Luke Dillon and his mount Zahoo lead the way to win the JTB Electec Services Class 3 Plate over 850 metres at the Gladstone Races on Saturday.
Luke Dillon and his mount Zahoo lead the way to win the JTB Electec Services Class 3 Plate over 850 metres at the Gladstone Races on Saturday. Murray Ware

Imaam blitzes Maiden Plate field

WONDERS never cease to amaze on a racecourse and they were in plentiful supply at Gladstone’s Ferguson Park track on Saturday.

Firstly the very fact that the Ferguson Park track was fit for racing, yet was conductive to almost record times, was in itself a wonderful compliment to the club, given the drenching it had withstood in the weeks preceding.

Track stalwarts Denis Schultz and Bob Lisle, who presented the sandy loam track in such striking condition, were justifiably complimented.

Then speaking of wonders, there was no better example than the freakish winning performance of Monto trainer Mark Hutton’s Imaam, the $2.25 favourite for the Maiden Plate (1000m). Before the race Hutton was by no means over-confident.

“He has never raced on the sand and you don’t know what to expect when that’s the case,” he said.

For certain, none of the above-average crowd on course, let alone trainer Hutton, would have expected what was to unfold with Imaam at the start and during the race.

Imaam seemingly stood flat-footed in the inside barrier stall and came out with an anxious jockey Denis Whitmore about three lengths behind the second last horse.

The pair was a conservative 10 lengths behind the race leaders about 100 metres after the start and their wining chances looked forlorn.

Then to the bewilderment of favourite backers, Imaam had caught the tailenders by the 700 metres and was commencing to weave through the field.

Surely he couldn’t win after all that commotion?

Audaciously, by the 300 metres Imaam, with Whitmore riding like a man inspired, was challenging for the lead.

Astonishingly and as if responding to punters’ coaxing and cheers, Imaam went on with his sustained run to dash clear at the 200 metres and run away for a dashing four lengths win.

Undeterred and revelling in the occasion of his first win in 17 outings, Imaam was far from finished as Whitmore could not pull him up post race.

The pair dashed around the Ferguson Park circuit once more before the hoop could rein Imaam in to a canter and then trot from the home turn down the straight.

Whitmore revealed in a post race interview that Imaam’s barrier gate did not open until the horse forced it to do so thus explaining his drama at the start.

“He actually pushed the gate open and then we were a long last. It is not a nice position to be in on a favourite in a short race,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore confirmed that had Imaam not won he would have given consideration to having the favourite declared a non-runner for not being afforded a fair start.

Denis Schultz’s Zahoo (Luke Dillon, $3.00) signalled he will go through the grades at Ferguson Park following his emphatic win in the Class 3 (850m).

Rockhampton trainer Brian Challacombe’s Regal Mountain (David Simmons, $2.40) went close to breaking the long-held track record of Ivan Walker’s Mannerasca in the opening race, the Class 2 (1194m).

Having his first Gladstone start, Regal Mountain registered 1minute: 11.87 seconds.

Just marginally outside prolific winner Mannerasca’s 1m:11.2 seconds.

Bill Melvin’s Bundaberg mare High Dee (Kayla Cross, $7.00) caused an upset in winning the Parchem Constructions Supplies Open Handicap (1000m).

Eidsvold trainer Bob Murray’s Hot Flushes (Matt Cant) outlasted his rivals by 2.5 lengths in winning the Top Produce Class B (1517m).



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