The death on a Hororata farm last week of Scotch Tar rekindled memories of a trotter ranked with the all-time greats. For the past three years, Scotch Tar has been cared for by Alf Phillips, and he died suddenly , aged 20.
Scotch Tar won 29 races - two Dominion Handicaps, the Dunedin Cup, the Worthy Queen Handicap, two NZ Trotting Free-For-Alls, the Ordeal Cup, a heat of the Inter-Dominions, and two Benson and Hedges Challenge Stakes. He had a versatile career, racing against pacers, setting records, and putting up some huge performances against such stars of the day as No Response, Stormy Morn, About Now, Game Way, Even Speed and Thriller Dee.
He as trained throughout his career by 'Slim' Dykman, now living in Australia, who handled him in 15 of his wins. Robert Cameron drove him in his first 10, and Peter Wolfenden in the others. Cameron was his first trainer, having bought the Tarport Coulter-Scotch Penny colt as a yearling from Sir Roy McKenzie. Scotch Penny is notable for her offspring in the case of Scotch Tar, and also for being the galloping prompter in a time trial by Garcon Roux at Hutt Park but being too slow to keep up.
The best Scotch Tar could do for Cameron in his early training was making a quarter in 36. "I wasn't getting on with him, so I put him in a dispersal sale at Ashburton and Slim bought him for $1000," said Cameron. Dykman gelded him, and the pair soon struck a chord, and Cameron was in the cart when Scotch Tar made a winning debut at Methven in September, 1977. The combination won five races that season, and five the next, including the Dominion Handicap as a 5-year-old from Spartan Prince and Framalda in NZ record time of 4:11.6 for 3200m.
Cameron and Dykman had a parting of the ways at this time, after Dykman questioned the manner in which Cameron had driven the horse. "Scotch Tar was a great competitor, but I have always said that David Moss is a better horse. He is a nice driving horse, settles and doesn't pull. But Scotch Tar was tough, and got better as he went along. In the Dominion, he was on one rein, and was beaten on the corner. But he kept trotting, kept going, and wasn't beaten in the end. And he had remarkable speed. When he raced in the Free-For-All over 2000 metres at the Cup meeting against Hands Down, he led out and went over his first quarter in 27 (26.8 in fact)," he said. In that race, Scotch Tar led for the first 1600 metres, which took him 1:57.4, until he folded over the last 200 metres.
Scotch Tar also won the Dominion Handicap as a 7-year-old from Stormy Morn and Game Way. He won once from nine starts as an 8-year-old, and he defeated Sir Castleton and Dryden Lobell in one of his two wins from seven starts as a 9-year-old.
Scotch Tar's last public appearance was at the Ashburton Trotting Club's centennial meeting in 1990. Kevin McRae prepared him for the meeting and was astonished to find that after just two weeks he covered a half in 1:05. "I'm pretty lucky if a good maiden can run a half on my track in three," he said. Once the centennial was over, Scotch Tar's final resting place was at Hororata, where his company were young horses of similar calling.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 8Dec93
Though he finally finished out of the money, champion trotter Scotch Tar was responsible for the spectacular contest which developed in the NZ Free-For-All.
Producing speed away from the gate which few thought even he could muster, Scotch Tar streaked to the lead to pull the field through the first quarter in 26.8. Maintaining amazing speed, Scotch Tar went through the first 800 metres in 58.6, then maintained the pressure as owner-trainer Slim Dykman attempted to burn off the opposition at the 800 metres. Scotch Tar reached the 1600 metres in an incredible 1:57.4, having left Be Sly struggling in his wake as the one trying to lead the chase after the trotter.
Scotch Tar was under pressure, not surprisingly, as he straightened up for the run home and Lord Module was the first to put his head in front. He took a clear lead, but then came NZ Cup winner Hands Down with a genuine stayer's finish from near the rear on the home turn to wear down Lord Module and go clear over the last 50 metres. Peter Jones said after the event that it was only his staying ability that saw Hands Down get up to beat Lord Module, a fact confirmed by trainer Derek Jones later. "That trotter made it for him. If it had turned into a sprint he wouldn't have had a chance," Derek said.
