Racing: Christen Me runs scorching 1:50.5 in Chariots Of Fire

By Michael Guerin

Trainer Cran Dalgety faces a million-dollar decision with the new prince of pacing.

And there will be plenty of trainers Australasia-wide hoping Dalgety chooses to keep his flying pacer Christen Me away from them.

The 4-year-old stamped himself the most exciting power pacer in New Zealand with a crushing win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire in Sydney yesterday.

A beautiful drive from Dexter Dunn saw Christen Me miss the early fireworks then stride up to sit parked and control the race at the 700m mark. That gave him the tactical advantage over fellow Kiwi pacer Smolda and Christen Me held him easily in a stunning 1:50.5 mile.

Dunn was adamant Christen Me could have become only the second pacer to break 1:50 for the mile in the Southern Hemisphere had he asked him to.

"He was actually flicking his ears coming up the straight, he did it easily," said Dunn.

That confidence might be enough for Dalgety to chance his hand against the big boys of pacing in the A$750,000 ($928,000) Miracle Mile in April, rather than returning home for the Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park the same weekend.

While the Miracle Mile is often the hardest sprint race in Australasia, that may not be the case this season.

I'm Themightyquinn is no certainty to be there and Smoken Up is under an injury cloud.

Mah Sish is likely to head to the paddock while Caribbean Blaster was disappointing yesterday so few of the open class horses would seem to be capable of pacing much faster than Christen Me's 1:50.5 yesterday.

"I hadn't really thought about the Miracle Mile until today," said Dalgety.

"But I suppose we have to now. You sort of think of the Mile being for the big bangers but not many of them go faster than 1:50.5 do they?"

And the Taylor Mile may be no easier, with local stars like Terror To Love, Gold Ace and Bettor Cover Lover chances to stay in New Zealand for that instead of returning to Australia, where they have been largely luckless.

Regardless of where he heads in April, Christen Me now challenges Smolda as the next big thing in New Zealand pacing and is looks a rarity for a son of Christian Cullen - a speed machine who doesn't mind doing it tough.

He was the only New Zealand-trained success on the day, which was largely disappointing for the Kiwis.

His stablemate Bit Of A Legend was a solid third in the NSW Derby, while Sovereignty was a brave second in the $200,000 trot, where Stig cost himself likely victory by galloping at the 400m after trotting roughly.

Bettor Cover Lover never got into the Ladyship Stakes, while favourite Rozelski was poor in the NSW Oaks.

But many of the group one winners were Kiwi bred, including I'm Themightyquinn, Christen Me, Itz Nosurprisesthere (NSW Oaks), Our Sixpence (Ladyship), Gaius Caesar (Free-For-All) and former Cambridge battler Keysone Del in the trot.

- NZ Herald

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