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Street on the late Trevor McKee: He was an astute, hard worker but a gentleman above all

Today he’s arguably the biggest racehorse owner in the country but when Lincoln Farms’ owner John Street was first starting out it was Trevor McKee who sparked his passion for racing.

Street has joined in the growing list of people paying tribute to the iconic Auckland trainer who died on Friday at the age of 81, saying McKee’s astuteness and willingness for hard work were two traits which he quickly discovered.

It was in the early 1990s and Street recalls buying a horse at the sales and approaching McKee to train it for him.

It was the start of a successful relationship which saw Street and his wife Lynne race a dozen horses in the McKee colours and enjoy some exciting times.

Street remembers his early visits to McKee’s stable where he could always be found.

“He was an old school, hands-on trainer who was always there. It was his life and he was a very hard worker.

“And he was very astute. We had our differences from time to time but he was an absolute gentleman.’’

One of the Streets’ early winners with Trevor McKee was Shinnecock Hills, ridden by Peter Johnson.One of the Streets’ early winners with Trevor McKee was Shinnecock Hills, ridden by Peter Johnson.The Streets have raced hundreds upon hundreds of horses in the intervening three decades but won’t ever forget their first, Weekend Warrior, whom McKee trained to win six races.

One of John Street’s most fond memories is the day Weekend Warrior won at Ellerslie in November, 1995, in front of the Queen who was in Auckland for a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

“We didn’t have any superstars but we had a lot of fun with horses like Shinnecock Hills (five wins), Delaney (five wins) and White Eagle (two wins).’’

Even after Central Districts trainer Lisa Latta took over training his horses, on the death of Malcolm Smith, Street says McKee always had time to stop and chat at the races, an observation made by so many people in recent days.

And whether it was attending celebration parties for the deeds of McKee’s champion mare Sunline or playing golf with his son Stephen, Street recalls being made welcome by the family.

At Royal Randwick in Sydney yesterday to watch his horse Platinum Invador contest the A$2 million Australian Derby, Street wondered if it all might never have happened without his first experience with one of racing’s treasures.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Trentham

Race 1: Lincoln’s Kruz

“He has come through his unlucky Awapuni run well and I am very happy with him heading into Saturday. We could have waited for Wednesday at Hastings where there’s a maiden 3yo 1400m but given there are only two winners in this race, and it’s worth $30K, it seemed a better option. If he can get some luck in the running this time he can be right in the finish.”

Race 2: Lincoln Raider

“He lightened off after the trip south but has quickly put the weight back on and I am happy with him. This is a drop in class from his last run at Riccarton but there are some handy types in the field in Miss Labasa, Times Ticking and Savette. His work has been good and with Kozzi Asano’s 2kg claim bringing his weight down to 58.5kg I expect him to be very competitive.”

Race 2: Lincoln Hills

“He ran a great race last time after being caught wide at Awapuni and has come through it well. He again has an awkward draw to overcome but there doesn’t appear to be an abundance of pace except for Miss Labasa so we will be positive on him. If he can run up to his best form, he is capable of being right in the finish.”

Race 3: Kamanda Lincoln

“Sam Collett felt he needed the run at Otaki last start. The new bit definitely helped him settle and he has a lovely draw again to get a nice run. I haven’t done a lot with him since he raced but I am very happy with him. Kozzi Asano will claim 2kg, down to 53.5kg.”

Race 3: Johnny Lincoln

“He gets in at a nice weight and is thriving. There was a lot of speed in the race at Awapuni which allowed him to finish well but there is no real natural front-runner in here so we may need to make sure he is put into the race. I am expecting another top run from him.”

Race 9: Platinum Road

“It’s a special condition maiden but there are only three winners in it so it’s more like a maiden for him. He ran a top race at Awapuni last time and will be better for that experience over 1600 metres. He has drawn well in barrier three and should again be able to get a lovely run just in behind the speed. He keeps improving and I expect him to hit the line really well again on this big, roomy track. Leith Innes will ride.”

Sunday at Waipukurau

Race 1: Ajay Lincoln

“He was beaten by the muddling pace and on-speed bias at New Plymouth last time. Robbie (Hannam) has always been adamant he will get up over ground and he gets his chance here. We will be positive from the gates and get him into the race to give him every chance to step up and show something.”

Race 2: Benny Lincoln

“Finally he’s got a nice draw. He has kept improving with the good tracks and, while this may be a touch short of his best distance, as long as he is finding the line I will be happy. He has a great attitude - he wants to be a racehorse - but he has just taken a while to mature.”

Race 4: Lincoln Hanover

“From a great one draw he should be able to get a lovely run in behind the speed. Robbie thinks he will get up over more ground but I have chosen to give him one more start over 1200 metres first. He is certainly capable of taking out this race.”

Race 5: Lincoln’s Gal

“She has a nice draw (four) to use and hopefully Robbie can end up in the one-one on her. She will strip far fitter on Sunday. I toyed with stepping her up over more ground but, given she blew out fresh-up, I felt another 1200 metre race was better for her. She placed in her only previous run at Waipukurau and I am expecting a far better effort this time.”