You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Powerful wins by 3yr-olds Love On The Rocks and As Sweet As Honey at Ascot Park yesterday came at just the right time.
Love On The Rocks confirmed his status as Southland’s late-season star when producing a sweeping finish to win race 10.
For the second consecutive start, the Terror To Love pacer made light work of stepping up from his previous win to race more seasoned opposition.
Having the whole field in front of him at the 800m did not prove much of a hindrance, and co-trainer and driver Kirstin Barclay angled Love On The Rocks to the outside before the turn, where he unleashed a brilliant turn of speed.
The victory gave the pacer Barclay co-trains with Paul ‘‘Tank’’ Ellis a hat-trick of post-lockdown wins.
Yesterday’s win came just days after the Southern Harness Racing organisation announced it would stage its 2 and 3yr-old features which were put on hold during harness racing’s shutdown.
Although their revival has been confirmed, it has not yet been confirmed when the group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes Final, group 2 Southland Oaks and group 3 2yr-old classics will be held.
Love On The Rocks was not the only pacer to look like a serious challenger in those events yesterday.
Canterbury filly As Sweet As Honey took her first step towards qualifying for the Southland Oaks final with her win in race 9.
Driver Blair Orange took no chances with the pacer, getting her away from the inner from her inside draw on the second row shortly after the start.
Orange took the Mitchell Kerr-trained pacer around the field with a lap to go before she ran away from her rivals to score by 2½ lengths.
Fellow Canterbury filly Savvy Bromac also put herself in Southland Oaks contention with her win in race 5.
The victory came after another 3yr-old, Longueval, boosted his Southern Supremacy Stakes hopes with a long-awaited maiden victory in race 6.
Arguably the most impressive victory at Ascot Park yesterday came from a trotter who cannot contest one of Southland’s coming 3yr-old feature races.
However, his performance yesterday and the speed at which he burst away from his opposition suggested he would not disgrace himself if he ever lined up against pacers.
Ultimate Stride produced a faultless and emphatic victory in race 11. Driver Matthew Williamson barely asked the blueblood 3yr-old for an effort as he charged away from his older rivals to win race 11.
Although Ultimate Stride does not have any Southern features on his radar, he has targets further north.
The Phil Williamson trained 3yr-old will be a serious contender in the Sales Series Final on October 9 and Sires Stakes Championship on October 23. Both races will be held at Alexandra Park.