War Machine crowned Champion of Champions
War Machine and driver Philip Correia ended the harness racing season with a bang after winning the coveted Champion of Champions at the National Equestrian Centre.
Competing among the six fastest ponies on the island, the pair produced the fastest combined average time in the four-dash series spread across the weekend to claim the title.
The Mello Family’s gelding (4:10/2) pipped rival stallion Special Gold (4:11) for top honours by a three fifths of a second.
“It wasn’t a breeze and I had to drive the wheels off him on Sunday,” Correia said. “It was anybody’s race up until then and it was a pretty good contest between Special Gold and us.
“It was a good way to end, especially for War Machine who raced a full season. Being able to start four races in two days is a tall order on any horse and to still do well is good.”
War Machine was among the pre-race favourites after going into the event with the second-fastest time of the season of 1:01/3.
“War Machine is definitely one of the better horses down there so he would always be in the running,” Correia added.
“But Champion of Champions is mostly won off smart driving and good decisions because you make one mistake in any of those races and it could cost you the whole thing.”
And Correia was at his best on War Machine, winning three of the four dashes they competed in on the way to the title.
They were denied the clean sweep after finishing second in their final second Special Gold and driver Kiwon Waldron, who clocked the fastest time of the event at 1:01/3, a fifth of a second shy of the stallion record he holds.
The time was also two fifths of a second shy of the overall track record (1:01/1) held by retired mare Google Me.
The Martins Family-owned Double Time (4:12/2) finished third followed by Maurice Raynor’s Rockeyed Optimist (4:13), Simsfield Hardtimes (4:13/4) and Gold- N- Glory (4:19/2).
Expectations had been high surrounding Simsfield Hardtimes and driver Kirista Rabain, who finished the the season with the fastest time of 1:01/2 and dominated the Free for All Division for most of the campaign.
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