Lisa Latta gave Lincoln Farms’ owner John Street the thrill of a lifetime when she trained Fort Lincoln to win the 2011 Karaka Million, his biggest payday in racing.
And the Awapuni trainer went on to bigger and better things two seasons later, achieving her lifetime goal in becoming the first solo woman to claim the New Zealand premiership, saddling 87 winners.
Even more significantly, Latta became the first Central Districts trainer to win a premiership since 1977, when Garth Ivil shared the title with Bill and Graeme Sanders, and the first from Awapuni since Eric Temperton, who headed the 1962 premiership. Just three Central Districts trainers - Latta, Ivil and Syd Brown - have taken the premiership in the last 50 years.
Latta, a consistent top 10 finisher, signalled that she was here to stay when she beat all but the powerful Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman combination the following season, training 85 winners.
In May, 2021 she became the 20th New Zealand trainer to notch 1000 winners. She is the first woman training solo to achieve the feat and only the second woman after Dawn Williams, who trains in partnership with husband Peter, got there in 2018.
Latta won the NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year series that season with Lincoln Farms’ flag bearer Platinum Witness, winner of the 1000 Guineas.
And she has continued to roll out the winners for Lincoln Farms since, continuing a long and successful association.
John and Lynne Street first met Latta when she was working for crack trainer Malcolm Smith and encouraged her to keep going following Smith’s sudden death, in December 1998.
”I had only eight horses but John told me that if I wanted to have a go [as a solo trainer], that he would support me,” Latta said. ”Who knows whether I would have had a go without his support and who knows whether I would have got this far?”
Latta’s first two Group winners - Resonare and Tuscany Warrior - were owned or part-owned by the Streets, as were the Group I winner Mikki Street, the multiple Group II winner Platinum Princess, Fort Lincoln, Wellington Guineas victor President Lincoln and Platinum Kingdom.
Latta was destined from a young age to spend her life with horses.
She was riding ponies at the age of five and became a New Zealand champion barrel racer at 16.
Among her most treasured recent successes was when stable favourite Authentic Paddy took out the Group I Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie in 2017.
It did not take long for Stephen Marsh to become one of New Zealand’s rising young gun trainers.
Stephen started his career in partnership with his father Bruce in 2002-03 and in a three years together notched Group I winners like Russian Pearl in the Bayer Classic, Hail in the Zabeel Classic and Play On in the Magic Millions Two-year-old Classic.
When his dad headed to Singapore to train Stephen showed he had all the skills necessary to run a top stable and in 2012-13 guided Ruud Awakening to champion two-year-old status.
He has produced a string of topliners including Chocante, Ugo Foscolo, Chettak, Ruud Not To, Rocanto and No More Tears.And it was a red letter day in 2016 when he claimed his first Group I winner in Australia with Sofia Rosa taking the $1 million Australian Oaks.
Stephen finished second on the premiership in 2019-20 with 78 winners and $1.71 million in stakes and is a clear second to the Jamie Richards juggernaut again this season.
He trains Lincoln King and Lincoln Thunder for Lincoln Farms.
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
Saturday at Trentham
Race 2: Platinum Assault
“He has gone two really nice races this time in and I think he has turned the corner. Lily Sutherland’s 2kg claim will get him down to a very competitive 54.5kg. He wasn’t entirely comfortable in the heavy track at Hastings last start and I thought he ran really well for second. He come through that race nicely and is bright and happy. I think he can be right in the finish, back onto a better track and dropping to 1000 metres from a good three draw.”
Race 3: Lincoln’s Kruz
“It’s a small but tidy field but dropping back to 1100 metres will suit him and, while the track is currently a soft 7, with no rain in the forecast it should dry out beautifully for him. He travelled back from Riccarton in fantastic order and is looking great. We will be able to get a good line on him here and can make a plan after that. He holds a nomination for the Railway at Pukekohe on January 1 and we also have the Telegraph on January 13. Joe Doyle rides from four.”
Race 7: Lincoln Falls
“The blinkers really sparked him up last time. We will look to ride him positively from the gates again and, while he is running out of his grade, if Sam Spratt can get him across from the wide draw, I think he can be competitive. He looked like his old self last start, just blew out over the last 200 metres, and has taken great improvement out of that run. If he doesn’t measure up, we can drop back to the 65 grade and step him up to 1600 metres for one last crack.”
Race 8: Platinum Invador
“The mile will be short of his best but I could see him running a cheeky race. I can’t fault him - he looks great and is jumping out of his skin. We have been swimming him every afternoon which he really enjoys. I’ll ask Tina (Comignaghi) to give him a good warm-up before the start and to ride him positively. This race leads in nicely to the Zabeel Classic at Pukekohe on December 26.”