Great Southern Stent
- 09 March 2015
By Adam Hamilton
Colin DeFilippi is waiting on a phone call.
And, if it comes, he would happily pack his bags and take Stent across the world to tackle the famed Elitlopp Trot in Stockholm, Sweden.
DeFilippi said Stent’s dominant, almost arrogant win in Saturday night’s Group 1 Great Southern Star simply underlined the gelding was at the absolute height of his powers.
“If you were going to do something like take on the world’s best, now would be the time. He’s never gone better. He’s the complete horse now,” he said.
“I’ve got no idea if an invite will come, but Noel Shinn (Australian trainer) told me I simply had to go if the opportunity arose.”
Stent atoned for a narrow defeat as favourite in last year’s Great Southern Star by dominating from start-to-finish last night.
DeFilippi said the improvement was two-fold.
“He’s matured and is stronger now and I found out more about him after he ran so far below his best in the Dominion (last November),” he said.
“People kept saying he failed that day because he can’t stay, but I simply don’t believe that.
“His run was just too poor to believe, so the vet went right over him and eventually found he was suffering from something you’d compare to asthma.
“He’s now regularly treated for it and it’s helped him back-up in his races so much better. Tonight is an example of that.
“I’m not afraid of running him over any distance now. You’ll see he’ll be just as good in the longer races.”
Stent’s immediate plans are to return home on Wednesday, make his way back to the South Island by Friday and prepare for the $80,000 Group 1 Fred Shaw Memorial Trotting Championship (2600m) at Addington on March 27.
“Then he’ll head back to Auckland for a race or two ahead of the Rowe Cup,” DeFilippi said.
Stent’s Great Southern Star last night started when he sat without cover and easily won the second qualifying heat in a 1min58.2sec mile rate for 1720m.
Just two-and-a-half hours later he worked his way to the lead from the speedy Flying Isa after 400m and never looked in danger.
Stent pulled clear of his rivals to win by 6.3m in a 1min57.1sec mile rate, quicker than both qualifying heats.
It took his record to 57 starts for 26 wins, 20 placings and earnings of almost $940,000.
The race was billed a return bout between Stent and Keystone Del, who upset the Kiwi last year.
But Keystone Del, who has battled some hamstring issues a month or so before the race, was below his best when second after leading in his heat and seventh after sitting parked in the final.
Another Kiwi, Sheemon, came off Keystone Del’s back to easily win the first heat, but luck deserted him when badly held-up and sixth in the final.
“If I’d only seen daylight,” driver Dexter Dunn said. “He felt good in the heat, but he felt ever sharper in the final. We just had nowhere to go after Flying Isa crossed us then handed over to Stent.
“I really think I’d have given Stent a huge run for his money if we’d got a crack at them.”
The other highlight of the race was the return to form of the exciting and lightly-raced Vincennes, who flashed home for fourth in his heat and then ran a slashing second as a $81 outsider in the final.
The five-year-old really seemed to click with visiting Canadian driver Jody Jamieson.
“What a buzz. We just squeaked into the final then to get a big piece of it on such an outsider. I’ll take that for sure,” a thrilled Jamieson said.