As race sponsor, Andrew Grierson will be in the winner's circle at Alexandra Park on Friday night handing out the booty after the Woodlands Northern Derby.
But the joint boss of the leading South Auckland standard red stud farm was on the other side of the handshaking today when debutante Cherry Vain scored on thoroughbred racing's big day at Ellerslie.
Grierson and three friends from Australia own the speedy filly, who scored in a manner that would suggest she will live up to the name of the race, the Baby On The Move Two-Year-Old.
They bought the Nicconi baby five weeks ago after trainer Nigel Tiley spotted her breeze-up trial on a video of horses who went through the ready-to-run sale last November.
"Nigel said that of all the horses he saw on the video, she was the one he liked the most, and if she was still for sale we should have a crack at her," Grierson said.
The filly had been passed in at $75,000 by Cambridge's Diamond Lodge, and when Grierson, a leading vet, inspected her at Trent Busuttin's stable, he liked what he saw.
They settled on a price, Grierson took in his Melbourne friend of 30 years, Garth Lockyer, and two of his business partners from Perth as partners, and they named her Cherry Vain after the cherries Lockyer buys from New Zealand and the influence of the stallion Vain in her pedigree.
Cherry Vain, who had been impressive in winning her first trial for Tiley at Avondale a month ago, was lucky to make the start of the $30,000 race today.
"This horse hasn't worked for the last three days - she's been that shin-sore," Tiley said.
"That's why she only walked the last 100 metres. But she's smart, all right."
Grierson, whose stud stands champion pacing sire Bettor's Delight, said he had been "dual-gaited" for many years.
He once treated solely thoroughbreds when working for stud co-owner Charlie Roberts, and then did veterinary work in Ireland for several years for top thoroughbred racing names like owner the Aga Khan and trainer Dermot Weld.
Grierson, who also races gallopers Girl Of My Dreams and Nine Pins in his green and white-spotted colours, said that as a vet he could identify with the trials owners have to shoulder.
And it was Grierson who Tiley turned to after the race when suggesting Cherry Vain might need some treatment post-race to help her shins recover from the run.
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