A CRACKER exploded on Wednesday night and for mother and daughter Monica and Phoebe Betts it made for a merry Christmas.
Two-year-old gelding Justa Dragon, who's stable name is Cracker, unleashed a brilliant sprint at the Bathurst Paceway to take out the Merry Christmas Pace (1,730 metres) for the Betts'.
With Phoebe Betts in the gig for her mother-trainer Monica, Justa Dragon came from near the rear of the field to claim just the second win of his 18-start career.
In the final 100 metres in particular, Cracker exploded to reel in leader Miss Stormy Grey. He ended up winning by 2.1m.
"I knew they went pretty slow, but he does have a pretty good turn of foot," Phoebe Betts said.
"It was just a matter of whether he done everything right because he tends to throw it away every now and then."
Though Justa Dragon had only the one prior win before tackling the Merry Christmas Pace, his driver explained that record was not a real indication of his talent.
The Fear The Dragon x Justa Jem Lombo gelding qualified for Group 1 final earlier this campaign and Betts feels he should have placed in the NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Series Final at Wagga Wagga.
"He's been going really good the whole way through, he got knocked down last start, he should have run third, he's just had no luck at all," she said.
"He's been knocking on the door for a long time, he just hasn't had the luck. So a bit of a drop in class tonight and it was good."
Starting as a $3.50 chance, Justa Dragon settled in second last after going from barrier six.
It was Nathan Turnbull's Miss Storm Grey ($4.20) who led the way, making a quick start but then backing off the tempo through a 32.5 seconds split for the second quarter.
As the bell for the final lap sounded Bernie Hewitt's $2.40 favourite Logan Reason rolled up into the death seat, but Betts remained patient with Justa Dragon one out and four back.
Betts finally made her move as the bend loomed, Justa Dragon the widest runner on the track as they turned for home.
At that stage Miss Stormy Grey was leading. But then Cracker exploded.
Betts' chance flew home to take the win in a 1:57.7 mile rate, with Miss Stormy Grey second and Scarlett Bling ($7) a head back in third.
So where does the name Cracker come from?
"That's what he come to us as, he was called that by the owner," Betts explained.
"He's a bit of a funny bugger, he has his own little temperament, but he come to us with that name and it stuck."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: