Day At The Track

Lang dumbfounded - failure of Sundon's Gift

03:52 AM 27 Mar 2011 NZDT
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The changing of the guard took just 90 minutes on the opening night of the Interdominion harness racing carnival at Alexandra Park.

Trainer Chris Lang had barely got over the shock of driving dual Inters champion Sundon's Gift to one of his worst placings in the first trotters' heat than his younger stablemate, Let Me Thru, in the hands of son Chris junior, destroyed his opposition in the second heat on Friday.

The performances elevated Let Me Thru to outright favourite for the $250,000 Grand Final on April 8, but left reigning champion Sundon's Gift with a huge task to even qualify.

Lang was dumbfounded over the failure of Sundon's Gift, who dropped out from the death seat to beat only two home, 12 lengths from all-the-way winner Dr Hook.

And he immediately declared he would have the horse thoroughly vetted this week.

"I'm lost for words," said Lang afterwards. "That was one of the worst runs of his life. No matter how you look at it that was a bad run.

"Maybe I could have driven him better but he still should have gone better. Even if he got tired you'd expect him to stay a bit." Lang reported Sundon's Gift had warmed up well and walked off all right afterwards.

"But he didn't seem comfortable in the run. Even when I was going around them early on he wasn't trotting well.

"He got a bit keen early and maybe he was starved of oxygen but that run was too bad to be true."

Let Me Thru gave Lang just the pick-me-up he needed 90 minutes later when he recorded arguably the best performance of his star-studded career.

His effort to work at both ends of the race and still stave off a determined challenge from Sovereignty by a neck was the best of the night.

Lang junior had to really ask Let Me Thru for a big effort two rounds from home when Nigel McGrath refused to hand up on early leader Ready Set.

"I had to really make my intentions clear to get the top," Lang said. "And after having to do that much work early I though he showed great guts to fight on at the finish.

"But this horse just doesn't know how to lose." Lang, who has won his last nine straight behind Let Me Thru, said the horse did not feel as sharp in his warm-up.

"I had to wake him up a bit but he was ready to go at the start and I was actually holding on to him out of the gate. I only wanted to hold out Sovereignty." Lang said it was a measure of the talent and manners of Let Me Thru that he didn't start racing too fiercely on being revved up to get the lead. "I just let the reins go and he backed it off." Lang said while he had enjoyed driving now retired speedster Skyvalley, who had so much toe he could sit in, do nothing, then run past anything, Let Me Thru could do everything.

"He can work out of the gate, sit in the death, lead, come from behind. We can't find a fault with him." Let Me Thru, whose bankroll of $494,956 has already eclipsed the earnings of Skyvalley, who is also by Muscles Yankee, has now won 18 of his 25 starts.

But Cambridge trainer Sean McCaffrey wasn't conceding the final to Let Me Thru after pushing the Aussie to a neck, despite Sovereignty sitting parked for the last lap. "He did plenty of work and was doing his best at the finish.

"I think he'll improve a bit with that run and we don't have to get much better."



Courtesy of the Sunday Star Times and Barry Lichter


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