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.
More news in Harness
Hustler nabbed in the shadows but Al says they’ll know he’s alive in the next two weeks
Fox hits the birdies in England while Franco Nandor plays a top round at Alexandra Park
Great job Al, that’s the Hustler we love - and from two Hayden can put him on the front end
Zachary turns on a masterclass, saving his best for Lincoln Farms’ popular boy Tommy
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Thursday night at Auckland
Race 1: Franco Nandor
“From a decent draw this time he’ll be one of the hardest to beat because it’s not a strong field. He lost a lot of muscle and strength when we gelded him but he should do better from now on.”
Race 4: Larry Lincoln
“He’ll lead easily and he’s good in front so he’s a chance to run a hole. But he can’t burn at both ends so it depends on how the race is run and in these junior drivers’ races they can be quite aggressive.”
Race 6: Louie The Punter
“He’s a big, dumb sort but he goes well enough. If he could be put on the front end on a nice steady rhythm I think we’d see a different horse. He just gets a bit lost and awkward in the field and the stop-start racing confuses him.”
Race 6: Apieceoflou
“Second row draws can be good and if Gopati goes out he’d be right in it. He’s come from way back in all his runs and he got held up in the run home last time. He’s developing into a tidy horse.”
Race 7: Tommy Lincoln
“The wide draw shouldn’t worry him - he’ll just mooch forward. It’s pointless for him to go back, his MO is to get rolling. I thought he was travelling easily at the finish last time.”
Race 7: American Dealer
“He’s a little tradesman who never goes a bad race. He’ll need a bit of luck from the draw but you can be sure he’ll be running on strongly at the finish. He was good here last time.”
Race 9: Copy That
“This is his most serious test. It usually takes the top age group horses two or three runs to find their feet against the tough older ones but he’s exceptional and I expect Maurice will have a dab for the front.”
Race 11: Man Of Action
“He’ll be at the mercy of the ones he’s following out but he’s trained super this week and I think he’s a definite chance. He’s improving all the time.”
Race 12: Captain Nemo
“He’s a lovely big horse who’s also on the up. I think he’ll improve on last time here when he got pulling just when he was going to get a good trip and had to come out.”
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 3: Northview Hustler
8.14pm NZ time
“He ran some terrific sectionals last week coming from the back. He’s improved through the week and I can’t fault him. After his work his heart rate was down to 91, which is a lot better than it’s been. He’s at his best when it’s in the 80s. He’s a live chance and I think we’ll see a different horse on Saturday night.”