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Johnny Lincoln, centre, bravely fights off a pack of challengers to win at Awapuni today. PHOTO: Peter Rubery/Race Images.

Great day for Lisa as two heartbreak horses finally come good in the Awapuni mud

Trainer Lisa Latta was feeling pretty chuffed after winning three races on her home track at Awapuni today, two with Lincoln Farms runners who had tested everyone’s patience.

Upset maiden winner Lincoln’s Command repaid owners John and Lynne Street for a three and a half year wait during which time the high priced ready-to-run sale graduate could easily have been retired.

And Johnny Lincoln, the perennial bridesmaid in a 30-start career, finally notched win number two, and was actually the centre of a late betting plunge by punters who had previously cursed his weak finishes.

Latta knew Lincoln’s Command would handle today’s very heavy conditions but didn’t expect he’d show form in his first start for four months over a trip much too short for him.

Little wonder Lincoln’s Command cost $240,000 at the 2015 ready to run sale when he looked like this.Little wonder Lincoln’s Command cost $240,000 at the 2015 ready to run sale when he looked like this.Latta makes no secret of the fact Lincoln’s Command was once on the endangered list, none of his first four performances raising hopes that he would live up to his price tag and breeding.

Bought for $240,000 at the 2015 ready to run sale of two-year-olds, when he was the seventh highest priced lot, Lincoln’s Command quickly ran into trouble, diagnosed with a cyst in his stifle.

When surgeons operated on him they used a relatively new technique, inserting a transcondylar screw to stimulate the bone to heal and fill in the cyst.

But while the procedure avoided disruption of the joint surface, it aggravated the horse’s lameness and eventually a second operation had to be done to remove the screw.

“He must have been out for a good 18 months,” says Latta. “And it’s taken a long time to get him back.’’

Lincoln’s Command is too strong for Our Legacy at Awapuni today. PHOTO: Peter Rubery/Race Images.Lincoln’s Command is too strong for Our Legacy at Awapuni today. PHOTO: Peter Rubery/Race Images.Lincoln’s Command, however, didn’t show a lot in his first few races.

“When a horse runs a battling fourth in a six-horse field at Hastings you start thinking he needs to front up. But Robbie (Hannam) was adamant he needed a wet track so I backed this judgement.

“I’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t come right because he’s a good looking horse who I always thought would make a nice stayer.’’

By Pentire out of a Zabeel mare in Zambezi, his full brother Zambezi Warrior was a very talented stayer for Te Akau in 2017.

And he is from a family of big winners, his grand dam Tall Poppy won 11 races and great grand dam Fun On The Run won 18 races.

Latta can now see a good future for the rising six-year-old who is only really on his second preparation.

Johnny Lincoln, on the other hand, has had plenty of racing but it’s only now, says Latta, that the rising seven-year-old is looking the goods.

“He’s definitely a lot stronger looking this time in and Robbie was actually quite confident he’d go well today. He loves the horse.

“The wet tracks help him out as he’s had a joint problem which has been a bit ugly since he was a young horse.’’

Robbie Hannam drives Johnny Lincoln to the line to score an overdue second win. PHOTO: Race Images.Robbie Hannam drives Johnny Lincoln to the line to score an overdue second win. PHOTO: Race Images.Despite having run eight seconds, five thirds and three fourths, Johnny drew some inspired support close to the jump, punters backing him into favouritism presumably following the pattern of the day which saw on-pace runners hard to peg back.

Hannam had Johnny up close from the outset in a trio chasing tearaway leader My Magician and he took the lead well before the 400, steering a path to the middle of the track.

Just when it looked like he would capitulate as usual, with a pack of horses challenging up the straight, Johnny found more and held on to score by half a length, confirming Hannam’s good rap after his trials placing 10 days ago.

It was a fine training feat by Latta and climaxed a great day for Lincoln Farms’ trainer who one race after Lincoln’s Command won at $22, scored with $14.60 roughie Maidstone Park for the Go Racing Girls Can Do Anything Syndicate.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Trentham

Race 1: Lincoln Valley

“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

“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

“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.”