Can sharpshooter Carter outgun Pinetree?
Dan's Waikato horse to race this weekendAIDAN RODLEY
Dan Carter was quick on the trigger to snare a share in a blue-blood filly from a leading Waikato stud farm.
Now, the All Blacks star will be hoping the filly can be just as fast.
Carter shares in the ownership of Chandelier, a filly who is the third-favourite for tomorrow's Group I $300,000 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham, one of New Zealand's most prestigious races.
The Crusaders first five-eighth won the share after out-pointing his All Blacks team-mates in a claybird shoot at Waikato Stud before the South Africa test in Hamilton in September 2009.
The filly burst into contention for the New Zealand Oaks with a fast-finishing second in a key leadup race at Hastings a fortnight ago.
Carter, whose Crusaders host the Bulls at AMI Stadium in Christchurch tomorrow, will be out to emulate rugby great Sir Colin Meads, who only last week celebrated Gr I ownership success with star Cambridge filly Ruud Awakening in the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie.
''I heard about Colin's win and I'm sure that would have put a smile on his face and made his beer taste a bit sweeter,'' Carter said yesterday.
''I'm pretty excited about the race on Saturday. To be honest I don't know a lot about racing but Mark [Chittick] and the guys at Waikato Stud have got me involved and it's given me a little bit of an insight. From what I've seen, it's an exciting industry - a lot of fun.''
Carter became a part-owner of the filly after winning a Claybird shooting competition at Waikato Stud's Game Gully in September, 2009.
The All Blacks visited Waikato Stud in the leadup to the South African test in Hamilton, taking in a tour of the Matamata farm and inspecting the stallions before enjoying some downtime at Game Gully, a shooting range on the farm.
To add a competitive edge to the shoot, Mark Chittick offered a 10 per cent share in a filly to the best shooter.
Carter made his way through to the last four along with captain Richie McCaw, Jimmy Cowan and Rodney So'oialo before emerging triumphant.
''In the final he had to shoot five targets and he got the lot. He was pretty impressive,'' Chittick recalled yesterday.
''I had a mate helping us out and as he handed Dan the gun he said 'You're under pressure now' and he said back 'I love pressure'.''
Chandelier wasn't Carter's original prize though.
''It's actually the third attempt,'' Chittick said.
''The first one had no ability and the second one got sick and we nearly lost her. Third time lucky though and Dan's really into it. He enjoys it.''
Chittick was delighted for Carter that he would now get the chance to experience owning a runner in a Gr I race.
While Carter won't be on-course at Trentham tomorrow, he said he would be tuned in for the race on Trackside.
''That's definitely the plan. I'll tune in at home,'' he said.
''I'll talk it up a bit at the captain's run tomorrow but I don't like bragging about her too much until she wins.
''But it's been a fun ride so far and Mark has kept me up to date with how she's going. He's pretty pumped up about it and he's got me pumped too.''
Chittick was delighted that Carter had got so enthusiastic about Chandelier.
''He's taken a real interest and it has created a bit of banter in the team,'' Chittick said.
''When Chandelier ran second at Ruakaka in her first start last year, she got beaten by one [Saffron] ridden by Sam Spratt and Dan copped it a bit from Zac Guildford, who is seeing Spratty.
''I had the opportunity to have a beer with Steve Hansen at Ellerslie last weekend and it was the first thing he brought up, so it's obviously creating a bit of interest which is bloody good for racing.''
So can she win?
''Up until the Lowland Stakes, I wouldn't have thought she could have but she really hit the line strongly that day and it was a bloody good run,'' Chittick said.
''Peter and Dawn have done a wonderful of getting her to the Oaks and she's from the family of an Oaks winner - Torquay - so the family does stay.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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