Michael brings the House down first-up with longshot veteran Father Lenihan
“Oldest horse, oldest jockey, idiot trainer.”
Trainer Michael House was full of quips after nine-year-old Father Lenihan and Terry Moseley scored first-up at long odds on the Riccarton synthetic track today.
“No, I’m a genius,” House came back when asked if he’d given the Lincoln Farms-owned horse a heart transplant after a 30-race run of outs stretching back to October, 2019.
“It’s Prebbleton Veterinary Hospital. We can get them out of the grave,” House said.
“He’s actually pretty sound for a nine-year-old. I’ve had him right a couple of times but he had a run of bad draws.”
It was Father Lenihan’s first race since May 18 today but House said the oldtimer was actually ready to go three weeks ago when he reared in the gates and had to be scratched.
Sent to trial, Faher Lenihan ran right up in behind the first three home at Ashburton, giving House confidence he was in good heart.
And stepping out in today’s rating 60, the lowest graded race he’d run in since clearing maidens back in May, 2018, House thought he’d be competitive.
“I never gave up on him. He’s a cool old horse, we love him, and he’s been a good project.
“He’s probably buggered in the ratings now. But if we find the right race and draw he can win another one.”
House said after the horse was “naughty” in the gates three weeks ago he upped his workload, figuring he had him too well.
“I’ve been a lot harder on him this time, put a lot more miles into him and that was a pretty good gallop today. He ran 1:22.36 for the 1400 metres.”
Out fast from his good inside draw, Father Lenihan trailed third and fourth on the fence, pushed through runners at the 400 and collared the leader Show Bazz, before staving off a big late charge from the hot favourite Hemi Ridapest to win by a neck.
It was his first win for House in 13 attempts, and fifth win in all, taking his career bankroll to $116,630.
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Saturday at Trentham
Race 2: Platinum Assault
“He has gone two really nice races this time in and I think he has turned the corner. Lily Sutherland’s 2kg claim will get him down to a very competitive 54.5kg. He wasn’t entirely comfortable in the heavy track at Hastings last start and I thought he ran really well for second. He come through that race nicely and is bright and happy. I think he can be right in the finish, back onto a better track and dropping to 1000 metres from a good three draw.”
Race 3: Lincoln’s Kruz
“It’s a small but tidy field but dropping back to 1100 metres will suit him and, while the track is currently a soft 7, with no rain in the forecast it should dry out beautifully for him. He travelled back from Riccarton in fantastic order and is looking great. We will be able to get a good line on him here and can make a plan after that. He holds a nomination for the Railway at Pukekohe on January 1 and we also have the Telegraph on January 13. Joe Doyle rides from four.”
Race 7: Lincoln Falls
“The blinkers really sparked him up last time. We will look to ride him positively from the gates again and, while he is running out of his grade, if Sam Spratt can get him across from the wide draw, I think he can be competitive. He looked like his old self last start, just blew out over the last 200 metres, and has taken great improvement out of that run. If he doesn’t measure up, we can drop back to the 65 grade and step him up to 1600 metres for one last crack.”
Race 8: Platinum Invador
“The mile will be short of his best but I could see him running a cheeky race. I can’t fault him - he looks great and is jumping out of his skin. We have been swimming him every afternoon which he really enjoys. I’ll ask Tina (Comignaghi) to give him a good warm-up before the start and to ride him positively. This race leads in nicely to the Zabeel Classic at Pukekohe on December 26.”