Lord Module's effort was much more encouraging, considering he had not really had a race for some weeks. He locked sulky stays with Trevira at the 400 metres as they both started to improve after Scotch Tar but driver Jack Smolenski did not think it affected his winning chances. "It was a much better race. He showed he wanted to race today," Smolenski said.
Philippa Frost showed once again just what a game little mare she is by finishing strongly for third after starting from the second line and following Lord Module round when he started to improve. Trevira wilted a shade to fourth after moving up to challenge on the home turn, then came Sun Seeker, Wee Win and Sapling.
Sapling's driver Doug Mangos and Sun Seeker's driver Richard Brosnan were both disappointed after the race. "I thought it was going to be a false start," said Mangos, who had his chances extinguished 200 metres from the start when Wee Win broke and ran out, checking Sapling badly. Sun Seeker was another to suffer and Brosnan, too, was far from satisfied with the start.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar
Slim Dykman is rapidly becoming one of the great characters and favourites of those racing at Addington.
There was a time when any indiscretion in his driving tactics drew the ire of the stipes and the vocal wrath of the crowd. But these days Slim and his amazing little trotter Scotch Tar can do very little wrong. The Addington crowd loves them. Mind you, they have given fans a lot to talk about over the last couple of seasons. But never more so than over the recent Cup carnival.
Slim capped of a mighty couple of weeks with an effortless win in the country's premier trot, the Dominion Handicap, fulfilling a prophecy he made after winning the race two years ago when he told the multitude: "It occurs to me that we should do this again some time." If Slim's comments brought the house down then, his larconic sense of humour came to the fore again the other night to a similar reception. "The first thing that comes to mind," he said after accepting the trophy, "is the Telethon theme song Thank You Very Much For Your Kind Donation." And well the Club might have thought the Dominion was a formality for the brilliant son of Tarport Coulter and Scotch Penny and the $22,750 chegue Slim's for the writing.
In winning on the first day of the carnival he set a New Zealand record of 3:21.1 for 2600 metres; on Show Day he set a blazing pace to burn off some of the best pacers in the country to run the first mile of the New Zealand Free-For-All in an incredible 1:57.4; on the first night he failed by just a tenth of a second on his own to beat Nigel Craig's time trial time of 1:58.8. Slim Dykman was right on the ball when he told the crowd that Scotch Tar had been "racing something furious over the last weeks and we've got very little to show for it. Winning the best paying trotting race has made it all worthwhile," he said.
Called out a wag in the crowd: "The taxmans here Slim," referring to Mr Muldoon who was on hand to see his colt run in the two-year-old event. Called back Slim, as quick as a flash: "He's not getting any of that." Only minutes before another with a sense of humour among the crowd had called out to the P.M.: "You wanna get one like that Rob." Mr Muldoon could only agree.
Scotch Tar won the Dominion in the end by two and a half lengths from an improved Stormy Morn with Game Way and No Response deadheating for third. Scotch Tar began slowly from the ten metre mark but had soon overcome his handicap to sit in the open outside Game Way, content temporarily at least to let Trevor Thomas and Stormy Morn bowl along in the lead. The "champion" had made the front by the 1400 metres and from then on the result was never in doubt. Just as Scotch Tar made the lead, Stormy Morn tried to make it harder for him but there wasn't much use trying to pressure Scotch Tar out of it. Once in the lead he just trotted along comfortably; he might as well have been jogging around the track at home. He wasn't wasting any time over the last bit, however. His last half was cut out in less than a minute. His overall time was 4:16.6, a far cry from his record 4:11.6 of two years ago.
