Former New Zealander Unico Crown was again the victor in Heat Two of the prestigious Tontine Series for Trotters T0 or better class over 2590 metres at Stawell on Monday February 3.
A winner of the first round heat at Geelong on January 27, Unico Crown was again eligible to compete due to a paucity of numbers accepting for the race and scored in almost identical fashion.
Trained at Lara by Dean Braun and driven by Chris Alford, Unico Crown as he did at Geelong began swiftly from the 10-metre mark to lead and was never headed, defeating Craig Demmler’s smart gelding Glenferrie Typhoon which raced outside him for the majority of the trip when first up since August, going down by 3.6 metres in a rate of 2-08.9, with Will Atone (20 metres) 44.1 metres away in third place after making a mistake hitting the back straight on the final occasion.
Unico Crown four year old gelded son of Monarchy and Sunny Gem will now head to the $7,000 Semi-Finals to be conducted at Terang this Sunday, with the $30,000 Final to take place at Ballarat on February 14.
Last season’s very smart Yankee Spider/Rockolina gelding Miracle resumed in the Grampians Estate 3-Y-0 Trotters Handicap over 2175 metres and as expected was untroubled to score.
Trained and driven by Bolinda’s Chris Alford for owner Dolores Murphy, Miracle an almost faultless trotter, led throughout from the pole, winning with something in hand over Bacardi Breeze which trailed, moving to the outside on turning to fail by 1.5 metres in a rate of 2-10.8. No Trumps No Glory (three back along the markers last lap was a further 16.5 metres away in third spot.
Miracle hadn’t been seen since finishing fourth in The Redwood at Maryborough on July 14.
Mingbool (Mount Gambier) trainer/driver David Drury has a terrific strike rate when he crosses the border and landed the Renown Silverware Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1780 metres with four year old Blissful Hall/Art For Art Sake gelding Big Gorilla.
Driven with aggression from gate two, Big Gorilla led throughout to record a 4.8 metre victory in 1-59.4 over Evil Trickster which raced outside him, with Jerry Marshall (one/one) dropping down to use the sprint lane on straightening to finish third 1.8 metres away.
Heywood co-trainers Kevin Brough and Bec East have their team firing on all fours at present and snared the Brian Gunnell Memorial 3-Y-0 Pace over 1780 metres with ever reliable Total Truth/Mama Tembu gelding Always Wantano in a rate of 2-00.8.
Starting from the extreme draw, driver Matt Craven sent Always Wantano forward from near last racing for the bell to park outside the pacemaker My Mach Scooter for the final circuit.
Gaining the upper hand on straightening, Always Wantano scored by 3.4 metres in advance of Bungalally Boy which trailed the leader easing wide on turning, with My Mach Scooter weakening to finish third a head away.
The Kaye Matthews Tribute a C1 class race over 2175 metres named in honour of the late Kaye Matthews an administrator with the club for a number of years, went the way of Long Forest trainer Andy Gath’s most consistent Mach Three/Fingers Crossed four year old mare Lems Cameo.
Driven by wife Kate, Lems Cameo (gate four) made an unsuccessful bid for the front running as the mobile gate pulled away, but couldn’t head off Sorority Sister (gate two).
Gaining cover shortly after when Cullen Time moved to race in the open, Lems Cameo enjoyed a perfect passage.
Easing three wide in the last lap, Lems Cameo sprinted sharply to lead on the home turn, before racing away to record a 12.8 metre victory from Franco Seelster from last off a three wide trail in the final circuit, with Additallup flying home late for third after being shuffled back from three back the markers when Beau Ciel ahead of him was held up for a clear passage. The mile rate 2-02.7.
Childers Cove duo Ange and Clare McDowell made a long awaited return to the winners list, when four year old Blissful Hall/Childers Elite gelding Masterofthurles (unplaced in six starts prior) greeted the judge in the Mussett Upholstery Pace for C0 class over 1780 metres.
Despite racing without cover from gate three for the entire trip, Masterofthurles outstayed his rivals in defeating Glenway Hustler which led and Rose Devine (one/one) in a rate of 2-01.
Great Western’s Michelle Wight was victorious with Armbro Operative/If Iseeyouinheaven five year old mare Shanira in the Pyrenees Smallgoods Pace for C1 class over 1780 metres.
Given every opportunity one/one from gate five, Shanira when eased three wide at the straight entrance, finished best to score by a half neck over a death-seating Khaleesi and Tipperary Seelster which led in a rate of 2-01.
By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)