SMILING SHARD HOLDS NARROWLY IN RECORD RUN
Glamour Kentuckiana Lodge pacer Smiling Shard did only as much as required to hold Chariot King by half a head in the first $A15,000 Christian Cullen NSW Derby Heat (Lawn Derby Qualifying Division) at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, on Monday afternoon, April 19.
Despite not being asked to really exert himself, Smiling Shard paced the mobile 2300m in a new 3YO age group record at Menangle of 2:46 _ a swift mile rate of 1:56.1.
Photo: Smiling Shard, successful in his NSW Derby Heat at Menangle.
This was considerably quicker than the previous track record mile rate over the journey of 1:56.8 set two years ago by Riverboat King gelding Rohan Home (subsequently last year’s runnerup to Maffioso in the Australasian Breeders Crown 4YO Final at Melton), but only lasted 3 3/4 hours until For A Reason lowered it to 1:55.3 in the 4th Courage Under Fire Qualifying Division.
Champion aged stallion Blacks A Fake holds the allcomers track mile rate over the journey of 1:53.8 set when winning this year’s Interdominion Pacers Grand Final.
After securing a perfect one-one spot in the early rush, Smiling Shard was forced wide when Dominus Vobiscum tangled when parked entering the straight with a lap to run.
Dominus Vobiscum quickly settled for trainer Lance Justice to briefly take up the running before driver Dexter Dunn sent hot favourite Smiling Shard to the front with a lap to run.
The Cran Dalgety-trained star was hotly challenged in the run home by the John Tapp-trained Chariot King, who had enjoyed a one-one sit over the final lap.
However Smiling Shard held narrowly, the leaders being timed over their last mile in 1:56.5, the closing 800m in 56s and final 400m in 27.9s. He was backed into hot favouritism returning $1.50 to win on the NZ TAB, and $1.90 on the NSW TAB.
Dominus Vobiscum, the ex-Canterbury 3YO, held 3rd 3 3/4 metres back, with Smackdown, three back on the outer to the home turn, making round next.
He will be trying for another big-race Australian age group success in the $A100,000 NSW Derby Final will be run at Menangle this Friday night, April 23.
COURAGE TO RULE WINS 2ND HEAT
Victoria Derby winner Courage To Rule (3g Courage Under Fire-Rule The Roost) made it a clean sweep for the Kiwi contingent in the first two NSW Derby heats with an easy win in the second Captain Joy qualifying division.
The John Green/Brian Hughes-trained pacer bided his time four back on the outer until moving into the three wide line at the 800m for driver Greg Bennett.
Photo: Top NSW reinsman, Greg Bennett.
Courage To Rule, a dominating $1.30 win favourite on the NSW TAB, was unleashed on a winning run four wide at the 400m, quickly reeling in the leader NZ-bred Toulouse Lautrec (Lance Justice). He went on to score by a length in a slower 1:58.7 mile rate than the first heat. Other NZ-breds Bromac Jones (parked mostly) and Highview Spirit were next.
The leaders were timed over their last mile in 1:58, their final 800m in 56.3s and closing 400m in 27.8s.
RENAISSANCE MAN WINS 3RD HEAT
Victorian 3YO Renaissance Man, after moving up in the open over the final 1200m, was too strong in the 3rd Westburn Grant qualifying division.
The Andy Gath-trained Art Major colt ran clear by 10.8m in the hands of Kate Gath to score in a 1:57.8 mie rate for the 2300m.
He finished off with a closing 800m in 56s, looking sharp over his final 400m in a slick 26.8s to beat NZ-breds Eton Bromac (parked early) and Henrik Zetterberg, the latter settling last then improving three wide to 3rd to challenge at the 400m. Leader Two Eye See was swamped in the run home to finish 4th.
FOR A REASON FASTEST QUALIFIER
For A Reason, a warm $2.40 favourite on the NSW TAB, saved the best for last when he raced away to win the Courage Under Fire final qualifying division.
The Art Major colt, trained and driven by Queensland’s Luke McCarthy, scored easily by 12.7m from Cuttheattitude, Karter Brown and Mach Wiper. Second favourite Master Joy was a well-beaten 5th, failing to qualify.
For A Reason finished off with a final 800m in 55.6s and a closing 400m in 27.7s. He rated 1:55.3 for the full mobile 2300m to lower Smiling Shard’s short-lived 3YO track record mile rate.
By Jeff Scott