Day At The Track

Queen overthrows the King?

07:57 AM 13 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Maori Time and connections after the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint Maori Time winning the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint
Maori Time and connections after the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint
Stuart McCormick Photo
Maori Time winning the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint
Stuart McCormick Photo

Breaking news at Lilley Land, the Queen has overthrown the King. Most harness racing analysts believe the coup will be short-lived, with the King currently recuperating. However, some are boldly suggesting there is a changing of the guard at the top of the Victorian trots.

In the past fortnight reigning Victorian trotting mare of the year Maori Time has claimed back-to-back victories over more highly acclaimed stablemate, and reigning trotting male of the year, Keystone Del. And last night the Brent Lilley-trained mare was completely dominant, while Del only beat one runner home.

Important note, a post-race veterinarian’s examination revealed Keystone Del to be suffering cardiac arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat – and he was stood down by stewards pending a vet’s certificate, ECG and one successful trial.

But no matter how you look at it, Maori Time’s win in last night’s $50,000, Group 1 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint was dominant.

The seven-year-old daughter of stallion Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna burnt the candle at both ends of the 1720m race to record a 1:55.4 mile rate, going coast-to-coast for a 7.5m win over Sydneysider On Thunder Road.

Maori Time’s victory – her second straight success in this race – was even more impressive when you consider what she had to overcome in the run, revealed post-event by winning reinsman Chris Alford.

“We had a bit of drama… she started belting the wheel out of the gate and wanted to bowl along. She was all right to the winning post and then she wanted to get going again,” he said.

Maori Time hummed through the first quarter in 28.6secs, notched a 29.7secs second split, and then went 28.5secs and 29.4secs for the third and fourth stanzas. Her sustained speed was too hot to handle for the opposition.

It is also worth keeping in mind there was a stiff breeze up the straight last night, so conditions weren’t conducive to ultra-quick times.

The win followed a last-start Derby Royale Trotters Free-for-All triumph where she also had Keystone Del’s measure.

“She’s lost none of her zest, that’s for sure,” Alford said, referring to the fact he drove Maori Time four years ago when she was a three-year-old filly.

“She’ll probably be targeting the major races (over summer) and she’s not out of them.”

Keystone Del is an absolute superstar and has earned over $1 million in stakes. So while the Queen is keeping the throne warm for the time being it must be likely the King will be back where he belongs. Then again, father time waits for no man…

Meanwhile, from a squaregaiting viewpoint the upcoming Summer of Glory looks tantalising.

On Victoria Cup night (January 30) we’ll see the $100,000 Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, and one week later on Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup night the $300,000 Group 1 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star over 2760m should prove to be one of the races of the summer after the news during the week that New Zealand superstar Monbet is crossing the ditch in search of more riches.

Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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