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.
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.
Since 1997 she has enjoyed 908 wins, including 55 Group and Listed races.
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 fifth on the premiership last season with 64 winners and $1.22 million in stakes.
Marsh trains three-year-old Bush Whacked for Lincoln Farms.
Awapuni trainer Mike Breslin has trained 412 winners since 1992, his best season tally when producing 27 winners in 2015-16.
Despite having comparatively small numbers, Breslin can usually be found with a good horse in his team, the latest looking like the up-and-coming Alamosa five-year-old King Cougar.
Some of his best performers have been Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes winner Heni, who won 11 races, Salamanca (10), Ringo (eight) and Tip The Wink (six).
Breslin trains Lincoln Honey for Lincoln Farms.
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Wednesday at Matamata
Race 5: Bush Whacked
Thursday at Otaki
Race 2, 4: Lincoln Sky
“I’ve put him in two races, one over 1200 metres and the other 1400 metres and will wait to see what the weather does before deciding which race to run in. If the rain arrives we will line him up in the 1200. He ran a good race when resuming at Wanganui and I have been happy with his progress since.’’
Race 6: Platinum Invador
“Unfortunately he has come up with an outside draw again. He ran a big race at Trentham from a wide gate in a far stronger field. A lot of rain is forecast on Wednesday night though so the bad draw may be negated come race time. He galloped very well this morning and I expect him to be right in it.’’
Race 8: Alesha Lincoln
“Her recent work has been good enough and we have a nice draw to use. Being by Alamosa, it suggests any rain will not worry her. I am looking forward to her debut.’’
Saturday at Awapuni
Race 1: Miss Oahu
“I’ve chosen to start her up a rating band to get some weight relief and she gets in with only 54.5kg. She has really improved since her first-up run and her coat looks far better now. I expect a bold run from her, especially with the one draw to use.’’
Race 2: Platinum Touch
“She’s come up with the outside draw so if it doesn’t rain I will probably scratch her and go to New Plymouth on December 27. Her work has been good and I am happy with her heading into her debut.”
Race 5: Johnny Lincoln
“He’s drawn one from the outside but if he can get any luck in the running he’ll be very hard to beat. I am very happy with him and he has trained on well.’’
Race 8: Father Lenihan
“He’s had no luck with barrier draws and the trend continues on Saturday where he has drawn the outside. He has good gate speed however so we will look to go forward. The forecasted rain will help him and hopefully the track ends up in the dead range. He has continued to please me since his last run at Trentham.’’
News in brief
MAM’SELLE MASSIVE: Platinum Mam’selle clocked 34.59, easily the fastest last 600 metres in her race at Awapuni on Saturday when she flew from last at the 200 metre mark to get up for third, just a head and a long neck from winner All In Mana. Those who followed trainer Lisa Latta’s advice collected a $4.50 place dividend.
INVADOR UNLUCKY: Platinum Invador ($52) ran only ninth at Trentham but was dead unlucky. He settled at the rear after jumping awkwardly then was held up entering the home straight and did not get clear until 100 metres out when he rocketed home to be just 2.6 lengths from the winner.
PORT’S FORGIVE RUN: Port Lincoln did well to finish less than three lengths from the winner at Waipukurau. He was held up for a distance near the 500 metres then ran up onto heels passing the 300 metres, having to be angled outwards to get clear.
BUSH BAFFLER: Trainer Stephen Marsh will be trying a few different training tactics with Bush Whacked, including some jumping, to try to switch the horse on. He travelled strongly on the pace until the turn at Avondale but quickly raised the white flag.
DERBY DREAM: Trainer Lisa Latta has nominated six Lincoln Farms’ three-year-olds for the $1 million New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on March 2 - Lincoln Falls, Lincoln Lane, Ajay Lincoln, Lincoln Fury, Lincoln Hanover and Platinum Invador. Latta has also entered 2000 Guineas placegetter Sir Nate.
VOLOS BLOWS IT AGAIN: Platinum Volos did another Chautauqua impersonation when he refused to come out of the gates at Awapuni despite wearing pacifiers and a barrier blanket. The grey will now have to trial on multiple occasions before being allowed to race again.
ALMO OUT FOR SPELL: Almo Street’s much awaited racetrack return, with the aid of a blindfold to help him jump out of the gates, has been put on hold. Trainer Lisa Latta says the normally good trackworker has been decidedly average in his last two gallops and, after nearly a year in work sorting out his problems, is simply over the top.