Day At The Track

Mister Swinger and Captain Joy too good

08:37 PM 31 Jan 2009 NZDT
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Mach Three
Mach Three - Sire of Captain Joy.
p2,1:51.1 ; p3,1:49 ; 1:51.1h - $2,376,700 Matt's Scooter - All Included - Abercrombie

Mister Swinger exploded his way to the top of the Grand Circuit table with a dazzling win in tonight's PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup. The Geoff Webster-trained-and-driven star made it back-to-back victories on Australasian harness racing's showcase circuit when he jumped out of the ground in the closing stages to win the $125,000 Group 1 feature.

Bannockburn-based Webster, who won his hometown South Australian Cup with Mister Swinger the start before tonight's success in front of almost 4500 fans, is thrilled with the way 2009 has started.

"We've been here (in Victoria) for three years now and to get a horse like this is just a dream (come true)," he said. "Everything is coming to fruition beautifully."

Mister Swinger (11 points) edged clear of Blacks A Fake (10) at the head of the Barastoc-sponsored Grand Circuit, which allocates points on a 5-2-1 basis in selected events, with the win.

Along with the SA Cup win, he also finished third in the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup.

But tonight was all about his Ballarat Cup success. Although he had a charmed run behind Mr Feelgood, who was pestered for much of the 2710-metre event by Manwarra Goforgold, it was still a stunning success.

After locking wheels with Gotta Go Cullen in the straight and not finding a way clear until 75m from home, Mister Swinger ($4.10) sprinted sensationally to get up on the line and beat Mr Feelgood ($2.60 fav) by a half neck.

Just a head away in third spot was Fleur De Lil ($31), who looked the winner 100m out when she came with a booming run down the outside, while Gotta Go Cullen ($11) ran a brave race to finish fourth after leading up the three-wide line for the last lap.

After a 30.5-second first quarter, they broke 30 seconds for the final three quarters including 28.7 and 28.6-second last two splits. The mile rate was 2:00.1, which was well outside Safari's 1:58.3 track record.

"I locked wheels for a couple of strides and then couldn't get out and I thought I might have missed the boat, but he's just going so well that he sprinted hard when he got out," said Webster, who accepted the trophies in the absence of owner Peter Plummer, who was at his daughter's wedding.

"The American (Mr Feelgood) is a lovely horse and he had an easy run, so I thought he was going to be very tough to beat but my horse has just got the most amazing sprint and he showed that when the run came."

Favourite Backers Jumping For Joy

Captain Joy tonight showed why he was an odds-on favourite for the Alabar Victoria Derby final before the heats were even run when he made a one-act affair of his qualifier at Ballarat.

The Susan Hunter-trained youngster emphatically secured his place in next Saturday night's $150,000 Group 1 final at Moonee Valley when he coasted to victory in the second of the night's three $20,000 heats.

The reigning Breeders Crown champion, who started a prohibitive $1.30 favourite, led all the way for an effortless 5-3/4-metre win over Lightning McCool ($12) with Hung Jury ($27) 2-1/2 metres back in third spot.

While the Mach Three gelding strolled through the first half of the last mile in 61.9 seconds after leading untroubled from gate two, he still peeled off a 57-second last half - including a 27.3-second final section - for a 1:59.6 mile rate.

Champion reinsman Gavin Lang, who is chasing back-to-back Derby successes after winning last year's edition with Tanabi Bromac, said it was an impressive display by the winner of nine of his 13 starts.

"We all know it's been pretty hot down here this week, but he travelled down and has done extremely well and you'd imagine that he'd be much better for tonight's run," he said. "We're looking very forward to next weekend."

New South Wales' top male youngster won't have things all his way, though, with boom Western Australian colt Crown Bromac showing what all the fuss was about with a courageous win in the final heat.

The Noel Keiley-trained son of McArdle did it at both ends in his heat to run out an impressive winner.

While his 2:02 mile rate was the slowest of the three heats, he pressed forward early and did work when Living On Fire surged around the field a lap and half out but was still able to pull out a 27.9-second last quarter.

The $2.60 favourite scored by two metres from South Australian Derby winner Living On Fire ($5.70) with emergency Indigo Bay ($75) running out of his skin to finish third, 3-3/4 metres away.

Australasia's leading reinsman Daryl Douglas, who assumed the reins aboard Crown Bromac, was certainly taken with the win of the colt who has now won four of his five starts.

"It's not an easy job to bring one over from Perth to race against the best over here, but I'm sure he'll acquit himself well against the best in next week's final," he said.

Ballarat's Franco Newsman was the other heat winner, the David Murphy-trained-and-driven colt giving locals something to cheer about when the $5.80 chance powered to a 1:58.1 win in the second race of the night.

He held off a determined challenge from Broadways Best ($12), who became the first filly to qualify for a Derby final in 12 years when she finished second, while $1.80 favourite Hilton Fly High was third.

Staghorn Flat and Village Villain, who finished on the wheels of the placegetters in the first and second heats respectively, progress to the Derby final as the two fastest fourth placegetters.

Victoria Derby Field: Franco Newsman, Captain Joy, Crown Bromac, Broadways Best, Lightning McCool, Living On Fire, Hilton Fly High, Hung Jury, Indigo Bay, Staghorn Flat, Village Villain, Ultimate Under Fire (emerg).

Few Good Men Does It Again

He won't be lining up when the BIG6 Hunter Cup is run, but Few Good Men enhanced his status as one of Victoria's top standing start performers with a dashing win in tonight's $20,000 The Sky Channel Pure Steel at Ballarat.

The gutsy five-year-old backed up his 1:55.5 track record win over the mobile mile at Shepparton last Saturday night with a 2:05.7 victory over the longer 2710-metre journey at Bray Raceway.

Legendary reinsman Brian Gath, who earlier this season won the St Arnaud Cup behind Few Good Men, was full of praise for the Peter Tonkin-trained son of Panorama.

"He's a great horse who's very hard to get past once he's in front and he's won a lot of races that way," he said.

"He went 1:55 last week at Shepparton and then came out again and did over the longer journey tonight, so it was a great effort."

Few Good Men, who isn't entered for the Hunter Cup, denied a number of rivals their last chance to stake a claim for a berth in the $400,000 Group 1 event next Saturday night when he led all of the way.

A trademark B Gath drive secured some moderate sectionals in the first half of the race, but the $4.40 favourite still zipped home the last quarter in a slick 27.4 seconds for a strong win.

The gelding held off last year's Hunter Cup third placegetter, Report For Duty ($5.40), who raced outside Few Good Men for the last lap and a half, by two metres with the fast-finishing Broadway Play ($7.80) a short half head back in third spot.

Brad BISHOP

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