Day At The Track

Mister' masters $50G Mildura Pacing Cup

04:11 AM 11 Apr 2010 NZST
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Geoff Webster pictured with Mister Zion
Geoff Webster pictured with Mister Zion - at the last ever harness meeting at Moonee Valley last month
Duane Ranger photo

Geoff Webster could now be just a bit player in Victorian driving ranks thanks to Mister Zion's win in last night's Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup (2600m). As he has done aboard Webster-trained runners for the past couple of weeks, gun young harness racing reinsman Greg Sugars assumed the seat in the cart in the $50,000 Group 2.

Sugars also won the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas aboard the Webster-trained Captain Dale last night, prompting the Bannockburn conditioner to suggest the trial arrangement could become permanent.

"I just don't reckon I drive often enough," Webster said. "I probably only go around half a dozen times a week and Greg goes around about 50 and I think it makes a difference when you're at that level.

"He knows all the drivers and horses a lot better than I do and I think he's driving as good as anyone in the state.

"I thought I'd try it for a while just as an experiment to see if it would lead to any more success and the last couple of weeks the proof has been in the pudding.

"While he's doing such a good job he can do the bulk of it and I'll just drive the odd one here and there."

Mister Zion survived a stern test from classy gelding Sammy Maguire to get home narrowly in a race that lived right up to expectations.

Sugars shot straight to the lead from his front-row draw but it wasn't long before master reinsman Gavin Lang took the $2.30 favourite around to sit outside him.

From there they engaged in a stirring battle and on the line Mister Zion, the $3.10 second favourite, had just a head to spare, condemning Sammy Maguire tothe Mildura Cup runner-up stall for the second year in a row.

After a 30.8-second first quarter, Mister Zion coasted through the second split in 32.3secs before ripping home in 28.5 and 27.9secs for a 2:01.4 mile rate.

A further neck away in third spot was Make Mine Cullen ($3.70), who enjoyed a dream run behind the two favourites but couldn't run them down. The star trio finished 13m clear of their rivals, who were headed by The Gunstar.

Although the margin was slender, Webster said he was confident the South Australian Cup winner would make it 14 wins from just 23 starts.

"He didn't have to work that hard (to find the lead) and then he got a cheap (second) quarter," he said. "I was pretty confident once he got to the lead and he didn't have to do too much work."

Brad BISHOP

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