Hart Joins Elite Club With NZ Oaks Triumph

CANTERBURY conditioner Tony Hart joined an elite NZ training club when Charlotte Lu dashed to her smart New Zealand Oaks victory last Friday.

Peter Fenemor

17 May 2022

CANTERBURY conditioner Tony Hart joined an elite New Zealand training club when Charlotte Lu dashed to her smart New Zealand Oaks victory last Friday.

Hart became just the third Kiwi greyhound trainer to mentor the Group 1 NZ Derby and NZ Oaks winner during the same season. Both races carried a $50,000 stake.

Craig Roberts (1999) along with Dave and Jean Fahey (2009) have previously achieved the Restricted Age blue-ribbon training double in the same season.

Charlotte Lu utilized her phenomenal mid-race pace to put the NZ Oaks result to bed by railing underneath the Fahey-prepared early pace-making Opawa Gina.

From there she maintained her freewheeling gallop to claim her NZ Oaks (520m) victory in 30.10s by a length and a half. Opawa Gina kicked on stoutly for second, two lengths ahead of her kennelmate Milky Tea.

“Absolutely awesome – really proud of her, although I admit I was crapping myself when Opawa Gina led her out, thinking we were all done.

“Then she stuck to the rail like a magnet and I relaxed a bit when she led at the back mark – she is getting stronger all the time,” advised Hart, who produced another two winners during the premier evening of Addington chasing action.

It was also a magical result for Charlotte Lu’s owner Jose Arthur who also owns the NZ Derby winner Diego Jem.  

Jose, along with husband Donald, also got the bulk of their sponsorship money back, as they are the principals of the sponsoring Selwyn-Rakaia Vet Services.

And the legacy of the late master Kiwi conditioner Ray Adcock continues with both the Oaks and Derby winners grand-dam being Mini’s Fantasy (Premier Fantasy-Miss Mini Mouse), whom Adcock brought to New Zealand from New South Wales in 2012 with the intention of breeding from her.

Craig Roberts was another trainer who came out firing on Friday with his racing stock, returning home with five-winners, which encompassed three quinella’s.

Included was Melville Bale who led throughout to stylishly annex the Group 1 NZ St Leger (520m).

He withstood the late pressure applied by kennelmate Naya Bale when landing his three-quarter length victory in 30.04s.

Know Keeper is a pure staying phenomenon – a genius!

We saw that when the Garry Cleeve bred, co-owned and trained staying athlete treated his rivals with utter contempt when he cruised to effortless 42.87s 732m win in the Group 2 Kingston Cup.

In doing so he extended his unbeaten staying record out to an unprecedented 14 consecutive victories.

Know Keeper always had his rivals covered with the knockout blow to his rivals being delivered via his searing sectionals. He was lonely at the judge as seen by his dominant eight-length margin.

Cleeve has discarded plans to cross the Tasman with his star stayer, electing to stay at home to chase after New Zealand’s most prestigious race, the 779m Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

Interest in the $90,000 event, which will be decided at the Manukau Stadium on June 12, ramped up over the weekend with news that the ageless Victorian trainer Gerrie O’Keefe will make another trans-Tasman raid on the Silver Collar with Here’s Tears.

He mentored the outstanding stayer Ring The Bell to victory in the 2017 Silver Collar edition, then O’Keefe left him in the care of the late Ray Adcock who produced him to win the great race again the following year.