Race Images - Gallops

Michael House loves riding and is seen here on Tarragon after yet anther ribbon winning event at the Canterbury A & P show.

Michael’s a real gallops newbie but Benny Lincoln puts him on the board at Riverton

Harness win No. 555 on Thursday, gallops win No. 1 on Saturday.

That’s the record of jack-of-all-trades Michael House who trained his first thoroughbred winner when Benny Lincoln scored a narrow but brave win at Riverton today.

And, fittingly, House achieved the feat with one of three horses which Lincoln Farms owner John Street sent south last year in search of easier opportunities.

“I mentioned to John one day that if he ever had a horse that wasn’t suited to North Island racing I’d take it,” said House who was keen to pursue his long held dream of training a thoroughbred.

Six months later House, whose partner Lindsay Colwell does a lot of vet work for Lincoln Farms, followed up and Street found him Benny Lincoln, Master Lincoln and Ajay Lincoln.

The next generation … Wilson, George and Eloise rock and roll but Poe has sniffed out something more interesting.The next generation … Wilson, George and Eloise rock and roll but Poe has sniffed out something more interesting.And while with 56 harness winners this season - four at Manawatu last week - House sits second on the premiership, he admits that even as a real newbie it’s the gallopers who are giving him his greatest pleasure. Well, second only to his home life with Lindsay and their three children Wilson, 16, George, 14, and Eloise, 3.

“I’ve stood a champion stallion, won Group Ones, sold some super stayers and my soul but I’m at the stage in my life that I’ve got to start doing things I love. And I love riding gallopers and being around them. If you can get in tune with them …”

House wasn’t at Riverton today, at home in Christchurch instead, en route to riding a hunter moments after Benny Lincoln’s win, determined to get fit for the start of the hunting season tomorrow.

House started his dabble with thoroughbreds, working them at Riccarton, but saw an opportunity for them to join his Invercargill harness stable which he opened 12 months ago.

“I found several people to work for me and one of them was into gallops so I thought I’d take advantage of that.

“Today’s success is all about the work she and the others are doing.”

Sadly, Nicci Brown, who has taken charge of the team - “she’s really the trainer, I’m just the manager” - was bedridden in Invercargill hospital when Benny Lincoln won. “She was kicked yesterday in the car park while helping someone and it smashed the point of her pelvis.”

While Benny Lincoln has gradually grown in confidence since he’s been in the south, his win today climaxing four previous placings, House says it’s all down to the calibre of people working with the horse.

Eloise, 3, getting to know her dad’s racing colours.Eloise, 3, getting to know her dad’s racing colours.House says it’s no coincidence that Benny Lincoln’s form has improved since Brown’s partner, top rider Chris Johnson, has been on his back.

“I’m gradually learning but it’s not what you know but who you know. Training thoroughbreds is all about the quality of your track riders.

“You’re fooling yourself if you think you can just go swish with thoroughbreds. It isn’t easy. There are some wonderful horseman in thoroughbreds but it’s not rocket science.

“With standardbreds you work tirelessly on rigging and training them to a tenth of a second. With thoroughbreds it’s all about the quality of your horse and its soundness. The rest is common sense - whether it’s eventing, dressage or show jumping there’s a lot of common ground - and sheer luck in finding a really good horse.

“I’d love to have more because I really enjoy them and there’s more upside than standardbreds.”

House says despite finishing third on the harness trainers’ premiership in the last two years he’s raced a lot of average horses unable to go to the yearling sales and spend big money like the leading stables. His list of winners this season underlines that - 22 have been at Manawatu and 19 in the deep south.

That’s why he says he’s really in debt to John and Lynne Street for giving him a chance with some very well bred gallopers.

“It’s quite an undertaking being a newbie. You have to tread on a few toes and make a few mistakes to learn how the game is played.

“For me it’s all about my cracking a few eggs to make an omelette.”

There’s method in House’s madness. He’s bred a Zacinto filly out of seven-race winner Ombre Rose that he plans to break in this winter.

Wilson House after winning the 2017 Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup at Addington.Wilson House after winning the 2017 Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup at Addington.“I want to learn quietly and get a feel for this so that when the filly comes along I can train her myself and at least I’ve had some experience.”

House says he’s not focussed on stats and the fact his first gallops winner has come with his 38th starter isn’t relevant. “I was quite prepared for my first winner to come after 130 starts. I’m not scared of numbers. UDR trainers who look constantly at their stats start doing stuff they shouldn’t.

“And this is really just a hobby. My fourth thoroughbred Vanilla Moon I bought for $3000 on Gavelhouse and she hasn’t won me a dollar yet.”

But House has high hopes Benny Lincoln can earn a few more dollars on the second day of the Riverton meeting on Monday.

“Benny tried pretty hard today and Chris’ comment after the race was that he’d win on the second day as well.”

Our runners this week