In what was her 138th race and the commencement of her eighth season of racing, Some Direction stepped it out like a 2-year-old to win the time honoured and attractive trophy at her fourth attempt - she was sixth in 2004 and third for the last two years. It was the daughter of Sundon's 24th win, while with 18 seconds and 17 thirds and numerous other cheques she has now won $274,000 with no signs of slowing down.
Some Direction is now only two races away from being a centurion at Addington, where she has now recorded 15 wins and become seemingly an almost permanent fixture in recent years. Her first six wins came at Ashburton (two), Washdyke (two), Oamaru and Forbury Park, but 15 have come at headquarters.
Some Direction will next attempt to further her quite extraordinary Addington record in the $30,000 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup in about a month, a race she won last year by coming off 10 metres to down Rowe Cup winner Inspire. The Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup also beckons, although Lynn Smitt is not sure whether she likes grass tracks as much as Addington. "She has never really excelled on grass, but she hasn't raced much on them either," said Smith. One has to in fact go back almost five years to November, 2002, for the last time Some Direction raced on a grass track, when an unlucky fourth at Orari when assessed as a four-win horse, while the only other time she has raced on the grass was when second and beaten a nose at Motukarara the previous February.
Whether Some Direction tackles that Cup or not will be a sidelight though to her main mission of NZ Cup Week and the Dominion on the final night, where she was a close fifth last year. Three years ago on NZ Cup Day she recorded perhaps her best performance when she downed Whatsundermykilt and the open class trotters in the Christchurch Casino Trot, sitting parked but winning in what is still a national record of 3:17.8 for 2600m from a stand and at odds of 76-to-one.
Smith, who races Some Direction with husband Gerry and son Justin and trains her with the latter in what is very much a family affair, downplayed her latest performance by pointing out that she was "lucky striking a field with a few of the stars missing", but she deserves every reward she gets just for perseverance and consistency. Her main rivals in stablemates Lord Burghley and Rhythm Of The Night are already sick of the sight of Some Direction, and they had pretty much conceded the Ordeal Cup to her before the race began last week. It was left to a spirited bid by Sundon entire Diedre Don to make a race of it, but his task of sitting outside the mare after circling the field a lap out was a forlorn one. Some Direction had been given an easy lead from the 2000m and Justin Smith merely had to turn the wick up over the last 800m in 58.6.
After Some Direction's form had got a little indifferent towards the end of her last campaign and some thoughts had turned to a possible retirement this year, such considerations have well and truly been put on the back burner for now. "Her form did drop away a bit and we weren't too sure what was going on, outside of having a bit of a cold for a while. We had expected her to go very well in her last race last season, but when Justin pulled her out there was nothing there. So we turned her out for a month and a bit earlier than usual, and wondered whether we might be pulling the stumps on her racing career this year."
Some Direction responded to that notion by winning two trials as easily as her raceday resumption. Smith is unsure what has given Some Direction such a degree of longevity, but notes the French sire of her dam as a likely source of toughness. Gekoj was probably the best of the four French trotting sires imported by Oddvar Andersen back in the early 80s, and was propably unlucky to be lost after just four seasons at stud. He sired about 100 foals and 19 winners outside of the great David Moss along with Look (9 wins) included good sorts in Cocokoj (5 NZ wins), Diamond Trail (7 NZ wins), Drott Moss (13 NZ wins, $111,685), French Warrior (4 NZ wins, US1:57.3) and Koy's Game (5 NZ wins). His mares have also poduced several fine performers, most notably Stig outside of Look's Now Another Look and Some Direction, while Take A Moment was from a mare by another French sire in Jet d'Emeraude.
Gekoj certainly had an impressive pedigree of French siring greats and Look has now produced eight winners from her first eight foals, after Speculate won at Ashburton by downing Desert Victory. That sister to Some Direction and the third of four foals bred by the Smiths from Look - Lynn takes turns with her sisters Helen Pope and Denise Nyhan - produced a CR Commando colt two years ago and was then brought back into work. "She goes pretty good actually, but we've just had another problem with her and I'm not too sure where her future lies at the moment."
