Fast times and close finishes were the order of the day at Geelong on Monday February 16, with much improved Kiwi bred Christian Cullen/Anvil Seelster mare Christians Daughter rating a slick 1-57.1 for the 1609 metre journey of the Westcoast Sealants Pace for C5 & C6 class.
Trained at Smythes Creek (Ballarat) by Peter Tonkin and driven by Daryl Douglas, Christians Daughter was given an easy time mid-field in the moving line from gate two on the second line, with Douglas taking short cuts in between runners to be just off the speed in the final circuit, but tightly held in a pocket.
In what had been a hectic affair from the outset with Cobargo Barney (gate 1), System Two (3), Damo Boy (4) Hank Stanley (5) and Normie (6) all vying for the lead with Normie eventually winning out, it was clearly seen that the runners on were going to figure in the finish.
With Hank Stanley gaining the upper hand on turning and going for home with the roughie Dee Emm Rowan (one/one) in hot pursuit, Christians Daughter when extricated into the clear sprouted wings to snare the major prize in the last couple of bounds by a neck over a game Hank Stanley, with Dee Em Rowan a nose back third.
CLASSY MARE RETURNS
Last season's feature race winner Dazed And Confused returned from a spell to land the Central Rigging Pacers Handicap for C3 or better class over 2100 metres in 2-04.1.
First-up since winning her biggest prize when victorious over Kept For Pleasure in the Vicbred Super Series Fillies Final last August, Dazed And Confused (/Melissa Charm) stepped safely but slowly from barrier four only to be caught in the open.
Not perturbed at any stage, Gavin Lang aboard the Dean Braun (Lara) trained mare gradually allowed her to creep forward through the middle stages with the pacemaker Our Entrapment setting a moderate tempo.
Getting serious on turning, Dazed And Confused's class told over the concluding stages as she wore down the leader to comfortably score from Our Entrapment by a neck, with Johnorama third after trailing the front runner throughout.
HEART STOPPING FINISH
Five year old/Majestic Tess mare Christianity gave her supporters heart palpitations in winning the Basic Bookkeeping Pace for C1 & C2 class over 2100 metres.
Trained at Rockbank by Bill Galea and driven by Chris Alford, Christianity starting solo on the second line possied three back in the running line, with Jaccka Chester taking over from Markleigh shortly after the start.
When young Jayson Finnis sent the favoured runnervale Av forward when the pace slackened, Ashley Wharton aboard Dhoni outside the leader kicked up leaving vale Av on a limb for the rest of the journey much to the dismay of punters.
Taking the opportunity to move into the three wide line at the bell, Christianity gained a lovely ride home until being left lamenting when Dhoni got the better of the leader approaching the home turn and shot away.
Holding a huge margin halfway up the running Dhoni appeared to have the race all sewn up, when Christianity after making the final bend awkwardly, produced an amazing burst of speed out wide to nose him out in a finish which tricked many, with No Fantasy running on late from last for third in a mile rate of 2-00.2.
NEW STABLE SUCCESS
Melton's Joe Borg has had some outstanding horses over the years and has picked up a bright proposition in 4-Y-0 Embrace Me/Jonell Low entire Jonny Holliday which scored an easy victory in The Royal Flush Group Pace for C0 class over 2100 metres.
Second up for the new stable, Jonny Holliday with Greg Sugars in the sulky spent most of the race outside the pacemaker Manwarra Justnace from gate six, before giving his rivals the slip on turning to cruise to the wire in advance of Maximus Merv and Powerful Tycoon in 2-02.9.
AN EDGE OVER RIVALS
Dunnstown's David Murphy captured the Apco Geelong Pacing Cup Feb 28th Pace for C1 & C2 class over 2100 metres with 4-Y-0/New Arrival entire Laser Edge.
Showing his usual gate speed, Laser Edge crossed from gate four to lead, before running out an easy winner over Mr Clancy which moved three wide at the bell, with Ladyinlace running her usual honest race for third after trailing the runner up home.
A winner of 7 (two this season) with 13 placings from 34 outings, Laser Edge returned a mile rate of 1-59.7.
Veteran Daylesford trainer Bob Conroy snared the quinella in the Neil & Megz Lansom Trotters Handicap for T0 & T1 class over 2100 metres with Ex Con defeating Left One Eye Out in a pedestrian 2-06.6.
Driven by daughter Anne-Maree, Ex Con a 4-Y-0 intact son of Extrovert and Conclusion was sent forward from the 10 metre mark after a quick beginning to settle mid-field in the running line.
Easing three wide in the last lap, Ex Con made ground very quickly to be outside the leaders Shania Court and Dundos Image approaching the home turn when Dundos Image went into a gallop allowing Ex Con to stride past him and go for home.
Racing away on turning, Ex Con ambled to the wire in advance of stablemate Left One Eye Out from three back along the markers, with Starlight Fury easing away from the back of the pacemaker on turning for third.
TWO IN A WEEK
CoimadaI trainer/driver Graeme Whittle brought up two wins in the space of four days with his honest Keystone Salute/Solander 5-Y-0 gelding Keystone Blues, which greeted the judge in The Breakaway Gift Trotters Handicap for T2 or better class over 2570 metres.
Starting from the 20 metre mark, Keystone Blues possied three back in the running line, with the long odds-on favourite Gluteus Maximus caught outside the leader Joeannas Boy.
When Gluteus Maximus put pay to the front runner in the last lap, Whittle and Keystone Blues set out after her and the pair turned for home together, with Keystone Blues at Supertab odds of $37.60 doing best to score narrowly in a rate of 2-05.2. G S Ado finished third after spending most of the race three back along the markers.
/Bali Hei gelding Indigo Beach was a tough winner of the Cleaning In Progress 3-Y-0 Pace over 1609 metres for Melton's Mick Amstrong and neighbouring reinsman Craig Demmler.
Settling three back in the moving line from gate two on the second row, Indigo Beach eased wide in the last lap to lead up the three wide line and sustained the efford to dash away at the straight entrance.
Holding a margin all the way up the running, Indigo Beach just lasted from the heavily supported favourite No Cover Charge which trailed him home before losing his back on the final bend and rushing home late to fail by a nose in a 2-01.2 rate, with Faberargas third after facing the breeze.
It was Indigo Beach's first success in 9 race appearances.