Hustler runs the hands off the clock in brilliant return to the track
Any worries that Northview Hustler might not bounce back from his southern trip were dispelled in two minutes of high speed last Friday night when he ran two of the fastest sectionals ever recorded at Alexandra Park.
If you watched the race and thought Hustler was disappointing against much weaker opposition than he faced in Canterbury, you were dead wrong.
Having his first run since an aborted New Zealand Cup campaign, and with no trials to sharpen him up, Hustler was forced to go back from the outside of the gate.
Driver Andre Poutama was caught three wide near the rear until the 1200 metres mark when he restrained to last - and he was still there 400 metres out.
Hustler started his run soon after but Poutama was pushed four wide all the way round the home turn - not a winning recipe at Auckland - and he was still last at the 200.
But Hustler still kept coming and, closing fast at the post, was just 1.6 lengths from winner On The Cards.
Hustler was clocked to cover his last 400 metres in an astonishing 26.1 seconds, despite covering all that extra ground.
And his final 800 metres, which he paced in a white hot 54.1, was no less impressive.
To get some idea of how good those fractions are you only have to check out the times run by the last four horses who have held the New Zealand record for 1700 metres, two of then owned by Lincoln Farms.
Current record holder Mossdale Connor set his mark when winning the Taylor Mile at Auckland in 2015 when he ran 1:58.1 for the trip, a full three seconds faster than On The Cards ran on Friday night.
His closing sectionals were 55.4 and 28, obviously slower because of the much faster overall rate.
Only Gold Ace, who sped home in 54.6 and 26 flat in setting the previous record, went a fraction faster than Hustler for his last 400.
When Lincoln Farms’ Besotted won the Taylor Mile in 2014 he ran two minutes flat and ran home in 55.7 and 27.2 - against the markers.
And when Sir Lincoln took his record in 2013 he ran his last 800 in 55.2 and 400 in 27.2.
You could argue the track surface is better prepared today than in previous years but Hustler’s clocking still has real merit.
Winner On The Cards, who was leading on the pegs, ran only 55 and 26.7 for his final sectionals.
Hustler, who was credited with the same overall time as third-placed Step Up and fourth-placed Mach Shard, was just a head and a nose away from paying a dividend.
The enormity of the run became evident when Poutama returned to scale and reported Hustler did not pace well at any stage.
“He was getting in on the corners,’’ says Green. “So he’s run those times under duress, which is even more remarkable.’’
Green revealed Northview Hustler has an ankle which bothers him intermittently.
“He needs regular maintenance work and he obviously needs some treatment again.
“I won’t race him again this week, which will give us time to work on him, but he can run again the following week.’’
The $30,000 Summer Cup, run from a stand over 2200 metres, would suit him ideally.
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Race 2: Lincoln’s Girl
4.12pm NZ time
“She’s drawn badly but we’ll be going forward for a crack and, if she leads, I don’t think they can beat her. I’m confident she can run top three even if she has to park. She won easily first-up and was nowhere near ready. She’s improved greatly since then and her trackwork this week has been strong.”
Thursday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Sir Tiger
“He’s finally got a draw we can use and in that field he’ll be hard to beat. We had blinkers on him last week for the first time and he just over-raced. They’re coming off.”