Suddenly there’s a new leader in the race to be crowned the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master.
Entering the third leg of the 2016/17 series, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, the title was still very much up for grabs.
Co-leaders Monbet and Glenferrie Typhoon both didn’t start while Speeding Spur, the pre-race favourite was a raceday scratching.
Tough New South Wales trotter On Thunder Road took the opportunity to step up and lay claim to being the best trotter for the season with a solid victory in the Melbourne feature at TABCORP Park, Melton defeating Clover Mac and Daryl Boko in the 2240m mobile start feature.
Trained and driven by Darren Hancock, On Thunder Road proved too strong for his rivals after leading throughout.
Former Kiwi Clover Mac led initially from his inside gate while Sunny Ruby challenged briefly before On Thunder Road worked around them three-wide before pressing to the front just prior to the mile marker.
The lead time was covered in 47 seconds.
On Thunder Road received little peace during the first half of the final mile with Prince Fearless racing without cover while El Paco raced three-wide solo.
The first half was covered in 30.4 and 28.9 seconds.
Entering the back straight, On Thunder Road traveled strongly from Prince Fearless while both Clover Mac, Sunny Ruby and Daryl Boko all enjoyed good trips just off the speed.
Hancock allowed On Thunder Road to keep forcing the pressure and kicked away passing the 400m marker.
The third quarter was covered in 29 seconds.
Upon straightening, On Thunder Road held a clear advantage from Clover Mac while Sunny Ruby, Daryl Boko, Glenferrie Burn and Vincennes tried to get into the fight.
At the finish, On Thunder Road scored comfortably by 2.5 metres from Clover Mac while Daryl Boko finished well for third a further 5.75 metres away.
The final quarter was covered in 28.5 seconds.
The overall time was 2:43.8 with a milerate of 1:57.7 – well outside of the time Keystone Del sat last year when successful in 1:56.0.
“He’s lovely horse and he’s bounced back to his best, he felt really sharp and a lot like his old self tonight.” Hancock said.
Unplaced at his most recent start in the Great Southern Star, On Thunder Road sat towards the bottom of the leaderboard with a solitary point but with his victory tonight (Saturday), he has leaped his rivals to lead the Trotting Masters by a single point with two legs remaining.
Both remaining legs are being staged in Auckland at Alexandra Park next month.
The Gr.1 $80,000 ANZAC Cup on April 21 is the next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters.