Twelve months is a long time in harness racing.
Just ask Shane Tritton.
Last year he snared a one/two result in the Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park when Suave Stuey Lombo bombed his stablemate Mach Beauty in a track record time of 1;51.8.
That mark still stands.
Again, the Tritton speed freaks return to Albion Park chasing more feature race glory in the sunshine state during the Queensland winter carnival.
But there is a noticeable change this time around.
“We came here on a hope and a prayer last year and were lucky enough to land a perfect result with the two horses performing at their best and announcing themselves as genuine stars in the sport. We came here as hunters last season, this time we’re the hunted.” Tritton said.
Both Mach Beauty and Suave Stuey Lombo have achieved plenty during that twelve month window and return to Brisbane in outstanding form and ready to throw down a serious challenge to champion pacer Im Themightyquinn who has also arrived in town for the carnival.
At their most recent start, Suave Stuey Lombo did the incredible when he sat parked on the outside of Mach Beauty and beat him in an eye popping time of 1;49.6 at TABCORP Park, Menangle.
Suave Stuey Lombo joined an elite club with the commanding first over crushing victory.
Only Smoken Up (twice) and For A Reason have lowered the 1;50 mark in Australia.
On Saturday night, Mach Beauty has drawn ideally in gate one while Suave Stuey Lombo must overcome the gate seven, the outside of the front-line in the 1660m scamper.
“I was hopeful that both horses would draw well and I’m thrilled with the inside gate for Mach Beauty, he’s trained on really well since his latest effort and he will take plenty of beating this weekend.
“Suave Stuey Lombo will definitely need some luck from his wide draw but he can make his own like he did last start when he beat Mach, I’m really happy with the way Stuey is performing right now. Last year, we drove him for luck when he raced five back on the fence and still managed to win – he’s very versatile.
“We arrived on Monday and both horses have settled in very well so we’re ready to go. This race, the Sunshine Sprint, has been circled for some time and we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Punters have rallied around Mach Beauty from his coveted draw and steady support has seen him remove Im Themightyquinn as the favourite with gambling giant TattsBet.
Most punters see Mach Beauty leading while in-form local pacer Avonnova is expected to race on his outside leaving both Im Themightyquinn and Suave Stuey Lombo in a quandary, will they go forward or back?
“I know where Mach will be and that will be in front, he’s drawn to lead and he can pace around the 1;50 mark so if they’re good enough to catch him, good luck to them.
“Tactics for Im Themightyquinn will be very interesting, if they go forward he could be working very hard in fast time while if they go back, it’s almost mathematically impossible to come wide and around an entire field given the time that Mach will be carving out in front.
“Quinny is Quinny though, and he’s proven time and time again he can do the impossible. His trial on Tuesday was fantastic and he’s going to get my full respect, I’m sure the Hall boys will be confident.”
Suave Stuey Lombo is looking to become the first horse since Cobbity Classic (2005/06) to record back to back victories in the Sunshine Sprint.
By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)