Racing: Injured Justice has plan B for Interdoms

By Michael Guerin

Smoken Up (10, centre) driven by Lance Justice, wins last year's series at Alexandra Park but is then disqualified. Photo / Natalie Slade
Smoken Up (10, centre) driven by Lance Justice, wins last year's series at Alexandra Park but is then disqualified. Photo / Natalie Slade

Injured reinsman Lance Justice has called in his brother John to help him seek Interdominion revenge but admits he may still sack him for the final.

Justice has been in a wheelchair with two broken legs since a race fall at Melton in December and is slowly losing his battle to partner Smoken Up in the Interdom pacing series which starts in Perth on February 17.

In his absence his brother John partnered Smoken Up to a mind-boggling victory at Melton on Saturday night, one which should have made him favourite for the series.

Smoken Up rated 1:51.1 for the 1720m mobile event, smashing the Melton track record by 1.4 seconds even though he was three wide for over half the race.

It was a crushing reminder of his strength when driven like a bulldozer but remarkably bookmakers on both sides of the Tasman still have I'm Themightyquinn as the favourite for the series.

The pair have some dramatic Interdom history, with Smoken Up having won last year's series at Alexandra Park only to lose it to I'm Themightyquinn because of a positive drug test. That decision has been appealed so the outcome of last year's final won't be known until well after this year's series is completed.

One thing is for certain, though, the pair and Auckland Reactor now dominate the markets on the series.

I'm Themightyquinn is the $3 favourite with the New Zealand TAB, with Smoken Up at $4 and Auckland Reactor at $5.

But Lance Justice thinks the addition of brother John could be a huge plus heading into the series.

"I know how hard this horse has to be driven and John is brave enough to drive him that way," said Justice.

"We saw that on Saturday night and that is why I think he should drive him at the Inters.

"It will be up to the owners in the end but John is the man for the job."

But brotherly love extends only so far and if Lance is able to drive Smoken Up in the March 2 final he will, even if he hasn't driven in a race for over two months. "I am still aiming to be there driving him in the series at some stage," he told the Herald.

"And if that means I come into the final to drive him cold I will do that.

"I know him well enough to go straight into the final on him and John would understand that."

The Perth series is shaping as a stunner, after earlier looking like it could have fizzled.

I'm Themightyquinn has been stunning since returning home, including a blistering last-start win in the Fremantle Cup.

Smoken Up is in career best form and the rejuvenation of Auckland Reactor adds plenty of Kiwi interest and some x-factor in the series.

Add in Mr Feelgood, a greatly improved Raglan, some of the local West Australian speedsters and the unusual format of the series and it will be nothing if not interesting.

The series starts on Friday week but the pacers back up just three days later for the second round of heats on a Monday night.

Then there is a final round of heats four days later with a week break to the final, which is held the same night Auckland Cup week starts.

That will test the resolve of those who see themselves as true racing fans, with the Interdominion Final to be run in the early hours of what will be Derby Day at Ellerslie.

- NZ Herald

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