A TERRIFIC run with their newest crop of New Zealand-bred horses continued for Julie and Glenn Douglas at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night following a win with Chase The Hat Trick.
The well-bred five-year-old gelding, by Christian Cullen, contributed to a winning double for the Douglases by taking out the NR 54 to 59 pace in his Australian debut.
His win was quickly followed two races later by that of the six-year-old Junior Feelgood, which capped another big day for the Strathfieldsaye-based stable following a win earlier in the day at Mildura with another former New Zealand horse Khaki Nui.
Three winners for the day extended Julie Douglas' lead at the top of the Victorian trainers' premiership to 12 over six-time winner Emma Stewart.
A brilliant first seven and a half months has yielded 86 winners for Douglas and 106 minor placings.
Chase The Hat Trick, who arrived at the Douglases with three wins and four placings under his belt from 32 starts in New Zealand, started a $3.20 favourite after plenty of late support in betting.
Driven aggressively by Glenn Douglas, the five-year-old began fast to find the lead and was never headed in winning by five-metres, despite showing a tendency to hang.
Douglas, who drove both of the stable's winners at Melton, said he had made a conscious effort to drive Chase The Hat Trick with a bit more vigour than he had been in New Zealand.
"I was confident without being really confident, he's a laid-back, no worries sort of customer, he just does not get excited," he said post-race on Trots Vision.
"The fact (Dealmaker and Mea Culpa) went to war early helped my cause. I wasn't sure if I could get to the front.
"Just when I put him on the track, he wanted to lay in and do all the silly things he hasn't been doing at home. I was keen to get to the pegs.
"I knew he would keep going; my biggest worry was I couldn't get him around the turns, he was laying in that bad.
"He just wanted to get on one rein - I was driving by feel, but I thought if I could kick clear in the straight, they wouldn't run him down.
"My worry was something getting me around the turn, as if they got past him, I don't know how much fight he's got in him. And with him hanging, that was the only time they'd get past him, so we made sure they didn't."
Douglas said the early plan was to progress Chase The Hat Trick through his grades, with a trip to Mildura, where the stable has enjoyed so much success over the years and again this season, on the cards.
Not from New Zealand, but previously trained in New South Wales, Junior Feelgood scored his third win in 12 starts since his transfer to the Douglases in the NR up to 53 event.
His previous two wins were in April and May.
Douglas admitted to heading back to Melton with some confidence following the six-year-old's second at harness racing headquarters earlier in the month.
"I thought his run two starts back was full of merit, the same type of race. That was a wet night and he slugged it out," he said.
"After about the first 400-metres, or a bit more, we just made it an even tempo.
"He's not the quickest horse - we call him him 'the people's horse - the people love him, he's just not the quickest horse.
"He overraces when he gets outside them, but if he can find the pegs and he can relax, he doesn't overrace."
At Mildura, Khaki Nui ($1.30 favourite) made it three-straight wins since joining the Douglas stable from New Zealand, with a victory in the NR 55 to 59 pace.
The five-year-old won at Mildura the previous Friday and on his Australian debut at Shepparton on June 30, boosting his overall record to four wins and five placings from 27 starts.
His win formed part of a driving double for Bendigo-based Laugher, who won earlier in the day on Abstract Art, for local Sunraysia trainer Frank Mercieca.
Bendigo's Alex Ashwood also emerged with a driving double, with wins for Kate Hargreaves on the three-year-old Animado and Heathcote trainer Terry French on Tracer Bullet.
Back-to-back wins for Tracer Bullet gave French four winners for the week following the five-year-old gelding's success at Shepparton last Sunday and wins to Joeys Hangover at Bendigo on Tuesday and Tropical Storm at Echuca on Thursday.
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