Former New Zealand trotter Needle has quickly established herself as one of the most exciting prospects in the Sunshine State.
Unbeaten now in four local starts, the Muscle Mass four-year-old mare showcased her full range of weaponry tonight (Saturday) when successful in the $20,630 Jim McNeil Memorial Trotters Championship Final at Albion Park after racing without cover.
Starting at $1.20, the Brad Connelly trained and Gary Whitaker driven punters elect stepped cleanly from her 10m handicap but was forced to sit without cover in the 2647m feature before holding out Spirit Walker ($14.30) by 2.5m while Southern Alps was further 6m away in third after leading.
Needle rated 2:03.5.
“Again she was very relaxed and traveled really well outside the leader, I was never really concerned and she quickened nicely coming off the back straight before holding them in the straight. A lovely mare and a pleasure to drive.” Winning driver Gary Whitaker said.
The victory provided Whitaker with his second triumph in the feature after scoring with Mexican Invasion in 2012.
Bred and formerly raced by Christchurch based businessman Trevor Casey, the high quality mare is now raced by Jeroen Niewenburg.
Needle has now won 7 from 20 overall while her earnings are in excess of $50,000.
A half-sister to former star mare Escapee (11 wins from 39 starts - $272k), connections will have plenty of thinking to do in the coming weeks with an interstate campaign a possibility.
Needle joins Foursharesmorebeers, Justabitnoisy, No Bones About It, Its Three By Two, Supper Waltz Wilson, Mexican Invasion and Willy Lightfoot as a winner of the trotting feature.
In the $20,450 Wayne Wilson Memorial Paleface Adios Classic, Miss Moneybags maintained her unbeaten record after racing without cover in the 1660m juvenile feature.
Prepared by Grant Dixon and driven by his wife Trista, The Mach Three filly proved too strong defeating her stablemate Saint Kilda Beach and Maywyn Tough in a time of 1:59.6.
Race favourite Cherrys The Best galloped as the start was effected.
Miss Moneybags is raced by her breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour.
The Dixon/Seymour combination has now recorded back to back victories in the feature event after scoring last year with Red Charmer.
Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | March 3 | Photo by Dan Costello