Day At The Track

Clive and James on Quest for the Hunter Cup

05:36 AM 23 Jan 2012 NZDT
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Ballarat based harness racing owner Brendan James is daring to dream after star stayer Jaccka Clive claimed his second Choice Hotels Country Cup this term at Shepparton Saturday night.

Already successful in Cobram's regional feature late last year, the teak tough son of Tinted Cloud reached a new career climax taking out the Group 2 Gold Cup at Quest Racing Complex.

Just a fortnight out from the $425,000 A G Hunter Cup sponsored by Del-Re National Food Group, he has also led his devoted owner to envisage the greatest of Group 1 triumphs at Melton's Tabcorp Park.

"Eight or ten weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought we had a Hunter Cup horse on our hands, but he'll get an automatic invite now, so of course we'll dare to dream and head to Melton," James said.

"Speaking to Greg Sugars (driver) after the race he said, ‘I've only driven him (Smoken Up) twice, but this guy (Jaccka Clive) is like a mini Smoken Up'. He's just unique the way he thrives on brutal racing."

Safely away from the tapes, regular reinsman Sugars soon had Jaccka Clive punching the breeze through a lead time of 85.1 with race favourite Choise Achiever leading the way.

Soon challenged for his favourite role by Kiwi campaigner Highview Tommy, the half-brother to Our Malabar bullied his way to the top in a first fraction of 28.8 before catching his breath at the bell.

In control through middle sections of 31.8 and 28.4 respectively, Sugars only got busy down the back; quickly pinching a break before the two race favourites staked their claim.

Appearing vulnerable to the charges of rejuvenated 6YO Villagem and star Kiwi Choise Achiever late, Jaccka Clive dug in like the superstar he has become in a 27.5-second final fraction to win by a neck in a mile rate of 2:00.6.

One time Chariots of Fire champion Villagem proved he too can measure up in the A G Hunter Cup by finishing second while Choise Achiever (third) and Mega Alexander (fourth) were also very good.

Trotter's Interdominions

Earlier in the night New Zealand's half-dozen Inter dominion Trotting Championship aspirants displayed why it will be so hard for a local success in this year's historic renewal of the series.

Heat one of the Trans-Tasman championship was dominated by a hat-trick of Kiwis with Springbank Richard too tough for Sovereignty and race favourite The Fiery Ginga.

Graeme Lang's comeback kid Save A Sixpence struck a blow for Aussie pride in the second preliminary, but the race should almost certainly have gone to I Didnt Do It had he not galloped in the lane.

Another resurgent squaregaiter; Crescent Glory finished second with unwanted Kiwi Stylish Monarch proving he too will be a force in the series, running third after racing tough throughout.

The ultimate heat of the final ever Seelite Windows and Doors Inter Dominion Trotting Championship was a predictable procession for reigning champion I Can Doosit.

A prohibitive favourite, Mark Purdon's gun 6YO led from pillar to post with dual ID king Sundons Gift busting loose of a pocket late for second and Country Cup king Backas Cobber huge running third.

Second round heats will be run at Bray Raceway next Saturday night to complement what looms a dream match-up between Smoken Up and Sushi Sushi in the $125,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacign Cup.

by Jason Bonnington

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