Touch of Red rounding into good form
A Touch of Red produced his best showing of the season, as harness racing resumed from a three-week hiatus at the National Equestrian Centre last weekend.
Arnold Manders’s gelding swept both heats competing in the 1:06.1 – 1:08 time bar and came to within three -fifths of a second to getting both legs out of the division, with 16-year-old driver Nisuje Landy in the bike.
The nine-year-old Indiana-bred pony got a leg out after posting a 1:05.3, on the way to victory in his opening heat, in the second half of Sunday’s racecard.
Victory in the second heat completed the sweep, but was just short of getting a second leg out, which would have catapulted Manders’s pony up to the next time bar.
Reflecting on his pony’s performance, Manders said: “I was surprised what he did last weekend, because we haven’t even been to the track in three weeks. I expected him to be good, but not that good.
“He’s doing pretty good and we didn’t push him in the second heat.”
Manders is encouraged by the inroads his pony has made towards the goals he has set out to achieve this season.
“He’s (A Touch of Red) headed in the right direction,” he added. “We just take our time getting him ready to race rather than sending him straight out.
“My philosophy is take your time and get them ready, prep them before you really want them to go. We are starting to let him reel out now so we’ll see how fast he will go.
“We want to try and get him to go faster than his lifetime mark, which is 1:04.4. We want to try and get him down to the low 1:04s or late 1:03s. I don’t know if he can do it, but we are going to try.
“He was in the 1:05 time bar last year. But all the time bars have been changed because of the low number of entries this year.”
Manders is also delighted by the steady strides CedarBridge Academy student Landy has made competing in his third season as a driver.
“Nisuje is doing a great job,” he said. “He is very eager, is always there and puts in the work. He’s just reaping the rewards of his consistent training and I have been impressed with him.”
Prior to last weekend, the 2021-22 harness racing season had been suspended since New Year’s Day because of a low turnout of ponies, due to quarantined participants stemming from the latest wave of Covid-19 cases on island.
“It’s kind of hard when you race and then stop for weeks,” Manders added. “It’s hard to keep them going.”
A Touch of Red was among a trio of ponies getting a leg out of their respective time bars on the day.
Antwan Edwards’s gelding, Special Tux, and Edward Roque’s colt, GV Crystal Ball, also achieved the feat competing against each other alone in the 1:08.1 – 1:11. 3 time bar.
Posting the day’s fastest time was gelding, Simsfield Hardtimes, with driver Kirista Rabain at the helm.
The pair posted a 1:02.4 competing in the Free for All division, featuring the fastest ponies on island, which was three-fifths of a second shy of the season’s fastest time of 1:02.1, which they achieved on New Year’s Day.
“It was a good day of racing and Hardtimes has been strong for the last bit of races,” pony owner Aaron Sims said.
“Him and Kirista are getting along really good, which I think is a good thing. This is only her second race sitting behind him, and I think they are going to do good things together in races to come.”