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Lincoln River was one of four winners on the Auckland card for Zachary Butcher.

Zac has new PAK’nSAVE owners celebrating after finding the key to Lincoln River

If a hefty supermarket gift pack arrives on Zachary Butcher’s doorstep in the next few days he’ll know who it’s from.

Only Butcher’s talent as a horseman got Lincoln River home at outsized odds at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, much to the delight of the partnership’s newest members.

Just last month, Lincoln Farms’ owner John Street, in a gesture of extreme kindness, offered a 50% share in the beautifully bred pacer at a charity auction in Auckland.

And it saw Glenn Cotterill, Rayner Bonnington and nine other PAK’n SAVE owners, attending Foodstuff’s 100-year celebration dinner, bid $100,000 to benefit the Foodies Foundation.

Street told the gathering that the Bettor’s Delight colt was still six months away from his best but in four starts since he has still managed to notch a second and a win.

Had it not been for Butcher’s skills, however, Lincoln River would almost certainly not have won last night, returning a $17 win dividend to his followers.

Lincoln River has his rivals well covered on Thursday night. PHOTO: Megan Liefting/Race Images.Lincoln River has his rivals well covered on Thursday night. PHOTO: Megan Liefting/Race Images.Butcher drove the horse in training at Pukekohe two days earlier, noting “he was having me on” and confirming the observation by fellow stable staff that the colt sometimes felt terrific on the track and at other times didn’t seem to try.

Butcher’s solution was to drive Lincoln River hard in the running and to fit pull down blinds to wake him up late in the race.

Quick action at the start by Butcher extricated Lincoln River from behind the galloping Bettor Than Bronze and, while he was content to sit three back in the running line round the first two bends, he released the brakes down the back straight and sprinted hard to the front.

On the home turn, with rivals powering up two, three and four wide, it looked curtains for the colt but when Butcher pulled the cord to activate the blinds on straightening, Lincoln River found another gear and kicked clear.

At the line he had one and a half lengths to spare over the well fancied The Big Dance, his closing sectionals of 57.4 and 28.8 capping a tidy 2:43.7 run.

The win was the first of four for Butcher who also scored on Call Me Trouble, whom he also trains, the unbeaten two-year-old Merlin and up-and-coming trotter That’s What We Do, taking his season tally to 50.

Street didn’t have to look far to congratulate one of his partners in the two-year-old, ATC steward David Turner there in the hospitality room, handing out the champagne.

Well done River … David Turner, right, Phil Kelly, middle, and David Hooker with their champ after the race.Well done River … David Turner, right, Phil Kelly, middle, and David Hooker with their champ after the race.Turner, like many punters who sent the horse out one of the favourites in many of his previous starts, was just kicking himself for not staying onside, backing him only for a place.

But later in the barn, posing along with his mate Phil Kelly and fellow partner David Hooker, Turner forgave the horse, dreaming of a bright future for the son of New Zealand Oaks winner Ideal Belle.

Street was there too, patting the colt.

“Lynne and I only own about 30% of him now but it was for a good cause.”

The Lincoln River partnership also includes Barbara O’Mara, Dave Jones, Lin and Tina Guo and Ian Middleton.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Cambridge

Race 3: Lincoln Lou
6.39pm

“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”

Race 5: Commander Lincoln
7.31pm

“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”

Race 8: Onyx Shard
8.55pm

“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”

Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
8.55pm

“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”

Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
8.55pm

“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”

Race 9: Frisco Bay
9.22pm

“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time

“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”

Dan Costello Race Photography