Google Me bows out in style
Candyce Martins and Google Me successfully defended their Champion of Champions crown in wet and blustery conditions at Vesey Street yesterday.
The “dynamic duo” lived up to their lofty expectations as they completed the four-dash series with the fastest combined average time of 4:11/3.
However, victory did not come without drama as the right side tyre on Martins’s bike blew out coming down the final backstretch in the penultimate dash which threatened to derail her team’s title defence.
The setback trimmed Martins and Google Me’s advantage over the rest of the field to three fifths of a second going into the final dash. With pressure mounting, and no margin for error, Martins and Google Me proved equal to the task as they stormed to victory with the fastest time of the day of 1:02/3 racing on the rail to seal the deal.
“It feels good to get the job done, but I was a little worried there in the first heat,” said Robert Lopes, who jointly owns Google Me with his son Tyler.
“We took a flat tyre on the second lap, but still managed to finish with a good time of 1:03/2, which stills keeps us in front by three-fifths, and then come home in the second heat with the fastest time of 1:02/3.
“It was a good weekend. First day, we got two firsts from the two-hold; a 1:02/2 and a 1:03/1, and that put us up by a full second over the whole field at the end of the day.”
Martins did well to minimise the damage suffered after blowing a tyre in the penultimate dash to keep the team’s title defence alive and kicking.
“That was very unlucky and just shows that things can change very fast,” she said. “But I couldn’t stop; I had to keep going to get a closer time.
“When the tyre blew, it was definitely a low blow to our confidence because we were slower than we could’ve been. But when she went back out second round she made up for it. She felt smooth and ran her race.”
Martins and Google Me’s triumph capped an impressive season double as they also won the coveted aged stakes title at the first attempt on New Year’s Day.
“I call Candyce and Google Me the dynamic duo,” Lopes added. “They are top of the game and have had very good chemistry from day one.”
Moments after retaining bragging rights, Lopes announced his plans to retire his Indiana-bred pony that also holds the overall track record and mare’s record, which stands at 1:01/1, and is the only mare to be crowned Champion of Champions.
Lopes also retired Google Me after last year’s maiden Champion of Champions triumph before having a change of heart.
“This is official this year, she will be made retired,” he said. “We have already made plans to breed and see if we can get a foal come next early spring.
“There’s really no more to accomplish. She’s done it all and I think it’s time to pass the torch on. She has had a short but phenomenal career, which has exceeded my expectations and I’m sure everyone’s expectations of her. Mares usually don’t dominate in harness racing, the males always dominate, but this mare is top of the game.”
Meanwhile, Charles Whited Jr’s gelding, Gold N Glory, took second with a time of 4:13/2.
It was an outcome which exceeded the expectations of driver Christian Truran.
“I was on a bad streak going into this and was surprised I even came second, so it exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The horse did me a favour this year, so I’m really happy.”
Raynor Family’s stallion, Special Gold, rounded off the podium in third with a time of 4:13/2.
“We tried our best and put it all out there and came up third, so we are proud of him,” Lee Raynor Jr, who owns the stallion with son and driver Sergio Raynor, said. “He has done well for us and we are thankful.”
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