Sundons GIft: one of the greatest trotters of the modern era
The legend and legacy of Australia’s most decorated trotter of the modern era was afforded another chapter at Tabcorp Park tonight when superstar squaregaiter Sundons Gift won his fourth consecutive SEW-Eurodrive Australian Trotting Grand Prix.
Now the owner of almost half the 10 Group 1 Grands Prix to be run, Chris Lang’s irrepressible son of Sundon was forced to find something special for victory in the $125,000 race, but in doing so proved to whoever may still have doubted it that he is one of the all-time greats of the sport.
Surprisingly beaten for speed off the arm by one of the quickest trotters Australia has ever seen in I Didnt Do It, Chris Lang quickly extricated his champion trotter off the inside and into clear running through a lead time of 46.3 seconds.
Happy to sit one by one receiving cover from Ronerail through a 31.1-second first fraction, Lang eventually adopted his favourite position outside the speed with his teak tough trotter after his hand was forced by a daring three-wide move by Kiwi raider I Can Doosit just prior to a brutal 29-second following split.
Exposed in the breeze as I Didnt Do It continued to roll off the back in 29.9, it became evident that Sundons Gift was uncharacteristically vulnerable to a late ambush.
But just as punters and pundits were widening their vision to find those considered most likely in Down Under Muscles and I Can Doosit – who broke passing the winning post with a lap to run – it was ‘The Little Fly’ La Mosca up along the sprint lane who appeared set to stun Tabcorp Park with the biggest upset in the history of the venue.
Struggling to the line in a final fraction of 29.5 to put the finishing touches on a breathtaking 1:59.1 mile rate in less than ideal conditions, the champion prevailed by that stunning signature head from La Mosca with his Aldebaran Park stablemate Kyvalley Mac more than five metres astern in third.
Understandably awestruck and ultimately relieved, Lang was moved to pay tribute to both his own enduring champion and the wonderful state of squaregaiting in this country.
“I never got caught up in all the hype about how easy it was going to be tonight,” he said.
“At the end of the day these horses are the best of the best and no matter who you are, you’ve got to be at the top of your game to win.
“But this horse just keeps backing up week in, week out, year in, year out and to win a fourth Grand Prix is just unbelievable.
“These are wonderful trotters, so to come back and beat the best, including La Mosca - who did a wonderful job tonight - and Down Under Muscles is just fantastic.”
In the euphoria following the race, Lang added weight to the growing theory that Sundons Gift would seek redemption in Sweden next year.
But with Elitlopp riches still so far away, it would be fair to say the fruits of a fourth win in Victoria’s greatest annual race for sqauregaiters was more than worth celebrating tonight.