Crook clings to slim lead

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - PETER STA­PLES

CONOR Crook man­aged to hold on to his slen­der lead in the Young­bloods Chal­lenge se­ries for novice drivers af­ter snar­ing a mi­nor plac­ing from the two heats run at El­wick yes­ter­day.

Crook ac­crued 22 points from the first round of heats in Devon­port last Sun­day to take a three-point lead into yes­ter­day’s two rounds.

He part­nered Witch Mas­ter to fourth place in heat three and his third place aboard Frankie Fal­zoni for nine points was enough to keep him on top of the points ta­ble with 38.

Crook leads by a point from Troy McDon­ald with Lach­lan Dakin six points adrift.

Dakin stayed in the hunt for the ti­tle by part­ner­ing Twenty Two Karat to an all-the-way win in the first heat at El­wick yes­ter­day.

The Bianca Heenan-trained mare stepped straight to the front from gate two and Dakin highly rates the fouryear-old.

Twenty Two Karat led com­fort­ably to the home turn where Dakin al­lowed her more rein and she slipped well clear and went on to score by al­most 8m from Street­side Clas­sic (Ge­or­gia Hay­ward) with Rock­n­roll Dancer (Wade Rat­tray) a sim­i­lar mar­gin away in third.

McDon­ald pow­ered his way into sec­ond place over­all cour­tesy of a clever drive aboard race favourite Couta Rocks in the fourth heat.

Couta Rocks be­gan well from gate four but was un­able to cross so McDon­ald eased out of the ac­tion and even­tu­ally al­lowed his charge to creep into the race.

Once bal­anced in the home straight, Couta Rocks forged clear and went on to de­feat Goggo Gee Gee (Sa­man­tha Gan­gell) and Frankie Fal­zoni (Crook).

McDon­ald earned six points for fin­ish­ing fifth aboard Krafty Boy in heat three.

The fi­nal two rounds of the se­ries will be held in Launceston next Fri­day. The win­ner is de­ter­mined on a point-score ba­sis with 16 points al­lo­cated for first, 12 for sec­ond, nine for third, seven for fourth and six for fifth, re­duc­ing by one through to last place.

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