AS Redbelly Jack sat in last as he approached the final bend in Wednesday night’s Soldiers Saddle semi-final, he needed to find the sharp acceleration that had landed him a heat win.
That he did.
Driver Nathan Xuereb urged him to unleash and he charged six-wide down the home straight at the Bathurst Paceway to reel in his rivals.
At the post he was two metres clear of the nearest runner, clocking a 1:57.2 mile rate as he booked his place in the final.
It was an effort which was arguably even more impressive than what Redbelly Jack produced seven days earlier in his heat win, clocking a 27 seconds third sectional as he came from midfield and surged to an unbeatable lead.
“Last week it was a little bit different circumstances and I drove him a bit different, but he does have that good turn of foot,” Xuereb said.
“He’s a very versatile horse. If he draws good he can lead and if he draws back, then he’s got that turn of foot after sitting off the speed.”
Driving for his father, Londonderry trainer Michael Xuereb, Nathan Xuereb knew that Redbelly Jack would be tested from a barrier 11 draw in his 1,730m semi-final.
The Rock N Roll Heaven x Jackpot Girl four-year-old gelding still held $2.80 favouritism, but as the race unfolded others looked a better prospect.
As Redbelly Jack settled midfield then got shuffled back to the rear, it was Eliza Duskhu who led the way up front.
The talented mare led by 2½ lengths over Might And Main with 850m to go, while Double Encounter was working forward on a three-wide move.
The field bunched down the back and into the straight it was a fierce battle in front.
But Redbelly Jack was motoring from the rear and reeled them all in to win ahead of Double Encounter ($38.40) and Might And Main ($8.40).
“He got shuffled back and he didn’t have much luck, but when I came along the bend, he knew what his job was and he did it,” Xuereb said. “When I was moving around the turn I was hoping to finish in the top six with him, anything after that was a bonus.”
He certainly got a bonus.