In a race where local victories have been few and far between, Ernie Bung Arrow for Ken Gill has overcome recent history and a more seasoned group of rivals to win the Group 3 S.A Derby at Angle Park last Thursday night.
After a lead-all-the-way heat win over Yogi Blue, Ernie Bung Arrow would start the final as a $3.70 elect, with Tonk ($2.60) from the Charles Mercieca kennel getting the most support from punters with the rails draw expected to be a big advantage.
Kiss Me Ketut ($4.60) would be wearing blue for the Derby final, alongside his nemesis from last week, Hawk Alone ($6.00) who would need luck from five and also drawn poorly was Mark Delbridge’s Allen Makoto ($6.00) in box six.
Troy Murray was represented by Kalden Gambino ($13.00) while Andrea Dailly would be hoping for a boilover with Osbourne Bale ($31.00) drawn off the track. Rounding out the field was surprise finalist Senni Tony who again would start big odds at around $21.00.
With much anticipation, the lure started to run on the main event for Thursday night, and while Ernie Bung Arrow was the first to show, it was his running line that put a quick end to half the challengers in the race. Moving swiftly towards the outside rail, Ernie Bung Arrow immediately checked Senni Tony, who in turn crunched Kiss Me Ketut, Hawk Alone and Allen Makoto. Tonk was the first to benefit from all this activity, obtaining a lovely run along the fence, but despite the collisions, Ernie Bung Arrow would show the way out of the straight with lightning first split of 4.37.
The other local chaser, Kalden Gambino was able to cross most of the field from box seven, and along with Osbourne Bale were poised and ready to strike down the back.
But the pace was too furious up front, with Ernie Bung Arrow being pursued ferociously by Tonk. Those two drew away to have the race amongst themselves with 150 metres to go and the typical Victoria versus South Australia battle was taking shape.
Entering the home straight, Ernie Bung Arrow again ran up the track, leaving the door wide open for Tonk to run over the top if possible. But the damage was being done on the clock, with Ernie Bung Arrow holding the lead and setting a new personal best of 29.55. Tonk was more than game in defeat with Kalden Gambino and Hawk Alone finishing several lengths behind the winner.
Owned by Helen Deacon, this son of Lochinvar Marlow and Slipper’s Tonic has been at the Lewiston property of Ken Gill throughout his short racing career. Bringing up a maiden Group victory, Ernie Bung Arrow has now improved his overall record to 11 wins and a second from 12 starts and adds $25,000 to his purse, plus a $3500 breeders’ bonus heading the way of Barry Jones.
With such an electric display, it looks likely that the S.A racing scene will have one of its own heading towards bigger and better things in the coming months.
Both the S.A Oaks and Derby have traditionally been excellent form races for the Adelaide Cup since it moved to the current October position. Indeed last years’ Derby winner Spud Regis would go on to win the State’s only Group 1 event after surviving the now infamous Dailly car and trailer accident.
With an eye on the 2013 Adelaide Cup, the performances of both Tonk and Hawk Alone over the course of this series have been very impressive, along with some of the chasers returning home after the Oaks final last week. None better than Iona Seven who carved up the Sandown track with a slashing 29.18 win last night for astute trainer Robert Britton, who is no stranger to winning races in the Festival State as well.
Tasmanian Hellyeah Bolt also proved that the wraps on him are warranted after he beat up the Free-For-All field, which included Encosta Kahn and Fire Tyson in 29.76 from box one. Previously with Anthony Bullock, the now Paul Hili-trained sprinter has set some amazing times in his home state in recent months, and with several weeks acclimatising to the Angle Park layout under his belt should be at the peak of his powers once the Group 1 heats get underway on October 3rd.