Lions tour: Warren Gatland takes on Pinetree Meads at Pukekohe horse races
British and Lions coach Warren Gatland's horse has its first start at the races on Wednesday - and he's taking on Pinetree Meads.
Sir Colin Meads is one of the owners of Anahera Lass, which like Gatland's horse, Avaboy, is a newcomer to the races.
It's possible that Gatland might get to see his horse run as the Lions will be travelling through Pukekohe on Wednesday as they travel from Hamilton to Auckland to prepare for the first test against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday night.
Avaboy's trainer, Richard Collett, said he didn't know whether Gatland would be on course for the race for two-year-olds, which has only five runners.
"It would be nice if he could, but he's a busy man at the moment," joked Collett.
It had been hoped that Gatland would see Avaboy run at the start of the Lions tour, but a paperwork glitch by the horse's co-owners meant that Avaboy couldn't start at Ellerslie in Auckland when Gatland just happened to be in the city. The horse's name had not been registered.
Gatland bred and owns Avaboy with his father-in-law Terry Shaw and Henry Wilcox.
The young horse is promising, with Collett saying he "has a nice turn of foot".
But the trainer is wary about a puggy track and says if the horse managed to finish third he would be happy. "And I'd be even happier if he finished closer than that."
Meads, who is battling pancreatic cancer and was honoured with the unveiling of a statue in his home town of Te Kuiti on Monday, is a prominent horse owner, as is Gatland's nemesis, All Black coach Steve Hansen.
Bookmakers are picking that the Lions coach has a better chance of winning than the All Black legend. Avaboy is a $3.10 third favourite for the race while Anahera Lass is the outsider at $14.