Day At The Track

Vallelonga's stunner throws down challenge

08:47 PM 06 Apr 2016 NZST
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Stunning Grin
Stunning Grin looms as one of the horses to beat in Saturday night's Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup Final.

Hectorjayjay was superb last night on debut for the David Aiken harness racing stable, winning his Park Douglas Printing Mildura Cup heat with a last half of 56.1 seconds.

Hectorjayjay rated 1:59.3 to defeat local Murranji Track by 9.8m as the annual Sunraysia carnival got under way to an action-packed start.

While Hectorjayjay is likely to start a hot favourite for Saturday night’s Group 2 final, it was last night’s other heat winner, Stunning Grin, who broke the track record courtesy of a 1:57.5 mile-rate scorcher around the half-mile circuit.

Trainer Vince Vallelonga was understandably thrilled with the performance of his five-year-old gelded son of Grinfromeartoear out of Rosalee Hanover.

“I’ve had the Mildura Cup in my mind for him for a while,” he said.

“I thought it was important he got to the fence first because he’d never been around Mildura before and if he got to the fence I thought he’d handle it.

“Normally the horse flies the gate then drops the bit nicely. Last night he was hitting the wheel and that’s why he was taking off in patches… he’d hit the wheel again and away he goes. But we’ll fix that up for the weekend.

“It was a real credit to the horse that after charging like that, which was out of character, he was able to finish it off so well. Even Anthony Butt said he was entitled not to finish it off like he did.”

Stunning Grin has drawn gate three for the $60,325 final on Saturday night, outside Murranji Track and Itz Dreamin Jonesy.

“Murranji Track has plenty of speed but it handed up last night and I think it would be in its best interests to hand up in the final,” Vallelonga said.

“I’m not super confident we can beat Hectorjayjay… that horse doesn’t have to lead to win, but I figure in front he can run a quick half and make it tough for Hectorjayjay. Even before the track was done up I remember real good horses going up to Mildura and getting beat. It’s a very competitive track because people have to make moves. You’ve got to put your horse in the race.”

Country cups specialist Ideal Success, who broke the track record securing the silverware at Ararat recently, has drawn barrier five for Kerryn Manning.

Melton 1720m record-holder Cold Major will start from barrier 11 under the preferential barrier draw conditions, with recent Terang track record-breaker Glenferrie Hood drawn nine, inside prolific country cups performer Uncle Wingnut.

View the fields for Saturday night’s Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup Final 

Cody Winnell

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