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Not since Dictation took nearly 10 seconds off the record for winning the Dominion Handicap has there been such a pronounced improvement in time as the one Tobago posted. In warm, near perfect weather conditions, and on a track tailored to meet such accomplishments, Tobago came through 3200m in 4:08.4. To do this, he was not alone at the end of the $150,000 TV3 Network Dominion Handicap.

Those who pressed him without mercy were Directorship, who was just a nose from taking $97,500 and old Troppo, the veteran of 117 starts, who looked in for the kill 50 metres from the finish. Tobago and Directorship had the best trips of all. Both were in midfield on the outer, and neither were used to the extent of Drott Moss and Idle Scott, who were baked before the turn after spending a great deal of energy making their runs in the middle stages. While the two northerners battled so hard to gain a toehold in the race, Troppo remained back and was still almost last at the 500 metres. By then the cracks had started to appear and first Tobago, then Directorship moved to open them up. Once the pair drew clear, the table seemed set, until Troppo began to thread his way after them, going at what seemed a winning rate. But he set his compass on the rail and the angle of this passage over the last 50 metres might have cost him a closer placing. As it was, he probably came up short just a few strides from the finish, but added to the chorus of an exciting end to a record race. The favourite Tyron Scottie ran 7th after leading at the 2000m and trailing at the 1400m. "He felt uncomfortable after a furlong," said driver Patrick O'Reilly jun.

When Dictation won the Dominion in 1950, he recorded 4:16.6. The previous best then was the 4:26.2 set by Wrackler in 1932. Before Tobago's 4:08.4, the record was Scotch Tar's 1978 4:11.6, which, when record changes are usually measured nowdays in 10ths, is quite a remarkable reduction. Of course, Tobago always had a time like this in him. Earlier this season, he became the first trotter in New Zealand to run a mile in less than 2:00, which he did at Ashburton in 1:59.3.

Tobago is a seven-year-old son of Game Pride and Ann's Globe, a mare by Johnny Globe. He is small but compact; a bay of good colour. His mother was raced by Harold and Joan Jenkins, the parents of Tobago's present owners, Ray Jenkins and his sister Diane Kean. The senior Jenkins raced Our Jimmy from Bob Young's stable when he finished fourth in the Dominion Handicap won by Min Scott in 1963. Ann's Globe was tried as a pacer by Les Norman, but it wasn't until she entered the stable of Arthur and Maurice Skinner and switched to trotting that she revealed ability. "I think they had only had her about six weeks when she won at Roxburgh for Henry Skinner," said Ray. Ann's Globe went on to win six races, including two in Canterbury when trained by Jack Carmichael. On retiring, the Jenkins gave the mare to Ray and Diane for breeding. "It's a real family thing with us. They are getting on, and they probably thought we are a bit more up with the breeding now," he said.

"The thing with Tobago is that he just didn't stop...he could just keep on going. I put that down to the Johnny Globe blood coming through...they've got the guts. With Tobago now, we'll go for it. He'll race at Auckland next and there's the $100,000 bonus if he wins either two of the Inter-Dominion Grand Final, the National Trot or the Rowe Cup this season," he said.

Ann's Globe is not in foal, and it is very unlikely the two partners will use her this season. "We are considering lending her out, but we can't say to just who at the moment," said Ray. Among the mares being sent to stud by the family this season are Montego (Sir Dalrae-Ann's Globe), Globe Pride, Blue Nun (dam of French Wine) and Beat The Freeze, the latter three all booked to Chiola Hanover.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly

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