern racing.

"He has raw ability and is sharpening up now," says Herlihy.

He should be suited by his widish front line draw tonight, giving him time to work forward and it would not surprise to see him leading with a lap to go and being part of a Herlihy treble tonight.

The $20,000 feature of the night sees Sir Lincoln try to overcome a 60m handicap over 2700m in race seven.

Few pacers have even attempted that at Alexandra Park in the last 20 years and the Auckland Cup winner faces a huge task with a slippery young pacer like Let's Elope standing 50m in front of him.

Sir Lincoln couldn't give Let's Elope a 55m start two starts ago but should be fitter tonight.

The start will be crucial to determine whether Sir Lincoln can make up much of his handicap with a fast beginning but punters still wouldn't want to be taking anything shorter than $3 for the outstanding pacer in a race where Stormy Sirocco could provide some each-way value.

- NZ Herald

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