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.