Driver Anthony Butt and Trainer Brent Lilleywith Michael Taranto and Elizabeth Clarke.
KEYSTONE Del smashed the track record with an all-the-way Group 1 victory, holding off a horde of youthful challenges keen to dethrone the trotting king.
While much of the pre-race talk surrounded boom New Zealand horse Monbet, Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe and Speeding Spur, it was Brent Lilley’s eight-year-old gelding that won the Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Trotting Grand Prix.
And not only did Keystone Del reign supreme – and at $9.60 no less – but his 1:56.0 mile rate broke the Tabcorp Park track record for trotters over 2240m, while second-placed Speeding Spur and third-placed Arboe ran the second and third fastest times ever run at the track.
Keystone Del shot to the front from the gates, with Glenferrie Typhon sitting in the box seat and Monbet looming up in the breeze from barrier four.
That was where they settled, delivering a comfortable 46.6 lead time until Speeding Spur loomed up and took the breeze at the bell.
First and second quarters of 30.7 and 28.2 had Speeding Spur keeping the leader honest, and after a third quarter of 27.8 a major threat dropped out of the running when Monbet – a $1.40 favourite – galloped. The same fate ruined Glenferrie Typhoon’s race just when it was set to capitalise on the sprint lane.
Keystone Del and Speeding Spur led a ripping match-race down the straight, with Keystone Del greeting the winning post by a half-neck, while Anton Golino’s fast-finishing four-year-old Arboe took third.
Victorious driver Anthony Butt said it was a “great performance” by Keystone Del.
“He really dug in and the horses couldn’t pass him,” Butt said.
“(Speeding Spur) looked fantastic. (His driver) Josh (Dickie) wouldn’t go away.”
Butt gave much credit to trainer Lilley, who took over the training duties for Keystone Del late last year when he was transferred from Nicole and Dean Molander.
”It’s very challenging taking over a horse like this, but Brent (Lilley) handled the pressure well, just goes about doing his job and has done a great job getting cherry ripe for tonight,” Butt said.