Tiger starting to warm up

By Matt Markham

Geoff Dunn knows Tiger Tara so well that he could tell from the grandstand on Sunday the Cheviot meeting that his open-class pacing star still isn’t hitting his straps like he can.

That’s despite the rugged little pacer overcoming a seemingly difficult position at the 400 metre mark in the Cheviot Cup to win in impressive fashion – knocking off in his customary manner inside the final 800 metres.

But while the euphoria of another victory was sweet, Dunn was still looking on with a furrowed brow.

And he knows he’s got some work to do.

“We are getting there, but I don’t think we are there yet,’’ he said.

“He’s still not 100 per cent, but his class go him through there.

“I just wonder whether it might be my fault this week. We missed a trial on Monday so I upped his work a bit.

“We don’t usually do that with him, he doesn’t take a lot of work, but I’m just wondering if it might be behind him being a wee bit flat out there today.’’

Flat or not flat, Tiger Tara still looked impressive winning the 2600 metre stand – running down Quick As A Trick who held a decent lead upon straightening up for the run to the judge.

He stopped the clock in a corrected time of 3.13.3.

Dunn said the victory held special meaning for the horse’s connections, especially Bob Sandford.

Bob’s late brother, Brian, was a former president of the Cheviot Harness Racing Club.

Dunn said the immediate plan was to keep Tiger Tara ticking over during the next few weeks before aiming their attention towards the New Zealand Messenger and Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park later in the season.

Sunday’s second feature, the Leonard Memorial, was a continuation of the dominance of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in the juvenile ranks this season.

New Zealand’s leading stable produced the quinella in the Group Three feature with Mach Three filly, Northern Velocity a comprehensive winner – beating stablemate Sophisticated Lady.

Northern Velocity, a half-sister to Pembrook Benny, was driven confidently by junior horseman Matt Anderson who found the lead with the imposing filly before dashing away to win by two and three quarter lengths.

Southland trotter, Alley Way made sure he headed back down South this week with a Canterbury win next to his name after he wore down a brave Clover Don in the feature trotting event.

The Neville Skinner trained trotter has been domiciled at the stable of Colin and Julie DeFilippi but has returned back to Southland for a brief let up.

Using his high speed, Alley Way settled off the pace before booming home late to snare the victory.

Ken Barron was in grand form at Sunday’s meeting winning the last two races.

He kicked things off with a stable quinella from Mighty Major and Bettor Scoot before McArdle’s Star emphatically won the last race of the day.

Barron did the driving on Mighty Major while Blair Orange was aboard McArdle’s Star.

He was one of three winning drives for Orange who also registered success with debutant Chevron’s Champion and Goodness Gracious Me.