Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2006/2007 Season
Leg 4:  Christchurch Casino New Zealand Pacing Free For All   2006/2007 Results   Points
             17/11/2006  Addington, Christchurch, NZ  2000m  Mobile Start  $NZ122,067
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Sly Flyin ... Courage Personified

by John Robinson

This article was first published in New Zealand Harness Racing Weekly, 22 November 2006, and is reproduced here with permission.

Sly Flyin's comeback this season has been nothing short of amazing, and last Friday he added another chapter to the fairytale when he brilliantly won the N.Z. Free-For -All at Addington.

The grand old campaigner was never in the race after starting from the second row, and even trainer/driver Tony Herlihy conceded that "things looked hopeless" early on.  By the time they'd swung for home, nothing had changed - Sly Flyin was surrounded by a wall of horses and chewing steel, throwing his head in the air.

"I thought at the top of the straight that we only needed a gap," Herlihy said.

"That's why I'd pulled the blinds and his plugs by then; I knew if some space came that it probably wouldn't last very long, so I wanted to have him revved up and ready to go."

Waiting for his moment to come, Herlihy somehow managed to squeeze Sly Flyin through a narrowing gap inside White Arrow and then let him rip ... on a surface deadened by constant rain, the way he ate up the deficit and caught the leaders in less than a furlong was truly remarkable.

"I suppose his sprint is his biggest asset, and like a lot of horses he's probably a fraction better coming from behind," Herlihy continued.

"But we've never really had the chance to drive him any other way because he's off long marks most of the time.

"He's a pretty all-round horse though, and he wouldn't give it away easy if he was bowling along in front either."


Sly Flyin NZ

The Sands A Flyin gelding has now headed back across the Tasman searching for retribution in the Miracle Mile - a race that he was primed to win last year before disaster struck.  He'd won the Newcastle Mile in a sizzling 1.53.6, but just days out from the Miracle Mile his trainer received the heart-wrenching news.

"He was staying at Vic Frost's, and Vic rung me on the Monday saying he wasn't happy with him at all.

"It wasn't his legs this time - they'd always looked ugly anyway - it was his near-side hoof that was sore.  We got it x-rayed and discovered a growth that was pushing against the pedal bone, so he was flown to Brisbane and had it removed."

Sly Flyin remained in Australia for about six weeks, then had another three or four months off when he got home; everybody knew it was  'make or break' time afterwards though - Herlihy would try the gelding once more and if he didn't stand up, his career was over.

Strangely enough, the 'new' Sly Flyin is as sound as he's ever been.  And for that Herlihy continually praises the work by Michelle Wallis at the beach, where Sly Flyin's been stationed for most of the last 18 months.

"With all the spells he's had due to injuries, he actually hasn't had a lot of racing.

"And he's still got the mind of a young horse.  He's very energetic, and always thrives on work and wants to be out there.

"We brought him up and trialled him two or three times during the winter, but then when there were no races for him we backed off again.  In hindsight that was the making of this preparation - because even though he hadn't raced for eleven months, he's been in work close to six.

"I'm just so pleased for Michelle, because winning the Free-For-All was such a big thrill for her, and all of us.

"If we can keep him sound, he could be around for another year or two yet."

All Time Pacing and Trotting Records pre-2001 please refer to the Australian Harness Racing Annual.

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