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19/07/02 HOY Preview: Sprint Award Set for a Photo Finish
The Newmarket Handicap at Flemington provided the most exciting finish of the current racing season when a wall of horses hit the line locked together in the $752,500 feature.

On Tuesday week the connections of Australia's leading sprinters will be having another race, but their chargers will not be with them.

One of the sprinters who shone during a great season will be crowned as the country's best at this year's Australian Racing Champions night at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.

Can Falvelon make it two straight sprinting awards? Will Mistegic's consistency be rewarded? Were two Group One wins enough for Sudurka? Can the youngster North Boy take it? Or will the recently retired Show a Heart bow out of racing in the best possible way?

0719falvelon.jpg (14492 bytes)All of these questions will be answered when the Thoroughbred Executive Travel Champion Sprinter is announced next Tuesday night.

Last year Falvelon was a unanimous winner of the award and he is again in contention in 2002. In the past season Falvelon only won two races from his eight starts, but during the same period he also netted five minor placings.

Falvelon, who's trained by the Eagle Farm based Danny Bougoure, scored his best win in the year in Hong Kong. He downed a field which contained champions from around the world, including the universe's top ranked speedster.

In a driving finish at Sha Tin in the A$1.7 million feature Damien Oliver and Falvelon edged out Morluc in a thrilling finish after the 1000 metre dash. The other Australian representative Century Kid was fourth.

The five-year-old son of Alannon scored a popular home town win when he downed Show a Heart and Lord Essex in the Doomben 10,000 in May and then went desperately close to taking the feature sprinting Queensland double.

In the Stradbroke Handicap the entire chased hard but failed to grab another home town hero Show a Heart. A mere half neck separated the pair at the end of the 1400 metre event.

During the season Falvelon also placed in the Manikato Stakes (third), Schillaci Stakes (third), Emirates Classic (photo finish second), Wyn Estate Cup (neck second) and the Stradbroke Handicap.

r8mistegic.jpg (19383 bytes)Winning the prize as Australia's most consistent sprinter for the season is a clear cut result - it has to be the Lee Curtis trained three-year-old Mistegic.

When he scored a shock win at 40/1 in the San Domenico Stakes at Kensington when resuming, it was a sign of things to come.

At his following ten starts before being spelled the gelding was only unplaced once, on that occasion finishing fourth and beating home talented gallopers including Falvelon and North Boy.

Wins in the Schillaci Stakes and Schweppes Stakes were later in the season matched by a dashing win in the Group One The Galaxy at Randwick.

During the season he also placed in the Challenge Stakes (beaten a long neck), Lightning Stakes (half length), Oakleigh Plate (length), Newmarket Handicap (half head), Roman Consul Stakes (three quarters of a length) and Starlight Stakes (half length).

r1northboy.jpg (14355 bytes)Joining Mistegic as a three-year-old with a genuine chance of knocking off the older horses in the award is the Tony McEvoy trained son of Rory's Jester, North Boy.

The youngster started off the season in great form by winning the listed Vain Stakes and the Group Two Ascot Vale Stakes. He scored two other wins later in the season.

Among his excellent non-winning efforts was a photo finish second in the Newmarket Handicap, a short head second in the L'oreal Plate and a long neck third in the Australia Stakes to Toledo and Show a Heart.

North Boy's best effort for the season was clearly his runaway win in the Krisflyer Sprint at Group Three level in Singapore. With Greg Childs in the saddle the gelding dashed away for a runaway, track record breaking win. Toledo was fifth.

r8showaheart.jpg (16964 bytes)One of Queensland's other favourite sons is the recently retired entire Show a Heart. Trained by the Eagle Farm based Barry Miller he was a dual Group One winner during the season.

A winner of the Toorak Handicap in October the son of Brave Warrior scored an emotional win when he came with a perfectly timed run to edge out Falvelon in the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane. The Stradbroke was his last start before being retired to Glenlogan Park Stud, where he'll be serving his first mares this spring.

His Stradbroke win followed a gutsy second to Falvelon in the Doomben 10,000 after he covered extra ground from a wide barrier. His other high class effort was when he ran a narrow second to Toledo (beating North Boy) in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley.

r8sudurka.jpg (13033 bytes)The Brian Mayfield-Smith trained Sudurka, a five-year-old recently retired son of Perugino, was the only galloper to win two Group One races in the sprinting range.

His only two wins for the season came in the Melbourne Group One double of the Salinger Stakes at Flemington in November and the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in February.

The gelding rounded out his eight win career by running a 0.7 length seventh in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, a race won by his stablemate Rubitano.

For profiles on the leading contenders click here.

My vote went to Mistegic.

PICS - Quentin Lang.

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