By MIKE HILL
\”YOU have to have luck in big races and we had plenty of it,\” said a very happy Andrew Lasker after his consistent sprinter Mighty Marshall upset the visitors in the recent Group 3 Ladbrokes Darwin Cup (537m).
For the 70-year-old trainer based at Humpty Doo, just south of Darwin, it was his \’best ever win\’.
\”I didn\’t think he\’d hang on,\” Lasker said.
\”On the home turn, someone behind the boxes said \’you\’ve got it won\’ but I said I would wait until the number went up into the frame.\”
He didn\’t have to worry.
The big white and black sprinter (Kiowa Mon Manny-Cacoethes) showed courage and strength in the run home to land the $25,000 winner\’s prize.
A $24 chance despite his impressive recent Darwin form, Mighty Marshall held on to beat the fast finishing Robert Ayres-trained Queensland sprinter I\’m Explosive ($4.20) by three-quarters of a length with the Primrose Bryant-prepared $3.70 favourite Carry On Angel one and three-quarter lengths away third.
Mighty Marshall was one of two long-shot runners Lasker and his partner Kathy Reynolds had in the final.
The other, Sketchy Butler ($36.70), finished fifth after \’missing the start a bit\’.
Lasker said luck plays a big part in finals and Mighty Marshall had it in spades.
\”He rode his for the entire trip,\” he said. \”He took full advantage of box two. He likes the inside and the draw was ideal for him.
\”Although he\’s a good jumper, I knew he had to be in front at the first turn to have any chance.
\”He booted into the first corner in front where a couple of favourites (Sunburst and Waltzing Mickey) were put out of business and he more or less said \’catch me if you can\’.
\”Once on the fence he won\’t let anything come up inside him and they seemed to have trouble getting around him.
\”He\’s a big, wide bastard. Carry On Angel came up the outside but couldn\’t get around him and I\’m Explosive couldn\’t get inside him.
\”Then they hit the straight and they were out of petrol.
\”My bloke ran a beautiful line the entire race and I was very lucky he was fit … he was so fit.
\”Kathy does most of the work with him and she had put a lot of time into his preparation. She had him super fit and just as well.
\”It was the difference between winning and losing.\”
The proud trainer said Mighty Marshall was a very honest dog.
Heading into the Cup series he had raced five times for Lasker, after coming up from Victoria, for two wins and two placings.
\”I\’m not much of a punter and I didn\’t have a cent on him,\” the trainer said.
However, that didn\’t take anything away from the thrill of his biggest win.
The victory took Mighty Marshall\’s career record to 11 wins and 22 minor placings from 57 starts and lifted his prizemoney to almost $51,000.
Meanwhile, Darwin Greyhounds racing manager Greg Aldam said it was great to see a local dog victorious.
\”It was a competitive race thanks to all the visitors, a fantastic run by the winner and we had a bumper crowd on course,\” he said.
\”Mighty Marshall might not have the class of some of the other finalists but he\’s a big, strong, honest race dog.
\”He puts himself into races and was there to be beaten, but he kept fighting.\”
The Cup Consolation was won in stunning fashion by the Jamie Hosking-trained Micks Recall, probably the unlucky runner of the series.
The Queensland chaser was lucky to stay on his feet when he got tangled up with a fallen runner on the home turn while making a strong forward move to finish fourth in a roughly-run heat seven nights earlier.
Micks Recall, the hot $1.30 favourite, beat Rob Brown\’s Kakadu Cobber ($66.10) and the Andrew Lasker-prepared Go Quantum ($4.20) in the $3000-to-the-winner Consolation, clocking 31.39s – .31s faster than the 31.70s Mighty Marshall recorded in winning the Cup final two races later.