Photo: Superstar Smoken Up
15 January 2011 - In humbling one of the finest $50,000 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup fields of all time on Saturday night, iconic Victorian pacer Smoken Up took another giant step toward greatness.
Just seven days after producing arguably the most extraordinary run of his career to win the South Australian Cup for the second time, Lance Justice’s teak tough son of Tinted Cloud once again displayed his brutal combination of speed and strength, continuing what is fast becoming the defining season of his career.The richly sought after 2650-metre feature was his to lose just 100 metres out of the barrier. After gliding across stablemate Hollywood Bromac from gate two to find his favourite position in front, the champion eight-year-old and $1.30 favourite merely ambled through the first lap, recording a very comfortable lead time of 76.4. Almost waiting for his nemesis Melpark Major to work up outside the speed as an indication the race was actually on, the reigning Miracle Mile titleholder only began changing gears once he saw his old foe striding alongside him with a mile to run. But as Justice began to up the ante through a 59.8-second first half, the effort of circumnavigating the field after a difficult start was already beginning to show on Amy Tubbs’ former Victorian Horse of the Year, and there were no other challengers in sight. Clicked into overdrive spearing off the back straight the final time, Smoken Up took full advantage of the lightning quick Lords Raceway circuit – which had already seen Tony Peacock-trained former Kiwi Ransom Olds break it’s mile benchmark in 1:54.9 earlier in the night – to drop his rivals cold. Recording a breathtaking third quarter of 27.8, the pride of Melton only increased the tempo on entering the lane and despite the courageous effort of Karlsruhe, searing home off three wide cover to try and make the race a contest late, the 2011 Bendigo Cup was already over.Finishing in a 27-second final fraction to miss Safari’s three year old track record by just three-tenths of a second in 1:56 even, Justice’s cult pacer triumphed by 6.7 metres from Karlsruhe, with the luckless Standelle only seeing daylight late to run third a further 3.9 metres astern. Earlier in the night, rejuvenated squaregaiter Ronerail continued his resurgence under Great Western mentor Peter Manning to obliterate Bendigo’s 1609-metre track record by more than two seconds in the $20,000 Group 3 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile. Driven with supreme confidence by Peter’s other record breaker – daughter Kerryn – the talented eight-year-old trotter only escaped a pocket in running on entering the lane, but sprinted brilliantly late to win in 1:56.6 over Go Ahead Makemyday and Kyvalley Mac. Ronerail’s renaissance in the twilight of his career certainly adds another dimension to the upcoming SKY Racing Nights Of Glory, with the Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship scheduled to run on the final night of the carnival; February 5.To be run at Tabcorp Park, Melton for the first time ever, the highlight of that program will be the $425,000 BIG6 Hunter Cup, where Smoken Up will aim to continue his streak of excellence and perhaps solidify his reputation as one of Australia’s greatest stayers.
10 January 2011
Miracle Mile champion Smoken Up, Australia’s fastest pacer heads the nominations for the $50,000 Group 2 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup on Saturday. Last Saturday night the Lance Justice trained Grand Circuit champion cemented his place as one of South Australia's greatest Pacing Cup winners of all time, with his second victory in the Group 1 event at Globe Derby. Smoken Up added the 2011 edition to his 2008 victory on Justice's old home track. An equine millionaire and winner of the 2010 Miracle Mile in an Australasian record 1:50.3, Smoken Up is a harness racing legend. His Globe Derby performance was stunning. He started as a pronounced favourite despite a second-row draw and proved far too strong for Victorian Standelle and adopted local Ohoka Nevada in the 2645 metre event. Smoken Up has now claimed three Barastoc Grand Circuit features with two of those victories coming this season. Justice, a SA export to Victoria, was over the moon with the SA Cup win by the horse he calls ‘Trigger’. “This is just as good as winning the Miracle Mile, I love coming back home to Adelaide and Trigger was just unbelievable,” he said. As a result of the SA success, Smoken Up has now shot to the top of the Barastoc Grand Circuit leader board with 13 points. Smoken Up is now 3 points clear of Mr Feelgood and Monkey King who both have 10 points. Bendigo Harness Racing Club General Manager, David Aldred said the Cup nominations have come up to expectation. “The nominations are as good as anyone