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Hastings win steers Times Ticking to Riccarton

Times Ticking, [red side winkers] strides to the front to win the Red Badge Spring Sprint over 1400m at Hastings. PHOTO/TRISH DUNELL


Veteran Opaki trainer Alby MacGregor will chase more black-type glory with the talented Times Ticking after the gelding won the Group Three Red Badge Spring Sprint [1400m] in an incident-packed finish at Hastings on Saturday.

The seven-year-old hadn’t been seen since finishing third at the venue back in early July, however, MacGregor had him in peak condition off the back of an easy trial win over 1000m at Foxton earlier in the month.

In a race where numerous runners wanted to take advantage of being close to the pace, rider Opie Bosson sat back towards the rear before looming into contention approaching the home turn. Just as Old Town Road claimed pacemaker Tavis Court and looked set for victory, Times Ticking arrived with a sustained closing burst to nab the pair and record his seventh career victory.

However, the drama of the close finish wasn’t over as Times Ticking and Old Town Road moved in considerably at the post and squeezed Tavis Court resulting in a chain reaction that had the riders of Old Town Road [Lisa Allpress], Tavis Court [Faye Lazet], Cross Roads [Darren Danis] and Pull No Punches [Mereana Hudson] all dislodged from their mounts.

MacGregor was delighted to see his pride and joy take the win after he had finished second in the race last year to subsequent Group One winner Two Illicit, but also expressed his concerns about what happened at the winning post.

“I was very pleased with him going into the race, but sometimes you just don’t know on that type of track,” McGregor said.

“I told Opie I wasn’t giving him any instructions and to just play it how he saw it.

“He stripped a fit horse and he had enough to put in a finish like that on a pretty tricky track, so it was a class ride.”

“It was great to see him win but I have to admit I was worried when I saw those jockeys on the ground at the end.

“That’s something that you never want to see and thankfully they all got away pretty much unscathed,” he said.

All riders involved in the finish line skirmish were quickly back to their feet, but both Allpress and Lazet were stood down from their remaining rides on the programme.

MacGregor will now consider a hit-and-run mission to the New Zealand Cup Week Carnival at Riccarton in November, where the Group Three Coupland’s Bakeries Mile [1600m] is the target for Times Ticking.

“We want to see how he comes through this race, but I am thinking about Riccarton,” he said.

“I don’t think he will have another run before then as he goes well fresh and as long as he is fit and well then that’s what he will be set for.”

MacGregor will need to find a new jockey for Riccarton after Bosson was suspended for six weeks for his involvement in the finish at Hastings.

Times Ticking has now won seven of his 23 starts and over $194,000 in prizemoney.

Fellow Opaki trainer Jim Wallace also tasted success at Hastings on Saturday with the talented Pennyweka in the Mardigras Events 3YO Premier over 1300m.

Wallace was not confident the three-year-old filly would handle the heavy surface fresh-up, but after settling near the rear of the field Pennyweka powered home under the urgings of Sarah O’Malley to win by 1.5 lengths to record her first victory in three starts. – NZ Racing Desk

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