WRANGLER Duke was the slowest qualifier for Friday night’s Bathurst Shootout, but when speed mattered the eight-year turned it on.
In a time trial at the Bathurst Paceway two days earlier, the Trent Rue trained and driven horse clocked a one minute, 27.1 seconds effort for the 1,200 metres sprint.
Pole position – barrier one – for the Bathurst Harness Racing Club feature was secured by Gemma Rue’s Izzy Watt on the back of a 1:21.1.
While Izzy Watt ($2.70 favourite) began well in the shootout, it was Our Chittybangbang who had the best of the start.
He flew to the lead for Anthony Frisby, crossing Izzy Watt, while Bradness Eldefuego sat on his outside and Sabrage landed the one-one.
Behind them Rue sat at the rear with Wrangler Duke.
The field covered the first split in a blistering 26.8 seconds, with Our Chittybangbang and Bradness Eldefuego eyeballing each other in the lead.
As they approached the apex of the bend Wrangler Duke was still last, Rue then guiding him four and five-wide through the turn.
But on balancing the Camotion x Cowboy Chick horse quickly made up ground. With some 55m to go, Wrangler Duke hit the lead.
The $21 outsider won by 4.7m over Kapow Shannon ($61), while third belonged to Sabrage ($4.60). Wrangler Duke covered the distance in 1:25.4.
Prior to that, the meeting began with a winning double for the combination of Bathurst trainer Ashlee Grives and driver Todd McCarthy.
It was not quite enough to see McCarthy replace Amanda Turnbull at the top of the Harness Racing NSW drivers’ premiership by the end of the meeting, but he still enjoyed his success.
“It will make the trip back home a bit easier,” he laughed.
The first leg of their winning double came in the opening race of the meeting, the Welcome Race Fans Pace (1,730 metres).
After going from barrier five, McCarthy made an early three-wide move with $1.33 favourite Life Lavros.
It paid off as the four-year-old rig went on to win in a handy 1:58.0 mile rate.
While drawing the same barrier with Getarattleon ($1.65 favourite) in the BHRC Awards Night Pace (1,730m), McCarthy adopted a different approach.
He sat one out and one back for much of the trip, then made his charge down the home straight.
His timing was spot on as Getarattleon beat out Schouten Island ($2.50) by a half neck in a 1:57.9 mile rate.
“We were pretty lucky, we slotted into a really good spot early and he battled on really well,” McCarthy said.
“Full credit to Ash, she’s done a great job with him.”