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Awapuni standout: Unlucky Lincoln Star in career best form, JK Riddell knows him well

Everything points to Lincoln Star holding his form and being the one to beat in the last race at Awapuni on Saturday.

In the best form of his career for trainer Lisa Latta, Lincoln Star looked a shade unlucky not to score back-to-back wins at Awapuni on Boxing Day when held up from the home turn until 200 metres from home.

Once clear the little seven-year-old flew for Hazel Schofer, succumbing only to Inmyshadow, who came with a paralysing sprint from the back.

“Being blocked definitely cost him - whether he would have beaten the winner is another story,” Latta said.

“But I couldn’t be happier with him and, with luck in the running, he should be hard to beat again. He’s trained on well and has really strengthened up this time in.”

Schofer, who has been on Lincoln Star in each of his last three runs, is committed to That’s Incranibull on Saturday so Latta has engaged Jonathan Riddell.

“Jonathan has won a couple of races on him so I don’t think we’ll be left wanting there. We’ll ride him the same, just in behind the speed, and try to get the last run at them.”

Lincoln Star has opened the $4 favourite, ahead of back-to-back maiden and rating 65 winner Sergio ($4.20) and the Tony Pike-trained Bentayga ($6) who had a torrid trip three wide when tried for the first time over ground in a Dunstan Championship qualifier at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

He showed grit to still lead 250 metres from home, only weakened the last bit, and looks the main danger on Saturday under Kozzi Asano.

Latta also lines up Platinum Petals in the race but as a one-race winner she is much lesser chance at $17.

The third stable entrant Father Lenihan will switch to the open mile (race five) where, in a strong line-up, he will be one of the outsiders at $18.

Father Lenihan was one of the star trackworkers at Awapuni on Thursday, galloping 800 metres with the progressive Nod Of The Head, winner of four of his 10 starts.

On a good plough, they went at a good clip early over 800 metres in 47.9, the last 600 in 36.2.

“Robbie Hannam galloped him and was really happy with him.

“I just worry about the track condition which will be pretty firm tomorrow. He’s quite flat-footed and once he’s had a few runs on hard ground he jars up.”

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Trentham

Race 1: Lincoln Valley
12.30pm

“He didn’t have all favours last start- he was three wide without cover the trip and the effort told in the last bit. He also got squeezed up a little late. From the six draw we will go forward and I’m sure Lisa will have learned a lot from him in his last run. His work has been really good and I have added a nasal strip as he is quite a noisy breather and it may help. It’s not an overly strong field and the big roomy track will suit.”

Race 7: Platinum Spirit
4pm

“We are racing him out of his grade so he gets in at a nice light weight. Carrying 60kg last start was a really big ask and he got there a touch too soon. He has drawn awkwardly at 12 but he has the ability to put himself in the race if there’s a lack of speed. He looks fantastic and still holds a nomination for the Wellington Cup next week but might need to gain a few more points to get into the field. Chris Dell rides.”

Race 8: Father Lenihan
4.38pm

“The outside draw is tricky but Robbie knows him well - he’s ridden him in three of his four wins - and I’m sure he will make him jump and put him on the speed. He’s been out of the winner’s circle for a while but he went a great race last start and this field is nowhere near as strong. We were going to step him up over ground but he sits so awkwardly in the ratings at 76 that he would be carrying the top weight of 62kg in a R74 2000m.”