The 720m journey at Launceston’s Mowbray circuit hasn’t had much use lately, but with Nationals approaching quickly, Tasmania’s stayers come out in force to tackle the ‘half-mile’ journey with the running of thetote.com.au championship.
Two heats were staged Monday night with the top four making it through to next week. While some of the entrants such as Stylish Moon, Weegie, Sitka and Go Capable Teddy had already proven themselves over the distance, most runners were in uncharted territory.
Sitka was the most impressive of the contenders, after winning the first heat with a dashing lead-all the-way win.
Giving nothing else a chance, Mick Louth’s Collide-Mohar bitch sped clear early and only looked like increasing the margin the further the race went. The margin ended up 11.5 lengths over Proven Rebel who worked home well for second.
Sitka was sent to Western Australia for an extended campaign, where she won several races over the various staying trips before returning home, and early signs suggest the travel hasn’t affected her.
The second heat saw somewhat of a boilover, when raging $1.40 favourite Thirteen Black was upstaged by the widely travelled Monster Prince. Having his first look at the 720m trip, Monster Prince camped on the heels of early leader, Stylish Moon, with Thirteen Black winding up back in the field. But when the leader started to tire, Monster Prince took over and shut the door on the favourite, winning by 3.75 lengths with a big margin to Black Bart in third.
The clocked stopped at 42.89sec for Monster Prince, which was a couple of lengths slower than Sitka’s 42.75sec recorded earlier. Both heat winners look serious threats of taking out the final, with Sitka drawing six and Monster Prince next door in box five.
Thirteen Black has drawn the red alley and deserves another chance. He may start better odds come Monday night, and will take a power of beating with the right run.
Thetote.com.au Championship – 720m Launceston Monday 12th July 2010
1) Thirteen Black Dennis Wood
2) Jordy’s Oceania Morris Strickland
3) Black Bart Allan Anderson
4) Sonic Oceania Morris Strickland
5) Monster Prince John Shanahan
6) Sitka Michael Louth
7) Go Capable Teddy Wayne Williams
8) Proven Rebel Bruce Drake
9) Swami Gary Johnson
10) Weegie Gary Johnson