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Manders ecstatic with Cherokee’s Ironman

Cherokee’s Ironman is the firm favourite going into the Champion of Champions

Cherokee’s Ironman was the toast of the stables after setting two track records in his previous outing at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre.

Arnold Manders’ Indiana-bred pony claimed the gelding’s record outright and broke his own record for the season’s fastest time with top driver Tyler Lopes at the helm.

Racing on the rail in the second heat of the Free for All, Cherokee’s Ironman posted a blistering 1:02/2 to break a tie for the gelding’s record which he had shared with Inwood Stables’ 12-year-old gelding, Brona’s Mike.

The time also shaved three fifths of a second off the season’s fastest time of 1:03 flat which Manders’ pony recorded last December.

“Breaking the gelding’s record was one of the goals we set out to achieve,” Manders said. “If you look at the times he did as a two and three year old you knew he had the ability but to get around in 1:02/2 was a good time — especially because the track was kind of thick and had a lot of sand on it.”

Saltus students and brothers Christian and Casey Truran posted the second and third fastest times also competing in the Free for All.

Christian went 1:03/2 in the opening heat of the Free for All with Colin Mello’s mare Pocket De Gold, which is the reigning Best Three Series four and five-year-old champion, while brother Casey posted a 1:04 flat with Mello’s colt Itsallaboutme.

Pocket De Gold’s time was one fifth of a second shy of the mare’s track record of 1:03/1 set by Whited Family’s IC’s Overextended last December.

The overall track record stands at 1:01/4 which was set by Mello’s retired stallion Big Red Machine in 2011.

Asked does he think his pony can surpass Big Red’s record, Manders replied: “I think he has the ability to do it, but everything he does has to be right because a 1:01/4 is pretty fast.”

Cherokee’s Ironman has been in a class of his own this season.

As well as the gelding record and season’s fastest time, Manders’ pony holds both the Boxing Day Stakes and Best Three Aged Stakes titles and will be gunning for a clean sweep of major honours during next week’s season finale Champion of Champions.

Cherokee’s Ironman is the firm favourite going into the Champion of Champions. However, while Manders feels good about his pony’s chances for success, he is not counting his chickens.

“We are feeling pretty good but it has to be done on the day and he has to be feeling right,” the former Bermuda national cricket team captain and coach said. “He is the favourite going into it. But it’s anybody’s game because anything can happen in racing.”

Harness racing continues tomorrow at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre, beginning at 1pm.