SMART three-year-old Tasmanian pacer Vande Velde showed the courage of his namesake when he rallied after looking beaten to win a heat of the Globe Derby Stakes over 2200 metres in Launceston last Friday night.
The-trained and driven pacer is named after former US cycling champion Christian Vande Velde who retired last year after a successful career as a professional road racer.
The cyclist of Belgian descent was known for his courage and ability to overcome the greatest of obstacles in hotly contested road races.
Salter was keen to lead the race so he set his charge a task to achieve that goal soon after the start.
But about 500m from home he allowed the horse that was racing on his outside, Hustler Halo, to roll to the lead while the driver was content to take the sit on the leader's back.
"It wasn't that we were going that fast - it was just that my horse wasn't comfortable," Salter said.
"I felt that he wasn't going to win if I put the pressure on him at that stage of the race," he said.
It proved to be the winning move.
When the leader started to tire Salter simply eased his charge off the fence to challenge and went on to score by just over a metre from Karalta Dazzler with Chopstix Boris a close-up third.
While Vande Velde's time was slower than that of the other heat winner Estevao Salter was more than pleased with his horse's effort.
"He did a good job because he had to do a bit of work early to find the front so he'll be a chance in the final if he can get the right run," the trainer said.
By Peter Staples