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A chance training run continued to pay dividends for Mosgiel trainer Craig Buchan when Top Pocket Chance won at Ascot Park yesterday.
The 4yr-old pacer-turned-squaregaiter continued his rapid progression in his new gait when powering to his second consecutive trotting victory for driver Brad Williamson in race 3.
What was to be just another piece of trackwork propelled the then 22-start maiden pacer into trotting’s middle grades.
Buchan set out to give the Washington VC gelding some galloping work during lockdown, but the horse only wanted to be in one gait.
"I don’t use galloping pacemakers or anything like that, but I took him out and tried to give him a gallop.
"All he wanted to do was trot.”
"He is a pretty natural trotter."
Top Pocket Chance produced an excellent first-up run as a trotter when second behind the talented Madrik.
After a third behind Arc De Triomphe the horse’s form dropped away for three starts before he scored a brilliant front-running win at Ascot Park two weeks ago.
"He was starting to feel his feet a bit, I think,” Buchan said.
"But when he won last time Brad said he could win his next start straight away.”
Top Pocket Chance’s pacing career is not necessarily over.
"He could still win a race as a pacer. He could line up straight away if you wanted to,” Buchan said.
All 10 trotting wins of the progeny of Washington VC have been produced by Otago trainers.
Top Pocket Chance accounts for two of them, with the former Phil Williamson-trained gelding, Blazing Under Fire, winning the other eight.
Blazing Under Fire has gone on to win another 12 races in Australia.
There was plenty of fallout from former Otago horseman Rory McIlwrick producing outsider Mr Olympus to win the opening race.
The 4yr-old trotter left punters reeling after he strode to his maiden victory paying $60.30.
His win also left owner, Carol Graham, scrambling to leave the course.
Graham, a nurse, was due to clock in at work as her horse was striding around the home turn.
"Carol was due at work when we were in the back straight, but he was looking pretty good so she stayed and watched him.”
Graham races the trotter with her father, Owen Lawrence, who trains the horse.
McIlwrick now lives in Southland with Graham and with their racing team.
"Getting a win should help pay for my tea,” McIlwrick quipped.
"He is a nice horse. He is pretty untapped and has a lot to learn."
Canterbury reinsman John Morrison sealed his second consecutive victory in the New Zealand junior drivers’ premiership with 34 victories when he drove Miss Impression to win race 7.
Morrison was tied on 33 wins for the season with northern reinsman Dylan Ferguson going into yesterday’s meeting.
Ferguson does not have any drives today, the final day of the season.
Their nearest rivals, Ben Hope (30) and Sheree Tomlinson (29), have three drives each at Addington tonight, making it impossible for them to win the title.
"It is definitely one of the biggest highlights of my career. Winning a premiership is a big thing,” Morrison said.
"I am just lucky with the support I have got with people giving me drives and having their horses ready [to win].”