Friday February 17 saw the opening harness racing eats of the time honoured Inter Dominion Pacing Championships get under way at glorious Gloucester Park in Perth Western Australia, where it all began back in 1936.
This year’s series have reverted back to the original format consisting of three heats and a Grand Final, whereas in recent times there has only been two heats prior to the Grand Final.
With all races over the sprint trip of 1700 metres in was anticipated that the action would be on from the outset and that it was in heat one sponsored by Rentravision, with Washakie (gate two) leading out and being given no peace by the roughie Sneakyn Down Under (gate six), with the much travelled(gate three) poised beautifully one/one.
Easing three wide on the final bend,( /Atomic Lass) raced to the front over closing stages to score in a mile rate 1-53.7 (last half mile 56.7 – quarter 29.1) from a game Washakie much to the delight of Harnesslink’s John Curtin and partners, with Wrongly Accused third from three back in the moving line in advance of Sneakyn Down Under and Alzona which trailed the leader.
Trained in Christchurch by Mark Purdon who wasn’t in attendance and driven by Anthony Butt,registered his 30th victory in 43 outings.
Anthony Butt was full of praise for, saying that he travelled beautifully throughout the race and ran to the wire strongly.
The SEW-Eurodrive sponsored heat two went the way of Byford (W-A) trainer Peter Tilbrook’s 5-Y-0/Medea Me entire Crombie in a rate of 1-55.9 (last half 56.4 – quarter 28.3).
Bred in Victoria by Shepparton’s Ian Chambers and partners, Crombie driven by local hero Chris Lewis who is no stranger to Inter Dominion success (Carclew & Village Kid), Crombie from outside the front row had no option but to go back at the start, with the pole marker Rocket Reign easily retaining the front running.
When Mysta Magical Mac (gate seven) commenced a forward move from four back in the moving line racing for the bell, Crombie immediately latched to his back for a three wide trail home.
Taken to the centre of the track on straightening, Crombie charged home to score from the fast finishing Can Return Fire down the outside fence after settling three back in the running line, with Rocket Reign third after looking the winner on the home turn.
Heavily supported(gate 8) finished fourth after facing the breeze, with Mysta Magical Mac a game fifth. The favourite Raglan (one/one from gate 5) never saw daylight at any stage, going to the wire hard held and will now be in search of much needed points to qualify for the final.
Champion Victorian 9-Y-0/Carnlough Bay gelding Smoken Up trained at Melton by Lance Justice and driven by brother John started a prohibitive odds-on favourite in the third heat sponsored by Yes Loans and didn’t let his supporters down, recording a 1-53.8 victory.
Beginning swiftly from gate seven, Smoken Up had little difficulty in parking outside the anticipated pole line leader Saucy Legend, with Justice putting the foot down to lead for the final circuit.
Running his last half in 57.2 – quarter 28.2, Smoken Up toyed with his rivals to score by 1.6 metres in advance of Dasher VC (one/three – three wide last lap) and Saucy Legend. Hesa Buzzin was a creditable fourth after being one/one with a circuit to travel and slightly held up approaching the home turn, with Cromac Johnny (three back the markers at bell) fifth. Lance gave a stern warning after the race that there was plenty of improvement in the horse who will be cherry ripe for the Final.
For John Justice it was like “Shakamaker” revisited who was so prominent during the Sydney Inters of 2002, going down narrowly to Smooth Satin.
The pride of Western Australia - Im Themightyquinn started a long odds-on favourite in the fourth and final heat presented by Schweppes and he had nothing more than a “stroll in the park” to obliterate his rivals in a rate of 1-56.5.
Trained by Gary Hall at Hazelmere and driven by son Gary (Jnr), Im Themightyquinn from gate four possied one/one trailing Lombo Navigator inside him, with the second elect Has The Answers easily retaining the front running.
With quarters of 30.4, 30.8, for the first half of the mile after a lead time of 5.9 seconds, they were always going to run home at an electric rate and they did in quarters of 28.5 and 26.8.
Easing three wide in the last lap, Im The Mightyquinn picked up Has The Answers in a stride on straightening to score by an untouched 5.4 metres, with Son Of Fergie third after trailing the pacemaker. Little Sonny Bill (three back the markers) and Artorius (four back) finished fourth and fifth.
A 7-Y-0 gelded son of Washington Vc and Love Sign, Im Themightyquinn did his early racing under the care of Peter Bagrie in Christchurch before crossing the Tasman to join the Hall camp and has been a revelation since, chalking up 36 wins and 27 placings from 81 race appearances. Further heats continue on Monday February 20.
By Len BAKER in Perth