Racing: Mr Luigi overcomes slip-up

By Mike Dillon

Mr Luigi and Sam Spratt bring home the bacon after a slip-up on the home bend. Photo / Trish Dunell
Mr Luigi and Sam Spratt bring home the bacon after a slip-up on the home bend. Photo / Trish Dunell

It's never over until it's over.

Trainer Peter Lock did not have a panic button on him at the Tauranga races on Saturday but if he had he would certainly have pressed it.

Lock didn't only momentarily give up hope of the favourite Mr Luigi winning the last race, he was preparing to think the extremely promising galloper may have come close to ending his career.

Mr Luigi and Sam Spratt slipped badly on the home bend when about to get down into his finishing sprint to carry thousands of dollars of punters' money through.

"I was sure he'd broken down," said a hugely relieved Lock as Sam Spratt brought Mr Luigi back through the gloom and heavy rain.

"I can't tell you how relieved I was when Sam gathered him up and re-balanced him."

Mr Luigi looked the bet of the day at Tauranga after his desperately unlucky second at Ellerslie at his previous start.

"This is a very good horse," says Lock.

"He's taken a bit to come to it probably because he's bred from a Zabeel mare and he's just approaching his peak."

Saturday was not a meeting out of which you would expect to find extremely promising horses, but Mr Luigi, Battle Time and Summer's Day are a trio that will take a high ranking next season.

It did not stop raining all day and the footing was such that hardly any horses could manage it but, of course, there always has to be a winner. The 1400m time for Mr Luigi in the last race was 1:37.87, a not so respectable time for 1600m on a firm surface.

If jockeys sometimes receive criticism, they earned their money Saturday. And interestingly, the pattern was reversed from normal wet weather Tauranga meetings, during which winners generally come down the outside running rail. As the first two home in the Kiwifruit Cup, Katie McKeen and St Saturnin pointed out, the inside rail was the fast lane for the entire programme.

Owners Wayne and Vicki Pike, parents of trainer Tony Pike, were not keen for their mare Summer's Day to go around in the second-last race, the Listed $50,000 Tauranga Classic.

"But," said Tony Pike, "she's our own horse and it would be nice to get at least some black type."

The Pikes need not have worried.

Summer's Day stepped up to the plate and gave nothing else a look in, downing promising mare beat Aide Memoire by 2-lengths.

Earlier in the programme, Battle Time landed a deserved win against the 3-year-olds, racing clear of the opposition.

As a young horse with form on much better footing he should not be difficult to place in the second half of the year.

Runner-up in Battle Time's race, Acrylic, also looks to have a future.

He was having his first start following a spell and fought hard.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 06 Dec 2016 11:03:14 Processing Time: 607ms