Spice It Up (David Butcher) cruises to the line at Alexandra Park on Friday night. PHOTO: Megan Liefting/Race Images.

Perseverance pays - Spice It Up’s Auckland triumph brings the house down in Napier

Napier couple Rod and Sue Fleming weren’t well enough to make it to Auckland to see Spice It Up win at Auckland on Friday night but they still celebrated what for so long seemed an unachievable dream.

“We were out of our trees, we couldn’t believe it,” Rod Fleming said of the filly’s decisive two and a quarter length romp.

“We popped some bubbles and sat up ’til god knows what time replaying the race, maybe seven times, which was like seven wins.”

The win was two years in the making since Lincoln Farms’ clients clambered to take up shares in the Captaintreacherous filly when she showed real early talent.

Trainer Ray Green persevered with Spice It Up.Trainer Ray Green persevered with Spice It Up.But with Spice It Up’s speed came a persistent tie-up condition which halted her in numerous preparations.

When it looked like she might never make it to the races, in line with John and Lynne Street’s unmatched policy, the partners were offered the chance to switch to other horses.

Lincoln Farms’ business manager Ian Middleton recalls only the Flemings opted to stay in the filly.

“I tried to put them into anther horse and we gave them plenty of time to change their minds but they’d visited her at the stable and Sue was insistent they wanted to stay in her.”

Rod Fleming admits he started looking at other two-year-olds.

“But Sue said no, we like this horse, she’ll come right. “We liked the way Ray Green talked about her, and it’s not often that John keeps horses like that which told me he was interested in her too.

“They said we’ll just keep trying, put her in the paddock, and see what happens.”

Green’s more recent move to train her from the paddock and basically restrict her to eating grass, eventually paid dividends.

Before her debut third last month, all her previous owners were invited to come back into the ownership, but none took up the offer.

So it was with mixed feelings that everyone watched on Friday night as David Butcher secured a perfect trail before exploding past The Missing Sock up the passing lane.

“David didn’t touch her and away she went, bang,” Rod Fleming enthused.

Napier owners Rod and Sue Fleming stuck with the ship.Napier owners Rod and Sue Fleming stuck with the ship.“It’s a shame all the good two and three-year-old filly races are gone but hopefully we can win some more with her now.”

Fleming acknowledges they’ve been incredibly lucky in their time racing Lincoln Farms’ horses, having shares previously in King Of Swing, Vasari (23 wins) and Double Or Nothing (3 wins).

“We were very disappointed King Of Swing was sold but it was good money and he won seven races (and $236,000) plus the Breeders Crown in Australia (2017).

“We had a great time on that trip. John and Lynne are very gracious and they treat you very well.”

Fleming has known Street for more than 50 years, both grocers initially, but meeting through their shared enjoyment of indoor bowls.

“John and I played a lot of indoor bowls together and we won a NZ fours’ title in 1980.”

Fleming, 75, isn’t quite so agile these days and is in semi-retirement, getting round on crutches until he’s back in hospital in two weeks for a second try at a hip replacement.

“Sue has been crook for the last three or four months too but we’re keen to get up to Auckland again when we can.”

The couple are real identities in Napier where they have been in real estate for a combined 43 years.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 1: Obadiah Dragon

“He’s the lowest rated in the field, so it will be tough for him, but he’s racing really well. He just doesn’t need any bad luck.”

Race 4: Lincoln La Moose

“You won’t see the best of him on Friday. It’s his first race since April and he’ll definitely need the run.”

Race 6: My Copy

“He’s no champion but he’s very honest and is always capable of finishing in the money. He only needs a fair crack at them.”

Race 7: Tyson

“You can forget about that debut run, it was a non-event for him the way the race panned out. He got way too far back and would need to have clocked ridiculous times to get into it. He has speed and feels like a nice horse but he’s very inexperienced. I wouldn’t expect him to round the others up but he won’t be disgraced.”

Race 7: Lincoln Lou

Update: Scratched on vet’s advice

“He’s a very nice colt. He’s a lot stronger this time in and he could develop into a serious horse. If he repeats his last run, he’ll be hard to beat. I think he might have the wood on Sugar Ray. He has better manners and probably a bit more speed too.”

Race 7: Sugar Ray Lincoln

“He won comfortably last time despite being three wide for much of the last lap and four wide turning for home. He’s a very good colt. There’s not much between him and Lincoln Lou.”

Race 9: Commander Lincoln

“He’s as honest as they come, he’d die for you, but he lacks a yard of sharp speed to be a serious horse. He has a draw upgrade and drops in class but things have to pan out for him.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Friday night at Albion Park

Race 8: Captain Nemo
6.33pm NZ time

“It’s not an easy race and, from an average draw, we’ll drive him quietly again so he’ll be at the mercy of the tempo. If he gets the right trip, I could see him hitting the line well and sneaking into the money but after this run to tighten him up he’ll be all set to go, close to winning.”

Les Harding

Les Harding

Saturday night at Port Pirie

Race 5: Beaudiene Rocknroll
10.02pm NZ time

“I’m very happy with him and confident he’ll run a top race but it’s hard to predict how he’ll measure up given this is a big step-up in class compared with the horses he has raced against for his last two wins.”

Dan Costello Race Photography