could expect for a major Country Cup, we have a list of Grand Circuit horses and the likes of Smoken Up, Melpark Major, Make Mine Cullen etc make the heart sing,” Aldred said. “We are looking for a quality final field to be announced tomorrow.” The Bendigo Harness Racing Club received 17 nominations for the Cup with Champion Strathfieldsaye trained mare Make Mine Cullen, the winner of the 4yo mares Breeders Crown Final last August and the Kilmore Cup earlier this season, New South Wales trained hotshot Holy Camp Boy, the brilliant Victorian Melpark Major, Standelle, Mister Swinger, Glenferrie Alexis, Cincinatti Kid and Decorated Jasper adding plenty of class to the line up. The other feature race on Saturday night, the Group 3 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile has also attracted a sensational list of trotters. Chris Lang’s 2010 4yo Breeders Crown Trotting Champion Let Me Thru, Saturday night’s SA Trotting Cup winner and runner-up Ronerail and Danny Cash, 2008 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship runner up Will Trapper, La Mosca, Armed Guard and defending inaugural champion Acacia Ridge are among the Maori Mile nominations. Champion three-year-olds Royal Verdict and Devilish Smile, both Victoria Derby aspirants have also nominated for the 3yo Pacers event
6 January 2011
Bendigo Harness Racing Club will create history this month, hosting the Finals of the time honoured $30,000 Warehouse Sales Central Victorian Pacing Championship and the $25,000 Trotting Championship for the first time at Lords Raceway. The second heats of the Championships, conducted by the Boort Harness Racing Club, will be raced at the Bendigo track on Monday afternoon with the starters attempting to qualify for the all important finals, under lights at Bendigo on 27 January. Recent Bendigo winner It And A Bit trained by Paul Campbell at Maiden Gully and driven by Strathfieldsaye ace reinsman Daryl Douglas will shoot for back to back victories in Monday’s Boort Pacing Championship heat over 2150 metres. The five-year-old son of Astreos will start from the outside of the front row after his bad manners at Bendigo on 29 December placed him out of the draw. In that race he travelled in the running line and was caught three wide at various stages before striding clear to win by almost seven metres, pacing a sub-2:00 mile. The Scott Stewart trained and reins Bitobliss in the form horse in the Pacing Championship heat with six wins from his last seven starts. This season he has gone unbeaten at two starts and has posted his last three wins in succession at Melton. Boitobliss last won over 1720 metres on 18 December. A son of Blissfull Hall, Bitobliss is a rising star in the restricted ranks with a total of seven lifetime wins from just 10 career starts. Stewart will steer Bitobliss from a 10 metre handicap in this race. Bitobliss is yet to race from a standing start with all of his victories in mobile start events. Left In Paris (Nathan Jack) is also building a picket fence of victories with three wins from her last three starts. The Life Sign four-year-old mare has won each month for the past three months, her most recent win at Echuca on New Year’s Day. Left In Paris is also a maiden from a standing start. The 30 metre backmakers in the 2650 metre heat of the Trotting Championship, Eisenhower (Peter Lane), Aldebaran Maori (Chris Lang) and Wont Be The Same (Nathan Jack) hold the key to the race. Aldebaran Maori has been in winning form winning two of his last four starts. Wont Be The Same resumed from a lengthy spell with a third placing behind Im Victor Trumper at Cobram on December 29. Kilmore-trained Einsenhower last won in October beating Jacob Oram and he has recent Cranbourne and Yarra Valley placings to his credit. - David Aldred
1 January 2011
With the Inter Dominion scratched off Melpark Major's to do list in the New Year, Bacchus Marsh trainer Alan Tubbs will concentrate on winning as many big 'local" majors as he can. First big assignment for 2011 is the $50,000 Group 2 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup. Tubbs indicated at the Victoria Cup that Melpark Major's travelling days were over and he confirmed this week that the New Year plans are to remain close to home. "We will make the right decisions now and stay around home," Tubbs said. "We won't travel and the Inter Dominion in Christchurch and the SA Pacing Cup in Adelaide are off his list."
Instead Melpark Major will add plenty of class to the Victorian races at home base, Tabcorp Park Melton and the Country Cups. Melpark Major finished second to Mister Swinger (Geoff Webster) on New Years Eve in the last race for 2010 at Melton. He will contest another Free For All at Tabcorp Park this week before lining up in the PETstock Group 2 Bendigo Pacing Cup on 15 January at Lord's Raceway. - David Aldred