RAIDERS took the overall honours, but at least one local provided plenty of resistance during the opening round of the Inter Dominion at Gloucester Park tonight.
As predicted defending champion Lennytheshark and his stablemate Hectorjayjay proved too classy in their heats, justifying their short odds for the series.
Heading into the qualifiers Hectorjayjay was the $2.70 favourite to win the $1.1million Final on December 9, with Lennytheshark on the second line of betting at $3.20.
Lennytheshark kick-started his title defence by outstaying his rivals with Chris Alford in the cart.
Despite racing in the ‘death seat’, the son of Four Starzzz Shark powered his way to a strong victory from Beaudiend Boaz and Our Jimmy Johnstone.
Hectorjayjay, driven by trainer David Aiken’s son Josh, the led throughout from barrier eight to account for Run Oneover and Franco Nelson.
As impressive as the Victorians were, Bettors Fire made it clear the Championship is far from a two-horse affair.
Trained and driven by Kyle Harper, Bettors Fire was untroubled to lead from barrier three before proving too slick for Smolda and John Of Arc.
“He had a good draw, which I was determined to make the most of,” Harper said. “Once he got to the front he was always going to be hard to run down.
“I was very pleased with the way he found the line. He felt terrific throughout and did it quite well.”
Like his Inter Dominion opponents, Bettors Fire will head to Bunbury for the second round of heats on Tuesday night, with Harper stating the son of Bettors Delight will be kept fresh ahead of the qualifier.
Fields for the Bunbury heats are due to be released this morning.
- PAUL COURTS