Having had a good experience with Gekoj, Smith is looking favourably upon new French sire Love You should it come to that (breeding) with either Some Direction or Speculate this season. Then there is just the small matter of Some Direction's grandam being Someday, a good trotting mare by Light Brigade from Passive (U Scott) who also produced the splendid About Now (25 wins).
Smith also notes that while Some Direction has done a lot of racing, she has not done much travelling due to being a "picky eater" when away and she has hardly been stressed much either. "The focus has always been about just keeping her happy - she seems to be a lot happier in the float than in the paddock anyway."
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 19Sep07
If anything, Whatsundermykilt and Some Direction have raced into action this season already near top form again, and in fact they're winning earlier than the did last season. Some Direction first won last season on October 13 - in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup - but this season she's won a month earlier. And for Whatsundermykilt it's come a week earlier; last season it was in the Flying Mile at the expense of Allegro Agitato.
The pair, with more than 220 starts between them, are 9 and 10 respectively, which means they've done a lot of hard yards. And they've won a lot of money - something like $600,000 between them. No wonder they had to give starts to all but Pompallier in the Giannis Pita Bread Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington last Friday night.
Between them, they made a great finish of it: Whatsundermykilt hauling in Some Direction after giving the mare at least six lengths start at the 600m, and covering much ground to get to her. Some Direction had been sent to the front at the 1600m by Justin Smith. It was an enterprising move and would have paid off had Whatsundermykilt not carried such a sustained run for as long as he did. The break she pinched 150m out looked the winning of the race, but Shane Wilkinshaw had other ideas as he set Whatsundermykilt after her.
"He had to be brilliant," he said. "The mare made it hard for us, and I thought we had too much to do. It hadn't been easy getting round. Lord Burghley, in front of us, was hanging, and we went from four-wide at the 600m to five-wide turning in. It was a big run," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 17Oct07
Part-owner, co-trainer and driver Justin Smith had Some Direction beautifully placed on the outer early, so well positioned in fact that he didn't even need to ask her to move until the field approached the final bend. Once he set her alight Some Direction swept around the field and trucked home better than anything, winning the 3200 metre event in a creditable 4:11.7.
The victory put an end to the run of 'big event almosts' that her and her connections have had to contend with lately, because she has run fourth in each of the last three Group 1 races she has tackled - March's Trotters Championship (to Allegro Agitato), last year's Dominion Handicap (Pompallier) and the NZ Trotting Free-For-All (Allegro Agitato) a week earlier.
It seems like Some Direction has been around for ages - and literally, she has; the Sundon mare gained her first win at Waskdyke in February 2001, over five and a half years ago! In all she has made 120 starts, and has now won 20 of them. Considering that last Friday's win was her first major one, her stakes tally of over $216,000 in amazing in itself, but if anything it just highlights how consistent she's been throughout her career. For the record, those 120 outings have also yielded 17 seconds, 13 thirds, 24 fourths, 11 fifths and 11 sixths...only 16 times has she not taken home a cheque.
"Yeah, she goes pretty good most weeks," said Smith afterwards, in his typically understated manner. She's got speed and she can stay - she hasn't really got any faults. She would be impossible to replace." Now nine, Some Direction still looks and is performing like a horse half her age, and there is no talk of retiring her just yet. "When she won her last race last season, it was one of her best performances ever; that helped decide it," Smith said.
Some Direction's been victorious at Addington 11 times, Ashburton (four), Washdyke (twice), and Rangiora, Oamaru and Forbury Park (once). As that suggests, she is not a horse that the Smiths go very far with. "She's never been a good traveller, even on short trips," he said. "And she's no quite as good the Auckland way round either. There's always another race for her here at home."
Some Direction's next main target will be the Cup Meeting at Addington, where Smith says that backing up three days apart won't worry her one bit. In the touch she's in, it would be no surprise to see her grab an even higher accolade...
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 18Oct06
If there has been any criticism of Sundon's progeny at all, it has been their lack of success at Group 1 level as aged trotters, a fact that could perhaps be attributed to their preference for sprinting as opposed to staying.