The Raider Stakes final at the Devonport Showground on Sunday night (April 29) was billed as a harness racing showdown between archrivals Beautide and Quastor Centurion and the two four-year-olds didn't let the public down.
A huge crowd flocked to the venue in anticipation of a two-horse war and they were not disappointed.
Quastor Centurion, a Time Stand Still gelding, emerged triumphant over Beautide by the narrowest of margins (nose), bringing to an end Beautide's domination over his archrival for the past 18 months.
It was a race of tactics with Quastor Centurion (Ricky Duggan) able to hold the lead from the pole position but he was not allowed to dawdle in front as Beautide's stablemate Bettor Draw raced outside of the leader to ensure a solid tempo.
With just over a lap remaining driver Gareth Rattray eased Beautide out three-wide to improve his position and when he landed outside of the leader he took hold.
When Rattray called on Beautide to extend he was matched every step of the way by Quastor Centurion.
Beautide made a late surge nearing the line but Kent Rattray's stable star answered the challenge to get the judge's nod.
Quastor Centurion's owner Greg Pearton summed the past year up when he accepted the winner's trophy.
"I've been that used to my horse running second to Beautide I've forgotten how to make a victory speech," Pearton said.
"It's a bit thrill to win this race - he's a beautiful horse."
"The horse has taken a while to get back to where we wanted him. It was a great drive by Ricky (Duggan) and Kent (trainer) and his father Wayne (Rattray) have done a terrific job," he said.
Quastor Centurion dominated as a two-year-old but he had his colours lowered by Beautide in a few feature races last season and again this preparation loading up to Sunday night's race.
However, Quastor Centurion's stake earnings now eclipse that of Beautide with the Raider Stakes cheque of $18,225 taking his career stake earnings to $123,117 and in advance of Beautide's tally that sits at $111,465.
by Peter STAPLES