Bob, 86: I never lost faith in Louie and that win’s simply the Best
At the age of 86, it might have taken him a little longer to get to the winners’ circle but there was no way the celebrations were going to start without Bob Best.
And while Double Or Nothing did a victory circle on the track, Lincoln Farms’ favourite partner arrived, slightly breathless, to accept the handshakes of all and to pat the horse he calls Louie that he never lost faith in.
It might have taken more than nine months and 14 starts to get there but that only made the victory all the sweeter for Best and his partners in the horse, John and Lynne Street, Neville McAlister and Rod and Sue Fleming.
“Of all the wins I’ve had with Lincoln Farms with Trojan Banner and Make Way, this one has excited me the most,” said Best, who lives at Ararimu, three-quarters of an hour down the main highway from Auckland.
“It was a bit unexpected because he’s been knocking on the door for so long but I’ve been happy with all his placings.
“Ray (trainer Ray Green) always said he’d improve with time and I thought the same. He was just big and weak.”
Punters might have deserted the rangy son of Sweet Lou tonight after 10 placings but not Best who revealed he had his first ever bet on the horse, a modest $20 each way.
Double Or Nothing’s apparent under performance never got to Best - he learned long ago to roll with the punches.
It showed the day he “bought” his first horse at a hack sale 47 years ago when he was asked to sign for a $35 bid.
Best had been standing behind a woman he thought was bidding, and despite not ever raising his hand, somehow caught the eye of the man with the gavel.
In the end Best agreed to take the horse anyway despite having nowhere to keep him.
“I just took him home and tied him up behind the house.”
Best’s son Brian, who was there tonight with his wife Frances to share in the celebrations, recalls he was 11 at the time when he posed for a photograph with the accidental buy.
It was the start of a life with horses for Best who a few years later leased 60 acres of land at Karaka and ended up training standardbreds with another of his sons, Robert.
Robert was sadly awol tonight, packing for a holiday with his family, including Best’s great grand-daughters.
But there will be plenty more dinners at the Park of Peking Duck and prawn balls for Best and his boys - even if Double Or Nothing never wins another race.
For Best has already directed the proceeds of Trojan Banner’s sale to the United States towards another Lincoln Farms baby, taking a share in Bondi Shake, a Somebeachsomewhere colt who was one of Green’s favourite yearling buys this year.
It was appropriate that Steve Cornwall, representing race sponsor Woodlands, later presented the trophy to Best for winning the Downbytheseaside Pace, as not only is its new stallion a son of the ill-fated Somebeachsomewhere, but it also stands Double Or Nothing’s sire Sweet Lou.
“Sweet Lous will get better with time,” said Cornwall. “And I don’t think this horse will be that far short of the best.
“He’s from a lovely old family and is such a friendly fella I think he just likes to wait for the others.”
The win was actually a double celebration for Woodlands Stud as its office manager Anne-Marie Luxton owns Double Or Nothing’s dam Love A Gamble whose Sweet Lou yearling was bought at the sales earlier this year by none other than Lincoln Farms’ John Street.
Best paid tribute to the skills of Zachary Butcher in getting Double Or Nothing home in a thrilling finish over Christianshavtime, declaring him “a crafty little driver.”
After narrowly dodging a first turn break by the favourite Prince Of Pleasure, Butcher nursed the gelding to the lead at the bell and expertly kidded to him in the run home, never once reaching for his whip.
“He was doing this best,” said Butcher. “And I think he goes better with the blinds off - he can see them coming and runs with them.”
In a desperately close finish, which commentator Aaron White expertly called correctly, the six-time bridesmaid held a nose margin.
The win vindicated Green’s decision not to sell the horse mid-week when a $50,000 offer came in and continued the great run Best is having as a Lincoln Farms partner.
And to think he only became involved after promising his dying wife Joyce that he would get a share in a horse after she was gone. After 60 years of marriage, Best said the enjoyment of ownership had helped him move on with his life.
More news in Harness
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Ray looking forward to Lincoln Lou and fully oxygenated Frisco Bay at Cambridge on Friday
Why Lincoln Farms had to buy lot 68 - his older brother Lincoln Lou is ready to rock
At last, Argyle gets the pole on Saturday night and Mark reckons it’s his big chance to salute
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Friday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Lincoln Lou
“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”
Race 5: Commander Lincoln
“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”
Race 8: Onyx Shard
“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”
Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”
Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”
Race 9: Frisco Bay
“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”
Mark Dux’s comments
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time
“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”