By Garrick Knight
The most interesting runner at Alexandra Park tonight is without a doubt Millwood Maizie.
Anyone watching Trackside last Saturday night might have done a double take when they scanned the fields earlier this week because she raced – and won – at Menangle.
“She only flew in to Auckland on Tuesday morning,” said Jamie Gameson, her part owner and new trainer.
Gameson is also her old trainer and, while she lines up in his name tonight, he won’t have actually laid a finger on her before the race.
“Todd MacFarlane is looking after her; he got up at 4.30 to meet the truck and worked her yesterday for me.
“He was pretty happy and said she worked well.”
There is a method to Gameson’s madness in starting her over 2700 metres from a stand less than four days after landing from Sydney – bearing in mind she has never had a standing start in 107 career outings.
“I want to bring her back up to Auckland at Christmas time for the Queen of Hearts so I thought I would chuck her in and let her have a look at the track.
“It’s a big ask but she has been racing horses just as good as any of those ones recently.”
He’s right – two starts ago she ran fourth behind millionaire pacer Bling It On in 1.50.2.
“And Luke (McCarthy, driver) said she would have run second if she didn’t get held up in the straight.”
McCarthy and Craig Cross, who train in Sydney, were the last leg of Millwood Maizie’s three-and-a-half year, three-state tour of duty across the ditch.
She had won one race – at Reefton – for Gameson when the decision was made to send her to Victoria as a three-year-old.
“It started with a chance meeting of her other owner, John Gould, and Nathan Jack at the Ashburton Harness Jewels the year before (2015).
“John was sitting at a table with Nathan at a function the night before and they just got chatting, as John does.
“He said he might be interested in sending Nathan a horse one day and six months later we decided to do it with her.
“Initially she went to Nathan and Amanda Turnball but then Nathan got in a bit of strife so we sent her up to Brisbane and a good mate of ours in Daren Garrard.
“He did an amazing job with her and, even though she had a lot of starts, she ran a truck load of placings.”
Once the decision was made to bring her home and serve the full sister to Ohoka Punter, a stopover in Sydney become appealing.
“We had to go to Sydney to fly home so we thought we’d go to Luke’s for a few starts.
“The first start she drew one and got up in 1.51.4, which was a new lifetime winning mark for her.”
After this week’s run, the plan is to target the restricted mares’ race at Addington on Show Day before a return to Auckland for the Queen of Hearts and then the two Addington mares’ features in the late summer, which will be her swansong.
A nomination is held for the Inter Dominions, but that clashes with the Queen of Hearts and is most unlikely.
“We are going to serve her in November so we can take in those two races at Addington early next year.
“Initially we held a booking to Captaintreacherous but at the last minute they said they don’t take them if they’re still racing – they want them to have a 40-day stand down before being served.
“So, we’ve gone with Downbytheseaside instead.
“I got talking to David Miller when he was driven down here a few years ago and asked him what horse he drives that he would recommend as a future stallion and, without hesitation, he said Downbytheseaside.
“At the time he was driving Always B Miki too, so I thought that was a big endorsement.”
Bookies have Millwood Maizie at $19 tonight, well adrift of race favourite Mach Shard ($3) and Triple Eight ($3.80).