Thomas was well-pleased to get second money. "I tried to make it hard for the winner at one stage but there's no point in being a big man and burning yourself out and getting nothing either," he said. "We really had no show with Scotch Tar; I got a bit closer to him nearer home, but he was just having us on," Thomas said. Game Way ran an honest race for his placing while No Response ran on reasonably well to share third. Northern mare Thriller Dee broke at the start but recovered to get up for fifth ahead of Kate's Return and Hano Direct who moved up with a round to go.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar
Scotch Tar, a rank failure in the Worthy Queen Handicap, earned forgiveness for all his previous sins when he turned in one of the greatest exhibitions of trotting ever seen in a Dominion Handicap.
The five-year-old Tarport Coulter-Scotch Penny gelding claimed three records in beating warm favourite Spartan Prince - the New Zealand 3200 metre record, the Addington track record, and the Dominion Handicap race record. Scotch Tar won in the brilliant time of 4:11.6 - time which would have seen him score a clear cut over the pacers in the NZ Cup.
It was obvious right from the start that Brian Gliddon, driver of Alias Armbro, was not going to stand for any loitering on the journey. Alias Armbro cut out the first 800 metres in 1:04.8, then when Scotch Tar moved up outside him, the pace stepped up again and the half way mark was reached in 2:06.8. The 2000 metres was reached in 2:39.8, then the fireworks really began. Bob Cameron sent Scotch Tar forward to try and wrest the lead from Alias Armbro, and they cut out the next quarter to the 2400 metres in 29.7. Alias Armbro fought off the first challenge by Scotch Tar, but they still reached the 2800 metres in 3:39.5, with that quarter taking 30.4.
Scotch Tar edged past Alias Armbro soon after turning for home, but looked as though he would be under pressure to hold out Spartan Prince, who had enjoyed the run of the race all the way, and had not been involved in the classic battle between Alias Armbro and Scotch Tar. But not even a trotter of Spartan Prince's calibre could do anything but nibble at Scotch Tar's lead in the run home, and the brilliant five-year-old was holding Spartan Prince by three quarters of a length at the finish.
Backmarker Framalda, who was feeling the pinch at the 300 metres and broke briefly, recovered to battle into third but she was four and a half lengths back and two lengths clear of the weakening pacemaker Alias Armbro. Waitaki Gamble led in a well and truly beaten remainder three lengths back, with eight lengths to Isla Voss who started to feel the pressure when the leaders fired in the 29.7 to the 2400 metres.
Scotch Tar's time of 4:11.6 was a full 1.5 seconds inside Easton Light's great record of 4:13.1, set in winning the 1974 Dominion Handicap.
Scotch Tar, owned and trained by Slim Dykman at Chertsey, gave last season's leading sire, the now defunct Scottish Command, a notable double. Scottsh Command is the sire of the NZ Cup-NZ FFA double winner Trust Scot, and also the sire of Scotch Penny, dam of Scotch Tar.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
Bonnie's Chance, who so often had to be content with the runner-up spot in the big ones last season, savoured the sweet taste of victory when she romped away with the NZ Cup at Addington last Tuesday.
While she had proved no match for Armalight last year, this time it was Bonnie's Chance who made it a one horse race to the line. Ironically, in the 1981 contest Bonnie's Chance was favoured but Armalight surprised everyone. Last Tuesday, Armalight was all the rage and a shadow had hung over Bonnie's Chance.
There is little doubt about the class of either mare, but this year the Cup belonged to "Katy". It didn't look that way on paper though. Armalight and Hands Down, the only horses handicapped after previous wins in the event, were disputing favouritism the minute the tote opened. However, it was not their day. Armalight didn't produce the fantastic final 800 metre sprint that thrilled the 1981 crowd and Hands Down was knocked silly by Ben, who broke for no reason with only 1100 metres of the race completed. Peter Jones was noticeably disappointed afterwards.
