By Michael Guerin
The days of consolation races look over for Luke John.
And that means stepping up against the best three-year-olds around for the Christmas carnival at Alexandra Park next month.
The son of Mach Three made it three wins in his last four starts with his most professional victory yet against older rivals at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
He worked to the lead early for Tony Herlihy and had an in-form pacer in Jack Ryan covered around the home bend and won like a horse heading places.
That means stepping into the big time, something he only just missed three starts ago.
Luke John was an emergency for the Sales Series Pace, the delayed two-year-old version, won by Krug in September but won the consolation that night instead.
Now as a horse set to be rated in the 60s band the days of consolations are over and that suits Shane Robertson, who not only owns a share in Luke John but trains him in partnership with Logan Hollis.
“That is his big goal now, the three-year-old Sales Series Final on New Years Eve,” says Robertson.
“He can head there via the Alabar Classic a couple of weeks earlier so he is up against the best ones now.”
Robertson and his fellow owners have had some tasty offers for Luke John but he remains with them and their timing may well prove to be ideal.
While races like the Sales Series and Alabar are always tough to win they may lack some of the biggest names this season after the delayed and elongated two-year-old divisions so exactly who of the Canterbury stars makes it north is still unsure.
Regardless of what happens in December, Luke John looks to have a good future because staying looks more his forte so it would surprise to see him not in at least of the Derbys in the second half of the season.
Whether he is the stable star for Robertson and Hollis will be a good battle in itself over the summer as they have Christianshavtime back at the workout on Saturday and he looks an open class horse in the making.
“We think he will make his way there but maybe not next month,” says Robertson.
“We we aren’t aiming him at the Auckland Cup this year, but those sort of races will be the plan all going well next season.” One horse who looks certain to be in that Auckland Cup is South Coast Arden, who made it three wins from four starters this season winning Friday’s main race off a 25m handicap.
He was sent on a searching mid-race run by trainer-driver Brent Mangos and held out Dina Brown late, pacing 3:22 for the 2700m amended.
With his only defeat this term having comes at the hooves of Copy That, South Coast Arden could take plenty of catching for any horses chasing him off handicaps over the Christmas carnival.
The night’s other feature went to Sertorius in the main trot, making it back to back wins after sitting parked and outstaying stablemate Tricky Ric.