Day At The Track

$50,000 Dullard Trotters Cup to Don King

10:21 PM 08 Jan 2010 NZDT
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Don King graduated from emerging star to bona fide harness racing top-liner last night when he won the $50,000 Dullard Trotters Cup Final at Melton's Tabcorp Park. The Sundon gelding secured his maiden Group 1 title at just his 25th trip to the races when he held off a classy field in the 2760-metre standing start event.

Winning reinsman Gavin Lang, who co-trains the gelding with his father Graeme, said the six-year-old's ability to run down a horse of Acacia Ridge's calibre in slick time was confirmation of his ability.

"Acacia Ridge is a proven Grand Circuit horse and to be able to sit behind him and run him down in a 27.8 last quarter is pretty encouraging considering he hasn't even had 30 starts yet," Lang said.

Lang wasn't always confident of victory aboard the $2 favourite, however. While Don King began well from barrier three, Acacia Ridge had little trouble crossing to the early lead despite a wide front-row draw.

That afforded Don King the cosy spot on the leader's back, but a 29.5-second third quarter on the back of a 62.8-second first half of the last mile meant Acacia Ridge ($12) was going to take some running down.

Don King required every inch of the Express Post Lane to claim the lead, but got his head in front in the final bound of a 2:04.6 mile rate.

Save A Sixpence ($4.40) ruined his chances by galloping away from the start but recovered to fill third placing a further three metres away with Heyzeal ($6.10) the same distance back in fourth spot.

"Acacia Ridge is a horse with a fairly good record and I knew he'd be a better horse than last week, so sitting behind him I always knew I'd get a good run but whether I'd be good enough to catch him I wasn't too sure," Lang said.

"I was never too confident of victory and it wasn't until the last stride that we got him anyway."

Don King's 15th win booked him a spot in the SEW-Eurodrive Inter Dominion Trotting Championship that starts at Ballarat on January 30 and concludes with a $250,000 final at Moonee Valley on February 6.

Lang recognises that will be an even greater task with Sundons Gift and Skyvalley among the rivals, but thinks Don King has earned his shot at the feature series with eight wins from nine starts this season.

"It's in his own backyard and he's going well, so we may as well put him in and see where we do actually fit in the scheme of things because they've all got to step up at some stage," Lang said.

Brad Bishop

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