Armalight made a brilliant beginning at the start and was soon in touch with the leaders, while Hands Down, after bobbling for a few strides, tacked on to the end of the bunch before too long. Bonnie's Chance was the early leader, but down the straight the first time Cyllarus wasn't to be denied and took up the running. As expected, Hilarious Guest was also in search of the lead though and she took over 400 metres later. It was about this stage that Hands Down disappeared out the back, losing any chance. Ben was later disqualified from fourth place for causing the incident, but his driver, Graham Reaks, was found not guilty of any offence as he made every endeavour to avoid the incident.
The running was the same for the remainder of the race. Hilarious Guest from Armalight in the open, Cyllarus and Quiet Win trailing, Glen Moria the rails and Bonnie's Chance the outer, and El Regale and Ben completing the bunch. Champion trotter Scotch Tar got in touch with the field during the middle stages but dropped away again when the pressure went on after missing away at the start.
As the field headed down the back straight, everyone half expected Armalight and Bob Negus to wave goodbye again, but it wasn't to be. In fact, before the home turn, it was obvious Bonnie's Chance was going to have the last say, although the way she asserted her superiority caught many by surprise. Up four wide around Quiet Win on the turn, Bonnie's Chance just careered away. Her winning margin was seven lengths.
"We went a bit sooner than I wanted to go, but it was a case of now or never," Brosnan admitted afterwards. Bonnie's Chance had been flushed out by Ben, but it hardly mattered. Armalight was game in defeat, holding on to beat Quiet Win by a length and a half, while Ben was two lengths away, shading Cyllarus and El Regale.
Bonnie's Chance recorded a respectable 4:09 for thw 3200 metre journey, but the event was never the gruelling two-miler it was expected to be.
Richard Brosnan took over the training of Bonnie's Chance almost exactly two years ago when she was on the verge of cup class. For him, she's lined up 31 times for 15 wins and 11 placings. The $60,000 stake and $1100 cup elevated her earnings to almost $250,000 for owners Bonnie McGarry and Karen Grice.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in the NZ Trotting Calendar
From a $150 riding hack to the greatest stake winning trotter to race down this end of the world...that is Stormy Morn, winner of the Dominion. The $26,000 cheque he took home for owner Peter Moore after New Zealand's top trot took his earnings to over the $140,000 exceeding the winnings of the other leaders, Scotch Tar, Easton Light and No Response. Only Petite Evander has won more than Stormy Morn and she did a lot of her racing in the Northern Hemisphere.
Stormy Morn had demonstrated his toughness earlier in the carnival when he won the NZ Trotting Free-For-All after being wide all the way. On Saturday night trainer-driver Tony Perucich had the Westland King gelding right back in the field to the 2000 metres when he pressed on to tackle and pass pacemaking Game Way, dragging About Now up with him. With 1600 metres to go, he was still in the lead, About Now trailing ahead of Brother James and Regal Flyer on the outer, and Game Way still down there on the rails. Once into the straight, it was all on with challenges coming thick and fast. But hang on in typical fashion Stormy Morn did while Game Way, About Now, McShane and Jenner fought out the minors close up behind him.
The winning margin to Game Way was just half a head with a similar distance back to About Now. It was enough to make Stormy Morn the top stake winning trotter in the country.
Christchurch plumber Peter Moore originally bought Stormy Morn for $150 as a riding hack for his daughter Dianne. The Westland King gelding had been tried as a two-year-old but hadn't shown anything. And when tried again some years later he immediately showed up as a trotter destined for the top with a seemingly never ending string of placings. He fulfilled that promise earlier this year when he took the Australasian Trotting Championship and crowned everything with victory in the Dominion.
The win was also Perucich's biggest and most prestigious win. He'd previously hit the headlines by winning the New Zealand Juvenile Championship and the Welcome Stakes when Trio was a two-year-old. He had that horse down with him for the Cup carnival too, but it raced without much success. Perucich was based in Christchurch but moved north to Pukekohe a little over two years ago. "There was more racing up there, more mobiles and more money," he said. "But I miss Canterbury and would like to come back one day." He put the win down to the seven-year-old's great staying ability. "He's as tough as they come. He trotted around to the lead when the pace slackened off."
