Armstrong trainer Tim O’Brien produced the “new look” trotter Big Jack Hammer after a seven-month absence from the racetrack, for an impressive first-up victory at Melton last Friday night.
Big Jack had gone under the surgeon’s knife during the summer for the ultimate gear change and the former stallion, now 5yo gelding, led them a merry dance over the 2240 metre journey.
O’Brien had prepared his stable newcomer with solid trials at Ararat and Maryborough leading into the first up assignment and the well supported $3.20 second favourite, with driver Chris Alford in the sulky, always looked the winner, provided he maintained his gait.
Big Jack Hammer previously raced for the Geoff Webster team and displayed above average ability for owner Dom Martello during his two and three-year-old seasons, notching up victories in the Home Grown Classic at Melton and South Australia Trotters Derby.
As a four-year-old, Big Jack Hammer competed admirably in both the Vicbred & Breeders Crown series before relocating to the Sydney stables of Craig Cross.
After four ordinary efforts at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, Martello made the big call then sent the "not so big" Jack, to O'Brien.
Big Jack Hammer has drawn gate 10 in the third event at Melton tomorrow night.
Great Western trainer-driver Kerryn Manning also enjoyed a spot on Friday night in the Melton winner’s circle, with the smart 5yo gelding Stroke Of Luck.
The former New Zealander led all the way over the 1720 metre sprint trip to score by three metres in a rate of 1:56.2.
Stroke Of Luck was the winner of six races before crossing the ditch for the Butterworth Racing Syndicate and won for Manning at Ballarat and St Arnaud.
The pacer resumed from a spell recently and finished a close second to Jilliby Bandit in a hot race at Maryborough.
Friday's success took Stroke Of Luck's record to 35 starts, for nine wins, 11 minor placings and a bank of $110,263.
The Dunn family have made Mildura their happy hunting ground in recent years and they notched up another Sunraysia victory on Friday afternoon with their 4yo gelding Regardless.
Ararat reinswoman Denbeigh Wade took the reins and rated her charge to perfection at the head of affairs after crossing to the pegs from gate four. After a moderate mid-race half in 62 seconds, Wade gradually upped the tempo with Regardless and the gelding responded with a final quarter in 28.8 seconds to score untouched.
Last return: $11.40 Warracknabeal gallops. Balance: $589.35. Best bet: R3 No 10 Samara Fury $4 each way. Value bet: R5 No 6 Longtan Cassanova $3 each way. Multi bet: R7 quinella No 9 with nos. 1,3,4,5,6 spend $6.