Dobson's Auckland double with Akuta and Muscle Mountain

By Michael Guerin

Ian Dobson landed a magical group race ownership double at Alexandra Park on Friday night but they came under very different circumstances.

Dobson’s lime green colours were carried to victory by both Akuta in the Taylor Mile and Muscle Mountain in the Lyell Creek Trot but that was about all the wins had in common.

Muscle Mountain looked the winner after just 100m as he strode straight to the lead and dictated the 2200m mobile trot, racing clear in the straight from Majestic Man and a very brave Double Delight.

It was typical Muscle Mountain stuff, trotting his last 800m seemingly effortlessly in 56.7, his last 400m in 27.1 to win by three and a quarter lengths.

Aardiebythehill was close up in fourth and Aussie visitor Aldebaran Zeus made good ground late after being restrained off the gate.

“We were actually worried before the race because he was so relaxed, Ben (driver) had to turn the stick around to wake him up,” said co-trainer Nina Hope.

“But he handled the track really well and we will be back next week for the National Trot and then the Rowe Cup.”

While Muscle Mountain’s early domination paved his way to victory, it was the early attack on Copy That that turned the Taylor Mile upside down and ultimately helped Akuta win.

Copy That and Nicholas Cage went at it for the entire first 400m and while the hot favourite eventually reached the front the damage was done.

Self Assured, who moved out to sit parked at the 1100m, looked the winner at the top of the straight but both Better Eclipse and Akuta were coming hard and it was the four-year-old who got up to defeat a very brave Self Assured in the last stride.

That gave Dobson, no stranger to great horses having owned Christian Cullen and Mainland Banner, another group race double with Muscle Mountain and Akuta, who won even bigger races on the same day at Addington’s Grand Prix meeting in December.

As good as Akuta was Self Assured and Better Eclipse were just as good suggesting there is little between the best of this crop, with three different open class winners in 15 days.

The win was Akuta’s 11th from 22 starts, taking him to just shy of $750,000 in stakes, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon believing he can develop into an even better horse next season.

“He is still only four and in his first real season of open class racing so I think with a good break he can come back even better.”

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