Wheelchair-bound Eleanor Flay “had a blast” joining winning connections in the winners’ circle at Alexandra Park.

Camaraderie of the Lincoln Farms’ family behind the blossoming of its partnerships

The Lincoln Farms’ family experience was never more evident than last Friday night when Recco Lover scored an upset win at Auckland.

Only two of the happy throng who greeted the horse in the winners’ circle were actually in the group that races the horse.

But that’s nothing unusual these days as Lincoln Farms puts more and more people into its unique partnerships - and word gets out about how much fun it actually is.

Partners, fellow owners, friends and relatives were all welcome after Recco Lover’s win last Friday night. PHOTO: Race Images.Partners, fellow owners, friends and relatives were all welcome after Recco Lover’s win last Friday night. PHOTO: Race Images.Joining Lincoln Farms’ business manager Ian Middleton and fellow owner Margaret Rabbitt in the winning photo last Friday were people with small shares in Northview Hustler and Trojan Banner, who also raced on the night, and even Man Of Action and Sir Tiger who trialled at the start of the programme.

With them were friends and relatives, small children and parents alike, all abuzz over the win.

Shannon Flay was there with her parents Arthur and Eleanor, at the races for the first time in ages to share in the fun.

It’s hard for Eleanor, 66, to get out these days, confined to a wheelchair.

Paralysed down her right hand side and unable to talk since she had a stroke during a routine angiogram in 2009, Eleanor was super excited to be in a winning photo again - the last time she came to the races with Shannon was when Northview Hustler made a winning debut in 2016.

“She had an absolute blast,’’ says Shannon who knows that if her mum could say any more than the word ‘yes’ she’d be praising the rare hospitality shown by Lincoln Farms.

For it’s not just in the winner’s circle that Lincoln Farms’ owners come together.

They enjoy a camaraderie that few owners ever experience from the moment they arrive when they are greeted by Lincoln Farms’ owners John and Lynne Street in their office, right by the Alexandra Park birdcage.

But it’s not so much the glass of wine or beer that they’re offered by Middleton almost as soon as they walk in the door rather the friendships that ensue.

Shannon Flay, left, with office assistant Merle Gradwell, after Northview Hustler’s Spring Cup win.Shannon Flay, left, with office assistant Merle Gradwell, after Northview Hustler’s Spring Cup win.“It really is like one big family,’’ says Flay. “The partnerships are small so you get to know people really well and when one of their horses wins you’re just as excited as when one of your own wins.

“Last Friday there were three running and only one was a winner but you still have a great night and have that experience of winning.’’

Flay first came to Alexandra Park as a child with her bus-driver father whenever he had a Friday night off.

And with her mum’s brother-in-law a breeder and owner in Southland, it wasn’t that big a stretch for her to take a share in a horse when she could afford it.

Her first experience was with a couple of one-off shares in South Island pacers. But when she googled syndicates three years ago it was the guarantee that you’d get a winner and the small size of the partnerships that attracted her to Lincoln Farms rather than the huge ATC syndicates “where you don’t feel like you own part of the horse’’.

Her first Lincoln Farms’ horse Diplomatic Lady didn’t make it to the races so she was put in another, Tuapeka Sky, free of charge.

And when that horse was sold after winning a race, she was given a share in Northview Hustler as a replacement.

Eight wins later, and with the promise of more to come, Flay has just dived into another horse, taking 10% along with her father in the two-year-old Tommy Lincoln, a half brother to Lincoln Road who won four races before his sale to Australia a couple of months ago.

And, yes, Flay will be looking to bring along mum, her good luck charm, when he makes his debut next year.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Bettor My Dreamz

“I think he’s a chance from the draw. He’s had only a handful of starts but I don’t think they’re much better than him, a bit more experienced perhaps. But he’s an improver and David said he felt improved at the workouts last Saturday.”

Race 2: Just Wing It

“Andre’s keen on him - he could have driven the other horse - so we’ll see what sort of a judge he is. I’ve been very happy with him in the last few weeks - he’s pacing a lot better.”

Race 5: Sir Tiger

“He’s done a great job so far but he’s jumping up in class and he’ll be up against it from now on, especially from that second row draw. He just lacks a yard of speed.”

Race 7: The Empress

“She’ll go well again and just needs some luck from the inside second row. There’s not a lot between her and Bettor My Dreamz. She’s a lovely mare.”

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Saturday night at Melton

Race 8: Perfect Stride
11pm NZ time

“I’m confident he’ll go well. I couldn’t say I’m overly confident he’ll beat them but all things being fair and equal I think he’ll be right there. He’s certainly ready to go. His work this morning was super and he’s really feeling good.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 6: Northview Hustler
9.40pm NZ time

“It’s only an eight horse field and he should get a great trip behind the leader. It was only (lack of) fitness that got him last week but he should be winning this week.”

Dan Costello Race Photography