Moving Target wins ‘shootout’
By Mike Hill
ON paper, it looked a match-race in two and betting suggested the same with punters split between rival chasers Moving Target ($2.30) and Kilcullen ($2.40).
It was the first time the talented pair had clashed and they went into last month’s $5250 TAB Young Guns Final (380m) at Townsville as the fastest short-course sprinters racing in North Queensland.
In recent months they have challenged the 380m track record, coming so close to breaking Rocket’s Magic’s time of 21.53s – Moving Target equalled the mark at his fourth race start in late February, while Kilcullen clocked 21.54s twice in a four-race winning streak leading into the feature final.
But only one could win and the lightly-raced Michael Hickmott-trained Moving Target proved dominant, aided by the inside box.
After another tardy start, in which he was one of the last to leave the boxes, the black chaser (Allen Deed-Piper Road ) mustered speed quickly and pushed forward along the rails, taking control before the turn with Kilcullen two lengths off the pace.
The Hickmott youngster – he’s just turned two – was strong to the line, beating the Harold Hovi-prepared Kilcullen by three- and-a-half lengths. Jay Schafer’s Natty’s Gone ($23) was another four lengths away third.
Kilcullen was chasing his fifth win in a row.
The brindle sprinter (Cutting Edge-Lemon Sunrise) has been in brilliant form since joining Hovi’s Gumlu kennels from Tasmania in late March.
From 12 NQ starts he has chalked up six wins and five seconds, taking is career record to 22: 8-6-3.
Moving Target, owned by Townsville identity Phil Thompson, clocked a smart 21.62s – the eighth time he has broken 22s for the journey – and the victory took his record to seven wins and four minor placings from just 12 starts.
Hickmott said he wasn’t overly confident going into the final after the black sprinter’s disappointing third in his heat seven nights earlier.
“Although that run was his first in six weeks after an injury setback I was hoping for better,” he said.
“However, the run obviously did him good and we got the trophy.”
An added bonus for the Bluewater-based trainer was that Moving Target had ‘pulled up really good’ after the win.
“I’m really happy with the way he is this morning,” he said.
Hickmott admitted that connections had recently refused a substantial offer for the dog.
“We were offered good money for him a couple of weeks back but Phil (Thompson, owner) said ‘no’,” the trainer said.
“Phil said he’s waited a long time to get a good dog and he wants to keep racing him.”
Hickmott said he was still considering the possibility of sending the dog south for a campaign.
“We’ll be talking about future plans in coming weeks,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zabdon Ferrari’s Townsville 498m track record of 28.33s also came under threat.
The Clarry Wilcox-trained Fireball Sam clocked a scintillating 28.34s with a runaway 11-and-a-quarter lengths victory in late May.