With two country cup wins in six days Shadow Sax has launched himself to the head of the Trots Country Cups Championship, and Emma Stewart’s lightly-raced favourite may be only just getting warmed up.
A winner of 16 of his 24 starts who hasn’t missed a placing since start three, Shadow Sax has made up for lost time this season when the once terrific juvenile has overcome the niggles that burdened his four-year-old campaign.
He was a class above when dominant in the December 3 Choices Flooring By Westside Stawell Pacing Cup, but it was perhaps his rugged win six days later in the Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup that reaffirmed his status.
That was the view of veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who was in the sulky for both.
“It was a step up again when he got to the Geelong Cup,” Lang said.
“He had to withstand the pressure as John Of Arc started strong and continued to over race outside of him.”
A 69.7-second lead time, almost a second faster than the lead time when It Is Billy set the track record in the 2016 cup, set the foundation before some respite with 30.5 and 30.6 first and second quarters.
Love Ina Chevy loomed during a 27.3 third quarter when Shadow Sax saw off Lance Justice’s threat, and a 28.7 final quarter was required to keep leader’s back Cant Refuse (second) and quality swoopers Messini, It Is Billy, Tee Cee Bee Macray, Lets Elope and Mister Wickham at bay.
“(Shadow Sax) has a laidback character and reserves himself until I give him a tap on the backside to wake him up and he hit the line really well,” Lang said.
A 1.8m win captured the bulk of the $30,000 prizemoney for owner-breeders Russell and Pamela Hockham.
“I don’t take any of (his opposition) horses for granted, they have all earned their spot,” Lang said.
“Not every horse can step up into that grade, where the good ones just keep coming at you. He’s the new kid on the block. He’s always acquitted himself well, but he spent a long time out. I think whatever he does this campaign will auger well for the future.”
His next chapter could well come in the January 6 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup, a $60,000 Group 2 pace that is the first of six country cups across three weeks.
Gavin Lang joined Trots Talk to reflect on Shadow Sax’s success: