Mathews hoping to come up roses at Awapuni

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  • August 09, 2023
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By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Howie Mathews is hoping he can come up roses at Awapuni on Friday when he takes three runners to the Palmerston North synthetic meeting.

The trio of runners make up the Otaki trainer’s entire racing team, which he fits around his gardening business he runs with his wife.

“We only work three racehorses as we do gardening for the Otaki community, which helps pay the bills,” Mathews said.

“We maintain our own property on the Otaki racecourse. My wife needed a part-time job and she got into it (gardening) with a friend and they dragged me along to do the hedges.

“We only do two hours a day, which is enough with the horses.”

Mathews will take time away from gardening on Friday and head to Palmerston North where he is hoping to come home with a couple if winning cheques.

In-form seven-year-old Free Spirit will lead the stable charge when she lines-up in the McVerry Crawford 1700.

The daughter of Charm Spirit has hit a purple patch of form on the polytrack, winning her last two starts on the surface, and Mathews is hoping for a third this week.

“She just loves it,” he said. “She has had a little bit of a freshen-up since she won there last start and I am expecting another strong run from her.

“We were gifted her from Roger James. We tried her on really heavy tracks and she really wasn’t going that great on them. When the synthetic track opened at Palmerston North it was a bit of guess work, but we would give her a go on the synthetic and Lo and behold she loves it.

“She is seven now and she is just coming of age. She seems to be doing everything perfectly. We are really pleased with her going forward.”

Free Spirit will be joined in her race by stablemate Weeneedashock, who will be fresh-up in the 1700m contest.

“He is a fresh runner coming in,” Mathews said.

“I like to go on the synthetic when they are fresh-up because it is not so hard on them.

“If you go somewhere on a Heavy11 it can be a bit too hard on them and it takes them a wee bit to bounce back from. On the synthetic, it doesn’t seem to worry them.”

Mathews is also looking to lining-up Susie Jane in the Whisker Forestry 1200.

The Nadeem mare won first-up on the surface in June before two further placings, and pleased her conditioner with her fourth placing on a Heavy10 track at Trentham last start.

“She is an all-rounder,” Mathews said.

“She had a couple of runs on the synthetic, won first-up and had a couple of placings. She was very fit and I put her in at Trentham and she acquitted herself so well on that heavy track. She was a tad unlucky not to run a bit closer to the winner, but she went a super race.

“She has had a bit of a freshen-up as well. Going fresh on the synthetic over 1200m, they will know she is there.”

If she were to perform up to expectations this week, Mathews is contemplating loftier targets with the mare.

“If Susie Jane goes really well I would be looking to step her up to something a little bigger on a premier day perhaps,” he said.

“She showed at Trentham that she is quite equipped on a heavy to soft track. She has really come of age.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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