Another leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, another different winner.
That’s the reality of the season following the winning effort of Big Jack Hammer in the Gr.1 $100,000 Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton tonight (Saturday).
The race to be crowned the Trotting Master this season is very much up for grabs.
And now Big Jack Hammer is in the conversation.
Entering the Grand Prix, the David Aiken prepared six-year-old had won his two previous starts, both Group One events (Dullard Cup & Menangle Mile) but was given little respect from punters.
The 2240m mobile start feature boasted outstanding depth with Tornado Valley, a winner of his previous nine starts installed as favourite despite his second-line draw.
As the field neared release point, in-form mare Dance Craze made a break and lost valuable ground while Savannah Jay Jay, Kheiron and Tough Monarch all vied for early supremacy.
Tough Monarch won the early battle and posted a solid lead time of 44.6 seconds.
The tempo remained constant with Tough Monarch leading the way from McLovin who sat without cover, the first quarter was covered in 30.3 seconds and no moves were made.
Passing the 1200m marker, race favourite Tornado Valley eased three-wide and raced around the field to sit outside of Tough Monarch as the field worked past the 800m point.
The second quarter was timed in 30.4 seconds.
Entering the back straight, Tough Monarch led from Tornado Valley while Blazing Under Fire dropped into the one out/one back position as McLovin gave ground quickly which left Deltasun moving up three-wide while Dance Craze and Big Jack Hammer joined the cover flow.
The third quarter was covered in 29.2 seconds.
Approaching the home turn, Tough Monarch kicked away and Tornado Valley was left floundering while Dance Craze and Big Jack Hammer both loomed deeper off the track.
In the straight, Dance Craze quickly overhauled Tough Monarch but couldn’t withstand the finishing burst from Big Jack Hammer who came with a well-timed run from driver Josh Aiken.
At the line, Big Jack Hammer ($25.60) scored by 1.9m from a gallant Dance Craze ($2.90) with a further 4m back to Tough Monarch ($18.30) in third place.
Tornado Valley ($2.10 fav) finished 9th.
The final quarter was posted in 29.9 seconds while the mile rate was 1:58.1 – well outside of the race record of 1:56.0 set by 2016 winner Keystone Del.
Amazingly, Big Jack Hammer has strung together three consecutive Gr.1 victories while having a different driver each time.
Aiken joins Anthony Butt and Kima Frenning as a winning driver behind the Domenic Martello owned gelding.
“It’s fantastic; to land another big race for Dad (David Aiken) is special and I’m just filling in but the horse felt great and continued with his excellent form.” Winning driver Josh Aiken said.
The victory is his 9th Gr.1 triumph and 7th behind a trotter.
Big Jack Hammer joins Marcoola (Dominion), Tornado Valley (Great Southern Star) and Dance Craze (Great Southern Star) as winners of Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters events this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month.
With her stunning second placed effort, Dance Craze now takes the outright lead with 160 points while Marcoola, Tornado Valley, Sky Petite and Big Jack Hammer all sit within striking distance.
The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 26 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events will be held at Alexandra Park.