Every so often as a writer, a dog will do a very good job of making you look like a fool.
Last week on this site, I reported that Kalden Mayhem was ‘out of contention' for the S.A leg of the National Distance Championship after running worse than midfield in its heat the Thursday previous. As it turned out, that was partially correct. Kalden Mayhem did indeed finish in the second half, running fifth, and theoretically was to miss out on the final. However, in a twist of fate, Petar Jovanovic's Max A Zillion was unfortunately scratched from Thursday night's race, and Kalden Mayhem who was listed as first reserve, happened to take its place.
Even more remarkable for proud owner-trainer Troy Murray, and somewhat embarrassingly for me, the four-and-a-half year old son of Big Daddy Cool put in an amazing last to first victory to book his flight to Melbourne as the South Australian representative.
Starting as $2.10 favourite in the sixth race of the night, this evergreen veteran of a whopping 118 starts was the last to leave the boxes in what was an inexperienced staying field. On the contrary, Cousin Callum ($5.50) was first to show as it burnt out to a comfortable break, with Shaun Matcott's Allen Bardolf ($5.00) in pursuit. Another of the surprise heat winners, Prince Holyfield ($7.50) was positioned well in third upon settling, with the remaining runners jostling for position.
Approaching the top turn, Cousin Callum started to wilt, and Allen Bardolf was ready to pounce. However, the green and white striped runner was putting in giant bounds nearby, and as they turned for home, Kalden Mayhem got the gun run and suddenly had a clear track ahead. Charging past Allen Bardolf in the final few strides, Kalden Mayhem stamped his authority and stopped the clock at 43.58 with just under two lengths to spare. The two Shaun Laffin runners Uno Lesson ($10.00) and Prince Holyfield were next across the line, with the former putting in a big run coming from the tail of the field. Cousin Callum was noticeable in failing to run out the 731 metres for a second week in a row, failing to beat a runner home.
Kalden Mayhem gets the chance to represent his state for the second time, with a repeat of his 2011 efforts.
Two races after the entertaining staying final, it was the sprinters turn in race eight. The stellar field included the highly credentialed Kalden Kurageous ($6.00), Young Snozz ($5.00), Kalden Mischief ($6.00) and the speedy Avid Tyson ($9.00). Ali The Great ($5.00) was also given some attention by punters after setting the quickest heat time of 29.92.
However, Hope's Up was the popular pick at odds of $3.00 and was regarding by many as the toughest to beat.
Hope's Up has always raced at her best when beginning swiftly, and she's exploded out of the six box on this occasion. Setting a first split of 4.37 her lead became sizeable as they made the first turn and it was always going to be hard to run her down from there. Ali The Great was able to get step lively again and was the closest challenger for nearly all the race, while Kalden Kurageous sat third for the duration.
The winning time for the sprint final was a slick 29.77 for the 515 metres, with three and a half lengths the official margin.
Hope's Up has done a great job for trainer Cam Butcher, stepping up from age-restricted races earlier in its career, to the bustle of free-for-all racing in more recent times. Now knotching up 39 career victories, the trip across the border to The Meadows in two weeks is thoroughly deserved for a dog that has been in the prizemoney for 84% of her 71 career starts.
With upsets occurring in other states, in is pleasing for locals that two of the state's best competitors will be representing the Croweaters on the National stage, looking to end a drought of seven years since Bothing stood on top of the distance podium at Launceston in 2006.