The run of Game Way to run second was another top performance. It was only his second run since breaking down in the Dominion last season. He won on the first day of the meeting with a genuine gutsy performance. "We're really lucky to be here," trainer Alec Purdon said. "He's had no work since that win...only some light jogging." Game Way is still plagued with unsoundness but the stallion "won't give up. We'll keep hoping...he'll probably start at Ashburton in the invitation trot there," he said.
Doody Townley was delighted with the run of About Now. "She stuck on well but wasn't good enough to get there. It was a good one." McShane battled on for his placing after being back on the outer to the 600 metres when he moved up to be closer, but wide, with fine northerner Jenner following him all the way.
Credit: Graham Ingram writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
For the standardbred purist there is no more aesthetically pleasing sight than a great trotter in full flight, and no doubt one could come up with 10 great trotting races just as easily as the pacers.
Time and space do not permit us to do the latter exercise this time round, but picking one seems to spring to mind for most everbody old enough to have seen it - No Response's exhilarating 'back from the dead' win in the 1979 Inter-Dominion at Addington.
In fact, that Championship is best remembered for the trotters and No Response in particular, even if the Pacers Series had been severely depleted by the defections of Australian champion Maori's Idol along with Pure Steel, Rip Van Winkle, Koala King and Royal Force. The defending pacing champion Markovina was there, but the loss of Maori's Idol hurt.
The previous year in Melbourne, Maori's Idol had equalled Lucky Creed's 1970 record of 24 consecutive wins in the heats, only to be inexplicably beaten into third in the Final. The 5-year-old entire then won two heats of the Sir Clive Uhr (Queensland) Championship in Brisbane, beating top pacers which included Koala King, Paleface Adios, Master Findlay, Roma Hanover and Sporting Son in the process, and give Rip Van Winkle a real race in the Final. Maori's Idol returned the next season to win four of five starts, including the Dullard Cup at Moonee Valley from 40 metres, but then went amiss and while nominated for Addington, he never made it to the end of the comeback trail.
Outside of the unbeaten run through the heats by the fine stayer Wee Win and a few sideshows from Lord Module, the Pacing Championship was actually all rather anti-climatic in the end, but there was enough class and depth to the trotters to make for some compelling racing. Even if in this pre-Internet and Trackside day, hardly anyone had ever heard of the Australian visitors Alby Logan, Hec's Hope, Hilton Adios, Mighty Miller and Silken, the latter a fine type of 11-year-old mare for Victorian horseman Kevin Murray. Only Hec's Hope and Mighty Miller would not make worthwhile contributions at some point during the Series, with Alby Logan and Silken making the Final and Hilton Adios winning the Consolation on the third night.
Even Speed and Spartan Prince were rising 5-year-old open class stars on the scene in 1979, and others of the same age who would prove more than capable on their day included First Prize, Miss Castleton and Pointer Hanover. About Now and Hano Direct were classy 4-year-old mares at the time, while Ilsa Voss and Our One were older mares who were also top class at times. Waipounamu was a 10-year-old and far from finished - in fact he was just getting warm - while Diogenes, Relinquish and Yankee Talent wer others commanding respect into the Championship.
But this was the time of a 7-year-old No Response and Scotch Tar, Slim Dykman's 5-year-old pacing-bred freak who trotted faster than the great majority of pacers. One just had to catch him in the right frame of mind, which was not always often. After winning five of eight races the previous season, Scotch Tar had gone through to open class in his 12th start with a double in Auckland in the spring, and then in his first race against the best around, had split No Response and favourite Framalda - the 1977 Rowe Cup winner who was unbeaten in four races at Alexandra Park that season for Roy & Barry Purdon - in the Challenge Stakes.
