One of the most sought after events held in the Western District each harness racing season - The O'Keeffe named in honour of the late Jim O'Keeffe a stalwart of the industry, appears to have lost its status, no doubt to the dismay of the O'Keeffe family.
Once a fast class feature, this event was held at Stawell on Wednesday August 31 as a paltry C1 & C2 class race to the value of $8,000, with qualifying heats taking place at Horsham a week earlier.
The victor being the Sharon Hahne (Miners Rest) trained 5-Y-0 Denver Gift/Vyka gelding Danish King.
Driven by the “man of the moment” Greg Sugars, Danish King from gate two led throughout to score from Stevie Harlyn off a three wide trail from the bell and Tres Hombres which followed the runner up home.
A winner of six races (3 this season) with 10 placings from 53 race appearances, Danish King returned a mile rate of 2-01.4.
As is usually the case at Stawell, Peter and Kerryn Manning were winners during the afternoon, Peter with in-form 5-Y-0/Gina Dawn gelding Join The Circus in the Holmes Fruiterers Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2590 metres and Kerryn with /Cohesion gelding Princeofthieves in the Trackside Bar & Bistro 3-Y-0 Pace Final over 1780 metres and Blissful Hall/Whatacorka filly Blissful Night in the Hygain Feeds 2-Y-0 Pace over the same journey.
Join The Circus has been outstanding in recent runs and after settling at the rear from a 40 metre backmark, was sent forward to park outside the long shot Wakem Ifudare mid-race.
Travelling kindly, Join The Circus led narrowly on the final bend and not pushed out, won with plenty in hand from Wakem Ifudare and Allawart Toby in a rate of 2-09.
Princeofthieves an easy winner of his heat at Horsham did it tough, but did it well after moving forward from outside the front line to shadow the pacemaker Ima Powerball (gate three).
Joining the leader at the straight entrance, Prineceofthieves did only what he had to do in defeating Ima Powerball in a rate of 2-01, with Narra Rardo third after trailing the pacemaker.
Blissful Night was driven with aggression from gate four to lead, before being eased to take a trail on Lombo Ranmiles (gate two) to enjoy the run of the race.
Using the sprint lane, Blissful Night raced to the front in the shadows of the post to score by a head over Blissful Spanker which raced in the open, with Lombo Ranmiles third. The mile rate 2-01.6.
Warrnambool’s Geoff Senior combined with Hamilton freelance reinsman Rod Barker to capture the Stawell veterinary Clinic Pace for C0 class over 1780 metres with 4-Y-0/Falcon Fury gelding Hi Tech Fury in a rate of 2-03.1.
Coming off an eye catching second at Horsham to Narra Operative after leading, Hi Tech Fury making his 16th appearance at the races, led throughout from gate three and was never in any danger, cruising to the wire in advance of Jasmint which raced outside him and Zechief which trailed.
Veteran Meltonian Graeme Lang’s/Estelle Bromac filly Livia Degerolstein a prohibitive $1.50 favourite, chalked up her 7th success by taking the Norton Ford Pace for C1 class over 1780 metres.
Taking a mares concession, Livia Degerolstein was crossed from the pole by Yellow Diamond next door, which in turn was crossed by Dargletim after a dashing drive from Rod Petroff. This put Livia Degerolstein in an awkward spot three back the markers, with Gavin Lang easing to face the open for the final circuit.
Driven with plenty of confidence, Livia Degerolstein proved too classy over the concluding stages to score by a half neck in 2-01.3 over Dargletim, with Yellow Diamond third.