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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Australia Takes the Lead; Tetrick Second After Five Heats

Australia's Chris Alford traded positions with USA's Tim Tetrick after five heats to take the lead in 2015's World Driving Championship.  Tonight's three heats were competed at Newcastle.  Tim Tetrick has put in a credible performance thus far in the WDC despite not winning tonight.

In the third heat, Alford, driving Better Than Max nailed Kardashiancrusader (Tetrick) at the wire to score victory by a margin of a head.  The time of the mile over the good track was 1:56.  The Canadian standard-bearer, Jody Jamieson finished seventh in the race.  The fact Tetrick was even involved at the finish was a credit to him as he restrained Kardashiancrusader at the start and then from far back had to make a three wide brush to get into contention, racing on the outside the entire mile.   Other horses would have tired and dropped back but he was able to keep his charge moving down the stretch and was just out-kicked by someone who had a better trip.

In the fourth heat, it was France's time to shine as Tony Le Beller drove The Merchant Banker NZ to a 4.2 meter victory over Australia's representative in the race Gee Tee Wage in 1:56.6.  North America got shut out of the top three for the first time in this series as the third place finisher, The Puritan was driven by Norway's Vidar Hop.  This time, the overland route didn't work for Tetrick as he hooked up with The Merchant Banker a good part of the race up front with Red Raphael who ended up tiring in the stretch to finish sixth, 11.4 meters back.  Jody Jamieson finished eighth in the race.  Two horses got knocked out of the race in the beginning as Stathlachan Matt and Go Lassie Go locked wheels just after the start, resulting in a warning being issued to Finland's  Mika Forss who was held liable for the two horses locking wheels.

The warning may be what Forss needed as he answered the judges by winning the fifth heat of the competition for Finland with Satu NZ in the 2,030 meter contest timed in 2:32.7 (mile rate 2:01) with the winning margin of 1.9 meters over Heza Panamach NZ driven by Norway's Hop.  Tetrick broke up a potential European sweep by coming in third with Hangover Joe who was 3.5 meters back of the race winner.  Jody Jamieson finished fifth with Thoughtiheardulaughn after leaving early to get the lead briefly before giving the lead up to the eventual race winner as they hit the backstretch the first time, taking the pocket trip to no avail.  Once Satu got the lead, he took the field the rest of the way, having to work hard down the stretch to win.

So the standings after the first five heats have concluded are:

Point Score After 5 Heats
Chris Alford
Tim Tetrick
Mika Forss
Tony Le Beller
Guillermo Adrover
Vidar Hop
Jody Jamieson
Knud Monster
Dexter Dunn
Pierre Vercryusse
Peter McMullen
Australia (travelling Reserve

Monday is an off-day with the drivers competing in seven more heats at the Wagga Harness Racing Club in Wagga Wagga.  What will be interesting on Tuesday is Wagga races six across meaning the drivers will be faced with the second tier for the first time in the WDC.  Wagga is slightly bigger than  a half mile oval.  If interested in seeing a form guide provided by Harness Racing Australia, you may click here.

Did you know?  French WDC Representative Pierre Vercryusse spent time in the States racing, primarily in New Jersey.

Amen Brother.  In Harness Racing Update's Brush and Crush (page five), Dean Towers talks about his pet peeves in harness racing.  All I can say is Amen Brother as he hits some of the big problems on the head.

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