Last year it was outsider Rohan Hill at Bathurst, but 12 months on, at the same venue, this time it was the short-priced favourite, Goods Odds Harada who collected the honour of being the first dog through to the semi-finals of the TAB Million Dollar Chase with a stunning victory in the Bathurst Regional Final on Saturday night.
The Frank Hurst-trained sprinter jumped perfectly, raced to the lead and it was effectively race over at that stage.
At the post, on a cold blustering night, Good Odds Harada had clocked 29.43s – a stunning run considering the cold, windy conditions – figures which would have been closer to the track record on a fine, clear evening.
Second was Double Up Dee 5 ¼ lengths away with Solar Sky third and Wolf Bear fourth. Under the new conditions of the series this year, all four will advance to the Wentworth Park semi-finals.
It’s an amazing feat too for broodbitch Solar Pak, who qualified littermates both Good Odds Harada and Solar Sky, and will more than likely get another semi-finalist on Sunday when Feral Franky goes around at Gunnedah in their Regional Final
For trainer Frank Hurst with an odds-on favourite heading into the regional final, the emotion was more relief than excitement after the win.
“Absolutely it’s relief,” he said. “I have been in a lot of big races. I was in the richest race in the world at one time, the Golden Easter Egg, and we had the odds-on favourite who ended up running third, a bitch called Fancy Mandy, but the pressure of this Million Dollar race and the excitement of it … it’s just overwhelming by comparison.
“It’s good to get it done and get through. He raced up here last Monday and we have just kept him on the lead all this week because if you want to win these races you’ve got to be in front so we kept him fresh to try and get him out there in front.”
Hurst will now weigh up his options heading into the October 11 semi-finals.
“I know he’ll have a week to 10 days off at some stage but we’ll have to race him somewhere at some stage. You can’t go into a Million Dollar race without racing somewhere for six weeks. But for now, one step at a time.”
It was de ja vu for Paul Braddon with Double Up Dee. A year ago he finished second in the Bathurst Regional Final behind Rohan Hill and qualified for the semi-finals.
“Yeah I’m pretty thrilled he’s done it again. He’s probably had a little bit more luck this time but it’s good to get through again,” Braddon said.
“Last year we went to Sydney and he had box one (in the semi-finals) and got skittled on the first turn. Hopefully we’ll have better luck this year.
“He is more seasoned and definitely is racing better than he was 12 months ago, but I’m just happy to be there. There’s going to be some hot dogs in there and we’re going to need a lot of luck, but it’s great to be in the semi-finals.:
Another four semi-finalists will be decided at Gunnedah on Sunday night, with the Jack Smith-trained Feral Franky a short-priced favourite to win, following his stunning win in the prelude of the event last Saturday when a 12 ¾ length winner in 30.20s, just 0.01s outside the track record.