Come the Worthy Queen Handicap on NZ Cup Day, and No Response was a late scratching after becoming distressed after doing his preliminary, and Scotch Tar was a costly failure after doing a stretch. Winning that race was favourite Spartan Prince, the Doody Townley-trained and driven Tuft gelding who had been the top youngster of his year, and he would now go into the Dominion unbeaten in three races that season. Spartan Prince had been unbeaten in three starts at the Cup Meeting the previous year, but that season his career would be derailed by unsoundness and strangely enough, an ownership dispute.
The Dominion had merely served to underline the awesome potential of Scotch Tar however. In what was considered "one of the greatest exhibitions of trotting ever seen," not to mention a fine display of horsemanship by Bob Cameron to hold him together near the end as Spartan Prince made his challenge, Scotch Tar triumphed in race, track and New Zealand record time of 4:11.6, which bettered Easton Light's "great" record of 4:13.1 from the 1974 Dominion, and which would have won that week's NZ Cup by six or seven lengths. Scotch Tar had applied the blowtorch to Alias Armbro, Brian Gliddon's Banks Peninsula Cup winner that year who would win the Dominion the next season, from as far as two laps out and gone past him on straightening, and Spartan Prince could make no impression despite enjoying the run of the race.
By the Thorpe Hanover horse Tarport Coulter and from a mare by Scottish Command, who had sired the two previous NZ Cup winners in Trusty Scot and Sole Command, Scotch Tar had won that battle in No Response's absence. No Response, troubled on and off throughout his career by arthritis and various other ailments after making his debut as a 6-year-old, was back on song for three feature race wins in Auckland over Christmas as Scotch Tar went off the rails on that trip, and headed into the Inter-Dominions with six straight wins and eight wins from 10 starts for the term. Scotch Tar got back on track by winning a class two trot at Washdyke from 90 metres in late February, and the stage was set at Addington.
On the first night, Scotch Tar lost no friends apart from the punters who made him odds-on when he recovered for a close fifth after losing 100 metres at the start and racing three and four-wide from the 1000m in Hano Direct's heat win over Diogenes, Waipounamu and Silken, but No Response confirmed his Inter-Dom favouritism with a classy win over Even Speed, Our One and Hilton Adios in the second heat. He was even more impressive in putting away Silken and Alby Logan by four lengths from 15 metres over 3200m on the second, and Scotch Tar was at his brilliant best as well later in the night. Peter Wolfenden had been engaged for Scotch Tar for the Series, and after missing away from 15 metres, they looped the field to sit outside Hilton Adios and won easily by a couple of lengths over Hano Direct and Waipounamu.
With over 13,000 in attendance despite the hefty gate charges and many more watching live on television, the Inter-Dominion Final was like one sensation after another. Scotch Tar blew the start again and lost too much ground to make up, and as the race unfolded No Response seemed to become less and less of a chance back in the running. Alby Logan, a 9-year-old and the only "city class" trotter in NSW, had led them along at a merry clip from the start for Grahame Kirkwood, whose wife and owner/trainer Noleen was out to become the first woman to officially prepare an Inter-Dominion champion - 22 years before Lorraine Nolan succeeded.
Turning for home and No Response showing $1.60 to win, was in the immortal words of an Aussie reporter in the Press Box - "a hundred-to-one chance to win." And yet No Response unwound so quickly, dramatically and powerfully, while changing ground for the gaps three times in that scintillating run home, that in the end he won easily going away by over two lengths from Alby Logan, with Silken, Pointer Hanover and rank outsider Josephus almost in line for third another length and a half away. "If I went around them on the bend, I was going to hit the tree at the top of the straight, so I just had to wait and hope the gaps came," said his unflappable trainer/driver Richard Brosnan later.
