A SPLENDID week for Strathfieldsaye trainer Julie Douglas and stable driver Jack Laugher reached its zenith at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
Douglas, the state's leading trainer at the moment and the first to hit 50 wins this season, and Laugher, arguably Victoria's most in-form driver, combined for a fantastic double at harness racing headquarters.
The pair struck early with a second straight Melton win for Captain Confetti in the opening race, before Laugher was at his brilliant best in steering Shortys Mate to victory towards the end of the program.
Another metro double gave Douglas six winners for the week, underlined by an earlier double at Mildura on Wednesday night with Shaken Sands and Dont Write Me Off.
For Laugher, his week's tally stood at eight wins - five of them for the Douglas stable.
The 23-year-old also drove outside winners for Reece Moore at Mildura aboard Yoursnmine, giving him a treble for the night, Fred Spiteri at Geelong (Normandy Belle) on Thursday and Brittany O'Brien at Maryborough on Friday (Relentless Me).
Despite a lengthy delay to the start of his 2022 season, Laugher has quickly raced to 38 wins, which has him placed fifth in the state driver's premiership.
His Melton double was clinched with a superb drive on Shortys Mate, who sat one back behind the leader Love Ina Chevy before bursting through in the sprint lane for a 4.3-metre win over Major Manbar, for Sutton Grange trainer Ross Graham.
Speaking on TrotsVision, Laugher conceded it was never his intention to be seated behind the leader in transit.
"Definitely not. Everything I was driving tonight had a chance if they got a bit of luck and he got all the luck we needed," he said.
"The race was run perfectly to suit him.
"I think he (Shortys Mate) went to Luke McCarthy for a fair while at Menangle and then he went to the Queensland camp for a little bit and he found his way back (to the Douglases).
"He's been enjoying it since he's come back, that's for sure.
"He's an extremely fast horse and has a good turn of foot, but you just have to save him for that one run."
It was career win number 19 for the son of Art Major out of the mare Shortys Girl from 117 starts and pushed him over the $200,000 mark in earnings.
The now nine-year-old has won twice this season at Melton.
His win on February 5 broke an almost 10-month drought between victories.
READ MORE: Shortys mate pips stablemate for Melton win
While Charlton youngster Ryan Sanderson took the winning drive on Captain Confetti the previous week at Melton, Laugher was back in the sulky for the four-year-old gelding's eighth career win at start number 39.
The former New Zealander joined the Douglas stable in July last year and has since won seven races and been placed 10 times in 26 starts.
He now has two wins apiece at Melton, Mildura and Swan Hill.
The Douglas stable quinellad the race with Major Watson, driven by Ellen Tormey, who finished 1.65-metres from his stable-mate.
The same trainer-driver combination nabbed another second in the claimers race with stable favourite Bernie Winkle behind Sirletic (David and Josh Aiken).
All winners driven by Jack Laugher, except Marsden Heights (Luke Dunne).
Shepparton (Tuesday): Marsden Heights.
Mildura: Shaken Sands; Dont Write Me Off.
Geelong (Thursday): Spot On.
Melton (Saturday): Captain Confetti; Shortys Mate.
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