After moving to Queensland for this series, its two efforts in the heats appeared to be only moderate, or so many punters thought as they were quick to jump off for the Grand Final.
It officially returned $19.40 for Saturday night’s win on the Queensland tote after sprinting home on the inside to defeat Blacks A Fate and Karloo Mick. This latter pair appeared to have the race between them at the top of the straight, and staged a battle royal until Butt brought the fast-finishing Mr Feelgood USA through on their inside to win clearly, with only a half-neck between second and third.
Mr Feelgood USA is raced by one of Seymour’s companies in partnership with his friends Peter O’Shea and Clinton Payne. Seymour was also the major sponsor of the Series through his company WATPAC.
He is by Grinfromeartoear USA out of Best Of Memories (US) and is trained by Anthony‘s brother, Tim Butt. Their stable at Christchurch has enjoyed great success with horses in Inter Dominion Trotting Finals, winning three titles (Lyell Creek NZ and Take A Moment NZ) twice.
This is the Butt’s first success in the pacing section of Australasia’s most prestigious event. The brothers seem to have that knack of having their horses at their best for the night of these Inter Dominion Finals.
There was solid support by Queenslanders for their idol, Blacks A Fake, who was lining up to make it an unprecedented four Inter Dominion in four years. But as the money kept coming for ‘Blackie’, so too did the big money for the visitor from New Zealand, Auckland Reactor NZ, a pacer which many on both sides of the Tasman for months have been claiming to be the best in the Southern Hemisphere.
When the field was sent on its way, for a brief moment one or two drawn outside Blacks A Fake seemed capable of heading off the pole marker, but their drivers seemed to hesitate, allowing the second favourite to go through and take the lead.
After the first half mile, it was Blacks A Fake (Natalie Rasmussen) leading from stablemate I Am Sam (Grant Dixon); followed by Gotta Go Cullen NZ (Tony Herlihy) and Changeover NZ (David Butcher).
The usually aggressive Victorian, Lance Justice, was prepared to stay put near the rear with Smoken Up NZ. This horse went into the Series under a slight cloud due to its preparation being interrupted through injury, and was perhaps a run or two short of its best.
When Greg Bennett was off and running after the first lap with Karloo Mick, so too was Gavin Lang with favourite, Auckland Reactor NZ, from its terrible barrier draw off the outside of the second row. Little did anyone realise the problem the Victorian reinsman was having with the fired up horse. It finally pulled its way up on the outside of the leader a long way from home.
At this stage, to the thousands watching the race on their television screens, it probably appeared Lang was trying to outstay Blacks A Fake, when in fact the favourite was refusing to settle on an Australian circuit much smaller to the tracks where it raced in Auckland and Christchurch.
The last mile was paced solidly with the first quarter coming up in 29.2 seconds, followed by a leisurely section of 30 seconds. It was soon after that Auckland Reactor NZ waved the white flag of surrender, and fell behind.
Meanwhile, Blacks A Fake had reeled off a 28.5 third quarter when the battle with Karloo Mick really began in earnest despite both pacers having been worked along. The fourth and last quarter was timed in 29.1 seconds, with the winner flashing home after having been given a good run throughout by the big-race specialist Anthony Butt.
Changeover NZ went into this race looking its best since winning the New Zealand Cup in November, but was well beaten into fourth place, a disappointing result for this former No 1 pacer in New Zealand.
Among Saturday night’s spectators was Victorian trainer-driver Graeme Lang who caught a plane to Brisbane on Saturday to see his son Gavin picking up a late drive on the Auckland Reactor NZ Graeme Lang was the last trainer to win an Australian Driving Championship in the 1979-80 season. Every National driver’s title since has been claimed by a freelance reinsman, including several by his son.
Mark Purdon advised stewards that Auckland Reactor NZ will now be taken back to New Zealand to resume its program of racing. The horse pulled up with a normal heart rate after Saturday night’s race, however, a veterinary examination later revealed the horse to have a slightly poor post race recovery.
Purdon, serving a six-week suspension for his unsatisfactory drive on the horse on opening night, was advised he would be required to produce a veterinary certificate before it will be permitted to start again.
Results of Eight Heats
The host club for this series held seven heats over two Saturday nights – four on Night 1, and three the following Saturday. These were won by:
1 – Diamonds N
Furs NZ (Kate Gath), from Changeover NZ and Mister Swinger NZ
Karloo Mick (Greg Bennett), from Our Awesome Armbro NZ and Our Brahman Boy