He may be a group 1 winning trainer, but for Matt Clark winning a heat of the Launching Pad stands as his biggest thrill in the sport.
Kuro Kismet, a son of TAB Melbourne Cup winner Aston Dee Bee, was outstanding when pouncing straight to the lead from box 5 and running 29.18, the fastest time of the evening. The victory was the result of meticulous planning and preparation by Clark leading into the $420,000 series after Kuro Kismet reached the six win limit of the series with a victory at Sandown Park four weeks earlier.
After winning his previous appearance in 29.19, Clark gave him a let short let up before returning to trial twice at the track, including a sharp 29.26 gallop two weeks ago.
“I had to hold on to him (Kuro Kismet) for a month for this race. It’s been a long month,” said Clark.
“We’re not just up the road, we’re three hours up the road. It’s a six hour round trip the last two Wednesdays (to trial) and to have it come off tonight – I just can’t tell you how much it means to me and my wife (Bianca).
“The month off has really worked for him. He gets better with every week – he’s been an average beginner and he’s gotten better and better and better with time. And tonight he jumped – he needed to from box 5 – and I couldn’t be happier for the dog and the owners.”
One of the owners is Mel Mayle for whom Kuro Kismet – affectionately known as ‘Sox’ due to his distinctive white feet – is her first foray into ownership. Mayle has become such an integral part of the team that she was on handling duties.
“She’s a fantastic person and she just loves handling the dog and he goes good for her. To be able to watch from the stands and kick him home, like I said, that’s my biggest thrill in racing, 100 per cent.”
With his win Kuro Kismet progresses to next Thursday night’s semi finals – along with the first four from each heat – from which the winners and runners up will advance to the $150,000 to the winner final on Thursday April 1st.
Following his heat victory, Kuro Kismet firmed to $5.50 favouritism for the series after opening at $26 prior to the heats.
Launching Pad heat 1 – Gypsy Yankee (29.37)
What a way to kick off the series! First up after six months Gypsy Yankee showed great early speed, determination and strength to hold off Silver Lake in a thrilling battle. Silver Lake, the favourite for the series ahead of the heats, will have lost no admirers and is sure to take great benefit from his first race in five weeks.
Launching Pad heat 2 – Hadouken (29.52)
Hadouken only stepped fairly but powered through the first turn when Queenslander Brother Jason, in his first start at Sandown Park, moved away from the fence and that was the ball game. Hadouken’s middle section of 13.52 was just two lengths off Simon Told Helen’s unofficial mark. Brother Jason is showed he’s certainly capable at this level.
Launching Pad heat 3 – Aston Lavinia (29.48)
Aston Lavinia rich vein of form continued when she again pinged the lids to lead clearly at the first mark running 5.06. She hit bit of a flat spot down the back but was tough enough to hold off the chasing pack, including Mepunga Warrior who stormed home from off the pace.
Launching Pad heat 4 – Kuro Kismet (29.18)
The run of the night. 5.07 early, 18.62 to the back and home in 10.55. His 29.18 not only clearly the best of the night, but fastest ever run in a Launching Pad heat.
Launching Pad heat 5 – Fernando Mick (29.30)
A late nomination for the series, Fernando Mick got a bump from each side out of the boxes but accelerated brilliantly to lead and establish a big break down the back. Silken, a winner over 595m at Sandown, reduced the margin to 4 lengths but it was all honours to Fernando Mick.
Launching Pad heat 6 – Real Reward (29.43)
In the biggest upset of the night, Real Reward showed excellent early speed to lead all of the way in 29.43 at 25/1. Entered on the last Launching Pad ticket acquired, Real Reward entered the series on the back of a modest 595m victory but showed speed and strength in his 515m assignment tonight.
Launching Pad heat 7 – Shima Classic (29.52)
The punters may have been licking their wounds after heat 6, but they got back on the winners list with Shima Classic in heat 7. The Australian Cup finalist stepped fairly but took full advantage of the space afforded to her from box 8 to whip around the field and lead clearly. Destruction reduced the margin to a length at the line in a really nice performance from the Launching Pad qualifying winner.
Launching Pad heat 8 – Riccarton Rick (29.27)
While many greyhounds entered the series fresh, Riccarton Rick entered the series hard fit and it showed in his heat, staving off Wedding Or Baby on his inside and Keep It Black on his outer to win in the second fastest overall time of the night but the fastest run home.
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