Horror draw for Auckland Reactor in $1m final

09:58 PM 26 Feb 2012 NZDT
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Auckland Reactor's (Anthony Butt) last
Auckland Reactor's (Anthony Butt) last - win in the 10th heat of the Inter Dominion on Fri Feb 24.
Samuel Hodgson-Bertram photo

Auckland Reactor has hit an enormous judder bar on the road to Interdominion glory. The New Zealand harness racing star has drawn the worst possible barrier of nine, the outside of the front line, in the A$1 million final at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Even after being unbeaten in three heats of the series, the draw has seen him drift from $4.20 to $6.50 in immediate post-draw markets and he now looks set to start a lot longer by race time.

Making matters worse for the Kiwi pacing hero is the fact a rejuvenated Mr Feelgood has drawn the ace, from where he looks certain to lead, with Smoken Up drawn six.

Series favourite I'm Themightyquinn will start from barrier seven, allowing his driver Gary Hall junior to settle back and pounce.

Auckland Reactor now looks certain to be at the rear of the field early, too, for driver Anthony Butt.

Butt has been confirmed for the superstar after his dominant heat win last Friday.

Auckland Reactor showed good gate speed to lead and easily remain unbeaten in the heats, prompting Butt to jump off regular drive Raglan to partner Auckland Reactor.

He could have been forgiven for regretting that decision last night as Raglan drew barrier three and looks set to get a perfect run.

That means Tony Herlihy, who was booked for Auckland Reactor if Butt stuck with Raglan, won't be making the trip to Perth.

No driver has been confirmed for Raglan but it is believed NSW horseman Darren Hancock will be offered the drive.

Auckland Reactor's draw is a huge blow to his chances as he has looked a different horse in this series when able to find the lead and get into a rhythm.

From barrier nine he will need to come wide and it is hard to see him outsprinting I'm Themightyquinn, who corners like a greyhound on his home track.

His trainer Gary Hall was thrilled with the draw.

"The only draw we didn't want was the ace so now we can settle and then launch later," said Hall.

"But the horse has never been better." The Smoken Up camp seem resigned to the fact they will have to sit parked to try and win the final, with Mr Feelgood almost certain to want to hold the lead, especially with Gloucester Park having no passing lane.

Mr Feelgood came in from $7.50 to $5.50 with many bookmakers, with Smoken Up remaining remarkably short at $2.75.

Leading Australian bookmakers had I'm Themightyquinn at $2.25 last night.

All four favourites convincingly won their heats on Friday night, with Mr Feelgood breaking the track record for the 2506m.

His race was set up for him though and the most impressive winner was I'm Themightyquinn, who came from last to sit parked for the last lap and blitz Raglan, who had worked hard early.

Former Cambridge and South Auckland reinsman Matthew White is in for one of the highlights of his career when he pilots Lombo Navigator in the final.

The 27-year-old moved to Perth two years ago and has driven more than 150 winners there. After pushing Smoken Up close on Friday night, Lombo Navigator has drawn barrier two and looks set to trail Mr Feelgood.

Field: Mr Feelgood (1), Lombo Navigator (2), Raglan (3), Crombie (4), Mysta Magical Mach (5), Smoken Up (6), I'm Themightyquinn (7), Can Return Fire (8), Auckland Reactor (9). Emergencies: Cromac Johnny, Dasher VC (would take draw of any scratched runner).

Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald

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