Little Punga pulls off biggest win yet
Long shot Little Punga upstaged his more fancied rivals to deliver Albany trainer Mark Westthorp an emotional win in the $23,000 Skyracing.TV Provincial Championships Series Heat (1230m) at Percy Spencer Racecourse on Sunday.
Starting a $67 chance on the tote, Little Punga was fired out of the gates by jockey Renee Forrest to sit up on speed and then fought on gamely in the home straight to hit the front inside the final 100m.
The six-year-old was urged to the line by Forrest to score the best win of his career, edging out Lady Stingray by half a length while leader Force Element was close-up in third, 0.8 lengths away.
The result was a big upset after raging $1.60 favourite Three Secrets was scratched behind the barriers after being found with lameness to the off-fore, while fancied runner Cold As Cold was well beaten in fourth place and Count Kala was seventh across the line.
Westthorp was thrilled with the win and said he was now eyeing the $70,000 series final over 1400m at Ascot on May 25 with Little Punga.
“To beat that field is unbelievable,” he said. “We are over the moon and pushing forward.
“If we can, I’d like to take him up and run him in Perth for the final.
“I knew he was in good physical condition.
“He had been eating up well and was full of himself at home.
“After that run in Pingrup, which was a lead-up race, he’s back to his best and the 1230m really suited.”
Little Punga finished fourth in Pingrup last start but has now won two races in the Great Southern this preparation. Earlier in the day, exciting three-year-old Altani spanked her rivals in the USG Boral Maiden (1230m), winning by 31/2 lengths.
At only her second career start, Altani was given a perfect ride by hoop Tayla Stone to lead all the way and deliver a slashing performance for trainer Darren McAuliffe.
Visiting mare Scenic Journey also broke her maiden status in the opener for the Peter and Matt Giadresco team.
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