Poke The Bear claimed Speed Star VII with a scorching 29.122 gallop on a scintillating evening of match racing at Sandown Park last night.
A well supported $2.90 favourite to win the event, the ‘White Flash’ led Hecton Bale from box rise and was never challenged, going on to record his 10th Sandown Park victory.
While the winning time didn’t come as a surprise to handler Jason Thompson, the manner of his victory did.
“In Speed Star events the first split is crucial to setting up a good time, and when I saw 5.16 I was shattered watching it live,” he said.
“He did get up the back in 18.75 so I thought he could probably run 29.20s, but he actually got home a bit better than I thought he would. His time was what we’d hoped he run but I thought he’d run 5.05-5.10 early, so to run 5.16 and still run 29.12 is a really good effort.”
Despite Poke The Bear’s slick time – his fastest in 18 starts at the View Road circuit – Thompson was a nervous onlooker for the remaining three matches in the series.
“Even after his 29.122 I wasn’t overly confident because there were still six dogs to come and they were all very high quality dogs. The winner isn’t determined until the last match.”
Defending Speed Star champion Dyna Patty, who defeated Poke the Bear in Speed Star Six in May, clocked 29.179 in the following match. Maurice Minor defeated top seed My Redeemer in 29.333 in match three, and when Not Available defeated Elevated in the final match 29.400, Poke The Bear was crowned the Speed Star victor.
It was the third Speed Star win for Seona Thompson following Bewlidering’s consecutive victories in 2017. Connections picked up $20,000 for recording the fastest time in the event – as well as $5000 for winning the match – taking his career earnings to $221,000.
Poke The Bear will now be set for a campaign in Sydney before returning to Sandown Park for the Shootout, for which is the $5 equal favourite with tab.com.au.
Later in the evening, Robert Britton’s outstanding litter brothers Tornado Tears and Rippin’ Sam defended their 595m and 715m titles and setting new personal best times in the process.
It was another memorable Speed Star night for Britton after winning six matches on the card and pocketing $74,500 of the $190,000 in prize money available (he won seven matches and $95,500 in Speed Star 6).
Stud sensation Fernando Bale also enjoyed a landmark evening, siring all three main event winners and seven matches in all, with his progeny winning $117,000 on the night.