Day At The Track

Big guns fear well in barrier draw

07:08 PM 25 Jun 2016 NZST
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Iccenothink.jpg Whirily School.jpg Rocknroll Magic.jpg Sundons Courage.jpg Josh Aiken and impressive trotting filly Princess Phoenix.jpg
Stuart McCormick
Whirily School
Stuart McCormick
Rocknroll Magic
Stuart McCormick
Sundons Courage
Stuart McCormick
Josh Aiken and impressive trotting filly Princess Phoenix
Stuart McCormick
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Smythes Creek harness racing trainer Emma Stewart holds plenty of aces in next Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals.

The three-year-old pacing fillies’ division appears to be one of her strongest hands.

Stewart has four runners in the field and semi-final winner Whirily School’s stocks only rose when she pulled gate one at the barrier draw.

“It was one of those cases where the wide barrier draw was actually to her advantage,” Greg Sugars said of Whirily School’s semi-final win tonight.

“We were able to press forward and once she was able to take up the lead she was always the one to beat.

“It’s probably a very honest and fair assessment to say she’s probably a length or so behind the very best of her age group, but she is certainly not far behind them . With a bit of luck in the final she is definitely in with a chance.”

Whirily School (Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen) worked forward to eventually find the lead through a 45secs lead time and posted quarters of 30.5, 32.5, 28.9 and 28.9 for a mile rate of 1:58.7.

Stablemate Rocknroll Magic will take a power of beating in the final though, despite drawing barrier 11.

The filly by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic made it 15 career wins from 22 starts tonight, notching a 1:57.5 mile rate in the chair (55.2 last half) to overhaul leader Rockstar Angel by a half-neck.

“I probably expected that is where I would land in the run but I was still confident enough she’d be good enough,” winning driver Gavin Lang said.

“She’s one of the main players (in the final), as you know with Emma and Clayton’s horses this time of the year they’re always on song.”

Rockstar Angel has drawn barrier eight so will follow Whirily School.

In the three-year-old colts and geldings’ final, semi-final winners Soho Tribeca (American Ideal/Pixel Perfect) and Iceenothink (Art Major/Decethree Lombo) have drawn gates three and four for the Final.

Iceenothink finished powerfully tonight for Chris Alford and trainer Larry Eastman (who combined to win this section last year with Menin Gate), holding off Mario Attard and Don’t Hold Back, who also savaged the line from well-back.

Iceenothink posted a 1:57.4 mile rate.

Soho Tribeca, trained by Jayne Davies and driven by Alford, scored by a half-neck over Carter Bromac, with Brallos Pass third in a rate of 1:57.4.

“He was going to get a good run through, (it was) just whether he could stay in front of Brallos Pass. That didn’t work out but he (Brallos Pass) had to do a fair bit of work,” Alford said. “Just got to hope he gets a good draw and he can play a part next week.”

Burrumbeet trainer-driver Michael Stanley is set for a busy Vicbred finals night once again, qualifying six pacers through tonight’s semis.

His three-year-old Spiritwriter drew the pole in the males’ division and that brings him right into contention.


Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Fillies Final Barrier Draw

1: Whirily School
2: Ideal Lifestyle
3: Kalinda
4: Platinum Power (em)
5: Just Wantano
6: Nikkibadwagon
7: Flojos Gold
8: Rockstar Angel
9: Alessa
10: Celebrity Guest
11: Rocknroll Magic
12: Rockabella Starz
13: Champagne Taste

Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts & Geldnigs Final Barrier Draw

1: Spiritwriter
2: Battle Born
3: Soho Tribeca
4: Iceenothink
5: Keep On Rocking
6: Senor Macray
7: Brallos Pass
8: Herehecomes
9: Professor Tom
10: Showgun Thomas
11: Illawong Maestro
12: Dont Hold Back
13: Carter Bromac


Advantage Sundons Courage and Princess Phoenix after the three-year-old trotters' barrier draws for the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals.

Drawn on Friday night amid the pacers' semi-finals, Sundons Courage drew the front row in the colts and geldings and fellow heat winner Cruisin Around will start from barrier eight, while Sky Majesty will start from barrier 12 in the fillies, opening the door further for her rivals.

The three-year-old fillies semi-final promises to be an evenly fought and engaging final, with several winning hopes.

Among them is Princess Phoenix, a $1.80 favourite in the second heat at Bendigo last Wednesday, who led but was beaten into third by winner Into The Unknown, from Donna Lewis’ Toolern Vale stable, and Geoff Webster’s Rift Valley.

The first heat was all about Sky Majesty (Skyvalley/Mystic Hush). Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan was rapt with her filly’s heat win, which she said was one of her “best runs to date”.

The 12m victory came after she found the front and careered away, and Sky Majesty should be right in the final despite the tough draw.

“I was very happy with her heat,” Quinlan said. “She’s a good chance. There’s not a lot of difference between the horses in the grade, it is pretty even.

“(Sky Majesty) can sit and sprint. She is not a class above them, but I think they have all come back to each other.”

The three-year-old colts and geldings final also promises much, not the least of which is another showdown between Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy/Cloud Chaser) and Sundons Courage.

Both won their heats, with Sundons Courage (Sundon/Truscott Photo) a 1.6m winner for Muckleford trainer Chris Angove and Bolinda driver Chris Alford, with Brent Lilley’s $34-shot Kyvalley Tinman running into second.

Cruisin Around’s win was even tighter. Driven to one-out one-back by Myrniong’s Greg Sugars, Cruisin Around lost touch with front runners Calder Knight and Big Jack Hammer at the final bend but wound up sufficiently in the straight to win by a short half-head.

Bannockburn trainer-driver Geoff Webster’s three-year-old Big Jack Hammer (The Press/Running Pinevale) punched on for second in the breeze and will be a threat come next Friday’s final, says Cranbourne’s Michael Hughes, trainer of Cruisin Around.

“There are three or four really good horses,” Hughes said. “(Cruisin Around) has always had a ding-dong battle with Sundons Courage. Big Jack Hammer looked back on song, and a few others are also a chance. It will all come down to who has the best luck.”

Hughes’ confidence about his own charge’s horse were only emboldened with Cruisin Around’s heat win.

“I think he went pretty good. I was a little worried when he lost ground at the top of the straight, but he did a good job to pick them up in such a quick quarter,” Hughes said.

“I give him a really good chance as long as he does everything right. The horse is really good, feels really good, there are no issues. He is a good sit-sprinter, but has also done it the tough way and led before.”


Barrier draws:

Three-year-old colts and geldings trotters

1: Kyvalley Tinman
2: Skyflyer
3: Big Jack Hammer
4: Calder Knight
5: Sundons Courage
6: Cargerie
7: Sun Valley Road

8: Cruisin Around
9: Diamond Wes (emg)
10: Sky Me A River
11: Menewa
12: Shetland 
13: Imahe Man (ODM)


Barrier draws:

Three-year-old fillies trotters

1: Aldebaran Eve
2: Never Never Land (emg)
3: Princess Phoenix
4: Mizurri
5: Defence Power
6: Into The Unknown
7: The Cooler

8: Tension Seeker
9: Getthenet
10: Illawong Bliss
11: Rift Valley
12: Sky Majesty
13: Scottish Sardius (ODM)

Michael Howard/Cody Winnell

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