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    Clash of the Titans Clash of the Titans

    PETRACCA - Photo HRV

    ONE of the great prizes in Victorian harness racing is set for a heavyweight training showdown after Mark and Nathan Purdon’s hope sent a... Clash of the Titans

    ONE of the great prizes in Victorian harness racing is set for a heavyweight training showdown after Mark and Nathan Purdon’s hope sent a shot across the Tasman.

    New Zealand trained The Real Sherlock crashed the line to win the second Woodland Stud Victoria Derby heat at Melton Entertainment Park, joining Emma Stewart’s heat one winner Petracca in springboarding into next Saturday’s $200,000 final a winner.

    In doing so reinsman Greg Sugars and The Real Sherlock edged out Stewart runners Perfect Class and short-priced favourite The Lost Storm, transforming the three-year-old Group 1 series.

    “(The Real Sherlock’s) up to the task, but it’s a high-quality field that’s going to be assembled next week, so barrier draw and luck in running will be very crucial as always,” Sugars told TrotsVision.

    The barrier draw will be staged from 9am Tuesday on Sky Racing amid a special edition of The Morning Line, with the 12 starters finalised at Melton courtesy of the first six home in each of the heats.

    The first of them was largely as expected, with Petracca validating his $1.08 favourtism with a front-running win, albeit with reinsman Mark Pitt having to roll for much of the first lap before crossing to the front ahead of Final Collect.

    Pitt told TrotsVision he had to work a bit harder than expected to find the lead, having to call on Petracca to advance in an 83.5-second lead time.

    “I thought they might have wanted to take a trail on him,” Pitt said. “I didn’t want to get in the early burn if they were going to burn hard. I elected just to roll on forward and then press on from there.”

    Once in front Pitt was able to control the pace, with consecutive 32-second quarters ensuring there’d be plenty in the tank in the run to the line, when he cleared out for a five-metre win in a 26.2-second last quarter.

    “I just didn’t want to kill him either leading into next week, that’s his grand final, so just a nice easy run tonight and he’ll be cherry ripe for next week,” Pitt said.

    The Captaintreacherous three-year-old out of brilliant mare Lovelist, who also gave us Treachery, Petracca was joined in qualifying for the final by placegetters Celebrity Royal (Stewart/Zac Chappenden) and Final Collect (Leilani Justice/Jackie Barker), while Rosanna Rebel, Louie Lou I and Our Vincent Van Gogh also advanced for their connections.

    The final field was then set a tick over 30 minutes later with the running of the second heat, with betting again dominated by a big name Stewart runner.

    However, The Lost Storm was outpointed late by The Real Sherlock and Perfect Class, who sat second and first in the breeze outside the short-priced race favourite in the faster of the two heats.

    Sugars and The Real Sherlock ripped home in a 25.89-second final quarter, the night’s quickest, which produced a third victory in four starts since the Kiwi landed in Australia.

    “I knew I had a horse that was full of running and travelling well, and we knew how fast he is,” Sugars saiid.

    “It’s surprising looking at the timing board, it didn’t feel like it was that fast a race to be honest, so, no, in the run I wasn’t confident I could run past them but I thought I would get close.”

    The Vincent gelding out of After Party won by a half-neck from Perfect Class (Stewart/Kerryn Manning), while The Lost Storm was four metres back in third and examined by vets post-race.

    Captains Knock, Captain Hammerhead and Oliver Dan completed the qualifiers, while Dukes Choice was the quickest seventh-placed runner to earn the emergency spot.

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