"There was plenty in reserve," the quietly spoken and modest Gavin Lang said following Captain Joy's effortless 3.1 metre victory in the $100,000 Queensland 3yo Derby at Parklands Raceway on the Gold Coast tonight.
Australia's best 3-year-old pacer combined with Australia best harness racing driver gave nothing else a chance in the 2609m mobile Group One event. In fact it was Lang's early aggression which ensured the easiest of victories.
He poked through with thegelding from his second line draw to be fourth not long after the start and then when Lang took the lead at the 2250m mark it was ‘game over'.
Second favourite Hilton Fly High and Natalie Rasmussen sat in the trail throughout and then in the home straight the two favourites shot clear of the field on the turn. Rasmussen became anxious half way down the straight and turned the stick while Captain Joy cruised to the line untouched.
"It was an armchair drive really. He made me look good again. I didn't have to touch him. It wouldn't surprise me if he played a big part in next year's Interdominions in Sydney, he's that good," Lang said.
Trained by Susan Hunter at Cobbitty in New South Wales, Captain Joy now adds the Queensland Derby to the $150,000 Victoria Derby he won at Moonee Valley on February 7. His two other major wins were the Group One $300,000 Australasian 2yo Breeders Crown Final at Bendigo on August 17 and the Group One $125,000 New South Wales Breeders Challenge Final at Menangle last July.
The budding superstar was a raging favourite $1.30 favourite for tonight's Derby. He paced the 2609m mobile in 3:12.1 (mile rate: 1:58.6) and his sectionals were: 29.3, 31.3, 28.5, and 28.7 seconds. Hilton High Fly was second and Presidential Lane (Shane Graham) was a long way back (26.7 metres) in third.
The win took Captain Joy's stake earnings past the $500,000. The exceptional bay has now won 12 of his 16 starts and also placed in two others for owner and breeder, Marie Ross. He is unbeaten in six starts this season and has now won seven in a row.
Footnote: Watch this space in 12 months. He's as good, if not better than New Zealand's best 3yo Stunin Cullen and don't forget Lang's last comments
"This is a very special little horse. He has a big future."