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Dr Hook was the winner, leading throughout for Jimmy Curtin, Springbank Richard was the best of seconds, and Beat The Monarch was a chirpy third at long odds after trailing.

Raydon, I Can Doosit and the Swedish mare Annicka all ran well enough to expect at least more of the same this week, but not everyone was happy. Chris Lang was back at the drawing board after Sundon's Gift ran well below his best, even taking a tough trip into account. "No matter how you look at it, that was a bad run," he said. Sundon's Gift was parked, and started losing ground before the turn. Lang said the horse should have stayed on better than he did, in spite of the run he had.

Further up, there were good reports, especially from Mark Purdon and Anthony Butt. "I'm very happy with him," said Purdon, of I Can Doosit, who added that Auckland Reactor had resumed work with the intention of racing again soon. "He did a bit of work early, and had the run he needed."

Butt was just as upbeat with Annicka, and expects her to be a formidable threat this week, when trainer Jorgen Westholm will take over. "She got held up on the corner behind Sundon's Gift and wanted to hang a bit when we came out. She found the line well, and she went to the end of the back straight before I could pull her up."

Phil Williamson was a man on more of a mission with Springbank Richard, whose form had been patchy at best and a worry at worst. The race would give him a bead on just wherehis form sat - and it did. From three-deep, Springbank Richard flashed into second, which carried the message Williamson was after. "It was just the run we wanted. He's a very nice horse when he's on his game. If he's as good late on as he was tonight, he's got a real chance in the Final," he said.

Paul Nairn had Dr Hook in grand shape and still expects him to get better. "He has only raced once since the Cup Meeting, and he's always happier racing right-handed," he said. Asked whether three races in a fortnight might be a hurdle for the 5-year-old, Nairn said: "I'm sure he's done it before ... on the Coast, three races in five days. I know he will be a stronger horse in a year or two, but he's fit and there's no point in being here if your not. As far as being good enough, he'll answer that question."

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 30Mar11

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