Day At The Track

Nike Franco powers to Queen of Pacific glory

07:49 AM 22 May 2016 NZST
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Nike Franco and Greg Sugars
Nike Franco and Greg Sugars win the 2016 Queen of the Pacific at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Stuart McCormick Photo

Nike Franco’s position among Australia’s elite harness racing mares has been further entrenched with a powerful $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific win at Tabcorp Park Melton.

The five-year-old mare (by McArdle out of Nearea Franco) from Dean Braun’s Lara stables upstaged a quality line-up in the Group 1 mares’ classic, including former race winner Gumdrops and millionaire earner Frith.

Nike Franco led for the majority of Saturday night’s 2760-metre journey and rated 1:56.5, finishing 1.9m clear of runner-up Milly Perez with third placegetter and race favourite Cyclone Kate 3.1m off the winner.

RE-LIVE NIKE FRANCO’S QUEEN OF THE PACIFIC TRIUMPH

“This mare’s so exciting,” an elated Braun said.

“I’ve had some really good racehorses but this mare’s very special.

“I said to Greg Sugars (Driver) that I thought I had her pretty right tonight … he drove her really well.”

Nike Franco has won feature races in four Australian states, with two Oaks successes in Queensland – the Gold Coast and the Qld, the Raith Memorial in New South Wales, the rich Mares Classic in Western Australia, and this season’s Warragul Cup and now the Queen of the Pacific in Victoria.

“To do what she did tonight was pretty special,” Braun said.  

The victory capped a great night for Greg Sugars, who drove a winning treble and dual Group 1 successes after earlier securing the win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final for 2YO Trotting Fillies aboard Illawong Shimmer, trained by Greg’s father Ross.

Illawong Shimmer (by Muscle Mass out of Shining Sun) is, as her name suggests, a member of trots owner Dr Martin Hartnett’s clan.

“They deserve every win they get for what they put in,” Sugars said post-race of Hartnett and wife Kaye.

Illawong Shimmer rated 2:01.2 for the 1720m trip to defeat Yankee Redback (Kerryn Manning) with Sval Queen (Anthony Butt) third.

Deltasun won the night’s other Group 1, the colts and geldings’ trotters Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic.

Trained by former jockey Terry Young at Ararat, Deltasun (by Tennotrump out of Deltasu) handled the final corner better than race favourite Illawong Byron (Jodi Quinlan) and held a half-neck advantage over that horse on the line in a rate of 2:01.6, with Kheiron (Peter Lane) third.

Sugars and Lang shared driving honours at Melton, each grabbing a treble.

In addition to the abovementioned victories Sugars steered Anton Golino-trained Val Gardena (by Kadabra out of Lets Be Happy) to victory in the Haras Des Trotteurs Sweetheart Trot Final, while Lang guided former New South Wales Derby winner Major Secret (Art Major/Secret Life) home in the Best In Town Concreting Pace for Emma Stewart, and Hectorjayjay (Dream Away/Sheer Finesse) to victory in the Group 2 University Meat 4YO and 5YO Championship over 2240m.

CHECK OUT ALL THE RESULTS & VIDEO REPLAYS FROM MELTON

Other Melton winners were Little Lyn (by Jeremes Jet out of Rappa Scooter), a homebred mare raced and trained by Barry Dunn at Horsham and driven by son Aaron Dunn in the Service Sphere Pace, popular It Is Billy (by It Is I out of Glenlyon Glad) in the Crown Coffee International Golden Reign Free-for-All for trainer Michael Barby and driver Anne-Maree Conroy, Stoned I Am (by Sundon out of Stoned At Midnight) in the Seelite Windows and Doors Coulter Crown for trainer/driver Simone Walker, and in-form eight-year-old Might Be Luck (by Northern Luck out of Marilyns Might) in the Riddell Umpires Association Claiming Pace for trainer Beau Tindale and reinsman Michael Bellman.

Victorians shine interstate

Another week, another domination from the Emma Stewart stable – this time at Globe Derby, South Australia.

The Smythes Creek trainer secured a winning treble on Saturday night at the SA home of metro trots racing, with unbeaten two-year-old filly Our Celebrity (by Mach Three out of Celebrity Ball) winning the Alabar/SA Botra 2YO Fillies Golden Nursery Final, impressive three-year-old Rocknroll Magic (by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic) taking out the Home Loans-Providing Solutions SA Botra 3YO Fillies Final, and Metro Mike (by Metropolitan out of Tuscan Skies) saluting in the Carbine Chemicals Pacers Dash over 1385m.

CHECK OUT ALL THE RESULTS FROM GLOBE DERBY, SA

All Stewart’s winners were driven by Mark Billinger, who picked up five winners for the night overall.

Meanwhile, at Menangle in New South Wales, classy five-year-old trotting mare Claudys Princess (by Bacardi Lindy out of All Finesse) took out the Rio Meteor Race Sulky La Coocaracha (Group 3) with Darren Hancock in the cart for Kyabram trainer Mick Blackmore, and Golino-trained Pizza Queen (by Credit Winner out of Armbro Domino) won the Garrards Horse and Hound NSW Trotters Oaks for reinsman David Morris, upstaging race favourite High Gait in a thrilling finish.

WATCH PIZZA QUEEN'S NSW TROTTERS OAKS SUCCESS

Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

 

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