Day At The Track

Stanley 2YO drops jaws on debut

02:35 PM 10 Feb 2020 NZDT
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SOHO LANIKAI,Harness racing
Stuart McCormick photo

It was one of the more memorable Victorian racetrack debuts in recent times and it has Burrumbeet trainer Mick Stanley dreaming big with exciting two-year-old Soho Lanikai.

While the horse’s 65m victory in the Allied Express Premiere Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night was visually stunning, the clock backed up the horse’s dominance.

The son of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by strong stable supporter Rob Watson, rated a slick 1.54.0 mile rate in defeating the previously unbeaten Ultimate Exclusive and Im Lady Madeleine over the 1720m trip.

The time is only half-a-second outside Nostra Beach's two-year-old track record (1:53.5 mile rate), set in the APG fillies' final on May 6 2017, and 0.3 seconds outside Dont Hold Back's (1:53.7) 2YO colts and geldings' record, which was set in the Sapling Stakes (February 27 2015).

“We expected him to win, but at the trials he was very green and had a good look around and was sort of a bit dorky,” said Stanley, who gave the drive to Ryan Duffy due to commitments at Globe Derby.

“Our only concern going into the race was if he raced a bit green and had a good look around like he did at the trials, but he didn’t do any of that and what he did at the trials he benefited a lot from. That was great to see that improvement in him mentally so he was able to switch-on on race day.”

Stanley said the heats of the Bathurst Gold Crown would likely be the next assignment for the horse on March 20, with a hopeful run in the Group 1 final a week later.

Soho Lanikai was purchased at the Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold sales and is also eligible for that upcoming series.

Another highlight on Saturday night’s card was the brilliant return to racing from Mick Chircop-trained General Dodge.

In his first competitive race since June 2018, the seven-year-old proved too good in the Hygain Pace (1720m, NR 80-99) after sitting three-wide in the latter stages.

He rated 1.53.8 and beat a quality field including Emma Stewart-trained place-getters Liftntorque and Always Fast.

Chircop said it had been a long road back to fitness for his star pacer, who has won 12 of 16 career starts.

“He got this parasite called liver fluke and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it,” Chircop said.

“We kept working him up and he kept getting crook and I was a bit worried at the time. It’s more common in cattle and sheep. It’s a snail and it attacks their liver - he was very sick and we nearly lost him a couple of times there.”

Chircop, who trains from Parwan, said a tilt at the country cups circuit was among the future plans for the son of Courage Under Fire.


HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

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