Flemington, Victoria, Australia --- Yannick Gingras has shot to the top of the leaderboard after a thrilling first day of the International All Star Series in Australia.
|Photo courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria|
|Trainer Michael Stanley and syndicate member Gareth Hall with Yannick Gingras after he drove Spiritwriter to victory in the first race of the International All Star Series.|
Gingras drove his mounts to victory in his first two starts on Australian soil and then followed up with a bold run in the last race to steal the limelight on day one. But it wasn’t all international flavor, with Terang young gun Jason Lee claiming one for the Vics in race three on Yackandandah and then Greg Sugars winning the fourth and last, romping home late with Wardwell to overpower Gingras’ Captain Bronzie.
The six-meet series, which starts and ends at Tabcorp Park Melton around meets at Echuca, Maryborough, Ballarat and Bendigo, began with Gingras driving Michael Stanley’s promising 3-year-old Spiritwriter to a thrilling win. Spiritwriter ran down a bold drive by Gavin Lang aboard Blackbird Power, who appeared to have pinched the race.
“I thought I was coming second down the stretch, I always felt Gavin had it but I asked the horse for a little bit more and it ran great,” Gingras said.
Gingras then followed up with a 10m win on Fiery Blue Chip in race two, with Comigal (Dexter Dunn) and Illawong Bella filling the placings.
His run was broken when Lee, still a concession driver and the series’ youngest competitor, claimed the third race aboard Yackandandah, with ultra-consistent Dexter Dunn (New Zealand) finishing second driving Zalta and Victorian Chris Alford third on Jaccka Wilco.
“I can sort of relax now,” Lee joked, having cracked through for a win. He said felt lucky to have been picked for the event and been exposed to such champion drivers.
The last race provided another ripping showdown, with Greg Sugars mowing down Gingras to salute on Wardwell, a third win for Sugars on the day, having won the opening two races on the card, which were not part of the series.
Gingras said he found the racing more comfortable than expected, noting with a wry smile, “I was near the front as usual, so things didn’t really feel much different to home.”
Harness Racing Victoria chief executive John Anderson said to be “in the presence of such greatness was quite an honor,” with the Victoria and World teams combining for 40,000 wins collectively.
The racing followed a visit from Melton Specialist School students, who had superstar cards and caps signed by the drivers and were overjoyed by a visit from Captain Joy. Now retired, Captain Joy won more than $1 million and is cared for by Susan Hunter through HRV’s HERO Program, which re-educates retired racehorses.
International All Star Series day one leaderboard: Yannick Gingras (42), Dexter Dunn (33), Chris Alford (31), Jason Lee (30), Greg Sugars (27.5), Brett Miller (21), Gavin Lang (20.5), Corey Callahan (19), Anthony Butt (18), Kerryn Manning (15).
Overall leaderboard: World (133), Victoria (124).
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