Two Group 1s for Crystal Hackett and "Shardy"

By Michael Guerin

Turns out being the princess in a fairytale is easier the second time around.

That is what Crysyal Hackett reckons and she should know because she stunned the harness racing world, and herself, for the second time in seven days when Mach Shard added the Dawson Harford Messenger to last week’s Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park on Friday.

Hackett and her new favourite horse blew past the glamour four-year-olds Merlin and Don’t Stop Dreaming again only this time they didn’t have to come from last to do it and they had some company.

Mach Shard was joined by another veteran wonder in Self Assured and Better Eclipse as the three of them swooped down the outside to grab Merlin, who had led but was pressured just enough by Don’t Stop Dreaming to leave him vulnerable.

Merlin was brave but heads to the paddock, Don’t Stop Dreaming will hang around for the Auckland Cup in three weeks but this Messenger wasn’t about them.

It was about the nine-year-old marvel of a free-legged pacer who seems to have found a time machine to go back four or five years. Alhough truth be told, Mach Shard wasn’t even racing this well five years ago.

His Group 1 double in a week have been the best runs of his career at a stage when he should have shopping around for a retirement paddock.

Instead now he is the early leader for New Zealand Aged Pacer of the Year. Yep read that again. Mach Shard is the best aged pacer in New Zealand right now.

As weird as that all is imagine being Hackett, the 20-year-old junior driver who won her second Group 1 in a week at all-up odds of 3254-1.

In between times Hackett, who works for Shardy’s trainer Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan, popped over to Australia and casually drove a couple of winners.

“I couldn’t believe now many people over there knew about it,” she says in awe but without an ounce of arrogance.

“Last week when we won the Taylor I was still throwing the reins at him after the line because I was so full of adrenalin.

“But this week it is a bit easier to get my head around, I feel a bit calmer about it even though the whole week has been hard to believe.

“I have had that many messages I have lost count and I am still getting back to some people.

“To look at them all and realise that many people knew about last week was very cool. And now this happens.”

Away from the sheer joy of the Shardy and Crystal show it is hard to know what to make of the Messenger or even the last two weeks of Group 1.

But sometimes it feels like it doesn’t matter. Why ruin a great story with analysis and questions.

Because this fairtytale is the magic the open class pacing scene in New Zealand needed.

And now it has two chapters. And the promise of more to come.

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