Day At The Track

Highlights aplenty on Victorian SS night two

12:21 PM 06 Jul 2013 NZST
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The Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for harness racing two-year-old colts and geldings kicked off the Group 1 proceedings at Melton on a night laden with potential superstar pacers and Major Secret immediately added his name to that list.

The son of Art Major was coming off a tough sixth in his semi-final after he had to sit parked. Prior to that he had only lost one of his four starts, in the Southern Cross final at Globe Derby in early June.

From barrier two he was able to cross down to the pegs early before allowing race favourite Business In Motion to work around and find the top going out of the first bend.

The $2.40 favourite was then pressured by one of the well supported outsiders Master Mach Manus who worked to the death seat mid-race.

With that horse quickly fading off the back, Business In Motion and Major Secret snuck away from the bulk of their rivals with Kiwi hope Messini producing a three-wide run inside the last lap.

The trio squared off on the final bend and just as Messini loomed up to the favourite, Major Secret secured the pegs run and dashed after the two leaders.

Inside the final 100 metres it was all the Emma Stewart-trained colt and Daryl Douglas spoke glowingly of his efforts post-race.

"It was really the run we'd hoped for and with the barrier draw falling our way it just all worked out. With a bit of mid-race pressure we had a lovely run in behind," Douglas said.

"He's a great little horse, I think when he comes back next year he will be better again.

"I don't know about me, all credit has to go to Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) and all the team."

On a wet start to the night, the mile rate was recorded in 1:58.2 with a 57.5 last half.

Major Secret

The second Group 1 on the night produced one of the most exciting finishes as La Machane stormed along the pegs to nab favourite Real Bonus as they hit the line.

Real Bonus found the front in the early stages and despite having to work at various stages in the run, appeared to have a sufficient lead as they turned for home, only to be run down in the closing stages.

La Machane, a winner of 18 starts from her 39 attempts, notched up close to $300,000 in prizemoney following tonight's win.

Blazeaway Macray loomed up on the bend and held on well for third with Nats Survival and Paintball rounding out the first five.

A mud-covered Greg Sugars returned to a warm reception from the crowd for his four-year-old mare and the elation was evident as he spoke to Rob Auber following the race.

"I actually didn't think I got their on the line, she's been a wonderful horse to the family over the last couple of year," Sugars said.

"She was probably head and shoulders above her rivals a couple of years ago but last year they sort of caught up and more so this year; having said that she hasn't had much go her way this time in and she had the favours tonight."

The time for the race was 1:58.8 with a 58.3 last half highlighted by the 28.8 third quarter.

La Machane

Im Smouldering didn't let the punters who had faith in her from the second row down, as she cruised to a maiden Group 1 victory for John Yeomans and Gavin Lang.

The ever consistent daughter of Bettors Delight took advantage of an early hectic pace set by Courageousnquick as she was pressured by Mammals Maker and Gypsy Babe.

The three-year-old filly strode clear of the fast-finishing Getya Wings Out by 10 metres and Magic Moment Lombo who ran on into third just in front of Gypsy Babe.

Yeomans explained the story behind the lineage of Im Smouldering and what it meant to the family following the race.

"She's been so consistent; she's had 23 starts and only finished out of the money on one occasion. We are just so proud of her; we had her mother, we bred this one and it's such a thrill," Yeomans said.

"It was just a brilliant heady drive by Gavin and she just blew them away.

"We've bred four generations and we won the Victoria Oaks with her Grand Mother in 1980 and we were looking for a Group 1 win with her and we are so glad it was this one."

The mile was recorded in 1:58.9 with a slower last half of 59.5 owing to the hectic lead time of 43.8.

Im Smouldering

In one of the most anticipated clashes of the night, Youranut worked to the front from Restrepo and in spite of copping some pressure mid-race, exploded away at the top of the straight to leave his rivals lamenting.

The Empire Stallions-bred son of Blissfull Hall never looked in doubt as driver Greg Sugars flourished the whip halfway down the straight when he ran away by over four metres from Restrepo and Scruffy Major who worked home from three-back on the pegs.

Following the race, trainer Ross Sugars spoke about a night which won't be easily forgotten as the duo notched up a Group 1 double.

"It's a fairytale tonight with La Machane getting the run and then this guy. He's been a pleasure to train, there are no tricks to him, and he's just thrived," Sugars said.

"Greg (Sugars) does all the work with him and La Machane, I just can't believe it, you don't get horses like him come into your place every day.

The owners are just lovely people, they've had a couple of slow foals and then this guy comes along and makes it eight in a row down here."

The mile was timed in 1:58.4 with a speedy last half of 56.4 highlighted by the 27.2 run home time.


Guaranteed may have given punters a few heart flutters heading off the back in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for three-year-old's but Gavin Lang steadied the son of Artsplace as they charged home for another Group 1 win.

Making it back-to-back exacta's in the VSS, Border Control sat parked after working mid-race and ran Guaranteed to a half head but couldn't close the margin any further.

Reign Of Pain, Major Calipso and Ginger Bliss all tried hard and battled out the minor end of the prize.

Gavin Lang, after driving his third winner for the night, spoke to Rob Auber about the challenges of driving the tricky pacer.

"He got a bit uncomfortable on the back for some reason but with some experience at Shepparton I hoped I knew what to do," Lang said.

"To sit out there and hold off the quickest horse in New Zealand was a brave effort. All hats off to Clayton and Emma tonight, their horses have been outstanding.

"He's a serious horse, he's bred to be very good and he is."

The mile rate was recorded in 1:59.4 with a blistering last half of 58.8.



by Blake Redden

Harness Racing Victoria


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