Melton trainer Ross Sugars' run of form continued on Sunday at the famous Redwood Carnival meeting at Maryborough.
Sugars trained the winner of the 2690-metre Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby, Illawong Helios, which overpowered hot favourites Claudys Princess and Our Twentyten in the last 200m.
Ross said driver – and his son – Greg Sugars delivered a “10 out of 10” drive aboard Illawong Helios, finding the back of Claudys Princess early before tracking Our Twentyten off the back and peeling three-wide into the lane the final time.
“They were all running on empty in the straight,” Ross Sugars said.
“It was a very slow last quarter (32 seconds). It was the first go for all of them at that kind of distance and it was just a case of those at the front having done more work, which allowed us to be that little bit stronger in the straight.
“Our filly keeps on trying and she just found the line a bit better because of the way the race was run. That was the difference.”
Sugars said heading down the back the last time he started thinking his filly was capable of at least running a place. “I even thought ‘don’t tell me she’s going to win’,” he said.
Sugars said Claudys Princess, which finished runner-up in the Derby 1.7m behind Illawong Helios, was still the best three-year-old filly in the business and said her run on Sunday was enormous.
But it was Illawong Helios’s day, the daughter of Majestic Son breaking a run of three consecutive second-place finishes in the Oaks and two Vicbred Super Series races.
Illawong Helios set a new race record with his winning mile rate of 2:01.6 eclipsing the mark set by Blitzthemcalder last year by 0.3secs.
She will now head to the Breeders Crown.
Illawong Helios paid $23 on the tote.
Sugars, who said he was not a betting man, admitted if he was an odds watcher he'd have moved at that price.
"She was an 8-1 to 10-1 chance, I thought. Those odds were enormous," he said.
Another trotter from the Sugars stable, four-year-old mare Quite A Moment, also won on Redwood day, taking out the John Slack Memorial Trotters Handicap over 2190m.
Quite A Moment recorded a 58-second last half to score by 1.9m over Lord Liam, last year’s three-year-old trotters’ Breeders Crown champion hitting her straps ahead of this year’s series.
“She’s done a really good job in the last 12 months. She’ll have a run or two and then she’ll be back in the Breeders Crown for the four-year-olds’ race.”
On Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton Sugars-trained Bettor Rock On made it five starts Down Under for five wins.
The former New Zealander sat parked in the Yeomans Slate and Stone Winter Championship Final before sprinting up down the back in 27.8secs and skipping clear of early leader Essbee Doubleyou in a 28.4-second last quarter to win in a rate of 1:54.4.
“He’s done the job and won five in a row,” Sugars said.
“We’ll give him a break now and then prepare him for the new season and target some country cups. The Kilmore Cup (October 26) would be an aim. He’s a very good stand-start horse.”
Sugars said the brilliant Youranut (Vicbred Super Series 4YO Final winner last year) was back in work and would resume racing in the next month or so.
By Cody Winnell
Harness Racing Victoria