Day At The Track

Animal wins opening Regional Championships Heat

06:17 PM 07 May 2020 NZST
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Animal (right) races down the inside of Firestorm Red to win his TAB Western Regional Championships Heat.
Alexander Grant Photo

With a cheeky grin harness racing trainer/driver Steve Turnbull snatches the race cloth out of daughter Amanda's hand and takes them back to the racks while shaking his head.

It's because she bolted down the inside to win Wednesday night's TAB Western Region Championship Heat 1 (2,260 metres) with Animal ($3.20), just as Steve had looked to have the win sewn up with Firestorm Red ($1.35 favourite).

The two Turnbulls exchanged friendly banter in the stables post-race and the younger of them had a smile on her face throughout it all.

And that's no surprise when you consider the ticket she just booked.

Victory for Animal has earned him a place in the Group 1 $100,000 TAB Western Region Championship Final to be held later this month.

Turnbull knew the draw would make for a tough heat but her runner turned up at his best.

"I didn't think I'd be able to catch. He had the better draw and I was stuck on the fence," she said.

"He raced so good. When he didn't pull I knew he'd get home.

"He's always had a bit of ability but can overrace and that takes the sting out of him. Tonight he was pretty good. Once he found the helmet he relaxed straight away."

Talent-wise there has always been very little between Animal and Firestorm Red but favouritism in Wednesday's heat fell to the latter courtesy of his favourable draw.

After Cobbity Chic forced him to do some early work Firestorm Red eventually found the lead from gate five while Animal - off the second row - had to settle for three back on the pegs.

Firestorm Red crossed into of Carramar Times Up to take up the running and Cobbity Chic pushed ahead to settle in the death seat.

Animal raced in fourth with Enk Spot Shannon to his outside.

Steve Turnbull began to ask questions of his rivals around the 400m mark.

When he asked Firestorm Red to pick up the pace he quickly put on several lengths to Cobbity Chic and Carramar Times Up.

The fading Cobbity Chic kept Animal boxed inside and that meant Amanda Turnbull would need the sprint lane to play the catch up game.

Animal dived to the inside of Carramar Times up when the lane emerged but was giving up nearly 10 metres to the favourite.

Steve Turnbull took a glance over his left shoulder at the 200m and could see Animal making a charge.

In no time he would be looking at Animal racing ahead of him.

Animal won the race by 1.1m and recorded a 1:59.2 mile rate.

Firestorm Red, plus all other runners who failed to win, will get their second chance in the next round of heats.

Alexander Grant

Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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