Strathfieldsaye’s Mitchell Hocking was left exhausted yet elated after blitzing the field to win the Clarrie Smith $1000 Open 400m Handicap final at the Maryborough Highland Gathering yesterday.
The 17-year-old ran a dominant race from the 26m mark, taking the lead around the final turn before accelerating away from his opponents down the Princes Park home straight to win by about 20m.
“The plan was to try and run like I did in the heat,” Hocking said.
“Around the bend I tried to run as hard as I could, I tried to do that in the final and it worked out for me.”
Hocking gave his all in his heat and was left vomiting afterwards.
But the rising star found something extra in the final and shocked himself by how big a gap he opened on his competitors.
Hocking ran the 400m in 46.15, almost two seconds quicker than runner-up Mitchell Palmer (48.06).
It was only .4 of a second quicker than his heat time, showing how hard Hocking pushed in the trying 30-degree conditions.
“In the end I was (surprised by the winning margin), I thought it would have been closer in the final but I managed to get away from them. I’m gone, I’ve got nothing left,” Hocking said.
The victory in front of a big group of family, coaches and friends was Hocking’s second at Maryborough in his third visit to the Gathering.
“I won the novice 400m two years ago. This feels great because it’s an open final,” he said.
Hocking is just one Maryborough Highland Gathering win away from equalling the tally of his father Steve, who won two 800m finals and a 1600m final at Maryborough in his racing career.
Hocking’s win rounded out a top day for his family after his mother, Kerrieanne, was runner-up in the veteran’s 1600m race earlier in the day.