Best of the best battle it out for title
Six of the island's fastest ponies will battle it out for the coveted Champion of Champions crown that will be up for grabs during this weekend's harness racing season finale at Vesey Street.
The formidable field boasts geldings Simsfield Hardtimes and Gold N Glory, stallion, Special Gold, as well as a trio of mares in Pocket De Gold, Thisbaby Rocks and Google Me.
The draw for track positions was due to be held yesterday, with the winner of the four-dash series spread over today and tomorrow to be determined by fastest combined average time.
Google Me, jointly owned by father and son Robert and Tyler Lopes, is the defending champion.
The Indiana-bred pony stormed to victory last year, breaking multiple track records along the way and becoming the first mare to win the prestigious Champion of Champions with driver Candyce Martins in the sulky.
Google Me set a new overall track record, the mare's record and the four-year-old's record, which the pony already owned, with a time of 1:01/1 en route to the title.
“Last year, we didn't think we could win it or get a new track record,” Robert Lopes said.
“But the cards fell the way they fell and that was the outcome.”
Lopes is now looking forward to the challenge of defending his crown.
“I think we have a good chance, but we'll just have to wait and see what the outcome is,” he said.
“As defending champions, there are lots of expectations. There's a lot of competition this year and the draw, weather and how the ponies are feeling is a big factor.”
Lopes retired his mare after winning last year's Champion of Champions, but ultimately had a change of heart.
It proved to be a good decision as Google Me captured the coveted aged stakes title at the first attempt on New Year's Day to underline her status as the island's top pony.
Lopes's mare is now gunning for what would be an impressive double and is going into the season-finale with a share of the season's fastest time, which stands at 1:01/3, with Free for All rival Simsfield Hardtimes.
“Candyce and Google Me have had a great season and I am very proud of both of them,” Lopes added.
“Whatever the outcome, Candyce and Google Me are champions to me, as well as Tyler and the rest of the gang. I wish all of the drivers a good and safe race.”
Racing starts from 1pm both days.