Day At The Track

Armstrong one step closer

11:56 PM 24 Jun 2016 NZST
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Illawong Armstrong(1).jpg
Illawong Armstrong

Illawong Armstrong produced an extraordinary run in last year’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old final for harness racing trotting colts and geldings.

Twelve months have passed since the son of Dream Vacation/Figment blew the start and was tailed off in the Vicbred final before making enormous ground late to finish third, and trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan has the gelding absolutely flying.

Illawong Armstrong, a member of owner Dr Martin Hartnett’s ‘Illawong squad’, romped home in his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series heat at Maryborough yesterday, defeating runner-up Belts by 23.5m in a mile rate of 2:04.5.

And the news only got better for the Illawong team tonight with Armstrong drawing the pole for next Friday night’s Final. He has to be hard to beat from there.

In driving rain yesterday Illawong Armstrong looked every bit the professional, Quinlan going easy on the prodigious talent who, but for his poor manners last season, arguably could already boast two Group 1 wins – producing two of the biggest runs you’ll ever see in defeat in the Vicbred and Breeders Crown finals.

“He had a good run. His manners were really good,” Quinlan said of his most recent outing.

“He got a lovely, easy trip out front and I expect him to do that, he is an above-average horse.

“He’s probably the best horse I have put a bridle on. Unfortunately it hasn’t been an ideal preparation because he got really sick, but we have made the most of the time we have had.”

Quinlan said Illawong Armstrong’s Maryborough win will have him peaked fitness-wise for next Friday night’s Group 1 final.

“He really needed the (heat) run,” she said.

“He’s not really a natural leader, and has an exceptional sprint, but if he draws to run at the front then he can do that.”

John Meade-trained Sparkling Success won the other Vicbred four-year-old trotting males’ heat, defeating fast-finishing Kyvalley Boomerang by a short half-head.

Sparkling Success (Great Success/Diamond Insitu) has drawn right alongside the expected favourite in gate two.

Driven by Gavin Lang, Sparkling Success enjoyed the perfect run behind leader Eljaykay Phoenix and got the better of that horse when it galloped halfway up the straight.

Kyvalley Boomerang flashed home late, while Save Our Pennys picked up third from last year’s Vicbred two-year-old reigning champion Eljaykay Phoenix.


Draw for Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires/Geldings Final

1: Illawong Armstrong
2: Sparkling Success
3: Wake Up Wilbur
4: Eljaykay Phoenix
5: Akotiri
6: Save Our Pennys
7: Kyvalley Boomerang
8: Well Deserved
9: The Third Son
10: Spud
11: Belts
12: Bring The Action (ODM)
13: Fabrication (ODM) EM

Cody Winnell

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