If that had been a superlative individual performance and left any observer stunned, No Response and Scotch Tar would provide the match race that everyone had gone to see a week earlier, in the NZ Trotting Championship on the day of the Inter-Dominion Pacing Grand Final. In an all too rare race from a mobile for Scotch Tar, and in a 2600m event which underlined just how much better they were than any other top trotters around at the time, Scotch Tar and Wolfenden were around the field to take over a lap out, stalked all the way by No Response. When they drew clear passing the 400m, Brosnan was able to drop onto Scotch Tar's back momentarily, before coming out again in the straight and drawing level at the 100m. Neither flinched or gave an inch, but No Response gradually got a neck advantage close to the line, and the time of 3:21.9 broke another of Easton Light's long-standing NZ records. Miss Castleton was the best of the rest, 10 lengths away.
For No Response it was his 10th win on end and 12th for the season, and while he had bowed out for the season before Even Speed's Rowe Cup after also missing the Dominion, he was pretty much a unanimous choice for Horse of the Year and the first trotter to achieve that honour. He was a popular choice as well.
No Response was the first real step into the big time for his then 30-year-old unassuming and 'nerves of steel' trainer/driver Brosnan, while he was raced by 69-year-old Fred Black, a retired farmer at Pleasant Point who had bred him after being gifted his non-descipt grandam First Axworth at the age of 18. Black had been given the choice of two mares a quarter of a century earlier by small time Palmerston North trainer Dave Hansen, in return for Black's help around the stables over many years during his time as a meat inspector at Feilding.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 9Aug06
Alias Armbro, fourth in last year's contest and largely responsible for the record-breaking win of Scotch Tar, recorded a game win in the $30,000 Dominion Handicap. Capably handled by Mike De Filippi, who was recording his first win in the event, and also his first win at Addington this season, Alias Armbro clearly outstayed the best trotters in the country.
Alias Armbo's win was a triumph for Burnham trainer Brian Gliddon, as last Christmas Alias Armbro looked to be finished as a racing proposition because of a hock injury. Because of this, he was set for stud duty this season and up until last week, he had covered 20 mares, including one the morning of the race. His victory is certain to lead to more enquiries for the son of Armbro Del and Charming Widow as a stud prospect. He is raced by Messrs Bryan Crofts and Graham Pilkington, who purchased him for the bargain price of $1800 at the National Yearling Sales. Now an eight-year-old, he has won around $55,000.
Mike De Filippi made use of Alias Armbro's speed and staying ability over the 3200 metre journey, taking him to the front with 2300 metres to run. As happened last year, Scotch Tar moved up wide to tackle Alias Armbro with a round to go, but this time was unable to head him off, and Alias Armbro had his measure a good way out. Scotch Tar had broken briefly at the start and again at the 1700 metres, but recovered quickly both times and made a big run round the field to be in the open at the 1200 metres.
In the end, it was left to last Tuesday's Worthy Queen Handicap winner Even Speed to lodge the most serious challenge. He was favoured with a good run all the way, getting a drag up behind Miss Castleton on the turn, and 30 metres out it looked as though he was going to peg Alias Armbro back. "He came to the end of it the last 20 metres and went to pieces," his driver Wes Butt said after the event. "His legs were going in all directions that last bit and he just battled."
Denis Nyhan, driver of third placed About Now, was certain he could have won had he secured a run earlier. "She did not get a gap at the right time. If she had, then I would have won it," Nyhan said. The game little mare improved to be three back on the rails turning for home after getting back a bit early from her outside barrier draw, but was held up at a vital stage and could only get within half a neck and a length and a half of the first two. She shaded Scotch Tar by half a head for third, with Stormy Morn finishing fast for fifth ahead of Waipounamu who was handy throughout.
Game Folly was the best of the northern challengers in seventh place after breaking at the start and then came Cool Cat and the favourite, No Response. No Response settled back and was last passing the 800 metres. He was checked when starting to improve at the 500 metres when he ran into the back of the tiring Pointer Hanover. He recovered quickly to start a rapid improvement wide round the field on the turn, but could only battle into ninth over the final stages.
Alias Armbro's time for the 3200 metres was a fast4:12.3, the second fastest in the metric history of the race and only .9 of a second slower than Scotch Tar's record run last year.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar