Lochinvar lashes them
By Adam Hamilton
THAT wasn’t a win, it was a statement.
After months of speculation, debate and discussion about who the best pacer in this part of the world is, Lochinvar Art answered it in 2min35.1sec at Tabcorp Park Melton last night.
On every level, his dominant Victoria Cup win ranked-up with the greatest moments in the history of the race dubbed the “Cox Plate” of harness.
In the words of rival driver Anthony Butt, who partnered runner-up King Of Swing, “he (Lochinvar Art) went past me like he’d just joined in at the top of the straight. It was amazing really.”
That’s despite Lochinvar Art being beaten for early speed from gate four, shuffled back worse than midfield then running his own second split of the last mile in 26.8sec to whiz around the field and sit parked.
The race took a dramatic twist just as Lochinvar Art got outside King Of Swing with a lap to go and Balraj (behind the leader) started to hang badly and lose ground, enabling trainer-driver David Moran to drop into that spot behind the leader.
No doubt it helped, but Moran and Butt both felt it actually didn’t matter in the end.
“The way he flew straight past me, I think he’d still have won sitting parked,” Butt said.
Moran added: “I don’t want it to sound arrogant, but the way he felt tonight, I think he could’ve sat outside Ants (Butt) and still won.”
Lochinvar Art signalled his potential greatness when he upset Self Assured and smashed the Melton 1720m track record with his unthinkable 1min48.6sec mile rate in the Group 1 4YO Bonanza in late January.
He then went to Sydney to win the Chariots Of Fire and run a huge second (after sitting parked outside winner King Of Swing) in the Miracle Mile.
He now owns the 2240m Melton track record as well with last night’s 1min51.4sec slicing 0.1sec off the record Bling It On set last year.
“It’s hard to say he’s better, but he’s probably more experienced,” Moran said. “He’s still really just starting out in the big league when you think about it.
“I’ll say this, I don’t think he’s ever felt better than he did last night.”
Moran looked to the sky as he crossed the line in tribute to the late Gavin Lang.
“Before Gavin (Lang) passed, I went and saw him in hospital and he said “do me one favour, drive that horse yourself,” Moran said.
So where to now for Lochinvar Art?
“It sounds like getting to WA will just be too hard, so it’ll probably be the Breeders Crown free-for-all (November 20) the next big target,” he said.
‘It’s a bit frustrating to have him this well and nothing really big we can go to, possibly until early next year.”
King Of Swing did have to blast a very slick 42.5sec lead time, but was beaten by a better horse on the night. He was still huge to beat the rest by a big space.
Defending champion Bling It On, who has been scoffed-at by some for getting a spot in the field, ran a bottler of a race for third courtesy of a lovely Kate Gath steer to finished third.
Rishi, who caused the big upset winning the Smoken Up Sprint a week earlier, ran another terrific race for fourth.
In the wash-up, stewards reported Balraj, who looked uncomfortable around the track, pulled-up with a case of the thumps.
While Cash N Flow’s 12-race Menangle winning streak came crashing down he worked early, tired for a distant last and pulled-up sore.
Last year’s NZ Cup winner Cruz Bromac actually caught the eye in sixth spot, making ground late out wide with a much-improved performance from his first-up run two weeks earlier.