National Service will attempt to win a second country cup for the Lane family on Sunday.
Charlton’s showcase race could give a trotting family an unforgettable win with an old favourite.
National Service has returned from the brink of retirement to flash home and win in his last two starts, giving his Horsham owners the confidence to steer it to Sunday’s Charlton and District Community Bank 2016 Charlton Pacing Cup.
Justin Lane shares ownership of National Service with wife Jo and parents Kevin and Lesley, who have been there from the start having bred and raised the horse.
It was with a heavy heart that they contemplated retirement about this time last year for the then nine-year-old after National Service tore his hind suspensory.
“Being the age that he is we intended to retire him,” Justin said. “But dad said jog him up and give him one more go, because you are a long time retired.”
Lane oversaw a patient recovery of jogging and resting before he returned National Service on January 16 in the Shepparton BMW Pace, where he loomed up to the leaders from three wide only to tire in the straight and finish 17m last.
The fade didn’t deter the loyal owners and they returned the gelding to Grant Campbell and Kerryn Manning’s stable, where he again showed plenty of cheek.
“He is a bit of a funny horse, not many at the stable at Kerryn and Grant’s get along with him all that well, he has a few quirky habits, but it’s good to see him come back.”
Justin, president at Horsham Harness Racing Club, has a particularly close affinity with National Service, winner of the 2014 Hamilton Pacing Cup.
Not only did he breed the horse, but he trained it to nine wins from its debut in December 2008 until December 2012 before handing the reins to Campbell and Manning to “see how they can improve him and get the best out of him”.
Though age 10 and off a lengthy lay-off the best may yet be to come for the gelding out of Legacy Of Power and Muckinbar Miss given his last start performance at Swan Hill.
“He’s had three runs back after 12 months off and his last two races have been very good, particularly at Swan Hill where he shouldn’t have won from where he was,” Justin said.
On that occasion National Service came from five-wide and well back to mow down the leaders at Swan Hill, which featured a 27.1 final quarter. National Service’s last 400m was likely not much more than 26 seconds despite curling wide.
That has boosted confidence in the camp ahead of Charlton.
“He’s been good at the country cups in the past and, going on those two runs, we thought we’d give him a shot at another cup," Lane said.
"The Swan Hill sectionals were scintillating. With the right run he’s as good as any other horse in the field.
“It will be up to Grant, but we won’t be planning anything too silly on the day. He will drive him for a bit of luck. It’s a bit of a buzz to have a horse good enough to run in any cup.”
And the family fun will continue on the race day, with National Service’s half-brother Polar Opposite, trained by Lane, to run in race three.
“He’s had three wins and a place from his last five starts, so there are promising signs.”
Charlton Pacing Cup Honour Roll
1982 $2,000 Brahms Lullaby (Rex Kerr) FT 2250m SS 2:07.1
1983 $3,000 Bank Buster (Daryl Nioa) 10m 2250m SS 2:06.2
1988 $9,000 Scamp Racer (Gavin Lang) FT 2250m SS 2:05.3
1989 $9,000 Tuned In (Ted Demmler) FT 2250m SS 2:05.7
1990 $6,000 Rufus Young Blood (Dick Lee) FT 2240m MS 2:01.6
1990 $6,000 Lord Greystoke (Joe Borg) 10m 2250m SS 2:05.0
1991 $6,000 Franco Gold NZ (Jim O'Sullivan) FT 2240m MS 2:07.0
1992 $3,500 Imprimartar (Neil McCallum) 30m 2250m SS 2:04.5
1993 $4,500 Our Brenray (Jim O'Sullivan) FT 2240m MS 2:01.5
1994 $5,000 Its Nero's Fiddle NZ (Stephen Dove) 10m 2680m SS 2:06.0
1995 $6,000 Mister McKinzie (Gavin Lang) FT 2250m MS 2:04.3
1996 $7,000 Coco's Dream NZ (Lou Austin) 30m 2680m SS 2:04.7
1997 $10,000 Ryans Day NZ (Ahmed Taiba) FT 2680m MS 2:03.6
1998 $10,000 Low Bronze (Julian Jobe) FT 2645m MS 2:05.2
1999 $10,000 Rosco Robust (Graeme Morgan) FT 2645m MS 2:03.5
2000 $12,000 Show Of Hands (John F Ryan) FT 2625m MS 2:04.6
2001 $8,000 Loaded Hog NZ (Andrew Vozlic) FT 2625m MS 2:02.3
2002 $8,000 Jilliby Magic (Kerryn Manning) 10m 2650m SS 2:02.5
2003 $15,000 The Good Guy (Grant Campbell) FT 2650m SS 2:02.6
2004 $15,000 Sir Romulus (Matthew Craven) 10m 2650m SS 2:03.2
2005 $15,000 Cool Chip NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT 2570m SS 2:04.0
2006 $20,000 Poppys Boy (Stuart Govers) FT 2570m SS 2:03.2
2007 $20,000 Blakey (John Justice) FT 2570m SS 2:02.2
2008 $20,000 Road To Rainbow (Daryl Douglas) FT 2570m SS 2:02.1
2009 $20,000 Ohoka Utah NZ (Lance Justice) FT 2570m SS 2:03.9
2010 $25,000 Just Wal (Damian Wilson) FT 2570m SS 2:01.0
2011 $25,000 Our Hillview Gold NZ (Daryl Douglas) FT 2570m MS 2:01.5
2012 $25,000 Abettorpunt (Caleb Lewis) FT 2570m MS 1:59.8
2013 $25,000 Uncle Wingnut NZ (Michael Bellman) FT 2570m MS 1:59.8
2014 $25,000 Five Star Anvil NZ (Gavin Lang) FT 2570m MS 2:00.7
2015 $25,505 Barynya (John Caldow) FT 2570m MS 1:56.5
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