Champion; Smoken Up claims the Gr.1 Victoria Cup and will now head to Adelaide to defend his SA Cup crown on January 14.
It was a week of fluctuating fortunes for the connections of champion pacer Smoken Up.
Within twenty-four hours, Smoken Up was officially stripped of his Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final victory in Auckland owing to a positive swab but then justified favouritism when leading throughout to secure the Gr.1 $425,000 SEW Eurodrive Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton.
The Lance Justice trained and driven multi-millionaire created a new track record defeating defending champion Mr Feelgood and Kiwi raider Raglan who finished strongly for third.
Smoken Up ended his frustrating run of placings in Victoria's premier mobile event after finishing second in 2007 and 2009 with a typical never-say-die performance.
“It's great to finally win the Victoria Cup, it's a race he thoroughly deserved to have on his CV.” Justice declared.
The 9yo Tinted Cloud gelding was able to drive through from his ace inside draw and repel all early challengers and lead quite comfortably before Mr Feelgood surged forward to sit parked during a 43.5 second lead time.
Smoken Up led the way while Mr Feelgood raced without cover, Washakie raced in the trail while Decorated Jasper and Im Themightyquinn sat in the running line.
The first half was covered in 29.4 and 29.8 seconds.
Emerging Victorian star Bitobliss was the first runner to pull three wide as they entered the home straight with Mach Wiper following him forward.
Justice stepped on the accelerator as they raced down the back straight for the final time but Mr Feelgood refused to be denied and kept challenging the leader.
The third quarter was covered in a brilliant 27.6 seconds.
Smoken Up led narrowly into the home straight, Mr Feelgood knuckled down strongly while Washakie and Raglan waited for clear running.
At the finish, Smoken Up scored by a half neck from a gallant Mr Feelgood while Raglan rattled home once clear to snatch third from Washakie.
Smoken Up clocked his final split in a remarkable 27.5 seconds and established a new track record of 1;53.4, taking almost a full second of the previous mark set by Karlsruhe.
“He was strong in the straight and fought all the way to the line.
“It's sensational that he's able to win this race, I'm very proud of him and he's a champion.”
Remarkably, the victory is a first at Gr.1 level for Smoken Up in his home state but gives Justice his second Victoria Cup triumph after scoring back in 2004 with Sokyola.
Adopted Aussie Franco Jamar produced a stunning performance to finish fifth after galloping in the score-up while the West Australian trained ace Im Themightyquinn failed to beat a runner home.
Smoken Up now sits at the top of the Grand Circuit leaderboard with 19 points, his nearest rival is Mr Feelgood with 7 points.
The next leg of the Australasian Grand Circuit is the Gr.1 $400,000 WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on January 13.