Only three legs of the 2021 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit remain and the race to be crowned the winner is still on.
Sure, King Of Swing holds a healthy lead but it’s not insurmountable.
The Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup, staged at Lords Raceway at Bendigo, was expected to be dominated by King Of Swing despite a nasty barrier draw but fortune favours the brave and classy performer Max Delight made full use of an excellent trip to score in the 2150m mobile start feature.
Prepared by David Aiken, who scratched his star pupil a week prior from the final lead-up event, the Smoken Up Sprint owing to hoof abscess only to see him snatch victory from Triple Eight and King Of Swing via the passing lane.
Starting from gate two, the former Australian Three-Year-Old-Of-The-Year who was partnered by champion reinsman Chris Alford charged to an early lead before handing over to the strongly fancied mare, Amazing Dream within the first 250m of the event.
The lead time was covered in 37.3 seconds.
King Of Swing, starting from gate 13, was quickly put into gear by driver David Moran and started to circle three-wide passing the 1600m while General Dodge went in front of him.
The reigning APG Grand Circuit Champion was soon outside Amazing Dream by the 1100m marker.
The first quarter of the final mile was timed in 29 seconds.
With Amazing Dream and King Of Swing at the head of affairs, there was no respite and the pace remained constant.
The second quarter was also timed in 29 seconds.
Entering the backstraight, Amazing Dream really increased the pressure and attempted to run her rivals ragged with a 27.4 third quarter but she couldn’t shake them.
King Of Swing loomed level at the home turn while Max Delight appeared to be bolting behind her as he waited for the passing lane.
In the straight, King Of Swing claimed a narrow lead, but the cavalry was coming thick and fast, Max Delight shot the inside gap while Triple Eight loomed deeper out.
At the finish, Max Delight scored by 3.2 metres from Triple Eight and King Of Swing with Amazing Dream weakening to fourth.
The final quarter was timed in 28.5 seconds.
The winning time was 2:31.2 with the winning mile rate 1:53.2 – well outside of the track of 1:52.3 set by Hurricane Harley last year.
The race was by marred by a fall in the home straight when Malcolms Rhythm (Josh Aiken) crashed to the track but fortunately, horse and driver took no harm from the incident.
“What an amazing week it’s been and what a job by David to have him ready to go for tonight, it might have been a blessing in disguise.” A jubilant Chris Alford said.
It was their third Victoria Cup triumph after combining with Lennytheshark in the 2016 and 2017 versions.
Alford has now driven four (4) Victoria Cup winners with his initial success coming via Golden Reign back in 1995.
Aiken has now prepared seven (7) Grand Circuit winners while Alford has now driven 19 winners at the elite level.
Max Delight, a five-year-old by Bettors Delight from Lady Euthenia (by Art Major) was bred by Peter Lewis and is raced by Mick Maxfield.
King Of Swing leads the way with 220 points for the APG Grand Circuit title followed by Amazing Dream (120), Lochinvar Art and Max Delight (100) sitting next in the pecking order.
Up next, the New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 9 followed by the Inter Dominion (in Sydney) and the Auckland Cup.
Can King Of Swing take the title? Will he be crowned again?