Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2006/2007 Season
Leg 11Hankook Tyres AG Hunter Cup   2006/2007 Results   Points
               11/02/2007  Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Vic  3065m  Standing Start  $500,000
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A pick-up drive for ace reinsman Chris Alford enabled him to win his third Hunter Cup on Sunday afternoon when he steered Sting Lika Bee from its re-handicap of 10m to easily beat Toe Taper and Flashing Red in track record time for the marathon distance of 3065m. 

It was Alford’s fourth winner for the day, and the fifth on end for the Ballarat pacer following wins in the recent Country Cups at Stawell, Shepparton and Ballarat, leading up to Sunday’s impressive win in Australia’s major staying race. 

So popular was the immediate victory of the eight-year-old stallion on Sunday that it took owner-trainer Brian Tuddenham some time to push his way through well-wishers to make it trackside for the presentation where the usually talkative hobby trainer was lost for words when first stepping up to the microphone. 

Many of the well-wishers knew the story of how Tuddenham 10 years ago had a light go out of his life with the death of his wife Kath.  Two years on he purchased a four-month-old foal to raise and play around with, coming to name it after his idol Mohammed Ali’s most famous catch-cry ‘Sting Lika Bee’. 

Now, 32 wins and stakemoney of $840,981 later, the brother of one-time Collingwood football star Des Tuddenham, is on top of the pacing world with his decision to by-pass the Adelaide Inter Dominion and concentrate on Victorian Cups seemingly vindicated. 

Until Sting Lika Bee’s recent string of wins in Cups, the horse was driven by David Murphy, who was then replaced by Daryl Douglas for three wins from three starts.  When Douglas earlier last week decided to fulfil an earlier promise to drive Toe Taper for Kilmore trainer Tracy Moule in the Hunter Cup, he recommended to Tuddenham to give serious consideration to giving the drive on Sunday to Alford. 

Alford is believed to have been playing cards relaxing with friends and convinced he would be watching the big race from the stands when the call came through and he was asked to take the drive behind Sting Lika Bee.  His earlier victories in this race were with Paris Affair in 1999 and Denver Gold in 2003.  


Sting Lika Bee

A number of professional punters last week believed the re-handicapping of the horse following its Ballarat Cup win to the outside of the 10-metre backmark with Flashing Red and Robin Hood, just about ended its hopes of making it five victories in a row, and the horse drifted out to good odds. 

In his acceptance speech, Tuddenham explained how during the week when viewing the picture of his horse now starting off the outside of the backmark he was hoping Alford might be able to give it a good run then it was likely to run a nice race. 

However, on Sunday morning when he took the pacer out for a lap or so to clear away the cobwebs, he said the stallion had felt super and keen to race, overcoming his own sense of doubt about that afternoon, raising his hopes that it might be a real chance of winning. 

An emotional Tuddenham told the crowd of 8075 how it was “a beautiful drive by Chris,” who when brought forward to collect the driver’s trophy was quick to thank Daryl Douglas for having earlier put in a good word for him when Tuddenham had been forced to find another reinsman. 

Douglas himself drove a fine tactical race on Toe Taper from its awkward draw out in barrier 7 to finish second with Flashing Red (Geoff Webster) holding on well for third.  The mile rate of 2:0.5 took .1 of a second off Blossom Lady’s record for the slightly longer 3280m in 1995, though it was not the fastest Hunter Cup to be run.  When Preux Chevalier rated 1:58.4 in 1985, that year it had been raced from a mobile start over 2870 metres. 

Punters on Sunday sent former NSW pacer Smooth Crusa NZ out favourite, having won its latest start when making its debut for new trainer Lance Justice after moving to his Melton stables.  Tribute NZ had plenty of support being viewed as the horse on the way up, while Foreal NZ and Winforu NZ both had many admirers from their front row draws. 

At barrier rise, pole-marker Reba Rajah again galloped out of a stand, with Poppys Boy best to begin from out in four. Winforu NZ also began with dash out wide, while Gavin Lang had Robin Hood away like a flash from the 10m mark and was up running fifth early.   Foreal NZ blew its chances at the start and was well out the back, at one stage almost 70 metres away from the leader. 

Winforu NZ, which runs its best races when out setting the pace, made a strong run out wide to finally find the lead with Smooth Crusa NZ nicely placed, with Robin Hood racing on the outside of Lookslikelightning and Toe Taper having good cover. 

As expected, Webster did not wait too long before taking Flashing Red forward in a hurry to find the one-out one-back position. Midway Tribute NZ was taken three wide by top Kiwi reinsman Tony Herlihy, but was not going places in a hurry, with Alford waiting for just such a move before improving his position with cover for Sting Lika Bee. 

While Winforu NZ led, it maintained a solid pace for the marathon, pacing the first quarter on the last mile in 29.5 seconds, followed by the second in 30.6. With the leader seemingly ready to down tools, the race quickly changed.  When Sting Lika Bee made its move coming into the hometurn for the final time, the third quarter was put behind in a smart 28.6 which soon sorted out the main players. 

Among the next to show a little strain was surprisingly Tribute NZ. It was just not its day.  Sting Lika Bee actually strode to the front 120 metres out and was finishing on strongly with the race well in its keeping with a last quarter in 29.2.  The final mile was posted in 1:57.9. 

Alford did not punch out the winner coming to the line, having four metres to spare over an improving Toe Taper, with a gallant Flashing Red a head away third.  Dropping out to finish a long last was the local mare Mi Coconut.  It might have been the outsider in the race, but to then it had been the holder of the track record for this distance with 2:05.2 set last June. 

While connections of Smooth Crusa NZ collected $23,750 for finishing fourth, they would have been a little disappointed in the efforts of the favourite, one of four Kiwi-bred pacers in the field. For once, it was an all Victorian-bred result with the three placegetters having been bred in the home-State – a rare happening these days with Kiwi-bred stayers to the fore. 

Considering the excellent promotion of the meeting, officials would have been a little disappointed with the crowd, though on and off-course turnover are likely to have been good.


All Time Pacing and Trotting Records pre-2001 please refer to the Australian Harness Racing Annual.

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