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1999 SIRES' STAKES 3YO FINAL - Won by Stars And Stripes


The finish to Cup Day's $150,000 NRM Sires' Stakes Final was full of stars and stripes. The horse by that name was there in the photo, but so were the colours - John Lischner's pink and black stripes, and Mark Purdon's royal blue with grey stars.

There have been numerous titanic battles between the two great horsmen, in training premierships as well as individual races, and Tuesday's 3-year-old event was no exception. This time it was Lischner's representative that got the biggest plum, Stars And Stripes holding gamely to the lead that Purdon's runner Falcon's Blue Jean ate into with a big home straight finish. Lischner had three horses in the Final, which is a unique achievement in itself. Outside of them filling the quinella or trifecta, probably his biggest wish was for the result that eventuated - winning, with Purdon's horse second.

"He is the best mate I've got in the industry," Lischner said afterwards. "We even baby sat his house when he was away on his honeymoon, and when we sent Emcee up north in the late-80s that gave him his first drive on a Cup class horse," he recalled. Talking of Emcee, he ran second in Megatrend's Sires' Stakes Final, and it is something he will never forget.
"With Stars And Stripes we had the perfect draw, and we got the perfect run - this is just one of those moments that you will always treasure."

There were a few anxious moments for the country's leading trainer though; right-hand-man and driver Ken Barron sat patiently three-back on the outer before making his move 600 metres out, and the New York Motoring gelding quickly zipped up to the leaders. "He was in front within a matter of strides, and I thought he had got to the lead too easy and too soon. I was hoping he wouldn't knock off once he was in front - he has done it in the past and it has cost him races. We have tried him in front at home and he is just no good, so Ken has had to change his style a bit when he drives this one," Lischner said, smiling.

The Ashburton horseman has never shelved his opinion of Stars And Stripes, freely admitting that he is the best that has been through the stable since Tartan Clansman. That former top pacer won nine races and was in the money 21 out of 27 times but never reached open class, so why the big wrap? "He set a New Zealand 2200m record in the wet at Alexandra Park, and four months later in the Superstars Final here at Addington he lost at least 70 metres at the start and still beat Master Musician - and that was in the wet too. I haven't seen too many horses do that."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 11Nov99

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