Jeff Britton dominated the Victorian National Championship finals at The Meadows on Thursday night, taking out the Sprint event with track specialist Mr. Fix It and the Distance decider with Hank The Hustler.
Britton and partner Angela Langton supplied half the field for the $12,000 to-the-winner Sprint final with Mr. Fix It (Box 8) the most fancied at $3.90, the second elect behind $2.20 favourite Aston Rupee.
The other Britton/Langton finalists were Jepara (Box 3) at $6.40, Mepunga Knight (Box 4) at $13.80 and Tyler Durden (Box 2) at $17.
Mr. Fix It, a son of 2015 National Sprint hero Fernando Bale and Alpha Demeter, had also exited box eight in his heat victory last Saturday night, where he led all-the-way in 29.97sec, defeating Jax Bale and $1.80 favourite Aston Rupee.
Despite scraping into the final, Aston Rupee was once again sent out favourite but in what was virtually a carbon copy of their encounter five nights earlier, Mr. Fix It began sweetly and with a clear run down the outside he led ‘kennelmate’ Jepara into the first corner.
Mr. Fix It broke clear in the back straight and while Aston Rupee moved threateningly into third approaching the home turn, the leader kept kicking strongly to hold the rapidly-closing Aston Rupee at bay, scoring by one length in 29.98sec, just .01 outside his heat time.
It was Mr. Fix It’s 18th win from 41 starts and 12th from 20 appearances at The Meadows.
“He wasn’t the fastest dog in the race but he’s got great habits,” said a delighted Jeff Britton.
“I’d say the other three dogs we had in it would probably beat him ‘two out’.
“You’ve just got to hope everything goes right from box eight and he got a beautiful run, with the seven (Fabriola Zad) really helping him.
“Aston Rupee was the fastest dog in the race but he’s still a pup and he was poorly boxed. I could see he was coming up the back but then the red (Providence Bale) came back on him.
“Mr. Fix It loves going around The Meadows. We’ve taken him interstate – up to Brisbane and Sydney – and he’s gone ordinary. He’s just not the same dog.
“He was a bit stiff when he ran third in the (G1) Maturity because Qwara Bale was drawn underneath him and he couldn’t quite get around her.”
Mr. Fix It’s victory had a distinct family flavour as he’s raced by the Maintenance Man syndicate, comprising Angela Langton’s father Morgan Smith and close family friend and handyman extraordinaire Stan Bauer – who Langton describes as the real ‘Mr. Fix It.’
Britton claimed the first leg of his Nationals double when Hank The Hustler, also drawn in Box 8, claimed back-to-back feature race victories at The Meadows, having won the G3 Fireball, also over the 725m course, last month.
Another superbly-bred son of Fernando Bale and G1 winner Oakvale Destiny, Hank The Hustler had box one in the Fireball and the move to ‘the pink’ for the $12,000 to-the-winner Distance Championship proved to be no concern.
Heavy support saw Andrea Dailly’s emerging distance prospect Drako Bale start $2.40 favourite, usurping Hank The Hustler at $2.90, with Star Blazer, prepared by Langton, next in betting at $5.80.
Hank The Hustler was able to cross Drako Bale and he refused to surrender the lead, staving off a late challenge from Drako Bale to score by .8 of a length in 42.73sec, with Star Blazer finishing third.
Hank The Hustler has won 18 of his 50 starts and nine from his last 17, having enjoyed a purple patch of form since stepping up to ‘700’ earlier in the year.
“I think he deserved it because he’s been the best stayer in Victoria for a while now,” Britton offered.
Photos by Clint Anderson
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