Day At The Track

Farewell Trigger

11:53 PM 06 Sep 2014 NZST
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Smoken Up heads onto the track for the last time as a competitor
Smoken Up and trainer Lance Justice with fans Waylon and Macklin Martin
Lance Justice preparing Smoken Up for battle
Smoken Up takes his place behind the mobile for the last time
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It wasn’t the fairytale ending harness racing fans were hoping for, but no one would have left Tabcorp Park Melton disappointed tonight.

With a large crowd cheering him on during his farewell appearance, Smoken Up produced his customary ‘never-say-die’ effort as he worked overtime in the ‘death seat’ before finishing fourth for his proud trainer-driver, Lance Justice.

As the 12-year-old returned to scale it was reminiscent of the final scene in Rocky as the battered boxer embraces Adrian, leaving viewers almost unaware of Apollo being declared the winner in the background.

For the record, Exciteusinthecity won, but many patrons will undoubtedly have gone home without knowing who scored, only that Smoken Up didn’t.

The evening belonged to Smoken Up – or Trigger as he is affectionately-known – with Justice “touched by the supportive crowd, who got right behind him.”

“I knew well before we even got to the track it was going to be an emotional night,” Justice said. “It’s the end of an era…an exciting eight-year journey with this champion has finished.

“Obviously I would have liked him to win, but it wasn’t to be, and as he always does, he gave his all.

“At the end of the day his old legs just don’t have those quick quarters in him anymore.

“I’m rapt so many people came out to see him tonight and am really touched by the supportive crowd who got right behind him as he bows out of racing.”

The son of Tinted Cloud retires with an impressive record of 74 wins, 39 seconds, 15 thirds and earnings of $3,606,750 from 153 starts, with 13 of his triumphs Group Ones.

Successful at 15 tracks across Australasia, Smoken Up established numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50.

The gelding’s wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the 2011 Len Smith Mile.

- PAUL COURTS

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