Rock Island Line’s win in the Revital Fertilisers 1400 at New Plymouth on Saturday will live long in the memory of Lisa Latta. The Rock ‘n’ Pop gelding’s victory was the 950th for the Awapuni conditioner and pushed her career earnings over the $20 million mark.
Latta was pleased with the run and is hoping the rising five-year-old will make the final field for the Group 3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton next Saturday. “We were a little bit concerned with how heavy the track was (on Saturday),” Latta said. “It was a good ride by Robbie (Hannam, jockey). “There was a bias towards the inside and he got a beautiful run. “He will head to Riccarton. The Winter Cup has always been a race that we would quite like him to start in. “He is so much bigger and stronger this time in.”
Latta has spent twenty years in the training ranks and said she learnt much of her craft from mentor and former training partner Malcolm Smith. “I worked for Malcolm for 13 years,” she said. “I had been in partnership with him for about 18 months when he passed away suddenly.” After Smith’s passing, Latta took the leap into training in her own right and has been supported by a loyal group of owners ever since. “A couple of the owners said that they would support me if I wanted to have a go. I took over about six to eight horses and it has grown from there,” she said. “Lincoln Farms, John and Lynne Street, have been a key supporter. They have given me the support to go the sales and pick out the horses that I want to train.”
While she grew up with horses, Latta said she knew very little about racing until she started working for Smith. “I had nothing to do with racing at all (when I joined Malcolm). I had a pony club and rodeo background, I have been with horses all of my life. “I worked for Malcolm for a long time. A lot of people would say he is a fantastic conditioner of a horse and his horses all looked a million dollars every time they stepped out.”
Latta has had many highlights in her twenty years training, but she noted winning the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) with Sentimental Miss at Trentham in March was a great thrill. The daughter of Reliable Man was also placed in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) and Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) in her three-year-old season and is being set some black-type goals in the new term. “She’s back in and she will trial at Foxton on the 30th (of July) and she really does look great,” Latta said. “We have put a nomination in for the Livamol Classic (Group 1, 2040m) and we are looking at options in Sydney in the spring, but she will tell us.”