YEAR: 2012



Smolda was magnificent in defeat when second in the Group 1 $150,000 Ricoh New Zealand Derby at Addington last Friday night.

But all was not lost for the multi-armoured All Stars Stable and its tight three, Neil Picher and Phillip and Glenys Kennard. As well as being part-owners of Smolda, they are also partners with Gavin Douglas and Phil and Margaret Creighton in Fly Like An Eagle who won the classic after everthing went right.

It was not as if everything went wrong for Smolda, but he did have a predictably hard slog; up from the back before the last lap, up second outside Scandalman at the 1000m, appearing to struggle at the 400m, up again to head him at the 250m, only to be caught by his stablemate who had just enough gas after a soft run behind Scandalman. It was a run of great fortitude. Mark Purdon gave him credit for it. "The other horse could not have done what Smolda did," he said.

Fly Like An Eagle had a perfect run in the trail behind Scandalman. "When Smolda comes round, I won't be letting him go," said Jimmy Douglass, Scandalman's tiny Australian driver, before the race. Purdon didn't press the point when he came up, although Smolda was keen to get on with it. Closer to home, Scandalman was soon in a bit of bother. "He wasn't as good tonight," said Douglass. He hadn't raced for three weeks and he needs a race at least a week out. We couldn't find one at home and couldn't get over here for the first night. I think he was a run short."

Fly Like An Eagle had been on the ladder of steady improvement, following his Northern Derby fourth with a game lead-up second in th Flying Stakes, only to be collared late by Smolda. This has all come from a late start to the season, forced on him by the operation to remove two bone chips from a knee when he was in Ballarat as a late 2-year-old. "I wasn't really unhappy at the time," said Purdon. "He was needing a break and the three months he had out after that was really to his benefit," he said.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 4 Apr 2012

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