Star Kiwi gelding Stent steadied himself for a Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star tilt with an exhilarating win in the Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
Drawn barrier eight and an unlucky runner-up in the Glenferrie Farm challenge at his latest start, he vanquished any demons with a slick last quarter that saw him peel from three back the pegs to charge to the lead in front of earlier leader Flying Isa and Keystone Del.
Aleppo Midas had a cart into the race and let down out wide to fly home into second while My High Expectations ran home resolutely for third.
The early tale of the race was widely predicted with Flying Isa crossing Stoned I Am at barrier rise.
But when Kyvalley Blur pulled in front of My High Expectations to look for the chair mid-race, the complexion of the event changed as Keystone Del kicked up to hold that position.
In a mile rate of 1:59.1 the leader was able to pinch an even first quarter of the last mile in 31.1secs before quickening to trot 30.8secs, 28.4secs and finally 28.8secs in the last fraction.
Stent’s dashing win has him set to start one of the favourites in next week’s $300,000 Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star final.
The win pushed the five-year-old’s prizemoney in excess of $350,000 already with automatic entry into the GSS already assured.
With a wildcard still possibly in play from HRV, Aleppo Midas put her hand up to enter calculations with fields announced on Tuesday.
For more information on the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star visit www.greatsouthernstar.com.au.
In the night's other feature races, Zedalite pushed his way towards a GSS berth with a strong win in the Trotters FFA over Brunelleschi and El Paco.
Smoken Up showed his rivals a clean pair of heals in the Westburn Grant FFA in a mile rate of 1:57.0 while Victoria May finally broke through at Melton this campaign with a win in the Ian Daff Memorial.
Major Crocker was too speedy in the 3YO Cup on the night while Melton Plate winner Magical Telf returned to the winners stall with a strong win in the third leg of the Quaddie.
By Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)