Thanks for the memories Trojan, we’re going to miss you, but we know you’ll fly the Banner
Trojan Banner will be on a flight to the United States next week, the latest Kiwi recruit for high flying owner Richard Poillucci.
Trojan Banner, who won seven on the trot for Lincoln Farms from the Queensland stable of trainer Al Barnes, will join the Delaware team of Jim King and Jo Ann Looney-King, who are making all the headlines with world record-holder Shartin and a string of other New Zealand pacers.
And leading Auckland bloodstock agent John Curtin, who brokered the six figure deal, says he expects the colt to make his mark too, especially around the half mile Yonkers track.
“He’s a zippy little horse and will do a good job up there,’’ says Curtin who has sold Poillucci a host of big winners in the last four years.
While Shartin is his new pin-up pacer, the world’s fastest mare over a mile in 1:46.4, he has also had huge success with earlier Curtin buys.
His first, Nike Franco, became the fastest mare in North America in 2017 with a 1:48 clocking, and since then he has become hooked on the New Zealand breed with big winners like Christen Me, Bettor Joy, Duplicated, Big On Personality and Baileys Rock.
On the flight with Trojan Banner next week will also be Auckland Reactor mare Soho Burning Love, the winner of nearly quarter of a million dollars in Australia, and recent Oamaru winner Montefalco has also got his plane ticket north.
The sale brings to a close a relatively short but latterly spectacular 28-start career for Trojan Banner who was raced in partnership by Lincoln Farms, its trainer Ray Green, business manager Ian Middleton, Auckland office staffer Merle Gradwell, and a big group of others including Joe and Raewyn Chojnacki, Bob Best, Brian and Margaret Rabbitt, the eight Waikato lads in the Four Legs Syndicate and the 23-strong Green Machine Racing Syndicate from the South Island.
In New Zealand they saw him win three of his 18 starts, including his last start at Cambridge in January, before Green shipped him off to Queensland.
But even knowing he could milk the superior handicapping system in Australia nobody expected Barnes to get him to win his first seven races on end, the horse seemingly getting better with each fresh scalp.
Barnes peaked the horse expertly for the Queensland Derby last month and only a second row draw kept him out of the major money, his closing sectionals in running a close fifth faster than winner Self Assured.
Barnes says he’ll be sorry to see the horse go down the drive.
“He was a real handful round the stable because whenever he saw other horses he wanted to play and reared up.
“But he was also a pleasure round people, he always loved a cuddle.
“When he came here we thought he’d be handy but we didn’t expect to win seven in a row. We were very lucky and had a good run with him but we also got him pacing better.
“I think he’ll do a super job in America and will be one of the better ones they’ve bought. But I reckon he’ll be better round the Meadowlands than Yonkers because he’s so tough and has so much stamina.
“He loves to chase and down that 400 metre straight he’ll just keep coming because he can maintain his speed for so long.
“He’s got speed but it’s heart that wins races - and he’s all heart.”
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Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Bettor My Dreamz
“I think he’s a chance from the draw. He’s had only a handful of starts but I don’t think they’re much better than him, a bit more experienced perhaps. But he’s an improver and David said he felt improved at the workouts last Saturday.”
Race 2: Just Wing It
“Andre’s keen on him - he could have driven the other horse - so we’ll see what sort of a judge he is. I’ve been very happy with him in the last few weeks - he’s pacing a lot better.”
Race 5: Sir Tiger
“He’s done a great job so far but he’s jumping up in class and he’ll be up against it from now on, especially from that second row draw. He just lacks a yard of speed.”
Race 7: The Empress
“She’ll go well again and just needs some luck from the inside second row. There’s not a lot between her and Bettor My Dreamz. She’s a lovely mare.”
Saturday night at Melton
Race 8: Perfect Stride
11pm NZ time
“I’m confident he’ll go well. I couldn’t say I’m overly confident he’ll beat them but all things being fair and equal I think he’ll be right there. He’s certainly ready to go. His work this morning was super and he’s really feeling good.”
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 6: Northview Hustler
9.40pm NZ time
“It’s only an eight horse field and he should get a great trip behind the leader. It was only (lack of) fitness that got him last week but he should be winning this week.”