A BRILLIANT drive by Kerryn Manning paved the way for Blue Coman to score his biggest win to date in Sunday's $14,500 Gunbower Trotters Cup (2630m).
The Greg Norman-trained grey five-year-old proved too slick for his six rivals, taking advantage of the sprint lane to charge past Jackson Square and Well Defined at the top of the straight before going on to record a 2.8-metre win over the fast-finishing Kyvalley Finn, with Well Defined hanging on well for third after starting off 30-metres.
The win continued a good affinity with Gunbower for Manning, who won the pacing cup in 2019 aboard Rupert Of Lincoln and last won the trotters cup in 2004 with Mr Valuable.
She also experienced success in the pacing cup in 2005 with Lightning Jake.
It was the second country cup win this season for Norman, who won the $17,100 Ararat Pacing Cup in February with Zadaka.
The Charlton-based trainer admitted to heading to Gunbower confident of his chances with Blue Coman.
"He had been going good, his last start at Shepparton was pretty good," he said.
"He was slow away, they broke 30 for every quarter and he chased hard and just got beat, finishing third.
"Today (Sunday) it just all fell into place.
"I was hoping he would get away well, drawing one doesn't really suit him, he likes it out a bit wider.
"But there were only two off the front, and it worked out okay.
"He's been a wonderful little horse for us, he doesn't miss a cheque too many times. He's always around the money and when he's not winning, he's usually running a place.
"Occasionally he can be a little naughty and doesn't fire, but those days are rare."
Norman said the Gunbower Trotters Cup had long been on the radar for Blue Coman, who advanced his career record to eight wins and 14 placings from 44 starts for earnings of $60,055.
"I like Gunbower Cup day, but I'd never won one before," he said.
"It's a great day out and they are a good club. They only have their couple of meetings a year, but I'm always glad to support them and out in as many horses as we can."
He's been a wonderful little horse for us, he doesn't miss a cheque too many times.- Greg Norman
The son of Monkey Bones and Idle Fiori will likely back up in this Sunday's $14,500 Stawell Trotters Cup (2600m).
Norman will be hoping for better luck with Blue Coman than he got in the race in 2017 when Al Bundy galloped on the first bend before finishing eighth.
It was the astute trainer's 19th win this season, with the obvious standout being Belladonna Girl's Group 3 success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Mares Free For All at Melton last month.
Rick Reilly enhanced his reputation on Victoria's country cups circuit with a convincing win in the $14,500 Gunbower Pacing Cup (2630m).
The in-form four-year-old gelding scored by 3.2-metres over Imnopumpkin with Forever Yin a further seven-metres away in third place.
It was the second piece of silverware for Rick Reilly since his arrival at the Strathfieldsaye stable of Julie Douglas a few months ago and followed his win in last month's Elmore Pacing Cup at Bendigo.
His Gunbower win made it three victories in a row for the son of Sportswriter and Shard's Fantasy, who won at Melton in between his cup triumphs.
A model of consistency, Rick Reilly has won seven of 11 starts since his arrival from New Zealand and has only once missed a top-three placing in that time.
Sunday's win made it a double for the day for the trainer-driver combination of Douglas and Jack Laugher following their success earlier in the day with Magic Mike in the NR 59 to 69 pace.
It was their second double in as many days following their metropolitan success with Would You Mind and Interest Free at Melton on Saturday night.
Douglas leads the state trainer's premiership standings with 174 wins this season, while 22-year-old Laugher is sitting third on the state driver's premiership list on 180 wins.
Trainer Terry French and driver Tayla French also ended the program with doubles, combining for back-to-back race wins with Sandoval and Joeys Hangover.
It was the sixth win this season for Joeys Hangover, a 32nd training win for Terry French and the 59th driving win for Tayla French.
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