by Peter Quilty
Zambora Lou ‘hit the target’ as the inaugural overall winner of exciting innovation The Arrow (350m)at Healesville on Sunday 29 August.
Trained at Pearcedale by Jason Thompson, Zambora Lou (pictured above – rug 3) shocked Utah Ghost in Match 2, clocking a flying 19.039sec to be the fastest match race winner by .001sec.
Utah Ghost had been proving a ‘poltergeist’ to his rivals at Healesville, recently claiming the Victorian Straight Track Championship, and was TAB’s $2.80 favourite to win The Arrow.
A winner of 25 races from 55 starts, including four from six over 350m at Healesville, Zambora Lou ($6.90) landed connections a $20,000 first prize as the overall winner and $2500 for claiming the head-to-head match race.
And the next ‘string to his bow’ could well be back-to-back Group 2 Healesville Cup (350m) wins, with the heats commencing next Sunday.
The $50,000 to-the-winner final, on September 12, is the climax to the 10-week Healesville Festivalnof Racing highlighted by six features races and around $800,000 in prize money.
Prior to Zambora Lou’s head-to-head with Utah Ghost, quietly confident handler Luke Thompson issued some prophetic words: “His box manners can be a bit scratchy, but he’s going as good as last year when he won the Healesville Cup… We think he can get down in the 18.90s.”
And Luke, Jason Thompson’s son, wasn’t far off the mark! It’s worth noting that Zambora Lou set an 18.968sec PB in a heat of last year’s G3 Healesville Cup before taking out the final in 18.976sec.
Amazingly, Zambora Lou’s winning time in The Arrow head-to-head was a ‘whisker’ quicker than Ferdinand Boy who comfortably won Match 3, defeating Mr. America (also trained by Thompson) in 19.040sec.
Prepared at Lara by David Geall, dual country cups winner Ferdinand Boy notched his 27th win from 47 starts, including three from four over this track/distance.
Ferdinand Boy ($3.60) earned $5000 as The Arrow runner-up and Geall has made it well known the Healesville Cup is on his racing agenda.
Hadouken ($11.80), prepared at Avalon by Jessica Sharp, earned $2000 as The Arrow third place getter. He defeated Smart As Jack in Match 1, semaphoring 19.133sec. It was his 10th win from 30 starts, including five of his past eight.
And Dream Wizard, trained at Devon Meadows by Sean Lithgow, snared Match 4 over Weblec Blazer in 19.298sec. He registered his 23rd win from 59 starts.
Meanwhile, the inaugural $10,000 to-the-winner Highway 31 Maiden Challenge final (300m) was taken out in meritorious style by Aston Merit.
Prepared at Avalon by Jessica Sharp, the superbly bred Aston Merit (Apr ’19 KC And All x Secret Spell) defeated a field of serious young talent.
A star in the making, Aston Merit ($4.40) clocked a sizzling 16.40sec – only three lengths off the 300 metre track record set by Matt’s Entity on August 18 2013.
Incredibly, Aston Merit improved more than five lengths on his race debut – a 16.72sec heat win last Tuesday.