Day At The Track

Allied Express Vic Cup Rewind: Sokyola

05:51 PM 03 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Sokyola, Harness Racing
Sokyola

2004 – Sokyola delivers Justice his first Victoria Cup. “It’s the Aussie champ, Sokyola’s done it again!” Racecaller Dan Mielicki produced a trademark pearl for Race 7 at the Valley on 18 December 2004. Same can be said for Lance Justice, the straight-shooting harness racing horseman who put the hobbles on his superstar Sokyola that night and delighted favourite punters who took a ticket at the $2.10 on offer with the bagmen.

The win came during a season of astronomical success for Sokyola, an eight-year-old son of Sokys Atom out of a one-start maiden Chiola Hanover mare named Maudola (12th at Winton in 1995 on debut).

In fact, both 03-04 and 04-05 saw Sokyola unrivalled in the pacing game – named back-to-back Australian Harness Horse of the Year.

Soky won both Miracle Miles in those seasons at the then dream factory of New South Wales trots, Harold Park.

At the completion of his racetrack career, Sokyola had amassed $1,890,990 in stakemoney with 78 wins and 42 minor placings from 161 appearances.

For trivia buffs, the first of those successes came for a Kiwi trainer, Mervyn Todd, who drove Sokyola home in a three-year-old handicap at Invercargill in March 2000.

“Don McRae and Curly Thomas jacked up the sale for us,” Todd told the Southland Times in 2007.

“(Australian trainer) Lance Justice flew over and trialled him on my wee track. He only ran him over a furlong and commented he was a natural.”

That was enough for Justice to be won over. In Australia, Sokyola was raced by Colin Croft, who, like his trainer originated in South Australia. And Sokyola was not Croft’s first Horse of the Year, either. He famously raced Inter Dominion champion Markovina (1977’s premier trots performer).

In terms of Soky’s achievements, the 2004 Vic Cup win is remembered as one of his most memorable. Working to the front early for Justice, who incidentally earlier that evening piloted outsider Cam Strike home in the opener – the Claimers Cup, Sokyola dictated the pace early (74.7secs lead time, 31.7 first split and 32.5 second). “It is going to be a big sprint home here,” said Mielicki. “Have they played into Lance’s hands?”

They had.

At the 500m Justice began to up the stakes, Just An Excuse was extended by reinsman Todd Mitchell in the breeze, and Flashing Red, the Queenslander for Ian McMahon, was three-wide. Hexus, for Nathan Giles, was following Justice’s every move behind Sokyola, waiting to strike.

At full throttle Hexus worked home solidly along the inside but his late bid was always doomed to fail, with Sokyola having plenty in reserve up the stretch. Just An Excuse finished third and stuck to his guns but, in reality, Soky always had them licked in the run, winning by a metre and a half in 2:02.5 with a last quarter of 27-flat.

The triumph was Justice’s first in a Vic Cup but wouldn’t be his last. In the 2011 renewal he combined with his next champion, the indomitable Smoken Up at Tabcorp Park Melton.

And who’s to say there won’t be another? 

Book your Allied Express Victoria Cup dining package today

Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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