FIRST TIME OUT OF FIRST FIVE
Smiling Shard was again luckless in the $250,000 Christian Cullen NZ Derby at Addington on Friday, April 9, finishing outside the first 5 for the first time in 22 career starts.
The Grinfromeartoear colt and NZ’s leading driver Dexter Dunn, had the door closed in the one out line in the run home.
Photo: Smiling Shard, now looking to qualify for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in June.
After Dexter worked into a perfect trailing spot on the outer over the final lap, it was shades of the Flying Stakes again. No room came for him in the run home.
A half-gap presented itself for Smiling Shard between leader Sir Lincoln and Kotare Mach (parked from the 1100m) at the top of the straight but quickly closed. That was his race over, finishing 10th.
However, the sprint lane was “free” for Captain Peacock and driver Mark Jones to power home and win the Derby.
Outsider Franco Jamar (three back) also dashed through along the sprint lane to run the quinella.
Against predictions, the Derby wasn’t run quite at record speed (3:14.1 mobile 2600m, 2:00.1 mile rate).
Given the overall strength of the 3YO crop, most of the field were able to keep up over the last 800m in 56.6s and final 400m in 27s and the field didn’t break up as one would expect over 2600m in the run home.
“You wouldn’t believe he would be unlucky two weeks in a row like that,” said trainer Cran Dalgety.
“We’ll take it on the chin and now look to earning enough money to get a start in the Jewels in June,” he said.
While Smiling Shard has won $760,454 lifetime, each season the Jewels fields are selected on money won during the season.
Ironically, Smiling Shard’s big win this season in the $250,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 3YO Pace does not count as Jewels qualifying does not include money won in yearling sales series events.
He is currently 18th on the list of 3YO Jewels qualifiers, but has time to cement his Jewels spot over the next 6 weeks.
By Jeff Scott