Smolda wins the Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup for Mark Purdon.
Smolda simply sizzled in tonight’s Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, scorching his rivals – including Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark who ran second – in front of a large crowd at Bray Raceway.
The Kiwi pacer from the all-conquering Mark Purdon camp took 1.5seconds off Restrepo’s track record set in 2014, his mile rate of 1:55.3 highlighting his class and sounding out a warning ahead of the TAB.com.au Summer of Glory.
Smolda ($2.40 race favourite) eased three-wide with two laps to go and worked to the chair outside early leader Metro Mike before pushing on and going to the front at the mile.
Then came a shark attack, Lennytheshark’s fin spiking into action heading into the Bray straight to hear the bell, the Inter Dominion winner of a month ago moving up to eyeball the frontrunner.
The two staged an enthralling battle for the remainder of the journey, drawing clear of their rivals off the back.
In the final blast to the post Smolda (by Courage Under Fire out of Under The Mattress) kicked, Lennytheshark dug deep and came again just when you thought the leader had it wrapped up … and Lenny lunged one last time late, but missed, Smolda holding on by a neck.
“He’s been knocking on the door at home and (was) unlucky not to have won one of the bigger races, so tonight he earned his turn,” Purdon proclaimed.
“He’s a great stayer. Lenny was the one to beat tonight but he was in the right place for me to beat him.”
The win capped a big night for Purdon, whose star three-year-old Lazarus (Bettors Delight/Bethany) is a commanding favourite for the VHRSC Victoria Derby Final after dominating his heat tonight.
“He’s a great horse. He’s so versatile, too. Judging by the sectionals you wouldn’t have thought he’d run it the way he felt, that’s how good he is.”
So there’s more in the tank.
Lazarus’s winning mile rate was 1:56.5, sprinting clear of Zee Dana in second with Born To Rocknroll third.
Dont Hold Back (Courage Under Fire/Braeview Express) for trainer Mario Attard and reinsman Greg Sugars won the second heat of the Derby by 1.5m over Brallos Pass with Code Black third in 1:56.7, while West Australian Sprinter (Mach Three/Forgotten Dreams) sprouted wings late to overhaul race favourite Kingofthestars by 2.5m in 1:56.5 for trainer Gary Elson and reinsman Nathan Turvey. Power Of Red ran third.
Meanwhile, champion New Zealand trotter Monbet (Love You/Diedre Darling) announced himself clearly the horse to beat in the Australasian Trotting Championship Final with a track-record breaking run to win his heat tonight by almost 20m.
Driven by Ricky May for trainer Greg Hope, Monbet put his rivals away before the home corner and coasted over the line 19.1m clear of runner-up Super Zeck in a mile rate of 2:00.1, taking nearly 2secs off the previous track record.
“He’s a freakish horse,” said driver Ricky May.
“I’ve always thought he’s pretty special.”
And a word of warning for his rivals in the final: “I would say yes, he’ll improve next week.”
One Over Da Moon (Majestic Son/One Over Kenny) for Alison and Chris Alford won the second heat of the Trotting Championship over Claudys Princess and Unico Pegasus.
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