Day At The Track

Willie Go West wins opening heat

04:40 PM 01 Mar 2021 NZDT
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Willie Go West, Harness racing
Willie Go West Photo

Victorian trainer Dean Braun is no stranger to winning feature races in Tasmania and he is one step closer to claiming his second Tasmania Cup with lightly raced four-year-old gelding Willie Go West.

The former Kiwi pacer demolished his rivals to score in the opening heat of the Group 2 Tasmania Cup at Ladbrokes Park Elwick in Hobart on Sunday night.

It was only the 10th racetrack appearance for the four-year-old gelding who was able to step away brilliantly from the pole draw in the 2579-metre standing start event to lead all the way.

Driver Chris Alford had no reason to panic, despite being kept honest in the early stages by Call Me Hector, who was inclined to over race, to record a 77.0s lead time before recording quarters of 29.4s, 33.0s, 29.1s and 28.4s for a mile rate of 2m 2.9s.

The gelded son of Auckland Reactor wasn’t even out of second gear on his way to a 13.8-metre victory over The Shallows and Lip Reader, with the locals chasing well spread out over the concluding stages.

“He was good, he is a pretty nice horse, and I have always liked him, I went and drove him in New Zealand, and he gave me a very nice feel and I have sort of kept him back and gave him a few looks at the tape to get him ready for this as we knew he would get the front,” said winning trainer Dean Braun after the race.

“If I waited until next year, he would have been off 30 metres, so I had to come this year and give it a shot, I have thrown him in the deep end a little bit as he has only had 10-starts, but it is good money and hopefully we can get some of it,” added the trainer.

The first seven placegetters all qualified for the Group 2 Final on Saturday 13 March, and they will be joined by the first seven placegetters of this Sunday’s heat, where Braun will be represented by Holy Basil, who has performed well in recent trials, while he is yet to decide if multiple Group 1 winner Our Princess Tiffany will contest the heat or wait and contest the states premier mares race, the George Johnson on 13 March, but she is likely to remain in the state for the Easter Cup in Launceston next month.

Alford and Braun combined to win the Tasmania Cup with Our Chain Of Command in 2010, which was the last year the race held Group 1 status with prizemoney of $100,000, while Alford has also won the race with Talimade Lombo on two occasions, and Golden Reign during the ‘90s.

While the Tasmania Cup with Willie Go West will be their main focus on 13 March, they look set to be adding the Eric Reece Memorial to there resume with six-year-old gelding Jaffa Josh who scored a 19-metre win in the second heat of the series.

The six-year-old gelding settled one-out and three-back before the favourite swept to the lead down the back straight to go on and record an effortless 19-metre victory.

“He is a pretty nice horse, he has good speed, and is good gaited and has plenty of bottom to him,” said Braun.

“He has a few quirks but has come a long way in a short amount of time, and I think he is a handy horse,” added the winning trainer.

Alford drove a treble on the card, winning the Aldebaran Park Hobart Trotting Cup with the Rodney Ashwood-trained Mascott, who led home a training quinella for Rodney Ashwood, with Beau Garcon finishing second


Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

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