Eyre I Come upsets in Group Three Summer FFA

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Twelve months ago the prospect of Eyre I Come and Master Lavros competing in a Group Three trot, let alone finishing first and third, was unimaginable.

Veterinary advice suggested both injury-plagued trotters wouldn’t race again, after Master Lavros suffered a hind suspensory problem 14 months ago, and Eyre I Come had further knee issues a year ago.

But with the right care and attention, the Mark Jones-trained squaregaiters have clawed their way back.

Eyre I Come, notched his eighth win and his first Group Three success at Addington on Friday night.

At Addington on Friday, February 17, Eyre I Come exceeded expectations with his career highlight, winning the $23,000 Teltrac Communications Ltd Summer Trotting Free-For-All.

From two on the second row and again superbly driven by this seasonal driving centurion Blair Orange, Eyre I Come, ended up with a two and three back trailing spot on the outer.

He loomed up turning for home and looked set for a decisive win but peaked on his run over the final 50m, allowing Everbody Knows, with an inside run, and front-running Master Lavros to come back at him near the line.

However, Eyre I Come did enough, holding by a head for his third win in six starts since winning first-up for nine months at Addington in late November.

It was a big scalp for Eyre I Come in his first run in top free-for-all company against the likes of Master Lavros and beaten favourite Marcoola (parked).

Co-owner Grant Hatton, who co-races the 6YO Majestic Son gelding with Melbourne owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, was delighted with the surprise victory.

The mobile 1950m trip probably suited Eyre I Come, coming off a good sit, but it was obvious at the finish he’d had enough, getting rocky in his gait, and breaking stride after the line.

But the free-for-all “newbie” got the job done for his eighth win in 34 lifetime starts.

Trainer Mark Jones, driving Master Lavros, was pleased for connections Eyre I Come could snare another good win, in a 1:58.9 rate for the 1950m.

He was also satisfied with the run of Master Lavros, who kept fighting after repelling a stern challenge for the front-end from Clint Ford (Marcoola).

However, the former Trotter of the Year was again down on his former best. He’ll now have a 10-day break to freshen.

Both the Overport Lodge trotters will try to be as good as they can be for the $80,000 NZ Trotting Championship at Addington on April 7.

Meanwhile, 3YO filly stablemate Delightful Memphis again had to settle for second to the All Stars filly Spanish Armada, this time in Friday’s $146,250 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 3YO Fillies Final.

Both fillies were coming in fresh after competing at Auckland in late December.

Delightful Memphis, without a lead-up trial or workout since Auckland, held the early lead but driver Blair Orange, knowing she wasn’t quite at her best, was happy to trail their arch-rival when they came calling around the first turn.

From there, it was a case of the two top rated fillies having yet another quinella all parcelled up.

Spanish Armada held by 1 3/4 lengths to claim the $93,000 winner’s cheque over Delightful Memphis, who earned a nice $26,325 for second.

The others in the five horse field were headed by Sacred Angel, a further 3 1/2 lengths away.

The winner rated 1:57.9 for the mobile 1950m in the slushy conditions, quickening over her last 800m in 55.5s and the final 400m in 27s.

Spanish Armada and Delightful Memphis have now quinellaed their last five starts and run eight quinellas overall in their two and three-year-old racing.

Spanish Armada holds the advantage in their clashes, finishing seven times ahead of Delightful Memphis.

The two times Delightful Memphis has finished in front of Spanish Armada was in a Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Heat on December 9, and also in the Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond last June, when Delightful Memphis finished second to Partyon, with Spanish Armada third.