Day At The Track

Whittaker wins his Star Trek semi-final

03:41 PM 02 Nov 2017 NZDT
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Whittaker NZ, harness racing
Ashlee Grives drove impressive Kiwi Whittaker to his second win in as many weeks.
Anya Whitelaw Photo
Ultimate Fighting Championship star Robert Whittaker is a man who knows how to win and so too it seems is the four-year-old harness racing horse named after him. Ashlee Grives drove impressive Kiwi Whittaker to his second win in as many weeks.

A week after Whittaker won his heat of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s Star Trek series with a flat tyre, he showed his toughness once more in taking out his 1,730 metres semi-final.

The son of Sportswriter trained in Christchurch by Mark Jones had to do plenty of work three wide to get in a position to challenge for the win, but over the last 200m when Whittaker accelerated, no-one could match him.

Whittaker ($2.20) went on to win by 6½m over Amanda Turnbull's talented mare Eliza Dushku ($2.10 favourite) and now shapes as the runner to beat in the November 9 final.

“He’s a very nice horse and the beauty of him is he can do that bit of work and still have that speed at the end,” Ashlee Grives, who has driven Whittaker over the past fortnight, said.

“Hopefully he pulls up okay after this because he’ll take a bit of beating in the final.

“He’s a very nice horse and it’s a pleasure to drive him … it’s a pleasure to drive him in a good series like this.”

Chasing four consecutive wins, Eliza Dushku began quickly from her inside draw and held out Our Chittybangbang from the stable of 2016 Star Trek series victor Chris Frisby.

Grives, who had to contend with a barrier seven draw, guided Whittaker three wide in search of a sit. As the bell sounded he was 3m off the pace, and from that spot he struck down the home straight.

By Anya Whitelaw

Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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