By Josh Smith – Harness News Desk
South Auckland trainer Andre Poutama is hoping The Batmobile can go one better than last start when he contests the Welcome Back On Course Mobile Pace (1700m) at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday.
The four-year-old gelding finished runner-up behind Vespa over 1700m at Cambridge a fortnight ago and it will be take two on Thursday, with amateur driver Frank Phelan once again taking the reins.
“He should have improved from his first run back,” Poutama said. “To be able to sit parked and do what he did, I was quite impressed with the way he went.
“He has found his grade in the amateurs. He’s in there to give Frank Phelan a drive.”
The son of Rocknroll Dance has once again drawn gate four and Poutama said similar tactics would likely be adopted.
“It will be pretty much like last start, to go forward and hopefully he can get to the top.
“He is a good winner’s chance.”
While The Batmobile is Poutama’s only stable runner of the night, he has picked up four outside drives and believes he has a couple of winning chances.
He identified Strength Of Heart as a leading contender in the Celebrating Danke 300th Race Milestone Handicap Trot (2200m) for trainer Ken Sefonte.
While the three-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight is yet to break maidens, Poutama said he is well overdue after six runner-up performances.
“He is due to get his maiden victory,” Poutama said. “He was trotting really well right up to lockdown. He is not far away from getting his first win.”
Poutama also highlighted Golden Lace as another leading chance in the Hidden Lake Hotel & Apartments Mobile Pace (2200m).
“She went really well a fortnight ago,” he said. “I just pulled the wrong rein and got nowhere. I should have stayed on the fence and we would have run third. But she made up ground late, so I think she is a winner’s chance on Thursday.”
He is also set to drive Ideal Lincoln in the Clubhouse Sportsbar & Café Open 7 Days Mobile Pace (2200m) and Recycle in the Farmlands Handicap Trot (2700m).
“Ideal Lincoln trialled well the other day,” Poutama said. “His draw (11) is probably not suitable for him. He is better being on the fence covered up and having one run at them.
“Recycle was a little bit disappointing last time. It is not like him to gallop like that. He didn’t begin very well either, but if he begins well on Thursday and gets in front he will be hard to beat.”
Poutama has been pleased with the way the season has gone to date, posting five training wins from 49 starts.
He is currently working a team of five horses, but he said he takes particular enjoyment out of breaking in youngsters.
“The season has been going well,” he said. “The types of horses that we have got is just the castoffs from everyone else.
“But we are slowly getting the two-year-olds around us at the moment and doing a lot of breaking-in for Phil Fleming. They get to stay up here and race.
“I enjoy the breaking-in side of things. I like the excitement that you don’t know what is going to happen when you are in the cart.”
Hailing from Palmerston North, Poutama admitted he was disappointed to see Manawatu Raceway left off the racing calendar for the 2020/21 season.
“They spent a lot of money to do the facilities up and to be told they can’t race there is pretty gutting for everyone in the Central Districts,” he said.
“You have got all the people down there who love to watch their horses race and without them being able to go to their home track is disappointing.”
Poutama honed his craft at Manawatu Raceway and said he hopes racing will one day return to the track.
“That’s where I learnt to drive,” he said. “It’s always good to be able to go back home and drive around there.
“Hopefully they do change their mind because a lot of people do go down there and they were good times away.
“It is well set-up for dual code meetings (with the greyhounds), so hopefully that will help things.”